Photo Credit: Guy Yechiely, Tel Aviv Press
Santa leads a team of reindeer wannabes in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Circle, Dec. 20, 2021.

The Sun Times’ Justin Welby and Hosam Naoum last weekend served up a blood libel against Jews in Israel in general and religious Jews reclaiming property in Jerusalem in particular, under a headline reminiscent of the good old days of Julius Streicher and Joseph Goebbels: “Let us pray for the Christians being driven from the Holy Land.” Yes, folks, the only thing missing from this revolting article is a carton of a hooked-nose Jew throwing innocent Christian infants out to the street.

The article was based on a Dec. 13 statement put out by the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches of Jerusalem, titled: Current Threat to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land. Here is part of it:

Throughout the Holy Land, Christians have become the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups. Since 2012 there have been countless incidents of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, attacks on Christian churches, with holy sites regularly vandalized and desecrated, and ongoing intimidation of local Christians who simply seek to worship freely and go about their daily lives. These tactics are being used by such radical groups in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land.
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Naturally, “fringe radical groups” is code for right-wing religious Jews, we get that. But what’s missing from the statement is evidence.

Another sentence by the Patriarchs states:

Yet radical groups continue to acquire strategic property in the Christian Quarter, with the aim of diminishing the Christian presence, often using underhanded healings and intimidation tactics to evict residents from their homes, dramatically decreasing the Christian presence, and further disrupting the historic pilgrim routes between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Parsing that sentence it says, Jews are buying property in Jerusalem, and we don’t like that, especially when the presence of Jews between Bethlehem and Jerusalem bothers us. Oh, and the Jews are conniving thieves who trick Christians into selling their property.

Here’s what the Sunday Times piece provided by way of proving their astonishing libel:

The Romanian Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem was vandalized during Lent in March this year, the fourth attack in a month. During Advent last December, someone lit a fire in the Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Someone certainly did it, but was it necessarily a Jew? Here are a couple more juicy paragraphs:

Christmas is a time when we think about the land of the Bible. We hear readings and sing carols that name Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. These are places that are familiar to billions of Christians, whether they have visited them or not. But we should not romanticize them — and especially not this Christmas.
Last week church leaders in Jerusalem raised an unprecedented and urgent alarm call. In a joint statement, they said Christians throughout the Holy Land had become the target of frequent and sustained attacks by fringe radical groups.
They described “countless incidents” of physical and verbal assaults against priests and other clergy, and attacks on Christian churches. They spoke of holy sites being regularly vandalized and desecrated, and the ongoing intimidation of local Christians as they go about their worship and daily lives.

So who is driving Christians from the Land of Israel according to the Sunday Times? Here we go:

These tactics are being used by such radical groups “in a systematic attempt to drive the Christian community out of Jerusalem and other parts of the Holy Land”, the Jerusalem church leaders said in their statement.
That is why, when you speak to Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem today, you will often hear this cry: “In 15 years’ time, there’ll be none of us left!”
And of course they didn’t forget to blame “the growth of settler communities,” all those Jewish babies have somehow created a situation of isolated “Christian villages and curtailed economic and social possibilities.”

And the Patriarchs suggest Israeli law enforcement agencies collaborate with those “radicals”:

It is therefore a matter of grave concern when this national commitment is betrayed by the failure of local politicians, officials, and law enforcement agencies to curb the activities of radical groups who regularly intimidate local Christians, assault priests, and clergy, and desecrate Holy Sites and church properties.

Here’s a question: could it be someone other than “radical Jews?” Could it be a different group, with a long record of pushing Christian Arabs out of the Land of Israel as well as from the rest of the Middle East, which includes the Palestinian Authority? Could it be … the Muslims?

Dr. Edy Cohen reported back in 2019 (The Persecution of Christians in the Palestinian Authority):

On April 25, the terrified residents of the Christian village of Jifna near Ramallah asked the PA to protect them after they were attacked by Muslim gunmen. The violence erupted after a woman from the village submitted a complaint to the police that the son of a prominent, Fatah-affiliated leader had attacked her family. In response, dozens of Fatah gunmen came to the village, fired hundreds of bullets in the air, threw petrol bombs while shouting curses, and caused severe damage to public property. It was a miracle that there were no dead or wounded.

Dr. Cohen also reported:

The second incident occurred during the night of May 13. Vandals broke into a church of the Maronite community in the center of Bethlehem, desecrated it, and stole expensive equipment belonging to the church, including the security cameras.
Three days later it was the turn of the Anglican church in the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah. Vandals cut through the fence, broke the windows of the church, and broke in. They desecrated it, looked for valuable items, and stole a great deal of equipment.
As in the two previous incidents, no suspects were arrested.

NBC News reported in 2018 (Holy Land Christians feel abandoned by U.S. evangelicals):

In and around Bethlehem, Christians have gone from around 80 percent of the population just after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1950, to around 12 percent today.

The gist of the NBC article is to blame the Zionist Christians in America for supporting Jewish settlements at the expense of Christian Arabs, but Israel did not control Bethlehem in 1950 – it only conquered the city in 1967. And the crawling expulsion of Christians from Bethlehem was not carried out by Jews – no Jews live in Bethlehem. It was a persistent takeover by the Muslims through a campaign of fear and intimidation that has been documented over the decades.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry rejected the insidious claims of both the Church folks and the Sunday Times, and stated on Monday that the Christian population in Israel “enjoys full freedom of religion and worship, is constantly growing, and is part of the unique fabric of Israeli society.” The ministry also stressed that Israel is “committed to freedom of religion and worship for all religions, as well to ensuring the freedom of access to holy sites.”

“The statement by Church leaders in Jerusalem is particularly infuriating given their silence on the plight of many Christian communities in the Middle East suffering from discrimination and persecution,” the Foreign Ministry stated, adding: “Religious leaders have a critical role to play in education for tolerance and coexistence, and Church leaders should be expected to understand their responsibility and the consequences of what they have published, which could lead to violence and bring harm to innocent people.”

Now, where are the outraged statements by the same Church leaders against the systematic expulsion of Christian Arabs from the Palestinian Authority, which coincides with the unprecedented growth and prosperity of the Christian Arabs in Israel – which they acknowledge in their statement?

The foreign ministry can’t come outright and say it, so we will: Church leaders in the Land of Israel often turn a blind eye when the people pushing their flock around are not Jewish. It’s the practical thing to do when you deal with violent Muslims. It’s the Christian practice all over the world. So, good luck and a merry Nittel Nacht…

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.