We laten Syrië in de steek

MADRID – In dit jaar van alomtegenwoordige herdenkingen is over de geboorte van Jan Karski honderd jaar geleden grotendeels heengekeken. En toch is de erfenis van Karski belangrijker dan ooit – en nergens meer dan in Syrië. Terwijl het Genève II vredesproces zich voortsleept, en de kadavers en gruweldaden zich ondertussen opstapelen, belichaamt Karski’s toewijding om de situatie van de Poolse joden onder de aandacht van de wereld te brengen, ondanks de inertie van regeringen en het publiek, precies wat Syrië wanhopig nodig heeft.

In 1942 reisde Karski, een in Polen geboren diplomaat, naar het Verenigd Koninkrijk om verslag te doen van wat de Holocaust zou gaan heten. Het jaar daarop ondernam hij een missie naar de Verenigde Staten om president Franklin D. Roosevelt en andere hoogwaardigheidsbekleders te briefen over de gruweldaden waar hij getuige van was geweest. In beide gevallen werd hij ontvangen met scepsis en apathie. Het was pas tegen het einde van de oorlog dat er actie werd ondernomen om de slachting te stoppen.

Alhoewel de Holocaust een categorie van vervolging is die geheel op zichzelf staat, kan men er niet omheen om aan Karski te denken in het licht van hoe Syrië op dit moment door de internationale gemeenschap benaderd wordt. De verwachtingen voor de gesprekken in Genève zijn zo laag dat triviale zaken (zoals het feit dat de onderhandelaars van president Bashar al-Assad en de oppositie in dezelfde kamer zitten, alhoewel niet aan dezelfde tafel) als successen onthaald worden.

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