Sunday, December 28, 2014

Norway: Jesus' Manger will soon be empty, because of Israel

Jan-Erik Smilden, Norwegian journalist reporting from the Middle East, bemoans the sad state of Christians in the Middle East.

His op-ed piece is titled "The Manger will soon be empty".  Sub-heading: "The Christians in the Middle East are experiencing one of history's worst Christmas seasons, and it will probably get worse."

So, he probably starts off  by talking about the Christians of Iraq, or Egypt, right?

No... wait.  He bemoans the sad state of Palestinians Christians in Bethlehem.

What is the main reason Bethlehem is now empty of Christians?   (it isn't, but Smilden thinks it is, so we'll go with it for now)

It's not the inter-Christians battles over the Church of the Nativity.

It's not the problems with the Muslims.

It's not even the fact that Hamas is now in political control of the city.

What could it possibly be?

Of course.  Israel.

The Israeli occupation is the main reason for the fact that there are now less than 20% Christians in Bethlehem.

[Apparently, the fact that the Palestinian Authority changed the borders of the city in order to include more Muslims is a negligible reason.  Because luckily we have Israel to blame.]

Why?  The wall, the wall, have we mentioned the wall?

Israeli takeover of lands, which, Smilden points out, affects Christians and Muslims equally.  But he somehow uses it to explain why there are less Christians specifically.

The war in Gaza, which is apparently all Israel's fault.

Religious tensions in Jerusalem  (that's newspeak for "Muslims trying to kill Jews") - which is also apparently all Israel's fault.

The last two affect tourism in Bethlehem, which is the lifeblood of the city.

Israeli tour guides who don't let their charges stay overnight in Bethlehem.   Same goes for Christian-Zionist tour guides, who don't care about the Palestinians and think they're all terrorists (his words, not mine).

Anyway, after discussing Bethlehem for three paragraphs, he finally starts his article about Christians in the Middle East.  A short summary about the fact that there's barely any left, one paragraph about Syria and Iraq ("they've got it the worst") and another about the Egyptian Copts.

Too bad Smilden hates Israel more than he actually cares about his chosen topic.  Even his editor (who, I assume, wrote the headline), didn't think it was about Christians in the Middle East.

Because, really - how can you compare whining about Islamic State beheadings when Palestinian Christians have Israeli tour guides to deal with?

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