Hariri Goes to Damascus; US Gives More and Better Arms to Israel

See Friday Lunch Club on Saad Hariri’s visit to Damascus

“… The visit by Hariri was “very difficult on the personal level” and involves “great sacrifice,” said Hariri loyalist and former lawmaker Mustafa Alloush. “But as prime minister of Lebanon, it is quite normal to have such a visit. … It is necessary and there is a need to settle all aspects of the relationship,” Alloush told The Associated Press. He said the visit did not mean Lebanon had dropped its belief that Syria was responsible for the killing of Rafik Hariri, who also served as prime minister. “But this matter is up to the international tribunal now; it is no longer a personal issue,” Alloush said.

See more photos of the visit at YaLubnan

Abu Wael – Muhammad Nasiif – oversees the Lebanon portfolio

إن العلاقات مع لبنان ستكون علاقة دولة بدولة، وباستطاعة الزائرين التقليديين، الذين سيخف وهجهم، ان يزوروا اصدقاءهم داخل الادارة السورية، مجرد زيارات ، ولن يستطيعوا كما قبل ان يتجولوا في مناطق ابو رمانة وكفرسوسة ذات الثقل الامني ، لانه بات لدمشق باب واحد فقط ، فالذي يمسك بالملف اللبناني، من الآن وصاعدا هو الرئيس الاسد مع الاستعانة بمساعد نائب الرئيس اللواء محمد ناصيف (ابو وائل) الذي يؤكد لزواره انه لم يزر لبنان الا مرة واحدة، وبإلحاح من النجل الاكبر للرئيس الراحل حافظ الاسد باسل الاسد لحضور حفل زفاف النائب طلال ارسلان.

The Enduring Iran-Syria-Hezbollah Axis
Michael Rubin  | AEI Online December 2009)

The Obama administration would like to move Syria into the camp of more moderate Arab states, but there is scant evidence that Syria is willing to give up its support for terrorist organizations. Like Iran, it remains a destabilizing and dangerous force in the region.

Key points in this Outlook:

  • The Lebanese and Israeli border is calmer today than during the 2006 war, but the potential for regional conflict is great.
  • Both the Syrian and Iranian governments have used Hezbollah to conduct proxy warfare against Israel.
  • The Obama administration has tried to move Syria from a rejectionist state into the more moderate Arab camp, but there is no evidence that the engagement policy has worked.

Successful U.S. and Israeli interdiction efforts of Iranian arms at high sea, while embarrassing to Iran, have made Syria’s role as a route for weapons delivery more important. The last decade has witnessed several high-profile interceptions of weapons:

  • On January 29, 2001, the Israeli Navy seized two containers of weapons, reportedly offloaded in watertight containers by the Calypso, a Lebanese arms-smuggling ship.
  • On May 7, 2001, the Israeli Navy seized the Santorini while it was on its fourth arms-smuggling mission. This ship carried 107mm rockets, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, antiaircraft missiles, and antitank weaponry.
  • On January 3, 2002, the Israeli Navy intercepted the Karine-A, a Gaza-bound freighter, while it was on the Red Sea. Onboard, naval commandos found fifty tons of sophisticated Iranian weaponry.[33]
  • On May 20, 2003, the Israeli Navy intercepted the Abu Hassan, a fishing vessel carrying weapons, explosives, and detonators.[34]
  • On January 19-20, 2009, the U.S. Navy intercepted the Monchegorsk, an Iranian freighter carrying military supplies to Syria in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.[35]

U.S.-Israeli Arms Cooperation Quietly Growing
By Nathan Guttman
December 16, 2009, issue of December 25, 2009.

Leaders in Washington and Jerusalem  have publicly locked horns over the issue of West Bank settlements. And Israeli public opinion has largely viewed America’s new administration as unfriendly. But behind the scenes, strategic security relations between the two countries are flourishing.
Israeli soldiers train near the coastal city of Ashdod in October, part of the largest missile defense dry run ever held. Some 1,400 American soldiers were also involved.
Israeli officials have been singing the praises of President Obama for his willingness to address their defense concerns and for actions taken by his administration to bolster Israel’s qualitative military edge — an edge eroded, according to Israel, during the final year of the George W. Bush presidency.

Among the new initiatives taken by the administration, the Forward has learned, are adjustments in a massive arms deal the Bush administration made with Arab Gulf states in response to Israeli concerns. There have also been upgrades in U.S.-Israeli military cooperation on missile defense. And a deal is expected next year that will see one of the United States’ most advanced fighter jets go to Israel with some of America’s most sensitive new technology.

Amid the cacophony of U.S.-Israel clashes on the diplomatic front, public attention given to this intensified strategic cooperation has been scant. But in a rare public comment in October, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren praised the Obama administration’s response to complaints about lost ground during the close of the Bush years as “warm and immediate.”

“We came to the Obama administration and said, ‘Listen, we have a problem here,’” Oren, told a gathering of the National Jewish Democratic Council. “The administration’s reaction was immediate: we are going to address this issue, we are going to make sure that we maintain your QME [qualitative military edge].”…..

Israel: EU official’s ‘occupation’ remark casts pall on ties
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent, 18/12/2009

Government officials in Jerusalem harshly criticized the new European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, for her scathing remarks about the “Israeli occupation” in her maiden speech.

Ashton on Tuesday leveled scathing criticism at Israeli policy in her first speech as the European Union’s first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

The government officials in Jerusalem said they were surprised, dissatisfied and concerned that such a senior figure had expressed criticism before visiting Israel and learning the facts.

They said the remarks cast a pall over relations with the European Union, and that they were particularly angry that she had not welcomed the settlement construction freeze, as had her European colleagues.

The British stateswoman, who has also served as the Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission, said that in the EU’s view, “East Jerusalem is occupied territory, together with the West Bank.”

Ashton demanded that Israel immediately lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip, and reiterated that the union opposes the existence of the West Bank separation fence, as it opposes evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

The stateswoman, whose full title is Baroness Ashton of Upholland, also only defined Israel’s partial freeze of West Bank settlement construction as a “first step,” as opposed to the warmer description of the move by EU foreign ministers, who last week took “positive note” of it.

In her address to MEPs in Strasbourg, Ashton, who was only recently appointed to the new position, said she had spoken with Israelis, Palestinians and the U.S. Secretary of State about the role the Quartet of international mediators, and that of its special envoy to the region, Tony Blair.

Ashton said she had told Blair personally that, “The Quartet [a special group set up by the U.S., EU, UN and Russia] must demonstrate that it is worth the money, that it is capable of being reinvigorated.”

Following her comments, a number of MEPs from the Liberal side of the house called for punitive measures against Israel, including the suspension of the EU’s Association Agreement. Irish centre-left member Proinsias De Rossa, who visited the West Bank last week, called Israel’s treatment of Palestinians a form of “apartheid.”

This time it was neither the “infamous” Swedish president who pulled the EU toward an anti-Israel resolution, nor a “daydreaming judge” in Britain who issued an arrest warrant against an Israeli foreign minister. Criticism of Israel has become the language of choice in European discourse.

When the Israeli government offers new benefits to settlers, and peace talks with the Palestinians are deadlocked, even the superpower’s long arm is helpless. Even former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, a devout Jew who serves as an external advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, does not hide his chagrin with the settlements policy.

