Can the International Tribunal Change Syrian Policy?

Can the International Tribunal Change Syrian Policy?
By Joshua Landis
March 12, 2008

In two recent trips to Washington DC, I had the occasion to talk to a number of officials, ex-officials, and policy mavens about US policy toward Damascus in this very difficult transition period.

The consensus seems to be that the Bush administration is counting on the international tribunal to force Syria into changing its Lebanon policy, and presumably other policies as well.

How this will work is not completely clear. Syria has stated that it will not allow its citizens to appear before the tribunal, which it has said could be used as a political tool against it.

If Damascus does indeed refuse to allow Syrians to appear before the court, procedural difficulties will be enough to trip up the Syrians, suggest Washington officials. Whether sufficient evidence exists to convict Syrians would be irrelevant, in such a case.

Michael Young in his article, "Time may play against Syria in Lebanon" explains how many in Lebanon have their hopes pinned on this US policy.

US efforts also include ensuring that the Hariri tribunal is established as soon as possible, and that Daniel Bellemare, the future prosecutor of the tribunal, issues his act of accusation before the US administration leaves office. This seems likely, according to diplomats in Beirut. As Bush knows, no successor would engage Assad once the Syrian regime is implicated in Hariri's murder, particularly if it rebuffs all cooperation with the tribunal.   

Of course the international tribunal is not the only card the US has to play. It will continue to target Syrian politicians and regime figures for sanctions; it will accuse Syria of backing foreign fighters in Iraq; and it will continue to try to isolate Syria diplomatically by dissuading Arab and European leaders from doing business with Damascus. All the same, the international tribunal is the center piece of US strategy. It is the only strategy of those listed here that could possible lead European nations to join a sanctions regime against Damascus.

The likelihood of European nations being convinced or shamed into joining a sanctions regime against Damascus at this late date, seems improbable. Of course, if Syrian authorities stonewall the court, European statesmen will be obliged to do something. Whether their action will have real teeth will have to be seen. The notion that Damascus will reject the court in its entirety, is also doubtful. During the Mehlis investigation, Syria also said it would refuse to turn over witnesses. After some prevarication, it complied and avoided sanctions. Sending Syrians to an international court under indictment is different from sending them to Vienna for questioning. All the same, Syrian authorities are unlikely to refuse outright to deliver Syrians to the court.

How effective Washington's policy will be in liberating Lebanon from the influence of Hizbullah, Lebanon's native opposition, and Syrian influence remains to be seen.

Comments (183)


Bashmann said:

Mr. Landis,

It is unfortunate that the US foreign policy towards an oppressive regime such as the Syrian regime should rely on the fact finding mission of the international tribunal looking to bring justice to the murderers of the late Lebanese prime minister. Whatever the outcome of the tribunal, it should make no difference to Washington or any other European capital on how to direct their respective foreign policy towards this regime. Political reforms should be the only issue at which this regime should be measured on for future involvement with the West.

Cheers

March 14th, 2008, 1:46 am

 

norman said:

The us continue to interfere in Arab afairs.

Arabs to think carefully about attending Arab summit in Syria

http://www.chinaview.cn 2008-03-14 07:48:53 Print

WASHINGTON, March 13 (Xinhua) — The United States demand on Thursday Arab states think carefully about attending an Arab League summit scheduled for March 29-30 in Damascus, Syria, when political crisis in neighboring Lebanon is increasing.

“We’re certainly never going to try to dictate who should attend one of these meetings,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

However, the spokesman noted that “In contemplating whether or not they attend a meeting in Syria, it certainly bears keeping in mind what Syria’s role (has been) to this point in not allowing a Lebanese electoral process to move forward.”

It was reported that Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Kaouk Arnous handed over Syria’s invitation Thursday to resigned Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Saloukh to attend the Arab Summit.

Also on Thursday, a Syrian official delegation was reportedly to arrive in Beirut to deliver an invitation from Damascus to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora to attend the upcoming summit.

Observers believed that Syria’s move is to ease tensions with Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, which had hinted it might boycott the summit should Beirut be excluded.

Seniora and Lebanese ruling coalition have been on bad terms with Syria since the latter was accused of being involved in the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

Damascus has denied its role in the killing of Hariri, but was forced to withdraw its forces from Lebanon following the assassination, ending decades-long military presence there.

Editor: Du Guodong

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March 14th, 2008, 2:06 am

 

norman said:

Mr Dardari seems to be moving ahead in establishing institutions in Syria built and resemble the US one ,
Now they are starting a small business administration to encourage and offer loans to small businesses .

2008-03-13 18:37:37

الدردري: ندرس تأسيس وكالة وطنية لضمانات القروض وخاصة الصغيرة والمتوسطة

وزير الاقتصاد: تناقص اليد العاملة بسبب استخدام التكنولوجيا يدفع لفتح مشاريع صغيرة ومتوسطة

قال نائب رئيس مجلس الوزراء لشؤون الاقتصادية عبد الله الدردري الخميس إن الحكومة “تدرس تأسيس وكالة وطنية لضمانات القروض وخاصة الصغيرة والمتوسطة وموضوع ترويج الصادرات, كما أن هناك قانون تجاري سوف يعرض قريباً جداً ليسمح بتأسيس شركات تجارية وقيام الشركات الصغيرة والمتوسطة”.

ولفت في كلمة ألقاها خلال ورشة عمل حول المشاريع الصغيرة والمتوسطة إلى أن “التسلسل في الإصلاح الاقتصادي هو الأهم, حيث أصبح الوقت مناسباً لانطلاق عملية تنسيق عالي المستوى ودراسة التشريع الضروري لانطلاق الشركات الصغيرة والمتوسطة حيث على كل الجهات أن تعرف دورها وتملك الأدوات لتنفيذ هذا الدور”.

وتابع الدردري أن ” هيئة التشغيل وتنمية المشروعات الصغيرة والمتوسطة ستتولى تدريب وتأهيل أصحاب العمل الجدد الذين سيصبحون أرباب عمل, كما ستقوم بتأهيل العمال الذين يوظفون في القطاع الخاص”.

من جانبها, قالت وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل ديالا الحج عارف إن “تحويل هيئة مكافحة البطالة إلى هيئة التشغيل وتنمية المشروعات الصغيرة والمتوسطة سوف يمكن من استقطاب العاطلين عن العمل ممن يمتلكون مهارات ريادية ليبدؤوا بمشاريعهم الخاصة, كما وضع هذا المرسوم آلية للعمل تحفزهم للبدء بأعمالهم دون مسائل الروتين والبيروقراطية مثل التراخيص وغيرها من الأمور”.

وأضافت أنه “من هنا كان مشروع النافذة الواحدة التي تمثل فيها مختلف الوزارات لتسهيل النواحي الإجرائية وليس القانونية لتحويل هذه المشاريع الصغيرة والمتوسطة إلى قطاع منظم”.

وكانت هيئة مكافحة البطالة منحت 28 ألف قرضاً للمشاريع متناهية الصغر و12 ألف قرضاً تقريباً بين صغير ومتوسط.

فيما قال وزير الاقتصاد والتجارة د.عامر حسني لطفي أن” التكنولوجيا المتقدمة أدت إلى تناقص اليد العاملة المستخدمة مما أثار المراقبين بالشأن الاقتصادي في الدول المتطورة, فبدؤوا يفكرون كيف يمكن أن ينظموا استراتيجيات وسياسات وتمويل من أجل تنشيط الناس لفتح مشاريع صغيرة ومتوسطة الحجم لأن هذه المشاريع تولد الكثير من فرص العمل حيث يبدأ المشروع الصغير بوحدة أو وحدتين عمل ليرتقي إلى متوسط الحجم”.

وأشار إلى أن “علينا أن نعي هناك عددا كبيرا من المشاريع الصغيرة والمتوسطة لكنها موجودة خارج القطاع الاقتصادي المنظم, فهي تعمل بالاقتصاد الموازي, والجهد منصب من الحكومة ومن الجهات الفاعلة في الاقتصاد لتصبح هذه المشاريع منظمة وتستفيد من كل المزايا المالية والضريبية بشكل قانوني”.

وهذا البرنامج هو أول برنامج يتم تنفيذه من قبل مركز الأعمال والمؤسسات السوري والذي يموله الاتحاد الأوروبي بقيمة 15 مليون يورو وتدعمه الحكومة السورية سنوياًَ.

ونوه وزير الصناعة د.فؤاد عيسى الجوني إلى أننا” نؤيد وضع قانون خاص بالمشاريع الصغيرة والمتوسطة على أن يقدم هذا القانون حوافز لإقامة هذه المشاريع الصغيرة والمتوسطة وحوافز للمشاريع الغير منظمة”.

وأقيمت ورشة العمل هذه برعاية مركز الأعمال والمؤسسات السوري (SEBC) ضمن إطار تبني برنامج دعم المؤسسات الصغيرة والمتوسطة الممول من قبل الاتحاد الأوربي.

ومركز الأعمال والمؤسسات السوري SEBC هو مؤسسة تعمل وفق المعايير الدولية على دعم الاقتصاد السوري من خلال تنفيذ مشاريع تهدف إلى تطوير القطاع الخاص بشكل عام والشركات الصغيرة والمتوسطة بشكل خاص أي أنه مؤسسة لتحفيز تطوير ونمو القطاع الخاص في سورية.

ضحى حسن ـ سيريانيوز

copy rights © syria-news 2007

March 14th, 2008, 2:13 am

 

Enlightened said:

Can the International Tribunal Change Syrian Policy?

Is there a precedent here? One can only compare the Tribunal that was set up after the Balkans civil war and look at How Serbia at first refused to hand over suspects initially, but after a sustained pressure by the EU, they caved in and a slow trickle was handed over including the BIG Man Slobo Milosovic.

It was originally proposed by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council, which was passed on May 25, 1993. It has jurisdiction over four clusters of crime committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crime against humanity. It can try only individuals, not organizations or governments. The maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment. Various countries have signed agreements with the UN to carry out custodial sentences. The last indictment was issued March 15, 2004. The Tribunal aims to complete all trials by the end of 2009

While I am not alluding that Syria or Syrians will hand over Bashar here ( If he is guilty or it can be proved that he was responsible), in essence lowly officers, then the Generals were handed over after extensive evidence was gathered against them.

The tribunal itself will not meet with any official changes of behaviour by the Syrian government, but subversively there might be some deals made behind closed doors ( Rustum pack your holiday bags your going to Europe).

If we look at past Syrian behaviour it will not matter, they will simply wait for a new administration and then start bargaining.

March 14th, 2008, 4:56 am

 

Majhool said:

Dr, Landis,

Do you believe Iran can be sidelined if such a court scenario crystallizes and the Syrian regime gets cornered? would Iran be willing to plunge in a full scale confrontation with the US over Syria? Does the US policy now revolve around cutting the arms of Iran in the region instead of confronting it directly?

Also, if the Syrian regime chooses not to nudge, could HA constitute a serious threat to Israel (other than claiming victory by virtue of survival)

Basically what would be the worst case Scenario especially for the populations of both Syria and Lebanon? Do you believe an Iraqi style chaos is distant to take place?

Thanks.

March 14th, 2008, 5:13 am

 

ausamaa said:

What Tribunal for God’s sake? Of course the answer is NO! Are we short on other subjects relating to Syria?? Can the Tribunal Change Syria? Can Syria be flipped? Would Bush Sanctions force a change on Damascus? Would moderate Arab pressures force Syria to push for the election of this and that?,…?….?

We have been at it foe something like four years, and the consistant answer to all those questions have been NO!

If the answer to any of those questions and their likes have been YES even once, Syria would be same like Jordan or Egypt or Saudi. Apparently, Syria does not see itself as such.

March 14th, 2008, 6:40 am

 

offended said:

Israel is accepted as a full member of the UN peace keeping committee.

March 14th, 2008, 10:10 am

 

Nour said:

The international tribunal is nothing but a farce. Anyone who thinks that the International Court is in anyway impartial or has power to impose its jurisdiction on all countries and individuals equally is seriously deluding themselves. The US has been responsible for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, yet we don’t see any US officials made to stand trial. Israel has also committed numerous attrocities, yet no one would dare prosecute an Israeli official. The International Tribunal comes alive only when there are certain political objectives desired by the US and other western powers. Otherwise, it’s nothing but a joke and a tool used to pressure countries into submission.

March 14th, 2008, 2:30 pm

 

Friend in America said:

The international world is trying to find a method for bringing justice to families, societies and countries that are victims of atrocities committed on civilians as well as assassinations of its leaders that will replace retaliatory assassination and warfare.

I have attended several conferences on the International Tribune and have conversed with one of the Justices. They had a difficult time getting started because the Justices came from so many different legal traditions that establishing rules of procedure required endless meetings over a couple of years. Once it was done the cases arising from incidents in the civil war in the former Yugoslavia commenced. The hearings and trials have been slow because of oral translations into about a dozen different languages. It takes months to get a transcript translated into different languages that have common understanding. But, with patience, it works.
Some may think the slowness shows the tribunal’s ineffectiveness, but the Court is indeed international and Justices from Africa, Asia and ME have as much say, sometimes more, than Justices from Europe and North America. The driving force on the court now comes from Justices from countries that have weak non independent judicial systems, superceding the origination inspiration which started in Europe. It is the smaller, weaker countries that need the world court.

I doubt chaos in the levant will occur if there is regime change in Syria. If various factions become unruly, the other ME countries will step in. The lesson to be learned from Iraq is the failure of Americans to understand the underlying (sectarian) conflicts in society must be given serious consideration and dealt with promptly in a respectful manner.
I continue to believe democracy with a strong bill of rights is the best government for countries having multiple societies (that includes the U.S.) but after the Iraq experience I am less certain how this change can best occur. On the positive side, elections and other institutions of democracy are becoming stronger in the ME and other formerly non democratic countries, the elections in Pakistan being the most recent example. So there is hope for a better tomorrow.

March 14th, 2008, 2:42 pm

 

Naji said:

A silly spectacle is going in Beirut right now… March 14th celebrations and declarations… worth watching if you have access to Lebanese TV stations right now…! It seems that these guys can only define themselves in relation to Syria… that is all they are talking about… 😀 !

March 14th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

Ghassan said:

For the people who say that the International Tribunal is nothing, please read recent history!!!

Libya for example and Former Yoguslavia (Serbia). Currently, Rawanda is going through the same thing.

The killers will be brought to justice! Even if it will take 10-20 years!

March 14th, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

Naji said:

The spectacle is also on Al Jazeera… good summary of their position… worth a watch…!

Their logic and agenda stand up to those of the opposition about as much as the oratorical skills of their speaker (Faris S’aed) stand up to those of Nassrallah…! (I will not mention The General in this context 😉 )

March 14th, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

Friend in America said:

The news from ME reports Syria has invited the present government of Lebanon to attend the proposed peace conference.
Another news media reports the Syrian government now requires cyber cafes to take down detailed ID information of its customers.

March 14th, 2008, 3:24 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Yeh sure, keep waiting….

Has the esteemed International Tribunal found this ultra-sophosticated Assassain yet?

Please guys, go take a walk in the park or something rather than lecture and theorize about International Justice.

Try to figure out also when will “International Justice” be brought to bear on Israel??? Or avenge the thousands of slaughtered Palestinians by Bashir Jemayel/Sharon Sabra and Chatilla, or the Christians raped and killed at the hands of Samir Jaja gangs during his famous wars, or punishing the Killers of Rashid Karami and the Frenjieh family, (mother, father and young daughter) and the displaced in the Christian part of Mount Lebanon.

In other words (………..), well never mind, you must know what I mean buddy!

March 14th, 2008, 3:33 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Friend in America

It seems Syria is Learning from the US-freindly Jordanian “moderate and democratic” authoreties who have placed so much restrictions and control on internet use. Something like this was in WPO or the WSJ recently. Do some resreach on Saudi and Bahrain and Egypy while you at it. And tell us if you can about the hush-hush expanded surrvailance and monitoring practices of the Crown Jewel of the most recent addition to US democracy in the 21 century: Dept of Homeland Security.

March 14th, 2008, 4:01 pm

 

Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] Joshua Landis at Syria Comment doubts that the international tribunal on the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri will provoke any real change in Syria’s policy toward Lebanon. President Bush, however, has expressed optimism that this tribunal will marginalize Syria’s behavior. Syria, however, has prohibited its own citizens from testifying out of fear that the tribunal will be used as a political weapon against the state. “How effective Washington’s policy will be in liberating Lebanon from the influence of Hizbullah, Lebanon’s native opposition, and Syrian influence remains to be seen.” […]

March 14th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] Joshua Landis at Syria Comment doubts that the international tribunal on the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri will provoke any real change in Syria’s policy toward Lebanon. President Bush, however, has expressed optimism that this tribunal will marginalize Syria’s behavior. Syria, however, has prohibited its own citizens from testifying out of fear that the tribunal will be used as a political weapon against the state. “How effective Washington’s policy will be in liberating Lebanon from the influence of Hizbullah, Lebanon’s native opposition, and Syrian influence remains to be seen.” […]

March 14th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

Naji said:

Aussama and FIA,
Sadly, this is the trend these days and a sign of our ugly times… I was travelling around Europe last summer, and everywhere I went (Italy, France,…and even in Switzerland), you now have to register your passport when you use an internet cafe… new anti-terrosim regulations and all that…!! 🙁

March 14th, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

ausamaa said:

So, Syria is behind Eroupe in the restrictions on personal freedomes field. If so, even when moving in the “right” direction, Syria is not acknowleged and not given credit for it!!!

LOL

March 14th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

Naji said:

Aussama,
…Except that in Europe they would not yank you for saying something mean about our Beloved Leader…, but they would if you say something nice about Bin Laden… 😉
Same thing…! 🙁

March 14th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Norman said:

How sad,

Report: Road accident kills 24 people, injures 34 in northern Syria

The Associated Press
Friday, March 14, 2008
DAMASCUS, Syria: A bus carrying high school students rammed into a house in northern Syria on Friday, killing at least 24 people and injuring 34, a hospital official said.

The accident occurred on a road liking the northern city of Idlib to the port city of Tartus when the brakes of the bus carrying the students failed, the state-run SANA news agency said. The agency reported earlier in the day that there were 23 killed and 35 injured.

It said the bus overturned after it hit the house, in the Sheik Badr area just north of Tartus, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) northwest of Damascus.

“Most of those wounded suffered serious injuries,” said the official at al-Basil hospital in Tartus on condition of anonymity for not being authorized to speak to the media. He said the ages of the students were between 15 and 18.

SANA said six of the injured were in serious condition and that four had been inside the house at the time of the accident.

The agency quoted the governor of Tartus province, Wahib Zeineddine, as saying that those in the bus were high school students from a school in Idlib, 330 kilometers (200 miles) north of Damascus.

He added that the students were going on a tour to Tartus on their day off. Friday is the weekend in predominantly Muslim Syria.

——————————————————————————–
Notes:

——————————————————————————–
Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

March 14th, 2008, 5:00 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Ausamaa-
I do not live in Lebanon, Syria or Jordan but if I did, I would find much to be cynical about. I agree with your list of of the past asassinations and atrocities that cry for justice. But, that does not mean to give up. It should inspire to make justice possible. We cannot reverse past events but we can work for a better tomorrow. The dead are dead, but our children and grandchildren are alive. It is for them that we work for a better world.
I agree democracy in the ME is very limited but there is more democratic institutions than 25 years ago.
Thanks for your comments. One of these days we shall meet, and that would be my great pleasure.

March 14th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

ausamaa said:

FIN,
Thanks, same here, and yes, we can not bring back the dead but we sure can prevent the death of others only if we look back into history and find out what caused such death and destruction.

And of course, if we did not have enough hope, then the future will be a scarey one indeed.

March 14th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

shami said:

Syrian Workers Take Brunt of Lebanon Crisis
As dawn breaks each day, Joseph heads to a busy Beirut intersection where he waits for up to eight hours in the hope that someone will need him for a job.
Joseph, who is in his early 40s, is a Syrian migrant worker in Lebanon.

He has been here for years and remains although life has become tough, economically and even politically.

Syrian laborers like Joseph are an integral part of Lebanon’s economy. Their presence, however, has become increasingly controversial since 2005 when Syria was widely blamed for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Damascus was forced to end its dominance over its tiny neighbor.

This has made life harder, sometimes even dangerous, for the migrants.

There are tens of thousands of Syrian workers like Joseph in Lebanon, but no official figures are available on their exact number. The labor ministry says “dozens” are registered but provides no further information.

Most Syrian migrant workers don’t know if they will make ends meet on a given day. The arduous morning wait might be fruitless or someone might come by and pick them up for 12 to 14 hours working on a construction site or in agriculture. But the boss at the end of the day might decide not to pay them their daily wage and there is no one to turn to for help.

“There is no one to protect your rights. Sometimes the employers don’t pay us or just kick us out after days of work, but we have no choice. We have to work in order to survive,” says Joseph, who has a degree and once taught Arabic in a school in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“We leave our families behind to come here, because with wages as they are, it is too expensive to live back home.”

Mazen, who owns a Lebanese construction company and asked that his real name not be used, estimates that 75 percent of construction workers in Lebanon are Syrian.

As political tensions gripped the country after Hariri’s killing and a series of political assassinations afterwards, economic and political conditions worsened. Syrian workers often bear the brunt of the blame leveled at Syria, sometimes being targets for attacks.

“Since 2005, life here has become more difficult. Whereas before you could save two thirds of your salary, now you can barely make ends meet,” said Joseph who usually earns 20,000 Lebanese lira (about 13 dollars) a day.

“When an assassination takes place here, most of us don’t dare leave home. Some of my friends even go back to Syria because they fear being attacked.”

Lebanon’s political divisiveness can, in most cases, be mapped geographically, with certain areas considered loyal to the government, and others considered loyal to the opposition.

Mazen has also felt the effects of this.

“Syrians are more picky about the areas in which they are willing to work. Like if I have a project in a given area and I ask the Syrian employee to come to work there, he’ll say: ‘No, no, no. I am not going to work there, otherwise I might get beaten’,” explains Mazen.

“As a matter of fact, at one site I have 50 Syrian employees and one Lebanese guard from the area to protect them. Otherwise they might get attacked.”

Many Syrians have been the victims of crimes, including beatings, robberies, the setting on fire of tents where they live, and even killings.

“Before (2005), you could walk around comfortably without any problems. Now, we don’t feel safe,” said Khaled, who was beaten by a group of young men one day as he was walking down the street.

“I didn’t know who they were. They didn’t take anything from me. They just beat me up for no reason.”

In spite of a lack of available information, Human Rights Watch (HRW) was able to document 12 beatings of Syrian laborers, seven knife attacks, three instances of tents being set ablaze, one incident where a Molotov cocktail was thrown on a construction site and seven violent incidents in which 10 Syrians were killed in 2007.

There is no way directly to link political motivation to the attacks, but there is a trend, HRW said.

“There is no doubt to me that Syrian workers in Lebanon are victims on both ends. They are victims of the tensions between Lebanon and Syria … and ultimately, they are the victims of their socio-economic conditions,” says Nadim Houry, an HRW researcher in Lebanon.

“The question becomes: what do the authorities do about it?”

Prime Minister Fouad Saniora publicly expressed concern over the attacks on April 30 last year, strongly condemning them as “inhumane.”

It is not clear, however, that this concern has translated into concrete steps taken by the security forces.

While there have been notable cases where the perpetrators are tried and penalized, many go unpunished.

“When my friends get robbed or have a problem, the police tell them: ‘You know how many other issues we have to deal with?’ So, we can’t really get help,” says Joseph.

“I would say we haven’t seen a serious investigation effort when it comes to attacks against Syrian workers,” explains Houry. “That’s not necessarily unique to Syrians … It fits into the broader pattern of impunity in the country. Many people get away with murder, literally.”

Despite the dangers and difficulties, most Syrian laborers take the risk and stay in Lebanon for the higher wages.

“Lebanese people are kind and generous. They are living under a lot of pressure too,” says Joseph quietly.

“There are, of course, hoodlums who sometimes come after us. But we come here to make a better life for ourselves and our families like anyone else. Even if things don’t change, we need to stay to build our future. What choice do we have?”(AFP)

March 14th, 2008, 5:41 pm

 

kingcrane jr said:

Norman has the most interesting story.

About 10 years ago, I was on the bus linking Aleppo to Lattakia, the road that goes through Jisr-Il-Shougour, and we got almost killed on one of the treatorous turns that this road offers. Must be a March 14 turn (just kidding).

Regarding oppressive regimes, I only accept to hear from real experts what “oppressive” means. Is there an oppressometer out there? Is it to be used on the leader of the administration or on the (local or disloyal) subjects? Does it need to be disinfected after each and every usage? These are important questions.

Regarding chaos in the Levant, it is already there, courtesy of the zionist entity. If what the Palestinians have endured and continue to endure does not constitute chaos, then what is?

I would love it if all religious Jewish people made the Levant their home, under an Abrahamic monotheist (Jewish / Christian / Moslim) umbrella policed by a strictly secular state. As to “social” Jews, they can visit… socially, and keep NYC or WPB as their home.

Cheers to the International Tribunal. Would it indict Hariri’s entourage if they were guilty of negligence in their own version of the Trojan Horse (their Qaeda creations in Lebanon)?

As to Michael Young: How preposterous for him to say that time is against the Syrian administration… CE SERA TOUT A FAIT LE CONTRAIRE.

March 14th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

ausamaa said:

In other words, some Lebanese civillians are being as nice to Syrian migrant workers as the Syrian Mukhabarat have been to some Lebanese. The Syrian Mukhabrat had an objective: Security, Silence and Petty Profiteering; Lebanese Syrians-bashers have another more “nobel” motive for killing innocent Syrian workers ( of course only after Syrian Forces have left Lebanon): Revenge!! I guess it is experience gained from the acts of Jemail, Ja’ja and Sharon committed against the unprotected Palestinians in Lebanon after the PLO left in 1982.

