Netanyahu’s Visit to Syrian Wounded Slammed by Rebels, Praised by Refugee; ‘There is Goodwill and Humanity on the Israeli Side’
“There is goodwill and humanity on the Israeli side, despite everything I have been taught to believe during my life,” blogged a refugee from the ongoing Syrian civil war named Aboud Dandachi, 37, who arrived in Istanbul, Turkey in September, after 18-months running from Inshaat, in Homs to Tartous, on the coast, before fleeing Syria to avoid the bloodshed.
Dandachi spoke up for Israel to thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited an IDF field hospital on Tuesday in the Golan Heights, along Israel’s northern border, where Israeli medics are treating Syrian refugees.
After visiting with the wounded and IDF surgeons, Netanyahu spoke of the “true face of Israel.” He said it was “important that the world sees the pictures from this place, which divides the good that is in the world from the bad.”
“The good part is that Israel is saving the lives of those who have been wounded in the daily slaughter that is being perpetrated in Syria. This is the true face of Israel. The bad part is that Iran is arming those who are carrying out the slaughter. This is the true face of Iran.”
“All of the children who have been injured, to say nothing of those who have been killed, were injured as a result of Iran’s arming, financing and training the Assad regime in the massacres that it is perpetrating,” Netanyahu said.
He was speaking as an Iranian delegation was meeting with world powers in Vienna to negotiate over the country’s nuclear program. Referring to the talks, Netanyahu, in comments to journalists from the field hospital, said, “Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime which is slaughtering its own people. This is the true face of Iran. The world cannot forget this.”
The Syrian opposition, in an online statement, condemned the Israeli prime minister for “a publicity gimmick” and accused him of trying to give the impression “there is a certain relationship between the Syrian revolution and the Zionist entity.”
Khalid Saleh, head of the Media Office of The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SNC), slammed Assad for his regime’s “crippling siege” while attempting to undercut the dictator’s anti-Israel credentials. He wrote, “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.”
Outraged at Saleh’s comments about Netanyahu, Dandachi took to Twitter and his blog to defend the Jewish state.
Before the war Dandachi worked in Syria as a PMP certified project manager and IT systems architect. Photogenic and fluent in English, he had been featured in BBC reports from the Syrian front. In Istanbul, he published a book online comparing Assad, who studied to be a doctor of ophthalmology, with Doctor Who, the time-travelling science fiction doctor-sleuth. He also began to publish what he was hearing from back home as well as pro-Israel opinions online.
On Twitter, he said, “*Because* of Israel’s humanity I’m convinced any issues we have with them can be resolved in the future.”
He asked, about Netanyahu’s visit, “So because he had his picture taken with wounded Syrians we automatically attribute malicious intentions to Bibi?”
He even quoted Jewish psychologist Sigmund Freud in his defense: “Sometimes a photo op is just a photo op. A cigar is just a cigar.”
And he showed appreciation for the stance Israel has taken on the conflict: “Israel is doing exactly the right thing, staying out of it but treating wounded. And occasionally hitting Assad’s arsenals.”
He also prompted both wild praise and condemnation from Twitter followers for throwing in some Yiddish: “There is a Yiddish saying ‘When you don’t want to do something, any excuse will do’ So do we denounce those who *are* helping?”
Jewish tweeters responded. Sarah Bernamoff, founder of Calgary United with Israel (CUWI) and Canadians for Human Rights in the Middle East (CHRME), told The Algemeiner she spoke to Dandachi via Viber, the Israeli internet telephony start-up, and became active in tweeting from his blog posts to push wider coverage of his pro-Israel views.
“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,” he said.
Dandachi condemned the SNC for denouncing “an act of charity that has saved so many Syrian lives, even from a country that has historically been an adversary to Syria.”
“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.”
He said their approach to Israel should call out their expected approach to reconciliation within Syria, one day, with those Syrians that now fight for Assad: “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.”
“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.”
He also recognized the risk being born by the Israeli medics treating the refugees by acknowledging the violence of Assad’s forces: “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.”
“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.”
He also spoke to the irony of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which alleges human rights abuses in the Jewish state, while the death toll in the civil war across the border in Syria stands at some 150,000: “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.”
He said that those in the Middle East who lambaste Israel for the conflict with the Palestinian Authority, are those very same who have done the least to help Palestinian Muslims, including a broad refusal to ever grant them residency.
He concluded the blog post with a personal viewpoint and an appeal for the future: “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.”
“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 hard line stance is most popular among those who have in reality done crap-all in a practical sense for our Palestinian brethren.”
“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.”
On Friday, on the Elder of Ziyon blog, Dandachi answered questions from readers and gave his stark forecast of how the Syrian war, which he described as “a stalemate,” might finally play out.
“I honestly believe the Alawites themselves will end up killing Assad. He cant win the war militarily, and his own rhetoric prevents him from reaching a political solution. The only way in Syria to remove an incompetent president is to kill him.”