By Andrew L. Jaffee
Well-known by balanced Middle East observers is the fact the Palestinian Christians are fleeing their ancestral homeland (the “Palestinian territories”) because of persecution — more on that later. But to confirm their plight, the only Christian member of the new Palestinian government has resigned. Interestingly, this story comes from the Presbyterian News Service, an arm of the American church now locked in debate over whether to divest from Israel. From an article entitled, “Christian in Palestinian government quits after violence:”
“I confirm to you that I have resigned from the government due to the violence that has occurred in the Gaza Strip,” Judeh Murqos said in a statement after sending a letter of resignation to Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on June 12. …
Residents in Bethlehem said they believed Murqos quit the post because gunmen from the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed group linked to Fatah, had intimidated him by coming to his house in the middle of the night and firing volleys of bullets into the air. …
“Some gunmen showed up at his residence during the night and he felt it wasn’t worth it,” a Bethlehem resident told Ecumenical News International, speaking on condition of anonymity. The London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that Murqos and his son had also received death threats. …
Christians have traditionally held the tourism portfolio in the Palestinian government because Bethlehem, the town of Jesus’ birth, is the main tourist attraction in the Palestinian territories.
On thing the Presbyterian News Service didn’t mention was the flood of Christians fleeing “Palestine” — specifically Bethlehem. From CBN:
Two thousand years after the birth of Christ, Christians are leaving the Holy Land in record numbers, and a new report suggests persecution against Palestinian believers is getting worse.
Little remains of 14 homes set ablaze in the West Bank village of Taybeh. An angry Muslim mob from a neighboring village attacked the Christian town last September. They said they were avenging the dishonor of a Muslim woman allegedly impregnated by her Christian employer, from Taybeh.
Taybeh is the only West Bank village completely inhabited by Christians – about 2,000 of them. It was originally called Ephraim. It is mentioned in the Old Testament and in the book of John as a village where Jesus stayed.
Mayor David Khoury said the attack would not have occurred if Taybeh were a Muslim village instead of a Christian one. …
Palestinian Christians are now living in fear because persecution against them is increasing.
“I think the situation has been on a steep downhill for at least 12 years,” said Weiner, “since Israel withdrew from the Palestinian populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza …they fear for their own lives, they fear for their own family, they fear for the future of their community.”
It is a community that many Christians believe will be marginalized as the Palestinians move toward statehood. …
One recent study shows the Christian presence in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority has declined from a population of 26.4 percent in 1914 to less than 10 percent today.
The city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, was once a Christian city. Several decades ago, it was perhaps more than 80 percent Christian. Today, the Christian population has declined to less than 15 percent.
We constantly are subjected to mainstream media news of the “plight” of the Palestinians, but that news is selective, and rarely mentions the situation of Christians.