The cruelty of Damascus is undisputed. The Syrian regime subjected its people to tyranny for decades. When the battles erupted, the regime massacred mercilessly its citizens, even within densely populated residential neighborhoods.
But as far as Israel is concerned, experience teaches that the Shiite-Alawite camp is led by pragmatic individuals. While they may be motivated by the urge to attack Israel and shed its blood, this is not the result of some bloodthirstiness or messianic religious fervor, as it is with the various Sunni extremist factions. Yes, Damascus is Jerusalem’s traditional enemy, but it also knew how to keep the border quiet for four decades. Even in the numerous instances when Bashar al-Assad was allegedly attacked by the IDF (some of these instances according to foreign news sources), Assad was reluctant to respond, so as not to open up a front with Israel. With the Middle East experiencing a rising tide of fundamentalism, it is better to face a secular rather than a religious enemy.
We should stop with the illusions: the day “after Assad” won’t bring about a secular liberal ruling alternative. The extremist organizations are the most dominant factions in Syria nowadays. Any void left in Syria will be seized by them, not the moderate rebels. This is what happened in Iraq and Libya. This is what will happen in any other arena in the region.
Israel has a bitter score to settle with Hezbollah, too, but at least it is a disciplined movement whose word counts for something, and which has a single loyalty. It is a group that can be spoken to (through mediators, of course). Its policies include avoiding attacks on enemy civilians, except in extreme circumstances, or when there is a need to reciprocate in kind. Its fighters do not behead anyone, nor do they set their prisoners on fire. When it wants to attack Syria or Hezbollah, Israel has an address to turn to. The same cannot be said about the Sunni extremist organizations. With them, it’s hard to tell who’s pulling the strings from a distance today, and who will be pulling the strings tomorrow. A retaliatory operation against them can sometimes resemble chasing after the ghosts of yesterday. With that in mind, Israel must know the true identity of the horse it is betting on.
In the mid-1980s, the IDF’s Civil Administration in the Gaza Strip promoted Islamic organizations as counterweights to Fatah. What ultimately emerged out of those groups was Hamas, a group that has since devoured Fatah and now constitutes a tangible threat to Israel.
Israel, according to a risky gamble from its politicians, will do everything needed to stay looking like a victim in the eyes of the West, facing the primitive chaos and hate of those devilish Arabs they fight against, using every mean to defend “our world” against the common enemy… or at least in the eyes of America.
Such is the kind of idiocy you can expect from someone who follows the lead of a Casino Mogul like Sheldon Adelson, I guess?
Therefore, the more cruel Arabs are, the more uneducated, the more scary and the more victorious and threatening they appear, the better, for Israel’s interests.
It worked until now, at least.