Robert Novak

But U.S. intervention may be needed to save the village of Aboud, which according to local tradition received the Christian faith from Jesus himself. Christ is said to have preached at the place in Aboud where the ruins of the Messiah Church stand. Jesus and the Holy Family would have traveled the Roman Road, near Aboud, on the route between Jerusalem and Galilee. The village's Orthodox church was built in the 4th Century under the first Christian emperor of Rome, Constantine.

Religious tradition, however, does not deter Israeli policy. The new barrier will confiscate 39 percent of the village's olive fields and take over the aquifer that supplies one-fifth of the West Bank's total water supply. In October, construction uprooted 500 grapevines in Aboud. Twelve kilometers of the barrier will be built on Aboud's land, and the villages of Al-Lubban and Rantis also will lose more territory.

All this is justified as protection against terrorists, but the Holy Land Christian Society rejects that. "It is clear that the security barrier is not about security but the annexation of land for the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Israeli control over the water supply," argues a society paper. Israeli settlements Beit Arye and Ofarim were built on land taken from residents of Aboud.

The problems of the Catholic and Orthodox Christians of Aboud do not resonate in American politics. The evangelicals have signed a blank check to Israel in the interests of security in the Middle East. Of the many Roman Catholic members of Congress, only the venerable Rep. Henry Hyde (in the last year of his long career) has shown much interest in the subject.

That is why Cardinal McCarrick's involvement is encouraging for the champions of Holy Land Christians. He will visit the West Bank next month and may meet with Karen Hughes, under secretary of state for Public Diplomacy, for the sake of a few Christians in an ancient city.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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