Thursday, May 21, 2015

Christians, The Pope and Falestine

By recently deciding to recognize the "State of Palestine" the Vatican has chosen to acknowledge a "country" which has no functional authority in Gaza and no particular interest in protecting Christians in the West Bank, as its mediator.

In the last census conducted by the British mandatory authorities in 1947, there were 28,000 Christians in Jerusalem. The census conducted by Israel in 1967 (after the Six Day War) showed just 11,000 Christians remaining in the city. This means that some 17,000 Christians (or 61%) left during the days of King Hussein's rule over Jerusalem. Their place was filled by Muslim Arabs from Hebron. During the British mandate period, Bethlehem had a Christian majority of 80%. Today, under Palestinian rule, it has a Muslim majority of 80%. So where have all the Christian's gone to if life under the Falestinian leadership is so pleasant?

According to recent data there are between 36,000-50,000 Christians living in the Falestinian Authority, most of whom belong to the Orthodox (Greek Orthodox and Arab Orthodox) and Catholic (including Melchite) churches. The majority of Falestinian Christians live in the area of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Nablus.
Due to increased Islamic influence-as evidenced in the Iranian backed Hamas terrorist group, few Christians remain in the Palestinian-controlled parts of the West Bank. Those who can - emigrate, and there will soon be virtually no Christians in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas. The Palestinian Authority is trying to conceal the fact of massive Christian emigration from areas under its control.

At one time there were once some 3,200 Christians living in the Gaza Strip. Many were wealthy and highly educated. They were profession people, doctors, lawyers and prosperous businessmen. At one time in the past during the season Christians could openly display Christmas trees and decorations. With the rise of Hamas and the Islamic extremists they have banned any celebration in Gaza during the traditional Christian holiday period from Christmas through New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

With the election of the Hamas to power and it's violent Gaza takeover in June 2007, Muslim extremists have attacked and burned copies of the New Testament, ransacked and destroyed the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church in Gaza City.  The YMCA library in Gaza was blown up and all 8,000 books were destroyed or stolen. In 2011, Hamas cancelled Christmas, banning festivities and crucifixes.The increased number of attacks on Gaza’s Christians caused many to fear for their lives. “Christians can’t openly wear their crosses outside. In the streets, because of the pressure, our women have started to cover their heads like the Muslims. Our people have become afraid,” explained Reverend Hanna Massad, pastor of the Gaza Baptist Church. “There is pressure and discrimination on all levels for all of the Christians in Gaza.” “We don’t feel safe. There’s no security here.” The failure of Hamas to fully investigate the incidents of Islamic violence against the Christian population, as well as others in the past, are serious cause for concern for those remaining Christian residents of the Gaza Strip.

The turning point in the hatred towards Christians in Gaza was the cold-blooded murder of 29 year old Rami Ayyad who owned a religious bookstore in Gaza. Ayyad was married with two small children. He had been accused of proselytizing by Moslems. He was found shot in the head and brutally stabbed multiple times just 10 hours after he was kidnapped from his store. He had been involved in numerous charitable organizations and was also a member of the Baptist Church. His store and charity organization, the Bible Society, had been a frequent target of Muslim extremists. A grenade was thrown at the building during protests over the publication of a Danish cartoon that depicted the prophet Mohammed. Ayyad had also received continuous death threats for his perceived missionary work.  After his murder twelve of Ayyad’s bookstore employees, fled to the West Bank to escape further violence. Their escape created a motion for the Christian community in Gaza to flee in mass to the West Bank and abroad.
After Ayyad's murder the Islamic leaders in Gaza began the strict enforcement of Sharia Laws mandating Islamic dress codes for all women in Gaza. Hamas has banned wine, including wine for communion.

In the area of the "Falestinian Authority" there are near-daily occurrences of sexual harassment of Christian women by Muslim men. One such incident reported by Christian sources occurred in 2001, when a former commander of Arafat’s Tanzim militia attempted to rape two Christian teenage sisters from the West Bank village of Beit Jallah. When they tried to refuse him, he murdered them both. The following year, another of Arafat’s commanders in the al-Aksa Bridages raped a Christian woman in Beit Shahur.

With the rise of Islamic influences in the Hamas, forced conversions by Muslim men has become more routine. A young 16-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped from her home in Bethlehem in 2007 and brought to a Muslim village near Hebron. When her priest and family finally located her, they found her dressed head to toe in Muslim garb and said she had converted to Islam. A gunfight broke when her family attempted to take her from the house where she was staying. “It was a real war,” said Faise Omar, the father of the man who brought the girl to the village. “It was not just a war over the couple. It was a war between Muslims and Christians.”

