Deconstruction Zone: Children of the Israeli Golan

US President Trump declares US recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan

 

No one asks us – the children of the Israeli Golan who were born after 1967. Yes, I am an Israeli and nothing associates me with Syria except for the slogans I have been hearing for almost 50 years. 

I was born under Israeli rule, opened my eyes as a baby to the Israeli flag waving over the hill across from my home, and I have tasted freedom with first light. This very freedom, saturated with democratic and moral values, is something that only Israel has given to its citizens among all the countries across the Middle East. 

For nearly 50 years, I have not felt for a day that I was in a foreign country or different from the rest of the citizens of Israel. I never faced a barrier that limited my progress or achieving a goal that I set myself. I was always a person within a people, belonging to the Israeli narrative in every aspect. 

Here lies a paradox – there are those who use Israeli democracy to denigrate Israel, use the rights Israel gives them to spread lies against it. 

Arab Knesset members, who make up over 10% of the electorate, receive a salary from the State of Israel and enjoy diplomatic immunity from the State of Israel, exploit these privileges to convince the world that Israel is an apartheid regime. 

Following the declaration by US President Donald Trump recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, the Arab world was awash with slogans. People who do not even know the exact geographical location of the Golan Heights still had words of condemnation against the Trump Declaration. On the other side, someone like myself – a native of the Golan Heights – views the spontaneity of using a Twitter post to address such a significant and strategically important matter to Middle Eastern stability as evidence of President Trump’s candour and principled position about the status of the Golan Heights. 

Such action shuts the door on an impending scenario which would lead to abandoning the Golan. Moreover, it revokes any right by Assad or anyone who might replace him to someday demand extending their sovereignty onto the Golan, and it recognises the importance of the Golan to regional stability and security.

The Americans understand the importance of Israeli control over the Golan Heights. Yet former US presidents have traditionally acted in a diplomatic manner typical of a fixated frame of mind, fearful of any change to the status quo that has been in place since then the Yom Kippur War. It seems that the fundamental difference between Trump and his predecessors is his being branded as an “outsider”, which results in positively historic and courageous decisions by the United States. 

The Golan Heights is an area liberated from the tyranny and oppression of the Assad regime, both father and son. If we let Golan residents choose, they will certainly opt to remain under Israeli rule. 

Trump’s decision is vital and correct if you also take into account the timing, with Iran deploying on the Syrian side of the Golan armed militias affiliated with the ‘resistance’ anti-Western camp to try and engage in terror against Israel while falsely marketing such terror as a legitimate struggle against Israeli sovereignty in the area. Put differently, the American statement prevents such forces of evil from legitimising acts of terrorism against Israel’s north-eastern border. 

Arab verbal aggression against Trump’s Declaration is nothing but hot air, released in light of Middle Eastern reality. No Arab side will wilfully remove itself when an opportunity emerges to show that they are still vigilant for pan-Arab interests. Even when Syria was expelled from the Arab League, the other member states had to clarify that the Golan is still Syrian occupied soil. Because, what else can you do? 

We, the inhabitants of the Golan Heights, tell all of them that from here – from the pastoral foothills of snowy Mount Hermon – let us live under the Zionist “occupation” and stop your empty slogans. Your slogans do not grant us the freedoms and democracy given to us by the “occupation”. The Druze that live on the Israeli side of the Golan do not emigrate to countries in the East or West, while the dream of every young Arab in your countries is to attain refugee status in any country that will accept him in the West. Do you know why? Because the Zionist “occupation” cedes its residents and citizens all the rights your citizens do not have. 

And you want to send us back to Syria? The country who massacred more than a million of its citizens? Whose prisons host hundreds of thousands of detainees that have “disappeared”? The country 20 million refugees emigrated from? 

Do us a favour and leave us alone. 

Mendi Safadi is head of the Safadi Centre for International Diplomacy, Research, Human Rights and Public Information. He lectures on Islam, terrorism, Syria and the Middle East, and has published many articles in the media.