Does Israel Really Prefer Assad?

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The problem: You’re an Israeli government official watching the Syrian uprising. Bashar Assad, the devil you know next door, is in big, big, trouble.

And as Syria burns,  reporters from the Associated Press or Washington Post want to hear your take.

Sure, you enjoy watching Assad squirm. You might even want to rub it in — after all, you work the Mideast’s only stable democracy. You’re entitled to be a little smug. But you know that perception of Israeli support for the protesters can only discredit the populist uprising.

On the other hand, you don’t know what kind of government might emerge — who does? If you’re not careful, you’ll be perceived as supporting Assad (ugh). Initially supporting Mubarak two months ago only put Israel on the wrong side of history; fortunately, Sharansky came through in the clutch, articulating why opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t anti-democratic.

The solution: Don’t say any more than necessary, because you’re either too low or too high on the policy-making totem pole to make waves. Then, grit your teeth as you read the unavoidable headlines:

I agree with Michael Totten on regime change, even though Assad’s the devil we’re used to:

Even if, under a worst-case scenario, Damascus under new management continues to support Hamas and Hezbollah, maintains the alliance with Iran’s Islamic Republic, continues oppressing the people of Syria, and keeps “resistance” against Israel the state’s ideological raison d’etre, the situation could not be much worse than it already is. Let us hope, then, that the Syrian people can finally be rid of him.

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