Lebanese Sovereignty continued

The tangled relations between Lebanon and Syria prompted a debate in the comment section over sovereignty that may interest some readers.

Qifa Nabki – A Lebanese contributor – took issue with my optimistic view of Syria's recognition of Lebanese sovereignty 

Dear Joshua

Good post, especially the anecdote about Ambassador Moustapha and your subsequent analysis.

I agree that the latest signs are encouraging, but would still point out the obvious, namely that there are two ways to read them. The skeptical view regards the Syrian-Lebanese relationship as essentially unchanged, and the establishment of diplomatic ties and demarcation of borders as mere window dressing. The view that you express presents the relationship as changing in substantive ways. How does one determine which view is correct? At the end of the day, the proof of Syrian intentions vis-a-vis Lebanon will be in the muhallabieh.

Even if one chooses to be optimistic (as I do), there is still the problematic caveat which reserves for Damascus its security interests and sphere of influence in Lebanon. If Syria’s ruling regime is the sole arbitrator of what these interests and influence encompass, then the relationship between the two countries will be placed on a slippery slope once again.

In my opinion, the best way to improve the relationship is by directly addressing some of the principal sources of resentment, like the Lebanese prisoners in Syria, and the demarcation of all borders. These issues, however, are small potatoes compared to the damage that the relationship will sustain if Syria uses Hizbullah to turn up the heat on Israel again, with all of Lebanon paying the price.

In 2009, Lebanon will hold what may be the first relatively free and fair elections in its history. If all goes well, the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon should be treated as a guest of honor by the new Lebanese PM, if only for having purposely and faithfully relinquished his historical ‘right’ to know the man’s identity in advance.

Joshua responds:

Dear QN, You write:

“These issues, however, are small potatoes compared to the damage that the relationship will sustain if Syria uses Hizbullah to turn up the heat on Israel again, with all of Lebanon paying the price.”

Syria will undoubted encourage Hizbullah to turn up the heat on Israel if peace talks go no where. What else can it do? The only reason Israel is talking to Syria today is because Olmert couldn’t destroy Hizbullah by force of arms. Without Hizbullah, there would be no talks or hope of Syria getting back the Golan, I fear.

This all means that Syria will try to keep that card an ace.

That, you will say, suggests that Syria really has no regard for Lebanese sovereignty. I would argue that what it really means is that Syria places its own national interests above those of Lebanon and that Lebanon is too weak to deny Syria Hizbullah.

We get back to the old question of how Lebanese should try to deal with it annoying Syria problem.

Lebanese should support Syria’s cause of getting back the Golan as best they can, rather than trying to thwart it, as Geagea et al do.

They, of course, believe Syria wants to own Lebanon and unify, which helps explain why they would prefer to side with Israel to defeat Syria. I think we have proven that this is a losing strategy for Lebanon.

Supporting Syria’s claim to the Golan may also be a losing strategy, but, at least, many Israelis still say that they will return it under the right circumstances.

best, Joshua

Qifa Nabki:

Dear Joshua

I don’t think Geagea and company are trying to “thwart” Syria’s cause of getting back the Golan. Nobody in Lebanon sits at home dreaming up ways to make sure that Syria never sees its Golan again. The people you’re talking about are motivated, as you say, by fears of Syria’s designs on Lebanon, but this does not mean that they have “side[d] with Israel to defeat Syria.”

In my opinion, the problem with your formulation of the relationship is that something that represents a threat to Syrian interests is characterized as “thwarting” the Syrian cause, while something that threatens Lebanese interests is acceptable because Syria’s interests have to come first.

I’m happy to accept the rules of the game if we are engaging in a cold, calculating realpolitik, but then why all the moral indignation when Lebanon’s politicians strike back to protect their own country?

I’d venture to say that for most Lebanese, the Golan is not a cause they they feel strongly enough about to actively support or actively thwart. They, like Syrians, have their own interests in mind, not those of their neighbor. This being the case, I think that we should not paint one side out to be spoilers and collaborators, just because some of their members don’t see eye to eye with the other side’s project.

In any case, I am in agreement with you that everybody will be far better off if Syria and Lebanon’s leadership are on the same page, vis-a-vis Israel. That’s why I’ve argued time and again that Lebanon should be included in the current negotiations.

Akbar Palace (An American Jew)

Professor Josh,

How about improving the lives of Syrians? …  Your post and comments are Proof Positive of how the Arab-Israeli conflict has been hijacked by Arab despots to keep Arab societies backward, seething, destitute and broken.

Do you think this blog is your small contribution to getting the Golan back? Is getting back the Golan the only issue Syrians are concerned with, or is this the only issue Syrian LEADERS are concerned with?;)

Thanks.

Joshua:

Dear QN,

I understand Lebanese outrage at Syria. I think I know why Geagea and Junbalat do what they do. Geagea and the Gemayyels, etc. did side with Israel against Syria when Israel was a real player in Lebanon during the 1980s. I understood that as well. If they could convince the majority of Lebanese to join them in siding with Israel, it would make great sense. Israel is much richer than Syria, has good relations with the West, and could get Lebanon all kinds of special trade agreements, tariff breaks, capital inflows, etc. The only problem was that they failed to get Lebanese to go along with them because of the Arabism issue.

I think you will have a hard time finding me outraged at their treason, largely because I do not think their opinions or behavior are treason anymore than I think Hizbullah’s behavior and alliance with Syria constitute treason. There may be people writing on this blog who believe that, but I do not.

My argument is that they will lose and bring further trouble on Lebanon’s head. The best way for Lebanese to attenuate Syria's policies of interference in Lebanon is for Lebanese to support Syria in its efforts to have the Golan returned. The sooner border disputes between Israel and its neighbors can be settled, the sooner Lebanon's border and sovereignty disputes are likely to be settled. Both Syrians and Palestinians use their on going struggle to liberate their lands from Israeli control as an excuse to violate Lebanese sovereignty. This may be morally wrong in the world of international law, but in the darker world on national interest, Syria and the Palestinians see it as their only option.

I agree with you that Syria should include a Lebanese representative at the table with it during talks with Israel. I also know Syria well enough to know that if that representative argues against linking Lebanon to Syria’s foreign policy agenda, Syria will exclude them. Many Lebanese do not believe it is in their country’s interest to be in Syria’s sphere on influence.

QN: "Dear Joshua, You are the oracle of realism."

Idaf (An Aleppine working in the Gulf)

Joshua,

I enjoyed your realistic analysis of the Syrian views on Lebanese sovereignty. I also enjoyed your exchange with QN. From my interactions with Syrians from all backgrounds during the past couple of years, I will make the following generalizations on how Syrians today view Lebanese sovereignty:

The majority of Syrians today have bitter taste when you mention the word "Lebanon" (similar to what the majority of "Lebanese" had (still has?) for years when the word "Syria" was mentioned). This is due to the anti-Syrian demagogic media campaign that lasted for around three years by the Lebanese and Saudi media. With the exception of the racist campaign during the 90s in Kuwaiti media against Iraqis (which was limited only to Kuwait), that hysteric anti-Syria campaign was unprecedented in the Arab media history in terms of magnitude and kind. It had an overarching supremacist tendency with a derogatory flavor towards every thing Syrian. Ordinary Syrians were bitterly insulted and this is taking its time to heal (one should note that Hassan Nasrallah singlehandedly healed most of this already with his continuous gestures to Syrians since the "thank you Syria" speech on March 8 2005 till today). For the overwhelming majority of Syrians, this offensive campaign was uncalled for. The ordinary Syrians had nothing to do with anything that took place in Lebanon. Moreover, they didn’t even know what the security apparatus did there (many might’ve had an idea but were in denial). All they knew for certain was that close to 15,000 of their sons sacrificed their lives to stop the bloodshed in that "sisterly" country. However, things are interestingly on the contrary with regards to how Syrians view the Lebanese people. Even the most vocal and pride-injured Syrian will deal with any Lebanese person (regardless of the background) as "just another Syrian". This was clear in the way those same Syrians reacted to the Lebanese people during the 2006 war on Lebanon.

Because of the bitter feelings I described above, most ordinary Syrians I met during the past couple of years wanted nothing to do with Lebanon anymore (even many of those who used to believe that Lebanon is a stolen part of Syria). The adage you keep hearing from those Syrians when the subject of Lebanon’s problems came up was "فخار يكسر بعضه" (a saying that indicate a mix of indifference and glee) or the lighter one you hear from the older women "الله يسعدن ويبعدن" ("god bless them and keep them away from us"). These sentiments indicate a shift in view of Lebanon as a country among ordinary Syrians. It is now viewed as a troubled area that is better kept away from Syria. Partly because of the political headaches it brings, but also in part because of the genuine fear that Syrians have of the infectious nature of the sectarianism in Lebanon.

I agree with Joshua that the exception for the above description is the older generation of Syrians who still remember going to the sea-side "Syrian cities" Beirut and Tripoli to visit their relatives. It is virtually impossible to persuade that generation that this is no more a Syrian land carved out by the imperialist French to separate their families and lands. One should note that this was the majority view of the people in the region since early 21th century according to the first ever poll in modern Arab history.

Finally, in both countries, you still have groups of people that ideologically believe that Syria and Lebanon are one. You have the Islamists with their Khilafa and Bilad el-Sham view of the region. You also have the secular SSNP members who still believe and work towards a unified country that includes Syria and Lebanon (among others). They are probably the only secular group in the two countries that is vocal and ideologically driven towards this goal as its followers belong to every single sect in the two countries. The Arab nationalists (including the Baathis) are becoming less ideological in their views of the two countries.

I would add the following to the "sphere of influence" comment by Joshua: Regardless of the shape or form of the regime in Damascus, Syria will ALWAYS strive to have a level of influence in Lebanon equal to or greater than the political influence of any other regional or external country. In other words, Syria’s influence in Lebanon will match or exceed the influence exercised either by Israel, Saudi, US, France, Iran, etc. For Syria, regardless of who is in control in Damascus, it is not about Lebanon, it’s a matter of Syrian national security. The external powers will always strive to increase their influence in Lebanon not just for gaining control of this country, but geopolitically, it has been always a matter of exploiting Lebanon to undermine Syria as well.

For Lebanon to reduce Syria’s influence, it has to try to minimize all others. With the current political structure in Lebanon that invites external influence by design from multiple players, this is a very tough objective to achieve. Lebanon’s best bet to reduce Syria’s influence is to establish a strong secular state that is perceived as representative by the overwhelming majority of Lebanese AND one that is perceived by Syria as a friendly one. This could reduce the influence of all external powers in Lebanon, including the Syrian one. As long as the rulers of Damascus see the influence of another county grow in Lebanon they will be forced to increase their own. It is both a matter of regime survival for non-democratic regimes in Syria as well as a Syrian national security imperative for any democratic or non-democratic Syrian governments alike.

Why Discuss: (A Canadian Lebanese, brought up in Egypt, who lived many of his working years in the Gulf)

QN, Josh

Whether they want it or not, all lebanese will have to hang on to Syria if they want to solve the overlooked and sensitive issue of the 500,000 palestinians refugees in Lebanon. Without Syria and Hezbollah, there will be no way Lebanon can have a solution for the refugees. When the syria-israeli talks will become serious, Lebanese anti-syrian leaders will have to swallow their pride and ask Syria to include the Lebanese issues in the negotations, or maybe they would still dream that the international community will negotiate for them?.  The question will be : What price Syria will ask for that?

Another Israeli Guy:

QN, I am surprised you are surprised by the Landis view on Lebanon. If the Syrian regime were not made of ruthless SOBs they would not be in power. And keeping the regime in power is important because otherwise Syria becomes like Iraq, that is the axiom of this blog. So what if Lebanon has to suffer for the “cause”?

I just don’t think though that Syria will be able to make Hizballah go to war on its behalf anymore even when the peace talks fail as of course they will. The cost of war for Lebanon is just too large even if it entails a “divine victory” and Hizballah know this. I hope Hizballah and Aoun win the 2009 elections decisively. That will really help Israel and create a huge headache for Syria.

Addendum: by Love you Alex

Idaf, Why-Ask, and Professor Landis are all spot on in their analysis:
  1. No one in Syria even the ideologues want to occupy and remove Lebanon from the map.
  2. Syria has strategic interest in Lebanon and Lebanon has Syria as a strategic depth and land passage to the lucrative markets of Iraq and the gulf.
  3. Syria and Lebanon need each other and have mutual benefits in a unified front in their negotiation with Israel. Syria wants the Golan (its land stolen by Israel) back, and Lebanon needs to guarantee that the Palestinian do not get Lebanese nationality and are able to go back to northern Galilee.
  4. No matter who is in government, Syria needs to insure that pro-Syrian elements no matter where they come from have the upper hand in Lebanon, so Lebanon does not become an easy passage to Israeli tanks to encircle Damascus and a base of operation for fundamentalist elements to destabilize Syria.
Finally:
Syria deserves credit for saving Lebanon, After Lebanon slipped into a civil war, Syria, under the auspices of the Arab League and the consent of the United States, entered Lebanon, ended the civil war and reunited the country by enforcing the Taef agreement, Syria also supported the Lebanese resistance in their successful bid to liberate the south from Israeli occupation. All while hosting tens of thousand of Lebanese of all denominations as refugees.

Those supporters of Israel (AIG) have to get off their high horse when it comes to morality. They should pay attention to Israel racist project, exporting Arabs and importing Jews to create a for Jews only democracy. Israel has cleansed 480 Christian and Muslim Arab Villages and continues today chasing them into their refugee camps.

Comments (74)


Qifa Nabki said:

The End

(Just wanted to make sure I had the last word.)

😉

August 26th, 2008, 3:14 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

Not so fast.

August 26th, 2008, 3:27 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I’m a celebrity!

Thanks QN!

August 26th, 2008, 3:38 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

Is your wife an American or an Arab,

Are you going to Lebanon to live and are you going to teach ,

Philip Salim was on LBC ,

He was the first oncologist to prove that you can give Cisplatinum over 3 or 5 days instead of in one day , that will decrease the toxicity ,

He was saying that March 14 did two major mistakes

1 ) putting all their eggs in the West basket and not making Lebanon their main concern

2) attacking Syria and enticing hate as that made it difficult to build the Lebanese institutions ,

He added that secular institutions and elections are the only way to build Lebanon.

August 26th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

My wife is an American . We are moving to Beirut for a little less than a year, where I will be working on my dissertation. It’s also an opportunity for my daughter to be around her grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.

We are looking forward to it.

I also agree that secular institutions and elections are the only way forward.

August 26th, 2008, 4:52 pm

 

norman said:

My wife is too.

We have two TVs one for Arabic and news and one for Desperate house wives and Gray’s Anatomy.

August 26th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

I’m not sure if and when Hizbullah gets into a fight with Israel again, Syria will be spared.

August 26th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

Naji said:

On ANB now: an excellent talk with Metanious Quntar, a respected Lebanese economist and ex-minister, on Syrian and Lebanese economies and politics, …crony capitalism, …etc. Well worth watching and includes many interesting details, statistics, and forcast of the economic outlook for both countries and and potential for cooperation to meet the upcoming challanges…

August 26th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

love you Alex said:

Idaf, Why Ask, and Professor Landis are all spot on in their analysis:

1. No one in Syria even the ideologues want to occupy and remove Lebanon from the map.
2. Syria has strategic interest in Lebanon and Lebanon has Syria as a strategic depth and land passage to the lucrative markets of Iraq and the gulf.
3. Syria and Lebanon need each other and have mutual benefits in a unified front in their negotiation with Israel. Syria wants the Golan (its land stolen by Israel) back, and Lebanon needs to guarantee that the Palestinian do not get Lebanese nationality and are able to go back to northern Galilee.
4. No matter who is in government, Syria needs to insure that pro-Syrian elements no matter where they come from have the upper hand in Lebanon, so Lebanon does not become an easy passage to Israeli tanks to encircle Damascus and a base of operation for fundamentalist elements to destabilize Syria.
Finally:

Syria deserves credit for saving Lebanon, After Lebanon slipped into a civil war, Syria, under the auspices of the Arab League and the consent of the United States, entered Lebanon, ended the civil war and reunited the country by enforcing the Taef agreement, Syria also supported the Lebanese resistance in their successful bid to liberate the south from Israeli occupation. All while hosting tens of thousand of Lebanese of all denominations as refugees.

Those supporters of Israel (AIG) have to get off their high horse when it comes to morality. They should pay attention to Israel racist project, exporting Arabs and importing Jews to create a for Jews only democracy. Israel has cleansed 480 Christian and Muslim Arab Villages and continues today chasing them into their refugee camps.

August 27th, 2008, 2:25 am

 

Shai said:

Norman, QN,

“My wife is too. We have two TVs one for Arabic and news and one for Desperate house wives and Gray’s Anatomy.”

Same here… But the first is for the girls’ shows.

August 27th, 2008, 4:44 am

 

norman said:

Shai,

You have to assert yourself and get your own TV.

August 27th, 2008, 11:58 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

He shoots… he scores!

August 27th, 2008, 12:03 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

They should pay attention to Israel racist project…

Love you Alex,

Don’t let the facts disturb your mythological database…

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3588502,00.html

Other “Projects” no one on this forum tend to discuss:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1049021/Pictured-The-dramatic-moment-15-year-old-Iraqi-suicide-bomber-gave-up.html

Same here…

Shai –

Which Arabic news station do you watch?;)

August 27th, 2008, 12:26 pm

 

norman said:

Chanel 2.

August 27th, 2008, 12:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

I know the very notion of watching Arab news stations is inconceivable to you, being enemy propaganda tools used to brainwash a billion Muslims, and if possible, a few liberal Jews… You know, I’m tempted to ask you – how many Arabs have you known in your lifetime? How many have you had a 30 minute conversation with, face-to-face? What do you know of our “enemy”, aside from internet links, and a few blog exchanges each week?

It always astonishes me, when people who know next to nothing about a particular subject, certainly about a particular people, pretend to understand them so well. At the very least, do you turn on Arab news channels on your Satellite TV every once in a while? Just to see that most Arab faces on TV don’t look like they’re ready to strap a few kilos of TNT to their daughter? Or do you see that extremism in almost every direction you look?

August 27th, 2008, 2:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Do you occasionally let the world influence your beliefs?
Which of the following facts do you not agree with:
1) There is not one democracy in the Arab world unless you count Lebanon.
2) Nasrallah is the most popular leader in the Arab world. A person considered a terrorist by many.
3) Martyrdom and a death cult are prevalent mostly in the Arab world.

And the list could go on for a long time. Normal people looking around may just come to the conclusion that the Arabs in general are quite extremists. Is every Arab an extremist? Of course not, but except for a relatively small number of brave souls, most Arabs are doing nothing to combat extremism in their society. Instead they blame Israel. I have met many liberal Arabs and talked to them in depth. In the end, my conclusion is that they are quite confused. They want modernity and democracy on one hand but without sucumbbing to Western hegemony whatever that means. Some for example, live in the US and curse it. They justifiably get angry when civil rights of people are trampled on in the US but are not willing to hold their countries to the same standard. All in all, a sad situation.

August 27th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I refuse to believe that most Arabs (or most any other people on the planet) are extremists. I also refuse to view Osama Bin Laden the same way as I do Ismail Hanniyeh. Both are my enemies, but with one I might be able to talk, with the other, I cannot. One is a fanatic terrorist, while the other is a determined resistance leader. Unfortunately, many of the tactics used by resistance movements in the Middle East have indeed entailed use of terrorism. We Jews have also used terrorism against others, we should remember. Does that make all Jews terrorists? This year, next year, or a decade from now, we will have to sit down with those same “terrorists”, in the form of Hamas. Sinn Fein was also considered a terrorist organization.

AIG, I still don’t get your arrogant views of others. How can you make a statement (referring to liberal Arabs) like: “In the end, my conclusion is that they are quite confused.”? Could it be that YOU do not understand the Arabs? Could it be that YOU should not put yourself in a position of suggesting to another people how they should behave, or how they should gain their sought-after freedom? What right do YOU have to so-omnisciently suggest what is right, and what is wrong, for Arabs? Do you think Arabs should do the same for the Jewish people? Would you respect such Arabs?

You gotta take some more of those vitamin-H pills (humility), my friend. If not for you, it may help others listen to you more. I’m allowing myself to say, that from what I see, your style is not a very convincing one. In reality, most Arabs want freedom and democracy. You don’t need objective polls to tell you that. And yet, most Arabs disagree with your “special recipe”. Aside from “they’re confused”, have you no other idea why that may be the case?

August 27th, 2008, 3:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Everything is possible but we have to evaluate things based on our best judgement. Having examined the evidence my conclusion is that there is terrible confusion in the Arab view on how to deal with democracy and modernity. I can give many examples but the best proof is this blog. You have well educated Arabs living in the West, willing to fight for their rights in their adopted countries, or taking them for granted, BUT when it comes to the Syria, they understand, or accept or even support the current status quo and in many cases go out of their way to argue for repressive regimes.

As for the general Arab public, is their hero a Nelson Mandela? Some human rights activist like the Dalai Lama? A political leader like Ghandi? No, they adore Nasrallah, a blatantly pro-Islamic rule cleric who cherishes martyrdom. They adore people who they preceive as hurting Israel and not people who would help them build better countries. That is extremisim in my book.

August 27th, 2008, 3:24 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I know the very notion of watching Arab news stations is inconceivable to you, being enemy propaganda tools used to brainwash a billion Muslims, and if possible, a few liberal Jews…

Shai,

We used to watch Arab TV all the time, especially for the old movies.

Other than that, one is at risk for hearing about Zionist aggression on a daily basis.

Then there is MEMRI, the organization that scours the Arab Media for anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. They’d be billionaires if they could turn that filth into gold…

You know, I’m tempted to ask you – how many Arabs have you known in your lifetime?

Not too many. How many Germans have you known? I actually worked with a Syrian-American here is the US. He was a very nice person, but I can’t say I knew his inner workings, and we never delved too deeply into the Arab-Israeli conflict. I’m sure that was a good decision.

How many have you had a 30 minute conversation with, face-to-face? What do you know of our “enemy”, aside from internet links, and a few blog exchanges each week?

Yes. I learned that his father was fairly high in the Baathist party until they decided he wasn’t a good Ba’athist anymore. They went from riches to rags…

It always astonishes me, when people who know next to nothing about a particular subject, certainly about a particular people, pretend to understand them so well.

Me too.

At the very least, do you turn on Arab news channels on your Satellite TV every once in a while?

I’m not aware of any.

Just to see that most Arab faces on TV don’t look like they’re ready to strap a few kilos of TNT to their daughter?

Oh, like the ones shown on PA TV?

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1679.htm

Or do you see that extremism in almost every direction you look?

I just see extremism on this website and in the news. I don’t usually have to go out of my way.

AP

August 27th, 2008, 3:29 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG, AP,

So why are you guys here? If this is an extremist site, supported by “confused” people who will fight for their rights abroad, but not in Syria? Are you hoping to change anyone? Are you bridging any gaps? Are you trying to understand other people’s rationale? What benefit do you receive, from coming here each and every day, if you are not willing to change your thinking?

Many here agree that the Arabs need to also exercise (perhaps chiefly) nonviolent resistance, and civil disobedience. They too are hoping for the emergence of an Arab “Nelson Mandela”. But I don’t think I’ve heard one commentator here support dictatorships, or withholding human rights, have you? When someone tells you that a violent revolution to overthrow a current leader, or interference by the United States (like in Iraq), is not the way to bring about democracy and change in Syria, why do you deduce that he/she are therefore supporting a dictator? And, to be honest, why are YOU even having a conversation with Arabs about the way to bring about change internally? What record, or qualification, do you have to discuss such internal issues with Syrians? Again, don’t you see the arrogance in so doing?

August 27th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
When Asad I after 33 years of glorious rule bequeaths Syria to HRH Asad II for additional decades of rule and many bloggers have learned to live with this, it may not be direct support for dictators, but it comes pretty close. Once you stop minding dictators being in power, for all practical purposes, you have become their supporters. OTW is such an example.

And if you haven’t noticed, not one blogger here has any concrete plan on how to bring democracy to Syria. In fact, many believe that it is not even in Syria’s hands and “others” have to change before Syria has become a democracy. The Landis view is that Syria will not become a democracy because the Syrian elites do not want this to happen.

August 27th, 2008, 4:02 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

So why are you guys here?

Shai,

I’m here to promote human rights in Israel and the U.S. while keeping the same Arab despots in power for generations.

Did I pass?;)

August 27th, 2008, 4:09 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

AP

There are extremists everywhere, some posts on this forum are extreme, and in fact are more extreme on internal issues than on issues related to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

However, you may have noticed how repulsed I am by the religuous police in KSA and Iran and now in Yemen. Yet, I was shocked to find that Israel is showing some symptoms of such practice.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009580.html

This is in a country that is on the verge of becoming a world leader in technology and venturing into major biomedical breakthroughs as reported inuToday’s Haaretz (Parkinson disease treatment that slow the progression of the disease has been developed by an Israeli company).

BTW, in Haaretz today there is a photo that is worth a million dollar, it is a tonnes more valueable than the entire MEMRI propaganda. It is a photo of the Israeli Palestinian Peace team hugging before the turney.

Thank you Aussies.

I have more to say, but I got to go to work now. As the
esteemed Charles once, or twice said

Adios Amicie

August 27th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

OTW,

I agree with your repulsion of any religious extremism. But why are you not repulsed when Asad puts Kilo in jail?

You are continuing the trend of Arabs being repulsed at what is happening in other Arab countries but not at what is happening in their own country.

August 27th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Well, I think Joshua knows a tiny bit more about Syria than, say, you or I do. So if I was open minded, I might listen to him. I’m truly shocked that you are honestly expecting OTW, Alex, Naji, or Norman to yell “Down with Assad”. You are completely ignoring their rationale for not believing in your democracy-by-force model. Or for not believing democracy can even appear in the near future. Why do you insist that when one doesn’t wish to see a second-Iraq appear in Syria, that means he is supporting the current regime? Why can’t he be against both? We can’t he be for reform, yet not for reform AIG-style? Is your way the only way? Commentators here have certainly discussed how Syria might begin to change. You just don’t accept what they say. Or you call them “confused”.

If you can’t find common ground with OTW (amongst many others here), not about how to change Syria, but how to bring Syria and Israel together, then why are you here? AP didn’t understand this question, but maybe you do. Why do you come to SC each and every day, when you know your democracy argument has exhausted everyone, and you’re bringing nothing new to the table? You’re not willing to change your views, you don’t accept arguments by 90% of the Syrians here (about Syria!), and you certainly don’t project an ability for self-introspection when it comes to Israel. When someone brings up the notion of unequal treatment (not to mention racism) toward Arab-Israelis, you don’t say “you’re right, it’s wrong”, but instead you compare their per-capita income to that of other Arabs in the region.

Can’t you see what others see?

August 27th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

Jad said:

Shai,
When “someone” says (As for the general Arab public, is their hero a Nelson Mandela? Some human rights activist like the Dalai Lama? A political leader like Ghandi? No,….)!!!!!!!!
Who are the ‘heroes’ him and his’ same mentality people see on their Israelis TV channels? I wonder, are they seeing the war criminal his governments have as heroes?….human right activist? PLEASE, you should read what they did to an Israeli Prof. who joins the ‘free gaza’ trip when he gets back to Israel…..hypocrisy…
I’m sorry for you Shai that you have to deal with people like that every day…the bright side is that you already have the vision and you don’t give up trying to make such people try to open their eyes…as I said before I doubt that it will work, but keep trying we never know…

August 27th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

Off The Wall said:

AIG

I am repulsed, angry, and depressed about Kilo and any prisoner of concious in Syria and everywhere. My first post after the release of Dalila was happy for that, but also cautious and hopeful that his release was not to empty that cell so that place for another patriot intellectual be jailed. I demanded that the remaining prisoners be released.

I do stand with you anytime you bring the issue of human rights. Please see my post earlier today about domestic workers in lebeanon, and my insistance that this situation is not even likely to be better in Syria, and my anger at the fact that we always crticize your country for her mistreatment of palestinians, and shut up about our own misdeeds. I believe in Jesus words regarding ones own eye.

I am your ally on issues related to human rights, especially when your arguments are genuine. Treuly, AIG, I am. And I happen to believe that most on this site are as well. The only problem AIG, is that I do not have the strength of will required for me to be an activist. I am content with that and try to do my best to be honest. Granted I, like many, can not always be so.

August 27th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Racism is always wrong whoever is the guilty party. My per-capita example is simply to show that Israel treats its Arab citizens on average much better than Arab countries treat their Arab citizens. Is there room for improvement? Sure. But don’t Arab complaints sound very strange when the average Israeli Arab is 6-7 times richer than the average Syrian arab and much better educated, more healthy etc.? If Israel is truly a “racist” country, how come the Arabs in Israel have significantly more rights and opportunities than Arabs in Arab countries? If Israel is racist, what does this make the Arab countries then? How come Israel is able to treat much better potential enemies than Arab states treat their own people?

August 27th, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

Jad said:

Israel is not a racist country INDEED, even in school!!!!!
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/israel2/ISRAEL0901-01.htm
This is the brightest side of all the nice “un-racist” issue they have there….

August 27th, 2008, 5:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jad,
HRW, bless their soul, would have been perfectly happy if the education of Jews and Arabs in Israel would have been bad but equal. But of course, what HRW do not point out is how much better the Arab education is in Israel relative to Arab countries.

Of all the complaints against Israel, this is one of the most disingenious. Instead of Israel getting credit for giving Arabs in the middel east the best education, it is chastized for giving Jews a better one.

August 27th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Jad said:

Maybe a previous Israeli education minister is more biased than HRW toward “someone’s” “perfect” country, I couldn’t find what Ms. Shulamit Aloni said couple days ago about the un-existing ‘Racist” in Israel..
http://www.counterpunch.org/aloni01082007.html

August 27th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I’m truly shocked that you are honestly expecting OTW, Alex, Naji, or Norman to yell “Down with Assad”.

Shai,

In the same vein, AIG and I are not “shocked” that you yell “Down with Israel”.

I think Joshua knows a tiny bit more about Syria than, say, you or I do.

Knowing Syria is one thing, making excuses for Syria is another.

When Professor Josh states that,

Syria will undoubted encourage Hizbullah to turn up the heat on Israel if peace talks go no where. What else can it do?

I don’t consider that to be “knowledge”, I would categorize that as “intellectual dishonesty”. We all know Syria could do MANY things instead of arming a group of Islamic thugs. But then again, Assad doesn’t get scrutinized or criticized from the liberals, the media, the Arab street, or his own people. And you though Reagen was the “Teflon President”;)

If the shoe were on the other foot Shai, I know you’d be crying against the Israeli government if they were doing the same thing.

August 27th, 2008, 6:33 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

JAD –

Israel’s literacy rate among her Arab citizen’s is at least 90%:

http://www.factsandlogic.org/ad_08.html

For Syria it’s around 80% and lower among Syrian women:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html#People

Don’t believe every vocal liberal you hear. They’re noisy, but not very accurate.

August 27th, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

I told you already in the past when you can start referring to me as unpatriotic. You are not even close to gaining that right, so calm yourself.

As a general philosophy in life, I’ve always tried to take a good look at myself, before I go criticizing others. Before I begin telling Syrians how they should run their country, I think it should only be right that I first fix a “few” of the problems inside my country, don’t you think? And these might be minor issues like… Apartheid rule over the Palestinians, second-class treatment of Israeli-Arabs (and very often plain racism), etc.

Imagine when faced with accusations of racism, some governors in Alabama, or Mississippi, would point to the fact that the average African-American in their state is far better educated, and earns far more, than the average Nigerian, Ghanian, or Congolese. What an absurd argument. Yet you and AIG have no problems using it with Arab-Israelis. I’ll let you tell my good friend Mahmoud from Taibeh (inside Israel) how Israelis are not racist towards Arabs. As he’s said to me in the past: “When you treat someone like a dog for long enough, he begins to think he’s a dog.” I guess you’d remind him, that he’s still earning 6 times the average Syrian’s salary. I’m sure that would make him feel better…

There’s a reason we have mirrors in our house. We should use them sometimes…

August 27th, 2008, 8:54 pm

 

Shai said:

JAD,

We must keep working at it, we have no choice. But the “good” news is, that most Israelis are not stubborn arrogant creatures that can’t be changed. Most are suffering from numbness, apathy, and exhaustion. They need to be “rudely awakened”, and to be led in the right direction. Hopefully, this awakening will be a peaceful one, and not through regional war. Though it’s not easy, I remain optimistic….

Yesterday, at the age of 81, Israel’s #1 peace activist Abie Nathan passed away. May Israel’s ethos one day include him as a true national hero. Today, still, many view him as almost-a-traitor. Because he dared speak to our enemies. Because he dared to feel empathy towards others. Because he dared criticize so harshly. Because while feeling pride in being Israeli, he could also feel great sorrow for what had happened in ’48. This was too much for people to bear… So they labeled him, as they do others.

August 27th, 2008, 9:09 pm

 

Jad said:

That explain exactly what I was talking about, some people here don’t read what you write for them,
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=836#comment-212850
Did I mention education ratio? I was debating about Israel (not being racist) that’s absolutely false regardless of any angle you want to look at…even in the eyes of its own people.
I’m not getting into any endless argument like “someone’s” here; if they have a good rational debate and a good point I will be glad to discuss but if (as often) it’s just an argument for the sake of arguing, I don’t think anybody is interested…it’s been repeated to a boring level..

August 27th, 2008, 9:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
When an Arab complains that Israel mistreats Arab, he must be willing to explain why Arab governments treat Arabs less well than Israel. Why the double standards?

The difference in funds in education in Israel between Jews and Arabs is less than in the US or even France. In the US you can have two school districts right next to each other where one spends twice the amount of the other per child. There are funding differences and they should be closed. But using this to fault Israel and define it as racist is just low, and that is the tactics you seem to be supporting.

Let’s cut the crap and let me ask you directly:
Do you think Israel and Israelis are more racist than any other country or nationality?

This is basically what your friend Jad is saying and you are supporting him. The more I read what you write the more I do not understand why you stay in Israel. Why don’t you move to somewhere where the people are not racist?

Why are you trying to paint a false picture of what Israelis are? Israelis are by no means numb, exhausted and apathetic. They are in fact highly energized and exteremly engaged in politics and the peace process. Nobody needs to “rudely awaken” them. A country with the most start-ups per capita is not an exhausted country.

August 27th, 2008, 10:17 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I don’t know what part of the East coast you spend most of your year in, but it is quite clear to me that your visits to Israel are short and nostalgic. You are obviously disconnected from what goes on in this country. Not a single citizen, whether supporter of the extreme Left, or the extreme Right would, in reference to politics or the peace process, call us “highly energized and extremely engaged…” It is precisely the greatest complaint of most politicians, that Israelis are NOT participating in ANY process.

I have yet to meet an Israeli, who when I suggest that we are acting like a racist society towards our own Arab citizens, doesn’t drop his face (at the very least pretending to feel some shame). Don’t teach me about Israelis. Of the two of us, I’m the one living here, I’m the one serving my country, and I’m the one looking myself in the mirror each day. I’m here, because I want to contribute to changing my nation, in whatever way I can. I’m not running off to the calm shores and comfortable lifestyle of suburban America. I don’t allow myself the luxury of “getting away” for more than a week or two, a few times a year. The rest of the time, I’m living and breathing the stew my country has been cooking for 60 years. Don’t lecture me about patriotism.

August 27th, 2008, 10:37 pm

 

Jad said:

Shai, don’t waste your time, when someone calls your (he meant mine) tactics low, they should read their own comments to notice how low their tactics are for years now, then they will realize that yours (not mine) are way higher than any level they can reach.
Internal blindness needs a miracle to heal not a reading sessions.

August 27th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

“When you treat someone like a dog for long enough, he begins to think he’s a dog.” I guess you’d remind him, that he’s still earning 6 times the average Syrian’s salary. I’m sure that would make him feel better…

Shai,

If Arab-Israeli MKs weren’t so hung up on destroying Israel, I’d agree with you.

http://www.battalionofdeborah.org/blog/_archives/2008/4/29/3667359.html

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3378086,00.html

August 28th, 2008, 2:08 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Let’s cut the crap and let me ask you directly:
Do you think Israel and Israelis are more racist than any other country or nationality?

AIG Israel is among the world’s democracies (to which you claim to belong) the only one where a racist discrimination by peoples’ religion is build in the country’s legal system and the every day life. If that is not proof enough of racist behaviour what is? Would as a Jew living in USA or Finland claim these countries as civilized democracies if we would have for Christians equal rights in land ownership etc as you Jews have in Israel.

Are Jews in Israel more racist as other nations’ people? Well in tolerating and supporting the system of religious based division (= apartheid) it is fair to say as a nation among so called democracies you are.

AIG you are constantly referring to the differences in Israel’s and Arab countries education level, economy etc. Let us remember that your “nation” has got millions of its people already fully educated (in West Europe, Russia, Ukraine, USA etc). Also the enormous “donations” which Israel has got and gets from USA and Europe have made Israel economically rather rich. If Syria for example would have got an egual proportional amount of fully trained engineers, doctors etc and those hundreds of billions from USA and Europe you could better “compare” Israel and Syria.

August 28th, 2008, 5:04 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

If Arab-Israeli MKs weren’t so hung up on destroying Israel, I’d agree with you.

First, why do you guys keep using terminology like “destroy”? It reminds me of 19th and 20th century Europe, where Antisemitism found it very useful to describe Jews using threatening terms. Certainly no responsible Christian could ignore a description like “Jews are planning to destroy Europe!”, right?

Second, let’s even pretend like the Arab MK’s, who by the way are intended to enjoy freedom of speech like any other Israeli, really do talk of destroying Israel. Does that legitimize, in any fashion whatsoever, treating Arab-Israelis as second-class citizens? And I’m not referring to lower educational funding (AIG), I’m talking about treating them like dogs. My friend Mahmoud used to go into Israeli cities like Netanya, Hadera, Tel-Aviv, but can no longer do so. He tells me that he and his friends either immediately suffer verbal abuse or, worse, physical. What to do, Mahmoud’s skin happens to be a little darker than mine, and his complexion does give him away as an Arab. But in any ordinary nation on earth, that should not be a problem. In Europe, in Asia, heck, even in America, an Arab can walk up and down streets with his head raised, fearing nothing. Here, in Israel, reality is a little different.

Maybe you should find the time to have a 30-minute conversation with Arabs sometime, face-to-face. First, I promise they won’t explode on you. Second, you may be shocked at what you hear. If you’re truly “lucky”, and you find an Arab-Israeli to talk to, you may be really shocked!

August 28th, 2008, 7:26 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

My friend Mahmoud used to go into Israeli cities like Netanya, Hadera, Tel-Aviv, but can no longer do so.

Shai,

It is just my opinion, but I think a comprehensive peace agreement with all the remaining parties: the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon would do a lot make Israelis more “at ease”.

That Israeli Arabs and their representatives in the Knesset call for the destruction of Israel probably does not help the situation.

http://a-i-s-h.squarespace.com/journal/2006/1/12/in-lebanon-arab-mk-calls-for-destruction-of-jewish-state.html

BTW – The last time an Israeli strolled into Ramallah, they were tied up and hung from a window. Ask your friend Mahmoud what his opinion of that is and report back to us.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/969778.stm

Shai,

Just to summarize, in this thread and others, we have shown that it is not about education and it is not about economics, opportunity or per capita income. Israeli arabs have it better in Israel than most other places within the Middle East.

What it is REALLY about, is the existence of your “Jewish State”. Jordan and Eygpt have accepted that, but the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria, and their jihadist backers in Iran have yet to take this step.

I believe they will wait until Israel has 60 Arab knesset members, and the state changes its name to Palestine. If history teaches us anything, this will not happen peacefully.

