December 28, 2023
The Middle East Christian Committee condemns those in the government of Lebanon who would take legal action against Christian religious leaders for meeting Israel’s President Herzog in the Holy Land on the occasion of the New Year on December 21. The traditional meeting drew the expected criticism from leaders of Hezbollah: “The image provoked me because there cannot be a religious figure worshiping God, believing in justice and right, aligning themselves with Israel, tyranny, and colonialism,” stated Sadek Naboulsi, a religious sheikh close to Hezbollah, who accused anyone meeting an Israeli of “treason.”
The minister of information Ziad Makari stated: “I was bothered by the image of the two bishops with the Israeli president, and I definitely do not agree to it, and I contacted the military court judges which has the texts related to contact with the Israeli enemy.”
Al Ahed, a news site with ties to Hezbollah, reported that a collective of Representatives of Released Prisoners and Detainees submitted a request to the Lebanese judiciary to open an investigation against Archbishops al-Hage and Semaan, accusing them of “having contact with the Zionist [Israeli] enemy,” an offence which can carry a sentence of death.
Radical Islamists seek to separate Christians from their Jewish brethren who follow the original religion of Jesus and even go so far as to claim Jesus was not Jewish at all. In this way, they seek to isolate Israel from the rest of the world.
Representatives of Hamas, who on October 7, carried out the bloody massacre and kidnapping of Israeli civilians – the worst atrocity committed against Jews since the Holocaust – claim to have been “shocked by the photo of Christian dignitaries from the occupied Palestinian territories meeting the president of the Zionist entity on the occasion of Christmas.”
The relentless Muslim persecution of Christians and Jews in the Holy Land continues. Bethlehem, located in Palestinian-controlled territory, has seen a precipitous decline in its Christian population, which was once the majority in the birthplace of Jesus, but now comprises only 12% of the population. Jews, who were once found in substantial numbers across the Middle East were driven out of all the Arab states after the creation of Israel in 1948, and Christians are likewise being “ethnically cleansed” from the Muslim regions. The one exception where the Christian population is growing is in Israel.
Archbishop Hage denied participating in the meeting himself, but also pointed out: “[T]he patriarchs and bishops who took part in this event conveyed a message related to the cause they defend, and they clearly denounced the military actions in Palestine.”
“The US Congress should condition any future aid to the Lebanese government to this issue,” said MECHRIC Director John Hajjar. “It is inhuman to threaten to imprison the Christian clergies in Lebanon who are simply serving their dioceses in Israel and coordinating with the Israeli government on behalf of the Christians of Israel.”
“This is a pattern in Lebanon,” stated MECHRIC Director Tom Harb. “The military court is an instrument used by Hezbollah to silence any criticism of Hezbollah or Iran in Lebanon.”
The Middle East Christian Committee stands with the archbishop and the other Christian leaders seeking peace in the region and applaud their refusal to be intimidated by those pushing for war.