This is a remarkable article for its glaring omission. Steven B. Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, compares the persecution of Christians to Kristallnacht, but everyone knew who perpetrated Kristallnacht, and why they did it. Nasatir, I am sure, knows full well who is persecuting Christians today, and he may even know why despite ubiquitous attempts to cover up the reasons, but in his entire piece he fastidiously avoids mentioning who is behind the persecution. This sort of thing can be expected from the egregiously compromised Washington Post, but it does raise a question: how does Steven B. Nasatir, and the WaPo for that matter, propose to combat this persecution if we are not even allowed to name the persecutors? How can we combat an enemy we cannot even name?
“Anti-Christian terror is everyone’s concern,” by Steven B. Nasatir in the Washington Post, October 24 (thanks to Filip):
The persecution of any religious minority anywhere by anyone is an evil injustice. It requires all persons of conscience to speak out and, when possible, take action.
The upcoming 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht makes this an auspicious time to raise awareness about the contemporary violence targeting religious minorities and their places of worship. Of particular concern are attacks against Christian minorities that have occurred with alarming frequency from Syria to Egypt, from Iraq to Pakistan, and from Kenya to Sudan.
Hmmm. What do all those have in common? Kenya is the only one that isn’t a majority-Muslim state, but the only people terrorizing Christians in Kenya are, yet again, Islamic jihadists.
But Nasatir refers only to “contemporary violence targeting religious minorities and their places of worship” — as if “contemporary violence” had a mind and will of its own, and it just decided to start persecuting Christians.
November 9 marks 75 years since the pogrom against Jews committed by mobs throughout the Nazi Reich. Often called Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass,” when rioters killed or injured hundreds of Jews; burned over 1,000 synagogues; destroyed 7,000 Jewish-owned shops and businesses; vandalized cemeteries and schools, and; [sic] sent 30,000 Jews to German concentration camps. It marked a turning point in the escalating campaign of persecution culminating in the Holocaust.
These events, seared into Jewish collective memory, make us doubly aware””and duty bound””to raise our voices when the deadly brew of religious bigotry and wanton violence are mixed.
Today in Syria, a once thriving Christian population””a community nearly as ancient as that country”s once great Jewish community””has been depopulated by 25 percent, according an estimate the Patriarch Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch [“Patriarch Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch”? WaPo needs a copy editor — RS] Gregorios III Laham shared with the BBC.
In September, The Associated Press reported that Syrian Christians in Maaloula””a community dating to the birth of Christianity and that still speaks Aramaic””were driven out or forcibly converted to Islam by rebels aligned with al-Qaeda.
This, along with a glancing mention of the Taliban below, is as close as Nasatir gets to identifying the persecutors. But the ill-informed reader might have no idea that the persecution of Christians in every other place he mentions is also perpetrated by Islamic supremacists and jihadists. And he certainly doesn’t say so.
“It is chaos, it is violence, it is blood, it is death. Life has been paralyzed. We have lost everything,” said Archbishop Theophile Georges Kassab of Homs.
In Egypt, some supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi last summer unleashed their rage against that nation’s Christians, a historic community constituting 20 percent of the country”s population. Mobs burned dozens of Christian schools, convents, monasteries, institutions, and churches of any, and all Christian denominations. And just days ago, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside a Coptic Christian church during a wedding, murdering four, including an 8-year-old girl.
Note that Nasatir doesn’t mention that “some supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi” are part of a group called “the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“It never happened before in history that such a big number of churches were attacked on one day,” Bishop Thomas, a Coptic Orthodox bishop in Assiut told Al Jazeera. “We normally used to have attacks once a month or so.”
“We normally used to have attacks once a month or so.”
As Kristallnacht teaches, the burning of houses of worship can be a red alert that worse is yet to come. September saw the horrific Taliban bombing of Anglican worshippers in Pakistan, which took 85 lives, and, according to accounts shared by witnesses, the targeting for murder of Kenyan Christians””deliberately separated from others in a chilling reminder of Nazi “selections–”by al Shabaab terrorists in a Nairobi shopping mall.
This is the worst obfuscation of all: “the targeting for murder of Kenyan Christians””deliberately separated from others.” Which others? Why did Nasatir so carefully avoid noting that the Kenyan Christians were separated from Muslims, and that the Muslims were spared? What could possibly be the positive result of covering for the murderers in this way?
Attacks like these have contributed to a decline in the Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa from 9.5 percent to 3.8 percent of the total population from 1910 to 2010, according to a Pew Forum report on Global Christianity.
Tellingly, Israel is the only Middle East country where the Christian population has grown in the last half century, from 34,000 to 158,000, in large measure, according to many observers, because of the religious freedoms enjoyed there.
As a Jew, I”m proud of the status of religious minorities in the Jewish state. As an American, I”m especially proud to live in a society where people of different faiths (and no faith) share the values of tolerance and coexistence. Despite isolated though sometimes deadly instances of religiously-inspired terror during the past few decades, ours is a nation where no Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or person of any other faith must live in fear because of who they are.
It is time to sound the alarm about the religious persecutions of Christians and others. Let us raise our voices, and call on our elected representatives to take action. People of all faiths should support passage of H.R.301, legislation that would direct our President to appoint a State Department Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.
The bill will facilitate U.S government responses to human rights violations, combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeting religious minorities, and help address the needs of religious minorities.
Further, we must demand that international institutions designed to protect human rights, especially the United Nations, must actually do so without prejudice.
For people of conscience, for people of all faiths, now is not the time to be silent.
And yet you are, Mr. Nasatir. But I understand: circling all around the ugly truth in this way may have been the only way he could get the WaPo to publish his piece.