Saturday's editorial about the lack of progress toward Middle East peace ("Where is love?") noted a recent Egyptian court decision to strip citizenship from Egyptians who marry Israelis. Some context may be useful. By the way, Egypt is not the only Arab country with a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan has had one since 1994. The Egyptian court decision, which is largely symbolic, has a cruel Israeli parallel. In 2003, Israel's parliament enacted a law that prohibits any of its thousands of Christian and Muslim citizens who marry Palestinians from living together with their spouses. So-called Israeli Arabs, descendants of the original Palestinians who were not made refugees in 1948, comprise about 20 percent of Israel's population.
You also mentioned the plight of Middle Eastern Christians by focusing on Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments on political Islam. But other factors have also created hardship on Christians in the region, such as the Israeli occupation, causing Palestinian Christians to leave Bethlehem, other places in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, and our own invasion of Iraq, resulting in sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing, which has caused half of all Iraqi Christians to flee.
While things are by no means perfect, most Arab Christians in the Middle East have been able to live harmoniously with their neighbors. Lebanon, with the largest percentage of Christians (about 40 percent), recently established the Feast of the Annunciation of Mary as a national holiday through the joint sponsorship of the Christian and Muslim communities, recognizing their shared devotion to Mary.
Peace in the Middle East is possible, and necessary to our own national interest. As your editorial stated, building peace requires patience. But the press can contribute to that patient process only by providing accurate information and informed interpretation.
Philadelphia Arab-American Development Corps