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May 09, 2014

Stones Thrown at Christianity’s Living Stones

Men Fleeing.jpeg
The scene near St. George's Church on May 6, 2014.

Just how serious is the Palestinian Authority in protecting Christians in and around Bethlehem?

That’s the question Palestinians – and pilgrims to the city – need to be asking in light of the ugly and violent confrontation that took place at St. George’s Church in Khadar, just outside of Beit Jala on May 6, 2014. In addition to stone throwing, there was a stabbing.

Details are sketchy about what started the confrontation, and there are even contradictory reports about who was stabbed during the fight.

An initial report sent to Snapshots, indicated that a Christian was stabbed and others say, no it was a Muslim.

And while one source indicated that police were not on the scene, other reports indicate they were in fact present during the celebration of St. George’s Feast Day, which was attended by Greek Orthodox officials from Jerusalem.

Despite the contradictory reports, it seems pretty obvious that whatever police presence there was at St. George’s on its feast day, it was insufficient to prevent an outbreak of violence, which resulted in several injuries including one broken nose.

The Youtube video of the confrontation (which has gone viral) and photos obtained by Snapshots (posted above and below) reveal that was an outbreak of violence at St. George’s on what should have been a happy and festive celebration at the church.

In sum, stones were thrown at Christianity’s living stones near the city of Christ’s birth.

No matter how you look at it, the episode represents a failure on the part of the Palestinian Authority, one that local journalists and Christian leaders are – for understandable reasons – reluctant to highlight.

Man Gesturing.jpeg
The emotional aftermath of an attack at St. George's Church on May 6, 2014.

High-ranking church officials are telling people that the confrontation is over and that everything is fine. Given the circumstances, one can understand why church leaders want to put this story to bed.

One ugly confrontation can lead to another, particularly in a political environment in which the Palestinian Authority has recently reconciled with Hamas, an organization that seems intent on preparing yet another generation of Palestinian young people for a fruitless war with Israel.

Given the precarious position of Christians in Palestinian society, rocking the boat by complaining about Muslim violence and Palestinian Authority ineptitude is not a good idea.

The people who visit Bethlehem and the people who live there are faced with some important questions.

Has there been an uptick in expressions of hostility toward Christians in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns in the aftermath of the PA’s reconciliation with Hamas? Have the extremist elements in Palestinian society been given a boost by this reconciliation?

And if yes, is the Palestinian Authority equipped and willing to protect Christianity’s living stones from having rocks thrown at them?

Christian pilgrims and tourists from around the world will be paying very close attention to events in and around the city of Bethlehem for some time to come.

Posted by dvz at May 9, 2014 12:18 PM


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