Real Genocide

Jewish Light Editorial

Some of the harshest critics of Israel have, as we have mentioned in these pages, repeatedly accused the Jewish State of “genocide” toward the Palestinians. The Movement for Black Lives recently produced a platform containing this false and inappropriate canard. The document has caused painful, and in some cases hard to overcome, rifts between Jewish and African-American communities. 

Now that we have addressed that, let’s talk about real-life genocides — in this case, Syria. The Syrian war, now in its fifth year, has already cost the lives of 470,000 Syrians, most of them innocent civilians. While it has been described as a “civil war,” there is little question that the vast majority of the deaths lie at the immoral feet of the despot, Bashar Assad. 

PBS journalists and Richard Engel of NBC News have documented the carnage in Aleppo, in which the Syrian regime of Assad, with the backing of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah terrorist militia, has entrapped hundreds of thousands of civilians, leaving them without any kind of housing, food or water. Brave Syrian citizens have created a volunteer corps of “White Helmets,” who rescue civilians from the rubble created by the relentless barrel bombing of civilian centers of the once great city. One such victim was a 5-year-old boy, whose bloodied and soot-covered image has become the face of the civil war in Syria (see related opinion piece on this page).

In acts of cruelty reserved for the most evil of regimes, Assad’s forces and their proxies have deliberately bombed hospitals and medical clinics. There are a paltry few physicians practicing on behalf of Doctors Without Borders who have managed to remain in the war-torn country, but even their sharply-reduced presence may soon vanish.       

When will we see the people who express such care for the well-being and future of the Palestinian people (a goal we certainly share) devote even a modest percentage of their time on this world-class tragedy? Why don’t we see the flat-out, hard-core, protests that are so common against Israel reflected by advocacy groups on behalf of the Syrian populace? There is a systematic process of murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians occurring — not to mention the plight of refugees fortunate enough to escape the carnage. Any rational observer who cares about humanitarianism should condemn the world’s collective failure to help civilians in Syria. 

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The U.S. leadership was wrong when it declared a line in the sand regarding chemical weapons and then failed to act when evidence of such weapons emerged. We were sympathetic to the concerns the United States had — destabilizing Assad could have emboldened ISIS and its foothold in Syria even further — but at some point, Assad’s genocidal nature and goals, as propped up by his allies, deserved far more opposition than the world chose to muster.

It is high time that the civilized world banded together to introduce a resolution before the United Nations Security Council urging the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court to indict Assad as a war criminal whose actions amount to an evolving genocide against his own people. That would be the right thing to do, even if Russia exercises another cynical veto to prevent it from being passed.

Based on the inertia in the international community, which is looking on with eyes glazed over as Aleppo becomes another Auschwitz in our time, we will not hold our breath waiting for meaningful action to stop the bloodbath. But we will also not cease in our efforts to push for such actions so that we do not stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds.