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We are woken at 5.00 a.m. by an earthquake. Well it sounds like an earthquake. The only member of our group who will be pleased by this is Charlene. She is very interested in earthquakes and records their occurrences on her computer daily. I ask her why she does this? Is it because she has a scientific interest? She tells me that she does … but that they are also ‘signs of the times’. Actually, as it turns out, our ‘earthquake’ is the dust cart collecting the rubbish from the local shops and houses. We hope that this is a weekly, and not a daily, collection. Well I guess that there had to be a downside somewhere about stopping in this great little hotel.

Julia spends an inordinate length of time in the super shower and I follow suit. Another hot day is forecast. We are getting used to daily temperatures of around 33 degrees. We enjoy a really nice breakfast and then head up to the Seminary in time for this morning’s lecture. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk up the hill to the college and we see it as part of our fitness regime for the month. Today Azar is enlightening us on the subject of  ‘Christian Arabs in Israel’ … and it is an excellent lecture, with plenty of time for questions and discussion, and we learn a lot. We also love the way lectures happen over here with various breaks for coffee, phone calls, and interruptions from the office. Just like being back at Spurgeon’s College really?!

Essentially the lecture is about the fact that evangelical Arab Christians are a minority within a minority within a minority. The population of Israel is approximately 7.5 million of which only 160,000 are Arabs. Of these 90% are Moslem and only 10% are Christian. Of these Arab Christians somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 are evangelical Christians. There are also about 15,000 Messianic Jews. Although they often have relatives in the Palestinian territories, Israeli Arabs are often seen as ‘not quite the ticket’ by the Palestinians for remaining in Israel. It is absorbing stuff and Julia and I come away wishing that more western Christians would take the time and trouble to really learn about the situation here in Israel and not simply ‘buy into’ the very biased stuff that is churned out on the various ‘God Channels’ on our TVs at home.

After the lecture we have the rest of the day free so Julia and I walk back to our hotel, stopping off at a supermarket to buy some stuff for lunch. We think that it will be cheaper to do this than to buy something from one of the food outlets or restaurants en route. Julia buys a huge bag of almonds as well … so it would probably have been cheaper to have gone to a restaurant after all! When we get back to our hotel we have a rather yumacious picnic in our room, followed by a power nap, before I get down to writing up my daily blog which is now several days behind schedule.

Dinner is at 7.00 p.m. but at wine o’clock (that is 6.00 p.m. for the uninitiated) Julia and I play hooky and stroll down to one of the cafes in the square by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation for a couple of cold beers. They are almost as good as the Arabic coffee that I am fast becoming addicted to! We stroll back in time for another splendid meal up on the terrace. This evening they bring us candles as well as food … it all looks very romantic … they are obviously out to impress. I guess they would like the regular business that NETS have to offer. The Arabs in Nazareth are so pleased to actually have people like us staying in Nazareth. Apparently the tourists normally just bus into Nazareth, do the sites, and then leave again all in the one day. We wonder if this is because most of the tour guides are Jews and Nazareth is 100% an Arab city?

Jim Binney

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