Exploiting Christian Persecution to Demonize Israel
What's worse than the silence of Western Christians concerning the Muslim persecution of their coreligionists in the Islamic world? Answer: Cynically exploiting that persecution for a political agenda -- in the case of a recent Daily Beast article, to excoriate the state of Israel and its supporters.
Titled "Why Won't the West Defend Middle Eastern Christians?" and written by Diarmaid MacCulloch, a fellow of St. Cross College, the article touches on the persecution of Christians, but primarily as a springboard to attack American Christian support for Israel. Consider the following excerpt:
... one of the silences which I find most frustrating is precisely the lack of noise from Western Christians about the fate of ancient Christianities in the Middle East. At the heart of the problems in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine[.]
Yes, Western silence vis-à-vis the plight of Mideast Christians is as real as it is frustrating, but exactly how is MacCulloch able to jump to the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is "the heart" of the problem?
What about the well-documented Islamic doctrines that codify the suppression and persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims?
What about the documented fact that Christians under Islam had been persecuted for more than 1,300 years before the existence of the state of Israel, in complete accordance with said doctrines?
What about the fact that Christians are currently being persecuted in every corner of the Islamic world, as documented in my monthly "Muslim Persecution of Christians" series -- including diverse countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and every corner of Africa -- and not just the Middle East?
Surely this -- and not the tiny and relatively new state of Israel -- is the true "heart of the problem."
Of course, to thinkers like MacCulloch, all the above points concerning Islamic hostility to Christians are not open to consideration, for they portray Islam in a negative light and so must be false (see Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians for abundant documentation otherwise).
Instead, MacCulloch offers politically correct boilerplate statements, such as "Christians are scapegoated for their faith by an extremist militant minority of Muslims, who betray their own religion by intolerance, and who make other Muslims ashamed of what is happening."
Indeed, it is MacCulloch who betrays himself by characterizing Islam as a "tolerant" faith when any moderately objective reading of doctrine and history -- made manifest in daily headlines -- invariably proves the reverse.
Likewise, instead of delving into and exposing the true "heart of the problem," MacCulloch critiques Protestant eschatology and U.S. support for Israel, the consequences of which "have been particularly dire for the traditional Christianities of the Middle East."
It would have been more useful and sincere if he had addressed more glaring questions. For example:
- When the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in Egypt torched some 80 Christian churches and murdered Christians, including children -- not to mention all the other anti-Christian atrocities they had committed before and have committed since -- was that because of Israel or something more personal?
- When Islamic rebels in Syria terrorize Christians, behead their priests and pastors, break Christian crosses, and smash icons -- all while shouting Islamic slogans -- is that because of Israel or something more innate?
- When Muslims in Indonesia illegally close off churches, forcing Christians to celebrate Christmas in the streets -- only to have cow dung and urine hurled at them -- is that because of Israel, or something more ingrained?
- When the Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram destroys hundreds of churches and slaughters thousands of Christians, and when, on the other side of Africa, the Somali Islamic group Al-Shabaab terrorizes and beheads converts to Christianity -- is that because of Israel or something more doctrinal?
- Indeed, when Christian minorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip are abducted and forced to convert to Islam, is that because of Israel or the elephant in the room?
MacCulloch is correct about one thing: many Muslims do hate Israel. But that hate, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, is actually a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason it is much more viral for Israel is because the Jewish state is in a unique position of authority over Muslims, as opposed to vulnerable Christian minorities (as fully explained in this article).
The theme of silence permeates MacCulloch's Daily Beast article -- specifically, that Western Christians are silent concerning the plight of their persecuted brethren. This silence is true and troubling -- and many mainstream American Protestant denominations are certainly guilty of it.
However, instead of exploiting the sufferings of Christian minorities simply to scapegoat Israel -- ironically a nation that is in an existential struggle against the very same ideology and forces that persecute Christians -- it may have been better for MacCulloch himself to be silent.
Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians.