LAST REQUIEM FOR PALESTINE’S CHRISTIANS
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Whilst media carpet bombs their readership with exaggerated claims of anti-Semitism, the Christians of Palestine face extinction. The anti-Christian Jewish vice is turning the last few screws on the world’s most ancient Christian community. Christian Palestine will soon no longer exist, not even in the history books, and the reason for this is Israel.
Christian leaders from Palestine and South Africa sounded the alarm at a conference in Johannesburg on October 15. Their gathering was titled: The Holy Land: A Palestinian Christian Perspective.
One major issue that highlighted itself at the meetings is the rapidly declining number of Palestinian Christians in Palestine. There are varied estimates on how many Palestinian Christians are still living in Palestine today, compared with the period before 1948 when the state of Israel was established atop ruined Palestinian towns and villages. There is near consensus that the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.
The horrendous holocaust, the 9 / 10 attrition rate can be likened to the virtual genocide of North America’s Native American populations from the landing of Columbus to the present.
A population census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017 concluded that there are today 47,000 Palestinian Christians living in Palestine, with reference to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
98 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the West Bank, concentrated mostly in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, while the remainder, a tiny Christian community of merely 1,100 people, lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The demographic crisis that had afflicted the Christian community decades ago can now be described as genocide.
For example, 70 years ago, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. The demographics of the city, however, have fundamentally shifted, especially after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, and the construction of the illegal Israeli apartheid wall starting in 2002.
Parts of the wall were meant to cut off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and to isolate the former from the rest of the West Bank. “The Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west,” the Open Bethlehem organization said, describing the devastating impact of the wall on the Palestinian city.
Increasingly beleaguered, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have been driven out from their historic city in large numbers. According to the city’s mayor, Vera Baboun, as of 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped to merely 11,000 people. The most optimistic estimates place the overall number of Palestinian Christians in the whole of Occupied Palestine at less than two percent.
A study conducted by Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank town of Beit Jala and published in December 2017, interviewed nearly 1,000 Palestinians, half of them Christian and the other half Muslim. One of the main goals of the research was to understand The study concluded that “the pressure of (anti-Christian) Israeli occupation, on-going constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” who are finding themselves in a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves.
Only 2 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip. When Israel occupied Gaza along with the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, an estimated 2,300 Christians lived in the Strip.
However, merely 1,100 Christians still live in Gaza today. Years of occupation, horrific wars and an unforgiving American and EU supported siege can do that to a community, whose historic roots date back to the birth of Christ.
Like Gaza’s Muslims, these Christians are cut off from the rest of the world, including the holy sites in the West Bank. Every year, Gaza’s Christians apply for permits from the Israeli military to join Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Last April, only 200 Christians were granted permits, but on the condition that they must be 55 years of age or older and that they are not allowed to visit Jerusalem. Jewish anti-Christian hate on steroids; is manic and satanic.
Israel’s strategy is predicated on the idea that a combination of factors, immense economic hardships, permanent siege and apartheid, the severing of communal and spiritual bonds, will eventually drive all Christians out of their Palestinian homeland.
Equally disturbing, Israel’s most ardent supporters in the United States and elsewhere are religious Christians. It must be understood that Palestinian Christians are neither aliens nor bystanders in Palestine.
They have played a major role in defining the modern Palestinian identity, through their resistance, spirituality, and deep connection to the land, artistic contributions and burgeoning scholarship.
Israel must not be allowed to ostracize the world’s most ancient Christian community from their ancestral land so that it may score a few points in its deeply disturbing drive for racial supremacy.
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MICHAEL WALSH is a worldwide journalist, broadcaster and author of 63 book titles with 36 years’ experience. Like other journalists of integrity, he no longer writes for corporate media, opting instead for true journalism.
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