Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

AS MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS FACE GENOCIDE, THEIR ONLY HOPE IS JEWISH ISRAEL

Stop Calling Assad a ‘Protector’ of Syrian Christians: Bradley Martin, The Christian Post, April 18, 2018— A prevalent misconception is that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a civilized “protector” of Syria’s Christians. In reality, Assad’s treatment of Christians in Syria is nothing short of tyrannical.

Turkey Turns On Its Christians: Anne-Christine Hoff, Middle East Forum, Jun 1, 2018—While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) depict them as a grave threat to the stability of the nation.

Assyrians, Jews and Israel: James Hasso, Israel National News, Jun 14, 2018— There is an Islamic phrase in Arabic, which accurately describes the treatment of Jews and Christians under Muslim rule: “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” The phrase also explains how the fates of Jews and Christians – particularly the Assyrians, a persecuted people in the Middle East – are intertwined.

Stop Taking Evangelical Support for Israel for Granted: Michael Freund, Jewish Press, Jun 25, 2018— In recent years, a certain mantra has gained traction among many pro-Israel activists according to which long-term US support for the Jewish state is guaranteed, thanks to the country’s growing number of Evangelical Christians. The sad fact is that there are already some very troubling signs that the younger generation of US Evangelicals may not share the same level of enthusiasm for Israel.

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump Meets a Weakened Vladimir Putin July 16: Caroline Glick, Breitbart, July 4, 2018

After Brussels, Trump will have few offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, The Globe and Mail, Jul 12, 2018

New Musical to Explore Spanish Jewish Family’s Struggle to Survive: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jul 13, 2018

Assyrians Find Common Language on Israel Trip: Seth J. Frantzman, AINA, Jun 3, 2018

 

 

STOP CALLING ASSAD A ‘PROTECTOR’ OF SYRIAN CHRISTIANS

Bradley Martin

The Christian Post, April 18, 2018

 

The recent airstrikes by the U.S., Great Britain and France against Syrian chemical weapons sites have led to growing concerns over the safety of Christians in Syria. A prevalent misconception is that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a civilized “protector” of Syria’s Christians. In reality, Assad’s treatment of Christians in Syria is nothing short of tyrannical.

Legally banned from becoming head of state, Syrian Christians are viewed as mere pawns in the Assad regime’s maintenance of power and have never been granted true freedom of religion. The regime is responsible for the destruction of over 60 percent of all the churches in Syria that were destroyed during the civil war, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

“Assad does not protect Christians. He is only using them for propaganda purposes,” says Shabnam Assadollahi, an award-winning human rights advocate of Iranian descent who was imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin prison at the age of 16. Ms. Assadollahi advocates for the emancipation of women and minority religious communities throughout the world.

“The genius who opened Syria to the Internet was a Christian Arab named Bassel Khartabil,” says Ms. Assadollahi. “For this tremendous work, he was rewarded by being arrested and tortured by the Assad regime. My sources say that he was held in detention for three years. We only recently learned of his execution, several years after it had taken place.”

Khartabil was not Assad’s only victim. Hundreds of Syrian Christians seeking freedom have been jailed, tortured and shot to death by Assad’s thugs. This includes the Syrian engineer and filmmaker Bassel Shehadeh, who had abandoned a Fulbright scholarship in the U.S. to document Assad’s military crackdown on the city of Homs. After Assad’s forces killed Shehadeh during a protest, his family was barred from holding a funeral mass and accepting condolences.

“The situation in Syria is very similar to Iran, where all religious minorities are threatened and forbidden to disagree with the regime,” says Ms. Assadollahi. “Even those who are living abroad cannot publicly fight against the regime, as their family members and relatives inside the country might get arrested.”

Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, it is estimated that between 300,000 and 900,000 Christians have left the country. Assad bears significant blame for helping the Islamic State terror group gain a strong foothold in Syria. He released the majority of the terror group’s leadership from his jails, having made a calculated decision early in the war to help ISIS gain momentum by going easy on it.

The U.S Treasury Department reports that Assad bought millions of dollars worth of oil from ISIS. At one point, oil sales to Assad accounted for 72 percent of ISIS’ income from oil revenues, according to documents uncovered in the Delta Force raid on ISIS oil minister Abu Sayyaf’s compound. The only “minority” in Syria that Assad truly cares for is his family, his cronies and himself. Assad is a bloodthirsty dictator and will continue to promote a civil war that is now seven years old and has led to the deaths of over 350,000 people in Syria.

In order to truly protect Syria’s endangered Christian population, we must first do away with the fallacy that Assad cares about their safety. Secular democracy must be promoted in Syria and the protection of human rights for all Syrians guaranteed.

Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research and Senior Fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center

Contents

   

TURKEY TURNS ON ITS CHRISTIANS

Anne Christine-Hoff

Middle East Forum, June 1, 2018

 

While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) depict them as a grave threat to the stability of the nation. With Erdoğan’s jihadist rhetoric often stereotyping Christian Turkish citizens as not real Turks but rather as Western stooges and collaborators, many Turks seem to be tilting toward an “eliminationist anti-Christian mentality,” to use historian Daniel Goldhagen’s term. Small wonder that the recent launch of an official online genealogy service allowing Turks to trace their ancestry has kindled a tidal xenophobic wave on the social media welcoming the fresh possibility to expose “Crypto-Armenians, Greeks, and Jews” mascarading as true Turks.

 

Persecution of Turkey’s Christian minority has long predated Erdoğan and the AKP. As it stood on the verge of extinction, the Ottoman Empire engaged in mass deportations and massacres that culminated in the Armenian genocide. The end of World War I saw the expulsion of more than a million Greeks, and the position of the dwindling Christian community only somewhat improved in Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s secularist republic. Yet while Kemalist Turkey paid lip service to the equality of its non-Muslim minorities, the AKP unabashedly excludes these groups from Turkey’s increasingly Islamist national ethos.

 

An ominous indication of what lay in store for the religious minorities was afforded as early as December 1998 when Erdoğan, then mayor of Istanbul and an opposition politician, announced that the “mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers,” quoting a line from a poem by the nineteenth-century nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp underscoring the Islamist foundation of Turkish identity. And while this recitation landed Erdoğan in prison for inciting religion-based hatred, once at the helm, he steadily realized this vision, systematically undoing Atatürk’s secularist legacy and Islamizing Turkey’s public space through such means as the government-operated Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), which pays the salaries of the country’s 110,000 imams and controls the content of their Friday sermons.

 

Things came to a head during the July 15, 2016 abortive coup when the regime ordered the imams to go to their mosques and urge the faithful to take to the streets to quash the attempted revolt. Not surprisingly, this Islamist-nationalist reassertion was accompanied by numerous Christophobic manifestations (in Ayyan Hirsi Ali’s words), notably attacks on churches throughout the country. In Malatya, for example, a gang chanting “Allahu Akbar” broke the glass panels of the front door of a Protestant church while, in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, rioters smashed the windows of the Santa Maria Catholic church. Witnesses said the attackers used hammers to break down the door of the church before Muslim neighbors drove them away. As Istanbul pastor Yüce Kabakçı lamented:

 

    The reality is that Turkey is neither a democracy nor a secular republic. There is no division between government affairs and religious affairs. There’s no doubt that the government uses the mosques to get its message across to its grassroots supporters. There is an atmosphere in Turkey right now that anyone who isn’t Sunni is a threat to the stability of the nation. Even the educated classes here don’t associate personally with Jews or Christians. It’s more than suspicion. It’s a case of let’s get rid of anyone who isn’t Sunni.

 

Anti-Christian incitement continued apace after the coup. In February 2017, Turkey’s Association of Protestant Churches released its annual “Rights Violation Report,” […]

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

             

ASSYRIANS, JEWS AND ISRAEL

James Hasso

Israel National News, Jun. 14, 2018

 

There is an Islamic phrase in Arabic, which accurately describes the treatment of Jews and Christians under Muslim rule: “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people” … “In other words,” writes professor Guy Millière, “First Muslims attack Jews; then when the Jews are gone, they attack Christians. It is what we have been seeing throughout the Middle East.”

 

The phrase also explains how the fates of Jews and Christians – particularly the Assyrians, a persecuted people in the Middle East – are intertwined. Assyrians have inhabited the Middle East since the beginning of recorded history. They are the descendants of the ancient civilizations of Assyria, Babylon, Sumer, and Mitanni. For 300 years, Assyrian kings ruled the largest empire the world had yet known. Ancient Assyrian culture contributed tremendously to human civilization—particularly in the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, geography, law, and literature, among others.

 

Today, however, Assyrians are stateless due to constant persecution, ethnic cleansing and the multiple genocides committed against them principally by Kurds, Iraq, Turkey and the Iranian regime. This has been done in the name of Islam and Arab, Kurdish, and Turkish nationalisms, making the intended destruction of Assyrians both an ethnic and religious one. According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), every fifty years there has been a massacre of Assyrians. The Assyrian homeland encompasses northern Iraq, northern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran. Only northern Iraq and Syria have substantial population centers left while the Assyrians that haven’t been massacred over the centuries are living largely in Western, Middle Eastern, and Russian diaspora.

 

Assyrian people are predominately Christian and speak Assyrian, a language rooted in Aramaic and similar to Hebrew. The author Ross Perlin explains the massive historic and cultural importance of the Assyrian language: “Nearly three millennia of continuous records exist for Aramaic; only Chinese, Hebrew, and Greek have an equally long written legacy. For many religions, Aramaic has had sacred or near-sacred status.”

 

The Assyrian and Jewish nations share a rich history mired in ups and downs. From conflict in the distant past, to the Jewish Assyrian Kingdom of Adiabene, to shared language and roots, to living in the same villages in the Assyrian homeland—the commonalities between the two are substantial, to say the least. Persecution and diaspora is the grimmer area the peoples share.

 

Professor Hannibal Travis writes in his comprehensive article ‘‘Native Christians Massacred − The Ottoman Genocide of the Assyrians during World War I,” that: “The Assyrians and other Ottoman Christians, like the Jews, had suffered from centuries of discrimination and official segregation; were charged with being agents of foreign powers and scapegoated for military defeats and looming threats in a rhetoric of ethnic elimination; and were physically and culturally exterminated in large numbers by means of massacres, rapes, expulsions, and attacks on homes and religious institutions carried out by genocidal state apparatuses and local irregular forces.”

 

Due to the similarities between the two peoples, Assyrians understand the Jewish situation better than most other populations, making it very hard for empathy to not exist from Assyrians for Jews and from Jews for Assyrians – when aware Assyrians are still alive and kicking. This is all in spite of the groups and governments—Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Kurdish groups—surrounding Assyrians today being overall highly anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, and propagating such stances against them. An example was demonstrated recently by Selahattin Demirtaş, the Kurdish leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey, an affiliate of the internationally recognized terrorist organization known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and also the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria.

 

Demirtaş, who is also HDP’s presidential candidate, joined the anti-Israel chorus in Turkey and tweeted: “I curse the boundless barbarism of the government of Israel. I wish mercy from Allah to the massacred sons and daughters of the oppressed Palestinian people and healing to their injured. A powerful voice and a joint stance is required to be able to stop the savagery of the Israeli government immediately.” In another Twitter post Demirtaş called on everyone in Turkey to organize a huge demonstration in Istanbul to protest and stop Israel’s “savagery.”

 

The pro-Kurdish HDP party also presented a proposal to Turkey’s parliament that demands all political, economic and military agreements with Israel, including the one that recognizes Jerusalem as its capital, be cancelled. Ironically, the proposal was rejected by votes of the ruling AKP party and the opposition MHP, the Nationalist Movement Party. Regardless of such statements and actions, both secular and Christian Assyrians continue their steadfast pro-Jewish and pro-Israel views, being a testament to the cultural elements Assyrians perceive woven between themselves and the Jewish people.

 

Mar Awa Royel, the first American-born Assyrian bishop in history, for example, has publicly conveyed his desire for friendship between Israel and the Assyrian people. “Israel has stability, the ear of the world community, and the ability to be a modern state in the Middle East. Israel has withstood the test of time,” he said, according to Bradley Martin, an expert on Jewish history.

 

“‘We are the most Semitic of the churches,’ Bishop Royel added… When asked what a modern state of Assyria would look like, Royel stated that he would like very much to see a free Assyrian homeland for his people to live in peace within its borders. Friendship between Israel and Assyria would be mutually beneficial, with both countries being strong allies. Whereas Israel would serve as a model for a successful Middle Eastern state for Assyria, Israel would gain a strong ally in an increasingly tumultuous region.”

 

Back in 2003, Israelis visited Adabashi in southeastern Turkey—a historical part of Assyria now populated by Kurds and Turks after the 1915 Assyrian Genocide—and had the following to say regarding their experiences with local Assyrians and one visiting from Germany—Balan: “The Assyrians like to compare themselves to the Jews—always persecuted, forever tolerated only barely by the local majority. During World War I, many of them were massacred, along with the Armenians.”

 

Prior to the Israelis leaving, Balan advised the following: “Don’t give in to the Palestinians,” he said. “The Land of Israel should not be redivided. I am a devout Christian—and the Bible says that the country should not be divided.” The Israelis concluded their trip stating: “Our visit to Adabashi was short. And then we move on to our next stop along the border with Iraq. But even as the world prepares for a possible war, Adabashi lingers in the mind, and it prompts me to make a suggestion for the Jewish tourist looking for new places to visit. “If the area ever opens up to tourism—as it was until only a few years ago—you should remember that you have friends in Adabashi, and they speak the language of your forefathers. “Actually, they are family.”

