THE ‘CHRIST the Redeemer’ statue in Rio de Janeiro 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Bishara Shlayan, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, is hoping to build a huge
statue of Jesus on Mount Precipice, near his home city.
Shlayan told The
Jerusalem Post in an interview that he has already begun fund-raising for the
project and that he is getting positive feedback from the Israeli Arab Christian
community as well as some Jews.
He sees the statue as being similar to
but larger than the huge Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro,
Shlayan is also looking to found a Christian Arab political
party, which he says is still being sorted out, but has settled on the name
“Bnei Habrit [Allies of the Covenant], the Christian party of
The party would support Israel as a Jewish state and national or
army service for Arabs.
“I created the Bnei Habrit party and now I have
created the Diglei Habrit [Flags of the Covenant] organization,” in order to
carry out the statue project, he said.
Mount Precipice, also known as
Mount Kedumim, is believed by some to be the place where the people of Nazareth
attempted to push Jesus off the mountain after rejecting him as the messiah. In
the end he was able to jump off and disappeared, according to Christian
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When Shlayan was in Jerusalem a month ago, he said he met
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau by chance and asked him about the statue idea.
Shlayan says that Landau said, “Start it, and we will bless it.”
is seeking a government support for the project, and says that churches are
waiting for official confirmation before getting on board with the
The Jewish National Fund owns the land where he wants to build, he
Asked about opposition, Shlayan responded, “People who are against
it, it comes from jealousy.”
Asked if there is opposition based on
religious grounds, he said there are some Muslims and Jews that are not too
pleased with the idea.
On the streets of Nazareth, one can hear Muslim
opposition to the plan, he said, and some of the supporters of the new Muslim
mayor, Ali Salam, said they would prefer a statue of the mayor rather than of
In Judaism and Islam, statues are a form of idolatry.
don’t believe in statues, but it is a symbol of love and peace,” Shlayan
Shlayan is also seeking the support of international Christian
Regarding his political party, he said he is ready to
register the party, but is waiting for more donations, since once he registers
the amount donors can give is restricted.
The plan for the statue “could
help the party,” he said adding that it would bring more Christian
In addition, he said that Robert Goldberg, an ex-officio member
of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America (formerly
UJC) and the former chairman of the United Jewish Communities, visited him in
Nazareth and showed his support for his new party and said it could help bring
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