Israel’s Strike – Was it a Warning to Iran? For Lebanon?

Was Israeli raid a dry run for attack on Iran? (Thanks to Deborah Campbell)
Peter Beaumont
Sunday September 16, 2007
The Observer

……Mystery surrounds last week's air foray into Syrian territory. The Observer's Foreign Affairs Editor attempts to unravel the truth behind Operation Orchard and allegations of nuclear subterfuge

Whatever the truth of the allegations against Syria – and Israel has a long history of employing complex deceptions in its operations – the message being delivered from Tel Aviv is clear: if Syria's ally, Iran, comes close to acquiring a nuclear weapon, and the world fails to prevent it, either through diplomatic or military means, then Israel will stop it on its own.

So Operation Orchard can be seen as a dry run, a raid using the same heavily modified long-range aircraft, procured specifically from the US with Iran's nuclear sites in mind. It reminds both Iran and Syria of the supremacy of its aircraft and appears to be designed to deter Syria from getting involved in the event of a raid on Iran – a reminder, if it were required, that if Israel's ground forces were humiliated in the second Lebanese war its airforce remains potent, powerful and unchallenged.

And, critically, the raid on Syria has come as speculation about a war against Iran has begun to re-emerge after a relatively quiet summer.

With the US keen to push for a third UN Security Council resolution authorising a further tranche of sanctions against Iran, both London and Washington have increased the heat by alleging that they are already fighting 'a proxy war' with Tehran in Iraq.

Perhaps more worrying are the well-sourced claims from conservative thinktanks in the US that there have been 'instructions' by the office of Vice-President Dick Cheney to roll out support for a war against Iran.

In the end there is no mystery. Only a frightening reminder. In a world of proxy threats and proxy actions, the threat of military action against Iran has far from disappeared from the agenda.

Ahmadinejad warns Saudi king against bid to divide Muslims, Gulf News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Saudi King Abdullah that the "enemies of Islam" were trying to divide the Muslim community, his website said on Saturday….

The Century Foundation, a paper by David Lesch, (.pdf) here (Via FLC)

Lesch "concludes that there have been a number of missed opportunities—spurned opportunities, in the case of the Bush administration—for dialogue and cooperation with Syria on suppressing Islamic terrorism, making peace with Israel, and creating political space in Lebanon. He blames neoconservative ideological hardliners in the administration and their allies in Congress for the sharp turn from constructive engagement to a complete disengagement. He says that while there have been hints of a possible softening of this policy in recent months, there is little evidence for thinking that there will be dramatic change in policy under the current administration"

"The Future of Lebanon" Panel Discussion, September 2007. Dr. Paul A. Jureidini, Dr. Omri Nir, Prof. Barry Rubin, Lee Smith, Dr. Jonathan Spyer

Dr. Omri Nir: The strengthening Shi'a community in Lebanon is not merely a matter of political mood or tactics, but also reflects the country's real situation. Given the demographic shift, I believe this is a kind of slow social and political revolution, which will eventually make the Shi'a the leading community in Lebanon. Neither the West or Israel is likely to have any influence on this process, though the Syrians could. Equally, it does not seem likely that there will be a serious alternative Shi'a leadership to Hizballah in the near future…

The strengthening Shi'a community in Lebanon is not merely a matter of political mood or tactics, but also reflects the country's real situation. Given the demographic shift, I believe this is a kind of slow social and political revolution, which will eventually make the Shi'a the leading community in Lebanon. Neither the West or Israel is likely to have any influence on this process, though the Syrians could. Equally, it does not seem likely that there will be a serious alternative Shi'a leadership to Hizballah in the near future…

Prof. Barry Rubin: I hope, though, that no one underestimates the forces opposed to Hizballah within Lebanon. Clearly, the government coalition was not deterred by assassinations or other attacks, and the fact is that this side could well represent 60 to 65 percent of the population. They are not going to give up and may well be able to resist a Hizballah takeover or letting that group have veto power. This will be especially true if the Lebanon government gets a sufficient amount of external help…

Dr. Omri Nir: Regarding the situation in Shi'a politics, there are some new opposition voices to Hizballah. But these rivals don't have mass popular support. The only potential alternative is AMAL, which seems will continue to be weak in the short term. Still, AMAL controls 15 seats in the Lebanese parliament while Hizballah controls only 14. In south Lebanon, AMAL controls 84 village councils while Hizballah controls 87, which isn't much more.

The question is, what is preventing AMAL's leader Nabih Berri from being the alternative? There are reasons for such. The current political crisis is actually helping Hizballah. It prevented the possibility of the government, which had traditionally identified with AMAL, from leading a reconstruction effort, and thus left all projects to Hizballah and its Iranian funding. In contrast, Hizballah is the second largest employer in Lebanon after the government. More than 35,000 families receive salaries directly from Hizballah.

The other reason is that Berri has taken on a role as a mediator among factions, a situation that Hizballah accepts as benefiting itself. This is both his power and his weakness.

Lee Smith: A majority in Lebanon has stood up to Hizballah and seems willing to do so even at the risk of civil war. … Lebanon is an extremely important example of how we can help a Middle East state behave like a state. A parallel–or contrast–should be drawn between the Lebanese government and the failed Fatah rule, through the Palestinian Authority, over Gaza.

Dr. Paul A. Jureidini: As for the Lebanese army, it held together in recent years, because everybody in Lebanon wanted it to. The minute a Lebanese party like Hizballah decides it doesn't care about whether the Lebanese army unravels, the Lebanese army will unravel. It's as simple as that….

The Shi'a community as a whole has no great respect for Nabih Berri. In contrast, the Syrians have full trust in Nabih Berri, because he is their man. They created him, they continue to support him…. The Shi'a community as a whole looks at Hizballah as a religious link with Iran. It has that kind of legitimacy.

Comments (26)


1. idaf said:

It was the only about the image and perception of who’s boss. All other things are making less and less sense!

Given all influx of conflicting “sources” we have seen so far from Israel and the US media on unbelievable alleged “hizballah targets” and “NK nuclear target” in northern Syria. And given the “message” theories (to Iran, to Lebanon, etc.), the only thing that is making sense is the following:

For a year, Israeli army was feeling desperately insecure, the perception of its deterrence capabilities reduced to a low level not seen before in the eyes of its public and neighboring Arabs. On the other hand, Syria’s military confidence after the war last summer increased to a level where Israel, the US and its Arab allies were feeling really uncomfortable.

The Israeli army badly needed a PR stunt that would change all these perceptions. This was no strategic strike on nuclear target, nor an attack on arms shipment (these allegations make no sense to any Syrian). This was merely a harmless slap on Syria’s face. A publicity and PR message to both peoples and armies in Syria and in Israel.

Josh, all these “messages” the media are proposing (to Iran, to Lebanon, etc.) are coming as a welcome extra bonus to Israel, or more accurately to the US administration.

My hunch is that there was no strike. Only a brief infiltration of airspace and all parties (Israel, US and Arab allies) are trying to milk this to the absolute last drop. It is a media strike rather than an actual military one. In short this was a publicity stunt that won’t cost Israel much but would have great impact on moral and image.

The 4 Israeli messages here were:
To the Israeli military: We are still superior. Pick your selves up and leave this state of low moral reached since the ware last summer.
To the Israeli public: The Israeli government is not as week as you think. Give us some more popularity points please! Oh and by the way, please return the investments and stop leaving Israel to your original countries of origin in Europe and the US.
To the Syrian people: Time’s up for your overconfidence after the war last summer. Go back to the pre July war moral. Stop feeling capable of regaining the Golan by force. Oh and how about you support Bashar less from now on after this humiliation?
To the Syrian government: OK, now that we humiliated you publicly, it’s time to talk peace. No way we were going to go back to negotiation when you were feeling confident militarily.

Just look at the PR campaign raged by the Israeli military in the last few days:
Mystery airstrike on Syria boosts Israeli military
Yadlin: Israeli deterrence restored
MI Chief: Israel has restored its deterrence capabilities
“Israeli deterrence impacting region”
Israeli deterrence reinstated, Military Intelligence chief says

Now, will Syria return the slap? Many believe that the real question here is the following: How will Syria return the slap?
As Imad Moustapha said: “[not responding] would not serve our national interests. That would be detrimental to our national interests, because it would encourage Israel to repeat the same intrusions and operations. As I have said, every reaction creates a reaction. If Israel calculates that they can do what they want, they’re making a big mistake, just as they made a mistake last summer [in 2006, by waging war against Hizbullah in Lebanon].”

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September 17th, 2007, 8:09 am

 

2. idaf said:

BTW, I talked to a military analyst recently and he said that given that the Israeli jets had extra fuel tanks, given the area they were supposed to attack was near the Iraqi border and given that the Israelis got secret codes from the Americans to avoid being hit by US fire, this all indicates that the Israeli jets were planning to continue their route to the Iraqi airspace after the accomplish their objectives (which makes more sense). Instead, they were surprised by Syrian fire (or surprised that they were locked on by Syrian radar even though they were flying on very low altitudes) and forced to U turn into Turkey and drop their munitions to be able to escape. The analyst thinks that this is an additional reason on why they dropped their fuel tanks on Syrian and Turkish land instead of using them to continue their route as planned.

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September 17th, 2007, 8:13 am

 

3. idaf said:

It was only about the image and perception of who’s boss. All other things are making less and less sense!

Given all influx of conflicting “sources” we have seen so far from Israel and the US media on unbelievable alleged “hizballah targets” and “NK nuclear target” in northern Syria. And given the “message” theories (to Iran, to Lebanon, etc.), the only thing that is making sense is the following:

For a year, Israeli army was feeling desperately insecure, the perception of its deterrence capabilities reduced to a low level not seen before in the eyes of its public and neighboring Arabs. On the other hand, Syria’s military confidence after the war last summer increased to a level where Israel, the US and its Arab allies were feeling really uncomfortable.

The Israeli army badly needed a PR stunt that would change all these perceptions. This was no strategic strike on nuclear target, nor an attack on arms shipment (these allegations make no sense to any Syrian). This was merely a harmless slap on Syria’s face. A publicity and PR message to both peoples and armies in Syria and in Israel.

Josh, all these “messages” the media are proposing (to Iran, to Lebanon, etc.) are coming as a welcome extra bonus to Israel, or more accurately to the US administration.

My hunch is that there was no strike. Only a brief infiltration of airspace and all parties (Israel, US and Arab allies) are trying to milk this to the absolute last drop. It is a media strike rather than an actual military one. In short this was a publicity stunt that won’t cost Israel much but would have great impact on moral and image.

The 4 Israeli messages here were:

To the Israeli military: We are still superior. Pick your selves up and leave this state of low moral reached since the ware last summer.

To the Israeli public: The Israeli government is not as week as you think. Give us some more popularity points please! Oh and by the way, please return the investments and stop leaving Israel to your original countries of origin in Europe and the US.

To the Syrian people: Time’s up for your overconfidence after the war last summer. Go back to the pre July war moral. Stop feeling capable of regaining the Golan by force. Oh and how about you support Bashar less from now on after this humiliation?

To the Syrian government: OK, now that we humiliated you publicly, it’s time to talk peace. No way we were going to go back to negotiation when you were feeling confident militarily.

Just look at the PR campaign raged by the Israeli military in the last few days:

Mystery airstrike on Syria boosts Israeli military – Scotsman

Yadlin: Israeli deterrence restored – J Post

MI Chief: Israel has restored its deterrence capabilities – Haaretz

“Israeli deterrence impacting region” – J Post

Israeli deterrence reinstated, Military Intelligence chief says – Ynetnews

Now, will Syria return the slap? Many believe that the real question here is the following: How will Syria return the slap?

As Imad Moustapha said: “[not responding] would not serve our national interests. That would be detrimental to our national interests, because it would encourage Israel to repeat the same intrusions and operations. As I have said, every reaction creates a reaction. If Israel calculates that they can do what they want, they’re making a big mistake, just as they made a mistake last summer [in 2006, by waging war against Hizbullah in Lebanon].”

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September 17th, 2007, 8:34 am

 

4. Bakri said:

IDAF there is more probability that the regime will bomb syrian cities than to answer to this attack…their past is the best proof of what nature they are,they are only effective when they use their soviet made weapons against syrian civilians.I dont think that the weakening of syria as people and nation is bad news for israel,israel has no problem if makhlouf or asad are amassing billions over billions and the syrian masses are crushed.

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September 17th, 2007, 9:24 am

 

5. norman said:

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Report: Fewer fighters enter Iraq from Syria
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post
WASHINGTON – The number of foreign fighters entering Iraq from Syria has decreased noticeably in recent months, corresponding to a similar decrease in suicide bombings and other attacks by the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.
“There is an early indication of a trend,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview. Border crossings from Syria that averaged 80 to 90 a month have fallen to “half or two-thirds of that over the last two or three months,” Petraeus said.

