BREAKING: Israeli Woman Freed from Syria Sought to Erase Borders
האישה הישראלית ששוחררה מסוריה ביקשה למחוק גבולות. דינה כהן היא גיבורה ישראלית. במקום זאת, מתייחסים אליה כמו לבוגדת … או גרוע מכך.
Her name is under Israeli gag order. She deliberately crossed the Golan frontier into Syria. She did so as a protest against the very existence of borders. She is being roundly cursed by Israeli Arab-haters (of whom there are far too many) on social media. I have known her name all day. But I did not want to publish it because I wanted to respect her privacy. Also, the Netanyahu deal to provide millions of doses of Sputnik COVID vaccine to Syria seemed far more important. But what I’m now learning puts this woman in a different, and more compelling light.
She is Dina Cohen. From her Facebook profile, she appears Mizrahit and in her early 20s. She grew up in a Haredi family in Modiin Ilit. At some point, she rebelled and left the tradition. You can see from her picture that her manner of dress is no longer ultra-Orthodox. Barak Ravid reports in Axios that Dina learned Arabic and determined to cross Israel’s “border” into Gaza. She likely did so, as her Facebook page reveals, because she rejects the entire notion of borders. She wrote on her Facebook page:
I don’t recognize your lines
Not Green or Blue and not purple
Even a red line will not stop me.
The “Green Line” she mentions above refers to the 1949 armistice line which is supposed to separate Israel from Palestine. However, it was never recognized by Israel, which has no clear, mutually recognized border with Lebanon, Syria or Palestine. The Blue Line is the “border” separating Israel from Lebanon. It too is disputed as Israel has refused to return Shebaa Farms, which it continues to occupy.
Dina is clearly not just an idealist, but a poet and a dreamer. Someone who seeks joy in life and does so fearlessly. She displays a photograph of herself tumbling head over heels into a deep pool, writing:
I have a sort of habit of
Jumping into deep water
And after that, learning to swim.
Israeli media is portraying her in entirely self-serving and erroneous fashion as an “adventurer” who “is believed to be troubled.” Nonsense. If she is indeed ‘troubled,’ it is by the mess her own country has made of its standing in the Middle East. Why is it that a peace activist is viewed as “troubled” because she rejects the horrors and injustices their country inflicts on its neighbors? And why must legitimate protest against Israel’s refusal to establish borders with its neighbors be viewed using the demeaning term “adventurism?” This reporting is utter nonsense. Not to mention that the authorities have placed her under house arrest and are considering throwing her into prison for her temerity. This would be shameful. But as I’ve said to hasbarists who’ve advocated this outcome, by all means, go right ahead and create a martyr whom the world can adopt as it has adopted Greta Thunberg. We’ll even nominate for a Nobel Peace Prize.
What’s worse, her Facebook page is filled with disgusting slurs posted by angry Israelis. There is nothing worse in Israel’s hyper-patriotic society than a traitor. Someone who, as the British used to say, “goes native.” Who seeks to reach out to The Other. Who rebels against the narrative of Judeo-supremacy instilled in Israelis from the youngest age.
Yossi Melman also writes in Haaretz (Hebrew) that Cohen’s crossing of the Golan frontier undetected by Israeli forces closely monitoring the area, reveals a serious breakdown in security. If a young woman can cross this mountainous terrain undetected, then why couldn’t Syrian, Iranian or Hezbollah personnel could do the same in reverse?
It’s important to view her protest in the context of the current political climate in the Israeli north. The IDF just did a simulation in which it attacked 3,000 Hezbollah targets, preparing for war. Israel routinely flies missions attacking Syrian territory in which scores have been killed. There have already been two Israeli wars against Lebanon in this century. What can one person do to say No to this madness? That’s what Dina Cohen did.
When she failed to gain entrance to Gaza she decided she would cross the Golan frontier into Syria. Reports say she may have tried before to do this and failed. But two weeks ago she succeeded and made her way to a Syrian village. When local residents met her they didn’t know what to make of her. So they reported her to authorities, who also feared she was a spy. She was arrested.
Soon after she was detained, Israel sought to arrange for her return. Netanyahu, who has a close relationship with Putin, enlisted the Russian’s help and negotiations began. Syria wanted Israel to release two Israeli Druze who had been convicted of aiding and abetting Hezbollah, but the men refused Israel’s condition that they be exiled to Syria, rather than returning to their homes in the Golan. This disagreement delayed the final resolution.
Finally, Cohen was flown to Moscow presumably so that Putin could take appropriate credit for the prisoner exchange. Otherwise, why couldn’t they have sent her back through the border crossing at Quneitra, which is where she originally entered Syria? Two of Netanyahu’s senior national security officials flew to Moscow. They took her back to Israel. But unnlike in the Gilad Shalit case, there were no triumphal photo ops with Israel pols taking credit for gaining his freedom.
Why? I don’t have all the answers. But clearly Cohen is a rebel. She doesn’t recognize borders. She probably wants nothing to do with Bibi’s nationalist hyper-rhetoric. She is his worst nightmare. That may be why her name is under gag order and cannot be reported by Israeli media. This is a convenient way to keep an ‘inconvenient woman’ from having her say. Not to mention that the hate that fills the airwaves against her may endanger her physical safety or her life.
Dina Cohen is a hero. She crossed borders. She reached out to The Other. She put herself in danger for her beliefs, both in Syria and now back home in Israel. Do not permit anyone to trample on her good name.
26 thoughts on “BREAKING: Israeli Woman Freed from Syria Sought to Erase Borders – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Dina Cohen may be idealistic, but more so – she has shown disregard for the millions of dollars worth of damage she has cost Israel – not to mention possible ramifications that could have happened if a border incident had developed. Personally – I wish she would have stayed in Syria or gone wherever her free spirit takes her. Hope she serves some jail time for her illegal border crossing.
@ Sam: On the contrary, she has done immense good. She has indirectly allowed millions of Syrians to be vaccinated against COVID, thereby saving thousands of lives. And what damage has she done to Israel? It spent a few million dollars on these vaccines. Israel wastes billions of dollars every year on military and intelligence boondoggles, not to mention the millions or tens of millions wasted in corrupt deals.
Imprison her? Sure and turn her into an international celebrity like Greta Thunberg. That would be wonderful. I hope you get your wish and then have to live with the hero-martyr you created.
“allowed millions of Syrians to be vaccinated”? are you for real? she most likely allowed the Syrian armed forces to be vaccinated (righteous among the nations, mamesh…) and other cronies of the Murderer of Damascus… very funny feigned naiveté
@ Gabriel: Do you have any evidence to support your claim about Syrian vaccinations? Do you have any basis to know anything about Syria? And while you’re blasting the Murderer of Damascus, let’s case our gaze to the murderers of al Nusra whom Israel supported as they slashed and burned their way through Syria with their al-Qaeda comrades. Don’t hear a peep outa ya over those massacres facilitated by IDF weapons delivered to these Islamist killers.
What an amazing young woman !
Her case reminds me of Andrei Pshenichnikov that Richard wrote about 8 years ago. I wonder what became of him, last thing I could find is that he was released from Egyptian prison in 2015 and was returned to Israel. Would love to know what happened next, and also what’s going to happening to Dina in the future.
She moved to a country that has no interest in peace or discourse. The country (Syria) to which it moved, traded her as an object, for money. If Israel did not pay the price – the Syrians would leave it in prison. An innocent girl who fell into the hands of Syrians who are unable to appreciate kindness. To remind you, it is the Syrian regime that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their people.
@ yigal: Don’t make me laugh! A country that has no interest in peace? That would be Israel. You forget that it was your government, not Syria’s which rejected the offer to resolve the Golan dispute and create permanent peace with Syria.
She didn’t “move to” Syria. She crossed the frontier in a deliberate political protest. She did so as an Israeli.
As for trading her as an object, nonsense. Syria was ready to return her as soon as they detained her. The only delay was caused by Israeli Druze prisoners who refused to be exiled to Syria. As for treating returnees as objects, how about Bibi using the bones of Israeli soldiers for a photo op at the Kremlin as he did last yr?
Israel paid a price? What price? A few million dollars in COVID vaccines? Israel wastes far more every day feeding the maw of the national security state. Spare me your virtue-signalling.
As for slaughtering hundreds of thousands, Israel has slaughtered tens of thousands of Arabs since 1948. Look at your own sins before casting stones at others.
Israel has treated her neighbors across the border with kindness.
Israel treated hundreds of Syrians in Israeli hospitals who had been wounded in the Syrian civil war.
At the same time, Israel also dispensed stores of humanitarian aid to needy, displaced Arab villagers living on the Syrian Golan Heights.
And yes, Israel also provided small arms and cash to twelve different Syrian Golan groups that were defending their villages from ISIS.
Ah yes, Sepp
…just like those ingrates in Gaza who never thanked you for enlightening their darkness with your gentle phosphorous.
So hard to civi£i$€ these savages who respond by throwing stones like some slingless David tackling the benev(i)olence of their nuclear Goliath.
Keep on keeping on, Sepp. When you’ve finished digging your hole we’ll fill you in.
@ Sepp: Indeed it has: 2,300 murdered in Gaza in 2014. 1,100 murdered in Lebanon during the last invasion. 3,000 assassinated by the Mossad since 1948. That’s kindness Israel-style. Killing ’em with kindness.
Whenever Israel has “dispensed kindness” it has done so for pure geo-strategic benefit. Not for any humanitarian impulse. Those guns they provided to Syrian rebels were meant to destabilize the regime and further the disintegration of the country so that Israel could dominate the Syrian Golan as well as the occupied Israeli Golan. They did not give weapons to anyone out of the goodness of their heart as you claim.
“Those guns they provided to Syrian rebels were meant to destabilize the regime and further the disintegration of the country”.
You are woefully ignorant of the facts.
‘Would it [Israel] prefer for the Bashar al-Assad regime to continue or to fall from power? Israeli decision-makers seemingly preferred the continuation of Bashar’s regime to any of the alternatives on the table.’
Why? Because, ‘Bashar al-Asad and his father Hafiz before him had been reliable partners in the maintenance of absolute quiet and stability along the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights’, and because, ‘Israel was worried that chemical weapons might leak or fall into the hands of radical rebel groups, or would perhaps be handed over to Hizbullah by the Syrian regime, if Bashar al-Asad found himself with his back to the wall. This scenario was considered possible during the first years of the Syrian civil war.’
Israel’s decision ‘to exploit the window of opportunity opened by the Syrian civil war and carry on an “inter-war campaign”, was done so, ‘for the purpose of delaying the next confrontation with Iran and the Hizbullah, and Israel was ‘careful to emphasize repeatedly that its actions against Iran had no connection with the war in Syria between the regime and its opponents.
“Operation Good Neighbor”—Israel and the Rise and Fall of the “Southern Syria Region” (SSR) Author(s): Eyal Zisser Source: Israel Studies , Spring 2021, Vol. 26, No. 1, Israel Foreign Relations (Spring 2021), pp. 1-23 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/israelstudies.26.1.01
@ Sepp: This comment is hardly even worth a reply. Zisser is a member of the hasbaracademy who regularly publishes in Israel and America’s most right wing publications including Israel HaYom & Tablet. He supported Trump and supports the Saudi Arabia headchoppers.
His views on Syria are not credible or based on evidence. He merely makes a claim and doesn’t support it. In fact, Bashar al Assad had little control over his southern border with Israel during the Civil War. Israel and its Syrian Islamist allies exercised control there. And far more analysts and academics acknowledged that Israel’s aim was the fracture of Syria into cantons based on ethnicity, geography and religious sectarianism. It felt that if Assad was going to fall, at least it could guarantee its dominance of the southern border. This strategy is clear as day and has been espoused by numerous analysts. Zisser’s claims have been espoused by no one but him. Hence they are suspect.
Nor does this pass the smell test. There is no possible way that any of the parties intervening in Syria, whether they be Russia, Iran, Turkey or Israel can say that their interventions and physical attacks had “no connection with the war between the regime and its opponents.” Of course, they are all participants in the war and contribute to the devastation it has wrought. Zisser’s claims are disingenuous at best and ignore reality.
[comment deleted: this comment thread is not meant to be a promotion for the views of Israeli ideologues masquerading as academics. You are done in this thread.]
[comment deleted: comments must be directly related to the post topic and not to any other subject.]
reminds me of Aby Natan
Abie Nathan – In Memory
I have a feeling she’s mentally challanged .. Even though Im pro 2 states for to nations …I lived on the boarder of Israel Lebanon (Kiryat shmona) . Never once did I consider jumping over Gader Ha Tovah (the good fence) ..
@ Tagglit: I have a feeling (even stronger than yours) that you don’t know s*t.
You didn’t consider crossing the frontier because you were a conventional dweeb. She is a courageous hero.
“Dina is clearly not just an idealist, but a poet and a dreamer.”
Actually, I’d say she’s awakened from the Zionist dreamland and punched through to a solider reality, beyond the territorial/tribal ideological nets cast over us all at birth and that retard our evolution to full terrestrian conscientious humanity.
She has learned to think through the idiocies and exercise her conscience, the faculty that distinguishes us from the bestial flocks and herds.
Like others before her, she will pay the price. Vanunu comes to mind.
“Ideology is the prison of intellect” Me.
I don’t know where have you been in the last few years, but i do know that we made a deal with a mess murderer, in order to free someone with a strong sense of childish vocation. Bashar al-Assad will use the money to vaccinate his henchman. This is a fact-not a debate. I wonder how clueless one should be to actually think, that this girl saved people. I think its a great time for you Mr. Silverstein to go out to your backyard and learn how nature really works.
Have a great time in la la land. The place of made up instant heroes.
@ Noam: I do not permit misogyny here. Dina Cohen is not a “girl” nor is she “childish.” She is an adult woman and you will respect her whether you want to or not as long as you are here.
As for mass murderer, there are plenty of mass murderers in the world today. The US is one of them. Israel in its own small way is another. It can’t for various reasons murder on the scale the US can. But not for lack of trying.
Certainly Assad is a mass murderer, as are his Islamist opponents who can match him corpse for corpse. And some of those murders were also committed by Israel in Syria.
As for ideology being the prisoner of intellect, your right wing ideology is showing. Your intellect is nowhere to be found.
My “ideology” is justice. Yours is hate-based apartheid.
I am opposed to her politics, but I feel she is being wronged by the Israeli media portraying her as Crazy.
She is an extremist, no crazier than extremists on the other side or religious extremists.
nonetheless, the forced anonymity is probably better for her than the kind of fame she would get here.
@ Oryn Leaders: It is nonsense to call her “an extremist.” No worse than the “other side?” No worse than Kahane, Ben Gvir or Smotrich? Really? Don’t make me laugh.
She did not go to Syria seeking ‘anonymity.’ She sought to make her views known more widely. The only one who beneifts from putting her under house arrest as the cops have done, is Bibi. So the Israeli media can’t get her side, which would embarrass him.
No worse than Kahane, Ben Gvir or Smotrich. Yes, that’s exactly what I said and meant.
Laugh all you want – she broke the law and crossed the border into hostile territory, an act resulting in high costs to Israel, that could easily have cost her her life.
As to the second half – I agree.
It’s not for me or the authorities to decide for her that anonymity is better, even if this was the rational behind it, which it probably isn’t.
This behavior is part of the terrible process Israel is going through, a process where basic freedoms and rights that we have taken for granted are being threatened.
@ Oryn:Anyone who can claim that Dina Cohen’s “offense” is no different than those of Kahanist murderers is not only offensive, but lacking in any decency or credibility.
Do not comment further in this thread.
Her “act” resulted in absolutely minimal “costs” to Israel. $1.2-million for COVID vaccines is chump change compared to what Israel spends on its military-intelligence budget. What you really object to is that Israel did a good deed on behalf of Syrians. And in that you’re betraying your Arabophobia.
Your hypocrisy is further displayed when you bemoan the decline in basic freedoms in Israel. One of these is the right of free movement. Citizens in any democracy have the right to travel within or outside their home country, which Israel denies. So bemoan that loss of basic freedom, why don’t you? Till you do, spare us the belly aching.