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‘Something Is Going Wrong,’ Nazareth Bishop Says

Church leaders in Israel continue to raise awareness about increased violence against the local Christian community — one of several serious issues convulsing Israeli society in recent months.

Tensions in Israel have been increasing on several fronts since January, including violent eruptions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and protests around a controversial bill, which was passed on 24 July, limiting the power and reach of the country’s Supreme Court.

According to national statistics, 185,000 Christians live in Israel. Almost half, about 80,000, were living in Nazareth. However, many young couples have left, seeking the relative safety of towns that are not predominantly Christian, said Bishop Rafic Nahra, auxiliary bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and patriarchal vicar for Israel.

While there “surely is not an organized activity or policy of the government against Christians,” the reaction from government and law enforcement officials to the increased violence is “very, very weak.”

“There is no real protection that is given,” he added.

This violence against Christians increased noticeably since January, less than one month after Israel’s new coalition government began at the end of December.

“Something is going wrong,” the bishop said. “For sure, the extremists who hesitated before [the new government came into office] to do such acts … feel more secure.”

Watch the video interview with Bishop Nahra and read more on “Living a Christian Life in the Land of Jesus” in the June 2023 issue of ONE.

Laura Ieraci is editor of ONE.

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