Statement by Avi Benlolo, President and CEO
My name is Avi Benlolo, I am the President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
We are gathered here today to call attention to the atrocities committed in Syria and specifically in Aleppo. Over 500,000 people have been killed in this horrendous war.
And even as a truce has been called and refugees are attempting to depart this war torn city, they do so with great uncertainty. Many more are trapped in Aleppo and surrounding villages.
Today, five Holocaust survivors feel compelled to speak out and condemn the atrocities: Howard Chandler, Max Eisen, Gerda Frieberg, Faigie Libman and Vera Shiff.
During the Holocaust, not enough people spoke out. In fact, most people stood by in silence and let the genocide happen. We often wonder why the railway tracks leading into Auschwitz were not bombed. Or why rallies in the west failed to materialize – or groups of people did not come together to simply speak out for humanity.
This is why we are pleading today for an immediate cessation of violence and hostility in Syria. We are also requesting the international community issue indictments and red notices for war crimes and crimes against humanity to those responsible for the loss of innocent lives. This will bring perpetrators to justice and give notice to future war criminals that they are not immune.
We - the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center have a responsibility to speak out against crimes against humanity. Humanity should never be silent against hate and discrimination. Behind me is our Tour for Humanity that travels daily from school to school – educating and advocating for human rights. Our namesake, Simon Wiesenthal believed that Freedom cannot be taken for granted. That we must protect it each and every day.
And this is why we are here today.
With this in mind, and in the spirit of the holidays, I would like to invite our cherished members and survivors of the Holocaust to convey their thoughts to you today about Syria and Aleppo.