Several recent articles report that persecution of Christians in Palestine increased dramatically since the election of the Hamas government. In the Jerusalem Newswire, Stan Goodenough writes
An article by a cleric, Ahmed al-Tamimi, director of the PA government's Religious Judicial Council's "Inter Religion Dialogue Department," was being reported in a number of Christian and Jewish media Tuesday.
In it al-Tamimi attacked Christian Zionists for having "adopted Satan as God." He said it was Satan who "drives their crazy nature."
Apparently oblivious to the incongruity of an Islamic cleric even making such statements – when his whole religion rejects Christianity in any form as heresy – al-Tamimi called Christian Zionism "a dangerous distortion; a deviation from the true Christian faith."
It was thanks to Christian Zionists that the State of Israel exists today, he railed.
Last August, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar told the London-based daily Al-sharq Al-awsat the terror group regarded Christian Zionists as criminals.
And according to a report by the Israel National News website Monday, PMW previously quoted another PA religious leader "who announced a prayer for the murder of 'infidels'" – a term that includes the Christian West.
Viewers were exhorted to:
"Destroy the Infidels and the Polytheists! Count them and kill them to the last one, and don't leave even one."
Thus far, the reports can be dismissed as "propaganda" emanating only from "Zionist" sources. Those who want to believe hard enough, can believe that the wrath of the Hamas will be confined to Christian Zionists of the most extreme variety. That is, those who believe that the Jews must return to Israel in order to bring about the return of Jesus, and who oppose territorial concessions on the grounds that "God gave the land to the Jews" and that "the restoration of Israel is part of God's Plan."
In fact, the "Challenging Christian Zionism" Web site at www .christianzionism.org, which opposes Christian Zionism, posted a link to the above article, apparently on the premise that "Christian Zionists" were endangering other Christians, and should knuckle under and appease the Hamas.
However, a much larger group of Christians simply support the existence of Israel as a member state of the UN and would reject, for example, the Hamas charter which calls for destruction of Israel. According to the definition of the Hamas, they are "Christian Zionists." since they support the existence of the state of Israel. Their churches and missionaries are well represented in the Palestinian areas, as are Palestinian Christians who may have various political opinions about Israel. They are in a "delicate" situation. The Presbyterian church and other churches may feel obliged to continue and enhance their support of divestment initiatives, hoping to deflect the wrath of the Hamas and protect Christians and Christian charity work in the Palestinian areas.
Ecumenical News International reports:
A priest at the Roman Catholic Al-Ahliyya College in the West Bank city of Ramallah said several firebombs were thrown into a school sports room in early March, causing serious damage and destroying all the equipment stored there.
A month earlier, several petrol bombs were thrown into a classroom, he said. The priest also said a Protestant bible study centre in the town of Bir-Zeit near Ramallah was attacked and phrases from the Muslim Koran were daubed on doors. Window-panes in a Lutheran church in Ramallah were shattered by unknown assailants in recent weeks, he said.
"Our college, our parish school was established in 1856 and during the history of our school such things have never happened before," the parish priest, Father Ibrahim, told Ecumenical News International.
He said he did not know who was behind the violence, but did not believe that Hamas was involved as leaders of the movement who visited his parish after hearing of the attacks and offered to send guards to protect the compound.
One theory is that the violence has been perpetrated by members of the rival Fatah faction in an effort to discredit Hamas and fuel chaos in the Palestinian territories.
"We reported it to the police and up until now we know nothing," Father Ibrahim said.
A Christian humanitarian worker in the Gaza Strip said a Baptist bible study centre that serves as a charity arm for the local Christian community received threats several weeks ago demanding it to close down or it would be firebombed.
"Fliers handed out in downtown Gaza City ordered them to shut down their work in Gaza. It said if they didn't do it then their building would be burned down," the aid worker said. "They continued to work there. Some people received threats from an unknown group."
Not surprisingly, in view of the vulnerability of their charities and parishioners under Hamas rule, some Christian organizations are trying to downplay Hamas extremism, and, like the article above, are careful not to blame Hamas for the violence.
An article in Christian Science Monitor is titled "http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0519/p07s01-wome.html">Moderate voices vie for clout within Hamas notes that most Palestinians favor peace with Israel. It quotes a "moderate" Hamas lPLC member Salah al-Bardawil as saying:
"When Israel stops its dream of a state from the Nile to the Euphrates, we will stop our dream of Haifa and Yaffa and Acco,"
The problem with that statement, which Christian Science Monitor failed to note, is very few in Israel, even among the extreme rightist fringe, really want a state from the Nile to the Euphrates. The statement is Hamas anti-Semitic propaganda, like the assertion in the Hamas Charter that Israeli "expansionism" is an implementation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery. In this way, Hamas manages to insinuate their anti-Semitic campaign into respectable mainstream U.S. publications.
The Hamas anti-Christian campaign is probably not going to be confined to Christian Zionists only, since Muslim extremists view Christian charity workers as missionaries, and Christian missionary activity is forbidden under Islamic rule. Another source shows, that in fact the violence is not confined to fundamentalist Christian Zionists, and seems to be unrelated to Zionism. The Presbyterian church is not suspected of overly Zionist leanings. As noted, they have approved an initiative to divest their holdings in companies that "support the occupation," despite opposition by a large segment of their members. The Presbyterian Church USA News Service reports:
“It has become awful living here,” the charity quoted Bethlehem gift shop owner Victor Tabash as saying. “We do not believe what is happening. Since the election, things have been getting worse and worse,” Tabash added.
Hamas has said it will not impose strict Islamic law, or Sharia, in the Palestinian territories, a move seen as an attempt to ease the concern of Christians and secular Palestinians.
But since Hamas’ election there has been a spate of violence against Christians, including arson attacks against a parish school in the West Bank city of Bethlehem and other violent incidents against churches and Christian charities. It is not known whether the culprits are Palestinian gangs opposed to Hamas or supporters of the movement.
"It is not known" who the culprits are, but the fact that Hamas leaders called for destroying the infidels should surely be suggestive. Even the Presbyterian Church should be able to see the connection.
As for the "Challenging Christian Zionism" people, aren't they somewhat like the German Jews who insisted that Hitler would not hurt them, and was only opposed to the "uncultured" Russian Jews? Aren't they, in posting an article documenting Hamas wrath against 'Christian Zionists' and calls to attack 'infidels,' in effect, yelling "Death to Us"?
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