Grave human rights violations against religious and ethnic minorities have become increasingly commonplace in the Muslim world. Not only Jews are targeted, but, as the world has seen, Christians, Hindus, Baha'i, Alevis, Shi'as, Sunnis -- and anyone who does not conform to some self-appointed person's vision of Islam. Muslims are burned alive, Christians' heads are cut off on a beach, a Christian couple in Pakistan is thrown alive onto a burning kiln, churches and Bibles are not allowed in Saudi Arabia, and there are sign-posted roads and turn-offs for anyone not Muslim. It is hard to get more "apartheid" than that.
Meanwhile, as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists are busy bashing Israel, Yezidi children and women are raped by Islamic State (IS) terrorists, Iranian Kurds under torture are awaiting their executions, and Christians are sold into slavery or beheaded. Being persecuted has become an integral part of the daily lives of Christians all around the Muslim world. Yet where, from the groups that are always quick to condemn Israel, are the rallies, marches, flotillas or boycotts against these regimes and terrorists?
Anti-Israel protestors in Australia demand Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), June 2010. (Image source: Takver/Wikimedia Commons)
Women and girls in Nigeria and Iraq, some as young as 12, are sold into sexual enslavement, forced to convert, raped and tortured in a jihadist ethnic cleansing campaign by Islamic State militants and Boko Haram. Iran daily continues to persecute, torture, and hang its Kurdish citizens. And Christians in the Muslim world face genocide en masse; they are kidnapped, murdered, or forced to convert.
While all this persecution takes place in the Muslim world, there are actually activists busy organizing hysterical Jew-bashing events called Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) during February and March of this year.
Its website describes IAW as "an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel's apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign." The events, they say, take place almost all around the world from the UK, US, Canada, Europe, to South Africa and South America.
In other words, while millions of people worldwide are suffering real and extreme persecution at the hands of Islamists, it is Israel, the Middle East's only democracy -- where no one is above the law, where citizens all have equal rights and no one is murdered for expressing his political views -- that is targeted and bullied by these so-called "human rights activists" and academics. Deaf and blind to the real sufferers all around the world, these Jew-haters seem in reality just brainwashed, misinformed neo-anti-Semites.
As the American attorney, Alan Dershowitz, states:
The BDS movement is immoral because it violates the core principle of human rights: namely, "the worst first." Israel is among the freest and most democratic nations in the world. It is certainly the freest and most democratic nation in the Middle East. Its Arab citizens enjoy more rights than Arabs anywhere else in the world. They serve in the Knesset, in the Judiciary, in the Foreign Service, in the academy and in business. They are free to criticize Israel and support its enemies... Moreover, Israel's record of avoiding civilian casualties, while fighting enemies who hide their soldiers among civilians, is unparalleled in the word today.
In August 2014, Islamic State (IS) terrorists kidnapped hundreds, possibly thousands, of Yezidi men, women and children fleeing its invasion of the region of Sinjar [Shingal], in Iraq.
"Another Halabja is happening to us," said a Yezidi woman interviewed on Kurdish Rudaw TV, referring to a genocidal chemical weapons attack on the (Iraqi) Kurdish city of Halabja, in which approximately 5,000 Kurdish civilians, including women and children, were killed by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein on March 16-17, 1988. "We are disabled, we cannot walk any more," she said. "No food, no water, our children have all died."
Another Yezidi refugee told Rudaw TV that three of her daughters -- after being raped and later allowed to rejoin their family -- committed suicide. "My daughters were calling on people to kill them," their mother said, "but no one wanted to do that. So they jumped from the mountain."
"Hundreds of the men were killed and others were forced to convert to Islam under threat of death. Younger women and girls... were separated from their parents and older relatives and sold, given as gifts or forced to marry IS fighters and supporters. Many have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including rape, and other forms of sexual violence, and have likewise been pressured into converting to Islam."
The Islamic State, now joined by Boko Haram, an equally barbaric jihadist group, continues to hold hundreds of captives, many of whom are women and children.
Persecution of Kurds in Iran
The situation in Iran is as wretched. Political prisoners, many of whom are Kurds, are being tortured and hanged by Iranian authorities.
A few weeks ago, the Iranian authorities put to death a juvenile offender, Saman Naseem, only 17 when he was arrested, and a Kurdish political prisoner, according to Iran Human Rights (IHR). Naseem was sentenced to death in April 2013 by a criminal court for "enmity against God" (moharebeh) and "corruption on earth" (ifsad fil-arz) because of his membership in the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), and allegedly for taking part in armed activities against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Naseem, a week before he was to be executed, wrote a letter describing how officials tortured him constantly for 97 days to make him "confess" to a "crime," for which they then sentenced him to death:
"During the first days, the level of torture was so severe that it left me unable to walk. My whole body was black and blue. They hung me by my hands and feet for hours. I was blindfolded during the whole period of interrogations and torture. I could not see the interrogation and torture officers.... During the trial, even the presiding judge threatened me with more beatings a number of times and my lawyers were removed under pressure."
Naseem was executed on February 20, 2015.
Also executed in Iran on February 20, allegedly for supporting Komala, an Iranian Kurdish opposition group, were Habibullah Afshari, 26, and his brother Ali Afshari, 34. They had been in a group of six political prisoners jailed in Urmia prison, according to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network.
Another Kurdish political prisoner, Yousef Kaka Mami, was transferred from Urmia Central Prison to a secret detention facility of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. To date, his family has received no news about his situation.
The escalation of executions of prisoners in Iran continues. On March 4, six Kurdish prisoners, Jamshid and Jahangir Dehgani (brothers), Hamed Ahmadi and Kamal Molayee, Sedigh Mohammadi and Hadi Hosseini were executed in Rajaishahr prison of Karaj. They had been sentenced to death for offences including "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth." They had been subjected, before that, to torture, ill-treatment and an unfair trial, Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported.
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR said:
"We hold Ali Khamenei, the Supreme leader of the Iranian authorities, responsible for this inhumane act. The international community, and especially the countries involved in the dialogue with Iran must condemn these executions. Anything else will send the wrong signal to the Iranian people and the authorities. The world must show that their dialogue with the Iranian authorities also benefits the human rights."
Torturing, murdering and publicly hanging their own citizens, however, does not seem to satisfy the bloodthirstiness of many Iranian state authorities. They also call for "Death to America" ["Marg bar Amrika"]. They refer to America as "The Great Satan" ["Shaytan-e Bozorg"], and for Israel, "The Little Satan," to be "wiped" off the map. Just last November, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the destruction of Israel, stating that the "barbaric" Jewish state "has no cure but to be annihilated," and posted a plan entitled, "9 key questions about the elimination of Israel" on his Twitter account.
And how does the United Nations -- that pillar of morality, which still has indicted no one for its $100 billion oil-for-food embezzlement, and which turns a blind eye to peacekeepers who get sex from children in exchange for food -- respond to these genocidal threats? Does even one member nation point to the UN's own charter, which forbids member nations to threaten one another?
No; instead, the UN, which allows voting from countries that do not even allow their own people to vote, has, year after year, been calling for the destruction of -- not those tyrannies calling for genocide -- but the one country in the area with equal justice under law, which keeps reminding the rest of us of what we cannot get.
What these dictators and tyrants evidently calculate, is that if Israel can be made to go away, their own people will no longer be able to compare the restrictions in their own countries to the limitless opportunities they can see so temptingly in the oasis next door.
Persecution of Christians in the Muslim World
Each month, about 322 Christians are killed for their faith; 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 acts of violence are committed against Christians, such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages, according to Open Doors, an organization that has been monitoring persecution of Christians worldwide since the 1970s.
Open Doors compiles a World Watch List (WWL) that ranks the top 50 countries where Christians face the greatest persecution. The list features North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria and Maldives as the places where Christians are now facing the most extreme persecution.
Islamic State militants daily continue murdering Christians in Syria and Iraq. In late February, the number of Christians abducted by the Islamic State in northeastern Syria rose to 220, as militants rounded up more Christian Assyrian hostages from a chain of villages, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
"If this were happening to any other group besides Christians, it would be the human rights tragedy of our time," states Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East scholar. "There would be loud worldwide calls for action." But the media, he writes, remain silent,
"because Muslim persecution of Christians throws a wrench in the media's narrative that 'Muslim violence is a product of Muslim grievance.' That grievance is... portrayed as the sin of European colonialism and alleged American imperialism. In the Muslim world's mind, those two sins are personified by the Jewish State of Israel, a nation the Muslim world believes was forced upon it by the colonial powers of Europe following World War II and is currently supported by the United States.
"Much of the Western world and the Western media have largely bought at least some of this narrative. Here is how it works: Because Israel, with the backing of the United States, is stronger than its Muslim neighbors, the media, while not defending Islamic terrorism, often portray terror against Israel, America, and even Europe as the actions of understandably angry "underdogs" fighting for what they deem "justice." But what happens to this media narrative when Islamic terror is directed against a minority weaker than them -- in this case, the millions of indigenous Christians throughout the Islamic world?
"The answer is that, rather than abandon this narrative, the media simply do not report the Muslim persecution of Christians except for the most sensational cases. That is why most people probably do not even know that there are barely any Christians living in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, nations where Christianity once thrived. Or, that this is happening in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and even Lebanon.
"Christians are indeed the most persecuted religious group in the world today. But reporting it would violate the media's narrative of Christians as persecutors and Muslims as victims."
To Israel-haters and Jew-haters, however, the non-stop terrorism and the genocidal charter of Hamas are merely responses to "colonialism" and "occupation" -- a claim that clearly flies in the face of the fact that Christians and Jews have lived in that area for over two thousand years, and for centuries have striven together to repel Muslim invaders. Hamas's vow in its charter to kill all Jews worldwide, as well as religious and ethnic minorities who are systematically persecuted by Islamists throughout the Muslim world, is not even questioned as a misdemeanor by these disingenuous "human rights heroes."
Bigotry, Hypocrisy and Jew-Hating
The BDS activists charge that the Arabs of Israel live under an "apartheid" regime similar to that practiced in South Africa.
South African apartheid was carried out against native Africans, who wanted an equal say in South African affairs. Regulations prevented marriage between races, denied Black Africans equal representation in the government, forced them to live in reserves and made it illegal for them to work as sharecroppers.
Israeli Arab citizens, however, do have equal rights in Israel They vote and take part in the government along with Jewish citizens, can own and buy land, get mortgages, enter any profession they wish, and can join the Israeli army -- as many do, especially the Druze and the Bedouin. Furthermore, in Israel, Arabs have a much higher standard of living and better educational opportunities than most of their neighbors in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon.
In Gaza, citizens enjoy complete political autonomy, under their freely elected leadership, Hamas. The only goods that are not allowed in are weapons and dual-use material such as cement, which, as the world could see last summer, was used to build secret underground cross-border tunnels, through which Hamas gunmen were planning to flood into Israel to kill or kidnap its citizens.
The BBC was shown around Gaza recently to photograph the rubble still everywhere, the same way Hamas operatives displayed dead babies to television cameras during the war it began by firing rockets into Israel. What the BBC did not show was that Hamas apparently has enough money to build military training camps for 17,000 women and children, as well as to rebuild its "military wing" bases near its border with Israel. That does not reflect a shortage of funds; that reflects what Hamas chooses to do with them.
Israel forcibly removed all its Jewish citizens from Gaza in August 2005, precisely so that Gaza could build a "Singapore on the Mediterranean." Israel even left state-of-the-art greenhouses for the Gazans, so that many could start off with a stable source of income. Within hours, every greenhouse was destroyed; and Hamas, instead of a "Singapore on the Mediterranean," first expelled all members of the Palestinian Authority (PA) from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, including its President Mahmoud Abbas, or else pushed them out of the windows of the upper floors of tall buildings. Then Hamas chose war.
Hamas, now trying to borrow legitimacy under the skirts of the Palestinian Authority in a so-called "unity government," might well have built Gaza into a prosperous, independent state. But until this unity government renounces its culture of unlimited, state-sponsored violence, and changes its genocidal charter, it is not prepared to be an independent state. The last thing the Middle East needs is still another genocidal, totalitarian, racist state, run by Islamic extremists such as Hamas.
In August 2014, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report entitled, "Not Welcome: Jordan's Treatment of Palestinians escaping Syria," containing accounts by refugees that detail how more than 100 Palestinians, including women and children, were denied entry into Jordan.
In one instance, a refugee, Mahmoud Murjan, was killed in September 2012, 20 days after being deported back to Syria along with his wife and two young children, by armed gunmen who broke into his house and abducted him. His body, showing marks of torture, was dumped on the street in front of his father's house.
"Other countries in the region also deny safe haven to Palestinians fleeing the violence in Syria or restrict their entry. Other than Turkey, all of Syria's neighbors have placed onerous restrictions on entry for Palestinians attempting to flee generalized violence and unlawful attacks by both government forces and non-state armed groups," the report said.
Of course, this discrimination against Palestinian Arabs by the Jordanian or other Arab states is largely ignored by many media outlets and "human rights" groups, including the organizers of the BDS movement and other European Union taxpayer-funded non-governmental organizations working toward the destruction of Israel.
Sadly, we do not see thousands of people marching in the streets, organizing protests or seminars on university campuses or condemning the Palestinian Authority, the Jordanian government or Lebanon for their abuses of human rights and other unjust acts against Palestinians. But why? Because those abuses were not committed by Jews? How much more racist can one get?
The BDS activists are not only cooperating with Hamas, a terrorist group with a genocidal charter, but also damaging their own free societies in the West by fostering hatred against Jews and the Jewish state. "There is nothing wrong with criticizing Israel," wrote scholar Diane Weber Bederman. "It is no more perfect than Canada or any other Western country. All democracies have problems. It becomes antisemitism when Israel is criticized at the expense of all other people in need of help... without a word about the actions taken in autocratic, theocratic, despotic regimes or other democracies, that's antisemitism."
Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident, has suggested a "3-D" test for differentiating legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism.
The first "D" is the test of whether the Jewish state or its leaders are being demonized, and their actions being blown out of all rational proportion. The second "D" is the test of double standards. For instance, criticism of Israel is fine; but when Israel is singled out for condemnation by the United Nations for perceived human rights abuses, while proven obliterators of human rights on a massive scale -- such as China, Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Russia, North Korea, Mauritania, to name just a few, are not even mentioned -- that shows a double standard. The third "D" is the test of delegitimization: "While criticism of an Israeli policy may not be anti-Semitic, the denial of Israel's right to exist is always anti-Semitic."
The Jews are Israel's native indigenous people -- biblically, archeologically and historically. They were forced into a worldwide diaspora by the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar, the Romans and larger political or religious groups, some with theocratic agendas that treated them as second-class citizens.
Israel is not the cause of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has existed for centuries in the region, since long before the re-establishment of the state of Israel in 1948
The biased media coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is influenced by anti-Semitism.
Trying to demonize, delegitimize and apply double standards against a pluralistic, tolerant and democratic state such as Israel, by siding with genocidal groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, has nothing to do with human rights. It is just raw, undisguised anti-Semitism.
No matter what the activists of the BDS and other Jew-hating movements claim, what they do not do is promote either peaceful coexistence or justice. The biggest impact of their activism of hate against Israel is that it causes the voices of people who deeply suffer to go unheard and unnoticed.
If BDS activists would stop directing their hatred toward the one country in the region that does more than any other for minorities -- its own and worldwide -- maybe they would hear the voices of Yezidis, Christians, Iranians, Kurds and the many others who are murdered, raped and tortured daily, and are desperately waiting to be helped.
Trying to delegitimize Israel, the only truly moral country in the region, does nothing to help anyone. It only harms people who are more aware of justice and truly helping humanity than the Israel-haters will ever be. The Israel-haters overlook the truly beleaguered, who need a helping hand the most.
Uzay Bulut, raised a Muslim, is a journalist based in Ankara, Turkey.
 "Despite being the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel routinely faces more criticism and condemnation at the United Nations than any other country, including those that systematically kill their citizens or deny them the most basic of human rights," according to foreign policy expert Mitchell Bard. "Even today, both the General Assembly and Security Council continue to pass one-sided resolutions that single out and condemn the Jewish State. Additionally, an overwhelmingly powerful bloc led by the Arab nations promotes a narrow and slanderous agenda meant to isolate Israel that has met little resistance."