Is the Notion of Syria Getting Back the Golan a Pipe Dream?

IsraeliGuy, a frequent commenter on SC, reminds us that the notion of Syria getting the Golan back is wildly unpopular in Israel, where the region's wines, skiing, and happy life-style have become a much-loved feature of Israeli life. Clinging to the Golan in Israel is not just about security, it is life-style. Israelis just want to have fun. Here are the poll findings:

padGolan Heights Winery, Kosher, Galilee, Israel

Golan is a brand representing affordable, young, quality wines providing excellent value for money.

Post Annapolis poll – some real figures from a real survey in Israel. From the article: “On the question of Syria, 62 percent said Israel should engage in talks with its foe, while 35 percent opposed.

But 69 percent said they opposed Israel giving up the Golan Heights plateau — captured from Syria in 1967 and demanded back by Damascus in any peace deal — in return for full peace, with only 28 percent supporting the move.”

To the full article, which includes more figures.

Here is what AnotherIsraeliGuy adds:

As I see it, there will be no war in Lebanon or Syria, for the next 5 years. Hizballah cannot afford a war and neither can the Syrian regime. Given that, Israel is not going to rush to make any deal with Asad. The deal Israel is looking for is a lease on the Golan and a flip. This is very far from the Syrian position. Barak has just said that he will not leave the government and induce elections because then Netanyahu will be elected. The chances of a deal with Syria in the next 5 years are slim to none.

What will happen to the wineries of the Golan Heights, a long term lease? (thanks why-discuss)

“…Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer to Syria to return the Golan Heights in a directly negotiated land-for-peace deal again raises a big question for fans of Israeli wine. What might become of the Golan Heights Winery?

…Attention focuses on the 5.4m-bottle winery, because it is generally deemed Israel’s best. Its Yarden, Gamla and Golan labels are famous internationally. Yarden wines made their mark in America in the 1980s by inspiring a kosher wine revolution, reshaping preferences from sweet to dry.”

Speculation centers on a hope that Damascus might be open to a peace treaty that allowed the Golan Heights Winery and others to remain in operation on the plateau, perhaps under a long-term lease arrangement.

Aluf Benn sums it up in haaretz:

There is a new idea dominating public discourse: Israel will recognize Syrian sovereignty over the Golan Heights and hold the territory under a long-term lease agreement. The towns and military camps will stay in place, with a Syrian flag over them, and in the meantime we will see whether the Syrians behave themselves, conduct a neighborly policy and maintain a stable regime. This way we can stay on the Golan and feel as if it isn't ours, fulfill the Israeli dream of not being suckers, talk with the Syrians and give them nothing for it. Peace in return for peace.

The initiative of sovereignty/lease is backed by ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Meir Sheetrit. They were joined late last week by MK Ami Ayalon, who is a candidate for the leadership of the Labor Party and is trying to shake off his leftist image and outflank his rival, Ehud Barak, who nearly returned the Golan to Syria seven years ago. The three disagree on one thing: Lieberman is proposing a leasing agreement for a period of 99 years, Sheetrit will make do with 25 years, and Ayalon told Gidi Weitz in an interview for Haaretz Magazine he is talking about "50 or 80 years."

Those in the know and who are familiar with the detailed history of the negotiations with Syria say Damascus will not agree to such a proposal. They believe that at best it is possible to talk about a shared park over the territory in dispute, along the bank of Lake Kinneret, but not about maintaining Israeli infrastructure over the entire Golan.

Before Bashar Assad is asked about his opinion, it is worthwhile to point out four problems inherent in the leasing idea. "The British also leased Hong Kong." That is not accurate. Britain occupied Hong Kong during the Opium Wars and established there a Crown Colony with Chinese agreement for an indefinite period of time. Later the British leased more territory (the "new territories") for 99 years. At the end of the lease period, Britain restored to China the territory it had leased, as well as the colony. Unlike the Israeli occupation of the Golan, which brought about the displacement of most of the Syrian residents there and the destruction of their villages, the British kept the Chinese residents in place and even looked after their rights, and did not settle in their place farmers from Devonshire and Scotland.

Zubaida says:

Regarding the wineries, it may or may not be relevant that the Syrian Economy Ministry earlier this month authorised the import of wine, beer, cider, spirits and liqueurs as part of the government's avowed commitment to trade liberalisation.(Syria-News.com November 22nd)

Comments (37)


1. Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh summerizes IsraeliGuy’s thoughts on the Golan:

IsraeliGuy, a frequent commenter on SC, reminds us that the notion of Syria getting the Golan back is wildly unpopular in Israel, where the region’s wines, skiing, and happy life-style have become a much-loved feature of Israeli life. Clinging to the Golan in Israel is not just about security, it is life-style. Israelis just want to have fun.

Professor Josh,

Can I see this quote from IsraeliGuy? I find this hard to believe. Please show me you didn’t make all this up.

The Golan is a beautiful area, but I’m not sure that “happy-life-style” and “fun” the area residents engage in on a daily basis.

I’m not Israeli, but I have to believe that thousands of missiles landing inside Israel have more of an impact on the peace process than “happy life-styles” and “fun”.

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November 30th, 2007, 5:37 pm

 

2. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Josh,
You are confusing two different posters. IG did link to the poll (but never said anything about life style).

The next paragraph was posted by me:
As I see it, there will be no war in Lebanon or Syria, for the next 5 years. Hizballah cannot afford a war and neither can the Syrian regime. Given that, Israel is not going to rush to make any deal with Asad. The deal Israel is looking for is a lease on the Golan and a flip. This is very far from the Syrian position. Barak has just said that he will not leave the government and induce elections because then Netanyahu will be elected. The chances of a deal with Syria in the next 5 years are slim to none.

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November 30th, 2007, 7:28 pm

 

3. Joshua said:

AIG

I have corrected it now. Thanks for your addition.

Akbar P. is quite correct. The first paragraph is mine. The indented paragraphs belong to others.

I think the main point made by the Israeli guys is to let Syrians know that they should not dream of getting back the Golan Heights.

1. Israelis like the Golan and do not favor giving it back; although, they do not mind their government talking with Syria.

2. Syria is too weak to convince Israel of the benefits of returning the Golan. It does not dare kill Israelis whether through direct confrontation or by way of proxies such as Hizbullah, which has been hemmed in.

Best, JL

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November 30th, 2007, 7:43 pm

 

4. Alex said:

Joshua

As I said in the previous post … the process did not start yet … and we already have 30+% support … it will go over 50% … I am confident it will.

Our Israeliguys are more pessimistic than some of us : )

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November 30th, 2007, 7:50 pm

 

5. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
As I explained before the 30% support is mostly for something Asad will not accept, a lease and a flip. But optimism is good. Why don’t you take ads in Israeli papers and try convincing people?

Or even better, why don’t you get Asad to agree to a lease? I think then more than 50% of Israelis would support your position.

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November 30th, 2007, 8:39 pm

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

Professor J. -

Thanks for the response and correction. It just didn’t sound like an Israeli-type comment. Neither does your clarification:

1. Israelis like the Golan and do not favor giving it back; although, they do not mind their government talking with Syria.

It is not a question of “like” or “dislike” to me and most Israelis. It is an integral part of the State of Israel. It is not Nablus, Hebron, or even Gaza. It is not an area of land where Israel is in danger of absorbing the total population or has a population that is at war with. Conversely, the GOI has absorbed the total population and everyone there is an Israeli citizen.

Lastly, and just important, it is a vital strategic land asset like the Sinai. It provides an smaller, existential buffer between Israel and a terror-supporting Baathist regime that has tried destroy Israel on more than one occasion.

I’ll rewrite your comment the way it should be written:

Israelis love the Golan and will not give it back unless a true and lasting peace treaty is attained.

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November 30th, 2007, 9:34 pm

 

7. IsraeliGuy said:

Joshua, indeed many Israelis associate the Golan with lifestyle, ski, good wine and spoiling guest rooms (or Zimmers, as they’re called here).

Most Israelis live in urban areas.
When they want to escape the daily routine and pamper themselves (inside Israel) – the Golan is a very popular and attractive destination.

However, only a tiny minority of Israelis who oppose to give the Golan to Syria, take this stand for ‘lifestyle’ reasons.

The most popular reasons are security related and ‘bad deal’ arguments.
There are some other reasons, but the fear of lifestyle quality loss is not one of them.

If you’ll run a survey only on people who oppose giving the Golan to Syria and ask them to give you their primary reason for that, I believe that only 0%-1% will say that it’s because they don’t want to lose a great vacation spot or a great ski resort.

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November 30th, 2007, 9:44 pm

 

8. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, let me tell you where you’re wrong, in my opinion.

As you see, 28% of Israelis support giving the Golan to Syria for a peace deal and 69% oppose such a move.

You see the 28% as a source for optimism, saying that you only need to persuade twenty something percents more – but let me tell you why I think you’re not reading the map correctly.

ANY survey will start with a MINIMAL support of 25%-28%, anytime, under any circumstances – regardless of the peace deal terms.

Why? very simple.
Practically all Israeli Arabs + the Jewish far left (Meretz party supporters) will support it – ALWAYS.

So you see, you practically can’t go down from 25%-28% – and that sounds like a lot – right?
However, going up from this level is very difficult.

I suppose that something between 33% to 40% will automatically object to ANY peace with Syria – regardless of the terms (right wing supporters).

As for the rest 32%-42%, it depends on the terms.
This group will usually not reject unconditional talks, but will reject anything that it will not see as a ‘good deal’ for Israel, by its standards.

A ‘peace for peace’ deal will surely get a solid majority of supporters – at least 60%-65%.

As for a peace for the Golan offer – you have the results.
Only the Israeli Arabs and the far left support it (28%).

A lot have changed since the last time Israel and Syria had talks.
The Iranian nuclear threat gained a lot of momentum (Syria’s ally), we had a war with Hizbollah (Syria’s ally), Hamas is firing rockets on Israelis in southern Israel (Syria’s ally).

This brings the Israeli public opinion’s will to deal with Syria to probably a record low level.

The few political figures that do try to push the idea, support it only in the context of a 180 degrees Syrian flipping – in terms of its policy towards Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas, something you already know.

The Golan leasing option, will surely increase the number of supporters.
Will it create an actual majority?
My guess is that it depends on the lease terms and how much flipping will Syria actually do.

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November 30th, 2007, 10:23 pm

 

9. Enlightened said:

AIG, IG and AP, your arguments are complete nonsense. Let me put this into perspective for you. Lets leave aside the argument its a lifestyle choice, The wineries, skiing, pampering, holiday retreats, leg waxings, sun tannings etc etc etc etc

I ask you all one pertinent question is The Golan legally Israels to hang on to as a spoil of war? ( please dont start who was to blame for the 67 war i don’t need a history lesson). Now if you believe in the basis of adherence to the the rule of Law, then Israel must give back the Golan, its pure and simple. Gentlemen the rest is all semantics, whether its a leaseback, open to both populations, a peacepark, you put a Disneyland there whatever!

Too often peace has been missed by both sides because of belligerence, there is a growing swell of people who are getting sick of this on both sides of the fence. The only way forward is to start talking.

The last word goes to Akbar “I’ll rewrite your comment the way it should be written:Israelis love the Golan and will not give it back unless a true and lasting peace treaty is attained.”

Which translated in Akbar talk means we will make peace difficult to achieve, therefore we will hang on to the Golan, just because we can!

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November 30th, 2007, 10:31 pm

 
 

11. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Israel annexed the Golan by law. For Israelis, Israeli law trumps international law. Therefore, there is no legal issue.

You may want to frame it as a moral or political issue, but for Israelis it is not a legal issue.

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November 30th, 2007, 11:09 pm

 

12. Helena Cobban said:

Y’all seem to be coming at this question as if there is no history here! The two most relevant histories that I see are that of Sinai in the late ’70s, and of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations that took place in the 1990s.

Of course, in the mid- and late 1970s, many Israelis could not “imagine” not keeping control over Sinai forever. They had their lovely seaside settlements and resorts there. They had their awesome skindiving and scuba in the Gulf of Aqaba. They had their wild desrt wastes that allowed them all to play adventurer in the high dunes, etc, etc.

Guess what?

Total land for peace deal. Israel’s state power and settlers and army all had to withdraw. (Sharon tried– as later, in Gaza– to make the settler evacuations into a “wrenching human tragedy”. But it happened. Many former settlers did very nicely thank you out of the financial settlement– see, e.g., the “Yamit Hotel” in seashore Tel Aviv, etc etc.)

And under the terms of the peace agreement, Israelis are still free to go visit Sinai’s scuba-diving resorts, the high dunes, etc. And the whole of Sinai is covered by a well-monitored demilitarization regime. No biggie.

Okay, that’s the model Syria and Israel were looking for during the negotiations of the 1990s. readers here who know little about the amazing amount of progress made during those negotiations should read my 2000 USIP book about them. No foreseeable Syrian leader is going to accept anything less than a full-Sinai-type deal. (Q.v. the failure of Barak’s nickel-and-diming territorial offer delivered by Clinton at Geneva, 2000.)

But in the context of a withdrawal-based peace, this doesn’t mean Israelis can’t visit the ski resorts and lovely open spaces of Golan, etc. It does, however, mean that the quarter-million-plus Syrians who are Golanis displaced from their ancestral homes and farms for the past 40 years can return to them.

I’ve been writing quite a lot about all aspects of the Golan/Syrian issue over the years, including recently at my Just World News blog. In one recent post I wrote quite a bit about the human dimension of the Golan issue. That post has links to several other informative items available on the web, including an excellent recent English-Jazeera documentary on the human dimension of Golan, available thru You-Tube, and a series of articles I wrote on the same topic after a reporting trip I made in 1998.

Bottom line: A Sinai-type deal, but this time in the context of a final, comprehensive peace on all tracks of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The idea that Israel’s unilateral act of Anschluss in 1981 means anything in real terms is quite ridiculous. What we are talking about here is the prospect of a final end to 60 years of Israeli-Arab war. Israelis will be able to visit Syria, and Syrians to visit Israel… Meantime, none of us should be doing anything to support the viability of the settler-run industries on Golan. Their wine ain’t that great anyway. (The apples grown by Golan’s remaining indigenous Syrian citizens, meanwhile, are really superb.)

Btw, Josh, if you’re using maps, you’d really do better to use maps that show (a) the five large villlages/towns that house the area’s remaining Syrian residents, not seen in the maps you use here, and (b) preferably also the many towns, villages, and hamlets that existed before 1967, which were largely evacuated by their residents during and right after the 1967 war, also not shown here. The FMEP maps are pretty good.

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November 30th, 2007, 11:36 pm

 

13. IsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened asked:

“I ask you all one pertinent question is The Golan legally Israels to hang on to as a spoil of war? ( please dont start who was to blame for the 67 war i don’t need a history lesson). Now if you believe in the basis of adherence to the the rule of Law, then Israel must give back the Golan, its pure and simple.”

Enlightened,

When Syria attacked Israel in 1948, was it in accordance with international law?

Please let me remind you that the then UN Secretary-General, Trygvie Lee, defined it as “the first instance of armed aggression since the end of World War II.”

And when Syria attacked Israel in 67 and 73, was it in accordance with international law?
You see, Enlightened – in my opinion, you can’t use international law only when it suits you.

Syria was the first to break it, so most Israelis usually laugh when they hear this argument from Syria or from other Arab countries that paid very little attention to international law during their long ‘relationship’ with Israel.

The Arab governments fell in love with international law only after they understood that they can’t beat Israel by force.

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November 30th, 2007, 11:47 pm

 

14. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Helena,
“The idea that Israel’s unilateral act of Anschluss in 1981 means anything in real terms is quite ridiculous.”

Right, what Israel did is exactly what the Nazis did with Austria. What antisemitic BS. The Israeli law means a lot to Israelis whatever you think. If you don’t vote in Israel, your opinion really doesn’t count. But please, feel free to continue educating us.

And if you think “history” will be repeated, you are sorely mistaken. Things have changed drastically since the Camp David Accords. First, Israel has peace with 2 Arab countries already, second, the cold war is over, third, there was the second intifada in which Asad supported and funded the killing of 1000 Israeli civillians by suicide killings. Nobody is going to forget that.

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December 1st, 2007, 12:02 am

 

15. Helena Cobban said:

Oh c’mon. Anschluss is the German word for annexation. Israel’s annexation of Golan might “mean a lot” to Israelis But under international law it means nothing.

It’s very common that when people don’t want to engage with an argument, or new information, or views with which they disagree that they accuse the author of those views of being “anti-semitic” or “bigoted” or whatever. That is nonsense, too. People are certainly able to criticize the policies of Israeli governments without being anti-semitic. Throwing the “anti-semitic” label around is childish, diversionary, and achieves nothing.

Meantime, try going over to look at some of the info and resources I have on my blog post there. Guess what? You might learn something.

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December 1st, 2007, 12:19 am

 

16. Helena Cobban said:

Also, keeping Golan might well “mean a lot” to many Israelis. But I personally know many Israelis who would be willing to withdraw from it in the context of a robust peace with Syria. Both Rabin and Peres and many other political leaders were ready to do that back in the 1990s. So it is by no means graven in stone that “Golan will remain Israeli forever.”

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December 1st, 2007, 12:22 am

 

17. Alex said:

AIG,

Please realize that it is outrageous to call people anti Semitic every time they criticize Israel.

You seem to easily conclude that any non Arab who supports the Arabs must be doing it because she/he hates Jews. you did the same with SimoHurtta.

use common sense! .. Helena just liked to her book that she wrote for the United States Institute of Peace … Don’t you think they would have done their homework and disassociated from her if she was anywhere close to being an Anti Semite??

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December 1st, 2007, 12:30 am

 

18. Disaffection said:

IG, is this a joke? “when Syria attacked Israel in 1948″? 1948? a state forged as a result of zionist terrorist activity, displacing the local population? Was that in accordance with international law? Terrorising the locals and to an extent the British mandate forces, was that in accordance with international law? oh wait, thats excusable because you’ve just come out of the European nightmare.
Your Israel was in a state of war by default with all arabs. what did you expect? a cookie? people to sit back and congratulate? Israel wasn’t even admitted to the United Nations til may 1949. the Syrian/Egyptian mistake was not attacking Israel, It was not finishing the job they started. The elimination of Zionist terrorism

Your problem, as well as the rest of the filth out there, is that you consider the 1948 beginning was in peace with the surrounding and total harmony with the environment. how dare those crazy arabs being such a pain when all you want to do is annex Palestine and establish someting new, fresh, and improved, like some washing powder. And to think they were understanding, its beyond any sensibilities..

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December 1st, 2007, 12:37 am

 

19. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Any educated person knows what the word Anschluss (when not used while speaking German) means only one thing, the annexation of Austria by Germany.
Why don’t you try searching Anschluss in google?
Your first hit is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anschluss

You can criticize Israel for the law that annexes the Golan to Israel. I have no problem with that. But you chose to you use an antisemitic slur and imply that Israelis acted like the Nazis. I find that disgusting.

I don’t know who the USIP are, but they should certainly reexamine their ties with Helena.

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December 1st, 2007, 12:43 am

 

20. Enlightened said:

AIG said: “Enlightened,Israel annexed the Golan by law. For Israelis, Israeli law trumps international law. Therefore, there is no legal issue.” ( Much the same argument the Syrians are using against the tribunal hanging over them Syrian citizens will be tried before Syrian Law, which trumps International Law) So small minded from you AIG.

What more can I say! But as Helen has said there is a precedent with Israeli hand over of The Sinai!

IG said: “When Syria attacked Israel in 1948, was it in accordance with international law? ”

Both sides were in dispute( Arab, Jew), you cannot pass a moral judgement both sides are to blame, you cannot use past actions to continually pass moral judgments and say the other side is to blame, both sides share equal responsibility for post 48, and after 48. You cannot claim the high moral ground, the arabs have no right to do so either.

Hence forth it is clear from both of you that Israeli attitudes regarding the return of The Golan are not positive ( Both residents of Israel I presume, I know Akbar lives in the states). Enjoy your Golani wine, and ski trips, and leg waxings on your retreats. But just a caution Israeli attitudes regarding the return of The Sinai were just as hard, but it was returned!

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December 1st, 2007, 12:45 am

 

21. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

If Helena had said “The idea that Israel’s unilateral act of annexation in 1981…” etc – then this is totally legitimate criticism.

I’m not criticizing her act of criticism.
She’s entitled to criticize anybody she wants, for as long as she wants.

However, we all speak English here, this is not a German blog and in my opinion, using the word ‘Anschluss’, tells a lot about her.

Disaffection,

One question: was attacking Israel legal, in terms of international law?

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December 1st, 2007, 12:53 am

 

22. Disaffection said:

hmm right, IG, she must be a neo-nazi. cant mention any word that could be german or even german sounding please guys. you dont want to come across as anti-Semitic. we are scraping the barrel aren’t we?

i asked you first, was the Zionist activity pre and up to 48, building and aiming to annex and establish a new homeland in place of another one, legal under international law?
or was it only legal under Israeli law which as your fellow comrade explicitly mentioned above, trumps international law. that chip on the shoulder just doesn’t wanna get flicked.

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December 1st, 2007, 1:04 am

 

23. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Disaffection,
Let me answer in case IG has gone to bed. All the Israeli building pre 48 was legal from an international point of view because it was done under the British Mandate which was granted by the precursor to the UN, the league of Nations. And the partition granted by the UN 60 years ago yesterday, is of course legal from an international law point of view. You have no leg to stand on.

The first party to defy international law were the Arabs by rejecting the partition resolution.

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December 1st, 2007, 1:11 am

 

24. IsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,

I don’t accept the premise of your argument, but let’s say that the Jews and Arabs that lived under the British mandate, were in dispute.

Can another country, such as Syria, attack Israel – under international law?

For instance: if you and Turkey will fight each other and Israel will suddenly use the opportunity to attack Syria, do you agree that it’s a violation of international law?

You finished your comment saying: “But just a caution Israeli attitudes regarding the return of The Sinai were just as hard, but it was returned!”

Well, you’re right about history and theoretically anything can happen in the future.
I’m not a fortune teller and I don’t have magic powers.

However, I do live here, I do know my people, I’m very familiar with the political system here and I know the difference between now and then.

Whether you’ll acknowledge it or not, the circumstances and the regional reality have changed dramatically.
That’s how most Israelis see it anyway.

Regardless of my personal opinion, I’m not claiming that Israel will never give the Golan to Syria.
‘Never’ is a huge word.

However, I’m 100% positive in one thing: you won’t see a skinny deal such as we had with Egypt, meaning all the Golan for simple diplomatic relationship, a piece of paper and 2 embassies.

With no MAJOR Syrian flipping and without a 180 degree change in Syria’s policies, I know that such a deal will not materialize.

You may see talks, meetings, negotiations – but it will not lead to anything unless Syria will transform to ‘New Syria’, something which many here (including myself) predict that will not happen.

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December 1st, 2007, 1:27 am

 

25. Disaffection said:

AIG, your mistaken, pre 48 zionist activity constitutes as terrorism regardless what mandate it belonged to at the time. It was called the “Mandate of Palestine” or “the British mandate of Palestine” since 1923 and not the Mandate of Israel, the clue is in the name. For zionist thugs to kickstart violent uprising can only be described as terrorism, not resistance. Its not their land to start with. The mandates were setup due to the break up of the Ottoman empire (as well as colonial ambitions). Hence, arabs on the other hand reserve the right to resist foreign occupation, whether its was british, french or zionist. You cannot legalize terrorism just like that sunshine.

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December 1st, 2007, 1:35 am

 

26. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are wrong. The British Mandate was the governing power in Palestine, and whatever the Jews built was governed by the laws in place and was therefore legal. It is as simple as that.

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December 1st, 2007, 1:40 am

 

27. Disaffection said:

whatever makes you sleep at night AIG. your state is legitimate (as legitimate as Edward IV as discovered by Tony Robinson) and came to exist by a popular heroic struggle. The Palestinians and the new immigrants shipped from Europe collectively called for the creation of Israel and Britain was only too happy to oblige for such democratic turnout. Its just those local arabs that changed their minds all of a sudden recently.
have a read
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Mandate_of_Palestine

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December 1st, 2007, 2:09 am

 

28. Enlightened said:

IG said:

“I don’t accept the premise of your argument, but let’s say that the Jews and Arabs that lived under the British mandate, were in dispute.

Can another country, such as Syria, attack Israel – under international law?

IG, let me categorically state to you I am a very very firm believer in NON Violence- period. When as a child, learning about the conflict, my parents are Lebanese but we have strong familial ties to Syria, i read a lot of books, my reasoned conclusions to the conflict, was that and I still believe it was that both sides are as equally to blame, we can argue this until we are blue in the face.

We bought our first house of a Jewish family here in Australia, I remember ( David Cohen speaking with my father about the conflict, he brought up a valid point that when he said that the Arabs have 22 countries from which they can live, we Jews have One, my father told him he was right) . Many Arabs my father told him would want peace with Israel, but this was contingent on resolving the land and refugee issue. Let me elaborate that some also would not want peace with the Israelis, as some Israeli’s would not want peace with the Arabs.

The main reason we came to Australia was my Fathers contention that he did not want to bring up his future children in that climate and provide a future for them.

Your response was that Israel will not give up the Golan, unless it receives something tangible in return, which is a fair point, you don not get something for nothing, or your reasoning would be like this to the Syrians . ” I have something that you want ( The Golan), you have something that I want lets talk ( The ability to make peace)

“Whether you’ll acknowledge it or not, the circumstances and the regional reality have changed dramatically.
That’s how most Israelis see it anyway.

Correct a very valid point, this is a chance with all the Arab world wanting to make peace, its something like 60 years to resolve a conflict, and finally we might stop waiting for Godot.!

“You may see talks, meetings, negotiations – but it will not lead to anything unless Syria will transform to ‘New Syria’, something which many here (including myself) predict that will not happen.”

You might be right on this point, but lets assume that this New Syria might not eventuate are we all prepared for the inevitable consequences? Is it the chicken or the egg that came first IG?

LOL Il wait for Godot instead and i might never get to visit Jerusalem, and you might never get to visit Damascus and we will all remain faceless identities in the cyber world.

Dissafection: Just read the Link the whole situation was one F mess, My personal opinion that British under handedness in their dealings with both sides, was also replicated in The Indian division into three eventual states.

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December 1st, 2007, 2:13 am

 

29. IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Enlightened,

Let me start with you’re last point.

I assume that you have an Australian passport and therefor you won’t have any problem coming to Israel and visiting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat and you’re most welcome to my own city, Ramat Gan, which is right next to Tel Aviv.

You’ll be a very welcome guest here and I assure you you’ll enjoy your trip : )

Thanks for sharing your story about your father with me.
It showed a lot about him… and about his priorities in life… which were YOU (and your brothers & sisters, if you have ones).

He put your welfare, happiness and security, before any other consideration and was willing to sacrifice his comfort – for your future.

Now here’s one of the biggest obstacles to peace: the lack of Arab governments’ will to compromise and to sacrifice for the sake of peace.

Your father’s priority was YOUR WELFARE and he went halfway around the world, to guarantee your future.

This is not how I see Syria.
Syria’s priority is not peace, reconciliation and better & safer life for the Syrian people – but the Golan.

If it could obtain the Golan without signing on a piece of paper titled ‘peace treaty’ – it would have.
On the other hand, if it really wanted peace, as a #1 priority – it could have reached one.

However, Syria has a formula and it sticks to it as if it was the Quran itself.

It says ‘give us the Golan and we’ll give you a piece of paper’ – and nothing else.
Syria is practically saying: ‘My way or no way’.

Well, in such a case, most Israelis will choose the ‘no way’ option.

However, if things will change in Syria dramatically, if it will adapt new policies and if it will come forward with more flexible offers (such as leasing the Golan to Israel) – I’m sure it will reflect in Israeli public opinion polls which will be a sign for policy makers here to take new routes.

As long as public opinion here is so hostile towards Syria, no PM will be able to push for a deal.
The most he can do is ‘talk’ to Syria and check the offers it presents to Israel.

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December 1st, 2007, 3:08 am

 

30. norman said:

Syria will get the Golan only if it makes it costly for Israel to keep , that means war.

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December 1st, 2007, 3:46 am

 

31. Enlightened said:

IG, I am sure if that I visited you you would welcome me, but I will wait till peace is concluded. One of my close friends is a senior executive at Nestle and had a work trip to Israel a few years ago, having been brought up here, he found the experience of Soldiers bearing guns, heightened security a stifling atmosphere. It is the same reason I have not visited the Middle East , my wife has been several times and thinks I might be a bit too paranoid.

You are right about making the right choices for a populations welfare, thats where I think Arab Politicians/Rulers have failed miserably in the last sixty years ( I include Israels rulers in This, while they have economic prosperity and freedom it is always living under the specter of potential war).

I really cannot see a solution

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December 1st, 2007, 4:21 am

 

32. Alex said:

AIG,

Maybe this link can help you understand if the USIP is engaged in anti semitic activities and if they need your help and your judgment on who they should work with or not, based on their anti semitic nature.

Israeliguy,

You made a wrong assumption… that Syria wants the Golan back and will give Israel a piece of paper in return .. that Syria does not want to offer Israel any thing in return for the Golan.

I just want you to know that the Syrians are known to be good merchants. A Good merchant is not one who would sell a worthless piece of paper and demand a high price for it … that would be a crook.

Besides … until recently, your argument was: There is nothing the Syrians can offer us in return for the Golan … we don’t need anything from them … even normalizations with the rest of hte Arab world is worthless because we are selling enough of our products to Europe and north America anyway.

So … on the one hand you tell the Syrians that you are not interested in their only product … the “used Toyota”, and on the other hand (today) you complain that they are not giving you the right product in return for the Golan.

Please tell me what is the right product that you want to buy in exchange for giving Syria back the piece of land that you took from her and used for free for the past 40 years against international laws.

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December 1st, 2007, 7:52 am

 

33. IsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,

The choice is yours, but I think that your wife may have a point and maybe you are too paranoid : )

Most Israeli soldiers who travel from their home to their base or vice versa, carry their gun with them.
Israelis are used to it, but maybe it’s different for tourists.

But it’s not like you see soldiers everywhere, all the time.
There are no soldiers who are stationed on the streets of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat and the rest of Israeli cities.

In specific sensitive sites, such as the old city in Jerusalem for example, you have heightened security with armed policemen – but the average Israeli doesn’t have any ‘military presence’ near his home.

When you walk in an average Israeli city, I suppose it’s just like walking in Sidney or Melbourne.

I believe that your concern is associated with the scenes from Israel, that you used to see on TV.
I bet most of them included pictures of Israeli soldiers, but most Israelis live ordinary civilian life, just like you.

Some tourists that come here are ‘shocked’ to discover that the army is not everywhere and that 99% of us live pretty ordinary quiet life.

Some of them probably assume that when I get up in the morning, I wear my bullet proof vest and my helmet, trying to dodge bullets on my way to buy groceries… : )

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December 1st, 2007, 3:21 pm

 

34. IsraeliGuy said:

Dear Alex,

I’m not discounting the value of Syria or Syrians as a people and as human beings.
Every person is valuable, regardless of his religion, geographic location, etc.

However, when I compare the Syrian market to markets in North America, Europe or Asia – I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some major differences.

