World View: Syria, Allies Threaten War with Israel in the Golan Heights

World View: Syria, Allies Threaten War with Israel in the Golan Heights

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia may make WW II criticisms illegal
  • Israel and Syria exchange fire across the Golan Heights border
  • Arab media debate whether to start a Golan Heights war against Israel

Russia may make WW II criticisms illegal

Russian military parade in Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on May 9 (AP)
Russian military parade in Red Square during Victory Day celebrations on May 9 (AP)

Russia’s Duma is considering passing a bill that would makecriticism of Russia’s World War II actions illegal, carryinga punishment of up to three years in prison. The billwould be support for the drive by president Vladimir Putinto bolster patriotism and nationalism among Russians,including the glorification of Russian military exploits.The bill would be a reaction to a comment made by oppositionpolitician Leonid Gozman, comparing Stalin to Hitler,and Russia’s intelligence services, SMERSH, to the Naziintelligence services, the SS:

“I’m sure there were honest officers in SMERSH butthey were unfortunate to work for an agency that was as criminalas the SS. The word SMERSH must fall into the same category assuch words as the SS, NKVD and Gestapo, and cause horror anddisgust, but not be a part of the headline for a patrioticmovie. …

Yes, I think Stalin was as much a criminal as Hitler was, andStalin’s punitive agencies were as criminal and disgusting asHitler’s ones.””

This remark has triggered a Duma investigation. According to Gozman,the Duma’s initiative is “one more amusing instance of buffoonery,”and adds that Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other great Russians havesaid the same things.

It is not clear what consequences the evaluation of Gozman’s commentscould have for him. Moscow Times

Israel and Syria exchange fire across the Golan Heights border

Syria and Israel exchanged both weapons fire and threats of war onTuesday over the border between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights.An Israeli jeep in an overnight patrol in the Golan Heights near theborder with Syria came under fire from Syrian forces across theborder, and the Israelis returned fire. There have been several suchexchanges of fire since Israel’s aerial strikes in the Damascus area.(See “6-May-13 World View — Israeli air strike on Damascus escalates Syria crisis”) Atthat time, Syria said that Israel’s move was a “declaration of war,”and vowed to retaliate. In the latest incident, and unlike previousincidents, Syria claimed responsibility for firing on the Israelipatrol and threatened further strikes. Israel’s Chief of StaffLt.-Gen. Benny Gantz responded with his own threat:

“”We will not allow the Golan Heights to become acomfortable space for Assad to operate from. If he deterioratesthe situation on the Golan Heights, he will have to bear theconsequences. I am not a fiery person, but we will have to knowhow to defend [ourselves]. All in all, the reality on the GolanHeights is unstable, and it is being undermined.”

Syria’s media outlets warned that “any future aggression by Israelwill be answered by Syria. Those who think we are weak and are tryingus are wrong.” Jerusalem Post and Debka

Arab media debate whether to start a Golan Heights war against Israel

After Israel’s May 4 airstrikes, Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad’shas been threatening to call for armed resistance to Israel in theGolan Heights. The Golan border between Israel and Syria has in factbeen relatively quiet for 40 years, largely because the al-Assadregimes did not want a military conflict with Israel. But now Syriaand its allies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran, are threatening to openup a Golan Heights front against Israel. According to a Lebanesecolumnist close to Iran and Syria, Hezbollah will lead the militaryaction, with the help of Iran:

The Syrian leadership has decided to provide unlimitedhigh-quality strategic aid to the Lebanese Islamic resistance[i.e. Hezbollah] and to place all the resources of the Syrian armyat the disposal of the Hezbollah leadership… and to open thegate of jihad [against Israel] from Syrian land to Arabs andMuslims who desire it, and turn the Golan into ‘the land ofresistance…'”

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) called on Syria to openthe Golan and all the borders to operations against Israel.

However, not all Arab militias think that a Golan military actionagainst Israel is a good idea. Hamas in particular has brokenrelations with al-Assad’s regime because of its massive bloodthirstyslaughter of innocent Syrian Arabs, and now considers gettingrid of the al-Assad regime to have a higher priority thanthe resistance against Israel. One senior Hamas officialmocked the al-Assad regime:

“It’s strange that the Syrian regime is so’courageous’ when it comes to [attacking] its people andbombarding them with planes and mortars, but when Israel attacksit and destroys its military and civilian facilities and makes ita laughing stock in the eyes of the world, it puffs itself up withfalse pride and announces that it reserves the right to retaliatein the time and place of its choosing… Yesterday the Syrianregime announced… the launching of popular resistance. From nowon, there is a presidential authorization for the popularresistance to shift itself to the Golan… Tomorrow popularresistance convoys will march on the occupied Golan and occupiedPalestine… But where is the Syrian people that [is supposed to]carry out [this] popular resistance? Isn’t this the same peoplethat is wandering [homeless] inside and outside Syria? Isn’t itthe people that is being bombarded by the regime’s planes day andnight?…”


Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail