(April 9, 2018 / JNS) Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared that Israel has a “moral obligation” to intervene in what he called a genocide being committed against the people of Syria by its president, Bashar Assad.
Viral images of toddlers and young children receiving emergency medical aid, inhalers and oxygen treatments have raised an international outcry against the use of chemical weapons by Assad in his protracted war against insurgents, who currently control the city of Douma northeast of Damascus.
As many as 150 people were killed in the latest chemical-weapons attack, with hundreds more injured. First responders have accused Assad of targeting the Douma hospital with a poisonous chlorine bomb, and said that whole families were found dead with dilated pupils and foam at their mouths.
“I have said in the past and I will say it again, what’s happening in Syria is genocide of women and children in its cruelest form, using weapons of mass destruction,” Yosef said in a statement. “We have a moral obligation not to keep quiet, and to try and stop this massacre.”
“It is an obligation no less important than the moral obligation to destroy [the] nuclear reactor in Syria,” Yosef added, referring to Israel’s destruction of an Assad-built Syrian reactor in September 2007.
In 2016, Yosef made similar remarks during an interfaith meeting hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, stating “they are not our friends, but they are human beings who are suffering a small holocaust.”
“As Jews,” the rabbi said, “we must not stay silent.”