Maronites in Israel

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History of Phoenicians
Byzantine Empire  · Crusades
Marada  · Mardaites
History of Lebanon
1958 Lebanon crisis  · Lebanese Civil War

Religious affiliation
Maronite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East
Lebanese Maronite Order
Mar Bechara Boutros Raï

Lebanese politics
Lebanese nationalism
Kataeb Party  · March 14 Alliance

Cypriot Maronite Arabic  · Lebanese Arabic  · Aramaic

Cyprus · Israel · Lebanon · Jordan · Syria

v · Maronites are an ethnoreligious group in the Middle East that have been historically tied with Lebanon. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Mar Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the Maronite Church,[1] most of whose members currently live in Lebanon. The Maronite community in Israel numbers about 6,700, most of whom live in the Galilee,[1] close to the Lebanese border. The Maronites in Israel encompass the long existing community in Jish area and the families of former SLA militia members who fled South Lebanon in April-May 2000.

The Maronite Church has been in formal communion with the Roman Catholic Church since 1182, and is the only Eastern church which is entirely Catholic.[1] As a Uniate body (an Eastern Church in communion with Rome, which yet retains its respective language, rites and canon law) they possess their own liturgy, which is in essence an Antiochene rite in the Syriac language. The Maronite Patriarchal Vicariate in Jerusalem dates from 1895.[1]



The Maronite community in upper Galilee spans from the 18th century, being concentrated in the villages of Iqrit, Kafr Bir'im and Jish. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the Maronite villages of Iqrit and Kafr Bir'im were ordered to temporarily evacuate by the IDF, due to their proximity to the border with Lebanon. However, the residents have never been allowed to return, finally taking residence in the nearby town of Jish,[citation needed] which in turn had emptied from much of its Arab Muslim population earlier. The Maronites have formed the majority of Jish's population to this day.[2][3][4]

The Maronite population of Israel has significantly increased, following the May 2000 withdrawal of IDF from southern Lebanon. Several thousands of former SLA militia members and their families, mostly Lebanese Maronites, fled South Lebanon to Galilee during April-May 2000. While many of them continued further into France and the Americas, many still remained, joining the existing Maronite communities of Galilee and establishing new ones, most notably in the city of Nahariyya.


Traditionally, Aramaic had been the spoken language of the Maronites up to the 17th century, then Arabic took its place, while Aramaic remained in use only for liturgical purposes. Recently, the Jish community has made efforts to revive the ancient Aramaic Syriac language of the Maronites to the level of a spoken language.[5] Although the vast majority of Maronites in the Middle East are currently Arabic-speakers, the Jish Maronite community of Galilee is unique, as they have retained a "Hebrew-like" tongue, traced to Aramaic.[6]


In a study on Maronites' identity in Israel, performed in Haifa University, it was found that the large majority of this community reject Arab identity in favor of distinct Maronite one.[4] Israeli Druze, who form a sizeable portion of the Galilee population, show a similar trend, favoring a distinct Druze ethnoreligious identity, over pan-Arab one.

The Maronite residents of Jish relate to themselves as Syriac Aramean Christian Maronite peoples.[5]

See also

  • 1982-2000 South Lebanon conflict


External links

  • Aramaic Center of Jish [1]

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