28 November 2017

Christian Emigration from the Holy Land, Causes and Numerical Data

A study conducted by the “Dar al Kalima” University of Bethlehem takes a close look at the phenomenon of Christian emigration from the Holy Land.

Christians in the Holy Land

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A Christian presence in the Holy Land that has tapered off. The "Dar al Kalima" Bethlehem University of Art and Culture has therefore developed a study, the first of its kind, of the phenomenon that has always characterized this land: the emigration of Christians from Palestine.

According to a survey involving more than 1,000 people, including Christians and Muslims living in Palestine, in East Jerusalem and in Gaza, the main disadvantage is represented by the economic conditions, by the political situation and, last but not least, by social and religious causes.

Rev. Dr. MITRI RAHEB
Founder and President - “Dar al-Kalima” University - Bethlehem
"The survey has shown that the search for employment is one of the main problems that both Christians and Muslims face. Secondly, it highlighted the housing problem, especially among the young families. Lastly, there is the problem of the absence of social freedom, to which - as a Church - we can contribute.”

According to the survey, the findings reveal how the mobility difficulties (65% Christians, 52% Muslims), restrictions on fundamental freedoms (13% Christians, 8% Muslims) and financial barriers (9% Christians, 125 Muslims) was able to influence their presence in the Holy Land.

Rev. Dr. MITRI RAHEB
Founder and President - “Dar al-Kalima” University - Bethlehem
"The figures indicate that the emigration of Palestinian Christians is a wound that has been bleeding for over 100 years, so this is not a new situation.
Without a radical change in this situation, migration will remain constant.”

An extremely surprising survey shows that almost a quarter of the interviewed Christians believe that within the next 10 years they may leave Palestine. However, the majority of them do not believe that this will happen.

JAMIL RABAH
Palestinian Negotiations Support Project
"The problem of emigration is stronger in young people because they believe that the economic situation and their future (here) is not optimal. However, a large percentage, the majority -including Christians - want to stay in Palestine.”

The study, which will be included in a book that will be published next December 7, also identified the context in which the main migratory waves occurred, as Rev. Mitri underlined during his speech: the years during which World War I took place, the 1948 & 1967 Arab and Israeli wars, and the Palestinian revolutions of the 1980s and 2000. Today, the Christian population is estimated at about 1.7%.

Amb. ISSA KASSISSIEH
Representative of the State of Palestine - Holy See
"We are doing our best to keep the Christian presence in the Holy Land. We are well aware that we are "the guardians of the holy places" and we are here to stay and to prosper in our society in the Holy Land and in Palestine.”

This is a small, but important presence, aware of the calling to be a witness to the Gospel.