David Cameron has said those who favoured inaction over the brutal chemical weapons attack in Syria should feel "shame", saying the Holocaust should have taught us the "the lesson of not standing by."
At a dinner to mark the Holocaust Education Trust’s 25th anniversary, Cameron said the lessons from the Holocaust was "absolutely applicable right across our society at home and abroad", the Times of Israel reported.
"When we look back at Srebrenica or Rwanda, we wonder now why we didn’t do more at the time. When something truly terrible happens, it’s almost as if we put up a defence mechanism and try and rationalise why we are powerless to act. The same could so easily be said of Syria.”
The Prime Minister has pledged to increase funding for HET by an extra £300,000 a year, to allow more children to take part in the Trust's Lessons from Auschwitz Project, which takes school children to visit the Nazi concentration camp in Poland.
The Prime Minister described his feelings, on his summer holiday, seeing the chilling pictures of the aftermath of the gas attack on a Damascus suburb, detailed in a Jewish Chronicle report.
“I saw children’s bodies stored in ice. Young men and women gasping for air and suffering the most agonising deaths — all inflicted by weapons that have been outlawed for nearly a century. I saw young people suffering agonising deaths," he told the audience at the dinner.
"So there I was facing this reality. The evidence before our eyes. The flagrant breach of an international taboo against the use of chemical weapons. The refugee crisis of our time. And a man-made humanitarian catastrophe where 6.8 million in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance.
“What was my instinct? It wasn’t to say, 'what’s the best way politically to secure an advantage?' It was to say, 'what is the best way for my country to stand up?' Because Britain is not the sort of country that wants to stand by.”
“Let us not pretend that Syria would now be promising to give up its chemical weapons if the world had just stood by and said nothing.”
As well as committing to visit Auschwitz himself in 2014, Cameron also told the JC that he hoped to visit Israel before the next election in 2015, describing it as “a gap in my Prime Ministership”.
He said he particularly wanted to go so that he could take his wife, Samantha to see the Mount of Olives, which he called "a reminder of what the Abrahamic faiths have in common.”