Thursday, July 7, 2011


Was Netanyahu Telling the Truth to Christians?

Hameed Abdul Karim

In his fire and brimstone speech to the joint session of the US Congress and Senate, Benjamin Netanyahu bragged that in his country Christians were free to practice their faith without let or hindrance to a thunderous standing ovation. Amongst the audience there were the born-again evangelical Christians in the assembly to whom loyalty to their country was second to Israel.

But Netanyahu was not speaking the truth.

Spitting at Christians

For starters he should have told the ‘august assembly’ that Israeli Jews believe it is their religious duty to spit at Christians to gain a few brownie points for the hereafter and that the Jewish state has turned a blind to this practice for years.  

There was the case of a Greek Orthodox Christian priest who was given the traditional ‘spit in the face’ by an elderly Jew, skull cap and all, when he put his car shutter down in response to a knock by the him.The Christian priest didn’t bother to lodge a complaint with the police saying he was used to being spat at by Jews. 

Apart from this, a young Jewish religion student went to a Christian festival in Palestine and spat at a 17th century cross carried by the Archbishop near the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City. A fracas ensued and the ancient cross was damaged in the ugly incident. The anti-Christian feeling is so high in the Jewish state that during a particular Jewish holiday (Purim), Christians lock themselves inside their homes for safety until the holiday is over according to Daniel Rossing, a former Israeli official.  

Banning Missionary Activities

To add insult to injury, Israel banned the preaching of Christianity in 1977 at a time when Christians in Bethlehem and the world over were celebrating Christmas. Nobody believes the timing was not coincidental. This law came in to force on 1 April 1978 under the premiership of Nobel peace laureate Menachem Begin. Under this statute a Jew could be sent to three in jail if he or she converted to Christianity according to Donald Neff in his book ’50 Years of Israel’. Under the same law a Christian missionary could be jailed for 5 years if he or she offers a Bible to a Jew with a view to convert him or her to Christianity. Not surprisingly this law created a furore among certain missionary groups and Israel had to play down the effects so as not to jeopardise its relationship with Christian Zionists in the West, especially in the U.S.

Nevertheless, in 1998 yet another ‘draconian anti-Christian’ draft law had been brought to the Knesset by Raphael Pinchasi an ultra-Orthodox Jew (if this was a Muslim he would be called ‘extreme Muslim fundamentalist’). One aspect of the bill reads thus:-
"Anyone who preaches with the purpose of causing another person to change his religion is liable to three years imprisonment or a fine of NIS 50,000 (£9,000)" .

According to Paul Liberman of the Messianic Action Committee the Danish ambassador had called the anti mission bill ‘draconian’ in nature and against the interests of Christian missions in Israel. Later Benjamin Netanyahu assured the Norwegian Prime Minister the so called 'anti-mission' legislation would not pass into law. However, the same Benjamin Netanyahu went back on his word and voted in favour of the Pinchasi measure at the first reading prompting Liberman to call Netanyahu’s behaviour ‘duplicitous’.

Ban on Christian Conference

In June, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel finalised a ban on a Christian Women’s conference in Occupied Jerusalem claiming ‘the incessant missionary onslaught by many Christian evangelical groups, events of this nature that "strive to create a partnership between famous Christian preachers and leaders of organizations that have worldwide missionary programs to missionize (sic) as many Jews as possible... have been banned in the past by Torah giants throughout the generations, and they are forbidden’

Ban on Anglican Bishop

In April of this year heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem came out in protest against the Jewish states’ refusal to grant a residency permit to Anglican (Episcopalian) bishop Suheil Dawani, who was born in Nablus in the West Bank. However, Israel considers him a ‘foreigner’ in Occupied East Jerusalem. The Bishop is a born and bred Palestinian and yet the foreigners who occupy his land have the gall to call him a ‘foreigner’. In his address to AIPAC, Netanyahu announced that undivided Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. It is in Jerusalem that the Cathedral and Anglican curia are located.

The church leaders, comprising patriarchs, bishop, the Head of the Custody of the Holy Land among many others, have also protested against Israel’s attempts to impose new taxes on churches which they say they never had to pay before the Jewish state was created. The churches didn’t have to pay taxes under Turkish/Muslim rule.

The Website ‘Clerical Whispers’  claims, quoting AsiaNews, that another Christian Bishop is threatened with expulsion under Israel’s ‘crimes of opinion’ law. Israeli spin doctors claim Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’

Burning Churches

The hostility towards Christians in Occupied Palestine extends to the destruction of churches as well. In October 1982, as recoded in Neff’s book, Jews burned down the Baptist church in Jerusalem. When the Baptists sought legal remedies, the Israeli Supreme Court told them to just pack and leave.  In another incident that Neff describes, hundreds of Jews, calling themselves ‘Activists of the Torah Camp’ simultaneously attacked Christian missions in Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem with the tacit approval of the Jewish state. Palestinian Christian children were beaten up by at least 200 rampaging Jews in the attack on the Church of Scotland in Jaffa.

