Speaking Truth to the Powerless

Recently, Sen Ted Cruz of Texas addressed a gathering of Arab and Oriental Christians from the Middle East. Their plight is now well-known. ISIS (aka the Islamic State) has been butchering them with impunity for several months now. The arrival of these bishops to America was motivated in part to garner sympathy for their cause. In many ways, it was a big step forward in inter-Christian relations. In many ways it served as a capstone to the increased awareness among Protestants in America Christians that the Church still existed in the land of its birth.

A rising star on the Right, Cruz could have served as a bridge between American Christians and these ancient communities. Much good was anticipated. Unfortunately, Cruz set back the cause of true ecumenism by years, if not decades. Speaking truth to the powerless is never a good thing. It’s not only bad form, it’s unChristian.

His speech started well enough and he was warmly received by the hundreds of Arab Christians in attendance. They warmly applauded him when he spoke that all have suffered, even the Jews and that there could be no place for Jew-hatred in the Church. Again, applause. (For those American Christians who think that Antisemitism is reflexive among the Arabs, they would have been surprised at the warm applause he received –not once, but twice–when he spoke about Jewish suffering.) He should have stopped there. Unfortunately, he started singing the praises of Zionism and spoke glowingly about Israel, going so far as to say that these suffering indigenous Arabs had no greater friend than Israel. When this was met with open disdain, he compounded his error by drawing a line in the sand; saying in effect that if these people who are being slaughtered can’t stand with Israel, then he wouldn’t stand with them. And so he abruptly turned and left.

These last statements were a bridge too far.

Frankly, the Arab Christians have too much on their plates to learn the words to the Israeli national anthem. They face nothing less than extinction. Make no mistake: tthe lion’s share of the blame rests with the Jihadis who are murderous savages, of this there can be no doubt. Most, but not all. Some blame rests with the American Neocons who uprooted the Arab tyrants who –though evil to the core–were able to contain Islamist fury. But not a little blame must go to the Zionist project which uprooted native Arabs from Palestine and unloaded them on the rest of the Middle East, setting off a chain of events that have caused non-stop upheaval.

This is all water under the bridge though. There is no way that the Jewish state is going to go extinct simply to please the grudges of the Arabs. Nor should it. Israel has a right to exist, even ifs founders appropriated the land of others. Few countries have clean hands in this regard. Every single country in the Western Hemisphere was expropriated from the native Mongoloid races by Europeans, whether they be British, French, Spanish or Portuguese. Same with Japan, where the Yamato clans exterminated the native Ainu. The list of subjugated indigenes endless. Israel’s existence is not the point here. Nor are the grievances of Arabs (whether Christian or Moslem). What is the point is the tactlessness which Cruz displayed, essentially rubbing the faces of these people in the dirt. This was uncalled for.

So why did he do it? Cruz is no dummy. As Alan Dershowitz once said of his former pupil, that Cruz is “off the charts brilliant.” He could wipe the floor with any opponent in a debate –and has. His principled stand against Obamacare, in which he spoke for 21 hours straight in the well of the Senate, earned him plaudits and more. If nothing else, he will be remembered fondly in this regard in comparison to the unworkable abomination that is the Affordable Care Act. He could at least say I was the last man standing when the “I told you so’s” started rolling out in the aftermath. That is not a small thing.

My hunch is that this otherwise brilliant man has fallen under the spell of the heresy that is Christian Zionism. In this regard, he is not unexceptional. Huge swaths of the American populace believes that the sole purpose of America is to protect Israel at all costs, even when it commits atrocities. Even if it might not be in America’s interests to be so slavishly devoted to the Jewish state. Even if in doing so, we make things worse for the Jewish state.

On the other hand, there may been a political calculation involved. Republicans have long harbored dreams of getting a significant percentage of American Jews to vote for them. At the very least, a Republican speaking glowingly about Israel would innoculate him against charges of Antisemitism. But just like all those normally decent Republicans who truckle before the NAACP every four years to prove to blacks that they aren’t racist, it’s not going to work. Most minorities will always vote for the more liberal party because that’s the one that doles out the goodies. In other words, it’s an exercise in futility.

Which makes Cruz’s faux pas even more unnecessary in retrospect. No Republican is ever going to get more than 25 percent of the Jewish vote. Period. End of story. Ronald Reagan got a little over 40 percent in 1980 but that was because a confluence of events that haven’t happened since, in that Carter was such a disaster for America that everybody wanted him out and Jews especially were incensed at his pro-Palestinian rhetoric. The stars won’t line up again that way for a long time. Nor will Liberal Jews give up their disdain for Evangelicals, even when it’s in their interests to throw them bouquets and kisses. Many would sell Israel down the river rather than be caught in open embrace with Christians, even if those Christians love them.

It’s sad really. As to being immunized against charges of Antisemitism, it’s probably a wash. My hunch ultimately is that Cruz was playing to the Evangelical pro-Israel crowd. If he can lock up their support in the early primaries, he’ll probably get the nomination. The hostility of the Arab Christians in the audience may pay off in this regard. After all, a lot of them wore funny hats and they didn’t look like what Evangelicals think “Christians” look like. In other words, to the average American Protestant who knows next-to-nothing about history it may work. But I have a feeling that the ignorance that is endemic to American Protestantism may be waning in the not-to-distant future. Already signs of increasing awareness of ancient Christianity is happening in unexpected places. The depredations of ISIS has indeed shocked the world. The more curious among the Evangelicals may start asking uncomfortable questions of the likes of John Hagee. Indeed, some are taking place right now. There could be a groundswell in the near future; not necessarily an anti-Israel backlash but an askance of blind American obedience to Israeli interests and even, I dare say, to all foreign entanglements whatsoever. (One can only hope!)

If this is the case, then Cruz’s unfortunate remarks will have been in vain. Indeed, it would seem better if at this point he started consulting some new advisors. Would it be too much for him to ask to address these people again? Perhaps asking for their forgiveness? Perhaps his unfortunate words could serve as a springboard towards more meaningful dialogue. Who knows? It couldn’t hurt. And besides, it would not only be a smart thing to do politically, but it’d be the right thing to do.

About GShep


  1. Cruz has shown his true colors. He does not stand for libertarian ideals (he’s a Harvard grad married to the regional vp of Goldman Sachs, how much more establishment can you get?)He does not, apparently stand for Christian ideals either. He is, apparently, willing to whore himself out to the neocon party line, even if it means supporting Israel not meerly in sickness and health, but through genocide and attrocities. I am both a Christian and a Conservative, but I am sick and tired of politicians backing the ridiculous rantings of the religious right to get votes to continue thier corporatist agenda. I hope the Republicans nominate someone else, and Cruz can go where he belongs, covering Glen Becks vacations and doing apocalyptic food storage infomercials for what Clark Carleton rightly calls “the single dumbest voting block in America”. I hope and pray we don’t have a repeat of 2012 and have to “choose” between this idiot and Madame Clinton.

  2. James Denney says

    Maybe Cruz has fallen under the heresy of Christian Zionism, I don’t know. But recently, I ran into an old friend who is a Christian Arab, born here in America. He had been looking at my articles on my Examiner page, as well as postings I have made on Facebook. He said that he agrees with all of my stuff (which is essentially constitutionalist conservative) EXCEPT for my writings on Israel, in which I strongly defend Israel’s stance vis-a-vis the surrounding Muslim Arabs, including those termed “Palestinian”.
    This particular Christian Arab American hates Israel, and called them “brutal”. I wanted to ask him just how he expected the Israelis to defend themselves from Islamist terrorism, but it was not the right place or time to do so. I was rather surprised that this Christian Arab-American could still side with his Muslim Palestinian ethnic brethren on this issue, especially given the fact that it is the Muslims, not the Israelis, who are terrorizing Christians in the region. I am no evangelical Christian Zionist, but I believe what Cruz said is true; he simply should have been a little more diplomatic in the way he presented this truth: The Arab Christians in the region can have a great friend in Israel. The common enemy is Islam; apparently, in some Christian Arabs, the bonds of ethnicity are strong enough to overcome the fact that their Muslim Arab “brothers” want them dead.

    • George Michalopulos says

      For a long time now I’ve come to feel that among Christian Arabs there is some “Stockholm Syndrome” going on as to the larger Muslim majority. Or maybe it’s just that blood is thicker than water in this regards. could be a little of both.

      • Will Harrington says

        Of course there is. In Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and across North Africa are people who honestly think they are Arabs, not Syrians or Anatolians or Phoenicians or Greeks. They come from lines of people who built great and accomplished civilizations, yet they identify with their conquerors and have for generations. It was easier to be an Arab. It was even easier yet to be an Arab Muslim.

        • Isa Almisry says

          “In Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and across North Africa are people who honestly think they are Arabs, not Syrians or Anatolians or Phoenicians or Greeks. ”
          Is that like English, Scotts, Irish, Germans etc. in North America who honestly think that are Americans?

          “yet they identify with their conquerors and have for generations.”
          Greeks are not native to Lebanon, Syria, Egypt nor North Africa. Nor are Anatolians (though I am curious as to whom you are identifying as such). And yet you honestly want people to identify with their Greek and Anatolian conquerors.

          Philip the Arab the Roman Emperor (and, according to the Fathers the first convert to Christianity, but in secret) celebrated the millenium of Rome in Rome in 248
          can we identify with him? He was a conqueror, but also a local boy from Syria (he made his home village into a city, and elevated its local capital Bostra, which held two Church Councils attended by Origen during Philip’s reign. Four centuries it would figure in the Muslims’ account of their Prophet’s introduction to monotheism).

          Arabs were in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt before the birth of Christ. Being an Arab is easy if you are one.

          • Tim R Mortiss says

            “Arabs were in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt before the birth of Christ.” No doubt there were many, as there were a great many Romans and Greeks. And St. Paul went into Arabia, which was a long way from the Arabian Peninsula. This relates very little to the situation at and after the Muslim Arab conquests.

            And why should one not identify with one’s conquerors, after time? Essentially that is what the whole peoples of the Middle East who became Muslims did.

            I certainly identify with my people’s conquerors, the Normans…..eventually, of course, the English were the conquerors/conquered. Without the Conquest, there would be no England as we know it.

            Let’s not forget that well-conquered Greeks were Romans for well over a thousand years, and insisted on “Roman” identity, long, long after Rome itself was a backwater town.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Maybe St. Paul should have said “In Christ there is no Arab or Jew…”?

            • Perhaps, but in Paul’s day, there were Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Now there are Arab Christians in the Middle East, yet there are many more Arab Muslims who reject Christ in that they reject the Incarnation. Also, while there are tiny little splinter groups of Jews called “Messianic Jews”, most Jews today also reject Christ. The point being neither Arab Muslims nor Israel Jews (or Jews in the “diaspora”) are in Christ.

              I see no reason for Arab Christians to love, like or even have any significant tolerance or patience with Israel. I myself am indifferent to the State of Israel. If it continues, fine. If they pack up and leave, that’s fine too. If somehow they were driven out, well, I would have to ask by whom? It would be worse if Muslims controlled the territory. Since when did we become champions of those who continue to reject Christ? Better if the whole area were ruled by Arab Christians.

              Christian Arabs have no reason to sympathize with Muslim Arabs either. Too many Muslim Arabs are murderous heathen who have only contempt for Christianity and Christians. Even moderates can turn on a dime into supporters of “Islamism”. The Muslim has a disease and its name is “Islam”. The better Muslims they are, the more dangerous they are to everyone else. That really should be on the minds of Christian Arabs and, thanks to ISIS and the fruits of US intervention in the Middle East, I’m sure it will grow on their minds in the future.

      • I don’t know that it’s Stockholm syndrome, as much as the persecution of Christians by the Israeli State. I went to college with alot of Palestinians, and pretty much everyone I talked to had stories of abusses by Israeli authorities, to include relatives who had been unjustly imprisoned, beaten, etc. I do think its a teastamsnt to thier Faith that despite thier mistreatment at the hands of the Israelis, I don’t recall hearing anything disparaging about Jews, and many of my friends had Jewish friends. “From the Holy Mountain” does a great job of detailing the plight of Palestinian Christians. How they have a “friend” in Israel is beyond me. As one of my friends from OCF put it in an opp ed piece in the college paper, Palestinians have, at best, an abusive parent in Israel.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, it does not hurt anything when Israel makes little or no distinction if you are an Arab. Plus the complicity of the Greek hierarchy with the Jewish state to keep the Palestinian Christians as second class.

        Before they kill, Muslims can be quite charming. They visit and make pilgrimage to Christian holy sites, implore the intercession of Christian saints, they share language, ethnicity, food and villages (or right next door) and the resentment against the interloper Jews for taking their land and livelihood (real or imagined).
        And as a Jewish state, the Israelis are no more fond of the indigenous Christian population than they are of the Muslim. Just less afraid.

        The time of relative peace and agreement can go on for generations–until it doesn’t.
        Until the moment some jihadists comes and says: “Kill the Infidel”. Then its run for the hills.

        That is a condensed sad history of the Christians in the Holy Land and surrounding areas. I have heard many versions of that story recounted by older parishioners in my home parish. In fact I’ve been told that the common family names are not really relational at all originally but Anglicized versions of the places in the hills the people hid to get away from the 19th century Islamic killing sprees that forced the immigration to the U.S. and Canada.

        I also remember the warning a young associate priest in my parish of Arab descent (1st generation American) gave me when he found out that my next door neighbors were Muslim and other Muslims were moving in: “Don’t trust them. They will turn on you in an instant.”

        Haram! usually came next.

        • George Michalopulos says

          That’s why I agree with Kipling: “For the East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” America –and Europe especially–would be better off if they didn’t allow large percentages of Muslim immigrants into their lands.

        • Tim R Mortiss says

          And yet the Patriarch of Antioch, in the interview on the Antiochian site linked in another post in this thread, agrees with the interviewer that the history of Christian-Muslim relations in Syria has been “fourteen centuries of brotherhood”!

          Not that we don’t know why he has to say this. But it seems to be presented at face value on the American site…..

          • They essentially have to say that over there. Relatively speaking, moderate/secular Moslems like Bashir Assad are the best friends Christians can hope for. I don’t doubt there is some true fraternity with such people. H.B. is saying what he must to maintain stability for his flock.

            But you won’t find many Syrian, Lebanese, or Palestinian Orthodox immigrants who will say those things over here. Many of the Moslems in the region, of course, are descendants of Christians who were probably forced to convert.

            • Tim R Mortiss says

              I think that the advantages of conversion over the generations and centuries were much more important that forced conversion.

              I have seen it stated that Egypt was probably majority Christian as late as the 13th century. But the pressures were unending, inexorable…..and yet millions are still Christian, after 14 centuries.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      I was rather surprised that this Christian Arab-American could still side with his Muslim Palestinian ethnic brethren on this issue, especially given the fact that it is the Muslims, not the Israelis, who are terrorizing Christians in the region.

      …apparently, in some Christian Arabs, the bonds of ethnicity are strong enough to overcome the fact that their Muslim Arab “brothers” want them dead.

      At least pretending to hate Israel is a requirement for survival, the Jews after all aren’t going to chop off their heads and gang rape their wives/daughters against a background of cries of “Allah Akbar,” so it is a safe way to bond with their “fellow Arabs.” I put “fellow Arabs,” in quotes because they’re not ethnic Arabs at all, just pretending to be “Arabs,” (expecting the rare secret converts who managed to survive and thrive, all the gene flow from inter-marriages has been one way: out), but the original native stock, a truth too dangerous to say out loud (or even allow themselves to think, because they might end up speaking it), indeed a truth that they must actively cooperate in hiding by joining the Pan-Arab groups and the like.

      I don’t see any other way to the play the cards dealt them. Join in complaining about the Jews and America (or the “West”), bond with the Muslims over speaking Arabic and whatever else of the culture you share, and save the dying for when given no other option but “convert or die.”

      • George Michalopulos says

        Ladder, you hit on an interesting point. DNA studies on Palestinian “Arabs” show a high commonality of shared alleles with Jews. This is particularly true of those resident in Gaza. It may very well be that a significant portion of the Palestinian Arabs are in fact descended from those Jews who were not removed from Palestine following the Second Jewish War (AD 135). Although the Byzantines continued the previous Roman policy of keeping Jews out of Jerusalem, with the arrival of the Muslims, it appears that several of the Jews which resided in the countryside accepted Muslim suzerainity

        At this primitive time in Islamic history, the tenets of Islam were tenuous and a mere acknowledgment of Mohammed as a Prophet was enough to “get you into the tent.” Over the intervening centuries, I imagine that most of these converts lost their Jewish identity. There is a precedence for this: consider the Marranos, a cryptic Jewish community of Iberians who after a few generations, remained ignorant of their Judaic roots.

        • Isa Almisry says

          “Ladder, you hit on an interesting point. DNA studies on Palestinian “Arabs” show a high commonality of shared alleles with Jews. ”
          I don’t know why the quotation marks on Arabs. Arab is a language, not a descent.
          That said, given that half of the Arabs claim (either by descent or fogotten adoption) descent from Abraham-we are called Qaysi, versus the Yemeni other half-and the Bible itself records the intermarriage of the Ishmaelites with the Edomites and other descendants of Abraham, it would show common DNA if a not a single Jew ever was Arabized.
          Btw, Palestine (and Syria, Iraq and even Lebanon) were full of Christian Arabs when the Muslims came

          • Tim R Mortiss says

            “Btw, Palestine (and Syria, Iraq and even Lebanon) were full of Christian Arabs when the Muslims came”

            I have very serious doubts about that, though I do not claim great expertise. Inasmuch as being “Arab” is primarily linguistic/cultural, you are suggesting that Palestine, Syria, and Iraq were already Arabic-speaking at the time of the Arab conquest? Other Semitic languages, no doubt, but Arabic?

            Could you clarify or expand? (I ask in good faith and candor.)

            • Isa Almisry says

              In Iraq and Syria (and even Egypt, in the Easter Desert) we already have thousands of Arabic inscriptions, and in both we have inscriptions of local kings (one in a Church) which proclaims him “King of the Arabs,” going back to the beginnings of the Christian era. Further back, Herodotus writes of the “King of the Arabs” in Gaza, and mentions that they worship a goddess “alilat”, which is whom the Quran calls “Allat”-it’s the feminine of Allah (both <al-ilah "the God," al-ilat "the Goddess"). In Egypt we have the remains of a temple dating from around 500 BC dedicated to Allat, where a devotee vessel was dedicated to han-ilat (han is an earlier form of the definite article in Arabic, known from the inscriptions) by the son of Gershem the Arab (Nehemiah 6:1) "King of Qedar" (the name of a Arab tribal confederation known from various sources, including the Bible)
              The inscription is otherwise in Aramaic, which is what masked a lot of the presence of the Arabs-they used the prior Aramaic, much like the Germanic tribes used Latin when they took over in the former Roman Empire. The earliest verse of Arabic we have, for instance, is in En Avdat near Beersheba: its a votive poem in honor of a local Arab King how had been deified-it starts in Aramaic and ends in a line of Classical Arabic verse. It dates from around 100 AD. The Kings of the area, the Nabataeans, spoke Arabic (and had Arab names-for istance Harith "Aretas" the King that St. Paul was escaping from when he was lowered in the basket at Damascus), but wrote in Aramaic. The "Saraceans" i.e. the Arabs, are recorded in the lives of the saints Palestine and Syria as converting and settling down. Centuries before the pagan ones settled and founded Iturea and the priest-kings of Emesa of Elagabalus (i.e. ilah ha-jabal, old North Arabian for "God of the Mountain"), a meteor cult (characteristic of pagan Arabs, e.g. the Black Stone) who became briefly the chief god of the Roman Empire when its priests became the Emperors.
              How Arabic speaking Palestine, Syria and Iraq were is a contested question. At least as much as they were Greek speaking (both concentrated on the desert and sea litoral respectively, with an Aramaic core in between).

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Being “Arab” has always generally been recognized as a linguistic matter, not one of strict ethnicity in a genetic sense. It could hardly be otherwise, as the ethnic Arab component of the near-Eastern Muslim world has always been small, from the beginning.

      • Isa Almisry says

        “At least pretending to hate Israel is a requirement for survival, the Jews after all aren’t going to chop off their heads and gang rape their wives/daughters against a background of cries of “Allah Akbar,” so it is a safe way to bond with their “fellow Arabs.” I put “fellow Arabs,” in quotes because they’re not ethnic Arabs at all, just pretending to be “Arabs”….
        the ignorance continues to roll on from there, but that’s enough to discount anything that follows (though the Zionists wouldn’t say “Allah Akbar” for the simple reason that most of them don’t acknowlege Him-except to say “He gave us this Land.”).

    • Isa Almisry says

      “I was rather surprised that this Christian Arab-American could still side with his Muslim Palestinian ethnic brethren on this issue, especially given the fact that it is the Muslims, not the Israelis, who are terrorizing Christians in the region.”
      You just answered your question. Your friend (who I am guessing doesn’t appreciate your quotation marks on Palestinian) knows the facts and you don’t. The Zionists do a good job terrorizing the Christian Palestinians (no quotation marks) amongst others.
      It has been reported (I haven’t seen it confirmed yet though) though while Lebanon and Jordan have taken in many Christian refugess (and Muslim: Turkey might have too, but its not Arab and I don’t know for a fact if any of its refugees are Christians), whereas the Zionist State has not taken in one. With such BFF’s, who needs enemies?

    • Johann Sebastian says

      If Christians have no greater friend than Israel, as Mr. Cruz asserts, then it’s high time that Israel stood up in overt defense of the Christians of the Middle East. The approach, more often than not, is just to pretend the Christians don’t exist.

      It’s clear we have no friends in this world–Jesus Christ is our greatest and only Friend.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      Christian Zionism is an heresy. They ignore the passages in the New Testament that clearly teach that the Church is the true Israel and the heir to the promises made by God to Abraham and his descendants. For example St. Paul wrote, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham…” (Galatians 3:7) The Apostle to the Gentiles also wrote, “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” (Romans 9:6-8) St. Paul also called the Church “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) Christ himself said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Finally in the parable of the Wicked Tenants Our Lord makes tells us that because of their disobedience to God by rejecting the Christ who is the Messiah, the land of Israel will be taken from the Jews for He said, “I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” (St. Matthew 21:43) Unfortunately, because they fail to understand that the purpose of the old Israel was to prepare a way for the coming of Christ and the establishment of the true Israel, which is the Church, Christian Zionists believe that modern Jews have a God given right to occupy rule Palestine regardless of the wishes of the indigenous Arabic speaking people. They and other Christian Zionists aggressively try to influence American foreign policy in a pro-Isreali direction. This politicization of the Gospel through so-called Christian Zionism not only ignores the serious violations of the human rights of the native Palestinian people by the foreign Zionist occupiers of the Holy Land, many of whom are Orthodox Christians, but is not in the national interest of the American people.

      • I agree with you Fr. except that I would add that if Palestine were retaken lock stock and barrel by Muslims, it would be worse. I’d rather have a Christian Arab ruled, non-democratic, State of the Holy Land. Religion is the important thing here. Neither our contempt for Israel, nor our foolish love for democracy should exceed our contempt for Islam, which is much, much more dangerous than Zionism.

  3. Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

    George – you may very well be right – “My hunch ultimately is that Cruz was playing to the Evangelical pro-Israel crowd. If he can lock up their support in the early primaries, he’ll probably get the nomination. The hostility of the Arab Christians in the audience may pay off in this regard. After all, a lot of them wore funny hats and they didn’t look like what Evangelicals think “Christians” look like. In other words, to the average American Protestant who knows next-to-nothing about history it may work. But I have a feeling that the ignorance that is endemic to American Protestantism may be waning in the not-to-distant future. Already signs of increasing awareness of ancient Christianity is happening in unexpected places.”

    During my time in the Army I have not had as many ask me about Eastern Christianity as I have in these last 2-3 years; most of whom are from the evangelical protestant crowd. I lead a unit weekly Bible study on the Gospel of John. Trust me, to see their eyes light up when given the most historically and theologically rich presentation on the Gospel of John they most likely have ever received (and that from an Orthodox Christian priest) as they begin to connect the dots is something to behold. Being a former evangelical myself, I’ve had regular opportunity to address Christian Zionism with these folks as well; again, that look of discovery in the eyes and face…. Once again, God gives us as Orthodox Christians an opportunity to communicate the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself to us through Jesus Christ for our salvation, in His Church. How will we fare? Though my experience in the Orthodox Church causes me to fear we are not up to the task, I like George see indications that “…signs of increasing awareness of ancient Christianity is happening in unexpected places.”

  4. Christian Arabs are in a difficult position. The “secular” Arab autocrats have often been their best friends since they suppressed militant Islam. Essentially, I perceive a certain fear that borders on being part of their (Arab Christian) identity. I mean, I remember Hanan Ashrawi carrying all sorts of water for Arafat.

    Is Israel their friend? No. Is Islam their enemy? Most definitely. Yet they do not seem to be able to behave as if Islam is an enemy – a mortal enemy. If any good can come out of the awful carnage of Arab Christians, perhaps it is that they may perceive an existential crisis vis a vis Islam, rather than the continued possibility of dhimmi coexistence. Yet I fear many will only blame the US (with considerable justification).

    You can say the same thing about the Muslims as was said in generations past about “the Hun”. He’s either at your feet, or at your throat – regardless of whether he speaks the same language as you or has the same skin color.

    I guess we won’t do the decent thing, given our progressive secular “democracy” here. That would be to arm the Arab Christians and cease hostilities with Assad. When I say “arm”, I mean upset the balance to the degree that Christians in any Middle Eastern country in which they constitute a significant minority would be power brokers – able to either stabilize or destabilize a government. Of course, given our political proclivities here, no Arab Christian would be justified in trusting us not to pull the rug out from under them.

    Basically, it’s a train wreck.

    Btw, just to clarify, I do not believe that Israel has a “right to exist”. I do, however, think that it is unlikely that they will leave without a nuclear war, thus I do not think getting rid of Israel is an option. I do sympathize with them to some extent but sometimes wish that they’d picked a couple thousand square miles in the Black Forest to create the Jewish State rather than Palestine.

    As for Cruz, he may be bright, but I can’t say he’s good.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      RE your comment, Misha: “just to clarify, I do not believe that Israel has a ‘right to exist.'”

      I would appreciate your clarifying whether your rejection of Israel’s “right to exist” is peculiar to the history, as you understand it, of the modern Jewish state or based on a blanket disavowal of the notion of collective “rights” of nations per se.

      • Hmmm . . . interesting question, Father. All I can tell you is what I had in mind.

        I have never heard of a nation other than the State of Israel claim a “right to exist”. It seems to me to be a claim inseparable from the Holocaust; i.e., if one does not acknowledge that a group of Jews have a right to control the territory of Palestine then the only alternative is that they as individuals or collectively be exterminated. This seems to me to be a false dichotomy. The Jews lived in diaspora for a very long time.

        Also, I understand if someone claims a territory by “right of conquest”, for example. “Right to exist” I really don’t understand. It is the essence of victimhood asserted, leading with ones shield.

        • Tim R Mortiss says

          I think it’s because “right to exist” plays much better in the modern world than “right of conquest”, a concept which has been out of favor since 1945.

          Until then, “right of conquest” was well-recognized in international law. North America is “European” by right of conquest. Turkey owns (quite lawfully) Anatolia and Constantinople– by right of conquest.

          As I remember, “conquest”, to be “right”, meant that you conquered, and that you successfully held for a long time. How long? Don’t remember if there was a timeline, but a few generations helps.

          Israel has conquered and held, for a couple of generations, now. The Muslims claim that nobody can ever conquer lands of the House of Islam. Certainly, they don’t like it!

  5. Thanks for an entertaining editorial. I’d say…money. And more…

    The Arabs ought to all despise ISIS. For that fraction that does not; Israel love as a reward for ISIS seems about right. And no measure of Tea Party isolationism can be tolerated in the face of the butchers.

    I heard the Saudi leader speak and he was largely indifferent to ISIS. He used the word implicit I think to describe Saudi interest. Maybe if Israel love happens, Iran and Arabia will feel more directly affected.

    I still say it is money talkin.

    • Estonian Slovak says

      Question for you, Mr. Fall. I don’t know how you personally feel about Israel. I believe from reading your posts that you are at least somewhat left of center and appear to be in favor of gay rights. Yet so many on the left, including my own brother, feel that Israel has no right to exist. The paradox here is that Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East, where one can be openly gay. My brother supports gay rights, yet wants to wipe Israel off the map. Your thoughts, please!

      • George Michalopulos says

        One of the great canards of the 20th century is that Antisemitism is a phenomenon of the Right. In reality many in the Left have been virulently Antisemitic. Read what Karl Marx himself said about Jews (and he was ethnically Jewish). On the other hand, many German nationalists proclaimed themselves to be Zionists for a couple of reasons: Zionism is a nationalistic project dedicated to, ethnic separation –blood and soil and all that–and also because many wanted Jews to depart en masse from Germany. It’s a little-known fact that the Zionist proto-government in Palestine made overtures to the Nazi regime; they even struck a medal incorporating the Swastika within the Star of David. Yitzhak Shamir (who was PM in the 80s) offered the services of the Irgun to Germany in that both had a common enemy: Great Britain.

      • My personal opinion has changed over the years from being a full on supporter of Israel growing up by Jewish neighbors and learning about the Holocaust to one who thinks Israel has mistreated the Palestinians to a degree since 1947. I find the settlements to be a current sore spot, but not worthy of rocket fire. I’m sure economic forces play on the Palestinians as well. As for Israel’s existence, I believe it ought be defended, but that Israel needs to be held to account for its own human rights abuses. Not sure how.

        And to be clear, Iran is a big troublemaker and I see no reason to allow them nuclear anything.

        There is my two cents..

  6. Michael Kinsey says

    Even if all parties decided to address a peaceful solution, employing a truthful yea and nay in their communications, They would not come to a successful accord. The same God , the genuine God, is not party to their deliberations, and with men peace, is impossible, with God, all things are possible. This conflict is unsolvable, as the Holy Scripture predicts.

  7. There’s absolutely no reason why Christian Palestinians should love Israel, the state that expelled hundreds of thousands of their brethren in 1947-49, has bombed Lebanon to smithereens multiple times, continues to deprive them of their property and travel rights, etc. etc.

    One of the West’s great mistakes in the Cold War was to treat secular nationalists like Nasser (and Mossadegh, but not Ataturk) like Communists, which they were not. Nasser suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood and was extraordinarily popular among Christians and Muslims alike. Instead the West worked with the oil-rich Gulf states to cultivate Islamism, which was against atheist Communism. Here we are today.

  8. Antonio Arganda says
    • George Michalopulos says

      An excellent article! Thank you for posting it. I take issue with Shlomo Sand’s thesis however that Jewry has no genetic component but was the coalescence of several different nations over the centuries into something called “Judaism,” somewhat spontaneously. According to the most recent DNA studies, the Ashkenazim for example (who comprise 90% of Jewry) are descended from a significant intermarriage between Jewish bachelors and pagan, European females a little over 1000 years ago. The Khazar hypothesis (which Sand also espouses) has been pretty much debunked as well.

      The alleles I was talking about were those genes that coded for certain genetic diseases which Ashkenazim are prone to. They are found also among Arabs in the Gaza strip. The question is: why did these diseases wreak such havoc on European Jews in their dominant form, but in their recessive form, cause Ashkenazim to have higher IQs than the native European population. (The average IQ of European whites is 100, for Ashkenazim its 109.) Glen Harpending thinks it had to do with the intense pressure to intermarry and their voluntary confinement into ghettos and shtetls, resulting in a Founder’s Effect that intensified over the years. For the Gazans, the tribalism was not nearly so extensive. This is controversial of course because nobody outside of Right-wing circles wants to talk about IQ and hereditary. But it makes sense, especially when we consider the fact that all Ashkenazim alive today are related to within 3rd cousins of each other. (That’s a population of over 14 million, which is staggering when you consider it.)

      This Ashkenazi Founder Effect explains the physiognomic differences between Ashkenazim and the Sephardim/Mizraihim/Romaniotes.

  9. Steve Knowlton says

    I’m not a Senator Cruz fan but I’m glad he stood up to them. Like everyone else here, I lament the predicament of Christian Arabs, but the anti-Semitism is a show stopper for me. He was right to walk out on them. So would I. As an American I should not have to earn loyalty points from Arabs by beating up on Israel.

    In the Antiohcian “Archdiocese” I was always told that middle eastern politics was above my pay grade, “Americans don’t get it,” and so on, and eventually stopped spewing their anti Semitism in the Word magazine. Well, maybe we should tell Arab Americans the same thing: most Americans sympathize with Israel, for a wide variety of reasons (not just nutty biblical Zionists), and if they don’t understand it, it’s because they can’t and no one is asking their opinion on the matter.

    • George Michalopulos says

      The point Steve was that he didn’t have to go as far as telling these Arab Christians that they must support Israel. His remarks condemning Antisemitism were very well received by his audience. He should have stopped there. That’s all I’m saying.

      • steve knowlton says

        No, Arab Christians need to go the whole way. Saying that they oppose “antisemitism” is meaningless. Don’t forget that appalling moment about a year ago when Metropolitan Philip and his lamentable brother sponsored a pro-Syria Agitprop campaign on Ancient Faith Radio where they said, with a straight face, that there is no antisemitism in the Middle East. None at all. Anywhere! The idea that Arabs — Christian or Muslim — hate jews, is an absurd slander against the peaceable and rational people of the Levant.

        No, making an Arab Christian admit that they need to support Israel — this is how you flush them out. I doubt Senator Cruz even knows the audience this well, he simply stumbled on it.

        Besides, who cares what Arab Christians think anyhow? Why would anyone bother to go give a speech to them, except to scoop up some votes in a swing state? No one takes seriously their views on these matters, you certainly don’t.

        • Isa Almisry says

          “No, making an Arab Christian admit that they need to support Israel — this is how you flush them out. ”
          We keep them. The Judaizers we flush. Down with the church of their ilk that Cruz patronizes.

        • In today’s world, Arabs and Muslims all over the world, in very large numbers, want to eliminate the state of Israel, and not a few of them explicitly say that they want to kill as many Jews as they can while in the process of doing so. These voices, furthermore, are not loudly denounced and condemned and ostracized by their fellow Arabs and Muslims (or even by most leftists in the West, who tend to act as functional fellow-travellers, with their reflexive anti-Israel rhetoric.)

          So yeah, I really don’t think it is unreasonable for Jews to suspect that there is anti-Semitism lurking in those who won’t come out and say that they have no problem with the state of Israel existing and protecting its own interests. And even if said individuals really aren’t anti-Semitic by some technical definition of their own, it doesn’t matter. If someone doesn’t care whether your country is weakened, destroyed, and possibly left at the mercy of genocidal Islamists — or possibly even wants some or all of those things to happen — well, it really doesn’t matter whether they are “anti-Semitic” or not. Israel’s neighbors and Islam in general can either leave Israel alone, or they can engage in non-stop conflict in an attempt to take back that chunk of land and remove Jews from it. I doubt that Israel cares whether anyone is anti-Semitic in his head or heart, but they do care about whether they will be attacked, either militarily or through terrorist acts.

          I’m not saying something goofy like “Israel has a fundamental right to exist.” The entire concept of “rights” is ephemeral and not based in reality. No country or group or individual has a “right to exist.” We all want to exist, and we do what we can to make sure we continue to exist, and in as safe and as comfortable conditions as we can manage. Whether we do or don’t have a “right to exist” has no bearing on how we live our lives, or how others will treat or mistreat us.

          Israel has supporters, it has enemies and detractors, and it has those who are truly indifferent. Jews around the world (at least nearly every one I have met) tend to look at Israel as a “safety valve” — a place that they could flee to if virulent anti-Semitism were ever to rear its head wherever they live. History shows that no nation has ever been immune to such anti-Semitism other than Israel, so it takes willful historical ignorance to say that their concerns aren’t valid, or that their interest in protecting a Jewish state in Israel, even if they don’t live there now, is unreasonable.

          At present, my interests and my country’s interests are usually not incompatible with Israel’s interests, but are definitely incompatible with Islamic expansionism (perhap I am being redundant in putting those two words together). So I am a supporter of Israel. The idea that short-term alliances with Muslims against Israel are somehow going to change the fact every majority Muslim country on earth is somewhere on the path to the gradual elimination of Christianity and Christians within its borders? Sheer illusion. I don’t begrudge those who think those short-term alliances are the best choice for them in the short run. I might do the same if I thought that it might protect myself and my family for a few more months or years. But I think there is some self-delusion involved regarding how their Muslim masters are going to treat them in the long run.

          And since we who aren’t Arab Christians in the Middle East are free to speak our minds in a way that they aren’t, I’m going to speak the truth about where the real threat to Christians is. Hint: it ain’t Israel.

        • “No, making an Arab Christian admit that they need to support Israel — this is how you flush them out. I doubt Senator Cruz even knows the audience this well, he simply stumbled on it.”

          Why should any Christian support a political entity dedicated to establishing a homeland for those who continue to reject Christ? Are they useful against common enemies, the Muslims? Well, in a way, yes. But it is debatable whether they do more harm in continuing the State of Israel than the good they do against the ummah.

          Make no mistake though, the calculation should be on the basis of the usefulness of the State of Israel to some Christian project. And we should never allow others to accuse us of anti-Semitism solely based on our rejection of, or failure to support, the State of Israel.

          The Jews lived in the diaspora for almost 2000 years without a state. Most Jews live in the diaspora today. And there is no reason to posit that the end of the State of Israel would necessarily mean anything more than the return of the Jews living there to the diaspora with their brothers.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            “The Jews lived in the diaspora for almost 2000 years without a state. Most Jews live in the diaspora today. And there is no reason to posit that the end of the State of Israel would necessarily mean anything more than the return of the Jews living there to the diaspora with their brothers.”

            What a statement! I think there would likely be nuclear war before the “end of the State of Israel”.This would be “something more” than a return of Israeli Jews to the diaspora.

            Should we support the Japanese in preserving their homeland, though they “reject Christ”? “Rejection of Christ” would not seem a good basis upon which to found American foreign policy….

            • Tim,

              The difference is that the Japanese have continuously dominated their homeland in terms of population and rule, except for the immediate post war period, of course. We didn’t fight them, or rebuild them afterwards, based on their religion.

              Israel sits on the side of a volcano of their own creation. Helping them because they are “poor helpless Jews” is not good enough when they are neither poor, nor helpless nor even particularly devout in their Judaism, for that matter – most especially when this Judaism they practice poorly, if at all, is itself a denial of Christ..

              Yes, assisting Orthodox Christians worldwide would be a wonderful foreign policy. Much better than making the world safe for Israel, abortion, birth control, feminism and Western business.

              • Tim R Mortiss says

                Indeed, the situation of Japan is entirely different. My point only relates to “rejection of Christ”. Do you seriously think that US policy, now or at any time in its history, could be motivated by “assisting Orthodox Christians worldwide”?

                Perhaps that would be good domestic policy, too. How would we go about “assisting Orthodox Christians” in a domestic policy? Not that we need suppose this objective will ever become the subject of a mass movement!

                • Tim,

                  You know, it does posit the unthinkable: That the Orthodox evangelize this country. So long as that remains unthinkable, then yes, it is impossible. But that goes back to my point about the real disease of Orthodoxy in this country – not seeing ourselves as The Church, but as another denomination.

                  Now, do I think it is likely that either the US any time soon will embrace what I wrote about? Nope. Do I think the Israelis are just going to pack up and leave? Nope.

                  But it is a good idea to remember whether you have a dog in the fight and, if so, which dog it is.

      • Larry H. Puttgrass says

        George and others,

        I just saw this at Romfea.gr


        According to google translate it states that the Israeli government has a new classifaction for Palestinians – Aramaic (whatever that means) and has made it mandatory for Palestinian (Christians only I believe) to serve in the Israeli army.

        So the concerns about flushing out Palestinians and causing divisions among the Palestinians are not entirely without cause.

        With this new “classification” what happens to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem?

        Is there then created the Aramaic Orthodox Church? Is the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher recreated under the complete control of an entirely “Aramaic” brotherhood but with the Israeli government pulling the strings as normal?

        • Isa Almisry says

          “Is there then created the Aramaic Orthodox Church? Is the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher recreated under the complete control of an entirely “Aramaic” brotherhood but with the Israeli government pulling the strings as normal?”
          No, it’s still in the hands of the Phanariots, as alien as the Zionists are to the land.

        • I have no idea what the Palestinian Christians will do with this and I think it would be bad if the Israelis made them serve in the IDF. That being said, anything that might convince them that there is no such thing as “Palestinian culture” or “Palestinian society” is probably a good thing. There are Christians and there are Muslims. Using the umbrella term “Palestinian” only accomplishes identity of person and purpose of Christians with Muslims, and that is a very bad thing. Palestinian Christians need to come to see Palestinian Muslims as mortal enemies, not cuddly compatriots.

    • Pdn. Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Steve, there seems to be very much that you have not considered. You write that “anti-Semitism is a show stopper for me,” but is anti-Semitism any worse that anti-Arabism or anti-Christianism? Many Jews, and very many Israelis, are unabashedly anti-Arab and anti-Christian. Would Cruz have dared to tell a Jewish or Israeli audience that they must stand with Middle Eastern Christians in their time of need? Would he have told them that he would not stand with Israel and the Jews if they did not stand with Middle Eastern Christians? NO, HE WOULD NOT HAVE.

      For Cruz, and perhaps for you, Jews constitute an excepted class that one may never oppose, but that perspective cannot possibly be squared with faith in Christ, in whom there is “neither Greek nor Jew.”

      • steve knowlton says

        Yes, I do happen to think that Anti-semitism among arabs is different than the anti-arabism that many espouse. It is more violent, more conspiracy-minded, more contrived, more motivated by perceived victimhood, and, let’s admit, more successful.

        One of the problems with Intellectuals, including Orthodox intellectuals is that you presume the existence of a beautiful equal sign between any two: people, sexes, races, religions, cultures, etc. Taking away that equal sign offends your sensibilities. But sometimes things just aren’t equal. This would be a fine example.

        Put another way, if you ask any Christian Arab: whose court would rather be tried in: an Israeli court, or a Qatari or Saudi or Egyptian court?, how will they answer? Good luck finding your symmetry on that one.

        • Isa Almisry says

          Put another way, if you ask any Christian Arab: whose court would rather be tried in: an Israeli court, or a Qatari or Saudi or Egyptian court?, how will they answer? Good luck finding your symmetry on that one.

          Have you asked any Christian Arab?
          How about the Christians of Iqrit?

          Iqrit (Arabic: إقرت‎ or إقرث, Iqrith) was a Palestinian Christian village, located 25 kilometres (16 miles) northeast of Acre. Originally allotted to form part of an Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan, it was seized and forcefully depopulated then razed by the Israel Defense Forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and their territory later became part of the new State of Israel. All of its Christian inhabitants were forced to flee to Lebanon and neighboring Palestinian villages after they were expelled by Jewish forces in 1948-1951. Descendents to this day maintain an outpost in the village church, and bury their dead in its cemetery. All attempts to cultivate its lands are uprooted by the Israeli Lands Administration… the villagers of Iqrit were outright expelled by the Israeli Army in November 1948, (together with the villagers of Kafr Bir’im, Nabi Rubin and Tarbikha) “without Cabinet knowledge, debate, or approval – though, almost inevitably, they received post facto Cabinet endorsement.” While some of the former inhabitants of Iqrit became refugees in Lebanon, most are now internally displaced Palestinians who are also citizens of Israel. Iqrit was captured on October 31, 1948 by the Haganah’s Oded Brigade during Operation Hiram, an Israeli offensive which advanced on the coastal road towards Lebanon. Iqrit and Tarbikha surrendered and the villagers stayed in their homes. That situation did not last for long. Iqrit and a number of other villages in the region were affected by a policy known as “an Arabless border strip”….Six days after its surrender, on 5 November 1948, the Israeli Army ordered the villagers to surrender the village, and that they would be returned in two weeks’ time when the military operations were over. Some went to Lebanon and the Israeli Army trucked the majority to Rame, a town between Acre and Safad.

          In July 1951, the villagers of Iqrit pleaded their case before Israel’s Supreme Court, and the court ruled in favour of the right to return to their village. After this judgement, the Military Government found another justification to prevent them from returning. The villagers appealed to the Supreme Court again and were scheduled to have their case considered on 6 February 1952. However, on Christmas Day in 1951, Israeli Defense Forces destroyed the village. According to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Israeli soldiers took the mukhtar of Iqrit to the top of a nearby hill to force him to watch as Israeli troops blew up every house in the village.

          In his book Blood Brothers, Father Elias Chacour, who was a child away at school at the time, records the story of what happened, as told to him by his brothers:
          “For the second time, the village elders marched across the hill and presented the order to the Zionist soldiers…Without question or dispute, the commanding officer read the order. He shrugged. ‘This is fine…We need some time to pull out. You can return on the 25th.’
          On Christmas! What an incredible Christmas gift for the village. The elders fairly ran across the hill to Gish to spread the news. At long last they would all be going home. The Christmas Eve vigil became a celebration of thanksgiving and joyful praise. On Christmas morning…bundled in sweaters and old coats supplied by the Bishop’s relief workers, the villagers gathered in the first light of day…Mother, Father, Wardi, and my brothers all joined in singing a jubilant Christmas hymn as they mounted the hill…At the top of the hill their hymn trailed into silence…Why were the soldiers still there? In the distance, a soldier shouted, and they realized they had been seen. A cannon blast sheared the silence. Then another—a third…Tank shells shrieked into the village, exploding in fiery destruction. Houses blew apart like paper. Stones and dust flew amid the red flames and billowing black smoke. One shell slammed into the side of the church, caving in a thick stone wall and blowing off half the roof. The bell tower teetered, the bronze bell knelling, and somehow held amid the dust clouds and cannon fire… Then all was silent—except for the weeping of women and the terrified screams of babies and children.

          Mother and Father stood shaking, huddled together with Wardi and my brothers. In a numbness of horror, they watched as bulldozers plowed through the ruins, knocking down much of what had not already blown apart or tumbled. At last, Father said—to my brothers or to God, they were never sure—’Forgive them.’ Then he led them back to Gish.”
          —Father Elias Chacour

          In its third verdict (Feb. 1952), the court blamed the villagers for depending on promises from the military ruler of Galilee, instead of benefiting from the legal remedy which was given to them by the court in its first relevant verdict….While the Israeli authorities recognized the right to return of the villagers in principle, officials resisted implementing this right. Said Golda Meir in 1972:

          It is not only consideration of security [that prevent] an official decision regarding Bi’rim and Iqrit, but the desire to avoid [setting] a precedent. We cannot allow ourselves to become more and more entangled and to reach a point from which we are unable to extricate ourselves.”

          Meron Benvenisti notes how it has been argued that the villagers of Iqrit and Bi’rim are not the only present-absentees in Israel, and therefore recognizing their right of return is perceived as setting a “dangerous precedent” that would be followed by other similar demands. However, Benvenisti himself has argued that it could be a positive precedent if the Iqrit villagers were to be allocated the small amount of empty land they need to establish a community settlement on their own land.

          The operational name of the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes in 1972 was named after this town and Kafr Bir’im…
          A present absentee is a Palestinian who fled or was expelled from his home in Palestine by Jewish or Israeli forces, before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, but who remained within the area that became the state of Israel. Present absentees are also referred to as internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs). The term applies to the present absentee’s descendants too…Present absentees are not permitted to live in the homes they were expelled from, even if they live in the same area, the property still exists, and they can show that they own it. They are regarded as absent by the Israeli government because they left their homes, even if they did not intend to leave them for more than a few days, and even if they did so involuntarily…If the definition is restricted to those displaced in the 1948 war and its immediate aftermath and their descendants, some 274,000 Arab citizens of Israel – or 1 in 4 Palestinians in Israel – are internally displaced Palestinians…As it was for most other Palestinian refugees, the homes and properties of internally displaced Palestinians were placed under the control of a government body, the Custodian of Absentees’ Property via legislation that includes the 1948 Emergency Regulation Concerning Absentee Property (a temporary measure) and the 1950 Absentee Property Law…Unlike other Palestinian refugees, the internally displaced Palestinians and others who remained inside what became Israel were made citizens by the Citizenship Law of July 1952. That same year Israel requested that UNRWA transfer responsibility for registering and caring for internally displaced persons to Israel and basic humanitarian assistance was provided to the internally displaced for a time….Military administrative rule (1948–1966) restricted the movement of Arab citizens of Israel, and it combined with the Absentees’ Property Laws to prevent internally displaced citizens from physically returning to their properties to reclaim their homes. According to the Absentees’ Property Laws, “absentees” are non-Jewish residents of Palestine who had left his usual place of residence for any place inside or outside the country after the adoption of the partition of Palestine resolution by the UN. Under these laws, “absentee” property owners were required to prove their “presence” in order to gain recognition of their ownership rights by the Israeli government. However, all ownership rights of “absentees” belong to the government-appointed Custodian of Absentee Property, and any person including the “absentee” owner himself found occupying, building, or being “present” on such properties would be violating the law and risk expulsion and demolition…Some villagers like those of Ghassibiya, Bir’im and Iqrit whose petitions to the Israeli High Court to have their property rights recognized were accepted in the 1950s, but they were physically prevented from reclaiming their properties by military administrative authorities who refused to abide by the court rulings and declared the villages closed military zones.

          In the summer of 1972, the villagers of Kafr Bir’im and Iqrit went back to repair their churches and refused to leave. Their action was supported by archbishop Hakim’s successor, Archbishop Joseph Raya. The police removed them by force. The government barred the return of the villagers so as not to create a precedent. In August 1972, a large group of Israeli Jews went to Kafr Bir’im and Iqrit to show solidarity with the villagers. Several thousand turned out for a demonstration in Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities said most of the inhabitants of the village had received compensation for their losses, but the villagers said they had only been compensated for small portions of their holdings. In 1972, the government rescinded all “closed regions” laws in the country, but then reinstated these laws for the two villages Kafr Bir’im and Iqrit.

          This was met with criticism by the opposition parties. In the 1977 election campaign Menachem Begin, then leader of the right-wing Likud party, promised the villagers that they could return home if he was elected. This promise became a great embarrassment to him after he had won, and a decision on the issue was postponed as long as possible. It was left to his agriculture minister to reveal to the public that a special cabinet committee had decided that the villagers of Kafr Bir’im and Iqrit would not be allowed to return.


          • I have actually been to Kafr Bir’im. It is now an Israeli national park because the ruins of a Roman-era synagogue are there. For a long time the park brochures claimed that the villages of Birim and Iqrit were actually Roman-era as well. When I was there the brochure claimed that the village had been “abandoned” in 1948 which is a blatant lie. Some day may the people of Birim return!

    • Isa Almisry says

      “I’m not a Senator Cruz fan but I’m glad he stood up to them. Like everyone else here, I lament the predicament of Christian Arabs, but the anti-Semitism is a show stopper for me. ”
      Since no anti-Semitism was shown, it must be a brain stopper as well.

    • So anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism?

      If one opposes an independent Kurdistan, does it follow that one is racist against Kurds? No, perhaps one believes that an independent Kurdish state would be against US interests (not saying I agree with that – the point is for the sake of illustration).

      If one supports Israel, and thus denies Palestinians their right to their historic homeland, is it necessarily because of anti-Palestinian racism? No – it can easily be argued for example that Israel was a strong ally of the US for much of the Cold War.

      Of course there are overlaps between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but one does not imply the other.

      • George Michalopulos says

        For what it’s worth, if the Palestinians deserve a homeland then the Kurds are long overdue. They are the largest stateless population on Earth.

  10. A new English translation of an interview with Patriarch John X of Antioch on the Church in Syria, Muslim/Christian relations, the abducted archbishops and more is available online:

  11. Cruz-yet another corporate shill! Ain’t they all?