More Firms Find Ways Around Sanctions on Syria and Iran

 US Sanctions against Syria sometimes backfire.

In the case of Gulfsands, the US executives of the oil firm were forced to resign and the company moved its headquarters from Houston to London in a bid to retain its business with Syria. Rather than dump Syria, the company dumped America and cut its exposure to Americans. Here is the story:

Gulfsands sacrifices top executives to continue development of Syrian oil find 
05 May 2008
The Syria Report

Gulfsands Petroleum has announced that two of its key executives, including Chief Executive John Dorrier, were resigning from the board and that it was relocating its principal office to London.
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The other executive is David DeCort, the company’s Chief Financial Officer. The US-based independent oil and gas company provided no explanation for this move. However, the two decisions appear clearly motivated by the recent executive order by US President George Bush banning any dealings between US individuals and corporations with Rami Makhlouf, a shareholder in the company (Read US announces sanctions on Rami Makhlouf). Mr Dorrier and Mr DeCort hold American citizenship. Through his investment Fund, Al Mashrek Fund, M. Makhlouf owns 6.30 percent of the shares.
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Gulfsands Petroleum announced significant discoveries in the Khurbet East field in Block 26 with reserves of 66 million barrels. First production in the field is targeted for the fourth quarter of this year.
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The fifth Canadian oil company has just signed a contract to explore in Syria. Groundstar, SPC sign PSA on Blocks 14 and 16
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[Comment by Landis] Not only are Canadian firms ready to swoop in to snack on the oil and gas business that US firms are no longer able to exploit, but Iraq, America's dependent, seems to be strong enough to defy US Treasury strictures in order to improve economic relations with Syria. Egyptian firms are doing the same thing. This does not bode well for US sanctions, which may end up harming American interests more than they do Syrian interests.

Syrian Oil Minister Sufian al-Alao said Monday Syria and Iraq have signed a deal under which Syria will buy 50 million cubic feet a day of gas from Iraq.

Alao said it would take 18 months to set up a 100-kilometer pipeline between Akkaz and Syria's Deir Ezzor gas plant. He said the Syrian and Iraqi governments had already bought the equipment necessary to to set up the pipeline inside their respective territories. He declined to reveal financial details of the agreement. There are three wells at Akkaz are already producing gas and another requires rehabilitation, he said.

[Comment by Landis] Last week we copied a long story on how India was bucking pressure from Washington in order to sign a 16 billion dollar gas deal with Iran. Indian authorities announced that they refused to treat Iran as if it were Zimbabwe. This week, Turkey is standing up to Washington's pressure in order to negotiate a gas deal with Iran. It seems that the desire for energy will undercut US efforts to use trade as its major weapon against Iran and Syria.

Iran, Turkey to discuss gas projects
Monday, May 5, 2008
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

A Turkish delegation is expected to visit Iranian capital Tehran to discuss natural gas projects, Tehran Times quoted the Iranian deputy oil minister as saying Saturday.

“An Iranian expert group visited Turkey at the beginning of this year and Turkish officials requested more details on offshore and onshore features of phases 22-24 of the South Pars gas field… we hope to clear things up here in Tehran,” Hossein Noqrehkar Shirazi told the Moj news agency.

Delegations from Turkey and Iran met in Ankara last month to solidify the memorandum of understanding signed last year to develop Iran's three phases in the South Pars gas field.

Energy Minister Hilmi Güler signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's former Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh on July 13, 2007 allowing the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to produce 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas in phases 22, 23 and 24 of Iran's South Pars gas field. The plans also include an agreement to use Iran as a transit country for Turkmenistan's natural gas.

Iran will pay cash or natural gas in exchange for TPAO's production in the three fields. The annual gas flow expected is 20 billion cubic meters, which amounts to two-thirds of Turkey's gas needs. Gas will be transferred to Turkey through a pipeline to be built by state owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ) and Iran's concerned companies.

Some of this gas will be used in Turkey, while the rest will be delivered to Europe, officials said. Turkey acquires around 65 percent of its natural gas from Russia and is looking for ways to divert its sources. Iran, the second-largest gas supplier to Turkey, had difficulties sustaining its natural gas flow to Turkey during previous winters, due to extraordinary cold weather and supply cuts by Turkmenistan. Although the agreement with Iran irked the United States, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended the deal.

“We import oil and natural gas. We want to reduce the amount we pay for imports,” Erdoğan said. “Iran would let Turkey develop three gas wells without a tender process as part of the deal, which will also allow gas to be piped from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe,” he said, adding that it was a really attractive offer.

At a cost of 600 million dollars, Egyptian investors will build the largest cement factory in the Middle East, in Syria.        

.. أعلن محمد صادق الوزير المفوض في السفارة المصرية والمسؤول عن العلاقات التجارية بين سورية ومصر أن مجموعة أوراسكوم المصرية ستدخل السوق السورية قريبا لتقيم أكبر مصنع لانتاج الاسمنت بالشرق الاوسط في سورية بقيمة استثمارية تصل الى 600 مليون دولار. وقال صادق خلال مشاركته في المؤتمر الصحفي لمعرض بيلدكس ان هناك شركة مصرية كبيرة ستقيم أيضا مصنعا للاسمدة في سورية بقيمة 60 مليون دولار لافتاً الى المساهمة المصرية الفاعلة في مشروع تعديل العدادات الكهربائية وتحديثها بواسطة شركة السويدي التي أدخلت أنظمة متطورة جدا ستؤدي الى تحول جذري في موضوع ترشيد استهلاك الطاقة الكهربائية والسيطرة عليها. واشار الى أن حجم التبادل التجاري بين سورية ومصر وصل الى مليار دولار وأن الاستثمارات السورية في مصر تتجاوز مليار جنيه مصري كما أنه من المتوقع أن تصل الاستثمارات المصرية في سورية هذا العام الى نحو مليار دولار مبينا أن مصر تشارك في المعرض عبر جناح وطني يضم عدداً كبيراً من الشركات المتخصصة بالبناء ومواده ومستلزماته اذ لمست هذه الشركات التميز والاحترافية في التنظيم اضافة الى الجدوى التي تحصل عليها تلك الشركات في السوق السورية ولاسيما بعد التحسن الملحوظ الذي وفرته الحكومة السورية للمستثمرين

الطاقة الكهربائية والسيطرة عليها. واشار الى أن حجم التبادل التجاري بين سورية ومصر وصل الى مليار دولار وأن الاستثمارات السورية في مصر تتجاوز مليار جنيه مصري كما أنه من المتوقع أن تصل الاستثمارات المصرية في سورية هذا العام الى نحو مليار دولار مبينا أن مصر تشارك في المعرض عبر جناح وطني يضم عدداً كبيراً من الشركات المتخصصة بالبناء ومواده ومستلزماته اذ لمست هذه الشركات التميز والاحترافية في التنظيم اضافة الى الجدوى التي تحصل عليها تلك الشركات في السوق السورية ولاسيما بعد التحسن الملحوظ الذي وفرته الحكومة السورية للمستثمرين

By Nadim Issa, May 5 (Bloomberg) — Syria's Minister of Communication and Technology Imad Al Sabouni said U.S. political and economic pressure on Syria has played a major role in thwarting Syria's attempt to get international bidders to install high-speed broadband Internet lines in the country, Syriasteps reported.

The ministry plans to expand the Internet network to provide services for 400,000 people by 2011 to meet rising demand, the newspaper reported, citing Al Sabouni.

Comments (190)


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151. Shai said:

AP,

I detect a sense of sarcasm, but I don’t seem to understand it. Are you suggesting I should condone AIPAC’s almost automatic support of Israeli policy, regardless of who is at the helm, or what that policy is? I imagine you’re far more capable of criticism of AIPAC than I might even be, seeing as I’m observing it from afar.

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May 7th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

152. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
Thanks for the extensive quote.
Well, it seems pretty conclusive evidence to me that the negotiations between Syria and Israel did not fail because Barak got cold feet but because Asad decided to stop the process. What do you think?

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May 7th, 2008, 8:59 pm

 

153. Naji said:

سوريا: هل سيحدث قانون منع الاحتكار فرقاً؟
جوشوا لانديس
http://www.carnegieendowment.org/programs/arabic/publications/arb.htm#syria1

في 4 أبريل/نيسان، أقرّت سوريا القانون الخاص بالمنافسة ومنع الاحتكار (القانون رقم 7/2008)، وهو الأول من نوعه في هذا البلد، ويعتبره بعض المراقبين خطوة مهمة نحو الانتقال من الاقتصاد المنظّم إلى اقتصاد السوق. ويأتي قانون منع الاحتكار على أعقاب العديد من القوانين الجديدة التي أُقرّت في الأشهر الماضية، وبينها قانون جديد للتجارة وقانون خاص بالشركات وقانون تحكيم، لتحلّ مكان قوانين تعود إلى عام 1949. والهدف من كل هذه القوانين هو إفساح المجال أمام الاستثمارات الخاصة، بما في ذلك الاستثمارات الأجنبية، وجعل سوريا تنسجم مع الممارسات القانونية والتجارية الدولية.
قال كنعان الأحمر، المحامي السوري الذي أدّى دوراً مهماً في إعداد قانون منع الاحتكار (اضغط هنا للاطلاع على النص الكامل للقانون)، لرئيس تحرير المجلة الاقتصادية الأولى في سوريا “سيريا ريبورت”، جهاد يازجي، إن للقانون خمسة أحكام أساسية:

تُحدَّد أسعار السوق عن طريق المنافسة الحرة باستثناء بعض الحالات المحدّدة. يشير الأحمر إلى أنه قبل صدور القانون، كانت الحكومة هي التي تحدّد الأسعار وتصدر تنظيمات من حين لآخر لتحرير الأسعار؛ أما الآن فقد تبدّل الوضع.
تُمنَع الكارتلات والاتفاقات الأخرى، سواء كانت مكتوبة أو شفوية، التي من شأنها أن تخلّ بالمنافسة الحرة في السوق.
لا يُسمَح لأي كيان اقتصادي إساءة استغلال موقعه المهيمن في السوق.
يُحظّر على التجّار والمصنّعين فرض حد أدنى لأسعار إعادة بيع منتجاتهم/خدماتهم، أو البيع بأسعار أقل من التكلفة، أو التسبّب بخلل في التوريد إلى السوق (بهدف رفع الأسعار).
ينص القانون على إنشاء مجلس المنافسة الذي يمنح الإذن لإجراء أي عملية دمج أو شراء تتجاوز فيها حصة الشركة المعنية 30 في المائة من مجمل معاملات السوق في منتج أو خدمة معيّنة.
لكن ليس هناك قانون أفضل من السلطة التي تشرف عليه وتسهر على تطبيقه. يشرح يازجي أن “نص قانون منع الاحتكار جيد وعصري بقدر أي قانون مماثل في بلد آخر. ساهم هذا القانون والقوانين الأخرى التي أُقرَّت مؤخراً بتحسين كبير في أجواء الأعمال في سوريا. غير أن التطبيق سيطرح مشكلة؛ يجب ألا نتوقّع الكثير في المدى القصير. تعيّن الحكومة معظم الأعضاء في الهيئة المكلّفة الإشراف على تطبيق القانون. بعبارة أخرى، إنه قانون جيد جداً لكنه يتطلّب إصلاحاً سياسياً قبل أن يحقّق الفعالية المطلوبة”.
ستكون للحكومة سيطرة كاملة على مجلس المنافسة المؤلّف من 13 عضواً الذي سيراقب تطبيق القانون. سوف يضمّ المجلس الذي يخضع لرئيس الوزراء، ثمانية خبراء ماليين وقانونيين يختارهم الوزراء ورؤساء اللجان المالية الحكومية، وثلاثة رجال أعمال تختارهم اتحادات غرف التجارة والصناعة، ونقابيَّين أحدهما من الاتحاد العام لنقابات العمال والثاني من الاتحاد العام للفلاحين.
أحد الأسئلة الأساسية المطروحة بشأن القانون الجديد هو كيف سيُطبَّق، أو بالأحرى هل سيُطبَّق على الصناعات التي تسيطر عليها الدولة حالياً. قال رجل أعمال سوري، وهو مدير تنفيذي في وول ستريت لديه مصالح متعدّدة في سوريا “ليست الاحتكارات في القطاع الخاص ما يقلقنا نحن رجال الأعمال؛ بل احتكارات الدولة. تملك الدولة نحو 250 مشروعاً تجارياً مختلفاً تدر حوالي ثمانية منها فقط أرباحاً. وهذه المشاريع هي في صناعات النفط والاتصالات السلكية واللاسلكية. أما المشاريع الأخرى فكلها تقريباً متعثّرة وتنتج الإطارات والجعة والبسكويت والمياه المعبّأة والسجائر… وتطول اللائحة. يريد كل رجال الأعمال الذين أعرفهم الاستثمار في هذه المجالات؛ يمكن جني مبالغ كبيرة لكن يجب أن تتخلّى الدولة أولاً عن احتكاراتها”.
في الوقت نفسه، وعلى الرغم من الإحباط المستمر من الوتيرة البطيئة للتغيير والوطأة الثقيلة للدولة، يعتبر رجال أعمال سوريون كثيرون أن الحكومة تسلك المسار الصحيح. قال أحد رجال الأعمال “إن كان من أمر قام به بشار، فهو تغيير بعض القوانين البالية والسخيفة”. وفتح الرئيس الأسد أيضاً العديد من الصناعات الإستراتيجية – المصارف والتأمين والإعلان – أمام الرساميل الخاصة. وكان تجاوب المستثمرين في هذه الصناعات جيداً جداً. فقد كان هناك إقبال شديد على عروض الشراء العامة التي أطلقتها المصارف الجديدة التي دخلت السوق السورية. فعندما دخل بنك عودة السوق السورية عام 2005، بلغت نسبة الاكتتاب في عرض الشراء العام 988 في المائة. ونظّم فرنسبنك الذي هو آخر المصارف التي تفتتح لها فرعاً في سوريا، عرض شراء عام في مارس/آذار الماضي بلغت نسبة الاكتتاب فيه 250 في المائة من قيمة العرض.
أثار نجاح القطاع المالي شهية المستثمرين الإقليميين. صحيح أنه لم يتّضح بعد إذا كان قانون منع الاحتكار والقوانين الجديدة الأخرى ستُطبَّق كما يجب، إلا أنها نجحت في توليد انطباع بأن المناخ في سوريا بات مؤاتياً للاستثمار. غير أن رجال الأعمال يعون جيداً المخاطر التي يمكن أن يواجهوها في بيئة ملتبسة كهذه. بدأ عرض للاستثمار في مشروع جديد في سوريا بقيمة 50 مليون دولار، بالتحذير الآتي “هذا العرض مخصّص للمستثمرين ذوي الإمكانات المتطوّرة الذين يستطيعون في أسوأ الحالات تحمّل خسارة الاستثمار بكامله”. الاستثمار في سوريا لا يناسب ضعيفي القلوب.

جوشوا لانديس هو أحد مديري مركز الدراسات الشرق الأوسطية في جامعة أوكلاهوما.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

154. Shai said:

Abraham,

I disagree. George W. had an old score to settle, and he didn’t need AIPAC to help him start the war. From what I recall, the initial “intelligence” that linked Iraq to Al Qaeda and WMD’s came not from the U.S. but from Britain. A scientist-advisor there misled MI6 about the existence of nuclear-grade material in Africa, that can be used in a “dirty bomb”. The Brits shared it with CIA, and the ball kept rolling.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

155. Seeking the Truth said:

AIG,

Let’s hope the process be resuscitated soon enough for the good of the region.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

156. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seeking,
If we could all agree what the “good” of the region is, we would have had peace long ago.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:20 pm

 

157. Zenobia said:

no. Barak got cold feet at offering what was required for Assad to accept. Meaning he was ready to and then retreated.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:24 pm

 

158. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Many AIPAC haters are stuck with this fallacy:
If AIPAC supported the war then AIPAC caused the war.

The reasoning is as follows:
AIPAC is omnipotent. AIPAC is rational. Why then would not an omnipotent entity that is rational bring about it own goals?

Yes, AIPAC supported the war in Iraq but so did most Americans in the beginning. There was no need to lobby for it and it was not caused by AIPAC. Bush and the Republicans got the Democrats on board. AIPAC played no part.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

159. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Barak negotiated tough. He was using a negotiation tactic on Asad. Asad did it a million times in his life and is considered a hero for it. But when Barak does it you complain.

You get to peace by slogging through a tough negotiation. A negotiation means that both sides have to compromise, not that Asad stays put and the others compromise.

The bottom line: Barak was willing to continue the process, Asad wasn’t.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

160. Shai said:

Zenobia,

Good Afternoon (I guess, right?) Remind me why we’re regurgitating over and over again who did what in the past, and who’s fault it was, or wasn’t? This exercise is truly useless, in my mind, because it doesn’t help us move forward. Bashar has been, for all practical purposes, almost “begging” Israel through every channel possible to come back to the table, and to make peace with Syria. What MORE can we ask of Syria? To stop shooting (via HA/Hamas)? We can’t do that, not while we’re still enemies. To promise in advance that Bashar won’t play with his feet in the waters of the Kineret? We also can’t do that, because it needs to be agreed upon in direct talks, not via Turkish coffee-and-cable. If Barak was our PM now, ok, I understand bringing him up. But trust me, he is not, won’t be, and knows it better than both of us. We need to talk about Olmert, and quite honestly, Netanyahu.

But, I won’t pretend to do that now… mainly because it’s time to call it a night. For me at least. So enjoy your discussions with everyone here, and I’ll check up on SC tomorrow. Ciao from the “peaceful” ME… 😉

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May 7th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

161. Shai said:

AIG,

I tend to agree with you, but you do understand Alex’s concerns over AIPAC’s influence, don’t you? I too believe that innate and almost-automatic support of Israeli policy, is not in Israel’s best interest. We need to see a more balanced approach, so that AIPAC will truly be respected and not suspected. It is not only influence that AIPAC can bring about, it is also hatred and distrust. We need the first, but not the latter.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

162. Zenobia said:

um. yes.
I didn’t bring anything up. i was just piping in. but it is not that important. I think i only said it cause there is this image of the syrian leaders and other arab leaders as they will never budge or they are disingenious in their overtures, and that is not true. I think there are more instances where the Israelis have had to come to the table under pressure when they really didn’t want to and had no intention of making concessions. That was in the past anyway. Obviously Arafat screwed up royally too. And so, we do need to move forward to more brave and honest efforts.

