If it wanted to, Israel could have stopped the massacre in Syria
Op-ed: Israel is the strongest power in the region and could have easily saved the lives of tens of thousands of Syrians and spared the suffering of millions. There are many reasons why it didn’t intervene, but they are the exact arguments that stopped the Allies from intervening in favor of the European Jewry.
The most important thing we learned about in school was the Holocaust. The second most important thing, after learning about the Nazi horrors, was how the rest of the world’s nations, including the West, including the future State of Israel’s close friends, stood idly by and did nothing while Adolf Hitler annihilated the European Jewry. One key case study stood out in this lesson—why didn’t the Allies bomb the Auschwitz death camp, even after learning what was going on there?
The Holocaust, the European nations that cooperated with the Nazis, and the others that stood idly by, have been used as an argument for the lessons Israel and its leaders live by, “to make sure that a second Holocaust never happens,” “to only trust ourselves” and to use these as a frequent justification of the use of massive force throughout its years of existence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who uses the death camps’ bombing issue in his speeches, even said that “the Allies argued that bombing Auschwitz would lead to a radicalization of the Nazi regime and are now making similar claims about Iran.”
The question of whether the Allies could have even bombed Auschwitz’s railways and furnaces is in a deep historical dispute, but let’s assume that everything we learned in school in Israel is right and accurate—if that’s the case, then why didn’t Israel stop the horrible massacre and the war crimes taking place beyond the fence, in Syria, as early as five years ago?
Israel is the strongest power in the region. It could have easily beaten Bashar al-Assad’s forces, which are shattered and scattered throughout the country and have not posed any threat to the IDF for many years now. Even if Israel had imposed a no-fly zone on the Syrian Air Force, or defined an area for the refugees, without a real military intervention, it could have saved the lives of tens of thousands and spared the suffering of millions. It is very likely that an Israeli intervention would have also prevented the Russian military involvement in the region.
There are many reasons why Israel did not intervene—because it had more important things to do, because there were more relevant enemies to fight, because it did not want to appear as a country meddling in the internal affairs of another country, because the many casualties were not Jews. But these are the exact arguments which, according to the Israeli ethos, stopped Britain and the United States from intervening in favor of the European Jewry.
And it’s not that there has been no Israeli military intervention in Syria. On the contrary: Israel has a routine of frequently striking deep within Syrian territory. But these bombings are aimed solely at preventing the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last week, Arab media outlets reported that Israel had struck in Damascus. When he first addressed the bombings in public, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman clarified unequivocally that “the State of Israel has no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria.”
I wonder how such a declaration would have been interpreted in retrospect by Netanyahu, had the American secretary of defense said in 1944 that the US Air Force would not bomb Auschwitz so as not to intervene in its affairs with Germany.
The daily average annihilation rate carried out by members of the Hutu tribe against the Tutsi in Rwanda was higher than the daily average death toll of European Jews during the Holocaust. The US later apologized for not intervening in the situation there, although it could have intervened and although most of the dead were murdered by gangs of civilians armed with machetes, which the US Air Force could have easily stopped. The US will apologize to Syria's citizens, too.
Rwanda is far away from Israel, and Israel does not have the huge international deployment that the US Army possesses. But Syria is just a few minutes away from all Israeli Air Force bases. There have been days when the annihilation rate over there was similar to that of the Holocaust.
The guilt of standing idly by during the genocide in Aleppo, Damascus and the rest of that miserable country will forever weigh upon us, too.