Reuters on Monday reported matter-of-factly that Israeli oppression is fueling a Christian exodus from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, when in fact the evidence points to Muslim intimidation as the primary culprit.
Reporting from Bethlehem, special correspondent Alistair Lyon wasted no time in setting the anti-Israel tone of his piece, starting it thus:
“Despairing of life under Israeli occupation, many Palestinian Christians are moving abroad, threatening their ancient links to Bethlehem and the land where Jesus was born.”
Though very few of the Christians who spoke to Lyon explicitly blamed Israel for their situation, the reporter left his readers with no option but to view Israel as guilty by:
1. Painting Israel’s security fence, which surrounds much of Bethlehem, as an arbitrary measure aimed primarily at oppressing and humiliating the Palestinians; and
2. Stating, again in a matter-of-fact manner, that no one he spoke to indicated that there is any Muslim intimidation of local Christians.
In so doing, Lyon completely and brazenly ignored reams of reports over the past few years regarding Muslim intimidation of local Palestinian Christians and the shrinking effect it is having on that community.
Just in the past three months there have been numerous reports in the mainstream media citing Palestinian Christians under attack from the Muslim majority.
To list just a few examples:
— Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh interviewed several families in January in a shocking revelation of the conditions under which Christians live in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahur.
Said one elderly Christian woman after Palestinian Muslims forcefully took over her land and then beat her husband for asking for it back:
“We are very concerned because we’re not the only ones suffering from this phenomenon. Most Christians are afraid to speak, but I don’t care because we have nothing more to lose.”
Added a neighbor:
“When I see what’s happening to Christians here, I worry a lot for our future. They are targeting Christians, because we are seen as weak.”
— George Rabie, a Christian taxi driver from another Bethlehem suburb, had this to say to Britain’s Daily Mail this past December:
“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.”
— Also in December, a Bethlehem businessman had this to say in response to reports that the PA was going to bring back a group exiled Muslim gunmen:
“I’m aware that most Christians living here are afraid to speak publicly about the issue, but the overwhelming majority was not unhappy when these thugs were deported from the city. Now some people here are once again worried because of the reports that they will return. They remember all the bad things that happened to the Christians when these gunmen were roaming the streets.”
— In one of the more serious spates of Muslim persecution of Palestinian Christians, at least five churches were attacked and burned last September in response Pope Benedict XVI’s condemnation of Muslim fanaticism.
Somehow, all of these examples and the hundreds more that are not listed here escaped the attention of Reuter’s Alistair Lyon, leaving him free to conclude that “Israeli oppression” is behind the dwindling number of Christians living in the Holy Land.