Another incident that took place in the Gaza Strip involved, Sana al-Sayegh a Christian professor, who teaches at Palestine Univerity in Gaza City. She was kidnapped by members of Hamas and forced against her will to convert to Islam in June 2007. It was reported that the President of the university, Dr. Zaher Khail as well as Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, assisted the armed militiamen in their operation.

Hamas, which has run its own government in Gaza since 2007, is at war with the PA, but the Vatican needs someone other than Hamas to be responsible for the tiny group of Christians in Gaza to protect “essential life” for the Church.

Palestinian Christians in the West Bank are being threatened by Islamic extremists as well. With the withdrawal of Israeli forces as part of the Oslo accords and the designation of many populated areas as those under "Palestinian Authority. Years of prosperity from Israel-based tourists combining visits to Jerusalem and Bethlehem vanished overnight. The city of Jesus’s birth has suffered economically as a result of the “Second Intifada.” (During that period, residents of the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo were frequently fired on by Yasser Arafat’s gunmen ensconced in the Christian suburb of Beit Jalah.) There has since been out-migration of the Christian population from Bethlehem, and Muslims have moved in to become an increasing majority of its residents. Of late, Hamas has spent considerable money in the city, improving its standing; and radical Islamists are represented on the local council.

So what was "really" behind this move by the Pope? Evidently the Vatican needs to worry about Christians in the region who are being murdered in increasing numbers inIraq and Syria. The Vatican can't talk to ISIS or Syria or Iran, so it chose to use their influence on the Christian members of the "Falestinian Authority"  “State of Palestine” to take a stand for the “essential life of the Church.”

Meanwhile in Israel, enlistment in the Israeli Army from the Christian population has been on the rise, with 84 new recruits between July and December of 2013. Altogether there were approximately 140 Christians serving in the IDF, with another 400 in the reserves. Father Gabriel Naddaf from Nazareth, who established the Forum for Christian Enlistment to the IDF and one of the most active advocates of Christian- Arab enlistment, welcomed the step and said he was certain it would help increase the numbers of Christian youth volunteering for service.

During operation Protective Edge in July 2014, an Israeli-Arab Christian demonstration was held in Haifa in a protest in support of Israel and the IDF and against Islamic extremism in the Middle East due to the expansion of the Islamic State .

In direct contradiction to the charges of  "Apartheid" leveled at Israel one need merely consider the facts that Christian Arabs are one of the most educated groups in Israel. The Israeli newspaper Maariv has described the Christian Arabs sectors as "the most successful in education system", since Christian Arabs fared the best in terms of education in comparison to any other group receiving an education in Israel. Christian Arabs have one of the highest rates of success in the matriculation examinations, (64%) both in comparison to the Muslims and the Druze and in comparison to all students in the Jewish education system as a group. Arab Christians were also the vanguard in terms of eligibility for higher education and they have attained a bachelor's degree and academic degree more than the median Israeli population. The rate of students studying in the field of medicine was also higher among the Christian Arab students, compared with all the students from other sectors. the percentage of Arab Christian women who are higher education students is higher than other sectors.

In September 2014, Israel's interior minister signed an order that the Aramean Christian minority in Israel could register as Arameans rather than Arabs. The order will not only affect more than 200 families who have resided in Israel but it will affect those who escaped to Israel from Lebanon as well.

Peace for Palestine or How to negotiate with "Taqiya"? ‎

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius  is pushing forward with France's Middle East peace initiative. The French plan stipulates the formation of a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 "lines", with swaps of mutually agreed upon lands similar in size, while taking into account Israel's security needs.The French are seeking to achieve a "just, sustainable and global solution" to the conflict. On top of all this there is the implied threat that "If a two-state solution is not reached by the end of the 18 months of talks, France will announce it is officially recognizing the State of Palestine."

Now let us look back at two previous "milestones" in the sad history of attempts at peace with the Falestinians. In doing so let us try to fathom the terrible naivete of the the leaders of the western world then and especially know when dealing with the "Orient".

I will begin with the saying from the Koran concerning "Truth"
"O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of remorse for what ye have done. (Koran, Sura 49:6)"
Now for the question; "Why did the leader of the PLO better know as the FLNO (Falestinian Losers of the Nachbah Organization) Yasser Arafat suddenly decide, in 1988, that Israel had a right to exist? "
What was the real truth? 

