Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments, but Press Doen’t Publish Except on Blogs

[Landis Comment] The ADC got a quite apology from Rahm Emanuel in a phone call, but he declined to meet with them until an undetermined “appropriate time in the future.” No time could be more appropriate than now, when the new administration is reaching out and the wound is fresh.

Rather inexplicable, the main stream press is soft balling Emanuel’s first big text. None are carrying it even on an inside page. It is relegated to the blogs. A sad commentary on the position of Arabs in American society. One can take comfort in Emanuel’s apology to Mary Rose Oakar.

Emanuel Calls ADC to Repudiate Negative Comments About Arabs

Washington, DC | November 13, 2008 | www.adc.org | Today, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, recently appointed White House Chief of Staff to President-Elect Barack Obama, called American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) President Mary Rose Oakar to repudiate negative comments about Arabs made by his father Benjamin Emanuel .

In the phone call, Congressman Emanuel said, “From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and me. These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family.” During the phone call, Emanuel added, it is unacceptable to make remarks such as these against any ethnic or religious group.

ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, “We cannot allow Arabs and Muslims to be portrayed in these unacceptable terms. I welcome Rahm’s apology and his pledge to meet with our Community. I also thank our members and friends who responded who expressed concern about this matter. ”
MEDIA COVERAGE:

NEW YORK TIMES political blog (not paper): Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments
November 13, 2008, 3:47 pm

Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments, By Sarah Wheaton

Representative Rahm Emanuel, President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called the president of an Arab-American group today to apologize for comments his father made to an Israeli newspaper.

In the remarks, Benjamin Emanuel discussed the potential impact of his son’s new position on U.S.-Israeli relations.

“Obviously he’ll influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House,” the elder Mr. Emanuel told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv, according to English-language reports in The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Calling the comment an “unacceptable smear,” the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee had sent the younger Emanuel a letter (copied to Mr. Obama) calling on him to “disavow and repudiate these remarks publicly.”

“All we ask is to be treated in the same way as any other ethnic, racial or minority group,” said Kareem Shora, the A.D.C.’s executive director. “We’re not treating it as simply an Arab-American issue, we’re trying to treat it as an American issue.”

That led to Rahm Emanuel’s apology today.

“Today, Representative Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, apologized on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future,” said Nick Papas, a spokesman for the congressman.

Before Mr. Emanuel made his apology, Mr. Shora said the structure of the elder Mr. Emanuel’s remarks made their meaning clear. “The sequence of the statement was very important,” he said, adding that the ‘Arab’ line “was not separated in any way” from the ‘mopping’ line. He said there would be public outcry if “Arab” had been replaced with the name of any other ethnic group.

Benjamin Emanuel is not yet available for comment, according to an associate at the office of Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent and the congressman’s brother, to whom a message on the father’s answering machine referred press calls. Mr. Obama’s campaign declined to address the issue.

TIME: (blog) RAHM EMANUEL’S FATHER PROBLEM

ABC NEWS: AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE ASKS RAHM TO REPUDIATE HIS DAD’S COMMENTS

JEWISH TELEGRAPH AGENCY: ARAB-AMERICAN GROUP BLASTS EMANUEL’S DAD

Comments (104)


norman said:

The print news is not out for Thursday news , we have to wait till the morning , Is that the case?.

November 14th, 2008, 3:31 am

 

shaza said:

I expected that the newspapers will ignore this issue. Why don’t we start using the emotive phrases that the Zionists have used to good effect to win sympathy like describing what Emanuel’s father said as being anti-semetic? Aren’t Arabs and Jews both semetic?
I think that this whole thing against Arabs should be called the ‘new anti-semitism’ and let’s see then what impact this expression will have.

What surprises me the most is that the same people who suffered so much from discrimination and persecution are capable of inflicting the same suffering that they have endured against other people, instead of rising above one of the lowest and most uncivilized of human emotions like hate.

November 14th, 2008, 4:00 am

 

norman said:

The children of abusing parents grow up to abuse their children, Most the time.

November 14th, 2008, 4:09 am

 

Off The Wall said:

Dear Joshua

The comments made by the elderly Emanuel were wrong, and I believe we have our appology now. While from an emotional point of view, we may want the whole story to be very publicized and the appology and its cause be printed in bold letter on every single newspaper in the country, the question will remain, does his point of view represent a prevalent view among our Jewish countrymen and women. I would like to believe that it is not, and the evidence I have for that is the warmth of feelings many of us on this site have expressed about their own personal experiences with Jewish friends, advisors and colleagues. Given that, a new question beggs itself, do we want to start an unncessary rift bewteen Arab Americans and Jewish Americans? I would argue that our joint struggle against ignorance in this country is more important and that Jewish Americans are bound to be our allys in exposing anti arab racism in this country, which is much more prevalent among certain groups as we witnessed during the election than among Jewish Americans. I say, Emanuel senior story is over.

I believe that if and when peace is to be realized, Arab and Jewish Americans will play a significant role in the rebuilding of a Middle East with a brighter future. Let us work towards that. A first step would be not to make a big issue of a stupid comment utterred by a proud emotional father. We were rightfully angry, we got our appology, both Rahm and Obama know that we are not to be dismissed, and whether it is printed everywhere or not, those who need to know about it, do for sure.

November 14th, 2008, 5:34 am

 

AIG said:

For once we agree Norman. That is why Bashar turned out like his father.

The Zionist project started way before the Holocaust. Do me a favor and read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre

These Jews were living for centuries in Hebron. They were Arab Jews. Until 1929, it was an excellent example of Arabs and Jews living next to each other. It was not the holocaust that created mistrust between Jews and Arabs or changed the ways Jews view Arabs. It was things like the Hebron massacre of 1929 in which the Arabs expelled the Jews from their communities after murdering some of them. So don’t look for the easy answers and the cheap psychology. Address the full historical facts. Learn the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and then make your cheap accusations. Your one sided rantings are just a show of ignorance. There are no saints in the Arab-Israeli conflict, only a tragedy of two peoples fighting for the same piece of land.

As for the Rahm Emanuel story. Let me remind all the readers that it was brought to light by ISRAELI newspapers. I didn’t see anybody thanking them here.

November 14th, 2008, 5:46 am

 

Joshua said:

Dear Off the Wall,
I will go with your optimism. It is easy to become cynical. All the same, it is hard not to believe that if Rahm were the type of partner you suggest, he would be happy to make a point of meeting with Arabs and reasuring them. After all, what does it really cost him? It would be an oportunity to embrace the sort of partnership and common cause against the ignorance you speak off. It would be a sign to WASPS, Arabs, and fellow Jews that the new administration is new and can be gracious in victory.

Best, Joshua

November 14th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Joshua

Thanks for your response. I agree wholeheartedly with your comment regarding the meeting with ADC We also must be pragmatic. Scott Mcleland puts it right when he said, we now live in permanent campaign, and the last thing a president elect wants is a stormy session between someone on his team known for being a devout zionist and a group of Arab Americans. If i was on his transition team, and from purely political perspective, I would have advised him against allowing Rahm to attend such a meeting as well as against any meeting with AIPAC or JSTREET. My argument would be that a policy on the ME has not yet been formulated fully, and the ADC, AIPAC, or JSTREET participants may try to push for policy statements. This is a lose lose situation. I am hopeful that there will be a time for the meeting and would definitely be vocal, in my own little way, if it does not happen within a reasonable time, the appology itself took a long time to come.

That said, i think it is possible that my judgement on this issue is clouded by my own happiness of the end of the Bush Era and the arrival of the Obama presidency. It is possible that I am simply giving Obama more leeway out of my hope.

November 14th, 2008, 6:44 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Let’s see the ADC, AAI, and whatever else the Arab-Americans can muster in the way of a lobby try to make lemonade out of lemons.

Another far more motivated and organized special interest group would have pounced on a gaffe like this and spun it into a superb opening gambit. The Arabs, alas, muddled around and aww shucks’ed the newsmaker away.

Sometimes I really wonder if the pro-Israel lobby throws bones like this one to the Arabs just to stiffen the competition and make the game a little bit more interesting. They are so dominant it’s just boring.

November 14th, 2008, 7:03 am

 

George Ajjan said:

Yet another example of the unwise (not to mention appallingly undignified) approach of demonstrating slavish approval of Democrat leaders on behalf of the Arab-American community.

November 14th, 2008, 7:14 am

 

Off the Wall said:

QN

Motivation takes money to implement, our rich are yet to open up their wallets. Do we have a registry of Arab Americans, with their emails, how many of us get the ADC email alerts. Because of my name, which is not even remotely Persian, I get frequent emails from Iranian action groups without having subscribed to any of these groups or even visiting any of their websites. How many people get ADC or AAI literature. How much literature beyond a single website, that goes stale between events. I am not saying that ADC is not doing a good job. Given our “philanthropy”, ADC is doing miracles with the budget they probably have. Not everyone is an activist, but most people can be active if they are asked to do something. Many of my friends were surprised when I told them of ADC. They have never heard of it and if they did, it did not stick in their memory, and this is the largest grass root Arab American group. AAI is even less well known than ADC. When I told my friends about the letter to Keith Olberman, many asked me to email it to them so that they can do the same. I am not sure how many did, But i believe at least half of them did so. Arab Americans are hungry to be active. We just need better mobilization.

My comments may seem inconsistent. On the one hand, I ask that the Emanuel story be dropped, at least for now, and on the other hand i ask for better activism to have a bigger impact if similar stories occur. This is the narrative of many of us here, a mixture of disappointment and hope.

George
I am an indpendent liberal lefty. But I have voted for a couple of republicans in my short stint since I got my American Citizenship. My local votes and vote on initiatives, are even more confusing. 🙂

November 14th, 2008, 8:20 am

 

Rumyal said:

OTW,

A combined American Arab/Jewish group of moderates for peace could be a great mechanism for showing the way to the people in the ME and for presenting the new government in the US with more sane alternatives to those pursued by the vociferous evangelicals, AIPAC, etc.

Check this out:

http://www.prospectsforpeace.com/2007/06/new_poll_of_arab_and_jewish_am.html

November 14th, 2008, 8:21 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

OTW

I’m a member of the ADC, and a close friend of mine was the executive director of the Boston branch for a few years. I heard first-hand from her about what a comedy of errors it was. Stupid personality conflicts, unavailability of funds, ila akhirihi.

Part of the problem is messaging. Lebanese Americans (mainly Christian) who emigrated prior and during the Civil War still have hang-ups about being identified as “Arabs” and are still bitter towards the Palestinians, and so they avoid the group. The richer Gulfi Arabs tend not to be activists. As usual, we are divided, even in the diaspora.

I personally think AAI is a much more polished and effective organization. It is small, to be sure, but in my opinion it has much more potential.

November 14th, 2008, 8:27 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

An Egyptian Offensive?
Abdullah Iskandar
Al-Hayat
12/11/08

There is an evident Egyptian-Iranian contradiction in approaching the issues of the Gulf and Middle East. Cairo has been occasionally criticized for not countering, in an open and quick move, the Iranian diplomatic offensive in the region and for allowing it to achieve its objectives or forge alliances with entities in the region. These criticisms went as far as casting doubts on the Egyptian role in the region, especially after the phase of retreat that followed the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty which severed Arab ties with Cairo under President Anwar Sadat.

While Egypt’s diplomacy under President Hosni Mubarak never gave up on the treaty and its objectives, the country still managed to re-establish the broken ties with Arabs, partly as a result of the policy of cold peace, and partly as a result of the Arab need for the Egyptian role. This approach reached its peak during the Second Gulf War and the Arab agreement to join hands with the American and international forces to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s invasion. Crowned with the so-called tripartite axis that included Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria, this participation was politically manifested by the Madrid peace conference, the land for peace formula, and the Taef Accord to end war in Lebanon.

This axis, however, was dealt a severe blow that shook it with the American invasion of Iraq, the rise of the radical conservatives to power in Iran, and the stalling peace process between Arabs and Israel. Consequently, the Syrian partner sided with the Iranian offensive at the expense of the foundations upon which the tripartite axis was built. This set the ground for a period of turbulence in the region based on the clash between Iran’s approach to its issues and the Arab interests involved in those issues. The Iranian offensive has achieved a number of significant breakthroughs in the Arab core, in Iraq and the Gulf, in Lebanon, on the Palestinian level and all the way to the Nile.

All these constitute a threat to Egypt’s interests and to its political strategy in the region, not to mention the threat to its prestige and its role which is considered as its strategic depth.

