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A lecture titled

 “Christians in Israel: Worries and Challenges”

By Dr. Geries S. Khoury

Al-Liqa’ Center Lecture Hall

20 May 2014

Tens of religious leaders among them H.B. Patriarch Michael Sabbah, Bishop Atallah Hanna, the Mufti of Bethlehem Governorate Sheikh Abd al-Majid, scholars, politicians and others from the community, men and women, attended Dr. Geries Khoury’s lecture on “Arab Christians in Israel: Worries and Challenges”, which was moderated by Mr. Mousa Darwish. Dr. Geries focused in the beginning on a survey of the demographics of Christians in Israel since 1931 and the difficulty which Christians faced since the foundation of Israel up to the present.

Khoury said that the Church does have strong presence in the Arab Israeli community through its continuous prophetical voice, the many educational institutions, health institutions, elderly homes and charitable and social organizations.

Concerning military service of Christians, Dr. Khoury said that this issue has been with us since 1950. But Christians and their religious leadership refused this military service.

   

Despite shortcomings of pastoral and spiritual work and in matters of strengthening their national unity and identity, Dr. Geries added by stressing the importance of education for shared living and joint Christian – Muslim unity in face of all challenges including those who plant the seeds of hatred and disunity as seen in the 24th of February law concerning Christian military service in Israel.

The present situation in the Arab world and especially in Egypt and Syria where radical jihadist Islamists are poisoning the brotherly atmosphere by killing Christians or religious leaders or kidnapping Christian sisters or Bishops are exploited by the media in general and the Israelis in particular in order to win over some Christian youths, not because of their love for them, but with the aim to divide the Arab Israeli community more and more. On the other side, individuals from the   Christian youth think if they carry arms as a soldier is one way to protect themself. To all of those who think in this way, we say to them that arms do not protect anyone. Instead, we can protect ourselves through our attachment to our national identity and serious work for justice and peace.

   

This requires and needs work in unison with these youth and young people and to listen to their problems and to help them to overcome all problems and challenges.

Despite all difficulties, I can say that our youth are in good shape, and their future is the responsibility of all including political and spiritual leaders.