Catholic News Service photo
A Palestinian protester near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Catholic News Service photo
A Palestinian protester near the West Bank city of Ramallah.
To the Catholic Sentinel:

This is my response to  the Wall Street Journal March 9 piece on Israel and the plight of Mideast Christians.

As a visitor to the Occupied West Bank, I heard a drastically different story than that presented by Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Is his article part of the barrage of Israeli propaganda to goad the U.S. into another disastrous war, this time with Iran?

We saw the major problems of Christians in the West Bank as poverty, travel restrictions imposed by Israel, and Israeli seizure of their ancestral lands.

We asked Christians why they were leaving Bethlehem and they said “There are no jobs here. We send our children to college overseas and they have trouble returning home. Some have lost residency.

“We can’t travel freely even to Jerusalem or nearby West Bank villages to conduct business or for school. We are not allowed to use roads built for Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank. They took land that has been in our family for 400 years. We are caught in a net and are being strangled.”

Is this part of an Israeli plan for ethnic cleansing the West Bank of its indigenous people?

We read in major U.S. publications that some U.S. priests have difficulty obtaining Israeli approval to stay in Israel to manage Christian holy sites.

We read that Israel is trying to transform some Church-run holy sites into Israeli-controlled national parks.

Some Church-run monasteries and a winery have been restricted by the wall Israel built between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

West Bank Christians tell us they emigrate to the U.S. and elsewhere in the West because they have the education to get jobs and family abroad to help. They are fleeing the Israeli occupation.

Mary Ryan-Hotchkiss