Two earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria on February 5, killing nearly 3,000 people and injuring tens of thousands. There was extensive damage to infrastructure. Israel immediately sent humanitarian aid to Turkey, the worst hit between the two countries. And Syria asked Israel for help on February 6. Even though Syria participated in three wars to destroy the Jewish state in 1948, 1967 and 1973, the Israeli government did not hesitate. On the same day it received the request, it announced that aid was on its way to Syria. More on this show of Israel’s essential benevolence, even to those who have tried to destroy it, can be found here: “Netanyahu Says Syria Requests Trembling Relief, Israel Ready to Send It,” Algemeiner, February 6, 2023:
Israel said Monday it had received a Syrian request for earthquake relief aid for the Arab state and was prepared to oblige in a rare act of cooperation between hostile neighbors.
Amazing, isn’t it, that Syria – despite trying to destroy Israel three times – was embarrassed to ask Israel for help and confident that Israel would send it. Despite decades of Arab propaganda portraying Israelis as aggressors who want to create a greater Israel “from the Nile to the Euphrates” and as cruel tormentors of innocent Palestinians, the Syrians, who have joined other Arabs in spreading such slander, knew it. Israel will be willing to help. After all, during the Syrian civil war, Israeli hospitals are treating wounded Syrian civilians and soldiers from both sides.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech that he had ordered Israeli aid to be sent to Turkey, the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake, with airlifts due to depart in the evening.
“Since a request was also received to do this for many earthquake victims in Syria, I also ordered it to be done,” he said at an event at a hospital near Tel Aviv.
In later televised remarks to his party, Netanyahu said the humanitarian relief request for Syria had been circulated by “a diplomatic official” – whom he did not identify.
“I approved it, and I think these things will be done soon,” Netanyahu said.
Syrian officials reported hundreds of casualties in the civil war-torn country, both in areas controlled by Damascus and in the opposition-held northwest.
Asked who made the request regarding Syria, an Israeli official told Reuters: “The Syrians,” quoting Netanyahu. Asked if it was referred to opposition members or the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the official said only: “Syria”…
The aid Israel will send includes blankets, tents and medicine, Kahn said, adding that Netanyahu has indicated a willingness to cover casualties if the government asks.
Let’s start with the aid that is already being distributed to Turkey. Since the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become bitter in his criticism of Israel. Five years ago, he decided to re-establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, but the envoys had to pack up and leave after 17 months of trying to put things back together; Erdogan was unable to hide his deep hatred of the Jewish state.
Erdogan is a staunch hater, who once described the existence of the Jewish state as a “crime against humanity.” In May 2021, Erdogan, referring to the Jewish people, said: “It is their nature that they are content only to suck blood.” Part of Erdogan’s anger has also been directed at US President Joe Biden. “Today we saw Biden’s gun endorsement [sales] to Israel. you [Biden] Writing history with bloody hands.
But Erdogan this year has again begun to try to improve relations with the Jewish state. He calculated that pretending to treat Israel better would help him in Washington’s corridors of power and make American military aid more accessible. As Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil put it, “Erdogan’s peace with Israel is not peace. It’s a tactical move to flash to Washington: I’m a good guy, give me the F-16, don’t sanction me because further sanctions could end my rule at the ballot box next year.”
Erdogan is not trying hard to patch things up with Israel. He granted asylum to a dozen Hamas leaders and, what’s more, granted them Turkish citizenship and passports, making it easier for them to travel to Europe. He has ignored Israeli requests to expel Hamas members from his country. But despite his hatred of Israel, his unwavering support for the Palestinians, and his own vitriolic comments, expressed over decades, toward Israel and Jews, with Turkey calling for humanitarian aid after two earthquakes, Israel. It was the first of 40 countries to respond to that call. The Israelis are not going to withhold their aid from ordinary Turks because of their leader’s attitude.
Same goes for Syria. No Arab country has been as consistently anti-Israel as Syria. Except for Egypt, no Arab country has gone to war against Israel so many times – three times – to destroy the Jewish state. Since 1948, Syrian publishing houses have been carrying out anti-Semitic propaganda. Alois Brunner, who was Eichmann’s chief collaborator and one of the most wanted Nazi war criminals, was granted asylum in Syria, a generous salary and the protection of the ruling Baath Party, and by the Germans in World War II in exchange for his advice on using effective torture and interrogation techniques. Syrians supported the terrorist group Hamas until 2012, when Hamas leaders decided to side with the opposition in the civil war. The Assad regime finally reconciled with Hamas in October 2022. Although Syria is once again supporting Israel’s deadliest terrorist group, when Syria asked for humanitarian aid, Israel agreed without hesitation.
It was the same when the leaders of the PA and Hamas, who spent their lives denouncing Israel, ensured that when they or their relatives needed medical care, they would be treated by Israeli doctors in Israeli hospitals. Israel never rejected them. These patients included Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief campaigner, who insisted on being treated at Hadassah Hospital when diagnosed with Covid-19, where he received a standard of care unattainable in Palestinian hospitals. Mahmoud Abbas, his wife, his brother and his brother-in-law were all treated for serious illnesses by Israeli doctors. Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar criticized Israel endlessly, but when he needed heart surgery, he insisted on going to an Israeli hospital; Once his life was spared, he returned to plotting against Israel.
Jerusalem-based Sheikh Ikrima Sabri did the same. For years, he spewed vile propaganda and anti-Israel and anti-American incitement from his pulpit at Al-Aqsa Mosque. While he was in charge as “Mufti” (an Islamic legal authority), he led millions of Muslims in prayer through his religious revolt against the United States – which spread throughout the Muslim world via radio and the Internet (“Allah will return”) White House Black …”) and religious curses calling for the “destruction of the Zionists” and the “destruction of Israel”. But when he urgently needed heart surgery, his first choice was…the Zionist-run Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Jewish doctors saved Sabri’s life, and like Yahya Sinwar, he returned to slander Israel and incite violence and terrorism against Jews, even more ferociously than in the past.
Now Israeli aid is fanning its way to Turkey and Syria. No country can change its hostility towards the Jewish state. There is a moral to this story. But I don’t think an army of Israel-haters will let them find out.