Syrian businessman Ghassan Aboud, Founder of the Syrian opposition Orient TV channel and of the Orient for Human Relief Organization, said that his organization had held discussions with Israeli government officials as well as Israelis working for humanitarian organizations in an effort to provide aid for the people of south Syria. "I have seen more compassion in [my Jewish neighbors in Antwerp] than in many Syrians we used to consider our brothers and who are now bombing us with planes, missiles, and tanks," said Aboud. "Israel is still on the list [of enemies]," but has "dropped to number ten," he said in the interview, which aired on Orient TV on March 18.
Ghassan Aboud: "If the Turks ever come [to liberate] Hama, I will hand out sweet pastries. If the Americans come [to liberate] parts of Syria, I will hand out sweet pastries, because I know that they are not coming to kill and to wade in blood.
"By God, if today, tomorrow, or the next day, the other Syrian cities are liberated [from the regime], you will see me dancing, even if they are liberated by the [jihadis] in the Idlib area, because no one is worse than the regime.
"I believe that the only ones to benefit from the phony wars with Israel were the tyrannical [Arab] military regimes. The peoples were completely devastated by those wars.
"I, Ghassan Aboud, and the Orient [for Human Relief] organization, have held discussions not only with Israelis working for humanitarian organizations, but also with government officials. I did not talk to them to sell out the Golan Heights. Others have done that already. I talked with them in order to provide aid to the people of south Syria.
"I don't have problems with anyone. I have lived in Europe for eight years, and I have Jewish neighbors. Antwerp is full of Jews, and I have projects in America as well. I sit and talk with them, and by God, I have seen more compassion in them than in many Syrians we used to consider our brothers, and are now bombing us with planes, missiles, and tanks. Some time ago, I met notable American Jews in New York. The man was 86 years old. He said to me: 'I used to be a lecturer at Cambridge and Oxford. I can help 20 Syrian high school graduates get into these universities and study there for free, at my expense.' What would you have said to that man? Wouldn't you have kissed his hand? I said to him: 'Thank you for your generosity.' Madam, we are all human beings.
"A reasonable enemy is better than a stupid and crazy friend, better than a friend who completely obliterates us. I am not saying that the [Israelis] are our friends now. Fine. We're enemies. But there is a humanitarian aspect to all this. I know for a fact that when the gate into Israel was opened to Syrian [refugee] families, it was not due to a decision by the Israeli government. There still isn't an Israeli government decision to help the Syrian people. An Israeli officer saw people being slaughtered. Women and girls came to the border carrying children wounded in the bombings. He called his superior and said: 'I'm opening the gate. You can execute me if you want. I can't watch people covered in blood and crying for help.' I know for a fact that the border was first opened by an Israeli soldier, not by decision of the Israeli government. Madam we are still human beings. It's not like an Indian film, where there is absolute good and absolute evil. Look what our friends and compatriots are doing to us.
"Reason must prevail. We need friends. The last thing we need is more enemies."
Interveiwer: "As a follow-up question to this position: Have many Syrians removed Israel from the list of their enemies?"
Ghassan Aboud: "Israel is still on the list, but not so high up. Israel used to be our number one enemy, but when the Syrians saw what's going on... Let us divide the Syrians the way they are divided in real life. The Syrians either support or oppose the coalition of minorities, which is led by Iran and the Syrian regime. Those who oppose that coalition are the vast majority of the Sunnis. For them, the number one enemy right now is Iran and Russia... The Syrian regime is, of course, the number one enemy. Then you have ISIS, the Nusra Front, which is also killing them now, the Kurds of the PKK, who are coming in from the Qandil Mountains, and drive them out of their areas, and there are three or four others before you get to the Israelis, who have dropped to number 10 on the list. The Israelis do not wade in Syrian blood. It didn't kill that many Syrians. Israel has never killed as many Syrians as the regime killed in the past four days. As for the supporters of the regime, they view the Sunnis as the number one enemy, Saudi Arabia in second place, and then come the UAE, the Gulf states, Turkey, the Americans, and so on. For them too, Israel is in the 10th place. So it's not that Israel is no longer an enemy. It is just an enemy of a lesser degree."