This piece in The Guardian by Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III is the is almost too absurd to believe:
Christians have lived a history in the Holy Land that spans more than two millennia. We have survived countless invasions, and have flourished under many different forms of government. We know that our survival has depended on the principle that the holy places must be shared by and be accessible to all. For it is the holy places that have given meaning to the region for both inhabitants and conquerors of all faiths. The protection and accessibility of the holy places are understood through a set of rules called the “status quo”, which has been followed by all religious and governmental authorities of the region through the ages….
Now various sides want to claim the Holy Land, including Jerusalem, as the exclusive possession of only one people. This treats with contempt the mechanism that has maintained peace and our multi-religious landscape for generations.
I’ve rarely seen a straw man this big. Which Jews are trying to make Jerusalem an exclusively Jewish city, with no rights for any other groups?
One of the foremost threats to Christians in the Holy Land is the unacceptable activities of radical settler groups, which are attempting to establish control over properties around the Jaffa gate. The properties in question are in the heart of Jerusalem’s Christian quarter, the seat of all the patriarchates and headquarters of the churches, and less than 500m from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Patriarchate has lodged an appeal with the Israeli high court of justice, but if our efforts prove unsuccessful the result would be immensely damaging to the integrity of the Old City. If the settler groups were to gain control of the properties, they would be able to pursue their aggressive campaign of removing non-Jews from the City and from these strategic centres at the heart of the Christian quarter, threatening the very presence of Christians in the Holy Land.
Jews have always lived in all the quarters of the Old City. The quarters were never exclusive to one group. The idea that Jews cannot legally purchase buildings in any part of the city is, to be blunt, antisemitic. The “status quo” doesn’t mean that the Old City must look exactly as it did in 1967 or 1167.
The idea that Jews purchasing buildings is a threat to all Christians in the Holy Land is an insult, plai and simple. And so is the slander that Jews are attempting to make Jerusalem exclusively Jewish.
I don’t recall the Greek Orthodox Church complaining about the “status quo” when Jordan ensured that no Jews could even visit the Old City.
Of course, it is Muslims who are threatening Christians throughout the Middle East, including in Palestinian Arab areas.
Despite this high profile paean to dhimmitude, Theophilos was attacked by Palestinians yesterday exactly for his church selling the land to Jews.
Palestinian Christians on Saturday pummeled the car of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem during a visit to the occupied West Bank in protest against the church’s decision to sell land to Jewish groups.
Hundreds of Palestinians blocked Patriarch Theophilos III’s convoy as he drove to a church in Bethlehem to attend an Orthodox Christmas mass.
Protestors threw stones and water bottles and pounded his car with their fists, chanting “traitor, traitor,” before Palestinian security forces pushed them away. Three cars in the convoy, but not the Patriarch’s vehicle, had their windows smashed.
Maybe the Patriarch should choose his friends better.
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