We will see. i agree that Barak was negotiating. There has been a lot of negotiating for forty years. and non-negotiating, and halting and backing out… etc etc.

yes it is more important to learn from all that and move forward to more authentic negotiations where people aren’t pussing footing around.

i really want to put my feet in the Kineret actually. I am ready.
I guess if i get desperate, I can take my passport and go from the other side. although with this name, I am not sure the Israelis are going to let me in, american or no american.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

163. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
By definition, lobbys fall on a certain side of an issue. I understand Alex’s concerns but I just don’t understand his repsonse. You are not happy with the NRA, you don’t tell them to stop supporting guns. You start an anti-gun lobby. That is how the system works. You don’t like the neo-cons? Start an anti-neocon lobby. There must be a huge number of Americans who would support and fund that. You want a pro-palestinian lobby? Create one, I am sure that there are Americans that would fund it and be happy to work there like Abraham.

The way Alex talks about AIPAC makes me suspicious that he thinks AIPAC is a special case that needs to be handled differently from other lobbies. He is not proposing the obvious solution.

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May 7th, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

164. ausamaa said:

AIG says: “The way Alex talks about AIPAC makes me suspicious that he thinks AIPAC is a special case that needs to be handled differently from other lobbies.”

Hell, Alex must be very very naive. AIPAC falls in the same lobbying catagory as Green Peace and Save the Dolphins lobbies!

AIG and Akbar Palce,have you really given any serious thought to seeking professional medical help? Professional psychaiatric help I mean.

If not for your own sake then for ours; as you seem to care so much about Syrians.

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May 7th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

165. SimoHurtta said:

I disagree. George W. had an old score to settle, and he didn’t need AIPAC to help him start the war. From what I recall, the initial “intelligence” that linked Iraq to Al Qaeda and WMD’s came not from the U.S. but from Britain. A scientist-advisor there misled MI6 about the existence of nuclear-grade material in Africa, that can be used in a “dirty bomb”. The Brits shared it with CIA, and the ball kept rolling.

Hmmmm Shai do you claim that Israel and AIPAC’s leading members had no or little role in the propaganda war against Iraq and in faking evidence? Israelis and pro-Israelis were “dancing” after the Iraq war started, as some Israelis danced in New York watching 911.

Moran Down: The Groups Who Cried Anti-Semitism

In September 2002, before Congress had begun considering the administration’s proposal authorizing force with Iraq, Rebecca Needler, a spokeswoman for AIPAC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “If the president asks Congress to support action in Iraq, AIPAC would lobby members of Congress to support him.” Then at an AIPAC meeting in New York in January 2003, before the war began, but after Congress had voted to authorize Bush to go to war, Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, boasted of AIPAC’s success in lobbying for the war. Reported the New York Sun, “According to Mr. Kohr, AIPAC’s successes over the past year also include guaranteeing Israel’s annual aid package and ‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq.” (AIPAC’s spokesman Josh Block insists that the organization did no lobbying and that Kohr was misquoted.)

Most of the guys behind the war were known pro-Israelis and many of them Jews. If they were not directly members of AIPAC they certainly were supporting the lobby’s strange “ideology”.

Naturally Israel and AIPAC try to erase their role in the Iraq war so much as possible. It would not be very wise if Olmert would give a photo to Bush with the text: “Thanks dude for starting our war against Iraq. Hope you have time for our war against Iran.” (Do you Shai remember that dude photo of Bush given to Olmert) 🙂

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May 7th, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

166. Enlightened said:

Article from Asad Abu Khalils website: (Angry Arab quite ironic if you read below)

Reporters First Hand account of what they witnessed in Lebanon:

A Western reporter in Lebanon sent me this (he does not want his name mentioned) (he is relatively new to Lebanon and it shows at a point or two–like Amal militia has a long history in thuggishness and yet it used to complain about PLO thuggishness): “spent the entire day running around all the flashpoints in beirut, wherever there were mobs, shootings, explosions, i got harassed by various militias from both sides, but i was really shocked at the behavior of amal. i’ve spent a lot of time with mustaqbal militiamen, who of course are thuggish and racist and their militias are getting better organized, and thats all frightening, but they seem very weak and almost cowardly when compared with the amal thugs i saw today, who were very provocative. it had nothing to do with the labor union strike for them, it was just a show of force to specifically intimidate sunnis. even in iraq i havent seen this kind of anti sunni sectarianism, its couched in anti baathi or anti wahabi language. obviously i’ve seen anti shiite sectarianism all over the place among sunnis in the region they had switch blades, clubs, and they even had small molotov cocktail bottles in their pockets in case they needed them. they threw stones at the army without provocation, and the army was basically letting them do whatever they wanted, and proved how weak it was, the army guys were begging the amal and hizballah guys to behave basically. it was clear today how pathetically weak the lebanese army and police are. in most cases they just stood by and watched as protesters did whatever they wanted, in other cases, depending on their affiliation, they actually physically helped both sunni and shiite militias. when the amal guys threw stones at the soldiers, all some of the soldiers did was throw them back when the call to prayer started from the sunni mosque across the street in tariq al jadida, the amal guys started shouting various religious shiite slogans, insulting sunnis etc. it was quite obvious that the hizballah men present were controlling them when they looked like they were about to cross to the sunni side. it was as if hizballah has these amal pitbulls who are just foaming at the mouth eager to attack and kill, and hizballah is letting them bark and bite a little, to show the other side that its holding the leash and can let go at any time and the amal pitbulls would destroy anything in their way, which it was very clear they wanted to do this country is so fucked, the sunni militias now run checkpoints and demand IDs and act just like shiite militias”

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May 7th, 2008, 11:27 pm

 

167. abraham said:

Well, AIG and AP, I think you’ll be alarmed to learn that I just had a friendly discussion about the Middle East with a random Jewish guy I bumped into. I didn’t murder him. I didn’t strap a bomb to my body and blow him up. In fact, I don’t think I even instilled any fear into him, despite the fact that I haven’t shaved for a few days and I look like a stereotypical TV jihadi. In fact, he went away with the last word and a smile.

I was talking to my friend behind where I have my office and the topic of the Middle East came up. Since we’re friendly I began telling him the same kind of stuff I normally say here, basically trying to correct his misconceptions. I think he was trying to end the conversation when suddenly his client came walking out the door because he had been listening from inside. He was an old hippy Jew I guess from the long gray hair and also from the fact that he wasn’t a frothing at the mouth zionist.

We had a nice friendly conversation in which we agreed on some things and disagreed on many, but it was certainly cordial and we even exchanged handshakes and names (his was Eliot) at one point.

So I don’t know, AIG/AP, does that sound like the kind of Jew-hater you often accuse me of being?

Eliot’s underlying conclusion was basically, look, over human history wars have been fought and land has exchanged hands and time has gone on and what can you do? What is, is. And I agree! I must say I am a lover of history and I fully acknowledge that this happens. But, I think where Eliot is missing the point is that the Palestinians are still there. They didn’t go away. They are waiting for when they can finally come home. His counter-argument was that most of the original refugees are dead. I told him that’s not the case, and in any event there are still a large number of first generation exiles and even second generation and they all want to go back too. They don’t want to live in a refugee camp in country that doesn’t want them anyway. He then brought up the fact that many Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations and Israel absorbed them. I acknowledged that this was shameful of the Arabs and I regret that this happened, but that those people have every right to go back to their countries of origin and take back their homes and businesses and land and that in any final peace agreement this should be part of the deal (for those that want to, just like not all Palestinians would want to return to Israel/Palestine).

What I re-iterated to him above all else is that the war never ended, and the Palestinians are still there, and they still want to go back home. I expressed to him my belief that the only solution is a one state for one people solution (i.e. a true democracy) and that Israel is rotting from within because no country can long sustain an occupation of another people. He didn’t have a response to that. I think maybe (hopefully) I left him thinking.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:01 am

 

168. abraham said:

Shai, I am as equally convinced that AIPAC had a hand in instigating the war as you are that they did not, so I don’t think we need to bother to argue over that. I have read a lot of reliable information from normally extremely reliable people and journalists from which I base my judgements. I invite you to follow the links that I posted if you are inclined although it is a lot of reading, but it is eye opening.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:03 am

 

169. Shual said:

… And the Arab monarchies save a lot of money with those very cheap “The Jews – AIPAC – All Jews – Not the jews I know, but the Jews are responsible”-Activists. Nobody askes the Saudis about their involvement in the Iraq-war and they have not to pay a bunch of analysts to deny any accusation.

@ Shai

Rowan [http://niqnaq.wordpress.com/] told me [?] to tell you that you please contact him. I don’t know why, but please do it, cause … the LAMAFOTNHD [Left And Mean Activist Front Of The Northern Harrier District] want to show that they have influence in people, too.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:21 am

 

170. Enlightened said:

Abraham:

Don’t waste your breath on them (AIG), you dont need to convince anyone that YOU ARE ANTI JEWISH, it is a figment of AIG’s imagination.

There is a clear distinction between Anti Zionist and Anti Jewish, From AIG statements about beating your wife, circumsizing your daughters, killing your sister for having pre marital sex etc, surely you must be drawn to the conclusion that you are not dealing with a rational human being, but one that is more bigoted than any “framed” anti semite like you is (lol)

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May 8th, 2008, 12:22 am

 

171. abraham said:

Enlightened, I expressed my opinion that AIG is a paranoid lunatic several days ago. Alex deleted the first comment but I followed up insisting that I am serious, and I am. I am truly convinced that he has an unnatural paranoia towards Arabs which I believe is the cause of his fear and hatred of Arabs.

Lo, even Eliot talked about how Israelis are fearful of suffering through another episode like the Holocaust. I asked him that if the Israelis were guaranteed 100% that no harm would ever come to them and it would be backed up the international community, would Israelis finally feel comfortable giving up Israel to a one-state solution? I never got an answer from him unfortunately because the conversation had to be cut short.

But this really is, I believe, the underlying cause of Israeli fear & loathing. They need to understand that the people who want to push all the Jews into the sea and all that crap are the extremists. It would be like assuming Ariel Sharon and Avigdor Lieberman represent all Jews, or that people like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee represent all Americans.

Jews need to re-learn how to trust humanity and not buy into all the nonsense propoaganda that zionists have been spreading for the past century. Yes, it’s a dangerous world, for everyone, not just for Jews (and no one knows this better than the Palestinians who have been all but abandoned at this point), but they have used fear and hatred as a tool to promote their agenda for so long now many Jews have an almost innate complex of having the whole world against them, which is nonsense. It is also why they can’t see how hurtful their own actions are…they are too scared to realize that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

172. Enlightened said:

Abraham Said:

“But this really is, I believe, the underlying cause of Israeli fear & loathing. They need to understand that the people who want to push all the Jews into the sea and all that crap are the extremists. It would be like assuming Ariel Sharon and Avigdor Lieberman represent all Jews, or that people like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee represent all Americans.”

Well said.

I might add I addendum to this fear. The re percussions of The Iraq war and the ascent of the so called rejectionists (particularly Iran) is also being pushed as an existentialist threat.

I think Nasser’s original comment about “driving the Jews” into the Sea was more rhetorical than a plan that he could carry out and execute. If you look at the history of Arab confrontation towards Israel, The Arabs have never stood a chance, and this threat from the Arabs always seems to be existential. The military competence of the Arabs post independence (apart from 73) has been laughable from any military analysts point of view.

Its true they are too scared to realize that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself, but there is fear and loathing on both sides of the fence.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:56 am

 

173. norman said:

The problem with AIPAC is that the arrogance that they use and their push to control congress will eventually lead to hatred of the Jews and will increase antisemitism in the US , then may be that what they want , They want to push further immigration to Israel from the US .

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May 8th, 2008, 1:26 am

 

174. norman said:

