Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christy Anastas

I was told about Christy Anastas by our Filippina carer.  She is a Christian and she came across a Youtube video of Christy Anastas, a Palestinian Christian speaking out in support of Israel.  Since this is quite unusual she brought it to my attention and I have since watched several of Christy's videos.  Let me say at the outset that she is a very brave and very intelligent woman. 
Christy was born and grew up in Bethlehem, which is part of the Palestine Authority (PA).  She tells the truth as she has experienced it, her central point is that as a Christian her main persecutors were not and are not the Israelis, but are in fact the Palestinian Muslims.  She certainly has suffered, and knows many Christians who have suffered, at the hands of Israeli soldiers for being Palestinian, but as she tells it, she sees them performing their duty defensively against Palestinian Muslim attack.  But, as well as the Muslims attacking the Jews they also attack the Christians, yet the Christians have no soldiers or guns to protect them. 
Bethlehem and Ramallah were Palestinian Christian cities, until 50 years ago the percentage of population in each was ca. 95% Christian in Ramallah and 80% Christian in Bethlehem.  Now it is 5% in Ramallah.  During the Israeli occupation from 1967 to 1994, before the PA was founded under the Oslo Accords, the Christian population in Bethlehem actually went up to 85%.  But, since the PA has been in control, the Christian population has plummeted, down to 20% in 20 years and now down to 7%.  This is a great travesty, that is being ignored by the liberal western population and media.   Where have all the Christians gone?  They have escaped abroad, to the USA, Britain, Scandinavia and so on.  But, they are intimidated from telling their stories, because they are threatened with death and also death for the families and friends they left behind in the PA. 
Christy's story is symptomatic of the situation.  She was a bright student and went to University to study law.   She was disillusioned to find that although the law that is taught in the University speaks of human rights and women's rights, but there are actually no such rights in the PA.  For example, women are considered to be property and there are many honor killings of women and girls.  Christians are still required to pay the jizya tax, that has been required of Christians and Jews under Muslim rule since the Middle Ages. This tax is supposed to earn them protection from whatever Muslim ruler controls the state (there were similar taxes for Jews under Christianity).  Her Uncle was paying this tax, yet he was being exploited by the Muslims, for example, they were firing from his house and store and the Israelis were firing back at them, thus destroying Christian property (this is a general problem for the Christians, it happened also when Gilo in Jerusalem was under attack and the PA fighters shot from Christian homes).  Her Uncle protested to the authorities of the PA, but nothing was done, so in protest he stopped paying the jizya tax.  He was arrested, put in a Palestinian jail, tortured and then shot.  No trial, no enquiry, nothing! 
Christy discovered that the law actually practised in the PA is a combination of Muslim Shariah law and local Beduin law.  But, the judges were corrupt and biased towards their own clan or tribe.  For example, several of her Christian relatives had land stolen from them by Muslims from Hebron.  But the judge who heard the case was from Hebron and allowed the theft to be legalized.  She began reading the Bible and the Koran as well as the New Testament.  She also visited Yad Vashem and became convinced that the Jews had the right to have their State and that the Palestinians could live in peace side-by-side with the Jews.  When she discussed this with a group of friends, the next day one of her uncles came to see her and told her that he had a gun with a bullet in it for her, and if she did not stop talking the way she was he would have to kill her for the safety of her family and other Christians.  But, she could not change her views.  Then she was visited by a Muslim gunman, probably from Hamas, and told that she must stop or leave, otherwise she would be shot.  She left immediately for Britain, where she was granted political asylum in three days. 
She has confronted Saeb Erekat, Chief negotiator for the PA, in Oxford when he was visiting, where he assured her that there would be human rights and women's rights in "Palestine," but she is understandably sceptical.  Meanwhile she lives in hiding and under threat for speaking out like so many others before her, Irjit Manji in Canada, Aayan Hirsi Ali in Holland, and Salman Rushdie in Britain.
To see Christy's video go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyQZcKXeI4U  She has been sponsored by the Emmaus Group.


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