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The Disquieting Treatment of Christians by the Palestinians ^ | 15FEB12 | Michael Curtis

Posted on 02/16/2012 7:19:20 AM PST by bayouranger

Centuries of persecution before Israeli "occupation."

In the voluminous commentaries on the Middle East today very little attention has been given to the sad fate of Christians in the Arab and Muslim countries. Even less attention has been paid to the contrast between the treatment of Christians in Israel and their treatment in Arab countries. In Israel Christians have religious freedom and their numbers have increased. In Arab countries the religious freedom of Christians is restricted and their number has been reduced because of harassment, fear, and persecution. It is well to remember the words of Martin Luther King: "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

Christians have been a presence in the Middle East for two millennia. Hundreds of churches and monasteries were built after Constantine legalized Christianity in 313. Yet after the Islamic conquest in 638 Christians have been subjected to Arab and Muslim rule for centuries. Their status in the Ottoman Empire was that of dhimmis, non-Muslims who were protected but who were second-class citizens. In this millet system based on religious affiliation, Christians were tolerated but they were also in a state of perpetual humiliation, even of subjugation.

Population statistics today are questionable and census is difficult in the various countries of the Middle East, and demographic trends and accuracy of religious affiliation are political issues and must be treated with caution. However, it is evident that under Muslim rule Christians became a minority in the area of Palestine. In recent years the Christian population has declined not only numerically, but also as a proportion of the overall population. This decline has been due to a number of factors: Christian emigration, a higher Muslim birthrate, poor economic conditions, the rise of Islamist groups especially Hamas and Islamic Jihad, growing insecurity, the use made of Christian towns such as Beit Jala as a base by Palestinian fighters for sniping against Israeli areas in Jerusalem, and Christian concern about their fate in the political future.

Critics of Israel have argued that the departure of Christians from the area of Palestine is due to the "Israeli occupation." No doubt measures taken by Israel for security reasons have caused some economic difficulties and led to some departure. But the general accusation ignores the reality that two-thirds of Christian Arabs left the areas between 1949 and 1967, the period when Jordan occupied and annexed the West Bank, and Egypt controlled Gaza, years before Israel controlled those areas.

The discriminatory treatment of Christians by the Muslim majority and the consequences of continuing Arab hostility towards the state of Israel have led to increasing migration from the West Bank and Gaza, the areas controlled by Muslims. Christians in those two areas now account for only about 40,000, 1.5 per cent of the total. The towns of Ramallah and Bethlehem, which depended on the Christian tourist and pilgrim trade, both lost their Christian majorities. In 1995, the number of Christians in Bethlehem was two-thirds of the population; today it is now less than 20 percent. According to the1947 census held by the British there were 28,000 Christians in Jerusalem; in 1967 after 19 years of Jordanian rule there were 11,000. By contrast, the number of Christians in Israel has increased from 34,000 in 1949 and 120,000 in 1995 to over 150,000, now numbering about nine percent of the Israeli Arab population, and two percent of the total population in all of Israel.

The Christian community in the West Bank and Gaza has a median age of 32 compared to, the Muslim median age of 16. By comparison with the Muslims, its members are older when they marry, have a lower fertility rate, are better educated, are twice as likely to have a university degree, have a higher income, and are more likely to be in white collar and business professions.

Discrimination against, hostility towards and intimidation of Christians by Palestinians has taken a number of forms. From 1949 to 1967 Jordan occupied the West Bank; its laws forbade Christians from buying land and houses in the Old City of Jerusalem; all schools were closed on Muslim holidays; mosques were deliberately built near churches. The Palestinian Authority formulated a Constitution in 2003 that declared that Islam was "the official religion. " The Constitution also declares that in a Palestinian state the principles of Islamic Sharia law are to be the main source of legislation. The statement that "respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained" is contradicted in practice by the attacks and condemnation of Christians in mosques, sermons, and publications of Islamic groups. Furthermore, the Palestinian legal and judicial system does not provide protection for Christian land owners, and enforces discrimination in educational, cultural, and taxation policies.

More drastically, Christians have suffered direct harassment. They have been intimidated and maltreated; money has been extorted, land and property confiscated, and Christian women have been abused, raped, abducted and been subjected to forced marriages. Attempts have been made to impose the Islamic women's dress code on them.

