Israel’s new Herods and Palestine’s Christians

Jerusalem monastery defaced by Jews

By Jamal Kanj

I’m writing from Finland this week, where the omnipresence of snowflakes and festive Christmas lights heralds another year celebrating the birth of Jesus.

In parallel, the descendants of the Messiah in Palestine are marking another year of abominable Israeli occupation.

Indulged with indifference towards the collective sorrow cloaking the hearts of native Christians in the Holy Land, the West turns another leaf, rejoicing the birth of the prince of peace.

However, in present-day Palestine, Jesus is no longer a prince and peace remains a phantom.

If Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary were to venture on their historic journey to Bethlehem today, they would have to navigate roads reserved for foreign settlers, overcome military checkpoints and scale high walls to get there.

If Joseph and his pregnant wife Mary were to venture on their historic journey to Bethlehem today, they would have to navigate roads reserved for foreign settlers, overcome military checkpoints and scale high walls to get there.

More than 2,000 years ago they fled Herod the Great, “King of the Jews”, to save their baby.

Nowadays, Palestinian Christians are fleeing descendants of the King of Khazar – an aspiring flat copy of Herod – who has Polish pedigree and was christened Benjamin Mileikowsky.

He later became known as Binyamin Netanyahu, the current Israeli prime minister whose main political ally is the Moldovan Evet Lvovich Liberman – Avigdor Lieberman.

According to Israeli human rights groups, the year 2012 has witnessed a portentous increase in religious hate crimes directed towards historical Christian monasteries, churches and graveyards.

The most recent was a week ago, when suspected Jewish extremists (Price Tag) associated with Israel’s settlement movement defiled the Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem with graffiti.

In July, elected Israeli member of parliament Michael Ben Ari desecrated the Christian Bible on camera, calling it a “despicable book” belonging “in history’s trash can” and blaming it for “the murder of millions of Jews” in Europe.

Earlier in the year, the CBS News show “60 Minutes” aired a compelling programme on Palestinian Christians in the holy land. Before the broadcast, the Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, contacted the head of CBS News in an attempt to quash the report.

In an uncommon gesture, CBS afforded the ambassador a unique opportunity to rebut the story before it was aired.

Veteran reporter Bob Simon told the diplomat in an interview before the broadcast: “I’ve never gotten a reaction before from a story that hasn’t been broadcast yet.”

Oren pompously responded: “There’s a first time for everything.”

If your country is so good to Christians, why don’t you allow me, my family and thousands of Palestinian Christians to return to our home? (Palestinian Christian activist, Philip Farah, challenging Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michel Oren)

The ambassador pre-empted the show in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, but instead of addressing Israel’s mistreatment of Christians, Oren blamed Muslims for oppressing and massacring “Christian communities throughout the Middle East”, claiming that Christianity was “thriving” in Israel.

Responding to Oren’s assertions, 80 native Christian leaders denounced his bid to blame Christians’ hardship on Muslims as “shameful manipulation of the facts intended to mask the damage that Israel has done to our community”.

As for the “thriving” Christian community in Israel, they explained that the growth was attributable to a large number of “Russian Christians whom Israel was unable to distinguish from Jewish immigrants pouring into the country after the fall of the Soviet Union”.

A native Christian activist, Philip Farah, challenged Ambassador Oren: “If your country is so good to Christians, why don’t you allow me, my family and thousands of Palestinian Christians to return to our home?”

In 1948, Israel indiscriminately razed more than 500 Palestinian villages, including predominantly Christian towns such as Iqrit and Kufr Bir’m, to name just two.

Likewise, these days Israeli settlements and the separation wall are encroaching and confiscating land belonging to Palestinians of all persuasions.

This Christmas, new Israeli Herods abetted by Western powers are driving Christians from their land and transforming native churches into Israeli tourist attractions and grand “archaeological sites” like the Pyramids, detached from their indigenous traditions.

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