Sunday, December 24, 2006

Last Christmas in Bethlehem?

It may happen sooner than we think.

Here's a paradox in the War on Jihad; Muslims and their allies in the Main Stream Media demand tolerance of Muslims in western countries and denounce legitimate concerns about radical Islam as `Islamophobia'. Yet at the same time, Muslims practice the most extreme prejudice and bigotry towards Christians in the countries where Muslims are in the majority.

And the Main Stream Media largely ignores it.

Throughout the Muslim world, churches are regularly burned, Christians are kidnapped and murdered on a regular basis, and preaching Christianity or holding Christian religious services is not only dangerous but actually illegal in many Muslim countries.

Or Christians are simply driven out.

This could be one of the last Christmas seasons in the birthplace of Jesus. At least with Christians present.

Since the Palestinian Authority took over Bethlehem in 1995 under the Oslo Accords with Israel, Bethlehem has been transformed from a majority Christian city into a Muslim city. The few Christians left in the city now cling to their homes at the sufferance of the majority Muslim population.

The Palestinian Authority early on adopted Islam as its official religion, used sharia Islamic law codes and allowed officially appointed Palestinian Muslim imams and clerics to demonize both Christian and Jewish `infidels' in the mosques and the media. And Arafat and the Palestinian Authority took steps to eliminate any Christian majorities where they still existed.

In 1996, as an example, Arafat totally redistricted Bethlehem, redefining its municipal boundaries so that they included many nearby Moslem villages. Overnight the Christian population found itself reduced from an 80 percent majority to a minority, with little control over anything. Arafat placed Christian sites like the Church of the Nativity under the direct control of the Islamist Palestinian Authority rather than under the control of Palestinian Christians.

Bethlehem has gone from an 80% Christian population to a mere 8% since the Palestinian Authority took over jurisdiction.

In the British Daily Mail of December 16th presents a stark picture of what Bethlehem has become in its article, O, Muslim town of Bethlehem...

"...Joseph Canawati is not looking forward to Christmas.

The expansive lobby of his 77-room Hotel Alexander is empty and he says: "There is no hope for the future of the Christian community.

"We don't think things are going to get better. For us, it is finished."

Life for Palestinian Christians such as 50-year-old Joseph has become increasingly difficult in Bethlehem - and many of them are leaving.

The town's Christian population has dwindled from more than 85 per cent in 1948 to 12 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006.

There are reports of religious persecution, in the form of murders, beatings and land grabs. {..}

The sense of a creeping Islamic fundamentalism is all around in Bethlehem.

A mosque on one side of Manger Square stands directly opposite the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, while in the evening the muezzin's call to prayer clashes with the peal of church bells.

Shops selling Santa Claus outfits and mother-of-pearl statuettes of the Virgin Mary have their shutters painted a sun-bleached green, the colour of Islam. {...}

Samir Qumsieh is general manager of Al-Mahed - Nativity - which is the only Christian television station in Bethlehem.

He has had death threats and visits from armed men demanding three acres of his land - and he is now ready to leave.

"As Christians, we have no future here," he says.

"We are melting away. Next summer I will leave this country to go to the States. How can I continue?

"I would rather have a beautiful dream in my head about what my home is like, not the nightmare of the reality."

International Human Rights Attorney Justus Weiner has researched the plight of Palestinian Christians for more than eight years. His findings were recently published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Weiner said Palestinian Christians are now living in fear because persecution against them is increasing, especially since Hamas took over the government.

"I think the situation has been on a steep downhill for at least 12 years," said Weiner, "since Israel withdrew from the Palestinian populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza …they fear for their own lives, they fear for their own family, they fear for the future of their community."

The Palestinian `constitution' is committed to an Islamic republic and has sharia as the official basis of law, and Islam is stated as the official religion of Palestine. And with Hamas in charge, any remaining Christians can depend on inferior dhimmi status for the foreseeable future unless they leave..which is exactly what's happening.

More mobile and generally better educated than their Muslim neighbors, they have simply gone elsewhere. Some are now living in Israel, where they have full freedom of worship and a growing community. Others found new homes in places like Toronto, Santiago and Sydney...and the US.

Of course, one of the most infamous cases of anti-Christian violence was when Palestinian terrorists in 2002 holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and refused to release the religious staff inside. Members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade looted the facilities, desecrated the church and even reportedly used the Bible as toilet paper.

One document later captured by Israel in Ramallah indicated the terrorists also demanded and got monetary support from Bethlehem Christians by threatening to destroy the church.

That is also a good explanation of why some Palestinian clergy have desperately pushed the Palestinian lie that Israel's security fence is responsible for the Christian exodus from Bethelehem and elsewhere.

The truth? More than 60% of the native-born Palestinian Christians had already fled the Arab controlled part of the Holy Land land long before the fence started going up four years ago. And most of the Palestinian Christian emigration occurred prior to Israel's entry into Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in 1967, when the area was under Jordanian occupation. The last British census in Jerusalem, for example, found 28,000 Arab Christian residents in 1948, while Israel's first official tally after 1967 registered only 11,000. For those of you who are math challenged, those figures represented a 60% decrease in less than 20 years.

All over the Middle East,Christians are being driven out of `Muslim Lands', and places like the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was born, may soon be converted into mosques with no regard for the sensibilities or rights of non-Muslims, just as Jewish Holy places were desecrated in places like Gaza and the West Bank as soon as the Muslims got their hands on them.

Remember that the next time some spokesmouth from CAIR, the Muslim Public Affairs Council or the Muslim Council of Britain starts complaining about `islamophobia.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, ff.

Hypocrites indeed, they are, when they spout platitudes of tolerance and yet so ruthlessly and mercilessly expunge anyone who does not convert to their religion.

And as usual, Israel gets scapegoated again for all of the Palestinians' problems.

No amount of gerrymandering will resolve this situation, and the demographics aren't looking too promising. Hamas needs to be dealt with decisively. There is no compromise with sharia, or the nihilistic constitutions of Hamas or Fatah.

Perhaps terming it as "saving Christianity" might be exaggerating it, but what is important is that we do not continue to allow these Muslims to exploit our tolerance towards them.