The Peace Canal Plan – Peace plan/water import project from Turkey to the Middle East

Posted by Alex 

I received an email from Boaz Wachtel, an independent peace activist formerly associated with Freedom House. He is hoping to get feedback from readers of Syria Comment on the proposed Peace Canal project as well as the optional Tank barrier proposal. Boaz added: “The truth of the matter is that a senior member of Israeli politics, someone close to the top, is promoting the Peace Canal Plan among decision makers as a viable option to be discussed with the syrians in the next round of negotiations”

Here are the highlights of the plan:

The 'Peace Canal Plan' was introduced (in collaboration with Freedom House, NYC*) during the First Israeli-Palestinian water conferenc e in Zurich (1992). Modifications were made since to include constructive feedback from the parties, especially from the Turkish government.

The revised 'Plan' is relevant now as ever. Its aim is multifold:

  • Help Syria & Israel reach a peace agreement by allowing a safe Israeli withdrawal  and the demilitarization of the Golan Heights.
  • Stabilize water inventories in northern Jordan, western Syria, Israel and Palestine.
  • Produce hydro-electric power on the slopes of the Heights
  • Restore the Jordan River and the Dead Sea's past qualities.

Turkish presidents officially offered number of times in the past to sell up to 4 Billion cubic meter of water a year to Middle Eastern countries from rivers flowing to the Mediterranean in south central Turkey.

The Peace Canal Plan:

The 'Peace Canal Plan' is based on the purchase from Turkey of about 2 billion c/m/yr, (or more as needed) from the Ceyhan and Seyhan rivers (14 b/c/m/yr combine discharge) for distribution of about 250-500 million cm/yr. each between Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel via closed canal and pipelines.

In Syria, the water could be used in western cities (that lack adeqate water of good quality) and on the Golan Heights where Syria plans to resettle thousands of people once its back in her hands.

The Jordanian share could be used in the Jordan Valley and pumped from the Golan Geights to cities on the elevated Jordanian plateau.

Israel and Palestine could use their shares to recharge the Coastal, mountain and Gaza aquifers and support an equitable water sharing agreement.

Additional water could be purchased by the Israeli and Jordanian governments/industries from Turkey and conveyed through the Peace Canal Plan to:

A) Rivitalize the Jordan River and slow the rapid decline of the Dead Sea level
B) Allow for more Palestinian and Jordanian agricultural production in the Jordan Valley.

The project is designed to produce hydro-electricity on the western and southern slopes of the Golan Heights to offset the conveyance costs (700 KM to the central Golan Heights from Turkey) for the reciving parties.
    

An option exists to construct a 40km section of the project, on most of the current Syrian-Israeli border on the Heights, as a wide and deep open water canal and combine it with a tank barrier.

The open canal can be utilized as:

  1. A tank barrier to deter and delay surprised armored attacks of either side,
  2. A shared storage reservoir for the Syrians and Jordanians on the Golan Heights,
  3. For pumped storage reservoir vis-à-vis the Sea of Galilee (for electricity production during peak and off peak hours).

In unity, these elements add water, energy and physical security for the parties without infringing upon the territorial integrity or the water inventory of either side.

The Peace Canal Plan could:

  1. Facilitate a peace agreement between Israel and Syria through a safe Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and the resolution of the territorial and water dispute.
  2. Support an equitable water sharing agreement between Israel and Palestine.
  3. Enhance and stabilize recipients' water inventories.
    Save the Jordan River and the Dead Sea from drying up.

The project could be constructed with standard technologies in 3-4 years with private or international institutional capital. It requires US and International (UN) guarantees to provide the necessary level of security for the parties. Price per cm for final users is estimated at under $0.50 US dollar. Wachtel (1992) estimates the cost of such a project at US$5,000-$7,000 million.

______________________________________
(*) Freedom House is the first Human Rights and Democracy Advocacy organization in the world, established by Eleanor Roosevelt)

Comments (155)


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What a stupid idea. After all, the Syrians can stop the water flowing in the canal or pipeline on their side of the border leaving Israel with no water. They could say that some guerilla group sabotaged the pipeline and that it wasn’t the Syrian government. Then what could Israel do?

March 22nd, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I think the idea is to have this Canal only after signing a peace treaty, not before. The water from Turkey is supposed to help all of us, beyond what we have today, not instead of it. If someone sabotaged the supply, we would still have the water we have today. I imagine the Syrians would not opt to sabotage anything if we have peace (why should they?), plus, they’ll be harming the Palestinians and not just us. Some other “rogues” might try, like Al Qaida, etc. But I doubt it, because again, none of us will be fully or even mostly dependent on this water.

Since one of the major issues during the negotiations has always been the water issue, this plan (which has been around some 15 years already) seems to help allay some of the concerns a fair bit. Especially as it entails the supply to 4 nations, that desperately need more water. Of course, this should not come instead of continuing to develop desalination plants, which (despite their initial astronomic costs) are still the preferred option that truly define independence, and seem to make the most sense, long term.

March 22nd, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
This cries out for a comment from our Rime… What have done with her, btw…??!

As a “Water Resources Engineer” in one of my previous re-incarnations, I’d say this just one example of what wonderful things can be done within geographic Syria ONCE peace has finally broken out…!

So, you have nothing to say in response to my previous comment…?!

March 22nd, 2008, 8:54 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

But how will this project be done, if we continue to boycott Syria, and now also add Israel to the boycott list? 🙂 If we keep isolating “bad guys” too much, we may have no more partners left to do anything with… in our region, that is.

March 22nd, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

norman said:

I mentioned this previously as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and Syria,

((2) Access to drinking water, which has been Israel’s undeclared intention ,during that time its declared intention was to seek peace with Syria. Syria will never use water as a weapon. It could have poisoned the water which will make it useless, but it did not. In fact, Syria never bombed an Israeli city during the wars between the two countries. Furthermore, with a comprehensive peace, Turkey could increase water supply to the Euphrates, which could captured by the Assad Dam then brought to the Sea of Galilee via a canal, which would help Israel. ))

March 22nd, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
In the wonderful Wiz-style of discourse, the following is my answer…! 😉

Study shows leaving sweeter than revenge
Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:57am EDT
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Punishing a lazy team member can be counterproductive and it may be better to simply walk away, researchers said on Wednesday.

The researchers at Harvard University found that people who go to the trouble of punishing colleagues, co-workers or others in one-on-one situations do not profit from their revenge.

Such behavior does not pay off for a group, either, they reported in the journal Nature.

“Put simply, winners don’t punish,” said David Rand, who worked on the study. “Punishment can lead to a downward spiral of retaliation with destructive outcomes for everybody involved.”

Rand works in Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and Department of Systems Biology, which combines the study of evolution with economics.

His team studied people playing the so-called prisoner’s dilemma computer-based game, in which 104 Boston-area students could choose to cooperate, defect or punish.

“Cooperation meant paying one unit for the other person to receive two units,” the researchers wrote. So if both players cooperated, each got two units. Defectors could take off with three units, unless the other player defected too, in which case both ended up with only one.

“That makes defection tempting for most people and cooperation generally breaks down at some point in a prisoner’s dilemma game,” Manfred Milinski and Bettina Rockenbach of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Ploen, Germany wrote in a commentary.

The Harvard game added two dimensions — punishment and familiarity. The five top-ranked players never used costly punishment, while players who won the least amount had punished the most often.

An equivalent situation might be in the workplace, Rand said.

“Say you have a project that you have to complete with someone else and you feel like someone else is not contributing as much as they should; they are not pulling their weight,” Rand said in a telephone interview.

“The thing that is best for you is to stop contributing, to walk away, as opposed to expending a lot of effort insulting them, threatening them or taking aggressive action.”

Punishing someone else in a situation where both parties are equal creates an “opportunity cost,” Rand said. “The time that you are spending being punitive toward the other person could be spending doing things that are more productive.”

But it also does not pay to let the freeloader ride along. “It’s not quite turn the other cheek,” Rand said. “We are saying you should only do as much as the other person is doing.”

He said the findings only apply in one-on-one situations — not to societies or cultures as a whole, or situations in which one person is more powerful than the other.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

March 22nd, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

And in the same Wiz-style of dicourse, what on earth are you trying to say? 🙂

That Syria shouldn’t punish Israel, and instead walk away? That the world shouldn’t punish Syria, and instead walk away? Who should walk away from whom? And why? And if they do, will that make things better here in the ME? Walking away, it seems to me, is precisely the isolation-policy that has been counterproductive to any power that exercised it (the U.S., with regards to Syria, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, etc.) If Israel was isolated, do you think peace would come faster? Hasn’t it already been proven, that it’s essentially impossible to isolate anyone in this world, as there are always partners willing to dance along? In the first 20 years of Israel’s existence, the U.S. was not interested in being a particularly influential ally (militarily, financially). So France was our strongest ally. When De Gaulle changed his strategic outlook on the Arab world following 1967, the U.S. became our strongest ally. Same thing happened with Egypt and the U.S.S.R., switching to the U.S. after 1977.

Isolation of even the worst criminal has proven time and again not to work. And although I know you believe Israel is the worst criminal, I’ll remind you that there are a few others around in our neighborhood… you’ll have to also deal with them at some point, not just us.

March 22nd, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

Rime also does business consulting (marketing, communications). She is probably working on a business assignment.

I was on th ephone. I will now read your last comment.

AIG,

This is why I always remind you that YOU are an enemy of Syria … you think like an enemy. You fear Syrians, your enemies … those evil Syrians who will poison water supplies to kill all Israelis …

March 22nd, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
Well, …I’ll just have to admit that I simply cannot pull off that “wonderful Wiz-style of discourse”…!! 🙂
I’ll have to leave this to the original Wiz, and… try something else…! 😉

March 22nd, 2008, 9:32 pm

 

norman said:

Shai, Naji,

Syria and Israel should walk toward each other and HUGG and give each other the famous Arab kiss , Not walk away.

March 22nd, 2008, 9:37 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Amen to that! But I’m not sure everyone here agrees with you…

March 22nd, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

norman said:

AIG does not , the others do. I think.

March 22nd, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

Shai said:

Assuming funding could be found for this project, the real question is: “What reason would any of us have for NOT doing this?”

March 22nd, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
I think everyone agrees with Norman and you… 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 22nd, 2008, 10:03 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji, i understand your honest concerns. But we also have to be pragmatic. Peace will happen with most of the systems we have today unchanged. Hopes for better ones are certainly legitimate. But in the near future, they’ll have to remain hopes…

March 22nd, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

Naji said:

Hmmm… I’m almost proud of that last comment of mine…! It kind of says it all, really…!!

Shai, have a little more hope, buddy…! Just remember that the same people who RE-elected GWB only three years ago, are considering an Obama right now…!

Hope… Change… 😉

March 22nd, 2008, 10:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji

Boycotting Israel won’t work. Israel is not South Africa. Israel has much more influence in Washington, or in mainstream media…

You won’t hear Bruce Springsteen singing the boycott-Israel version of “I ain’t gonna play sun city”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJED1FwjWRk

I realize that almost all Syrians believe the one-state solution (true democracy) works best for Israel/Palestine … but on this one I take the same position that I take regarding “true democracy” in Syria … I support both … but they will both take some time until they are safe to implement.

For now I am still for the less ambitious peace negotiations based on UN 242 and 338… this should lead to a decade or two or peaceful coexistance and … this can make it easier for Israelis to one day not be scared of living with Palestinians in one state.

If by next year we don’t get a smarter team in Washington, then … I have no doubt there will be war in the Middle East. As a matter of fact … if McCain starts sounding the same like Cheney … he will quickly be greeted with a situation in the Middle East that will make things clear to him … he has two options: help the peace process or engage in another major war.

There are tremendous expectations in the Arab world … after the past difficult eight years, people really want a return to honest, moral, wise and constructive leadership to Washington. If they don’t get that … peace activists will pack their bags and leave.

March 22nd, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
There are many reasons why not to do this awful project. Two major ones:
1) There are much cheaper ways for Israel to get water that do not require trusting the Syrian regime.
2) It is an environmental disaster that requires disfiguring the Golan.

March 22nd, 2008, 10:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Who will fight who in your expected war?

March 22nd, 2008, 10:58 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
I respect what you are saying, but my disagreement with you is more empirical than anything else…! After all that has happened, it just does not seem there could be even a temporary solution without geting to the root of all this…!

March 22nd, 2008, 11:08 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

I agree that sea water desalination is a better option for the second reasond you mentioned, and also becasue you are not hte only one who is paranoid in Israel about Syria poisoning your water.

I am opposed to the tanks barrier option … it does not work and it is not compatible with the spirit of a peace agreement. But as a temporary measure, maybe.

As for the expected war … it will simply start somewhere somehow.

It does not matter who will start it.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:09 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Of course it matters what kind of war. There is constant war in the middle east. In Iraq in the West Bank and Gaza for example. There is just no reason a large scale regional war will happen. The syrians and Iranians are not interested in fighting one so it won’t happen.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

norman said:

If Israel does not move to secure the future of the Jewish people by having a peaceful solution to it’s disagreement , The Mideast will have war . then god help the semitic people.

March 23rd, 2008, 1:32 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Who will fight a regional war against Israel?
Egypt? No.
Syria? No.
Who then? Jordan and Lebanon?
What am I missing? I’m sure Israel has no other border.
To all those that predict a war, please explain who will fight it and why.

March 23rd, 2008, 1:44 am

 

norman said:

Syria will go to war when it finds that Israel has no intention for peace.

March 23rd, 2008, 2:14 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Let’s see the Road Map lay down some asphalt first.

March 23rd, 2008, 2:34 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria will not go to war alone against Israel. Asad is not dumb. And if he does, he will lose badly and quite likely there will be regime change in Syria. The fact is that Syria did nothing after Israel attacked it in September. Asad is more interested in staying in power than in regaining the Golan. The chances of a regional war are slim to none.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:14 am

 

norman said:

Israel can not occupy Syria and when war starts and continue for weeks and months , most Israeli will leave Israel for the west to avoid the bombardment , Syria will be destroyed but Israel’s losses will be painful and costly and with a long war I do not think Israel will have anybody left to maintain it’s economy , I say again , Israel should seek peace as soon as possible.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:38 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
You are gravely mistaken. The war will be a short one. Syria will be able to fire one missile salvo before Israel takes care of all its launchers. As for the short range missiles, the damage they cause is minimal and this time Israel will respond with a ground invasion from day one.

And if as you agree, Syria will be destroyed, why would it start a war? It makes no sense. There is just no chance of a regional war. Asad is trying to lure investments to Syria. Why would he start a war? Israel has all the time in the world and will wait patiently for Syria to reform.

March 23rd, 2008, 5:05 am

 

norman said:

The war length will depend on Syria’s well to fight , If it has the well then Israel will lose but If Syria seeks ceasefire then Israel will be the winner , I think Israel is pushing Syria to say death will come on me and my enemies . I think Samson Said that.

March 23rd, 2008, 5:11 am

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I do agree with you about the environmental aspect of the project. I have always been for desalination plants as the long term solution for our water problems (if KSA and Kuwait can do it, why can’t we?). Problem of course, is that it is much more expensive, in the short run, than the project being proposed here. Still, I’m all for it.

As for the next regional war, I’ve written here before that my fear was that it’s not Syria, Israel, or even Iran that will start the next war. But rather, either Hezbollah or Hamas. Of course they cannot start it in the classic sense, but they can cause a chain of actions and reactions that could easily plunge the region into catastrophe. If, for instance, Hamas lobs another set of Qassams that end up killing not one or two Israeli civilians, but 20 or 30. Public pressure will almost undoubtedly force our government to approve and order a major ground offensive into Gaza. If the previous “limited” one, which lasted only 4 days, caused the deaths of 120 Palestinians, imagine what a more major operation would. And, if hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza die, who’s to guarantee that Hezbollah won’t join by launching hundreds, or thousands, of their own rockets into Israel in support? And if that happens, we’re essentially at war, as Israel will have to fight on two main fronts, against two militias. Plus, this time around, there’s fair likelihood that Israel will opt to “punish” Syria, and launch air attacks against various high-level targets there. Syria will have to respond. Israel will respond to that response, and we’re officially at a new, 21st century war in the Middle East. If we hit Syria hard, there’s every reason to expect Iran to join in, and now we have thousands of rockets landing deep inside Israel from four different directions. How do you think Israel will react? Isn’t that as close to “existential threat” Israelis may feel? Won’t that look like a tenfold-worse scenario of 1973? So we’ll probably drag the U.S., France, and maybe others into this war, and now we’re almost starting WWIII (or maybe it will be called that, when it’s all done).

Is this apocalyptic? Maybe, but read how I started it all… with Hamas lobbing just a set of missiles that kill 20-30 Israelis, not with Syrian tanks rolling off the Golan towards Haifa and Hadera. The next war may well be started by a small group of militiamen, rather than a set of experienced generals of some regular large standing army. And this is why we should all fear the current instability, and not find time running on our side.

March 23rd, 2008, 6:13 am

 

Naji said:

Alex,
Funny, but our Rime has just resurfaced… Wait ’till she hears about your latest PCP (“Peace Canal Plan”)… 😉

The Damascus Summit: Success Measured by Attendance
Rime Allaf : Bitter Lemons International

Despite their proven futility, Arab League summits have always managed to create a modicum of expectation over the last couple of decades as several big events shook the Arab world to its core. But apart from exceptions when actionable resolutions were adopted, like the expulsion of Egypt in the Baghdad Summit of 1979 (following its lone peace settlement with Israel) or the emergency Cairo Summit of 1990 in the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (where a recording leaked subsequently showed Arab leaders disgracefully shouting insults across the table), they have mostly been opportunities to prove the cliché that “Arabs agree to disagree.”

With such low expectations and no actual achievements likely, therefore, the region now mostly plays a different summit game: how good will turnout be, which of the big names will skip, and which will strive to steal the headlines with a late arrival? The scrutiny continues during the summit: who will be merely civil to whom, who will show effusive appreciation to whom, and whose brotherly kisses and hugs will provide the best photo-op?

The upcoming Damascus Summit suffers from these usual afflictions, but there are additional issues raising the stakes. For one, past thorny summits were held on relatively neutral grounds, either in countries not directly implicated in the crisis du jour, or in Arab League headquarters. In contrast, the Damascus Summit will convene in the country most at odds with its co-members, under the auspices of a rather controversial regime whose relations with most Arab states have deteriorated over one of the trickiest problems facing the region in recent years. Unlike other summits, this one is hosted by the party accused of causing the rift in Lebanon, whose presidential crisis is blamed on Damascus alone.
One other novelty is the extent of pre-conditions other regimes have imposed, or tried to impose, on their host — conditions which reveal the lack of faith of summit participants themselves in the potential value of such gatherings. Instead of proposing to use the summit to resolve the Lebanese problem, amongst others, countries with rival positions have hinted that their participation depended precisely on the election of a president after 16 attempts; a seventeenth failure, they warn, would break the summit and doom it to low-level (if any) representation, rather than being graced with the presence of influential leaders.
Syria is anxious to avoid a humiliating no-show from the big names.

Repeatedly trying, and repeatedly failing, to secure Saudi approval for a visit by Foreign Minister Walid Muallem to deliver the official summit invitation, Syria finally resigned itself to send it at a much lower level, illustrating the depth of the gulf between Riyadh and Damascus. It will not have helped, of course, that Lebanon was the last of 22 countries to be invited to the summit, in a manner defying protocol and typical of Syrian “diplomacy”: handed to a resigned minister of the Lebanese cabinet by an official of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, it wasn’t even signed by the host of the event, but by the Syrian Prime Minister.

Such moves do nothing to endear the Syrian regime to its critics, and Muallem’s claim that this summit would have the highest level of attendance of any summit remains to be proven. It is not clear whether he counts one of the confirmed attendants, the Iranian Foreign Minister, in his tally, but unless other friendly neighbors (such as Turkey) also make an appearance, the representative of Iran may find himself the sole non-Arab at the table amongst irate participants finding one more point of contention with the host.

But Damascus is also subject to unprecedented third party interference, a phenomenon not experienced by other summit organizers.

With the American president arrogantly preaching to Arabs about attendance, and with even the usually diplomatic head of EU diplomacy, Javier Solana, opining that key Arab leaders would not come if a Lebanese counterpart is not amongst them, Syria’s own meddling begins to appear pertinent.

A summit would be a perfect setting to reach regional solutions, but pan-Arab politics have rarely abided by such logic and we are left measuring success through attendance rather than achievement. Thus, even the 2002 Beirut Summit’s major accomplishment (the adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative) was overshadowed by the absence of half the heads of state, and by the deliberate blocking of besieged Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s televised address to his fellow leaders, as the host, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, cut his broadcast as it began from Ramallah and declared it was time for lunch.

The current Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will be unenthusiastic about making a personal appearance in the capital where his biggest enemy (Hamas) holds political court, but unable to skip the summit given the tragic situation in Gaza. Likewise, the Lebanese will be damned if they come (which some would consider a show of weakness in front of Syria) and damned if they don’t (which could be interpreted as unwillingness to trust pan-Arab diplomacy). Current heavyweights Egypt and Saudi Arabia will also be torn between attending to impose their presence, and defaulting to register their opposition to Syrian actions, and to cause summit failure. But Syrian-Saudi relations, currently at an all-time low, have overcome greater challenges; while many believe that King Abdullah has not forgiven, or forgotten, Syrian slights he felt were directed at his person after the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006, this didn’t stop him from embracing and meeting with the Syrian president during the last summit in Riyadh. This shows that summits do little to change political situations, and the Damascus Summit will be just as inconsequential as its precursors.

Still, the Syrian regime is hoping that the regional situation, recently inflamed even more with the help of Israel, the United States and various other incendiary meddlers, will sway them towards participation, and that their presence in the self-proclaimed “beating heart of Arabism” will allow for a whirlwind persuasive exposé on its leadership in the sacrosanct Arab struggle ? a task made more difficult, if not moot, by the presence of Iran.

To paraphrase Fontenelle, a great obstacle to success is the expectation of too much success. Despite Syrian hype about the summit, success measured by attendance merely increases the possibility of failure in such unfavourable circumstances.

Rime Allaf, Associate Fellow, Chatham House

March 23rd, 2008, 6:30 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I don’t believe either party is ready for that massive destruction of each other. I tend to believe in a statu quo with ups and downs, rockets, retaliation, hopes of peace, deceptions as this has been going on for years now. Unless Palestinian issue becomes a top priority for Europe and the US, this will go on for years. The Palestinian issue is certainly not a priority now because its is only very loosely connected to the main issues at stake now: Oil, Iraq, Iran and Al Qaeda terrorism. Unless the connection becomes stronger, the western countries would find no urgency in dealing with the issue seiously. So they will just band-aid and wait.

Now if Iraq becomes a new threat to Israel ( and we know that the US is now struggling to keep Iraq from joining Iran in its anti-Israel stance), then this may trigger the urgency to deal with the israeli-palestinian issue.
We just have to wait and see the issue of this struggle

March 23rd, 2008, 7:08 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

I’m afraid that I don’t share your “optimism” (nor AIG’s) that the status quo can just continue like it has been, much longer. Don’t forget, while we’re seemingly in some status-quo, where rockets are lobbed every now and then, and Israel responds, and then there’s quiet for a few weeks, and then back again… all the while, Hamas and Hezbollah are getting stronger by the day. Sad as it may be, with each Palestinian and Lebanese dying by the hands of the IDF, both Hamas and HA become stronger. They’re not blind to this – the opposite – often they instigate such a confrontation in order to strengthen their power base. I don’t think anyone is particularly interested in a large, regional war. But I also don’t think Hamas always gauges its moves carefully, just as HA didn’t in summer 2006. Nasrallah did not image Israel would respond the way it did after a few of its soldiers were kidnapped. And likewise, enough that Hamas miscalculates even once, and lobs one too many rockets at a Sderot factory, or into Ashkelon, killing 20-30 Israelis. As I wrote above, that could be the Ferdinand of WWI. No one could imagine it could spark such a catastrophe, but it did.

Do not be overly “relaxed” with this so-called status-quo. It is a barrel of TNT in disguise, and anyone can light the match, not only “responsible” parties, like Syria, Israel, or Iran. Sometimes we prefer not to consider scenarios that either don’t go along with our own analysis, or that are just too horrific to contemplate. But keeping a blind eye won’t keep it from happening. Only action on the ground might.

March 23rd, 2008, 7:29 am

 
 

norman said:

Shai ,
I agree with , with lack of progress , war will take place , one way or another.

March 23rd, 2008, 1:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Unfortunately, most people are either numb already by the endless cycle of violence in our region, or remain focused on the emotional aspects alone, still believing in a “just solution” before a pragmatic one. The few of us who do see terrible warning lights ahead (and around us), have to try to persuade decision makers that time is not on our side. That’s not an easy task. When things are going well, it is completely within human nature to just lay low…

March 23rd, 2008, 2:19 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

To make specific reference to the article you posted:

1. First, it’s a great article, and good job placing the original maps and sketches online. Though I don’t know Boaz, I believe he’s been working very hard on this project.

2. If the desalination plant options are not feasible, because of high cost, then of course this project should be considered. Personally, I always preferred the independence achieved by a desalinizing plant. Long term, there’s no doubt that’s the better option, also from an environmental point of view.

3. I completely agree with your point regarding the tank-barrier. In the spirit of peace, last thing we want to create physical reminders of our distrust. Plus, in today’s day and age, I don’t think Israeli strategic thinkers are worried about tanks “sneaking” up on us along the Golan. Chances are, such tanks can’t get their monthly oil changed in their shop without Israeli intelligence knowing about it… Satellites are watching anything and everything moving, and not moving, so I’m not too worried about tank movement.

4. We should measure this project, I believe, not in its precise face value, checking its feasibility as is, but rather in its potential major problem solving direction. If the idea is to find solutions that treat the water problems of all four nations (Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine), then we can and should let our imaginations run wild, and find a multitude of options. For instance, an international undertaking to create one desalinizing plant in each of the 4 nations (as each have access to the sea).

March 23rd, 2008, 3:07 pm

 

norman said:

Shai ,
The good thing about bringing water from the Assad Dam after Turkey increases water supply to Syria is that Bringing the water to the sea of Galilee will give a chance for Syria to use the land between Damascus and the Euphrates for agriculture and will vitalize the Barada river, in addition this project will increase trust between Syria and Israel in the spirit of cooperation.
What do you think?.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:03 pm

 

Alex said:

Norman, I think “trust” based initiatives will have to start small … not with the water Israelis drink. They are not ready to trust Syrians. they have been fed al-Syassa-type of stories about Syria for hte past three years and by now they (and M14 supporters, and Fox news lovers, and many Arabs) are sure Bashar murders children and earts them for breakfast.

To give you an idea how bad things are … Here is the Israeli mother of “moderation” himself, today on the Golan Heights:

Peres warns against returning Golan
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 23, 2008

Israel will not agree to a deal with Syria involving the return of the Golan Heights, President Shimon Peres said Sunday.

“If the Golan is given back, it will boost Iran’s influence in Lebanon and the territory will effectively be under Iranian-Syrian control,” said Peres.

Cheney said the US was concerned by developments in Syria, specifically about Damascus supplying weapons to Hizbullah.

The US vice president added that he did not get the impression that Syrian President Bashar Assad was interested in dialogue with Israel.

“It appears that Bashar is not interested in dialogue, or any kind of talks,” a statement from Peres’s office quoted Cheney as saying.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

Another carrot for the gullible. Discussing the merits of a “canard”.

For what its sworth and due to inflation 20 dollars worth of advice.

Full compliance by the Israelis of all UN Resolutions of 1948. Plus a period 10 ten years after the full implementation of all those resolutions. Then and only then should preliminary discussions on an equal basis by all sovereign states that are not occupiyng militarily any segment of a neighbors territory.

Until then not a centimeter of interest by primarely the non-Israeli side. The project must not be measured a priori. A decade or two must transpire after a formal and complete cessation of aggressive actions aand complte evacuation of all occupied territories.

Then any “equal” imaginations can really be come realities.

Again keep in mind this a 20 dollars [used to be 2 cents real worth] worth of opinion based on “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

Observer said:

This idea of a water canal is one microcosm of the problems that beset the region as a whole. I have argued before that none of the current protagonists constitute a nation-state. I would add, that even if they do, they are so small and insignificant in comparison to the problems that their populations will be facing that they cannot be called but failed states in the making.
For one, Israel is indefensible in the face of a united foe. With rocketry being what it is today and with the emergence of non state actors not even a small foe is manageable.
For two, the populations see that they have nothing to lose anymore. Many a person is seeing that the prospect of improving his children’s fate is being dashed away in old style Cold War rhetoric.
For three, not even Israel with the huge suppørt it receives from the EU, the US, and the Diaspora is able to solve the demographic problems of its population. I see that even the KSA trying to emulate what the UAE have done is incapable of developing a coherent and meaningful economic let alone political strategy.
The current pygmies in Cairo Ryiadh and Amman continue to plan for their countries the same way they plan for a dinner party: what’s cooking. They should look around and see how others have moved eons away in the region.
This Canal idea is pure BS.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:33 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Syria will go to war when it finds that Israel has no intention for peace.

Norman,

So either all the claims that “Israel is not interested in peace” were false, or your statement above is wishful thinking.

You can’t have it both ways.

That was easy.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Yes, things are bad. And Peres just joined the list of official buffoons. I assume he made this statement both to seem like a President that represents ALL the people of Israel, not just the liberals (who themselves are numb right now), as well as to kiss up to Cheney. Everyone here, from Barak to Peres, is trying to prepare Israelis for the next elections, hoping the Left will actually be left with some seats in Knesset. Labor and Kadima have done such a miserable work for their nation, that Barak is probably willing to start a new settlement in the West Bank called “Barak”, if he knows it’ll get him another 10 votes…

But you know what? Maybe we need this pessimistic spirit in the air, to shake some sense into all the numb people here, who think, like some commentators on this forum, that the status-quo can remain the way it is, that nothing terrible will happen, and that time is on everyone’s side. Maybe we really do need a bit of a “shakeup” here, to bring people back to their senses. In this age of internet, CNN, and mobile phones, some believe life is good enough to keep living as is, and that everything else will somehow take care of itself. It’s time to remind us all that not everyone in this region has an iPod, and that desperation will lead people to do extreme things. Out of the few million desperate people in this region, it only takes a few to start a regional war.

March 23rd, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

This Canal idea is pure BS.

Actually it is not. Water is essential for Israel (undoubtedly also for the neighbours). Turkey and Israel have been planing an under sea fresh water + energy pipeline.

Water is for Israel the “unmentioned” main reason for holding Golan and West Bank. Without their water collecting capability and water reserves the present Israeli living standard and industrial structure would change dramatically. The lands Israel could give back, but not the water coming from there.

Lets not forget also what Sharon said about the Hizbollah’s and Hariri’s plans of usage of South Lebanons water resources.

http://www.waternet.be/jordan_river/wazzani.htm

Israel has basically two options if it wants preserve the present living standard + industrial structure. To capture enough area for its water consumption or build on co-operation with neighbours. The first option means new wars and domination. And sadly it seems to be the road Israel has chosen.

March 23rd, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex, QN, Josh, et al.
Most Lebanese channels are carrying, live, an important NewTV interview with that old fox, Berri, right now… if you can catch it…!
(but please do not ask me to report on it for you… I am completely un-reliable on such tasks… as you have found out…! 🙁 )

March 23rd, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

norman said:

AP,
I think that Israel is torn between people like Shai who i think are genuine in their desire for peace and people like AIG who would rather have Israel fight forever to prove that they can win , I hope people like Shai will succeed.

March 23rd, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I can only succeed if enough Normans out there continue to talk in the kind and respectful way that you do. You have all the reasons in the world to hate us, to want nothing to do with us, and yet you find the tremendous inner strength to engage us. Please know that I hold the utmost respect for you, and wish all of us had your abilities. We are desperately looking for hope, and there’s not much around us at the moment, unfortunately…

March 23rd, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Naji said:

This Berri interview is turning out to be quite substantive… I recommend looking it up to those interested in Lebanese affairs…!

March 23rd, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,
( DO NOT GIVE UP )
As long as the Patient wants to try to get better , we should try.

March 23rd, 2008, 8:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I always do what the Doc says! 🙂

March 23rd, 2008, 8:29 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I think that Israel is torn between people like Shai who i think are genuine in their desire for peace and people like AIG who would rather have Israel fight forever to prove that they can win , I hope people like Shai will succeed.

Norman,

cc: Shai

Near as I recall, Shai didn’t think peace was possible right now.

That doesn’t sound very “peaceful” to me.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:03 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

It sure doesn’t look very likely right now. But with a new administration in Washington (not McCain probably), and a slightly less-impotent one in Jerusalem (yes, perhaps even with Bibi… AIG will love that one, don’t tell him I said this), then who knows. We need some leaders not only with insight, and openness, but also with “balls” (forgive me Zenobia). Leaders need to lead, not only be led.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

Alex said:

Boaz,

Since you told me you plan to answer everyone’s questions here in the comments section, I have few questions for you regarding your proposed PCP (peace Canal Plan)

1) Did you recently compare the cost (initial, and variable cost) of the two options? … water desalination or the Canal from Turkey?

Is the Canal much cheaper? … is cost an issue?

2) from your experience, how would you describe the reaction in Israel to the peace canal proposal? do most Israelis express their fears that Syria might somehow either poison the water they will drink, or will be in control of their water supply and might use it to pressure Israel?

3) Given what happened in 1973 on the Egyptian front, do you really think that the Tank Barrier option is necessary? … would it work? Did you get any positive reaction from Syrians for that option?

4) Why is everything located on the estern border of the Golan with Syria? … looking at it on the map, one gets the impression that this is a way to separate the Golan from Syria.

Thanks.

March 24th, 2008, 12:40 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I have the perfect answer to everyone’s canal woes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OKXYBq_QUc

Surf’s up, dude!

March 24th, 2008, 12:58 am

 

offended said:

In principles, no problem. Water is life and it’s imperative to provide it where it is needed (Palestine and Israel).

However, it seems to me that the canal runs through the current zone of disengagement. Is there any symbolic meaning to that? Or is it just a matter of topographic necessities?

March 24th, 2008, 1:03 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

You gotta love Lebanese media… *sigh*

11:27 Berri says this TV interview would be his last to avoid the heavy gunfire which takes place always before and after his televised interviews.

11:30 Berri’s interview ends amid heavy gunfire.

March 24th, 2008, 1:04 am

 

Alex said:

QN,

But you have to admit .. Berri is good. It shows he has been around for few decades.

March 24th, 2008, 1:32 am

 
 

Boaz Wachtel said:

Alex and friends,

First, Thanks for the professional posting. Second, I am very pleased with the amount of discussion the Peace Canal Plan on the Golan Heights is generating. That was the original intent.
In the absence of political progress between the two states, and the failure of conventional politics and politicians to bring peace closer to the people they govern, we need to examine creative options for peace that have not been on the table before. It is my humble opinion that a peace accord between Syria and Israel should be linked to signing of an agreement for the construction of the PCP, and not delay the agreement and construction to a post peace agreement period. The reason is that they are interlinked as the letter from the office of President Jimmy Carter said “The idea is unique since it combines alernative solutions to the problem of water with security considerations” Also, there is a great distrust between the parties and Israelis still remember the surprised attack in 1973 on the Golan.
A modular tank barrier on the current border, even if temporary, when combined with additional water to the 4 parties, will help sell the idea of peace to the Israelis because A) they will be assured that in the forseeable future no such sudden armored attack will be possible (missile threat can only be effectively difused by a peace agreement) and B) that additional water to their neigbors will mean less competition and conflict over limited water resources, and a possible settlemet of Palestinian water rights due to the increased water pie. SO, we must use multiple confiedence building measures (CBM), leading to and in parralel to a peace process, and the CBM should be in the political, security and hydrology fields in tandum.
With regards to the issues Alex and others raised:
1. Desalination gives the illusion of independence to Israelis but actually it relies on foreign energy and it’s environmental impact, on shores/beaches (plant location) and air pollution are underestimated and understated. In addition, rising energy prices makes price calcuations (for cm of water) that were done in the past a distant dream. A 250 million cm/yr desal facility costs around 1 billion USD and rising energy costs makes desal a very expensive options even for Israel, that can efford to pay more then it’s neighbors. So in that sense the Peace Canal Plan is an attractive economic proposition, also due to the contribution of hydro-electric production on the slopes of the Golan to the reduction of conveyance cost and the fact that there are no real additional options to solve (in a balanced manner) the regional water problem and save the Jordan river and the Dead Sea at the same time. Only a regional solution is appropriate for a regional problem. In short, cost for the PCP should not be an issue when one also considers the cost of one day of fighting X30 days, the contribution of peace dividends to the economies in the region and the future savings in military expenditures of each side.
2. The issue that the Syrians may poison the water has been raised before and I reject that notion. Syria has a reputation in Israel as a country that keeps agreements it signs. Syria will receive a quarter of the water to it’s western cities and to future population in the Golan. Who in earth would poison water it’s own people drink? The pipeline from Turkey will be buried deep in the ground, well guarded by the Syrians and today’s technologies allow for real time monitoring of water content. No country is required to give up one drop of it’s water inventory and the water will be used to stabilize aquifers and should not be on the account of developing other national development priorities that each side pursue. Besides that, the agreement between the parties would be accompanied with International guarentees and stipulate the international penalties imposed on any party breaching the agreement. Water now crosses boders and Syria did not poison Israeli water coming from it’s or Lebanese teritory before because they know it’s a possible casus belli.
Israel will not rely for it’s existance on this water source from Turkey, rather it relies on it’s own sources and the additional water would help to stabilize it’s (and Palestinian) water stocks.
3) The fact that the Egyptians broke the sand made tank barrier and crossed the canal during the 1973 war should not be used to reject this concrete, modular, extensive and temporary tank barrier that is proposed for the current border. As Shai said, satelites can detect any armored movement towards Israel, but if the Israeli air force will have to deal with war on multiple fronts (as some predict here) it will not have to attack Syrian armor as a priority because the tank barrier+ canal will stop them from crossing over. The barrier have a tremendously important psycological role to help “sell” an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to the Israelis.
I use to update the Syrian Embassy in Washington about the Peace Canal Plan by fax but it was a pure monolog. The only refernce to the option of Turkish water passing through Syria to the ME was made by the Syrian Ambassador to Turkey in the Mid-90’s when he said that Syria does not oppose the sale of Turkish water to the ME or Israel as long as it is used to put pressure on Israel to return the Golan Heights back.
4. The reason the canal and tank barrier are located on the current border is that A) it is already well dug as an anti-tank ditch for some major parts along the border, B) the environmental impact is smaller there due to various border works that have been made on both sides of the border, C) There is no need to evacuate people from the current boder zone etc. If we place the barrier on the Middle of the North-South axis in the Golan or on the western part there are many engineering, environmental and topographic challenges that will make the cost of the project prohibitive.
There is no desire to separate the Golan Heights from Syria. It belongs to Syria and will be returned to Syria one day. Does the Euphrates seperates east Syria from west Syria in a way that it is a seperate teritory?
The question is when and at what price will Israel return the Golan Heights back to Syria? If the region will choose the war path it will bring disaster to all of us. If we collectively choose the path of peace and the return of the Golan we can avoid disaster. And then, after peace, all those “career right wing Israeli pessimists” and Arab pessimists will not be able to mainstain Israel and the region in a perpetual conflict any more (because they are not willing to compromise due to what I call the “more disease”)and they will join the unemployment line…

Boaz Wachtel

March 24th, 2008, 8:39 am

 

Zenobia said:

Canal and joint water resources, excellent idea.

Tank Barrier, very bad idea.

and yes, why is a tank barrier placed on the eastern side of the Golan?…everything to make sure…Israel can reoccupy… the Golan if desired…but Syria not able to at minimum control its own territory? This aspect is as usual completely biased as a proposal.

March 24th, 2008, 9:35 am

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I agree with you about the tank barrier (as I’ve written above). But I don’t think the idea of placing it on the eastern border was to enable a reoccupying of the territory should Israel change its mind. This project would only occur if a new spirit of peace would be formed. And then, a whole variety of other, military-type “checking stations” would be put in place, not enabling any side to “surprise” the other. Plus, there are satellites, and a whole variety of tools also at Syria’s disposal. Let’s not worry yet about why not to do this project, let’s first see if it is feasible, smart, and useful.

March 24th, 2008, 9:46 am

 

oil for peace said:

USA threats after boycott support (in 2006)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened Norway with “serious political consequences” after Finance Minister and Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen admitted to supporting a boycott of Israeli goods.

The reaction was reportedly given to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC, and it was made clear that the statements came from the top level of the US State Department, newspaper VG reports.

VG claims that two classified reports promised a “tougher climate” between the USA and Norway if Halvorsen’s remarks represented the foreign policy of the new red-green alliance of the Labor, Socialist Left and Center parties.

Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, responded immediately with written explanations to both Israel and the USA, clarifying the government’s stance, while Halvorsen distanced her party’s policy from that of the government’s.

March 24th, 2008, 9:52 am

 

oil for peace said:

High Time for a Worldwide Boycott

March 02, 2008 By Omar Barghouti

Yesterday, Friday, 29 February 2008, Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “holocaust,” telling the Israeli Army Radio: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.” This date will go down in history as the beginning of a new phase in the colonial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, whereby a senior Israeli leader, a “leftist” for that matter, has publicly revealed the genocidal plans Israel is considering to implement against Palestinians under its military occupation, if they do not cease to resist its dictates. It will also mark the first time since World War II that any state has relentlessly — and on live TV — terrorized a civilian population with acts of slow, or low-intensity, genocide, with one of its senior government officials overtly inciting to a full-blown “Holocaust,” while the world stood by, watching in utter apathy, or in glee, as in the case of leading western leaders.

For an Israeli leader who is Jewish, in particular, to threaten anyone with Holocaust is a sad irony of history. Are victims of unspeakable crimes invariably doomed to turn into appalling criminals? Can anything be possibly done to break this vicious cycle, before the state that claims to represent the main victims of the Holocaust commits a fresh Holocaust itself?

Before addressing those questions, however, isn’t it exaggerated and pointedly counterproductive, one may ask, to compare Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, no matter how brutal and inhumane they have been, to Nazi genocide? Besides, isn’t each crime unique and worthy of attention in its own right as a violation of human rights, of international law, of universal moral principles? The answer is yes; each crime is unique, and nothing Israel has done to date comes even close, in quantity, to Nazi crimes. But when victims-turned-perpetrators openly admit their intentions to carry out a unique form of offense that they are most familiar with, and they actually commit repeated acts that are qualitatively reminiscent of that crime in their unbridled racism and the ghastly level of disregard for the value and dignity of the human life of the “other” that is inherent in them, then their threats ought to be taken seriously. Everyone is called upon to react, to act in any way to stop this crime-in-progress from reaching its logical conclusion.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, despite its lack of political independence and its disputed mandate, is called upon to immediately exonerate itself from the popular accusation of complicity. Azmi Bishara was among the most prominent of those who issued this harsh indictment, in reaction to the announcement by the head of the PA in Cairo, just a day before the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza, that Al-Qaida had infiltrated Gaza, and that the projectiles fired indiscriminately by the Palestinian resistance at Israeli towns and settlements provide the excuse for Israel’s aggression. The credibility of this complicity assertion was compelling enough to prompt Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the Israeli crime in unprecedented austerity and hyperbole, describing it as “more than a Holocaust.”

Arab regimes, especially Egypt’s and Jordan’s, as unelected, illegitimate and subservient to the US as they may be, are still expected to distance themselves from Israel’s lethal war of aggression on Gaza. After all, their continued diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, as well as their implicit justification of Israel’s crimes through their repeated and gratuitous vilification of Hamas, have convincingly labeled them in the eyes of their respective publics, not to mention the wider Arab public, as accessories in crime.

European governments, chiefly in France, Britain and Germany, have to also answer to the serious charge of collusion in Israel’s crimes against humanity, prevalent among wide Palestinian, Arab and Muslim majorities. They have not only stayed silent in the face of Israel’s willful killing of almost 100 innocent civilians, many of whom are children, in the course of the last few days in Gaza; they have continued to treat Israel with reverence, celebrating its so-called 60th anniversary, a gruesome event of ethnic cleansing and colonial ruin itself, showering it with economic, political and scientific support that significantly contributes to its impunity.

The US government, on the other hand, cannot be accused of abetting Israel’s acts of genocide in the same league as all the above sinister accomplices. It is and has always been a full and proud partner in planning, bankrolling and executing those crimes against the Palestinians, not to mention its own unmatched criminal record in Afghanistan, Iraq and, before both, Vietnam. When our own Nuremberg moment arrives, when Israeli war criminals are finally prosecuted in an international court, a substantial space in the defense chamber will have to be reserved for US commanders and political leaders. Without American partnership, expressed in immeasurable military, economic and diplomatic aid, Israel could not have committed all its racist and colonial crimes with such impunity.

Going back to the question of whether anything should and could be done to stop Israel, the answer is a certain yes. South African apartheid crimes were challenged not only by the heroic struggle of the oppressed masses on the ground in South Africa; they were also fought by worldwide campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the regime, with all its complicit economic, academic, cultural, and athletic institutions. Similarly, international civil society can, and ought to, apply the same measures of non-violent justice to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law and basic human rights. Even the threat of sanctions has proven effective enough in the past to halt Israel’s repeated campaigns of death and devastation.

If all those images of tens of Palestinian children torn to pieces, all those recurrent episodes of wanton killing and destruction by an occupation army against a predominantly defenseless civilian population, go unpunished, the world may well witness a new Holocaust indeed.

—————————
* Omar Barghouti is an independent political analyst

March 24th, 2008, 10:03 am

 

wizart said:

High Time for a Worldwide Boycott

March 02, 2008 By Omar Barghouti

Yesterday, Friday, 29 February 2008, Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “holocaust,” telling the Israeli Army Radio: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”[1] This date will go down in history as the beginning of a new phase in the colonial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, whereby a senior Israeli leader, a “leftist” for that matter, has publicly revealed the genocidal plans Israel is considering to implement against Palestinians under its military occupation, if they do not cease to resist its dictates. It will also mark the first time since World War II that any state has relentlessly — and on live TV — terrorized a civilian population with acts of slow, or low-intensity, genocide, with one of its senior government officials overtly inciting to a full-blown “Holocaust,” while the world stood by, watching in utter apathy, or in glee, as in the case of leading western leaders.
For an Israeli leader who is Jewish, in particular, to threaten anyone with Holocaust is a sad irony of history. Are victims of unspeakable crimes invariably doomed to turn into appalling criminals? Can anything be possibly done to break this vicious cycle, before the state that claims to represent the main victims of the Holocaust commits a fresh Holocaust itself?

Before addressing those questions, however, isn’t it exaggerated and pointedly counterproductive, one may ask, to compare Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, no matter how brutal and inhumane they have been, to Nazi genocide? Besides, isn’t each crime unique and worthy of attention in its own right as a violation of human rights, of international law, of universal moral principles? The answer is yes; each crime is unique, and nothing Israel has done to date comes even close, in quantity, to Nazi crimes. But when victims-turned-perpetrators openly admit their intentions to carry out a unique form of offense that they are most familiar with, and they actually commit repeated acts that are qualitatively reminiscent of that crime in their unbridled racism and the ghastly level of disregard for the value and dignity of the human life of the “other” that is inherent in them, then their threats ought to be taken seriously. Everyone is called upon to react, to act in any way to stop this crime-in-progress from reaching its logical conclusion.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, despite its lack of political independence and its disputed mandate, is called upon to immediately exonerate itself from the popular accusation of complicity. Azmi Bishara was among the most prominent of those who issued this harsh indictment, in reaction to the announcement by the head of the PA in Cairo, just a day before the latest Israeli massacre in Gaza, that Al-Qaida had infiltrated Gaza, and that the projectiles fired indiscriminately by the Palestinian resistance at Israeli towns and settlements provide the excuse for Israel’s aggression. The credibility of this complicity assertion was compelling enough to prompt Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the Israeli crime in unprecedented austerity and hyperbole, describing it as “more than a Holocaust.”

Arab regimes, especially Egypt’s and Jordan’s, as unelected, illegitimate and subservient to the US as they may be, are still expected to distance themselves from Israel’s lethal war of aggression on Gaza. After all, their continued diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, as well as their implicit justification of Israel’s crimes through their repeated and gratuitous vilification of Hamas, have convincingly labeled them in the eyes of their respective publics, not to mention the wider Arab public, as accessories in crime.

European governments, chiefly in France, Britain and Germany, have to also answer to the serious charge of collusion in Israel’s crimes against humanity, prevalent among wide Palestinian, Arab and Muslim majorities. They have not only stayed silent in the face of Israel’s willful killing [3] of almost 100 innocent civilians, many of whom are children, in the course of the last few days in Gaza; they have continued to treat Israel with reverence, celebrating its so-called 60th anniversary, a gruesome event of ethnic cleansing and colonial ruin itself, showering it with economic, political and scientific support that significantly contributes to its impunity.

The US government, on the other hand, cannot be accused of abetting Israel’s acts of genocide in the same league as all the above sinister accomplices. It is and has always been a full and proud partner in planning, bankrolling and executing those crimes against the Palestinians, not to mention its own unmatched criminal record in Afghanistan, Iraq and, before both, Vietnam. When our own Nuremberg moment arrives, when Israeli war criminals are finally prosecuted in an international court, a substantial space in the defense chamber will have to be reserved for US commanders and political leaders. Without American partnership, expressed in immeasurable military, economic and diplomatic aid, Israel could not have committed all its racist and colonial crimes with such impunity.

Going back to the question of whether anything should and could be done to stop Israel, the answer is a certain yes. South African apartheid crimes were challenged not only by the heroic struggle of the oppressed masses on the ground in South Africa; they were also fought by worldwide campaigns of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the regime, with all its complicit economic, academic, cultural, and athletic institutions. Similarly, international civil society can, and ought to, apply the same measures of non-violent justice to bring about Israel’s compliance with international law and basic human rights. Even the threat of sanctions has proven effective enough in the past to halt Israel’s repeated campaigns of death and devastation.

If all those images of tens of Palestinian children torn to pieces, all those recurrent episodes of wanton killing and destruction by an occupation army against a predominantly defenseless civilian population, go unpunished, the world may well witness a new Holocaust indeed.

—————————
* Omar Barghouti is an independent political analyst

March 24th, 2008, 10:19 am

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Do you think isolating Syria is a good idea? Is anyone benefitting from it? I think not.

So why do you think isolating Israel would be good? Would Israel act differently than Syria, if isolated? But even if you honestly thought Israel would act differently, do you really think it can be isolated? Just like Syria found Iran, North Korea, etc., to supply her with all her needs, so will Israel, in the extreme unlikely even that the U.S. or Europe would isolate her.

What baffles me, still, is that many like you, Wizart, are still seeking justice, but not realizing that by doing so, you’re setting yourself farther away from reaching other important goals, like peace itself. By contributing to the isolation of Syria and, for that matter, even Iran, Israel is making it much tougher to ever reach peace in the region. You of all people should be capable of understanding this, even better than us. There’s justice, and there’s pragmatism. Justice can be reached, only if we take pragmatic steps that lead us to peace first (even if a superficial one). We need to first end the cycle of bloodshed, before we seek justice.

March 24th, 2008, 10:50 am

 

wizart said:

Shai,

You must be taking us for fools on this blog. Israel isolates Syria through its proxies and benefits the most from this isolation not least by allowing Saudi fields to power the world while getting away with its notorious long term policy of arrogance and genocide.

Entire Region of Norway to boycott Apartheid Israel!
Campaign, December 16th, 2005

The regional council of the Sør-Trøndelag in Norway has passed a motion calling for a comprehensive boycott on Israeli goods to be followed up with an awareness raising campaign across the region. Sør-Trøndelag has a population of 270,000 out of Norway’s 4.6 million. Trondheim, Norway`s third largest city, forms part of the region and will participate in the boycott initiative. The council committed itself to this motion as a result of intensive work by Norwegian activists that had launched a national Boycott Israel campaign this June. The success of this motion has marked a massive move forwards for boycotts of Apartheid Israel.

Building from the region`s experience of support for the South African Anti-Apartheid struggle, the people and their representatives in Sør-Trøndelag have once again sided with the calls for justice and liberation.

The decision comes just weeks after a city in the Basque country, Arbizu, passed a similar motion in their solidarity with the Palestinian people. The news will give further boost to the campaigning efforts of other cities and campaigners across the globe and will help stimulate more initiatives to follow the Palestinian call for comprehensive boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel.

Full text of the motion (translation by the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign):

Boycott Israeli goods

An international boycott campaign against Israel is now being launched. Apartheid in South Africa was condemned by the entire world and this contributed to the fall of the regime. Israel`s occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights has been condemned by the UN. The Israeli settlements violate International Law. The construction of the Wall has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the refugees still wait to return to their homes.

Sør-Trøndelag was the first [Norwegian] county to boycott South Africa. Upholding this good tradition, the County council, as the first in the country, has decided to boycott Israeli goods, by not buying Israeli goods and through awareness raising efforts. We call on the population to do the same.
——————————————————————-

The road of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

March 24th, 2008, 11:30 am

 

wizart said:

Shai,

If the U.S is willing to threaten Norway with “political consequences” how do you think the US would react to the Saudis in case of a boycott considering the U.S navy surrounds the gulf?

Another peace canal added to hundreds of initiatives and millions of photo opportunities are all nothing but public relations to make Israel look peaceful while it keeps running away from responsibility.

“What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” whoever 🙂

—————————————————————

USA threats after boycott support
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened Norway with “serious political consequences” after Finance Minister and Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen admitted to supporting a boycott of Israeli goods.

The reaction was reportedly given to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC, and it was made clear that the statements came from the top level of the US State Department, newspaper VG reports.

VG claims that two classified reports promised a “tougher climate” between the USA and Norway if Halvorsen’s remarks represented the foreign policy of the new red-green alliance of the Labor, Socialist Left and Center parties.

Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, responded immediately with written explanations to both Israel and the USA, clarifying the government’s stance, while Halvorsen distanced her party’s policy from that of the government’s.

March 24th, 2008, 11:46 am

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Thank you for the kind insinuation (“taking you for fools on this blog”). I cannot hope to sound more sincere when I say that Israel, just like the U.S., are not benefitting from isolating Syria, because they are both forcing Syria to choose options that inevitably make this region less stable, not more. Therefore, I still preach to stop this isolation policy, regardless whether you believe it or not.

Here’s a good suggestion – instead of roaming the internet looking for “entire regions of Norway” who seek to boycott Apartheid Israel, why don’t you channel your energies into getting us closer to peace? The first step of your thousand miles road, should be to get us closer together, I think, not farther apart. Unless, that is, you’re just set on reaching your justice first. I must say that at first I thought very highly of you, as a true champion of peace. Reading your comments of recent, makes me question that, thinking that you may instead belong to the anti-Israel-pro-Nordic camp, at all costs. If I’m right, that would be a real shame. Bashing us to pieces, even if only verbally, is not going to get you closer to peace, only farther. And, by the way, do recall that some of us also have our share of frustrations with your side. There are two lanes in this thousand miles road, please remember that.

March 24th, 2008, 11:47 am

 

wizart said:

Shai,

Please forgive me for being blunt and sure there could be two lanes to go forward but there’s only one genocide in our region and one way to stop it because your way has not worked and real peace is too important to be given lip service. Speaking on behalf of the invisible children of apartheid requires taking difficult actions.

If boycotting South Africa worked I can only hope you can pitch in and support this effort yourself if you really want enduring peace. Imagine if Israelis themselves confronted their government instead of apologizing for their track record of wars, death and destruction.

March 24th, 2008, 12:03 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

Yes, Berri is good. Maybe the best… he’s a survivor. Unfortunately, he’s not using his experience these days as a real mediator. That suggests to me that he can’t… both sides are too inflexible.

My earlier post was not directed against him but rather the Lebanese media (Naharnet in this case), which never feels like it is doing its job unless it takes a cheap shot at somebody.

Finally, will people leave Shai alone, already? If you alienate people like him, good luck with Likud.

March 24th, 2008, 12:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

I’ll try to forgive your bluntness, even though sometimes it is indeed difficult to do. I’m trying to choose my words more carefully, I believe, as I also have a fair share of frustrations with the side you’re so-called “representing”. While I do agree that difficult action must be taken to stop this terrible cycle of violence (I know you’d like me to call it “genocide”, but that won’t happen, not now), I do want to remind you, like Alex tried, that Israel is not a South Africa. If we were, I’d say that boycott was possible, and may well achieve its goals. We are, unlike South Africa, supported much more, by rather strong nations such as the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, etc. As such, a boycott by certain regions of Norway, or by the Wahhabi Saudis, is not likely to pressure Israel to change its course. Just like boycotting Syria will not cause it to abandon its alliances with Iran, HA, or Hamas.

To get Israel to change its ways, we either need better marketing from Syria and the Palestinian’s side (worldwide), or gestures that force a public discourse within Israel, or regional war. I’m hoping my mere “lip service” could help achieve the first two. I’m afraid your ongoing verbal belligerence is likely to only achieve the latter. Like our mothers once taught us, life is not about being right, it’s about being smart. This is our sad reality, no matter how much you (or I for that matter) hate it. Now let’s be smart, and figure out how to change it. In the army there’s a saying: “You can pee against the wind all you like, but you’re still going to get wet.”

March 24th, 2008, 12:29 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Speaking of Berri, here’s a new item … his latest initiative.

Personally, I think that these initiatives will never work, unless leaders are held accountable for their intransigence. So, here’s what I propose: hold the proposed talks on LIVE TELEVISION, and let the country watch.

That might keep ’em honest.

——-

Berri to Invite Lebanese Leaders for Dialogue If Arab Summit Fails to Find Solution
Speaker Nabih Berri has said he would invite rival Lebanese leaders for talks next month if the Arab summit in Damascus failed to find a solution to Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis.
Berri also indicated he would postpone for the 17th time a parliament session scheduled for Tuesday to elect a new president.

“Until this moment, there is nothing new that stops the postponement of the session,” Berri told New TV in a live interview Sunday.

The Speaker said he would consult Arab and foreign leaders on his next steps if there was no breakthrough at the March 29-30 summit.

Berri told New TV that he would call on bickering politicians who participated in the 2006 roundtable national dialogue to meet again if there was no progress at the Arab summit.

“I will call (for a) dialogue to consult over the national unity government and the election law” in April, Berri said.

He said his new initiative does not contradict with the Arab League initiative which calls for the election of Army Chief Gen. Michel Suleiman president, the formation of a national unity cabinet and the adoption of a new electoral law.

He said the parliamentary elections law was the main sticking point between the majority and the Hizbullah-led opposition.

The speaker also accused the majority March 14 forces of causing the presidential vacuum, saying they back out from agreements.

“They have greed,” he said, adding that all Lebanese leaders are “extremists” but “not traitors.”
Lebanon has been without a president since Emile Lahoud stepped down in November.

On accusations that he is keeping the legislature’s door closed, Berri said: “How come it is said that parliament is closed when every time we schedule (new) sessions?” to elect a head of state.

His comment came in responses to charges made by the March 14 coalition that Berri was rejecting efforts to convene parliament.

He also said Premier Fouad Saniora should represent Lebanon at the Arab summit although his government is “unconstitutional.”

“I know that Saniora won’t go. But if there was specific and intense Arab presence (in Damascus), Lebanon will go,” Berri said.

The cabinet is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to decide whether Lebanon should attend or boycott the summit.

March 24th, 2008, 12:34 pm

 

Naji said:

The Wiz does not disappoint…the Wiz is a true peace artist, you should continue to think highly of him, Shai…!

March 24th, 2008, 12:42 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,
That was during Berri’s interview last night… you really should try to find the whole thing and watch it… a great many interesting revelations and insights…!!

March 24th, 2008, 12:46 pm

 

wizart said:

Shai,

There’s also a saying “when sheeps follow their heard they eventually get slaughtered” and that’s what Israel’s marketing is doing. It’s leading a heard into their slaughter and making sure there’s little objection. Marketing is about creating a desire in people and your marketing is creating a desire for the world to turn the other cheek.

So why not take mother’s advice and be morally smart because that’s the right thing to do and since your democracy allows to shape this marketing and public policy then why do you spend time on Syrian blocks instead of Israel’s blocks where your influence might work?

I’m not suggesting that you turn away from here because it’s good to know your friends and it’s even better to know your enemy.

Cheers 🙂

March 24th, 2008, 12:51 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

Do you think Damascus would send your “peace artist” to the negotiating table with Israel next time around? Don’t you think his verbal AK-47 spraying will leave him in an empty room after about, say, ten seconds? A “peace artist” is someone that makes both sides want peace, not just his own. Like the old-version AIG, I cannot see how anyone on our side, myself included, could fathom making peace with Wizart. When you want to reach peace, you need to learn to look through your enemy’s lens, and see what he sees. And when you do this, you find a different way to communicate with him, even in this forum. I’ve been hearing negative criticism here day and night, for the past two months almost. I’m still here, despite the fact that it’s the farthest from easy to do. Yet I do listen, and I do open up, and I am capable of understanding you better. But I cannot do such a thing, not even for a moment, with somebody who only wants to bash into me everything that’s wrong about me. Will that make me want to listen more, or not listen at all? Let’s look ourselves in the mirror sometimes, and not only expect us Apartheid Zionists to do so. Some on your side are doing the best they can to bridge the gaps. Others, I’m afraid, are doing the exact opposite.

March 24th, 2008, 12:51 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Thanks for the blog suggestions. And you’re right, it is often better to know your enemy, that’s why I’m here. But getting to know your enemy is quite hard to do, when you walk into the room with an AK-47, ready to verbal spray as much as possible. Don’t preach to me about being “morally smart” – I’m doing a hell of a lot more than you are, attempting to speak to my nation about changing its ways, while you sit there browsing the internet for “regions in Norway” that want to boycott Apartheid Israel. When you start doing your share in contribution to peace, come give me criticism. Until then, stick with your friends, they’ll keep you nice and comfortable.

March 24th, 2008, 12:58 pm

 

wizart said:

Naji,

Thanks for your support and peaceful ways.

Shai,

My friend I’m a very nice person to know in any negotiation although I gave you my take on things without beating around the bush. I’m not here as a cheerleader or to make people feel good about themselves. It’s out of respect for my friends and enemies alike “whoever your views and worldviews make you think of me” that I speak my mind. I call this integrity which is being in tune with how I truely feel. As the matter of fact I have changed my views on middle east politics considerably since I started browsing this blog so that’s a good sign I’m learning here and I hope you are too, after all I hope we’re only here to grow and learn in peace.

March 24th, 2008, 1:01 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Shai instead of “discussing food” and playing this bad Israeli cop good Israeli cop game with AIG, where you seem to have taken the rational voice of Israel (good cop), you could enlighten us what Israel is actually doing to deserve “goodwill” from the Arabs, Palestinians and rest of world (minus USA). I can’t see any positive peace building signs, on the contrary. Israel in my eyes is driving with Merkavas on both lanes, on the road you mentioned.

One sign of “anti-Israel-pro-Nordic camp” was when the Swedes refused to participate in a NATO exercise because there were Israelis. Remember that Shai?

Nordic countries are not anti-Israeli, they are against any human rights violations even when they are done by the X people (nation you know). Actually in the early days of Israel our countries gave much support, but when when Israel chanced to the worse of course there emerged critics. Our foreign ministers etc have during the past decades criticized Israel with excellent moral arguments. What does Israel do? It begins that anti-Semitic screaming instead of discussing the essential claims. It has happened so numerous times that the anti-Semitic claims only make Israelis (now I mean the country not the X people) look in our eyes as “idiots”. What if the Chinese (and other human rights “activists”) would use equal strategy?

What comes to Halvorsen and Norway. I suppose that hyperventilation of Rice is caused by many reasons. Norway is distancing herself from NATO and USA. Norway doesn’t like the missile shield game and doesn’t trust so much in the NATO umbrella. Still it is amusing that Rice makes such a show of this small case. Is she the foreign minister of Israel? Well it certainly doesn’t make the Norwegians more pro-Israeli or promote Israeli good in Nordic countries.

It would be interesting to know if when a Finnish minister would support of boycotting Chinese goods (because of Tibet), would Rice threaten with “tougher climate” between the USA and Finland. 🙂

March 24th, 2008, 1:03 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

I’m ecstatic about your ability to be in tune with your feelings. I wish I had that rare ability. But here’s another “free advice” – besides contemplating WHAT to say, try spending another nanosecond considering HOW to say it. When you speak to your enemy, beating around the bush sometimes is a very good thing to do. And making your enemy feel good about himself, is often even better. Go talk to a diplomat, or a negotiator, and learn a thing or two about talking with your rival. And then come back, and tell me again about your “sheep”.

March 24th, 2008, 1:05 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
I do not think that the Wiz “only wants to bash into [you] everything that’s wrong about [you]”, but rather he keeps trying to disassociate “you” from “everything that is wrong about you” and say: Hey, let’s look at that “nastiness” together and work on fixing it together… whatever is wrong with “you” is actually wrong with “us”…it is our common problem… and we can only fix it together…, but first we have to see it together…

He is not even talking to you as an “enemy” or a “rival”, but rather as an errant family member… and we have a family problem…!! You may think this patronizing, but it would be wrong to interpret it as simply self-gratifying hostility…!

March 24th, 2008, 1:09 pm

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

Well, you actually managed to speak to me with some reasonable respect, which made me capable of hearing you. I’m not into good-cop/bad-cop games, I’m sorry you still see it as such (that’s actually not very respectful of you). I do try to speak what I think, although much more carefully than you or Wizart do. I think the antisemitic excuse has been used so often that it bears no more weight, even when truly faced with antisemitism (like your comment about our “funny race”). I have never used this against any criticism here, though I’ve heard a fair share of accusations.

I’m not asking Arabs to show good will towards Israel, because indeed I do believe that we don’t deserve it (please read, and re-read this sentence again, incase you don’t believe it). I do hope, not ask, that Arab leaders like Bashar, will find the way to either market their claims against Israel better (see my above comments), or gesture in such a way as to force a public discourse in Israel. The alternative, is to go to war. Unbelievable as it may seem to you, if I thought there was a chance Syria could “shake some sense” into Israelis by fighting us, I would almost recommend it! But unfortunately it won’t achieve that goal. So we’re left with only the first two options.

In the meantime, my mere “lip service” towards the Arabs is meant to try to help get Track II talks going, because that too can have its positive effect, hopefully spilling over to Track I. There is no better way to make peace that I know of, other than two enemies engaging one another. And in that engagement, words have to be measured very carefully, and expressed respectfully and diplomatically, not bluntly like you and Wizart seem to be experts at. I somehow doubt Syria’s negotiators (or the Palestinians’, for that matter) come into the room with their Israeli counterparts, and say “Good morning, you Apartheid-like Zionist criminal… let’s talk about peace, shall we?” Do I need you to sweeten up to me? No, I don’t. Do I need you to only tell me things I want to hear? No, also not. Do I need you to be respectful of me, because I’m here to listen to you? Yes, absolutely.

March 24th, 2008, 1:19 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

I don’t know why, but it sure sounded different, and better, coming from you! If you’ve been following my comments here for the past two months, you KNOW I’m the last person to run away from criticism. How much more can I say that I’m not here because I’ve got nothing better to do with my life – on the contrary – with each minute I spend online, I do less work (business), and benefit less on the personal level. I am here ONLY because I want to reach out to fellow Middle Easterners, to hear and understand them, and to let them know about at least one Israeli here that is doing everything he can for peace. Trust me, this is not the only forum where I work on achieving this goal. I also do a fair bit outside of cyberspace, in the real world.

March 24th, 2008, 1:25 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai,
That is exactly why the Wiz and I want to get all that energy and good will of yours re-directed towards what we think would really, pragmatically, achieve peace within our life-time, …not “after a generation or two”…

We want you to work with us on the “boycott campaign”… 😉

March 24th, 2008, 1:31 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

If I thought a boycott could work, I’d stop buying Israeli products!

It can’t, just like boycotting Syria can’t. It has nothing to do with justice, or truth, or fairness. It has only to do with reality, and the fact that Israel enjoys too much support to ever be truly isolated. Even North Korea started “cooperating” only when approached warmly, not when isolated. And I’m not even asking for that. I’m merely asking for action that will help us bring about the public discourse inside Israel. For instance, Alex’s idea of Syria suddenly inviting some Syrian Jews to come visit Damascus and Aleppo for a week. Imagine what that would cause in Israel. Or, let Bashar go on a world tour, visiting capital after capital, speaking about how Israel is refusing to accept peace, despite his nation’s unlimited loud-and-clear gestures. That’s the kind of marketing I’m talking about. Action that is hard to dismiss, even amongst the majority “numb” Israelis that have also lost hope.

March 24th, 2008, 1:41 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Here’s a piece of non-political news.

AUB Board of Trustees selects Peter F. Dorman as 15th president of the University

On March 21, 2008 the AUB Board of Trustees unanimously voted to elect Dr. Peter F. Dorman as the fifteenth president of the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Beirut, Lebanon. Dr. Dorman is professor of Egyptology at the Oriental Institute and in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Dorman will succeed John Waterbury, who has served with distinction since 1998. The announcement follows a year-long international search that solicited the input of consultants, faculty, staff, students, and alumni worldwide. “The search demanded intense coordination of our constituencies and a unique understanding of AUB, its goals and future needs. I would particularly like to recognize the diligent work of the presidential search committee led by Board of Trustees Vice Chair Philip S. Khoury during the selection process,” said Dr. Thomas Q. Morris, chair of the Board.
“Having spent my childhood in Lebanon and much of my career in the Middle East, I have a strong appreciation of the tremendous impact AUB and its graduates have in the region. It is an honor and privilege to lead the University. We cannot underestimate the positive influence that AUB, with its outstanding Medical Center, forward-thinking research, community outreach and liberal arts education has on the local community and the region as a whole,” said Dorman, following the announcement. Dr. Dorman, who did his undergraduate studies at Amherst (BA, 70) and University of Chicago (PhD, 85) is the great-great grandson of Daniel Bliss, the founder of AUB.

Peter Dorman will bring to the presidency a record of academic accomplishment as a humanist and an international leader in the study of the ancient near east, and in particular the field of Egyptology, in which he is a noted historiographer, epigrapher and philologist. He is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt and is probably best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period. His most recent monograph, Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery, and Allusion in a Corpus of Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Egypt (2002), examines artisanal craftsmanship in light of material culture, iconography, and religious texts. In 2007, he and Betsy M. Bryan of The Johns Hopkins University came out with an edited volume titled Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes.
An accomplished academic leader and administrator, since 2002 he has chaired with great success the distinguished Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at one of the world’s top research universities, the University of Chicago. Prior to that, he spent nine years (1988-1997) heading the epigraphic efforts at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. From 1977 to 1988, he worked in curatorial positions in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

“AUB is in the midst of an exciting period of change and transition, and we look forward to working with Peter to capitalize on the energy and amazing growth that has been building at the University in recent years. He has a strong commitment to strengthening AUB’s research environment and understands that the university’s success depends not only on the growth and success of its new PhD programs, but also on the continuous improvement of its core undergraduate programs. He is committed to diversifying our student body, to attracting and retaining outstanding faculty from around the world, and to increased outreach and service to Lebanon and its region,” said Dr. Morris.
During Dr. Waterbury’s tenure at AUB, the University has conducted a strategic academic review of AUB’s strengths and potential, developed a Campus Master Plan, and successfully completed a five-year fundraising campaign ” the Campaign for Excellence” to celebrate the University’s 140th anniversary in 2006-07. The academic review resulted in a stronger liberal arts curriculum based on general education distribution requirements, enhanced minors and electives, and the introduction of new academic programs.

In 2004, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accorded AUB accreditation, making it one of only three universities in the Middle East, and the first in Lebanon, to be certified by the commission. In September 2006, the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) acted to accredit the University’s Graduate Public Health Program in the Faculty of Health Sciences, making it the first CEPH accredited public health program outside the North American continent.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited AUB’s School of Nursing for five years beginning October 13, 2007. The Campaign for Excellence, which ended on December 31, 2007, raised more than $170 million and will provide some of the funds needed to sustain AUB’s role in the region as an institutional leader committed to excellence in research, teaching, and service. In January 2008, the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC) formally received full accreditation by the Joint Commission International (JCI).

March 24th, 2008, 1:42 pm

 

wizart said:

Simo,

You’re quite correct with your excellent observation about Shai/AIG playing the good cop/ bad cop tactic here. Thanks for your insight.

Good guy/bad guy

Description

One person acts in an aggressive and pushy way, making unreasonable demands and requiring compliance.

The other person then acts in a kind and friendly way, asking nicely — and getting compliance.

The good guy (or gal, of course) may apologize for the bad guy, or plead for compliance because the bad guy is being horrible to the good guy too.

You can even do it as one person: be unpleasant and then apologize (you are under such stress) and ask nicely for what you want.

Example

A husband and wife go out to buy some hi-fi speakers. He acts in an aggressive and dominant way, complaining about the price and the sales person’s ‘condescending’ manner. She takes the sales person aside and apologizes for her husband and whispers a price at which she thinks he will buy.

A senior manager makes a presentation in an unpleasant and aggressive way, demanding that tough goals are met. A liked line manager meets with her people afterwards and says that if the goals are not met then she will be punished.

Discussion

This is a classic implementation of the Hurt and Rescue principle, which is a core element of many persuasion methods. The bad guy acts to cause discomfort and tension, after which the good guy offers escape and closure.

This is often seen on TV in the good-cop/bad-cop routine that is often seen in police dramas. It can also be a subconscious pattern for parents, where one parent tries to impose discipline by demanding compliance after which the other seems to get it easily by gentle request.

