For the United Nation’s (UN) and the international media, there is one standard for Palestinian people and refugees, and another for others. This can be deduced from the reaction to the plight of the Iraqi Christians and the Yazidis (a Kurdish ethno-religious group of people, concentrated primarily in the Nineveh Province in Northern Iraq, now occupied by the fanatical jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] now called the Islamic State – IS.) The Yazidis practice a syncretic religion that fuses Shia and Sufi Islam along with indigenous regional folk traditions. They are considered infidels by the Sunni Muslim IS and the Gaza Palestinians.
There are no protest marches in European capitals or American cities on behalf of the Christians and Yazidis of Iraq like those recently held in solidarity with Hamas in Gaza. Nor has there been sustained media coverage of Christian and Yazidi suffering, as was seen during the Gaza war about the Palestinians.
At an August 12, 2014 press conference UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon bemoaned the situation of the Yazidis. “The plight of the Yazidis and others (meaning Christians) on Mount Sinjar is especially harrowing.” While devoting a few obligatory lines about the Yazidis in Iraq, Ban Ki-Moon failed to provide the “harrowing” dimensions of their tragedy, including the murder of 500 Yazidis by decapitation and live burials and the 300 Yazidi women who were kidnapped and forced into sex-slavery by the IS jihadists.
Ban Ki-Moon did, however, elaborate on the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. He said, “According to preliminary information, nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed –almost 75 percent of them civilians, including 459 children…more than 300,000 people are still sheltering in UNRWA (United Nation Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) schools, government and private schools and other public facilities or with host families. At least 100,000 people have had their homes destroyed or severely damaged. Most of Gaza’s households have little or no water supply. Hospitals meant to cope with disaster are themselves disaster zones. The new school year was scheduled to start in less than two weeks, but a great many of the buildings will not be ready or are totally unusable in their current state.”
The UN Secretary General failed to mention in his statement to the press that Hamas has fired its rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians from UNRWA schools, hospitals and private homes, as well as public facilities, including mosques and churches in contravention of international law. And, while it is regretful that Palestinian children might not be able to start school on time (courtesy of Hamas), Christian and Yazidi children in Iraq have no schools or hospitals to go to at all. At least 1 million Christians and 500,000 Yazidis had to abandon their homes and, with no shelter on the mountain, are completely exposed to the elements. The exact number of Christians and Yazidis killed by the Islamic State is hitherto unknown, albeit, a one day toll of murdered Christians stood at 1,700 in what amounts to a genocide. These numbers are likely to be far greater than the Palestinians killed in Gaza. Moreover, their deaths might bring to an end the existence of one of the oldest Christian (Assyrian) sects in the world.
The exact number of Iraqi Christians is hard to come by. The figure often mentioned is about 400,000 to 500,000 who live in the country, down from a total before the 2003 war of perhaps 1.5 million. Other observers think as few as 200,000 may be left. The majority of the remaining Christians live in the far north of the country. The IS capture of Iraq’s second largest city – Mosul, in northern Iraq, prompted thousands of Christians to flee, some to Erbil (capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government-KRG) and others to the Nineveh plains, a traditional stronghold of Christians and Yazidis. The Christians and Yazidis are safer in these areas because of the Kurdish Peshmerga protection – the only force in Iraq standing against the onslaught of the fanatical IS.
Unlike the Palestinians in Gaza, the Christians and Yazidis will not get the UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council) to investigate “war crimes” committed against them. Nor will they get a special refugee agency – UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) with a budget of $1billion, to rebuild their lives. At best, the U.S. military, not the UN, will continue to deliver food and water for those stranded in the mountains.
The Palestinians, who enjoy a special status as “permanent refugees,” receive the highest per capita handouts from the international community and Western “Christian” states, especially the U.S. Both the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Hamas-led Gaza regime are sustained by welfare checks received from abroad. The Gatestone Institute quoted from a recent study by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice that “The Palestinian people have received per capita, adjusted for inflation, 25 times more aid than did Europeans to rebuild war-torn Western Europe under the Marshall Plan after the Second World War.” It also qualified that “If the entire Palestinian Authority leadership lives off an international welfare check that arrives only because the conflict still exists, there isn’t much incentive for ending the conflict.”
Western governments including the U.S. are now clamoring to rebuild Gaza after the recent war called “Protective Edge” by Israel. Can the Christians of Iraq and Yazidis count on the same largesse from the international community or Western powers as has been showered on the Palestinians? It’s doubtful.
What is so tragic about the double-standard practiced by the international community is that right and wrong are no longer relevant. The Palestinians in Gaza elected the Hamas Islamic terrorist regime and most of its population supported the terror attacks against Israel, whether by suicide bombers during the Second Intifada (2000-2004) or the rockets fired at Israeli cities and its civilian population. Israel turned over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in August, 2005, along with ready-made hot-houses and orchards primed for exporting. Israel’s gesture of peace was met with the firing of more than 10,000 rockets.
Christians and Yazidis are true victims of Islamic intolerance, and the barbarism of the Islamic State. The Gaza Palestinians and their chosen Hamas regime cannot qualify as victims. They initiated hostilities with Israel, and now seek concessions from Israel and Egypt. In 1 Kings 21:19 the question is asked: “Have you murdered and also taken possession?” The Palestinians attacked Israel, and are seen as victims. They are, instead, victims of their own hateful aggression. Conversely, neither the Christians nor the Yazidi Kurds attacked their neighbors with rockets or suicide bombers. They truly are defenseless victims.
In a letter written by Rebecca Simon, an American of Assyrian Christian descent, to Colonel Allen West, she asked: “No doubt the kidnapping of 200 kids by Boko Haram being forced to convert to Islam was a tragedy. But equally tragic, if not more so, is the forceful conversion to Islam of at least 200,000 Assyrian Christians in Iraq. And where is the outrage by the Spanish bleeding hearts: Mr. and Mrs. Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz? In their delicate artistic mind, does a Palestinian child have more rights to life than an Assyrian Christian child?”
The Christians and Yazidis of Iraq deserve the sympathy and support of the international community. The Palestinians in Gaza, on the other hand, require scrutiny and condemnation.