Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
It is estimated that there are 70 million dogs in American homes today, in addition to millions of other animals Americans have taken into their hearts like members of their families. These pets are our companions and friends, and though they are not human beings, their significance cannot be underestimated in the lives of those who love them.
As a dog-lover myself, I understand the depth of connection and love that we can experience with a pet, as if souls are touching souls, and hearts are touching hearts, sweetly, purely, singularly, constantly, and joyfully. Therefore, when a beloved pet dies, I understand the sadness and grief that comes with the loss.
Last week a member of my congregation had to "put down" his very sick cancerous dog of 14 years, and he was devastated. He came to Shabbat services and asked me if it was appropriate for him to say the Mourner’s Kaddish publicly for his dog. This is how he described that unique relationship in his life:
“He was not only my friend and companion; my dog was an integral part of my family and, at times, my only family. When I first saw him in his litter, he was the puppy who got the most excited and wanted to come home with me. He was like a child, and I always felt that he looked at me not only as his master and caretaker, but as a parent. He trusted me as a puppy, as a dog in his prime, and in his last months when he suffered most from his cancer. Putting him down was extremely difficult, and I mourn him deeply.”
Please understand what I am about to say, especially if you have a relationship with a pet like my congregant’s relationship with his dog. Pets are not human beings. They are not our “children.” Yes, they are companions and dear to us (as my dog is to me), but there obviously are significant distinctions between human beings and the rest of the animal kingdom.
Judaism places high value on the compassionate treatment of animals. Beginning in Genesis, tradition affirms that animals, like humans, have a “soul” (i.e. nefesh chayah) though they lack a “higher soul” (i.e. n’shamah). In the Talmud there is a category of law called Tzaar Baalei Chayim (“Concerning the suffering of living creatures”) the main focus of which is to prevent the suffering of animals and to treat them kindly and with dignity and respect.
Understanding that many of us feel strongly about our pets and some feel more connected with their pets than they do with people, the Mourner’s Kaddish is meant to be said in memory of human beings, not animals. To say Kaddish out loud the way we would for a deceased parent, spouse, sibling, or child blurs distinctions between us and the rest of creation and is not a Jewish response no matter how liberal we may be.
And so I gently told my congregant that it is inappropriate to say Kaddish publicly for his dog. If he wishes to remember his dog when Kaddish is said, he should do so, but privately.
That being said, people whose pets die have a legitimate need to mourn and grieve their loss. There are many appropriate ways of doing this. Mourners can arrange for burial of their pet in a pet cemetery. Friends and family should reach out with sensitivity and love to mourners. Mourners might contribute charity to shelters that sustain animals until owners can be found, or contribute to organizations that advocate on behalf of the humane treatment of animals.
To my friend, I expressed my sorrow and understanding.
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May 29, 2013 | 10:15 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
A member of my congregation, Peter Marcus, has shared with me film footage taken by his uncle, Murray Rosenberg, a newsreel photographer, in 1911 when he visited Palestine. The entire film is worth watching, but the relevant footage at the Kotel (Western Wall in Jerusalem) begins at about the 19 minute mark (the film is courtesy of the Spielberg archive).
The film shows clearly that men and women prayed side by side at the Kotel a hundred years ago, without controversy.
The Western Wall was never considered an "orthodox synagogue" until the late 1960s when the plaza was cleared and a mechitzah (divider between men and women) was erected.
The most recent behavior of the Hareidim against "Women of the Wall" (WOW) who wish nothing except to pray and read Torah on Rosh Hodesh (the orthodox spit on the women, throw chairs, scream slanderous epithets, and behave like spoiled toddlers) is a source of shame to the Jewish people at this holiest site in Judaism.
May 26, 2013 | 6:29 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
A column appeared in the May 20, 2013 Jerusalem Post by Rabbi Eric Yoffie entitled “Synagogues, Red Lines and Free Speech” that he wrote in response to the recent decisions of two synagogues in New York and outside Toronto to cancel appearances by Pamela Geller, an inflammatory anti-Islam activist, who Rabbi Yoffie characterized as a “a bigot and purveyor of hate.”
He used the incidents to revisit the theme of free speech in synagogue settings, and drew helpful “red lines” for rabbis and synagogue leadership when considering who to invite to speak.
Rabbi Yoffie writes first of the consequences of shutting down legitimate debate:
“A synagogue that shuts down discussion whenever a wealthy donor is offended may appease the donor but will ultimately drive away its own members and lose its standing in the community...”
He says, however, that some speech is inappropriate in synagogues:
“Synagogues must have red lines. A synagogue bima is not an open forum; it is a platform used by a Jewish religious institution to promote Jewish values and strengthen the Jewish people and the Jewish state. There are people who should never be invited to speak there and things that should not be said there.”
And he drew clear “red lines”:
“Invite those with a firm commitment to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; who, when criticisms are offered, will offer them with love and respect; and who are sensitive to Israel’s security needs and oppose terrorism against Israelis and Jews—indeed, who oppose terrorism in all forms and at all times.”
Rabbi Yoffie noted that Peter Beinart has that “firm commitment” to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Truth to tell, Peter is among the most important speakers on Israel and the state of the American Jewish community that I have invited to my congregation in recent years.
Peter is the author of “Crisis of Zionism,” the senior political writer for The Daily Beast, editor of its blog "Open Zion," and Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York.
Yes, his views are controversial. Nevertheless, as a modern orthodox Jew, his writings on Jewish values, the American Jewish community, Zionism, the State of Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comport with surveys that show that most American Jews agree with most of the positions he articulates.
I invited Peter a year ago to debate David Suissa, the President of The Los Angeles Jewish Journal, because despite the wide gap in their positions I wanted my community to hear two intelligent people argue respectfully the great issues facing Israel and the Jewish people, and they did not disappoint. (See here.)
Given that Rabbi Yoffie mentioned Peter prominently this past week, I was curious to know what impact Peter’s writings have had and whether he had been invited to speak before congregations and communities despite the controversy his writings have stimulated.
I called Peter and learned that, indeed, he has spoken on a number of occasions to Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogue communities including my own at Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles (Reform), as well as at Temple Israel of Boston (Reform), the Washington Hebrew Congregation in D.C. (Reform), Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan (Conservative), the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (Orthodox), Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan (Orthodox), Manhattan Jewish Center (Orthodox), and to other Jewish organizations including the 92nd Street Y, the American Jewish Committee, the Union for Reform Judaism’s Board of Trustees, the Manhattan, Boston and San Francisco JCCs, the Jewish Funders Network, and the Israeli Presidents’ Conference.
I know that there are those who remain uneasy about Peter’s views while many others who are unfamiliar with them. Both groups would find interest not only in his book, but in three articles he penned in The Daily Beast.
The first explains why he does not support BDS against Israel proper.
The second explains why he believes Israel is not an apartheid state.
And the third is harshly critical of the American political left for ignoring Hamas’ abuse and brutality against Palestinians living in Gaza.
In short, I encourage my colleagues, congregations and Jewish organizations to invite Peter Beinart to their communities to address the great issues confronting American Jews and Israel. His thinking is often different from what we hear from others. His approach, however, is a welcome alternative especially given that so many American Jews feel alienated from Israeli politics and policies, and uncomfortable with positions taken by much of the organized American Jewish community.
May 16, 2013 | 4:34 pm
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
“O for your kiss! For your love / More enticing than wine, / For your scent and sweet name – For all this they love you.
Take me away to your room, / Like a king to his rooms – / We’ll rejoice there with wine. / No wonder they love you!”
Song of Songs 1:2-4 - Translation by Marsha Falk
So, tradition teaches, was the kiss experienced so sweetly on Mount Sinai between the finite bride Israel and the Infinite Bridegroom beneath a chupah attended by angels.
Only forty-nine days earlier God delivered the people through the birth waters of the sea into the midbar, an awe-inspiring expanse of earth and sky, where death stared them in the face, and where life teemed, and authenticity was possible, where a kol d’mamah dakah (a “soft murmuring sound”) was heard even from within the devastating silence, and where the “Word” was at last spoken.
There in the midbar God and Moses met “face to face” and Eternity uttered the Name.
A kiss more enticing than wine, the “I” of God forged a covenant of light with the people Israel.
The Holy One, having revealed Himself before the people b’li shum l’vush (Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev, K’dushat Levi, Parashat Yitro), in raw naked power as a young warrior when He crashed the waves and drowned the Egyptians, now at Sinai (commemorated this past Tuesday evening on Shavuot), for our sake did God step back as a wise old sage without brandishing a sword and instead uttered words of Torah to teach she-ha-olamot y’hiyeh yachol l’kayeim (ibid.) “that the worlds could exist" without overpowering military might.
The Divine Lover and Groom did all this for our sake, so taught the Berditchever Rebbe, that we might walk through the “gates” to holiness and not get stuck in the “gates” of impurity.
On Shabbat Naso, this week, only three days after the Divine wedding on Shavuot, God is still in a most loving mood and blesses His Bride:
May God bless you and keep you; / May God’s face shine towards you and be gracious to you; / May God lift His face towards you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Among the most famous blessings in world literature, our sages teach that these three lines promise the fulfillment of every human need and want; wealth, justice, and strength; intelligence, skill, wisdom, intuition, and knowledge; health, compassion, forgiveness, integrity, safety, love, and peace.
This priestly blessing (Birkat Kohanim) represents the highest expression of God’s love. So much so, that the priest was not permitted to offer the blessing on God’s behalf if he hated his community or anyone of its members, or if he was hated by them.
Humbly, the Kohen would ascend the bimah and cover his head with a tallit, and spread his fingers to the shape of a shin, palms towards the earth bestowing blessing from above.
He was never to look the congregation in the eye, and the congregation was to look away as well, because it was then that the Shekhinah would enter the community of Israel.
She was too beautiful and magnificent and inspiring to look upon, for to see Her directly with the naked eye was to peer directly into the face of God, and no one can see God’s face and live.
The former Chief Justice of the Sephardic rabbinical court in Jerusalem, Rabbi Hezkiah Shabtai, originally of Salonika and Aleppo (1862-1950), cited Numbers 6:23: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them, ‘Thus shall you bless the children of Israel.’”
“Amour lahem,” he repeated (“say to them!”). He explained, “Amour in French means love... therefore say, ‘Love them when you are about to bless them. You must love them first.’”
It’s all about love, after all – our covenant with God and each other.
The wedding of The Divine Infinite Bridegroom and Yisrael the Bride was a wondrous thing when it occurred at Sinai, and the blessing of the Kohanim continues that Divine love affair even now – even now.
May 14, 2013 | 6:26 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
Bernd Wollschlaeger, born in 1958 in the small German town of Bamberg, is the son of a former Nazi tank commander and member of one of the elite units of the Wehrmacht, the Germany army, for which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross personally by Hitler.
Bernd loved his parents and admired his father, but growing up he needed to know all about what his father refused to discuss with him, what the Nazis did to Europe, Germany and the Jews, and what was his role.
When Palestinian terrorists murdered Israel’s Olympic athletes in 1972, the German press noted that again Jews had been killed in Germany. The fourteen year-old Bernd wanted to know what that meant. However, he could not get a straight answer from his parents. What he learned about the Third Reich at school horrified him. When he asked his father about German crimes his father told him that Bernd’s “teachers were all communists and liars and that a Holocaust never actually existed."
Curious too about Judaism and Jewish faith, Bernd sought out a small orthodox Jewish community in his home town where he met and befriended a Holocaust survivor who began to teach him Judaism. Increasingly rejected by his own family, these mostly elderly Jews became Bernd’s new family.
One day he read about a peace conference being held in a nearby German town for Israeli Jewish and Arab youth organized by Neve Shalom. He decided to attend and from that point on his life would never be the same again. He now wanted to visit Israel.
In 1978 Bernd sailed to the Holy Land. He was reunited with his Israeli and Palestinian friends, fell in love with Vered, one of the young Israeli women, visited his Palestinian friend Chalil, and prayed at the Kotel. There, before the ancient stone wall he felt a spiritual stirring he had never known before. A kindly Orthodox man, watching him in his reverie, approached and encouraged him to seek out and reclaim his n’shamah, his Godly soul.
