The current issue focuses on Jerusalem, St. Sophronius, and the village of Taybeh (biblical Ephraim,) the last all-Christian village in Palestine. The mayor is David Khoury, but the interview is with his wife, Dr. Maria C. Khoury, noted Greek-American educator, author, lecturer and advocate for Palestinian Christians. After the Oslo Agreement of 1993, the Khourys returned from the U.S. and founded Palestine's only micro-brewery. Against incredible obstacles, the business survives today.
Before 1948, Christians comprised anywhere from 13% to 25% of Palestine's population (50% in Jerusalem itself.). Now the Christian population is less than 2% in Gaza and the West Bank, and less than 2% in Israel itself. The Palestinian Christian population has been forced to leave the region in even greater percentages than their Muslim neighbors. Their plight is largely overlooked, even by their American Orthodox brethren, of whom many seem as ignorant and ill-informed as the average American. Dr. Khoury recounts lectures to American Greek Orthodox audiences where they would express surprise to learn that all Palestinians were not terrorists, or that there were "good" Palestinians.
Dr. Khoury on Christian Zionism:
Zionism, a political movement founded by Theodore Herzl in the the 19th century to lobby for a secular homeland for the Jews, took on a Christian religious context when 20th-century evangelical Christians , mostly in America, began linking Zionism to their interpretation of Old Testament passages. Now there are many American evangelical Christians, whom we call Zionist Christians, who believe that modern Israel with the guns, the gunships, the bulldozers, the bombers, is the New Israel of our gospels. According to their thinking, once Israel has a 100% Jewish homeland and gains complete control, then Christ will return. They are trying to hasten the Second Coming.
We Orthodox Christians don't hold this view. Our New Testament Israel is a spiritual homeland because the Messiah came and we have been baptized into Christ. Jesus Christ became man through that Hebrew ethnicity, and when we sing and chant in our services about Israel, we Christians, (the Church) are the New Israel. The New Israel is not the physical Israel with its guns. We believe that the Lord has only told us to be alert, to watch, to be ready, but there is nothing we have to do to bring about Judgment Day. That will come in His own time. Yet this grave misinterpretation drives many evangelical Christians to blindly support Israeli policy.
Case in point, there is this:
Potential 2012 U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Jewish settlers Monday that attempts to prevent them from building in east Jerusalem are as outrageous as housing discrimination in the United States.
"I cannot imagine, as an American, being told I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English," he said.
Huckabee dismissed the notion that Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians want for a future state are obstacles to peace. Instead, he backed the settlers' view that they have the right to build anywhere in "the place that God gave them."
The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a group that promotes settlements in an attempt to bolster a Jewish presence in mostly Arab areas, hosted Huckabee and actor Jon Voight on the first day of their three-day visit.
Huckabee visited the Shepherd Hotel, the former residence of the mufti of Jerusalem that was destroyed in early January to make way for Jewish homes. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had rebuked Israel for knocking down the hotel - a position Huckabee brushed off.
"I think we ought to be more concerned about Iran building bombs than Israelis building bedrooms," Huckabee said.
I am an unapologetic voter. This is something of a family thing on my dad's side--many generations of what I consider to be principled voting. I am not ideologically driven. We've seen where that's gotten us in the early years of this century. In national elections, I always vote foreign policy. Domestically, we are such an ungovernable muddle, that I do not think it really makes much difference. And the same argument can be made with foreign policy as well. What differences there are are just matters of degree. But these can be crucial. Mr. Huckabee's smug worldview is normative for his party--and that frightens me.