To Christian Zionists from Palestinian Christians: Enough complicity with Israel

italiatelegraph

 

 

 

 

Ryan Al-Natour

 

 

 

In Bethlehem, Christian leaders in the town where Jesus was born made a heart-breaking announcement in mid-November 2023: Christmas would be cancelled this year in Palestine.

The decision came from senior church deacons and the Christian mayor of Bethlehem. In years past, Palestinian towns would be decorated with Christmas trees and joyful lights. Children would receive gifts and visits from Santa. But this year, the Bishops and Church Leaders in Jerusalem issued a ‘call upon our parishes to let aside unnecessary celebrations this year’.

Father Yousef Matta, the Orthodox Bishop of Galilee based in Nazareth, echoed this position, declaring that parishes across occupied Palestine would cancel Christmas celebrations. In Ramallah, church services attended by children took turns praying for their brethren under fire in the Gaza Strip.

Christmas is, of course, not the holiest day in the Christian calendar – that would be Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. However, Christmas is our most joyous holiday, during which Palestinian Christians show gratitude for the birth of the Prince of Peace.

And yet, for the past 75 years, Palestine, the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, has been robbed of peace.

This year, there is a genocide in which the Palestinian death toll has already far exceeded that of the original Nakba.

Given the unwavering financial and military support extended to Israel’s war machine by the United States, as well as its continual vetoing of ceasefire efforts in the UN, no end is likely in sight.

Instrumentalising our suffering
What an odd situation that we Palestinian Christians find ourselves in. We hear evangelical Christian ministers in the United States, like John Hagee, speak about war in ecstatic and thrilling terms.

“Christian Zionists maintain that the Book of Genesis says that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse it. They insist that if America, as a country, does not “bless” Israel (that is, offer its government its unconditional support), God will curse America,” he proclaimed.

Such rhetoric by Christian Zionism imposes violence upon Christian Palestinians, which ignores several vital facts.

Christians in Palestine have existed continuously and have lived in harmony with Muslims for millennia. The Christian Zionist approach weaponizes Western racism, Orientalism and Islamophobia, which are the antithesis of peaceful co-existence. In fact, Christians of Palestine are being subjected to the same anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic racism as our Muslim compatriots.

Christians are dying in Gaza under Israel’s indiscriminate bombing campaign. In the West Bank, Christians face assault on their persons, neighbourhoods, and churches from Israeli settlers.

Yet racist right-wing media claim Palestinian leaders cancelled Christmas ‘in honour of Hamas martyrs’ as Israel continues to battle terrorists in Gaza’. But the martyrs we’re talking about are thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children who were murdered by Israel, many Christians.

On October 20th 2023, Israel bombed the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church in Gaza City, killing several Palestinians. It was Gaza’s oldest church, and Palestinians held a massive joint funeral for those martyred.

As a Christian Palestinian in Gaza named Fadi told the international press, ‘nobody is safe in Gaza, regardless of [their] religion’.

Palestinian families are rushing to baptize their youngest, anticipating their death could come at any moment.

Western Christians have had a unique, often contradictory fascination with Palestinian Christians. Some of them are surprised to find out that we exist; others claim the Israeli state is there to ‘save’ us. Then others have watched our genocide and supported the Zionist state in the hope of the Messiah’s ‘second coming’. It is perplexing to see how some Christian Zionists think that the return of a Palestinian Jew who founded Christianity would somehow be ‘pleased’ that they cheered the onslaught of 20 thousand Palestinians and counting.

Unrecognizable Christianity in the West
The West’s ‘white saviourism’ offends and insults Christian Palestinians.

But we ask the West here: do not speak on our behalf. Please keep your white saviours to yourself and stay in your lane. Do not use us as discussion points that support our genocide or vilify our Muslim Brothers and Sisters.

The Christian Zionist approach to Christians in Palestine is in line with the West’s ‘divide and conquer’ methods. In response, Palestinian Christians echo the words of a Palestinian Orthodox Church Monk, Father Antonius Hannania, who said that if the Zionists bombed every mosque in Gaza, he would conduct the Adhaan (call to prayer). Palestinian Christians stand with our Muslim Brothers and Sisters in Gaza, and we will not allow Zionists to divide us in our shared struggle against the Israeli settler colony’s racism, apartheid and genocide of Palestinians.

From the Bishops and Church leaders across Occupied Palestine to the exiled diaspora, Christian Palestinians will join the call to cancel celebrations accordingly. Our ancestors protected the budding religion that Jesus of Nazareth gifted to us.

It was our ancestors who nurtured this new faith in the early centuries after his death and spread the Gospels. Christian Zionists today practise a version of this religion that is unrecognizable to us. It remains perhaps one of the greatest ironies that a religion founded by a Palestinian man is instrumentalized in the genocide of the Palestinians.

With the genocide occurring over the sacred holiday, we ask Christians of the world to abstain from celebrating this year, but we highly doubt that this will be considered by the likes of Christian Zionists.

Whilst we remain grief-stricken, in mourning and horrified, Palestinian Christians will take little comfort in watching Christian Zionists celebrate a holiday that we gifted the world whilst they drape their homes in red and green – colours that perhaps they should notice, match the flag of Palestine.

 


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