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In the past, we have noted the stand for Israel taken by Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Orthodox priest from Nazareth. This week, Father Gabriel spoke before the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., discussing faith, freedom, and his homeland of Israel:
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Father Gabriel Naddaf, a Nazareth-based Greek Orthodox Christian priest of Aramean background, has become a symbol and vocal witness of the situation for Christians in Israel, and how that differs from the way Christians are treated everywhere else in the Middle East.
Speaking before US congressional leaders in Washington, DC this week, Father Naddaf explained:
“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christians are affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. It is Israel, the Jewish State. In Israel, Christians enjoy good education, employment, welfare, healthcare, and high socio-economic standing. In Israel, Christians have freedom, which no Muslim power has ever offered us.”
In telling the American lawmakers about his own journey of faith, Father Naddaf recalled moving as a young man to the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Haifa, where, in the course of meeting and working with Jews, he discovered that “the idea that I needed to be scared of Jews, or that there was something dangerous about them was simply not true. The myth was shattered.”
It is this same hate-filled misinformation about Israel’s Jews and their intentions that is fueling the current violence centering on Jerusalem.
Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 8:49 AM | Stand For Israel
The recent violence in Israel has become unbearable. Two are dead – a young woman and an IDF soldier – from terrorist stabbings. Four more have died from attacks that saw terrorists drive vehicles into crowds. Riots and fighting threaten daily life in and around Jerusalem. How will it stop? How can it be stopped? Dexter Van Zile writes that one group that could help ease the strife is made up of Christians:
What we see has all the makings of a Third Intifada that will cost hundreds, if not thousands, of people their lives. It will make life more difficult for both Jews and Arabs.
If the violence continues unabated, there will be more checkpoints in the West Bank and it will be more difficult for Palestinians to get into Israel to work or worship in Jerusalem’s Holy Places.
Tourism will decline, costing shop owners in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem the income they need to survive. A Third Intifada will simply be a disaster for Israelis and Palestinians.
Clearly, somebody in Palestinian society needs to come forward and speak words of peace to their fellow Palestinians.
One group that should be in a position are Christians living in Bethlehem, particularly those associated with Bethlehem Bible College and The Holy Land Trust, located nearby.
Both of these institutions were established by the Awad family, a prominent Christian family in Bethlehem.
For the past few decades, these Christians, who have close ties to the Palestinian Authority, have portrayed themselves as a force for peace and development in Palestinian society.
They have done this at Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences organized by Bethlehem Bible College, where Israel is condemned left right and center for its actions and where Palestinian and Arab violence is downplayed or condoned.
These Christian activists now face a test.
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have run over Israelis with their cars in Jerusalem?
Will they condemn their fellow Palestinians who have stabbed Israelis in…Read More » Comments (6) »
Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand for Israel
Last week the United Nations released a report on the ongoing (and worsening) human-rights abuses in Iran. Two news reports discuss this list of Iranian abuses, abuses being performed by the same nation with which the Western world is preparing to make a nuclear agreement. Christian Daily writes that Iran continues to persecute religious minorities (these often being Christians):
A new report released by United Nations complies a list of extreme persecution that religious minorities have faced in Iran including closing down churches, raiding services, arrests without proper warrants, psychological abuse, and death threats.
“At least 49 Protestant Christians are currently detained, many for involvement in informal house churches,” the UN report writes. “In April 2014, security forces reportedly raided an Easter service in a private home in southern Tehran and detained six individuals.”
The 28-page report was compiled together by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Right in the Islamic Republic of Iran. President Hassan Rouhani was elected as Iran’s president in 2013 and promoted a new era of tolerance in the region, but Shaheed’s report shows the persecution of minorities has been prevalent since his election.
In the report, Shaheed also makes note that many religious minorities who are arrested in Iran are not given proper representation or due process in court.
“The Baha’i International Community and Iranian Evangelical Christian leaders added that many of the lawyers who had accepted sensitive Baha’i or Christian cases had been imprisoned or had to flee the country,” the report states.
Before Rouhani was elected he stated, according to Fox News, that, “All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice. Long live citizenship rights!”
Among the pastors that are imprisoned for their faith is Saeed Abedini, who has been in Iranian prison for over a year. His case has received international attention, and last month more than 500 cities in 30 countries held prayer vigils in honor of Pastor Saeed.
An additional pastor detained in Iran is Behnam Irani who…Read More » Comments (6) »
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand For Israel
As the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) battles the U.S.-led coalition intent on stopping its spread, more news has come out on the persecution the terror group has committed against those who don’t share their beliefs. Gatestone Institute’s Raymond Ibrahim reports on how ISIS has emptied the region of its ancient Christian communities, as well as persecution faced by other Christians around the world:
During the Islamic State’s June invasion and consolidation of Mosul, Iraq — where Christians have been present since the first century — countless atrocities against them were committed. Accordingly, the region is now reportedly empty of Christian presence.
