In today's Times, the Yazidis are us: In today’s paper, the New York Times describes the tribal hatred aimed at the Yazidis.
Azam Ahmed did the reporting. We thought of conduct which was described in Nazi-occupied Poland, then in the Balkans and in Rwanda. Ever so briefly, we also thought about us:
AHMED (8/27/14): The afternoon before his family fled the onslaught of Sunni militants, Dakhil Habash was visited by three of his Arab neighbors. Over tea, his trusted friend Matlul Mare told him not to worry about the advancing fighters and that no harm would come to him or his Yazidi people.Ahmed spoke to one of the people accused of turning against the Yazidis. Among us humans, loathing of The Other is deeply bred in the bone. People succumb to these tribal impulses all around the world, not just in eastern Ukraine:
The men had helped one another over the years: Mr. Mare brought supplies to Mr. Habash’s community in the years after the American invasion, when travel outside their northern enclave was too dangerous for Yazidis. Mr. Mare bought tomatoes and watermelon from Mr. Habash’s farm and sometimes borrowed money.
But his friend’s assurances did not sit right with Mr. Habash. That night, he gathered his family and fled. Soon afterward, he said, he found out that Mr. Mare had joined the militants and was helping them hunt down Yazidi families.
“Our Arab neighbors turned on all of us,” said Mr. Habash, who recounted his story from a makeshift refugee camp on the banks of a fetid stream near the city of Zakho, in Iraqi Kurdistan. “We feel betrayed. They were our friends.”
AHMED: “I called my closest friend after we fled, an Arab man who owned a shop in our village,” said a Yazidi man who identified himself only as Haso, declining to give his first name out of fear of reprisal. “When I asked him what he was doing, he told me he was looking for Yazidis to kill.”Do not refer to them as ISIS! That's not what they say any more!
The friend denied Haso’s account. But he grew angry when a journalist referred to the militant group as ISIS, because the militants now prefer to be called the Islamic State.
Another Yazidi refugee, Qasim Omar, said that just before ISIS reached his village, Arab neighbors began flying the group’s black flag from their homes.
“Before ISIS came, the Arab villagers had already helped them,” said Mr. Omar, 63. “I couldn’t believe it. They were our brothers.”
Ahmed also describes the way some Arabs have “risked their lives to save persecuted friends.” That happens everywhere too, among the “righteous Gentiles.”
Tribal loathing seems to be deeply bred in the bone. Presumably, mistrust of The Other was once a survival skill.
It surfaces in different ways within different cultures. Do you ever get the feeling that you see this loathing in ours?
We don’t mean, Do you see it when you watch Fox? We are asking a different question:
Do you ever think you've spotted this impulse among those within your own tribe?