IDF soldiers
IDF soldiersIsrael news photo: IDF website

A host on the pan-Arab station Al-Jazeera shared surprising praise of Israel this weekend, praising the Israeli army’s restraint as compared to the Syrian army’s brutality.

Whilst chairing a discussion between pro- and anti-Syrian regime pundits, Faisal Al-Qassem asked of the Syrian army, “Why don’t they learn from the Israeli army, which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine [sic]? Didn’t Hezbollah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that the Israeli air force doesn’t bomb those areas?

“Why doesn’t the Syrian army respect premises of universities, schools, or inhabited neighborhoods?” he continued, in a video shared by the Breitbart website.

Al-Qassem, who is famous throughout the Arab world for his provocative style, also noted the differences between the way Israeli and western forces deal with violent demonstration, as opposed to the Syrian security forces.

“The Israeli army, if it wanted to break up a demonstration, would have used water cannons or rubber bullets, not rockets or explosive barrels as happens in Aleppo today,” he said.

Qassem went on to favorably compare the French occupation of Syria (between 1920 and 1943) to the current Syrian administration as well. “All Syrians remember that the French forces, when they occupied Syria, tried to avoid – when rebels entered mosques or schools, they stopped…. If people were to be asked, 'Who would you prefer, the current regime or the French?' I swear they would have preferred the French.”

The popular TV host shared similar sentiments on Facebook as well, posting a meme comparing the situation in Gaza to Homs, Syria, on his page.

The meme, entitled "Hey Activists: Is It Really 'Rights' You're Working For?', and which was accompanied by, noted that there are “no boycotts, no flotillas, no campus propaganda” in response to the deaths of at least 120,000 Syrians and the displacement of millions more, while in comparison Israel faces boycotts and anti-Israel campaigns on campus over its activity in Gaza – where, the image notes, the only “embargo” Israel has in place is a ban on weapons imports, and where the child obesity rate is 15%.

“Imagine: Israel is jealous of the preferential treatment received by the Assad regime… Even Israel is jealous of this international complicity with Assad,” Qassem sardonically.

Al-Qassem’s choice of Israel to compare favorably to the Assad regime in Syria was likely meant to be particularly insulting to Assad, due to Al-Jazeera’s usual portrayal of Israel as a brutal oppressor.