The Golan Heights and the Assad Family: Habitat of Resistance and Despotism
The year 2022 marked the 40th anniversary of the most significant national and political event in the modern history of the Syrian Golan, during the decades following its fall to Israeli occupation, either in 1967 or 1973; That is, a large, widespread strike called by Syrian citizens in the vast majority of cities and villages of the Golan Heights, which began on February 14, 1982 and continued until July 19 of that year, and is considered the longest not only in the annals the plateau itself, but also throughout the modern history of Syria. In many aspects, carrying exceptional connotations, the strike was the broadest, most organized and most committed protest movement against the decision of the Israeli occupation government from 14.12.1981. to annex the Golan, which was later approved by the Knesset.
And if the dozens of details that were connected to the traces of that impact were a reason for the pride of the people of the Golan, and their desire to remember, transmit and circulate them to younger generations; Legitimate pride remains associated with great pain, which is completely understandable, or perhaps sometimes exceeds feelings of resentment and anger, regarding the indifference that characterized the Syrian regime’s reactions to a step that Hafez al-Assad considered tantamount to a declaration of war, and was not it was enough to maintain all front lines. In the usual case of grave silence, the regime’s security services and most of its loyal private military units were busy carrying out internal massacres, against the cities, towns and villages of Syria far and wide!
And it’s not fair, whenever the contrast between the strikes of the Syrians on the occupied Golan and the subjection of other Syrians at home to the regime’s brutality is mentioned, without mentioning the facts and the bloodiest ones: When the attack on the occupied Golan began, 12 days had passed since the Syrian the regime started with the massacre of Ham (30 to 40 thousand dead); Before and after the decision of the Israeli occupation to annex the Golan Heights, the regime committed a series of other massacres (Jabal Al-Zawiya, 13-15-05-1980: 14 victims; Sarmada, 25-07-1980: 11 victims; Souk Al- Ahad, Aleppo, 13/07/1980: 43 victims; Abbasids Square, Damascus, 18/08/1980: 60 victims; Al-Masharqa quarter, Aleppo, 11/08/1980, morning Eid al-Fitr: 100 victims… ). In addition to these massacres that took place in various population centers, Syrian prisons witnessed direct mass murders (Palmyra prison massacre, 27/06/1980: at least 500 victims), or hundreds of dead as a result of torture. As for the height of the bitter contradiction, in the eyes of the people of the Golan and the people of Syria alike, it was embodied in the amount of disparity between the practices of the Israeli occupation authorities during efforts to end the attack, and the behavior of the Syrian regime apparatus in besieging and bombarding cities and committing crimes there and there.
There is that old sadness among Syrians back home, because they have nothing but solidarity with their brothers in the Golan Heights, not to mention the comparison between the tyranny of local Syrian fascism and the Israeli occupier. And among the Golanites, since they continue to belong to a homeland that is bleeding at the hands of tyrants, but it is the first habitat and the last destination.
There was a consensus among observers of the era, supported by simple common sense, that Menachem Begin, the Israeli Prime Minister at the time; Ariel Sharon, the hawkish defense minister; Yosef Burg, the interior minister who represents ultra-Orthodox parties; They found an opportunity to annex the occupied plateau, right at this moment. The reason was not that they took advantage of the preoccupation of the regime army with their battles against the Syrian people, since the Israeli government was fully convinced that father Assad would not lift a finger in any case; Rather, because the annexation of the Golan at that time would have passed without tangible international diplomatic embarrassment and without express sympathy for a regime that is massacring the citizens of Syria and is preoccupied with preserving the power of tyranny and corruption far more than any concern about losing an occupied country that it is originally unable to to liberate, neither by war nor by peace. Today we know, from information that has been declassified at various levels, that the quarrel between the “Likud” and the “Labor Party” did not focus on the annexation of the Golan, because both agreed on that move, but on the time of the massacres inside Syria, in which was considered by the “Labour Party” to be a masterstroke by Begin and Borg!
Prior to the annexation decision, the occupying power amended Israel’s Nationality Law, and the Minister of the Interior was empowered to grant citizenship under various conditions, some of which applied to the people of the Golan under a vague and broad description that designated that nationality as “special interest of the state”; This quickly coincided with Israeli measures pressuring Golan residents to accept citizenship, with a rumored 400 people taking it (it turned out that 300 of them originally had Israeli citizenship because they were from the Druze region in 1948 and immigrated to the Golan for family reasons or life reasons). An auxiliary Golan step, patriotic par excellence and regardless of agreement or disagreement about the roles of the clergy in organizing it or exploiting or engaging it, was to transform the famous religious “retreat”, especially when it met at Majdal Shams, into something like a national council that would discuss the affairs of the occupied Golan and make decisions Decisions and recommendations regarding its present and future.
Perhaps one of the clearest documents of this practice was the “National Document”, at the end of March 1981, which stipulated in Article 6 that “people who reject the occupation with their concrete attitudes and who come from all our social sectors are those who are worthy and qualified to express what is in their conscience.” and souls of their community.” And in Article 7: “Any citizen of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights who asks to exchange his citizenship for Israeli citizenship insults our public dignity, our national honor, our nationality, our religion and our traditions, and is considered a traitor. our country.” Article 8 also went to extreme measures of deterrence: “Our decision is irreversible, and anyone who acquires Israeli citizenship, or deviates from the content of this document, will be rejected and expelled from our faith and our social fabric, and it is forbidden to have work, nor share his joys and sorrows, nor marry.” With him, until he confesses his guilt and retracts his mistake, and asks forgiveness from his community and recovers his honor and his true nationality.
It was no blind coincidence that the thirtieth anniversary of the attack on the occupied Golan was accompanied by a brutal bombing of the Homs district, and against its people was used a devastating weapon that mimics, or sometimes surpasses, those used by the Israelis against Ramallah, Gaza, Qan and Beirut… even if the country of origin is different, between America and Russia. Evidence of the logic behind the two coincidences indicated that the regime that overthrew the city of Hama in 1982, the year of the famous Golan coup; It is the same regime that overthrew Homs, on the thirtieth anniversary of the strike. Perhaps even more barbaric: between Father Assad, who fought to eradicate armed groups of limited numbers and equipment, in order to discipline the whole society; And successor Assad, who is fighting against the vast majority of the defenseless people with the security, military and financial machinery of his regime, and with the help of Russian bombers, fighters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah militia and other sectarian detachments.
And between 40 years since the great and honorable Golan coup, and the insistence of the vast majority of their children on resistance, rejection of annexation and adherence to national identity; And 52 years since the regime of tyranny, corruption and inheritance established by the Al-Assad family, which today ends with the destruction of Syria, its people and urban areas, and the surrender of five occupations, and the displacement of millions of people in the four winds of the country; There is this old ingrained pain: among Syrians, at home, because they have nothing but solidarity with their brothers in the Golan Heights, not to mention the comparison between the tyranny of local Syrian fascism and the Israeli occupier; And among the Golanites, since they continue to belong to a homeland that is bleeding at the hands of tyrants, but it is the first habitat and the last refuge.
Syrian writer and researcher living in Paris