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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Christians Suffer Under Muslim Rule in West Bank, Gaza, But Christian Mayor of Bethlehem Blames Israel!

Posted by kinchendavid on December 24, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV  – A question on this Christmas Eve for Arab Christians: Where would you rather live, in Israel or in Gaza or the West Bank — including Bethlehem?

Before you turn to http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=26147 for the answer, ponder these points.

Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh, meet Jimmy Carter. The 71-year-old Roman Catholic Marxist (now there’s a unique combination!) blames Israel’s security fence for the decline in tourism and the 65 percent unemployment rate in the birthplace of Jesus. He’s on the same page with the sage of Plains, GA, who calls Israel an apartheid nation in his latest book.

Neither one blames the Muslim Palestinians, according to Michael I. Krauss and J. Peter Pham writing about “The Dark Fate of Christians Under Palestinian Rule” in FrontPageMagazine.com on Dec. 22, 2006 (click on the link above to read the complete article).

Krauss and Pham: “In mid-September, after Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about medieval Islam, Palestinian Islamic militants waged the most violent attacks against Christian holy sites in the PA territories in recent years. On September 15, 2006, grenades were thrown at the oldest church in Gaza. On September 16, firebombs were hurled at five different churches throughout the PA. On September 17, in Tulkarm, a 170-year-old church was burned to the ground.”

To accommodate tourists who might be deterred by the security fence – which has drastically reduced suicide attacks against Israelis of all religions – Krauss and Pham write that “Israel’s Ministry of Tourism is operating complimentary shuttles running every half hour from Mar Elias Monastery in southern Jerusalem to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. To help ease pilgrims’ travels, Israeli security has arranged to check passports before travelers disembark from the shuttles. The measures were implemented this year to prevent traffic jams at the Rachel border crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem as 15,000 to 18,000 pilgrims are expected to travel between the two cities this Christmas. As in years past, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Jewish National Fund distributed free Christmas trees on December 21 at Jaffa Gate Square in Jerusalem. Additionally, [Christian] Israelis will be allowed to drive in and out of Bethlehem with their private cars to attend holiday festivities in the West Bank.”

Sounds pretty friendly to this observer, especially when you consider that Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow any Christian worship of any kind within its vast expanses, let alone Jewish worship!

Again, Krauss and Pham: “Statistics indicate that last Christmas, nearly 146,000 Christians lived in Israel, 2.1 percent of her population. Meanwhile, in the PA, the Christian population has been on the decline for years. Currently, Palestinian Christians from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem comprise less than two percent of the total Palestinian population, less than in Israel! Christians living under the Palestinian Authority have fled in recent years due to economic deterioration and the second intifada. Islamic violence aimed at the dwindling Christian population in the last few months has led to a further population decline.”

So, Mayor Batarseh, in the words of Jose Feliciano, whom I saw perform in the Chicago area 41 years ago, “Feliz Navidad.” To be precise, Feliciano performed in a club on Dempster Avenue in the suburb of Skokie, home to many holocaust survivors, as well as Christian and Muslim Arabs, all of whom live in peace. That’s the true meaning of Christmas, as I see it.

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