The ever-dwindling Christian communities living in Palestinian-run territories in the West Bank and Gaza are likely to dissipate completely within the next 15 years as a result of increasing Muslim persecution and maltreatment, an Israeli scholar said Monday.
The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs,” said Justus Reid Weiner, an international human rights lawyer in an address at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he serves as a scholar in residence. [my emphasis — D]
“Christian leaders are being forced to abandon their followers to the forces of radical Islam,” Weiner said.
Palestinian Christians have decreased from fifteen percent fifty years ago, to about 1.5 per cent today. If they were spotted owls, there would be a huge outcry about their decimation. But Christians? Eh….
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Meanwhile, they’re leaving Bethlehem, too — especially since it came under full Palestinian control …thank you, Oslo Accords. Of the 30,000 people in the town less than twenty per cent are Christian. They used to be in the majority, but that’s what happens in Palestine when the Jews cede control to the terrorists.
There are a few other Christians — 3,000 mostly Greek Orthodox — left in the Gaza Strip.
And who is to blame for this exodus? Why Israel, of course.
The town of 30,000 is now less than 20% Christian, after decades when Christians were the majority. Elsewhere in the Palestinian territories, only about 3,000 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox, live in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, out of a strongly conservative Muslim population of 1.4 million.
… Weiner pointedly downplayed the effects that Israeli security measures, such as the security barrier being built between Israel and the West Bank, have had on the Christian Arabs living in the West Bank.
The barrier, which is especially conspicuous at the entrance to Bethlehem where it is a concrete wall, is an issue which many Palestinian Christian clerics have pointed to, along with the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as a central cause of Christian emigration.
Weiner argued there was a “180 degree difference” between the public statements coming out of the mainstream Christian leadership in the Holy Land — who “sing the PA’s tune” and blame Israel for all the Christian Arabs’ ills — and people’s experience on the ground.
“The truth is beginning to come out,” he said. “The question is what is being done with the truth.”
His comments come just months after a prominent Christian activist, Rami Khader Ayyad, 32, was killed in Gaza.
“For too long the plight of Christian Arabs has been put on the back-burner or ignored altogether,” said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, executive director of the International Christian Embassy, a Jerusalem-based evangelical organization.
The Evangelical leader, who has drawn the wrath of Catholic leaders in the Holy Land for his strong support for Israel, said that “power politics” has prevented the major Christian leaders in the Holy Land from speaking out on this issue.
“There is a one-sided debate in which Israel is responsible for everything,” he said. “The Christian world needs to stand up and speak out about this.”
The “Christian world” is sadly remiss in its treatment of its fellow Christians in Palestine. It’s just one more chance to bash the Jews, and mainstream Christianity never misses the opportunity.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Christians — the ones still alive — are voting with their feet. Soon they will all be gone and the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” will become, like the Christians who used to live there, just another anachronism.
This silence is a crime and a disgrace for the Christian church world-wide.
Hat tip: Daniel