National Geographic : 2009 Jun
in a hothouse world, where go-betweens are in constant danger of being trampled---by Mus- lims, by Jews, or by Western Christians, who (not unlike the crusaders) look right through them as they race past to stake their claim on God s holy ground. On Easter morning, Mark and Lisa make a handsome couple in their Sunday clothes, lead- ing Nate and Nadia by the hand up the side- walk to the family car, a middle-aged, maroon Honda. It s a proud moment, their rst Easter together in the Holy Land, and Lisa, noticing the thick coat of dust on the car, asks Mark to give it a rinse. He fetches a hose and connects it to a faucet they share with their neighbors, who come out on the porch and stand, watch- ing, in their ka yehs and head scarves. In an animated voice, Lisa explains to the kids that Daddy s giving the car a bath for Easter. Right on cue, with a playful ourish, Mark squeezes the nozzle on the hose. Nothing comes out. He checks the faucet, squeezes again. Still nothing. So there he stands, empty hose in hand, in front of his kids, his neighbors, and a visitor from overseas. "I guess they ve opened the pipes to the settlements," he says quietly, gesturing to the hundreds of new Israeli housing units climbing up the hills nearby. "No more [water] for us." Lisa is still trying to explain this to the kids as the car pulls away from the curb. "I hate the Israelis," Lisa says one day, out of the blue. "I really hate them. We all hate them. I think even Nate s starting to hate them." Is that a sin? I ask. "Yes, it is," she says. "And that makes me a sin- ner. But I confess my sins when I go to church, and that helps. I m learning not to hate. In the meantime, I go to confession." "Hate destroys the spirit of those who hate," says Father Ra q Khoury, a so -spoken Pales- tinian priest who hears his share of confessions at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. "But even in the midst of all these troubles, all this vio- lence and despair driving Christians away, you can see new life in the faces of young people and experience the hope that is God s gi to human- ity. at is the message of Easter." Yet even at Easter, Arab Christians seem Fight or ight? For many Iraqi Christians targeted by jihadists for death or kidnapping, the answer was ight to Syria or Lebanon, where Faraj Hermez (right), of Kirkuk, sought refuge for his wife and ten children. In east Beirut, Milad Assaf (le ) is a proud member of the Lebanese Forces, a Maronite Christian political party backed by well-armed volunteers. CHRISTIANS ARE THE ENVOYS OF A FORGOTTEN WORLD, BEARING THE FIERCE AND HUNTED SPIRIT OF THE EARLY CHURCH.