Friday, August 25, 2006

25-Aug-06: In the Dark Corners: Life in a Totalitarian Society

Here's another reality-check moment. Extremist critics of Israel love banging the non-democratic, oppressive, colonialist drum and prefer not to allow reality or facts to intrude. We're not about to argue with them (waste of time, offensive etc.) but we do want to ask why so little is said about the things being done to non-Muslim Arabs in the Arab world. We're especially wondering about the darker corners of the Palestinian Authority, one of the most frightening places in the world to be a holder of non-mainstream opinions.

The article below, appearing in a Chinese Christian magazine, reveals facts that we feel need to be made known wherever discussion of the Israel-Arab conflict takes place. [Reminder: Bethlehem is under the full control of the Palestinian Authority]
Molotov cocktail against Christian activists home in Bethlehem
Samir Qumsieh, owner and director of the only private Christian TV [station] in Palestine, is the victim. For some time now, he has been receiving threats and has been the object of intimidation. Yet his appeals to the authorities have fallen on deaf ears.
Bethlehem (AsiaNews) Death threats are getting nastier for Samir Qumsieh. He is the director and owner of the only private Christian TV station in Palestine. Concerned about his family and his business, he has repeatedly called on the authorities to intervene to the little avail. In 1996 Mr Qumsieh founded Al-Mahed (the Nativity) TV in Bethlehem. He told AsiaNews that he is forced to live with the constant threats against his life and might have to shut down his TV station, which has been well-received by Christian leaders in the Holy Land. In the past, Mr Qumsieh denounced several times the violence inflicted on Christians in the Holy Land. A few days ago he called on Bethlehem governor, Salah Al-Tamari, to investigate a serious incident. After midnight last Thursday unidentified people threw cocktail Molotov into the garden of his house.
"We avoided the worst by a miracle. One of the bottles fell on wet grass causing little damage; the other did not explode, he said. Nevertheless, the incident is but the latest in a long string of similar episodes." Qumsieh said that in the past defamatory and indimidatory leaflets about him were circulated. "But what is worse is that despite my pleas that something be done to find those responsible for these acts, the security forces have done nothing." In his letter to the governor, copies of which were also sent to the chiefs of local security forces and to Christian leaders, the TV station owner complained that the threats against him are a serious and dangerous development that must be taken seriously. Mr Qumsieh also faces an economic threat. Poor revenues might force him to shut down his TV station. And this is already wetting the appetite of Born-Again evangelical Christians and Hamas who seem interested in buying Al-Mahed. Financing is not a new problem though, but in the past Mr Qumsieh had already said that closing up would be the hardest thing to do. "It is something that touches the entire community. If it goes down, there won't be another like it."
With so many things "going down" in the non-Moslem parts of Palestinian Arab society, it's tragic that events like those reported here get so little attention.


Huldah said...

Thanks for this.

The BBC recently upheld part of a complaint I made about an article on BBC Radio 4 which stated that Palestinian Christian fears of persecution under a had not materialised. In the article Palestinian Christians said that they had never had trouble from their Muslim neighbours or from the Palestinian Authority.

Confronted with evidence such as that above, The Beeb issued an apology (not yet on their website) for failing to give their listeners accurate information about the routine intimidation and discrimination against the Palestinian Christian community in the PA.

Of course, the intimidation tactics of the Arab mafia in the PA against any who dare to expose their egregious activities is a major factor in all this.

But the BBC should have known better. And for once, they admitted it.

The-View-From-Ramot said...

Thanks for posting your comment. Through personal friendships with Palestinian Arab Christians, it's become painfully obvious to us int he past five years how dangerous, confining and frustrating their lives have become at the hands of Islamicists in their own communities. Unfortunately part of the oppression that characterizes their lives is oppression that emanates from certain Christian sources - the appalling Sabeel, for instance. Or the elements mentioned in a report called " 'Islamic mafia' accused of persecuting Holy Land Christians" that appeared a year ago in The Telegraph (UK). We have a difficult enough time understanding some of the attitudes (the silence, the statements) of many of our own Jewish leaders here in Israel and outside it. We can't even begin to comprehend what keeps the vast majority of Christian leaders silent.
- Arnold

The-View-From-Ramot said...

Forgot to give the link to the 2005 article about an Islamic anti-Christian mafia: