TO STAND OR TO CRAWL
By Paul Merkley.
Here, in a nutshell (from the website Egypt Independent, October 13, 2010), is all the explanation that we need for the abject lives lived by Middle East Christians:
Coptic Bishop of Giza Theodosius violated Coptic Pope Shenouda III’s decree banning Coptic Christians from making pilgrimage to Jerusalem when he left Cairo for the holy city on Wednesday using an Israeli visa. A church source at the Giza Diocese revealed that the bishop’s visit to Israel did not represent his first, noting that he had previously visited the self-proclaimed Jewish state [italics added] to meet with Bishop Abraham, Coptic bishop of Jerusalem …[and to] visit the city’s historic Christian sites … The bishop’s passport already contained a number of Israeli visas, in contravention of Shenouda’s stated position against diplomatic normalization with Israel …. According to the church source, however, the majority of Copts in Giza disapprove of [the Bishop’s] move, especially in light of the fact that many elderly Copts that had requested church permission to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem were refused and threatened with excommunication by church authorities. (http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/defiance-papal-ban-coptic-bishop-sets-out-for-Jerusalem)
We ask: Should “the majority of Copts in Giza” be rejoicing for the Bishop’s opportunity to visit sacred sites in Jerusalem? After all, as his passport discloses, he has repeatedly (but quietly) enjoyed a privilege which they all covet, but dare not seek – the privilege of visiting the Holy Sepulchre before they die?
What a mean-spirited lot these Coptic leaders must be. And what hypocrites!
All of this knuckle-drugging behaviour follows from the determination of Middle East church leaders to avoid contamination with Zionism; and that, in turn, follows from fear of retaliation from Muslim majorities and Muslim-controlled governments for any appearance of fellow-feeling with the Jews.
We must imagine this Coptic Bishop of Giza church leader, at the moment of each of his several previous entries into Eretz Israel, struggling to disguise his contempt for the Israeli authority before he must present his stamped Israeli visa and explain the purpose of his visit – all the time incanting secretly to himself: “Israel does not exist.”
Muslim dogma demands that Israel’s existence be denied because the Prophet insisted that no part of the world into which Islam has come may ever revert to a state of peace under the authority of Jews or Christians. Ergo, Israel cannot in fact exist.
But we must resist the temptation of feeling superior to these Middle East Christian leaders; for in fact the attitude towards Israel of the leaders of all of the mainline churches and of the Roman Catholic church in our part of the world is much harder to justify. Given that, so far at least, our daily life is not lived-out against a background of daily demand for our denunciation of the Jews and the so-called Zionist entity, the determination of liberal church leaders to prove their anti-Zionist credentials in thought, word and deed has to be attributed to simple malice, combined with determination to ingratiate themselves before the worst elements in today’s political world.
In short: Christian anti-Zionism is just a shoddy cover for the age-old anti-Judaism.
Today, the majority of the denominations to which liberal Christians belong regard Israel as an illegal entity. They imagine that it is a religious duty, following (perversely) from Christ’s teaching about loving the oppressed, to support the Muslim campaign to de-legitimize the State of Israel – to reverse the decision by the UN General Assembly of 1947 that invited “a Jewish State and an Arab state” to take their places among the nations of the world.
Liberal Christians recognize that other Christians believe that Israel’s particular and peculiar claim to legitimacy can be supported from the message of prophetic sections of the Old and New Testaments. But being educated people, they dismiss “supernaturalist” arguments. But then, when we turn the discussion from matters of biblical authority to secular grounds and attempt to make a case for Israel on the grounds of history, we encounter a solid wall of ignorance.
Think about this: “The self-proclaimed Jewish state.” It is true that the desire to establish a Jewish State was openly and proudly proclaimed along the course of about a century and a half of “Zionist” activity. But the existence of the Jewish State was accomplished in real time by decision of a two-thirds majority of the nations of the world during the early months of the existence of the United Nations . It was the first matter of major significance accomplished by the United Nations, the last for half a century on which the U.S. and the Soviet Union were agreed. At the time of the debate about Partition of the Mandate of Palestine liberals – religious and secular – embraced the case for “A Jewish State and an Arab State,” as a major step in advancing the cause of civilization in a part of the world desperately lacking principles of order in its public life.
Is there anywhere in the world a State whose coming-into-existence was more deliberately thought-out , more thoroughly “vetted,” more openly debated and then more deliberately decided?
All of the other states of the Middle East – all of them having huge Muslim majorities, most of them making no provision at all for life within their sacred borders for anybody who is not a Muslim — have their doors closed firmly against admission of Jews and are vigorously making life not worth living for their dwindling Christian minorities..
A few months ago, ( November 28, 2015), the Coptic Pope himself (Tawadros II), travelled with a delegation of other Coptic clerics from Cairo to Jerusalem in order to preside over the funeral for Anba Abraham, the Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East. Spokesmen for the Coptic Orthodox Church insisted at that time that such an “exceptional situation” was not significant of any coming change of the church’s stance on Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.
In our own time, Copts have experienced growing persecution at the hands of the Muslim majority of Egypt, who, with the co-operation of ill-disposed academics and poorly-informed journalists in our part of the world, have given currency to the myth that Christianity is a Western religion, imposed on the indigenous Muslims of the Middle East.
The painful truth is that most Christians of the Arab world have no desire to break ranks with Muslims against the Jews. For these Christians, contempt for Jews is founded in theology. For two millennia, these churches have taught that God’s rejection of the Jews follows from their collective act of “deicide.” The evident consequences of this evil act include the destruction of their Second Temple, the end of their communities in the Holy Land and the Diaspora.
But our own church leaders are utterly without excuse for getting down on all fours and crawling along with these bottom-feeders. Particularly difficult for Christian friends of Israel to stomach has been the fact that as Muslim mobs were descending upon the dwindling Coptic Christian minority of Egypt, burning churches and despoiling church-goers, Pope Tawardos was insisting that this was all the work of the Masons and the Jews –who are “Christ-killers … because the New Testament says they are.” (“The Coptic Pope Visits Jerusalem,” Bayview Review, January 11, 2016.)
Leaders of the Western churches must tell their Arab brethren up-front that a non-negotiable condition for lending their assistance to the beleaguered Christians of the Middle East – the Assyrians, the Copts, the Nestorians, the Chaldeans, and the others – is that they must desist from their anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist rhetoric. In other words: they must stop crawling and try standing at long last.