The Real Danger to Palestinian Christians Doesn’t Come from Israel

Dec. 23 2019

According to the official story, endorsed by local Christian religious leaders and often reported in the Western media, relations between Palestinian Christians and Muslims are good, and the reason for the Christians’ demographic decline is the Israeli “occupation.” The reality, writes Ashley Muse, is somewhat different:

Conducting research in the West Bank this past summer, I spent considerable time with Christian families around Bethlehem. One evening as I was eating dinner with a family, a mosque just outside their home broadcast verses from the hadith, [extra-Quranic Islamic teachings]. Shortly after the recitation ended, the father of my host family remarked, “They just cursed the Christians.” While they explained this did not happen every day, I was shocked to discover that Palestinian Christians, living in what used to be a Christian-majority town in the West Bank, are forced to listen to curses hurled at them from loudspeakers.

The situation for Christians is far more severe in Gaza than in the West Bank. After Hamas won a plurality in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, the organization used the power of the gun to take over the territory in June 2007 and imposed its radical Islamic ideology. Persecution of Christians here is masked by Hamas’s statements of goodwill toward Gaza’s small Christian population, which numbers fewer than 1,000 people. Declarations like the party’s 2017 political document prohibit religious bigotry and allow followers of other religions to “practice their beliefs in security and safety,” but these are empty sentiments and meaningless documents.

In reality, Hamas supporters and Salafi-jihadist groups like Swords of Righteousness and the Army of Islam target Gazan Christians with forced conversions, discrimination in schools, attacks on their businesses, and in some cases even martyrdom.

Read more at Providence

More about: Middle East Christianity, Muslim-Christian relations, Palestinians


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount