Laura Ben-David
Sharing Israel with the world through my lens
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Just stop the war

Holocaust comparisons aside, the key to solving the refugee crisis lies in ending atrocities in Syria

There’s non-stop talk about the crisis caused by Syrian refugees and other migrants. Whether or not they should be let into which countries, under what conditions, and how they should be getting to these places… And all sorts of comparisons to the Holocaust.

There. Is. No. Comparison.

There is a terrible situation right now in Syria to be specific, and lots of people want to get the heck out of there for their safety. But truth be told? They want to stay. They want their lives back. They want to extricate their country from under the despotic regime of Assad, and from the battlegrounds of ISIS. But they do not really wish to leave and no one is trying to exterminate them as a people.

There are many ongoing arguments about opening borders, letting in refugees, and who’s doing what and who isn’t. Unscrupulous human smugglers are employing extremely unsafe measures to transport people. Masses of refugees showing up in unprepared countries are causing chaos as governments scramble to deal with the problem. And there are stories that make our skin crawl: writing numbers on people, packing them into trains, bringing them to camps, dead toddlers washing up on shore…. Horrifying. With all the horror, we must stay rational; the numbers are not permanent tattoos. They are not being sent off to death camps. There is no ‘final solution.’

Assad is a madman. And ISIS is our worst nightmare; don’t get me wrong. And ISIS is gaining supporters at a frightening rate. But even in Hitler’s Europe, many Jews were hoping to wait it out in the earlier years. Once they began to be rounded up and marked for death, that changed everything. No one in Syria is marked for death.

Yes, things are bad in Syria. With war and ISIS, I wouldn’t want to be there for a second. But there are 23 million people in Syria. Emptying the country is not the answer. And again, the Syrian people don’t want to leave; they just want their country back. And the world should help them. If the world doesn’t help them, the problem will keep growing until it is on everyone’s back door anyway…

The words of Kinan Masalmeh, a 13 year-old Syrian refugee speaking from Hungary, really resonated with me:

Please help the Syrians. The Syrians need help now, just stop the war. We don’t want to stay in Europe, just stop the war.

I do not know the answer. Taking in masses of refugees is not so simple. There is a terrible crisis, and we cannot abandon these people. But there is so much more we — the world, that is — can and should be doing to alleviate the crisis at the source, and bring Syria back to being a place where Syrians can live with pride and in safety. Saying this crisis is like the Holocaust is irresponsible and simply wrong.

Let’s keep our focus and our humanity. One crisis does not need to be like another to be worthy of our compassion and commitment.

And one more thing. Hundreds of thousands of people — including thousands of children — have been killed in the war in Syria. Suddenly the ‘problem’ reaches other shores and now all these sanctimonious voices are heard? Where was everyone then?

If people really want to help the Syrians, stop shouting ‘Never again’ just when they’re on trains in your country, and start shouting it when they are being mowed down in their own.

About the Author
Laura Ben-David is a photographer, public speaker and Israel advocate. Inspired by her Aliyah experience, Laura began writing and never stopped. She is the author of the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has spoken all over the world about Israel, Aliyah and other topics, often with beautiful photographic presentations. Formerly the head of social media at Nefesh B'Nefesh, Laura is the director of marketing at Shavei Israel as well as a marketing consultant.
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