As the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, continues to conquer huge swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, threatening also to overrun other countries in the Middle East, Christians in the region find themselves in a difficult and traumatic situation.
While anyone belonging to a non-Muslim ethnic minority of any description under ISIS has much to worry about, Christians — who have lived in the Middle East for thousands of years — have seen members of their community executed and their women taken as slaves to be sold in markets across Syria and Iraq.
Ironically, it seems that Israel, the only real democracy in the Middle East, is the safest haven for Christians, who are allowed to practice their faith, undisturbed and unquestioned in the Jewish State.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a special Christmas address recently, where he wished Christian citizens of Israel well over the festive period.
“Christian communities across the Middle East are experiencing a particularly difficult time, They’re experiencing violence, execution and fear. This has become the daily staple for Christian communities throughout the Middle East.”
The Prime Minister continued to extol the virtues of life for Christians living in Israel.
“Here in Israel religious freedom is a sacred principle. Israel’s Christian citizens enjoy the full blessings of freedom and democracy; their equal rights are enshrined in Israeli law.”
And even Christian leaders agree with Netanyahu’s sentiments; in a recent address to the United Nations, Israeli Greek Orthodox priest Gabriel Nadaf described Israel as the only country in the entire region where Christians can live safely.
In concluding his address, Prime Minister Netanyahu called for Jews and Christians to unite against the common threats they face.
“On this most important day in the Christian calendar, let us remember the common heritage and values that unite us in the face of extremism and hatred – which we will never accept. From Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the city of peace, I join Christians everywhere – and especially those in the Middle East – in a common prayer for a more peaceful and tolerant world. Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.”
It is perhaps ironic that after centuries of Jews being persecuted by Christians, the only country in the Middle East in which Christians can feel safe is The Jewish State.
God does indeed move in mysterious ways……