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World Center

B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider met in July with Bishara Shlayan – an Israeli Greek Orthodox merchant marine captain who initiated earlier this year the “Forum for the Enlistment of the Christian Community”.

The meeting was held together with Rev. Petra Heldt, director of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel, as part of their joint “Liaison Committee” activities, and Christian scholar Malcolm Lowe. The four toured Christian sites in Nazareth and discussed the effect of recent demographic changes in the city – which some thirty years ago had a strong Christian majority and Moslem minority – have had on its Christian residents.

The forum was established to help local Christian to become totally integrated into Israeli society by shouldering their fair share of the burden of national service. Shlayan said that his community’s future as a Christian minority in intertwined with that of the State of Israel and that they want to contribute their share. He and the group’s spiritual leader, Greek Orthodox priest Gavriel Nadaf, are being persecuted by the Arab-Israeli political establishment that has historically prevented the 120,000 strong indigenous Christian community from taking a position independent of the much larger Arab-Moslem population in the country.