President Assad’s Speech to the Arab Summit

President Assad’s Speech to the Arab Summit Assembled in Damascus
Saturday, March 29, 2008
From SANA (But I cannot open the site to link)

Your Excellencies and Highnesses

Dear brothers and sisters,

On my behalf and on behalf of the Syrian Arab people, I extend to you a very warm welcome in your country, Syria, which receives you today with love, respect and sincere hope that this meeting among brothers is going to be a beneficial meeting for the Arab nation whose sons and daughters are looking forward to the achievement of solidarity, dignity and prosperity for this nation at a critical juncture of its modern history.

The convening of this Arab summit in Syria at this critical stage is a great honor and responsibility which we appreciate due to our strong belief in the importance of joint Arab work and its significance to our Arab nation that aspires to take its esteemed place in today’s world.

We tried our utmost to prepare the right conditions to make this summit a success, and we tried to overcome many of the obstacles which stood in its way. Especially as we all recognize the difficult stage and the sensitive developments evinced by our nation, to the extent that it is not an exaggeration to say that we are no longer on the brink of danger but in its midst and we could feel its direct effects on our countries and people. Every day passing without making a decisive decision that serves our Arab national interests makes the possibility of evading catastrophic results more remote and far reaching.

However different our opinions may be about the nature of these dangers, their causes and the best ways to face them (and it is only normal that members of the same family may entertain different opinions about the same issue), what is beyond doubt is that we are all in the same boat, facing turbulent currents, and there is no doubt that we have no alternative to consulting, coordinating and working with each other to unify our stands, regain our rights and achieve growth and development for our countries.

We live in a world that is passing through extremely important changes which are basically initiated and mapped by great international powers. This has incited many countries in the world to formulate their own regional blocs which consolidate their powers and enhance their interests, sometimes without initially having any thing in common among them. How natural and logical it is, then, for us, the Arabs, who constitute a natural national gathering that possesses all factors of success, that by far exceeds the factors enjoyed by any other regional bloc, to group and coordinate our efforts together? This becomes even more pressing in view of the challenges which are threatening our inner strength, making some of our Arab countries open fields for conflicts among others, though assuming the shape of a conflict among our people, or making us a target for aggression, killing and violence exercised by our enemies.

There is no doubt that there are many obstacles which stand in the face of our desires and aspirations to achieve what we want. Although we often agree on the objectives, there are differing views of the vision and the process. This needs not be a problem once we conduct an honest dialogue. Our dialogue and our deep conviction in the necessity of making an initiative to make active and serious stands will enhance our ability to overcome the difficulties through addressing them realistically, frankly, and with sincere regard for the highest interest of the Arab nation.

My dear brothers,

Many summits were convened during the past decades, some of which were convened at critical junctures. We succeeded at certain places and stages, and did not quite succeed at others. If the Arab situation is not quite satisfactory to us, this is not due to the summits, themselves, as much as it is due to the nature of the Arab-Arab relations and the circumstances surrounding them, both in the past and the present, and the way the results of these circumstances reflected on Arab summits. Yet, at many stages, and when the will was there, we were able to adopt stands expressing the real interests of the Arab nation. If wars and occupations were the most dangerous issues with which we were confronted during the past decades, the peace battle was no less significant. For many years past, we all recognized the importance of peace, and we expressed that at all times, and in different ways, beginning with our announcement over three decades ago that we believe in a just and comprehensive peace, and that we are prepared to realize it, through the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, until we reached the Arab initiative for peace in 2002. That initiative expressed, without a shadow of doubt, our common intent, as Arab states, that we collectively want to make peace, provided that Israel showed its real readiness for peace.

Despite our best efforts, what was the Israeli response to this Arab initiative? Immediately after the Arab initiative, Israel led a huge aggression on the West bank and imposed a siege on the Palestinian people, killing their women and children. We all remember the Massacre of Jenin and the hundreds of martyrs who were killed by Israelis. Israel continued to build more settlements and it built a racist wall, and followed it with an aggression against Lebanon and Syria, and carried out political assassinations. Through doing all this, Israel was pushing the Israeli public opinion towards more extremism and more racism against the Arabs, rejecting, in the meantime, as it always did, to respond positively to the requirements of a just peace in accordance with its policies which are against peace. All this has taken place under the sight of the entire world and its absolute failure to take any firm and active measure to deter Israel from such acts, and under the pretext of ensuring Israel’s security, a pretext that has always been marketed by Israel, and those who support it.

Apart from discussing the security concept only from the Israeli perspective, as if the security of the Arabs should not be taken into account, we like to stress that security can only be achieved through peace and not through aggressions and wars which will only bring more pain and suffering. As for peace, it can only be achieved through the full withdrawal from Arab occupied territories and the full return of Arab rights. This means that security cannot be achieved before peace because occupation is the antithesis of both security and peace and because if security is not mutual and embracing the Arab side it will be only a mirage. Unless those who promote “security first” happen to assume, or to wait from the indigenous owners of the land to surrender to occupation, and from free people to accept to become slaves. Anyone who knows history surely knows that this logic has been defeated. Even if this logic were to be found at some moments, it is temporary, misleading, and it is always followed with more wars, destruction and regret.

If we, at the Arab level, have not missed any opportunity to express our desire for peace, the latest of which was our participation in Annapolis Conference, we find out that Israel has, also, used every opportunity but to prove the exact opposite, to prove its haughtiness and its outright rejection to implement international resolutions, and to prove its disregard for our rights and for all our peace initiatives.

The question that pauses itself here is do we have the peace process and our initiatives as a pawn to the moods of successive Israeli governments, or do we search for choices and alternatives which may well achieve a just and comprehensive peace and guarantee the return of our full and complete rights ? In other words, do we continue to submit unconditional offers to them, to pick up whatever they choose whenever they choose to respond to; and should these initiatives be influenced by the aggressive policies and the Israeli massacres, or are they abstract initiatives unrelated to either time or circumstance?

If the above mentioned initiatives include no call to escape to the front through wars on the Israeli style, they certainly include no acceptance of escaping backwards through submission and subservience to Israeli dictations. Rather, they are a call to review the substance of our strategic choices and to search for a balanced stand that accommodates the requirements of a just and comprehensive peace, and what the return of occupied territories and the guaranteeing of legitimate rights means, on the one hand, with the provision of the minimal level of steadfastness and resistance, as long as Israel continues to reject peace and launch aggression against us, on the other hand. Here we are meeting today while the blood of the martyrs of Israeli massacres, has not dried up yet, enveloped with an utter silence of the world and the anger of the Arab people and the condemnation of every one who has a free conscience in the world.

As we express our pain and condemnation of the suffering inflicted on our Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank of killing, blockade and destruction at the hands of the Israeli death machine and death squads, and our regret for what the Palestinian affairs have reached in terms of differences and division, we believe that priority should be given to the Palestinian dialogue. We would like to say to our Palestinian brothers your enemy will certainly use any division among you in order to perpetrate more massacres against you and your children without differentiating between one Arab and another, be this Arab Palestinian or from any other Arab country. Do not be under the illusion that your enemy differentiates between one Palestinian and another, or between the West Bank and Gaza, or between one Palestinian organization and another. All this should prompt you to rise above all differences, however big they may seem to you.

The unity and support of the Arab stand to the Palestinian issue is necessarily influenced by the unity of your own stand. The unity of stand is your guarantee, and the guarantee of your people, and of your cause, and it is the only way for you to regain your rights, in the forefront of which is regaining your land and the return of refugees. Here, we would like to express our appreciation of the efforts exerted by our brothers in the republic of Yemen and our support to the Yemeni initiative to resume dialogue, and we see in this initiative an appropriate framework for an agreement between Palestinian sides. We call upon all Arab countries to put an immediate end to the blockade imposed on Gaza, as an introduction to ask countries of the world to do the same.

In the context of speaking about rights, we, in Syria, emphasize that peace can only be achieved after the return of the entire Golan to the line of June 04, 1967. The Israeli continuous evasion will never bring them better conditions and will never make us accept to give up an inch of our land or any of our rights. The concessions they were not able to get from Syria in the past, will never be obtained by them in the present. As for betting on time so that rights may be dropped or forgotten, it is certainly to no avail, because time has produced generations who cling more tenaciously to their land, and who are more committed to resistance.

As for Lebanon, we feel very much concerned about the state and the inner division in Lebanon which is blocking an agreement on national common denominators. Despite all the propaganda about conditions in Lebanon, we affirm, once again, our concern for the independence of Lebanon, its sovereignty and stability. I owe it to the transparency between me and my brothers, the Arab leaders, to clarify what has been circulating about the so-called Syrian interference in Lebanon and the calls, statements and pressures to put an end to this influence. I would like to say to you, honestly, that what is happening on the ground is the exact opposite. The pressures which had been exerted on Syria for over a year now, and more frequently and extensively during the last few months, all aim to force Syria to interfere in the internal affairs of Lebanon. Our answer was clear to everyone who asked us to do something to that effect, and I shall reiterate our answer in front of this esteemed summit, which is as follows: The key to a solution in Lebanon is in the hands of the Lebanese themselves. They have their own country, their own institutions and their own constitution and they are capable of doing that by themselves. Any other role should be supportive to them, and not an alternative to their role. We, in Syria, are absolutely ready to cooperate with any Arab, or non-Arab efforts, in this domain, provided that the initiative, or any initiative, is based on the ground of national reconciliation, because it is the only foundation for stability in Lebanon which is our ultimate goal and objective.

As for our brotherly Iraq, which is suffering from very cruel circumstances, it needs the collaboration of all our efforts to support and help Iraq to achieve its sovereignty, stability and security, on the basis of national unity that embraces all the composites of the Iraqi people. The starting point for national unity is the achievement of national reconciliation among its citizens till they achieve complete independence and the exit of the last occupying soldier.

There is no doubt that the stability of Iraq is important to all of us, because it is not possible for our Arab region, in particular, and for the Middle East, and perhaps further, in general, to witness stability while Iraq is as turbulent as it is today. The stability of Iraq is intricately connected to its unity, which in its turn, is linked to Iraq’s Arab identity and dimension. In this regard, we all have the responsibility to consolidate the Arab presence in Iraq in cooperation and coordination with its government. Despite the importance of regional and international support, none of them is an alternative to our role in preserving the stability and Arab identity of Iraq.

We stress the unity of Sudan, its sovereignty and stability and call for the support of the efforts exerted by the government of Sudan to address the humanitarian situation in Darfour and achieve peace, security and stability for that part of our brotherly country, Sudan, away from foreign interference in Sudanese internal affairs. We reject any attempt to impose solutions or formulas under the pretext of the humanitarian situation.

All what has preceded calls upon us to establish the best relations with neighboring countries with which we share historic ties and common interests that serve our countries and people with the aim of achieving stability to our region and finding solutions to existing problems. We stress the necessity to solve any problem that may arise with these neighboring countries through direct dialogue and continuous contacts, which are able to erase causes of difference and dispel concerns about intentions.

Amidst the many issues which occupy us, the phenomenon of terrorism constitutes one of the current challenges with which we are faced. At the same time that we condemn all terrorist practices which target innocent civilians, and stipulate our stand against terrorism, we, in the mean time, emphasize that we consider fighting occupation a legitimate right for people guaranteed by all international legislation and human codes. We also stress that we consider the Israeli state terrorism against our Arab people the most dreadful form of terrorism in current times.

Brothers, Excellencies and Highnesses

Arab-Arab relations have witnessed a progressive growth during the last few years, particularly at the economic level with the introduction of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area agreement. The trend of Arab investments going to Arab countries is promising more growth. As for the cultural and educational side we have a lot of work to do in the face of a dangerous foreign cultural campaign that negatively influences young generations and their relations to their national mother culture. The starting point for any endeavor in this domain is to work for the consolidation of Arabic language at the national level, because our Arabic language is the vehicle that carries our culture, our roots and our historic memory. Its loss, therefore, means the loss of our history and of our future. On the agenda of the summit is a project to link the Arabic language to knowledge society so that our language remains the language of culture and life that preserves our cultural existence and protects our civilized identity.

We have to press on with our domestic reform that responds to our national and developmental requirements and is in accordance with our cultural constituents. We should not hesitate to reject any form of interference in our internal affairs, regardless of the headings it may assume, and of the styles or means it begs. The experiences of yesterday and today have all proven how expensive it is to impose changes from the outside, and how costly it has been to impose predestined political and economic prototypes on developing countries.

Your Excellencies and Highnesses

It is true that the time of the summit is calculated in days and hours, but it is an important juncture during which we add few blocs to the building we aspire to construct. It is true that what is important is not what we say at the summits, but rather, what we do in between the summits, but the summit remains essential to decide the right direction and the necessary speed of what we intend to do later.

It is true that, in both words and deeds, we are open to cooperation with the others in the world, but what is truer is that this cooperation will bear fruit, only, when we rely on ourselves. The common denominators that combine us as Arabs are many and fundamental; as for points of difference, if they fall under the framework of concern for our nation, there is no doubt, then, that the solid building, that we aspire to achieve for our Arab project, will be completed.

I welcome you once again, my gracious brothers wishing you the best of times in your country and among your people.

Wassalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatu Allahi Wa Barakatuhu

Other headlines:

Syria and Saudi Arabia conciliatory on Lebanon

Arab summit failures have many asking, Why hold them? AP

The two-day summit in Damascus closed Sunday with a last-minute spat as Iraq refused to endorse the leaders' final statement because it didn't include a condemnation of terrorism in the war-torn country.

But the gathering had been controversial from the start. The leaders of regional powerhouses and U.S. allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan boycotted — out of anger at Syria — and Lebanon didn't send a single official.

In all, 10 of the Arab League's 22 heads of state stayed away, most for various personal disputes, troubles at home or because they just couldn't be bothered.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — who's flamboyant style and off-the-cuff remarks routinely provide the summits' only entertainment — both shocked and amused the delegations Saturday when he mocked his fellow Arab leaders for their disunity and inaction.

Addressing the summit, he warned that Arab countries will be "marginalized and turn into garbage dumps" if they do not reorganize themselves.

He ridiculed the idea Arabs could cooperate on a joint nuclear program, a proposal repeatedly approved by the summit since 2006. "How can we do that? We hate each other," Gadhafi said. "Our intelligence services conspire against each other."

Syrian officials insisted the summit was a success. President Bashar Assad said Sunday that disputes he acknowledged broke out during closed-door meetings the night before were a cause for optimism.

"There was frankness, and the most important thing was that the frankness was accepted despite the differences at many times," he said….

Arab leaders decided in 2000 to make their summits an annual event after meeting only twice in the 1990s, hoping that a gathering every year would encourage unity and bring serious efforts to deal with the region's many troubles.

But since then, almost every summit has been marred by low attendance, chaos and walkouts. In 2002, the Palestinian delegation stormed out in protest after host Lebanon prevented late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from addressing the summit by satellite link from Ramallah, where he was besieged by Israeli troops.

A year later, Gadhafi had a televised spat with Saudi King Abdullah, leading the Libyan to boycott last year's summit in Riyadh. In 2004, the Tunisian president angered other Arabs by calling off a summit over disputes on how to respond to a U.S. plan for democratic reform in Arab states. The summit was held two months later.

And at the 2006 summit in Sudan, Assad and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bickered during the meeting's televised final session.

With the exception of the Beirut 2002 summit when leaders launched an Arab peace initiative offering pan-Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for the return of Arab lands, none of the other summits came up with any memorable decisions.

Arab summit says peace offer is under review

Syria Ready in case of US military action:

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Sunday that Damascus was prepared for all scenarios in its worsening relationship with Washington, including the use of US military force.

“A prudent person must make all his calculations, especially when we have to deal with an administration which knows how to strike but does not know how to withdraw,” Muallem told reporters at the end of an Arab summit in Damascus.

UN officials: Syria still suspect in Hariri murder: One wishes the reporter would tell us if this official is America.

Addendum:

Cause for Concern

Ma’ariv (p. 4) by Jacky Hugi (news analysis) — Without a doubt, this was the summit of worry. Arab leaders stood up yesterday in front of millions of their people and told them of the terrible fear gnawing at their hearts. All-powerful men, who are capable of making opponents of the regime disappear as easily as they drink their morning coffee, stood on the speakers’ platform and admitted to the existence of the evil spirits hovering over their heads.

Gaddafi warned that Saddam’s fate could repeat itself in other countries because of the intolerable ease with which the Americans succeeded in removing him. Assad spoke about the “challenges,” a restrained code word for serious problems, that threaten internal security. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in general that a question mark loomed over the future of the Arabs. Every one of them knows very well how fragile his regime is, whether it is possible for a foreign power can overthrow it without even asking leave of the international community. It is obvious to them all that their brothers will not come to their aid if the invasion of Iraq should repeat itself on their own soil.

Yet when at least some of them talk about America, they are referring to Iran. After all, who can guarantee them that once Iran becomes a nuclear power, it will not want to annex, on the ground or from a distance, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait, and fill its coffers with billions of dollars? Who is willing to bet that soon Iran will not have actual control of Iraq or the sole word in Lebanon?

For many years, Israel has been guided by the aspiration of splitting the Arab world. Any alliance that came into being was considered a dangerous measure here. Today the Arab world is split, and lo and behold, this is not in the Zionist interest. The countries that met in Damascus have an interest in a weak Iran and a stable Middle East. Not coincidentally, this is an Israeli requirement as well.

These shared desires, which were well emphasized at the summit yesterday, mark an increasing trend. It is no longer everyone against Israel, but Iran and its friends against everyone else. In this division, Israel is an honorary member of the moderate camp. The Arab world is growing closer to it, seeking its advice and experience, despite the Palestinian problem or perhaps because of it.

The gloomy atmosphere in the hall in Damascus, together with Abu Mazen’s pessimistic “bulldozer speech,” succeeded in turning the absence of several important leaders into a marginal event. The host, Assad, won on points from his perspective: he succeeded in showing that it is possible to make the conference significant even without Hosni Mubarak and the Saudi Arabian king.

Comments (220)


Innocent_Criminal said:

“And at the 2006 summit in Sudan, Assad and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bickered during the meeting’s televised final session.”

i dont remember this, does anyone have a link of this?

March 30th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Joshua you can’t access SANA because there has been an attack on all the major Syrian news sites.

http://www.all4syria.biz/Details.aspx?ArticleId=8441

تعرض كثير من المواقع الالكترونية الإخبارية السورية إلى اعتداءات عديدة أوقفتها عن العمل معظم ساعات اليوم الأول لانعقاد القمة العربية .
وشهد كل من موقع وكالة الأنباء العربية السورية سانا والموقع الذي خصصته لأخبار القمة على الانترنيت توقفاً متتالياً شمل معظم ساعات اليوم إضافة للموقع الاخباري السوري الخاص (سيريا نيوز) الذي ظل متعطلاً معظم ساعات الصباح والظهيرة.

وقد أشارت الجمعية العلمية السورية للمعلوماتية في بيان صحفي لها إلى تعرض العديد من المواقع الاعلامية السورية للهجوم، الحكومية منها وغير الحكومية، الذي أسماه بيان الجمعية (هجوم إغراقي من خارج سورية غير معروف المصدر حتى الان) وأوضح البيان أن الهجوم الإغراقي يعني تعرض المخدمات المستضيفة للمواقع (وأغلبها خارج سورية) الى سيل من الطلبات الخلبية التي تهدف الى اشغال المخدمات ومنعها من الاستجابة للطلبات القادمة من المستخدمين الحقيقيين .

وإذ أشار البيان إلى محاولة الشركات المضيفة للمواقع بالتعاون مع المؤسسة العامة للاتصالات اتخاذ الاجراءات اللازمة لاعادة الخدمة الى وضع مستقر

By the way, Creative Syria was hit too. It was down for few days. Last week I received hundreds of thousands of emails, and the site was infected with a spying script.

We cleaned it.

It was fun.

March 30th, 2008, 4:55 pm

 

wizart said:

During those blackout times perhaps Syriacomment became a major source of information. Thanks Alex and Josh for your superior web hosting and maintenance skills. The presence of some Israelis might have helped2!

March 30th, 2008, 5:13 pm

 

Naji said:

In the meantime, a Haaretz headline read:

Israel’s new arms against terror: YouTube
By Guy Grimland

The government recently posted three videos related to the terror attack at Jerusalem’s Mercaz Harav Yeshiva earlier this month. It is the first time that a government body has used the site in response to a terror attack. The first film, at http://tinyurl.com/2rdrqw, features graphic and bloody footage shot inside the yeshiva in the wake of the attack, as English subtitles document an emergency call made by a yeshiva student during the attack.
Business 27/03/2008 01:56

…spaming the otherside’s websites goes along with this new “war of ideas”, I guess…!!?

March 30th, 2008, 5:27 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

If it’s some sort of a new “propaganda policy”, it’ll backfire real fast, as tens of Palestinian sites will air endless video clips of dead Palestinians, a result of IDF operations into Gaza and the West Bank. This was not a smart move, if indeed done by an official Israeli government body. Arab media has done a very good job in recent years covering the conflict up close (from their side), and it is a shame more of us can’t see that angle enough.

March 30th, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
Let’s hope these films eventually move beyond bemoaning our grievances and each other’s atrocities … and soon…!

March 30th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

check out this garbage from alarabiya.net

it never ceases to amaze how many retards are out there who would eat this shit up. http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/03/29/47611.html

March 30th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

trustquest said:

Alex, could you please elaborate why your site, Creative Syria, (which I always thought that it is neutral in its presentation), have been under attack. Do you have any clue on the reasons and who are behind these attacks? Are you considered vehicle, or a voice to the regime and that is why anti regime forces targeted you too?
I’m asking as a reader and I would like to know your views on this?

March 30th, 2008, 6:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Since there’s not much use attacking my own leadership (I’ve done enough of that recently, and it doesn’t help), let’s do a bit of that towards yours (not Canada), namely Bashar Assad. I’ve commented earlier about his display of courage, maturity, and wisdom in his speech. Assad is proving a true leader in the Arab world, much to the like and dislike of many. But putting oneself in such a position comes not only with rights and privileges, but also with responsibilities. And here are my criticisms of Bashar, via questions to you:

a) Given that the Israeli leadership is again sending “mixed messages” through the media, why doesn’t Bashar try more aggressively to call their bluff? Rather than continuing his usual mantra of “we’ve expressed our will to make peace, but they’re not interested…”, why doesn’t he try more sophisticated and powerful marketing tools? For instance, why not arrange a lengthy interview with some of the more prominent TV-journalists in the U.S. (60 minutes, etc.), whereby Bashar throws out an open invitation to Olmert either to come to Damascus immediately, or in a Sadat-style Walter Chronkite interview, ask for an Olmert invitation to Jerusalem? This is the stuff that makes Politicians shiver in their boots – the media will either hail them as heroes (Bashar), or crucify them as losers (Olmert). The media can, and does, determine policy much more often than we’d like to think.

b) What’s this “The Arab nations will re-evaluate their peace offer… based on Israel’s behavior…”? It took until the Damascus Arab Summit, in 2008, to finally warn Israel that the Arabs might start carefully watching her behavior? Where were they all these years? What will they do now, that they haven’t all this time, besides further talk and talk and talk? Their words are meaningless, if not followed by action. Just like ours, pretending to have peace as our number one priority, while we continue to show the exact opposite. Besides making everyone in the audience snicker a bit, what value did this statement have? Why can’t Assad decide what HE wants – if it’s peace, then be willing to go all the way, even as far as Sadat went. If it’s war, then the same, all the way. By continuing to play to Israel’s tune, of not here and not there, Assad’s contribution to peace is, for all practical purposes, almost meaningless. No one will doubt his verbal attempts, through many a channels. But surely he hasn’t done everything possible yet, has he?

You may end up asking me how dare I point to Bashar and say he hasn’t done enough, while my own leaders are not doing any better, or even close, to promote peace. And you’ll be right. But, I return to the opening premise – if you’re going to take a leadership role (in this case, of the peace camp), you’re going to have to often do much more than others. In the sense of pushing us all towards choosing the option of peace, Bashar is far stronger and more capable than any other leader in our region. As such, he needs to do even more. If need be, he needs to come to Jerusalem, and address every single father, mother, and child in Israel (not the Knesset and its impotent members). He needs to reach deep into our minds and hearts, and win us over, like a general would in battle. And, Alex, I believe he can do it. He’s already taken all the risks possible – he’s announced his nation’s strategic decision to make peace with the Zionist Entity. Iran, Al Qaida, you name it, could have taken care of Bashar, if they wanted to, labeling him a traitor, etc. But they didn’t, and they won’t. It’s time Bashar went all the way.

March 30th, 2008, 6:27 pm

 

Naji said:

Innocent_Criminal,
It has been a while since I last checked out alarabiya, but they seem REALLY desperate and to have sunk to new lows…!!! Unfortunately, there ARE people who eat up that crap…!

TRUSTQUEST,
Alex is our designated “regime cheerleader”, and he does a damn good job of it…! 😉

March 30th, 2008, 6:29 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
We have agreed before on the need to talk , past the governments and politicians, directly to the other side’s public (much as Nassrallah does…), but why on earth would that entail going to Jerusalem…??!! The Sadat association alone would turn anybody on this side off…

March 30th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

offended said:

I am seriously thinking about staging a protest in front of Al Arabiya offices here.

But alas, protests are not allowed, or rather they have to be licensed (a very slim chance anyway). And Abd Al Arahman Al Rashed is one connected bastard.

March 30th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

It doesn’t have to be Jerusalem. Send an invitation to Olmert to come to Damascus, openly, on CNN tomorrow morning. Believe me, Olmert will be needing “Depend” underwear (an American product…) to handle that one. But in the end, if he doesn’t take up the offer, he’ll be showing his true colors to the whole world. No one on the Israeli side will be able to say “But Syria doesn’t really mean it- it’s still supporting HA…” If Ahmedinejad invited Barak tomorrow afternoon, would the latter not go to Tehran? (well, assuming that poster with a reward on dead-or-alive was first removed… 🙂

Assad must find the way to talk to the Israeli people, as you and I so clearly agree on. It’s difficult to do via Diane Sawyer of ABC. The only thing that CAN be achieved through this channel is a blunt and historic invitation. And that should happen, as soon as humanly possible. Or, Bashar can ask to come to Tel-Aviv, to speak to the Israeli people. There will not be a single Israeli who won’t be glued to their TV sets, with tears in their eyes, if that were to happen. Believe me, Naji, I know. I was there in 1977, as an 8 year-old kid, who saw the reaction of everyone around me, as that worst-of-enemies, Sadat, walked off the plane onto Ben Gurion Airport, to come talk to Israelis about peace. Some 85% of Israelis beforehand were against the return of the Sinai (even for making peace with Egypt). Following this visit, the majority were for peace, and for the return of Egyptian territory. I’ve heard all the reasons why Bashar is not like Sadat, why Syria is not like Egypt, why Syria grass is different from Egyptian grass, etc. etc. All the excuses have been voiced. Now let’s find the similarities and, more importantly, the expected benefits such a visit would have. The effect on Israelis would be incalculable. And that’s what we need right now.

March 30th, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

Hans Morgenthau said:

WIth regards to the above posts addressing the Syrian track of the peace process, here’s an interesting piece:

Official: PM sent 20 messages of peace to Assad, but Syrian Pres. disappointed us

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dispatched some 20 messages to Syrian President Bashar Assad during the past year to better assess Syria’s intentions before the possible resumption of talks between the two countries, according to a senior minister also in the security-political cabinet.

But the same source said Assad’s responses did not meet Israeli expectations and Olmert believes that at this time it is not possible to initiate negotiations with Syria.

For his part, the Syrian president blamed Israel on Saturday for the lack of progress. “Israel has rejected all peace initiatives that have been brought before it during the past three years and has responded with massacres and construction of settlements,” he told the Arab League summit which began in Damascus on Saturday.

According to the senior Israeli minister, most efforts for contact with Syria were made through via Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but also through others, including U.S. congressmen and various European officials.

The messages to Assad included attempts to understand what the agenda of the talks between the two countries would include, and whether Assad was willing to include in the talks his country’s ties with Iran, Hezbollah and Palestinian militant organizations.

But the answers Israel received – and whose content was not made available to Haaretz – were not satisfactory for Israel, according to the senior minister.

“Each one of the envoys returned from Damascus with empty hands,” the minister said. “The sense was that Assad is captive in the hands of senior figures of the Syrian regime who are opposed to talks with Israel and are not interested in breaking off the alliance with Iran.”

Some of the foreign envoys who met with Assad said that they were surprised to see in his office, alongside photos of his dead father, photographs of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, which led them to believe that
Syria is strongly committed to an alliance with Iran and Hezbollah.

—cut—-

March 30th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Shai said:

Hans Morgenthau,

Sorry, but this article is a bunch of “Bull” (pardon my French). In 20 messages, Israel asked Bashar to give his agenda in advance, and whether he was willing to discuss doing away with Iran, HA, and Hamas? So what’s the point of talking? Why not just email one another Questions and Answers, and make peace “by correspondence”? The whole idea of peace talks is… talking. It is discovering what are the concerns of each side, and talking about these at the table, not via diplomatic cable, or Turkish messengers. It is not about asking in advance each side for its red lines, which is precisely what Israel is doing in each of its so-called 20 messages. It’s as if Bashar would ask Israel if it is willing to discuss its nuclear arsenal in advance of the peace talks… gee, what do you think Israel would say? There’s been a whole lot of “buzz” the past few days, around the Damascus Summit, which ya’ani bring up the sudden need to talk. But nothing’s changed, not on our side, and not on Syria’s. Same leaders, same declarations, same personal limitations.

March 30th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

I’m wondering which is better for the survival of the Syrian regime: the status quo, or reaching a peace agreement with Israel before settling the Palestinian problem, which entails flipping away from Iran, HA and Hamas, and complete normalization with the Jewish state.

March 30th, 2008, 7:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

Why must Syria flip in order to make peace with Israel? Why can’t it offer to have full normalization, and to gradually eliminate its military alliances with Iran/HA in parallel with Israel’s gradual withdrawal from the Golan, and progress made along the Israeli-Palestinian track? Nothing will be expected “immediately” of Israel, and Syria should likewise make the same demand vis-a-vis its own interests. As for political alliances, I can’t imagine why Syria should ever have to do away with any of them. It is in her best interest, and indeed in Israel’s, to maintain them as long as possible.

March 30th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Shai,

Step by step solutions, are very much uncertain of being implementable, as the Oslo Accords have already shown.

March 30th, 2008, 7:57 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

True, but what choice do we have? Israel won’t withdraw from the Golan over a period of 6 months, and Syria won’t dismantle her alliances in the same period either. Withdrawal from the West Bank will probably take a couple years as well, so that’s our reality. There are many spoilers along the way, so hopefully we’ll be more focused and determined this time around, than we were some 15 years ago… But we’re not even there yet – there’s still a lot left to be done to reach these stages.

March 30th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

You seem to imply that Syria is so desperate for peace that Bashar al Assad should take the initiative to ask Olmert to meet or convince the Israelis that he means no harm. I believe Israel need more the peace with their neighbours than the arabs. If the palestinians have been living 60 years under occupation, more years won’t make a difference. The urgency of peace is for Israel: The growth of the powers that vow the removal of the zionist regime and the possibility that Iraq may become another of these powers, the endangered demography of the jewish population of Israel, added to the new conscience that the IDF is not invincible anymore, all this point to the urgency of Israel for a path of peace. So I guess Olmert should be the one to invite Bashar and who should convince the palestinians that he cares for their destiny. If Bashar does what you say, he will be regarded as weak and irrelevant.
But I believe the whole Israeli administration is functionning with arrogance and old glory mentality. They attacked a syrian military site, they allegedly murdered Moghniyeh, and they claim that Olmert sent 20 messages to Bashar, whose replies we ‘disspointing’ to Israel. What arrogance, do they really expect he will reply positively when Israel is humiliating Syria with their attacks an the US , Israel ally, isolating Syria and blaming it for all its problem in the area?

The area has changed tremendously since 1948 and is becoming more organized in opposing US plans and allies in the area. When they will wake up to the realities, it maybe too late.

March 30th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

wizart said:

Prime Minister Olmert and President Bashar,

What more are you going to do this week to achieve real peace?

What do you think if you both could meet in Quneitra next Friday?

Kind of half way between the two capitals and a great place to remember the past while walking around and discussing the future.

You may hop over to the Golan for a bonding ski session afterward.

Awaiting your response here, the lemonade will be on the house 🙂

March 30th, 2008, 8:14 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Peace must be an interest of both sides, otherwise it’s not going to happen. You may be right, that the Arabs can afford to wait longer. But while they “wait”, real people with real children are going to be suffering miserably. From their point of view, they couldn’t give a you-know-what whether Israel needs peace more, or less, than they do. They want, and deserve, freedom. So while the Syrian regime may be able to wait another 50 years, the Palestinian people cannot. By the way, Israelis will never buy into your argument, because while still adopting the “victim” stance (which I find ridiculous), they are also aware of Israel’s worst-case capabilities. The real danger to Israel’s Jewish-state status is not Syrian or Iranian missiles, but rather the internal demographic changes. Still, for Arab Israelis to become a majority, many many decades will have to pass, statistically speaking. If the Arab world can wait 50-60 years, then yes, you’re right, in the end you’ll be in a far stronger position than today. But I don’t believe any of us (you, or us) can or will wait that long. We’ll either have peace in the next few years, or a miserable regional war, I believe. This “pressure-cooker” has only so much it can take, and according to all, including Bashar Assad of yesterday, we’re no longer on the verge of disaster, but indeed in the midst of one. Things can improve, but they can also quickly deteriorate. The historic perspective you’re suggesting, is probably not going to take place.

Although I believe it is a terrible mistake on Israeli leaders’ part, our arrogance can be understood, given our stronger stance. Sadat, and Hussein, and Assad (father and son), all came to the realization that Israel cannot be erased from the map, and therefore it should be accepted in this region, if it lives up to its own responsibilities. No regime will wait decades to see how things play out, certainly not in this day and age, where Islamic fundamentalism is rising faster than I can type these very words. The stability of these regimes, as of the region itself, lie in their ability to make peace, and not continue our endless state of war. I’m continuously preaching that time is not on our side, ALL of us, not only Israel.

March 30th, 2008, 8:26 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I agree with you , The failure of the leaders of Israel, Syria and the Palestinians will lead to frustration and on the long run to make what is acceptable to the Arabs now not acceptable in the future , Israel has all the cards to show that reaching a solution is her intention which from what we as Arabs see is not the case , We see Israel as using negotiation to increase it’s grab of the land and to deny the Palestinians their basic human rights that Israel would want for it’s own people.

March 30th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

Fada7etna ya zalameh! : )

Trustquest,

Creative Syria is totally neutral, true. I don’t see in it anything to offend anyone. For example, I have received an email from one of the foundations of Crown Prince Sultan of Saudi Arabia to thank me for Mideastimage.com and to ask if we can cooperate together. I was honored.

But I have been very blunt at Syria Comment… I have been very critical of Saudi regional policies, Syrian opposition, Lebanese M14, Neocons, AIPAC, seperatist Syrian kurds … so I won’t bother trying to find out who did it. I know that the IP address of whoever was FTPing the files to my server was from Italy and that the emails sent out (spying on users) was to a Russian domain.

Shai said:

Alex,

Given that the Israeli leadership is again sending “mixed messages” through the media, why doesn’t Bashar try more aggressively to call their bluff? Rather than continuing his usual mantra of “we’ve expressed our will to make peace, but they’re not interested…”,

Assad said at the summit that he and the Arabs needs to find other ways to move the peace process despite hesitation from weak Israeli governments.

There are many tactics I can think of. I hope that opening up to moderate Israelis is one of those tactics. But I have no idea.

March 30th, 2008, 10:36 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

Interesting about the spamming, I just spent Thursday, Friday cleaning my computer system out.

It will be interesting to see, the outcome of this summit. I am being pessimistic in saying that we will have more of the same.

March 30th, 2008, 10:50 pm

 

norman said:

Enlighted one,

Arab summits do not bring anything,

i just hoped that they will give the moderate until Jan/20089 to deliver on peace in the Mideast and if not ,then the moderate will give the Syria’s camp to try their plan with every body’s support.

I do not know if they can agree on this at least.

March 31st, 2008, 12:04 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman Have you read the play “Waiting for Godot”?

This is what reminds me of all Arab Summits!

March 31st, 2008, 1:26 am

 

norman said:

No , do they have on CD ?.

March 31st, 2008, 1:36 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened

The Comedy of Errors is more like it.

March 31st, 2008, 1:46 am

 

norman said:

It looks like more Syrian doctors will be leaving the country,

What a stupid law,

مجلس الشعب يقر مشروع قانون خدمة ذوي المهن الطبية

أقر مجلس الشعب في جلسته الاحد مشروع القانون الناظم لخدمة ذوي المهن الطبية ، والقاضي بضرورة ان يزاول الاطباء بكافة اختصاصاتهم والصيادلة المهنة في الريف لمدة سنتين قبل ان يحق لهم مزاولة مهنتهم في المدن.

March 31st, 2008, 1:51 am

 

Enlightened said:

QN:

What were you thinking? A slapstick variety or something more along the lines of Buffoonery?

My suggestion is if they keep waiting, they will keep waiting! stagnating etc etc etc A Real Tragicomedy!

Norman:

Google it and read

March 31st, 2008, 1:54 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

An article in Ha’aretz this morning suggests that over the past two years, members of the Israeli parliament have shown up to Knesset on less than 50% of the workdays. Things here are just so “hamdila” that they don’t even need to work hard anymore. You see, this is why Bashar needs to address us, regular Israelis, and not our so-called “leaders”.

March 31st, 2008, 6:04 am

 

Alex said:

Shai,

That was funny : )

I wish. You don’t have to work hard to convince me.

March 31st, 2008, 6:56 am

 

MSK said:

Dear all,

Does the fact that the Arab League at its Damascus Summit decided to support the Hariri Tribunal mean that Syria is (no longer) against it?

Now, if that is the case, and taking into account that Syria cannot tell its allies/friends/pickyourownterm in Lebanon what to do, wouldn’t it be a great thing if the Syrian government were to publicly state its support for the tribunal and say “We urge our brothers and sisters in Lebanon to give up their opposition to the tribunal”?

Just a thought …

–MSK*

March 31st, 2008, 7:03 am

 

Alex said:

MSK,

Many things can happen when

1) Mr. cheney is out.
2) KSA and M14 are calmer and more realistic.
3) No one is hungry for Syrian regime blood.

Until then, there is near-zero trust.

March 31st, 2008, 7:21 am

 

Naji said:

The Baton Passes to Asia
By ROGER COHEN
HONG KONG
March 31, 2008

It’s the end of the era of the white man.

I know your head is spinning. The world can feel like one of those split-screen TVs with images of a suicide bombing in Baghdad flashing, and the latest awful market news coursing along the bottom, and an ad for some stool-loosening wonder drug squeezed into a corner.

The jumble makes no sense. It just goes on, like the mindless clacking of an ice-dispenser.

On the globalized treadmill, you drop your eyes again from the screen (now showing ads for gourmet canine cuisine) to the New Yorker or Asahi Shimbun. And another bomb goes off.

There’s a lot of noise and not much signal. Everywhere there is flux and the reaction to it: the quest, sometimes violent, for national or religious identity. These alternate faces of globalization — fluidity and tribalism — define our frontier-dissolving world.

But in all the movement back and forth, basic things shift. The world exists in what Paul Saffo, a forecaster at Stanford University, calls “punctuated equilibrium.” Every now and again, an ice cap the size of Rhode Island breaks off.

The breaking sound right now is that of the end of the era of the white man.

I’d been thinking about this at Dubai airport in the middle of the night, as the latest news came in from the United States of the bloody end to the mother of all spending binges. I was watching the newly affluent from other parts of the world — Asians and Arabs principally — spend their way through the early-morning hours.

The West’s moment, I thought, is passing. Money and might are increasingly elsewhere. America’s little dose of socialism from Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson might stave off the worst but cannot halt the trend.

Then I arrived in Hong Kong. The talk was all about how U.S. economic woes could impact Chinese growth. Might it tumble to 8 from over 11 percent? And what of India, powering along with growth of a mere 8 percent or so?

The West should have such troubles! Even revised downward, these growth rates are at levels Europe and the United States can only dream of.

Decoupling — another Hong Kong buzzword — is not possible in an interlinked world: export-led Asian economies are vulnerable in some measure to U.S. troubles. But that measure dwindles as the Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese domestic markets explode.

Asian statistics can be numbing. With one third of humanity, the numbers get big. There are now 450 million cell phones in China.

But take another — the likelihood that some 300 million people will move from rural to urban India in the next 20 years — and you get a sense of the shifts underway. By 2030, India will probably overtake Japan as the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China.

But in the end, transformation is not about numbers. It’s about the mind. Come to Asia and fear drains away. It’s replaced by confidence and a burning desire to succeed. Asian business leaders are rock stars. The culture of education and achievement is fierce. China is bent on beating the U.S.A.

What you feel in Asia, said Claude Smadja, a prominent global strategist, is “a burst of energy, of new dreams, and the end of the era of Western domination and the white man.”

Hong Kong purrs. Its efficiency and high-speed airport train make New York seem third-world. All the talk of Shanghai rising and Hong Kong falling was wrong: they’re both booming. Mainland Chinese tourists come here in droves to play and spend.

I went to see Frederick Ma, Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce. He’s suave in that effortless Hong Kong way, the shrewdness wrapped in a soothing patter of bonhomie. How is it that this is the only place on earth where people think of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself?

He eased seamlessly from talk of mind-boggling infrastructure plans involving bridges and high-speed trains to a gentle lament for America.

“I am very worried about the U.S. economy right now,” he said. “When I was visiting last November, I asked a banker friend what’s going on, and she told me that a Wall Street problem was soon going to be a Main Street problem.”

Yep, it’s a Main Street problem all right when people lose their homes and realize overnight they’re illiquid and have 1930s visions as Bear Stearns goes “Poof!” in the night.

Everything passes. In the 17th century, China and India accounted for more than half the world’s economic output. After a modest interlude, the pendulum is swinging back to them at a speed the West has not grasped.

It’s the end of the era of the white man; and, before it even began in earnest, of the white woman, too.

Blog: http://www.iht.com/passages

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

March 31st, 2008, 7:50 am

 

MSK said:

Dear Alex,

I don’t understand your answer.

I was wondering if Syria is now supporting the Tribunal & you say things can happen after certain preconditions are met.

I thought my question was of the simple “yes/no” kind …

–MSK*

March 31st, 2008, 7:57 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

The arab world is booming economically, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and KSA are injecting lots of money in the arab countries close to Israel. Islamic terrorism seems to threat more Europe, the USA, Israel than the “police states” of the arab countries. Ironically, the “repressive mokhabarat” that everyone decries seem to be preventing extremist terrorist acts in some arab countries! In the absence of ‘mokhabarat” Lebanon seems to be a favorite target.
The only people that are really suffering are the palestinians in occupied land. Yet, most arab countries look at them with suspicion: the Kuwaitis will never forget/forgive how the palestinians who resided in Kuwait for decades turned against them during the Iraqi invasion. Lebanese will not forget/forgive that the palestinians they hosted for decades provoked and participated to the destructive civil war. The Jordanians will not forget the “coup” attempt by palestinians against the King. In all neigboring arab countries, palestinians are viewed with mixed feelings. Yet, the only country that do not perceive them as such is Iran. Iran has become the ‘champion’ of the palestinian cause while the arabs give it a lip service when there is some pressure from their population on the basis that the palestinians are moslem brothers. But even for Iran palestinian cause is perceived as a “moslem” question and is used as a tool against the US.
This is why I believe arab countries are not in such a hurry to come out with a peace with Israel, as they may not benefit at all, in the contrary. Since Israel will refuse the right of return, a peace deal will leave the refugees at the charge of the host country with all the problems that will come from it: Changing the religious balance in Lebanon and Syria, bearing the violence that may result from such a deal etc.. Compensations, even if Israel opens generously their pocket (which I doubt) will not be a solution, rather perceived as a bribe and corruption.
As long as the refugees are in camps, with limited rights, they can be controlled, once they become ‘citizens’ they will create more problems as they will have more rights.
Peace with Israel without the right of return is double edged. This is why I think the arab countries will drag their feet for years to come ( 50?) and ultimately Israel will cease to exist as a jewish majority state and all the cards are changed.
Securing peace for Israel is a matter of survival as a jewish state, for arabs it is not. I know you want to see the end of that for the new israeli generation to come, but it looks that it is not going to happen, arabs have no problem waiting 50 more years..

March 31st, 2008, 8:26 am

 

Joe M. said:

SHAI,
I fundamentally disagree with you on the issue of peace. the first point is that i disagree with you on what Syria should do. As much as you Israelis might think you are the center of the world, the most pressing problems Syria have today are not those of Israel (unless a war breaks out sometime soon). Further, I disagree with you in terms of the importance of the propaganda value of making some speech in Tel Aviv or Damascus (for example).

Firstly, Syria is in a position where there is no sign of movement on the Israeli/Golan issue. Why would Syria want to move on that front now when it is in such a weak position vis-a-vis Israel? Let’s be frank, and the Arab summit was a perfect example, Syria is in a weak position not only towards Israel, but also among the Arabs. You seem to be deluded when you talk about Syria in a leadership position. Maybe with the masses, but not with the power players. For Syria to be able to make greater moves diplomatically, it needs a more free hand with it’s “allies” (then it can deal with its enemies). While you talk about crying when Sadat came to Israel, he did that from a position of solidifying his position with the USA, and thus had much more flexibility. Even if Syria were to make a dramatic move toward Israel, it would not gain any regional positioning. Saudi, the USA, Lebanon, the Puppets… all have grievances against Syria that are unrelated to Israel. Those other fronts are much more pressing for Syria today. It has lived with Israeli hostility for decades. But the pressure coming from the USA, Lebanon and Saudi is at an all-time high. These are Syria’s priorities now. And it will not make moves to deal with Israel until they are in a more comfortable regional position. This, of course, will not happen until Bush is gone. So their position is strategically to wait 1 year, then depending on the president, start to make moves. This is just a fact. Further, why on earth would Syria negotiate with Israel, or make dramatic gestures to Israel, knowing full well that Olmert is the least popular leader in Israeli history? Knowing that his government is about to collapse any day? Probably it will be replaced by a more hostile Likud government, but even then the likelihood is that Obama or maybe Clinton will be the next American president (even McCain would be better for Syria, because he is less insane then Bush, but he also seems much more hostile to Saudi and Egypt, which would take the pressure off Syria), giving Syria a position of strength from which to negotiate in, say, 3 years time…

Further, like I said, regardless of their strategic position, your idea of the importance of an interview on 60 minutes, or even a big speech in the other’s country is minimal. Had it not been for Jimmy Carter, that speech would have lead absolutely no where. And let’s not forget that Sadat was rightfully gunned-down for being such a piece of garbage. While you might think of that moment as a great day for peace, most arabs see it as the first step on the destruction of the Arab cause, and the turning of arab countries info puppet dictatorships (at least before they had some sense of arab nationalism. not they are absolute American satellites…)

More, you act like it is a justified request to ask Syria to abandon Iran, Hamas/Palestine and Hizbullah. But this is totally ridiculous. While Israel is an important consideration for Syria, Iran and Hizbullah are absolutes in the Arab world. while Syria can someday make peace with Israel, relations with a racist and hostile state like Israel will never be as fundamental to the region as Syria’s relations with Lebanon, Palestine(Arabism) and Iran are/will be. Israel yearns to be part of Europe. and they might see the Arab countries as strategically important or as possible trading partners, they do not see themselves as part of the region. But Syria is integrated with these other regional partners, and will always be. so it is a stupid notion that Syria would trade its fundamental partnerships, even its identity, for a strategic relationship with a terrorist state like Israel.

Lastly, i will just emphasize that all other factors aside, there is simply no sign of a peace deal with Israel on the horizon. even the “dovish” proposals coming out of Israel include a “peace park” or only a limited withdrawal from the Golan, and ask an extreme amount from Syria. Let it be simply stated that Israel is illegally occupying Syria and Syria is doing nothing directly hostile towards the Zionists. I say this to point out that even the best conditions today don’t allow conditions that are suitable for peace. The best that Syria could expect from a grand gesture is what Puppet Abu Mazin is currently experiencing. The fact that they are having daily negotiations is absolutely useless, and in fact, is only digging the grave of Puppet Abu Mazin. Regardless of how much the leaders want to make public statements, and in the palestinians case, as much as they are pressured to make nice with their oppressors, the conditions are not right for any deal to be made. Israel and Syria can have all the “Annapolis” type high-propaganda meetings they want, but until Syria has a way to force Israel to act, Israel simply will not negotiate seriously. And negotiations simply help to paper over the crimes and violence of the Zionists. When the Zionists have all the power and cards in their hands, neither side has any reason to negotiate. In fact, it would not even be a situation where negotiations are the proper avenue. Right now there is only a situation where Israel can make concessions, and Syria has nothing to give. That is a fact. so what can they negotiate over? How pitifully and publicly Syria will beg for its land back, and for Israel to stop attacking them? This is a non-starter.

———–

Alex,
I am disappointed in you. Why would you be “honored” that Crown Prince Kharah of Saudi Arabia contacted you? I would have been disgusted. When such a disgusting “man” contacts you, it means either that he wants to buy you or that he needs you. Either way, to be involved with such a piece of garbage is a humiliation not fit for a dog. I trust that you will have no part of whatever he has in mind.

March 31st, 2008, 8:30 am

 

Naji said:

Shai,
I hope that W-D’s and Joe M’s responses were a little sobering for you…!? You may want to go back to Simo… 😉

…and I second Joe’s admonition to Alex…, but he did get a little carried away… too much coffee this morning…?! 🙁

Go Joe Go ! 😉

March 31st, 2008, 8:55 am

 

Shai said:

Joe M,

You said a lot, so I’ll try to relate to some, if not all of the points made.

First, let me tell you that I’m just as frustrated as you are. I wake up every morning watching my children’s future become less and less promising. I am ashamed of what my governments have been doing for the past half-century, I am ashamed that despite our own suffering at the hands of a racist-regime, we are demonstrating our ability to act similarly towards another people, and I am fearful of a catastrophic war that will send this entire region decades if not more into the past.

Second, let me say that you and I do agree on a few issues, if not more. Syria should not negotiate out of position of weakness. Syria should not abandon her alliances with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Syria has many other concerns besides Israel. The recent “Annapolis Photo-Op” did little if anything to help Syria and Israel. I too believe Abu Mazen is much more of a “puppet” than a true leader of the Palestinians. I think Israel should not be talking to Abu Mazen – it should talk to someone that the majority of Palestinians will stand behind – if it is Hanniyeh, fine. If it’s Maruan Bargouti, even better. But it should not be a friend of Israel. Choosing our partner for peace, arming him with guns, and providing him money and protection, is against Israel’s interest, in the short and long runs. We’re making a mistake now, and I am well aware of it.

But here’s where I disagree with you. Although Syria is amidst a real conflict within the Arab world, Bashar is nowhere near as weak as you may have him be. It is exactly his alliances with Iran/HA/Hamas that make him much stronger than some might like to believe. This is precisely why I don’t think Israel should even want to ask him to dismantle these alliances – the opposite – the stronger Syria is, the better the chances for peace. While you may think that time is in our favor, I don’t. If I thought that the status-quo is stable, that nothing terrible could suddenly erupt and plunge the entire region into a catastrophic war, then I’d say ok, let’s wait and see what happens. Let’s wait for a new administration in Washington, let’s wait for a new PM in Israel, let’s wait for Israelis to suddenly fall in love again with the Arab world, let’s wait for democracy in the ME (like AIG proposed in the past). But I truly believe that we are sitting atop a barrel of TNT, which could blow at any moment. Any of the parties involved, including Israel, Syria, Iran, but also Hamas and Hezbollah, can miscalculate and lead us into war. And if there will be a full scale regional war, historians and experts living in the West might enjoy writing, analyzing, and discussing on TV its origin, its effects, and its aftermath, but the tens of thousands (if not more) that will die as a consequence, will not be doing the same.

When I suggest that Bashar should take advantage of Israeli and Western propaganda through use of its media, I’m not claiming that he has reached the status of a Stalin in the region, equal to that of George W. Bush, and hence he can afford to do as he wishes. I know doing such a thing entails risks, including personal ones. But Bashar has already stated that Syria wants peace with Israel. Why has he done so? Why not, in fact, declare that Syria does NOT want peace with Israel, until Israel returns all the lands it occupies illegally, until it stops its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, until it behaves, and then, we’ll see. But not only Bashar has stated his wish for peace, also the entire Arab world has, in Beirut and in Riyadh. They addressed the same criminal, Israel, and suggested there were ways it could achieve recognition, normalization, and peace. And the way is withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

There are two main things Israel has to do, in order to have peace with the Arab world. First, to withdraw from the West Bank. This, as you yourself attest, is almost an impossibility right now, given the situation within the Palestinian people. The second, is to withdraw from the Golan. There is no reason for Israel not to restart talks with Syria, as strong or weak as it may be, in order to reach a settlement that will enable her to withdraw from the entire Golan. The “Park Idea”, by the way, was Syria’s! Not Israel’s. And no agreement discussed partial withdrawal of the Golan, but only a total one. The last remaining issue, and it is the toughest perhaps, is the right-of-return. Here I point to Why-Discuss and the comments he made above. There is a real problem for Israelis right now to allow for a few million Palestinians to return to their native land. It simply is an impossibility at the moment. I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that my hope is that within a generation or two, some form of United Middle East will begin to take shape, which will in essence enable a de facto right-of-return to Palestinians throughout the ME, by letting any citizen live and work in any nation he wishes to. Some mixture of the U.S. and the E.U. This may be a fantasy, and it may be completely irrelevant to our discussion now. But I don’t see a complete right-of-return taking place beforehand.

So if we put aside my delusion about the leadership role Syria can play in the region, and my overestimation of the value propaganda can play in shifting Israeli public opinion (leading to the choice of another PM), and my wrongful understanding that conditions are suitable for peace between Syria and Israel, putting all these aside, what do you suggest we do now? Suppose Israel doesn’t do what you would like it to do, will you just sit by idly? How do you propose to handle this ticking time-bomb, that could blow at any moment, with a miscalculation on any side? Should we simply trust fate, and do nothing? Should we further isolate one another, and hope the other side will “wise up”, when pressured? Is there truly no moment to seize?

March 31st, 2008, 9:24 am

 

Shai said:

Naji,

We don’t all have to agree that peace is possible. I understand the opinions of all those who disagree with me, especially when delivered respectfully.

As for their sobering effect, I haven’t had my SC-beer just yet, it’s barely noontime here… give me a chance…. 🙂

March 31st, 2008, 9:28 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

You may well be right. Perhaps you should wait 50 years or more. In the meantime, I’m not willing to succumb to this historical-patience, and I will be trying to change our future. You’re welcome to join in, even at a later stage. Otherwise just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride…

March 31st, 2008, 9:31 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,

Joe M.’s analysis is basically right, especially after the 2006 war in which Hizballah lost its ability to harm Israel. The last 20 months have been especially quiet on the northern border of Israel. The July 2006 was able to change the rules in such a way so as to render Hizballah ineffective just like the regular Arab armies. At this point in time, Syria has no cards to play and no way to pressure Israel. The Golan should therefore be used as a carrot for the democratization of Syria.

March 31st, 2008, 12:57 pm

 

Naji said:

You see, Shai…! This is where AIG’s self-consistent logic comes to advantage… somehow, in his own perverse way, he ends up close to the correct conclusions…!!

March 31st, 2008, 1:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
What is interesting Naji is that you are unwilling to do the basic things that will make Syria stronger and more equal to Israel. The very things you support make Syria weaker. Go figure.

March 31st, 2008, 1:26 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I don’t want to wait 50 years to see stability in the region but the continous greed for Oil of the USA that dictate their ME policy are continuously creating new partners and new foes and the area is bound to be shaken. Iraq’s catastrophy with millions of refugees, Iran now free from Iraq and Afghanistan and expanding its power in the ME etc.. All these are the priorities of the arabs, the palestinian problem is more yours that ours. Then don’t shell us, they shell you.
As you are besieged and threatened you tend to believe that we, arabs, are besieged and threatened. Some arabs do feel that and prefer to exile until things get better. In the meantinme western jews are encouraged to emigrate to Israel! Contrary to you, arabs who are staying do not feel threatened by a huge war, they don’t believe that the Israelis would have the guts to start such a war because it would be their own destruction. They also know that Iran has never started a war, unless it is attacked. Thus the probability of an apocalyptic war is very remote. This is why arabs tend to accept the statu quo, which is becoming unbearable to Israel.
As you mentionned, Israel will never accept millions of palestinians back and the arabs will never accept them as permanent citizens thus unless a safe haven is found for the Palestinians, the situation will go on as it is.
I guess this is why the successive israeli governemnt continue the settlements as ‘fait-accompli’ as they hope for more jews to emigrate to Israel and they continue to encourage the destruction and weakening of Lebanon as it would be the ideal place to settle the millions of Palestinians they don’t want.
Israel has no other options than continue this stategy of attrition or accept to change the status of Israel and call for a confederation with Palestine. But the mentality is such now that this idea sounds crazy: How can the ‘jews, rich and modern’ israelis would accept to deal with the ‘moslem, poor and traditional” palestinians on the same level?
That is unfortunate for the israeli population and potential jewish emigrants that are fooled into believing this country has a safe future. As AIG is claiming all the time, it has “democracy” and a booming economy, so what? It is besieged like a middle aged castle, the Israelis live in a golden prison and seem to become blind to the doom that may come in 50 years if they dont act now.
Some of them, like you, are seeing this happening but I wonder how you can start to change the entrenched feelings of most israelis that only military force and the alliance with the US can protect them from the millions of Arabs who want their “destruction”.
The present US and Israeli governement are encouraging these stupid and destructive stategies while the situation calls for creative ideas. No one seems to have any.
I don’t see much happening… in 50 years, unless a miracle.

March 31st, 2008, 1:42 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

What’s your motivation other than doing public relations for Israel?

Are you willing to admit there’s something wrong with the way Israel has been behaving since it was founded? Are you willing to commit to doing something in your life that will help correct what’s been wrong?

If so what is it?

March 31st, 2008, 1:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
My motivation is to understand better the other side’s point of view. As usual, you mistake someone stating his opninion to doing PR. By being here, I am also giving you an opportunity to show me how wrong I am. However, all you do mostly is quote Israeli sources and prove that Israel is a true democracy that criticizes itself.

Where we stand now after much discussion is thus:
We seem to agree that Syria is too weak to negotiate with Israel. But, the only way to make Syria stronger is by reform, both in the economy and political system. Paradoxically however, you are willing to delay such reforms for decades because always it seems the time is not right for them. I view this as a win-win situation for Israel. Either Syria does not reform and remains weak, or it does reform and its people will support a no-war option at the least (if not peace).

On the palestinian front, we agree that the right of return makes any solution unlikely. We also see that many Arabs such as Why are willing to let the Palestinians suffer instead of giving them rights in Arab countries.

We disagree on our outlook of the future. I can point to the last 60 years as a basis for my analysis. What is your analysis based on?

March 31st, 2008, 2:06 pm

 

Observer said:

The war on Iran has started
Please read this
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JD01Ak01.html

March 31st, 2008, 2:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
First, history has no rewind button.

Second, Israel was able to create a vibrant democracy and an hi-tech economy while having huge security issues. Would Israel have acted differently if its neigbors were Switzerland and Italy? Sure, but every action needs to be judged relative to the actual situation on the ground and not relative to some ideal. Israel has made many mistakes but given its difficult situation I doubt that any country would have done much better.

Third, I can only help you if I know what your goal is. If you come to me and say, can you help me, I have to ask first, what do you want to do? If the Palestinians want a peaceful country along side Israel, I can help them and also help myself in the process. If they want the right of return, I can’t help them. The problem is not lack of willingness to find a solution. It is agreeing on what problem the solution is for. If one person in the car wants to go to Haifa and the other to Tel-Aviv, the car is going nowhere and it is useless negotiating. A common goal must be first agreed upon, and no such goal exists in our case.

March 31st, 2008, 2:27 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

My analysis is based on the fact that you just did not answer my question! You’re abusing this democratic block by evading important questions and distorting the reality of what “we” agree on by trying to insult and intimidate those you disagree with. So this is not just con-man public relations, it’s more like trying to eliminate some and brainwash others who don’t know any better. So why not get off your high horse and criticize your own delusional multi party (no responsibility) political system and the most irresponsible country which keeps trying to fool the world by wearing a democratic uniform?

What a shame!

March 31st, 2008, 2:30 pm

 

Naji said:

You see, AIG, it has been “our” contention that this self-consistent logic you are so proud of (as if self-consistency was such a rare feat and did not include the Nazi logic in its circle) is proving ultimately self-defeating… and you are right, it is all about the prognosis…!! You read the trajectory of the past 60 years differently than “we” do, but the panic of your government and intelectuals, racing around the world asking everybody to protect you from the various EXISTENTIAL threats you describe on various occasions, may be a good guage that most of your countrymen disagree with your prognosis. The optimism and self-confidence on the other side, despite all the frustrations and self-flagelation, can also be taken as indicative of another self-consistent logic that is coming into play in your neighborhood…!!

March 31st, 2008, 2:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

Of course I answered your questions.

I have a lot of criticism for Olmert and that is why I will vote for Netanyahu. Israel is a great democracy by any measure and especially for a country at war. If you have any problem with the way Israelis vote, come to Israel and change their mind. But at least make an argument. If you think Israelis are delusional well you are just plain wrong. They are just like any other people trying to find solutions in a complex world.

The way to convince people is to show them how their interests will be served by following your advice. So far I have heard nothing constructive from you.

March 31st, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,

How was the Nazi logic self consistent? Care to explain?

Well, if you think Israel is panicking and is about to end just wait patiently. That is certainly your best strategy. To me it is the same nonsense that we have been hearing for 60 years. Your problem is that you really don’t understand what Israel is all about and therefore your analysis is always wrong.

What makes countries strong are education, technology, economy and military. In every one of these aspects Israel has room to imporve but has a huge advantage over its neighbors. You know this. I know this. Everybody know this. But for some reason Arabs like you don’t want to do anything about this. Just blame Israel instead of making improvements at home.

March 31st, 2008, 2:53 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

Who gives a hoot about who you’re going to vote for next? You have a clown show going through the motions and producing nothing but fear and destruction. Why don’t you change that system so that the government becomes more accountable to its people and makes peace.

It’s not our responsibility to educate you about your interests but if your interest lies in occupation, you better find another interest or be damned as a criminal state no matter what clown you elect next.

March 31st, 2008, 2:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

The Israeli government is accountable to the people. Netanyahu will win because more people will vote for him because they like his platform. Look, you can say the sky is green as long as you like. But it is blue. Israel is a democracy and governments reflect the will of the people. Get used to it. If you don’t like the way we vote, you can damn us, if you think that helps.

Otherwise, just wait patiently until we disappear. That is my best advice to you since you are not willing to do anything constructive like building better societies.

March 31st, 2008, 3:01 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

we’re building better societies because we’re willing to face reality the way it is not the way you wish it were. We have a much better reality based society than one who sleeps knowing they’re wrong. You sleep through manufactured illusions. We sleep knowing we’re right.

March 31st, 2008, 3:07 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

I sleep very well.

What are you right about, the 30%+ illiteracy in the Arab world?
The huge unemployment of youth? The lack of good universities? The lack of freedom speech, press and the right of assembly? To name just a few things.

What exactly are you doing right? Perhaps I am missing something. You seem to think what the Arabs are doing makes sense. Ok, you got my attention. I am interested in learning what it is.

March 31st, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

Wake up then already!

Illiteracy is not knowing how wrong you are when you sleep where you don’t belong. Unemployment is when you’re wrong despite pretending otherwise. Freedom of speech is when you don’t pretend to know everything. Right of assembly is when you assemble to make peace not continue the atrocities and pretend it doesn’t happen.

I gave you more attention than I care to dignify your country with.

March 31st, 2008, 3:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Speaking in platitudes is what many Arabs have been doing for the last 60 years and you continue this fine tradition.

You obliterate illiteracy by investing in education and not by telling people who are several generations on their land that they don’t belong. In the end, it is the same old song. You would rather blame Israel than do something constructive like building strong and successful societies.

And please, we really don’t like attention so instead of associating with people like us that are below you, I think it would be a good idea to ignore us as you suggest.

March 31st, 2008, 3:28 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

As usual, you’re preaching when you’re not sleeping.

Your public relations will continue to attract unwanted attention.

Otherwise, your air of superiority is just a nuisance and a drag.

March 31st, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,

First you promise to ignore me, then you reneg. What a pity.

I really don’t know why stating obvious facts in a discussion is interpreted as an air of superiority but there is a simple solution for you. The best way to prove to someone that he is not superior, is to do things better than him. So, why don’t you make Arab societies stronger than the Israeli one? There is no secret or magic involved. All you need to do is show some will instead of doing the useless thing which is just to blame Israel.

This is what is astounding. I am telling you exactly how to beat Israel and reach a “just” solution, and yet, you are not willing to do it. What a paradox.

March 31st, 2008, 3:50 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

There are a lot of things you don’t know and you do need constant attention. Unfortunately, we’re not a fully equipped mental blog.

March 31st, 2008, 4:06 pm

 

Alex said:

Joe M. said:

Alex,

I am disappointed in you. Why would you be “honored” that Crown Prince Kharah of Saudi Arabia contacted you? I would have been disgusted. When such a disgusting “man” contacts you, it means either that he wants to buy you or that he needs you. Either way, to be involved with such a piece of garbage is a humiliation not fit for a dog. I trust that you will have no part of whatever he has in mind.

March 31st, 2008, 8:30 am

Naji said:

…and I second Joe’s admonition to Alex…, but he did get a little carried away… too

My friends, others tried to “buy” me over the past two years. Don’t worry, it will not happen.

In this case there was nothing about politics. It was a director from al-turath who contacted me. They have the national archive of historic photos of Saudi Arabia. Here is a type of activity they engage in

http://www.al-turath.com/pdf/flayer.pdf

March 31st, 2008, 4:13 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG, Wizart,

Let’s change topics : )

March 31st, 2008, 4:14 pm

 

ausamaa said:

are we all ok? Heck guys, I bet ur talking to each other more than you talk to your family members. Aint healthy and pushes the blood pressur up at times. Wanna wind up like Junblat?

March 31st, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Thank you for the personal insult. When you lose an argument it always helps to attack the other side personally.

March 31st, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

With all due respect, you insulted many people personally already.

Still, if you felt insulted. My apologies and yours are in order.

I now give my microphone to Alex as I step out of the clinic 🙂

March 31st, 2008, 4:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
I was thanking you for the personal insult sincerely, as it made my point. You had nothing else to say. There is no need to apologize. I was not offended in the least.

March 31st, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

Alex said:

OK, AIG and Wizart.

You an exchange emails with each other if you feel like continuing this dialog.

March 31st, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

wizart said:

No thanks Alex, I’ve had enough of it.
Let him keep his opinion and I’ll keep mine.

March 31st, 2008, 4:49 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

This is the best comment on this page:

ausamaa said:

are we all ok? Heck guys, I bet ur talking to each other more than you talk to your family members.

LOL! 7elwe ya zalameh.

The second best comment on this page, for my money, is Joe’s, whether or not I agree with it.

It’s too important to ignore, so I’d like to hear my dear Syrian pro-peace friends respond to him. Don’t put the burden on Shai alone.

March 31st, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Naji said:

Moallem is giving an extended (1.5 hr) interview on ANB right now… check it out if you can…!

March 31st, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

While I’ll await to hear other views on Joe’s comment (and my subsequent response), I’d like to get your take on the following epiphany I’m suddenly experiencing (probably during the unexpected and forced break on SC, due to attackers?) When it comes to Israel, I believe commentators on SC are divided mostly into two parts:

1) Those who claim they are pro-peace (or others claim it on their behalf), but expect Israel to first change from its criminal, oppressive, occupying, ethnic cleansing self, to a truly peaceful nation, before any of the Arabs should consider normalizing relations with her.

2) Those who claim they are pro-peace, but don’t demand to first see Israel change, as a precondition to peace. Their only condition is the one addressed by the Arab Summits in Beirut and Riyadh, namely the withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

The first group, I believe, are the idealists. They are (justifiably) angry at Israel, and are not willing to constructively engage her (or her pretentious cybernauts), until she changes her ways. They are willing to wait 50 years further to see that happen, and view peace under any other circumstance as further surrendering of the Arabs to the wishes of the Zionists. Clearly, I do not find it easy, nor of particular contribution, to engage this group. My responses usually stem more out of an emotional necessity, than a rational one.

The second group, I believe, are the pragmatists. They too are (justifiably) angry at Israel, are no more forgiving than the first group, but do not see a way to progress, nor to peace, by sticking endlessly to ideals. Instead, they are willing to put aside many of the accusations, just long enough to achieve their immediate goals, and then return to constructive criticism.

Do you believe there are other main subgroups I haven’t mentioned? What do you think Israelis should do when approached by the first group? From your experience on SC, is there a chance in the world to see a change in position from one group to another, based on constructive and open discussion? What should our role be, in general, on SC? Are we trying to achieve anything? Or is this just another place to release some of our daily tension and frustrations, and if we can “dump” these on our adversary, even better? Is most of what goes on here finger-pointing and cyber-shouting, or substantive dialogue? Given the past few days, I’m not quite sure anymore, to be honest.

March 31st, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

As usual, you ask very perceptive questions.

I think your characterizations of the two groups are correct, except sometimes it feels to me like they are different ‘planets’, rather than groups.

A similar divide can be found on the issue of engaging with America/Europe. The denizens of one planet believes that the West is interested purely in domination and exploitation, and it makes absolutely no sense but to resist at all costs. The inhabitants of the second planet recognize that the West is motivated by its own interests, but also believe that engagement is not a zero-sum affair.

I think that debate between the planets, as frustrating and joyless as it sometimes can be, is always worthwhile. All you can really hope for in most cases, though, is to plant a seed and to listen to the other side.

As for what we are trying to achieve here… I don’t know. I just find it fun. 😉 I also know that people in positions of influence (diplomats, policy mavs, journalists) read SC regularly…

Shai, don’t pull an HP on me! SC only has room for one multiple-personality commentator.

March 31st, 2008, 9:18 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

No, not to worry. Though I did enjoy engaging with TOPOV as well… By the way, where is HP? I really do miss him, and am very happy to have him back. There are some tough issues we need to work out… My opposition is either willing to wait 50 years on me, claims I’m a “dreamer”, a player of good-cop/bad-cop with AIG, or outright delusional. I need HP to tell me if they’re right… 🙂

March 31st, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

The good-cop/bad-cop accusations are ludicrous, in my opinion. But they’re based on mistrust, and so they are understandable.

You may be a dreamer, but that’s also not a bad thing. People are called dreamers until they’re called visionaries (or lunatics!) And anyway, with both Olmert and Assad calling publicly for peace, I’d say that the chances are higher than they’ve ever been.

But Joe had a very strong point about Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas, and it is a point that I think is conveniently ignored sometimes. Bashar says that he wants peace with Israel, but he also counts among his strongest strategic allies a few nations/groups that are ideologically committed to the destruction of Israel. Sure, sure, we can imagine that they will be capable of tempering their rhetoric in the future, but it won’t be easy and it will take a very long time. Plus, I imagine that the temptation to call for a “comprehensive solution” will constantly threaten to derail Syria’s Golan deal… after all, these are the same arguments that have been used to argue against a Lebanon-only peace deal with Israel. “We need a comprehensive solution, a comprehensive solution…” is what we always hear, and usually from Damascus.

This ‘comprehensive solution’ talk, coupled with the destruction of Israel talk by Syria’s allies, may be insurmountable in the short term.

But you’re not delusional!

March 31st, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Joe M., taking my cues from “Chef” QN (Chef, since he has declared himself the master of the mean mulukhieh) I have read carefully your eloquent outpouring. While I am quite impressed by the fervor of your discourse, not to mention its ability to sustain a reader’s attention – probably more than any other blogger here – I can’t help but be somewhat puzzled by the workings of your intellect.

Specifically, from my modest point of view, I see that if one is willing to accept Israel as a “fait-accompli” and be willing to live in peace with it, then all this revolutionary verve and emotional intensity would normally somehow dissipate in favor of a diligent search for the practical mechanics to compensate those who have suffered for all these years, help them build a future that – while not compensating for their loss – strives to make their next generation far more successful than they have been. Besides some give-and-take for final borders and water rights and the many other details that constitute “les choses de la vie,” at the fundamental level the whole region would be ready to move beyond this extended war phase that is coming close to hitting the century mark. So I really don’t see – under such assumption of accepting Israel as a perdominantly Jewish (or Zionist, or whatever epithet one wishes to ascribe to the fact that it strives for certain basic common characteristics and beliefs of its citizens – be they religious or otherwise) country – how anyone can sustain the perpetuation of hostilities. At least I don’t see it. I don’t see how, Joe M., you would be so inspired in your dithyramic essay.

On the other hand, if one is holding to the fundamental belief that what is perceived as the “wrong” of the Jewish immigration to the area and the establishment of the state of Israel has to be reversed and that the struggle will continue until death (thawra’ thawra’ 7attal nassr), then of course any accommodation is rejected, Israel must be continually (and justifiably) attacked by any means and our anger will not subside unless and until we re-establish a single country with full return of all those who left.

Maybe this is simplistic. Or not. I see it like distilling the Physics principles from a complicated world. Those principles (with apologies to those who abhor that subject) are really quite simple. Sure when you try applying them to a real situation it can get quite complicated and elude an analytic solution (or any solution) – as in the famed many-body problem – but then without these principles and their eventual disciplined application we would not have reached the moon, nor understood the motion of our the planets, nor enjoyed communicating via cell phones or the internet or this blog.

So, to me, the fork in the road is this:
– Israel is part of the neighborhood. Let’s have peace already.
or
– Israel must the thrown into the sea. “Thawra thawra 7attal nassr.”

Elementary, Mr. Watson.

Now I have to go say a prayer that the folks who were so kind in welcoming me back don’t go cursing their kindness. But hey, you don’t choose the thoughts that come to you. Oh, and I’ll also pray that I get approval from my young master QN who admonished us to read Joe M. and relieve Shai of being the solo responder.

March 31st, 2008, 10:05 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

Thank you for your words of reassurance (on the personal side). But here are my thoughts on the issues you brought up:

1. It should be in Israel’s best interest to have peace with Syria who is friendly to Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas and is allied politically with them. Imagine Iran going nuclear. What’s better for Israel, to have Syria close to such an Iran, or against her? The issues become unclear when we discuss doing away with the military alliances. Publicly, I cannot imagine Syria would ever agree to moving away from Iran on any realm whatsoever. Privately, however, I hope she’ll assure Israel otherwise. How a future Israeli PM will “sell” this assurance to the same public that will have to vote in a national referendum Yes/No to withdrawal from the Golan, I don’t know.

