Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O Muslim town of Bethlehem…

How still we see thee lie.
And stiller, and stiller.

The Telegraph paints a bleak picture of the City of David this Christmas. Manger Square is not bustling with tourists, the Church of the Nativity is devoid of pilgrims, and no-one is worshipping in the candlelit grotto where the Lord Jesus is believed by tradition to have been born. Along with Jerusalem and Nazareth, Bethlehem is one of the most sacred sites for the world’s Christians, but this Christmas sees it cleansed of the faith that has sustained it for the past 60 years. The town's Christian population has dwindled from more than 90 per cent in 1948 to just 35 per cent of its 60,000 inhabitants in 2006, and this is diminishing by the week.

Christian hotels are empty, Christian businesses are boycotted, the souvenir shops are closed, Christians are verbally and physically abused, and there are murders, beatings and land grabs. If there is a job vacancy, it goes to a Muslim, not a Christian. One dare not display a cross or crucifix, and women wearing anything but Islamic dress are frequently spat upon by male Muslim youths.

The situation has become so desperate that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, are leading a joint delegation to Bethlehem to express their solidarity with the beleaguered Christian population.

The Cardinal said that Bethlehem is being ‘steadily strangled’. He did not say ‘by Islamic fundamentalism’ for fear of incurring the same wrath that befell the Pope in Regensburg, but this is surely what he meant. The problem is heightened now that Bethlehem finds itself behind Israel’s 400-mile-long security wall, which divides the Jewish and Palestinian areas, separating the sheep and the goats. In 2004, half the Israeli fatalities caused by suicide attacks were committed by extremists from Bethlehem. It has become a prison for Christians, and a paradise for Mohammedan terrorists.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has hung a large banner on the security wall, with the message ‘Peace Be With You’. Cranmer is reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace.

How silently, how silently the world beholds this ethnic cleansing.


Anonymous Ulster Man said...

There's been ethnic cleansing in the UK for decades, and there still is in this little corner.

20 December 2006 at 10:40  
Blogger Rigger Mortice said...

to quote the manic street preachers
'if you tolerate this,
then your children will be next'

I've no idea what they were singing about but the lyric speaks for itself.

20 December 2006 at 11:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rigger quoting the Manics...

I respect you even more.

On the situation in Bethlehem, we shouldn't of course worry, because Hamas may be a bunch of Medieval Tyrants, but they were voted in democratically. If the Palestinians want the right to spit on Christians, that's their democratic right.

Sorry I tried BBC / Guardian logic for a second.

20 December 2006 at 12:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rather like Israel to annex Bethlehem when the opportunity next presents itself.

Indeed if there still was any heart left in Christendom, especially with our present unprecedented economic and military might, we'd do something sharp to sort this out quickly. There are millions of pounds to which we could, if we wanted, apply the brakes (not just state money, but that of British-based charities). We have the troops to pacify such holy sites, and make them safe for the civilised, too. Whither a UN resolution, at the least? Pathetic. Blair should be after peace in the mideast that protects Christians, not simply Muslims from Muslims.

20 December 2006 at 12:28  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I'd rather like Israel to annex Bethlehem when the opportunity next presents itself.

Until Oslo they did have control but Europeans felt it so wonderful to let the PLO take control

20 December 2006 at 13:03  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Historically, not only has Bethlehem been a Christian city governed primarily by Christians, but, with its sister towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahur, it has been the largest enclave of Christians in the West Bank.

Since assuming control in 1995, however, the PA has been Islamizing Bethlehem. The city's municipal boundaries were changed to incorporate 30,000 Muslims from three neighboring refugee camps, severely tipping the demography. The city also added a few thousand Bedouins of the Ta'amra tribe, located east of Bethlehem, and encouraged Muslim immigration from Hebron to Bethlehem. The net result is that the area's 23,000 Christians were reduced from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a minority by 2001.