The Islamic State, among other acts, reinstituted the collection of jizya, the “tribute” conquered Christians (and Jews) were historically required to pay in order not to be killed in accordance with the Koran (9:29).
In one instance, three Islamic State members burst into the home of a Christian family, demanding the jizya-money. When the father of the house pleaded that he did not have the money, the intruders raped his wife and daughter in front of him. The man was reportedly so traumatized that he committed suicide. Four other Christian women were killed for not wearing the Islamic veil.
Soon after taking over Mosul, the Islamic State also announced that it would destroy all Christian places of worship. Several churches were burned, including the Armenian church near the Al Salam hospital, and the Church of the Holy Spirit, after first being looted and desecrated. A large statue of the Virgin Mary disappeared.
Among the many Christians missing are two nuns from the Daughters of Mary Order, who managed an orphanage for girls in Mosul. It is believed they have been kidnapped …
Kenya: Approximately 50 militants from Somalia’s Islamic Al Shabaab (“the youth”) network attacked two hotels, a police station and other buildings in Mpeketoni, a predominantly Christian town on Kenya’s coast, during the night of Sunday June 15. They chanted “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is Greater!”) and Read More » Comments (24) »
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 at 8:07 AM | Stand For Israel
The Fellowship does all it can to show Israelis and needy Jewish people around the world that they have Christian friends who care for them. This partnership between Christians and Jews has also been demonstrated by Israelis who are helping Christians and other refugees fleeing the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terrorists who have taken over large parts of the Middle East:
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As the battle for the Syrian town of Kobani rages on, 1,000 to 1,500 of its residents are crossing through Turkey into Iraq every day, joining the more than 1.4 million IDPs and 200,000 refugees already in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, according to an IsraAID press statement. “They are coming with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs, and with winter approaching -places in this area get up to 1m of snow and temperatures that drop to -15C – the situation is increasingly desperate,” the statement reads.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 at 3:22 PM | Stand for Israel
While the United Nations has long persecuted Israel, its attempts to blame the Jewish state for war crimes during Operation Protective Edge (while siding with Hamas, who have admitted to war crimes) have been particularly troubling. Now Arutz Sheva reports that one of Israel’s Christian leaders has gone before the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and declared Israel is the only safe place for Christians in the Middle East:
Greek Orthodox priest Father Gabriel Nadaf, a leader of the Aramaean Christian minority in Israel, spoke before the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday in a strong show of support for the Jewish state.
Despite speaking before a body that has consistently condemned Israel – recently it appointed a biased committee to investigate claims of “war crimes” against Israel in Gaza, and praised the human rights “achievements” of Hamas and Islamic State (ISIS) supporter Qatar – Nadaf spoke firmly, calling for the world to stand by Israel against terror.
“Across the Middle East, in the last ten years, 100,000 Christians have been murdered each year. That means that every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” reported Nadaf. “Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. …Those who remain, exist as second if not third class citizens to their Muslim rulers.”
Nadaf continued “in the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. …It is Israel, the Jewish State. Israel is the only place where Christians in the Middle East are safe.”
Speaking immediately after a panel discussion on the “Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” Nadaf called “it is time the world woke up to the fact that those who want to destroy the Jewish State are signing the death warrant on the last free Christians in the Holy Land.”
“Leaders of people, seekers…Read More » Comments (12) »
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Stand for Israel
Earlier this summer, Stand for Israel told you about Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan for the “crime” of refusing to convert to Islam. We then told you that by God’s grace, Meriam had been freed. Speaking to The Telegraph, this woman of incredible faith now tells the story of her ordeal:
The Sudanese mother who was sentenced to hang for refusing to reject Christianity has spoken for the first time about her ordeal, saying she was resolved to keep her faith even if it meant death …
“While I was in prison, some people came to visit me from the Muslim Scholars Association,” she said. “These were imams that created an intervention by reciting parts of the Koran for me. I faced a tremendous amount of pressure.
“I had my trust in God,” she said. “My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believe.”
Ms. Ibrahim, who insisted she had been a Christian all her life, was forced birth in prison to daughter Maya.
“I was supposed to give birth at a hospital outside of prison but they denied that request as well,” she said. “When it was time to give birth, they refused to remove the chains from my ankles. So I had to give birth with chains on my ankles.”
Sudan initially blocked Ibrahim from leaving the country even after its highest court overturned her death sentence in June. The family took refuge at the US embassy in Khartoum. The family returned to Manchester on Aug. 1.
