Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo: Reuters

Singing a different song

Next time Syria accuses Israel of not wanting peace, we should agree, and say we do not want peace with the present regime in Damascus

We've been singing our songs of peace for so many years that, at a certain point, it's possible we simply stopped thinking. We believed so much in the lyrics of these songs, which we alone wrote, that we became disconnected from the reality of the Middle East, until this reality, with all its cunning and tricks, made cynical use of these songs and our dreams.


We so much believed in the songs that we thought peace was within our grasp, if we would only will it. The enemies of peace, headed by Syria, knew how to exploit our naivety.


Damascus developed a system: every time it found itself in difficulties, its regime's leaders would point an accusatory finger at Israel and declare: Israel is not interested in peace. And we, whose songs of peace had muddled our brains, would begin to stutter. Aha…, the Syrians cry out, they're stuttering.


And how do we stutter? By not understanding this Syrian trick, and raising preconditions for talks: we would call for the disarming of Hizbullah, that Syria agrees to this and that conditions, that something or other happens. Our message is seen as unconvincing and the Syrians win: the blame falls on Israel.


Therefore, it's time to change this policy by 180 degrees. Next time Syria accuses us, as is their custom, of not wanting peace, instead of stuttering we should stand up and say, loudly and clearly, that we have changed our policy.


It's correct. We don't peace with this Syrian regime. We don't want any relations, certainly not peace, with this Alawite minority tyranny. Syria is an important and central neighbor of ours. When there is democracy there, when it understands the meaning of peace and drops its demands for territory when they have no intentions of establishing peace, then we will have peaceful relations with them.


But with this regime, which is responsible for the cruel death of tens of thousands of Syrians in Hama in 1982, the murder of prisoners in Tadmor jail, the murder of dozens of Lebanese leaders and politicians, the fierce anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement over many years, and which is responsible for the murder of Lebanon's prime minister, with people like this, we are not interested in any form of dialogue.


Again and again, commentators here ask whether the time for peace with Syria has come. They are fixated by the time element: when will there be peace with Syria. But what about the substance? Do we actually want peace with this regime? Does the word "peace" cause a Pavlovian response in Israelis? Are we machines? Have we no judgment? No self-confidence? No sense of honor?


As far as the Syrians are concerned, such a change in Israeli policy would cause them severe embarrassment, because if they protested Israel's stance, they would also be drawing attention to the list of their crimes and failures. Indeed, here's the paradox: when we claim we want peace, the Alawite regime in Damascus attacks us; when we simply say we don't want peace with them, they let up.


Another observation: Syria does not have peaceful relations with any Arab state. At best, its relations with its neighbors range from hostility to mutual dislike. Syria's relations veer from hostile to cool with Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and so on.


So why with Israel??? Perhaps we're beginning to understand the size of the absurdity in which we believed.


פרסום ראשון: 08.30.07, 20:00
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