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From the left: Should Israel return the Golan Heights, and return to its roots?

It is quite amazing to me that my colleague’s studied argument against withdrawing from the Golan Heights had failed so miserably to discuss the real issue. He is obsessed (like so many others) with Iran—what else is new?—and in so doing he is pulling the rug from under his own argumentative feet. I agree with one thing, though, giving back the Golan Heights or not, I wouldn’t like to see him giving up his family name.

As for the matter at hand. But first, a confession: I was among the troops who captured the Golan Heights back in June of 1967. (Yes, that’s long ago.) And later in reserve duty, I’d served with my unit many times patrolling the new border. I used to know the plateau like the back of my hand. When we climbed the steep hill above kibbutz Tel Katzir with our armor vehicles and jeeps, our mission was clear and simple: To liberate the kibbutzim below the heights, and the whole of Upper Galilee, from the constant threat of the Syrian bombardment. And that we had fully achieved.

However, we couldn’t foresee that we will become, de facto, a colonial force. Once one settlement was established; once one baby was born; once one grapevine was planted; once a new herd of sheep grazed the heights—it was no longer a liberation but an occupation. We had the option to leave only the army on the Golan Heights, until there was peace. But we chose otherwise. And now the Israeli army is guarding these new settlements. This is the reason, of course, why there is no chance for peace.

It is a sad fact that Syria—more than Israel—is ready for peace. (And not from today.) Alas, rest assure my friend, Israel would not give up the heights any time soon. If ever. When Ehud Barak tried to advance this notion, and was getting close to a peace deal with Syria, some zealots within the army intelligence branch fabricated intelligent information about the Syrian army maneuvers for war. And he was forced to drop the initiative like a dead, stinking animal.

No Arab country is threatening Israel with its army these days. But—as Hezbollah so successfully had taught us in the Second Lebanon War—all you need are missiles capable of reaching the other side of the border. Whether from Lebanon, Syria or the West Bank (above the security fence; or, as some say, the apartheid-like wall) missiles fly in the air, and can hit us anywhere. Just as Hamas keeps doing daily from Gaza.

The only way to prevent war is to achieve peace. And the only way to achieve peace is to compromise. In other words: land for peace. Because in the long run, an island in ocean of Arab countries—such as Israel is—will only survive by living in peace (even if a cold one) side by side with its neighbors. Peace is good—actually necessary—for the Jews. Not war!

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3 Responses

  1. I agree: “If Assad would had done the same as Sadat and visited the Kenesset the Golan would have been back in his hands” by now.

    He’s weak, but getting stronger. And I do stand firm by my statement: Israel’s refusal to give back the Golan is the main stumbling block for peace with Syria. It is sad… but true.

  2. You wrote: And the only way to achieve peace is to compromise. In other words: land for peace

    In my opinion, this land for peace formula is not one size fits all. For starters, historically speaking there are many examples that contradict it, final geographical shapes of quite a few countries are the end result of some kind of conflict in which land is gained or lost. It seems that in the Middle East receiving land that was lost in a war translates to an incentive to start the next war, since no tangible cost is associated with initiating it.

    Now, being 40km from Damascus is a great incentive for peace since the prospect of success from an initiating war is quite slim, as exemplified by 40 years of quite along the Syrian Israeli border.

  3. You wrote: It is a sad fact that Syria—more than Israel—
    is ready for peace.

    It is strange my friend, Israel is the one that returned the Sinai in exchange for piece of paper. If Assad would had done the same as Sadat and visited the Kenesset the Golan would have been back in his hands.

    The fact is the Syria’s current “readiness” for peace is an illusion, Syria is poor, weak, and isolated in the world (designated as a terrorist supporting state) and wants Israel to bail it out without giving an inch in return, for example like throwing the terrorist groups out of Syria or cut connections with Hizbala. Assad likes pre-conditions to negotiations only when it comes to Israel agreeing to return the Golan even without the start of negotiations.

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