Renewed talks between Israel and Syria unlikely

Uri Arad

Uzi Arad

Haaretz: Sarkozy’s advisers: Renewed talks between Israel and Syria unlikely
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 2010-04-03

A report submitted a few weeks ago to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by two of his top diplomats concludes that there is no chance to renew substantial negotiations between Israel and Syria in the near future, Haaretz has learned. The officials had visited the Middle East recently to investigate the possibility of French mediation between the two countries.

Israeli diplomats and senior Jerusalem officials told Haaretz that the authors of the report were Patrice Paoli, director of the North Africa and Middle East desk at the French Foreign Ministry, and Nicolas Gallas, a special adviser to Sarkozy on Middle East affairs.

The two senior French diplomats visited Israel during the second week of March, which coincided with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit. They met with Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor, National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, and individuals who had been involved in the indirect negotiations with Syria conducted by the Olmert government through Turkish mediation.

In their report, the French diplomats told Sarkozy that they believe meaningful negotiations between Israel and Syria are not possible in the near future due to the two country’s considerable mutual suspicion and lack of readiness to make any kind of compromise. In their opinion, Israel is not ready to fully withdraw from the Golan Heights, while Syria is not prepared to cut ties with Iran and Hezbollah.

The meeting held with Arad, who holds the Syrian portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office, seemed to have the strongest impact on the diplomats. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Arad stressed to them that Israel will not fully withdraw from the Golan, and even discussed ideas for land exchanges between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel – at the conclusion of which Israel would retain the Golan.

“After listening to Arad, they realized they were wasting their time and there was no genuine desire in Israel at that stage to progress on the Syrian track,” the official said.

The diplomats, however, do not put all of the blame on Israel. They also met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and other Syrian officials, who made it clear to them that Syria had no intention of cutting off its close relationship with Iran. They also denied that Syria was delivering munitions to Hezbollah. The Syrians implied that they would prefer Turkey, rather than France, to mediate.

In FPObama’s list for Netanyahu open to negotiation

Now, more than a week after Netanyahu’s return to Israel and with still no apparent break in the impasse between the two close allies, one administration official tells The Cable that the U.S. side is open to Netanyahu coming back to the administration with his own alternative ideas about how to satisfy U.S. concerns about Israel’s commitment to the peace process. ……The official was quick to point out that the U.S. is still putting pressure on Netanyahu to take specific actions to “improve the atmosphere” and demonstrate Israel’s willingness to repair what is perceived in Washington as a breach of trust.

Regardless, the Obama team is now in waiting mode. “The ball is more or less in their court at the moment,” the official said of the Israelis.

Syria Welcomes Progress, Highlights Necessity of Structural Reforms – IMF Article IV
By Alyssa Rallis
2 April 2010, IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis

Significance
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that Syria’s economy made it through the worst of the global economic slowdown with only minor reverberations transmitted through its ample trade ties with Europe and Gulf economies with growth estimated at around 4% in 2009.

Implications
While the global economic slowdown only had a limited impact on Syria’s economy, authorities there will face significant challenges over the medium term in enacting economic reforms and attracting investment to boost economic growth and diversify the economy in light of dwindling oil reserves and revenue.

Outlook
Syrian authorities are expected to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by rebounding growth this year to renew economic reform initiatives—IHS Global Insight expects growth to rebound to near 6% this year.

Syria Survives the Worst
The IMF estimates that Syria’s economy held up relatively well during the global economic slowdown, with growth estimated to have decelerated just one percentage point last year to around 4%. Mainly through its trade relationships with Europe and the Gulf, the global financial crisis did result in a slowdown of manufacturing, construction, and service-sector activity. All three sectors avoided a contraction of economic activity, however. While tourism receipts remained buoyant, the IMF estimates that Syria’s current-account deficit widened to around 4.5% of GDP. The fiscal deficit also widened to about 2.5% of GDP as the government increased investment and public sector wages to combat the downturn. Nonetheless, non-oil revenue managed a slight increase last year on the back of one-off tax evasion repayment incentives.

Furthermore, the authorities took a number of direct steps to limit the impact of the global financial crisis and a severe regional drought on Syria’s economy. In addition to tax incentives for companies who invest in remote or underdeveloped regions in Syria, authorities gave the newly created Agricultural Support Fund an initial budget of S£10 billion (US$212.8 million) in 2009 to support farmers. The support fund initiative aims to replace some input subsidies with direct cash transfers. On the monetary policy side, the Central Bank of Syria lowered reserve requirements for banks that boosted investment project lending in key areas and required public-sector banks to cancel penalties on overdue loans and reschedule amortizations. In addition, the bank lowered the indicative deposit interest rate to an average 7% from 8%.

IMF Staff Make Key Recommendations to Improve Macroeconomic Outlook

While authorities took prudent counter-cyclical measures to mute the impact of the global financial crisis, the IMF recommends quickly consolidating expenditures to bring down the fiscal deficit. To that end IMF staff are encouraging the Syrian authorities to continue replacing its diesel coupons with direct cash transfers to the poor and continue to move forward with administrative changes necessary to implement VAT by the end of 2011. Although implementation of the VAT has been delayed from its planned start-up in 2008, authorities have modernized customs regulations and drafted the VAT procedures code. Furthermore, the IMF urges authorities to align increases in state-sector wages to performance and public-sector reform.

In the financial sector, central bank authorities continue to move forward with plans to issue treasury bills as an alternative monetary policy tool, but in the IMF’s view broader monetary policy independence will remain limited in the near term. The IMF also noted concern that differentiated reserve requirements implemented in response to the global financial crisis could encourage banks financing less profitable projects and increase banking-sector vulnerabilities, and recommended phasing out preferential lending schemes. With credit growth averaging above 20% through the middle of 2009, the IMF encourages the central bank to further improve bank supervision. While public banks have begun to regularly report key financial-sector indicators to the central bank, the IMF notes that these data may not reflect their true condition since they employ outdated accounting practices in many cases. The sector’s limited global exposure helped limit the impact of the global financial crisis, but the IMF noted that the non-performing loan ratio of state-owned banks is likely to be significantly higher than the 6% reported, since many loans in arrears are not classified by the banks as bad loans since they are implicitly guaranteed by the government. The IMF recommends that Syrian authorities continue to modernize the financial sector and encouraged authorities to fully liberalize lending rates.

The Syrian pound is currently pegged to a basket of currencies contained in the IMF’s special drawing rights (SDR). However, the IMF feels that the pound’s peg to the SDR is currently done with a U.S. dollar weighting that is higher than its weight in the SDR. IMF staff recommended aligning the pound to the SDR by reducing the dollar’s weight in its currency basket in order to more adequately reflect Syria’s direction of trade. The IMF also recommends allowing greater exchange-rate flexibility over the medium term to ensure external stability.

Syrian authorities have made notable progress pushing through economic reforms to accelerate growth and boost employment. Authorities have broadly reduced import tariffs, reformed fuel and agricultural subsidies, and minimised the time necessary to approve foreign investment. While these achievements are notable the IMF also highlighted some backpedalling witnessed during the global economic slowdown. Authorities enacted variable customs duties in order to protect domestic manufacturing, a move which the IMF recommends be swiftly reversed. In order to enhance domestic competitiveness the IMF also suggested further reducing the number of goods subject to administrative pricing and enhancing the regulatory environment to boost foreign investment.

Outlook and Implications

Fiscal Policy: Gradually resume fiscal consolidation and restrain current expenditures.Tax Policy: Complete preparations necessary to fully implement a value-added tax (VAT) by 2011.Financial-Sector Reform: Reform public-sector financial institutions and eliminate differentiated reserve requirements.Exchange Rate: Allow for greater exchange-rate flexibility over the medium term.Reforms: Accelerate structural reforms including modernizing regulations, streamlining extensive subsidies, and further liberalising trade.Syria’s economy faces a number of challenges as President Bashar al-Asad pushes forward with his promise to transform the Syrian economy into a socialist market economy. Faced with limited opportunity to expand oil production significantly over the medium term, Syrian authorities have enacted a number of fiscal austerity measures over the last several years, including lowering fuel subsidies to bring expenditures down, liberalising exchange-rate controls, and opening the country’s financial sector to international investment and private-sector participation. While reforms have moved forward at a measured pace, authorities remain committed to improving the domestic regulatory environment to invite foreign investment and foster non-hydrocarbon economic growth. In this respect, Syria looks to attract significant investment to develop and promote high-growth industries, such as tourism, finance and insurance, and retail. Structural rigidities remain, though, and after decades of paternalistic fiscal and monetary policies that cushioned domestic industry with generous subsidies and trade barriers, traditionally strong industries such as textiles have so far found it difficult to compete as Syria has moved to eliminate trade barriers. While the investment climate remains hindered by the government’s overriding control of the economy, partially instituted reforms, and corruption, Syria’s warming diplomatic relations with the West should foster further reform and international investment over the medium term. With the economy surviving the global economic slowdown relatively unscathed Syria is well positioned to boost exports and attract greater investment inflows as regional economies recover this year. IHS Global Insight expects growth to rebound to near 6% this year.
[end]

Commentary: Iraq a catalyst for U.S.-Syria rapprochement?
Thursday, April 1, 2010
By Marwan Kabalan | Common Ground News Service

DAMASCUS, Syria — Following five years of tense relations between the United States and Syria, the Obama administration has appointed a new ambassador to Damascus — the current deputy ambassador to Iraq, Robert Ford. The nomination shows the central importance of Iraq to U.S.-Syrian relations. The U.S. war in Iraq drove a deep wedge between the two, but common interests over Iraq now seem to have become the latent force behind rapprochement.

When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq in 2003, Syria openly opposed the plan. Syria felt that the United States was targeting it as well, as Washington’s political conservatives advocated regime change in Damascus, and so it supported the resistance to the U.S. occupation. The United States also accused Syria of allowing foreign fighters to cross the borders into Iraq and hosting senior members of the former Iraqi regime.

