Tuesday, January 07, 2014

7-Jan-14: The people with the rocks and the firebombs in the real Bethlehem have a new religious inspiration

Central Bethlehem 2002, in the grip of the Palestinian Arab
terrorists [Image Source]
At St James's Church in Piccadilly, they must be laughing into the sleeves of their cassocks this morning.

The area around Bethlehem - the real Bethlehem, a short stroll south of Jerusalem, not the Hollywood-like "art installation" erected on the grounds of the London church to make concrete the Israel-bashing that emanates from its politically-extreme clergy's pop theology - has been rocked in recent days by escalating acts of lethal-minded Palestinian Arab violence.

That's "lethal" as in likely to take someone's life and/or organs, rather than a reference to some movie.

Last night (Monday), a pipe bomb was thrown into the car park of the ancient Rachel's Tomb, injuring an as-yet unidentified person. Ynet said police and Border Guard forces were searching the area for the attackers. Times of Israel noted that this happened just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry flew out of Israel after another peace-making visit and in the wake of "sporadic attacks throughout the West Bank" that have grown more frequent (we would say more intense) as a result of those visits.

Earlier in the day, Palestinian Arabs hurled a grenade towards an IDF base near Bethlehem. Again, fortunately, no casualties, no damage. That is plainly not the outcome intended by those behind the attack who put their lives on the line when firing at armed security personnel. They mean business, and though yesterday they failed, it is a certainty they will keep trying.

Why, by the way, would there even be a need for armed security personnel in the vicinity of the peaceful little town of Bethlehem?

When the British ruled, they
honored Rachel's Tomb on this
postage stamp
For the same reason that Rachel's Tomb, a modest place of Jewish pilgrimage since Roman times, is today dwarfed by thirty-foot-high walls and guard towers that entirely encase it in concrete: because of the gunmen and grenade hurlers who live nearby and are urged on by political and religious leaders to do everything they can to hurt the Jews.

Bethlehem is a flashpoint in the war of the Islamists and jihadists against Israel. Its vast symbolism to hundreds of millions of influential people living far from the scene makes it much more than just another West Bank town.

Yet despite Bethlehem's rich history and religious significance to Christians the world over, the steady assault by Islamists that has slashed the Christian Arab population of Bethlehem goes largely unprotested and mostly unobserved by the global Christian community. A century ago, the town's population was 80% Christian - and declining. Today Bethlehem's Christians are a minority. Exact numbers are hard to find (for a reason) but they are widely believed to be between 20% and 40% of the town today. The transfer of control to Arafat's PA 19 years ago accelerated the process of Christian flight. It's a reality that nourishes those who see the place as a key battlefield in a larger war.

If this had been in doubt, the crass desecration of the Church of the Nativity by the Islamist terrorists who seized control and turned it into an armed fortress in 2002 - and the relative absence of outrage that accompanied it - clarified the matter. For the Christians of the West, Bethlehem exists as a kind of cultural symbol, and never mind what's being done there day after violent day by the terrorists and those who back them.

The soft-focus, touchy/feely Christmas "wall" on the grounds of St. James's will go a long way towards reinforcing the idea among Brits and tourists to the UK that if there's a problem, it's with the nasty Israelis and their proclivity for concrete barriers. The damage in terms of seriously wrong and inverted understandings of what is happening in one of the world's most sensitive areas will, it seems to us, serve well the interests of the jihadists for a generation if not longer.

