Simply Jews: Another Christmas at The Guardian

December 25, 2011

(Simply Jews) Nu, what did you expect? Of course, some people celebrate, some people riot and some people just traditionally dish out the same old, same old.
And here it comes, another Christmas in Bethlehem according to one Phoebe Greenwood*, direct from the location. But if you think it’s about Christmas or even about Bethlehem, you will be mistaken. Of course not, not from the Guardian…
The article is predictably titled If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed.
Because first of all I want to declare my personal wish for a Christmas present. One measly** dollar for every time I read in The Guardian the following quote (attributed, surely, to a local priest):

“If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed,” says the priest of Bethlehem’s Beit Jala parish. “He would either have to be born at a checkpoint or at the separation wall. Mary and Joseph would have needed Israeli permission – or to have been tourists.”

Notwithstanding the fact that for this specific Jewish rabbi the powers that be would have found a way to get in. As they have found the way… but a bit later about that.
The rest of the article is totally predictable, and I would like to limit myself to one quote only:

Father Shomali’s outlook is more glum: “When I look down my church register, many of the historic family names from the area have already gone. In 20 years, I think we will have no more Christians in Bethlehem.”

Sad, ain’t it?
Well, it so happens that this year Ha’aretz decided to publish its own opus on the same place. I mean on Bethlehem. Its title is a bit different: Thousands gather to celebrate Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. And its beginning is a bit different too:

By early evening, the Israeli military, which controls movement in and out of town, said some 55,000 visitors, including foreigners and Arab Christians from Israel, had reached Bethlehem.
Palestinian officials in Bethlehem said that with local tourists included, overall turnout was 120,000 – about 30 percent higher than last year.

Do you believe now that the above mentioned rabbi could somehow squeeze between these throngs? You bet…
And now to that quote from Father Shomali. Of course, Phoebe of the Guardian knows the truth perfectly well, but a reminder from the Guardian’s local sibling – Ha’aretz couldn’t hurt, could it? So:

The number of Christians in the West Bank is on the decline, and many speak of persecution by the Muslim majority, but always anonymously, fearing retribution.

Christians have even lost their majority in Bethlehem where more than two-thirds of the some 50,000 Palestinian residents are now Muslim.

Yep, Phoebe: and for how much do old tattered half-truths go nowadays in your newspaper? I would like to add to my Christmas wish another buck for Father Shomali’s complaint too, if you don’t mind.
OK, so I am hanging my (freshly laundered) sock near that oil stove, in lieu of a fireplace. Please, Santa, be a mensch…
(*) In favor of Phoebe: she penned a surprising piece Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas. Check it out. Meryl, in fact, already told about that one.
(**) That was a figger of speech. A dollar is still a dollar, although… oh well.
Cross-posted on


The medical NGO’s war on Israel

November 26, 2011

Giulio Meotti summarizes the extreme bias that the medical NGO’s display toward Israel.

A case in point is how the Red Cross allocates personnel and budgets worldwide. For North Africa, the Red Cross has one office in Tunis. For “Israel/Occupied Territories/Autonomous Territories,” the Red Cross has offices in Jenin, Tulkarm, Nablus, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron, Gaza, Khan Yunis, Majdel Shams, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.
Western newspapers, imbued with the ideological reports of medical NGOs, establish a comparison between the Palestinians and South Africa’s blacks, who were critically injured and left to bleed to death if there was no “black” ambulance to rush them to a “black” hospital. Jewish altruism never finds its legitimate space in the global media because it doesn’t fit in with the stereotype propagated by the medical NGOs.

It would be enough to stroll through the corridors of Israeli hospitals to understand how false the “apartheid” charge by medical NGOs is. Large Arab families stand with Israelis in the corridors of the maternity wards where one is born and in the oncology clinics where one dies. Through the private program “Save the heart of a child,” the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon cures congenital cardiologic defects in Arab children from all over the world. About half the children it treats are from the nearby Palestinian areas and there have also been some from Iraq and Iran, both technically at war with Israel.

Medical organizations never blamed the Palestinians for attacks on Israeli hospitals. Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus recently released a report, noting that it suffered 43 attacks by east Jerusalem Arabs in 2011. During the last “Nakba Day” events alone, 11 firebombs were thrown into the Mount Scopus campus.
The medical groups also didn’t report that 10 Gaza hospitals were used by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead to shelter weapons and terrorists.
Today Magen David Adom vehicles do not enter the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem without police authorization and military escort. It’s not because of the “apartheid,” but rather, because terrorists tried to hit the doctors. During the Intifada, MDA had to replace the windows of its ambulances in the Jerusalem region with glass that does not shatter if hit by rocks. Read the whole thing.

