Published: 2023-09-27 17:34
Last Updated: 2024-02-25 01:11
Archbishop Mounib Younan of Jerusalem has called for an end to attempts at "Judaizing Jerusalem and the religious sites in Bethlehem, including both Islamic and Christian landmarks."
He stated his intention to visit London to hold the British government accountable for the "historical responsibility for the Palestinian plight since the Nakba (catastrophe)" and the establishment of Israeli Occupation in 1948.
During his "nationalistic, awareness-raising political" discussions, the former head of the Lutheran Church Union emphasized his visit's purpose to "shed light on the forgotten Christians in Jerusalem" and to demand a fair and peaceful solution to the Palestinian issue, which he views as the key to stability in the culturally and historically diverse Middle East.
In his first visit of this "politically charged activism," Younan lamented that "both Christians and Muslims face attacks and harassment by the Occupation" and urged Christians to hold onto their homeland, resisting the temptation to migrate from their homes.
He also rejected the characterization of them as a "minority or protected people, as their numbers have diminished in Palestine," asserting that they are an integral part of the authentic Arab identity, unwavering in their heritage and culture.
Since the Nakba in 1948, the number of Christians in Palestine has decreased from hundreds of thousands to less than 1.25 percent of the total population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – approximately 50,000, alongside 170,000 in the occupied territories.
A Palestinian Arab Christian himself, Archbishop Younan insisted on identifying as an "Arab Palestinian Christian still holding a UNRWA card, designated for Palestinian refugees since the Nakba."
The Balfour Declaration's birthplace witnessed Archbishop Younan challenging legislators in the House of Lords and participating in "nationalistic political awareness" seminars regarding the Palestinians' right to their historical homeland and their suffering under occupation.
To political, legislative, and religious figures in Britain, he explained the "repeated violations and intrusions" suffered by both the churches and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, within the context of "attempts to erase the landmarks of the Old City of Jerusalem, especially the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah."
The head of the Cambridge Center for Palestinian Studies, Makram Khoury, who organized Archbishop Younan's five-day visit, affirmed that the suffering of Palestinian Christians resonates with the entire Palestinian people, underscoring the importance of conveying their voice to the West about the Palestinians' hardships.
Scottish Minister for Church Affairs, William McLaren, who joined in the activities, recalled how he discovered the "lack of justice" for Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem after working in one of its churches.
Ambassador at Large for Palestine, Afif Emile Safieh, also discussed the persecution of Christians and attempts to "uproot" them since the inception of the occupation.
He denounced what he termed as the occupation's and the West's policies of spreading fear and misinformation, now known as "Islamophobia and Arabophobia," commending the historical unity between Muslims and Christians in Palestine.