You'll be hearing and maybe warbling about sleeping in heavenly peace in the next few days. There is little peace in the corner of the world where Christendom looks to every December to mark the birth of Christ two thousand years ago. It's a bleak time for Christians in the Middle East.
Christians are being slaughtered in Syria. Violence against Christians in Egypt is the dark shadow of what the world briefly called the Arab Spring. Most of Iraq's million Christians have fled under the threat of annihilation from the forces of radical Islam.
Religious freedom is being obliterated and leaders of the West have had little to say about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, as the indispensable chronicler of this crisis, Ed West, points out in The Spectator and his ebook published last week, "The Silence of Our Friends."
West observes that "eastern Christians have been a vital link between the world of Islam and Christianity." Now they are refugees or silent victims. The consequences extend beyond followers of Jesus. With the obliteration of religious tolerance, West points out, "The world will become a more dangerous and polarized place, and much more difficult for moderate Muslims both in the Middle East and Europe."
American and European dithering on early assistance to democratically-inclined rebels in Syria added to one of the year's staggering catastrophes. Millions of Syrians are in refugee camps, bringing with them the threat of destabilization as their prospects of return grow bleaker. Failure to enforce the red line on the use of chemical weapons will invoke the enduring doctrine of unintended consequences.
The collapse of the influence of western democracies in the region could be found last week in the death of Dr. Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old, London orthopedic surgeon and Muslim. A member of the Syrian diaspora, Khan went to beleaguered Aleppo in November of last year to treat wounded civilians in a field hospital, deemed an act of terrorism by the Syrian government. He entered Syria through Turkey.
Not long after arriving in the rebel-held city, the brave Khan was captured by Syrian security forces and held for entering the country without a visa, according to newspaper accounts. The father of two disappeared. His formidable mother traveled to Syria, located her son in a prison that on its best day is unimaginably squalid, and worked for his release. Khan told his mother of the torture he suffered and was forced to inflict on other prisoners. She appealed to the British government for urgent assistance. It did little.
Khan's mother thought he might be released this weekend on an order from Syrian dictator and Vogue magazine favorite Assad. Instead, the Khans were told by the Syrian government that Dr. Khan had committed suicide. The rest of the world calls it murder. The British Foreign Office said it was seeking "urgent clarification" on how Khan died. Translation: we are helpless. Brutal Syrian security forces will continue their carnage unrestrained, with no fear of punishment.
It's not such a good time for the Jews, either. American foreign policy insists on alienating one of our staunchest allies. Anti-Semitism continues its march. The odious boycott, divest and sanction movement, known as BDS, continues to harass Israel. William Jacobson, a professor of law at Cornell, continues to track the movement on his "Legal Insurrection" blog.
Jacobson writes, "Only Israeli academic institutions are subjected to boycott even though by any objective standard non-Jews are far more free and academically and otherwise in Israel than non-Muslims are in the Muslim world. We also witness the bizarre self-parody of LGBT and Women's rights groups siding with Islamists who hate LGBT and women's rights, all in the cause of BDS."
On a trip to Ukraine this month, Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shared a stage with notorious anti-Semite political leader Oleh Tyahnybok. He's the ugly nationalist leader who, according to Business Insider, has ranted about "organized Jewry," "Jewish oligarchs," and "a Muscovite-Jewish mafia."
Tyahnybok's party, Business Insider reports, first "called itself the Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), and it had a swastika-like logo." Nice new friend, Murph.
Enjoy a silent night Tuesday, but start raising your voice in the days that follow.
Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun