Al-Rahi Vows to Help Displaced Arab Israelis

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

The Maronite Patriarch vowed Wednesday to help the displaced Christians of a village in northern Israel, as he pushed forward with a controversial trip to the Jewish state.

In 1948, six months after Israel was established, the army asked Iqrit and Kufr Bir'im's residents to leave their homes for two weeks because of military operations in the area.

But they were never allowed to go back. The army razed most of Iqrit in 1951 and did the same to Kufr Bir'im two years later.

"We are with you and we will help you however we can," Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi told exiled villagers of Kufr Bir'im, near the border, who now live in nearby towns and cities.

"We will work through the Vatican and lobby the pope until the world hears your case," he said, two days after Pope Francis wound up a historic visit to the Holy Land.

In a letter to the pontiff, the people of Kufr Bir'im and Iqrit, all of them Catholics, begged Francis to "intensify" efforts to pressure Israel to end the injustice inflicted upon their community.

Al-Rahi's visit, timed to coincide with that of the pope, was condemned by media close to Hizbullah, which said travelling to arch-enemy Israel would be a "sin."

The trip is diplomatically noteworthy because Lebanon remains technically at war with Israel and bans its citizens from entering the Jewish state.

But Maronite clergy are permitted to travel to Israel to minister to the estimated 10,000 faithful there.

Comments 7
Missing phillipo 28 May 2014, 15:29

I'd think that nearly all those people behind him are locals, now living in other villages in the area.

Thumb beiruti 28 May 2014, 15:36

Patriarch is making those who opposed his pilgrimage look small, narrow minded and venial, with no vision past the passing moment. Patriarch is stirring up the status quo, a necessary action if we are to see some sort of change from the static nature of the present conflict so as to move it off of dead center, hopefully toward some favorable resolution.

Thumb beiruti 28 May 2014, 17:40

The President was covering his backside with the small, narrow minded and venial political elements in Lebanon when he criticized the Patriarch's visit. And yes, President Suliman lacked vision, I will say it.
For Hezbollah, they have a whole industry built on demonization of "the other" so as to justify their faux "resistance". Demonization requires keeping one's people ignorant of the other so that you may propagandize and manipulate your people, which Hezbollah does so well. Knowledge is not the friend of the demagogue and this is why they have opposed Patriarch's visit.

Missing Ghazanfar 29 May 2014, 00:22

Intellectually bankrupted coward with no integrity just like his senile master, when his ignorance is embarrassed by the facts he start attacking others.

Missing coolmec 28 May 2014, 16:59

what I fail to see is how come you guys don't see the fact that the batrak is as bad as our politicians. He belongs to the same group. This group who is currently pushing the country into the abyss. Time for change time to remove these leaders with antiquated beliefs and replace them with the young and vibrant

Missing coolmec 28 May 2014, 17:10

Wisdom does come with age but such a theory does not apply to our leaders. The only wisdom they get with age is a stronger attachment to their position manifested by further corruption and cronyism. If you only want to compare Aoun to geagea I of course prefer geagea as I view Aoun as a traitor to his country to his sect who has no problem destroying what is left of the country to get the presidency. Of course he is too much of an idiot to realize that he will never be president, yet he pursues the path of Christian destruction couple with the destruction of what is left of the state's institutions.

Missing abdallah 29 May 2014, 01:57

Lol the batrak will go home with empty hands after his imaginary 15 minutes of fame. Just another self-worshiping con artist with a fancy hat collection.