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Does the GOP Not Want to Punish Assad?

Growing Republican opposition to President Obama's plans to punish Syria for gassing children is disappointing to say the least. Is there any greater justification for punishing a country's military than the fact that they engaged in mass murder of kids?

Yes, I know the objections. It might not be productive in stopping Assad's regime. The objectives need to be clearly defined. Congressional approval must be sought. America doesn't want foreign entanglements. Afghanistan is still a mess, and we're near broke.

But towering above all these considerations is the bodies of hundreds of dead kids. If you don't like the President's suggestions, then come up with something better that will signal to Syria and all those who follow her example, especially Iran, that using nerve agents against innocent people will never be tolerated.

In the Jewish community we often speak of how during the holocaust not many people gave a damn as Jews were gassed at a rate of 15,000 per day. So how can we afford not to give a damn when Arab children are gassed? Where is the outrage?

I'm not for putting boots on the ground in Syria. I'm just as weary as other Americans at Iraq and Afghanistan -- and especially the ingratitude shown by so many Muslim countries that we liberated -- to see American men and women die again. I also know that America right now can't afford much.

But we sure as heck can afford a few dozen cruise missiles. As The Wall Street Journal suggested in an editorial, we can use those missiles not just for President Obama's suggested 'shot across the bow,' which suggests that we won't hit any substantive targets, but can instead strike the six airfields being most used by Syria's Air Force and effectively ground their war planes from doing further harm.

One thing we cannot do is play politics where people's lives are concerned. This is not a time to be doing the all-American blood sport of Republican versus Democrat. I don't give a damn why President Obama wants to strike Syria, whether it's to salvage his credibility on his self-declared 'red lines,' and to show Iran that he's serious' or whether it's to ensure that his legacy is not one of allowing kids to die. His intention is immaterial. All that matters is that we stop the butcher in Damascus from killing more innocent Arabs. On this President Obama is absolutely right and I'm mystified why any Republican would oppose him.

One of the reasons I'm a Republican is that I often find my liberal friends -- and yes, as you guessed it, some of my best friends are liberal (in my case it's really true) -- excuse evil. They tell me the Palestinians shouldn't be blowing up Israeli buses. But you need to see it from their perspective. They're humiliated with check points and road blocks. To which I always respond, there is no excuse for targeting children, your excuses be damned.

Is it any different when the children who are being targeted are Kurdish, or Syrian, or Arab? They are equally God's children. And Republicans have been great at making that point strongly, especially in the case of Saddam Hussein. Yes, we're all Iraq-weary. But I supported the overthrow of Saddam and thought it a great moment in American history because he had murdered tends of thousands of children with mustard gas at Halabjah in 1988. So where are the Republican voices of outrage now, when Assad is doing the same thing?

In America we play politics with roads, and subsidies, and unemployment -- all important issues. But when it comes to 'Never Again,' we have to speak with one voice. 'Never again' means just that. Never, ever, ever again. That the world will never again tolerate the mass slaughter of civilians by animals like Assad. That civilization will never sit passively while brute thugs assail and slaughter the innocent en mass. If you use poison gas you are going to be hit my a Mack truck.

For goodness sake, let's all get on the same page about this. "Do not murder" means just that. The Ten Commandments are not Democratic or Republican or American or Islamic. They are universal, accepted by all nations at all times.

It's the 21st century, people. It's time to finally get serious about stopping mass murder.

Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," is founder of This World: The Jewish Values Network, which promotes universal Jewish values in the culture. He has just published The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering." Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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