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memri
February 1, 2000 No.
70

Pros & Cons of a Treaty with Israel - A Syrian Perspective

"What Syria would lose or gain, morally and materially in the long term, if Syria and the Zionist Entity sign - God forbid - a document joining the sequence of documents ending Zionist-Arab conflicts?" asks Head of the Arab Writers Association in Syria, Dr. 'Ali 'Aqleh 'Ursan.[1]

Syria will Lose its Soul

"Syria, which has a rich and glorious history of national pan-Arab activity, [which] has struggled and still acts in the spirit of the pan-Arab idea in the Arab arena to garner support for prominent Arab causes… and [which] based its ideology on the liberation of the Arab land from colonialism and on working for the sake of Arab unity – [will lose] its credibility in leading and preaching the national pan-Arab struggle.

Syria would face harsh, even fateful consequences both domestically and internationally if it recognized the Zionist Entity on the land of Palestine and its legitimacy as 'a state in the region...' This would end the pan-Arab aspect of the primary Arab cause - the cause of Palestine. In doing so, Syria would erase from its accounts its historic right [to Palestine in the pan-Arab vision], a right for which it has [paid] in blood and casualties over decades and centuries.

When it does so, Syria will stand at a crossroads, not completely naked yet not fully clothed, searching for its path. What will Syria possess of its [old] self, and what arguments will it present to the Syrian people and the Arab world? ...Would it say, again and again, that having been abandoned in its steadfastness, after the Arabs rushed to the enemy's threshold having forsaken the path, that it could not have remained alone forever?

...If Syria - God forbid - accepts what was written in the Shepherdstown document, what legitimacy would remain to what it had said at the Camp David, Wadi Arabeh, and Oslo accords? Would it help Syria if it claimed that it was the last one to sign? What path would it take in the pan-Arab cause? What principles would guide it? Would there be a path left at all? ...Will the agreement prevent Syria from supporting an Arab or Muslim country if a conflict erupted with the Zionist Entity that necessitated Arab cooperation within the framework of the Arab League and its covenant?

...Will there be any remnant left of the Arab League itself, after the [realization] of the Middle East plans of Shimon Peres who calls for the destruction of what he named 'the League of Hatred?' Will it be replaced by a 'Middle East League' co-founded by the Zionist Entity, [and used by Israel] to cast its hegemony on [the Middle East]?"

The Golan will return to Syria, But…

"...The [importance of the] return of the Golan to the Homeland should not be underestimated. No joy in our lives could ever equal our joy in the return of the Golan... This region is dear to our hearts and is meaningful in the history of the Arabs and the Muslims... This is an area of strategic as well as geographic importance. The Golan is one of the most fertile areas in Syria and a crucial water resource.

The Golan, as is well known... was occupied as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict... President Assad always said: 'Quneitra's importance is not superior to that of Haifa, Jaffa, or the Galilee!' Will the return of the Golan not serve to affirm the legitimacy of the Zionist Entity as a state in Palestine at the expense of [Palestine’s] inhabitants, its history, its geographic unity with Syria [Al-Sham], and its Arab identity since civilization made its first steps on this land in the Natuf plain near Jericho [sic], in the tenth millenium BC [sic]?

...The return of the Golan is a most noble mission and we must carry it out with minimal losses. It could be argued that in our current situation we do not lack in weakness, feebleness, and corruption and, therefore, it would be better for us to get the Golan back [even in a peace agreement] than lose it altogether; also, [we may get] several billion dollars and [may] expect to have our debts erased, which is a thousand times better than having day-dreams and illusions that are soon to be shattered. Tightening our belts would not help because we do not have any waists left to put our belts on!

But I say that [even if we do not sign an agreement with Israel] there is no one in the international, Arab, or local spheres that can change the fact that the Golan is an occupied Syrian land that should never belong to anyone but its legitimate owners...

Were the Golan to be returned today, it would only have been because pure [Syrian] blood was [spilt to redeem it]... only because there is a Syrian force capable of inflicting significant damage on the enemy... [and] only because there is a strong leadership in Syria that acts with confidence and knows the meaning of both pan-Arab and international rights...

Who can possibly claim that the settlers will ever have a right to live on land that belongs to others, as long as those others have a voice, fangs, and claws?! Who can possibly guarantee that if we do not have sufficient strength to defend ourselves, our land, our sovereignty, and the independence of our decision, that the Golan as well as other territories [will be occupied] by the Zionist Entity with the aid of the US, if it can [do so] in the framework of the colonialist plan of continuous settlement?

Can the demilitarized Arab Nation continue to be at the mercy of its enemy's force until all that is left for it is to enjoy the 'absolute freedom' of choosing the means of its acquiescence to the enemy’s logic?!

The Golan is [a matter of] honor on any scale and its return must not depend on anybody’s good will. This is the lesson we must learn from previous agreements achieved so far with the enemy... its return should not come at the costly price of the loss of a pan-Arab feeling of freedom...

Syria Will Not Receive Military or Economic Aid

Do we delude ourselves that the US will equip us with modern weapons and machinery...? This will not happen, and even if it does, it will be within limits defined by the Zionists. It will never reach the reasonable levels for a state [like Syria] that has a plan and ambitions for liberation and pan-Arab unity.

The Golan is a fortress that must be recovered by any means possible, including the use of force, even if this can only occur in the future. We have no alternative to maintaining a [military] force, whether it is to regain the Golan or defend it, to struggle against the Zionist Enemy, its ambitions and continuous expansionist plans, or to struggle against others who have greedy ambitions against the nation. Those who would give us [international] aid [following an agreement with Israel] will not allow us to build, with their money and under their supervision, a force that will defend, or liberate, or be used to realize the great pan-Arab vision. They are the enemies who strengthen their foremost plan: Israel... They are the enemies and we should never forget that.

International Aid is Death, not Life

True, we will get 'several billion' dollars in aid from Europe, Japan, and the Arab Gulf countries. But the US will give us nothing because it only gives to the Zionist Entity. There is no love lost between the Congress and Syria... The Congress is Zionist and it asks for the permission of Israel and AIPAC on many Middle East issues... Our 'reward' from the American Administration may be the removal of Syria from the list of states sponsoring terror - while the US itself supports the most brutal state-sponsored terror in the world, that of the Zionist Entity.

The aid may temporarily ease some of our economic hardships but it will place shackles on our necks and hands... Who dares to claim that we will get gifts for free, while these gifts are subject to the Zionist influence? Who dares to claim that the aid will not corrupt us even more and throw us into a turmoil of corpulence, decomposition, apathy, worthless dreams, and corrupting attitudes?

...We must not forget that all the aid in the world cannot build our house unless we do it ourselves. The prosperity that was promised to the Arab countries [that signed agreements with Israel] before us turned out to be 'prosperity' for some and death for all... An Arab proverb says: 'The cloth of shame does not warm and if it does, it does so only briefly.' Indeed, all aid has a price, conditions, and an end as well. If we become smug... the result will benefit our enemy in the long run. This enemy will remain an enemy as long as it occupies our land and holds a part of our homeland: Arab Palestine whose capital is Jerusalem..."


[1] Al-Usbu’ Al-Adabi (Syria), January 22, 2000