Thursday, March 08, 2007

Unhappy Easter - thousands to stay away

The Holy Sepulcher may be a little less crowded this Easter.

Some 2000 Egyptian Christians will be denied exit visas by authorities in Cairo, thwarting their annual Easter pilgrimage to Jerusalem, according to Israeli press reports today. These would-be travelers, mostly Coptic or Greek Orthodox, are further incensed because Jerusalem hotels refuse to refund their deposits, and insist that foreign Christian visitors have already reserved rooms elsewhere for high season. Egyptian Christians find themselves unwitting pawns in the row between their predominantly Muslim country and its Jewish neighbour state.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel have heightened recently during the spy trial of Mohamed Essam Ghoneim, who allegedly worked undercover for Mossad.
And a diplomatic spat over an Israeli documentary doesn't help matters much.

Shaked Spirit
, which aired last week, relates how during the Six Day War, an Israeli elite unit killed 250 enemy captives. Egypt regards the slaughter of hundreds of unarmed POWS as a notorious 60s war crime. Fuming Arab politicians want to re-examine financial ties and trade with Israel after this old controversy was resurrected.

So far, there has been no perceptible change in the number of visitors to the Holy Sepulcher following another controversial documentary: the broadcast of James Cameron's 90-minute special about the "Lost Tomb of Jesus" this week. The Titanic director and the "Naked Archaeologist" Simcha Jacobovici conjectured that the remains of Jesus Christ and his family were discovered in a crypt in suburban Jerusalem, even though most archaeologists who specialize in the Near East were highly skeptical of such claims. And the docu-drama doesn't have a prayer of changing the minds of any true believers. Yet if the claims prove valid, the discovery at Talpiyot would contradict the essential Christian tenets of Resurrection and Ascension. Every spring, thousands of Christian pilgrims flock to the little chapel built atop an empty tomb at the heart of the walled city to celebrate Easter Mass. By all accounts, they are continuing to do so in droves.

1 comment:

pondering Jew said...

The Beeb now reports that the Israeli documentary was in error. The POWs they slaughtered were Palestinians, not Egyptians. Dunno if that will placate the Egyptians. Maybe it is the Mossad deep cover guy.

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