Translation of the article in Italian
I am devastated about what is happening to the HOLIEST PLACE IN CHRISTIANITY:
The Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, the BIRTH place of Jesus Christ our
Christians of the WORLD have lost their dignity and lost the moral courage it takes to defend their holiest places. Defending does not mean sending an army, it means to stand with what is right, true and fair for the Church and the people besieged in the church without food, water, electricity and put pressure on their governments, on the USA and Israel. It is taking too long. It is unfair. It calls for people of conscience.
Unfortunately, Christians of the worlds have been duped by Israel once again. How Arab-Christian will be able to tolerate living under such a brutal and violent occupation? This situation would create catastrophic consequences for Arab-Christians of the Holy Land. The Palestinian-Christians have been fleeing in record numbers and this is precisely the desire of the state of Israel.
Israel would like to force the Palestinian Christians out of the Holy land because it is their desire and their ultimate goal to rid the land of all Christians. This will give them the great opportunity to say to the world that the war in Palestine is a war against terrorism and make from our beloved Palestinian Muslims the target of this war. The way USA is doing in Afghanistan.
Yet, most American Christians and the Christians of the West are ignorantly being fed lies that they accept as a God given truth--that Israel's war is simply against Muslim Palestinians using the same logic of the Taliban/Afganistan. They are ignoring that the problem is the ISRAELI OCCUPATION and it is not a war against terrorism but a resistance against Occupation. And Palestinian resistance are Christians and Muslims.
Palestinian Christians of the Holy Land who have been living in harmony with Muslims for centuries feel abandoned and alone. They feel angry against the Christians in the West and specially the American Christians.
There is little that their Muslim blood brothers and sisters can do
to console and
defend the Palestinian Christians. Muslims from Qatar and Arab world offered to repair the destruction that the Israelis have done to the Holiest place of Christianity, the Church of the Nativity.
In fact, in the Church of the Nativity, Palestinian Muslims and Christians are sharing the same food, water and defending the place against the Israelis. They are not terrorists, it is their right by international law to defend their city from occupation. The Palestinians are fighting against the evils and frustrations of Israeli occupation for over 35 years. It is a right, it is not at all a crime. That Christians of the world are unable to see this reality and exercise any pressure to save the priests, the people, and the defenders of their Holy Place, or to exert pressure on Israel to deliver food, water, medicine for the besieged make Arab-Christians in the Middle East angry. This is an indifference based on a certain racism and hatred for the Arabs, regardless of his or her religion.
Palestinian Christians are angry at Western Christians who have abandoned them. Palestinian Christians feel that Western Christians have left them alone to face this brutal Israeli occupation simply because they are Arab Christians. This at least what many Arab-Christians have said to me as their pastor. If we were Italian, English, Irish, Americans, Germans, French would they do the same? Imagine if Jews would besiege Notre Dame of Paris, or the Vatican, or St. Patrick in New York. Or imagine if a group of any people would besiege Jews for days inside any synagogue in the world and deprive them from food, water, electricity and kill them with snipers. Would it be tolerated and accepted, would it take that long to save them and stand with the innocent Jews in a place of prayer? Wouldn't the whole world move to do immediately what is fair, right and just? Why they are doing this to our Arab Palestinians people? Why the West hates us that much? What did we do to deserve all this, what did the Palestinians do to the world? Who are we as Arab-Christians for the Christians of the West? Aren't we the Christians of the first centuries? The Christians who translated the Bible into different languages; the first who have created monachism, and religious orders; the first fathers of the Church; the first missionaries?
At his visit on March 2000 Pope Paul II was proud of the Palestinian
Christians and their history and thanked them for what they have given
to the world and praised the harmony between Muslims and Christians in
the Hoy Land.
How we can as Arab Christians recall with pride these words of the Pope?
How we can recall the many other speeches of the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, pastors preachers of the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant Churches?
They seem to many of the Arab Christians as just all these were words to the public opinion. But when there should be some actions, everybody finds a way to step back and try to think what to do and when to act. What a shame?
There is a kind of acceptance between the people in the West that killing Arabs, Muslims or Christians is a good things for the world. Our people say this and repeat it. And I can understand, as an Arab Catholic priest, their frustration and after months of destruction and massacres by Israel. What the world is waiting for? For a holocaust against Arabs?
The Christian Palestinian population fleeing the Holy Land are saying to me: When Sharon visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Muslims from around the world stood proudly to defend their Holy Place and they were so angry that Sharon had to leave immediately in front to the world wide condemnation.
But what have the Christians of the world done for the holiest place on earth, the place of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ? Nothing.
Never before in the history of the Church of the Nativity has it been attacked in this way. Even when the Persians conquered Bethlehem in 622 they absolutely respected the holiness of the place, because they saw some mosaics that depict the magi coming from Persia.
In 1948 20% of Palestinians in the Holy Land were Christian, today, because of the Israeli occupation and its attendant violence, poverty and discrimination that number has dwindled down to 1.8%. Statistics indicate that in a few years the Holy Land will become a Christian museum with no LIVING STONES. And what is the Holy Land without the Palestinian Christians? Without the true and oldest people of the land of Jesus Christ, descendants of the Cananites, Jesbusites, Aramites. These Arab-Christians who have been celebrating Christmas for 2000 years and the Holy week for 2000 years. What is the Holy Land without its rightful people?
Palestinian Christians feel that the Christians of the West lack the courage and morality to stand united with them, Christian Palestinians feel that the utter contempt and disregard that Western Christians have for Christian Palestinians stems from a kind of racism against all Arab peoples.
I am so afraid that Christians of the Holy Land will be forced to abandon the land because they themselves feel so alone, so depressed so unhappy to be called Christians at the same level of the Christian of the West.
I was sent to the United States to serve the Arab-American Christian community by my superior, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah. I have been a Pastor of the Arab-Americans in California for 10 years. I have witnessed the Arab-Christian community in San Francisco continue to grow with Christian immigrants from Ramallah, Bir-Zeit, Gifna, Bethlehem , Jerusalem, Taybeh ... coming to San Francisco to flee the ungodly Zionist occupation. Today there are more Palestinian Christians from Ramallah in San Francisco than in Ramallah itself.
What a shame?
Arab-Christians at the end are the losers, they lost their prestige,
future and their hopes. I am very concerned for them, perhaps I am so concerned because I am also an Arab Christian, I cannot rely on the non-Arab world to give a damn about the Palestinian-Christians.
I feel so ashamed of the Christians of the World.
Father Labib Kobti
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