I am a Christian Zionist. This does NOT mean I approve of everything that Israel does in Judea and Samaria (what the media calls the West Bank).
I certainly feel that Israel has failed to consider an agreement with the Palestinian Christians in the contested areas of Judea and Samaria. I feel that this has caused a lot of animus to carry over to Palestinian Christians in the New World; and that Israel has been remiss in this.
Wikipedia notes that during the Arab Revolt of 1936-39:
At least 282 rebel leaders took part in the Arab Revolt and of these only four were Christians
The Christians were 8-10% of the population at that time, but contributed only 1% of the leaders.
What this means is that the Christians were not the enemy1.
The Jewish Virtual Libray notes:
In the early 1900s, sporadic attacks on Christians by bands of Muslims occurred in many Palestinian towns. During the Palestinian Arab revolt in the late 1930s, which involved very few Christians, if Christian villagers refused to supply the terrorist bands with weapons and provisions, their vines were uprooted and their women raped. The rebels forced the Christian population to observe the weekly day of rest on Friday instead of Sunday and to replace the tarboosh with the kaffiyeh for men, whereas women were forced to wear the veil. In 1936, Muslims marched through the Christian village of Bir Zayt near Ramallah chanting: “We are going to kill the Christians.”
Even Jewish sources admit Christians are not the problem; yet Israel treats Christians on the opposite side of the wall no differently than the Muslims.
Christians are not suicide bombers. It is not in their theology.
Israel has refused to make an arrangement with the Christian Palestinians apart from the Muslims; and this makes absolutely no sense at all.
WHY NOT MAKE A BOLD PROPOSAL?
South America is emerging. In a world where Israel is being isolated, she could use the support of South America. The Palestinians of Chile are key to this.
If Israel were to strike a deal with the Christians of Palestine, the news would rifle back to South America where the Christian Arabs are elites; and it might swing the popular opinion of a whole continent.
I know there are geographic problems, but Israel could annex the Christian areas of Taybeck, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Bir Zeit, and Beit Sahour. Reroute the Separation Barrier, if necessary. Putting the Christian Palestinians on the nice side of the wall might do some good, particularly if Israel starts giving them building permits at a reasonable rate, and starts offering them citizenship.
Of course, she would have to reign in some of the more aggressive settlers, who might then try to seize Christian property in Bethlehem. Israel would have to restrain them. Israel has a mixed record when it comes to settlers. Fairness would be the key.
If Israel does not want to absorb even Christian Arabs, she should make some arrangement to buy out the Christians with generous financial offers of money and visas for South America. Yes, it would cost, but it would purchase a lot of good will.
Iquique Chile, in the tropical North, is heavily Arab.
The Palestinians of Chile are wealthy and prosperous. Chile is 30x the size of Israel with only 2x the population. Palestinian-Chileans tend to live in the subtropical north, a vacation paradise.
Israel should seek a deal between themselves, the Palestinian-Christians in South America, and their cousins in the Holy Land. This is the time to make a distinction between the Christians and the Muslims. I am not recommending this to hurt Muslims, but to reward the Christians, who have been slammed by both sides in this debate.
The Israelis are not stupid. They have to know this. They know Christians are a low security concern. Is it prejudice on the part of Israel or a misguided policy not to offer some deal to a small population left in the contested areas that is not actively hostile?
This is not really a war between Arab and Israeli; and Israel knows it. It is between Jew and Muslim. The Christians are stuck in the middle. Their low numbers, low birthrate, offers Israel a chance to make a major concession and win a lot of good will in the West, especially in South America, where Latin Arabs are rougly 99% Christian, and elite leaders of the contintent.
Treating Arab Christians as potential allies, rather than enemies, might deflate a lot of problems with Israel’s image in South America. Whatever happens in the Mideast will rifle back to South America very fast.
The Arabs of South America offer an alternative vision of what it means to be Arab. This is because they are Christian, civilized, and prosperous. Israel should be availing itself of this opportunity.
1Someone will bring up George Habash. But have a heart! Habash was back home on vacation from Medical School at the American University of Beirut in 1948 when his quite prosperous family was expelled from their wealthy existence by the Israelis in Lydda/Lod; and he, who had no part in the war before that time, was suddenly stateless and not allowed to return home. Moreover his sister died from complications, which he blamed on the expulsion. Something like that can upset a person.
Habash graduated high in his class and ran clinics, but the events of 1948 embittered him; and so he took up arms later on in his life.
But Habash was not typical. Most Christians were not involved in the fight, and have gotten hammered by both sides.
2See the video below, issued by the Catholic Church, which breaks down the statistics. Christian Arabs in pre-1967 Israel may be unusually prosperous and well educated in Israel; doing even better than Jews or Muslims; but their birthrate is low, and their demographic is dropping.
Clearly they are better off on the Israeli side of the Green line. It is not perfect, but they are prospering. They are not radicalized like their Muslim neighbors. There is social discrimation against them, even in Israel proper – and they may have difficulty obtaining housing. I am not sure the video takes account of Christian emigration.
Their numbers are small, and the addition of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to the citizenship roles would be statistically insignificant in a short time. But it would purchase a world of good will.