The 7.30 Report 0f 21 December does the plight of Middle Eastern Christians:
"Increasingly, Christians are feeling under siege in the territory they've called home for centuries, including the Holy Land - many are fleeing the region for good as they fear for their safety." (21/12/10)
From? "From Egypt to Iraq, they were the victims of violent attacks by Muslim extremists."
Ah yes, Muslim extremists. Egypt to Iraq. Wall-to-wall. And that includes the Occupied Palestinian Territories:
"BEN KNIGHT, REPORTER:... The Holy Land is watching its Christian population disappear."
"FATHER RAFIK KHOURY:.. I cannot imagine the Holy Land without Christians."
"SAMIR QUMSIEH*, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTER: I really fear that the Church of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulchre will be turned into museums."
Yikes! OK, so whether it's Egypt, Iraq or the OPT, your Muslim extremists have your (Arab) Christians on the run.
But wait, what's Father Khoury saying now? "[My congregations] say, Well we lived in that situation, OK for us, but for our children we would like to prepare a better future... That is why they leave."
OK for us? The Muslim knife's up against the Christian jugular, but it's... OK for us? What the... ?
And what's this? "PROFESSOR NABIB GHAYIT: Well they're cowards... you have to sacrifice in order to live, you know."
Cowards? What can he mean? Ben? Ben...?
Ah, but Knight's on a roll... on the Muslim track: "But the danger is real. In 2007, Christian pastor Rami Ayyad was murdered in Gaza. No one was ever charged. His family believes there was never any real investigation." Yep, Muslim extremists alright. Who else could it be?
"But it's not just violence," he presses on, "Some Christians say their Muslim neighbours are taking the land out from under them. SAMIR QUMSIEH: They take it by force, by forgery, by many ways and because many Bethlehem people are emigrating, their lands are done."
Funny that. Knight's been ABC TV's Middle East correspondent for years now, but we haven't heard a squeak from him about Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem (up 45% this year with 396 buildings razed compared with 275 last year), throwing 561 Palestinians, including 280 children, onto the street. "Out of the 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem... 60,000 are at risk of having their homes demolished by the Israeli authorities," claims UNRWA (UN agency condemns Arab home demolitions in Jerusalem, BBC News, 23/12/10), but hey, that hardly fits with Knight's Head for the hills! The Muslims are coming! agenda.
Samir Qumsieh tells us that he's "very angry with the Christian world." But not, you'll notice with Israel! Unless, of course, Knight's edited that bit out. Ditto for Father Khoury who laments that "They are forgetting their own roots to help others who have roots in the Holy Land."
Knight then introduces us to the kind of Christians Samir Qumsieh and Father Khoury are presumably angry with: "BRUCE GARBUTT, INTL CHRISTIAN EMBASSY OF JERUSALEM: We come as friends of Israel because Israel is God's chosen people, chosen for a purpose and not because they're different, not because they're better, chosen for a purpose and that's to bring salvation to the world. BEN KNIGHT: This is a messianic view of Christianity that believes when the Jews return to the land of Israel, the temple can be rebuilt and the final day of judgment will arrive. The Palestinian State doesn't fit into that plan. Glen and Marilyn Shaw here are doing missionary work in the West Bank and have seen the poverty there. BEN KNIGHT: You're here today with Israeli flags. GLEN SHAW: Yes. BEN KNIGHT: Who are obviously the occupying force - is that a conflict for you? GLEN SHAW: Not really. Not really. Because God commands us to bless the Jews. To bless Israel. Anybody who blesses Israel will get a blessing in return." Jesus, talk about giving Christians a bad name!
Now would it be too much to expect of a Middle East correspondent doing a piece largely on the plight of Palestinian Christians to ask the lovely Glen and his charming wife, Marilyn, whether they were aware just how pissed off the local Palestinian Christians were with their attitude? Apparently.
I suppose the closest Knight gets to the bleeding obviousness of It's the Occupation, stupid! is when he mentions a Vatican discussion paper on "the situation of Christians in the Middle East," which he says, "talks about some of the driving issues such as the Israeli occupation or the growing influence of extreme Islam right across the Middle East."
But you can't trust Knight as far as you can throw him. That bit about the growing influence of extreme Islam, that's just there to blur the bit about the Israeli occupation, the critical impact of which on Palestinian Christians he has no interest whatever in exploring. And what does that document actually says?: "The meeting document made clear that bishops in the Middle East believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be the root cause of several conflicts in the region. But it also singled out the growth of political Islam in countries like Egypt, and said the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been exploited by radical terrorism in recent years... It criticized the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, saying it had made life difficult both for daily life and religious life since access to holy places are restricted. Citing both the Israeli-Palestinian and Iraqi conflicts, it said: 'The solution to conflicts rests in the hands of the stronger country in its occupying and inflicting wars on another country." (Vatican memo: Mideast conflict driving Christians out of region, Haaretz/ AP, 19/10/10)
IOW, political Islam (or as Knight has it, Islamic extremism) is a response to the USraeli occupation of Arab lands, the driving issue behind the emigration of Arab Christians from the Middle East.
Knight's fleeting reference to the Israeli occupation is soon overtaken by Samir Qumsieh muttering darkly about a "Muslim state" in the West Bank and Knight proclaiming darkly that "In November, Al-Qaeda in Iraq declared open season on all Christians. After a siege at a Baghdad church ended in the deaths of more than 50 people, these Iraqi Christians fled to the relative safety of Jordan. But they're not staying there. They're looking for visas to Canada, the US and Australia. Yet another Christian community has decided it's time to leave the Middle East for good and they won't be the last."
Ooo... Al-Qaeda in Iraq? Is this the same Al-Qaeda in Iraq that used to be led by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who became the subject of a US military propaganda campaign a few years back? "The Zarqawi PSYOP program," boasted one of its operatives, "is the most successful information campaign to date... Through aggressive Strategic Communications, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now represents: Terrorism in Iraq/Foreign Fighters in Iraq/ Suffering of Iraqi People (Infrastructure Attacks)/ Denial of Iraqi Aspirations." (Military plays up role of Zarqawi: Jordanian painted as foreign threat to Iraq's stability, Thomas E Ricks, The Washington Post, 10/4/06)
Hm... has PSYOPs now come to 'Your' ABC?
[* On SQ see A tale of two Palestinians, Jerry Gordon, frontpagemag.com, 14/9/05]