What the good guy says often gives the target person an excuse to comply, allowing them to rationalize their action and retain dignity. Sometimes the person complies with the good guy as an act of revenge to ‘teach the bad guy manners’.

March 24th, 2008, 5:01 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Boycotting is stupid.

i respect the particular Norwegians in question for putting it out there because i think it is worth drawing attention to the severity of the situation in Palestine, and i think it is worth challenging the US attitude.
However, realistically, it is stupid. Cause Boycott is not going to do anything overall…and it is punitive and not positive in its approach. and… Israel is not South Africa in terms of its economic heartiness….

much of Calvin Klein underwear is made in Israel. do you really think that americans are going to forgo their Calvin Klein underwear?

and i have much more serious examples of course.

March 24th, 2008, 6:40 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

Where were you earlier when I needed you? 🙂 Jesus, today was “rough”… Lots of anti-Shaister attacks by your friends Wizart and his Simo-hero.

March 24th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

wizart said:

Zenobia,

I appreciate you opinion and value your input.

Boycotting has a great psychological, moral and negotiation value although we can never discount the additional value of targeted boycotts when they materialize. They can keep making calvin kline but there’s a good chance an oil boycott on Israrel’s tanks, planes and destroyers can actually take place if there’s a plan and no sabotage from the likes of AIG and jesus loving Calvin Kline wearing Shai.

March 24th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Lots of anti-Shaister attacks by your friends Wizart and his Simo-hero

Shai don’t play al the time martyr. I have not attacked you personally. If you can’t tolerate different opinions stop that nonsense. I do very rarely use the word Zionist, by the way.

Simo-hero – can I now after you started it call you Shai the weeper or Shai the diner. I have noticed you tendency to get extreme personal if you do not agree what is said. You seem to be as unable to handle critics against Israel as Akbar. Even AIG seems to handle it better even he also uses often that anti-Semitic escape card.

We are here discussing in a blog. We all have different opinions and we are not diplomatic representatives speaking in formal negotiations.

It best that everybody say their opinions in a readable format. If others do not agree with my or you opinions that is called democracy and free speech. Isn’t it Shai. By the way if you do want to throw your Nokia mobile phone out of your settlement window because of me (Simo-hero) as you said, you are perfectly free to do that, but try not to hit a Palestinian when you throw it out. 🙂

March 24th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

Battal Agha said:

boy oh boy – considering Israel as apartheid shows a total lack of misunderstanding and of
reality. Leftists are not only ignorant but totally blind…

March 25th, 2008, 12:53 am

 

Shai said:

SimoHurrrrrrta,

You’re not only Wizart’s hero, you’re also fast becoming mine. Your rationale and choice of wording is the warmth that children go to sleep at night with. I wish I had the self-control that you do – it’s truly admirable. Well, here’s one last bit of “free advice” – why don’t you take your wisdom, and stick it where your Finnish sun don’t shine! You’re damn straight I take your words personally, because you don’t know HOW to discuss, you only know how to spew hatred, more hatred, and when that’s done, a little more. What good have you ever done for anyone, in your miserable little shell of a hateful life? You think you’re some model Finn? You couldn’t be HUCKLEBERRY Finn! You’re an embarrassment to any good natured humans, not only Nordic ones.

March 25th, 2008, 5:42 am

 

Alex said:

Wizart,

Shai is really not playing good cop here … he said he will probably vote for Netanyahu, he defended Israel’s Nuclear assets, and said that he does not support the one-state solution which all of you favor.

He wants a solution based on 242 … 1967 borders. That’s what Syria, Lebanon, and the rest of the Arabs want.

Are you uncomfortable with his diplomatic communication style?

“Playing the good cop” is something one can do if there is a specific goal to achieve out of this effort … what exactly is that goal that you suggest he is trying to achieve on a Syria Blog?

Shai and SimoHurtta,

Ok … it is easier if you don’t talk to each other. I know you are both nice people but something did not start right, and ..first impressions last.

March 25th, 2008, 5:49 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Best advice yet. I ask that neither Wizart nor Simohurtta address me, and I will not address them either. I can take almost any criticism here, and I have. But there’s only so much hatred I’m willing to take.

March 25th, 2008, 5:58 am

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I don’t think it was hatered. I really don’t think it is. But it was consistently personal, which is not useful at all.

I don’t think we need to analyze how this started (or where it reached), I hope everyone will simply switch back to agreeing or disagreeing on the issues … it is not like we don’t have enough issues to discuss everyday.

March 25th, 2008, 6:08 am

 

Naji said:

Alex,
I am impressed with your calm and rational mediation this morning (night where you are)… good work… 🙂

March 25th, 2008, 6:10 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex, habibna

You are missing your calling in life (or only PARTIALLY fulfilling it online).

You need to be at the negotiation table, man.

Half a day with you, and Bashar and Bibi would be smiling and joiking and passing each other the sugar and cream.

😉

March 25th, 2008, 11:23 am

 

Shai said:

QN,

Ditto on your suggestion that Alex is missing his calling… But don’t worry, this time 18 months from now, Bashar and Bibi may still be doing what you suggested. Better than cursing and crying while passing each other missiles, no?

March 25th, 2008, 2:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
And why would QN be happy about that fantasy scenario? It would mean the West had sold Lebanon to Syria and Hizballah. It is the last thing QN wants to see.

But don’t let me stop you from voting for Bibi.

March 25th, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

Shai said:

Simohurrta,

I want to ask you for something that you’re probably not expecting. To make peace with ME. If Alex says that you’re a nice person, then I believe him, even if I couldn’t see it. If we both want peace, and if we’re both dedicated to achieving it, and if we both believe each other’s sincerity (and I truly hope you do), then there really should be nothing that stands between us. Our disagreements over how things should be said, or even what should be said at this point in time, or later on, can and should be discussed in a civil way (which I appreciate you’ve been trying to do, again, even if I didn’t see it that way). And, worse is, we simply will agree to disagree. But I want you to please try to believe a few things about me:

1. I am very much aware of the terrible suffering Israel has and still does cause upon millions of Palestinians. And I am very much against its continuation. I want it to stop. I want our Apartheid-style treatment and occupation of the Palestinians to end. I want the Palestinians to enjoy the exact same freedoms you and I do. They deserve it, no less than anyone in this region, perhaps much more. The refugee problem also must be solved, for Palestinians living in refugee camps all throughout our region.

2. I am keenly aware of the fact that Israelis have been using the Holocaust and antisemitism as “excuses” for far too long, to the suffering of others around us. Although nearly 95% of my family was gassed to death, then burnt to ashes, courtesy of Nazi Germany, I am tired of hearing the Holocaust as our excuse (“we will never again go as sheep to the slaughterhouse…”) Israelis are far safer than any Jews have ever been in our history. It’s time we stop using the “victim” excuses. The real victims ARE the Palestinians, not the Jews that live in their towns and villages today.

3. I have always believed that Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza were hijacking my nation’s safety and my children’s future. I myself have been on patrols inside Gaza, a bit after the First Intifada, and have seen up close our Apartheid-style behavior, all for the protection of a mere few thousand settlers my governments (from Left to Right) have sent to occupy a few hilltops, for some idiotic “strategic” purposes. I’ve seen how our soldiers have dehumanized the Palestinians in order to provide their conscience the justification needed to do their job. I know what it was, and is like, and I am ashamed of it. I want it to end.

4. I truly believe that we need to reach a better future by going one step at a time. When I say that justice cannot prevail right now, I don’t mean that it shouldn’t. I truly hope that in my lifetime and yours, we will see a UME (United Middle East), where citizens of all nations can live and work anywhere they choose, without visas, without borders. Jews and Arabs have a long history, and we are much more alike than not, though many on both sides do not realize this. It takes knowing both peoples well to understand this. I want to see the day that a Jew is unafraid of an Arab, and an Arab is not oppressed by a Jew. I want to see the day where reconciliation and forgiveness can happen, though I realize that much has to be done, most of it on our side, before this can become a reality.

5. Seeing how our current leadership is impotent, and a true puppet of the U.S. administration (or its puppet-master, as you might call it), I recognize that change is unlikely to occur now. My hope, is that with a new U.S. administration in Washington, one that is more open to embracing nations in the region, rather than isolating them, that a new leadership can also be formed here in Israel. I’m doing a lot also outside of cyberspace, to try to locate this potential leadership now, and to influence decision makers into accepting a reality they do not know. Like Ford Prefect said in response to AIG, about what he’s doing and telling his fellow Syrians, I too am trying to do the same here in Israel. The good news is, that we are seeing progress, though of course it is far too slow for those who are suffering in the meantime. With good will on the Arab side, and with people dedicated to peace in our region and elsewhere (including this forum), we are able to show Israelis who haven’t spent even 5 minutes in their lifetime talking to an Arab, the “other side” of Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, and others around us. If we keep at it, we WILL make changes, and we WILL get through to the right people.

Simo, I want to end by saying that I apologize for anything that seemed a personal attack on either you or, of course, your country. Our exchanges did reach a very personal chord, and I did take things hard. I am open, however, to turning a new chapter with you (and with Wizart), and to starting over again. Please let’s try to respect one another, to be open to one another, to believe each other’s good intentions, and to help reach our common goals. After all, without this forum, we would never be able to know one another, communicate our thoughts and concerns, and this blessed opportunity should be taken maximum advantage of, while it exists.

Shai.

March 25th, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You raise important points and, I must admit, I don’t know how they will all develop. But one thing is clear to me – that when someone has something to lose, they tend to “behave” much more than when they don’t. If the U.S. and moderate Arab states continue to isolate Syria, Bashar’s tendencies to court Iran, HA, and Hamas will continue and grow. Syria cannot afford to have an anti-Syria Lebanon, certainly not when everyone else is against her. But if Syria has good relations with the U.S. and Europe, is helping to stabilize Iraq, has made peace with Israel and is gradually receiving control and sovereignty of the Golan, and is helping Israel solve its conflict with the Palestinians, I cannot see why Bashar would not “behave” also in Lebanon. When asked about how to deal with nations, James Baker always used to say “with sticks and carrots”. In his recent Report, he himself advocated talking with, not isolating the same Syrian regime that is trying to maintain control in Lebanon. I don’t subscribe to the theory that interprets Baker’s policy as “real sticks and potential carrots”, but instead I believe in “potential sticks and real carrots”. Isolating and threatening Syria will only lead to further tension, violence, and potentially war. Engaging Syria, and treating her concerns, are a far better investment in the quest for peace.

March 25th, 2008, 3:47 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

SimoHurrrrrrta,

You’re not only Wizart’s hero, you’re also fast becoming mine. Your rationale and choice of wording is the warmth that children go to sleep at night with. I wish I had the self-control that you do – it’s truly admirable. Well, here’s one last bit of “free advice” – why don’t you take your wisdom, and stick it where your Finnish sun don’t shine! You’re damn straight I take your words personally, because you don’t know HOW to discuss, you only know how to spew hatred, more hatred, and when that’s done, a little more. What good have you ever done for anyone, in your miserable little shell of a hateful life? You think you’re some model Finn? You couldn’t be HUCKLEBERRY Finn! You’re an embarrassment to any good natured humans, not only Nordic ones.

Shai it was you who started the personal insults not me. Read carefully what you wrote. This latest impulsive burst only shows what kind of person you are in the end. Have I ever used equal language? Not even AIG or Akbar have achieved such a burst of personal insults, even we have disagreed several times. I have discussed with numerous Israelis / Jews on different “forums” and naturally have had different views, but never have I encountered such filthy text I read above. The surprise is that it comes from the Israeli self declared “peace man”. Obviously the good “dinner” created to much gas which had to come out in the way the quote describes.

I have mostly brought up the following realities
1) Israel is not the victim in Middle East
2) Israel is an expansive country with an agressive militarist policy
3) Israel has very powerful large fundamental religious groups who are at least as dangerous as some Islamic militants
4) Israel’s nuclear armament is not only a threat for Arab countries, it is also for Europe.
5) Israel doesn’t fit in the category of western democracies
6) Israel’s human rights violations are “superior” in the category of so called western democracies, to which Israel claims to belong.
etc.

In the Middle East conflicts it is equally important to follow the Israeli side as “the bad Arab dictators, militias and non democracy”. Israel has as much “problems” as the Arab side.

I certainly would like to say something positive about Israel “in general”, but the difficulty in doing that is, that in the military, political, religious extremism, human rights etc aspects events are getting from bad to worse. Naturally there are in Israel different views, peaceful people, beautiful landscape, high technology, good food etc like there are in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. But in this forum we speak mostly about countries “in general” and how they as entities behave in politics and militarily. If I write that USA is torturing people in Iraq concentration camps, naturally I mean the country’s military machine and administration. Not all the people of USA.

Well one thing I can say positive about Israel. They have nice colours in their flag. The same as my country. But I must say it was lucky that Iraq did not get those colours in their flag that USA (meaning Bush administration naturally) designed for them without an order from the Iraqis. 🙂

I have no reason to “speak” to a such less admirable character like Shai. But then I want Shai promise not to continue those frequent personal insults against me he spreads when he discusses with others, like Wizard, who might have some same opinions as I and refer to what I said.

PS.
Shai brought up that mobile phone issue linking it to me. I only expressed my view what he can do with the phone. If Shai would be a wise person he would on the first hand not write such insulting comments about mobile phones which have nothing to do with to core issues. Have I expressed “views” where Shai should stuck the (hitech) oranges Israel is selling to Finland. Well I am no Shai and I have not done it.

March 25th, 2008, 5:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
But Syria has a lot to lose if it doesn’t behave well. It will lose investments and economic opportunities. Now is the best time to pressure Syria to act its size and stop destabilizing its neighbors. It is isolated in the Arab world. In the past carrots have not worked with Syria. Just check how the Turks were able to get Syria to stop supporting the PKK. What worked is a threat of war.

Unless you can make an argument using concrete historical examples, your point of view is wishful thinking. Carrots do not work with Syria. You say Baker worked with Syria? He gave them Lebanon on a platter. Did it stop them from supporting Hizballah and Hamas? Did it help stabilize the region?

Shai, if you want to convince, you have to be concrete. All I hear from you is “I think this” or “I think that” but without any fact on the ground supporting your thesis.

March 25th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

Alex said:

SimoHurtta, Wizart, Shai, Naji,

From my perspective, I think I can see what motivates each one of you. It helps that I communicated by email with some of you.

Alright … Let’s try to look at the different components of your disagreements or heated discussions:

1) Seeking just solution vs seeking practical solution:

Shai believes that the only solution that Israelis will ever tolerate (regardless of how just it is) is the one based on land for peace … “land” being defined by UN resolutions asking Israel to give back the lands it occupied in 1967. Some serious disagreements regarding splitting east Jerusalem to be expected.

Do you (Simo, Wizart or Naji) believe that a one-state solution IS practical? … that there is a way Israelis will either be convinced to accept it or be forced to accept it without deciding to resist or without being able to resist international pressure, or military pressure? .. or do you believe that the most achievable solution is indeed the one based based on 1967 borders with two states.

2) Now or later:

Shai (and I) want a solution soon. Shai wants to work on it now. I want to work on it next year when there is a differnet (and hopefully better) administration in Washington.

Do you (Simo, Naji, and Wiz) support a settlement now (this, or next year), or are you calling for the Arabs to wait 10 or 20 years until Israel gets weaker and more threatened and more boycotted …

3) Personal Issues: Trusting Israelis who talk peace (like Shai).

Shai I think you are being unfairly blamed for other Israeli “moderates” who deserve to be not trusted. Prime minsiter Olmert and all previous Israeli leaders often talked about giving the Palestinians back their lands, while at the same time ordering the construction of many settlements. They tell Syria not to worry, then they attack the next week, they talk peace with Syria (1999) but walk away when an agreement is reached …

By now, Syrians (including me) are much less enthusiastic when we hear “moderation” from Israel … it never led to anything at the end even when a Clinton or Bush Sr. was in the White House.

But Naji, Simo, and Wizart: Shai and Alon ARE working hard towards peace with Syria. It is really not right to continue criticizing Shai for Israeli politicians’ tricky peaceful signals. Shai is not a politicians who is tricking the Syrian government. The Syrian government is not influencable anyway, Syria decided to pursue peace in 1991 no matter what comes out of Israel… Syria is always expecting a possibble surprise attack from Israel even if they are on a table discussing peace with the Israeli prime minister.

So, there is no reason to worry that Shai and Alon are somehow tricking the gullible Syrian government while Israel prepares for war. Nobody in Israel or Syria is gullible.

4) Personal issues: wondering if those who criticize Israel consistently and/or call for a one state solution are antisemitic

Here is where Shai initially made a mistake and assumed that SimoHurrta (and later, Wizart) hate Jews (or hate Israelis). But from Shai’s wonderful comment above, I hope this misunderstanding is behind us.

Shai was wondering why Wizart and SimoHurrta are always critical of Israel. I explained that Akbar Palace is also always critical of the Arabs, and that Bachmann and few others are always critical of the Syrian regime… and president Bush and Chirac, and the editor of Asharq Alawsat, and Jumblatt, and Peres, and Khaddam, and the Muslim brotherhood are always critical of the Syrian regime …

March 25th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

My last comment to you was not disrespectful, it was a sincere and hopeful attempt to put aside our hateful comments towards one another, and to turn a new chapter. I gather, from your comments above, that you are not interested. That’s fine, I took that into consideration, and of course this is your right. But please know that disrespectful comments are not something that I can decide whether I’ve said them or not, it’s a subjective feeling, and only the receiving end can decide if they were, or weren’t. I can now continue this “who started the insults” charade, and point to endless disrespectful and hurtful comments you made towards me, but this exercise will lead us nowhere, so I won’t.

If you are not interested in engaging me, in a different way as I suggested we both do, then that’s ok. I will promise not to engage you as well, and hopefully neither one of us will bother the other again. I really can’t imagine more that I can do or say. By the way, saying the things I did above (my “reaching out” to you), was not easy for me. In fact, it was very hard. I’m not sure many in my shoes could have said it. But I thought it was important, to make clear to you and others here, what I believed in.

I wish you luck, nonetheless.

Shai.

March 25th, 2008, 6:24 pm

 

norman said:

With the history of the Jewish people and the persecution that they faced during the midle ages and during the Holocaust , they need to have a sanctuary that they can run to if they get persecuted again , Yes having one country with equal rights for all is very exciting but do not think that it is doable now .

March 25th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

You’re right, but still, I claim that by treating Arab-Israelis as true equals, we are helping cure those terrible wounds. I am a proud and free Jew, when I treat others around me the same way I wanted to be treated for 2000 years. That goes for the way I treat the Arab-Israelis, the Palestinians, and our neighbors.

