“Listening to Syria” by David Lesch

David Lesch with President Bashar al-Asad

David Lesch with President Bashar al-Asad

Listening to Syria”
by David W. Lesch
Written for Forward
Published by Syria Commentwith the permission of Sami Moubayed

Having met with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on a regular basis over the last five years, most recently on October 19, I have personally seen how he has grown into the position, and he is now brimming with a confidence bred by weathering a number of storms and experiencing some success. Yet only in the last month has the Bush administration begun to explore high-level diplomatic contacts with Syria after years of trying to isolate Damascus. Even this seems to have come to an abrupt end with the US raid against purported militants across the Iraqi border in Syria.on October 26, perhaps, as some have suggested, a parting shot by the Bush administration (or elements within seeking to derail the tentative US-Syrian dialogue established by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, those “elements” usually meaning Vice President Cheney’s office).

For a lengthy period I seemed to be the only American talking to President Asad; as such, Washington often called on me to share my impression and analysis of him and Syrian policies.  To an array of officials from the State Department, Pentagon, intelligence community, and the Bush administration, I essentially repeated three main themes, all of which were summarily ignored when communicated upward:

 Do not underestimate Asad.  He is genuinely popular in his country and in the region, and one does not survive in Syrian politics as he has without being clever and capable. Like it or not, he will be around for a long time.  Unfortunately, from the beginning, Washington viewed Asad with a disdainful attitude bordering on mockery.  The views expressed by members of Congress surrounding the passage of sanctions on Syria in 2003-2004 were needlessly condescending.  They emerged not only from ignorance, but also a collective group-think in the post 9/11 and Iraqi invasion environment that made Syria an easy target for Washington officialdom eager to bolster its tough, anti-terrorist credentials.  As a result, Asad was virtually dismissed.  His regime was deemed unacceptable, even irrelevant.  Despite Asad’s clear calls for a better relationship with the US and a resumption of peace talks with Israel, isolation and pressure on Damascus followed.

Do not take on Syria in Lebanon because you will lose.  To me this was a no-brainer.  Syria views Lebanon within its sphere of influence.  It cannot lose it to potential hostile forces, much as the US would not allow Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.  Simply put, Syria has the knowledge, assets, and willingness to do what it takes to win in Lebanon.  The US does not, and history-as in the 1980s-has shown this to be the case.  Feeling under siege through Lebanon, Syria fought back, and it has such an overwhelming advantage there that it won despite some policy errors of its own.

Do not ignore Syria diplomatically; they are too central to too many problems in the region-and if they are not, they will make themselves central to the solution.  The Bush administration altered the equation on Syria, i.e. traditionally such issues as Syria’s support for Hamas and Hizbullah as well as its relationship with Iran would be dealt with as a result of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.  Under Bush, negotiations would not even begin until Syria relented on these and other issues.  Syria was not going to give up what little leverage it had before talks even began-no one in their right mind would willingly do this; on the contrary, it now had every incentive to hold fast and, if possible, build up some leverage to earn a seat at the diplomatic table, in other words, to be taken seriously.  The French, Turks, and even the Israelis have already recognized Syria’s centrality to a multitude of issues in the region.  The US is still hedging.

Bush’s first presidential campaign advocated a humble foreign policy, which means in part having the willingness to listen.  Much of Bush’s foreign policy problems were due to arrogance at the top, that only they, guided by a flawed neo-conservative policy paradigm, had the esoteric insight to frame decision-making.  And access to the top seemed to be predicated on intellectual support for an already existing agenda.  The misguided policy toward Syria-and subsequent missed opportunities-is a prominent case in point.

If “the top” had listened to cogent information percolating upward and from abroad, a lot of mayhem could have been avoided. Despite the US raid in Syria, Damascus will be cautiously assessing the potential new direction emanating from Washington and communicating its position.  Hopefully the new administration has the strength to listen.

David W. Lesch is Professor of Middle East History at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.  His latest books include The New Lion of Damascus: Bashar al-Asad and Modern Syria (Yale University Press, 2005) and The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History (Oxford University Press, 2007). 

OIL: Comment sent by Mark on the possible oil find in Latakia:(Thanks for this enlightening summation. A little expertise goes a long way. JL )

A few comments on the post by Joshua “Major Oil Strike in Latakia” and the above quoted SANA article. N.B. I’m an Engineer who has worked for a Major International Oil Company for some 27 years.

