When our elder son was six, he had a birthday party at a roller skating rink. One little boy put his "boot-style" skates on the wrong feet. When I saw him skating like a mad-man from one end of the rink to the other, my heart stopped as I could see him with his head split open or something else when his skates became tangled. When I finally caught him and tried to put his skates on the right feet, he put up a terrible squalk insisting that he liked to skate with them like that.
The Christian church leaders, European Union diplomats and Israeli journalists who have chosen to back Arafat over his temper tantrum at Israel's refusal to allow him to attend midnight Mass in Bethlehem remind me of this child. They have their reasoning switched.
It is Arafat who is keeping hundreds of thousands of Christians from visiting Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem and the Galilee. Christian leaders should ban him from Bethlehem until he stops his Intifada. Sharon did the exact right thing.
Prior to 1995 when Israel relinquished control of Bethlehem to Arafat, Christmas Eve in Bethlehem Square was an occasion when Christian choirs worldwide eagerly sought the privilege of performing there. Israel has always protected the rights of Christians to worship unimpeded. All Arafat has done is to impede access of Christians to worship in the Land. Perhaps this is what he means when he says he is "protecting holy sites" – protecting them from Christians?
A hint of things to come began at Christmas in 1994 when Israel turned partial control of Bethlehem over to the Palestinians. The choirs could not be heard over the noise of men threading through the crowd in the Square selling falafel, balloons, noise makers, etc. The Christmas decorations were hidden by banners which had Arafat's photo on them. In other words, he turned Bethlehem Square into a shouk, and for this he expected and received and continues to receive the support of the Pope and some European leaders.
The situation has continued to degenerate until this year. TV coverage of the parades and banners in Bethlehem Christmas Eve, 2001 revealed the celebration was all about Arafat. Christian leaders allow this travesty; this blasphemous affront to their Savior, the Baby of Bethlehem, Jesus the Christ. The lone Christmas tree in the Square, according to "The Jerusalem Post" was "decorated with one light and a few colored balls." Why did not those Christian Seminary students who marched in the parade put up proper decorations and tear down those which were not. Where is their ardor for their Savior? Where is their righteous indignation at Arafat?
Christian leaders who cower in the face of evil and fail to exalt their Savior need to learn a lesson from Israeli leaders—Fear not. If not fear, why else would Christian leaders go to Arafat, kiss him and bow to his wishes? It is Arafat who has made Christians worldwide afraid to come to Bethlehem and Israel. Realistically, they should despise him for this and for driving Christian Arabs out of their homes in Bethlehem and commandeering the homes of Christian Arabs in Beit Jala to shoot at Jewish homes in Gilo.
Why do the Lutherans not tell how he sent his thugs to take over their orphanage in Bethlehem at gunpoint in 1995 and evicted the medical director and staff?
Why does the Roman Catholic Church hush-up the fact that for years the nuns and priests in Bethlehem have had to pay protection money to Arafat's gangsters?
Let Arafat accept peace with Israel, put Israel on his maps, take hatred for Jews out of the school curriculum and out of his rhetoric to his people and thereby prove his adoration of the Prince of Peace is genuine and not another cynical stage performance, intended to take the focus off of Jesus and place it upon himself.
Do Israeli journalists truly hate Sharon more than they do Arafat? One would think so because they seized upon this ban to give Arafat extraordinary news time and have joined Arafat supporters in condemning their Prime Minister, rather than recognizing his strength and just decision. I wish Christian leaders were half as discerning and courageous. As a Christian I am ashamed of their witness of their faith which reveals a lack of trust in God.
Let's get our skates on the right feet; our thinking straight; our eyes on God and stop giving comfort and support to the terrorist Arafat who first came to the notice of the world when he hijacked airliners. Now he is hijacking Christian holy days and holy sites. Enough. Continue to keep him under "Ramallah arrest" until he rejects terror and accepts peace with the Jews of this land and the State of Israel.
Paula K. Keys
Source: Naomi Ragen mailing list (naominragen.com)