Indyk has recently told Haaretz in an interview that statements by figures like Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, according to which settlement construction will continue despite the moratorium, are damaging to Israel’s interests. He said these comments, as well as the decision to pump funds into isolated settlements, strengthen the impression that the declaration of the freeze is not worth the paper it is written on. He warned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay a political price for the move, without gaining the benefits which it was intended to grant Israel in the international arena.

Domaine Bargylus is Syria's first private vineyard and is producing high-quality wine with European techniques.

‘Very old world’ wine makes a comeback in Lebanon and Syria
By Olivia Sterns, for CNN, December 18, 2009

Domaine Bargylus is Syria’s first private vineyard and is producing high-quality wine with European techniques.

London, England (CNN) — The fertile plains of Lebanon and Syria have been producing wine for thousands of years. Only recently, though, has the tradition come back in vogue.

Today, a new crop of boutique vineyards is sprouting up and older vineyards are earning increasing critical acclaim. Meanwhile, both local and international demand for their wine is steadily growing.

…. in Syria, the first private vineyard has just been opened by the Saade brothers, who already operate a successful estate in Lebanon — Chateau Marsyas…..

Enough of blaming the Goldstone Report!
By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A brief news item in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) a few days ago made depressing reading. It was entitled: “State Department blames Goldstone for stalled peace talks.” “Wow!” I thought to myself, has it really come down to this? The United States and Israel, who do not hesitate to toot their horn about their democratic credentials, now blame the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process on Judge Richard Goldstone, the main author of a report on potential war crimes during the Gaza war that was issued last September by the United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry commission?
It is hard to think of a more distorted and backward brand of political morality than this American-Israeli view of the Goldstone report, which most of the world sees as a historic breakthrough in the elusive quest to apply international norms of accountability to avoid the savagery that has come to define Arab-Israeli warfare.

Syrian president meets Iraqi SIIC leader
Dec. 18, 2009

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 18 (UPI) — Security and political progress in Iraq are included in the foreign policy interests of the government in Damascus, the Syrian president told Iraqi leaders.

Syrian President Bashar Assad met with Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council in Damascus, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reports.

Assad during his meetings with the Shiite leader relayed his support for political stability and national security in Iraq.

Syrian relations with Iraq were strained following a deadly August attack in Baghdad. Iraqi leaders lashed out at Damascus
, saying supporters of the Iraqi Baath Party played a role in the attacks from their bases in Syria.

Damascus denied the link, and the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the August bombings and a string of similar attacks.

U.S. military officials, however, said several members of the former Iraqi regime could be in Syria, including former Iraqi commander Izzat al-Douri, who took over as head of the Iraqi Baath Party following the 2006 execution of Saddam Hussein.

The SANA report noted Hakim expressed his appreciation for Syria’s support for Iraq as it emerges from years of war.

Ammar al-Hakim emerged as the SIIC chief following the death of his father and former leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim in August.

A pro-Jewish movement within Israel’s Likud Party says a referendum bill making its way through the Knesset would effectively end the Oslo accords and prevent the Israeli government from giving away important territory to the Arabs in any so-called “peace agreement.”

As previously reported, Israel’s Parliament recently gave preliminary approval by a 68 to 22 vote on a piece of legislation that would require a national referendum on any peace deal that cedes land in Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. If it passes two more readings, the law could constrain the ability of any future Israeli government to turn covenant land over as part of a peace deal as the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Syria has demanded the return of the Golan Heights as part of any peace agreement with Israel.

.
At PLO meeting, leaders will extend Abbas’s presidency indefinitely
.
Amin Al-Hafez, Former Syrian President, Dies at 88
2009-12-17 13:26:08.421 GMT

Damascus (dpa) — Former Syrian president Amin al-Hafez died Thursday at 88 in the Syrian city of Aleppo, his wife Zainab confirmed. Al-Hafez passed away in the military hospital in Aleppo, where he lived since he came back to Syria in 2003, after living in exile for almost 36 years. Al-Hafez became president when he led a 1963 military coup and installed a Baathist cabinet. He was overthrown three years later in another coup, and left for Lebanon, where he lived for two years before settling in Iraq. The funeral will be held in Aleppo, his hometown, on Friday.

<div><a href=”http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-ig-diary13-2009dec13,0,2328239.story”><img class=”alignleft” src=”http://www.latimes.com/media/thumbnails/storylink/2009-12/51091297-15090310.jpg” alt=”” width=”187″ height=”105″ /></a></div>
<div><a href=”http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-ig-diary13-2009dec13,0,2328239.story”>Queen Rania champions Palestinian designer Rami Kashouat</a>: “Rania’s style is elegantly conservative. She can wear something open, but she can’t wear something strapless. And she loves my draping — the thing they beat me up for on ‘Project Runway’ takes me to the queen of Jordan!”</div>
<div><span style=”font-size: x-small;”><span style=”font-size: 10pt;”>Who started the recent rapprochement between the two countries? …. Who extended their hand of friendship first?
Queen Rania champions Palestinian designer Rami Kashouat: “Rania’s style is elegantly conservative. She can wear something open, but she can’t wear something strapless. And she loves my draping — the thing they beat me up for on ‘Project Runway’ takes me to the queen of Jordan!”

On the recent Israeli Legislation Requiring a Referendum before Occupied land can be returned to Palestinians or Syrians

Rob Muchnick, U.S. spokesman for Manhigut Yehudit, the Jewish Leadership Movement, believes that this is a great piece of legislation “that will kill any chances of a deal with any Arabs who Barack Obama says are moderate [and] who the Israel government says [are] moderate, even though we know they’re just terrorist thugs wearing suits. So if it destroys that chance, then no matter how much Obama screams or how much the Israeli left wants to give it away, it pretty much would wipe out the Oslo agreement and get us back on the right course. And that’s what’s so great about it,” he contends.

Comments (39)


1. norman said:

As long as Israel sees itself as stronger than everybody else , there is no chance of peaceful resolution to the Mideast problem , there is no chance that Israel would abide by international law when it does not have , The Israeli leaders can not justify giving the Arabs their land and rights if they are not forced to do so ,

The policy of strong Israel is a way to have peace is wrong and naive , peace can only be achieved if Israel is scared by a real of perceived danger ,

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December 20th, 2009, 2:16 am

 

2. Shai said:

Norman,

Why not scare Israel with a “real or perceived” Peace!?! 🙂

Ask your leadership to scare us – directly – not through Turkish mediators.

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December 20th, 2009, 5:42 am

 

3. majedkhaldoun said:

health care reform seams moving toward big victory for Obama,so Joe Liberman can not ask for concessions toward Israel,hopefully Obama will turn his attention toward the Middle East,once the health issue is behind him.
Hariri visit to Damascus,shows how much the lebanese goverment is weak,and that its agendas are determined by outside power,Syria and KSA.
Iran military control over Fakkeh wells was a mistake by Iran,it is a message to Israel,however,Iran is not intimidated,and intended to ask the Iraqi goverment for concessions.

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December 20th, 2009, 5:54 am

 

4. Shai said:

Majedkhaldoun,

I don’t think Iran was trying to send a message to Israel. I think they are communicating, especially to the U.S., the following message: “We should be respected. Find a way to talk to us (respectfully, at eye-level), because we’re a major player in the region…”

I also think, however, that a very different message was received. One that says: “Iran is not only belligerent in rhetoric, it can also deliver…” And this is probably the opposite of what Iran wants. It will further isolate her, and does increase the chance that the world will look the other way if and when Israel attacks Iran.

To make it clear, I’m against an attack on Iran. But you can suddenly imagine Iraq and Israel having something in common. Same with Egypt, Saudi, other Gulf states.

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December 20th, 2009, 11:14 am

 

5. gk said:

The more Iran causes trouble with Iraq, the Iraqis will become more nationalist and will stand up against Iranian aggression. It will be translated diseaster to Iran. It will make the world not just its neighbors suspicious of the Iranians! Even with nuclear weapons, Iran will dare to use it. Actually, it is suicidal to use it. Everyone in the whole world will be against it. It will be destroyed and divided to several mini-states.

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December 20th, 2009, 12:56 pm

 

6. norman said:

Shai,

I do not know where you were in the last twenty years years , Syria has been preaching peace sine 1991 only to make Israel more belligerent , It does not seem to work on your people and leadership,

About Iran , I agree with you , the move of Iran will make more difficult for the US to leave and will make the Iraqis weary of Iran intention , it might even affect Syria’s relation with Iran ,

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December 20th, 2009, 2:33 pm

 

7. Shai said:

Norman,

There’s a saying in Hebrew that goes something like this: “From so many trees, one can’t see the forest…”

As you know, I am well aware of the overtures Syria has made over the years, and in particular the ones by Bashar Assad since 2003. But I exhaustively repeat (at the risk of being banned from this site) my belief that Syria has NOT addressed the Israeli people directly. With the exception of Bashar now boarding a flight to Jerusalem, there is no better way to address us than to allow interviews to Israeli TV, and best if done from Syria!

Norman, you must understand that you hear far MORE about us, than we do about you. The average Israeli doesn’t know which is farther North, Homs or Aleppo. The average Israeli doesn’t know if the average Syrian makes $200 a month, or $2000. If there is no contact on any level, and we have only our ignorance to count on when we base our decisions, how can you be surprised that 70% of Israelis aren’t “for” returning the Golan? Returning to whom? To what? When all we hear are negative facts, negative analyses, interpretations, etc., and we have no “face” to these, how can we possibly empathize with you?

We can learn much from the case of India-Pakistan. Two (nuclear) rivals, no less bitter enemies than Israel-Syria, who have jointly decided to begin opening up channels of communication. They have yet to sign a “Peace Agreement”, and to settle their long dispute over the Kashmir (which is far more problematic than the Golan as you know). And yet, they have cultural exchanges, meetings between their leaders, and a whole slew of organized interactions with one another. The people of India and Pakistan know a fair bit about one another. They can empathize, and that is perhaps the single most crucial ingredient that is missing in our case, and that is almost undoubtedly a prerequisite to bridging our gaps.

We mustn’t be afraid to enable communication between the two sides. If our leaders haven’t delivered yet, perhaps it’s time to let the people have their say, and to help them by engaging them directly.

I know what Alex has been saying, that there’s also a chance for “rejection” here, that the Israeli public can also reject direct overtures. And then how will Syria look or feel. But I see this as a process and not as an individual event. We must embark on opening up channels of communication. If one side or both have not yet understood the benefits and the necessity for peace, then let us engage one another, learn about one another, and talk about it.

No interview by Assad to ABC news can compare to a few sentences by ordinary citizens in Damascus, aiming their words at Israelis, on Israeli TV! I want to see a Deputy Foreign-Minister in Israel that says after that, “Syria has been fooling us all along…”

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December 20th, 2009, 4:03 pm

 

8. Off the Wall said:

The government officials in Jerusalem said they were surprised, dissatisfied and concerned that such a senior figure had expressed criticism before visiting Israel and learning the facts.

I think she did not have to visit, a simple look at the map can tell all she needed to know

If the map does not show, simply go to this location

Alex: Anyway to post images, or would that open a pandora’s box?

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December 20th, 2009, 5:53 pm

 

9. Solomon2 said:

Hmmm, I’ve posted this elsewhere, but maybe here it would put things in perspective, too:

Problems with the peace process between Arab states and Israel seem to have a common root: the belief that Israel is fundamentally sustained by U.S. aid and if that support disappears, Israel will, too.

That belief inverts cause and effect. In the 1967 war Israel conquered huge amounts of territory with inferior weapons and no U.S. support; in 1973, after a massive U.S. airlift, Israel was persuaded not to conquer Damascus or starve the surrounded Egyptian 2nd Army into surrender by the promise that the U.S. aid would sustain Israel as the strongest military power in the region.

In short, U.S. aid is a kind of bribe to keep Israel from defeating its enemies, not the reverse. (If you disagree with me, just consider what Israel might resort to if the U.S. spigot was turned off tomorrow.) So when a U.S. president pursues peace and Arab leaders respond by sitting back thinking they need do nothing as the U.S. pressures Israel, it shouldn’t be surprising that nothing comes of this approach.

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December 20th, 2009, 7:09 pm

 

10. Ghat Albird said:

Along with the much publicised Season of Peace, it may be time to stop fooling oneself about the socalled “Peace Process”.

It also may be more than overdue to adhere to “the arabs” as a unfied entity.

The reality for the past five decades has been that the several states in the ME have each been “played” by the Major powers for their own specific benefit.

The socalled “peace process” is the term given ” as a cover for a continual “Status Quo” with variations on a theme of doing nothing that entails doing nothing meaningful in the region.

As anonymous is quoted as saying: ” The difference between the talking and the doing; is the DOING”.

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December 20th, 2009, 9:18 pm

 

11. Cohen in America said:

To Shai and Norman, I think both your comments are important at getting at one, tragic, element in the continuing Arab/Israeli conflicts. Israel is a democracy, at least for its Jewish citizens, and the U.S. is a democracy. It is absolutely vital to engage the people in these countries, as opposed to the politicians, if there is to be any progress in relations. On the other hand, in the Arab world, including among very liberal thinkers, there exists a strong sentiment that ‘normalization’ is a gift given upon receiving a good deal at the table. Otherwise normalization leads to a weaker hand. But this is the problem. I agree that Israeli leadership has, at every turn, used both palestinian resistance AND Palestinian normalization as a way to dismiss the need to cut a deal. But that was not true of the people. The people were coming closer and closer to a deal but wars, instigated by their own leaders, and suicide bombs, instigated from elsewhere, drove them back, drove them to embrace the Wall, and outrageous forms of warfare. People are fairly simple, you treat them well, you make them safe, you make them prosper and then they love peace. Politicians thrive on fear and suspicion. So how can the Arab world expect to overwhelm unscrupulous Israeli politicians if they continue to shun ‘normalization’, balk at gestures to Jewish Israelis? There is no other way to the future, just endless cycle of injuries that keep militants in power.

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December 20th, 2009, 11:00 pm

 

12. offended said:

Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs

Israel has admitted that pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others without the consent of their families – a practice that it said ended in the 1990s, it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, followed a furious row prompted by a Swedish newspaper reporting that Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called “antisemitic”.

The revelation, in a television documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim world and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran’s state-run Press TV tonight reported the story, illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv. The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place, but added: “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.”

Hiss said: “We started to harvest corneas … whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

However, there was no evidence that Israel had killed Palestinians to take their organs, as the Swedish paper reported. Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians as saying young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israeli forces and their bodies returned to their families with missing organs. The interview with Hiss was released by Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley who had conducted a study of Abu Kabir.

She was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while Palestinians were “by a long shot” not the only ones affected, she felt the interview must be made public, because “the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, [is] something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered.”

Israel demanded that Sweden condemn the Aftonbladet article, calling it an antisemitic “blood libel”. Stockholm refused, saying that to so would violate freedom of speech in the country. The foreign minister then cancelled a visit to Israel, just as Sweden was taking over the EU’s rotating presidency.

Hiss was removed from his post in 2004, when some details about organ harvesting were first reported, but he still works at the forensic institute.

Israel’s health ministry said all harvesting was now done with permission. “The guidelines at that time were not clear,” it said in a statement to Channel 2. “For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/20/israel-admits-harvesting-palestinian-organs

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December 21st, 2009, 1:45 am

 

13. norman said:

Shai,

Over the last 40 years Syria honored it’s commitment on the Golan while Israel annexed the Golan , attacked Syria on multiple occasions and spread false notes on Syria , the Israeli leaders could have showed their people how Syria honored it’s commitment on the Golan , and that Syria can be trusted going forward from what happened in the last 40 years , the Israeli leaders have no intention of returning the Golan and why should they , Syria is not making costly for them to be there , you talked about India and Pakistan , i do not see any progress on that front and the dispute is not existence dispute like between Syria and Israel , you should remember that Syria does not recognize Israel in it’s present borders and without the return of the Palestinian rights , how about another one for you , , If Israel wants peace it should Syria it’s intention and ab bands it’s nuclear weapons , Israel is very scary for the Syrian people and more than Syria is scary for the Israel , so how about some pr from the Israeli side , i will make it even easier for you ,

1_ lift the blockade on Gaza ,
2 _ Stop the wall which suffocating the Palestinians ,
3_ declaring their intention to abide by international law for a complete peace
4 _ stop the settlement as they are against international law and illegal ,

For the last 10 years Abbas gave Israel everything it wanted and got nothing in return , can you tell me that the Israeli people did not know Abbas and he just needs to talk to the Israeli public ,

Dear Shai , the problem is not psychological it is on rights that Syria and the Palestinians have and Israel is not willing to give by peaceful means ,

The only way to solve world problems is through the international court system with binding resolutions , that is how dispute is settled between the American states and should be the way all world disputes can be solved , the problem is that the weapon industries will stand in the way ,

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December 21st, 2009, 2:49 am

 

14. Shai said:

Norman,

If Israeli leaders are against returning the Golan, how do you explain Rabin, Barak, and Netanyahu, each discussing withdrawal from the Golan with Syria? Some say that Olmert was extremely close in Turkey. Had he not ordered the Gaza Operation, perhaps by now we’d be looking at a very different reality. (Of course I don’t buy the argument that in order to NOT deliver on the Golan, he went into Gaza, as some have suggested.)

You are expecting Israeli leaders, and now even ordinary Israelis, to understand you from your point of view (rights, legality, international law), but you don’t seem to be understand Israelis from OUR point of view. I think you’re too easily dismissing Israeli fears as baseless, given our real or perceived military might. Because Syrians are scared of Israeli nukes, you’re deducing that no Israeli could honestly fear Syria. But as I said in the past, you could be strong and scared at the same time. You could be a neighborhood bully, not even realize that you are, and view yourself instead as the guy who always gets picked on. That is why it is absolutely a psychological issue, which on the one hand makes it difficult for those who believe in “facts”, but on the other gives an opportunity because our people can also be more easily persuaded (I believe) with the right PR.

Do you doubt for even a moment that Netanyahu can’t switch over more Israelis to support the withdrawal if he wanted to? Sharon and Olmert got into office by convincing Israelis that they’ll be the ones to finally withdraw from the Palestinian Territories. So Netanyahu, if he wanted to, can’t deliver the Golan?

Your claim is that Israelis don’t want to return the Golan. I think you’re right, we don’t. Why should we? We didn’t want to return the Sinai either. But Sadat in 1977 made us change our minds. I’m not at all sure it was the war in 1973 (as you believe), because we also had other wars beforehand, and peaceful overtures from Egypt thereafter which were rejected. So maybe 1973 was painful enough, and 4 years later Israeli wounds were still fresh. But without a doubt, Sadat’s “PR” is what won us over. The minute he decided to do the seemingly impossible, to come speak to us “face-to-face”, no Israeli could claim Egypt still wanted to annihilate Israel. A new chapter was opened, almost in an instant.

I don’t know why, Syria is not willing to go down that road. I don’t know if it’s pride, fear of rejection, humiliation, or something else. But to me, if I’ve already seen how Israelis can change their minds (back then it was the same statistics, 30% for return of Sinai, 70% against), why not try it? Bashar doesn’t need to come to Jerusalem for that, though I’m 100% convinced that if he would, he’d be treated as a hero, not only worldwide, but especially in Israel.

When you’re asking for Israeli PR towards Syria, you’re reminding me of that golden rule on the road that says “Be smart, don’t be Right…” You believe Syria has been wronged, and that Israel is the evil one. But you dismiss the other side of that coin, namely ours. I’m suggesting (exhaustively) that you consider your REAL potential power, which is not SCUDS, Hezbollah, or even your alliance with Iran, but rather… your PR. Because it will cost you far fewer lives, and may achieve your goals far quicker. That’s all I’m suggesting. I’m not talking about justice. Historians and lawyers at academic institutions will one day decide on that. Few Israelis will admit they’ve committed international crimes, just as few Syrians would, about themselves.

(Btw, as for Abbas, you and I both know he’s a puppet. You can’t receive money, arms, and security from Israel, and then sit across the table and pretend to be the enemy. The minute he allowed himself that, no one would take him seriously. Not to mention the fact that he doesn’t really speak on behalf of the entire Palestinian people. He can’t deliver even if he wants to.)

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December 21st, 2009, 5:58 am

 

15. Henry said:

Okay we got an American academic playing down the extent to which Assad is not a dictator. LOL. The Syrian state is probably the most repressive in the region. The only competition is the KSA and Iran. Of course, this isn’t saying much.

I also appreciate that Landis sends us over to the Friday Lunch Club, where we see yet another reference to the Landis-Assad love affair:
If the rumor of Moustapha’s recall is true, then there is no telling how this will affect the standing of Moustapha’s American circle — the various analysts, journalists, bloggers (e.g., the “Friday Lunch Club”) and academics, the Syrian ambassador has used over the past few years to put through the Damascus regime’s message. Presumably, some frequent visitors to the Syrian embassy, like Seymour Hersh or Robert Malley, have their own outlets to the Assad family (including the ICG’s Peter Harling’s office in Damascus), but others, like University of Oklahoma professor Joshua Landis are wading in deeper water. Since Landis’ position in Washington policy circles was a function of his proximity to Moustapha, as the Syrian ambassador’s stature sunk so did Landis’ and the invitations to speak around town became much less frequent (especially when it was realized that Landis had no added value, as he merely brought what Moustapha fed him). Now with Moustapha’s departure possibly imminent, it’s not clear if Landis is going to be making an exit as well, or if Moallem’s new charge will find a use for the Norman, OK-based blogger.”

Needless to say, this isn’t exactly scholarly objectivity.

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December 21st, 2009, 7:48 am

 

16. ausamaa said:

You gotta love this! The headline of the article referes first to “Harriri in Damascus”, but all the discussions are about what and how Arabs can win the Hearts and Minds of their Israelie Occupiers! Cute, isnt it? Helps to mortify a certain sense of denial by some, and serves an eternal worth-while purpose: as Syria’s victory in Lebanon and the region is behind us now, why not distract from Resistance can acheive, and instead look for other things to keep debaters/viewres focused on more peace/defeatest things such as what MORE Syria/Arabs should expected to do to save Israel!

A Surprise Peace Attack on Israel!! Like a rape victim giving the rapist a nice second round so that she can win his goodwill.

Nice over-utopian idea, but how about a small guesture by Israel to spark such a Syrian/Arab Peace Attack? Something very triffle and symbolic such as suspending the extension of existing settlements on occupied 1967 lands and stopping the eviction o Jerusalem’s Arab residents out of their houses to make space for New York’s overzealous, middle-east weather-loving double-passport holding Chosen People!

Cute… as always!! Keep them focused on your preference lest they win more things their way

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December 21st, 2009, 7:51 am

 

17. Shai said:

“Like a rape victim giving the rapist a nice second round so that she can win his goodwill.”

Words have no power, do they? But then again, perhaps there are some who truly are afraid of a different reality. To those Article-Title watchers, Let-Justice-Be-Served dreamers, I make the following plea – if you spend as much time thinking of ways to bridge the gaps as you do dismissing them, we might actually get somewhere one day. There are plenty on my side, who are exact copies. They too would say: “If only Syria would stop aiding terrorist (“resistance”) organizations, and belligerent states that call for the annihilation of others, and stop giving us moral-lessons about Occupation after its own “little history” in some neighboring country…”

We must end this YOU-FIRST game once and for all. Opening up channels of communication should be in the interest of all sides, “rape-victim” and “rapists” alike.

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December 21st, 2009, 8:17 am

 

18. ausamaa said:

Shi,

Could not agree more to a degree, that is, but during human history, where had one-sided “good-will” guestures gotten anyone? Dont you beleive in more realistic things such as balance of power, or like 300 hundred million Arabs will eventually get the upper hand over a few million “new-World” immigrants, or the evolving damgers of rockets coming from near and far away places hitting previously thought safe havens in Israel, or other scenarios like what happened in Vietname, South Africa, Ireland, and even the Roman Empire and its slaves for heaven’s sake!

As to the the argument over “rape”, “rapist” and such not so-nice-to-recall things, can we just establish the facts quickly by recalling that the crime scene was Palestine, where the victim lived, not Europe wher the assailant came from!

Liking something of the ideas you put forward SHI, I have to say to that I agree with you that we should stop this YOU-IRST game! But the assailant has to get off the victem’s body to give the victim time to at least breath before they start thinking about things like forgeting, kissing and making up!

But once again, can you show us where goodwill and reason had ever convinced a qonquerer to relinquish his captured treasure becuse the victime has shown their goodwill first.

Please come on. Why dont we focus on more realistic “what-ifs” scenarios of the sort we have been witnessing since the July 2006 war, or since the Gaza “intrusion”, or since the surprising growth of the Iranian “threat”, or since the decline of the NATO alliance ability to dictate its wills in this -unexpectedly- emerging multipolar world and finally perhaps, since the recent economic upheavles with its epic center being the US and its long and short term implications including the increasingly-unpopular rising cost of maintaining US bases and proxy-bases world wide (coupled with their failure to achieve the intended purposes and missions)?

Sounds a bit less dreamy than asking for a Syrian or an Arab Peace Attack. As if an Arab Peace Attack is different from the many “ignored” Arab Peace Initiatives!!

And Incidently; could the request for Syrian Peace Attack on Israel NOW provide Israel with an excuse to postpone continuing negotiations with the Palestinians which Obama wants? Or is the thoought formulated with the devilish intent that it can be used -God forbid- to de-couple Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, the Arabs, and even Turkey perhaps from Syria? We have been down those roads before? Have we not? Anything we learned yet? Particularily on the Israeli side of the sixty years old barbered wire-fence?

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December 21st, 2009, 9:26 am

 

19. Alex said:

17. Shai said:

There are plenty on my side, who are exact copies. They too would say: “…and stop giving us moral-lessons about Occupation after its own “little history” in some neighboring country…”

Shai, I will use the example you wrote here to let Ausamaa and Norman (and practically every Syrian I can think of) know that I agree with your call for Syrians to have meaningful discussions with Israelis.

Why?

Because, we need to do a good job in presenting Syria’s point of view. Only Syrians will be motivated enough to do it right. We can’t hire a PR firm to represent us, we can’t expect the Israeli peace activists to be able to respond on our behalf (it will discredit them in Israel if they over did it)

Back to the “little history” of Syrian “occupation” of Lebanon … Here is how it is very different from Israel’s occupation

1) Syria was invited by the President of Lebanon, got Arab and international backing before entering the long term challenge of stopping Lebanon’s bloody civil war. The Syrian army was part of the Arab league’s Lebanon rescue army.

Israel … invaded its neighbors.

2) Syria did not annex Lebanon even though it was doable.

Israel annexed the Golan and planted crazy Israeli settlers all over the occupied territories.

3) Syria did not “occupy” any other neighbor … Israel at different points occupied territories from every single neighbor (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and .. Palestine).

For Israel, occupation of others’ lands is a pattern of behavior. (although these days it is not as easy as before)

4) Syria was never ever mentioned specifically in any UNSC resolution for its occupation of another country .. even 1559 does not name Syria by name.

Israel is the target of tens of UN resolutions (SC and GA) … no other country on earth comes a close second to Israel in this regard.

5) Syria respected 1559 and withdrew immediately from Lebanon. Israel does not give a damn about international law (excpet when it can use it against Hizbollah or Iran)

That’s how a Syrian will respond to that statement. Shai will not, Robert Fisk will not.

We can not afford to not do our best at least for a short while. If it does not work, then too bad … at least we know the next time we allow the region to go to war that we really did our best in exploring all means before we accepted the inevitable war option.

But Shai, if and when this “dialogue” takes place … it can not be orchestrated to remain always sweet and “safe”. Israelis believe Syria is week and they believe Syria is evil … There can be no peace (and certainly no return of the Golan heights) until Israelis change their perception of Syria.

Dialogue has to be frank and it has to be allowed to go to any depth required.

Look at the discussions between President Assad and Prime minister Saad Hariri this week … they had three long sessions during which they discussed everything. It was not a photo opportunity.

Hariri was very pleased with what he heard and he genuinely changed his mind to a large extent.

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December 21st, 2009, 3:25 pm

 

20. Shai said:

Ausamaa,

Most Israelis don’t feel the Palestinians are the victim, so you think we can view the Syrians as such? You can continue pontificating about justice until you’re blue in the face (and by the way, notice I’m not even arguing with your claims), but reality is that no one’s listening to you on my side. What do you want – Israelis to accept responsibility for any crimes? Could you do that, today, when everyone’s wounds and fears and suspicions are still so fresh? If you ask me, acknowledgement will come 2-3 generations AFTER there’s a peace agreement. Probably not a minute before it.

Look, by now you know my views. You know I’m for giving back every inch of conquered territory, in return for peace. But I don’t buy for a second this “we’re the victim, you’re the victimizer” attitude. If the Arabs had accepted the U.N. Partition Plan, a state of Palestine that’s two and a half times bigger than what Abbas and Arafat have been negotiation over would have been in place already 62 years. Please don’t suggest that the Arabs have always been the “victim”. For the first few decades, the Arab states tried to force the Jews out of this land. Until today, most Arab states do not recognize Israel’s right to exist (not only in its current “borders”, but at all).

Whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not, there are at least two sides to this coin, if not more, and we cannot ignore them. We can’t expect each side to only see ours. I feel that’s what you’re asking. If we agree that we should stop this “You-First” game, then we must also stop this “I’m-the-Victim” one. Because as I suggested, most in Israel have more in common with you, than with me, because they speak exactly the same language as you, but in reverse.

Finally, I’m not sure I understand what you’re suggesting. Because if it’s war, then you need to rally your leaders to go do it. Why is it they haven’t done it yet? Why is it Hafez Assad, and now Bashar, chose negotiations and not war? It’s easy to sit there, on our couches with cappuccino’s in our hands, and say “Israel will only learn by force!”. Are you ready to go force Israel out? Are you ready to pay the price, whatever that might be?

I completely agree with Alex – Syria must at least try what it hasn’t yet, which is exposing ordinary Syrians and Syria to Israel. Then you will know you’ve tried everything. Then I’ll know Syria tried everything.

I wish I could tell you “Yes, Ausamaa, you’re right. My countrymen can’t learn any other way. You must make us feel pain first…” But of course I cannot and will never agree to this. I will never condone death of even a single person, let alone tens of thousands.

There must be other ways, even if WE can’t think of them.

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December 21st, 2009, 4:09 pm

 
 

22. MONTAGNARD said:

SHAI,
I, for one, disagree with you that had the Palestinians agreed to the UN Partition Plan, things would have been any different.
Israel had an advantage in war and used that advantage. Israel will always use that advantage as long as it owns it. I would rather see us find every way to take that advantage away from Israel, than waste our precious time and energy trying to talk to the Israeli public.

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December 21st, 2009, 6:01 pm

 

23. Henry said:

Alex,

In post 15 I indicated that I was referring to something that was in a blog that we were sent to by Landis, the Friday Lunch Club. The Friday Lunch Club was pointing to, in fact copying, yet another reference of the Landis-Assad love affair. That was a reference to a posting at the blog Beirut2Bayside by Tony Badran, which is on Lebanon. I then wrote a colon to indicate that what follows is what I am referring to. If you are still convinced that I “copied” from Beirut2Bayside and not the Friday Lunch Club as I wrote, you may want to look at this: http://friday-lunch-club.blogspot.com/2009/12/if-moustaphas-recall-is-true-no-telling.html#links

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December 21st, 2009, 6:34 pm

 

24. Shai said:

Montagnard,

I understand your view, but if it is true that Israel does possess nuclear capabilities, it will be a long time before anyone can “take that advantage away” from us. Having said that, I do understand why Arab states would attempt to achieve some sort of parity with Israel. From our point of view (Israelis), the Arab states are already plenty a threat to Israel, in particular via their support of proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas, not to mention military alliances with a near-nuclear Iran.

Though I’m not a great fan of Counterfactual History, if we’re contemplating “what if” the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan, I doubt there would have been war. Israel wasn’t asked at the time what part of Palestine it wanted. It accepted the amount that was given, but the Arabs didn’t, and war ensued. As a result of that war, new borders were drawn. The Palestinians could not have their own state, unless the Jordanians that were controlling the rest of the territory accepted it. The territory that Abbas and Arafat were attempting to get back is merely 22% of Mandatorial Palestine, and less than 50% of what was originally offered in the Partition Plan.

There is no argument that the Palestinian could have had much more, had they accepted the Plan. Btw, interestingly enough, more and more voices from a surprising side (The Settlers) are starting to talk of a One-State solution. I’ve always thought that the Palestinians’ biggest mistake, back in 1967, was NOT “surrendering”, and demanding Israeli citizenship. Two decades ago, our Prime Minister could have been Yasser Arafat… 🙂 (Jokes aside, I very much sympathize with the Palestinians. Of anyone in this region, they’ve been dealt the worst cards, and have suffered the most, and still do.)

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December 21st, 2009, 6:58 pm

 

25. Alex said:

No need Henry, that was my mistake.

cheers

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December 21st, 2009, 6:58 pm

 

26. Shai said:

Alex,

Would QN agree with you about “Syria was invited” into Lebanon? And even if it was, would he agree that Syria should have stayed and “ruled” as long as it did?

Btw, did you ever hear Alon Liel’s story about the only Arab Embassy that ever flew its flag over Jerusalem? Guess who’s flag it was? That’s right – Lebanon’s! So there was a time when another President of Lebanon “invited” even Israel in… And we know all about that.

I’m not suggesting Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is fully comparable to Syrian occupation of Lebanon. I am suggesting that other Arab states may find it a bit easier to use the words “occupier”, than Syria might.

You said: “There can be no peace (and certainly no return of the Golan heights) until Israelis change their perception of Syria.”

I couldn’t agree more. So let’s help Syrians and Israelis find a way to more easily change their perception of one another. It’s not rocket science. But it does take courage.

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December 21st, 2009, 7:15 pm

 

27. MONTAGNARD said:

SHAI,
US nuclear weapons capability did not help the US win the military conflict in Korea or Vietnam. So the Israeli nuclear weapons capability is not the advantage I am talking about, in fact if Israel were to use one, the whole world will be against it including US public opinion.
In the last 60 some years Israel owned the tactical advantage to win wars, and resulted in Israel not caring for a UN Partition Plan or UN resolutions or mediating efforts by whoever tried.
The day the tactical advantage is challenged and countered with tactics that can produce new results on the ground, will be the day the Israeli public will demand from its leadership to compromise and seek an accommodation with the Arabs.

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December 21st, 2009, 7:34 pm

 

28. Shai said:

Montagnard,

I see what you mean. But we already have examples of such change in tactical “resistance” against Israel, namely via Hezbollah and Hamas. So of course one can claim Barak left Lebanon after 18 years of occupation because the toll HA was extracting was too high, and the same about Sharon and Gaza. But then look at how the Israeli leadership (and 94% of the public) reacted to Summer 2006 in Lebanon, and Winter 2008/9 in Gaza.

There’s no doubt that guerilla warfare, and thousands of $10 rockets fired daily into Israel (mostly landing in empty fields) have their effect. But in Syria’s case, you are much more limited. It is an organized nation, not an organization of a few thousand fighters. Can you see Syria “inventing” some resistance group just East of the Golan, who’ll start lobbing rockets onto Israeli settlements? Israel will immediately retaliate, but not against the resistance-group. It will hold Syria directly responsible, and will react very harshly. That will, quite likely, force Syria to respond accordingly, and next thing you know, we’re at war.

This final note is for you and Alex as well. I repeat this every so often, but it is important for your side to understand this. While Israelis know that we have the “best army” in the region, and perhaps nuclear capabilities and enjoy a certain status of “regional superpower”, still Israelis fear the Arab states. Imagine that – we know we can “wipe out” Damascus at a click of a button, and yet we’re afraid of Syria! You do not appreciate enough the psychology that has been at play here for the past 60 years, in Israeli minds. We grew up fearing the Arabs. We were fed, and still feed, very negative information about the Arabs. They want to throw us to the sea, and here’s yet another proof… time and again.

And I claim, that if you understand this point, you can actually utilize it by producing effective PR. Don’t reinforce our fears and suspicions – do the opposite – reawaken our hopes that it will one day be over. We were almost there, Montagnard, just a decade and a half ago during Rabin’s days. An overwhelming majority of Israelis were for returning the Golan, for ending the Occupation, for finally opening a new chapter in our region. We are the same people today, but after a very bitter 15 years.

The most effective “Attack” you can plan right now is not one with bullets, but with words directed at our population.

