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Israel asked to recognize ISIS killings of Yazidis as genocide

A 24-year-old Yazidi woman, once taken as a sex slavery by Islamic State, is asking Israel to recognize that the atrocities that ISIS committed against her people in Iraq amounts to genocide.

Nadia Murad, who was abducted by ISIS when they invaded northern Iraq (Kurdistan) in 2014, made her request at a meeting at Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, on July 24. She is now a United Nations goodwill ambassador.

Murad’s request has been taken up by Zionist Union Knesset Member Ksenia Svetlova, leader of the Knesset Lobby for Strengthening Relations between the State of Israel and the Kurdish people. Svetlova is bringing a bill for the recognition of the Yazidi Genocide to a Knesset vote in November when parliament reconvenes.

A Knesset meeting in which Nadia Murad asks Israel to recognize the crimes against the Yazidis as a genocide, July 24, 2017 (courtesy)
A Knesset meeting in which Nadia Murad asks Israel to recognize the crimes against the Yazidis as a genocide, July 24, 2017 (courtesy)

“The Jews and the Yazidis share a common history of genocide that has shaped the identity of our peoples, but we must transform our pain into action,” Murad explained at the meeting.

Accordingly, Svetlova’s bill calls on Israel to commemorate the Yazidi Genocide every year on Aug, 3 and to convene an official memorial. It also recommends an educational curriculum that would teach Israeli about the atrocities.

“They [ISIS] surrounded more than 200,000 fleeing Yazidis on Mount Sinjar, without food, water or shelter,” Murad recounted the meeting. “Many of my people perished on the mountain.”

“They also systematically abducted thousands of women and children including myself,” Murad continued. “Women and girls were enslaved, trafficked and forcibly converted. Boys were indoctrinated with ISIS ideology and trained as fighters.”

“Despite some areas having been liberated from ISIS, the genocide continues today,” she added.

Murad pointed out that although the UN, and individual countries such as France and Britain have recognized the atrocities as genocide, the international community has not prosecuted individual perpetrators.

“The UN has not taken any action to establish a mechanism to prosecute ISIS for their crimes,” she said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has declined to take any action as Syria and Iraq are not parties to the Rome Statute, the international treaty by which the ICC was created.

Calling out Israel’s lack of official recognition to date, Svetlova told the convened meeting: “Three years have passed, and we have yet to hear a single official statement from the government of Israel. I think this is a disgrace, and from here I certainly call on our government to open their eyes.”

Israel, which is home to an Armenian community, has also failed to recognize the Armenian Genocide in which 1.5 million Armenians were executed systematically by the Ottoman Turks in killings that spanned several years from 1915.

Nevertheless, Svetlova said, the Yazidi matter was being discussed by the Foreign Ministry and she saw no reason why the bill would be rejected for something “so natural and obvious.”

“I respect how you rebuilt a global Jewish community in the wake of genocide,” Murad summarized at the Knesset meeting. “This is a journey that lies ahead of my community.”

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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