BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Bethlehem father whose daughter recently released a pro-Israel video has condemned the move, saying that the family "rejects and distances" themselves from the content in a statement made to Bethlehem's Radio Mawwal.
The Anastas family also denied claims that their daughter had been forced to flee, saying that they feared she had been the victim of "entrapment" and was under "pressure" from sponsors who had promised to pay her enrollment fees and housing costs for university in the United Kingdom.
The statement comes after a video featuring their daughter Christy was released on the internet in which she spoke of her belief that "God has given this land to the Jews as an everlasting covenant," and claimed that she was forced to flee Palestine because of persecution for her beliefs.
The Anastas family expressed their "surprise" at the video, "deploring and condemning" her words, denying that she was ever forced to "flee" but instead that they she had left of her own free will to study abroad.
They added that the video "was a result of direct pressure that Christy is currently experiencing."
They said in a statement that a year and a half ago, a British church official had come to their house and offered to pay for their daughter to attend university in the United Kingdom.
After accepting the offer and traveling to the UK, however, the family said that Christy's behavior had become "incomprehensible and unclear," and claimed that she was no longer enrolled in university.
They did not understand what the men who were paying for her education had done to her, they added.
"For as long as we know, Christy's position was always against the wall and the Israeli occupation, which prevented her from living her childhood," the family said, stressing that she had expressed this point of view "in more than one television interview in the past."
They also said that they feared that Israeli authorities were trying to "exploit" their daughter "in order to weaken us and get us out of our house, which has been the target of the occupation since the construction of the apartheid wall."
The Anastas family live a uniquely nightmarish scenario, as their house is surrounded on three sides by the separation wall and Israeli soldiers have cameras trained on their home 24 hours a day.
According to the family, occupation authorities have for years harassed them and attempted to force them from the home, setting up a military base on their roof and even offering them cash incentives to leave.
Christy Anastas was featured prominently alongside her family in a 2012 episode of the US news program 60 Minutes, in which she and other Palestinian Christians spoke of the suffering they experienced at the hands of the Israeli occupation.
The show was so controversial in the United States that then-Israeli ambassador Michael Oren even intervened and called the chairman of CBS News prior to the episode's release to complain, despite not having seen the show.
In the recently released video, however, Christy Anastas claims that she supports the construction of the wall and would have done it herself if she had the choice.
"If you ask me a simple question: 'If you were the prime minister of Israel, would you put that wall up?' My answer would be yes," she said, even though she claimed that the wall had taken mostly Christian land.
She also called Israel's 1967 victory that led to the occupation of the West Bank "God's hand," and claimed that during the Intifada, Palestinian militants forced Palestinian Christians to pay a "jizya tax," or an Islamic tax historically levied on religious minorities.
"People call them freedom fighters; I call them mafia," she said, claiming that they fired missiles from beside Christian homes "so that the response would come on Christian homes."
Anastas has been active
in pro-Israel work in the UK for at least the last year, and is one of the founders of the Emmaus Group
, which says it "seeks to build understanding and reconciliation between the Church and Israel in the face of mutual challenges and threats."
The controversy comes amid a wider effort on the part of Israeli authorities to co-opt Christian communities inside Israel and to strengthen support for Israel from Christian communities abroad.
Palestinian Christian activist groups like Kairos and conferences such as "Christ at the Checkpoint" have been organized to spread awareness among Christian communities internationally of the difficult situation Christians -- like other Palestinians -- endure as a result of the Israeli occupation.
Israeli authorities, however, have targeted the community, passing a law in February which defined them as "Christian ethnicity," instead of Arab, in what many Palestinian citizens of Israel claimed was an effort to divide them from other Palestinians.