Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Other Hitchens Visits PA and Gaza

Gaza Strip: Lattes, beach bbqs and dodging missiles in the world's biggest prison camp | Mail Online
The Brothers Hitchens: Christopher and Peter

Peter Hitchens has been visiting the West Bank and Gaza and has written a balanced portrait of what he has seen and heard there. Of course, because it is published in the Daily Mail it will probably be perceived as right-wing propaganda:

"Don't, please, accuse of me of complacency or denying the truth. I do not pretend to know everything about Gaza. I don't think it is a paradise, or remotely normal. But I do know for certain what I saw and heard.

There are dispiriting slums that should have been cleared decades ago, people living on the edge of subsistence. There is danger. And most of the people cannot get out. 

But it is a lot more complicated, and a lot more interesting, than that. In fact, the true state of the Gaza Strip, and of the West Bank of the Jordan, is so full of paradoxes and surprises that most news coverage of the Middle East finds it easier to concentrate on the obvious, and leave out the awkward bits.

Which is why, in my view, politicians and public alike have been herded down a dead end that serves only propagandists and cynics, and leaves the people of this beautiful, important part of the world suffering needlessly. 

For instance, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently fawned on his Islamist hosts in Turkey by stating Gaza was a 'prison camp'. This phrase is the official line of the well-funded Arab and Muslim lobby, who want to make sure Israel is seen by the world as a villainous oppressor."

More importantly, I think, Hitchens also has alot to say about the false charge raised against Israel that it is the cause of the Christian exodus from the West Bank. Apparently, according to Time Magazine,"...the creation of Israel has been a disaster for Christians in the Middle East." Come Christmas time, we will no doubt be reading about how Israel has driven the Christians out of Bethlehem. The libel is spread by the likes of Dr. Naim Ateek who peddles "Replacement Theology" through his work at Sabeel the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem and whose 'mission' is to demonize Israel out of existence. 

More from Hitchens: "... I feel all of us should be aware of – (is) the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: 'Life was better for us under Israeli rule.'One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: 'We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.'

This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – 'world opinion' was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.

I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.My guide and host reckons there are 30,000 Christians in the three neighbouring municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit-Sahour and Beit- Jala. 

Soon there will be far fewer.He has found out that 2,000 emigrated between 2001 and 2004, a process which has not stopped. What is most infuriating about this is that many Christians in Britain are fed propaganda blaming this on the Israelis."

It's nice to see that at least one of the Hitchens brothers isn't as equivocal about Israel as the other.

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