|Assad will fall, but when?|
Dan MargalitSomebody needs to take on the daunting task of translating into Arabic the following line written by poet Haim Nahman Bialik: "The sun shone, the acacia bloomed, and the slayer slew."
Bialik wrote those lines in his poem "City of Slaughter" to commemorate the victims of the 1903 Kishinev pogrom. The Arabic translation should be dedicated to the victims in Dara and Homs. There, murder is being committed as though it was nothing. As though our newspapers can just institute permanent headlines of massacres being committed by our northeastern neighbor and just adjust the death tolls every day – dozens each day, rising to three figures on the weekends.
Deputy Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoob Kara (Likud) raised an admirable proposal while speaking to Druze community leaders in the Golan Heights on Saturday: Israel was willing to dispatch doctors to Syria to help treat casualties of the civil war there. Israel is good at that sort of thing, and it doesn't even charge the justifiable humanitarian-political fee it deserves.
Throughout 2010, I witnessed weekly Israeli medical activity, with EU assistance, on behalf of the residents of Gaza. At the Sheba medical center in central Israel, in the physical therapy ward, doctors were treating Fatah terrorists who had been shot in cold blood and had their legs torn off by their Gaza rivals. Some were even hurled off rooftops. Israel excels in medicine, and is quick to volunteer. It is strange that no Arab intellectual, no family member of the dead or wounded, has yet to come out with the following manifesto: "We fight against Israel, but the truth must be told – it is better to be a Palestinian under Israel Defense Forces control in the West Bank than to be a citizen with full rights under the rule of Bashar al-Assad in Syria." Is there no one who will make this comparison?
Israel's attitude toward Assad's regime is "characterized by a deep ambivalence," as Professor Itamar Rabinovich wrote in his latest book, "Haofek Hamitrahek" (“The Disappearing Horizon”). "When the Arab Spring arrived in Syria," he wrote, "the Israelis had a hard time formulating an opinion. The weakening of the Iran ally was seen as clearly positive for Israel, but ... there was no certainty about the implications for Israeli interests in the event that Assad were to fall."
In 1967, Syria caused the Six-Day War with its instability. However, despite its egregious support of Iran and Hezbollah, the 1974 agreement that two generations of Assads upheld with Israel – to maintain calm on the Golan front – is still in place. At least for now.
The IDF is not a central figure in the internal Syrian conflict. Israel can only predict the balance of power there and assess Assad's staying power. Western analysts argue that Assad will inevitably be booted out of the presidential palace. There are those who speculate that he may establish a sub-state in north-western Syria. It stands to reason that his end is certain, but no one knows how near it is. In any case, there are plenty of chapters in the annals of Middle Eastern history describing regimes that slaughtered their people and remained in power for long periods of time.
Especially since Assad is still relying on the support of the axis of evil in the Middle East, and on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has rejected launching a military offensive against Assad's regime. Russia's and Iran's power lies in Hamas and Hezbollah, which allow them to support the Syrian presidency.
But to be a citizen under Assad? That reminds me of what the Roman Emperor Augustus said of Herod, who had killed two of his sons: "It is better to be Herod's pig than his son."