LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images
Displaced Assyrians, who had fled their hometowns due to Islamic State Group (IS) attacks against their communities, take part in a prayer at the Ibrahim-al Khalil Melkite Greek Catholic church in the Jaramana district on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 1, 2015. IS jihadists in Syria recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians, one the world’s oldest Christian groups.
It seems bewildering that President Obama insists on opening the floodgates to Syrian Muslim immigrants even after the Paris terrorist attacks. It gets stranger. Ten percent of Syria is Christian, but on Obama’s watch, only about 2.5% of recent Syrian refugees have been Christian, and this even though — unlike their Muslim compatriots — Syrian Christians have nowhere in the Middle East they can go to be wholly free of persecution.
So why the stacked deck? No, Barack Hussein Obama is not secretly bowing toward Mecca five times a day on an Oval Office rug. There are almost no Christian refugees from Syria for the same reason there are almost no orphans in Haitian orphanages.
The Curious Case of the Orphanless Orphanage
That’s not a misprint. Orphanages are one of the last places you’ll find a real orphan in Haiti. I learned this when I was working on a documentary called Poverty, Inc., which (shameless plug coming) just won the 2015 Templeton Freedom Prize. We were in Port-au-Prince interviewing an evangelical couple who had moved down there a few years earlier to start an orphanage and adopt a child. They began by visiting some orphanages to learn the ropes and had even found an orphan child to adopt.
But then one day they asked about the nice Haitian lady who was coming every weekend or so to play with the little kid. Oh, that’s the child’s mother, one of the staff explained. The American couple was shocked. They thought they were adopting a true orphan, a child whose mother and father were dead or irretrievably lost and gone. But here was a loving mom, showing up every few days to dote on her child.
It turns out the mother brought the child to the orphanage because she was broke and didn’t want one more mouth to feed. The American couple, Corrigan and Shelley Clay, started investigating and found that this was typical. The vast majority of the kids in the orphanages weren’t true orphans. Each of them had one or two living parents, often ones who cared about them and stayed in contact.
We followed up by interviewing anthropologist Timothy Schwartz. He had lived in Haiti for some two decades, had published academically on Haiti and written the book Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking. As he explains in the documentary, he was paid to investigate the Haitian orphanage situation for a major international non-profit and was surprised to find that he couldn’t find any orphans in the orphanages.
Eventually, he says, it all made sense. Being an “orphan” in an American orphanage is a coveted spot. It means three meals a day, a decent bed, school and books, maybe even an adoption to the United States, which then means the “orphan” can eventually grow up to send money home to his parents.
And because it’s a coveted position, the last person with the connections and resources to navigate his way into an orphanage is an actual orphan! He doesn’t have a parent to work the system. He probably also doesn’t have any paperwork. So how does the orphanage even know for sure the kid is free and clear of any claim on him? The last thing the orphanage wants to do is adopt a Haitian kid out to an American couple and then find out the kid had a Haitian parent who most certainly did not want her kid adopted overseas.
The orphanages don’t conspire to keep out true orphans. It’s simply that it would take so much more effort to take in mostly true orphans. The rescuers would have to swim hard against the system to do so. So the orphanages essentially become free boarding schools — some of them undoubtedly doing a fine job, but not fulfilling what they originally planned to accomplish: rescuing true orphans.
Syrian Christians Disowned by Their Fatherland
As I said, this directly parallels the situation with Christian Syrian refugees. In fact, the parallel is eerily tight. Many Americans would happily have us take in some nice Syrians who have nowhere in the Middle East to turn, who are hunted, plundered, raped, sold and sometimes murdered. And since we have limited capacity in a world of more than 7 billion people, it makes sense to focus on those who have nowhere safe in the Middle East to turn. Yes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims persecute each other in the Middle East, but each group has Sunni or Shiite enclaves they can retreat to in the region. The Christians, meanwhile, aren’t even safe in the refugee camps.
So dangerous are the camps for Syrian Christians that they mostly avoid them. And the UN does its refugee head-counting in the refugee camps. If the Christians aren’t there to be counted, desperate as they are, then they don’t end up on the asylum lists the U.S. State Department uses for vetting potential refugees.
So, why doesn’t the White House take steps to find and include persecuted Syrian Christian in numbers at least proportionate to their slice of the Syrian population? Maybe the Obama administration just doesn’t care, but even if they cared a little, doing something serious about it would risk annoying the Muslim leaders of the Muslim-dominated countries in the Middle East.
As bad off as the Muslim refugees are, they aren’t without politically well-connected advocates in the Middle East. Many Muslim powerbrokers are happy to see Europe and America seeded with Muslim immigrants, and would surely condemn any U.S. action that appeared to prefer Christian over Muslim refugees, even if the effort were completely justified. By and large, they support Muslim immigration to the West and have little interest in seeing Christian refugees filling up any spaces that might have been filled by Muslim refugees.
The deck, in other words, is heavily stacked against the Christian refugees. The White House has been utterly feckless before the Muslim power structure in the Middle East that is doing the stacking, and has tried to sell that fecklessness to the American people as a bold stand for a religion-blind treatment of potential refugees —religion tests are un-American! It’s a smokescreen.
There is Still Time to Act
Those Christians, on the run for their lives, are the orphans in this geopolitical drama. Their fatherland has turned on them and disowned them. They are without powerful advocates on the ground to navigate them through doorways and into the queue for adoption to America.
President Obama should act, but standing up to bullies takes courage and resources. Finding the truly helpless in a system rigged against the helpless takes effort and commitment. There’s still time for Obama, working with Congress, to make that effort and that commitment.
Just as the United States heavily limited the flow of Jewish refugees for a time during World War II, so now the United States is failing to open the doors to the religiously persecuted Christians in the Middle East. But America changed its policy then, and we can change it now.
And, by the way, while some have tried to equate Jewish refugees back then with Muslim refugees today, that argument doesn’t work. Muslim migrants have many places to turn to in the Middle East. But like the Jews under the shadow of Hitler, today’s Middle Eastern Christians under the shadow of radical Islam have precious few options. For many of them in this vale of tears, America is their last best hope for refuge.
Jonathan Witt is managing editor of The Stream and author, with Jay W. Richards, of The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanRWitt.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.