Israel is only Mideast state safe for Christians, envoy to U.S. says
In Wall Street Journal op-ed, Michael Oren compares what he calls the current repression of Christians in the Muslim world to the expulsion of Jews from Arab states.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is safe for Christians, Israel's ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in an op-ed column for the Wall Street Journal on Friday, comparing what he said was the suppression of Christian communities in Arab states to the twentieth-century expulsion of Jews from these nations.
In his article, Oren cited the continuing violence against Egypt's Coptic Christians, the burning of Iraqi churches, a Saudi ban on Christian worship and the desecration of the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank as instances indicating a threat to Christianity in the Muslim world, adding that conversion "to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death."
The Israeli official went on to compare what he called a sweeping action against Christian communities in the Arab world to the expulsion of 800,000 "from Arab countries, mostly following the Six-Day War."
Ultimately, Oren concludes, the only place in the Middle East where Christians aren't endangered, but are actually flourishing, is in Israel.
"Since Israel's founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%," he added.
Oren concluded the article, in which he cites the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the West Bank and Gaza over increased pressure by Islamist groups such as Hamas, by syaing that the "extinction of the Middle East's Christian communities is an injustice of historic magnitude."
"Yet Israel provides an example of how this trend can not only be prevented but reversed. With the respect and appreciation that they receive in the Jewish state, the Christians of Muslim countries could not only survive but thrive," Oren wrote.