Palestinian Christians and the Two-State Solution

Sept. 16 2016

Every other year, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem host a conference entitled “Christ at the Checkpoint,” intended to convince evangelical Christians of their moral and religious duty to oppose Israel’s existence; similar efforts are directed at mainline Protestants. Robert Nicholson, having just returned from this year’s conference, explains the situation of Palestinian Christians and what’s behind their attachment to anti-Israel rhetoric:

Palestinian Christians [are] not stupid. They may shout their bona fides from the housetops, but they do so as a self-aware minority, less than 2 percent of an overwhelmingly Muslim society. They see their population rapidly shrinking in relation to their Muslim neighbors. They see the rising popularity of Islamist movements like Hamas and disturbing levels of sympathy for Islamic State. They know that Article 4 of the Palestinian Basic Law . . . promises that the future state of Palestine will be an Islamic polity governed by the principles of shariah.

Meanwhile, they see what is happening to their Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. They know that they are different, and that when push comes to shove that difference could get them killed.

Christians inside the territories are hostages in their own society. In private conversations, many express fear of Muslims, positive feelings toward Jews and Israel, and envy of Arabs citizens living inside the Jewish state. Many even hope for the collapse of the Palestinian Authority so that the West Bank can once again be reintegrated with Israel.

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More about: Christian Zionism, Evangelical Christianity, Israel & Zionism, Middle East Christianity, Palestinians, Two-State Solution

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war