Sensing its upper hand, Israel has sought to make Palestinian Christians in Israel more dependent on the state, rather than the churches, in an effort to pressure them gradually into becoming US-style Christian Zionists.
That has left Israel with a relatively free hand to act against Palestinian communities. Most recently it has been waging a relentless war of financial attrition against Christian-founded schools and hospitals -- two key resources for Palestinian communities -- in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. The assault has barely registered with the church leaderships.
It has established a new classification of Israeli nationality -- "Aramaean" -- to replace Palestinian Christians' existing, more inclusive "Arab" nationality. The cultivation of a hardline Christian nationalism is intended to sow tensions with Palestinian Muslims.
At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a campaign to pressure Palestinian Christians into serving in the Israeli army, with the intention of weakening a unifying Palestinian nationalism and physically pitting Palestinian Christians against Palestinian Muslims.
These measures have so far been strenuously resisted by most Palestinian Christians, but that is no thanks to the Vatican or the Greek Patriarchate.
These foreign leaderships are culpable for their casual neglect of the Palestinian cause, their slash-and-burn policies towards local Christians, and their special pleading.
There were plenty of opportunities -- more honorable ones -- over the past decade to shut the Holy Land's major Christian pilgrimage sites in protest.
The cause should not have been about safeguarding business interests, but about focusing global Christian attention on the incremental destruction of indigenous Palestinian communities, Christian and Muslim alike.
The churches have seen how effective closing the Holy Sepulchre can be. It is time to close the church's doors again -- and this time for the right reasons.
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