Saturday, January 06, 2007

Christians in Palestine

The Christian religion was (quite literally) born in Palestine. This is extremely important both for the cultural identity and economy of the country, but persecution by the Zionists has led many Christians to leave for other lands. Famous Palestinians of Christian descent include Edward Said and George Habash.

Religious tourism, especially to East Jerusalem and Bethlehem is vital for the Palestinian economy, not only for hotels and restaurants, but also for the sale of handicraft religious souvenirs (the picture shows olive wood crosses being made in a small factory in Bethlehem)

The call by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for Anglicans to visit Bethlehem should be widely publicised, both for the economic benefit, but also so that Christians can bear witness to the destruction of Christian communities by the Israeli occupation. The British Foreign office acts as a firm friend of Zionism by continuing to advise against travel to the West Bank, despite the fact that tourism to Palestine is safer than visiting Florida. The Foreign office advice often includes details of alleged security concerns that are several months out of date. The practical impact is that most travel insurance policies always exclude travel to areas where a foreign office caution is in place, which severely deters many travellers. (Write to your MP about this!)

Of the 136000 people who live in the Bethlehem district, only about 45% are Christians today. Largely the churches are silent about the systematic destruction of Christian life by the Zionists. The following picture was taken from Shepherds Field, where Christians believe the Archangel Gabriel visited the Shepherds to tell them of the birth of the Lord. In the foreground is a housing project run by the Greek Orthodox church for their congregation. Behind on the hilltop is the wholely illegal Jewish camp of Har Homa.

Currently the wall (here a fence) runs between the two housing developments. But the Zionists have decided to extend the wall and demolish the Christian community, on “security” grounds. Of course no compensation will be given by the Israelis to the Christians made homeless. The community will drift apart, the children will be traumatised, and the cultural diversity of the Bethlehem area will be further diminished.

At the near end of the Christian housing is a green area where the Orthodox Church are building a church, if the extension of the wall goes ahead this will be the first Christian place of worship destroyed by the Zionists in the West Bank, although they have already made Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem an exclusively Jewish place of worship (it is sacred also to Christians and Moslems), and in 1998 demolished the dome and vestibule. (The dome of the mosque was originally financed by an English Jew, Sir Moses Montefiore in 1841, pointing to a time before Zionssm when the religious communities lived in harmony)

Rachel’s Tomb has been effectiveley annexed to Israel by building a bizarre special corridor of 8 metre high wall linking it to Jerusalem, although it is actually in Bethlehem. The Jews have also blocked Moslems from visiting half of the Tomb of the Patriarchs mosque in Hebron, which they have converted to a synagogue to serve the 300 or so ultra-orthodox fanatics who live in the Old City.

It is time for the Christian churches to come off the fence and condemn Zionism.


Joe said...

Some of us are already off the fence!

There is more to Palestinian industry than tourism and olive wood. We import clothing from the Bethlehem area and sell it in the UK.

See here:

a very public sociologist said...

Excellent post Andy. This deserves wide circulation on the numerous Christian blogs out there. Perhaps any who frequent this site could do the business?

Louisefeminista said...

Good and useful post.

On a separate but connected issue is what's happening with the water (as well as land) supplies. Water being this precious commodity appropriated by the powerful and Israel refuses to let the Palestinians sink boreholes in the West Bank by saying their water is over used.

Israeli settlers have luxuries such as swimming pools and sprinklers for their lawns while Palestinians go thirty. And many Palestinians are too poor to buy water.

Dani said...

Perhaps you have forgotten that there isn't any such "people" as "Palestinians" - except for it is the Jewish people!
You are stealing Jewish land and that is the entire story.
Cut it out!
By the way, you need help spelling.

Dani said...

Look, the "PLO" = Nazis. Face it.
IF you want to learn the real story, go visit this site:
Historical and Investigative Research - 6 January 2007
by Francisco Gil-White
PLO murders US diplomats; US State Department protects...the PLO!

Just a few days ago, on 1 January 2007, Caroline Glick published an article in the Jerusalem Post that reports on a just-released US State Department cable from 33 years ago which demonstrates that the US State Department -- the organ officially responsible for determining US foreign policy -- knew that Yasser Arafat’s (now Mahmoud Abbas’s) Al Fatah, the controlling core of the PLO, was behind the deaths of US diplomats in Khartoum in the same year of 1973. And yet the State Department covered it up in order to protect the PLO.

AN said...

Hi Joe, Ii certinaly didn't mean to criticise those very many Christians who activelky support the palestinians - it was the institutional churches I was saying should speak out more.
You are also correct that clothing and other handicraft embroidery are an imprtant export.

AN said...


When you say that there is no such people as the Palestinians, that is clearly a position informed by extreme racism.

The original population of palestine, before the wave of Zionist immigration are Palestinians.

Joe said...

AN - we export factory - rather than handicraft-made - clothing from Palestine. We particularly sell t-shirts, hoodies, jumpers etc. But I also visited factories making shoes, socks, underwear, nightclothing etc.

These are the factories that really need support as often tens of families depend on them.

AN said...

That is interesting Joe.

I will publicise this more widely among my friends, and see if we can drum up some business for you.