WASHINGTON — “I’m not spreading propaganda,” George Stephanopoulos’ orthodox-nun sister vows, but Israeli soldiers last week “defecated” on the floors of a West Bank medical clinic they raided.
They’re also looting Palestinians’ homes there, claims Sister Maria Stephanopoulos, a nun at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.
A Russian Orthodox Christian (who changed from Greek
Orthodox), Stephanopoulos runs a school for
Palestinian girls there, and is pleading with priests
here, via e-mail, to “get on the phone and ask your
congressman and senators why the United States
government is backing this invasion of Israeli forces
into sovereign (Palestinian) areas, (and) why so many
innocent civilians are being terrorized.”
Not all the front-line reports of “Mother Maria,” as she’s more recently known, turn out to be true.
An e-mail she sent 10 days ago about
Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian girls was later
deemed apocryphal, one priest who saw it told
WorldNetDaily. Stephanopoulos was the victim of a
Palestinian boy’s e-mail hoax.
Her brother, George, is the rising star and future host, reportedly, of ABC News’ “This Week.” The former senior adviser to President Clinton has done his own “reporting” from Jerusalem on the Israeli-Palestinian showdown.
In recent broadcasts of ABC’s Sunday talk show here, Stephanopoulos expressed support for the Saudi peace initiative as “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.”
He advised Israel to back off its “hard line” and withdraw from the West Bank, where Israel has sent tanks in response to systematic attacks from Palestinian suicide bombers in recent months.
“There’s no end to the terrorism unless there’s an end to the occupation,” Stephanopoulos said.
More, he said PLO leader Yasser Arafat should not give up his Ramallah bunker.
“Arafat cannot make the mistake that President Bush wants him to make,” Stephanopoulos intoned. “It’ll look like he’s surrendering.”
He did not agree that Arafat, as the leader of the Palestinian terrorists, is the source of the problem.
“The problem is beyond Arafat,” said Stephanopoulos, who urged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to meet with Arafat in private to patch things up.
His sister is even more tendentious in her reporting.
Relaying what a Palestinian Orthodox couple told her over the phone last week, Stephanopoulos said, “Israeli soldiers have entered their new home in the middle of the night three times in the last month, once stealing all the money from the house, and another time strafing the house with gunfire, miraculously only slightly wounding one of their daughters.”
At the couple’s clinic, moreover, soldiers allegedly “defecated on the floors” and destroyed a $20,000 ultrasound machine, Stephanopoulos, 41, reported through the eyes of her Palestinian friends.
“There are reports that some newborns have died during these past two weeks in Bethlehem because they were unable to receive medical attention,” she added.
As for the Palestinians who seized the Church of the Nativity, Stephanopoulos says they are not terrorists … “for the most part.”
“Only seven of the men could be considered dangerous or wanted men by Israel,” she asserted.
Nearly all of Mother Maria’s reporting comes from Palestinian sources. She has not herself witnessed the alleged Israeli atrocities.
“There is no way we can confirm any of that,” admitted Stephanopoulos family friend Father John Reeves, referring to the alleged Palestinian home-and-clinic raids cited by Stephanopoulos in her April 15 e-mail to him. The long message was posted on the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s website.
Reeves, pastor of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in State College, Pa., says Stephanopoulos’ e-mails from the West Bank aren’t always 100-percent accurate, but
her “motives are pure.”
“She’s not trying to fan the flames,” he said in a phone interview. “Mother Maria has relayed the difficulties the Palestinians have encountered under Israeli occupation.”
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