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?;)



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)


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.
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)

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51. 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…

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August 28th, 2008, 4:25 pm


52. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

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.

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August 28th, 2008, 4:42 pm


53. Shai said:


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?

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August 28th, 2008, 5:08 pm


54. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

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.

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August 28th, 2008, 5:15 pm


55. 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.

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August 28th, 2008, 5:17 pm


56. Shai said:


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.

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August 28th, 2008, 5:22 pm


57. 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.


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August 28th, 2008, 5:29 pm


58. Shai said:


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

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


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

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August 28th, 2008, 5:36 pm


59. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

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?

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August 28th, 2008, 6:08 pm


60. Jad said:

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…

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August 28th, 2008, 6:22 pm


61. Nour said:


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.

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August 28th, 2008, 7:32 pm


62. Qifa Nabki said:


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.

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August 28th, 2008, 8:52 pm


63. norman said:


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 .

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August 29th, 2008, 12:56 am


64. Shai said:


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

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August 29th, 2008, 7:38 am


65. Akbar Palace said:

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


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.;)

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August 29th, 2008, 11:31 am


66. 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?

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August 29th, 2008, 12:02 pm


67. 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…


(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.

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August 29th, 2008, 12:10 pm


68. Shai said:


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.

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August 29th, 2008, 12:40 pm


69. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

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?

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August 29th, 2008, 1:08 pm


70. 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.


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.

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August 29th, 2008, 1:17 pm


71. Qifa Nabki said:

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

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August 29th, 2008, 2:25 pm


72. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

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

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August 29th, 2008, 4:58 pm


73. Qifa Nabki said:

lol 🙂

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August 29th, 2008, 6:19 pm


74. Shai said:


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?

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August 29th, 2008, 6:33 pm


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