Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Christian Presence Dwindling in Israel

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
The Christian community in the Holy Land is dwindling and in danger of becoming extinct, a group says. A Christian exodus from the Holy Land took place in the past century, the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation says. Christians in the early 1900s comprised 20% of the population in the territories that are now Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, but dwindled to 2% as people have fled from violence and sought economic opportunities elsewhere, the Boston Globe said. For example, there are 10,000 Christians living in Ramallah, a West Bank city, but there are 70,000 members of the American Ramallah Federation, a group of Palestinian-Americans. There is a "real possibility that Christians are becoming extinct in the Holy Land," the foundation said. Its goal is to inform U.S. Catholic and Protestant churches about the situation. "We hope American Christians will see how important it is to maintain a Christian presence in the land where the faith began," Emil Salayta of the Jerusalem Latin Patriarchate for the Catholic Church said. Most Americans are not aware that there are Palestinian Christians, he said. "We have to explain that our Christian community, which traces its roots back to the time of Jesus 2,000 years ago, is in jeopardy."

Meanwhile, Messianic Jews are decrying the deportation of three women from Israel. The three came to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991 with their adoptive father, a Jew, but their birth mother and father, both dead, were Christians. They were allowed to stay because their adoptive father presented them as his own daughters, HaAretz, an Israeli newspaper, said. Interior Ministry officials investigated the sisters when they received a videotape showing them singing at a Messianic Jewish event, the paper said. After reviewing the papers, the Interior Ministry decided to revoke their immigrant permits on the grounds that "forged documents or fallacious disclosures" were presented at the time of their arrival. The country's high court reaffirmed that decision last week. The women are being persecuted because they believe in Jesus Christ, the Messianic Action Committee (MAC) said. The government discriminates against Messianic Jews, who believe Jesus is Israel's messiah, MAC said. The court found no indication that the women, who were teens at the time, intentionally falsified their documents and it is likely that they didn't even fill out the paperwork, HaAretz said. They "never tried to conceal their non-Jewish identities from Israeli officials. Upon their arrival they disclosed that their mother was a Christian," the newspaper said. MAC says the expulsions could set a "dangerous first precedent" that might lead to other Christians being kicked out.

A 1989 Supreme Court decision says that Messianic Jews are not to be considered Jewish for the purpose of the Law of Return, which promises citizenship to people of Jewish descent. Officials might declare that all Messianic Jews who applied for citizenship since 1989 have made a false declaration, paving the way to kick them out, MAC said. (From Religion Today)

As in Bible times, the followers of Jesus Christ are still an unwanted and chased-around people in Israel. Yet Israel does want to profit from Jesus having lived in the land by way of tourism! It goes to show what money will do. Financial profits from Jesus É fine! But É "no thank you" to spiritual profits!

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