Today we witness a remarkable Egyptian move toward the heated issues of the region. We hear a louder Egyptian voice with new proposals advanced to deal with crises. The most expressive effort in this respect includes the attitudes and moves concerning the Lebanese question, the Palestinian reconciliation and the Sudanese crisis. The most prominent trait in these initiatives is that Cairo has a point of view on resolving these issues. In other words, it holds an opinion on the solutions that will promote stability and help it achieve its political strategy through dialogue with the parties directly involved – not only through the attempt to seek unviable reconciliations.

This was manifested through the visit by General Omar al-Qanawi, an Egyptian security official, to Lebanon as the Arab reconciliation plan represented by the Doha Accord took off. It became evident from Qanawi’s discussions with officials and political sides that Egypt will not take a neutral stand if this settlement was threatened. This attitude was crowned by Mubarak’s reception of President Michel Suleiman in Cairo and his offering all available Egyptian political and material support to ensure the success of the political reconciliation in Lebanon away from any foreign intervention.

On the Palestinian front, Cairo did not only host the dialogue among the conflicting factions, but also prepared a paper that reflects a clear vision for the reconciliation within a strategy that reinforces the position of the Palestinian Authority and an approach for a peaceful resolution with Israel on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and whatever has been accomplished on the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations track. Armed with a point of view, Egypt has sought reconciliation and refused to back off simply to ensure that Palestinian meetings are held on its territories, even if this meant postponing the dialogue. This is indeed what happened when Hamas insisted that its strategy – based on the Iranian diplomatic assault – be the foundation of dialogue.

Then came the “historic visit” by President Mubarak to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, following talks with President Omar al-Bashir in Cairo, to further reinforce Egypt’s regained influence in its Sudanese strategic depth and its willingness to persuade Khartoum to make unity an appealing element for the South while convincing the southerners that their interests and the interests of stability and development lie in a united Sudan.

Does this new Egyptian political move indicate that Cairo has shifted from observing developments and offering subtle advice to taking initiative and perhaps even launching a diplomatic assault?

November 14th, 2008, 8:27 am

 

Off the Wall said:

BTW
If any one is to meet with the ADC it should be Obama himself or those on his transition team in charge of selecting secretary of state and atturney general.

November 14th, 2008, 8:29 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Rumyal
Excellent idea, sign me up. I was looking into JSTREET web site and I like the list of candidates they supported. But I do not know if JSTREET has the potential of being such a group. So far, it is more geered toward moderate Jewish Americans. But it is a good step towards reclaiming their voice.

QN
I agree that AAI is more polished, and it has more of a think tank approach. But I was not aware that it is the more effective of the two. Thanks for the insider info

November 14th, 2008, 8:47 am

 

offended said:

An Israeli spoke ill of Arabs, now his son had apologized (whether the apology is fairly reported and carried in newspapers is another subject), and he reassured an Arab American organization that he wasn’t brought up on such values or ideas that might have stirred the father to speak those comments.

Fine.

I’d like to see us Arab doing the same; when an Arab speaks ill of Jews or bring up some anti-Semitic or racist remarks; we should distance ourselves from him/her. At least the moderates of us should do that.

I’d seriously like to know, is it OK for some of the imams and the sermonizers to denounce Jews at any given opportunity? sometimes even calling them the grandsons of pigs and monkey? (I know those are the minority, but they do it alright)

Isn’t time we should ask for this farce to stop?

November 14th, 2008, 10:46 am

 

Refined Ostrich said:

Offended,

I am personally shocked and outraged by this latest comment of yours, which equates the virulent racism of the Zionist entity’s functionaries with the occasional vituperative transgressions of Arab imams. Have you forgotten that in the face of “Israel”, we must not be distracted by the shortcomings of our own societies, but keep our eyes trained on the Great Satan?

I am deeply disappointed in you my friend.

And I’m sure that AIG and AP will be very glad to hear that you have been co-opted by their insidious schemes, and have joined the ranks of other self-hating Arabs like Saghir and Qifa Nabki.

November 14th, 2008, 11:01 am

 

Alia said:

Offended,

You are making a point, but I do not see the 2 matters as equivalent, for various well-known reasons and for the most important one which is that anti-Arab comments, propaganda, etc…are GRATUITOUS, they have been fueled by Israel’s frustration in completing its project of simply taking over a land, kicking out its people and enjoying life, expanding here and there whenever it wishes and providing the U.S. with the strong ally that it had hoped for.

I view the Islamic/Arabic negative discourse -in our day and age- as REACTIVE to the situation in Palestine and to the unilateral aggressive policy of both Israel and the U.S. adminsitration. Afghanistan and Iraq are much more than the “collective punishment” that Israeli’s are always yelling about if you even dare to mention Divestment. So terrorists attacked the U.S. go after them for God’s sake …instead of destroying countries and creating more hatred and resentment.

If we are going to perform self-critique then it has to be realistic- just the fact that Emmanuel has distanced himself by phone from his father’s comment after almsot a week of silence should make us look at ourselves with loathing ? You have to give the people some substantive relief and this was no relief, it was a miniscule episode which will repeat itself ad lib, with us sitting around wondering what else is coming our way.

Mr. Obama knows exactly how things are with us. When he campaigned for the Senate in Illinois in 2002, he pronouced himself against a War in Iraq, and detailed its possible ramifications, including the Shia/Sunni divide…this is a matter of public record and this was at a time when Bush’s public approval ratings were running at 67%. We cannot say as we said about the Bush administration “they are clueless, they are greedy”. If Mr. Obama fails to address this appropriately, then he is fully responsible for the consequences and all his speeches will be worthless.

Tony Blair wrote an opinion for the HT, although I am not a fan of his or of KSA…I thought it had a couple of thoughts worth pondering.

And yes I agree with the Ostrich ( why this name? ;)as long as we continue suffering the presence of AIG and Co we cannot afford any open dialogue here about our ailments- unless we systmatically stop reading and answering anything they say.

http://tiny.cc/aXFyw

November 14th, 2008, 11:41 am

 

Leila Abu-Saba said:

George Ajjan, friend,

While it’s unwise to demonstrate slavish approval to any party, I am sorry but the Republicans have offered Arab-Americans no better than a kick in the teeth. Many of my Lebanese-American relatives voted for Bush II not just in 2000 but also in 2004, hoping that he would bring peace and justice to the Middle East. Instead he brought death and destruction. Iraq, exhibit A. Palestine – the Israelis run amok and Bush II cheers them on. How about Lebanon 2006? Hizbullah was strengthened by Israel’s intemperate bombing; meanwhile Lebanon and the Lebanese suffered. “Birth pangs of a new Middle East,” crowed Condi, as the carpenters measured coffins by the dozen for the children of South Lebanon.

And while I have no idea if Sami al-Arian really is as innocent as he claims, or as guilty as the government claims, I do know that he lobbied hard for George W. Bush, and went to the White House to meet him. If he is indeed innocent (and the government’s case has not been very sturdy) then the Republicans betrayed him absolutely.

George, you represent the sort of Republican I understand and respect. I hope for the sake of the two party system that you and others like you stay in the GOP, just so that the Palins and Huckabees don’t rule completely. But until reasonable, intelligent Republicans get some traction inside the GOP, you won’t find the rest of us very attracted to your party.

Good luck, George, and I mean that sincerely as an American citizen who cares about good governance.

November 14th, 2008, 11:49 am

 

annie said:

I still maintain that the racist remark having been made by Emanuel’s father, it was up to his father to apologize.

November 14th, 2008, 12:18 pm

 

norman said:

Olmert wants direct talks with Syria by January: newspaper
By eNews 2.0 Staff
13:05, November 14th 2008 1 vote
Vote this article

Israeli caretaker prime minister Ehud Olmert wants to start direct negotiations with Syria by January, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Olmert wants to upgrade the talks despite internal criticism by members of both the opposition and coalition, who say he lacks the legitimacy to negotiate during his final months in office.

The Israeli leader resigned in September to fight corruption allegations and heads a transitional cabinet, which will be in power until a new government is formed after February 10.

Hosting EU ambassadors for lunch at a Tel Aviv hotel Thursday, Olmert said he would continue his attempts to advance the negotiations with both the Palestinians and Syria, Yediot Ahronot reported.

He said Israeli and Syrian representatives would hold a new round of indirect talks in Turkey in the coming days. He told the ambassadors that in his estimation the sides could move from indirect to direct talks already by January, the daily said. Syria has thus far repeatedly rejected direct talks.

Olmert also said he was to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.

The hardline opposition Likud party has tried to block his efforts to continue or step up any peace negotiations by proposing a law making it illegal for transitional governments to offer binding concessions, and even by appealing to the supreme court.

But also Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, elected earlier this autumn to replace him as leader of his centrist Kadima party, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, of the coalition Labour Party, have openly protested.

Livni’s aides criticized statements Olmert made to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) earlier this week, saying Israel should withdraw from the occupied Golan Heights and cede parts of Jerusalem. They said the statements embarrassed Livni, who is trying to garner broad support for Kadima from both the centre-left and centre-right ahead of the elections. Livni also gives priority to the talks with the Palestinians over those with Syria.

Vote this article

© 2007 – 2008 – eNews 2.0 All Rights Reserved

round, opposition

November 14th, 2008, 1:23 pm

 

offended said:

Alia, I certainly agree with you. It might sound like I am playing the devil’s advocate here, but I really am not.

The Zionist project in the Middle East is extremely racist and detestable, and it’s been going on for long long time. My point is that the bad conduct of extremist and fanatics amongst us had cost us many sympathizers. And it distracted us from what should be the main goal; justice for the Palestinian people, and the return of occupied lands.

I meet people on a daily basis who think that America’s invasion of Iraq was nothing but a crusade against Muslims. I simply ask them whether the ‘torch of Islam’ in Iraq had dimmed any since the invasion. It’s at that point that I realize how confused and ill-focused our people have become. I am absolutely not justifying the wrong and the illegal invasion of Iraq, but I at the same time don’t see it for more than what it really is; either a strategic fuck-up (for the lack of better word) on the part of Bush, or a long term plan to exploit the Iraqi oil reserves……. (an option which involved a conspiracy theory)…

November 14th, 2008, 2:00 pm

 

offended said:

Refined Ostrich, are you ‘stand up and let’s wail’?

November 14th, 2008, 2:03 pm

 

Refined Ostrich said:

My dear Offended,

Whatever are you talking about?

😉

November 14th, 2008, 2:08 pm

 

offended said:

Is a ‘Refined Ostrich’ less prone to burring its head in the sand? 😉

November 14th, 2008, 2:12 pm

 

Chris said:

Benjamin Emanuel was answering the question of will Rahm influence President-Elect Obama to be pro-Israeli. And so, Emanuel’s father wanted to emphasize the answer of yes, he will be doing an important and influential job (hence not cleaning) and he is of an ethnic group that often sides with Israel, not Arab. Saying all of that is not racist. It may not be PC, to imply that Arabs don’t like Israel, but its not racist.

More importantly, its irrelevant because Rahm Emanuel’s father is not a politician or a leading cultural figure. This is all pretty silly.

November 14th, 2008, 2:33 pm

 

Brad said:

I think this whole affair proves that the Arabs don’t understand a thing about America. It looks like the Arabs would grab on any remark concerning them whether truly insulting or not just to draw attention – something like what kids do before they grow up.

November 14th, 2008, 2:48 pm

 

upyernoz said:

the NYT story you quote here did appear in the print edition of the paper. while “the caucus” is the paper’s blog, every day they publish at least one of their posting as a news story. this morning, the emanuel bit made it into their print edition.

November 14th, 2008, 2:57 pm

 

Chris said:

As Obama has once said this is “phony outrage.”

November 14th, 2008, 3:02 pm

 

Alia said:

Nour and Chris,

This is politic, not logic. The antidefamation league did not get its power from being understanding. It got it through : ” Don’t mess with us…” Have you voiced your opinions on such matters in the same vein to the ADL as well ?.

Obama claimed he undertands the dynamics; his team needs to behave as if they do, and we Arabs need to maintain the :” Do not mess with me” against others. The law of the jungle is very strict and this is a jungle. It would be nice if we could reserve our understanding, caring and supportive attitude for one another for a change.

Dear Offended,

Bush is the past, Obama is the future…When he was in Israel Obama told people that Barack means blessing in Hebrew, and in the U.S. he told a crowd : “Had my father known I would be running for president, he would not have given me “Hussein” as a middle name”. I wrote to him to say that Hussein is really something more than Saddam, even for some of us who are not Muslims… Syrians who know their history know that their Omayad Dynasty was firmly established upon the death of the grandson of the Prophet of Islam : Hussein.
But we cannot claim that the writing was not on the wall.

People nowadays have no historic memory-not for a couple of months even: Former Senator Edwards gave a 45 minute lecture yesterday at IU for 35.000 $….

November 14th, 2008, 3:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Qifa Nabki said:

Let’s see the ADC, AAI, and whatever else the Arab-Americans can muster in the way of a lobby try to make lemonade out of lemons.

Another far more motivated and organized special interest group would have pounced on a gaffe like this and spun it into a superb opening gambit. The Arabs, alas, muddled around and aww shucks’ed the newsmaker away.

Sometimes I really wonder if the pro-Israel lobby throws bones like this one to the Arabs just to stiffen the competition and make the game a little bit more interesting. They are so dominant it’s just boring.

QN –

I find it interesting how you thik “[We] are so dominant”. I don’t feel like it. Some, like yourself, think Jews, Israel and AIPAC are so powerful. We don’t feel this way. I would much rather prefer a billion people and 22 countries to go along with my Jewish heritage.

Do not despair. But, it is interesting how differently we percieve each other in this conflict.

Offended said:

The Zionist project™ in the Middle East is extremely racist and detestable, and it’s been going on for long long time.

Not as racist as the Palestinian project™

November 14th, 2008, 3:10 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended said:

The Zionist project™ in the Middle East is extremely racist and detestable, and it’s been going on for long long time.

______

Really?!? I sense far higher degree of tolerance of people of different ethnic backgrounds in Tel Aviv, than in many European cities. One of there supreme court justices is an Arab, there was an Arab cabinet member in Ariel Sharon’s government. There may be racism in Israel, surely, but I wouldn’t call it “extremely racist” by any stretch of the imagination. It seemed like a fairly tolerant society when I was there. In Syria though, things were a lot different. People love Hitler in Syria.

November 14th, 2008, 3:27 pm

 

AIG said:

Chris,

But you see as Alia explained, the racism in Israel is GRATUITOUS , it comes from nowhere and is completely irrational, while the love Syrians have for Hitler is REACTIVE, it is understandable and rational and is there for good reasons. She is really shameless.

Thank you for sharing your experiences from living in Syria. This blog severley lacks people who are willing to objectively report their experiences there.

November 14th, 2008, 3:43 pm

 

GHASSAN said:

I couldn’t find the website where the diary is posted, but here is a link about it with excerpts from Truman’s diary.

Notice that oppressed when they become in power they start to oppress. Look at the world today and you will find proofs of that. As one of the readers mentioned earlier on this blog, abused childern become abusers!!!

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/7-11-2003-42843.asp

On July 21 Truman used the diary to vent his anger at the former treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, who had sought his intervention on behalf of a ship of Jewish refugees who had been denied entry by Britain to what was then Palestine.

“He’d no business, whatever to call me,” Truman wrote. “The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgment on world affairs.”

In the same entry Truman goes on to say: “The Jews, I find are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes.”

November 14th, 2008, 3:45 pm

 

Stuart said:

The dangers of the double standard – Rahm Emanuel

The comments of soon to be White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel’s father are being lightly (and surprisingly) mildly reported in the press today. Benjamin Emanuel when discussing his son’s appointment with the Israeli Press said ..”Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.” Imagine if this has occurred in the opposite persuasion. Suppose an Arab father of a potential White House Chief of Staff had said ‘ ..he will influence the President to be Pro-Palestine. What is he a Jew?” In the latter case, the press would be crucifying Rahm Emanuel. It would be difficult to believe they would allow his appointment. This is the double standard of debate in the West when it comes to Israel and the Arab world.

The last sentence of Emanuel’ Senior’s quote “..he’s not going to clean the floors of the White House,” is in essence just a purely racial slur. Had Benjamin Emanuel made such a statement in relation to an African-American, the country would have been outraged. However, the fact that he made it in relation to an Arab instead, seems to make it less offensive. We saw how the main stream media treated Obama’s associationwith the radical, William Ayers. Sarah Palinused the infamous quote about Obama ‘…palling around with terrorists.’ However, no such smear has been applied to Benjamin Emanuel. Let us just review a snippet of Emanuel Senior’shistory. Benjamin Emanuel worked in the 1940’s with Irgun, the militant Zionist group that committed acts against Palestinian and British targets that have been widely categorized as terrorism. (In 1938, according to the scholar Avi Shlaim, members of the group attempted to ambush an Arab bus, an attack that failed when a grenade did not detonate. In 1946, members of the group bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people.) Where is the outrage on this? Where are the accusations of character assassination by association? Why is Emanuel Senior less of a terrorist than others who have used violence for political statement. The press, again. remains silence.

Rahm Emanuel is not his father and has apologized for his father’s remarks. The judgment should not be made against Rahm Emanuel but his father should be accused. Benjamin Emanuel has made racist remarks and the fact that they are anti-Arab as opposed to anti-Jewish or anti-Black, does not and should not diminish there offensiveness. The mainstream media also needs to be accused. They are applying a convenient double standard of reporting. The blogosphere is increasingly becoming the home of balanced reporting, and that is because it is filling a void that the press will not. Benjamin Emanuel could be accused of a crime of inciting racial hatred, and at the minimum the press should be hounding the story. The use of a double standard is a dangerous first step in validating such racial dialog. The press needs to fulfill its charter or it becomes irrelevant to a thinking society.

http://www.mydailyclarity.com)

November 14th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

Nour said:

This is a response to AIG from the previous post.

AIG,

The funny thing about your response to Sam’s argument about “Israeli” Arabs is that you never claimed that Arabs are equal in rights to Jews in “Israel.” In other words, you admit that there are no equal rights for all in “Israel,” and thus it should not be classified as a democracy. The rest of your argument is bogus because you are comparing two countries with very different economic levels. This would be equivalent to stating that African Americans under Jim Crow laws did not suffer discrimination because they were much richer on average than black people in Haiti. It’s a nonsensical argument.

Now, with respect to Bashar al-Assad, comparing his rule to our position vis-a-vis Rahm Emanuel is ridiculous. We are merely stating that in the US the same standards should be applied to all groups. Had a relative of an Obama administration member said anything similar about Jews, there would have been an enormous outcry. But somehow, Arab-Americans should just keep quiet when prejudice and racism is directed toward them. What this has to do with Bashar al-Assad’s rule is beyond me. When we judge President Assad we do so taking into perspective the major issues facing the region. No one is saying he is perfect, but your accusations and those of others that he is this ruthless sadistic murdering dictator are simply not consistent with the facts.

Is Syria a dictatorship? Yes, surely it is. Has this form of government led to a lot of woes and miseries for the Syrian people? Absolutely. But the fact of the matter is that, first, the nature of the governments in our region are a direct result of social ailments and diseases that need to be addressed at the core, and second, Bashar al-Assad inherited a dictatorship from his father and so he had to play with the hand he was dealt. Based on what he has done so far, while many criticisms leveled at him are indeed valid, we cannot deny that he has handled the situation well, and Syrians are better off today than they were 10, 15, or 20 years ago. More reforms are coming and you and everyone else will see that if Syria is left alone, it will naturally improve and advance, albeit in a gradual, slow process. However, should outside force or other catalytic intervention be used, the likely outcome is chaos and destruction similar to Iraq that no Syrian wants to go through.

November 14th, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

jad said:

This was your 8th BS comment for today,
(while the love Syrians have for Hitler is REACTIVE)???????????????
I think you mistaken Syrians with Your own Israelis NAZI regime

Alex, is this become AIG personal blog that we have to read his BS comments attacking everybody, on the SYRIAN COMMENTS website, 20 times daily?

November 14th, 2008, 3:55 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

I don’t know when you visited Syria or who you talked to, but finding people who love racist figures and despicable characters is possible in just about every country. To use that to make a blanket characterization of all Syrians is quite arrogant of you.

As for Zionism and “Israel” you seem to miss the fact that the very concept of “Israel” is a racist concept, based on the idea that a particular group of people is entitled to build a country exclusively for themselves on land that is inhabited by others. The racism of Zionism is that it treats people of that land like subhumans and refuses to treat them as equals. Zionism resulted in the creation of the single largest group of refugees simply because members of that group were not the right kind of people. It brought members of a particular group from all over the world to settle on a land inhabited by others and create for themselves a state that is exclusively theirs. Today “Israel” occupies areas that it claims are not part of the state of “Israel” and yet builds settlements in these areas for the exclusive settlement of Jews, who are afforded the rights and protection of the Jewish state while Palestinians living in these areas are driven out and denied any citizenship rights. So please do explain to me how such behavior is not racist in the most extreme sense.

November 14th, 2008, 4:00 pm

 

Alia said:

Hey Chris,

You seem to have a tendency towards generalization and superficial judgments…a Fox news aficionado no doubt. NO, Syrians do not love Hitler. Do you know more Syrians than I do?.

November 14th, 2008, 4:04 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

GHASSAN,

How many Jews asked Truman’s daughter Margaret to apologize for his anti-semitic remarks?

http://www.wymaninstitute.org/letters/2004-02-06-mom.php

November 14th, 2008, 4:05 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,

By law the Arabs have equal rights in Israel, but as a minority they face the problems that all minorties face. Just like women have equal rights in the US but are under-represented in high levels in corporate America and in politics. The US is going to have its first black president, but it has not yet had a woman president even though they are 50% of the population. Equal rights by law does not guarantee equal rights in practice and that is the case with the Arab minority in Israel. We can imporve in that regard in Israel but the inequality is much much smaller than you believe.

If Asad has handled the situation well, would you not say that Israel has handled the situation exceptionally well? In 1948, Syria and Israel were equal economically. Now the average Israeli is 7-8 times richer than the average Syrian, is better educated and has much more rights. Israel shares the same “social ailments and diseases that need to be addressed at the core”. So why are you praising Bashar and being critical of Israel??? Israel has done much better than Syria in the same cultural and geopolitical context. In my opinion you are being to lax on Bashar and not willing to admit he is a failure.

November 14th, 2008, 4:06 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,
So the very concept of Americanism is racist because it “based on the idea that a particular group of people is entitled to build a country exclusively for themselves on land that is inhabited by others”. What is the difference between the US and Canada and Israel? In all three cases, immigrants came, bought land and eventually fought the locals and gained control. In the case of America and Canada it was white people, in the case of Palestine, Jews. The difference is the that before 1948 ALL Jewish lands were purchased from Arabs and that there is a clear historic connection between Jews and Palestine. Furthermore, Jews settled in Palestine either with permission of the Ottoman Empire or with permission of the British Mandate, both which where the sovereign at that time. This is unlike the American and Canadians that just took the land and decided they were the sovereigns.

November 14th, 2008, 4:14 pm

 

Chris said:

I’m sorry I didn’t phrase that correctly; that was a bad generalization. Let me be more precise:
Many of the Syrians that I met liked Hitler. My German friends told me that people liked them because they were German and because of a certain part of German history. One of the language teachers at the University of Damascus said “hitler burned the jews” in order to use the verb “to burn” in a sentence that conveyed its meaning. Mein Kampf sits in the window in the Armenian bookstore near Bab Touma in Damascus. Oh yeah by the way, that bookstore, also carries the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But again, I shouldn’t have said Syrians love Hitler.

November 14th, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Akbar Palace,

When I say “they are so dominant”, I don’t mean it in an ominous evil genius kind of way. I simply mean that the American-Israeli partnership is totally formidable, because it is built upon massive and carefully-laid foundations. I’ll give you a few examples.

In my professional field (academia), there are dozens upon dozens of annual fellowship competitions, grant offerings, scholarship programs, post-docs, book prizes, summer programs, etc. ALL having something to do with Jewish history and culture, and ALL typically involving study in Israel. There are hundreds of foundations dedicated to preserving Jewish heritage, promoting Israeli interests, celebrating Jewish-American achievements in the arts, sciences, humanities, etc. There are think tanks, research centers, philanthropic foundations, you name it.

This is what I mean about dominance. The pro-Israeli lobby is just a small picture of this enormous mosaic of cultural, social, and political … presence. It has such a considerable mass and inertia that it virtually compels the recognition and safeguarding of Israel’s interests, even if a significant proportion of American Jews do not identify as Zionists.

This is what we Arabs don’t get. Israel dominates its neighbors almost despite its lobby.

November 14th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

QN –

Sorry to hear you’re in “academia”;)

But yes, I hear what you are saying. It is such a shame that we (Jews and Arabs) cannot work more together so we can help achieve what the other side is lacking. There is so much potential, it screams at high volume!

But, as powerful as the pro-Israel lobby is, it seems to me it failed to influence the Center for Middle East Studies at the
University of Oklahoma!;)

November 14th, 2008, 5:04 pm

 

Rahm Emanuel's Dad Makes It Clear We're In For Another 8 Years of Pro-Israeli Policy | Prose Before Hos said:

[…] for His Dad, ‘The guy who will be running the White House is essentially an Israeli’, Emanuel Apologizes for Father’s ‘Arab’ Comments, but Press Doen’t Publish Except on Blogs, Why No One Cares About Rahm’s ‘Extremist Associations’, and Conned […]

November 14th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AP

Sometimes I too am sorry to hear that I am in “academia”.

November 14th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Here’s a response to Why-Discuss from a previous post:

Your analysis of Nahr Al bared sounds like a John le Carre best sellers. I guess CIA and Mossad have a lot to learn from the brilliant syrian mokhabarat

Why-Discuss habibi,

You have to make a choice. Either:

1) The Syrian mukhabarat is a cunning, well-entrenched, effective intelligence network that has eyes and ears in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and other places around the region, a fact which makes Syria among the most astute strategic players in the Middle East.

2) The Syrian mukhabarat is a bumbling squad of mustachioed nincompoops that couldn’t tell Shaker al-Absi from Santa Claus.

Which is it? Please consider your response very carefully, because a great deal hangs in the balance. If you choose #2 (as you imply from your response above), then we will have to conclude that all of the promises about Syrian intelligence sharing with the United States following a peace deal with Israel aren’t worth an onion skin. If the Syrian mukhabarat have nothing to offer the CIA and the Mossad in the way of intelligence, then Bashar’s promises are empty.

I personally am more inclined to believe option #1. Syria did not rule Lebanon for fifteen years by the light of Hafez’s eyes. In this neighborhood, you survive on the strength of your security service, and Syria’s is formidable. Now, if I was a young Syrian president in danger of losing a vital strategic interest (Lebanon) to regional and international adversaries, you can bet I would not spare a single resource to frustrate that ambition.

This reminds me of a recent joke:

Abu l-`Abed: I’m so sick of all the intelligence services in Lebanon.

Abu Steif: Me too.

Abu l-`Abed: I mean, we have all of them. CIA, Mossad, MI6, NSA, FBI, KGB, MSW…

Abu Steif: MSW? Which one is that?

Abu l-`Abed: Mukhabarat Souriya Wlaaaaaaaah

😉

November 14th, 2008, 5:16 pm

 

ausamaa said:

For a while I did not understand why people are making such a fuss about a “slip of the tounge” made by the Father of the President’s Elect Chief of Staff Mr. Emanuel the 3rd. Even when I researched the history of his grandfather’s “human” activities in the Irgun. Then all of a sudden it downed on me: What would AIPAC have done if the case was reserved and the comment was a “slip of the tounge” by the Father of an Arab politician in a similar high place? I bet AIPAC would have taken such a remark in its usual stride and would have forgot and forgiven and turned the other cheek. Right? Maybe the UN GEneral Secretary intervention would have been called for and another anti-Arab resolution voted on in the UNSC!!

I salute the couragous action by the ADL action which resulted in the victory it has acheived by forcing the thoughtful and considerate dule citizenship (US/ISRAELI) Emanual who had “inadverntantly” happend to have once been an officer in the Israeli IDF and I would think that it would be best to take the matter to its full limit if the credibility of Obama matters to his coming administration. An appology is not enough..even thought we can take solace in the fact that with this happening at such an early stage will eventually puts him and his elected boss in a defensive position so early in the game.

Bravo ADL….Hard Luck AIPAC..

Turning the other cheek, does not pay dividends in this world. Ask the moderate Arabs, and they will swear to you it does not.

November 14th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

why-discuss said:

QN

You seem, like many lebanese , to have a very high opinion of the Syrian Mokhabarat as well as the Iranian machiavelism.
If it was true, don’t you think they could have prevented the terrorist acts that happened in Damascus recently?
I believe they are certainly better that the pathetic lebanese intelligence services, stuffed with agents with multiple allegeances. I think the US, if they cooperate with Syria, would benefit greatly in reining the al Qaeda terrorists. Syria can also help lebanon in its fight against the Salafists. But both the USA and Lebanon want to work alone.. and we can see the results.
QN habibi, nothing is either or.. there is a number 3

3) The mokhabarat are probably good and experiences, but theu dont have experience in dealing with Al Qareda. They can be much better and do more focused work if they associate with the US and Lebanon intelligence to clean up and protect the region. I doubt very much that Syria is enjoying having bombs and killing in their capital. They look for getting rid of these terrorists who, fleeing Iraq, are finding a safe haven in the Palestinians enclaves in Lebanon and are moving freely in the border countries.
The military in Lebanon are very aware of it and they made many steps toward cooperation with Syria, but many lebanese politicians who have a visceral hatred and suspicion for Syria and look for their elections just cannot accept the obvious fact that unless they cooperate with Syria, Palestinian camps in lebanon will continue to harbor terrorists despite the syrian mokhabarat ‘supposed’ control over them.
You have to make up your mind. Either Lebanon, who just can’t handle this alone, cooperate with syria or they will be exposed increasingly to the dangers of the Al Qaeda-Salafi terrorism. Of course Lebanon and Hairi jr can always accuse Syria of being behind al Qaeda and Salafist.. but no one can believe that anymore.

November 14th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

No doubt the Jews have been exceptionally organized and were serious in building a strong, advanced state. I don’t think anyone would deny that. However, we should also keep certain facts in mind. The Jews in general did not suffer from the social ailments that our society currently suffers from. In addition, “Israel” had the support of the superpowers of the world throughout its existence, while our states were repeatedly targets of western attacks, sieges, and sanctions. The waters that Assad has to currently navigate are much tougher and filled with many more obstacles than “Israel” has had. In addition, he’s only had eight years under very stringent regional and international conditions to tackle some of Syria’s most serious problems. It’s going to take a long time before Syria reaches a level similar to where “Israel” is now.

As for the nature of “Israel” your comparison to the US in Canada is partially valid. Both the US and Canada do have racist origins, and no one would ever deny that. What happened to the natives here is a crime of great magnitude and if you’re suggesting that we should allow the same thing to happen to Palestinians then we’re going to have to disagree on that. However, both countries did eventually move toward more progressive systems so that the nature of their states was no longer racist. If “Israel” were to similarly transform itself then obviously no one would have any problems.

Which brings me to the next point. When you define your very national identity in a racially and religiously exclusive manner, you cannot possibly provide equality to all. “Israel” defines itself as a Jewish state and as THE state of the Jews. Therefore, how can an “Israeli” citizen that is not Jewish be viewed as an equal by the state? In addition, Arabs of “Israel” experience systematic and consistent racist treatment by the state itself. They are not allowed to own land in many places, and many of them have their lands expropriated and their properties confiscated for the flimsiest of reasons. Moreover, they do not enjoy equal protection by the state. For example, while Jewish areas are equipped with bomb shelters to protect Jewish citizens from the harm of incoming missiles, Arabs are not afforded the same protection.

Finally, there is the large group of people living on territory “Israel” occupies, but whom “Israel” does not recognize as “Israeli.” Your claim is that these are people of a different state and that “Israel” occupies their territories for security reasons. However, “Israel” builds settlements on these very territories for Jews only and then treats those Jews as “Israeli” citizens and affords them the protection of the state. If those territories are not part of “Israel” then by what right does “Israel” build settlements there for Jews? And if those Jews come to live in these territories that are not part of “Israel,” then why should they be treated as citizens equal to all other “Israelis” while the indigenous people of that land are not? As such, there is no doubt that “Israel” is racist by its very nature, and until it transforms into a real democratic country, it will be viewed as such by most people across the globe.

November 14th, 2008, 5:57 pm

 

Eamon said:

Thanks for leading the charge on this issue. I’d like a bigger apology, but then again it was his father that made the comment, not him. The degree to which racism against Arabs in this country has become acceptable is completely disgusting. I think (I hope) we’ll one day look back on this period with incredulity that people could make comments like this in public forums and hardly anyone batted an eye. We need a nationwide awareness-raising campaign.

November 14th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss

I would like nothing more than security cooperation between Lebanon and Syria to combat common threats.

I just don’t believe that Syria has nothing to do with the troubles in the north.

November 14th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

AUSAMAA said:

AUSAMAA

DO you mean ADC? ADL was completely silent on this issue!

November 14th, 2008, 6:13 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

AUSAMAA

Do you mean ADC? ADL was rather silent on this issue!

November 14th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

The explanation of your German friends as to why people like them in Syria is their own problem and not ours. I know for a fact that people who appreciate Germans in Syria do so because they are deeply impressed by the technological advancement of Germans and their unsurpassed abilities in the domain of engineering.

Your teacher was a moron for giving you that example.

November 14th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,

You say:
“The Jews in general did not suffer from the social ailments that our society currently suffers from”
I disagree. The Jews suffered from the same problems. Plus, half the Jews come from Arab lands and 20% of Israel’s population is Arab so almost by definition we suffer from the same problems as the Arab world as most of our population is of Arab origin. Again, what Asad has accomplished is very little and you are going out of your way to excuse him. You would never make such excuses for a US president.

So let me understand the transformation that would make Israel ok. If let’s now Israel killed most of it Arabs and those in the West Bank and Gaza and then 200 years from now said we are sorry, and adopted the US constitution that would make Israel an ok state??? Again, you are judging Israel by a different standard that you judge the US and Canada. What will happen to the Palestinians is that they will have to live somewhere in the Arab world, and not in present day Israel. That is way better than the systematic murder the US and Canada employed against their natives. Is it “fair” to the Palestinians? Maybe yes, maybe not. It doens’t matter much since history has no rewind button.

Of course Israel can be defined as the Jewish state and not be racist, just as Hungary is defined as the sate for Hungarians but an American or Latvian can be a citizen. If you are saying that all nation states are racist, just come out and say it. That would make most of the world’s states racist. Is Japan a racist state? Let’s see you become a citizen there without being Japanese. So why is Israel racist and Japan not???

Arabs in Israel have all the access and the protection of the courts in Israel as anyone in Israel has. They are not treated in a racist way by the state, but of course there is racism in the Jewish population against Arabs. Given the HUGE mistrust between the Arabs and Jews because of the conflict, Arabs are treated EXCEPTIONALLY well. Was there ever a case like in Aleppo where in 1948 the Jews were murdered and sent away after the Arabs became Israeli citizens? The Israeli state has protected its Arab minority very well relatively. In absolute terms, there is room for improvement. But I am willing to compare Israel’s treatment of minorities to that of any country in a similar situation. How about comparing the Arabs in Israel to the Kurds in Syria?

As for the settlements, when there is a peace agreement, the people living there will be evacuated or accept Palestinian citizenship. This happened with the settlements in Gaza and in Sinai. So your point is not valid. Israel has proven that it can dismantle settlements and there is nothing fixed about them.

And in fact, most countries in the world are very friendly with Israel and don’t think it is racist. Many more countries think Syria is a terrorist state.

November 14th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, I want to make a certain point regarding AIG, which I think most our readers should know.

AIG, unlike what most here might think, does not represent the average Israeli whatsoever. The average Israeli, while not yet ready to give up on the Golan, even in return for peace with Syria, is rejecting this notion based on very little in common with AIG’s reasons. AIG rejects a return of the Golan until Syria becomes a democracy – No Israeli ever made that demand. AIG thinks Israel can wait for peace also 20 or 30 years – No Israeli ever made such a foolish remark. AIG is very “concerned” about how the Syrian people really feel about peace – No Israeli ever shared such deep concern about the Syrian people. AIG wants Syria’s economy to first improve significantly, and perhaps for Syria to become stronger militarily (pose a bigger threat to Israel) – No Israeli has come close to suggesting this. In fact, I’ve yet to hear a single Israeli discuss “Israeli interests” (AIG’s constant answer to my question “why do you care”) in having any of these developments implemented in Syria, before we make peace. In all of these respects, AIG doesn’t even represent a tenth of 1% of Israelis. NO Israeli, NONE, has voiced any of these concerns!