Palestinian Arab gunmen in the forecourt
of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity
2002 [Image Source]
The inescapable background to this is the evaporating Christian population in today's Middle East. Wikipedia's "Christianity in the Middle East" entry suggests they number no more than 12 to 16 million today. A major essay by Reza Aslan in the September 2013 edition of Foreign Affairs journal, entitled "The Christian Exodus: The Disastrous Campaign to Rid the Middle East of Christianity" gives the perspective:
"What we are witnessing is nothing less than a regional religious cleansing that will soon prove to be a historic disaster for Christians and Muslims alike. At the start of World War I, the Christian population of the Middle East may have been as high as 20 percent. Today, it is roughly four percent." 
Christians were a third of Syria last century; now they are 10 percent and falling. Lebanon had a Christian majority in the 1930's; today it's about 31% to 35% and declining. More than half of Iraq's Christians have left. There has been a steady and massive departure of Christian Copts from Egypt since the early 1950s; they are merely 8% of the population today. Turkey had 2,000,000 Christians in 1920; only some thousands remain today. The direction is clear to whoever wants to look. (And for the record, Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian population is actually growing.)

Back to our reality: On Sunday, four firebombs and many stones were hurled at Israeli vehicles traveling past Kfar Hussan, an Arab village just west of Bethlehem. Again, fortunately, no injuries, but though damage was done and according to Ynet IDF forces were scouring the area in search of the attackers.

For those like us making our homes and building our futures in this part of the world, the homeland of our people, and the crucible of some of the world's most powerful ideas, it is inexpressibly painful to read the ill-informed, often-malicious cant that has accompanied the Bethlehem Unwrapped propaganda, celebrating something called "beautiful resistance" in the memorable turn of phrase used by the the church's head priest.

We're well placed to say that her words resonate with the same kind of religiously-inspired fervor that the convicted mass-murderer who stole the life of our child expressed in the media. Lucy Winkett of St James's in Piccadilly is likely to disagree, and perhaps even take offense. But how different is her Orwellian doctrine of "beautiful resistance" from the war cry of the convicted-and-now-released Hamas terrorist Ahlam TamimiThe Jordanian woman simply took the idea a small step further, saying "resistance is the only way to free Palestine" and proving in the most satanic sense of those words that she meant it.

Tamimi, of course, did not mean resistance, not in the literal sense. It's a thing you say when you can't afford to be upfront about what really drives you. But it is the word she used over and again and still does now that she's free again. The massacre she engineered was directed not at resisting some military base and not at a bus-full of soldiers but an assault by means of a human bomb on a busy pizza shop filled with children on a school holiday afternoon.

She freely admits she did this to murder as many (specifically) religious Jewish teens as she could manage [video]. She's proud of the fact [see "20-Aug-12: What would it take to make you as happy as this woman?"] and so are the members of her tribal clan. It has made her a celebrity in her world.

We're not suggesting this resembles what an Anglican priest means when she presides over a massive central-London public relations stunt designed to place those beautiful resisters on a pedestal. (Though it's clearly relevant to point out that some of the funding came from Interpal, a designated terrorist organization.)

It does however seem to us that there are people paying attention in the villages around our own home here in Jerusalem who watch what goes on in the British and Western news media and take their lead from the words between the lines. Clearly, at least to those like us who are less than entranced by the smooth talk and PR budget of what has just been done in Piccadilly, the terrorists (sorry, those practitioners of "beautiful resistance") have gotten a powerful moral boost.

Had they asked us, we might have suggested a more honest name for this shabby churchyard exercise. Not Bethlehem Unwrapped, since that town remains tightly in the grip of forces about which the St James's cannot admit, but Anglicans Unraveling.


Fleur said...

To add insult , they used their own wall to keep out as many who dissented with their view as they could . How about calling them "racists are us" !

Pamela said...

I have just discovered your blog.

As a British Christian, may I say that the "priestess" Lucy Winkett does not speak for all of us. Her views are so far from my own that I find it hard to believe we read the same Bible.

You are right about "Anglicans Unraveling". The mainstream Anglican church has strayed so far from biblical truth that it can do nothing else; G-d will not be mocked.

Wishing you every blessing.

Martin J. Malliet said...

On Richard Landes's blog 'The Augean Stables' we're discussing the "character of the grotesque attaching to the deformation of humanity through the climate of opinion" (Eric Voegelin) starting from an innocent looking joke. I've used your blog entry as a powerful illustration of how "the grotesqueness of opinion becomes the murderous reality of action" (Eric Voegelin, again).