Ms. Ibrahim, who now lives in New Hampshire with her husband Daniel and two children, said other Christian prisoners were told any debts they has would be written off if they converted to Islam.
“I would never leave my faith”, she said, “if you don’t have faith you are not alive.
“I put my life at risk for the women of Sudan and for Christians live under difficult circumstances, persecuted…Read More » Comments (24) »
Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 3:47 PM | Stand for Israel
Stand for Israel has been reporting on the spread of the terror group Islamic State (IS or ISIS), as well as the atrocities they have committed along the way. The San Diego Union-Tribune gives us this story on Iraq’s dwindling Christian community and the terror they’ve faced for too long:
The day the statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down in Baghdad’s Firdos Square in April 2003 — a day that was the basis for some of the most iconic and debated images of the war in Iraq — Sam, an Iraqi Christian who had a job at a barber shop just down the street from all of the action, skipped work.
“I saw everything with my eyes. I was there,” he said.
Like many Iraqis, he saw promise in the falling statue, and initially things were more or less OK. Even with the church bombings, the ransom kidnappings, the faith-based killings, the sectarian fighting between Shiite and Sunni militias, and the random atrocities that marked everyday life in occupied Iraq, Sam and his family were getting by.
That started to change in 2006, when militias made life unbearable even for those trying to keep a low profile. In late 2009, he fled to Jordan. That was after a group of women threatened his wife because she was Christian, and soon after a Shiite militia tried to recruit him. He eventually moved his family to San Diego …
Even now, halfway around the world, he fears persecution because of his religion. He has a lingering regret: “We should have come before.”
But he knows he’s among the lucky. “Some people, they suffered more than us,” he said.
ISIS, the shorthand name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a militant group that wants to create a fundamentalist caliphate, recently claimed much of northern Iraq and has been persecuting Shiite Muslims, Kurds, Christians and other minorities …
For Iraqi Christians, the past decade has been one disaster after another: first the emergence of…Read More » Comments (2) »
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 at 3:56 PM | Stand for Israel
As the Islamic State (IS) has made its way across Syria and Iraq, it has pushed out or killed those it sees as different. Iraq’s Christians – the Assyrians – have been a historically pacifist group. But as IS threatens their very existence, National Geographic’s Rania Abouzeid reports that many Assyrians are considering fighting the terrorist group:
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Iraq’s Assyrian Christians pride themselves on having persisted in their traditional homeland for millennia, even as other civilizations thrived then disappeared, as languages and cultures died out, as ethnic groups melted into the ways and genetic pools of their conquerors.
But today Iraq’s Assyrians, and its Christians in general, fear that their place in this multiethnic, multisectarian mosaic society is shrinking, under severe threat from the ultraconservative Islamist group the Islamic State (IS).
It isn’t the first time that Iraq’s Christians have faced such a foe. The IS’s earlier incarnation, al Qaeda in Iraq—a group that formed after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003—also menaced Christians, and others, prompting tens of thousands to flee into exile.
Now, the particularly harsh nature of the IS’s assault on Christians, Yazidis, Shiite Muslims, and others who do not share allegiance to the IS’s brand of ultraconservative Sunni Islam has led some of Iraq’s Christians to take the unusual step of shedding their historical passivity and consider taking up arms to defend and eventually govern themselves …
“We keep talking about Jesus and peace, and now we’ve reached the point where it’s not enough,” [Assyrian official Harry Sarkis] said in an interview at his party’s headquarters in Dahuk. “The age of waiting for the Peshmerga to take back territory while we sit is over. We took the decision that, with our limited abilities, we will try to participate.”
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 1:35 PM | SFI
Even as the world concentrates on the destruction in Gaza (caused by Hamas firing rockets from civilian sites such as homes, schools, and hospitals), it continues to ignore the plight of Christians across the Middle East. Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, writes in The New York Times that the Jewish people must stand up for oppressed Christians:
Historians may look back at this period and wonder if people had lost their bearings. Few reporters have traveled to Iraq to bear witness to the Nazi-like wave of terror that is rolling across that country. The United Nations has been mostly mum. World leaders seem to be consumed with other matters in this strange summer of 2014. There are no flotillas traveling to Syria or Iraq. And the beautiful celebrities and aging rock stars — why doesn’t the slaughter of Christians seem to activate their social antennas?
I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.
This bond between Jews and Christians makes complete sense. We share much more than most religions. We read the same Bible, and share a moral and ethical core. Now, sadly, we share a kind of suffering: Christians are dying because of their beliefs, because they are defenseless and because the world is indifferent to their suffering.
Good people must join together and stop this revolting wave of violence. It’s not as if we are powerless. I write this as a citizen of the strongest military power on earth. I write this as a Jewish…Read More » Comments (19) »
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 10:35 AM | Stand For Israel