4/3/2017 Israel Can no Longer Do Nothing
As I write this article, I can look out at the headquarter building of the Israel Air Force — a place at which I served decades ago. The news of the day is the indescribably horrific, chemical attack by the Syrian Air Force perpetrated on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. MK Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Bayit HaYehudi party immediately called on US President Donald Trump to lead the world and take action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “the horrible images from Syria must shake every human being and Israel sharply condemns the use of chemical weapons.”
But this morning Trump tweeted about the Drudge Report and Susan Rice on Syria silence. Of course if President Barack Obama had not acted in Syria can we expect Trump to do so? The Russians have been systematically engaging in war crimes in Syria for the last two years. Are the Russians going to care that the Syrian are committing even more heinous war crimes? So, now, can we expect the United States or the world to do anything? Sadly, no.
We, in Israel, on the other hand, the nation that emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust hollering — “Never Again”; and a nation whose led by leaders speak incessantly about the atrocities of the Holocaust have done little to stop the genocide that has taken place 100 miles from where we sit.
Yes, I know all the reasons we should not take action in Syria. It is not in our interest to become involved — The world will condemn us ... The rebels do not want our help ... I can go on and on. It is truly not in Israel’s interest to attack. However, what moral right do we have to blame the world for their silence when our brothers and sisters, (or more accurately these days our aunts, uncles and grandparents) were being led to their deaths by the Nazis. How can we speak about “the lessons of the Holocaust” while we stand idly by and do nothing. We have shown that if it is in our strategic interest to attack — e.g., when Hezbollah tries to move advanced arms to Lebanon — we are able to attack successfully.
Israel can not stop the war in Syria. That being said, after doing nothing for five years, 500,000 people are dead. Moreover, thanks to the Russian and Iranian intervention, it looks like a mass murderer will remain in power. Still, the question resounds — Can we, Israel, morally sit on the sideline and do nothing? Might we at least destroy the aircraft that dropped the sarin gas, or possibly, threaten to destroy the rest of Assad's Air Force? Shouldn’t there be some actions be out of bounds, beyond the pale?
Sometimes moral imperatives must take precedence over national interests. I join MK Bennett in calling on President Trump to lead the way. However, I am pretty sure he will not. And if Trump does not, then we must go it alone. The souls of our lost six million our crying out in judgement — Have you learned nothing?