What about the tensions between Syria and Israel? Ongoing tension between Israel and Syria has been a constant since Israel’s founding in 1948. Although the current political and military situation in Syria has heightened Israel’s security concerns, these concerns focus on hostilities and shifting alliances between various national, paramilitary, terrorist, and ideological forces hostile to Israel. The threats to Israel’s security are not posed by the plight of families who have been uprooted due to the chaos, fighting, and terror campaigns carried out by pro- and anti-Assad forces.
Those who have been displaced and driven out are ordinary citizens, not members of subversive militias. Sponsoring a Syrian refugee family that has been vetted by the Canadian government will not exacerbate the tension between Israel and Syria, which is military in nature, and does not reflect considerations pertaining to the displaced civilian populace. Rather, it is an opportunity for us to improve relationships between Jews and Arabs. How can we hope to achieve change if the ‘other’ is always to remain ‘other’?
It is true that the Syrian media, being state-controlled, is often anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic); similarly, school textbooks and lessons reflect anti-Israel government propaganda. We acknowledge that Syrian refugees coming to North America may therefore be biased against Israel or Jews. Once here, however, exposure to different views, education, and the Canadian ethos, will enable these new immigrants to form less-biased views. Reaching out and assisting them can contribute to this educational process. We can also clarify misunderstandings more directly through personal relationships established with our sponsored family.