“…produced almost one thousand barrel of good oil brand which had surfaced to the as drillings were being made for building pillars in the site.” “Oil started shooting into the air.” Most oil reservoirs buried shallow enough to be reached by foundation piling would be severely biodegraded and contain only immobile heavy oil (a quick Google search reveals http://www.oiltracers.com/oilbiodegradation.html if you want more information about biodegraded oil). Also there would be no reservoir pressure above hydrostatic pressure at such a shallow depth. Thus these reports should be viewed with skepticism. Crude oil would not flow much less shoot into the air. A possible scenario is the piling could have hit a pipeline or underground storage tank. An alternative scenario is the piling could have penetrated an accumulation of leakage/seepage oil (from a pipeline or storage tank).

“Oil … drillingsstarted … on Saturday … Minister … said in a statements … had already finished oil studies of the oil well and the black material discovered in it.” This statement needs to be discounted. Wells actually don’t get drilled that fast and studies actually don’t get done that quick. However the need for a quick political win may be sufficient for a preemptive statement by a Minister.

“Russians are in the process of signing a deal for lots 4 & 5 in the north of Syria, about which expectations are also high” One must calibrate what “high expectations” are. Oilmen are natural optimists, and will say most anything while in the process of striking a deal. The chances of finding an economic sized discovery in an area without an offset oil discovery are not that high. As far as I know the East end of the Mediterranean is not one of the more prospective areas of oil exploration. The simple reason that us oilmen are exploring that area is that most of the prospective basins of the world have already been explored and exploited. This is simply an outcome of the “Hubbert Peak Theory” first presented in 1956.

News Round Up Follows:

David Miliband to visit Syria
By Ian Black
The Guardian, 12 November 2008

Miliband is due in Damascus next week as part of a wider Middle East tour at a time that western diplomatic efforts are focused on how to keep the faltering regional peace process alive…

But Barack Obama has made clear that he will change tack and seek to talk to the Syrians, who are delighted at the prospect. Miliband, in the role of transatlantic bridge-builder, will be encouraging him to do so…

Iraq, Syria to increase security cooperation
The Associated Press, 12 November 2008

Iraq says it will increase border security cooperation with Syria as the two countries seek to overcome tension caused by a recent U.S. commando raid inside Syrian territory launched from Iraq.

Visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad that the two sides have tried to “overcome” the crisis that followed last month’s attack….

Syria’s official news agency says Assad reiterated his wish to strengthen ties with Iraq on all fronts.

Syria to host Iraq security meeting despite U.S. raid
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
International Herald Tribune, 12 November 2008

The Syrian government will host a U.S.- backed security conference on Iraq as planned later this month, despite a threat to cancel it because of a U.S. raid on Syria in October, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Invitations were issued to countries including the United States, France, Iran, Iraq and its other neighbours shortly before the October 26 U.S. strike, they told Reuters.

“There had been a lot of doubt whether the conference would take place. The United States, Britain and other governments have not yet replied, mainly due to the uncertainty,” one of the diplomats said.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem confirmed after meeting his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebariin the Syrian capital on Wednesday that the conference would convene in Damascus on November 22…

The United States pushed for the meeting in 2006 as part of its drive to get Arab countries to engage on Iraq. Syria agreed to host it every year as part of a new policy to defuse tension with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad….

Iran test-fires new missile, Israel within reach
By Zahra Hosseinian
Reuters, 12 November 2008

Iran said it test-fired a new generation of surface-to-surface missile on Wednesday and that the Islamic Republic was ready to defend itself against any attacker.

Iran’s latest missile test followed persistent speculation in recent months of possible U.S. or Israeli strikes against its nuclear facilities, which the West suspects form part of a covert atomic weapons program, a charge Tehran denies.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, like outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, has not ruled out military action although he has criticized the Bush administration for not pursuing more diplomacy and engagement with Tehran…

Baroud backtracks on cooperation with Syria after March 14 balks
The Daily Star, 13 November 2008

Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud’srecent visit to Syria have raised controversies over the revival of Syria’s security role in Lebanon, which forced the minister to reformulate the outcomes of his visit. Baroud said he did not “call for coordination with Syria that would be similar to what had been experienced.”

“What I meant is that there is a chance to present our demands to Syria … and listen to their views,” Baroud said in an interview on Wednesday.

He stressed the fact that the joint statement issued after his talks in Damascus “referred to a follow-up committee that would not proceed with its assignment unless approved by Cabinet.” The March 14 Forces voiced “strong reservations” on Wednesday over the formation of security cooperation committees between Lebanon and Syria…

Analysts says Fatah al-Islam ‘confessions’ aimed to bully Syria’s foes in Lebanon
By Michael Bluhm
The Daily Star, 13 November 2008

Syria was trying to bully its antagonists in the March 14 coalition by airing on state television “confessions” of alleged Fatah al-Islam members last week linking the group to March 14’s Future Movement, a number of analysts told The Daily Star on Wednesday.

The suspects said in the broadcast that they had carried out a deadly car bombing in Damascus on September 27 and had received money from the Future Movement of parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri. Hariri, who has denied the allegations, asked Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Tuesday to form a fact-finding commission to look into the charges. Fatah al-Islam militants fought the Lebanese Armed Forces for more than three months last summer at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli…

Syria and Lebanon have recently established formal diplomatic relations, and Damascus might also be wielding the confessions as a tool to force Lebanese officials to give ground on the agendas put forthby their Syrian counterparts, said retired General Elias Hanna, who teaches political science at Notre Dame University.

In particular, Syria might be trying to push the Lebanese to sign off on the resurrection of joint security committees, a fixture during the Syrian military’s presence in Lebanon from 1976 until 2005, said Shafik Masri, professor of constitutional law. Lebanese Interior Minister Ziyad Baroudvisited Damascus on Monday and agreed there only that Syrian proposals for security cooperation would require Cabinet approval. In any case, airing the confessions represented a clear breach of security and judicial protocol, Masri added…

Strike anywhere at al-Qaida
By Paul Cruickshank
The Guardian, 12 November 2008

On Monday, the New York Times revealed that in the spring of 2004, Donald Rumsfeld, then the US secretary of defence, signed a secret order providing the US military with a mandate and fast-track approvals mechanism to launch raids against al-Qaida terrorists in countries outside the “conflict zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan. The order, it was reported, identified more than a dozen countries where al-Qaida operatives were present, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia and two close allies in the “war on terrorism”, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The disclosures by senior American officials came in the wake of two controversialraids by US special forces in South Waziristan in Pakistan in September and in Syria in October, which reportedly targeted al-Qaida-linked militants orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. Both the Pakistani and Syrian governments condemned the raids, stated that innocents had been killed, and accused the US of violating the UN charter.

What should be made of the revelations? Some Bush critics will no doubt argue that the administration that brought you extraordinary rendition, secret CIA detention and enhanced interrogation techniques has once again, in its finaldays, been unmasked as pursuing a clandestine programme that not only flouts international treaties but is also deeply counterproductive to winning the war for hearts and minds in the Muslim world. The more sardonic critics may ask why Britain was not also included on the “hit list”. According to MI5, 2,000 British residents actively support al-Qaida, and 30 major plots are being hatched at any one time…

Official: 8th century church discovered in Syria
By ALBERT AJI – 1 hour ago

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Archaeologists in central Syria have unearthed the remnants of an 8th century church, an antiquities official said Thursday.

A Syrian-Polish archaeological team recently discovered the church in the ancient city of Palmyra, said Walid al-Assaad, the head of the Palmyra Antiquities and Museums Department. He did not say specifically when the church was discovered or the exact date the church was built.

He said the church is the fourth and largest discovered so far in Palmyra — an ancient trade center that is now an archaeological treasure trove.

Comments (62)

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51. offended said:

AIG, your position is still ambiguous (to me).

Do you:

1- Not support giving Golan back to Syria, AT ALL. Not now and not when Syria become a Swiss style democracy. And your only choice is peace for peace.

2- Support giving Golan back only after Syria has become a democracy (according to your standards whatever they are)?

Can you please give an answer as simple as 1 or 2 without writing novels? and btw I asked you this question before but you failed to answer.

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November 14th, 2008, 9:37 pm


52. AIG said:

Here goes. Here are translations of part of the full entry below.

“Syria is part of the axis of evil. It has already said it will not disengage from Iran (flip).”

“The public that is against withdrawing from the Golan (and here NEtanyahu means himslef and the Likud) and even those that for it are all against the political norms of the olmert government.”

Have fun. I will find more.

התהליך המדיני אינו יכול לשמש עיר מקלט לפוליטיקאים במצוקה
יום חמישי, 22 במאי, 2008

היום ישנה הסכמה רחבה, מימין ומשמאל, שהתהליך המדיני אינו יכול לשמש עיר מקלט לפוליטיקאים במצוקה.
רוב הציבור מבין שראש הממשלה האיץ את השיחות עם סוריה ובחר את העיתוי המדוייק לפרסומן, כדי להסיח את דעת הציבור מחקירותיו.

למר אולמרט, השקוע עד צוואר בחקירות אלה, אין מנדט מוסרי וציבורי לנהל משא ומתן גורלי על עתידה של מדינת ישראל, משום שקיים חשש אמיתי שיעדיף את הישרדותו האישית על פני האינטרס הלאומי.

רק לפני שבועות אחדים סוריה, איראן והחיזבאללה רמסו את הדמוקרטיה השברירית של לבנון. ארצות הברית וכל העולם החופשי גינו את סוריה וביקשו לבודדה.

סוריה היא חלק בלתי נפרד מציר הרשע. היא כבר הודיעה שהיא לא תתנתק מאיראן.

ויתור על רמת הגולן יהפוך את הגולן למוצב איראני קדמי שיאיים על כל מדינת ישראל.

אם נכונים דבריו של שר החוץ הסורי, ואליד מועלם, שמר אולמרט התחייב לרדת מרמת הגולן לשפת הכנרת עוד לפני תחילת המשא ומתן, הרי מדובר בהפקרות מדינית ובטחונית חסרת תקדים.

חוסר אחריות זה מצטרף לכשלון של ניהול מלחמת לבנון השנייה, הכשלון במניעת ההתחמשות המחודשת של החיזבאללה, והכישלון במניעת ירי הקאסמים על תושבי דרום הארץ.

אסור לתת לממשלת קדימה להמשיך את שרשרת הכישלונות שלה.

הציבור הישראלי שתומך בהשארותנו ברמת הגולן, ואפילו אלה המתנגדים לכך, מתאחדים נגד הנורמות השלטוניות הפסולות של מר אולמרט וממשלתו.

לכן, אני קורא לכל המפלגות, מימין ומשמאל, להחזיר את המנדט אל הבוחר ולהסכים על מועד לבחירות חדשות.

מי שיבחר בבחירות אלה יקבל מנדט ברור מהציבור לנהל את ענייני המדינה, מול האתגרים הגדולים בבטחון, בכלכלה, בחינוך ובשלום.

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November 14th, 2008, 9:39 pm


53. Shai said:


To make sure I understand you correctly, platforms, or statements made by Benjamin Nentayahu that lay out his party’s plans for what should and shouldn’t be done, on his own website, should not be taken literally. But newspaper articles should. I see. I guess that makes sense… to you… 😉

For your information, I happened to know one of the people who’s running Bibi’s campaign. He sent me to Bibi’s site. Bibi will be bombarding every possible voter citizen in Israel in this upcoming election, much as Obama did, using the internet!!! And guess what link he’ll send everyone he can to go into? You guessed it AIG – his own website – http://www.netanyahu.org.il. He won’t tell hundreds of thousands of voters in Israel to read your newspaper articles, he’ll tell them to read his platform, on his website. And this is where, if you still recall, he says, very clearly, the words I translated up above. This is where he makes his policy regarding concessions for peace, LOUD and CLEAR.

Now, if in reality he’ll do the opposite (as you claim), then that’s misleading the public, isn’t it? The same public that will be getting in the coming days thousands of emails sending them to the site, and to the platform. So is he planning to mislead them here? Maybe… But somehow, I have a funny suspicion, that those on the Right, like you, won’t believe those words, and those in the middle, will. And then, when he wins the election, and makes peace with Syria, and gives back the Golan, people like you won’t be able to call him a “traitor”, because he’ll tell you to look back at his party’s platform… not at your newspaper clippings… 🙂

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November 14th, 2008, 9:42 pm


54. AIG said:

From a speech given on Sarkozy’s visit:

We will not return to the 67 lines and we will not leave (go down from) the Golan

the full speech below.

לא נחזור לקווי 67 ולא נרד מרמת הגולן!


נאום לרגל ביקורו של נשיא צרפת, ניקולא סרקוזי
יום שני, 23 ביוני, 2008

אני שמח לברך היום בכנסת ישראל, בירושלים המאוחדת בירת ישראל, את נשיא צרפת ניקולא סרקוזי ואת רעייתו הגב’ קרלה סרקוזי.
אדוני הנשיא, אני יכול לקבוע ללא היסוס: אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל!

כשאתה אומר שאתה מחוייב לביטחוננו – אתה מתכוון לזה. במהלך השנים הורגלנו למנהיגים במערב שבהבל פיהם תומכים בזכותה של ישראל להגנה עצמית, אך ברגעי אמת מגנים אותנו כל פעם שאנו נאלצים לממש זכות זו.

אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל כי הראית שיש לך מצפן מוסרי. לפני חודשים אחדים הצהרת שלא תיפגש עם מי שמסרב להכיר בקיומה של ישראל -הצהרה שמעטים ממנהיגי העולם מוכנים להתחייב לה, ועוד פחות מזה לקיימה.

כשאחמדיניג’אד מכריז באו”ם ובבירות העולם על כוונתו להשמידנו, כמעט שלא קם אף אחד שיתייצב מולו ויאמר לו את המילים הישירות ברוחו של אמיל זולא – .J’accuse אני מאשים! אבל אתה קמת ודחית אותו בתקיפות, ועל כך אנו מצדיעים לך היום!

אדוני הנשיא, אתה ידיד אמת של העם היהודי משום שאתה מוכן להתעמת חזיתית עם האנטישמיות ששוב מרימה ראש בארצך. כפי שאמרת: “המאבק נגד האנטישמיות אינו עניינה של הקהילה היהודית בצרפת, אלא עניינה של הרפובליקה הצרפתית כולה”.

אתה ידיד אמת של ישראל, אדוני, כפי שאתה ידיד אמת של אמריקה. כשאתה מחזק את הקשר בין ארצך לארצות הברית, אתה מחזק את כל הדמוקרטיות. כמו במאבק נגד הנאציזם והקומוניזם, המאבק נגד האסלאם הקיצוני מחייב ברית איתנה של כל מדינות העולם החופשי. כשארה”ב וצרפת מפולגות, ברית זו נחלשת. כשהן עומדות זו בצד זו, כל הדמוקרטיות מתחזקות, כולל ישראל.

האיום הגדול ביותר על העולם החופשי נובע מניסיונה של איראן להתחמש בנשק גרעיני. אנו מעודדים ממדיניותך להתייצב יחד עם ארה”ב כדי למנוע התפתחות זו.

בסופו של דבר, העימות עם איראן ימנע רק אם איראן תבין שהקהילה הבינלאומית נחושה לעשות כל דבר כדי למנוע את התחמשותה של איראן בנשק גרעיני.

אדוני הנשיא, שינית את יחסה של צרפת לישראל, ואת יחסה של ישראל לצרפת – וזאת מבלי לגרוע מיחסי צרפת והעולם הערבי.

בזה חידשת מסורת של יחסים מיוחדים בין צרפת וישראל. בשני העשורים הראשונים לעצמאותנו, זכינו לתמיכתה החיונית של צרפת בביצור כוחנו הלאומי.

שותפות זו צמחה מן המורשת התרבותית וההיסטורית המיוחדת של צרפת. תנועת ההשכלה בצרפת הייתה המנוע העיקרי של תנועת השחרור של יהודי אירופה. בצרפת הביא הדבר להופעת שורה ארוכה של יוצרים, הוגים ואישים יהודיים כמו קמיל פיזרו וז’אק אופנבאך, אנרי ברגסון וריימונד ארון, ליאון בלום ופייר מנדס פרנס – ואינספור יהודים אחרים שתרמו לצרפת מכישרונם וגאוניותם בכל התחומים, כיאה לארץ שהעמידה מתוכה גאון כמו רש”י.

היום מהווים יהודי צרפת את הקהילה היהודית הגדולה באירופה. זוהי קהילה תוססת, חזקה וגאה – גאה בזהותה היהודית, גאה בהישגיה הרבים ובתרומתה לצרפת, וגאה באהבתה למדינת ישראל.

ידידי הנשיא, זכורים לי רגעים מרגשים בהם עמדנו יחד על אותה במה מול אלפי יהודים בצרפת. ראיתי את חיבתך אליהם, וראיתי את חיבתם אליך. אין פלא שרבים מהם תומכים במאמציך לחדש את פניה של צרפת.

ידידי, אני מאחל לך הצלחה ביוזמתך לעשות רפורמות כלכליות ואחרות בארצך. מניסיון אישי, אני יכול לומר לך – זה לא יהיה קל. אך מנהיגות נבחנת ביכולתה לשחות נגד הזרם ולקבל החלטות קשות אך הנחוצה לטובת המדינה, המעז מנצח.

כולנו מאחלים גם להצלחתך ביוזמתך החשובה ליצור מסגרת של שיתוף פעולה בין מדינות הים התיכון, שלישראל מקום טבעי בה.

אין זה אומר שלא יהיו בינינו חילוקי דעות. כפי שאתה נוהג לומר: “חילוקי דעות יכולים להתקיים בין ידידים. אבל ברגעי מבחן, ידידים מתייצבים בשורה אחת זה בצד זה”.

ואכן, ישראלים רבים רואים את הדברים בפרספקטיבה שונה ממה שמצטייר לעיתים בקהילה הבינלאומית. עם ישראל רוצה בשלום בכל מאודו. גם הוכחנו שאנו מוכנים לשלם מחירים עבור השלום. אבל למדנו מניסיון השנים האחרונות להבחין בין שלום אמיתי לשלום מדומה, שטומן בחובו סכנות חמורות.

הנסיגות החד-צדדיות מלבנון וחבל עזה לא קירבו את השלום אלא יצרו בסיסים איראנים בגבולנו, מהם נורו עד היום על יישובינו אלפי טילים.

הביטחונות שקיבלנו מן הקהילה הבינלאומית, כולל החלטת מועצת הביטחון 1701, כשלו לחלוטין במניעת התחמשותם מחדש של החיזבאלה והחמאס.

ואילו אצל הפלשתינאים המתונים יותר אנו מגלים לצערנו אוזלת יד וחוסר נכונות לעשות את הצעדים המינמליים הדרושים לכינון שלום אמת.
הם אינם מוכנים להלחם בטרור, להכיר בישראל כמדינה יהודית ולוותר על הדרישה להציף את ישראל במיליוני פלשתינאים.

כדי שנוכל להתקדם לשלום אמת, כל זה חייב להשתנות. אם למדנו משהו מן ההיסטוריה הרי זה שהשלום מבוסס על עוצמה ולא על חולשה.
עלינו לשמור את הביטחון בידינו ולהיאבק בטרור ללא הפסקה וללא הפוגה. הבטחון הוא התנאי הראשון והבסיסי ביותר לקיום הסדרי שלום.

בצד זה עלינו לקדם שלום כלכלי עם שכנינו – לא כתחליף להסדר מדיני אלא כפרוזדור אליו. צמיחה כלכלית תחזק את המתונים ותחליש את הקיצוניים ע”י יצירת מקומות עבודה, שיפור רמת חייהם וקידום יוזמות כלכליות, תוך בניית עתיד של שגשוג ותקווה. אדוני הנשיא, אנו מקווים שתקדם יוזמות אלה במרץ האופייני לך בתקופת נשיאותך הקרובה של האיחוד האירופי.

ידידים יקרים, הגיע הזמן להגיד לעולם את האמת ההיסטורית בקול ברור וחזק: המכשול האמיתי לשלום היה והינו הסירוב להכיר במדינת ישראל בגבולות כלשהם.

ישראל הותקפה פעם אחר פעם בקווי 67 מיהודה, שומרון, עזה ורמת הגולן, כשלא הייתה אפילו התיישבות אחת בשטחים אלה. וכשנסוגונו עד הסנטימטר האחרון מלבנון ומרצועת עזה, ממשיכים אויבינו לתקוף אותנו מן השטחים הללו.

הם מסבירים שמטרתם היא לשחרר את “כל חלקי פלשתין הכבושה”: את “חיפה הכבושה”, “אשקלון הכבושה”, “יפו הכבושה” וכו’ – כלומר לחסל את מדינת ישראל בקווי 67 המצומקים.

הם אינם רוצים מדינה פלשתינאית בצד ישראל. הם רוצים מדינה פלשתינית במקום ישראל.

על כן עלינו לדרוש הכרה אמיתית בזכותנו לחיות כעם חופשי ובטוח בארצנו. ועלינו לעמוד על גבולות בני הגנה כדי שנוכל לחיות כאן.

לא נחזור לקווי 67 ולא נרד מרמת הגולן!

אין לנו כוונה לחזור ולשלוט בריכוזי האוכלוסייה הפלשתינית, אבל גם לא נחזור לגבולות שלא יאפשרו הגנה על מדינתנו , תוך ויתור חסר אחריות על מחוזות שהם נחלת אבותינו.

נפוליאון היה בין אלה שעמדו על הקשר העמוק בין עם ישראל לארצו.
במסעו בארץ ישראל ב-1799 קרא ליהודים, אותם כינה “היורשים החוקיים” של הארץ, להצטרף לצבאו ו”להחזיר מה שנלקח מכם”. במנשר ששלח להם שכתובתו ירושלים הוא מצטט מדברי הנביא ישעיהו: “ופדויי ה’ ישובון ובאו ציון”.

ובכן, מאז ברוך השם התקיימו דברי הנביא, וחזרנו בהמונינו לציון!

ידידי הנשיא, הפלשתינאים מאמינים שעם ישראל שהתפלל במשך אלפיים שנה לחזור לירושלים יוותר על חלקים מירושלים, לרבות הר הבית.

הם טועים.
זה לא יקרה!

לעולם לא נחלק את ירושלים!

כפי שאיש לא יעלה על דעתו לחלק את פריז מסיבות אתניות או דמוגרפיות, לא ניתן לאיש לחלק את ירושלים.

בירת הנצח של עם ישראל אינה עומדת לחלוקה או למכירה!
ירושלים המאוחדת תחת ריבונות ישראלית היא הערובה היחידה להמשך שמירת חופש הפולחן לבני כל הדתות בעיר – מוסלמים, נוצרים ויהודים.

ידידי הנשיא, אני רוצה לומר לך בנימה אישית: זו לא הפעם הראשונה ששנינו נפגשים כאן בירושלים, ומן הסתם גם לא הפעם האחרונה.

אבל אני שמח במיוחד לקבל אותך כאן כנשיא הרפובליקה הצרפתית.

ועוד יותר אני שמח שכל אדם בישראל יודע היום מה שצפיתי לפני שנים: שכמדינאי תחזיר את צרפת למרכז הבמה העולמית, ושאתה ידיד אמת של מדינת ישראל ושל עם ישראל.

ברוך בואך לירושלים!

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November 14th, 2008, 9:44 pm


55. AIG said:

To me it is clear that there is no ambiguity. All the quotes above are from the site you sent. They could not be more clear. So, was Bibi lying to Sarkozy?

The platform emphasizes real and reliable peace. It is clear then that Bibi does not believe that returning the Golan will ever bring to a real and reliable peace. That is why there is no contradiction with the platform. Why don’t you ask your likudnik friend this question? I am sure you will get the same answer I am giving you. You just want to hear what you like.

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November 14th, 2008, 9:48 pm


56. Shai said:


You’re REALLY weak today my friend… Not that I think your newspaper articles are anything to compare to his official, stated platform on his official website, to be propagated days from now through the internet to hundreds of thousands of Israeli voters… but what the heck, here’s from your last hebrew article:

אם נכונים דבריו של שר החוץ הסורי, ואליד מועלם, שמר אולמרט התחייב לרדת מרמת הגולן לשפת הכנרת עוד לפני תחילת המשא ומתן, הרי מדובר בהפקרות מדינית ובטחונית חסרת תקדים.

(Translation: “If what the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Moualem, says is true, that Mr. Olmert has made the commitment to withdraw from the Golan Heights down to the shore of the Kinneret, even before beginning the negotiations, then it is an unprecedented national and security lawlessness…”)

In other words, AIG, the Likud is not saying it won’t withdraw from the Golan, it is saying no one can do so without first negotiating… Gee, that’s reasonable enough, isn’t it?

Yalla, go read the Likud’s own platform, so at least you have time to change your story… 🙂

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November 14th, 2008, 9:59 pm


57. AIG said:


You have decided to go even lower today than usual. Netanyahu is here trying to convince even the ISraelis that are for returning the Golan that Olmert’s government is irresponsible and that Israel should go for elections.

You really would take anything knowingly out of context just to try making a point.

But let’s not worry. The election is ahead of us and what Netanyahu stands for will become extra clear the months ahead. All your attempts to instill false hope using vagueness are in vain.

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November 14th, 2008, 10:04 pm


58. AIG said:


I support 2. The explanation follows.

I, contrary to most Likud supporters, am for giving back the Golan as a gesture of goodwill to a democratic Syria. The reason I am for giving a democratic Syria the golan back even though I believe the golan belongs to Israel, is because I believe Israel should reward democracy in Arab countries and take security risks for that because democracy in Arab countries is a long term interest of Israel.

Clear enough for you?

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November 14th, 2008, 10:09 pm


59. Shai said:


The opposite, my selective and uninformed friend. I’m no longer trying to “instill false hope”. I’m now going to do so with very substantiated statements, by Netanyahu, on his own official website.

The question now is not whether this is Likud’s platform, because few will disagree with me that it is. No need to interpret newspaper clippings, when clear platform is stated in black and white, on the official future PM’s website.

The real question now, is what does AIG do, when Bibi starts showing Begin images shaking hands with Sadat, in his election campaign? 🙂 (I’m giving you heads up, so you can think about it, and prepare something. Call it comradeship…)

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November 14th, 2008, 10:13 pm


60. AIG said:

No problem, thanks for the heads up. And I will make sure to post here what Netanyahu says about the Golan, whether it supports my point of view or not. This indeed will be a great opportunity for the Syrians on this blog to see who is selling them BS and who is not. I look forward to an interesting 3 months. Then we will also be able to examine the basis of the formation of any coalition in Israel and what it says about the Golan. You have put yourself in place for a huge fall and you are going to take it. I love opportunites that bring clarity.

