Pope Francis has described Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace” during a meeting at the Vatican.
I wrote about similar hypocrisy last Christmas, and it seems an opportune time to repost my piece. Note too the excellent column by David Goldman on this issue. He writes:
Judging from the opinion polls, [if free elections were held] a State of Palestine today would have a Hamas majority of about two-thirds, with substantial representation from elements of ISIS. Why would the Vatican wish this plague upon itself? If a Palestinian State rules the Old City of Jerusalem, the Christian holy sites will be razed by Muslim radicals, just as they were in Iraq. Christianity survives in Judea and Samaria because Jews are willing to die for Jerusalem. How many Christians are willing to die for Jerusalem? The Vatican should ponder this question.
So here is my own column from Christmas. It was titled “Proclaiming Christ, Persecuting Christians.”
The latest attempts by Palestinian leaders to enlist Jesus to their cause are an insult to Christians and should be rejected.
“We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace,” declared Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “His message resonates among all of those who are seeking justice, and among our people who have been the guardians of the holy sites for generations. It resonates in our prayers for our people in Gaza.”
Other local leaders joined the Christmas chorus, affirming that Jesus was a prophet to Palestine and the first Palestinian martyr.
Each December the Open Doors organization releases its World Watch List of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians for religious reasons is most severe. This year it ranked the Palestinian Territories at No. 34, with the plight of the 40,000 Christians there worsening a little since 2013, when the region was ranked at No. 36.
Here is how Open Doors described conditions:
Anti-Christian violence has increased, mostly caused by Islamic extremists, although Muslim-background believers face pressure from family, too. The authorities fail to uphold the rights of individual Christians, causing some to flee to safer areas.
In Gaza, Christians are enticed into becoming Muslims, especially during Ramadan, with the offers of jobs, houses, wives and diplomas. Sometimes the approach is more violent.
In fact, Jesus was born and ministered in Judea. It was only 100 years after his death that the Roman authorities changed the name of the region to Palestine. And it was just in the 20th century that modern-day Palestinians adopted the name.
For some years the Palestinian leadership have been working to convince their people – and the world – that Jews have no particular history in the region. Their phoney attempts to claim Jesus as one of their own – without even noting that He was a Jewish rabbi – is aimed squarely at garnering sympathy from an international Christian audience.
But, until these leaders take decisive steps to halt the escalating persecution of the Christians in their midst, their proclamations should be rejected as mendacious hypocrisy.