Balancing “Change” and “Prudence” will be an arduous process for President Obama

by Alex for Syria Comment

I thought of writing “an open letter to President Obama”. But I kept remembering that he has a Ph.D. From Harvard, and I don’t. For the first time in many long years, I do not feel the urge to lecture the US president about everything that he does not seem to understand about the Middle East.

Then again, President Obama’s first comments about Gaza were not very assuring. Immediate reactions on the Arab side were of two kinds. “I knew it, he is just like Bush”, or “Give him time, the man can not upset AIPAC from day one”

During his inaugural speech President Obama said: “our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint…”.

Besides prudence and temperance, the president often promised … “change”. Yet, his approach to the Middle East until this date, clearly constrained by the obvious sensitivities of the traditional allies represented by established Washington lobby groups, does not reflect a degree of fortitude necessary to change America’s shattered foreign policy in the Middle East.

Watching and reading coverage of the events in Gaza it was clear that when it comes to the Middle East, the United States has been systematically and successfully brainwashed. Aside from the few cautious and polite exceptions, the only politically correct analysis by American politicians or journalists about Gaza had to stay focused on the importance of “Israel’s security” to the United States. If anyone felt the need to express his or her concern about the thousands of Palestinian children and mothers killed or injured, “civilian casualties on both sides” was the proper way to express concern.

The audacity to equate Israel’s 3 civilian casualties to the 1335 Palestinian ones.

Those who clearly deviated from the strict guidelines of Israel’s numerous watchdogs were mostly the 80+ year old former officials who did not care anymore about their political future in the United States … 81 year old Zbigniew Brzezinski, and 85 year old President Carter.

To understand how far President Obama needs to “change”, compare his stated position on the events in Gaza with those of respected Jewish intellectuals like Uri Avneri, Gideon Levy, Henry Siegman

Arab moderate / Arab resistance Cold war

Aside from the difficulty of taking a more balanced approach to the Arab/Israeli conflict, President Obama will also need to reevaluate his country’s position on the various conflicts in the Middle East which are complicated by an obvious cold war between two Arab camps: “Arab Moderates” such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority facing Syria’s “resistance” camp that includes popular Palestinian and Lebanese factions and is reliably backed by the two large non Arab Muslim countries in the Middle East, Turkey and Iran, in addition to many Arabs countries like Algeria and Qatar, home to the CNN of the Arab world, Aljazeera.

Mubarak gets a hug from the Israeli prime minister, while Syria's Assad turns his back

Mubarak gets a hug from Olmet, Assad turns his back

Opinion polls have shown that the resistance camp represents the feelings and aspirations of the vast majority of “the Arab street”.

Besides the very active and influential Likud lobbyist group (falsely promoted as an American Jewish lobby), there is also a number of smaller lobby groups representing the interests of “Arab Moderates” in Washington (mainly Saudi Royal family and Lebanese M14 warlords) who are still actively working with their Neocon friends to convince the new President not to speak to Syria and Iran just like they continuously, and successfully, lobbied, and constrained, his predecessor for years and years.

Although there is a welcome new humble tone from President Obama, symbolic gestures like granting his first interview to a Saudi TV station Al-Arabiya, were already tried by the Bush administration.

It is widely known that Syria wants America’s help in negotiating a settlement with Israel that includes the full return of Syria’s occupied Golan Heights. But what is not recognized by many is that a prerequisite to a genuine friendship between the United states and Syria’s resistance camp will be for the United states to recognize the right of all countries in the Middle East (and not only Israel) to exist as friends of the United States, without forcing them to become “American puppets” like America’s current set of friends in the Arab world.

Will president Obama be willing to champion such an arrangement? Is the rest of old Washington ready for this “New Middle East”?

There is probably no going back to the old Middle East. President Bush’ war in Iraq, and Israel’s two unnecessary destructive wars in Lebanon (2006) and in Gaza (2008), in addition to all the other disasters that were produced in Tel Aviv or in Washington the past eight years, led to irreversible changes in the Arab world. Israel’s actions are driving more and more Arabs to believe in resistance as the only language Israel (and its supportive friends in the “international community”) can understand and respect.

I can not publish all the emails I have been receiving from secular, Christian or Muslim, highly educated Arab friends who wrote variations of the following: “they [the Europeans and Americans] are all S.O.B.’s, … we need to forget about them and build our strength to show them we are not insects they can kill whenever they wish”.

These are the secular intellectuals. You probably can guess how the younger and angrier ones now feel.

No one respects Israel anymore (many Arabs used to). No one is afraid of Israel and its friends anymore … very few still want to have peace with Israel before that country is treated for its dangerous psychological sicknesses.

Read the comments in Arab blogs for yourself. Angry Turkish Prime minister Erdogan, and not the “moderate” Hosni Mubarak, is everyone’s hero. Israel’s many friends in the media can not control blogs, they can not control YouTube, they can not control email attachments. Online, It is not Israel versus the “Arab terrorists”, it is Israel versus 1.3 billion Muslims.

The Middle East is in motion, and leaders of the “resistance” block who have been fighting for the steering wheel for the past few years, seem to be set to take exclusive hold of it. Next time there is an Israeli led (and Moderate Arab supported) slaughter fest in Gaza or in Lebanon, Mubarak may not be able to deliver and the “international community” may not be able to save him through another well attended summit in Sharm El-Shaeikh. Many believe he is already on his way to follow the Shah of Iran and President Sadat. Both of them American allies that were promoted and supported despite increasing internal opposition.

Sharm El-Sheikh Summits

The latest summit to be held at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, was hurriedly organized, and attended, by only (I’ll explain later) ten Arab moderate and Europeans leaders in order to reach a convenient closure to the bloody results of Israel’s “the boss has gone mad” strategy of dealing with “Hamas”, or “Palestinian people’s resistance” as the rest of the Arab world calls it.

The other reason for holding that summit was to give Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas the essential reinforcement they required.

How effective or necessary was the 2009 Sharm El-Sheikh Summit? Why did the leaders of Italy, Spain, England, Germany and France need to sit on that table?

Thirteen years ago, in 1996, there was an even more impressive Sharm El-Sheikh summit … 27 world leaders assembled on a short notice (after receiving last minute invitations from President Bill Clinton) to … again, support Israel against Hamas and to support Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the head of the Palestinian authority at the time, Yasser Arafat.

When the summit ended, CNN’s reporter concluded “… at its close, some doubted whether the hastily assembled meeting had any real substance.

Syria was invited, but refused to attend the 1996 Sharm Summit.

Isn’t it about time to recognize that, the number of “Arab moderate” and world leaders assembled not withstanding, all the regional “peace” initiatives that did not respect the legitimate concerns of the the Arab people did not go anywhere?

Throw the donkey a carrot:

The notion that visits to Arab countries by American or European leaders should be used (except in emergencies) as a rewarding tool for good behavior is something that President Obama might need to reconsider if he is genuine about change.

He made it clear that he intends to talk to his enemies and his adversaries. Yet, this week, the president dispatched Mr. George Mitchell, his new envoy to the Middle East to visit Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia … but not Syria.

Is it not prudent to talk to Syria? … or is the Obama administration hoping to again use future visits as potential carrots in exchange for a change in Syria’s behavior?

The real Cost of conflict in the Middle East

Can any of you guess what is the total cost of conflicts in the Middle East? Do you know how many Iraqi children are not in school because of war and sanctions? What would be Israel’s per household yearly dividend if peace breaks out?

India’s Strategic Foresight Group, a Bombay based think tank, came out with a new report on the Cost of Conflict in the Middle East. It is the first report of its kind, with 97 parameters to measure cost, moving beyond the usual economic and political costs and looking at social, human, environmental and other areas, covering Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, the broader Middle East region as well as a section on the costs borne by the International Community.

The report was prepared after a series of workshops with neutral agencies such as the governments of Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the first lady of Qatar

Here is a promotional video that shows some of the report’s depressing figures.

For those in Israel who think they are fooling the Arabs through perpetual negotiations that are designed to go nowhere, and for my Arab friends who want to wait another 50 years until they defeat Israel, the total cost of the conflicts of the Middle East since 1991 is estimated at … 12 Trillion dollars.

We all need President Obama to succeed as a peace maker. There is no other hope, but he can only succeed if he seeks peace among equals.

Comments (238)

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151. Alex said:

Thank you Jad!

It is nice to get such praise right after I squeezed my brain for half an hour to remember my motivation stuff from my grad school.


You have a point and I really wanted to say that my sequence of priorities earlier today was distorted in the sense that it did not allow for overlapping, concurrent “tasks” … fighting corruption can start (and it did start, very slowly) before “democracy”

But please don’t forget that “democracy” is an ideal (plus infinity) that we won’t reach .. and serious, massive corruption is still there in the most advanced democracies in the west.

Therefore, I hope you agree that at best, it will have to be a parallel approach.

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February 5th, 2009, 8:01 am


152. qunfuz said:

Not that it’s relevant, but I feel something has snapped in mind and heart over the last month. I’m trying to get beyond the snapping. I have found this helpful and inspiring, a Norman Finkelstein lecture on Ghandi and Palestine. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I agree with most of it. It’s in video and text form.

And Shai, I am prepared to talk to the 6%. I find Finkelstein’s concluding paragraph educative and humbling:

“The Caribbean poet Aimé Césaire once wrote, “There’s room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory.” Late in life, when his political horizons broadened out, Edward Said would often quote this line. We should make it our credo as well. We want to nurture a movement, not hatch a cult. The victory to which we aspire is inclusive, not exclusive; it is not at anyone’s expense. It is to be victorious without vanquishing. No one is a loser, and we all are gainers if together we stand by truth and justice. “I am not anti-English; I am not anti-British; I am not anti-any government,” Gandhi insisted, “but I am anti-untruth—anti-humbug, and anti-injustice.”(188) Shouldn’t we also say that we are not anti-Jewish, anti-Israel or, for that matter, anti-Zionist? The prize on which our eyes should be riveted is human rights, human dignity, human equality. What, really, is the point of ideological litmus tests such as, Are you now or have you ever been a Zionist? Indeed, it is Israel’s apologists who thrive on and cling to them, bogging down interlocutors in distracting and endless intellectual sideshows—What is a Jew? Are the Jews a nation? Don’t Jews have a right to national liberation? Shouldn’t we use a vocabulary that registers and resonates with the public conscience and the Jewish conscience, winning over the decent many while isolating the diehard few? Shouldn’t we instead be asking, Are you for or against ethnic cleansing, for or against torture, for or against house demolitions, for or against Jews-only roads and Jews-only settlements, for or against discriminatory laws? And if the answer comes, against, against and against, shouldn’t we then say, Keep your ideology, whatever it might be—there’s room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory?

May we all, seekers of truth, fighters for justice, yet live to join the people of Palestine at the rendezvous of victory.”

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February 5th, 2009, 10:26 am


153. Off the Wall said:

Dear All
Sorry for pulling once more a disappearing act. Things have been extremely busy around the office to a point that my effective hourly wage is by now below the minimum wage  . Furthermore, I still have not changed my decision of not saying much until I have something constructive and/or useful to say. At my age, with pressures abound, one runs the risk of turning into a bitter old depressed person and reflection is indeed helpful given the amount of re-thinking some of us here have had to go through regarding prospects for peace and non violence that we have advocated vociferously on SC for nearly a year now.
It is hard and perhaps futile to respond to every post that appeared on SC since my last engagement with Chris and AP. I have been reading SC posts to the extent possible, and although I have not responded, it seems that some discernable lines of thoughts are emerging that reflect our individual and collective responses to
(a) massive criminal violence (by israel),
(b) ubiquitous complicity in the crime (by the western and ironically self proclaimed “civilized world”), and
(c) unashamed treachery and treason (so called moderate arabs)
Our responses, and I am only talking about us who identify one way or another as being Arabs, have been typical and atypical. On the typical side, the responses range from very mildly identifying with the aggressor (e.g., Nafdik), rage and anger (all of us including Nafdik), frustration and disillusionment (dialogue camp including myself), and denial and blaming the victims (the few apologists for the so-called moderate arabs who manage to pop-up infrequently). Overall, these responses are akin to some of the responses rape and abuse victims and their immediate family members display to one degree or another.
Yet, what I found to be atypical here and on many other blogs, is the complete lack of defeatism, terror, and fear, which are also common responses to violent rape. It is very obvious that no one fears Israel anymore even as we all recognize that Israel’ repetitive failure to dictate its dominance through conventional (mostly illegal) weapons, coupled with its psychotic condition, will eventually drive it closer to exercising the nuclear option be it the final solution of ethnic cleansing, or the actual use of nuclear weapons against its neighbors. Yet, we, along with the entire Arab and Muslim populace, have exchanged fear of israel’s might with genuine, civilized disgust with israel and what it now stands for. Our rage is no longer the hot tempered anger or the depressed defeatism masquerading in triumphal rhetoric that dominated our responses from 1940s on, it is now a cold rage, grounded in deep humanitarian principles and constructed on demonstrable high moral ground. Most importantly, I find that as a collective we have abandoned hate, and replaced it with disgust and pity, this is a very healthy transition albeit a result of a painful trauma. I must say that we are proving more resilient than we tend to give ourselves credit for.
I have never been a strong advocate of the two states solution. Even when Shai managed to convince me that a separation period between israel and the Palestinians (its closest victims) may be beneficial, I only accepted such possibility because it seemed then that this is what the Palestinians wanted. Unfortunately, every day now, key advocates of the two states solution are recognizing that Israel never really had any intention of going through with any solution that did not involve the complete swallowing of the entirety of historical Palestine. Since Oslo, every action by “elected” Israeli official has been directed toward sabotaging the two states solution and as Tony Karon argued quite well, Israel has never been a true partner in making peace. It was frauds like martin indyk, dennis ross, thomas friedman and the ethically and morally bankrupt dershowtiz who tried to propagate the lies that the Palestinians were not true partners to hide their own complicity in aiding and abetting Israel’s double face diplomacy and continuing theft of Palestinian land and dignity. israel’s latest rabid tantrum, has now convinced many that Israel, in its current pathological composition, is incapable of being a partner in peace. The fact that only 6% of its citizens, are capable of introspection, is hardly an encouraging sign.
While touted by its apologists as victory, israel’s abject failure is demonstrated unambiguously by the fact that the old colonial masters now have to divert their navies from protecting international trade routes against pirates and refocus their efforts towards assisting their “beloved miracle” in enforcing the criminal blockade against the million and a half hungry traumatized Gazans. The knee jerk reaction of the masters, whom we now recognize to have established their strong legal concept of trying crimes against humanity in their national jurisdictions as being only applicable to “third world” dictators but not to the criminal citizen of the illegitimate child of their rape of our beloved Levant.
It is interesting and now universal fact that the moral decline and corruption of any politician in the west, including the US is very clearly rooted in their first conscious decision to blindly support israel’s policies and crimes. Whether it is fear of the intimidation tactics of organizations such as AIPAC, ADL, and their think-tanks, or greed for some campaign donations, the first morally bankrupt statement uttered by many politicians, including progressives, is one in blind support of israel. It ties their hands from that point on. One can argue, by circumstantial evidence, that the decline of ethics in modern american politics can be traced to the beginning of the blind support of israel. One could even venture to argue that efforts to maintain the power of the israel lobby is very influential in preventing a true anti-lobbying and ethical reforms not only in the us but also throughout western europe. Is this anti-semetic, not for a second. Just observe the moral duplicity of these politicians as they go after the tobacco lobby, the AARP, the oil lobby, even some venture to go after the AMA, but no one dares to go after AIPAC despite of the many infractions of it senior members, the criminal activities of its affiliate groups such as the ADL, and the blunt racism of its literature and attack dogs such as horrowtiz and pipes. It is in the interest of Jewish Americans to reclaim their rightful place as major contributors to the development of legal and ethical theories in the US, and to join hand with their true progressive roots to vocally oppose frauds like the above-listed psudo intellectuals, expose AIPAC and its european counterparts as right wing cults, and to join alternative advocacy groups in emphasizing Alex’s wonderful point:
“a prerequisite to a genuine friendship between the United states and Syria’s resistance camp will be for the United states to recognize the right of all countries in the Middle East (and not only Israel) to exist as friends of the United States, without forcing them to become “American puppets” like America’s current set of friends in the Arab world”
In this regard, I must applaud my friend Rumyal, and my friend Shai. From where I stand, they represent an endangered minority in Israel, a minority that is doing its best to remain ethically consistent. As much as I admire Alia and her intellect, I respectfully differ with her, at least with respect to my own enthusiasm about potential reconciliation no matter how far in the future it is. When (and not if) Israel is to recover from its birth defect psychosis, people like Rumyal, Shai, and the many unsung heroes working for peace and reconciliation in israel and here in the US will be much needed. These people will provide the ethical and moral foundation for a reborn society, in other words for the Israeli Baath :). From Shai’s own writing, i am confident that he is doing just that with his own doughters. This is not much different than my thinking and admiration of the younger Syrians such as Jad, Zenobia, Alex, and others on this site, they will one day do what my generation has so far failed to do, help bring progress to Syria.

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February 5th, 2009, 11:17 am


154. Alia said:

I wrote this earlier; it stayed under review since I misspelled my name 🙂 I am running out to work, I have no time to review it.


It is 4.00 am and am closing my books but I will respond to the two points that you address to me briefly:

[It’s stupid to think that there is something special about Israelis that makes them “evil”. In fact let me tell you this—if your personality structure in general takes you in the direction of supporting authoritative regimes, you are likely to have been in the 95% camp my friend.]

Israel is now an authoritative regime? We are being constantly told that you are a democracy!

First of all this personality structure that you are citing is popular stuff, possibly applicable in a small way to individual personalities; however it has no scientific value when it applies to populations.
In countries under dictatorship rules, it has been observed that following the first few years of the establishment of the dictatorship (6-10) years, the population tends to start subverting the authority…sometimes by as little as jokes that circulate ( The DDR for example had an astonishing culture of political satire). There is also a percentage of the population who will ally itself to the regime to obtain concrete benefits or power.
This specific fact, of authority slipping gradually on an individual and group basis, is what drives some of those regimes to go through a massive brutal action every few years in order to RE-subdue the population. Lenin’s purges had that additional effect. Israel is not more authoritative than Caucescu’s Roumania or Enver KhoXa’s Albania.

If you look at the spectrum of personality distribution within a culture, you expect to see the greatest variety in the more open societies, where freedom of movement, equal protection under the law, open information, social subsidies that make it possible for the individual to survive without absolutely belonging to the clan. All of that is available to people in Israel….
Altruistic behavior occurs both under authoritarian regimes and in open societies, but the price to pay for it is much higher under authoritarian regimes. If you insist on saying that you are a democracy then you have to take responsibility for what is happening around you. You Zionists have put the responsibility on all the German population for their silence…Can you compare Germany under Hitler with your country under your rulers?

There is something else going on in Israel to explain the 94% approval of the Genocide and if you say you belong to those 4-5% who did not and do not then may be you can gather some knowledge about your compatriots to enlighten us on what is going on with them.

2) I did not imply anything about you Rumyal but I did expect that Shai would do more because I have been hearing more from Shai. And what is there to do? WE all know what there is…Have I done more under similar circumstances. Yes I have but you will only have my word for it.

What is Evil Shai and Rumyal: How do you define it for others? For yourself? For your children?

It is is 4.00 am here so I will go …

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February 5th, 2009, 11:54 am


155. Off the Wall said:

Secular or Relieguous, They are both caluous with the Palestinians Lives (please check the last paragraph)

From Counterpunch

Religious Extremists Rising Through the Ranks
An IDF Jihad?


Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics.

In a process one military historian has termed the rapid “theologisation” of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the occupied Palestinian territories.

Their influence in shaping the army’s goals and methods is starting to be felt, say observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel’s religious extremist population.

“We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield,” said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

The new atmosphere was evident in the “excessive force” used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighbourhoods of Gaza were levelled.

“When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.”

The greater role of extremist religious groups in the army came to light last week when it emerged that the army rabbinate had handed out a booklet to soldiers preparing for the recent 22-day Gaza offensive.

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said the material contained messages “bordering on racist incitement against the Palestinian people” and might have encouraged soldiers to ignore international law.

The booklet quotes extensively from Shlomo Aviner, a far-right rabbi who heads a religious seminary in the Muslim quarter of East Jerusalem. He compares the Palestinians to the Philistines, the Biblical enemy of the Jews.

He advises: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers … This is a war on murderers.” He also cites a Biblical ban on “surrendering a single millimetre” of Greater Israel.

The booklet was approved by the army’s chief rabbi, Brig Gen Avichai Ronsky, who is reportedly determined to improve the army’s “combat values” after its failure to crush Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006.

Gen Ronsky was appointed three years ago in a move designed, according to the Israeli media, to placate hardline religious elements within the army and the settler community.

Gen Ronsky, himself a settler in the West Bank community of Itimar, near Nablus, is close to far-right groups. According to reports, he pays regular visits to jailed members of Jewish terror groups; he has offered his home to a settler who is under house arrest for wounding Palestinians; and he has introduced senior officers to a small group of extremist settlers who live among more than 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron.

He has also radically overhauled the rabbinate, which was originally founded to offer religious services and ensure religious soldiers were able to observe the sabbath and eat kosher meals in army canteens.

Over the past year the rabbinate has effectively taken over the role of the army’s education corps through its Jewish Awareness Department, which co-ordinates its activities with Elad, a settler organisation that is active in East Jerusalem.

In October, the Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed senior officer who accused the rabbinate of carrying out the religious and political “brainwashing” of troops.

Dr Levy said the army rabbinate’s power was growing as the ranks of religious soldiers swelled.

Breaking the Silence, a project run by soldiers seeking to expose the army’s behaviour against Palestinians, said the booklet handed out to troops in Gaza had originated among Hebron’s settlers.

“The document has been around since at least 2003,” said Mikhael Manekin, 29, one of the group’s directors and himself religiously observant. “But what is new is that the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.”

The power of the religious right in the army reflected wider social trends inside Israel, Dr Levy said. He pointed out that the rural cooperatives known as kibbutzim that were once home to Israel’s secular middle classes and produced the bulk of its officer corps had been on the wane since the early 1980s.

“The vacuum left by their gradual retreat from the army was filled by religious youngsters and by the children of the settlements. They now dominate in many branches of the army.”

According to figures cited in the Israeli media, more than one-third of all Israel’s combat soldiers are religious, as are more than 40 per cent of those graduating from officer courses.

The army has encouraged this trend by creating some two dozen hesder yeshivas, seminaries in which youths can combine Biblical studies with army service in separate religious units. Many of the yeshivas are based in the West Bank, where students are educated by the settlements’ extremist rabbis.

Ehud Barak, the defence minister, has rapidly expanded the programme, approving four yeshivas, three based in settlements, last summer. Another 10 are reportedly awaiting his approval.

Mr Manekin, however, warned against blaming the violence inflicted on Gaza’s civilians solely on the influence of religious extremists.

“The army is still run by the secular elites in Israel and they have always been reckless with regard to the safety of civilians when they wage war. Jewish nationalism that justifies Palestinian deaths is just as dangerous as religious extremism.”

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is

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February 5th, 2009, 12:45 pm


156. offended said:

Alex, maybe it’s just me, but I think the level of intellect on SC has risen quite remarkably in the last couple of days. I felt dizzy reading the last 20 comments or so. At the moment I can’t keep up with the prowess of some of the good brains here. So maybe it’s just me. I’ll come back later.

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February 5th, 2009, 1:13 pm


157. norman said:

An open letter to Bibi: Security or settlements?

Feb. 4, 2009
Binyamin Netanyahu, by all indications you will be the country’s next prime minister. That makes me wonder how secure Israel can be under your leadership. The biggest plank in your platform has been security, and security is our main problem. International Islamic fundamentalism, al-Qaida, the Iranian bomb, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas are all out to get us – not because we occupy the West Bank, but because we exist.

If you want to make the country safe in the face of this formidable alliance, I’m with you. But I have one big reservation. Is this really your goal, or is it a red herring for something else: namely, to hold on to the West Bank and perhaps regain Gaza? When you talk about crushing Hamas, it is the only conclusion I can draw. You surely know that if we crush Hamas, we have to stay in Gaza and run it. How long will we stay while they are sniping at us at every turn? And to get out will look like we’re running away. That’s the prescription for a long, insecure stay, one that only the settlement movement will applaud and exploit.

And after you crush Hamas, will you get down to business with Mahmoud Abbas for setting up a Palestinian state? All we have heard from you is that you won’t divide Jerusalem, won’t give the Palestinians more territory from which to shell us and won’t go back to the 1967 borders. Naturally, there is something to be said for all these positions, but not enough to give us security.

To be secure, we need the support of the American and European governments. They have to deal with fundamentalism, Iran and al-Qaida, and support us when we deal with Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. That support is increasingly vital, because, the Lebanese and Gaza campaigns demonstrated, fighting terrorists who operate from among civilian populations requires actions that are on the fringe of international law and sensibilities; and the pictures of destruction and dead bodies that TV cameras carry to populations the world over show Israel in a bad light.

While such military actions may be necessary for our survival, that will not prevent us from soon becoming a pariah state, like the old South Africa. Governments of people who see pictures of the results of our attacks need a justification for supporting us. Memories of the Holocaust no longer play among generations that did not witness it and have seen many other horrible things. The justification that friendly governments need is that we are a people seeking peace and willing to compromise to achieve it.

MOREOVER, AT a time of economic crisis, the threat of Islamic terrorism and growing Muslim populations in their own countries, the Western world will not long have the patience to wait while we drag our feet rather than compromise with the Palestinians and let them have a state. Rightly or wrongly, the West sees the absence of such a state as the core of its many Middle East problems, and will be increasingly reluctant to accept our maximalist and extremist views of what we deserve. They get enough extremism from the other side.

And before we know it, our various enemies will promise Western government to relieve their problems if only they lessen their support for us. Such seeds have been planted in the past, but the soil is more fertile today. This might even be in the offing with the Iranian bomb.

No one here is under the illusion that a two-state solution will be without dangers. We don’t know what the Palestinians ultimately want. Is it only a state as some say? Or do they want to destroy us, as Hamas openly declares? Will the refugees in the territories and elsewhere – 60 percent of the Palestinian people – adhere to the peace or keep seeking ways to turn the clock back to 1948? Will whoever comes to power be on the lookout for a moment of weakness to do us in?

Naturally we must negotiate meticulously to keep these dangers down and be vigilant after new borders are drawn. If the Palestinian state violates the agreement, we must, unlike over the past three years in Gaza, act to discourage them from doing it again. But if we are, as many believe, destined to live by our swords in any case, it is best we do so having the support of powerful friends. It will be tragic to lose the friends we now have through intransigence.

This is a time for consolidation, for salvaging what we can. Ariel Sharon spared us the settlement blocs. Ehud Olmert opened the door for exchanging territory in order to keep them. The vast majority of the settlers live in them. That makes compromise easier, if you are willing.

Bibi, as you embark on putting together a ruling coalition, keep the national interest in mind. Don’t include those who want the territories more than security and will slow things down to the detriment of the goodwill we have from important friends. In the end, we can have security or we can have settlements. But we can’t have them both.

The writer is a former adviser in the Ministry of Defense.

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February 5th, 2009, 3:38 pm


158. Shai said:

Alia, Qunfuz, OTW, Norman, Offended, others,

Please know that I still generate great strength (and yes, also hope) from Syria Comment, and from you. I also do not go into detail about things I do, and don’t do, outside of SC. But I promise you that I am active also outside of cyberspace, fighting for peace, and fighting to change my own society. I know I’m not doing enough. But I am doing.

Please keep talking to those “6 percent” of us. We need you for our own strength, and to keep demonstrating that the Arab side is, and has always been, waiting for us to change. This is important, because the psychological barriers (indeed the psychoses at hand) are tremendous.

We ARE starting at the grassroots level, and we WILL prevail.

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February 5th, 2009, 3:43 pm


159. Akbar Palace said:

We ARE starting at the grassroots level, and we WILL prevail.

Spoken like a true liberal (who haven’t accomplished a thing):

Israel is such that the best ones in position to deliver peace are not the “liberal leftists”, but rather the Right (Likud, basically).

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February 5th, 2009, 4:45 pm


160. Shai said:


If it was up to people like you, blacks would still be riding in the backs of buses. You’re truly pitiful…

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February 5th, 2009, 4:57 pm


161. Akbar Palace said:

Lincoln: Republican

George Wallace: Democrat

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February 5th, 2009, 5:15 pm


162. Alex said:


Donald Rumsfeld: Republican

Selling weapons to Saddam

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February 5th, 2009, 5:30 pm


163. Rumyal said:


It’s a little bit frustrating that you seem to always make these baseless assumptions about your interlocutor such as that I’m a Zionist, or that I claim that Israel is a democracy, or an autocracy, or that I agree that all Germans should have shouldered blame for the holocaust etc.

My “personality affiliation” argument was probably weak, I cannot really judge because I have no training whatsoever in psychology or sociology. So fine, forget about personally style. Let me really simplify it for you…. 95% of Israelis reportedly supported the operation. If you were born a Jew in Israel, regardless of what decides political views, you have a 1 in 20 chance of being on the “right side”. To me this indicates that whatever processes are in play in Israel (and I think you have a good grasp of what’s going on) it is not something that an individual has a good chance, or the tools, to resist. Therefore instead of demonizing Israelis as individuals I propose that people start understanding that a good chunk of those 95% are “victims of history” too and together with the Palestinians need to be salvaged. I anticipate you would say that I’m equating the suffering the victims of the occupation and its perpetrators so let me stress that I’m not. I’m just looking at the mass of people in one unit of geography and pity all of them and wish to see a change, one that Qunfuz has so beautifully referred to as encompassing everybody at the rendezvous of victory.

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February 5th, 2009, 5:34 pm


164. offended said:

Shai, as always, it’s a pleasure and the source for a glimmer of hope to read yours (and Rumyal’s) comments on SC. As far as I am concerned, you’re more than welcome to comment here as much as you please. I haven’t had the chance to interact with Israeli civlians before I came across SC. And now I find the experience productive and informative. Whether we’re looking for 1 state solution, 2 states solution or 100 states solution, we should start somewhere and when we end up there we should not be bitter about the history. I don’t have the urge for revenge. I am not vindictive. My only concern is justice for the Palestinian people and the hope for lasting peace and to bring an end to this conflict. I am not looking for a fued, I’ve shed my tribal dispositions long time ago.

Looking forward to read more of your comments….

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February 5th, 2009, 5:40 pm


165. Alex said:


Israelis are not born this way, but they are “victims” of their leaders and their influential friends outside Israel, not knowing where to stop… they started trying to ensure their people are secure, but went much further … by now they are nothing short of a serious threat to their surrounding.

But they still think their army should be called the IDF.

AIPAC is happy it can drag any presidential candidate to come pay his respects (and assure them he is for a united Jerusalem …etc). If they wanted to ensure no US president will sell Israel to the Saudis, by now they are in the business of playing candidates against each other for who will go even further in supporting Israel …

They helped push the United states to go to war in Iraq (check the positions of those who are closely associated with AIPAC on the Iraq war)

Or take for example … it was supposed to be a watchdog that ensures there is no anti-semitic influence in hte media and the way it reports on the Middle East .. instad they went much further than that .. they bully any editor or journalist or politician or author (or Norwegian doctor in Gaza) who dares to not be fully pro-Israel.

The have problems with Larry King giving Carter a pass!

What do you expect when Israelis and their supporters do not understand how destructive this “power” is to their collective wisdom?

What kind of person can learn while shutting up anyone who does not agree with him 100%?

This reminds me of old style Communists in Syria who actually believed all their party propaganda and ideology.

Or … religious fundamentalists who are sure God is on their side.

I am hoping American Jews will realize that Israel’s best interests lie in the moderate use of its power… in all its forms.

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February 5th, 2009, 6:15 pm


166. Alia said:


Interesting we cannot even agree on a form of interaction you and I, let alone the content.

I am sorry you find my assumptions frustrating, but I do not agree with you that they are baseless.

If you talk authoritative regime in this context, I assume you are referring to your country’s since you have been identified in this forum as the other Israeli and this is the topic at hand now. ( So what is it authoritative or a democracy finally ?)

I have not been aware that you have abandonned Zionism as an ideology etc…you may well have and I missed it. I never heard you respond to the issue of the German guilt which has been on and off around, to dissociate yourself from it, I may have missed that. That would have been wonderful, equally wonderful would be to hear how you arrived to your emotional and intellectual liberation on these matters.

On the other hand, you find it OK to anticipate what I would answer you ! and to respond to me …before I do and of course primarily to sabotage any exchange by starting with accusations instead of clarifications.

Anyway, it is alright- I had no positive expectation from this exchange and I am not waiting for any rendez-vous with history ( lovely expression though )-

I spent a part of my evening studying an interview with the son of the Doctor of Death (Aribert Heim), the Nazi doctor who managed to escape and live not really even that much in incognito in Cairo until his death in 1992, while the world was looking for him in South America. This made the news last night…I am not sure if the interview is available in English but the whole thing is so miserably tragic, thought provoking and instructive and of course intimately tied to our subject.

For those interested in watching the interview in German:

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February 5th, 2009, 6:19 pm


167. Akbar Palace said:

Been there, Done that


Donald Rumsfeld: Republican

Selling weapons to Saddam


You also need a Youtube video showing the “twisted” and “insidious” overtures of the US government and al-Queda as well as some early meetings between Israel and Hamas.

I know the anti-Israel crowd just loves to point out these relationships out of context in order to claim some sort hypocrisy.

There isn’t any.

The US has an extensive record helping Muslim/Arab-based movements. Bosnia was one (against the Serbs), Afghanistan (against the Soviets), and Iraq (against Iran) are three examples. And, of course, Israel tried to make accomodation with Hamas at the very beginning. Of course, Arabists accuse the GOI of “creating” Hamas (sure)!

In every case, the hand of friendship was bitten by the those we tried to help. In the case of Bosnia and its Muslims, it didn’t buy anything.

Saddam used American friendship to kill his own people and start wars, al-Queda turned on the US and the West, and Hamas couldn’t deal with the Joos.

Personally, I’m glad that at least the US tried to befriend these groups, because at least now we have an excuse the next time a liberal pinhead blames the US for not trying to “dialogue” with the enemy (as if we never did).

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February 5th, 2009, 6:42 pm


168. Alex said:


The US tried to befriedn Al-Qaeda?
The US FORMED Al-Qaeda as a stupid, extreme fighting force to die on its behalf fighting the Soviets.

The US tried to befriend Saddam? … Which idiot would try to befirend Saddam?

The US USED Iraqi young soldiers who died trying to fight Ira, the new perceived threat to US interests int eh Gulf.

The problem is that you either believe, or want us to believe that the US always acts out of good intentions.

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February 5th, 2009, 6:57 pm


169. Rumyal said:


I feel that this exchange is degenerating, so I will limit myself to what you have phrased specifically as questions to me.

>>> Alia: So what is it authoritative or a democracy finally?

I don’t know. I don’t think that a clear criteria of classification was central to anything that I said. Here are some stakes in the ground though:
1) Israel is not a democracy since it has the Palestinians under occupation and they are not represented. Arabs inside Israel are discriminated against.
2) Israel does offer a large degree of freedom of expression and organization inside Israeli boundaries, including Arabs and post-Zionists.
3) Israel has a very thorough system of indoctrination for the Jewish population.

>>> Alia: I have not been aware that you have abandoned Zionism as an ideology etc…you may well have and I missed it.

I said a few times that Zionism was a mistake. However what is of interest to me at this point is that (a) almost all Israelis are identifying themselves as Zionists and (b) they would need to find a way to live peacefully and equitably with the Palestinians. So you could either ask them to say “Zionism is Apartheid and I reject it” or you can try to redefine the meaning of the word such that it no longer means any sort of supremacy or privilege. I had a discussion a couple of weeks ago with Joe M about how the original goals of Zionism could be fulfilled in a one-state solution and I don’t think it’s far-fetched. Basically what is required is that the state will recognize that it will serve as a shelter for Jews (and potentially other people too) under persecution and will let them have completely autonomous cultural and religious life. This is not what “Zionism” means today but I would love to see Zionism redefined in these terms and then I will proudly call myself “a Zionist”.

>>> Alia: never heard you respond to the issue of the German guilt which has been on and off around, to dissociate yourself from it, I may have missed that.

I do not hold individual Germans accountable for the Holocaust but I do understand their government’s desire to pay reparations to victims as a token of collective regret. Somebody needs to compensate the victims (fiscally and symbolically) and that seems like something that is best left to the government. Israel will eventually do the same with the Palestinian refugees. Jews from Arab countries will have to be compensated too somehow for their loses (in the cases they left involuntarily or were under threat).

>>> Alia: That would have been wonderful, equally wonderful would be to hear how you arrived to your emotional and intellectual liberation on these matters.

Living away from Israel… I doubt that I would have reached the same opinions had I stayed in the pressure cooker…

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February 5th, 2009, 7:08 pm


170. Akbar Palace said:

The US FORMED Al-Qaeda as a stupid, extreme fighting force to die on its behalf fighting the Soviets.


The US aided and armed an already “formed” group of Islamists to fight against Soviet influence in Afghanistan. Of course, you’ll spin unsubstantiated conspiracies like 9-11 and AIPAC etc, etc.

Did our helping the Islamist win us any favor among them? Nope!

Draw your own conclusions.

The US tried to befriend Saddam? … Which idiot would try to befirend Saddam?

The same idiots that tried befriending Arafat, Abbas, Syria, Hamas, and Iran.

Gee Alex, how do tell a good dictator from another? Is there a test?

The US USED Iraqi young soldiers who died trying to fight Ira, the new perceived threat to US interests int eh Gulf.

Welcome to the real world. Maybe the US uses Israeli young to fight and test the latest US-made technology.

The problem is that you either believe, or want us to believe that the US always acts out of good intentions.

Not at all Alex. Every country has its selfish interests: the US, France, Great Britain, Syria, Israel, etc. My point is, many in the Arab world who we’ve helped either turned on us or didn’t help us to win any favors. Something to think about.

Israel has “turned” on the US by spying. But Israel has yet to fly aircraft into American skyscrapers, bomb US facilities in the ME, or gone to war against us.

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February 5th, 2009, 9:22 pm


171. norman said:

القوات الإسرائيلية تعتدي بالضرب على ركاب سفينة “الاخوة” وبينهم المطران كبوجي الاخبار السياسية

اللجنة المنظمة للرحلة: الاتصالات مقطوعة والمساعدات الإنسانية بدأت بالتلف

علمت سيريانيوز أن القوات الإسرائيلية اعتدت بالضرب على جميع الموجودين على متن سفينة “الأخوة” اللبنانية ومن بينهم مطران القدس الموجود في المنفى السوري الجنسية هيلاريون كبوجي.

وكانت القوات الإسرائيلية داهمت سفينة “الأخوة” اللبنانية قبالة غزة حيث تنقل السفينة إمدادات دوائية وغذائية وألعاب لصالح أهل غزة.

وقال عضو لجنة المبادرة الوطنية لكسر الحصار على غزة المنظمة للرحلة, عماد عيسى لـسيريانيوز إن “القوات لإسرائيلية أسرت السفينة بمن فيها واعتدت عليهم بالضرب, ومن بينهم المطران كبوجي البالغ من العمر 88 عاما, واقتادوهم إلى ميناء أشدود للتحقيق معهم”.

وعن صحة كابوتشي أوضح العيسى “لم يتسن لنا الاطمئنان عن صحته نتيجة انقطاع كافة الاتصالات مع ركاب السفينة بسبب تحطيم إسرائيل لكل أجهزة الاتصال الموجودة على متن السفينة”.

ويشار إلى أن المطران كبوجي من مواليد محافظة حلب وينتمي للطائفة الكاثوليكية وعاش في سورية ما يقارب 40 سنة قبل أن يصبح مطرانا للقدس حيث عاش في القدس بعد انتخابه إلى أن تم اعتقاله بتهمة دعم المقاومة بالسلاح حيث سجن لمدة أربعة سنوات حتى تدخلت الفاتياكان وأفرج عنه ليعيش في منفاه القسري في العاصمة الايطالية روما ولا يزال كبوجي يعتبر نفسه المطران الشرعي للقدس.

وحلقت المروحيات العسكرية الإسرائيلية فوق السفينة عند اقترابها من شواطئ قطاع غزة, كما أطلقت سفن عسكرية إسرائيلية النار عليها قبل أن تداهمها القوات الإسرائيلية وتقتادها بمن فيها.

وكانت سفينة “الأخوة” انطلقت من لبنان نهاية الشهر الماضي متجهة على قبرص ثم غزة لكسر الحصار المفروض عليها من قبل إسرائيل منذ عام 2007.

وقال العيسى إنه “يوجد 18 شخصا على متن السفينة، تسعة من أعضاء التضامن مع غزة وتسعة أفراد من طاقم السفينة”، مشيرا إلى “وجود شخصيات دينية مهمة كالمطران كبوجي والشيخ الإسلامي مصطفى داوود رئيس رابطة العلماء المسلمين في فلسطين إضافة إلى إعلاميين ونشطاء حقوقيين منهم ناشطة ايرلندية انضمت إلى المجموعة”.

ونوه العيسى عن وجود “مشكلة خطيرة” وهي أن “السفينة تحمل على متنها 1500 وحدة بلازما لزمر الدم وأنه نتيجة قطع إسرائيل لكهرباء السفينة أتلفت 500 وحدة وأصبحت غير صالحة للاستخدام والتي كان من المقرر توجهيها لدعم إخواننا في غزة”.

وتفيد تقارير صحفية أن “القوات الإسرائيلية ستحقق مع شخصيتين من ركاب السفينة دون أن تحدد هويتهما حيث يرفض الإسرائيليون الحديث عن الموضوع”.

واستنكر العيسى “تصرف إسرائيل الوحشي وخرقها للقانون الدولي”, داعيا “المحافل الدولية والجهات المعنية بحقوق الإنسان لحماية السفينة ومن على متنها وتأمين وصولها بسلام إلى غزة لإيصال المساعدات الإنسانية لأهالي غزة المحاصرين”.

كما أعرب عن أمله بأن تكون هذه الحادثة سببا لكسر الحصار عن غزة.

من جانبها صرحت وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية بأنها “لن تسمح بدخول أي سفينة عربية ولا حتى أجنبية لقطاع غزة”.

وأدانت سورية بشدة عملية القرصنة البحرية الإسرائيلية إزاء سفينة الأخوة اللبنانية، ودعت إلى التحرك الفوري لإطلاق سراح جميع محتجزي السفينة.

مها القحف – سيريانيوز

2009-02-05 17:16:49

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February 5th, 2009, 9:26 pm


172. norman said:

Click to Print
House delegation meets with Assad
February 5, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A U.S. House of Representatives delegation met with the Syrian president and discussed improving ties.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) cast the meeting with Bashar Assad in Cairo as part of the Obama administration’s bid to improve relations with the Arab world. Bush administration policy was to isolate Syria and not to encourage Israel-Syria peace talks.

“Every meeting I believe with a foreign leader is part of the world’s opportunity for peace and prosperity,” said Giffords Wednesday in a conference call with Jewish and Arizona journalists. She one of seven members of the delegation led by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chairman of the terrorism subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. “Soft power diplomacy is a form of currency and buys a lot of goodwill,” she added.

Giffords said Assad expressed hope for a rollback of the 2003 Syria Accountability Act, the mechanism Bush used to reduce trade between the two nations. Giffords said the delegation pressed Assad on meeting its provisions, including an end to backing for anti-Israel terrorist groups.

She said the visit cleared the way for another meeting to take place within the next few weeks between Assad and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Berman’s spokesmen would not confirm or deny the likelihood of such a visit.

Two members of the delegation are Jewish: Giffords and Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.).

The delegation also met with leaders in Israel, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as NATO officials in Brussels.

Click to Print

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February 5th, 2009, 9:28 pm


173. Alia said:


[Israel has “turned” on the US by spying. But Israel has yet to fly aircraft into American skyscrapers, bomb US facilities in the ME, or gone to war against us}

The USS Liberty

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February 5th, 2009, 10:02 pm


174. Alia said:


That was very helpful thank you.

You may have to settle for a different appellation than Zionism since neither the original nor the present day definitions reflect what you have in mind. If the old one had been indeed restricted to “a place of refuge for the Jews” we would not be having this discussion.

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February 5th, 2009, 10:06 pm


175. SimoHurtta said:

If you were born a Jew in Israel, regardless of what decides political views, you have a 1 in 20 chance of being on the “right side”. To me this indicates that whatever processes are in play in Israel (and I think you have a good grasp of what’s going on) it is not something that an individual has a good chance, or the tools, to resist. Therefore instead of demonizing Israelis as individuals I propose that people start understanding that a good chunk of those 95% are “victims of history” too and together with the Palestinians need to be salvaged.

Well, well. How many times my opinions have here been zeroed by Israeli peace doves and war hawks by the “he is a German” strategy when I had before reviled that my mother from Austria. It has not “helped” to explain that I was born long after WW2 and have lived only together little over one year (several visits) in Austria as a young child. Also it did not “help” when I said that no one of my relatives was an party member. My Austrian relatives only floated along in the “history” like most did. Still I am demanded by Jews (from the left to extreme right) to bear the quilt of what Nazis did even I had nothing to do with those events.

You Israeli peace doves turn the discussion to “seriously” to that “personal level” or is it a diversion strategy to control the discussion? When politics in a country and geopolitics in a region is discussed we speak normally on “general level” by pointing out some symptoms of the severe sickness/problems Israel (or some other country) has. Naturally everybody knows that in Israel are multiple views, some even peaceful and against the ruling elite, but it is also known that the tiny peace side has a relative loud moral voice but not any real political power.

What if in 1936-39 some Germans opposition members had endlessly been debating on internet (if then had been such) with Danes, Polish, French, Belgians etc with the message that not all Germans are bad, we can live together, etc. Some of the “receivers” would have believed those undoubtedly honestly said views, most not when they watched and did read what the country was doing. But these opposition members did not do (hypothetically) what was mostly needed = tried to change the mental climate and tried to bring to power a more rational government.

Does anybody call this latest news a “healthy” sign of Israel’s Jewish democracy
Elections 2009 / Netanyahu: Lieberman campaign against Israeli Arabs is ‘legitimate’
PM hopeful says far-right rival’s ‘No citizenship without loyalty’ campaign like bill Likud already proposed.

If that bill is put into practice shouldn’t then every Jews loyalty to the state which passport they hold be tested around the world?

Surely the Israeli rational peace doves condemn such a law, but they have no political power to stop it. So what is in the end the benefit them condemning such a racist bill suggestion on internet blogs? Surely a demonstration or two in front of the Knesset would be more productive than 100 condemning comments by them on SC.

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February 6th, 2009, 12:05 am


176. offended said:

Obama during on speech about religious tolerance:

“We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The Torah commands, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.” In Islam, there is a hadith that reads “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule—the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.”

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February 6th, 2009, 12:33 am


177. Alex said:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — One week after the U.S. Army announced record suicide rates among its soldiers last year, the service is worried about a spike in possible suicides in the new year.
If reports of suicides are confirmed, more soldiers will have taken their lives in January than died in combat.

If reports of suicides are confirmed, more soldiers will have taken their lives in January than died in combat.

The Army said 24 soldiers are believed to have committed suicide in January alone — six times as many as killed themselves in January 2008, according to statistics released Thursday.

The Army said it already has confirmed seven suicides, with 17 additional cases pending that it believes investigators will confirm as suicides for January.

If those prove true, more soldiers will have killed themselves than died in combat last month. According to Pentagon statistics, there were 16 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq in January.

“This is terrifying,” an Army official said. “We do not know what is going on.”

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February 6th, 2009, 12:34 am


179. offended said:

Israel is percieved as badly as North Korea.

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February 6th, 2009, 12:53 am


180. Rumyal said:


Good points. Nobody is perfect.

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February 6th, 2009, 12:58 am


181. jad said:

A recommendation by Mr. Jihad Alkhazen from Alhayat.
It is worth to read.

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February 6th, 2009, 1:12 am


182. majedkhaldoun said:

Israel committed piracy,provoking a response,which when it comes ,Israel will claim it is an excuse to attack,this is evil,that is why the world should……… the israeli,

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February 6th, 2009, 1:35 am


183. norman said:


I for one will always have faith in the inner good of Jewish people , we just have to work together to make it clear and show it to the other Arabs and especially to the Palestinians , The future is sad for all if we do not get an agreement.

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February 6th, 2009, 3:06 am


184. Akbar Palace said:

[Israel has “turned” on the US by spying. But Israel has yet to fly aircraft into American skyscrapers, bomb US facilities in the ME, or gone to war against us}

The USS Liberty


You forgot to discuss the extreme differences:

Whereas one attack was deliberate, killing 3 thousand civilians, the other attack was an accident during a war killing 34 Navy personnel.

Also, another tiny difference…the GOI apologized. Imagine that!

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February 6th, 2009, 4:03 am


185. Off the Wall said:

Debated in Israel, but not in the US

From, this is a very interesting story that has some relevance to the one state solution

Controversial Bestseller Shakes the Foundation of the Israeli State
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Posted on January 28, 2009, Printed on February 6, 2009

What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same “children of Israel” described in the Old Testament?

And what if most modern Israelis aren’t descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn’t “return” to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia?

What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora — the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews’ exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh’s clutches — is all wrong?

That’s the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso.

Its thesis has ramifications that go far beyond some antediluvian academic debate. Few modern conflicts are as attached to ancient history as that decades-long cycle of bloodletting between Israelis and Palestinians. Each group lays claim to the same scrap of land — holy in all three of the world’s major Abrahamic religions — based on long-standing ties to that chunk of earth and national identities formed over long periods of time. There’s probably no other place on Earth where the present is as intimately tied to the ancient.

Central to the ideology of Zionism is the tale — familiar to all Jewish families — of exile, oppression, redemption and return. Booted from their kingdom, the “Jewish people” — sons and daughters of ancient Judea — wandered the earth, rootless, where they faced cruel suppression from all corners — from being forced to toil in slavery under the Egyptians, to the Spanish massacres of the 14th century and Russian pogroms of the 19th, through to the horrors of the Third Reich.

This view of history animates all Zionists, but none more so than the influential but reactionary minority — in the United States as well as Israel — who believe that God bestowed a “Greater Israel” — one that encompasses the modern state as well as the Occupied Territories — on the Jewish people, and who resist any effort to create a Palestinian state on biblical grounds.

Inventing a People?

Zand’s central argument is that the Romans didn’t expel whole nations from their territories. Zand estimates that perhaps 10,000 ancient Judeans were vanquished during the Roman wars, and the remaining inhabitants of ancient Judea remained, converting to Islam and assimilating with their conquerors when Arabs subjugated the area. They became the progenitors of today’s Palestinian Arabs, many of whom now live as refugees who were exiled from their homeland during the 20th century.

As Israeli journalist Tom Segev summarized, in a review of the book in Ha’aretz:

There never was a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened — hence there was no return. Zand rejects most of the stories of national-identity formation in the Bible, including the exodus from Egypt and, most satisfactorily, the horrors of the conquest under Joshua.
But this begs the question: if the ancient people of Judea weren’t expelled en masse, then how did it come to pass that Jewish people are scattered across the world? According to Zand, who offers detailed histories of several groups within what is conventionally known as the Jewish Diaspora, some were Jews who emigrated of their own volition, and many more were later converts to Judaism. Contrary to popular belief, Zand argues that Judaism was an evangelical religion that actively sought out new adherents during its formative period.

This narrative has huge significance in terms of Israel’s national identity. If Judaism is a religion, rather than “a people” descended from a dispersed nation, then it brings into question the central justification for the state of Israel remaining a “Jewish state.”

And that brings us to Zand’s second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation — the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished “people” — was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. Segev says, “It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

Zand Gets Slammed; Do His Arguments Stand Up?

The ramifications of Zand’s argument are far-reaching; “the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendants,” he told Ha’aretz. Zand argues that Israel should be a state in which all of the inhabitants of what was once “British Palestine” share the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship, rather than maintaining it as a “Jewish and democratic” state, as it’s now identified.

Predictably, Zand was pilloried according to the time-tested formula. Ami Isseroff, writing on ZioNation, the Zionism-Israel blog, invoked the customary Holocaust imagery, accusing Zand of offering a “final solution to the Jewish problem,” one in which “No auto da fe is required, no charging Cossacks are needed, no gas chambers, no smelly crematoria.” Another feverish ideologue called Zand’s work “another manifestation of mental disorder in the extreme academic Left in Israel.”

That kind of overheated rhetoric is a standard straw man in the endless roil of discourse over Israel and the Palestinians, and is easily dismissed. But more serious criticism also greeted Zand’s work. In a widely read critical review of Zand’s work, Israel Bartal, dean of humanities at the Hebrew University, slammed the author’s second assertion — that Zionist academics had suppressed the true history of Judaism’s spread through emigration and conversion in favor of a history that would give legitimacy to the quest for a Jewish state.

Bartal raised important questions about Zand’s methodology and pointed out what appears to be some sloppy details in the book. But, interestingly, in defending Israel’s academic community, Bartal supported Zand’s more consequential thesis, writing, “Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions.” Bartal added: “no historian of the Jewish national movement has ever really believed that the origins of the Jews are ethnically and biologically ‘pure.’ ” He noted that “[i]mportant groups in the [Zionist] movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely.”

“As far as I can discern,” Bartal wrote, “the book contains not even one idea that has not been presented” in previous historical studies. Segev added that “Zand did not invent [his] thesis; 30 years before the Declaration of Independence, it was espoused by David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and others.”

One can reasonably argue that this ancient myth of a Jewish nation exiled until its 20th century return is of little consequence; whether the Jewish people share a common genetic ancestry or are a far-flung collection of people who share the same faith, a common national identity has in fact developed over the centuries. But Zand’s central contention stands, and has some significant implications for the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Changing the Conversation?

The primary reason it’s so difficult to discuss the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the remarkably effective job supporters of Israel’s control of the Occupied Territories — including Gaza, still under de facto occupation — have done equating support for Palestinian self-determination with a desire to see the destruction of Israel. It effectively conflates any advocacy of Palestinian rights with the specter of Jewish extermination.

That’s certainly been the case with arguments for a single-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until recent years, advocating a “single-state” solution — a binational state where all residents of what are today Israel and the Occupied Territories share the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship — was a relatively mainstream position to take. In fact, it was one of several competing plans considered by the United Nations when it created the state of Israel in the 1940s.

But the idea of a single, binational state has more recently been marginalized — dismissed as an attempt to destroy Israel literally and physically, rather than as an ethnic and religious-based political entity with a population of second-class Arab citizens and the legacy of responsibility for world’s longest-standing refugee population.

A logical conclusion of Zand’s work exposing Israel’s founding mythology may be the restoration of the idea of a one-state solution to a legitimate place in the debate over this contentious region. After all, while it muddies the waters in one sense — raising ancient, biblical questions about just who the “children of Israel” really are — in another sense, it hints at the commonalities that exist between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Both groups lay claim to the same crust of earth, both have faced historic repression and displacement and both hold dear the idea that they should have a “right of return.”

And if both groups in fact share common biblical ties, then it begs the question of why the entirety of what was Palestine under the British mandate should remain a refuge for people of one religion instead of being a country in which Jews and Arabs are guaranteed equal protection — equal protection under the laws of a state whose legitimacy would never again be open to question.

Joshua Holland is an AlterNet staff writer.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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February 6th, 2009, 9:28 am


186. Shai said:


The problem is, that even if Zand’s theses are correct, I can’t see most Israelis, or even a small part, ready to seriously discuss them. The implications would be perceived as a huge threat to most Israelis, and therefore won’t be considered. The problem, of course, is that if Israelis have a means to protect their mostly-Jewish state (assuming a two-state solution could ever be found, even if temporarily), they may feel secured enough not to contemplate theories that reject the notion of a “Jewish right” to this land, any more than a Palestinian one.

In Israel, unfortunately, there is still far too great a mixture of “church-and-state”, the religious parties are still far too strong, and I can’t see their spiritual leaders open enough to consider these theories, and their ramifications. If we ever changed the multiparty system, and de jure made it far more difficult for religious parties to exist politically, we could perhaps begin a serious discussion about “Jewish right” to this land. I would be happy to partake in such a discussion. I lean much more towards Zand’s claims (even through he acknowledges that he is not an expert in Jewish history), than towards the religious leaders’ in Israel, or throughout the Jewish world.

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February 6th, 2009, 10:04 am


187. Akbar Palace said:

What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same “children of Israel” described in the Old Testament?


Joshua Holland’s above thesis question is moot. Two “people” claim the same land, and each peoples’ claims are relevant. This relevancy has nothing to do with proving any descendantcy or genetic relationship to any ancient people, and only to do with those currently living in the land in quesiton and their aspirations.

Holland states:

…Zand’s work exposing Israel’s founding mythology…

Glad Mr. Holland has already accepted Zand thesis as fact. But it isn’t fact – it’s another in a long series of post-Zionist hogwash. Once again, the anti-Zionists like Holland eat this stuff up for breakfast.

I suppose Holland doesn’t have much to say about Israeli archeology and the numerous ancient hebrew towns, documents, and artifacts.

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February 6th, 2009, 2:13 pm


188. Alia said:


The USS liberty :

Your blind affiliation with Israel is making you a danger to the US, your supposed country.

The USS Liberty cover up is a scandal- sure the Israelis apologized but this was a deliberate act that was covered up…The veterans are not happy about this at all.

Furthermore, according to your logic all the US would need is a phone call of apology from ben laden to wipe 9/11 from history books…may be someone can go find him and ask him to PLEASE make that phone call- you go do that AP you do not seem to be doing anything useful anyway-

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February 6th, 2009, 2:31 pm


189. Akbar Palace said:

Dangerous Liaisons

Your blind affiliation with Israel is making you a danger to the US, your supposed country.

Alia Sabah al-kheir,

Who do you think is more dangerous to the US, me or al-Queda?

Furthermore, according to your logic all the US would need is a phone call of apology from ben laden to wipe 9/11 from history books…


The US was once at war with Great Britain. Now the British are one of our best allies. Go figure!

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February 6th, 2009, 3:23 pm


190. Alia said:

Actually A.P., I know that people like you are a lot more dangerous to the US than al-Qaeda.

People like you have hijacked the congress of the US…to the point that Congressman cannot keep their posts if they even dare put the interests of the US before those of Israel.

Al-Qaeda is a defined enemy so there is no fear that anyone will mix them up with friends- but when your so called-friends are actually no friends to anybody, they can and do in this case stab you in the back whenever it is in their interest to do so- without you being on guard. Let’s just keep pouring trillions in the hands of the Israelis.

ADL is just such a gem of an organisation-

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February 6th, 2009, 4:10 pm


191. Alex said:


I know you have good intentions, and that you believe you are doing nothing but good, and I know you care about, and defend, the United States, and even the republican Party. It is not about intentions, it is about results.

You know how you and your friends are among America’s worst enemies despite your good intentions?

