March 2016 marks 5 years since the atrocious civil war in Syria that has claimed the lives of over 200,000 and displaced millions. Aboud Dandachi is one of these statistics whose life has been directly affected and he will never be the same again. The 39 year-old fled to Istanbul, and in an interview with Ynetnews he spoke not only about his experiences escaping the horror of the Syrian crisis, but about his neighboring country Israel that he had been raised to treat with contempt and loathing.
In a complete volte-face, Dandachi’s conclusions since the war in Syria began are that Israel is not the “Great Satan” he thought it was. In fact, it is the exact opposite. He believes that Israel is doing everything it should do by not participating in the war, but helping wounded Syrians. He says that the Israeli government is doing its part, as well as civilian Israelis who are helping refugees from Syria too. He is quite angry that the Gulf States, for example, have not taken in Syrian refugees. Having grown up hearing constantly that the Jews were evil and the enemy, it was a huge shock to see Arabs treating Arabs badly and Arab countries not taking in Arabs.
It led to a revelation for this high-tech specialist to see Jews behaving in an humane and generous way and helping Syrians; in comparison with the treatment of Syrians by Hezbollah in Lebanon and armed forces from Iran and their rejection by other Muslim countries. At the end of 2015, Aboud launched a website called Thank You Am Israel, which highlights all the good that Jews and Israelis are doing to help the Syrian people. He has so much material to share because there are Israelis contributing to helping Syrians every day. He goes as far as to say that Syrians are beholden to Israel for all the good they have done. Two years ago when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited wounded Syrians in an IDF field hospital in the Golan Heights, Dandachi felt that Syria not thanking him was immature. He says that the polite thing to do would be to thank the nation of Israel – hence the inspiration and name of his site.
You can read more about this remarkable man and his story in this article written by another Arab who condemns anti-Semitism.