Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

My Enemy, My Friend

Binyamin Rose

He goes by the nom de guerre Ahmed Amin, a moniker he uses to protect his identity and family members who still cling to life in war-wracked Syria. Like all Syrians, Amin was brought up with a visceral hatred of Jews and Israel, a hatred he held dear until his life intersected with the Israeli humanitarians who were risking their lives to save his.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

It was the last place in the world whereAhmedAmin could have ever imagined himself. A Syrian-born Muslim, on stage, in full view, before a predominantly Jewish audience at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy in Herzliya, four years to the day from the outbreak of Syria’s bloody civil war. Still, he was careful about revealing his true identity, less out of fear of the Jewish audience than of the Syrian dictatorship he had fled. “I didn’t hide my face. People could see me, but they were told they couldn’t take any pictures,” said Amin. In fact, he spent two eventful weeks on this, his first visit to Israel — the land he was taught to despise.AhmedAmin is a Syrian businessman in his late 40s. He’s fluent in lightly accented English, and, on the day we spoke, he called me on a Skype number from an undisclosed location to protect his anonymity. “My wife and children are also out of Syria, but I still have family members I fear for back home.” Amin is a Sunni Muslim, as are some 75 percent of the Syrian people, a population that has been ruled by the dictatorial al-Assad family, Alawite Muslims, since 1970. Amin is one of the “lucky” Syrians. He managed to escape war-torn Syria relatively unscathed, but the vast majority of his countrymen have been far less fortunate. More than 11 million people, virtually half of Syria’s population of 23 million, have been displaced. Over 7 million are homeless inside Syria while another 4 million have fled to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Those numbers don’t include the more than 200,000 people who have been killed in the fighting — some gassed to death by chemical weapons. That figure includes 75,000 civilians and children. An additional 200,000 people languish in Syrian jails for opposing the al-Assad regime.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Using Our Free Will Effectively
Yonoson Rosenblum The image we carry of ourselves is key
Eytan Kobre The ripple effects of one Jew’s kiddush Sheim Shamayim
Living the High Life
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger It is exhilarating to matter, to be truly alive
It’s Time for Us to Speak Up
Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie We must speak out proudly for the values of Yiddishkeit
Kiruv Is Not Dead
Rabbi Meir Goldberg Do these sound like uninspired or closed students?
Frosting on the Cake
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman “Let’s not let a missing chocolate cake ruin our siyum!”
A Warm Corner in Flatbush
Yosef Zoimen It was a simple shul with a choshuve leader
Out of Control
Jacob L. Freedman “That’s illegal, Dr. Fine. I can’t have a part in this”
Song of Reckoning in the Skulener Court
Riki Goldstein “It’s awe-inspiring to watch the Rebbe sing this song”
“U’teshuvah, U’tefillah, U’tzedakah”
Riki Goldstein Throughout the Yamim Noraim, three words accompany us
The Rebbe Held His Gaze
Riki Goldstein A moment etched in Reb Dovid Werdyger’s memory forever
The Road Taken
Faigy Peritzman In the end it’s clear who really merits true happiness
Sincere Apology
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A heartfelt and complete apology can turn things around
Power Pack of Mercy
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz The 13 Attributes of Mercy are “an infinite treasure”
The Appraiser: Part II
D. Himy M.S. CCC-SLP, and Zivia Reischer “Eli needs to see people who struggled to achieve”