Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Good for Our Christian Friends of Israel

Here is some correspondence I received (I'll keep it anonymous) displaying the thinking of UK Christian friends of Israel and Zionism:



On December 23rd I was interviewed live on BBC News 24 (TV) regarding the Archbishop’s comments. This gave me opportunity to refer to the growth of the Christian community in Israel from 30,000 to 130,000 since 1948 and to the current persecution of Christians in Iran which has nothing to do with British Foreign Policy. The timing of arrests there showed the real motivation as a reaction to criticism by Christians of Holocaust denial. You may also be aware of my piece (attached) on the security barrier at Bethlehem and the gift of Life as a result to 750 Jews and Arabs in Israel! This is on two internet websites and was broadcast on the Sky satellite. I know these are small responses but they do reflect the support of many Christians for Israel.

Geoffrey Smith

Deputy Director

Christian Friends of Israel


Sent: 24 December 2006 20:17
Subject: Re: Bethlehem

Thank you, . You will have seen my letter on this subject to the Daily Mail, also. It will seem to some noteworthy that one of the few things that spiritual leaders in England of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Free Church denominations are able to unite on is a wholly misdirected scapegoating of Israel at Christmas in Bethlehem, where the persecutors of the Christian inhabitants for many years have been Muslims under Palestinan Authority rule.

We have the testimony of many Christian witnesses over the years to the truth about Islamic persecution and violence that has made life unbearable and prompted mass emigration. We are also aware that the defensive barrier (less than 5% of which is wall and which I have personally inspected) dramatically reduced suicide bombings and other killing of defenceless Israeli families by over 90%. We know, too, that the wall sections are at towns, where close proximity would make a fence ineffective against the snipers who kill innocent civilians. And we also know that, as you point out, the wall is not impenetrable but has gates for law-abiding travellers and that an extra one was opened at Bethlehem in time for Christmas.

It really is inconceivable that these easily ascertainable facts are unknown to the Church leaders, that they should hasten to condemn without hearing the position from Israeli spokesmen and that they are apparently ignorant of the long history of anti-Christian discrimination throughout the Islamic world and the refreshing difference in Israel, where all faiths have access to their holy shrines and places of worship and there is - uniquely - complete freedom of religion for the followers of Christianity and other faiths.

I don't wish to sound impertinent and I am not an authority but I understood that the Jewish bible was part of Holy Writ and I find it incomprehensible and distressing that Church leaders should openly break the 9th of the 10 Commandments and bear what is patently false witness against their Jewish neighbour, across the way from Bethlehem.

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2006 1:35 AM
Subject: Bethlehem


I find the remarks made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with regards to his visit to Bethlehem, rather surprising in view of the fact that I think he really knows the truth.

He puts the blame of Christians leaving Bethlehem, partly on the war in Iraq and also on the Israeli security barrier.

Now I know that the Archbishop is aware of the population figures of the Christian Community in Bethlehem, which was 75% in 1950 and is now a mere 12%. What also should be mentioned is that two thirds of the Christian Arab population left between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan occupied the West Bank and long before the Iraq war or the construction of the security barrier.

If the security barrier is such a deterrent to living conditions in Bethlehem, why has the Muslim community not gone down in numbers.

The truth is something which the Archbishop only hinted at, and that is that the Christian Arabs who reside under the control of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, are subject to various forms of persecution, such as the loss of their land, forced marriages of Christian women to Muslim men and the firebombing of Churches in Nablus, Tubas and Gaza after the Pope's controversial remarks.

I also failed to hear the Archbishop, when commenting on the decline of the Christian communities in all the countries of the Middle East, stating that Israel is the only country in that region where the Christian Arab population has grown from 34000 in 1948 to more than 130000 in 2005.

As for tourism to Bethlehem, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, the number of people visiting Bethlehem in 2004 was 110000 and in 2005 218000. In addition Israel has just completed, in time for Christmas, a new crossing point at the Northern part of the city.

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