Contrary to CBC Reporter Neil MacDonald, Israel Sees Assad's Regime as a Brutal Destabilizing Force (June 23, 2011)

By Mike Fegelman

June 23, 2011



Contrary to CBC Reporter Neil MacDonald, Israel Sees Assad’s Regime as a Brutal Destabilizing Force

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director                                                                              June 23, 2011


  View this Article Online and Discuss on HRC’s Blog “Headlines and Deadlines”


Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

In a brutal clampdown on political dissent, an estimated 1,400 Syrian civilians were killed in recent weeks by pro-Assad forces. At the same time, 10,000 Syrians were detained in a tyrannical campaign of mass arrest, while 10,000 others fled persecution and execution by escaping to Turkey.

In an effort to maintain power and order, Assad’s regime stymied the growth of domestic protest movements through media control, intimidation and ruthless violence. This is the same regime that has been propped up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and that killed Hamza al Khatib, a 13-year-old Syrian boy who was tortured to death by Syrian authorities and whose body was mutilated, castrated and whose corpse was riddled with bullet holes and burn marks.

This is the real face of Syria under President Bashar al-Assad. But despite this well-documented information, the CBC would have you believe that Israel prefers that this brutal regime continue its reign so that so-called “stability” could prevail along Israel’s borders with Syria. But the facts speak louder than the media’s suppositions.

According to this perverted logic, Israel is said to tacitly abet or turn a blind eye to Assad’s brutal crackdown on democratic dissent so long its security was preserved.

In a Neil MacDonald CBC National report that aired on June 20 about a televised national speech that Assad gave (watch by clicking here or on the image below), reporter MacDonald falsely claimed:

Saudi Arabia simply doesn’t want any more Arab regime change at all. Israel equates the Assad regime with stability, and the United States is afraid of what might come after Assad.”

Contrary to this statement, Israel has stated repeatedly on the record that it would prefer the end of the Assad regime in comparison to its continuance. Here is a letter that Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren wrote to the Wall Street Journal on June 6, 2011 which confirms the veracity of this information:

“For the second time, a recent Journal article (“Syrian Violence Tests U.S.,” page one, June 3) asserts that Israel has expressed fears of instability in Syria if leader Bashar al-Assad is overthrown. I emphatically denied this the first time (“U.S. Seeks to Raise Heat on Syria,” page one, April 25) and categorically deny it again. Israel has expressed no such concerns. Allied with Iran, Mr. Assad has helped supply 55,000 rockets to Hezbollah and 10,000 to Hamas, very likely established a clandestine nuclear arms program and profoundly destabilized the region. The violence he has unleashed on his own people demonstrating for freedoms confirms Israel’s fears that the devil we know in Syria is worse than the devil we don’t. Ambassador Michael Oren, Israeli Embassy, Washington.”

In other words, officially “Israel equates the Assad regime with INstability,” and not stability as this CBC reporter has erroneously claimed. (It’s also instructive to note that Mr. MacDonald’s statement was not in attribution and he doesn’t cite this claim to any sources, primary or secondary.) Could it be that his opinion here was disguised as news?

Furthermore, in two viewpoint analysis articles published on June 3 and 21 respectively, Mr. MacDonald again falsely claimed:

“Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships in the region want this Arab Spring contagion stopped. Israel is principally concerned with stability on its northeast border, which al-Assad has provided (rather than Arab democracy or human rights).

The U.S. and Canada, both of which say Israel’s security is their paramount concern, seem to prefer al-Assad’s secular brutality to the potential of an Islamic-tinged successor.” ( Neil MacDonald: June 21, 2011)

Israel appreciates the fact that the Assads have kept the northern border quiet for nearly 40 years now, and fears any government that supplants the secular tyrants in Damascus may be infected by Islamists. So do Israel’s allies. As President Obama has said many times, Israel’s security is America’s paramount concern.” ( Neil MacDonald: June 3, 2011)

Obviously, if you contrast Ambassador Oren’s words with correspondent MacDonald’s, you’ll clearly see that this CBC correspondent has oversimplified the facts on the ground as Syria’s 2007 attempt at building a nuclear reactor (with North Korea’s help) was seen as anything but a purveyance of “stability.” Likewise, Syria’s efforts at supporting Hamas/Hezbollah and being part of a destabilizing force allied with Iran, has brought about a tremendous amount of noise on Israel’s borders. Israel certainly doesn’t “appreciate” this. Israel also doesn’t appreciate that this regime has tried to provoke the Jewish state in recent weeks, through state-sanctioned incitement of protestors to illegally breech Israel’s sovereign borders using hostile violence. Despite this brazen attempt that Assad himself orchestrated to deflect media attention away from the human rights atrocities that he and his regime have committed, Israeli soldiers exercised maximum restraint when faced with these violent mobs.

The facts are quite clear. Does Israel appreciate “quiet” (translated by most as zero violence, perpetrated or planned) by its neighbours specifically Syria? The answer is obviously yes, but contrary to Mr. MacDonald’s CBC National report (bound by CBC reporting standards) and his viewpoint articles (bound by CBC’s journalistic standards, but with some flexibility to allow for his opinion to come through based on an informed analysis), Israel does not prefer that Assad remain in office because it views him and his administration as being dangerous, reckless, and ruthless to its own citizens. Israel officially thinks Assad has only brought instability to the region and it feels that Assad has brought a tremendous amount of noise/escalations along its northern border with Israel.

In sharp contrast to the CBC’s reporting, CTV National Middle East Bureau Chief Martin Seemungal filled a report also on June 20 which noted that the “international reaction (to Syria’s atrocities) was swift and harsh.” Reporter Seemungal acknowledged that Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, believed that “Assad had crossed the point of no return quoting Barak as saying that He (Assad) ended up using too much brutal force.

And so it would seem that Mr. MacDonald’s oversimplified and short-sighted analysis pieces which were based on his own misguided opinions, has found its way in to this CBC National report which requires that his opinions be repressed. Keep in mind, that it is also MacDonald’s opinion that “the West’s response to Syria was full of “hypocrisy.”

To imply, as the CBC and reporter MacDonald has done, that Israel, Canada, and the West would prefer that Assad and his regime stay in power – a dangerous man and an administration that has so horrifically butchered and abused its own citizens – is baseless and an insult to the memory of those who were killed in Syria’s slaughterhouse.

Rest assured, HonestReporting Canada has already filed an official complaint with the CBC to voice these very concerns. We also specifically requested that the CBC publish and broadcast the Israeli viewpoint on Assad’s regime so that Canadians are properly informed that Israel doesn’t support Assad’s continued reign in power. We await the CBC’s reply with bated breath and have added MacDonald’s latest violation of the basic precepts of honest and ethical journalism to his ever growing anti-Israel rap sheet.



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