Posted tagged ‘Bethlehem’

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again

December 25, 2017

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again | Anne’s Opinions, 24th December 2017

The Palestinian Authority has a nasty habit of taking out its rage against Israel on its Christian citizens. They have done it before and this year the Palestinian grinch is stealing Christmas once again, as Lahav Harkov explains:

It came as no surprise that the Palestinian leadership responded angrily to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the obvious reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

But beyond the usual “day of rage,” rockets shot at Israeli preschools and firebombs thrown at passing Israeli civilians’ cars, the Palestinian Authority decided to make like the Grinch and steal Christmas, only proving that Trump was right not to fold to the whims of the side that has a pattern of violating religious freedoms, when it comes to a city holy to three religions.

Bethlehem, thought to be Jesus’ birthplace, and Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, turned off their Christmas lights within an hour of Trump’s announcement.

Business is slow in Bethlehem

In Nazareth, the town where Jesus is thought to have grown up, now the largest Arab city in Israel, the Muslim mayor scaled back Christmas celebrations in identification with the Palestinians.

And ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Jerusalem this week, now postponed, Adeeb Joudeh, the Muslim man whose family has held the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for generations, announced that he wouldn’t let Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, enter.

This tactic of protesting by denying Christians their Christmas celebrations reaffirms that Trump did the right thing in declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and for his administration to say last Friday that it envisions the Western Wall within Israeli Jerusalem in a final-status deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claims that he is a defender of Christian Arabs in areas under his control. He repeatedly said that Jerusalem is a Muslim and Christian – but not Jewish – holy city in his speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week.

But the Palestinians’ track record, even before putting a damper on Christmas this year, should leave Christians skeptical.

In 1950, the Christian population of the Bethlehem area was 86%, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Today, it’s only 12%, and Christians are only 2% of the Palestinian population, even though they were more than twice that a generation ago. The situation in Gaza, controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, is even worse. When Hamas took control in 2006, there were 6,000 Christians, and as of a year ago, there were 1,100. In Israel, the Christian population has stayed mostly stable at around 2%, growing by about 5,000 in the past 20 years.

Christians have been fleeing Palestinian-controlled territories, and it’s easy to understand why, in light of their systemic abuse. In 2002, terrorists affiliated with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat raided and trashed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, holding monks hostage in the church, leading to a standoff with the Israeli Army. One of the Palestinian leaders of the raid later said they chose the church as a combat base intentionally in order to put make Israel look bad.

In Gaza, Palestinian Christians have been murdered for their faith, including Rami Ayad, a leader of the Gaza Baptist Church and the manager of the area’s only Christian bookstore. The church has been commandeered by Hamas for combat, because it’s one of the tallest buildings in Gaza City.

After all that, the Palestinian leadership still claims that they are the best choice to control Christian holy sites.

Since Israel liberated the Old City in 1967, people of all religions are free to visit and worship in Jerusalem’s holy sites. This follows the verse in Isaiah used in Jewish prayers that says God’s “House,” meaning the Temple, “will be called a House of prayer for all nations.”

In fact the only religious discrimination in Jerusalem is that faced by the Jews!

The exception is the Temple Mount, which, while under Israeli sovereignty, is administered by an Islamic Trust, as a condition of Israel and Jordan’s peace treaty. Non-Muslims are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, even though the site is holy for all three major monotheistic religions. The rule is strictly enforced, and people have been thrown out for violating it.

The solution is obvious – obvious to anyone except the UN and its warped institutions:

No matter what the city will eventually look like, all of the above is overwhelming evidence that Israel is the right choice to control the heart of Jerusalem – the Old City – because only Israel is willing to protect the religious freedom of Jews, Christians and Muslims who call it holy.

RJ Streets, blogging at Israellycool, provides a poignant look at Bethlehem under the diktats of Mahmoud Abbas and his decision to cancel Christmas in protest at Trump, comparing it to last year’s celebrations:

Business was reported slow last year. It must be even slower so far this year, with calls for protests before Christmas in Bethlehem, using Jerusalem as the latest excuse.

And listen to the voice of Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Christian, who tells us the truth about the treatment of Christians in Israel and under the Palestinian Authority:

Last minute update: The Nazareth festivities have been reinstated due to public pressure:

Let’s just keep in mind the sequence of events:

The Muslim Palestinians are angry at the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, i.e. the Jewish capital. So in revenge, they cancel Christmas.

They don’t cancel Ramadan or Eid. They don’t cancel Chanukah. They cancel Christmas. Because Jews. Or because America. Or because they are bigoted supremacist supercessionists. Take your pick. Any one of the above, or all, are correct.

 

Christians wither under Muslim rule

April 17, 2016

Christians wither under Muslim rule,  Israel Hayom, Yoram Ettinger, April 17, 2016

Bethlehem’s Christian Arab leaders lobbied Israel against transferring the city to the Palestinian Authority. Thus, in 1993, on the eve of signing the Oslo Accords, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Freij, urged then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to annex Bethlehem to Greater Jerusalem, as it was under Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule of the area, predicting that “transferring Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority would relegate it to a town of many churches, but devoid of Christians.”

Before Oslo, the Christian mayor of Beit Jala — Bethlehem’s twin town — Farah al-Araj, told the late New York Times syndicated columnist William Safire: “The PLO will force a wave of Christian emigration, making Belize in Central America a home for more Beit Jala Christians then left in Beit Jala.” In 1967, shortly following the Six-Day War, then Mayor of Bethlehem Elias Bandak, a Christian, warned then Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan: “An Israeli failure to annex Bethlehem to Greater Jerusalem would doom the city’s Christian character.”

Since the 1993 establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the Christian majorities of Ramallah — Mahmoud Abbas’ headquarters — Bethlehem and Beit Jala have been transformed into insignificant minorities, due to physical, social, economic, legal and political intimidation. More Christian emigrants from these towns reside in Latin America than Christians remaining there.

The violent discrimination of Christians has been a systematic feature of Muslim Arab societies. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, Christians were murdered, expelled or converted until the 10th century. Currently, non-Muslims cannot become Saudi citizens and Christians working in — or visiting — Saudi Arabia are not allowed to worship, or display Christian items (Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, etc.), openly. While Egyptian President, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has attempted to minimize the traditional intimidation of Egypt’s Coptic Christian (10%) minority — which possesses ancient Pharaonic roots — the abduction of Coptic women and girls has been routine and Copts face deep-seated discrimination in all walks of life. Moreover, conversion to Christianity is prohibited under Islam. While physical assaults on Coptic communities were a daily occurrence during the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, it has become a monthly event under el-Sissi.

The persecution of Christians in Arab lands is based on the teachings of Muhammad, which dominates the social, political, cultural, judicial, military and educational aspects of the Muslim Middle East. Therefore, the political establishments in Muslim Arab countries are not secular in the Western sense. According to the Quran, Jews and Christians — “the people of the book” who rejected Islam — transgressed egregiously, were the enemies of God, were rejected by God, causing Judaism and Christianity to be replaced by — and subordinated to — Islam, the only legitimate and inherently supreme religion. Islam commands Muslims to pursue the domination of the “House of Islam” over the “House of the infidel,” which includes Christians. Hence, the centrality of jihad, the holy war.

A typical Quranic reference to Christians and other “infidels” appears in Surah 5:60 and 86: “God cursed and blustered those whom he transformed to apes [Jews] and pigs [Christians]. … The infidels shall inherit hell.”

The submission of Christians and other “infidels” to Islam was further institutionalized under the seventh-century Pact of Umar, which severely restrained and humiliated Christians — and later extended to other “infidels” — consistent with the Quran.

In fact, the legalized persecution and scapegoating of Christians are in accordance with the Muslim concept of “dhimmis,” who are the non-Muslim citizens in Muslim lands. As stipulated by the Islamic code of law (the Shariah), they are subordinated to and protected by Islam as long as they accept Islamic supremacy. The attitude towards the dhimmis is specified in the Quran 9:29: “Fight the people who received the book [Jews and Christians] — who do not adhere to the truthful religion [Islam] — until they pay the jizya [infidel tax], while they are humiliated.” Non-Muslim citizens are faced with three choices: conversion to Islam, accepting dhimmitude or death.

Since the 1683 defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the gates of Vienna, Islam has declined dramatically, witnessing the rise to global domination by the “infidel, inferior and arrogant” Christian world, and alarmed by the penetration of “infidel” ideologies and values into the “abode of Islam.” This perceived humiliation has led to tectonic eruptions of Islamic rage and terrorism, aimed at regaining the, supposedly, inherently supreme, megalomaniacal status of Islam.

Also, the Islamic religious and political establishments consider the “infidel” Christian/Western modernity and civil liberties clear, present and lethal threats, which fuel endemic domestic instability. Furthermore, the recent erosion of the Western posture of deterrence, as well as Western appeasement and retreats, have provided a tailwind to the Islamic surge, fueling the anti-Christian/Western Islamic rage in spite of the generally pro-Arab Christian/Western policy (including the U.S. arms embargo during Israel’s War of Independence, while the British supplied arms to the Arabs; punishing Israel for destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor; pressuring Israel to redivide Jerusalem; and President Barack Obama’s courting of Muslim regimes and condemnation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies).

While most of the Christian/Western world pressures Israel to accept Palestinian demands, a common battle cry in Palestinian Authority-inspired rallies is: “After Saturday comes Sunday,” which communicates a Muslim warning to Christian minorities throughout the Arab world: Muslims will do away with Christians after they have dealt with the Jews!

As befits the fate of dhimmis, churches, convents, monasteries, Christian cemeteries, schools, homes, land and Christian women in the Palestinian Authority are subject to desecration, destruction, burning, confiscation, intimidation, rape and harassment. For example, in April-May 2002, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity — with its priests and nuns — was hijacked, looted and booby-trapped for 39 days by Palestinian terrorists.

The 1970-1982 Palestinian terror surge in Lebanon accelerated the flight of Lebanese Christians, reducing them from the ruling sector to a dwindling minority. Since 1993, the Palestinian Authority intimidation of Christians has intensified the flight of Christians. However, the Vatican and most Christian and Western governments have — knowingly — sacrificed the religious and civil liberties of Christian minorities — and their very existence — on the altar of wishful thinking, political correctness and appeasement.