Syria falls apart, Israel’s biggest existential enemy gains a foothold across the border, and now those people fall silent?
Majdal Shams, Golan Heights, June 19 – This town abutting the border with Syria once brimmed with agitation for a return to control by Damascus, but over the last several years of civil war to the north and east, and of the strengthening of Iran proxies in that area, has noticed a mysterious decrease in the number of influential Israelis willing to call for restoring Syrian control over the strategic plateau captured in 1967.
In the context of ongoing peace negotiations in the 1990’s between Israel and several neighbors, a number of important figures on Israel’s political left ramped up their vocal support for a deal that might produce a peace treaty with Syria via returning the Golan Heights to the regime of Hafez Assad, father of current President Basher Assad. Third-party talks continued into the current millennium over the possibility of such an arrangement, but Syrian insistence on return of the Golan as a prerequisite for direct negotiations stymied progress. All the while, a small but vocal minority of Israelis continued to demand relinquishing the Golan in the interest of peace and stability.
In the interim, Syria has fragmented, and dozens of Shiite, Sunni, Palestinian, Iranian, Lebanese, and other militias, plus the Syrian Armed Forces and Russian “advisers,” now vie for control of various slices of the once-unified country of 20 million, and the region abutting the Golan has descended into near-chaos. Militias loyal to Iran, which has pledged to destroy Israel, have exerted control over parts of the adjacent territory. For reasons that remain unclear, the Israeli voices that once proclaimed the necessity and justice of restoring Syrian control to the Golan have ceased to trumpet those arguments.
“We’re not entirely sure what happened,” admitted Majdal Shams resident Ayoum Wenora. “We used to get people coming here to demonstrate solidarity with our stated loyalty to Syria – only about ten percent of us have accepted Israeli citizenship since annexation in 1981. There used to be demonstrations in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, touting the benefits of giving this place back to Syria. But suddenly Syria falls apart, Israel’s biggest existential enemy gains a foothold across the border, and now those people fall silent? I don’t get it. It’s almost as if they think what they say and do should be governed by popular opinion and not the principle of the thing.”
Spokespeople for those who used to tout relinquishing the Golan to Syria had just stepped out, wouldn’t you know it. Try again later.
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