Peace Talks and the Economy

Very best to all Syria Comment readers for the New Year. Best, Joshua

Latest census in Syria: Population stands at 22.331 million. The work force is around 4.9 million, of which 1.38 million employed with the government.. [Thanks Idaf]

مكتب الإحصاءالسوري ” الرجال أكثر من النساء في سوريا”   
كشف مكتب الإحصاء السوري أن عدد الذكور في سوريا أكثر من عدد الإناث مشيرا الى أن نسبة الإناث قد انخفضت .  
 
ووفقا للمجموعة الإحصائية التي أصدرها المكتب لعام 2007 فان عدد سكان البلاد بلغ 331، 22 مليون نسمة،  11،220 منهم ذكور فيما بلغ عدد الإناث 11،111

وذكرت صحيفة الثورة أن نسبة الإناث في سوريا انخفضت بنسبة 1%  قياسا بالذكور حيث أصبح كل 100 أنثى لكل 101 ذكر.

وقالت الإحصائية ان أكثر من 600 ألف حالة ولادة عام2007، بينها نحو 147 ألف حالة في محافظة حلب (شمال البلاد)

بينما بلغت معدلات الزواج تسجيل137 ألف حالة زواج بمعدل 11 حالة لكل ألف من السكان ، وبلغت قوة العمل السورية 4،945 ملايين عامل منهم 1،379 مليون عامل في القطاع الحكومي  .

Olmert to Turkish PM: We must advance toward direct Israel-Syria talks

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Turkish counterpart Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday, telling him that “Whatever we don’t do today in the Middle East, we may not be able to achieve tomorrow. We must advance toward direct peace talks between Israel and Syria as soon as possible.”…

Tzipi Livni on Tuesday said that if Israel signs a peace deal with Syria, Damascus must take concrete steps to ensure the accord is worth more than the paper it is written on. ….

 Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu, … flanked by two Likud leaders who are closely identified with security issues, former Israel Defense Force chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon and Maj. Gen. (res.) Yossi Peled, added, “We have come here to openly say that a government I will head will remain on the Golan Heights and will protect it as a strategic asset.

“One doesn’t have to be a military expert to understand from here why the 1967 border is not a defensive line from this direction,” Ya’alon said.

Peled, who was the head of the Northern Command during his army career, said, “they are trying to sell us in Turkey. The Golan is the oxygen of the Jewish state, and to discuss it is potential suicide for the state of Israel.”

Asad: Syria would eventually embark on direct peace talks with Israel, but they must be based on U.N. Security Council resolutions, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday.

“It is essential to apply resolutions by the U.N. Security Council” on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Assad said on Monday.

In exchange for peace Syria is demanding the return of the entire Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed in 1981 in a move unrecognized by the international community.

But Israel has baulked at this, since it would mean returning land right down to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, its main source of fresh water.

Assad also stressed the role of Europe in the peace process, saying: “Israel-Europe relations must be linked to Israels acceptance of U.N. resolutions.”

Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 call on Israel to withdraw from Arab territory it captured in the 1967 war.

Ehud Barak, Defense Minister and Labor leader, says:

“I am continuing the policy set by [David] Ben Gurion, which states that Israel has no interest in wars. If the quiet continues, there will be quiet. If the calm breaks, we will operate.”  He added that he was currently working together with Israel Defense Forces Chief Gabi Ashkenazi and Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin to advance talks with Syria.  “I am taking action to advance peace in the real world, not in an imaginary one,” Barak said. “I am active more than anyone else in trying to reach peace with Syria. The director of Military Intelligence, the chief of staff and I, in contrast to others, are pushing for a settlement with the Syrians. We are the ones who are saying that we must not wait, that we must move ahead, take risks.”  Barak also said that the recent remarks by feted author Amos Oz that the Labor Party has ended its historical role in Israeli politics were unfair and incorrect. “What he said hurt me. I think there was something unfair in what he said.” 

A New Partner In Syria?
David Ignatius, 24 December 2008, The Washington Post

President Bashar al-Assad says he doesn’t want to send a message to Barack Obama, exactly, but to express a three-part hope for the incoming administration’s Middle East policy:

First, he hopes Obama won’t start “another war anywhere in the world, especially not in the Middle East.” And he trusts that the doctrine of “preemptive war” will end when George W. Bush leaves office.

Second, Assad said, “We would like to see this new administration sincerely involved in the peace process.” He hopes that Obama will back Syria’s indirect negotiations with Israel, and he urges the new administration to pursue “the Lebanese track and the Palestinian track, as well.”

Asked whether he would mind if the Syrian track went first (a sequence that has worried some Syrians who prefer the ideological purity of following the Palestinians), Assad answered: “Of course not. Each track will help the other.”

Third, he says he wants Syria and the United States to work together to stabilize Iraq as American troops begin to leave. “We can’t turn the clock back,” Assad said. “The war happened. Now we have to talk about the future. We have to forge a process, a political vision and a timetable for withdrawal.”

In all three “hopes,” Assad seemed to be looking for a new start with Obama after years of chilly relations with Bush. Assad said he knew little about Obama or his policies but has heard that he is more in contact with ordinary people than Bush has been, which, Assad contended, would give Obama a better understanding of America.

Assad spoke in English during the 30-minute interview Monday. He was accompanied only by his political and media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban. This time, in contrast to my interview with him in 2003 , when Assad was often stiff and doctrinaire, he was loose and informal, breaking several times into laughter.

Assad’s easy demeanor suggested that he’s more firmly in charge now. The Bush administration’s attempt to isolate Syria has failed, even in the judgment of senior White House officials. That leaves Assad in the catbird seat, courted by European and Arab nations and conducting back-channel talks through Turkey with his erstwhile enemy Israel.

Asked, for example, about reports that Saudi Arabia is seeking to improve its relations with Damascus because it sees U.S. engagement with Syria ahead and fears that “the train may be leaving the station,” Assad laughed.

“Maybe it has already left the station,” he said. But he vows that he is ready to receive any emissaries. “I have no problem with the Saudis. We would like good relations with every country in this region.”

Assad said that he is ready to move to direct talks with Israel as soon as he receives clarification on two points: One, he wants assurance that the Israelis will withdraw fully from the Golan Heights. To clarify that issue, he sent a “borders document” to the Israelis this month that highlights some points along the pre-1967 border. As of Monday, he said, he hadn’t received an Israeli response. His second condition for direct talks is that the United States join as a sponsor.

On the crucial question of Syria’s future relations with Iran, Assad was noncommittal. He said the relationship with Iran wasn’t about the “kind of statehood” Syria has or its cultural affinities but about protecting Syrian interests against hostile neighbors. “It’s about who plays a role in this region, who supports my rights,” he said. “It’s not that complicated.”

Asked whether Syria was prepared to restrain Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Lebanon, Assad said this was a matter the Israelis should sort out in separate negotiations with the Lebanese. Indeed, he promoted the idea of the other negotiating tracks — which would draw in, at least indirectly, Hezbollah and Hamas.

“The longer the border, the bigger the peace,” Assad said. “Hezbollah is on the Lebanese border, not Syrian. Hamas is on the Palestinian border. . . . They should look at those other tracks. They should be comprehensive. If you want peace, you need three peace treaties, on three tracks.”

A relaxed Assad clearly believes that Syria is emerging from its pariah status. An international tribunal is still scheduled to meet in The Hague to weigh Syria’s alleged role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. But in the meantime, Assad is receiving a stream of visiting diplomats. He looks like a ready partner for Obama’s diplomacy, but a cautious one — waiting to see what’s on offer before he shows more of his hand.

Patrick Lang :

“The “borders” issue in the Golan Heights has become a non-issue.  This is not the ’60s.  Israel’s survival does not depend on the possession of a few hundred square kilometers of stony, scruffy land.  Technology and capabilities have moved on.  The military realities that the Likudniks like to talk about render such consideration “oldspeak,” mere excuses for not giving up a square centimeter of the others side(s) land,”

“Bashar Assad’s Syria has sought accommodation with the US for the last several years.   This was firmly rejected by the Bush people because it was and is neocon/Likud doctrine that Syria must be subdued and eviscerated, not accommodated.  Assad wants to be let out of the “doghouse.”  He wants there to be a new beginning for the Middle East, one that a modern man like him can accept.  This is our chance and the biggest opportunity the Israelis have ever had.  Can the Israelis and their American “friends” rise to the occasion.  I doubt it.  They are so paralyzed by fear that their options are self limiting.  We should hope for the best.”

The Threat on Syria’s Doorstep, Middle East Monitor, By Stephen Starr (See the entire issue of Middle East Monitor – esp. Questions Remain about the US Raid in Syria)

Syrian President Bashar Assad is pointing responsibility for recent terror attacks in Syria at Saudi Arabia and its Lebanese allies – and not without justification.

Israeli Author Oz Says Barak Too Easy on Settlers: Haaretz, 2008-12-23
Budget Deficit at 9 percent of GDP in 2009: Syria’s budget will post a deficit of USD 4.8 billion next year or 9 percent of its GDP. [More at Syria Report]

Oil and Gas: Oil Subsidies Bill at USD 6.9 billion at End September 2008: Mahrukat posted a record deficit of USD 6.9 billion in the first nine months of the year according to figures from the company. [More at Syria Report]

Damascus Bourse Signs With Market Evolution, Al Thawra Says
2008-12-23, By Nadim Issa Dec. 23 (Bloomberg)

 — The Damascus Securities Exchange signed a contract with Bahamas-based Market Evolution Software products Limited to install electronic systems necessary to operate the bourse in the first quarter of 2009, Al Thawra reported, without saying where it got the information.

The company, which installed equipments for the Macedonia Stock Exchange and the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, will provide the trading, settlement, monitoring and display systems for the Syrian bourse, the Syrian newspaper reported.

It is finally end of life for Syrian Airlines’ Jubmo and Caravelle planes: [Thanks Alex]

نتهاء خدمة خمس طائرات على الخطوط السورية دون اتخاذ أي إجراء

نوبلزنيوز: خرجت خمس طائرات من الخدمة على الخطوط السورية للطيران, بسبب انتهاء صلاحيتها للسفر على الخطوط الطويلة, وهي من أنواع الجامبو والبيونغ والثويو/1540/ والثويو/132/ وطائرة كرفيل قديمة جدا.

وتؤكد المعلومات الفنية ان مؤسسة الطيران لم تحرك ساكنا بخصوص هذه الطائرات, التي بقيت جاثمة في أرض المطار, رغم إمكان صلاحيتها للعمل على الخطوط الداخلية المتوسطة أو حتى لأشياء اخرى, كأن ينسق بعضها ويرسل الى معمل حديد حماه, وذلك عن طريق تحديد لجنة فنية متخصصة من مؤسسة الطيران العربية السورية, وحسب ما ورد في صحيفة الثورة في عددها الصادر اليوم, فإن المؤسسة الطيران حتى الآن لم تقم بتشكيل أي لجنة

Oil Price Decline Threatens Syrian Refining Plan, Alao Says
By Maher Chmaytelli
Bloomberg, 17 December 2008

Syria may not be able to increase oil production and refining capacity as planned as the decline
in petroleum prices threatens investments, Syrian Petroleum Minister Sufian al-Alao said.

“We are concerned,” Alao said today in an interview in Oran, Algeria, at a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in which Syria holds an observer status. “The private companies are reviewing their projects in light of the price decline.”

Syria has in the past two years announced plans to build three refineries that will add 350,000 barrels a day to current capacity of 220,000 barrels a day. The nation has also invited bids for licenses to drill offshore as it seeks to stem a decline in crude oil production.

Kuwait’s Noor Financial Investment KSCC is re-assessing its plan to build a 140,000 barrel-a-day refinery, Alao said. The other two refinery projects “look secure, as they are being done with state companies,” he said, referring to a 140,000 barrel-a-day plant planned with Petroleos de Venezuela S.A, the Iranian Oil Co. and Malaysia’s Al-Bukhari Group, and a 70,000-barrel-a-day facility planned with China National PetroleumCorp.

The refineries will allow Syria to import and process Iraqi crude, offsetting its own declining supply, when they come on stream in 2012. Iraq’s oil exports through Syria, which had contravened United Nations sanctions, stopped in 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Syria imports about 60,000 to 70,000 barrels a day of gasoil, a fuel used for heating and transportation that accounts for half its consumption of refined products. The country’s electricity consumption is increasing an annual 7 percent as its population and economy grow.

Syria’s crude production has fallen to about 380,000 barrels a day, from a peak of 600,000 barrels a day in 1996, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

Syria not to join OPEC: oil minister
Xinhua, 17 December 2008

Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Sufian Allaw Wednesday said that his country will not join the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC) due to its small oil output and declining exports.

“Syria will not join OPEC due to its small output and declining oil exports,” the minister told Xinhua on the sidelines of the 151st extraordinary ministerial meeting in the northwestern Algerian city of Oran.

He declined to give the “fair prices” what his country expects in the international markets, saying “each country has its own favorable prices.”

Syria has a daily output of some 400,000 barrels and exports half of the output.

Earlier in the day, Russia, the biggest non-OPEC oil exporter, also ruled out the possibility of joining the oil cartel, according to Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky.

The OPEC comprises Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, but Indonesia has suspended membership and officially leaves the cartel at the end of 2008.

Ancient cemetery found in Syria
UPI, 18 December 2008

Archaeologists have dug up a large ancient cemetery in the middle of the Syrian desert, providing a glimpse into life and death in the 19th century B.C. The necropolis discovered near the Syrian oasis of Palmyra about 125 miles northeast of Damascus, has at least 30 large burial mounds, ANSA reported Wednesday….

”Future excavations of the burial mounds will undoubtedly reveal information of crucial importance.”

The team of Italian and German experts, which concluded its 10th annual excavation in central Syria in late November, found the elaborate cemetery along a stretch of an old Roman road marked with stones bearing Latin inscriptions with the name of the Emperor Aurelius, who put down a rebellion led by the Palmyran queen Zenobia in 272 A.D. The discovery includes a Roman staging post that was perfectly preserved by a heavy layer of sand.

Comments (85)


Alex said:

22.5 millions .. plus 1.5 million Iraqi refugees … 24 millions to feed, teach, and keep warm and secure.

December 25th, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Is there further clarification on the different groups,and the cities?like the population of Damascus,and Halab.

December 25th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

norman said:

This is something to think about, It will probably frustrate the Egyptians and the Saudis,

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

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Last update – 02:59 26/12/2008
ANALYSIS / How did Assad manage to gain international respect?
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

After eight and a half years at Syria’s helm, President Bashar Assad is gaining the respect and admiration that had been reserved for his father Hafez. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been courting him enthusiastically with the help of a Turkish matchmaker, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. European leaders are standing in line to meet with him. Close associates of U.S. president-elect Barack Obama see Syria as the basis for a new balance of power in the region.

Columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post interviewed Assad this week in Damascus. Five years ago, Ignatius met a rigid and doctrinaire Assad. Now he found him relaxed, informal and even laughing sometimes. In Israel, too, people are speaking differently about Assad, who is perceived as a responsible and serious neighbor you can do business with.

Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Military Intelligence (MI) head Amos Yadlin all believe that Syria can free Israel from its strategic problems since the Second Lebanon War in 2006. They dream of a new Middle East in which Syria disengages from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and links up with Israel and the United States in return for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and “special status” (renewed control) in Lebanon. Compared with the fragmented Palestinians, who cannot be relied on, Syria resembles an island of stability and order. Even Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposes a withdrawal from the Golan, is not attacking Assad personally.

The Israeli attitude toward Bashar Assad has gone through three incarnations. During his apprenticeship, when his father was preparing him to be his heir, people here were impressed by Bashar’s “Western” background: He was an eye doctor living in London who surfed the Internet. In retrospect, it seems there was an element of Israeli provincialism here: Ehud Barak isn’t really comfortable with a computer, Shimon Peres doesn’t have one, Netanyahu prefers to read printouts, and former prime minister Ariel Sharon only learned to use the Web toward the end of his term, with the help of his family. Olmert, however, is addicted to Ynet and online sports reports. Perhaps this is why he was the first to try to connect seriously with Assad.

Sharon was the only Israeli leader since Menachem Begin to refuse to conduct negotiations with Syria. He and his associates described Assad as an overgrown child, a Hassan Nasrallah groupie cut off from reality. A senior intelligence official spread a story he claimed to have heard from colleagues in Egypt: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wanted to speak to Assad once, but was told he was busy with his PlayStation and couldn’t be interrupted.

The Israeli air force flew a scare sortie over Assad’s palace, and they snickered here that his aides didn’t even tell him about it.

Yossi Baidatz, who was IDF Northern Command’s intelligence officer and now heads the research division at MI, noticed that Assad was quietly working to improve the balance of power vis-a-vis Israel. After Sharon bombed a Syrian radar station in Lebanon in 2001, Assad decided to change his father’s policy and directly provide Hezbollah with Syrian weapons. Until then Syria had served as a way station for Iranian weapons and Nasrallah was kept a safe distance from Damascus. Then the army’s storehouses and arms-production lines were opened and Nasrallah became a regular visitor to Assad’s palace.

Israel paid the price: Most of the Israelis killed in the Second Lebanon War, both civilians and soldiers, were hit by weapons Syria had sent to Hezbollah, not by Iranian weapons. Then it emerged that Assad had taken a far more daring decision and had secretly bought a nuclear reactor from North Korea.

Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush acted to isolate Assad, and were successful for some time. Negotiations over the return of the Golan, which had stopped when Barak was prime minister, were not renewed. The air force bombed an Islamic Jihad base in Syria after the suicide attack on Haifa’s Maxim Restaurant in 2003. On the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Syrians feared they were next and sent a peace proposal to Israel. Then-foreign minister Silvan Shalom suggested examining it seriously, but Sharon dismissed it.

In early 2005, when Sharon was becoming the darling of the international community because of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Syrian army was expelled from Lebanon. The United States and France blamed Assad for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri; Assad later became the main suspect in the international investigation into Hariri’s killing.

Assad absorbed the humiliation and focused on strengthening his regime by making Hezbollah Syria’s strategic arm against Israel, and building the nuclear reactor. Had he succeeded, he would have achieved the “strategic balance” his father had dreamed of. The war in the summer of 2006 justified the doctrine of “resistance”: Hezbollah came out a winner and Israel was defeated. The Hamas takeover of Gaza showed that Iran and Syria were on the rise, and Israel in retreat.

According to Olmert, he began the peace probes with Syria in February 2007 during a visit to Erdogan in Turkey. If this is so, the Hezbollah victory had shaken Israel’s nonchalance and prompted him to put the Golan up for sale, for fear of a further strengthening of the “axis of evil.”

But the plot thickened with the discovery of the Syrian nuclear reactor. Olmert cut off contact and prepared to attack the reactor, recruiting international support. He was worried about how Assad would react. Would he launch a missile attack on Tel Aviv and deploy in the Golan, or show restraint and continue the quiet in the north? Olmert ordered a psychological profile of Assad from MI, which analyzed his complex relationship with his father and elder brother – the heir-apparent before his death in a car accident in 1994.

Olmert’s gamble paid off. The reactor was destroyed, Syria remained outside the nuclear club and the world supported Israel. The cold war in the north continued with assassinations of high-ranking Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus and Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman, an Assad adviser who had been in charge of the nuclear project. Syrian sovereignty was once again harmed and Bashar decided to sit by quietly.

Olmert began to think of Assad as a responsible leader, and moved to renew the peace talks mediated by the Turks. He was prepared to revive negotiations with Syria despite America’s reservations. The isolation was broken. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited Assad and his wife to Paris, Sarkozy visited Damascus, and European statesmen followed in his wake.

Olmert depicts revival of the Syrian track as a courageous diplomatic move. It can also be seen differently: In a combination of bullying moves, cautious diplomacy and military restraint, the cunning Assad has driven a wedge between Israel and the U.S., and is being welcomed in Europe without making even one small gesture toward Israel or the U.S. The arms are continuing to flow to Hezbollah, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad command centers in Damascus are thriving. Assad has successfully leveraged his father’s alliance: He is enjoying Iranian economic and military support, but hints that he would give it up for a better deal with Obama.

Bush views Syria as a criminal dictatorship, an incorrigible supporter of terror that’s trying to destroy “the emerging democracy in Lebanon” (which from Israel looks like a bad joke) and is helping bad guys kill Americans in Iraq. At his final meeting with Olmert, last month, Bush asked him: “Why do you want to give Assad the Golan for free?”

In a speech last week, Olmert justified the “down payment” to the Syrians. The prime minister spoke enthusiastically about the chances for peace with Syria, which he said “is not eager to be counted as part of the axis of evil and has a strong desire to emerge from its international and economic isolation and join the West.” From Israel’s perspective, “removing Syria from the axis of evil is of paramount strategic interest.”

Just before he leaves office, Olmert remembered to enlist public opinion in support of an agreement with Assad. It appears his enthusiastic speech is part of a circular deal: Olmert praised the Syrians on Thursday, Assad reciprocated with public support for direct talks on Sunday, and Erdogan hosted Olmert on Monday, in order to discuss a draft on renewing direct talks. Olmert and his diplomatic adviser Shlomo Turgeman sat with Erdogan and his people, who occasionally left the room to phone the Syrians.

Olmert knows he will not sign an agreement with the Syrians before he leaves office and hopes begin direct talks so he can leave behind active negotiations. He wants to renew the talks without having to pay an advance “deposit” of a full withdrawal from the Golan. In his view, his predecessors gave up everything in advance and he will achieve the same thing with a “down payment-minus.”

In the face of the Syrian demand to return the Golan, Israel is demanding that Syria disengage from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Olmert is prepared for a gradated Syrian disengagement, and Israel will pay initially with a less-binding declaration about withdrawal. Assad, meanwhile, is not buying the goods and has not yet agreed to the Israeli proposal. But Olmert has another two months to try.

Olmert is not the first to try to gain something from the Syrians. Yitzhak Rabin wanted a security arrangement with demilitarization on the Syrian side. Peres wanted a comprehensive regional agreement with dozens of Arab and Muslim leaders at the signing ceremony and detailed normalization accords. Netanyahu wanted an early-warning station on Mount Hermon. Barak preferred that the payback come from America in the form of extensive military aid. And Olmert wants disengagement from Iran. None of them achieved anything, nor did they evacuate the Golan. The situation on the ground remains as it was, and Israel isn’t making efforts to develop its communities on the Golan.

In his interview with The Post, Assad said he will not wait for the Palestinians for peace talks and proposed integrating Hezbollah and Hamas into the diplomatic process. But he demands a full withdrawal from the Golan and U.S. sponsorship of direct talks with Israel.

It will be interesting to see how he deals with Olmert’s replacement: Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, each in their own way, oppose the Syrian track and prefer Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Will they change their mind, or will Assad need to apply his methods of persuasion?

Related articles:

Assad: I hope Obama will pursue Middle East peace ‘sincerely’

Diplomats: Assad says he won’t restrain arming of Hezbollah

Olmert: Syria is more ripe than ever for peace deal

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December 26th, 2008, 2:59 am

 

norman said:

This fits the time ,and Syria,

December 25, 2008

Editorial: ‘Good news of great joy’

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

— Luke 2: 1-14

That’s the Christmas story from the New International Version of the Bible; the more familiar translation has the angels singing “and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

That universal message unites people of all faiths every year. Some day, perhaps, we will find a way to live it year-round.

Additional Facts
Issue:
Merry Christmas

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December 26th, 2008, 3:05 am

 

idaf said:

Alex,

I’m not sure if the numbers in the census include the 1.5 million Iraqis and the 0.5 million Palestinians or not (10 percent of the population).

It would be misleading if it does not.

December 26th, 2008, 10:15 am

 

Ghassan said:

Norman,
Your statement: “This is something to think about, It will probably frustrate the Egyptians and the Saudis,” sounds like Egypt And Saudi Arabia are occupying the Golan Heights!
It is Israel!!!

December 26th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

majid said:

Very good observation Ghassan.
But Norman may have a good reason. Saudi Arabia no longer bankrolls Assad’s pockets. Egypt on the other hand has no stomach to fight on behalf of Syria against Egypt’s higher interests. Hence, these are half men.

December 26th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

offended said:

Am I missing something here? all we’ve been hearing about for the last couple of weeks is ‘good news’, ‘good news’, ‘good news’ …. just what are those good news? the continuous siege of gaza? the impending military invasion of Gaza? the shameless Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli collusion to undermine Gaza and enforce the siege? (which is nothing new…. but time doesn’t make it look less sick than it really is)

Let’s hope those with the big guns will possess enough sense to match their military might, because an Israeli invasion of Gaza now will probably blow the chances of peace in the middle east for at least 20 years.

You’ve been warned.

December 26th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

majid said:

I’m really concerned about peace prospects in the Middle East. So is Assad of Syria I believe! And, so is OFFENDED it seems!
You know what they say: the seeds you sow are the fruits you harvest.
Simply speaking. What seeds Assad has sown in the last few years viz-a-viz hamas and other groups? If you know the answer, then you can easily predict what will happen to peace in the next 20 years.
You don’t need to blame it on “shameless Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli collusion” to advance or retard peace prospects in the Middle East, OFFENDED!

December 26th, 2008, 6:59 pm

 

offended said:

Majid, politics aside, don’t you feel empathic with people of Gaza?

December 26th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

Alex said:

7. majid said:

Very good observation Ghassan.
But Norman may have a good reason. Saudi Arabia no longer bankrolls Assad’s pockets. Egypt on the other hand has no stomach to fight on behalf of Syria against Egypt’s higher interests. Hence, these are half men.

Majid,

Egypt stopped fighting a couple of weeks into the October 73 war … since then Syrian Egyptian relations had many ups and downs. So it can not be related to the fact Egypt was not a fighting partner any more.

Saudi Arabia stopped helping Syria financially long time ago … and when they did give, it was symbolic. The much smaller Qatar and Dubai invested in Syria much more, and without asking for any political concessions in return, like the Saudis did.

So … again, it is not that.

Syria wants to lead the Middle East into another direction … It is either our way, or the Saudis’ way.

December 26th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

majid said:

OFFENDED,
The answer is yes.

Alex,
And which way you think it’ll be?

December 26th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

Ghassan said:

Is Syria’s way is to make others (Hamas, Hizballah) fight for her? Is it using the others as cards in its hands? Is it to try to control other countries (Lebanon)? Is it to assassinate anyone who disagrees with it? Is it to put its citizens in jail just because they demand freedom of speech? Is it to have the whole economy control by Assad family and its relatives?
I don’t like that way!!!

December 26th, 2008, 11:00 pm

 

Innocent Criminal said:

Its about high time that the Syrian government start doing something about its birth rate. 22m is just ridiculous considering that just a little over a decade ago it was nearly half that.

A social initiative needs to be pushed to promote smaller families, especially in urban areas. I totally understand why a farmer needs lots of children but a government office employee will have a hard time feeding 6-8 children, even with all the bribes he/she are taking 😉

smaller families is one the most effective ways to improve the economic situation in the country, or at least avoiding it getting worse.

December 27th, 2008, 6:35 am

 

Alex said:

Majid,

God knows … I can only tell you that I HOPE (not “think”) it will be something close to Syria’s way.

Ghassan,

If you decide to see nothing but evil and failures, of course you will not like what you decide to see.

But that is not “Syria’s way”

You think Nasrallah is a naive weak leader that Syria manipulates into “fighting for her”?

And Khaled Mashaal? … you think Syria did not pay, and continue to pay, the price for hosting him and helping Hamas? .. what fighting is Hamas doing for Syria??

December 27th, 2008, 9:32 am

 

offended said:

149 killed as Israel start bombarding Gaza.
They’re claming they’re only targeting Hamas’s compounds, but are they really? are all police stations and civic centers implicated in rocket launching? what about the women and children killed?

——————–
Palestinians say Israeli F-16 bombers have launched a series of air strikes against key targets in the Gaza Strip, killing and injuring dozens of people.

Missiles hit security compounds run by the militant group Hamas in the centre of Gaza City, killing at least 40 people, Hamas officials said.

The strikes, the most intense Israeli attacks on Gaza in recent times, come after the expiry of a truce with Hamas.

Israel has threatened an offensive to stop the firing of rockets from Gaza.

There was no immediate word on the explosions from the Israeli military.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7800985.stm

—————————————
Israeli missiles target Gaza

Israel has launched air strikes on Hamas installations in Gaza City, killing at least 120 people and causing heavy damage, according to officials and witnesses.

At least 30 missiles were fired at targets on Saturday, with the head of emergency services in Gaza saying that at least 200 people were also wounded.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2008/12/200812279451509662.html

December 27th, 2008, 10:56 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I see the Kadima (koff, Likud) is shooting Muslim fish in a barrel over Christian high holy days, the barbarians. Of course, every head of state in the world is calling for a ceasefire, except Bush.

December 27th, 2008, 3:58 pm

 

norman said:

It is obvious that Israel is aiming at destroying Hamas , If Hamas survives , Israel will be seen as defeated , That might convince the Israeli leaders to seek an accommodation with Hamas,until then many Palestinians will die , their blood will tarnish Saudi Arabia and Egypt for a long .

Now we know why Israel is seeking accommodation and talks with Syria ,

Israel only understand force and Syria should prepare for that.

Peace will never be achieved without a defeat of Israel.

The Arabs should get rid of their government in Egypt and the KSA if they want a just peace.

December 27th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

Ghat Albird said:

According to a news report by the BBC, dated December 24, 2008. President George Bush PARDONED A DEAD MAN who provided Golda Meir with B-17 US bombers.

For more details on where america’s sympathy lies and has lied check the BBC link
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7799170.stm

December 27th, 2008, 5:19 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Dear Ammo Norman,

If we are to believe what Bashar is saying, Syria will soon be on the Egyptian side of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

If things do not progress on the Palestinian front, will you call on the Arabs to “get rid of their government” in Syria, each time the Israelis kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza?

December 27th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

offended said:

QN,

I know you didn’t ask me and I don’t speak on Norman’s behalf. But I am going to answer your question anyway: I’ve always been among those on this blog who had argued that peace between Syria and Israel without solving the Palestinian issue once and for all is useless.

December 27th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

I know, and I’m sure you’re probably right.

But that’s not the direction it’s moving.

So…

December 27th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Watch Syria and Egypt over the next week … You will realize that Syria is not moving in Egypt’s footsteps

December 27th, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

I guess you do not read what i write , i am going to repeat,

Offended is right , I have been saying that on this blog for a long time , no peace can be achieved without solving the Palestinian problem and Syria will never abandon them ,
actually for peace to take hold it has to include Lebanon and Iran too.
If Syria’s government abandon the Palestinians , I will be the first to condemn that Goverment , Syria will lose it’s sole if it does that and i do not think that Syria will ever do that , will see at any way.

Israel’s goal is to take Syria out of the conflict and Syria understand that, That is why i do not have high hopes for a settlement between Syria and Israel.

December 27th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

norman said:

Arab world condemns Israeli attack on Gaza amid calls for retaliation
December, 27, 2008 – 02:24 pm Schemm, Paul – (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS) CAIRO, Egypt – The Arab world reacted in shock to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip on Saturday with protests around the region and calls for retaliation against Israel.

In Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit extended his condolences to the Palestinians killed in the attacks and said Egypt, which brokered a six-month long truce between Hamas and Israel that expired a little over a week ago, has been trying to avoid such an escalation.

“Today everybody has to stand by the side of the Palestinian people and stop this blind military action,” the foreign minister said, calling on Israel to immediately halt its attacks.

[continued below]

Egypt also opened its border with the Gaza Strip to receive wounded Palestinians. Foreign ministers from around the region are also rushing to Cairo for a Sunday emergency meeting of the Arab League, said the organization’s chairman Amr Moussa.

Egypt also came under attack by many in the Arab world for its role, along with Israel, in closing the Gaza Strip after the militant group Hamas came to power in June 2007. The closure is often seen as abetting Israel’s siege of the crowded strip of land home to 1.5 million people.

The visit by Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Cairo on Thursday has also given rise to accusations that Cairo is complicit in the attacks. During the visit, Livni said Israel would no longer tolerate a situation in which Hamas targeted Israel.

Aboul Gheit said the idea that Egypt understands or accepts the Israeli operation against Gaza is “wrong.”

He also called on Hamas and Fatah, which dominates West Bank, to accept Egypt’s invitation to attend talks in Cairo designed to reconcile the two warring factions.

A few hundred protesters gathered in Cairo on Saturday calling for an end to the strikes.

In Lebanon, about 4,000 protesters marched through the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern part of the country, condemning the attacks in general, and Egypt in particular.

“Hosni Mubarak, you agent of the Americans, you traitor!” they shouted. They also called on the militant group Hezbollah to attack Israel.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fuad Saniora described the Israeli attacks as a “criminal operation” and “new massacres to be added to its full record of massacres.”

The militant group Hezbollah in a statement Saturday called the attacks “a war crime and a genocide,” and criticized what it described as the “shameful” Arab silence.

In the Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut’s southern suburbs, a few hundred people took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with Gaza’s Palestinians.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on Arabs to take solid action in “responding to the Israeli brutality against Gaza,” and urged the international community to stop Israel’s attacks.

Hundreds of protesters in the Jordanian capital of Amman demonstrated, waving Hamas banners and condemning Israel’s strikes. There were similar demonstrations in other Jordanian towns and Palestinian refugee camps.

Jordan’s King Abdullah called for an immediate halt to “all military actions” in a statement, saying the attacks “targeted innocents among the civilians including women and children.”

In Syria’s al-Yarmouk camp, outside Damascus, hundreds of Palestinians also protested the attack as well, vowing to continue fighting Israel.

“It’s a Zionist Holocaust, but it won’t dissuade us from going on with our struggle to achieve our goals,” said Ali Barakah, 42, one of the protesters.

Representatives of the various Palestinian factions based in Damascus vowed renewed attacks against Israeli towns in a news conference Saturday.

Even one of Israel’s allies in the region expressed dismay over the attacks. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government has helped mediate talks between Israel and Syria, called the attacks a blow to peace.

“Today, I was planning to call Israeli Prime Minister Olmert regarding Israel-Syria talks but I cancelled it. I am not calling because it is also a disrespectful to us. We are a country which has been working for peace.”

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December 27th, 2008, 8:29 pm

 

Shai said:

Dear All,

I was hoping to come back to SC and wish all of you once more a very happy New Year. Except, that it isn’t, and for many hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians, it won’t be. I’m deeply saddened by my government’s decision to use its power to punish innocent civilians, to continue to collectively punish a people that are weak, and cannot hope to control their own fate, when everything around them is controlled by Israel. I can never understand why Israel thinks the 1.5 million Palestinians are lords of their own fate, and are therefore to be held accountable for every Qassam flying Israel’s way. Most here do not understand the reality on the ground in Gaza, and do not understand the Palestinian people.

There is terrible frustration amongst most Israelis, that nearly 8 years worth of almost-daily Qassam missiles sending Israeli men, women, and children into underground shelters and reinforced rooms, could not be stopped by the mighty IDF. All our leaders failed us in that sense, in providing basic security to our citizens in the South. I cannot blame Israel for fighting Hamas – it is Hamas after all that refuses to talk to Israel. But I can, and will continue, to accuse my government and its leadership for punishing so many innocent people. It began with the suffocation and strangulation of Gaza entirely from all directions, by land, air, and sea. And it continues with crazy military operations that kill 10% Hamas, and 90% innocent Palestinians.

Instead of following the path of peace, which Syria and the entire Arab world have been offering over the past 5 years, Israel has chosen the idiotic course Abu Mazen has been offering, and one that has had no chance in any way, shape, or form. Only violence and more violence could come out of adopting this divide-and-conquer policy vis-a-vis Fatah and Hamas. Only Syria was the reasonable path, and it now looks like that will be put on hold indefinitely. Instead, we are pushing the entire Arab world farther away from peace, and into the hands of the extremists. For the foreseeable future, the extremists on all sides will dictate the way. And the terrible clash will cost many lives, on all sides.

Only men of vision and courage, could see the terrible waste we are now bringing upon the people of this region, sending ourselves back in time, back towards the Abyss. We are leaving the solutions to our children, rather than shaping a peaceful future ourselves. For “wise ones” abroad, it will be easy to explain what is going on – Washington and Cairo have already proven that today. But for those who are and will be paying the price, things are a little less “obvious”. It is our children that will pay the price – not theirs.

I am saddened, and ashamed today, that with all our might, and all our talent, and all our accomplishments, we could only resort back to power and punishment. We have proven, yet again, how helpless, impotent leaders often choose the bullet rather than the brain. And how proportionality and reciprocity are concepts unheard of in this part of the world. Today’s kill ratio was 210-to-1. Let’s see what it’ll be tomorrow…

Norman, I’m afraid you may be right after all… But I still pray you’re not.

December 27th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

norman said:

shai,

Well said ,

I hope that I am wrong too , I doubt that.

December 27th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

norman said:

Say good by to Abbas, Egypt and KSA,

Print Back to story

Analysis: Hamas unlikely to be toppled
By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer Karin Laub, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 9 mins ago

JERUSALEM – Gaza’s deeply entrenched Hamas rulers won’t be easily toppled, even by Israel’s unprecedented bombings Saturday that killed more than 200 people, most of them men in Hamas uniform.

For now, Israel’s defense minister says he’s striving for a lesser, temporary objective — to deliver such a punishing blow to Hamas that the Islamic militants will halt rocket attacks on Israel.

But Israel’s offensive, launched just six weeks before a general election in the Jewish state, is fraught with risks. The horrific TV images of dead and wounded Gazans are inflaming Arab public opinion, embarrassing moderate Arab regimes and weakening Hamas’ rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel also risks opening new fronts, including unrest that could destabilize the Abbas-ruled West Bank and possible rocket attacks by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas on northern Israel.

Hezbollah already proved its military prowess in its 2006 war with Israel, firing thousands of rockets. That war erupted while Israel was fighting in Gaza. Meanwhile, stone-throwing protests erupted across the West Bank on Saturday.

Far from being cowed, Hamas leaders sounded defiant Saturday, and Hamas militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel. One Israeli was killed Saturday, and mounting Israeli casualties could turn Israeli public opinion against the offensive.

“Once you set the ball rolling, you cannot determine where it is going to stop,” said Mouin Rabbani, a Jordan-based Mideast analyst.

Israeli leaders say they had no choice but to act.

A truce between Israel and Hamas, which took effect in June, began unraveling in early November, following an Israeli cross-border raid in Gaza. Since then, Gaza militants have fired scores of rockets. Israel held off on a major response, apparently in hopes that a new truce could be negotiated.

The government, a coalition of the centrist Kadima Party and the center-left Labor of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, could not afford to be seen as indecisive at a time when hardline opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was mounting a strong political challenge. Elections are scheduled on Feb. 10.

Saturday’s strikes appeared aimed at hurting Hamas, while minimizing risk to Israeli forces.

Barak said the offensive would continue as long as necessary and could be widened — an apparent reference to sending in ground troops if necessary. However, Barak defined a narrow objective, to halt the rocket fire from Gaza, not to bring down Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group.

Eighteen months after seizing Gaza by force, Hamas is in firm control and commands thousands of armed men. It is unlikely to be brought down by force, short of Israel reoccupying the territory. Israel doesn’t like that option because it doesn’t want to get bogged down in urban warfare.

“Israel is not looking for a knockout against Hamas because the costs are too high,” said Shlomo Brom, a former senior Israeli military official. “The purpose is to eventually return to a cease-fire.”

While far from being defeated, Hamas took a hit Saturday.

Hamas officials said all of the group’s security compounds were struck. The militants may eventually have to agree to a truce, perhaps even on lesser terms than the June cease-fire, just in order to rebuild.

However, the Gaza offensive also hurt Abbas, increasingly sidelined as a leader even before Saturday’s violence. The past year of peace talks with Israel has had no visible results. Meanwhile, Hamas has said it will no longer recognize Abbas as president after his four-year term ends next month.

Abbas could not be seen Saturday as openly siding with Israel. Abbas, who was in Saudi Arabia, was to return to the West Bank on Sunday. But he did little more than call for restraint, and his security forces clamped down on West Bank protests against Israel’s Gaza offensive, for fear they could spin out of control.

“One of the victims (of the Gaza offensive) is President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority,” said Palestinian analyst Ghassan Khatib.

December 27th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

norman said:

OpEdNews

Original Content at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Gaza-Attacked-Why-is-Hama-by-Kevin-Gosztola-081227-240.html

——————————————————————————–
December 27, 2008

Gaza Attacked: Why is Hamas Firing Rockets at Israel?

By Kevin Gosztola

More than 200 have been reported dead in Gaza after Israeli attacks which were in response to ongoing rocket fire from Hamas. Israel’s hammering of so-called Hamas targets have left over 300 injured and Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has said Israeli attacks will go on for “as long as necessary.” (See Raw Story for more.)

The U.S., being the biggest of ally of Israel, bears some responsibility for the worsening situation, which supporters of Arab and Palestinian rights are speaking out against.

Reactions to the attacks from the Arab League, Syria, and Iran consist of these following remarks, which are being reported by BBC News:

AMR MOUSSA, ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY GENERAL

“We are facing a continuing spectacle which has been carefully planned. So we have to expect that there will be many casualties. We face a major humanitarian catastrophe.”

SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT

“Syria is following with great anxiety the barbaric Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza… a horrific crime and terrorist act.

“Syria calls on the Arab nation and the international community to use all possible means to put pressure on Israel to immediately stop the aggression, allow the wounded to enter hospital and open all crossing points [to Gaza].

“Syria as president of the Arab League calls on Arab leaders to hold an emergency summit to assess the dangerous situation in Gaza.”

HASAN QASHQAVI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN

“Iran strongly condemns the Zionist regime’s wide-ranging attacks against the civilians in Gaza.

“The raids against innocent people are unforgiveable and unacceptable.”

Syria and Iran have been on the short list of nations the U.S. is willing to attack–the Axis of Evil—and that may be because Israel considers these countries to pose grave threats to their security.

In an IBA News video posted on the Jerusalem Post website, Dr. Raanan Gissin, ex-spokesman for Ariel Sharon, offered his take on the situation, one that many supportive of Israel, like those in the U.S., will most likely consider accurate:

“This is only the first shot in what will probably be a long, enduring sustained operation on which its main purpose is as I understand it is not so much to break the military force of Hamas as much as to break its will, to continue the fighting, and to establish a different ceasefire, a comprehensive one which will ensure that the citizens of Israel along its southern border can live in peace and security. Israel is exercising in a rightful way it’s right to self-defense. This is something I think we can explain today better than in the previous war in Lebanong. No doubt in my mind this is only the first or one of a serie of confrontations in fighting the frontline forces of Iran whether its in the south, Hamas, or in the north, Hezbollah. We still have several of these confrontations so long as Iran continues with its intent to drive a wedge into the Middle East and extend the influence.” [emphasis added]

Gissin added before his analysis was over, “Israel’s action is much wiser than in 2006 against Lebanon.” And in a comment that one would expect from the lips of George W. Bush, “Terrorist organizations require perseverance, endurance, and patience on the part of the citizens” because in this day and age, “most of the wars we are going to be forced to fight—not choose to fight—forced to fight will be of this kind.”

So, why is Hamas firing rockets at Israelis?

The U.S. considers the democratically elected Hamas organization to be a terrorist organization (as does Israel). Hamas attacks Israel in ways that terrorists attack countries—it employs guerrilla warfare while Israel employs military operations that only rich countries with rich U.S. support can employ.

The White House said in response to the attacks:

“”Hamas’ continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop. Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people.

“The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza.”

Barack Obama, on vacation, could not offer a comment. But, as Justin Raimondo over at Antiwar.com suggests, he probably would side with the Israelis.

Raimondo has links that lead to this letter from then-Senator Obama and it explains why Obama might think Israel has a right to respond to Hamas rocket fire.

Dear Ambassador Khalilzad,

I understand that today the UN Security Council met regarding the situation in Gaza, and that a resolution or statement could be forthcoming from the Council in short order.

I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on this matter that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel…

All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this… Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians.

The Security Council should clearly and unequivocally condemn the rocket attacks… If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator

That was Obama then. Perhaps, we should consider Obama’s reaction to Carter’s trip to the Middle East to meet with Hamas as an indication of what he is really thinking now.

Carter said of his trip in April of this year:

“It’s very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians…There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbours, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process.”

Seems fair, right? Obama responded to Carter’s logic by telling a group of Jewish leaders:

“We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction…We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.”

Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, of course, have issued this statement condemning the attacks and asking people take action.

As of this writing, Israeli Air Force attacks today on the occupied Gaza Strip killed an estimated 200 or more people and injured hundreds more. These Israeli attacks come on top of a brutal siege of the Gaza Strip, which has created a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions for Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinian residents by restricting the provision of food, fuel, medicine, electricity, and other necessities of life.

While the scope of civilian casualties in today’s attacks is not yet clear, it is unmistakable that Israel carried out these attacks with F16 fighter jets and missiles provided by the taxpayers of this country. From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F16’s. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and “bunker buster” missiles.

In short, Israel’s lethal attack today on the Gaza Strip could not have happened without the active military and political support of the United States. Therefore, we need to take action to protest this attack and demand an immediate cease-fire.

As the situation worsens, as the attacks continue, more will be reported by OpEdNews. In the meantime, consider why Hamas is firing rockets. It may look like terrorism, but one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The only way Israel’s actions can be considered self-defense is if we are certain Hamas is not employing violence because it wishes to attain freedom from Israel’s actions, which recently have included a vicious blockade against Palestinians.

Also, it may be worth asking this question: Exactly what Hanukkah tradition involves waging violent conflict?

Authors Bio: Kevin Gosztola goes to Columbia College in Chicago where he is studying film. He hopes to become a documentary filmmaker. He is a production assistant for CitizenKate.tv right now and will be going to the Inauguration to help them with production. He is also currently working as a production assistant on a documentary called “Seriously Green” which traces the development of the Green Party throughout the 2008 election. He has a passion for journalism and writes articles or press releases in his spare time. Kevin Gosztola is also a student activist who often helps members of the Chicago antiwar movement (especially those from the Chicago chapter of World Can’t Wait) organize protests/rallies/forums.
His ambitions have him currently organizing and raising money for a Chicago Conference for Media Reform in April or May of 2009. It will be organized by college students to promote youth involvement in media reform and justice. Those interested in attending or helping with the organization of the program should contact him.

Back

December 27th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

norman said:

It looks like Israel is cooperating with Abbas to control Gaza,

السبت 12/27/2008
آخر تحديث : 11:59 PM توقيت الدوحة

السلطة تحمل حماس مسؤولية المجزرة وتعد بعودة “الشرعية”

حملت السلطة الفلسطينية حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس مسؤولية المجزرة التي ارتكبها الاحتلال الإسرائيلي ظهر السبت في قطاع غزة وأسفرت عن استشهاد نحو 210 فلسطيني وإصابة أكثر من 700 آخرين.

حيث اتهم نمر حماد مستشار رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية محمود عباس قادة حركة حماس بأنهم “شركاء” في الجريمة الإسرائيلية ضد غزة.

ودعا حماد في اتصال هاتفي مع الجزيرة حماس إلى “عدم الاستمرار في استرخاص دم المواطن الفلسطيني عبر إعطاء الذريعة لإسرائيل”، قائلا إنه “يتعين على حماس أن تفهم ما معنى أن تقوم بأعمال طائشة بإطلاق صواريخ يدفع ثمنها المواطن الفلسطيني”.

وفيما يتعلق بموقف رئاسة السلطة قال الرئيس محمود عباس إنه يجري اتصالات مع دول عربية وأجنبية من أجل وقف الغارات.

عودة “الشرعية”
ومن جهته دعا الأمين العام للرئاسية الفلسطينية الطيب عبد الرحيم سكان القطاع إلى الصبر، معتبرا أن ما أسماها “الشرعية” ستعود إلى غزة. وقال في تصريحات لتلفزيون فلسطين “الأجندة الخارجية ستسقط، وستعود الشرعية إلى غزة”.

وأوضح عبد الرحيم “أقول لشعبنا الحبيب في قطاع غزة صبرا آل ياسر، فإن موعدنا إن شاء الله قريب مع إقامة دولتنا المستقلة، وأقول لشعبنا في غزة وهو يعلم تماما الواقع والظروف الصعبة التي يمر بها، إن هذه الظروف ستنتهي وإن هذا العدوان سيتوقف، وإن الشرعية ستعود إلى غزة، وكل الأجندات الخارجية ستسقط”.

لكن القيادي في حركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني (فتح) ورئيس كتلتها البرلمانية في المجلس التشريعي الفلسطيني عزام الأحمد، نفى وجود أي نية لدى الحركة والسلطة الفلسطينية لاستغلال “العدوان الغاشم على القطاع، من أجل استعادة السيطرة عليه”.

وقال الأحمد في تصريحات صحفية “لا يوجد في أجندة فتح لا أمس ولا اليوم ولا غدا، سوى الحوار لإعادة اللحمة، وإنهاء الانقسام الحاصل في الصف الفلسطيني”.

ودافع الأحمد عن السلطة ورئيسها، مشيرا إلى أن محمود عباس قام مؤخرا بعدة جولات شملت واشنطن وموسكو ومصر وعمان للحيلولة دون وقوع هذا “العدوان الوحشي الذي كان غير مفاجئ لا للشعب الفلسطيني ولا العربي ولا حتى للمجتمع الدولي”.

جميع حقوق النشر محفوظة، الجزيرة 2008

December 27th, 2008, 9:46 pm

 

qunfuz said:

I’ve been reading Haaretz this week. It is clear to informed Israelis that Hamas would have continued the ceasefire if the siege which is starving the Gaza ghetto ends. I posted on it at my blog just now.

I agree with Norman – the regimes in KSA and especially Egypt are in effect collaborating with Israel in these monstrous crimes. The sooner these disgusting client regimes fall, the better for all of us.

Did anyone notice the story a few days ago about rockets aimed for Israel found and made safe by the Lebanese army? Whose rockets were these?

December 27th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

I do read what you write. But the reality is that Syria is pursuing its own peace agreement with Israel right now, at the same time that the Palestinian cause lies in tatters. You feel strongly that Syria’s government would sell its soul by abandoning the Palestinians, but I think that governments — unlike people — are not motivated by emotional causes as much as they are by strategic interests. We do not need to look very hard at Middle Eastern history to come up with many examples of the Palestinians being abandoned by Arab governments (Syria’s included).

Alex,

When Syria signs a peace deal, there will be all kinds of people who try to paint it as a more dignified deal than Egypt/Jordan’s. But what does that even mean, in the grand scheme? After so many decades of suffering, I find it hard to look at any regional actors and feel anything but bitterness and shame.

For all the positive attention that Syria is getting these days (see Aluf Benn’s discussion of Syria as an “island of stability and order”), one would be justified in wondering whether it all amounts to the calm before the storm.

After all, the interest in Syria by Israel and the West is contingent on Syria’s delivering the goods. (For once, let me cast Syria — not Lebanon — in the role of the courted maiden). Syria is now playing the part of the beautiful dark-eyed damsel whose prospective marriage to a suitor from a rival family will settle a long-standing feud. The only trouble is, the suitor’s family is demanding that the bride’s family divest from several commercial enterprises with their acrimonious country cousins and go into business with them instead, leaving their relatives in a ruinous state.

Unless the bride can come up with some way of getting her prospective husband to accept all of her relatives as partners — including the ones who have sworn eternal vengeance against him and his family — the wedding will be off. What can she do?

I guess what I’m saying is that at some point, Syrians need to stop worrying about being compared to Egypt and Jordan.

December 27th, 2008, 9:50 pm

 

offended said:

Have you seen Khalid Mash’al on Al Jazeera today? I am not a very big fan of him but he got one thing right, he said: “Israeli officials will swim through rivers of Palestinian bloods to get elected to office”

December 27th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I wish there were enough people like you in the Middle East. Unfortunately, most are too busy admiring their muscles after working out at the gym, or busy looking after their impressive bank accounts.

Qifa Nabki,

Habibi … No one promoted comprehensive peace more than Syria … Hafez Assad only accepted to negotiate over the Syria track in the 90’s because the Clinton Administration seemed to be honest enough in its attempts to settle the Palestinian Israeli conflict.

If Syria is to continue negotiating with Israel … there is an implied expectation that the Obama administration will do what is right on the Palestinian track … and Syria will help deliver Hamas and its supporters if an agreement based on UN resolutions is reached.

We know what Israel and Hamas can live with… We believe there is an agreement to be reached … this is what we are seeking.

December 27th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

All peace talks and flattering by the Israeli leaders of Syria meant only to raise the stakes that Syria will lose when they attack Gaza and in the future Iran, if it sided with Hamas and Iran, Syria should understand that no peace without a blow to Israel confidence that it can solve problems by military means , it was clear to Israel after the 2006 war It seeked talks with Syria only after that war , and it should be clear now , for the sake of Israel as without a defeat the Israeli leaders can not convince it’s citizens of compromise ,

QN,

The Syrian bride will not abandon it’s family as without a family the dogs will tear it’s flesh and divide it.

December 27th, 2008, 10:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

I’m sorry so many innocent people are dying. From they way they’re describing things here, it looks like there’s much more to come. This operation will not last a few days.

But as much as I blame my inept government and its leadership (and God knows I do), I must also hold Hamas responsible for pushing impotent and helpless leaders into a corner by refusing to speak to Israel, and by continuing to lob missiles at civilian populations, almost daily, for the past 8 years. Hamas had, for the first time ever, the perfect opportunity to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state back two years ago, and ever since. Hamas decided to gamble everything, to hold the fate of 1.5 million citizens hostage, by rejecting the 1967 borders (or near 97% of it), and instead continuing to “fight” for Palestine of pre-1948.

I in no way shape or form condone the policy of collective-punishment, nor the military activities that end up taking so many innocent lives. I am appalled by these actions. But I also blame Hamas. It cannot be free of responsibility for what is happening to its people.

December 27th, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

Nour said:

The so-called “Israeli” “peace doves” uncover their true colors whenever their government goes on another killing rampage. As such, they always blame the victims for the crimes of their murderous, criminal state. Hamas in fact had maintained and respected a truce for several months, while “Israel” continued to blockade, starve, and kill innocent Palestinians in Gaza. But these “doves” will never mention these facts because it will expose the criminal nature of their illegal, unnatural entity. When Tzipi Livni previously stated that “Israel” does not want a prolonged truce with Hamas, she clearly uncovered “Israel’s” intent in maintaining a state of continuous fighting so that no one can see that all Palestinians, including Hamas, are actually reasonable and practical people, thereby establishing that the sole reason for the lack of peace in the region is “Israel” and “Israel” only.

Shai,
When Livni states that she wants to transfer “Israeli” Arabs you dismiss it as political immaturity. When a minister of yours proudly claims that “Israel” will commit a “Holocaust” in Gaza you almost laugh it off, and now when “Israel” is deliberately and brutally killing hundreds of Palestinians you blame the Palestinians themselves. Yet you continue to come here and claim that you are interested in peace and justice. Please, sell it to someone else.

December 27th, 2008, 11:13 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

Whenever you call me ‘habibi’, I know that I’m in store for a scolding.

Habibi,

I just finished a GREAT response to you, and then my internet connection died.

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh well, I’ll have to email you later.

December 27th, 2008, 11:48 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

QN,

Your Habibi analogy sounds similar to the one Israeli politicians use when they mention the word “Israel’s security”. One knows that Palestinians are in store for a massacre.

December 27th, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

This is equivalent to holocaust,this proves that Israel is worse than the nazi,Israel must understand that this policy will not work,I expect a justified palastinean response.

December 28th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

qunfuz said:

Shai – during the ‘ceasefire’, arrests of Hamas operatives in the West Bank continued. Much more to the point, Gaza was beseiged. PEOPLE ARE STARVING IN GAZA. Israel could have had another ceasefire, a real one, if it had allowed Gaza to breathe.

Starvation is not a status quo that people can or should put up with quietly. Deliberate starvation of a people is the worst attack of all.

This is not the time for weasel words. The Hamas government is deeply flawed. It has already talked to Israel, however. Jimmy Carter for God’s sake thinks that Hamas would do a deal. And Hamas was elected.

It won’t recognise Israel, give away its only bargaining card, before it has received something in return. This is a logical policy.

If you have read Haaretz over the last days you will know as well as I do that Israel chose to attack when it could have stopped Qassams by refraining from beseiging and entering Gaza. Diskin said that Hamas wants another ceasefire.

Those responsible for this are Israel, Arab regimes, and the Abbas-Dahlan fools. Your wittering about Hamas rockets (I’m sorry habibi, I’m upset) is quite irrelevant in the face of the grotesque seige on Gaza, and the grotesque international silence. A population on the Mediterranean coast is being starved, brutalised, murdered.

And do you think this will solve the rocket problem? Do you think this will help Israeli Jews to live in peace? (I know you don’t. But this evening you should be running the streets of Israel warning of doom, not typing nonsense about Hamas responsibility.)

December 28th, 2008, 12:10 am

 

Rime said:

Alex, one of your regular readers has actually copied and emailed me a part of the comments on this thread which I had not seen, and I feel compelled to join after reading one of your specific comments. Just apologizing in advance for barging in like this on your group, and on your mutual admiration society with the so-called Israeli “peace” camp whose silence today and during the siege of Gaza was deafening.

You, Alex, for God knows what reason, wish there were enough people like Shai in the Middle East. Maybe you should decide to come to the Middle East so that you can see for yourself, finally. Allow me to reassure you Alex: there are plenty of people like Shai, especially in Israel, and more of the same in the US, UK and the world over. People like Shai are spreading very creative propaganda, including the idea that Hamas has been sending rockets on a daily basis into Israel (I can’t imagine why!), that it (and not Israel) refused to establish a Palestinian state, that it (and not Israel) is holding innocent Palestinians hostages, that it (and not Israel) refused to renew the truce, that it (and not Israel) is gambling its peace and security away. And that it (and not Israel) is the terrorist.

Shai is calling his criminal government “helpless and impotent leaders” who were left with no choice but to “react” to Hamas actions, which pushed them into a corner. Is this pathetic discourse even worth a response, let alone your admiration? In the meantime, perhaps he should read his own country’s newspapers – even the deceiving Haaretz – which will explain exactly “How the Gaza offensive came about:” http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050426.html

Let the massacre continue, but hey, at least some people in Israel are saddened by it.

December 28th, 2008, 12:26 am

 

Rime said:

My comment is awaiting moderation? Is that the norm on Syria Comment? Please moderate Alex, moderate.

December 28th, 2008, 12:32 am

 

Alex said:

Rime,

You are welcome to show up here any time, especially when you express your admiration of my opinions like you usually do.

I don’t disagree with you at all regarding what Israel does. If you had more time to spend on Syria Comment (you don’t, I know) you would have read the exchange I had with Shai a couple of weeks ago when I (helped by another Israeli called Rumyal) both argued with Shai that we do not buy the arguments that Israeli leaders are merely corrupt politicians who vary in their approach to the peace process based on their personal political objectives … I wrote to Shai that I don’t buy the idea that Olmert started negotiating with Syria only to escape financial corruption charges, or that Netanyahu’s hard line statements are merely a way to fool the Israeli right to vote for him then he will negotiate the Golan away after he becomes Prime minister …

But if you wantto know why I praised Shai earlier today … it was because he does not suffer the Black and White vision of reality that most people suffer from, the past few years … He did much better than Condy who ONLY expressed her support of Israel’s right to defend itself … for an Israeli … he did much better than one would expect… I’m sorry if I don’t expect more from him or anyone from our side… did you hear the Egyptian foreign minister’s comments?

Rime … given the amount of time I waste here writing comments, judging my opinion based on one comment of mine, forwarded to you by a reader is like judging a movie after watching 2 seconds in the middle.

For example, I don’t think I sounded too naive here:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1303

I will write more on the subject tomorrow.

December 28th, 2008, 1:04 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

This whole subject matter can be summarized in one simple equation:

Israel’s Security = Right To Massacre

December 28th, 2008, 1:11 am

 

Rime said:

Alex, thanks for welcoming me on this blog in spite of my criticism of your position, and I wish I had more time indeed, let alone more time to spend on my own blog.

No need to defend Shai because his words speak for themselves, and I don’t see why you compare him favorably to Rice; is this a competition for “least bad”? Non sequitur.

He certainly does see things in black and white (so do I when it comes to Palestine) and he did not do better than one would expect from self-styled peaceniks. There are Israelis who are standing up to the criminals who rule them, refusing to serve in the army, and who do not consider them to be helpless and impotent. What nonsense he has been writing in a “woe is me” tone. I see now that others have agreed with my sentiment, if not to the letter, then at least in spirit.

I don’t think you’re naive, I just know which side you’ve taken in various issues. But what exactly is “our” side? I know the Egyptian regime and I — and the Syrian regime and I, for that matter — are not on the same side. I will read your entry at more leisure and look forward to what you’ll write tomorrow.

December 28th, 2008, 1:29 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

I must also hold Hamas responsible for pushing impotent and helpless leaders into a corner by refusing to speak to Israel, and by continuing to lob missiles at civilian populations, almost daily, for the past 8 years.

Shai you begin to sound like Barak, whose rambling and lame excuses I listened just on BBC. Shai Israel(and USA) has made clear that it will not speak with Hamas. The ceasefire agreement included also the lift of blocking Gaza. Israel never honoured that as it has not honoured a single real commitment towards peace. It is not justified to call your own leaders impotent and helpless. Those present “helpless” figures have started two major punishment tours with thousands of killed and wounded, continued settlement policy etc. These guys are as helpless as Adolf Hitler was or George Bush Jr is. The only thing your helpless guys have done is that nowhere leading negotiation process which Israel keeps up without no intention to make peace in reality.

Demanding that Palestinians provide Israel its security while Israel continues the irritation and land theft policy is absurd. No occupied nation has such unity and control machine that it could control all the different political militant groups.

Hamas represents a part of political Islam which now is clearly the most influential and successful political movement in Arab countries in lack of other political popular movements. Amusingly the political Judaism – Zionism – doesn’t like political Islam like it doesn’t like Arab nationalism and Arab socialism. Actually what is the political “form” Israel likes among Palestinians and Arab countries? As USA Israel seems to like most corrupt “capos” who do what is commanded.

Maybe the fastest way towards peace would be that Israel now goes to Gaza with tanks and infantry and after thousands of killed and wounded the world would force Israel to make a fast peace based on the 67 borders (without “corrections”). But there is no doubt that what Israel is now doing is a planned and deliberate massacre.

Let’s remember that the other Israeli peace dove Rumyal angrily denied some time ago any Israeli possible massacre intentions and called Gaza treatment only “water boarding on nation level”.
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1534&cp=all#comment-220979

It would be interesting to hear Rumyal’s comment of this most recent Israel’s water boarding exercise.

December 28th, 2008, 2:08 am

 

norman said:

Ghassan, Majid,

You must be happy with the performance of KSA and Egypt , What do you call their behavior, I call it treason.

They remind me with the last Abbasi Khalifa, when he was hoping for the Mongols to leave Baghdad for him only to be killed and his daughters raped , The leaders of KSA and Egypt sold their countries and people for the sake of staying in power , otherwise why would the US attack Afghanistan and Iraq and leave KSA and Egypt where the ideology of hate started and 17 of the 19 hijackers came from.

December 28th, 2008, 2:47 am

 

Rumyal said:

Simo,

To be accurate, I said that Israel’s leaders think that this is what they are doing (national waterboarding).

There was always the option that you were right. I’m pretty shocked by the current events and can’t say much more currently.

December 28th, 2008, 3:00 am

 

Shai said:

Rime,

I’m glad you admit you also see things in black-and-white. You’ve never projected particular abilities or willingness to find a realistic solution, but rather found the “eloquent” ways of alienating anyone or anything that moves on sides that aren’t “yours”. Your talented abilities to read through us “self-styled peaceniks” are, as always, impressive. But know this, whether you want it or not, accept it or not, like it or not, someone on “your side” will one day have to compromise with the criminal regime of Israel. It will clearly not be you. You’re no peace-maker. You’re out here to draw the “real picture” for us. As if we need your interpretation. You see no alternate interpretation to people’s words, aside from your own. So of course you’d attribute support in my words to the criminal behavior of my nation towards the Palestinians, quoting my “impotent and helpless leaders” label.

Trust me, Rime, your trigger-happy labeling may impress others here (certainly when described using proper Oxford English), but it doesn’t impress me. Your late father, may he rest in peace, was a true peacemaker. He tried, unfortunately in vain, to bring an end to the conflict between our two nations. It was because of impotent and helpless leaders, miserable and criminal ones, that he failed. But from what I know, he never stopped trying. He was willing to compromise, to sit and respect the Israelis across from him, in attempt to begin a new chapter in our region’s history. I doubt you’re ready. You have your truth, and so no particular reason to compromise with criminals. But unfortunately, in this case, the criminals are the only ones with whom you can make peace. You can’t make peace with your friends.

By the way, you really should consider Alex’s wise words. Judging an entire movie by a 2 second clip is a bit silly. You have no context when passing your “judgement”, you don’t know the individuals you’re describing in such depth, and yet you allow yourself the advantage of an opportunity. I hope it gave you what you sought. I’m truly honored it was at my expense, and I’m sure many here benefitted from it. Another spot-on “Rime analysis”.

December 28th, 2008, 5:11 am

 

Shai said:

Qunfuz,

I’m sorry you view my words about Hamas as nonsense. You already know my views of the criminal behavior of successive Israeli governments, from Left to Right, over all these years. I didn’t feel I needed to expand yet again on everything I’ve been saying all these months. But I did feel I needed to share my own frustration also with Hamas – of course NOT with the Palestinian people. Never in Israel’s history (and in the Palestinians’) have there been two leaders who were as willing and capable in delivering a final peace agreement between our two people – Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. Yes, that Butcher-of-Lebanon, before he became the vegetable that he is today, completely changed his skin. He didn’t become an Arab-lover (far from it), but he DID seek to end our Occupation of Palestine. He started with Gaza, and was going to continue with the West Bank. After getting sick, Ehud Olmert who took his place was ready and able to continue Sharon’s job.

Yes, during this time we also continued our criminal behavior. While we talked to Abu Mazen, we suffocated, subjugated, and controlled the fate of millions. But we had leaders you could talk to (even criminal ones). And yes, Hamas CHOSE not to talk. They never recognized Israel, they never talked to Israel, and they never wanted to reach a solution with Israel. They wanted, and still want, all of Palestine, all of pre-1948 Palestine. This is NOT an excuse to commit any of the crimes my governments have committed. But is Hamas not in any way responsible for the fact that today there is still no peace? I am NOT disappointed in the Palestinians, God knows they ARE the ones truly suffering here. But you want me to ignore Hamas, because it seems to you to negate my criticism towards Israel? Fine. If it makes you feel better, I’ll ignore Hamas.

But someone on “your side”, somewhere down the line, will have to address my “nonsense”. Do you think those criminal Israelis can ever have peace and quiet if they don’t speak to Hamas? Of course not. So please remind yourself that Hamas too cannot have peace and quiet without talking to the criminals in Israel. And that, Qunfuz, is the source of my words. Yasser Arafat continued talking to Israel while we were killing his people, and we continued talking to him, while he was killing ours. Hamas hasn’t even started.

December 28th, 2008, 5:29 am

 

Shai said:

Nour,

You said: “When Livni states that she wants to transfer “Israeli” Arabs you dismiss it as political immaturity. When a minister of yours proudly claims that “Israel” will commit a “Holocaust” in Gaza you almost laugh it off, and now when “Israel” is deliberately and brutally killing hundreds of Palestinians you blame the Palestinians themselves. Yet you continue to come here and claim that you are interested in peace and justice. Please, sell it to someone else.”

Please show me when I ascribed “political immaturity” to Livni’s idiotic (and indeed dangerous) statement towards Israeli-Arabs, that their national aspirations will belong elsewhere, once a state of Palestine is created. Please show me when I “laughed it off”, when Matan Vilnai foolishly stated that the Palestinians are bringing a Holocaust upon themselves. Please show me how I “blame the Palestinians themselves” each time Israel kills hundreds of Palestinians. My God-forbid criticism of Hamas has done all this? It erased everything else I’ve said before (quite to the contrary of your suggestions)? Well then, I guess like I’ll have to “swallow” your ridiculous critism, you’ll have to “swallow” mine. You don’t have to buy it – I wasn’t really interested in selling it…

December 28th, 2008, 5:40 am

 

offended said:

Dear Rime,

I’ve been reading Shai’s comments on this blog for a almost a year now. And although I disagree with him on lots of issues, I came to conclusion that his intentions about peace are sincere. Hence I also wish there were more people like him in Israel.

Maybe I fell for his propaganda, but it’s beautiful and positive propaganda.

December 28th, 2008, 5:48 am

 

offended said:

And Rime, Shai has repeatedly criticized the siege of Gaza and argued that the US and Israel should engage with Hamas. Now I have no means of knowing whether Shai is this ferocious about peace in real life, but since this is a virtual forum, I take him for the words he says here.

Finally, I sadly believe that Shai is a minority in his society, hence, again, I wish there were more people like him.

December 28th, 2008, 5:56 am

 

offended said:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050426.html
———————————————–

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well. “

December 28th, 2008, 6:09 am

 

offended said:

Shai,

Reading the above article of ha’aretz, it’s hard to believe that the inept leaders of Israel were pushed to a corner. Obviously, the thing has been in the works for quite sometimes. And let’s be honest, who can ever push the bully with the gun? the Qassam rockets aren’t a threat to Israel’s existence. And one Israeli general had the audacity to say that the operation will not fully obliterate Hamas ability to launch rockets. Why then this bloody operation is continuing?

December 28th, 2008, 6:15 am

 

Shai said:

Offended,

You’re right, I now accept my poor use of the words “pushed to a corner”. I didn’t mean to say that the bully can be pushed to a corner by the victim, and hence the bully is justified. Let me be perfectly clear, to the “Rime’s” out there, I am TOTALLY AGAINST THE ISRAEL ATTACK UPON GAZA AND ITS POPULATION. There is no justification on earth for collectively punishing an entire population. There is no justification on earth for our criminal behavior, for our Occupation, suffocation, and subjugation, of the Palestinian people, be it under tribal leaderships, Yasser Arafat’s PLO, Abu Mazen’s PA, or Hanniyeh’s Hamas. There is no justification on earth, even if it seems to some here that my words suggest exactly that. Sometimes people put different stresses on things, and express things very differently from how you might think they would. It is easy to quickly judge and condemn, and much tougher to be patient, listen, and look for context.

That some here have a great difficulty hearing any criticism coming out of my mouth towards Hamas, is their problem. That they attribute such weight to my words, compared with everything else I say here on SC, some times day after day, week after week, is also their problem. I doubt they’ve spent more than a minute a month considering how opportunities are also been missed by “their side”, or how, at the end of the day, it is with these same Israeli criminals that their countries will have to make peace one day. Who do they expect to sit across from them – best buddies from college? Even Meretz, for crying out loud, was pushing Barak to react! And, here too, I was against it. But Rime has an insightful explanation to my words – they are designed for “spreading very creative propaganda”. She knows that, she deduces that from reading less than a handful of my comments, out of hundreds if not thousands by now. She has no context whatsoever, yet she “knows”. Maybe Rime prefers tough-talking Israelis like Netanyahu or Liebermann. They aren’t “creative” in their propaganda – they’re perfectly clear.

Perhaps the absurd in our country is justified – that only the Right can make peace. Perhaps us “self styled peaceniks” are too problematic, because we tend to disappoint time and again when, besides doing the expected (criticizing and fighting to end continued Israeli criminal behavior), we also voice occasional criticism of “your side”. And that’s just too much for some to handle. They can hear it daily from someone like Bibi, but not from someone like Shai. Ok, so have your Bibi instead. Let extremists determine the future of our region, and let very uncreative and cruel wars and violence replace creative propaganda.

December 28th, 2008, 6:57 am

 

jad said:

I agree with you Offended that Shai is a minority in his country but even that didn’t help me not seeing him as responsible as AIG, Rumyal, Akbar S, and their occupation government for the massacre of Gaza. They are a new and advanced version of the NAZI nothing less.
To be honest, today, I lost any faith in the west human right crap I hear, they are bunch of liars.

December 28th, 2008, 7:48 am

 

Shai said:

JAD,

I am sorry that you feel Israelis are a “new and advanced version of Nazis”.

But please know that in one way, at least, I differ from AIG and Akbar Palace. I do know that I am also responsible for my nation’s criminal behavior. And I am ashamed of it.

December 28th, 2008, 8:02 am

 

Shual said:

Offended, Mr. Rime,
please use this links:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/953182.html http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/964792.html

[“Earlier Monday, Barak said that he had instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for a possible wide-scale operation in the Gaza Strip in response to the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks from the coastal territory”. Pfffft.]

In my point of view, Shai is somehow correct: “Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago -May-, … after the defense establishment pushed him into a corner.” [Better: “Shoved him”]

I was invited to produce an opposing text for the General Staff in March/April. They … did not really like it and they canceled all contacts. I have to look for the date, but after they canceled the contact, I knew that the discision was made [-May-]. I can remember very well that they solved the Barak question -in discussions with me- by … praising him into the leading position in the new top-duo Ashkenazi-Barak. With the incoming new IAF-leadership the pressure was rising to decide to take the first chance to strike Gaza. I never talked to Barak himselve, so I can not really tell you if this is really correct, but I think Barak [his political intentions] had no chance to oppose the things we can see now.

Sie sprach zu ihm, sie sang zu ihm;
Da war’s um ihn geschehn;
Halb zog sie ihn, halb sank er hin
Und ward nicht mehr gesehn.
[Goethe]

December 28th, 2008, 8:17 am

 
 

jad said:

Shai,
I have no doubt that you are a good and honest man and I do highly respect you. However, Israel occupation of palestine and killing alomst 300 human being in one attack for some meaningless political gain is too much to comprehend, You and your people should held responsible for this war crime.

December 28th, 2008, 9:42 am

 

qunfuz said:

Bloody hell. I just wrote a long response to Shai, and the site lost it. Now I’m even more angry.

In brief: Israel violated the ceasefire, as it always does.

– Arafat was led down the garden path by Israel. He recognised the ethno-state on 78% of Palestine, and received nothing in return. This was a mistake.

– Hamas was elected because it is a resistance organisation. Its purpose is to resist, not to stupidly ‘recognise’ its oppressor.

– Olmert and Sharon are war criminals, mass murderers of Arab women and children. Both should be in prison. Both, like Netanyahu, recognise Israel’s need for some kind of soluton that can be called ‘two-state’ but neither visualise anything viable. They are bantustan thinkers.

– We’ve been through this before. If you want peace, withdraw NOW from ALL the land captured in 67, or announce Israel’s desire for a binational state. If you don’t, don’t pretend you want peace, and don’t expect resistance organisation to ‘recognise’ your settler state.

– Once again Israelis, living in stolen houses, on stolen land, have shown their belief that one of them is worth about 250 of us, as if they are supermen and we are untermenschen.

Hamas refuses to bow to this logic. Until Israel seriously moves towards peace (which means some measure of justice), it will meet resistance from Hamas. There has been talking for decades and things have only got worse. Hamas’s long term aim is to build its missile capability so that it becomes more than a mere irritant, so that Israel will have to take it seriously and really think about peace.

December 28th, 2008, 12:26 pm

 

qunfuz said:

Shai, from Informed Comment: “Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.”

“In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas.”

December 28th, 2008, 1:02 pm

 

Rime said:

Shai, I’m quite amazed that you seem to focus as much on the form (does it bother you so much that I manage to express myself clearly?) as on the content of my comments, but in any case I seem to have hit quite a nerve. You proceed to put words into my mouth and imply that I do not want peace (presumably unlike yourself) and that I must recognize we must negotiate with the enemy (I never even mentioned negotiations). You then dare to bring my father into this. Don’t. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

All I did was respond to your actual words. A massacre is going on, and you are stating your sadness that impotent leaders were pushed into a corner by Hamas. Spare us the commiseration about innocent civilians, and show us what the peace-maker you imply you are will do about this … where it matters, not on a mostly Arab blog, but in Israel!

Come to think of it, I wonder what your position was when the same Israeli savagery was extended to Lebanon in July 2006. Let me guess: you lamented the collective punishment of innocent civilians, and you blamed Hezbollah for pushing the helpless Israeli leaders into the corner?

Offended, I actually have no doubt that Shai wants peace. Who doesn’t? But what kind of peace does he want? As you all rightly say, I haven’t participated in your previous debates and can only judge his position by the current one, but I am not at all convinced that his peace is one based on international laws, numerous UN resolutions, and on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After all, he mentions the word “realistic” and we all know what that means.

Shual, thanks for the information. By the way, I’m a woman.

December 28th, 2008, 2:41 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Dear Rime,

I will lend my voice to Alex’s and Offended’s. For the past year, Shai has spent countless hours on Syria Comment, engaging in long discussions with Arabs and Israelis alike. He has won over some pretty tough customers; at the very least, he has demonstrated to our readers that there are people in Israel who condemn unequivocally the crimes of their government.

Shai is not just a talker. He is very much a do-er. He has been deeply active in the campaign to promote the Israel-Syria peace talks. And, given the extent of Syria Comment’s readership, he has served as a kind of one-man PR committee for this process.

At any rate, this is just to say that I don’t think your criticisms of Shai are fair. He has earned the right to have his views taken seriously and respected, not questioned and ridiculed — even if you disagree with him.

December 28th, 2008, 3:49 pm

 

Shual said:

Sorry Rime,

I had not the time to visit your website.

December 28th, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

Rime said:

Qifa Nabki, I think everyone has the right to have their views taken seriously, and I take yours, and Shai’s, very seriously indeed. Thanks for at least not putting words into my mouth, and for simply saying that you think I’m unfair. However, please do not tell me that the view that “Israeli leaders are impotent and were pushed into a corner” does not deserve ridicule. Seriously.

And don’t get me started on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks, I’ve been writing about them since the non-paper appeared in Haaretz; sorry to tell you that I’ve also criticized, to put it mildly, the possibility that the Syrian regime would dare agree to this.

In any case, apart from Qunfuz whose comment I’ve just read in detail, and a few others , I see I am in the minority and Shai clearly has many more supporters than this Syrian on Syria Comment. As does Mahmoud Abbas, I assume, who has also just blamed Hamas for the ongoing massacre.

In the meantime, after murdering about 300 people in Gaza since yesterday, Israel’s impotent leaders have just been forced by Hamas to kill a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank.

December 28th, 2008, 4:25 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

A statement and a question,

Today , Israel has managed to increase the haters of the Jews by many hundred percents,Do you thing it will make Israel more secure.?

How does Netanyahu feel now that this war might cost him the election?. as it seems the Israeli government is intended to continue fighting till after the election.

December 28th, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

norman said:

Israel is calling the reserve and Syria is breaking the indirect talks ,
Israel seems to be determent to reoccupy Gaza and surrender it to Abbas,

Back

Syria suspends indirect peace talks with Israel

2008-12-28 16:13:01 –

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – A Syrian government official says that Damascus has decided to suspend its indirect peace talks with Israel because of the Jewish state’s attacks in Gaza.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, says «Israel’s aggression closes all the doors» to any move toward a settlement in the region.
Israel and Syria held four rounds of indirect negotiations in Turkey after the peace talks were launched in May. The talks were suspended when Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would step down earlier this year.
Last Monday, Syria’s President Bashar Assad said he believes direct peace talks with Israel are possible and that they will eventually take place.

Press release: http://www.pr-inside.com
Kontaktinformation: e-mail

Disclaimer: If you have any questions regarding information in these press releases please contact the company added in the press release. Please do not contact pr-inside. We will not be able to assist you. PR-inside disclaims contents contained in this release.

December 28th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rime said:

I see I am in the minority and Shai clearly has many more supporters than this Syrian on Syria Comment. As does Mahmoud Abbas, I assume, who has also just blamed Hamas for the ongoing massacre.

Rime, why do you assume that Mahmoud Abbas has supporters on Syria Comment? Actually, one of Abbas’s most fervent critics here is Shai. So, yes, I do think you’re being a bit unfair.

December 28th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

Shai said:

Rime,

If I put words in your mouth, I do apologize. I suppose I participated in judging you just as quickly as you did me. Perhaps you are for-peace (in more than just “who isn’t” kind of way). And I of course apologize for any disrespect I have shown you, or your family, by speaking about your late father. Please know, that from what I’ve read about him, I hold the highest respect for him.

I acknowledge that I’ve made a very poor choice of words this morning, especially in describing our leadership as “helpless and impotent”, or one that has been pushed into a corner by the obvious victim here, the Palestinian people. I wrote Alex later, belatedly attempting to clarify the poor use of the words. I meant it, from an Israeli point of view, in the pathetic sense of the word. That is, how despite the fact that our leadership is capable, talented, and has the ability to act very differently and influence the course of its future, knowingly or unknowingly allows itself to sink into a “helpless” state of self-pity, fear, and self-deception, whereby it justifies to itself and others its action as mere last-resort reaction, as a victim in this conflict, rather than a perpetrator.

Despite the way you’ve chosen to read through my words in a single comment today, rather than in context of hundreds if not thousands of other comments I make on SC, please know that I am appalled by the criminal behavior of my successive governments, certainly over the past 30 years, if not well beyond them. In no way do I view even Hamas as equally responsible for what is happening today, and I apologize if it seemed I was making this claim. I was, I suppose, releasing my own anger at Hamas for not seizing the opportunity it did have, over the past two years, to engage Israel through diplomacy, even while we were killing, occupying, and subjugating their people. In retrospect, this comment was undoubtedly poorly timed.

But please know that I do very much believe in International law, I do wish justice could be had for the Palestinian people, but also have come to recognize that if justice means the one-state solution, then this will not be possible in the near future. I, therefore, am willing (and do) to fight for a two-state solution. I very much believe we need to make peace with Syria, and withdraw from all territories occupied since 1967. I do view Israeli occupation as nothing short of an Apartheid rule. We are, and have been, committing crimes against humanity. And we must end it, immediately. I say this repetitively not only on this forum, but very much in Israel as well. I don’t do enough, I know. But I am searching for ways to do more.

Please know that there are many of us today in Israel, who are ashamed. I know words do not help anyone, certainly not the Palestinian people. But this is the least I can do on this forum.

December 28th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I have no idea what the Israeli government is “intent” on doing. I only know what it is NOT intent on doing – and that seems to be making peace. I don’t know how this will effect Netanyahu, nor do I particularly care. I cannot explain this action in rational terms.

December 28th, 2008, 5:12 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Even by Israel’s standards, this massacre is just sickening.

Reports abound on attempts to draw Hizbullah into the conflict.

December 28th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

majid said:

Alex said, “Majid,

God knows … I can only tell you that I HOPE (not “think”) it will be something close to Syria’s way.”

Sorry for the late reply Alex. My internet connection was down last two days. With regards to your very high hopes, you remind of the Armenian who recited a famous line of poetry in very colloquial Arabic like this:

“Baba, markab birouh heyk, hawa birouh heyk” In each case pointing with his hand in opposite directions.

I still don’t think you mean what you said – regarding one way or the other. You would either be naive or even worse dissembling.

December 28th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

offended said:

Rime,
Shai has written, literally, hundreds of pages on this forum. And I think I read at least 70% of what he’d written. You start to get feel for people after this much of reading their comments.

I am also a silent reader of your blog and I immensely admire your courage and tenacity. I’ve also been arguing with the optimist lot here that peace without a free Palestine is worthless for Syria. So yes, I think I can SUPPORT YOU and your argument against hasty, frivolous and an Egyptian-like peace treaty between Syria and Israel and listen to Shai and respect his views and his endeavor at the same time…

December 28th, 2008, 6:13 pm

 

Alex said:

Majid,

I said last week that I hope things will go Syria’s way … I still don’t know, but I am today more convinced Egypt is increasingly in trouble.

Shai,

No need to apologize further for your government’s actions.

I hope everyone will stop blaming you directly or indirectly for Israel’s behavior. I think it is enough. If you have things to criticize Israel for … criticize Israel, not Shai.

December 28th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I see that you are genuinely upset,God bless and hope for more of you .

December 28th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

Rime said:

Qifa Nabki, sorry but I was being sarcastic about Abbas! I don’t know anything about who most people support here, and I only mentioned it in the context of blaming Hamas.

Shai, Offended, and other concerned SC readers, not everyone has the benefit of being part of this group, and of knowing what people think or stand for through the countless comments left on this blog. You are making it too difficult for us to join in the discussion (not that you necessarily wish to) by expecting that comments be taken purely in the context of debates we have never followed. As far as my seemingly controversial contribution goes, I judged only what I read here, and I was prepared to be judged myself by what I wrote here.

Shai, thank you for your kind words, and let us accept that we have different positions on the subject. Although you have completely clarified what you meant this morning, which makes more sense judging by what most people here are saying about you, you still believe (as is your right) that Hamas is to blame “for not seizing the opportunity it did have, over the past two years, to engage Israel through diplomacy.” I believe the exact opposite, that Israel has done everything possible to alienate itself from diplomacy.

Hamas, which I would now consider more legitimate than the government of Ehud Olmert, was democratically elected, and since then was totally isolated by all concerned. Media reporting in the past few days has been appalling, demonstrating revisionism at worst, carelessness and ignorance at best: Hamas did not seize power in Gaza, nor did it make a coup, nor any of the crazy things being said in various media. Israel cannot live with the choice of the Palestinian people, but ironically there is no doubt that Israel (and Fatah of course) are driving them into the arms of groups like Hamas. But I digress (and I usually do!). (By the way, not that it matters, but I am far from being a Hamas fan.)

For the last few years of Arafat’s life, the Israeli establishment repeated ad nauseam that “we have no partner” with whom to negotiate. Ditto with Hamas. Let’s face it, the only partners Israel will accept, as things look so far, are those who will sign on the dotted line to conditions which no sane, moral or legal parameter could contain. Would this bring Israel its security?

Like you, Shai, I have argued for the two-state solution. Today, more and more, I think that Israel is painting itself in the corner of the one-state solution … hence the sudden interest in a quick and easy settlement. But this an entirely different subject for which we have no appetite today. As I was writing this, Israeli jets bombed Gaza University, a place of learning. They are trying to destroy not just the present, but the future of Palestinians. Now, they are shelling the port of Gaza.

Offended, thanks for your comments on my own writings.

Alex, your last words are striking and (let me throw my last controversy here) very similar to thought police. Do you not think this is over the top for a blog? Was anyone really blaming Shai personally for Israel’s behavior? I must have missed that. In any case, as confirmed by my anti-spam word, I’m toast!

December 28th, 2008, 11:33 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

The United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and supporters of March 14th would like nothing more than hit the delete button and get rid rid of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

While Israel is trying to execute its own delete operation of Hamas in Gaze, if history is any guide this is not likely to work.

It is worth reflecting on what om Segev wrote today in Haaretz:

“Israel is striking at the Palestinians to “teach them a lesson.” That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception: We are the representatives of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and morality, while the Arabs are a primitive, violent rabble, ignorant children who must be educated and taught wisdom – via, of course, the carrot-and-stick method, just as the drover does with his donkey.”

December 28th, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rime,

Before you disappear… please allow me to implore you to stick around! Or at least come back tomorrow. It is not so difficult to join the discussion, I insist.

You are not a fan of Hamas, nor Fatah, nor the Egyptians, nor the Syrians, nor the Lebanese… a woman after my own heart!

Anyway, don’t go away, seriously.

December 28th, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

norman said:

Rime ,

what are your thoughts about solving the Israeli /Palestinian conflict.?.

and the Israeli Arab one.

December 29th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

Alex said:

Dear Rime,

Again you are quick to express negative impressions about me after spending 2 more seconds here today.

If I am such a strict moderator, why is it that this blog gets

405 comments
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=724

and

544 comments
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=601

I don’t think other Syria Blogs are much more open, are they?

Thought police would prevent ideas … continuing to blame Shai (directly or indirectly) for Israel’s crimes in Gaza for a second day was not exactly rich in new ideas.

Sorry if this is how I see it but I don’t want to see him apologizing ten more times. If we are that angry at Israel, let’s go and find a way to tell CNN that THEY are part of the crimes when they lie like they did an hour ago … “The Gaza violence reminds us of the way the violence in 2006 in Lebanon started when Hizbollah attacked Israel with missiles forcing Israel to retaliate by attacking Hizbollah back”

December 29th, 2008, 12:41 am

 

Shai said:

Rime,

This time, allow me to thank YOU for your kind words. This is how I wish we could have communicated from the very start (back a few months ago when we had our first and few exchanges). I fully understand your (and others’) anger at the way I phrased my thoughts (frustration), and I hope I did manage to better “explain” myself. I must say, though, that I am in COMPLETE agreement with everything you wrote in your last comment (and no, you did not digress). And while I do believe Hamas has missed opportunities, I fully agree that Israel did everything possible to make sure that happens. I think Hamas could have taken advantage of certain opportunities, even if this was the last thing Israelis wanted. Like you, I’m also not particularly “fond” of Hamas, but unlike most Israelis, I do respect the free choice of the Palestinian people, and I do believe we should have done EVERYTHING to speak to Hamas.

I also agree with you that de facto, we are heading right towards a One-state solution. I find it the biggest absurd in my nation’s history that we still, after 60 years, don’t know what we want. Do we think the West Bank is part of “Greater Israel” (Biblical Israel, Canaan, whatever)? If so, yalla, let’s annex the entire territory, like we did with the Golan in 1981, and let’s give the 4 million Palestinian there Israeli citizenship, the right to vote, etc. The next morning, of course, Fatah or Hamas will become Israel’s largest or second-largest party in Knesset… So if Jews in Israel don’t like this solution, then let us get the Hell out of the West Bank, and leave it to the people who have lived there, at the very least over the past 2000 years (ya’ani, while we weren’t there).

The problem, of course, is that since we’ve done almost everything possible to discourage sincere dialogue and the establishment of a real process to create the Palestinian state, we have created our own self-fulfilling prophecy, namely the “no partner to talk to” claim. I don’t blame only Israel for this, but clearly we are first and foremost to blame. As Alex, and Norman, and others have said in the past, and I unfortunately believe as well, Israel doesn’t seem to know what it wants. I’ve been suspecting over the past decade or two, that perhaps we’re still suffering from some inferiority-complex, whereby we still expect our fate to be determined by others, as it was while Jews were in the Diaspora. We are good at convincing ourselves that all are bad deeds are mere reaction to other’s ill intentions towards Israel, that most if not all our harsh actions are in defense of ongoing existential threats. People here really believe that.

And as I unrealistically expected you to have “SC perspective” in judging me, I unrealistically expect sometimes the Israeli people to have perspective in judging their own state of being, and in judging those around us and under our Occupation. But what can you expect from Israelis that have only interacted with Arabs through gunpoint, and reserves duty in the territories? What can you expect from Israelis that have grown up with subtle and less-than-subtle demonization of Arabs? Maybe it is indeed unrealistic of me to expect perspective of most Israelis, but it IS realistic of me to expect it of our leaders. They ARE supposed to be above most people, to see things differently, to develop policy for Israel, to carry it out, to lead us to a better future, and to also ensure we are in peace with our neighbors.

Rime, I no longer know what to think today. Our own so-called “moderate” leaders, Olmert, Livni, and Barak, are the ones giving the go-ahead to this terrible military operation. They’re the ones responsible for the killing of so many Palestinians. I no longer know what the Left and Center-Left stand for. I really am shocked right now. Even in war there must be a principle of proportionality and reciprocity. Even if we (foolishly) that we can “convince” the Palestinian people to give up on their armed struggle for Independence (which EVERY people on this planet have a right to do, when under Occupation), how can we hope to achieve this by having a 250-to-1 kill ratio? How can my people believe this criminal behavior will lead to a more secure life for us in the present, or in the future? What kind of twisted mind believes this?

But I’ll end pointing fingers yet again at others. This time, at the International Community. What are they waiting for? Another 34 days of Lebanon-2006? Is 1500 dead, and a million cluster-bombs, the magical-numbers sought first, before the world awakens? Where is Egypt and Jordan? Where is Europe, or even Obama? Is the most the UN is capable of, is “calling upon all parties to end the violence…”? What if it was the other way around – if two days ago, 1 Palestinian was killed, and 250 Israelis were killed? The U.S. would have its Sixth-Fleet immediately mobilized to defend Israel against this new “existential threat”. But innate racism, and Arab=Terrorist synonyms are comforting little cushions when our conscience has to “deal” with these horrific facts.

These past two days, I can’t say I’m particularly “proud” to be an Israeli. And it makes me ever more ashamed, hearing some here (including on this forum) are actually calling upon Israelis to feel proud! We should feel proud, when we kill 250 Palestinians, and injure more than 700, in a single day. Some form of “Defense” that is…

December 29th, 2008, 5:50 am

 

offended said:

Rime,
I join Qifa Nabki and Alex in urging you to stay or to come more often, please!

And no, not at all. I was not trying to make it difficult for you to join the discussion; I was merely trying to explain why I wished there were more people like Shai.

December 29th, 2008, 12:55 pm

 

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