Birthplace of Christ Used in Bid for Palestinian Statehood
The issue is not genuinely about a two-state solution – as many are fooled into believing. Lethal opposition to the State of Israel remains fierce. This tiny democracy, Israel, which lives by individual freedoms, equal justice under law and respect for universal human rights, is an affront to these autocratic regimes.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will soon decide whether to honor the Palestinian application to award The Church of the Nativity the designation of a World Heritage Site—a title reserved for locations considered to have outstanding Universal Value.
The World Heritage Committee is now meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia, presumably to decide to whom to award the Church of the Nativity, said to be the birthplace of Christ, as well as the Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem.
Here is where it gets problematic: although only applicants recognized as having an independent state are eligible for consideration, the Palestinians are being considered even though they do not meet that qualification.
This ambitious move by the Palestinian Authority [PA] started in February 2011; Palestinian Tourism Minister Khulud Daibes was explicit about the motive: "The timing is crucial for us; it is part and parcel of our plan to end the (Israeli) occupation and build the institutions of the state of Palestine."
The drive to have the Church of the Nativity recognized as a global heritage site is nothing short of offensive. Christians have been driven out of their ancestral lands; Palestinians have shown nothing but hostility to both Christians and Jews. Moreover, Christ himself was a Jew.
Upon the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, Bethlehem had a Christian population of over 80 percent. With the rise of the Muslim population, Christians dwindled in numbers. Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority took over the town in 1995, thanks to the Oslo Accords. Along with the PA, came a tribal political system which caused Bethlehem's Christian population, already at 15%, to further sink to 2% today. Under this political system Christians are targeted, seen as inferiors, and subjected to threats, violence, discrimination and acts of terrorism.
Upon entering Bethlehem Yasser Arafat was strategic in overtaking the Christian populace. He first expanded municipal boundaries to include 30,000 Muslims living in refugee camps, as well as Muslim Bedouins who lived east of the town.
The first and second intifadas further drove Christians out of their ancestral town as they became trapped in the crossfire between the Palestinians and Israelis. The violent struggle predictably drew international attention, and created the ideal platform for Palestinian sympathizers to levy blame on the so-called Israeli "occupation."
Israel's so-called "occupation" and "aggression" were solely based on self defense: both the Palestinian and Hamas Charters call for Israel's obliteration; Israel's southern cities is still live under nearly daily attack by hostile Arab States and forces seeking its destruction.
The Muslim aggression on the other hand is based on a conditioned, generational hatred against the Jews (and Christians) evidently determined to see the Jews of the State of Israel, a country the size of Vancouver Island, pushed into the sea, while an Islamic Caliphate is formed to rule the Middle East.
This tiny democracy, Israel, which lives by individual freedoms. equal justice under law, and respect for universal human rights, is an affront to these autocratic regimes.
In mid-June, Palestinian Media Watch identified a program in which children are being indoctrinated to hate Jews and Christians.
Given the plight of beleaguered Christians in Bethlehem, the Palestinian delegation to UNESCO still brazenly included duplicitous high praises for the Christian heritage in its application, while Islamicizing the Christian tradition: "Jesus' role as Issa,," it stated,"the divinely inspired prophet in Islamic belief, is equally significant and underscores the sanctity of the place;" and further, that "there is no other site in the world that bears such an exceptional outstanding religious value for more than 2 billion Christians. There is only one site in the world that has the honor of being the birthplace of Jesus."
As one step closer to the Arab vision of Palestinian statehood, the U.N. General Assembly voted to allow Palestine admission as a full member into UNESCO last October after President Mahmoud Abbas—whose PhD featured Holocaust denial-- unilaterally made a case for Palestinian statehood and full U.N. membership.
Many Western nations condemned this unilateral maneuver, and protested that it would be best to allow negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to continue -- yet even to begin negotiations, Palestinians should first recognize the fundamental right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, and change the contents of their charters to reflect this change. How can anyone negotiate anything with people who state that you have no right to exist?
The issue is not genuinely about a two-state solution -- as many are fooled into believing. In 1947 the United Nations already came up with a two-state solution when it recommended partitioning Palestine into two states, one Jewish, one Arab; so there would have been a Palestinian state in 1948. But instead five Arab counties went to war against the new Jewish state to try to obliterate it at birth.
Today, sadly, nothing has changed. Lethal opposition to the existence of Israel remains fierce, including this current, more subtle provocation from a territory now using a Christian holy site -- the Church of the Nativity -- to try to advance a most un-Christian agenda.
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
The "Arab Spring" did not erupt as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, it was the outcome of decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans and Yemenis who removed their dictators from power did not do so because of the lack of a "two-state solution." This is the last thing they had in mind.
The thousands of Muslims who are volunteering to join the Islamic State [IS] are not doing so because they are frustrated with the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The only solution the Islamic State believes in is a Sunni Islamic Caliphate where the surviving non-Muslims who are not massacred would be subject to sharia law.
What Kerry perhaps does not know is that the Islamic State is not interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all. Unlike Kerry, Sunni scholars fully understand that the Islamic State has more to do with Islam and terrorism than with any other conflict.
by Steven J. Rosen
Palestinian officials have generally been silent about security cooperation with Israel. They are loath to acknowledge how important it is for the survival of the Palestinian Authority [PA], and fear that critics, especially Hamas, will consider it "collaboration with the enemy."
"You smuggle weapons, explosives and cash to the West Bank, not for the fight with Israel, but for a coup against the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli intelligence chief visited me two weeks ago and told me about the [Hamas] group they arrested that was planning for a coup... We have a national unity government and you are thinking about a coup against me." — Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, to Khaled Mashaal, Hamas leader.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, if the IDF leaves the West Bank, Hamas will take over, and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate there.
In recent months, Abbas has been making a series of threats against Israel. If Abbas becomes another Arafat, it could be the Israeli side that loses interest in security cooperation.
by Burak Bekdil
It was the Islamists who, since they came to power in the 2000s, have reaped the biggest political gains from the "Palestine-fetish."
But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity" with our Palestinian brothers often seems askew to how solidarity should be.
by Raheel Raza
One blogger writes that Malala hates Pakistan's military. I believe it is the other way around.
I would so like to see the day when Malala is welcomed back in Pakistan, with the whole country cheering.
by Francesco Sisci
Democratic evolution in China was being seriously considered. The failures of U.S. support for democracy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya gave new food for thought to those opposed to democracy. Lastly, the United States did not strongly oppose the anti-democratic coup d'état that overthrew a democratically elected government in Thailand.
On the other hand, Russia -- dominated by Vladimir Putin, a new autocrat determined to stifle democracy in Russia -- provided a new model.
The whole of Eastern Europe and most of Latin America, formerly in the clutches of dictatorships, are now efficient democracies. This seems to indicate that while democracy cannot be parachuted into a country, there is a broader, longer-term global trend toward democracy and that its growth depends on local conditions.
As economic development needed careful planning, political reforms need even greater planning. The question remains: is China preparing for these political reforms?