In the media's Middle Eastern coverage it wouldn't be Christmas without the usual seasonal run of stories on how Bethlehem's Christians are suffering because of Israel. These stories will occasionally admit that the number of Christians dropped drastically under the Palestinian Authority, not under Israeli rule, but this doesn't stop them from running the usual smear campaign.
The Wall Street Journal (via Debbie Schlussel) has an excellent rebuttal
Meet Yussuf Khoury, a 23-year old Palestinian refugee living in the West Bank. Unlike those descendents of refugees born in United Nations camps, Mr. Khoury fled his birthplace just two years ago. And he wasn't running away from Israelis, but from his Palestinian brethren in Gaza.
Mr. Khoury's crime in that Hamas-ruled territory was to be a Christian, a transgression he compounded in the Islamists' eyes by writing love poems.
"Muslims tied to Hamas tried to take me twice," says Mr. Khoury, and he didn't want to find out what they'd do to him if they ever kidnapped him. He hasn't seen his family since Christmas 2007 and is afraid even to talk to them on the phone.
Speaking to a group of foreign journalists in the Bethlehem Bible College where he is studying theology, Mr. Khoury describes a life of fear in Gaza. "My sister is under a lot of pressure to wear a headscarf. People are turning more and more to Islamic fundamentalism and the situation for Christians is very difficult," he says.
In 2007, one year after the Hamas takeover, the owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore was abducted and murdered. Christian shops and schools have been firebombed. Little wonder that most of Mr. Khoury's Christian friends have also left Gaza.
On the rare occasion that Western media cover the plight of Christians in the Palestinian territories, it is often to denounce Israel and its security barrier. Yet until Palestinian terrorist groups turned Bethlehem into a safe haven for suicide bombers, Bethlehemites were free to enter Israel, just as many Israelis routinely visited Bethlehem.
The other truth usually ignored by the Western press is that the barrier helped restore calm and security not just in Israel, but also in the West Bank including Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity, which Palestinian gunmen stormed and defiled in 2002 to escape from Israeli security forces, is now filled again with tourists and pilgrims from around the world.
But even here in Jesus' birthplace, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Christians live on a knife's edge. Mr. Khoury tells me that Muslims often stand in front of the gate of the Bible College and read from the Quran to intimidate Christian students. Other Muslims like to roll out their prayer rugs right in Manger Square.
Always a minority religion among the predominantly Muslim Palestinians, Christians are, Mr. Qumsieh says, "melting away," even in Bethlehem. While they represented about 80% of the city's population 60 years ago, their numbers are now down to about 20%, a result not just of Muslims' higher birth rates but also widespread Christian emigration. "Our future as a Christian community here is gloomy," Mr. Qumsieh says.
This kind of "honest reporting" however is a rarity among the usual roll call of pieces attacking Israel, while giving Fatah and Hamas terrorists a pass.
The majority of the stories blame Israel for "scaring away" tourists, not the terrorists, whose latest attack murdered a father of 7 yesterday.
Israel has been accused of deliberately impoverishing Bethlehem by ensuring tourists visiting the town spend as little as possible.
Palestinian officials say they have been prevented from benefiting from a record 1.4 million foreign visitors to the occupied West Bank's most important tourist attraction.
They say Israeli tour guides play on tourists' fears by warning them that they face danger as soon as they enter the area.
And they do face danger as soon as they enter the area, because they're entering territory effectively run by a terrorist organization with no independent judiciary or legal government, whose police force doubles as a terrorist militia.
As visitors draw close to the city from nearby Jerusalem, they encounter Israel's separation wall, built in 2003 to protect against terrorist attacks, and checkpoints manned by soldiers.
''When tourists see the wall, they think they are going into a war zone,'' said Adnan Suboh, who owns a souvenir shop in the souk. ''They are afraid.''
Possibly Adnan should be taking his complaint to the terrorists who run the area and continue to carry out terrorist attacks, thereby turning it into a war zone. Or perhaps the foreign diplomats and reporters who enable them.
Israeli officials said they have done everything possible to encourage tourists to go to Bethlehem as a way of promoting peace. Rafa Ben-Hur, the deputy director-general of the Israeli tourism ministry, said: ''If we didn't encourage people to come to Bethlehem from Jerusalem, I don't think you would see the numbers you have now.''
He said the reason tourists stayed for such a short time was because of a lack of attractions in the city.
The bottom line is that if the locals wanted to keep tourists there, they could. Anyone coming to Bethlehem has already spent a good deal of money to get there. They're open to staying around. The reasons they don't want are directly connected to Fatah.
