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'Israel is only safe state for Mideast Christians'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
09/03/2012
In 'WSJ' op-ed, Envoy to US Michael Oren criticizes PA, Hamas for policies resulting in the flight of Christians.
 
Israel has become the only safe haven for Middle Eastern Christians, Ambassador to the United State Michael Oren wrote in an op-ed piece published by the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

"In contrast to elsewhere in the Middle East where hatred of Christians is ignored or encouraged, Israel remains committed to its Declaration of Independence pledge to 'ensure the complete equality of all its citizens irrespective of religion,'" Oren wrote, comparing the situation of Christians in the region today to that of the expulsion of 800,000 Jews after the creation of the State of Israel.

Oren touted Israel's integration of its Christian community, noting that Christians serve in government posts and in the country's Supreme Court, and are "on average more affluent than Israeli Jews and better-educated, even scoring higher on their SATs."

While Christians have found a comfortable home within Israel's borders, Oren explained, the situation in the Palestinian territories is drastically different.

Half the Christian population in Gaza Strip has fled since the Hamas takeover of the territory, Oren stated. Hamas forbids Christmas decorations and public displays of Christian symbols, he wrote.

Oren explained that while Christians once made up 15 percent of the West Bank's population, today that number is as low as 2%.

He charged the Palestinian Authority with failing to protect its Christians, citing a lack of a security and violent incidents in Bethlehem as catalysts for Christian flight from the territories.

He said Israel was a fine example of how the trend of dwindling Christian populations throughout the Middle East - once as high as 20% according to Oren - can be prevented and reversed.
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