No Merry Christmas For Persecuted Iraqi Christians

Steven Lee Myers reports for the New York Times that there’s a new wave of Christian refugee flows in Iraq “amid a campaign of violence against them and growing fear that the country’s security forces are unable or, more ominously, unwilling to protect them.”

Those who fled the latest violence — many of them in a panicked rush, with only the possessions they could pack in cars — warned that the new violence presages the demise of the faith in Iraq. Several evoked the mass departure of Iraq’s Jews after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

“It’s exactly what happened to the Jews,” said Nassir Sharhoom, 47, who fled last month to the Kurdish capital, Erbil, with his family from Dora, a once mixed neighborhood in Baghdad. “They want us all to go.”

The invocation of the persecution of Middle Eastern Jews in the late-1940s is interesting. In late October my colleague Matt Duss compared the mass-displacement of Iraq civilians to the Palestinian naqba that preceded those events. Either way, the history of both the Middle East and other parts of the world is full of examples of this mass-displacement episodes laying the seeds of future bitterness and political conflict. It’s a reminder that for all the putative “success” of post-2007 Iraq, the scale of the human tragedy remains enormous and the extent of the lingering problems remains under-appreciated in the United States.