Activists form human chain, call for end to Syrian bloodshed

Protesters gather in front of US and Russian embassies in Tel Aviv.

December 18, 2016 20:57
3 minute read.
Protesters in front of Russian embassy in Tel Aviv

Protesters in front of Russian embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: TAMARA ZIEVE)

Israeli activists continued to rally in solidarity with the victims of the Syrian conflict on Sunday, after a couple of small demonstrations were held on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem over the weekend.

Demonstrators protested in front of the Russian Embassy and the US Embassy, both located along Tel Aviv’s coastline, calling called on world powers to stop the killing of civilians in Syria. Russia has been heavily criticized by members of the international community, and particularly by the US, for its backing of the Assad regime during the nearly six-year-long civil war.

The US has also been subject to criticism, for not having done enough to stop the war.

“We cannot stand on the sidelines in the face of the horrific images of civilian slaughter coming out of Aleppo. We can’t be silent,” event organizers said on their Facebook page. The event was hosted by nonprofit organization Tag Meir, which works against terrorism and racism in Israel.

“It can’t be that a massacre is happening, just dozens of kilometers away from us, and we continue to be silent,” Tag Meir chairman Gadi Gvaryahu told The Jerusalem Post, stressing that the Jewish people as second and third generation Holocaust survivors and refugees, feel solidarity with the Syrian people. He said the choice of location in front of the US and Russian embassies was because they are two world powers, and the protesters are appealing to world leaders to put an end to the conflict in Syria.

The protesters joined a small but growing chorus of voices emanating from Israel, demanding an end to the global silence over the bloodshed in Syria.

“When I think about the children, the same age as my own children, my heart breaks,” said Galit Goren-Gilad, who attended the protest with her mother and three children. “I really want to send a message to the Syrians that our hearts are with them and it doesn’t matter what happened all these years between us, we ache for them, and we are not enemies. We want the war to stop and the atrocities to stop and we want the Americans and the Russians to do what they have to do and what we can’t do and stop the war,” she told the Post.

“We can’t do much... but you can always walk,” Demonstrator Erez Bahar said. He remarked that he didn’t agree with the tie made between the US and Russian embassies in the event, “because with all due respect there is only one side who is bombing Aleppo.”

Earlier Sunday, the chairman of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Avner Shalev, said that world leaders and the global community must implement in Syria the principles they enacted after World War II.

“Over recent days and weeks, the world has seen evidence of renewed carnage in Syria,” Shalev stated, expressing “deep concern over the appalling images of massacres of human beings.”

He stressed the relevance now of steps taken by the global community after the Holocaust, including the foundation of international organizations “with the express purpose of averting future crimes against humanity.”

He added that international efforts must be made to provide humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees.

Shalev was speaking at the opening of the International Institute for Holocaust Research’s conference titled “The Jewish Refugee Problem During the Shoah (1933- 1945) Reconsidered.”

The three-day conference is convening leading scholars in the field of Holocaust research and education from around the world to examine various aspects of the Jewish refugee problem before and during the Holocaust. Participants were set to discuss the Jewish refugee crisis during the Nazi regime in a range of countries, as well as contrasting it with today’s refugee problem.

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