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Palestinian Christians Struggle With Israeli Occupation

Father Johnny Abu Khalil, a Catholic priest from Nablus, recounts the challenges faced by Palestinian Christians.
Worshippers carry a cross in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday during Holy Week, in Jerusalem's Old City March 29, 2013. Christian worshippers retraced the route Jesus took along Via Dolorosa to his crucifixion in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter. REUTERS/Nir Elias (JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION) - RTXY1SJ

To be a Christian from the land of Jesus Christ is a blessing that not many can claim to share. But this blessing brings with it a daily struggle to preserve our traditions and uphold Christian practices. Faith has not disappeared, hope still guides our lives, but the lack of response to our plight makes many in our community wonder whether the world really cares about us. Israeli restrictions on our freedom of worship throughout the year should remind the world of its responsibility to help end oppression and occupation in the Holy Land.

Israeli politicians say one thing loud and clear: They want recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as the “eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people.” The Palestinian people, Christians and Muslims, suffer on a daily basis from this concept of exclusivity, which goes entirely against our internationally recognized inalienable, civil and political rights. To someone who believes that Jerusalem is the exclusive property of Israel, refusal of entry to millions of Christian and Muslim Palestinians and denial of their right to pray perhaps seems acceptable. So far, no international action has been taken to ensure that this discriminatory policy by the occupying power is brought to an end.

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