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The U.S. Must Aid Persecuted Christians

Taking stock of the horrific persecution of Middle Eastern Christians, Tina Rodriguez calls on their American coreligionists to encourage the U.S. government to defend them:

[The U.S.] must recognize that religious freedom is a critical linchpin for every other human right and for peace and security globally. When that freedom suffers, so too does the stability of a country. As the situations in Iraq and Syria have shown, when religious oppression runs rampant, it leads to military conflict and humanitarian crisis. It also destabilizes countries, and there terrorist networks find safe havens from which they can launch attacks on America. Religious freedom is a national-security imperative. . . .

We cannot ignore abuses of this freedom in countries considered allies. When we do, Americans suffer and conflicts escalate. . . . In Iraq, the U.S. continues to aid in the defeat of Islamic State while saying nothing about the need for legal changes that would ensure the long-term viability of communities facing sectarian conflict and genocide. We should invest in programs that bolster local leadership and respect for religious freedom to help mitigate potential conflict. . . .

[T]here should be high-level involvement to ensure that foreign-service officers are receiving the training required by law in religious freedom. . . . When Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman, was imprisoned in Sudan and sentenced to death for apostasy, U.S.-embassy officials were woefully absent in aiding her. Her husband was an American citizen, and she was shackled to a prison floor with her eighteen-month-old son while her baby girl was born. Still, the officials did nothing. The time for doing nothing is over.

Read more at National Review

More about: Freedom of Religion, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, Sudan, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel’s Success Has Surprised Everyone

April 20 2018

On the eve of Israel’s decision to declare statehood, 70 years ago, the CIA estimated that a Jewish state couldn’t hold off its Arab enemies for more than two years, while the famed Haganah commander Yigael Yadin told David Ben-Gurion that their chances of victory were fifty-fifty. Daniel Gordis describes just how wildly the country has managed to outpace expectations:

In 1948, there were some 650,000 Jews in Israel, who represented about 5 percent of the world’s Jews. Today, Israel’s Jewish population has grown ten-fold and stands at about 6.8 million people. Some 43 percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel; this population overtook American Jews several years ago and is now the world’s largest Jewish community. . . .

Beyond mere survival, the other challenge that the young Jewish state faced was feeding and housing the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were flocking to its borders. At times, financial collapse seemed imminent. Food was rationed and black markets developed. Israel had virtually no heavy machinery for building the infrastructure that it desperately needed. Until Germany paid Holocaust reparations, the young state’s financial condition was perilous.

Today, that worry also feels like a relic from another time. Israel is not only a significant military power, but also a formidable economic machine. A worldwide center for technology that has more companies listed on the Nasdaq than any country other than the U.S., Israel’s economy barely hiccupped in 2008. The shekel, its currency, is strong. Like other countries, Israel has a worrisome income gap between rich and poor, but fears of an economic collapse have vanished.

Israel has become an important cultural center, vastly disproportionately for a country whose population approximates that of New York City. When the five finalists for the Man Booker literary prize were announced last year, two were Israelis who write in Hebrew: David Grossman and Amos Oz. Grossman won. . . . Today, Americans and Europeans alike wait hungrily for new episodes of Israeli shows like Fauda, while others (like Homeland and The A-Word) have been remade into American and British series.

On the occasion of Independence Day, Israelis are fully conscious—and deeply proud—of the fact that their country has exceeded the ambitions of the men and women who founded it seven decades ago.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: David Ben-Gurion, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Israeli Independence Day, Israeli literature, Israeli society