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May 17, 2011

Shadid: Border Breach Not a Case of Spring Fever

An insightful analysis by Bronner's colleague Anthony Shadid undercuts Bronner's contention that the rally was "inspired by recent popular protests around the Arab world." Shadid writes:

Few questioned the sincerity of the Palestinian refugees who flocked to the border; the day that marks Israel’s creation remains a searing date in the Palestinian psyche, and they cited the upheavals of the Arab Spring as inspiration. But as is often the case in modern Arab politics, they may have found themselves in a more cynical conflict that involves power, survival and deterrence and in which, to varying degrees, Iran, Israel, Turkey and the United States have a stake in the survival of a government that is bereft of legitimacy except as a force for a notion of stability.

“It’s a message by the Syrian government for Israel and the international community: If you continue the pressure on us, we will ignite the front with Israel,” said Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian dissident and visiting scholar at George Washington University. . . .

Mr. Ziadeh, citing informants in Damascus, said at least four buses were seen Saturday leaving two camps where factions most loyal to Syria exert control.

“For 40 years, the Syrians have very effectively prevented infiltration, which shows that the Syrians have their hand on the faucet,” said Yoni Ben-Menachem, an Israeli analyst. “This also demonstrates the unwillingness of both Israel and the U.S. to see the removal of Bashar Assad” — as long as he keeps the border with Israel quiet.

The online version of the article is accompanied by this interesting photo and caption:

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A student fleeing unrest in Syria was greeted by relatives after crossing over into Israel last week

Other than this photo caption, the NY Times ignored those defectors who fled from Syria and sought refuge in Israel. As Ynet reported:

"I'm tired of living in Syria, we'd rather die than see more bloodshed," one of the Syrian infiltrators into Majdal Shams told Ynet earlier. He called on Israel to grant him asylum, adding: "We've crossed the border in order to stay with our families, away from all the killing in Syria. We ask the powers at be in Israel to help us stay and not send us back." Other infiltrators told Ynet that "we come in peace," adding that they had decided to cross the border in the aims of living in the Golan Heights – "even if it means risking our lives." Still, others declared "we are here to liberate the Syrian Palestinian land. These people are Palestinian freeman, Allah willing, the Palestinian groups will not give up."

Some of those expressing a wish to remain on the Israeli side of the border, said the uprising against Syrian President Assad is proving more and more dangerous and that many Palestinians now fear for their lives.

Posted by TS at May 17, 2011 04:08 AM

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