CHICAGO, July 25, 2017 – The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) is launching a campaign to aid Christians and other minorities in the Middle East who have been targeted by radical Islamist terrorism, including Egypt’s embattled Coptic Christians.
The Fellowship last week began raising an initial $100,000 among its 1.6 million supporters to help Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who have been recent targets of Islamist terror. Called the “Bless the Persecuted” campaign, the initiative will provide financial and medical aid, psychological counseling, and programs for families and children who have been victims of terror and other forms of religious persecution.
“These cowardly acts betray a hatred of a people for no other reason than their faith,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship’s founder and president. “Just as we continue to combat anti-Semitism, so we must fight this growing persecution against Christians throughout the Middle East. We cannot stand idly by. An attack on one of us is an attack on all – and we are committed to stand with those who have been targeted.”
A spike in terror attacks targeting the Coptic Christians of Egypt, a community of 20 million that comprises about 15 percent of Egypt’s population, is driving the campaign. In December 2016, an attack on a church in Cairo killed 25 people; this past April two Coptic Christian churches were bombed on Palm Sunday, killing 43; and in May 2017, 28 died when gunmen opened fire on a bus taking families to visit a nearby monastery.
The Fellowship has publicly condemned and spoken out against such attacks, and has already begun to provide aid to the Coptic Christian population in Egypt – including a summer camp for children of families who were victims of attacks, food and financial aid, medical aid, and counseling – with nearly $85,000 in funds. But this week’s campaign aims to provide an additional 80 families with such assistance, at a cost of between $200 and $500 per family.
The effort to help persecuted Christians broadens a longtime push by The Fellowship to stand with embattled and needy Christians and other religious minorities in Israel and throughout the Middle East. Since 2013, The Fellowship has been providing aid to Druze refugees of the Syrian civil war who have fled to Jordan. Altogether The Fellowship has provided more than $700,000 in aid to persecuted Mideast minorities outside Israel.
Meanwhile, since 2008 The Fellowship has financially aided the 160,000 Christian-Arab citizens of Israel, who make up about two percent of Israel’s population. Aid for Israel’s Christian Arabs has varied each year depending on the community’s needs, but ranged from delivering $90 food vouchers to needy families for Christmas dinners to awarding $1,300 educational scholarships to Israeli-Christian citizens who served in the Israeli army. The Fellowship has provided several million dollars in aid to Israeli Christian Arabs in the past decade.
Beyond the current campaign, The Fellowship plans to continue to respond to urgent needs for all persecuted Mideast Christians and other minorities.
About The Fellowship:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide – and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.4 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto, and Seoul. For more information, visit ifcj.org.