Woe to the conquered!

The vanquished and those whom they ruled were fair game in Roman times. It looks like nothing has changed.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar,

OpEds Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Dr. Mordechai Kedar
Eliran Aharon

The Roman Empire coined the expression "vae victis," - "woe to the conquered" or "woe to the vanquished" - meaning that the victor in a war has the right to establish the terms of surrender and the punishment dealt the vanquished in any way he chooses, while those defeated are entirely at his mercy and cannot expect leniency. It looks as though what is happening in Syria's economic capital, Aleppo, is playing out exactly according to the Roman precedent.

Reports from Aleppo in recent weeks tell of massacres carried out by the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan militias on the remnants of the city's population, those unfortunates who were ruled for the last two years by the now defeated rebel forces. One report claimed that Hezbollah slaughtered over 200 women and children in cold blood after finding them among the ruins of their once beautiful city.


One report claimed that Hezbollah slaughtered over 200 women and children in cold blood after finding them among the ruins of their once beautiful city.
It is quite possible that these reports were fabricated by the rebels or by countries which back them, like the Saudis, but it is also quite possible that the reports are accurate. Militants who battled for extended periods in arduous house to house, room to room and alley to alley combat, might lose all moral constraints and vent their rage on defenseless women and children once victory is at hand.

And the world, as is its wont, is silent. Russia, whose massive air power has destroyed a good part of Aleppo, uses its UN Security Council veto to block any initiative condemning Russia, Assad or Iran for the horrendous treatment of Aleppo's citizens at their hands. The same world that stayed silent as the Jews of Europe were murdered in WWII is doing so again as it witnesses the greatest humanitarian catastrophe the world has seen since the Holocaust.

Sadly, even organizations the likes of UNESCO, The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, which declared Aleppo a World Heritage Site, has been apathetic to the destruction that has rained on the city and its millenia-old urban heritage.

There are Jews in Israel and the Diaspora  who come from Aleppo and all are shocked at the disaster that has befallen their birthplace, a city that boasted a Jewish community for long and bountiful years.

Every Israeli, politician and citizen alike, is enjoined to keep the terrible Aleppo disaster constantly in mind. Because this is exactly what will happen to us in Israel if we ever lose the ability to defend ourselves. No one in the whole wide world will come to our aid just as no one in the whole wide world sent forces to halt the war machine that is grinding the city of Aleppo to dust and butchering its people.

How many demonstrations fill the streets of Europe or the America's to protest the horrors of Aleppo? How many volunteers have rushed to help the poor citizens caught in the deadly fire between the various warring sides in Syria ?

It is imperative that the West's cynicism, the pro-Assad coalition's cruelty and the world's resounding silence be engraved in the memory of all humankind, but especially in Israel's, because there is not the slightest chance that the world would act differently if, G-d forbid, we were faced with a similar war machine - Iran, for example -whose plans for us mirror what that country did in Aleppo. A world that calmly accepts Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, sends it billions of dollars and forges economic agreements with it all the while, is the same world that couldn't care less about the suffering in Aleppo

Much will be said and much will be written about the 2001-2016 rebellion against Assad. Books and scholarly papers will shed light on those six years, but the learned words  and crocodile tears will not bring the hundreds of thousands back to life, will not heal the millions wounded in body and soul, will not return the millions of migrants to their former homes from the four corners of the earth. The nations of the world will go on with their regular business and will remark, each in his own language: "woe to the vanquished."

Translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky, Arutz Sheva op-ed Editor.




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