Raheb, a Palestinian Christian theologian, resists what he considers the West's simplistic and counterproductive focus on the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians. He seeks to dispel the notion that Middle Eastern Christians are hapless victims of their Muslim neighbors, claiming their real story consists of "resilience more than persecution."
Politics of Persecution does a decent job of covering large swaths of history and discussing how various Christian denominations and institutions interacted. That said, Raheb, founder and president of Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, argues, in essence, that nearly every bad thing that befell Middle Eastern Christians since 1798 can be blamed on the West, particularly those he deems rightwing Christians or Christian Zionists. The rest is details. This analysis is as simplistic as the one he hopes to refute, just changing the aggressor from Muslims to Westerners.
Consider the Armenian genocide. Forced to concede that Turks perpetrated this massacre, he blames European colonialism and "Arab nationalism" (which he also blames on the West) for the fall of the Ottoman Empire, to which he attributes the genocide. He tepidly criticizes the Turks for the genocide, devoting more attention to the Ottomans' German ally failing to prevent that genocide than to discussing the atrocity itself.
Raheb's many slapdash errors make it hard to trust his analysis. He blames "evangelicals" and their "Republican Representatives" for a "narrow focus" on Christian persecution in the late 1990s, and especially, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, ignoring the fact that IRFA passed unanimously in the Senate, met little opposition in the House, and was signed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Another example: Raheb states that Donald Trump's election as president in 2016 "brought the issue of Christian persecution back into focus," ignoring that ISIS' genocide had far more to do with the issue gaining the limelight.
Raheb's language may be academic, but his approach resembles that of an overzealous prosecutor, one lacking the skills to convince a jury. It is almost humorous to witness how, at various times, he portrays Protestant Christian communities in the Middle East as tools of Western imperialism, or useful critics of European actions, or hapless victims "sacrificed on the altar of Western national interests," seemingly depending on which narrative makes the West look bad.
Raheb unintentionally reveals how focusing monomaniacally on the sins of the West, real or imagined, is not only bad history, but also undermines the agency of Middle Eastern Christians whom he purports to champion.