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Right for us to intervene in Syrian crisis

It is right for us to intervene in the Syrian crisis, says Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain of Maidenhead Synagogue in the Times.

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A leading rabbi has backed military intervention in Syria, saying that praying for peace “is not enough when God’s children are being gassed”.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, cited the Christian parable of the Good Samaritan as he said that he felt “very strongly it is right to intervene in some way. The religious justification is clear”.

Quoting passages from the Bible, he said: “When you see a helpless victim, don’t cross over the other side of the road. The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to urge caution but wrong to let it mean not taking action. The fact that Iraq has turned out badly should not prevent us acting morally in other arenas where we can.

“There may be debate over what we do — ground troops or missile strikes — but it would be immoral to do nothing. Praying for peace is not enough when God’s children are being gassed.”

His stance is in contrast to most other faith leaders in Britain, including other rabbis, who are divided on military intervention in Syria.

The Archbishop of Canterbury warned MPs not to rush into a decision. The Most Rev Justin Welby, who is expected to speak in the House of Lords today when Parliament is recalled, warned of “unseeable ramifications” to an armed response.

He said: “The things which MPs will have to bear in mind in what is going to be a very, very difficult debate is firstly: are we sure about the facts on the ground?

“Secondly: is it possible to have a carefully calibrated response, including armed force, if you are sure about the facts on the ground, that does not have unforeseeable ramifications across the whole Arab and Muslim world?”

Archbishop Welby, who visited the Middle East in June, said that he had had many conversations with people in the region.

“I think the overwhelming sense is of a really moving and terrible sense of fear about what might come out of, what might be happening in the next few weeks — not predicated on people doing one thing or people doing another, just a sense that this a terribly, terribly dangerous time.”

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the UK Coptic Orthodox Church, warned of the need to be “very careful when intervening in internal politics”.

He added: “Military intervention is not the way to go. It will escalate the violence on either side. The way to go is reconciliation and trying to find some sort of peaceful agreement.”

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