Also, defying tradition, Arafat appointed a Muslim from Hebron, Muhammed Rashad A-Jabari, as governor of Bethlehem. He fired the existing Bethlehem city council that had nine Christians and two Muslims, replacing it with a 50:50 council. While the mayor is a Christian, the top bureaucratic, security, and political echelons, and the lower levels as well, have been drained of Christians.52 Furthermore, "according to the new local council elections' regulations designed by the PA - but not yet put into effect, however - mayors will be nominated by the council members in their towns. Christians fear that these new regulations will open the way to the nomination of Muslim mayors to the traditional Christian towns."53

While six out of the eighty-eight seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council have been reserved for Christians,54 representing more than double their proportion in Palestinian society, the Council is a fairly powerless entity. Similarly, no Christian holds a position of power in the Palestinian government.

20 December 2006 at 13:59  
Anonymous oiznop said...

The persecuation of Christians in the Holy Land is a scandal, and a visit by Rowan and Cormac will do nothing. Ratzinger is the man with the clout, but he's already been bitten by the Muslim masses, and silenced.

There is nothing to be done. Islam wants Israel back, and is taking it inch by inch.

20 December 2006 at 16:01  
Blogger istanbultory said...

Ratzinger has most unequivocally been silenced. I suspect he will evade pontificating (!) on Islam for a long while to come.....the ulema have excelled themselves.

20 December 2006 at 17:14  
Anonymous curious person said...

cranmer why are you so anti-islamic? do you support the BNP by any chance. I wouldn't be surprised.

20 December 2006 at 20:05  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Curious Person is clearly unaware of how anti-Christian Islam itself is. Only someone ignorant of Christianity or of Islam could make such a facile statement and then seek to associate it with a political party. Curious Person, why are you so ignorant ?

20 December 2006 at 22:35  
Anonymous Colin said...

Curious person,

I am always curious to know why people like you assume that labelling somebody is a substitute for proof. It doesn't prove anything except the lack of intelligence on the part of the labeller. Your technique is called an attack ad hominem.

Let me give your own medicine to make my point. Indirectly, you made a pro-islamic statement. According to your style, we would now ask if you are a terrorist supporter. Obviously, this is nonsense and so was your comment.

20 December 2006 at 22:54  
Blogger Newmania said...

Quoting the manics is in deed well good.I worry about quite so much anti Islamic materila . It isn`t that i disagree with any of it its the sheer bulk.

Colin Voyager and others with enormous brains , don`t bother ripping that argument to shreds it comes pre ripped . Nonetheless doesn`t anyone feel uncomfotable with this feeling that a group of people are being hounded ?

20 December 2006 at 22:58  
Blogger Newmania said...

Ulsterman said
There's been ethnic cleansing in the UK for decades, and there still is in this little corner

I discovered something about Patrick Kilty the compeer and (supposedly) comedian today . His father was killed by a Protestant “Group” in a revenge killing . God knows I wouldn’t want to pretend that I understood Northern Ireland . I don’t need to in order to disapprove of the Mayor of London having tea with known Terrorists.
Doesn`t that unpleasant reality undercut the smear of normalcy the gelled hair would imply though .

I had a similar thought when I noticed that Miss Israel was going to be let off carrying her rifle during national Service in case her modelling career was disrupted. Just the little detail opens your eyes to the difference in everything birth to death

The Guardian reading fraternity go wrong in foreign affairs , in my view , my arrogantly disregarding the cultural and circumstantial gulf between geographical areas. They transpose ideas appropriate for London unaltered to wherever they can make disguised domestic and self congratulatory points.

20 December 2006 at 23:08  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Nonetheless doesn`t anyone feel uncomfotable with this feeling that a group of people are being hounded ?

No because I don't think they are. I don't see any boycott of Muslim-owned businesses, banning on them attending University, prohibition on them working for The State; in fact I don't see any signs of the victimisation experienced by Jews in pre-war Germany or Poland, or similar to that of Protestants in France, or Christians in any number of Christian countries. In fact i see the opposite - I see a concerted campaign by the ruling elite - to facilitate every possible advantage for Muslims with respect to taxpayer funds.

