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Old 05-10-2002, 01:35 PM   #1
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No respect in Bethlehem

As much as I believe the Palestinians need and should have their own democratic state, stories like this truly piss me off.

I understand the Palestianian hatred of the Jews - it would be very difficult to live in the conditions they do and then do so under occupation, HOWEVER, I do not believe their disrespect of the Church of the Nativity should have been allowed, tolerated, or accepted. They are now being exiled to a hotel overlooking the sea in Cyprus.

I am still looking for some reason to give the Palestinians what they want even though they have never shown or presented a plan for peace. (i.e. Arafat has only rejected others' plans) Give me some evidence they actually want it, and I will back them fully. Otherwise, the terrorism has to stop, and Arafat has to go.

Here is the story:


BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) - Israeli jeeps and armored vehicles began pulling out of Bethlehem's Manger Square Friday, after a tense standoff at the Church of the Nativity ended with 13 suspected Palestinians militants flying into exile.

After the militants and a number of foreign activists supporters left, journalists touring the church found it littered with trash, bedrolls and stinking of urine. The wooden altar in the Armenian section of the basilica had been used as a food table and was covered with a coffee pot and the remnants of meals. In one area, there were two unopened cans of beans.

As the pullback began, several dozen Palestinian children ran into the square, clapping and whistling as the troops left, marking the end of the 39-day occupation of Bethlehem. Military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the pullback would be completed within several hours.

Israel moved forces into the West Bank on March 29 after a series of suicide bombings. The military said the troops and armor were sent to wipe out terrorist and their infrastructure.


The standoff at the holy Christian shrine began April 2 after more than 200 Palestinians, including wanted militants, ran into the church fleeing advancing Israeli troops.

Earlier, the gunmen had one-by-one walked through the low-slung Gate of Humility, the basilica's main door, into the hazy sunlight of Manger Square. Some waved or flashed victory signs, and one man briefly dropped to the ground, kneeling in a Muslim prayer pose. Two men were carried out on stretchers.

The exiled militants were flown by British military transport to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus were they were put up at a seaside hotel under police guard.

Israeli army Capt. Ron Edelheit said troops found 40 explosive devices in the church in a search.

The ancient basilica, built over the spot where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born, was strewn with mattresses and unwashed pots and pans.

Israeli troops had periodically provided food to the clergymen inside, who then distributed it among the Palestinians. One priest, speaking on condition of anonymity, complained that the foreigners had desecrated the church by smoking and drinking alcohol. He said he was also upset by the trash in the compound.

Jesus' birth grotto, which is just a few steps down from the main hall of the basilica, was in pristine condition. Some of the younger Palestinians had slept there since it was the warmest spot, but were later persuaded to move elsewhere so priests could conduct services there.

There were no signs of damage to the church, though several rooms in other buildings in the compound had been scorched by fire. One of the foreign activists had said earlier that a 12th century fresco in the basilica was damaged by gunshots. However, the mosaic was badly preserved and it was not clear whether the damage was new.

Earlier, Israeli police in riot gear later entered the church to forcefully remove 10 foreign activists, including four Americans, who sneaked into the church on May 2 in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

The Vatican hailed what it termed the "happy" end to the standoff in a statement issued at the end of a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

"The meeting took place fortunately in the context of the happy conclusion to the siege of the Basilica of the Nativity of Bethlehem, which must not in any case make people forget the grave problems that still hamper the achievement of peace," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

In Washington, President Bush issued a statement calling the end of the standoff a positive move.

"The end of the standoff in Bethlehem is a positive development that removes an obstacle to restoring security cooperation between the parties and should advance the prospects for resuming a political peace process," President Bush said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces massed near the Gaza Strip for a possible strike in retaliation for suicide bombings, including one this week that left 15 Israelis dead and was claimed by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed retaliation and action appeared imminent, with troops and tanks heading toward Israel's border with Gaza, where Hamas is based.

In the southern Israeli town of Beersheba, meanwhile, a bomb exploded near a bank Friday, slightly injuring six people. Police detained two suspects.

Thirteen of the gunmen who emerged from the Church of the Nativity were driven to Israel's international airport near Tel Aviv and flown to Cyprus where they were ensconced in a seaside hotel under police guard.

Twenty-six others were driven in two buses to the Gaza Strip, under U.S. escort. Seventy-three Palestinian civilians and policemen not wanted by Israel were released.

U.S. personnel removed weapons from the church as Israeli soldiers guarded the main door and clergy looked on. In all, 90 pistols and assault rifles were removed. The Americans put rods down the barrels to check for ammunition, tagged the weapons and placed them in American vehicles.

Among the 13 deportees were nine members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, and three members of the Islamic militant Hamas group. The 13th is Abdullah Daoud, the Palestinian intelligence chief in Bethlehem.

From Cyprus, the exiles were to continue on to Italy, Spain, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and possibly Canada, according to EU officials.

There was no indication that the Palestinians would face confinement in the host countries. An Italian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the details of the exile would be worked out at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

The United States, the Vatican and EU officials were heavily involved in negotiations to end the standoff.

The main sticking point in recent days had been finding a host country for the 13 top wanted men. Italy balked at taking in all the men but a breakthrough came when Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides said his country would temporarily take them until they were flown to final destinations.

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Old 05-10-2002, 11:18 PM   #2
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Can you imagine the reaction if this took place in the Dome of the Rock?
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Old 05-10-2002, 11:28 PM   #3
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I just saw a young woman on Fox news who's mother was killed in Israel a couple of years ago when the car she was riding in was fired upon by Palestinans (sp). She said that one of the men in the church gave the direct order that resulted in her mother's death. The US just let these people leave? What happened to our war on terror? Sounds like a double standard to me.
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Old 05-11-2002, 04:34 PM   #4
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You know what? I am proud of the current state of the Church of the Nativity. Rather than being an impeccable shrine to archaic tradition and greed, as "soiled," the Church has finally served the purpose it was founded on: to help those in need. I am very proud of the clergy who provided refuge to the Palestinians, whom I can virtually guarantee would be dead already at the hands of Israel otherwise; they truly know the tenets of Christianity. The building itself can be cleaned up easily, but these people can only live once.

Melon

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Old 05-11-2002, 05:17 PM   #5
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I do not fault the clergy for giving refuge to anyone, including the soldiers; but I am disturbed if any of the "refugees" urinated wherever they wanted. Maybe the Church of the Nativity is not important to you, Melon, but to many Christians in that area (and around the world) it is a special place.

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Old 05-11-2002, 05:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2Bama:
I do not fault the clergy for giving refuge to anyone, including the soldiers; but I am disturbed if any of the "refugees" urinated wherever they wanted. Maybe the Church of the Nativity is not important to you, Melon, but to many Christians in that area (and around the world) it is a special place.
The Church of the Nativity is certainly important to me, but it is not more important to me than human life. I'm sure that Jesus' comments about destroying and rebuilding the temple in three days certainly disturbed people 2000 years ago, but it's just that: a building. I've generally been apathetic about organized Christianity lately, which seems to be greed-obsessed and too involved in politics and war to even deserve my respect; but to see actual Christianity in practice is truly a beautiful thing.

Melon

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Old 05-11-2002, 09:27 PM   #7
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Its sad that terrorist that were trying to kill innocent humans were allowed to hide in the church from IDF forces that were trying to prevent their acts of terror. It is sick and selfish that they would use the history of the church and the clergy inside to shield themselves from the IDF. But I guess its to be expected of terrorist.
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Old 05-12-2002, 01:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
The Church of the Nativity is certainly important to me, but it is not more important to me than human life. I'm sure that Jesus' comments about destroying and rebuilding the temple in three days certainly disturbed people 2000 years ago, but it's just that: a building. I've generally been apathetic about organized Christianity lately, which seems to be greed-obsessed and too involved in politics and war to even deserve my respect; but to see actual Christianity in practice is truly a beautiful thing.

Melon

I find it quite disturbing that you completely fail to address that many of the people who were held captive there are wanted terrorists responsible for the murders of innocent Israelis. I guess it would have been a better alternative to just let them go off and commit more suicide bombings? Any loss of civilian, whether it be Palestinian OR Isreali is regrettable. However, I consider than an armed civilian who decides to fight a war becomes a soldier and has to face the consequences from that decision. They should thus stop complaining about being targetted by the ennemi. They want to fight the war, they have to pay the costs in human life, as Israelis have always been willing to do so. It was cowardly and disgusting of these armed terrorists to seek refuge in the Church of the Nativity. But what can we expect from terrorists who have no qualms about firing at 3 year old girl 17 times.
Maybe I don't always agree with the methods of the IDF but I have difficulty believing the Palestinian propaganda, especially given all the recent lies spread by the palestinian authority. For instance, the so-called Jenin massacre of more than 3500 civilians. Even human rights organizations, who tend to be pro-palestinian, now admit that there was probably 50-60 dead at most, half of which were armed "freedom fighters" and that they have found no evidence of the mass graves the Palestininans had reported. More than 25 Israelli soldiers were killed in Jennin. Now they're going to say that most of those who were held captives in the Church of the Nativity were innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Right. Maybe the palestinian authority will realize someday that it's in their best interest to stop murdering Israelis in the hope of getting their own state. In their past 50 years of using violence against Israeli civilians they have gained nothing, not an inch of territory. Furthermore, their own children are dying due to the hatred that has been taught to them. 3 Palestinian 15 year old boys who decide to build pipe-bombs to murder Israelis, after seeing that suicide-bombers were portrayed as heros and had their pictures posted on the walls of their city, were shot dead by the Israeli army. A change of methods is in order for both Israel and the Palestinians. Peace is no longer an option but their only choice to solve the conflict...
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Old 05-12-2002, 11:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by lady lemonade:
I find it quite disturbing that you completely fail to address that many of the people who were held captive there are wanted terrorists responsible for the murders of innocent Israelis.
I did not mention this, because it is completely irrelevant to my argument. Assuming that Israel is correct and all of them are terrorists, they should have been arrested and put on trial, rather than the usual Israeli tactic of "shoot first, ask questions later." If these men had not been given sanctuary at this church, they would all be dead guaranteed. If these men had been holed up in anywhere but this church, the building would likely have been obliterated, killing all of them.

Terrorists? Perhaps, but the challenge of the New Testament is not only to love your neighbor, but to love your enemies. Granted, the latter has frequently been trampled on in the history of Christianity even up to today, so I find it quite beautiful to see it actually practiced for once. It may certainly be soiled (have you ever thought that over a month of an Israeli blockade may result in unsanitary conditions, rather than for "lack of respect"?), but this is what Christianity and that building was created for, not just for decoration.

I'm sorry if you hate my opinions, but I stand by them.

Melon

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Old 05-12-2002, 12:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon:
I did not mention this, because it is completely irrelevant to my argument. Assuming that Israel is correct and all of them are terrorists, they should have been arrested and put on trial, rather than the usual Israeli tactic of "shoot first, ask questions later." If these men had not been given sanctuary at this church, they would all be dead guaranteed. If these men had been holed up in anywhere but this church, the building would likely have been obliterated, killing all of them.

Terrorists? Perhaps, but the challenge of the New Testament is not only to love your neighbor, but to love your enemies. Granted, the latter has frequently been trampled on in the history of Christianity even up to today, so I find it quite beautiful to see it actually practiced for once. It may certainly be soiled (have you ever thought that over a month of an Israeli blockade may result in unsanitary conditions, rather than for "lack of respect"?), but this is what Christianity and that building was created for, not just for decoration.

I'm sorry if you hate my opinions, but I stand by them.

Melon

I would have agreed with you if these were innocent civilians. But I think the fact that they are murderers is crucial to the argument. I don't think that the purpose of the Church when it was built was to provide a refuge for cold-blood killers. You wanna live like a soldier you have to die like a soldier. Most people did not grieve when there were 13 soldiers killed in Jenin. Love your ennemi? Maybe, but excuse me if I tend to hold a grudge against Osama Bin Laden. Would it have been also okay for him to seek refuge in the Church of the Nativity? Anyway, if Israel had wanted them all dead they could have stormed the Church but they chose to exercise restraint and respect for the sanctity of holy sites, something that Palestinians have failed to show in the past. For instance, consider the destruction of Tomb of Joseph which was destroyed after the Palestinain Authority had assured the Israeli army that they would preserve it intact. If these people can walk out of the Church of the Nativity alive today it's because Israel wanted it that way. This could have ended in a bloodshed and we should be thankful that it ended the way it did. Hopefully, those responsible for acts of terrorism will be prosecuted and incarcerated.
Of course you are entitled to you opinion, I just don't agree with it
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Old 05-12-2002, 12:42 PM   #11
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WHOA! I thought this baby was closed...well time to edit my completely inappropriate comment...

((EDIT))


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[This message has been edited by gabrielvox (edited 05-16-2002).]
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Old 05-12-2002, 01:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by gabrielvox:
And the Oxymoron of The Year award goes to the phrase: "innocent Israeli".

Gabriel
Right, because there is no such thing as an innocent Israeli, they all deserve to die. They are all a bunch of blood-thirsty lunatics who sell the organs of Palestinian children and use their blood in their matzos. Of course the whole Israeli population supports the killing of Palestinian. There was no pro-peace rally in the streets of Tel Aviv yesterday where 60 000 Israelis asked their government not to enter Gaza. Oh, and the holocaust never happened, it was just an excuse for Jews to murder Palestinian children. Nice to see that the Palestinian propaganda machine is still going strong. Damn, if only they'd gotten rid of all those Jews in WWII, we wouldn't have this problem today, huh? There is no such thing as an innocent Israeli, even that 3 year old girl that got shot 18 times deserved it, right? Please note the sarcastic tone of my reply to your offensive and racist comment.
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Old 05-12-2002, 02:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by lady lemonade:
Right, because there is no such thing as an innocent Israeli, they all deserve to die.
Interesting how you mistook my disagreement with your wide ranging rant to mean that all Israelis should die. Maybe its that all or nothing attitude (occupation or death) that is the root of the problem over there to begin with??

Quote:
They are all a bunch of blood-thirsty lunatics who sell the organs of Palestinian children and use their blood in their matzos.
Well that one gets the dual honor of being completely irrelevant, while also being totally over the top.

Quote:

Of course the whole Israeli population supports the killing of Palestinian.
Of course they dont, just as the entire Palestinian population doesnt support suicide terrorist bombings. But I do ask you to consider this: if the majority of Israelis dont support the occupations and incursions, why did they democratically elect a leader who vowed to continue if not step up these atrocious policies? Why is it that every time Israeli tanks move into new settlements, there are 'innocent Isrealis' following them, taking up their residence on stolen land? Where are the protesters you mentioned when this is happening?? If they willingly settle with military assistance, which usually results in loss of innocent Palestinian lives, are they not complicit in the murders?

Quote:
Oh, and the holocaust never happened
WHy is it that anytime we talk about the mideast crisis, images of the Holocaust must be invoked? What does it have to do with anything??? Do the Jews deserve to act with complete disregard for the UN resolutions just because for a brief period in history they were persecuted? Good lord, if that's the standard, we'd better be pretty damned afraid of Africa. The Holocaust is irrelevant to the issues currently at hand, although Isreal does seem to believe in some of the tenets of ethnic cleansing, it would seem.

Quote:
it was just an excuse for Jews to murder Palestinian children. Nice to see that the Palestinian propaganda machine is still going strong.
Congrats on another completely biased over the top comment. Really, I dont know what is the Jews' excuse these days for murdering innocent Palestinian children. I don't need to quote the exact figures of Palestinian to Israeli civilian deaths so far, but it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 1. That's 20 innocent Palestinians killed for every 1 Israeli.

Quote:
Please note the sarcastic tone of my reply to your offensive and racist comment.
Actually the biggest thing I noticed about all of your comments on this topic is just how incredibly naive and one-sided they were.

Incidentally, I have no special love for Palestinians either. Their centre adjoins my kids day care centre and every day I fear that something may happen there. Like 2 months ago when Jewish kids (born in Canada probably, mind you) threw molotov cocktails at the front entrance, endangering my kid's lives with their idealogical conflict.

As for the Palestinians conduct while inside the church in Bethlehem, do we really know the whole story? Were there washrooms that they could have gotten to without being shot down by the Israelis? Maybe not, and so they had no other choice, perhaps? WHat were they supposed to do, ask for a washroom break?

Its easy for us on this side of the water to write judgementally about one side or the other, but until we've lived it, we're just reiterating whatever our media has chosen to feed us.

Gabriel


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[This message has been edited by gabrielvox (edited 05-12-2002).]
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Old 05-12-2002, 04:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by lady lemonade:
Next time, try to avoid making generalizations and chose your words more carefully.
Ummm...yeah, ok, I'll listen to your advice...umm, on second thought, no, I wont.

Quote:

However, I do find it questionable that you put "innocent Israeli" between quotation marks but you have no problem labeling innnocent Palestinian.
Um, hello?? I was quoting someone else's (probably yours) post about the innocent Israelis. I wasnt including the quotes as some form of sarcastic phrasing mechanism, I was quoting someone. But then again you seem to love to argue about semantics so your misinterpretation is to be expected.

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..you might have heard of the 500 soldiers who refused to serve in the occupied territories.
Actually, I have, in fact I READ (not watched on the idiot box) an interview in Maclean's where they interviewed an Israeli born Canadian who had returned to "defend his homeland" (PS this is direct sarcasm now, just so you know) and he had also refused to serve in the occupied territories, not because he morally objected to the occupation, but because he was afraid that he'd be the target of retaliation in Isreal and back home in Canada. I'd bet most of those who refuse to serve there do so because of similar fears.


Quote:
Watch more tv.


Aside from being a Bono-quote, that's about the stupidest thing I've heard you say so far on the issue. You'd do well to watch less. Read more.

(((EDIT))). I will clarify my statement just so you don't get confused: if the Israeli population in general supports the occupations, incursions and resulting murders of Palestinian civlians, then Israelis in general are just as complicit in the murders as the IDF soldier who pulled the trigger.

Oh, and just let me get this straight, so I don't misunderstand...the IDF fighter who dons his uniform and storms through occupied towns blasting anything that moves is a 'soldier', just doing his job, right? And the Palestinian who straps a bomb to himself in retaliation is a 'terrorist', right?

Tell you what: lets get the US to send just as many guns, weapons, ammo, fighter jets, missiles, nuclear secrets etc as they have to the Israelis, over to the Palestinians. Level the playing field, gather them all around to the valley of Meggedo (sp?) and then let them fight in an honorable way so as to avoid the terrorist label...

Theyre all fuckin terrorists, if you ask me.



[This message has been edited by gabrielvox (edited 05-16-2002).]
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Old 05-12-2002, 05:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by gabrielvox:

Theyre all fuckin terrorists, if you ask me.

Okay, guess that sums it up. I won't bother quoting from your reply which is basically constituted of a bunch of personal jabs and poorly-veiled hateful comments. However, about your statement concerning the Israeli refuseniks, which you seem to have solely based on that one article you read in Maclean's, here's something else for you to read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Sto...646023,00.html
Oh, and just so you know, that watch more tv comment was directed at you as you seem to have been brainwashed into making one-sided and judgemental assumptions. I don't have cable, I have studied political science and I read a lot. Thank you for your concern though
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