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Jewish World Review Dec. 14, 1999 /5 Teves, 5760

Cal Thomas

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The reading of Israel's will --
The parade of nations preparing to divide Israel's estate after its demise continues this week, with the Syrians coming to Washington to claim their rights as heirs.

In a deal already negotiated behind the scenes, representatives of Syrian dictator Hafez Assad will receive the strategic Golan Heights in exchange for agreements that undoubtedly will be broken and aid that will be converted into instruments of war.

For this "peace of the brave,'' as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has called it (and he is fast becoming the Neville Chamberlain of his time), Syria will get billions of American dollars to resettle 18,000 Golan residents and probably billions more in military and civilian aid. If the past is any guide (and it always is in the Middle East), Syria will use the money to buy weapons from outcast states, strengthen its army and continue supporting an estimated 15 terrorist organizations from the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. Diplomatic sources indicate Syria will not be required to end its occupation of Lebanon which, in addition to being part of the "greater Syria'' mystique of Damascus, is also a source of drug money for the Syrian government.

What will Israel get? AWACS surveillance planes, early-warning stations, helicopters and jet fighters and lots of assurances that "peace is at hand.''

This latest charade is being pushed by the Clinton administration so the president can claim a decent legacy, but it's at the expense of the Jews. In the past, Jews have had to die for the sake of land, oil and the religious and political comfort of others. It is particularly unpleasant when Jews are co-conspirators in their own destruction.

No matter what Syrians sign and no matter how much American money they receive, they will still hate Israel and adhere to Assad's vow at the start of the 1967 war: "Our forces are now entirely ready ... to initiate the act of liberation itself and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland .... The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.'' Nothing Syria has done since indicates this goal has changed. In fact, Assad has repeatedly broken agreements with the United States, Turkey and his Arab neighbors.

Bashar Assad, the son and probable heir of the president of Syria, said in an August interview with a Saudi weekly (quoted in the Jerusalem Post): "The proposed peace will be highly restricted. There will be a formal peace agreement, but the possibility of conflict between the two countries will remain, requiring Syria to continue arming itself.'' So Israel is supposed to be content that Syria will now be armed with American weapons instead of Russian weapons? Changing the gas manufacturers at the Nazi death camps would have left no fewer Jews dead.

There are many false assumptions about the Middle East. The Westerners who are unsophisticated in the region's complexities often are seduced by contemporary spin. The Syrians have no right to the Golan Heights, any more than Germany has rights to Eastern Europe, or Syria has a right to Lebanon. In 1920, the League of Nations included the Golan Heights in the original British Mandate for Palestine. The Golan fell under Syrian control in 1944 when the French mandate was terminated. Syria controlled the Golan for 23 years, and Israel, following Syria's unprovoked attack in 1967, has controlled it for 32 years. So why doesn't Israel have a legitimate claim to the territory? To return the Golan to Syria rewards the aggressor.

Writing in today's JWR, Steven Plaut, who teaches at Haifa University in Israel, said America's policy toward Syria should resemble Ronald Reagan's policy toward the Soviet Union. We should do what we can to topple dictatorial and oppressive regimes teetering on the brink of extinction, not throw them a lifeline.

Israel's enemies are happy to give President Clinton his "legacy,'' then wait until he leaves office to impose their "final solution.'' The United States has sold out the Jews before, closing its borders to them during World War II. Rather than doing penance, we are compounding our sin by helping to destroy a nation that, in our guilt, we helped create. Syria this week will play the heir to a largeestate. Israel is the estate.

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