Jews Must Stand Up for Middle East Christians
On Sunday, I stood before 12,000 Christian allies of Israel at Faith Church in Budapest to talk about the dangers both Jews and Christians face today in the Middle East. The occasion was the Israel Allies European Summit, and it could not have come at a more fraught moment. There is an alarming growth of discrimination, hatred, and violence against non-Muslim people in the region.
We are familiar with the genocidal hatred Israel faces, but consider these stark facts: In Syria over the last two years, almost half a million peaceful Christian Arabs have been driven out and thousands have even been killed. In Sudan, a young Christian woman – a new mother – sits in prison, sentenced to death for her religious beliefs. In Lebanon, a country built by Christian Arabs, the Christian community is terrorized by Hezbollah, which has stockpiled thousands of Iranian-made missiles – all aimed at Israel. In Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, Christians comprised 70 percent of the population just 50 years ago; today, they are only 15 percent. In Iran, where Christians, Bahais, and other non-Muslims are persecuted for their religious beliefs, a pastor is serving a lengthy prison sentence for preaching his faith.
Jews and Christians believe in God, the Ten Commandments, and the Golden Rule. We all want to live in peace with our neighbors in a hostile world. And that is why today it is more important than ever that we stand together. Not only do we share a background, we face common dangers.
So, just as the Christian allies of Israel have stood by the Jewish people and the State of Israel, we must stand by them. As president of the World Jewish Congress, I will continue to speak out across the globe with world leaders and with ordinary citizens, telling them that we will never tolerate any kind of anti-Christian threats, just as we will not tolerate anti-Semitism. In my mind, there is no difference. Their fight is our fight.
Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress. This article first appeared on his blog at worldjewishcongress.org.