Daily Archives: November 16, 2015
How long do you stand on the sidelines? How long do you wait? France has declared war finally and the US still isn’t doing enough against ISIS. The Kurds are brave and powerful allies who are the tip of the sword in the fight against ISIS. They need more support and our relationship with Turkey be damned.
The US Holocaust Museum has called the Islamic state’s treatment of the Yazidis genocide. It is unfortunate that terms such as “genocide” get tossed about too often and therefore drained of their power. When people claim genocide for rhetorical purposes only the term becomes weakened and then, like the little boy who cried wolf too often, no one believes him when the wolf is actually at the door. And as much as we want to avoid foreign entanglements and stay out of the business of others, how long do you stand on the sidelines watching one group of people being destroyed by another. I’m careful about Holocaust comparisons and invoking the Nazis as the epitome of evil because it also drains the reality of its power. Moreover, anti-Semitism and the Jewish Holocaust are particularistic enough such that comparisons fail.
But below is the United Nations definition of genocide and it is pretty clear. Every one of the five conditions certainly applies to the Jewish Holocaust and the first three are quite descriptive of the Islamic state’s treatment of the Yazidis.
General Assembly Resolution 260A (III) Article 2. In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
But still, there are similarities and it’s important to find consistencies and defensible comparisons of genocide in one case so that we can recognize it in another.
Who are the Yazidis?
I’ll let the reader go to Wikipedia or some convenient Internet site for additional information on the Yazidis. But quickly, the Yazidis are a monotheistic religious community that lives in Iraq. They have been discriminated against religiously for centuries because their chief God is equated with a fallen angel in other religions and therefore Satan. In 2014 they were specifically targeted by ISIS in an effort to purify Iraq of non-Islamic influences. This unleashed a wave of rape and murder and calls for the destruction of the Yazidis by ISIS. Reports of Yazidis fleeing the town of Sinjar where they were being killed by ISIS forces in a genocidal manner are common enough. Young Yazidis women who had been raped by ISIS fighters were committing suicide.
The ISIS digital magazine Dabiq has claimed that slavery and the absorption of Yazidis women and children has religious justification. The US Holocaust Museum has identified the attacks on the Yazidis as genocide. This is based on evidence gathered by the Deputy Director of the museum during a visit to Yazidis camps.
There is clear evidence that the Islamic state has committed genocidal war crimes against the Yazidis as well as other religious offshoots. Every person interviewed claimed the violence against the Yazidis was systematic and more vicious than they had ever seen. Secretary Kerry should formally accuse ISIS of committing genocide and begin an international investigation.
Once again we are confronted with an extremist ethnopolitical group whose hate is of hallucinogenic proportions. Whether it be Jews, French citizens in a restaurant or at a concert, or Yazidis the question remains: how long do you wait before you do something?