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Monday, October 17, 2011

What's Happened to Christians in Bethlehem and Gaza ?

Nadene Goldfoot
Bethlehem is only 5 miles or 8 kilometers from Jerusalem.  Even so, it happens to lie in the Central "West Bank" or as we continue to  call it, Judea and Samaria-the original names of the land.  The Arabs now claim the city as a Palestinian city.  The population is mainly Arab Muslim today.  80% of the population used to be  Christian before 1994, made up mostly of Christian Arabs.  It was in 1994 that the Palestinian Authority was established who took control over these people.  Today the population of Christians is less than 20%.  Now it has become the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestine National Association.  It has become the hub of their Arab culture.  They have taken over the tourism that comes there because of it being one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. 

In 1948 Bethlehem had a population of 10,000. and 7,500 were Christians, 2,500 Muslims.  From 1948 to 1967 it was under Jordanian rule.  In the Six-Day War it was captured by Israel.  In 1968 it had a population of 32,000. 

For Jews, Bethlehem is important as Rachel's Tomb is at the Northern entrance of the city.  It is an important Jewish holy site.  This would also bring tourists who wish to pray there. 

Gaza was taken over by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorists came into control in 2007, winning over Fatah, the original PLO of Arafat, the major Arab terrorist.  Gaza did have some 3,000 Christians living in this Muslim area, but since their takeover have seen their Christian materials burned, their people assaulted and killed.  In 2007 they numbered 2,000 among 1,3 million Muslims, being less than 1% of the population.  They were made up of Catholic Greek Orthodox and Evangelical Christians, with the Gaza Baptist Church.  It's membership numbered only 150-200 people.      In May 2009 Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel and was approached by Christians about it, but nothing was said.   Many "Palestinians" have entered the USA under Obama, but I have no idea if they were rescued Christinians or Muslims. 

Gaza remained under Egyptian control after 1948.  It was captured by Israel November 1956, but Israel returned it in March 1957 when Egyptians took control again but with the UN emergency Force along the border with Israel.  In May 1967 Egypt had the UN force withdraw leading to the 6 Day War after which Gaza came into Israel's control.   The 1967 census showed 352,260 in the Gaza Strip of whom 172,520 were considered refugees. 

Palestinian Christian Arabs came to Detroit, Michigan after 1948 and 1967's wars.  The majority of the Arabs in this large American city are Christians from Judea-Samaria.  The countries these Arabs came from were Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen mostly.  In the past, Henry Ford's automobile manufacturing used Lebanese labor there.

In January 2009 Obama issued an appeal for $613 million to aid Palestinians in Gaza.  Nothing was mentioned about rescuing Christians and getting them to the USA.  At the same time he issued a Presidential Determination for Unexpected urgent refugee and migration needed related to Gaza not to exceed $20.3 million.  Again, nothing I read showed preferring help for Christians who needed it over Muslims or in even immigrating to the USA. 

By law the USA cannot count people belonging to any religion, though our census was not shy about listing "Hebrew" on the census naming Jewish immigrants. 

Reference: Arutz Sheva, The forgotten Christians of the East by Caroline Glick
Standard Jewish Encyclopedia Bethlehem, Gaza Christians in Gaza Muslim immigration

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