Why is the West, with its “overwhelming” majority of Christians, showing reluctance to offer a home to Christians fleeing the Middle East, asks Elliott Abrams, writing in The Weekly Standard.

The former foreign policy advisor to President George W. Bush compares the reluctance with Israel’s willingness to accept Jews persecuted in other countries, citing the rescue of the entire Yemeni and Ethiopian Jewish communities. “The rescue of threatened Jewish communities,” he says, “has been a central public purpose of Jews living in safety.”

US foreign policy doesn’t help the West see Christians as needing special treatment, Abrams points out. It only accepts refugees referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, but Christians often fear registering with the UNHCR and living in its camps because of their overwhelming Muslim majorities.

“UNHCR referrals guarantee an under-representation of religious minorities in our refugee inflow,” he says.

“Moreover, the [US] State Department appears to favour a definition of refugees as people persecuted by their [own] government. That is a test Sunnis in Iraq and Syria may be able to meet, but Christians will not: they are persecuted by various Muslim groups such as the Islamic State rather than by the regimes in power. On such distinctions do lives depend.”

Abrams argues that both Bush and Obama have failed to address Christian persecution “for fear of appearing to play the crusader and ‘clash of civilisations’ narratives”. When the US did act to save a persecuted religion in 2014, it was the Yazidis.

Special treatment should be afforded to Christians because, unlike Muslims caught up in Middle-East conflicts, they cannot flee to neighbouring countries “where their co-religionists are in the majority and where prejudice and discrimination against them will be absent”, Abrams concludes.