Why are Palestinian Christians leaving the West Bank?
A friend of mine pointed this out on his Face Book page today.
45.9% of Americans blame Muslims for the Christian immigration out of the Holy Land, while only 7.4% of Americans cite Israeli restrictions as contributing to Arab Christian immigration. However, when Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem were asked about the primary cause for Christian immigration out of the area, 78% cited Israeli restrictions as their reason for leaving.
The statistic is from an article entitled Challenging the Evangelical Bias Against Palestinians.
Why is there such a disconnect between why Americans, and be extension American Christians, think that Palestinian Christians are leaving the West Bank and the actual reasons cited by the Palestinian Christians themselves?
Simple: The real reason why Palestinian Christians are leaving is Israeli restrictions (like home demolitions, land seizures, road blocks, checkpoints, walls that cut through private property and isolate people from their families…..) and any time the word “Israel” is mentioned as inflicting any kind of pain on Christians, it challenges a cherished belief system that goes something like this:
Jews and Christians = good, pure, innocent, God’s people
Muslims = evil, unclean, guilty, persecutors of God’s people
Because this narrative is so ingrained in us, the “us” vs. “them” mentality with “us” always being the embodiment of pure good and “them” always being the embodiment of pure evil, it’s hard for us to see it any other way. Further complicating the problem is the fact that for many Christians in America, the only information they have about the Muslim world is what they read in the Voice of the Martyrs magazine. No wonder it’s hard to see Muslims as anything else but the evil persecutor of Christians! You’ll never read about Christian militias that have massacred Muslims in places like Nigeria, Lebanon, the Philippines, and Indonesia in a magazine dedicated to highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians.
I’m not saying that a ministry like Voice of the Martyrs is wrong for highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians. I’ve been doing that for years on my blog. What I am saying is that if all the average Christian knows about the Muslim world is what they read about in the magazine or newsletter of their favorite ministry highlighting the suffering of persecuted Christians, , it leads to a distorted, unbalanced picture. We forget that Christian fundamentalism, and, yes, Jewish fundamentalism can be just as oppressive as Islamic fundamentalism.
Jesus had it right when he said, “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We ignore his teachings at our peril.