An intelligence official said that “the Syrians do appear to be mounting a crackdown on some of the most hardened terrorists transiting through the country, particularly al-Qaeda-affiliated foreign fighters.” The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said there also was evidence that the Syrians had been stopping return crossings by foreign fighters leaving Iraq.

Other administration officials, while confirming the decrease in border crossings, said they were not yet prepared to attribute it to Syrian action, instead citing increased U.S. operations against al-Qaeda inside Iraq and stepped-up cooperation by terrorist “source” countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in prohibiting travel to Damascus.

U.S. intelligence has said Saudis form the biggest group of foreigners fighting with al-Qaeda in Iraq. Petraeus also said his command was uncertain of the reason for the decrease, adding that “we’re watching it on the ground.”

A National Intelligence Estimate last month attributed an apparent crackdown in Syria to that government’s concern about the threat al-Qaeda posed to its stability. The estimate also assessed that Syria had stepped up its support to non-al-Qaeda groups to bolster their influence – and that of Damascus – in Iraq. Several Iraqi Sunni extremist groups opposed to the United States and al-Qaeda in Iraq are present in Damascus.

The Bush administration has said that interference from Iran and Syria helped spark and continues to fuel much of the sectarian violence in Iraq. Iran is charged with training, arming and funding Shiite militias.

The al-Qaeda in Iraq organization, which largely consists of Iraqi Sunnis, is said to be led by foreigners whose primary route into Iraq is through Syria. Syria is also believed by U.S. officials to be the primary route for foreign terrorists moving out of Iraq to return to their home countries in Arab countries, Europe and North Africa.

——————————————————————————–

N. Korea-Syria Nuclear Link?
The United States is keeping close watch on Syria and North Korea, the Pentagon chief said yesterday, amid suspicions the North Koreans are possibly cooperating with Syria on a nuclear facility.

“I think it would be a real problem,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Fox News Sunday when asked how the Bush administration would view such an effort.

A senior U.S. nuclear official said Friday that North Koreans were in Syria and that Syria may have had contacts with “secret suppliers” to obtain nuclear equipment.

Andrew Semmel, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, did not identify the suppliers, but said North Koreans were in Syria and that he could not exclude the possibility that the network run by disgraced Pakistan nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan may have been involved.

A state-run newspaper in Syria said in an editorial yesterday that “the magnitude of these false accusations might be a prelude to a new aggression against Syria.” Al-Thawra said suggestion of such nuclear cooperation was “a flagrant lie.”

North Korea’s minister to the country’s U.N. mission in New York, Kim Myong Gil, has dismissed the North Korea-Syria nuclear allegation as “groundless.”

– Associated Press

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September 17th, 2007, 1:25 pm

 

6. Murphy said:

Idaf,

If this, as you say, was an attempt at puerile one-upmanship from the Israelis, why are they not bragging about it, as is their wont? They know they are protected from any phony tut-tutting from the ‘international community’. The Israelis have not even admitted to the ‘mission’ at all, and the ‘leaks’ about the alleged target have been in the British and American, not Israeli press. It just doesn’t make sense.

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September 17th, 2007, 1:27 pm

 

7. norman said:

It did not succeed.

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September 17th, 2007, 1:48 pm

 

8. Observer said:

Olmert being as weak as he is now could you use all the publicity that he can get. A successful raid would have resulted in leaks here and there so that the “message” is delivered and the deterrence of the IAF resotred. In the ME where the prestige of the regimes is always at stake, not divulging the results of the raid is very unusal and points to failure rather than success. I am intrigued about the talk of retaliation on the part of the Syrians: is this a measure of increased confidence or increased nervousness?

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September 17th, 2007, 2:00 pm

 
 

10. why-discuss said:

I doubt Syria’s retaliation will be confrontational, they will probably make use of any of the numerous anti-israel forces available in the region to send a message to Israel: You have your jet fighters, we have the kamizazes!

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September 17th, 2007, 2:33 pm

 

11. IsraeliGuy said:

IDAF, I enjoyed reading your analysis, even if I don’t agree with every point.

However, it seems like many of the people are focusing on the Israeli comment to the reports (or the lack of it).

What about the Syrian response?
How come everybody in Syria are so silent?

Let’s assume for a moment that everything was nothing more than an Israeli PR stunt.
If I was Syria, here’s what I’d do:

1. Bring every reporter and cameraman from the international media I could find and ‘drag’ them to the bombing site (“wasteland”, as ambassador Moustapha said).

I’d let the foreign press document the fact that Israel hit nothing but a pile of sand in the desert.

Wouldn’t it be great to prove my case?
Won’t it shift the burden of explaining the matter to Israel?
Wouldn’t it prove the concept of ‘unjastefied Israeli egression”?
Wouldn’t it turn the claims of nuclear North Korean links to a one big joke?

However, “strangely”, it didn’t happen.
Maybe the Syrians know nothing about PR and that’s the reason why they didn’t do it.

Or maybe (and I know this sounds crazy…) – they don’t want anybody to document what really went on there.

2. Go to the UN Security Council and really push for a denunciation of Israel.

When a country really wants to do it, it can.
But we didn’t see such a real Syrian effort.
It looks like they don’t want the Security Council too look into the matter.

We didn’t hear about angry Syrian phone calls to the UN headquarters, asking how come the council has not convened yet.

Isn’t it weird?

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September 17th, 2007, 2:52 pm

 

12. Murphy said:

I agree that the muted response from Syria is as odd as the lack of comment from Israel. However, as I’ve said before, asking for TV cameras to come to the alleged target to ‘prove’ that it was merely ‘wasteland’ won’t silence the naysayers, as they will say that the Syrians simply took the gullible TV teams to what was indeed a piece of wasteland and pretended that it was the ‘real’ target. Besides, according to Mustapha, the Israelis did not bomb anything in Syria, so according to the Syrians there is nothing for foreign journalists to see.

Regarding the UN, I believe the Syrians did ‘report’ the incident but did not press for an official condemnation. I suppose you might say that the Syrians know the US will simply veto it, but that has never stopped them in the past. And yes,that is odd.

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September 17th, 2007, 3:05 pm

 

13. IsraeliGuy said:

Murphy, take a look at the interview:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20778660/site/newsweek/page/0/

Here’s a quote from it:

******************************
Q: How many bombs fell and what did they fall on?
A: They didn’t hit anything. They just fell on wasteland.

Q: So no casualties?
A: No, nothing.

Q: No physical damage to structures?
A: No. Just on the ground. And Turkey protested about the two fuel tanks that fell on the Turkish side.
******************************

Well, according to Ambassador Moustapha, the bombs “fell on wasteland” and “on the ground”, so there should be a bombing site to take the journalists to.

And if indeed, the Israelis bombarded nothing but piles of sand, why not bring the media and show that no real target in Syria was actually hit and the Israeli mission actually failed?

The questions I described in my previous comment still stand.

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September 17th, 2007, 3:53 pm

 

14. Murphy said:

“Well, according to Ambassador Moustapha, the bombs “fell on wasteland” and “on the ground”, so there should be a bombing site to take the journalists to.”

If I understood the Ambassador correctly, the ‘wasteland’ referred to was the Turkish area where the Israelis dropped their fuel tanks?

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September 17th, 2007, 3:58 pm

 

15. IsraeliGuy said:

Well, Murphy, that’s not what I understood from the text.
To me, it looks like Mr. Moustapha is talking about 2 separate incidents:

Incident #1: Israel bombarded the Syrian desert.
Incident #2: 2 Israeli fuel tanks fell on the Turkish side.

You can see that on the 1st question (asked about Syria while Turkey is not mentioned at all), Ambassador Moustapha says that “They didn’t hit anything. They just fell on wasteland”.

On the 2nd question, again, asking about Syrian casualties, the Ambassador says that there were none.

On the 3rd one, the Ambassador says that the bombs fell on the ground (I take it as Syrian ground) and mentions the fuel tanks that landed on the Turkish side.

The way he says that, makes me understand that everything he said up to this point, refers to the Syrian side.

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September 17th, 2007, 4:19 pm

 

16. SimoHurtta said:

Won’t it shift the burden of explaining the matter to Israel?

The normal system is to ask explanation from the one who is hurting the airspace. Just last week a Russian cargo plane flew about 5 kilometres inside Finnish airspace for some minutes over the Finnish gulf. The Finnish government has asked Russia for an explanation. This has happened several times in the past. Russia has said its sorry and promised to upgrade the training of the pilots and equipment. So behave normal countries.

