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Christian-Muslim relations in Palestine Gaza Baptist Church ceiling falling down                                                                                                               An overview of the Christian presence in Palestine The estimated number of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, buy calcium carbonate in us the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem is 51, buy calcium carbonate in us710, buy calcium carbonate in us making the percentage of the Palestinian Christians in the Occupied Territories two percent of the Palestinian population. Buy calcium carbonate in us There is, buy calcium carbonate in us in contrast, buy calcium carbonate in us a higher percentage of Christians in Israel. Buy calcium carbonate in us The percentage of the Arab Christians in Israel - including Israeli Occupied Jerusalem - is 1.66, buy calcium carbonate in us according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Buy calcium carbonate in us Bethlehem, buy calcium carbonate in us which traces its roots to the very origin of the Christian faith, buy calcium carbonate in us is the home to the highest percentage of Christians in Palestine (43.4%), buy calcium carbonate in us followed by Ramallah (24.7%), buy calcium carbonate in us then Jerusalem (17.9%). Christianity has a long standing history in Palestine, buy calcium carbonate in us and Palestinian Christians belong to several traditional communities of faith. Buy calcium carbonate in us The first are the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox churches, buy calcium carbonate in us the second is made up of the Syrian, buy calcium carbonate in us Coptic and Armenian Orthodox churches, buy calcium carbonate in us and a third category consists of those churches belonging to the Catholic family of churches. Buy calcium carbonate in us There are also a small but increasing number of evangelical churches, buy calcium carbonate in us including the Lutheran and Episcopal churches. Over the past century, buy calcium carbonate in us the percentage of Christian Palestinians has been in decline. Buy calcium carbonate in us The influx of Jewish immigrants since the late 1880s, buy calcium carbonate in us the Nakba of 1948 and the expulsions of 1967 played a big role in diminishing the presence of Palestinian Christians. Buy calcium carbonate in us During the Deir Yassin Massacre of 1948, buy calcium carbonate in us over a quarter of a million Palestinians, buy calcium carbonate in us many of them Christian, buy calcium carbonate in us were displaced or disappeared. Buy calcium carbonate in us Many of the 531 villages that were levelled in 1948 had a mix of Christian and Muslim inhabitants. Buy calcium carbonate in us To this day, buy calcium carbonate in us millions of Palestinians have been expelled from their lands, buy calcium carbonate in us and rendered homeless and as refugees. Buy calcium carbonate in us Of the remaining Palestinian Christians, buy calcium carbonate in us most of them have emigrated at an increasing rate from 1990 onwards, buy calcium carbonate in us because of lack of freedom and security and due to the deteriorating economic situation. A relationship of trust in the face of Israeli adversity Various Christian Zionist propaganda sources claim that the main problem for Palestinian Christians is their Muslim neighbours. The decline of Christian presence in Palestine is portrayed as the fault of Muslims and not of the illegal Israeli occupation.iii Christian Zionist tours to the Holy Land contribute towards the spread of this myth and frame the conflict in an anti-Muslim way in order to distract attention from Israel's continued violations of international law. Even though the relationship between Palestinian Christians and Muslims is not always a rosy one, buy calcium carbonate in us the above claims are far from true. Buy calcium carbonate in us Palestinian Christians are an indigenous, buy calcium carbonate in us integral part of the Arab Palestinian culture and civilization in the political, buy calcium carbonate in us historical and religious spheres. Buy calcium carbonate in us At the political level, buy calcium carbonate in us Palestinian Christians have been fellow citizens in the common struggle against foreign or colonial invasion, buy calcium carbonate in us regardless of its religious or ethnic identity. Buy calcium carbonate in us Many seats in the current Palestinian Legislative Council are held by Palestinian Christians. Buy calcium carbonate in us This amounts to more or less 8% of the seats, buy calcium carbonate in us whereas Christians only make up 2% of the population of the West Bank and Gaza. Buy calcium carbonate in us Similarly, buy calcium carbonate in us the Samaritans, buy calcium carbonate in us who number three hundred and twenty persons, buy calcium carbonate in us have one seat in the Council. Buy calcium carbonate in us Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are observed, buy calcium carbonate in us and Christians continue to be an integral part of the Arab Palestinian culture and civilization.  A relationship of peaceful coexistance is also found on the personal level. Buy calcium carbonate in us People from both religions visit each other during religious festivals, buy calcium carbonate in us and in Jerusalem schools run by Christian churches have a majority Muslim student population. Palestinian Christians, buy calcium carbonate in us like their Muslim counterparts, buy calcium carbonate in us have experienced a long history of dispossession and have not been immune to Israeli policies of occupation and discrimination. Buy calcium carbonate in us Not only do they have to deal with the day to day hardships that come with occupation, buy calcium carbonate in us but they are also dismayed by the fact that many of their fellow Christians in Europe and North America unquestionably support the Israeli regime. Buy calcium carbonate in us Western Christians (in particular American and Britain) have, buy calcium carbonate in us for a variety of reasons, buy calcium carbonate in us tended to show greater sympathy towards the state of Israel than towards the worsening condition of the Palestinian people. Buy calcium carbonate in us This alliance can be traced back as far as 1917, buy calcium carbonate in us when the United Kingdom issued the Balfour Declaration and established Palestine as a "national home for the Jewish people". Buy calcium carbonate in us More recently the Nixon administration in 1973 provided Israel with a full replacement of all its tanks, buy calcium carbonate in us planes and ammunition during the October War against Egypt and Syria. However, buy calcium carbonate in us Western Christian alliances with Israel go beyond a political alliance. Buy calcium carbonate in us Throughout the 20th Century there has been a significant influence of Christian theological attitudes toward Israel which has been devastating on the indigenous Palestinian Christian community. Buy calcium carbonate in us The rise of Evangelicalism and Christian fundamentalism has fermented the unquestionable support for the state of Israel. Buy calcium carbonate in us As was highlighted by the Pope earlier this month during his visit to Cyprus, buy calcium carbonate in us "the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories is creating difficulties in everyday life….moreover; certain Christian fundamentalist theologies use Sacred Scripture to justify Israel's occupation of Palestine." A 46-page text published by the Vatican: The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness" stresses how this fundamentalist theology is making the situation for Christian Arabs even more sensitive. Christian Zionist support for Israel is also manifested in the shape of pilgrimages to the Holy Land, buy calcium carbonate in us encouraged particularly by the Israeli Government Tourist Office.v This support has an objectionable consequence on the indigenous Palestinian Christian communities. Buy calcium carbonate in us Many of the Western pilgrims appear not only ignorant of recent Middle Eastern history, buy calcium carbonate in us but surprised to find an Arab Christian presence at all. Buy calcium carbonate in us Like their Muslim neighbours, buy calcium carbonate in us they are subject to daily experiences of humiliation at checkpoints and roadblocks and prevented from making pilgrimage to their Holy places of worship. Buy calcium carbonate in us Palestinian Christians are routinely prohibited from travelling to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, buy calcium carbonate in us where the church commemorates Jesus' crucifixion, buy calcium carbonate in us burial, buy calcium carbonate in us and resurrection from the dead, buy calcium carbonate in us whilst Palestinian Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza strip are prevented from travelling to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In December 2009, buy calcium carbonate in us a group of Palestinian Christians, buy calcium carbonate in us including Archbishop Michel Sabbah, buy calcium carbonate in us the retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem published "A Moment of Truth" , buy calcium carbonate in us a call for help to the international community on behalf of the Palestinian Christians. Buy calcium carbonate in us They severely criticised "theologians in the West who try to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the Israeli infringement of our rights, buy calcium carbonate in us urge for non violent resistance tools such as boycott and divestments and call for a stop on Israeli 'racism and apartheid'." In an interview with Sabbah earlier this year, buy calcium carbonate in us he clearly spoke on behalf of all the Christian Churches in Palestine when stating that "Israeli Occupation is the Main cause of Instability in the Middle East".vi Palestinian Christians and the Islamic resistance Contrary to what is propagated in the media, buy calcium carbonate in us the relationship between Christians and the Islamic resistance in Palestine is one of respect. Buy calcium carbonate in us Although tensions arise between the Christian minority and the rest of the population, buy calcium carbonate in us these are not the result of a systematic discrimination against them, buy calcium carbonate in us but are more due to the everyday anguish of the siege and occupation. With regard to the Islamic resistance Movement (Hamas), buy calcium carbonate in us Article 31 of its Charter specifically says, buy calcium carbonate in us "Hamas is a humane movement which cares for human rights and is committed to the tolerance inherent in Islam as regards attitudes towards other religions…under the shadow of Islam it is possible for the members of the three religions: Islam, buy calcium carbonate in us Christianity and Judaism to coexist in safety and security". An example of the coexistence is the situation of Palestinian Christians in Gaza, buy calcium carbonate in us contrary to the Israeli propaganda (hasbara). Buy calcium carbonate in us School playgrounds are places where coexistence between Muslims and Christians takes place. Buy calcium carbonate in us The Holy Family School in Gaza City is part-funded by the Vatican. Buy calcium carbonate in us Father Emanuel Musallem explains how he is the priest of more than 4, buy calcium carbonate in us000 Christians in Gaza. Buy calcium carbonate in us His school has more than 1, buy calcium carbonate in us200 students, buy calcium carbonate in us 1, buy calcium carbonate in us000 of which are Muslim. Buy calcium carbonate in us Father Emanuel explains how many Hamas leaders are sending their children to this school, buy calcium carbonate in us because he is not preaching "Christianity", buy calcium carbonate in us he is rather "spreading the light of knowledge in his Palestinian nation". Buy calcium carbonate in us Father Emanuel declares himself first an Arab, buy calcium carbonate in us then a Palestinian, buy calcium carbonate in us and then a Christian. Palestinian Muslim and Palestinian Christian girls playing in the playgroundOn another level, buy calcium carbonate in us Hamas has always demonstrated respect for Christmas religious festivities. Buy calcium carbonate in us In December 2003, buy calcium carbonate in us they were the first to organize an assistance package and donations to families whose houses were damaged by the Israeli Defence Forces in Rafah. Buy calcium carbonate in us The movement went even further and on Christmas Eve 2003 when several officials dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed presents to Christian children in Bethlehem. Buy calcium carbonate in us Another example of the tolerance and respect between the two communities was when Declaration number 67 was issued by Hamas in 1990, buy calcium carbonate in us cancelling a general strike which coincided with the religious Christmas holidays. Another issue which is frequently discussed in the media is whether or not Hamas is encroaching upon women's rights in the Gaza strip. Buy calcium carbonate in us Calls to ban male hairdressers from cutting women's hair and a ruling stating that female lawyers had to cover their hair when acting in civil courts were denounced by many in the international community. Buy calcium carbonate in us However, buy calcium carbonate in us even though, buy calcium carbonate in us to some extent, buy calcium carbonate in us the atmosphere in the region is more conservative, buy calcium carbonate in us these measures were not approved of by the majority of the population and were therefore never implemented. Buy calcium carbonate in us Hana Afana, buy calcium carbonate in us a 24 year old trainee maths teacher explains how Hamas is imposing a religious code, buy calcium carbonate in us and how what is really worrying for the women in the region is the siege and the economic situation. Buy calcium carbonate in us Qualified professionals and graduates like her find themselves unable to find a job. Buy calcium carbonate in us According to Mona Ahmad al-Shawa, buy calcium carbonate in us who runs the women's unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, buy calcium carbonate in us basic human rights such as access to electricity, buy calcium carbonate in us running water and medical treatment are what women want. Muslims and Christians in Palestine are not just bonded at the playground or in the spiritual sphere. Buy calcium carbonate in us They share the sheer disappointment with the Oslo process and the rampant corruption of the Palestinian Authority, buy calcium carbonate in us which has misappropriated billions of dollars worth of aid from the international community. Buy calcium carbonate in us Hamas winning the elections in the territories reflected the disillusionment of Palestinians, buy calcium carbonate in us and was a natural reaction to their dissatisfaction. Buy calcium carbonate in us Often regarded as a military organization, buy calcium carbonate in us the movement engages well beyond its military wing. Buy calcium carbonate in us It runs a network of social, buy calcium carbonate in us educational, buy calcium carbonate in us health and economic services, buy calcium carbonate in us especially in Gaza. Buy calcium carbonate in us Christians in Bethlehem and Ramallah, buy calcium carbonate in us tired of the PA's corruption and sex scandals, buy calcium carbonate in us were not afraid to vote for Hamas. Collaboration between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Israeli State - "The Holy Land is not for Sale or Lease" The Palestinian Authority is, buy calcium carbonate in us however, buy calcium carbonate in us not the only one accused of corruption and scandalous transactions, buy calcium carbonate in us and there seems to be internal strife between the different Palestinian Christian communities. Buy calcium carbonate in us The Greek Orthodox Church has been portrayed as collaborating with Israel since 1967, buy calcium carbonate in us due to its involvement in land and political disputes. Buy calcium carbonate in us The Orthodox Church is the biggest private owner of land in Jerusalem and owns most of the land in the West Bank on which the Christian religious sites, buy calcium carbonate in us including the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem where Christians believe Jesus was born, buy calcium carbonate in us are built. Buy calcium carbonate in us Much of this land was donated to it by Orthodox Christian Palestinians in the late 1800s. Buy calcium carbonate in us Over the last few decades the church has increased land sales to the Israeli authorities or leased land to them for a period of 999 years. Buy calcium carbonate in us Examples of these transactions include the sale of St. Buy calcium carbonate in us John's property in the Christian quarter on 11th April 1990, buy calcium carbonate in us the transfer of fifty dunams near Mar Elias monastery, buy calcium carbonate in us and the sale of two hotels and twenty seven stores on Omar Bin Al-Khattab square near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church's land sales have come against a background of corruption allegations. Buy calcium carbonate in us Nicholas Papadimas, buy calcium carbonate in us a previous church treasurer in Jerusalem, buy calcium carbonate in us was involved some of the sales before he fled the country and was charged in Greece with stealing church funds in a separate case. Buy calcium carbonate in us On being appointed as patriarch in 2005, buy calcium carbonate in us Theophilos had promised to stop selling Palestinian land, buy calcium carbonate in us but he was also involved in many shady undertakings with Israel. Buy calcium carbonate in us The current patriarch, buy calcium carbonate in us Irineos, buy calcium carbonate in us has also been accused of being behind secret land deals with two international Jewish investment groups. Another source of tension comes from the fact that the Greek clergy do not allow Arab clergymen from rising in the church. Buy calcium carbonate in us This is the case of the prominent Palestinian Christian clergyman, buy calcium carbonate in us Abdullah Hanaa. Buy calcium carbonate in us On the 13th of November 2009, buy calcium carbonate in us Theofilos removed Abdullah from his position as the deputy head from the Orthodox Church. Buy calcium carbonate in us This resulted in widespread condemnation from the Palestinian Greek Orthodox Community, buy calcium carbonate in us who demonstrated in their thousands in the streets of Ramallah. Several hundred Palestinian protestors from the Council of Arab Orthodox Institutions and Organizations in Palestine, buy calcium carbonate in us representing 19 groups, buy calcium carbonate in us protested at the Greek Orthodox Church's involvement with the Israeli State and the removal of Abdullah Hanaa from his position. Buy calcium carbonate in us The placards read: The Israeli authorities have used the church's corruption and financial difficulties to their political advantage and applied additional political pressure to ensure that the choice of patriarchs is beneficial to Israel's land acquisition policies. Buy calcium carbonate in us One of the church's Jerusalem properties was purchased by Israel with the involvement of the Ateret Cohanim association which is dedicated to buying Arab property in Jerusalem and settling Jews there. Both the Christian and Muslim Palestinian communities have suffered at the hands of the Occupation. Buy calcium carbonate in us Excavations near the gate of Maryam in the Western Wall of the Church of the Sepulchre in November 2009 are a recent example of this. Buy calcium carbonate in us Far from collaborating with the Israeli entity, buy calcium carbonate in us the struggle against the occupation should unite not only the different Christian Churches, buy calcium carbonate in us but also the Muslim community. Gaza Baptist Church ceiling falling downConclusion According to Hanna Massad, buy calcium carbonate in us pastor of Gaza Baptist Church, buy calcium carbonate in us "The last 5 years have been very difficult for all the Palestinians - Muslims and Christians". Buy calcium carbonate in us Gaza Baptist Church is one of only three churches serving the 4, buy calcium carbonate in us000 Christians living among the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants. Buy calcium carbonate in us Hanna explains how the siege united the community. Buy calcium carbonate in us Because of the lack of basic food, buy calcium carbonate in us Christian charities have provided food for families, buy calcium carbonate in us 99% of which are Muslim. Buy calcium carbonate in us During the 2009 bombings, buy calcium carbonate in us "the church ceiling fell down up to 6 times". The plight of the Palestinian Christian is very much connected to that of the Palestinian Muslim in that both, buy calcium carbonate in us whether in the Occupied Territories or inside Israel itself, buy calcium carbonate in us are experiencing daily injustices at the hands of oppressive and discriminatory policies imposed on them by the Israeli government. Buy calcium carbonate in us The conflict is therefore not between Muslims and Christians; nor between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Palestinian Christians; it is between Palestinians as a whole and Israel's occupation and apartheid establishment. Buy calcium carbonate in us It is indeed hard to be Palestinian Christian. Buy calcium carbonate in us But it is equally hard being a Palestinian Muslim. It is hard simply being a Palestinian. Buy calcium carbonate in us Original article found at: http://www.uruknet.de/?p=m67381&hd=&size=1&l=e