My name is Elizabeth Daoud. I, like over a million Palestinians, am both Palestinian and Christian. I actually come from the Assyrian Orthodox Church, the first and original church of Christians in the Middle East. My parents were born in Palestine and have a long blood line from Jerusalem and Bayte Sahour. Many members of my family were first hand victims of the “nakbah” and had to flee their homeland after being expelled from their homes by Zionist militias, leaving them without the right to return to their land, even to this day. Today in Palestine, Christianity is experiencing what some believe is a crisis. The plight of Palestinian Christians, similar to what Palestinian Muslims are going through, is daily injustice at the hands of oppressive, doctoral and inhumane police forces of the Israeli government. This is occurring in both the West Bank and Gaza, where my Palestinian people live under a brutal and illegal military occupation, and also inside Israel itself, where Palestinians, Muslim and Christian, live as second-class citizens.
Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, have lived under Israeli policies of occupation and injustice while many living in the West deny this fact. Many Palestinian Christians feel betrayed by Christians living in North America and Europe who support the state of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinian people. We see them as hypocritical, standing by a state that has left us Palestinians, indiscriminately Christian and Muslim, without a state for over half a century.
Today, Palestinian Christians live under harsh, extreme oppression and apartheid policies. While Christian and Muslim Palestinians living in the West Bank under the heavy hand of martial law are not permitted to vote, undocumented Jewish settlers are subject to civil law and are allowed to vote in Israeli elections. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who fought to end Apartheid in South Africa, has even embraced the movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until they respect my people’s equal rights, an end to the occupation and the return to the homeland which Israel expelled them from, saying, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces … Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” Palestinian land continues to be confiscated and Palestinians continue to be humiliated by the Israelis for their religious beliefs. They were almost unable to celebrate Christmas in 2014 due to riots and street fights caused by the Israeli Police. They experience unemployment, poverty and illegal occupation. Moreover, they are routinely prohibited from visiting one of the most holy sites of Christianity: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, the church that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection from the dead.
As a Palestinian Christian, it is truly upsetting and disappointing to see Christians United for Israel justify the oppression of Palestinian Christians under the banner of Christian values. Palestinian Christians don’t have the smallest right to visit even the holiest of sites that started Christianity because of Israeli policies. How can Christians United for Israel be in support of this when indigenous Christians are being prevented from exercising Christianity in the very place that Jesus walked. I end this by calling upon CUFI to please stop justifying oppression, persecution and repression of my people in the name of the message of the Bible and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Elizabeth Daoud is a Rutgers Business School senior double majoring in finance and management information systems.