The plight this Christmas of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories.

jin-december-24-2016-feature

Part of this article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished with permission by jewishinfoNews on December 24, 2016

Yet another wake-up call!

by Alan Simons

The Palestinian Information Center, so-called “Voice of Palestine to the World and the Voice of the World to Palestine,” as seen in the illustration above, directs its oppugnant Christmas message to the world. One would surmise, at this time of year, an honourable declaration of peace, compassion and goodwill to mankind that encompasses all that is good in Jesus Christ and Mary would be appropriate. Think again! At the time of writing this article, PICs website extends no hand in friendship and not even to its own Christian community in the West Bank and Gaza.

Within the Palestinian Territories the Christian population, comprising of a mere grain of sand compared to the overwhelming number of predominantly Sunni Muslims, only 1,100 Christians live in the Gaza Strip compared to 5,000 in 2006. And in the West Bank only 42,000 Christians remain. One wonders, with some dismay, what is to become of its Christians? Will history repeat itself as in Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt?

This morning, Khaled Abu Toameh, who is based in Jerusalem  and is one of the areas most respected journalists, in an article originally published by the Gatestone Institute, and republished below with permission by jewishinfoNews, had something to say about the plight of the Christian community in the Palestinian Territories. Irrespective of your religious faith, I urge you to read it now!

Palestinians: The Nightmare of Christians

  • For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s minuscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
  • He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack.
  • “The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I were in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here.” — Samir Qumsieh.
  • “I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. is my nightmare.” — Samir Qumsieh.

Without question, Samir Qumsieh is one of the most courageous Christian leaders in the Middle East. Qumsieh is one of the few willing to risk his life to speak out against Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the Middle East, generally.

For the past four decades, Samir Qumsieh, who hails from a large and well-respected Christian family in the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, has fought for the rights of the region’s miniscule Palestinian Christian minority. He has even dared to speak out against the subjugation of Christians living under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The plight of the Christians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a subject truly taboo. Yet Qumsieh perseveres – and pays the price. He regularly receives death threats, and he has been the target of a petrol bomb attack. Muslim extremists have also distributed leaflets in the Bethlehem area condemning him for his outspoken views and activities on behalf of persecuted Christians.

Samir Qumsieh.

However, the campaign of intimidation has not deterred Qumsieh from defending them.

In an exclusive interview with Gatestone Institute, the prominent Christian figure, who founded the private Nativity TV Station in Bet Sahour, accuses the Obama Administration of failing to combat ISIS and radical Islam. Qumsieh says he is convinced that President-elect Trump will “terminate” ISIS.

Qumsieh discloses that a “Muslim mafia” has been stealing Christian-owned lands in the Bethlehem area.

As a prominent Palestinian Christian figure in the living in the Middle East, how would you assess the Obama Administration’s role in the war on ISIS?

President Obama is the spiritual father of ISIS. His administration and he were never serious about fighting ISIS. This is what I firmly believe, and many facts confirm my thoughts. When Obama saw that this was about to be exposed, he finally acted, but in a weak manner. He put out a ransom against (ISIS leader) Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi and started telling us that he had bombed ISIS, and so on.

How do you explain Obama’s refusal to use the term radical Islam?

If you ask me, I will tell you the truth: I doubt that Obama is a Christian. Really, I doubt it. During his term, ISIS emerged, and the Christians have suffered heavily. Let me ask you a question. What is ISIS? Why is it that this mobilization of the whole world has not been able to eradicate them? Who can convince me? When America toppled Saddam Hussein, who had a very big and strong army, he collapsed. But when it comes to ISIS, how come they still exist?

Do you believe that President-elect Donald Trump will endorse a different stance toward ISIS?

Absolutely. Trump will obliterate ISIS. Had Hilary Clinton won, believe me ISIS would have continued and flourished. In my view, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the ‘father’ of ISIS, and Clinton is its ‘mother.’

I have a friend who is a painter. He paints portraits of presidents. He is a Muslim, by the way. We sent portraits to King Abdullah, to Mahmoud Abbas and the Pope. He painted a portrait of Obama in front of the Church of Nativity. He worked on it for two months and it cost a lot of money. When the portrait was presented to Obama through the US consul-general in Jerusalem, they did not bother to send a thank you letter to the painter, although I personally talked to the consulate about this. I told them, ‘Gentlemen, this is shameful, at least send a thank-you letter to this man.’ The consul-general at that time came to my office and took the portrait. Doesn’t the painter deserve at least a thank-you letter?

Are you saying that Obama has not done anything to help Christians in the Middle East?

