Israeli-Syrian Peace: From Dialogue… to Details & Diplomacy

Posted by Qifa Nabki 

Thanks to all of the excellent participants on Syria Comment for generating a stimulating debate about the prospects and shape of a future Israeli-Syrian peace deal.

The comment board, as of this moment, is nearing 300 posts, amounting to 75,000 words, which is equivalent to a printed book over 200 pages long. While not all of the musings may be ready for print quite yet, the sheer volume and quality of many of the exchanges demonstrate that there is a real desire on both sides of the border for a solution to this decades-old problem.

Of course, the debate contained many dissenters, perhaps best characterized by the posts of Joe M. and AnotherIsraeliGuy:

Joe M. said:
For there to be peace, Israel must recognize its crimes (including the crime of its existence), it must admit to them, and it must repent. In my view, the best way for this to happen is similar to the history of South Africa. Until Israel allows Palestinians the rights of citizenship in their own land, there will not be peace. There will not be peace with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan… In the mean time, there will be periods without war, but there will not be peace.
It is up to Israel. Just as it was up to the whites of South Africa. The Jews have all the moral and political responsibility.

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:
…There will not be peace until the Arabs stop living in denial and understand that history has no rewind button.
But don’t worry, we Israelis can wait. Let’s talk again after 50 years of Hamas rule in Gaza and 50 years of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria and Egypt and 50 years of Hizballah rule in Lebanon. There is no hurry. I am sure the Arabs will be in a much better position then. We waited 60 years for peace, we can wait another 50.

 There were also many who expressed a cautious hopefulness, but pointed out the problems in Dr. Alon Liel’s proposal:  

ALEX said:
From all those discussions, I can summarize the most common objections to your plan in two lines
1) Peace Park implies partial Syrian sovereignty over the Golan.
2) Syrians Can’t allow their government to sell their friends or neighbors for their own selfish benefit.
To you those are the evil “Hamas” “Iran” and “Hizbollah” .. to the Syrian people they are really Half the Lebanese people, half the Palestinians, and … the 71 million Iranian people who consider Syria their best friend in the world.

AUSAMAA SAID:
…what Israel really needs is Peace with the Arabs, not Peace with Syria. Israel has Peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, but then what? Can an Israeli tourist walk Amman or Cairo streets with any sense of security?
So trying to do it by piecemeal is not a solution and would never produce results as long as the conflict is not put into its correct context. Land for Peace, yes, but with a full resolution to the main issue being the Palestinians. Peace with justice and without hegmony. That is what is needed. Peace, not Peace Treaties.

YAMAN SAID:
Mr. Liel’s attempt to guide the region to peace may be well-intentioned. But it certainly suffers from a few fatal flaws:
1) It links Damascus’ regional interests and activities as if they were based exclusively on territorial sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is in fact not the case since Damascus’ activities are influenced more by its positioning in a regional and international power dynamic rather than questions of territorial sovereignty.
2) In pursuing a road to “peace,” it asks of Damascus precisely what those on the road to war and isolation are asking: the isolation of Damascus from its regional allies (such as Iran, key Palestinian organizations, etc); a change in Syria’s “regional orientation,” which is a euphemism for the abandonment of what it perceives as its interests and independence; a false Syrian sovereignty which does not allow Syrians to live in the Heights, a Syrian military presence (something which Israel has never done, and nobody has ever dared to ask it to do) in the Heights, or even Syrian control of the natural resources on its own land.
3) Finally and furthermore, the only difference Liel’s approach has to that of the hawkish camps is that it seeks mostly non-violent means of eclipsing Syrian independence and sovereignty by bringing it under the wing of US and Israeli control (to serve the interests of those two powers), rather than a mostly violent military confrontation. These are superficial differences at best which might mean no loss of life in the immediate future, but are certainly not a resolution to the current situation.

 With these considerations in mind, several of the participants began debating particulars, and an important discussion emerged between Alon Liel, Shai, Alex, Sami D., and others. While most everyone seems to agree that what is needed is a “comprehensive peace”, it is still possible to detect two different approaches to the problem, on the Syrian/Arab side. The first is expressed by Sami D., who believes that Dr. Alon Liel’s proposal (which is much more progressive than the mainstream Israeli line) is still highly unrealistic. This approach makes it very difficult to imagine a Syrian-Israeli peace that is not accompanied by a complete solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict. 

Sami D. said:

Almost the entire presentation of Mr. Liel requires that Syrians commentators accept the Israeli propaganda portrayal of the conflict, which necessitates a reversal of cause and effect: That Israel came in peace, but that the Palestinians and Arabs are the aggressors, perhaps out of “their anti-Semitism.” Not only that, but a continuation of Israeli theft of water resources is expected to be respected and abetted by Syria!! “The Syrian window of opportunity is wide open” indeed, and has been since the beginning, to bow to Israeli conquest and US hegemony. And Syria might just do that, an indication of weakness.
The Israeli window of opportunity for real peace, on the other hand, has also been open for quite some time. Israel has the opportunity to make real peace by stopping its conquest and quest to dominate the region, on behalf of itself and the United States. Another important thing on the path of peace is for you Mr Liel, as for genuine peace-loving Israelis to, at minimum, respect the intelligence of the adversary.
Exchanging Israeli control and domination for a different means to achieve the same Israeli control and domination, using the required Orwellian language (“nature reserve” and “not depriving” Israel of Syrian water, etc) is not only an affront to peace, but an insult to the intelligence of the Syrians people. You make no obligations on Israel to stop any of its aggression, even basic gestures like ending its denial of Palestinian rights. In other words, what you propose is occupation in sheep’s clothing.
To achieve real peace there has to be basic parameters that both sides will agree on: Namely, basic human rights and international law – nothing novel about that. Occupation and subjugation of another people must end, land must get returned to its owners, resource theft ceased, right of return for refugees granted. We can’t dismiss these basic parameters as “impractical” or “not pragmatic” just to allay Israeli people’s insecurity, real or imagined, while in the process watching Israeli state conquer and take other people’s land and resources – the original reason of its supposed insecurity.

 Alex presents a slightly more hopeful approach, content to make headway toward a “comprehensive peace” through the example of a successful Syrian-Israeli deal. He addresses the obstacles below: 

 Alex said:

I understand Israel’s fears from Ahmadinejad’s Iran. He is not very friendly, and Iran is a powerful nation hwhich is in the process of acquiring nuclear technology. But I share Halevy’s opinion that dealing with Iran should not be through the use of force or even through sanctions. You should try to gain Iran back as a friend. You can… but only when you also try to gain, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians as friends… comprehensive peace, not separate deals. I’m afraid Israel is not close to agreeing with this suggestion.


Kicking Mashaal out of Damascus has one probably outcome … relations between Syria and the Palestinians will deteriorate. Syria worked for decades to become perhaps the most trustworthy Arab country in the minds of the Iranian and Palestinian people, and Israel is asking Syria to “drop those cards”…

So what will Israel get instead of “flipping Syria”?
1) Hizbollah will easily convert itself into a political party and turn its weapons to the Lebanese army…

2) Hamas will accept to moderate its views. It will practically agree to not interfere even if it officially does not accept Israel’s right to exist. Hamas will agree to a 50 year truce for example if Israel agrees to respect UN resolutions 242 and 338.

The Iranian threat has been highly exaggerated. It is more likely that there is a need in Washington and Israel to teach the Iranians a lesson for their daring to openly challenge both countries.

Confidence building measures:
Both countries need to produce some CBM’s. Syria is not the only side which needs to reach out.

The Syrians can try this one:

Organizing a large event to honor Syria’s Jews. Large numbers of Syrian Jews would be invited to Syria to participate in the festivities. it will show Israelis that Syria is proud of its Jews even though they are now outside. Syrian Jews would be very happy to come back to Damascus and Aleppo for few weeks to participate in such a festival.

Israel can simply start to use a different tone from the one used in Washington the past few years. There are no closed doors but … Treating Syria as an equal is a prerequisite to a successful start, or finish, of the peace process… Keep that part in mind and you will know how to get Syria more motivated.

________________________________________________________________________ 

In an effort to further instrumentalize this productive dialogue, I would like to challenge Syria Comment contributors to weigh in on the following questions:

1) If the only viable peace is a comprehensive one, do you believe that Syria should lead or follow? In other words, is it even useful to begin talking about a Syrian-Israeli deal, or must those details wait until the Middle East has transformed completely? (AIG and others would like to see democratic Arab regimes before peace, and Sami D. would like to see Israeli atonement and recognition for crimes committed against the Palestinians, before a regional deal is reached.) What do you believe?

2) Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s): A few CBM’s have been raised; can people suggest others that would help to pave the way for bolder policy initiatives?

3) Peace Park: The Israelis remind us that it was our idea in the first place. The Syrians don’t seem to think much of it. What do you say?

4) Hamas & Hizbullah: Alex and others have suggested that Hamas and Hizbullah can be moderated (or will moderate themselves) once a peace deal is reached. Do you believe this? How will this work?

Comments (148)


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101. Alex said:

Shai,

I don’t think separating peace with Syria from the next step (peace with the Palestinians) can wait “many years”… years during which Israeli troops continue to make life very difficult for the Palestinians while Syria enjoys the economic gains that will probably follow its own peace settlement with Israel.

There are ways to help Israelis not fear Syria’s troops on the West bank.

1) Within a year, Syria probably can (with the help of Saudi Arabia and the United States and France) help the Lebanese people find some acceptable political reform ideas that allow Hizbollah to drop its arms and turn to politics. That by itself is a concrete action that no one in Israel can argue with.

2) Syrian troops on the west bank and/or gaza would not have tanks or rockets … they will be mixed with European and Egyptian (or Jordanian) troops and officers. Certainly not going to throw the Jews in the sea that way.

3) More honest communication … Israeli people can be reminded that their country never respected tens of UN resolutions while Syria respected all international agreements and resolutions… Israelis are smart enough to see the truth when there is no constant attempt to distort it.

4) The Syrian army is more secular, more predictable and controlled than the other two “moderate Arab” armies. The Syrians are more experienced than the Egyptians because of their 30 years in Lebanon where they stopped the civil war in that complex country where every sect and every group had its own weapons, ideology, and foreign backer. Things are much simpler in the West Bank and Gaza .. besides, Syria is the least suspicious of Arab countries in the minds of the Palestinians … it will be the last country to be suspected of selling the Palestinian cause… only Syria is trusted by Palestinian hard liners.

By the way … This is my own suggestion/ idea, I am not sure if Damascus even likes it. But to me, it is a test of Israel’s ability to treat Syria as an equal. It is also a test of America’s ability to respect Syria’s role in the Middle East.

It all goes together .. but there are many solutions.

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February 2nd, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

102. Not me said:

AIG:

There is no need for democracy to find out how people feel about Israel. I can tell you that I know a lot of people from all walks of life, from the very religious to Bikini wearing, alcohol drinking atheists, THEY ALL HATE WHAT ISREAL DOES TO THE PALESTINIANS. THEY ALL DOUBT ISRAEL’S INTENTIONS. THEY ALL WOULD BE WILLING TO HAVE PEACE WITH ISRAEL, IF ONLY ISRAEL CONVINCES THEM THAT IT IS CHANGING ITS AGGRESSIVE AND EXPANSIONST BEHAVIOR. NO ONE REALLY BELIEVES YOU WANT PEACE.

Here is an honest american opinion:

THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2008
Life in Occupied Gaza
Life in Occupied Gaza – by Stephen Lendman

Life in occupied Gaza was never easy, but conditions worsened markedly after Hamas’ surprise January 2006 electoral victory. Israel refused recognition along with the US and the West. All outside aid was cut off, an economic embargo and sanctions were imposed, and the legitimate government was isolated. Stepped up repression followed along with repeated IDF incursions, attacks and arrests. Gaza’s people have been imprisoned in their own land and traumatized for months. No one outside the Territories cares or offers enough aid. Things then got worse.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, in league with Israel and the US, declared a “state of emergency last June 14 and illegally dismissed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity government. On June 15, he appointed former IMF and World Bank official Salam Fayyad prime minister even though his party got only 2% of the votes in the 2006 election. On June 17, Abbas swore in a new (illegitimate) 13 member “emergency” cabinet with plans for future elections, excluding Hamas.

Israel and the US showed gratitude. The West Bank embargo ended, Israel began releasing frozen Palestinian tax funds, and the US and European Union (EU) resumed aid to the PA but continued isolating Hamas in Gaza that since 1995 has been designated a terrorist organization. After passage of the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the State Department included Hamas among the first 30 groups designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in October 1997. It makes it illegal to provide funds or other material support. It also ignores how Israel once embraced Hamas in the 1980s.

It’s name means courage and bravery, and it’s also an abbreviation of Islamic Resistance Movement in Arabic. It grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood (that had roots in Egypt) and was formed in 1987 during the first Intifada. At the time, Israel offered support and used Hamas to counter the PLO’s nationalist threat under Arafat. Ever since, it’s been an effective resistance movement against repression, occupation and much more. It provides essential social services like medical clinics; education, including centers for women; free meals for children; financial and technical help to Palestinians whose homes Israel destroyed; aid to refugees in the camps; and youth and sports clubs for young people.

Hamas is also a formidable defender, and that gets it in trouble. It established the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, an elite military wing, and other security forces like its Tanfithya Executive Force for self-defense and law enforcement. Washington and Tel Aviv call it “terrorism” because Hamas wants the occupation ended, won’t surrender its sovereignty like Fatah did under Arafat and Abbas, is willing to recognize Israel (though that’s never reported), but only if Palestinians get equal recognition and what’s rightfully theirs – an independent homeland inside pre-1967 borders or one “state for all its citizens,” Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and others.

Instead, Hamas got isolated, hammered and called a “hostile entity” by Israel’s security cabinet. It was announced on September 19, sanctions on Gaza were tightened, and it was decided to “reduce the amount of megawattage provide(d) to the Strip, and Hamas will have to decide whether to provide electricity to hospitals or weapons lathes.” There was more as well – cutbacks in fuel, food, other essentials and even tighter border crossing restrictions.

Even before the latest crisis, Gaza was devastated. Its industrial production was down 90%, and its agricultural output was half its pre-2007 level. In addition, nearly all construction stopped, unemployment and poverty topped 80%, and by now it may be 90%. After September 19, it got worse when shops began running out of everything. Israel allows in only nine basic materials, their availability is spotty, and some essentials are banned, like certain medicines, and others restricted like fruit, milk and other dairy products. Before June 2007, 9000 commodities could be imported. Today, it’s down to 20, people don’t get enough food, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was unusually blunt in its criticism. In a November 2007 report called “Dignity Denied in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” it said:

“….Palestinians….face hardship (in) their (daily) lives; they are prevented from doing what makes up the daily fabric of most people’s existence. (They) face a deep human crisis, where millions of people are denied their human dignity. Not once in a while, but every day (and the people of Gaza are) trapped (and) sealed off.” The “humanitarian cost (is) enormous,” people can barely survive, “families unable to get enough food increased by 14%, (and) Palestinians (are) being trampled underfoot day after day. (In) Gaza (under siege, Palestinians) continue to pay for conflict and economic containment with their health and livelihoods. Cutting power and fuel further compounds their hardship.”

Let ‘em eat cake, walk, and live without light or heat is apparently Israel’s solution, and noted Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, took note. He calls it “genocide….to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip.” Knowing the facts, who can disagree.

Then there’s the matter of energy. With electricity restricted and fuel supplies reduced, Israel went further. It sealed its borders and cut all fuel shipments in response to Palestinian rocket attacks in and around the border town of Sderot. They’re fired in self-defense and used in response to repeated Israeli attacks that in the week of January 17 – 23 alone:

– killed 19 Palestinians along with three others from previous IDF-inflicted wounds;

– extra-judicially executed seven of the victims, including two women;

– wounded 71 Palestinians, including 24 children and three women;

– made 33 IDF incursions in the West Bank and five in Gaza;

– arrested 58 Palestinian civilians, including seven children, in the West Bank, and 32 in Gaza, including 3 children;

– destroyed five homes and razed agricultural land in Jabalya in northern Gaza;

– allowed further settler attacks against civilians and property in Hebron.

The same pattern continued the following week through Janauary 30 with more Israeli incursions, attacks and arrests. In the West Bank:

– Nablus was targeted and several Palestinian civilians arrested; several homes were also searched and ransacked in the villages of Kufer Kalil, Beit Dajan and Beit Fourik;

– the IDF seized six Palestinians in Jenin in a pre-dawn invasion; another followed theire several days later, the Israeli army opened fire randomly, one civilian was injured, four others arrested and a home was ransacked; several civilian homes were attacked and ransacked in the town of Qabatiya and village of Abu Da’eif in the northern West Bank; local sources reported unprovoked random gunfire by heavily armed troops in civilian neighborhoods;

– the IDF invaded Bethlehem, killed one civilian, arrested another, and injured seven others; eyewitnesses reported that local journalists were prevented from witnessing and documenting the incursion;

– several other West Bank cities were targeted and six civilians arrested: the Al Toor neighborhood in northern Jerusalem; the village of Beit Rima near Ramallah; Tulkarem city and the nearby Nur Shams refugee camp; and Jenin city.

These are malicious acts of aggression, abductions and wanton killing. Mostly civilians are targeted, and when Palestinians respond with crude Qassam rockets and children throw rocks, it’s called “terrorism.” Israel’s response – fiercer attacks and incursions in the Territories on any pretext or none at all and further tightening of its medieval siege on Gaza.

Its border crossings have been closed since June 2007, and severe restrictions were imposed on movement. Finally, food and fuel supplies were cut. Gaza’s power plant exhausted its supply, shut down, and the Strip went dark on January 20. Israel remained defiant, and Prime Minister Olmert announced….”as far as I am concerned, every resident of Gaza can walk because they have no gasoline for their vehicles,” and Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arye Meckel, told AP the blackout was “a Hamas ploy to pretend there is some kind of crisis to attract international sympathy.”

The Director of Gaza’s main Shiffa hospital, Dr. Hassan Khalaf, had a different view. He described the situation as “potentially disastrous.” Already Israel’s siege was directly responsible for 45 deaths, and he said cutting hospital power would cause 30 premature babies to die immediately. The World Health Organization was also alarmed. It said insufficient electricity “disrupt(s)….intensive care units, operating theatres, and emergency rooms (and) power shortages have interrupted refrigeration of perishable medical supplies, including vaccine.”

To operate at full capacity, Gaza needs 230 – 250 daily megawatts of electricity. Its only power plant supplies around 30% of it, but people in central Gaza and Gaza city are totally dependent on what can’t be supplied if industrial diesel fuel the plant depends on is cut off. The result is critically ill people are endangered, bread and other baked goods can’t be produced without electricity to power ovens, food is already in short supply, so is fresh water, and sanitation conditions are disastrous.

Michele Mercier of the International Red Cross said hospital medications were running out and wouldn’t “last for more than two or three days.” In addition, allowable food shipments are endangered according to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman, Christopher Gunness. He explained that the agency would have to suspend distribution to 860,000 people because of a fuel and plastic bags shortage.

Israel was unapologetic with Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, saying the IDF must “eliminate the rocket fire from Gaza, irrespective of the cost to Palestinians.” Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, added: “We are impacting the overall quality of life in Gaza and destroying the terror infrastructure.” He meant civilians as did Ehud Olmert claiming: “We are trying to hit only those involved in terrorism, but also signaling to the population in Gaza that it cannot be free from responsibility for the situation.”

Israel makes no distinction between civilians (including women and children) and resistance fighters, and B’Tselem stated that Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), “defines every Palestinian killed in the Gaza Strip as a terrorist,” including small children and the elderly infirm. The world approves, the Security Council debates and abstains, the dominant media is silent, and innocent Palestinians suffer and die – over 75 killed in January and several hundred injured. Who cares and who’s counting. They’re just Arab Muslims.

They’re also needy human beings, now desperate, and on January 23 they responded courageously. No help is coming so Hamas acted preemptively. It destroyed 200 meters of metal barrier separating both sides of Rafah that was divided in 1982 as part of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt. About 40,000 people live in Egypt and another 200,000 in Gaza in the original town and an adjacent refugee camp. Until the outbreak of the second Intifada in September, 2000, crossing both ways was uncomplicated. That ended as violence increased, and Israel erected a barrier. Now it’s breached, Gazans took advantage, and some called it a “jail break.” Hundreds of thousands entered Egypt for needed essentials unavailable at home. Finally, the media noticed.

On January 24, The New York Times tried to have it both ways. It called Hamas’ border breach “an act of defiance” and continued indifferently. Unmindful of an 18 month siege, mass impoverishment, a humanitarian crisis and daily killings, correspondent Steven Erlanger made things seem festive in his report. Almost flippantly he said “Tens of thousands of Palestinians…. crossed the border for a ‘buying spree’ of medicine, cement, sheep….gasoline, soap and countless other supplies that have been cut off.”

Most Gazans can barely afford food and essentials and struggle daily to survive. Yet, Erlanger said they stocked up on “Coca-Cola, Cleopatra and Malimbo cigarettes, and satellite dishes” and on January 25 added “televisions (and) washing machines.” It was a party, “Egyptian merchants greeted them with a ‘cornucopia of consumer goods,” and Hamas joined the festivities by “mak(ing no) visible effort to control or tax” purchases. Those who could afford it indeed took advantage. Merchants bought items for resale at lower Egyptian prices. Most Palestinians, however, bought essentials – food, fuel, medicine if available and various household items.

Earlier on January 21, Israel relented to international pressure and a PR disaster impossible to ignore. Haaretz highlighted it in a January 26 editorial headlined “The siege of Gaza has failed.” Hamas ended it “via a well-planned operation and simultaneously won the sympathy of the world, which has forgotten the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot, (and Israel looks foolish) entrenching itself in positions that look outdated.” Only a week ago, the government was crowing. Triumphantly, it claimed its policy was “bearing fruit.”

Today, it’s all bitter with Olmert in denial. In a speech at the January Herzliya Conference, he said: “Mistakes were made; there were failures. But in addition, lessons were learned, mistakes were corrected, modes of behavior were changed, and above all, the decisions we have made since then have led to greater security, greater calm and greater deterrence than there had been for many years.” Haaretz had another view, and it was harsh. It stated events in Gaza “completely (contradict) his statements. If that is what learning lessons looks like, if that is what deterrence means, the Olmert government has precious little to boast about.” So it acted.

AP reported on January 21 that authorities “agreed today to ship diesel fuel and medicine into Gaza on a one-time basis,” easing its blockade, but it wouldn’t continue unless rocket firings stopped. Everything then changed on January 27.

Aljazeera, The New York Times, Haaretz and other sources reported that the Olmert government relented. It agreed to resume fuel shipments to Gaza, easing its blockade. The decision came on the same day Israel’s Supreme Court addressed the petition of 10 human rights organizations to order a resumption and prevent a humanitarian disaster. No decision was rendered, but state authorities acted anyway.

They agreed to supply 2.2 million weekly liters of industrial diesel fuel, the minimum amount needed to power central Gaza and Gaza City, but it’s not enough overall according to Rafiq Maliha, the project manager at An-Nuseirat’s power plant location. It’s only two-thirds the amount needed, a mere fraction was delivered the first day, and Maliha said Gaza’s gas companies would strike and resist this “Israeli plot” masquerading as humanitarian aid. His doubts are well-founded. On the same day fuel shipments resumed, Israeli warplanes struck northern Gaza in two separate raids. Hamas sources said two missiles hit a Palestinian car and others targeted a Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades position causing four injuries.

Human rights groups are also dismissive. They noted previous promises made, then broken, and the GISHA group (the Israeli NGO for freedom of Palestinian movement in the Territories) spokesperson said that Israel “repeatedly promised that it would ship 2.2 million litres (of fuel) a week into Gaza and has repeatedly broken that promise.” Why believe authorities now, and with events so fluid it seems every day, a new policy.

At the same time, Hamas and Egyptian security forces are cooperating to close the border eight days after it was breached. On January 28, Haaretz reported that openings were being sealed by barbed wire, but not entirely as some two-way traffic continues as of January 30. Hamas and Egyptian forces now man the main Salah Eddin gate, most cars and trucks aren’t passing through, but pedestrians still in Egypt “scoured (nearly) empty stores for food and consumer products to take back to the Gaza Strip….in fear of an imminent border reclosing.”

What’s next is anyone’s guess, but Israel’s Supreme Court will affect it. On January 30, it upheld the government’s Gaza sanctions and its right to restrict fuel and electricity. In its statement, the three-judge panel left no doubt where it stands. It wrote:

“We emphasize that the Gaza Strip is controlled by a ‘murderous terror group’ that operates incessantly to strike the state of Israel and its citizens, and violates every precept of international law with its violent actions.” Israel, nonetheless, will supply enough fuel and electricity to “fulfill the vital humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip at this time.”

Israeli human rights petitioners were quick to respond, and their message was clear and harsh. For its part, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights called the ruling a “dangerous legal precedent that allows Israel to continue to violate the rights of Gaza residents and deprive them of basic humanitarian needs in violation of international law.” Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, was equally pointed. He added: The High Court’s decision “reflects the criminal, ugly face of the occupation.”

Things are now back to square one, Israel’s siege has been sanctified, and an unworkable 2005 security arrangement remains in place. Hamas wants it replaced with a new one and demands justice for Gaza’s 1.5 million people. Its main objection is Israel controls all movement and monitors it with cameras and computers to track everyone entering and leaving Gaza. On January 27, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said: ‘We don’t accept a continued Israeli veto on the movement, the exit and entry through Rafah.” It’s time for a new system.

Getting one is another matter, according to Israeli officials. They commented on January 28 saying “Israel will not allow the continuation of the current state where its security interests are being compromised,” and Olmert and Abbas met on January 27 to discuss it. Initial reports were that Israel wanted Egypt to control the border, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants Abbas to do it, he, in turn, agrees to anything Olmert and George Bush want, and they at first rejected putting Abbas in charge, but that’s now changed according to Haaretz.

On January 29, it reported “Israel does not plan to block….Abbas from assuming control of Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt (if Cairo agrees).” Abbas, in turn, says it does as well as the EU, Arab League and Condoleezza Rice. Hamas reacted angrily through its spokesperson, Sami Abu-Zuhri. He called the plan an “Israeli-led international conspiracy (against the legitimate government) with the participation of some regional parties. We tell all parties that we will not allow the return of old conditions at the crossing.”

So the beat goes on. Nothing has changed, and unconsidered is what Palestinians want, need and deserve. After decades of abuse, forces they can’t control continue buffeting them, yet they persist and endure.

Now there’s the latest crisis, and consider Haaretz’s January 27 report. It was after Olmert and Abbas met “for a two-hour tete-a-tete….in Jerusalem” at which Olmert again made promises. He said Israel wouldn’t let a humanitarian crisis develop in Gaza, when, in fact, one has existed for months, his government caused it, and it’s accompanied by daily attacks, killings, arrests and a vast array of human rights abuses against an isolated population barely hanging on.

On January 23, various Palestinian factions met in Damascus with plenty to say. With little hope of being heeded, they called on Abbas to end the “ridiculous” negotiations he insists must continue with Olmert. Among those attending were Khaled Meshaal of Hamas and Ramadan Shallah of Islamic Jihad. Their message was strong: “I want to ask our brothers in Ramallah (Fatah headquarters), what exactly are you waiting for?” While you’re talking, Palestinians in “the biggest prison in history (are) being massacred.”

Even Abbas supporters are dubious, and Palestinian writer, Hani Al-Masri, expressed their view: “It doesn’t make sense for negotiations to continue while Israel is changing facts on the ground and undermining the chances for a just and acceptable solution.” The Arab League also responded, but not with teeth. It denounced Israel’s siege, but does nothing to end it. That’s Hamas’ view with Khaled Meshaal saying the League could force change but instead prefers words, meetings, resolutions and more meetings in Arab capitals.

Still more are planned. Cairo is involved. So are the Saudis, but most of all Washington and Tel Aviv. They control everything and will decide what’s next with one thing assured. Gazans are isolated, locked in the Territory, children and the elderly are dying, so are the sick without medical care, daily attacks kill others, and no end is in sight.

The plight of Palestinians won’t change as things continue lurching from one crisis to another the way they have for decades. It won’t end until world leaders buckle to growing world sentiment that no longer will injustices this grave be tolerated. How much more suffering must be endured, how many more deaths are acceptable, when will justice finally be served? People of conscience want answers. It’s about time they got them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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February 2nd, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

103. ausamaa said:

Oh, dont you worry. AIG and likes understand and know all that. But they will listen to only one language: Force! They were created by it, they live by it, and unless they change their ways in the face of it, they shall die by it. It is around them all the time, and its growing by the day, mostly in response to their actions, they feel it, but they think they can somehow bluff their way out of it..

Maybe a new Rabin, a new Rabin the Negotiator, can be found by the Israelies soon to take over from Rabin the General as Rabin himself did.

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February 2nd, 2008, 11:00 pm

 

104. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not me,
First, the Egypt-Gaza border is open. The Arabs can give the Gazans whatever they want. In Gaza the fat lady has sung. Whatever happens there now is Arab responsibility. If you have problems go talk to Mubarak or to Asad. Nothing you say impresses most Israelis. If you shoot rockets at us, don’t expect life to be a picnic. Hamas now are asking to disconnect economically from Israel. This is a great idea. Egypt should give Gaza electricity and fuel and then the Gazans will be ok. Please, take care of your brothers.

As for the West Bank, the situation is bad but there is a chance it could get better if Abbas is serious. We will see.

And I agree with you 100%. Most Arabs do not want peace with Israel for whatever reason. Yours is because Israel does not want peace. Why then let Asad force such a peace down their throats?

Both sides want peace and believe they have good intentions. But each side wants it on its own terms. Unfortuantely, what you think is just is not what I think is just.

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February 2nd, 2008, 11:20 pm

 

105. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ausamma,
A glass lamp cannot apply force. If it tries, it shatters. Fix your house so that it is not like glass and then come apply force to Israel. Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence (this is why Alex is so afraid of democracy in Syria).

But this is the paradox isn’t it? In order to beat Israel, you have to become democratic, which you refuse because that would be sucumbing to American hegemony or whatever.

You are stuck real hard. There is no way out. I love these historical ironies.

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February 2nd, 2008, 11:28 pm

 

106. Not me said:

AIG:

I forgot to mention that I used to think that Israelis wanted peace. I don’t anymore. In the past, Israelis used to say the Arabs did not want peace. But for the last 15 years, any time the Arabs proposed, you declined and used excuses. My idea of peace is applying International Law.

Don’t expect me to go back and fourth. I am going back to live under the dictatorship of those thugs that ruled Syria for the past 40 years. I don’t dare get on this web site or any other like this one. I agree with you regarding democracy. It will make us stronger, and maybe then you will deal with us with respect.

All of you on this forum just piss me off. You sit behind your computers and theorize and fantasize about Syria. You really think you have all the solutions for the troubles of Syria.
Sometimes, you sound like you think you came from Switzerland that went wrong.

You go for a visit, and you think you get a sense of what’s going on (that applies to you Dr. Landis). That’s what I used to think when I was one of you. We get excited that this and that opened recently. But move back like I did and experience everyday life. It is hell. There is no law, no ORDER what so ever. It is not just the government that’s corrupt, it is also the people. If you enjoy and have no ethical problem buying your way through anything, that is the country for you. You will live like king.

There is no accountability. There is only accountability when it comes to their own security. Yes, we have had stability in Syria. We have been stable with their grip around our necks and their foot over our heads. The Baath has managed to corrupt few generations of Syrians. I will safely predict that 99% of employees are not employable anywhere else in the world.

HOWEVER, I will still advise all to come back. Although it is the same book, but with a different cover (father vs. son). Circumstances are different now. The country is on the right track as far as economics. We have better qualified government officials dictating to us today than those who did in the eighties and nineties. They have money and they want to invest it. They are also suffering from the lack qualified work force. The educational system is improving. The country does not feel like one big army camp. It looks civil.
But I must also be honest and say that all these improvements have a ceiling because there is no LAW & ORDER.

By the way AIG, I feel sorry for your family; if they have to put up with such an angry person.

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February 3rd, 2008, 12:17 am

 

107. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not me,
Keep posting when you can. You are right that good analysis depends on good data and thet more we know about what is really happening in Syria, the better the discussion will be.

Instead of arguing with me, I would prefer that you give as much detailed picture of what you see as possible if you can and have time. For example, what is your take about the differences between the rich and the poor in Syria?

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February 3rd, 2008, 12:29 am

 

108. Akbar Palace said:

Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence…

AIG -

What you fail to understand is that the Syrians have paid a price, “A heavy one perhaps and for hundreds of years….

The mother-of-all heavy prices.

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February 3rd, 2008, 1:15 am

 

109. SimoHurtta said:

A glass lamp cannot apply force. If it tries, it shatters. Fix your house so that it is not like glass and then come apply force to Israel. Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence (this is why Alex is so afraid of democracy in Syria).

But this is the paradox isn’t it? In order to beat Israel, you have to become democratic, which you refuse because that would be sucumbing to American hegemony or whatever.

You are stuck real hard. There is no way out. I love these historical ironies.

AIG the historical irony is that Arabs have the oil (= money). The historical irony is that now Arabs are buying huge blocks of western banks and stock exchanges. And it is only the start. The oil remaining reserves are the the real geopolitical political power now. And in that game Israel and the chosen people have day by day less influence and possibilities to control events.

Arab and Muslim nations could any day bring Israel to the knees if they would coordinated use their oil and gas weapon. If Americans and Europeans have to choose between their present living standard and supporting that violent entity called Israel, I guess AIG you know the answer. The difference with the oil weapon situation in the 70′s and now is completely different. Then there were few real customers, now the rinsing Asian giants have changed the situation.

AIG the historical irony is that Arabs do not need democracy or nukes to force Israel to make peace. The deeper US economy slumps down and the more Indians and Chinese buy cars means bad news for Israel and good news for Palestinians.

Buy the way AIG Gaza has gas reserves (= much money), is IDF AIG willing to give that “problem” also to Egyptians?

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February 3rd, 2008, 1:41 am

 

110. Not me said:

AIG:

I am not arguing with you. I have talked to Israelis before during my travels. The conversations were civil and respectful. I actually supported your democracy argument. I intentionally avoided details because they’re embarrassing.
There is nothing I could say here that is known outside Syria, but to answer your question, the Baath has managed to destroy the middle class. They used to claim they fought for the poor, so they made everyone poor, so the poor don’t feel lonely. But seriously, the gap between the poor and the rich is huge. Needless to say, the rich is a very small minority. The poor barely make it living in substandard housing. They lack the skills to justify a higher pay. You can not raise their pay, because the productivity is low (Baathists destroyed the educational system). In general, money is being exchanged, but not being earned.
Then, you have a small segment of the population that is making millions of dollars. There are areas where land is more expensive than Beverly Hills or Manhattan, and you still find people that can afford it.
Dinner for four at some restaurants costs as much as the monthly salary of the waiter serving it. Life is not cheap. You need to spend almost $100,000 to live a life comparable to a $120,000 in the states or spend $70,000 in Syria to live a life comparable to $100,000 in the states.

They’re passing laws every day to improve the economy. There is a time bomb on the government’s hand that is the population explosion of young people looking for jobs. The country does not get any financial foreign aid. And they need the money and they need to invest their own money.

However, and although I say the improvements have a ceiling because the legal system is corrupt, good economic laws will never hurt. Syria today is a capitalist country. I always said a capitalist dictatorship is always better than a socialist one.

As an example, private banks opened and started giving loans and mortgages. Salaries are rising because every employer is competing for whatever talent could be found. Housing laws have changed. Maybe now, the poor can afford decent housing. One can feel the buzz around town due to all the projects being planned.

What is upsetting to us (Syrians) is that we were once (in the fifties) better than a lot of the countries around us. They’re opening banks now; we used to have almost 30 foreign banks in 1960. Without going into more details, they’re trying to reverse what the Baathists have done. So things can only get better for everyone.

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February 3rd, 2008, 1:55 am

 

111. Ford Prefect said:

Qifa Nabki,
Thanks, I am glad to be back! Regarding your question of “how do you imagine this transformation coming about,” I think it is a very valid one. Most of us are burning with desires to see peace during our generation. Our parents and grandparents did also have these wishes.

How is this transformation going to happen? To answer this question, it is probably easier to describe what is impeding or slowing this transformation than envisaging how it is going to happen.

Let us all agree that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a VERY complicated conflict, involving many players, working under a very complex historical, theological, and ideological constraints, and that this conflict is often producing unpredictable results.

Next, let us also dispel any myth that this conflict is clearly defined as the struggle between good and evil (the Bush Doctrine – who himself needs a head doctor).

Impeding the transformation of the people in the Middle East towards a harmonized set of aspiration and mutual respect is US policies that continue to underscore Arab feelings of betrayal and injustice. I know some argue that these feelings are manufactured in the palaces of the authoritarian heads of state to secure their position in power. True. However, it is hard for any rational mind to overlook the fact of an obviously impartial US in this conflict.

The Arab street also find the US policies are heavily tilted towards favoring authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes in the Arab world. Not a single US-friendly regime can be thought of as a role model to the Arab people.

Consequently, it is easy to find that US policies in the Middle East have not been conducive to the emergence of genuine transformation of the Arab world. In other words, the US Middle East have been nothing but antithetical to the Arab transformation.

Ironically, I argue that these same policies, while giving Israel a clear qualitative advantage in the region, it is precisely these policies that are impeding Israelis from undergoing their due transformation. The over-militarization of a young society full of aspiring young Israelis is hardly a recipe for genuine transformation.

Another impediment to the transformation of the Arab-Israeli philosophies is a fundamental, deeply engrained difference between East and West. I am not pushing Huntigton’s clash of civilization nonsense, but, rather, I am referring to the fact of how Arabs culturally refer to land in their consciousness. Several years ago, while walking outside my mother’s home in Beirut, I was struck by a street banner, stretch from one side of the street to the other, proclaiming, in Arabic that anyone “…who dies without his homeland being free is a martyr.”

Arab psyche places primary emphasis on land. All other aspirations of freedom, liberty, and material enrichments are at distant second place. Many scholars have investigated the Arab fascination with land and literature is full of interesting reads on this subject.

What perplexes the West and many Western Israelis is this profound attachment of Arabs to barren, often useless pieces of land. We all have heard the Western words wondering about the “craziness” of the Arabs to die for land – an object of which they have plenty!

It is clear to the Western eye that region outside that thin strip of Israel is heavily under populated and under developed. So, what exactly is the problem with the Arabs of just accommodating those Palestinians in lieu of taking advantage of the presence of Western Jews who brought with them the money, science, technology, nationalism, and the know-how? The Western mind wanted to know.

According to conventional Western wisdom, people do fight and maybe die for something worldly object that is truly scarce and valuable. The US involvement in the Middle East, occasionally by sacrificing its own young human lives, is hardly the result of a deeply rooted love for anything Arabic and what they stand for.

So, it is the fundamental difference between Arab ethos that value “the” land (which gives them their young national identity) over all other worldly treasures and the Western ethos that describes identity in terms of liberty, democracy, individualism, and the free movement of capital.

To sum it all up, I believe that there are two major attributes that act forcefully to impede the transformation of the Israeli and Arab societies towards a harmonized set of objectives: misguided US policies and a striking difference of what is considered an essential element of national identity.

Qifa Nabki, your question is profoundly important and I am looking forward to reading comments from the great bloggers here.

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February 3rd, 2008, 2:00 am

 

112. Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

Wow! What an amazing piece. I wish I could show all Israelis how “our enemy” reads us, and the region, and the geopolitical issues that stand between us. Israelis also need to have their perception of Arabs transformed. But the funny thing is, that despite our “westernized” culture (which, I can tell you, is far from being so cultured…), the fact that our forefathers grew up here, and that we are descendants of the tribes that lived in this land, we very much value this land, perhaps no less than Arabs do theirs. There is a deep emotional, spiritual, historical attachment to the land of “milk and honey”, and few Israelis can claim they’ve never felt it. For nearly two millennia, Jews have been dreaming of a return to Zion, and have never forgotten their home. That is why it is so difficult for Jews to consider giving up land (even the W.Bank, Gaza, and the Golan). But, we will, and there will be peace in this region. If we’re lucky, it’ll be through negotiation. If we’re not, then through war…

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February 3rd, 2008, 7:43 am

 

113. Alex said:

Ford Prefect,

Until the great bloggers show up, I will try to add a couple of factors that are impeding the desired transformation.

First … the higher propensity to seek/need revenge that we have in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. Both sides did a lot of damage to each other. And even when the violence slows down (like before the latest Gaza siege) there is no shortage of historic violence that was not properly reciprocated.

Of course the Israelis kill many more Arabs than Arabs can kill Israelis and Israelis know it … they know that many Arabs would love to reciprocate if only they could … so the Israelis don’t feel secure unless they are armed with mountains of nuclear and high-tech conventional weapons … and another essential for feeling secure: They need to periodically remind the Arabs who has the upper hand militarily… a practical lesson they will not forget … an invasion of Lebanon that punished a whole population for failing to help Israel in getting rid of Hizbollah who dared to kill a couple of Israeli soldiers thus giving Israel a good enough reason to invade Lebanon and revenge the killing of the soldiers and teach the Lebanese (and Syrians too) a fresh lesson in Israeli superiority. Of course that particular lesson was not very effective … that’s why many expect a new lesson will be taught after the next thing that looks even remotely like an excuse to start another war.

So … we go from one Palestinian group sending rockets on Israeli territories, to an Israeli retaliation on Gaza … to a Hizbollah retaliation … to an Israeli invasion of Lebanon …

How do we get out of this cycle?

With all the hate that many Arabs have towards the powerful and violent and selfish Israelis who are often preventing them from properly taking their revenge …. Israel can still undo most of the hate rather quickly … just look at how Shai can communicate with everyone here without being hated… of course none of us here has a brother in an Israeli jail or a mother who was insulted by an Israeli soldier last week, but even those Palestinians can be convinced to press the reset button and forget the past…

Revenge is not logical … I am assuming that when both sides are cooperating with a genuine desire to succeed, one can educate his people out of this mentality… Is this a correct assumption?

I am encouraged by what is happening in Lebanon so far … despite the often frustrating events .. the assassinations, the insults, the accusations, the backstabbing … no one wants to fight the others … they still remember the Lebanese civil war … that was one sad lesson in where revenge can lead them (100,000 casualties) … but it was an effective lesson … this time no one tried to take revenge… and they are still Middle Easterners like Israelis and Palestinians.

The good thing about the war in Lebanon last summer is that it taught some Israelis (not all) that they should not expect an automatic dose of euphoria the next time their government decides to send the IDF superstars into action against the Arabs (to take revenge or to teach the Arabs a needed lesson) … this song’s lyrics and the typical comments at Israeli newspaper’s online news stories show beyond any doubt that many people love to see blood and destruction on the other side. so many times I read “let us nuke Damascus and terminate Assad and his allies” … after the American troops took out Saddam and entered Baghdad with ease … many Israelis were dying to do the same to their enemies.

Again, this is not strictly an Israeli trait, many Arab websites are loaded with comments calling on their useless “moderate Arab” leaders to deliver a proper dose of revenge so that their troubled minds can cool down.

Conclusion: We need strong, respected and enlightened leadership on both sides… they will know what to do and how to lead.

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February 3rd, 2008, 7:51 am

 

114. ausamaa said:

Those are all very very reasonable and balanced arguments -in a sense- and done doubtless from behind the sanctury of laptops at home as was noted above. But how do such arguments fare once they collide with how the Syrian and IDF general staff see things, or compared to what the planners at the Pentagon of the US Department of State concoct their grand designs (ill-advised or well-advised), and how much wight do they carry with the frustration of the dispalced and tromented Palestinians, starved and undersiege in their own land, or how much attention they will get from the determined Hizbullah command, or how will be mimicked by the Saudies, Iranians, Europeans, Chinese, and by -last not least- with the Shas and Likud fanatics and their nut brothers in the Al-Qaida wherever they may be lurcking?

As if reason, fairness, or convincing arguments have won any big triumphs!!!

History has tought us one thing; Power stems from the barrel of a gun (be it a military, economic or political one), and treaties and understandings are a reflection of the balance of power at any given period of time. Dipolmacy, negotiations and reasonable debates are window dressing and secondary items compared to the above.

Who was it that said that God is on the side of the General who has the larger Army??

And what goes round, comes round!!!!

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February 3rd, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

115. Ford Prefect said:

Shai,
In reading your response to my comments above, I have (to borrow from Hillary!) found my own voice. Yes, indeed, I am all for any positive step towards peace. A moment where a human life is saved and protected from the madness of the military machine of destruction is a moment to treasure. I often find that my sentiments for peace are echoed more loudly among my many dear Jewish peace activists and friends than from my own Syrian people. I am doing my part to transform my people and I am sure you are doing the same as well.

You ask a valid question, who is representing the Palestinians? Who should Israel deal with to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians? These are all valid questions, but, while we are trying to dig for answers, let us simultaneously think of why and how did the Palestinians arrive to such desperate, leaderless conditions.

Without going into the historical details of whose fault is it, I am sure that you and I agree that there is enough blame to go around the table. I am also hoping that you will agree with me that peace with the existing leaderships on both sides is a mirage and at best wishful thinking. They both need to genuinely transform first.

Here is the core of my argument: peace usually occurs between two warring factions when one of two conditions occurs. The first one is when one side capitulates and the winner declares victory and peace at the same time. Usually the history of that conflict is also written and sealed by the winner. WWII allies declared peace with the fallen Germany and Japan immediately after they decisively won their battles against them.

The second condition occurs when the two warring parties achieve parity – be it logical or physical. Once parity is achieved and a rational realization of both parties that no one will win, peace usually follow the mutual recognition of the parties involved.

Under the second condition, this parity could produce a “tense” peace as we see today between India and Pakistan. But it is peace, nevertheless.

Another parity peace example is the case of France and Algeria. We all remember how France considered Algeria as an extension of French territories. The French went even as far as justifying their “ownership” of Algeria by finding moral and theological justifications.

But the Algerians resisted to utter bewilderment of the French. How could such poor, neglected, and culture-less Algerians deny the benefits of belonging to a super power? Who in the right mind would decline an offer to be a subject of France, the mother of culture, science, and democracy?

History tells us that the resistance of the Algerians seriously shocked the core of the French psyche. The French fought back – using every tool of modern cultural and military warfare. It was the persistent resistance of the Algerians that convinced the French with some logical parity. The rest is history.

My problem with the current Arab-Israeli conflict, with all due respect and appreciation to your thoughts, is the imbalance of power between the Arab and the Israelis. For Israelis, the question of peace is a matter of choice. Israel’s existence is not predicated on establishing peace. Israel, for one, can and will survive based solely on its superior military power.

But for its neighboring Arab the question of peace takes on a totally different track and it is not peace per se. It is the land that defines their national existence as Syrians or Palestinians, for example, and not their religion or their language.

If Sir Mark Sykes were to draw the Syrian borders to the south short of the Golan Heights, nobody would be arguing in Syria today about getting back that piece of land. The Golan Heights is therefore, part of the national identity of all Syrians – if they are to base their modern society on that identity.

I know that my argument might sound strange to many people, but if Israel would like to establish an ever lasting peace with the Syrians, they must help the Syrians in becoming more secure and mature by returning the entire Golan Heights. There is no sense in establishing peace with Syrians who have a sense of injustice and land loss.

I am sorry but running out of time now. But I would like to respond later to your post where you correctly argue your attachment to the land of your forefathers. Meanwhile, many thanks for your insightful comments. We belong to the same DNA – so, ultimately, we are bound to find out that our similarities are much greater than our differences.

More later….

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February 3rd, 2008, 4:49 pm

 

116. Alex said:

CNN (Wolf Blitzer) just reported on Seymour Hersh’ upcoming article “A strike in the Dark” … trying to shed light on Israel’s “Act of war” against Syria. He interviewed Hersh who explained that he still does not know if there was nuclear weapons activity in that site … but he said that no one in Washington or Israel “knew” anything either … Israel knew that there are North Koreans working on that site and that was good enough for them to destroy it… it was good for internal politics, it was good to help reestablish some of the lost perception of Israel’s deterrence.

Hersh said that the site was most likely where the North Koreans were helping the Syrians assemble missiles… a top secret military site that syria would not be able to confirm its existence.

Which is exactly … what I told Mr. AIG at the time.

Hersh quoted one Bush Sr. administration official who was puzzled at how a serious, unprovoked, act of war (the Israeli attack) was ignored by everyone in the world. Israel’s approach of “we will not tell you why we bombed” makes it difficult for others to criticize the operation …. what if Israel shows us in the future proof that Syria was building a nuclear weapons facility there?

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February 3rd, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

117. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I love Hersh. First and foremost he shows how childish are assertions that the US press is one sided or biased. And come again? Blitzer on CNN interviewed him? There goes that whole conspiracy theory out the window.

Hersh was wrong in the past and is wrong about this one. If a missile site was attacked, all Syria had to do was take out the missiles and invite inspectors to show how stupid Israel is. But since it was a nuclear site, the Syrians razed it and did not agree to inspectors.

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February 3rd, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

118. Alex said:

AIG,

Are you trying to use Wolf as a tool to prove that “the Media” in general is neutral?? … Wolf is very reasonable. I never criticized him. I usually criticize Paula Zahn and the others at Fox and the rest of the media outlets owned by Murdoch.

Wolf did not find Seymour’s opinions offensive at all … you, of course are smarter than Wolf and the rest of us here. Whatever you conclude is the truth, don’t worry.

You can repeat you opinion a million times, but that will not change the fact that as Seymour said: this could have been a chemical weapons missiles site … so, Syria will definitely not invite anyone to see it, destroyed, cleaned out or not.

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February 3rd, 2008, 5:34 pm

 

119. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
That is interesting. So Hersh is not disputing that it was a WMD site. Only that it was nuclear. No wonder no one complained.
Does it really matter what kind of WMD is attacked?

I am confident that it was a nuclear site, but even if this was a chemical weapons site, nobody would say a word to defend Syria.

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February 3rd, 2008, 6:13 pm

 

120. Alex said:

Yes of course it matters.

1) Syria signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons…. nuclear, not chemical.

2) Many countries in the Middle East have chemical weapons .. Egypt does … Syria most probably does (nothing official) … why didn’t Israel attack Egypt? attack Syria in the past few decades?

3) who the hell appointed Israel as the good policeman in the Middle East? … Israel has been THE outlaw state on planet earth for decades.

Going back to what I was trying to say in this post … and it is more or less what Ford Prefect added in his last comments: Israel is far from understanding the meaning of treating Syria as an equal… To many Israelis, they either have a military or religious or moral superiority… and the offer of “peace” to Syria is again some version of “look, we really can nuke you if we want, so take our offer and say thank you Israel”

Here is why Israel attacked Deir Ezzore .. because Israel knows it can get away with its aggression no matter what the case is:

* Resolution 106: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for Gaza raid”.

* Resolution 111: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for raid on Syria that killed fifty-six people”.

* Resolution 127: ” . . . ‘recommends’ Israel suspends it’s ‘no-man’s zone’ in Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 162: ” . . . ‘urges’ Israel to comply with UN
decisions”.

* Resolution 171: ” . . . determines flagrant violations’ by Israel in its attack on Syria”.

* Resolution 228: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for its attack on Samu in the West Bank, then under Jordanian control”.

* Resolution 237: ” . . . ‘urges’ Israel to allow return of new 1967 Palestinian refugees”.

* Resolution 248: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for its massive attack on Karameh in Jordan”.

* Resolution 250: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 251: ” . . . ‘deeply deplores’ Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250″.

* Resolution 252: ” . . . ‘declares invalid’ Israel’s acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital”.

* Resolution 256: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli raids on Jordan as ‘flagrant violation”.

* Resolution 259: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to accept UN mission to probe occupation”.

* Resolution 262: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for attack on Beirut airport”.

* Resolution 265: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for air attacks for Salt in Jordan”.

* Resolution 267: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem”.

*Resolution 270: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for air attacks on villages in southern Lebanon”.

* Resolution 271: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 279: ” . . . ‘demands’ withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 280: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli’s attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 285: ” . . . ‘demands’ immediate Israeli withdrawal form Lebanon”.

* Resolution 298: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s changing of the status of Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 313: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel stop attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 316: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for repeated attacks on Lebanon”.

* Resolution 317: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to release Arabs abducted in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 332: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s repeated attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 337: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty”.

* Resolution 347: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli attacks on Lebanon”.

* Resolution 425: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 427: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon.

* Resolution 444: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s lack of cooperation with UN peacekeeping forces”.

* Resolution 446: ” . . . ‘determines’ that Israeli settlements are a ‘serious obstruction’ to peace and calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

* Resolution 450: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon”.

* Resolution 452: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories”.

* Resolution 465: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s settlements and asks all member states not to assist Israel’s settlements program”.

* Resolution 467: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s military intervention in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 468: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to rescind illegal expulsions of two Palestinian mayors and a judge and to facilitate their return”.

* Resolution 469: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s failure to observe the council’s order not to deport Palestinians”.

* Resolution 471: ” . . . ‘expresses deep concern’ at Israel’s failure to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

* Resolution 476: ” . . . ‘reiterates’ that Israel’s claim to Jerusalem are ‘null and void’”.

* Resolution 478: ” . . . ‘censures (Israel) in the strongest terms’ for its claim to Jerusalem in its ‘Basic Law’”.

* Resolution 484: ” . . . ‘declares it imperative’ that Israel re-admit two deported Palestinian mayors”.

* Resolution 487: ” . . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel for its attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility”.

* Resolution 497: ” . . . ‘decides’ that Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights is ‘null and void’ and demands that Israel rescinds its decision forthwith”.

* Resolution 498: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 501: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to stop attacks against Lebanon and withdraw its troops”.

* Resolution 509: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel withdraw its forces forthwith and unconditionally from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 515: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel lift its siege of Beirut and allow food supplies to be brought in”.

* Resolution 517: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions and demands that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 518: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel cooperate fully with UN forces in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 520: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s attack into West Beirut”.

* Resolution 573: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel ‘vigorously’ for bombing Tunisia in attack on PLO headquarters.

* Resolution 587: ” . . . ‘takes note’ of previous calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and urges all parties to withdraw”.

* Resolution 592: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ the killing of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University by Israeli troops”.

* Resolution 605: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.

* Resolution 607: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

* Resolution 608: ” . . . ‘deeply regrets’ that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians”.

* Resolution 636: ” . . . ‘deeply regrets’ Israeli deportation of Palestinian civilians.

* Resolution 641: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s continuing deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 672: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for violence against Palestinians at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

* Resolution 673: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.

* Resolution 681: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s resumption of the deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 694: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return.

* Resolution 726: ” . . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 799: “. . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of 413 Palestinians and calls for there immediate return.

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February 3rd, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

121. Nur al-Cubicle said:

First, the Egypt-Gaza border is open.
Ha ha ho ho ho

I am confident that it was a nuclear site
Bwah-hah-hah

Who says Israelis aren’t naive? Shining beacon of democracy Another good one!

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February 3rd, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

122. Akbar Palace said:

I have talked to Israelis before during my travels. The conversations were civil and respectful. I actually supported your democracy argument. I intentionally avoided details because they’re embarrassing.

Not me,

Thank you for your honest opinion. It is a shame that a people have to suffer so a family thug can stay in power for life. Slowly, I believe the Middle East will become free so that the Arab people can determine what is best for their themselves.

“Here Israel bombs another country, basically an act of war. … They don’t say anything publicly about it.”

Sy Hersh has always shilled against Israel and US, and it is obvious this “objective”, yellow-journalist has a clear agenda. No wonder the liberal New Yorker keeps him on their payroll.

But as everyone knows. Israel and Syria have been in a State of War since Israel’s “oringial sin” (became an independent nation).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6982331.stm

It is always amazes me when journalists label Israeli actions as “acts of war”; I have yet to see this same term used when Arabs and their proxies indiscriminately lob hundreds of missiles into Israeli territory.

Alex asks:

… why didn’t Israel attack Egypt?

May have something to do with their peace treaty and the fact that they are no longer in a “State of War”.

.. because Israel knows it can get away with its aggression no matter what the case is

And Syria can get away with supporting terrorism. So what else is new?

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February 3rd, 2008, 7:53 pm

 

123. Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

Thank you for expanding on the need for parity, and for understanding the Arabs’ special attachment and self-definition that entail the land. I completely understand this, and I hope future negotiators bring these issues up, because we must not assume that either side is educated enough, or has been open enough to hearing and learning these things about one another.

There’s no doubt in my mind that for Israel and Syria to have peace, we must return the entire Golan to its rightful owners, the Syrian people. The same goes for returning Gaza and the West Bank, with regards to the Palestinians. If there was a chance in the world where I could see returning other parts of Palestine to the Palestinians (Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, etc.), clearly that would make peace even more fair and complete. But unfortunately, and despite the fact that it really angers a lot of the readers here (and I can understand why), we in Israel must feel in the immediate future that we’re still a Jewish state. I have to clarify, that most Israelis don’t mind that there are large minorities (Muslim – 20%) within Israel, but the minute that number gets close to 50%, we’re starting to lose that definition which so many Jews in the Diaspora have dreamed about for so long – a land for the Jewish people.

At the cost of others, Jews were finally able to escape persecution, and build their own modern state. I can’t explain exactly how or why, but I can almost assure you that most Israelis still suffer from some type of Holocaust complex. They’re still afraid that tomorrow morning, somebody is going to knock on our door (or borders), and seek our annihilation. Sixty years have passed, but the fear is still very much in our consciousness. Forget our superior military capabilities (which, we’ve seen how “superior” they are against a small guerilla group last summer), forget our so-called nukes, forget all that. Israelis still feel unsafe in this region. It is something that is irrational, it is purely emotional. Although I cannot completely say it’s not based on some reality, given Iran’s continued belligerence towards us, including denials of the Holocaust, using language that can be understood to mean “annihilation”, etc.

I believe that Israel is able to make peace in one of three situations: First, when it feels extremely strong, like after 1967, or even 1973 when although it did get closest to “losing” than ever before, but in the end did manage to stop the Egypt and Syria. Second, when it feels extremely weak, like after the first Intifada and the early 1990′s. When we saw that those poor Palestinians were not going to sit idly and take our occupation, and were actually ready to die in the pursuit of their freedom and independence, even the hardliners here understood that peace should be considered. And third, when Israelis are faced with something that almost shocks them, and triggers a deep emotional response that for a moment breaks down all their innate walls of fear and suspicion. I’m talking of course of such events as Sadat’s arrival in Jerusalem. I’ve been suggesting the need for something like this to reoccur, with Assad, but Alex and a few others have tried to explain to me why it is very unlikely to take place. As rational as their arguments have been, and they are probably right, I can’t help feel that we’re missing the best opportunity for peace in the very near future. It is precisely because everyone doesn’t believe that this visit can take place, that it should! Assad would shock not only Israelis, but indeed the entire world, if he landed in Ben-Gurion Airport tomorrow afternoon, and came to speak to all of us. But I won’t go into all of that again… Alex pretty much convinced me that it’s a bit like churning water.

I’ll end this (for now) by saying that unfortunately, I cannot see how parity could be achieved in the near future, unless it is done via violent means, namely war. It is indeed sad that our people cannot “think on their own”, and are very unlikely to change their minds, unless something forces them to. I’ve said in the past that the absurd here in Israel is, that the only person or leader that can make peace with the Arabs is someone from the Right (Likud), like Begin, Sharon, or Netanyahu… If Farouq al-Sharaa sits with Bibi, and the latter promises the Golan, Syria knows it is hearing an offer backed by the majority of Israelis. If Barak and al-Sharaa sit together (like they have, twice), it is not that clear-cut, and Assad (the father) has a right to be suspicious of the offer. So it is precisely those who in order to get elected, speak against the Arabs and against peace, and then, once in power, have no problem shaking the hand of the terrorist Arafat (and even kissing him), or withdrawing from Gaza, or negotiating a peace treaty with Syria. And, maybe that’s what we’re waiting for. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d say anything positive about Netanyahu (and it still makes me quiver some), but perhaps he is the best option for peace in the near future… (God I hope Barak is reading this right now… Alon, can we arrange for that to happen?)

Let’s keep talking – I believe with the motivation and abilities of people like yourself, we could make the best effort possible to understand and learn from one another and, in’shalla, maybe even succeed. Thank you for investing so much in this! I do not take any of it for granted.

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February 3rd, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

124. Shai said:

Alex,

So… what are you trying to say? :-)

At least you can never blame Israel for not being consistent… and determined…

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February 3rd, 2008, 8:09 pm

 

125. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Syria is a third world country that is run by a dictator. It produces very little of value or of global interest and its strengths is based on destabilizing its neighbors. Why should it be respected? Respect is something you earn.

Israel can get by with agression because nobody repects Syria including the Europeans and everybody finds it very easy to believe that Syria is up to no good (because that is usually the case). The international community had ample time to figure out what Syria really is especially following the interaction over Lebanon.

Why exactly by the way do you think the IDF is for and why was it created? It is a reaction to the Arab beligerence vis a vis Israel. And now you complain that the IDF is too strong?

After 9/11 the West does not approve of WMDs in dictator’s hands, especially those who support terrorist organizations. That is why nobody cared when Syria is attacked. You think supporting Hamas and Hizballah is not going to cost Syria?

And the list of UN resolutions is amusing. First you try to eliminate Israel by war and when that does not work you start supporting international law? What a joke. If the Arabs really cared about international law they would have accepted the 1947 partition resolution.

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February 3rd, 2008, 8:21 pm

 

126. Shai said:

Alex,

Here’s a joke for you:

“Two mafia gangsters sitting in prison for a long time, have been pardoned. They’ve been offered an opportunity to leave prison, and to start a new life. But, instead, both decide to sit at the prison cafeteria, and to recall which gangster had worse charges placed against him, which have led to his imprisonment. They argue, and argue, and argue, never reaching an agreement. Instead, they could simply get up, and leave their prison, and start talking about their future. It is up to them, no one else…”

Hmmm… can we think of who those two gangsters are similar to?

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February 3rd, 2008, 8:31 pm

 

127. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think the two gangsters are the Syrian people that have been imprisoned by the regime forever and the Lebanese people who have been imprisoned by the same Syrian regime.
Am I right?

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February 3rd, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

128. Alex said:

AIG

As I said … it is this superiority complex that we Syrians have to deal with … your incredible moral and military superiority.

Anyone who dares to differ is worthless .. Seymour Hersh? … big liberal loser!

A thousand UN resolutions that Israel did not respect? … small detail… the thing we need to focus on is that the Arab did not weclome Israel with open arms in 1948 .. that explains all the UN resolutions Israel violated.

Opinion polls in Europe considering Israel to be a threat to world peace much more that Iran? … it must be anti semitism.

Few thousand fighters beating your mighty IDF who droped millions of bombs on Lebanon? … noooo problem, we have freedom of speech, we analyze our mistakes, learn form them, and come back at the Arabs much stronger than before.

Amnesty’s report blaming Israel for war crimes? … we’ll pretend we did not see it. Those at Amnesty will go back to criticizing only real criminals on earth … those in the Syrian regime.

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

129. offended said:

Off the topic, but quite interesting:

Have you met Jonathan Pollard?

” Jonathan Pollard is an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston Texas, who established a career as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy.”

“Pollard delivered over 1000 classified documents to Israel for which he was well paid.”

“The most egregious damage done by Pollard was to steal classified documents relating to the US Nuclear Deterrent relative to the USSR and send them to Israel. According to sources in the US State Department, Israel then turned around and traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas from the USSR to Israel. ”

So this is basically how the free and democratic world works; Israel didn’t only spy on its trustworthy sponsor and long term ally, but she also betrayed the trust and the relationship in exchange for few more numbers of settlers.

Enough said…..

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/motherofallscandals.html

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:09 pm

 

130. Alex said:

My friend Shai,

Your joke implies equality between the two Mafia gangsters : )

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

131. Seeking the Truth said:

Shai,

Probably you are alluding to the Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Syrians in your short tale of the two gangsters.

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

132. Shai said:

Alex,

Again… you’re right – point well taken. I should have said “big gangster”, “little gangster”… :-)

Seeking The Truth,

Yeah, it’s us I’m talking about. Isn’t it a shame? Look at what we’re doing now, just typing away so that one day all our people could do the same, communicate, engage, interact with each other, instead of suspect, fear, hate. What a waste of so many decades of our lives, huh? But, we must look to the future. We have no alternative.

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

133. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
As usual you get it wrong. You need to address Syria’s weakness not Israeli attitudes toward Syria. Syria is weak because of many reasons but it is not weak because Israelis think it is weak. It is the other way around. But as usual, you prefer denial. Instead of improving Syria you want to criticize Israel. No problem, it is your right.

Who said Hersh was useless? I like him. However he is wrong quite often.

Israel like any other country puts its own interests before any international resolution. Since when are the Arabs the champions of international law? Ah yes, since they could not achieve using violence what they wanted.

As for Lebanon. You go it right except the part that Israel was beaten. Israel made mistakes but will improve. Israel has done this consistently in the last 60 years. Can you say the same for the Arabs?

I resepect Amnesty international and think they do important work. What I do not respect are people that hold Israel to different standards than they hold themselves.

I didn’t ask you to respect Israel. I don’t care one iota if you do or you don’t or if any Arab does. But you wanted respect. But repect needs to be earned and so far Syria has not done anything that is worthy of respect.

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February 3rd, 2008, 9:55 pm

 

134. Alex said:

AIG,

Syria does not need your respect. Don’t feel any pressure. Continue to be as negative as you need to be.

Shai,

On the question of Netanyahu … he does not really have a majority behind him …. in the latest opinion poll Likud gets 29 seats? to 21 for Labor…. nothing dramatic.

I’m afraid leadership will have to come from Washington.

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February 3rd, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

135. Shai said:

Alex,

I beg to differ… we’re talking about 29 seats compared to today’s 12! That’s not just anything, that’s dramatic. Most people, also on the Left, are disappointed with Olmert, and still remember Barak’s amazing “accomplishments” (not) during his term in office. As much as I hate to say it, Bibi actually has a chance here, and that is precisely why neither Barak nor Olmert are rushing to new elections anytime soon. Public opinion, however, might change that, or may force at least a change in persona at the PM level (my so-called Livni suggestion earlier…)

As for Netanyahu himself, I wouldn’t be surprised if he would, through his well-known arrogance, actually position himself as an “expert” on MidEast affairs vis-a-vis the next U.S. president, and would almost be looked up-to as a consequence. He’ll certainly have more say in Washington than Olmert did. And, best of all, he is exactly the character that wants more than anything in the world to be written down in the annals of our history as the man who “brought peace to the world”, or at least our region. He’ll change his skin a thousand times if necessary, just to make it next time, and succeed where he failed in his previous attempt. For crying out loud, the man even kissed Arafat! Not to worry, he’s not counting on profits from his “How The West Can Win” book anymore. That belonged to another era. He’s much more pragmatic than we’d sometimes like to admit. It almost seem like I’m campaigning for him, no? :-) Honestly, I don’t know who I’ll vote for next, a lot will depend on the situation in the region at the time. But if once upon a time just the name Bibi caused me nausea, today I have to consider the alternatives, and their influence on the majority of Israelis at the moment (those same Israelis I strongly disagree with). Bib might be the next Begin, or Sharon. Olmert certainly can’t, and Barak I’m not sure, but in any case he won’t have the support of the Right.

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February 4th, 2008, 12:15 pm

 

136. jbello said:

Regarding the issue of “Should Syria Lead or Follow”, I think Syria is leading by maintaining it’s independence and standing it’s ground with regard to loyalties and terms of negotiation.
Israel is currently the aggressor, so Israel is the one that should come up with Confidence Building Measures, for instance, allow Egypt and Hamas to manage the Rafa Crossing.
The Peace Park looks nice on paper, but it doesn’t have any substance. It is just a way to have a focus of interaction. I am not sure it would be a neutral focus because of the water and citizenship issues. Israel tends to want ‘Neutral’ interactions in which it has total control of the all the outside parameters. That isn’t ‘Neutral’ and Syria has no reason to do it.
I agree that Hamas and Hezbollah would moderate if given the opportunity to serve their communities without constant militant opposition from the western powers.

Talk off ‘Flipping’ Syria seems to me like a pretty far out proposition. I would think the Syrian Regime and Bashar al Assad are smarter than that. Why should they trade their independence and growing local alliances for a ‘deal’ with countries who do not have a good track record of honoring their end of the bargain, and for a dance with the WTO and IMF who have ruined the economies of more than one third world country. It’s true that isolation and sanctions have caused them economic pain. However, it is probably better than opening up the goatpen and inviting the wolves in to feast.

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February 4th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

137. ghat Albird said:

As someone whose parents, grand and great grand parents have deep roots in several villages that dot the hills and valleys in that part of the world personal observations might be somewhat tinged.

Given the status of attitudes and precedents the realities are that there are only two ways of resolving the Syria/Israel contest. Either the Syrians undertake a dedicated and focused effort to dramatically improve their military capabilities and as soon as that is accomplished inform the Israelis to get out post haste. Or start military attacks intended to recapture the Golan Heights.

The second way will also require the improvements of its military capabilties while at the same time assisting other forces in the area to challenge Israel militarily. The two proposed solutions should be advertised as a starting point and appropriate datelines scheduled.

The best and most effective dialogue, diplomacy between two entities is direct and the one simple to understand and undertake.

Talking about the merits of a regime or this individual versus that individual
is a lazy persons pastime. Admittedly the act of pontificating from afar is a bit like being with Alice in Wonderland.

Still anytime two opponents can seriously attempt to resolve their problems peacefully the less dead and the less crippled men, women and children on both sides. The seriousness of such an approach can only be measured if its within a specific alloted time. If not then its just a meandering, meaningless game of one upmanship regardless of who is extending a dialogue.

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February 5th, 2008, 3:42 pm

 

138. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

ghat Albird,

But that is the whole point. Syria cannot do what you say because it is too weak. And it is too weak because it is not really one united country and because it is a dictatorship and because it is technologically backward. Therefore, all it can do is support terrorism and try to deny it. But in today’s world that is a losing strategy.

And there is also the small difference of motivation. I am happy and proud to serve in my country’s armed forces. You are not. I have yet to hear of one Syrian living in the US volunteering to go back and serve in Asad’s army. Jews living abroad volunteer to the IDF all the time.

The Syrians abroad are right of course. Why volunteer and serve in an army whose main purpose is to prop Asad’s regime?

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February 5th, 2008, 4:11 pm

 

139. offended said:

AIG you can go screw yourself with all the technology of IDF, most of the Syrians abroad would gladly and proudly go back to defend their country in case it came under Israeli attack. The pomegranate groves that my 85 years old grandfather walk to on a daily basis have been cultivated by my ancestry for times older than I care to remember. I would rather die and trade all the pleasures of the world than to see it treaded by a dirty IDF boots.

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February 5th, 2008, 5:00 pm

 

140. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Talk is cheap. In order to be able to fight for your country in case it is attacked you need to train and be part of the army. Going only when it is attacked is a little too late.

So, prove me wrong, organize a group of Syrians and go volunteer to the Syrian army. Go train and be ready to fight. Until then, you are all just talk.

You would rather “die and trade all the pleasures of the world than to see it treaded by a dirty IDF boots”? Have you forgotten that these boots are treading all over the Golan for more than 30 years and that you are alive and well? You would rather spew hypebole on blogs and live in denial than make Syria stronger the only way it can become stronger (you know how).

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February 5th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

141. offended said:

Sure, for a puny mind like yours you’d forget the sacrifices the Syrians have made on 67, and the heroic fighting on 73. Despite the unbalance in arms and technology and despite the Israeli air dominance, Syrians fought and died for their country. I don’t need to prove any of that to a twat like you. ; )

I forgot to ask you by the way, as an experienced ex mercenary I thought you should know, how well do they pay you at the IDF?

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February 5th, 2008, 6:29 pm

 

142. ghat Albird said:

All that one hears or reads from the Zionists/israelis is a constant droning about how Syria is divided and its a dictatorship. Now thats a real oxymoron. A divided dictatorship.

A not too subtle attempt at “dividing and ruling”. Since no one is buying it anymore the present regime and its policies must be working for the benefit of Syria.

In regards to volunteering there will be no more of that on Israel’s behalf by Americans and the popularity of holding dual or multiple passports is waning.
Time is not on Israel’s side anymore.

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February 5th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

143. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
You just said you would die to defend Syrian soil yet you are doing nothing about the Golan. First contradiction. Where you even born in 67 or 73? It is you who is doing the trash talking but not willing to do anything beyond talking. Second contradiction.
Of course you do not have to prove anything to me. The facts on the ground prove everything.

The first 3 years you get paid little in the IDF, after that the salaries are more competitive.

ghat Albird,
Your post is priceless. Instead of looking at the facts, you decide the regime is doing good based on people pointing out the weakness of the regime. You have reached the ultimate level of denial.

Why are you worrying about the American or Israel one? Why don’t you do something about the Syrian one. Even when you can do something, you prefer to talk trash instead of doing anything concrete.

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February 5th, 2008, 6:40 pm

 

144. offended said:

AIG, the Golan is already occupied; we have an established army in place to do the job of getting it back for us (if that is possible). Other than that you’ve got the UN disengagement troops and the landmines. So there is no practical chance for me, or a better trained warrior to fight on the Golan front. There isn’t an opportunity. When the opportunity arises, you can bet your bottom greenback that there will be so many takers.

Now if Syria came under attack again, that is an entirely different story. We are not stupid; we know Israel has plenty of advanced technology and nuclear arsenal. In fact, several of those Israeli nuclear war heads were scrambled during the initial days of 73 wars, when Israel ‘existence’ came under threat. Even under all the above unbalances, Syrians fought through till the ‘istinzaf’ (attrition) war. We are not cowards. And we know history. (I wasn’t even born in 73, but I know the history for that matter)

But you know what I find funny AIG, I find myself abstaining from using so many aggressive words and expressions in this post, just because I don’t want to offend a nice Israeli guy who came here with a message of peace and garnered the respect of most Syrians on this blog. (I am referring to Shai by the way)

While you on the other hand, all you are able to do is incite hatred and disdain. You are just full of crap. If we talked about peace you’d remind us of war. When we talk about war you’d whine about us being terrorists. You are a spoiler in this blog and everybody knows it.

Alex, I was kicked out (literally!) from a an American conservatives discussion board after the third comment, how long are you willing to put up with this guy????????

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February 5th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

145. Shai said:

Offended,

Being “offended” is a personal choice. Why are you allowing yourself to get offended? There’s really no need to respond to anything other than constructive criticism here, right? While in theory AIG might be right in the suggestion that peace could come quicker if Syria was much stronger militarily (i.e. more “equal” to Israel), and hence more of a threat to Israel, I believe that Syria has found creative ways of being plenty an “equal” adversary to us. Why are we discussing the return of the Golan, or peace? Is it because we’re suddenly good-natured human beings? No, it’s because we understand that the alternative is a future far less stable, perhaps far more violent, and one that none of us should choose to encounter. Same goes for the Palestinians, and the return of the W. Bank and Gaza. On that realm, I believe Syria is doing things quite well, allying itself with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as perhaps developing a nuclear program. If I were in your shoes, I would do at least that, if not more, in order to counter Israel’s military superiority.

Problem is… most Israelis aren’t capable of putting ourselves in your shoes. And that’s a shame, because if we could, we’d find the way to feel empathy, and then we’d have peace. But, hang in there, don’t give up yet!

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February 5th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

146. Alex said:

AIG,

You are still trying to bother everyone you don’t agree with on every post… 24 hours a day. Congratulations .. you succeeded in turning this blog into mostly useless discussions about the same old topics (Nazis, Who is to blame in 1948, Syria is evil and Israel is a democracy …)

I will have to start limiting you to 5 comments per day

… that’s much more than the number of comments by the average contributor to this forum, it should be enough.

So try to use them when you have something relevant to you as an Israeli right wing extremist… Not to attack others while pretending you are a defender of Syrian and Lebanese rights and freedoms.

If we have a topic that is related directly to you … as in Syrian Israeli peace or an article on Israel’s strike on Syria .. then you can contribute as much as you want as long as you are discussing that topic and not picking fights with others.

Few weeks ago you and Simohurrta got engaged in endless discussions and I asked both of you to try to please slow down. Simo slowed down too much! (one comment per month?) … you are still flooding every single post with aggressive comments. What does that say about you? … remember that Simo did not bother anyone here ( …except you) .. whereas you offended and attacked the majority of people on this forum … in order to “gain you” we lost many others.

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February 5th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

147. Shai said:

Alex,

Did you get the message I sent yesterday?

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February 5th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

148. ausamaa said:

Alex,

Instead of making it FIVE comments per day for ANOTHERISRELIGUY why dont you open a subdirectory for AIG and AP so they can post all they want there, and where those interested in their and collect their endless pearls of wisdom. They have to sign a release and disclaimer that they will not sue you or syriacomment to seek a share of the profits should you one day find it worthwhile to publish their Complete Works.

Yeh, a subdirectory at the top of the page near under CARAGORIES would be great. Give it a thought!!

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February 5th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

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