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Aryeh Younger Headshot

Re-teaching the Holocaust: A Call for Intervention in Syria

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Two years ago, a friend of mine published an article in The Beacon about the need for our society to change the way it approaches Holocaust education. Many who read the article grossly misinterpreted the authors point, and thought that he intended to belittle the Holocaust and forget its victims. The real intent of the article, however, was to criticize the current approach to Holocaust education, which sometimes fails to recognize the Holocaust's broader, global implications. The Holocaust was a tragedy, not only for the Jewish people, but for all mankind. It represents one of the greatest and most terrible genocides in all of human history, though the world has seen many.

When the world gazes upon the tragedy unfolding in Syria, all of us should look on with pity. Innocent civilians are being killed in the thousands, regardless of who is responsible.

Growing up in the Modern Orthodox Jewish community, I have long been taught to criticize America's handling of the Holocaust. The U.S. was, according to many, fully able to do more than it did to stop Hitler's systematic killing of innocent civilians -- men, women, and children alike. At one point, our country had the ability to destroy the horrible Auschwitz concentration camp. But we failed to act, and countless were slaughtered as a result.

One lesson of the Holocaust should teach us that the world cannot remain silent to possible genocide. As the leader of the Free World, President Obama has a moral obligation to demonstrate this duty. Without necessarily choosing sides in the civil war, he must show both sides that innocent men, women, and children must never become the targets of missiles. Even if that requires the use of force.

In the case of Syria, there is no oil. Our country will have little to gain in foreign policy, because there is no telling who the rebel forces are. The situation is murky, and many believe that Al Qaida has a growing presence in the war against Assad. But beneath that disconcerting reality lays an even more troubling one: the use of chemical gas against civilian populations. The guiding force behind any military operation will be moral, not political.

When our president initially called for red lines, many around the world doubted him. Over 100,000 have so far died in the conflict, and the recent chemical attack proves how brazen the Assad regime has become. In order to deter this brutal dictator, it is now crucially important for our president to remain true to his word.

The indiscriminant killing of civilians in Syria cannot be ignored by the international community any longer. As Americans in our post-Holocaust world, we have the duty to prevent the slaughter of innocents when given the opportunity. We must set a precedent for tyrants around the world. We have learned from the terror of the Holocaust and our now obligated to act.