It’s crunch time for Palestinian Christian leaders, especially those living in the city of Bethlehem.
Leaders in the allegedly “moderate” Palestinian Authority are accusing Israel of contaminating Muslim holy sites and calling for more violence against Israelis.
They are starting to talk like Hamas about the impossibility of allowing Jewish sovereignty on land previously governed by Muslim rulers.
What we see has all the makings of a Third Intifada that will cost hundreds, if not thousands, of people their lives. It will make life more difficult for both Jews and Arabs.
If the violence continues unabated, there will be more checkpoints in the West Bank and it will be more difficult for Palestinians to get into Israel to work or worship in Jerusalem’s Holy Places.
Tourism will decline, costing shop owners in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem the income they need to survive. A Third Intifada will simply be a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians.
Clearly, somebody in Palestinian society needs to come forward and speak words of peace to their fellow Palestinians.
One group that should be in a position are Christians living in Bethlehem, particularly those associated with Bethlehem Bible College and The Holy Land Trust, located nearby.
Both of these institutions were established by the Awad family, a prominent Christian family in Bethlehem.
For the past few decades, these Christians, who have close ties to the Palestinian Authority, have portrayed themselves as a force for peace and development in Palestinian society.
They have done this at Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences organized by Bethlehem Bible College, where Israel is condemned left right and center for its actions and where Palestinian and Arab violence is downplayed or condoned.
These Christian activists now face a test.
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have run over Israelis with their cars in Jerusalem?
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis in the streets of Jerusalem.
Will they condemn Palestinian Authority leaders for inciting violence against Israelis and for accusing Israel of “contaminating” Muslim holy sites?
Will they call on Palestinian elites to put the genie of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement in the bottle?
Or will they keep their mouths shut about the misdeeds of their fellow countrymen while in Bethlehem only to fly to the United States and Europe to condemn the security measures that Israel imposes to protect its citizens?
What will they do?
If they do not speak up now about the misdeeds of their fellow Palestinians, the game will be up.
Through their silence they will be exposed.
If they cower in the face of Palestinian violence and incitement and roar like lions at the Israelis, the world will see them for what they are – just another part of the anti-Israel propaganda machine constructed to wage war against the Jewish state, using the language of peace.