Christians praying in Jerusalem 311.
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
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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