While the Christ at the Checkpoint delegates bivouacked in a comfortable Bethlehem hotel with a view to sedately condemning Israel for its ‘sin’ of ‘occupation and to blame the Jewish state for worldwide Islamic terror, almost a million people in southern Israel were sheltering from a hail of missiles that fell across the northern Negev and parts of the coastal plain.
It was no coincidence that the shelling began at the festival of Purim, the season when Jews celebrate their deliverance from genocide some 2,500 years ago.
When Israel fought back, the Egyptian parliament condemned Israel for not allowing its citizens to die like good Jews should and denouned the strikes on Gaza as ‘war crimes’. The Egyptian parliament voted unanimously to expel the Israeli ambassador and approved a motion stating: ‘Egypt will never be the friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity which we consider as the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation.’
The organizers of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference blamed the plight of Palestinian Christians on the ‘occupation’ and at the opening session Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority addressed the conference, assuring delegates that the PA supports Christians.
Hardly had the vacated seats grown cold after the conference than Fayyad's government informed Naim Khoury, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, that the church lacked the authority to function as a religious institution.
The decision will have far-reaching implications because the PA will not recognise any of the fellowship’s legal documents, including certificates of births, marriages and deaths. Without legally recognised documents, marriages at the church will be null and void, and children of the congregation will be considered illegitimate.
Pastor Steven Khoury, the son of First Baptist's senior pastor, Naim Khoury, reported that a representative of the Palestinian authority showed up at his father’s church in Bethlehem and informed him of the clamp-down.
Although the officials did not specify why they are targeting the church, Steven believes it is because his family supports Israel and believes jews and Arabs in the region can co-exist in peace.
I’ll bet this example of Christian suffering in ‘Palestine’ isn’t posted on the blogs or websites of the CATC organizers. I am still trembling with anger at the hypocrisy, deception and dissimulation stamped all over Christ at the Checkpoint.
In 2009, Steven Khoury was interviewed by CBN about the true reason for the suffering of Bethlehem's Christians. The video can be viewed here.
For full coverage of CATC visit the Rosh Pina Project.