The sudden recognition of Israel by Arafat in 1988 was a perfect example of the Islamic method of deception. Westerners who understand Islamic deception often refer to "Taqiya" as being the tactic of lying in order to guard the faith. Sunni Muslim apologists counter that "Taqiya" is a Shiite doctrine, "Taqiya" (تقیة taqiyyah/taqīyah) is a form of religious lie. While accusing Shiites of being rabblerousers who sanction “mut’a” (pleasure marriage), which is nothing more than prostitution. A similar concept in Sunni Islam is known as idtirar (إضطرار) "coercion". A related concept is known as kitman "concealment; dissimulation by omission". Also related is the concept of "ḥiyal", legalistic deception practiced not necessarily in a religious context but to gain political or legalistic advantage.
We can readily see in today's press announcements by European governments that Arafat overwhelmingly succeeded with "Taqiya" as outlined in his "Negation of Israel Plan" which he expressed the real truth of his and the intentions of the Falestinians  in his Speech to the UN General Assembly on the 13th of November 1974.

Following Arafat's successful UN speech Secretary of State Henry Kissinger formulated the US Government's original policy towards the PLO in 1975 which was to refuse to deal with the PLO until it accepted certain conditions. These conditions for US contact with the Falestinians were set by Kissinger in a 1975 US-Israel memorandum of agreement. Kissinger promised that the United States:
"Will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO as long as the PLO does not recognize Israel's right to exist and does not accept Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."
This 1975 memorandum--and later the Camp David accords--preconditioned any party's participation at a future peace conference on "the agreement of all the initial participants." This action was done so that Israel could veto the presence of the PLO. In later years, US Presidents frequently reiterated this commitment. In 1985 Congress passed, and President Reagan signed a law codifying them and adding that the Falestinians had to renounce the use of terrorism before the United States would "recognize or negotiate with [it]. Something which Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama Administration have quite conveniently overlooked. 

The leaders of the Western governments viewed these preconditions as a means to exclude a radical, terrorist organization from any negotiations and to use US leverage to press the Falestinian people toward moderation. Their objective was to have the Falestinian leadership show that it had genuinely changed its position so as to make possible to include them in future talks for successful and stable settlement. However Arafat and the Falestinian leadership as usual had no interest in changing its primary methods of operation, as they continued to use violent barbaric coldblooded murder of civilians which are the cornerstone of Falestinian terrorism.

By the late 1980s, after their ignominious defeat and retreat from Lebanon, the Falestinians found themselves marginalized and forced to operate from Tunisia, far from the borders of Israel. When the "First Intifada" uprising began on 9 December 1987, in the Jabalia refugee camp against the Israeli "occupation of the Palestinian Territories". The "First Intifada" caught Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) by total surprise.  Palestine Liberation Organisation leadership abroad could only indirectly influence the events.  The uprising was predominantly led by community councils led by; Hanan Ashrawi, Faisal Husseini and Haidar Abdel-Shafithe. The Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU)  comprised many leading Palestinian factions including the PLO's rivals  the Islamic organizations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Sari Nusseibeh recorded the birth of the UNLU in a 1989 article:-

"For two weeks the fire [of the revolt] in almost unfathomable proportions. Even the local grassroots committees, activists and leaders were caught off guard...The first underground leaflets of the intifada made a shy appearance...The Communiqués No. 2 of the Intifada appeared. Rumors have it that it was at this stage, through consultations with, and with the aid and blessing of Abu Jihad [Fatah second in command Khalil Wazir], that the Unified Command was conceived and created... Communiqués No. 3 enshrining the birth of the Unified Command appeared. The uprising leaflets suddenly took on a special format, which continues to exist till this day." Peace negotiations were in the air, but to participate Arafat and the FLNO came to recognize that they had to satisfy the United States' pre-conditions."

During the Shultz Peace Plan initiative in early 1988, the US was firm in blocking Falestinian participation until the minimal conditions were met. There was a danger to the PLO that Jordan would lead the Falestinians at the proposed talks. Arafat acted on two fronts: he made sure no Falestinians would participate in the Shultz talks and he started a process that would meet the US conditions. By late 1988, Yasser Arafat believed that nothing was going to happen in the Middle East without the US and, somewhat overstated, he believed that the US could pressure Israel into an agreement they might not otherwise accept.

Yasser Arafat and the Falestinian Leadership rushed to establish secret channels and intermediaries to contact the US Leadership. Tired of the constant bickering with the Falestinians that had begun under his Grandfather King Abdullah's failed attempt to annex the area and to receive recognition from 1948 through 1967. King Hussein of Jordan decided to "wash his hands" of the "West Bank". He therefore proclaimed the administrative and legal separation of the West Bank from Jordan in 1988. Thereby creating a serious legal vacuum in the cause of the Falestinians to the ownership of the Mandated Territory claimed by the Jews as Judea and Samaria.