2. I’m not sure the “comprehensive peace” mantra is going to be repeated in the same way when talks restart. After all, Syria has already sent messages saying it is willing to make peace even before Israel completes its withdrawals in the West Bank, and in fact even the Palestinians have given us their own “green light” to make peace with Syria. Of course, regardless of the chronology of events, Israelis need to understand that peace with the Arab world will not occur until Israel withdraws completely to the 1967 lines, and the Palestinians have achieved their most basic national aspirations.

If these are the main issues that stand in the way, I believe they are surmountable. The problem at the moment seems to be the negative influence the Washington administration has on Israel, and on the region as a whole. What an epic failure on her part, eh? I can’t imagine a worst 8 year period in recent U.S. history, in the Middle East, or elsewhere for that matter.

March 31st, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,

I agree with your analysis.

I think one important thing we can do is also classify Israeli positions and then each person can start the discussion by classifying himself. And if someone does not fit, we can add more categories. For example, the pragmatists should probably be divided into those that think peace with individual Arab countries is possible without Israeli peace with the Palestinians and those who don’t. Why don’t you manage the list?

In the end, we will have a useful and I believe finite ontology of major positions regarding the Israeli/Arab conflict. Now that will surely help understanding the conflict and will save a lot of time in discussions. That would be substantive.

March 31st, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

Shai said:

HP,

I was about to hit the sack (it’s past 1am here), and then I saw your response. Thank you again for coming back – we needed and missed your eloquent and wise comments more than you know (speaking for myself, and a few others).

While I am way too tired to respond specifically to your in-depth comment, suffice to say that I too would like it to boil down to those two choices: peace, or war. If it’s war, let’s get on with it. Let’s pay the horrific price once more (this time, probably much more than every before), let’s feel the ultimate waste of precious time and life again, and only once faced with the true consequences of war, become convinced that peace is the only sane alternative. Or, instead, let’s choose peace now, not “bukra”, now! And let’s get on with that difficult task as soon as possible. The threat of war is real, it’s not just something seen on movie screens, or heard by experts on CNN. It really can happen, it really can be catastrophic, and contrary to what some here believe, it really is dangerous to ALL the peoples of our region, not just to Israelis. So let’s all agree that apathy, and choosing neither option, is probably our worst enemy. Let’s be bold enough to go influence our future now, either through war, or peace.

March 31st, 2008, 10:22 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Second, Israel was able to create a vibrant democracy and an hi-tech economy while .

‘Transfer Israeli Arabs to Palestine’

A total of 76 percent of Israeli Jews give some degree of support to transferring Israeli Arabs to a future Palestinian state, a poll commissioned by the Knesset Channel revealed, Monday.

A vibrant democracy indeed and good example for the region or the world. Transferring own citizens – what is that called in Israel. Adolf and Josef “transferred” a plenty of their citizens.

By the way the poll article doesn’t tell would the Israeli Arabs get 20 percent of pre 67 Israel or get compensation for their properties. Probably not.

What would be the comments be if lets say 60 percent of French would support “transferring” Jewish French citizens to the Jewish state? Would we call it a Nazi state or a vibrant democracy?

having huge security issues

AIG China has also “huge security issues” in Tibet.

By the way AIG do know how Israel got those nuclear reactors and so the nukes? Well as a reward for attacking Egypt in 1956. Hmmmm a vibrant democracy with huge security risks indeed.

March 31st, 2008, 10:23 pm

 

Abu Amir said:

Enjoing your enthusiasm, and arguing about politics,while I feel that this is not an issue of black and white, democracy or any other. The real difference is between leaders who spread fear ,feed on fear and terify people – and those who have a vision, like peace, like developing the social capital of their nations.Taking responsibility. Some of you, my dear inteligent carring people, are arguing which society is more escapist and less facing the present chalenges.In our great region- we all could do better than at present moment.We need style of ledership that can inspire the best of all out traditions, roots, cultures.Like some of the wifes of leaders in our region, being involved in social action !As an Israeli,I feel that we can all do much better for our societies and for future generations. Once we touch base on this, leaders mentioned above and others,will do their best to meet our expectations.How about complementing each other instesd of competiton, we all could do better probably. So I am wishing good night to those who are not asleep yet.

March 31st, 2008, 10:23 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Simo,

Just out of curiosity, what’s your solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

If you’ve already laid it out, feel free to direct me to the comment URL.

March 31st, 2008, 10:31 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,
When you say “my dear Syrian pro-peace friends”, I assume you mean everybody… who on earth calls himself anti-peace…?!

Exactly which part of Joe’s comment do you, or can you, disagree with…??!! Point to a single paragraph that is disputable. Hell, even AIG had to agree…, but will not heed…! It sounds like our Rime is writing as Joe M.?!!

The Moallem interview turned out to be quite substantive and important… Alex better find a good source for it, says unreliable me… 😉

I think it would really do you and HP well to see that interview, it dealt extensively with Lebanese issues and questions and the Moallem revealed all kinds of little tid-bits… Couldn’t resist Zeina 🙂

March 31st, 2008, 10:37 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP,

Thanks for a typically eloquent response. I would just say one thing, in defense of Joe. I quote:

while Syria can someday make peace with Israel, relations with a racist and hostile state like Israel will never be as fundamental to the region as Syria’s relations with Lebanon, Palestine(Arabism) and Iran are/will be… so it is a stupid notion that Syria would trade its fundamental partnerships, even its identity, for a strategic relationship with a terrorist state like Israel.

My understanding is that Joe is not a rejectionist… he’s a realist. He is open to the idea that Syria will one day be at peace with Israel, but he’s not imagining that on that day, we will all wake up and Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas will have disappeared. This is to me a valid and important point, and it merits discussion.

March 31st, 2008, 10:40 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji,

When I say “pro-peace”, I mean actively advocating for peace in the short-term, by discussing actual measures like the peace park, peace canal, etc. Not just “pro-peace” in theory, which everybody is, but sometimes with conditions like waiting 50 years.

As for what I disagree with… hmmm. Not sure anymore. I’ll have to find something. 😉

March 31st, 2008, 10:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Quoting the major Israeli media again to bash Israel? Of course you are. And then you try to claim that Israeli is not a democracy.

Again, this is a poll done by Israelis and published in the J post and other Israeli papers. Let me explain it to you. The Palestinian leadership in Israel is against Israel being a Jewish state. So most Israelis ask, if there is a two state solution, and Israel is the Jewish state in the two state solution, why should the Palestinians not go to the Palestinian state? If they demand that the Jewish state not remain Jewish, then how is the solution a two state one? It looks like a one state solution.

And in case of a two state solution, the Israeli Arabs will become citizens of the Palestinian state. Why would they want to stay citizens of a Jewish state they don’t like? And if they don’t want to become citizens of the Palestinian state and won’t to demolish the Jewish state, then we say no thank you to the deal. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

As far as I can remember not one French Jew has demanded that France change it character completely from being French. If the Jews in France would demand this then 100% of the French would be for kicking them out.

Yes Simo, Israel is a vibrant democracy in a part of the world that only finds excuses not to be democratic. You can look at the sky and say it is green forever. It will not convince anyone.

March 31st, 2008, 10:55 pm

 

Naji said:

Since the arguments/questions on this blog often repeat themselves, it is very convenient that I do love quoting myself… 🙂

I will leave you with one of my previous wisdoms:

Naji said:
…everyone wants peace… it is only about how we get there…: by completely vanquishing all tyranny in the region (dictatorship, feudalism, Zionism and its mirror images in Saudi and surrounds, …etc), by completely vanquishing the other side, by accommodating all tyranny in the region, or simply by accommodating the most tenacious tyranny in its doomed folly…??!

March 31st, 2008, 11:14 pm

 

Naji said:

Another local “wisdom” says: Let he who managed to get that ass up the minaret find a way to get it back down… 😉

Good night…!

March 31st, 2008, 11:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
The ass should stay in the minaret 50 years. By that time it will be dead and gone and eaten by the worms. So why bother?

March 31st, 2008, 11:26 pm

 

Naji said:

…if you can live with stench AIG, …only if you can live with the stench… 🙁

March 31st, 2008, 11:31 pm

 

Georges said:

So….

I thought the Summit went rather well, after all. Indeed, I believe it was fairly successful, as far as Arab Summits go. I think President Assad’s speech was appropriately calm and rose above the fray. Overall, Syria put on a good show, and Assad came out of the event in a much stronger position. By insisting on holding the Summit at its scheduled time and place, without much fuss about who shows and at what level, and by refusing to give in to “ibtizaz” from the “moderate” Arabs, Syria scored well, which will translate to the post-Summit battle. Those who aimed to isolate Syria by boycotting or reducing their delegation ended up in isolation themselves. Saudi Arabia, specifically, came out with the biggest black eye. Not only did all of the Gulf states attend, but they mostly attended at the leadership level, except Bahrain (Oman’s Qaboos never attends himself). It clearly demonstrated that Saudi couldn’t even influence those sheikdoms in its own backyard who should be under its sway. The Saudis also came across, correctly and appropriately, as extensions and tools of the US…including of this bankrupt administration. I won’t even get into the Lebanese boycott, which was even more self-damaging. Siniora’s boycott was expected, and his speech was ill-conceived and ill-advised. It was ill-received even by those, in attendance, who would otherwise have been inclined to support his position.

It remains to be seen what happens after the dust settles; it can go both ways: The positive climate that the Syrians helped create may lead toward slow reconciliation, particularly that Saudi and Egyptian actions seemed unwise in retrospect. Or, on the other hand, things could get worse, as the two camps continue on the battle where they left off last week, with added intensity. We’ll see.

Personally, though I would like to see an eventual reconciliation and rapprochement with Egypt, I am no fan of acquiescing to the Saudis. I am happy to see this ‘break-up” between Syria and Saudi Arabia turn into a permanent divorce. I have always thought “Arabs” should stand more firmly against the Saudi kingdom, its “values”, agenda and influence. In Arabic, there is an expression: 3adouwon 3aqel khayron min sadeeqen jahel (A smart enemy is better than an ignorant friend). In Saudi Arabia, the entire “Arab world” has a “Sadeeq” jahel, and in this respect, Saudi Arabia is no better than an enemy; possibly worse.

March 31st, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji,

The fact that you love quoting yourself doesn’t seem to mean that you always pay attention to what you are saying.

Recently, you stated on numerous occasions (and then quoted and re-quoted yourself) that Syria is strong, indeed “stronger than ever.”

Naji said:

Isolating Syria serves to highlight its importance, and Syria is coming out of all this stronger than ever…

Naji said:

As I have said before, Syria will come out of this summit much stronger… its serious adversaries realize and accept that, but the real losers are the fools and knaves who were not able obtain their master’s permission to attend…!

I love quoting myself…

At the same time, however, you also say to me, regarding Joe’s comment:

Exactly which part of Joe’s comment do you, or can you, disagree with…??!! Point to a single paragraph that is disputable. Hell, even AIG had to agree…, but will not heed…! It sounds like our Rime is writing as Joe M.?!!

Ya Naji, one of the persistent themes of Joe’s analysis is that Syria is … weak.

He says:

Let’s be frank, and the Arab summit was a perfect example, Syria is in a weak position not only towards Israel, but also among the Arabs. You seem to be deluded when you talk about Syria in a leadership position…When the Zionists have all the power and cards in their hands, neither side has any reason to negotiate. In fact, it would not even be a situation where negotiations are the proper avenue. Right now there is only a situation where Israel can make concessions, and Syria has nothing to give. That is a fact. so what can they negotiate over? How pitifully and publicly Syria will beg for its land back, and for Israel to stop attacking them?

So which is it, ya Naji? Is Syria weak, or stronger than ever? Can’t have it both ways.

March 31st, 2008, 11:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
If the stench bothers you, take the donkey down.
We have been living with it for 60 years and are used by now. What is another 50?

April 1st, 2008, 12:02 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG,

When Dr. Bashar says:

We have to press on with our domestic reform that responds to our national and developmental requirements and is in accordance with our cultural constituents.

What do you think he’s referring to?

Shai,

Why do you suppose Dr. Bashar didn’t mention Palestinian rockets, suicide bomb attacks, or the Palestinian media (e.g. Hamas’ TV program recommending the murder of President Bush)?

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1729.htm

In the context of speaking about rights, we, in Syria, emphasize that peace can only be achieved after the return of the entire Golan to the line of June 04, 1967.

So when Dr. Bashar speaks about the possibility of peace “after” returning the Golan, what data do you have showing this would work? I have data showing the opposite.

http://www3.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070618-102233-8675r.htm

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Palestinian+terror+before+2000/Which+Came+First-+Terrorism+or+Occupation+-+Major.htm

April 1st, 2008, 12:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Georges,
Don’t worry, the reconciliation between Egypt and Syria is coming soon, once the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge of both countries.

And by the way, how do the Emirs of the Gulf States not look like US tools to you? They all have an American base or some military presence. How about Ghadafi, is he not a US tool? How about the Egyptians, aren’t they the ultimate US tool with the Israeli peace treaty? Tools, tools all around and not a fix in sight.

April 1st, 2008, 12:08 am

 

Naji said:

QN,
I am supposed to be in bed, but this one is easy: Syria is strongER…! Anyway, Syria’s weaknesses were part of the Arab weakness, and they had all put themselves in opposition to Syria for sometime, but they are coming around…! Also, Joe was obvoiusly talking from a position of “strategic” strength about a temporary tactical “weakness”… he mentioned that perhaps in a year or so conditions would be much more favorable for any such contemplations…
When Israel controls BOTH land and peace/war, what the hell does the rediculous land-for-peace dictum mean…?! But that situation is also changing…

Moreover, even if I enjoy indulging myself in nationalistic patriotism as much as the next guy, I do it fully aware of its ultimate folly…

April 1st, 2008, 12:15 am

 

norman said:

Georges,

You always seem to get it right.

April 1st, 2008, 12:28 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hmmmm…. ok Naji.

Funny how moderate positions are not so quotable.

😉

April 1st, 2008, 12:47 am

 

Joe M. said:

There are far too many comments to respond fully, but let me make some essential points.

1) I am not a rejectionist and nor am I an “idealist”. I consider myself a solid realist. I find those who talk about “actively advocating for peace in the short-term” and making “peace” treaties to be the true idealists, and also utterly unrealistic. Especially under the prevailing conditions. The problem is that Israel is so amazingly unrealistic in its objectives, but has also powerfully defined the debate. We talk in Israeli terms to such a degree that talking honestly (when it does not fit the Israeli narrative) is seen as “radical” or unrealistic. We live in an insane world. A clear way to point this out would be to reference the terms of the debate. SHAI considers him/her self to be a piecenik when he/she talks about “withdrawal to the 1967 lines.” But what is the 67 line? It is nothing, it is simply a strategic demarcation line that Israel militarily created with the 48 war. It does not signify a political line of any kind, least of which is it an internationally binding border. Considering that, why not talk about returning to the borders manifested by the partition plan? The Partition Plan is the only legal border that Israel has ever had. It is enshrined in international law and still binding. Well, the reason why we don’t talk about the Partition Plan is because Israel has defeated the Palestinian political class (not the Palestinian people) into accepting Israeli terms unconditionally. This is ridiculous.

For my part, I an in favor of a single democratic state, and i may possibly accept a bi-national state if it was a step on the stages doctrine. Considering how much AIG loves democracy, he should have no problem with a totally democratic state as the solution to the conflict. It would be possible only under that situation to conclusively “solve” the conflict. You even recognize that Israel is not content with its Arab population. You make excuses for them to leave, but they have every much right to their citizenship and rights in Israel as any random Russian Jew does. So we can reconcile these differences by realizing the national rights of both people to the same land! SHAI talks about a Middle Eastern Union, and that could possibly acceptable under the right conditions. But it will NEVER be acceptable if it is simply a means to divest Israel from the problems it created. The reason Syria and Lebanon never gave Palestinian refugees citizenship is for this exact reason, what makes you think that would be acceptable later, given that it has not been acceptable over the last 60 years?

2) Now, let me speak about the idea of “peace”. Those like SHAI or QN who think that any negotiated settlement can constitute peace is absolutely unsupportable. It was only possible for Israel to make “peace” with Egypt and Jordan because they are, as AIG knows well, very undemocratic states. yet even these cases are extremely unstable exactly because the governments are acting against the will of the people they control. So fine, it does not seem impossible to me that Puppet Abu Mazin could be forced to submit and kiss the feet of Olmert. He has done so already, only without formalizing it through a treaty. But what has happened? Hamas has an absolute majority in the Palestinian “Parliament” and the Puppet is less popular among Palestinians (who are not on his payroll) than Bush. Even with all the power of Israel, the USA and the world against Hamas, with the most cruel siege in history, and sanctions against already oppressed people, it is still impossible to ignore or delegitimize Hamas. This is not simply a matter of Hamas, but of the will of the people. Again, as AIG knows well, Hamas is powerful because it actually reflects the feeling of the people on the ground. It is possible to buy one leader here or there, you can give Puppet Abu Mazin weapons to fight against his own people and to use to maintain his own power (and maybe a “peace” treaty with Israel), but these are always fleeting as long as the essential injustices are left to fester. So, to those like SHAI and QN who think a “peace treaty” will solve the conflict, you are the idealists, those like me who are arguing for a more just peace, we are the realists. This is plain and simple.

3) Let me elaborate more about my position regarding Syria. Syria is fundamentally on solid ground, but it is in a strategically tight position at the moment. It is confronted by these major factors (in this order, from their perspective) 1) The situation in Lebanon has exposed them to massive external pressure from Saudi, Egypt (the Arab puppets) and the USA, 2) Israel is a constant problem, 3) general international “consensus” not to antagonize the USA.

From a Syrian perspective, the problem of the USA (which contributes to their problems with the Israelis and the other Arab countries, can only improve with the end of the Bush administration. So they have taken the decision to wait out Bush before they decide to make any serious moves on any front. They know that their allies are serious and fundamental allies, while the American allies are simply allies of convenience. In approximately 1 year of time Hizbullah and the others in the Lebanese opposition will likely have a majority in the Lebanese Parliament, and even the Lebanese presidency. This will largely inoculate Syria from Saudi and Egyptian pressure. Even more directly regarding Israel, the opposition in power (or, at the very least, more powerful, when they get full representation) could shift UNIFIL’s roll on the border, which would put much more pressure on Israel to have serious negotiations with Syria about the Golan. From Syria’s perspective, it has weathered the storm and all they have to do now is wait a little longer until their position is solidified. Why on earth would they negotiate now? Fine, call for peace every day if they want, but they are not about to enter into serious negotiations when they are at their weakest point, and especially when the horizon is so near. In one year the tides will have turned almost completely. And especially if Obama becomes president (who openly wants to talk to Syria and Iran. How can Europe continue to isolate them under those conditions?).
——–

So those things said, obviously, they are potential problems. The most serious of which is for Olmert to fall and Likud to take over. If that happens before Bush leaves, then I think there is a great possibility for a larger regional war. That would be amazingly sad. But even strategically, i think that would be in the favor of Syria and the popular nationalists like Hamas and Hizbullah, and vastly against the USA, Israel, Saudi, Egypt and the other puppets. Syria is on solid footing, while the other parties are standing in quicksand. Israel has the least to gain from more war with its regional neighbors, as each war further undermines the ability of Israel to become a recognized part of the region. The puppets dread any change, as they are already walking on a bed of nails.

So, honestly, for the first time in years, I am optimistic for the future. Even if it includes war, it just delegitimizes Israel and all the reactionaries and puppets. The USA is already dead in the region. Again, I personally support a one-state solution to the Israel problem, and i think this is totally legitimate and realistic. Especially when you compare it to the other option, which is Israel dominating the region and imposing its will on our heads. I don’t think people like SHAI are advocating negotiations because they are lovers of humanity and seek genuine peace, but because they recognize that they have no other choice. We Arabs are finally coming to a position of strength. It is too bad that it has come at the expense of so much blood, but that is a simple fact and i don’t see much reason to rehash it…

April 1st, 2008, 12:48 am

 

Naji said:

Anyway, QN, you found something to disagree with/question in what I said, not in what Joe said…!!? 😉

April 1st, 2008, 12:48 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I’ll let Shai answer Joe M. It is the same stuff Israel has been hearing for 60 years. Didn’t Nasser copyright this stuff? Are you sending his foundation royalties? I especially like the: “In one year the tides will have turned almost completely”

Hey Joe M., let’s talk again in one year.

April 1st, 2008, 1:03 am

 

Naji said:

Seriously, Alex, who is this Joe person…??! …and why is he not working for “us”…?! …the self-respect thing again, probably…!! 🙁

April 1st, 2008, 1:05 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joe,

If you scan my comments above you will see that I specifically called you a realist. So there’s no need to prove me wrong. I believe you.

If advocating for peace in the short term makes me an idealist by your book, then that’s fine. I will accept that. But that also makes many other Syrians on this blog (Alex, Ford Prefect, many others) “idealists”. That’s exactly why I was asking them to respond to your challenge.

The one aspect of your analysis that I disagree with is the position of Syria. Bashar has been calling for peace for a long time; indeed, that is what gives hope to many Syrians on this blog in addition to Shai. Are you saying that they are all deluded, and that Bashar doesn’t mean what he says?

If/when Hizbullah gains a majority in the Lebanese parliament, what makes you think that they will be able to change the dynamic on the border? Most supporters of Hizbullah in Lebanon (unlike those who watch and applaud from a distance) do not want to see their homes destroyed yet again in a new war with Israel. The Aounists, especially, freaked out when Nasrallah threw down his “open war” gauntlet. Hizbullah will lose just as much from another war with Israel as Israel will. I support their right to an increased voice, and securing the rights of their constituents. But the more they gain in parliament, the more they have to relinquish on the battlefield. That is what their allies will demand of them, in my opinion.

Anyway, I like what you wrote. Comments, anyone?

April 1st, 2008, 1:11 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Georges,

Nice to see you back. I responded to your long comment from last week. If you care to read it, it is here:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=636#comment-128128

April 1st, 2008, 1:16 am

 

Naji said:

Shai,

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:
“Naji,
If the stench bothers you, take the donkey down.
We have been living with it for 60 years and are used by now. What is another 50? ”

Is this the same Zionist Dream you subscribe to…??!! 🙁

April 1st, 2008, 1:26 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

I have to admit to a perhaps perverse admiration of Joe M. For some mysterious reason I detect a powerful intellect, strong will, maybe even a magnetic personality. All stemming from the flow of his prose. The form only. Because I have serious problems with the content.

Some of the expressions speak for themselves:

“And let’s not forget that Sadat was rightfully gunned-down for being such a piece of garbage.”
“Puppet Abu Mazin”
“While you might think of that moment as a great day for peace, most arabs see it as the first step on the destruction of the Arab cause, and the turning of arab countries into puppet dictatorships.”

The real fundamental issue that betrays Joe is the contradiction between the following two statements:

1- “I am not a rejectionist and nor am I an “idealist”. I consider myself a solid realist.”

and

2- “For my part, I an in favor of a single democratic state, and i may possibly accept a bi-national state if it was a step on the stages doctrine”

It seems to me that anyone who argues for (2) is indeed a rejectionist who is calling for a definitive war to settle the issue of the existence of the state of Israel. I challenge anyone with real knowledge and experience of the world in general, of Jews and of Arabs in particular to claim that any Israeli will ever accept a single-state solution. And it is precisely the knowledge that so many are persistent on wanting nothing short of this one-state solution – now or eventually – that makes Israel so rigid in accepting any peace deal that does not come with absolute guarantees of their continued existence as an independent essentially-Jewish state. The scary part is that when people like Joe — who otherwise might elicit tremendous respect and cooperation — take the position he takes, where does that leave the others? No wonder Israel is paranoid.

Now, I am not an advocate for Israel, nor do I wish to be. But let’s not pretend we want peace with Israel while saying we want to asymptotically approach a single-state solution. To Israel, this means asymptotically approaching extinction. And in case it is not obvious to the rare novice or to anyone who wants to play the devil’s advocate, simply study the population growth rates of the various groups and people in the area.

I’m sorry, but if you say you are for a one-state solution, then just fess up and tell Israel they don’t belong and they simply should go back to Europe/Ethiopia/Russia or whence they came from and fuggetubbout it.

So, you see QN, there’s more to Joe than meets the eye. I’m lucky that he spelled it out. I still like him.

April 1st, 2008, 1:27 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP said:
But let’s not pretend we want peace with Israel while saying we want to asymptotically approach a single-state solution. To Israel, this means asymptotically approaching extinction.

I’ll have to file this one away… nicely put.

If the “pro-peace” Syrians I was referring to earlier (now labeled “idealists” by Joe) do not feel up to responding to him, I understand. It would seem to be because Joe’s discourse represents a chastening kind of rhetoric, for all those who like to consider themselves devoted Arab adherents to the Palestinian cause but also yearn for some kind of solution to this very old crisis. It takes a certain kind of clarity of thought to remind people to return to their old positions, their old uncompromising intransigence.

Joe reminds people that they have to make a choice. Either risk being called a traitor and a tool, or re-commit yourself to the bloody struggle.

Alternatively, maybe people haven’t responded to him because they’re out having a good time, eating pizza, seeing a movie, in short, having a life!

😉

April 1st, 2008, 1:32 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN, the choice is between achieving happiness by bettering oneself or by ensuring that the other is so miserable that no matter how bad you are you always feel that you’re better than the other – and so should be happy. Introspection is a good thing. It’s missing from one side of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some of us of course practice introspection so much that we end up in multiple personalities;) But that’s another story.

April 1st, 2008, 1:44 am

 

JH said:

I’m sorry, I just can’t commit to this blog – I would like to note a couple of things though – and I apologise if I missed / misread some of the 102 comments above… I do nevertheless admire the participants’ commitment to communicative action (JH!) despite the sacrifices required…

1: Israel is a live democracy, but it is an ethnic democracy: the real vibrant free access to power and speech that marks it out in the region is restricted to Jewish Israeli citizens. The minority citizens of Nazareth have less access to power than the citizens of Netzeret Illit, and the line is racial. This is not a situation that is hard to explain or even defend (Israel was only founded 60 years ago), but it does limit Israel’s ability to feel and act like a democracy (remember the old democratic peace theory chestnut of the 90s?) when one in five Israeli citizens is Palestinian.

2. With regard to HP’s comment at the top of the page, the problem with the clean simplicity of science is that it has no place for the minutiae of peoples’ lives. Palestinian nationalism developed out of the rural poverty of an Ottoman backwater because peoples’ lives, with their families, and their hopes for their childrens’ education / good job / good marriage / international travel, were damaged, whether in the Military Rule inside Israel or in the refugee camps of the surrounding countries. The grim continuation of Palestinian violence is precisely because there is no hope of a holiday in Cyprus, an MA at a university in the region, or just a good safe job if you live in Gaza, Lebanon, or parts of the West Bank.

This restriction is what drives the conflict, not any reasoning from a hypothetical original position about whether one accepts the Jewish presence / state / right / narrative. Until Palestinians in the camps in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are able to enjoy the freedom to live a relatively normal life enjoyed by most Syrians, Jordanians, Jewish Israelis and even Palestinian citizens of Israel, they will keep resisting, which in most cases means fighting (the scope for non-violent pushes across the border into the Sinai is limited – I dread to imagine what would have happened if that had been tried at Erez – which is why it wasn’t).

April 1st, 2008, 1:45 am

 

JH said:

are you kidding? I missed eight comments while I was writing mine…. great.

April 1st, 2008, 1:46 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

JH – Of course you’re absolutely right about life being more than a simple science formula, and right again when you say:
“Until Palestinians in the camps in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip and West Bank are able to enjoy the freedom to live a relatively normal life enjoyed by most Syrians, Jordanians, Jewish Israelis and even Palestinian citizens of Israel, they will keep resisting, which in most cases means fighting”
But I have to ask if it is so difficult for a refugee to have a clarity of purpose and principled commitment to priorities so as to first re-establish a solid life foundation and new roots before embarking on blind armed struggle. I invoke again here the comparison with the Armenian refugees: they were not accepted because they are better looking than the Palestinians. No, they behaved in a hard-working peaceful manner integrating in the new society, respecting the laws of the host country, and leaving the political and armed struggle to a later phase when they have much more control and the ability to be effective without harming their host country.

April 1st, 2008, 1:55 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,

I have to agree with Joe M. again. These positions have been working well for the Arabs over the last 60 years. Why wouldn’t they stick to them?

Ok, maybe not, but next year everything will be completely opposite.

Seriously, I think this is the crux of the matter. If many Arabs seriously believe that time is on their side even short term, why change their strategy?

April 1st, 2008, 1:55 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG – You know my views and they’re favorable to a real peace and to a good place for Israel in the area. But at the same time I do not believe time plays in Israel’s favor either. That population pressure can only be contained so much. Remember Intifada#1, Intifiada#2? Really, as time goes by, the series is going to converge one day to the mother of all Intifadas. And it will be ugly. There are Arab countries and leaders ready to make real peace with Israel. What’s missing, as I said what seems to be eons ago, is the Israeli Sadat to transform history again.

I know you don’t agree. So why am I telling you this again?
Because I’m hoping that with repetition maybe some silent reader will actually end up doing something about it.

What will happen with time, you say? Elmentary (again!) Mr. Watson:
HA-style tactics will continue to be perfected. Hamas attacks will continue as spoilers of any hope for a peace agreement with Fatah. Chaos will continue. Sure Israel may keep thriving, but ask the relatives of the Israeli victims what they think. Then factor the changing dynamic worldwide. If folks like Joe M. are the norm, Oh Boy… These guys are not dummies.

So what am I saying? Vote for Bibi and have HIM be the new Sadat. Only someone with his level of credibility within Israel as far as guaranteeing Israel’s security can actually deliver on a peace agreement.

Good Luck!

April 1st, 2008, 2:06 am

 

Naji said:

You guys are keeping me up now…!

HP, You are an honest man, but you seem to be ignoring the power of transformation. During my life-time I have seen some transformations that I remember all found totally improbable or perfect for a never-achievable utopia, but, lo and behold, they happened almost over-night…! Remember South Africa, Spain, Eastern Europe, the USA (several times… that’s what makes it the leader…!), Hong Kong, …even south America and Russia, ….and many more I cannot think of at 3:30 am….!!???

A few weeks ago, on BBC’s HardTalk, Daniel Barenboim, after being pressed by the host, relinquished that there will probably have to be two states for now, but insisted that there will never be peace “until both Palestinians and Israelis live in the DIGNITY they each deserve.”

Obama’s foreign policy doctrine, which I highly recommend for everyone’s close examination, moves from the, perhaps well-intentioned but misguided, neo-con doctrine of “Democracy Promotion” to the much more meaningful and realistic doctrine of “DIGNITY promotion”. Obama is not simply some messiah from beyond, but represents an American (and universal) re-examination and transformation that does provide cause for hope (and prove that America will continue to lead our race for some time to come…!)… The audacity of hope, indeed…!

Have some faith, my Honest comPatriot…, have some hope…! 🙂

April 1st, 2008, 2:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

lol JH… the comments are overwhelming you, huh?

surely you have nothing better to do though?

😉

April 1st, 2008, 2:10 am

 

JH said:

HP – thanks for the reply, but:

It is difficult – too difficult, and too much to expect.

Lebanon prohibits Palestinians from working in over 70 professions, and from owning any property outside camp boundaries. The camp I knew best, Nahr al-Bared, was razed to the ground quite recently. I don’t know much about Armenian refugees, but it strikes me that their situation in host countries was different – they are certainly in a better position than the Palestinians in Lebanon. In Gaza, it is very hard to export anything you make – I bought a table carved by deaf NGO workers, and nearly got stuck in the Erez checkpoint metal turnstiles trying to heave it through.

I, as an international passport holder, can think about principled commitments to hypothetical futures, but no-one is damaging my life on a daily basis. If they were, I wouldn’t want my right to resist to be compromised: no-one told Churchill that the English should think about potential accommodations when he was roaring about fighting them on the beaches.

I’m not supporting violence here, I’m just saying that our imagined histories in Europe have a great deal of standing up and fighting back in them, and it is unrealistic to expect other people to make choices and sacrifices that we did not. Imagine Martians flying in during World War Two and telling Europe to sit down and discuss things calmly – “hard choices have to be made by both sides here” / “it’s not a zero-sum game” / “Let’s avoid “blind armed struggle””…

This sounds realist, but a part of me does want Netenyahu to stand up and lead like Mandela. Will he, like, next Knesset? Really?

April 1st, 2008, 2:21 am

 

Naji said:

Here is part of the Roger Cohen piece I quoted earlier (above):

“There’s a lot of noise and not much signal. Everywhere there is flux and the reaction to it: the quest, sometimes violent, for national or religious identity. These alternate faces of globalization — fluidity and tribalism — define our frontier-dissolving world.

But in all the movement back and forth, basic things shift. The world exists in what Paul Saffo, a forecaster at Stanford University, calls “punctuated equilibrium.” Every now and again, an ice cap the size of Rhode Island breaks off.”

Apparently, not only do I love quoting myself, but also quoting what I had already quoted previously…!!? 🙂

Have some hope, friends…! Dare to hope…!

April 1st, 2008, 3:09 am

 

Joe M. said:

Just to clarify myself, because obviously AIG didn’t catch it, I do not think the entire conflict will be different next year. Obviously it will not. But i do think that Syria’s strategic position will be radically different. Right now it holds no cards, in one year it will be solidly holding many.

And, the reason i consider myself a realist is precisely because i don’t see any solution to any of the problems any time soon. I am not so idealist to believe that empowering a puppet or forcing another Oslo type useless “peace deal” will accomplish anything.

I don’t expect a single-state solution to happen tomorrow. But even Olmert knows, and repeats, that his biggest fear is that the Arabs adopt Qadaffi’s plan. Well, I am very confident that the time will come soon enough when the Palestinians recognize that their independence and Israel’s are mutually exclusive. At that point there will be a fundamental change in their tactics. Especially if one of the other major puppet governments (like, say egypt) takes an (at least) independent stand against the USA. That is bound to happen some time. And time is on the side of the Arabs. We will suffer, no doubt, but the balance of forces in ultimately in our favor.

I will try to respond to other comments later.

April 1st, 2008, 4:04 am

 

Naji said:

And now, I quote our Simo-Hero:
“What would be the comments be if lets say 60 percent of French would support “transferring” Jewish French citizens to the Jewish state? Would we call it a Nazi state or a vibrant democracy?”
____

Should we as “peace lovers” be accomodating all, or any, of our regional tyrannies; or should we be, at least, attempting to transform them all…??!!

April 1st, 2008, 4:08 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
I believe people like Joe M. are the norm. That is why Israel has been successful these last 60 years. There is only one way the Arabs can beat Israel. That is by becoming a technologically advanced and economically strong cohesive societies. However, this requires accountability and therefore democratization. All the dictators can deliver are failed or backward states. So Israel is in a win-win situation. Either the Arabs remain as they are and keep losing or they democratize and then the appetite for war will disappear (there will not be peace, but there will not be war).

April 1st, 2008, 4:26 am

 

Joe M. said:

QN,
to specifically answer your two questions:

1)I think that Hizbullah officially in power will change the nature of situation at the border and the role of UNIFIL by definition. Not because they will specifically take any actions that are more aggressive. Israel will not accept Hizbullah having direct control over the Lebanese military, and will instantly trumpet (whether true or not) charges of the Lebanese state is participating in reinforcing Hizbullah positions and weapons. The Lebanese army currently has more troops in the South than UNIFIL does. So, i think that even without any changes in actual policy, Hizbullah in power (especially if they have the Parliament and the presidency) will automatically create increased hostility with Israel, and thus strengthen Syria’s position towards Golan (and Israel).

2) As for the “idealist” v. “realist” and the question of being called a traitor/taking up arms. I am doing none of that. I present myself as a realist and those like yourself as idealists because your tactics have failed yet you keep believing in them, even as those like you are increasingly humiliated by how far you are made to compromise. Just look at the progression of the Puppet Abu Mazin. He has gone from a respectable human being, to an absolute shell of a man. Every day he is begging as Israel humiliates him further. At this point i can’t tell whether he is begging for more humiliation or for peace, his view of “peace” v. humiliation are now totally indistinguishable. So, if he even believes in the Palestinian cause anymore (which is a true question) how can you call him anything but an absolute idealist. the most radical kind really.

But when you say, “Joe reminds people that they have to make a choice. Either risk being called a traitor and a tool, or re-commit yourself to the bloody struggle.” I think you are misrepresenting my position. As I said, I am advocating democracy, not necessarily armed struggle. You must remember that Israel is the one causing this conflict to be violent and that the occupation is inherently violent, and it is so regardless of whether those advocating Palestinian rights are doing so violently or non-violently. So I will just say that i don’t think there is such an absolute dichotomy between peace and violence. And the Puppet Abu Mazin is a traitor (it is true), but it is not because he advocates compromise or peace talks, but because he no longer advocates the rights of Palestinians. Maybe he has lived in embassies too long, or that he is drunk on power and negotiations, or maybe he just likes what he is doing… I am not trying to explain his motivations… but he is a traitor because he is more willing to repress his people for Israel and the USA (look no further than the Gaza siege) then to defend them and their rights (even to basics, like food and water…). That is absolutely unacceptable under any conditions and i doubt anyone will disagree!

April 1st, 2008, 4:58 am

 

Shai said:

Joe M.,

If I recall, it is the Syrian leadership that has been calling for peace with Israel for the past 3-4 years, nonstop, through every possible channel. Not the Israelis who want to empower or force Syria into another Oslo useless “peace deal” (quoting you). If you ask Israeli leaders if they want peace with Syria right now, they’ll say NO, not until an entire set of preconditions are met (which I of course think are spoilers to the whole idea). So let’s not pretend like Israel is trying to make Syria its puppet. Most in my country are NOT interested in peace with you at the moment.

Similarly, the demand for withdrawal to the 1967 lines was not Israel’s, it was the Arab world’s! See Beirut and Riyadh Arab Summits. Every single member nation signed those proposals, calling on Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, in return for recognition, normalization, and peace. If it was up to Israel, we’d offer NO withdrawal in return for peace. You seem to be putting a little too much of the blame on Israel, not fully recognizing whose stance is whose. Likewise, the “Peace Park” idea was brought up by Syria, not Israel! You might be confusing Israel for Shai-the-idealist, thinking that we’re trying to trick you all into some kind of peace favorable to Israel under our conditions. Actually, it’s the other way around my friend. No Israeli wants to leave the Golan, myself included. It’s a beautiful place, and Israelis have done unbelievable things with it over the past 30 years. Abe Soliman, who visited the place, can tell you. But despite the fact that no Israeli wants to leave the Golan, some of us (not most) recognize that it is not our land, that it belongs to Syria, and that in order to have peace one day, we need to give it back. It’s so simple, elementary, that any 3rd-grader can understand it, yet most of us can’t.

Our innate hatred, suspicion, and distrust towards the Arabs, and as you yourself demonstrate, vice-versa, cause most of us Jews and Arabs to be incapable of seeing a different era forming tomorrow morning. This new era does not begin with reconciliation, hugs, kisses, and love. It begins with superficial peace treaties, with very real withdrawals from occupied territories, and with the laborious task of rebuilding our region and our societies, together, not separately. We’ve tried forging a peaceful life over the past 60 years, all of us, not just Israelis. And we’ve failed. Not because we’re incapable of it, but because we’ve all submitted to the irrational and purely emotional cycle of fear-hatred-force. This cycle caused us to commit crimes beyond understanding, to fight useless wars, to dehumanize one another, indeed to destroy each other’s dreams and hopes. Obviously, responsibility isn’t shared equally amongst the parties. I’m the last Israeli to say you’re equally at fault. I’m the first Israeli to take full responsibility for my people’s behavior over the past 60 years, and I’m willing to do so.

Joe M., it is clear to me that you’re a true intellectual. That you care about your people and their plight more than about yourself. You demonstrate the most worthy and admirable characteristics, and indeed you bring pride to the Arab people. But, as such, you ARE a leader. And as a leader, you get not only rights, privileges, and honor, but also responsibility. You, Joe. M, need to tell your people what comes next. You need to tell them how you plan to get them out of this miserable present, and onto a better future. You need to lay out your own plan for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. But all these have to be, as you called it, “solidly realistic”. If you believe Syria should not negotiate now, and await a year or so to be in a more solid position, I’d say let’s do it. No less than you, believe it or not, I am also interested in a strong Syria. The stronger Syria is, the stronger our peace will be. But if you speak of a one-state solution in the next 10-15 years, I’d say you must recheck yourself, and especially in view of near 100% consensus in Israel against such a possibility.

My dream of a UME (and not one where Israel gets “her version” of such a united region) is not shared by most Israelis because, unfortunately, most Israelis like most Arabs, cannot see beyond today or latest tomorrow morning. I know Arabs far better than most Israelis do, and I know that we are far closer to one another (in almost every sense, historically, culturally, cognitively, emotionally, you name it) than to the Europeans or Americans. I know some of the readers here disagree with me, but I believe it is mostly out of not knowing Arabs and Jews as well as I do. I’ve been fortunate enough to have years of interaction with both. You, as a leader, must also address this issue, as you began to in your last comment. If a one-state solution is not possible in the next 10-15 years, then isn’t a two-state solution better than a no-solution? Let’s put aside my “idealistic” UME, and focus pragmatically on helping the Palestinians achieve their god-given right to independence, to freedom, and their own nation. Like some here suggest, can the Palestinians truly afford another 50 years of waiting? I don’t think they can afford another 5 months of waiting, and neither can any of us. There is an even more-terrifying alternative to the status-quo, and it is full scale regional war, that could indeed become catastrophic. And if that happens, will any of us be able to look ourselves in the mirror, and say “It was worth it, for the long run!”?

Lastly, Joe M., please do not misunderstand me. While I may be an “idealist” in my belief that peace is better than war, I am also realistic enough to admit that Israel should not occupy Arab lands. I think we have brought upon ourselves, and upon the region, the most terrible half century because we’ve misinterpreted one another, because we suspected and distrusted one another, and because we all too often feared taking a chance. Today, when Israel is far stronger than the Jewish people have ever been in their entire history, is the time to take these chances, and finally seize the opportunities at hand. I don’t think we should be talking to Abu Mazen (the “puppet”), but we should be talking to Bashar, and the rest of the Arab world. We should withdraw to the 1967 lines, not because we’re weak and are getting weaker, but because we’re strong, and can afford to withdraw. You may not believe it, but some of us really are “lovers of humanity, and seek genuine peace”. It’s not all cold calculations. Some of it is also sincere. We always have a choice, we don’t have to choose peace.

April 1st, 2008, 5:24 am

 

Zenobia said:

there has always been more to Joe M. and his comments than meets the eye….

April 1st, 2008, 6:02 am

 

Abu Amir said:

Shai, I fully agree with your estimate of the supremacy of the Israel technology and military might – and this seems to be the trend for quite some time allready.
That should give Israel the strenght AND confidence for facing reality and for realising that many of our societies in this region, Israel included, needs healing.And peace can be made only among the strong,among leaders with confidence to overcome the inside turmoils.We are getting closer to this times -why should we give up on hopes of better quality of life for all sides ? One can chose vision and remain realistic.
Our “pacience” needs to be combined with this urge for assuring better quality of life.

If people from Mars would have visited during the WW2, NO ONE WOULD HAVE guessed that today the border between England,Germany and France is open. Life may be simple.Many people in Israel are longing to visit Sirya,and THERE IS A LOT FOR US TO LEARN FROM YOU AND EACH OTHER. I apreciate very much the generosity how people opened their hearts and gave shelter to refugees from Irak. I AM MORE IMPRESSED BY THAT AND THE CULTURE than a potential to build military might and be another bully in a not win-win game, so far.

April 1st, 2008, 7:01 am

 

Zenobia said:

Joe is right.
he is often right.
but, HP is also right about the things Joe is not so right about.
not that he is not right….but … he is not so much of a realist…in these regards.

after all… Joe, if you think we can have a bi-national state… that…is pretty idealist.
I like the idea too. but realistic? i think not. it was advocated for by many Israelis at the time of independence – and still some believe in that, but… i would say quite early on.. by the time of the 48 war – there was no going back. And most Israelis realized this was not going to be realistic possibility. This is the fault of everyone, arabs and jews alike… they messed it up too early to go back.

and th 1967 lines may be arbitrary to you… but in terms of realism they are very relevant. The borders of Partition might be the most internationally legal – but if it had ever been clear that these would be final borders, probably most soon to be Israelis would have fought to refuse partition (many many were against it for precisely this reason)until they had acquired more land. So, it was always assumed that Israel would continue to expand its borders, and they continued to do so…even before the 1948 war officially started.
but I think there is something to be said for the fact that Israel was attacked by the Arab world in 1948. Perhaps for good reason in the Arabs eyes… but she was. And she responded without knowing if she would win that war. And the outcome was what it was. but the land acquired did not belong to some other state.

To me, although i am no war historian or international law expert, there was some difference from the point of the 1967 war. At that time- the west bank officially belonged to Jordan. It wasn’t up for grabs. and the Golan certainly wasn’t. and part of Egypt wasn’t. And I believe that Israel went on the offensive and fired the first shot so to speak because she thought she was going to be attacked and felt she had better get in the first lick. At this time there were actual borders to recognized states broken… and the actions more recognized as offensive..in all terms. There was already a massive refugee problem, now made worse. and this was an official occupation from that point on – of the West Bank.
I don’t think that was the case in the territory acquired in 1948- even if one can decry forced transfer of people or chasing them out of the country.

does any of this matter?
i am not sure.
but i believe that a realist would say that demanding that Israel retreat to the pre-67 lines may be achieved to some degree…
there is a shot at that… although it is not working out very well so far… as we can see.
However, thinking that you could go back to an even smaller Israeli state or a bi-national state is just not a possibility and to entertain it… would distract one from reaching for what is attainable and fairly well accepted by the world as a realistic demand.
I also find the ‘right of return’ distracting as more than an abstract principle. sort of like demanding recognition of “Israel’s right to exist”.
We should just trade these two things..for each other. The Palestinians can declare Israel’s right to exist for the Israeli’s declaration of the Palestinian’s right of return.
But the reality is that a right to exist doesn’t mean you get to have all the land and water you want.
And a right of return realistically does not mean that you actually get to return.
I think the most you get with your right of return is the idea that the violation and withholding of the actual return, entitles one to compensation and redress for the lack of actual ability to return.

but…as for all else… I am for Joe. Joe knows. … or at least he sounds like he knows…. as HP figured out…

April 1st, 2008, 7:19 am

 

Joe M. said:

SHAI,

Even though I really must get off the computer, I am compelled to respond to your last comment. I will try to be more complete later.

But I think you really need to get a grip on reality and get over yourself. What you are saying is totally senseless. WHat are you asking exactly? What are you saying? This is my interpretation:

You are making an emotional plea to me to settle my differences with Israel and try to compromise for the sake of peace. And you are skilled enough of a writer to bury the absurdity of your request deeply inside your comments. Let me make it absolutely clear to you how ridiculous you sound. You are, more or less, asking me to reconcile the fact that I have family members living on every continent (except Antarctica), some in wealth and some in poverty, from Costa Rica to Australia… with the fact that Russian Neo-Nazis have a right to live in my home town just because they are “Jewish”. You are asking me to make that reconciliation. Forget the history of how some got to Costa Rica and some got to Australia, I am not talking about history now. But this is the fact of the conflict.

Further, you are asking that I ignore the phone when my cousin calls me from Gaza asking if there is anything that i can do to get money to their family. Again, I am not talking about history, and i am not saying this to elicit sympathy. I am speaking of what the conflict is. These are not problems of my making, and they are not problems any Palestinians have the ability to solve. These are problems of Israel that only Israel can change.

You may have more relationships with Arabs than most Israelis do, but you still don’t seem to understand the conflict very well. You can beg me all day to understand your position, or to try to be flexible for peace… whatever you want… but that is irrelevant. We are not fighting about ideologies here. There are very few “idealists” left among the Palestinian people. We are all realists. Because we can’t afford to be otherwise. And we are not the ones dictating the terms of this debate. In all the years since 1947, we have yet to draw a dividing line. So, again, it is a total absurdity for you to waste your words on me.

And I will not respond to empty rhetoric that i have heard 1000 times before. I have nothing to say to Israel. It is the Zionists move, not the Palestinians. In the mean time, I will support those Palestinians and Arabs who are doing the most to advocate for our cause. If Israel was interested in peace or justice, i would be more than willing to accommodate, but this is simply not the case. You admit as much when you talk about the lack of willingness in Israel to give up the Golan, which you yourself say is so clear a third grade child can understand. So how can you argue for me to be flexible? How flexible exactly? How peaceful? Maybe you think Palestinians should support non-violence? Ok, in some cases I agree and in others I do not. But, say I decide on non-violence, when is Israel going to give up its army? That is essentially what the white South Africans did, they gave up their entire army, their entire state. is that possible in the case of Israel? I highly doubt it. The Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are under constant threat from the Zionists, they are constantly warned that they will be expelled (so called “transfer”) and they have lived unequally as second class citizens in total peace with the state that destroyed their history and families. If Israel can’t even tolerate them, how can we to tolerance for those less fortunate, who have less to lose and more need for justice?

What I mean is, violence or non-violence… i am not advocating a position right now. What I am saying is that either way it is not in our hands. Even if we were saints we are still excluded from the Zionist ideology. When a Palestinian refugee has the same right to their former home as a Jewish Neo-Nazi, then I will be willing to jump through fire for peace. But until then I will support whichever method of liberation seems most promising. The methods change as do the seasons. Currently i see no hope for negotiations.

April 1st, 2008, 7:26 am

 

Zenobia said:

up until he doesn’t sound like he knows….cause he blows his cool… : )

see. how can you have a bi-national state, Joe. You can barely stand conversing with SHAI!!!! FOR GODSAKES… cause..he is about as good as it gets I am afraid to tell you…

and actually, i didn’t see anything either explicit or buried deeply in Shai’s comment about how you should “compromise for the sake of peace” and definitely didn’t hear him lend support for ‘russian neo-nazis’ living in your ancestoral home town.

so, realistically… is Joe going to go to Israel and become an Israeli? and live peaceably? (especially when he encounters the ‘russian neo-nazis’)… i think not.

April 1st, 2008, 7:38 am

 

kamali said:

Unfortunately what AIG is saying is true and to be proud of his country is also understandable. in the case of Wizard, i am not sure if he is syrian or not but i can tell you, my friend, that at least when we can freely and openly discuss and debate like this INSIDE syria without the fear in our hearts, then we can have the inner strength to express our disappearing identity behind the piles of corruption disguised in the shape of castle for arab steadfastness and silliness. sorry.

April 1st, 2008, 7:56 am

 

Shai said:

Joe M.,

Thank you for responding to my last comment. I’m sorry you find my suggestions absurd and senseless. Most people that hear me haven’t responded that way, though they may be wrong. But I do think that you’re preaching to the choir. I am not making emotional pleas to you, nor am I asking you for any flexibility. In fact, I’m asking absolutely nothing of you. Not because I don’t value your opinion, nor disagree with much of what you say. It is because I realize that the most basic difference between us is not about the “what” (content), but about the “how”. If you’d have the chance to read some of my many comments about my feelings towards the crimes my people have and are committing as I type these difficult words, you’d know that I’m much more on “your side” than you might otherwise think. Does that help you any? No, of course not. But there’s little I can do on this forum that would help you, or me, beyond stating my beliefs and my intent on passing them along not only to fellow Arabs in the region (so that they will “like” me better), but indeed to Israelis, and in particular to decision-making ones.

Our difference lies in the “how”, as I said. You claim (correctly), that it is not the Palestinians that have to show good will, or acceptance, or to reconcile with us Israelis. I agree with that completely. I’m not asking for any of those. Likewise with Syria. I’m not asking for forgiveness, for understanding, or for help. I am also not asking you, as a Palestinian or as an Arab, to give up on your hopes, and on justice. I am asking you, to place some of those demands aside, just long enough to enable peace to happen. Peace is not reconciliation. It isn’t forgiveness, nor acceptance of the crimes that have been committed. It is merely a decision to end the option of war, and to begin a transformation of all that is wrong, together. By continuing to call for unrealistic options (the one-state solution, etc.), you are contributing to the (justified or unjustified) fears most Israelis have at the moment. By continuing to list every type of crime we Israelis are committing, you are not making peace a greater likelihood, but rather a lesser one. We cannot address justice right now, not much beyond the physical departure from the West Bank and the Golan. Everything else will have to come slowly, and only after Jews and Arabs begin to trust one another. Remember, it’s not only your side that fears and hates and distrusts Israelis, it is also ours that feel the same towards you. You can choose to ignore that, and continue to use rhetoric aimed mostly at innate-supporters on the Arab side, and that’s of course legitimate. But if you do wish to influence change in our region, you’ll also have to address your enemy, and you’ll have to do so wisely. This advice is true for all the sides concerned: Now is not the time to be right, now is the time to be smart.

If you have nothing to say to Israel, that’s fine. But a shame, I believe.

April 1st, 2008, 8:06 am

 

Joe M. said:

SHAI,

Essentially, you are asking the beggar for his last pennies. Do you understand that?

Zenobia,
I fight with SHAI because I enjoy the conversation. I think SHAI is on the right track, but lacks one fundamental understanding. I express my views, and strongly, because i think it is most clear that way.

As for the one-state solution, I hold exactly the same position of the great Edward Said. And, honestly, unlike Americans who are afraid of disagreements, I enjoy them. I think SHAI does too, at least he/she supports them diplomatically (strong syria…). Plus, I do not think a democratic Israel would be a paradise, but what are we comparing it to, what’s the alternative? To Gaza under siege? To OSLO? Even if these idiot politicians were to manage some piecemeal “settlement”, I hardly think it could last without addressing the fundamental issues more conclusively than we have yet seen. The next peace treaty may hold for a few years, just as Oslo did, but there is no sign of movement to fundamentally solve the essence of the conflict (which is that competing people have competing identities and claims to the same land). As creative as negotiators may be (with their Area A, B, C, Blue line, Green Line, White Line, internationalization, peace keepers, strategic ambiguity… blah blah…) no carved up deal can fundamentally fix this conflict.

and anyway, I don’t need to sleep on SHAI’s guest bed, all I ask is for equal rights.

April 1st, 2008, 8:07 am

 

Shai said:

Joe M.,

First, I’m a “he”. Second, I hope you, your family, and all Palestinians in our region will have equal rights, whether inside Israel or in your own free and independent Palestine. I am ready to do a lot to make that reality happen. But it would be nice to feel “some support”, every now and then, by people like yourself. Once we see that we are in agreement on 90% of our beliefs, let us discuss the ways to move forward, rather than endlessly verbal-spray each other about the other 10%.

April 1st, 2008, 8:16 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

If any Isreali high officials uses the world “CONFEDERATION” that would include Israel and Palestine, that could be the Sesame to starting serious negotiations. But as long as Isreal wants to hold to their difference, religious, ethnical and social to the exclusion of the others, there is no chance whatsoever despite the “genious” of Condie Rice and subsequent US and Isreal admin that any peace deal will happen.
But presenting the area as a future Confederation where the palestinians now rotting in camps and in Gaza can benefit and contribute to the ‘economical success” of Isreal and vice-versa, only then they may be lured into accepting compromises. The humiliating ‘financial compensation’ proposed by Bush and hinted by Israel will never work. Would the Israelis accept a compensation to return to Germany or Poland? If you feel you need to do something
to contribute to a breakthrough, maybe you should ask your leaders to announce and commit a future Confederation with Palestinians whose first steps would be cease-fires. Hamas has proposed the cease fire, that was rejected by Israel, so maybe they would buy this one and it could be a first steps to engage on the Confederation planning.
The question would be : Are the Isrealis pragmatic enough to see that this is they way out of isolation? Or would they be holding on their fear and the tough talks and acts they have been used to with arabs?
If Israelis prefers to continue with arrogance and fear to hold on their jewishness, their money, the stolen lands, then forget it: we will wait 50 more years and they will be obliged to come back to their senses.

April 1st, 2008, 8:53 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Actually, your idea of a confederation is very interesting. It may indeed help tremendously in building confidence just enough to make peace, but also in practically and directly contributing to the rebuilding of the Palestinian society. The tough issue of the Palestinian refugees throughout the region remains, though, and must be worked out to the satisfaction (or compromise) of both sides. What do you suggest, knowing the concerns in Israel for incorporating millions of Palestinians back into Israel? Is it possible to find an acceptable solution that leaves all these refugees in their “host” nations? By the way, although Germany and Poland would certainly accept former Jewish citizens back, if they chose it, for the past half-century, Jews that were expelled and survived the Holocaust, have been receiving financial compensation from Germany (not from Poland, as far as I know). My own family’s lands were confiscated in Poland, never to be returned. No compensation was ever received by my grandmother, the only survivor out of 12 brothers and sisters. But at least she had her own nation, unlike all the Palestinian refugees. I don’t know what solution they would accept. Do you?

April 1st, 2008, 9:16 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I meant that no Israeli will be bought to go back to Poland or Russia. Isrealis prefer to stay on their newly acquired land in Israel. The same way as many palestinians would want their land back and would not accept money as a substitute.
The ‘host countries’ have dealt differently with palestinian refugees. Lebanon has naturalized most Christians Palestinians of a certain level of education after 1948. These will not go back, they will accept money as most of them now live in the West. Syria has given to the palestinians in their country enough rights to make them part of the society but have not given them the citizenship.
I have doubts syria will give them citizenship as it remains suspicious about the palestininans aims in their countries. ( as I mentionned before, the palestinians are perceived as trouble makers, as they are themselves ideologically divided)
The most difficult is Lebanon. Palestinians have been kept in camps with minimal rights because of the religious balance between Christians and Moslems, lebanese would totally object to have to naturalize the palestinians from the camps who are all moslems. In addition the country is small, not rich and already overcrowded.
Neither them nor Lebanese will accept a deal where they will remain in Lebanon. I think Israel will have to accomodate these or offer them a resettlement in the freed west bank or somewhere else at Israel’s expenses’s: Housing, schools etc…
In any case a Confederation will also imply movements of population in and out of Israel.
I think the mere mention of a Confederation may trigger some renewed interests in negotiating peace. But problems remain very difficult and it require a huge involvement of the West to solve it.
Yet, i really don’t see enough interests in the west about solving it.

April 1st, 2008, 9:55 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Yes, I see your point now. From what I’ve heard, Syria brought up the idea of possibly granting citizenship to the 400,000 Palestinian refugees within her territory, but I don’t know if that would truly take place. I don’t believe Israel would (or could) ever reject the resettlement of any Palestinian refugees (Lebanon, or elsewhere), in the West Bank, or Gaza. Once we withdraw permanently from the West Bank, and a new Palestine is formed, no one will be able to impose who will or will not make up that new nation. The question is, would that be sufficient for hundreds of thousands of refugees who may still dream of a return to their homes, towns and villages inside Israel? I don’t know. You’re right, we definitely need the West in many of these issues, not so much on the moral or just aspects, but on the practical delivery of those solutions. As difficult and stagnant as the Israeli-Palestinian track may be right now, I firmly believe we should seize the moment, and move forward on the Israeli-Syria track, whose challenges are much easier to surmount. If and when peace would be reached between Syria and Israel, a much needed renewal of interest in the region will take place, and a positive spirit of hope will have its effect also on Israelis and Palestinians to at last overcome our differences.

April 1st, 2008, 10:05 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai, it seems that the present US administration is not encline in negotiating anything with Syria.
They are holding on Lebanon (to please the Saudi and Israel) and opposing Iran (For their own revenge and to reassure their sunni allies and Israel)
Israel should force the US hands otherwise it will not happen. The US is embroiled in some many dead end issues: North Korea hopelessly postponed, accusations and boycott of Iran 4,011 dead US soldiers in Iraq, huge problems in economy, cahneg of presidency etc.. the Israel-Palestinians issue is of little concern to normal americans and unless Israel starts using its poweerful US media to bring the issue of negotiation with Syria WITH NO PRE CONDITIONS and bring the issue at the forefront, nothing will happen. The ball is in the hands of israelis like you who believe that Syria is the key.

April 1st, 2008, 10:47 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

And the Puppet Abu Mazin is a traitor (it is true), but it is not because he advocates compromise or peace talks, but because he no longer advocates the rights of Palestinians.

Joe M.,

What “rights of Palestinians” does Abu Mazin no longer advocate? Let me guess:

1.) An independent country living in peace with her neighbors?

2.) The ability to terrorize Israel without impunity?

3.) A Palestinian state with Jerusalem as her capital?

Perhaps you can get more specific?

Every day he is begging as Israel humiliates him further.

Joe M.,

Making peace is noble, not humiliating, and IMHO, Hamas humiliated Abbas a bit more than any of your Zionist demons.

April 1st, 2008, 11:02 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss and Shai, cut it out with this flirting with the “Confederation” notion. It can’t work. Not now. Not as a catalyst to a solution. Only clean-cut well-defined borders and an absolute verifiable commitment to non-aggression can be an entry point to a peace settlement. Anything else will be considered by a majority in Israel to be the beginning of the sliding slope into oblivion. Besides, good fences make good neighbors. And, OK, one more: Israel has as much a right to run itself as Jewsith state as Iran does to run itself as an Islamic state. Remarkable contradiction here in the official Iranian position. Even though I have to state for the record that I personally happen to despise both systems and dream of a utopic 100% secular government in a utopic state where religions are respected and revered as personal and social paradigms but not as political ones.

April 1st, 2008, 11:08 am

 

Naji said:

Joe M. = Joseph Massad of Columbia University…??!!
If so, then… wow…! If not, then also… wow…!

April 1st, 2008, 11:28 am

 

Shai said:

HP,

I of course agree with you that most Israelis will not accept anything but very clear, and “final” borders, when it comes to the Palestinian issue. But I was looking at the idea of a confederation more as a distant possibility for something like my so-called UME. This, however, is something that will have to wait a good time, until Jews and Arabs begin to live with each other side-by-side in trust and in peace. By the way, I’m just as against the idea of a “Jewish state”, certainly in the long run (what if I want to just be an “Israeli”, and not a “Jew”?). But for now, I certainly understand my fellow countrymen’s fears that anything but a Jewish state means the end of their dream for a safe haven from prosecution for all of the world’s (miniscule) 13 million Jews. One day, however, after regaining our confidence, and seeing how we can and do live peacefully and safely in the Middle East, I hope we can change this requirement, and enable anyone to come live and work here. Even if the demographics will change substantially.

April 1st, 2008, 12:39 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Qifa Nabki said:
Simo,

Just out of curiosity, what’s your solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

If you’ve already laid it out, feel free to direct me to the comment URL.

First, I believe in equality and democracy, which make a one religion based democracies impossible. No matter is it a Jewish, Christian or Islamic “democracy”.

Secondly I believe in a military balance. There can’t exist for a long period a situation were one small country constantly destabilizes, blackmails and dominates the whole region. What if Denmark would be the real power centre of Europe with hundreds of nukes? How long could that historic abnormality last? Certainly the far greater (in population) neighbouring nations would/could not tolerate such a situation.

My “realistic solution” would be a pre 1967 Israel, with a non religious based system or at least with a less extreme basis as the present. Gaza as an autonomic area to Egypt. Palestine made out of West Bank and in future a state union with Jordan. Israel (not others) pay for Palestinians compensation for the lost property. Israel’s nuclear disarmament as a solution to nuclear free Middle East. So long there are Israeli nukes there is no nuclear free Middle East, because Israel is in Middle East. When these conditions a settled, Israel could join NATO which would give it all the security guaranties it possible needs.

My “idealistic solution” would be a one state solution with a disarming solution with the neighbouring countries.

Israel’s so called serious security threads are based solely on its own occupation of millions of people, over agressive military buildup and agressive foreign policy which doesn’t respect others sovereignty nor borders.

If Israel will solve its occupation problem and lower its military buildup, the neighbours would certainly be eager to solve the few remaining issues and make peace. But Israelis must understand that they have been and are a bigger security threat for the neighbours as they have been or are to Israel. Without a mutual military agreement there can’t be a long lasting peace.

But the reality is that peace in the region is solely up to Israel. It has to solve the Palestine problem and it needs to decide does it want a nuclear free Middle East.

The future reality in the peak oil situation the worlds capital flows will dramatically change the past reality in the region. That will alter the region completely economically and hopefully in administration style if Israel / USA do not succeed in their obvious attempts of pushing the region in decades long civil wars between different tribes and religious groups. If this attempt doesn’t succeed the pure population mass, increasing wealth and industrial power of Arab nations and Iran will put Israel in “the place” it should be already. A small rather “uninteresting” country, but that would in the end be Israel’s interests.

Yes Simo, Israel is a vibrant democracy in a part of the world that only finds excuses not to be democratic. You can look at the sky and say it is green forever. It will not convince anyone.

AIG no matter how many times you repeat Israel is a democracy, it is not. If in Finland we would have for us Christians equal “big” rights as your “Nation” has in Israel and Jews / Muslims would have equal status as Israeli Arabs, you would not certainly call Finland a democracy. If one segment of the country’s population have democracy and the other not, it is clearly not a democracy. You may have heard the term equality. Do you understand what equality means?

Having a free Jewish press in Israel doesn’t make it a democracy or actually prove anything. The claim has always been, that Israel has democracy only for Jews, which makes it a non-democracy. By the way do you have in Israel a really free Arab press. Could Hamas and Hizbollah like organizations in Israel write and publish what ever they want or something the government doesn’t like? I doubt that.

April 1st, 2008, 1:25 pm

 

Welcome | Project on Middle East Democracy said:

[…] Syrian President Bashar Assad’s speech at the summit included the following comment on the Lebanese crisis: “We, in Syria, are absolutely ready to cooperate with any Arab, or non-Arab efforts, in this domain, provided that the initiative, or any initiative, is based on the ground of national reconciliation, because it is the only foundation for stability in Lebanon which is our ultimate goal and objective.” […]

April 1st, 2008, 2:53 pm

 

why-discuss said:

HP
You seem utopian, a non religious Israel and a non religious Saudi arabia!! Why not adopting english as the main language!

The Confederation is not mean but an end. Yet defining an end that could please and stimulate all parties is a catalyst for change.
What is wrong if Olmert and Abbas call for a confederation as the aim of the peace plans. All the peace plans until now were about retuning lands, compensations and what’s next? Experiences show that these words not seem to move anythingand sounds empty. Maybe they should try another theme: A Israeli-Palestinian confederation!

April 1st, 2008, 3:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
The Jews in Israel have no more rights by law than the Arabs in Israel. There are no laws that discriminate between Arab citizens of Israel and Jewish citizens of Israel. As for equality, having the same rights under the law does not bring equality. Are the blacks equal to the whites in South-Africa? By any standard the Israeli Jews are more equal to the Israeli Arabs than the whites are equal to the blacks in South-Africa. By any standard the Israeli Jews are more equal to the Israeli Arabs than a Christian in France is equal to a French Muslim. The same goes for the Netherlands and Denmark. Check the data.

You want to hold Israel to an impossible standard, fine. But Israel is a democracy and its Arabs have by far more rights than any average Arab in any other Arab country.

April 1st, 2008, 3:44 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Why-Discuss, I did say it was a “dream of a utopia” re. the secular states. So we are in agreement there.
As far as your question What is wrong if Olmert and Abbas call for a confederation as the aim of the peace plans?
the answer is nothing of course, assuming that it does happen. I’m just saying something like this will never happen, at least not in our lifetime, and not even in the lifetime of high-school student QN 😉 I may be wrong but that’s what I see.

April 1st, 2008, 4:02 pm

 

Majhool said:

Interesting comment from Dardari and very amusing comments from readers at Syria-New.com

أقر نائب رئيس مجلس الوزراء للشؤون الاقتصادية عبد الله الدردري “بوجود فساد في سورية بمعدلات ملموسة”, لكنه قال إن “معدل نمو الفساد أقل من معدل نمو الاقتصاد السوري”.

وكانت منظمة “الشفافية الدولية في لندن أعلنت مؤخرا أن “مؤشر مدركات الفساد 2007 بيّن أن سورية من الدول البطيئة في مكافحة الفساد حيث احتلت المرتبة الـ 138 من ضمن 180 شملها المؤشر
وحول مشكلة التعامل الضريبي وكون حجم الذين يدفعون الضرائب من صغار المكلفين أكثر بكثير من كبار المكلفين, أوضح الدردري أن “هذا انطباع عام وليس حقيقة, فضريبة الرواتب والأجور لا تشكل سوى سبعة مليار ل.س في السنة, هناك مشكلة بين الانطباع والواقع

ياأخي عبقري
قال معدل نموالفساد أقل من معدل نمو الإقتصاد ! أنا بشرحلكون شو يعني … يعني إذا فتحت البورصة سيكون لكل شركة مؤشرين مؤشرربح مئة ليرة مثلا .. ومؤشرآخر للفساد يدل أنها خسرت بسببه 95 ليرة .. فيكون الربح الصافي للشركة خمس ليرات توزع على ألف مساهم مغفل يمكن هيك بيقصد .. ياأخي هالدردري فهيم مابدها حكي
بورصا
سمعنا بانه بسوريا بدو يسير بورصا!!! بس على ثو؟؟؟ بورصا المافسة بين نمو الفساد و الاقتصاد
لا تهربوا إلى الأمام
أولاً : عرفنا بأن صغار المكلفين يدفعون سبعة مليارات ضريبة دخل سنوياً و لكن معالي الوزير لم يقل لنا كم يدفع كبار المكلفين. ثانياً: عندما تصدر تقارير عن منظمات دولية علينا أن نسرع لتلافي الأخطاء و النواقص و ليس أن نبرر الواقع المزري الذي نعيشه. *

لأول مرة يتحدث مسؤول سوري عن الفساد بشكل عادي, كأنه فكريا واجتماعيا أمر مقبول, دون أن يبدي أية طريقة أو رغبة جدية لاستئصاله من جذوره
شو هالحكي لك أرخميدس
* *.. ياسيدي ريحة الفساد عنا واصلة للصين .. وإنت بتقول ملموسة .. كمان فعلاً شو هالحكي يلي بطلع من مسؤول متل حضرتك .. معدل نمو الفساد أقل من معدل نمو الاقتصاد السوري .. يعني ياريتك ماذكرت هالموضوع .. يا أخي بدل الحكي اتحركوا وانسفوا الفساد مو حكي حكي حكي
شكر
كلمتين ورد غطاهون: الله لا يعطيك العافيه فوق تعبك.

April 1st, 2008, 4:14 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

The Jews in Israel have no more rights by law than the Arabs in Israel.

Koff, choke, sputter. Now that’s chutzpah.

April 1st, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

Naji said:

Majhool,
Dardari is actually a good guy and he is doing his best…, but I don’t know why he sometimes makes some utterances and puts himself in situations that make everybody think that he is to blame for all our woes…??!! The comments you quoted are quite funny and do rflect what people are saying…!! Btw, as somebody who does business here, I am amazed at how much more blatant corruption has become around here lately… and everybody will tell you that…!!

April 1st, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nur,
Ok, prove me wrong. Provide just ONE Israeli law that discriminates between Jewish citizens and Arab citizens of Israel.

Talking platitudes is easy, but the facts usually get in the way.

April 1st, 2008, 4:53 pm

 

Alex said:

NO, Nur please don’t prove him wrong. We already had the pleasure of reading this argument a thousand times.

It’s ok … AIG is 100% right. Don’t bother.

Naji,

Dardari is indeed Mr. clean. And he works very hard to do good things. But the problem with his interviews is that he tries to answer complex questions in one paragraph.

When you get a difficult question (like the one about corruption) you have no option but to:

1) Give a generic politically correct statement.
2) Acknowledge the problem and explain that there is no magic solution.
3) Ask the person interviewing you if his newspaper is willing to dedicate half a page to a proper answer to this question.

April 1st, 2008, 5:37 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
Good points, Alex. How about offering Dardari your services as a media advisor…?! Perhaps I’ll just pass-on your remarks…!

Is Joe M really Joseph Massad of Columbia, the super-distinguished, ultra-noble disciple of Edward Said…?!

April 1st, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Nur Al-Cubicle,

While AIG is correct in saying that there is no law that discriminates between Jews and Arabs in Israel (or at least that I’m aware of), in reality, Arabs are treated as 2nd-class citizens in almost every way imaginable. As such, they are indeed discriminated against. While I can understand the hypocrisy AIG might be referring to, hearing complaints about Arab rights in Israel from another Arab, in whose nation ordinary citizens are probably enjoying far fewer freedoms, this should not be so when either Europeans, or Arabs living abroad, make the case. It should not make us, Israelis, have a better conscience, knowing that Arabs outside of Israel suffer more. We too, have a long way to go to treat our fellow Arab Israelis equally. I think AIG would agree with that.

Just as an example, which is very controversial in Israel, entails the mandatory service in the army. Arabs are not required by law to serve, while all other israelis are. And of the ones required (Jews), some say about 1/3rd get away with all sorts of “excuses” (some genuine, like health issues, but others not). Within Israeli society, at the workplace, universities, etc., there is without a doubt preference given to Israelis that have served in the army, over ones that haven’t. An Israeli that hasn’t served in the army, may find it much more difficult getting a job in various places. When you think of it, with your average Western-nation perspective, it sounds horrific, and it is. So there are plenty of areas in which Arab Israelis are automatically treated differently, and that must change. Many in Israel, for instance, view the Arabs as a “Fifth Column”, who will, when called upon, side with their brethren the Palestinians in any way required. I believe that Arab Israelis and the Palestinians are inseparable, no less than the Jews in America are from Israel. We, like Christian and Muslim Americans, have to learn to live with it. But you see where a lot of the mistreatment comes from. It’s unjustifiable, it’s cruel and inhumane, and it must stop.

April 1st, 2008, 5:46 pm

 

Alex said:

No Naji, my advice is not worth much. I am a computer Engineer.

But Rime Allaf is in Damascus. They should hire her. I can imagine how much more professional everything will sound if she was onboard.

April 1st, 2008, 5:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Facebook, Google founders to attend Jerusalem conference in May
By Guy Griml

Co-founder of internet giant Google, Sergey Brin, will join Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Yahoo president Susan Decker at a presidential panel on technology to be held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center May 13-15.

The convention, which was formed at the initiative of President Shimon Peres, will also be attended by a number of Israeli political, religious and financial leaders, as well as academics and cultural figures.

