The horrific stories coming out of Syria one year after the events started to unfold spell civil war just a couple of hours drive from Tel-Aviv. Reporters claim Bashar Al-Assad’s loyalists are massacring rebels, army defectors and even women and children. The regime of Al-Assad had even prevented the Red Cross from entering and providing humanitarian aid to the people of Homs.
No one should be surprised after witnessing what was called “The Arab Spring” in Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia & Yemen. No one should be surprised by the lack of inhibitions by the Al-Assad regime, an Alawite based regime, a minority in its nation, that will stop at nothing to preserve power. That is not unique to the Arab world but is reserved to all tyrants trying to hold on to the slipping power.
A couple of weeks ago Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama met in Washington and both attended the AIPAC conference. The main issue of their meeting and of the conference was a nuclear Iran.
The truth is Syria is actually a bigger concern to Israel. The Al-Assad regime will not be in power for much longer, the stability in this neighboring country is not likely be achieved for a while and the people who would take power are likely to take a more extremist line towards the west and Israel. Contrary to Iran, Syria is sharing a border with Israel and can easily become another Lebanon-Hezbollah like regime, government made.
Battalions of Israel advocators are sent into battle to explain & advocate Israels position, its security treats and its dealings with the Palestinians & why Israel’s army is the must humane in the world. All the while we are still occupying the West Bank & controlling Gaza as behind the fence and safeguard roads for settlers in the West Bank that Palestinians are not allowed to drive on.
But this is a losing battle, as the world in the 21st century is not responsive to policy such as that. There is no way to advocate for pro-occupation in an age of new media, when everyone can collect real-time information by pressing a button. While trying to advocate for settlements & against a nuclear Iran we are missing a big chance.
The citizens of our neighboring Syria are under attack by their own regime. People are dying, starving, freezing and scared. Yes, even the winter is tougher than usual. People are in need of help, now. Israel’s government can do a lot of good and gain an unprecedented amount of international credit by trying to help the people of its neighboring country.
Israel can turn to the Arab league of nations, to global relief agencies and offer any help necessary. It can offer the relief agencies to use Israel as a base of operation, it can open its border and allow refugees to seek shelter in the Golan Heights until calmer times. It can even consider a bold move of dropping food assistance in Syria while protecting its planes with our incredible air force fighters. If we can drop bombs there safely and come back, we can probably drop food supplies as well.
Acts like that are not only acts of a compassionate nation amongst nations, it can be a hand reaching out for peace to the Arab world. It can be an act of strength and showing we are a part of this neighborhood, of the Middle east, we are here to stay and we can also be helpful. It can also be the greatest advocacy act possible. Greater than all the advocacy ministries, diplomats, reps, organizations and advertising funds.
If the Israel will be sincere in its intentions, even if these offers of assistance are rejected, we can honestly say we tried to do the right thing and help. Although these deeds can serve as advocacy tools, they should be done as a part of Jewish moral standards. “Veahavta Le’reacha Kamocha”, “Tikun Olam”, being “Or lagoim” or “lo taamod al dam reeach”(“Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbors), you choose the source you want to refer to. If Israel wants to show how great it is, and it is great, it needs to show it with actions that are in line with the current global value system, but actually are based on thousands of years of Jewish tradition.