The United States presents Cinerama in Damascus, 1954

Posted by Alex 

This is a story from 1954. I wanted to share it with you because it is an example of a great public relations success for the United States in Syria, and the Arab world in General… a very different kind of initiative from the one behind the American warship(s) near Syria and Lebanon today.

Maybe there are simpler ways to flip Syria … they will not cost three trillion dollars, and no one will die.

 

CINERAMA SECRET WEAPON OF THE COLD WAR

BY TOM LECOMPTE

1954: The Soviets had just exploded their first H-bomb; the McCarthy hearings had come to an ignominious end in Washington; Stalin had died and Khrushchev had risen to power in Moscow. And in Damascus, Syria, Harris Peel had a problem.

Peel, the information director for the U.S. Embassy in the Syrian capital, needed something quickly. The Soviets were inaugurating a new front in the Cold War. The first Damascus International Trade Fair, slated to be the biggest in the Middle East, was due to open in just a few weeks, and the Soviets were pouring men, material, and money into it in an all-out effort to gain friends and influence in a region of growing strategic importance. They had hired 1,200 laborers and spent a half-million dollars to build a 40,000-square-foot pavilion that would be the largest in the fair, and would dominate the fairgrounds with a 100-foot steeple topped by an illuminated Red Star.
The United States, meanwhile, had nothing. With little time and zero budget, Peel cast about for some way to rescue his country’s prestige. Then he had an idea: Cinerama.

The year before, in Washington, Peel had attended a showing of This Is Cinerama. Since its unveiling in 1952 at New York’s Broadway Theater, This Is Cinerama had been a runaway success, thrilling audiences with its stomach-convulsing views taken from the front of a roller coaster and its breathtaking low-level aerial shots of such landmarks as the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls. The movie’s revolutionary three-panel ultra-wide-screen projection technique immersed audiences in a panoramic view of the action. You didn’t watch This Is Cinerama, you experienced it. It had become the most-talked-about film since —well, since the introduction of talkies in 1927. How better to showcase the best America had to offer?

A few phone calls later and it was arranged. Cinerama, Inc., agreed to donate everything needed to build a temporary theater. The Air Force agreed to fly over 12 tons of equipment, including a 75-foot-long, 25foot-high curved movie screen. A Cinerama crew and a handful of local laborers built a 2,000-seat open-air theater just in time for the opening of the month-long fair. “We busted our butts for five weeks to make this thing work,” Frank Richmond, the supervisor, told a reporter. “It worked, but God knows we had no right to think it would.”

On opening night, September 2, 1954, throngs swarmed the fairgrounds. Tickets were distributed free by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and demand far outstripped supply. Thousands showed up without tickets. Richmond looked on in horror as the metal fence around the complex started to yield to the crowd. “It scared me to see those iron fences bending under the weight of hundreds of people pushing,” he said, “and inside, without protection, $100,000 worth of equipment.”

The fences, however, held. Extra police were dispatched to maintain crowd control, and the U.S. Information Center in Damascus barred its doors and posted special guards to keep crowds from storming the building in quest of nonexistent tickets. Black marketers scalped passes, and a counterfeiting ring faked them. Each night people who couldn’t get tickets climbed nearby eucalyptus trees, stood on barrels, or balanced on bicycles to get a glimpse of the spectacle. A nearby restaurant with a partial view of the screen was packed every night. The USIA distributed 150,000 tickets during the show’s month-long run, and informal estimates had a total of nearly a quarter-million people seeing the show. The population of Damascus was 360,000.

Peel’s idea was such an overwhelming success that the State Department investigated the possibility of installing Cinerama on a retired aircraft carrier and taking it to ports all over the world. The plan was abandoned only after the expense of taking a carrier out of mothballs was found to be prohibitive. At a subsequent fair in Bangkok, the demand for tickets was so great that the film was held over for two weeks after the fair ended.

The Soviets, embarrassed and angry at being upstaged at the trade fair, resolved to acquire Cinerama’s secrets. Said Thomas: “Not long after Cinerama opened in London, they sent a planeload of scientists to the British capital, and while Washington slept and did nothing more about using this magic medium and failed to continue the success of Damascus and Bangkok, the Russians copied Cinerama.” He added that nothing less than our national security was at stake. No one knows exactly how the Russians learned the inner workings of Cinerama, but it may not have been too hard. Popular Science had run a cover story detailing the mechanics of Waller’s invention in August 1950, two years before the premiere of This Is Cinerama.

