Over two thousand years ago, in a town called Bethlehem, the first Christmas was celebrated with the birth of Jesus.William John Hagan is a columnist for the Canada Free Press and lives in rural Georgia
On that most holy of nights, a small group of people became the first Christians by celebrating the virgin birth.
It goes without saying that for a Christmas celebration to occur the presence of a Christian people is a prerequisite.
But while Bethlehem, and much of the modern de facto state of Palestine, may be the birth place of Christianity, it is also a land where modern Christianity is dying at the hands of a barbaric regime known as the Palestinian Authority.
Massive population drop
The population of Bethlehem was at one time over 90 percent Christian. Today, as a direct result of persecution, their numbers have dropped to below 25 percent. Today, less then two percent of the population in Palestine are Christian, compared to over 20 percent in 1948.
Various official and unofficial tactics have been used throughout Palestine to force the Christian population to flee to Israel. Economic discrimination is one of the frontline devices used by Palestinians to destroy the Christians.
One popular form of discrimination is the practice of hiring less qualified Muslims over more qualified Christians for official positions. This practice is particularly widespread in the public school system where the Muslim majority would rather have their children being taught by fellow Muslims.
A more devastating practice is the unofficial boycott of Christian-owned businesses by the Muslim population of the West Bank.
When 98 percent of the population refuses to do business with you because of your belief in Jesus, it makes it almost impossible for Palestine's Christians to make a living.
Despite the economic persecution of Palestine's Christians, Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh has invited Christians, world wide, to come to his city to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
The cynical explanation for his invitation is not an olive branch to the Christian community but economic gain for the Palestinian people.
Batarseh explained that, "our great city of Bethlehem...depends upon tourism and pilgrimage for its
His message is a simple one. Christians are welcome to visit Palestine and spend their money; they are just not welcome to stay.
In addition to economic oppression, Palestinian Christians face a far greater threat in the form of violence from their Islamic neighbors. The worst recent example of such violence took place in Palestine's only all-Christian town of Taybeh.
In what has been described as a pogrom against the town's 1,500 Christians, a group of Muslim youths from the neighboring village of Dair Jarir carried out a two-day assault on Taybeh.
According to a report by Daniel Pipes in the Gamla Intelligence Newsletter, the Muslims "broke into houses and stole furniture, jewelry, and electrical appliances. They threw Molotov cocktails at some buildings and poured kerosene on others, then torched them.
The damage included at least 16 houses, some stores, a farm, and a gas station. The assailants vandalized cars, looted extensively, and destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary. "It was like a war," one Taybeh resident told the Jerusalem Post.
Hours passed before Palestinian Authority security and fire services arrived. Fifteen of the Muslim attackers were arrested, but spent only a few hours in police detention and then were released.
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Catholic Custodian of the Holy Land, reports that Christians in the Bethlehem region alone have suffered 93 cases of injustice.
One such case was the murder of two teenage sisters from the Christian Amre family at the hands of Muslims. The children were shot by their Islamic attackers after being tortured by having lit cigarettes applied to their genitals before they were executed.
Despite daily reports of alleged abuse of Palestinian Muslims in the mainstream media, Western newspapers have turned a blind eye to the violence and persecution that Christians and Jews are today suffering at the hands of the Palestinians, whom they attempt to portray as victims.
This Christmas, as we celebrate in the comfort of our homes and churches, it would be more than fitting to remember the Christians who are dying for their faith, in the birthplace of Jesus.