Middle Eastern Refugee Crisis in Syria, Egypt and Israel
Am I a prophet? I wrote the article below over a year ago, and now look. A few of the details are different, but the refugees are overrunning Europe as I write. Read, and weep. In a generation, no one will speak German in Germany except a few aging widows.
A New Refugee Crisis Is Here
The United States and the rest of the West had better get ready for the next refugee crisis. This may not sound like much, but in the news comes word that Coptic Christians are being forced to leave their ancestral homes, driven out by Egyptian Islamic terrorists.
The Copts are the ancient people of Egypt, and that religion goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. Now they are under threat by their new Muslim government.
Even in Cairo, the capital city, Muslim mobs are attacking St Mark's Cathedral.
This should not surprise anyone who has followed events in the Middle East with even a little interest. Where modern, militant Islam rises, it drives out all minority groups, and oppresses even other Muslims of different sects.
Why is this important to us? There are some eight million Copts in Egypt, about ten percent of the population. Now that hard-core Islamists control the government, expect to see oppression.
(This is nothing new in the world at large. I am not pointing out Muslim countries for any special condemnation; this sort of behavior is common across history. It has occurred in Europe, Asia, Africa, and in my own country.)
While the Nazis were eliminating the Jews in Europe, with the willing and even enthusiastic collaboration of their European neighbors, Arabs were attacking and chasing the Jews from their homes in Africa and the Middle East. Of the 75,000 Jews who lived in Egypt in the 1940s, only a handful remain. The rest fled, to Israel, Europe and elsewhere.
The Copts Survive At The Whim Of The Muslims.
There are eight or ten million Coptic Christians in Egypt, about ten percent of Egypt's population. Ten percent is a sad number. That is too few by far for them to defend themselves or their communities from violent attacks.
It is far too few for them to imagine a political solution, for they have no political power, and never will in an Islamist state. They can survive as a community only as long as the state permits. Were the Egyptian government to withdraw its protective hand, violent factions would attack, relentlessly and remorselessly, until they were all driven out. We saw this same dynamic recently in Iraq, as I will show later.
Absolutely the current best-case situation is the government merely standing aside while others do its dirty work, and most of the Coptic population surviving as destitute refugees. But, given the recent history of Islamist governments, this is unlikely to be what actually does happen. More likely, the Egyptian government will itself be the ethnic cleanser.
Why do I believe this? The Egyptians do not have nearly as bad a history as some other governments in the region. Where are the vibrant and active communities of Jews and Christians who once lived throughout North Africa and the Arab lands? Gone, or reduced to a few aging holdouts. In Algeria during the era of French rule, there were a million Catholics living in that country. Now, they number some 45,000. The rest fled harsh persecution. Every Arab country has a similar history of persecution of minorities, and Egypt has been far from the worst.
Christians Run Out Of Iraq
Non-Arab Muslim countries are the same. Iraq had a million and a half Christians just a decade ago. Now, fewer than 500,000 remain. Two thirds driven out, some killed, in one decade. What changed? The more or less secular Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein was destroyed, leaving the militant Islamists to run amok, killing anyone they pleased. It pleased them to kill anyone who believed even slightly differently from themselves, and Christians were an obvious target, now that all of the once-common Jews of Iraq had been run out.
Now that the same kinds of people have taken charge in Egypt, we have either the gradual and piecemeal expulsion of the Copts to look forward to, or, pogroms and the sudden exodus of the entire community, all ten million of them. Which occurs is up to the Egyptian people.
Tolerance is not much valued by the extremists currently in power, in spite of long eras of relative peace. The UN and Europe will respond with halfhearted and condescending international efforts to get the Egyptians to play nice. What will the US do? Will we act as we did in Iran during the recent Green Revolution, and simply ignore the violence, or as in Libya, and add to it? Or could we act as true humanitarians, and take in and feed our brothers?
Syria, The Civil War
But the Copts are small beans to what could be coming. Consider the cases of Syria and Israel. Syria is currently engaged in a two-sided war of the minority government vs almost everyone else. What seems to go unnoticed is that Syria is not a two-sided state. It is hardly a state at all, but is made up of a variety of ethnic and religious groups, none of whom like or trust any of the others much, for good historical reasons. If the Assad government were driven out, expect a war on all by all. Expect refugees streaming out in all directions. 30,000 are said to have already fled, and major Syrian cities are burning.
Israel. Where Will The Refugees Go?
What about the greatest conflict point in the Middle East, Israel? The current stare-down between Israel and Iran is going to end, somehow, and soon. Given the relentless rhetoric of annihilation coming out of Teheran, what can the Israeli government possibly do about the nuclear threat?
The Iranians claim that their comments were mistranslated, and that they merely wish for the current Jewish government to fall. Does this change anything? If the Jews have no state in what is now Israel, they will have to go elsewhere. Where?
Regardless of how we, sitting thousands of miles away, feel or believe about the reality of the Persian nuclear bomb, the Israelis have no choice but to believe. Nuclear bombs just are not that hard to build, for any nation with the material and mental resources. Persians are not noted for either stupidity or lack of advanced educations. They can build a bomb if they decide to. War is coming.
If either side attacks the other, can war be limited to just Iran and Israel? Or will neighboring powers gleefully join in. (Hint, no question mark at the end of that last sentence.) Even the least belligerent Arab powers have no love for Israel. Win or lose, refugees will come flowing out of the region.
And imagine if nuclear weapons were actually used, by either side. People think that nukes are magic, everyone just dies. That isn't true. If a limited number of nukes were used against Israel, millions might die, but millions more would survive in the wreckage.
Are we prepared to take all of these people in? Where would they go? Does anyone imagine that Europe would accept more than a token handful? Seven million plus people live in Israel, Muslim, Christian and Jew. Assume nuclear devastation, and half of those people might survive and need to be relocated, to say nothing of people fleeing from neighboring countries such as Jordan or Lebanon.
Will Europe accept three million Jewish refugees within their borders? After spending the entire twentieth century chasing them out? And how about all of those Muslim Arabs who live in Israel? What country will accept them? No Arab country wants them. Just look at how vilely the Arab nations have treated the Palestinians these last few generations. Will a million Muslim Israelis go to Europe?
And suppose the worst, an equal exchange of nuclear weapons between Israel and Iran, with perhaps other Arab nations struck as well. Could we stand by and ignore millions of starving Iranians and Arabs, just because we didn't like their leaders? Iran is a country with no real friends.
Russia and China prop them up now as a useful fork to jab at the West, but they won't allow millions of starving Persians to cross their borders. They are not friends, just political tools. The United States has long claimed that we have no argument with the Iranian people, just with their government. We may need to prove that, very soon.
It would be nice if we could all join hands to sing an interfaith Kumbaya, but it isn't going to happen. Soon, possibly this year, I expect to see anywhere from a few million to twenty million Middle Eastern and Egyptian refugees in need of new homes.
Muslim refugees have plenty of options in neighboring Muslim countries. They can fit right in, and won't have to adapt themselves to such radical, provocative sights as an uncovered woman's face or leg. We can ship them food and housing and medicine, and let their fellow Muslims demonstrate their kindness and tolerance, and spend some of their oil riches supporting their brethren.
I certainly hope my country sees the wisdom of letting at least the Jews resettle here. If humanitarianism isn't a good enough reason, countries with lots of Jews in them tend to prosper!
The Copts have no where else to go either. They are Middle Easterners, but with no Middle Eastern country to flee to. None of their neighbors want them. Europe might allow a few in, the rich ones anyway. They are Christians in a sea of Muslims. We should take them in because they have no other place to go, and we would gain a rich cultural inheritance.
A Brief History of the Middle East
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