In October 2010 right-wing Israeli settlers destroyed a number of windows in a 100 year old church and then burned it by throwing Molotov cocktails. The church was built in Jerusalem in 1897, and housed the Palestinian Bible College until 1947, when parishioners were pushed out by Jewish armed gangs during the violence accompanying the creation of the state of Israel.

This is not the first time that Israeli right-wingers have destroyed churches and church property – a number of Christian churches were destroyed during the second intifada (uprising) that began in 2000, and many more were destroyed by Israeli forces during the 1948 and 67 wars.

In 2006, an Israeli couple tried to firebomb an ancient church in Nazareth, the birth place of Jesus Christ. An Israeli court which tried the case failed to convict the couple of any charges. Al-Mashriqi, a church leader, believes these attacks are a strategy designed to provoke Palestinians into attacks of violence which would be crushed by the Israeli army known for its brutality against civilians. Israeli authorities will then move in to demolish more homes and to expel more Christians in its mad rush to convert historical Palestine   into an exclusive Jewish state – a move endorsed and supported by President Obama, the US Congress and Senate, not to mention the Christian Evangelical churches!

Burning New Testaments

In May 2008 a bunch of Jewish religious school students in Or Yehuda near Tel Aviv burned hundred of copies of the New Testament in response to an order by the Deputy Mayor, Uzi Aharon. The Mayor went through the city in a car with a loud speaker calling on Jews to retrieve and burn the New Testaments which Christian missionary groups had given to Ethiopian Jews. The whole city of Or Yehuda took part in this bonfire. Later in a radio interview Aharon justified his call to burn the N.T. saying he wanted to ‘purge the evil among us’.  Much of the violence is carried out by Jewish settlers in occupied Palestinian land. The word ‘settlers’ gives readers and viewers the impression of a helpless people who have nowhere to go. This is a fallacy. Actually settlers (squatters is the appropriate word) are well trained and well armed para-military forces and not the poor helpless Jewish people living in the midst of the Arab sea as the Israeli propaganda machinery would have us believe.


Surprisingly no media in the U.S or anywhere in the world have ever reported these incidents extensively. So much so the Christians in the West and elsewhere are blissfully unaware of what’s happening to   Christians in the Obama endorsed ‘Jewish’ state.  Reports of a church burning in Egypt in the aftermath of the revolution there were extensively reported as was the bombing of a church in Cairo on Christmas day. Reports of any desecration of Jewish religious sites, especially graves, by neo Nazi’s in Europe along with the regular stories of the Holocaust, quite rightly, are commonplace in the mainstream media. Why is it that the stories of Jewish racism and religious bigotry against Christians not given even a passing mention in the media? It won’t be surprising if readers, especially Christians, are not aware of what they have read so far and what they will know when they finish reading this piece.  The terror activities of Israeli ‘settlers’ seems to have gone under the radar of TV channels like CNN, BBC and SkyNews.

Mount of Olives

Jimmy Carter in his book ‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid’ describes in agony Israel’s slicing of their Mount of Olives, a favourite spot of Jesus Christ and his disciples, which is very near Bethany where they often visited Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Israel’s 30 foot concrete ‘barrier’ cuts through Santa Marta Monastery placing the house of worship on the Jerusalem side and its parishioners are separated from it because Israel will not give them permits to enter Jerusalem. These Palestinian ‘Christians, numbering 2000, have now lost their place of worship and their spiritual centre’ cries Jimmy Carter. Father Claudio Ghilardi says no one during the Turkish and Jordanian rules ever stopped people coming to pray. ‘This is not a barrier, it’s a border. Why don’t they speak the truth?’ America gives US $ 3 billion every year to Israel in economic and military grants.

Palestine’s Christian Population Declines

In a particularly brutal case the son of a Messianic Jew was severely injured when a bomb in ‘gift parcel’ exploded in his home as he opened the deadly gift. Messianic Jews are those who have accepted Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. Mainline Judaism says he is still to come.

Since Israel’s occupation began, Palestinian Christians who couldn’t bear the Jewish state’s cruelty began leaving their place of birth in large numbers. In an article titled ‘Israel’s Increasing Anti-Christianity’ Rev. Ted Pike says Christians are persecuted in Israel and that Israel’s Grand Rabbinate and lesser rabbinic councils want to exclude Christianity from Israel’ He adds that at the turn of the 20th century more than 20 % of Palestinians were Christians, but ‘as a result of long term discrimination’ only about 2% remain in the land where Jesus was born and that even that number was shrinking.

Not even the plus (+) sign is spared. Israeli authorities have banned the plus from elementary schools math text books because it looks too much like the sign of the cross.

All this brings us to the poignant question raised by Rev. Father Claudio Gilardi – ‘Why don’t they speak the truth?’ Christians, especially those who support Israel in its oppression of their co-religionists, should pose that question to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But they shouldn’t be surprised if he cons again.  


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