Who would have thunk it? Israel has taken on the mantle of champion of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, rather like the western powers did in the 19th century. In his speech to the UN (reproduced as an op-ed in the Wall St Journal) ambassador Ron Prosor puts the persecution of Christians in the context of the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population of the region. (With thanks: Eliyahu)
An expert comments on Ron Prosor's UN speech on Fox News. The problem, she says, is that western states divorce politics and human rights in their dealings with the main offenders.
This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover
holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a
series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites,
allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past
century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept
across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian
The persecution is especially virulent today.
Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but
some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of
them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region,
enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the
turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's
population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%.
and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities
that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.
the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who
refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by
Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood
members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once
obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately
target Christian worshippers.
This past Christmas, 26 people were killed
when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in
Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.
are losing their lives, liberties, businesses and their houses of
worship across the Middle East. It is little wonder that native
Christians have sought refuge in neighboring countries—yet in many cases
they find themselves equally unwelcome.
Over the past 10 years, nearly
two-thirds of Iraq's 1.5 million Christians have been driven from their
homes. Many settled in Syria before once again becoming victims of
unrelenting persecution. Syria's Christian population has dropped from
30% in the 1920s to less than 10% today.
n January, a report by the
nondenominational Christian nonprofit organization Open Doors documented
the 10 most oppressive countries for Christians; nine were
Muslim-majority states noted for Islamic extremism, and the 10th was North Korea.
These tyrannical regimes uphold archaic blasphemy and
defamation-of-religion laws under the guise of protecting religious
expression. In truth, these measures amount to systematic repression of
Last year in Saudi
Arabia, two men were prosecuted for the "crime" of converting a woman to
Christianity and helping her flee the Islamic kingdom. According to the
Saudi Gazette, one of the men, a Lebanese, was sentenced to six years
in prison and 300 lashes, and the other man, a Saudi, was sentenced to
two years and 200 lashes. Those are relatively mild sentences in Saudi
Arabia, where conversion to another religion is punishable by death.
"justice system" in other Islamic nations is not particularly just for
Arab citizens, but it is uniquely oppressive for Christians. Radical
Islamists in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa are using an ancient law
called the "dhimmi pact" to extort local Christians. The community is
faced with a grim choice: pay a tax and submit to a list of religious
restrictions or "face the sword."
Islamic Republic of Iran, expressions of political dissent are regarded
as acts of blasphemy. Last summer, three Iranian Christians caught
selling Bibles were found guilty of "crimes against state security" and
sentenced to 10 years in prison. They were relatively lucky. The regime
has executed dozens of people for the so-called crimes of "waging war
against God" and "spreading corruption on Earth."
scene unfolding in the Middle East is ominously familiar.
At the end of
World War II, almost one million Jews lived in Arab lands. The creation
of Israel in 1948 precipitated an invasion of five Arab armies. When
they were unable to annihilate the newborn state militarily, Arab
leaders launched a campaign of terror and expulsion that decimated their
ancient Jewish communities. They succeeded in purging 800,000 Jews from
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