Saturday, June 24, 2006
One small example of Israel's treatment of Christians within Israel proper is the treatment of the Christian villagers of Kafr Bir'im. The villagers were expelled in in 1948 and although the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in July 1952 that there was no reason to prevent their return, their village was demolished in 1953, "the only standing structure is the church and its belltower," according to Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi in All That Remains. The villagers of Kfar Bir'im are among the 276,000 internally displaced Palestinian refugees within Israel according to the CIA factbook.
Nancy Harb Almendras
Israel Is Not the Threat to Christians
Saturday, June 24, 2006; A20
Robert D. Novak's April 17 op-ed, "Caught by Israel's Wall," contained numerous errors. Among them:
? Mr. Novak claims that the Gaza Strip is "one of the world's most densely populated places." At 8,666 people per square mile, density in the strip is less than Washington, D.C., which exceeds 9,000. San Francisco, Cairo and Manila are much more densely populated.
? Mr. Novak alleges that the security barrier is "cutting to pieces the promised Palestinian state." The barrier as planned and constructed encompasses no more than 8 percent of the West Bank. Remaining territorial contiguity is as great or greater than that of pre-1967 Israel. And a state was not promised; Palestinian Arabs have been offered an opportunity to build one through negotiations and performance.
? The column alleges that "the wall threatens Israel's tiny Christian minority and particularly Aboud's Christian roots." Aboud is in the West Bank, not Israel; its Christians are Palestinian Arabs, not Israeli Arabs. Israel's Christian Arab population has grown from 34,000 at the country's founding in 1948 to nearly 130,000 today. Meanwhile, the Christian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, estimated at 8 percent or more of the total after World War II, is now less than 1.7 percent (under 50,000). The decline has accelerated since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1993.
? Mr. Novak refers to "deadly daily artillery barrages" by Israel in response to rockets "ineffectively fired" by "undisciplined Palestinian militants." There have not been "deadly daily artillery barrages" by Israel. In response to near daily, indiscriminate Palestinian rocket fire, Israeli counterattacks have included air-to-ground missiles targeting specific terrorists and artillery barrages aimed at launch areas.
Mr. Novak apparently writes about Israel from behind a barrier of his own, one that isolates him from the facts.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East
Reporting in America