The average Israeli, in fact, is much closer to AP than to AIG. He/she believes in Syria belonging to the Axis-of-Evil. That the Syrian regime is an evil regime, that ruthlessly punishes its own people (who in any case want to throw Israelis to the sea), and that amongst other things, it supports terrorism throughout the Middle East (against Israel and against the U.S.) The average Israeli doesn’t believe the peaceful gestures by Syria over the past number of years, because again, they are shown by a lying dictatorship, that can’t be trusted. And of course, if you can’t trust this regime, how irresponsible it would be to give them back the Golan? If Arabs saw how Israel once again capitulated, and gave back territory, what an encouragement that would be to terrorists everywhere…

But, the good news is, that once an Israeli leader convinces Israelis that Syrians aren’t terrorists, and that their regime CAN be trusted, and that returning the Golan under a peace agreement will NOT decrease their security, but rather increase it, most Israelis will change their minds (like they did with Egypt). The only one that won’t change his mind, even if his own political leader Bibi Netanyahu suggested it, is AIG. His “truth” is unchanging, it is absolute. And that, thank god, is NOT a common characteristic of most Israelis.

This is important for most of you to know. Don’t feel that AIG represents Israel – he doesn’t. You want to learn how the “enemy” is thinking? Talk to Akbar Palace.

November 14th, 2008, 7:17 pm

 

AIG said:

Let’s see what part of what Shai says is true.

“AIG rejects a return of the Golan until Syria becomes a democracy -No Israeli ever made that demand.”

Few Israelis make this demand that is true. Natan Sahransky wrote a book advocating this position. Bush liked the book and invited him to the white house 🙂

“AIG thinks Israel can wait for peace also 20 or 30 years – No Israeli ever made such a foolish remark.”

This is completely false, the whole position of the Likud and the right wing parties and about half of Kadima, and therefore basically the view of 50% of Israelis is that Israel should only make peace on its terms, for example without returning the Golan. For all practical purposes that means delaying peace at least 20-30 years.

“AIG is very “concerned” about how the Syrian people really feel about peace – No Israeli ever shared such deep concern about the Syrian people.”

Very few people in Israel have voiced such concerns but I think they are very valid. As many posters here have pointed out, there is an inconsistency in the American foreign policy and its unclear support for democracy. That needs to be ammended and made clear. Autocratic regimes, including Mubarak’s and the Saudis, should be made to change if they want to remain US allies.

“AIG wants Syria’s economy to first improve significantly, and perhaps for Syria to become stronger militarily (pose a bigger threat to Israel) – No Israeli has come close to suggesting this.”

Where have I ever suggested this? In fact I am for economic sanctions to stop economic development in Syria until it is democratic.

“In fact, I’ve yet to hear a single Israeli discuss “Israeli interests” (AIG’s constant answer to my question “why do you care”) in having any of these developments implemented in Syria, before we make peace. In all of these respects, AIG doesn’t even represent a tenth of 1% of Israelis. NO Israeli, NONE, has voiced any of these concerns!”

In short, Shai is getting hysterical.

November 14th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You might still be able to edit your response if you hurry. Read it carefully, and see if you’re happy with it… 🙂

No Israeli has ever said we can afford to wait 20-30 years (that’s your interpretation). I don’t know of a single Israeli that doesn’t want to make peace on “our terms”. No Kadima or Likud member in his right mind would say that Israel can afford to wait this long. Only someone who believes we must wait until Syria becomes a Democracy would say something like that.

November 14th, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

You make hasty conclusions about my arguments before you try to counter them. I never said or implied that “Israel” can kill all the Palestinians and then say “sorry” 200 years down the road. In fact, I specifically said that if, in your comparison, you are implying that we should allow what happened to the natives in the Americas to happen in Palestine, then I will have to disagree with you. However, I did state that if “Israel” were to transform itself today into what the US and Canada are today, then there would be no problem. But “Israel” wants to permanently describe itself as a Jewish state while it occupies land inhabited by non-Jews.

As for the Jews suffering similar social ailments as people in the middle east today, I would say your contention is way off base. Jews were not divided into competing and in many times warring sects and tribes. They identified themselves as Jews, and were all unified behind the concept of the state of “Israel.” This is not the case in our society today, where people are in serious conflict over their very identity. Until we achieve a renaissance and an awakening we will be unable to successfully move forward. The fact of the matter is that if Assad were to be taken out of the equation today, you would not all of a sudden witness the rise of an advanced democracy in Syria; rather, Assad’s regime is likely to be replaced by some other corrupt, less-than-democratic regime. And of course I wouldn’t hold Assad to the same standard as a US president because Syria is not where the US is today. But what think you, say, of Abraham Lincoln when he caused the deaths of millions of Americans because the South dared to secede from the Union? What do you think of the Union Soldiers’ actions on the road from Atlanta to Savanna? Would you consider Abraham Lincoln a “Ruthless Murderer” or do you excuse his actions given the circumstances he was facing? Again, you cannot use the same standard in two very different scenarios. If today President Bush ordered the US Armed Forces to attack one of the states of the Union no one would accept it, as it would make no sense and would be completely unjustified, yet Abraham Lincoln is seen as one of the US’s great presidents precisely because he led a war to save the Union.

Your comparison of “Israel” as a Jewish state to Hungary as a Hungarian state is again bogus. A Hungarian is any person who is a Hungarian citizen. He/She is not defined by their racial, ethnic, or religious background. But if “Israel” is a Jewish state, then what is an “Israeli” citizen who is not Jewish? Are they not truly “Israeli” because they do not belong to the right religion or ethnic group? But more importantly, if you want to make a country exclusively for Jews, I would have no problem if you did it on land that was not inhabited by other people. But you cannot occupy a land that already has people in it who are not Jews and then proceed to create an entity on their land exclusively for Jews.

The Arabs in “Israel” do not have all the rights and protection of Jews, and this is a fact. Jews do not get their properties confiscated or their lands expropriated for bogus reasons. Jews have no fear of being denied reentry into Jerusalem if they decide to travel outside the country, while Arabs have had exactly such occurences. In addition, Jews are allowed to own property wherever they want, while Arabs are not. As for the settlements, why do you build them if you are planning on tearing them down? What is the purpose of these settlements other than an expansion of the Jewish occupation of Palestinian land? You can either consider the occupied territories as “Israeli” and treat all its inhabitants as “Israeli” citizens, or you can maintain that they are not part of “Israel” thereby treating all those living there, including Jews, as non-“Israeli”. But you can’t have it both ways and continue to claim that “Israel” is not racist. Regarding Kurds in Syria, those Kurds with Syrian citizenship are not in anyway discriminated against. They have all the rights afforded to all other Syrian citizens. However, there is a group of Kurds who immigrated into Syria relatively recently, who were never granted Syrian citizenship. I disagree with the Syrian government’s position on this issue and I believe they should all be granted citizenship, but that situation is a far cry from the situation in Palestine, in which Palestinians had their land occupied by Jews who created a state for themselves on that land.

Finally with respect to the perception of “Israel” by most countries in the world, “Israel” is viewed negatively by the vast majority of people around the world, notwithstanding its relations with the political leaders of certain countries.

November 14th, 2008, 7:59 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I’d really like to hear your thoughts on my comment http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1531&cp=all#comment-221059

November 14th, 2008, 8:06 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,
Again double standards. The US had 200 years to transform itself. The Arabs need who knows how long, but Israel must transform NOW. I can easily answer you and say: Ok, give us 150 years and we will live up to your standards. If the US and Canada were given this time, why not Israel? If the Syrians think they need several more decades in order to put in place a democracy then why can’t Israel’s democracy be given several decades before it is a better democracy? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Is the Turkish immigrant to Germany truly German? It takes several generations for him to become so and be accepted as German it at all. He may decide to define himself as a Turk with a German citizenship. That is how the Arabs in Israel define themselves. Minorities can be citizens of nation states and the Jewish state and define themselves as they wish to be. Only from Israel you demand a clear cut definition. The usual double standards.

But in the end, what really bothers you is:
“But you cannot occupy a land that already has people in it who are not Jews and then proceed to create an entity on their land exclusively for Jews.”

Yes you can, that is what the Americans and Candadians did. By the way, Israel is not exclusively for Jews. It is a fact that over 20% of Israel’s citizens are not Jewish. Throughout history nations have been displacing each other. The muslims did the same with their conquests. The countries were defined as Muslim countries. You see, you want to apply the most stringent standards on Israel but for yourself leave the low standards. What is fair for the goose if fair for the gander. In the case of Israel, it was even founded by a UN resolution that of course the Arabs did not accept. So if you buy into international law, Israel is even more legitimate than Canada or the US or Japan or China who are all based on conquests and slaughter.

It is a good question why we are building settlements and there is a discussion about it in Israel, but the main reason is that small determined groups have disproportionate power in a proportional democracy.

In the end, you are again complaining about history and what should have or could have been. History has no rewind button. The Jewish state is here to stay, the Arabs will have to make do without the small part of Arab lands that Jews occupy. In the greater scheme of things that is not a biggy. Much worse things happened to nations.

November 14th, 2008, 8:33 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
I am for the two state solution. At the request of QN I even spelled what I propose in detail. Look it up.

November 14th, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You said: “… the Arabs will have to make do without the small part of Arab lands that Jews occupy. In the greater scheme of things that is not a biggy.”

Do the Arabs understand that they’ll “have to make do”? Do you mean that they’ll end the Arab-Israeli conflict (that ongoing, 60-year old one), without getting back the Golan, or the West Bank?

And are you suggesting that the Occupation, subjugation, and suffocation of 3 million people, on their “Arab lands that Jews occupy” is “not a biggy”?!?

It’s important to be clear about these things, AIG. Please clarify for us, will you?

November 14th, 2008, 8:46 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

For Middle East Peace, Dennis Ross is Not the Change We Seek

From Huffingtonpost by Robert Naiman

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/for-middle-east-peace-den_b_143888.html

The advent of the Obama Administration presents new opportunities for talks with Iran and negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The policies and personalities that will shape the Obama Administration’s approach to achieving peace in the Middle East are being determined now. Some reports indicate that former officials like Dennis Ross, who directed failed policies in the past, are angling for top positions. Allowing such officials to direct U.S. policy could compromise U.S. efforts and send a signal to the region that U.S. policy is not really going to change from the failed policies of the past. A recent report suggests that campaigns by women’s groups have helped remove Larry Summers from the short list for Treasury Secretary. A similar campaign by folks concerned about peace in the Middle East could help remove Dennis Ross from short lists for top positions supervising our diplomacy in the Middle East.

Obama has proposed to make an early and sustained push to support peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and has pledged to talk to Iran without preconditions. A sustained push by the United States for Israeli-Palestinian peace would force on to the table fundamental issues that must be resolved, like Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Even Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said recently that Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians. And an early push for talks with Iran could help establish security in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But we can’t assume that this is the direction that U.S. policy will move.

A November 3rd article in the New York Times noted that a report from the “Bipartisan Policy Center” explores blockading Iran’s gasoline imports – an act of war – and says that “a military strike is a feasible option.” The article notes that the report’s authors include Dennis Ross, a “top Mideast adviser to Obama.” Ross served in the first Bush Administration as well as the Clinton Administration, where he played a leading role in U.S. negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians.

Daniel Kurtzer, also an Obama adviser, has written that American and Arab negotiators saw Ross as biased and not “an honest broker.” One Arab negotiator said, “The perception always was that Dennis [Ross] started from the Israeli bottom line, that he listened to what Israel wanted and then tried to sell it to the Arabs.” Aaron David Miller, who also served on the U.S. team, has written that under Clinton U.S. negotiators acted as “Israel’s lawyer,” rather than focusing on what would enable both sides to reach agreement.

The Jewish Chronicle reports that Palestinian leaders are optimistic about Obama, but they are looking for “new faces” on the U.S. side. Walid Awad, spokesman for the Fatah Central Media Commission, called on Obama to immediately devote his attention to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy when he takes office in January. “Bush did not deal with the conflict until it was too late and he did not pressure Israel enough to bring about a solution,” Awad said. He voiced concern about reports Obama may appoint Dennis Ross to a senior foreign policy position. “He’s never been fair with the Palestinians so bringing him back into the fold would be counter-productive. Obama has to bring in new faces.”

As a former Clinton official told Time, if President-elect Obama wants U.S. efforts to help achieve peace in the Middle East to succeed, he must break not only with the policies of President Bush, but also with the policies of President Clinton. Ask President-elect Obama to turn a new page.

To do So, please go to

http://capwiz.com/justforeignpolicy/issues/alert/?alertid=12192816

You can simply add your name and send the letter. You can also modify the letter

November 14th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,
You say:
“Until we achieve a renaissance and an awakening we will be unable to successfully move forward.”

