Thursday, February 20, 2014

Amazing blog post from a Syrian refugee in Istanbul

Yesterday, Israel's prime minister visited the field hospital where Syrian patients are being treated. Here's what he said:

The Syrian opposition condemned Netanyahu!

Khalid Saleh, head of the Media Office, said that “the visit paid by Prime Minister of the Israeli occupation to one of the hospitals where injured Syrians are being hospitalized is nothing more than a publicity gimmick and a deliberate move to hint that there is a certain relationship between the Syrian revolution and the Zionist entity. Israel’s Prime Minister aims at whitewashing his tarnished image in the minds of the Arab and Islamic peoples.” Saleh denounces “Israel’s investment in the plight of the Syrian people and using them as tools to spruce up his besmirched image. Saleh stresses that “the Israeli entity stood against the Syrian uprising from the start when they repeatedly warned of the danger of the weapons falling in the hands of what they described as terrorists. These “terrorists” - wounded civilians who were forcedly taken to Israeli hospitals and are being employed today for marketing their political agenda.” Saleh points out that “forcing some of the wounded civilians to receive treatment in the hospitals of the Israeli occupation as a result of the crippling siege imposed by the Assad regime lays bare Assad’s claims about resisting the Israeli occupation.”
This bizarre response did not go unnoticed by real Syrian refugees.

Aboud Dandachi, a Syrian from Homs, has a blog describing his experiences. Here's what he has to say about this episode:

This one press release by the SNC may very well prove to be one of the most self-damaging statements ever released by a political organization. Not only did the SNC fall into a trap by reacting hastily to goading from its opponents, but by denouncing an act of charity that has saved so many Syrian lives, even from a country that has historically been an adversary to Syria, the SNC has very much called into question the Syrian political opposition’s ability to engage in any post-conflict reconciliation with those communities that stood with the regime during the war. If you can’t even bring yourself to say thank you to medical aid from Israel, how on earth are you ever going to bring yourself to meet the greater challenge of living and let live with those Syrians who fought for the regime over the years. To say nothing of the vindication of those parties very much against any sort of help to the Syrian opposition, whom those parties see as potential adversaries in the future.
Alas, the SNC’s position is by no means an isolated one among the Syrian opposition. Indeed, the coalition probably felt compelled to make a denunciation along these lines to maintain its credibility among the rank and file activists. This one statement is going to have some very far reaching repercussions, especially with respect to any further aid the opposition can expect to receive. Who in their right mind is going to provide MANPADs and advanced anti-tank missiles to an opposition that can’t even reconcile itself to medical aid from a perceived adversary. Frankly, this regrettable episode has demonstrated that the Syrian political opposition still has alot of growing up to do.

The idea that any Syrian should feel apologetic for seeking medical aid from an Israeli hospital is yet one more morally bankrupt notion in a conflict that has already laid bare the moral shortcomings of many formerly esteemed parties and movements. ...This is a regime that has targeted Red Crescent volunteers and murdered a British surgeon for giving the exact same aid the Israelis are providing wounded Syrians. Dr Abbas Khan was rightly hailed as a hero, and Israel’s contribution to treating hundreds of needy Syrians deserves no less praise and appreciation. The pro-regimists have no moral standing or high ground on this issue whatsoever. Far from condemning Benjamin Netanyahu for visiting wounded Syrians, the Assad supporters’ time would be better spent asking where their beloved leader has been hiding out these past months. It is shameful that Angelina Jolie has made more visits to Syrian camps and refugee hospitals than Assad and Asma have combined.
Maybe Barack Obama and the naysayers were right after all, maybe they knew us better than we knew ourselves. There are some Israelis and in the West who want nothing whatsoever to do with Syria and its problems, and statements like the SNC’s have validated their worse suspicions, that any Syrian opposition group the West helps are only going to be adversaries after the war. It is an unfortunate fact, that Israeli medical teams have done more for Syrians in the south of the country than all the opposition groups put together, to say nothing of the murderous regime that caused them to seek help in the first place.
Of course, nothing happens in the Middle East in a vacuum, and alot of other issues intrude to make any conflict that much more complicated. Some Syrians, and indeed Arabs, are of the opinion that one cannot reconcile even to the slightest degree with Israel and hope to remain loyal to our Palestinian brethren and their aspirations. Frankly, it would not be unfair to say that this sort of hardline stance is most popular among those who have in reality done crap-all in a practical sense for our Palestinian brethren. By all means, go and jump on the BDS bandwagon if it assuages your guilt, and I’m sure the fact that the BDSers have a very flexible and self-serving idea of who is worthy of a boycott makes it that much easier. 
...When the war in Syria is over, one of the things that I as a (hopefully) former refugee would want to see addressed, is the disgraceful treatment of our Palestinian brothers and sisters in the Arab world. If it is solidarity with Palestinians that certain Arabs seek, then nothing can improve the Palestinians’ situation more quickly than by granting them the right to work, study, travel and private property ownership in the Arab countries they currently reside in. Because frankly, I doubt there is a single Palestinian in the Levant or North Africa who wouldn’t swap places with an Arab-Israeli in a heart beat.
....Personally, Israel’s kindness to Syrian refugees has demonstrated to me that Syrians and Israelis need not be adversaries in the future, that there is space and possibility for an accommodation on even the most seemingly intractable of issues. There is goodwill and humanity on the Israeli side, despite everything I have been taught to believe during my life.
I hope that in the future, those of the Syrian opposition who currently regard anything Israel does with hostility and suspicion, ask themselves what is to be gained by pandering to morally bankrupt pro-Assadists, whose beloved leader’s family could not, in forty years, regain the Golan Heights either through war or through negotiations. The whole point of an opposition is to give the country a different way of thinking. Knowing who our true friends are would be a good place to start.

(h/t Sarah)