Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The naivety of Israeli television | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Those loyal to the Syrian regime will have snapped up the free gift recently given to them by Israeli television. An Israeli channel has aired a short film featuring individuals described as “activists” engaging in a risky venture by entering “hostile” land to provide assistance to Syrian refugees. The film begins with the following words: “al-Assad slaughters the Syrians. While the world remains silent, there are those who do something…the Israelis”.

There is already enough material for pro-Assad conspiracy theorists to rejoice at the distress of Syrian refugees trapped in their own country, and in insecure locations abroad, doubting their plight and claiming they are affiliated to Zionist, Western plots.

The Israeli film showed activists dressed as Bedouins entering Jordan (although it is not named), heading to areas where the Syrian refugees are located. The “Bedouins” then provide care for the refugees and give them a handful of supplies, before telling them that they are in fact Israelis. Cameras are aimed directly on the refugees’ faces to capture their reactions, which are mostly a mix of amazement and confusion.

We then cut to a female refugee whose husband needs an operation because he has lost his sight, due to the atrocities he has suffered at the hands of the regime’s Shabiha. However, once the woman discovers that those providing the assistance are Israelis, she breaks down in tears, because these Israeli activists are the only option available to her and her blind husband.

The film concludes with the words of one of the Israeli activists, who questions the reality of the hostility between the Syrians, Arabs and the Israelis, and whether Israel, which today offers its assistance to the displaced Syrian people, will continue to face Syrian weapons in the future.

There is no doubt that showing a film like this, depicting the Syrian refugees as bearing many grudges and malice towards the Israeli activists, is a gross injustice considering the situation they find themselves in at the moment, at the height of their tragedy.

This is nothing more than sheer exploitation and opportunism to offer to treat the husband of a Syrian refugee and save his sight…but in Israel.

A film such as this does not contribute anything constructive to the plight of the Syrians. It will not affect the official Israeli stance that has been biased towards the al-Assad regime since day one of the revolution, because it believes that this regime guarantees stability along Israel’s border with Syria. This is a stance that has not relaxed even with recent Israeli statements loosely condemning the indiscriminate violence against the Syrian people.

Of course, the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be settled through made-for-TV scenes of aid and assistance, which this film appears to be, as they do not fool anyone.

It is too early to deduce Israel’s intentions with regards to the future of Syria, but Israeli television’s urgency to invest in the plight of the Syrian refugees reveals two things. Firstly, it reveals an element of naivety in understanding future relations with the “Arab Spring” states and their conflict with Israel, and secondly it indicates a gross lack of human sensitivity.

This is a cheap attempt to highlight the “morality” of Israel’s activists by exploiting the situation of Syria’s refugees, regardless of Israel’s actual stance on the issue. It will not undermine the plight of the Syrians and the nobility of their cause.