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Friday, September 02, 2011

Assad's Israeli shills

Yes, you can hit a guy when he's down, especially when he's as nasty as Bashar al-Assad. David Keyes looks at some of the Israelis from whom we ought to (but won't) get mea culpas for shilling for Assad over the years.
Alon Liel, for example, is a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a professor at Tel Aviv University. When asked in 2008 if he trusted that the Syrian dictator sincerely desired peace, Liel responded, “Yes, I trust him and believe him. He wants peace and prosperity for his people."

Assad sure has a funny way of showing it -- imposing more than a decade of brutal tyranny, imprisoning bloggers, mowing down protesters in the streets, arresting opposition and rigging elections. When I asked Liel in 2009 if the brutality of Assad’s regime ever weighed on his work toward peace with Syria, he said simply “No.”

Liel was channeling President Jimmy Carter, who said of Assad’s father, "It's true, [Hafez] Assad is a dictator. But you can rely on him. He never lied to me. If you sign an agreement, he'll keep it ... [Hafez Assad] never lies.”

Elie Podeh, professor of Middle East studies at Hebrew University, wrote earlier this year in Haaretz that “Syria's natural place in the regional alignment is with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and there's nothing to prevent it from returning to that place if given the right incentives. But what is Israel doing? Very little. It hasn't responded to Assad's proposals with the appropriate seriousness.”

Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz’s Middle East analyst who holds a doctorate in history, lambasted Israel’s foreign minister for “babbl[ing] on about the collapse of the Assad family's rule,” and chastised Israel for “shrugging its shoulders at a chance to reach peace with Syria.”

Shortly before the Syrian people bravely rose up and confronted their oppressor, esteemed Yedioth Ahronoth journalist and former bureau chief to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Eitan Haber, wrote an article titled “Peace now, with Syria." “So why now?” he asked in the piece. “The answer is that now of all times Syrian President Bashar Assad is proposing peace talks.” Is it any wonder, though, that the dictator was proposing talks? What better way to deflect attention from economic ruin, political isolation, endemic torture, restive opposition and bottomless corruption?

Larry Derfner wrote in the Jerusalem Post of the necessity to make peace with Assad “if he’s willing.” “In essence, it means Syria joining the moderate, U.S.-aligned Arab camp with Egypt and Jordan. The U.S., of course, would have to throw in a lot of money for Syria ... If Bashar Assad is willing to take his country out of the ‘axis of evil’ with Iran, Hezbullah and Hamas but Israel turns him down, then we leave him no diplomatic option for retrieving Syria's land, and one way or another we will be endangering our own security ... [I]f we're serious about fighting a long-term ‘war on terror,’ about cracking away at the Middle East's radical Arab/Islamic axis, how can we pass up the chance to extract Syria from it -- to change Syria from being the axis's linchpin to being the wedge that divides it?”

The naivete of Israel’s diplomatic and journalism elite is shocking. Should a man who does not hesitate to murder thousands of his own citizens be trusted to treat his historic enemy with equanimity? Is a leader who does not trust his own people to vote freely worthy of the West’s trust? The answer, of course, is no. And that was the answer long before Assad's regime started openly butchering protesters in the street.
Read the whole thing.

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At 11:14 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

It reminds me of a Chassidic tale about a rabbi who got off the wagon of a peddler after he noticed the man failed to cross himself in front of the church.

As he explained to his students later, a man who does not fear G-d is a danger to every one. That should be Israel's attitude towards Assad.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

NormanF - Dennis Prager says something similar to that all the time.


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