President Assad is “more optimistic than any time before.” / Carter is “very upbeat”

Posted by Alex

Thanks to IDAF who translated the highlights of President Assad's talk during his meeting with Arab Intellectuals who participated in the "Conference on Pan-Arab Thought Revival and Arab Destiny" held in Damascus this week.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss and Palestinian activist Azmi Bishara were among the attendees.

Original article in Arabic here: http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/70804
 

20080415-144027.JPG
 
Lebanon:
Syria does not keep an equal distance with all Lebanese factions, nonetheless we acted responsibly and invited PM Saniora to the Arab summit despite all the insults directed at us from the Lebanese fraction that Saniora belongs to. We view our differences with some Lebanese political factions as temporary disagreement. We feel that the US is satisfied with the current situation in Lebanon and does not want to reach a solution.
 
Other external parties that have influence in Lebanon do not support the Arab initiative.
 
I met with Saudi FM prince Saud Al-Faisal here in Syria and told him that we are ready to cooperate, but you Saudis have greater influence in Lebanon, as the governing authority in Lebanon includes key leaders "that grew in your lap and live through your support and are directly under your influence". The opposition on the other hand was not manufactured at the presidential palace in Syria. It is not true that we have more influence on the Lebanese opposition compared to your influence on the government. We have a clear vision for the solution for Lebanon.

Any initiative from our part would require establishing good relationships with the other external parties with influence in Lebanon such as the Saudis and the Egyptians.
 
Iraq:
Collin Powel met with me in Damascus weeks after the fall of Baghdad and read what is now known as the "conditions list". The list did not only ask for expulsion of Palestinian leadership from Syria, but also included a condition that I never mentioned before, that forbids Syria from hosting Iraqi scientists and Iraqi intellectuals. Later we saw these targeted in Iraq.

We were expecting to see an Iraqi resistance emerging against the occupation, but we were surprised with the pace that this resistance transformed its efforts quantitatively and qualitatively, compared to similar experiences of resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine.
 
Syria calls for an Iraqi national reconciliation congress that would draft a new Iraqi constitution.
 
The case in Iraq today is not a civil war, but a group of militias fighting to create a reality on the ground. Syria hosts over 1.5 million Iraqis from various backgrounds. No fighting took place between these sects in Syria. This proves that there are no inherent problems that make civil war inevitable… It is mainly the occupation that is behind the violence in Iraq.

Any talk on the interests of sects will not bear any fruit, and will not lead to development and unity in Iraq. Any constitution that is based on distributing interests based on sectarian divisions will not lead to stability. Al-taif constitution in Lebanon is a case in point.
 
Some in the Arab world might be waiting for the new US administration so they can decide their next steps on Iraq and other issues.
 
Iran:
There is a joint Israeli-US interest in creating an enemy of the Arabs out of Iran. We know that Iran has its interests [in the Arab world] and maybe there were Iranian mistakes in managing some issues. This does not justify looking at Iran as an enemy of the Arabs. I told Arab leaders who blame Syria for its relation with Iran that we have to judge this relationship case by case and not take an absolute stance.

 
Palestine:
As the president of the Arab summit this year, Syria is coordinating between Hamas and Abbas.
 
If Syria's relationship with Egypt was in a better state, we would have managed to find a solution for Gaza's closure.
 
We considered the Yemeni initiative to be a solid starting point, and Hamas told us that they are willing to go with this initiative all the way, but the other side was not enthusiastic.
 
I think that there is a veto against Palestinian reconciliation. Syria does not have direct methods to interact directly. 

Syria:
I'm optimistic, everyday our situation is improving while, Syria's enemies situations are getting complicated.
 
Syria is immune from the sectarian problems, because there is an agreement on the national stance between the people and the government.
 
Israel
Israel wants to normalization with the Arabs instead of peace.
 
War is a possibility now. It will depend on US interests. For example, Israel wanted to halt the war (in 2006) in Lebanon at one point in time, but the US forced it to continue fighting. We understand that a [Syrian-Israeli] war would be a demand by this US administration and we are preparing for the worst. However, we do not see it happening. After the last war on Lebanon, I noticed an increase in the nubmer of visits by western delegations [to Syria], especially Jewish ones. I noticed that the discussions' nature has changed dramatically from threats and pressure [on Syria] into seeking a way to peace. Some frankly said that the last war should speed up the process for reaching peace. Israelis have offered us secret negotiations and we rejected. We do not have anything to hide. 

I'm more optimistic than any time before.

 

———————–

Comments by Alex:

I think the obvious message from Syria is:

“Any initiative from our part would require establishing good relationships with the other external parties with influence in Lebanon such as the Saudis and the Egyptians.”

American, Egyptian and Saudi leaders are talking to anyone but Syria .. yet they want Syria and only Syria to solve the problems of Lebanon.

And they say that Lebanon is very important for them … but president Mubarak and King Abdullah (not to mention president Bush) do not want to meet with Assad.

King Abdullah even refused to meet with Lebanese speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.

But he frequently meets with the President of Iran that many of his allies consider to be a dangerous man. And his media talking heads frequently express their country's disappointment in Assad's close relations with Iran.

withiran.jpg 

Also this week, President Mubarak met with King Abdullah … it was their own Arab summit. The summit of the clueless Arab leaders.

picture-5.png

In the mean time, a recent poll conducted in leading Arab states found President Assad to be the most popular Arab head of state.

Today Assad met with former President Jimmy Carter in Damascus. According to Haaretz "Carter is very upbeat"

 carter.JPG

 

Comments (129)


Pages: « 1 2 [3] Show All

101. SimoHurtta said:

Good for you, though in technology it is really one of the worst as recent rankings show.

AIG actually Israel did not rank with technology so good. It was number 16.

AIG, who own in the next 10 years the Fortune 500 companies. Most probably Arabs and Chinese.

PS.
AIG do you know who own the fast growing Muxlim service and from where it comes?
http://www.forbes.com/2007/10/05/website-religion-online-tech-cx_ag_1005godweb.html

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 20th, 2008, 10:14 pm

 

102. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Number 16 in the world is not so good? Ok, have it your way.
Let’s not forget Israel and the Arab states started the same 60 years ago. Israel is number 16, where is Syria? Why the huge difference?
Yes, soon the Arabs and Chinese are going to buy Nokia. Do you think they will then change the name of the Nokia Arena?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 20th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

103. Mazen said:

Sim,

Even if Israel was no. 1 in technology. That’s not the point. All invading colonial forces were technologically more advanced at first. But even that is not enough for them to feel secure.

Actually the dependency on an out-of-proportion advantage in technology and arms is a strategic weakness because it cannot be sustained forever.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 20th, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

104. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Mazen,
Good for you. You finally figured that out. Now, what are you going to do about making Syria more advanced technologically than Israel? For that you need well educated citizens. How are you going to improve the schools in Syria? How are you going to improve the universities? Are you happy with what Asad has done so far or do you think more needs to be done? Are you going to wait 50 years for Asad to improve things or are you going to demand improvement soon? Are you going to demand accountability from your government? Or, I going to blame Israel for your inactions or do the right thing and advance and be able to beat Israel? I really hope you do the right thing.

The Jewish “colonial force” was just as backward technologically as the Syrians in 48. That is a fact. Why has the huge technological difference emerged over the last 60 years? But please, don’t blame the Arabs, make sure your answer only blames Israel and the US.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 5:08 am

 

105. zenobia said:

aig,

actually, arabs who come to the west are not morally depraved or mercenary (weird choice of words) though few (in fact i haven’t met any) who agree with America’s support of Israel. Those who come have the ability to distinguish between a government and its policies and the american people who are very varied in their opinions and beliefs. Arabs don’t blame all americans for certain policies of our gov’t – obviously.

Again, it is strange to me. Who here claimed that all Syria’s problems are caused by Israel? I don’t think we said that, even if the antagonism between the two countries and the threat of war has contributed to the problems.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 5:55 am

 

106. Shai said:

AIG,

Chag Sameach. When pushed into a corner, few will give you the answer you require. Getting Syria to become a democracy is probably far more difficult than you or I could possible understand. The challenges the Syrian people are up against are tremendous. Of course blaming Israel won’t exactly advance progress, to say the least, but perhaps congratulating them on any achievement is a better tactic than highlighting their shortcomings? That’s my “good cop” kind of way, I guess… (as some here suggest).

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:06 am

 

107. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
The US has been pursuing the same policy for 40 years, and it is a democracy. How are the people of the US not reponsible for this policy?

You just argued that the situation in Syria is not its citizen’s fault. You also argued that they are cautious and don’t want change. Syria’s problems are whose fault then?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:10 am

 

108. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Chag Sameach gam lecha.
I like debating, you want to find a solution. To each his own.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:13 am

 

109. zenobia said:

It is a dumb question. Whose “fault” is development or non-development???…

I mean… societies are complex… there is not one reason that you can attribute all to specific people. And there are things like tradition and religion that impact these things. Economy, which is not all sourced to one moment in time or one group of people.

I mean the French were in charge of Syria for a long time- why didn’t they fix all the problems…since they are such ‘developed’ European people with great values.

whose fault is the desertification in Syria…. maybe it it the Ottomans fault since they chopped down most of the trees.

Why are you looking for specific people to blame for all problems???? You are asking questions based on things that I don’t even understand to be useful questions. These are not like asking who was at fault for a particular law or a particular incident. The state of affairs is a result of a long complicated history and trajectory of developments.

Some people would say that the take over in power of Hafez al Assad would not have happened if the Syrians were not so upset after the 67 war that they were looking for a strong man to lead their country.
So maybe we should blame conflict with Israel. : ) for this rise of a dictator.

yes, the people are cautious. they are not sure they want change in all the ways you speak of. Of course, everyone want economic growth. but they are willing to be patient if it means they feel safe and not challenged to change their whole society. Alas, that is what i observed.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:23 am

 

110. Shai said:

AIG,

If you ask my wife, she’ll tell you I like debating plenty… 🙂 But you’re right, I am seeking a solution, though in recent days, I can’t say I’m overly optimistic…

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:30 am

 

111. zenobia said:

Dear AIG…i also begin to think that you know little about America too.

I hate to break the news to you….but…. it is only small percentage of Americans who concern themselves about Israel or even know anything about the US relationship to this country beyond the cliche that the two countries are geopolitical allies.

I think most americans… would not even know about the economic and military aid that is provided to Israel every year.
and even fewer people of the general public know anything about the Palestinians… until recently when they get to hear about the “terrorists”… now confounded misleadingly with those responsible for Jihad a la 9/11/01 and the like.

I hate to break the news that you are not the news most of the time… and the people who do care are mainly American jews and Arab americans and academics and the progressive communities sprinkled around the country. so, ….. believe it or not….. many policies and laws and crap goes on in Washington that few americans are aware of or know enough about to make informed decisions.
This is why people here keep trying to educate you to the fact that AIPAC has far more power than you might think from the numbers of its members or the money that it throws around. They are there for every political issue on the floor of congress that they want to influence, but unfortunately very few of their adversaries are organized on the level to present an alternative view or position – nor do they have the money (as AIPAC does) to threaten to run opposition candidates and campaigns against candidates who don’t agree with their position.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:36 am

 

112. Shai said:

Zenobia,

Good Morning! I think one of the main problems for the Arabs is the very real fear of what may happen if or once their current regime is replaced. As totalitarian or authoritarian as the regimes may be, they at least brought internal stability, as you suggested. But everyone knows that for serious reforms to take place, certainly for democracy to form, major changes will have to be made by the existing regimes, or by their replacements. The examples of Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and now Palestine, are certainly in every Arab’s mind, when considering what a change in the regime may entail. I can’t blame the Arab reluctance, or plain fear, of major change occurring too quickly.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 6:39 am

 

113. zenobia said:

Hello!…. good morning to you!…but for me- i will go to sleep pretty soon…..: ) as I am ten hours behind you. Thanks for your thought.

I definitely agree. People in Syria are very afraid of the future and the unknown possibilities. Most people are living on the edge financially and trying to have security… but they feel very threatened by the outside…
Perhaps this is very displaced as -there are so many things causing hardship from inside. And they will acknowledge that too when they are feeling comfortable. But there is this very basic arabic mentality… that is as old as civilization…
This is that they defend life in this order: me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against my neighbor, me and my neighbor against the next village, my village and the next village against the outside tribe and so on and so forth.

The implication of this is that …. Syrians may have problems with other Syrians or their government…but their loyalty will be with their countrymen -even to their leaders they resent- if it comes down to threats from external forces or outside actors.

I once listened to someone in Syria talk for more than an hour about all the reasons he hates the gov’t and even expressed quite blatant hostility towards Alawis in general. He was extremely bitter due to people he had known who had lost family members killed or disappeared during the 80’s. He spoke with fury and a vengeful tone.
However, when I asked about how he would feel about opposition figures who are in the west now- coming back in to take over through a coup -even a bloodless one- such as Khaddam or another…. , he didn’t miss a beat informing me that he completely refused such a thing. He stated that compared to that- he would still vote for Assad over that type of opposition sponsored from the outside or by the west. This was rejected out of hand, as he did not trust any such persons.

I use the word caution a lot to speak of the Syrian character, but fearful is also very accurate, fear and mistrust for certain.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 7:03 am

 

114. wizart said:

Well everybody assumes America is a Democracy although it’s really more like a one party system with two factions and little variations among them. The average American, like Zenobia hinted earlier, does not engage in politics to the level of being politically aware of conflicts half way around the world. Most Americans spend their entire life in the states and even president Bush himself only started traveling overseas extensively and learning about the world after he become president. Americans for the most part work hard all week, watch films (and headline news) in the evening and football on weekends! Hot travel spots often means going for a week or so in Cancun, Paris or some tropical Island in Thailand or elsewhere.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 7:36 am

 

115. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Well then, instead of educating me, organize an alternative to AIPAC. And if you can’t, then stop complaining. AIPAC is a prefectly legal organization that works within the laws. The Americans that form and support AIPAC have every right to do so. All your comments sound hollow if you are not willing to take the elementary steps to counter AIPAC. AIPAC is not too strong, you are too weak. Nobody is stopping the American Arabs from organizing.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 1:08 pm

 

116. wizart said:

AIG,

If you can barely face the truth about your own country, who’s going to believe your claims about the American political system? Most of us here know more about it through its foreign policy yet you keep attacking us even when most Americans are still asleep!

You’re simply dedicated to trying to change important subjects as usual. We want the Golan back because it’s not yours and it belongs to Syria. You live in denial in a world of fantasy and you love attention even when it comes from the enemies you love to create.

May we suggest you stop all your smoke and mirrors and start facing the music as it is. (Be courageous and confront your politicians!)

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 1:35 pm

 

117. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
I love it when a Syrian gives Israelis advice to face their politicians. The irony there is precious. How about getting an accountable government in Syria?

Building successful countries and political organizations is hard. Complaining and asking others to work is easy. Why don’t you stop complaining and do something positive? You always have an excuse what not do and when you do something and fail you blame Israel or AIPAC.

You may want the Golan back but it is Israeli now because you started a war and lost. That is how it works. Don’t start wars you may lose. But who am I kidding. Instead of blaming the people that got you into the 67 war (Hafez was defence minister), you blame the Israelis for winning. How crazy is that? Do you understand why few people think you make sense?

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 2:02 pm

 

118. wizart said:

AIG,

Where do you get your information that Assad started that war and therefore you can keep it? What were you doing in June 1967?

http://www.arabmediawatch.com

The Golan Heights then and now

Prior to 1967, the Syrian population of the Golan Heights was roughly 140,000, living in two cities (Quneitra and Afiq), 164 villages and 146 agricultural farms. Almost all of them were uprooted and expelled during and after the war, forced to relocate to refugee camps around Damascus and today numbering around half a million people.

Following Israel’s conquest, the two cities, 130 villages and 112 agricultural farms were destroyed. Six villages with a total population of 7,000 remained. In 1971, the Israelis destroyed the village of Sukhatah and deported its residents to the adjacent village of Masadah. The place of Sukhatah was turned into a military base.

Today, the Golan communities are concentrated in five villages: Majdal Shams, Masadah, Buqatah and Ain Kinya to the north and east of the heights, and Ghajar in the northwest. Today the number of Syrians living in the Golan Heights totals around 20,000, the majority Druze with an Allawite minority. There are a similar number of Israeli settlers, and continued settlement, though illegal under international law, is actively encouraged.

Identity

At the time of the
Golan Heights Law, the Arab population was obliged to change its citizenship from Syrian to Israeli, which was met with complete opposition and resulted in a six-month general strike and other non-violent actions. Identity cards handed out by the Israeli authorities were publicly burned, and eventually the authorities relented and allowed the Arab residents to retain their Syrian citizenship.

http://www.alternativenews.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=186&Itemid=70

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 2:17 pm

 

119. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
The Syrian regime partnered with the Egyptian regime and they started the war by blocking the Tyran straits. This is very well known (Asad was part of the regime).

Blocking maritme routes is an internationally recognized act of war. Egypt and Syria started the war. They lost land and they complain? The Golan belongs now to Israel. Get used to it.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 2:26 pm

 

120. wizart said:

AIG,

Really? That’s news to me. Was that another act of deception or a pretext for taking over parts of three different countries? What kind of religion does your logic come from? No wonder you’re an atheist!
—————————————————————–
Strategic importance

The pro-Israel lobby continues to claim that the Golan Heights is of great strategic military importance to Israel due to the territory’s topography and plateaus, which overlook southern Syria and northern Israel. Furthermore, they claim that Israel captured the territory in 1967 because it was used by Syria to menace its southern neighbour.

Firstly, the strategic value of a territory provides absolutely no moral or legal justification for its conquest by a foreign force.

Secondly, in the words of Israel’s then-Defence Minister Moshe Dayan, released posthumously, Israeli policy on the Syrian border between 1949 and 1967 consisted of “snatching bits of territory and holding on to it until the enemy despairs and gives it to us.” Concerning border incidents in the Golan Heights, he goes on:

“I know how 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let’s talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plow someplace where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also…” (Rami Tal, “Moshe Dayan: Soul Searching,” Yediot Aharonot, 27 April 1997, cited Shlaim, pp. 235-6)

http://www.arabmediawatch.com

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 2:35 pm

 

121. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes Wizart the sky is green. You are denying well known facts.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 3:05 pm

 

122. wizart said:

You’re being deceptive. The sky is blue. What’s green is the Golan.

I see you have a case of projective identification where you deny your own denial by assuming your enemy is in denial. Very difficult case.
——————————————————————–

Imagine starting a five-day day vacation hiking through the fluffy powder of snow-capped mountain peaks. Later, you head down to lush green valleys ripe with cow-grazing and grape- growing. Finally, you end up on the palm-lined shores of a tranquil lake, the winter water warm enough to dive into. Each evening you’re treated to the remarkable cuisine of the area – homemade cheeses, giant fresh steaks and sparkling prize-winning wines. And then you retire to luxurious accommodations in wood-paneled chalets.

It sounds as if it is a trip that combines the best of the Swiss Alps, Napa Valley and Tuscany. But a hearty group of Californians recently found all the elements in one of international tourism’s best-kept secrets – the Golan Heights.

From the snow covered 6,000-foot heights of Mt. Hermon to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), which lies 200 feet below sea level, the Golan encompasses about 600 square miles. According to the California hiking group Friends of the Golan who traversed the terrain earlier this month, the Golan region is one of unparalleled beauty – both physically and spiritually.

“We went on a wonderful hiking trip – stayed in amazing places and ate wonderful food,” group leader Bennett Zimmerman told ISRAEl21c while relaxing from the journey days later in a Jerusalem hotel. “We went wine tasting – met incredibly friendly people. I can’t think of a better vacation spot.”

The Golan came under Israeli control as a result of the 1967 Six Day War. The kibbutz of Merom Golan was founded shortly after in July 1967, and by 1970, there were 12 Jewish communities on the Golan. Since the Yom Kippur War in October 1973 when Syrian forces attacked before being pushed back beyond the 1967 line by the main Israeli counterattack, the Golan has been one of Israel’s most peaceful borders Israel.

“When I mentioned that was planning a trip to the Golan to people back in LA, I heard things like, ‘ Wow it’s really heating up over there.’ But what people don’t realize is that the Golan has been nearly without incident for 30 years,” said Zimmerman, an investment banker. “It’s really an unknown aspect. When you say Golan Heights, people think politics and borders – we just say it’s an amazing piece of land to walk through.”

For the other members of the California delegation, the hike offered an eye-opening experience and an affordable vacation option that many Americans are unaware even exists. Dr. Roberta Seid, who walked with her husband Arnold, was impressed by the wide variety of landscapes and textures in such a relatively small area.

“I was taken aback by the breathtaking view – It’s like Montana or Wyoming, all rolling green fields with wild flowers sprouting up, and the wide open gorgeous spaces with cows grazing,” she said.

“It’s like a postcard,” chimed in Moti Gur, “When we started going down the last day to the valley between the Golan and the Galilee, there was such a dark vibrant green, it was like the volcanic slopes of Hawaii.”

While the Mt. Hermon range is mostly limestone, the Golan Heights proper are mostly basalt and other types of volcanic rock. The Heights are a plateau that drops off to the west, to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret and to the south, to the Yarmuk River.

Today, there are approximately 14,300 Jewish residents in 31 communities on the Golan Heights and the slopes of Mt. Hermon. These include kibbutzim, moshavim, and the town of Katzrin.

There are approximately 17,700 Druze and Muslim inhabitants on the Golan Heights today who reap the benefits of Israel’s welfare and social security systems. Israel has built or refurbished schools and classrooms and extended compulsory education from seven years to ten and has made secondary education available to girls for the first time.

The origins of the California trip to the Golan began back in 1999 when Zimmerman founded Friends of the Golan, an activist pro-Israel organization.

“What we noticed was unique about the group was that we brought in all kinds of people – who despite their political affiliations felt some connection to the Golan,” said Zimmerman.

In addition to lobby efforts and petition drives on behalf of Israel, the organization also looked to do things in a more positive and fun way, thus the idea of walking across the Golan. Zimmerman worked with the American Jewish Congress in LA, as well as organizations like Stand With US and Physicians for Israel, and soon the trip became a reality.

“It was more of a reward trip for activists who have been working for Israel,” said Zimmerman. And rewards there were plenty for the group.

Whether staying in the Alpine village of Neve Ativ at the foot of Mount Hermon or dining in the cowboy restaurant of Kibbutz Merom Golan, or visiting the ancient historical site of Gamla, the group gained new insight and varied views of the Golan.

But one thing they all agreed on was the wine. During the past 15 years, the Golan has been transformed into the Napa Valley of the Middle East with award winning wines being produced by the Golan Heights Winery and Chateau Golan. Ancient history tells of grapes being cultivated in Israel for thousands of years, in the Golan Heights region in particular. And today thanks to the Golan, Israel is on the map of the selected wines of the world.

“The Golan Wineries has done in a few years what it took France 400 years to do,” said orthodontist Don Salem. “They’re already getting gold medals.”

“And then you go to Chateau Golan and see what they’re building there and you go ‘my God, the Napa Valley is arising here,” he added.

“It’s an unspoiled Napa Valley,” chimed in Roberta Seid.

But, ultimately, beyond the wine, or the history or the snow, the hikers were taken in by a feeling of tranquility on the Golan that is missing from most parts of the world.

Ari Salem, Don’s recently marriedson, said that the greatest attribute of the Golan was the peacefulness.

“For me it was a stress-relieving experience – to leave the city and walk – the roads are basically empty, and you can feel like you’re alone with your thoughts in natures. It’s very therapeutic,” he said. “Plus you still have all the spoils of an incredibly hospitable surroundings at night. There’s a tremendous tourist appeal in that you can work up a sweat during the day and come back to a luxurious setting for a nice shower, an amazing meal and some incredible Golan wine.”

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

123. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
You keep quoting Israeli sources out of context and denying basic facts known to everybody. If the Arabs would have had a comission of investigation after 67 maybe they would have had any ground to stand on. But do Arabs investigate their mistakes? No. They invent excuses and expect people to listen to them. You have learned nothing in 60 years.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 3:32 pm

 

124. wizart said:

AIG,

The Arabs have become increasingly aware how your country (Israel) has been engaged in daylight theft, death, lies and videotapes with the full knowledge of its Jewish citizens. Perhaps you need a new religion? Have you tried Zen Buddism? It’ll help you live in peace with international laws.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

125. norman said:

Aig , said,

The Golan belongs now to Israel. Get used to it.

You are leaving no other choice but to get rid of Israel ,

It is good you live in the US. you do not have to worry about that .

Shai will.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 3:54 pm

 

126. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
I would take you seriously if it were not for the remarkable track record of the Arab countries in the last 60 years. Trash talk from people that cannot build anything is highly amusing.

It is you that is leaving no choice. I would be happy to give the Golan as a gesture of good will to a democratic Syria if it wants peace. But the Golan is not Syrian anymore. It is Israeli. You lost it in a war you started. That is the end of that.

But have it your way. Let’s fight this to the end. Either Syria goes or Israel goes. May the better country win. And remember, you asked for it, so no complaining afterwards.

The lion of Lebanon that is a mouse in the Golan will eventually give up the charade of getting back the Golan in order to keep his seat. After all, he is good mainly in fighting his own people. Israelis, not so much.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 4:06 pm

 

127. wizart said:

Iran And Syria Sign Defense Agreement

by Farhad Pouladi

Tehran (AFP) Jun 16, 2006

Defense ministers from close allies Iran and Syria on Thursday signed an agreement for military cooperation against what they called the “common threats” presented by Israel and the United States. In a joint press conference, Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and visiting Syrian counterpart Hassan Turkmani said their talks had been aimed at consolidating their defense efforts and strengthening support for one another.

“Our cooperation is based on a strategic pact and unity against common threats. We can have a common front against Israel’s threats,” Turkmani told reporters after two intensive rounds of talks with Najjar.

“Our cooperation with the Iranians against Israeli threats is nothing secret and we regularly consult about this with our friends,” he said.

Before the press conference, Iran’s defense ministry said the two sides “stressed strengthening mutual ties and the necessity to preserve peace and stability in the region.”

The defense ministry statement also said they discussed “ridding the region of weapons of mass destruction,” in an apparent reference to the widely held belief that Israel possesses nuclear warheads.

The United States has led opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is aimed at civilian energy purposes but which Washington suspects is a cover for atomic weapons-making.

US President George W. Bush has advocated diplomacy to resolve the international row over Iran’s aims but has also said “all options are on the table” if Iran refuses to halt sensitive uranium enrichment work.

Washington has included Syria in its so-called axis of evil that also comprises Iran and North Korea, citing these nations as “supporters of terrorism.”

Asked about US threats against Damascus and Tehran, both top brass brushed off the importance of such threats.

“This is nothing new, we will resist these threats,” the Syrian defense minister said.

However, Turkmani dismissed the possibility of hosting an Iranian military base on Syrian soil.

“The language of a (foreign) military base in our country is alien to us. I want to say that it is not on the agenda,” he added.

The Iranian defense minister said: “US threats are a kind of psychological operation. It is not new. With unity among the region’s nations, these threats will not prevail.”

Although the two refused to give specifics about the agreement for military cooperation, Najjar said Iran “considers Syria’s security its own security, and we consider our defense capabilities to be those of Syria.”

Najjar also shrugged off reports that Iran could pose a threat to the region.

“Iran is ready to sign a non aggression pact with regional countries,” he said.

“Our military warfare equipment is based on deterrent policies and strategy. Enemies should know about our capabilities and should not even think about an assault against us,” he said in response to a question about the optimization process going on for the medium range Shahab-3 missile.

Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles have a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,280 miles), capable of hitting arch-enemy Israel and US bases across the Middle East.

Najjar added that the Syrian side has purchased some Iranian military equipment, but did not elaborate on the purchased items and did not say whether the purchases were made as part of Thursday’s agreement.

During his trip, Turkmani has also met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic republic’s military chiefs and visited Iranian military factories in Isfahan and Tehran.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

128. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Good. That means that when Israel or the US attack Iran, Syria will either have to put up or shut up. Either is does nothing and is ridiculed or it attacks Israel and is an aggressor in a war with all the due consequences.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 21st, 2008, 4:39 pm

 

129. Mazen said:

OCIG,

You are not here for dialogue as I’ve mentioned. You’re here just to throw dirt and make noise. The tactic is well known and extensively used by pro-Israel groups to derail lectures, shout-down speakers in conferences and TV debates, and now in forums.

I’m working, and other Syrians are working, and we’re not about to give someone like you a report, nor care about your rating.

Give it your best shot. Earn your money. Fill the forum with your babel. The hard disks are quite big and there’s no rush. The only thing it would do is inform people who you really are.

Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

April 22nd, 2008, 1:31 am

 

Pages: « 1 2 [3] Show All

Post a comment