UN subverted to deny gay rights

This was brought to my attention by reading OyVaGoy (Chas Newkey-Burden) about a week ago. Whose side are you on?

This week the United Nations voted to remove a reference to sexual orientation from its resolution against extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

So the United Nations is now effectively saying it is acceptable to execute men or women because of their sexuality. This is more than a symbolic development, given that 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality and five consider it an executable offence.

Among those that voted for the removal were: China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Among those that voted against were: Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, all of Europe including the United Kingdom, United States and…Israel.

So it appears that the UN is bowing to pressure from the Islamic world to align with its own homophobia.

And one of the countries, as Chas points out, and the only one in the region who will have no truck with this stance is democratic, free Israel which has gay rights even though many of its religious citizens are uncomfortable with overt gay public demonstrations of their sexuality.

The moral failure of churches and the UN towards the persecution of Christians in the Middle East

Recently, the Methodists in the UK passed a resolution to promote the boycotting of goods from what it considers illegal settlements on the West Bank/Judea Samaria.

It did so because, as I have previously reported:

The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.

In my article I cited the systematic persecution of Christians among Israel’s neighbours whilst Israel’s Christian population is growing.

Now the Hudson New York has an article by Khaled Abu Toameh entitled Muslim Genocide of Christians Throughout Middle East.

Genocide is a strong word. Let’s see what he has to say:

It is obvious by now that the Christians in the Middle East are an “endangered species.”

Christians in Arab countries are no longer being persecuted; they are now being slaughtered and driven out of their homes and lands.

So what is the world doing about it? What is the evidence?

Those who for many years turned a blind eye to complaints about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East now owe the victims an apology. Now it is clear to all that these complaints were not “Jewish propaganda.”

The war of genocide against Christians in the Middle East can no longer be treated as an “internal affair” of Iraq or Egypt or the Palestinians. What the West needs to understand is that radical Islam has declared jihad not only against Jews, but also against Christians.

This, surely, is a vital point. So many commentators are fixated on the Israel/Palestine issue as being the fountainhead of all Islamic fundamentalism. If only the Israelis would give the Palestinians everything they want, the argument goes, the Islamists would desist from their terror attacks. In other words, it’s the Jews’ fault.

In Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being targeted almost on a daily basis by Muslim fundamentalists and secular dictators.

What! In the Palestinian territories? Does he mean Hamas? Does he mean Fatah? But, according to the Methodists, it’s the Jews, stupid.

Dozens of Arab Christians in Iraq have been killed in recent months in what seems to be well-planned campaign to drive them out of the country. Many Christian families have already begun fleeing Iraq out of fear for their lives.

Indeed, and this has been reported, but it’s almost a sub-text with a shrug of the shoulders, as if to say, ‘what do you expect, fundamentalist elements are to blame in a volatile situation.’ Of course, the West does not want to have to face the fact that it has been Frankenstein to a new Iraqi monster, replacing Saddam with Al Qaeda at the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

In Egypt, the plight of the Coptic Christian minority appears to be worsening. Just this week, the Egyptian security forces killed a Coptic Christian man and wounded scores of others who were protesting against the government’s intention to demolish a Christian-owned structure.

Hardly a day passes without reports of violence against members of the Coptic Christian community in various parts of Egypt. Most of the attacks are carried out by Muslim fundamentalists.

Had this been, Israel the calls for boycott and sanction in the UN would be deafening, but the world does nothing. As Toameh says, they see it as an ‘internal’ affair whereas if an Israeli sneezes on a Palestinian, it’s reported round the world in minutes and 150 UN bodies are convened to condemn the murderous Israelis using germ warfare.

Some of the Egyptian fury against its ancient Coptic community is fuelled by unfounded, paranoid and extremist rumours. It’s as if certain elements want to believe them as an excuse for their actions. A similar pattern can be found in Israel with unfounded and, frankly ludicrous, accusations of Israeli actions against the Al Aqsa fuelling riots and civil unrest. Even today I read on the Elder of Ziyon about the ‘Latest nefarious Zionist plot to “storm” the Temple Mount’.
Back to Toameh:

According to the Barnabas Fund, an advocacy and charitable organization based in the United Kingdom, “Fears for the safety of Egyptian Christians are growing after a series of false allegations, violent threats and mass demonstrations against Christians in Egypt.”

Muslim anger was ignited by unfounded accusations that Egyptian Christians were aligned with Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for war against Muslims.

As Toameh, himself a Palestinian, points out, this pattern is also prevalent in the Territories which the world wants as future Palestine.

Last week, the Western-funded Palestinian Authority in the West Bank arrested a Christian journalist who reported about differences between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan. The journalist, George Qanawati, manager of Radio Bethlehem 2000, was freed five days later.

In the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, the tiny Christian community is also living in fear following a spate of attacks by radical Islamic groups.

What would a future Palestine look like? No Jews, no Christians? And who is it in the Middle East that is constantly criticised for being an ‘Apartheid state’, of oppressing minorities and restricting access to religious sites? Why, Israel, of course. Except in Israel’s cases these are always lies or distortions. What excuses to Egypt and other Middle East countries have for Christian persecution?

All this is echoed in an article written on Cif Watch “.. then the Sunday People”:

There is an Arab saying, “First the Saturday people and then the Sunday people,” which is often heard chanted at anti-Israel rallies organised by the PLO/PA.  This is commonly held to refer to the deliberate eradication by Islamic regimes, everywhere they take root, first of Jewish and then of Christian kufar who refuse to convert to Islam.

Bataween, editor of “Point of No Return”, a blog mainly dedicated to creating awareness about the plight of Jews in Arab countries, informs us that Jews have almost been wiped out in Muslim countries (see also here).  The “Saturday people” have been almost completely eradicated.  Consequently – there now being very few Jews in Muslim countries – it would seem that Egyptian Muslim agressors [sic] are earnestly engaged in a murderous enactment of the second part of the saying.

I highly recommend your read this article in full.

How shameful is it when the UN is so fixated on Israel, mainly because of the influence of a built-in Muslim majority in many of its bodies, and does nothing about Christians.

How cowardly and shameful is it that the numerous churches around the world appear to sit on their hands when it comes to Christian persecution, unless it perceives Jews as the persecutors.

Goldstone refuted – by Hamas itself

The media, having long ago agreed to everything in the Goldstone report, has no interest in the accidental revelations which refute its conclusions.

Camera.org recently published news that none other than Hamas itself has revealed an important statistic, previously denied or simply lied about, which shows that Goldstone was a gullible sap who was fed lies from dubious sources and reached conclusions which were foregone before he even started his one-sided investigation.

Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad’s admission that Hamas and affiliated militias lost 600-700 fighters in the Israeli “Cast Lead” military operation undermines the central accusation of the Goldstone Report that the Israeli operation was “premised on a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed … [at] the civilian population.”  The public, however, is unlikely to know this, because Hamad’s remarks have been largely ignored by major news organizations, like the New York Times and the BBC.

Hamad’s comments were made in an interview published in the London Arabic daily Al Hayat on Nov. 1, 2010 and reported by Agence France Presse, the Jerusalem Post and others.  In the interview, he stated that

On the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 martyrs who were part of Hamas and the various factions fell.” He added that, “about 200 to 300 were killed from the Qassam Brigades, as well as 150 security personnel.”

Hamad’s figures closely match the Israeli estimate of 709 combatant fatalities and indicate that combatants comprised around half of the Palestinian fatalities in the time period of Dec. 27, 2008 through Jan. 18, 2009,  far more than the 17 percent claimed by Palestinian groups. The increased ratio of combatants to non-combatants is inconsistent with Goldstone’s most serious charge that Israeli forces systematically targeted civilians.

The importance of the last sentence cannot be underestimated. The accusation of deliberately targeting civilians was the direct opposite of the truth, as Col Richard Kemp told the UN Human Rights Council last year http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2009/10/19/colonel-richard-kemp-and-the-truth-about-operation-cast-lead

In the rush to judgement, or directly to condemnation, the picture of Israel as a bloodthirsty, murderous regime, which its enemies are so keen to promote, was given validation by Goldstone.

Considering the conditions in Gaza – the use of public buildings, the network of residential homes used and the firing from or near UN buildings – the ratio of combatants to civilians killed is low and completely disproves the demonising conclusion of Goldstone.

Israel in the Time of Cholera

If you thought Israel’s medical mission to Haiti after the earthquake was just PR then think again.

There has been a continuous presence there since January this year and now, as the JP reports, in response to the cholera epidemic, Israel is sending a medical unit.

Israel has joined other countries in efforts to help disaster-stricken Haiti with its cholera epidemic and will open a new intensive care unit in the north of the island, reported Israel Radio on Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry’s humanitarian aid unit has gathered the necessary equipment for the project and will begin transferring it to Haiti in the coming weeks.

UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said Haiti needs at least a hundred doctors and a thousand nurses to deal with the epidemic. More than 1,000 people have died in Haiti since the outbreak of Cholera five weeks ago.

A year after the earthquake there is little sign of rebuilding. No-one is blockading Haiti and there are no smuggling tunnels to the Dominican Republic. The situation is truly disgraceful and an indictment of the priorities of the UN.

As usual, when it comes to international aid efforts, Israel punches above its weight.

Rambam Hospital Haifa – three inspiring stories

The Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa is one of Israel’s and the region’s leading hospital complexes.

This hospital has been at the forefront of encouraging and promoting excellence among the country’s Arab medics and also promoting women to leading roles..

Previously Dr Suheir Assady became the first Israeli Arab woman to be the head of a department.

This video is of the very impressive and charming Dr Assady as reported by Israel21c.com.

Today there was news of another female doctor becoming the first Arab woman plastic surgeon in Israel. Her name is Dr Rania El Hativ.

As Israel’s first Arab woman to become a plastic surgeon, Dr. Rania El Hativ represents a professional role model for others like herself. Further, the 28 year-old Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC) doctor is confident that her presence will encourage more female patients from her sector to seek the medical care they need.

“While there is growing openness to plastic surgery among the Arab population, the field is still relatively unknown,” says Dr. El Hativ. “In addition, Arab women may be hesitant to reveal bodily defects to male doctors, and may neglect serious problems. Just by being there, I hope to make it easier for Arab women to undergo examinations for plastic surgery procedures.”

For Dr. El Hativ, work is a calling. “I want to raise awareness of plastic surgery in the Arab sector, where it is not well known and accepted,” she says. “Everyone is a member of a specific society, and should contribute. You cannot only think on a personal level, you must also give.”

Dr. El Hativ stresses that plastic surgery is far more than facelifts and breast enhancements. “Our work is incredibly diverse,” she says. “It involves treating a range of problems like war injuries, tumors, burns and cleft palates, as well as providing breast and facial reconstruction for cancer patients,” she says.

While Rania does not perform any exclusively cosmetic procedures, she does operations that involve aesthetic, medical, and emotional aspects. For example, rhinoplasty, commonly known as “nose jobs”, can cure breathing difficulties. Liposuction, on patients who have lost a great deal of weight, eliminates fungi between hanging folds of flesh. Breast reconstruction restores a natural look to women who have undergone mastectomy, while reductions ease the back problems of those with large breasts. Procedures can restore normal appearances – and lives – of patients with oral tumors who were left with exposed teeth and gums.

In addition to the discipline’s variety and ability to ease suffering, its creative aspects attract Dr. El Hativ. “Treatments in other fields of medicine go by the book, but in plastic surgery you can insert your own personality. There are thousands of ways of doing an operation, and plastic surgery demands an artistic view,” says the young surgeon, who incidentally, loves to draw.

Rania adds that empathy and connection are also crucial in her field. “Without the personal touch,” she says, no patient will ever be one hundred percent satisfied.” Likewise, plastic surgery demands a special open-mindedness, and the courage to try new techniques. ”This profession has no boundaries,” she says. “Plastic surgery is a sea without end.”

Also today, a press release told of the story of a Jordanian doctor, Dr. Kamal Hafiz, who came to the Rambam on a fellowship. He has now returned to Jordan.

This is a testament to the standing of Israeli medicine and the part it does and can continue to play in promoting peace, understanding and co-operation through medicine.

Dr Kamal Hafiz [on the left in photo above with Dr. Zohar Keidar, Deputy Director of Nuclear Medicine & PET/CT Institute at RHCC], a specialist in general surgery from Jerash Hospital in Jordan, recently completed an acute care surgery fellowship at Rambam Health Care Campus (RHCC). The first Jordanian surgeon ever to participate in such a program, Dr Hafiz remained for a year at Rambam, gaining crucial skills which he currently applies in his own place of work.

Dr Hafiz was first drawn to RHCC by its reputation as a top notch acute care center, with wide-ranging experience. Acute care is a specialty that combines trauma surgery and general emergency surgery. Likewise, the Jordanian doctor was impressed by the positive reports of a colleague, who in 2006, participated in a course in Rambam on trauma care for Jordanian doctors and nurses. Contributing to Rambam’s attractiveness was its proximity to Jordan. In less than two hours, Dr Hafiz could be in Jerash with his family, which he visited once every three weeks.

Starting his fellowship with an intensive Hebrew course, Dr Hafiz gained a rudimentary command of the language before beginning his spell at Rambam. Once settled in RHCC, performed general surgery and joined surgical teams for emergency procedures. During the last four months of his year at Rambam, Dr Hafiz became a medical staff member, and did patient rounds. “Being in Rambam was a very worthwhile experience, which helped me enrich my surgical practice,” says Dr Hafiz, who worked primarily with Director of the Department of General Surgery Prof Yoram Kluger, Director of Acute Care Surgery Dr Hany Bahouth and Director of the Hepato-Biliary Surgical Service Dr Arie Arish. In regular correspondence with these Rambam surgeons, Dr Hafiz says he “will never forget the staff of Rambam.”

“Dr Hafiz knew that Rambam deals in high volume of trauma and emergency surgery. He realized he was in a good place with good people, and learned things that answer needs at home,” says Dr Bahouth, who did his own fellowship in emergency and critical care at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, USA.

Prior to Dr Hafiz’s visit, two delegations of 13 doctors and nurses each came from Jordan to Rambam for two weeks of training in trauma care and building trauma systems. Held in 2006 and 2009, these courses were arranged as a joint effort between the Jordanian government and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I would like to have the chance to come back to Rambam because I learned a huge amount of medicine and gained hands-on practice from some of the best surgeons in the region,” says Dr Hafiz, who also commented on the bigger picture: “I hope the collaboration will continue between doctors from Israel and Jordan.”

Behind the rhetoric there are real people who can promote peace through this kind of co-operation and exchange of expertise.

*Photo credit: Pioter Fliter-RHCC

Israel and the Palestinians – more hope through medicine

Further to my last post, the IDF has come out with a truly amazing statistic. Tamara Shavit reports:

Humanitarian dilemmas are a recurring issue in the Judea and Samaria region. A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers, is shot and gets wounded. Is an IDF medic to be called to treat him? A building is about to collapse in the heart of Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it jeopardize its soldiers’ lives, or does it call the International Red Cross and risk losing precious time?

To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to Division Medical Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Kassirer, “The treatment of the Palestinian population is first and foremost a moral and professional obligation for every one of us.” Do we treat them? There is no question about it. But what happens in the long run and how? Where do international organizations fit in? How will an independent Palestinian medical body be established and how does coordination between bodies happen in life? These are the real questions.

Shavit reports on a Palestinian doctor, Tawfik Nasr, who explained at a conference at the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem that, although the situation in Judea and Samaria has improved, there are many challenges due to accessibility problems and the ability to move freely from the West Bank into Israel.

But despite these difficulties, there are also many successes.” He cites as an example of patients coming from Gaza, treated in Jerusalem sometimes over a period of three to four months. They receive a special permit from the director allowing them to stay in Israel so they won’t have to go back and forth and are housed in a special hotel in the Mount of Olives. “All these things are ultimately coordinated by the Israeli Civil Administration. Therefore I want to take this opportunity to thank you. It is particularly important for me to express my deep gratitude to Dalia [Basa, the medical co-ordinator for the Territories], who is responsible for organizing everything.”

And here’s the statistic:

Last year, 180,000 Palestinian citizens entered Israel to receive treatment. 3,000 emergency patients were transferred from Israeli to Palestinian ambulances using the “back to back” method, without warning.

So much for genocide.

Israel and the Arab world – hope through medicine

The Elder of Ziyon website is constantly providing some fantastic stories from the Arab world.

Most of them are about negative relations, but in the last few days a story that gives us a small window, a little chink, into a world that could be, has been reported.

It’s all about an Arabian princess. But it appears it’s no fairy tale:

From JPost:

A member of the royal family of a Persian Gulf state is undergoing advanced medical treatment in Israel, sources close to Deputy Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Ayoub Kara (Likud) revealed Sunday.

Kara’s office confirmed that the foreign visitor had completed a series of tests Sunday, in preparation for heart surgery on Tuesday, but would not detail the medical tourist’s country of origin, or the name of the hospital in which he is being treated.

Kara’s office became involved in the visit when Kara aided the patient in securing the necessary paperwork in order to allow him to enter Israel. Israel does not have official diplomatic relations with any of the Persian Gulf states.

Then an update from Arutz Sheva:

The woman’s husband, a prince of the unnamed Gulf kingdom himself, is considered a key figure in his country. He told MK Kara that if – and hopefully, when – his wife recovers, he plans to lobby for construction of a large medical center that will take in patients from around the Arab world – with Israeli doctors helping to set up the project. In a statement, MK Kara’s sees medicine as an important bridge to bring Israel and the Arab world closer, “especially given the fact that in recent years more and more Arabs have been exposed to Israeli medicine, and are well aware of the high quality of Israeli medicine.”

Wouldn’t that be incredible if a leading member of a Gulf state were to begin an initiative that would link the Arab world to Israel via humanitarian co-operation.

Whoever the man is, he is certainly someone who, perhaps, recalls a time when Jewish doctors were held in high esteem in the Muslim world. He is also someone who appears to be brave enough to support a medical project with Jewish doctors.

I like the bit about the Arabs having been exposed to Israeli medicine in recent years. This is something rarely, if ever, reported in the Western media. Such stories do not conform either to the narrative of complete animosity between Israeli and Arab, Jew and Muslim, nor do they conform to the image of Israel as a murderous pariah state.

How often do we hear how Israel has allegedly blocked medical assistance to Palestinians whilst the real stories about the thousands who cross from Gaza and the West Bank every year to seek out (often freely given) medical assistance are a footnote, if they are reported at all.

As this story has more than one source, let’s hope it is true.

Medicine is an area where Israel leads the world and can truly fulfil the best traditions and moral precepts of Judaism and Jewish culture.

Medicine as an instrument of peace is certainly something to be supported and lauded and whoever this Arab prince or sheik is, he must be applauded.

And by the way, if you are wondering, MK Ayoub Kara is a Likud member of the Knesset and is a Druze.

Still Crazy After All These Years

This is a guest post by Daphne Anson who analyses the Palestinians’ and Israel’s enemies’ true intentions: the destruction of Israel. Rejectionism and dissembling peaceful intentions whilst always finding a reason to blame Israel and further demonise it have characterised the conflict. Ramping up the rhetoric and turning the screws on negotiations, demanding more and more and delivering nothing.

Mahmoud Abbas’s recent demand that as part a prerequisite to returning to negotiations Israel suspend building in East Jerusalem when this was not even part of the original 10 month moratorium is typical of Palestinian tactics.

Originally posted at http://daphneanson.blogspot.com/2010/11/still-crazy-after-all-these-years.html

“We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. . . . We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem”, declared Yasser Arafat. “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.”

“Our goal is the total liberation of Palestine and any Palestinian who wants less is a traitor”, the President of the PLO Women’s Organisation told an American reporter in 1980. And that same year PLO spokesman Mahmud Labadi observed (Al-Jumhur, Lebanon, 3 October 1980): “Let us not forget that every political achievement opens new vistas for the military alternative.”

Leading Fatah activist Abu Iyad, disclosed in a press interview in 1981: “Even after we establish a state in part of Palestine, we shall continue to struggle for the unification of all Palestine within a secular democratic state, and the struggle will not be undertaken only through political means.”

More recently, in September this year, as reported by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy in Lebanon, Abdullah Abdullah, observed “that the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, which have started in Washington, are not a goal, but rather another stage in the Palestinian struggle… He believes that Israel will not be dealt a knock-out defeat, but rather an accumulation of Palestinian achievements and struggles, as happened in South Africa, to isolate Israel, to tighten the noose on it, to threaten its legitimacy, and to present it as a rebellious, racist state. He noted that Israel faces international isolation with doubt cast on its legitimacy, because of its actions and the war crimes which it has carried out. He added, ‘Many Israelis in senior positions are afraid to travel to European countries lest they be put on trial for their crimes.’”

That the endgame for the Palestinians remains the end of Israel is suggested by of the results of a face-to-face survey of Palestinians conducted this October for the New Israel Project by the pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. There were 854 Palestinian respondents, comprising 538 residents of the West Bank and 316 Gazans. 38 percent of respondents agreed proposition that “Violence only hurts Palestinians and the days of armed struggle are over”, whereas 56 per cent of respondents agreed that “We will have to resort to armed struggle again”.

60 per cent of respondents agreed that “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state”. By contrast, a mere 30 per cent agreed that “The best goal is for a two state solution that keeps two states living side by side”. A paltry 12 per cent supported the latter proposition “strongly”.

66 per cent agreed (42 per cent strongly) that “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state”. By contrast, just 23 per cent agreed that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people”.  55 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by Sharia Law”, whereas 35 per cent agreed that “A Palestinian state should be run by civil law”.

Thus, a majority of Palestinians are willing to accept a two-state solution as a way station en route to a single state – in other words, the elimination of Israel and its replacement with a single Palestinian state – this goal to be achieved through both negotiations and violence.

In a magnificent speech at Bar Ilan University in June last year, just two months after taking office, Bibi Netanyahu spoke eloquently of his quest for a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians.

The question is, however – are the Palestinians genuine partners for a genuine peace?

See also http://www.mideastweb.org/netanyahu_june_14_speech.htm

Remembering JFK

WH/HO Portrait47 Years since Dallas.

Still the most memorable event in my life which has resonated down the years like no other to become a modern legend and myth.

Despite the faults which have been revealed since his death, he is still the most glamorous and charismatic politician of modern times.

The story and aftermath of his death remain the greatest unresolved murder in US history. Although it was decided that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin, no-one has satisfactorily explained the role of Jack Ruby in Oswald’s murder.

Was it the Mafia, the CIA, Castro?

And if you Google ‘Kennedy Israel’ you’ll find that, surprise, surprise, it was Mossad who murdered him. Is there anything those damned Jews would not stoop to?

Eye-witness in Gaza (2) – The Christian pogrom in Bethlehem and other matters

Yesterday I wrote in (mostly) praise of Peter Hitchen’s recent MailOnline article about his visit to Gaza and the West Bank.

I covered his Gaza experiences, but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.

Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:

once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things

‘Wreckage’? Not sure what he means here. The last war here was 37 years ago. Many Arab towns in the West Bank look like anywhere else in the Middle East. Presumably this is a psychological wreckage in terms of almost 40 years of direct conflict with Israel.

At least we see civil society beginning to form, and about time too.

Hitchens is quick to see the plight of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule:

I feel all of us should be aware of … the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’

Ah! Interesting.

One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’ Substitute ‘lonely’ with ‘hounded’ and persecuted’.

It appears it isn’t just Jews some Muslims are uncomfortable with. Whilst denying any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, they now want to end 2,000 years of continuous Christian presence in the West Bank it appears. Will it be that a future Palestine is not just judenrein but christenrein as well.

This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.

I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.
I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.

There is no unsubstantial Christian presence in Bethlehem, as you might imagine. Hitchens tells us that it’s about 30,000 in the area but between 2001 and 2004 2,000 emigrated and if we assume that this migration will continue there may be no Christians at all in 10 to 15 years.

Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

Spot on, my man. This guy isn’t afraid to tell the truth.

Let’s digress here and look at the evidence for Christian persecution over many years. Let’s start with the Methodists current policy of a boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank and their reason for it.

On their Conference website the most salient point for me is this:

The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.

I’m not going to get into the argument that the settlements are or are not illegal, what strikes me is ‘a call from a group of Palestinian Christians’. The fact that there are Israeli groups which favour boycotts is none of the Methodists’ business, but the Christians are.

Yet the Methodists are fixated on what Jews are purported to be doing to Christians but make no equivalent criticism or boycott of many egregious Muslim activities where Christians are being murdered or expelled or persecuted.

CiFwatch recently had a cross post from the Point of No Return website about the ‘inferior status of Christians under Islam’, in other words, dhimmitude.

The atrocity at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in which 52 Christians were murdered has set off a flurry of articles about Christians under threat of extinction in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda has declared Arab Christians a legitimate target. Even Robert Fisk of The Independent is sounding the alarm about a flight of Christians of Biblical proportions – and that was before the massacre.

First the Saturday people – now the Sunday people. Jews have been virtually wiped out in Muslim lands.  Now it’s the turn of the ancient Christian communities.  Forty percent of the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq has fled since the fall of Saddam.

And much of this under the noses of the American coalition forces, presumably.

Also, in Syria:

since the late 1960s private Christian schools have been suppressed, …. the Armenian Christians of Syria are leaving at a particularly high rate: the government has banned their associations, publications, the teaching of their language and their political party.

Hmm. Seems like the Christian Arabs of the West Bank are not alone.

