Sunday, December 23, 2007

Palestinian Christians prepare for Christmas, call for Israel to drop title of "Jewish state"

Christmas under Hamas rule
By Katya Adler
BBC News, Gaza City

Earlier this year, the Islamist Hamas party took control of Gaza, home to a thriving Christian community now preparing to celebrate their first Christmas under Hamas rule.

Palestinian Christians are known as Nasserine - the people of Nazareth

Manawel Musallam - priest, headmaster and Gazan - is a rotund, avuncular man, fond of wearing berets.

I have come to his office to ask how Christians in Gaza were faring on this, their first Christmas under the full internal control of Hamas.

"You media people!" Father Musallam boomed at me when I first poked my head around his door.

"Hamas this, Hamas that. You think we Christians are shaking in our ghettos in Gaza? That we're going to beg you British or the Americans or the Vatican to rescue us?" he asked.

"Rescue us from what? From where? This is our home."

Extended family

The pupils at the Holy Family School, Gaza City, all call Manawel Musallam "Abunah" -Our Father in Arabic.

His is a huge family of 1,200 children and, although the school is part-funded by the Vatican, here, as in all of Gaza, Christians are the minority.

Ninety-nine percent of the pupils here are Muslim. This is one of the reasons Fr Musallam says he does not fear the Islamists.

"They should be afraid. Not me," he chuckled.

"Their children are under my tutelage, in my school. Hamas mothers and fathers are here at parents' day along with everyone else."

But there is more that binds Christians and Muslims in Gaza than their children's shared playground.(MORE)

Patriarch rapped for anti-Israel remarks
Jewish groups denounced remarks by Patriarch Michel Sabbah as an "insidious campaign to de-Judaize the State of Israel".
Sunday, December 23, 2007By Martin Barillas

Both the Anti-Defamation League and The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced statements made by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah in his annual Christmas message on December 19th. The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Pope Benedict XVI to reject statements made by Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah last week in Jerusalem. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and dean of the center, claims that Patriarch Sabbah is engaging in an "insidious campaign to de-Judaize the State of Israel". This came in response to the patriarch's call on Israel to "discard its identity as a Jewish State".

The leader of Latin-rite Catholics in Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, the West Bank and Gaza Patriarch Michel Sabbah said that where "there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against'' and that Israel should bring about a ''political, normal state." Furthermore, the prelate pronounced "There is discrimination linked to the nature of the state. Israel says simply 'I am a Jewish state' and that creates discrimination with regard to non-Jews."(MORE)

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