Quantcast
About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
 
CHRISTIANITY
Who is a Christian?
Shared beliefs
Handle change
Bible topics
Bible inerrancy
Bible harmony
Interpret Bible
Persons
Beliefs, creeds
Da Vinci code
Revelation, 666
Denominations
 
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions

Non-theistic...
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handle change
Doubt/security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
World's end
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality/ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandm'ts
Abortion
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment
Equal rights - gays & bi's
Gay marriage
Nudism
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

THE PLIGHT OF PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS

 by Dr. Abe Ata, a senior fellow at Melbourne University.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

Like other American, English and Australian religious magazines, yours has tackled the Middle East from every viewpoint but one-that of the Palestinian Christians. Their plight is practically never discussed. At one time, one in five of the Arab inhabitants of Palestine was Christian; now it's about one in fifty. Once Bethlehem was 95% Christian; now Christians are a mere 15%. Why? What brought about this catastrophic decline? On the face of it, the answer is obvious. Christians are leaving Palestine for the same reason that any Palestinian leaves: they see no future. But this does not explain why they are more inclined to leave than their Muslim compatriots.

Part of the reason, it seems to us, is that Christian Palestinians are treated by the West as a non-people. Few outside the Middle East even know they exist. We are reminded of a story told about a group of Western missionaries who travelled to the Levant in the late nineteenth century. They were meeting the elders of a village. On being told that the village was Christian, and not a little dismayed that some other missionary must have got there first, they enquired who had converted them. At this, the elders, clearly bewildered, began to debate earnestly among themselves in Arabic. Finally the answer came back: "Jesus of Nazareth."

With variations, this little tableau is no doubt repeated daily among the thousands of visitors and pilgrims who visit the Holy Land today. It would be amusing if its consequences were not so tragic. More than anything else, it reminds Palestinian Christians that they have been forgotten.  It's hard to maintain your spirits when you are treated with indifference by the only people you can look to for support. Soon, there will be no Christians left, and their churches will become tourist museums sans worshippers.

So as Australians, we ask: Why aren't we doing anything? Why isn't the Christian Palestinian community in Australia speaking up? Why aren't Australian churches speaking up? Why don't other migrant churches voice solidarity as they do with Black South Africans, East Timorese and  oppressed communities in the Balkans? The fact is, the morale of Palestinian Christians is being eroded from all sides. In the West they are ignored. In the Arab world they are increasingly treated with suspicion. And in their ancestral home they are subject to the indignities heaped upon them as a subject population. No wonder they despair.

The fact is, the Levant has been home to many religions since time immemorial. Mostly they have lived side by side in relative harmony. The notion of the ethnically homogeneous nation state is a modern one. It is especially alien to the Middle East, and in our view should remain so. God is not some kind of cosmic real estate agent who grants title to first this religion and then that, just so the new lot can go and evict the old.

horizontal rule

Copyright © 2001 by the author
Originally written: 2001-DEC-
Latest update: 2001-DEC-30
Author: Dr. Abe Ata, a 12th generation Christian academic, who was born in Bethlehem.

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the visitor essays menu, or choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.