Why Won’t the State Department Call the Extermination of Middle Eastern Christians “Genocide”?

Feb. 18 2016

While the U.S. Department of State is poised to declare Islamic State’s mass murder of Yazidis a “genocide,” it is unlikely to recognize the mass murder of Iraqi and Syrian Christians as such. Nina Shea explains:

It is difficult not to conclude that the reason for the administration’s reluctance to designate a Christian genocide is not for lack of evidence but for political reasons. One possible obstacle is the Genocide Convention’s requirement that states act to “prevent and protect” the victims of genocide. . . .

But might there be another political reason at the root of the administration’s reluctance to recognize this Islamist genocide of Christians? Consider how it would parallel the reason that Holocaust scholars have found for President Roosevelt’s silence about the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust: “Nazi propaganda, which portrayed the Allied involvement in the war as being on behalf of ‘the Jews,’” led him instead to “refer in general to the aim of ending the mistreatment and murder of civilians under Axis rule.” That silence proved devastating for European Jews and came to be seen as a historic moral failing. . . .

In the face of IS’s anti-“crusader” propaganda, might the Obama administration be on the verge of making that same mistake, of silence, over the genocide of Christians? Whether the official U.S. list of genocide victims includes or excludes Christians will affect the persecuted Christians enormously: in raising humanitarian aid, receiving asylum, overcoming de-facto discrimination in UN resettlement programs, receiving restitution and reparation for seized land, and securing a place at the peace-negotiations table. It would also give these two-millennia-old Christian communities a sense of justice.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Genocide, ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas