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A pluralistic Near East based on freedom and the rule of law where nations, tribes, and religious communities can live beside each other as neighbors – that is the Philos vision.
"Philos empowered me to pursue one of my biggest dreams: to be a scholar in Brazil researching and speaking about Middle Eastern issues."
STUDENT & PLI ALUMNUS / 2017
“Philos really has impacted me in the most profound way. It has provided me with a pivot point of turning my creativity into advocacy and using my ability to better the lives of others. That is something that is incredibly powerful and long-lasting. Philos will continue to impact my life and hopefully, through me, others.”
artist & PLI ALUMNA / 2018
"The Philos Project has not only made my Christian life come alive in a way that I've never experienced before, but it's helped me to gain knowledge that has proved so powerful in not just understanding the Middle East but in empowering me to share my experience and knowledge with others. And so to Philos, I give my greatest thank you."
VIP TRIP PARTICIPANT / 2018
THE STORY OF PHILOS
Founder and Executive Director Robert Nicholson recounts the journey that led to the creation of The Philos Project, why Philos is important and necessary in the conversation about the Near East.
STORIES FROM THE GROUND
Meet the men and women working on the ground in the Near East.
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"No one takes on the hard questions like Philos. Traveling with them in the Middle East, I saw firsthand how they navigate the complex border between religion and politics and maintain relationships with real people on all sides of the issues. This is what constructive Christian engagement in the region should look like."
Walter Russell Mead
Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship at the Hudson Institute
"Philos is one of the most exciting, dynamic organizations working on religious pluralism in the Middle East. This isn't your grandmother's interfaith dialogue. Philos starts from the premise that religions are different and that pluralism and deep understanding come not from from papering over those differences but acknowledging and understanding them on their own terms... If you're looking for rich and challenging conversations about religion and politics in modern life, Philos should probably be at the top of your list... This isn't where you come to feel good about peace and love and unity. This is where you learn about the hard but necessary working of living and thriving with difference. That's after all what any true pluralism is about."
Senior Fellow | Brookings Institution
“Philos excels at cutting through the noise and confusion to expose the fundamental issues that make the Middle East so challenging, frustrating, and captivating for people in and outside the region. There is no other organization that presents the Middle East's diversity and its complex interplay between religion, society, and politics in the way that Philos does.”
Research Associate | Hudson Institute
"The trip I took to Israel with Philos was one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever enjoyed as a reporter. The depth and richness of our encounters with people from across the politicaland religious spectrum has given me an entirely new appreciation of the complexities of Israel/Palestine, and food for thought that I will be chewing over for many years to come."
Columnist | The Washington Post
"In my thirty years as a journalist, my travel experience with Philos was beyond doubt the best one I've ever had. I got to meet people from every corner of Israeli society: a Haredi rabbi, Palestinian refugees, West Bank settlers, Druze and Christian minorities, young Kibbutzniks nonchalantly looking on as a bomb exploded on the Syrian side of the border. In the process I was forced to rethink many of my beliefs about liberalism, nationalism, tribalism and the politics of identity that are transforming the world. Israel is a laboratory where the basic components of modernity are being remixed in exciting, unpredictable, thought-provoking, sometimes worrying ways. Thank you for showing me around."
Political Editor | The Economist
"The Philos study tour opened my eyes to new dimensions of the land, state, and people of Israel. The balanced yet provocative content and open-minded approach is exactly what’s missing from American discussions of the region."
Samuel Goldman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Political Science | George Washington University
“Philos packed more educational punch into a single week than I thought possible, introducing us to an extraordinary range of viewpoints and religious and cultural identities. I didn't leave with any definitive answers or strong opinions, except this one: Accommodating pluralism, in the West as well as the Middle East, is going to be a perpetual challenge with no easy solutions.”
Assistant Editorial Features Editor | The Wall Street Journal
"The Philos Project’s Israel trip for Catholic leaders provided a vital and unique opportunity to learn about the peoples of Israel and Palestine, to consider contemporary political, religious and cultural questions, and to reflect upon the history and the continued life of the region.
The trip was further enriched because its participants included so many U.S. Catholics who are deeply engaged in the life of their country.
As a working journalist, I particularly appreciated the broad spectrum of experts and commentators assembled through Philos and the opportunity to engage with Israelis and Palestinians on a personal level. The visit provided particular clarity about Jewish-Christian relations, the contemporary experiences of the Jewish people, the cultural richness of Jerusalem, the geography of Israel and the security situation in the country."
Kevin J. Jones
Senior Staff Writer | Catholic News Agency / EWTN News
"I attended the Philos Leaders Conference in December, 2017. I was very much impressed with the Philos Project, with the staff, and with all the alums of the program. As a native Israeli, I felt like Philos has a very even-handed, direct analysis of the Middle East and the problems plaguing the region. What most impressed me was a group exercise in which each of our groups had around an hour to brainstorm solutions for the endemic political problems in the region. It was a real challenge, and I feel that it gave us an idea of the real stress and short deadlines policymakers usually have to face when dealing with these issues. Overall, it was a great experience, and I would highly recommend it to any Christians who have an interest in Israel specifically, or in the Middle East in general."
Harvard University '16 | Middle Eastern Studies
“Nothing compares to being on the ground and meeting people. The experiences set up by Philos didn’t transform my assumptions but it transformed the way I understand those assumptions: the trip deepened them, it added texture to them, and made it more intimate than it was before."
Professor of Moral Theology and Executive Director of the Institute for Human Ecology | Catholic University of America.
“It is great to know that organizations such as Philos Project exist, because they teach about the reality and actual context of the Middle East."
Pastor David Herrera
President | Asocaciòn de Ex Becarios de Israel Shalom
"I’m very thankful for The Philos Project for hosting this Catholic Leadership Trip and to the benefactors and supporters who helped bring this vision to life. The trip helped me to more fully understand the situations here in the Middle East like in Israel in such a personal way, one that highlights the important history of the religious sites and the geo-political climate that exists in a land steeped in such ancient times. The Holy Land is truly place for everyone, and I am very happy to have walked where The Holy Family themselves walked. I am deeply thankful for this tripand will continue to keep both The Philos Project and its benefactors in my prayers."
Staff writer | Catholic News Service
“I read and follow news about the Middle East and religious minorities much more closely now. I have a group of friends now with that shared experience who I stay in touch with, and we support each other and our career goals. I am planning to go back to Israel next year with my graduate program and I plan to introduce them to a lot of the ideas and controversies we explored in Philos. I have become more attuned to how religious minorities shape the region, and how protecting their rights is both difficult and of utmost importance. And lastly, I plan to work in macroeconomic development and foreign policy, and this trip directly fueled my interest and opened my worldview to the complexity of the region.”
Public Interest Fellow | Philos Leadership Institute '18
"We met with Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian leaders, religious and secular Jews, Israeli settlers and Palestinian refugees, pollsters, military officers, water engineers, feminists, environmentalists, theologians from a plurality of Christian denominations, Bedouins in the Negev, Syrian refugees in the Za’atari Refugee Camp, Iraqi Christians in Amman, Aramean Christians in Jish, kibbutzniks, Arab citizens of Israel, and a professor of Sharia Law. Is there any other organization that provides the opportunity to listen to an Orthodox rabbi settler next to a young Palestinian refugee and then a Catholic priest next to a Sharia Law professor?"