A Syrian dissident wrote to me and explained why Arab leaders are encouraging their people to rage against America recently. He points out that Syrian dictator Assad (who is not Muslim), has been massacring Muslims and desecrating the holy places for over a year and a half with no outcry from the Muslim world. His note below says it all about Arab leaders who have manipulated the issue of Israel to serve themselves. But he also questions Israeli policy on current events in Syria. To that I will try to respond, the best I can.
"Since I was a little kid, the Arab and Muslim governments have always used Israel as an excuse to deprive their people of freedom and money. The recent event with the stupid movie about the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is no different.
For more than 18 months, Assad has been killing Muslims, bombing mosques, burning Qurans, insulting the prophet Mohammed, and calling himself a God.
So why do Islamic leaders encourage their people to demonstrate against the US and Israel, but not against Assad? It's all a plan to unite the Arab and Muslim people against an outside enemy (Israel or the US) and divert them from the real crimes being committed by their leaders, who continue to loot and kill their own people. Even Hezbollah’s Nasrallah joined the call for demonstrations, to divert attention from Assad's killing.
To be clear, Israel, the US and the West have never committed any crimes that resemble the atrocities of Assad’s regime against Muslims or humanity, so why doesn't the Islamic/Arab world admit that? Again, it's to keep the people preoccupied with Israel and the West, while the leaders themselves enjoy killing and stealing from their own people.
On another note, I keep hearing that Israel wants to keep Assad in power and is asking the US not to support the FSA. I am not sure about the accuracy of these rumors - please let me know if you have any more information.
Happy new year and peace to all."
"My friend, as an Israeli, I am ashamed to admit that Israel has no foreign policy, surely not in regard to our neighboring states. We are not alone in the blame for this. Most of our neighbors’ refusal to live in peace with Israel has reinforced a static level of tension and a lack of any positive interaction. In general, Israelis don't think beyond the common assumption that all Arabs are against us. If that is the case, any given Arab dictator could be better than a bad situation that could possibly get worse. So seems the case in Egypt. Mubarak was not friendly to Israel, but the new administration is even less so.
I am not aware of an official Israeli position regarding the possible change of government in Syria. Basically, the common wisdom is 'let's wait and see what happens,' and Israel should be ready to deal with whatever the future brings.
Assad is no friend to Israel; his warm relationships with Iran, Hizbollah and Jihadi Islamic groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad are more than enough to classify him as a full-fledged enemy of Israel.
On the other hand, the northern border in the Golan has been a quiet one for over 40 years. The fact that the FSA and its representatives are not publicly expressing any positive notes on their vision of peace with Israel is not encouraging to Israelis.
I have expressed my own opinion in the past, that Israel should assist our neighbors in the north to achieve freedom from the oppressive rule of the Assad regime. Helping them would be a kind humanitarian act, but it could also open the door for a new relationship between the people of Syria and the people of Israel.
I could be wrong, but I still doubt that the new Syria could be a worse neighbor to Israel than Assad's. It is time for Israel to invest more in helping Arab society develop leadership that does not need the 'hate Israel' card to survive."
David Ha’ivri is the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He and his wife Mollie live in Kfar Tapuach, Shomron with their eight children. You can follow him on Twitter @haivri