 

Contents

             

STOP TAKING EVANGELICAL SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL FOR GRANTED

Michael Freund

Jewish Press, Jun. 25, 2018

 

In recent years, a certain mantra has gained traction among many pro-Israel activists according to which long-term US support for the Jewish state is guaranteed, thanks to the country’s growing number of Evangelical Christians. Hence, the thinking goes, even if American Jewry’s size and influence is in decline, we can all rest easy in the knowledge that Evangelical support for Israel will continue to bolster ties between Washington and Jerusalem for decades to come.

 

As comforting as it might be to latch onto this view, the sad fact is that there are already some very troubling signs that the younger generation of US Evangelicals may not share the same level of enthusiasm for Israel, as do many of their elders. Indeed, the findings of a study released six months ago by the Nashville-based LifeWay Research bear this out. The survey, which was conducted among 2,002 respondents, found that while 76% of Evangelicals over 65 have a positive view of Israel, that number drops to 58% among those ages 18 to 34. In addition, a whopping 41% of younger Evangelicals said they do not have strong views regarding Israel.

 

As David Nekrutman, the executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, recently told me, “It is easy, but dangerously inaccurate, to assume that the children of Christian Zionists are building on the foundation of what their parents have learned. The fact is,” he notes, “that many Christian universities and colleges have not corrected Martin Luther’s antisemitism in their Bible, theology or missions departments.” As a result, the curricula of many Christian schools continue to instill their students with ideas that end up weakening the foundation of their support for the Jewish state. Moreover, Nekrutman states, millennial Evangelicals are “less literate of the Bible,” creating the possibility that “Christian support for Israel could dramatically dwindle.”

 

Unfortunately, certain pro-Palestinian groups have sought to take advantage of this by launching an insidious and determined effort to undermine Evangelical support for Zionism. Take, for example, the anti-Israel group “Christ at the Checkpoint,” which along with the Bethlehem Bible College, attempt to “address the injustices” in the Middle East, particularly in what they refer to as “the Palestinian lands under occupation.” Twisting the text of the Bible to the point that it becomes unrecognizable, such organizations spuriously assert that Scripture does not grant the people of Israel an exclusive claim to the Land of Israel, despite the fact that throughout the Torah and the Prophets that is exactly what the Creator promised.

 

They also hide under the cloak of protesting supposed discrimination by rejecting “theologies that lead to discrimination or privileges based on ethnicity,” which is a convoluted way of denouncing the Jewish people’s right to establish a Jewish state. In what is perhaps a sign of the group’s growing confidence, they are planning to hold their first national US conference in Oklahoma City in October.

 

While this may seem like an entirely intra-Christian matter, Israel cannot and must not ignore its possible political and diplomatic ramifications. Left unaddressed, it could have far-reaching and damaging consequences from the halls of Congress all the way to the White House. According to the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, 25.4% of Americans identify themselves as Evangelical Protestant Christians, making them the largest religious group in the United States. As their clout at the ballot box grows, it becomes all the more essential to take steps to cultivate the younger generation of Evangelical leaders, whether by facilitating visits to the Jewish state or launching public diplomacy campaigns targeting this segment of the Evangelical world.

 

There is no reason to be alarmed just yet, as overall Evangelical support for Israel is positive, passionate and pro-active. But the writing is on the wall, and if Israel wants to ensure a solid base of US Evangelical support for the rest of this century, it would do well to work with pro-Israel Christian groups to ensure that the younger generation of Evangelicals will continue to carry the torch.

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Trump Meets a Weakened Vladimir Putin July 16: Caroline Glick, Breitbart, July 4, 2018— When Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the green light to Russian aerial bombing of rebel-held positions in southwestern Syria two weeks ago, he knew he was asking for trouble. And he appears to be getting plenty of it.

After Brussels, Trump will have few offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, The Globe and Mail, Jul 12, 2018— Despite a most inauspicious start, this year’s NATO summit in Brussels turned out to be neither the train wreck that many feared nor an unalloyed success. All the members, it appears, can derive a degree of comfort from what essentially remains a difficult work in progress.

New Musical to Explore Spanish Jewish Family’s Struggle to Survive: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Jul 13, 2018— Premiering November 11 in Jerusalem, “HIDDEN” explores the conflicts of a young priest, who on the day of his rise to Inquisitor of Madrid in 1715, discovers that his Jewish heretical family is alive and about to be killed by the Inquisition.

Assyrians Find Common Language on Israel Trip: Seth J. Frantzman, AINA, Jun 3, 2018— A group of Assyrian Christians that went to Israel led by Juliana Taimoorazy, a senior fellow at the Philos Project and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, included young Christian leaders from the US and Canada, many of whose families have left Iraq over the last four decades to escape terrorism and per