The King of Jordan’s Slander about Israel’s Treatment of Christians

Sept. 23 2022

At the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, King Abdullah of Jordan spoke of his monarchy’s historic role as the custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. He then went on to say that the “rights of churches in Jerusalem are threatened,” and that Jerusalem’s Christians are “under fire.” Shortly after the speech, he had a reportedly friendly meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The editors of the Jerusalem Post respond:

Christianity is retreating through the Middle East, with ancient Christian communities in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Gaza, and yes, Bethlehem, shrinking. Three years ago, the British foreign secretary commissioned a report that concluded that the pervasive persecution of Christians, sometimes amounting to genocide, is taking place in the Mideast, triggering a massive Christian exodus from the region. There is only one state in the region where the Christian community is actually growing: Israel. Yet that is precisely the state that Abdullah chose to target as the place where Christianity is under fire.

This represents unparalleled chutzpah, for two main reasons. First, because the king knows that it is not true, and that Israel zealously protects the rights of the churches in Jerusalem, as well as the freedom of worship for Christians throughout the city. He is also certainly aware that while the Christian community in his own country is shrinking, across the River Jordan in Israel it is growing.

Secondly, Abdullah’s presenting himself as some kind of guardian of religious liberty is misleading, considering that Jordanian officials at the border with Israel regularly prevent Jews crossing into Jordan from bringing in with them religious objects they need for daily ritual practice, such as tallitot and t’fillin.

At a time when tensions are running high in Jerusalem on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, responsible leaders of goodwill—among whose ranks Abdullah wants to be counted—should seek to lower the temperature, not artificially raise it. . . . Improving the atmosphere between Jerusalem and Amman is a Jordanian interest as much as it is an Israeli one.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli Christians, Jerusalem, Jordan, Middle East Christianity


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy