Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef on Thursday said “a small holocaust” was taking place in Syria.
Yosef, during an inter-religious meeting with Palestinian Muslim clerics hosted by President Reuven Rivlin, said the world must not be silent in the face of the atrocities taking place in the country that has been consumed by civil war since 2011.
“Every day not far from here, as we sit here, men, women and children are murdered in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo,” Yosef said during the meeting.
“Millions of refugees are homeless, hundreds of thousands of others are starved, under siege. They are not our friends, but they are human beings who are suffering a small holocaust.”
Yosef said that Jews in particular, who endured the Holocaust and the murder of 6 million people as “the world looked on and remained silent,” must not do so now.
“As Jews we must not stay silent. The call must be heard from here: A genocide will not be allowed to go by quietly — not in Syria and not anywhere else, and not against any people.”
At the meeting Thursday, which the Washington Institute for Near East Policy helped facilitate, Israeli and Palestinian religious leaders issued a call against religiously inspired violence.
Also attending the conclave at the President’s Residence, hailed as the first of its kind, was Sheikh Mahmoud Habbash, the Palestinian Supreme Sharia Court judge and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Islamic affairs adviser.
“God created life and commanded life. Therefore, we denounce the killing of innocents or any kind of aggression against the other,” said a joint statement released after the meeting.
“We believe the deliberate killing of or attempt to kill innocents is terrorism, whether it is committed by Muslims, Jews or others. In this spirit, we encourage all our people to work for a just peace, mutual respect for human life and for the status quo on the holy sites, and the eradication of religious hatred,” the statement said.
The mayor of Aleppo on Thursday also described the intense bombing campaign by the Syrian and Russian militaries as a “holocaust.” He decried the inaction of the international community to stop the killing in the war-torn city.