Few places in the world can boast of a story as interesting as the one in the Holy Land, Israel. If you want to know more about the biblical history or if you want to live what you have studied in the Bible, there is no better place than the Holy Land, Israel. I have been there for a visit, rather, a pilgrimage, at Christmas time in 2018. In fact, I have returned enchanted, for all that I have lived and seen in this Holy Land. I have always been passionate about knowing, studying, researching and writing about monotheistic religions (Judaism and Christianity) and Islam. In Israel, I have been able to live and live very excited with everything I have studied. It is like traveling in the time machine almost 4,000 years ago, when the people of Israel entered the Promised Land in the year 1473 BCE led Joshua.
Later, the People of Israel founded their Kingdom with the first Kings; Saul, David, Solomon and the construction of the sacred temple of the Jews known as the time of Solomon in the ninth century BCE With the death of King Solomon, the people of Israel were divided into two kingdoms; the northern kingdom, Israel, its Samaritan capital, fell to the Assyrians in 722 BCE And the southern kingdom, Judea, its capital Jerusalem, fell to the hands of the Babylonians and the 1st destruction of the time of Solomon by the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar in the year 586 BCE. In the year 537 BCE the Israelites returned to Jerusalem to build their sacred temple. The struggles of the Maccabees against the great powers of that time, for freedom defending their Jewish faith.
The Holy Land is the basis of the Jewish religion. Judaism, is the kiss of all monotheistic religions, has roots of about 5,000 years of history. Knowing Judaism is part of knowing Christianity, it can not be said that I am a Christian without knowing Judaism. Israel is the place where Jesus was born and lived as a Jew. That is why Israel has important holy places for Christianity, among them the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, perhaps the most sacred place for Christians, where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. As well as the Church of the Nativity of Bethlehem, in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Jesus himself said in (Matthew 5:17) “I have not come to abolish the Mosaic Law, I come to fulfill it”.
Home to 10 Churches
At present, the State of Israel contains almost 9 million inhabitants, it is a multi-religious society. There are three main religions in Israel; Judaism (77%), Islam (16%), Christianity (3%) and Druz (2%), 2% other minorities such as Messianic, Baha’i, Buddhist … etc. Israeli law explicitly guarantees equal rights to all citizens regardless of their religion or ethnic group. Together with Judaism and Islam, the State of Israel recognizes 10 specific Christian churches for the purposes of civil law, marriages, inheritances … etc. which are: Eastern Orthodox Church, Latin Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Catholic Church, Syrian Catholic Church, Chaldean Church, Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Maronite Church and the Anglican Church. In addition, of these churches, there are other churches, mainly Protestant and Evangelical, not recognized by the State but that practice freely. 40% of Christians are Melchites, followed by 32% who are Greek Orthodox, 20% Catholic, 7% Maronite and the rest belong to other churches.
Visiting Israel, for me, was a great opportunity to get to know the country closely and religiously and politically, as well as the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and buy it from the same in other countries in the area. There I met many Christians from different churches, all assured me that, in Israel there is religious freedom, there is no Christian persecution, besides, Israel is the only democratic country in the East.
Israel is the only State in the Middle and Near East, where Christians live safe, enjoy protection, freedom of expression and worship. No “Arab Muslim” country treats Christians as well as the State of Israel, seeing what happens in the Middle East. In Muslim-majority countries, every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith. Christians are fleeing from their Muslim majority countries, those who are there enduring persecution, are in danger. Israel is the only country in the area where the number of Christians has increased. From 34,000 people since the creation of the country in 1948 to 160,000 in 2014.
Since Jews and Christians believe in the Word of God, they basically have the same religion. The Sacred Scriptures of Judaism consist of three groups of documents: the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (such as Psalms and Proverbs). These Scriptures also form the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. There are many areas of agreement between the two beliefs because Christians also accept the Old Testament and all its teachings as inspired. Judaism, however, does not accept the central Christian teaching that Jesus Christ is the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.
Originally, the Jews believed that God would send a powerful messenger (the Messiah) who would rid Israel of its oppressors and open a kingdom of peace and prosperity. Today, many Jews no longer have a personal messiah, but the hope of a messianic era of justice and truth. For Jews, the coming of the Messiah or the messianic age is still in the future. In fact, the Old Testament is full of hope and this hope is beautifully described in the New Testament.
Destruction of Israel Will Deeply Impact the West
On the other hand, the nature of conflict is established by the aggressor, and the Islamist aggressor continually affirms that his combat against Israel is a Jihad, a Holy War for Allah. This Jihad is not limited to attacking the Jews, and their ancestral homeland and cradle: Israel, but Christians and non-Muslims who are not as Allah commands, as we see in Syria, Iraq, Egypt … etc.
The imam of Gaza, Ahmad Ocaza, declared on November 5, 2018, on Al-Aqsa TV, Gaza, that “the Jihad in Palestine is the most obvious Jihad on earth, that there could be no doubt about Al-Jihad when Muslims fight against the Jews who have occupied their lands. ”
If the Islamists could destroy Israel, the ideological bases would be laid to stop demolishing Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, it would encourage a bloody Jihad in depth and extension in the West, as the Islamists would believe with absolute confidence that Allah is giving them the necessary forces to defeat and destroy without mercy the kuffar (the infidels, the non-believers, the non-Muslims).
In September 2016, at the largest mosque in the world, Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, which contains the Ka’aba, the most sacred place in Islam, the Saudi Imam who directed the prayer urged the killing of Jews and Christians. The prayer was broadcast live on the Egyptian national television channel, Al-Cairo.
“Oh Allah! make the Muslims beat the traitorous Jews, the spiteful Christians and the distrustful hypocrites! O Allah! defeat the unjust Christians and the Jewish criminals, the unjust traitors; beat them with your anger; they make their lives hostages of misery; place them with an endless despair, a relentless pain and an incessant ailment; fill their lives with sadness and pain and end their lives in humiliation and oppression; inflicts torture and punishment on unjust Christians and criminal Jews. This is our supplication, Allah; grant us our request. ”
Ayatullah Jomeiny before his death, said: “Those who do not know anything about Islam claim that Islam advises against war. Those are fools. Islam says: Kill all unbelievers as they would kill you. Killing is a great divine gift. Islam is a religion of blood for the infidels. Outside the mosques, wars should continue. The Prophet had a sword to kill people. ”
The Islamist’s hatred of Christianity
The Islamist’s hatred of Christianity is much stronger and stronger than he feels for the Jew, Judaism and Israel. The primacy in attacking Israel is because it knows that it has a series of support within the Christian world, such as the neo-Nazis and the extreme left. However, once “destroyed Judaism and Israel,” Christians will fall easily, like ripe fruit.
The city of Jerusalem is the place par excellence where that disparity is shown. There are three neighborhoods in the ancient city of Jerusalem where Christians, Jews and Muslims cross continually. The visitor appreciates the cleanliness and is August, safe and loose both in the Jewish and the Christian neighborhood. Contrary to the Muslim quarter where dirt and uncertainty can be seen.
As a “good” researcher, knowing that the best way to get to know the situation and coexistence in the city is to wander through the three neighborhoods approaching ordinary people asking for their opinion.
Speaking Arabic, in the Muslim quarter I went through an “Arab-Muslim” Iraqi supporter of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, to gain the confidence of Arab Palestinian Muslims. Knowing the great admiration of the Palestinians to the figure of Saddam Hussein, which was a great help for the Palestinians, against the Jews and the State of Israel. The majority of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem are on the offensive, they continue to hold a grudge and rejection of every Jew and Zionist, accusing them, along with Christians, of infidels and invaders, waiting for any opportunity to end the State of Israel.
Presenting, as a pro-Jewish Christian, a specialist in monotheism, my surprise was with the Jews themselves; its diversity, its ignorance for its history and its religion. Conversing with several “versed” Jews, my astonishment was the lapses they have among the fundamental concepts of the people of Israel; Hebrew, Israelite, Jewish and Zionist. The basis of this period is that most Jews follow the teachings and interpretations of the rabbis, away from the original teachings of Judaism. Furthermore, the Jews do not know Islam or the origin of the Arabs or the main objective of the Arab-Muslims. Nor do they worry about knowing and approaching Christianity and the Christian churches.
