Monday, March 24, 2014

At what point does ethnic cleansing rise to merit international attention?...and what can be done to reduce its incidence?

There is always more to any story that first appears. Such is the case with the question of ethnic cleansing in Israel. Today, reports out of Tel Aviv indicate that Christians living in Israel are pleading with the EU to put a stop to the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East countries, except
Israel. One story alleges that Christians are targeted in Islamic countries and are being driven out, except in Israel.
150 Christian citizens of Israel demonstrated today (Mar. 23) outside the European Union’s delegation in Tel Aviv against the EU’s silence in relation to what they termed “the ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East.” The protesters demanded that the EU act on their own cry for human rights and fight for the Christians throughout the Middle East, who are quickly becoming extinct everywhere but Israel.
Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and strong proponent of Christian enlistment in the IDF, demanded that the attacks on Christians be stopped and thanked Israel for being a warm home for Christians.
Shadi Halul, spokesman of the Christian Lobby (CL) which organized the protest, stated: “We have witnessed in the past how the world was silent as six million Jews were slaughtered. Here in Israel, where we are enabled freedom of worship, protection and a normal life, we have decide to cry out and call on the European Union to safeguard human rights in Israel and throughout the world. Become active, do not repeat past mistakes. We constantly receive reports from our Christian brethren throughout the Middle East imploring that they be helped, envious of our status as Israeli citizens.” (By Aryeh Zavir, Tazpit News Agency, The JewishPost.com, "Christians to EU: 'Stop the ethnic cleansing in Arab Countries,' March 23, 2014)
Is it not feasible for the people of the world to begin to work together to reduce the impetus to cast out those who are different, whose faith, language, culture and entire ethnicity are not the same as that of the dominant group in any region, province or country?
The tide, however, seems to be moving in the direction of increased "purification", without the need to draw direct comparisons with the brutal and historic extermination of the Jews by the Third Reich.
Is this kind of story so "under the radar" that, unless and until there is actual violence against numbers large enough to make it to the international press's headlines, it remains in the shadows?
It would appear that no country and clearly no individual leader, has an answer to the problem. And it would also appear that there is insufficient political influence among those directly impacted by any attempts at ethnic cleansing to make any difference in reducing the scourge.
Today, in Cairo, it is reported that some 500 supporters of outsted former Islamic Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi are being executed.
CAIRO — A criminal court here sentenced 529 people to death on Monday after a single session of their mass trial, convicting them of murder for the killing of a police officer in the city of Minya during riots after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, state media reported.
The swift conviction of so many in one stroke was a sudden acceleration of the sweeping crackdown against Mr. Morsi’s Islamist supporters and against other dissenters that has unfolded since his removal last summer. After the overthrowing of Mr. Morsi, the military-led government killed more than a thousand people in shootings during protests against the takeover, and since then it has arrested many thousands of others as demonstrations have continued at universities and in the streets. Most of those arrested have been detained without charges or trials.
The verdict on Monday underscored the continuing determination of at least a part of the Egyptian judicial system to treat support for the ousted president as treason. (By David Kirkpatrick, New York Times, March 24, 2014)
Of course, this story does not have the intellectual 'right' to be included in a piece about ethnic cleansing, because of the charge of treason that covers the motivation of those conducting the executions. However, is it not tantamount to a kind of internal ethnic cleansing of people whose actions, beliefs and religious practices do not conform with what is expected by those in power in Cairo?
Does this story not fit into a global pattern of extermination of groups of people whose beliefs, attitudes and cultures are unacceptable to those with either legitimate political power, or self-declared power of some variety, including various brands of terrorism?
One has to wonder if we are not becoming so detached from the plight of minorities targeted for extermination that these stories literally bounce in front of our eyes and out of sight and out of mind, given the kind of headlines we are being fed about the 'hot button' topics of the international and national media editors.
Clearly, in spite of all the lip-service toward 'tolerance' of differences, and either  a 'melting pot' of assimiliation (the U.S. model) or a mosaic of diversity (the Canadian model), or some other concept that helps to build bridges between indigenous and immigrant, between members of one faith community and those of differing communities, or one linguistic group and a different linguistic group, these attempts are being confounded by attempts to divide, conquer and eliminate.
Putin has used the argument of 'bringing Russians back into the homeland' in his march into Crimea, backed by a sizeable plebescite on which the choices were neutrality or return, with a predictable outcome. Will he mandate those 20,000 troops on the eastern border of Ukraine to take the several cities and towns in which people with Russian roots live back into the Russian Federation? And if so, what will the counter-argument be coming from the leaders of the 'west' including the EU, the US and the meeting of the G7 (minus Putin) today?
There is a very fine line between ethnic cleansing and what Putin is determined to accomplish on what he perceives and presents as the "high ground" of welcoming the "displaced Russians" back into the Russian homeland.
At what level do these various ethnic cleansings rise to the level of the kind of ethnic cleansing that the world witnessed in Bosnia in the 1990's, of the Bosnian Serbs? At what point do these crimes against humanity rise to the level of public consciousness, irrespective of the religion or the political ideology or the linguistic and cultural roots of either  the power-brokers or the victims of the abuse of that power?

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