We publish here a letter from The Bridge Christian Fellowship to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams:
Dear Dr Williams,
I have read the article in ‘The Tablet’ in which you speak about people leaving Bethlehem in large numbers and then ask the question: “I would like to know how much it matters to the Israeli Government to have Christian communities in the Holy Land. Are they an embarrassment or are they part of a solution? That’s a question.”
No doubt the Israelis have already given you their answer, perhaps informing you that the Christian Arab population within the pre 1967 borders of Israel has grown from approximately 34,000 in 1948 to nearly 130,000 in 2005. Ironically this is the only part of the Middle East where the Christian population is growing.
You should really have asked the Palestinian Authority how much it matters to them that there are Christian communities in their territory.
The main reason for the departure of Christians from PA administered territories is the religious persecution, murder and land grabs which stems from the increased Islamisation of the region. This is the result of the PA adopting Muslim religious law in the territories in contrast to Israel which safeguards the religious freedom of its citizens.
You have nothing to say about the likes of George Rabie, featured in a recent article in the Mail on Sunday who is a taxi driver from Bethlehem and was beaten up by Muslims using his cab when they discovered he is a Christian. He said ‘Every day, I experience discrimination. It is a type of racism. We are a minority so we are an easier target. Many extremists from the villages are coming into Bethlehem.’
Nor have you championed the cause of those who have been subjected to forced marriages of Christian women to Muslim men, received death threats for distributing the Bible to willing Muslims, or been intimidated into wearing traditional ultra-modest Islamic clothing. Nor have you written about the churches which have been firebombed by Muslim extremists protesting against the remarks of the Pope (most recently in Nablus, Tubas, and Gaza). Nor about the situation in which Christian Arabs have found their land expropriated by Muslims or been forced to pay bribes to win the freedom of family members jailed on trumped-up charges.
All of this is the main reason why Christian Arabs have been selling or abandoning homes and businesses, seeking to escape the chaos and corruption of the PA and move to Israel, Europe, South America, North America, or wherever they can get a visa.
Why do you have nothing to say about any of this in The Tablet or other public media? Of course you do not need to answer. We all know. No one in public life dares to make any comment even mildly critical of Islamic behaviour. On the other hand Israeli Jews are an easy target.
In this way we in the west are already submitting to Islamic demands and behaving like ‘dhimmi’ citizens subject to the rule of the mosque. I find this utterly shameful and a betrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastor of The Bridge Christian Fellowship.