Edition 2: No. 11
On 9th March 2012, Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street journal in which he inaccurately and mischievously lays blame for the plight of Palestinian Christians on Palestinian Muslims.
This type of impish propaganda has been the routine practice of Zionists- often mimicked by even mainstream Christian leaders. Oren’s article is an attempt to mislead public opinion in the US. As well, it tries to drive a wedge between Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
Kairos Palestine has responded to the article with a sharp rebuttal. They counter Oren’s misinformation with the strong contention that the reality is straightforward- Israeli occupation is the source of all oppression for the Palestinians. Their response unequivocally states that “werefuse to be pitted against our Palestinian Muslim neighbours and friends; and we refuse to letour collective oppression be manipulated in a way that fragments us, obscures us, or masks theoppression’s true cause, which is the Israeli occupation”
Readers of Palestine Update are urged to widely distribute this response from Kairos Palestine to Michael Oren as requested by Kairos Palestine. It is important for all concerned for justice in Palestine to debunk these myths and falsehoods that the Israeli occupation tries to spread as a way of building confusion in the minds of the international community.
Kairos Palestine Responds to Michael Oren
Bethlehem, 17 March 2012 — Kairos Palestine, a group of Palestinian Christians who co-authored thedocument “A Moment of Truth,” denounces Michael Oren’s recent op-ed published in the Wall StreetJournal (9 March 2012). In this inaccurate and manipulative text, Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, blames the plight of Palestinian Christians on oppression at the hands of Palestinian Muslims — ratherthan at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupation itself, as is our reality.
We add our voices to several other recently published responses that have emphasized thisreality and the ways in which Oren’s op-ed attempts to mask it. Indeed, contrary to hisassertions, Christian persecution is caused mainly by the occupation that systematically degrades all Palestinians, restricts our movement, confiscates our land, devastates oureconomy, and violates our rights — including the very basic right to a decent life.
We are particularly troubled by Oren’s attribution of migration within the Palestinian Christiancommunity to ill-treatment by Palestinian Muslims. This damaging analysis wilfully ignores theunderlying political oppression that afflicts Christians and Muslims alike. In the case ofBethlehem, for instance, it is in fact the rampant construction of Israeli settlements, thechokehold imposed by the separation wall, and the Israeli government’s confiscation ofPalestinian land — largely Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area — that has driven manyChristians to leave. At present, a mere 13% of Bethlehem-area land is left to its Palestinianinhabitants.
Oren’s article also reveals a disturbing conception of democracy itself, especially as he insistson emphasizing Israel’s democratic character. In attempting to highlight ways in which Israelsupposedly seeks to protect the survival and encourage the prosperity of the Christiancommunity, Oren implies the Israeli state’s lack of interest in ensuring the same for Muslims.Democracy is not selective. Any democratic state that bothered to implement its own ideals –and, moreover, any ambassador to such a state — would be ashamed of such an evidentlydistorted attitude toward its inhabitants and their rights.
We are equally amazed by Oren’s ludicrous boast that Israel, “in spite of its need to safeguardits borders from terrorists, allows holiday access to Jerusalem’s churches to Christians.” Indeed,one of occupation’s chief outrages is the fact that anyone would need a permit to visit the city tobegin with: restricted freedom of movement is among the fundamental injustices constricting ourlives. Furthermore, permits are not granted to everyone (including on religious holidays); evenwhen granted, the Israeli military may void them at any time.
We also question the timing of Oren’s article and its dogged attempt to portray the state of Israelas tolerant of Christians — an assertion whose fallaciousness we experience on a daily basis.Oren begins his text with a description of Hamas graffiti on the walls of a Bethlehem church in1994. But he certainly doesn’t mention the Hebrew graffiti (“death to Christians,” “Jesus is dead,” and “price tag,”) sprayed on the walls of churches in Jerusalem just a few days ago, and againlast month. The writing, so to speak, is on the wall, and it will take much more than Oren’swhitewashing to mask the hostility to which Palestinian Christians — and all Palestinians — aresubjected in the contemporary reality of occupation.
At every level, Oren’s finger-pointing must be analyzed with an eye to the root causes he refusesto expose. For one thing, when he mentions the Church of the Nativity being inhabited and lootedby gunmen, he neglects to mention the Israeli tanks shooting at the church from the outside. Foranother, while he goes on about present-day religious tension, he neglects to say that Christiansand Muslims lived together for the past 1500 years without major problems — and that, upon thecreation of the state of Israel in 1948, we lost more than 100,000 Christians virtually overnight.And the strongest, deepest roots of all — the roots of empire and colonialism? These, too, gounacknowledged. The US invasion of Iraq, for instance, has done graver damage to Christian-Muslim relations across the world than anything that appears in Oren’s article.
1.The phrase pricetag refers both to acts of violence committed by extremist Israeli settlers as revenge for measures taken against the settlement enterprise and to the settler group it self that performs such acts. Over 90 percent of Israeli police investigations into racist violence enacted by settlers against non-Jews, both Christians and Muslims,are ultimately closed without prosecution.