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Syrian blood is worth no less than Palestinian blood

It is time to boycott all Palestinian leaders in Israel who support Assad’s war crimes or do not publicly take a stand against them.

By Marzuq Al-Halabi

Syrian President Bashar al Assad (PanArmenianPhoto/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Syrian President Bashar al Assad (PanArmenianPhoto/CC BY NC ND 2.0)

There is not much left to say about Aleppo. But there is still much left to say about the campaign of destruction of the city. The disaster befalling the city has many faces, some of them reach me, in my office, especially as the descendent of a family who lived in Kufr Rum, one of the small villages surrounding the city. Every aspect of the destruction deserves its own comment:

1. According to reports coming out of Aleppo, a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing is taking place in the eastern part of the city, under the guise of humanitarian help. The Sunni population is being uprooted and sent to hell, after four years of living through the murderous attacks by the regime, Russia, Iran, and 50 well-armed militias under the control of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Ayatollah Khamenei. Ethnic cleansing also took place in many other places in Syria — in Al-Qusayr near the border with Lebanon, in Darayya near Damascus, etc. Ethnic cleansing is always accompanied with massacres, whether out in the open or the kind in which mass graves are unearthed in the days or weeks to come. According to reports, the forces fighting on behalf of the regime have “no God,” and are massacring the armed rebels and the civilian population in order to sow fear and force them to “flee willingly.”

2. It is now obvious that Bashar al-Assad has become a tool in the hands of two powers: Iran, which is looking for a direct passage to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean — in order to ensure a Shiite presence in a Sunni-majority area (and as part of a stated plan whose goal is to control strategic areas near the sea in the region) — and Russia, which has adopted a brutal doctrine vis-a-vis the countries and nations that surround it. Both these powers, along with China, have laid the diplomatic groundwork for the atrocities that we have seen in Syria since 2011, in which they have taken an active role. This has paralyzed the UN Security Council, and subsequently created the conditions for the massacres we are seeing in Aleppo.

3. The tragedy of Aleppo is an expression of the helplessness of the contemporary world and its institutions, specifically the Security Council. Not because of the institutions themselves, but because the international system is rapidly changing: in the near future states will disappear, appear, break down, and change their borders. All this will depend on waves of refugees, additional ethnic cleansing, and wars. And let us not forget that the United States and the West are here only to preserve their interests. A world system in which the strategies of the major players are constantly changing is uninterested in utilizing institutions that now seem irrelevant. The United Nations is unable to even send basic humanitarian aid to Aleppo or any other cities. And if aid is transferred, it is usually through Assad’s people and after large payments to the murderers.

4. Turkey, Assad’s neighbor to the north, have shown exceptional acrobatic skills in everything having to do with Syria. After threats of intervention, the only thing Turkey ended up doing was buying oil and gas from ISIS, while hindering attempts at establishing a Kurdish entity in north Syria, which will form the base for a future Kurdish state. Turkey ended up making up with Russia, turning into the middleman between the rebels and the armies besieging Aleppo.

5. Saudi Arabia, which is embroiled in its own war in Yemen, was also exposed in its impotence vis-a-vis Russia and Iran. The state, which claims to lead the Arab world, which betrayed the Sunnis and the rebels. The same goes for Qatar, which proposed ruses, propaganda, and money. Beyond that? Nothing. Saudi Arabia’s inability to act is an expression of the Arab world’s helplessness.

6. Official Israel acted according to the rules of the game. If I were in its place I would do the same — I would take advantage of the situation in Syria to weaken my enemies and strengthen my operational and strategic advantage in the region. Israel acted rationally, even taking in hundreds of wounded Syrians and sending humanitarian aid to areas close to the border. Thus, my criticism is largely of the Arab leadership in Israel. Many leaders in these political circles support Assad’s massacres, ethnic cleansing, and the bombing of entire cities. Of course, they take this position for many reasons. Yet it seems strange coming from a people that faces oppression and struggles against racism and occupation. There are people who danced on their roofs when the forces of evil entered Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods, or when Hezbollah massacred the residents or Al-Qusayer, uprooting them from their homes.

Israeli tanks positioned along the Syrian border in the occupied Golan Heights, January 29, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli tanks positioned along the Syrian border in the occupied Golan Heights, January 29, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

These leaders are doing all they can to express their joy over the success of the “Arab resistance camp led by the Syrian army.” On the other hand, many Jewish Israelis have expressed their disgust at the massacres of the Butcher from Damascus, calling for Israeli intervention to stop the atrocities. Among them were those who cannot help but enjoy themselves as they watch Arabs massacre one another. I call to boycott all organizations and leaders who support Assad or who have not taken a clear stance against the war crimes that he commits on a daily basis against his own people. Syrian blood is worth no less than Palestinian blood. Syrians’ right to human dignity and freedom does not take away from Palestinian rights in Israel, or anywhere.

7. Aleppo is, in the end, another chapter in the story of Syria — of the region itself. The massacres taking place as I write these lines are a tragedy that expresses a number of qualities of human kind, and specifically the ability to let these atrocities take place only to look back and atone for our sins in retrospect. To come to conclusions, to write books and establish museums in memory of those who were massacred. Aleppo will be yet another cleavage in the history of humanity, a harbinger of massacres to come. No one can stop the wheel, because those who spin it are too strong. Because the God who turned away from the genocide of the Armenians, from the Holocaust, from the Bosnian genocide, from the Tutsis, and the war crimes of the Syrian Civil War — he no longer lives here.

Marzuq Al-Halabi is a jurist, journalist, author. He writes regularly for Al-Hayat. This article first appeared in Hebrew on Haokets. Read it here.

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    1. Grandpa Frost

      It’s time to face reality. The only value the people who are erroneously called Palestinians have is the fact that they have they Jews as their enemies. That, and only that is the reason why they are getting so much support from all over the world. Nobody is going to care about other groups of Arabs nearly as much, no matter how great their suffering is. I guarantee you that Syrian refugees will not get nearly as much support as the descendants of Arab refugees of 1948.

      Reply to Comment
    2. i_like_ike52

      Marzuq’s impassioned plea is most moving, but I have a question. The Syrian civil war with its hundreds of thousands of dead has been going on for FIVE years. Why only now are people getting agitated? Why haven’t we seen demonstrations, if not in the Arab countries where freedom of expression is curtailed, than in places with large Arab/Muslim populations like Paris, London or New York against all sides that are feeding the killing machine in Syria, such as Saudi Arabia/the Gulf States, Russia, HIZBULLAH, Iran, etc? For that matter there was the Lebanese civil war and the Algerian civil also with hundreds of thousands of dead. Did we see mass protests and outrage against those? What about the current civil wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and the mass terror in other countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan. Where is the outrage, if not from the rest of the world, but from the moderate Muslims who every day are seeing outrages carried out in the name of their religion?
      I think the answer was give by 972’s Samer Badawi in a recent piece here. He spoke with numerous refugees from the Syrian civil war in Jordan and he wrote that when he would ask them who was responsible for all the suffering there, all he heard was garbled, unclear answers. That is, Arabs/Muslims seem to view fratricidal slaughter as some sort of “Natural phenomenon”, like earthquakes, floods or volcanoes, that is something to be regretted, but not one anyone can put any blame on, especially if the perpetrator also happens to hate someone YOU hate!.
      The bottom line is that NO ONE REALLY CARES. Palestinians may fondly remember the Assad family for attacking Israel in the 1973 war and sponsoring HIZBULLAH terrorism against Israel, so they feel warm towards the Assads for making them feel good as individuals. So what if he is butchering fellow Muslim/Arab in Allepo? So what! Who cares? Who cares if fellow PALESTINIANS are being killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus by both Assad’s forces AND ISIS fighters? Don’t say anything, BOTH hate Israel and that is all that matters to Palestinians here.
      That is the bottom line. INDIFFERENCE, acceptance of Arab/Muslim violence and something natural and to be expected. Until that changes Marzuq’s plea will go unheeded.

      Reply to Comment
      • Duh

        Ike, there probably haven’t been many demonstrations about Syria in western countries because unlike Israel, there’s no clear demand that can be made of the American and European govts. vis-a-vis Syria, or at least, people are confused in the formulation of such a demand. We can demand an end to military aid with Israel, but not Assad. And no one is going to demand a “humanitarian” intervention after the disastrous (and criminal) invasion of Iraq. So essentially you’re saying there should be demonstrations for the sake of it, without any concrete objective.

        Plus, you raise a giant fallacy here: What you see (or don’t see) can’t tell you how millions of people think. Many Palestinians should be perfectly aware the Assad regime, both Jr. and Elder, killed Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria. Note that you most likely haven’t seen demonstrations in favor the regime, either. What does that tell you?

        Reply to Comment
        • Bernie X


          No. There is a very clear demand,and it should be ‘Stop the killing’.

          Reply to Comment
          • Duh

            And who’re we talking to here? It certainly isn’t Assad. We know already what he thinks of demonstrations.

            Reply to Comment
          • Duh

            There’s another reason I’ve considered why we don’t see numerous demonstrations about Syria by refugees/expats (and these would be the people organizing the demos, as demos against Israel tend to be organized by Palestinians), but this is guesswork on my part: It could be they’re worried about being identified and having their relatives back home penalized on their behalf. Palestinians aren’t going to have that problem, since the Zionist state bans them and their relatives from entering Palestine to begin with!

            Reply to Comment
        • Subway1EightyNine

          You are being modest. There are certainly demands that can be made. There are Saudi and Iranian and Russian ambassadors that can be expelled. There are sanctions that can be placed on Saudi, Iran, and Russia. There are weapons deals that can be cancelled to Saudi. There are lots of bodies in Europe that are operated by the Saudis and Iranians that can be picketed, protested, boycotted or expelled. Hezbollah can be declared a terror group in Europe. The French can cancel their weapons deals with the Russians.

          Pick any side in this conflict that you wish to hold responsible and I’ll give you a list of measures that one can conceivable push forward if one were to care enough about the suffering of the Syrian people. Obviously I believe that most of the suffering has been caused by the Assad regime and his Iranian and Russian allies. Assad’s allies are a European Christian and a Shiite Muslim countries. It should be trivial to organize the Sunnis that make up the overwhelming majority of Arabs/Muslims in Europe to organize against either one of them. But again, that requires for Arabs and Muslims as organized communities to actually care when Arabs and Muslims are getting killed, rather than caring when Jews are the other side of the conflict. It also requires for non-Arabs and non-Muslims to care about the suffering of Arabs, but that caring is apparently selective, with the “Stop the War Coalition” in the UK all but encouraging the Russians and Iranians in carrying out war crimes in Syria. This is the “human rights” and “anti-war” organization that organized marches against the US and Israel. But of course, the Syrian war exposes these organizations as being more anti-West than anti-war.

          Nice “fallacy”. So, the absence of action in the face of atrocities is in itself not an expression of held beliefs? It means that there is an overwhelming apathy and unwillingness to act. The only explanation for that kind of situation is not actually caring about the lives of Syrian civilians.

          Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        No, I_like_Ike alias Ben Israel alias many other pen names, you don’t ‘have a question’, you’re just posting the same BS about the lack of demonstrations in Paris, New York and London, that you’ve been posting for the last 5 years, and even when people have tried to answer your questions, you don’t care, and why ? Because you’re just a pro-settler-American-squatter-of-Palestinian-land-Troll who’s lying out through his racis mouth the occasion comes around.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Duh

      Point taken with Saudi and Russian weapons, though expelling (or recalling) ambassadors has in the past proven to be a cheap symbolic action, c.f. Turkey and the Mavi Marmara.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Can you honestly imagine any of the Palestinian leaders in Israel taking a moral stand on anything that is not in their own interests? Not even Palestinian journalists manage that.

      If there’s no vilification of Israeli government or people involved what’s in it for them?

      Reply to Comment
      • i_like_ike52

        So much for the famous “Pan-Arab” or “Pan-Muslim” solidarity they are always claiming they have. Not to mention how we are told how “Islam, unlike Christianity or Judaism, is a religion of universal peace and brotherhood”. Well, let’s seem some of that in practice.

        Reply to Comment
    5. AJew

      “And who’re we talking to here? It certainly isn’t Assad. We know already what he thinks of demonstrations.”

      The other point that you are unintentionally making here is that when people demonstrate against Israel. They expect Israel to listen. Ok then.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Itshak Gordin Halevy

      This is unfortunately wrong: nothing is worth the “Palestinian blood” according to the European governments or the international (mainly Israeli) left. African blood for example is 10 times less worth that the “Palestinian” one.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Baladi Akka 1948

      Yes, Bashar al-Assad is a murderous bastard, and I too am disgusted by people, also Western ‘pro-Palestinians’ who stand by the Syrian regime.
      Just one point: I don’t know what word was used in the Hebrew version but “ethnic cleansing” in English is NOT correct: we’re talking about Arabs expelling Arabs, because of their supposed political views (in the Aleppo-case).
      I can imagine that lots of people (Zionists among others) are eager to talk about ethnic cleansing in the Syrian case in order to minimize the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs by European Jews.

      Reply to Comment