Christians in Jerusalem Are Worried
As a practicing Chaldean Catholic Christian, it did not take me long to integrate into the Christian neighborhood, to have many interesting friends and conversations. The vast majority of Christians in Jerusalem are worried, they live tense in the midst of the Jewish-Muslim conflict. What disturbed me in my meetings with the Christians of Israel, who do not know their origins, many said that they are of Arab race, others believe that they are of Phoenician or Philistine origin. However, all Christians affirm that they are part of this earth and Christianity will never disappear from the Holy Land.
In my opinion and as a conclusion of my visit to the Holy Land, Israel … I propose urgently to constitute a platform or a Jewish-Christian institute, specialist in the Middle East and Near, for action, to speak the truth with courage without fear, without detour, nor courtesy, with the aim of:
- The aim, proclaim and condemn the persecution and genocide of Christians in Arab-Muslim majority countries.
- Obviously, Eastern Christians in general and Israel, in particular, know that we are not of Arab origin, our origins are Jewish. The Christians of Israel are not Arabs or Palestinians but Israelis, they must be faithful to their institutions like any Jew in their homeland.
- We return the Eastern Christians to the roots, to the union with the Jews. Both, we have a common enemy, which is Islam.
- We need that link. It is very important that the Christians of the world look to the Holy Land, help and sustain it. The Holy Land is the witness of the history of Revelation and Salvation. There would be no history without geography. Therefore, it is necessary to go to the Holy Land, to keep alive the memory of the sacred places.
- Islam is not a divine religion. Islam is a one-way dictatorial political social movement, it’s like a prison, very easy to enter, just by expressing the statement of the Muslim faith “There are no gods but Allah and his Prophet Muhammad”, but it is very difficult to leave him. Because leaving Islam is apostasy and betrayal and the condemnation is death. Islam is valid only for the time and place where he was born in the Arabian Peninsula and in the seventh century.
- The Arab-Israeli conflict is not Jerusalem, if it is the capital of the State of Israel or of Palestine. If the Palestinians will have Jerusalem as their capital, the next day they will fight to drive out the Jews from all over the Middle East and Near, and then they will go to the Christians. Later, they fought for Al-Andalus, Ceuta and Melilla. Because according to the Islamic Law in the Koran (Surah 2: 191) “Conquered land, Muslim land forever”.
- For Islam, professing another faith is a sin, secularism is a blasphemy, separation between Faith and State is a rejection, equality between men and women unnatural and progress is a challenge to the divine order and the powerful will of Allah The main objective of Islam is to destroy all religions, conquer the whole world and force their nations to conversion to Islam by force, according to the Qur’an (Surah 9:33). “He is the One who has sent his Envoy with the Direction and with the true religion so that, in spite of the associates, it prevails over all other religions “.
- Not long ago, almost every day we heard about the “dialogue of civilization” or “the encounter between the three cultures or the book” referring to itself (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). But can you dialogue with Islam? The answer is in the Koran (Sura 5:51) “Believers! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as friends. They are friends of each other. Whoever of you befriends them, becomes one of them. Allah does not guide the ungodly people “, the context of this verse is a clear imperative and this verse is of great importance in Islam, which is why it is repeated twelve times in the Qur’an (Surah 4:34, 89, 101, 144) ( Sura 5:33, 57, 82) (Surah 49:15).
- Talk about the Holy Land and make it known. The pilgrimages to the Holy Land is an occasion to help concretely, makes the small Christian community feel supported and part of the universal Church. All who visit the Holy Land come back transformed, different, both believers and those who have less faith or are warmer.
- For those who fear about the security of the area, it is clear: the pilgrimage is safe, there is no danger for the pilgrims, they are respected by all, and the pilgrimage areas are not exposed to any risk or danger.
Finally, I would like to end by quoting, two verses, one from the Tanakh (Old Testament), the sacred book of the Jews, in (Proverbs 3: 1-4) “My son, keep my Law in your heart and without fear, say and tie the truth in your neck, it will take your life. ” Referring to this truth of God, shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus Christ without fear told Pilate in (John 18: 37-38) “For this I was born, and for this I have come, to tell the truth.” To be true Jew, not only to pray the Shema and keep the Shabbat, as well as to be a true Christian, not only to pray the Rosary and go to Mass on Sundays. The true Jewish-Christian, must apply the words of God, be courageous, tell the truth and stop complexing.
Written by Professor Raad Salam Naaman, TPS | Photo TPS
*The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and not necessarily that of GOD TV’s.