Monday, May 30, 2005
Crisis for Christians in Israel  

As many know, the Christians in Israel have been in a bad way for some time. Aid to the Church in Need has issued a report on the plight of the approximately 150,000 Christians who remain in the Holy Land.
THE future of Christianity in the Holy Land hangs in the balance as a combination of poverty, religious discrimination and even violence blights Catholic communities. Away from the headline-grabbing political struggle over the future of Israel and clashes between radical Jews and Muslims, a little-known crisis threatens the Christian community. The Christian presence in Israeli society is on the verge of disappearing into obscurity and could be at risk of disappearing altogether. Reduced in number to about 150,000, Christians face oppression and discrimination at school, in the workplace and in the community--be it because of their religion, their social class or because of their ethnic origin--most of them are Palestinian Arabs. Tension frequently spills over into violence, when Christian communities are hit by sporadic shootings, arson, verbal abuse and hate mail. Some are forcibly removed from their property and suffer anti-Christian propaganda in the media. The crisis is heightened at a time when the cost of living is soaring--especially in Palestinian areas--and when unemployment is widespread. Worse still, opportunities for Christians to speak out are being drowned out as in the space of 40 years, the proportion of faithful in the country has fallen from 20 percent to less than two percent.
Part one and two of the report give more detailed information about the harsh realities that Palestiniannean Christians face. For example, the new wall which is being built by the Israelis to deal with problems in the West Bank, is threatening the very existence of the Christians in Bethlehem which is just several miles from Jerusalem. The wall may cut off the city in several ways including choking off its revenue from pilgrims and tourists who will forego the 7 mile journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem because with the 8 meter wall it has become a 3 hour ordeal of checkpoints and security checks.

In order to help, Aid to the Church in Need has provided funding for families in Bethlehem who are making olive wood rosaries for World Youth Day. This assistance has helped some Bethlehem families who are facing poverty because the number of visitors to their city has sharply dropped.

Originally noted in Zenit.

Posted by David at 6:42 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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