If Arabs were Germans and Israel’s frontiers were the Berlin Wall


This video shows confrontations that took place on 5 June on the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights as thousands of people marched from the Syrian-controlled side toward the fortified Israeli-controlled line. Watch carefully.

The images are shot from the from the perspective of Syrian residents of the town of Majdal Shams who have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967.

Some of the Golan residents are throwing stones at Israeli forces along the frontier. But the Israeli forces have their backs to the Golan residents because the Israelis are firing tear gas (and possibly live ammunition) at marchers on the Syrian side.

As Israel and its apologists describe these events, Israel is “defending itself” against “infiltrators.” Media reports citing Syrian sources say that up to 20 people may have been killed and dozens more injured by Israeli fire. Videos posted earlier show Israelis firing and marchers evacuating wounded people.

But what this video clearly shows is ordinary people challenging the violent and illegal division of their homeland. The people are united on both sides of the line. It is the Israeli line that separates them. The Israelis are the infiltrators.

For decades the people of the Golan Heights have steadfastly maintained their family and community connections. Famously they would gather on hilltops and deliver news to each other across the frontier via megaphone.

The 2004 film The Syrian Bride by Eran Riklis (starring Hiam Abbass, Makram Khoury and Clara Khoury) dramatizes this situation:

In Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border, the Druze bride Mona is engaged to get married with Tallel, a television comedian that works in the Revolution Studios in Damascus, Syria. They have never met each other because of the occupation of the area by Israel since 1967; when Mona moves to Syria, she will lose her undefined nationality and will never be allowed to return home. Mona’s father Hammed is a political activist pro-Syria that is on probation by the Israeli government. His older son Hatten married a Russian woman eight years ago and was banished from Majdal Shams by the religious leaders and his father. His brother Marwan is a wolf trader that lives in Italy. His sister Amal has two teenager daughters and has the intention to join the university, but her marriage with Amin is in crisis. When the family gathers for Mona’s wedding, an insane bureaucracy jeopardizes the ceremony.


The divided condition of Syrians – as well as Palestinians of course – is not unlike that of Germans or Berliners divided between West and East from 1945 to 1990. It is the brutal intervention of a forced partition that victimizes them. I see the Syrians of the Golan and the Palestinians marching to the frontiers of their country in the same light as the people who tore down the Berlin Wall.

That is not of course how they are presented by Israel and its apologists in the Western media who rarely question Israel’s description of them as faceless and dangerous “infiltrators” coming to violate Israel’s “sovereignty.”

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It's astonishing to see the Western media pile on board when injustices occur anywhere in the world...EXCEPT in the Middle East. Allowing and abetting the Israeli violation of the human rights of the indigenous population gives them the same burden of guilt as the Israelis. I wonder if it could be a "color problem"? Berliners don't have brown skin. US, UK and others were quick, fast and in a hurry to get help to them when it became clear that the German citizens were no longer going to tolerate the separation wall. Notice, though, that even in that case, no one gave a damn about it until it appeared that the fall of the wall was all but a done deed. Too many people in the west are profiting hugely by maintaining the status quo. To force Israel to withdraw to the legal borders and recognize Palestine as a sovereign country would be far too costly to the war profiteers and the parasites in government who live on their largess.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.