Bernd returned to Germany, completed his medical degree, converted to Judaism, and made aliyah. These acts severed whatever bond was left with his father and family.
In Israel, Bernd joined the Israeli Defense Forces as a medical officer, served for two years in the West Bank during the first Intifada, married and had a son.
The First Gulf War frightened his American-born wife, and so with a heavy heart he agreed for her sake to move to Florida. They divorced three years later. Bernd remarried and had two more Jewish children. Today he is a practicing family physician and an addiction specialist.
Bernd wrote of his remarkable journey, love of Judaism and Israel, and self-search:
“Initially, I came to seek answers about the Shoah, the crimes committed by Germans against [the Jewish] people, and of course the role my father played during that part of German history. Now I feel that there are other issues I need to explore. Why am I so attracted to this country? Why do I feel at home here? Why does Jewish faith and prayer seem to touch something deep inside me? Now I am searching for who I am. Since we’ve been here in Jerusalem, I’ve felt so close to finding it, but I still don’t know….
Many stories have been told by survivors, but this memoir (publ. by Emor Publishing, 2007) is the first I have read written by a child of a perpetrator.
When his own children asked about his family past, Bernd vowed not to do as his parents had done:
“I decided to break the wall of silence and tell them the truth about me. I needed to express what compelled me to dramatically change my life. I finally had to explore the relationship with my father and how it was overshadowed by the Holocaust. Our unresolved conflict and his denial motivated me to search for answers, and I found them within me and my acquired faith: Against all odds, change is possible...”
Dr. Wollschlaeger spoke to my synagogue community during this year’s Yom Hashoah Commemoration. We came to know of him from our member, Claudia Ehrlich Sobral, a child of survivors and a documentary film maker who produced “Ghosts of the Third Reich” which highlights Bernd and several other descendents of high ranking Nazis confronting the legacy that each carries.
Bernd’s courage to confront the truth and the transformation he underwent in order to create a new life despite his family’s past amazes and inspires. His memoir will move you and I recommend it.
Hag Shavuot Sameach!
May 12, 2013 | 7:44 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
I subscribe to a worthwhile list-serve organized by Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and professor at Columbia University, called “Real Age” (firstname.lastname@example.org) that regularly sends out health tips. This past week I received a piece called “8 Ways Happy People Start Their Mornings” that began with this statement:
“The morning is extremely important. It is the foundation from which the rest of the day is built. How you choose to spend your morning can often be used to accurately predict what kind of day you are going to have.”
I got to thinking. How do I, myself, enter each day, and why do I do what I do?
Based on the inspiration of Dr. Oz’s list, I offer my own, with a disclaimer that I do not do all 10 every day, though I try and am certain that if I fulfilled them all I would be better for it.
1. Calm beginnings – I need calm and quiet beginnings; no conversation (I’m usually the first one up, so no problem there), no music, no television or radio news; just the sound of the birds outside.
2. Gratitude – Ever since my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation four years ago, every morning I awake and am consciously grateful to be alive. Most mornings I say the Hebrew blessing “Modeh ani l’fanecha Melech hai v’kayam she-he-che-zarta bi nish'mati b’chem'la rabba emunatecha” – “I thank You Sovereign Source of life and existence, that You have returned to me my Godly soul with compassion and faith.”
3. A little bit of resurrection – For me, a very strong cup of French roast coffee brings me a little bit of resurrection each morning. That stimulation helps me feel alive physically and mentally and brings me quickly a sense of well-being.
4. Sweetness – When my children were young, seeing them in the morning filled me with sweet tenderness. They no longer live at home, and so now the first living creature I see is my little dog Sasha whose sweetness is the purest and most unconditional I have ever known.
5. Awareness of being “here” – that is, in the quiet and process of waking up I consciously think of the interaction of four levels of my being – body, mind, heart, and soul, and that being here right now is the most true and natural state.
6. Exercise early – This is the toughest on my list because of the working nature of my life. I find that exercise (for me, brisk walking for an hour in my neighborhood) releases the toxins of yesterday’s concerns so I can begin anew with less burden weighing me down. I try and exercise in the morning (usually 3 or 4 days a week) not only because I feel better for it, but also because research has shown (reported by Dr. Oz some time ago) that morning exercise results in continuing to burn calories throughout the day long after the exercise has ended.