 

cinerama_syria_first.jpg

Syrian newspaper headline: "Cinerama plays in Syria before any other country"

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

cineramadamairport.jpg

American Globe Master air cargo, the largest plane to land at Damascus Maze Airport in 1954

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

presatassi.jpg

Syrian President Hashem Atassi and other guests at the Damascus International Fair in 1954

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

egypt_stars1.jpg

Egyptian movie stars Madiha Yosri and her husband Mohammad Faouzi watch Cinerama in Damascus

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

usapresents.jpg

Sign in Arabic says: "The Unites States of America presents Cinerama"

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

princetalalfrichmond1954.jpg

Nineteen year old Saudi Prince Talal Ben Abdel Aziz AL-Saud dressed in trendy black talks to Frank Richmond from Cinerama, in the projection room in Damascus.

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

lowellthomasjrrichmond.jpg

Lowell Thomas Jr. (active promoter of Cinerama, and official photographer of the event) and Frank Richmond (Damascus project manager) in the projection room

Lowell Thomas Sr. (father of Lowell Thomas Jr., above) was a nearly ubiquitous journalist, showman, radio commentator, and adventurer, a sort of one-man media empire. He had a daily radio show heard by millions and was the voice of Fox Movietone newsreels. His sonorous voice and distinctive “So long until tomorrow…” sign-off were brands to themselves. He was also a tireless promoter, a man who counted among his friends Presidents, Hollywood stars, and business titans.He was a correspondent during World War I in the Middle East with Gen. Edmund Allenby and T. E. Lawrence.

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

invitation.jpg

US embassy in Damascus invite to a reception at the Damascus Orient Club.

[from the collection of www.mideastimage.com]

 

Comments (145)


Shai said:

Alex,

Great story! If only more people like Peel existed in the American administration today, we’d have a very different political reality in the region. Creative, open-minded people are desperately needed here. Less force, more wisdom. What a novel idea…

March 9th, 2008, 6:59 am

 

Alex said:

Thank you Shai.

A piece of unrelated and useless information: The attractive Egyptian movie star in the newspaper clip I posted above (Madiha Yosri) was our landlord in Cairo … exactly 25 years after this Cinerama event. At age 13, I used to argue with her about the Camp David accords … I was against them (on the side of Hafez of course).

That’s the kind of comment I can come up with just before going to sleep : )

March 9th, 2008, 7:05 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

That’s a nice story as well. And look where you are now. If kids can change, why can’t adults? Are we so cognitively inflexible?

Good Night!

March 9th, 2008, 7:22 am

 

offended said:

Wow Alex! This is an amazing story! Thanks!
But we have to remember that there was another polar power called the Soviet Union which the Americans though, even for the little time that was, that they should compete with culturally as well as militarily.

Note how they refer to the Soviet acquiring of the Cinerama, a ‘national security’ secret being leaked no less….

March 9th, 2008, 8:25 am

 

offended said:

Aha Alex, you knew Madiha Yusri in person? was she still as attractive then?

Anyway, good night for now…

March 9th, 2008, 8:38 am

 

Majhool said:

Nice. very nice. The american should be celebrating the gloreous March, 8th revolution with the syrian people. it would be lovely!!

March 9th, 2008, 8:52 am

 

wizart said:

Welcome to Hollywood, Syria!

A few Americans are working peacefully to advance real peace within Syria and with it. It’s more important than ever to distinguish between most fair dealing Americans and their biased foreign policy.

There’s often a disconnect between the two and better public relations is needed to humanize the image of the Syrian people in American eyes.

http://www.reorientfilms.com/

March 9th, 2008, 9:24 am

 

Alex said:

Offended,

This is exactly the point … at the time this is what Harris Peel (info officer US embassy in Damascus) was trying to do … “flip Syria” from its relations with the “evil” Soviet Union.

Substitute the USSR with Iran/Hizbollah/Hamas and you have a similar situation today.

But the problem started and progressed as follows:

1) in 2003 they decided that there is no value in attracting Syria since there is no Soviet Union anymore … simply send Colin Powell with list of American demands!

2) Then US policies started to “experience difficulties” everywhere in the Middle East. Instead of reevaluating their “who cares about Syrian national interests” policies, they moved to “those weak and evil thugs at the Syrian regime, we will put consistent pressure on them until they break”.

Some of “America’s Arab allies” helped form this strategy.

3) Few years of putting pressure on Syria did not work … but by now we have a number of bitter leaders in Washington and in some of the Arab capitals that worked hard to weaken Syria… and we have a confident Syria … with allies in Iran that are looking increasingly like the old Soviet Union was perceived in Washington.

So … many started to want to flip Syria from its relations with Iran.. but not the few leaders who forgot about their national interests and instead turned this into a personal fight with the Syrian president… an ongoing effort to seek political revenge.

Read Robert Worth’ NY Times article on the Arab Summit for example.

Remember how President Bush sent Karen Hughes and Dina Powell to the Middle East “in pursuit of understanding”? … Syria was not part of that trip … there was no need for understanding with Syria … only for weakening.

They got obsessed with punishing the Syrian regime after Abrams and other neocons (plus many Lebanese and Saudis and Israelis) consistently ensured that no common sense arguments reached the White house… only “the Syrian regime is the source of all problems” type of argument.

And they destroyed their relation with a large majority of the Syrian people … while Syrians still love the United States as a country, they absolutely have zero confidence or trust in its administration. The United States always had its critics worldwide, but the negative ratings they have today in Syria are unprecedented.

And the administration knows it .. that’s why those in the American embassy in Damascus do nothing useful to improve the image of their administration and its policies in Syria … they know they can not fix what Washington is destroying everyday… besides, all they do (on instructions from Washington) is meet with “Syrian opposition” people … they only hear from one side, and they get convinced more and more that “there is no way to do business with this despicable regime”

March 9th, 2008, 3:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

Maybe you should call yourself “Jahel” instead?

This story is exactly for people like you who believe in “putting pressure on the regime” instead of gaining the friendship of the Syrian people… on the 8th of March or on any other day.

March 9th, 2008, 3:24 pm

 

idaf said:

Alex,

How the hell do you get your hands on such rare photos (and stories)? Prince Talal in Damascus talking cinema! Amazing.

Fortunately, there is some “hope” that someone else that understands the enormous potential of America’s “soft power” is possibly heading to the White House.

However, the proponents of war cannot comprehend the value of soft power. A couple of months ago a friend brought the infamous Judith Miller to my office and introduced me. After I answered her question of “where are you from?”, her soft tone suddenly changed into an aggressive and sarcastic attack on Syria (not even the regime). In a freaky Mr. Hyde transformation she then started going through the books on my shelves nervously. Suddenly, she spotted Joseph Nye’s “Soft Power” on the shelf and bursted at me angrily saying: “if I see another copy of Nye’s book Soft Power I think I would die”, before she suddenly transformed back into her softer version of Dr. Henry Jekyll.

I was shocked. I knew that the lady is a war-monger and that she shares a large portion of the blame for the “Iraq WMD” propaganda (which the NYT admitted later that it was only based on Miller’s interviews with Ahmad Chalabi as the “Iraqi source”). I also knew that she had Iraqi (and American) blood on her hand, but this encounter was another example of how proponents of war cannot stand the notion of “soft power” in foreign relations.

There are lots of those in Washington today.

March 9th, 2008, 4:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Idaf,

And … “how the hell do you” … get to meet all these people?
: )

For those of you who did not know, Mr. Idaf met Bill Gates last month.

I have many more photos and documents related to this event. I only scanned a few.

For example, I have a funny newspaper article in which they are warning people who were buying Black market tickets from the many fake tickets. Another article by a writer who was astonished at the size of the huge American plane that was parked in Damascus airport.

And other photos of Arab movie and entertainment stars such as Farid Shawqi and Farid Atrach … all attending this wild event!

Offended,

Madiha Yosri was in her late 40’s when I knew her. She looked a bit older but was the most charming and generous lady. She gave us for free her luxury villa in Alexandria to stay there when we want to go to the sea.

March 9th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The way to gain the friendship of people sufferring under an oppressive regime is to put pressure on that regime to change. Isn’t that obvious? Probably not to supporters of the regime.

