Orlando Sentinel columnist Charley Reese, whose voluminous
anti-Israel portfolio includes frequent severe distortions of fact, is at it
again. In his October 24th column entitled Racism, Bigotry Bad for
All he grossly misrepresents the current dangerous situation facing
Christian Arabs in the Palestinian areas. He writes:
The dispute with the Israelis is
over territory not religion. No less a man than a leader of Hamas reminded a
caller, who asked how Hamas would treat Christians, that Islam teaches that
Muslims must treat Christians as they would treat themselves.
Reeses anecdotal story about an unnamed Hamas leader in an
unidentified conversation flies in the face of the experience of Christian
Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. Thus, for example, in article entitled
Hundreds of Christian Arab families fleeing PA areas, (October 25,
2000) Jerusalem Post reporter Margot Dudkevitch describes the flight
of Christians fearful of attacks from Palestinian Muslims:
Since the outbreak of violence in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip, hundreds of Christian Arab families have left
with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry and foreign embassies, such as
those of England, Canada, and Cyprus, Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the
coordinator of activities in the territories, said yesterday.
In some cases, embassies sent cars to pick up
the families from their homes in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Gaza, Nablus, and
Tulkarm, granting passports to spouses and grandparents and offering financial
assistance or air tickets to leave Israel, he said. In many cases the embassies
eased restrictions and granted passports where only one of the couples had
citizenship, to assist in their departure. A small number of those seeking to
leave were Moslems, he added.
Lately the number of requests has
subsided. Those left don't have foreign citizenship, but all those able to have
left, said Dror. He recalled the speech made by a Moslem preacher in a
Gaza mosque after prayers on a recent Friday, in which he called on
Palestinians to attack Israelis and Christians. Shortly afterward, a group of
Christians was attacked in Gaza, he said.
His statements came as Israeli security
officials said that the Palestinian Authority did not choose Beit Jala as the
focus of violence by coincidence, but in an attempt to draw the Christian
population into the conflict, a step it hopes will generate international
support and criticism of Israel for shooting at civilians. . . .
While Reese relies on hearsay to buttress his claim that Palestinian Muslim
leaders are calling for tolerance of Christians, he completely ignores
documented cases of virulently anti-Christian speeches by Palestinian Authority
religious leaders. Thus, for example, the Friday, October 13th sermon of Dr.
Ahmad Abu Halabaya, a member of the PA appointed Fatwa Council and
former acting Rector of the Islamic University in Gaza, which was broadcast on
From here, Allah the almighty has
called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them,
not to become their partners, not to support them, and not to sign agreements
with them. And he who does that, is one of them, as Allah said: 'O you who
believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies, for they are allies
of one another. Who from among you takes them as allies will indeed be one of
...The Jews are the allies of the Christians,
and the Christians are the allies of the Jews, despite the enmity that exists
between them. The enmity between the Jews and the Christians is deep, but all
of them are in agreement against the monotheists against those who say, 'There
is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger,' that is they are against
you, O Muslims. (Translated by MEMRI)
Such incitement has apparently led to anti-Christian attacks by Palestinian
Muslims, such as the October 14th torching of Gazas Windmill Hotel and
Christian shops that sold alcohol, which is prohibited by Islam. Amira Haas, of
Haaretz, reports October 15, 2000 on some of the anti-Christian
Palestinian youths raided several
establishments in Gaza City where liquor is sold on Friday. The youths set fire
to the hotel in the middle of the city, along with a liquor store at the Shati
refugee camp and two private homes where alcohol is sold legally. A number of
political organizations in Gaza claimed that Hamas operatives were responsible
for the attacks.
According to eyewitnesses, Palestinian
Authority police didn't intervene in the attacks on the liquor establishments
and firefighters were unable to douse the flames at all the various locations.
. . .
While denying that their movement was
responsible for the attacks on the liquor establishments, Hamas members
stressed that the Palestinian public is furious that immoral places like
these operate during days when Israel is attacking the Palestinian
Seven gas canisters were rescued from the Al
Tahunah hotel at the last moment, thereby averting a major disaster. . .
During an earlier stage of the disturbances,
some ten days ago, some Gaza nightclubs and liquor stores were also burned. . .
For Charley Reese to suggest that Christians are secure now in Palestinian
Authority areas, and will be safe in the future, is to deny the real danger
that community faces. But such indifference to facts are commonplace in Charley