I agree and would like to ask why Israel shouldn’t wait until your rennaissance before making peace with whatever emerges? If things are going to fundamentally change, what good is a peace agreement now and why would any security arrangment Israel have be worth anything?

And from a purely interest guided position, if indeed the Arab world is in need of a renaissance to grow stronger, and it isn’t moving in that direction, why shouldn’t Israel wait and negotiate with the Arabs when they are even weaker? It is hard to imagine what additional decades of autocratic regimes will do to Syria, but it does not bode well for its relative strength against Israel.

November 14th, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
I do not know if and when the Arabs will end the Arab-Israeli conflict. But if they end it without Jaffa, it is also quite likely they will end it without the Golan. Who knows? I have really explained this point to you several times but you do not want to listen. So, Nour, please explain to Shai why there is no difference between Jaffa and the Golan from how you see things.

Again, I am for the two state solution and do not want to rule over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

November 14th, 2008, 8:58 pm

 

Peter H said:

Benjamin Emanuel was answering the question of will Rahm influence President-Elect Obama to be pro-Israeli. And so, Emanuel’s father wanted to emphasize the answer of yes, he will be doing an important and influential job (hence not cleaning) and he is of an ethnic group that often sides with Israel, not Arab. Saying all of that is not racist. It may not be PC, to imply that Arabs don’t like Israel, but its not racist.

Ok, Let’s turn this around. Suppose Barack Obama had appointed a Palestinian-American to be his chief of staff. An Arab newspaper calls his father for comment, and he says the following:

“Of course, Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Palestine. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, a Jew?”

Do you really think that people would not be offended.

November 14th, 2008, 10:07 pm

 

alloushi said:

Dear Chris,

Re the issue of the syrians who love Hitler.

From my exeperince i can tell that most syrians do really apprciate Hitler on the basis that he inflicted punishment on the Jews. But why is that? I think you need to look at education. it is not racisim but ignorance i would say. Most history books in syria-and i can provide extensive quotes- mention Hitler with a neutral point of view which got distroted by the teachers who start to express the sense of joy at the misery of the Jews who do the “same” now to Arabs. so it is not racisim but ignorance of what really happened in history and mingled with short-mindedness. a few months ago, i had a convesration with a friend in syria who was reading about Hitler and told me that he was astonished to know what the man did and felt ashamed of herself for taking what she was taught for granted.

A majority of the syrian soceity, like in Iran, though recent changes, is still an enclosed one with very limited means on educational levels to sreach for truth and access to resources such as the Internet.

Chris, hope this clarifies why that language teacher spoke about Hitler in that way.

November 14th, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

Chris said:

Alloushi,

Even though they may not be fully aware of what happened, they are still “expressing a sense of joy at the misery of the jews” perpetrated by Hitler (the Holocaust). That is racism.

The fact that a person of x ethnic group did something harmful to someone, does not justify harming someone else simply because he/she happens to be part of x ethnic group.

This is a difficult issue because we do not know the extent of understanding about the holocaust of the people I referred to. You are right to bring up the lack of education in Syria, as my landlord/housemate had only completed the sixth grade (his teacher told me he had difficulty learning English because his Arabic wasn’t very good).

But, my teacher at the University of Damascus apparently learned something about Jews being burned and thought it was something to joke about. As I’m sure everyone here would agree, human suffering is never funny.

To diminish what I said even further, I did hear Syrians tell me that part of the reason that Hitler is admired is because he is a “strong leader.” While here in the states (well actually I’m in Italy at the moment, but that’s irrelevant) that would sound like some kind of excuse, it may be true that Syrians are fond of strong leaders.

November 15th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

ausamaa said:

Off the Wall, right, i meant the ADC.

Others: And why is the hot topic of the moment if the Syrians love or do not love Hitler. Some one dug up some recent evidence to support this fact? For me, I would guess that Syrians and all Arabs hate Hitler’s guts for what he -and many of the rest of the European elititist of the time- did by sending us their unwanted Jewish peoples. Furthermore, we also hate those who succeeded Hitler after defeating him by not showing enough mercy by taking back those displaced European Jews back to their original homelands in Eroupe, but were very happy to see them remain in our lands and oppress the Palestinians and take over their lands for good!

November 15th, 2008, 12:39 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Alex and AUSAMAA

I have made the same stupid mistake twice now. In both cases, I had typed the name of the poster I am responding to instead of my name in the name box, with my email and the anti-spam word. As a result, one post came with Norman’s name (a while a go), and the other, earlier today with AUSAMAA’s name. My unintended fraud 🙂 was not intercepted. I apologize to both as these errors occur when I am posting during a very short break in the office.

November 15th, 2008, 1:28 am

 

norman said:

OTW,

You are OK Man , Nothing you do can be wrong ,

By the way Alex , the time of the comments , Is that London time.

November 15th, 2008, 1:56 am

 

Alia said:

Allouchi,

I do not think that ignorance is so easily justifiable in a “teacher” who is supposed to be teaching Arabic to foreign students. The talk is not about people on the street. I find the remark abominable and unacceptable.

Chris,

Get real. I don’t know how many Syrians you met and what kind of Syrians you met, I am sure there were also some lovely examples of generosity and kindness that you have witnessed which you could remember and talk about. If you already went with a hateful prejudiced agenda, you are interpreting everything in that light. You cannot be helped and you are of no use to anyone.

November 15th, 2008, 4:57 am

 

jad said:

Dear Alia

Chris has some attitude issues, he looks down at Syrians. (http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1365&cp=7#comment-220105)

Why Discuss,
you will find this hilarious; Chris is judging Syrians for being racist but for the US army to kill innocent Syrians in Bou Kamal along with the one million Iraqis is just fair because for him all of them are terrorists but our government are lying for calling them civilians…. (http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1249&cp=2#comment-219647)

November 15th, 2008, 5:31 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear All,
An excellent article from James Zogby

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-zogby/rahm-emanuel-and-arab-per_b_143976.html?view=print

Rahm Emanuel and Arab Perceptions

On November 5th, my office sent an email to tens of thousands of our members and contacts congratulating President-elect Barack Obama. In our message, we noted the historic transformation his victory represented and commended the thousands of Arab Americans who participated in this winning campaign.

The initial and near universal response was heartwarming, with many sharing moving anecdotes of their campaign experiences, their reactions to the victory, and their hopes for change.

One day and one announcement later, the tide turned.

With the naming of Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, for some, not all, the euphoria turned to despair. The emails and calls to my office were both troubled and troubling — because much of the reaction was based on misinformation and because of what the entire episode revealed about the larger political dynamics involved.

First, the facts.

Rahm Emanuel is a brilliant strategist and a practitioner of hard-ball politics who, in campaigns, his time in the Clinton White House and more recently in Congress, has demonstrated that he knows how to get a job done. Because there will be critical legislation the President-elect will need to move through Congress, from an economic recovery package and health care reform to a comprehensive approach to alternative energy, Obama has tapped Emanuel for his proven political skills. It is that simple.

This, of course, was neither the content nor the concerns raised by the emails I received. Some charged that Emanuel was an Israeli citizen or a dual U.S.-Israeli national (he is neither, he was born in Chicago in 1959); or, they alleged that he served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), losing his finger confronting a Syrian tank during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon (he did not serve in the IDF, and lost his finger in a freak accident while working as a teenager in an Arby’s restaurant). A few accused Emanuel of skipping U.S. military service to join the IDF in 1991 (also not true — in the midst of the 1991 Gulf War, while U.S. forces were manning Patriot missile batteries in Israel and the Arab Gulf, Emanuel volunteered for a few weeks, as a civilian, doing maintenance on Israeli vehicles). The most recent story alleges that Rahm Emanuel was fired from the White House in 1998 after being implicated by the FBI, together with Monica Lewinsky, in a Mossad plot to spy on then-President Clinton (a total fabrication, compliments of a shady character who claims to have been a U.S. intelligence official and is a purveyor of many bizarre tales).

That stories such as these have been circulating, and have taken hold, is as reprehensible as the “Barack Obama is a secret Muslim/Manchurian candidate” tale, or the anti-Arab anti-Muslim canards to which I and many of my colleagues have been subjected over the years.

Putting aside the fiction or, more accurately, the slanderous myths, the truth is that Emanuel is an effective leader in Congress. He is a strong supporter of Israel. But then, how many members of Congress are not?

Emanuel is Jewish and his father is an Israeli. Arab Americans should be especially sensitive to attacks on anyone based on religion or ethnicity. He has worked closely with and is liked by the Arab American Members of Congress from both parties, and he was the architect of the 1993 White House lawn signing ceremony for the Oslo Accords that brought Arab Americans and American Jews together. When, in 1994, Rahm accepted my invitation to a luncheon with Arab American community leaders, those who met him were impressed by his openness and honesty.

Beyond these facts, however, there are two concerns that must be addressed.

It is deeply troubling how quickly, for some, the excitement of Barack Obama’s victory was eclipsed by cynicism and suspicion, and how receptive some were to wild tales. This could only occur, on one level, because the victory itself was not understood. If it had been, the excitement would have been tempered by an appreciation of political realities.

Obama’s victory, no doubt, demonstrated that change is possible — but incremental change. Pressures remain, from the right and the left and interest groups of all sorts continue to have influence, limiting political options. The economy is in a free-fall and, after eight years of Bush neglect and recklessness, dangers abound in the world. An Obama victory doesn’t alter those realities, either. And so our excitement was justified, but our euphoria should never have taken us so high as to lose our grounding and understanding of the limits of what is possible.

My concern is that, for some, the need for change became so great as make them susceptible to wild swings — from unrealistic expectations to unwarranted despair and, therefore, to become prone to believe the worst.

But the fault here should be shared. I am concerned by the slowness of the Obama camp to respond more quickly or effectively to address the situation. Modern political operations have learned the need to confront false stories, to manage perception, and to anticipate problems — and, here, the Obama team had been especially masterful.

During the campaign, for example, they repeatedly demonstrated how tuned-in they were to public perception — and in particular to matters that might have created discomfort in the Jewish community. They knew that these stories needed to be shot down quickly. (American Muslims understood much of this, despite feeling slighted, at times.) But in this most recent instance, the Obama camp displayed both inattentiveness and tone-deafness to Arab misperceptions about who Rahm Emanuel is, and what role he will play. (Aside from the flap over the comments made by Rahm’s father, for which Rahm, himself, has now profoundly apologized.) As a result, the situation festered.

The campaign is now over, and the President-elect is playing on a world stage with more than one audience at stake. And in the Middle East, especially, sensitivities are as great and (perceived) sleights are felt as acutely as they are among any people in the world. With feelings having been rubbed raw by decades of U.S. policy miscues, and with U.S. favorability ratings at all-time lows, and extremists preying off resentment and fear – perceptions matter.

If we are to succeed in making changes in U.S.-Arab relations — and I believe that an Obama administration can — greater attentiveness and sensitivity is in order.

Bottom line — there are lessons to learn and work to be done. Arabs and Arab Americans need to ground their expectations in political realities and be wary of slanderous attacks smacking of anti-Semitism, and U.S. political leadership must learn to be as attentive to Arab sensitivities as they are to the concerns of others

November 15th, 2008, 5:51 am

 

Jad said:

Excellent article OTW,
I agree with Mr. Zogby concerns; Why Obama campaign didn’t correct all those misleading rumors about the background of Mr. Rahm earlier?

November 15th, 2008, 6:35 am

 

offended said:

Chris,

Syrians love Hitler?

How many Syrians have you met who disclosed their love for him to you?

And if we love Hitler because he ‘burned Jews’, then why are we accused of denying the Holocaust?

You’re quoting one teacher at the University of Damascus? Assuming that you’re telling the truth (even though your credibility sunk a great deal at the aforementioned assumption about Syrians), one teacher is enough sample to assume Syrians are racist? How about I go now to stormfront.org and put up thousands upon thousands of disgusting articles written by your fellow American of the pure European descent, where black people where referred to as ‘niggers’?

The only white American I met face to face during the election time told me that the White House needed to stay white and that ‘that mutt’ needs to stay away from it. He claimed that black people are lazy by definition and that they’re brought up on the love of welfare and KFC.

I can safely assume white Americans are racist then heh?

November 15th, 2008, 7:54 am

 

Alex said:

OTW,

I’m afraid that when Zogby says:

“When, in 1994, Rahm accepted my invitation to a luncheon with Arab American community leaders, those who met him were impressed by his openness and honesty.”

He is probably saying that Rahm was not accommodating or moderate … but he was frank about his bias.