March 9th, 2008, 5:27 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Unlike those who are brainwashed outside Syria … most Syrians know that their flawed regime is still much better than the “US puppets” next door, and they appreciate the security their regime provides so well.

So this is how things stand .. the US and Saudi propaganda machine tried its best (with Jumblatt, Hariri, John Bolton, and Majhool types) putting daily pressure on the Syrian regime and trying to fool the Syrian people into believing that they are “opressed” … well .. it did not work… the Syrian people were not convinced they were “oppressed”

So .. what do you want to do? … keep the propaganda machine working for few more years?

March 9th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Unlike you, I don’t think the Syrian people are stupid. They know very well that they are opressed.

You see the proof is very simple. If Asad really thought the people supported him, the Damascus “spring” would have lasted. Asad understands very well how unpopular he is and therefore he is forced to be oppressive. It is quite simple, actions speak louder than words.

And what needs to be kept is the pressure on Syria. Let’s see what happens in the next 10 years. It took a while for pressure to work on the Soviet Union. The only propoganda here is yours. You sound just like all the Iraqis that claimed Sadam was popular or the Russians that claimed that the Russians really liked communism.

When you have to oppress, you are not popular. All the rest is propoganda.

March 9th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Bravo Alex..

It’s been a while since I wrote a comment on this blog, and I truly enjoyed the story on Cinerama. I remember my Dad talking about it once.

However, I could not pass on the chance to comment on your wonderful rundown of temporary events in your answer to Offended and I ask of you to give me some room for sarcasm as I could not help myself after reading pages of your eloquent ranting on this blog for a long time. 🙂

Your biased views on the history of the US/Syrian relations are impeccable. If only the rest of the WORLD INCLUDING ALL THE ARAB COUNTRIES surrounding Syria can see your rational views and follow the wisdom of your American foreign policy strategy, we would have had peace and stability in the region long ago and Syria would be the cornerstone in all of this. !!! Wow…Allow me to nominate you to be the next Syrian Ambassador to Washington, you put Mr. Mustapha to shame.

I love it when regime apologists, as yourself, try to paint the American “Evil”, your favorite word, administration as the instigator of chaos and misery in the Middle-East, while in the same time make their favorite petty dictators the likes of Bashar, who seem to win elections with 97.96% of the vote on a single choice ballot, as the innocent underdog who is only looking for the best interests of the Syrian people.

Bravo Alex, you are doing a wonderful job in bringing freedom and democracy to our beloved Syria. The only problem your timing is off, by a100 years or so if you keep indirectly parading Bashar image in such a wonderful fashion.

Cheers

March 9th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Alex said:

Bashmann,

Welcome back. Happy to see you here again.

I understand how you see things and I will not reply with sarcasm today.

I am sure that you know that Bashar Assad gave an award to your wonderful father last month. Your dad who lives in Damascus, does not see things the same way you see them in Florida.

Many other respected Arabs admire Bashar by the way .. here is a sampling of some of Bashar’s meetings this week:

– Lebanese legendary singer Wadee elSafi.

– Respected Palestinian activist Azmi Bishara

And here is .. you know who.

March 9th, 2008, 6:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG says:

Two points.
The first is that if Americans cannot understand themselves as you contend, why would they be able to explain themselves to outsiders, especially Arabs?

AIG, do you read people’s comments and actually think about them, or do you just immediately start looking for ways to prove them wrong, no matter how silly and inconsequential your responses are? As tiresome as this is getting, I will make this as clear as possible for you:

1. America is a huge and complicated cultural entity.

2. It is not a monolithic, one-dimensional concept.

3. This is why it provokes mixed and often contradictory responses in many people, including Americans themselves, Europeans, and Arabs.

4. My friend from south Lebanon is one such person.

5. Your approach (which does not accomodate realism) is highly uncomfortable with examples like my friend, because they don’t fit into the categories of either (a) Israel-lover (who should be supported and promoted), or (b) Israel hater (whom it is ok to bomb as collateral damage).

6. Examples like my friend account for 99% of Arabs.

Is that clear enough for you?

The second point is that … trying to argue that America is different from its foreign policy does not make sense. It is a whole package.

