To intervene or not to intervene on behalf of beleaguered Middle Eastern minorities? Interventionists run the risk of being labelled ‘neo-cons’, but journalist and social commentator Ed West, blogging in the Telegraph, thinks the point may come when the West has no choice. In the circumstances a Jewish state was a good thing for Mizrahi Jews, he declares. (With thanks: Lily)
…unpopular though it is, interventionism is not going away, for there is one issue that becomes more and more pressing with each week – the parlous state of the Middle East’s Christian (and other) minorities. The ethnic cleansing of Iraq’s Assyrians and Chaldeanswas the great, ignored tragedy of this century so far; Egypt and Syria’s Christian populations are substantially larger, and if the former slides into an Islamic theocracy and the latter into civil war life will become unbearable.
The West is then left with the decision: whether to open its borders to save them, and so enable religious cleansing, or to take action.
Already, as Andrew Brown of the Guardian noted last month, there is growing concern among western Christians, and a willingness to do something about it. What is only missing is an organisation. Up until now the fear has always been that any sort of help will be presented as a crusade and will only incite further violence, but a point might come when there is nothing to lose anymore.
Having said that, there may be nothing we can do anyway. The Middle East is going through the same transition that Europe underwent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where democratisation and national consciousness led to minorities everywhere being driven out, starting in the Balkans (where Turkish Muslims were often the victims) and culminating in the events of 1939-1945, with the worst genocide in history and subsequently the worst mass expulsion, of 12 million Germans. Where religious and ethnic minorities lack defensible territories, they tend to end up far away from home or dead, and, with the possible exception of the Lebanese Maronites and the tiny Assyrian Nineveh Plains region of Iraq, minorities in the Middle East have no such territory. Of course all this goes to show that the establishment of a separate Jewish state was a good thing for Mizrahi Jews, who almost certainly would have ended up suffering a sad fate even without the establishment of Israel.
Unless, of course, you believe that without Zionism none of the Middle East’s current problems would have come about. In which case you’re an idiot.