Not Just for the Sake of Syrians, but for Our Sake
Precisely the Arabs in Israel, who are fighting discrimination and oppression, must not stutter when it comes to the injustices perpetrated across the border
Odeh Bisharat Apr 10, 2017 12:16 AM
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What can the Arabs in Israel do for their Syrian brethren? They have no army, no diplomatic clout, no logistical capabilities that could allow them to offer civilian support. The only thing that remains is moral support – words. “You have neither horses nor treasure to give … so let the words rejoice if circumstances be grim,” said the poet Al-Mutanabbi. But the Arab leadership in Israel has failed in the realm of words as well.
The truth is that even if the Arabs in Israel manage to give verbal support to Syria’s citizens, that will not change the balance of power at all between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, or between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s murderers and the fanatics backed by Qatar. In the situation we’re in, the battle over what position should be taken toward Syria is a battle over the moral image of Arab society in Israel, over its attitude toward the terrible massacre going on across the border.
>> Israeli Arab party fails to condemn Assad’s gas attack in Syria, slams U.S. strikes <<
And if in the hard days of the chemical-weapons assault on Khan Sheikhoun almost none of the leaders of Arab society in Israel saw fit to condemn the Syrian regime, that’s cause for concern. Even those who did condemn it, by the way, did so weakly, to the point where it could not be said whether the statements were condemnation or commentary.
Condemnation of Assad produces furious responses from his supporters, as if he were Mother Theresa, censured out of nowhere. But Assad was part of a bloody regime even before the appearance of ISIS and the Nusra Front. On June 26, 1980, when Hafez Assad waited on the steps of the presidential palace to welcome an African guest, two bombs were thrown at him, miraculously missing their target. Revenge was quick to follow. The next day, June 27, at dawn, a group of some 60 soldiers, led by Muin Nassif, deputy of Rifaat Assad, the president’s brother, boarded helicopters and flew to the Tadmor Prison in the heart of the desert. There, the soldiers broke up into smaller groups and opened fire on the prisoners locked in their cells. Five hundred prisoners were murdered in cold blood. That story appears in Patrick Seale’s biography of the senior Assad.