The shame of the Christian world

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The shame of the Christian world
RAY HANANIA
Saudi Gazette Newspaper July 8, 2012

Christians in the Middle East are fast disappearing. Their holy sites are in jeopardy and being threatened every day. Their voices are being silenced and their presence in the leadership of the Arab world is fading.

And yet in America, which is considered the leading Christian country in the world, this plight of their brethren in the Middle East is ignored. American Christians have been brainwashed into believing that Christian Arabs are not Christian at all, but instead are some kind of variation of Muslims and a part of the Islamic faith.

American Christians have turned their back on their own people and they have used racism and stereotype and hatred against Muslims to fuel their failure to stand up for their own religious rights in the Middle East.

And when the issue of Christians in the Middle East comes up, American Christians ignore the reality and turn it into a sinister political issue claiming that Christians are oppressed by Muslims.

Yes, American Christians are willing to ignore the rights and challenges of Christian Arabs but they are willing to exploit them and use them as a means of bashing Muslims in a modern day continuation of the Crusades.

The greatest oppression of Christians is taking place in the backyard of American foreign policy, where Christianity found its roots more than 2,000 years ago. Yes, in Israel which occupies Palestinian lands and holds Palestinian heritage in a brutal headlock of oppression. This Israeli oppression of Palestinians is driven by the fact that the Palestinians are non-Jewish, that they are Muslim and Christian. Christians and Muslims stand together as one people in the face of this Israeli brutality, but they are weak.

They are weak because the people most likely to come to their aid are apathetic and uninvolved and do not care about their plight.

Muslims around the world have stood up for the rights of Palestinians, but only a few weak voices from the Christian world have dared to speak out against Israel’s policies.

And in America, where the Christian world has its base, the Christian community is shamefully silent as Israel oppresses and brutalizes all of the Palestinians, including their Christian brothers.

This past week, Palestinians asked the United Nations to recognize the threat that exists to Christianity in Bethlehem, the little town where Christianity began. The measure was approved but not without strong opposition from Israel and, naturally Israel’s big brother, the United States.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, declared that the Church of the Nativity and the nearby pilgrimage routes in Bethlehem are World Heritage Sites.

Israel objected to the designation asserting that the declaration suggests that the Church of the Nativity is in jeopardy because of Israeli policies. Israel took control of Bethlehem and the West Bank and Jerusalem during its initiated war in 1967. In fact, since 1967, Israel has oppressed the non-Jewish population of Christians and Muslims and confiscated Palestinian owned lands including lands owned by Muslim and Christian religious institutions, mosques and churches.

The Israelis fear that focusing on their oppression of Christians will undermine the control that they have over American foreign policies because the majority of Americans are Christians. They have given up fighting that fear in Europe where support among Christians for Palestinian rights has risen dramatically, but still not enough to affect policy changes.

The Arab world has failed to exploit this strategic asset to help break through the wall of ignorance that imprisons the minds of most Americans who believe that Israel is the victim and the Arab world is the threat. In fact, Israel has nuclear weapons, oppresses and imprisons more civilians than any other country, violates the civil rights of Christians and Muslims, and is engaged in policies to murder dissidents who challenge its policies.

Americans are in an Israeli-controlled media and political headlock refusing to believe the reality and the facts of the situation.

How can the United States justify its refusal to recognize the Church of the Nativity as a Heritage Site, except as a result of this upside down phenomena of American ignorance?

Americans, especially the large Christian population, should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed for ignoring the call for help from fellow Christians. Ashamed for turning their backs on the truth of the brutality that Christian and Muslims experience under Israeli oppression. Ashamed that their great democracy is under the thumb of a foreign nation, Israel, and no one is allowed to challenge that tragedy.

That Christians have abandoned Bethlehem is the greatest shame of the Christian world. With their own backyard in immoral disarray, Americans have no right to lecture other nations on how to conduct themselves.

Despite American rejection, UNESCO has stepped in to save the Church of the Nativity. And that is welcome.

— Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist and radio talk show host. Reach him at www.RadioChicagoland.com

This post has already been read 84 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

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.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. 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