Thoughts and Truth from the Impossible Life

Bed Bath and Beyond Support Israel

I have posted this to Bed, Bath & Beyond Facebook page and emailed it to their corporate office:

I formally request that Bed Bath & Beyond not give in to the insane pressure of CODEPINK to remove Ahava and SodaStream products from your stores. CODEPINK completely is wrong in the position about the Israeli issues in the Middle East and these companies provide good jobs for their employees, both Israeli and non-Israeli which provides stability to the area.

(I purposesly didn’t put Palestinian employees since there is no such people as Palestinian, but rather displaced Arabs from Jordan, Syria, etc. when they were disenfranchised from those countries of which they had previously been members. It is a recent invention to talk of Palestinian people. This identity didn’t previously exist prior to the Arab War of Aggression against Israel, also know as the Six-day War.)

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Middle East Christians Under Attack

A few years ago I was in the West Bank with a Christian missionary who worked among Jews and Muslims. The Jewish converts came to his home for Sunday services that were held in both English and Hebrew. But to gather with Arab converts he had to meet them secretly on the outskirts of their town lest his mere presence put their lives in jeopardy.

“My brother became a Christian at the same time as I did,” one Palestinian told me. “But neither of us knew of the other’s conversion for many years. It would have been too dangerous, until the missionary was certain of our conviction.”

We were sitting in a clearing in the brush that was one of the converts’ meeting places. I imagined that Jesus and his disciples must have prayed in places like this, maybe even here. An Israeli Defense Forces patrol passing on the nearby road stopped to see what was going on. The missionary explained to the officer in charge, who nodded and went on his way.

“My brother and I converted because we knew we needed love in our lives,” the Palestinian continued. “I think that Jesus is going to bless the Palestinian people by spreading his gospel of love here.”

Perhaps someday, but for now the Christians of the Middle East are facing danger. Both recent converts and ancient congregations—the Assyrians in Iraq, the Copts in Egypt, Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, and more, long antedating Islam—are under fire. The land where Christianity began is being cleansed of Jesus’ followers. It is possible that we will soon see an event without precedent: the end of a living Christian witness in this region after more than 2,000 years.

So why now? And how did Christians manage to thrive here in the past?

“We survived, but not the way we wanted to,” says Habib Efram, president of the Syriac League of Lebanon, which represents some 60,000 Syriac Christians. Efram often visits the much larger Syriac Christian community in Iraq, which is under siege. “Some were forced to leave the country, and there have been massacres,” Efram tells me on the phone from Beirut.

“The Christians have always been under attack,” explains Lebanese political analyst Elie Fawaz. “Our numbers used to be much higher throughout the Middle East. We were here centuries before the Muslims, so there used to be many more Christians, until the raids and conversions to Islam.”

In Mt. Lebanon, the country’s Christian heartland, there’s a valley called Wadi Qadisha where the Maronites held off the Mamluk sultans in the 13th century. It was partly geography that ensured the survival of Lebanon’s Christian community. The Mediterranean coast provided access to European powers—the Vatican and France—that have long seen themselves as the protectors of Lebanon’s Christians; and the high mountain passes afforded a vantage point that turned hostile incursions into suicide missions as the Christians picked off intruders one by one. It is no coincidence that Hezbollah has bought and expropriated property in Lebanon’s mountains. There the party can survey not only its Israeli enemy, but its local Christian foes as well, whom Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies have targeted in a series of assassinations over the last six years.

“The Maronites are politicized,” says Fawaz. “You cannot compare them to Iraqi Christians.” That is, Lebanon’s Christians are under attack from rivals who wish to take their power, while Iraq’s and Egypt’s besieged Christian sects are powerless to defend themselves against superior numbers, and no one is willing or able to protect them.

Even rhetorical defenses of the Christians are cautious. Pope Benedict, like popes before him, chooses his words carefully when addressing the situation of Middle Eastern Christians, lest they be made to pay for perceived slights. Arab nationalists and Sunni Islamists assume that any discussion of regional minorities—whether Christians, Jews, or even Shia—by outsiders is coded language for a project to colonize the Middle East on behalf of the great powers. To be sure, the French did come to the aid of the Maronites in Lebanon in 1860 to end the war between them, the Druze, and their Ottoman overlords. And after the First World War, France held the mandate for Lebanon and rewarded what was then a Christian majority with a constitution that gave most of the power to the Maronites.

Lebanon’s civil war from 1975 to 1990 was largely a product of shifting demographics and a changing political culture. While the Christian community fought to preserve the state’s territorial integrity and avoid war with Israel, the country’s increasingly numerous Sunnis wanted to attach themselves to the great Arab cause—Palestine—and open the border with Israel to the Palestinian resistance. After the war, the Taif Agreement of 1989 gave more political say to the Sunnis and Shia. It made official what everyone knew: Lebanon’s Christians had lost.

“We don’t want foreign support,” says Habib Efram, by which he means a Western military adventure on behalf of the Christians. “We don’t want the West thinking of Christians as puppets of the West, using us for their agenda. We are from the Middle East and belong here.”

What they want, he says, is something like a Marshall Plan for Middle East Christians—“Some money to build schools and other programs.” “The United States,” he continues, “can also ensure that Christian minorities are fairly represented in their parliaments. The Copts make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population, and yet there are only 2 or 3 elected Coptic representatives and another few named by the government. The Copts should have at least 40 seats out of the 500-seat parliament. In Iraq, even with only 3 percent of the population the Christians should have 14 members of parliament.” Instead, they have only 2.

It is a fantasy of U.S. omnipotence familiar in the region. It would take U.S. troops, of course, to ensure the safety of U.S.-backed programs; nor could a more robust representation of Christians in weak Arab assemblies—even if the United States had a way of bringing it about—prevent the murder of Christians by mobs or terrorists. Efram’s hazy plan seems the wishful thinking of a minority under fire with nowhere to turn.

Efram attributes the rise in anti-Christian violence to the virulent strain of radical Islam that began with the Muslim Brotherhood and now comes in both Sunni and Shia variants. Arab security services fight Islamist groups when it suits regime interests—and it is dangerous for regimes to be perceived as siding with Christians against the Muslim majority. Thus, every day brings a fresh outrage against Egypt’s Copts, while the Cairo government’s notoriously active, and vicious, security services sit idly by. In Iraq, some Christians even long for the reign of Saddam Hussein and his Christian deputy, Tariq Aziz, who protected them.

That notion of “protection” has a particular history. Since the Arab conquests beginning in the mid-seventh century, Christians and Jews under Muslim rule were recognized as “people of the book.” In theory, they were protected minorities, or dhimmi. But they could not enjoy equality with the Muslim, typically Sunni, majority, and the lot of dhimmis varied with the disposition of the rulers. That Saddam, for instance, “protected” Christians to some degree did not ensure that his sons would have done the same.

And as for the glory days of Middle Eastern coexistence that supposedly preceded the rise of the present extremists, the Ottomans’ slaughter of the Armenians and other Christians belies it. As long as believers are without legal rights guaranteed by governments willing and able to enforce them, the Christian presence in the region will be in peril.

Lee Smith is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.

Original Article Here:

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Christianity / God, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam, World Affairs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Islamic Countries Dominate Open Doors 2011 World Watch List

Islamic Countries Dominate Open Doors 2011 World Watch List

SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan. 5, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ — Despite Communist North Korea topping the annual Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) for the ninth consecutive year, the most dangerous countries in which to practice Christianity are overwhelmingly Islamic ones.

That paragraph should be printed on a little business card, convenient for us to hand out to Christian appeasers who fantasize that our friends in the henna beards are either

1. Victims of racism, poverty, and social exclusion (liberal Christian dhimmis)
2. Enraged by American policies and Zionist oppression (ultra-leftist and ultra-rightists) or
3. Our future allies in the war against the hedonist Culture of Death (frustrated theocrats sunk in impotent rage).

Perhaps on the other side of the card we can print the following sura from the Qur’an:

9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

The texts would fit very nicely, and the bottom of each side could read: “To learn more, visit Jihadwatch.org. Or visit Saudi Arabia and try to find a church or synagogue.”

In case people have further questions, it might be handy to have, in leaflet form–or loaded on your Blackberry or iPhone–the text of the Pact of Umar, the model for the “toleration” sharia–an intrinsic part of Islam that every major Muslim group, including CAIR and ISNA endorses–grants Christians once it’s in force. Again, it’s a short, informative text.

The Pact of Umar

(promises conquered Christians make in return for Muslim protection):
* We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.

* We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.

* We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor bide him from the Muslims.

* We shall not teach the Qur’an to our children.

* We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.

* We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit.

* We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the qalansuwa, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their kunyas.

* We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our persons.

* We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.

* We shall not sell fermented drinks.

* We shall clip the fronts of our heads.

* We shall always dress in the same way wherever we may be, and we shall bind the zunar round our waists

* We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead. We shall not show lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets. We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.

* We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.

* We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.

* (When I brought the letter to Umar, may God be pleased with him, he added, “We shall not strike a Muslim.”)

* We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we receive safe-conduct.

* If we in any way violate these undertakings for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma], and we become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition. [That penalty is death–ed.]

Given the primary sources they’re working from, the text of the divine “Revelation” they follow, and the normative historical exemplars they imitate, modern Muslims across the world are doing a much better job of living up to their religion than most Christians are–as the Open Doors report demonstrates:

Of the top 10 countries on the 2011 WWL, eight have Islamic majorities. Persecution has increased in seven of them. They are Iran, which clamps down on a growing house church movement; Afghanistan, where thousands of believers cluster deep underground; and Saudi Arabia, which still refuses to allow any Saudi person to convert to Christianity.

Others are lawless Somalia, ruled by bloodthirsty terrorists threatening to kill Christian aid workers who feed Somalia’s starving, impoverished people; tiny Maldives, which mistakenly boasts it is 100 percent Islamic; Yemen with its determination to expel all Christian workers; and Iraq, which saw extremists massacre 58 Christians in a Baghdad cathedral on Oct. 31. Of the top 30 countries, only seven have a source other than Islamic extremists as the main persecutors of Christians.

The top 10 in order are North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Laos, which has a Communist government. Iraq is new to the top 10 list while Mauritania dropped out, going from No. 8 to No. 13.

The country that saw the greatest deterioration of Christian religious freedom in the reporting period from Nov. 1, 2009, through Oct. 31, 2010, was Iraq, jumping from No. 17 to No. 8. The country has seen a Christian exodus in recent years, with an estimated 334,000 Christians remaining in this ancient cradle of Christianity, a drop of more than 50 percent since the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The main reason why Christians are fleeing is organized violence by an extremist militia, especially in the northern city of Mosul and in the capital Baghdad, in an attempt to cleanse these areas of its Christian presence. At least 90 Christians were martyred last year in Iraq while hundreds more were injured in bomb and gun attacks. More killings have taken place in the past two weeks. [Mission accomplished, GWB!]

The country with the largest Christian community on the WWL’s top 15 is Pakistan with more than 5 million believers. Pakistani Christians also faced a sharp erosion of their religious liberty with the country leaping from No. 14 to No. 11 on the current list. Twenty-nine Christians were martyred in the reporting period with at least one killing occurring every month. Four Christians were sentenced to long terms in jail for blasphemy against Islam, at least 58 Christians were kidnapped, more than 100 Christians were assaulted and 14 churches and properties were damaged.

Other countries that rose markedly on the new WWL were Afghanistan, up from No. 6 to No. 3, especially in the wake of ugly demonstrations when footage of Muslims being baptized was shown on network television. Dozens of Christians from the tiny Afghan church have had to move due to subsequent death threats, and in August a 10-person medical aid team from a Christian organization was slaughtered. [Nice work, President Obama. The “surge” is working!]

The year’s grisliest headlines were found in No. 26 Nigeria, however, where a staggering 2,000 Christians lost their lives in riots caused by Muslim extremists in some of the northern states in the country. Tension has been growing for more than a generation in northern Nigeria, and escalated after 1999 when 12 northern states adopted Sharia (strict Islamic law). On Christmas Eve Compass Direct News reported the killing of a Baptist pastor and five other Christians in northern Nigeria. More killings of Christians were also reported in the last two weeks. [Christianity is the white man’s religion; Islam brings equality and justice. But which religion is it that’s killing the most black people every year?]

Egypt is ranked No. 19 on the WWL and could be a focus of persecution this year as 21 Christians were killed in a bomb blast on New Year’s Day outside the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria. [Pope Benedict, stop interfering. We’ve got the situation under control.]

At this point in the discussion, it’s worth stepping back and remembering what “dhimmitude” denotes. It means “protection,” and now we know in what sense that word is meant: in the sense of protection racket. When the Westies used to barge into bars in my mother’s old neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, and offer “protection” to the owners, it was clear to everyone involved from whom the hapless businessmen were being protected: from the Westies. Given the many ways in which Muhammad, once he arrived in Medina and came to power, acted like a gangster, it’s no surprise that his followers continue to carry on like a gang of thugs. When Islamic apologists insist that any discussion of Islam’s crimes against “unbelievers” of every creed or none is hateful Islamophobia, it’s best to remember how Mafia lawyers used to rant about ethnic stereotypes–typically as they addressed a jury, defending some “mook” who’d shot his cousin in the back of the head. Then they’d go home, open a jug of Gallo red, and watch The Sopranos. I wonder if Reza Aslan and Ibrahim Hooper, after a long, hard day of lying, stoke up the shisha and kick back to enjoy the video footage from Alexandria and Baghdad….

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Christianity / God, Politics/Government/Freedom, Societal / Cultural Issues, Understanding Islam | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: