Arab Christian Exodus

Arab Christians are leaving Israel faster than ethnic Jews are immigrating. More than one-quarter of the Christian Arabs in Israel are expected to leave, according to a recent survey by Hatem Khouri, a professor at Oranim Teachers College in Haifa. An estimated 107,000 native Christians live in Israel.

“People, especially Christians, are complaining nowadays that they are not able to get equal opportunities or appropriate work,” said Khouri. “We have hundreds of educated people who cannot find suitable jobs.”

The exodus is especially evident in Bethlehem, where a sharp decline in tourism because of the Persian Gulf War and the Palestinian uprising has created an economic slump, forcing thousands to leave for the United States and other countries. Christians have been exiting Bethlehem since Israel was declared a state in 1948, but an estimated 18,000 have left since the 1967 Middle East War. Now, with only a trickle of tourists visiting the site of Jesus’ birth, 80 of 84 restaurants, all six of the town’s hotels, and 400 workshops that produced souvenirs are closed. The overall unemployment rate in Bethlehem is 50 percent, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

“It’s a disaster,” said Elias Freij, a Christian who has been mayor of Bethlehem for 20 years. “There have been no tourists in town for a year,” he told the Tribune. “Many people are living on the edge of poverty.”

Koreans Plant Churches

Korean believers are leading the way in the Moscow area when it comes to planting churches, having already established four congregations (three Presbyterian and one Methodist) with hundreds of members, mostly ethnic Russians. According to a report in National & International Religion Report, the ...

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