If Arabs and Muslims want to understand popular American support for Israel, rather than fantasizing about elaborate Jewish conspiracies manipulating clueless American Christians, they should reflect on how the persecution of Christians and wild hate-spewing rhetoric about Jews shapes American perceptions of the conflict. Americans generally would like the Israelis to work out some kind of a peace deal that would give Palestinians a state, but think of Hamas as a terrorist organization against which the Israelis must defend themselves however they can.
The contrast between Bethlehem and Gaza on Christmas night reinforces those views. It may be blinkered and culturally insensitive of them, but most Americans tend not to trust people who hate Christmas and Christians — and this isn’t because of the Jews.
The situation is so bad that even the generally pro-Palestinian Guardian newspaper can’t put a good face on the religious bigotry and foolishness on display in Hamas-run Gaza.
I would argue that this is also a good indication that the popular argument that Hamas — or other Islamists, for that matter — will turn out to be pragmatic “moderates” once they are in power is just wishful thinking: Hamas is ruling Gaza since 2007, and they are clever enough to know that the oppression of the few Christians living under their rule doesn’t make them look good in the West; yet, their “pragmatism” plays out very differently than Western pundits would hope, because from the standpoint of Hamas, pragmatism means subordinating the rights of a tiny minority to the loud and popular calls for the strictest enforcement of “Islamic values.”