The reaction of successive Israeli governments to the Falestinian refusal to negotiate a peace settlement lead to increased Israeli construction of  residential communities called "settlements" by those who are ignorant of the true status of the area.
The area of Judea and Shomron the “West Bank”, were illegally conquered and seized ‎‎by Jordan in 1947. And according to International Law since it was conquered and occupied by Jordan from 1947-1967 ‎therefore it was “terra nullius” or "land belonging to no one". Therefore the “Palestinians” never ‎had sovereignty over the “West ‎Bank” or East Jerusalem.‎
What is also neglected is that the area had been recognized as a cestui sue trust  for the Jewish Homeland ‎‎in April, 1922 in the Treaty of Sèvres (Section VII, Art 94-97) by 52 countries at the San Remo ‎‎Conference which granted the Palestine Mandate to Britain. The League of Nations officially ‎‎granted Britain the Palestine Mandate on July 24, 1922.‎
Jewish communities that existed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip prior to 1919 were ‎‎recognized as legitimate according to the League of Nations resolution for the establishment of the Mandate for ‎‎Palestine, ‎
In light of the withdrawal of Jordan in 1988 Jewish "settler" population in the West Bank alone nearly doubled from 35,000 in 1984 to 64,000 in 1988, reaching 130,000 by the mid nineties.  A previous Israeli minister of Economics and Finance, Gad Ya'acobi, once stated that "a creeping process of de facto annexation" contributed to the growing militancy in Palestinian society.

The secret channels now became extremely important to the future demands of the Falestinians to their portion of the "Mandated Territories" beyond the 1949 Rhodes Armistice Green Line and the June 1967 ceasefire lines.  These diplomatic lines were used to establish acceptable language for the PLO to use to satisfy the United States. Arafat's next attempt to publically meet the US conditions was in the Algiers Declaration of the Palestinian National Council in November 1988, a document based on the policy revisions discussed in the Cairo Declaration of November 7, 1985. Examining the Algiers declaration, the US government concluded that it fell short  of the required since the document did not explicitly recognize Israel's right to exist and was ambiguous on accepting the two UN resolutions and on terrorism. On November 26, 1988, Shultz rejected Arafat's request for a visa to address the UN in New York because of the PLO's continued involvement in terrorism against Americans.

As the secret channel discussions continued, during that November of 1988. A message giving a presidential pledge to start a dialogue should the PLO meet the 1975 preconditions was sent by National Security Advisor Colin Powell through a private individual meeting with PLO officials in Stockholm. Meeting with American Jewish activists there, Arafat hinted at willingness to meet this standard.
In early December, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, in New York for the visit of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, expressed the American unhappiness and said the Stockholm statement was not sufficient but again said there would be an immediate dialogue if Arafat did so...
"The United States, he said, had ''for a long time certain set things that we have said must be said by the PLO.'' He had only a brief report of the Stockholm meeting, he said, but ''so far as it's been reported to me, they haven't met these conditions.''.

At the meeting in Algiers, Arafat would not say whether the Palestinian council's declaration represented recognition of Israel or not. Arafat said: ''Its significance is that it is an accurate reading and interpretation of the Falestine National Council declaration made in Algiers,'' declaring that it was ''clear and unambiguous.'' Though some Falestinian hard-liners said it did not. There was no public explanation of why Yasser Arafat was willing to say in Stockholm what he had declined to say in Algiers. Nor was there any indication of how his Stockholm remarks would be received in Arab countries.

When Secretary of State Shultz refused to give Yasser Arafat a visa to enter the United States, on the grounds that as chairman of the PLO, he was an accessory to terrorism, the UN General Assembly voted to meet in Geneva, Switzerland. Arafat secretly pledged to the United States that he would fulfill its conditions in his December 13, 1988 address. As usual Arafat broke this promise and the United States found his statement unsatisfactory. Arafat went further at a press conference the next day,in order to not miss out by, saying, "Our desire for peace is strategic and not a temporary tactic." He then continued by going down a checklist of those points the Falestinians Leadership had agreed to:
  • The PLO accepted UN Resolution 242
  • The PLO promised recognition of Israel
  • The PLO renounced terrorism
Arafat concluded:
“We want peace...we are committed to peace, and we want to live in our Palestinian state and let others live. Arafat said this because it had to convince the United States Government that it has truly embarked on a course of moderation, favoring negotiation over acts of violence in order to be invited to any meaningful peace talks.”

So after Arafat's lie about the PLO's public pledge of a policy change, Secretary of State George Shultz quickly announced that the US conditions had been met thus allowing for a US-PLO dialogue to begin in Tunis. Those talks ultimately led to the 1991 Madrid Conference.

The Oslo Accords letters of recognition

The Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization and the letters of recognition: 

These three letters set the stage for what were in reality the "preamble" to, the Oslo Accords of September 13, 1993 The Oslo Accords  were a "Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements".  
So why did the leader of the PLO Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat suddenly decide to issue the Letters? 
The answer is that these letters are part of the "Negation of Israel Plan" devised by Arafat in 1974 and a further perfect example of the Islamic method of deception often referred to “Taquiya” or the tactic of lying in order to "hide the truth".

1: Letter from Yasser Arafat to Prime Minister Rabin

September 9, 1993
Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Prime Minister,

The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel's right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.

Yasser Arafat.
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.

2: Letter from Chairman Arafat to Norway's Foreign Minister

September 9, 1993
His Excellency: Johan Jorgen Holst
Foreign Minister of Norway.

Dear Minister Holst,

I would like to confirm to you that, upon the signing of the Declaration of Principles, the PLO encourages and calls upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to take part in the steps leading to the normalization of life, rejecting violence and terrorism, contributing to peace and stability and participating actively in shaping reconstruction, economic development and cooperation.

Yasser Arafat.
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.

3: Letter from Prime Minister Rabin to Chairman Yasser Arafat

September 9, 1993
Yasser Arafat
Chairman: The Palestine Liberation Organization.

Mr. Chairman,

In response to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.

Yitzhak Rabin.
Prime Minister of Israel.

There had been a working assumption in the United States that Arafat's declaration of December 1988, in which he grudgingly recognized Israel and renounced terrorism, had signified a long-term change in PLO policy, and was not just tactical. Yet the inflamed rhetoric and violent activities of the PLO continued while Arafat talked peace. The US government was very reluctant to publically denounce the PLO for this duplicity lest the hard-won peace process be derailed. 

This US unwillingness to confront not just the outright lies and deception of the Palestinian Leadership whose Chairman pledged; "...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence" but that they "...will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators." has had the effect of putting Israel on the defensive.

Israeli actions to fight not only PLO terror but terror from the Hamas in Gaza has not been seen in the proper context because the US and the Europeans consistently refuse to acknowledge the Falestinian commitments; "renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence"  outlined in the letter's. The terrorism carried out by the Falestinians and Hamas are directly juxtaposed to those commitments demanded of Israel and they are the main point for the lack of any trust in any future peace initiative.
"The international community and the media often ignore the fact that Fatah has a number of armed groups that are still openly dedicated to the "armed struggle" and terrorism as a way of "liberating Palestine." They also ignore that "moderate" Fatah leaders who speak in favor of peace and the two-state solution do not distance themselves from these groups. Several Fatah leaders, in fact, often speak in English about the need for reviving the peace process, while in Arabic they praise and endorse the Fatah gunmen.The presence of armed Fatah gangs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a sign of the huge challenges that any Palestinian leader would face if and when the Palestinians and Israel reach a peace agreement. Obviously, these Fatah groups will be the first to reject any peace agreement that includes the slightest concession to Israel. Some of these groups are opposed in principle to peace with Israel because they simply do not recognize Israel's right to exist.This is something that the international community -- first and foremost the U.S. -- needs to take into consideration when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Decision-makers need to know that opposition to peace with Israel will come not only from Hamas, but also from many groups within Fatah. As the armed groups themselves indicate, their fight is to eliminate "Zionist enemy" and achieve the "right of return" for millions of descendants of refugees to their former homes inside Israel.Meanwhile, Abbas and other Fatah leaders, who are fully aware of the actions and threats of their loyalists, are doing their utmost to stop the world from hearing what the Fatah gunmen have to say about peace and the two-state solution. The question remains: Until when will the international community continue to bury its head in the sand and pretend that Fatah is a unified, moderate and pragmatic group that seeks peace and coexistence with Israel on behalf of all Palestinians?" Khaled Abu Toameh
If the Falestinians want something they should only blame themselves and their leaders since now they want to pressure others to give them what they could have had in peace in November of 1947 and in 1993. Above all it is time for ALL those who want to force Israel into seeking a bad peace with the Falestinians to realize that a true Peace is a two way street achieved by fair negotiations between the two partners. And as seen in the past the Arabs will need to disregard the urge for "Taqiya" and to deal and negotiate truthfully.

As Abba Eban once stated after the Geneva Peace Conference with Arab countries (21 December 1973).; "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." This is often misquoted as "Palestinians" never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."