It is dangerous for the West to accept Arab anti-Semitic propaganda voiced by some Christian leaders in the Middle East; they are held hostage by the Muslim majority around them. Since the age of the internet, even many Arabs have stopped buying Arab propaganda.
A recent mark was retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of State. Wilkerson recently said on MSNBC, during the recent Temple Mount crisis, that Jews pose the biggest threat to Christians in the Middle East. He learned this, he said, in 2002-2003 in Ramallah, during a business trip to meet with Yasser Arafat, from a Middle Eastern Catholic Bishop, who had told him that the biggest enemy for Christians in the region was not the Arabs but the Jews. So, Wilkerson, instead of condemning countless unprovoked terror attacks against Israelis, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It is most unfortunate that a former high-ranking State Department official decided to blame Israel during the recent crisis, in which Jews were the obvious victims. It is more than unfortunate that Wilkerson took the Bishop's statement at face value instead of recognizing the complexities of the Middle East, where "no" and "yes" rarely mean "no" and "yes".
It is most unfortunate that Lawrence Wilkerson, a former high-ranking State Department official, decided to blame Israel during the recent crisis, in which Jews were the obvious victims. (Image source: MSNBC video screenshot)
Despite the glaring truth that there is oppression of Christians in the Middle East, Wilkerson evidently does not know that the flock of the Ramallah Bishop live in an Arab city, speak and pray in Arabic, and in an era of Arab nationalism, many believed they were Arab first and Christian second.
Egypt's former President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, had changed the country's name to the "United Arab Republic," then later, under President Anwar al-Sadat, to the "Arab Republic of Egypt" -- a name that instructed every Coptic Christian in Egypt they were Arab first. Lebanon, which was then a majority Maronite Christian country, joined the Arab League as an Arab state. If Lebanon had refused, the consequences would have been dire. Therefore, to the Bishop, the biggest enemy in the region might well have appeared not to be Arabs (his flock), but Jews.
Many Arab Christians are doubtless anti-Semitic, possibly caused by many factors, but one surely is that throughout the Middle East, Christians have been subjected to the same anti-Jewish propaganda as Muslims -- which results in anti-Semitism. Christian children are fed the same education, filled with hatred of Jews, in Arab schools; they teach lies such as, "Jesus was a Palestinian", "Jerusalem was an Arab City conquered by Jews", "Jews are behind all the ills of Arab society", "Yasser Arafat was poisoned by Israelis", "Jews killed Christ and all the prophets", "Muhammad was poisoned by a Jewish woman", "Israeli medicine is sterilizing Arab men", and so on; the variations are endless.
Arabic propaganda can be found everywhere, in fact, rewriting history. Just check the daily translations of Arab media from reliable sources such as MEMRI or Palestinian Media Watch. Even though accusations in the Arab media against Israel are false, the Western media are not interested in exposing them.
Middle East Christians, unfortunately, are as much under attack as Jews. They have been deprived for centuries of knowing who their true friends are, and are sensibly terrified of saying anything might bring them further harm. Christians in Egypt have already erased the Hebrew roots of Christianity there.
Sadly, Christians in the region, instead of recognizing that Jews are probably their natural allies, have ended up falling into the Middle Eastern trap of trying to appease the Muslim majority around them, and subscribing to its sweeping anti-Semitism.
It is, further, in the best interest of extremist Muslims to keep Jews and Christians separated by animosity and distrust. Any Christian sympathizing with Jews has usually been deemed a "collaborator" against Muslims. Such a "betrayal" in turn, is often regarded as a violation of the protected status given to Christians as "dhimmis" -- non-Muslim, barely-tolerated, second-class residents, relegated to apartheid laws and higher taxes to "protect" their lives and property.
After centuries of persecution, often genocidal, or dhimmitude under sharia, Christianity in the Middle East has been stunted, if not effectively crushed. To avoid discrimination in the workplace, Christians gave their children Arab names instead of Biblical ones. Their religious celebrations are kept indoors, lest Christian festivities offend Muslims. As in psychological condition known as the Stockholm Syndrome, Middle East Christians have often ended up defending and even praising Islam, despite this frequently coming at the expense of their own religious rights.
Even here in the United States, many Coptic Christian immigrants avoid talking about Islam altogether; sometimes, in fear for their families still back in Egypt, they ardently defend Islam. Although they are now living here in American freedom, in their minds they are still back there.
When, a few years ago, in a chance meeting with the Egyptian Coptic Pope in a US airport, when I mentioned my conversion to Christianity, and support for the rights of Christians in the Middle East and for Israel, he did not reply, but looked around us fearfully, as though checking if had anyone heard or perhaps recorded our conversation. One could not feel offended; it was simply a sad reminder of the reflexive fear Egyptian Christians still have of the spying ears of the Egyptian Mukhabarat secret police -- even in an American airport.
It is stunning to see is how on the one hand, the US State Department and media play down the genocide going on today against Christians in the Middle East, but on the other hand, immediately believe Muslims when one of their leaders tells an American delegation that he does not fear Arabs but fears Jews.
What the State Department would do well to understand is that when they deal with Arabs, Christian or Muslim, in the Middle East, anything they say should always be received guardedly, with skepticism. If Wilkerson's business trip had taken him to Cairo, Baghdad or Saudi Arabia, instead of Ramallah, he would most likely have heard the same thing, but unfortunately that does not make it true. Muslims have been trying to conquer the West since the seventh century. They succeeded in spreading throughout Persia, the great Christian Byzantine Empire in Turkey, North Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, Southern Spain -- and recently Northern Cyprus and much of South America.
With many branches of the US government apparently determined to distort reality, there seems to be a series of deliberate decisions to ignore -- and to prevent the American public from knowing -- what is really going on.
"Politically incorrect" language has been censored by the State Department, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the previous executive branch, and, most recently, the National Security Council, which recently seems to have purged the entire department.
These kinds of Orwellian bowdlerizations can only end up hurting American national security and its relationships in the Middle East and worldwide.
Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of "Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values"