Christians Are Being Cleansed from Every Place in the Middle East But One

Except in Israel, Christians across the Middle East suffer from lack of religious liberty, increasing persecution, and, in many places, expulsions and mass slaughter. Over the past century, their proportion of the population has plummeted from 20 to 4 percent, and many communities are on the verge of extinction. Gabriel Nadaf, the spiritual leader of Israel’s Aramean Christian community, writes:

Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, [once] had a clear Christian majority. Since 1995, when Israel handed the city to the Palestinian Authority, Christians have been leaving in droves. Today, Christians are only 15 percent of the population, and some say even less. Elsewhere in Palestinian-run areas, Christians are also leaving, and in Hamas-run Gaza, the situation is even worse. . . . Christians in Arab countries live on the margins, without rights, with their property stolen, their honor trampled, their children sacrificed, and the slaughter ongoing.

Within this chaos, only one island of sanity can be found where the Christians are not persecuted, where they enjoy freedom of religion and ritual, freedom of expression, and where they can live in peace without fear of genocide. That island is the state of Israel. The state in which I and my Christian brothers were born allows Christians complete freedom. Jews and Christians live in Israel in peace and as good neighbors.

Read more at Mida

More about: Aramean Christians, ISIS, Jewish-Christian relations, Middle East Christianity, Syrian civil war

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas