They Cry in Silence Mar/Apr 2009

What could you expect if you were among the 2,000 to 3,000 Christians living in the Gaza Strip now controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization? Nothing good. As we have reported repeatedly, radical Islamists have promised to drive all Christians from the region. And they are working diligently to keep that promise.

Jonathan Spyer of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, recently updated Jerusalem Post readers on the dire situation.

In an article titled “Analysis: Cruelty and Silence in Gaza,” he said there is a “systematic campaign of persecution,” unreported in the Western media, that is intensifying rapidly: “The perpetrators are a variety of Islamist groups, all of which are manifestations of a process of growing Islamic militancy and piety taking place across the region.” Although Hamas claims an official commitment to tolerate the Christian community, in reality it does no such thing. When radicals attack Christians and Christian institutions, authorities are indifferent and refuse to arrest the guilty or protect the Christians. Therefore, wrote Spyer, Christians are being targeted with impunity: “Intimidation, assault and the threat of kidnapping are now part of daily reality for Christians.”

Terrorist splinter groups that have sprung up across Gaza blame their existence on Christians whom they say expose Gaza residents to a pro-Western influence that threatens Islamic dominance. They unwittingly but clearly make the case that Islam has an internal sense of inferiority that makes it unable to stand up to Christianity’s freedom, individual initiative, liberation of women, and creativity.

Perhaps these inhibitions fueled the February 2006 and April 2007 bombings of the Palestinian Bible Society’s “Teacher’s Bookshop” in Gaza City and the October 2007 murder of the book-store’s manager, 29-year-old Rami Ayyad. In 2008, both a school operated by nuns and the American International School in Beit Lahiya were also bombed. Two other schools have been attacked, as was the YMCA library.

Wrote Spyer: “The persecution of Christians is not emerging from a small Islamist fringe. Rather, it is part of a larger process of Islamization taking place in Palestinian society.” Sadly, this is the greater threat menacing not only the Middle East but the international community as well.

Since the expulsion of Jews and Christians from Gaza, the most vulnerable target has become the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), where the Christian population is much larger and better organized. With Israel’s current administration determined to turn 98 percent of that area over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), it is not surprising Christians are apprehensive. They know full well what has occurred in Bethlehem, where marauding Islamist zealots have provoked a Christian exodus from the town where Jesus was born.

And when Mahmoud Abbas is replaced as chairman of the PA, which could occur soon, Judea and Samaria may well fall under control of a government dominated by Hamas. If and when the Israelis are forced to vacate the West Bank, as they were the Gaza Strip, the same campaign of terror will be waged.

And though many uninformed and indifferent forces in America and the West will call it progress toward peace, it will be anything but that for long suffering Palestinian Christians who deserve better than being forced to wander as homeless refugees.

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