1) What's remarkable about the Palestinian Authority
A few days ago, Ambassador Michael Oren wrote about Israel and the plight of the Mideast Christians for the Wall Street Journal.
The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.
Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life, serving in the Knesset, the Foreign Ministry and on the Supreme Court. They are exempt from military service, but thousands have volunteered and been sworn in on special New Testaments printed in Hebrew. Israeli Arab Christians are on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs.This does not mean that Israeli Christians do not occasionally encounter intolerance. But in contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to "ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion." It guarantees free access to all Christian holy places, which are under the exclusive aegis of Christian clergy. When Muslims tried to erect a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Israeli government interceded to preserve the sanctity of the shrine.I can't be sure but the op-ed may have been a pre-emptive strike against the Christian anti-Israel group, Christ at the Checkpoint that recently had a conference in Bethlehem. (Bethlehem's Christian population is now down to about 15% of the population, from 60% of the population in 1990.) Among the group's principles is:
For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.The Palestinian Authority showed its appreciation for this support, as Dexter Van Zile reports:
A week after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an audience of Evangelical Protestants from across the world that his government respected the rights of its Christian minorities, officials from the Palestinian Authority have informed Bethlehem pastor Rev. Naim Khoury that his church lacked the authority to function as a religious institution under the PA.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Gaza and Hamas and Palestinian.The church can still gather to pray, for now, but the PA’s decision conveyed on Saturday will have a real impact on the members of First Baptist, which endured numerous bomb attacks during the First Intifada.Apparently First Baptist is too supportive of Israel. I don't expect that members of Christ of the Checkpoint will be protesting their coreligionists' plight. That would be rather un-Christian of them, wouldn't it?
It is remarkable how immune the PA remains to criticism for the elements of tyranny (lack of elections, press intimidation and religious persecution) it employs.
2) What's remarkable about Israel
On Sunday it was widely reported that during its air strikes against terrorists in Gaza, Israel had killed a teenage boy. Later it emerged that the explosion that killed him had nothing to do with Israeli air strikes. Later the AFP (which originally reported that there was no sign of an Israeli strike) added that the teenager had been killed by an explosive device he had been using. Apparently he had been attempting to shoot rockets into Israel.
Yesterday it was reported that Israel had evacuated an injured teenager from Gaza to an Israeli hospital.
The Arab teenager was seriously injured while preparing to launch a Palestinian Qassam rocket at Israeli civilians in Southern Israel, when the rocket suddenly malfunctioned and exploded. COGAT indicates that a second boy was killed in the attempted attack, and that the Palestinians tried to blame Israel for his death.A few observrations:
Two more semi-related news items:
- The news agencies, which were so quick to accept the Palestinian claim that the first boy had been killed by Israel, have had little followup on the cause of the teenager's death. Certainly if the death of a schoolboy is newsworthy, the news that he died as he tried to harm others is newsworthy.
- Even though the second boy was injured trying to kill (or at least frighten) Israelis, when he was incapacitated, Israel showed him its humanitarian side.
- It's not clear whether the boys were firing rockets because they were assigned to or because they took the initiative themselves. But what does it say about a society that encourages teenagers to risk themselves in such a fashion?
- What does it say about Israel, which is treating a terrorist who wished its citizens harm?
The other day, terrorists targeted vehicles bringing aid into Gaza.
This morning, Palestinian terrorists fired three mortars on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom crossing. The mortars struck a truck and a van on their way to deliver goods to the people of Gaza. Following the shooting, activity at the crossing was suspended for just a few minutes. After evaluating the situation, it was decided to continue operations at the crossing, where goods continue to be transferred from Israel into the Gaza Strip.Also, Israel is backing the building of a desalinization plant for Gaza, and is willing to help build it.
"In Gaza, they have been responsible in its entirety for the underground aquifer since 1994," Landau said. "It is totally destroyed. That's why desalination for Gaza is highly important."Landau said in response to a question that Israel would be "absolutely" willing if requested to lend its desalination skills to the project."Our expertise is available to all of our friends, including some of those who don't accept us there, which is the Palestinians. We would like to see their projects going on. They however say they want to take care of their own needs, which is fine with us."The difference in attitudes and actions between Israel and its enemies is stark. So I'll leave this with one final question.
5. What does it say about the MUG complex that insists on ignoring these differences and maintaining a moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies?