Washington, D.C. -- Passover and Easter -- intrinsically linked in the Jewish and Christian traditions -- are both being celebrated this weekend. For observant Jews, Passover commemorates the Hebrews' liberation from slavery under Egypt's pharaoh. For faithful Christians, Easter is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection from the grave and the fulfillment of a new covenant between God and man. Biblical passages in Exodus 12, Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20 describe these historical events and the reasons for festivities among people of faith. But this year, instead of rejoicing, these holidays are a time of extraordinary anxiety for Christians and Jews in the Middle East.
The Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors are gone. Yet, Jews and Christians now living in the region must contend with new lethal threats: the hatred of radical Islamists seizing power from Tunisia to Syria; vicious sectarian cleansing; and the prospect of being incinerated by an Iranian nuclear weapon. Tragically, all this is being facilitated by the catastrophic incompetence, malfeasance, naivety and hubris of an American president -- with the complicity of the mainstream media.
In days leading up to this year's Passover and Easter holidays we have seen no less than three "leaks" of sensitive information from the U.S. government about possible Israeli plans to stop the ayatollahs from building nuclear weapons. Stories in Foreign Policy magazine, Bloomberg News and ABC News -- all sourced to anonymous Obama administration, Pentagon, State Department and congressional officials -- allege that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consummated a secret military alliance with the autocratic government in Azerbaijan to use Azeri airfields in the event of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites. When questioned about the stories, White House and State Department spokesmen claim to have "no information" to confirm the validity of the information.
That's completely disingenuous.
For months, the Obama administration has been doing everything possible -- overtly and covertly -- to dissuade Israel from launching a preemptive attack on Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities before the U.S. presidential election. In February, the Washington Post claimed that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes that an Israeli action would likely take place in April, May or June of this year. During last month's meeting with President Obama, Netanyahu was purportedly told that the U.S. will not assist in a military strike on Iran and that new appropriations for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and spare parts for Israeli Air Force F-15s and F-16s could be "at risk" if Israel acts unilaterally. Now, "leaked" cables, congressional reports and "administration sources" describe how such an attack could be conducted by prepositioning refueling and search and rescue assets at bases in Azerbaijan. These stories are a gift to the rulers in Tehran.
The ayatollahs' atomic bomb isn't a singular existential threat to Israel. In Egypt, radical Islamists now control Cairo's parliament and are poised to take power in next month's presidential elections. Islamist candidates all talk about "renegotiating" or even abrogating the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. Though Obama professes "steadfast support for Israel," he and his allies in the press have been mute about recent attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza and the Sinai.
Islamic militants in the Sinai desert have blown up the Egyptian natural gas pipeline serving Israel and Jordan more than a dozen times in the past year. Last week, a group of armed men professing "jihad and martyrdom" surrounded and blockaded a U.N. Multinational Observer Force base in the Sinai -- sequestering U.S., Spanish and Fijian troops enforcing the peace accord. Somehow these events and a Passover-eve rocket attack on the Israeli resort at Eilat evaded the attention of the mainstream media and officials in Washington.
The Jews of Israel and American troops deployed as "peacekeepers" in the Sinai aren't the only ones facing great danger this Passover-Easter season. So, too, is every Christian in the Arab Middle East. Coptic Christians unable to flee Egypt are under increasing duress as their homes, churches and businesses are destroyed. This week, an Egyptian court sentenced a Christian teenager to three years in prison for "blasphemy" and "insulting Islam." The boy posted a caricature of a bearded Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in a veil on Twitter.
Radical Islamists calling the shots in Tunisia and Libya now admonish the tiny Christian communities remaining in these countries to "leave or die." Only a handful of Christians remain in Iraq -- once home to tens of thousands. In Syria, brutal, documented atrocities against Christians by radical Islamist "rebels" include public beheadings, rapes, looting and the intentional destruction of homes, schools and churches. The White House reaction to all this? Instead of righteous outrage -- it is met with surreal silence.
According to Matthew's Gospel, Judas Iscariot sold out Jesus of Nazareth for 30 pieces of silver. What is Barack Obama's fee for selling out Christians and Israelis?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the American Heroes book series and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.