Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Alberto R. Gonzales visits Israel

Alberto R. Gonzales served as U.S. attorney general from 2005 to 2007 in the George W. Bush administration. He is currently the dean of the Belmont University College of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. He recently traveled to Israel, and wrote in the Washington Post:

Earlier this month I visited Israel as part of a delegation of Hispanic American leaders, under the auspices of a private educational organization called The Face of Israel.  During our trip I had the privilege to travel the country, and to meet with one Father Gabriel Naddaf, a native Arabic-speaking Israeli Greek-Orthodox priest from Nazareth, the city where Jesus Christ began his own ministry.As Father Naddaf spoke to us, we began to grasp that his presence in the Holy Land is more than a symbolic nod to the origins of Christianity.  It is, in fact, one of the world’s most powerful and hopeful testaments to the continuity and living potential of Christian identity in the Middle East today. Father Naddaf’s very existence is a statement of courage and resolve in the face of an increasingly hostile and volatile region.  What he told us has transformed my understanding of the Middle East, and of my responsibility to it as a Christian—and as an American—living in the 21st century...

Sitting in Nazareth, our delegation learned that in the past ten years 100,000 Christians have been killed each year because of their faith  many of them in the Middle East.  Father Naddaf spoke to us about how less than a quarter of the millions of Christians who once lived in Iraq and Syria remain.  These people trace their roots back to the inception of some of the world’s oldest and most storied Christian communities, but now they are subjected by Islamic extremists to the most heinous of threats and crimes imaginable.  Those who can escape, flee for their lives, while those who remain face all manner of degradation and discrimination, including not only financial and political disenfranchisement, but also forced conversion, rape and even execution.

Within the borders of Israel, however, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Christian population is growing.  Israel provides Christians with not just security and freedom of worship, but also excellent education, employment, healthcare, and other freedoms and opportunities beyond what is available in many parts of the Muslim world.  Father Naddaf and other Christian priests of various denominations, both within and beyond Israel and the Middle East, are clear: one of the safest places for Christians in the Middle East today is Israel.  

Read it all here

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