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Instead of asking themselves, as usual, how the world could have ignored the atrocities in the concentration camps and continued to sit idly by, this time Israelis can ask themselves a refreshing question: What is the difference between them – sitting in front of their TVs, watching the images of “horror” and “hell” in Syria, listening to reports that the “world is ignoring the horror,” that “nobody cares enough to intervene,” that “everybody has their own agenda” – and the English and Americans, and the Jews in British Mandatory Palestine, who, knowing full well about the “horror” and “hell” in Auschwitz and Treblinka during the Shoah, did nothing because they did not care enough, or they had other more pressing agendas? In what way is the Israeli public superior, morally speaking, to the world that sat back and did nothing?
Israelis mark Holocaust Remembrance Day and perform rituals at nationalistic ceremonies about the world that knew perfectly well, yet stayed silent; the cruel, indifferent world, so lacking in Jewish compassion. Meanwhile, in their very own backyard, in Syria, children are being attacked with sarin gas and the pictures are so awful they cannot be broadcast on television: children vomiting yellow foam and blood, their muscles turning rigid as they convulse. Innocent Syrian children, no less pure than the Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust. Did the Israeli public learn anything from all those incessant Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies?
Yes. They learned that the Holocaust is exclusive to them and they are the eternal victim, the absolute good. They learned that they have been allowed, for six years now, to ignore the “horror” and “hell” in Syria. They are allowed to sit in front of their televisions and ask why the Americans don’t do something.
It is clear the Israeli public feels it has the perfect alibi for nonintervention in Syria. They can salve their conscience with treating wounded Syrians who reach the border and ask for help. But it’s a drop in the ocean. The Israeli public won’t help the Syrian people, which has been taking a pounding for six years, even though we have the might to save them. The reason is simple: it isn’t in their interest.
Put aside the question of what interests are at stake and how legitimate they are. Let us stick to the principle: the Israeli public is ignoring the hell in Syria and is not helping the people suffering there because taking military action to rescue them contravenes their interests. The altruism the Israeli public demands in retrospect from the world that ignored the Holocaust is not being demonstrated in the present. It is beneath them.
Six years is a long time. Six years of collaboration with crimes against humanity. Because, yes, knowing and not lifting a finger is collaboration. All Israelis are collaborators with Assad. They settle for the lip service of hollow, cliched condemnations. This coming Holocaust Remembrance Day, take note: It is easy to tut and condemn the world, but it is difficult to act in real time.