A May 19 FrontPageMag article by Mike Finch -- the vice president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center -- accuses National Geographic magazine of "Jew-hate" by publishing an "anti-Semitic hate screed." But Finch selectively quotes from the article in question, pulling statements out of context.
We learn of Lisa and Mark, a Palestinian Christian family living on the outskirts of Jerusalem. They are getting ready for the Easter celebration in the city, a time of excitement. However the mood is brought crashing down as we learn of the horrible life they are forced to live. Israeli law, checkpoints, the “Wall”, permit papers, have made their life unbearable. As Mark states, “it’s like a science experiment. If you keep the rats in the enclosed space and make it smaller and smaller every day and introduce new obstacles and constantly change the rules, after a while the rats go crazy and start eating each other. It’s like that.” Huh??
Two long paragraphs are given to repeat this style of Hamas and PLO propaganda on the horrors of the Nazi Apartheid Israeli state. We have all heard this claptrap before of course, but now a great secret is revealed to us. The Christians are leaving because Israel is an anti-Christian tyrannical regime. Why of course, it’s the Jews fault!
But the National Geographic article in question puts the couple's criticism of Israel puts the couple's situation in a context that Finch doesn't provide his readers:
This is the first Easter, ever, that Mark has been allowed to spend with the family in Jerusalem. He is from Bethlehem, in the West Bank, so his identity papers are from the Palestinian Authority; he needs a permit from Israel to visit. Lisa, whose family lives in the Old City, holds an Israeli ID. So although they've been married for five years and rent this apartment in the Jerusalem suburbs, under Israeli law they can't reside under the same roof. Mark lives with his parents in Bethlehem, which is six miles away but might as well be a hundred, lying on the far side of an Israeli checkpoint and the 24-foot-high concrete barrier known as the Wall.
But just so the Jews are not alone in the blame game, there are other culprits. No, again, it is not the area’s suicidal Islamists who view Christians as infidels who need to be subjugated to inferior human status, converted by force or killed. No, further blame falls on the Christians in the West, the United States, George Bush (naturally) and his “regime change” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the Crusaders get thrown in again. Amazing what ills of the world those poor Crusaders have been blamed for. Genghis Kahn and Attila the Hun must be jealous.
Again, Finch takes the statement out of context, falsely portraying the Palestinian and Arab Christians as directly blaming America for their plight:
For anyone living in Israel or the Palestinian territories, stress is the norm. But the 196,500 Palestinian and Israeli Arab Christians, who dropped from 13 percent of the population in 1894 to less than 2 percent today, occupy a uniquely oxygen-starved space between traumatized Israeli Jews and traumatized Palestinian Muslims, whose rising militancy is tied to regional Islamist movements that sometimes target Arab Christians. In the past decade, "the situation for Arab Christians has gone rapidly downhill," says Razek Siriani, a frank and lively man in his 40s who works for the Middle East Council of Churches in Aleppo, Syria. "We're completely outnumbered and surrounded by angry voices," he says. Western Christians have made matters worse, he argues, echoing a sentiment expressed by many Arab Christians. "It's because of what Christians in the West, led by the U.S., have been doing in the East," he says, ticking off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. support for Israel, and the threats of "regime change" by the Bush Administration. "To many Muslims, especially the fanatics, this looks like the Crusades all over again, a war against Islam waged by Christianity. Because we're Christians, they see us as the enemy too. It's guilt by association."
Finch continues his fact-free screed:
When we get back to Lisa and Mark, we learn that the Israeli settlements will mean “no more water for us” and in a moment of candor she states “I hate the Israelis, I really hate them. I think even Nate (their 3 year old son) is starting to hate them.” Maybe Lisa needs to search for a few New Testament passages to read to little Nate instead of spreading this vile anti-Semitic hatred that has so infected her people
But Finch took that out of context too, omitting what the article stated next:
"I hate the Israelis," Lisa says one day, out of the blue. "I really hate them. We all hate them. I think even Nate's starting to hate them."
Is that a sin? I ask.
"Yes, it is," she says. "And that makes me a sinner. But I confess my sins when I go to church, and that helps. I'm learning not to hate. In the meantime, I go to confession."
"Hate destroys the spirit of those who hate," says Father Rafiq Khoury, a soft-spoken Palestinian priest who hears his share of confessions at the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem. "But even in the midst of all these troubles, all this violence and despair driving Christians away, you can see new life in the faces of young people and experience the hope that is God's gift to humanity. That is the message of Easter."
Finch asserts that "National Geographic has forever shamed itself" by publishing this article, but it's Finch who has shamefully taken the article out of context and falsely accused the magazine of being anti-Semitic. We'd demand a retraction if we thought Finch was capable of feeling shame.