Economic Empowerment Might Be the Key to Helping Middle East Christians

Throughout history, Jews have rallied to help their persecuted coreligionists abroad—from the international effort in the 17th century to buy the freedom of Ukrainian Jews sold into slavery in the Ottoman empire, to 20th-century efforts to free Soviet Jewry, to Israel’s rescue of Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen, and elsewhere. But Christians in recent years have had limited success in aiding the beleaguered Christian minorities of the Middle East. In the recent war in the Caucasus, Armenian Christians have suffered at the hands of Muslim Azerbaijan, and American Christians’ attempts to lobby their government to help have been stymied by the fact that Washington shares common interests with Baku. Robert Nicholson suggests a new approach that goes beyond the usual “bullets or band-aids”:

The time has come to shift our focus from state power to private investment, linking Christian businessmen in the West with those in the Middle East to open companies, develop properties, and transport local products to market. This was the survival strategy of the early church, whose members pooled their wealth for the benefit of all. It demands more creativity and determination, . . . but it promises more dignified and permanent results.

A peaceful economic crusade will prioritize Christian communities that have critical mass and favorable conditions for investment. Here, the significance of Armenia becomes obvious. Not only does Armenia rank high on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, it also boasts an emerging high-tech sector and inexpensive yet skilled labor.

Its Christians have something that others in the region only dream of: political sovereignty, which amplifies any investment in three dimensions. A strong economy means greater engagement from potential allies and greater resilience against local enemies. It also turns Armenia into a safe haven for regional Christians looking for better opportunity and, if needed, emergency asylum among other indigenous believers.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Armenians, Azerbaijan, Middle East Christianity, U.S. Foreign policy

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada