CHRISTIAN EMBASSY PRESS STATEMENTS

PRESS RELEASE #1, SEPTEMBER 1, 1996

WE CHRISTIANS REJECT ARAFAT"S JERUSALEM CLAIMS:

New York, Beirut, Cairo, Northern Iraq, Syria, South Sudan
September 1, 1996

ARAFAT, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF JERUSALEM: WE WILL OPPOSE THE SECOND ARAB INVASION OF THE CITY

Mr Yasser Arafat, this is to let you know that we, leaders and organizations representing millions of Middle East Christians reject your policies of taking over Jerusalem. The 12 million Copts of Egypt, 7 million south Sudanese, 2 million Assyro-Chaldeans, 1 million Syriac, 7 million Lebanese Christians and Maronites, as well as Christian minorities in Jordan, Iran, Syria, Israel, and elsewhere, oppose the attempts to launch a second Arab invasion of the Holy city. Jerusalem was conquered by force by Moslem armies in the seventh century. The Christians of the Middle East were brutalized and opressed for thirteen centuries, and are still submitted to human rights abuses, as well as denied their right for determination.

Arafat's attempts to control the city reminds us of the days and centuries of suppression and dhimmitude. The establishment of the state of Israel is a sign from God, that non-Arabs, and non-Moslems in the region have a right to live in freedom, and Peace.

We reject the PLO order in Jerusalem, and call on Middle East and Western Christians to join forces against this imperialist Jihad. We will never accept an Arab-Islamic control of Jerusalem. We trust Israel to defend the holy city, and keep it open to all Christians, Moslems, and Jews.

Issued by: International Coptic Associations
Assyrian National Congress
Gathering of Syriac Intellectuals
World Maronite Union
World Lebanese Organization
South Sudan Movement in the Diaspora
Middle East Catholic League
Free Orthodox Youth

Middle East Christian Committee (Umbrella organization)
Stan Goodenough
Middle East Intelligence Digest
PO Box 1192
Jerusalem 91010
ISRAEL
Tel: ..972.2.631418
Fax: ..972.2.631062
email: meid@icej.org.il


PRESS RELEASE #2, SEPTEMBER 1, 1996

In response to the repeated calls last week by Yasser Arafat and Patriarch Michel Sabbah, both Palestinian Arabs, for Christians to gather at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to protest against Israel's policies on Jerusalem, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, representing many believing Christians all over the world, issues the following statement:

Countless references in the Bible confirm that Jerusalem is vitally important to the God of Israel, whom Christians worship, and that the city has been given, along with the Land of Israel, as an eternal inheritance to the Jewish people.

Attempts by Palestinian liberation theologists to twist Scriptures to serve their political purposes cannot change this reality.

Furthermore, despite transparent attempts by Arafat and others to paint Israel as not guaranteeing religious freedom, the fact is that whereas Muslims have historically restricted the access of Jews and Christians to pray at places sacred to them - and continue to do so to this day in the case of the Temple Mount - Israel has indeed preserved, protected, and guaranteed access to Christian and Islamic sites.

We would also point out that representatives of small Palestinian Arab churches do not speak on behalf of Christians, nor even of "Middle Eastern Christians", of which there are 12 million Copts in Egypt, seven million Africans in South Sudan, two million Assyro-Chaldeans in North Iraq, 1.5 million Lebanese Christians, Maronites and others, (and another six million Lebanese Christians spread around the world), and the Armenians.

The opinions of "spokesmen for the Arab Christians" such as Hanan Ashrawi or the patriarchs in Jerusalem should be seen in this context.

We call upon Christian leaders around the world to challenge this Palestinian misuse of the Scriptures to promote their political goals, especially in the light of the fact that, as we have mentioned, the Muslim authorities between 1948 and 1967 forbade Jews from worshipping at the Western Wall, and until today bar Jews and Christians from praying on God's holy hill.

Signed

INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY JERUSALEM
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Spokesman
Stan Goodenough
Middle East Intelligence Digest
PO Box 1192
Jerusalem 91010
ISRAEL
Tel: ..972.2.631418
Fax: ..972.2.631062
email: meid@icej.org.il

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