We are witnesses to murder, and our governments are accomplices. The relentless destruction of the last remnants of the Middle East’s Judeo-Christian civilization is well under way. And we are silent.
Captives of political correctness, our governments cater to radical immigrant tantrums as our leaders contort the truth to deny the existence of Islamist terrorism. Meanwhile, our Middle Eastern “allies” and foes alike eradicate thousands of years of Jewish and Christian heritage. Our diplomats treat the persecution as a minor embarrassment, best ignored.
The banishments and butchery aren’t new, but the breakdown of the last rotting order in the wake of the “Arab Spring” has empowered psychotic fanatics who do not even value the lives of the faithful, let alone the lives of unbelievers. This is the end-game, the final persecution of Christians clinging to lands they’ve called home for 2,000 years. Except for Israel and the rarest exceptions elsewhere, Jews are already gone from the realms that nurtured them since the early years of their faith.
A thousand years ago, there were more Christians in the Middle East than in Europe, and Jewish communities prospered from the Nile to the Tigris. Even a century ago, more than 20% of the region’s population was Christian, and Jews still adorned Arab cities with their talents.
Today, estimates put the Christian population of the region at under 5% and sinking rapidly — and only that high because of the 9 million Copts who remain, for now, in Egypt.
The birthplace of Christianity, Bethlehem, now has a Muslim majority of as much as 80% — a reversal that coincided with the West’s decision to embrace Palestinian terrorists as “partners for peace.” A few decades ago, Lebanon had a Christian majority. Now, with Christian numbers fading, it’s tugged between Shia Hezbollah and Sunni fanatics.
Slighted by the US occupation — as our government pandered to Muslim hardliners — the Christian population of Iraq has fallen by two-thirds over 10 years. And the most ferocious elements in the Syrian insurgency see no place for Christians in Syria’s future. Even Jordan, struggling to appease its own Islamists, has cracked down on Christian activities.
The Jews, of course, are already long gone.
But the stones of ruined churches cry out, and vanished synagogues haunt decayed Arab neighborhoods.
If you read the New Testament or study the formative centuries of Christianity, there are few references to western cities other than Rome. The names that dot the Epistles of St. Paul and histories of the church are now in Muslim hands: Alexandria, Damascus, Tarsus, Carthage, Ephesus, Nicaea, Constantinople and so many others. Even Mecca and Medina had thriving Christian and Jewish quarters before the first jihads.
But all they possess does not suffice for Islamist fanatics. Israel must be blotted from the earth, and the last Christians must be driven out.
This is an old, old story, nearing its end. We shroud it in lies to excuse ourselves from taking a stand, even accepting the preposterous Arab claim that Muslim failures today are the fault of the Crusades, a brief interlude when Christians occupied a coastal strip hardly larger than Israel. In fact, it was the Mongols, then the Muslim Turks, who shattered Arab civilization. And as for conquests, Muslims occupied Spain in all or part for 800 years — and brutalized the Balkans for half a millennium. The Crusades were hardly a burp.
We also accept extravagant claims that “civilized” Arabs rescued the classical texts that formed our civilization. That’s utter nonsense. The Arab hordes that burst out of barren Arabia in the 7th century were composed of illiterates. Conquering at a time when the warring Byzantine and Persian empires had exhausted themselves, the new rulers found that tribal practices didn’t suffice to run provinces. So they took over the existing bureaucracies, staffed by Greek-speaking Christians and Jews. It was those officials who saved the Greek classics for Europe’s future Renaissance — and their descendants designed Islam’s greatest monuments.
Yes, some Arab rulers came to value learning — but the Arab world never produced a Homer, Plato, Sophocles or Thucydides whose appeal transcended their culture.
Islam was a religion spread by war. It was only a “religion of peace” where it had conquered. True, Islam sometimes proved more tolerant of minorities than Europeans, but that was at the zenith of the faith’s power.
There’s yet another illusion of ours — that Islam is gaining strength. Islam is on the ropes. What we’ve seen in the pogroms and outright genocides over the last 150 years has been the spleen of a once-triumphant faith whose practices and values can’t compete in the modern age.
Consider today’s Middle East, apart from Israel. Despite the massive influx of oil wealth, there isn’t one world-class university. Nothing of quality or technological complexity is manufactured between Morocco and Pakistan. Not even Saudi Arabia has first-rate health-care. Research is nil. Patent applications are statistically zero. Women are regarded as lesser beings, wasting half of the region’s human capital. Not one Arab society’s a meritocracy. And corruption cripples all.
A handful of glitzy hotels and shopping centers do not make a civilization (especially when the merchandise is all imported). Should Islamist fanatics succeed in driving all minorities from the region, they’d be left with a human wasteland of comprehensive failure, seething with hatred and uncontainable violence. The self-segregation of the Islamic heartlands would be a tragedy for humanity — but, above all, for Muslims.
Birth rates are a red herring. More mouths to feed are not magic sources of strength in lands of scarcity and poverty. The Middle East is self-destructive, morally brittle and falling ever further behind a world that’s charging ahead. Islamists can’t even get terrorism right — today, we’re terrorizing the terrorists. So they turn on the weak in their midst, the last minorities.
The initial wave of destruction and slaughter began almost a millennium ago, when the Muslim world first felt itself under threat. But, more recently, as the West shot to power (thanks to science, learning, hard work, religious tolerance and organization), the creaking Ottoman Empire could not shake off its centuries-old stupor to keep up.
Enraged by failure, the Ottomans turned on their most-productive minorities — whose successes outraged yesteryear’s fanatics. Beginning in the 1880s and accelerating in the 1890s, pogroms against Armenian Christians stunned Western witnesses. But European leaders turned a blind eye, just as we do today. So during the First World War, the Young Turks who had seized power decided to finish the job.
It was genocide. At least a million Armenians — perhaps twice that number — were systematically exterminated . . . although not without being tortured, raped, starved and death-marched first. The scale of the butchery was such that it obscured other, concurrent genocides, most notably that of Assyrian Christians at the hands of Turks and other Muslims. Estimates of Assyrian deaths run from just under 300,000 to one million.
Nor did the slaughters stop there. In British-created Iraq, massacres of Christians recurred from 1933 to 1961.
City names we know from our recent wars, such as Mosul, Basra or Tikrit (Saddam’s home town), once were centers of Christian culture, with bishops, cathedrals and monasteries famous for learning.
Gone. And the last pale ghosts, those Christians holding on to homes their blood knew for 20 centuries, are soon to go. Meanwhile, our president assures us that “Islam’s a religion of peace.”
Mr. President, go to Iraq and speak those words in the bomb-torn churches amid desecrated graves.
Mr. President, go to Egypt and explain to the brutalized Copts why your embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood government’s good for them.
Then go to Israel, Mr. President, where Christians worship freely, and tell the Israelis they should “return Palestinian land” after Muslims seized the homes that sheltered Jews for 3,000 years.
Explain to Jews why their temples were profaned and obliterated by the adherents of that “religion of peace.”
Of course, the real tragedy for the Arabs in the last century wasn’t the Naqba, Israel’s close-run struggle to survive attacks by an arc of Arab armies. The tragedy was that the most-backward, intolerant and indolent Arabs, primitive tribesmen, got most of the oil wealth and used it to spread their Wahhabi cult throughout the Islamic world. The intellectuals in the great Arab cities never had a chance.
My wife and I spent our honeymoon on a long bus trip through Turkey, a country for which I have great, if frustrated, affection. All went fine amid splendid hospitality . . . until we reached the east. Along the roadsides in what had been Armenia (the first Christian kingdom, by the way) desolate villages, razed to their foundations, scarred the landscape between drab modern towns. When asked what those ruins were, a Turk would avert his eyes and mutter, “Abandoned.”
Those villages weren’t abandoned. They were the site of the last century’s first great genocide. No one stood up for those inconvenient Christians.
And no one’s standing up for the Middle East’s tormented Christians now, or for the last handful of Jews left beyond Israel.
Even the dust cries for justice, and we look away.