To the Editor:
European bishops are concerned that “Christians must be able to remain in Jerusalem” (article in the June 2, 2022, Catholic Messenger), since alleged Israeli transgressions apparently threaten Christian presence in the holy city.
Let me remind these bishops what Jerusalem, or rather what East Jerusalem, was like when controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan from 1948-1967. In East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule:
• All Jews were expelled
• Jews were barred from the city and the Western Wall
• 58 synagogues were destroyed, looted and/or desecrated
• Jewish tombstones were used to build roads and latrines
• Christian schools were strictly controlled
• Christian schools were made to close on Friday instead of Sunday
• Christian schools were required to teach the Koran
• Christians were prohibited from buying real estate
• Christian pilgrim numbers were limited during Christmas and Easter
• The Christian population declined from 25,000 to less than 13,000
• No Israelis (no matter their religion) were allowed to enter the city
Only under Israeli rule since 1967, true freedom of worship exists for all religions in a united Jerusalem. Very significantly, Israel is the only country in the ever-turbulent Middle East where the Christian population is actually growing.
As long as the Israelis are in charge, I do see Christians remaining in Jerusalem. Perhaps these European bishops should thank rather than vilify Israel.
Allan Ross, Executive Director
Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities