Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, too

Ray Hanania (Palestine/USA) –
This week I got a chance to meet a Christian Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Nadia Hilou (Hilo). She is a member of the labor Party, and is the only Christian Arab woman, one of 17 total women, and one of two Arab Christians in the Israeli parliament. Nadia was the guest on my radio show in Chicago (RadioChicagoland). The segment interviews are podcast through a lot of sites including iTunes. (The link is on the web site).
She has an interesting story to tell about the challenges she faces as a Christian Palestinian in a Jewish and Islamic World, in the Middle East and as an Arab living in Israel. What’s amazing about her is that she was elected not from a “quota” seat which is the only way Christians can ever be elected in the Arab World — including in Jordan where my cousin has held a seat in the Jordanian Senate, in a seat reserved for Christians — but rather as a candidate appealing to a broad constituency that include some Christian Arab Israelis, some more Muslim Arab Israelis and a a majority of Israeli Jews. She still won a seat and maybe she foretells the future of “Democratic” Israel.
Most Arabs cannot win in Israeli elections unless they run on Arab lists in Arab regions. Israeli Jews will not vote for them, reflecting Israel’s Jewish society which seeks to exclude Christian and Muslim citizens. But that’s no different than the traditions in the Arab World, Look at Iraq. If President Bush had an ounce of intelligence in his brain — he doesn’t, although he has become more compassionate towards the Palestine-Israel conflict, although it has taken 7 years — he would have recopgnized that you can’t bring Democracy to Iraq. Sunnis vote for Sunnis’ Shi’ites vote for Shi’ites. Assyrians vote for Assyrians. Turkomen vote for Turkomen. Kurds vote for Kurds and so on. It’s a fact of life in the Arab World too, and in Palestine, the cloests thing the Arabs have to a “Democracy” — it’s as much a Democracy as is Israel.
I hope you enjoy it. And if I can figure out how to place it on our MEY podcasts, I’ll try.
Also, I think that for Christian Arabs is that Jews often embrace them more than Muslims. As a Christian Arab comedian, for example, I am excluded from the Muslim Comedy circuit and from the activist comedy circuit, partly because of my “moderate” views which the other comedians either do not want to address (because it’s bad for their careers) or they disagree with. I understand that. But Christian Arabs are excluded from almost every aspect these days of the Muslim Arab society.
Secular Arabs are being eclipsed by the Islamic activists and today’s Muslim, who, it seems, focuses on him or herself rather than on the larger Arab Nation. Arab Nationalism has been replaced by Islamicism. Christian Arabs are marginalized, patronized and exploited mainly to score points against Israel.
And the mainstream American media, including even places like the so-called “progressive” Public Television also has pushed aside Arab Christians, and that is an amazing thing ocnsidering that American Christians essential are the descendents of Palestinian Christians. One day Arab Christians will eventually disappear. And that’s bad news for Christianity, the Arab World and especially for Israel.
Ray Hanania
(I also now write for The