August 28th, 2008, 10:44 am

 

Shai said:

On the final day of Sulha, message from the Syrian Mufti is delivered:

“If enough people want peace and make small steps, everything is possible.”

At the 7th annual Sulha, a three-day festival taking place in Latrun this week August 26-28, Professor and Rabbi Mark Gopin delivered a message from the Syrian Mufti. Gopin has met with the Mufti a number of times, and was asked on his last visit to Syria to pass on a message to Israel and Palestine.

Message from Syrian Mufti: “The dream is to establish peace in the region based on good neighborliness. I deliver to Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the Holy Land my blessings for cooperative action and believe that if enough people want peace and make small steps in its direction, everything is possible.”

In addition to the messages from Syria, a remarkable meeting will take place today between the fathers of the two children, Palestinian and Israeli, who remain interconnected. In 2005, Ahmed Ismail Khatib, a thirteen year old Palestinian boy, was killed by IDF fire outside of Jenin, after soldiers mistook his toy gun for a real one. His organs were donated by his family to six sick individuals. His heart was donated to a twelve year old Israeli girl from a Druze family, whose life was saved, and his liver was donated to a 66 year old Israeli woman. Today, at the 7th annual Sulha at Latrun, the fathers of both Ahmed and the heart recipient will meet and spend time together.

The Professor and Rabbi Mark Gopin: “I visited Syria a number of times and met with the Mufti and with additional spiritual and religious representatives. They respected me as a Jewish Rabbi and I had the rare opportunity to speak in front of large audiences… and in lectures in front of thousands of individuals… the statesmen understand today that the central way to open diplomatic channels is through spiritual and religious figures.”

For the first time, the Palestinian organization Al-Tariq has joined the Sulha and has brought with them more than 600 Palestinians who will participate in the gathering. Al-Tariq is a non-profit Palestinian organization made up primarily of Palestinian men and women who have served time in Israeli prison. Members of Al-Tariq meet with Palestinians who resort to violence and hate and bring them messages of non-violence and democracy. Their messages have proven successful even with militant leaders such as Zacharia Zubeidi, former head of the Al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin.

For three days, Sulha brings together people from all ages and all walks of life to learn and experience together each other’s stories, pains and hopes and to celebrate peace and reconciliation. Among them are members of bereaved families alongside former combatants who have put down their guns.

August 28th, 2008, 11:47 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

My friend Mahmoud deplored that horrific act. But these Israelis should have had no business in Ramallah. In case you forgot, Ramallah is NOT a part of Israel. The two Israelis that were lynched, by the way, were army reservists, who were dressed in uniform. Not the “smartest” way to enter a city full of people that hate you…

Netanyah, Hadera, Tel-Aviv, and any other Israeli city, belong to Mahmoud (as an Israeli citizen), just as much as they belong to me. He has every right to enter these places, to walk, to shop, to do business, to chill out. But, because he is an Arab, he cannot. And instead of deploring this, you’re giving excuses (Ramallah!) After all, how could we, the Jewish people, be racist? Right AP?

August 28th, 2008, 2:27 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

After all, how could we, the Jewish people, be racist? Right AP?

Shai,

Unlike you and perhaps a few 9-11 conspiracy theorists, I don’t claim “we, the Jewish people” are superhuman. We have racists just like the Arabs do. But I think we’ve done a fairly good job UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES. There is always room to do better, and my feeling is things have IMPROVED for Arabs over the years, not declined. All this despite the openly anti-Zionist attitudes of many in the Arab-Israeli community and their leadership.

With respect to the anti-semitic Arab press, I think we’ve done a MUCH BETTER JOB.

August 28th, 2008, 2:42 pm

 

Jad said:

“With respect to the anti-semitic Arab press, I think we’ve done a MUCH BETTER JOB.”
Someone is forgetting that Arabs are Semitic too!! In the future try to stay away from calling any Arab an ‘anit-semitic’ they will laugh…
YES, I am anti-Zionist, because it doesn’t spread equality, friendship, and freedom, it’s a religion based movement that encourage Jewish people to come from all over the world to occupy other people’s land which lead to what we are seeing now.
Don’t imagine that people you treat badly will like you by giving them unwanted nationality and some flashy education accessory, and fake rights while your Zionist brothers and sister kill there brothers and sisters on the other side of the cage you squeezed them in….it doesn’t work this way, they need to be treated with dignity, you can’t bribe the Pride of people, they born with it before you take it away.

August 28th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

norman said:

Jad,

With Arabs like these , we should not blame Israel alone,

الخميس 8/28/2008
آخر تحديث : 4:33 PM توقيت الدوحة

سفير مصر بالأردن يرفض استقبال وفد يطالب بفتح معبر رفح

محمد النجار-عمان

قال ناشطون سياسيون وحقوقيون إن السفير المصري في الأردن رفض استقبال وفد شعبي أردني كان ينوي تسليمه رسالة موجهة للرئيس حسني مبارك تطالبه بفتح معبر رفح، وهو الوحيد الذي لا يخضع لسيطرة إسرائيلية ضمن معابر قطاع غزة.

وأبلغ رئيس الوفد ورئيس لجنة الحريات في حزب جبهة العمل الإسلامي علي أبو السكر الجزيرة نت أن السفير المصري رفض استقبال الوفد المكون من نحو ثلاثين شخصية تمثل الأحزاب السياسية والنقابات المهنية ومنظمات حقوق الإنسان الأردنية.

ولفت أبو السكر إلى أن السفارة أوفدت أحد موظفيها الذي طلب تسلم الرسالة، مشيرا إلى أن الوفد رفض هذا الأسلوب بالتعامل مع وفد يمثل أحزابا سياسية ومؤسسات مجتمع مدني، وبالتالي عاد بدون أن يسلم الرسالة.

وأضاف أن الرسالة الموجهة للرئيس مبارك طالبت باتخاذ قرار فوري بفتح معبر رفح أمام حصار يقتل مليونا ونصف المليون فلسطيني في قطاع غزة “يعانون من الاحتلال الصهيوني والحصار الصهيوني والعربي”.

وأعرب الوفد في رسالته -التي حصلت الجزيرة نت على نسخة منها- عن أمله في قيام مصر بمبادرة “تاريخية تليق بتاريخها المجيد وشهامة أهلها، وإصدار قرار مباشر وواضح بفتح معبر رفح ورفع القيود عن حركة الأهل في غزة وتسهيل حركة مرورهم عبر الحدود بكل سهولة ويسر”.

ويعتبر هذا التحرك الشعبي بالأردن هو الأول من نوعه تجاه السفارة المصرية، حيث كانت الاعتصامات السابقة تتم في مجمع النقابات المهنية وأمام مقر الأمم المتحدة في العاصمة عمان.

واعتبرت الرسالة أنه لم يعد هناك “مبرر سياسي أو أخلاقي لاستمرار الحصار الظالم والمرفوض الذي يتناقض مع أبسط حقوق الإنسان التي كفلتها الشرائع السماوية والمواثيق الدولية، ومع أبسط الالتزامات الأخلاقية”.

واعتبرت الرسالة أن استهداف نحو مليون ونصف المليون إنسان من خلال “إطباق الحصار ومنع وصول الغذاء والدواء، ومنع المرضى من الخروج للعلاج، ومنع الطلاب من الالتحاق بالدراسة في الجامعات حرك الحس الإنساني في قلوب وضمائر ناشطي حقوق الإنسان في أوروبا، ليقوموا بمبادرة حقيقية لكسر طوق الحصار”، واعتبرت أنه كان من الأولى أن يتم كسر الحصار بأيدٍ عربية من خلال فتح معبر رفح.

وجاء التحرك الشعبي الأردني بعد أيام على وصول سفينتين تحملان ناشطين غربيين لقطاع غزة، وهي الخطوة التي رأت فيها هيئات شعبية وحزبية ونقابية وحقوقية إحراجا للموقف الرسمي العربي.

جميع حقوق النشر محفوظة، الجزيرة 2008

August 28th, 2008, 3:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jad,
Yes, we understand your position and therefore AP and I are dismayed that Shai supports what you are saying. Shai has every right to say what he wants and I would defend his right to my last drop of blood, but that will not stop AP and myself from pointing out that Shai’s view is a suicidal one. Something is very wrong with him.

