On Good Friday, I stood atop the remnant of the Santa Barbara shrine, destroyed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and observed a panorama of the picturesque village of Aboud. I could see properties confiscated to make room for the Israeli security wall, at the cost of centuries-old olive trees. Nearby are two enclosed, heavily guarded Israeli settlements, with four times Aboud's Palestinian population.
Defenders of Israeli policy claimed my facts were wrong Feb. 16 when I wrote that the wall threatens Israel's tiny Christian minority and particularly Aboud's Christian roots going back two millennia. Coming here for a firsthand look, I found the plight of the village's Christians worse than I had reported.
But this is no Christian problem. During Easter Week, I visited Palestinian territory in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza as well as Aboud. Christians share the harsh fate of Palestinian Muslims in the wake of the disastrous Second Intifada. The blunt-spoken head of Roman Catholic Palestinians, Latin Patriarch Michael Sabbah, told me: "The world has abandoned the Palestinians."
If the world is uninterested in Palestinians generally, the plight of their co-religionists attracts the attention of Roman Catholics -- with Aboud a striking example. Of the village's 2,200 residents, 418 are Catholics and 375 Greek Orthodox. Thirty Catholic families have moved out, and more are expected to follow.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Robert Novak on Walled Off Christians in the Holy Land