But I agree with the general tone of the article. I liked it.

November 15th, 2008, 8:55 am

 

Alex said:

A good Asharq Article titled …. “the smart Syrians” 😉

http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&article=495029&issueno=10945

الدهاء السوري

من يسمع الضجيج المتصاعد حول شريط اعترافات متهمي تنظيم «فتح الإسلام» الذي بثه التلفزيون السوري، يظن ان الخلاف بين لبنان وسورية هو على أمر يستعصي التأكد منه أو إثباته من نفيه. ويخطئ اللبنانيون كثيراً حين يتعاملون مع اعترافات موثقة بالصوت والصورة مهما كانت ملفقة أو مغرضة بتصريحات سياسية نارية تتهم سورية بالكذب والتزوير دون تقديم إثباتات دامغة وداحضة، تكشف الرواية الحقيقية وتزيل كل لبس عن هذه القضية.

فالاستخبارات اللبنانية تتعقب تنظيم فتح الإسلام من قبل أن تشتعل معارك نهر البارد بستة أشهر. أي ان الملف معروف لبنانياً منذ ما يناهز السنتين. وفي السجون اللبنانية عناصر وقياديون من التنظيم لا بد انهم أدلوا باعترافات دسمة. ولم تتوقف السلطات اللبنانية عن مطاردة المتطرفين والمشتبه بهم من يومها، لا بل هي لا تزال تعتقل إسلاميين لم تثبت عليهم تهم، على سبيل الاحتياط والحذر، مما يجعل عائلاتهم ترفع الصوت لإطلاق سراحهم، أو محاكمتهم إن كانوا مجرمين. أضف إلى ذلك كله ان نساء مقاتلي فتح الإسلام الذين قضوا أو اسروا في نهر البارد، بقين في لبنان لشهور طويلة بعد انتهاء المعارك، وبينهن زوجة رئيس التنظيم شاكر العبسي وكاتمة أسراره، ولم تختفي ابنته وفاء عن الأعين اللبنانية إلا في الأسابيع الأخيرة حيث ظهرت في شريط الاعترافات السوري الشهير وكأنها أحد أركان التنظيم وعالمة بخفاياه. فأين كان الأمن اللبناني من كل هؤلاء النسوة، وهل استنطقهن؟ وما الذي أدلين به؟

غياب الرواية اللبنانية الرسمية والموثقة، مقابل القنبلة الإعلامية السورية مهما كانت ملفقة، هو أمر مريب ومثير للتساؤل. وكلما سألنا عن سبب هذا الهزال الأمني اللبناني، قال السياسيون، من دون مواربة، ان الأجهزة الأمنية يعمل كل منها بمعزل عن الآخر، وانها لا تنسق فيما بينها، حتى انها لا تتبادل المعلومات، وهو ما يعيق التوصل إلى نتائج ملموسة في ما يخص الغالبية الساحقة من الجرائم والاغتيالات التي ارتكبت على الأراضي اللبنانية. وهذه اعترافات خطيرة ممن يفترض انهم مسؤولون، لكن يبدو ان ليس من يحاسب! ففريق 14 آذار يتحمّل المسؤولية بصفته الأكثرية النيابية، لكنه يتذرع بأنه لا يقبض على كل المؤسسات الأمنية وفريق 8 آذار له حجة أكبر باعتباره لا يملك زمام السلطة، كما يحلو له ان يدعي. وما بين «جاتو» السلطة الذي يتقاسمه فريقا 8 و14 آذار سقط مئات الضحايا، وجلدوا في قبورهم بسياط الخطابات السياسية العقيمة والسقيمة.

وهناك ما هو أدهى، إذ رغم التكذيبات التي وجهت إلى الشريط، واعتبار كل ما جاء فيه افتراء وتضليلاً، تحركت القوى الأمنية اللبنانية وكأنها انتفضت من جديد، وأخذت تتعقب بعض الذين وردت اسماؤهم على ألسن المعترفين التلفزيونيين. فقبض على من يسمى خالد العتر «أبو العبد» في طرابلس، بعد ساعات فقط من بث الشريط، والبحث جارٍ بجدية كبيرة من قبل التنظيمات الفلسطينية والقوى الأمنية اللبنانية لإلقاء القبض على عبد الرحمن محمد عوض الذي قال الشريط انه مسؤول التنظيم بعد شاكر العبسي، ومقيم على الأرجح في مخيم عين الحلوة. وهو مما يدلل على ان ما بثّ ليس كله كذباً كما انه ليس بأكمله صحيحاً. والجانب اللبناني الرسمي مطالب اليوم بأن يصارح الرأي العام بما هو حقيقة ثابتة وما هو ملح وبهار وتوريطات لمن يريد النظام السوري التخلص منهم أو تشويه صورتهم. وذلك كله لا يتم عبر الخطابات الرنانة وإنما بإعلان نتائج التحقيقات او جانب منها على الأقل. ونحن نصدق المحققين اللبنانيين ونثق بهم، ونود لو نباهي لمرة واحدة بثمرة جهدهم.

لكن بينما تنجلي الصورة بالوضوح الذي نأمل أو تطوى القضية على غموضها، كما طوي غيرها، فإن الأمن اللبناني قرر أن يتعاطى مع سورية بما يمليه «التعاون والتنسيق». ويبدو بعد زيارة وزير الداخلية اللبناني للقطر الشقيق أن القطار الأمني بين البلدين وضع على السكة، وربما أننا لن نجد أبدا إجابات على أسئلة كثيرة تغلف هذه القضية وتحولها إلى لغز كبير.

والواضح من هذا كله أن سورية مررت الرسالة التي تريد، ووصلت إلى الغاية التي تبغي وأن لبنان التواق للسيادة والاستقلال والعلاقات الندية مع الجار الكبير، اخفق في أول اختبار عملي لإثبات الذات، بعد القطيعة والفراق، ولم يعرف كيف يضع النقاط على الحروف المهتزة والمختلة بسبب الاهتراء الداخلي وتصدع المؤسسات، والفساد الذي يضرب في عصب النظام الطائفي النخر. أما الإسلاميون المتطرفون فقد أثبتوا لمرة جديدة انهم رومانسيون رغم ميولهم الإرهابية وحالمون رغم وسائلهم العنفية، وأن شطارتهم في انتهاز كل نظام يمد لهم اليد، لن تؤدي بهم إلا إلى التهلكة. وهم هذه المرة وقعوا في الفخ كما في مرات سابقة، وقد استعملوا واستهلكوا حتى انتهت مدة صلاحيتهم، ولن يجدوا من يرحمهم أو يأسف عليهم.

وقد يكون مسلسل «فتح الإسلام» قد بدأ يقترب من خواتيمه، لكننا بتنا نسمع عن «فرسان الإسلام» وقد يأتينا من بعدهم «أحصنة» و«ألوية»، وكلها مسميات لحكاية واحدة تتناسل وتتوالد، في أنظمة لا مكان فيها لمواطنين يعيشون تحت سقف دولة عادلة، ما دامت الطوائف والعصبيات والمكائد هي التي تحدد المصائر.

November 15th, 2008, 8:59 am

 

Chris said:

Alia,

I lived in Damascus, near Bab Touma, on Sharia Al Keimarieh for 10 months. So, I met many Syrians and there was an incredible amount of generosity from people who clearly weren’t wealthy. No one wants to spend their savings by living in Syria for a long period of time if they have a hateful and prejudiced view of the people living there.

November 15th, 2008, 12:06 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended,

I listed in an earlier post episodes and examples of signs that their might be some love for Hitler in Syria. But again, I shouldn’t generalize. Alloushi in his post about education also mentioned that some Syrians like Hitler because Palestinians are now suffering at the hand of Israel. I didn’t count the number of times people said something positive about Hitler but by the end of my stay in Syria I could tell.

Yes, one teacher is not a representative sample of the population however he/she apparently thought it was acceptable to say something like that in front of a large group of people.

About Holocaust denial, that’s interesting too because my landlord/roommate said in very clear terms that it didn’t happen. While my tutor (from Iraq though) found it hard to believe (heard about it but was skeptical), but believed it. So, part of the denial stuff may be rooted in a lack of education, but my landlord also seemed interested in conveying the notion that this was some kind of hoax or lie. Again though, he stopped going to school at the sixth grade.

Your comparison with the stormfront website doesn’t work because going to such a website would be looking for racism, I’m talking about random encounters: my landlord, a teacher, the tutor, comments that my German friends said they received, and books in the bookstore near Bab Touma. This was all random, going to stormfront would not be.

I met many more than one Syrian. I lived there for ten months.

November 15th, 2008, 12:23 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

“Deny the holocaust” is another code term that obscures more than it clarifies. There was no information on the Holocaust in Syria during WWII or shortly after it. In contrast with WWI, the Syrians ( of greater Syria ) were only peripherally involved in the events of WWII as the French opposing factions were trying to take over the Mandate and the Syrians were trying to obtain their independance from both factions. Those were extremely difficult years for Syria and there were no international news, nor were they of so much importance for the vast majority of the population. News was in the making in their life day to day.

Then the Nakba happened, the loss of Palestine and the bitter destiny of the Palestinians. There was no interest in learning about tragedies that happened to the Jewish people somewhere else. Why would there be? I know that I learned about the Holocaust in Syria from haunting the libraries of the Missionary schools or the French Institute where old magazines and books from the time were shelved. Our history books had their own curriculum, as I know that schools in the U.S. are not teaching Russian history and Israeli Schools are not teaching Islamic history. When it came to discuss the Holocaust in Syria, it was a peripheral story, as much as it was believed that it was an invention of the Jews, it was also a disbelief that something like that could happen on that scale.

On the other hand, while well-aware of people’s frustration with Israel and its inhuman treatment of the Palestenians, I differentiate between people who would make statements out of frustration which are more a sign of helplessness, and people who express glee at the idea of “Hiler burning the jews” or burning anyone else for that matter.

There is no group of people immune to irrational thinking or behavior under national tragedies. As an example, I remember returning to the U.S. on September 15th 2001, after several months absence in Africa, the drive from JFK was already weird as all the cars sported 2-3 flags out of their car windows…entering my office in N.Y. where I had worked for many years…the tension, the overt and subtle hostility that were directed at the many of us who were “non-native born Americans” from all countries of the world, by the few native- born secretaries were very palpable…the exaltation outside on the streets in the next weeks and months as U.S.A. Today reported on the plan to “export American democracy to Afganistan” …the carpet bombings, the death of civilians which were not even registered in people’s consciousness, and on and on, all that mayhem..

You cannot control how a group of people is going to act and speak under a perceived national tragedy but you can demand that each person be responsible for their own words and acts.

November 15th, 2008, 3:18 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Alex
I fully agree with your interpretation. Zogby is also very frank and realistic in his article. One lesson I get from his article is that while we should not be euophoric, or pessimistic, we should be attentive and proactive.

Alia

Thank you very much for your thoughful comments. I really enjoy reading them.

November 15th, 2008, 5:01 pm

 

AIG said:

“There is no group of people immune to irrational thinking or behavior under national tragedies.”

So, let’ look at the Jews. First, the Nazis almost murder all the Jews in Europe. Then the British because of Arab pressure deny the few that are left in Europe the right to come to Palestine, then the Arabs reject the UN resolution, then the Arabs in Palestine first and later all the Arabs in the middle east declare war on the Jews and THEN Alia demands that the Jews should have reacted RATIONALLY and worked to create a state with the Arabs instead of trying to create a state in which they were a majority and could control their own destiny.

When I read what Alia writes and then see OTW support this I cannot but ask myself, how deluded could you guys be? You are willing to excuse your populations of racism for a very indirect tragedy and yet are first in line to shout racist, colonialist, whatever at the Jews that sufferred through 50 times worse. To make it clear, the fact that Jews sufferred does not justify that they act in immorral ways, but the fact that you do not understand why there MUST be a Jewish state in the middle east smells of the worst form of double standards.

Either we make excuses for nobody, or we make excuses for everybody. But letting Arabs of the hook on the flimsiest of excuses while requiring saintly standards of Jews will not get you anywhere if you really want a dialogue.

November 15th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Why do hardline Zionists always insist that Jews and Israelies and Zionists are one and the same thing?

…”while requiring saintly standards of Jews” !!!! Really??

Nobody is requiring anything from Jews. From Israelies, everyone is requuiering and end to their occupation of Palestine and to their stiff oppression of the Palesinian people, of Zionist, everyone is requiring that they try to keep their stupid ideological racist and supremacist ideas in check before they eventually end up bringing suffering and destruction on the Israeli State (among others)and bringing shame on the Jewish believers they claim to represent.

