Friday, May 19, 2023

  • Friday, May 19, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon
The US State Department issued its annual report on world religious freedom for the year 2022.

Its section on Israel and the territories is huge - over 22,000 words, and it might be the largest chapter in the entire report. 

It is also highly problematic.

Its methodology is flawed; it appears to rely on English language  newspaper articles and anti-Israel NGO reports,  and has a laundry list of supposed Israeli crimes in great detail. 

But for the Palestinian Authority, while it does mention a number of cases of incitement on Palestinian TV, it too often relies on their official statements and does not look any further into the issues. It follows that there are a lot of omissions and mistakes when it comes to Palestinian violations of freedom of religion.

For example, it says, "PA land laws prohibit Palestinians from selling Palestinian-owned lands to 'any man or judicial body corporation of Israeli citizenship, living in Israel or acting on its behalf.'” The laws might say that officially, but in reality Israeli Arabs buy lots of properties in the West Bank without any issue - the land laws are specifically meant to stop Jews from buying land.

That's an egregious example of religious discrimination that flew under the State Department radar.

Similarly, while it brings many examples of haredi Jews supposedly attacking Christians, there is not a word about Muslim persecution of Christians in Palestinian controlled areas. Emigration of Christians is explained by Christian groups who are both antisemitic and scared to antagonize their Muslim antagonists:

According to NGOs, community members, and media commentators, factors contributing to Christian emigration included political instability, the inability to obtain residency permits for spouses due to the Law of Citizenship and Entry, limited ability of Christian communities in the Jerusalem area to expand due to building restrictions, difficulties Christian clergy experienced in obtaining Israeli visas and residency permits, loss of confidence in the peace process, and economic hardships created by the establishment of the barrier and the imposition of travel restrictions. The Israeli government previously stated such difficulties stemmed from the “complex political and security reality” and not from any restrictions on the Christian community.
This Christian site, writing in 2022, mentions many of the same factors - but then adds this:

The main factor driving Christian emigration is persecution. In the survey conducted by the Philos Project and the PCPSR, over 40% of Palestinian Christians surveyed indicated that they feel that Muslims do not wish to see them in Palestine. Additionally, 44% feel that there is discrimination against Christians when seeking employment, and 50% describe their economic situation as “bad or very bad.” Nearly 30% have been called a “non-believer” or “crusader” by Muslims.

Palestinian Christians are no strangers to violence. Father Justinus, a monk at Jacob’s Well Monastery on the outskirts of Nablus, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, was beaten in January 2022. The elderly monk has survived 32 life-threatening attacks throughout his time at the monastery.
Even though the report details dozens of specific attacks, the attack on Father Justinius was not mentioned.  Neither were those surveys and the fact of Muslim persecution of Christians. They had their narrative and didn't want to look beyond what the anti-Israel NGOs said.

Other parts of the report are just strange. It says, "On April 14, Israeli police arrested six Jewish activists who were planning to sacrifice a goat on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount ahead of Passover." In the context of this report, they are making it sound like they were violating the religious rights of the Jews - and in a sense, they did - but the report doesn't mention the reason for the arrests, to avoid a huge escalation in tensions on the holy spot is not mentioned. 

The sheer size of the report, and its overwhelming emphasis on Israeli violations compared to the PA and Hamas, gives the false impression that there is little religious freedom under Israeli rule compared to other countries. Considering how detailed the report is, it seems unlikely that the omissions were accidental. 

(h/t Irene)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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