The panel will discuss issues facing technology in today’s age and the future, in particular in regard to how it will affect Israel and the Jewish world.

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair will also take part in the conference, as will French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former prime minister of the Czech Republic Vaclev Havel, Nobel Prize Laureate Eli Weisel, and Georgia President Michael Saakashvili

April 1st, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Are the muslims in Europe more “equal” than Israeli Arabs in Israel? Are inner city blacks more “equal” in the US than Israeli Arabs? How about the Aborigines in Austrailia? All the statistics show that this is not the case. Sure we have room to improve but let’s be judged by normal standards and not some utopian standards that no one can match and certainly this is not a reason to say that Israel is not a democracy. It is a democracy just like Austrailia is, both are imperfect but still democracies.

Alex, it is very simple to show that a person is not 100% right. All that is required is one counter example. But for some reason you are quite lax about unsupported criticism of Israel.

April 1st, 2008, 6:03 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Now wouldn’t it have been the best CBM, if Israel invited none other than Ambassador Imad Moustapha, PhD in Computer Science, Ex-Dean of IT in Damascus University, Co-Author of the UN-sponsored Arab Human Development Report, to be a guest speaker at the Jerusalem conference, talking about the future of technology in the Middle East?

Ah, the endless opportunities we’re always missing…

April 1st, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
“Facebook, Google founders to attend Jerusalem conference in May
By Guy Griml

Co-founder of internet giant Google, Sergey Brin, will join Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Yahoo president Susan Decker at a presidential panel on technology to be held at the Jerusalem International Convention Center May 13-15.”

I think Palestinians and Arabs should boycott Google, Yahoo and Facebook. Any Arab using them is a traitor and a tool. Same goes for Intel who has both a development center and plant in Israel.

April 1st, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex, I saw that announcement earlier today… amazing…!!!

Also, I know it is just a coincidence, but SC was down for extended periods last night, …the article I posted earlier about Israeli use of YouTube, …the downing of all Syrian media sites during the Summit…, I don’t know… so much energy and frantic action… all to what end…!!?

Great to hear that Rime is in Damascus, and I agree she would raise the whole show to a new level of professionalism, but I don’t know if they can handle her around here…!? Although, for some reason, I suspect that she did have some involvement with summit…!?

Since you did not answer my question abou Joe M negatively, I must assume a positive answer… that is how things work in Syrian… 😉

April 1st, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Why don’t you tell Alon to suggest to Peres to invite Imad Moustapha to the conference? Peres may invite him.

I will bet you 100 to 1 he will not come for fear of being labeled a traitor.

April 1st, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

We’re in complete agreement about Israel being a democracy. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing the way I’ve been writing on this forum, and I wouldn’t be as concerned about changing public opinion about the course our so-called “leaders” must take. But we both know that the Arabs in Israel are living a far more difficult life than you and I are. And all too often, it isn’t out of their choice. We have much to do, to fix this injustice. Just as Americans have, to fix theirs. Obviously in Israel, because of the closeness between Arab Israelis and their Palestinian brethren, the issue always seems interlinked, to both sides. Those who blame Israel for discriminating against the Arabs, claim it is because of their link to the Palestinians. And those who truly discriminate against them, do so because of that same link. In both cases, the problem is ours to solve, not theirs.

April 1st, 2008, 6:13 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Our dear President Shimon Peres is the last person I’d want to involve right now, in just about anything… He has disappointed me in ways I can probably not even describe.

April 1st, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

You want to hold Israel to an impossible standard, fine. But Israel is a democracy and its Arabs have by far more rights than any average Arab in any other Arab country.

AIG you are speaking absurd things, either you are deliberately making propaganda and so lying or you do not have eyes and ears.

There is no such entity as Jewish National Fund in other countries, which the functions of the Fund. Israeli laws and more importantly practices are full points which favour those people whose religion is Judaism. We non Israelis can almost every day read form newspapers about the violations of Israeli Arabs rights. And most certainly only a fragment of the violations are mentioned in the news.

Have you AIG ever heard an Israeli Arab settlement been created on Jewish land and Jews thrown out. Undoubtedly not, but you certainly have read, heard and probably seen Arab villages and houses in Israel been demolished and the people driven out and replaced by Jews. Maybe you have even been among those destroying the Israeli Arabs properties they have owned for generations using Israeli “law” as an excuse.

If AIG Israel is equal why does in your ID cards mention the persons religion / ethnicity. Though nowadays “cleverly” done via the birthday (Hebrew date for Jews).

If Israel would a equal state, it would not have need to call herself as the Jewish State. Like Iran would have not the need to call her self the Islamic Republic of Iran. Is USA the Christian Republic of America or Finland The Lutheran Republic of Finland? Not to mention other western democracies.

Israel is a democracy as much as Iran is. Trying to “erase” the true religious nature of Israel is a quite desperate effort AIG.

One header from today’s Haaretz
* Yesha Chief Rabbi: Giving arms to the PA is against Jewish law

Obviously the Jewish law allows to give weapons for settlers (= religious Jews). Conclusion Jewish law permits Jews to have arms, but denies them from non-Jews. By the way are secular (or atheistic) Jews permitted to have arms by the Jewish law. 🙂


Nur,
Ok, prove me wrong. Provide just ONE Israeli law that discriminates between Jewish citizens and Arab citizens of Israel.

Talking platitudes is easy, but the facts usually get in the way.

That is an easy exercise AIG. Let’s start from The Law of Return (Hebrew: חוק השבות, ḥōk ha-shvūt).

Do you need other examples. 🙂

April 1st, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Naji said:

Honestly, Alex, I normally would be dead against banning anybody from any forum, but this ultra-obnoxious AIG does constantly find new ways to push the limits of his obnoxiousness… as in his remark above ” I think Palestinians and Arabs should boycott Google, Yahoo and Facebook. Any Arab using them is a traitor and a tool.”, and new ways to demonstrate how low one can sink beneath the limits human decency, as in his earlier remark “Naji,
If the stench bothers you, take the donkey down. We have been living with it for 60 years and are used by now. What is another 50? “…!!??

I used to think he did all this to make some sort of a point, and I could have respected that, but, more and more, I feel sure that he does this simply out of obnoxiousness and cruel ingrained contempt for anything decent…!!?

April 1st, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“Facebook, Google founders to attend Jerusalem conference in May”

And I guess all those magnificant soles are going to Jerusalem to also witness and express “admiration” for Israeli Democratic and Humanitarian acheivements over the past few decades. Maybe they are from certain ancestry and are made to feel the humanitarian urge to apologize for certain past misdeeds, and maybe some strong banker, a close cousine, or a well-paid PR firm is doing a good job!

The only concerns I have is for their personal safety while over there. The IDF & Co is known to have committed accidental shooting of jounalists, for manhandeling European Presidents, for accidental bulldozer-crushing of American peace activists, and for accidental assasination of International Peace Envoys.

April 1st, 2008, 6:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
It is one thing to say Israel has many problems it needs to solve. No one would argue with that. It is quite another thing to say that Israel is not a democracy.

The bottom line is simple. On average, the Israeli Arab has much more opportunities and is much richer (5-6 more richer)than the average Syrian, Egyptian, Jordanian or Lebanese. And yes, the average Israeli Arab is 20% less wealthy than the average Jew in Israel. We have to work on closing this margin, but relative to the margin between the Israeli Arabs and the Arabs in other countries which is 500% to 600%, the 20% margin is very small.

April 1st, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

offended said:

So the co-founder of Google, the founder of Facebook and the CEO of Yahoo are all Jew? Man that again proves how intelligent Jewish people are.

But I am still wondering, where was AIG when the intelligence was being distributed amongst Jewish people? Reading his comments, you’d come to conclusion that he was completely absent then 😛

April 1st, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

Naji said:

Good one, extra-OFFENDED… 😀

April 1st, 2008, 6:42 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Please explain how the Law of return discriminates between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. It plainly doesn’t. I think you probably have not read the law of return.

It defines who can become citizens of the Jewish country Israel. Just like the law in Switzerland defines which foreigners can become citizens and it is basically people born to Swiss parents. Switzerland is a country for the Swiss nation and Israel is a country for the Jewish nation in which minorties live. I know you have a hard time understanding this, but try again.

April 1st, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
You got me. I am the Jew they use to prove that the Jews are really average like everybody else. For every Founder of Google, there is a Jew like me that brings the average way down. Are you finally convinced that Jews are just like any other people or do I need to write more stupid stuff?

April 1st, 2008, 6:48 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Stop the silliness. “But for some reason you are quite lax about unsupported criticism of Israel.”

I am not here to protect Israel from anyone criticizing Israel. No one stopped you from making unsupported criticism of Syria.

I don’t care if you want to claim that Israel is “a democracy” or if others want to reply that Israel is “not a democracy”. But I don’t want endless useless discussions about it and I don’t want to read 1000 comments from you or anyone else per day.

If you really want a more neutral definition of Israel’s democracy, the Economist Democracy Index classified it as “A flawed Democracy”

And Syria was (surprise) an authoritarian system.

Hopefully few years after a compreshensive peace settlement Israel would be upgraded to a functioning democracy and Syria to a Flawed democracy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index#January_2007_ranking

Naji,

I did not answer your question because I am not supposed to share anyone’s identity with the rest of the world, no? : )

Shai,

The conference in Israel is impressive. I’m sure Imad would love to be part of such conferences … about 2 to 3 years from now : )

April 1st, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

offended said:

lol AIG, that was funny!

And btw, the comment was not meant to be racist or offensive toward anyone. I was just having some fun, if the moderators here do not mind…ehm..ehm..

April 1st, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

If being 21 years old, and having the chutzpah to say “NO” to a one billion dollar offer to buy your idea, only to sell a year and a half later 1.67% share of your company to Microsoft for 250 million dollars (valuing your company at some 15 billion dollars, and not a “mere” 1), define what being an intelligent Jew means, then I too am now “offended”… 🙂 Listen, being intelligent doesn’t always mean you’re smart. At least, that’s what my momma told me, when she saw my IQ test results…

April 1st, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

Naji said:

Here is Tony Judt on the matter:

“The comparison with France, which many critics raised, is revealing in this respect. Yes, France—like Italy, Germany, and every other sovereign state—distinguishes and discriminates between citizens and noncitizens. No country welcomes anyone and everyone—as Omer Bartov rightly observes, the Europeans in particular discriminate quite shamelessly against would-be immigrants. And all countries have resident noncitizens who get second-class treatment. But if someone is a citizen of, e.g., France, he or she is French and that is all there is to the matter, at least as far as the law is concerned. The categories become tautological: France is the state of all the French; all French persons are by definition citizens of France; and all citizens of France are…French. Israel, by contrast, is by its own account the “state of all the Jews” (wherever they live and whether or not they seek the association), while containing non-Jewish (Arab) citizens who do not enjoy similar status and rights. There is no comparison.”

April 1st, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Dear Joe,

I have read (and re-read) your comments carefully, and I have some questions for you.

1. How do you define the Arab cause today? You say that Sadat’s peace deal with Israel was “the first step on the destruction of the Arab cause, and the turning of Arab countries into puppet dictatorships…” If the Arabs are ever to become strong again — strong enough to bring about justice in Palestine — what do you see as the necessary developments? Do we need to see the dictatorships fall in order to express the will of the people? Or can the dictatorships stay, but be replaced with dictators who are ideologically more committed to the Palestinians.

2. Quite a few regulars on this blog — Israelis and Syrians alike — have invested a great deal of time debating the shape of a potential Syria-Israel peace deal. Let’s say that, contrary to your expectations, a peace deal emerges within the next two years or so. Israel offers the return of the Golan (as a peace reserve, park, canal, whatever) in exchange for Syria’s agreement to ‘moderate’ its allies (Hizbullah, Hamas, Iran). My questions are: (a) Do you think that such imaginings on the part of some Syrians are completely deluded? (b) Would such a deal constitute a Syrian “selling-out” of the Arab cause, just as Sadat sold it out? (c) Do you, in fact, believe that Syria would only be able to achieve this deal because it, like Egypt/Jordan, is an “undemocratic state”, and that such a deal would be against the will of its people?

3. You argue that Israel has “powerfully defined the debate” and that we talk in Israeli terms “to such a degree that talking honestly… is seen as “radical” or unrealistic.” I think that you are right about this; I have often felt this. However, I want you to explain to me — in concrete terms — what we should be doing differently, if we refuse to accept the terms of this debate.

Let me try to give a parallel example on a different issue. When I first started reading Syria Comment, I often found myself wondering where all the criticism of Syria’s government was. People, it seemed to me, were so beholden to the dictatorial logic of the Syrian regime that they simply would not entertain any powerful criticisms, let alone any advocacy for substantial actions to change it. They seemed to take it as a given that the regime was here to stay, and that the best that could be hoped for was a gradual, glacially slow reform process, with no guarantees of success (but also complete impunity in the event of stagnation).

I rejected the terms of this debate, but over time I’ve begun to see that the views of my colleagues here are not so cartoonish. I still frequently try to call for an “honest” debate, but I recognize that the transformation of Syrian society is a complex issue, and in certain ways Bashar is better than most. Trying to change this regime by force (which has been tried) will not work without much bloodshed and chaos. And while it may be the more noble and morally pure option (with respect to the dignity and rights of the Syrian people) it is certainly the bloodier and riskier one.

I am someone who believes that the number one enemies of the Arab people (of the Arab ’cause’, as I define it) are our corrupt and lousy leaders. I make little distinction between U.S. puppets and U.S. enemies. If they oppress their populations, it doesn’t matter to me what kind of lip service they pay to Palestine or to Washington. Now, does that mean that I should reject any long-view efforts to change these regimes, preferring instead to bring them down in bloody coups, one after the other?

You are essentially arguing that a negotiated settlement with Israel is both strategically and morally bankrupt, which may even be the same thing, in the sense that such a settlement will fail over time because it deprives people of their rights. If I were to adopt your logic in the sphere of Arab dictatorships, then it seems I would have to reject any half-measures and gestures at reform and demand instead a complete overhaul. Is this your argument?

Enough from me.

April 1st, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
Jews can also be cool too… 😉

April 1st, 2008, 7:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
You see, the Jews had a state and it was interrupted for 2000 years. We did not have the fortune like the French to be in one geographical area all the time. So yes, Israel is a homeland for all the Jews, and it is waiting for them, should they decide to come. Nobody is forcing them to come so Judt can stay right where he is if he doesn’t like Israel and he can renounce Israel and make clear that it is not his country and that he has nothing to do with it. No problem. Not only don’t we mind, we still will accept Judt if one day he changes his mind and does want to come to Israel. After all that his is right as a Jew, and nobody can take it away from him, including Judt himself.

April 1st, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

offended said:

Yeah Shai, my momma was shocked too when she saw my IQ score …and she didn’t even find me any excuses.

I told her I took the test in French, but she didn’t seem so convinced since it was April’s fools’ day then. Not a very opportune day to make such a statement if you ask me..:P

April 1st, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Hey, I completely forgot (though my wife mentioned it earlier today). Shoot, I could have done so much here, making the most bizarre, unexpected comments, and then… “April Fools Day!” Then again, the level of “humor” on SC as of late is not exactly optimal for such a gig. Oh well… at least you guys in Dubai know how to laugh… By the way, did you know that I.Q. stands for “Israeli Quotient”? Ha ha… I’m sure there’s something in the Protocols about that one…

April 1st, 2008, 7:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

So can Syrians… and especially ones named Naji! 🙂

April 1st, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

Naji said:

AIG responds to Simo about the rights of citizens in Israel by making an outrageous comparison with Switzerland (of all places 🙂 ), so I respond to the substance (as if there was any) of his argument with an answer crafted by one of the greatest minds living today, who also HAPPENS to be a Jew and an ex-Zionist.

Having no real answer, AIG immediately retorts to some homily about Jewish past and a condescending ad-hominem against Tony Judt…!!!?? Absolutely typical…!! What the hell does WHO composed that answer matter…??!! Assume it was my driver who wrote that and make your response, if you have any, to the facts and substance of the argument, …!!

April 1st, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Judt’s argument is bogus because he compares the French who were never exiled from their land to the Jews who were. It is very clear in what I wrote. Most of the French were always in France. Before 1948 and for about 1,800 years most of the Jews were always out of current day Israel. Moving the Jews to Israel is a process that will take many years, therefore, Israel could not be founded as the country only for the Jews living there in 1948 (because they were a small percentage of the Jews) but a country for all the Jews.

April 1st, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Let AIG this be my last reply to you in this law/democracy topic. Indeed it is rather useless to argue with such a propaganda “machine” as you. Do not take it as a compliment that you are a successful propagandist.

The law of Return gives Jews, being those with a Jewish mother or grandmother, or a spouse of such a Jew, or a convert to Judaism (Orthodox, Reformed, or Conservative – not secular – though Reform and Conservative conversions must take place outside the state, similar to civil marriages) the right to migrate to and settle in Israel and gain citizenship. (source Wikipedia)

As you can see the Israeli law would give me (a rude European) the change to be an Israeli citizens if I convert to Judaism or marry a Jew (even not a Israeli citizen). Can I get automatically the citizenship of Nepal if I convert to Buddhism or the citizenship lets say Iran or Saudi Arabia if I convert to Islam? 🙂

Come-on your basic law in creating Israel is as “racist” as a law can be. Comparing it to other countries citizenship rules is “an insult” to those countries. If you live a certain period in Finland you AIG can get Finnish citizenship. How about those millions who have lived in Israel (the area Israel rules and sees a part of it) all their life?

By the way what state had Jews 2000 years ago. I always thought it was then a province of the Roman Empire, maybe we have “anti-Semitic” history books here…

April 1st, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
You are continuing to resist the understanding that Jews are a nation with a tradition that is their religion. That colors your whole view and distorts it. There are two ways to join the Jewish nation, one is to be born Jewish and the other is to assimilate into it by accepting its customs which you view as a religion. What exactly is your problem with that?

How is the law of return racist, as you yourself say, ANYONE can convert to Judaism and become an Israeli citizen. Even you.

What do you think was in Israel before it was a Roman province? It was a free Jewish state. Read a little about Hanukkah.

April 1st, 2008, 8:15 pm

 

Friend in America said:

Why Discuss-
Regarding U.S. imports of oil and its ME policy, it’s not that simple. Facts are U.S. consumption of ME oil has diminished in past 30 years and will continue to diminish. Oil imports from ME now is about 33% of total US demand for oil; in 1970’s it was closer to 60%. Today the biggest consumers of ME oil are the EU, Japan and China.
Continued world access to ME oil, however, is a major element in US policy but only an element. Factors such as even more oil from the sands in northern Canada, expanded extraction of oil from shale deposits in the U.S., expansion of drilling in Alaska and reduction in consumption by turning to other energy sources, will further reduce oil importation from the ME. A precipitous drop in oil prices and hostile measures by the Venezuelan government could lead to increased purchasing.

April 1st, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

Majhool said:

Naji,

I agree with Alex (for once), Mr. Dardari appears to be the clean guy in the bunch. In addition to that he seems to have the impossible task of accommodating the narrow interests and corruption of the “Makhloufs” in the country while trying to improve the state of the economy and along with it the standard of living for Syrians. We have to give some credit to the guy for being courageous enough to work without the political muscle needed for success. The solution for the economy (among other things)in Syria remains political and in the hands of the security apparatus.

April 1st, 2008, 8:59 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Maccabi Tel-Aviv is on its way to the Final Four of the European Championship. They just beat Real Madrid.
http://www.maccabi.co.il/Default.Asp?language=english

Sim,
You know where Maccabi plays? In the NOKIA Arena in Tel-Aviv. Really, how can this be happening? Don’t you write to your politicians?

April 1st, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

Naji said:

As far as political muscle, he does have the full backing of the pres (who brought him in), but Syria is not a pure dictatorship… there are many other forces… Moreover, simply on the professional level, Dardari took on an extremely challenging job and proceeded to give it his ALL… you cannot ask more than that… he has been extremely dynamic and has affected an incredible amount of change, against almost uniquely (US, etc) adverse conditions, in a very short time… You or I might have done most of this differently, but… hey, he stepped-up to the plate (quite courageously… remember WHEN he did it) while neither you, I, or anyone else did…!!

April 1st, 2008, 9:18 pm

 

Alex said:

21st Century….We are becoming lesser by the day

Our communication – Wireless

Our telephone – Cordless

Our cooking – Fireless

Our youth – Jobless

Our food – Fatless

Our labour – Effortless

Our conduct – Worthless

Our relation – Loveless

Our attitude – Careless

Our feelings – Heartless

Our politics – Shameless

Our education – Valueless

Our dress – Topless

Our follies – Countless

Our arguments – Baseless

Our Job – Thankless

Our Boss – Brainless

Our Salary – Very less

Our E-mails – Useless

April 1st, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

Friend in America said:

The attacks on each other here are distracting all of us from the remarkable dialogue in this thread. Let’s stay on the principal topic and tolerate each other’s remarks no matter how stupid they are (including mine).
My assessment (hopefully not stupid):
The stars will never be in perfect order for a peace settlement, and if they were, mankind will not recognize the moment. Significant agreements are negotiated when there is a pressing need that compels settlement, not when matters can be discussed at leisure. The ME indeed is sitting on TNT. Should it explode, everyone will be damaged.So the time is now to explore the configuration of a successful plan for peace.
I concur with Why-Discuss, Joe M. and others who believe the Palestinian situation must be the center of a peaceful resolution, and a peace that does not give the right of return will keep the present host countries in an unstable situation. Provisions creating reasonable political stability for host countries must be part of an over all agreement.
An agreement whereby the Palestinians can return to all of Israel as citizens requires such a major change in Israel’s conception of itself as a country that it is out of the question at any time in the near future. But please reread Shai’s comments early in this thread where a worker permit program is envisioned. This can be the basis of a successful plan. Such an influx of labor may seem disturbing to Israelis at first, but from my reading of the Bible the Israelis have lived among the peoples of the land ever since their arrival in the promised land -so, there is nothing new in that proposal.
The neighboring countries will also have to take a major step -to recognize that not all Palestinians will want to return (maybe upwards of 40%) and will have grant citizenship to those who chose to stay.
A final capstone is a regional free trade agreement. It will bring about higher standards of living everywhere in the Levant, but that’s for another thread.

April 1st, 2008, 11:04 pm

 

Majhool said:

Naji,

I agree with most of what you said. One note, although Dardari enjoys the president’s full backing, this support is a bit narrow in scope. Dardari’s mandate is to get the economy going without having to interfere with corruption, judicial, or foreign policy. Again he is not to be blamed. The ruling collation and the deficiencies built-in the Syrian society remain in my opinion the two most significant internal variables in the equation of progress.

April 1st, 2008, 11:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex, you forgot…

Our Syria Comment — matchless

!!

April 1st, 2008, 11:08 pm

 
 

Qifa Nabki said:

What are your search terms ya Alex? “High school nerd”? “American goofball”? Where do you find these pictures? 🙂

April 2nd, 2008, 12:16 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

As if HP needed more confusion as to the identity of his idol 😉

April 2nd, 2008, 12:19 am

 

Nour said:

AIG once again tries to twist the facts and distort the truth in order to present a better image of Israel. First, comparing Israel’s citizenship laws to that of any western democracy is as silly as can be. Democracies such as France or Switzerland do not require you to be of a particular ethnic, racial, or religious background in order to qualify for citizenship. People are allowed to immigrate to these countries regardless of who they are and of what background they originate. Once certain procedural steps are satisfied, they become citizens with full rights equal to all other citizens of said nation. This is not the case with “Israel” which defines itself in racial and religious terms. Those people who have lived on this land for generations are not allowed to become citizens of “Israel” merely because they do not practice Judaism. And no one outside of this land is allowed to immigrate there, unless they practice Judaism and are of Jewish “ethnic” origin.

Second, to claim that the Jewish state was interrupted for 2000 years is utter nonsense. The Jews were not the only people living on this land even 2000 years ago and in fact were a minority, as the original inhabitants of this land were Canaanites, not Jews. In fact, Jews didn’t set foot on this land until over 1200 years of Canaanite civilization had been flourishing there. In addition, all political entities that Jews had on this land amounted to relative insignificance compared to the history of this region and all other states that arose there. Therefore, to claim an exclusive Jewish right to this land, which was allegedly merely “interrupted” for 2000 years is beyond absurd.

April 2nd, 2008, 12:36 am

 

Joe M. said:

Qifa Nabki,

Here are my answers to your questions:

1) Palestine is not the only issue to define the Arab cause. Obviously it is the most prominent in general, but there are so many issues. Clearly, Iraq is a huge issue in relation to Arabism. primarily, the Arab cause is a fight for independence. This happens on many levels (for example): globally against empire, Inter-Arab attempts for convergence, nationally for personal independence, regionally/nationally/locally for prosperity and education, a fight generally for democracy… The Arab cause is just like any other efforts to improve the conditions of so group. But what makes the Arab cause different is that we are fighting a greater level of imperialism and colonialism than any other region of the world today. The imperialist powers obviously exploit their power and exploit minor differences among us to manage their divide and conquer strategies. Further, we clearly are good at shooting our own feet. But, that said, I feel the two key focal points in the struggle for the Arab cause are: 1) direct imperialism in for form of foreign military forces actively destroying our societies (read, USA, Israel, and to a much lesser degree Iran). Honestly, I believe that we are natural allies with both Iran and the USA, but not when the American priorities are so outrageously insane… 2) control of our own resources and management/consolidation of our assets. Those things should be pretty obvious…

2) If Syria were to make a peace deal with Israel and get the Golan back, there are many factors that would necessarily be involved. I do think that your situation properly recognizes these. For example, I don’t think that Syria would need to “moderate” Hizbullah if there was peace between Syria and Israel because such a peace would by definition lead to a better situation between Lebanon, Syria and Israel, which would give Hizbullah plenty of reason to moderate itself. I don’t think Syria has nearly as much power over Hizbullah as is commonly assumed. Iran has more, but even they would not be able to set Hizbullah’s agenda or determine its strategic outlook (maybe if Nasrallah died and Naim Qassem took over,, as he is more loyal to Iran and more radical generally). Hizbullah is a genuine popular organization that bases almost all of it’s positions on their own strategic considerations. If Syria or Iran went beyond their friendly relationships with Hizbullah and tried to strong arm them, I would expect Hizbullah to reject that interference and possibly lash out in response… My point is that the type of peace Syria were to make with Israel would define my view of whether they “sold out”. Obviously, if they were to make a bad “peace” because of outside pressure, then the Syrian people would be just as antagonized by such a “peace” as the Egyptian people were. As I said in a previous post, Egypt is as unstable today as it has been since 1967, and this is because the government has become an absolute puppet to the USA and Israel. Syria could do the same if it wanted, but it would surely suffer consequences. If Syria were to sell out the Palestinians totally, actually, I believe that this could potentially serve as a major catalyst towards Palestinian radicalization. The Palestinian cause is universally popular among Arabs, and puppet Arab governments can not prevent that with repression. If Syria, the last openly pro-Palestinian country were to fall, I would assume that Palestinians would look for a new outlet. My sense is that they would work to consolidate their position in Jordan, and destabilize that country’s puppet government… Again, my point is that i don’t think piecemeal “solutions” to the Israel problem will ultimately serve the cause of peace. In fact, I think Israel is simply digging its own grave with these measures. It is plugging the holes of the dike without fixing the structural problems. At some point they will run out of fingers and will be flooded by a wave of water (of their own making). Therefore, Syria can make a temporary “peace” with Israel, but unless Israel makes major strategic changes in its perspective, I think it is hurting itself and making the coming repercussions all the more ominous. Whether Syria would be a “traitor” or “sell out” is totally dependent on the situation. But a piecemeal “solution” is worse than no solution. Especially considering that there are fundamental injustices involved. If these conflicts were only matters of perspective, than a piecemeal “solution” would be beneficial, but that is not the case, there are much more fundamental issues involved here.

3) I differ with you in that I do make a distinction between a corrupt leader and a puppet leader who is corrupt. I do so because the outside influence further disenfranchises the population of their rights to, at least, nominal independence. Further, the outside influence is what gives the dictators the flexibility to be as repressive as they are. But given that, I don’t disagree that the dictators are a major problem. In terms of your overall question, which seems to be asking why i don’t conform to the prevailing “wisdom” on these issues, I would say that the main reason is the hypocrisies of the “wisdom”. If it were simply a matter of different perspectives, then i may be able to recognize the differences as being honest differences. In terms of Syria, I think they are honest differences in strategy… But Israel and the USA expect an extreme amount of energy purposely falsifying the record and explicitly distorting history and the nature of the conflict. Debates among Syrians on how to deal with their government are honest debates. Debates on the Israel problem are not. So arguing about the Israel problem becomes either 1) educating the absolutely uninformed 2) breaking through the lies and distortion. This is unlike other debates. Thus, I find it necessary to totally reject the terms of the debate. The terms of the debate are ridiculous. and an important part in working toward justice is correcting the historical record.

___________

SHAI,
I recognize that the many of the ideas, including the green line and the “peace park” are also partially Arab. But, they are not voluntary on the part of the Arabs, the Arabs are facing the barrel of a gun when they advocate these positions.

April 2nd, 2008, 1:40 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joe,

Thank you. It’s a rare person who responds to an inordinately long series of questions with a full answer.

I will mull this over, and probably respond with more questions, if you do not mind.

April 2nd, 2008, 1:50 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
Let’s compare. Here are the requirements to become a French citizen:

According to the Civil Code, you may acquire French nationality in the following circumstances:
> one of your parents is French
> you have been married to a French person for more than one year and are still living together
> you have not lived in France for over a year, but you are married to a French person and have had a child together before or after the marriage, and you are still living together

The Israeli law makes you a citizen if one of the conditions of the French applies OR being a Jew as defined by the law of return and being married to one. So in fact, the Israeli law is more lenient than the French law. The facts speak for themselves.

April 2nd, 2008, 2:01 am

 

Shai said:

Joe M.,

I understand this is how you feel and, in the end, you may be right. But then look at how ridiculous the situation is – Assad wants peace now because he has a barrel of gun pointed at his head. I want peace now because I believe we ALL have a barrel of gun (or rather TNT) pointed at our heads. So, do we avoid peace, even a superficial one, because “cool headed” individuals want to make peace when everything is “hamdila”, and not a clear and present danger? Maybe. But I think it is doubtful that Bashar is being forced into this peace. Remember, it is HE, and the rest of his leadership, that are asking for peace, for a number of years now. No Israelis are pressuring him, and now, since the Bush Administration, also no Americans. So where is the pressure coming from? I’d much rather believe it is out of “cool headed” thinking and historic strategic making. Is it wishful thinking? Maybe. But then, do I have a better alternative?

I don’t agree with your thinking, that anyone making peace with Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved, is “selling out” the Palestinians. Egypt and Jordan didn’t sell you out, because in almost every way possible, we don’t have peace with them. Can an Israeli walk freely in the souqs of Cairo or Amman? No. And that’s because signing a peace treaty doesn’t mean reconciliation, or forgiveness, as I suggested earlier. Undoubtedly, until the Palestinian issue is resolved, no true peace can exist between Jews and Arabs. But if we can’t start with the Palestinians now (given the current Fatah-Hamas rift), should we not do the other part of the equation, withdrawal from the Golan Heights? We must complete these two withdrawals before we have peace. Personally, I think the Palestinians will only benefit from such a peace treaty with Syria, because it will bring about the exact kind of optimism that is so desperately lacking in the region now, and will pressure Israelis and Palestinians to at last put an end to our differences. If there is a likelihood that Hamas and Israelis will sit at the same table to talk, it is certainly more so after a peace agreement is signed with Damascus, than before. We’d all like to believe otherwise, but I believe this is the reality on the ground.

April 2nd, 2008, 3:51 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
You know where Maccabi plays? In the NOKIA Arena in Tel-Aviv. Really, how can this be happening? Don’t you write to your politicians?

So what AIG. Business is business. Nokia makes even business in Uzbekistan, where by the way USA has military bases. Israel makes business with Burma and all possible little dictators who have gemstones. Do they have in Burma a Ariel Sharon stadium? 🙂

By the way it is going good with Israel also on the other fields than football fields. Now it is only the second most negative looked county in the world. Before it was the worst.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7324337.stm

Seem that the world is still not admiring your religious nations “democracy”. 🙂

April 2nd, 2008, 6:52 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
There is difference between doing business and sponsoring a major arena, don’t you think? The Nokia name is associated with Israel in a big way and each time Maccabi plays at home the sports sections of the European paper speak of Nokia arena. It seems Nokia is proud to be associated with Israel, otherwise why would they make this sponsorship move? If most Finns as you say despised Israel, Nokia would not have done this. At least Nokia is admiring the Israeli democracy.

Did you notice that only 14 countries in the world were graded in the poll, and one of them was Israel with its 7 million people? These polls are meaningless by the way. There are 1.4 billion muslims in the world and many muslim countries in which Israel is not portrayed fairly. We saw this effect in the UN in which for decades resolutions against Israel were passed in the General Assembly.

April 2nd, 2008, 12:00 pm

 

Naji said:

Majhool,
Of course you are correct, and that is why most would be very hesitant to take on this task. Dardari was also very hesitant, but he did take it on and, once he did, he did his best… with mixed results, but nevertheless, results…!!

The fact that the only praise many can give him is about not being corrupt (and he certainly is not), tells you something about how rare a quality this has become in our Syria…!!

April 2nd, 2008, 12:10 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I would be curious to know how you perceive the loyalty of the arab-Israelis? Are they ready to side on Israel if it is threatened or in the contrary go against it like the palestinians did in Kuwait?
Are they a time-bomb or most of them are integrated sufficiently to feel part of the Israeli society and want it no harm?
Do they realize they are, as AIG would put it, priviledged to live in a “rich and successful democracy”?
An additional question: How do you explain that the Syrians in the occupied Golan have refused the israeli citizenship?

April 2nd, 2008, 3:07 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Excellent questions. Let me start by saying that Arab Israelis are as loyal to Israel as non-Arab Israelis are. Of course now we ask what is “loyal”, and why is it that so many Israelis view them as being disloyal. Arab Israelis are happy and proud that they’re living in Israel, a democracy rather than a dictatorship. They enjoy far more freedoms here than they would anywhere else in the Middle East. This is not propaganda, it’s fact, and you don’t need to ask me, or Jewish Israelis, you can ask Arab Israelis directly. But (and this is a big “but”), they are certainly discriminated against, though not by law (see my previous comments regarding this issue). They are unfortunately treated as 2nd-class citizens, much like blacks are in America, and immigrants are in Europe (and I don’t buy that crap about French immigrants being French, therefore getting equal treatment. If they were getting equal treatment, you wouldn’t see so violent riots erupting every other Tuesday, like you do with North African immigrants, that “enjoy” equal French rights… )

However, there is a special circumstance with Arab Israelis, which perhaps no other minority group has elsewhere the same way, which is that Israel’s enemy also happens to be their direct and close relative. This puts them always in a very difficult position. Who should they support? Who should they be loyal to? When considering these questions, I always thought of what Jewish Americans would do if their direct relatives were the enemy of the United States, and not thousands of miles away, but on their border, and under their occupation. To me, it is clear that Arab Israelis must support the oppressed side, and not the oppressor. They cannot, however, raise arms against their own nation, and join the violent struggle. If they want to do so, they must leave Israel, and fight on behalf of another place. They can, and should, do absolutely everything else. Strike, campaign, rally, and oppose the oppressive policy in any democratic way. I too am against our policy, but I cannot raise arms and fight the soldiers that dehumanize Palestinians. I have to do so democratically. In a dictatorship, things could be much “easier”, but there is a price to pay for that as well. One of the reasons they are treated differently in Israel, is because the law does not force them to serve in the army, like it does all Jewish Israelis. The fear was, of course, that they would constantly be put in an impossible position, whereby they have to “fight” or face their brethren in battle. How could we possibly put them in this situation? But then, since almost all Israelis serve in the army, and those who don’t, even Jewish Israelis, have a harder time getting certain jobs, etc., the Arab Israelis certainly suffer from this innate inequality. This too needs to be worked out.

I believe Arab Israelis feel at home enough that they certainly do not wish for Israel to be wiped off the face of the planet, nor do they like the one-state solution. They don’t want harm to come to their country, though they want a very different country to evolve. They do not want Israel to be a “Jewish state”, which does insinuate that it is less for them as it is for Jews, despite the laws that supposedly state the opposite. They do not want an Israel that oppresses anyone, certainly not their Palestinian brethren. While many Arabs are certainly “rich and successful”, most aren’t, their chances of becoming so are far lower than mine or AIG’s, and for them it is much more an uphill battle. AIG and I both know that Israel has a lot do improve on regarding our treatment of the Arab Israelis, and I believe we both agree that this must be done.

As to your last question (Syrians in occupied Golan), the Druze on the Golan have, for the past 30 years, been in an impossible situation of another sort. On the one hand, Israel annexed the Golan, and as such, considered it Israeli territory, and anyone living there was to become Israeli, if they chose to. Many Druze certainly did take Israeli citizenship, and many even joined and are serving in the IDF (many more than sometimes is spoken about). But there are many, who indeed decided not to take Israeli citizenship, I believe out of either fear that should the Golan ever be returned to Syria, they may be deemed traitors, for having accepted this out of will, and not force. Or, that they simply did not feel like they had any loyalty towards Israel who, at the end of the day, conquer this territory from Syria, which was and is still their nation. So these are the two main reasons, I believe, and one will never know which is the case (or both). There was a joke once about the fact that in the mayor’s office in Majdal Shams, there is a picture of the current Israeli president, and that anytime there’s talk of returning the Golan, the mayor rotates it, to reveal a picture of Assad (father, then son)… Again, a sort of impossible situation. Thankfully, they were never forced to take Israeli citizenship.

Did I answer everything?… I sure wrote a lot… 🙂

April 2nd, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

Thanks for the thorough description. I accept the fact that the arab israelis enjoy a higher quality of life than their relatives in Gaza. Anywhere is better than Gaza or the west bank!
I also understand their ambiguous attitude towards a “jewish israel” that seems to exclude them and the dilemma they would have if they have to choose camp at a point or another.
Yes, their voice in the arab media is almost null. In Jazeera ( supposedly more open) I never saw interviews with any arab-israeli. Are they afraid to say they are happy for fear of looking like traitors? It must be a very incomfortable situation to have to play on 2 identities an nationalities. I guess Israel is a mosaic of emigrants, african, Russians, etc.. like Australia where people live in separate communities with only convenient interaction. Are there separate schools for arab-israelis? Do you happen to have close arab israeli friends? Do askenaze and sepharade mix socially? Do you have hassidic friends?
As for the syrians, they are in an even more ambiguous reality, what will the future of the Golan be?
Thanks for the clarifications

April 2nd, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I’m more than happy to share with you my opinion on these important issues. Feel free to ask anything, just as I do with my fellow Arab friends here.

It’s an interesting point you made about Arab Israelis in the Arab media. I never noticed this before, but yes, if very few if any are interviewed it must point to a certain fear they have, of being deemed almost “traitors”. After all, they are Israelis, they vote for representatives in our Knesset, they pay taxes, etc. So to express “satisfaction” with any of our enemies might be very problematic, especially if you’re well known in Israel. Having said that, this never stopped Azmi Bshara from being interviewed and, supposedly, from siding a bit too much with our enemy… (allegedly, he provided intelligence to certain parties, though he ran away before being put on trial for this – I don’t know if he’s innocent, or not). There are some other Arab Israeli leaders, mostly from either the Arab political parties in Knesset, or religious leaders, that I believe are interviewed quite often on Arab media (mostly Palestinian, I believe), and on Israeli media of course. Why they’re not getting to al-Jazeera, I don’t know. They certainly don’t seem to be afraid to voice their opinions, nor their support of the Palestinians (even Hezbollah at times).

Arab Israelis typically live in their own towns and villages in Israel, so naturally they have their own schools and communities. They do interact with Jewish Israelis, mostly through commerce, government, etc. But “after work”, they normally would not be found going out into town with their Jewish friends. Especially nowadays, with the level of tension in the region. Yes, I have a number of very good Arab-Israeli friends, though most of my Arab friends live abroad (U.S., Europe) These are friends I made when living abroad, quite a few years ago. I’ve been fortunate enough to know and befriend many Arabs, from almost every Arab country you can imagine. Undoubtedly, this is the main reason I am so sure that Israelis and Arabs should be ready for peace with one another. I know both sides well, I believe.

Although Spharadi Jews are still looked upon by quite a few Ashkenazi Jews as “not exactly equal” (basically a racist way of looking at people), there is almost complete integration in the major towns and cities. In the poorer regions, there are clear communities of both, but even within these, there are integrated marriages taking place, etc. For people in their 40’s or younger, there’s basically no difference, like there once was 20, 30, 40 years ago. We certainly mix socially, everywhere, and in many cases, if not most, you wouldn’t even be able to tell us apart. Israel has plenty of sun, so many of us “white Ashkenazi’s” are quite tan… 🙂 I personally do not have any Hassidic friends. I have my own “issues” with Hassidic, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, but they’re an entire whole complex issue in itself. They’re a very closed society within our open society, they even have their own courts, their own internal laws, you name it. Their women enjoy far fewer rights than secular women do, but it is such a closed system, that it is rare to see men or women able to escape from it (if they do, it’s almost impossible for them to go back). A very sad situation, which does have to be worked out. Like anywhere, most of these people are very good, honest, deeply religious people. But they do not practice democracy like you and I do, and some of them pay that price. Apropos integration, they are undoubtedly the least integrated part of society, with the rest of us (with the exception, perhaps, of the Beduins).

As for the Syrians, or Druze, living on the Golan, I believe when we give it back to Syria, they’ll most likely remain there, and simply remain Syrian. Those who took Israeli citizenship (and perhaps even served in the army), may choose to give it up (though I don’t see a reason not to have duel-citizenship, just like anywhere in the world), or may even choose to move into Israel proper. I imagine most will stay where they are, which will become recognized by Israel as officially Syrian, and no longer Israeli-held territory. I don’t think their situation is as difficult as the Arab Israelis is. They know that Bashar is only too happy to receive them warmly. They may worry about their standard of living, or economic situation, once under Syrian rule, but that’s a whole other issue which I cannot pretend to know. I suppose, if some of them feel they can earn much more inside Israel, perhaps they’ll move to some of the Druze villages in the Western Gallilee, or elsewhere. I imagine no one will be able to stop them, especially those with Israeli citizenship.

April 2nd, 2008, 7:52 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
There is difference between doing business and sponsoring a major arena, don’t you think? The Nokia name is associated with Israel in a big way and each time Maccabi plays at home the sports sections of the European paper speak of Nokia arena. It seems Nokia is proud to be associated with Israel, otherwise why would they make this sponsorship move? If most Finns as you say despised Israel, Nokia would not have done this. At least Nokia is admiring the Israeli democracy.

Pure BS AIG. Nokia advertises in most international sport events as multinational companies do. Maybe the name of the stadium was offered for a low price to Nokia, because others did not want it. And Nokia’s advertising guys were naive and did not think enough about the consequences. One thing you can be certain the markets of those 1.2 million Muslims are much more important than Israel ever. As they are to all non Israeli companies.

If Nokia get to much attention linked with Israel (=negative in business) the stadium will most certainly have a new name very soon.

Did you notice that only 14 countries in the world were graded in the poll, and one of them was Israel with its 7 million people? These polls are meaningless by the way. There are 1.4 billion muslims in the world and many muslim countries in which Israel is not portrayed fairly. We saw this effect in the UN in which for decades resolutions against Israel were passed in the General Assembly.

Hmmm you theory is naive. Would the “Muslim” poll participants have then voted Iran as the first. You know I suppose that Iran is a Muslim country. Well what has 7 million – 2 million Arabs to do with the results. Should Israel get a bigger portion in the results than those 1.2 billion Muslims. Hmmmm were is your logic AIG or didn’t you notice the title of the poll. How the WORLD views…

By the way in UN voting the results normally have been for decades Israel + USA + some Pacific island against the rest of the world. That is “unfair” isn’t it AIG.

You IGs have an astonishing ability to find unbelievable explanations in your “victim strategy”.

April 2nd, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

“If Nokia get to much attention linked with Israel (=negative in business) the stadium will most certainly have a new name very soon.”

But that is the whole point Sim. That hasn’t happened. The largest and most important Finnish high tech company, and one of the largest companies in Finland and for sure the most well known, chooses to have an arena in Tel-Aviv named after it. It seems also that this is the ONLY sport arena in the world that Nokia has named after it. (Could you check this for me?)

Now, this shows that all you are preaching about Finnish attitudes towards Israel is bogus. In fact, Nokia has an especially favorable relation with Israel even though Israel as you say is a small market.

And look, it is not only the arena, Nokia is investing a lot of money in Israeli startups:
http://www.inminds.co.uk/boycott-nokia.html

What is happening to Finland? Don’t the Finns know like you how terrible Israel is?

April 2nd, 2008, 9:27 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Oh no! Horror of Horrors! Nokia Siemens Networks (the infrastructure merger of Nokia and Siemens) has purchased a few Israeli companies over the years and has a development center in Israel. You really need to be active in Finalnd and let people know what is going on.

In the meantime, let me thank you for supporting Israel’s booming economy.

April 2nd, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re STILL talking about Nokia? 🙂 In the meantime, my N95 keeps turning itself off every few days, despite having a full battery… You think it’s sensing my Zionism? By the way, I responded to your question a bit earlier on the next thread (p=648).

April 2nd, 2008, 9:50 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Well IG’s you lack of understanding multinational corporations is astonishing. Nokia and Nokia-Siemens have research centres all around the world. Also in other human rights problem countries, like in China. As I said the Israeli markets are minor for Nokia and if Nokia or any big company would have to choose between Israel or the “Muslim markets” there would be only one outcome. Certainly you IGs know what it is, but you do not dare to say it.

Also Nokia certainly doesn’t want to much media coverage as a “supporter” of Israel. Like no other big company doesn’t want.

IGs name one multinational Israeli company. Israeli companies do everything they can to loose the Israeli identity operating through USA. In Finnish shops I have only seen Israeli oranges (which sell every year less and less) and some crackers (with an extreme small font Made in Israel). Hightech products you know.

Maybe Shai’s problem handy was made in a Israeli “basement” factory and sold as an original to a naive, simple customer. Who knows. 🙂

The other explanation might be that Iranians remote control “the Bibi peace man’s” phone.
Israel: Iran listening in on IDF communications from Syria

PS
AIG why did you not answer to those your poll claims to which I answered? Do they all in UN vote against Israel because they are misinformed or because they are informed?

April 2nd, 2008, 10:39 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

You really know how to get under a Finn’s skin. Or maybe the better expression, given the current discussion, is “pushing his buttons.”

And SimoHurtta, you realize what you’ve done? You’ve effected a rapprochement between Shai and AIG, once unthinkable!

Finally, Syria Comment is achieving its goal of reinforcing nationalism … except it’s Israeli nationalism! 😉

April 3rd, 2008, 12:02 am

 

Naji said:

QN,
You do come up with clever remarks and astute observations… 🙂

April 3rd, 2008, 1:20 am

 

Enlightened said:

AIG, Shai

I buy these tinned cucumbers (pickled Kosher) from Israel sold in Aus, quite delicious, even though they made in that very Bad Zionist entity (lol), they were being sold by a lot of the Arab shop merchants here (a lot of them didn’t read english ) they were a good seller until someone pointed out to them were they were made. They dropped it like a hot Kebab.

The Turkish merchants then picked it up, and I buy it from there. cant beat Capitalism, oh and Profits!

April 3rd, 2008, 1:28 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

Good one! Funny how we “simple minds” reconsider once we’re faced with a bad experience. I, for instance, am looking at my Nokia N95 completely differently now, after the FG anomaly I’ve come across… 🙂 You know, he’s starting to get into personal stuff again. I mean, how would he feel if all I did on SC was go on and on about Finland’s world’s highest suicide rate, or its recent young citizen who destroyed one of the ancient statues on Easter Island, or their Foreign Minister who had to be kicked out because of 200 SMS messages to a stripper, etc.? If I wanted to, I could go verbal-bashing Finalnd and this FG into high-heaven, every day, every hour. But would that contribute to anything? Would that make me a better person? You know, I apologized to him personally in an earlier comment, in a way that really wasn’t easy or comfortable for me. He had been pushing my buttons since day one, from the very first comment he made to me. I was hoping he’d get the message. But he didn’t, and he still doesn’t. What shall I do? I have relatives in Australia, who could take me in, but there’s internet there as well… I can’t escape him! It’s becoming a haunting experience…

Aside from him, I actually happened to like Finland. I think it’s a nation we could all learn a lot from. Not only from its Nokia success story, but also from a lot of what that nation stands for. But you see, this guy could never say anything like that about Israel. If he was in a good enough, and sarcastic mood, he might slip a “I’m sure there are some good people there, like anywhere in the world…”, but aside from that, it’s all criminals, corrupt people, concentration-camp guards (his words), etc. So what do I do? I try not to engage him, and he continues Israel-bashing, but this time with AIG. So I throw in a comment to AIG about my N95 turning off every few days, perhaps “sensing my Zionism”, and he goes back to attacking me personally. What do you say, Enlightened, you’re objective enough from where you stand… what to do??? 🙂

April 3rd, 2008, 4:31 am

 

Enlightened said:

Shai!

I honestly think that sometimes we as human beings have one major fault, and that is we are intolerable of each other. Do what I do, just tune out and have “Me Space”, it does wonders for your sanity!

And secondly we all see things with different colour receptors in our eyes, it would be better if we saw things in black and white but that is the reality, that we dont.

Thirdly if that doesnt work apply Enlightened theory on “Never argue with a madman, people might not know the difference” ( I ripped that one off from someone, but dont tell )

April 3rd, 2008, 5:00 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

I don’t know which one would work best for me, but one thing’s for sure, you do have some good advice. And not only on handling such commentators on SC.

Cheers mate.

April 3rd, 2008, 5:12 am

 

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