The Palestinian Authority has denied Christian, as well as Jewish, ties to Jerusalem. Christian holy sites have been disparaged or insulted. The Palestine Liberation Organization in July 1997 evicted monks and nuns from the Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron. Palestinian gunmen positioned themselves in or near Christian homes, hotels, and churches during fighting against Israel. The most notorious example of Palestinian insult was the takeover on April 2, 2002 of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by over 150 gunmen who used the Church to fire against Israeli soldiers who out of respect for the Church did not return fire. Priests, monks, and nuns were essentially hostages of the Palestinians, who apparently stole gold and other property including prayer books.

Theft of Christian land and property as well as desecration of Christian institutions and disparagement of the religion has occurred. There are allegations of Christians being forced off their land by gangs upheld by a corrupt judiciary. Businesses have had to pay protection money to maintain their existence. Individuals who have converted to Christianity have been threatened. After a Christian man dated a Muslim woman from a neighboring village in September 2005, armed Muslims crying "Allahu Akbar" attacked the Christian city of Taibe, setting fire to homes and businesses and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. The woman had already been poisoned by her own family in an "honor killing."

Christian graves in the Gaza Strip have been dug up. Anti-Christian graffiti has appeared, and Christian cemeteries and statues have been defaced. A Muslim mob in February 2002 attacked churches and Christian shops in Ramallah. The First Baptist Church of Bethlehem was firebombed on at least fourteen occasions, and the pastor, Naem Khoury, was shot. In Gaza in June 2007 a leader of the Baptist Church, one of the oldest in the area and which contains Gaza's only Christian library, was kidnapped and murdered. The Sagrada Familia school in Gaza was torched, and the nuns' building in the Convent of the Sisters of the Rosary in June 2007 was looted, and holy images and sacred books were burned.

In a speech in Paris, reported in L'Osservatore Romano on September 17, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI, concerned about developments in Muslim Middle East countries, suggested considering the concept of "positive laicity," a term he borrowed from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The term refers to societies in which various religions should be allowed to exist, all of them separate from the state, and all treated in a positive fashion. The Pope was conscious of the danger facing Christianity if Islamic fundamentalism is successful and theocratic Arab regimes are created. Unlike the Palestinian Muslim treatment of its Christian minority, Israeli policy is built on a separation of religion and state in a society that is pluralistic and upholds freedom of religions and human rights.

In view of the comparative records of Palestinian Muslim and Israeli actions towards their Christian minorities, Israel comes closer to the positive laicity suggested by the Pope and President Sarkozy than Muslim Palestinians.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Israel; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: filthykoranimals; intolerance; islam; jihad

1 posted on 02/16/2012 7:19:35 AM PST by bayouranger
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To: bayouranger

This is perhaps the most important UNreported story of our time.

2 posted on 02/16/2012 7:26:52 AM PST by NativeNewYorker (Freepin' Jew Boy)
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To: bayouranger

Winner of the understatement of the year award.

3 posted on 02/16/2012 7:33:00 AM PST by Dr. Ursus
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To: Dr. Ursus
After all the verbage the author comes up with a Captain Obvious observation at the end. -Tom

In view of the comparative records of Palestinian Muslim and Israeli actions towards their Christian minorities, Israel comes closer to the positive laicity suggested by the Pope and President Sarkozy than Muslim Palestinians.

4 posted on 02/16/2012 7:39:36 AM PST by Capt. Tom
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To: bayouranger
>"a society that is pluralistic and upholds freedom of religions and human rights. "

Not possible with islame.

There is no equality, pluralism, nor freedom in subjugation!

5 posted on 02/16/2012 7:45:09 AM PST by rawcatslyentist (BO Stinks!)
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To: NativeNewYorker

This is coming soon to a neighborhood near all of us, if we don’t stop the Muslim-in-Chief.

I described more connections between what’s going on in the Middle East and what is going on in US domestic policy (specifically Obamacare) at .

What we’ve got is basically a coming Holocaust of anybody who is not Muslim. There was a thread posted about Hezbollah setting up right by the southern US border. Between Ahmadinejad trying to stir up trouble all over the globe and saying the 12th Imam will appear in 2012, the communist and anti-semitic rabble organizing in the OWS movement, the trouble in Greece because lazy communists will riot rather than accept realistic levels of government “services” (which is primed to arrive in the US as well because Obama continues to grow debt, the US is due to have its credit rating downgraded again which will add more debt and insecurity, and the rabble-rousing of illegals and the welfare state in the US are being “community organized” by George Soros funding, organization, and front groups associated with OWS), etc.... we’ve got a scenario where the society is being prepared for a chaotic situation where communists and Islamists join to take over the entire US. That has always been the plan of the communists, and now we’ve seen exactly how the Islamists have done it in “Arab Spring”. And the only instance where the Obama Administration did NOT support the rebellion was when it was an anti-American, sharia regime that the people wanted to topple, in Iran.

We are in dangerous, dangerous territory because we’ve got in the White House a radical Islamist puppet of George Soros the communist-Islamist who says he owns the democratic party and is actually G-d. It would be dangerous even if Obama adhered to the Constitutional limitations on his office, but he has been trampling them right and left, with NOBODY willing or able to force him to stop. This is a full coup, right in front of everybody. To keep the power Obama will make sure there is a Reichstag Fire before the general election can happen and boot him out of power. Iran is right on course to provide that crisis that pushes Obama to full power, and the communists and Islamists in the US are ready for the action that will be required of them.

Probably the biggest question at this point is whether the people who are armed in America will resist, or whether we will just hand over the country to the same movement that was reported about in this excellent article.

6 posted on 02/16/2012 7:56:23 AM PST by butterdezillion
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To: Capt. Tom

There is a reason why the observation is neither obvious nor an enthusiastic endorsement of Israeli treatment of Christians:

There is a substantial overlap between the way Christians are treated under Palestinian rule and in Israel, though as the dry concluding remark notes, the Israelis come closer to getting it right. While Hamas-dominated regions of the Palestinian territories have overt persecution of Christians, mostly in attempts to drive them out, rather than actually kill them, and the PA has been drifting that way as the Muslim Brotherhood has increased its sway in the Sunni Arab world, to the extent that the PA still holds to the PLO’s old pan-Arabist founding principles, it is moderately supportive of Arab Christians as fellow Arabs (don’t forget the PFLP used to be headed by George Habash — Muslims do not name their sons George). The Israelis are at best grudgingly tolerant of Christians, and at worst engage in mild persecution: soldiers roughing up Christians on their way home from Pascha services at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and stamping on candles lit from the Holy Fire, Hasidim spitting at Christians in the street, and the like.

Quite frankly as an Orthodox Christian, I would like to see Russia return to the role it played back during the days of the Tsars and the Ottoman Sultans of protector of Christians in the Levant, esp. seeing that American policy in the region, whether wittingly or unwittingly always seems to be objectively bad for Christians.

7 posted on 02/16/2012 7:57:02 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

Thanks bayouranger.

8 posted on 02/16/2012 6:00:10 PM PST by SunkenCiv (FReep this FReepathon!)
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
Middle East and terrorism, occasional political and Jewish issues Ping List. High Volume

If you’d like to be on or off, please FR mail me.


9 posted on 02/16/2012 6:02:08 PM PST by SJackson (The Pilgrims Doing the jobs Native Americans wouldn't do !)
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To: bayouranger
and their number has been reduced because of harassment, fear, and persecution

Well, and murder.

10 posted on 02/16/2012 6:42:18 PM PST by Ready4Freddy (In the final analysis the trouble with Muslim democracy is the Muslims.)
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To: butterdezillion

Hasn’t anybody ever heard of the word stealth? I wonder.

11 posted on 02/16/2012 7:43:08 PM PST by Bellflower (The LORD is Holy, separated from all sin, perfect, righteous, high and lifted up.)
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To: bayouranger

Remember to pray for our suffering sisters and brothers.

12 posted on 02/16/2012 8:12:55 PM PST by Bellflower (The LORD is Holy, separated from all sin, perfect, righteous, high and lifted up.)
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To: bayouranger
It's as if Christians are not even counted as news while this religious rampage by the pagan desert freaks seek the blood of any not like them.

Love them into the kingdom or blow them to he**. I just know if there were no guns pointed at the Gazan's and money really went to GOOD things and real news and not such evil leaders and propaganda Christianity would not be so oppressed and there would be peace in our time.

But that's just wishful thinking. Prayers up for ALL Christians who are living in fear of their lives for their belief in the One true living G !D.

13 posted on 02/16/2012 8:52:00 PM PST by Karliner ( Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, Romans 8:38"...this is the end of the beginning."WC)
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