How Haaretz Ruined My Christmas Eve
It’s Christmas Eve and here I am writing a piece for The Algemeiner.
No, it’s not Dovid Efune’s fault.
It’s the fault of Barak Ravid, a writer at Haaretz. It’s his fault I’m writing while away on my vacation. He wrote a piece for Haaretz that begged for a quick reply.
I can’t blame Barak Ravid entirely. It’s my fault for checking my email. A few minutes ago I had just come back from walking the dog and was watching my wife and youngest daughter bake cookies when I made the mistake of checking my email.
I received a message from a colleague alerting me to Ravid’s piece in Haaretz condemning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for radicalizing “his traditional Christmas greeting into an attack on Muslims in Arab countries.”
Whoah, that’s a serious charge.
Apparently, in his Christmas greeting, Netanyahu made the unforgivable sin of stating the obvious: That Christian populations are shrinking and are in danger in the Middle East. Netanyahu then added salt to the wound and reminded his listeners that Christians are safe in Israel.
According to Ravid, “Netanyahu did not specify in his greeting who is threatening to annihilate the Christians, but it’s clear from the wording that he means the Muslims.”
Earth to Barak Ravid: Netanyahu didn’t have to say who was threatening the annihilation of the Christians because we already know.
Unless they’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, most Christians know that Muslim extremists throughout the Middle East have been attacking Christians on a regular basis for the past few years. Their churches have been bombed. Their pastors kidnapped, held for ransom and killed.
And moderate Muslims and secularists in the region do not have the power necessary to stop the attacks on their Christian neighbors. They can’t even defend themselves.
In 2003, there were more than 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Now there are less than 500,000 living in that country. Why? Because Muslims have been attacking them on a regular basis since the ouster of Saddam Hussein!
Many of the Christians who fled Iraq went to Syria because it was safer. And guess what? Many of them are now heading back to Iraq to avoid being murdered by the Islamist rebels who are fighting against the Assad regime.
And with the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Christians are under siege in Egypt. More than 100,000 have left the country since the ouster of President Mubarak in 2011.
Barak Ravid ignores all of this and writes that “Netanyahu did not go so far as to use the Christian holy figures for political purposes,” but then some how tries to blame Netanyahu for the decision of Israeli diplomats in Ireland to post a now-deleted entry on the Embassy’s Facebook page stating that the Holy Family would probably be lynched by Palestinians if they had tried to get into Bethlehem today.
It was a bit over the top. But Christians are being lynched and attacked on a regular basis in Muslim-majority countries throughout the world. They get little support from the secular human rights community and liberal Christian peacemakers in North America and Europe who have portrayed Israel as the singular threat to human rights and peace in the Middle East.
As a result of this obsession with Israel, time, energy and money that could be used to promote awareness of the plight of Christians suffering from Islamist oppression is wasted on portraying Palestinians as the quintessential victims of oppression in the Middle East.
They aren’t. Not by a long shot.
People are screaming pretty loud in a lot of places in the Middle East, but their screams are not heard in the West because peace and human rights activists allow Palestinian leaders to hog the microphone. Every Christmas we see pictures of the Jesus and Mary blocked from getting into Bethlehem by the security barrier. (Maybe that’s where the Israeli diplomats in Ireland got their inspiration.)
Yesterday, (Dec. 23) I watched a webcast of a Bethlehem Prayer Service that was organized in part by the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Not one word of solace or comfort was offered on behalf of Christians living under the threat of Islamist violence in Syria, where Christians are starving to death or Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood is achieving a fascist takeover.
In light of this violence, Barak Ravid wants to take Netanyahu to task for stating that Christians are safer in Israel than they are elsewhere in the Middle East. Ravid says this is “radicalizing” a Christmas greeting.
No it isn’t.
It’s simply stating the obvious.
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). His opinions are his own.