I rubbed my eyes when I read this report in the Guardian.
Hard on the heels of printing a rotten old calumny about Israel supposedly being responsible for the reduction of Christians in the Palestinian Territories, notably in Bethlehem, a Guardian journalist no stranger to demonising Israel herself has managed to do a bit of journalism and discover the truth about the reasons why christians are leaving Gaza.
Christians are leaving Gaza for the same reasons they are leaving Judea and Samaria, Bethlehem (WB), Iraq, Egypt, everywhere in the middle east and muslim world, because of attacks against them, because of intimidation, because of murder, because of confiscation of their lands, their property and their livelihoods. The same thing happened just over half a century with the ethnic cleansing of almost a million jews when arab countries gained their independence.
As with the ancient coptic community, the jews were living all over the middle east for thousands of years before the arabs arrived.
Giving the lie to anti-Israel demonisers such as British Archbishop Rowan Williams
who blame the troubles of Christians on Israel is the fact that the only place in the middle east where christians can worship freely without hindrance or discrimination is in Israel.
Unlike everywhere else in the moslem world the population of christians in Israel is constantly rising. Contrast this with Iraq where almost a million christians have fled in the last 10 years, and Egypt where the the 'democratic' attacks on christians have led to 100,000 Coptic christians leaving Egypt for the west in the last year. With neither police nor army willing to defend the christian community against attack in Egypt, but instead often turning a blind eye or even joining in, the copts see the writing on the wall.
I doubt that Phoebe Greenwood has any intentions to return to Gaza in the near future. The palestinians don't take kindly to reporters who instead of reporting manufactured news from 'Pallywood' actually report the truth about what really happens.
Back to the palestinians and Hamas so beloved of western media and of a number of churches most notably members of the Anglican Church, the Methodists and Quakers. These churches are leaders in using the arab-Israel conflict as a tool with which to stir up hatred against the jewish people and Israel.
The catholic church is not far behind with a number its offshoots working hard to propagandise against the State of Israel (e.g. the vicious anti-Israel propaganda published by P.I.M.E in its 'Asianews' website from within the Vatican).
Pope Benedict himself wasn't above doing a little Israel bashing when he visited Bethlehem, criticising the Israeli security fence but failing to mention that it was erected because to keep out arab suicide bombers who inflicted thousands of deaths and injuries on innocent israelis.
And this Christmas the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster used his Christmas sermon to attack Israel
Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas
Phoebe Greenwood in Gaza City
guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 December 2011 12.55 GMT
Since the Palestinian Authority left the Gaza Strip, festive celebrations and displays of crucifixes have become taboo
When the Latin patriarch came to Gaza's Holy Family church to celebrate Christmas mass last week, he instructed a full house of Catholic and Orthodox families to pray for reconciliation. As the archbishop, Fouad Twal, stood at the lectern in Gaza City, Fatah and Hamas leaders were meeting in Cairo attempting to mend differences that have divided the Palestinian factions for four years and rendered Gaza a besieged Islamist enclave.
Of the 1.5 million Palestinians now living in the Gaza Strip, fewer than 1,400 are Christian and those who can are leaving. The church hopes reconciliation will bring them back.
There hasn't been a Christmas tree in Gaza City's main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday.
Imad Jelda is an Orthodox Christian who runs a youth training centre in Gaza City. With unemployment hovering at 23%, he has seen young Christian men leave to study and work abroad in their droves. "People here do not celebrate Christmas anymore because they are nervous," Jelda said. "The youth in particular have a fear inside themselves."
Karam Qubrsi, 23, and his younger brother Peter, 21, are the eldest sons in one of Gaza's 55 remaining Catholic families. Both wear prominent wooden crucifixes. "Jesus tells me, 'if you can't carry my cross, you don't belong to me,'" Peter explained. It's a demonstration of faith that has caused him some trouble.
He describes being stopped in the street by a Hamas official who told him to remove the cross. "I told him it's not his business and that I wouldn't," Peter said. After being threatened with arrest he was eventually let go, but the incident scared him.
The brightly decorated tree in the Qubrsis' living room sits at odds with the sombre mood. Their sisters Rani, 29, and Mai, 27, left Gaza in 2007 when the 30-year-old manager of Gaza's Bible Society bookstore, where their husbands worked, was shot dead, having been accused by radical elements of proselytising. They now live in Bethlehem.
Their parents are currently in Israel where their mother is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer. Israel applies strict restrictions to Palestinians hoping to leave the Gaza Strip, meaning the brothers are unable to join them. A quota of 500 applicants will be given permission to enter the West Bank this Christmas but only people younger than 16 and older than 35 will be considered.
"Christmas for us means going to Bethlehem, being with family. This year we'll do nothing," Karam said.
The Qubrsi brothers hold out little hope for Gaza. They agree that life would be better for the Christians here if the Palestinian Authority were to return but they doubt any factional peace would last.
"Many people want the Palestinian Authority to come back just so they can take their revenge," Peter said.
"This is not a Christian environment. There are no good universities, there is no opportunity to work, no apartments to rent and so no way we can get married. We have no future here."