As we convene here today to find a solution for the millions of Syrians refugees, Assad’s regime continues to compete with ISIS in devising the most brutal ways to massacre innocent people.
Israel’s Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador David Roet, delivered remarks on ways to address the refugee crisis at the UN General Assembly:
Mr. President, Excellencies,
At the outset I would like to express our sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to the French Republic and to the French people in the wake of the horrific attacks on Paris, the city of lights, this past weekend. We are horrified as well by the bombing of a Russian plane in Sinai, the bombing in Beirut and by the tragic events ongoing at this time in Mali.
Terror has attacked Israel as well this week. But this is rarely, if ever mentioned in this hall. I’d like thus to remember here these victims of terror. Yesterday, Palestinian terrorists killed five innocent civilians. Aharon Aviram and Reuven Yesayev were murdered on their way to prayers in their synagogue. Later, Yaakov Don, father of four, Ezra Schwartz, an 18 year old American volunteer and Shadi Arafa, a young 26 years old Muslim Palestinian were shot, to death by a Palestinian terrorist that, like all terrorists did not distinguish between his victims’ nationality nor their religion.
We must condemn all types of terrorism and make clear that terror is terror, no matter where it attacks and who the victims are.
Last year, a 9 year-old Syrian boy arrived at the children’s ward of the Western Galilee Medical Center in northern Israel, with severe injuries. His tale was one that no boy should experience, seeing his brother decapitated before his very eyes. Like this young child, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian children who have witnessed atrocities that have shocked the conscience of the civilized world.
We have all seen the horrific images of death and destruction in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been lost – and still the international community has yet to respond adequately to this ongoing crisis.
Today, we are witnessing the consequences of years of unchallenged oppression in each one of these failed states:
- In Syria, one of the most devastating civil wars in modern history.
- In Libya, the catastrophic collapse of state institutions.
- And in Yemen, sectarian conflict has taken the lives of thousands.
And yet, the global community is still grappling with the question of the origins of these atrocities. In fact, in 2010, even before the "Arab Spring", the respected Non-Governmental Organization Freedom House ranked Syria near the very bottom of their "freedom scale", as a country with no political rights and hardly any civil liberties.
Fellow dictatorships, Libya, and Yemen, joined Syria at the bottom of the list. The world looked on, in silence, as these engines of autocracy and fundamentalism ruled their people with fear, and violated human rights with impunity.
If we remain indifferent to these calamities, we risk sacrificing the principles humanity holds dear. And in no place are these principles more in peril than in Syria.
In Syria, more than a quarter of a million people – men, women and children – have already been killed. Four million have fled their homes for an unknown future and eight million more are internally displaced. As we convene here today to find a solution for the millions of Syrians refugees, Assad’s regime continues to compete with ISIS in devising the most brutal ways to massacre innocent people.
And of course, Assad could not have committed so many atrocities without the help of his friends in Teheran. Not only is Iran the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism, it is fueling a conflict in which hundreds of thousands have already been killed. To those who hope that Iran might be a part of the solution to the problem Daesh poses to all of us, I say sometimes the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy.
When it comes to assisting refugees, humanitarian aid is crucial. We thank the life-saving efforts of the different UN member states, agencies and personnel. Humanitarian aid know no borders, no religion, no race, no gender and no sexual orientation.
IsraAid, an Israeli NGO, has helped thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Eastern Europe, providing them with medical treatment, countless tons of food and training thousands of local humanitarian staff.
Israel has also experienced massive waves of migration and refugees in the past. Having absorbed hundreds of thousands of holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees from Arab countries and having welcoming over a million Jews from the former Soviet Union and tens of thousands from Ethiopia, we know well the needs of refugees and immigrants. Our experience has taught us that only a united community can save the lives of those desperately seeking shelter.
The situation is dire but it is not hopeless. In order to change the lives of the millions fleeing their homes we must act. Human rights violations committed by autocratic regimes must not be left unanswered.
- When children are indoctrinated instead of educated, we can no longer sit on the fence.
- When women are subjugated, and segregated from the rest of society, we can no longer stay passive.
- When corruption fills the vacuum created by failed leadership, we must confront it.
- When violent fundamentalist ideologies masquerade as legitimate religious beliefs, we must oppose them.
The millions fleeing their homes are telling their story in despair. They are tired of repression, of autocracy, of civil war, and they are tired of religious extremism. They simply dream of living a normal life in their homeland.
Let us help to make this dream a reality.
Thank you, Mr. President.