The picture at the top of this post comes from a post on in 2006 which documented the International Red Cross assisting Hezbullah terrorists to escape from the Second Lebanon War. That story is here.

Palestinian Theologian" Trashes "Palestinian Theology

November 14, 2011

(Hudson) For over two decades, parts of the Christian world have been bemused by the writings of self-styled “Palestinian Christian theologians.” Since their brightest lights are Protestant pastors, they are minor figures among the overwhelmingly Orthodox and Catholic faithful of the Holy Land. But they are strangely popular in Liberal Protestant circles abroad and especially beloved of church bureaucrats.
Now one of them, Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb of Bethlehem, has trashed all the efforts of “Palestinian theology” to date as an irrelevant rehash of nineteenth century European theology. And what is his new starting point? Basically, nineteenth century race theory.
For decades, Raheb and his Anglican counterpart Naim Ateek have been touring Protestant churches in Europe and North America and conducting seminars in “Palestinian theology.” That is: purported theological underpinning for Palestinian political aims. Students in Protestant universities have been obliged to swallow down their books and regurgitate them in examinations. Those who questioned this new orthodoxy might face serious obstacles to their academic future.
Ateek in Jerusalem and Raheb in Bethlehem opened educational institutions to which theology students were sent from abroad. Recently, Raheb received authorization from the Palestinian Authority to grant BA and MA degrees. So for Raheb to denounce all that purported theologizing was to drop a big bomb.
Raheb was talking on “Contextual Palestinian Theology as It Deals with Realities on the Ground” at the March 2010 “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem. He began by promising a “new way of thinking” because “we all, even as Palestinians theologians, we were dancing on the rhythm of European theology of the 19th Century, trying to react here, to react there, to change here and there, but the assumptions, the systems of thinking, was [sic] still 19th Century Europe.”
Thus far, in trashing all the previous work of himself and Ateek, together with the lesser luminaries of this genre, Raheb was correct. Both Raheb and Ateek hold doctorates from foreign universities, written under that kind of old-time European influence. But the continuation of Raheb’s talk is so academically frivolous that one wonders how he received a doctorate in the first place.
The “first assumption” of his new way of thinking, he announced, is that “the Bible could not have been written anywhere else but in Palestine.” Now, such books as Esther and Revelation explicitly state that they were composed outside the Land of Israel (in Persia and on a Greek island respectively). Is Raheb so ignorant of his Bible?
His second assumption is outrageous, echoing nineteenth century attempts to obscure the Jewish origins of Jesus, which peaked in the “Aryan Christianity” of Nazi Germany. It is that “the Palestinian people and part of the Jewish people are the continuation of the peoples of the land” whereas “Israel represents Rome of the Bible, not the people of the land.”
Why? Because “I’m sure if we were to do a DNA test between David, who was a Bethlehemite, and Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and Mitri, born just across the street from where Jesus was born, I’m sure the DNA will show that there is a trace. While, if you put King David, Jesus and Netanyahu, you will get nothing, because Netanyahu comes from an East European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages.”
Even if Raheb’s claims about the ancestry of himself and Binyamin Netanyahu were true, he would be putting them at the service of a shameless racism. But, of course, he also has not the slightest evidence to support those claims. He knows nothing of Netanyahu’s ancestry. And he himself, for all he knows, may be descended from Greek pilgrims or from Europeans who arrived with the Crusaders, as I have pointed out elsewhere. As for DNA, had he taken the trouble, Raheb could have found that genetic studies on Jews have shown that European Jews are genetically much more closely related to Jews in the Middle East, and even to some non-Jews there, than to non-Jewish Europeans.
Recall that the leitmotif of “Christ at the Checkpoint” was the claim that today Israeli checkpoints would prevent Joseph, Mary and Jesus from ever getting to Bethlehem. In fact, of course, if today a Jewish couple expecting their first child tried to set up house in Bethlehem, they would be denounced by the UN, the US State Department and all the world’s foreign ministries as illegal settlers. And Mary would be lucky to live long enough to give birth.
So here comes Raheb to the rescue. As Yasser Arafat liked to say, Jesus and Mary were not Jews but Palestinians; so no problem. “And being born just across the street from where Jesus was born,” adds Raheb, “I always loved to say that most probably one of my grand, grand, grand, grandmas used to babysit for Jesus.” Once again, Raheb displays ignorance of or contempt for his Bible. According to Matthew’s Gospel, the Holy Family fled Bethlehem for Egypt shortly after the birth of Jesus. If anyone babysat for Jesus, it was Copts.
We need not pursue further Raheb’s “new thinking” except to note its fundamental aim: to show that wherever the Bible talks about a Chosen People, it means today’s Palestinians and specifically the Palestinian Arab Christians. Yes, he really means to make that preposterous claim. Consider a few quotations, and note that his initial inclusion of “part of the Jewish people” has vanished: now it is just Palestinians.
“Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith.” “So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren’t Israel. This experience I’m talking about, it’s only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome.” “It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given…”
If one reads attentively all the “Palestinian theology” produced by Raheb and Ateek and their like, one finds that this claim about Palestinian chosenness, with the concomitant disqualification of Israel, is the whole point of the exercise. All the rest is baseless rigmarole, churned out in the attempt to get to that conclusion. The significance of Raheb’s speech is his acknowledgement that all their previous rigmarole cannot survive serious examination. His puerile attempt to start a new rigmarole merely confirms this.
Not that this will diminish the adulation of Raheb and Ateek among their admirers. For they are admired not for their intellectual integrity, but for their services in the delegitimization of contemporary Israel and of the contemporary Jewish people. Despite his averred repudiation of nineteenth century theology, Raheb is repackaging the claim of old-time theologians that the Church is the “New Israel” that has replaced the Jewish people, that the Bible now belongs to Christians alone. In Raheb’s view – it belongs just to Palestinian Christians.
Thus Raheb habitually receives rapt attention in Germany. He was awarded the “International Aachen Peace Prize” in 2008. Frequently, he has been fêted at Kirchentage, the mass jamborees of German Christians. He was most recently featured at the joint Protestant-Catholic Kirchentag hosted by the Lutheran Church of Bavaria in May 2010, two months after his Bethlehem speech. No matter what he said.
Raheb was also the star witness at the session of the 2004 General Assembly at which the Presbyterian Church of the USA voted to divest from various firms that do business with Israel. Two years later, after much controversy, the next General Assembly of the PCUSA voted to replace that resolution and apologize for allowing itself to be misled in 2004.
Still, we have to be grateful for the spectacle of Raheb’s performance in Bethlehem. On the one hand, he threw all previous “Palestinian theology” into the rubbish bin. On the other, any decent university would grade his “new thinking” with a fail, if submitted by a non-Palestinian student. “Palestinian theology” may still have its admirers, but they are staring at a naked mini-monarch.

NY Times likens violent ‘fly-in’ agitators to Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem

July 13, 2011
Isabel_Kershner’s_NY_Times_report_on_Friday’s flytilla into Ben Gurion Airport made it sound as if the participants were brutally stopped from attending something on the order of a snoozy academic conference at the Hyatt Regency in LA. Those ‘peace loving’ flytilla ‘activists’ clashed with Israeli troops on Sunday at a checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Or better still, as Christian_pilgrims landing expectantly in the Holy Land. Iran’s Press TV website published this photo. A similar but more brutal scene accompanied the NY Times article. Palestinians and international activists in Bethlehem on Sunday tried to force their way through a checkpoint separating the West Bank city from Jerusalem.

Among the protesters were activists who were onboard the so-called “flytilla” that arrived Friday at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Israeli soldiers prevented protesters from accessing the area and threatening to shoot anyone who approached the checkpoint, one of the main terminals connecting the occupied West Bank with Jerusalem.

Most were barred from boarding their flights in Europe as a result of a blacklist of suspected rabble-rousers Israel sent to airlines with a request to deny them passage, while others were arrested at Ben-Gurion and now await deportation back to Europe.
A few, however, trickled through Israeli security and promptly hooked up with violent Palestinian demonstrators who clashed Saturday with Israeli security forces at two West Bank checkpoints. According to Israeli media, one of the clashes that involved the hurling of stones at IDF troops included “fly-in” participants, thus justifying earlier warnings by Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli officials that Israel would not tolerate foreign “provocateurs” and “hoodlums” bent on entering the country to engage in public disorder.
Leftists in Israel and elsewhere, however, denounced Israel’s security precautions as excessive and draconian — a view also espoused by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner in a Saturday dispatch in the New York Times, “Israel Blocks Air Travelers to Palestinian Conference,” July 9).
Determined to depict intruding agitators as peaceful visitors, Kershner stationed herself in Bethlehem (her dateline reads “Bethlehem, West Bank”), where she awaited the arrival of these supposedly harmless air travelers for a week-long program of “fellowship.”
To underscore their supposedly peaceful bona fides, Kershner wrote in the second paragraph of her piece that, after all, “Israel has traditionally been welcoming of foreign tourists, including more than a million Christian pilgrims who visited this Palestinian city of the Nativity last year.”
Imagine her disappointment that Israel didn’t put out the welcome mat to these Gandhiesque “fly-in” pilgrims.
“There were persistent reports,” Kershner informed Times readers,” that the foreign visitors would try to create chaos and paralyze the airport, despite strenuous denials from the organizers of the campaign, who advocate nonviolence.” Kershner thus was confident enough to give these agitators and their hosts a kosher, non-violent stamp of approval.
But no sooner did her dispatch make it into the New York Times than Israeli media reported Palestinian clashes with IDF units at West Bank protests, including one demonstration where some of these allegedly non-violent guests participated in stone-hurling attacks on IDF troops.

Leftists in Israel and elsewhere, however, denounced Israel’s security precautions as excessive and draconian — a view also espoused by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner in a Saturday dispatch in the New York Times, “Israel Blocks Air Travelers to Palestinian Conference,” July 9).

what did you expect?

PalArab protesters narrowly avoid getting Jew-cooties

June 12, 2011

From the IDF Spokesperson website:

The following video is of a protest which took place yesterday in Umm Salamuna, southeast of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Every Friday afternoon, protesters gather in the town to demonstrate against the security fence, which has dramatically decreased suicide bombings and other terror attacks inside Israel for over 6 years. Protests in Umm Salamuna often turn violent, with rocks being hurled at IDF and other security forces by rioters who also damage the security fence.

In the video, the deputy battalion commander of the Kfir Brigade offers water to the protesters due to the extremely high temperature mid-afternoon that day. The Palestinian protest leader tells his supporters, “Don’t drink the water!” following which a woman dumps out a cup of water offered to her by the commander.

Whew, that was close! Who knows what the IDF spiked the water with – poison, sex hormones, anti-sex hormones, tiny bacteria that eat out your spleen – the mind reels at how much damage could have resulted if Arab protesters would accept a simple gift of water from a soldier.

They might have even started to regard Israelis as human beings, and that would be the worst possible outcome.

Christians flee Iraq, UPI faults Israel as much as Muslims

November 3, 2010

UPI does a story on the increased pace of Christian flight from Iraq in light of a massacre in a Roman Catholic church on Sunday in which 52 Christians were murdered. They go on to point out that this is a widespread trend throughout the Middle East, and throughout all Muslim countries. Then, they come up with this gem.

But Iraq’s Christians aren’t the only ones on the run. Across the Middle East, and indeed in the wider Muslim world as far east as Indonesia, Christians are in retreat and often under fire.
In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, reputed to be Jesus’ birthplace, Christians once comprised 85 percent of the population. They’re now 20 percent.
Land belonging to Arab Christians, along with other Palestinians, is seized by Israel in the name of security, then handed over to Jewish settlers.

What a lie! Christians have fled and continue to flee Bethlehem and its environs, but it’s not because Israel is seizing ‘Palestinian’ lands. Christians are fleeing because of the manner in which they’ve been brutalized by Muslims (like the priest in the picture at the top who was being held hostage in the Church of the Nativity in 2002 when the picture was taken).

Compare that with this description of Christian – Muslim relations which appeared in the JPost earlier this week:

In an 2005 interview with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JPCA), Steven Khoury, of Bethlehem’s First Baptist Church, reported that the church had been attacked by Muslims from a nearby refugee camp “…with Molotov cocktails 14 times. Our church vans have been burned. The church was broken into and defaced with graffiti five times.” Others have reported the shooting of the Baptist Church’s pastor.
In 2006, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on the struggle of two Christians from the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Jala who were facing continuous persecution for their faith. George Rabie, a cab driver, said that he had been beaten by a gang of Muslims visiting from nearby Hebron, angered by the crucifix hanging on his windshield, and that he experiences persecution “every day.” Jeriez Moussa Amaro told the Daily Mail that his two sisters Rada, 24, and Dunya, 28, had been shot dead by Muslim gunmen. “Their crime was to be young, attractive Christian women who wore Western clothes and no veil…” A terrorist organization, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for Amaro’s sisters’ murder.
OVERT violence isn’t the only difficulty faced by Christians in areas under the Palestinian Authority. In recent weeks, Ramallah pastor Isa Bajalia, an American Christian of Arab descent, stated publicly that he has been threatened by a Palestinian Authority official, who demanded he pay $30,000 in protection money to ensure his safety. On November 11, Fox News reported, “Pastor Isa Bajalia is legally blind, yet he was also told by the official he would be crippled for life. The trouble started after church members held a prayer session for several Palestinians. Bajalia says he has been under surveillance and receiving threats.” Isa Bajalia has since fled Ramallah.
Among the compiled JCPA interviews of West Bank Christians are reports of extortion by Arab Muslims, demands for protection money, seized properties, vandalized homes and shops, widespread rape of Christian girls, honor killings, and murders of converts to Christianity from Islam.

There’s only one country in the entire Middle East where the Christian population increases year in and year out. Yes, you guessed it. Israel.

noahdavidsimon’s posterous