Naturally the Guardian is still running the usual Pro-Hamas propaganda pieces, one from Austen Ivereigh, the disgraced former press secretary to the Archbishop of Westminster, who was forced to resign after the Daily Mail revealed that Austen Ivereigh had an affair that caused his girlfriend to have an abortion.
Austen Ivereigh's defense at the time was: "When I represent the Church's teaching on abortion, there was no hypocrisy on my part. To say that abortion is the taking of human life is not to condemn anyone who has had one."
This kind of bizarre moral double standard however has not stopped Austen Ivereigh from condemning Israel and going from the press secretary to the Archbishop of Westminster, to being the press secretary to an Islamist terrorist group.
Within spitting distance of the very spot Jesus Christ was born is one of the world's great monstrosities, "a symbol of everything wrong with the human heart" as the Archbishop of Canterbury described it when he saw it for himself.
Naturally this quote does not go on Saudi Arabia's dehumanizing treatment of women, Hamas talking about bringing back crucifixion, or you know, bullying a woman into having an abortion... No it's about Israel's passive border defenses against Islamic terrorism.
Walls don't just divide: they corrupt the soul, allowing myths to suppurate. One is that Christians are being "driven out" by Islamic extremism. What nonsense. They have coexisted peacefully with Muslims for centuries, and the Hamas government has done nothing to disenfranchise the Palestinian Christian population.
Of course, peaceful co-existance. But one might be driven to ask why a former Christian region became a Muslim one? Was it the sudden enthusiasm for Christians to convert to Islam.
And what shall we say of the peaceful co-existence represented by the Assyrian Holocaust and the Armenian genocide? Nonsense, indeed. Perhaps Austen Ivereigh should go ask the dead how well they co-existed with their murderers.
Bethlehem is shuttered and depressed not because of Koran-wielding thugs but because the wall has smashed its economy... Jerusalem, Bethlehem's lifeline, a mere 20-minute drive away, is now barred to West Bank Arabs; unemployment in Bethlehem is above 50 percent. That strangulation, and that alone, is the reason why Christians make up just a third of the district's population. The wonder is that so many stay.
Of course playing his part to the hilt, Austen Ivereigh completely ignores why the area under Palestinian control is cut off, because of Islamic terrorism.
But let's say that Bethlehem's decline was caused purely by being cut off by the wall. Why then was Bethlehem's Christian population marginal even before the wall went up?
Furthermore if the problem is the wall, then why has only the Christian population decline, while the Muslim population increased. This is an even tougher question because Christians have tended to run local businesses, while Muslims are more likely to travel to work on construction in Jerusalem.
Clearly much as Austen Ivereigh would like to pretend otherwise, this is not about the wall. It's about Islam.
But let's hear it from the son of a Hamas leader himself, who became a Christian.
It takes a few seconds to digest this sight: The son of a Hamas MP who is also the most popular figure in that extremist Islamic organization, a young man who assisted his father for years in his political activities, has become a rank-and-file Christian. "I'm now called Joseph," he says at the outset.
"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."
Is that the justification for the suicide attacks?
"More than that. An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'"
And yet, in spite of the criticism of the place he left, California can't make the longings disappear.
"I miss Ramallah," he says. "People with an open mind. ... I mainly miss my mother, my brothers and sisters, but I know that it will be very difficult for me to return to Ramallah soon."
And there's the peaceful co-existance of Christians with Muslims in Iraq. Where they're co-existing so peacefully that Christmas has been canceled altogether. Now isn't that peaceful?
Christians in the Iraqi city have opted not to celebrate Christmas this year, since Ashura, a major Shi'ite day of mourning, falls on the same day. So out of "respect" for the local Shi'ites, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Imad Al Banna asked all Christians in Basra not to engage in any public celebration of Christmas, and not even to entertain guests or show any joy in the day.
Would Shi'ites curtail one of their celebrations to show similar "respect" to the Christians? Would they mute their joy on Eid al-Fitr if it began on Good Friday? And what would happen to these Christians if they failed to show this "respect"?
Meanwhile, Christians are still streaming out of Iraq in such large numbers that the ancient Christian community is on the verge of extinction. Islamic jihadists last week attacked churches and Christian schools in Mosul, with forty people killed in bomb attacks and random Christians targeted for violence on the streets. This is after jihadist violence late last year killed forty and drove 12,000 Christians from the area. "It is terrible," one Mosul Christian told the Times of London: : "Most of the Christians are staying at home, or when they go out they watch their backs." A member of another religious minority, the Yazidis, who lives in a Christian village remarked: "You cannot live in Mosul. Every day you find Christians being killed. Very few are still going to church. The women have to wear hijabs. They send someone first in a car to check if there is someone outside the church."
And in Egypt, Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights released a new report detailing rampant abuse of Christian women by Muslims: "Cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage are usually accompanied by acts of violence which include rape, beatings, deprivation of food and other forms of physical and mental abuse." John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International wrote a letter to Barack Obama about the treatment of Christian women, asking him to speak out and noting: "Trafficking of Christian women in Egypt is not a new phenomenon....But this problem has now reached boiling point within Egypt's Coptic community, which views it as symptomatic of a much broader pattern of religious persecution." But Obama, busy courting the good will of the Islamic world, is unlikely to say anything. And meanwhile, the State Department's 2009 report on international religious freedom noted that the Egyptian government often turns a blind eye to crimes committed against Copts -- and government officials have on occasion even participated in those crimes.
The Christians in Turkey are facing a similarly somber Christmas. "We are treated," said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, "as citizens of second class. We don't feel that we enjoy our full rights as Turkish citizens." Yet "we prefer to stay here, even crucified sometimes."...
...clearly Israel's wall is to blame for this. Not Islam.
And behind all the circuses, the phony posturing about Israeli checkpoints and the WALL (Horror of horrors, an actual wall) here is a reminder of why the wall is there. Why the checkpoints are there. Not apartheid or deliberate humiliation or some conspiracy... it's simple self-defense. And when that self-defense is relaxed, innocent people die.
Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai left the community of Einav at 4:30 PM Thursday and drove toward his home in Shavei Shomron. Terrorists in a car that overtook him opened heavy fire at him. Ten bullets hit Meir in the head. He was mortally wounded and died a few minutes later.
Thousands of people took part in the funeral of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai who was murdered Thursday by a Fatah terror squad. The funeral procession started out at 10:00 AM from the Shamgar Funeral Home and went to the cemetery at the Mount of Olives.
Chai (40) lived in Shavei Shomron for 14 years. He was married with seven children, the youngest of whom is two months old.
Minister Yaakov Neeman eulogized Rabbi Chai tearfully and paid tribute to his great virtue as a teacher of young children.
Samaria Regional Council Head Gershon Mesika said that “Rabbi Meir is a victim of the folly of the government of Israel. His murder is the result of the removal of checkpoints. Two weeks ago the main checkpoint between Shechem and Tulkarm was opened. The government of Israel preferred the Arab's fabric of life to the Jew's life.” Mentioning Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Mesika said: “I demand that you face the widow and orphans and ask forgiveness because you cannot say 'our hands did not spill this blood.'”
This is what happens when the checkpoints are removed. Terrorists use that as a chance to kill. And then the checkpoints go up again and the world cries tearfully for Israel to stop humiliating the poor oppressed Palestinians. And the checkpoints go down, and more people are murdered.
Over and over again.
And who killed Rabbi Meir Chai? Was it some small lone band of extremists condemned by moderate Muslims? Get real. He was killed by members of Fatah's security forces. The same police forces who provide "security" in Bethlehem.
The announcement by the Al Aksa Martyrs organization that its men are the ones who killed Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai raises some difficult questions, when one bears in mind that the United States assists the Fatah organization through military training under the supervision of Gen. Keith Dayto
Interviewed by Ben Bresky Thursday night, journalist David Bedein reminded Arutz Sheva's audience that the Al Aksa Martyrs formally joined Fatah's security forces at the Fatah convention in August. Fatah receives military training from US military forces with the full approval of Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Bedein noted that as a journalist, he recently submitted a query to the Minister of Defense and directed a similar question to the US authorities. In his queries he noted that despite their claims otherwise, the Al Aksa Martyrs are a terror group whose men receive financial aid which the US gives the group.
He has not received an answer to the query.
Bedein's description of the matter means that the United States (headed by President Barack Obama), with the Israeli government's passive agreement, has indirect responsibility for training and funding the terror force which murdered Rabbi Meir Chai.
This is what madness looks like. This is what appeasing terrorism looks like. And this is the least of the reasons why there is a wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
Because Bill Clinton insisted that Israel import tens of thousands of terrorists and give them an autonomous state inside its borders. Because 3 Presidents have supported, armed and trained the terrorists of that terrorist state known as the Palestinian Authority. And 5 Israel Prime Ministers have done their part too, to enable the "moderate" terrorists over the "extremist" terrorists.
That is why no one is safe in Israel anymore. That is why there are checkpoints and guards and walls. A fact that the usual mix of liberal Churches who wail over Bethlehem will never acknowledge or admit.
Here meanwhile is how the avatar of the liberal press, the New York Times via the AP covered the story of the murder of Rabbi Chai.
West Bank: Israeli Settler Killed
That's it. Israeli settler. Not father, not human being. Just "settler".
An Israeli man was shot to death in the West Bank on Thursday. A little-known militant group identifying itself as a faction of the Fatah movement of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, claimed responsibility for the attack, in an e-mail message to journalists. Israel Radio identified the victim as a 45-year-old resident of a nearby Israeli settlement. Christmas celebrations proceeded without incident in Bethlehem.
Isn't it wonderful that they proceeded without incident.
The murder of Rabbi Chai furthermore takes place in the context of Israel accepting a 10 month settlement building freeze on the area, as a "confidence building" measure for the Palestinian Authority, which not only did not return to the negotiating table, but exploited Israel's relaxation of checkpoints to commit murder.
Will this stop the freeze? I rather doubt it.
In other news, there's a suspicious fireworks incident abroad a plane traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit, one of America's largest Muslim areas. Of course there's no way to know the identity or whether this was intended to cause any harm, but it should be on our radar.
A passenger on a Northwest Airlines flight Friday from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, caused a brief disturbance at the end of the trip by igniting several firecrackers, according to a Delta Air Lines spokeswoman.
The passenger was immediately subdued, according to Susan Elliott, spokeswoman for Delta, Northwest's parent company.
The incident resulted in some minor injuries, Elliott said.
The good news is that the passengers, even in 2009, still reacted immediately.
Meanwhile Atlas comments on the story of the Taliban Christmas video. The timing of course is no accident at all.
The Muslims Against Sharia blog has Alan Caruba's response to Jimmy Carter's non-apology apology.
The news of the day before Christmas is that former President Jimmy Carter has apologized for anything he has said or done to offend America’s Jewish community and presumably around the world.
The news was welcomed by the national director of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation league, Abraham Foxman, who said that it was “incumbent for us to accept” the apology, but Foxman does not speak for me or for the American Jewish community.
I do not accept the apology and neither should anyone who holds the state of Israel as the fulfillment of a 2,000 year old dream of return to the land in which Judaism took root and flourished through exiles and dispersion.
My reasoning is that Carter has spoken only with the prospect that his grandson, Jason, is anticipated to run for public office in Georgia in a congressional district with what is reported as “a vocal Jewish population.” It’s politics. It’s not a confession of the heart. Jason hailed the apology as a “great step towards reconciliation”, but I suggest that it is deeds, not words, that matter.
I also have nothing but contempt for Foxman, who is mainly interested in getting his name in the paper at every opportunity. I have very little interest in Carter's apologies, like most Jews I want him to simply leave us alone. And that's clearly not something he has any interest in doing. His attempt to form a phony common ground through sanctimonious religious language is all too typical of the hypocritical piety of his presidency. And we've had enough of it.
Debbie Schlussel is just as disdainful of Carter's apology. Carter's views don't necessarily reflect on his grandson, but neither is the association a comfortable one.
The Baron at Gates of Vienna wonders if it isn't the economic downturn in Dubai that's getting to him.
At Sheikyermani, India's Home minister tells us what we knew all along. Religion of peace, my ass.
And then there's this issue. A couple of months ago I wrote about Michelle Malkin's site posting an anti-semitic Vdare article in the Buzzworthy section. I wrote it off as a possible accident, but it's happened again. And this time the content is much less ambiguous.
I am a little baffled, because Malkin's position has generally been pro-Israel, which makes it odd that she would link to a hatefilled pro-terrorist rant from 9/11 Truther, Paul Craig Roberts. At the time I wrote her an email, without ever receiving a response. Maybe the Buzzworthy section is produced by some random feed selection. But the title would seem to indicate otherwise.
And this is a problem that would not exist if Malkin was not associated with the Vdare site in the first place, a site that's tough on immigration, but otherwise slightly to the left of David Duke and far to the right of even Buchanan. This isn't a question of PC. This is allying yourself with the men in the peaked white caps whose views on Islamic terrorism are often virtually indistinguishable from the far left.