In the summer of 2004, however, Syria started to reconsider its policy. Increasing violence in Iraq and the growing influence of extremist groups, such as al-Qaeda, led Syria to place greater emphasis on stabilizing Iraq in order to reduce its effect on Syria…..

….Ahead of the latest general elections, Syria and the United States seemed to have been endorsing more or less the same policies on Iraq: encouraging the inclusion of all political parties in the electoral process, working to provide a reasonable level of stability and security and preventing sectarian violence or partition along ethnic lines. Syria also hopes to see the smooth withdrawal of all American troops according to the timetable set out in the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.

Indeed, there are a number of differences between the United States and Syria, such as disagreements over the pace of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Syria’s strong ties with elements of the former Iraqi regime. Yet, these differences could be overcome, particularly after the positive developments resulting from the March 7 general elections in Iraq, including strong performances by secular and nationalist forces.

Indeed, the two countries will have to agree on an overall strategy to cooperate to stabilize Iraq, an opportunity for the new U.S. ambassador to Damascus to bring five years of cold relations to an end.

U.S. Ex-Officials Engage With Hamas
By CHARLES LEVINSON
WSJ

Several high-profile former U.S. officials, some with close ties to the Obama administration, met with Hamas in recent months, raising hope inside the group that its views are being heard at the White House.

White House officials and participants in the talks emphasize the meetings weren’t sanctioned by Washington. U.S. officials say there has been no change to Washington’s insistence that Hamas take a number of steps before official dialogue can begin.

Still, the talks have been interpreted by some officials inside Hamas, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is run by the Palestinian

…Ms. Schneller said she alerted the State Department to the invitation, and Washington approved it. “They gave me permission to go, which I found interesting,” she said. After the debate, she met one-on-one with Mr. Hamdan over tea, Ms. Schneller said.

“He was really genuinely interested in how to make a breakthrough in negotiations and how to engage constructively with the United States,” she said.

and in FP Thanks to FLC

“… These contacts, which included the State Department’s approval of a debate between a senior U.S. diplomat and a Hamas representative, have been interpreted by Hamas — and Fatah, its rival — as a softening of the U.S. stance against the party.
Among those leading the charge is Rob Malley, who, along with other former U.S. officials, met with Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmud Zahar in Zurich last summer. A little history: Malley, Middle East and North Africa program director for the International Crisis Group, was forced to abandon his advisory role to the Obama campaign in summer 2008, due to his contacts with Hamas….”

JERUSALEM—Several high-profile former U.S. officials, some with close ties to the Obama administration, met with leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in recent months, raising hope inside the group that its views are being heard at the White House.

White House officials and participants in the talks emphasize the meetings weren’t sanctioned by Washington. U.S. officials say there
has been no change to Washington’s insistence that Hamas take a number of steps before official dialogue can begin………

What has Gaza gained since Hamas won four years ago?
Michael Young, March 11. 2010 in the National

Handing Hamas a lifeline now is a terrible idea. It would only increase Syrian and Iranian control over the Palestinians at a time when Mr Fayyad is strengthening autonomous state institutions. It would also indicate that Hamas has succeeded, when the movement has, in fact, systematically undercut Palestinian interests. Hamas may eventually have to be brought into peace talks, assuming that Israel ever makes serious territorial concessions. But that should happen only when the movement’s power is greatly diminished, not a moment sooner…..

Hamas, the argument goes, is capable of obstructing progress in negotiations, so that only by engaging the group can the United States and the international community avoid such an outcome. The rationale is naive.

It is naive, above all, because it overlooks the extent to which Hamas has undermined the core principle guiding the regional strategy of the Palestinians until the death of Yasser Arafat. Under its late leader, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation defended what was known as the “independent Palestinian decision”, which meant ensuring the Palestinian cause would not fall under the control of individual Arab regimes. Among Mr Arafat’s bitterest rivals was Syria’s President Hafez al Assad, who repeatedly sought, and failed, to bring the PLO under Syrian authority.

Hamas has been far less successful than Mr Arafat in exploiting Arab contradictions….. Hamas reinforced its ties with Syria and Iran, …

Today the movement is highly dependent on Syria and Iran, whose calculations (along with Israeli intransigence) can only inhibit the emergence of an independent Palestinian state; …

Today the movement is highly dependent on Syria and Iran, whose calculations (along with Israeli intransigence) can only inhibit the emergence of an independent Palestinian state; ….

Islamist parties have lost momentum throughout the Middle East in recent years. Despite their many differences, all have one problem in common: they offer no persuasive vision for nation-building. In Iraq’s elections last weekend, religious parties lost ground to broad-based “nationalist” lists. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is divided over how to deal with the state. Hamas has failed in its bid at governing, and its crushing of Fatah in Gaza in 2007 created many enemies. Even Hizbollah, arguably the most successful of the Islamist groups, has dangerously antagonised Lebanon’s Sunnis in recent years, while all it offers to the Lebanese is a prospect of incessant conflict with Israel.

Michael Young in “Hizbollah, Hamas and the false promise of resistance,”  notices that Arabs are failures at resistance and have been on a losing streak for …. well, a long time. Worse than being simple failures, he proposes, Hamas and Hizbullah are, in effect, traitors. They fight not so much against Israel but against their own “national authorities,” undermining their own cause and people. He concludes, “nothing has damaged the Arabs more than resorting to wanton violence that leads nowhere. Such behaviour betrays only vanity, with little chance of reversing injustices.”  (The National, 2010-04-0)

Comments (29)


1. almasri said:

JAD,

While Abu Shama begs, Ibn Neten makes threats:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7086688.ece

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April 4th, 2010, 3:31 pm

 

2. almasri said:

Sorry about the link in my previous comment. It seems not to work anymore. The story may have been removed. But the heading is still there on the main page of the World News of the newspaper (The Sunday Times) as follows:
”Israel pressures China to back Tehran sanctions
A top Israeli military strategist will fly to China to win Beijing’s support over tougher economic penalties against Iran”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/

I had a chance to read the story before it was removed. It was saying Israel intends to send its top military strategist Amir Eshel to Beijing in order to let the Chinese government know about Israel’s seriousness in launching strikes on Iranian facilities so that the Chinese will be forewarned of the possibility of interruption of their oil supplies as a result, implying that the best solution is to go along with imposing tough sanctions on Iran.

The story further mentioned that China sent a General to Tel Aviv last week in order assess Israel’s capabilities and preparation in carrying out the strikes.

The story is also reported at this site half way down the page (just below the video)

http://www.reallibertymedia.com/recentposts?order=last_comment_timestamp&sort=asc&page=3223

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April 4th, 2010, 7:56 pm

 

3. jad said:

Who’s Afraid of a One-State Solution?
As Israeli-Palestian peace talks remain at an impasse, a radical solution gains steam.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/31/whos_afraid_of_a_one_state_solution

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April 6th, 2010, 12:13 am

 

4. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

“…Without you realizing it, Israel is approaching yet another milestone en route to turning into a highly developed economy – our per capita GDP will reach the $30,000 mark this year, likely at the beginning of the summer…

…Late into his tenure as finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu presented an ambitious target for Israel: Joining the list of top 10 or 12 richest economies in the world. Is this target realistic? Based on today’s perspective, the answer appears to be “yes”.”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3871593,00.html

Now it’s the right time to tell America: Thank you for every thing that you did for us during many years. We’re truly grateful.

But now we can handle it alone, and relieve you, to heal your own economy.
.

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April 6th, 2010, 1:19 am

 

5. offended said:

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April 6th, 2010, 8:00 am

 

6. Shai said:

Amir,

“But now we can handle it alone, and relieve you, to heal your own economy.”

Really? “We can handle it alone…”? I want to see a single Israeli PM surviving a month in power, after making such an arrogant statement.

Offended,

You beat me to it. What a horrific video. I watched it from beginning to end, and felt sick to my stomach. Makes you wonder about the “sterility” of killing human beings. How we can applaud brave young men in uniform, preferably blonde with blue eyes, stepping off their hi-tech flying gunships, because they carried out murder in such humane fashion. So precise, so clean, so civilized.

This is the fault of our leaders, and our own fault for letting them lead us like sheep, and turning us from human beings to animals.

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April 6th, 2010, 8:29 am

 

7. SimoHurtta said:

You beat me to it. What a horrific video. I watched it from beginning to end, and felt sick to my stomach.

Shai

The US video was originally published on WikiLeaks. Some weeks ago WikiLeaks published (on 15. Mar. 2010) a US plan to destroy WikiLeaks. After Wikileaks the report includes:

As an odd justification for the plan, the report claims that “Several foreign countries including China, Israel, North Korea, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe have denounced or blocked access to the WikiLeaks.org website”.

So is it Shai true that Israeli government blocks WikiLeaks.org? Could you test it? If it is true the Israel is in a “honourable” companionship.

An other sign of the fast collapsing Israeli media freedom is the Anat Kam case. Soon Israel will be in all respects a “normal” Middle Eastern country. Well not with nukes which Israel has and others not.

Israel has tens if not hundreds of equal videos. Let’s hope a fragment of them will be published.

———

…Late into his tenure as finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu presented an ambitious target for Israel: Joining the list of top 10 or 12 richest economies in the world. Is this target realistic? Based on today’s perspective, the answer appears to be “yes”.”

Well Tel Aviv Amir if the world has to choose trade with Israel or trade with the Arab and Muslim block what do you think will happen to the “realistic” target? A little more escalations in Jerusalem around the Muslim holy sites and destroying the peace opportunities with two state solution so Israel will be as wanted trade partner as North Korea is.

If Israel will say to USA and Europe “thank you and we can handle it alone, and relieve you, to heal your own economy”, that will be seen as the best economical joke of the century. Simply the costs of military occupation (which USA now mostly pays) and pushing all expenses of Palestinians on the “wide shoulders” of Israel (expenses which now EU, USA etc pay which actually should be paid by Israel) would sink Israeli economy. Not to mention a large scale trade blockade, which would effectively empty Israel of secular Jews in a relative short period.

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April 6th, 2010, 10:46 am

 

8. Shai said:

Simo,

I just tested Wikileaks.org, and it comes up fine. The Anat Kam case was covered in the main newspaper Yediot Ahronot this morning, in the paper-version. The media is mocking the government censorship, for its Iran-like characteristics.

In Israel there are different periods – sometime the media is easily “recruited” to covering a particular topic (Operation Cast Lead, Lebanon 2006, etc.) in very “patriotic” fasion, but that usually doesn’t last long. Most of the time, censorship is not looked upon in Israeli media as something to accept easily.

We are still far from state-controlled media. That’s not to say that the media itself isn’t “fed” propaganda by self-interested politicians. But Israel is not alone in this, not even when compared to most developed nations. I’m not sure U.S. media is any less manipulated.

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April 6th, 2010, 11:37 am

 

9. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

SimoHurtta,

First you declare the “fast collapsing of Israeli media freedom”, and then you ask to cheack whether the site is available in Israel?
To my humble opinion, the order of things should be reversed.

The Anat Kam story is all over. Forums, blogs, TV, radio, written press, and the rest. This women comes from the self-haters circles, which Shai and Yossi too, belong to.

I remind you that 2 ex-ministers are serving (as we speak) time in Israeli prisons, after the “collapsing Israeli media” helped to expose their corrupt conduct, while serving the public.

Your hatred makes you ludicrous, blind and mendacious.
.

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April 6th, 2010, 12:51 pm

 

10. Shai said:

“This women comes from the self-haters circles, which Shai and Yossi too, belong to.”

Self-hating Jew: “Self-hating Jew is a pejorative term used to allege that a Jewish person holds antisemitic beliefs or engages in antisemitic actions.” (Wikipedia)

So, clearly Yossi and I aren’t self-hating Jews according to this definition. But wait! We must be self-hating, because… well, Amir said we are. Just like Rahm Emmanuel, and Axlerod, and Shapiro, and every other Jew with his own damn mind who dares to criticize Israel.

I wonder… when Settlers criticize Netanyahu, are they also self-hating Jews? When Amir criticizes the Rabin-supported, Netanyahu-supported Oslo Accords, is he a momentary self-hating Jew?

To help me understand, what kind of criticism are Jews allowed to give, in order NOT to be self-hating Jews? And, most puzzling of all, why do certain Jews remain self-hating Jews? Why don’t they just convert? Or self-hating Israelis just leave Israel?

This is all so confusing…

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April 6th, 2010, 1:07 pm

 

11. Akbar Palace said:

Confusion made Easy

To help me understand, what kind of criticism are Jews allowed to give, in order NOT to be self-hating Jews? And, most puzzling of all, why do certain Jews remain self-hating Jews? Why don’t they just convert? Or self-hating Israelis just leave Israel?

This is all so confusing…

Shai,

It’s really not confusing at all. If a person is only critical of Israel and no other country or if said person never recognizes Israel’s security concerns they are usually anti-Zionists at best or, more likely, anti-semitic.

Similarly, it seems to me that if someone cannot accept the right of Palestinians to self-determination or “land-for-peace”, then that person would be anti-Palestinian at best or, more likely, anti-Arab.

Hope that clears things up for you.

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April 6th, 2010, 1:56 pm

 

12. Shai said:

Akbar Awakens to Clarify

Thank you Akbar, for clarifying. If I accept your clarification (which of course I do not), then I’d have to deduce that I’m not only an anti-Zionist but, “more likely”, an anti-Semite. Maybe I should share this finding with my wife…

But, I want to ask you for another clarification. If a person who never criticizes any other nation besides Israel is an self-hating Jew, what do you call a person who NEVER criticizes Israel? A self-loving Jew? A blind-self-loving Jew? My preference, “Jewish Sheep”. What’s yours?

To enlighten some on this site, who seem to adopt labeling as a favorite past-time, especially when arguing against criticism gets a little rough, I would like to state for the record the following:

1. I do not hate myself, nor do I hate Jews, Israelis, Arabs, Muslims or Christians.

2. I have plenty of criticism of nations other than Israel. They range from Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, all the way to… the United States.

3. In order to contribute to communication between Israelis and Arabs, I find it less useful to share my criticism of the Arab states. On occasion, when I find it necessary, I do criticize the Arabs.

4. If Israel’s security was not of my concern, I would not have served my country, nor would I remain an extra nanosecond in Israel. I would be making twice as much money, living a very comfortable life, somewhere on the Eastern shores of the United States.

5. Patriotism and a love and concern for one’s country and people are often shown more through relentless criticism, with the clear aim to change and improve, than through mantra-repetition and blind support.

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April 6th, 2010, 2:36 pm

 

13. Ziad said:

The Israelis next door

Most everyone on this blog know about this but it is put togetther in a professional manner.

Even Hustler is getting on this. This is a great way to reach all these miss-informed men that get Hustler for the articles.
Please copy the whole link in order to work.

http://www.christopherketcham.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/The Israelis Next Door — Hustler April 2010 — final.pdf

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April 6th, 2010, 3:56 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

A Sick kind of Love

If a person who never criticizes any other nation besides Israel is an self-hating Jew, what do you call a person who NEVER criticizes Israel?

Shai,

I would probably just call him/her a “pro-Israeli sycophant” in the Israeli case, or a “pro-Arab sycophant” in the Arab/Palestinian case.

A self-loving Jew? A blind-self-loving Jew? My preference, “Jewish Sheep”. What’s yours?

See above.

To enlighten some on this site, who seem to adopt labeling as a favorite past-time, especially when arguing against criticism gets a little rough, I would like to state for the record the following

1. I do not hate myself, nor do I hate Jews, Israelis, Arabs, Muslims or Christians.

Considering the number of posts you’ve made showing your “invective” for countries other than Israel (none), I don’t find your statement acccurate or objective.

2. I have plenty of criticism of nations other than Israel. They range from Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, all the way to… the United States.

Don’t go overboard Shai.;) And what criticisms do you have with the Palestinians?

3. In order to contribute to communication between Israelis and Arabs, I find it less useful to share my criticism of the Arab states. On occasion, when I find it necessary, I do criticize the Arabs.

Yes, you are much more “useful” here on Syria Comment if you continue to share your criticism of Israel. Naturally.

4. If Israel’s security was not of my concern, I would not have served my country, nor would I remain an extra nanosecond in Israel. I would be making twice as much money, living a very comfortable life, somewhere on the Eastern shores of the United States.

Or you could be misguided like Neville Chamberlain.

5. Patriotism and a love and concern for one’s country and people are often shown more through relentless criticism, with the clear aim to change and improve, than through mantra-repetition and blind support.

Spoken exactly like an abusive father to his tormented child.

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April 6th, 2010, 4:27 pm

 

15. Shai said:

Akbar,

I like your comparison of Israel to a… “tormented child”. Of course you see us as that. This is why you, as all other blind pro-Israeli supporters, exercise and propagate self-pity and fear wherever you can.

As for Neville Chamberlain, indeed he was “misguided”. Actually, he was just a fool. But there is also something on the other side – something no less dangerous and foolish. It is paranoid leaders like the ones we’re seeing all around us today, in Israel. Not that I would expect you to, god-forbid, criticize any of our leaders. No, that might be the beginning of self-hatred, and we wouldn’t want to be infected with that, would we Akbar?

Speaking of criticism, just for kicks in case you never heard this from me (I’m sure you have, but of course you won’t admit it):

1. Criticism towards the Palestinians:
a) Should have dropped their armed-resistance years ago.
b) Should have dropped their dream of a Palestine years ago.
c) Should have accepted Israel as the only sovereign from the sea to the Jordan River.
d) Should have accepted Israel as “The Jewish State”, or any other “State”.

2. Criticism towards Syria:
a) Should have dropped their armed support of Hamas and Hezbollah.
b) Should have continued overt political support of all Palestinian parties, including Hamas.
c) Should have called Olmert’s and (nowadays) Bibi’s bluff, as quickly as possible, without preconditions.
d) Should have realized years ago that the real address in Israel is the Israeli people, not its leaders.
e) Should have opened channels of communication with Israel.

Want criticism of the KSA? Iran? Denmark?

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April 6th, 2010, 6:24 pm

 

16. SimoHurtta said:

The Anat Kam story is all over. Forums, blogs, TV, radio, written press, and the rest. This women comes from the self-haters circles, which Shai and Yossi too, belong to.

I remind you that 2 ex-ministers are serving (as we speak) time in Israeli prisons, after the “collapsing Israeli media” helped to expose their corrupt conduct, while serving the public.

Your hatred makes you ludicrous, blind and mendacious.

Well Tel Aviv Amir how would you call a German who would had leaked documents of assassinations of Jewish resistance leaders by the German army, especially when the country’s juridical system had (hypothetically) banned political assassinations? Were the people who leaked the Mylai story or this shooting from helicopter self hating Americans? Only people with a fascistic world view like you seem to have would call people who fight for real justice and equality as self hating.

This your Israeli right wing slang is becoming more and more absurd. A good example is Arutz Shevas introducton on the main page to an article.

Rock-Throwing Terrorists Nabbed; Leftists Wound Jew in Jerusalem
The IDF captured a rock-throwing cell that critically wounded a Jew near Shechem, but leftists continued to stone Jews in Jerusalem, wounding one.

Rock throwing terrorist cell and Leftists wounding a Jew? Come-on some limits with your Israeli right wing hate propaganda. By the way are settlers throwing rocks also a terrorist cell or only Arabs? Or can we draw a conclusion that Right wingers wound Arabs and Muslims and Leftists Jews?

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April 6th, 2010, 7:42 pm

 

17. Ghat Albird said:

Israeli Amb. “iDF “protects US military”…..so basically then the 85,000 US military in iraq and the 135,000 US military in Afghanistan would have been defeated if not protected by Israelis. Is that like a hint to General Petraeus to keep his mouth shut or else Israel will stop protecting the US?

Envoy to Washington tells CNN intel and equipment Israel gives to US helps in its war against terror

WASHINGTON – Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren said Sunday that the relations between the US and Israel were protecting the lives of American soldiers serving abroad, as Israel supplies Washington with intelligence and equipment necessary for their wellbeing.

Oren was responding to a statement to Congress made by the commander of the US Central Command, General David Patraeus, who spoke about the Arab nations’ response to the close ties between the two countries.

Speaking in an interview with CNN, Oren said that if Israel did not exist, extremists in the region would join Al-Qaeda in its anti-American sentiment. “The US is much safer thanks to Israeli-American cooperation,” he said.

The ambassador said Israel supplies the US with intelligence and equipment its troops use to fight terrorists.

He defined the countries’ relationship as “excellent”. Oren also accused the Palestinians of being unwilling to enter into negotiations and added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did something no prime minister had done before him by freezing construction in all settlements for ten months.

Speaking frankly then if it were not for the Israelis and their US equipment and their spies the 50 states would have already been overrun by the barefooted cave dwellers of Afghanistan. US taxpayers should demand from their Congress, Senate and the President himself that they increase aid [money] as well as missiles and cluster bombs to the one democracy that is saving America from complete defeat.

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April 6th, 2010, 8:11 pm

 

18. Off the Wall said:

Ghat
Sure, very important intel, like the yellow cake story.

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April 6th, 2010, 9:31 pm

 

19. Yossi said:

Amir,

I was really offended by what you said. For the record, I don’t hate *all* Jews, in fact, some of my best friends are Jews. I only hate self-loving Jews. Other self-hating Jews, I just despise, because they remind me of myself too much, but I don’t really hate them, because they are not me. I can only genuinely hate myself, not others. As for the Jews that are neither self-loving nor self-hating, I usually don’t despise them, unless they are pricks, or too successful.

So please stop the silly accusations.

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April 7th, 2010, 12:40 am

 

20. Akbar Palace said:

Always “less useful to share my criticism of the Arab states” NewZ

Speaking of criticism, just for kicks in case you never heard this from me (I’m sure you have, but of course you won’t admit it):

1. Criticism towards the Palestinians:
a) Should have dropped their armed-resistance years ago.

I would be more specific here. They should have dropped their armed-resistance against NON-COMBATANTS.

b) Should have dropped their dream of a Palestine years ago.

Why? That dream is alive and well, and the Likud and Israel can promote it if the Palestinians want to negotiate. Interestingly, if Israel never came into existence, Palestine would never have been an issue, because the Arab neighbors would never have allowed it.

c) Should have accepted Israel as the only sovereign from the sea to the Jordan River.

Why?

d) Should have accepted Israel as “The Jewish State”, or any other “State”.

Yes, they should accept Israel so they can begin the job of creating their own state.

2. Criticism towards Syria:
a) Should have dropped their armed support of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Did you tell this to Professor Josh? Did you both discuss the ramifications of this? I must have missed this important exchange of ideas.

b) Should have continued overt political support of all Palestinian parties, including Hamas.

Why?

c) Should have called Olmert’s and (nowadays) Bibi’s bluff, as quickly as possible, without preconditions.

Agreed.

d) Should have realized years ago that the real address in Israel is the Israeli people, not its leaders.

Agreed. Or maybe Syria is bluffing?

e) Should have opened channels of communication with Israel.

But hey, when Syrian policy is wrong, who really cares? Right?

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April 7th, 2010, 11:50 am

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Disproportionate Force NewZ

“If a country uses disproportionate force in Palestine, in Gaza — uses phosphorous shells — we’re not going to say ‘bravo’,” he declared, referring to Israel January 2009 offensive against Hamas-controlled Gaza.

And if a country wants to hide their role in committing genocide against unarmed Armenians, we won’t say “bravo” either…

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.f2ad1f74fe9302203b34f1dc60ba222c.401&show_article=1

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April 7th, 2010, 12:39 pm

 

22. Thunder said:

Those “unarmed” Armenians were somehow cutting the throats of their neighbors to ethnically cleanse and carve out their own state just before 1915…..

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April 7th, 2010, 4:00 pm

 

23. Shai said:

Akbar,

You’re not going back to your comment-per-line exhaustive style, are you?

Although I’ve said this a million times, I’ll say it again – The Palestinians should give up on a state of their own, and instead recognize Israel as the only legitimate state west of the Jordan River. Why? Because that is the only way they’ll ever get a state of their own. That would be the only way the Liebermans and the Netanyahus would line up on way to Ramallah, to beg the Palestinians to take a two-state solution. They’ll probably throw-in Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim with the package, as a Sunday-Special. Just for the Palestinians to please take a state of their own.

The only way Sharon changed his mind was to show him the demographic “threat” (ya’ani, more Arabs than Jews in Israel = the Destruction of Israel as we know it). It’s time to “re-emphasize” this threat…

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April 7th, 2010, 5:36 pm

 

24. Ghat Albird said:

Business is booming in the land of Bibi und Avigdor.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1161405.html

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April 7th, 2010, 5:46 pm

 

25. Shai said:

Ghat,

While I of course deplore organ trafficking, this is not only a problem in Israel, it is a problem worldwide. Especially people in poor countries are taken advantage of, but “brokers” are found everywhere, in every country and on every continent.

But there are other types of trafficking that are even-more worrisome. Drug trafficking, for instance, can find its way to many in our society and, worse of all, to our children. Some states in our region are doing a lot to try to stop this. Iran, for instance. Others, like Lebanon, not nearly enough. Much of the drugs that make it into Israel come from Lebanon, reportedly via Hezbollah.

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April 7th, 2010, 7:06 pm

 

26. Ghat Albird said:

SHAI said:

Drug trafficking is worse… for instance, it can find its way to many in our society and, worse of all, to our children. Some states in our region are doing a lot to try to stop this. Iran, for instance. Others, like Lebanon, not nearly enough. MUCH OF THE DRUGS THAT MAKE IT INTO ISRAEL COME FROM LEBANON REPORTEDLY VIA HEZBOLL.

SHAI : The extract below is translated from a French book..will try and get the link for you.

R&A: Is the Jewish mafia connected with the famous Colombian drug cartels?

H. R.: There is no doubt. Here is just one example: on February 16th, 1993, the Russian police of Viborg, close to the Russo-Finnish border, near Saint Petersburg, seized more than a ton of Colombian cocaine disguised as cans of corned beef. It was an Israeli resident in Bogota, Elias Cohen, married to a Colombian in cahoots with one of the clans related to the Cali cartel, who managed the network along with one Yuval Shemesh. The final destination of the cocaine was a group of Israeli traffickers established in the Netherlands, headed by one Jacob Korakin, a kippa-wearing religious Jew from the diamond district of Antwerp.

R&A: Certain diamond traders of Antwerp, New York, and Tel-Aviv play a large role in the Jewish mafia, particularly in money laundering.

H. R.: Diamond traders are at the heart of money-laundering operations for the Colombian cartels. In Manhattan, 47th Street, which is the heart of their activity, is also the largest drug money laundry. A Rabbi Yosef Crozer was arrested in February 1990 while going to Brooklyn with suitcases and bags stuffed with small-denomination banknotes. He carried $300,000 every day. His co-operation with police made it possible the following month to arrest around 30 people in the Orthodox Jewish community. One of them was Avraham Sharir, another pious Jew who owned a gold shop on 47th Street and who proved to be one of the key characters in drug money laundering in New York. Sharir, an Israeli citizen of 45 years, confessed to laundering $200 million on behalf of the Cali cartel. His employees, who counted banknotes, were regularly obliged to go our for fresh air, because so many of the small bills had been rolled for use in snorting cocaine.

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April 7th, 2010, 9:44 pm

 

27. Shai said:

Ghat,

I hope you didn’t feel I was suggesting Jews or Israelis were outside the circle of drug trafficking (or any other type of trafficking). If Hezbollah traffics drugs into Israel, obviously someone inside Israel has to be in charge of the receiving end.

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April 8th, 2010, 4:36 am

 

28. Ghat Albird said:

SHAI:

At one time and before the zionist jews from Europe and elsewhere created Israel the main merchants/retailers in the capitals of most of the Arab nations
were of the Hebrew faith. In fact one of the oldest synagogues in the world is in Tunisia. And in specifically Arab/Muslim countries certain commercial enterprises would close on Fridays, others on Saturday and still others on Sundays.

Reflecting on the era 1940 to the present one needs to consider that the principal guilty party in creating enmity between the Jews and the Arabs/Muslims, are the Jews from countries such as Poland, Russia, the USA, Moldavia and others.

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April 8th, 2010, 12:36 pm

 

29. Shai said:

Ghat,

I hope you will agree with me that this direction or discussion is moot and, therefore, not very constructive or beneficial. I don’t see any Jew (Polish, Moldovan, or Tunisian) admitting that the root of all evil in our conflict is ours, nor any Arab admitting the same about your side. To move forward, let’s not judge each other when our confidence is so weak, each side with its own inferiority-complexes, distrust, corruption, etc.

As you’ve seen by now, I do try to find similarities between us, far more than differences. I know well the shortcomings and crimes of the past and the present, but I prefer to look forward in time, just enough to create and retain some level of hope and optimism. Sometimes, to do that, you have to put aside a lot. Maybe more than a lot…

I very much appreciate your description of Jews as part of the history of the Middle East. It gives me hope, knowing that you (as an Arab) recognizes our (Jewish) part of your own history, even if you are referring to Middle Eastern Jews, and not to so-called Polish-Jews.

In the end, I have no choice but to see myself as part of the Jewish people. I don’t even care if, in theory, I’m not “really” a Jew. Since I see myself as a Jew, from my point of view, I am a Jew. Since Israel seems to be today a homeland for Jewish people, I see it as my homeland. I have no other homeland. I certainly do not see Poland, a place where millions of Jews were sent to the slaughterhouse, as my “real” homeland, even if for decades or centuries it was.

That, of course, should not have come at the expense of another people, the Palestinians. I don’t accept the argument that “there was no choice, it was either us or them”. History enabled both peoples to live on this land, and the Present proves that it is possible, and is a reality, even if a painful one.

Btw, personally, I see far more similarities between myself and Middle Eastern Jews and Arabs, than Americans or Europeans.

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April 8th, 2010, 2:05 pm

 

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