Nearly 100 Palestinian terrorists in April 2002 holed up inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem while fleeing a massive Israeli anti-terror operation. One of Christianity’s most sacred sites, the church is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus.
So Jesus lived in occupied territory?(RSN).By Jan Markell.
A terrible tragedy will take place March 5-9 in the holy city of Bethlehem. Our Lord’s city of birth will host a conference called, “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Which Christ? Not the Christ of the Bible. The premise of the event is that the Palestinians live under brutal Israeli “occupation.” It is supposedly so bad that Israel is accused of apartheid-like treatment of the Palestinians such as the “separation” experienced in South Africa. The symbol for all of this is the wall of separation between Palestinian territories and Israeli land. Their perception is that this represents a military checkpoint. Israel’s perception — and reality — is that the wall saves Israeli lives.
Some 30 Christian leaders will be gathering at the Bethlehem Bible College to raise the banner of “Palestinian Liberation Theology” as the only true hope for reconciliation and peace in the Middle East. The target of the speakers will also be Israel’s divine right to the land.“Christian Zionism” will be “brought into the conversation” during the conference–but you can bet not in a friendly manner. No matter how benign Christian Zionism is, the Left side of Christianity’s aisle believes we look forward to Armageddon and we blindly root for the Israelis because they’re the chief players on the end-time stage and feel Israel has a right to their land. If the truth were known, we’re a puny band of evangelical Christians who are even outcasts in most of the major denominations today.
Christian Zionists are roundly scolded by this crowd. You can read that here. Our biggest problem is that we take the Bible literally! When did that almost become a crime? “Checkpoint” folks say we Christian Zionists support the “occupation” but it isn’t an occupation! We rejoice that on May 14, 1948, God just kept His word. Tony Campolo scolds us, too. We’re blind followers of Schofield and Darby and we need to get over it."
Christ at the Checkpoint" says Christian Zionism is a political movement that is "ethnocentric," privileging one people at the expense of others. Christianity calls believers in Jesus to focus on building God's kingdom on earth, says Checkpoint publicity, and not futuristic speculations. It is tragic how this bunch sweeps under the rug God's continued covenant with Israel. These folks have no appreciation of the "last days" spoken of so frequently in the Bible. "Christ at the Checkpoint" theologians do not want to consider Jesus as the Messiah of the Jewish people, someday returning to earth to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem to rule as the last Davidic King. Then they would have to acknowledge the continuance of the Abrahamic covenant with the modern state of Israel.
"Palestinian Liberation Theology" is heralded, however. It is all about the Palestinian struggle for "freedom" from their "occupied land." Followers of this sentiment see the Israelis as an "occupier" trying to oppress the Palestinians. Reality shows that Israel has worked them into their society, given them seats in the Israeli parliament, and given them a decent standard of living. Israel gave the Palestinians so much freedom that they let them elect the terror group Hamas to govern them. As a thank you, Hamas shells Israeli towns and settlements regularly. This conference will tell the world -- and the church -- that Israel brings this on due to their repression.
Many of the participants are part of the "religious Left" but some evangelicals show up yearly, including Lynne Hybels, wife of Willow Creek's Pastor Bill Hybels. We believe she should know better. Read the full story here.
Related - The beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian - controlled Areas.By David Raab.
The Christian community in the areas administered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) is a small but symbolically important one. About 35,000 Christians live in the West Bank and 3,000 in Gaza,1 representing about 1.3 percent of Palestinians. In addition, 12,500 Christians reside in eastern Jerusalem.(2003) - (2011)"It is currently estimated that the number of Christians living in Gaza totals only 1,500-3,000 amid 1.2 million Muslims. Probably less than fifty thousand Christians remain in all of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza together.”In Bethlehem, the Christian population was an 80 percent majority in 1950. Today the population of Christian Arabs in Bethlehem is hovering at about 15 percent of the city's total population.The current 2010 Christian population of Israel is estimated at 154350.
This population is rapidly dwindling, however, and not solely as a result of the difficult military and economic situation of the past two years. Rather, there are numerous indications that the Christian population is beleaguered due to its Christianity. Taken in context of the condition of Christians in other Middle Eastern countries, this picture is especially credible and troubling.
Under Islam, Christians are considered dhimmi, a tolerated but second class who are afforded protection by Islam. Dhimmitude is integral to Islam; it is a "protection pact" that suspends "the [Muslim] conqueror's initial right to kill or enslave [Jews and Christians], provided they submitted themselves to pay tribute."