In fact if I thought of groups facing persecution in Britain today I should have to think of devout Jews, devout Christians, and anyone of a rational or educated disposition in the face of a crude and ignorant yellow press which has names like Guardian and Independent to show mockery of their very titles

In fact i do recall the 1970s where the Labour Party never lost an opportunity to despise "the middle-class" and "middle-class values" and praise "the working class"; the fact that Yuppie Labour has now done a volte-face should not detract from its class-hatred rhetoric and its Red Guard assault upon Grammar Schools and hostility towards citizens who attended them. Some might do well to look at Saltley Ash coke depot

21 December 2006 at 06:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrific post Voyager I am delighted to admit you are quite right.

I see Mohammed (two spellings neither of which may be that one), has overtaken George as a baby name. Let us hope the good humoured tolernace of this dear people ( as the Queen mum called us )continues.

New L:about disdain for everything good in the land has tested it severly

Shame none of you can make it to the Crodonian gathering this eve

21 December 2006 at 10:28  
Blogger DV said...

What we witness in Bethlehem is but part of the Islamic tide sweeping the world. As ever, Jeremiah called it right.

21 December 2006 at 11:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should have to think of devout Jews,

We must support the jews

Oi vay the lads

Sorry end of term levity has struck

21 December 2006 at 13:47  
Anonymous curious person said...

voyage, why am i so ignorant? because i'm waiting for you to enlighten me with some 'anti-christian' islamic teachings as you put it.
colin, you make it soulnd as though islam is all about terrorism, that comes to show your lack of understanding and ignorance about islam. Colin, you said that you're curious to know why people like me assume that labelling somebody is a substitute for proof. Well isn't that what you've done labelling islam wih the term terrorist? take some advice, go do some research on islam (preferably hadith of the prophet.
Cranmer, after reading your article islam on the nativity of the lord, I see that I've caused offence to you. Now, now... let's not get offended on a mere speculation of your character. I couldn't quite picture you to be a RESPECT party supporter

21 December 2006 at 18:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

a RESPECT party supporter a front organisation of the Socialist Workers Party of the Fourth Internationalists................oh no, Christians cannot be Trotskyites.

I think you should reflect on the ignorant assertions regarding Jesus of Nazareth with respect to birth, divinity, death and resurrection encapsulated in The Koran before seeking instances of some 'anti-christian' islamic teachings .

It is interesting how your reference point is always political parties - whether BNP or Respect - seemingly you do not operate on the theological plane only the political

Merry Christmas !

21 December 2006 at 20:43  
Anonymous Colin said...

Curious person,

You accused me of labelling islam with the term terrorist. But I added "Obviously, this is nonsense".

Apparently, you still didn't understand that I applied the same technique you did in order to demonstate to you that this is not a valid method. Let me try to express myself more clearly. In principle, there are two ways to discuss a matter if people disagree.

(1) To attack the person or the argument by association with the category of bad or evil.

In this case, you associated Cranmer with something bad or evil in your view, i.e. the BNP which in turn is often associated with the Nazis. Religions not infrequently use the technique of associating something or somebody with the devil or another religion they consider invalid. For example, Cranmer likes to associate something with paganism because he thinks that this settles the matter. The "guilty by association" technique doesn't prove anything. You tried to associate Cranmer with the BNP which in turn has been associated by others with Nazis and Hitler. Hence, the purpose of your association technique was to elicit the same emotions as Hitler does, i.e. to scar people. Well, an emotion is simply that: an emotion. It doesn't prove that his argument is wrong.

(2) Refutation of an argument is the second method and the only valid one. Since nearly all arguments are statements of a cause-effect relationship, a refutation consists in demonstrating either that the phenomenon in question (i.e. the effect) or its postulated cause or the relationship does not exist or at least not in the extent as postulated.

