Despite the fact that I am on vacation, I am always looking for good, important content. Sometimes, important content finds me as demonstrated by this important guest post by David Kelsey aka The Kvetcher:
One of the tragedies of the Iraq War–and there are so many tragedies of this warâ€”is the final destruction of the Mandaean people. Estimates of how many lived in Iraq at the start of the war vary. What everyone agrees upon is that far fewer of them live there now. Only 5,000 Mandaeans are thought to survive in Iraq.
I will not use the word “genocide,” since in the Jewish community, this is apparently a divisive term, and I sure don’t want to upset the ADL’s Abe Foxman or others who gets quite irate over the unapproved use of such a term. The NY Times, who has historically always had more pleasant issues to discuss in polite company than the destruction of a small people, finally wrote about their situation. More disappointingly (as one should expect nothing moral from the ADL), the American Jewish World Service has been silent. The U.S. Holocaust Museum has nothing to say about what is happening to them either. It’s almost bizarre that a situation this clear cut has never the less not surfaced on the radar of those who are entrusted to be concerned about such things.
Anyway, I dare not use the politically charged term “genocide” for what is happening to the Mandaeans. What I will say is that at the beginning of the war, there was a community in the tens of thousands in Iraq, the largest community of Mandaeans in the world, and it seems in not too long, if the situation is allowed to continue, there will be no Mandaean community in Iraq at all. This is because the Iraqi Mandaeans are being burned, forcibly converted, killed, and their women–who are forced to wear veils in accordance with Muslim fundamentalist law–are targets for rape. Whoever can get out is doing so. The problem is, the alternatives for getting out are not terribly good. It is never fun to be civilians in the crossfire of a civil war, and it is particularly unpleasant to be a non-Muslim community in the crossfire of two competing and dominant Muslim communities. Other Muslim nations and communities have not been terribly hospital to the Mandaeans. For instance, the Kurds, who one would think would be sensitive to their plight in light of their own horrific treatment by Iraqis, apparently have been not quite as hospital as one might have hoped and are in the habit of “persecuting” them for being infidels when they seek refuge in Kurdish areas.
Saddam Hussein protected these people in ways the U.S. cannot or will not. My point is not to reminisce fondly over Saddam Hussein, but rather, to point out the horrifying reality that this is happening under our watch.
I propose we scream for them, and don’t stop screaming until someone does something. These people must be rescued, and taken to a safe place. No one cares about them, because they are not part of a larger group. They are their own thing.
We should concern ourselves over this Aramaic speaking group of Semites, who are partially as small as they are because they are committed pacifists. If we do not speak up for them, I fear no one will. This will be the end of an ancient, Judaean people, who appeared to have left when the Babylonians conquered Judea. You may read their defense against the Rambam’s accusation here, where they also attempt to interpet his words to prove that Abraham was himself originally a Sabatian (Mandaean) before becoming a Jew, a popular Mandaean narrative. There is good reason to speculate a historic Jewish connection to the Mandaeans at some point.
For more on Mandaeans, including an informative video, check out this article.