Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christians flee Bethlehem

It may soon be time to amend the lyric to the comparative: ‘O littler town of Bethlehem’, for the Christian population is diminishing with each year that passes. Ever since Chairman Arafat attempted to cancel all Christmas celebrations in the West Bank, there has been a consistent policy of persecuting Christian Arabs, particularly in the cities of Nazareth, Bethlehem and Beit Jala. Many private homes of Christian Arabs have been taken over by terrorists belonging to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah to attack Israel's civilian population. The continuing insecurity surrounding the celebration of Christmas in the birthplace of the Saviour has a direct impact on the economy of the West Bank, where Christian shop keepers are being driven to bankruptcy. The situation receives next to no coverage in the MSM, even though it has considerably worsened since Cranmer reported on it last year.

A report has been received of the on-going situation in Bethlehem, where the Christian population continues to endure appalling persecution:

Over the past century, a combination of Arab secular nationalism (Nazi and Communist leaning), re-invigorated Muslim rule and, more recently, violent Islamism has seen the Christian population of the Middle East decline. Latterly, the last refuge of Christians in the Middle East has been the Jewish State.

Now, with the misguided efforts to seek peace and Palestinian statehood on the back of Islamic violence, even that last redoubt of Christianity is under threat. The statistics from Bethlehem are indeed shocking, but they are the conclusion of a trend across the whole of the Middle East which began in the aftermath of the First World War.

It is only by viewing the plight of the Arab Christians of Bethlehem in isolation that the Western Church is able to point the finger at recent innovations in Israeli security as the cause of Christian grievance and flight.

The disappearance of Christians from ancient centres of Christianity in Syria and Lebanon and from the scattered Christian communities of Iraq, Kurdistan and Jordan, together with the plight of the Coptic Church in Egypt - these provide the proper and decades-long context for what is now happening in Bethlehem.

Arab nations cynically exploited the successful establishment of Israel and expelled their centuries-old Jewish communities, so that the Arab Middle East became Judenrein. The ancient Christian communities of the Arab world were subjected to a less dramatic attrition which is culminating in the flight from Bethlehem.

While the Christian churches in the West wring their collective hands over Israeli checkpoints, it is well to remember the high point of the Palestinian assault on the Christians of Bethlehem: on April 2nd 2002, between 150-180 Palestinian gunmen, among them members of the PA Fatah Tanzim militia, invaded the Church of the Holy Nativity and held the priests and nuns to ransom. The New York Times reported: "Palestinian gunmen have frequently used the area around the church as a refuge, with the expectation that Israel would try to avoid fighting near the shrine." The IDF employed exemplary and patient tactics to lift the siege, to the relief and gratitude of the clergy of the several Christian denominations domiciled there.

During this 39 day stand-off, the footsoldiers of Islam invaded and desecrated and despoiled a Christian Holy Site, using it as a fortress, not a place of sanctuary.

That siege stands as abiding testimony to militant and official Palestinian regard for Christians in the Holy Land.


Anonymous nedsherry said...

Latterly, the last refuge of Christians in the Middle East has been the Jewish State.

I agree that Christians are off better off there than in Muslim countries, but I'd be interested to see how Jews would behave if they didn't have their international image to worry about. There are indications that their behaviour might not be good:

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them
By Amiram Barkat

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face. The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

Jews will exploit Christians for Jewish ends, but their reactions to The Passion of The Christ (not to mention Dr Lancaster's attitudes) are proof that their Christophobia remains as virulent as ever.

9 December 2007 at 15:45  
Anonymous Fran Waddams said...

Your Grace

We at Anglican Friends of Israel have also noted with sadness, the flight of Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem and the deplorable cowardice of UK Christian leaders - notably Rowan Williams - who persist in attributing this flight solely to Israeli security measures preferring to ignore persecution by jihadists.

The 'Christian handwringing' to which Your Grace refers is nowhere better seen than in Christian theatre company Riding Lights' production, Salaam Bethlehem, currently touring churches, schools and community centres nationwide.

Riding Lights say that the play is intended to 'open a wider discussion' of the Middle East conflict. In fact, it should be called 'The Palestinian Case Against Israel.' Palestinians are ‘paying the price for the European holocaust’; the creation of Israel was the ‘Naqba’ or catastrophe; there is no ‘Chosen Land’ as we ‘all live under the New Covenant now’; Jews are ‘ethnically cleansing’ Palestinians’ .

The programme notes adopt a revisionist approach to modern Middle East history. There's no mention of the 1920 League of Nations mandate to create a Jewish homeland alongside its Arab neighbours. The account of the 1948 War of Independence implies that Israel started it, when the fact is that she was attacked by five neighbouring Arab States. The Yom Kippur war, begun by Israel’s neighbours was omitted completely.

Surprised? I was until I noticed that the bookstall sold only works by Sabeel's Naim Ateek, a known opponent of the Jewish State, some might even feel he crosses the line into anti-semitism at times.

Rowan Williams is Patron of Riding Lights. I've contacted his interfaith adviser, Guy Wilkinson to find out how this attempt to demonise Israel has gone down at Lambeth Palace but strangely have had no reply as yet.

It's so sad to read about such rudeness towards the Greek Orthodox clergyman. There are places in Israel where Christians are unwelcome; but they are astonishingly few and far between, given the excellent reasons Jews have to fear and despise Christians.

Instead, Christian churches, both gentile and Messianic, are flourishing in Israel with over 130,000 Christians in the country.

9 December 2007 at 17:28  
Anonymous irenelancaster said...

I'm sorry that my incredibly pro-Christian attitudes are giving dear NedSherry cause for concern.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on a fine blog and to endorse the views of Fran Waddams of Anglicans Friends of Israel.

I recently met the Bishop of Chelmsford in Jerusalem. He was there with his wife and three colleagues on behlaf of Christian Aid.

The good Bishop used to think that the State of Israel shouldn't exist and was strongly in favour of divestment from Israel, till taken to task on Radio 4 by the CEO of Anglicans for Israel, Simon McIlwaine a year or so ago.

This was one of the best pieces of radio one could have possibly wished to listen to and showed the good Bishop up for what he was, a supporter of Sabeel, which is a virulently antisemitic and revisionist organisation, which wishes to destroy Israel and suck up to the Islamists - the idiots!

The good Bishop has stated that he would like to arrange a meeting between myself and the leaders of Sabeel. I have agreed, but funnily enough, have not heard from him in nearly a month.

However, at this time of good cheer for both Christians and Jews, I would like to share with Your Grace and other bloggers the wonderful piece of news that I have written about in my blog here:

And the winner of the prize mentioned has been kind enough to inform me that he couldn't have won it without my own contribution on the blog.

Truly, as we say at Chanukah, 'a great miracle has happened here' and may it augur well for the people of Bethlehem and the entire region

9 December 2007 at 19:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

christians being spat on by jews?
thats funny!!!

10 December 2007 at 14:47  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

Dr Lancaster writes:

I'm sorry that my incredibly pro-Christian attitudes are giving dear NedSherry cause for concern.

And I'm sorry to have to repeat this:

Can you either provide evidence supporting your allegation of "2000 years of attempted extermination of the Jews" by Christianity or retract the allegation and admit that it does not express "incredibly pro-Christian attitudes"?

10 December 2007 at 15:38  
Blogger USpace said...

Great post! Anti-semitism is an ancient disease of the mind. What a brainwashed group many Arab Christians are for defending radical Islamists who are terrorizing them, they really are in deep denial. We must keep waking up all the Jews and Christians, on the Left and the Right.

It's a real scary situation with the Christian Arabs being driven out of Palestine and the Middle East and Western churches not defending them either.

The level of dhimmidiotness is astounding. This is shameful, all Christians should be ashamed for the behavior of their dhimmidiot Church leaders.

People should go up in their church when they are invited up to offer a prayer and say:

"I'd like to offer a prayer this Christmas for all the oppressed and harassed Arab Christians being driven out of Palestine and the Middle East."

And the church won't be able to stop it, it will be too quick.

This will open some eyes and get some parishioners wanting to learn more about this.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
harass all Christians

drive them from your lands
or watch people leave Islam

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
blame your failings on the Jews

for a few more thousand years
they are Earth's scapegoats

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
give Israel away

to appease her enemies
dishonor America

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
go ahead and blame the Jews

IslamoFascists and YOU
believe the same crazy shit

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
blame a small population

deflect your people's anger
let them feel superior
. .

15 December 2007 at 04:11  

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