"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Sunday, August 06, 2006 Re Christians in the Middle East
Could someone versed in the Mideast explain why the Christian leadership there seems to see its interest as lying in the defeat of Israel? How would Christians fare better were the Holy Land under the submission of Syria, Al Qaeda and a nuclear-armed Iran?
I've been thinking about this question a good bit in recent days.
Israel has a reputation for making life difficult for non-Jews. Ask any Catholic or Melkite Bishop in the area. You think that the Christians are leaving en masse because they're off to St. Tropez for a few months in the sun? Nope. They are realistic. Making a living and building a future won't happen for them in South Lebanon, nor (for that matter) in Israel, nor the Palestinian territories. One does not want to be between the Muslims and the Jews...
Problem is, looking to any Catholic or Melkite bishop in the area for an accurate reading of the situation vis a vis Israel seems like relying on the Cuban news media for information on Castro's current health. For some reason – politics; a concern for the preservation and safey of their followers; an inclination to appeasement; ingrained dhimmitude; outright anti-Semitism; or any combination thereof – the Christian hierarchy of the Mideast seems about as reliable as Reuters as a point of reference. (Sorry to mix news metaphors, but you get the idea.)
Jerusalem's Latin-rite patriarch Sabbah, for example, is notorious for his pro-Palestinian sympathies.
As for Maronite Patriarch Sfeir, this 2000 interview is noteworthy for the views he expresses re Hezbollah:
Hezbollah is composed of some Lebanese young people who have been trying to push back Israel. And they have been successful in their attempts!
Asked if they are terrorists, he responds:
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir: This is the question. Hezbollah and some other observers claim that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organisation: they are trying to liberate their land from occupation. We have to define what is terrorism and distinguish it from resistance. There is a huge difference between the two ideas.
PB: How would you describe the difference?
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir: When a people has its all territory occupied, it has the right to defend its territory, its land and its existence. If there is no peaceful means to push away the occupier, they can utilise the arms. This is resistance.
PB: From this point of view, are the actions taken by Palestinians, such a suicide attacks against the Israelis, terrorist attacks or acts of resistance?
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir: Of course these are acts of resistance, because every day they are being attacked and killed, their houses destroyed; there is bloodshed every day. Naturally they have to resist.
Then there is the Middle East Council of Churches, which gets its website content straight from Pallywood. The council's news briefs for June includes criticisms leveled by the heads of the Coptic, Catholic and Episcopal churches in Egypt toward the Da Vinci Code – criticisms that, among all the barbs directed by Christian leaders toward the movie, were perhaps among the most unique:
Heads of churches rejected the materialistic and atheistic base of the film that ends with a Jewish logo propagandizing Jewish thought.