Kristne i Palæstina

Mosaik i Brødets og Fiskens kirke ved Galilæa - kendt fra det Nye Testamente

Her er en længere, men ganske spændende artikel om kristnes vilkår i Israel/Palæstina, hvor ca. to procent af befolkningen i de besatte områder og otte procent af den arabiske befolkning i Israel er kristne:

Palestinian Christians belong to several traditional communities of faith, communities that can be grouped into four broad categories. The first are the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox churches. These would include the Greek Orthodox communities, claiming a continuous presence in the Holy Land since the times of the apostles. The second group is made of up what is sometimes referred to as the “Oriental” Orthodox churches, such as the Syrian, Coptic, and Armenian Orthodox communities. A third category consists of those churches belonging to the Catholic family of churches. In addition to Roman Catholic communities, referred to in the Middle East as the “Latin” church, one finds “Eastern Catholic” or “Eastern Rite Catholic” churches. These churches, though in communion with Rome and recognizing the authority of the pope, have maintained their own distinctive liturgy and traditions. Members of such communities as Greek Catholic or Syrian Catholic outnumber the number of “Latin” Catholics in Palestine and have a long history of involvement in the Palestinian struggle for justice. Finally, there are various Protestant communities, including not only Anglican and Lutheran churches, present since the nineteenth century, but also independent evangelical churches, including Baptist, Pentecostal, and more.

Today in Palestine, Christianity is experiencing what many would consider a crisis. This is not due to the growth of so-called Islamic fundamentalism or the persecution of “believers” by their Muslim neighbors, misrepresentations that are unfortunately used to distract from the realities of occupation. Instead, the plight of the Palestinian Christian is very much connected to that of the Palestinian Muslim in that both, whether in the Occupied Territories or inside Israeli itself, are experiencing daily injustices at the hands of oppressive and discriminatory policies imposed on them by the Israeli government.

Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, have experienced a long history of dispossession and have not been immune to Israeli policies of occupation and discrimination. If anything, they have felt more strongly the feelings of forsakenness, knowing full well that many Christians in North America and Europe support without question the state of Israel in its oppression of their people. Daily experiences of humiliation at checkpoints, of land confiscation to make way for the separation barrier, the illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory, lack of mobility and access to basic services, unemployment, poverty, and no sense of hope for a better future for their children have all contributed to this growing emigration of Palestinian Christians from the historical land of Palestine.

Like their Muslim neighbors, who are prevented by checkpoints and roadblocks from making pilgrimage to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Christians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are denied basic religious freedoms, routinely prohibited from traveling very short distances to worship in one of the most holy sites in Christianity — the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the church commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection from the dead.

Noget lignende kan i øvrigt siges om den meget lille gruppe af samaritanere, det “kætterske” oprindelige folkeslag, vi hører om i Det Nye Testamente, bl.a. i historien om den barmhjertige samaritaner: Samaritanere behandles også i dag med foragt af bosættere og israelske soldater, som palæstinensere på linje med alle de andre – hvilket naturligvis også er, hvad de er: “Palæstinenser” er en etnisk kategori, ikke en religiøs.

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