Dhimmis No More Christians’ Trauma in the Middle East: Daniel Pipes, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017 — A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations.
How Roger Waters Stole Christmas: Bradley Martin, Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017— Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month.
Europe: The Islamization of Christmas: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017— This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country.
Condemning the Jewish State in Jesus' Name, Theologian Gary Burge is Making a Comeback: Dexter Van Zile, Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017 — For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer.
Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017
Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017
America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017
Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017
Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017
A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations. Its spread means that non-Muslim minorities have a grim future in Muslim-majority countries; and some may have no future there at all. I shall trace the origins of ethnic cleansing in the Middle East, note its impact especially on Christians, and consider responses to it.
To begin, let us look at the standing of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries before 1800. Muslims viewed non-Muslim in two categories: monotheists recognized by Islam as adhering to a valid faith (this being mostly Jews and Christians) and polytheists (especially Hindus) lacking that recognition. The former category, our topic here, are known as People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). Muslims were relatively tolerant of People of the Book – but only if they accepted becoming dhimmi (protected persons) who acknowledged the rule of Muslims and the superiority of Islam; in other words, if they accepted an inferior status. They had to pay special taxes (called jizya) could not serve in the military or the police or, more generally, exercise authority over Muslims. Sumptuary laws abounded; a Christian or Jew should walk or go by mule but not on a horse and should defer to a Muslim on the street. (Of course, actual practice differed from one country to another and from one era to another.)
The recognized place granted to religious minorities made Muslim-ruled countries quite unlike premodern Christendom. Christians under Muslim rule enjoyed better conditions than Muslims under Christian rule; in 1200 or so, one would much rather be a Christian living in Muslim Spain than a Muslim living in Christian Spain. Likewise for Jews: Mark R. Cohen observes that “the Jews of Islam, especially during the formative and classical centuries (up to the thirteenth century), experienced much less persecution than did the Jews of Christendom.” But we must not romanticize the dhimmi status. Yes, it offered a degree of tolerance, cohabitation, and deference – but these were premised on the assumption of Muslim superiority and non-Muslim inferiority. It could also be abused at whim by Muslims. No modern citizen would accept the disabilities that accompanied living as a dhimmi.
Indeed, the dhimmi status came crashing down in modern times, which is to say after 1800, as European powers (British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and others) overwhelmed nearly the whole Muslim world. Even those few countries – Yemen, Arabia, Turkey, Iran – that escaped direct European control felt Europe’s predominance. Christian imperialists flipped the dhimmi status on its head, favoring Christians and also Jews, both of whom showed greater willingness to accept the new rulers, learn their languages and skills, work for them, and serve as intermediaries to the Muslim-majority population. Naturally, majority Muslim populations resented this heightened status of Christians and Jews.
When European rule came to its inevitable end, Muslims on returning to power put the minorities roughly back in their place – and worse, for the dhimmi status had earlier been discarded and was not to be revived. Unsure of themselves, the new rulers generally looked darkly at Peoples of the Book, angry at their having serviced the imperialists and suspicious of their abiding connections to Europe (and in the Jewish case, new ones to Israel). One could say that the second-class dhimmi status now became a third- or fourth-class post-dhimmistatus. The break-up of the Ottoman Empire witnessed more persecution of Christians and Jews than perhaps ever before, starting with the Armenians of Turkey in the 1910s and culminating with recent Christian traumas in Iraq and Syria.
Before continuing with the Christian experience, a few side words on the Jewish one. Ancient Jewish communities disappeared as a result of the collapse of the dhimmi status and the creation of Israel in 1948. Jews decamped or were pushed especially out in the 20-year period after World War II. The small but lively Jewish community of Algeria offers perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the post-imperial changes. The Jews there had so connected themselves to French rule that the entire Jewish community fled the country along with the French rulers in July 1962.[i] In 1945, the Jewish population in Muslim-majority countries numbered about a million; today, it hovers between 30,000 and 40,000, nearly all of whom live in Iran, Turkey, in Morocco. No more than a handful live elsewhere: maybe 60 Jews in Egypt, 9 in Iraq, and even fewer in Afghanistan; these nearly defunct communities of the elderly will no longer exist within a few years.
As the expression goes, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” And now is the Christian turn. Christians are now recapitulating the Jewish exodus. From 1500 to 1900, Christians made up a consistent 15 percent of the Middle East’s population, according to David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson. In 1910, that number had dipped to 13.6 percent, according to Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo; and in 2010, Christians had been reduced to a meager 4.2 percent, or less than a third as large as a century earlier. The downward trend, of course, is steeply continuing. As the journalist Lee Smith puts it: “Being Christian in the Middle East has never been easy, but the wave of uprisings that has swept the region over the past year has made the situation for the region’s Christian minority almost unbearable.” The examples are alarming, and in many ways unprecedented in the long history of Muslim-Christian relations…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017
Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month. "I have to sadly accept the reality that I'm banging my head against the brick wall of the occupation," said Waters. It would appear all that banging has made Waters' head comfortably numb. Waters has been deemed an anti-Semite by the Anti-Defamation League who has performed with a giant pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David. It is doubtful that this show is meant to encourage peace on earth and goodwill towards men.
But Waters would do well to remember that performing a pre-Christmas show in Bethlehem is in extremely poor taste. In Bethlehem, along with the rest of the Palestinian-controlled territories, the Christian population is facing the very real threat of extinction. In the birthplace of Jesus, Christians once comprised more than 70 percent of the city's population. Today, Christians constitute less than 15 percent of the population. Under the Palestinian Authority, Christian holy sites are routinely desecrated and destroyed. The PA has shown contempt for Christian holy sites, as exemplified when Yasser Arafat turned the Greek Orthodox monastery near the Church of the Nativity into his own personal domicile during his visits to the city.
However, the most outrageous act of desecration in Bethlehem occurred in the Church of the Nativity itself. In 2002, an estimated 180 PA gunmen took over the church, holding the priests, nuns and monks hostage. The terrorists looted the church of its food and valuables. Catholic priests at the site said that some of the Bibles in the church were used as toilet paper, while many valuable sacramental objects were looted.
When the hostages were released and the terrorists left the church, it was found that altars, religious objects and furniture were fouled by urine, cigarette butts, and human excrement. Churches, monasteries and convents throughout the Palestinian-controlled territories are frequently desecrated and destroyed, most recently in 2016, when the ruins of an 1,800-year-old Byzantine church in Gaza City was bulldozed by Hamas in order to make room for a shopping mall.
Christians are subject to systemic discrimination by both the PA and Hamas. This is to be expected, since Islam is the official religion of both governments. As a result, Christians have been relegated to dhimmi status, a somewhat tolerated but inferior class. The PA's judicial system does not ensure the equal protection of Christians, with injustices such as forced conversions to Islam, physical violence, and even murder. Palestinian Muslims are allowed to seize Christian property with impunity. Due to this ethnic cleansing, the Christian population in the Palestinian-controlled territories dropped from 15 percent of the population in 1950 to less than 1.3 percent today.
While Christians under Palestinian rule literally have their backs to the wall, the situation in Israel is quite the opposite. Since the Jewish State declared independence in 1948, the Christian population has enjoyed a five-fold increase, to an estimated 158,000 citizens. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Christian Arabs fare the best in terms of education when compared to any other religious group in Israel. Christians are to be found in every facet of Israeli civil and political life, exercising considerable influence in Israeli society that is disproportionate to their minority status. Salim Joubran, a Maronite Christian and Israeli Supreme Court judge, was in charge of overseeing Israel's 2015 legislative election. While Joubran retired earlier this year, another Israeli Arab Christian (George Karra) presideson Israel's Supreme Court.
Though Waters is apparently oblivious to the bleak reality facing Palestinian Christians, he continues to engage in anti-Semitism. Rather than raise awareness and condemn the ethnic cleansing of Christians under Palestinian rule, Waters prefers to bash Israel every chance he gets. Rock 'n' roll, at its best, is supposed to be about tolerance, peace and love. Does Waters truly want to commemorate this Christmas with even more bigotry and indifference to the suffering of others?
Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017
This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country. Most of the conflicts have been generated by Europe's multicultural political and religious elites, who are bending over backwards to secularize Christmas, ostensibly to ensure that Muslims will not be offended by the Christian festival. Many traditional Christmas markets have been renamed — Amsterdam Winter Parade, Brussels Winter Pleasures, Kreuzberger Wintermarkt, London Winterville, Munich Winter Festival — to project a multicultural veneer of secular tolerance.
More troubling are the growing efforts to Islamize Christmas. The re-theologizing of Christmas is based on the false premise that the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus (Isa) of the Koran. This religious fusion, sometimes referred to as "Chrislam," is gaining ground in a West that has become biblically illiterate. In Britain, for instance, the All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames recently held a joint birthday celebration for Jesus and Mohammed. The "Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration" on December 3 was aimed at "marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus." The hour-long service included time for Islamic prayer and was followed by the cutting of a birthday cake.
The prominent Christian blog "Archbishop Cranmer" rebuked the church for its lack of discernment: "Note how this event is 'Marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed,' but not looking forward to the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mohammed gets his prophethood, while Jesus gets neither his prophethood nor his priesthood; neither his kingship nor his messiahship. It's the exalted Prophet Mohammed along with plain old Jesus, because to have added any of his claims to divinity would, of course, have alienated many Muslims (if they hadn't already been alienated by the haram [forbidden by Islam] celebration), which wouldn't have been very interfaith or sensitively missional, would it?"
The blog added that exalting Mohammed in churches effectively proclaims that Mohammed is greater than Jesus: "Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet 'Prophet,' they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith."
Previously, a passage from the Koran denying that Jesus is the Son of God was read during a service at a Scottish Episcopal Church in Glasgow on Epiphany, a festival commemorating the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the Queen's chaplains, Gavin Ashenden, referred to the Koran reading as "blasphemy." He added that "there are other and considerably better ways to build 'bridges of understanding'" with Muslims.
In London, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, a parliamentary group composed of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, issued a report, "A Very Merry Muslim Christmas," aimed at drawing attention to the "humanity" of Muslims during Christmas. The report states: "Too often, Muslim charities come to our attention because of negative media coverage… What we hear even less about is the 'Muslim Merry Christmas.' The soup kitchens, the food banks, the Christmas dinners, the New Year clean-up — work Muslim charities will be busy doing during the Christmas period."
In Scotland, the regional government was accused of "undermining" Britain's Christian heritage by promoting "winter festivals" for ethnic minorities while ignoring Christmas. Scotland's International Development Minister, Alasdair Allan, pledged nearly £400,000 ($535,000) to fund 23 events during the winter months. He described them as "key dates in our national calendar" and said the "exciting and diverse" program would help Scots "celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months." None of the events, however, has any connection to Christmas. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said:
"It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government has chosen not to recognize the religious reality of Christmas in its Winter Festival events. Over half of the population stated their religion as Christian in the last census. Catholics, and other Christians, may quite rightly wonder why this publicly-funded Festival does not include any events designed to help Scots celebrate the birth of Christ which is undoubtedly the most significant celebration in the winter months." Gordon Macdonald, of Christian charity CARE, added: "It is part of the general secularization that has been taking place within the Scottish Government for a number of years where our Christian heritage and value system has been undermined as a direct result of government policy."
In Denmark, a primary school in Graested cancelled a traditional church service marking the beginning of Christmas in order not to offend Muslim pupils. Some parents accused the school of having double-standards: it recently held an event called "Syria Week" in which children immersed themselves in Middle Eastern culture. Ignoring parents, the school board sided with the school: "The board backs the school's decision to create new traditions [emphasis added] that involve children and young people." Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who attended the school as a child, said the decision should be reversed. Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby added: "Danish primary schools have a duty to spread education — and teaching the cultural values and knowledge connected to Christmas is an essential part of that."…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Dexter Van Zile
Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017
For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer. This past Easter, Sizer retired. His long career in the pulpit was marred by a number of unforced errors, such as promoting the notion that Israel was responsible for 9/11 and participating in a Holocaust-denial conference organized by, of all countries, Iran. After these debacles, his superiors in the Anglican Church finally told him to stop talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict altogether. They had had enough.
To add insult to injury, the folks at InterVarsity Press in both the United Kingdom and the United States decided that they too had enough and stopped printing his books which promoted the notion that God had abandoned the Jewish people and therefore no longer had any right to live in the Holy Land. For his Anglican superiors, Sizer’s retirement must have been a relief. For a while it looked like Burge, who made similar arguments about the illegitimacy of Jewish claims to the land in his notoriously counter-factual book, Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians, might suffer a similar fate to Sizer.
Instead, Burge, who retired from Wheaton College, an Evangelical school in Illinois in 2016, is enjoying a boomlet of sorts. Recent thrust for his reignited star include an article in The Atlantic and an appearance on National Public Radio. Burge, now teaching at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was given a platform by these outlets to articulate his response to the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s December 6, 2017 acknowledgement that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy to the Holy City.
Predictably enough, Burge expressed concerns about the action, telling folks that not every Evangelical supports Trump’s decision and that the Evangelicals who do are making a mistake if they root their support in their reading of the Bible. In The Atlantic article, Burge argues that Jews who live in Israel really have no connection to the Israelites in the Bible and therefore, really don’t have any claim to the land of Israel. Moreover, he says, conservative Evangelicals who support Israel may not understand that the modern state of Israel isn’t anything like biblical Israel. After all, he asserts, “[W]hen you build a bridge from biblical Israel to modern Israel, there is an enormous gap in history and theology.”
These are interesting arguments for an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA to be making. Given the enormous gap of history and theology between Christ’s declaration that Peter was the rock upon which he would build his church and the founding of the PCUSA in 1983, one could just as easily argue that his denomination’s claim to salvation is as broken and attenuated as Burge says the Jewish claim is to Jerusalem.
A lot has happened over the past 2,000 years. But God is free and sovereign. If he can find a way to grant salvation to Presbyterians despite what has happened in the realm of Christianity over the past 2,000 years, maybe he can also use the modern secular state of Israel to demonstrate the firmness of His Promises to Jews in the 21st Century. If he can extend his promise of salvation to Christians in spite of all that has happened since the anointing of St. Peter as the leader of his church 2,000 years ago, maybe he still has a place in his heart for the Jews…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017—"Soon on your holidays," a sentence that would typically befit the celebrations of the Christmas festivities, was turned into a terrifying threat posted recently on an ISIS-related network vowing to attack major European cities during the Christmas holidays.
Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017 —President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was met with enthusiasm by most American Jews. Christian reaction to the announcement, however, has been an eye-opener, and might have greater impact upon future Jewish-Christian relations than the President's announcement will ultimately have on the politics of the Middle East.
America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017—Newsmax has recently published its 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America list, ranking pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers “from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.” Breaking Israel News wondered: How many of these prominent Christians use their influence to support Israel through investment and advocacy? Below, find BIN’s exclusive list of the top 20 pro-Israel Christians in America.
Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017—Iran’s foreign minister encountered an angry response on Sunday when he took to Twitter on Christmas Eve to wish a “happy and peaceful Christmas to all.” Citing a verse from the Quran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – a key architect, with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – declared: “May Christ’s universal message of peace be embraced in the coming year.”