Potemkin Village of Peace

First of all I want to start with a definition of fraud:


A gleaning from online dictionaries:

Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain, a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities, intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value

The seriousness of practicing it is described in the Business Dictionary:


Act or course of deception, an intentional concealment, omission, or perversion of truth, to (1) gain unlawful or unfair advantage, (2) induce another to part with some valuable item or surrender a legal right, or (3) inflict injury in some manner. Willful fraud is a criminal offense which calls for severe penalties, and its prosecution and punishment (like that of a murder) is not bound by the statute of limitations.

I will yet again supply the facts, for which I had been doing from 2007 with the article on the supposed peace making school of the Custody of the Holy Land, the Magnificat School of Music, and let the readers be the judges.

Unfortunately, I do not have the clout and expensive PR channels of the Church so there is no comparison of a few articles questioning the misleading, shameless self-promotion of the school for about 15 years or so.  The fact that it has been a cash cow yielding golden milk year after year is not reason to put the brakes on feeding that bloated animal.


One can say, your word is as good as theirs. However, there are hard facts, circumstantial evidence, that anyone with a smidgen of intelligence can figure out that there is something very screwy about their claims of making peace in a nearly homogeneous student body of Palestinian Arabs.  The rare Israeli Jew who might study there can be counted on the fingers of one hand for all the years they have been in existence.  There are Moslem students among the Christians who are then broken down into sects by them as though this were significant. It is NOT.

Sorry, but these are the same Palestinians who go to normal schools together every day and even identify politically. One doesn’t need to make peace between them. If there are any barriers, they are artificial ones made by the PR factory. As for teachers, the non-Palestinians are mainly nominal Christians (or atheists) from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Israel en masse in the 1990’s.

As for commonsense deduction, how should students learn to behave when the propaganda is not exactly honest? Do they learn that scrupulous attention to the truth is uppermost, for at least in the past, truth and beauty were supposed to go together? Or do they learn cynicism and sucking up to authority to get scholarships and perks like trips abroad? Do they learn that disrespecting or even denouncing teachers who do not toe the party line will get them extra points? Even if they do not become corrupted (hardly possible) the environment supports such behavior even tacitly, since it comes from the top, how can one dismiss lying as a means to get what you want?  How demoralizing!

The last piano competition in March is a case in point that contradicts every claim of peacemaking from year one in that place. No Israeli Jews are admitted unless they study in a Palestinian music school! Where will we find all these students? At the Magnificat? Again they are as numerous as hen’s teeth. Is this some kind of joke? Is this cocking a snook at the public who will donate money anyway because you said you are an “enchanting world” of coexistence? It’s amazing all the BS that can be dreamed up about the place. If you repeat lies over and over again and if enough people say them, it becomes truth? No, it doesn’t!

Their Nikolaus de la Flüe Piano Competition held in March is just an example of the self-protectiveness of keeping the money close. There were hardly any competitors even from their own school, about 2 or 3 in each category.  Of course, the Magnificat students won practically all the prizes! Where are the 200 students cheering them on or even competing? It seems like other local pianists from other schools neglected to participate. Wonder why!

An example of getting entangled in the net of deception is the claim of having 200 students 10 years ago when there were only about 100. This can be proven by concert programs from the time. They say that the school has expanded tremendously but they are plugging the same number, 200. Looks to me, like the “laboratory of peace” this is a cleverly concocted PR slogan, easy to memorize and trot out. However, after 10 years there should be some change. You said so yourself!

So how do they have the nerve to say they are a laboratory of peace and raise millions of dollars on that premise? Do they actually need all that money? The Marche region in Italy had been the target for donations 15 years ago and yielded at least a million euro by their own admission.  This is yet another area too vast and complex to go into here.  I really have a hard time with the Good Friday Collection being linked to having to provide underground parking for the school when there are real needs in the world.

The premises belonging to the Custody were renovated many times over. They had to do something with the money rolling in.  In short, they have to concoct new uses for funds.  Tuition is not a big deal. The student body on the whole is not poor. They send their children to private schools, drive late model cars and go abroad for vacations.  To boil it all down, the big bucks were used to renovate church property. Why does the public have to pay for that?  Because they are making peace? No, they are NOT!

As Jesus and St. Francis are my witnesses, they have no right to such a claim and on the basis of that raise large amounts of money for themselves.  There are real, pressing, burning needs in the world. Jerusalem may have been a poor backwater 100 years ago, but it certainly is not now.  The Church should have at least the decency and honesty to admit that and stop with their indecent trolling for funds under fraudulent premises.


Appeal for the Collection for the Holy Land

The Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land is at it again couching its requests for donations in typical sanctimonious language:

The Lenten Journey, which we are travelling, invites us to raise our eyes to the goal: we are following Our Lord Jesus Christ first to Golgotha and then, having descended with Him into the tomb, to experience the ever new and life-giving power of His Resurrection… Our sense of communion in the suffering and risen Christ moves us again this year to undertake the important initiative that is the Collection for the Holy Land. Indeed, this effort manifests the bond of brotherhood that unites the universal Church to the Mother Church of Jerusalem, as the Holy Father has indicated… Also required, however, is concrete economic aid, taking into account what St. Paul wrote at the time of the first collection for Jerusalem.


This must be the all-time miracle of money gathering, eclipsing the largest lotteries of any country in the world:

The following is a summary of what the Congregation received in the year 2015-2016, and how it was distributed: Offers for the year 2015-2016 for the “pro Terra Sancta” Collection US $ 5,275,601.56 + €1,833,339.20

Plan to regain an area (ca. 1600m2) destined for various uses, including new offices, library, refreshment  area, new spaces for the Magnificat Institute, parking lots and Auditorium underground (!)



The Magnificat Institute has become well known as a premier school of music located in the Old City of Jerusalem, but its academic director Hania Sabbara says it is also “a laboratory of peace.”

The 200 students currently studying at the Institute come from diverse ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds, she says. “They are Jewish children, Christians and Muslims,” she says, “all working together in harmony to perfect their musical talents. “

“Our students work together every day,” Sabbara says, “and they form deep and lasting friendships. They not only become excellent musicians, but better human beings,” she adds.

Since its founding, the Magnificat Institute has grown dramatically.



(Terra Sancta News) The Magnificat Institute, a “school of peace” is foremost a school of music.  Students and teachers alike work hard throughout the year to gain a deeper knowledge and performance of music. The students come from all backgrounds and are Christian, Jewish and Muslim.  The bonds formed here through music, hard work and learning will be invaluable for achieving peace in the future.

Academic director Hania Sabbara, in a featured article about the Institute in May of 2013, says, “The Institute depends heavily on donations to cover costs. Students are charged only 25 percent of the total cost for their instruction, Sabbara says, adding that the Custody of the Holy Land through the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land provides the balance. She pointed out that a $2,500 donation to the Foundation or to the Friends of the Magnificat Assn. will provide a year-long scholarship for a student.



By September 2012, the Magnificat Institute of Music in Jerusalem will increase its capacity by 500 square metres of new facilities, thanks to funding from the Le Marche Region (Italy), the municipality of Maiolati Spontini, the Premio Vallesina association and the Custody of the Holy Land.



08 March 2017

Magnificat Institute, where the music breaks down barriers…The Magnificat Institute is a laboratory in constant ferment, where different cultures, faiths and mentalities work together… a challenge and a great opportunity at the same time … A fascinating and enchanting world.

Children, youth, adults and families join to discover the beauty of the music that unites peoples.

Fr. Alberto Pari. OFM,  Director – Magnificat Institute – Jerusalem

“I think the most beautiful way to define the Magnificat is that it is a school of music that breaks down barriers. There are more than 200 students with about 27 teachers and the best thing is that here, they all study together: Christians, Jews and Muslims, without any discrimination, nor labels.

A great gift: here, everyone is welcomed for their identity and without discrimination, because there are no barriers…especially with regard to the Magnificat, we develop the youth and the adults of the future, who lived throughout their childhood and teenage years in a school where they work together and accept each other without comparisons nor differences in religion, language and culture. I believe this is one of the most beautiful things: the fruits of this school.”

With the Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land, people of good will support this initiative.



The Magnificat Institute, located in the old town of Jerusalem, is a place that promotes dialogue, peace, human and social education. Here, Christians, Muslims and Jews from different countries learn and practice together. The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, the Holy City, was founded in 1995, thanks to the work of musician and composer, Fr. Armando Pierucci. Currently, the Magnificat Institute in the Holy City of Jerusalem counts among its ranks 200 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students, mainly children, studying various disciplines.



Currently, the Magnificat Institute in the Holy City of Jerusalem counts among its ranks 200 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students.



The Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem, established by the Custody of the Holy Land and largely funded through scholarships from the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land is making a difference both in the cultural aspects as well as in peacemaking. Students of various nationalities and faiths come together to share their love of music and then to share their talents for others to enjoy.



Peace and dialogue are supposed to justify trolling funds from the public.

Dialogue with whom? Peace with whom?

The Magnificat Institute for music is in what is called the Old City of Jerusalem inside the city walls.  Although the area strides the former demarcation lines, the Franciscan compound is in the Arab sector or traditionally, the Christian Quarter. Only two months ago a Jewish Israeli was stabbed not far inside the area.  Jews in general are loathe to go there and certainly would not be expected to send their kids alone to such a place.

Therefore, one can go with a magnifying glass to find Jewish Israeli kids who study music there. The courses anyway are in English and Arabic. And as for “welcoming Jews”, one would also need a magnifying glass to find ANY announcement at the beginning of term in the Hebrew press, which after all is the lingua franca of Jewish bambini.

Mainly Christian Palestinian Arabs form the ca. 100 student body (NOT 200, 180 or whatever number the propaganda throws at the public–one wonders why musicians themselves can never count the correct number of students)

…The tuition in my opinion has been kept at an artificially low level so as to garner sympathy and cries for “oh I don’t know how I’m going to pay my staff, except for the graciousness of the Lord”. Other competing institutions with a more realistic standard of education manage to charge more and in fact have to cope the realities of the free market, not like liberally Church subsidized institutions. One of the odd features of “poor us, we don’t have money” is the practice of giving scholarships over and above the tuition 2 and even 3 times the amount.

This was exemplified in November 2005 when a delegation from Washington DC handed out $1000 scholarships to 10 students ($10,000 in all!!) when the tuition at that time was $300 a year and even $250 for multiple students in a family. So kids and their families could rack up $750 in their pockets. I submit that such a situation is demoralizing to the students and gives them an unrealistic notion of what they deserve.  This weird practice (despite the crying need for money) is repeated time and again especially with the similar inflated money prizes given in their yearly Tavasani Competition for piano that only a relatively few students compete for every year.


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