Palestinian Christians dwindling in number due to political situation
Senior Palestianian churchmen blame Israel, the US, and Germany
Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 09:53
Since the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948 at least 35 per cent
of Palestinian Christians had left the Holy Land, a senior Palestinian
churchman said in Dublin yesterday. “It has been the greatest
de-Christianising influence there since the Ottomans,” Fr Peter Madros
of the Latin (Roman Catholic) Patriarchate of Jerusalem said yesterday.
“In 1945 there were 32,000 Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem, now it’s
10,000 to 11,000,” said Rev Dr Naim Stifan Ateek, Canon Emeritus of St
George’s Anglican Cathedral in Jerusalem.
Archbishop of Sebastia,Theodosios Atallah Hanna, of the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchiate of Jerusalem, pointed out “we are different [Christian]
denominations but all Palestinians. We’ve suffered a loss of freedom and
injustice that has led to the exile of many Palestinians.”
He described the decline of the Palestinian Christian community to
between 1 and 2 per cent of the population as “a disaster not only for
Palestinian Christians but for all Palestinians.” The three churchmen
are members of a delegation that arrived in Ireland a week ago on a trip
sponsored by the Sadaka group. It supports “a peaceful settlement in
Palestine/Israel based on the principles of democracy and justice, be
that in two states or in one state.”
Fr Madros said “the unconditional support of America [for Israel] hurts
us most. It wounds us most”.
This isolation was “an additional injustice” where Palestinian
Christians were concerned, he said, “as nobody in the Holy Land can
survive without support from abroad.”
Rev Dr Ateek said that within Israel Christians were being treated “as
At “almost at every level of life there is discrimination,” against
Christians, he said. “The word ‘apartheid’ has been used by some Israeli
activists,” he added. Fr Madros said “the Christian faith and its
symbols is the most frequently attacked in the Israeli mass media”.
Since their arrival in Ireland the churchmen have had an informal
meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. They’ve also
met Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid
Martin, his Church of Ireland counterpart Archbishop Michael Jackson,
and the Catholic Bishop of Down and Conor Noel Traenor.
Yesterday they met officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs where
they discussed the labelling of goods produced by Jewish settlers in
They have also been encouraging “an economic boycott of everything
produced by the occupation”.
The delegation returns to Palestine tomorrow.
Prelate says Syrian Christians face terrible choice: ‘die or leave’
Archbishop Samir Nassar, the Maronite Catholic archbishop of Damascus,
has told the Fides news agency that Syria’s Christians “must choose
between two bitter chalices: to die or leave.”
Syrians, who “have seen the UN organize since 2005 the systematic
departure of Iraqi refugees towards the West,” now note “the world’s
indifference and silence in front of their long, sad ordeal … they are
abandoned, destined to die without being able to escape.”
“To advise them to stay could lead to death like a lamb dumb before the
butcher,” said Archbishop Nassar. “Our martyrology simply gets longer.”
On the other hand, “helping them leave means emptying the biblical land
of its last Christians.”