Let’s compare Shai to Alex. Shai constantly degenrates anything Israel does, its politicians, its society etc. even though Israel with all its flaws is by far the most successful country in the middle east by any standard. Alex is not willing to crticize Asad even though he is a brutal dictator under which Syria languishes.

I will be the first to admit that Israel has many flaws and needs to improve in many areas. But taken in prespective, what Israel has achieved in 60 years given its security situation is nothing short of astounding. And if you compare it to what the Arab countries have achieved, it is nothing short of a miracle.

Eventually, Shai’s nitpicking and self flagellation becomes boring and looks like he is losing touch with reality however much he claims to be the only person to understand Israeli society.

August 28th, 2008, 4:09 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
You should not blame Israel for ANY problem in the Arab world. You should solve it yourself instead of using Israel as an excuse. The 20% illiteracy rate in Syria is not Israel’s fault. It is the fault of the Asads. But why is Aarb “pride” hurt so much more with issues related to Israel than with the illiteracy issue? How can you even compare the two?

August 28th, 2008, 4:18 pm

 

Jad said:

Dear Norman
We are Syrian, and you know very well that every Arab in Syria is treated the same way we as Syrian are treated, the bad and the good ways.
Our schools are open to everybody to go to (they are not Harvard, but good enough that lots of those school’s student went and continue their education in Harvard without any problem), we don’t have any segregation in our school regarding our nationality backgrounds we just split when the Religion classes are in and even in those classes we mix, I even remember that I did attend couple Islamic classes and I did answer right couple question the teacher asks not knowing that I’m Christian, the same happen with other Muslim student came to the Christianity classes..
Arabs in Syria can choose wherever they want to live, they choose their neighbourhoods, they are free to go anywhere in Syria, I’m not Jordanian or Egyptian to defend their governments decisions or there people way of thinking or the way they look at other Arabs
As a Syrian I have to show the real us, we have bad and goods and above all we do respect others, we have racism towards a lot of nationality but not to the point of killing them or take what’s belongs to them, we still have morals.
I believe that we Syrian have lots of things that we should be proud of and that the whole world should know about them.
So when someone will brag about his democracy and denied having racism you need to show them that they are WRONG.
They generalise every one of us as terrorist and call us “anti-Semitic” while we are Semitic, You can’t stop yourself from wondering how those people think and how we can reach a common base.
Israelis like Mr. Shai are very few, the majority have the same attitude and idea like some are here and they don’t want to even listen and accept that what the hate reaction are getting are a RE-action of their Action, not because we simply “wanted to” and because of our ‘Terrorist’ gene we have…

August 28th, 2008, 4:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jad,
Right, every Syrian is treated the same way in Syria. How much farther from the truth can that be when it is plain to see that there is a small privileged clique that by force and intimidation controls most of Syria’s economy and power positions and is not accountable to anyone? The Alawites control Syria even though they are only 15% of the population.

When did I ever generalize? It is you that have generalized by calling Israel a racist country. You are most probably not a terrorist, just some frustrated soul that has decided that it is easier to hate and complain about Israel than build a truly successful country in Syria. I am glad that Israel is of some use to you. But ultimately, ranting about us is not going to solve any of Syria’s real problems, like getting the illiteracy rate down or creating jobs and opportunities for young people.

August 28th, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Most Arabs you know are “confused”. JAD is a “frustrated soul”. Most commentators on SC are “regime supporters”. And I now have “suicidal views” and suffer from “self flagellation”.

What about you, AIG? How would you describe yourself?

August 28th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Thank you very much for your interest in me.
Since you are an expert at ad-hominem attacks and about jumping to conclusions about what others are, I am sure we will very soon hear what you think of me. I just can’t wait.

August 28th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

Jad said:

Every ARAB is treated the same way in Syria.
Alawites are still SYRIANS not from Hungary or Russia.
Be aware of what you wish for.
I’m happy with my SOUL, leave it alone….(you might steal it like you steal my land)
Having 15-20% illiterate population yet they have MORALS much better than having highly educated population without any…
Finally, I’m not interested in arguing with you.

August 28th, 2008, 5:17 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

What do you make of this? Abbas made an opposite statement to Olmert (and the media) just a few months ago… http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1016182.html

Btw, where is Honest Patriot? I miss the guy… and there’s a fair bit of discussion going on about Lebanon. I’d very much like to hear his thoughts.

August 28th, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

For those who may be interested:

Cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists arrested

Joint IDF, Shin Bet, police operation exposes Islamic Jihad cell comprised of three Palestinians, two Israeli Arabs, who planned to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists

The cell was comprised of three Palestinians and two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3589193,00.html

August 28th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

“ad-hominem attacks”, “jumping to conclusions about what others are”?

Are you sure this isn’t some self-projection on your part? 🙂

JAD,

You cannot argue with someone that isn’t listening. These are merely exchanges, they are not arguments.

August 28th, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Please, we are waiting tell us more how bad Israel and its society are.

I am sure you agree with Jad that Israel is an immoral society. Why don’t you elaborate on the issue?

August 28th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

Jad said:

Shai,
This is an endless argument with some deaf ignorant…

I didn’t say that Israel is an immoral society…I was answering someone’s BORING REPEATED MEANINGLESS COMENTS HE ALWAY POST..DOESN’T HE HAVE ANY NEW IDEA TO TALK ABOUT????????
(Having 15-20% illiterate population yet they have MORALS much better than having highly educated population without any…)
Did I write the whole Israel society?????????? I’m sure that you have some immoral people there and since you all highly educated the immortals’ are also highly educated, we have them in Syrian society too, and so it doesn’t mean the whole society, DOES IT????????????????????? it seems that his great education is preventing him from properly understand what he reads…

August 28th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

Nour said:

Jad,

The 15%-20% illiteracy rate in Syria is misleading. It is true when taking the entire population. But if you take those aged 14-25, then the literacy rate is 95%, meaning that tremendous improvement has been made in this regard, and we are continuing to produce a more educated society.

As for AIG’s comments, everyone who knows anything about Syria can tell you that they are full of nonsense. For example, when he states that the 15% Alawite community controls Syria, he exposes his utter ignorance of Syrian society and the situation in Syria today. One only needs to visit Alawite areas in Syria to see that they suffer from the very same problems all Syrians suffer from. In fact, some Alawites live in greater poverty than other groups of Syrians. Syria is not a racist country; but it is not a perfect country either. It is a country in transition that is facing a plethora of problems which all need to be addressed. Of course Zionists and neo-Cons will always make the argument for instant violent change because they’re interested in creating chaos in our nation. However, I believe that Syria, even with all the obstacles it is facing, especially those coming from the US who is doing the bidding of “Israel”, can overcome all odds and make great progress in advancing and developing its society.

August 28th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai

Not sure what to make of the statement by Abbas.

As for HP, he’s around. I saw him on Gmail chat this morning. I think he’s avoiding the SC comment section, to preserve his productivity.

Wise man.

August 28th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

norman said:

Jad,

I have the same experience that you do about Syria, I was talking about Egypt which is starving the Palestinians and acting as a jailer for the prison of Gaza ,

Nour ,

I agree with you , 28 years ago when i was in Syria , illiteracy was about 40% , so since then Syria came a long way in spite of the forign attacks and interferences .

August 29th, 2008, 12:56 am

 

Shai said:

QN,

You mean my endless exchanges with AIG weren’t “productive”? 🙂

August 29th, 2008, 7:38 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

You mean my endless exchanges with AIG weren’t “productive”?

Shai,

No they weren’t. Your endless exchanges didn’t convince the opposing point-of-view.

However, my observation suggests that you’re most “productive” at making our Arab interlocutors feel good by attacking Israel.

Keep up the good work, you have an important role here.;)

August 29th, 2008, 11:31 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

I don’t think our “Arab interlocutors” need me to feel good about attacking Israel. And my guess is (though I’m not a psychologist), that they do NOT feel good about having to attack Israel. My goal in sharing my criticism of Israel, and the many things I believe we’re doing wrong, is to demonstrate to “our enemy” that there really are people on “my side” who have the ability to self-criticize and, therefore, hopefully change. If I wouldn’t share that with our fellow Arab commentators on SC, they wouldn’t know it. Does it matter to them? I think so. It might give them the optimism required to keep seeking a peaceful end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Do I need them to do that? Absolutely, as they need me to do the same.

