News Round Up (18 April 2008)

Former President Jimmy Carter Meets With Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal ABC News

"You have to involve Hamas. They have to be involved in some way," Carter said. Leading Israeli columnist Akiva Eldar told ABC News today that this policy would not work. "It's no use just talking to the good guys like Abbas, if you don't also talk to the bad guys like Hamas. Any deal Israel makes with Abbas can be destroyed by Hamas if they don't agree," Eldar said.

Carter also attacked current Israeli policy of blockading the Gaza Strip, which since June has been ruled by Hamas. "It's an atrocity that is perpetrated as punishment on the people of Gaza. It's a crime. … I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on," he said.

Syria, US at Odds Over Hariri Probe By ADAM ZAGORIN/Time

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

Back to Jordanian option/ Eiland Four reasons why final-status agreement with Palestinians is unfeasible…

An Ominous Rift Grows in the Arab World By: Rami G. Khouri | The Daily Star As oil income to Arab producers continues to rise, we are witnessing sharper polarization between the wealthy, energy-producing states of the Gulf with their small populations on the one hand, and the more populous, energy-importing Arab countries in the Levant, the Nile Valley, and North Africa on the other….

The Age of Nonpolarity
by Richard Haass
Foreign Affairs
The era of American hegemony is over–and Washington will have to change its ways to succeed in the new environment.

The State Department on Tuesday issued a new travel warning on Syria, telling U.S. citizens to "thoroughly consider the risks of travel to Syria" and to "take adequate precautions to ensure their safety."

Syria — which the U.S. has labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism — continues to be home to the offices of several terror groups, the new warning says.

Groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad along with other extremist organizatiosn "have the potential to be either the targets of or perpetrators of acts of violence," the statement reads, pointing to recent incidents that likely would make the usual day-trekker reconsider a leisurely visit.

"On February 12, 2008, an explosion occurred in the residential Kafer Soseh neighborhood of Damascus, killing Imad Moughniyeh, a senior Hizbollah operative.

"In 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was attacked by terrorists armed with guns, grenades, and a car bomb.

"The Syrian Government has allowed anti-U.S. demonstrations to occur; the latest was on March 3, 2008. Anti-U.S. demonstrations date back to September 2005, some of which have turned violent and led to damage to Western embassies, including the U.S. Embassy."

Abbas to Discuss Borders, Refugees, Jerusalem Status With Bush
By Massoud A. Derhally

April 15 (Bloomberg) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will discuss the so-called final status issues in the Middle East peace process when he meets President George W. Bush in Washington on April 24.

Abbas discussed the violence in the Gaza Strip with Jordan's King Abdullah II today in Amman, the Royal Court said in a statement. The two men talked about final status questions, which Abbas will also raise with Bush, according to the statement.

Comments (79)

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51. Shai said:


I’m not sure of my insinuated accusation, but I do believe that when one has not figured out a peaceful solution to a growing problem, it is often the case that an almost subconscious need develops, seeking a violent solution, or at least a tremendous release of tension, which can often transpire through war. I hope I’m wrong…

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April 21st, 2008, 6:27 am


52. Honest Patriot said:


The early US support – starting with the immediate recognition of the new state of Israel – was crucial if not fateful in the success of Israel. I believe this continues to be true. The nature of the support may have taken different forms but it was always the determining factor. At least that’s I gather from the perspective of what I’ve been told, heard, read, and saw. I’ll leave a thorough analysis to the scholars and historians (and I won’t argue with their conclusions).

You’ve often made that argument about democracy being the panacea for the Arabs. I’m not so sure. Not that democracy is a bad thing. But I don’t believe that its lack is the sole cause of the weakness and all the other mistakes of the Arab leaders and countries. Look what happened when democratic elections were held in Palestine: Hamas won. How does that work with your theory?

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April 21st, 2008, 6:34 am


53. Honest Patriot said:

Shai – what you say is a tautology. The instict of survival is inherent in human nature. If you don’t see a clear path to peace you prepare for war.
You don’t have to be “shy” about it 😉

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April 21st, 2008, 6:36 am


54. Shai said:


In my “good cop” kind of way, tautologies are always a good way to start the morning… But I really am talking about things happening subconsciously. Ask me if I believe Olmert and Barak are sincere about wishing for peace – yes, absolutely. They really would like to sign a peace treaty with both the Palestinians and the Syrians tomorrow morning. But since they haven’t figured out that their preconditions are absurd, and will never be accepted, they view Syria’s stance as that of a reluctance to make peace (again, an absurd view, given the past 3-4 years worth of Syrian attempts). So they’re at a cognitive impasse, not wishing to start a war, yet not knowing how to “shake” the table around just enough to make the other side reconsider.

I’d like to think we elect our leaders with the hope they would, on occasion, fight those basic human instincts you mentioned. See how JFK did so, against all odds and in particular his advisors recommendations, in the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.

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April 21st, 2008, 6:53 am


55. Honest Patriot said:

Ya Bondo, I don’t know what it is about you but I believe there is inside you a person that all of us at SC will like. Very much. And I am sincere in this. First thank you for engaging me here and addressing my question.


Please allow me to point out that the experience you say you have with Jewish people is really no experience at all. You have made my point by telling us — and I like you for your honesty and straightforwardness — that you really have never interacted with Jewish people and so have not had the opportunity to form a first hand opinion yourself. Let me tell you from my experience that there is another side to the story of what you infer from the news and from one-sided accounts, particularly from not getting to know the real people. Of course the same goes for the Arabs, Palestinians, etc., i.e., the caricaturish depiction by people in Western media and impressions formed by folks who have never experienced the interaction with the people behind the countries’ facade first hand, this depiction does a disservice to so much of the genuine beauty, simplicity, affection, and love of life of the “Arab people.” Your categorization of all Jews as you do is no better than the categorization of all Palestinians as terrorists by some. Both categorizations are false.

Then I really don’t understand why you’re calling Dennis Prager an antisemite. Can you elaborate? And can you please tell me how you infer all you need to know about me from just one book I’m recommending that you read? You know, a balanced person needs to acquaint him/herself with a wide spectrum of ideas covering all opinions and perspectives. Narrowing one’s view to a monochromatic view of the world, as I think you’re restricting yourself to, is not a recipe for success.

Here’s some info on Dennis Prager that you might want to refer to in trying to explain why you call him antisemite ??

Using your logic I suppose you consider Joseph Telushkin also an antisemite ?

Please understand that I have not said that I support everything Prager and/or Telushkin say. You don’t have to agree with folks 100% to appreciate the validity and thought-provoking effect of some of the ideas they bring forth.

Also, please understand that there is much wider sympathy and sorrow worldwide for the suffering of the Palestinian people than is reflected in actual positions or statements. The choice of violent means to solve this problem has contributed, in my opinion, to the deepening of the crisis and the perpetuation and increase of this suffering. Categorical positions and statements such as the ones you take and express don’t help either.

Bondo, you can be a peacemaker if you want. It’s your choice. Views you read on SC can help. Will you adapt or maintain the rigidity of your views?

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April 21st, 2008, 1:40 pm


56. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Democracy means regimes accountable to the people. Will Hamas stand for election again in Gaza and go peacefully if it loses? No.
Real democracy is the only solution for the Arab world.

Someone in the Arab world has to say “the buck stops here”. Not in Israel. Israel cannot make the Arab world more educated or technologically advanced. It cannot give women rights in the Arab world. It is the Arab responsibility to do that. But what I see is that no one is willing to accept this responsibility and be judged accorded to his results. Instead I see utopian day dreamings instead of a willingness to fight the hard battle for freedom (M14 is the exception to the rule but it is also a very recent convert).

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April 21st, 2008, 2:23 pm


57. Qifa Nabki said:


Seriously, your well-meaning attitude is wasted on Bondo.

Best to smile, wave, and ignore.

*smile* *wave* *ignore*


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April 21st, 2008, 2:45 pm


58. Honest Patriot said:

Tayyib ya QN, I’m going to go shop for a loquat tree to plant in my warm NC backyard. Sure beats engaging Bondo. I don’t know why but for a moment there he sounded like a young chap who might be adaptable with enough prodding by a wiseman. I guess that wiseman ain’t so wise, huh? You see, you are so effective at engaging everyone else that I always think it futile to add anything. Except you ignored Bondo so I saw an opening 😉

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April 21st, 2008, 3:10 pm


59. Honest Patriot said:

AIG, fair enough. Do you see anything that you would be critical of in Israel’s positions and actions?

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April 21st, 2008, 3:12 pm


60. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Of course. I think Olmert stinks and we need Netanyahu.
Israel is just like any other democracy. We muddle along. It is difficult to always be correct in a complex environment. What you need are mechanisms of accountability. When Israelis think their government is doing the wrong things it changes the government. Israeli politicians are ultr-accountable to the Israeli public.

Every election we study well the options, assess what has happened and with our limited capabilities try to predict the future and which party would be best suited to lead Israel. Do we generally agree? No. Do we make mistakes? Sure. But we follow the best process available. What else do you want from Israel? (All I am asking is for a similar process in the Arab world, that will bring peace).

Israel is an open society and if you want to influence Israeli thought you are more than welcome to publish your opinons but I am pretty sure that there is already some publication voicing them. Having given the issues much thought, and understanding that we will bear the consequences of our decision most Israeli do not agree with you. I am sure you can respect that.

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April 21st, 2008, 3:53 pm


61. Qifa Nabki said:

Interestingly enough, the first leadership dispute in the Islamic world was settled via a primitive democratic process of sorts… a consultative election, if you will.

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was, if we are to believe the sources, “elected” to the leadership of the nascent umma by a meeting of the Medinese Ansar.

A similar consultative assembly allegedly took place in the elections of the next couple Rashidun caliphs. Mu`awiyah, however, sets the pattern for dynastic succession (in Damascus, of all places!)

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April 21st, 2008, 4:34 pm


62. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If it helps, I will credit the Arabs with inventing democracy. How about implementing it though? And by democracy I mean real accountability. The people decide if the politicians are doing their job well, and if not they go home peacefully. Let the people deicde if they want “resistance” or economic growth.

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April 21st, 2008, 4:45 pm


63. wizart said:

They have both. Resistance and economic growth while you have little growth and no security. So perhaps you should practice real democracy and give credit where credit is due and the land back.

Golan village divided by fear

By Harry de Quetteville in Ghajar
Last Updated: 11:49pm GMT 17/12/2005

For five years, the village of Ghajar has straddled the border between two nations officially at war, marooned between the fortified lines of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the armed Islamic group, Hizbollah, in Lebanon.

Shielded from the guns of neither side, it is a geographical anomaly that has become a uniquely demilitarised Middle Eastern frontline, with no walls or fences, frontier posts or machine-gun nests.

Middle East factfile

But now Ghajar has turned from no man’s land to battleground in the most marked escalation of hostilities between the two sides since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

Last week, Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s defence minister, said the border was “hotting up” as regional turmoil struck Lebanon and Syria -and Ghajar is feeling the heat. Last month, Hizbollah gunmen wielding automatic weapons sped through its streets on motorcycles under the covering barrage of hundreds of mortar rounds. The gunmen were looking for hostages, not from the 2,000 residents – Israeli citizens who were originally Syrian Alawite Muslims – but Israeli soldiers.

In the wake of the battle, Hizbollah’s head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, pronounced it a “duty” for the men under his command to abduct Israeli soldiers so that, dead or alive, they could be ransomed for the freedom of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The tactic has proved successful in the past. Last year, Hizbollah traded an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers for the release of 400 prisoners.

For them, the town’s alleys and houses provide the perfect cover to strike Israeli units. That is because the border, defined in 2000 by the United Nations, splits the village in two.

The lack of defences means that Hizbollah can enter the Israeli side at will.

“Hizbollah use us for cover; elsewhere on the border they are exposed,” said a town official who asked to be identified only as Mr Khatib. With fighters just a few hundred unfortified yards away, uneasy silence is the norm in Ghajar.

Israelis outside the town are nervous too and even ambulances will not venture inside. The reasons for their fear are obvious.

In the road outside the home of Hussein Salman, Ghajar’s mathematics teacher, deep chunks have been dug out of the tarmac by shrapnel; bullet holes riddle the walls.

When Hizbollah came riding into town, Mr Salman grabbed his family and ran for a bunker he had built for just such an occasion. “We stayed inside for two days,” he said.

Inside the town hall, which flies a Star of David flag, although it is officially on the Lebanese side of the high street, Mr Khatib knows who should be held responsible for the town’s identity crisis and the violence it brings.

“We blame the United Nations,” he said. “Putting the border down the centre of the village?

“Here people say that only a drunk man could have drawn that line.”

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April 21st, 2008, 4:51 pm


64. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We all can read the UN economic development reports. Why are you lying? And as for resistance, apart from talking, what battles have the Syrians fought since 73? Lions in Lebanon, mice in the Golan. In September Israel bombed you and you did nothing. Indeed, resistance. The Syrians are cowards, they themselves do not resist, they find fools to do it for them.

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April 21st, 2008, 5:07 pm


65. wizart said:


You’re very good at winning small battles and losing the larger war. What’s the cost for your conflicted identity over the next generations and the massive lies you keep inflicting on your own kids by distorting facts on the ground and fooling yourselves and others into believing what’s not true. Your out of control ego and persistent inability to face reality head on will really destroy you from within.

You can’t have peace if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You’re proud of all your universities and yet your national character is built on a myth and your democracy is built on fraud.

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April 21st, 2008, 5:21 pm


66. Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said:

QN, If it helps, I will credit the Arabs with inventing democracy. How about implementing it though?

Been there, done that. AIG, to the Arabs, democracy is sooooooo 7th century, dude. Autocracy is where it’s at, my brother. Why give up all of our glories for some hanging chads?

Democracy shmemocracy…

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April 21st, 2008, 5:26 pm


67. why-discuss said:


Israelis try to convince themselves they live in a democracy. Thist is the only reason they give to justify the horrors they are commmiting. Yes, Israelis are voting for their leaders, like the american voted for that Bush man. Money, media, lobbies are so powerful that you wonder how free are the isrealis to choose their leaders and their path. Moreover the israelis politician like Bushand his neo-con friends, play on the visceral fear the Israelis have toward the Islam and the arabs to bring them to vote for them
and to accept unlawful acts.
Sorry, AIG, a democracy build on fear is mo more less than a dictatorship (remember Hilter’s democracy based on the threat of the non-aryen). The difference in the case of Israel is that the “dictator” is not a person, it is a psychological entity living inside the psyche of the every Israeli.

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April 21st, 2008, 5:30 pm


68. wizart said:


Kifanekracy is probably a democratic faction in Kadema for people who won’t shut up on their own without special assistance. lol

We need to have hebrew tutorial one day after we get the Golan back!

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April 21st, 2008, 5:38 pm


69. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart and Why,
You don’t have any understanding of Israel and Israelis and you build fantasies in the air and weird psychological theories.

In almost every university in Israel there is a faculty for Muslim and Arab studies. There is not ONE university in the Arab world with a faculty for studying Israel or Judaism. You have been losing 60 years and will continue losing forever because you do not care to learn. You only care to invent excuses and stories based on nothing.

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April 21st, 2008, 5:43 pm


70. wizart said:


Your faculty of education are busy performing their duties in and around Gazy so we get to have free lessons about the Jewish nation just by turning the T.V on everyday. You still don’t know winning from losing and yet you’re quick to continue perpetuating your myth.

Really you could do yourself a favor treating yourself to a mental health clinic perhaps you can find free courtesy of US aid programs.

Perhaps you’re still suffering from a war related post traumatic stress disorder and your being here is just your way to heal.

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April 21st, 2008, 5:55 pm


71. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As ususal, instead of agreeing that you need to improve the universities in the Arab world, you deny that research is needed and assert that you can learn from tv. Typical. That exactly explains why Israel has achieved so much in 60 years and the Arabs countries so little. Are you working for the Israeli government? I am starting to think you are.

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April 21st, 2008, 6:05 pm


72. idaf said:

QN said:
“A similar consultative assembly allegedly took place in the elections of the next couple Rashidun caliphs. Mu`awiyah, however, sets the pattern for dynastic succession (in Damascus, of all places!)”

Oh but ya QN, Mu`awiyah immigrated from Mekkah to Damascus and brought with him the pattern for dynastic succession. He was a “Saudi”. 🙂

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April 21st, 2008, 6:06 pm


73. wizart said:

Syria has a virtual online university. Here’s a free lesson for you.

From the Harvard Business Review:

Method Teaching

Christensen’s discussion leadership seminar for HBS doctoral students, which began in the late 1960s, served as the pedagogical point of entry for all new faculty for many years. Acknowledging that there is “no cookie-cutter formula” for successful discussion teaching, he nevertheless maintained that all HBS teachers need “to be able to pose questions to students, listen carefully to their replies, and respond—all within the context of the fast give-and-take of discussion.”

In the mid-1970s, Harvard President Derek Bok asked Christensen to expand his instruction to include teachers from other parts of the University. In response, Christensen and his colleagues developed two influential course offerings: Developing Discussion Leadership Skills, attended primarily by Harvard doctoral candidates and young instructors; and Teaching by the Case Method, which attracted more senior professors from across the University.

A legendary presence

When asked to explain the transformational power of Christensen’s seminars, his former students often talk not about what he taught but about the example he set. “Chris was a model,” explains Garvin. “He had the ability to take 25 strong-minded people, simultaneously engage them in a collective conversation, but still make contact one-on-one.”

Both as a teacher and as a colleague, Garvin remembers Christensen as “incredibly open,” a trait echoed by Robert Bruner (HBS MBA ’74, DBA ’82), who served as a summer case-writing assistant to Christensen.

“He supervised me in the same way that he taught—he asked questions,” recalls Bruner, now Dean of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “I walked out of each meeting with him sensing that I had been told to figure things out for myself—but with a gentle, encouraging expression of how to do so.”

For Willis Emmons, Christensen’s teaching seminar offered lessons in “questioning, listening, responding, eye contact, and body language.” “He was totally engaged and committed,” notes Emmons, a senior lecturer at HBS in addition to directing the Christensen Center. “He made every student feel he or she was the most important person in the room.”

In honor of the School’s 75th anniversary in 1984, a case-method colloquium organized by Christensen and colleagues Jim Heskett and David Garvin drew 85 participants from 60 universities around the world. That same year, Christensen was named to the Robert Walmsley University Professorship, one of a handful of special professorships at Harvard that acknowledge achievements beyond conventional limits of departments and specialties. Awarding the chair, President Bok said that Christensen’s efforts had “helped instructors throughout the University to understand how the craft of teaching can be analyzed, understood, and improved. By so doing,” Bok noted, “he has exemplified Harvard’s commitment to the quality of teaching.” HBS Dean John McArthur observed, “Chris has been at the forefront in the search for better ways for faculty to develop insight and judgment in their students and, not incidentally, in themselves.”

Brushing aside the praise, Christensen insisted that he was simply “a student of teaching,” adding, “We really know so very little about the teaching-learning process.”

Not quite retired

Although Christensen retired in 1990, as an emeritus professor he continued to write, teach, and serve as case-method éminence grise for a number of years. His influential book Education for Judgment, edited with David Garvin and Ann Sweet, was published in 1992.

Until the closing months of his life in 1999, he kept an office in Cumnock Hall, and more than one current HBS faculty member still recalls that if the blinds were raised in Christensen’s office window, it was a signal that he was in that day—and ready to talk about teaching.

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April 21st, 2008, 6:32 pm


74. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Can you enlighten us, what interesting innovation has come out of Syrian universities in the last few years? Why are Syrian researchers so unproductive? Is it because of Israel or is it because they base their research just on what they see on TV? Do they watch mainly Fox?

What is your plan to improve Syrian universities? Who do you hold responsible for improving the universities? No one as ususal. If you don’t want to help yourself, why do you expect others to help you?

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April 21st, 2008, 6:48 pm


75. Shai said:

Why-Discuss, AIG,

What difference does it make whether Israel is a democracy, or a dictatorship for that matter (and the same for Syria)? If we wait until Syria becomes a democracy, all the rest of the remaining high-tech workers, startups, investors, owners and management, will find their way quickly into Southern California, or various European cities that are recognizing Israeli talent and are beginning to offer very competitive financial incentives. And if we wait for Israel to become a “true” democracy (as defined by some here on SC), continued regional violence and wars will certainly keep away talented Arab expats living in the West, who might otherwise consider coming back to help build the future for their nations. Let us not get bogged down in definitions, in analyzing each other’s political systems, or even in reciting our various histories. Now is the time to seek a peaceful end to our regional conflicts. Now is the time to seek common ground, not our differences.

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April 21st, 2008, 7:02 pm


76. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seek as much as you like. I disagree completely with your outlook about companies and engineers leaving. There is the ususal exchange of people that strengthens relations between Israel and American and European high tech and is only making Israel stronger.

Of course it makes a difference what kind of regime Syria is. We need to make peace with the people, not the regime that does not represent the people. But we discussed this before.

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April 21st, 2008, 7:14 pm


77. Shai said:


I do agree that it would be ideal if we could be sure that we’re making peace with a majority of the people, who projected their support in a national referendum, or democratic elections. But if we can’t have that, should we wait? As for the outlook on High Tech workers, I actually borrowed it from some expert in the field who wrote up an article about it last week on ynet (I’ll look for it, and try to link it here). It is a real fear I have, however, that many talented Israelis, who’ll find no hope in the region and won’t want to risk their education (endless university strikes, or being away on reserve duty during studies, etc.) or their financial future, will simply pack up their bags, and go. So many already have, and not only on short-term (3-4 years) relocation on joint projects. Out of the 7-8 high-tech parents in my daughters’ ganim, 5-6 of them are talking about leaving for the U.S. When I ask “for how long”, they respond “who knows…” You know the mood here, I don’t need to tell you. We both need to find ways to keep most talent at home, not abroad.

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April 21st, 2008, 7:33 pm


78. why-discuss said:


Without security, democracy and money won’t prevent people to prefer moving to some other place. ( this is for AIG’s obsession with democracy)
I am not surprised about the flight of talents. The same way lebanese young talents have left the country to places like Dubai and KSA after being tired of insecurity and war threats, I can understand Israelis would want to do that. I guess that for fear of creating snowballing the israeli media try to minimize this phenomenon. While the lebanese all want to come back to their ancestors country if security is re-established or in their retirement, would Israelis going to the USA ever think about going back to Israel?
If they don’t this is a threat to Israel’s survival, isn’t it?

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April 22nd, 2008, 12:29 am


79. Shai said:


I believe that if there’s peace in our region, most talented expats will give very serious consideration to coming back. I don’t need to tell you how an expat feels while living abroad, making good money, living safely while his/her family, friends, and fellow countrymen are still enduring hardship and suffering in their native country. Undoubtedly, most expats have a deep desire to return to their homes, where they feel they truly belong. So when conditions are such that wars and conflicts and subjugation are replaced by hope and coexistence and optimism, and the real potential for prosperity (economically, socially, etc.), then I believe many will come back. I’ve often told friends that moved to the U.S. that now that they’ve benefitted from acquiring perspective, they have almost a responsibility to come back, and help shape our future. To work hard at securing the financial future of one’s family is indeed understandable, but to have one’s heart in the right place, is no less important. And, at the end of the day, we’re much more Middle Eastern than we are Western (despite our good English, and Mac laptops), and we belong in this region much more than “over there”… Don’t we?

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April 22nd, 2008, 6:49 am


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