Kairos Palestine, a group of Palestinian Christians, denounces Michael
Oren's recent op-ed "Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians,"
published in The Wall Street Journal.
In this inaccurate and
manipulative text, Oren, Israel's ambassador to the US, blames the
plight of Palestinian Christians on oppression at the hands of
Palestinian Muslims -- rather than at the hands of the illegal Israeli
occupation itself, as is our reality.
We add our voices to
several other responses that have emphasized this reality and the ways
in which Oren's op-ed attempts to mask it. Indeed, contrary to his
assertions, Christian persecution is caused mainly by the occupation
that systematically degrades all Palestinians, restricts our movement,
confiscates our land, devastates our economy, and violates our rights --
including the very basic right to a decent life.
particularly troubled by Oren's attribution of migration within the
Palestinian Christian community to ill-treatment by Palestinian Muslims.
This damaging analysis willfully ignores the underlying political
oppression that afflicts Christians and Muslims alike.
case of Bethlehem, for instance, it is in fact the rampant construction
of Israeli settlements, the choke-hold imposed by the separation wall,
and the Israeli government's confiscation of Palestinian land -- largely
Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area -- that has driven many
Christians to leave. At present, a mere 13 percent of Bethlehem-area
land is left to its Palestinian inhabitants.
Oren’s article also
reveals a disturbing conception of democracy itself, especially as he
insists on emphasizing Israel's democratic character. In attempting to
highlight ways in which Israel supposedly seeks to protect the survival
and encourage the prosperity of the Christian community, Oren implies
the Israeli state's lack of interest in ensuring the same for Muslims.
is not selective. Any democratic state that bothered to implement its
own ideals -- and, moreover, any ambassador to such a state -- would be
ashamed of such an evidently distorted attitude toward its inhabitants
and their rights.
We are equally amazed by Oren's ludicrous boast
that Israel, "in spite of its need to safeguard its borders from
terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem's churches to
Christians." Indeed, one of occupation's chief outrages is the fact that
anyone would need a permit to visit the city to begin with: restricted
freedom of movement is among the fundamental injustices constricting our
lives. Furthermore, permits are not granted to everyone (including on
religious holidays); even when granted, the Israeli military may void
them at any time.
We also question the timing of Oren’s article
and its dogged attempt to portray the state of Israel as tolerant of
Christians -- an assertion whose fallacy we experience on a daily basis.
Oren begins his text with a description of Hamas graffiti on
the walls of a Bethlehem church in 1994. But he certainly doesn’t
mention the Hebrew graffiti ("death to Christians," "Jesus is dead," and
"price tag,") sprayed on the walls of churches in Jerusalem just a few
days ago, and again last month.
The writing, so to speak, is on
the wall, and it will take much more than Oren's whitewashing to mask
the hostility to which Palestinian Christians -- and all Palestinians --
are subjected in the contemporary reality of occupation.
every level, Oren's finger-pointing must be analyzed with an eye to the
root causes he refuses to expose. For one thing, when he mentions the
Church of the Nativity being inhabited and looted by gunmen, he neglects
to mention the Israeli tanks shooting at the church from the outside.
another, while he goes on about present-day religious tension, he
neglects to say that Christians and Muslims lived together for the past
1,500 years without major problems -- and that, upon the creation of the
state of Israel in 1948, we lost more than 100,000 Christians virtually
And the strongest, deepest roots of all -- the roots
of empire and colonialism? These, too, go unacknowledged. The US
invasion of Iraq, for instance, has done graver damage to
Christian-Muslim relations across the world than anything that appears
in Oren's article.
As Kairos Palestine, we refuse to be
marginalized in the way Oren defines our marginalization. We refuse to
be pitted against our Palestinian Muslim neighbors and friends. And we
refuse to let our collective oppression be manipulated in a way that
fragments us, obscures us, or masks the oppression's true cause, which
is the Israeli occupation.
Kairos Palestine is a group of
Palestinian Christian leaders who co-authored the document "A Moment of
Truth" to galvanize Christian communities around the world to end the
In: Other Middle East
Tags: Israel, liars, Jews, Christians, mistreatment, propaganda, Kairos, Palestinian, Christians
Location: Israel (load item map)
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