Israel is a miraculous nation in a sea of ignorance and radicalism, which are the result of tyranny in the region. Israel’s attitude of late has been “leave us alone”. Understandable given the circumstances and the history of Israel’s existence but that is a policy of self-isolation bound to cocoon a society already too fearful for its own good. With today’s shifting of the sands, Israel has an opening to use its Queen on a chessboard that may change its fate forever.
Every Israeli and every Jew must understand that the hate emanating from Arabs is a result of two conduits: One are the west-supported dictators like Assad who instill hate to divert attention and two are the Islamists betting on religious beliefs to glide into votes most of the Syrians will never provide. To me, the Pew report in Egypt shows that Egypt today is leaderless, nothing more and nothing less and the results are a manifestation of freedom. The young Revolution is telling you: Peace is struck with the people and not the dictators.
Support the people and they will support you back. We are not all blood-thirsty, arm-waving miscreants.
Israel Matzav, in response to my earlier Blog, said “Netanyahu coming out in favor of the Syrian rebels runs the risk that Assad starts shooting chemical weapons at us. In fact, it might be just what he needs to unify the people of Syria behind him. And that’s without even considering the idea (which may be what Ghadry has in mind) of having Israel risk our troops’ lives to overthrow Assad.” An interesting idea even though the intention was totally the opposite. If there is anything Arabs have learned, after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, is how precious a Jew is to his own people. Riding this ship against the wind is a voyage to nowhere.
This fear of getting attacked or not being accepted or not having the support behind you has to do with policies of an era we are watching disappear. But the mentality of that era remains intact. When I asked Netanyahu to support the Syrian people publicly, the intent was to create a new reality based on the concept of a “shared fate”. Israelis have freedom and Israelis want the Syrian people to have freedom. Israelis struggled against terror and the Syrian people are struggling against terror today. Up to now, our fate has been intertwined in controversy: This is mine, no this is mine. You hate us, no you hate us.
Will Assad fire missiles at Israel can best be answered if we also ask the question: Does Assad wish to live? When was the last time Assad fired any weapons at Israel? Israel destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor, killed Suleiman and Mughniyeh and not one shot fired from the Golan. What Israelis do not realize is how cowardly Assad is.
Today, everyone in the ME is positioning themselves to take advantage of this paradigm shift except the State of Israel. The only nation whose survival rests not on isolation but integration as an independent Jewish State with the rest of the Arabs. If there ever was an opening for that integration, the Syrian people suffering is. Even Erdogan, totally supportive of Assad, is trying to keep the support of the Syrian street by playing both sides. It is not working.
As long as Israel makes peace with dictators, it shall remain isolated, fearful, and on the defensive. Real peace happens between two peoples and the unfolding events today open ajar the door to engage with the people with whom Israel will have real peace with. At the age of 13, I visited Dachau outside Munich. It changed me forever. It will not be hard, once Syrians are free and some wise politician who understands the importance of peace in relation to lifting his economically deprived constituents, to teach them about Dachau. That politician wants trade, open borders, and better standards of living for his people. He can be re-elected only if he is able to combine advantageous foreign policy imperatives with economic imperatives. Personally, I want to open Syria to Israeli trucks moving merchandise to Syria, Iraq and Turkey and vice-verse to keep revenues flowing. Revenues we can build better hospitals and schools with.
To some, this is Utopia. But to a person like myself and many, many others, this is reality. To extricate ourselves from this dark cave the Assad regime kept all our people in, we have no choice but to extend a hand to all of our neighbors. It will be to Israel’s advantage to consider doing the same. During a time when Arabs and Israelis fight over differences, these Revolutions are providing us with an opportunity to highlight what unites us: Freedom and struggle against terror.