The Coliseum, where thousands upon thousands of "Judaeis" have been massacred by the Roman emperors, became for one night an arena for alliance between Christians and Jews against “odium fidei,” or religious hatred.
Last Wednesday in Rome, Jewish leaders for the first time rallied alongside Christians in a candlelit vigil to denounce the attacks in the Middle East and Africa. It was “interfaith” or “ecumenical” dialogue at its best. Forget the theological questions, which remain unsolvable. There is an urgent mutual solidarity about the single most defining issue of our time: religious freedom.
It is about the right to life of Jews and Christians in an Islamicized Middle East. Speaking at the Coliseum, Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni slammed Western “indifference” surrounding the massacre of minorities in the Middle East.
Jewish eschatology contains many references to an alliance between Esau (Rome, the Christian West) and his father-in-law Ishmael (Islam) against the Jewish people. Historically, it has proven to be correct.
In the Islamic world, Jews paid racist taxes, had to wear an article of clothing that set them apart from Muslims, were prohibited from building synagogues, were required by law to take a subservient role in business partnerships with Muslims and were, by law, second-class citizens. It was the “golden age.”
In the Christian world, Jews could not own land, lived in ghettos, occupied only certain niches in the economy and were despised as the “killers of Christ." Yet today, Christians and Jews both live under the shadow of Islamic fundamentalism; in a world threatened by jihad, they are true partners.
A new report from one of the world's most respected NGO, Open Doors, shines a spotlight on the oppression of Christians in Muslim lands. It addresses the diminution, subjugation, emasculation, conversion, massacre and deportation of the indigenous Christians who came under the rule of Muhammad’s faithful.
The survey demolishes the mainstream media’s obfuscation. With the only exception being North Korea, an atheistic nightmare where 70,000 Christians are held in ghastly camps, 9 of the 10 worst persecutors of Christians are Islamic countries (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iran, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Iraq and Pakistan.) Of the 50 countries on the Open Doors’ list, 35 are Muslim (the Palestinian Authority is listed, but not Israel.)
Islamic groups recently issued an ultimatum to the Christians in Nigeria: “You have three days to leave, or you’ll die.” Over 13,750 Christians have already been killed in Nigeria since the introduction of Sharia laws in 2001. Some 500 Christians have been slaughtered since last December and 300 churches have been demolished.
Islam’s supersessionary doctrine catalyzes destruction, oppression and hemorrhaging of Christians in eastern lands. While there were moments of laxity in applying this domination, Islam did not recoil from razing churches in ancient Damascus and slaughtering Christians in the Sub-Saharan plateau, inflicting atrocities in Aleppo or Mesopotamia.
While the West is now endlessly focused on “Islamophobia,” a potential genocidal Christianophobia is spreading through Islamic lands. And as the rally in the Coliseum has clearly shown, it pairs up with another kind of hatred: Judeophobia.
Today there is only one country in the Middle East in which Christian numbers are not declining but continues to increase: Israel. The Jewish State hosts a multitude of Christian creeds, confessions and cultures.
Meanwhile, Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin, Ayatollah Khomeini and Hassan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden relentlessly linked the wanton murder of Jews with the liquidation of Christianity. They don’t see Jerusalem as an urban terrain of conflict, but as a sweeping religious symbol of historical significance.
This week, the Coliseum catalyzed the two most important litmus tests we are facing today: The dormant anti-Jewish genocidal demons lurking in the shadows of the Middle East and of the civilized veneer of the West, and the invisible eastern Christians who are going extinct. After the Rome rally, the Jews should expect the same Christian solidarity next time that a rocket hits a school in Ashkelon or a settler family is slaughtered in the hills of Samaria.
Christians should see Israel as the first line of Western defense in the battle for non-Muslim survival and prosperity in the world. The sagacious American author Eric Hoffer, longshoreman-philosopher from San Francisco, gave voice to a profound and tragic Holocaust-related 20th-century truth: “I have a premonition that will not leave me, as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us.”