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November 6, 2013 10:22 am

Daily Beast Exploits Christian Persecution to Demonize Israel

avatar by Raymond Ibrahim

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A burning church in Egypt. Photo: IPT News.

What’s worse than the silence of Western Christians concerning the Muslim persecution of their coreligionists in the Islamic world? Answer: Cynically exploiting that persecution for a political agenda—in the case of a recent Daily Beast article, to excoriate the state of Israel and its supporters.

Titled “Why Won’t the West Defend Middle Eastern Christians?“ and written by Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, the article touches on the persecution of Christians, but primarily as a springboard to attack American Christian support for Israel. Consider the following excerpt:

… one of the silences which I find most frustrating is precisely the lack of noise from Western Christians about the fate of ancient Christianities in the Middle East. At the heart of the problems in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine…

Yes, Western silence vis-à-vis the plight of Mideast Christians is as real as it is frustrating, but exactly how is MacCulloch able to jump to the conclusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is “the heart” of the problem?

What about the well-documented Islamic doctrines that codify the suppression and persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims?

What about the documented fact that Christians under Islam have been persecuted for more than 1,300 years before the existence of the state of Israel, in complete accordance to said doctrines?

What about the fact that Christians are currently being persecuted in every corner of the Islamic world, as documented in my monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians“ series—including diverse countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, and every corner of Africa—and not just the Middle East?

Surely this is the true “heart of the problem”—and not the tiny and relatively new state of Israel.

Of course, to thinkers like MacCulloch, all the above points concerning Islamic hostility for Christians are not open to consideration, for they portray Islam in a negative light and so must be false (see Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for abundant documentation otherwise.)

Instead, MacCulloch offers politically correct boilerplate statements, such as: “Christians are scapegoated for their faith by an extremist militant minority of Muslims, who betray their own religion by intolerance, and who make other Muslims ashamed of what is happening.”

Indeed, it is MacCulloch who betrays himself by characterizing Islam as a “tolerant” faith when any moderately objective reading of doctrine and history—made manifest in daily headlines—all prove the reverse.

Likewise, instead of delving into and exposing the true “heart of the problem,” MacCulloch critiques Protestant eschatology and U.S. support for Israel, the consequences of which “have been particularly dire for the traditional Christianities of the Middle East.”

It would have been more useful and sincere if he had addressed more glaring questions, for example:

  • When the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in Egypt torched some 80 churches and murdered Christians, including children—not to mention all the other anti-Christian atrocities they committed before and since—was that because of Israel or something else?
  • When Islamic rebels in Syria terrorize Christians, behead their priests and pastors, break Christian crosses and smash icons—all while shouting Islamic slogans—is that because of Israel or something more innate?
  • When Muslims in Indonesia illegally close off churches forcing Christians to celebrate Christmas in the streets—only to have cow dung and urine hurled at them—is that because of Israel, or something more ingrained?
  • When the Nigerian Islamic group Boko Haram destroys hundreds of churches and slaughters thousands of Christians, and when, on the other side of Africa, the Somali Islamic group Al-Shabaab terrorizes and beheads converts to Christianity—is that because of Israel or something more doctrinal?
  • Indeed, when Christian minorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip are abducted and forced to convert to Islam, is that because of Israel or the elephant in the room?

MacCulloch is correct about one thing: many Muslims do hate Israel. But that hate, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, is actually a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason it is much more viral for Israel is because the Jewish state is in a unique position of authority over Muslims unlike vulnerable Christian minorities (as fully explained in this article).

The theme of silence permeates MacCulloch’s Daily Beast article—specifically, that Western Christians are silent concerning the plight of their persecuted brethren. This silence is true and troubling—and many mainstream American Protestant denominations are certainly guilty of it.

However, instead of exploiting the sufferings of Christian minorities simply to scapegoat Israel—ironically a nation that is in an existential struggle against the very same ideology and forces that persecute Christians—it might have been better for MacCulloch himself to be silent.

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.  A Mideast and Islam specialist, he is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Hoover Institution Media Fellow, 2013.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Aghati Agha

    I wish the author had more self respect and integrity to not spread lies about the treatment of Muslims to Christians and Jews.

  • Mel

    Calling Christian bigots “Thinkers” in a story about Jews would be laughable if it were not so tragic. Shame on McCulloch!

  • Carol

    Mac Culloch is obviously ignorant of all the facts surrounding Israel’s situation in the middle east and very well informed in arab propaganda.

  • Efram

    Part of it is that many Protestant denominations are uncomfortable with Orthodox Catholics. The majority of Christians, persecuted in the middle east by the Muslims, are Orthodox, Catholic, Coptic, and a few older streams of Christianity. Many Protestants do not feel solidarity with them. Add the venal forces of politically-coerced censorship, and you have the silence. Also, since Paul, Christianity has loathed the Jews. In modern times some Christian leaders disavow this belief, such as the current pope. However, several mainstream Protestant sects have joined the BDS movement because hating Jews is the number one core of their belief systems. Then there are the hateful sayings of Church Of England prelates, which bare the roots of deep anti-Semitism. Many Christians are so deeply hateful of Jews that even the torture and murder of Christians by Muslims must be overlooked to satisfy their major worldview, which is anti-Semitic.

    The left is deeply anti-Semitic, a holdover from the days of the USSR, the beacon of light to the left, and its deeply enmeshed hatred of Jews. However, traditionally, the right wing is also deeply anti-Semitic. While the ‘mainstream’ of the right in the US is currently pro-Israel, Nazis such as Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are still very much alive and hating.

  • Lynne T

    Yes, Israel is such a source of problems to middle eastern Christians that some of them have left Gaza and the PA administered areas to go live in … Israel.

  • Arthur Wright

    Christianity started as a Jewish religion based on the One True God and the promises to the Fathers of Israel and to David. It was hijacked by Constantine and Augustine and Plato and the like. The Koran encourages Muslims to kill Trinitarians and pagans. There are some Christians who follow the original apostolic doctrines who believe that Jesus is the Messiah – not God – but the divine seed promised to David and that he was the prophet foretold by Moses, who would arise from among their Israeli brethren. Muslims are from those whose “hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him.” Israel’s Prime Minister was right in quoting Amos.

    • Efram

      Nice post, but Plato?

  • Arthur Wright

    Christianity started as a Jewish religion based on the One True God and the promises to the Fathers of Israel and to David. It was hijacked by Constantine and Augustine and Plato and the like. The Koran encourages Muslims to kill Trinitarians and pagans. There are Christians who follow the original apostolic doctrines who believe that Jesus is the Messiah – not God but the divine seed promised to David and the prophet foretold by Moses who would arise from among their Jewish brethren. Muslims are from those whose “hand will be against every man and every man’s hand against him.”

  • Well, of course the Jews are at the heart of all Christian persecution, we are the Christ-killers after all, so we must be made to look bad. How can Israel be “at the heart of Christian persecution” of Christians in Pakistan, for instance?

  • Alon

    Diarmaid MacCulloch is to the Jews what the Muslims are to the Jews. Full of hate and frustration. And people like Diarmaid MacCulloch would act like the Christians acted in the 15th century in Europe against the Jews, if only they were given the possibility…..same lady with a different skirt……


  • James Dyer

    These arguments are so often used asa spring-board to demonize Israel. Israel does not persecute Christians, it comes from Arab Moslems and nominal Arab Christians.

  • EG

    Islam: It gets worse.

  • David Most

    People like MacCullough still refuse to believe what anyone can see if he peruses the Koran itself. Subservience of Christians and Jews and other “idolators” is spelled out in great detail.
    Yet to make any kind of point against Israel, these people blow smoke over the Koranic verses since they don’t fit their agendas.

    Christians are being beaten into submission by their Muslim neighbors and Western Christianity turns its back. Fearing they will be charged with Islamophobia if they speak up, they remain silent.

    And the POTUS himself chooses to remain silent.

  • Jacobite

    Israel and Christianity go hand in hand, the enmity between Arabs and Israel, goes back to Abrahamic promises. Ishmael was Abrahams first born the son of a bond women, represents or is typical of the Mosaic law which bound Hebrews to a law that condemned them to death, the natural man can not live up to the level of discline required by God in upholding it.
    Issac was Abrahams first born son to his wife Sara. She is typical of a free women, and represents the law of Moses being fulfilled by Christ, no longer does the true church of Christ need the animal sacrifices as Christ is the intercesor through prayer for the remission of sin.
    Through Christ, believers that uphold Gods truth become heirs to the same promises or covenant made to Abraham, Issac & Jacob.
    The true Arab has been a feuding enemy and a despiser of anything Jewish
    Islam has spread its own brand of hate rid using religion as tool to advance its ambition, huminism in its cruelest form a show and pretence of godliness but with anything other the God of Abraham.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    MacCulloch is a oh so political correct leftist.

  • Shalom-Hillel

    Leftists in general, including leftist churches, don’t like to focus attention on the persecution of Christians by Muslims. It makes Muslims look bad and ruins their argument that Muslims are victims of the West and Israel. Churches are burned and Christians are beheaded. These western churches don’t care. They want to focus on schemes to punish Israel.

    • dan kaufman