The Palestinian Christian is an endangered species.
When the modern state of Israel was established there were about 400,000 of us. Two years ago the number was down to 80,000. Now it’s down to 60,000. At that rate, in a few years there will be none of us left. When this happens non-Christian groups will move into our churches and claim them forever.
Palestinian Christians within Israel fare little better. On the face of it, their number has grown by 20,000 since 1991. But this is misleading, for the census classification “Christian” includes some 20,000 recent non-Arab migrants from the former Soviet Union.
So why are Palestinian Christians abandoning their homeland?
We have lost hope, that’s why. We are treated as non-people. Few outside the Middle East even know we exist, and those who do, conveniently forget.
I refer, of course, to the American Religious Right. They see modern Israel as a harbinger of the Second Coming, at which time Christians will go to paradise, and all others (presumably including Jews) to hell. To this end they lend military and moral support to Israel.
Even by the double-dealing standards of international diplomacy this is a breathtakingly cynical bargain. It is hard to know who is using whom more: the Christian Right for offering secular power in the expectation that the Jewish state will be destroyed by a greater spiritual one; or the Israeli Right for accepting their offer. What we do know is that both sides are abusing the Palestinians. Apparently we don’t enter into anyone’s calculations.
The views of the Israeli Right are well known: they want us gone.
Less well known are the views of the American Religious Right. Strangely, they find the liberation of Iraqis from a vile dictator just, but do not find it unjust for us to be under military occupation for 38 long years.
Said Senator James Inhofe (Rep.,Oklahoma): “God Appeared to Abraham and said: ‘I am giving you this land’, the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”
Inhofe must have got it wrong. Promises are being made to earthly Jerusalem that God did not make. The Holy Land was promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, as stated in the Bible. These are the Palestinian Muslims, Christians and Jews, who have been living in the land for thousands of years. The Bible never mentioned that God promised it solely to Jews. Anyone can be a Jew, but not anyone can be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants. James Inhofe and followers are unable to tell the difference between Jew, Israelite and Israel.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (Rep.,Texas) was even more forthright: “I'm content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank … I happen to believe that the Palestinians should leave.”
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