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A Palestinian Christian On Persecution By Hamas

Hamas is the Gazan department of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s distinctly unfriendly to Christians, together with those that are Palestinian Arabs. Ever since its takeover of Gaza in 2007, when Hamas imposed Shari’a, or Islamic regulation, the Christian inhabitants of the Strip has steadily decreased, from 5,000 in that 12 months to 650 at the moment. Bishara A. Bahbah is a Palestinian Christian, apparently dwelling in Israel, the place as is well-known, he suffers no mistreatment no matter. He has simply now publicly decried the mistreatment of Palestinian Christians in Gaza by Hamas, which have led so a lot of them to flee the Strip, right here: “A Christmas message to Hamas,” Occasions of Israel, December 23, 2020:

Say what you’ll concerning the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Christians within the West Financial institution are handled as equal to Muslim Palestinians. In actual fact, when you have a look at the composition of the PA authorities, 5 ministers are Christian.

Bahbah misreads the scenario. These 5 Christian ministers within the PA authorities are helpful in dispelling overseas issues concerning the therapy of Christians, however their presence is misleading: their roles inform us nothing about how extraordinary Christians fare within the P.A. And the reply is that they fare slightly badly. They – their pastors, their church buildings, their faculties — to assault by Muslims; worse nonetheless, in no case have any of those Muslim attackers been arrested by the P.A.

Right here’s a glimpse at a few of what Palestinian Christians within the West Financial institution endured in simply the house of some weeks in 2019 (the article was written quickly after the assaults):

Three grave occasions occurred involving Christians within the territories dominated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) . They left no mark on both the world or the Israeli media as a result of they don’t seem to be related to Israel.

On April 25, the terrified residents of the Christian village of Jifna close to Ramallah requested the PA to guard them after they have been attacked by Muslim gunmen. The violence erupted after a girl from the village submitted a criticism to the police that the son of a distinguished, Fatah-affiliated chief had attacked her household. In response, dozens of Fatah gunmen got here to the village, fired a whole lot of bullets within the air, threw petrol bombs whereas shouting curses, and prompted extreme harm to public property. It was a miracle that there have been no lifeless or wounded.

Regardless of the residents’ cries for assist, the PA police didn’t intervene in the course of the hours of mayhem. They haven’t arrested any suspects. Curiously, the rioters referred to as on the residents to pay jizya—a head tax that was levied all through historical past on non-Muslim minorities underneath Islamic rule. The latest victims of the jizya have been the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria underneath ISIS rule.

The second incident occurred in the course of the evening of Could 13. Vandals broke right into a church of the Maronite neighborhood within the heart of Bethlehem, desecrated it, and stole costly gear belonging to the church, together with the safety cameras.

Three days later it was the flip of the Anglican church within the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah. Vandals minimize by the fence, broke the home windows of the church, and broke in. They desecrated it [urinating and defecating on church floors have been favorite forms of Muslim desecration], appeared for worthwhile objects, and stole an excessive amount of gear.

As within the two earlier incidents, no suspects have been arrested.

Such terrorizing of Christians within the West Financial institution doesn’t seem in Bishara Bahbah’s try to persuade us that, not like in Hamas-ruled Gaza, Christians have been handled properly within the PA-ruled territories. He is aware of all about these, and a whole lot of comparable assaults on Christians since 1994, when Israel withdrew from the West Financial institution

Right here is Bishara Bahbah once more:

Once I served as Yasser Arafat’s advisor on worldwide affairs, whereas I used to be instructing and dealing at Harvard College, I requested him why he determined to designate a set variety of seats within the Legislative Council for Christians and one seat for a Jew to characterize the Samaritans within the Nablus space. I additionally requested him why the federal government decreed that a number of municipalities together with Bethlehem, Ramallah, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala, ought to all the time have Christian mayors regardless of the variety of Christians in Palestine or in these cities.

He answered me: “Don’t be naïve. When I’m gone and I’m not right here to guard you [Christians], at some point there could possibly be a [Palestinian] authorities that, if it might, would eat you alive.”

And it seems, Arafat was proper.

On the one hand, Bishara Bahbah quotes with approval Arafat’s assertion to him about “when I’m not right here to guard you” (the Christians), there “could possibly be a [Palestinian] authorities that, if it might, would eat you [the Christians] alive.” He says that “Arafat was proper.” But, in full contradiction to this, Bahbah claims that the Christians within the PA-ruled territories have completely no issues with their Muslim neighbors. So which is it? The proof means that Arafat was certainly proper: the Palestinian Muslims have been making life very troublesome – hellish in some circumstances – for the Christians within the PA-ruled components of the West Financial institution, and issues are even worse for the dwindling variety of Christians in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

An official advisory issued from a Hamas ministry final week smacks of racism and spite in opposition to Christians basically, and, extra particularly, in opposition to the tiny and dwindling Palestinian Christian neighborhood within the Gaza Strip. Addressing the upcoming Christmas vacation, the doc recommends a sequence of measures to “restrict interplay” with Christmas celebrations in Gaza, implying that Christianity and Christians needs to be shunned.

Whereas some have tried to counsel the directions are motivated by issues about crowds and Coronavirus, the doc itself makes no point out of the unfold of the pandemic. It’s, actually, a spiritual directive from Hamas’s Director-Normal of the Normal Authority of Preaching and Steering within the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Wakf and Spiritual Affairs.

“The Actions of the Normal Authority of Preaching and Steering to Restrict Interplay with Christmas,” dated 15 December 2020, requires the issuance of a fatwa, a spiritual edict, and instructs numerous ministries together with the ministries of inside and financial system, as properly the media to make sure its implementation. As a Palestinian Christian, I abhor the doc and those that drafted it.

The restrict on “interplay” with Christians that Hamas mentions in its “advisory” as needing to be the topic of a fatwa displays the Qur’anic instructions — 3:28; 4:14, and 5:51 – to not take disbelievers as pals, “for they’re pals solely with one another.” Nor ought to any recognition be given to Infidel holidays; when a Muslim needs a Christian “Merry Christmas,” because the well-known Islamic preacher Zamir Naik and plenty of others have stated, he’s “associating Jesus, whom Christians regard because the Son of God, with God himself,” and within the Muslim view, this constitutes a form of polytheism, or the sin of “shirk.”

Why does Bishara Bahbah fail to say that Hamas is merely following Qur’anic instructions to shun Christians (and Jews) when it points an advisory about “limiting interplay” with Christian celebrations? Three causes: First, it might make Islam look unhealthy within the eyes of Infidels. Second, these Qur’anic instructions about not taking Unbelievers as pals, in addition to the verses commanding Muslims to conduct violent Jihad (as 2:191-193, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4) amply present the justification for the mistreatment of Christians by the very group – Hamas – that Bahbah is set to denounce. Third, point out of these verses would plant the concept that insofar because the PA treats Christian Palestinians because the equals of Muslims (as Bahbah misleadingly maintains) – even permitting 5 of them to be within the authorities — it’s violating Qur’anic directions.

On Saturday, after the doc had made it to social media and sparked denunciations from Muslims and Christians, Hamas’s Ministry of Wakf and Spiritual Affairs issued a clarification insisting their coverage mirrored “the tolerance rooted in Islam, which sanctions freedom of worship.” It added that the Hamas authorities “secures [Palestinian Christians’] non secular rituals and protects their church buildings and locations of celebration.”

Inform that to the Palestinian Christians who left in droves lately. Palestinian Christians within the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem at present quantity about 46,500. In Gaza the quantity is about 650. That’s lower than one p.c of the Palestinian inhabitants in these areas and represents a historic low. However although Palestinian Christians are few in quantity, they’ve all the time been full companions in Palestinian society with equal rights, affect and stature.

Regardless of this preposterous assurance by Bishara Bahbah, Palestinian Christians have by no means been “full companions in Palestinian society with equal rights, affect, and stature.” They’ve been the item of repeated assaults by Muslims – the three violent assaults that came about in April and Could 2019 that I’ve talked about above are consultant, and transient search will flip up many different comparable examples – which might be by no means investigated by the PA’s police. That situations for them are troublesome will be seen within the regular outflow of Christians who’re leaving not solely Hamas-run Gaza, however the PA-ruled components of the West Financial institution to reside overseas, free from harassment and persecution. A few of them even transfer to Israel. Bethlehem, that was 85% Christian in 1950, and 40% Christian in 1998, is now solely 14% Christian.

Because the direct descendants of Jesus Christ’s followers – descendants of Jews and non-Jews who transformed to Christianity — we have been current within the land of Palestine earlier than Islam arrived within the seventh century. Since then, relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims have been regulated by an settlement often known as The Pact of Umar that assured rights and spelled out obligations. In at the moment’s Palestine, the pact primarily represents the dedication of Muslims to respect and defend the non secular and property rights of Christians and Jews.

The Palestinian Arab Christians usually are not “descendants” of individuals “who have been within the land earlier than Islam arrived within the seventh century.” They’re descendants, slightly, of the Arabs who arrived in Palestine no sooner than the seventh century. The Pact of Umar, which many Western students, corresponding to Bernard Lewis, regard as a fabrication, is talked about by Bahbah as having “assured rights and spelled out obligations” for non-Muslims. There was precisely one proper – the best to stay as Infidels and never be killed – given to non-Muslims in change for his or her agreeing to a protracted checklist of calls for, which we’ll get to within the subsequent installment tomorrow.

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