The Persecution of Palestinian Christians Continues

April 6 2016

In February, Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, declared that Israel was responsible for the murderous attacks on its own citizens. Meanwhile, as Lawrence Franklin notes, he has refrained from condemning the very real persecution faced by his coreligionists at the hands of the Palestinian Authority:

Twal . . . “forgets” the basic reason for the accelerating departure of Christians from Palestinian areas: intolerance of religious minorities, not the Israeli “occupation” of Arab territory.

Many [Palestinian Christians] have . . . [settled] in Israel, where they can practice their faith without restriction. Thousands of Catholics now work in Israel, where they enjoy complete religious liberty. . . .

The sad truth is that in the Palestinian territories, [by contrast], Christians are forced to live like dhimmi—second-class citizens who survive largely by the protection money they are required to pay to buy their daily safety. These barely-tolerated citizens exist only at the whim and pleasure of the ruling Muslim majority. Muslim Arab discrimination against non-Muslims includes economic and socially prejudicial behavior that makes it difficult or impossible for Christian Arabs to run a profitable business or for their families to be integrated fully into society. . . .

All we have to do is to observe how Christian holy sites are being demolished throughout the Middle East to realize that without Israel protecting Jerusalem’s and Bethlehem’s Christian holy places, there would, at some point, be no Christian holy places, period.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Middle East Christianity, Muslim-Christian relations, Palestinian Authority


The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey