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The Laughing Beast

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Uri Avnery
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IF I were to follow the call of my heart, I would appeal to our government to send the Israeli army into Syria, drive the Assad gang from Damascus, turn the country over to the Syrian opposition or the UN, and go home.

That wouldn't even be very difficult.

Damascus is just a few dozen kilometers from the positions of the Israeli army on the Golan Heights.

The Syrian army is busy fighting against their own people. If they turn around to fight against us, the insurgents would sweep into Damascus and finish the job themselves.

Either way, the monster would be gone.

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

YES IT would, but, alas, it is an altogether crazy idea.

First of all, because the Syrian people, including the insurgents, probably hate us even more than they hate Bashar.

If Israeli soldiers crossed the border, the Syrians would unite behind their army and end the insurrection.

For the entire Arab world, Israel is the devil's disciple. Even the Arab countries which, like Saudi Arabia, assist the Free Syrian Army would have to think twice. Israel's support for any Arab group, progressive and patriotic as it may be, is the kiss of death.

For that reason, even verbal support would be fatal. Some people would like the Israeli government to call upon President Barack Obama and/or the UN to intervene. That would be misguided. It would help Bashar and his cronies to stigmatize the rebels as American agents and Zionist stooges.

So what can Israel do to help the suffering people next door?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Neither military intervention, nor diplomatic efforts, nor even a gesture of solidarity.

INSTEAD, WE should meditate on the reasons for our being in this deplorable situation.

There was a time when people in the Arab world did not like Israel, but believed what Israel said. Even when announcements of the Israeli army were disliked, they were believed. Those days are long gone.

If the Israeli army were to announce that it was entering Syria to rid it of its dictator, and would withdraw immediately after, people would laugh. Israel? Withdraw? Israel entered Lebanon in 1982 to "free an area up to 40 kilometers from the border of Palestinian terrorists", and it took it 18 years to leave -- and that only after losing an intensive guerilla war. Israel occupied the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967 and has shown no intention of ever leaving.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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