Bethlehem Today Under Islamic Rule

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Selling cotton candy near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Selling cotton candy near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The persecution of Christians in the Middle East is whitewashed by US newspapers. The NY Times has an article up today that claims this year is muted thanks to violence between Israelis and Palestinians. That leaves out a whole lot of information.

They wrote.

“…this year, violence and upheaval have overwhelmed the holiday season, making it difficult to offer public expressions of cheer across the West Bank. The Rev. Simon Hijazeen of St. Justin’s Latin Church in Nablus did not decorate his church and parish home in colorful lights this year. It was clear why: His neighbor’s daughter, Maram Hasouna, 19, was killed trying to stab Israeli soldiers. Her family members hung a large banner with her picture from their apartment building, just down the street from the church. “They are our neighbors and we are sympathetic to their grief,” Father Hijazeen said.”

In 2002, Palestinian-Muslim terrorists took over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

“More than 100 Palestinian gunmen…[including] soldiers and policemen, entered the Church of the Nativity on Tuesday [2002], as Israeli troops swept into Bethlehem in an attempt to quell violence by Palestinian suicide bombers and militias.” The actual number of terrorists was between 150 and 180, among them prominent members of the Fatah Tanzim. As the New York Times put it, “Palestinian gunmen have frequently used the area around the church as a refuge, with the expectation that Israel would try to avoid fighting near the shrine”.

The destruction of churches is a rife in Muslim countries and it’s hardly exclusive to ISIS. Bethlehem is being excised of all Christians.

Gabriel Naddaf, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, wrote on his Facebook page in September:

“I call to strongly condemn the burning of the holy Church ‘St. Charbel’ burned tonight in Bethlehem by Palestinian extremists. I condemn in the strongest terms the powerlessness of the Palestinian Authority in maintaining the holy places of Christians in Palestinian territories. I call PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to handle the hazardous events seriously and with severity instead of preaching morality to Israel.”

Abbas did no such thing, according to one report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page:

“I am proud that the Christian community in Israel has grown each year. Unfortunately, across the Middle East, that trend happens only in Israel. In many other parts of our region, the Christian community is persecuted and attacked. Even in the territories of the Palestinian Authority, including Bethlehem, the cradle of Christianity, the Christian community is shrinking every year.”

It’s not just this year that there has been a problem in Bethlehem, it’s every year and it’s not just an annual occurrence or simply their war with Israel causing the problem as the Times would have you believe.

There are many wonderful Muslims who celebrate Christianity such as the Imam of the Mosque of Omar.

“The Mosque of Omar has shared Manger Square with the Church of the Nativity,” Rick Steves wrote. “Jesus and Mary are both a big deal for Muslims. I had a joyous interview with an imam after filming a prayer service in his mosque. The imam of the Mosque explained, “Bethlehem is holy for Muslims as well as Christians. For Muslims, Jesus is a major prophet. We also revere Mother Mary. In fact, an entire chapter in the Quran is named for her.” We sat cross-legged on the carpet of his mosque for an interview. I asked him to let me hear how he talks to God (but in English) and his prayer literally brought me to tears. As we hugged, I could feel the pull of Islam.”

Tourism to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is way down. There is a dark side and it outweighs the positive.

The Muslim Fatah-controlled authority in Judea and Samaria has encouraged a “sharp demographic shift” in Bethlehem, according to International human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner, who teaches at Hebrew University.

Since 2000, the 40% population of Christians in Bethlehem has gone down to 10%.

In 1960, 90% of the Bethlehem residents were Christians, today it’s a mere 150,000 people. Many left homes their families owned for generations. Christian churches and cemeteries have been attacked and Christian-owned businesses have been defaced.

Christians face harassment, are threatened and shot at if they walk through the streets, most are afraid to wear crosses. People have been murdered for inviting non-Christian children to a fabrication Bible School. The First Baptist Church of Bethlehem was fire-bombed 14 times.

There are many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion.

“PA officials are directly responsible for many of the attacks, and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered,” by the religion of peace adherents, according to one expert.

Muslims in Judea and Samaria murder Christians, torture them and abduct their women with the connivance of the PA’s secret police.

PA officials are directly responsible for many of the attacks, and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered.

As people with “dhimmi” status, Christians living in Palestinian-controlled territories are not treated as the equals of Muslims. “They are subjected to debilitating legal, political, cultural, and religious restrictions.”

This has become a critical problem for the Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza. Muslim groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have built a culture of hatred upon the age-old foundations of Islamic society. Moreover, the PA has adopted Islamic law into its draft constitution,” Arutz Sheva reported in 2008.

“The case of Bethlehem in the Palestinian Authority illustrates clearly the failure of western Christians to stand up for the rights of Christians in the Islamic world and the third world,” Mark Humphreys of CBN News wrote.

Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus, is now under Islamic terrorist rule. And Christians in the West don’t care.”

I can’t completely agree with Mr. Humphreys. Christians in the west don’t really know–the papers just keep blaming Jews and don’t tell the truth. Obama doesn’t care, of that we can be certain.

The Palestinians say it is the result of nearly 50 years of military occupation but it doesn’t explain Muslim persecution of Christians which is a daily, ongoing problem westerners are not told. We are told Muslims and Christians celebrate Christmas joyfully.

There is no doubt there is violence between Palestinians and Jews in Bethlehem. Last year, the Jews put up a wall to keep the suicide bombers out and it has hurt business in Bethlehem.

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Pastor Naim Khoury pictured above  has been shot four times and not by Jews. He is pastor of the last Evangelical church in Bethlehem.

Khoury has seen what he regards miraculous conversions within his immediate family. He prayed for his family members, and his mother came to share his faith after seven years. His converts eventually included his brother George, who became a Christian after Naim had prayed for him for 27 years. George became active in ministry himself, serving in Jerusalem. George was martyred several years ago for his faith in Jesus Christ, when Muslims murdered him on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem. “The Lord called him home,” Khoury explained.

The Christians in Bethlehem are kept in extreme poverty and receive help from Americans towards their survival.

Watch this brief video and read more on this link about who is causing the Christians problems.

There is a long history of hatred.

An English traveler in the Holy Land in 1816, remarked that Christians were not permitted to ride on horseback without express permission from the Muslim Pasha.

Other European travelers to the Holy Land mentioned the practice whereby “a dhimmi must not come face to face with a Muslim in the street but pass him to the left, the impure side,” and described how Christians were humiliated and insulted in the streets of Jerusalem until the mid-1800s. The British consul in Jerusalem wrote that in the Holy Land, particularly in Jerusalem until 1839, Christians were pushed into the gutter by any Muslim who would swear: “turn to my left, thou dog.” They were forbidden to ride on a mount in town or to wear bright clothes.

From 1953 until 1967, Jordan undertook to Islamize the Christian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem by laws forbidding Christians to buy land and houses….It ordered the compulsory closure of schools on Muslim holidays and authorized mosques to be built near churches, thus preventing any possibility of enlargement.

The current Christian reality in many Middle Eastern countries is also difficult. In Egypt, “Muslim, but not Christian, schools receive state funding….It is nearly impossible to restore or build new churches….Christians are frequently ostracized or insulted in public, and laws prohibit Muslim conversions to Christianity….Islamic radicals have frequently launched physical attacks on [Christian] Copts.”

Islam is the official religion of the Palestinian Authority. In addition, fundamentalist Hamas and Islamic Jihad have promoted Islamic influence on Palestinian society.

Officially, the PA claims to treat Palestinian Christians equally and pointedly seeks to display this publicly. Christmas is an official holiday. Arafat has stated as his mission “the protection of the Christian and Muslim holy places,”19 and several Christians have held prominent PA positions.

However, contrary messages slip through. In a Friday sermon on October 13, 2000, broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television from a Gaza mosque, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya proclaimed: “Allah the almighty has called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them, not to become their partners, not to support them, and not to sign agreements with them.”

In addition, no PA law protects religious freedom. Christians don’t have protection over their lands

There is no life for Christians in the cradle of Christianity and soon, the 150,000 still in Bethlehem will be forced to leave their homes.

We are watching the complete destruction of Christianity while Obama won’t even mention it and the newspapers lie about what is really going on.

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