A coalition of Jewish and Christian religious and community organizations jointly presented a program on the genocide against Christians and minorities in the Middle East on July 24 at Shenandoah Country Club.
Organized by the Zionist Organization of America- Michigan Region, the event featured a powerful, new documentary from the Clarion Project, Faithkeepers, with presentations by Assyrian activist Nahren Anweya and Egyptian Christian Marvie Neubauer, adding light to the atrocities being perpetrated in Iraq and Egypt, respectively.
Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro provided an overview of the current geopolitical situation. The audience signed postcards encouraging all 14 members of Michigan’s congressional delegation to support HR565: Save Christians from Genocide Act, which is co-sponsored by Congressman Mike Bishop.
ZOA-MI Past President Eugene Greenstein introduced the program, recounting his meeting with the Chaldean community and a State Department representative earlier this year. He said he could only imagine the feelings of the Jewish community who petitioned the inaction of the Roosevelt Administration during the 1940s. “For over a decade, the Holocaust was relinquished to the New York Times’ back pages and our government was deaf to appeals to rescue Holocaust victims,” he said.
Greenstein pointed out that the recent murder of three members of Israel’s Salomon family for being Jewish is another example of the horror in the region, and only the Israel’s IDF is preventing another genocide of Jews.
Faithkeepers traces the past century’s persecution and devastation of the Chaldean, Armenian, Assyrian, Jewish and Coptic communities in the Middle East and puts a face and voice to the horrors of the ongoing genocide using victims’ personal testimonials.
The Christian community was 20 percent of the Mideast population 100 years ago, yet now is only 4 percent. The forced expulsions of the Jewish population in North Africa and the Middle East (outside of Israel) went from 950,000 in 1948 to a few hundred.
The film’s harrowing detail describes the killing, torture, rape, forced conversions and sexual slavery practiced by ISIS against “non-believers.” Anweya and Neubauer reinforced the film with heart-wrenching accounts of what is taking place in Iraq and Egypt. Anweya detailed the crucifixion of her two great-grandfathers, the present situation in Iraq and her family fleeing Iraq with only money sewn in clothing.
Neubauer spoke of the kidnapping of Christian girls into forced marriages, destruction of churches and the horror experienced by those who attempt to leave Islam and convert to Christianity. She highlighted the case of Hope (not her real name), a girl who was beaten by her father and raped by three of his friends for the crime of becoming a Christian.
The event was promoted by the Armenian Congregational Church, Adat Shalom Synagogue, Chaldean Community Foundation, the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, Detroit Armenian Women’s Club, the Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute (ICAE), Hadassah Greater Detroit, Friends of Israel Ministry, the Ishtar Cultural Center, MEA TV, Michigan Jewish Action Council, One World Medical Mission, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syriac Assembly Movement, United Community Family Services, Volunteers for Israel and ZOA-MI Region.