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Economic, social and civic value of Christians in the Holy Land overlooked, report reveals

by Kelly Valencia

A new study by the University of Birmingham is warning that the economic, social and civic value of Christians in the Holy Land is being overlooked.

Researchers have established that, under normal circumstances, Christian holy sites and businesses generate $3 billion dollars a year for the Israeli economy.

"Over half of all tourist footfall into Israel comes from Christians, and a quarter of that footfall is to the Christian holy site. So any threat to the tourist sector is a threat to the Christian community, but any threat to the future of the Christian community is a threat to the good of every community in the Holy Land, Israel, Palestine, Jordan," co-author of the report professor Francis Davis told Premier.  

"But the vulnerability is that there have been attempts to tax those Christian businesses and change their legal status by the mayor of Jerusalem. Any attempt would add to the vulnerability of the Christian ecosystem that supports the community to live and to serve," he continued. 

Commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Christianity in the Holy Land and the International Community of the Holy Sepulchre (ICoHS), the report highlighted that despite their contributions, Christians in the Holy Land are faced with a weak local public policy, mistreatment on religious grounds and feel threatened by abusive behaviour.

Researchers also found major concerns that, especially in Israel, an unfair visa system and lack of benefits may undermine recruitment and retention of clergy. 

"We understand from our research that visas...are much harder to get if they're Christian."

The report also calls on regional political leaders to ensure that the law protects the eco-system of Christian hospitality and entrepreneurial services, thereby safeguarding the community and the value of the tourist sector.

But Professor Davis also highlighted some of the things that churches in the UK could do to stand in solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land.

"By writing to your MP, you can change the system around here and the world by expressing solidarity. By partnering with your church with money with time and with prayer.

You can access the full report here. 



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