Jerusalem – As a years’ long civil war continues to rage on in Syria, Israel’s Sefardic chief rabbi has called on the global Jewish community to speak out against the military offensive that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef likened the war, which began in 2011, to a small scale Holocaust during an interview hosted by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin that included Muslim clerks, reported Arutz Sheva.
“Every day not far from here, as we sit here, men, women and children are murdered in Syria, particularly in Aleppo,” said Rabbi Yosef. “Millions of refugees are homeless. Hundreds of thousands of others are starved, under siege.”
Rabbi Yosef noted that those who are suffering in Syria may not be friends of Israel, but as human beings, they deserve the support of the Jewish community, whose plight was virtually ignored by the world during the Holocaust.
“As Jews, we must not stay silent,” said Rabbi Yosef. “The call must be heard from here: a genocide will not be allowed to go quietly, in Syria and not anywhere else, and not against any people.”
An estimated 470,000 people have died in the civil war, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research as of February 2016. A truce drawn up by Moscow and Washington in September lasted just one week and violence has since escalated in the area, particularly in Aleppo. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, and representatives of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Saturday to discuss a possible ceasefire.
Aleppo, located in northern Syria, had long been home to one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities and Yoav ben Tzeruya, one of King David’s generals, is said to have laid the cornerstone for the Central Synagogue of Aleppo. According to The Times of Israel, the last of Aleppo’s Jewish families escaped the city last November, aided by Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who lives in New York, the Jewish Agency, Israel’s Ministry of Absorption and good hearted Syrians.
“It’s really important to understand that,” said Kahana. “It was the Muslim people who helped save the Jews.”