Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday 12 August 2012

"Alone, Frightened, & Struggling": The Jewish Remnant in Egypt (video)

Last week, columnist Jeffrey Goldberg wrote here of the visceral antisemitism that has Egypt's masses in its grip:
".... Anti-Semitism, the socialism of fools, is becoming the opiate of the Egyptian masses. And not just the masses. Egypt has never been notably philo-Semitic (just ask Moses), but today it’s entirely acceptable among the educated and creative classes there to demonize Jews and voice the most despicable anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Careerists know that even fleeting associations with Jews and Israelis could spell professional trouble.
The level of anti-Semitism in Egypt has consequences, of course, for Middle East peace and for the safety of Jews. But, importantly, it has consequences for the welfare of Egypt itself. The revolution that overthrew the country’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, held great promise, but it also exposed the enormous challenges facing Egyptian politics and culture. And anti-Semitism, if nothing else, has always been a sign of a deeply damaged culture...."
This video underlines that antisemitism, and of the danger facing the pitiful Jewish remnant living in Egypt today, the last representatives of a once flourishing community.

Also suffering, of course, are the Christians of Egypt, as many news reports make clear. 

The Arab Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes, at the end of an article that's well worth reading:
'In the past two years, tens of thousands of Christians have fled Egypt, mainly due to the rise of Muslim fundamentalists to power. Recurring attacks on Christian families and property and failure of the Egyptian authorities to employ a tougher policy against the fundamentalists have led many Christians to reach the conclusion that they have no future not only in Egypt, but in other Arab countries where radical Muslims are rising to power.
Christian fears are not unjustified. Muslim fanatics will continue to target Christians because they consider all non-Muslims "infidels." If the fanatics cannot tolerate moderate and secular Muslims, why should they be expected to accept those who belong to other faiths?
While the number of Christians in the Arab world continues to decline, Israel remains the only country in the Middle East where they feel safe and comfortable. That explains why Christians living in Israel have been appealing to Israel to open its borders to absorb their brothers who are fleeing from the Gaza Strip, Bethlehem, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Sudan.'
This clearly undermines a recent assertion by Jeremy Moodey, chief executive of the British NGO BibleLands (see here for its most recent statement regarding Israel) that:
"It is a Western conceit that all Arab Christian communities are persecuted minorities and need our help to save them from Islamic fundamentalism. Most Middle East Christians are deeply embedded in their societies, with roots which pre-date even the rise of Islam. Indeed, they are closer to the Oriental origins of Christianity than many Western Christians. They have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbours for centuries. The Arab Spring has led to a resurgence of Islamism, but it is not inevitable that this will lead to persecution of religious minorities. The overtures of the new Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt to the country’s Coptic community are evidence that the new pluralism could benefit not harm the region’s Christians.
In a sense, it suits us Western Christians to see our co-religionists in the Middle East as ‘victims’. In this way we can live out, vicariously, our own fears of Islamic fundamentalism. But this is not how Middle East Christians always see themselves. Their rootedness in their communities means that they have always been outwardfacing, expressing their faith and relating to their Muslim neighbours through social action. They are living examples of “salt and light”, in the very land where Jesus used these powerful metaphors, and we Christians in the West should encourage them in this ministry.”
 To quote an old adage: None so blind as those who won't see.

Update: see my next post for more regarding BibleLands


  1. Since she cites me in her blog, I challenge 'Daphne Anson' to speak to Coptic Christians to see whose analysis - mine or Khaled Abu Toameh's - is more accurate. And I wish it were true that "Israel remains the only country in the Middle East where [Christians] feel safe and comfortable". Since most Israeli Christians are Palestinian, and therefore treated as second-class citizens in the Jewish State, this is far from the case. The discrimination against them has been well documented by Israeli human rights NGOs such as Adalah and ACRI. One of the harshest Israeli laws affecting Palestinian Christians is the so-called Family Reunification Law, which even some Jewish Knesset members have described as racist. Israel's defenders emphasise Muslim persecution of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East as a means of deflecting attention from Israel's violation of international law and its oppression of the Palestinian people.

    1. Mr Moodey

      All Israeli citizens are equal before the law.

      Many enemy aliens have married Israeli citizens in order to gain access to our country and exploit that freedom to commit acts of terror, murdering our citizens. For this reason applications for 'family unification'are dealt with on a case by case basis.

      I see that you expect members of the Knesset to support the state, but since we are a free democracy, this is not a requirement and you may be amused or shocked or just incredulous when you find people holding the highest positions who decry their own second class status

    2. Mr Moodey, I have Coptic contacts in Australia, and feel the deep anguish they express on behalf of their friends and relatives in Egypt. I have posted several times in the past about this issue. With regard to what Margie has posted, I cite the MK Haneen Zoabi as a case in point. She has just been in Ulster defaming Israel, yet as a woman she is enjoying more rights in the "Jewish State" she so despises than she would in many Arab lands. It was in Israel that Arab women were first enfranchised in the Middle East. As for Khaled Abu Toameh, he is a highly respected journalist, a Muslim himself, and I certainly trust his report.

    3. You do yourself no justice by quoting from two of the most leftist groups involved in the de-legitimisation of the State of Israel.

      I have no idea who funds ACRI, but it’s a well-known fact that Adalah is funded by one of the most antisemitic/racist organisations in the world, THE FORD FOUNDATION.

      “”An investigative report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reveals that the Ford Foundation (FF) has been a major funder of numerous Palestinian and Israeli groups involved in de-legitimising and demonising Israel, including groups such as LAW that turned the UN Conference Against Racism in Durban into an anti-Semitic hate fest.

      ...through its Cairo office, Ford has extended more than $35 million in grants to some 272 Arab and Palestinian organizations during the two-year 2000-2001 period alone -- the most recent years for which data is available -- plus 62 grants to individuals that total more than $1.4 million." (from Part 1 of report) “”

      To cast aspersions on one of the regions most respected journalists, also does you no justice. I have personally met Khaled Abu Toameh, and spoken with at length with him, on a few occasions. He describes himself as an Israeli/Arab/Muslim who lives in a Jewish area in Jerusalem, his children attend school WITH Jewish children, he writes for Israeli and International organisations and would dearly like to be able to write for Arab/ME publications, but he can’t as they will not permit the truth to be published. I can vouch for that as I post, or at least try to post, on such publications and the moment I speak the truth about an issue, the comment isn’t published.

      He visits his mother regularly in Shechem, so named in 72 CE, called by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria Nablus. He tells of the fact that Arabs there would very much like to be residents of Israel, they welcome the freedoms that go with Israeli citizenship

      Instead of challenging 'Daphne Anson' to speak to Coptic Christians, try me. The Coptic Christian of whom she speaks, is a very close and dear friend of mine. I have spoken in length many times with him, he is deeply distressed by the treatment of the Copts in Egypt. I have been to a few rallies in Sydney, in support of the Copts.

      I receive almost daily reports of the atrocities being committed against the Egyptian Copts. Like the Jews who lived in Egypt for centuries, they too will be extinct soon.

    4. Furthermore, Mr Moodey, two points:
      1. The citations from the NGOs don’t indicate any “persecution of Christians". The NGO reports summarize (their version of) the impact of Israeli policies on Israeli Arabs, regardless of religion. Their assessment is arguable, but the point here is that Israeli Christians aren’t targeted by any special policy. In fact, the economic-inequality claims in the NGO reports don’t apply to Israeli Christians at all, 80-plus percent of whom are Arabs, and who actually have a higher employment rate than the national Israeli average, and are highly educated and own property at the same rate as the national average. Economically, educationally, Christians are not disadvantaged in Israel; in some indicators, they outperform the average. (See first link below for data citations.)

      2. The Christian population of Israel continues to grow, from 130,000 in 2000 to 153,000 in 2010. Christians aren’t fleeing, they’re arriving, for various reasons. (See the Goldman link below.) These next links have the data on population figures:

      David Goldman had an interesting piece on Christians in Israel in 2010:

      There is no evidence and no traction for the idea that Christians suffer persecution in Israel. Seriously: there are Christians and high-profile Christian organizations all over Israel operating in freedom and safety 365 days a year - don’t spin the argument to give the impression that Israel displays an animus against Christians or Christianity. The Communists have so acted against Christians for decades, and the Islamists do it now. Israel doesn’t.

    5. As I say, most Christians in Israel are Palestinian, so they suffer discrimination along with their Muslim Palestinian neighbours. Palestinian Christian leaders, including bishops, tell me that the Family Reunification Law has a particularly severe impact on their community, because the Palestinian Christians are so small in number (the Christians having fled from the occupation not Islamism) it is inevitable that Christians will look across the separation barrier for potential spouses. And contrary to what 'Margie' claims, they are not all terrorists!

      Everyone on this blog is praying in aid 'friends'. So let me mention my friend. whom I shall call Salim (not his real name). Salim is a Palestinian Christian who lives in Bethlehem but has fallen in love with a girl from Galilee, who obviously has Israeli citizenship. They are now engaged to be married. If she were Jewish, they could have a wonderful engagement party, go on honeymoon together and live and work where they want. But she is Palestinian. Supposedly an Israeli citizen with full rights. Except that if she marries a Palestinian from the West Bank (not uncommon, since they come from the same nation) he cannot obtain Israeli citizenship (only residence, if he is lucky), cannot work in Israel, cannot even drive in Israel, cannot bring his family to Israel for the engagement party (as is the Palestinian custom) and they cannot even leave for the honeymoon together (because he would have to go via Amman and his fiancée by Tel Aviv). All because of Israel's Family Reunification Law.

      There is a growing intolerance of Christianity within Israel, largely because of the emergence of the Orthodox Right. This is evidenced by the pictures of MK Michael Ben-Ari tearing up a New Testament, and also pictures of so-called "price-tag attacks" on Christian churches.

    6. Yes, I noticed how zealous certain anti-Israel Christian sites have been to draw attention to Ben-Ari's antics. He is no more representative of israel and Israelis than the American pastor who threatened to burn the Koran is of Christian America.

    7. This article also blows the wind out of your sails, Mr Moodey:

    8. I totally agree with Daphne's point
      "The Christian population of Israel continues to grow"

      Israel is the only country in the entire middle east where The Christian population grows"

      while christians and coptics are being persecuted in all islamic countries.

  2. The Egyptian press is an ocean of anti-Semitic cartoons published in it, as well as the curricula in schools, also reflect hatred.

    What feeds this hatred?

    Perhaps there is no acceptance by Egyptians of Israel right to live free, prosperous and in security.

  3. Another comment for Jeremy Moodey

    On the evening of 31 December, Mariam "Mariouma" Fekry, a Coptic Egyptian young woman living in Alexandria, logged into her Facebook account to express her hopes for the new year and pray to God to protect her. She wrote: "2010 is over.....this year has the best memories of my life....really enjoyed living this year......I hope 2011 is much better.......i hav so many wishes in 2011....hope they come true.....plz god stay beside me & help make it all true. :)"

    Just hours after writing this message, Mariam was killed, along with her mother, her aunt and her younger sister, Martina. They were attending a midnight mass held at the Two Saints' Coptic church in Alexandria in celebration of the new year when a huge bomb exploded outside the church door, leaving many innocent people dead and injured. The explosion rocked the very foundation of Egyptian society, creating yet another scar in the festering wounds of Muslim-Coptic relations.

    - Amira Nowaira, “The Slow Death of Tolerance in Egypt”, The Guardian, 5 January 2011

  4. Remember this JM. Once the extremist muslims get through with the Saturday people they start on the Sunday people.

  5. In response to Jeremy Moodey’s challenge as to whose testimony is more reliable – his or Khaled Abu Toameh’s I will say Khaled’s hands down.

    Nobody is arguing that Palestinian Christians have it perfect in Israel, but by any reasonable metric, Palestinian Christians have it better in the Jewish state than they do anywhere else in the Middle East. It is this reality that makes the activism who invoke the suffering of Palestinian Christians as the reason why they obsess so much about Israel so troubling.

    If the desire were to promote human rights and dignity, the focus would not be on Israel, but on Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in these countries suffer terribly at the hands of Muslim extremists throughout the globe and yet, we see a disproportionate amount of “activism” directed at Israel.

    To make matters worse, Palestinian Christians are loath to condemn their countrymen for their misdeeds. Sami Awad, for example leader of the Holy Land Trust, is loath to acknowledge the role the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem played in the deaths of Jewish children during the Holocaust in Europe. And he is also loath to acknowledge the role the Grand Mufti played in spreading anti-Semitism throughout the Middle East. And yet he purports to speak about the impact of the Holocaust on Jews living in Israel.

    When Jeremy Moodey invokes Israeli human rights activists to defend his claim that Palestinian Christians are treated poorly, he inadvertently gives the game away. Israeli and Jewish activists promote the human rights and dignity of Palestinians – Christian and Muslim – in ways that Palestinian activists and their allies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip simply do not. For all their distorted testimony, groups like B’Tselem and Rabbis for Human Rights testify to a tradition of respect for the other that simply is not present in Muslim-majority societies.

    Jeremy Moodey talks about two star-crossed lovers who cannot be together because of Israeli restrictions. It is sad. It’s a problem. But the fact remains, Palestinian leaders have kept the people they lead in a state of war with the Jewish state for years. Actions like this have consequences on individual lives. Jeremy talks about this problem as if it is solely Israel’s fault and it simply isn’t.

    Muslim doctrine regarding non-Muslims and women represents the great human rights challenge of the 21st Century and Islamist ideology represents the great threat to world peace as well. People who still obsess about Israel are behind the curve.

    1. An excellent, inspirational riposte. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to comment.

  6. It seems the BBC is getting into the act. I'm told (hat tip YM):
    Samia Sidhom, editor of the Coptic newspaper Al-wattani of Egypt, was interviewed by BBC's Peter Dobbie just now
    and he asks/tells her if the situation should be better with Morsi replacing Tantawi and she reacts: "why should you say that?"
    and he replies, "well, the younger Army generation is more tolerant" and she again pushes back, "no, they aren't".

  7. By what measure can Khaled Abu Toameh be regarded as impartial? He writes for the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Post as well as the fairly loony Gatestone Institute, founded by the pro-Israel and Islamophobic neo-con Nina Rosenwald. His 2010 article suggesting that Palestinians in East Jerusalem are happy to remain under Israeli occupation is a travesty of the truth, as any street survey in East Jerusalem would surely reveal. He is probably the only Palestinian in the world who believes that illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are not the principal obstacle to a negotiated peace. No wonder he is the darling of the Zionist lobby; after all, Melanie Phillips calls him an "unflinching truth-teller". Anyone with Mad Melanie's nihil obstat has got to be pretty suspect in my book.

    1. "the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Post ... the pro-Israel and Islamophobic neo-con" ... "the Zionist lobby" ... "Mad Melanie" - these phrases speak volumes, Mr Moodey.
      While emphatically not, as you imply, a mere echo chamber for Israeli government views (hence the strength of Israeli pluralism and democracy), Abu Toameh is, if I recall correctly, on record as saying that he would rather live, as an Arab, in Israel, than anywhere else in the ME. He is by no means alone in that view.
      I'm afraid the link to the poll I cite there is broken, but the poll and similar ones can be found readily enough.

    2. Daphne, maybe Moodey compiles his posts with an ISM “Mad Libs” kit?

      What a condescending useful idiot, Moodey is. His argument is basically that every Arab Christian who has left Muslim countries is wrong. Census data is more accurate than any poll, people have voted with their feet, deal with it.

      The best thing Toameh has going for him is that Mooddey and Abu Mazen want him to shut up.
      The Silence Abbas and the PA Want You to Hear

    3. At least, unlike my Methodist ministerial friends, Mr Moodey argues his case, though I can't for the life of me fathom his logic.

    4. When he carries on like a first year arts student, it doesn’t help.

      I might have posted this before, it really sums up what’s wrong with many Christian churches.

      Protestants’ crisis
      “The same amorphous theology that has blurred the boundaries between mainline Protestantism and left-wing secularism has also led to a steady decline in membership.”

    5. Thanks. I'll have a look.
      I see William Dalrymple, no fan of Israel, acknowledges the plight of Christians in the ME:
      Surely Jeremy's blinkers must fall!

  8. Jordan renounced its claim to Judea and Samaria in 1988, and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, recognising its current border, the only other possible valid legal claim, defined in the Mandate, is that of Israel; Palestinians have no claim because the area was never a Palestinian state.

    By extension, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is legal and legitimate because it did not acquire territory belonging to another state or legal entity.

  9. Daphne I have just been in contact with my Egyptian Coptic Christian friend and asked him to comment here.

    1. Meanwhile, here's a new article re the plight of the Copts

  10. Rita, thanks for the link

  11. Interesting Abu Toameh report re Jordan:



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