Israel and Syria

Any foray on our part into the Syrian bedlam would constitute nothing less than Israeli madness.

DRUSE PROTEST in Peki’in in the Upper Galilee (photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
DRUSE PROTEST in Peki’in in the Upper Galilee
(photo credit: BEN HARTMAN)
Israel had decided deliberately to stay out of the internecine warfare in Syria. This was no indolent policy- by-default, but the product of a very calculated assessment.
The last thing Israel needs is embroilment in bloody battles between adversaries that are as malicious as each other – all visceral enemies of the Jewish state. It would be folly to aid any of the rival sides in Syria even indirectly.
The potential dangers are staggering. Any involvement in the Syrian bloodletting could draw fire in Israel’s direction – and not just the sporadic errant projectile. It could result in untold losses of life among IDF soldiers’ and in civilian death and destruction, should Hezbollah be inspired to rain some of its rockets on Israeli cities. No corner of Israel would be safe.
There may be scenarios in which such a showdown is inevitable and at such point Israel would be called upon to fight Hezbollah as fiercely as it knows how. But this is not such a no-alternative circumstance.
This must be the unequivocal response to vocal populists who in recent days amplify calls by Israel’s own Druse community – as well as by Golan Druse inhabitants – for Israel to actively come to the rescue of their beleaguered Druse kin in Syria. In this context we are manipulatively reminded of Israel’s blood alliance with the Druse. 
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There is no disputing the fact that Israel’s Druse are indeed loyal and committed and that they have bravely put their lives on the line for this country. But this fact shouldn’t translate into a debt that Israel must pay via headlong adventurism. An impetuous Israeli rush to war on behalf of the Druse is also the very last thing that Syria’s Druse need.
It must be borne in mind that, not only are there no saints in Syria, but there even are no lesser-evils. Israel is hated boundlessly by all combatants and imparting the slightest impression that the Druse beyond the Golan’s northeastern border are under Israeli protection would only justify further predations on them as traitors.
The compounded tragedy would be that this is entirely incorrect. The Druse outside Israel are not our friends, despite their familial ties to the Israeli Druse.
They are invariably among our most implacable foes.
It has long been a Druse tradition to support the ruling power, and in Syria this meant allegiance to the Assad regime, despite the pro forma neutrality of Syria’s 700,000 Druse. In reality, Assad could count on rock-hard Druse trustworthiness. Assad’s steadily declining hold on power, however, has put the Druse in increasing jeopardy and some of them are already surrounded by the al-Qaida front Jabhat al-Nusra.
The Golan Druse have remained on the whole passionately pro-Assad, fearing that Israel’s hold on the Golan isn’t resolute.
The Golan Druse, it should be recalled, fled their villages during the Six Day War. They were returned there (after assiduous lobbying by Israel’s Druse community) only on Moshe Dayan’s orders. Nonetheless, they didn’t appreciate Israel’s goodwill and remained vituperatively anti-Israeli on the off-chance that they might again find themselves under Damascus’s thumb and be branded turncoats.
The Golan Druse largely toed the uncompromising anti-Israel line of their brethren across our borders.
Headlining Hezbollah’s current recruitment drive among Syria’s Druse is Samir Kuntar, the 1979 Nahariya child-murderer whom Israel had released in 2008’s swap deal for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Kuntar, a Lebanese Druse, has been repeatedly honored by both Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Damascus despot Bashar Assad.
Do we truly wish to shed Israeli blood fighting for Kuntar’s cause and on his side? Actively abetting the Syrian Druse would be as calamitous as the 1982 decision to align Israel with Lebanon’s Christians, who entangled Israel in their mire for 18 years and cost numerous Israeli lives. These same Christians weren’t averse to betraying Israel and exacerbating its predicament.
Syria is immeasurably more complex than Lebanon, with more participating fanatic forces, to say nothing of Iranian proxies. Any foray on our part into the Syrian bedlam would constitute nothing less than Israeli madness.