Almost exactly a quarter of a century ago, I wrote a story for the front page of what was then The Independent’s Weekend Review. It was headlined: “Exodus: a story of Christians”. It told the tragedy of those people of the faith who were fleeing the lands of the forefathers.
I interviewed the only hermit left in Lebanon, in a cave in the north of the country, and he said to me: “I am the only hermit left in all the Middle East.” His eyes creased in happiness when I acknowledged his unique theological condition. “I will never leave Lebanon,” he said. “No Christian should leave the Holy Land. Those who have left will come back.”
He exuded faith: childlike, passionate, precise, untrammelled by contradiction or facts. And he was wrong.