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Opinion, Ray Hanania: Christian Arabs & Middle East Christians must unite
By Ray Hanania
There are 4.5 million Arabs in the United States, 7 million Muslims in the United States, and more than 250 million Christians in the United States. Of the 4.5 million American Arabs, more than 60 percent or 2.5 million are Christian Arabs.
These numbers do not even include non-Arab Middle East Christians like Assyrians and Chaldeans and Phoenicians, groups that are targeted, persecuted and harassed for religious and social reasons in the Arab World.
Society and the news media ignores the data, though, and they focus on where the controversy is. For example, to most media, all Arabs are Muslim. That’s why when it comes to the Middle East, the mainstream media only focuses on Muslim issues. Muslim-Christian events. Muslim-Christian dialogue. Muslim-Jewish dialogue.
No one wans to dialogue with Christian Arabs. In the minds of the world, we don’t exist. That’s partly our fault. In fact, small minority groups in the United States can have a loud voice and play influential roles in influencing this country.
But it starts with us.
Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians, if combined, would number more than 10 million in the United States, including all of the different groups.
We need to know who we are. We can’t rely on the U.S. Government to help us because they follow the lead of the mainstream news media which defines groups based on their own selfish agendas.
The media supports Israel and discriminates against all Arabs – they don’t care whether you are Christian, Muslim or Chaldean, Assyrian or Phoenician. You are lumped in with the group “Muslim” to make it easier for the mainstream news media to target us, attack us, persecute us, isolate us and marginalize us.
Our salvation starts with us, though.
We need to know who we are. We need to also set aside our petty differences. These differences are unChristianlike. The fact that Chaldeans and Orthodox often do not mix is in fact unChristianlike. It undermines the very principles that make us Christian.
Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians can play a significant role in changing how Americans view the Middle East, including helping Americans untangle themselves from Israel’s political propaganda headlock. America is not free to exercise justice when it comes to Israel because Israel has done a great job of pulling the wool over the eyes of American Christians, all 250 million of them.
Israeli propaganda and lobbying groups who have made Israel’s interests more important than American interests – they assert they are the same but they are not – have convinced mainstream American Christians that Israel is more important than even the Christians of the Holy Land, the group that originates from the founding fathers and Genesis of Christianity itself.
If American Christians truly cared about Bible Prophecies, or displaying allegiance to their fundamental Christian tenets, then they would be supporting the Christian Arab and Middle East Christians who daily are not only discriminated against in the Arab and Islamic Worlds, but are persecuted by Israel.
Israel is bi-polar when it comes to Christian Arabs. On the one hand, Israel produces propaganda claiming that Israel treats Christians better than the Muslims treat Christians. On the other hand, Israeli policy targets all non-Jews. And that includes Christian Arabs who are Israeli citizens and who live under Israel’s brutal occupation.
The Israelis are not just stealing lands in Palestine that belongs to Muslims. The Israelis are stealing lands in Palestine that belong to Christians, too.
The Israelis are not just persecuting, jailing, punishing and expelling and killing Muslims. The Israelis are also persecuting, jailing, punishing and expelling and killing Christian Arabs.
Mainstream American Christians are ignorant and uneducated about the facts, in part because Israeli propaganda is so strong but more importantly because Christian Arabs are inactive, passive and silent.
Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians have been taught by Jesus to “turn the other cheek” in the face of oppression. But when you have turned the other cheek too many times, I wonder what Jesus would say today? I wonder if he would urge his fellow Christians to come together as one voice and one people. To erase our self-imposed, man-made divisions based on Christian religious differences.
I think Jesus would encourage us to do the right thing. To stand up and protest against wrong-doing. To be disciples of his message of Faith and the cardinal rule of Christianity, treat others the way you would wish to be treated yourself.
We don’t have to compromise our Christian beliefs and opposition to violence to come together and speak in a loud voice to demand justice. And no where is justice more needed than in Israel, which continues to engage in war crimes, oppression and persecution of Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians.
Why start with Israel? Because Israel occupies the origins of Christianity. Bethlehem is under siege. The Israelis are stealing land everyday and giving it to Jewish settlers, religious fanatics who teach their children to hate all Arabs, regardless of your religion.
Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and Nazareth, where Jesus was raised, are today being persecuted.
They need our voices raised to speak out against Israel’s anti-Christian policies.
For those Muslims who insist on making Christians hide and blend in and be silent, I argue that the Christian Arabs are better suited to fight for Palestinian rights for everyone – Christian and Muslim – because Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians have a personal connection with the majority of Americans. We are the same with them. We can influence Americans, who hold the key to Israel’s misconduct.
Muslims need to respect Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians, too, and stop marginalizing us and silencing us and ignoring us. They have no right to do that.
Because if justice is to be brought to Palestine, where Christianity rose, it will come at the hands and hard work of Christian Arabs and Middle East Christians.
But are they ready to take on this just Crusade for Justice?
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and writer. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
This post has been viewed 4136 times.
Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and for TheArabDailyNews.com, and TheDailyHookah.com.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com
Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com www.arabnews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
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