A useful article published in The Guardian several weeks ago highlighted yet another piece of evidence which demonstrates how Hamas-led Gaza is becoming increasingly radically Islamised. This is just one of various such reports (for example, remember the wedding guests roughed up for their celebration regarded as thorougly un-Islamic?).
Interestingly, however, Palestinian radicalisation does not seem to be limited to Gaza. The Palestinians are traditionally secular in outlook, yet a book by Loren Lybarger, which first I came across some 12-18 months ago, suggest many (including in the West Bank) have become radicalised over the past decade or two. Of course, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian commentators will explain this phenomenon in diammetrically opposed ways, but that aside I think Lybarger's book is useful for two reasons. First, it highlights the complex and divided nature of Palestinian identity, helping to explain why Palestinians seems to be so divided, and thus weakened, in the current Israel-Palestinian conflict. If you've ever wondered why Palestinians can't seem to get their act together, constantly bickering among themselves, this book might help to supply some reasons. Second, a strong shift towards Islamism among a traditionally secular people demonstrates, yet again, the thoroughly theological nature of this conflict. Those who think there is a purely political solution to the conflict are, in my view, living in another world.
Clearly the Palestinian authorities, espepcially Hamas in Gaza, are not above criticism. Many Christians have suffered at the hands of militant Islam in recent years, and the Christian Palestinians suffer partly from pressure from Islamic authorities which is why so many have left - (but not the only reason).
I think though that it is Islamic culture itself that is ultimately being destroyed by the militants. Many muslims are coming to faith in Christ through dreams and visions.
In Gaza especially I believe the tiny Christian community have suffered. But I'm told by Christians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that in places like Bethlehem they also get a raw deal, not so much violence as economic pressure and persecution.
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