Monday, June 7, 2021

The Truth About Mideast Genocide

When fighting to prevent genocide and to bring to justice those who commit genocide, it is essential to accurately identify genocidal actions, and to distinguish such actions from actions that have been falsely called genocidal actions. When a country is falsely accused of genocide, that slander not only damages that country but it also diverts attention and resources that are needed to combat genocide. As I noted in a recent article, based on the legal and historical definitions of genocide and apartheid, Israel has never committed genocide and is not an "apartheid state."  

Everyone who slanders Israel with false accusations is not only damaging Israel--and encouraging/giving comfort to those who commit antisemitic attacks against innocent Jews who are targeted because of the hate that has been fomented against the Jewish State--but also causing serious harm to past, present, and future victims of genocide whose suffering goes unrecognized and whose tormentors are not brought to justice.

If you really care about genocide in general and Mideast genocide in particular then you must become informed about not only current events but also the region's history. When the Mob Came for the Jews of Baghdad by Joseph Samuels provides a chilling account of the destruction of Iraq's 2500 year old Jewish community, a 20th century genocide committed by the spiritual (if not also physical) ancestors of the people who now falsely accuse Israel of committing genocide.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

I was 10 when mobs attacked the Jewish community of Baghdad, my community, with cruel and unimaginable violence. Rioters maimed, raped, killed and robbed the unsuspecting Jews. This massacre, which began June 1, 1941, was called the Farhud, Arabic for "violent dispossession" or pogrom.

The seeds of the Farhud had been sown two months earlier. On April 1, a pro-Nazi coup d’├ętat overthrew the pro-British Iraqi government and seized power. The coup was staged by Rashid Ali al Gaylani, an Arab nationalist and former Iraqi prime minister, supported by four army generals, and aided by Fritz Grobba, a former German ambassador to Iraq. This dangerous group was further stoked by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, who deeply hated the Jews. Anti-Semitic propaganda began to appear in the daily newspapers and in broadcasts on Radio Baghdad. It was intended to inflame the Muslim population and rally support for the new regime.

The Jewish community bore the brunt of this explosive combination of Arab nationalism, Nazi propaganda and anti-Semitism. In the weeks after the coup my family stayed home most of the time, huddled around the large console radio. We listened with disbelief to reports of Jews being arrested and accused of anti-Iraqi sentiment and of spying for the British. I shook just thinking of the torture being carried out to extract false confessions.

On May 31, 1941, the British army arrived at the outskirts of Baghdad. The pro-Nazi government collapsed quickly, but al Gaylani and his co-conspirators escaped to Iran. The Jewish community in Baghdad felt a sense of relief, especially as it coincided with the eve of the Shavuot festival, commemorating the time when God gave us the Ten Commandments. We had good reason to rejoice.

But that high spirit didn't last long, and joy reverted to pain and sorrow. The absence of a functioning government created a power vacuum. Across the country, chaos and lawlessness followed.

The Farhud erupted early Monday morning, June 1. Soldiers in civilian clothes, policemen and large crowds of Iraqi men, including Bedouins brandishing swords and daggers, joined in the pillage, helping themselves to loot as they plundered more than 1500 Jewish homes and stores. For two days, the rioters murdered between 150 and 780 Jews--exact counts aren't known--injured 600 to 2000 others, and raped an indeterminable number of women. All through the night we heard their screams. We heard gunshots too, then sudden quiet. Unarmed and unprepared to defend themselves, Jews were vulnerable and helpless. I was shaken, desperate and angry...

After Iraq's failure in its May 1948 war to extinguish Israel, the new Jewish state, the Iraqi government reignited its assault on its own Jewish citizens...Around 150,000 Iraqi Jews--most of the community--are estimated to have left Iraq by 1952. Most were allowed to bring one suitcase each.

Today, only four known Jews live in Iraq. Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa had existed for millennia, but they are nearly all gone. Around 850,000 Jews like us were forced to leave their countries. They, too, left behind their homes, businesses, irreplaceable historical artifacts and religious treasures. This was ethnic cleansing of Jews, right after the Holocaust, in the middle of the 20th century. 

It must be added that the same hatred and fanaticism that resulted in ethnic cleansing of the Jews of the Arab and Islamic world is currently directed by Arab and/or Islamic regimes at a variety of ethnic groups throughout the Middle East and Africa, including the Yazidi people in Iraq and the Kurdish people in Syria. The transatlantic African slave trade is justifiably decried and widely discussed, but why is the history of massive Arab/Muslim slave trading in Africa often ignored? This question is even more pertinent when one considers that Arab/Muslim oppression of various African populations still is happening today, while the transatlantic African slave trade thankfully has not existed for well over 100 years.

Genocide is also being committed against Muslims, most notably by China against the Uighur people, but self-proclaimed "progressive" businesses like the NBA are too busy making money in China to speak out and speak up.

The slanders against Israel--which are becoming mainstream talking points for far too many Democrats and self-proclaimed "progressives"--not only damage Israel and imperil the safety of Jews but also enable the real perpetrators of genocide to commit evil without fear of consequences.

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