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A Man from Galilee

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A Man from Galilee

Elias Chacour is the Archbishop of Galilee in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He is the founder of Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, Israel and the author We Belong to this Land and Blood Brothers.

In 1939, he was born in the village of Biram in what British-controlled Palestine. During the war that resulted in the founding of Israel, 8-year old Elias and the rest of Biram's inhabitants were evicted by Jewish soldiers, who said it was for their own “safety”. However, the army continued occupying the village and eventually declared it a closed security zone. Later, the Treasury Ministry confiscated 3,000 acres of Biram's farming land.

As a result, Biram's residents became a kind of internally displaced people.  If, like Archbishop Chacour, they stayed in Israel and were granted citizenship, they were classified by the state as “Present Absentees.” Villagers of Biram won an Israeli court case in 1951. That ruling said that the lands of the village should be returned. So far only the cemetery was returned to the original inhabitants.

Archbishop Chacour told Jerome how Palestinians in Israel got where they are today.

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