In recent weeks, since Eretz Yisrael has been blessed with an abundance of rain the likes of which we have not seen for years, masses have been streaming to the Golan Heights and the Hermon, where they can take in the breathtaking scenery of white mountaintops that, at least for this season, are reminiscent of some European mountain ranges. But what these thousands of people having snowball fights don’t know is that less than 30 kilometers away from where they are, a very different kind of fighting is going on, and it has nothing to do with snowballs.
Syria’s ground has long been not white. The official color has become a bright red. The war going on there is reminiscent of different periods and different regions, and if the events happening there weren’t proven facts, we would be hard pressed to believe that such things still take place today. The two sides have long forgotten any rules and there is no red line that deters them. They kill and slaughter, torture and murder; and every imaginable form of death has been tried. They murder dozens, hundreds of people each day, and it’s no wonder that the total number of deaths to date —according to official estimates — is nearing the 50,000 mark. These include men, women and children, among them babies that have been murdered in cold blood at point-blank range.
Fortunately for many of Hamodia’s readers, they are not exposed to more than a tiny glimpse of what is happening in Syria. The images that emerge from there — and today, photos spread all over the world faster than the speed of light — show us that the country is being ruled by a religion of murder and killing. No one has to give a reckoning; no one hesitates before pulling the trigger. Truth be told, pulling the trigger has already been classified as “a nice death.” There is no doubt that a majority of those being murdered by their brethren — and it makes no difference if they are Assad’s soldiers or the rebels, both have reached equally monstrous proportions of killing — would wish with all their might for a bullet rather than the torturous methods being used to kill them. But this request is not granted them.
Blood pours through the streets of Damascus, Hama, Aleppo and Homs, and it’s a wonder that anyone is still alive there after aircraft pound, snipers shoot, cannons roar, and bands of soldiers and fighters roam the streets, not part of any hierarchy, just acting of their own accord. These cities, which in the not-so-distant past symbolized Arab nobility, have become a wild jungle, where there’s no law, and no judge. Mass executions take place in broad daylight, and after each such event, there is always retaliation from the other side. It’s Gehinnom on this earth.
There are a different set of rules there today. There’s no Geneva Conference, and certainly, no one feels threatened by a Goldstone Report or something along those lines. No one even considers The Hague, and the United Nations has long folded up shop and disappeared. But even the laws of human nature, that one would think are integral to every normative person, have disappeared. No one is even talking about harming innocent civilians, after brutal murder of women and children has become routine. And the murder, carried out by “cultured” Syrians, and not African Muslims who “have no cultural norms,” comes at the end of tortures that cannot even be fathomed by most people. Not a day goes by when records of sick brutality are not broken.
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This cycle of bloodshed that’s raging does not end at the borders of Syria. Today, in the age of internet, everyone sees everything, and images are rapidly transmitted from one end of the world to another. At this time, we cannot help but be grateful for our lot, that we and our children are not exposed to the horrific images that blemish the soul and are damaging simply by virtue of exposure.
The heart recoils from the fact that sick-minded people around the world are exposed to these images, and it is impossible not to imagine what the effects of that exposure will be. There is no doubt that the level of what is considered doable is rising. That’s what happens when something that was considered a tragedy yesterday, becomes the standard today; it’s just another incident to be taken in stride.
That is perhaps one of the only rays of light in this dismal picture, which, however you look at it, should cause us some fear. Although we have never taken a side, not in the Syrian conflict and not in the entire Arab Spring string of revolutions, as humans, we should be crying out in the face of the seemingly endless bloodshed. Each day that passes brings dozens more wounded families, hundreds more tribe members lusting for revenge, who grab all the weapons, and undoubtedly, in their tradition, they will stop at nothing until they avenge the horrific deaths of their loved ones. These acts of revenge have also become routine.
And if initially it seemed as though there were a way out, and that compromise would somehow be reached, today it is clear that until one of the two sides sustains a death blow, there will be no peace in the homes of Israel’s northern neighbor. They know this, of course, and it is no wonder that they are fighting to the last drop of blood.
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The question that begs an answer in the face of this bloodbath is this: Where is the world? In contrast to the days of the Second World War, when perhaps the world could justify its inaction with the excuse that it did not know, today it knows, sees and hears very well. When the Arabs slaughtered their Jewish neighbors in Chevron and Gush Etzion, carrying out appalling acts of murder and torture that cannot be described, the world claimed it didn’t know. But that was in an era when it took a week for news reports to reach Yerushalayim, and a month for those reports to get to the United States. But today? This excuse no longer exists. The scenes transmitted in live broadcasts, under bold headlines, are disseminated with the knowledge that some of the fighting is devoted to creating images that can be transmitted around the globe in an effort to canvass global public opinion. But the world sees and does not shudder; it observes but does nothing.
Has someone heard the United Nations? NATO? The heads of state in the United States and Europe? The brothers of the oppressed Arabs? The princes and leaders of Arab nations? Where are they? They weighed in with a few sharply worded condemnations and perhaps helped with some unofficial weapons supplies, but not more. The huge Western fleet that pounded the land of Saddam Hussein with an iron fist could have easily — and with less than a tenth of the forces it had to send then — put an end to the Syrian devil’s dance. But it seems as though no one cares.
And how does that happen? The Syrians are crying for help, the widows and bereaved mothers that clutch the bodies of their loved ones weep bitterly. Those who have been sentenced to death plead for their lives until the last minute, perhaps someone will hear, someone will intervene; but the world does not hear and is silent. Their arms are folded. There are no condemnations, no threats or sanctions, and military intervention is not even a remote thought.
But there’s no need for intervention. Did anyone think of the simple step of threatening prosecution at The Hague? It should be quite easy. The International Court in the Hague — the one that is currently judging the serious war crimes of IDF officers who dared to shoot at armed terrorists embedded in civilian populations — could do a minor thing: publicize a statement to the effect of “You there in Syria: Continue to kill, murder and carry out every war crime without hesitation. But take into account that everything is documented, every testimony is kept. The day of justice will come.”
That’s all. It will do a lot.
But the world has other problems. Syria? Genocide? War crimes? Who really cares? Building in E1 is a far more dangerous matter of concern.
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One can draw many conclusions from what is happening in a country with which Israel shares a border, and parts of which Israelis can see clearly from their homeland. But it is impossible to ignore one conclusion. Anyone who bets on the countries of the world standing on our side in a time of crisis, anyone who relies on countries that at least pass themselves off as close friends and allies of Israel — and there aren’t too many who do — is making a big mistake. If this is the treatment the Syrians get when they shoot their own brethren, no one will be terribly shocked or horrified when the guns are turned on those who have always been perceived as enemies, and towards those for whom there were always different rules to the game.
It is perhaps hard to face the reality, but the time has come to internalize it. Even today, in the 21st century, when we live in an illuminated, progressive world, a world where “animal rights” people and “green” organizations can put a stop to huge government initiatives because of a perceived threat to whales or other sea creatures, actions that seem to come right out of the middle ages can still take place. And today it is more serious: today, these actions are not being carried out by mercenaries acting in the dark ages of Europe. They are being carried out in broad daylight, in front of cameras, and are broadcast during prime time. They are being carried out fearlessly because they know that world bodies with billion-dollar budgets intended to prevent such actions are doing nothing to prevent what is going on.
The world is perhaps silent in the face of horrific actions by bloodthirsty Ishmaelites, who are following the paths of their fathers. But we are Jews, who are compassionate, and who are supposed to employ the craft of their fathers and daven, with more intensity, to the Guardian of Israel to protect Am Yisrael from destruction. Especially now, when we see how it is impossible to rely on the rest of the world, which prefers to turn a blind eye even when a nation is being butchered, in such a case, our tefillos are needed more than ever.
And we are saying that in addition to issuing a cry, we should perhaps try, regardless, to arouse the world. To try, at least, to cry the cry of the bloodied Syrian nation. Because if the world stands passively by when a nation is drowning in its own blood, what will it do Rachmana liztlan when the victim is the Israeli nation?
Will it help? Probably not. But to cry and daven as we have been taught is something we can do even without thinking too deeply into it.