CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMN: Jewish rabbi decries ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Christians



The last time most of us heard the term “ethnic cleansing” was probably in a history class during a discussion of World War II and the Holocaust. However, one Jewish rabbi believes that Christians today are experiencing the phenomenon of ethnic cleansing.

Lord Jonathan Sacks, a British chief rabbi and a philosopher, recently wrote an opinion piece, featured in The Telegraph, declaring that Christians, especially those in the Middle East, are facing unprecedented persecution.

The ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East is one of the crimes against humanity of our time, and I am appalled that there has been little serious international protest,” wrote Sacks.

Contrary to what some may realize, Sacks outlined that Christians are being targeted in many other places other than those of which we might readily think, such as Iraq or Syria.

Sacks said, “Christians are being persecuted in some 50 countries, among them North Korea, Syria, Somalia and Sudan. In 2003 there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq; today a few thousand. In Mosul, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Christians were forced to flee by Islamic State (Isil) in the summer of 2014. In Afghanistan the last church was burned to the ground in 2010. In Gaza in 2007, after the rise of Hamas, the last Christian bookshop was destroyed and its owner murdered.”

While it is obviously wrong to project one historical event on another, Sacks is being brutally correct in pointing out that history is repeating itself, although this time, it might be much worse than what previous generations have had to endure.

“There have been ages of terror before, but never on this scale, and never with the kind of technology that has given the jihadists the ability to radicalise individuals throughout the world, some acting as lone wolves, others, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, working in small groups, often involving family members,” wrote Sacks.

A perfect example of this can be seen in the example of 20-year-old Jaelyn Delshaun Young. On Tuesday, The Clarion-Ledger reported that Young pleaded guilty to a charge linked to an FBI investigation uncovering her plans to go to Syria and join ISIS with her fiancé, Muhammad Dakhlalla. Young is a lifelong native of Mississippi.

This is just one of many stories that prove Sacks’ point about the scale of terrorism present today in comparison to previous years. However, Sacks believes that this latest affront goes even deeper than just being labeled “war.”

Sacks said, “The real target is not Christianity but freedom. Nor is this a war. Wars are fought between nations, by armies, and the intended victims are combatants. Terrorists wear no uniforms, and their intended victims are innocent civilians.”

Sacks is making the point that while ISIS is committing actions of war, their resolve is much stronger than other wars that have been fought in history due to their uncompromising faithfulness to their ideology of wiping out Christians and those of other faiths and instating radical Islam as the only rule of faith and law.

Sacks believes that only “active opposition” will be able to stop this “ethnic cleansing.”

Sacks wrote, “We need people of all faiths to express their active opposition to terror in the name of God. It was Machiavelli not Mohammed who said that it is better to be feared than to be loved. It was Nietzsche, the atheist, who saw life as the will to power. No genuine religion ever needed violence to prove its beauty, or terror to establish its truth. This is not faith but sacrilege.”