'Carnage in Schedule Two'
Author Lela Gilbert, a Christian who lived for years in Israel, spoke for many of Israel's supporters when she said she finds the international community's attacks on the Jewish State "puzzling, especially when atrocities are taking place every day in Syria" and elsewhere in the Middle East. In an interview in The Daily Caller, Gilbert doesn't discount anti-Semitism, but thinks some of it is also ideological. "Israel is categorized as a pariah state, a 'colonial' outpost in a post-colonial world, or an infidel trespasser in pan-Islamic utopia."
Or, perhaps, Israel is simply a "schedule one" country. In 1982, The Guardian (U.K.) ran an odd -- and currently timely -- short piece called "Carnage in Schedule Two," an adjunct to a story on Hafez Assad's massacre of Syrians in the Muslim Brotherhood stronghold of Hama. The Guardian posited:
Disregarding NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the countries of the world are largely divided into schedules one and two. In schedule one, an infringement of the civilized rules will lead to detailed examination and well-earned international reproof. In schedule two, on the other hand, anything goes. Syria has the good fortune to be listed in schedule two, and it is there that President Hafez al-Assad is trying to surmount, and may be now have surmounted, one of those revolts by Muslim fundamentalists which are described every time they occur, as the "most serious challenge to his rule so far[.]" ... Certainly hundreds, probably thousands, have been killed and in which parts of the city have been reduced to rubble.
Let's check a 30-year-old proposition.
In Nigeria, a priest and five members of a congregation were killed in a church during Christmas services. Reuters noted that many churches in Nigeria's biggest northern city, Kano, were empty for Christmas Day services. The Islamist Boko Haram was responsible for two attacks killing 12 at a Christmas Eve service. Associated Press reports more than 770 people killed by the organization -- whose name means "Western education is sacrilege"-- in 2012. Not surprisingly, the group is also suspected in the massacre of 27 students in northern Nigeria in October.
In Indonesia, Christian worshipers were barraged with rotten eggs and bags of urine by Muslims when they tried to pray on a parcel of land they own, but on which they've been prevented from building a church.
Syrian Christians, for many years protected by the officially secular Assad regime, took up arms against the Free Syrian Army in October to defend themselves after anti-Assad attacks in Aleppo reached their community. In other Syrian news, in December, more than 700 Palestinians were killed in battles between pro- and anti-regime forces in the Yarmouk refugee camp. Last week, the regime used cluster bombs in civilian areas and, on two separate occasions, bombed bread lines where hungry civilians had gathered. More than 100 people were killed in the first assault, and 15 in the second. The total death toll in Syria is approaching 45,000.
In tandem with the Syrian civil war, Turkey has had renewed clashes with the PKK, the Kurdish revolutionary group seeking an independent Kurdish state. Following a war that claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1970s, Turkey claimed that 110 Turkish soldiers and 475 Kurdish guerrillas were killed in 2012. The real number may be something else, as areas are routinely closed to outside observers.
Copts have been attacked in Egypt, including an after-Church assault at the end of October. Bishop Angaelos, of the Coptic Church in the U.K., described the plight of Copts in Egypt. "We've had churches bulldozed, we've had churches burnt down, we've had Christians killed, we've had villages torched, and it's almost the same as it was before. No one's been brought to justice, no convictions, and so therefore, no justice at all." Indeed, the Obama administration loudly blamed an obscure Coptic Christian in Los Angeles for starting the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was almost immediately jailed for a minor infraction of his probation for an unrelated crime; that can hardly comfort Copts in the U.S. or in Egypt.
Christian communities in Iraq and the Palestinian territories have declined through intimidation, and Christian stores, schools, and the YMCA have been vandalized in Gaza, where one key Gaza Christian leader was murdered.
So what has the West been doing? Aside from bemoaning the death toll in Syria, the U.N. has been silent. Horrific stories about more than a year of beheadings and amputations in Mali have been met with a French proposal for military action -- in 2014. Nothing about what they're supposed to do until then. Pope Benedict in his Christmas message prayed only generically that "peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict that does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims."
In October, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution accepting "Palestine," a split territory with two separate and warring governments, as a "non-member state" of the U.N. On December 18, the United Nations passed 9 resolutions regarding the status of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza, along with 21 other resolutions -- all of which related to U.N. business and programs, none to wars and killing outside the Palestinian territories. On the 19th, in the Security Council, 14 of the 15 countries read statements of opposition to Israel's plans to build houses between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim. There was no formal vote, so the U.S. could exercise no veto -- it was just a series of statements trashing Israel. The European Union took a separate vote to condemn Israel.
And the pope? Only three months ago, the Vatican's representative in Israel, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, took a very specific shot at Israel, saying the Jewish state teaches Jewish children to treat Christians "with contempt" and has made life increasingly "intolerable" for Israel's Christians.
It may well be -- reflected in the absence of real Western outrage over crimes against Christians, Palestinians, and Kurds -- that Nigeria, Indonesia, Syria (both government and rebel forces), Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, and Gaza are Schedule Two countries. And Israel is possibly at the top of the pile of Schedule One, where it takes very little to rouse the world's ire.
"Carnage in Schedule Two Countries" rings as true at the end of 2012 as it did in 1982.
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of The Jewish Policy Center.