Trying to be a Good Neighbor in a Tough Neighborhood

It's a sometimes crazy, sometimes funny, sometimes cruel, sometimes heroic neighborhood that I live in – the Middle East – but it's never boring. Our neighbor to the north, who is still officially at war with us since 1948 – Syria – imploded into its component parts (Sunni, Shite, Allawi, Kurd and some Christian Assyrians who have been suffering persecutions including massacres since the 1930s under Muslim rule) and was turned into a cruelty-filled battleground, with one group of Arabs fighting another group of Arabs, with the help of the Persians, with whom all the Arabs have fought with from time to time and belong to one type of Muslims who have fought forever another type of Muslims. All of this strife, fighting and factionalism, unfortunately seems to be the norm of the neighborhood – except Israel, where everyone can live as long as they respect the basic rules of the Jewish state.
Iran is an active supporter of terrorism against the "Great Satan" and the "Little Satan" as well as all the satanic forces in the world – meaning everybody in the non-Muslim world. The agreement with Iran has eased sanctions and filled Iranian coffers with even more money to pursue mayhem and mischief. Iran's terrorist puppet, Hezbollah, has for all intents and purposes taken over Lebanon, as well as helping Iran to prop up the cruel dictator of Syria, the same tyrant who used nerve gas against his own countrymen. The Islamic state, ISIS, may be more overtly crazy and cruel, but Iran and its allies are not far behind. Above and beyond that has been the timid, mostly ineffectual intervention of the U.S. together with the more aggressive and self-enhancing intervention of Russia.
Israel has also interfered in Syria, in its own peculiar manner. Up till now about 4,000 injured Syrians, men women and children have crossed the border into Israel in order to receive medical treatment in Israel's advanced hospitals. Not only people injured in the civil war but also sick people are brought into Israel to be treated for their illnesses.
These people come from a state and an area full of people who have been indoctrinated to hate Jews and to wish for Israel's destruction from childhood on. Now some of them, the lucky ones situated close enough to the border or have been able to make their way to the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, have had an opportunity to meet with the real Israelis, who turn out to be very different than the propaganda monster they had heard about. The Israelis turn out to be not a dreaded enemy, but an admired friend willing to lend a helping hand to those unfortunates in Syria, who live close enough to our border to get to us and receive our aid. Not only do Syrians cross over into Israel, but almost nightly Israeli aid, ranging from food packages to clothing and tents, goes over into Syria, to help civilian victims of the ongoing civil war.
I remember several years ago when I met a Druze fellow from the Golan. He was selling apples from a cart and spoke perfect Hebrew. He said to me that there is no country quite like Israel in the Middle East. "In an Arab country you can be dying away on the sidewalk – but if you don't have the money to pay then the hospital won't even look at you. But in Israel – they treat everyone first and look for payment later, but they'll never leave you in the street."
He told me that he goes every so often to Jordan in order to meet family who come from Syria. Once a cousin of his who lived in a village not far from the border asked him, "Can't you convince the Israelis to conquer our village, so we can be part of Israel?!" He told me that he explained to his cousin that "you don't understand the Israelis. They're different. They don't want to conquer lands – they just want to live in peace".
I wish peace for my neighbors. I wish peace for my country. I wish peace for my region and for the world – but peace won't come by itself, nor by appeasement nor by wishful thinking.