March 25th, 2008, 7:34 pm

 

norman said:

Shai , That is why i said now as with time the other Israelites beside you will feel comfortable enough to treat the Palestinians as equal , and at that time peace will be real, I say ,

Devide it to unite it .

One of my Jewish freinds told me that the biggest mistake Israel made was not to have integration in schools and housing.

What do you think?.

March 25th, 2008, 7:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Your friend is right. Although a lot of natural integration (marriage, etc.) has taken place, there are still many Ashkenazi Jews who view Spharadi Jews as “somewhat less” than them. It is sad, because reality is such that these two types of Jews were separated for almost 2000 years, and developed in very different cultures and circumstances. Naturally, they would be different. But just as you have racism in the U.S. (less so in Europe, but it’s growing), so too we have it in Israel. Once we have quiet in this region of the world, and peace, Israelis will need to do some serious “soul searching”, and figure out how and why we’ve acted the way we have for so many decades.

March 25th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

wizart said:

Dear Alex,

Thank you for your revealing questions and moderating efforts.

My real interest is anchored in helping bridge the gap between sixty years of diplomatic words advocating for peace and the little real peace policies we see in the stifled and occupied territories.

I find it essentially important to prevent the AIGs of the world and their teammate Israeli activists from turning this blog into another Israeli propaganda tool to justify their country’s continuous unspeakable human rights violations even while they spread various “advice” on “democracy” and/or “public diplomacy.”

They even dare to turn off and distract real supporters and peace activists from around the world not only Finland, Norway or Sweden who have long called for Israel to change its humiliating apartheid practices. I don’t think anyone disagrees this international call to stop the repeated atrocities is urgent now and not negotiable.

I would expel anyone who dare to launch vicious personal attacks against objective 3rd parties who have the courage to share their assessment of the conflict in humanitarian terms. Many insecure Israelis disguised as peace seekers discredit, intimidate and insult those calling for more responsible policies inside Israel.

Unfortunately, it’s not my blog to expel anyone! Fortunately, I also don’t have personal bad feelings about anyone. Disciplined action, love and equal justice for all has been my guiding principle here and thanks again for your continuing fight for real peace and justice along with everyone else who share the same values.

Peace.

March 26th, 2008, 11:32 am

 

wizart said:

Alex,

As far as the other points you brought up recently about the good cop/bad cop gambit, I also feel there’s a new meaning for it in our regional conflicts with Israel: bad cop/worse cop 🙂 (i.e: Labor/ Likud, Democrats/ Republicans, Cons/ Neocons, America/Israel, Shai/AIG, Syria/ Hizbulla as some would quickly argue), good is relative as you know and there are good people everywhere.

However, if we cause third parties from neutral nations like Finland and other voices of consciousness and world class integrity standards to be eliminated from our debates thru intimidation or plane disrespect, then we will be left as we usual are with bad, worse and perhaps evil cops to play with or to have us bid against each other in an increasingly downward cycle that makes real peace efforts go in vein. The safer the environment for constructive feedback the more people speak up and the more fruitful the debate. I feel assured that we both and many others appreciate that here.

As for the one state solution I think it’s difficult and the challenge should be tackled now or as soon as possible. If Israelis feel they need to “divide before they can unite territory” with Palestinians as Norman and Shai observed recently, perhaps the Arabs should be divided before they can be united at the summit next week?! South Africa was not divided into two states before it united within itself. I know people are quick to point out Israel is no South Africa. For me that’s just an excuse. People can and should be given an opportunity to integrate into one viable country just like the two different sectors of jews should integrate more.

Israel’s policy towards the Arabs seems to have been more like divide and concur with obvious footprints from Lebanon to Iraq thanks to its far reaching resources, tools and proxies.

March 26th, 2008, 2:56 pm

 

Alex said:

Wizart

Thanks for explaining your position.

As I said earlier, i fully share your lack of trust in Israeli politicians, hardline or “moderate” … they all demonstrated in reality that they are not interested in peace, regardless of degree of moderation in their public statements.
And I agreed that Shai misread Simo’s feelings. It is easy to stereotype .. in this case, classifying Simo as an anti-semite. The funny “race” comment did not help of course. Only AIG and Simo remember the background of why Simo had to use “race”

BUT .. I very much disagree with you about Shai’s role here, and elsewhere. There is no reason to believe he does not have the best intentions. As I explained, there is not much one gains on this bog from “dividing” any group … so, I would not think there is any reason to suspect that Shai is here to divide.

His last comment to SH was anything but Israeli propaganda. Here it is again:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=638#comment-128591

From the type of material you are often posting here, I can assume that in real life you don’t like to accuse anyone of any serious wrongdoing without KNOWING that he is guilty. I hope you remember the same guideline when you judge people on this blog.

Peace : )

March 26th, 2008, 4:24 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I second Alex’s take.

You’re not going to get a more thoughtful, intelligent, and sincere commentator on the Israeli side, than Shai.

Build bridges, don’t burn them.

March 26th, 2008, 4:55 pm

 

wizart said:

Alex,

I thought I answred your questions not just explained my position.

As you might have noticed earlier I, like many others here, have high standards for dialogue. I don’t want us to beat a dead cat here but anyone who says to someone else on this blog the following:

“Well, here’s one last bit of “free advice” – why don’t you take your wisdom, and stick it where your Finnish sun don’t shine! ”

..deserves the judgment I made if any and I have observed and reported my views as asked only after I read all subsequent posts.

I mostly choose to forgive as you might have guessed correctly.

However, many others don’t have to do that and why should they?

Cheers!

March 26th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

wizart said:

QN,

I’m all for building bridges. Always have and always will.

However, I’m also big on defending them.

Otherwise, why bother to build them?

March 26th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

Naji said:

Alex,
You reminded the Wiz that this a BLOG and, I think, it would also help Shai to remember that this is a BLOG and not a negotiating table at some peace conference. Even those who have a public role to play in these matters, discuss and comment here anonymously using pseudonyms so as to facilitate the free exchange of ideas… the only requirement for that being intellectual honesty, I believe. On this blog, it also seems that a civil and polite framework for discourse is implemented to encourage such a free exchange… this has attracted many, and excluded many, but these are the rules…, I think…!?

March 26th, 2008, 6:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Let me agree with Alex and QN on this. If you and Sim can’t find common ground with Shai, you will not find common ground with 99.9% of the Jews living in Israel.

In fact, I am quite sure you won’t find common ground with Shai because he is a proud Jew and sees himself as part of the Jewish Nation. You and Sim however are not even willing to accept the notion that the Jewish Nation exists. That is an impossible divide to bridge.

March 26th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Alex

I explained time after time why I used the word race in brackets. The problem is that I can’t figure out a kosher word which I could use for Jews and Israeli Jews. If I use the word Jew, I am at once attacked, by anti-Semitist blames and rhetoric like all Jews are not like “that”. If I use circumlocutions i am blamed for racism.

As you undoubtedly remember I used the word race in brackets. I suppose you understand what using brackets around a word means. It means that the writer doesn’t exactly mean the normal meaning of the word. There is a meaning difference between sentences
Syria is a beautiful country.
Syria is a “beautiful” country.

Certainly you Alex understand what would became of conversation if somebody would take such over-sensitive approach with words Arab, Kurd, Muslim, Christian, Syrian, Finn etc. The difficulty is that in these kind of discussions we all use all time words like Arab / Arabs, Syria / Syrian, Israel / Israeli, USA / Americans etc to describe the actions of the country. Everybody uses them. IGs have no problem in writing that Germans killed their family or Nazi Germany murdered most of their relatives. Of course we all including IGs know that 99.999 percent of Germans living that time and 99.9999999 percent of Germans living to day had nothing to do with that. So is using the word German and Germany in that context right? Well it is.

Lets not forget that comment
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=638#comment-128497
was made before comment
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=638#comment-128591

No thoughtful, intelligent and sincere commentator makes such bursts as comment 128497 was. The comment 128591 is sincere (I suppose) but it doesn’t wipe out comment 128497. And comment number
128497 was not the first. There were several others though less severe before that.

Lets be clear, the IGs do not use the method of banning the J word and blurring the discussion about Israel for “fun”. It a method for controlling the discussion. The one on defence turns on attack with a simple move. After a while we have forgotten the real start of discussion for example Apartheid Israel or religious extremism in Israel by X people and we are stuck in an endless discussion are “you” a racist or anti-Semitist. Clever tactics, I must admit, and widely used in more serious surroundings for example how with Carters comments about the problem or with the Mearsheimer & Walt study discussion was/is re-directed.

March 26th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

Naji said:

Simo is my hero too…!
… 😉

March 26th, 2008, 6:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Let it be said, for the record, that there is only one other person on this entire forum, to whom I have ever suggested to go shove his wisdom “you know where”, and that was AIG! (To those joining the program only now – AIG is a fellow Israeli!!!) I would not have taken any of the comments of either AIG or Simohurtta personally, and I would not have responded in such a way, had I not received disrespectful and hurtful treatment right from the start. I believe most commentators here that have engaged me can vouch for the fact that I’m not exactly the rudest Israeli they’ve ever met. But I must also admit, that Simohurtta was, and still is, absolutely the rudest European I’ve ever met. Forget the actual beliefs (which by the way I am not even arguing, if he cared to actually engage me, he may find I agree with 90% of his theses), simply the way he responded to me, from the very first comment on, was rude, was disrespectful, and was not going to fit well with me. Like I said before, I can take almost any criticism of Israel, of Jews, even of me, as long as it is respectful. Someone who is so disrespectful, should not expect me to be “nice and polite” back. I was fed up with Simohurtta when I made those comments, and wanted him to know it. We all have our breaking points – we are all human beings. I believe that I at least demonstrated my sincere apology to Simohurtta in my last comment to him, as you mentioned yourself, and in fact even opened the possibility to turn a new chapter. His response was, as I expected, no. I don’t think anyone in my shoes, who would have received the kind of “treatment” I did from Simohurtta right from day one, could have done more. I tried, and again failed. I refuse to engage in “who done it first” charades, as that is more befitting my two little girls, than two adult bloggers.

March 26th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Alex said:

Naji,

Simo is my hero too.

But Shai is my hero too.

Because they are both extremely nice people who believe so strongly in their respective honorable causes.

Simo … yesterday Shai wrote to me that by now he understands the reason behind your use of that first “funny race” expression that started the whole thing. He will not be upset at you if you criticize anything that you need to criticize about Israeli policies and actions.

In return I hope you and Wizart can please not insinuate things about his motives and his intentions.

Naji,

you are right that this is not a place for negotiating peace between Syria and Israel. I told Shai that he is welcome to express more confrontational opinions if he needs to occasionally. It would be good to engage with everyone very openly… even if he finds out that it is very difficult to agree at the end with some of us.

I will now go back to the original topic of this post: the PCP
(next comment)

March 26th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Naji said:

Shai said:

“We all have our breaking points – we are all human beings. I believe that I at least demonstrated my sincere apology to Simohurtta in my last comment to him, as you mentioned yourself, and in fact even opened the possibility to turn a new chapter.”

Now I am with Shai… He seems to be trying, at least…!

March 26th, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Boaz,

Many thanks for your clarifications about the nature of the PEace canal.

And please forgive me for not answering yet. I have not seen your comment until you sent it to me by email yesterday.

1) you convinced me that the peace canal is more economically attractive option compared to setting up water desalination plants.

Earlier I was thinking about the option of using wave power to generate the necessary energy … did you consider the cost of relying on wave power? is it feasible in our Mediterranean case?

http://www.reuk.co.uk/CETO-Wave-Energy-and-Desalination.htm

Of course there is also the possibility (in 20 years?) to rely on fusion.

http://www.ieee.org/organizations/pubs/newsletters/npss/0303/doe.html

But again, for now, the Peace canal is the better option.

2) I am still very much not attracted to the Tank barrier option.

– “Temporary” thick Concrete barriers are not the type you can easily dismantle in the future.

-The Syrians I spoke to all found it unacceptable. One suggested that Israel is welcome to build any tanks barrier it sees necessary, but on its own territories.

– Syria’s army is more defensive in nature. Syria’s remaining tanks are mostly the ancient types T62 and T72’s … when was the last time we heard a military expert talk about Syria’s tanks threat?

– The Barrier really does not work. Even if many Israelis found it reassuring to imagine any added degree of security from such a barrier. If you or other peace activists tried to use the Tanks barrier as a tool to reassure the skeptical Israelis, you might be successful… at first. But I can easily imagine many Israeli experts who are against peace with Syria will easily come up with counter arguments that can easily demonstrate that this barrier will not be very useful for Israel. The result will be that you might sound like you were fooling your own peole into feeling secure.

By the way, if the defense line against Egypt in 1973 is not a good example, then a closer example could be the failed André Maginot line

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginot_Line

“The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. However, it was an ineffective strategic gambit, as the Germans eventually flanked the line, and proceeded unobstructed.”

March 26th, 2008, 7:38 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

If I am able to accept responsibility for the crimes my nation has and is causing upon the Palestinians, for almost half a century, how can I not find the will and strength to apologize to a Finn who is apparently for peace? I wish I could take “anything” in this forum, to hear any criticism, and in any fashion given. But I can’t, and at times I won’t. When my response is disrespectful, I will apologize. But I would have liked to see the same happen from the other side. It cannot be, that we’re only willing to listen to someone, if he says what we agree with, but not what we don’t. I too can present endless excuses for my behavior, and blame the other side for my wrongful and disrespectful acts, but that shows a lack of sensitivity and understanding that emotions are a subjective thing. If Simohurtta felt that I disrespected him, then I disrespected him, regardless of whether I thought otherwise. And the same goes for how I felt. I took his comments very personally, and decided not to take them any more, even at the price of disrespecting him in the process. For that, I apologized. I cannot do any more. I’m sorry.

March 26th, 2008, 7:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I’m getting into confrontational mood now, as you suggested!… 🙂

I too am against the tank barrier, but, Boaz correctly states that we need to allay the fears of also many “irrational” Israelis (just like Bashar may need to one day, with similar Syrians). The reason we need to convince these Israelis is simple – so that they’ll vote for the PM that’ll deliver peace with Syria or, better yet, that they’ll vote “for” in a national referendum that may be brought forth before we could withdraw from the Golan. Now while you may be right, that tank barriers of whatever form are an illusion of security (especially when Syria’s offensive strategic capabilities lie mostly in their arsenal of short, medium, and long range missiles), they may nonetheless help in the convincing part. But, let’s move forward, by asking you, what other suggestions could you come up with, that would allay such “irrational” fears of a possible Syrian “surprise” attack? Are there other options? In the past, the idea of “checking stations” installed throughout the Golan, and on either side of it, was brought up. The idea being visual and perhaps other verification methods of troop movement, etc. (for both sides, not just Israel). In order to be convincing, much more detail would have to be presented and, since these are probably sensitive issues, they quite likely will not be available to the general public, but only to the defense administrations in Syria and Israel. So what else, if anything, can you suggest?

March 26th, 2008, 8:11 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

In general, I suggest being honest with both the Syrian people and the Israeli people. Hardliners on both sides are not necessarily stupid (some are). Before any argument is used, one needs to test it with AIG types… if t fails, then it is not good enough.

Here is what I would tell Israeli skeptics:

1) Official Syria respects agreements is signs. UN resolution 1559 did not even call on Syria by name to withdraw from Lebanon. But Syria withdrew promptly.

The 1974 ceasefire on the Golan Heights still holds.

2) Your nuclear weapons are more than enough to deter any heroic dreams of liberating Palestine by force, on the part of any Syrian leader who is minimally intelligent.

3) You have all the Syrian satellite images, videos, intelligence, and acoustic signals to analyze. You can see everything. There can not be a surprise attack anymore.

4) Syria will demand reciprocal measures from your side. It is possible to ask for that extra 1% of reassurance from the Syrians, but you should be prepared to give them back the same in that case.

Otherwise, you are not ready for peace with Syria and you need to first learn about the real nature of the Syrian people without the negative spin of the past few years.

Here is an example of what Syrians are really like with their visitors from “enemy” states

This young American reporter started her trip to Syria with this suspicion:

“I have to admit that before I came to Syria, I was afraid of the place. All I knew about it was what I had read beneath newspaper headlines: Terrorist cells. Hezbollah. Car bombs. Unsanctioned nuclear power sites. Mysterious Israeli bombings in the middle the night. The attack on the U.S. Embassy with two truckloads of explosives.

It all sounded terrifying.”

And when she left Syria she wrote:

“As always, it’s the people

Have I mentioned the doughnuts in Syria? Think: Krispy Cream dipped in glazed chocolate, all wrapped in kisses from the gods of delicious, grease-soaked foods. I’ve been here for a week now, and I think I’ve eaten twelve.

Getting on the airplane today was bittersweet. I’m not going to miss the freezing cold desert air, or the fact that Syrian bus drivers can’t drive in the snow, or the bloody goat carcasses that swing into the street in the crowded markets when you pass by.

But I am going to miss the people I’ve met here. Abir and her beautiful, rambunctious children. Omar, his wife and his gorgeous new baby boy, Adam. Mohammad, who treated me with such kindness. Besim and the other Omar and all the rest.

I’d like to thank all of them, from the bottom of my heart, for treating this wandering American girl with the respect and kindness I only hope I’d have the dignity and patience to offer them in return, had they wandered into my town, confused and lost and desperately in need of sweet tea and doughnuts.”

March 26th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I appreciate your belief that people on either side of the fence aren’t stupid, and for the most part I agree. But “irrational” doesn’t necessarily mean stupid. It means, in this particular case, thinking in ways often based on emotion than on some “objective” rationale. Just like many Israelis are still using the Holocaust as an excuse for a lot of our wrongdoings, so do many still believe that Syria is capable of carrying out a surprise-attack. I think this is ridiculous, but I can tell you that we’re not talking about 5-10% of the people, we’re talking about many many more. And of course, their “irrationality” is based on the emotional scars they still carry from 1973. They will not be so easily convinced that because Syria hasn’t attacked since 1974, and because some young American reporter thinks Syria is great, and because (supposedly) Israel has enough nukes to send us all back to the stone age, that all this will prevent Syria from surprising us one early morning, once it retrieves control of the Golan. Again, we’re talking about allaying emotional fears.

Of course Syria will demand reciprocal measures and guarantees, and I cannot imagine why Israel would refuse them. In essence, there will be no peace, unless both nations do what is required, and show an understanding of each other’s fears and concerns. But in Israel at least, there’s still the issue of changing public opinion, and of convincing probably some 30% of the voters who are either numb, or plain hopeless, to move back to their views during the Rabin years. Only then will we have a majority for giving back the golan.

By the way, I disagree with you about having to pass the AIG-test first. In many ways, I think AIG is much more open to quickly changing his mind than most anti-peace Israelis are. I believe he’s admitted in one of our discussions that if Bashar would suddenly surprise us all, and show up in Jerusalem, he’s willing to reconsider his views of the Syrian leader. Remember my whole ranting on and on about Bashar needing to show absolute courage and take the leadership role here, and show up to speak to all Israelis (not just Knesset)? I haven’t retracted from this “wishful thinking” yet. If Olmert would almost certainly have responded with a “thanks-but-no-thanks” a year ago, while still very much under Bush’s control, I’m not sure he would react the same way, if Bashar asked for it in 4 months time. But, let’s not get into this again… maybe it really is wishful thinking…

March 26th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

Naji said:

If Syria, or Israel, can manage to get an Obama in charge, he would try to bypass the the otherside’s government and politicians and address its people directly, and often…! Nassrallah does… but to a somewhat different effect…!

March 26th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

Precisely! That’s why Nasrallah is so good at what he does. And that’s why I suggested that Olmert should speak directly to the Palestinian people, not to Abu Mazen, and that’s why I thought Bashar should find the way to talk to all Israelis, not to our leaders (who are not interested in talking to him). Especially in Israel, where elections are still conducted in democratic fashion, we must reach the hearts and minds of every citizen. They will make the difference in the end, not our impotent leadership.

March 26th, 2008, 9:32 pm

 

Naji said:

There we go… now we are getting somewhere…! 🙂
But the reason that people, “yours” or “ours”, listen to Nassrallah is because he has established some kind of credibility with them…! Forget about Olmert, but do you think that your Bibi, or our Bibo, has, or can achieve, such a credibility…??!

March 26th, 2008, 9:39 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

I don’t want to voice my opinion of Bibi here, because if/when he’s elected as our next PM, I’ll have to sit here and tell you why you should trust him, and make peace with us. At the end of the day, ALL our politicians have a terrible reputation, are or have been under investigation for corruption, mishandling of government funds, improper use of donations, you name it. Funny that one day I may have to vote for one of them to lead my nation, yet I wouldn’t trust any of them to babysit my two girls… 🙂 Having said all that, I think what matters most to the future of our region, is what leader can deliver. Why am I calling for the immediate restart of talks with Syria? Because I believe that Bashar can deliver. Why am I calling for the immediate cessation of formal talks with Mahmoud Abbas? Because at this moment in time, unfortunately, I believe he cannot deliver. Historically in Israel, leaders on the Left, the same ones that preached for peace with our Arab neighbors, have had far greater difficulties delivering, because the entire Right is against them, and normally at least some on the Left as well. The Right, on the other hand (see Begin, Sharon, and even Netanyahu), always know that most of the Left will support them in any peace initiative, so they can talk and scream anti-peace, anti-Syria, anti-Arafat, until they’re blue in their faces, and more importantly, until they get enough votes to be PM, and then… lo and behold, they not only shake the hands of the terrorist Araft, they even kiss him! And they return land, and they withdraw, and they order the IDF out, and they remove by force Jewish settlers. So yes, Bibi, if elected, may well be in a position to deliver, which means that I’ll be trying to convince you to trust him just enough to make peace. But, I’ll do that, only if he wins.

March 26th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Let it be said, for the record, that there is only one other person on this entire forum, to whom I have ever suggested to go shove his wisdom “you know where”, and that was AIG! (To those joining the program only now – AIG is a fellow Israeli!!!)

If I remember correctly nobody before on this blog’s comments has used the “stick you know where” aphorism even people disagree frequently and are “stressed”. For the record Shai admits having done it twice. Here is a quote what Shai said addressed to me.

Well, here’s one last bit of “free advice” – why don’t you take your wisdom, and stick it where your Finnish sun don’t shine!

Can I take such a person seriously?

I suppose from what Shai originally got upset with me was that I called his comments idiotic in his previous comment
* linking the bombing of Osirak reactor and Saddam’s Kurd gassing. Osirak was small research reactor, no atomic weapon factory and the gassing of Kurds happened years later (still unclear was it done by Iran or Iraq).
* his comment how Israel is not a threat against Europe.
Naturally Israel is a military threat for Europe directly and indirectly. Israel doesn’t keep the hundreds of nukes for no reason. And that reason is certainly not only keeping the Arab masses “out”.

From my point of view if “the other side” is free to express their “harsh” views about events in Arab countries etc why on earth can’t be Israel and its policy be discussed. There is very little “nice” to be said in a soft tone about Israel’s policy against Palestinians, Arabs and Iranians or Israel’s insane military buildup and aggressive policy. In a different time I would have certainly criticized with harsh words Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union.

The difference between me and Shai is that Shai has been working as a “concentration camp” guard, I have not. The fact that Shai and I agree about the bad treatment of Palestinians and many other aspects in Israeli policy doesn’t mean nothing so long the country’s policy remains unchanged. And it will not change if the world doesn’t use harsh words describing the situation as it in reality is. The world has been enough long “soft” towards Israel.

In return I hope you and Wizart can please not insinuate things about his motives and his intentions.

Sorry if I have done it. I do not know anything about Shai’s motives and intentions. Besides that he likes to discuss about food and friendship as he himself said. Sorry that I am no specialist of oriental or Jewish foods, so there is very little I can say about this dining section.

It would be wise Alex to say Shai not to “analyse” so much our others personality, motives and intentions if he doesn’t want to be himself “analysed”.

For example I didn’t reply to Shais totally unrelated comment to others about high Finnish suicide rate, which is a fact, but made only with totally disrespectful intentions. Or that mobile phone comment to which I responded much later. So let not be hypocrites and continue play that contemptible victim (in bad mode) “game”.
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=636#comment-128047
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=636#comment-128069

What is said is said. Let us now stop this discussion abut this topic (I do not mean the water topic). Let Shai keep his opinions I keep mine.

SimoHurtta
the rudest European 🙂

March 26th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

The problem in Israel that i yet to see an Israeli leader who come out and say to the Palestinian people that Israel understands their suffering ,

Killing the terrorist without taking care of the people will produce more terrorists while killing the terrorists and making the lives of the people better will discourage the people from having more terrorists ,

What do you think?.

March 26th, 2008, 10:35 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I of course agree with you. This is our sad reality, which is why I propose to talk to Syria now. It will be much easier making peace with Syria, and that will apply a very positive pressure and spirit onto the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syria can help Israelis and Palestinians work out their differences. I have no doubt of that.

March 27th, 2008, 5:23 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Norman, of course you’re right. In theory. The devil is in the details/feasibility of the execution: punish the terrorist + improve the life of the people. Do you think those who engage in the “operations” on the Palestinian side as well as the Palestinian leaders bear any responsibility in protecting the people from such an intimate intermingling with those planning and performing the “operations,” an intermingling that leaves Israel with no ability to selectively respond (in “punishment” of only the guilty or in facilitation of the lives of the people without opening itself to greater risks of attack)?

I think back to the days of the Palestinian camps in Lebanon prior to the civil war (pre-1975) when common criminals would commmit the most heinous crimes of murder and theft against Lebanese citizen and then safely hide in the Palestinian camps out of reach of the Lebanese authorities because of the Cairo accord. Beyond the strategic political calculations and the grand plans of politics, the plain reality is that it was this kind of behavior that built up to the trigger of the Lebanon civil war on 13 April 1975.

Without acknowledging such internal problems and working on addressing them arguing the case against Israel’s reactions and methods and holding it responsible for effectively being selective in the response/reward activities is – as has been so far in the US and in many other countries – a losing proposition. What has Hamas delivered so far for the ordinary Palestinian in Gaza other than suffering and destruction?

March 27th, 2008, 7:55 am

 

wizart said:

TOPOV,

The Israeli expansive policies created refugees which divided and agonized the Arabs over the years. If there was no refugees (thanks to Israel) struggling in impoverished Lebanon, there would not have been a civil war there which destroyed/killed over a hundred thousands people. Yet how often do we point to the direct cause of this civil war and leave out the indirect cause which is Israel?

What’s the future of Palestinian and Iraq refugees in Syria?
Will you point to the underlying and more accurate causes of Israel/US and sanctions or blame the latest batch of refugees for starting another civil war?

How will/should/must the Arab summit help change those policies?

Will the Saudis and Egyptians keep encouraging these policies?

Will they show up and angrily announce to the world a change of war policy in return for a change of oil policy, i.e-Oil for peace now! or will they kick back at home waiting for the next civil or uncivil war to kick in at the most economically convenient time?

March 27th, 2008, 11:58 am

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Dear Wizart, good points and good questions. I don’t have answers to the questions relating to Iraqi refugees and the Oil-for-peace paradigm (simply because I don’t know and I’m no expert). But these are good questions.

I do have a comment about how Palestinian refugees destabilized Lebanon. Regardless of the root cause – the Israeil-Palestinian conflict – the destabilization need not have happened. The Armenians were also displaced in masses and became refugees. Yet, they were not subversive to their host countries nor did they establish armed resistance and create a state-within-a-state while exploiting the intrinsic weakness of Lebanon due to its inhomogeneity. Instead, they integrated into the society, learned the local language while preserving their own culture and language, worked hard, and became, in time, superbly respected citizen who are now part of the country’s fabric and political system. By establishing a different line of “resistance” in Lebanon, the Palestinians would have had all the Lebanese citizens join in a non-violent defense of their rights and be united in their advocacy of the Palestinian cause. That’s my understanding of the “Point of View” (again!) of many Lebanese. Note that this is not necessarily in conflict with your attribution of the root cause to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the way the Palestinians organized and established their resistance in Lebanon created a second problem.

March 27th, 2008, 12:14 pm

 

wizart said:

Dear The Other Point Of View,

Thanks. I appreciate your insight into the Armenian experience.

I’m aware of their difficult struggles and admire the fact they were able to cope with their hardships in a different way. I also recognize that different constraints placed on different refugees may lead to different results. I hope the new refugees in Syria learn from the Armenian experience more ways to cope and survive.

By the way I also noticed U.S congress finally managed to pass legislation just recently condemning the harsh way Turkey treated the Armenians. Perhaps that delay may have encouraged Israel’s aggressive policies in the past since it appears to me, Turkish policies were not adequately dealt with in a timely world response.

March 27th, 2008, 1:19 pm

 

norman said:

TOPOV,

I have to say that I agree with you about the Palestinians in Lebanon , Lebanon should have never accepted a no interference policy in the camps and it should have insisted on full sovereignty on these camps , Lebanon also should have treated the Palestinians the way they treated the Armenians and should have given them the chance to work and assymilate , as you know , that did not happen,

about Israel and the Palestinians , Israel has a chance to show the people of Gaza how much it cares about their suffering and show the that living together can be more rewarding by showing good intention in the west bank , or even provide well publicised humanitarian aid , the terrorist in Gaza are feeding on people’s frustration and when people have nothing to lose they seek revenge and that is the problem in the Mideast , Revenge will bring more revenge , even the retaliation has no smart plan behind it and that should stop ,

The more you show people that you care about them the more they will care about you, and Israel can do a lot to show the Palestinians that it cares , the Palestinians have nothing to offer.

March 27th, 2008, 1:37 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai, AIG, AP, please see Norman’s comment in paragraphs 2 and 3 above. Can Israel do as he says? If no, why not, and if yes, what are they waiting for ?

March 27th, 2008, 2:08 pm

 

wizart said:

The Palestinians can offer more peace of mind once the conflict is over. However, if there’s no peace. Perhaps some Yoga might help!

The Benefits of Peace of Mind and Tranquility
By Remez Sasson

People often associate peace of mind with yogis, hermits or monks, sitting alone in a far off place, in an ashram, cave or monastery, praying or meditating all day long. The truth is that peace of mind can be attained and enjoyed in various degrees by everyone, even while leading a normal, ordinary life, with a job and family.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, says: “Inner peace (or peace of mind) is a colloquialism that refers to a state of being mentally or spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy and the opposite of being stressed or anxious.”

WordWeb Online defines this term as: “The absence of mental stress or anxiety”.

This shows the importance of peace of mind for overcoming and preventing stress and anxiety. It is actually the antidote for stress and anxiety. Making the mind quiet and calm prevents anxieties, worries, stress and fears and awaken inner strength and confidence.

Peace of mind is an inner condition, and is independent of external conditions and circumstances. Someone well trained in it, and it is a skill that can be learned, can remain calm and in control of himself and of his mind, even in the midst of problems or difficult and unpleasant situations.

Imagine how great it would be to stay calm, focused and undisturbed by circumstances or people!

Instead of getting anxious and fearful, instead of thinking negative thoughts and expecting the worse, instead of getting tense, unsatisfied and unhappy, you can choose to stay emotionally and mentally poised and unshaken. You can experience inner peace and happiness, as well as inner strength and confidence.

Peace of mind, which is inner peace, offers countless benefits. Here is a partial list:
# It strengthens the ability to concentrate.

# It improves the ability to handle efficiently the daily affairs of life.

# It grants you inner strength and inner power.

# Inner peace develops patience, tolerance and tact.

# It enables you not to be affected by what people think or say about you.

# It helps overcome and eliminate stress, anxieties and worries.

# It makes you feel relaxed and free.

# Peace of mind brings inner happiness and bliss.

# It increases self mastery and self discipline.

# It enables you not to be swayed by events, hardships and difficulties, and to maintain inner poise, clear judgement and common sense in every situation.

# It eliminates negative, futile and restless thinking.

# Helps to fall asleep easily and have a good sleep.

# It improves the ability to meditate.

# It is the gateway and requirement for enlightenment and spiritual awakening.

There are various ways and techniques to gain peace, through psychological methods, affirmations, visualization, yoga or meditation.

March 27th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

wizart said:

Group demands inquiry into deadly raid

By JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press Writer Thu Mar 27, 11:43 PM ET

JERUSALEM – An Israeli human rights group on Thursday demanded a criminal investigation into the military’s killing of four Palestinian militants earlier this month, citing witness accounts that the men were gunned down in a summary execution.
ADVERTISEMENT

Israeli troops killed the militants in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on March 12, riddling their car with bullets. One was a local Islamic Jihad commander who Israel said was involved in planning suicide bombings.

The Israeli army frequently conducts raids in the West Bank to round up wanted Palestinian gunmen. At the time of the Bethlehem raid, it described the incident as an arrest operation. The official military statement on March 12 said special forces “identified several Palestinian gunmen in a vehicle. The force fired at them and identified hitting four gunmen.” It did not say the militants fired at the Israelis.

B’Tselem said that based on the witness accounts, “the lethal operation did not have the markings of an arrest operation, and no attempt was made to arrest the suspects rather than kill them, as required by law.”

Although witnesses said the militants were armed, B’Tselem said the wanted men did not try to use their weapons, and said the shooting appeared to violate Israeli court rulings allowing the targeted killing of militants only if they cannot easily be arrested.

Israeli military officials said they were looking into the allegations.

B’Tselem released testimonies gathered from three witnesses, including relatives of the dead men. Each gave a similar account, saying the four wanted militants were ambushed while sitting in a parked car.

March 28th, 2008, 9:21 am

 

wizart said:

Violence Imperils
Iraq’s Oil Progress
Attacks in Basra
Come Amid Talks
With Western Firms
By HASSAN HAFIDH in Amman, Jordan, and JOHN D. MCKINNON in Washington
March 28, 2008

The resurgent violence in Iraq is threatening nascent efforts to enlist foreign companies in developing its immense oil wealth, a goal President Bush pushed Thursday as crucial to rebuilding the country.

Fighting in Iraq’s oil-rich south raged for the third straight day Thursday in Basra, the country’s oil capital, in other southern cities and in parts of Baghdad. The violence crossed over into the oil industry after a bomb detonated under a crucial export pipeline near Basra.

FIGHT FOR IRAQ

Oil officials said that could significantly curtail Iraq’s crude shipments at a time when the fighting is already interfering with production and exports. The pipeline attack sent crude-oil prices higher, with the U.S. benchmark futures contract jumping $2.32 a barrel to $108.22 in intraday trading. It settled at $107.58 a barrel, up $1.68, or 1.6%.

In a speech Thursday, Mr. Bush expressed confidence that the violence and disruptions will be only temporary. He cast the Basra offensive as a battle to overcome lawlessness. He framed the broader fight for Iraq in global economic terms, warning that defeat for the U.S. and its allies “would endanger Iraq’s oil resources and could serve as a severe disruption to the world’s economy.”

The battle for Basra marks the latest clash over Iraq’s biggest source of wealth: its oil reserves, comprising 9.5% of the world’s total, according to the BP Statistical Review, an industry bible. The Bush administration and the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are counting on oil to fund the rebuilding of the country.

Iraq’s oil is also important to world-wide markets. Unrest in Iraq and elsewhere, along with surging demand and rising oil-field expenses, have sent oil prices from $30 a barrel to more than $100 over the past four years.

In Iraq, oil also funds the other side. Across the country, Shiite and Sunni militias routinely siphon oil and petroleum products to sell on Iraq’s black market or smuggle overseas. The stolen oil reduces government revenue and gives insurgent and militia groups a ready source of income — officials peg the estimate at about $5 billion a year — helping to perpetuate Iraq’s violence. U.S. and Iraqi officials have said the smuggling problem is getting worse.

Frustrated Companies

The violence and smuggling frustrate major Western oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. In his visit last week to the Middle East, Vice President Dick Cheney held one-on-one meetings with Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders in Iraq to speed passage of a law opening Iraq’s petroleum reserves to more efficient production by global oil companies.

Last week, before the Maliki government began its offensive, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Mr. Maliki “is very keen on getting large Western corporations re-engaged in the oil and electricity sectors.” The security challenges posed by the Basra militias “have to be addressed by Iraq,” he added. That “is something that the government of Iraq very much wants to see happen to increase production further and increase electricity production as well.”

Iraq’s military declared a curfew through Sunday in Baghdad, and the U.S. State Department ordered its Green Zone personnel into reinforced safe zones amid the barrage, according to the Associated Press. Thousands of supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protested in Baghdad. Mr. Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia has charged the government with unfairly targeting it in Basra and elsewhere.

Mr. Maliki, meanwhile, promised “no retreat” in the government’s offensive against what it has called renegade militias.

Mr. Bush, in a speech to a largely military audience at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, praised Mr. Maliki’s decision to go after fellow Shiites. “This operation is going to take some time to complete, and the enemy will try to fill the TV screens with violence,” he said. “But the ultimate result will be this: terrorists and extremists in Iraq will know they have no place in a free and democratic society.”

Chaotic Aftermath

Efforts to rebuild Iraq have foundered amid the chaotic aftermath of the invasion, the insurgency, funding bottlenecks, corruption and the poor state of the country’s existing infrastructure.

In one potentially hopeful sign, Iraq in recent months returned to its prewar oil-production level of roughly 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. While considerably lower than its estimated potential of as much as six million barrels a day, the level offered a sign that reconstruction funding could strengthen.

Recently, Iraqi oil officials have said they were close to awarding as early as next month a handful of limited, technical contracts to big Western oil companies. The contracts in discussion are designed to increase production at five of the country’s prized oil fields by a total of some 500,000 barrels a day. The world consumes about 85 million barrels a day, but the supplies would be welcome in a time of a tight margin between supply and demand. The recent violence now threatens to upend those negotiations.

Critical First Step

The contracts are relatively small for companies the size of Exxon and Shell, and they don’t allow for rights to reserves or control over development. Still, executives see them as a critical first step to establishing longer-term relationships in Baghdad in a time when new reserves are increasingly hard to find globally. They see more attractive opportunities once security improves and after Iraqi politicians agree on a legal framework for foreign investment in the petroleum sector.

But oil-development legislation has been bogged down in Parliament, while Kurdish officials in Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern enclave have passed an oil law of their own and are signing deals with foreign firms without waiting for permission from Baghdad.

Hopes had been raised amid recent improvement across the country. A temporary increase in American troops, a cease-fire by a key anti-U.S. militia leader and success co-opting one-time Sunni insurgents have all been credited with curbing violence.

That hope is now fading. An Iraqi official with the South Oil Co., the state-run production company based in Basra, said Thursday that oil production and exports have slowed because of power cuts and the inability of workers to get to their work sites, all blamed on the fighting.

The official also said a major oil pipeline taking crude from Iraq’s southern fields to its two export terminals in the Persian Gulf had been bombed amid the fighting, threatening to reduce exports “heavily.”

Western executives have said they won’t send employees into Iraq until security improves markedly.

“You’ll see some limited initiatives to get a foothold in the country,” said David Kirsch of PFC Energy, a Washington-based consulting firm. “What you are not going to see though, we estimate, in the next 10 years are the conditions that allow you to do the really significant type of investments that could let Iraq hit its geologic potential of six million barrels per day.”

Mr. Kirsch estimated the latest round of fighting has knocked down production by about 800,000 barrels a day.

Shell said it is interested in helping with the development of the Kirkuk oil field in the north, discovered in 1927. BP said it is discussing the development of North and South Rumaila, Iraq’s two big fields in the south. Iraqi officials said Exxon is eyeing the development of Zubair oil field in the south. An Exxon spokesman said it “would be interested in participating” with the Iraqi government in developing resources, but added, “it would be premature to discuss any potential opportunity with Iraq.”

Chevron Corp. and France’s Total SA are negotiating over the West Qurna 1 oil field, according to Iraqi officials. A Chevron spokesman declined to comment on the negotiations, but said the company was “broadly supportive of a technical assistance program.” Total declined to comment.

Lingering Concerns

Echoing lingering concerns expressed by other oil executives over safety amid the violence, the Chevron spokesman said the company won’t enter Iraq until there is “a security situation that will allow us to put people on the ground, and at this point we’re still waiting for progress on that front.”

Those concerns have frustrated Iraqi officials. “Some of these companies are procrastinating because they fear that they may fail to meet contracts because of the security situation,” said one Iraqi official involved in the talks.

In an interview earlier this week, the Iraqi prime minister’s petroleum adviser, Thamir al-Ghadhban, said he still expects contracts to be signed in April. He estimated costs for the new developments — including fees for the Western companies — at between $400 million and $500 million for each field. Mr. Ghadhban didn’t disclose what the Western companies would stand to gain financially for their participation.

–Guy Chazan in London, Russell Gold in Austin, Texas, and Robin Moroney in Washington, D.C., contributed to this article.

March 28th, 2008, 9:43 am

 

norman said:

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Israel seeking peace talks with Syria: minister
Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:50am EDT
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli minister said on Friday that the Jewish state was trying to revive peace talks with Syria and that the price of a deal was the occupied Golan Heights.

The comments by Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer came after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated this week that Israel was willing to make peace with its Arab neighbor and hinted at behind-the-scenes talks.

“Every effort is being made to bring Syria to the negotiating table,” Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio.

“We know that sitting at the negotiating table is not to sing Hatikva (Israel’s national anthem) but to sign an agreement, and we know very well the price of this agreement.”

Asked if the price was to relinquish control of the Golan Heights, Ben-Eliezer said: “Exactly.”

Israel captured the Golan, a strategic plateau, from neighboring Syria during the 1967 Middle East War and annexed it in 1981 in a move that has not been internationally recognized.

Peace talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000 over the extent of a proposed Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. Tensions have risen since then with Israel accusing Syria of supporting the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups like Hamas.

Russia has offered to host a Middle East peace conference this year to try to relaunch talks between the two countries.

Olmert on Wednesday appeared to signal reluctance about attending such a summit but said Israel was willing to make peace with Syria and that he hoped the two sides would be able to hold talks.

“That doesn’t mean that when we sit together you have to see us,” Olmert told foreign journalists in a news conference.

Israel has also raised concerns over Syria’s close ties with Iran, the Jewish state’s arch foe.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Peter Millership)

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

March 28th, 2008, 12:51 pm

 

Boaz Wachtel said:

Alex,

Thanks for the extensive comment and the challenging questions. Wave power for desalination is a far fetched option at this point because the installed global MW capacity of power from waves is still very low and suffers from efficiancy and technological hurdles. It is an option for a clean source of power that should be developed by every country with sea shore but we are not there yet. Fusion is an option that I do not know much about so i can not judge it’s merits as a future source of power for desalination. I know there is great effort to develop solar desalination but similar to sea wave power the efficincies, capital cost and land coverage are still unresolved on a commercial scale.
I am glad that the Syrian feedback with regarding the regional water cooperation and peace project as proposed in the Peace Canal Plan is positive generally.
Regarding negative feedback from you and Syrians concerning the tank barrier: When I proposed the barrier to be temporary, i meant for the duration of withdrawl period that I understand can be in the range of 15 years or less. Modular means that it can be built from concrete blocks that can be moved by cranes in a period of a month or two. The permanent canal itself, if broad, wide and deep anough, could also do the job to defend against surprised armor attack of either side, but it’s dimentions will have to be reconsidered if we eleminate the modular, and temporarty tank barrier.
It is true that the Majino line did not help the French because the Germans bypassed the fortified lines. It is also true that, in a time of conflict, Syria could go around the canal and try to attack Israel through Jordan, but that is an unlikely scenario also because of Syrian-Jordanian implications and long logistics lines.
The number one problem as I see it is not Israeli or Syrian desire for peace, or the absence of understanding what the cost of that peace will be, but rather how to “break” the Israeli public opinion fixation with the Golan and educate the public about the potentials that peace will bring without compromising their pysical or hydrological security. That is the number one problem in my mind. Regardless if Ulmert is strong or weak to make peace with the Palstinians, Israelis will drag him (or his predecesor) to the poles in three months the minute he will propose a deal with Syria. Now, if this deal of land for peace will not give them (Israelis) the highest levels of assurances, both pysical on the ground and diplomatically (with the US for example who could sign a special security status agreement, like it has with NATO, or similar), they will throw who ever is in the helm at a blink of an eye. We have psycological war to win here, a war on one hand between the skeptics, the “super Patriot” Golan lovers etc and on the other hand, the peace making forces that strategically read the political map, regional threats and pressuring time line of our common reality.
SO for you and our peace seeking Syrian friends who consider that the barrier could be a stumbling block on the Syrian road to peace, I propose that only the canal would remain on the border, as a water storage and pumped storage, and as a barrier as is, and I shall stop from now on promoting the Tank barrier option along side of the canal. That would require me to do extensive editing work, but hey – if it can bring the peace even a meter closer, i’ll do it gladly.

Boaz

March 30th, 2008, 10:49 pm

 

norman said:

MR Wachtel,

What concern me as a Syrian is the impression that the open Canal will give the Syrian public as an attempt to redefine the border and make this Canal as the border between Syria and Israel ,
I believe that the pipes that are bringing the water should continue to the sea of Galilee underground and if Israel and Syria want assurances then I do not mind an American base on the Golan that will stimulate the economy in that area and increase consumption of the Golan wine ,

making the Golan demilitarized is also OK , letting the Israelis who are living there now stay is OK too as long as they pay Syrian taxes and follow Syrian laws as Jews in the us follow American ones .

March 31st, 2008, 1:24 am

 

Oudemos said:

The Israeli “defence” argument for keeping the Golan is empty. Gallilee is a reverse slope position, with few manoevre corridors (on complex terrain) down into it. IAF aircraft could destroy any Syrian massed armoured formations on the Syrian Plains – and far more easily if there was no risk of fratricide. The “wet gap” tank trap seems very like the Wall – an avowed defensive rationale, with border intention. It’s also worth noting that most FSU armour is amphibious, unlike most NATO-produced equipment.

Desalination on the Mediterranean will be very expensive as the water at the Eastern end is far more saline (due to evaporation) and polluted. The desalination plants will also be vulnerable to attack.

A pipeline from Turkey will be very expensive (far more so than a canal / cut-and-cover as is proposed for the Red to Dead Sea Project.)

Turkey feels free to export water from the Tigris and Euphrates head-waters as it is “Turkish” water. Israel has demanded that Syria not divert the Golan-originating Syrian water from the Gallilee basin, which seems somewhat hypocritical. According to Golani Residents’ Association figures, Israel derives 2/3 of its water from the Golan and OPTs.

Diverting more water from Syria and Iraq is likely to increase tensions in those regions – not a good idea. Kuwait has also recently suggested getting Shatt al-Arab water (again).

Rather than try to find a technological solution to a symptom of their own making, the answer is probably to try to work within the constraints of nature, and address the underlying condition – excess consumption. One part of the solution is to grow indigenous (water-thrifty) fruit etc. Currently Israel is the world’s leading exporter of cherry tomatoes, and supplies large quanitites of fresh herbs to Europe etc – all of which contain precious water.

April 1st, 2008, 10:14 am

 

boaz Wachtel said:

Dear Norman and Oudemos:

I shall try and answer your excellent comments one to one:

Norman wrote;

What concern me as a Syrian is the impression that the open Canal will give the Syrian public as an attempt to redefine the border and make this Canal as the border between Syria and Israel ,

B.W: The canal is a multipurpose structure serving syria and Jordanian water storage needs that is in acute shortage for them both. It will allow water storage regulation between the summer and winter in addition to serving as a pump storage reservoire for electric production vis a vis the yarmuk dam and the sea of galilee. It’s secondary objective is the prevention of armour crossing of either side so confiedence can be attained with physical measures and not just political measures.
As I wrote before, the new canal on the current border will be entirely inside sysrian territory and the new border, once peace is attained will be the pre 67 borders. So it should be viewed in the context of helping an israeli withdrawal, a measure to presuade the Israeli public that it’s safe to withdraw and for syria it will be part of a peace project to bring back the Golan to syrian hands and increase the water inventory and storage for the thousands of syrians who will resettle the Golan.

Norman wrote:
I believe that the pipes that are bringing the water should continue to the sea of Galilee underground and if Israel and Syria want assurances then I do not mind an American base on the Golan that will stimulate the economy in that area and increase consumption of the Golan wine ,

BW answers: An American base is not a bad idea but an international presence, from various countries around the globe, may even be a better idea since it will not attract as much animocity in the Arab world as an American base.

Norman wrote:
making the Golan demilitarized is also OK , letting the Israelis who are living there now stay is OK too as long as they pay Syrian taxes and follow Syrian laws as Jews in the us follow American ones .

B.W answers: I agree with everything you wrote in this paragraph. The Park Idea is a constructive idea to bring employment and economic development to the Golan, and as we learned from history when economic coopertaion is working, there is less chance for war

Oudemos said:

The Israeli “defence” argument for keeping the Golan is empty. Gallilee is a reverse slope position, with few manoevre corridors (on complex terrain) down into it. IAF aircraft could destroy any Syrian massed armoured formations on the Syrian Plains – and far more easily if there was no risk of fratricide.

BW wrote: That is true only when the Israeli Air force will be 100% devoted to counter a Syrian attack, but under a combined Syrin, Hissbalah and Hamas missile attack the IAF will have to deal primarily with the missle launcher threats and then with tank advancement. I agree that the Golan is Syrian and it should be returned and that the way to diffuse tensions and war is through a complete return of the Golan. As the role of missiles in modern warfare is growing the only way to effectively diffuse them is through peace and not the occupation of a chunk of land for territorial depth.
Oudemos said:

The “wet gap” tank trap seems very like the Wall – an avowed defensive rationale, with border intention. It’s also worth noting that most FSU armour is amphibious, unlike most NATO-produced equipment.

BW said: It’s not such a good analogy since the wall defines the border in many parts and on the golan the canal will be completely within a syrian territory, and only on part of the current border. Amphibious or not, such a canal will delay any crossing and give Israel time to recruite resrves and mobilize. I am sure you are aware that Israelis still have the 73 war trauma and that structure is a PTSD structure for the sake of healing the bi national rift and for “selling” the return of the Golan back to the Syrians.

Oudemos said:
Desalination on the Mediterranean will be very expensive as the water at the Eastern end is far more saline (due to evaporation) and polluted. The desalination plants will also be vulnerable to attack.

A pipeline from Turkey will be very expensive (far more so than a canal / cut-and-cover as is proposed for the Red to Dead Sea Project.)

BW said:
I agree with the first part and not the second. Desalination is very problematic but it is a solution for either oil rich countries like Kuwaite or GMP rich Israel. I do not accept your cost analysis with regard to the cost of the pipeline from Turkey Vs the red sea dead sea canal. The latter has a very negative environmental cost due to the mixing of both seas whereas the PCP does not have the danger of aultering the mineral composition of the dead sea. It is true that a closed canal is cheaper then a pipeline but not by much.
If you calculate the peace dividends, reduction of military spending directed to regional economic stimulations then the PCP is an irresitable bargain.

Oudemos said:

Turkey feels free to export water from the Tigris and Euphrates head-waters as it is “Turkish” water. Israel has demanded that Syria not divert the Golan-originating Syrian water from the Gallilee basin, which seems somewhat hypocritical. According to Golani Residents’ Association figures, Israel derives 2/3 of its water from the Golan and OPTs.

B.W said: Turkey will not sell water from the Euphrates to any third party- that was made clear by the Turkish government in reference to my original proposal to divert the water through the PCP from Ataturk Baraji on the Euphrates (it’s 500+ above sea level and it will be delived by gravitation to the Golan – that was my rational.

Oudemos said
Diverting more water from Syria and Iraq is likely to increase tensions in those regions – not a good idea. Kuwait has also recently suggested getting Shatt al-Arab water (again).

BW said:
Agree

Rather than try to find a technological solution to a symptom of their own making, the answer is probably to try to work within the constraints of nature, and address the underlying condition – excess consumption. One part of the solution is to grow indigenous (water-thrifty) fruit etc. Currently Israel is the world’s leading exporter of cherry tomatoes, and supplies large quanitites of fresh herbs to Europe etc – all of which contain precious water.

BW said: a regional water problem requires a balanced regional solution. It is true that Israel exports agri products but most of it’s irrigation is from recycled sewage or saline water. The efficiency of the Israeli Agriculture has increased by more then 3 dozen fold in the last 50 years. If all parties in the region will modernize their irrigation methods tremendous savings are possible, and water efficinet plants could be an added tactic in the water stressed region.

April 6th, 2008, 11:52 am

 

Alex said:

Dear Boaz,

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all our questions patiently.

All the best,

Alex.

April 7th, 2008, 6:32 am

 

Oudemos said:

Mr Wachtel’s comments are indeed useful – but the whole issue may be over-taken by events in Turkey. The Jamestown Foundation published a report in its Eurasia Daily Monitor on 04 Apr 08, “HOPES FADE FOR TURKISH WATER AS A STRATEGIC ASSET” (http://www.jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2372947)

April 9th, 2008, 10:49 am

 

wizart said:

Syria warns Israel over dumping nuclear waste in its lands

Damascus, Nov 20, IRNA — Syria on Wednesday warned Israel over
dumping nuclear waste in the Syrian lands of Golan Heights.
In a message addressed to the international circles and in
particular to the humanitarian and environment-friendly organizations,

Syria said the Israeli soldiers have proceeded to dig a big tunnel in the Syrian lands of Golan Heights to dump the Israeli nuclear waste there.

The Syrian citizens cabled a message to IRNA in which they
stressed that the Israeli move to dump nuclear waste in Syrian lands is a flagrant violation of the international rules and regulation, the Geneva Accord and a source of major threats to the environment. They called on the international community and global bodies to intervene to stop the Israeli move adding that any negligence in this regard may lead to destructive consequences for the Syrian environment and regional states.

Israel, the message said, is avoiding to give comments on its
secret and dangerous nuclear programs.

Syrian citizens expressed surprise over the fact that the world
nations remain indifferent toward the Israeli nuclear program.
They said the Israeli nuclear activities are being done in a time
when the US authorities in the While House, influenced by the
Zionists, put pressures on Syria accusing it of seeking to develop
weapons of mass destruction.

The Syrians called on the international community to pressure
Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

April 21st, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

anonymous said:

The golan will remain israeli , israel doesn’t need turkeys water.
Syria is a failed state that is about to loose it’s monopoly on power\violence.
the most you can get of our land is mijdal shams and ghajer.
you can buy borderline loyalty from the some other druze by pumping in money in the millions.

any peace program will have to work around the arab egomania and that simple fact.

May 15th, 2010, 1:03 pm

 

Aboud said:

The golan will remain Syrian. Syria doesn’t need Obama’s goodwill.
Israel is the most disliked and hated state in the world that can keep its monopoly on 19th century notions of colonialism, since the rest of the world has moved on.
the most you can get of our land is…well, pretty much zip, since Israeli leaders also swore on the memory of ye old temple that they would never leave Sinai (they did) or gaza (ditto there).

you can buy loyalty from some US congress men and women. Heck, the people who called for “drill baby drill” are pretty silent now that the Gulf is getting pumped with oil in the millions of gallons. Such unprincipled swines will gladly sell out their country’s interests for the sake of the world’s foremost terrorist state.

any peace program will have to work around Israel’s astonishing arrogance that the city that is holy to three religions can belong only to one.

May 15th, 2010, 6:54 pm

 

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