(AINA) -- Ironically, when South African leader Bishop Desmond Tutu gave a speech to a Palestinian crowd in 1989 lauding Palestinian interests, he failed to realize that the Arabic banners carried by his listeners read "On Saturday We Will Kill the Jews, on Sunday We Will Kill the Christians!" -- Howard Bloom in Lucifer Principle (Chapter: Islam's War against the West).
Yasir Arafat is gone; and so are his antics of attending the Midnight Mass at Bethlehem's Church of Nativity on Christmas Eve. His being debarred, by the Israeli authorities, from attending the Mass would make news in the international media. The same media that would religiously report the Christmas fanfare in the Holy Land would prove deceptively silent on reporting about the plight of Christians in the land of Christ, or by extension in the entire Mid-East. It's a pity that while one foot of the international media is solidly planted in the holy mud of Jerusalem reporting Israeli-Palestinian conflict on daily basis it hardly bothers to report that Christians are verging on extinction in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nablus. It's consoling that BBC News website featured three interlinked reports of plight of Christians in Mid-east on December 15, 2005.
Christians all over Mid-East are in a state of an Islamic siege. They are getting squeezed out by the burgeoning demography and escalating fanaticism of Muslims. Their position leaves little to imagination when even Europe is facing the same heat. Justice Reid Wiener, a resident scholar of Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, recently authored the book Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society on this subject. In a recent interview with FrontPage magazine he informed that ten of thousands of Palestinian Christians have abandoned their holy sites and ancestral property to live abroad. They have faced virtually uninterrupted persecution during the decade since Oslo Peace process began, living amidst a Muslim population that is Xenophobic and restless. Christian women suffer rampant sexual harassment, rape and even forced marriages. Christian men risk being jailed when they intervene to rescue Christian women being attacked or insulted. The Muslim perpetrators get off scot-free because they have family members in the upper echelon of the 12 security forces. Moreover, the Christian community has been abandoned by its religious leaders who have chosen to curry favor with Palestinian leadership. At this rate, Justice Wiener fears, Bethlehem will become a Christian theme park with fifteen years with no real Christian alive.
Justice Wiener's apprehensions are corroborated in an excellent narrative non-fiction I have been reading lately. 'The Israelis' (Simon & Schuster, 2003) by journalist Donna Rosenthal captures the kaleidoscopic contemporary reality of the Zionist country. The 15th chapter titled The Christians: Uneasy in the Land of Jesus would disillusion you about the 'nationalist' nature of Palestinian uprising and expose its Islamic characteristic.
Daoud (David), a Palestinian Christian studies in Bethlehem University, the only Roman Catholic university in the Holy Land, which is partially funded by the Vatican as a part of an effort to stem the Palestinian Christian emigration from the West Bank. At present 70 percent students are Muslims. This is what Daoud ruefully tells: "Do you know what some of them want? to make a classroom into a mosque. My professors are afraid to say anything" (p.311)
"Everyone knows what kind of Palestine they want," his aunt interrupts, "An Islamic Republic. Palestine ruled by the Koran". Interestingly, the character Daoud is a passionate Palestinian nationalist and admirer of former PLO spokeswoman Hannan Ashrawi, a fellow Christian. But he hates Arafat's Islamization of the intifada, characteristically titled Al-Aqsa intifada. When PLO assumed the control of Bethlehem from Israel in 1995, the news that the Christ-nativity lost Christian majority for first time in history was reported in the international media. Arafat changed Bethlehem's demography by expanding municipal boundaries to include three refugee camps and encouraging thousands of Muslims to move in. This reminds one that demographic influx was Arafat's weapon through which he undermined the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon and helped bring about the fall of last Christian bastion in the Mid-East.
Thus, as Donna Rosenthal informs, in 1948 one mosque served the entire Bethlehem area, today there are more than ninety. Hundreds of Christian families have emigrated out of Bethlehem since then. In 1990, Bethlehem was 60 percent Christian; by 2003 it was less than 20 percent. Thus Daoud's aunt exclaims, "what a wonderful Palestine you and Hannan are creating, Churches but no Christians".
Bernard Lewis had exposed the Jihadi character of Yasir Arafat's outfit Fatah in his book Islam and the West:
"The imagery and symbolism of Fatah are strikingly Islamic. Yasir Arafat's nom de guerre Abu Ammar is an allusion to the historic figure of Ammar ibn Yasir (Ammar, the son of Yasir), a companion of the Prophet and a valiant fighter in all his battles. The name Fatah is a technical term meaning conquest of Islam gained in the holy war. It is in this sense that the Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Constantinople for Islam in 1453, is known as Fatih, the conqueror. The same imagery is incidentally carried over in the nomenclature of the Palestinian Liberation Army, the brigades were named after great victories by Muslim arms in the battle of Qadisiya, Hattin and Ayn Julat. To name military units after victorious battles in by no means unusual. What is remarkable here is that all three battles were won in holy war for Islam again non-Muslims --- Qadissiya against Zoroastrian Persian, Hattin against the Crusaders, and Ayn Julat against Mongols. In the second and third were of these, the victorious armies were not even Arabs but they were Muslims and that is obviously what counts. It is hardly surprising that the military communiqués of the Fatah begins with Muslim invocation, "In the name of God, the merciful, and the Compassionate" (pp. 140-141)
Rosenthal then takes us to Nazareth, the town best associated with Jesus in the Gospel, and currently the largest Christian town of Israel. Nazareth is marked by its famed black-domed Basilica of Annunciation, the largest church in the Middle East. In 1997 Muslim fanatics laid a green canvass tent-mosque next to the Basilica. They claimed it to be the gravesite of Shahib al-Din, the nephew of Saladin, who disposed the Crusaders of Jerusalem in 1187 AD. Their objective was to build there the largest mosque in the world, with minarets that would tower above the Basilica. Their real purpose was to intimidate the Christian pilgrims, audibly with blurting of Azan on loudspeakers, and visibly by presence of bearded Muslim fanatics.
Rosenthal reports their leader Sheikh Nazim Abu Salim, who holds a degree in biochemistry from Ben-Gurion University, yelling over the loudspeaker, "Anyone who doesn't get on the Islam train is done for. Anyone who wants to be certain in his life and also after his death must convert to Islam. In the end, Islam will be the only religion left in the world." (p. 312)
This culminated in the Easter 'riots' (actually Islamic aggression) in March, 1999. The Christian (Palestinian Greek Orthodox) mayor who supported building of the plaza was knifed by local Muslim fanatics. Fighting erupted on the streets with screams of Allahu Akbar (Allah is great) and many people were hurt. Any car with Cross on the mirror of sticker of The Virgin Mary, was destroyed. During two days of rioting, churches were torched, more than sixty Christian-owned stores and two Muslim ones, both owned by supporters of the mayor, were vandalized.
Binyamin Netanyahu (1998) and Ehud Barak (1999) governments approved the project for building a small mosque that would not overshadow the Basilica of Annunciation. The controversial mosque was partially built by March, 2002 when during Ariel Sharon's premiership the Israeli cabinet decided to halt the project. Finally, the mosques foundation was demolished by Ariel Sharon's government in 2003. In 2002 then Housing and Construction Minister had correctly observed a few days before the cabinet took the correct decision: "The Islamic Movement will hate Israel regardless of what the government decides, therefore it should have concerned itself with the minority rights of Christians than gaining a few (Muslim) votes, which it could never get anyway".
It's time the Christendom, in fact the world at large, understood that Jihadis would hate them regardless of what they decide about Muslims. A Christian holocaust, in the making in Holy Land, must be prevented by whatsoever means. And the time to do it is now. Merry Christmas to you, friends.
By Priyadarsi Dutta
Priyadarsi Dutta is based in New Delhi, India and writes on Islam and allied subjects in the national news daily The Pioneer.