Edition 2: No. 20
For over two thousand years, Christian communities have thrived in The Holy Land. Suddenly there is a drastic plunge in their presence. From a historical level of nearly 18 percent, the figure is now somewhere less than 2 percent. Church leaders have forewarned that unless something serious is done to reverse the pattern s of emigration, Christian communities could come close to virtual extinction.
According to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, “the future of the Church in the Holy Land is now in doubt unless fellow Christians around the world step up efforts to help them.”
There are important questions raised: Why are these communities, long rooted in the historic land of their faith, now choosing to leave? What does that mean for Christianity in the land where Jesus was born and preached?
Israeli propagandists broadcast the notion that Christian emigration has mostly to do with Christian persecution at the hands of Muslims. Nothing can be further from the truth. Christians see dwindling hope and opportunities for them and their children in Palestine because of the Israeli occupation and hence leave. Many of those who have left yearn to return to their homes and people. It is Israeli policies which deny Palestinian refugees their right to return.
It is in this context that we share with you three important documentaries about the situation from CBS News. Coming from what is considered a normally sedate but highly influential news channel, the documentary is well worth watching. We urge those of you who may have access to church audiences to spreads the word about these documentaries and discuss and plan actions to stop the emigration at its very roots.
We also encourage you to read the article “Christianity and the Middle East: The Vanishing Church in the Holy Land” by Sir Jeffery M. Abood, KHS is a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. It offers some powerful insights and analysis on the situation and challenges that face the international community.(http://www.wrmea.com/component/content/article/364/10321-christianity-and-the-middle-east-the-vanishing-church-in-the-holy-land-.html)
About the documentaries
Christians of the Holy Land
Christianity may have been born in the Middle East, but Arab Christians have never had it easy there, especially not today. In Iraq and Egypt, scores of churches have been attacked, hundreds murdered. In Syria, revolution seriously threatens Christian communities. The one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land: but Palestinian Christians have been leaving in large numbers for years. So many, the Christian population there is down to less than two percent, and the prospect of holy sites, like Jerusalem and Bethlehem, without local Christians is looming as a real possibility.
(CBS News) The exodus from the Holy Land of Palestinian Christians could eventually leave holy cities like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without a local Christian population, Bob Simon reports. Why are they leaving? For some, life in the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become too difficult.
The last Christian village in the Holy Land
While reporting on the Holy Land’s vanishing Christian population, 60 Minutes stumbled on Taybeh — a tiny village where Jesus stayed on the eve of his crucifixion. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57417408/holy-land/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo
Pushing for a boycott of Israel
Nora Kort discusses the Kairos Palestine Document, a political treatise she co-authored, and explains why she and other Christian Palestinians are calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli goods.