For a brief moment, the birthplace of Jesus becomes relevant to the international community. Thousands of Christians from all over the world gather in Bethlehem, and Palestinian church leaders exploit the opportunity to heap criticism on Israel. The Jews, they say, are responsible for all the suffering of the Palestinian Christians. Documented persecution of Christians by Muslims, which is taking place throughout the Middle East, is all but ignored in these Christmas “sermons.” In Bethlehem, Israel alone is to blame for any and all hardships. It’s understandable. Publicly criticizing the Muslim powers is risky business for Palestinian Christians. But I’ve had frequent conversations with Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem who in private admit that the real culprits are the Muslims.
Iskander Khoury (45), a father of three, is director of the Catholic-run Holy Child Program (www.holychildbethlehem.org) in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahour. He confirmed to Israel Today that of late life in Bethlehem has become more peaceful. “Even though Israeli soldiers sometimes conduct night maneuvers in Bethlehem, I would say in general that it is getting better,” he...
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