Israel and Christians!
By: Hussein Shobokshi
The Pope was in Jerusalem. These were the headlines that made the news around the world recently, reflecting the first visit of the head of the Catholic Church, the world’s largest Christian community, to the Israeli-occupied city.
Pope Francis’ controversial visit to the state of Israel is seriously stirring ambivalence and causing a heavy dosage of soul searching about the very suspicious attitude of the Israeli state toward other religions, specifically Christianity in this case.
It is absolutely no secret that Israel holds a great deal of resentment and is in a clear war against Islam and Muslims. The number of demolished mosques and the banning of worship and seizing of endowment land speaks volumes to confirm this. The official educational textbooks which are part of the Israeli curriculum show no interest at all is teaching students about other religions. In fact, its Talmudic schools, which preach a vile, hateful and very extreme doctrine, have produced terrorists, such as Meir Kahane and Baruch Goldstein, who are responsible for many hate-related crimes against mosques and churches.
Ultra-Orthodox and extreme national religious party members recently boycotted efforts by the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, to soften its message toward the Vatican, which it historically accuses of being very soft on the Nazis during the holocaust against European Jews.
A very significant percentage of Jews in Israel today (37 percent) think that Christianity, not Islam, is idolatrous and they believe that Jews are forbidden from entering churches. Many churches have historically laid serious claims to many sites in Jerusalem. The Israeli government has always refused any such claims which has made the relationship worse. It is no secret that there is a slow but very well-orchestrated campaign to encourage Christian Palestinians to emigrate all over the world. This campaign has had great success and Chile alone has become a hub of Christian Palestinians today.
Palestinians truly feel that the Church has let down the Christians in Palestine and has played a very passive and negative role in allowing the mass exodus from the birthplace of Christianity at the hands of the “hateful government in Israel.”
The damage that is done to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Egypt is just the same as that which is done to Christians by Israel. The only difficulty is seeing the problem with both eyes wide open.