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No, the Syrian Civil War is Not Like Jews fleeing Nazi Persecution

If one genuinely cares about the civilians who are suffering, they would want to stop the war at any cost, rather than fan the flames further.

· 5 min read
The al-Nusra Front pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2013. Image of men waving black flag in Syria.
The al-Nusra Front pledge allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2013.

It is a cynical obfuscation and hypocritical false equivalence to equate the Middle East now with Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution before and during the Second World War. It is a ploy, one carefully constructed to hammer the reasoned arguments against mass-migration from the Middle East and endless military intervention into submission.

The latest in this long rhetorical trope was written by Rula Jebreal, in Foreign Policy. In an article predictably overdosing on appeals to emotion, she starts off by proclaiming that she’s reporting from the Syrian-Lebanese border, “a mere 150 KMs from Aleppo”. (That’s almost like being in Belgrade and reporting about Srebrenica, if you get what I mean). She then continues to hand-wring about how terrible Assad is and ends with this curious statement:

Our generation looks back today and asks how the world could have allowed the horrors of the Nazis. In Syria, we have found the answer, and history will judge us harshly for it.

Well, no. History, will judge a handful of career pundits, falsely equivocating on human tragedies and advocating perpetual war.

She isn’t the only one, though. Similar arguments can be heard from “analysts” like Hend Amry, or Iyad el-Baghdadi. The Economist, once a proud bastion of truth telling, poignantly declares, “when interests triumph over values terrible things can happen“.

As opposed to what, wars that promote values, like Iraq and Libya? How many died in those wars and what state are the countries in now?

When reasoned arguments don’t cut it, people tend to use Argumenta Ad Passiones. This incessant war mongering against Assad has never convinced the Western public, as repeated PEW surveys showing that the majority in both Europe and US are opposed to further military involvement in Middle East. Those who would be the cheerleaders for more Arab adventures and the worthless cause of solving cultural conflicts in toxic regions beset with medieval feuds tend to fall back on predictable emotion-laden appeals.

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