I’m in daily contact with Arabic-speaking Christians from the Middle East, and know many who echo the Islamic line about the situation there, blaming Israel for all the problems of the region. This stems in many cases from ingrained cultural attitudes: the Arab nationalist project was largely initiated by Christian Arabs in order to provide a secular framework that would be an alternative to the dhimma — a framework that would allow them the status of equal citizens. But since they were at best a small minority within an Islamic sea, this resulted in their being wholly subsumed within the larger Arab community, whose general outlook remained Islamic in orientation.
It is long past time for a new paradigm for Christians of the Middle East and of Middle Eastern extraction — and I speak as one of them. The problems that Christians face in the Middle East are not due to Israel, where they can live in peace as full citizens, but to Islam and Muslims. In this article, nothing is said about Israel at all, but Sako “said topics of top priority for a potential synod would include the problem of Christians fleeing the Middle East, paying Christian witness in a predominantly Muslim world, relations with Muslims, the role of Christians in civil and political life, lack of full religious freedom and Christians’ prospects for the future.” All of that has to do with Islam and the institutionalized discrimination of dhimmitude that, although the dhimma is not in full force, remains a cultural hangover in Middle Eastern nations.
Note also the the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham said in 2006 that “after 11 September, there is a plot to eliminate all the Christian minorities from the Arabic world.” That plot is an Islamic jihadist plot, not an Israeli Zionist one.
The pioneering historian Bat Ye’or had the great insight: Jews and Christians both face subjugation as dhimmis under Islamic Sharia, and must resist it together. It has always been part of the Sharia program to divide the dhimmis from one another and sow mutual distrust and hatred among them, precisely so that they would not unite against their oppressors.
The targets of jihad and dhimmitude should not allow themselves to be thus manipulated. For Arabic-speaking Christians to aid and enable Islamic jihadists in this program is suicidally self-defeating. They and all Middle Eastern Christians need to realize that what is driving Christians out of the Middle East is Islamic jihad and Islamic supremacism, and they need to stand with Israel against it. It may already be too late, since the number of Christians in the Middle East has dwindled so drastically, but at least it should be recognized that when Middle Eastern Christians support the jihad against Israel, they are supporting the very force that is making for their cultural destruction and disappearance from the region.
“Iraqi Bishops Seek Synod to Address Exodus of Christians From Mideast,” by Carol Glatz for Catholic News Service via AINA, January 24 (thanks to James):
VATICAN CITY — Iraqi Catholic bishops called on Pope Benedict XVI to convene a synod to address the mass exodus of Christians from the Middle East and the lack of full religious freedom there.
They also expressed hope that the new U.S. administration under President Barack Obama would be able to bring peace and security to Iraq before withdrawing U.S.-led troops.
Good luck with that.
The bishops, in Rome for their “ad limina” visits to report on the status of their dioceses, spoke during a Jan. 22 press conference at Vatican Radio.
Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said a general synod dedicated to the challenges Christians face in the Middle East would help the church forge a clear plan of action for the present and future. […]
“If there is no clear position or vision then Christians will no longer be present in the Middle East. Slowly they will leave this land that we call blessed but is now damned,” Archbishop Sako said.
He said topics of top priority for a potential synod would include the problem of Christians fleeing the Middle East, paying Christian witness in a predominantly Muslim world, relations with Muslims, the role of Christians in civil and political life, lack of full religious freedom and Christians’ prospects for the future. […]