Christians being targeted in Iran deserve our help

Imagine the morning after Christmas, security officials surround your parents’ home and force their way inside by destroying the front door. 

They wake you up, search everyone and seize your pictures, hard drive and even steal the cash out of your wallet. Later you are beaten, handcuffed and imprisoned in solitary confinement for 15 months before being handed a six-year sentence. 

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This is what Iranian pastor Farshid Fathi faced on Dec. 26, 2010. He was given a “system of justice” that was anything but just. His accusation? Reportedly being a Christian, having Bibles printed in Farsi and running a network of house churches in Tehran. 

The Iranians have labeled Fathi’s belief in Jesus and desire to share his faith “political offenses,” equivalent to “actions against national security.” Yet, Fathi is not alone in suffering persecution under the government of Iran for religious beliefs. 

During the past year, religious minorities living in Iran have experienced a major intensification of physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests and imprisonment. 

Since June 2010, more than 300 Christians have been arrested and detained in Iran. As of this past Christmas, at least a dozen Christians remain in prison. 

This deliberate, intentional targeting of religious minorities in Iran should deeply concern every American and the entire international community. Iran’s appalling violations of individual liberty have no place in today’s world. 

Fathi is one of many prisoners of conscience who need our prayers and advocacy, and I hope our State Department will not ignore the plight of these oppressed.

From Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Anderson, S.C.


Reporting on Mideast peace talks incomplete

“Crunch time for Obama on peace in Middle East” (March 3), was strangely incomplete. Its expert sources, from the Brookings Institution through the Israel Policy Forum to J Street, ran from center-left to far left. The current and most recent previous Israeli government coalitions are and were center-right, but no sources reflecting such views were cited.

J Street is described as “the liberal pro-Israel lobby group.” J Street initially denied its funding by anti-AIPAC billionaire George Soros. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is the large, registered pro-Israel lobby. J Street has opposed Israeli retaliation for attacks from the Gaza Strip. It has criticized Elie Wiesel for his support of Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. A more accurate description of the group would be pro-Palestinian.

The article says that Israel’s “planned release of a group of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March [is] a deeply unpopular move among part” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. The prisoners are convicted murderers of Israelis and their release, the third such “confidence-building” parole for the Palestinian side, is unpopular across the political spectrum.

The Hill’s report asserts Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas “risks severely damaging the Palestinian national movement if he pulls out of the talks.” The PA is led by Abbas’s Fatah movement, the main component of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO never has renounced its “covenant” that terms Israel’s establishment “null and void.” Hamas, the Islamic terrorist movement in charge of the Gaza Strip, also calls for Israel’s destruction. More likely, recognition of and peace with Israel as a Jewish state would severely damage the Palestinian national movement. Hence Abbas’s drive for a unilateral statehood declaration from the United Nations and his rejection of Israel’s offer of a West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem country in return for peace and coexistence in 2008. 

As for your reference to an Israeli newspaper called Al Haaretz, it’s just Ha’aretz, Hebrew for “the land [of Israel]. “Al” is Arabic for “the,” so “Al Haaretz,” to a reader of both Hebrew and Arabic, would be “the the land.”

Readers of The Hill expect better.

From Eric Rozenman, Washington director, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, Washington, D.C.


Obama policies giving Russia the upper hand

The Russian annexation of Crimea is not just an attempt to re-unite fellow Russians or control strategic territory; it is an effort to assert dominance over the energy resources and financial decisions of Eastern Europe. 

Belarus is already and Ukraine will soon be client-states. Will Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia become subservient as well? Western Europe will not jeopardize the flow of Russian oil and natural gas through these countries; nor, in the future, will it encourage the flow of western capital investments into these countries. Poland has large deposits of shale oil and gas; yet, it is in need of capital intensive hydraulic fracturing equipment and technology to extract it. President Obama and his liberal allies have opposed installing missile defense in Poland and admitting Ukraine to NATO, and his environmentalist allies are opposed to “fracking” that would give these countries energy and financial independence. If you want to change power relationships in Eastern Europe, you need to change the party in power in Washington.

From Michael McCarthy