Voices from the Holy Land: Part two
Last autumn, representatives of the United Reformed Church visited Israel and Palestine, with an aim to promote awareness, prayer and solidarity. Charissa King shares stories from some of the people they met
Nael Abu Rahmoun
I have four different parts to my identity. When I introduce myself, I say: I’m an Arab, I’m a Palestinian, I’m Christian and I’m Israeli as well.
I’m an Arab because I belong to the Arabic language, culture and traditions. Some hear the word ‘Arabs’ and think Muslims but before Islam started there were already Arabs, and most of the Muslims in the world are not Arabs. In the book of Acts, when you read about Pentecost, there are about 15 different nations in Jerusalem, including the Arabs. I especially like this – they had different nationalities but were all Jewish by faith.
My nationality is Palestinian. Thirdly, I’m a Christian, a vicar in Nazareth. Sometimes people will ask: ‘When were you converted to Christianity?’ It’s a sad question, because they don’t know about the Christian community here. Since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, there has always been Christians here. Today, we are a minority within a minority. In Israel we are less than 2%, and that’s being generous.
To make it more complicated, I’m an Israeli citizen. I was born in the state of Israel and my documents are Israeli. My parents were born here, before the establishment of the state of Israel. My grandfather kept his homeland; he didn’t move. Those who stayed, stayed without any identity for the first four to five years. They had no other option than to get Israeli ID and Israeli citizenship. They call us ‘Arab Israelis’, ‘Arabs of 1948’, ‘Arab Israeli Palestinians’.
I’m not proud of being an Israeli citizen but I would love to tell you one day that I’m proud. I want to be a happy citizen of Israel. But for now, I don’t enjoy real democracy…
Nael Abu Rahmoun is Vicar of Christ Church, Nazareth. Charissa King is Production and Marketing Officer for Reform
This is an extract from an article that was published in the March 2020 edition of Reform