Israel no friend of Arab Christians

By: Dr. Aref Assaf

So is it only Islamic extremists who were the source of all the suffering for Middle Eastern Christians? Half-truth, I am afraid. For 99 percent of Palestinian Christians, the cause of their ill fate has been the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the rest of Palestine in 1967.

Israel does not distinguish between a Muslim and a Christian Arab. Thousands of Arab Christians were expelled from their homeland in Palestine in 1948, and as of today, they remain stateless refugees without legal or moral recourse.

If Israel is such a benevolent, moral and God-given entity, let’s see them allow Arab Christians to return to their homes in Lydde, Nazareth, and Jaffa. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was recently booed off the stage when he demanded that Arab Christians equate their love for the Jews with love for Israel. The event, sponsored by the group In Defense of Christians, was billed as a gathering of Middle Eastern Christian leaders. These leaders recalled a glorious two millennia of coexistence and religious harmony with their Muslim compatriots.

Extremism in the Middle East was not a choice but a deadly outcome imposed upon its inhabitants by the West’s colonial ambitions. Yes, there are plenty of Islamic extremists, and the great majority of Muslims have denounced them. Lest we forget, their primary victims have been fellow Muslims — not Christians or Jews.

Defeat extremism by joining hands with Muslims, not castigating them for the crimes of others who share their faith. Arab Christians are an integral part of the Arab nation and its culture.

Aref Assaf is President of American Arab Forum based in Paterson.