That is how “some” brave Lebanses understand and practice Lebanese Civilization. And then they have the nerve to talk about Syrian “atrocieties” during its thirty years “occupation” of Lebanon ( which started to stop the Lebanese Druze from the slaughtering the Lebaneses Christians!).

Wanna talk about how the Shie’ats in Lebanon were treated before the PLO arrived there in the late seventies?? About the rich heritage of th 1860 massacres in Mount Lebanon?

Ah ya zaman…

March 14th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

offended said:

Very sad news about the accident in Tartous. Another expected carnage. If you are aware of the conditions of the roads, the vehicles, the maniac drivers and the means to acquire a driving license in Syria, then you won’t be surprised.

March 14th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

Sami D said:

Ghassan wrote: “For the people who say that the International Tribunal is nothing, please read recent history!!! .. The killers will be brought to justice! Even if it will take 10-20 years!”

The international tribunal and international law in general, are certainly not nothing. When used for their intended goal, AND applied to all violators equally without regard to how powerful & privileged the violator is, then they definitely are an important tool of justice. When, however, international law is SELECTIVELY used by those who have power, for example against those who disobey the will of the powerful, or when international law is deliberately blocked against those with power and their allies when they commit massive violations, then international law is transformed from a tool of justice to a tool of power. It becomes a tool to punish whoever refuses to bow down to the emperor. Such selective usage is significant; for one it undermines the laws and institutions. It also sends a clear message to everyone: If you want to commit crimes it’s ok; just make sure you are in service to power — ie Washington. Compare that to the message of the original intent of the laws (if you commit a crime you will be punished). An example is how Saddam was shielded from international law in the 1980s when he was a friend of Washington. His crimes were “discovered” by international law ONLY when he disobeyed. Another example is Israel, and the mountain of UN resolutions collecting dust and spider webs. Israel’s crimes are approved by Washington. Syria, on the other hand, is displaying disobedience to Washington.

March 14th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Naji-
I was unaware that in Europe non citizens had to show their passports at internet cafes. It is a sign of our times and is sad.
I recall in Europe some of the terrorists and would be terrorists were using internet cafes for their messaging thinking they were more secure than their own computer. By matching suspicious messages with a passport name Interpol establishes a “person of interest.” This situation has not arisen in the U.S. because there are very few internet cafes. Registration does have a negative impact on communication. My messages on this site or elsewhere do not create a risk for me but if I were a citizen of another country I could have a concern.

March 14th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

Naji said:

Friend,
America was always the last bastion of, and a shining beacon for, personal freedoms… may it always remain so…! As tarnished as this reputation had become lately, there is hope… Vote for Obama…! 🙂

March 14th, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Kingcrane Jr.,

I’m sorry for the chaos (actually “suffering” is a better word) the Palestinian people have been enduring the past 60 years inside their territories, and in refugee camps around the region. Please know that some of us, here at the Zionist Entity, truly do wish it to come to an end, and for the Palestinian people to finally enjoy freedom and independence.

I’m sorry you want us “social” Jews (is that like “social” drinking?) to immediately depart the Zionist Entity, destination NYC, WPB, or anywhere the plane or boat would take us. But I’m at least glad you’re allowing some of us, the “religious” Jews, to stay “policed under a strictly secular state”. I’m considering going over to the local Rabbi’s, and asking to quickly become more religious, so I can stay here, at the Zionist Entity, for just a while longer.

Do you honestly take yourself seriously? Or do you just want others to do that?

March 14th, 2008, 9:38 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

The international world is trying to find a method for bringing justice to families, societies and countries that are victims of atrocities committed on civilians as well as assassinations of its leaders that will replace retaliatory assassination and warfare.

Well Friend in America why is USA so much against International War Crime Tribunals that it is pressuring countries to sign treaties not to give US citizens to these needed international courts.

US rulers know perfectly well that the a considerable number of the “customers” of these courts would be US and Israeli citizens.

The idea of legal systems is that everybody should be trialled in the same way. Also all the political murders had to be treated and inspected in the same way. Of course the Hariri trial is a pure political show and in the end it only undermines international legal system.

The Israeli army has killed 274 Palestinians, including 50 children and 18 women since the beginning of 2008. Can anybody say that these continuous mass murdering is not worth a international court. How many of the victims were actually such “terrorist” as Israel claims? Not to mention the happenings in Iraq. USA is now even not allowing UN to inspect US concentration camps and torture centres there. Amusingly the Brits and Iraqis allow the UN inspections. Hmmm what is there to hide ….

March 14th, 2008, 11:50 pm

 

Zenobia said:

lol.
Kingcrane,jr:

what’s a ‘social jew’… is that like… a person who at parties advertises themself as a jew?

and wait… whyyyy? do we want to keep the religious jewish people in the levant but not the non-religious??? isn’t the opposite more desirable. what does someone’s religiousity have to do with it anyway…
um.. what about if you just happen to be born and raised in Israel, can you stay then??

did you know that if someone who is not even an american citizen buys a ticket to america – flies here for a month or two and gives birth.. and then leaves with their child. Their child is an american and has full citizenship???
Now… IS THAT INSANITY? or what? thats all it takes. just got to come out of the womb…in america.. and you are american from then on. nothing else required. your parents don’t even have to live here for any length of time at all.

but on the other hand… there are other places where… somebody’s parents are foreign, and their offspring was born in the new country… raised there their whole life…and they can get deported back to some place they have never been before.

so, you think we should send Israelis off to some place they were not born?
lol.
but i agree about the Syrian bus drivers on the highways… they are maniacs on a death mission.

March 14th, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

Jason said:

It has become a mistaken truism now that Hezbollah and Syria reject the “International Tribunal.” Hezbollah has repeatedly stated that it only rejects a tribunal “outside” of Lebanon and fully supports a trial that takes place “inside” of Lebanon. The US propaganda machine is so fine tuned that by simply repeating over and oever that Hezbollah rejects the tribunal many have begun to believe it. Many have forgotten that Hezbollah accepts a trail that actually takes place in Lebanon. The idea being: A Lebanese crime–A Lebanese Tribunal, without foreign influence.

Hezbollah probably thinks, and rightfully so, that once the tribunal is in the US hands in The Hague that the US will implicate HA and Syria, which is rational. Even without evidence the US will accuse Syria and HA, as Landis and Young suggest. Hezbollah knows this and is why they are rejecting the International version of the Tribunal.

It’s safe to say that Bush will formally accuse Syria and Hezbollah of involvement regardless of evidence, leave office and then throw it on the next administration to deal with. Bush knows it will be political suicide for the next administration to engage Syria if this happens, especially if it’s a democratic administration.

March 15th, 2008, 12:29 am

 

Alex said:

Sources: Israel warned Syria it could pay price for any Hezbollah attack

Israel recently conveyed a warning to Syria through a third party that it would hold Damascus accountable for any Hezbollah attacks, Israeli and European sources said on Friday.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warning stemmed largely from Israeli concerns that Hezbollah would launch salvoes of cross-border rockets to coincide with any major Israeli offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The sources said the message was conveyed in February through at least one European intermediary following the assassination of a top Hezbollah commander and before this month’s five-day Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip in which more than 120 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed.

After the group’s senior commander, Imad Mughniyah, was killed in a bombing in Damascus, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel with “open war”.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and its main backer, Iran, accused Israel of being behind the assassination, a charge Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office denied in a rare public statement.

A European source familiar with the matter said the message conveyed to Damascus said Syria could be targeted by Israel even if Hezbollah’s attack emanated from Lebanese soil.

An Israeli source with knowledge of government affairs said: “The message was passed around late February, before the last round of fighting in Gaza.”

“It has become clear to us Syria has to understand there is a price for its use of proxy terrorism, especially as Damascus is itself a proxy — the long-arm of Iran,” the source said.

Another senior government official with knowledge of defense affairs declined comment on whether a message was sent to Damascus, but told Reuters: “This is sound strategy. Syria has significantly deepened its involvement with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon since the war.”

Asked about the risk of an Israeli attack on Syria in response to a Hezbollah attack, a British official said: “There is always a danger that a turn of events here could prompt something on the northern border, which would be a disaster.”

“The death of Moughniyah, the threatened Hezbollah retaliation does leave a spectre of a wider regional conflict,” the official said, playing down the chances of opening an Israeli-Syrian peace track under the circumstances.

“There’s an interest on both sides but I think it’s very difficult to move forward on it,” the official said, citing close ties between Syria and Iran. “It’s become far more difficult the idea of an Israeli-Syrian deal.”

March 15th, 2008, 1:06 am

 

Mr President said:

For sure the tribunal is a tool to get anyone and any political groups that are against M14/Saudi/Israel/USA. That was plan C all along. Plan A was the assassination itself of Rafiq Hariri. It was meant to create a majority, using unfair election law, which will disarm the resistance. Plan B was to ask Israel to fight a war to destroy the resistance and to force Shiite population to leave their destroyed homes in Lebanon. Once the Shiite were driven into refugee camps in Syria and elsewhere. They would not be allowed to come back to Lebanon by M14 (a repeat of the Palestinian story). after all why did the isreailis destroyed only infrastructure around shiite communites in Bekka and south Lebanon. Hence, a Sunni/druze/Maronite majority for ever. My recommendation is to create a new law in Syrian parliament that prevents any Syrian citizen, including the president, from appearing or responding to the tribunal. anyone who does is to be punished by prison sentence and extreme fines.

March 15th, 2008, 1:30 am

 

norman said:

Printer Friendly Version
Is The Bush Administration Switching Horses In Lebanon?

By Franklin Lamb

14 March, 2008
Countercurrents.org

Ditching the ‘Victor’ of Nahr el Bared for “Dr Death”?

Beirut: Barack v. Hillary isn’t the only Presidential election game in Washington these days. There is also the Samir v. Walid v. Michel (as in Geagea, Jumblatt and Suleiman) campaign underway as each seek through direct contact and surrogates, the US imprimatur in their quests to lead Lebanon.

This week it appears that Walid’s support is dropping faster than Hilary’s and Suleiman may end up like Fred Thompson (“failed to live up to expectations and not enough fire in the belly for the job”) and Geagea is skyrocketing faster than Barack did in February.

How so?

Despite months of heaping praises on Head of the Lebanese Army General Michel Suleiman, the Bush Administration has pretty much decided to dump the General, for reasons noted below by US Congressional sources.

Following successful visits by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt over the winter, the Bush administration is currently hosting and vetting long-shot candidate Dr. Samir Farid Geagea. He is the leader of the Lebanese Forces (the successor to Bashir Gemayel’s Kateib Phalange Militia founded by warlord Pierre Gemayel following his Berlin ‘fascist epiphany’ and declaration that “Lebanon needs some order like in Germany.” Robert Fisk instructs us that Pierre was never really the same when he returned to Beirut following Hitler’s near perfect showcase 1936 Berlin Olympics. Near perfect because Hitler did not plan on African-American James Cleveland Owens “Jesse” winning four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, long jump and the 4X 100m relay, a feat never equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Despite Geagea’s public image problem he is looking more promising these days (a photo showing him with his black piercing eyes and moustache with Sharon’s man during the Sabra-Shatila massacre, Elie Hobeika—a very evil looking duo if ever there was one—more realistic one imagines than DreamWorks studio could create, so scary in fact that during Halloween in Lebanon one can find this particularly haunting photo on certain Palestinian Camp utility poles to scare young children).

Why Geagea’s rise and the Jumblatt and Suleiman slippage?

The Current Handicap:

I. General and Head of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Michel Suleiman.

David Welch, who met with Geagea on March 12, and other administration officials, have reportedly given up on Lebanese Army Chief Michel Suleiman, not due so much to the now 16th postponement of his Presidential election but because Suleiman is becoming ‘shop worn’ plus an increasing ‘buyers remorse’.

The Welch Club (a number of US neocons, Cheney, Saudi Arabia, Jordan) has lost confidence in him, according to Hill sources, and they no longer trust the General to do their bidding. Suleiman has remained dignified and has tried to walk a tight rope above ‘the situation’ in Lebanon including a pool of very hungry political crocodiles, as best he could. The General has respectfully met plebeians and patriarchs and sultans and salafists and has for months listened attentively and politely to the concerns of each while pledging “to put Lebanon first”. That oft-heard statement is susceptible to various unsettling interpretations in Lebanon and has given pause to more than one faction. “He’s too comfortable with Hezbollah and Syria”, is what Congressional Staff Members on no fewer than 11 Congressional committees and subcommittees dealing with foreign policy, the Middle East, Appropriations, Armed services and Intelligence are being told as part of the ‘talking points’ flowing in and out of Congressional offices. Many in Congress think there will be no President of Lebanon until next year at the earliest—ten months away. Suleiman, some think, may decide to remain with his army where life is more stable.

II. Walid Jumblatt (Progressive Socialist Party—actually its neither progressive nor socialist and more a fraternity/tribe than a political party).

“Walid is over-qualified for the job”, some in Washington say as they prepare to renege on earlier pledges to him. Think Georgia Congressman John Lewis’ “I am 1000% for Hilary”—before he dumped her for Obama a couple of week ago).

Walid could maybe overcome the problem that his IQ is said to be ‘off the charts’, which itself makes Washington nervous, but he has other more serious problems.

One significant legal barrier for Jumblatt is the fact that the President of Lebanon currently must be a Maronite Christian—but given the right circumstances the ‘National Pact’ could theoretically be changed as the Lebanese Constitution Article 45 must be in order to allow General Suleiman to be chosen President since it requires a the two-year period out of the Army for the General before he could be President. But that feat would not be easy.

Walid’s fatal step for serious consideration to lead Lebanon was his comment last week that the Jerusalem attack on the Jewish Religious Institution, which killed 8 students, was a predictable reaction to the Israeli terrorism in Gaza. In Washington that is roughly the equivalent of “Client #9” doing Miss Kristen. That verbal act by Jumblatt sunk him and the previously admiring Israel lobby dropped him like a bad habit.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is now aiding the Geagea effort while Walid, long a favorite at the Bush White House especially with Cheney, has been losing ground faster than ‘front runner’ Rudy Giuliani imploded.

As if all this were not enough, as one Congressional Staffer reported to the Hill Rag last month “we have an ‘M Problem with both Geagea and Jumblatt in our efforts to get Lebanon a suitable President. With Geagea it’s M for Murder, as in four murder convictions (!) but with Jumblatt its M for Mental. Who would you choose?”

The buzz in Washington is that with Jumblatt, according to the same Hill Staffer, “you never know where he is coming from or when the Druze leader may show up wide-eyed from smoking something and talking crazy Voodoo or Zen shit, or whatever”.

A staffer on the House Judiciary Committee explained that Jumblatt “flip flops more than Romney did and next week he may do another deal with Syria and decide Nasrallah is his channeled long lost brother from a previous life and send his militia to train with Hezbollah for Christ’s sake! I am not joking. During his last visit to Washington one of his aids actually asked if Jumblatt could meet Shirley MacLaine!”

III. Dr. Samir Farid Geagea

By any stretch of the imagination, 30 months ago Samir Geagea was not anyone’s (except perhaps his own) candidate for the Presidency of Lebanon.

For 11 years until his July 26, 2005 release, he had been in a 6′ X 8’ dank cell, serving multiple death sentences converted to life with hard labor. It was a hard time. Unlike Nelson Mandela during his 27 years in prison, Geagea was not permitted to send or receive mail, to read books or periodicals containing political information about Lebanon, watch television or listen to the radio. He was handcuffed and blindfolded whenever taken out of his cell for exercise or brief visits with relatives and lawyers under the watchful eye of monitors. His guards were forbidden to converse with him beyond simple commands.

Geagea’s imprisonment was because he was convicted of murdering 6 people – only a small portion of his long list of war crimes according to his enemies.

His convictions included:

the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Rachid Karami
assassination of a former leading figure in the Lebanese Forces militia, Elias Zayek
assassination of Christian leader Dany Chamoun with his wife and two young children (ages 5 and 7)
assassination attempt against Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of the Interior Michel Murr
Geagea was released as a result of Amnesty legislation that also freed some Al Qaeda types.

Some in Lebanon feel he should never have been freed but his many supporters, including 170,000 who signed a Petition for his release, disagree.

They argue that all the legal files and proceedings brought against him and the Lebanese Forces are without foundation. They proclaimed during his incarceration on the Lebanese Forces website: “Samir Geagea is today, the only political prisoner in Lebanon. His crime is that of exercising his democratic rights. Samir Geagea, current leader of the Lebanese Forces. The only person in the history of our country who was given a choice to either leave Lebanon and never come back or to go to prison. … They [the Syrian-controlled Lebanese government including the Courts and most of the Judges at the time of Geagea’s convictions] thought they could accuse him and everyone would believe their lies. They thought wrong and here is the world condemning them, the Australian courts condemned them for fabricating evidence; the United Nations Human Rights Committees condemned them; and all those people who value the rule of law condemned them. Samir Geagea is an example of a man who is unselfishly devoted to a significant cause. He is a true model for all who believe in a just and reconciled Lebanon”.

Many consider Geagea a true Lebanese Patriot and many of his quotes are distributed around Christian areas:

“I would prefer to remain in prison for another 20 years than bargain my beliefs for freedom.”
– November 2004, speaking to a delegation from the Human Rights Committee of the Lebanese Parliament
“I have spent 11 horrific years in solitary confinement in a 6-square-meter dungeon three floors underground without sunlight or fresh air. But I endured my hardships because I was merely living my convictions.”
– 26 July 2005, on his release.
This week, Geagea had successful meetings with US National Security Advisor Steven Hadley who told Geagea that America was strongly committed to helping the Lebanese build an independent state, as the An-Nahar daily quoted a White House source as saying on Tuesday.

“The US is still strongly committed to help the Lebanese people fulfill their dream of building a free, independent and prosperous state,” Hadley told Geagea during their discussion of the kind of military aid Lebanon needs. Geagea also met with Assistant to Vice President Cheney for National Security Affairs John Hannah and US Secretary of State Rice and one of her undersecretaries David Welch.

According to An-Nahar’s correspondent in Washington, the unusually high level Geagea meetings “reflect US appraisal of him as a major March 14 movement leader”. And they wanted to discuss with him ways to help the Lebanese government achieve such goals and US worries of “continuous efforts” by Syria and Hezbollah to “undermine” Premier Fouad Siniora’s Cabinet.

Geagea has the ‘correct’ position on key issues and shares Bush administration views on practically every question. Regarding Shebaa Farms (a phony issue his delegation is claiming), disarming the Resistance (the sooner the better), the Hariri Tribunal (full steam ahead) the Damascus Arab League Conference (not until Lebanon has a President), shipping Lebanon’s Palestinians out of Lebanon (ASAP-ABI–As Soon As Possible-Anywhere But Israel!) and not to be naturalized in Lebanon. Finally, but not least, Geagea, just like the former leader of his militia, the murdered Bashir Gemayel, is thought to be Israel’s choice to lead Lebanon.

Geagea’s people are still testing the water in Washington as they hope to meet President Bush in the coming days. Publicly Geagea’s delegation still praises General Suleiman but without enthusiasm: “Our choice cannot be other than the primary choice, which is the Lebanese state and its institutions. As for the means to build this state and run it, the March 14 Forces will declare any decision we make at the appropriate time,” Geagea’s group told the Washington Press Corp on March 11.

Geagea is stressing in Washington that the Lebanese crisis “remains in the hands of the Lebanese, despite the fact that some factions are linked to other (foreign) powers….we are not looking for a western settlement to our cause. We have the settlement. We are looking for backing from all states of the world. We will ask for support even from China.”

Geagea’s dramatic rehabilitation in Bush administration eyes raised some eyebrows of its own in the House Judiciary Committee (subcommittee on Criminal Justice) when staff members and fans of Amy Winehouse, the British singer complained that she was denied a US Visa after Geagea got his (following years of being denied one). They demanded to know how an otherwise wholesome, drug troubled entertainer in rehab could fairly be denied a visa to come and receive a near record 5 Grammys, when Geagea got a visa in spite of clear and ‘iron clad’ US regulations forbidding it. But things quieted down and in the end Amy was also OK because Hollywood pressure squeezed the State Department and low and behold the US Embassy in London called her with the good news. But Amy declined it with a polite ‘thanks but no thanks’ having already made arrangements to appear at the Award’s ceremony via satellite.

Geagea’s Washington admirers point out that unlike other warlords in Lebanon, Geagea is said to have “an almost puritanical disdain for material concern”, as noted by historian Theodor Hanf in his voluminous study of the Lebanese war.

Washington Post correspondent Jonathan C. Randal, who is scathingly critical of Maronite militia leaders in his book on the war, described Geagea as “well-read, thoughtful, and possessed of a revolutionary soul.”

When asked to summarize the reason for the apparent Bush administration switch, a legislative aid on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Middle East opined with sarcasm:

“There are two politicians in Lebanon who generally speak the truth and can be counted on to keep their word and not sell out. Hassan Nasrallah and Samir Geagea. As you know Nasrallah is not currently the Bush administration candidate.”

Another added during the same conference call: “Cheney’s people like Geagea because he’s been tested. Nobody had the balls to defy Syria in the 1980s and early 90s. Even his pal Hobeika sold out. Geagea survived a brutal incarceration and before being jailed earned the respect of his people. Again, like Nasrallah, he is first of all a Lebanese Patriot. Geagea can’t be bought. He is not afraid of Syria, Iran or anyone else. He will play ball with Israel. Lebanon could do a lot worse with what is likely heading its way”.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

March 15th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

norman said:

I wonder what will save more lives in Syria , an American driven Democracy or few driving schools and security services giving tickets to speeders ?.

March 15th, 2008, 2:04 am

 

Zenobia said:

“Walid’s fatal step for serious consideration to lead Lebanon was his comment last week that the Jerusalem attack on the Jewish Religious Institution, which killed 8 students, was a predictable reaction to the Israeli terrorism in Gaza. In Washington that is roughly the equivalent of “Client #9″ doing Miss Kristen.

LOL LOL…

as usual, my government’s vileness astounds me.

March 15th, 2008, 2:43 am

 

Majhool said:

Excellent point Norman, knowing the state of traffic in Syria and if “saving lives” is to be taken in the physical sense and if incidents such as Hama don’t happen again, road accidents remains the number 1 killer in Syria.

It would be great idea for the “mukhabarat” to get off our backs a little and do something useful. it’s utter shame to see (every time i visit) cars on the highway driving in the wrong side of the road. Yes Syrians deserves better traffic controls (among other things of course)

March 15th, 2008, 2:51 am

 

Enlightened said:

New Article Washington Post:

The fight for Lebanon’s freedom
Written by Farid Ghadry and Sami El-Khoury, March 14, 2008
Friday, 14 March 2008

Today, Lebanon begins the third year after a historic demonstration mourning the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the populist former prime minister who has been credited with rebuilding Lebanon after 15 years of civil war. The Lebanese people have yet to see justice come to those responsible for his killing three years after more than one million Lebanese (that is one-third the country’s population) took to the streets of Beirut to protest his cold-blooded murder.

The peace march on March 14, 2005, dubbed the Cedar Revolution, gave birth to the “March 14” group, an amalgamation of all the political organizations opposed to Syria’s presence on Lebanese soil and who hold the majority of seats in the parliament. Since that momentous date, many Lebanese and Syrians alike believe that “March 14” has virtually squandered almost all the opportunities afforded to them by the international community. In fact, four different U.N. resolutions later, U.S. support of the Lebanese army, and a war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah that clipped Hezbollah’s wings, the group has yet to take advantage of these opportunities through bold actions.

After the expected but sudden departure from Baabda of Lebanese turncoat President Emile Lahoud, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice publicly encouraged “March 14” to elect a new Lebanese president because the group held majority seats in the parliament; one that can meet anywhere since its speaker, Nabih Berri, another Syrian operative, refused to convene it. The leadership of “March 14,” to the dismay of many Lebanese Americans, who have worked hard for U.S. help, refused to exercise its constitutional right to ignore Hezbollah and Syria and elect a new president for Lebanon.

“March 14,” from the start, took on a conciliatory tone with Hezbollah, yielding to many of its demands under the auspices of consensus-building and avoiding confrontation. That was by far their biggest blunder. With the exception of Samir Geagea, the vocal Christian leader, the organization has been unable to develop a cohesive strategy against Hezbollah terror. As an example, some in the leadership excluded other potent anti-Hezbollah players from their inner circle, which relieved them of greater options. One such Lebanese politician is Ahmad al-Assaad, a maverick Shi’ite with a notable history in Lebanese politics who was, and still is, willing to play spoiler to Hezbollah’s grand schemes. Mr. Assaad visited Washington lately and his message was powerful enough to get the attention of many in the Bush administration.

But unlike Mr. Assaad’s message of logic, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who also visited Washington several times in the past year, could not resist the occasion to shore up privately and publicly the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) and the former vice president of Syria, Abdul Halim Khaddam, a much-disliked figure inside Syria, at the behest of a scheme concocted in Saudi Arabia by Bandar Bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States. For those who are privy to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s own spin in Washington know well that he projects the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as a scarecrow by telling Western policy-makers that “If not me, it will be the SMB, Syria’s Hamas.” For Mr. Jumblatt not to be aware of Mr. Assad’s strategy in Washington is inexcusable, and for him to support a movement that is not only unacceptable in Syria and unwelcome in Washington but also promotes Mr. Assad’s own agenda is downright irresponsible.

During his last address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr. Jumblatt finally got it right and refrained from his overt support of the hard-core Islamists by calling for the United States to back the “credible opposition,” which many have come to interpret, and rightly so, as support for the Damascus Declaration opposition inside Syria. All is not lost, but unless “March 14” gets serious about Hezbollah by openly confronting the terrorist organization through such bold steps as striking a separate peace with Israel before Mr. Assad does at the expense of Lebanon, the movement will continue to struggle against an enemy that is far more effective because of its terror-laden tactics.

The United States has sent plenty of signals lately to the group that it is up to them to control their destiny. Should the organization fail to take the necessary steps to protect Lebanon from Hezbollah, eventually, even the United States may simply just abandon the group for its lack of resolve in favor of other rising Lebanese politicians with marketability and credibility such as Ahmad al-Assaad.

Farid Ghadry is president of the Reform Party of Syria. Sami El-Khoury, who served as consul to the Lebanese Embassy in Ecuador, is president of the World Maronite Union.

March 15th, 2008, 3:42 am

 

ausamaa said:

NAJI

“As tarnished as this reputation had become lately, there is hope… Vote for Obama…!”

But do you seriously beleive that Political America (machines and Voters) is emancipated, liberal and coloreless enough to elect someone like OBAMA. Whatever Happened to the victorious General Powell? A Nation that shuts its eyes to the murders committed by its President and writes them off as the acts of “wild” neo-con against possible threats from “outsiders” can be trusted to elect an “outsider” to become its new President? Are they not the same voters who gave “wild” Dubbya another lease on life when they voted him in again to office with landmarks such as Guantanamo Bay, Hundreds of Thousands of Dead Iraqies, and a never-ending war dotting the political landscape?

The American People certainly do not like double-proven loosers, but they are a long way from electing an Afro-American President. I am afraid that a cold-hearted version of “Archi Buncker”, called Jhon McCain is heading our way.

For the sake of all the people in the world, I hope I am grossly wrong this time!

March 15th, 2008, 4:24 am

 

Zenobia said:

Ausamma,
you are wrong.
americans are not that far at all from electing an african american if you count the population under the age of 25. the children of the baby boomers have emerged into their twenties and most of them have grown up in a very different color landscape. not their literal neighborhoods in the suburbs.. those are still segregated… but everything they listen to and watch in movies and television.. is now colored..education is different.

you have no idea because this was not so.. way back when.. when you lived here for awhile. It was not even so, when i was that age. but… it is a different world. the white boys in the suburbs grew up in the last ten years imitating the homeboys… you know. and Obama is the farthest thing from that… but he is still seasoned in chicago.
so what do you know – more young people came out to vote in these primaries than ever before.. and this is a phenomenal thing.

if McCain beats him…it is not going to be because he is black. it is because the machine will find some way to scare people, and go to work using the same nasty tactics it always has.. to make people think we still need a warmonger.
but i think the jury is out.
americans are pissed off. and this man has charisma like nobody has seen in a long time…more than bill clinton even.

don’t be so skeptical.

March 15th, 2008, 6:13 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Ausamaa says:
“Of course the Hariri trial is a pure political show and in the end it only undermines international legal system.” Many others here agree.

“Mr President” dreams up plans A,B,C above in a (likely permanent) fit of dementia.

The assassination of Hariri was the last nail in the coffin that the Syrian Regime built for itslef in a subconscious drive to its eventual suicide. Sure, it may end up sending a few sacrificial lambs to the altar, having cynically an permanently covered any links to a few in the top leadership – including Bashar – but it will never be the same once the real truth is revealed.

The United States ends up in the mind of hopelessly irresponsible Arabs – a probable vocal (noisy!) minority – being responsible for all the ills in the world. Well, it’s not! The U.S.A. saved Europe and the world from the Nazi racists and sets an example for how real democracy should be run, how it can be a welcoming land to anyone willing to play by the rules and to work hard. Many Jews are among those and they have risen to prominence in business, academia, and politics, in the U.S. in numbers significantly higher than their demographic prercentage. What have (most) Arabs done? Engage in internecine fighting whenever they were not busy squandering their resources and engaging in their favorite pastime: farniente, or be intransigent to the accommodation of their semite cousins seeking a place to relocate after being subjected to genocide in Europe. The lack of personal responsibility and the imaginary vision blaming everything on the U.S. and the Jews by many Arabs is self-destructive. What has the U.S. done but shown the way in creating prosperity, innovating technology, working hard (and continuing to work) at overcoming internal discrimination, and, yes, defending vigorously against any and all envious external forces seeking to subvert their own surroundings and revert humanity to old systems of corruption.

Wake up people. Get a life. Get to work and stop blaming the US. Accept the fact that the Syrian Regime is going to pay for its crimes, sooner or later.

March 15th, 2008, 6:26 am

 

MSK said:

Ya Alex,

The Germans seem to have returned back to the side of the US in their approach towards the Syrian regime:

“Deutschland wird nach den Worten Merkels auch an der gegenwärtigen Isolation Syriens festhalten. Alle Gespräche mit Syrien seien bislang sehr enttäuschend verlaufen. Syrien werde seiner Verantwortung bei der Wahl eines neuen Präsidenten im Libanon nicht gerecht, sagte Merkel. Außerdem habe Syrien bis zum heutigen Tag das Nachbarland nicht diplomatisch anerkannt. Deshalb solle in der gegenwärtigen Phase allein EU-Chefdiplomat Javier Solana Gespräche mit der syrischen Regierung führen. Kehre Syrien auf den Weg der Rationalität zurück, seien die Türen wieder offen, sagte Merkel.”

(Germany will, in Merkel’s [German chancellor, i.e. prime minister] words, stick to the current isolation of Syria. All talks held with Syria so far have been very disappointing. Syria is not living up to its responsibility in the election of a new president in Lebanon, Merkel said. Also, Syria has until the present day not diplomatically recognized the neighboring country. Therefore shall in the current phase only EU chief diplomat Javier Solana hold talks with the Syrian government. Should Syria return to the path of rationality, the doors will be open again, said Merkel.)

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,541638,00.html

–MSK*

March 15th, 2008, 10:20 am

 

offended said:

I agree with Majhool and Norman, if the word gets spread between motorists in Syria that the security forces are now tasked with the mission of patrolling the roads in unmarked cars and ‘ticketing’ the violators, traffic accidents will drop dramatically.

Here in UAE there was a 250 cars pile-up couple of days ago. Only 3 people got killed. In Syria all it takes is one swerving vehicle and the victims are in dozens. Very sad…

March 15th, 2008, 10:24 am

 

anon said:

“Can Tribunal Change Syrian Policy”?
This question exposes the true motive for the entire enterprise.

The tribunal is to coerce and control Syria (if not outright regime change), as another tool short of overt declared war.

It is not to get to the truth behind who killed Hariri. It also reveals who was REALLY behind this targeted killing- motive- who benefits?

Show us the evidence or shut up.

March 15th, 2008, 10:48 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Sounds like “Mr. President” has figured us out. Dang it – I knew sooner or later someone would! I was just hoping we’d first accomplish our Zionist Entity conspiracy, before getting caught…

By the way, this guy, “THEOTHERPOINTOFVIEW”, reminds me an awful lot of AIG. Hmmm…. maybe, just maybe…. nah. Well, maybe still? 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 11:21 am

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

If I was advising Obama, I’d say to put up some ads on TV reminding viewers that Obama’s adversaries are: “Hillary… RODHAM… Clinton”, and “John… SIDNEY… McCain”. And then I’d repeat those middle names again and again and again… 🙂 And then let’s see someone make an issue of the “Hussein” bit again.

At least his first name isn’t “Saddam”. Now that would have made for quite a challenge in the current elections… If he wins, I’ll personally recommend for our current head of the Labor party to change his name to “Ehud Barak Obama”. Maybe that’ll increase his chances of becoming the next PM. Though I doubt it…

March 15th, 2008, 11:30 am

 

offended said:

Topov (Russian mob?=theotherpointofview?) said:

The assassination of Hariri was the last nail in the coffin that the Syrian Regime built for itslef in a subconscious drive to its eventual suicide.

Come on mate, you forget the other following nails: the last nail, and the one ‘before the last’ nail and the one before that…what about the assassination of Jubran Twaini? what about Eido and Ghanem? what about Samir Kaseer?… aren’t those other nails in the coffins as well? or was it different kind of nails in someone else’s coffin?

at least if you want to use literary metaphore, try to think it through and through…

March 15th, 2008, 12:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Zenobia,

You know better, you live there, I only get my info from watching cable TV, the internet, reading few best sellers, and from few other observations that maybe irrelevant!

Let us hope so any way. What is life without hope?!

March 15th, 2008, 1:13 pm

 

ausamaa said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Ausamaa says:.. bla, bla,bla…

While I agree with what you qouted, actually it was not me who said all that, but other people more intelligent than I am.

And as to your ending comment: “Wake up people. Get a life. Get to work and stop blaming the US”, I would love to take what you say at face value and to stop accusing the US of being the source of our troubles in the Middle East, however (and with a Capital H), the extensive peace-keeping presence of US military forces in the area, including the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, the meddling in Lebanon, and the continuous supply of US Weapons to Israel does not support your argument that the US is an innoncent, democracy seeking, kind-hearted, helping bystander.

It is US gun boats that are circeling our shores, and not Syrian gun boats that are appearing on the horizon of Philly, or New York city.

Ah,, unless you also really believe that GOD has assigned the US the devine right and job of correcting by force whatever mistakes HE has committed.

March 15th, 2008, 1:28 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

I am here to present you what some call the “FoxNews” point of view – although I don’t always agree with their style or with their content. The fact is that the US puruses its interests just like any other countries pursue their interests. It is also not without blame over the course of history for many mistakes. Yet, at this point, the comparison with how most Arab countries behave shows nothing less than a huge abyss of separation – unfavroable to the Arab countries. With a population exceeding 100Million (maybe 150Million or more, depending on which countries are counted), i.e., 20 to 25x Israel’s population, with financial resources that would have, in capable hands, transformed the whole Middle East into Paradise with health benefits, education, and prosperity for all, what instead they have to show for it is a dysnunctional group of countries finding no other excuse than to blame the U.S. and Israel.

The US may have made mistakes in attacking Iraq, but they sure were pushed to the brim by Saddam’s hypocrisy and cruelty to his people. At some point, someone has to put a stake in the ground and act. The US did. The Shi’a in Iraq, as well as Iran, better acknowledge that without the US they would still be oppressed in one case and distracted with another front in the other. And to all those who complain about the US presence attracting al-qaeda types, well, here the US has succeeded in taking the fight outside its borders, with no repeat of 9/11 since that time. It may be a cynical view but the facts corroborate it.

Hamas’ dream of a single Palestinian country replacing Israel is just lunacy as well as cruelty since it perpetuates the misery of the Palestinian people just like all the “front-of-refusal” (jabhatool-rafd) has done over the years of the conflict. If Arabs circled the wagons, united, allowed reason and common sense to prevail, weeded out corruption, and followed the example of the US and Israel in managing their internal affairs, they would have, jointly with the US and Israel, created one of the most prosperous and stable regions in the world. Alas, it may well take much more conflict and bloodshed for the right generation of Arabs to see the light and reach for it.

March 15th, 2008, 1:50 pm

 

norman said:

Zenobia, Nour,
Look at what the ( Another point of view ) Said ,

He counted us as one Nation , so Why can’t we have one Nation ,

We should do better.

March 15th, 2008, 2:08 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

… and, the US is NOT meddling in Lebanon; Syria is. The US is not arming any militia nor subverting the Lebanese constitution. It is simply expressing support for the rule of law and the application of the rules as they are. How ironic that Hezbollah and Syria were all for applying the rules as they defined them throughout the years of Syrian domination, and now, all of a sudden, forgo their applications. All the talks of an unconstitutional Lebanese government that is violating the unwritten rules (al-meethaaq al-watanee) is hocus pocus and really bogus. Any reading of the rules and the constitution says that only the parliament can withdraw “confidence” from the government. But the Opposition in Lebanon will not play by the rules but wants to change them to ensure its own agenda.

Syria is:
– refusing to establish an embassy in Lebanon
– refusing to ced the Shebaa farms to Lebanon, thus perpetuating the lame excuse that HA is using to maintain its weapons (knowing full well that once this excuse disappears, they’ll find another)
– allowing weapons unfettered access through the border to HA
– sabotaging any diplomatic efforts at resolution
– playing the crazy “General” like a pawn to its own interests
– sheltering all naysayers from the Arab world
– most importantly, engaging in cruel political assassinations in Lebanon, partly as revenge, and partly in the hopes of maintaining their influence.

Now, that IS interference if there was ever one. What has the US done ?

Personal responsibility is what the Arabs need. Some have it and most of those have emigrated away in disgust.

I read the repeated diatribes of Ausamaa, Simohurtta, and others and see in them pitiful absolution of any responsibility for the Arabs. It is time the Arabs stop balming everything on Israel’s military superiority. What are they lacking to match the Israeli strength? Let the Arabs use their strengths, energy, and resources, to get to a point where they can negotiate from a position of strength, strength through self-improvement and NOT through destroying others – something a terrible minority of Arabs excels at, and a larger minority excels at cheering.

I’m sorry, but you have not made any arguments in my research of this blog that carries any persuasion weight. Bottom line is still: wake up and get with the program of improving yourselves instead of blaming and destroying others. Until you do, you will continue to be abject failures that are good at nothing more than hollow complaints against “imperialistic regimes, meddling in our internal affairs, blindly supporting Israel, subverting the rights of the Palestinian people, etc…”

March 15th, 2008, 2:15 pm

 

kramer said:

aussama said it is experience gained from the acts of Jemail, Ja’ja and Sharon committed against the unprotected Palestinians in Lebanon after the PLO left in 1982

aussama it was elie hobeika alias abu ali and years later syrian regime officers with their lebanese allies of amal resumed the massacres of unprotected palestinian civilians .they did even worse than israel.

March 15th, 2008, 3:55 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Simohurtta and others –
In a prior comment I stated that it is the people of the smaller countries that need the International War Crimes Tribunal. They need it because there is no other recourse for crimes against humanity except a war of revenge and revenge invites retaliatory revenge.
The U.S., and Russia I believe, are hesitant about signing the international treaty that created the International Tribunal. For some it is for sovereignty reasons, for others a lack of confidence in even handed justice. As time passes a record of proceedings of the International Tribunals will ease those apprehensions.

You cite some recent incidents that cry for justice. I assume the Israelis also have their incidents. I am not in a position to determine whether these incidents come under the jurisdiction of the War Crimes Tribunal. If others find that it is, it is up to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and their supporters to go to The Hague and make their case. I suspect they will not. That means we can continue to complain about “selectivity.” No tribunal will be established unless a case is brought to The Hague.

Interestingly, the underlying premise in this dialogue is whether an international authority can bring peace and justice to the levant. If so, should that authority be something other than judicial?

March 15th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

Naji said:

Contrast Syria’s principled stance against the various stances of all the “other sides”…!

“Report: Syria wants ‘public’ peace talks with Israel
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Reuters

Syria has recently relayed a message to Israel conveying the county’s interest in peace talks with Israel, but on the condition that talks will be held openly and not under fire, Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Saturday.

According to the report, Damascus passed the message on to Israel via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the newspaper report, the Syrians demand a series of conditions in that message that must be fulfilled before it will commence a peace process, the first of which is the condition that talks will not be held “under fire.” The Syrians explained that by “under fire” they do not mean an armed conflict between Israel and Syria, but rather the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Another Syrian condition is that the talks be held publicly, and accompanied by Israeli gestures to assure the Syrians that they are ready to withdraw from all “occupied Arab territories,” Al-Akhbar reported.

A third condition, according to the report, is that Israel hold simultaneous diplomatic talks with Lebanon and the Palestinians alongside peace talks with Syria.

However, “knowledgeable” sources told Al-Akhbar that Damascus estimates that the United States isn’t interested in Israel holding talks with Syria, and will act to prevent such talks from taking place.

Sources: Israel warned Syria it could pay price for any Hezbollah attack

In contrast to the Syrian peace overtures, Israel has recently conveyed a stern message to Damascus, also via a third party, stating that it would hold Damascus accountable for any Hezbollah attacks, Israeli and European sources said on Friday.

Israel recently conveyed a warning to Syria through a third party that
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warning stemmed largely from Israeli concerns that the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah would launch salvoes of cross-border rockets to coincide with any major Israeli offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The sources said the message was conveyed in February through at least one European intermediary following the assassination of a top Hezbollah commander and before this month’s five-day Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip in which more than 120 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed.

After the group’s senior commander, Imad Mughniyah, was killed in a bombing in Damascus, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Israel with “open war”.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and its main backer, Iran, accused Israel of being behind the assassination, a charge Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office denied.

A European source familiar with the matter said the message conveyed to Damascus said Syria could be targeted by Israel even if Hezbollah’s attack emanated from Lebanese soil.

An Israeli source with knowledge of government affairs said: “The message was passed around late February, before the last round of fighting in Gaza.”

“It has become clear to us Syria has to understand there is a price for its use of proxy terrorism, especially as Damascus is itself a proxy – the long-arm of Iran,” the source said.

Another senior government official with knowledge of defense affairs declined comment on whether or not a message had been sent to Damascus, but told reporters that “this is sound strategy. Syria has significantly deepened its involvement with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon since the [2006 Second Lebanon] war.”

Asked about the risk of an Israeli attack on Syria in response to a Hezbollah attack, a British official said “there is always a danger that a turn of events here could prompt something on the northern border, which would be a disaster.”

“The death of Mughniyah, the threatened Hezbollah retaliation, does leave a specter of a wider regional conflict,” the official said, playing down the chances of opening an Israeli-Syrian peace track under the circumstances.

“There’s an interest on both sides but I think it’s very difficult to move forward on it,” the official said, citing close ties between Syria and Iran. “It’s become far more difficult the idea of an Israeli-Syrian deal.” “

March 15th, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

idaf said:

A balanced view from Robert Fisk. If only all journalists view things in context regarding the ME..

Robert Fisk: Silenced by the men in white socks

The Damascus Spring has presaged no golden summer for Syria

Shut them up. Accuse them. Imprison them. Stop them talking. Why is it that this seems to have become a symbol of the Arab – or Muslim – world? Yes I know about our Western reputation for free speech; from the Roman Empire to the Spanish inquisition, from Henry VIII to Robespierre, from Mussolini and Stalin to Hitler, even – on a pitiable scale – to Mr Anthony Blair. But it’s getting hard to avoid the Middle East.

When Egyptian women cry “Enough!”, they are sexually abused by Mubarak’s cops. When Algerians demand to know which policemen killed their relatives, they are arrested for ignoring the regime’s amnesty. When Benazir Bhutto is murdered in Rawalpindi, a cloak of silence falls over the world’s imams. Pontificating about the assassination in Pakistan, Shaikh es-Sayed, who runs one of Canada’s biggest mosques, expressed his condolences to “families of beloved brothers and sisters who died in the incident [sic]”. Asked why he didn’t mention Bhutto’s name, he replied: “Why? This is not a political arena. This is about religion. That’s politics.” Well, it certainly is in Syria. George Bush – along with M. Sarkozy – has been berating Damascus for its lack of democracy and its human rights abuses and its supposed desire to gobble up Lebanon and “Palestine” and even Cyprus. But I always feel that Syria had a raw deal these past 90 years.

First came the one-armed General Henri Gouraud, who tore Lebanon off from Syria in 1920 and gave it to the pro-French Christians. Then Paris handed the Syrian coastal city of Alexandretta to the Turks in 1939 – sending survivors of the 1915 Armenian genocide into exile for a second time – in the hope that Turkey would join the Allies against Hitler. (The Turks obliged – in 1945!) Then in the Six Day War, Syria lost the Golan Heights – subsequently annexed by Israel. Far from being expansionist, Syria seems to get robbed of land every two decades.

On the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000 – it’s extraordinary how, like Sharon now that he is comatose, we come to like these old rogues once they’ve departed – we were told there was to be a “Damascus Spring”. I always thought this a bit dodgy. I’d experienced the Lebanon Spring and read about the Ukraine Spring and I’m old enough to remember the Prague Spring, which ended in tears and tanks. And sure enough, the Damascus Spring presaged no golden summer for Syria.

Instead, we’ve gone back to the midnight knock and the clanging of the cell door. Why – oh why – must this be so? Why did the Syrian secret police have to arrest Dr Ahmed Thoma, Dr Yasser el-Aiti, Jabr al-Shufi, Fayez Sara, Ali al-Abdulla and Rashed Sattouf in December, only days after they – along with 163 other brave Syrians – had attended a meeting of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic Change? The delegates had elected Dr Fida al-Hurani head of their organisation. She, too, was arrested, and her husband, Dr Gazi Alayan, a Palestinian who had lived in Syria for 18 years, deported to Jordan.

The net spread wider, as they say in police reports. The renowned Syrian artist Talal Abu Dana was arrested up in Aleppo, his studio trashed and his paintings destroyed. Then on 18 February, Kamel al-Moyel from the lovely hill town of Zabadani, on the steam train route from Damascus, was picked up by the boys in white socks. A point of explanation here. Almost all Middle East Moukhabarat men – perhaps because a clothing emporium has won a concession for the region’s secret policemen – wear white socks. The only ones who don’t are the Israeli variety, who wear old baseball hats.

Needless to say, the Syrian prisoners were not ignored by their regime. A certain Dr Shuabi, who runs a certain Data and Strategic Studies Centre in Damascus, appeared on al-Jazeera to denounce the detainees for “dealing with foreign powers”. Dr al-Hurani suffered from angina and was briefly sent to hospital before being returned to the Duma jail. But when the prisoners were at last brought to the Palace of Justice, Ali al-Abdulla appeared to have bruises on his body. Judge Mohamed al-Saa’our – the third investigative judge in Damascus, appointed by the ministry of interior – presided over the case at which the detainees were accused of “spreading false information”, forming a secret organisation to overthrow the regime, and for inciting “sectarian and racist tendencies”. The hearing, as they say, continues.

But why? Well, back on 4 December, George Bush met at the White House – the rendezvous was initially kept secret – the former Syrian MP Mamoun al-Homsi (who currently lives, dangerously perhaps, in Beirut) with Amar Abdulhamid, a member of a think thank run by a former Israeli lobbyist, and Djengizkhan Hasso, a Kurdish opposition activist. Nine days later, an official “source” leaked the meeting to the press. Which is about the time the Syrian Moukhabarat decided to pounce. So whose idea was the meeting? Was it, perhaps, supposed – once it became public – to provoke the Syrian cops into action?

The Damascus newspaper Tichrine – the Syrian equivalent of Private Eye’s Rev Blair newsletter – demanded to know why Washington was showing such concern for human rights in Syria. Was not the American-supported blockade of one and a half million Gaza Palestinians a violation of the rights of man? Had not the Arabs seen all too clearly Washington’s concern for the rights of man in Abu Ghraib and Guanatanamo? All true. But why on earth feed America’s propaganda machine (Syria as the centre of Hamas/ Hiz-bollah/Islamic Jihad terror, etc) with weekly arrests of middle-aged academics and even, it transpires, the vice-dean of the Islamic studies faculty at Damascus University?

Of course, you won’t find Israel or the United States engaged in this kind of thing. Absolutely not. Why, just two months ago, the Canadian foreign minister, Maxime Bernier, discovered that a confidential document sent to Canadian diplomats included a list of countries in which prisoners risked being tortured – and the names of America and Israel were on the list! Merde! Fortunately for us all, M. Bernier knew how to deal with such pernicious lies. The document, he announced, “wrongly includes some of our closest allies. It doesn’t represent the opinion or the policy of the (Canadian) government”. Even though, of course, the list is correct.

But M. Bernier managed to avoid and close down the truth, just as Mr Mubarak does in Cairo and President Bouteflika does in Algiers and just as the good Shaikh es-Sayed did in Toronto. Syria, according to Haitham al-Maleh, a former Syrian judge, claims there are now almost 3,000 political prisoners in Syria. But how many, I wonder, are there in Algeria? Or in Egypt? Or in the hands – secret or otherwise – of the United States? Shut them up. Lock them up.

March 15th, 2008, 5:14 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

AIG can be back March 16th if he wants to.

The new “ANOTHER” above is not posting from the same IP address like AIG, but he/she is ANOTHER example of the anti Syrian regime crusaders with tendency to not be affected by a single argument on this blog from all of us idiots who come up with nothing sane or convincing no matter how much we participate here over the past few years.

“I’m sorry, but you have not made any arguments in my research of this blog that carries any persuasion weight.”

And he/she did manage to come up with AIG-like lists, like this one:

Syria is:
– refusing to establish an embassy in Lebanon
– refusing to ced the Shebaa farms to Lebanon, thus perpetuating the lame excuse that HA is using to maintain its weapons (knowing full well that once this excuse disappears, they’ll find another)
– allowing weapons unfettered access through the border to HA
– sabotaging any diplomatic efforts at resolution
– playing the crazy “General” like a pawn to its own interests
– sheltering all naysayers from the Arab world
– most importantly, engaging in cruel political assassinations in Lebanon, partly as revenge, and partly in the hopes of maintaining their influence.

in which

1) any ally of Syria (the crazy General) is attacked
2) all kinds of assumptions are liberally used … like Syria being behind all the killings in Lebanon.

So it does not matter who the new ANOTHER is … what matters is that their mentality suffered one failure after another … and it is on its way out most likely.

Unfortunately, a million dead Iraqis paid for this test experiment of these Black and White visionaries.

March 15th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

Take the same list of Syrian conditions for starting the talks and compare them to the way “Syrian opposition” or M14 or Saudi or Neocon media outlets will report the same piece of news. Al-Syassa would probably put it this way:

The Syrian regime begged the Turkish prime minister to convince the Israelis to talk to them and help save their criminal minority regime which is about to fall. Sources close to the Turkish prime minister told Al-Syassa that Bashar sounded hysterical when he was begging.

The Syrians offered to help the Israelis assassinate Khaled Mashal in Damascus the same way they allowed them to assassinate Imad Mughniyeh. They also offered to take all Palestinian refugees provided Bashar and Asef and Maher each gets paid two billion dollars in their sercet Swiss accounts …

March 15th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
If you do not erase your comment, it will be reported tomorrow by Al-Seyassa, as confirmed by the authoritative Prof. Landis, who is close to the regime…etc. 🙂

It is remarkable how consistent and principled the Syrian position is…! Why doesn’t somebody take it at face value, call the Syrian “bluff”, and try to work with the three “conditions”…?!

Also, why aren’t the likes of Shai, or the likes of AIG, discussing the merits and reasonableness of these specific Syrian demands, rather than all kids of esotic issues related to the merits of Zionism, Arabism, Iran-ism, democracy, or who has the worst human-rights record in the region (a complicated competition!!), etc…??!!

March 15th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

the US is NOT meddling in Lebanon

Hoo, what a laugher!

March 15th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

Naji said:

Btw, I guess poor QN is too embarassed to show up after that shameful M14 Declaration of yesterday…! My sincere condolences 🙁

But there is hope… Just listen to (well, …better read…) The General’s retort of today…! 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, Naji,

Israel is clearly continuing to play to Washington’s tunes. Though according to some sources, Track I messages have returned in recent days via Turkey (remember, the Israeli warning to Syria came a few weeks ago, before the IDF operation in Gaza). So it’s not clear right now what the Israeli leadership wants to do vis-a-vis Syria. I guess the next few weeks will probably tell, because given the continuation of violence, something’s bound to erupt yet again, and then we’ll see if or how Israel relates to Syria.

There is something that puzzled me somewhat regarding the recent Syrian message, and its 3 conditions, to Israel. In particular, the voluntary clarification on the condition that talks must not take place “under fire”. The clarification was that Syria didn’t mean that Israel and Syria couldn’t talk while fighting each other, but rather that they couldn’t talk while Israel and the Palestinians were fighting. If I understand that correctly, it’s almost a subtle insinuation that Syria and Israel CAN continue to “fight one another” while restarting talks. Now of course that sounds ludicrous, unless you consider the wider scope, being Hezbollah or Hamas. That is, Syria might be suggesting here that she is willing to continue talking to Israel while Israel blasts away at Hezbollah (if it happened again), but not while Israel is hitting Hamas. If that’s true, then this is a very interesting development, because it basically suggests that Syria is willing to “sell away” Hezbollah, or at least not support it at all costs. It will not, however, do the same to the Palestinians – it won’t sell them out.

I might be misinterpreting things, but there is some subtlety here, and Syria is well known to carefully measure her words (Bashar’s messages). She wouldn’t have made that “clarification”, unless it was supposed to mean something, or send certain parties certain messages. Do you agree? And what do you think about this issue? Can Syria get away with it, if I’m right?

Naji, I’m sorry, I was away most of the day, and yesterday. I’m back now to tackle some of these issues more closely. I of course agree with Syria’s rationale about her 3 conditions, and of course hail Bashar’s continued efforts to bring us to the table, and to return to some sanity. On this issue, I couldn’t be more on your side! To make that clear.

March 15th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Alex,

– I did not say “Syria [is] (…) behind all the killings in Lebanon.” I said, and you quoted, “[Syria is] engaging in cruel political assassinations in Lebanon.” There is a difference, which is the word “all” you inserted.

– I did not attack “any ally of Syria,” I singled out “the crazy ‘General'” whose shifting allegiances are obviously motivated by personal ambition — at least it’s obvious to objective observers and virtually all European analysts.

– You believe, (or at least hope), that the kind of mentality I have and which is shared by many “is on its way out most likely.” All you have to do is wait for the US elections in November to see that an Obama-surrender option will have no chance of getting traction once the valid arguments of McCain are made in the focussed campaign that will precede it. In courtyard fights, there will be some well-meaning decent folks, like Shai, who will want to be conciliatory with the out-of-control wild kid out to hit anyone in his/her path. Then, at some point, one of the strong-minded, strong-willed, and simply strong kids will see and effect the only viable solution: a definitive forcible blow to put the wild kid in his/her place. That’s what the US has done, and will continue to do… until, one day, we hope soon, enough reasonable majorities develop the guts to overturn their governments and snap them into self-accountability, self-respect, and self-correction. Then we’ll have peace. The US waited communism out and triumphed. The same will happen with the Arab-style extremism.

My view is shared by a majority of hard working and well meaning American folks. We speak our minds. We vote our opinions. We have prevailed. We will continue to prevail. We are well meaning and will collaborate with anyone on the Arab side who uses reason, law, and assumes responsibility for their action.

March 15th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

SHAI,

No, no, no… you got it a little wrong. Syria is actually saying that we can not negotiate with Israel while Israel is Bombarding and Starving the Palestinians and Threatning the Lebanese. IT means, Israel has to show goodwill in those areas before Syria can enter into a negotiations with Israel.

Syria is saying: we know you Need to negotiate with us, we can accomodate that, but, first, show us signs of goodwill that will convince us and our allies that you mean business.

And keep in mind, when Syria talks about Peace, Syria means a Package (242,338, and the whole basket), and not the single-track approach.

March 15th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

No, I completely understand that part – I agree with it of course. But I’m not focusing on the Palestinian part, which is clear. I’m focusing on the voluntary clarification Syria made, saying that “under fire” didn’t mean Israel and Syria fighting, but rather Israel and the Palestinians. Why would Israel even think that Syria would mean by “under fire” both parties fighting? When was the last time Israel and Syria fought directly? I think there’s some subtlety here, which suggests that Syria will allow Israel to fight Hezbollah while talking to Syria, but of course not the Palestinians. If all Syria wanted to say was that Israel needs to show good will, and stop hurting the Palestinians, why the clarification about Syria and Israel? I’m not sure we can dismiss this bit about Hezbollah… I want to think about it some more. It basically suggests, if true, that Syria recognizes that it MUST be seen as 100% behind the Palestinians, that is, not forgetting them or selling them out, while restarting talks with Israel. But it may not feel the same way about Hezbollah, and might be willing to have Israel pound them again in a 3rd round, while continuing to talk.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I like this, I’m just trying to see if there’s some subtle hint here, and if so, why. Is it because Bashar has reached the decision that he will not let Iran/Hezbollah ruin possible peace initiatives vis-a-vis Israel? I could see some rationale in that. But of course the same could not be true towards the Palestinians.

March 15th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

… and by the way, Alex, we’re open to persuasion if we read factual information or reasoned opinions backed by facts that do make sense. Neither I nor my similarly thinking colleagues have recognized any posts as such. We read brainwashed propaganda, like “divine victory” etc. It makes us think back to phrases like the “mother of all battles” and such: hollow, emotional, meaningless, always blaming others.

March 15th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Naji said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW,
…I don’t know who would, in his right mind, try to persuade you or your “colleagues” of anything…, or who would need to…!?

Instead of engaging in the kind of hostile propaganda you accuse the others of, if you were serious or sincere, you would take the Syrian position at face value, call the Syrian “bluff”, and try to work with the three “conditions”…!

You would be “discussing the merits and reasonableness of these specific Syrian demands, rather than all kinds of esoteric issues related to the merits of Zionism, Arabism, Iran-ism, democracy, or who has the worst human-rights record in the region (a complicated competition!!), etc…??!! “

March 15th, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

Did you see my comment to you (above)? And its continuation in the response to Ausamaa. What do you think of this point?

March 15th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

The problem with Syria’s position is that the Americans and Israelis take it as “Syrian demands” .. excessive Syrian demands.

Some of them don’t always understand that if they want real peace, not only a peace treaty signed by President Assad, then they need to accept Syria’s position that the whole area is connected and you can’t make peace with one against the interests of the others.

At the next Summit in Damascus there should be some re-launch (with a deadline?) of the Arab peace plan. Israel will need to makeup its mind if it is really interested in peace with the Arab world or not.

Nur,

It is simple, why do you consistently fail to understand?

1) The US is “good”

2) meddling in Lebanon is “bad”

3) The Syrian regime is bad

Therefore we know for a fact that it is the Syrian regime, and only the Syrian regime, that is meddling in Lebanon.

This is the beauty of the clarity and consistency that the Neocons brought us.

While Intel and AMD sell 64-bit CPUs for under $100 … the neocons’ computer has the simple 1-bit logic … a single transistor … ON state (Good)/OFF state (Bad).

And they wonder why their calculations are rarely accurate.

March 15th, 2008, 7:45 pm

 

offended said:

We have a new ‘another’ in the block. Wonderful.

TOPOV (theotherpointofview)

I have a question for you; I need an answer with a yes or no please.

This kind of brainwashing propaganda you referred to (divine victory, mother of all battles…etc..) is it only peculiar to Arab leaders? Or do you think American leaders and Israeli leaders and British leaders use it as well?

March 15th, 2008, 7:50 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Using the same rationale (ON/OFF), the neocon’s calculations cannot be wrong, because RIGHT means “Dubya in office the past 8 years”, and WRONG means “Dubya not in office the past 8 years”. So, every time they’re RIGHT. Capisce?

March 15th, 2008, 7:50 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

I often use “Mother of All Mother-in-Laws”… does that count? 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 7:51 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Nice to read counterbalancing views on this blog. This makes it more interesting for sure.

March 15th, 2008, 7:52 pm

 

offended said:

Lol Shai, if you use that against your own mother in law, then it sure counts!

March 15th, 2008, 7:53 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
…good stuff…!! This is one of your better evenings…! 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

One of those cases where you say “Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear you’re sick. How long have you been sick for?”, and the response you get is “In another 11 months, it’ll be a year!”…

March 15th, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

offended said:

Okay, here’s another hysterical scenario from Al Seyassa (Alex, I beat you to it this time!)…honestly, I couldn’t stop laughing since and I am still laughing right now!

تحول ملف اغتيال عماد مغنية في دمشق الشهر الماضي الى عبء يقض مضاجع كبار المسؤولين في النظام السوري والذين باتوا يتقاذفون كرة الاتهامات حول الاغتيال بعدما ارتدت هذه الكرة الى الداخل السوري وبات بعض المسؤولين يستخدمونها ورقة مواجهة في خلافاتهم الداخلية, مع الاشارة الى ان الرئيس بشار الاسد عهد بمسؤولية التحقيق الى حافظ مخلوف المسؤول في المخابرات العامة والمقرب جداً منه.
ونقل موقع »يقال نت« عن مصادر مطلعة ان الخلافات تغلغلت حتى بلغت حدود الاسرة »الاسدية« في ضوء المواجهة الساخنة بين بشار الاسد وشقيقته بشرى التي احتجت على الامتهان المتكرر لزوجها اللواء آصف شوكت والايحاء الدائم بمسؤوليته عن اغتيال مغنية, وقد وصل الامر الى حد قيام الاسد بصفع شقيقته وفق ما تروي بشرى للمقربين منها.
وتتقاطع هذه المعلومات مع ما نشره موقع »ستراتفور« الاميركي المتخصص بعمليات الاستعلام الخاصة – وهو من المواقع الرصينة – حيث اورد قبل يومين تقريراً مطولاً عما سماه اضطرابات في دمشق وجاء فيه ان عائلة الاسد الحاكمة في سورية تختبر صراعاً داخلياً, منذ اغتيل عماد مغنية في دمشق في 12 فبراير الماضي حيث يشتبه بان بشار الاسد يحضر ملفاً ضد صهره آصف شوكت.

http://www.alseyassah.com/news_details.asp?snapt=الأولى&nid=8239

March 15th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

offended said:

Synopsis of Al Seyassa’s article:
Mughneya was conspiring with Maher to oust Bashar, when Asef found out about it he told Bashar he wants to take Mughneya’s out but Bashar refused. So Asef went ahead with the assassination without the consent of Bashar, which made the latter quite agitated and hence Asef and Bushra are now planning to flee to Paris.

Man, Syrian drama series’ writers can learn a thing or two from Al Seyassa.

March 15th, 2008, 8:08 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Thanks for the English synopsis. Belongs right up there with “Dynasty”, “Dallas”, and “The Young and the Restless”…

March 15th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
Yes, I did see your last few comments to me, but the Syrian position is that “we will not negotiate under fire”… Thus, I will engage you again only if you promise to remain civilized and not lash out with a personal attack the next time I say something you don’t like…!! 😉

March 15th, 2008, 8:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji my friend,

You said nothing that I did not like… I’m sorry you misunderstood me. I apologize if anything I said sounded like a personal attack – there was NONE intended whatsoever… I was merely raising a subtlety I thought existed in Syria’s clarification, and wondering what you thought of it, that’s all.

March 15th, 2008, 8:18 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

I’m happy to hear that I made some sense! … it is Saturday morning here in Montreal. Yesterday I went to an Arabic restaurant with a live band playing for hours. I sat next to the drummer and the loudest of the their loud speakers.

I am still hearing random white-noise in my middle Ear.

Shai,

remember that yo are reading Haaretz translating Al-Akhbar, who were reporting what you read based on what they heard from their informed sources.

The original message is probably similar to what you and I were discussing… The Syrian leaderships (or “the Syrian regime” to those who find my use of “Syrian leadership” to be very offensive) can not sit and talk to Israel while Israel simultaneously conducts any excessive punishment to any Arabs in Lebanon or in Palestine.

Remember the few samples I sent you of Saudi owned media and the way they reported the news that Imad Moustapha met with Alon liel?

If you read Arabic you would understand the way readers (comments section) reacted to that piece of news after Al-Arabyia followed it with “and in the mean time, Israel was murdering Palestinian children and women”

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/02/29/46312.html

Al-Arabiya is known for voiding to inflame Arab readers’ emotions like Al-Jazeera does .. Al-Arabiya usually does not try to over expose news from Iraq or Gaza …. but in the case of reporting the nws of Laon’s meeting with Imad Moustapha, they somehow felt they need to include the sad news from Gaza in the same story!

Another point orf view:

I’m sorry for adding “all” to my reading of your opinions … and I’m happy you do not believe Syria killed all of them.

Who killed the others then? and how did you come up with a conclusion regarding who killed who, given that the UN experts over the past three years could not have a clue yet.

March 15th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

offended said:

Shai, the funny thing about Al Seyassa is their continuous reference to their informed resources.

Btw, there was a reference in the article to a 2002 attempt by Al Qaeda to bring down a civilian Al A’al airplane over Kenya, using a shoulder-mounted missile, do you recall this story? Is it correct or another bluffing of Al Seyassa?

March 15th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

Zenobia said:

the “Other point of View” makes me nauseous.. with his righteous and arrogant and “white man’s burden” tone….

Norman, the man lumped you ARABs all in one ‘nation’ like a racist lumps all those colored people together who are one big pathetic group of failures. take another look…

he speaks of Hypocricy!… have you seen the photos of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand… get realll you idiot…

America will ‘PREVAIL” !!!! is triumphant!… HEIL AMERICA….

that is what the SPANISH EMPIRE thought about itself. that is what the BRITISH empire thought about itself… why dont’ you look back… my friend… what happens to all empire eventually…

except our economy is tanking… and our ventures to control the Middle East…will cost us three trillion dollars… in expense over decades…

and…..YOU DON’T SPEAK FOR AMERICANS BY THE WAY….

As you utter your biased blather…. arrogant blather… there are hundreds of AMERICAN SOLDIERS giving TESTIMONY outside Washington DC all through this weekend… hours and hours of testimony… about the atrocities and unacceptable meaningless waste and destruction going on in the military in Iraq.
THOSE SOLDIERS are speaking for america…

http://ivaw.org/wintersoldier

http://warcomeshome.org/wintersoldier2008

March 15th, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I understand. And, of course I agree that Israel and Syria should not negotiate under fire. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see Syria linking parallel talks also with Lebanon, and not only the Palestinians. That’s a very good signal towards the U.S., if they bother to hear it, that is…

March 15th, 2008, 8:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

There was some attempt a few years ago, but I don’t recall if it was in Kenya, or elsewhere in Africa. The RPG missed the wing, but somehow the airplane computer system detected the launch. Apparently, all El-Al planes are now equipped with some high-tech anti-missile system that’s supposed to provide a very good defense against such attempts…

March 15th, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

offended said:

Norman,
I forgot to tell you, while the others endlessly theorize and philosophize about the definition of nations and all. All it took of me or you was couple of lines to explain why we relate to Arabism.
That’s it, simple and straight forward, things which come by default don’t need explanation:
سجل
أنا عربي
أنا اسم بلا لقبِ
صبورٌ في بلادٍ كلُّ ما فيها
يعيشُ بفورةِ الغضبِ
جذوري…
قبلَ ميلادِ الزمانِ رستْ
وقبلَ تفتّحِ الحقبِ
وقبلَ السّروِ والزيتونِ
.. وقبلَ ترعرعِ العشبِ
أبي.. من أسرةِ المحراثِ
لا من سادةٍ نجبِ
وجدّي كانَ فلاحاً
بلا حسبٍ.. ولا نسبِ!
يعلّمني شموخَ الشمسِ قبلَ قراءةِ الكتبِ
وبيتي كوخُ ناطورٍ
منَ الأعوادِ والقصبِ
فهل ترضيكَ منزلتي؟
أنا اسم بلا لقبِ

Which makes me believe that we are the real thing and all the rest are phony…

I am kidding of course…

March 15th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

Alex said:

Zenobia

No “you idiot” please : )

But since we are discussing what Americans think …. I received an email on Creativesyria from a young American man who asked me to help him decide who to vote for .. he said that he realized the gravity of hte mistake his country made by reelecting this administration to another term in 2004 … he said that Iraq and the Middle East are too complicated for him to say he can understand who is good and who is bad … but he knows that he can not trust his politicians anymore and he wants to know which American candidate I trust to help do the right thing in Iraq.

Isn’t that something?

March 15th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

Friend in America said:

An update on the U.S. Presidential election. We are in the party selection process. The real Presidential campaign starts after each party has made its nomination. From early September to the election in early November is the real thing. Events do occur during party selection process that come back as a problem for a candidate in the fall. This has been a difficult week for Obama. One was a tactical decision that could have long term consequences and the other a problem he should have resolved before deciding to be a candidate and now he is on the defensive in this “debate.” There is a chance the polls will show a decline in public support over the next 60 days.

March 15th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

It was AIG just checking to see if you’re awake… 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Did Syria confirm or deny a reported meeting took place recently between Imad Moustapha and Alon liel? Please provide a web link to an official source if available.

March 15th, 2008, 8:44 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

There was no meeting between the two. They merely attended the same seminar in Washington. Alon Liel’s organization (Israel-Syria Peace Society) issued a statement to that effect soon afterwards, knowing various media was going to milk this “scoop” for all it’s worth.

March 15th, 2008, 8:47 pm

 

Zenobia said:

sorry. it just slipped out. it could have been worse. i almost used the f-word.

as for the guy contacting you to ask who to vote for… why is he asking a Canadian??? mm. well i guess he is asking a syrian. but couldn’t he find a syrian closer than in canada….

FIA: i think the ‘real thing’ is going on already. there has never been such turn out for a primary election EVER. And this IS actually important. AS some of us think that Hilary as the candidate is practically handing the thing over to John McCain.. so the THING is NOW ,as far as i am concerned.

March 15th, 2008, 8:59 pm

 

Naji said:

No Shai, I was refering to our exchange a few days ago…, but I think you get the point. 😉

Anyway, back to your question of tonight… It really is amazing how, with enough ill-will flying about, the most clear of statements, and most obvious of positions, can be turned completely on their heads…!! I guess both sides should always take this potential into account when making any statments…!

You see, the Syrian position on this is really the most obvious and pragmatic… a perfect illustration of how remaining consitent to a principled position can be the most pramagtic and practical strategy, even in the hands of the most inept…! (A good hint for your Olmert;) As you have always heard, there is “strength in unity” and all that… So, why on earth would Syria dump the Palestinians and the Lebanese…?! It is called “collective bargaining” in the field of economics…! As Bashar once said, “WE THREE still have occupied lands and unredressed grievances” and we are determined to “reclaim our rights through negotiations or through war”…

Now, you and I can negotiate, we have HA and the IDF for the fighting… and just as you would never dump your IDF now, or even later, it would be completely silly and “orientalist” to expect us to dump HA, the Lebanese, or the Palestenians now or later…!!

The smartest thing would be for each side to just take the other at their words, assume only the shrewdest strategy from the other side, and try to, as Alex perfectly put it, have a real Syrian/Israeli peace, and not only a peace treaty signed by President Asad…!

March 15th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Friend In America

We can get better information on the US Elocral process by visiting CNN/Interactive/Elections….etc,,,,

For Fund Contributions, we can get Official and Authenticated figures from http: //www.opensecrets.org, for jucier stuff we can sift through the pages of hundreds of other sites.

But thanks for your progress report on the US Democratic Proccess anyway.

March 15th, 2008, 9:07 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

I’m sorry I misunderstood your comment earlier. Yes, I now understand what you meant, regarding earlier “exchanges”.

But you see, this is further proof to how each side thinks they’re being crystal-clear about their position, yet the other side seems to almost always misinterpret them (and usually for ill-intention). Allow me to clarify. I am not suggesting that Syria would dump either the Lebanese or the Palestinians. I wouldn’t, if I was Syria, and I wouldn’t, if I was advising Olmert, or Barak, or Netanyahu, as to Israel’s best interests.

What I referred to, was not the obvious in Syria’s message to Israel, but in what I thought was a subtle “clarification”, which puzzled me as I didn’t understand why it was necessary. It’s not the Lebanese I thought the Syrian leadership was “dumping”, but rather HA, in the sense of saying to Israel “listen, if we restart talks, and somehow you and HA get into another round, we won’t necessarily break off all contact”. Now, of course, if Israel fights with HA again, the Lebanese people WILL be suffering as well. But I’m merely asking if it is possible that Syria is “adjusting” its stance towards Israel’s fears of its own alliances with HA/Iran? Adjusting only in the sense of suggesting it won’t jump in to fight to defend them, as was the case in summer 2006.

Naji, please believe me when I say that I am 100% for peace between Syria and Israel (not just Bashar and Olmert, or Barak, or Bibi). I believe that peace with the Arab world will ONLY occur once Israel resolves her differences with Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinians. No reconciliation can begin to take place even one minute beforehand. I don’t think I could be more clear than that.

March 15th, 2008, 9:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Forget threats to to El AL, that is old stuff. Israel better start worrying now about a new developments on the Gaza front: Longer range missiles, better organized forces, and now tripple A fire aimed at IDF planes, and a Hizbollah flag-wrapped coffins in the West Bank.

Olmert must be saying to Barak: Now Mr. Militaryman, look at what you have brought us “inexperienced” civillians.

And they thought it could not get any worse!!!!

Creating FACTS on the ground works both ways. Does it not?

Are we getting closer to MAD in a way or another? That can knock some sense into many heads.

March 15th, 2008, 9:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Zenobia,

He was not asking “a Canadian” .. he sent an email to “Dear creative Syria” .. after he read what brilliant people (like you) wrote in the Creative Forum … he said “it seems you are much better informed about your part of the world than we can ever be”

Shai,

Whoever that person was, I answered very diplomatically and without interfering in internal American politics : )

March 15th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

That’s the sad reality of war. Each side tries to establish “facts on the ground”, trying to destroy the other. It usually takes bold and courageous leaders, who are willing to step away from this for just long enough, to suddenly rediscover sanity and hope. Unfortunately, I can’t say Israel has such leadership right now. But it might soon.

March 15th, 2008, 9:28 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Smart move Alex, otherwise Syria would be accused of harming the democratic process in the US and manipulating the elections.

March 15th, 2008, 9:28 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Whoa! I must have hit a few raw nerves. I admire your passsion, and, believe it or not, do respect your own personal contributions as I take it you all are decent hard working folk not really part of the political fabric.

Q1- Offended has “a question for [TOPOV]; [Offended] need[s] an answer with a yes or a no please.
“This kind of brainwashing propaganda [TOPOV] referred to (divine victory, mother of all battles…etc..) is it only peculiar to Arab leaders? Or do you think American leaders and Israeli leaders and British leaders use it as well?

A1- In recent history, I don’t have other examples of groups calling defeat “victory” while wallowing poetically in misery. The answer is No. However, there are clearly other faults and errors peculiar to and committed by “American leaders and Israeli leaders and British leaders”: failure to do appropriate homework on the culture, failure to communicate effectively with the people of the region instead of focussing only on the regimes, failure to share the real stories of real Americans, their good intentions, and the hard paths they followed to the success they eventually achieved. The fact that the joke goes:
– if you speak 3 languages, you’re trilingual, 2 languages you’re bilingual, and one language only y ou’re American
that fact is a representation of a failure of our American system and leaders. We have other failures. But we don’t declare victory when there is defeat, if we’re attacked we respond effectively and decisevly in deeds and not only in words. Different people, different groups, different cultures, different faults. We acknowledge ours (or at least a good number of us do), you seem to want to deny yours and rebel against anyone (like me TOPOV) who dares confront you with it.

Q2- Well, not really a question, but an angry rebuttal of TOPOV by Zenobia

A2- Zenobia, even if we accept all that you are saying, you are still not addressing the fundamental faults I cited in the official Arab approach to expending resources, self-improvement and education of the people, fighting corruption, and dealing realistically with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is not about “Heil America.” America has its own problems of discrimination but they are out in the open and we are dealing continually with them and making real progress. Those of you who have come to America know the opportunities that you came after and know that those opportunities were enabled by the struggles of the founders and their successors. America is the land of opportunity where hard work is rewarded. Can you say the same of the Arab countries? Mistakes, we have made. Plenty. We know. We hear and see every day their consequences. But we act and always look to fix our errors and improve. Rationally. What do the Arabs do? And why?

Q3- The most thoughtful response comes from “Naji.” Love the name which I believe relates to salvation. May be it’s a good omen. Naji says:
“Instead of engaging in the kind of hostile propaganda you accuse the others of, if you were serious or sincere, you would take the Syrian position at face value, call the Syrian “bluff”, and try to work with the three “conditions”…!”

A3- Well, OK, I’ll address these with the understanding that like you, Naji, I am not a negotiator nor an official politician, just an individual who, in my country, can cast my vote and can write letters and seek meetings with my representatives asking for help or promoting a given point of view. Your question relate to the Israeli-Arab conflict and to a proposed peace negotiation between Syria and Israel. The three conditions are:

C1- Talks will not be held “under fire.” The Syrians explained that by “under fire” they do not mean an armed conflict between Israel and Syria, but rather the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
C2- Talks be held publicly, and accompanied by Israeli gestures to assure the Syrians that they are ready to withdraw from all “occupied Arab territories,” Al-Akhbar reported.
C3- That Israel hold simultaneous diplomatic talks with Lebanon and the Palestinians alongside peace talks with Syria.

My answers (and remember I am not an “official” spokesperson”)

1- Yes of course as long as Hamas halts all rockets and all acts of violence against Israel.
2- The condition, as posed, is of course acceptable and has been accepted. There are ambiguities in it however: what are these “gestures” sought? And note that all “occupied Arab territories” is subject to interpretation and compromise to end up with sensible territories that can have adequate resources and can be adequately managed by the related authority. Compromises will involve minor and equitable land swap. It is important not to reproduce the amiguity in UN resolution 442.
3- This sounds OK too. In here as well there is an ambiguity in the meaning of simulatenous. It normally just means “held at the same time.” If that is all that is asked, then there is absolutely no quibble with it. If what is intended is some kind of coupling of the 3-track negotiation in such a way as to allow Syria to continue its influence on Lebanon and control the conditions Lebanon is willing to accept, then Israel will be willing to negotiate but I doubt that the Lebanese will accept continuing to be a card played by the Syrians.
Overall there is a good basis here. The REAL question is whether Syria is sincere or just maneuvering to buy time in the hopes that the next American administration is more favorable (which it will NOT be).

I will end it on a conciliatory note. Only when you know clearly where your interlocutor stands can you have a meaningful discussion to resolve conflicts and emerge into cooperation. I state my view clearly. I am accusatory of Arab countries and regimes in obfuscating the truth and oppressing their people. I admit to many errors, mistakes, and perhaps even crimes committed by my country over the years. Today, we stand firm. We have one uncompromising stance on fighting terror. No targeting of civilians is acceptable no matter what the reason. We do fault our ally Israel for coming dangerously close to the standard of terrorism (= targeting of civilians). No one is a winner here. The path to peace has to begin with complete rejection of terror. It does not have to be sequential, it can be simultaneous. Which of the Arab countries and Arab groups (e.g., Hamas) is willing to sign up to that ? Now your turn to answer that question.

March 15th, 2008, 9:28 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Do you seriously expect many people to read what you wrote above and comment on it?!

March 15th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

“We have prevailed…” sounds an awful lot like “victory” to me… 🙂

See: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/20030501-15.html

March 15th, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Ausamaa said:
Do you seriously expect many people to read what you wrote above and comment on it?!

Ausamaa: I am answering questions posed to me and comments made towards me. You certainly don’t have to read what I wrote nor comment on it. I stand for freedom. Freedom for everyone, even you, Ausamaa.

March 15th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

Alex said:

“TheOtherPointOfVieW”

I’m glad at least you notice that most people here are not “terrorists”

Alright. I am finishing my shift for today. If anyone decided to call others “idiots” I won’t be here to moderate anything.

Have fun.

I leave you with a message from Syria’s anti-corruption crusader (in Arabic only):

http://love-syria.com/10032008.htm

And another one from Frank Sinatra:

http://americancomedynetwork.com/animation.html?bit_id=25239

March 15th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

ausamaa said:

HI SHAI,

By Facts On The Ground, I was sarcastically hinting at the SETTLEMENTS that contuinue to spring up every where in the West Bank.

And dont lose hope, men listen to raw power more than they listen to justice and reason. Maybe a MAD like situation will get us what the Interest, Care and Attention of the International Community couldnt during the last sixty years. Of course, the US has to allow us all to live in peace first and not to see us all as mere tools to be utelized to serve its national interests as they call them.

Good night for now,,

March 15th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai: Well, I wasn’t necessarily referring to Iraq, or at least not only Iraq, but certainly, in that conflict, despite many mistakes, Saddam is gone. Would the Shi’a of Iraq have preferred he still be there? Would Iran? Would Israel? Would you? Never mind the other mistakes made in the execution. These are known and are admitted. Life is not made of black and white, it is made of shades of grey. The part of the shade that got rid of Saddam was a good one. Do you disagree?

March 15th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

ausamaa said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW,

Man, I am as free as I want to be, so do not fight on my behalf and please do not put me on your to do list for God’s sake.

March 15th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

I was just throwing an “under the belt” one, just for kicks, attesting to my sheer and utter respect for that man y’all call “Dubya”. For crying out loud, even Reagan was better!!! Did you see how GWB walked off that plane, wearing a G-suit like he was some fighter-pilot? And statements like “we have prevailed”, “we’re going to smoke ’em out”, just didn’t seem to add much respect to the Office of the President of the United States of America. Do you disagree?

March 15th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

Van Krefeld is for M.A.D. by having every nation in our region go nuclear (and he doesn’t mean nuclear power, he means weapons). When I think of that scenario, I need about 30 minutes of Yoga before going to bed at night, or some good Scotch Whiskey. That’s pretty dang scary. I’d much rather have the “MAD” of today, with all sides basically showing the other that they cannot win, or even score a single decisive victory. That’s more than enough for me. I understand though what you mean.

Good night, and let’s find the way to adopt HAPPY, instead of MAD… 🙂

March 15th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

offended said:

TOPOV

I am glad you’ve acknowledged the American lack of knowledge about social and cultural subtleties in this part of the world. I take this as a promise of you to read more and talk less while you are a welcome guest here in SC.

Best regards….

March 15th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai, History will judge GWB after a long time. I wish I could be around when that will happen, but it might take many decades. Yea the “mission accomplished” ceremony was a blunder but it was show-business, a poor one at that, and part of the weakness Americans have for sensationalism (not to be confused with turning defeat into declared victory). If you go to the fundamentals, however, history has yet to have enough “data” to pass a final judgment of Dubya. I’m in the camp of those who believe it will be favorable, very favorable, due to the strategic decisions (not the errors in their executions). Folks sometimes sway with the wind along the direction it blows, flows, and ebbs. I strive to hold to principles and fundamentals.
Shai, I admire what you able to do in this engagement here in this blog. I just disagree (in a friendly way) that this will work.
I’d rather state clearly, unashamedly, and unambiguously what I see and believe and challenge the other side to do the same. If there is hope for anyone to do so, it is the kind of folk on this blog, me thinks.

March 15th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Dear TOPOV,
i have to go to lunch, so i can’t reply adequately at this moment. But I would LOVE to have a go at you.
YOu are infuriating me.

just as a teaser, i will say that I have no intention of defending systems (if you can even call them that) in the ME. I have no intention of defending the oppressive leaders or the rationalizations of ME peoples regarding the causes of their miseries.

I am not even disagreeing with your critiques of the situation in many places.
what I am protesting against is the incredible hypocricy that you are articulating in your attitude that America or the West can come and preach to the ME.
first off… we are not that pure.
I happen to think that GWB and his cronies in the Pentagon and administration have been “obsfucating” the truth and manipulating the public and dramatic abusing power.

BUT would you accept people from another nation coming in to America and deciding that they are going to take care of that problem for us. they are going to fix our problems with corruption or campaign finance abuses. Would you accept another nation coming in militarily and arresting anyone they felt like and dragging them off to an island prison. and implementing their idea of necessary regime change in america.. because they just decided to. ????
if you turned this around you would think it preposterous!

so,, yes the middle east is fucked up. But SO WHAT SOOOOOOO WHAT!!!!! IT Is as YOU said.. the responsibility of its people to fix. It is not the business of empires to fix or rule the world. If America wants to find Osama bin Laden and destroy him… bring him to justice for that one incident, go ahead. But you cannot punish an entire part of the world for the actions of a few people. Nor can you punish an entire religion for the fact that a few people have used that religion and manipulated it for purposes that have nothing to do with that religion. Nor can you punish people who have absolutely nothing to do with the incident (the Iraqis) and lump the entire middle east together and attack it.

You are creating terrorism in this way. YOU are creating violence…to do such things.

And…later I will address further…if i can my real objection…to your descriptions…which has validity, but the purpose of your making the accusations of total failure of the middle east is of concern ..what are you justifying???? Intervention?? cause it seems like it.
and you have no right.
and… in defense of the ME….I will say… that it must develop in its own time…. You are talking about thousands of years of civilization.. that has existed and thrived and lives on….. twenty times the length of time that the USA has been alive.
And you want it to be modern, industrialized… have political systems that are very very very very NEW…
the modern democracy is a baby….. in its existence…. a couple hundred years old… in its form…

and for thousands of years before the ME is something else. And for hundreds of years,, under other empire’s rule (Ottoman, British, French) and then in recent time…during that entire time of western development… the ME…has been completely exploited economically and strategically by western empires and dictated to by outsiders…
YOU Talk of all this need for RESPONSIBILITY and self leadership and independence of thought… and innovation…and development… when the West had the ME under its boot…for decades and decades… and NOW after sixty years… of so called independence.. and the same sixty years of Israeli build up and… threat… and offense… you stand there in judgment and expect that the ME is supposed to transform itself into a modern industrialized region…with western style governments and people who live by some standards that WE hold up for them… flawed standards by the way… even if they may be superior in many respects.

The luxuries we have … by the way, have all come from levels of economic exploitation…whether of our own poor and immigrant populations or now of those outside the States. this is how empires function. So…it is the supreme form of hypocrisy for the West to ever act as though it got where it did because of some incredible inherent superiority and should be emulated because of the greatness of its accomplishment of its people and systems. And that all of this gives it Rights to dictate to others.
Yes there is very very much to be admired. But the oppression of the CORPORATION is nothing to be compared to in history.
IT IS GREATER as an OPPRESSOR THAN ANY FORM OF GOV’T EVER INVENTED… BEFORE.

SO HAVE A LITTLE HUMILITY WHY DON’T YOU.

March 15th, 2008, 10:05 pm

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

I understand what you mean, but it’s just like our parents taught us when we were young – Life’s not about being right, it’s about being smart. If I sit here, and blast away at my fellow Arab neighbors, instead of truly opening up my heart and mind to listen, to learn, to empathize, how can I expect them to ever understand me? How can I expect any of us to change, if we cannot first search for, and discover, those things we have in common, rather than those things we don’t? I believe there’s plenty of time to discuss freedoms, and democracies, and Saddams, and Dubyas. But now we must focus, I believe, on bridging our gaps, not on highlighting them. That’s my approach, at least.

March 15th, 2008, 10:08 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I found an amazing news bit a few weeks ago about Iran, which taught me quite a few lessons, and is very similar to what you’re saying, I believe. The story was about a woman who belonged to some sort of underground Homosexual-Lesbian Rights Organization in Iran, who wrote a letter to either the American media, or some government body (I cannot recall). In the letter, she basically said the following: “How dare you (America), from a distance of thousands of kilometers away, endanger me and my people, by preaching your “wisdom” about rights and wrongs in my country?!”

I thought that was the most powerful thing I’ve heard in a long time. Certain things just aren’t ours to deal with. And just because we CAN, doesn’t mean we SHOULD.

March 15th, 2008, 10:17 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Dear Zenobia, I’m shuddering at what you will serve me once you actually do have time to respond and are not rushed to lunch! 😉 Or maybe the pangs of hunger elevated the boiling temperature of your furor against me to a truly scalding level… but I’m only humoring you here.

Quite interesting it is that you seem to agree with many points I made. And I hope you won’t be surprised to learn I agree with much of what you say. The US has no right to impose its own standards on people who choose to have their own different standards and approach. No quibbles here.

On the other hand, the US is the only remaining superpower in the world. With this status comes responsibility. When Kuwait was invaded, was it wrong for the US to liberate it? The invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam will be debated in history books. I believe it is too early to pass judgment on the overall strategy there, although I have no qualms about correct critique of the execution and the errors and crimes that were committed in its path. The key question there, that so many sweep under the rug, is whether the world would be better off today with Saddam still in power.

As far as meddling in the ME affairs – mainly by supporting Israel – here again it is the pursuit of America’s own strategic interests, something that all countries do and must do. Lamenting the inefficient use and frequent misuse of the tremendous resources available to the Arab countries, particularly the oil-rich ones, to the detriment of the population masses, such lamenting is not an imposition of America’s will. It is a statement of an opinion based on fact. We are permitted as much.

Hands-off everything is a fair request, except for one item: rejection of terrorism and its pursuit and suffocation wherever it is found. This principle was adopted by the leadership in the US. Along its implementation into practical steps mistakes were made, crimes were committed, but let’s not forget the ultimate benefit of the principle to humanity.

March 15th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Van Krefeld is for M.A.D. by having every nation in our region go nuclear (and he doesn’t mean nuclear power, he means weapons). When I think of that scenario, I need about 30 minutes of Yoga before going to bed at night, or some good Scotch Whiskey. That’s pretty dang scary.

Of course it is scary Shai, but from pure military and political point evident. If the great blocks US, Russia and China can’t give security guaranties to the countries in Israel’s sphere of influence they will do it (go nuclear). Most of them will most certainly use the Japanese option and get the needed know-how through civil nuclear production and some in secret (like Israel did).

There can’t be a nuclear free Middle East without Israel being nuclear (+ other WMD) free. Israel is in the Middle East. I do not understand what is so difficult in admitting this fact. The probability that Israel will in future be ruled by by (religious) extrimists is at least as great as in the Arab countries. Also the last remaining easily usable oil reserves will dramatically change the world’s distribution of wealth and influence. The big financial institutions are fast getting new owners…

March 15th, 2008, 11:31 pm

 

Zenobia said:

TOPOV,

no, i am not going to serve it up at the moment. i didnt’ even eat, so i am feeling lightheaded now.

you say,

As far as meddling in the ME affairs – mainly by supporting Israel – here again it is the pursuit of America’s own strategic interests, something that all countries do and must do.

Bullshit.
I don’t see Norway and Bolivia and even bigger powers running to the other side of the globe to protect their “strategic” interests.

what strategic interests are you talking about???? what entity 9000 miles away is a justified strategic interest for the USA??? what makes something a strategic interest?
the way it is defined.. this means…anything that you want to control…for economic purposes for exploitation purposes. thats it. there is nothing that these countries are doing to threaten america… as State entities.
the only other supposed justification is ISRAEL’S strategic interests.
and how HOW HOW can you defend using the resources of america… trashing..it economically… morally, killing our citizens (that is our soldiers) for the sake of Israel’s strategic interests.
that is so wrong. and if the american people really understood it that way- they wouldn’t agree to it.
all this fabricated crap about the great threats to us… wayyyyyy over there…is a big brainwash.

you say:
Hands-off everything is a fair request, except for one item: rejection of terrorism and its pursuit and suffocation wherever it is found…..but let’s not forget the ultimate benefit of the principle to humanity.

pleeeeeaaaase! where do you get the idea that there is some measuring stick for this thing called “terrorism”…. as if it is a thing you can see measure and define accurately and not an abstract concept???
you say, .. a bomb went off…and it wasn’t launched by an official army recognized by us… so it must be terrorism…. ha ha ha….

tell me TOPOV, who gets to decide… WHO.. WHO gets to decide what is legitimate violence and what isn’t “legitimate”… justified… what is ok as killing in your book…

cause you know very well…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. you know it very well…

and whether someone has a uniform on…or is owned and paid for by a government when they launch a rocket…just doesn’t cut it.. as a definition…

targeting civilians???
George Bush Sr. ordered the dropping of bombs on Panama… that killed several thousand civilians…
is he a terrorist? are the people who flew the planes and dropped the bombs terrorist?
are the Israelis that fire rubber bullets that hit children and sometimes kill them… terrorists?

your definitions suck and are meaningless…

therefore… they help us in no way…as a nation to uphold a “PRINCIPLE” …

alas …there is NO principle here.. there are only words…words to create justifications and propagandize….words to buy the public’s acquiescence.

stop being a hypocrite. the only principle.. we should uphold is that of THOU SHALT NOT KILL…. PERIOD.

How about that for principle.

March 16th, 2008, 1:13 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia,

It’s easy. Terrorism = the specific targeting of innocent civilians for the purpose of creating terror in the hope that such terror leads to pressure on the responsible government to change its policy. Like Munich. Like 9/11. Like “suicide” bombings of cafes and buses. It has never worked. It will never work. Period.

The other horrors you talk about are deplorable but occur as part of human conflict. The targets of attacks are military. Civilian deaths that occur are regrettable collateral damage. And please don’t pull off the Hiroshima-Nagasaki examples and such. One has to study history carefully to determine what the alternative would have been.

THOU SHALL NOT KILL is a utopia as long as there are terrorists that have to be dealt with. Stop terrorism and claim rights only by democratic means and by persuasion and winning competitions through better education and harder work, and we can then discuss instituting THOU SHALL NOT KILL worldwide.

The strategic interests of the US in the ME are threefold:
(1) oil
(2) oil
(3) oil

In addition there are two secondary interests:
(1) the moral obligation of working towards the spread of democracy and improvement in the quality of life of all people, including those in the ME
(2) the protection of the only (quasi-)democracy in the ME that is Israel and which is an ally of the US in sharing values of society’s advancement through education, technology, and the rule of law; not to mention the eminently successful American Jewish supporters of Israel who, with their success through extreme hard work, unity, and a dedicate sense of purpose, exert influence while playing by the rules in the US.

Emotional outpouring and disdain will get you nowhere. Eloquent and logical rhetoric, backed by demonstrated hard work, will gain you steady progress and, if sustained, superior power to Israel, and completely winning-over the US to causes that you want to champion.

I came here seeking engagement and persuasion. I got the engagement. I see glimpses of desire for persuasion. I’m not convinced (yet). I have obviously not convinced you either. At the very least I hope I have been direct and frank about my thinking shared by a majority in the US. This is the majority that saved Europe’s butt from the Nazis, that liberated Kuwait after it was swallowed by a ruthless Saddam, that rid the world of Saddam. You hear the Europeans whine sometimes, but they never forget what we did for them in WWII.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=WMtekoTSSNY&feature=related
or a more recent (Alex-style) version without the war footage:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=XC6t_wnqo5g&feature=related
Some day, not soon, but some day, people in the ME will feel the same way.

March 16th, 2008, 2:27 am

 

Zenobia said:

Where do you get off claiming that YOUR views are those of the American people.
it is soooo incredible. as if there were this one set of people who think a like and are all equally informed.. that is a complete and utter fallacy.
and you have no data at all to support that most people think like you at all..
most people dont’ consider themselves well informed enough to have the views you do.
and most people that i know dont’ think like you do at all. but i dont’ go around pretending that they represent the american mind. there is no uniform mind.

March 16th, 2008, 2:51 am

 

Zenobia said:

No, you dont’ convince me
and i won’t be convinced by you. Because this isn’t a debate about logic.
this is debate about Values.
and i don’t share your values. Period.
I don’t think these acts that you list under the title of terror are any more morally reprehensible than most other so called legitimate acts of war or violence. so, we don’t agree.
the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal.. when you don’t have access to an army or a formal mode of war..you will use guerrilla war or whatever you have.
but there desires and motivations are no less important or rational than all the ‘states’ and entities with formal means of committing aggression.

March 16th, 2008, 2:54 am

 

Zenobia said:

If the two secondary interests are actually legitimate, then the people in our leadership are very stupid and self defeating/ counterproductive because they are accomplishing the opposite of these stated goals.
i don’t actually believe that these are the goals at all…frankly. they are secondary subterfuge.

March 16th, 2008, 2:57 am

 

Zenobia said:

OIl , oil, and oil ? how moral is that.. and who is benefiting ? the american people????
with the amount of money we spent on war to secure that oil….we could have invested in becoming an entirely green society by now,

so…let me guess…the oil companies are benefiting.
\
CAPITAL.
as usual… and as i implied earlier.

March 16th, 2008, 2:59 am

 

Zenobia said:

The other horrors you talk about are deplorable but occur as part of human conflict. The targets of attacks are military. Civilian deaths that occur are regrettable collateral damage.

this is the biggest joke yet.
this is your rationalization of how other state conducted violence is ok? words words and more words…. ‘collateral damage’… this is most noxious euphemism around these days…

it assumes that everything is judged by intent…and as long as you say… well it wasn’t our intension to kill a million Iraqi…in this endeavor…than it isn’t as bad as those terrorists who deliberately go after anybody they can reach.

this is a moral equation problem between us; i repeat again. you have a value system with a moral equation i don’t accept.

hey you know what …. there are lots of people who don’t kill. and who never will … utopia ? let me site those Norwegians again. Upstanding people. i call that an evolved society.
and when one of their citizens commits murder, they send him to a farm prison…that looks sort of like summer camp in the united states.

anyhow… the point is, you have to start somewhere….

you keep asking about whether it was better to have Saddam… this is the “key question” yada yada… and now.. Nagasaki? btw, the japanese were already surrendering friend when they decided to drop the bomb. so…
but here is my point…. Saddam or anybody like him…is NOT actually the big point …far far from it.
I am on the level…of what kind of world do we want.. from now…
and if you can’t impose… on other countries by force..your values.. then how do we live by example.
just as you say terror doesn’t work (obviously i totally agree with you on this)…but in the same way.. WAR as a means of changing others…also does not work. Period ..and extra period.
It wasn’t war that changed Germany ultimately…it was all the economic welfare and the absence of militarization and the Marshall Plan that turned Germany into something else than what it was.

I do believe in the necessity of peace keeping and maybe necessary violence.. in an extreme situation.. genocide..for example. It may be that if the peace keepers can be deployed in Darfur…they have to be able to fire if they are being attacked.
but…
most things shouldn’t exist in the first place.

you can’t go around in this world making fires…lighting them (like the US does) and then explaining how violence is necessary to put them out.
We are the largest maker of weapons in the world..and we sell them all over the world…and then wonder.. why there is so much warfare..and that geee we better go doing something about that.
How about not selling weaponry… worldwide. there is a thought.

as usual…the answer is capital. the corporations are making big money on all this warfare…

if the world was better without Saddam (who is of course an pernicious SOB) or without Noriega… or the Taliban…etc etc.. then why… do we not create them… fuel them.. supply them with weapons , chemical warfare, and terror training and build them into tyrants…and THEN… complain that these are really evil guys that we need to take out.. and a lot of ‘collateral damage” as you call it…will be worth that…
and as usual…America decides…. what is worth it. If one million americans had to die for it….well..the dictator can stay. but if it is one million Iraqis or 3,500 Panamanians people who were sleeping in their beds in a slum.. welll thats worth it right? ….better not ask them though…if they think so… why should we ask them… whats ok for their country.

March 16th, 2008, 3:13 am

 

Zenobia said:

and btw, the Europeans never forget good old america? i guess you haven’t been reading the European news or talking to europeans. they think america is pariah at this point…

but dream on…your dream if you like….

March 16th, 2008, 3:16 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia,

You ask “Where do you get off claiming that YOUR views are those of the American people”?

The US is a democracy. The actions of the US government reflect the desire of the electorate enabling the leaders to make decisions for such actions. Quite simple, really.

You say “most people that i know dont’ think like you do at all.”

Please tell them to make sure to vote and participate in the democratic process!

You say “the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal..”

I disagree. These people are brainwashed by religious fanatics. That’s the crux of the problem.

You say “If the two secondary interests are actually legitimate, then the people in our leadership are very stupid and self defeating/ counterproductive because they are accomplishing the opposite of these stated goals.
i don’t actually believe that these are the goals at all…frankly. they are secondary subterfuge.”

The secondary interests are not only legitimate, they are substantiated by opinion polls, declarations by a majority of US politicians, and borne out by facts.

You say “OIl , oil, and oil ? how moral is that.. and who is benefiting ? the american people???? (…) the oil companies are benefiting. \CAPITAL. as usual… and as i implied earlier.”

It’s not necessarily a good thing nor is it necessarily “moral.” It’s a fact. The American lifestyle is fundamentally dependent on the generation of energy, hence oil. A recent blackout of only a few hours in Florida caused national jitters which reverberated through the halls of Congress. Yes, we should wean ourselves from such addiction, and in time, it will happen, but the timeline here is several decades. Until then, it is a vital interest for all citizen. If you’re not convinced, try living 24 hours without power at home and without the use of any motorized machine (including car, etc.)

March 16th, 2008, 3:22 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia,

OK, fine. You are elected President of the United States. What would YOU do ?

March 16th, 2008, 3:28 am

 

Zenobia said:

“opinion polls” …thats cute… real…EVIDENCE.. HA HA…you are joking right? …and i wonder who conducted and paid for your polls…

and citing politicians about what they think? another really reliable..source….

democracy…. government represents the will of the people..the thoughts and opinions of the people….
sorry friend.
i disagree. again on this count.

The government policy these days more than ever before, particularly on foreign affairs, is representing the those who can pay for the most influence…and once again..that would be be corporate interests.
Policy is also now made in large part by the famous “think tank”…an entity that is not elected at all…..and is bought and paid for…and are highly ideological.

No politician has much power to go against this money talking… an you know that… everybody in america knows that.

and by the way… when you get your Colin Powells up to lie in front of the UN and bullshit the congress in front of the whole country….. most americans… were pretty naive…and they believe… what they are being fed… (at least until.. reality started setting in.. about this mission accomplished)…

the world is damn complicated… and I don’t actually think that government policies always reflect what the public wills… the public takes its cues from the media…and well…the media is controlled by giant corporate powers now.. who decide what to show that public and what to tell them… and it has little to do with accurate depictions of reality on the other side of the world or what the controversies are. It is all black and white.

so, maybe the public thinks that bring democracy is some legitimate goal…or Israel is a necessary ally who should be unquestioned… and given as many weapons as they want…but… SO WHAT. i am saying that I don’t think for one second that Dick Cheney is worried about democracy being spread.
that is what i am saying… it is subterfuge.

and plenty of people do see through that. they may not be your friends though.

and, as i said, even if they were legitimate.. then you would have to think that our leaders are plain stupid or blind…since the tactics don’t work. they increase the stated problems.

March 16th, 2008, 3:45 am

 

Zenobia said:

ha ha. I don’t want to be president.
did i sound like i do? lol

one president is not going to fix everything…sadly.. the mess is too big.

but i know one thing… we are just making it worse. and there is nothing.. that WE can do…as outsiders that can fix it. except apologize maybe,,,would be a start.

I know…that i would get the F OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST. i know that much.

you are buying into something about religious fanaticism, some fear fantasy. yes, there is fanaticism. but this was a relatively marginal phenomenon that we are now making worse.

The ‘fanatics’ use religion to mobilize peoples’ frustration and anger. they use it for their own personal power and gain. and they use it as a means of making an anti-western feeling ideological and more powerful…
but this has nothing to do…with wanting (as some fantastical right wing nuts in america like to scream) to overrun america with Islam.. !.. that is the funnies thing i hear sometimes. they could care less about us if only we would get the hell out of their homelands..

there is only a small percentage of the population that would constitute what you are referring to… but.. a huge percentage of the entire public of the middle east… now excuses if not supports radical groups…i mean..not supports…but understands and rationalizes the actions taken…because they are so politically angry at America and insulted by the policies and attitudes of America.

so… this is not about religion. there are lots of people i knew or met..in the ME…who are not particularly religious at all by fanatic standards…but they accept Hamas, Hezbollah… not usually Al-Qaeda (that is way out of the mainstream)… because they respect these entities for standing up to America.

Religion becomes a tool…a means of gathering and inciting people…but it is not the reason for the actions or terror tactics. Notice that this fanaticism is being bred and thriving most of all in places of poverty and disenfranchisement.

The reason beneath is the same the world over….RESOURCES RESOURCES RESOURCES.

And GOD is who people turn to when they feel that nobody else cares for their suffering or will bring justice, or is going to help them.

March 16th, 2008, 3:55 am

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

This will help your veiw ,

Big Bang or Chaos: What’s Israel Up To?
[Opinion] Since Feb. 27, more than 120 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers have died

Email Article Print Article Ramzy Baroud (ramzy5)

Why did Israel attack Gaza with such brutality? Did Israeli officials think, even for a fleeting moment, that their army’s attacks could halt, as opposed to intensify, Palestinian rockets or retaliatory violence? Indeed, was Palestinian violence at all relevant to the Israeli action? Was the Israeli bloodletting in Gaza solely relevant to the Gaza/Hamas context, or is there a regional dimension that is largely being overlooked?

In an al-Jazeera English TV discussion, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy and al-Quds al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abd al-Bari Atwan attempted to decipher Israel’s actions in Gaza which have, since Feb. 27, killed more than 120 Palestinians and four Israeli soldiers. These attacks were followed by incursions and further violence, including an attack on a Jewish seminary school in Jerusalem.

Levy explained that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to demonstrate to the Israeli public that he was “doing something” about the regular launching of rockets from Gaza. Although Levy wasn’t justifying the Israeli government’s inhumane and misguided logic, he disagreed with Atwan over the use of terminology. The latter (who is also an outstanding journalist) had asserted that the killings in Gaza represented a form of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”.

Arab intellectuals, often wary of the use of certain terminology – since Western sensibilities don’t accept associating Israel with genocide and ethnic cleansing – became less hesitant after Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai warned Palestinians in a radio interview to expect a “bigger Holocaust”.

But terminology aside, are we to really believe that the wanton killing in Gaza – a major violation of international and humanitarian laws – was meant to send a message to the Israeli public, or to carry out genocide for its own sake?

Initially, albeit unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas seemed oblivious, and then at best neutral, to the carnage. First, it asked both Israel and Hamas to cease their violence, and then it accused Israel of attempting to “derail” the peace process (what peace process?). Finally, and only after the Vatican, thankfully, decried the Israeli killings, Abbas announced the halt of all contacts with Israel.

A few days later, following a trip by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region, Abbas reversed his position. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of the presidency, quoted Abbas as stating that “we intend to resume the peace talks with Israel which reserve the aim of ending the occupation”.

Considering the heavy toll that Palestinians endured by a deliberate Israeli attempt to cause a “bigger holocaust”, Abbas’ agreement to the resumption of futile chats with the same men who ordered the death of scores of his people is a mockery to say the least.

While Palestinian, Israeli and international responses to violence remain predictable, this view still doesn’t explain the timing or the underlying objectives.

In my view, historically, Israel’s behavior, regardless of its outcome, is always politically motivated, and it never fails to keep a regional picture in mind.

There are two lines of military logic that Israel resorts to. One is motivated by the “chaos theory”, the idea that seemingly minor events accumulate to have complex and massive effects on dynamic natural systems. For example, Gaza might have been attacked with the hope of provoking a streak of suicide bombings that would eventually be blamed on Syrian planning and Iranian financing – thus provoking a major showdown in Lebanon. The history of Israeli-Arab conflicts demonstrates how many major invasions are justified by seemingly irrelevant events, such as the 1982 Lebanon War.

But is Israel capable of sustaining another conflict in Lebanon after its miserable – and costly – failure in July-August 2006?

That’s when the US becomes even more relevant. Just as Israeli attacks occupied major headlines around the world, the USS Cole and two additional ships – including one amphibious assault vessel – were quietly making their way from Malta to the shores of Lebanon. The ships were dispatched as a “show of support for regional stability”, according to US Navy officials.

With the gung-ho George W Bush administration’s time in office coming to an end and waning public enthusiasm for war against Iran, Israel cannot afford allowing the regional setup to be stacked in the following way: Hezbollah dominating south Lebanon, Hamas dominating Gaza and Iran becoming an increasingly formidable regional power.

This leads to the other line of Israeli military logic, the “big bang” theory. The self-explanatory logic of this theory is applicable in the sense that a regional war – accompanied by mini civil wars in Palestine and Lebanon, along with other attempts at destabilizing Iran and Syria – could work in Israel’s favor.

Under no condition would the US be able stay out of such a conflict (considering its regional interests, allies and own war in Iraq). Revelations of the sinister role played by the Bush administration in organizing and provoking a civil war among Palestinians shows the extent to which Bush is willing to go to achieve Israel’s objectives. More, it shows the willingness of various Arab and Palestinian players to readily participate in the bloody and costly US-Israeli ventures.

With all due respect to Levy and Atwan, I think Israel’s main aim was neither to send a message to its public nor to commit genocide – though these are not unreasonable possibilities. Indeed, the majority of the Israeli public, according to a Tel Aviv University poll, wished that their government would negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas, as bombs were falling atop the hapless Gaza residents.

The facts – as demonstrated by the US-Israeli role in the turmoil in Lebanon, the consistent attempt to arraign Iran, and the Israeli provocations and bombings in Syria – all indicate that Israel’s plans are regional, with Gaza being a testing ground, and the least costly target to isolate and brutalize. Already a massive concentration camp with a largely starving population, Gaza has provided Israel with a perfect opportunity to start sending stern messages to the other players in the region.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

2008/03/16 ¿ÀÀü 11:11
© 2008 Ohmynews

¢¸ Return to Article

March 16th, 2008, 4:06 am

 

Zenobia said:

Thanks for the article Norman,
if things weren’t depressing enough… just read that and cry.

but…i will be quiet now. i feel bad cause i hijacked the blog for a bit…and the peoples in the East are going to wake up in a few hours and be like…what the hell stimulant was she on!….

but TOPOV really got to me…i guess… : )
we got all the way to the ‘ ok! if you were president what would you do then?!’ question …lol.

March 16th, 2008, 4:21 am

 

norman said:

The US should adopt a humble forign policy , President Bush called for during the 2000 election.

March 16th, 2008, 4:31 am

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

You already tried engaging me in nuke-talk, and I explained my position as best as I could in: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=626

Please have a look at it, and I believe that should sum things up.

Thanks.

March 16th, 2008, 4:52 am

 

ausamaa said:

Zenobia

I never thought you had so much free time on ur hands. Impressive.

March 16th, 2008, 5:06 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

thank you for engaging Zenobia, and good luck

March 16th, 2008, 5:11 am

 

Shai said:

Norman, Zenobia,

I’m sorry to say that I completely disagree with Ramzy Baroud, in his conclusion to the article. I think the reason for the recent operation in Gaza is much more cynical, and much less “practical”. It has nothing to do with sending messages to other key players, or to “testing the ground”.

It does, however, have everything to do with sending messages to someone – to Barak’s future voters. Our defense minister, ex-Israel Prime Minister who failed quite miserably in his previous post, is realistic enough to understand the public has lost confidence in him as well. He reads the polls, and sees how unlikely he is to become our next PM. So, he does what makes sense in light of these polls, that is, attempt to change his image. As “Defense” Minister, he hasn’t exactly shown he can “take care” of our enemies. They still keep pounding Sderot day after day, for the past seven years. And now, people blame Barak for that. So, hoping to win over the hearts of some potential voters, Barak gives the order for a somewhat-limited operation in Gaza. He’s willing to pay the price of 120 Palestinians and 4 Israeli soldiers, if that means he’ll be re-elected. Sounds cynical, I know, but life often is, isn’t it? Of course, the only thing in his “defense”, would be that he didn’t know in advance there would be this many dead. If he launched a major land operation into Gaza, which wouldn’t last 4 days, but 40, he won’t be able to say “I didn’t know…” Which is probably why he didn’t order the IDF to do just that.

Look at how desperate our situation has gotten, that someone who might have clearly voted Barak in the 1990’s, now suggests he is acting out of cynical and personal interests, more so than responsible national ones… it’s truly sad, and unfortunate.

March 16th, 2008, 5:16 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Just as I thought, complaints complaints complaints, but no real alternative offering for a course of action or solution… typical academic fare, which probably explains the bent of those you frequent Zenobia, reflecting opposing views to mine.

As far as Baround’s article posted by Norman, I see in it the (Lebanese?) adage, translated to mean “after much study and analysis explains water as being water”
(Wa ba3dal3ilmee wal 2ijtihadee fassaral ma2a bilma2ee)

Did it require such profound analysis? Bomb innocent Israeli civilians with indiscriminate Hamas rockets and expect what? Israel’s thanks, compliance, surrender? Rejectionists will never learn. That’s why they have to be crushed. When they stop aggressing, the punishment will stop. Sadat figured that decades ago and Egypt is all the better for it. Mahmood Abbas gets it. Hamas doesn’t. Others (like Zenobia) are just confused by the idealistic influence of academe.

March 16th, 2008, 5:23 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai, OK OK, you’re in charge; how do you stop the Hamas rockets?

March 16th, 2008, 5:25 am

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

Always a legitimate question. At the moment, I don’t believe we can stop them, period. The problem isn’t so much Israel (though many on this site would disagree), but rather the differences between Fatah and Hamas. Until these are worked out, no Palestinian leadership can deliver on almost any understanding, promise, whatever. That means, that Abu Mazen, unlike Arafat cannot reign the Hamas in. Israel cannot do it either. We can harm them here and there, but they simply regroup, rearm, and hit us back, usually very hard.

The only way to eventually stop Hamas rockets, I believe, is to come to an agreement with a governing body that truly is in control. And then, to withdraw from the West Bank, once and for all. When Hamas can no longer claim Israel is occupying Palestine, his militant legitimacy will begin to disintegrate (not his political one). Personally, I’d much rather discuss ceasefire with Hanniyeh, than our glorious “peace” with Abu Mazen. I’ve said it so many times, that I truly AM blue in my face – peace you make with your ENEMY, not with your friend, not with someone that sympathizes with you, not with someone that isn’t shooting at you, not with someone that isn’t fighting with you, not with someone you’re sending money and arms to, not with someone you’re helping protect, in his own territory.

So, since we cannot stop Hamas now, we must continue to do what we know has to take place, namely the withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Since we cannot do so in the West Bank now, we have to do so on the Golan, and especially since Syria is ready, willing, and able to make peace with us. Now’s not the time to keep dreaming of a rocket-less Hamas, or a friendly Hamas, or an in-control Abu Mazen. Now’s the time to go talk to Syria.

March 16th, 2008, 5:51 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai, “When Hamas can no longer claim Israel is occupying Palestine…”
You know as well as I do that, per the Hamas charter, this will happen when Israel no longer exists. Hence, no solution there.
The other option to just ignore Hamas and Gaza and go do peace with Syria is really not a solution now, is it? What happens in the meantime in Gaza? Hamas declares divine victory and carries on with more rocket attacks?
You mean well, Shai, and your approach wins you polite responses on this blog. This is a case where I long to be wrong, but I don’t see any real solution emerging from such a diplomatic approach as yours. Folks here evade the real tough questions. I read complaints, reactions, (sometimes hysteria). I don’t read any proactive positive proposition that is realistic and practical.

March 16th, 2008, 6:00 am

 

Zenobia said:

Dear mr. TOPOV,

I answered you POINT FOR POINT , buster.

i was laughing because at the end you have to resort (yes resort) to asking a fourth grade question (yes now i will be condescending in return) about what i would do if i were president???? as if this has anything to do with anything~!… as if presidents are that powerful.
actually… uh oh…i might be citing something too ‘academic’… presidents weren’t supposed to be that powerful… according to our constitutional history…

i gave you my plan of ‘ACTION’….SEE…IT IS CALLED GET THE F OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND LEAVE IT ALONE.
IT IS ZENOBIA’S course of INACTION…
we need some INACTION…..actually….. how’s that for a new philosophy…..
and later…action by setting a good example of integrity and honesty… instead of greed and deception.

and, if this were a wrestling match, i think the refs would say that I won.

and the main proof of that…is that you in the end… conjure up some ad hominem attack on me for being too ‘academic’…. I am apparently “confused” by academic knowledge…
lol. thats your best criticism…i have been too long affected by education!!!! right on! go education!….

why don’t you just stuff your CONDESCENSION….you know where.. thanks very much.

and i am leaving now…. so don’t bother to reply with more pitiful comments about me.

affectionately,
Zenobia…

March 16th, 2008, 6:17 am

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

My solution is not diplomatic, it’s not supposed to win “polite responses”, the opposite, it is far riskier. The relinquishing of the Golan Heights, to me, is far riskier (incase I’m wrong), than pounding and choking Gaza to death. But it is a risk that must be taken, if we do want peace in this region one day, and long before the nations of the region are democracies. Hamas cannot be wiped out – it simply cannot. No matter how much, you, I, or Zenobia may want. Hamas can declare divine victory, secular victory, or Queen Victoria for all I care. The “real tough question”, how I see it, is not how Arab societies should change, but rather how Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines.

In the meantime, we’ll continue fighting Hamas, continue to strangle some 1.5 million Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of which are innocent, poor, and starving. We can go justifying all we want, and all night long, our actions and reactions towards the Palestinians. But fact still remains that I’m typing “calmly” on my Mac PowerBook G4, while the Palestinians are enjoying a slightly lower standard of living. We can blame Hamas for it all, if we want, but that’s running away from our responsibilities, isn’t it? I’m not saying not to fight Hamas, the harsh reality is, that we don’t have a choice. But I am saying to go invest in a far better investment in the meantime, which very likely will have a positive effect on the other. Syria is the KEY right now, and we better not waste too much time discussing hypothetical propositions about changing societies, and disarming militias tomorrow morning. The only thing we CAN do tomorrow morning, is go make peace with Syria. Is it really THAT difficult to understand?

March 16th, 2008, 6:20 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

English/Zionist Dictionary for readers to help understanding TheOtherPointOfVieW’s language. It demands considerable intellectual flexibility to being able to speak about democracy promotion in one chapter and in the next the America right to dominate others natural resources. A masterpiece is when this all is said in mixed in the same chapter.

Incorrect term ………………………………… Correct term

Peace ……………………………………….. Permanent pre-hostility

Unprovoked attack by USA or Israel …………… Pre-emptive strike

Aggressive war …………………………………….. Conflict or dispute

Permanent aggressive war ………………………. Protracted conflict

Global aggressive war ……………………………. Spreading democracy

Individual resistance to aggressive war ………. Terrorism

Group resistance to aggressive war ……………. Insurgency

National resistance to aggressive war ………….. Terrorist state / rogue state

Multi-national resistance to aggressive war ……. Axis of evil

Political leader of resistance to aggressive war … Dictator / Tyrant

Military leader of resistance to aggressive war …. Warlord

Any Muslim who questions aggressive war …….. al-Qaeda

Any other person who questions aggressive war … Militant

Department that promotes aggressive war ………. Department of defense

Invasion to promote aggressive war ……………… Incursion

Israeli agents of aggressive war ………………….. Israeli defense force

Victim of aggressive war …………………………….. Illegal combatant

Victims of aggressive war (the people of Gaza) …. Enemy entity

Weapons of aggressive war ………………………… Policy instruments

Massive funding for aggressive war ……………….. Enhanced force protection

Popular support for aggressive war …………………. Democracy

Massive funding for rich weapons makers…………. Supporting the troops

Genocide ………………………………………………… Degrading the enemy

Dead U.S. soldiers…………………………………….. Non-operative personnel

Murder (as a verb) …………………………………….. Neutralize

Attack …………………………………………………… Defend

Facts / evidence / objective reality ………………….. Enemy propaganda

Theft of natural resources ……………………………. Liberation

Violence in pursuit of theft…………………………….. National security

Military censorship ……………………………………… Embedded reporters

Destroying civilian infrastructure …………………….. Asymmetric warfare

Destroying civilians themselves ……………………… Collateral damage

Psychopathic mercenaries /death squads ………….. Security forces

Imprisonment …………………………………………… Detention

Prisoner …………………………………………………… Detainee

Torture …………………………………………………. Interrogation

Illegal spying on Americans ……………………….. Terrorist surveillance

Questioning war ……………………………………. Anti-Americanism

Questioning murder …………………………………. Cut and run

Questioning the government ……………………………. Lack of patriotism

Mass questioning of the government ………………….. Home-grown terrorism

Mass ignorance ………………………………………… Consumer confidence

Debt ……………………………………. Finances

U.S. Constitution / Geneva Conventions ………………. Quaint and obsolete documents

We will nuke anyone anytime we like …………………. All options are on the table

Human bodies …………………………………………….. Soft targets

Who cares if rag-heads get wasted? …………… There is no moral equivalence between terrorists and security forces

Israelis that violently evict Palestinians from Palestine …………. Settlers

Distraction while we prepare to strike again …………… Peace process (which never ends)

A child who got killed when she got in the way ……….. Human shield

Apartheid wall ………………………………………….. Security fence

Muslim …………………………………………………. Islamist or Islamofascist

Islam …………………………………………….. Anti-American radicalism

Questioning zionist atrocities …………………………….. Anti-semitism

Questioning Jewish supremacism ………………………… Anti-semitism

Questioning U.S. funding for israel ………………………. Anti-semitism

Questioning AIPAC espionage against the USA ……….. Anti-semitism

Reverence for love, innocence, compassion…………….. Anti-semitism

Questioning the “holocaust” ……………………………… Anti-semitism

Neglect to capitalize “holocaust” ………………………… Anti-semitism

Sheer existence of non-Jews ………………………… Anti-semitism

“Huh?” …………………………….. Anti-semitism

Good morning …………………….. Anti-semitism

source

It’s easy. Terrorism = the specific targeting of innocent civilians for the purpose of creating terror in the hope that such terror leads to pressure on the responsible government to change its policy. Like Munich. Like 9/11. Like “suicide” bombings of cafes and buses. It has never worked. It will never work. Period.

The Jews used terrorism before and in creating Israel. Guess what
TheOtherPointOfVieW – it worked. What is difference if Jews did put a bomb to a marked place or to a hotel or when others do the same? I at least can’t see there any moral or legal difference.

March 16th, 2008, 10:15 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

As long as prevails the mentality of:
– Just get the US out of the ME and everything will be just fine
– Terrorism is justified
– We’ll hysterically out-shout you and declare that we won
there is a very long way to real progress towards convergence to peace. But that’s OK; the US and its allies can wait. We defeated communism. We will defeat terrorism. The war on terror will be won. When that happens, another romantic French singer will create a new “Les Ricains.” I’ll reingage you then with a link to the YouTube clip. Adios.

March 16th, 2008, 11:27 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

Jews in Israel or elsewhere cannot have better friends that the arabs ( moslem or christians). While jews were killed in Europe, most jews who lived in the middle east enjoyed respect and peace.
The christian europe have always demeneaned the jews, antisemitism is still ramping in Europe today. Europeans christians leaders accused the jews, foolishly, to have killed Jesus and the whole catholic clergy until recently was making the jews ( and the non-christians) heretics with no chance of salvation; “Outside church, no salvation” they claimed.
Islam in the contrary treats Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians the same way: respect for the people of the book. “Ahl el kitab”
The tragedy is that the creation by the profoundly antisemitic Europe of the state of Israel by violence supposedly as a safe haven from the still antisemitic europe have created in the arabs the perception that the jews do believe they are a superior race and that they are above the laws. The jews in Isreal have lost the respect they had and by snowballing, the jews in the world, supporters of Israel, are perceived as arrogant and violent ennemies of the arabs.
That is the worst present anti semitic europe have done to jews: make their potentially best friends their worst ennemy.
To reverse that will take more than a generation and certainly not a regime like the one in Israel now.

March 16th, 2008, 12:03 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I agree with you. It will take a long time for Jews and Arabs to lose their innate distrust, hatred, and suspicion of one another. In such a short time relatively (60 years), so much damage was done. But we have to start somewhere. And to do that, Israel must accept the offer Syria is making – let’s talk again. If this current Israeli administration doesn’t do it, the next one will. If it won’t happen “peacefully” (without going to war), it’ll happen “by force”, after we endure a terrible regional war again. But sooner or later, Israelis and Syrians will sit at the same table, and find the way to end our conflict once and for all. And when that happens, positive pressure will be placed on Israelis and Palestinians (including Hamas) to do the same. But we have to start with Syria, because it is much easier than with the Palestinians right now (under Abu Mazen).

March 16th, 2008, 12:12 pm

 

Zenobia said:

You can add this to the dictionary:

someone who out argues you = confused by academe and ‘hysterical’

thanks for your now slightly sexist condescension… you really did run out of steam didn’t you…tooo baddd

and “better DEAD than RED”… thats lovely. what decade are you living in TOPOV… we defeated communism??? and what exactly did you accomplish by this supposed defeat?? the world is such a much better place now? what was this all for…..

see… those of us who are not ancient old men like you… think you are nuts to be still harping on communism… and now your obsession has morphed to the evil of ‘islamofascism’… when will it be done.
thankfully, you won’t be in this world too much longer to keep tainting it with your antiquated idealogies…
Adios to you too.

March 16th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia, well, ok, I accept all criticism as long as it’s fair. The items that I either don’t understand, are not founded on anything I said, or are misenterpretations are:
– “slightly sexist condenscension” ??? [never said it, implied it, nor intended it]
– “ancient old men like you” ??? [unfounded conclusion – really just an assumption – just because someone studies history and ties events across decades doesn’t mean that someone is an “ancient old man”]
– “islamofascism” ??? [never used the word; don’t believe in it; never attacked nor insulted Islam ]
As far as “thankfully (…) not being in this world too much longer to keep tainting it…” maybe you know something I don’t know but that’s news to me except if a sudden illness or accident were to befall.
You see, I gave you the benefit of articulating facts and opinions that are shared by many and that a good perentage of the American electorate subscribe to. I did admit to a lack of understanding on the part of Americans, and of course the administration in particular, of the cultural differences and the true ways to reach the hearts and minds in the ME. Regrettably, the converse is true (and then some!). You have not attempted persuasion. You have unleached a fury of words, accusations, incorrect assumptions, and insults. The need for outreach to hearts and minds goes both ways. The Arabs do have a sufficient number of highly educated and effective people – like you Zenobia – to undertake this mission. I’m not sure what’s lacking there. It’s regrettable that there is no Arabic Shai who would attempt what he has.

March 16th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW says:
“…claim rights only by democratic means and by persuasion…”

and I ask, to what extent was Israel established this way in the past century?

March 16th, 2008, 8:25 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

SimoHurtta, I do not wish to engage you in any debate but want to make it clear to any reader of this blog that I reject completely and outright your list as being nothing more than your projection of your accumulated hatred onto a single individual contributor of this blog. Your “Dictionary” bears no connection to anything I said but is simply your obfuscated view that classifies anyone who presents you with a different perspective as conforming to a specific picture you paint in your mind and which is reflected in that “Dictionary.” Any sensible person on this blog should see this. Those who don’t and subscribe to your views are simply hopeless. I doubt there are many of them (maybe just one = Ausamaa).

March 16th, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Seeking, you ask “to what extent was Israel established this way in the past century?”
Fair question. Should be debated, analyzed, contended; the Arab viewpoint put forth strongly, articulately, persuasively. I have read the speech (in history files and UN records) of the former Lebanese president Suleiman Frangieh in the 1970’s at the UN on this subject: superbly eloquent and effective. You need more of this kind of lobbying. You need more self-improvement and build-up of true strength to reclaim what you believe are violated rights. Instead, history shows overpouring of rash reactions and emotions, espousing by some of terrorism. The results speak for themselves. Do NOT misunderstand the firm stand of folks like me against terrorism and similar methods as bigotry against Arabs. You’d be surprised how many are open-minded and ready to be persuaded and engaged.
Instead, we are treated to fury as you saw in the epic exchange with Zenobia.

March 16th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

I’m very glad to hear you say that “many are open-minded and ready to be persuaded and engaged.” At first sight, to me and perhaps to many others, some of your arguments (as well as AIG/AP’s) appear to originate from a certain closed-mindedness, or at least extreme inflexibility in looking the glass inside out (through our neighbors’ eyes). Your statement is very important, and should be repeated often, in order to give hope to many here who may have already given up on Israelis.

March 16th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

No problem Shai. Just notice though some of the categorical responses to my posts (by Ausamaa and Simohurtta for example) which extrapolate from what I say to include 99% of things I did not say and which are projected through a highly filtered lens with which they view things. Therein lies a fundamental problem, Shai. Folks like this you can’t win over. You can try with the others, like Zenobia. I wish you luck. For my part, I managed to make Zenobia hate me. Not be indifferent to me. Just plain hate me. Not sure it is deserved based on what I said. I suspect I must have hit some raw sensitivities and will continue to challenge all to (a) full rejection of terrorism as I defined it unambiguously and (b) engagement through persuasion and competence. Without these, violent conflict will continue.

March 16th, 2008, 10:11 pm

 

norman said:

topov,
Do not be silly ,
nobody hates you , we do not like what Israel does and your defence of it , The only way is move beyond the past and look for the possibilities that can be there if the semitic people stop killing each other and try to care about each other for the good of their children.

March 17th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

TOPOV,

Welcome to Professor Josh’s (Director, Center for Peace Studies
University of Oklahoma) Syria Comment website.

Unfortunately, the only time the participants here feel peaceful is when they don’t have to dialogue with a pro-Israeli.

You see, many of the participants here still do not accept Israel’s right to exist, nor do they permit Israel the right of self-defense.

These rights are only afforded to countries other than Israel.

Feel free to contact me, and we can discuss other interesting nuances that make up the Syria Comment “peace” website:

Regards.

Akbar Palace

palace.akbar@gmail.com

March 17th, 2008, 1:14 am

 

norman said:

Ap,TOPOV,

Nobody wants Israel to disappear , we just feel that Israel should look for the future and understand that war forever is not in Israel’s best interest , so peace no matter how much it feels will make her give up is better than losing everything in the long run.

March 17th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Nobody wants Israel to disappear…

Thanks Norman,

I guess you didn’t see Zenobia’s post:

i gave you my plan of ‘ACTION’….SEE…IT IS CALLED GET THE F OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND LEAVE IT ALONE.

Of course Zenobia holds no power assuming he’s a resident of the Middle East, but the Iranian, Hamas, and Hezbollah leadership also do not agree with your words of “reassurance”.

we just feel that Israel should look for the future and understand that war forever is not in Israel’s best interest

I agree, however it is not Israel’s responsibility to define the Hamas and Hezbollah charters nor is it Israel’s responsibility to put words in Ahmadinejad’s mouth. Neither of these political forces are willing to make peace with Israel, nor do they accept Israel’s existence.

So please, don’t say “nobody”, unless you really have proof;)

March 17th, 2008, 1:49 am

 

norman said:

Ap,
I look at the Hebrews as an essential part in the Mideast , they are the people who left many years ago during the Roman conquest as i did only 25 years ago and many others and as i like for my children to have the right to return to Syria if they want i think that the Hebrews or the Jews should be able to do so ,

You keep saying that everybody wants to destroy Israel , I agree that some want that but the Majority of Palestinians Syrians Lebanese and Iranians just want Israel to be more considerate to their rights the rights that Israel would want if it was in their position, you keep saying that Hamas and all the others want to destroy Israel , Israel did not even try to talk to Hamas to see what they really want , talk does not make anybody lose anything and it will make it easier to make an informed decision on this important subject which will affect Israel and the others for a long time to come.

March 17th, 2008, 2:16 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,

Inflexibility?

You asked Bashmann a direct question on whether Israel talking with Syria will hamper democracy in Syria and if it should be pursued. You got your answer but chose to just tell Bashmann that you have to ignore his answer because your concerns are more important than his.

You admitted very clearly that leaving Lebanon was an Israeli mistake yet you are for repeating a similar mistake in the Golan and the West Bank. Your response to everything is: There is going to be a war! We must do everything to stop it! Let’s try again giving back territory and see if it works this time.

And all the time you are masquarading under the flag that you understand “the other side” better. It is clear that you are only willing to listen to the parts of the “other side” that agree with your ideas. So why the posturing?

Throwing yourself under a train to to try curing acute back pain because you have already tried everything else is not being “flexible” and telling people that advise against it that they are not “flexible” is not a reasonable position.

The fact is, that very few in Israel support your position not because they don’t understand the Arabs but because they understand them too well and take them seriously. Can you please explain to me why a very large majority of Jews coming from Arab lands support my position and very few support yours? Do you understand the Arabs better than them, or are you just more “flexible”?

March 17th, 2008, 3:21 am

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar. don’t say i said that i am against Israel existing. i didn’t ever ever say that.

i am pro-Israel if that just refers to whether it should exist or not. that isn’t even a damn question for me. it does exist. it will exist. I would even say that Israeli people had a right to pursue a dream they had of that place to live and thrive.
this is not even under question for me. and i am not worried about her continued existence. this is just nonsense. Israel has plenty of weaponry and even nuclear weaponry. and if the entire arab world tried to wipe out Israel (as i stated above above about my feel regarding anything like genocide … ) i would support defending her.
But this is simply not reality. Israel is not in danger. this is myth at this point.
there is still excess fear. but she is incredibly powerful. It is only because of her own expansive enterprises that she has continued to be a target.

and i do believe that the USA has destroyed it own credibility for quite a while, and that this cannot be just repaired easily, and that therefore we need to get out of the middle east before we just make ourselves more hated.
do i think there is going to be a disaster in Iraq. Yes, i do. but i think that disaster if going to come anyway.. either NOW or Later. and I think it is just prolonging the fallout to stay. It is better to let what is going to happen between these countrymen happen. It is their business and not ours. that is what i am talking about.
I believe everyone in the middle east deserves humanitarian intervention, so action in that form would be positive. i am just against all form of warfare. period.

As for TOPOV, yes, i do hate you.
you did in fact manage to elicit this feeling. but i don’t know you as a person. so it doesn’t really matter. I will more correctly say, i hate what you put here on the blog.
but let me clarify.
you are not the first by any means to express these type of ideas. so please stop flattering yourself as if you are the first person to have such profound insights and critiques. Hardly.
and in the past, i rarely felt that level of repulsion.

what repulses me is not your IDEAS.
no, what repulses me and makes me angry….is your tone and language, however subtle and underhanded it may be. It reeks of condescension, arrogance, and superiority.
that is what i hate.
and that started from the moment you posted. YOU were the insulting person first… in these little slights of words.
Condescending to most of the people here… and that is what i find revolting and that brings out fury in me.

but do you see that about how you presented your ideas? no i am sure you don’t. because people who feel superior and keep talking about how others don’t have their level of logic and reasoning and evidence …etc etc etc… and are that arrogant… obviously don’t have much self-observation.

but you needn’t mistake that for anger at your ideas. you ideas are very common. (and i don’t mean to say that they are the ‘majority’ or that they have more validity) i mean that they are of the lowest common form…

now, please stop referring to me.. or talking to me. as i said before.

March 17th, 2008, 4:51 am

 

Shai said:

AIG, welcome back.

You know, while reading what you wrote, I think I suddenly understood the problem here. You have thoughts on what should and should not happen in our region. You have ideas of how to go about it. But what you manage again and again to do, is to alienate almost anyone that reads your comments. Why? Because what you do, is not come into a room, take a seat, and calmly discuss matters. Instead, you seem to “barge in”, take out your Uzi, and start spraying people with your criticism. Even if you have unbelievable wisdom, your way of expressing it is, at best, horrific. And, as you know, marketing is everything. When you don’t market well, the content is irrelevant, because no one’s listening to the “what”, only to the “how”. You may claim that we, as well-educated, affluent cyber-astronauts, should be able to rise “above that”. But reality is simply such that we can’t, and very few people can. I’m sorry if I sound patronizing, I don’t mean it that way, but I do want you to notice how others may perceive you simply because of “how” you market yourself.

Now, for the Tachless. Look, I certainly do not wish to repeat the mistakes of the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and now apparently Gaza. By the way, when I say “the mistakes of…”, I don’t mean that there also weren’t good things that came out of them – there were. But I don’t want to make the same mistakes in the West Bank, and in the Golan. And therefore I’m not suggesting that we should unilaterally withdraw from either. With the Golan, there’s no reason to, as Syria is ready, willing, and able to make peace right now (not a year from now, now!) With the West Bank, it is far more complicated given the rift between Abu Mazen and Hamas, which is why I don’t believe we can leave the West Bank on our own, nor hand it to him tomorrow morning. But, I do believe that peace with Syria can help resolve a lot of those issues, and will therefore contribute greatly also to peace with the Palestinians, which is so long overdue.

To suggest that I fear war so much, that I’m willing to just give back land, and “see if it works this time…” is not very respectful of you. Am I that reckless with Israel’s security? Am I such a gambler with our future? Do I have no understanding of reality around me? Am I merely a “dreamer”? If you think so, then either you haven’t been reading my comments carefully, or you’re not open to seeing me any differently (as some have termed it, you’ve already “labeled” me). I’m not into science experiments in the Middle East. I don’t think we should give back land, and wait and see what happens. I do think we should get out of the West Bank (when possible), and the Golan, because they’re not ours, period. If you told me, look, let’s consider giving back the “triangle” in central Israel, in return for keeping Ariel, and other large settlements, I’d have to think very very carefully. Doing such a thing “quickly” could be dangerous and irresponsible, as it entails huge complexities. But leaving the Golan, in return for peace with Syria, doesn’t require that much contemplation. It is not our land, we conquered it in war, and should return it. I never said let’s give it back no matter what. I said let’s give it back when Syria’s ready to recognize us, and in fact, make peace with us. Since they’re ready, and have been for the past number of years, why are we waiting? Because Washington prefers we do? Because GWAT “bad guy” lists include Syria, and Bashar Assad? Who understands and should be in charge of Israel’s strategic interests in the region, Dubya, or Israel?

You don’t seriously think most Israelis understand Arabs better than I do, do you? Would you say the same about yourself? Of course not, because most Israelis haven’t engaged in even one-tenth of one percent of my (or your) efforts with Arabs. They haven’t listened to more than 5 minutes total time of one-on-one with an Arab, their entire lives. Same, of course, for most Arabs around us. There are other reasons why many Spharadic Jews don’t like Arabs, and you know full well what they are. It has nothing to do with politics, or policy, or great understanding of the Arabs of today. It has to do with their past, and with the fact that they left those countries, mostly as children, and cannot fathom liking them ever again.

Lastly, I’M not showing flexibility? What on earth are you talking about? Can you show me ANY flexibility you’re showing? Can you point to ANYTHING you’re doing to promote peace in our region? Can you suggest ANY scenario whereby tomorrow morning we make peace with Syria, who is offering it almost to the point of embarrassment?

March 17th, 2008, 6:15 am

 

Alex said:

TOPOV,

“It’s regrettable that there is no Arabic Shai who would attempt what he has.”

There are many Arabic Shais … but you would not be able to notice them … Shai himself did find a few here.

I think what you are looking for is this “Arab”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0wVDk0fA4g

The Neocons were/are preparing him to become president of Syria.

March 17th, 2008, 6:24 am

 

Shai said:

Alex, TOPOV,

I’m getting a little embarrassed here… There are many many Arabs who are no less open-minded and ready to make peace, than I am. I have found many here, and elsewhere. Like I said to AIG above, so much of it has to do with HOW we talk about things, not even with the WHAT. Respect is something we normally exercise everywhere in our day-to-day (or at least we should), but here, and in talking between enemies, it is paramount to achieving any level of discourse, not to mention empathy.

March 17th, 2008, 6:40 am

 

Alex said:

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI issued one of his strongest appeals for peace in Iraq on Sunday, days after the body of the kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop was found near the northern city of Mosul.

The pope also denounced the 5-year-long Iraq war, saying it had provoked the complete breakup of Iraqi civilian life.

“Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!” Benedict said to applause at the end of his Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

On Thursday, the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found near Mosul. He had been abducted on Feb. 29.

Benedict has called Rahho’s death an “inhuman act of violence” that offended human dignity.

On Sunday, Benedict praised Rahho for his loyalty to Christ and his refusal to abandon his flock despite many threats and difficulties.

He recalled Rahho’s death as the Catholic Church opens Holy Week, the most solemn week in the liturgical calendar in which the faithful recall the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

Benedict said Rahho’s dedication to the Catholic Church and his death compelled him to “raise a strong and sorrowful cry” to denounce the violence in Iraq spawned by the war that began five years ago this week.

“At the same time, I make an appeal to the Iraqi people, who for the past five years have borne the consequences of a war that provoked the breakup of their civil and social life,” Benedict said.

He urged them to raise their heads and reconstruct their life through “reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and coexistence among tribal, ethnic and religious groups.”

The Vatican strongly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In its aftermath, Benedict has frequently criticized attacks against Iraqi Christians by Islamic extremists. Last year, he urged President Bush to keep the safety of Iraqi Christians in mind.

Benedict is due to preside over a memorial service at the Vatican on Monday in honor of Rahho. Typically, the pope only presides over such services when a cardinal dies.

March 17th, 2008, 6:51 am

 

Alex said:

Shai do you have the English version of Alon’s interview with Asharq Alawsat today?

ئيس اللوبي الإسرائيلي للسلام مع سورية لـ«الشرق الاوسط»: بعد 10 أشهر من مغادرة بوش سنوقعُ اتفاقَ سلامٍ مع دمشق

ألون لئيل يؤكد أن 85% من قضايا الجولان أقرتها الحكومات التي سبقت شارون وأولمرت
الون لئيل
تل أبيب: نظير مجلي
صرح رئيس اللوبي الاسرائيلي للسلام مع سورية والمدير العام الأسبق لوزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية، الدكتور ألون لئيل، في حديث لـ«الشرق الأوسط»، ان احتمالات السلام بين اسرائيل وسورية أكبر بكثير مما يرى في ظروف اليوم. وان هناك استعدادا واسعا في اسرائيل لمثل هذا السلام. وأكد ان العائق أمام سلام كهذا هو الرئيس الأميركي، جورج بوش. فعندما يغادر بوش البيت الأبيض، ستبدأ مسيرة مفاوضات في غضون أربعة شهور بين الجانبين وهو، أي لئيل، يتوقع أن تنتهي هذه المفاوضات في غضون ستة أشهر باتفاق سلام دائم وشامل بين البلدين.

ولئيل، 60 عاما، هو أحد الشخصيات الدبلوماسية المعروفة في اسرائيل. وعمل في وزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية طيلة 30 عاما، 1971ـ2001، وكان شاهدا عن قرب على مراحل تقدم المفاوضات الاسرائيلية ـ السورية، منذ حكم اسحق رابين الذي سلم وزير الخارجية الأميركي، وارن كريستوفر، وديعة يتعهد فيها بالموافقة على الانسحاب الى حدود 4 يونيو (حزيران) 1967 مقابل سلام كامل وشامل مع سورية وضمانات أمنية مناسبة، وكذلك في فترة حكم بنيامين نتنياهو (الذي بدأ مفاوضات مع سورية، ووافق على الانسحاب لكنه تراجع في آخر لحظة، وحتى حكم ايهود باراك، الذي شغل لديه منصب المدير العام لوزارة الخارجية في الفترة ما بين 2000 و2001. منذ أربع سنين تقريبا، ينشط لئيل في محادثات مع شخصيات سورية، بواسطة طرف ثالث في البداية (الحكومة السويسرية)، ثم بمحادثات مباشرة، بهدف وضع صيغة اتفاق للسلام بين البلدين. والشخصية السورية التي تولت ادارة هذه المفاوضات، هو ابراهيم سليمان، وهو باحث أميركي من أصل سوري. لكن اسم سليمان «احترق» في سورية لدى زيارته لإسرائيل في السنة الماضية. واضطر السوريون الى استبدال آخر به، مع انه ما زال يشارك في اللقاءات، بشخصيات أخرى تبدو أرفعَ وأهمَّ في أروقة السياسة بدمشق. وفي الأسابيع الأخيرة حصل تقدم كبير في ذلك، حيث التقى لئيل مع السفير السوري في واشنطن، عماد مصطفى، مباشرة (سورية نفت). ومع ان لئيل لم يؤكد ولم ينف أمر هذا اللقاء، واشترط ألا يسأل عن الموضوع، فقد تأكد من عدة مصادر أمر هذا اللقاء. وعلمت «الشرق الاوسط» ان الطرفين اتفقا على انه طالما تشكل الادارة الأميركية الحالية عقبة أمام استئناف المفاوضات على المسار السوري، فينبغي العمل في الولايات المتحدة لإزالة هذه العقبة بواسطة تجنيد لوبي خاص لهذه الغاية. وفهمت «الشرق الاوسط» ان امكانات نجاح هذا اللوبي لدرجة التأثير على السياسة الأميركية في الادارة القادمة كبيرة جدا.

وفي ما يلي نص الحديث:

* ما الذي حققتموه منذ أعلنتم عن اقامة حركة السلام اسرائيل ـ سورية؟

ـ عقدنا 12 لقاء حتى الآن، تقدمنا فيها كثيرا في التفاهمات حول أسس هذا السلام بين اسرائيل وسورية.

* ما هي هذه الأسس؟

ـ انسحاب من الأراضي التي احتلتها اسرائيل سنة 1967 مقابل ضمانات أمنية للطرفين واقامة السلام الشامل، وبسبب المعارضة الواسعة في اسرائيل للانسحاب من الجولان، توصلنا الى اقتراح بإقامة حديقة قومية في الثلث الغربي من هضبة الجولان يتاح فيها للمواطنين الاسرائيليين دخولها من دون تأشيرة دخول (مثلما يتاح مثل هذا الأمر للاسرائيليين في شرم الشيخ وطابا المصريتين) والإبقاء على المشاريع الاقتصادية الاسرائيلية الحالية في الجولان (مصانع النبيذ الفاخر والمزارع وغيرها) كاستثمارات أجنبية يواصل أصحابها ادارتها كمشاريع سورية ولمدة 5 ـ 15 سنة منذ توقيع اتفاق السلام لا يعود المواطنون السوريون للسكنى في هذا الثلث من الجولان، ولكن هذا الثلث يكون تحت السيادة السورية الكاملة.

* أين هو موقف الحكومات من هذه المحادثات. فكيف تقتنع أنت بأن الحكومة السورية تقف وراء هذه المحادثات وكيف تقنعنا بأن الحكومة الاسرائيلية تقف وراءك أنت في هذه المحادثات؟

ـ لا يمكننا القول انها محادثات بين حكومتين، ولكن من الواضح أنني اتحدث مع شخصيات لها وزنها الكبير في مؤسسات الحكم في سورية. أما في اسرائيل فقد بدأت هذه المحادثات في زمن حكومة أرييل شارون، بالتنسيق مع وزارة الخارجية. وكل ما أفعله يتم بمعرفتهم.

* هل كان شارون شخصيا يعرف؟

ـ بالتأكيد كان يعرف. أنا شخصياً لم أتحدث معه في الموضوع، ولكنني عندما كنت أبلغ الخارجية كانوا يطلعونه على ما يجري. فأنا كنت ذات مرة مديرا عاما في وزارة الخارجية، وأعرف كيف تنقل مثل هذه الأمور. كما انني اعرف ان شارون كان يعرف.

* ورئيس الوزراء الحالي أولمرت، هل كان يعرف؟ وهل يعرف اليوم؟

ـ في حينه لم يكن يعرف لأنه كان وزيراً للتجارة والصناعة في حكومة شارون. ولكنه اليوم يعرف بالتأكيد. وهو يدرك ان الأمور جدية، ولم يعد يستطع تجاهلها، ولذلك رأيناه يصرح قبل أيام بأنه لا يرى غضاضة في استئناف المفاوضات مع سورية. ولمح إلى أن هناك اتصالات مع دمشق.

* كيف تدار هذه المحادثات؟ أين؟ وعلى أي أسس؟

ـ في البداية جرت في أوروبا ثم الولايات المتحدة. وهي لقاءات بين شخصيات يهمها أن يقوم السلام بين دولتيها وشعبيها، تتم في اطار حوار ثنائي أو في اطار حوار أوسع بحضور آخرين. وهناك لقاءات على مستوى آخر، مثل الندوة التي جرت اخيرا في واشنطن وشاركت فيها مع السفير السوري لدى الولايات المتحدة؛ عماد مصطفى.

* فهمنا منك ان هدف زيارتك للولايات المتحدة هو بالأساس اقامة لوبي أميركي يضغط من أجل استئناف المفاوضات بين اسرائيل وسورية، فهل هذا يعني انكم توصلتم الى القناعة بأن واشنطن هي التي تمنع الحكومة الاسرائيلية من استئناف هذه المفاوضات؟

ـ ليس كل واشنطن، بل ادارة الرئيس بوش هي التي تمنع اسرائيل من استئناف المفاوضات.

* ألم تعد اسرائيل دولة مستقلة؟

ـ في العلاقات الدولية، توجد آليات ومصالح تجعل إحداها تبدو تابعة للأخرى في بعض المواقف. أولمرت ليس معنياً بإغضاب الرئيس بوش. لكن هناك قوى عديدة في الحزبين الديمقراطي والجمهوري تؤيدنا في موقفنا حول ضرورة استئناف المفاوضات، وتنتقد بشدة سياسة بوش في هذا الموضوع. وأنا واثق من انه بعد غياب بوش في 20 يناير (كانون الثاني) عام 2009، سيزاح هذا الحظر ويشعل الضوء الأخضر في واشنطن وستستأنف المفاوضات بين اسرائيل وسورية في غضون أربعة أشهر من تسلم الرئيس الأميركي الجديد مهام منصبه.

* وهل ستسفر هذه المفاوضات عن اتفاق، حسب رأيك؟

ـ بالتأكيد، فأنا أعرف ان 85% من القضايا اتفق عليها بين كل الحكومات الاسرائيلية التي سبقت حكومتي شارون وأولمرت وبين سورية. وبقية القضايا لا تحتاج الى أكثر من ستة أشهر. فإذا استؤنفت المفاوضات فعلا حسب تقديراتي هذه، فإنها ستنتهي باتفاق سلام شامل ودائم بين البلدين، حتى نهاية 2009.

* هل زيارتك للولايات المتحدة استهدفت التحضير لتلك الفترة؟ وهل التقيت مع المرشحين للرئاسة الأميركية؟

ـ أجل، التقينا مع مسؤولين في الطواقم الانتخابية للمرشحين الثلاثة للرئاسة ووجدنا تجاوبا ايجابيا. ولكي نضمن ألا يخربوا علينا هذه الجهود، نتصل من الآن بكبار الموظفين المهنيين في الادارة الأميركية، فهؤلاء سيبقون في وظائفهم عندما يتغير الرئيس. وتوجد حاجة للشرح لهم حتى لا يشكلوا لنا عقبة في المستقبل. نحن نريد الوصول الى مرحلة انتهاء دورة الرئيس بوش، بوجود لوبي واسع في الولايات المتحدة يؤيد المفاوضات الاسرائيلية ـ السورية، لا أن نبدأ العمل في ذلك الوقت.

* ألا يشترطون شيئاً على سورية مثل «الخروج من محور الشر» و«رفع اليد عن لبنان» وغيرهما..؟

ـ واضح ان الأميركيين يناقشون العديد من جوانب السياسة السورية، ولكن نحن أيضا نناقشهم حولها. فالأمور التي يضعونها عقبة، هي في نظرنا ناجمة عن الصراع. فإذا توصلت اسرائيل وسورية الى اتفاق سلام، ستزول تلك العقبات.

* أعطِنَا مثلا على ذلك، فالأميركيون يهاجمون سورية على موقفها من الموضوع اللبناني، فهل أنتم تدافعون عن موقف سورية أمامهم؟

ـ كلا. نحن نقول لهم اننا ندرك أهمية موقفهم من الموضوع اللبناني. ففي الولايات المتحدة يوجد لوبي لبناني قوي ومؤثر. وفي الوقت نفسه، نقول لهم ان السلام الاسرائيلي ـ السوري سيفرض بحد ذاته قواعد جديدة في المنطقة. فإذا وقعت سورية اتفاق سلام مع اسرائيل، لا يعقل أن تتحالف مع مَنْ يعلن ليل نهار أنه يريد ابادة اسرائيل مثل ايران أو حزب الله أو حماس. وليس من المعقول أن تمد أياً من هذه التنظيمات بالسلاح. سورية دولة مستقلة ولها مصالح ولا يربطها مع ايران رباط آيديولوجي. لذا، فإن الأمور ستتغير بالمنطقة مع هذا السلام. وهذا لمصلحة الغرب ولمصلحة كل شعوب المنطقة، والأهم لمصلحة الشعبين الاسرائيلي والسوري.

* ألا تشترطون على سورية أن تقطع علاقاتها بإيران؟

ـ ليس من المنطق أن تطلب من دولة مستقلة أن تقطع علاقاتها مع دولة صديقة. فهناك علاقات متينة بين سورية وايران، اقتصاديا وسياسيا وعسكريا. ما يمكن أن نطلبه، وهذا شرعي ومتبع في جميع الاتفاقات السلمية الدولية، هو الا تكون تلك العلاقات مؤثرة سلبيا أو متناقضة مع أهداف اتفاق السلام. وهذا أمر مفروغ منه.

* لنعد الى اسرائيل. هناك لوبي كبير يؤيد السلام مع سورية بين السياسيين والعسكريين، ولكن كما تعرف فإن غالبية الاسرائيليين أعلنوا في عدة استطلاعات رأي أنهم لن يؤيدوا الانسحابَ من الجولان، حتى لو كان ذلك مقابل السلام؟

ـ علمتنا التجربة أنه في اللحظة التي تبدأ فيها القيادة الرسمية مفاوضات، ينخفض عدد المعارضين بنسبة 10ـ15% على الفور. ومع استمرار المفاوضات، تنشأ آلية تأييد متنامية، خصوصا إذا عرفنا كيف نأتي باقتراحات إبداعية خلاقة تطمئن الجمهور على مستقبله وتقنعه بصدق النوايا. فمثلا، اقتراح الحديقة القومية، يعتبر مساعداً جداً لقبول الاسرائيليين الانسحاب، بمن في ذلك مستوطنون بالجولان. ولا تنسى ان الشخصيات السياسية والعسكرية المؤيدة لهذا السلام كثيرة ومحترمة. وان قسماً كبيراً من الوزراء يؤيدون، بينهم وزير الدفاع ايهود باراك. ورئيس اركان الجيش، غابي أشكنازي، والعديد من أعضاء هيئة رئاسة الأركان الحاليين يؤيدون. إضافة إلى رؤساء اركان سابقين، مثل أمنون لفكين شاحاك وموشيه يعلون ورؤساء شعبة الاستخبارات العسكرية، أوري ساغي وأهرون زئيفي فركش وعاموس يدلين، ونائب رئيس الأركان السابق، موشيه كابلينسكي، ورئيس الشاباك (جهاز المخابرات العامة) سابقا وزير الشؤون الاستراتيجية، عامي ايلون، ورؤساء مجلس الأمن القومي، غيورا آيلاند وعوزي ديان ورئيس الموساد (جهاز المخابرات الخارجية الأسبق)، يعقوب بيري، وغيرهم.

* هناك تخوف، خصوصا لدى الفلسطينيين، من ان تفضيل المسار السوري على المسار الفلسطيني جاء ليمس القضية الفلسطينية وليكون على حسابها. فما رأيك في هذا؟

ـ نحن لم نأت لنحل محل المسار الفلسطيني. فإسرائيل بحاجة الى السلام مع الفلسطينيين والسوريين. ولكننا عندما نقول إننا نفضل السلام مع سورية أولا، لأننا نرى ان المفاوضات مع سورية ممكنة ولا تحتاج الى الكثير من الجهد لأن معظمها ناجز، وثانيا لأننا نعتقد ان السلام مع الفلسطينيين اليوم غير واقعي. فهناك الانشقاق بين حماس وفتح، وهناك الانقلاب في غزة الذي زاد المسألة تعقيداً. وهناك قضايا مُحرِقة لا تستطيع الحكومة الحالية البت فيها حالياً، مثل قضية القدس وقضية اللاجئين وقضية الحدود، فهذه قضايا صعبة للغاية. فلا يُعقل أن نظل ننتظر ونضيِّعَ الفرصة السانحة. فالرئيس بشار السد يقترح منذ اربع سنوات اجراء مفاوضات غير مشروطة مع اسرائيل في سبيل تحقيق سلام شامل وعادل، فهل يعقل أن نرفض؟ ثم انني أعتقد أن السلام مع سورية سيسهل أكثر السلام مع الفلسطينيين، لأن حماس ستفقد كثيرا من قوتها وتأثيرها، وقوى التطرف لن تستطيع التخريب بسهولة على الاتفاق.

* قل صراحة، هل تثق بالرئيس بشار الأسد وتؤمن بصدقه في طرح مبادرة للسلام مع إسرائيل؟

ـ نعم أثق به وأصدقه. انه يريد السلام والرخاء لشعبه. وأنا أعرف ان لديه معارضين في سورية، ومع ذلك فهو ماضٍ بقوة في نهجه

March 17th, 2008, 7:20 am

 

Shai said:

No, but I’ll see if he does.

March 17th, 2008, 7:37 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I haven’t seen an English version of Alon’s interview yet.

However, Alon has seen already a Hebrew summary of it in (nana10.co.il), and has remarked that they made exaggerations, writing of meetings conducted between Alon and high-level Syrian officials in Washington. Alon mentioned that in the interview, he spoke about unofficial meetings with private Syrian citizens.

Journalists naturally like to fill up their stories with as much sensationalism as possible and, at least in the Hebrew version, they exaggerated. Since I do not read Arabic, I don’t know if the same was written in the Asharq Alawsat article.

March 17th, 2008, 9:11 am

 

Norman said:

I wonder if he meant by meeting non official Syrians is his meeting with us at Syria comment recently.

March 17th, 2008, 12:38 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

AP,

I guess I’ll address you since Zenobia banned me from responding directly, the main reason for my response being to ensure that the record is clear. [Details below].

Alex,

Thank you for the link introducing me to Farid Ghadry. At first look (Wikipedia, reformsyria.org), I don’t see problems with the principles he is advocating. Maybe there’s more, which after some research, would make one have reservations (?). And clearly, even if Mr. Ghadry has the panacea, the key is in a peaceful transition from what is now to what could be. No one wants a repeat of Iraq. Any change in Syria has to be one supported by the majority of Syrian people. I’m not an expert in these matters but wanted to clearly indicate how my thinking goes in them lest it be misinterpreted. [And I’m not looking to be an influential voice either.]

Norman,

I do appreciate your positive tone and good intentions. But alas, as far as the “hate” status of Zenobia, just read the most recent post of Zenobia regrettably disagreeing with your interpretation. Regrettably, my perception was correct.

Now to setting the record straight:

1- For anyone interested in objective analysis, please do review all my posts and Zenobia’s and come to your own conclusion as far as the language used and the style of communicating certain points.

2- What I have stood categorically for is the absolute rejection of terrorism as I defined it. Zenobia, it seems to me, finds it justifiable because the perpetrators, and I’m paraphrasing, have no other recourse.

3- The standing on rejecting terrorism is firm and absolute on my part. There is no room for negotiation here. If the other party insists on it and will not cease and desist, then it’s a fight to the death. Period. Please note that I’m not “insinuating” nor am I using double-speak nor trying to sneak in my argument. It’s clear like night and day.

4- If indeed there are arguments to be made against Israel in this terrorism vein, or the U.S., then fine, we’ll discuss them in the open with complete facts and whether any such actions by Israel or by the U.S. rise to that standard or come close to it. I have clearly indicated my agreement that mistakes and crimes have been committed. In any case, 2 wrongs don’t make a right, and terrorism needs to be eliminated regardless of who perpetrates it.

5- My response to:
“you are not the first by any means to express these type of ideas. so please stop flattering yourself as if you are the first person to have such profound insights and critiques. Hardly.”

is:

I never claimed to be the first, I’m not flattering myself, and I never claimed that my insights and critiques are profound. On the contrary, I believe simplicity and straightforwardness is the key. That’s what I intended. I trust I succeeded. Clarity of purpose; clarity of message.

6- My response to:
“what repulses me and makes me angry….is your tone and language, however subtle and underhanded it may be. It reeks of condescension, arrogance, and superiority.
that is what i hate.
and that started from the moment you posted. YOU were the insulting person first… in these little slights of words.
Condescending to most of the people here… and that is what i find revolting and that brings out fury in me.”

is:

I see clearly that, for some reason, my style of writing, my “tone and language” hits a raw nerve with Zenobia. I honestly don’t know why. I reject that my writing “reeks condescension, arrogance, and superiority.” What my writings express is clear. The readership can judge for itself whether there’s more to it than what is there. Again, I think I did put my finger on the one raw nerve: unambiguous definition of terrorism and its absolute rejection, something that some want to massage into a sometimes acceptable option. When I called this attempt and elicited a coming-out of those who subscribe to it, I seem to have generated anger by some. When I challenged the other party to use other means and rise up to the standard of successful persuasion (call it lobbying), I got a push-back with all sorts of excuses as to why it can’t be effective or work. Herein lies the issue.

7- My response to:
“but do you see that about how you presented your ideas? no i am sure you don’t. because people who feel superior and keep talking about how others don’t have their level of logic and reasoning and evidence …etc etc etc… and are that arrogant… obviously don’t have much self-observation.
but you needn’t mistake that for anger at your ideas. you ideas are very common. (and i don’t mean to say that they are the ‘majority’ or that they have more validity) i mean that they are of the lowest common form…”

is:

I don’t “feel” superior, nor do I in fact “think” I am. Far from it. I’m not using sophisticated logic either (at least I hope I’m not as that would be a surprise to me). My statements about the (oil) wealth available to the Arab countries, the sheer size of their population as compared to Israel, the ineffectiveness with which, in the US, the Arab point of view is presented, the ambiguity in expressing a firm stand against terrorism by some in the Arab world, the continued targeting of civilians by rejectionist groups in the ME,… all these are facts, not opinioins. If the way I said these things was offensive to anyone, let me be the first to apologize, but please don’t let my style be the one thing that gets in the way of a solution.

Finally, I find it quite interesting, and a bit amusing, that AP is treated to a superbly supportive position regarding the existence of Israel and its potential positive role in the ME. I applaud this position. I simply point out the inconsistency in that position and in the failure to unambiguously reject terrorism. I will hasten to add my full recognition of the horrors and the disastrous scope of destruction and suffering that has befallen the Palestinian people and others as well in various parts of the Arab world. I have never diminished it nor considered it to be any less painful than the suffering of innocent Israeli civilians, for examples, or any innocent civilians around the world subjected to terrorism. The key is the indispensable catalyst to a solution. To me, a necessary condition is the elimination of terrorism. By all. If Israel or the US are also committing such acts, let them be unveiled, equally condemned and banned. But terrorism must stop, must be eliminated. The most dangerous person is NOT the one who espouses and commits terrorism. They can be stopped. The most dangerous person is one who allows moral relativism to permit, under certain instances, the use of terrorism. It IS quite simple, really. And, if this is the kind of language or message that makes me hated, then FINE! The hater in this case is making full disclosure, as I have. It’s a good starting point!

March 17th, 2008, 1:40 pm

 

Norman said:

This is a good one,

——————————————————————————–

Olmert: Israel wants talks with Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, addressing a joint German – Israeli cabinet session, on Monday said that Israel is interested in talking with Syria, talks which he said will lead Damascus to break with the “Axis of Evil.”

The session marked the first time cabinets from Germany and Israel have met for joint consultations, and the first time the German government held a joint cabinet session with a country outside Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Olmert chaired this historic joint session.

According to Olmert, Israel has no interest in confrontation on its northern border with Lebanon. As for the Gaza Strip, Olmert said, according to Haaretz, “The government must do everything in order to defend its citizens, and it will do so.” “At the same time,” added Olmert, “it will act to advance the peace process. Negotiations are not a default option for us, we are conducting them because we believe that there is a chance to reach an agreement.”

© 2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

March 17th, 2008, 2:08 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I guess I’ll address you since Zenobia banned me from responding directly…

TOPOV,

This whole issue of being a “go-between” is exciting.

Perhaps it involves gobs of frequent flyer miles and some interesting destinations (all-expenses-paid incl. 4/5 star hotels).

I will do whatever is needed to advance peace despite the lack of formal recognition.

I’m sure Zenobia (is this name a medical or psychological condition?) didn’t mean half of what he has said, and only came off hostile due to the sheer volume of Zionist crimes. Something like that.

Zenobia,

Please let me know what the next step is? Did you want to have another Arab League meeting? Did we want to invite any resistance groups?

March 17th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

ausamaa said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW

Has anyone told you before that -among other things- you can be very very very boring! Robotic, repetitive, and a cut-and-paste sort of writer.

If someone had, believe them. If not yet, please, please, please CONSIDER the though.

And beleive me, you come across as over entusiastic new junior staffer in the PR section of any Israeli Embassy in an Eastern Eropean country who talks a lot but says nothing of value to people who are not interested in hearing a broken record once again.

Dont take it personal. Well, unless you insist of course….its a free world -outside the areas where you condider to be under the Devine jursidiction of Bush & Co. and the chamions ofv State Terrorism-. OIl, OIl, OIL, Israel and Spread of Democracy!!! You tell us, well that is an addition to our narrow prespectives and humble knowledge. You have really enriched the discussion since you arrived. Or so you think maybe. But again, do us and your self a favor: Do not beleive it.

Cheers

March 17th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Thanks Ausamaa, I’d try to be less boring in responding to you if I could only undertand what you’re saying; but then again, I think I had figured you out, along with Simohurtta, right from the start. I wish you well.

AP,

I should have known this will come at a price. Careful, lest you get accused of being a money hog and then the accusation acquires an antisemitic undertone. I can just hear the rumblings of someone on this blog getting ready to post something along those lines. But I have to take my hat (tarboush?) off to you. The explanations that came to your from Zenobia are indeed superbly positive. All I managed to do is get yelled at.

March 17th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar,
i can’t believe that both you and I have been writing on this blog for several YEARS now.. and you haven’t noticed that I am a SHE and not a HE???
shows how much you actually pay attention to anyone else but yourself…
and that is actually my name, thanks.. so look it up if you don’t know what it means… i thought you were such a well informed guy… : )

but no thanks I DID NOT ASK FOR A GO BETWEEN.

in fact, TOPOV, i said NOT to talk to me or ABOUT ME EITHER!…
but you can’t seem to shut up about it! and you can’t seem to not continue to misquote me out of context or paraphrase in the way that YOU hear it… which i really don’t like. just to point out one: I did not say that i find “terror” “justifiable”.
I find it understandable. Which in case you can’t see the distinction…is different.
“Zenobia, it seems to me, finds it justifiable because the perpetrators, and I’m paraphrasing, have no other recourse.
and this is what i did say,

“No, you don’t convince me
and i won’t be convinced by you. Because this isn’t a debate about logic.
this is debate about Values.
and i don’t share your values. Period.
I don’t think these acts that you list under the title of terror are any more morally reprehensible than most other so called legitimate acts of war or violence. so, we don’t agree.
the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal.. when you don’t have access to an army or a formal mode of war..you will use guerrilla war or whatever you have.
but their desires and motivations are no less important or rational than all the ’states’ and entities with formal means of committing aggression.”

So, from this you may CORRECTLY conclude,that I find the acts of the people you call ‘terrorist’ not justifiable not acceptable.. but the PEOPLE.. (yes, terrorists are actually people)…. no less or more moral than all other aggressors. YES, i AM subscribing to moral equivalence – so you can quote me on that. I provided the the last part about their motivations and the explanation… just to say why i find such violence morally (or immorally as the case may be) equivalent. That is not the same as saying that I support it or excuse it.

But you can also just stop saying that i am even using the word terrorist… as mine. YOU are using this word..I actually don’t even believe in the word. I would eliminate this word from all debate. Ban it. I do not accept your definition because the word has become so over used and its use is the point now… Its purpose is as a word to be thrown upon someone or thing , not its actual definition. It has become a weapon itself.

That is Simohurtta’s point… which you reject. His hilarious dictionary is illustrating how language becomes the means to an objective of justifying violence for some people while condemning it for others. It is about hypocrisy again.
I.E. if you call someone a ‘soldier’- you can’t do certain things to him… and he has legitimacy. If he is defined as an ‘insurgent’ then those barriers are gone and the guy has no legitimacy, …suddenly he is a ‘terrorist’…
if someone is a prisoner… he has rights. but if he is now.. a ‘detainee’…well no rights, sorry.

SO THE POINT WAS ABOUT LANGUAGE. And i still hold my own stand on this. YOU are making your definitions right from the start and defining the debate from your language definitions and from your world view with all its unstated assumptions built into it.
and then…we are not even in the same universe to even have a conversation. And visa versa, I am thinking from terms and a perspective that you also cannot engage with.
this a situation that i am not blaming you for.. it is the reality of this conversation.
We are discovering the difference in our whole value system and frame of reference.

however, i resent the way that you have several times… alluded to how you remain unconvinced and unpersuaded… and therefore.. state or imply that somehow.. those you are debating with must not be convincing enough!..that our logic must be flawed or our arguments unsound.. simply because you aren’t persuaded.
this is false.
actually neither of us will be persuaded…because we cannot change our values or frames of reference… through this type of engagement. Period. and no matter whether the other person uses perfect logic and keeps redefining their terms.. if the other doesn’t change their definitions to match… there will be no change in perspective.
thats it.
There are deep assumptions at stake here… and this kind of pure verbal (not even in person) form of debate does not lend itself to any shift on that level. That is my supreme belief from having been reading and writing here for a long while now.

I just wish you would stop implying that this gulf in perspective is the result of flawed ‘thinking’, as in logic or techniques of persuasion.. or lack of data. Everybody here has plenty of that.

just so you know,,,, nobody here needs your instructions about how to read the comments and figure out for themselves what they think about them…

March 17th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Why being so stingy with your wisdome? Why single out AP to recieve your precious bits of advice. And I love the subtility/transparency/warning of your advice to AP: If all Fails, try to go at them with the usual anti-semitic stuff. Ha, ha, ha……….

I told you, people got tired of listening to the good ol’ broken record.

March 17th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia,

I’m sorry for having incorrectly paraphrased your position on terrorism. Your explanation is very clear: moral (or immoral) equivalence. Thank you for clarifying.
I also accept your advice for the possibly unnecessary clarifications and comparisons. Finally, I also agree that a verbal exchange here is unlikely to be a solution. I will therefore stop, having expressed as best I could what constitutes “The Other Point of View.”

I thank you again for engaging.

March 17th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Thanks Ausamaa, I’d try to be less boring in responding to you if I could only undertand what you’re saying; but then again, I think I had figured you out, along with Simohurtta, right from the start. I wish you well.

Well TheOtherPointOfVieW you are fast in your conclusions. I criticized your previous “war is peace” comments and referred a list of terms. The list was not done by me.

I consider it is extreme hypocrisy to manage to speak about democracy and USA’s “right” to (other peoples) OIL-OIL-OIL in a same “chapter”. A person who speaks like that doesn’t have the faintest clue what in reality democracy means. Actually if Iraqis want to produce oil via a governmental company, not US companies, it is called democracy. By the way 90 percent of the world’s oil drilling is controlled by state owned companies. If Iraqis want to sell their oil to Chine who pay with hard currency and not to US who pays with “soft dollars” that is called capitalism and free trade. 🙂

I am always extremely amused how you pro-Bush / Israeli supporters manage to turn yourself as victims in a debate where you can’t any more give good answers. In the end you always take out the anti-Semitism card and in “desperate” situations the Holocaust. In your view it is allowed to speak about

* bad Iranians and Arabs nukes, but not about the Israeli nukes
* the security needs of the “weak” Israelis, but not about the others security needs despite Israel has been the aggressor in most (numerous) cases
* the religious extremisms in Muslim countries, but not about the ever growing religious extremism in Israel (and in USA)
* democracy needs in Arab countries, but not about the serious problems in religious apartheid “democracy” called Israel
* the terrorism by Palestinians and Hizbollah, but not about the terrorism by Israelis before independence and later on the occupied areas
* about “good” US foreign policy, but not about the contradiction between speeches and action on the field
ETC

I see that it is mildly said hypocritical. Israel and USA are the “victims” in Middle East as little as for example China and Chinese in Tibet. Israel is a reality. But the only thing that in the end is a real danger for Israel (and for USA), is only Israel itself. How it behaves and what it has became. If you kick your neighbour’s but you also have to be ready for resistance. If you have nukes and other “political” weapons, it is only natural that the neighbour also wants them to neutralize the threat.

March 18th, 2008, 8:07 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia said:

Akbar,
i can’t believe that both you and I have been writing on this blog for several YEARS now.. and you haven’t noticed that I am a SHE and not a HE???
shows how much you actually pay attention to anyone else but yourself…
and that is actually my name, thanks.. so look it up if you don’t know what it means… i thought you were such a well informed guy… : )

Apologies Zenobia. I’m a busy Zionist supporter, and I sometimes fail to “read between the lines”.

but no thanks I DID NOT ASK FOR A GO BETWEEN.

I know, I was joking.

this is debate about Values. and i don’t share your values. Period.

OK.

I don’t think these acts that you list under the title of terror are any more morally reprehensible than most other so called legitimate acts of war or violence. so, we don’t agree.

the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal.. when you don’t have access to an army or a formal mode of war..you will use guerrilla war or whatever you have.

I could go on for pages in response to this, but I don’t have the time.

So, from this you may CORRECTLY conclude,that I find the acts of the people you call ‘terrorist’ not justifiable not acceptable.. but the PEOPLE.. (yes, terrorists are actually people)…. no less or more moral than all other aggressors. YES, i AM subscribing to moral equivalence – so you can quote me on that. I provided the the last part about their motivations and the explanation… just to say why i find such violence morally (or immorally as the case may be) equivalent. That is not the same as saying that I support it or excuse it.

Zenobia,

I am sorry about the Palestinian people and what they have suffered, but at what point will the terror stop? Have you asked any Palestinians about this? Will it stop once an agreement is reached? If Arafat accepted the Camp David proposals would the conflict really end, or would Hamas continue jihad? If Hamas were continue shelling Israeli towns after an agreement was signed, would you then consider it “terrorism”?

But you can also just stop saying that i am even using the word terrorist… as mine. YOU are using this word..I actually don’t even believe in the word. I would eliminate this word from all debate. Ban it. I do not accept your definition because the word has become so over used and its use is the point now… Its purpose is as a word to be thrown upon someone or thing , not its actual definition. It has become a weapon itself.

I hear you, but I don’t agree with you. At some point there is warranted self-defense, and at some point there is unwarranted murder/terrorism. I’m sorry you refuse to see the difference.

That is Simohurtta’s point… which you reject. His hilarious dictionary is illustrating how language becomes the means to an objective of justifying violence for some people while condemning it for others. It is about hypocrisy again.

Dictionaries are used to define words. Words are used to communicate ideas.

We are discovering the difference in our whole value system and frame of reference.

Tell me more about your “value system”. Let’s see, the Palestinians can do whatever they want because they are “oppressed”. Conversely, whatever the Israelis do in self-defense is illegal because they “stole” arab land. Am I close?

actually neither of us will be persuaded…because we cannot change our values or frames of reference… through this type of engagement. Period.

You’re probably right.

just so you know,,,, nobody here needs your instructions about how to read the comments and figure out for themselves what they think about them…

I never tell people what to say or think, I usually:

a.) Counter “factual” information with opposing facts

b.) Ask questions or play “devil’s advocate” in order to show discrepancies/inconsistencies in thinking.

AP

March 18th, 2008, 11:23 am

 

Zenobia said:

hi Akbar,
actually that whole second part was directed at TOPOV not you; i wasn’t saying that you instructed anyone. but fine.

anyhow, i am wore out now with this difficult subject for now.

suffice it to say, it doesn’t matter whether i refuse to use the word terrorism or not in terms of what i think of Hamas shelling Sderot etc.
i reject the word because its use tends to prevent or preclude any reflection on what is behind such action, what are the motivations.. on a large scale, what is the history of it… the definition holds only a description of the action or tactic… and the motivation of creating this thing call ‘terror’ or fear… but nothing else. So, it functions to shut any further analysis down.

but I oppose Hamas shelling anybody now and later and regardless of anything that happens or does not happen. I oppose it on moral grounds and I oppose it on pragmatic grounds…it surely doesn’t accomplish anything that they hope it will accomplish.

As for my discussion Values. I would prefer I could come up with a better word. Unfortunately that one is also overused and sort of smacks of the idea of one person having correct values and another not having values or bad values. That is not what i want to say at all.
I am not talking in the terms or on the level of your example at all.
I am talking about frames of reference on a large scale. so, really about how we each approach a perception of the world landscape and the actors in it. For example a view of human nature. Some people believe in good and evil. Others don’t. Some believe the world is a dangerous place, and that all geo-politics and foreign policy etc… is primarily about protection and controlling danger. others reject this assumption. We begin from a point of view that the world in not a dangerous place. Or that it is made up of individuals who actually have universal and common needs and are equally rational at bottom despite what happens in terms of how they go about attempting to achieve those needs.

Another big example is sort of similar to analysis done by the linguist George Lakoff (his book “don’t think of an elephant” is about progressive values and framing the debate in american politics) in which he contrasts ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ values in america.
Within this example, conservatives tend to have a paternalistic view of the world. therefore, on any scale you can find this strict father model of approach to social issues and politic.
an example is the idea that because America is strong and successful in so many ways… therefore, it has “a responsibility” to dictate (paternalistically) to manage other countries affairs or intervene in world problems as it sees fit.
A paternalistic frame of reference tends to mean that one believes in punishment or in control by an authority.. whether that is a father in a family, or the government in nation, or a world power over the world.

A non paternalistic view… is perhaps you could say, more maternal.
I am not sure if i want to say that. But it assumes that people don’t need to be controlled through punishment or that they are not primarily motivated by the fear of authority (eg. they will be self-destructive if it meets their needs and even if they will be punished). It may privilege the idea that by feeding (a maternal function) the good in people.. you will influence their ability to be more civil. However, as you can see – this view assumes that everybody is good at bottom….

anyway, this all may sound wayyy out there.. from what you supposed I am talking about. But.. the point is…that one’s political and social views are extensions or are derived out of their underlying deep assumptions about humanity and how human systems. It will influence how you view human motivation and what rights people and governments have. Every situation we evaluate is different, obviously, has its own nuances. But I think we can see how we each begin our analysis with these expectations and assumptions and move from there.

March 18th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Just to bring it back to the idea that we are on a blog about Syria.

the paternalistic ‘strict father’ model… dictates that if we twist Syria’s arm hard enough and for long enough.. and this also assumes that the nation with more power and authority has a right to do this…. she will eventually submit to that punishment.. and behave the way… the paternalistic nation wants her to.

however, my own view of human nature rejects this entire model. In my view, this will never work. Even if you get submission through punishment and fear of potential violence or by rejections and sanction… it will be momentary. Eventually you just get payback and retaliation to the authority. And as well, any change effected will be superficial instead of being created organically and internally to the society.

I believe that by supporting and feeding what positive aspects of the country and its people have going for it… we will foster growth of the sort we want. And I think the Syrian people have to learn for themselves and decide for themselves what they want their lives and society and governing to be… nobody can dictate it or force it upon them.

March 18th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

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