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December 21st, 2009, 7:56 pm

 

29. MONTAGNARD said:

SHAI,
I don’t buy your argument that Israel can wipe out Damascus at a click of a button, as a matter of fact if Israel were to use a nuclear weapon, it will be an invitation for a retaliatory wipe out of Israel.
So let us be real. In 1973 the Syrian Armed Forces stood practically alone against the Israeli Armed Forces, as the Egyptian objective was to capture the Canal and negotiate peace. Had the Syrian Army been able to hold the ground it liberated in the Golan, Israel would have accepted a different disengagement line than the existing one, and still Damascus wouldn’t be wiped out. By the way, I was in Damascus during the Israeli air raids on Damascus in 1973 and witnessed as people would come out to watch the dog fights and the Sam missiles streaking after the Israeli Phantoms rather than going into shelters when the sirens sounded the air raids alarms.
When I talk about taking the war advantage from Israel, I am not talking about a $10 rocket or a resistance in the occupied lands.
I am sure that there are many measures and countermeasures to upset the current, air and land, offensive and defensive balance and tactics, and deprive Israel of winning a future war.
The day that we achieve this, will be the day we can sue for an equitable and honorable peace.

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December 21st, 2009, 8:55 pm

 

30. Shai said:

Dear Montagnard,

With this “click of a button” example, I was trying to depict the Israeli state-of-mind, not yours. Personally I believe, and from what I’ve heard from respectable physicists, that it is impossible to “wipe out” entire cities, let alone entire countries, even with nuclear bombs. Today’s cities are built of concrete, not wood, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki were.

As for Israel “winning a future war”, you must understand that from our angle, “winning” is defined very differently. It has been part of our military doctrine from the birth of our nation, that Israel cannot really “win” any war, at least not in the classical sense. We cannot really take over any nation in this region. Even the weak Lebanon cannot be entirely occupied and ruled by Israel. Certainly not Syria, Jordan, or Egypt. So “winning”, according to our doctrine, means “punishing the enemy so severely, that he will not opt to repeat future rounds so quickly, or at all.” And that, I doubt you can take away from Israel so easily.

By the way, at the same time that you were hearing the sirens in Damascus during the 1973 war, I was in Ramat-Gan (a suburb adjacent to Tel-Aviv), hearing similar sirens. I was four years old, and my father was called down to the Sinai to go fight, as were all the men we knew. A few didn’t return, but most did. From Israel’s point of view, Egypt and Syria did not have “limited goals”, but rather wanted to annihilate Israel. We know today that this was not the case, but most still don’t believe it. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that if Syrian tanks would have started rolling down the Golan, headed towards inner-Israel, and if the same would have occurred in the Sinai, Israel would have used its nuclear power. Moshe Dayan was convinced the “end was near”, and supposedly used the term “Fall of the (3rd) Temple”. Had Egypt not stopped / been stopped, the fear of existential threat may well have pushed our leadership over the edge.

I’m not sure I agree with you about how the world would react if Israel would use “the bomb”. With the assumption that we would do so only if attacked on multiple fronts, all at once, perhaps using WMD’s, thousands of missiles, etc., I’m not sure any of our allies would not “forgive us”. But clearly, we would awaken to a completely different world and region the next morning. I pray we never reach that, but at the rate we’re going, we are probably getting closer rather than farther away from it. Every other nation in our region now has “nuclear aspirations”, from the Maghreb to the Gulf. That’s not sure recipe for a stable region.

To paraphrase the late Yitzhak Rabin, the only war we should “hope to engage in”, is the one for Peace.

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December 21st, 2009, 9:31 pm

 

31. MONTAGNARD said:

Dear Shai,
Syrians are not war mongers and are as peace loving as anyone can be.
Waging a war for peace is what Syrians want. Unfortunately, serious peaceful negotiation efforts have been frustrated and scuttled by Israel for as long as they have been tried. Your justification of the belligerent Israeli state of mind, based on the fear of Israelis from Syrians defies a 60 year history and any objective analysis.
I wish I could agree with you, but history’s and reality’s lessons are more convincing than your noble and sincere wishes.
In my heart I would like to join you in your wishful vision, but in my mind I want Syria to be prepared to break that vicious cycle of Israeli terror and doctrine of excessive punishment, and be able to return the punishment on Israel and maybe get some sense out of it.

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December 21st, 2009, 10:15 pm

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

MONTAGNARD said:

I, for one, disagree with you that had the Palestinians agreed to the UN Partition Plan, things would have been any different.

Montagnard,

The issue is moot. Whatever the Palestinian leadership would have agreed to, the surrounding Arab states (Syria, Jordan, and Egypt) would have gobbled up. The Palestinian “government” was almost non-existent. Moreover, the surrounding Arab states would have continued to use Palestinians to attack Israel.

You don’t agree? Then where was Palestine from 1948 to 1966?

Anyway, at least Egypt and Jordan came to their senses. Now we wait for the peace-lovers in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon.

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December 21st, 2009, 11:18 pm

 

33. Shai said:

Dear Montagnard,

To me, Truth, and “objective analysis” are irrelevant. Empathy is the goal. If I can get Syrians to empathize (not sympathize) with Israelis, and Israelis to empathize with Syrians, then there will be Peace. Not if I manage to convince Israelis that we are the conquerors, and they are the conquered. That won’t happen. Not anytime soon.

I believe both Israel and Syria suffer from the same thing – both don’t understand that their actions are interpreted by the other side as clear contradictions of their stated goals of Peace. Tell the average Syrian that Israel is interested in Peace, and he’ll simply point to our continued Occupation, to our killing in Lebanon and Gaza, and say “you’re crazy”. Tell the average Israeli that Syria is interested in Peace, and he’ll point to the continued support of Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, and (supposedly) nuclear aspirations. There’s no winning in this cycle. No side will recognize the other’s interpretation, and change something. Neither Syria nor I’m afraid Israel. It is truly a Gordian knot.

But instead of trying to pull on the same rope, I suggest we open a new and long overdue realm of communication, where we can talk about why it is that we’re still pulling on a rope. I think and hope that the interaction, the exposure to one another, will create an opportunity for empathy, that isn’t there in any other form of communication we’ve tried (including the violent ones).

Montagnard, look at what’s happening here on SC. A few of us “enemies” come together to discuss our concerns. Do you doubt for even a moment that SC doesn’t have an effect on me, on Akbar Palace, on Yossi? The fact that we keep coming back by itself suggests that this communication is important to us. That we want to better understand, and to be better understood. That we want to develop empathy. This forum, under the wonderful auspices of one Professor Landis and one Alex, does more in education and communication than any “Resistance Activity” does. It is difficult to misinterpret your concerns, when you state them so well. It is easy to misinterpret missiles in the air, or rolling tanks and infantry across towns and villages in our region.

Because both sides define themselves as a victim, and are exerting all their energies on changing the other, as time passes we are getting closer and closer to a corner from which it becomes difficult to back out. Then indeed war seems the only option (or even “limited confrontation”). One of the main reasons why the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 didn’t deteriorate into all-out nuclear confrontation between the two super-powers (and it was a hair-length away from doing so), was because there was open communication between the parties. Imagine if some form of communication was always open between Americans and Russians all the years prior to that, and since.

It is easy to fear and suspect and hate, when we can’t explain our motivations to one another. When all we have are our “objective analyses” to look at. How could Israel want Peace, if in 22 days it kills 1,300 Palestinians?!? How could Syria want Peace, if it supports a terrorist-organization that lobs thousands of missiles (including Syrian-made ones) into Israel?

Montagnard, I believe ALL people on earth want peace. I have yet to meet a single community anywhere, that wants to live under threat of war. That doesn’t mind being hated by those who surround it. That truly wants to control the fate of others. At the core, we are all the same. But what we actually do, can be very different, and can bring about terrible pain and suffering. To end it, we sometimes go to war, and either succeed, or not. Sometimes, as in the case of 1967, we bring upon ourselves more suffering for another half century.

I’m afraid of confrontation not only for you, also for us. It’s one thing to know tanks and infantry are killing one another tens or hundreds of kilometers away. It’s a whole other thing seeing hundreds or thousands of missiles dropping on every town and village around you. We are far less “accustomed” to the latter, and may react too harshly as a result. I’m not ready to take that chance. I don’t think you should be either.

I know it’s easy to say everything I’m saying, from my side, the Occupier’s side. But I’m still trying to point out to you our “soft spot”, where not bullets will penetrate, but rather words. And you can do it, far better than I can…

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December 22nd, 2009, 9:20 am

 

34. ausamaa said:

So what do we learn from some of the about?

Israel is invincible (never mind few short falls in the past), and it will remain so for ever. Time is standing still in Israel’s favour. The fall of other tyrants/occupiers/oppressors is an illusion. South Africa is still an Aparthaid regime, the US and France are ruling Vietnam, The mighty USSR is winning the war against the Afghanies, Britan still rules the world, and so does the Ottoman Empire, and if imeissed anything please accept my appologies, but many similar examples can be found in the smallest library near you.

Hence, Syrians, Palestinians, Arabs and what have you, MUST either go out of their way and Kiss and Make Up the Israelies because many Israelies see things in the same light Shai them OR they will definitly suffer otherwise. Worse, many Israelies -like Shai- really beleive that things can go on like this forever. They do not see the WALL let alone the WRITING on the WALL! Gunsights can be obtrusive at times, you know. But never mind.

Nice proposal, big on day dreams, but short on objective analysis and as far removed from current reality as it can be. Reminds one of a drunk sitting at the bar at one in the morning next to an uniterested woman and thinking to himself: I may be little drunk, but what the hell, I can handle it, and she will eventually start coming around. Bartender, give me another scothch. And make it Double!

Any way, I am sure some Arabs will entertain the thoughts suggested and launch that Peace Attack on Invincible Israel. Some. Maybe! And, Israelies, do not change your ways, keep waiting, that attack will come. Maybe!

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December 22nd, 2009, 10:01 am

 

35. ausamaa said:

Unfortunatly, the above “convictions” as proffessed by Shai (and those many like him on his side as he says) implicitly leads one to ask (contemplate is a better word perhaps) wether Israel SEES a need for itself to engage in any REAL peacemaking effort? In other words, what is in PEACE for Israel, hence is Peace a true Israeli option? Is a Peaceful situation GOOD for Israel in the long term, or to put it another way: is an “Israel” feasible in Peaceful situation? And please do not raise your eyebrows and tell me: are you serious? EVERY ONE wants Peace!

If the answer is YES, then why is Israel stalling or waiting for a Syrian Peace Attack, if the answer is No ( which I happen to strongly beleive in but for reasons other than Shai’s), then what is the need for any Peace Attack by the Syrians or the Arabs?

Just a small thought.

But a fundemental one indeed!

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December 22nd, 2009, 10:51 am

 

36. Shai said:

Dear Ausamaa,

Somehow, I didn’t expect you to react differently… 🙂

Listen, what you don’t seem to realize maybe, is that you HAVE already tried everything else you’re suggesting. You went to war against Israel, and not only is there no peace, we took your territory, annexed it, and now consider it ours. You supported proxy “resistance” organizations, and got no land back. And yes, you also tried negotiations, and got nowhere far.

Please don’t make me seem like some wishful-thinker that believes in making love not war. I don’t know that this “Peace Attack” you’re referring to will work any better than any of the other attempts you or we have tried. I don’t sit there all day putting daisies in my hair, looking at that uninterested woman and saying “maybe she will…” I’m actually spending precious moment sitting with my enemies, and trying to better understand them, and to explain myself better. There are some in my country who think this is also a useless exercise, and that the only way to talk to you is via your “obtrusive-at-times” gunsight. Speaking of that, I don’t know how much experience you have at gunsights, but unfortunately I do, as an ex-soldier. I know what it’s like to prepare for war, for killing, and how it destroys a part of you with each day that you do so. I’ve also seen the horrific damage and destruction that “conquest” brings. And unlike you, I actually fear the next war could be far worse than what you may have “read about”.

I know it’s hard hearing so-called “Liberals” suggesting that the Arabs may have a more effective way of getting through to this belligerent neighborhood bully called Israel. I know it’s difficult for you to contemplate the notion of the victim coming to the victimizer. I know you seek justice and honor, far more than you seek a solution. But you will have none of those, if you continue to preach only your vision. If you continue to look the prism only through your eyes, and not through the other side’s as well.

With Norman, at least I know he’s still listening. With you, I very much doubt it. Go ahead – the next “double” is on me…

(As for your last comment, give me a ‘fricken break. If Israel wasn’t interested in Peace, why did we give back the Sinai? Why did Sharon, butcher-of-Lebanon, get voted into power specifically to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank? Why did 4 Israeli Prime Ministers go talk to the Syrians about returning the Golan? Because YOU don’t happen to believe Israel “wants” peace, does not mean we really don’t want it, does it? I could easily suggest that you, Ausamaa, by supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran, also don’t want peace. But I’m sure I’m wrong… )

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December 22nd, 2009, 11:02 am

 

37. ausamaa said:

I am sure enough that you did not expect me to react differently. How could you? You know that I know that you know that I know sort of thing.

As to giving the Sinai back, I bet you Israel did not do out of the mere goodness of its own good heart. Being an ex-soldier yourself, I am sure that you know how frightening those Eygptian tanks and soldiers must have looked to the Israelies on given morning in October 1973. Call it a must-do thing, call it a strategic move to decouple the military streangth of Syria and Egypt, call it whatever you want. But using the giving the Sinai back as an example of Israel’s interest in Peace or as an Israeli expression of Good Will is the mother of all joks. Actually, your bringing this up as an example helps to only “unprove” that for the Arabs to initiate and follow a PEACE ATTACK approach you want the Arabs to adopt is a dead end road. It only proves thar it was military force which have forced Israel to concede land, not any other noble thoughts, intentions or feelings. Had Israel returned the Saini befor the war, then that would have been an example of good charity practices. But returning the Saini after the 1973 war is a very good indication of what makes/motivates Israeli goodwill click a bit faster than “usual”.

But again we both know that we both know that we both know! So, let us not overstretch the arguments any further.

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December 22nd, 2009, 11:31 am

 

38. Shai said:

Ausamaa,

You’re right, we “both know”. Btw, Israel fought against those fierce Egyptian tanks also before 1973, and didn’t return territory. It was Sadat that convinced Israel, not the fierce and encircled 2nd Egyptian Army.

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December 22nd, 2009, 1:25 pm

 

39. ilona@israel said:

iran fight with iraq, china and russia against iran, at the same time russia sells to iran s-300, usa suppirt everybody and press everybody…oh my! all i want and i belive most of israeli citizens will agree with me-is a normal peacfull dialogue between our countries.

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December 22nd, 2009, 6:35 pm

 

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