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This column was submitted to my editors and they refused to publish it. You decide. American Jewish reporters and columnists can print anything they want about Israel, Jews and even criticism of Arabs and Palestinians. But Christian Arabs are prohibited from criticizing Israel.
The plight of Christians in Israel (and outside, too)
By Ray Hanania
My mother and father were from Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Being Palestinian and Christian means a lot to me.
It’s distressing so many Americans don’t understand the problems that Israel has caused in Palestine. They only see it from one perspective, that Israel is a Democracy and the Arabs are terrorists.
It’s not that way at all.
Palestine was a mandated country under the British. After a lot of lobbying, and violence from Jewish terrorists, the British sent the issue to the United Nations which voted to partition Palestine into “Two-States,” one Jewish and one Arab.
It really wasn’t two states, though. It was six sections that overlapped like a checkerboard.
Arabs, like my family, rejected the Partition. It was a stupid map that made no sense. The two states crisscrossed and anyone with commonsense saw it couldn’t work.
Between the UN vote for partition and Israel’s declaration of independence, Jewish militants launched a war against the Christians and Muslims, taking not only lands designated to be a part of the Jewish State but also areas designated to be in the Arab State, like Galilee. They also grabbed West Jerusalem and most major Arab cities.
It wasn’t until May 15, 1948, a day after Israel declared its independence, that the surrounding Arab countries declared war. By then, Israel had a military foothold on the land and the money and military backing of the United States. The ill-equipped armies of Egypt and Syria tried but failed to push the Israeli backs. Only Jordan’s army , which was British trained and led, was of any substance holding the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel tried hard to take in 1948, too.
During the war, Israel expelled hundreds of thousands on non-Jews (Christians and Muslims), and refused to let them return.
My fathers and his older brother immigrated and settled in Chicago in the 1920s. But in 1948, their mother, brothers, sisters and their nieces and nephews were forced to flee their home in West Jerusalem. They lived in refugee camps in Jordan until the early 1950s when my dad brought them to Chicago.
Israel always wanted the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In 1967, they got their wish, attacking the Arab countries in the face of loud bombastic threats from Egypt’s President Nasser.
Christians in areas like Bethlehem were forced to flee, again.
Israel isn’t a Democracy. It is a Jewish State. Those of my relatives who remained as “citizens” in Israel are discriminated against daily. It’s worse in the West Bank.
It irks me that local congressmen have turned their backs on Christian Palestinians and support Israel blindly. I don’t need to name them. We all know who they are.
It is tragic that Americans, who are predominantly Christian, have abandoned Christians in Bethlehem and the Holy Land. Politics has focused instead on Muslims and exploited the growing American fear of Islamic extremism, like what we see today in Syria and Iraq.
Israel is brutalizing Christian Palestinians and American Christians have turned their backs. Why? Because American Christians have been brainwashed by years of biased news media coverage and viciously racist Hollywood movies and TV shows like the racist FX series “Tyrant.”
Believe me when I say both sides have done unspeakable things to each other.
I wish American Christians would wake up and become Christian again. I’m not sure if they have it in them anymore.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall columnist. Reach him at email@example.com. Most of the time, when “acceptable”, Hanania’s columns are published in the Des Plaines Valley News, the Southwest News-Herald, the Reporter Newspapers and the Regional News.)
This post has already been read 148 times!
Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com