When Uri himself makes it to Judaea, he experiences a very Jewish kind of ambivalence. Uri proves unable to do any kind of farm work, just as the modern reader would, since he is used to a sedentary and bookish life. By contrast, when he makes it to Alexandria, Uri feels truly at home in a kind of ancient version of New York City, full of ethnic diversity, commercial activity, and tall buildings.
If Rome is Europe, where the Jews are a despised minority, and Judea is Israel, where they are a pious but parochial majority, then Egypt seems like America, where Greek and Jew live in prosperous harmony. Assimilation turns out to be no shield against violence; and by the end of the book, Uri has lived through the Jewish War, which showed that nationalism was an equally catastrophic option. Captivity draws you in with its pageant of the classical world, but by the end it also turns out to be a profound meditation on what Judaism meant, and means.
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In order for the world to see who they are, they need to be held accountable in international courts on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. This is the only way Yazidis will possibly be able to move on with our lives, mourn our dead, and try to rebuild what we lost. It is also the only possible way to prevent a future genocide.
What else are international courts for if not to stop another Holocaust, Rwanda, or Sinjar? A trial tells the militants that the world in the twenty-first century is built in a way that values life and humanity above mere power and fear, and that not only are we capable of protecting the most vulnerable, but that we will, no matter what.
What did you find? Will your community return there? Kocho was destroyed but, still, it felt like home. Even though barely anything was left of my home, as soon as I walked through those doors I was desperate to stay. I wanted to sweep up the rubble and ashes and try to rebuild the house. We are all scattered now, and officials tell us that it is still too dangerous to go home. Can we convince the international community to create a safe zone there for Yazidis?
Most Yazidis believe that they will not be able to return to their homes without international protection and a new system for security and administration. Will international actors help us like they helped the Kurds in the s? ISIS left Iraq in a million pieces. As soon as it is safe enough, I will return to Kocho; there is nowhere else in the world where my life will be complete. But if the world and international community forgets about this ongoing genocide and Iraq continues to be pulled apart, it seems unlikely that I will ever be able to go home.
Do you see this as a big step towards achieving justice? Is there anything that regular people can do to help? The persecution of Yazidis is an ongoing and profound issue and the world must pay close attention. It is hard for me to imagine what they have been through.
What I experienced at the hands of the Islamic State will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. In a way, that trauma is my life now. But I was lucky; I escaped quickly and was helped by a sympathetic family. I was never taken across the border into Syria. As dangerous as it was, my escape was a success. Regular people first of all need to listen to Yazidis who want to talk about what happened to them and respect Yazidis who do not want to, or cannot, share their stories.
They need to be open to hearing about all aspects of the genocide, not just the sexual enslavement of women, and recognize that the tragedy extended into every corner of our community. Whenever they can, they need to tell politicians, the United Nations, journalists, and anyone capable of helping that thousands of Yazidis still live paralyzed lives in refugee camps, that over a thousand women and children remain in captivity, and that our homes remain threatened.
The world has a moral obligation to evacuate Yazidis from Iraq or provide them with a safe environment to continue to live. People need to learn who the Yazidis really are and understand that, no matter how small, minority groups around the world are worthy of having a voice and of being protected. I believe that the more people know us, the less likely it will be that my children and their children will live in fear of genocide.
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a book review by David Cooper: Captivity
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