November 15th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Jad said:

Dear Alia,
You and many other Syrians here always take “the highway” in your respond to many nonsense comments from others; I enjoy reading your objective and rational analyses, excellent post.

November 15th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

Alia said:

Thank you dear OTW- you are most kind.

AIG,

If you want dialogue, then you need to calm down and stop the attacks..Frenzy creates confusion.

There is an acute response to tragedy and then there are the many months and years of deliberation and time to act with reflection and responsibility. Nowadays, you do not see too many American cars with flags and September 11th was differently commemorated this year than it was 5 years ago….

Interesting version of events you recount there. How come you do not mention the U.S. blcoking of Jewish Immigration to the U.S. between 1940-1944- ? and how many Jewish lives could have been saved had the U.S. acted before on information about the camps it possessed:

From the Jewish virtual Library ( and incidentally I find this a really mild way of putting things considering how terrible the whole matter was) and it makes me wonder about the whole JVL enterprise :

“It was not until late in the war that the United States attempted to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. In January 1944, the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., persuaded President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish the War Refugee Board.

Although confirmed reports of the mass murders of Jews had reached the U.S. State Department in 1942, officials had remained silent. During the war the State Department had insisted that the best way to save victims of Nazi Germany’s policies was to win the war as quickly as possible.

The War Refugee Board worked with Jewish organizations, diplomats from neutral countries, and resistance groups in Europe to rescue Jews from occupied territories and provide relief to inmates of Nazi concentration camps. Its most extensive rescue efforts were led by Raoul Wallenberg….

The War Refugee Board played a crucial role in the rescue of as many as 200,000 Jews. However, some people still wonder how many more Jews might have been saved if the rescue missions had begun sooner.”

….Each group has a founding myth that sustains it and which it sustains over time and weaves….Israel is no exception.

I had been thinking of F.W. de Klerk for the past few days and was pleasantly surprised last night to see that Mondoweiss was thinking of him too.

I will not be reading your response until Alex assures me that you have started following principles of dialogue. I find myself responding with anger and that is not something I need.

November 15th, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

Alia said:

Thanks dear Jad very much.

November 15th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

jad said:

Dear Alia,
To be very honest, I envy you very much for your calm responding, I can’t help getting so angry reading stupid, racist, full of hate and fabricated stories about Syrians and not being able to rationalize my responses.
I like interacting on this blog because I believe that it has a good high standard than others and at the same time it teak me off reading some comments who obviously doesn’t make any sense, provocative and stupid as their writers.

Dear Alex, I don’t want to sound rude, but when you set a rule you better keep it otherwise there is no point of it and you will end up having only two people taking over the whole comments section and writing their own views and force all of us to either get angry and not being able to have any productive exchange or just not come here anymore.

November 15th, 2008, 6:29 pm

 

Alia said:

Dear Jad,

It is really a big problem on the net right? There are no inhibitions.

At times, I do write with anger and it distresses me later on. That is what provocation does, that is its aim…It is not about mutual exchange, it is anger dished out…so that you respond with anger.

The only other forum I contribute to on a regular basis has several moderators, and rules are strictly reinforced.

November 15th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

Shai said:

Alia, JAD,

Please know that some of us, on “my side”, are deeply impressed by the way you conduct dialogue. I am not even referring to your obvious and very impressive knowledge of history (I’m always shocked at how much you know about “us”, as compared to us knowing about “you”), but indeed the calm style you choose, the patience, the insistence on civilized discussion.

As I’ve written here a few times before, to various commentators that impressed me so much, I wish all Israelis could see what our “enemy” is like, right here on SC. If they can’t travel to Damascus yet to meet Syrians, let them hear your voices here and now. This dialogue, yes, through the internet, is something out of fairy tales. Who would have ever thought it could be possible – for two sides of an ongoing conflict, two “bitter and sworn enemies”, to communicate with one another so easily, on a daily basis, and to begin to understand one another? It’s unbelievable, and I still have to “pinch myself” every now and then… 🙂

November 15th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

Jad said:

Shai,
I think Alia, OTW and Offended are the best Syrian commentators write on this site, they always have a point to talk about and they always take time to write back to people without being rude, the rational and objectives they got in their comments are impressive.
These people are the ones who make you feel proud of your country men and women and there are many out there who have the same quality as these great Syrians.

From the Israeli side, you and Rumyal are the same; I never thought that I will read anything frank, realistic and so honest from an Israeli before reading your comments.
You always keep your standard higher than many of us and that is impressive from a so called ‘enemy’

Unfortunately and for many reasons you always read about the extreme minority as a sample of all of us and people take that for granted and judge all of us according to that impression.

But as we discussed that before, (if we loose “hope” there is no reason for us to live) so maybe one day the good side reveal.

November 15th, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

Shai said:

JAD,

There is no doubt in my mind, that by communicating as we do on Syria Comment, we are all setting an example for others to follow. What I’ve learned here, in some 10-11 months that I’m in this forum, most Israelis haven’t learned in 60 years! It is not just because of “the information” found within these walls, but rather because of the people, JAD, like yourself, and like so many others.

Even the less-patient moments we have sometimes, the endless arguments (of which I am certainly a part too often, unfortunately), and even the less-civilized comments, are all still a testament to how we can be normal human beings, sharing one space (here, cyberspace, out there, the Middle East), together! If we can do it here, we can do it on the ground.

November 15th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

Nour said:

AIG,

I am not asking “Israel” to transform itself, nor is that really my concern. I merely stated that if it were to be a state similar to what western democracies are today, then we would not have a problem. BUT, it is not, and whether or not you decide to transform is ultimately up to you. However, you cannot expect us to allow to happen to our people what happened to the natives in the Americas. Thus, if you want to continue your racist rule, then you are going to have to accept the consequences you are facing. Syria may need a lot of years to build an advanced country, but Syria is not occupying anyone’s land; it is not bothering anybody. It can take a thousand years if it wishes, as that really has no bearing on anyone else. “Israel” is a racist occupier of lands. It is attempting to systematically transfer indigenous inhabitants of this land to another location in order to maintain its Jewish exclusivity.

Yes the Turkish immigrant to Germany is truly German and has exactly the same rights as any other German, while that is not the case in “Israel,” as Jews enjoy more rights than non-Jews. Moreover, Germany does not occupy and control any region where it denies the people there German citizenship while implanting people of German “blood” on that land. “Minorities” can certainly be citizens of states, but the state on which they live does not define itself in religiously or ethnically limited terms, so that these “minorities” will be viewed as equal members of such state regardless of their ethnic origin. For example, and American citizen is regarded as and American equal to all other Americans merely by virtue of holding that citizenship. However, a non-Jew cannot be regarded as a Jew merely by holding an “Israeli” citizenship.

Your argument is that if you have sufficient force, then you can take other people’s land and build a country for yourself on it. While that is true, it is also true that the locals have a right to fight you with all means at their disposal. Therefore, if you want to bring this attitude to the table, don’t complain when “Israelis” are targeted by the indigenous inhabitants of a land you want to steal. And throughout history, while nations were occupying each other, they were not necessarily displacing each other. Muslims did occupy other lands, but they did not displace their people. “Israel” came into being to displace the locals because it wanted a state for Jews only. The mere fact that some non-Jews were given token citizenships does not change this fact. They are not regarded as equal to Jewish “Israelis”.

Sure, history doesn’t have a rewind button, and this is why there was absolutely no justification for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. You tell us history has no rewind button when we talk of defending our rights, but you use your own bogus history argument to defend the existence of “Israel.” In either case, I’m not really awaiting anything from you. But you should expect that people are not going to be happy with you occupying their land and forcing them off of it.

Finally, it doesn’t take much thinking to figure out why settlements are built. They are clearly a means of expansion, and you know it. You want to expand your Jewish state and thus are implanting Jews in those territories. These settlers are also protected by your soldiers and defended when they commit crimes against Palestinians. The bottom line is that you have an utterly racist state, but are in complete denial about it.

November 15th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

Shai said:

Nour,

I once heard a professor try to make some people laugh, by suggesting that when Egyptians believe they won the 1973 war, they are “living in the-Nile”… But you’re absolutely right, most Israelis are indeed living in denial. It will take peaceful coexistence (side-by-side) for a number of decades, I believe, before most of us can truly look ourselves in the mirror, and understand this. The intentional, or unintentional, brainwashing that most have received here for the past 60 years, will not be easy to undo. It will take time.

November 15th, 2008, 9:10 pm

 

Alia said:

Shai,

It is very nice to get to know you too…and I am even thinking that I might let you see my collection of Jewish history books one day ! : ).
What type of history curriculum do you have in school ?

November 15th, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

Shai said:

Alia,

It is also a great pleasure for me to read your comments, and to communicate with you. I’m not surprised that you have such a collection… 🙂

My daughters are not yet in grade school, and last time I was there was in the early 70’s… so I’m not up to par with today’s curriculum. However, I do know that our current Education Minister (Yuli Tamir) has introduced the Nakba as a topic to be studied in all schools in Israel. She received harsh criticism from certain right-wing parties, but I distinctly remember her response. She said: “We cannot hope to be a nation, until we recognize the Nakba!” All schools apparently are now learning also the Arab-version of 1948, not only the Jewish one, on which I of course was raised. As for other history courses, they are from what I recall very similar to curriculum in the U.S. (general world history, europe, asia, etc., even a bit of U.S. history.)

November 15th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

AIG said:

Nour,

In Syria a small minority is oppressing the majority and stopping its development. That is not a problem for you because the oppressors are local. No problem. Let me use your logic, in 50 years the Jewish “oppressors” will be local as they will mostly be 6 generations in Israel and their “oppression” will be just fine.
I hope you see how ridiculous your argument is.

The Jews accepted the UN partition resoultion which gave them a state that was only 60% or so Jewish. This just shows how bogus your arguments about exclusivity are.

The bottom line is simple. Whatever the Arabs do is justified for some weird reason you invent (they are local or have social problems or are divided or whatever), but Israelis after 4 generations are not yet local, and Israel has to be saintly and judged according to criteria no other country is judged. Most Israelis, unlike Shai, see through this ploy which is quite frankly racist. But go ahead, talk to Shai, see if it gets you anywhere.

November 15th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, Alia,

Apropos Nakba, here’s something our very own Tzipi Livni said just 6 months ago, at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem: (first in Hebrew, for our Israeli readers)

“עם הקמת המדינה הפלשתינית, אנחנו רוצים לראות את סיומו של הסכסוך. הפלשתינאים יוכלו לחגוג יום עצמאות, אם באותו יום תימחק המלה ‘נכבה’ מהלקסיקון שלהם”

(Translation: “With the establishment of the Palestinian state, we want to see the end of the conflict. The Palestinians could celebrate their Day of Independence, if on the same day the word “Nakba” will be erased from their lexicon.”)

Alex, do you see what I mean? She has NO IDEA what the hell this is all about. She is, like most other Israelis, living in her own version of history. She is definitely not the sophisticated leader you would hope to see.

November 15th, 2008, 10:11 pm

 

jad said:

Shai, you better watch out, someone is seriously jealous of you…this is so funny to read…

November 15th, 2008, 10:17 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

If it bothers you that I’m talking to our enemy, I’ll leave… 🙂

Actually, it’s past midnight here in the land of “milk and honey”… so I really am leaving. Good night to all.

November 15th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

AIG said:

Shai,
Have fun, talk to whoever you want and keep bad mouthing Israel and Israelis for no good reason, it is your right.

We are in denial? Who wrote the books about actually what happened? Israeli historians. I accept what Benny Morris wrote. So where is the denial? You just read with your own eyes Syrians admiting that history is not taught well in Syria, and Israel is in denial? Not ONE Arab historian has written a book about what happened on the Arab side in 1948, I mean a serious book based on archival materials and real interviews. In fact, you cannot write good history in autocratic regimes. And Israel is in denial? The reason Morris could write his book is because by law, Israel’s government has to keep records and after a number of years these have to be opened to the public. And Israel is in denial? Have the Arabs looked at their modern history in a critical way as we have? Do they have freedom of speech and research at all? And WE are in denial? Yalla, you have gone completely mad.

If we want to move forward, let’s all look candidly and truthfully at the history. Not to assign blame, but to understand that there are absolutely no saints in the middle-east. It is clear to me that most people on this blog have read very little history, especially on the Arab side.

November 15th, 2008, 10:42 pm

 

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