Jerusalem, Israel - Aboud is a Syrian refugee who has a lot to share about the unending civil war in his country that appears to have no clear victor. He took time last weekend to speak with the Israel Collective, a group of Christian peacemakers, during our tour of Israel. Joining us via Skype, he shared some shocking details about the current Syria crisis that has driven him from his home. There is no winner in the civil war, he lamented.
While Aboud had no interest in becoming an activist at the onset of the crisis, he explained how the excessive leadership eventually forced him to speak out.
He recalled, for instance, how the “barbaric” regime cut one of his friends’ hands off after he was caught stealing. Then, he described the week in hell in which he was forced to stay in his house while being shelled.
“I don’t know how I got through it,” he recalled.
After that barrage of attacks, Aboud says a ceasefire was agreed upon, allowing several Syrians to leave their homes in search of safer territory.
Yet, the ceasefire means virtually nothing.
Aboud says the only ceasefire respected was the one his country made with Israel.
You would think the Gulf States would accept Syrians seeking refuge in the crisis. Yet, they were one of the first to close their embassies to these asylum seekers.
“There’s no excuse for Arab countries not to take in our refugees,” he said. “I resent the Gulf for that.”
Yet, Syria can rely on at least a couple of friends.
Israel, Aboud related, has gone beyond expectations in terms of aiding misplaced Syrians.
Nir Boms, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center who set up our conversation with Aboud, described the “forbidden aid” Israel has offered to Syrians since the humanitarian crisis began. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done what other leaders haven’t by visiting Syrian patients in hospitals. Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Forces care for injured refugees – even those who have been linked to terrorism. Others have saved refugees from drowning. Here is just a glimpse into the amazing effort IsraAid volunteers, an Israeli non-governmental organization, have made to provide disaster relief.
“The national anthem of this country is hope,” Boms said about Israel’s compassion.
Aboud, while acknowledging Israel’s role in the crisis, was also thankful for America’s support in the crisis.
“The U.S. has been the only country to give what it promises,” he said. “The government has given the most.”
Yet, he indicated that the U.S. can be doing more to help the refugee cause, particularly in regards to one group. While acknowledging Americans’ national security concerns, Aboud referred to the current hesitant American policy in regards to accepting refugees as an “unfortunate reality.”
“There are refugees you don’t have to worry about,” he insisted.
Aboud did, however, admit some American anxiety is justified. You “cannot just unload 1 million people on a country and not expect resentment,” he said.
Assimilation, he said, has to come naturally.
Is there any hope in the Syrian refugee crisis? we asked Aboud.
He answered with a sigh.