Daniel Levy wrote a very important post for Foreign Policy yesterday, After Golan clashes, is Israel rethinking the Assad (or Palestine) file? Here’s a snippet:
[…] And Israel is none-too-enamored of the alternatives in Damascus. One alternative to the Assad regime — a democratic Syria with greater soft power diplomatic heft and perhaps with Islamists as part of a governing coalition — is as unappetizing a prospect for an Israel intent on maintaining its belligerent posture to the Palestinians and to the region (including its occupation of the Golan heights), as the Egyptian version of the same is shaping up to be. Another alternative — that of Syria becoming a largely ungoverned chaotic space and forming an arc of fitna (or sectarian strife) with Iraq and Lebanon is also unattractive.
For the peace rejectionist government of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the survival of an embattled, desperate, and thoroughly discredited Assad regime apparently hits that Goldilocks sweet spot — just the right outcome.
If you take the time to read the whole piece carefully what Daniel reveals is the reason for U.S. policy being so hopelessly skewed and interminably incoherent, even as events continue to unwind. From Levy:
At least until Sunday’s events, Israel’s position on revolution in Syria hued closely to the status-quo conservatism that has so characterized the shared Israeli-Saudi response to the Arab Spring. Both Israel and Saudi had been critical of the “premature” abandonment of the Mubarak regime, especially by the U.S. Unlike Mubarak, of course, Assad is not an ally (for either the Israelis or the Saudis), but he is part of an ancien rÃƒÂ©gime for which Israel had effective management strategies in place.
Fox News contributors take whacks at Sec. Clinton for her, let’s call it a softer approach to Assad, but considering Israel’s own stance it’s rather ironic conservatives don’t get what’s going on.
On Sunday, June 5, marking Naksa Day (the Arab “setback” in the 1967 war), protesters — mostly Palestinian refugees and their descendents — marched to the Israel/Syria disengagement line representing the border between Syria and the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. According to reports up to 22 unarmed Syrian-Palestinian protesters were killed when Israeli forces apparently resorted to live fire (Israeli laid mines may also have been detonated and may have caused causalities, the exact unraveling of events remains sketchy). In most respects, this Sunday’s events were a repeat performance of the outcome of May 15’s Nakba Day commemorations (which Palestinians mark as the anniversary of their catastrophe in 1948).
Israel’s initial response to the wave of regional anti-regime protests reaching Syria was, according to reliable reports, to privately root for the “devil we know” approach — encouraging allies, including the U.S., to go easy on the Assad regime.
The backdrop for all of this is the notion of a U.N. vote for Palestinian statehood this fall, which will change nothing without negotiations, something that the “peace rejectionist government of Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Daniel’s description that I am hereby adopting, has no intention of engaging seriously.
But if anyone thinks this is good news for Israel they’re wrong.