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Friday, 9 April 2010

The forgotten plight of Palestinian Christians!


Christians around the world have just finished celebrating the Easter holiday--and thousands did so by making the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem (where the Church of Holy Sepulchre is one of Christianity's most revered sites). Yet for many Palestinian Christians who have attempted to make this journey, ongoing Israeli restrictions on movement have made this a particularly discouraging holiday, with many being turned away at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, specifically in Bethlehem where hundreds demonstrated in the week leading up to Easter. 

These events combined with the recent US-Israel controversies regarding Jerusalem have begun to shine a light on one of the more problematic if underreported issues surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict: namely, Israel's problematic approach to the protection of religious freedom. This of course is a far cry from the many attempts of Israeli officials and supporters to claim it as a beacon of religious freedom that protects the rights of religious minorities and notably of the Christian community in the Holy Land. The deputy consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico, Paul Hirschson, recently took this questionable notion to extremes, applauding Israel's efforts to protect the religious freedoms of Christians while claiming the rest of Middle Eastern countries and the international community were indifferent to or exacerbated their plight. Sadly, it is Israel that is at the cutting edge of contributing to this tragic reality for Christians in the region.

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