This Interesting and sad,

Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, tooAuthor: Ray Hanania (Palestine/USA) – May 7, 2008This week I got a chance to meet a Christian Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Nadia Hilou (Hilo). She is a member of the labor Party, and is the only Christian Arab woman, one of 17 total women, and one of two Arab Christians in the Israeli parliament. Nadia was the guest on my radio show in Chicago (RadioChicagoland). The segment interviews are podcast through a lot of sites including iTunes. (The link is on the web site).
She has an interesting story to tell about the challenges she faces as a Christian Palestinian in a Jewish and Islamic World, in the Middle East and as an Arab living in Israel. What’s amazing about her is that she was elected not from a “quota” seat which is the only way Christians can ever be elected in the Arab World — including in Jordan where my cousin has held a seat in the Jordanian Senate, in a seat reserved for Christians — but rather as a candidate appealing to a broad constituency that include some Christian Arab Israelis, some more Muslim Arab Israelis and a a majority of Israeli Jews. She still won a seat and maybe she foretells the future of “Democratic” Israel.
Most Arabs cannot win in Israeli elections unless they run on Arab lists in Arab regions. Israeli Jews will not vote for them, reflecting Israel’s Jewish society which seeks to exclude Christian and Muslim citizens. But that’s no different than the traditions in the Arab World, Look at Iraq. If President Bush had an ounce of intelligence in his brain — he doesn’t, although he has become more compassionate towards the Palestine-Israel conflict, although it has taken 7 years — he would have recopgnized that you can’t bring Democracy to Iraq. Sunnis vote for Sunnis’ Shi’ites vote for Shi’ites. Assyrians vote for Assyrians. Turkomen vote for Turkomen. Kurds vote for Kurds and so on. It’s a fact of life in the Arab World too, and in Palestine, the cloests thing the Arabs have to a “Democracy” — it’s as much a Democracy as is Israel.
I hope you enjoy it. And if I can figure out how to place it on our MEY podcasts, I’ll try.
Also, I think that for Christian Arabs is that Jews often embrace them more than Muslims. As a Christian Arab comedian, for example, I am excluded from the Muslim Comedy circuit and from the activist comedy circuit, partly because of my “moderate” views which the other comedians either do not want to address (because it’s bad for their careers) or they disagree with. I understand that. But Christian Arabs are excluded from almost every aspect these days of the Muslim Arab society.
Secular Arabs are being eclipsed by the Islamic activists and today’s Muslim, who, it seems, focuses on him or herself rather than on the larger Arab Nation. Arab Nationalism has been replaced by Islamicism. Christian Arabs are marginalized, patronized and exploited mainly to score points against Israel.
And the mainstream American media, including even places like the so-called “progressive” Public Television also has pushed aside Arab Christians, and that is an amazing thing ocnsidering that American Christians essential are the descendents of Palestinian Christians. One day Arab Christians will eventually disappear. And that’s bad news for Christianity, the Arab World and especially for Israel.
Ray Hanania
(I also now write for The HuffingtonPost.com.)

Related Posts:Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, too Islamic Group Driving Christians Away From Mosul Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East Israel and Palestine do not represent the entire Middle East Love stories- any good ones?

3 Responses to “Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, too”
On 07.05.08 at 15:00 MDT
Danial Wrote:
“Also, I think that for Christian Arabs is that Jews often embrace them more than Muslims. As a Christian Arab comedian, for example, I am excluded from the Muslim Comedy circuit and from the activist comedy circuit, partly because of my “moderate” views which the other comedians either do not want to address (because it’s bad for their careers) or they disagree with. I understand that. But Christian Arabs are excluded from almost every aspect these days of the Muslim Arab society.”
Maybe because it’s called “Muslim Comedy” for a reason. I wouldn’t want to join a “Christian Arab” comedy circuit since I know and respect the fact that it’s for Christian Arabs only.
If it was just “Arab”, then I could understand and criticize the exclusion. But come on, you’re grasping for straws here.
You’re greatly exaggerating all of this Muslim-Christian conflict within the Arab world. Do you want to be like the Maronites now, like Brigitte Gabriel?
On 07.05.08 at 17:11 MDT
Ray Hanania Wrote:
It is a fact that many Muslims refuse to address that Christians are abused in the Islamic and the Arab World. I think you missed the point, but I don’t think your intention was to address the point. The hostilities between Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs are a fact of life that people like you would like us to not address because it undermines your “cause” against Israel.
We used to all be Arabs. That is the point you conveniently miss in my comments, and of course, take them out of context.
If anything is greatly exxagerated, it is the pressure to prevent Christian Arabs from expressing their views about these issues without being ostracized or intimidated.
Ray Hanania
http://www.hanania.com
On 07.05.08 at 17:00 MDT
Ray Hanania Wrote:
PS “Danial” … are you also slandering all Maronites? Because they are Christian Arabs from Lebanon who are also abused? So I guess they have no rights either?
Ray Hanania
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May 8th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

175. SOL said:

SHAI

“but you do understand Alex’s concerns over AIPAC’s influence, don’t you? ”

Like many people I understand you find Aipac’s positions short-sighted and damaging. But do you have any idea how a lobby works? They are not meant to be fair and balanced. The Tobacco Lobby doesn’t give you information on the harmful effects of cigarettes, it’s sole purpose is to promote tobacco interests. It would be absurd for those of us who oppose smoking to expect the Tobacco Lobby to have a more “balanced approach”. The American-Arab Institute is a Arab-American lobby, http://www.aaiusa.org/get-involved/2365/lobby-day, is their website more balanced then Aipac’s website, http://www.aipac.org/?

Shai, like you I believe in peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution but that doesn’t mean you have to be an apologist for every absurd and exaggerated claim. Believe in peace and the legitimate rights of the Palestinians but not at the expense of honesty and common sense

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May 8th, 2008, 1:47 am

 

176. abraham said:

Sol, you still don’t understand. AIPAC is undermining its goals by being “too” successful. I guarantee you that a lot of Americans are very leery over the power that AIPAC holds over Washington. There’s a lot of whispering going on out of earshot. That’s why your ears are constantly burning.

AIPAC wields unnatural control over our entire government. No politician (except for Ron Paul) is willing to express any position against Israeli policy or else they know they’ll get the smackdown by AIPAC. Many retired politicians have come forward to acknowledge this, including Paul Findlay who runs Council for the National Interest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Findley

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May 8th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

177. SOL said:

Abraham

“AIPAC is undermining its goals by being “too” successful.”

More than $62 million in California alone was spent in the November 2006 election by the tobacco interests on the opposition campaign to Proposition 86 (Tobacco Products Tax Initiative), which would have raised the tax on cigarettes by $2.60/pack. Proposition 86 was defeated by a vote of 51.7 to 48.3 percent. (Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 10 different cancers, and accounts for some 30% of all cancer deaths. And it costs billions of dollars each year.)

According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, congressmen are outnumbered two to one by the pharmaceutical lobby that spends roughly $100 million a year in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses to protect its profits.

Are you equally outraged by other lobby organizations that are “too” successful? Are the tobacco lobby and pharmaceutical lobby also undermining their goals?

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May 8th, 2008, 2:41 am

 

178. Enlightened said:

Sol:

Nice analogy, good point, I take it that Death by stealth (The Tobacco lobby ) is very similar to AIPAC.

The Tobacco lobby however does not indirectly support the following:

Starting and promoting War
Theft of land and rights)
Indirectly perpetuating a conflict,
Supporting a State that demolishes houses and subjugates one of its indigenous populations and other abuses

I can go on!

But what is the point, it is suceesfull and achieving its aims!

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May 8th, 2008, 3:12 am

 

179. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jews shouldn’t be too successful in Hollywood, people already are talking about how the Jews control Hollywod and you need to be careful.
Jews shouldn’t be too successful in Wall Street because Americans are not happy with it.
Etc. Etc.
Of course Jews should’t also lobby succesfully for they will be resented.

This is how the argument against AIPAC is starting to look to me.

You don’t like AIPAC, create a lobby to work against it, call it the anti neo-con lobby or whatever. Jews have heard the “limit yourself or others will get angry” crap before and we are not taking it anymore.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:10 am

 

180. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ: Israel at 60: So vilified, yet so deserving of praise
Christian Science Monitor

Cambridge, Mass. –As Israel celebrates 60 years of nationhood this Thursday, and looks ahead to the next 60 years, the world should appreciate what the Jewish state has accomplished.

Built on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel’s birth was followed by a massive attack from all sides by the surrounding Arab nations. Threatening another genocide, they managed to kill 1 percent of Israel’s population, but Israel survived – and even thrived.

In the years since, the Jewish nation has turned deserts into gardens, swamps into orchards, sand dunes into cities. Lacking the natural resources of its neighbors, Israel made the best of what it had. It became a high-tech giant, specializing in life-saving medical technology. Indeed, it ranks second only to the United States in NASDAQ listings.

Faced with barren land, Israel has also developed agricultural technologies that maximize food production, and exported these life-saving and life-enhancing technologies to the rest of the world.

This young nation has also produced more art, literature, music, academic articles, and books than most countries triple its size. As Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in an otherwise critical article in The Atlantic:

“Israel is, by almost any measure, an astonishing success. It has a large, sophisticated, and growing economy … the finest universities and medical centers in the Middle East; and a main city, Tel Aviv, that is a center of art, fashion, cuisine, and high culture spread along a beautiful Mediterranean beach. Israel has shown itself, with notable exceptions, to be adept at self-defense, and capable (albeit imperfectly) of protecting civil liberties during wartime…. Zionism may actually be the most successful national liberation movement of the 20th century.”

Israel’s Arab citizens, numbering 1.2 million, live longer, healthier lives, and have lower infant mortality, better educational opportunities, and more basic liberties than the Arab population of neighboring states.

Even in its efforts to defend itself from aggression – it was attacked by Arab states in 1948, 1967, and 1973 – Israel has exemplified restraint and high ethical standards.

Although Tel Aviv was bombed by the Egyptian Air Force in 1948, Jerusalem was rocketed by Jordan in 1967, and several Israeli cities were threatened by Syria in 1967, Israel never bombed Cairo, Amman, or Damascus. (It did attack terrorist bases in the suburbs of Beirut in 2006.)

In its efforts to protect against terrorists, it has also complied with a high standard of human rights, even while its enemies have targeted Israeli civilians while deliberately hiding behind human shields in densely populated civilian areas.

When I speak at university campuses, I issue the following challenge: Name a country, faced with comparable threats to its own citizens, that has ever tried harder to comply with the rule of law or human rights than Israel.

No one has ever named such a country, nor could they. Certainly not the United States, which repeatedly bombed enemy cities (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo, Cologne). Certainly not Britain, which in addition to bombing cities fought one of the dirtiest colonial wars in Kenya. Certainly not France, which also fought a brutal colonial war in Algeria. Not Russia. Not China.

This is not to say that Israel’s actions have always been commendable. They have not. Israel deserves perhaps a grade of B-minus, but in a world where ‘C,’ ‘D,’ and ‘F’ is common, that’s pretty good.

Yet, despite this remarkable history of achievement, not only for its own people, but for the world in general, Israel remains a pariah nation.

It is reviled by the United Nations, which helped create it, and by a large number of the world’s countries and people. It has been condemned by the General Assembly more than all the other nations of the world combined – a world that includes such tyrannies as North Korea, Iran, Cuba, China, Syria, Libya, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia. It has been subject to calls for academic boycotts, despite having one of the highest levels of academic freedom in the world. It has been threatened with divestment, though it exports more life-saving technology per capita than any nation on earth.

What explains this vast disparity between Israel’s accomplishments and the near-universal condemnation it has received? When one of the world’s best nations is condemned as the worst, we must consider the motives of those who are condemning.

Let me be crystal clear: I am not suggesting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. To the contrary, criticism of Israeli policies and actions is healthy. I have been on the forefront of criticizing Israel for establishing civilian settlements on the West Bank. Within Israel itself, criticisms of Israeli policies and actions are pervasive. Just read the Israeli press. Or attend the numerous antigovernment demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What I am talking about is not criticism of Israel but rather demonization, delegitimization, and disproportionate attacks that go to the very essence of the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

Consider the following question: Would any other country that struggles so hard for its survival, while at the same time trying so hard to remain within the rule of law, be subject to the kind of irrational hatred to which the Jewish nation is exposed? Is the Jewish nation now being treated with the same irrationality with which “the Jews” have been treated for centuries? This is the daunting question that must be faced by those who single out Israel for unique condemnation as it celebrates 60 years of unequaled accomplishments.

Imagine how much more Israel could contribute to the welfare of the world during the next 60 years if it were blessed with peace and were allowed to turn its swords into plowshares!

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May 8th, 2008, 4:21 am

 

181. Enlightened said:

“Let me be crystal clear: I am not suggesting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. To the contrary, criticism of Israeli policies and actions is healthy. I have been on the forefront of criticizing Israel for establishing civilian settlements on the West Bank. Within Israel itself, criticisms of Israeli policies and actions are pervasive. Just read the Israeli press. Or attend the numerous antigovernment demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”

I applaud Dershowitz and ask if he can tutor the Junior Zionists on this site to learn the difference between what is Ant Semitic and legitimate criticism of Israel , and not to confuse the two

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May 8th, 2008, 4:31 am

 

182. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You forgot the end of the paragraph:
“What I am talking about is not criticism of Israel but rather demonization, delegitimization, and disproportionate attacks that go to the very essence of the legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

First accept a Jewish state in the middle east and then feel free to criticize it because you want to make it better. But since you don’t want to improve the Jewish state, you want to dismantle and destroy it why are you bothering criticizing it? According to you and Abraham nothing can make Israel better because Zionizm is a bad idea at its core.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:40 am

 

183. Enlightened said:

Provide One reference where I have “Demonized” Israel: ( Another AIG figment of imagination moment)

I want Israel to survive as a State, there is nothing I have said, that demonizes Israels right to exist as a State,

Provide the reference where I have demonized Israel’s right to exist.

Otherwise stop spewing your hatred, the only racist and bigot here is you and there are plenty of examples that we have witnessed.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:48 am

 

184. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Are you not for the one state solution which means the end of the Jewish state?

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May 8th, 2008, 4:52 am

 

185. Enlightened said:

Nope!

But I am glad you asked!

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May 8th, 2008, 4:54 am

 

186. abraham said:

Sol said:

Are you equally outraged by other lobby organizations that are “too” successful? Are the tobacco lobby and pharmaceutical lobby also undermining their goals?

Might I remind you that the tobacco industry pretty much has lost its clout? Also, for a politician, it’s far easier to defend one’s vote against tobacco than it is against Israel.

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May 8th, 2008, 8:20 am

 

187. abraham said:

First accept a Jewish state in the middle east and then feel free to criticize it because you want to make it better. But since you don’t want to improve the Jewish state, you want to dismantle and destroy it why are you bothering criticizing it? According to you and Abraham nothing can make Israel better because Zionizm is a bad idea at its core.

Oh, blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Look, first accept an Abraham state in your house where I control the front door, the back door, the living room, dining room, master bedroom, the fireplace, the spa, and the kitchen, and relegate you to the basement, and then feel free to complain about attacks against the state of Israel itself.

And yes, thank you for finally acknowledging that zionism is a bad idea. And I accept your apology.

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May 8th, 2008, 8:24 am

 

188. Akbar Palace said:

Alex stated:

We don’t need more millions dead in the Middle East because their influence in Washington continues to grow while their wisdom continues to be practically non existent.

Shai responds:

But he does fear that AIPAC can influence some of these terrible policies, and at times outright reinforce them.

Are you suggesting I should condone AIPAC’s almost automatic support of Israeli policy, regardless of who is at the helm, or what that policy is?

Shai,

cc: Alex

No. What I’m suggesting is that both you and Alex spend an equal amount of your time addressing those who are actually creating the “millions dead” that Alex brought up.

Alex seems to blame AIPAC (if you bothered to read his comment). And we know it is the Islamic fundamentalists that he supports that are killing most muslims in the Middle East.

Perhaps you and Alex can spend some of your energies criticizing governments like Syria and Iran who are funding these murderers.

If you both can’t bring yourself to do that, then, IMHO, your argument is hollow.

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May 8th, 2008, 10:50 am

 

189. abraham said:

Yes, AP, let’s play blame the victim. Why did the Jews let themselves be Holocausted anyway? What was their problem?

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May 8th, 2008, 3:47 pm

 

190. Shai said:

Abraham,

I’m not “as convinced” of AIPAC officials role, or not, in regards to the Iraq war. I simply am very ignorant about the issue, I must admit. I started reading the links you provided.

Simo,

Unfortunately, I’m sure there were many that celebrated the war on Iraq (and still do). People like that are short-sighted, believe in a world of black-or-white, us-versus-them, good-versus-evil. And, again unfortunately, they’ve obviously caused a widespread identification of the war with the Jewish community. Something that is NOT in our interest. By the way, was that “dude” comment really given to Olmert from Bush? I wouldn’t be surprised…

Sol,

If I seemed an apologist for anyone, or anything, I apologize… 😉 You’ve probably followed some of my comments enough to see that I try to apologize for mainly only one thing on SC, and that is the ongoing suffering my nation is causing upon the Palestinian people. I’m not apologizing for Israel’s preemptive strikes in 1967, for conquering the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan in that war, for holding on to the Sinai until negotiating its return to Egypt in return for peace, and many other things that have happened since the birth of Israel 60 years ago. I don’t know very much about AIPAC and, while in the U.S., was never a member of AIPAC or affiliated with anyone close to them, so I certainly cannot be apologetic for that PAC either. I know about lobbying groups, and I know what their goals are. I don’t expect AIPAC to suddenly become a Syrian regime supporter. But I do expect AIPAC not to support a policy of continued suffocation of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. I don’t expect AIPAC to organize an anti-Israel march on the Mall in Washington, but I do expect it to pressure current administration officials both in Jerusalem AND in Washington, to choose a different path. Doing so would not make it anti-Israel, perhaps the opposite. A group can disagree with a particular policy carried out by a particular leader, or particular party, at a particular point in time. That doesn’t say it is starting to market the negative side-effects of tobacco. Imagine the NRO supported automatically EVERY case in court against gun-use, regardless of the case. It would not be looked upon the same way, nor respected. I much prefer an AIPAC in America (for Israel’s best interests) that is supported by Congress and the Administration out of agreement and respect, rather than out of fear.

AIG/AP,

We know Alex, and you guys know him even better than I do. He’s voiced his opinion of AIPAC numerous times at least in the past few months. He never called for its extinction, nor even for its unsuccessful lobbying in DC. I rather believe he very much respects the accomplishment of the Jewish community in creating such a PAC over the years. But we cannot dismiss his concerns (which should be ours as well) that AIPAC can, and has, supported policies in the ME, which were terrible policies. From his point of view, having such an influential group support the war in Iraq is horrific. From our point of view, linking the Jewish community and the war in Iraq is likewise problematic. AP, I know what he said about the “millions dead”. But surely you do not believe Alex blames those deaths on AIPAC, do you? He blames the U.S. administration which was, amongst others, influenced by particular officials or supporters linked to AIPAC. It wasn’t influenced solely by AIPAC, or mostly by AIPAC, but also by AIPAC. I don’t know the extent, which may be small, or as large as Abraham suggests. But undoubtedly, there was influence. For us, is that a good thing? I believe not. If there are particular benefits Israel gets from the destruction of certain capabilities of Saddam’s, let this discussion occur between Israel’s PM and the American President. Not between AIPAC officials and Neocon advisors. Because these things come out, and when they do, it sure stinks bad.

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May 8th, 2008, 6:01 pm

 

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