When ethnic or religious persecution comes...

Jews around the world are seeing an upsurge in antisemitism not at all unlike its development in Europe and Iraq in the 1920s and 30s.

The statue of an Iraqi torturer whipping a victim with an electrical cable (photo credit: BRIAN SCHRAUGER)
The statue of an Iraqi torturer whipping a victim with an electrical cable
(photo credit: BRIAN SCHRAUGER)
There is a tendency when hearing about ethnic or religious persecution to regard it only as news or history. In today’s world, this is a serious mistake and could be a deadly one. It needs to be redressed, and soon. The question is, how?
Like penetrating depressions into the womb of watery, warm and landless places, conceiving deadly cyclones, there are developments in today’s geopolitical climate that do not bode well for certain minorities.
Jews around the world are seeing an upsurge in antisemitism not at all unlike its development in Europe and Iraq in the 1920s and 30s. And as you read these words, Syrian Kurds are also undergoing an ethnic cleansing campaign directed by Turkey’s President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan. Remarkably, it is being facilitated by global defenders of human rights like the United Nations, the United States and NATO, of which Turkey is a member.
For those who are not Jews or Kurds, it easy to feel immune from these developments. Christians and Yazidis, especially those who live with, stand beside, or shelter Kurdish and Jewish neighbors beg to differ with that feeling. They are losing their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones, their lives; and they are losing them today. Like jarring, howling alarms, their voices are crying out for the rest of us to wake up.
Why? Because their realities today are likely ours tomorrow. The time to prepare for them is now.
Germany’s Jews in the early 20th century exemplify the danger of a slowly boiling pot. As patriotic citizens, fully integrated into the fabric of the Deutsche Reich, many found it all but impossible to believe their own government and neighbors would turn against them in acts of theft and butchery that to this day boggle the mind. Stepping into gas chambers, there still were some who would not believe what was happening.
Notwithstanding the post-Holocaust vow “Never Again,” there is a growing awareness that racist ideologies developed by the Nazis to a devastating effect are happening again.
The difference this time is that it is on a global scale. Kurds and those who live among them are demonized alike, regarded as a single target for displacement and death. For their part, while not yet evicted or targeted for elimination, Jews throughout the world are increasingly demonized. So too are those who stand with them.
Who is doing the demonizing? It is not just politicians. A growing choir of Christian voices that oppose the Jewish state are openly perpetuating antisemitic tropes that are as blatant as anything seen in the last 100 years. Notably, however, their primary target is Christians who stand with Israel.
Rick Wiles is a case in point. Formerly employed by the Christian and Trinity Broadcasting Networks (CBN and TBN), today Wiles anchors a YouTube channel called “TruNews.” In virtually every program, he eviscerates both Israel and all Jews, accusing them of every injustice and moral corruption plaguing Western culture. Who is to blame? According to Wiles, the answer is “Christian Zionists.” He says they are “heretics” and “blasphemers,” charges eerily reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition.
In short, Wiles and the exploding sentiment he represents against fellow evangelicals has made Christian Zionists proxies for antisemitic vitriol – and implicitly, for retribution too.
Just as Syrian and Iraqi Christians have been lumped together with Kurds both by ISIS and Erdoğan’s more recent ethnic cleansing proxies, so too Christians who stand with Israel and the Jews will be in the eye of developing hurricanes targeting the latter.
The eventual, if not imminent, development of these geopolitical storms is not a matter of if they will come. The only questions are: Where will they hit? When will they strike? How do we prepare?
The most likely targets will be Jewish communities throughout the world – and Christians who stand with them. As for timing, the best answer, probably, is soon. The present question at hand is how do we get ready? How do we prepare ourselves and others for developing deadly storms?
The answers are complex. None of them matters, however, if there is not a breakthrough against apathy and denial, especially among those who are leaders. Note, however, that in this case, “leaders” are not necessarily people with high profiles. In fact, they might not be in leadership at all. Targets for training are those who will step into leadership in such times as these.
What is needed, I propose, is a kind of Persecution Prep School. Based in Israel but primarily attended online, it will provide a comprehensive curriculum taught by veterans who have experienced each related topic, even those on front-line assaults today.
There are any number of highly qualified “professors” to teach things such as An Introduction to Survival Skills; Defense Against Deception: Spies, Lies and Video; Plotting Escapes; Navigating Death Traps: Denial, Passivity, Surrender, Shock.
Focused tracks might include:
• Rebuilding Community: how to reestablish social, economic and spiritual infrastructures
• Treachery: identifying betrayal by family, friends, communities, colleagues and neighbors—and how to deal with it
• Personal Attacks: how to respond, or not, to verbal, psychological or physical assaults; slander, demonization and litigation attacks; criminalization, imprisonment, torture and death
• Spiritual Vitality: maintaining a positive spirit of life in the face of relentless rage, revenge, ruthlessness and loss
What is needed? The short answer has two parts: a mandate and a team.
I propose the development of a mandate by writing a book, When Persecution Comes: Lessons from Jews, Christians and Kurds in the Fertile Crescent.
The Fertile Crescent is the locus of pending global persecution. Events unfolding there are templates for what lies ahead. They are also rich with real-life lessons on how to, and how not to respond.
Hand in hand with researching and writing this book will be the development of a team: administrators, strategists, instructors, marketers, technical professionals.
And underwriters. The need is now. Today is the day to begin.
Brian Schrauger is editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Journal and its primary publication at ChaimReport.com, and can be contacted at [email protected]