Nothing at all. As I said, I think he was not serious about fighting ISIS, which has harmed the Christians very badly.

In your opinion, what is the best way to fight religious extremism?

I have always said that the solution to extremism is not through the military or security. The solution to extremism starts with the kindergarten, with elementary school. It begins with the churches, with the mosques and the school curricula. Curricula are very important – Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. They should concentrate on accepting the ‘other.’ If this idea is adopted, the future generation will be liberal and open-minded.

But isn’t the turmoil and violence in the Middle East the result of religious extremism?

The current conflict in the entire region is a religious and sectarian war. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are Sunni. They are against Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. So we are witnessing a religious and sectarian war. This is not only a conflict between Sunnis and Shias.

How do you feel as a Christian when you see what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, especially the recent bombing of a church in Egypt?

What is happening is extremely sad, especially the bombing of a church. I think the Egyptian authorities should act decisively. Every day we hear and see some radical Muslim clerics speaking strongly against Christians. Just recently, one of the sheiks was saying that Christian Copts should be slaughtered like sheep. Where is the Egyptian security? If I was in charge of Egyptian security, I would have this sheikh arrested immediately, and have him rot in a dark underground cell.

Are you aware of Palestinian Muslim clerics who also speak out against Christians?

Yes. This past Friday, one of the sheikhs at a mosque was speaking in a threatening way about Christians. He said that Muslim youths should not imitate Christian youths, and should not wish them well at Christmas. He also said that Muslims should not be doing business with Christians. The sheikh said some highly intimidating things about Christians.

Did the Christians protest against this incitement by the sheikh?

My cousin, who is a retired officer with the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Security Department, published something about the Friday sermon on Facebook. The following day he had to delete the post because it seems he received threats or something like that. When I told my cousin that I will talk with the Palestinian Authority attorney-general about it, he asked me not to talk to anyone. My cousin said, ‘Please don’t talk about this matter because we are 40 Christian families in that area (where the sheikh lives). It is clear to me that my cousin did receive threats, although he would not admit to it.

How would you describe relations between Christians and Muslims in the Bethlehem area?

Objectively speaking, there are millions of Muslims who are good people. I have many close Muslim friends whom I consider as my brothers. The problem is not Muslims. The real problem is radical Islam. In the Quran, there are various kinds of statements, and every Muslim, depending on his belief and attitude, selects what suits him. Some verses call for peace and describe Christians as the ‘People of the Book’ and good people. There are also verses that describe us as infidels and sinful folks. Everyone chooses what appeals to him. According to my humble knowledge, these verses are undated. I think that if they were dated, the fresh ones would supersede the old ones.

My understanding is that you have personally been the target of threats and violent attacks. Can you elaborate?

Yes, I have faced a great deal of harassment, and in 2006 I was even attacked with Molotov cocktails. Also, fliers that spoke against me have been distributed.

What is the main accusation against you? Why are some Muslims angry with you?

When I saw that there was encroachment on Christian-owned land here, I protested against it.

Is it true that Muslims have been illegally laying their hands on Christian property in Bethlehem?

We have a mafia here that is seizing Christian-owned lands. I protested against this Muslim mafia, and I even called a large gathering. I invited 80 people to my home. They included the elite of society – Muslims and Christians. They all joined my protest. That same night, fliers were distributed in Bethlehem threatening to kill me.

What has the Palestinian Authority done to help against you fight this mafia?

There are still many unresolved cases with regards to land encroachment. These cases are in the courts, but our judicial system is very slow. If you go to court, you have to wait 15-20 years. Recently, we have noticed that the encroachments decreased immensely because we have been talking to the Palestinian Authority and pressing them about the problem. Today, there are only a few cases like this taking place. We want all these cases to be solved.

Is there discrimination against Christians living under the Palestinian Authority?

One cannot say that there is official discrimination. President Abbas attends Christmas midnight mass, his prime minister attends the lighting of the Christmas tree. Still, I can simply say that among our people you will find some who harbor radical extremist thoughts. ISIS is a thought. There are Christians working in the Palestinian Authority, but not many. We have Christian mayors, and that is how it should be. Bethlehem, Bet Sahour and Bet Jala have Christian mayors, although some have been demanding that this be changed because Christians are a minority. Fortunately for us, the Palestinian Authority did not respond to these demands.

Do you believe that Christian leaders are doing enough to defend the interests of their people?

Frankly, I do not want the day to come when the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Nativity are turned into museums. Rather, I wish to seize this opportunity hope that it will encourage our leaders to tackle the problem and find a solution. Any Christian businessman who is interested in the general issue of Christians should come and invest here. We want them to build projects, including housing projects. We are also hoping that these projects will provide jobs for young Christians. The biggest problem we are facing is Christian emigration. Some Christians are helping, but this is being done on a very limited scale. But I cannot say that Christian patriarchates are doing their best. Some of them are far from the congregation and do not even care about us. We want wealthy Christians to come here and create project initiatives. It is not enough to say ‘I love the Christians and I care about them.’ This love should be demonstrated through deeds.

Are you worried about the growing number of Christians who are leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip?

Once, 5,000 Christians lived in the Gaza Strip. When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2006, Christians began to be harassed and discriminated against. Today, only 1,100 Christians live there. In the Bethlehem area, there are about 40,000 Christians. Altogether, there are about 42,000 Christians remaining in the West Bank. There are two reasons behind the dwindling figures. The first of these is the ongoing emigration, which is a nightmare for us; the second is the low birth rate among Christian families. To understand the severity of the situation is, let us recall that in the 1950s about 86% of the population of the Bethlehem area was Christian. Today, we are only 12%. In Israel, by contrast, we have 133,000 Christians and the figure is stable. Of course, I am worried about the future of Christians here. Looking at the facts on the ground, you can see that there is no future for the Christians here. We are melting; we are disappearing. I fear the day will come when our churches will become museums. That is my nightmare.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

A plague on Jihadism!

Publisher’s Comment

by Alan Simons

Gatestone Institute is an American non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank. In a recent statement sent to its subscribers, John Bolton, Chairman, Gatestone Institute and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations asks: “What is the response of the American and European leadership to our new reality? Denial, word games and silence. And verbal attacks on citizens who insist on talking openly about the threats we face. They call us “Islamophobic,” “xenophobic,” or “racist” to try to silence us.

He adds:

“… much of the Middle East is engulfed in civil wars and mass terrorism, as Iran expands its hegemonic reach into in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq — while continuing to build its nuclear weapons program.

The Christian population of the Middle East, there for 2,000 years, is being subjected to relentless persecution, mass-murder and forced conversion to Islam. Israelis being surrounded by ISIS. The response again of the U.S. and other Western governments: Silence.

We are at a turning point that requires a greater effort. We are at crisis that has grown directly out of the refusal of our leadership to face the nature of our problems and confront them forcefully.”

Many citizens in the West are faced with uncertainty. They see the growth of vicious evil Jihadist cults with no respect for the rules of war, the Geneva Convention, international humanitarian law and the likes. From North America, to Africa, to Europe and stretching through the Middle East to the Far East, the killing of children and adults by suicide bombers, by decapitation, by kidnapping and various other abhorrent methods and the lack of Western governments, as Bolton addresses, to cohesively work as one to rid us of this plague, does nothing to give us confidence in our leaders. Western governments are seen as becoming immobile, retreating into their shell at a time when the electorate want positive forceful action from them.  

However, it is not just Western governments who are amiss. Civil society organizations (CSOs) have also been silent. Their lack of leadership in this issue is reprehensible. How the IMF could produce a statement this past April that said, “Civil society organizations (CSOs) are now more vocal than in the past…  CSOs include business forums, faith-based associations, labor unions, local community groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), philanthropic foundations, and think tanks,” is beyond reason.

President Reagan, for all his economic policy failures, left the White House with the highest approval rating of any president since FDR. He once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” 

One might think our leaders would take heed in Reagan’s remark, instead of being seen as capitulating to Jihadism through their silence and inaction. 

Featured photo credit : aussiedlerbote.de (May 26, 2016)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”

 

 

The UN’s pathological obsession with Israel

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

The following article was originally published in French on April 15, 2016 by Causer.fr . No copyright infringement is intended.

UN: anti-Israel obsession

The UN Commission on the Status of Women is going after the Jewish state

by Oudy Ch. Bloch

Oudy Ch Bloch FThere is something pathetic and indecent in the pathological obsession with the UN to Israel. Especially in matters of women’s rights, other countries merit special attention, particularly in the Muslim world.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions against Israel against only three resolutions on the world namely, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Nothing on China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and all other progressive democracies.That’s how the United Nations level put Israel. It is grotesque but true.

And 2016 clearly does not bring big changes. In its latest report, the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations (CSW) has again managed the feat of condemning Israel, of course. Which, on reflection, is not really a feat since the same commission made a similar report last year.

The Jewish state is, this time, abused for its alleged violence against Palestinian women. For CSW indeed  “the Israeli occupation remains the main obstacle to the improvement of Palestinian women, to their promotion, to their empowerment and participation in the development of their society.”

Regrettably, the CSW did not hear the Palestinian activist Ahlam Akram who believes that the laws on the status of Arab women are “back to the stone age” and that Arab countries do virtually nothing to improve the status of women, because they are busy with “the great campaign against Israel.”

JIN woman lashed photo April 18 2016Regrettably, the CSW was not informed that, according to Islamic law widely applied by the Palestinian Authority (West Bank) and Hamas (in Gaza), women are discriminated against by the laws governing marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance and domestic violence, men and women do not have equal access to justice, women do not have the same value as witnesses in court.

Regrettably, the CSW did not take into account the Palestinian Center for Human Rights report which says that the recurrence of killings of women is due to the relative impunity “given to men at honor crimes” (murder of women by their own families for having extramarital relations) in an ultra-patriarchal society in which women are considered the property of his family which directs the social, sexual and professional.

Regrettably, the CSW will be not be interested in Hamas that forbids women to leave without being covered, participate in sporting events such as the marathon Gaza canceled by UNRWA in 2013 for that reason, to get on a motorcycle or cycling, hookah smoking in public, to participate in folk dances, which forces girls in schools and universities to wear the headscarf, forcing women to go out accompanied by male relatives … all in the name of a campaign of “Promotion of Virtue” reasons, according to Hamas officials by “the alarming increase of amoral behavior”.

Regrettably, the CSW does not consider this fact as an “obstacle to improving the status of Palestinian women, to their promotion, to their empowerment and participation in the development of their society.”

This is invariably the same. By voting this conviction, the CSW maintains the Palestinians in their illusion are never responsible for anything, especially not for themselves and allows them to use a forum for women’s rights as an anti-Israel forum .

There is, in this pathological obsession with Israel, something at once pathetic and indecent. Especially in matters of women’s rights, other countries deserve special attention.

Stoning of women Iran a

Nothing. Not one condemnation of the condition of women in Iran where:

– Women cannot travel, work or attend classes at the university without permission from their husbands;

– Women cannot judge, because – according to the mullahs – they do not possess intellectual faculties;

– The law permits a father to marry his adopted daughter from the age of 13 years.

Nothing about Saudi Arabia where:

– Women are considered legally a minor and therefore cannot go to the doctor, opening a bank account, travel, renew their passports without the permission of her guardian;

– The women has no right to drive;

Nothing on Sudan where:

– Sudanese journalist Lubna Ahmad Al-Hussein escaped at the point of death, sentenced to forty lashes for wearing fashionable trousers for women, prohibited by Article 152 of the Criminal Code;

Nothing on India where:

– In many villages, even today, girls are killed at birth, mainly because the marriage dowry is expensive;

– Domestic violence affects 65% of women;

– Widows are ostracized by society, abandoned and rejected because they would bear misfortune;

Nothing on Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Yemen and other countries where FGM is practiced. In half of the 29 countries that practice FGM, the majority of the girls suffered before the age of 5 years and in the vast majority of the remaining cases, 15 years. The goal is to prevent sexual desire and avoid premarital relations.

Nothing on countries where Sharia law is applied, the Sharia that permits polygamy but not polyandry, which forbids women to divorce but allows a man to divorce, which requires women – to prove it raped – the testimony of four men, allowing her husband to beat her, that makes a woman be inherently inferior to man (Sura 4:34).

Nothing on the manifest “Women and the Islamic State,” written by Daesh and precise in accordance with Sharia, that marriage of girls is permitted from the age of 9 years, that women’s education should limited to the prophet’s life, the history of Islam, Sharia but also the sewing and cooking, they are not supposed to work for not to leave their homes.

Nothing on the young Samra Kesinovic, the 17 year old Austrian who had run away from home in 2014 to wage jihad in Syria, was beaten to death with a hammer after being used as a sex slave for new fighters of Daesh.

The work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women is an insult to all women worldwide. Violence, humiliation and discrimination. The UN has lost credibility once more. 

The above article can be read in French at: http://www.causeur.fr/onu-lobsession-anti-israelienne-37778.html

Oudy Ch Bloch is a lawyer called to the Paris Bar in 2003 and the New York Bar in 2009. He is a Postgraduate in Business Law from Université Paris X-Nanterre and holds a J LL.M Law of Literary and Artistic Property (UCLA Los Angeles, USA)

(Photo credits: pinterest.com; sipa.com; impunitywatch.com)

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SEVENTY YEARS LATER -

OVER SEVENTY YEARS LATER – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” | “The more things change, the more they stay the same”