The Shmooze

Christian Palestinians Moving Back to Holy Land

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

There’s no place like home when it comes to the Holy Land. These are the sentiments of millions of Jews, but also of the many Christian Palestinians now choosing to return there after having lived abroad.

American-Israeli freelance journalist Michele Chabin reports in the National Catholic Register that recent statistics show that for the first time in a long time, more Christians are moving to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories than are leaving them. Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad “credited improvements in Palestinian civic society, governance and infrastructure for much of the reversal,” Chabin wrote.

Economic hardship and the difficult times of the Second Intifada drove many Christians, especially young ones, to seek a new life in countries in Europe and North America. The common belief has been that as soon as a young person gets his or her academic degree, he or she looks to leave for the West.

It turns out that quite a few young Christian Palestinian families found that not only was the cost of living higher abroad than they had bargained for, but that they could not find the kind of family and community support that they enjoyed back home.

One Armenian father (who had moved with his young family to Toronto in 2000) Chabin interviewed also said that once September 11th happened, he realized that Israel and the Palestinian territories were not as unsafe as they are made out to be, and that violence can happen anywhere. The tragedy helped put things into perspective for him and became part of the calculus that eventually led to his family’s returning home to East Jerusalem in 2004.

To a large extent, this father, concerned about the religious upbringing and national identity of his children, has chosen to raise his family back in the Holy Land for very similar reasons why Jews from the Diaspora who have chosen to make aliyah.

“I think Canada is one of the best countries in the world, because it provides its citizens the freedom to be whatever they want to be,” he said. But he has returned home because in Jerusalem, “I’m making a living, giving my daughters a good education. It’s very important to me that, here in Jerusalem, people don’t have to make an effort to be Christian.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Chabin, Christian, Israel, Palestinian, Prime Minister Salem Fayyad

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.