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Warning to Tucker Carlson: Be careful what you buy in the Middle East

Tucker Carlson (Photo: Screenshot)

The well-known adage, “Let the Buyer Beware,” is particularly relevant in the Middle East where very cagey and skilled merchants are known for their prowess in selling things which they often claim to be authentic but which, regrettably, can end up being worthless.

Such is the case with a recent interview, conducted by the popular and beloved TV personality, Tucker Carlson who had the misfortune of hearing a very propagandized version of what has happened to the Christian community in Bethlehem, an area, which until 1995 was under Israeli control, but which is now governed by the Palestinian National Authority.

It was in this discussion, with a Palestinian pastor, who lamented the disastrous impact the war has had on the minuscule Christian population, which drew Carlson’s response, stating, “When there’s a war abroad that the United States is funding, it is Christians who tend to die disproportionately.” 

But rather than cast the blame for dwindling numbers of Christians in the Middle East, at the feet of Palestinian extremist Muslims, who have systematically caused them to flee, due to heavy persecution, the Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christian Church in Bethlehem, instead, chose to attribute their losses to “a very harsh Israeli military occupation which is difficult to bear.”

It's hard to imagine a more disingenuous, libelous and fallacious accusation which so blatantly smacks of anti-Israel propaganda, because the claim is so easily debunked with just a bit of personal investigation as to what has happened to the Middle East’s Christian community over the last 20-30 years.

Bethlehem, due to its Palestinian control, has been impoverished largely due to government corruption which has prevented it from developing and flourishing, something which could have easily occurred, given its tourism value just on the basis of being the “birthplace of Jesus.” But living under Islamic ideology, which is responsible for the radicalization of young men who are trained to commit acts of terror, tourism has taken a huge hit, both for fear of one’s safety as well as the Islamic government, curtailing access and minimizing the Christian influences and decorations which attracted those who wanted to experience an authentic Christmas in the place where it all started.

The assertion, that the present Israel-Hamas war is the cause of the disappearance of Christians, contradicts an article written in 2012 entitled, “Why are the Christians leaving Bethlehem?” It explains how “the Christians, who were once a majority are continually leaving” due to “Christians feeling as if they are trapped in a cultural and religious ghetto where Muslim garb is worn.”

But it’s not just a matter of different customs or different clothing. Persecution is a huge factor. Sometime around 2002, “shots were fired from Beit Jala, a Christian town, on the outskirts of Bethlehem, by Muslim Bedouin shooters, active in Tanzim and Fatah, many of them belonging to the Tamra tribe into the Jewish town of Gilo. They established their firing positions specifically next to churches, Christian institutions and homes in the town, damaging many Christian homes. They also demanded an intifada ‘tax’ threatening to murder anyone who refused to pay and attacking Christians.”

These are the important facts that account for the mass exodus of the Christian community from these towns and villages which once were home to a Christian majority. So why would this Palestinian pastor omit the very contributing factors which were largely responsible for the hardship of his community? It’s interesting to ponder just how he survived the threats which pushed out others. Given his harsh position and criticism of Israel, one can only speculate as to whether or not he is in league with the extremist Islamic community who now literally call the shots in Bethlehem.

All of this was documented in a book written by journalists Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, entitled, “The Seventh War: How We Won and Why We Lost the War with the Palestinians,” which revealed that, “during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Christian Palestinians and institutions in and around Bethlehem suffered harassment at the hands of armed militias, causing damage to monasteries and other religious institutions, culminating in the extortion of Christian businessmen, engaged in criminal activity and the appropriation of land as well as withholding legal defense from Christians whose property was stolen. All of this sped up Christian emigration from the area.”

There’s a very wise admonishment found in Proverbs 18:17 which says, “The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.” This is the warning which should be heeded by Tucker Carlson, for whom I have great respect, but who needs to understand that listening to one side, especially if it’s based on skewed political biases, can be very misleading, in the aspiration to further a particular agenda.

This was, likewise, demonstrated by the Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah, “whose anti-Semitism is deep and overt, as evidenced by his remarks toward Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority during a Christmas Mass in 1995 when he welcomed Arafat, recalling how Byzantine Patriarch Sophronius tried to persuade Muslim Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab to prohibit Jews from living and worshipping in Jerusalem after conquering it in 636 eight years after Sophronius instigated a widespread massacre of Jews.”

Similarly, Cardinal-designate Pierbattista Pizaballa, the present Latin patriarch of Jerusalem has condemned IDF operations into Jenin, referring to them as an “assault on Palestinians,” urging dialogue, but when peace talks are one-sided, because the others prefer the violence of suicide bombers or Hamas massacres, dialogue is more relegated to wishful thinking and an unrealistic expectation by those who would prefer to categorize Israel as the aggressor that does not respect Palestinians. Herein lies the dishonesty which is then peddled as fact.

Tucker Carlson, along with many others who hear one version of Middle East talking points, needs to understand that this is not just a physical war but one which is also being waged in the arena of narratives with the intent of toxic indoctrination that does all it can to characterize Israel as the enemy for defending their citizens when attacked, as if that’s equal to terrorism. 

If October 7 taught us anything, it was that the vast amounts of money and good will which was invested in trying to appease Hamas, in the hope of enticing them to be peace partners who would cooperate with us, was not only an exercise in futility, but a bitter lesson of how foolhardy it is to trust avowed terrorists who never made any secret of their desire to annihilate us. 

It was nothing more than a tragic experiment that ended in catastrophe, for which we are still paying six months later. 

I believe that Tucker Carlson greatly values the truth, and, although I, in no way, represent the government of Israel, I think that they, too, would encourage him to pay a visit, sit down with them and listen to a more comprehensive and honest depiction of why Israel is worth being viewed through the lens of a true ally who is worth supporting rather than trying to paint her as an accomplice in the suffering of the Middle East.  

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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