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.