Thoughts following the Syrian massacre

Toppling the regime in Damascus should be the top priority these days | Those who once praised the Assads as anti-colonial heroes should learn their lesson | and condemnations of the Chinese-Russian Security Council veto would have sounded better if it wasn’t for the Americans’ history of using its own veto power

This blog deals mainly with political news and events from Israel/Palestine, but I do write about human rights issues, so it seems absurd not to say anything about the shocking events that take place so close to where I live. And while I might not have something new to add to the conversation, there are moments when obvious things should nevertheless be said out loud.

At least 200 people were killed by Bashar Assad’s forces in the last 24 hours. Estimates put the total number of casualties since the protests began at around 7,000, possibly more. This is not a civil war – it’s mass murder. It is our duty to demand from world leaders to do more – much more – to end the Assad regime, regardless of any possible outcome of his downfall. It is not enough to simply wait for it – and it seems that regime change is indeed on the way – but there is an urgent need to take action that can make it come sooner rather than later. Delays have already cost too many lives.

A couple of more thoughts following today’s news:

1. For years, Syria was considered by some people on the left a legitimate member, and even a leader, of the anti-colonial camp. As Yossi Gurvitz revealed here a few months ago, there was considerable double-talk by some members of Hadash on this issue. While most of the party leadership, including its Knesset members, condemned Assad immediately, the Palestinian Secretary General of the CPI (Israeli Communist Party, which is part of Hadash) and some others blamed Assad’s opponents for being “agents of American imperialism.”

I have supported Hadash publicly in two elections, mainly due to the fact that this is the only Palestinian-Jewish political party, and I believe that genuine cooperation between Jews and Palestinian citizens is the call of the hour. But I don’t think we can or should accept anything but a clear condemnation of the Assad regime from anyone, in any circumstances. Most of the left has long abandoned the habit of supporting tyrants just because sometimes they criticize or confront things we don’t like in the West; Syria should be the wake-up call for those who are yet to learn this rule.

2. There is justified outrage because of the veto Russia and China placed over the fable Security Council resolution on Syria. American ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice, was right in saying that her country was “disgusted” by the Russian and Chinese votes. Yet one cannot but remember Ambassador Rice vetoing – alone – a Security Council condemnation of Israel’s ongoing settlement construction, which was phrased in exact words the American administration uses when referring to this issue in public.

At the time, the United States explained that the United Nations wasn’t the right place for this particular diplomatic issue, and that the parties should solve the problem through direct negotiations. In fact, America was simply providing diplomatic cover for a systematic violation of human and civil rights by its regional ally. So there is something hollow about condemning Russia and China for doing the same, and even claiming that the two parties in this case – the Syrian regime and the opposition – should be encouraged to reach a deal on their own.


In video: street fighting in Homs; the opposition apparently captured armed vehicle and is using it against the army.