Muslim apartheid in Bethleham
A number of Christian families have finally decided to break their silence and talk openly about what they describe as Muslim persecution of the Christian minority in this city.There is more. Muslim apartheid is the real problem of the Middle East and is responsible for much of the conflict. It also shows the dishonesty of Muslims who claim that they would respect Jews if they were in charge of the country. In fact Jews are even rarer than Christians in the Palestinian Authorities area of responsibility.
The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of "intimidation" for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded "collaborators" with Israel.
But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.
"The situation is very dangerous," said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station. "I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation."
Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with fire-bombs, but no one was hurt.
Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.
Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family's six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. "A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land," said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. "We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land," she said, almost in tears. "Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale." When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.