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The Middle East as Seen Through Foreign Eyes

Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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Save The Survivors

Save The Survivors

The American Committee for Relief in the Near East was a relief organization formed during World War I to assist refugees of the systematic and widespread killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1917. This advertisement shows a political map of the Middle East from the early twentieth century. Superimposed in bold red letters over Anatolia, Syria, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula is the phrase “Where the Victims Are.” The left side of the poster proclaims “Save The Survivors” above this exhortation is written, “number of non-Moslems (Christians chiefly) in [the Middle East] in 1914,” estimated at 8,105,000. ACRNE raised millions of dollars to alleviate the extreme poverty of many Armenian refugees, but an effect of their charitable efforts was the perpetuation of the negative stereotype that the Middle East is a region of intractable and inscrutable religious conflict and that Muslims, regardless of context, are inherently intolerant of other religious groups. ACRNE’s public campaign failed to suggest to Americans that the horrific actions of the Ottoman Turks were a violent consequence of nationalist contestation in a rapidly changing political environment where religious affiliation was one identity marker among many.

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