As Christmas approaches, devout Christians feel the need to reconnect with the places where Christ was born and raised, where he tried to spread his message, where he suffered and died. They are beguiled by trips offered by travel companies and Tourist Israel. The Holy Land includes modern day Israel, Palestine and western Jordan.
This business is booming. Do the virtuous seekers of spiritual healing know that they are going to some of the most disputed, heartbreakingly conflicted zones in the world today? Over the centuries, various holy land sites have been sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jewish believers believe these were promised to them by Abraham, and for Muslims, Jerusalem is where Prophet Mohammed was sent glorious dreams and despatches from Allah. For centuries the three faiths were able to coexist in peace. Not any longer.
The current Israeli government is exerting its dominance like never before. Bethlehem has been turned into a walled prison; last year Palestinians were denied entry into Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, one of Islam’s most revered sites. Benjamin Netanyahu’s voracious mission is now backed by Donald Trump and various fanatical US Christians, to the extent that the President moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, to show Muslim Arabs that they meant nothing to him or his government. The all-powerful Abrahamic God, it seems, has been colonised.