However, the reality of Christianity under Islam has often been difficult. "Over the centuries, political Islam has not been too kind to the native Christian communities living under its rule. Anecdotes of tolerance aside, the systematic treatment of Christians...is abusive and discriminatory by any standard....Under Islam, the targeted dhimmi community and each individual in it are made to live in a state of perpetual humiliation in the eyes of the ruling community." As described by a Christian Lebanese president, Bashir Gemayil: "a Christian...is not a full citizen and cannot exercise political rights in any of the countries which were once conquered byIslam."
Palestinian Christians have suffered as dhimmis for centuries. An English traveler in the Holy Land in 1816, for example, 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.
In the early 1900s, sporadic attacks on Christians by bands of Muslims occurred in many Palestinian towns.
During the Palestinian Arab revolt in the late 1930s, which involved very few Christians, if Christian villagers refused to supply the terrorist bands with weapons and provisions, their vines were uprooted and their women raped. The rebels forced the Christian population to observe the weekly day of rest on Friday instead of Sunday and to replace the tarboosh with the kaffiyeh for men, whereas women were forced to wear the veil.
In 1936, Muslims marched through the Christian village of Bir Zayt near Ramallah chanting: "We are going to kill the Christians."
In the early 1900s, with the Jewish return to the area, Palestinian Christians began to band with the Muslims to oppose Jewish immigration, at least in part as a way to deflect Muslim hostility away from themselves.
As Sir John Chancellor, British High Commissioner in Palestine, put it in 1931: "Christian Arab leaders, moreover, have admitted to me that in establishing close relations with the [Palestinian] Moslems the Christians have not been uninfluenced by fears of the treatment they might suffer at the hands of the Moslem majority in certain eventualities."
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 PA has shown contempt for certain Christian holy sites, and there has been significant desecration as well. For example, without prior consent of the church, Yasser Arafat decided to turn the Greek Orthodox monastery near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem into his domicile during his visits to the city.28 On July 5, 1997, the PLO seized Abraham's Oak Russian Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron, violently evicting monks and nuns.29
After the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000, the PA's Tanzim militia chose the Christian town of Beit Jala to shoot at Jerusalem over other locations from which they could have similarly targeted communities built on land captured in 1967.
They specifically positioned themselves in or near Christian homes, hotels, churches (e.g., St. Nicholas), and the Greek Orthodox club, knowing that a slight deviation in Israeli return fire would harm Christian institutions or homes.At one point, Andreas Reinecke, head of the German Liaison office to the PA, protested: I would like to draw your attention in this letter to a number of incidents which occurred at "Talitakoumi" school in Beit Jala...which is funded mainly by the Protestant Church in Berlin.
Over the last few days the school staff noticed attempts on the part of several armed Palestinians to use the school premises and some of its gardens for their activities. If they succeed in doing this, an Israeli reaction will be inevitable. This will have a negative impact on the continuation of the functioning of the school, in which no less than 1,000 [Christian] Palestinians study....You cannot imagine the kind of upheaval which will be provoked among the supporters of this school [in Germany] should they discover that the school premises are used as a battle ground.
The most glaring example of PA disregard for the holiness of Christian shrines, however, was the April 2002 takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by PA forces and their taking over 40 Christian clergy and nuns as hostages. As confirmed by a senior Tanzim commander, Abdullah Abu-Hadid, "The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel....We knew beforehand that there was two years' worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn't need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there."
Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims - as were Lebanon's Christians - as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the recent violence in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza, as confirmed by Fr. Raed Abusahlia, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.
Anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: "First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians)." The same has often been heard chanted during anti-Israel PLO/PA rallies. Accused of wearing "permissive" Western clothing, Bethlehem Christian women have been intimidated. Finally, rape and abduction of Christian women is also reported to have occurred frequently (especially in Beit Sahur), as was the case in Lebanon.Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents.
In July 1994, the Wall Street Journal reported that Palestinian Muslims would not sell land to Christians and that Christian facilities and clubs had been attacked by Muslim extremists. Christian graves, crosses, and statues had been desecrated; Christians had suffered physical abuse, beatings, and Molotov cocktail attacks.Continuing the Islamic tradition of Saladin - who constructed two mosques contiguous to and taller than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - mosques have mushroomed adjacent to and usually taller than churches. Loudly amplified Muslim sermons have been aired during Christian services, including the Pope's April 2000 address in Nazareth, which had to be halted until the Muslim call to prayer was concluded.Similar attacks have occurred in eastern Jerusalem.
Old City police chief Dep. Cmdr. David Givati confirmed that there have been a number of attacks by Moslems on Christian targets recently.Hmmmm........If Jesus was living in the 'occupied' territory, he wouldn't flee to Egypt.....chances are he would be moving to Israel.Read the full story here.