The Jews of Iraq

A. M. Rosenthal

April 08, 1991|By A. M. Rosenthal

They are killing the Jews again.

This time the slaughter, the torture and the forced marches to death are taking place in Iraq and the killers have different names for the Jews.

They call them Kurds and Shiites as they spit in their faces and tear the beards of the men and throw the women down for rape, before the day's killing. It is a pogrom.

After this happened last, in the years when the beasts of hell ruled in Germany and befouled Europe, many people in the rest of the world said that they had not known.

Of course, those who did know could not hide the knowledge from God. But at least they could bury it deep in themselves.

Today no person and no nation can do that; the sin is a sore on the face and cannot be hidden either from the Lord or ourselves.

American soldiers watch within one mile of the places of slaughter. They weep because they can do nothing. But they are so commanded. But we who have freedom to act and speak, where are we?

George Bush, who fought so bravely against the earlier fascist killers, why do you do this thing?

Why do you sully your name, and our country's, by deliberately allowing Saddam Hussein to massacre the people you urged to rise against him?

Do you really think this country would have willingly followed you into the war, even though it was so clearly justifiable, if it had known that in the end you would allow Saddam not only to rule, but to kill the very rebels you encouraged?

Through underlings you tell us that ordering Saddam to cease fire against his own people would lead to instability in the Middle East.

Surely, Mr. President, you understand by now that it is not freedom of choice that causes instability but rule by murderers constantly self-driven to expand their slaughter fields at home or beyond the frontiers? But perhaps you do not understand -- or refuse to do so; a sad thought.

Jews by faith or birth: Where are you? Have you forgotten already that when killers are finished with the prey at hand, they always turn to you?

Jews of America, where are your protests and meetings, your organizations; rabbis, where is the outrage commanded by the Torah against evil, and where the duty to give succor to its victims?

Jews of Israel. I cup my ear. This is the time to show Iraqi sufferers, and all Arabs, that you are closer to them than many of their brothers, and will cry out against their own Hitlers.

Palestinians: Are you still standing on rooftops dancing and singing for the victory of Saddam, who is your beloved because he kills Jews? You do not run through the streets of Amman, denouncing him for killing your own people.

Do you expect Israelis to trust you now that you show that your hatred for Israel is so great that it drowns compassion for your Muslim brothers and sisters?

Palestinians, do you not understand that you are already Jews in Kuwait?

And you -- Catholic bishops of America, councils of Protestant churches and black American Muslims. Would you kindly speak louder? We cannot hear you.

Where are the great demonstrations of the left? And human rights organizations: I don't get many faxes from you about the Jews of Iraq. You nicely grouchy libertarians of the Republican Party, where are you?

Democrats, don't you see that the chance for moral leadership is being handed to you? I hear Sen. Al Gore protest; good. Sen. George Mitchell also says we should stop Saddam from using helicopter gunships. Good. But is that all the action demanded from the majority and its leader, a few words on TV?

And you, those few statesmen and philosophers whose friendship I cherish, can you not find it in you to denounce the cease fire resolution at the U.N. for what it is? In its timing it is a dastardly act that will allow Saddam to go on killing Iraqis without fear of interference.

There is a piece of Jew in most people. It is the realization that one day the lynchers and killers may turn and rend them or their children.

Perhaps that knowledge will move nations and people to save the Kurd and Shiite rebels. If we do not seize the moment, we will know shame and wear it on our faces forever. There is still time -- but days, hours.

A. M. Rosenthal is a syndicated columnist for the New York Times.

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