1) You feel that the United States is strong and safe .. one one can destroy the United States.
2) You feel that Israel is small and at risk of its “evil” neighbors trying to weaken Israel, through force or through propaganda …etc.
3) Therefore, you and your American “friends of Israel” are mostly focused on protecting Israel. You know that Israel only survived because of America’s solid backing and you therefore spend all your time making sure America will ALWAYS back Israel 100%.
4) You start defending Israel 100% and you become paranoid about making sure American elected officials are 100% pro Israel
5) Israel feels very secure that no punishment is ever possible thanks to YOU securing America’s automatic veto at the UN among other things.
6) Israel becomes spoiled and it starts using its power in the most destructive way .. causing Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan to hate Israel … and to hate America.
7) America joins Israel (and North Korea and Iran and Communist China) in being one of the most hated countries in the world.

Akbar … the Iraq war would not have taken place had it not been for those who think they are “Israel’s friends” adding their weight to the pro war faction int he Bush administration …

And that cost the US much more casualties than Al-Qaeda did so far …

I don’t think you are capable of imagining the psychological damage that tens of thousands of young American soldiers will endure … for life.

You start most of the problems and you want the world to deal with your mistakes few years later.

A spoiled, nuclear powered nation and its friends in Washington who are not sure if that nation is at risk (from Hamas and Hizbollah!) or is strong enough to be able to teach the whole Arab and Islamic world one bloody lesson after another …

Every man or woman who run for congress has to talk about his support for Israel’s security … why is Nuclear Israel’s security in need for periodic statements of support from congressmen from Idaho and south Carolina?

You have messed up American politics and corrupted them … with few exceptions, only those who are corrupt enough to accept AIPAC conditions in exchange for AIPAC support will represent the American people.

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February 6th, 2009, 4:56 pm


192. Alex said:

And before you reply with your standard conspiracy theory charges. here is one example which made it to the public, by mistake:

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February 6th, 2009, 5:52 pm


193. jad said:

I don’t like this woman’s article (to be frank I HATE them knowing that hate is a big word to use) her pen always puts Syria in the middle of every article she publishes, even when she is talking about China! I believe that people who keep writing about only one thing become mentally obsess of pointing out how bad that thing is regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
Today is as always an advice for Obama not to talk to Syria, the new target in this article is Turkey! She really needs help in finding something else to write about:

مدير الحوار، الزميل المهني المحترم ديفيد اغنايشوس ربما أخطأ في عدم ايقاف بيريز عن الاسترسال، ثم كرر الخطأ بمقاطعته لأردوغان رغم ان ظروف الوقت فرضت عليه ذلك، إلا ان اردوغان استخدم الزميل من صحيفة «واشنطن بوست» لمآربه الخاصة فجعل منه «كبش الفداء»، ما أطلق ضده حملات التشويه بسمعته واتهامه الباطل بالانحياز، ليعود أردوغان إلى بلاده «بطلاً» تحتفي به الجماهير. فمزايدة أردوغان لم تنحصر في كونها مزايدات على القيادات العربية، وإنما زايد أيضاً على «حزب الله» فيما كان هدفه اقحام «حماس» في المحادثات الفلسطينية – الإسرائيلية وهي أجندة الرئيس الأميركي الذي طالبه اردوغان – عبر «الحياة» – بإعادة تعريف الإرهاب كي تكون «حماس» جزءاً من السياسة الأميركية الجديدة نحو الشرق الأوسط برسالة مرفقة ضمنياً فحواها: أنا القناة.
أردوغان قال إن القناة التركية بين سورية وإسرائيل كادت تستمر لولا غزو إسرائيل لغزة، وإن الطرفين كانا على بعد «بضع كلمات». هذه المهمة تم تأجيلها الآن بقرار إسرائيلي وسوري، ودمشق عبرت عن رغبتها بوصال مع إسرائيل عبر الإدارة الأميركية. بل إن هتاك تنافساً بين سورية وتركيا على «أنا العنوان»، لأن دمشق تعرض نفسها على الإدارة الأميركية على انها القناة الأفعل للتأثير في «حماس» والفصائل الفلسطينية، أو في احتوائها.

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February 6th, 2009, 6:12 pm


194. Alex said:


Raghida hates Syria since the Syrian army confiscated her passport in 2004 I think after she attended a conference with Israelis sitting next to her. When she went back to Lebanon her passport was confiscated for a month and she could not travel for a month.

At least this is a story I heard from a man who was Raghida’s boss for few years.

She is part of the “Arab moderate” lobby I talked about in my post here. She is trying anything she can in Washington or New York to prevent any dialog with Syria … she is promoting boycotting Syria by her continued demonizing of Syria.

But of course she will not agree with what I wrote here .. she is simply trying to protect Lebanon from Syrian hegemony.

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February 6th, 2009, 6:42 pm


195. Jad said:

Thank you Alex,
Regardless of the passport incident my problem with such writers is this; If you call yourself ‘professional’ you should be one, otherwise you are not different from a street man talking politics and giving his inputs. When you write an article you should try to put your personal feeling aside otherwise everything you write is not the whole true story and you are driven by your emotion not your analytical skills that separate you from the street man, beside, every word and idea you write has a n influence on your audiences that you may not control later.
I believe that professional journalists can be passionate about anything they wants without being obsessed otherwise they loose their credibility.

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February 6th, 2009, 7:38 pm


196. Alex said:

Egyptian journalist Yosri Fouda (head of Aljazeera’s London bureau and its chief investigative reporter) wrote an article that I would love to translate to English (maybe I will) and post it here.

For now, here it is in Arabic

Gaza’s security is our security, Syria’s security is our security

He is calling for a return to Egyptian Syrian alliance, the only hope for the Arab world to survive all the threats.

يسرى فودة
أمن غزة أمننا وأمن سوريا كذلك

الجمعة، 6 فبراير 2009 – 00:12

ربما لا يعلم البعض أن صاحب فكرة إقامة دولة حملت بعد ذلك اسم »إسرائيل» هو نابليون بونابرت؛ إذ إن هذا الداهية العسكرى الفرنسى هو الذى التفت حوله فأمعن النظر فاستطاع أن يقرأ واقع الجغرافيا السياسية للشرق الأوسط ببراعة لم يسبقه أحد إليها من قبل. «إذا أردت السيطرة على قلب العالم العربى فعليك أن تقصم وسط الساحل الشرقى للبحر الأبيض المتوسط». هذه هى فلسفته قبل أكثر من قرنين من الزمان، وهذه هى مصيبتنا اليوم.

من نوافل القول الآن إن فلسطين، وبخاصة غزة، تدخل مباشرةً فى قلب مفهوم الأمن القومى المصرى. تهتز غزة فتلين بوابة مصر الشرقية، وتصمد غزة فتمتنع مصر كلها. هذه عصارة تاريخ طويل من أيام الفراعنة والرومان والعرب والتتار والصليبيين والاستعمار الحديث والإسرائيليين. اختلفت طبائع الصراعات من عصر إلى عصر لكنها اتفقت جميعاً على ظاهرة واحدة: أن مصر تنتصر حين تدافع عن نفسها خارج حدودها، أو حين يدافع عنها الآخرون.

فليفكر إذن مرةً أخرى أولئك الذين «تكرموا» فى مصر بالتعاطف مع ضحايا مذبحة غزة الأخيرة. فهؤلاء الذين استشهدوا بقنابل اليهود الإسرائيليين استشهدوا فى الواقع دفاعاً عن مصر، سواء أدركوا هذا أو لم يدركوه، سواء أحبوه أو كرهوه. وليفكر إذن مرةً أخرى أولئك الذين يخلطون، عن عمد أو عن سهو أو عن جهل، بين أهداف سياسية مرحلية مؤقتة زائلة وبين ثوابت الأمن القومى وأعمدة الجغرافيا السياسية. وليفكر إذن مرةً أخرى أولئك الذين أرادوا أن يكونوا أنانيين ففشلوا حتى فى استيعاب مفهوم الأنانية.

جوهر الأنانية «الإيجابية» فى هذه الحالة يقبع فى دفاعك «عمليا» عن نفسك عن طريق دعم من يقف أمامك فى الصف، لا عن طريق رفع شعار عاطفى أجوف مثل «مصر أولاً»، ولا عن طريق ركل من يقف أمامك فى مؤخرته. تعيش مستور الصدر إذا عاش وتواجه الطوفان عارى الصدر إذا مات. أنا أرفع شعار «أنا أنانى» ولهذا أنا أبدأ بنصرة من هو مثلى «أنا»، ثم أتحسس مسدسى حين أسمع كلمة «مصر أولاً».

فليفكر إذن مرةً أخرى «أسيادنا» حين يعلمون أن «عبداً» مملوكاً، اسمه الظاهر بيبرس، هو الذى أدرك جوهر الأنانية «الإيجابية» من منظور مصر فخرج لنصرة الشماليين على التتار فعاشت بلاده. وليفكر إذن «أسيادنا» لماذا تثور ثورة من يعتبروننا أعداءهم (و يعاملوننا على هذا الأساس) كل مرة يقترب فيها جنوب الساحل الشرقى للبحر الأبيض المتوسط من شماله (مصر وسوريا بلغة اليوم). حدث هذا أيام صلاح الدين الأيوبى وأيام محمد على، كما حدث أيام جمال عبد الناصر وأيام حرب أكتوبر المجيدة، وسيحدث دائماً كل مرة يقترب فيها القطبان.

هذا هو واقعنا وهذا هو قدرنا، ومن لا يدرك هذا فهو إما جاهل أو مُغرض. أما وأننا لا نعتقد أن صناع القرار، سواءٌ فى مصر أو فى سوريا، يندرجون تحت أى من هذين التصنيفين فإن من الحكمة، ومن المسئولية فى آنٍ معاً، أن نرتفع جميعاً فوق مستوى الحسابات المرحلية والاستمزاجات الشخصية قبل أن يتحول المرحلى إلى متكرر ويتحول المتكرر إلى منهجى ويتحول المنهجى إلى ثابت.

الحكومات تأتى وتروح. لكل منها رؤيتها للواقع بناء على ما ترى فيه مصلحتها ومصلحة شعبها. وحتى إذا تلخصت رؤيتها لمصلحتها فى مجرد البقاء فى السلطة رغم أنف الشعب (مثلما هو الحال مع معظم الحكومات العربية) فإن ذلك لا يمنحنا الحق فى استخوانها ولا يمنحها الحق فى استغفالنا، ولا يمنح أياً منا الحق فى مصادرة الثوابت.

مثلما أن من الواجب أن يسعى المرء بكل الطرق المشروعة إلى استعادة الحق، فإن من الواجب كذلك حين يدرك أن ظروفه لدى لحظة زمنية معينة لا تسمح له باستعادة الحد الأدنى من حقه ألا يحرم الأجيال القادمة من شرف المحاولة لعل الظروف تتغير، وهى متغيرة لا محالة. وبالمقابل، مثلما أن من الواجب أن يكون لدى المرء رؤيته الخلاقة فى قراءة موقف متراوح، فإن من الواجب كذلك أن تكون لديه القدرة على التمييز بين ما هو مرحلى وما هو ثابت. بعبارة أخرى: أن يكون قادراً على تحديد مواقع الخطوط الحمراء، وأن يكون من الحكمة (ومن الواقعية) بحيث ينحنى تواضعاً أمامها وإلا كانت نهايته.

من الحكمة والواقعية كذلك (و أيضاً من شجاعة القلب) أن تنصر الحاكم على المتزلفين والمنافقين والذين لا يعلمون. إنها لمسألة تدعو إلى الأسف أن يعقد البعض منا، ومن بينهم «الزعيم» عادل إمام، دم شهداء غزة بناصية المقاومة (بغض النظر عن رأيك فى منهجها وفى أعضائها)، وإنها لمسألة تدعو إلى الحزن أن تقوم بعض الجماعات بإهدار دمه لأنه عبر عن رأيه فخانه الفارق بين المرحلى والثابت. وإنها لمسألة تدعو إلى التأمل أن تكون لدى البعض منا فى مصر كل هذه القدرة على التعالى والغرور (وأحيانا العنصرية) حين نواجه نقداً من هؤلاء «العرب»، حتى ولو كان بناءً وراقياً وعلى حق.

غير أن المسألة التى تدعو إلى القلق، أشد القلق، هى انتقال هذا اللغط من دائرة النخبة إلى دائرة العامة بصورة تهدد بخلط المرحلى بالثابت ربما إلى أمد بعيد على مرأى ومسمع من جيل نما فى ظروف هشة.

بين أيدينا فى مصر جيل يفصله عن حرب أكتوبر أكثر من خمسة وثلاثين عاماً، جيل لم يدرس مادة «التربية القومية»، جيل لم يعد حكراً على الآلة الإعلامية للدولة، جيل خرج منه من تزوج إسرائيليات وخرج منه من التحق بالقاعدة، جيل لا يعلم إذا تسلل لص إلى منزله بأى رقم هاتفى يتصل. لقد وصل «جيل كامب ديفيد» بين ليلة وضحاها إلى مرحلة الشباب فلم يجد موقعاً له فى البلد أفضل من موقع «فيس بوك».

على هؤلاء ينبغى أن نقلق وعلى أولادهم، لكننا بدلاً من ذلك «نستخدمهم» فى إطار ألعاب سياسية شخصية مرحلية عبثية تنتمى إلى عصور سحيقة، تماماً مثلما استخدم عبد الناصر (بغض النظر عن رأيك فيه) صوت العرب (بغض النظر عن رأيك فيه) كى يؤلب الرأى العام العربى (بغض النظر عن رأيك فيه) على النظام السعودى (بغض النظر عن رأيك فيه). فلا فشل عبد الناصر ولا فشل صوت العرب ولا فشل الرأى العام العربى ولا فشل النظام السعودى. فقط أضعنا وقتنا فى عبثية ضارة لا نزال نشتم رائحتها حتى اليوم فى عقدة «الفوقية/الدونية» لدى بعض النماذج فى الشعبين الشقيقين.

إننا لا نريد لمثل ذلك أن يحدث اليوم بين الشعبين المصرى والسورى. سيغضب كثيراً فى قبره نابليون بونابرت. لا نريد للمرحلى أن يتكرر ولا نريد للمتكرر أن يتمنهج. إن الخطر يكمن فى أن يتجاوز الخلاف مستوى الساسة إلى مستوى الأمنيين إلى مستوى الإعلاميين إلى مستوى المثقفين إلى مستوى الفنانين إلى مستوى عامة الشعب. عندها يتحول الخلاف إلى شك ويتحول الشك إلى كراهية، ويتحول نابليون بونابرت فى قبره إلى البحث عن تحدٍّ آخر أكثر تشويقاً.

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February 6th, 2009, 7:40 pm


197. AIG said:

Why the complex theories? Just as the Arabs care more about Palestinians than Darfurians, the Americans have a special relationship with Israel that is based on many factors. Aipac is succesful because of the special relationship, not because it is more sinister than the NRA (a much more influential and successful lobby). QN tried several times to explain this to you. There is a strong affinity between the US and Israel just like there is an affinity between Arab countries. Just like the Americans like the British more than they like the French.

So, please stop complaining and start working on building a better relationship with the US. Your argument just does not make sense. No one wins a fight or an argument by asking the other side to do less well. You win, by making your side do better. You need to convince people that the US supporting Israel is bad for the US. So far nobody is buying this argument because you are not making a convincing argument. Not becuase of AIPAC or the press or whatever. Walt and Mearsheimer’s book was very well discussed, but convinced very few people. The press did not hide the book but gave it special attention. Walt and Mearsheimer gave tons of talks. But in the end, people considered what they wrote and found in not convincing. If you support their position, you need to do better.

Here is one hint. Syria supports Hizballah. Fine. Hizballah like to chant “Death to America”. Fine. But do you expect Americans to like Syria? Look at the facts objectively and you will see that there are plenty of things Syria can do to build a better relation with the US. And if Syria does not want to do those things, then it has to accept that it is leaving these issues for Israel to exploit. But complain about your enemy taking advantage of your mistaken strategy? What kind of an attitude is that?

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February 6th, 2009, 7:44 pm


198. Rumyal said:


Sand’s book is excellent and highly recommend it when it becomes available in English or Arabic (or I can teach you Hebrew if you want :-)). Beyond the Historical thesis that he advances and that are not completely in the piece that you posted, there is also a general treatment of the role of history (and also cartography) in the construction of nation states and how historians have basically assumed the roles of priests in the secular nation state. His analysis concentrates more than on the history itself on the historians, their circumstances and sensibilities and how that shaped their views and writing. It’s a very good read and to the extent he’s sloppy, it’s because the evidence is so clear and overwhelming that he loses his guard against potential “AP”’s that will of course dig any minutia they can to discredit him. Above all, this is a passionate plea to Israelis (Jews and Arabs) to remove their blindfolds and understand their past, present and future through a critical understanding of reality.

In this context, I’d also like to mention Rafi Netz-Zehngut who is working on a study on how knowledge (or ignorance) is affecting the views of Israelis about the conflict. He found that Israelis are currently somewhere in the middle between a “critical” and a “Zionist” perception of history with more recent events perceived more “Zionistically” and more far-away things perceived more “crititically”. Basically—the past events can be judged neutrally and the recent ones are judged through the usual defense mechanisms.

In my opinion books likes Sand’s and movies such as Waltz with Bashir are crucially important for the transformation of Israel and their popularity hints that perhaps ideologies that we believe are well entrenched are actually quite superficial and can be discarded over a short period of time. This has to do a lot with a generational passing-of-the-batton with people like Peres the last one of the old-Zionists stepping down and now we have knock-offs such as Livni and Bibi however the next generation (mine) is much more critical. Related to that, HADASH’s (the only joint Arab-Jewish party in Isral) Dov Hanin has swept a third (a THIRD) of the votes in his mayoral campaign in Tel-Aviv and I hear that there is a ground swell of support for HADASH amongst young secular Jews that has already contributed to it now being projected to get 5 instead of 4 seats in the elections. Still not much, but definitely not something to be ignored and the weight of intellectuals and tone-setters in their base is significant.

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February 6th, 2009, 10:02 pm


199. Alex said:


I am not competing with Israel, don’t worry.

I have no problem with AIPAC being “successful” … but they went beyond successful to being destructive.

Have you heard of what happens to those who take 50 pills instead of two pills that the doctor prescribed? .. AIPAC’s “success” in Washington is going there, and you and Akbar (supporters of more and more “success”) have no clue what happens when you increase the dosage with no limits.

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February 6th, 2009, 10:54 pm


200. Alia said:


Very interesting article. I do look forward to reading the book..
It has been out in French for a few months.

There is of course now a more definitive way of affirming such a theory or refuting it, by performing genetic studies that identify signature genetic lineages across time. Since there are already several identified signature genetic markers for both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish groups, it would be interesting to see the percentage of those markers in native Palestinians and compare them with a control group that is geographically close but presumed to be historically distinct, like the Turcs or Greeks or Saudis.

( This is assuming that there is enthusiasm for such a study and its possible results)

One recent interesting example of such studies:

Identifying Genetic Traces of Historical Expansions:
Phoenician Footprints in the Mediterranean

The Phoenicians were the dominant traders in the Mediterranean Sea two thousand to three thousand years ago and expanded from
their homeland in the Levant to establish colonies and trading posts throughout the Mediterranean, but then they disappeared from
history. We wished to identify their male genetic traces in modern populations. Therefore, we chose Phoenician-influenced sites on
the basis of well-documented historical records and collected new Y-chromosomal data from 1330 men from six such sites, as well as
comparative data from the literature. We then developed an analytical strategy to distinguish between lineages specifically associated with the Phoenicians and those spread by geographically similar but historically distinct events, such as the Neolithic, Greek, and Jewish expansions. This involved comparing historically documented Phoenician sites with neighboring non-Phoenician sites for the identification of weak but systematic signatures shared by the Phoenician sites that could not readily be explained by chance or by other expansions.
From these comparisons, we found that haplogroup J2, in general, and six Y-STR haplotypes, in particular, exhibited a Phoenician
signature that contributed > 6% to the modern Phoenician-influenced populations examined.

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February 7th, 2009, 1:52 am


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