This article was first published by the Gatestone Institute. Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
“The moment they [Hamas] took control [of the Gaza Strip], they started persecuting us, ruining our churches and forcing Christians to convert to Islam.”
Such are the recent recollections of Kamal Tarazi, a 60-year-old Christian man from Gaza, now living in the streets of Nazareth. Before fleeing, he tried to resist the Islamist takeover, including by calling on Muslims and Christians to unite against Hamas. As a result, “I was jailed several times. Do you know what a Hamas prison is? It is pure torture.”
The report adds that “the Islamic group decided to keep him alive to avoid depicting themselves as persecutors of the local Christian population, something that could potentially anger the international community.” He was eventually released, fled the region, returned, got imprisoned again, and fled again, permanently. “I am sure there are no more than 500 Christians left in Gaza,” he offers, “and it is just part of the general trend.”
His account is a reminder that, while reports on the persecution of Christians emerge regularly from other Muslim majority regions around the world, little is often mentioned of those Christians living under the Palestinian Authority.
This is not because they experience significantly less persecution than their coreligionists. Open Doors, a human rights group that follows the persecution of Christians, notes in its most recent report that Palestinian Christians suffer from a “high” level of persecution, the source of which is, in its words, “Islamic Oppression”:
Those who convert to Christianity from Islam, however, face the worst Christian persecution and it is difficult for them to safely participate in existing churches. In the West Bank they are threatened and put under great pressure, in Gaza their situation is so dangerous that they live their Christian faith in utmost secrecy….The influence of radical Islamic ideology is rising, and historical churches have to be diplomatic in their approach towards Muslims.
It seems that the unique situation of Palestinian Christians—living in a hotly contested arena with much political and media wrangling in the balance—best explains the lack of news from that area.
“The Persecution of Christians in the Palestinian Authority,” a report by Dr. Edy Cohen, published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies earlier this year, goes a long way in validating this supposition.
First, it documents three anecdotes of persecution of Christians, all of which were back-to-back, and none of which were reported by so-called “mainstream media.” Summaries follow:
These three attacks, which occurred over the course of three weeks, fit the same pattern of abuse that Christians in other Muslim majority regions habitually experience. While the desecration and plundering of churches is prevalent, so too are Muslim mob risings against Christian minorities—who tend to be perceived as dhimmis, or second-class “citizens,” who should be grateful to receive any toleration at all—whenever they dare speak up for their rights, as occurred in the village of Jifna on April 25: “[T]he rioters” in Jifna, the report relates, “called on the [Christian] residents to pay jizya—a head tax that was levied throughout history on non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule. The most recent victims of the jizya were the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria under ISIS rule.”
Moreover, as often happens whenever Christian minorities are attacked in Muslim majority nations, “Despite the [Christian] residents’ cries for help” in Jifna, “the PA police did not intervene during the hours of mayhem. They have not arrested any suspects.” Similarly, “no suspects were arrested” in the two church attacks.
In short, Palestinian Christians are suffering from the same patterns of persecution—including church attacks, kidnappings and forced conversion—that their coreligionists suffer in other Muslim nations. The difference, however, is that the persecution of Palestinian Christians has “received no coverage in the Palestinian media. In fact,” Cohan explains, “a full gag order was imposed in many cases”:
The only thing that interests the PA is that events of this kind not be leaked to the media. Fatah regularly exerts heavy pressure on Christians not to report the acts of violence and vandalism from which they frequently suffer, as such publicity could damage the PA’s image as an actor capable of protecting the lives and property of the Christian minority under its rule. Even less does the PA want to be depicted as a radical entity that persecutes religious minorities. That image could have negative repercussions for the massive international, and particularly European, aid the PA receives.
Considered another way, the bread and butter of the PA and its supporters, particularly in the media, is to portray the Palestinians as victims of unjust aggression and discrimination from Israel. This narrative would be jeopardized if the international community learned that Palestinians are themselves persecuting fellow Palestinians—solely on account of religion. It might be hard to muster sympathy for a supposedly oppressed people when one realizes that they themselves are doing the oppressing of the minorities in their midst, and for no other reason that religious bigotry.
Because they are so sensitive to this potential difficulty, “PA officials exert pressure on local Christian[s] to not report such incidents, which threaten to unmask the Palestinian Authority as yet another Middle East regime beholden to a radical Islamic ideology,” Cohen states elsewhere:
Far more important to the Palestinian Authority than arresting those who assault Christian sites is keeping such incidents out of the mainstream media. And they are very successful in this regard. Indeed, only a handful of smaller local outlets bothered to report on these latest break-ins. The mainstream international media ignored them altogether.
Notably, a similar dynamic exists concerning Muslim refugees. Although West European politicians and media present them as persecuted and oppressed, in need of a welcoming hand, Muslim migrants themselves persecute and oppress Christian minorities among them—including by terrorizing them in refugee camps and drowning them in the Mediterranean.
Even mere numbers—which are inherently objective—confirm that Christians living under the PA are experiencing some unpleasantry that Muslims are not: although there were approximately 3,500 Christians in the Gaza Strip in 2007, there are now reportedly no more than 500-1,300.
As Justus Reid Weiner, a lawyer acquainted with the region, explains, “The systematic persecution of Christian Arabs living in Palestinian areas is being met with nearly total silence by the international community, human rights activists, the media and NGOs… In a society where Arab Christians have no voice and no protection it is no surprise that they are leaving.”
Indeed, Christianity is, by all counts, on the verge of disappearing in the place of its birth—literally, as this includes Bethlehem, scene of the Nativity—thereby giving the otherwise seasonally relevant words, “Silent Night,” a more tragic significance
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)
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Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
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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.
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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.
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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...
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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.