Rescue Them! The Case for Coming to the Help of Religious Minorities in the Middle East

Over the past few days, a couple of good pieces have appeared making the case for rescuing Christians – and, I would echo the point here — other religious minorities who are victims of ISIS.

Chloe Valdary at the Wall Street Journal makes an analogy of Christians in the Middle East to the Vietnamese “boat people” whom the U.S. rescued in 1975.  See here.  Here is her opening:

In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.

Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?

Then in The Weekly Standard, Elliott Abrams makes a similar case.  For him, the Jews are the right analogy:

The rescue of threatened Jewish communities has been a central public purpose of Jews living in safety. American Jews pressed their government to push back against repression in Morocco in the 19th century and in czarist Russia in the early 20th. They failed to get the doors open for many Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, but they tried​—​despite rampant antisemitism, not least in the State Department. They succeeded in opening the doors of Soviet Russia, whence a million Jews fled to Israel.

It is in that context that the failure of the United States and the countries of Western Europe​—​all of which have overwhelming Christian majorities in their populations—​to protect or to accept as refugees many Middle Eastern Christians (and other minorities, such as the Yazidis and Baha’i) is worth exploring. To be sure, Jews have been an oppressed and endangered minority for a couple of thousand years, so the habits of rescue are deeply ingrained in liturgy and in communal life. Christians have had two pretty good millennia, and the idea that there are Christian communities being destroyed, and Christians being enslaved, raped, and murdered because of their faith, may be hard for many Christians in the year 2015 to understand.

I’m persuaded.

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Daniel Philpott

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