A lecture titled
“Christians in Israel: Worries and Challenges”
By Dr. Geries S. Khoury
Al-Liqa’ Center Lecture
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
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.