On January 3, the news agency Rome Reports published an interview with Macarena Cotelo, Director of Social Promotion Projects, to discuss the current situation in the Holy Land, and how it could affect the decision of the president of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Conflicts in the Holy Land push local Christians to leave”
Jerusalem is the Holy City for the three great religions of the world that venerate in it emblematic places for their faith. It is a melting pot of cultures and a unique city with a special vocation for peace, as Pope Francis affirms.
That is why the United States President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is of particular concern.
Macarena Cotelo, Project Director, Social Promotion:
– “It will affect all Palestinians equally. I do know that I am receiving messages from Christians who are concerned about their future, but it is the concern they have been dragging all these years. There is uncertainty about what will happen now. In that sense I would say that Palestinian Muslims and Christians share the same problem and the same challenge. Evidently this does not help in any way to the coexistence with the Jews because this way it is mixed again the political and the religious in a dangerous way.”
Macarena Cotelo is the project director of the Social Promotion Foundation one of the few organizations that has been working continuously since the 90s to promote coexistence and strengthen the Christian presence in a land where it is increasingly more difficult to be Christian.
– “The immediate effect of conflicts in the Holy Land is that they push Christians to leave. Palestinians have families outside and it is relatively easy, though painful, to leave again. They are really the ones who are in the most delicate situation because they are a minority.”
To prevent this Diaspora, the organization cooperates in educational and development projects that give value to the Christian presence between Muslims and Jews. For two decades they have been promoting the creation of Christian schools where children of different religions study.
– “We always thought it was a wonderful model to support because, on the one hand, they are spaces of peaceful coexistence where children learn to grow together from a very early age. They are Muslims and Christians together and, at the same time, these centers reinforce the Christian presence in the Holy Land.”
They try to provide real solutions to the problems between Palestinians and Jews, such as the issue of water, a critical point in the Arab-Israeli conflict, or the lack of energy in areas such as Gaza where there are about 2,000 Christians.
– “There are still Christians. There is a parish and two schools of the Latin Patriarchate. An old one, which we helped to rehabilitate and now it is a complex that protects, so to speak, the congregation of the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa who have a small convent to attend to the disabled and is an area of security for Christians; and a larger school that, in some of the last conflicts, has been a refuge for entire families.”
The work done by this foundation serves to remind us that peace in the Holy Land is very fragile and that any hasty decision can throw away the delicate work of those who do work to guarantee a future of coexistence in the region.