Why am I being completely unbalanced with my criticism (doing very little criticism of the Arabs)? Because first I believe it is not my place to criticize the Arabs (they know what they need to do, far better than I do). And second, because in this forum, my goals are to learn about them, to understand their concerns, and to show them that some of us in Israel do know what our part is. That we recognize our crimes towards the Palestinians (past and ongoing), that we recognize that Israel’s permanent borders cannot extend beyond the 1967 lines (with the exception of land swaps, if they should take place), and that we are ready to make peace immediately (not after they become “democracies”). When I speak, I do so targeting the moderate Arabs, not the extremists. I don’t need to tell Alex about the need to stop suicide bombers, or even lobbing Qassam rockets at Sderot. He doesn’t condone these acts, and wants them to end as much as I do. Not only in Israel, by the way, also in Iraq (where it is REALLY taking a toll – what’s been happening in Israel is “kids play” compared to Iraq).

The only thing you can argue (as I see it), is that while I’m seeking to show the Arabs how I’m willing to change, I’m not demanding to see the same from them. And here, you could have a case. Indeed on this blog, I am not demanding to hear the words “We know what we need to do…, and here it is…” Why am I not doing it? Because first I tend to trust that Alex, and QN, and Norman, and OTW, and most others, know what needs to be done. And second, because it will again shift the discussion (from my end) to the other side.

Personally, I believe the problem lies first and foremost in Israel. It is us that need to withdraw from territory not ours. It is us that need to end a 40-year Apartheid rule. It is us that need to compensate millions of Palestinian refugees and find a just solution to their situation. It is us that need to prove we are not a colonialist state, opting to conquer more land, and subjugate other peoples under our rule. The burden is on us to show how we are not acting in a racist way towards 20% of our population. Most of the work is on our side, not the Arabs’. Of course there are things they need to do as well. And they will have to do them, before we can have peace. But if public opinion in Israel won’t change, enough to do the minimal things that we have to do, then we will not have peace. The Arabs (in fact, the ENTIRE Arab world) have been ready to make peace, and end the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all, for a few years now (since the Beirut conference). It is Israel that keeps delaying things, while the “3 Yes’s” have already been offered, at least three times in Beirut, Riyadh, and Damascus. It is Israel that is refusing to withdraw to the 1967 lines.

If I had the time, I would start an “Israel Comment” blog, and invite all our friends from SC to participate in that forum, and speak out to Israelis. What do you think, is that a good idea? Could Israelis benefit from that?

August 29th, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

For those interested, more details on the plot to kill Israeli pilots and scientists by 2 Israeli-Arabs. Notice the comments by the father of one of these suspects. Freedom of speech is alive and well in Israel…

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3589464,00.html

(BTW – don’t try to find this on the BBC website, it’s not there)

Personally, I believe the problem lies first and foremost in Israel.

Ya think!!??

Well, I humbly disagree.

August 29th, 2008, 12:10 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

You’re right. With cases like that, I’m becoming more and more convinced that my friend Mahmoud indeed deserves the abuse he would get in Netanya, if he dared walk in this evening. It’s becoming clear to me, that most if not all Arab-Israelis are terrorists. And certainly one can’t be accused of being racist towards a terrorist, right? Or can he? Ah, what’s the difference, they’re all alike these Arabs. If only they could see that… silly Arabs and, of course, silly Israeli Liberals.

August 29th, 2008, 12:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Yes, the second intifada was all Israel’s fault. Arabs were blowing themselves up in restaurants, pubs, sidewalks, discos, hotels killing about 1000 Israeli civillians. But really we should blame the racist Israelis.

In most countries there would have been pogroms against Arabs. Heck, the Arabs burn embassies because of cartoons. Nothing like that happened in Israel, because Israel is not a racist country and people understand not to generalize. But, the lack of empathy from the Arabs in Israel during the second intifada and the actual mirth at seeing Jews suffer, did not help the standing of the Arab community. These scars will take long to heal.

And yes, you are quite silly trying to make AP a racist when all he is doing is pasting articles from ynet. Where did he make a generalization?

August 29th, 2008, 1:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Assad slapped in the face

Syrian leader thought Cold War is back, but Russia made it clear Assad was wrong

Guy Bechor Published: 08.28.08, 17:10 / Israel Opinion

The Syrian army’s aging generals couldn’t believe their eyes: The Soviet Union is back. After seeing Russian tanks entering Georgia, they thought that time can be turned back two decades, to the era where the Soviet superpower backed President Hafez al-Assad; an era where Soviet advisors stayed in Syria, Soviet warships docked at the Tartus port, and Moscow transferred missiles and tanks to Damascus for free. Most importantly, it was an era where the Soviet Union provided Syria with protection against Israel.

Bashar Assad’s advisors therefore gave him the worst possible advice. The time has come to make Russia an offer it cannot refuse, they told him. And Assad, the perpetual rookie, of course took the advice. And so, the Syrian president headed to Moscow with a series of proposals, which the generals thought both sides will benefit from.

1. Syria agrees to Russian deployment of advanced ground-to-ground missiles in its territory as a counterweight to the American missile deployment in Poland.

2. Syria agrees that Russian Air Force jets will use Syrian territory and airspace.

3. The seaport at Tartus will be reopened.

4. Russia will be granted a friendly military outpost in the Middle East, at the gate to Europe, and go back to being a regional power.

In exchange, Assad intended to request advanced ground-to-ground missiles, as well as other weapons. His gut-feeling was excellent, and he mentioned his proposal in a briefing with Russian reporters ahead of his trip to Moscow.

The Syrian leader was stunned when the Russians slapped him in the face. Putin and Medvedev’s answer to his request was “not interested.” They have no interest in embarking on a new cold war. The slap was even worse because the Russians refused to sell advanced missiles to the Syrians, and added a few conditions: Firstly, they will be selling Syria defensive weapons only, rather than offensive ones. Secondly, they will not be selling Syria arms that would change the status quo of full Israeli supremacy over Syria. Thirdly, everything they sell will be paid for in cash, in advance.

The Russians know very well that Syria’s economy is unstable. They know that the Iranians help the Syrians with payments, but they also know that Iran itself is facing great difficulties. Assad swallowed the insult and returned to Damascus.

Why was there no chance for Assad’s “golden package” to begin with? Because Russia is not the Soviet Union. What Assad’s generals failed to grasp is that by invading Georgia Russia caused itself economic and political damage that would take years to repair. Russia is a capitalistic country that relies on its economy, and the economy responded with immense anxiety to the Georgia events.

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The investors who lifted the Russian economy are simply running away now: $12 billion were taken out of Russia in the past two weeks. The Russian stock exchange’s RTS index declined by 32%, and the Russian Ruble was depreciated. Russia had no ability to continue this conflict.

Moreover, at this time Russia is closely associated with Israel no less so and possibly more so than with Syria. A million and a half former Russians reside in Israel, and Israel’s high-tech industry is highly important for the Russian economy. The world in the era of globalization (a word that Syria is still unfamiliar with) will not go back to being black and white, and no Russia babushka will be waiting for Assad with a magic solution.

August 29th, 2008, 1:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Oh my God, AIG has posted an article on Syria Comment. It’s a whole new era.

August 29th, 2008, 2:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I was waiting patiently for Norman to post it but it just didn’t happen.

August 29th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

lol 🙂

August 29th, 2008, 6:19 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I suggest you publish your collection. Call it “AIG’s Greatest Excuses for Everything”. You haven’t got a gram of shame in you, have you?

To you (and AP), Israeli-Arabs deserve the treatment they get. First, because “These scars will take long to heal…” (whatever that means), and second, because “Arab complaints sound very strange when the average Israeli Arab is 6-7 times richer than the average Syrian arab and much better educated, more healthy etc.”

You still refuse to look yourself in the mirror. Have you got no mirror at home AIG? Shall I get you one via ebay?

August 29th, 2008, 6:33 pm

 

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