Thursday, April 20, 2006

Robert Novak on Walled Off Christians in the Holy Land

From Townhall.com:

On Good Friday, I stood atop the remnant of the Santa Barbara shrine, destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and observed a panorama of the picturesque village of Aboud. I could see properties confiscated to make room for the Israeli security wall, at the cost of centuries-old olive trees. Nearby are two enclosed, heavily guarded Israeli settlements, with four times Aboud's Palestinian population.

Defenders of Israeli policy claimed my facts were wrong Feb. 16 when I wrote that the wall threatens Israel's tiny Christian minority and particularly Aboud's Christian roots going back two millennia. Coming here for a firsthand look, I found the plight of the village's Christians worse than I had reported.

But this is no Christian problem. During Easter Week, I visited Palestinian territory in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza as well as Aboud. Christians share the harsh fate of Palestinian Muslims in the wake of the disastrous Second Intifada. The blunt-spoken head of Roman Catholic Palestinians, Latin Patriarch Michael Sabbah, told me: "The world has abandoned the Palestinians."

If the world is uninterested in Palestinians generally, the plight of their co-religionists attracts the attention of Roman Catholics -- with Aboud a striking example. Of the village's 2,200 residents, 418 are Catholics and 375 Greek Orthodox. Thirty Catholic families have moved out, and more are expected to follow.

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