Palestinian Christians: Why so little coverage outside of Easter and Christmas?

Mainstream news coverage of the persecution of Middle East Christians -- including the lack of such coverage -- receives lots of attention here at GetReligion. Here's a sample in the form of one of our "Crossroads" podcasts.

Elsewhere, the level of coverage tends to ebb and flow with the degree of brutality accompanying the persecution. When a large number of Christians are murdered -- say, by the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq -- the coverage spikes. When the discrimination is merely pervasive but not violent in a spectacular way -- such as that endured by Egypt's Copts -- the coverage recedes.

Here are two examples of journalistic attention to the issue.

One is an editorial from Britain's The Guardian. The other is a news piece from Fox News.

Note that the latter underscores the possibility of the eradication of the Middle East's ancient churches from the lands that birthed them. (More recently arrived Protestant churches also are under assault, of course.)

What you generally hear less about is the plight of the Christian minorities living under Palestinian rule in the West Bank and Gaza. And when you do see a story it's likely to be timed to Christmas or Easter, when Palestinian Christians are most visible to the international media and a Holy Land dateline is a beloved trade hallmark, even if that means ignoring the fact that many Christians in this region use the older Julian calendar and, thus, celebrate Christmas and Pascha later than the churches of the West.

Here's one Christmas piece published a few years back on the Wall Street Journal website. And here's a 2015 Christmas story in The New York Times.

Why do Palestinian Christians living under Palestinian rule get so much less attention?

It's fair to say -- and this is probably obvious to all of you who pay close attention to the region -- that the cause is rooted in the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Actually, it's fair to say that just about everything that happens in Israel-Palestine is tied to the larger conflict.

Palestinian Christians are a tiny minority, accounting for less than about 2% of the population in the West Bank and less than 1% in Gaza. Click here for background on them via Wikipedia.

Others live in Israel, where, depending upon one's politics, they are known as Arab Christians or Palestinian Christians. Of course, many more live in the global Palestinian diaspora.

Their small numbers in the West Bank and Gaza are one reason for the limited mainstream media coverage. But at least equally important is their strong desire to be seen first and foremost as Palestinians who fully identify with the larger Palestinian cause -- as they actually do to an   overwhelming degree.

Palestinian Christians are a vulnerable minority who try hard not to appear suspect, despite not subscribing to their culture's overwhelmingly dominant faith, Islam. To be suspected of sympathizing even minimally with the West (meaning Israel and the non-Muslim world in general), which is how Christians are generally portrayed in the broader Arab world, is likely to lead to big trouble in the Palestinian territories.

The Time's Christmas story linked to above made this point about the great importance of political solidarity among Palestinians. Here's that link again.

There are other media that pay closer attention to the Palestinian Christian situation, as savvy GetReligion readers also know. Many are tied to, or at least highly sympathetic to, Christian watchdog agencies whose business it is to keep track of persecuted Christians worldwide.

Others are Israeli or American right-of-center publications. As I said, everything that happens in Israel-Palestine is political fodder. The pretty obvious agenda for these pro-Israel outlets is to make Palestinian officials and society look bad so as to sway opinion in the Christian world.

But by no means does that mean that the information they disseminate is unreliable simply because of its source.

Journalists get information from wherever they can. By all means do your own research, to the degree possible. Compare information from one source with information received from another. Try and spot biases, including your own. Just don't reject information out-of-hand simply because of its origin.

The following are two such recent reports to be read -- but not dismissed -- with a critical eye. Be aware of your mental and physical reactions when you read them. If you're uncomfortable with something you read, stop and ask yourself why.

The first is a news piece from The Jerusalem Post, Israel's longest existing English-language daily. Currently, it tilts right. Over the years, it's bounced both ways, depending upon who is in charge.

The second is a more in depth essay published by Mosaic, an American Jewish outlet that's also center-right. It was originally written for the Gatestone Institute, which is also right-leaning. Here's the Mosaic link. But it may be easier to access the piece on the Gatestone website, so here's that link.

Here's the point it seeks to make:

The sad truth is that in the Palestinian territories, Christians are forced to live like dhimmis -- second-class citizens who survive largely by the protection-money they are required to pay to buy their daily safety. These barely-tolerated citizens exist only at the whim and pleasure of the ruling Muslim majority. Muslim Arab discrimination against non-Muslims includes economic and socially prejudicial behavior that makes it difficult or impossible for Christian Arabs to run a profitable business or for their families to be fully integrated into society.

Remember, that the Palestinian side tends to ascribe the troubles faced by Palestinian Christians to Israel. The claim is that Israel lumps together all Palestinians, Christian or Muslim, and persecutes them all. Click here for an essay detailing that view from Middle East Monitor, a pro-Palestinian publication based in the United Kingdom.

Journalists: Allow me to say this again; however you feel about this issue, whatever you think you know about the complicated political maneuverings in Israel-Palestine, be sure to do your due diligence. Assume nothing and, to the degree you can, check out the presumed "facts" for yourself.

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