An Evil Of Axis Conference and Not a Christian One
Now that the gathering of mercenaries, Pharisees and tax collectors that was held in Washington between 09-12 September/14 under the tag of: ‘In Defense of Christians’, is over, we can say with a free conscience based on its agenda, rhetoric and out come that it was not Christian by an means or standards. Simply it was a pro Axis of Evil charade no more no less. The main objective that made Mr. Chakoury, the African-Lebanese millionaire finance this conference and pay five million dollars was to advocate for the Axis Of Evil countries and organizations, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, and portray them as the mere protectors for Christians in particular and all the other minorities in the Middle East in general. This false and evil allegation which is odd, untrue and fabricated was uttered loudly, but stupidly by the derailed clergymen and politicians whose political background boldly tells their affiliations with the axis in the capacity of mere mercenaries and mouthpieces. In conclusion, the conference failed to achieve its main aim even with the media extra ordinary efforts of the LBC via Mr. Marcel Ghaniem. Sadly the conference that carried a Christian name and agenda was void from Christianity and its holy messages of love, forgiveness, tolerance, respect of others, peace, freedom and transparency.
We Do Not Trust Or Support the So called Levant Christian Conference
It does need a researcher or a philosopher to learn that the Levant Washington Christian Conference has nothing to do with Christianity or with defending Levant Christians’ existence, safety and future in the Middle East.
In our own opinion and analysis it is a fishy, suspicious and camouflaged gathering.
It has raised among many Lebanese patriots in both Lebanon and Diaspora tons of fears, dire suspicions and doubtful questions in regards to its actual hidden aims and objectives.
These hidden aims and objectives in our own analysis serve the Iranian-Syrian Axis Of evil agenda. Accordingly we do not trust or support this conference and strongly believe that it does not address the actual needs of the Levant Christians, nor it addresses their fears, agony and aspirations.
In conclusion a wolf can’t be trusted to protect the sheep.
May Almighty God safeguards the Levant Christians from the hidden agenda of this conference.
Background and related opinions
Iran’s Dhimmi Conference in Washington, D.C?
How Iran, Assad and Hezbollah are using Christian persecution by ISIS to hijack the minorities
September 4th 2014
By John Hajjar
On September 9, 2014, a conference organized by the newly formed group “In Defense of Christians” (IDC), will be addressing the issue of “persecution of Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS.” The event is very well funded and a sophisticated outreach has been mobilizing Mideast Christian churches in the United States over the past few months to participate in great numbers. The board of IDC includes prominent citizens, former government officials, and experts in the field of international religious freedom. The context of the conference, with one day in Congress and another day at a D.C. hotel is very appealing to the public. Christians in northern Iraq were ethnically cleansed from Mosul back in June and from the Nineveh plain—the last geographical enclave for Christian Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs in Iraq—in July. More than 400,000 Christians are refugees in Kurdistan with no immediate hope for a return home. Scores of Christians have been killed, raped, and kidnapped by the Jihadists of ISIS, as were Yazidis and other Iraqis. Christians of Iraq and Syria—and before there, in Egypt—have been under persecution and submitted to violence for the past few years. In short, the cause is a good one, and most of the official workers for such a conference are well intentioned. However, the American public must be informed: while the narrative of IDC is directed at ISIS violence, the conference is intentionally or not, profiting the Iranian and Syrian regimes and Hezbollah.
Readers may be stunned by this assertion, but here are the facts and some of the evidence:
Iranian Christians absent
The conference is surely condemning the Jihadists of ISIS, but it is ignoring the oppression by the Iranian regime against its own Christian community, particularly the Iranian Persian Christians. Many Americans are aware of the horrific jailing in Iran of Pastor Saeed Abidini whose only crime was his conversion to Christianity. With countless other pastors and activists assassinated, tortured, and jailed for years, an “In Defense of Christians” conference in Washington should at a minimum invite Iranian Christian dissidents and victims to testify about the Ayatollahs regime’s brutality against the community. Obviously, there are Christians who work with the Khomeinist regime inasmuch as there were French collaborating with the Nazis in WWII or “official churches” under the Soviet Bloc. Free Iranian Christians have not been seen at the IDC meetings.
Assad’s war on Christians ignored
The Assad regime’s massive brutality against Lebanon’s Christian community during the war of 1975-1990 has nowhere been cited at the conference. Neither is the torture, jailing and assassinations of hundreds of Christian citizens, politicians and journalists under Syrian occupation between 1990 and 2005 included. Two Christian presidents, many Christian ministers, members of parliament, and students were killed by the Assad regime, but the conference has ignored this tragedy and no speaker is slated to address the issue. In addition, the Christians who are opposing Bashar Assad were not invited while those who claim he protects them are omnipresent.
Hezbollah terror deleted
Hezbollah, a violent pro-Iranian organization on the U.S. terror list that has eliminated, kidnapped and threatened Lebanese Christians (as well as members from other communities) will not be condemned. Victims of its violence and terror are not scheduled to speak.
Iraqi Christians put under Iranian supervision
Last week, Iraqi Christians accompanied by Middle East Christian NGOs lodged a demand at the United Nations to form their own internationally protected zone in the north and form their own local defense force under UN supervision. The forces behind the IDC conference want these same Christians to become a unit within the Iranian influenced Iraqi Army which will be a recipe for disaster.
In addition to these four fundamental sins, the IDC Conference suffers from ominous problems. The first series of problems are the groups who are not participating or were not invited.
The most significant missing piece of all is the Copts of Egypt. This largest Christian community is about four times the size of all other Christian groups in the Middle East combined. They too have been under increasing harassment and persecution in the past few years at the hands of Jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Coptic Solidarity, the largest international federation of Egyptian Christians is not speaking. Instead of including the official international body of the Christian Copts, IDC invited a woman involved in orphanage activities to speak. The organizing team wanted to secure the name “Copt,” but not the actual Coptic people.
IDC’s administrators ignored the three decades long activities of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) – a coalition of Maronites, Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans, Copts, Southern Sudanese and other Christian NGOs who have been the backbone of international outreach to the international community at the European Parliament, the U.S. Congress and lately at the United Nations. Why? Because MECHRIC condemns the Salafi Jihadists as well as the Iranian and Assad regimes and Hezbollah.
The World Maronite Union, which was founded in 1979 in the diaspora and has been active around the world to free Lebanon from Syria’s occupation and disarm Hezbollah, is not on the invitation list either. No Middle East Christians opposed to Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will be speaking.
An impressive feature of the IDC event is the appearance of five Levantine Patriarchs. This emotional gathering of the spiritual leaders has undoubtedly drawn many members of our communities to attend. But geopolitical realities must not be forgotten. The seats of these Patriarchates are in Iranian-dominated capitals, in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. The spiritual leaders will be definitely and rightly so, lamenting ISIS barbaric acts but will they criticize the Tehran-Damascus regimes?
While some speakers, such as Nina Shea and Thomas Farr, have spoken against persecution of Christians, the keynote speaker, Jim Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, has been perceived by Middle East minorities as their arch-foe in Washington for years. A long-time critic of Maronite and Lebanese Christians, he has for decades rejected the rights of Christian minorities to set themselves apart from Arab nationalism. Even in this conference he ignores the ethnic identity of Aramaic and Copts and insists on calling all the minorities—though only a few are really Arabs—“Arab Christians.” Zogby has been an ally of the anti-Israel Arab lobby of the Islamist Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and continues to defend the totalitarian regime of Assad. How can a Middle East Christian conference trust its ideological leadership to the head of the anti-minorities lobby in the United States?
Another troubling possibility, according to a previous similar conference held in Beirut, is that IDC’s gathering will be most likely taken next year to Jerusalem for a copycat event. No one, however, should expect the Iranian backed network to befriend Israel. Just the opposite: expect Israel bashing and Hamas praising.
But what is the impetus behind such an event? It it most likely that the board of the group means well and is not aware of the overarching problem. But based on analysis and on the above facts, Iran and Syria’s regimes are taking advantage of the world’s attention on ISIS’s horrors to sweep through the Middle East Christian communities, seize political control within them, and use them in the region in the service of Baghdad’s pro-Iranian leaders, the Assad regime, and Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon. Iran and Syria want to buy their legitimization as partners in the war against ISIS by claiming that they are protecting the Christians, the first victims of the Jihadists. IDC’s conference would then be unwittingly playing the role of a Trojan horse, or a bridge, for Tehran and Damascus, allowing them to thrust themselves into the American Christian community in order to gain its support for a partnership with Assad and normalization with the Mullahs.
With such heavy problems, this event cannot be identified as Middle East Christian conference. In fact it has become a Dhimmi conference at the service of Iran, Assad and Hezbollah.
*John Hajjar is a member of the Executive Committee of the Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC a coalition of Assyrian, Syriac, Chaldean, Maronite, Coptic, Melkite and other Middle East Christian NGOs www.Mechric.org
Bigotry behind the cassock
Tony Badran/Now Lebanon
What the IDC conference tells us about the anti-Sunni, pro-Assad messaging campaign being waged in Washington
Middle East Patriarchs meet with President Obama at the White House on 11 September (Image via Al-Hurra YouTube)
Last week, an indignant audience including prelates and leaders of the Eastern Christian churches, booed Senator Ted Cruz off the stage while he was speaking in Washington at the gala dinner for a conference held by the In Defense of Christians (IDC) organization. Ted Cruz, well-known for his fiercely uncompromising support for Israel as well as for religious freedom worldwide, told the assembled representatives of Middle Eastern Christians that they had no better friend than the Jewish state.
New York Times columnist Ross Douthat stirred a significant debate on the subject when he criticized Cruz severely for his behavior. In Douthat’s opinion, the conference was “an ecumenical affair,” held by an “embattled religious minority” attempting “to organize to save itself from outright extinction.” Senator Cruz, according to Douthat, politicized what was an innocent moral endeavor aimed at raising awareness for and solidarity with the plight of Middle Eastern Christians.
Douthat’s view, however, reflects a widespread American naiveté about the sly ways of Middle East dictators, who have learned that paying lip service to Western values, for which, in truth, they have nothing but contempt, can prompt the US to let down its guard. As it turns out, the IDC conference was a thoroughly political enterprise – serving as a vehicle to solicit US backing for an anti-Sunni sectarian alignment led by Iran and prosecuted by its murderous lieutenant in Damascus. The Bashar al-Assad regime duped Douthat with surprising ease, and the success of the con should be studied by anybody interested in relations between the US and the Middle East.
In order to fully understand the purpose of the IDC affair, it needs to be placed in the context of the intense messaging operation that the Syrian regime and its allies are currently engaged in. The talking points of the campaign were outlined in a report in the pro-Assad and pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar. The report came out after the incident with Sen. Cruz and after a clerical delegation met with President Barack Obama and presented him with a unified position paper.
The report, which Al-Akhbar says is based on information obtained from sources in the clerical delegation, highlights four main points from the meeting. First, it quotes a participant in the meeting claiming that Obama told the delegation: “we know that President Bashar Assad protects Christians.” This claim was repeated by pro-Assad Melkite Patriarch Gregory Lahham on a regime TV station, which suggests that he was the source behind Al-Akhbar’s report. (Lahham has previously been accused by a French Catholic bishop of playing the role of Assad representative at the Vatican.) Second, the US president, the report underscores, did not refer to the Syrian “regime” but rather to the Syrian “government,” implying legitimacy. Third, one member of the delegation – most likely Lahham – told Obama, “you should stop talking about a moderate Syrian opposition.” Fourth, after Obama explained that the purpose of striking the Islamic State (ISIS) was to “help continue the political process in Syria,” he allegedly added, “we made mistakes in Iraq that we will not repeat [in Syria],” in reference to the need for preserving “state institutions.”
Whether Obama did indeed make any of these points is up to the White House to deny or confirm. What is clear, however, is that the Al-Akhbar report reflects Assad’s messaging campaign, which the clerical delegation dutifully carried to Washington. Its substance, in brief, is that the US should partner with Assad as the legitimate government of Syria and protector of Christians. There are no “moderate” Sunni rebels, and the US should not partner with them. Rather, it should partner with legitimate “state institutions,” and not repeat the mistakes made in Iraq. Indeed, as another report in Al-Modon added, the delegation called on Obama to partner with “governments and regular armies.” Al-Akhbar noted that at this point, Obama highlighted US support to the Lebanese Armed Forces as “the best response against ISIS in Lebanon.”
These are the same talking points that the Assad regime and its Iranian and Lebanese allies have been feverishly reciting in recent days and weeks. Aside from interviews Syrian officials gave to US news outlets, the regime reportedly dispatched a letter to members of Congress, including John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi. The letter emphasized the same line the Church leaders carried: there are no moderate rebels, and the US should cooperate with the state. Assad’s Lebanese ally, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil delivered the exact same message at the International Conference for Peace and Security in Iraq, which was held in Paris this past Monday. Bassil’s prepared remarks mirrored the talking points Al-Akhbar highlighted in its report. Bassil urged the international community to work with regular armies. He stressed that counterterrorism operations on the ground need to be done by legitimate governments and regular armed forces. He also highlighted the need for a simultaneous political process, and underscored the primacy of protecting minorities.
It is in this context that the IDC’s clerical delegation should be understood. It was but another facet of the regime’s information operation; an additional avenue to deliver, both to Obama and the US public (especially on the right), the very talking points that the Syrian regime and its allies have been systematically putting out: the US should partner with Assad, the “protector” of Christians.
The reported ties of some of the clerics and financiers of the conference to Assad and his allies did not bother in the least those who rose to its defense. But they didn’t even stop to consider the paradox inherent in the message they’re championing. For even as they warn against relegating Christians to dhimmi status – the status of a “protected” community under strict Islamic rule – the clerics seem to have no problem selling Washington on Assad’s “protection” of Christians. Put differently, this was not a message of universal rights and citizenship. Rather, it was a petition to Washington to underwrite an alliance with a specific political-sectarian camp – a camp, led by Iran, that is engaged in the slaughter and subjugation of Sunni citizens.
The problem, then, was not only the bigotry Lahham and other conference attendees displayed toward Jews at the gala dinner. Rather, it was the bigotry against Sunnis, all while hiding behind cassocks, crosses, and the rhetoric of tolerance.
What’s more, if there aren’t moderate Sunnis, as one of the Christian Patriarchs reportedly told Obama, then how are Middle Eastern Christians going to continue living in the region? If the proposition is an alliance with the Iran-Assad camp, under an American umbrella, then that entails a permanent state of war with the Sunnis, whose slaughter and forced subjugation are to be considered licit.
Despite the pretenses of the conference and the clergymen who promoted this message, and those who defended it, not all Middle Eastern Christians see it this way. Prominent Christian political figures and intellectuals in Lebanon criticized the IDC, and have rejected the call to align with Assad. They note that Christianity has survived for millennia and does not need to, and in no way should, cast its lot with murderous thugs, and deny Sunnis their rights to live free, in order to carry on.
Douthat lamented that “2,000 years of Christian history in the Middle East” now risks ending “in blood and ash and exile,” blaming Ted Cruz and those on the right who criticized the conference. Christian history in the region survived countless hardships just fine. It doesn’t need the so-called protection of a two-bit crime family, let alone the terror-sponsoring Khomeinist state. If these leaders of the Eastern Churches have decided that peddling to Washington a sectarian alliance with a camp that has exiled and spilled the blood of hundreds of thousands of Sunni Muslims is the way to go, then it is they who are responsible for their political choices. Their message lacks both moral and strategic standing. Which means that those Americans who defended it were engaging in purely sectarian behavior – behavior distinctly at odds with American values and traditions.
**Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay.
Ted Cruz: A Man of Principle
Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC)
September 17, 2014
As the public opinion of Congress sinks to new lows, we see in Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator, the rare qualities of strength of character, intelligence and leadership so lacking in modern politics. His detractors call him a demagogue and an extremist and resort to character assassination because they are so frightened by the power of his convictions, moral clarity and lack of political correctness. His style resonates with the American public and is reflected in his meteoric rise in the Senate.
And so we see in James Zogby’s attack on Senator Cruz (Ted Cruz: The Dangers of not Listening) published yesterday more of the obfuscation, double standards and out right bigotry against what he calls ‘Arab Christians’ and their natural allies in Israel. Mr. Zogby accuses Senator Cruz of being a poor listener and exhibiting insensitivity to the concerns of the large crowd that gathered last week in Washington, DC for the ‘In Defense of Christians’ conference. Senator Cruz was the keynote speaker at the IDC conference on Wednesday evening at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
Mr. Zogby’s beef with Senator Cruz stems from the latter’s statement that “Christians have no better ally than the Jewish State” to which he was booed by activists in the gathering. He followed by stating the obvious that “those who hate Jews hate Christians” which was also followed by booing. These forthright pronouncements should be self-evident to the many Middle Eastern Christian gathered that night but their political masters in Iran, Syria and Lebanon would hold them responsible for failing to object. Anyone who even cursorily follows current events knows that the native Christian numbers throughout the Middle East are falling dramatically as a result of Islamic Fundamentalism with one glaring exception: Israel. There the numbers of the faithful are increasing, churches, schools and other institutions are thriving and the Palestinian Christians are even serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.
The attendees know these facts and so does Mr. Zogby who is a well-known lobbyist for various Arab interests. Proclaiming them publicly, however, would cause potentially grave consequences for the attendees who hold positions of power in their native lands-read: politicians, businessmen and high ranking clergy- so they shut their mouths to the persecutions and murders carried out by their political patrons in both Iran and Damascus. Worse, they rush to defend this Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis of evil whenever it is called out by those who really know what is happening in the region and Senator Cruz is most definitely a well-informed leader and listens very well contrary to the assertions of Mr. Zogby.
Senator Cruz is a regular attendee at the Coptic Solidarity Convention which is held annually in Washington. Through his involvement with both Coptic Solidarity and the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) and due to his bright intellect and faith Mr. Cruz is recognized as an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and has been extremely concerned about the persecution of the indigenous Christians and other non-Muslim minorities in the region for some time. For Mr. Zogby to proclaim the ‘ignorance and bigotry’ of Senator Cruz is disingenuous, untrue and reflective of his Arab nationalist mindset which was honed over many decades by defending and promoting the most odious characters and regimes in the Arab world. Regimes such as Saudi Arabia that forbid the practice of Christianity outright, persecute women, moderate Muslims and anyone that doesn’t toe the Salafist line. What hypocrisy!
Now we are to believe that Mr. Zogby is a Christian activist and Senator Cruz a shameless bigot who knows nothing of the Middle East and ‘Arab’ Christians when the opposite is true. Senator Cruz knows that there are indeed Arab Christians but he also is well aware of the pre Arab ethnic identities of most of the Christians of the Middle East. He knows that the liturgical language of the Maronites and Assyro-Chaldeans is Syriac and that many Assyrians in Iraq still speak the language of Christ. He knows that the Copts of Egypt are definitely non-Arab and have suffered for centuries because of their faith, language and culture as have all of the Christians of the Middle East. He is well aware that Copts had their tongues cut off for speaking Coptic after the conquest of the seventh century, do you Mr. Zogby?
Zogby claims in an earlier piece promoting the IDC conference that he is concerned about ‘Arab’ Christians while denying the ancestry of the vast majority who are not. Obviously he doesn’t believe in the Western virtue of diversity choosing to lump all the Middle Eastern Christians under the label of Arabs. This is bigotry bordering on fascism. While the Christians of the Middle East have contributed greatly to the Arab world and in certain times were broadly respected, they have suffered dearly to preserve their religion and culture over the centuries. History is replete with examples of pogroms, slaughters and genocides too numerous to mention. Mr. Zogby can libel Senator Cruz all he wants but the facts are clear. To point out these facts does not make Senator Cruz a bigot, a hater or anything but a truth teller. After all, a basic tenet of Christianity is to bear witness to the truth. The newly minted Christian activist James Zogby should understand this fact quite well.
Mr. Zogby laments that the Middle East is a region of which we know so little imploring us to learn more of the people, culture and social dynamics at work in each country of the region. How can this happen when we have the likes of Mr. Zogby purposefully hiding truths, obfuscating facts and slandering brave leaders like Senator Cruz? The reality of Jihadism is now a worldwide problem that will take bold and courageous leadership to confront and to ultimately defeat. Indeed, moderate Muslims are sounding the same alarm. Middle Eastern Christianity now hangs in the balance. Its leaders can rise to the challenge and act as St. Paul did while proclaiming the good news or they can aid and abet Saul. If they choose the former course, they will have no greater ally than Senator Ted Cruz.
Why Ted Cruz Was Right to Walk Out on the ‘In Defense of
by Katie Gorka 13 Sep 2014
An extraordinary thing happened on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. More
than one thousand people were gathered for a dinner in honor of the newly formed
organization In Defense of Christians.
It should have been a victorious, celebratory moment―and for a short time it was.
The spirit was jubilant as we all took in the fact that at last the crisis affecting Middle East Christians had hit the mainstream. Many of us have been toiling away for years on this issue, happy if we could get ten people in a room to hear our case. Here we were, with Patriarchs and prelates from 12 different countries, and earlier in the day no less than 17 different members of Congress had addressed the gathering. It was an evening to celebrate.
Then U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) came on stage. He was there to give the keynote speech, and this was to be the crowning moment. Senator Cruz opened with these words:
Good evening. Today we are gathered at a time of extraordinary challenge. Tonight we are all united in defense of Christians. Tonight we are all united in defense of Jews. Tonight we are all united in defense of people of good faith who are standing together against those who would persecute and murder those who dare to disagree with their religious teachings.
“Oh no,” someone said quietly at my table. “Don’t go there, Cruz.”
Lebanon and Israel have been engaged in a long-standing conflict, so to mention Jews was to step on an obvious land mine. More than that, word had gone out several months before that the funders of the event were associated with Hezbollah. At first, it was just word of mouth based on sources inside Lebanon.
Then a Syrian-American activist named Frank Ghadry wrote about it, but he subsequently retracted his article and almost all traces of it have been deleted from the web. But you can read it here on Facebook.
Within the NGO community, concerns were expressed about the Hezbollah rumors, but when the Ghadry article was retracted, it seemed these might be just rumors after all.
Cruz’s speech seemed a consummate effort to flush out the true nature of the organizers and their guests. He went on:
Religious bigotry is a cancer with many manifestations. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and their state sponsors like Syria and Iran, are all engaged in a vicious genocidal campaign to destroy religious minorities in the Middle East.
Sometimes we are told not to lump these groups together, that we have to understand their so-called nuances and differences.
But we shouldn’t try to parse different manifestations of evil that are on murderous rampage through the region. Hate is hate and murder is murder.
The grumbling from other tables now became audible, and it was not long before the murmurs and fidgeting erupted into boos and outright heckling.
“Stop it. Stop it,” Someone shouted.
Cruz pushed on: “Let me say this: those who hate Israel hate America.”
“No,” someone shouted back.
Cruz said, “And those who hate Jews hate Christians.”
At this, a number of people in the audience booed in unison.
“And if this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps that the men and women here will not stand in solidarity with Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals who seek to murder them.”
Several members of the audience then walked out of the room to scattered applause, including Antoine Chedid, the Ambassador of Lebanon to the United States, and several Lebanese politicians, a fact which was confirmed by the Daily Star of Lebanon.
Cruz only lasted a minute or two longer before cutting short his speech and walking out with the words: “if you will not stand with Israel and Jews, then I will not stand with you. Thank you and God bless you.”
As soon as Cruz left the stage, the room burst into conversation about the spectacle we had all just witnessed. Some seated at my table said that Cruz had been badly misinformed by his staff about the nature of the event and that someone should be fired.
But what I discovered the next day is that Cruz had known exactly what he was doing. Indeed, he had read the article that had been published about the event just that day and which essentially repeated Frank Ghadry’s allegation that the conference organizers were close to Hezbollah.
Whether Cruz ever contemplated withdrawing from the event is not certain, but what is clear is that he was keenly aware of the alleged links between the organizers of the event and Hezbollah, and he was not going to let that go untested.
Many have criticized Cruz since the event, saying he should have known the audience better or that he was grandstanding. But his actions on Wednesday evening reminded me of the line from the recent New Yorker article about Cruz: “That is the kind of politician Cruz has become―one who came to Washington not to make a deal but to make a point.”
The point he made is two-fold: even in as worthy a cause as defending Christians from extinction in the Middle East, we cannot compromise our fundamental commitment as Americans to the right of all people to live free from persecution and free from the subjugation by totalitarian, supremacist ideologies, such as that espoused by Hezbollah.
The decision by In Defense of Christians to accept the largesse and support of individuals who are widely believed to be associated with Hezbollah was thus a moral failing, but it was a tactical one as well. Any good strategist knows that you cannot enter battle with chinks in your armor. To enter the fray in as serious a fight as that between ISIS and Christianity, one must be invulnerable. To enter into this fight with such an easily identified shortcoming not only hurt the broader cause of protecting Christians, but it hurt all those who have been working for years, often on meager salaries and with little support, to shed light on the plight of Christians. It fed right into the enemy’s hands.
St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, tells us that engaging in spiritual warfare—and what is the war between Christians and the likes of ISIS if not spiritual battle?—that we must be fully prepared. We must put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11). We must gird our waists with truth, and put on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph 6:14).
Ted Cruz clearly is prepared to fight for the Christian cause but is not prepared to do so in ways that support unchristian values. He should be cheered and not heckled for doing so.
Cruz Headlines Conference Featuring Hezbollah Supporters
The Washington Free Beacom
BY: Alana Goodman
published on September 10, 2014
Conference funded by controversial Clinton donor
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) is headlining a conference on Wednesday funded by a
controversial Clinton donor that will feature pro-Hezbollah and pro-Assad
speakers in Washington, D.C.
The “In Defense of Christians” summit is a gathering of Middle Eastern Christian leaders that seeks to raise awareness about the threats to Arab minorities from ISIL.
However, critics fear several of the speakers will try to use the event to bolster Washington’s support for the Syrian regime in its ongoing civil war and help Bashar al-Assad restore his legitimacy and power.
The roster of speakers includes some of the Assad regime’s most vocal Christian supporters, as well as religious leaders allied with the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
Other Washington policymakers scheduled to attend include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), and Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.).
“Some Members were unable to participate as originally scheduled,” the conference’s spokesperson Joseph Cella told the Washington Free Beacon. “Considering the number of speakers we have, this sort of thing happens.”
Funding for the conference was provided by Clinton donor and Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, according to organizers. The wealthy businessman pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2009.
Chagoury is also reportedly backer of Lebanese politician Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s top Christian ally in the country, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Raï, who was scheduled to speak during the same keynote slot as Cruz on Wednesday evening, has called Israel an “enemy state that is occupying Lebanese territory” and defended Hezbollah’s right to attack the Jewish state.
“Everyone says why is Hezbollah carrying arms?” said Rai in a 2011 interview with Al-Arabiya. “We responded that the international community did not exert pressure on Israel to withdraw from Lebanese territory. As long as there is an occupied Lebanese territory, Hezbollah will maintain that it wants to carry arms in defense of its land. What will we say to it then? Isn’t [Hezbollah] right?”
The Maronite leader said earlier this month that he would welcome a meeting with Hezbollah terror chief Hassan Nasrallah to discuss the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) threat against Christians.
“A dialogue committee already exists between [the Lebanon Maronite Church] and Hezbollah, and we are ready to hold any meeting in this respect,” said Rai.
Others at the summit have also aligned themselves with the Iranian-backed terrorist group. Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II posted photos from his meeting with a “high level delegation from Hezbollah” on his official Facebook page last week.
Participants included Al-Sayyed Ibrahim Amin Al-Sayed, president of the Political Council in Hezbollah, and Ghaleb Abou Zeynad, the terror group’s Christian relations attaché. The group discussed the threats facing Christians the need for international intervention to combat ISIL, according to the Syriac Orthodox Church website.
Another conference speaker, Antioch Church patriarch Gregory III Laham has claimed a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam” is responsible for al Qaeda attacks on Iraqi Christians.
“It is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations, and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam,” Laham said in 2010, according to the Daily Star.
The Syrian patriarch has been the subject of controversy inside the Catholic Church. In a published message welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon in 2012, he called on the Holy See to recognize the State of Palestine, causing what the Vatican Insider described as “a great embarrassment to Rome.” In 2013, a prominent French bishop accused Laham of being “an ally politically and financially” of Bashar al-Assad.
Other summit speakers, including Antioch Church leader John X (Yazigi) and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan, have been consistent defenders of the Assad regime.
Younan said last May that Western nations were responsible for the instability in Syria, adding that the notion that the United States was promoting democracy “is a lie, this is hypocrisy.”
“Since the beginning, [Western nations] just stood against the regime, calling it a dictatorship, saying the dictatorship must fall,” said Younan. “Now it’s over 25 months, the conflict is getting worse, and the ones who are paying the price are the innocent people.”
A spokesperson for Cruz said the senator will still speak at the conference despite the controversial participants because he is committed to raising awareness about the persecution of Middle East Christians.
“Sen. Cruz is appearing at the In Defense of Christians event tonight because he wants to take every opportunity to highlight this crisis, the unspeakable persecution of Christians,” said Catherine Frazier. “America has been silent for far too long, and we need to speak with a united voice against this horror. Sen. Cruz is speaking to make the unequivocal point that religious bigotry in all its forms–be it targeting Christians, Jews, or minority Muslim sects–is an evil that must be exposed and combatted.”
Lebanese Information Center president Joseph Gebeily, a Lebanese Christian who staunchly opposes Assad, said he was “shocked” by many of the invited speakers, but decided to attend the conference after he learned members of Congress would be present.
“I decided we should be present and not let the bad representatives of Middle East Christians hijack the true message of Christianity, which is basically democracy, tolerance, co-existence, inclusiveness,” said Gebeily. “It wasn’t a very quick and easy decision, but since we were given this opportunity, I said let’s go and see and face those advocates of tyranny and crimes against humanity.”
Hezbollah-backed stealth conference in Washington DC
FARID GHADRY/ August 15, 2014, 4:50 pm
iraqi newswire (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Hezbollah-backed conference entitled “In Defense of Christians” (IDC) will be held in Washington DC on September 9 thru 11. The conference gathers many of the Christian spiritual and community leaders with influence over the Levant theology and politics
Its title “Protecting and preserving Christianity where it all began” makes all the sense in the world, and its purpose, summarized below, does hit every chord perfectly:
“In the birthplace of Christ, Christians suffer for their faith and their communities are dwindling toward extinction. Christians in Syria, Egypt, the Holy Land, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon—including more than a million Armenians across the region—all these and more face a time of crisis. We must act now to protect them in their ancestral homelands, countries where they have been driving forces of stability and pluralism for over 2,000 years.”
However, when you consider who is behind this organization, only then you realize its danger.
Allegedly, its major backer and bankroller is a Lebanese-Nigerian businessman and a Hezbollah ally named Gilbert Chagouri. My sources in Washington tell me several Federal US Agencies may be investigating Chagouri for funding Hezbollah’s terror. He is also a close business associate of Michel Aoun, the Lebanese General who stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Hassan Nasrallah. Michel Aoun appointed his man in Washington, Toufic Baaklini, to manage IDC operations in his capacity as President of IDC.
Mr. Chagouri’s goal is to exploit the insecurities many Christians feel as sectarian wars rage in the Levant and to take sole control of their communities to serve the wretched agenda of Iran and Hezbollah. “In Defense of Christians” already announced that their second conference will be held in al-Quds (The Arabic name for Jerusalem). With a successful conference under its belt in Washington DC, I predict we will see IDC begin to attack US allies in the region in support of the axis of evil in the Middle East.
Another character who allegedly may be involved is Jamal Daniel, a US businessman with strong ties to the Assad regime. As a Syrian-American, I know how loyal the Daniel family is to Assad, which goes back to the sixties when Atef Daniel, Jamal’s father, helped Assad rise to become President of Syria.
There are, also, some question marks surrounding some of the Christian and civilian leaders participating in this conference when it comes to their anti-Israel rhetoric and strong support for Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran.
For example, Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi of Lebanon has close ties to the Assad regime. He claimed to a Lebanese newspaper, on December 9, 2011, that Assad is launching reforms in the midst of Assad butchering civilians. To this day, al-Rahi remains an apologist for Assad.
Amongst the public figures attending the conference is also Syrian-born Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, a known critic and adversary of Israel and a very close ally to the Assad regime. In December 2010, Laham was quoted as saying that attacks against Levantine Christians were part of a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam”.
James Zogbi, on the advisory board of IDC, will be a keynote speaker. Zogby is the founder of the Arab-American Institute and a rabid critic of Israel. He rarely misses an opportunity to criticize and attack Israel.
Many good people unwittingly have associated themselves with IDC. US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R – FL) and Ex-Attorney General the Honorable John Ashcroft come to mind (There are many more). This only show the deceptive practices of Iran, behind IDC, when its agents are able to recruit patriotic Americans without a hint of their involvement in IDC. My guess Hezbollah was able to recruit them because IDC is using September 11 date to trick them into believing they stand behind the Great Satan.
Although IDC is supposed to be an avid proponent of Christianity, the organization is unable to explain some facts when it comes to that support.
How could IDC explain that Hezbollah assassinated Lebanese Christian MP Jebran Tueini and Antoine Ghanem as well as kill Christian army officers, journalists, and innocent Christian bystanders who died from their bombs? How can they explain how Assad assassinated the up and rising star President Bashir Gemayel and President Rene Mouawad as well as explain all the Assad massacres of Christians in Lebanon over the last 15 years?
Are those participating in the IDC conference realize they are associating themselves with terror against Christians? Seriously, how many Muslim terrorists you know killed Christian Presidents who reached the apogee of their careers? Only Assad and Hezbollah have committed such atrocities against Christians. The same Assad and Hezbollah this conference is kowtowing to.
There is no doubt that the Christians of the Middle East need protection from the onslaught of Islamic extremists. There is no doubt that it is the responsibility of all western leaders to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all the Christians in the Levant and beyond. Personally, as a Muslim, I realize that without the Christians, our region would be far worse politically, economically, and socially. We owe them much and some of us wish we were in power to lead the way for a better future for all the Christians in the region without resorting to violence and terror.
I say to all the Patriarchs and the Cardinals, you all have a heavy responsibility to think about your decision. Associating yourself with mass murderers that have gassed Muslim women and children is not exactly conducive to better relations in the future with the Muslim world. Once you cross that Rubicon, it will be much harder for the next Hariris to help mend the relations.
Look at the Christians of the March 14 Movement in Lebanon to find a common solution based on peaceful co-existence, not anger, or terror. March 14 do not kill Christians or any other people. March 14 does not terrorize Muslims or Christians. Once you commit yourself totally to someone who gassed Muslims and still to this is torturing Muslims in his prisons, you are committing millions of innocent Christians to face the consequences of associating Christianity with terror against Islam.
I say to these leaders that there is a better and brighter future ahead. I urge all the Christian leaders to stand by US allies, and not against them. I urge all the Christian leaders to support the March 14 Movement in Lebanon.
Iran, Assad, and Hezbollah are a weak answer to a difficult question many of you have the right to ask considering the pressures facing you. Some of these pressures Assad concocted deliberately against you to force you to join him (Read this Newsweek article and the US State Department confirming Assad is the one who forged ISIS). History is clear about who are the terrorists and your association with them will not be swept under the rug.
Co-mingling with Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad will not serve the Christian faith in the end. Rafic al-Hariri proved there is a way for all faiths to co-exist peacefully during times of turmoil. This is why Hezbollah and Assad assassinated him. They did it to reach this point in time when you are forced to support their terror. In reality, you do have a choice to walk away from Assad and his ilk.
All American Christians and the American public should boycott this Hezbollah backed conference set-up to dominate the Christian faith in the Levant to be under the control of the terror of Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad.
Finally, my question is, “Where are the liberal Gulf countries in all of this”? Why the Saudis or the Emiratis do not stand behind the Christian leaders to back, morally and financially, a conference in the US as a countermeasure to what Iran is doing? If anything, it is the Sunni assurances the Christian communities need the most; yet, we permit them to slip away to become another lost moon orbiting the gravity of Iran instead of supporting them for all times to be independent minded and most important feel secure and safe in practicing their faith.
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Sent: 7/11/2014 2:10:26 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: in DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANS (IDC) SUMMIT INVITATION WASHINGTON D.C SEPT 9-11
At this moment across the Cradle of Christianity, our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and martyred for their faith. We are told in Hebrews 13 to continue to remember those mistreated as if we ourselves are suffering. As Christians, we are called to band together to shine a bright light on this ongoing, deteriorating situation in the Middle East, and to make it an issue of urgency for our fellow faithful and policymakers alike.
I write today on behalf of the Board of Directors of the newly constituted non-profit, non-partisan organization, In Defense of Christians (IDC). Our mission is threefold: awareness, advocacy and unity.
To that end, I would like to invite you to attend IDC’s inaugural Summit for Middle East Christians, in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday and Thursday, September 9,10th and 11th, 2014 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The theme of this first-of-its kind conference is Protecting and Preserving Christianity, Where It All Began.
Distinguished speakers already committed to attend include His Eminence Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches, His Eminent Beatitude Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Ambassador Tom Farr of Georgetown University, and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO RSVP.
This two-day Summit will provide us with an opportunity to join with the Diaspora of the Christian and religious minority communities to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, and to hear from distinguished lay and religious speakers on the front lines of providing relief, shaping public policy, or ministering to the spiritual needs of those suffering at the hands of brutal regimes focused on extinguishing the light of faith in the land where Christ lived, taught and sacrificed for us.
We promise this will be a rewarding time to be informed and, we hope, inspired to stand shoulder to shoulder with those of us who support freedom and faith for all. To confirm your ability to serve as a speaker, or if you have any questions please contact me at 703-501-1024, our IDC’s Executive Director, Andrew Doran, at 734-276-7799.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
In Defense Of ChristIans (IDC)