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There’s a new propaganda effort under way designed to convince churches in the U.S. that Israel, not Yasser Arafat’s the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states, is victimizing Christians in the Middle East.

The proposition would be laughable if it were not so well organized and ingeniously conceived and diabolically executed.

A group called the Holy Land Trust is currently organizing tours of large evangelical churches in the U.S. and spreading venomous lies about Israel and obscuring the outrageous persecution of Christians within the Palestinian Authority.

The lies this group tells in the name of Christianity are big and bold. They include the standard lines about Jews robbing the homes of Arabs, stealing their land and brutalizing them in a repressive state of military occupation. These so-called Christians even rationalize terrorism.

I’ve dealt with the myths many times in the past. But, for the sake of those U.S. churches being hoodwinked by this sophisticated, slick and well-funded propaganda campaign of the Holy Land Trust, let me today give you a glimpse of the truth about the plight of Christians in the Islamicized land of “Palestine” today.

Arafat’s Islamo-fascist storm troopers have shown nothing but contempt for Christians and their holy sites – particularly in the last five or six years.

In 1997, Arafat turned the Greek Orthodox monastery in Bethlehem into his own personal residence during visits to that city. The same year, the Palestine Liberation Organization seized Abraham’s Oak Russian Holy Trinity Monastery in Hebron, evicting monks and nuns.

When the Arab uprising of September 2000 began, Arafat’s Tanzim terrorist forces chose the Christian town of Beit Jala as an outpost from which its snipers shot at Jerusalem. They hid themselves in Christian homes, hotels, schools and churches so that return fire from Israel would rain death and destruction on Christians.

Last year, about 150 armed PA terrorists took over Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, holding 40 Christian clergy and nuns hostage, while firing out at surrounding Israeli forces. Rather than risk the lives of the captives and the destruction of the historic church, Israel negotiated the release of the terrorists – but the church was irreparably scarred. The terrorists stole gold, prayer books, crosses and anything else that was not nailed down.

If you want to see the dramatic story of this occupation, watch the remarkable documentary “Holyland: Christians in Peril.”

About the same time, Palestinian terrorists took over St. Mary’s Church in Bethlehem, holding a priest and several nuns against their will. Again, the terrorists used the church to fire out at Israeli troops, who were ordered not to fire on the Christian church.

Even in Jerusalem, where Israel permits the Palestinian Authority-appointed Waqf autonomy over the Temple Mount, Christians as well as Jews are prohibited from entering the site holy to both faiths.

Christian cemeteries are defaced in the areas under control by the PA. Anti-Christian graffiti, such as “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” is commonplace. Christian businesses are burned. Christian women are raped. There is no legal recourse for the victims in this budding Islamic state.

As far back as 1997, the London Times observed: “Life in Bethlehem has become insufferable for many members of the dwindling Christian minorities. Increasing Muslim-Christian tensions have left some Christians reluctant to celebrate Christmas in the town at the heart of the story of Christ’s birth.”

As a result of the intimidation, the harassment and the persecution of Christians in “Palestine,” Christians are fleeing for their very lives. They are abandoning their homes, their churches and their businesses.

This is the stark truth of the Arab and Muslim occupation of what were formerly Christian towns in Judea and Samaria.

Israel’s only role in this crime was in negotiating, under intense international pressure, the so-called “peace” treaties that allowed these atrocities to happen – that, in fact, made them inevitable.

So, if the Holy Land Trust brings its traveling road show to your church, arm yourself with the facts, and tell the deceivers to take a hike.

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