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Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in Gaza - not where you want to be

Al-AP has a report on Christmas in Gaza that makes the situation sound quite bleak. Although the 'Palestinian' writer makes a couple of plugs for blaming Israel, I think it's clear from the article that it's fear of Islamist violence that is making people leave and not the 'blockade.' There are two things that puzzle me about this.

First, the people who are leaving seem to be aiming to go to the 'West Bank' Judea and Samaria. In fact, Bethlehem is specifically mentioned. Given what I have reported previously on this blog about Christian life in Judea and Samaria, if I were a 'Palestinian' Christian, I'd be looking to get out of this area altogether. Surely there must some country in the West to which they can emigrate.

Second, the silence of nearly all the churches about what's happening to Christians in Gaza and throughout the Arab world is incomprehensible. It seems to me that Christians could use the equivalent of a Bergson Group and instead are getting the likes of Rabbi Steven Wise and Nachum Goldman (see the story at the same link).
At the Baptist Church on Sunday, just 10 people attended the regular weekly prayer service, down from an average of 70. There was no Christmas tree in sight.

Farah said the church's full-time pastor, along with his family and 12 employees of Ayyad's store, have relocated to the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas heads a pro-Western government. Farah said he prayed for forgiveness and love among Muslims and Christians.

Community leaders say an unprecedented number of Christian families are already migrating from Gaza — rattled by the religious tensions and tough economic sanctions Israel imposed on the area after the Hamas takeover.

While no official statistics were available, the signs of the flight are evident. Rev. Manuel Musallem, head of Gaza's Roman Catholic church, said he alone knows of seven families that sold their properties and left the area, and 15 more are preparing to do the same.

Musallem blamed Israeli sanctions and excessive violence in Gaza for the flight.

"In previous years we didn't see this rate of migration," Musallem said. "Now, exit is not on individual basis. Whole families are leaving, selling their cars, homes and all their properties."

The signs of despair are evident at Ayyad's home. Posters declaring him a "martyr of Jesus" hang on the walls. There is no Christmas tree this year.

Ayyad's older brother, 35-year old Ibrahim, said his 6-year old son, Khedr, was nagged in school about his uncle's murder. Muslim schoolmates call him "infidel."

Ayyad's wife, Pauline, 29, left for Bethlehem a month ago with her two children. She said their 3-year-old son, George, has been shattered by his father's death.

"I tell him Papa Noel (Santa Claus) is coming to see you, and he tells me he wants Papa Rami," she said tearfully during a telephone interview.

Pauline, who is seven months pregnant, said she plans to come back to Gaza for the birth.

But many Christians privately said they would use their travel permits to leave Gaza for good, even if that means remaining in the West Bank as illegal residents. Israeli security officials said they were permitting 400 Gaza Christians to travel through Israel to Bethlehem for Christmas.

A family of four, refusing to be identified for fear their permits would be revoked, have sold their house and car and packed their bags. The wife has transferred her job to the West Bank and enrolled her son and daughter in school there. "We fear what is to come," said the husband.

Fouad, a distant relative of Ayyad, said he also is packing up. He said his father, a guard at a local church, was stopped recently by unknown bearded men who put a gun to his head before he was rescued by passers-by.

"We don't know why it happened," the 20-year-old police officer said. "We can't be sure how they (Muslims) think anymore."

Those who are staying are trying to limit the risks. Nazek Surri, a Roman Catholic, walked out from Sunday's service with a Muslim-style scarf covering her head.

"We have to respect the atmosphere we are living in. We have to go with the trend," she said.
Does anyone care?


At 4:33 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

Did you see today's Wall Street Journal... blaming Israel for the exodus of Christian Arabs from Bethlehem?

I sent them a nasty letter back.

Here is the article


Here is the comment I sent in

Is there anything that occurs in the Palestinian areas that the Palestinians themselves are responsible for creating?

The Palestinians had to act very determinedly to get to the situation of utter poverty and isolation that they are now.

The writer laments that the razor wire and snipers are driving out the Christian Arabs. Well.. his not being there since 2000 shows. The Muslim Arabs are driving out the Christian Arabs... the same process that is unfolding in Arab/Muslim country after country.. there is nothing unique about the Dhimmi purge in Bethlehem.

One would think after all these years that the smart men who are in our media, universities and government would stop and reflect why none of their plans or predictions or advice for the Middle East ever seem to come to a happy conclusion.

Often I am dismayed at how stuck in their mindset the Media is.

If I can see the obvious problem and I don't get paid to think about these sorts of things, why can't the gatekeepers of our information?

The problem is this: The Palestinians are the vanguard of the 3rd Jihad of Islam against the West. There will never peace until the Jihad is abandoned.

The solution? War. And no stopping until victory.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

The problem with truth-telling is exacerbated by the Christians' fear itself. This is true in Bethlehem, too. I read Cybercast News Service, originally called the Conservative News Service. They try very hard to be even-handed on this stuff. They interviewed the mayor of Bethlehem and such, but all they could say to balance the vague talk of "unemployment" and "low tourism" was that "some sources say" that Muslim persecution is the problem but that "residents are reluctant to admit this publically." The story didn't blame the Israelis, but it didn't really tell the whole story, either, because evidently they couldn't find anyone to talk. In the Gaza story we see some of the same thing--the woman wearing a Muslim headscarf out of a Christian service. The Christians are becoming, if they weren't already, dhimmified. And in Israel and surrounding areas, part of being dhimmified is that if you are an Arab, _Christian, too_, you agree with the Muslim story and blame Israel for all your woes. If they won't speak up about the true cause of their problems, it's hard to get the word out to the world. Which is easy for me to say, as I and my children are not going to be murdered for telling the truth about our persecutors. But still.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...

Whats even worse is that this aggression against the Christians isn't even new and is entirely predictible.

Here's a broadcast that Brigette Gabriel did back in the 1980's about this very thing

Part 1

Part 2

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I blogged that article elsewhere on this site.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah! Chanukah in Gaza was no better.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Karridine said...

The very word 'religio' MEANS 're-unite', as the Faith of God unites the creature with The Creator, unites the creature with fellow creatures, and re-unites the creature with itself.

Christianity hasn't been able to unite itself for several hundred years now, and has over 400 recognized 'branches' in America alone. No wonder people see churchianity as hollow, hypocritical and good only for "us", we members of OUR congregation...

Why should WE do anything about 'those Ay-rab "Christians"?'

At 12:18 AM, Blogger VinceP1974 said...


c.1200, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-Fr. religiun (11c.), from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods," in L.L. "monastic life" (5c.); according to Cicero, derived from relegare "go through again, read again," from re- "again" + legere "read" (see lecture). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens. Meaning "particular system of faith" is recorded from c.1300.
"The equal toleration of all religions ... is the same thing as atheism." [Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, 1885]
Modern sense of "recognition of, obedience to, and worship of a higher, unseen power" is from 1535. Religious is first recorded c.1225. Transfered sense of "scrupulous, exact" is recorded from 1599.


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