The US media watch organization, CAMERA, gets it right in their latest report about the US based magazine, National Geographic, which published an article by Don Belt, that drew the attention of the reader towards the exodus of Christians from Palestinian controlled areas in the disputed territories, whose exodus is solely due to both Israeli and US policies.
CAMERA correctly points out the role Islam has played in driving these Christian Arabs from their homes, and most notably, the report correctly refrained from couching the situation as being one of “radical Muslims disturbing the traditional good relations between Muslim and Christian communities.” Such a scenario is non existent, it’s all about Islam, pure and simple.
CAMERA draws upon the expertise of the noted scholar on dhimmitude, jihad and Islam, Bat Ye’or, and quotes from her seminal work, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, to prove that Islam has a long history of subjugating and/or driving out Christians and Jews from Muslim conquered lands.
Ye’or writes: Arab idolaters had to choose between death or conversion; as for Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, if they paid tribute and accepted the conditions of conquest, they could buy back their right to live, freedom of worship and security of property.
In 640 the second caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, drove the Jewish and Christian tributaries out of Hijasz by invoking the dhimma (contract) of Khaybar: the land belonged to Allah and his Envoy and the contract could be broken at the discretion of the imam, the religious and political leader of the umma [Muslim religious community] and the interpreter of Allah’s will. Umar also invoked the desire expressed by the Prophet on his deathbed: “Two religions should not co-exist within the Arabian peninsula.” (Page 39)
CAMERA: “While Ye’or is careful to explain that the subjugation of peoples and faiths was part and parcel of life in the Middle East at the time and that offering conquered peoples a chance to convert to Islam “curbed the barbarity of war,” she also makes clear that Christianity declined under Muslim conquest in the region conducted under the rubric of jihad, or holy war against non-Muslims.”
The whitewash by Don Belt and National Geographic of Muslim/Islamic involvement in the continuing exodus of Christian Arabs from the disputed territories, is a gross inversion of the historical record. Thanks to CAMERA for putting the record straight, as well as to Bat Ye’or for her thorough scholarship in bringing these facts about Islamic history to the light of day. KGS
Belt’s efforts to whitewash the role Islamic conquest played in the decline of Christianity in the Middle East becomes obvious in the third paragraph of the article which states that “it was during the Crusades (1095-1291) that Arab Christians, slaughtered along with Muslims by the crusaders and caught in the cross fire between Islam and the Christian West, began a long, steady retreat into the minority.”
In reality, Arab Christianity began its “long, steady retreat” into minority status hundreds of years before the European crusaders ever set foot in the Holy Land. As Bat Ye’or and other commentators have documented, the process of forced conversion and subjugation of Christians in the Middle East began soon after the death of Mohammed in 632. Ye’or writes that after unifying the Arabian Peninsula under Muslim rule, Abu Bakr, Mohammed’s successor, brought war to non-Muslims, including Christians, outside Arabia.
Instead of acknowledging this history, Belt portrays early Muslim history as a time of tolerance, describing the Levant’s history of “coexistence between Muslims and people of other faiths, which dates from the earliest days of Islam. When the Muslim Caliph Omar conquered Syria from the Byzantine Empire around 636, he protected the Christians under his rule, allowing them to keep their churches and worship as they pleased.”
Here again, Belt ignores an inconvenient truth: that by the eighth century Arab Muslim rulers used indigenous Christian communities as both a source of income and forced labor (slavery) in the Middle East, a policy that contributed to the decline of Christianity in the region. (For a detailed description of this process, consult Bat Ye’or’s The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, pages 100-140.)
In one key passage, Belt lays out his agenda: Obscure the facts about where Christianity is growing in the Middle East (Israel), downplay and minimize the role Muslim extremism plays in marginalizing Christians in Palestinian society, and blame Western Christians for the misdeeds of Muslims in the region.
Read it all here. KGS