Enough of a Syrian what if…

19 Sep

by Ilan Bloch


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the most inane comments I have heard made in relation to the Syrian conflict goes somewhat along the lines of: thank God we didn’t trade the Golan Heights for peace with Syria because then we would now have ISIS or al-Qaida on the banks of the Kinneret. Even seasoned commentators like Ari Shavit and Shmuel Rosner have made such claims.

But history obviously doesn’t work like that. Yes, if we had traded the Golan Heights for peace with Syria, under Rabin, Netanyahu, Barak or Sharon, and every single thing which has actually happened since 1992-5, 1996-1999, 1999-2001, or 2001-2006, would have still actually taken place, then yes, ISIS or al-Qaida would be on the banks of the Kinneret. But to suggest that a comprehensive peace deal with Syria would have triggered the exact same set of events which no comprehensive peace deal with Syria triggered is folly. Who knows what might have happened if we had agreed to a full withdrawal from the Heights?

This post is not written to suggest that Israel should have agreed to such a peace deal but simply to stress that to disparage those who supported, or were even willing to entertain, such an idea as naïve based on what has happened since not agreeing to such a deal is illogical.

Of course, nobody today proposes that Israel should trade the Golan Heights for peace with ISIS, Jabat al-Nusra or Assad. But, students/tourists should certainly be made aware of the fact that Israel’s unilateral application of Israeli law to the area in 1981 was a move still not recognized by the international community. Moreover, they should understand that if and when Syria stabilizes in the future, the issue may well once again become relevant.

Ilan Bloch is a licensed tour guide and the director of Teaching Israel.

One Response to “Enough of a Syrian what if…”

  1. redjeans September 19, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

    I fail to see what your point is then. Yes, the proponents of giving the Golan back, even against peace, were dangerous if not stupid dreamers. Yes, events since have proven how catastrophic it would have been for Israel. And yes they deserve to be ridiculed for their childish idealism which would have caused many more Israeli deaths. The international community doesn’t recognize the Golan annexation? So what? It objects to anything Israel does, right or wrong, so why even still pay attention to them? It is Israeli lives that are on the line, not the international community’s. Like Jerusalem (also formally annexed), the Golan has now been part of Israel longer than it had been part of Syria after the Sykes-Picot agreement. It’s time to let go of this issue. The Syrians lost the Golan to Israel fair and square when they attacked, period. As the victim of repeated illegal Syrian aggressions, it has every right to keep the territories it captured from said aggressor and annexed them to Israel. It’s a done deal.

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