In and around Bethlehem, Christians have gone from being 80 percent of the population when Israel was founded in 1950, to around 12 percent today.
The Rev. Munther Isaac, right, leads a service in Bethlehem.Dusan Vranic / for NBC News By F. Brinley Bruton, Lawahez Jabari
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Jesus was arguably the matchmaker for the Rev. Munther Isaac and his wife, Rudaina: The two met when Munther, a theology professor, spoke at a Christian conference Rudaina had organized while attending college.
And it is conviction that keeps the Palestinian couple in the town in the occupied West Bank where Christians believe Jesus was born.
“It is my husband’s belief that it is God’s will for us to be in this country,” Rudaina Isaac, 31, an architect, said as her husband conducted Sunday service at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem.
But faith may not be enough to keep the family rooted in the Holy Land, where Munther heads Christ at the Checkpoint, a biannual event critical of Israeli policies.
“I don’t know how they will take this mission,” Rudaina says, referring to sons Karam and Zaid, her wide smile fading and her voice breaking. “Most of the Christians here only think of emigrating.”
Rudaina believes that American evangelicals who form a vital base of support for hard-line Israeli policies — and helped propel President Donald Trump to power — have made the local Palestinian Christian community’s suffering more acute.
“If we are sisters and brothers in Christ — they should understand,” she says. “They want Jews to control this land, but Christ came for all the nations.”
“Most of the Christians here only think of emigrating,” said Rudaina Isaac, 31, an architect who lives in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank.Dusan Vranic / for NBC News
Many evangelical so-called Christian Zionists believe that by “redeeming” or reclaiming land, Israeli Jews are bringing the world a step closer to the second coming of Christ. Evangelicals — a mainly socially conservative group who believe in the importance of being “born again” and the centrality of the Bible — make up about a quarter of the U.S. population. Most evangelical leaders reliably support the policies of Israel’s government.
Religious anxiety is intrinsic to Israel and the Palestinian territories, with their tapestry of competing faiths, sects, ethnicities and land claims. But Christian communities in the birthplace of Jesus are shrinking.
In and around Bethlehem, Christians have gone from around 80 percent of the population just after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1950, to around 12 percent today.
Jewish settlements have eaten up Arab land — some of it originally owned by Christians — in areas that Palestinians hope to be a future state.
In Israel itself, Christians have gone from some 21 percent of the Arab population to around 8 percent today. Overall, they now number just 2 percent of the Israeli population.
“This is a quiet ethnic cleansing,” says the Rev. Drew Christiansen, a Roman Catholic priest and a professor of ethics and global human development at Georgetown and former adviser to the U.S. bishops on Middle East policy. “It’s not large-scale massacres or large-scale deportations, but it is bit by bit over many years with a variety of policies which Christians are not necessarily attacked as Christians but they are marked by being Palestinians.”
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.