John L. Allen, Jr., the widely respected National Catholic Reporter journalist, asks why the recent episodes of persecution of Christians in Israel (and elsewhere in the world) doesn’t get much attention in the US? He speculates:
Nonetheless, the question remains: Why haven’t these blatant acts of prejudice become a cause célèbre? I can think of at least three reasons.
First, some Christians may be hesitant to speak out because, in this instance, the prejudice is coming from Jews. Given the long and depressing history of anti-Judaism in Christianity, some Christians may, in their gut, be tempted to feel: “Yeah, this is disgusting, but in a way we’ve got it coming.”
Second, most Christians in the Holy Land are passionately pro-Palestinian, for the obvious reason that many are Palestinians themselves. Some Christians in the West sympathetic to Israel are therefore reluctant to take up their causes, however deserving in themselves, for fear of weakening the Israeli position.
Third, the travails of a handful of Trappist monks in Israel — or Dalit and tribal Christians in India, or Nigerian Christians menaced by the Boko Haram, or the 150,000 new Christian martyrs every year generally — simply have a hard time breaking through the media filter in the West, perhaps especially in the United States, where it’s now all 2012 elections all the time.
All of this, however, amounts to an explanation, not an excuse. If the defense of persecuted Christians is ever to become a transcendent social cause, analogous to the defense of Soviet Jews in the 1970s, or the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s, it can’t be selective in its energy.
If the perception is that the West will push back when Muslims harass Christians, but not when Jews do it — or, to take another perceived inconsistency, that the United States will react when Christians are menaced in Iran, but not in China — then the oppressors will rightly conclude that the real concern isn’t defending a vulnerable minority, but scoring political points.
Perhaps Christians could take a page on this score from the Anti-Defamation League, which, needless to say, is not an outfit known for being soft on the defense of Israel. Yet on Tuesday, shortly after the assault on the monastery, they issued a statement strongly condemning it.
“We stand in solidarity with the monks of the monastery against this heinous act of religious intolerance and hate,” the ADL said, calling for the perpetrators to be severely punished.
The ADL, bless them, noticed this and condemned it. Where are the US Christian churches and organizations? Especially the Evangelicals? Mike Huckabee, we could stand to hear from you on this.
[Via Leroy Huizenga.]