Munther Isaac – Palestinian Christians React to Israeli Ambassador’s Claims about Holy Land Churches

Palestinians praying for justice (Source, Sojourners)

Two weeks ago, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, claimed in an article in The Wall Street Journal that the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza is the fault of Palestinian Muslims. The article was full of inaccuracies and even lies, and Palestinian Christians responded with anger and disgust. The Wall Street Journal then featured some of these responses.

This is a serious issue for Palestinian Christians. We are not saying that radical Islam is not a threat. We are not denying that there are some struggles that we face as a minority. We are not denying that there are some incidences in which Christians were attacked by radical Muslims, like in the death of Rami Ayyad in Gaza.

What we are saying, is that for us, the real issue and the core of our struggles is the Israeli occupation. The occupation is real. It has been our reality for the last 45 years. It is the main reason why Palestinian Christians are leaving. Every Palestinian Christian leader and every major Christian movement, Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants alike, have stressed this. The Kairos Palestine document, which clearly states that the occupation is the core issue for Palestinian Christians, was endorsed by all the heads of the churches. In addition, when one speaks about the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land, it must be stressed that almost 50,000-60,000 Christians were forced to leave historical Palestine as a result of the Nakba of 1948.

To insist that radical Islam is the primary struggle for Palestinian Christians undermines the sufferings of Palestinian Christians caused by the occupation, and labels these struggles as imagined and unreal. This is insulting. To blame the Muslims is an attempt to mask the injustices of the occupation. It is also an attempt to color the conflict with familiar Western “black and white” colors. This is the shameful goal behind Oren’s article: to stereotype Palestinians as radical Muslim persecutors of Christians, with Israel as the only ally for Christian Americans who are concerned for Christians in the East.

I suggest that ambassador Oren spends time listening to Palestinian Christians, instead of speaking on their behalf. Perhaps he should listen to the almost 50 Palestinian Christian families from Beit Jala near Bethlehem, whose land is under the threat of being confiscated by his own government. Recently, I again joined members of these families in their weekly prayer which they have been holding in the land for the last four months. These families have been persistent in their stand against this injustice, holding this weekly witness without interruption through bitter winter weather. Their persistence and patience is amazing, and the continual presence of many international activists is an encouraging factor. These families decided to put their hope in God and in God alone, for it is God who is our real and only hope in the Holy Land.

Read HERE the entire article.

Munther Isaac is the Vice Academic Dean at Bethlehem Bible College and a PhD candidate at the Oxford Center for Mission Studies. He is also the director of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. Click HERE to learn more about the event.

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Here is what Amira Hass, a Haaretz correspondent writes on the deceitful statements made by the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren:

Here’s some information that Interior Minister Eli Yishai might want to consider: Since the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel, its Christian communities have expanded 1,000 percent.

This information might have excited the Americans who read a March 9 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal written by Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, about Christians being forced out of Arab countries but flourishing in Israel.

Of course, Oren does not mention the Christians who lived in the country before 1948 and fled the horrors of war or were expelled by us – and who, like their Muslim compatriots, were not allowed to return to their homes after the establishment of the state.

He does, however, bring up the Jews who were expelled from Arab states. (Zionist ideology wants to have its cake and eat it too: It wants all the Jews from around the world to immigrate to Israel, and for this purpose it sent special emissaries who not only prepared the flying carpets but also encouraged and intensified the panic and flight; in the meantime, it complains about bans on Zionist activity and about the expulsion of Jews. )

Nor does Oren mention the systematic decline in the status of Jews from Arab states, who became third-rate citizens after they moved to Israel, a proxy agent of the enlightened West (a fan of slaves and other countries’ natural resources ) in the barbaric Middle East. He is too busy with current matters:.

Read HERE the entire article.

Amira Hass is the Haaretz correspondent for the Occupied Territories. Born in Jerusalem in 1956, Hass joined Haaretz in 1989, and has been in her current position since 1993. As the correspondent for the territories, she spent three years living in Gaza, which served of the basis for her widely acclaimed book, “Drinking the Sea at Gaza.” She has lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah since 1997. (Source, HERE)

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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