Indian Catholic News

Palestinians seek Indian Christian support

Out of 4 million population of Palestine, only 2 per cent are Christians.

Munther B. Issac in New Delhi.
By Ritu Sharma
New Delhi: 

A Palestinian theologian visiting India has called on the Indian Christians to work for the cause of the Palestinian Christians and visit the Holy Land to experience their life in the war-torn country.

“Time has come not only for the Indian but for the global Christian leadership to help the cause of justice in Palestine,” Munther B. Issac, who works at the Bethlehem Bible college in Palestine, told on Wednesday.

Issac said that the Israeli "occupation" in Palestine must be challenged worldwide. “It must end. Christians in Palestine believe in healing and are against all kinds of violence.”

He said more Indian pilgrims should visit Palestine and live with the people to know more about the life and struggle of the people in the Holy Land. He wanted to Christian leadership of both nations have discussion to materialize it.

“Many people don’t know that Palestine is also home to Arab Christians. People have pre-conceived notions that Palestine is a Muslim country, which is affecting our economy as well as tourism,” he said.

Issac alleged that the pilgrimages that are organized by the Israeli tourism ministry do not present a very good picture of Palestine.

“Ninety per cent of the tourists spend only 2-3 hours in Palestine as they come to see the Nativity Church in Bethlehm where Jesus Christ was born,” he lamented.

Issac said that there are more significant places in Palestine for the Christian pilgrimage but “pilgrims are accompanied by Israeli tour operators. They cross through major check posts erected by the Israeli security forces but do not even get a hint of what is going on beyond that.”

Issac alleged that the pilgrims are also told that Bethlehm is not a very safe place to visit so the pilgrims do not get much time to spend there and no the realities. The pilgrims are also made to sign a document that they are visiting Palestine on their own risk, creating fear among tourists about visiting Holy Land.

He expressed hoped that the Indian Christian agencies will in future organize tours to Palestine so that people are more aware about the life and theology of Palestine Christians.

“Such pilgrimages will help people change there thinking about us and know more about our culture and theology. They would come to know how Palestinians live on a daily basis under restrictions on movement. We want to engage with Indian Christians,” he said.

“India is important because a large number of Christians go on pilgrimage to Israel but they have no idea that they have brothers in Palestine too,” he added.

Out of 4 million population of Palestine, only 2 per cent are Christians.

“Our population was much more but due to the ongoing war, Christians are leaving Palestine and now we are just 2 per cent in number,” he added.

In 2013, Around 2 million Christian tourists visited Israel from around the world. In 2011, some 40,000 Indian tourists visited Israel, which is the highest by any Asian country.

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