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Op-Ed: If you celebrate Easter, don’t be a hypocrite, stand with of IsraelLebanese-Canadian writer Fred Maroun explains why Christians should stand with Israel not just in their words but also in their actions: “There is only one country in the Middle East where the Christian population is not only growing but where Christians have full rights to practice their religion.”
If you are a Christian and you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, think of the place where Jesus lived, the Middle East, and the situation of Christians there today.
In Lebanon, where Christians once were the vast majority of the population, Christians are chased away by violence and the growing influence of Islamic extremism. As reported by Jonathan Adelman, in Lebanon, “the Christian population has plunged in 100 years from 78% to 34%.”
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Christian Today reported that the Christian population of Gulf States is growing but “converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death in both countries [Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates] and evangelism is prohibited. In Saudi Arabia any public observance of non-Muslim faiths is illegal and Saudi Christians are forced to worship in private. … Hardly any of the new Christians immigrants are citizens and many are low-skilled workers, meaning that their stay is likely to be temporary.”
In Iraq and Syria, as reported by Adelman, “Christians face enslavement, torture, massacres and crucifixion at the hands of ISIS.” Even in Egyp,t which is under the iron rule of the military, ISIS is killing Christians.
In summary, as Adelman wrote, “The Christian population, through low birth rate and massive emigration, has dropped from 20% of the Middle East in 1900 to 4% today.”
There is only one country in the Middle East where the Christian population is not only growing but where Christians have full rights to practice their religion as they see fit and to participate in the country’s democratic process as citizens. That place is of course Israel.
In addition to protecting its Christians, Israel also protects sacred Christian sites under its control. While in some Arab countries churches are burned down, one of Israel’s Basic Laws is the “Protection of Holy Places Law,” which states that “whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.”
But while Israel protects Christians, not many Christians are standing with Israel.
Throughout the Christian West, Israel is demonized. Universities hold yearly Israel demonization events called “Israel Apartheid Week,” and Jews are intimidated every day. Israel is accused of the worst crimes when the reality is that Israel has been forced, since it obtained its independence, to defend itself in order to survive and it does so using the most ethical means imaginable.
Christians know that the Middle East and much of the Muslim world is increasingly dominated by Muslim fanatics. They know that Muslim-inspired terrorism is growing and knocking at their own doors. They know that Israel is located in a very dangerous neighborhood. Yet when it comes to judging the actions of Israel, many, if not most Christians, suddenly forget all this context and condemn Israel using standards that are even higher than the standards they apply to Western countries that do not face nearly the same level of challenges.
Israel is a tiny country and the only nation of the Jews who are tiny minorities everywhere they live except in Israel. If Christians have a conscience, let alone a Christian conscience, they must stand with Israel and they must do so loudly and openly. More importantly, Christians must support Israel not only in words, which Western politicians are fond of doing, but also in deed.
If you are a Christian, don’t be a hypocrite. When you celebrate Easter this year, have Israel on your mind and in your heart and then go out and support Israel in your actions.