As an immigrant to America, I feel I have a mission not to forget the minorities living in the Middle East who do not have a media voice. I was born in Bethlehem and worked in the media throughout Israel and the West Bank. The opinions I offer are about my homeland.
The Middle Eastern peace process began with 1992 negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The negotiations were centered on three things: the mutual recognition between the two parties, Israel relinquishing cities and areas it had occupied back in 1967 and the PLO taking over rule of those cities.That treaty stirred up the anxiety of Israeli citizens and some of the Palestinian inhabitants of Israel regarding the PLO. This organization's history of terrorism and lack of civil experience is well-known, and this corrupt regime should not be trusted or given responsibility over civilians. Just reflect on the consequences of the PLO's control over civilians in Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinian areas in Israel during the past 25 years.
Also, the peace treaty has stirred up the rage of the Islamic fundamentalist movements toward the PLO because of Yasser Arafat's recognition of the state of Israel. For according to the religious beliefs of Muslims, an Islamic state should be established in the land of Israel; Jews and Christians should be fought if they do not submit to the Islamic power. In fact, a large number of the world's Muslims believe that Jerusalem should be the capital of a great Islamic state.
I believe that the peace negotiations between Israel, Syria, Jordan and Egypt are sincere; seeking to protect international boundaries, exchanging economic, political and social interests and trying to end the continual disputes among these neighboring countries.
But as a Palestinian Christian, born in Bethlehem, I feel the negotiations between Israel and the PLO are nothing but a political-media game that has transformed Arafat, the international terrorist, into a fake model of peace, complete with Nobel Prize! Moreover, this political game has given a destructive organization power over innocent people.
The international media have focused on the Israeli-Arab Palestinian dispute, ignoring a primary victim - the Arab Christian. Forgotten are the Arab Christians who have been forced to submit to Islamic traditions and forbidden to practice their social and religious beliefs. The Palestinian Christians were excluded from Israeli citizenship despite having lived in the land of Israel for generations because of living in territories that were formerly under Jordanian occupation.
Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs have been given the name "Palestinians" as one people - despite their differences.
What has been called the "Palestinian people" is nothing but a large mixture of many nationalities from various people who came to the Holy Land over the generations in trading caravans, occupying armies, emigrant families escaping war, religious missionaries, etc.
Recently the newspapers published news reports about Israel's decision to relinquish six cities of the West Bank area to the PLO, and I, a Christian Arab from the Holy Land, was surprised and hurt when I found out that Bethlehem was one of them. This is totally unacceptable.
Bethlehem should not be relinquished and left for Arafat to rule. Israel should take into consideration its duty, as a country, to protect its Christian population and provide them with religious and social freedom as well as protect the Christian historical sites from Muslim violations.
Israel should not involve its Christian population in the political game and let them be victims once again. The PLO should not take Bethlehem, the city of peace and the birthplace of Christ. And we, the children of Bethlehem, won't allow any destructive terrorist to take hold of Bethlehem and control its inhabitants.