Even if the Syrian market will open up to Israel tomorrow morning, I don’t think it will have a meaningful effect on Israel’s economy.

As for the Arab world’s market, peace with Syria won’t open it up to Israelis.
At best, it will open the local Syrian market to Israelis, but that’s basically it.

And the general Arab market won’t deal with Israel until we have peace with the Palestinians – so peace with Syria can’t ‘deliver’ the general Arab market as one of the peace fruits.

And yes… even if the whole Arab market will open up to Israel tomorrow, I’m sure that our main source for income will remain North America, Europe and Asia.

To sum up my point: I don’t think that peace with Syria brings to Israel any meaningful economic fruits.

The real ‘products’ that Syria holds and actually mean something to Israel are mostly geopolitical and security related:

* Syria’s alliance with Iran
* Syria’s alliance with Hezbollah
* Syria’s alliance with Hamas
* Willingness to compromise and find workable solutions to the Golan issue (like leasing it).

If Syria will come forward with offers which address the above ingredients, you’ll see a positive change in public opinion in Israel, which will push Israel’s leadership towards a deal with Syria.

Sticking to the current Syrian formulas will lead the public opinion in Israel to stick to its positions too.
That’s how I read the situation, anyway.

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December 1st, 2007, 4:02 pm

 

35. Enlightened said:

IG; THe time lag here makes hard to respond I am always behind.

You might be right about the paranoia bit ! (lol). Just one thing I agree with Alex, peace will not be a worthless piece of paper, it means everything to us, it is the be all end all. It is the basis of all our religions no matter what you follow. It peace should not be a demand but a right for all of us, too much has been wasted in sixty years, it is an ideal we should all espouse and demand.

Peace will not be worthless, it will mean everything.

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December 2nd, 2007, 12:24 am

 

36. Helena Cobban said:

I will simply repeat that Israel’s act of unilaterally annexing Golan has no more relevance in international law than exactly similar acts in the past which we can note included Saddam Hussein’s act of “indimam” of Kuwait in 1990 or Germany’s “Anschluss” of Austria in 1936. Those words both simply mean, in the respective languages, “annexation.” In whatever language, it is always decried in international law.

Why, even the US government, which can often be very evasive regarding the legality of Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, is clear that the annexation of Golan has no legality.

“Anschluss” is simply the German-language word for annexation. I realize that the choice I made to use that word rather than annexation may have raised a few hackles, prehaps unnecessarily; and I’m sorry if I upset anyone by doing it. After all, what is important is to recognize the illegality of annexation as such and indeed, the core UN principle of the inadmissibility of territory by force.

But if my use of the term prompted a few readers here to look more objectively at the actual content of an annexation policy– as opposed to the feel-good, hilariously self-referential idea that Golan “just means such a lot to Israelis!”– then that’s good.

Reminder to Israeli and pro-Israeli friends: Golan also “means a lot” to Syrians and other Arabs. And in particular it means a lot to the 20,000 Syrians who still live in their families’ ancestral towns and villages, while continuing to endure the extremely discriminatory and intrusive rule of the foreign occupying power, and to the quarter-million-plus Syrians who are also, to an equal extent, “ancestral sons and daughters” of Golan but who have been forced by Israeli policy to live in exile from their families’ ancestral homes and farms for more than 40 years now.

(As for all the huffing and puffing about “We have to check out this USIP and investigate Helena’s relation to it”, you guys are almost endearing in your ignorance and the blatancy and hamfistedness of your attempt to consider a campaign of intimidation against me…. You would do a lot better to spend your time doing some constructive thinking about how Israel can build the kinds of relationships of mutual respect and reciprocity with its neighbors that are the only longterm guarantor of any nation’s security and thriving. One hint: annexing other people’s lands and then relying only on military force and intimidation to keep those others at bay is NOT a longterm recipe for anyone’s peace and wellbeing. Or, as Israelis say, for their “shalom”.)

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December 2nd, 2007, 10:07 pm

 

37. Majhool said:

Although late, here is my 2 cetns. If the people of Israel think like the American people think, then the Golan will not be returned to Syria given the current balance of power. Democracies, which i respect, represents the interests of their people, people are selfish, people (collectively) will not give something unless they have to.

Either The USA forces them to, or Syria build a sustainable economical and/or militaty power.

I say, make Syria democratic, choactic, much like Lebanon, and we will drive them out. My advice to those who really want the Golan back is to promote a democratic system in Syria, more precisly a parlimantary system.

Oh and BTY AIG stats seems way more realistic that those of Alex.

Salam

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December 4th, 2007, 4:00 am

 

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