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Who will speak up for Palestinian Christians?
Palestinian Christians live in constant fear according to this rare article about their plight in Gaza. And no, it's not fear of the Israelis.
Here with an item from last week's news that you might not have heard about: Unidentified gunmen blew up the YMCA library in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning. While no one was hurt, two guards were temporarily kidnapped while the offices were looted, a vehicle stolen and all 8,000 books destroyed. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, although Fatah accused Hamas of being behind it. Hamas, for its part, strongly denied any responsibility and condemned the attack. Meanwhile, confidential sources in Gaza told the Jerusalem Post that the attack was in response to the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers last week.
The supposed motivation for the attack, and the fact that it was not big news, illustrates the dire situation faced by many Christians living in the Palestinian territories.
So where are all the protests by Church leaders, Christian Aid, Caritas, Christian Peacemakers, etc? Admittedly, they might hear little about this problem, because of absence of freedom of the press in Gaza, and control of information for propaganda purposes by Hamas. But surely they have some awareness of it - could it be that they don't really care?
Even if the reporters came, what would they be told? It is well known that Christian Palestinians who have been subject to firebombings, seizures of homes and businesses, assaults and death threats still tell foreign visitors that they have excellent relations with their Muslim neighbours. After the foreigners go home, these Christians must remain, and are loath to give any reason for jihadist extremists to think that they are stirring up trouble.
Occasionally, though, the truth is told in articles like this one, but they make little impact. The usual protesters about the defence barrier and the inconvenience it causes to Palestinians (mostly Muslim) in the West Bank, seem to take little notice. Which is why some of us suspect that prejudice underlies their behaviour. They seem so willing to condemn the Jewish state for any problems it might cause its largely Muslim neighbours, and unwilling to speak up for fellow Christians suffering oppression by those same Muslims. As for the Christian Arabs, apparently largely abandoned by Christian organisations which seem to take little interest in their plight:
It is an awful way to live. It is more awful still that so few know, or care about it.
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