The year was A.D. 70 Jerusalem had been sacked, the Temple destroyed. In revolt against the Romans, the Jewish Zealots fled to Masada, a fortress “located atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea.” From there they prepared to resist the Romans.
Masada, “a place of gaunt and majestic beauty,” writes the Jewish Virtual Library, “has become one of the Jewish people’s greatest symbols as the place where the last Jewish stronghold against Roman invasion stood.”
Remarkably, the Zealots held out for three years. But the 1,000 men, women and children were no match for the Roman legion, its battering rams and catapults. “It is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom,” said leader Elazar ben Yair, in a moving address to his people. The Jewish Zealots’ last stand was to kill one another; the last Jew standing fell on his sword.
The Zealots had spared themselves “a crueler fate.” Fearing the same in 2014, the Iraqi Yazidis, by Foreign Policy’s telling, have on occasion thrown their children off the Sinjar Mountains or shot them. The sight of the Yazidis driven up the arid, exposed mountain range, chased by the militant Sunni of the Islamic State (ISIS), conjures Masada, where Jews chose to die on their own terms. We will “never be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself.” So spoke Elazar ben Yair in A.D. 73.
Ethnic Kurds, the Yazidis are members of an ancient sect whose beliefs and practices predate Masada, and can be traced to “Nineveh and Babylon.” They fled their hardscrabble lives when “the Islamic State marched into northwestern Iraq, leaving a wake of bodies behind.” According to FP’s Gerard Russell, ISIS had already “driven the Christians who live there out of their homes. It has destroyed the crosses on their churches and demanded that they pay a tax or face the penalty of death. It has in the meantime offered the Yazidis a simpler choice: Convert to Islam or die.”
But mostly, the choice presented to the Yazidis has been to convert … and die. For the Islamic State considers this non-Arabic people to be almost as bad infidels.
Purportedly, 40,000 refugees, among them 25,000 children, were said to be stranded on the parched terrains of the Sinjar, in scorching heat, without sustenance. That is until Barack Obama broke up the gathering. Overnight. “That’s enough, Yazidis. Go home, now. The crisis is over.” Yes, the president and his minions have pronounced the catastrophe on the Sinjar Mountains over. However, just because the Obama machine declares it so, does not make it so. I would point BHO believers to Channel 4 veteran reporter Jonathan Rugman, who questions—even mocks—the administration’s rapid, fact-finding methodology:
Crisis, what crisis? The Americans have ruled out a military airlift of Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar on the grounds that the situation is not as bad as previously thought. … Are the Americans saying that the refugees are not spread out any more but have either been shepherded or moved into a concentrated area where they can be counted?
Let us, then, stick with Mr. Rugman’s findings, shall we? As the courageous correspondent has discovered, the Kurd-coordinated airdrops are executed by only four helicopters (one has since crashed), allotted by Baghdad. Emergency supplies are available in abundance at various nodal points; not so the means to deliver them. Priorities set by the central government do not include “rescuing a little known Yazidi minority in Kurdistan, a region which wants to break away from Iraq and become its own country.”
The Kurds assisting those marooned on the mountains would like to secede from the morass that is Iraq. Alas, the master puppeteers in Washington have hitherto been wedded to a unified (at the point of a gun) Iraq, dominated by a strong (sectarian and corrupt) central authority. This White House, and the one before it, fetishizes Iraqi national unity. It believes that to succeed, Iraqis should be like Americans, forever imprisoned in an arranged, unhappy political marriage.
Worse still: Not only had the US succored Saddam at his most monstrous, giving him chemical and biological precursors, pesticides and poisonous compounds to carry out his genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds—Bush also authorized a covert operation of US Special Forces to help the Turks neutralize the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Yes, America doesn’t know friend from foe, “Shiite from Shinola.”
The PKK are separatist rebels who’ve waged a decades-old campaign of terror against Turkey—it refuses to countenance Kurdish independence, and is forever threatening to destabilize the only stable region in Iraq. The PKK has been instrumental in the quixotic effort to save its Yazidi brethren.
Despite thwarting their quest for independence, the Kurds are the only sect in Iraq that has been consistently loyal to America—the Peshmerga fighters assisted US forces in the north during Bush’s war (Blair’s war and Krauthammer’s war) of 2003. Kurds are also the only group to have made good on their newly found freedom. Mono-cultural Iraqi Kurdistan is an oasis in the democratic desert that is Iraq, “where business is booming and Americans are beloved.” “When visiting Kurdistan,” enthused the CBS’s 60 Minutes, “one can see nation-building wherever one looks—Kurds are building their country day by day. There are more cranes here than minarets and there’s a run on cement.”
No wonder the constructive Kurds want little to do with the destructive Iraqi Arabs, who’ve persecuted them in years past and have now turned on one another.
When interviewed by American media, Qubad Talabani, a most affable Kurdish statesman, rejected legalistic definitions of genocide. Talabani, nevertheless, has stressed that absent assistance, the ancient sect is doomed. It would be essential to fabricate a humanitarian corridor through which to facilitate safe passage for the besieged Yazidis.
So I ask: Where are the Europeans in all this? Call the Vatican on the carpet! Is the pontiff incapable of cobbling together the cash and the crusaders needed to pave the way out—and off the mountain—for these Iraqi innocents?
Why does Israel not save its besieged friends in northern Iraq? The Kurds have been loyal to Israel, and vice versa. Unlike the US, Israel has long since been vested in an independent Kurdistan, recently voicing its support for the sovereignty of a kindred minority. “To this day,” seconds commentator Yossi Alpher, “Israelis and Kurds maintain strong links based on their unique status as non-Arab peoples striving for independence in the ‘Arab’ Middle East.”
Israelis are quite capable of dropping supplies, dispatching opponents, and airlifting these poor people to safety. They accomplished a similar feat for roughly 36,000 Ethiopian Jews, living under the threat of that Marxist-Leninist, Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam—a munificent man compared to the ISIS devils. Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to safety in a series of daring operations initiated by successive Likud governments headed by Menachem Begin and then Yitzhak Shamir.
Why is Israel missing in action on the Yazidi’s Masada?