The view from my veranda

No room at the Inn – Christians in Bethlehem

Christmas is a time of joy and celebration for Christians around the world. The paradox is that for Christians in Bethlehem it is far from joyous – it is a life of fear and desperation.

22nd December 2009.

No room at the Inn?

Public disregard for the situation of Christians in the PA is a disgrace which has few equals. Not only have their numbers been slashed through emigration under threat of death, killing and kidnapping, their dead are then exhumed, posthumously indicted of defiling the holy Moslem ground of Gaza. No-one cares, no one helps.

The local clerics of all denominations, are afraid to make a noise or tend to their flock for fear of retribution and as a result their flock is being killed off, one by one and two by two, by the marauding wolves. The clerics also maintain their delusions of denominational superiority rather than present a united Christian front. You may think that I am exaggerating and falling into rhetoric but I am not. Life for Christians in the Palestinian Authority (to say nothing of the persecution of Kopts in Egypt) has become a living hell, never knowing if one will wake up the next morning, if ones sons are dead or ones daughter has been kidnapped and married to a Moslem man to produce Moslem children and all attempts to rescue her could end in her murder.

P. is in a deep depression. He is trying his best to send his children to university so that they can find a way out of this living hell. He knows that he is in a smaller and smaller minority and no-one cares enough to reach out a helping hand. His formerly Christian home town is now about 85-90% Moslem and they make the few Christians who still live there into outcasts.

Most of the Christians of this town love Israel and would move here in a flash but they have the misfortune of being born in Jordan even though their home town is in close proximity to Jerusalem which frustrates them even more since they cannot escape.

What is their home town I hear you ask. The name of that town means House of Bread – Beit Lechem – or as you know it Bethlehem.

Bethlehem’s Christians are dying out, being killed and shunned, physically and actually and no one seems to care. Not one major politician is willing to stand up and talk about it; not one diplomat is willing to make an international issue about it; not one representative to the United Nations has raised it; not one of the supposedly humanitarian organisations has offered help; incredibly none of the leaders of any of the church denominations has reached out; apparently, even now, as we enter the Christmas season there is no room at the Inn.

For the story of the Christians of the Palestinian Authority to reach the light of day we, each and every one of us must shout and yell and scream and demand until something is done by our leaders and representatives. We must be the brave and unafraid because our leaders spend too much of their PC time kow-towing to bullies.

Why does the media ignore the facts? I have a theory which seems to explain this deliberate shunning of the biggest scoop of such huge proportions. Until now the boundaries of this conflict have been clear – Israel is the evil occupier and the Palestinians are the underdogs. Good and bad – black and white – good and evil, a simplification of a complex situation satisfied everyone and the scapegoat was clearly defined. If Israel is not the “bad guy” then that would entail an entire rethink admitting that their self-created court of public opinion has indicted the wrong “criminal”.

Only by constant lobbying can we take off the public blinkers and change the judgement. Neither the Christians of the Palestinian Authority nor the State of Israel deserve to be on death row because of public ignorance or diplomatic convenience. The first steps along the green mile are already here.

It is Christmas, a time of joy and thanksgiving, a time to celebrate the birth of a Baby Boy who changed the world. I have a feeling that if we don’t do something soon our leaders will throw out The Baby with the bathwater.