Just before leaving for Syria, Jerusalem reporter Jonathan Spyer tells VOI’s Eve Harow why a local said to him, ‘Suria Rach,’ or ‘Syria is gone.’ These two video interviews are a must-watch for anyone interested in the current chaotic state of the Levant.
On ISIS: “I was actually personally acquainted with Steven Sotloff, one of the two journalists who were murdered by IS,” Spyer says in this in-depth interview with Voice of Israel that sheds light on the current chaotic situation. “Steven used to be in contact with me; I advised him on a number of occasions. I advised him with some contacts when he first wanted to go into Syria. I had actually learned of Steven’s captivity in August 2013, shortly after it took place. Of course, I was not at liberty to write about it, but I knew about it, so it didn’t come totally as a surprise. We knew – we know – what ISIS captivity means. Sadly, there are not many people who emerge from it.”
“This is a deadly and murderous organization.”
On living in Israel: “I didn’t come here [to Israel] for professional reasons, but if you can sort out the logistics, it’s a great jumping-off point into the region. You can go from Jerusalem to Amman – one of the places you can drive to – and then, from there, the region is open before you.”
On serving in the IDF in Gaza: “As a young soldier serving… at the tail end of the First Intifadah… it had an influence on me, which was that I realized for the first time just the depth of the rejection of the local population of us as Jews, and as Israelis, just the level of anger and hatred and rejection, and really just the hard reality of the conflict, rather than the easy sense, back then in the early 90s, that ‘nobody cares very much about ideology and religion anymore. Everybody’s getting ready to be a whole bunch of happy friends together.’ That was the international atmosphere at the time… but for those of us serving in the front-line units, it was a very different reality. It was a very different education we were receiving… but as it turns out, not a bad education.”
Watch the full videos here: