Israel has a plan for the Christians of Palestine

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Some Christian news agencies have echoed their concern about the proliferation in Israel of anti-Christian graffiti in Hebrew language on buildings and offices of several congregations. It seems that everyone relates the curses, threats and blasphemies of these graffiti on the recent visit of the Pope Francis to the Holy Land. In fact, many Jews took this occasion to remind us that they are convinced that the expulsion of all non-Jews from Israel is mitzvah, i.e., a divine commandment.

Instead, they have overlooked the dirty, and so far failed war, the Israeli authorities have thrown to keep the Palestinian Christians away from their fellow Muslims. This ineffective plan has caused rage in some sectors of the right wing Israeli political spectrum.

In Israel there are several local non-Jewish minorities. The smaller enjoy good relations with the Jewish state, while the more numerous are their enemy. That is, some have managed to become second class Israeli citizens, in any case first, thanks mainly to its presence in the security forces, while the rest continue to occupy an unworthy third rung of society.

The first group consists of the Druze, whose leaders signed in 1956 an agreement with the state that allowed its young people to join the army. Shortly after, the Circassian (article in Catalan) closed a similar deal. These two communities represent just over 10 percent of the Palestinian population living in Israel.

Since then, the Druze and the Circassian have been recognized as such by the authorities. In fact, their ID cards identify them as Druze and Circassian, not as Arab, like the rest of Palestinians. In addition, the Druze have their own network of schools and its own education system, where they tell the history, the feeling of belonging to a community, and talk about peace and war as they see it.

Many Christian wished to have their own education system, like the Druze, in order to implement the teaching of Aramaic and teach to their kids their own point of view about history. That is, to recover their history and their cultural heritage and to get away from the Arab language and culture of the Muslim majority. At the moment there is only one school that offers instruction in Aramaic in all Israel.

Palestinian chant slogans in favour of the Syrian regime and the president of Syria at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem the Holy Saturday 2013. There can be seen Aramaic flags and pictures of Syrian bishops who had been kidnapped by Islamists the week before in Aleppo.

As for Bedouin Palestinian who live in the Negev desert, traditionally many of its young people have volunteered for the Israeli army to escape poverty in their villages of origin. Though they are Muslims, Israel has accepted their role in the security forces, usually as guides because they know the desert like no other.

Inspired by the success of the strategy to attract Palestinian minorities to Israel through their involvement in the defense and the state security, Israeli officials have been working for two years trying to change the loyalty of the Christians, who as the Druze, represent the 10 percent of the Palestinian population. The action that has had more impact in the media has been the official invitation to perform military service receives by the young Christians who finish school. So far, the campaign has been a failure and only fifty over 2,000 young people each year join the Israeli army.

Some local administrations also have done some movements in this direction, differentiating the Arab Muslims from the Christians. This move still had no consequences, because the Palestinian Christians have demonstrated a strong feeling of patriotism. This works especially with the members of the Greek Orthodox community, which is the majority.

In contrast, among the ranks of the Greek Catholics and the Maronites, who are the minority within the minority, there is a significant sector that feels that the approach to Israel is a lesser of two evils and look forward to follow the path that the Druze initiated in the 50s.

The plan to divide the Palestinians will not stop

Meanwhile, the powerful people in Israel moves threads and plan press campaigns wherever necessary to divide the Palestinians among them, according to some, or to speed up the inevitable confrontation between Christians and Muslims, as other believe. One of the most well-known confrontation happened in 1999, before the visit of the Pope John Paul II to Nazareth, where Christians today do not even reach a third of the population.

The state ignored the municipal authority, which is the responsible for the local planning issues, and supported a group of Muslims who wanted to build a mosque wall to wall with the Basilica of the Annunciation (to know the details, read the comments at the bottom of the original article in Catalan). The official permission for the construction of the mosque never was issued but the political interference generated incidents and violence between Palestinian communities and remained in the air for some time.

Simultaneously to the pressure of Israeli authorities on the Palestinians, we must take into account the growing influence of Zionist American Protestant groups. These groups increase daily their fundraising capacity to fill the coffers of the Palestinian factions in favour of the approach Israel.

So far, the possibility of a break in the Palestinian community seems remote and an absurd conspiracy. However the money, the political pressure, the bad faith of the Israeli authorities and the fear of the Christian community to disappear swallowed by the Muslim… At the end of the day, all this may end up convincing the Palestinians Christians to follow the footsteps of his fellow Druze.

We can even speculate a little further. Perhaps the recent campaign of anti-Christian graffiti in Hebrew language has something to do with the anger generated in some sectors of the Israeli right by its inability to bend the patriotism of the Palestinian Arab Christian from the Holy Land and separate them from their compatriots for religious motivations.

Maybe that’s why the powers that have turned a blind eye and gave free rein to the violent racist Jewish groups that fill some settlements and profess and preach the anti-Christian hate. Perhaps these groups are those who have written “death to Arabs and Christians and all who hate Israel” and several blasphemies before the office of the Catholics assembly and the facade of a church in Jerusalem.

Israel shrinks and radicalizes itself

For decades, Israel was a state in expansion. Aggression and violence always took place outside their natural boundaries. But in recent years, because of the withdrawal from southern Lebanon and Gaza and the change of the State policy about the creation of new settlements in the West Bank, Israel has stalled within boundaries that cannot be expanded any more. The geographical and political situation of the country has changed, but the social situation and the conflict with the Palestinians has not changed at all.

Therefore, we could anticipate that the continuation of the same conflict in a smaller and closed territory will lead to the radicalization of all parties. Perhaps the claustrophobic atmosphere of this country, confronted at the same time with himself and with the world, eventually would push Christians to approach the state of Israel.

And maybe all these reasons are what move few Jews to perpetrate today their actions in a friend territory. We should remember that only few years ago, their older brothers, at the same age, were organizing demonstrations in Gaza or were firing from a colony of the West Bank against Palestinian farmers. That’s why they do it and, also, because an aggression against the Arabs in Israel usually do not receive any punishment at all.

Author: Jordi Llaonart



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