Israel experienced a dramatic political shift with the re-election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition in 2022. The coalition contains ultra-Orthodox parties, with some that reject the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This past year, the political landscape and the tragic events of 7 October, followed by the Israeli invasion of Gaza, has further alienated the Arab community in Israel. The growing number of Israeli extremist demonstrations in Jerusalem and around the country have incited attacks against Arabs and Christians and their religious sites. At least 10 mosques and churches in the West Bank and within Israel have been vandalized. Police rarely locate the perpetrators of the violence against members of the Arab community.

Approximately 2.5 million Israelis or 26 percent of the population — including 1.1 million children — live just above the poverty line, according to Latet, an Israeli aid organization. An estimated 22.1 percent of households live below the poverty line and lack access to adequate housing, education, health care and food.

Organized crime, violence and murder remain high in the northern Arab areas, in Lod, Ramleh and the Negev. The Israeli government’s longstanding neglect of Arab Israeli communities, coupled with a deeply rooted identity crisis in the population, have allowed organized crime and violence to ensue. In 2022, 116 Palestinian Arabs were killed in circumstances of crime and violence.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission is a papal agency established to serve and accompany the church and those in need in the Holy Land. In this complex setting, our programs provide critical pastoral and humanitarian assistance to sustain the church and the communities it serves. Our programs focus on the cities of Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa, Shefa-’Amr and Kafr Yasif.

Accompanying the Church

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission supports programs for religious and lay leaders, including seminarians of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Galilee. CNEWA-Pontifical Mission also funds the maintenance and expansion of church and pastoral centers and provides parish schools with solar energy systems.

Catechism and parish centers play a vital role in preparing faithful, committed and capable young lay leaders. CNEWA-Pontifical Mission supports catechism programs for children and funds special training in Christian leadership and religious education for youth. We also promote educational and cultural events that help the Christian community to remain faithful to its identity. 

a priest gives communion in a church in Israel.
The Rev. Androwas Bahus serves Communion at St. Andrew the Apostle Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Acre, Israel. (photo: Ilene Perlman)

Responding to Human Needs

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission supports health care and educational facilities operated by the church. Despite the small Catholic population in Israel, the Catholic Church runs 28 schools, employs 1,619 people and educates 16,000 students annually. The four Christian hospitals in the country provide critical care in the many Arab communities that receive inadequate state services.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission operates a green energy and rainwater collection program that serves to reduce the overhead costs of Christian service organizations. CNEWA-Pontifical Mission has also funded the installation of hydroponic systems for growing organic vegetables. In addition to reducing overhead costs, these interventions respond to the call of Pope Francis to care for creation.

CNEWA-Pontifical Mission, in partnership with the Comboni Missionary Sisters in Jaffa and the Teresians and Passionist Fathers in Jerusalem, provides humanitarian and social programs to support at-risk migrant Catholic communities, prioritizing programs that support women.

Diddy Mymin Kahn, center, listens to Comboni Missionary Sister Azezet Kidane, right, from Eritrea, as she speaks to asylum seekers at the Kuchinate African Refugee Women’s Collective in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 4 August 2020. Sister Aziza and Dr. Kahn are co-directors of Kuchinate. (photo: Debbie Hill)

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