7. The quiet needs of others – I require quiet and calm first thing, and in my family, everyone has the same need. By the time they wake up I am already operating on all cylinders, so respectfully, I stay clear of them until they are ready to engage with me. It’s only fair!
8. Joy – I have learned that I experience the fullest joy when I am consciously appreciative of the blessings in my life; good health, loving family, loyal friends, meaningful work, creative and productive endeavors, open-hearted doing for others, and willful association with just and compassionate causes. Joy and happiness have nothing to do with material wealth, though, as Seinfeld once said, “Not that there is anything wrong with it!”
9. Morning routine – Routine relieves me of heavy decision-making first thing in the day. I have pasted above my desk at home several quotes that I strive to live by (for a future blog). One is Thoreau’s prescription for an unburdened life: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Or put another way, some things are just not worth the bother because they really are not important.
10. Expressing love and gratitude to others and doing what I love to do – When I express love and gratitude to those I love and then go about doing the things I love to do early in the day, I find that I am more relaxed, freer of tension and stress, and happier.
I suggest making up your own list and then working to do as much of it as regularly as you can. If I could only do the above 10 every day, I am certain I would be a happier camper!
Happy Mother's Day!!!
May 9, 2013 | 7:42 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
This week’s portion B’midbar (lit. “In the desert”) always precedes the festival of Shavuot that begins on Tuesday evening. Parashat B’midbar is not just a marker that reminds us when Shavuot occurs each year, its juxtaposition joins the season’s themes of wandering, covenant, transcendence, and love.
These themes are amplified in the Haftarah portion from the prophet Hosea. Betrayed by his wife’s promiscuity as another man’s concubine, the prophet perceives in his own tragic personal biography a parallel to the Israelite’s betrayal of God during the period of wandering.
Hosea was a star-filled romantic. He so wanted to forgive his wife her infidelities and welcome her back into his bosom. He prayed not only for personal reconciliation with her but also that God would forgive His own wayward lover, the people of Israel, and reaffirm with them the Covenant they once forged together at Sinai.
The prophet proclaims: V’e-ras-tich li l’o-lam b’tze-dek, u-v’mish’pat, u-v’che-sed, u-v’ra-cha-mim (Hosea 2:21-22) – “I betroth you to me forever; I betroth you to me with steadfast love and compassion; I betroth you to me in faithfulness...”
Love for God, one man’s yearning for his bride, one woman’s passion for her lover, the longing of the soul for the Ein Sof (God), all are joined in B’midbar, Hosea, and Shavuot.
In a wonderful volume called “We – Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love,” the Jungian analyst Dr. Robert A. Johnson explores these themes as they played themselves out in the medieval myth of the hero Tristan and his beloved Iseult the Fair. This is a complicated, moving, beautiful, and tragic tale from 12th century Europe from which “Romeo and Juliet” and other great romantic love tales have sprung.
The story focuses upon the emotional and spiritual journeys of two protagonist lovers, and Dr. Johnson explores what came to be called “Courtly Love:”
“The model of courtly love is the brave knight who worshiped a fair lady as his inspiration, the symbol of all beauty and perfection, the ideal that moved him to be noble, spiritual, refined, and high-minded. In our time we have mixed courtly love into our sexual relationships and marriages, but we still hold the medieval belief that true love has to be the ecstatic adoration of a man or woman who carries, for us, the image of perfection.“
Dr. Johnson explains that when lovers fall “in love” they feel a sense of completion as though a missing part of themselves had been returned to them. They are uplifted as though suddenly raised above the ordinary. They feel spiritualized and transformed into new, better and whole human beings.
The connection of theme in the mythic romantic love tale “Tristan and Isault” and the Revelation at Sinai should now be clear. Dr. Johnson writes:
“Here we are confronted with a paradox that baffles us, yet we should not be surprised to discover that romantic love is connected with spiritual aspiration – even with our religious instinct – for we already know that courtly love, at its very beginning so many centuries ago, was conceived of as a spiritual love, a way of loving that spiritualized the knight and his lady, and raised them above the ordinary and the gross to an experience of another world, an experience of soul and spirit.”
