The Genocide Next Door

Cross posted from my ToI blog

The flag of the Islamic State is flying in the hills over the Kurdish city of Kobani. The flag of the Islamic State is flying on the roofs of buildings in Kobani. The Turkish military sits on the border watching without moving to intervene, the air strikes supposedly being carried out by the US Air Force and a host of coalition partners are shamefully inadequate and haven’t even prevented the Islamic State from carrying out offensive actions, let alone causing them to retreat.

We in Israel are watching comfortably.

The word “genocide” is one that is thrown around often, perhaps so often that the use of the word has desensitised everyone to it. We have sat here in Israel and watched the death toll in Syria and Iraq rise and rise. We have watched while al Qaeda forces have wrested control of Israel’s border from forces loyal to Assad. We have watched while the UN were routed from their positions between Israel and Syria.

The reasons for not getting involved in the Syrian and now Iraqi wars are all excellent ones. They make perfect sense. It’s not our fight and with the bizarre concoction of Jihadist Sunni and Jihadi Shi’ite forces taking each other on who knows which side to choose anyway. The civilians who are caught in the middle are hardly Israel’s problem and certainly not Israel’s fault. Not yet anyway. Maybe when the generation who are right now kids grow up and hear Israelis ask the world (again) how it’s possible that they did nothing during the Holocaust they’ll have a few questions of their own.

While hundreds of thousands of people are being killed by all manner of weapons, from poison gas to barrel bombs. Israel could have imposed a no fly zone on Syria, Israel could have bombed Syria at will and still can. We certainly have precedent for doing it. In fact the last time Israel attacked Syria our electronic intelligence actually turned off Syrian radar.

We have watched as the Christians, the Yezidis and many others were massacred by one or other of the battling forces in Syria and we shrugged.

“Not our fight”.

But now, after slaughtering those who were easiest to kill the Islamic State has mustered its forces to attack the minority which can defend itself, the Kurds. And they don’t have the capacity to hold out any longer, not in Kobani anyway.

Stuck between the hammer of the Islamic State and the anvil of a Turkey which has been quietly persecuting the Kurds for decades they are stuck in Kobani without the weapons, ammunition or support needed to survive. Their civilians have already fled in droves from their homes. There are at least 160,000 civilians on the Turksih side of the border. They’re not there because they fear a massacre but because they know a massacre is coming.

This is all happening while we sit here in Israel shrugging and saying;

“Not our fight”.

Except for one thing. We have been pretty big on pointing the accusatory finger. We pointed it at the British and the Americans “you knew what was happening, why didn’t you bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz?” We cry. The silence from the world was deafening during the Holocaust and the survivors made damn sure to let the world know it.

“NEVER AGAIN” has been our cry for damn near 70 years and now it’s happening again. Right. Next. Door. We are a regional superpower. We must intervene.

Did we mean never again or didn’t we?