Foreign Policy Digital

Don’t Blame the Orthodox Church for Nasty Political Games in the Holy Land

The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is not deliberately selling off land to Israeli settlers. It has been the victim of fraud and attacks by Israeli extremists.

In her Jan. 7 article for Foreign Policy, “Holy Land for Sale,” Dalia Hatuqa presented a picture of large-scale discontent within the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem that exaggerates the numbers and importance of the dissidents within the church, misstates many facts, and distracts attention from an existential threat to all Christian churches in the Holy Land, not just the Greek Orthodox Church.

The article unwittingly serves the interests of extremists among the Israeli settler movement, allied with politicians seeking political gain, who have targeted the land holdings of all the churches—Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, Anglican, and half a dozen others—that make up the Christian community of the Holy Land.

Ateret Cohanim, a settler organization that aims to expel Muslims and Christians from Jerusalem, has, as correctly noted in Hatuqa’s article, systematically acquired property in the Old City through a toxic mixture of intimidation and bribery—and occasionally violent occupation. Once Ateret Cohanim acquires a property, its adherents occupy the buildings and terrorize the surrounding neighborhood. They play loud music at night, assault women, and spit on priests. Jerusalem Christians believe that Ateret Cohanim has also vandalized

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Foreign Policy Digital

Foreign Policy Digital5 min readPolitics
Halkbank Indictment Turbocharges U.S.-Turkey Tensions
After a long, mysterious delay, the Trump administration finally targets the Turkish bank for helping Iran to evade U.S. sanctions. Don’t expect Ankara to cooperate.
Foreign Policy Digital5 min readPolitics
Will Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Prize Tilt Ethiopia’s Election?
Western leaders long saw the authoritarian Meles Zenawi as an indispensable ally. Now, they’ve found a new hero in Abiy Ahmed. But is the Nobel Prize an effort to make amends or influence Ethiopia’s political future?
Foreign Policy Digital4 min readPolitics
Iran’s Proxies Are More Powerful Than Ever
The Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy is working—just not in the way that matters most.