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More questions about the settler attack on church in Jerusalem

By Renee Bowyer

A group of extremist Israeli settlers attacked and set fire to an old Christian church in Jerusalem (Al Quds) on Friday night, 30th October. The church itself was built more than a hundred years ago and has housed Christian worshippers in the Holy city of Al Quds for decades.  For the leaders of the Church, Friday night's attack was indicative of the slow but steady destruction of Al Quds itself; once a city of diverse religious beliefs and practices. Zakaria Al-Mashriqi, one of these Leaders of the Church spoke of the attack as a "sinful crime" and stated in a press conference that the destruction of the Church was in line with the attempts by the Israeli army, the settler force and the Israeli government to expel Palestinians from the Holy city.

It has been reported in Arab media that the group of Israeli settlers used Molotov cocktails to break the windows of the church and set fire to the ground floor. There have been some follow up reports in English media outlets mostly based inside occupied Palestine. But there has been no mention of the attack in any one of the major western media outlets.

The right of worship is one of the most basic and sacred of human rights and yet there has also been no condemnation of the attack by any international body supposedly dealing with violations of human rights.

We have to ask the question why this is the case. Why can a violent attack on a place of worship go unmentioned? Why can a gang of people terrorize a congregation, use hand-made weapons and bombs to set fire to a house of worship and not be held accountable for their actions?

Al-Mashriqi made a hopeless plea to the Israeli government to act responsibly and condemn the attack, and work on investigating the incident to find out who was involved. No one will be surprised that the Israeli government made no response to this plea.

But why? Why are we not surprised that Israel will not investigate the attack?
Why are we not surprised that the attack has not been reported in any western media? And why are we not surprised that the international organizations dealing with violations of human rights have not condemned the attack?

Is it because this sort of thing happens all the time in occupied Palestine and we are used to it? Is it because we all know how Israel controls western media? Is it because we have grown too used to counting Palestinian losses?

If such an attack occurred in Sudan for example or Somalia there would be an immediate Islamic phobia reaction; condemnation of the attack from all religious leaders, media propaganda about terrorism and immediate links presented between the attackers and Islamic terrorist organizations. There would be emergency meetings in the Security Council and the attack would be seen as an attack against Christianity by Islamic terrorism. The western world would know every detail of the attack and attackers and our conquest wars in the Middle East would seem justifiable again because of the threat posed by terrorism against our values.

On the same day that the church was destroyed in Palestine, an explosive device was discovered on a plane in the Midlands in the UK; as well as one in Dubai.

The device did not explode and in fact there is no indication given that it was even going to, or if it did how destructive it would have been. But within an hour the world knew. We knew how the device had come from Yemen, the 'new home of Islamic terrorism'. We knew how the device had been 'sent' by a young Muslim woman and that she was a medical student. We knew that she had been arrested. We accepted an immediate crack down on airport security and further violations against our own liberties for 'security reasons'.

We had to listen to report after report of the threat of Yemen and Islamic fundamentalists and we accepted all of this because we have been conditioned to accept it.

This was all for a perceived threat and not an actual attack. But we heard nothing of the burning of the Church in Al Quds that happened on the same day. We heard nothing about the settlers who carried out this attack and we can be sure they have not been arrested.

This incident highlights two very important points:

Firstly the very real threat that Israel poses to all of us. Israel has long been seen as the Western outpost in the Middle East; but it has shown increasingly that it is a law unto itself. The stealing of Western passports to undertake a cold-blooded murder is one example; their attack on a Christian house of worship is another.

The second point that this incident highlights is the racist bias of the Western media and the fact that Israel controls all our major media outlets. The fact that there has been no condemnation by any international body against the attack on the church and no attempt to even report the incident in the West is proof of this.

If there is any integrity left in the West to act against Israeli violations of international law we ought to lend our voices to that of Zakaria Al Mashriqi who called on the international community to view Friday's attack as an example of Israel's policy of using force, violence and terror to expel Palestinians from their own land.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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