It is “the secret sin” that no one wants to talk about, according to one Iraq-raised Christian. It is, she says, “the elephant in the room in the Arab Christian sub-culture.”
The writer, Luma Simms, is describing, in an article in The Federalist journal, the sorry phenomenon of anti-Semitism, so rife today among Mideast Christians. She adds sadly: “Anyone who claims that the Arab world – Muslim and Christian – is not pathologically anti-Semitic is delusional.”
Indeed, it was Britain’s Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who has written that it was Coptic and Maronite Christians who introduced the blood libel – the slander that Jews use the blood of gentiles in religious rituals – into Egypt and Syria in the 19th century.
Simms says it is this anti-Semitism that prevents Mideast Christians from seeking assistance of any kind from Israel, even as they suffer from the most grotesque persecution at the hands of Islamic State and others.
She writes: “Israel is the last hope for Arab Christians; it’s as simple as that….As the genocide of Middle Eastern Christians continues, the only hope of an Arab Christian remnant – a remnant that would keep and pass on its beliefs, traditions, and customs – is through help from the state of Israel.”
She even calls on Israel to take the initiative in working to rescue besieged Christians.
Sadly, this is unlikely. Last year I interviewed US citizen and Israeli resident Lela Gilbert, author of “Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner,” and I asked if Israel might even become a refuge for Christians fleeing the Islamic State onslaught in Iraq and Syria.
No, she said. Israelis are very sensitive to infiltrators, and a sudden influx of non-Jewish, Arabic-speaking refugees would surely provoke controversy. In any case, as she noted, so prevalent is anti-Semitism that many Mideast Christians would themselves probably reject the notion of coming to Israel.
Yet Simms writes that Israel has hospitals and medical units at its borders and has quietly been helping many Syrians caught up in the bloodshed. In addition, it is worth remembering that while Christians are today being relentlessly persecuted throughout much of the Middle East, there is one shining exception – Israel itself. Christianity is thriving in Israel, with the numbers of churches and believers growing (of course from a very low base).
Last year I wrote a column noting that growing numbers of Palestinians appeared to be sympathising with Islamic State. This came after the Pope had issued a call for an independent Palestinian state.
I quoted one commentator who said opinion surveys indicated that, if free elections were held in a Palestinian state, they would likely result in a Hamas majority, including elements of Islamic State. And if this Palestinian government were given control of the Old City of Jerusalem it would lead to the destruction of Christian holy sites, as has already happened in Iraq.
“Christianity survives in Judea and Samaria because Jews are willing to die for Jerusalem,” wrote this commentator. “How many Christians are willing to die for Jerusalem?”
Christianity is under attack in most parts of the Middle East outside Israel. Yet too many Arab Christians persist in their “secret sin.” It is a sin that could be hastening their destruction.