Scholar decries apathy toward Palestinian Christians

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

A leading Israeli human rights lawyer on Monday criticized Western governments and the mainstream media for largely ignoring the systematic persecution of Palestinian Arab Christians by their Muslim neighbors and rulers.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs where he is a scholar in residence, Justus Weiner presented yet more evidence of the harassment, discrimination, intimidation, religious intolerance and physical violence Palestinian Christians in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") are regularly subjected to.

Weiner presented several specific cases of recent intimidation, physical abuse and murder of Palestinian Christians, but said those were merely the tip of the iceberg. Most of the Palestinian Christians affected by this persecution dare not open their mouths, and when they do are careful not to further upset the waters.

If the situation continues, Weiner warned that in another decade there will be but a handful of Arab Christians remaining in the Holy Land. Already, the once Christian-dominated town of Bethlehem now has a population that is less than 20 percent Christian. Most of the Christian exodus from Jesus' birthplace has come after Israel handed control of Bethlehem over to the Palestinian Authority.

The answer, said Weiner, is for Western "Christian" governments, the mainstream international media and human rights organizations to intervene and demand the Palestinian Authority begin protecting the rights of Christians living in areas under its control.

But international concern for Palestinian Arab Christians dried up with the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1995 out of a desire to not paint that regime in a bad light and risk scuttling the process of extracting territorial and security concessions from Israel in return for "peace."

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