Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Eye-witness in Gaza, The Christian pogrom in Bethlehem and other matters

Blogger Ray Cook has written an absolutely stunning two-part series about British journalist Peter Hitchens’s recent visit to the Disputed Territories, which begins: “I’m not a great fan of Peter Hitchens but he has provided what is probably the most balanced view of the realities of life in Gaza.” Both parts are must-reads.

Part One, which is replete with Ray’s satirical asides, can be accessed here: http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2010/11/18/eye-witness-in-gaza/


Below I give the beginning of Part Two – a most important and illuminating post which in its entirety should be required reading for Methodists and others who seek to apply BDS to the little Jewish State. I recommend it, too, to those Christians and "peace activists" who are planning, this Christmas, to sing the carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem" with Dr Stephen Leah's "alternative" lyrics that demonise Israel and the IDF.

Yesterday I wrote in (mostly) praise of Peter Hitchen’s recent MailOnline article about his visit to Gaza and the West Bank.

I covered his Gaza experiences but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.

Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:

once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things

‘Wreckage’? Not sure what he means here. The last war here was 37 years ago. Many Arab towns in the West Bank look like anywhere else in the Middle East. Presumably this is a psychological wreckage in terms of almost 40 years of direct conflict with Israel.

At least we see civil society beginning to form, and about time too.

Hitchens is quick to see the plight of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule:

I feel all of us should be aware of … the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’

Ah! Interesting.

One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’ Substitute ‘lonely’ with ‘hounded’ and persecuted’.

It appears it isn’t just Jews some Muslims are uncomfortable with. Whilst denying any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, they now want to end 2,000 years of continuous Christian presence in the West Bank it appears. Will it be that a future Palestine is not just judenrein but christenrein as well.

This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.

I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.

I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.

There is no unsubstantial Christian presence in Bethlehem, as you might imagine. Hitchens tells us that it’s about 30,000 in the area but between 2001 and 2004 2,000 emigrated and if we assume that this migration will continue there may be no Christians at all in 10 to 15 years.

Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

Spot on, my man. This guy isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

Let’s digress here and look at the evidence for Christian persecution over many years. Let’s start with the Methodists current policy of a boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank and their reason for it.

On their Conference website the most salient point for me is this:

The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.

I’m not going to get into the argument that the settlements are or are not illegal, what strikes me is ‘a call from a group of Palestinian Christians’. The fact that there are Israeli groups which favour boycotts is none of the Methodists business, but the Christians are.

Yet the Methodists are fixated on what Jews are purported to be doing to Christians but makes no equivalent criticism or boycott of many egregious Muslim activities where Christians are being murdered or expelled or persecuted.

Read the rest here: http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2010/11/19/eye-witness-in-gaza-2-the-christian-pogrom-in-bethlehem-and-other-matters/

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