“Tristan and Iseult” is a story describing the yearning of the soul. So too is that great and singular event that Shavuot commemorates. Indeed, the wilderness of Sinai stripped the people of pretense. They were more vulnerable than they had ever known, and in that the expansive uninhabited landscape of quietude they opened their hearts and souls in awe and wonder to God.
It was there that Torah was given and received. It was there that God and the people of Israel, even if but for a moment, were One.
Shabbat shalom and Hag sameach!
May 5, 2013 | 8:00 am
Posted by Rabbi John Rosove
It should be clear that the last thing the Obama Administration wants is to get caught in another Middle Eastern war, with no “good guys” and no viable exit strategy. What else can explain American passivity in the face of 70,000 Syrian dead and 1 million refugees in two years? What else can explain the President’s hedging on his pledge to act if Syria crossed the “red line” of introducing chemical weapons, now that indeed Syria has crossed that “red line?”
So much for the Biblical command, “Thou shalt not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.” (Leviticus 19:16)
Bill Clinton confessed that his greatest regret was not acting to stop the genocide in Rwanda. Will Barack Obama make the same confession about Syria one day?
Yes, Syria is embroiled in a nasty civil war. Yes, the Syrian rebels, increasingly radicalized Islamists, are a mixed bag. Yes, Al Qaida is involved. Who should the US support?
In an interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” (April 30, 2014 – “On the Ground in Syria”) the New York Times correspondent C.J. Chivers, who has covered the wars in Libya and Afghanistan and spent time on the ground with Syrian rebels, understands Obama’s resistance to get involved in Syria.
Chivers says that though the rebels distrust and hate the west, they want the west to get involved because they cannot match the Syrian government’s superior fire power. The west, ironically, is their only hope. They do not want American troops in Syria, but they do want weapons, and, a no-fly zone to protect the people from the air.
“Put yourselves in the shoes of the Syrian people,” Chivers said. Your village has been occupied by the Syrian army and then shelled. Everyone has lost someone. Obama says that the “red line” that will provoke American action against the Syrian government is its introduction of chemical weapons, and the Syrian people think:
“My life isn’t what you care about. It’s the nature of my death. So if I die by high explosives, if I die by a bullet, if I die by disappearance because I’m rolled up at the checkpoint, never seen again, that’s OK. That’s a green line? And a SCUD missile’s OK? An airstrike’s OK? But chemical weapons, that’s not OK. I mean there are more than 70,000 killed in this conflict. And to the Syrians, they say those don’t count? But if someone takes the cork off chemical weapons, that’s different. They feel they’ve been abandoned by the world. “
Chivers is a distinguished journalist and observer of this kind of warfare. He is also a former marine who has seen his share of death. He confesses that he has no good recommendation to offer the President were he asked.
Despite American claims to the contrary, there has been a covert airlift of weapons to the rebel forces, probably orchestrated by the CIA, which creates a long-term problem. These weapons have a long life, and one can never know into whose hands they will end up. Maybe they will be used against the US and Israel.
An American response to chemical weapons is meant to deter other countries in the future from using them, but again, to the Syrian people that “red line” was set pretty far out to the right. The chemical weapons have come so late that the west has already tolerated great cost in human life.
The quandary of the Obama Administration is that people are suffering and there are reasons to arm them and reasons not to arm them.
Chivers notes that the Syrian leaders have played perfectly and with cunning calibration (as opposed to Qaddafi in Libya) the tactics of the war to what they thought the West could tolerate. The Syrian government began the battle with arrests, and with each step of the way introduced more violent actions; first came batons and then bullets; then came the army, mortars, and 107 millimeter rockets; then the artillery and air force, helicopters followed later by jets, and then ballistic missiles and chemical weapons.
It’s been like dropping a frog in water and bringing the water to a boil slowly, pushing the “red” line step-by-step forward until so many people have become desensitized by the violence.
“Thou shalt not stand idly by!”
But, what to do? A no-fly zone? Bomb Syrian government positions? Give more weapons to the rebels?
And then what?