“Oh, my gosh,” I said to myself. “Reuters is actually writing an article about Islamic violence.” I mean, what else was I to think when I read this headline: Misery tempts Palestinian Christians to flee. After all, to the extent Christians are dying or being burned out of their homes, or otherwise harassed unto something just short of death, it’s the Muslims, stupid. Just a few stories illustrate the Muslim ferocity and drive to rid their sacred ground of Christians. Here’s one from a couple of days ago:
Gazan Muslims Form Group to Attack Christian Targets
by Ezra HaLevi
The group, which calls itself the “Army of guidance,” sent an announcement to news agencies based in Gaza saying that “every place relevant to Christians will be a target until the cursed infidel – the Vatican – apologizes to Muslims.”
Hardline Islamic groups were offended by the Pope’s citing of a Byzantine emperor who criticized Islam’s founder Mohammad’s command to spread Islamic faith by the sword.
Last Friday, the 1,400 year old St. Perfidious Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was among seven Christian targets burned or vandalized throughout PA-controlled areas.
Or how about this one from last Fall:
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) – Palestinians wielding guns and firebombs attacked five churches in the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday, following remarks by Pope Benedict that angered many Muslims. No injuries were reported in the attacks, which left church doors charred and walls pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by firebombs. Churches of various denominations were targeted.
Relations between Palestinian Muslims and Christians are generally peaceful [oh, really?], and the attacks on the churches sparked concern that tensions would heighten.
“The atmosphere is charged already, and the wise should not accept such acts,” Rev. Yousef Saada, a Greek Catholic priest in Nablus, said Saturday.
Ayman Daraghmeh, a legislator from the ruling Islamic militant Hamas group, denounced the attacks. Dozens of police took up position around churches in Nablus to protect the holy sites.
Firebombings left black scorch marks on the walls and windows of Nablus’ Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches. At least five firebombs hit the Anglican church and its door was later set ablaze. Smoke billowed from the church as firefighters put out the flames.
Let’s go back in time to Fall 2005:
For years, media outlets have largely refused to report one of the most troubling aspects of the Mideast conflict ― Muslim intimidation and violence against Christians in Palestinian-controlled areas.
The latest shocking episode again made its way to very few news consumers: Late Saturday night (Sept. 3), hundreds of armed Palestinian Muslims crying ‘Allahu Akbar’ descended on the West Bank Christian city of Taibe. For the next few hours, the mob terrorized the community, setting sixteen homes and multiple businesses on fire, looting valuables from both, and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Said one eyewitness: ‘It was like a war, they arrived in groups, and many of them were holding clubs.’
The mob’s ‘provocation’? A Muslim woman from their neighboring village had had a relationship with a Christian man from Taibe. The woman was poisoned to death by her own family in an ‘honor killing’, and soon after, the pogrom against Taibe commenced.
The article I just quoted from has a lot of other interesting information about how well Christians fair when they find themselves under Muslim control. There are no surprises, of course, In Saudi Arabia, Christianity is completely illegal. In Afghanistan (as in other Muslim countries, of course), you risk death if you convert to Christianity. In Indonesia, Christians are routinely beheaded by jihadists.
So, back to the beginning of my post. Given all this, you’d think that, when Christians are leaving Bethlehem, they’re doing so because of deadly persecution. But, my friend, if al-Reuters is reporting the story, how wrong you’d be. It is . . . I know you’re expecting this, but I’ll say it anyway . . . it is Israel’s fault for shutting down their economic opportunities (while, just coincidentally, protecting Israeli citizens from mass bombings):
Despairing of life under Israeli occupation, many Palestinian Christians are moving abroad, threatening their ancient links to Bethlehem and the land where Jesus was born.
“There is a real fear that 50 years down the road, the Holy Land will be without Christians,” said Mitri Raheb, 45-year-old pastor of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.
Pressures on majority Muslims are just as daunting — and many of them also leave — but dwindling Christian communities look more precarious as the young and dynamic pull up roots.
Christians have migrated from Bethlehem and nearby Beit Jala and Beit Sahour for over a century, mainly to Latin America, the United States and Canada, to escape successive wars and crises.
Bethlehem governor Salah al-Tamari said there was no way of tracking accurately how many Christians and Muslims had left since the eruption of Israeli-Palestinian violence in 2000.
“There is no business, no freedom of movement,” he said. “We depend on tourism, which is being demolished. Sometimes we receive 1,500 tourists a day but none of them stay the night. They visit the Nativity Church and leave, so we don’t benefit.”
A towering concrete wall is closing in on Bethlehem as part of a barrier that Israel is erecting, which it calls a defense against suicide bombers from the occupied West Bank. Much of it has been built on Palestinian land. (Emphasis mine.)
Perhaps anticipating my (and other’s) incredulity at this reporter, Reuters assures its readers that Christian leaders claim that they don’t suffer any religious discrimination, either from Muslims or Israelis. While I can totally believe this statement when it comes to Israelis, it’s a peculiar thing to say about Muslims — especially Muslims in Bethlehem itself. For example, in December 2005:
With Christmas services here drawing far fewer tourists than in the 1990s and the town’s Christian population now at an all-time low, many world leaders and hundreds of major media outlets this week blamed Israel for Bethlehem’s decline – often citing false information – while a simple talk with the town’s residents reveals a drastically different picture. They say Muslim persecution has been keeping Christians away.
“All this talk about Israel driving Christians out and causing pain is nonsense,” a Bethlehem Christian community leader told WND. “You want to know what is at play here, just come throughout the year and see the intimidation from the Muslims. They have burned down our stores, built mosques in front of our churches, stole our real estate and took away our rights. Women have been raped and abducted. So don’t tell me about Israel. It’s the Muslims.”
To the extent the Muslim leader told Reuters something so at odds with the facts, perhaps duress accounts for his statement about those “peaceful” Muslim neighbors. In the same the article I just quoted from, above, we also learn that the community leader who fingered Muslims as the Christians’ persecutors wouldn’t give his name “for fear of retaliation” (emphasis mine). The fact is that, when Christians in Bethlehem can talk honestly, they’ve got terrifying tales to tell:
Many Christians told WND they face constant Muslim hostility.
One religious novelty-store owner cited examples of Muslim gangs defacing Christian property, the PA replacing Christian leaders on public councils with Muslims, and armed Palestinian factions stirring tensions. One such incident was last week’s storming of Bethlehem’s City Hall, across the street from the Church of the Nativity, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus, by gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group.
The store owner said “We are harassed but you wouldn’t know the truth. No one says anything publicly about the Muslims.”
So next time you read a ludicrous story from al-Reuters, check the facts on your own, since al-Reuters is sure to be wrong in just about every particular.