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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Syria and Israel: Continuous Confrontations Through Time

Nadene Goldfoot

Since April 2011 the Baath Party of President Bashar al-Assad has been in a Civil War with his people and over 60,000 have been killed.  This has been part of the Arab Spring.

Yesterday's report coming out of Israel was that Israeli citizens have been ordering gas masks.  Sighting has been going on in the Syrian village of As-Safira, which is home to one of 5 chemical weapons storage facilities.  There has been warnings from experts that Hizbullah could easily acquire Syria's chemicals  since Syria's hold on their country is deteriorating.  The Israeli government is following events with concern, and yesterday had 12 jets fly to almost as far as Damascus to take out a convoy of missiles that might also contain these chemicals.  4,000 gas masks have been distributed compared to the average of 1,400 per week.  In all, 4.7 million gas masks have been distributed.  The population of Israel is nearly 8 million according to Arutz Sheva.  Israel is only 8,000 square miles big and right up on the border of Syria.

Syria has 22,505,000 people who live on 71,500 square miles of which 90% are Sunni or Shi'a Muslims.  It's almost 9 times larger than Israel.  The name of this country was Aram back in the Bible days.  The kings of Aram didn't succeed in creating a homogeneous state.  The land was made up of many peoples from the vicinity who even would wander into Palestine after 135 CE.  The coastal strip had been settled by the Phoenicians.  The history is recorded in the Bible and also found in Part I and Part II of Kings.  There was ongoing friction and fighting between Israel and Judah with Syria until the 8th century BCE when Syria was overrun by the Assyrians, just as Israel was in 722 BCE.

Jews had been living in Antioch, and were important to the Seleucid era but suffered from the hostile Greeks.  A few Jews remained living in Syria in the Talmudic Period and under Theodosius II in 408-50 CE.  They had restricted religious freedom and many synagogues were converted to churches.

Actually, things got better with the Arab conquest of 634-7 CE when Jews were allowed to be Jewish but were forced to pay a poll-tax, something Muslims did with people not of their faith, and they were called dhminnis.  Benjamin of Tudela wrote about the largest Jewish communities in the 12th century which were at Aleppo with 5,000 Jews.  This is where the action is taking place today. After all this civil war fighting, the city is about completely destroyed.   Also, 3,000 Jews lived in Damascus and there were 2,000 in Palmyra.  Jewish settlements increased after the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 because Jews from Spain and Sicily found refuge there and they were able to work in trading between Europe and Asia.

By 1840, the Damascus Blood Libel was laid on Jews getting attention worldwide.  "In February, at Damascus, a Catholic monk named Father Thomas and his servant disappeared. The accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus."  Jews suffered from such things  throughout the ages and never did such things.  In the first place, blood is abhorrent to Jews.  It is not something that can be eaten much less touched.  By 1920 after WWI the French held the mandate for Syria and Jews finally obtained equal rights which were lost in WWII under the Vichy regime.

 Jews then emigrated to the USA or Lebanon and Israel.  From 1943  the Jewish population grew from  almost 30,000  to about 14,000 by1947, and then more left because of the fighting against Israel.  There have still been Jews living today in Damascus.  By 1973 there were 4,000.  Syria remains anti-Israel with their policies and continued acts of hostility since 1948 when they joined other countries to fight against Israel.  It was Syria who was so extreme and wanted the 6 Day War.  That again turned out that Israel won the battle, defeated the Syrian army and occupied the Golan Heights where Syrians had been bombarding Israel homes and businesses.  Today there are 22 Jews living in Damascus.  I imagine they are quite old.  That's what is left of the Syrian Jewish population.

In; 1982 when I lived in Safed, Israel, our IDF had to enter Lebanon as the Palestinian terrorists were shelling constantly.  I lived very close to the border and remember seeing our convoy of trucks go up Safed's hill when I was going down in a bus.  Our friend, the Christian Major Hadad of Lebanon patrolled the border with us.  He took his R&;R in our army hospital where I wound up.  Hadad asked Sharon for permission to go into the Palestinian camps and take care of them and Sharon agreed.  It did not have a good outcome.  It was evidently some type of slaughter and Sharon had to take responsibility.  This is when Hezbollah was created.

Hezbollah are terrorists who are followers of the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini.  They are trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.  They are funded by Iran and Syria.  These are the people we must keep chemicals from reaching as they will use them on Israel.  They are right when they stated that " the strike aimed to prevent Arab and Muslim forces from developing their military capabilities"  Who in their right mind is going to allow them to be able to gas people as well as  shoot missiles into Israel?  Knesset member Tzachi Hanegbi didn't  admit that Israel  hit the convoy, but said "Israel's preference would be if a Western entity would control these weapons systems,"  As I understand, 12 jets flew over to do the job.  Syria says they hit a scientific research center NW of Damascus and 10 miles from Lebanon's border.  Somehow that center looked an awful lot like a convoy of trucks carrying anti-aircraft weapons meant to use on Israel.

Resource:  Arutz Sheva
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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