At Tundra Tabloids there's an important essay on the paralyzing effect of so-called moderate Islamism
If we look at the concept, it becomes apparent that Islamism - with it's many different names like radical Islam, political Islam, or militant Islam - is just a made-up concept created in the west for the purpose of supporting another, equally imaginary concept called moderate Islam - also known as true Islam or worldly Islam.
It is obvious that these two imaginary concepts were created together, as a pair, as neither of them can exist without the other. However, as both of the concepts support each other, it is clear that moderate Islam is the actual concept that is at the heart of this whole thing, and that the concept of Islamism is created to support the concept of moderate Islam.
After all, Islamism is just a word that was made up for the aspects inside Islam that we don't agree with in the west: For example, even as the Quran tells him do so, if a Muslim kills infidels, it is Islamism. On the other hand, if a Muslim that treats other Muslims well, as advised in the Quran, he is practicing the so-called true, or moderate Islam.
In other words, everything in Islam that is not compatible with western values is Islamism - and everything else in Islam is moderate Islam.
The only problem is that we can not divide Islam in this way: Islam is a religion that is based on holy scriptures and these holy scriptures simply contain what they contain - everything they contain is Islam, regardless of how we categorize it in the west.
At Israpundit, Bill Levinson asks, What if Obama's Policies Lead to a Nuclear Holocaust
At Reflexiones, Ana has a Spanish language translation of my article on the Macabees and Chanukah
The New Centrist remembers a real life hero, Bernard Goetz
On this day twenty-five years ago, Bernhard Goetz pulled the trigger on four thugs who were about to rob him. For some, this made him an outlaw, a criminal, even a “racist”. For others, a hero.
The hero of myth overcomes outrageous odds stacked against him. He takes a negative situation and turns it into something positive. Perhaps most of all, he transforms a personal tribulation into a universal aspiration.
Unlike the heroes of antiquity, heroes in the American context do not come from the elite classes. They are not demi-gods, blessed at birth. Rather, they are common everyday folks. What makes them heroic is not the facts of their ancestry but how they respond to adversity.
NYC in the 1984 was not only a different time, it was almost a different place. Sure I realize many of my friends recall the 80s for the punk shows at CBGB’s, the squats, and the LES before it became a magnet for yuppies. They miss the rough edges of the city. But for most citizens, the 80s were a time of grime, decay, and criminality, a city that was on the brink of throwing up its hands and saying “I give up”. Yet there were some who willing to fight back. As Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) stated in Taxi Driver, “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
Enter Bernhard Goetz. He stood up and proclaimed “Enough!” He fought back. And for that courageous act he earned the praise of many working-class New Yorkers whether white, black, Latino or Asian.
It is crazy that people fail to realize what kept Bernie from getting robbed or killed that night. It was not the cops. It was not 911. It was not the next man. It was his desire to not be a victim. That makes him a hero. Don’t ever forget that.
And that is a model for all of us.
Finally, the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors has a campaign on behalf of UN Watchdogs targeted by the UN.
There is a sample letter, and more information at CJHS's Facebook page and Twitter account. I urge you to take a closer look, because if the UN can silence UN watchdog groups and figures such as Anne Bayefsky, they will operate completely immune from accountability.
On November 5th the Security Office of UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon forcefully stripped Anne Bayefsky of her credentials after she
spoke out against the UN's anti-Israel and pro-Hamas Goldstone Report
resolution. Bayefsky had long been one of the few genuine critics and
watchdogs inside the building, often eliciting anger because for her
vocal support of Israel and her opposition to General Assembly
resolutions outlawing criticism of extremist Islam.
As director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at
New York's Touro College, Bayefsky heads a US NGO entitled to access
at the UN. Now she is waiting on the UN Committee on Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGOs), a
committee chaired by Sudan, a human rights abuser, to decide if she
will be allowed future access to UN proceedings. Her original
"violation" has yet to be clarified, ranging from "the Palestinian
Ambassador is very upset at the statement you made" to pretexts about
the credentials of her assistants.
President Obama has promised to "engage in the work of improving the
UN human rights system." But instead of fighting for free speech and
access for American NGO's, the State Department and US Ambassador to
the UN Susan Rice have allowed Bayefsky's status to remain in limbo
while a group chaired by Sudan decides her fate.
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors cannot not sit silently by
while the few genuine human rights advocates in the UN are silenced.
Please join us in demanding support for Bayefsky’s immediate
reinstatement by contacting your U.S. Representative or Senator,
especially if they are members of the Committees on Foreign Relations
charged with overseeing the State Department and our UN mission. Time
is of the essence and we urge you to act now.