On January 7, 2016, Gregory III Laham, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, gave an interview to the official Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram (“Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham: Christians Today Lack Faith That Muslims Are Willing To Cooperate With Them And Recognize The Other”, memri, Special Dispatch No 6270, January 20, 2016). In that interview, he spoke of the fate of Christian communities in the Arab world. Given the extent to which Christians have been persecuted in the Muslim world (see below), he should have had much to say about Christians in the Arab world.
But this Catholic Patriarch didn’t defend Christians. He didn’t criticize Muslims. He criticized Christians.
He declared that Christians in the Middle East have always stood up for Muslims. He said that Christians today lack faith that Muslims are willing to accept them and cooperate with them in a positive manner. He said, “These days I am in the midst of writing a letter to the presidents, kings, and emirs of the Arab and Muslim [countries] in order to say to them, in a letter from an Arab [Church] patriarch to the Muslims, that we love you” (ibid). He said, “We, the Arab Christians, always defend Islam and our Muslim brothers – no one defends Islam like the Arab Christians do.”
It’s a lovely sentiment. But it betrays Christians. For one observer, this extraordinary declaration of Christian support of Islam couldn’t have come at a better time (Robert Spencer, “Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch: “No one defends Islam like Arab Christians”, frontpagemag, January 26, 2016). Lord knows, Spencer writes, Islam needs defending. Muslims have spent so much time killing Christians, driving them from their homes and destroying their churches, they truly need all the defenders they can find (ibid).
For Spencer, this Christian defense of Islam is a betrayal and a travesty. It’s a betrayal because it betrays Christians into the hands of those who hate them. It's a travesty because siding with killers against their victims isn’t Christian charity (ibid). It's a moral perversion.
Israel is familiar with such Christian behavior. The Patriarch Gregory III isn’t the only Christian to embrace betrayal.
Christians and other minority groups are being murdered en masse in the Arab world (Dexter Van Zile, “Arab Christian leaders: Same old song and dance on Israel”, thecommentator, August 8, 2015). In 2013, one essay painted a picture of Christian slaughter (Dr. Guy Bechor, “Christian Cleansing from Arab Space: Please share the Hidden Truth”, facebook, December 29, 2013). The numbers were staggering: until the fall of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, in 2003, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. But ten years later, there were only 250,000 (ibid). That suggested that 1.25 million Christians had been murdered, forced to convert to Islam, or flee their homes (ibid).
In Syria, there were 1.75 million Christians in 2010. Over the next three years, 450,000 Christians fled (ibid). That adds up to more than 12,000 Christians fleeing every month. The situation for Arab Christians has become so horrific that the New York Times has asked, “Is this the end of Christianity in the Middle East?” (Eliza Griswold, July 22, 2015). Israel was not listed as the cause of this crisis. ISIS, Islam and Islamic butchery were the causes.
Nevertheless, the only time Arab Christian leaders appear to show passion is when they turn against Israel. In one instance, a conference of Christian leaders ignored the murder of Christians by Muslims (Van Zile, above). They chose instead to complain about the “continuing, expansive claims of Zionism”. They declared that the Middle East has been, “fragmented by the implant of the State of Israel into its heart” (Van Zile, ibid).
For these Arab Christian leaders, Islamic Jihad and Islamic anti-Christian hate require no attention. It’s Israel’s very existence that must be addressed (ibid).
Arab Christian leaders from across the Christian spectrum have fallen in love with those who seek to kill them. It’s shocking. The undeniable implication of Arab Christian political discourse is that the Middle East would be better off if Israel were destroyed (ibid)--when in reality Israel has become the Middle East Christians’ best friend.
Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe (Dave Bender, “Arab-Israel priest to UN: Israel Only safe haven for Christians in Middle East”, algemeiner, September 23, 2014). Israel’s Christian population has more than quadrupled since its independence in 1948, from 34,000 to 158,000 in 2012 (ibid). Meanwhile, as you saw above, Christian communities in the Arab Muslim world are so harassed and persecuted their very survival is threatened.
The fact is, Christianity is dying in Syria and Iraq (Giulio Meotti, “Why all this Christian anti-Israel Hatred?”, Arutz Sheva, July 3, 2015). Christian churches are demolished, Christian crosses are burned and replaced with flags of the Islamic State (ibid). Christian houses are destroyed, entire Christian communities are displaced, Christian children are massacred, and everything is done in plain sight. Islamists proclaim on a daily basis that they will not stop until Christianity is wiped off the face of the earth (ibid).
Nevertheless, world Christian bodies refuse to denounce Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing and genocide that Christians suffer (ibid). Instead, Christians these days “are busy targeting the Israeli Jews” (ibid).
All of this adds up to a triple betrayal. A Catholic leader (the Patriarch, above) prefers to defend Islam, not Christians. Other Christian leaders (Van Zile, above) betray Israel, their only safe haven. Christian deliberative bodies betray both Christians and Israel (Meotti, above).
Israel will weather this betrayal. It always has. Arab Christians won’t. Islam will sweep them away.
This story is part of a Script written long ago. It’s the Script for the Final Jewish Redemption. In that Script, we see that the descendants of Jacob (Israel) will grow strong. The descendants of Edom (Christians) will suffer.