Christian Exodus from Palestine Christian Exodus from PA Continues International Human Rights leader Justus Weiner addressed on December 3 the issue of persecution and growing exodus of Christian-Arabs from areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority [PA]. According to Weiner, the PA officials are themselves responsible for many of the persecutions that occur, but that Christians are only one of several minority groups routinely persecuted within Palestinian society. “I believe that the persecution of Christians is a result of a way of thinking that originates from Islam,” Weiner said. He gave examples of Muslim persecution of Christians in countries such as Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon to demonstrate that the problem is fundamentally rooted in the Muslim mindset, teachings, and practices. The majority of the Christians living in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] today are Greek Orthodox and are concentrated around the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah. However, Christian emigration, Muslim immigration, and PA collusion have all combined to result in a dramatic shift in the Christian-Muslim population ratios in each of these centers. For example, Weiner said that former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat rearranged the Bethlehem municipal boundaries to ensure a Muslim majority there. As a result, the Hamas terror group now controls 6 of 15 seats on the Bethlehem city council, and has enough allies on the council to form a majority over the Christians there. Weiner cited numbers saying that “…the Christian population went from a 60% majority in 1990 to a 40% minority in 2000” in Bethlehem. Weiner believes the Christian population there today to be between 15-20%, around 10,000-13,000 Christians in all. The trend of Christian emigration from the PA is not unique to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Yeshua [Jesus]. Each year, according to Weiner, some 1,000 Arab-Christians flee the PA for safe havens in Israel, North America, and Europe. He estimates that Christians now make up only about 1.5% of the total population in the PA and “…are in danger of disappearing.” Weiner noted that Israel is the only place in the region where the Christian population is on the rise, saying, “The Christian population in Israel has grown by 420% since Israel was established in 1948,” including influx from both Arab and Russian populations. “I don’t believe that the Christian emigration from Bethlehem and the West Bank is a result of the security fence or the ‘occupation,’ but that there are other factors at work,” Weiner said. He outlined several examples of brutal beatings, intimidation, extortion, forced marriages to Muslims, and other human rights violations, some of those acts sanctioned or carried out by members of the PA security forces. Weiner said that the persecution is especially great against Muslims that converted to Christianity, and he gave several examples of those persecutions. He cited the case of a father of eight, a convert from Islam to Christianity named “Ahmed,” who was falsely arrested by the PA police on theft charges. Ahmed was then beaten and burned with cigarettes all over his body by his PA captors. His home and falafel stand were firebombed, he spent several years in and out of PA jails before Ahmed was finally shot and killed by several masked gunmen. Weiner pointed out that the issue of human rights for Arab-Christians in the PA has been sidelined by many Western nations in favor of broader peacemaking efforts between Jewish Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab-Muslim world in general. He said that he fails to understand why the West, many of them majority Christian nations and led by Christian heads of state, fails to stand up for the rights of Christians in the PA and throughout the Muslim world. A more complete study of the issue of Arab-Christians in the PA entitled “Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society” can be downloaded free of charge from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website at: http://www.jcpa.org/christian-persecution.htm (By Will King, Israel Mosaic Radio, December 3, 2007) Prayer Focus Pray for Christians who live in the Palestinian territories. Pray so that the Lord will protect them and be their shield. Scripture “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).