Did the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum try to absolve the Obama administration of inaction in Syria's civil war? Their new study certainly made it appear that way. The report, which has been put on hold at the behest of several Jewish groups, suggested that Obama's botched response to Syrian genocide should be placed in context.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed thousands of his people with chemical weapons and his regime oversees a network of prison camps where thousands of people have been tortured and murdered.
Obama set a red line against the Assad regime in 2013. The U.S. would respond, he said, if he dare use chemical weapons.
Syria, as know, soon crossed the red line. Still, there were no consequences.
How did the Holocaust museum figure Obama was innocent of any political wrongdoing?
The paper argued that “a variety of factors, which were more or less fixed, made it very difficult from the beginning for the US government to take effective action to prevent atrocities in Syria, even compared with other challenging policy contexts.” Using computational modeling and game theory methods, as well as interviews with experts and policymakers, the report asserted that greater support for the anti-Assad rebels and US strikes on the Assad regime after the August 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons attack would not have reduced atrocities in the country, and might conceivably have contributed to them.
Leon Wieseltier, the literary critic and fellow at the Brookings Institution, is incensed at the museum's study.
"The first thing I have to say is: Shame on the Holocaust Museum,” he noted, for “releasing an allegedly scientific study that justifies bystanderism.”
Wieseltier added a few profanities too.
The Center of the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the History wasn't so profane in its response, but it did agree that the museum should not have passed judgment. Ask questions, don't answer them, according to Director Abraham Foxman.
“I assume the leadership understands that it made a misstep,” he said.
In a message on the Holocaust museum's website, they inform the public that they have "decided to remove the study from its website as they evaluate this feedback."