March 11, 2013
Every so often the symbolism of an event would be multiplied by great timing. Such was the Dutch government recommendation to label goods from Israeli settlements in the midst of the kidnapped UN soldiers crisis in Syria. The connection? The inclusion of the Golan Heights in the recommendation.
Equating the territory that was taken from Syria in 1967 to the West Bank makes a clear statement: just like the Dutch government would like to see the West Bank under Palestinian control, so it would like to see the Golan back under Syrian sovereignty.
When the recommendation was issued on Thursday, as Golan settlers were working on their soon-to-be-labeled juices, apples and wines, the UN was handling the kidnapping of 21of its UNDOF soldiers by fighters across the border, in a country with no government, no law and no compassion.
There’s no problem of self-determination in the Golan. The non-Jewish population is Druze, and the Druze views on issues of nationality allow for relationship with the state of Israel that is entirely different than the Palestinians’. The Druze serve in the Israeli army - the ultimate symbol of shared fate, and are not opposed to Israeli rather than Syrian control (in light of the past two years - who can blame them?)
Syria has been under decades of Assad family tyranny that crushed human rights, killed 30,000 in the Hama 1982 uprising and tens of thousands in the current one. Externally, the regime attacked Israel 3 times in 25 years, had de-facto occupied Lebanon for 30 years assassinating local leaders at will, and made Syria a poster boy for the ideology that tilts this region towards violence rather than peace, by aligning and supporting Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and many others over the years. Now, there’s not even a Syrian state to speak of or with - still the Dutch government saw it appropriate and just to make the call on the Golan Heights.
When a burglar robs someone’s house, or kills or rapes, justice is very clear. But in the non-mundane reality of international relations the idea of justice is a complex one. Just three weeks ago 7 fighters injured battling Assad’s forces fled to the border to seek care in Israel. Is it just, in light of that, to call on the Druze of the Golan to become Syrians? What values are manifested in the removal of population from a reality of freedom and prosperity to a much worse life?
With many arguments for justice weighing against it, the Dutch government had decided to focus on a single angle of justice: the need to revert back to Syrian sovereignty that lasted 23 years (1944-1967) and ended 46 years ago. It would be unsurprising if an entirely different view of justice emerges in other instances, when Israel is not concerned.