Alternative headline: Peace Arrives in Middle East as Sunnis and Shiites Discover They Hate Each Other More Than They Hate Jews
Mohammed and Fatima Alskka fled the embattled Syrian city of Homs seven months ago and today live in Pasadena, Maryland. They were taking a stroll in the Monday afternoon sun, pushing a stroller along 17th Street, stopping to take the occasional picture with their newborn, Khaled.
When they passed by the mini-demonstration they had no idea what the protesters were yelling about.
They were informed that the Israeli prime minister was visiting the White House, and a surprised smile appeared on their faces. “Tell him we say ‘Hi,’” Mohammed, 30, said.
“We want Netanyahu to take Bashar Assad and kill him,” chimed in his wife, Fatima, as she held her son, “because he killed a lot of my people.”
Not Netanyahu’s job, but apparently with Obama and Cameron out of it, they’ll take anyone to pinch hit. Even Netanyahu.
“You know what Bashar and his friends say?” Mohammed asked, in halting English. “You don’t like Bashar, you like Israel.” He and his wife loathe Assad, he took pains to stress, but that does not mean they are spies for Israel.
For all the understandable revulsion at Assad, why the greetings for Israel’s prime minister?
“Israelis don’t kill anyone in Syria,” Fatima said, placing Khaled back in his stroller, as he had started getting antsy. She’d heard reports about the Jewish state treating wounded Syrian civilians in its hospitals, and wasn’t entirely sure of their veracity, she said, “but we know Israel doesn’t kill any Syrians. Bashar killed my family.”
The couple was pretty much unfazed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it had caused “just” 2,000 deaths, while the Syrian civil war had killed “more than 200,000” people in less than three years.
Well yes. Maybe they can explain that to someone at the UN. Incidentally the Palestinian Arab death toll in Syria appears to have hit 1,597.
“They always said, ‘Israel not a friend, Israel not a friend.’ But Israel never made any problem with anybody,” Mohammed asserted.
The same is true for the US, Fatima added.
Growing up in Syria, they were constantly taught that Americans are evil. But now, after she and her husband entered the country on a tourist visa — and have started a process to be recognized as refugees — she had changed her mind.
She had only one word for American hospitality, she said: “Wow.”
Saudi Arabia only accepted very few Syrian refugees, but the Americans are entirely different, she said gratefully.
Unfortunately yes. Americans are entirely different.