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Amid Struggle, Palestinian Christians Look Ahead to Christmas
Catholic News Agency ^ | 12/18/12

Posted on 12/18/2012 7:12:53 PM PST by marshmallow

Jerusalem, Israel, Dec 18, 2012 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Armed conflicts and a decline in tourists and pilgrims from overseas will cause difficulties for Palestinian Christians, but they will still celebrate Christmas.

“There are good and bad feelings this Christmas but if we consider that Christmas is above all a spiritual feast, I believe it will be a very good celebration,” Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem told Aid to the Church in Need Dec. 17.

“There will certainly be fewer pilgrims and other visitors from overseas. Many have canceled their trips here but we will still have many people coming from Galilee and elsewhere as well as many Christians from Bethlehem.”

Christians have been cheered by the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas party, which put a halt to renewed violence after rocket attacks from Gaza militants prompted retaliation from the Israeli military.

Bishop Shomali said that local Christians also appreciate the United Nations’ recognition of Palestine as a non-member state.

“For Christians in and around Bethlehem, Christmas this year will be joyful because of the U.N. recognition of the Palestinian state,” he said. “This has given people a lot of morale and indeed is seen by many as a victory.”

However, continuing violence in neighboring Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict between rebel forces and the Syrian government, continues to cause concern.

“What is happening in Syria casts a dark shadow. It impacts on us very greatly. We are not happy with what is happening in Syria. We are anxious and sad about the situation there,” the bishop said.

Aid to the Church in Need is supporting several charitable projects including the Bethlehem Seminary and Solidarity Village, a low-cost housing project for young Christians in East Jerusalem. The charity....

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Catholic; Orthodox Christian; Religion & Culture

1 posted on 12/18/2012 7:12:57 PM PST by marshmallow
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To: marshmallow

God watch over our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine. Please keep them safe this holiday season. Amen.

2 posted on 12/18/2012 7:47:20 PM PST by Thorliveshere
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To: Thorliveshere
The Church must face the facts and fully admit that the greatest threat to Christians in the Middle East are MUSLIM Arabs who are systimatically driving them out of the region. The Israeli Jews are tolerant and can live side by side with our Christian brothers as they have in the past. It is the Ascent of Islam in the entire Middle East that creates a perilous situation for Christians. Any Christian Arab who blames the so-called “occupation” is merely giving lip service to the Islamicists, their immediate neighbors. We all know the truth about Islamic intolerance of other faiths.
3 posted on 12/18/2012 10:32:58 PM PST by Netz (Netz)
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To: Netz

it’s not that simple. What you say is true of Iraq and Lebanon and Egypt, but not completely true in the West Bank

4 posted on 12/19/2012 12:21:08 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Cronos
What has happened, in of all places, Bethlehem?

FATAH controls that town BUT we see an influx of HAMAS supporters and the trends are not looking good for Christians. There is immense pressure on them. There were more Christians living in Bethlehem 1967-1995 (under so called Israeli “occupation”), before Arafart took over and there was even a siege there where terrorists barricaded themselves INSIDE the Church of the Nativity! Outrageous. Now the numbers have dwindeled UNDER FATAH control. Look at the numbers. It seems that less Palestinians prefer living under Arab (Muslim) self-rule. Your turn...

5 posted on 12/19/2012 1:15:57 AM PST by Netz (Netz)
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To: Netz
from Middle east monitor
Christianity has a long standing history in Palestine, and Palestinian Christians belong to several traditional communities of faith. The first are the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox churches, the second is made up of the Syrian, Coptic and Armenian Orthodox churches, and a third category consists of those churches belonging to the Catholic family of churches. There are also a small but increasing number of evangelical churches, including the Lutheran and Episcopal churches.

Over the past century, the percentage of Christian Palestinians has been in decline. The influx of Jewish immigrants since the late 1880s, the Nakba of 1948 and the expulsions of 1967 played a big role in diminishing the presence of Palestinian Christians. During the Deir Yassin Massacre of 1948, over a quarter of a million Palestinians, many of them Christian, were displaced or disappeared. Many of the 531 villages that were levelled in 1948 had a mix of Christian and Muslim inhabitants. To this day, millions of Palestinians have been expelled from their lands, and rendered homeless and as refugees. Of the remaining Palestinian Christians, most of them have emigrated at an increasing rate from 1990 onwards, because of lack of freedom and security and due to the deteriorating economic situation.

The Deir Yassin massacre I didn't know about and remember was a one-off extreme case which was soundly condemned by Israel

The article above goes on to claim

Even though the relationship between Palestinian Christians and Muslims is not always a rosy one, the above claims are far from true. Palestinian Christians are an indigenous, integral part of the Arab Palestinian culture and civilization in the political, historical and religious spheres.

Many seats in the current Palestinian Legislative Council are held by Palestinian Christians. This amounts to more or less 8% of the seats, whereas Christians only make up 2% of the population of the West Bank and Gaza. Similarly, the Samaritans, who number three hundred and twenty persons, have one seat in the Council. Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are observed, and Christians continue to be an integral part of the Arab Palestinian culture and civilization. A relationship of peaceful coexistance is also found on the personal level. People from both religions visit each other during religious festivals, and in Jerusalem schools run by Christian churches have a majority Muslim student population.
I don't completely understand it, but the facts of the feelings of the local Christians on the ground are the facts
6 posted on 12/19/2012 2:18:50 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Netz

I repeat — I agree with you that to me it seems like Arab Christians have a better life in Israel than under the PLO (compare Nazareth and Bethlehelm), but the locals on the ground seem to say something different — and I don’t understand why, but they do

7 posted on 12/19/2012 2:22:22 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Netz
and from the american conservative - again, I have not verified the text or statements there at all

At the time of the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, it is estimated that the Christians of Palestine numbered some 350,000. Almost 20 percent of the total population at the time, they constituted a vibrant and ancient community; their forbears had listened to St. Peter in Jerusalem as he preached at the first Pentecost. Yet Zionist doctrine held that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land.” Of the 750,000 Palestinians that were forced from their homes in 1948, some 50,000 were Christians—7 percent of the total number of refugees and 35 percent of the total number of Christians living in Palestine at the time.

In the process of “Judaizing” Palestine, numerous convents, hospices, seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or cleared of their Christian owners and custodians. In one of the most spectacular attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds—launched by Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine Fathers on Mount Zion. The bombardment also damaged St. Jacob’s Convent, the Archangel’s Convent, and their appended churches, their two elementary and seminary schools, as well as their libraries, killing eight people and wounding 120.

8 posted on 12/19/2012 2:24:45 AM PST by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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