Archbishops warn of 'concerted effort' to drive Christians from Holy Land - Politics | PoFo

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Archbishop of Canterbury wrote:
Archbishops warn of 'concerted effort' to drive Christians from Holy Land

Writing in the Sunday Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem warn of a concerted attempt by fringe, radical groups to drive Christians away from the Holy Land - which takes place against the 'historic tragedy' of the Christian population's century-long decline.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Christmas is a time when we think about the land of the Bible. We hear readings and sing carols that name Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem. These are places that are familiar to billions of Christians, whether they have visited them or not. But we should not romanticise them - and especially not this Christmas.

Last week, leaders of churches in Jerusalem raised an unprecedented and urgent alarm call. In a joint statement, they said Christians throughout the Holy Land have become the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups.

In a joint statement they described “countless incidents” of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, and attacks on Christian churches. They spoke of holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and ongoing intimidation of local Christians as they go about their worship and daily lives.

The Romanian Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem was vandalized during Lent in March this year, the fourth attack on that holy place in a single month. During Advent last December, someone lit a fire in the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsamene, the place where Jesus prayed the night before he was crucified. Usually a place of pilgrimage for Christians from around the world, it’s thought the vandal took advantage of the lack of visitors due to the pandemic.

These tactics are being used by such radical groups “in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land”, the Jerusalem church leaders said in their statement.

It is for this reason that when you speak with Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem today you will often hear this cry: “In fifteen years’ time, there’ll be none of us left!”

This crisis takes place against a century-long decline in the Christian population in the Holy Land. In 1922, at the end of the Ottoman Era, Christians in the Holy Land were estimated to number 73,000; about 10% of the population. In 2019, Christians constituted less than 2% of the population of the Holy Land: a massive drop in just 100 years.

In Israel, there is some increase in the overall numbers of Christians. The imminent reopening of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Jaffa, which has been closed for over 70 years, is encouraging.

But in East Jerusalem, the central place for pilgrimage and the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - where Christ is believed to have been crucified - there is steady decline. Church leaders believe that there are now fewer than 2,000 Christians left in the Old City of Jerusalem.

This is the land that 2.5 billion Christians worldwide recognise as the birthplace of the church. Yet Christians, who have been a continuous presence there for over 2,000 years, are too often obscured and even forgotten beneath the competing perceptions of the geopolitics of the Middle East. The Christian presence punches above the weight of its numbers.

A recent study by the University of Birmingham estimates that the tourism industry generated by the Christian heritage of the Holy Land brings over $3 billion into the region’s economy. The Palestinian Christian population is a highly educated population that contributes beyond its numbers to high-tech industries, hospitals and church-based schools. Christians are good news for the region!

Christians in Israel enjoy democratic and religious freedoms that are a beacon in the region. But the escalation of physical and verbal abuse of Christian clergy, and vandalism of holy sites by fringe, radical groups, are a concerted attempt to intimidate and drive them away.

Meanwhile the growth of settler communities, and travel restrictions brought about by the Separation Wall, have deepened the isolation of Christian villages and curtailed economic and social possibilities. All of these factors have contributed to a steady stream of Palestinian Christians leaving the Holy Land to seek lives and livelihoods elsewhere - a historic tragedy unfolding in real time.

It does not have to be this way. This trend can be reversed - but action must be taken fast. We encourage governments and authorities in the region to listen to church leaders in their midst: To engage in the practical conversations that will lead to vital Christian culture and heritage being guarded and sustained. The time for action is now!

Over the Advent period, it’s tempting to be seduced by cosy visions of the Christmas story - twinkling stars, exotic visitors, a painless birth of a baby who doesn’t cry. The reality would have been much different: this is a story of God’s embrace of humanity in all its messiness.

The first Christmas tells us of God coming into our world among ordinary lives of human struggle. It foregrounds a refugee family, against the backdrop of a genocide of infants. There’s not much about lullabies and cuddly farm animals.

So let’s get real this Christmas. When we sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, or “Once in Royal David’s City”, let’s hear the voice of the church of the Holy Land - and thank them for their gift to all of us. Let’s pray for their flourishing and their future: a future intertwined with the future prosperity and common good of all communities.

Woven through the first Christian story is a message of hope and of good news for all people - a small light that can never be put out. Whatever your religion or belief, may you know the peace and joy of the Christ-child this Christmas.

The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Revd Hosam Naoum, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

I do not doubt it. Christians are the last group where it is acceptable to look down on them. Sharper and sharper rhetoric.

To some small extent, Christians deserve some derision. We are really bad at doing Christ like things.
Christians in Jerusalem are undergoing a 20-year-old combined attack by the state of Israel, settler groups, and Jewish extremists terrorizing Christians.

The State of Israel has been acquiring Christian property in Jerusalem at firesale prices, entire neighborhoods of hundreds of houses and flats sold for a mere 1 million in secret deals coerced sometimes even with violence(as when Archbishops cars were rammed) and open threats from Jewish leaders. Israeli courts habitually rule against Christian property rights in Jerusalem.

Clergy are heckled and spat on in the streets of Jerusalem and Churches are being vandalized.

The Orthodox who have been maintaining the Church of Holy Sepulchre have been sounding the alarm for 2 decades and had been forced to enlist the help of Bush, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powel who intervened sometimes on their behalf.

The Christian Church owns over 60% of real estate property in the Old City. Her property is not permitted to be sold, only to be leased, the status of Christian rights in Jerusalem was enshrined in the Israeli constitution when Israel was created by adopting the UN resolutions that conditioned Israeli independence. Within 20 years Israel has forced the Christian Churches to part with ALL their property in the Old City using strong-arm tactics, backdated water bills and often outright threats and violence.

Jewish organisations around the world need to heed the calls of Christian leaders instead of adding insult to injury, rein on Israel's treatment(.ie Courts ruling against Christians as a matter of habit and settler gangs spreading terror) on the Christians of the Old City if not for justice but for smooth diplomatic relations and the maintenance of strong alliances in a fast changing environment.

China is about to settle down permanently in Lebanon and Syria.

Christiantiy has been forced out of the Middle East over successive decades, especially with the acquiesence of Western powers. The Western invasion of Iraq resulted in the mass emigration of 1.2 million Iraqi Christians.

Israeli treatment of Christians is deplorable. The entire Christian world must come together to put pressure on them to change their policies. Perhaps the American Christian Zionists could start being proper Christians and put some real pressure on Israel to stop persecuting their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Political Interest wrote:Christiantiy has been forced out of the Middle East over successive decades, especially with the acquiesence of Western powers. The Western invasion of Iraq resulted in the mass emigration of 1.2 million Iraqi Christians.

Indeed, while in Syria & Lebanon the "Christian" west openly supported Islamic extremists against the Christian communities in these countries. :eek:
it looks like jews are exercising homophobia towards all nonjews, tho its fact that most of the Christians there are palestinians, the right question would be how fringe is the pressure, I'll say knowing how important is for jews to rebuilt the solomons temple its logical that the pressure towards the Jerusalem Patriarchate will continue in various ways till dont sell its East Jerusalem property to jews, probably thats why any sale is blocked till the owners are not predetermined as jews!?

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