Naturally it is Israel’s responsibility to explain what it did in Syria’s airspace. Syria has only to inform of the airspace violation and after that the ball is on Israel’s court. Let’s see if MK Zahava Gal-On’s efforts bring light to this issue. Acts of war can’t be some ministers’ and IAF’s private affairs in the Middle Easts only “(Jewish) democracy”. 🙂

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September 17th, 2007, 4:22 pm

 

17. Murphy said:

I think the Ambassador’s comments are a bit ambiguous: I still am not sure if he’s referring to the Syrian or Turkish side.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a red herring: those who want to believe that the Israelis are being very modest about the remarkable achievement of taking out North Korean nukes in the Syrian desert are going to believe it anyway. It really doesn’t matter how many TV camera crews the Syrians invite. Besides, as the above poster says, when one country violates another country’s airspace, the burden of explanation is on them, no matter how many tall tales of Hizballah arms/NK nukes they choose to spin. Yes, even when that country is Israel.

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September 17th, 2007, 4:37 pm

 

18. IsraeliGuy said:

It looks like we’re broadcasting on 2 different waves here 🙂

When the Palestinians tried to smuggle a weapons ship (called Karin A) a few years ago, Israel didn’t wait for the Palestinian explanations and it didn’t expect any.

Israel wanted to win the PR game and influence the international public opinion, so it started a media assault, bringing every foreign press rep they could find to the port and showing all the captured goods.

It was very effective.
It presented Yasser Arafat as a liar and it brought the relationship between the US and the Palestinians to the lowest point.

If you want to win, if you have a case, if you don’t have black holes in your story, if you have nothing to hide – you take action and bring your case to the world, immediately.

To me, it looks like the Syrians are interested to bury this story ASAP.

And regarding the Ambassador’s comments – well, I guess anyone will see what he wants to see, no matter what the text actually says 🙂

I wonder how this text will be understood if we’ll present it to 1,000 random internet surfers.

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September 17th, 2007, 4:55 pm

 

19. Murphy said:

“Israel wanted to win the PR game and influence the international public opinion, so it started a media assault, bringing every foreign press rep they could find to the port and showing all the captured goods.”

An apples and oranges comparison.

In the case of the Karine A, the Israelis had physical proof of what they said was Palestinian arms smuggling. In the case of the alleged ‘bombing’ in Syria, the Syrians would have to basically prove a negative. They would be taking foreign journos around some empty desert wasteland – of which there are hundreds of kilometers in Syria – and telling them, this is where Israel bombed. They would, in other words, be showing them nothing. It would not make for very dramatic TV, nor would it convince people who did not want to be convinced. As I’ve said, I agree that Syria’s relative silence is odd, and may well indicate that they do have something to hide, but I don’t think having Christian Amanpour or – god forbid – Anderson Cooper tour the Syrian desert would make much difference in the PR battle.

Anyway, your own references to Israel’s characteristic eagerness to fight propaganda wars only highlights the strangeness of their silence in this case. The Israelis are badly in need of a military PR coup right now, with their own people if nothing else. Surely the army that could boast about netting a Ballbeck shopkeeper called Hassan Nasrallah would be strutting its stuff over knocking out some Axis of Evil nukes?

“I wonder how this text will be understood if we’ll present it to 1,000 random internet surfers.”

Go ahead and wonder. I personally couldn’t care less.

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September 17th, 2007, 5:18 pm

 

20. SimoHurtta said:

Do you Israeliguy know what mean sovereign country and international law? Obviously not like many others there in Israel. You know only these terms when it suites you. Like with the UNSC resolutions.

The JP’s article of Assad’s furiousness is amusing Israeli propaganda. It says According to a report What report? The source is not mentioned. A report from Olmert or Livni? Or from IDF or Mossad? Or from Bolton or the Vice President’s office? Or from “Syrian opposition’s” office in Jerusalem?

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September 17th, 2007, 5:20 pm

 

21. IsraeliGuy said:

SIMOHURTTA, I see that you have some issues with the “Jewish Democracy” 🙂

Let me tell you that I don’t see things eye to eye with MK Zahava Gal-On.
However, I’m extremely happy that we have MK Zahava Gal-On (and her peers) in our system.

In Israel, anybody can criticize the government all day long, if they wish to do so.
They can do it on the Knesset podium, on the press, in demonstrations – wherever they choose.

It would be too scary to live in a place where you have only one monolithic way of thinking.
Who wants that?

But why stopping at Zahava Gal-On?
We have Arab parliament members who represent the Arab voice in the Israeli parliament (and they’re totally anti-Israel).

We have an open market for views and ideas and anybody can come forward and state his case and his beliefs.

But let me ask you this, SIMOHURTTA: where are the Zahava Gal-Ons of Syria (or the Arab world, in general) ?
Why can’t we see a similar open market of views and ideas there?

What will happen to a Syrian version of Zahava Gal-On if she dares to speak her mind about the Syrian regime?

I know, you don’t like the “Jewish Democracy”.
Can you bring me an example for an Arab democracy that has better standards?

I will certainly appreciate that.

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September 17th, 2007, 5:29 pm

 

22. SyriaComment - Syrian politics, history, and religion » Archives » Doubts about Israeli Strike Increase said:

[…] Idaf, a Syrian reader of S.C. living in the Gulf, had this to say of the Israeli strike: It was only about the image and perception of who’s boss. All other things are making less and less sense! […]

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September 17th, 2007, 6:03 pm

 

23. SimoHurtta said:

I know, you don’t like the “Jewish Democracy”.
Can you bring me an example for an Arab democracy that has better standards?

I will certainly appreciate that.

The issue is not to compare Israel to Arab countries as a democracy. One compares democracies against democracies. Of course everybody knows that Arab countries are not democracies. In a dictatorship rating one compares dictatorships. If I would put Israel in the dictatorship rating (where it should on factual basis be put), I could not say which is worse Israel or Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Well a little bit better than Saudi Arabia and as extreme religiously as Iran (and militarily more “extreme” as Iran).

Do you Israeliguy know any democracy where one race/religious group has superior rights over others? If you know name one. What if my country would have a legal system like Israel and the local Finnish Jews would have the same rights and would be treated like a Israeli Palestinian or Bedouin (citizens)? No bomb shelters for Jews, different schools with low funding, different land rights, Caterpillars destroying houses, no-go zones for Jews, Christian youth and religious extremists throwing stones at Jews and police laughing, entry limits on holy events to synagogues etc. Could you call that country a democracy? I certainly would not.

Maybe Israeliguy you should invest some time to study what democracy means. All people equal and not only in speeches and propaganda.

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September 17th, 2007, 9:14 pm

 

24. IsraeliGuy said:

*****************
“The issue is not to compare Israel to Arab countries as a democracy. One compares democracies against democracies.”
*****************

Well, I beg to differ.
I compare my country to my neighboring countries in the Middle East and not to Finland which is a world away.

When Finnish citizens want to evaluate themselves, I bet the first place they snoop around is right across their borders – in Scandinavia and not in Israel.

Naturally, everybody has a right to criticize Israel, but it looks odd when you read on a Syrian related blog some comments about the Jewish democracy.

I mean, if it was on a Finnish blog, ok, you’d might persuade me that Finland has a better democracy (and it may be true), but when it comes to Syria… Well… MMM…

I never claimed that Israel is the strongest democracy in the world.
It’s obviously not.

We still have work to do (as in many other fields), but we’re a relatively young country (compared to our neighbors) and I’m sure you’ll see more improvements as time passes.
We don’t stand still.

Regarding what you wrote about Israeli Arabs, just for your information, the same laws apply here both on Jews and Arabs (I’m talking about Israeli citizens).

All of us (Israeli Jews and Arabs) are being prosecuted on the same legal system.
Regarding bomb shelters: many Jews also don’t have bomb shelters, as we’ve seen in the last war.

I myself live in a building with no shelter and I live in a comfortable building in a pretty big city (in Israeli terms) right next to Tel Aviv.

I actually don’t know if there’s a public shelter anywhere near my home.

Regarding different schools – it depends.
As an Israeli, you go to the closest school to your home.

In cities where Arabs usually don’t live (like mine) you don’t find Arab students.
In Arab cities or villages, you’ll find local schools with… yeah – Arabs.

In mixed cities it’s very common to have Jewish, Christian and Muslim students, study together.

So if you tried to portray a false picture of segregation (like the US in the 50’s or so) – sorry to ‘disappoint’ you, but it’s not the case here.

Caterpillars are destroying every house that will be built illegally in Israel.

Your claim actually makes me smile, because the right wing opposition here is constantly blaming the government that it’s not confronting in a serious manner the illegal building of houses by Israeli Arabs, but enforcing the law on Jews only.

Well, I guess everybody complain 🙂

I couldn’t understand your comments on: “no-go zones for Jews, Christian youth and religious extremists throwing stones at Jews and police laughing, entry limits on holy events to synagogues”, so feel free to elaborate.

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September 17th, 2007, 10:33 pm

 

25. SimoHurtta said:

Naturally, everybody has a right to criticize Israel, but it looks odd when you read on a Syrian related blog some comments about the Jewish democracy.

Well doesn’t it look odd when Israeli Jews lecture to Arabs of their superior “democracy” in a Syria related blog? Can people write comments to blogs only if they live lets say 500 kilometres from the blogs “target area”. Part of my tax money goes to Palestine to repair the damages of the occupation, my countrymen have guarded the peace for decades on your borders in Lebanon, Golan and Sinai after the conflicts your “tribe” has caused. So I see that I have a right to say my opinion.

On the other hand this our Jewish democracy discussion started from my remark that its odd that in Israel matters and acts of war seem to be a small inner circle’s private matter. You yourself asked me to explain how I see “Jewish Democracy”. So blame yourself for bringing up this interesting topic.

Regarding what you wrote about Israeli Arabs, just for your information, the same laws apply here both on Jews and Arabs (I’m talking about Israeli citizens).

Of course the same laws apply to Jews and other citizens. The problem is that laws favour the Jews. Do you understand the difference?

I couldn’t understand your comments on: “no-go zones for Jews, Christian youth and religious extremists throwing stones at Jews and police laughing, entry limits on holy events to synagogues”, so feel free to elaborate.

Why aren’t in your town Arabs? Maybe this answers your confusion about no-go zones. Can an Arab family buy a house next to you? Maybe a no-living zone would be a better definition.

Doesn’t Israel frequently limit the amount of people attending to the ceremonies in main mosques?

Caterpillars are destroying every house that will be built illegally in Israel.

You must be joking, when was the last time an illegal Jewish house was bulldozed? The fact is that Jews get always the building permits (even on a land owned by others). Muslims and Christians almost never.

It is rather useless to discuss about this topic further with you. If you would be a Palestinian or Bedouin Israeli citizen you would certainly see Israeli democracy from a different angle, as the polls clearly show. I suppose that most South African whites were satisfied with their “democracy” during Apartheid time, the non-whites not. 🙂

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September 18th, 2007, 5:49 am

 

26. Friend in America said:

Last week this writer suggested looking at a possible North Korean-Syrian nuclear link. Within several days this became a story in a few newspapers in Europe and North America. I am still looking for confirmation, which may continue to be elusive, but consider Ambassador Mustapha’s interview in Murphy’s link. He states the IAF aircraft did not drop their munitions in Dawr az Zawr but in desolate land outside that “major city”. Well, there is a nuclear facility 4km outside Dawr az Zawr and it is in desolate land. Did the Ambassador slip up? As mentioned last week the Dayr az Zawr facility is only a “miniture” nuclear reactor at a research facility.

When asked about possible retaliation, the ambassador said he was not informed on military matters. It seems to me nuclear weapons are “military matters.” So, I interpet his statement to mean he is only selectively informed and Syria realizes the subject is too volatile for a disclosure at this time. Israel realizes this as well. Hence the silence. I think it is in the interest of world peace that neither govenment should be pressured into making full disclosures at this time.
Last week I also passed on another report claiming North Korean technicians were killed in the strike. I am still looking for verification. An article by Global Security reported Iranian engineers and about a dozen Syrian officers were killed last July while loading a chemical warhead onto a rocket. But, that incident took place close to Syria’s military facilities in the desert, not near Dayr az Zawr. But are these the deaths?
Does Israel have the responsibility to explain why its aircraft invaded Syria air space? Perhaps. But it won’t until it becomes necessary. There is one certain observation – neither Israel nor Syria are ready for a full disclosure and would rather the world’s media would cool it for now.
If the full story breaks, it will be on the internet or by very well connected investigative reporters.

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September 18th, 2007, 9:58 pm

 

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