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What Jews and Christians in the Middle East Have in Common, by Robert Nicholson (Philos Project via Mosaic

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Dec. 29, 2016

While Christian populations throughout the Arab world are in decline—due to discrimination, war, and in some places genocide—Israel is the one state in the region whose Christian population has grown in recent years. Robert Nicholson explains the shared fate of members of the two faiths living in the shadow of Islam, noting that, “as go the Jews in the Middle East, so go the Christians.”

Despite their many differences, these two communities share something positive and profound in the Hebraic tradition—that unique blend of stories and ideas that arise from the pages of the Hebrew Bible. Only Jews and Christians share this text, and both have been influenced by it in ways that are hard to overstate.

Embracing the Hebraic tradition . . . should not be seen as a negative response to Islam any more than a Muslim’s embracing the Islamic tradition should be seen as an insult to Christianity. It is natural and even desirable that communities celebrate their own unique identities. Recognizing who we are as Jews and Christians helps us understand the limits of our civilization and the futility of trying to impose it on others. It frees us to be ourselves and to defend who we are without guilt. . . .

The Middle East is the place in which the Hebraic and Islamic traditions meet. Both share Semitic roots, revere sacred texts, and hold transcendent views of God that trace their origins back to Abraham. It may be argued that a reinvigorated Hebraic tradition will understand Islam much better than the Hellenic tradition has been able to do so far. Religion is a powerful force in the Middle East, and Western diplomats ignore it to their detriment. . . .

A diverse Middle East is a peaceful Middle East. Millions of Muslims understand this, and welcome the presence of these minorities as neighbors.

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