UK rabbi: Praying isn't enough when Syria children are being gassed

As faith leaders voice opinions on int'l response to chemical weapons use in Syria, leading rabbi backs military intervention, British media reports.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
August 29, 2013 15:29
2 minute read.
Syrian activists inspect bodies of people they say killed by nerve gas in Damascus August 21, 2013

Bodies from Syria chemical weapons attack 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh)

 
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"Praying for peace is not enough when God’s children are being gassed,” a leading British rabbi, Dr Jonathan Romain, said in an expression of support for military intervention in Syria, British media reported on Thursday.

The Times of London quoted Rabbi Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, as saying that he felt “very strongly it is right to intervene in some way. The religious justification is clear.”

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Citing Biblical passages, he was quoted as saying: “When you see a helpless victim, don’t cross over the other side of the road." These comments run contrary to opinions expressed by other religious leaders in recent days over how to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The rabbi responded directly to comments made by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who urged British Prime Minister David Cameron not to "rush to judgment" over military action in Syria, warning it could have unforeseeable consequences across the Muslim world. "The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to urge caution but wrong to let it mean not taking action. The fact that Iraq has turned out badly should not prevent us acting morally in other arenas where we can," Romain remarked.

“There may be debate over what we do — ground troops or missile strikes — but it would be immoral to do nothing," he added.

Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage

Welby's comments were published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper before a meeting of Britain's National Security Council on Wednesday, chaired by Cameron.

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Welby, leader of the 80-million-member Anglican church, said members of parliament must be sure about the facts before acting in what is a "really delicate and dangerous situation."

Indeed, Cameron's plans for an imminent military strike on Syria were in disarray on Thursday after a revolt by lawmakers warning him to heed the "lessons of Iraq."

Meanwhile, Pope Francis and King Abdullah of Jordan agreed during a meeting on Thursday that dialogue among Syrians with the backing of the international community was the "only option" to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, the Vatican said in a statement.

Abdullah flew to Rome specifically to meet the pope to discuss the Mideast crisis. The king, Queen Rania and the pope spoke privately for 20 minutes in the Vatican's apostolic palace.

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