What about Jordan:

the monarch [sic] sees itself as the protector of the six percent of Jordan’s population who are Christians; they are given limited political rights. However, there is plenty of evidence that displaced Iraqi refugees view Jordan as a way-station to a third country of asylum – namely,the US. The refugees – and by no means all are Christian – complain bitterly that as non-residents they are not permitted to work or are paid exploitative wages. Only those with $100,000 to spare can obtain Jordanian residency rights.

Hmm. Seems the Christians in Jordan are worse off than those in the West Bank too.

Surely in Egypt, I want some good news:

It was the ‘secular’ regime under Gamal Abdul Nasser which did most to marginalise the Copts, now barely 10 percent of  Egypt’s population. They are not allowed to repair their churches without government permission, let alone build new ones. Ever since the 1950s, the Copts have  been persecuted, murdered, their women kidnapped and forcibly converted.  Copts have been leaving Egypt for decades.

Decades? Centuries, isn’t it?

New York, NY, November 16, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced the torching of at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in southern Egypt and called on Egyptian government officials to vigorously prosecute the perpetrators and increase protection for Copts. (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5909_62.htm)

Hmm. So Egypt is also bad. So that’s Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Lebanon, then, with its institutionalised power sharing between Muslim and Christian can be the only haven for Christians in the Middle East? Surely?

I found an excellent website: Christian Persecution Info. The Methodists should have a read:

Lebanese security forces prepared to crackdown on Islamic insurgents Friday, June 25, after threatening leaflets were found calling on Christians to leave a key port city, and a bomb blast that killed at least one person in a predominantly Christian town.

Officials said they already detained this week two suspects accused of distributing the threatening publications in the southern port city of Sidon. Those arrested where [sic] not immediately identified.

The leaflets included Islamic slogans and warned Christians in the area to “spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week” or “bear the consequences,” Lebanese media reported.

Underscoring the seriousness of the threats was a bomb blast last weekend that ripped through a car parts shop in eastern Lebanon, killing one person and injuring two others, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The explosion reportedly occurred shortly before midnight Saturday, June 19, in an industrial neighborhood of the predominantly Christian town of Zahle.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the current Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is accused of wanting to drive out Arabs? Yet Israel seems to be the ONLY place in the area where Christians are free to worship without hindrance, are free from persecution.

You could accuse me of selective bias. OK, find me some negative stories about Christians being persecuted by the state in Israel.

I found a nice Italian site in English with the endearing headline ‘In Israel, Christians are Sprouting’. Conjures up an interesting picture, but we know what they mean.

Many of the members of indigenous communities, heirs of the ancient forms of Christianity that flourished there before the arrival of Islam, are fleeing.

The ones who remain live here and there in terror, for example in northern Iraq, in Mosul and the surrounding area, where in order to defend themselves they tend to make ghettos in the plain of Nineveh.

Ah, Iraq again.

And Israel?

The number of Christians within the borders of Israel has not been falling, but in absolute terms it has risen year after year: from 34,000 in 1949 to 150,000 in 2008, the last official figure.

One can speak only of a slight reduction in percentage terms – from 3 to 2 percent – because in the same span of time the number of Jewish citizens has grown from one million to 5.5 million, thanks to immigration from abroad, and the number of Muslims from 111,000 to 1.2 million.

Most of the Christians in Israel live in Galilee, while there are 15,000 of them in Jerusalem.

The exodus of Christians that has set off alarms therefore does not regard Israel, but rather the Holy Land, a geographically flexible term that extends to the Palestinian Territories and parts of the neighboring Arab countries, all the way to Turkey and Cyprus.

And for balance:

… there are the Palestinian Catholics who have been in Israel since its foundation, with the status of citizenship but in socially disadvantaged conditions.

Yes, maybe the Methodists would be better directing their efforts to helping the Arabs just like Jewish organisations:

LONDON – A new Jewish community initiative to promote understanding and equality for Israel’s Arab citizens is up and running with the announcement last week of its first coordinator.

The United Kingdom Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel was set up last year by a broad coalition of Jewish organizations, to deepen UK Jewish engagement and understanding of issues facing Israeli Arabs and to leverage communal resources to provide effective solutions for furthering their rights.

Founding members of the initiative are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, United Jewish Israel Appeal, the Pears Foundation, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the New Israel Fund and UK Friends of the Abraham Fund. The  task force’s executive committee is made up of the chairmen or chief executives of those organizations.

Task force members have highlighted the obligation set out in Jewish tradition and Israel’s Declaration of Independence to social and political equality for all the country’s inhabitants – Jews and Arabs alike.

Until a few years ago, there were just a few hundred Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. But they are growing steadily, and today number at least seven communities: in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, Haifa, Tiberias, Latrun, and Nazareth.

But let’s move back to Peter Hitchens territory and look again at the plight of Christian Arabs in the Palestinian Authority controlled Bethlehem and see what Daniel Pipes was reporting in 2007:

a campaign of persecution against the Christians of the West Bank and Gaza has succeeded. “Even as the Christian population of Israel grows, that of the Palestinian Authority shrinks precipitously. Bethlehem and Nazareth, historic Christian towns for nearly two millennia, are now primarily Muslim.
Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports from Bethlehem, increased attacks by Muslims on Christian-owned property in recent months means that
some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city. … According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of “intimidation” for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded “collaborators” with Israel. …

And in Hudson New York in May 2009, Khaled Abu Toameh again reported:

Christian families have long been complaining of intimidation and land theft by Muslims, especially those working for the Palestinian Authority.

Many Christians in Bethlehem and the nearby [Christian] towns of Bet Sahour and Bet Jalla have repeatedly complained that Muslims have been seizing their lands either by force or through forged documents.

In recent years, not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings also became hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members.

Moreover, several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men.

Over the past few years, a number of Christian businessmen told me that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay “protection” money to local Muslim gangs….

…..

On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, a Christian merchant told me jokingly: “The next time a pope comes to visit the Holy Land, he will have to bring his own priest with him pray in a church because most Christians would have left by then.”

Indeed, the number of Christians leaving Bethlehem and other towns and cities appears to be on the rise, according to representatives of the Christian community in Jerusalem.

Today, Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Five or six decades ago, the Christians living in the birthplace of Jesus made up more than 70% of the population.

Now there IS a cause for the Methodists who probably just care about this bit:

True, Israel’s security measures in the West Bank have made living conditions more difficult for all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike. But to say that these measures are the main and sole reason for the Christian exodus from the Holy Land is misleading.

If the security fence and the occupation were the main reason, the Palestinian territories should by have been empty of both Muslims and Christians. These measures, after all, do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims.

In fact, Christians began leaving the Holy Land long before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. But the number of those moving to the US and Canada has sharply increased ever since the Palestinian Authority took control over Bethlehem and other Palestinian villages and cities. When the second intifada erupted in September 2000, Christian leaders said they were “terrified” by the large number of Christians who were leaving the country.

Ironically, leaders of the Palestinian Christians are also to blame for the ongoing plight of their people because they refuse to see the reality as it is. And the reality is that many Christians feel insecure and intimidated because of what we Muslims are doing to them and not only because of the bad economy.

When they go on the record, these leaders always insist that Israel and the occupation are the only reason behind the plight of their constituents. They stubbornly refuse to admit that many Christians are being targeted by Muslims. By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families.

Gotcha! Gotcha, Methodists. You believe what you want to believe and blame the Jews, the Christ-killers and ignore the real persecution. For shame!

Let’s get back, once more, to Hitchens odd Odyssey across the West Bank where, Alice-like, he encounters some strange truths.

Hitch and the Wall (barrier, actually, for most of its length)

Think about this wall. I acknowledge that it is hateful and oppressive – dividing men from their land, and (in one case) cutting across the playground of a high school. But I have concluded that it is a civilised response to the suicide bombing that led to its being built.

Encountering Muslim anti-Semitism:

My host, a thoughtful family man who has spent years in Israeli prisons but is now sick of war, has been talking politics and history. His wife, though present, remains unseen.

Suddenly he begins to speak about the Jews. He utters thoughts that would not have been out of place in Hitler’s Germany. This is what he has been brought up to believe and what his children’s schools will pass on to them.

The heart sinks at this evidence of individual sense mixed up with evil and stupidity. It makes talk of a ‘New Middle East’ seem like twaddle. So, are we to despair? I am not so sure.

This is the demonisation that few neutrals and no anti-Zionists speak of, and if they do, they’ll tell you it is ‘understandable’.

Here Peter scrabbles to find a suitable end to his article, telling us about improving conditions, shops serving Arabs and Israelis and hoping the whole thing won’t end in a nuclear Holocaust.

Well done, Hitch. Not a perfect 10, but you made me think there is hope yet for the British Press.

Update: I noticed that Prof. Barry Rubin has written on this subject here.