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November 14th, 2008, 10:24 pm


61. Alia said:

An hour ago, I heard John Ging interviewed on NPR- he said that, although the past 2 months had been calm and without incidents, Israel had not been allowing the UNRWA to fill up its reserves of food and fuel and was allowing only day to day supplies to come in. This, he interpreted, was a calculated move to immediately punish the population should hostilities resume. This, he stated, is illegal and against all war and peace conventions-

UN ‘has run out of Gaza food aid’

The UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip, the head of relief efforts in the area has warned.

John Ging said handouts for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended until Saturday at the earliest, and called Gaza’s economic situation “a disaster”.

Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies.

It has prevented the transfer of all goods into Gaza for nearly a week, blaming continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa) distributes emergency aid to about half of Gaza’s 1.5m population.

“We have run out [of food aid] this evening,” said Mr Ging, Unrwa’s senior official in Gaza.

“Unless the crossing points open… we won’t be able to get that food into Gaza,” he told Reuters news agency.

Access denied

Also on Thursday, Israel refused permission for a group of senior European diplomats to visit the coastal enclave.

It has also prevented journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the territory.

Limited supplies of fuel were sent over on Tuesday after Gaza’s only power plant ran out of diesel.

Militants say the mortar and rocket fire is their response to what they say is Israeli aggression against Gaza.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev insisted any improvement would be dependent on the Hamas movement which runs the Gaza Strip.

“There’s been a combat situation and it’s very difficult to have unhindered functioning of the border crossings in a situation where shooting is going on,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israeli troops killed four Palestinian militants from the Hamas movement, which has controlled Gaza since it wrested power from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

Witnesses said fighting broke out on the Gaza border after Israeli armoured vehicles crossed into the territory near Khan Younis.

The army said its soldiers were trying to stop militants plant a bomb near the security fence surrounding the strip.

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Aleem Maqbool reports from a closed crossing into the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza power plant provides most of the electricity used in Gaza City; Israel supplies most of the rest of the territory’s energy needs, but the system is liable to become overloaded and blackouts are common.

Israel occupied Gaza in 1967, but pulled military forces and Jewish settlers out in the summer of 2005.

Access to the territory, which is home to about 1.5m Palestinians, remains under the control of Israel’s military, as does its airspace and territorial waters.

Egypt controls the southern entrance to Gaza at Rafah, and goes along with the policy of isolating the Hamas movement, which Israel and its allies brand a terrorist group.

The current round of clashes and rocket fire began on 5 November when Israeli troops entered Gaza to destroy what Israel said was a tunnel dug by militants to abduct its troops.

One militant died in the gunfight, and a subsequent Israeli air strike on Hamas positions in southern Gaza killed at least five fighters.

Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets fired into Israel. There has been intermittent rocket fire since, causing no Israeli casualties.

A truce between the two sides declared on 19 June had largely held. Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce, but maintain that they remain committed to it.

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November 14th, 2008, 10:36 pm


62. Enlightened said:

26. Akbar Palace said:

Enlightened said:

Thats far more important, than what a professor of middle east history would have to say?


I’m sort of getting tired of reading about Dr. Bashar from third parties. All these professors and authors love to explain to me how great Dr. Bashar is. They all read like very strange advertisements: “You need this”, “New and Improved”, “Better than you once thought”, “I have personally seen how he has grown into the position, and he is now brimming with a confidence…”, etc, etc.


I usually decide on a political figure by his actions or lack thereof.

OK. That is a little bit clearer. Maybe that is their perception of him, because they have met him a few times. I don’t think Akbar this is the real problem that you have with these people. That they have a alternative view of how you would like Bashar to be portrayed. ( mind you I believe that he has some shortcomings) and would like to see more reforms, and openness.etc etc

We know that you would prefer the views of Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer, Eyal Zisser etc

But unfortunately for you Akbar, these views will not hold sway in the White House for the next 4 years or possible 8. So you will have to get used to “bad infomercials” as you describe them. Heck we had 8 years of your “bad infomercials”

So in the interests of “fairness and Equity” grin and bear it, and take it like a man! Heck we all did ( apart from some whining of course)!

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November 14th, 2008, 11:31 pm


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