In the present case, you complained about Cranmer because he wrote that islam is responsible for religious cleansing of Bethlehem from Christians. Hence Cranmer postulates a cause-effect relationship: islam (cause) --> fewer Christians in Bethlehem (effect). Now, the only logical method to disprove Cranmer would be to reply that either islam does not exist in Bethlehem (which obviously is not correct) or that the number of Christians didn't diminish Bethlehem (which also is not correct according to media reports) or that islam in Bethlehem is not the cause of the the latter (which might be possible). We conclude that only the denial of a relationship between islam and the number of Christians in Bethelem would be a valid defense.

For example, you could ask Cranmer: Where is the proof that islam is responsible? And you could claim that Christians were not threatened in any way and left voluntarily Bethelem in panic due to incorrect media reports. Then Cranmer would have to provide you with reports that Christians were threatened or killed in Bethelem to disprove your claim. Alternatively, you could say that Cranmer's accusations are invalid because Christians shouldn't be in an islamic country and should leave, the country belongs to us the islamic faithful etc. Then Cranmer would reply that the same holds for the uk, that it is a christian country etc.

I am wondering if they don't teach anymore at school logic and its application. If they didn't and you are interested in improving your abilities in this field, I can recommend: Henry Hazlitt "Thinking as a Science". However, if you don't care about thinking, logic and argumentation just post any comment you wish but don't be surprised if people start to wonder and to retort.

21 December 2006 at 21:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Argument (2) was the basis of Pope Benedict's address on the subject of Greek Philosophy in Christianity and its concept of exegesis and the absence of such from Islam which is in essence the recitation by rote of verses

22 December 2006 at 07:45  
Anonymous Colin said...


Indeed, "essence the recitation by rote of verses "

It's an illustration of the classical conditioning paradigm.

From Wikipedia: "The simplest form of classical conditioning is reminiscent of what Aristotle would have called the law of contiguity, which states that: "When two things commonly occur together, the appearance of one will bring the other to mind."

Previous semantic conditioning: words such as evil, danger, almighty etc. -> anxiety

Conditioning by recitation of verses: non-believers = evil, dangerous

The result is a conditioned reflex:

non-believers -> anxiety -> agression against the cause of anxiety

Thanks a lot, voyager, for your humor link which I enjoyed very much.

22 December 2006 at 09:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say, Colin is a very intelligent man indeed and I am amazed at his output.

Sadly though, having been to Bethlehem a couple of times, you cannot solely blame the PA for what is going on.

Israel effectivly blockaded the city early in this decade, ruining the tourist trade and bankrupting the place. Of course, they had some valid reasons as have been mentioned. However, many of the tourist businesses were of course run by Christians. With no customers to server they have gone elsewhere.

Israel abandoned Bethlehem and now the PA seeks to make it its own. There are is no place ofr Christians in this struggle between the Jews and Muslims; would you want to live there?

22 December 2006 at 14:23  
Blogger Cranmer said...

I have to say, Colin is a very intelligent man indeed and I am amazed at his output.

Mr Cityunslicker,

His Grace is most appreciative of your kind comment.

He had always wanted a 'Colin' on his blog, and this one is a gift from heaven. His intelligence and erudition are manifest, and his insights and understanding of matters religio-political are an asset to philosophical discourse.

22 December 2006 at 16:19  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Thanks a lot, voyager, for your humor link which I enjoyed very much.

You're welcome. It was funny - I saw him on Sabine Christiansen one evening and thought there's a man with more satirical courage than Rory Bremner

Merry Christmas all !

22 December 2006 at 17:44  
Anonymous Colin said...

His Grace and Cityunslicker,

Thanks a lot for your kind comments and Merry Christmas to all readers of your blog.

22 December 2006 at 20:42  
Blogger 3 lions said...

Great article, its amazing tho how the liberal media which fears to criticise islam for obvious reasons will blatantly blame israel for this, when israel actually allowed christians the right to practice their faith in bethlehem and conduct their lives in a christian manner, the islamists on the other hand dont..
great blog by the way

24 December 2006 at 21:01  

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