Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The dilemma of the Christian Arab remnants living under Palestinian rule - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Palestinian Christians denounce Israel in a vain effort to gain acceptance, even though it’s the best haven for their faith in the Middle East.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
15 October '18..

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem on Sunday and uttered something that was incontrovertibly true: “Israel is the only country that protects the human rights of all. We protect the religious rights of all. We don’t just protect Christian sites—we protect Christian people. Christians should enjoy all freedoms to worship as they please in the Middle East and anywhere else. And the only place in the Middle East where they can do so is Israel. We have no better friends in the world than our Christian friends.”

As further proof, he cited the fact what has happened in Bethlehem, which was a city that Christians once dominated. The turning point was Israel’s 1995 handover of the area to the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Oslo peace accords. Under Israeli rule, Bethlehem was 80 percent Christian. Only 23 years later, its population is now 80 percent Muslim.

But while participants at the event, which was organized by the Israeli government and is part of the Jewish state’s outreach efforts to Christian supporters, applauded his statement, it drew negative reviews from other Christians.

In particular, Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman denounced the prime minister’s comments. He said the problem was entirely Israel’s fault, citing “50 years of occupation” that had negatively affected Arab life in the territories. In addition to complaining about Jewish settlements in the area, among which he numbered Jerusalem neighborhoods like Gilo, Salman complained about Israel’s security fence, parts of which lies close to his town.

This isn’t the first time that Salman has blamed Bethlehem’s problems on Israel. In a 2017 column published in Haaretz, he lamented the fact that most U.S. Christians support Israeli policies that he said “strangled Jesus’ birthplace.”

But, of course, Salman has no answer as to why the Christian population in Bethlehem and the entire West Bank should collapse under P.A. rule at the same time that we’re told that the overall Arab population continues to grow at astonishingly high rates.

(Continue to Full Column)

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