HOLY LAND – On September 12-20, 2017, a delegation of French journalists traveled through part of the Middle East, from Lebanon to Jordan, passing through Palestine and Jerusalem. This “press trip” was organized partly by l’Œuvre d’Orient in cooperation with the Latin Patriarchate as part of the exhibition “Christians of the East, 2000 years of history”, which will open on September 26 at the Institute of the Arab World in Paris. Through the testimony of some of them, the Exhibit offers the opportunity to retrace the stages of this visit.
The journey began with a Lebanese immersion in the reality of Maronite. It continued with the visit of Jordan: the land “beyond the Jordan” through many Christian sites and finally reaching the heart of the Holy City, Jerusalem and then Abu Gosh. Finally, in the West Bank through Bethlehem, and Jericho. In these three countries, the journalists were able to discover the historical sites of Christianity and experienced encounters with the living stones of the various Eastern Churches: Christians of the Holy Land, Syrian and Iraqi refugees, priests and leaders of the different Eastern Churches … A journey to the roots of Christianity that also carried them into the reality of 21st century Christians. On the last day of this trip, the Latin Patriarchate gathered the first impressions and reflections of the journalists without wanting to summarize the extreme complexity of the situation of this land, collection of testimonies offers in a synthetic way, the crossover look of 21st century travelers, accustomed to describing the world and trying to decipher it on a daily basis. A Travelogue.
Christian Makarian (L’Express),
“Behind all the threats facing the Christians of the East, there is a challenge that far surpasses religious concerns, and the link between France and the Middle East. The fate of the Christians of the East is a multiple Middle East, a Middle East open to the rest of the world. The fracture line is breaking this diversity because of an ideology that identifies “Islam as the Arab world and the Arab world is Islam”. This is false and the Christians of the East remember that, but they do so at the cost of suffering and persecution. There is another threat: the ignorance of the West, and in particular the ignorance of the intellectuals in this matter. Daesh is not the only threat, there is also contempt and oblivion.”
Sami Boukhelifa (RFI),
“Having been on the ground in Iraq, I knew the tragic plight of these Christians, who have been driven out and uprooted from these lands. But I discovered here another phase of the suffering of Christians through Palestine. There is this fear in many, that Christians of the East will disappear, which is unfortunately happening in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The younger generation is tired of colonization and injustice, and claims to have no longer any reason to stay. The problem of Christians in the Holy Land is different from that of Christians in Syria or Iraq, but the result is the same: Christians are driven out. ”
Anne-Cécile Baudouin (Paris Match)
“Jerusalem was a shock. Although we were aware of the situation, we really must be there to see and to believe, that such a situation exists in 2017. Suffering is inscribed in the walls. Everywhere we went, we met people who are deeply rooted to this land and do not want to leave. I leave and ask myself how the situation may evolve and at the same time have much hope because these Christians resist. I was impressed by the incredible work of the priests, who offer the essential: God is love. ”
Isabel Pasquier (France Inter)
“What I saw during this exciting journey is obviously partial, I am well aware of it. The great shock for me was Jerusalem where Christian and Muslim communities are suffering. The young Christians we met are deeply in love with Jerusalem and they want to stay. But at what price? I found hope by listening to the testimony of a priest in Jordan who cares for refugees, both Christians or Muslims. He speaks of them as the saints of the 21st century and says he is happy to be at their service. When you hear this, you find hope, beyond religion. ”
Eric Biétry-Rivierre (Le Figaro)
“This is the essential point: in Europe, we know nothing about the Christians of the East. We must return to the foundation. The Bible, of course, but also ancient and recent history. We are in the dark about too many things in France. Whether we are believers or not, this story is exciting because it has direct consequences on us. I hope it will also inspire my readers. ”
* These statements are attributed only attributed to individual journalists and not to the media organizations they work for.
** This “press trip” was jointly organized by Alice Mogagbad, head of the Beirut Film Festival, L’Oeuvre d’Orient, the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and the Latin Patriarchate.