The Exodus: of Palestinian Christians

Israel Today describes the painful fate of Palestinian Christians and the unjust treatment they’re receiving at the hands of the Israeli government (because it is ultimately in control of the Palestinian territories) and their Muslim neighbors.

Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the city of Beit Jala — located on a hill adjacent to Bethlehem — still boasts a large number of worshippers. This fact makes the town unique among Palestinian towns, which have generally seen their Christian populations decline.

“People are leaving Palestine [sic] in droves. Jenin, Aboud, Nablus — these cities have lost much of their Christian population, some villages and towns have no more than two to three families,” said Peter, a 25-year-old resident of Bethlehem who agreed to be interviewed for this article on condition that his real name not be used.

Statistics show that more than 60 percent of the Arab Christians born in Palestinian areas over the past several generations now live abroad. Totaling some half a million people worldwide, 360,000 of them currently reside in dispersed communities in Canada, Chile, the United States, Germany, Australia and other countries. 154,000 remain in Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories, with about 35,000 living in the West Bank and less than 3,000 in the Gaza Strip.

And moreover

As experts look for different ways to explain the phenomenon, Peter has his own answer: “We enjoy religious freedom but I still feel like a second-class citizen,” he told Israel Today. “We are allowed to pray in churches and are given religious holidays but I’m constantly reminded of being a minority in a Muslim land,” he continued, referring to instances of discrimination against Christians.

“Christian women are very often harassed, insulted, or simply not given due respect only because they refuse to cover their hair,” he pointed out. “Muslims will not think twice to express their dissatisfaction with a Christian listening to religious recitations in his cab. Had Christians dared to do the same, massive wrath would surely follow,” Peter told us.

According to Peter, the problems for West Bank Christians started in 1993, the year the area was handed over from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. With the eruption of the Second Intifada in 2000, the situation deteriorated even further.

Most distressingly

But even after the uprising was over, Christians have reported numerous cases of illegal seizure of their property by Muslims from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank. Khaled Abu Toameh, a prominent Arab writer for the Jerusalem Post, reported in his article from June 2012 that the property-related complaints of West Bank Christians — filed with the Palestinian Authority, the Vatican, and European leaders — have fallen on deaf ears.

I suppose if there were Jews in New York whose property was being seized and they were being driven from their homes by Arabs the entire world would have heard about it.  Loudly.   But since it’s ‘just’ Christians who happen to be neither Jews nor Europeans, who cares, right?

What incredible injustice and inequity is practiced in the ‘Holy’ land.  It’s thoroughly disgusting.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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3 Responses to The Exodus: of Palestinian Christians

  1. Joe Zias says:

    Sad but true, when we lose this part of humanity, to whom we owe much, we lose a part of the soul of a nation. The question which remains is, why the silence from those Christian Zionists living abroad, is there a public stand for this dwindling community, a show of support ?


  2. Gabe Moskovitz says:

    The overwhelmingly Moslem majority of Palestinians are preparing for eventual Statehood and do not want their future State to contain infidels, whether Jews or Christians. Unfortunately, this mindset is both religious and cultural and, sadly, will not change.


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