Raymond Ibrahim

CBN News Contributor, Middle East and Islam Expert


TwitterTwitter   Facebook Facebook

Subscribe to this Feed

View All CBN News Blogs

View All CBN Blogs

Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Days before the recent Israel/Hamas conflict erupted, the Presbyterian Church USA withdrew $21 million worth in investments from Israel because, as spokesman Heath Rada put it, the Israeli government’s actions “harm the Palestinian people.”

Soon after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church’s move. Netanyahu responded:

It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful. You know, you look at what’s happening in the Middle East and I think most Americans understand this, they see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians—Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. So most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation. You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.

It’s difficult—if not impossible—to argue with Netanyahu’s logic. Indeed, several points made in his one-minute response are deserving of some reflection.

First, the obvious: why is it that self-professed Christians completely ignore the horrific Islamic persecution of fellow Christians in the Middle East, while grandstanding against the Jewish state for trying to defend itself against the same ideology that persecutes Christians?

And he is absolutely right to say that the persecution of Christians in the Mideast has reached a point of “savagery of unimaginable proportions.” Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the atrocities Mideast Christians are exposed to—the slaughters, crucifixions, beheadings, torture and rape—is the absolute silence emanating from so-called mainline Protestant churches in the U.S.

Note also the nations Netanyahu highlighted for their brutal persecution of Christian minorities: Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Indigenous Christians were markedly better off in all three nations before the U.S. got involved, specifically be empowering, deliberately or not, Islamist forces. Now, according to recent studies, Christians in all three nations are experiencing the worst form of persecution around the globe:

  • Libya: Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Gaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. It’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was not the case under Gaddafi.
  • Syria: Christians have been attacked in indescribable ways—wholesale massacres, bombed and desecrated churches, beheadings, crucifixions, and rampant kidnappings—since the U.S.-sponsored “Arab Spring” reached the Levant.
  • Iraq: After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here for graphic images). In the last decade, Christians have been terrorized into near-extinction, with well over half of them fleeing Iraq.

If the Presbyterian Church has problems with governments that persecute people—in this case, the Israeli government’s purported treatment of Palestinians, hence the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from Israel—perhaps it should begin by criticizing its own government’s proxy war on fellow Christians in the Middle East.

Christians are also being targeted in the P.A. territories—by the very same elements the Presbyterian Church is trying to defend.

In 2012, for example, a pastor noted that “animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the P.A. continues to get increasingly worse. People are always telling [Christians],Convert to Islam. Convert to Islam." And in fact, the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christians in Gaza is an ugly reality.”

More recently, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property. “Someone wants to send us away,” wrote Sister Ibraxia in the letter, “but we will not flee.”

Sadly, the hypocrisy exhibited by the Presbyterian Church is not limited to that denomination. Some time back, fifteen leaders from various U.S. Christian denominations—mostly Protestant, including the Lutheran, Methodist, and UCC Churches—asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel, again, in the context of supporting “persecuted” Palestinians.

Yet nary a word from these same church leaders concerning the rampant persecution of millions of Christians at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East—a persecution that makes the Palestinians’ situation pale in comparison.

Other “leftist” Protestants do find time to criticize Muslim persecution of Christians—but only to blame Israel for it. Thus, Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, wrote an article in the Daily Beast ostensibly addressing the plight of Mideast Christians—but only to argue that the source of Christian persecution “ in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

In reality, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, the Arab-Israeli conflict is itself a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason hostility for Israel is much more viral is because the Jewish state holds a unique position of authority over Muslims unlike vulnerable Christian minorities who can be abused at will (as fully explained here).

Little wonder, then, that more Arab Christians—double the number of each of the preceding three years—are now joining the Israel Defense Forces.

They know they can count on basic human rights protection from Israel than from many of their fellow Christians in the West. After all, beyond the sophistry, distortions, and downright lies emanating from some of these Christian denominations, the fact remains: both Jews and Christians are under attack from the same foe and for the same reason: they are non-Muslim “infidels” who need to be subjugated.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Monday, July 21, 2014 3:35 PM

Comments on this post

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

let's make it clear that it is Presbyterian USA that criticizes Israel. I belong to a Presbyterian church that supports Israel.
Left by Dennis on Jul 22, 2014 12:53 AM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

I left this on Heath Rada's webpage. Thought you might like a copy
I was browsing and found the comment that the Presbyterian Church had withdrawn $22million from investment in Israel. If it was your own money, you could do with it as you will. If the money came from offerings then should it not be considered 'GOD's Money'. If the latter then I hope you prayed long and hard before reaching the decision that can only be seen as a condemnation of Israel.

If the Israeli State lays down its weapons, it will be annihilated. If the Moslem nations lay down their weapons there will be PEACE.

I am a Scot, was raised Presbyterian in the Church of Scotland, was confirmed and married in St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Stranraer. My three elder children were Christened there so there is a lot of John Knox in me. However your action in condemning Israel make me wonder about how much you have room to condemn it in the light of the number of nations that USA attacked and civilians died who h
Left by stewartinoz on Jul 22, 2014 1:19 AM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Part2.I could list Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Vietnam etc.

Israel issues warnings to the areas in GAZA where it will attack and advising the civilians to leave. HAMAS tells them to stay. HAMAS makes a song and a dance about a hospital and school being attacked (and losing the missiles stored there). HAMAS sends in suicide bombers, armed incursions into Israel through the tunnels. HAM|AS has sent and is continuing to send randomly targeted rockets into civilian areas in Israel.

Israel sets up a field hospital to treat injured Palestinian civilians crossing the border. HAMAS tortures and kills kidnapped Israeli boys and laughs. Israel zealots retaliates and kills a Palestinian boy. Benny promised the 3 perps will get the full force of the law.

I have walked round the Temple Mount in peace (controlled by Islamics). Christians and Jews are being killed in GAZA and elsewhere in the Middle East and Sudan and you condemn Israel.
I am disgusted.
Left by stewartinoz on Jul 22, 2014 1:22 AM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Part 1A. It got missed in between 1 and 2.

who had no intention of attacking USA.
Left by stewartinoz on Jul 22, 2014 1:26 AM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Yes, as another has already noted, let us be clear that this is the action of the PCUSA. There are several other Presbyterian denominations that support Israel's right to defend itself.
Left by Ed on Jul 22, 2014 11:56 AM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

I would not want to be them when they face a Holy and just God. How can an entire Christian ( I am using that term loosely here) church be that spiritually blind. We need to pray for them.
Left by Anonymous on Jul 22, 2014 5:51 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

When a church ceases to renounce fundamental Biblical principals and concepts, replacing it w/ man's opinions, it cease to exist as part of the Universal Christian Church led by the Holy Spirit of God. Pray for the Peace of Israel and for the Persecuted Church--which is the heart of God. There are many Christian and Jewish ministries that are serving the immediate needs of the persecuted and Israel, sow your seed (money)into them where it will do the most good--we are not bound or limited to what governments do or do not do, we are temporary citizens of the God Most High who stand together united before a Holy God eternally.
Left by Susan on Jul 22, 2014 8:18 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Left by The Bride of Christ on Jul 24, 2014 2:37 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Only recently have I been informed of what the Israelis are up against and they have my sympathy. However, I believe that the church mentioned probably does not have 21 million dollars to send anybody.
Second, the media cannot be trusted to report on how Israel "treats" Palestinians/Muslims. Palestinians/Muslims break the ninth commandment as they exhale.
Left by yeahisaidthat on Jul 28, 2014 3:37 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Pray for Presbyterian church USA.May the Lord open their eyes to see clearly
Left by chundung wang on Aug 04, 2014 6:03 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Many members of the PCUSA, including myself, are appalled at the stand of the General Assembly of our denomination. Many individual churches would like to pull out of the PCUSA. However, the Presbyterian Church USA is set up in a way that if the membership of a church pulls out, they will lose their church building and property to the organization. There is much consternation within the PCUSA currently because many of us definitely DO NOT agree with what the General Assembly has been endorsing lately. Pray for us, that God will put our hierarchy back on track biblically.
Left by Shihtzumom on Nov 16, 2014 4:25 PM

# RE: Presbyterian Church USA Criticizes Israel, Ignores Christian Persecution

Ist. John 2:18-19; Little children,it is the last time,and as ye have heard that antichrist (anti-jesus) shall come,even now are there many antichrists,by which we know that it is the last time (end time).19 They went out from us,but they were not of us,for if they had been part of us,they would no doubt have continued with us,but they went out,that they might manifest that they were not all of us.
Matthew 7:15-20 False & true teachers you will know them by the fruits they bare. Some day they will see face to face Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews,the King of Glory. Matthew 7:21-23;false christians.
Left by PASTOR D.FRANCIS on Jan 07, 2015 7:25 AM