FAREWELL TO OSLO.
By Paul Merkley
The Imminent Liquidation of the Christian Population of the Middle East.
Of all the major world issues facing our elected leaders today the most urgent is the imminent liquidation of the Christian population of the Middle East. At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Christians were 13% of the population in the Middle East. Various informed estimates put their numbers today at somewhere between 3% and 1 % — and falling. The best estimate is that of the 1.4 million Christians (roughly 8% of the population) resident in Iraq in the days of Saddam Hussein, perhaps 200,000 remain. Meanwhile, nearly a third of Syria’s 600,000 Christians have fled that country.
If we fail to rescue the Christian people of the Middle East the world will see that we have no moral capital to apply to the solution of any other issue. The only plausible solution to the situation of Middle East Christians is the creation, by international agreement, within the present boundaries of Syria and Iraq, of an autonomous region, or, better still, a sovereign state, made up of the Christian people of Iraq and Syria as well the other non-Muslim minorities. Let’s call it Assyria.
The distinguished Catholic journalist George Weigel issues this warning: “Today, western politicians seem to fear that naming the genocide of Christians for what it is, or treating Christian refugees as refugees, will be taken as a gesture of disrespect for Islam. This is shameful.” (George Weigel, “ISIS, Genocide, and Us, http;//www.firstthings.com, February 20, 2016.)
This unpleasant theme has been almost entirely ignored by the secular media and is pursued only by certain Christian websites maintained not by the church denominations or their ecumenical agencies but by freelance journalists and independent researchers sustained by voluntary contributions.
As things stand, it is clear that if any remnant of Christianity survives anywhere in the Middle East past the year 2030, it will because Christians are finding safe haven in Israel. It is at last beginning to dawn on people who care about either the future of Israel or the future of Christianity that these causes are in fact the two sides of the same coin.
Well-informed Jews will know that immediately following Israel’s War of Independence of 1948, all of the Arab rulers in the Middle East undertook to cover the shame of their defeat in battle against the infant state by leading the public in condemnation as traitors of all the Jews of the Middle East – about 800,000 of them in 1948. Their assets were seized and they were all thrust into exile– many to Israel. It should not be hard for anyone to see that what is beginning to unfold in the Arab Middle East is a replay of that story, with the defenceless Christians now in the role of the defenceless Jews in 1948-1950.
Waiting for Donald Trump.
As I write, President-elect Donald Trump is still disclosing by instalments his intended nominations and/or appointments to major positions in government. We can find a powerful clue to the Middle East policies that he will actually pursue in the reaction to these appointments coming from mainstream media and from those journalists and academics who make a speciality of foreign affairs.
CTVNews (Canada) explains, “Donald Trump’s presidential victory has dimmed hopes for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and analysts say Israel may be given carte blanche from his administration” (November 23, 2016.)
“Analysts say” is conventional code for the view that is held by the journalist and the people who work around him. It should be translated: “As every decent person agrees!”
CTVNews notes: “[Trump] says he’d love the challenge of negotiating a Mideast agreement… [It] would be such a great achievement.” All Presidents from Eisenhower onward have come into office mouthing this same intention – to “redress imbalance” by leaning upon the Israelis and thus to level the diplomatic playing-field between Israelis and Arabs. Eisenhower called it “even-handedness.” In this spirit, Trump told the Associated Press about a year ago that he wanted to be “very neutral” and try to get both sides together.”
But, CTVNews suggests,
[Trump’s] tone became decidedly more pro-Israel as the campaign progressed. He has spoken disparagingly of Palestinians, saying they have been ‘taken over’ by or are condoning militant groups. Some of his top aides [have gone so far as to] challenge the legitimacy of Palestinian demands for a state and have claimed that the Palestinians are a made-up people.”
What is needed, CTVNews assumes, is a President who can serve as “a neutral broker.” This echoes the assumptions of all the Professors of Conflict Resolution,” the heart of the teaching agenda in university Schools of International Relations. It builds on theorizing of Professors of Social Work, that each and every “conflict” in life is amenable to resolution provided that the parties make use of a friendly and “neutral” third party who acknowledges that there is equal moral weight in the position and the record of behaviour of the two sides.
Conflict Resolution is an approach explicitly designed to suppress the history of the circumstances that led to the creation of Israel in 1948, followed by several wars that the Arab nations imposed upon Israel rather than accept the verdict of the United Nation. Every aspect of the miserable, hopeless conditions that Palestinian Arabs tell us that they suffer on account of “Israeli occupation” has followed from their mindless determination not to permit Jews to live in peace anywhere in the Middle East.
It should not be difficult for this new Administration – provided it remains true to its own principles and avoids the siren call of elite opinion – to rally public opinion behind requiring open and unqualified acceptance by the Arab side of the right to exist of a Jewish State.
The “Arab Spring” – the last best hope of the Arab politicians to persuade the world of its competence to govern – opened up the long chapter of death and destruction which is playing out today in extreme form in Syria, Libya, and Yemen and to one degree or another in every other state of the region.
Speaking in March 2016 to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, Donald Trump spelled out his response to the Palestinian politicians’ understanding of themselves. “Half of the population of Palestine,” he posited, “has been taken over by the Palestinian ISIS and Hamas, and the other half refuses to confront the first half.”
Picking up on these and other clues, Israeli Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, said after Trump’s November 8 election that “the era of a Palestinian state are over.”
Anathema From the Sanhedrin of Foreign Policy.
The coterie of Foreign Affairs and National Security advisors with whom Trump had surrounded himself during the campaign and from whose ranks he is currently drawing the members-to-be of his Cabinet and his State Department, are uniformly supportive of the pro-Israel agenda that has been popular in Republican ranks and which gets engrossed in Republican platforms during election years.
On the short list of presumptive nominees to the most senior foreign policy positions is Rudy Giuliani, New York’s former Mayor, who has told the Israeli-American Council that the U.S. should “reject the whole notion of a two-state solution in Israel.” Another on that list former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who he has said repeatedly that “the Palestinians are an invented people.”And another is John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who has said that a two-state solution “would inevitably lead to a terror state on the other side of the border with Israel.”
Every one of the men just noted is regarded with contempt by mainstream commentators on American foreign policy – the academics as well as the journalists. “Trump, not known for his foreign policy expertise [has] unveiled a team of advisers drawn from the energy industry and the fringes of Washington’s international affairs establishment,” is the judgment repeated by a long list of new-sites. (“Trump finally unveils foreign policy team,” www.business-staandard.com)
The man who has been most roundly condemned as unfit by this establishment is Walid Phares, the man who was Romney’s principal foreign policy adviser during the campaign of 2012. Ben Lynfield, who writes for the Independent in the U.K. says: “Phares is “a Maronite Christian born in Lebanon …a warmonger… who served as an ideologue of Lebanese militiamen during the civil war in the 1980s.” Matthew Duss, director of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, says: “Phares is one of a number of close Trump advisers with extremely troubling foreign- policy views which basically mirror those of Islamic extremists: Islam and the West are at war. It’s difficult to overstate how counterproductive it would be for the US to adopt this vision.”
It is simply taken for granted by academic Middle East commentators that Christians have no right to defend themselves against the Muslim majorities.
In fact, Phares has had a distinguished career in Department of Middle East History and Politics – a career which is built upon academic achievements at major British and American Universities, and an outstanding publication record in several languages. Contributing to the derogatory verdict among the academics is the fact that Pares is a sturdy defender of Israel in her existential struggle against enemies in the Arab and Muslim world. (See, “The dark, controversial past of Trump’s counterterrorism adviser,” Washington Post, March 22, 2016.)
The academic foreign policy Sanhedrin which has pretty well determined the limits of American policy throughout the Obama years is today belittling Trump as “A foreign policy novice” (Washington Post.) He needs us, the Sanhedrin is screaming, but he is turning to amateurs.
Thank God for that!