“Rabbi Chanina the deputy [High] Priest said: Pray for the welfare of the government (lit., monarchy), for if not for its fear, a person would swallow his fellow live.“ Pirkei Avos, Chapter 3, Mishna 2
Syria presents a fascinatingly real, morbid ethical question, similar to the questions of Darfur and Rowanda.
At first glance, Syria is no more than a civil war; the reality is that it is turning into a brutal massacre of innocents – by all sides.
People are gunned down in their homes, hearts are ripped out of corpses and eaten, at least one, if not all sides are using poison gas.
It’s easy to say, “Let them kill each other, it keeps them busy and not fighting with us.”
And there’s truth to that statement.
It’s their civil war, and they need to figure out how to divide their country, or live together, and sometimes war is the only way.
It’s also true that if they are busy entangled with destroying each other, it sets them back from being in a position or having the capacity to attack us in the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, more than 120,000 people have been killed. Children have been massacred.
Rabbi Chanina was right, that without a working, healthy government – even one that is a brutal dictatorship, chaos, anarchy and even (literal) cannibalism follows.
As Jews, who have been under the threat and execution of Arab terror and war for so long by these very same neighbors, it’s easy to sit back and say they are getting what they deserve in Syria, Egypt, and wherever else is next.
More importantly, as we learned in the first Lebanon war, getting involved in the Arab’s civil war will drag us into places we don’t want to go, and we’ll end up having to pay a price we’d didn’t need to pay.
On the other hand, when mass murder of innocents (not combatants) is happening at our doorstep, don’t we have some obligation to try to prevent that?
True, Israel has been (quietly) helping many of the Syrian injured. Perhaps, that’s enough, but perhaps it’s not.
I don’t have an answer to this question, but it needs to be asked.