the Galilee town of Kfar Baram.
Prior to the start of the camp, the ICAA published the following
Hebrew-language press release:
"…[From] July 30 - August 3 will be held the first Christian Aramean
children’s camp following the historic recognition by the State of
Israel and the Jewish people of the Arabic-speaking Christians in the
Land as the descendants of the Aramean nation.
"The Israeli Aramaic Christian Association under the management of
IDF Maj. (res.) Shadi Khalloul…persists despite various attacks,
provocations and threats emanating from Arab and Islamist elements that
are determined to prevent us from returning to our Aramean roots and
preserving our language that was in the past shared by Jews and Arameans
living in the Land.
"We as a movement will continue to strengthen our partnership with
the Jews and be loyal citizens of the state… We will continue the
struggle to preserve our heritage and our language centered on the
ancient settlement of Kfar Baram.
“The Maronite Christians of Baram have integrated into the State of
Israel in various roles, including as member of the security forces and
the IDF. Many also do national service and enjoy a dignified life
together with their brothers, the Jews, in the State of Israel.”
As noted in the press release, the camp will be held in and with a
focus on Kfar Baram, which is of great symbolic importance to the
Israeli Christian community.
Kfar Baram was originally a Jewish village dating back at least till
the time of Queen Esther. Remains of a large ancient synagogue are
clearly visible. At some point between the 7th and 13th centuries AD,
Jews abandoned the village for unknown reasons. Several centuries later,
Kfar Baram had become a fully Christian village.
During the War of Independence in 1948, the IDF captured Kfar Baram
and resettled its Christian population elsewhere. Due to the village’s
close proximity to the Lebanese border, and Israel’s wary approach at
the time to Arabic-speaking Christians, the inhabitants were forbidden
to return to Kfar Baram after the war for fear it would become a point
of terrorist infiltration.
That fear has clearly been put to rest today, as Israel now views its
Christian population as a loyal and integral part of Israeli society. As
such, the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association is at the forefront of
efforts to rebuild Kfar Baram and return the community to its ancestral
In a previous interview, Khalloul told Israel Today that
rebuilding Kfar Baram is important not only to local Christians, but to
Israel at large as it would blunt the Arabs’ ability to cynically use
Christians in their anti-Israel agenda.