Huh? What does this even mean? What are you talking about? What does “America” mean and what does “its foreign policy” mean? Do you have some secret dictionary that I’m not aware of, that defines these two things in algebraic or logical equations that can be compared? It seems that your view of America is even less nuanced than my friend the uneducated militia member. He at least is aware of the country’s complexities. You see it all as one package.

Furthermore, doesn’t moving to the US means accepting US “hegemony” which is exactly what Hizballah rejects in Lebanon? Doesn’t it mean that part of your taxes goes to supporting Israel? How can all this together make sense?

Yes! Bravo! It doesn’t make sense! Welcome to America! That beautiful country where you can make a better life for yourself, educate your children, build a house, buy a car, make lots of money… and pay taxes that go toward keeping your streets clean, your hedgerows manicured, and your family’s orchards in South Lebanon covered in cluster bombs.

You know, I’m beginning to think that Alex is right. You must be a professional propogandist.

March 9th, 2008, 6:25 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

AIG, do you read people’s comments and actually think about them, or do you just immediately start looking for ways to prove them wrong,

Reminds me that Edward Said that you could explain the Palestinian viewpoint four ways to Tuesday and the Israelis would still demand evidence if not a repeat if not a justification if not proof if not documentation if not a wax tablet if not they’d doubt you, your career, your friends, your motivations, your sanity, your wallet and your last meal in a restaurant.

March 9th, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

Sami Moubayed said:

Well Josh…you beat me again to the trivia of Syrian history. Wonderful story, and great pictures, thanks to Camille. FYI since we are speaking of Hollywood and Damascus; did you all know that Humprhey Bogart came to Syria during this same period, to shoot a film in Damascus? Great article Josh!

March 9th, 2008, 6:41 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex!

Nice to see you’re back. We were beginning to wonder what happened to you.

How do you know who Bashmann’s father is? (I know that you’re the webmaster on this blog, but are you also the head of mukhabarat?)

😉

March 9th, 2008, 6:47 pm

 

Alex said:

QN,

No mukhabarat needed. Bashman (and majhool) both spoke to me by phone many times.

😉

I am everyone’s friend.

March 9th, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I am everyone’s friend.

That’s what Ghazi Kanaan used to say.

Just kidding 😉

March 9th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

I’m still drawing up that list of initiatives I promised you. Until then, why not read Joe Nye’s famous essay on “Soft Power” from Foreign Affairs a few years ago? This is what I (and Ford Prefect, Alex, etc.) have in mind.

Thanks to Idaf for mentioning Nye.

March 9th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Read your email.

March 9th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

“You’ve Got Mail…”

March 9th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Alex,

If you are a history buff like me, you should know that many father & sons in history have disagreed on issues of importance, examples are countless and there is no need to list them here. However, thanks for the picture I do miss the old man and he is still looking great. The award is long overdue to a great patriot and artist. God bless him.

While you and I see things differently in regards to Syria, essentially we seem to agree on many of the problems that have plagued our political sphere in Syria since the infamous take-over of the government by the military over 45 years ago. Among those problems are dictatorship, corruption, and cronyism. If you do not admit to this then you would be simply deceiving yourself and your readers and would be guilty of the sin of hypocrisy.
I can deduce this from my phone conversation with you since your assessment of the political scenery in Syria seemed to me to be rational and straightforward. Yet, you seem to ignore or prefer to dismiss those important elements of the regime’s character in your discussion with all on SC.

Truly, you seem to represent an enigma to me. You are angry at the opposition outside Syria for taking part of a noble endeavor that seem to be left to the few who still have clear conscious. I followed your argument with Ammar on his blog after the visit he made to the Whitehouse and I could not come to terms with your position!! You want the best for Syria and Syrians which I do not doubt, but you seem to ridicule and belittle every effort from the opposition who seek to bring about the same goals you do. I understand your concern in regards to any military action against Syria and I doubt that you would find a single person in the opposition today that is calling for such action. I’ve yet to find anyone in the opposition that is calling for a violent over-throw of the regime, in fact, even the MB’s message have incredibly metamorphosed into a peaceful movement for a change, a surprising but expected maturation in the life of their movement.

I’m left with the only plausible explanation to your position of which I will keep in my thoughts ‘till proven contrary.

Cheers

March 9th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Ok, America is a difficult concept. I agree. My whole point that it is going to be impossible to explain it to most Arabs because in the end what matters are actions. But I am willing to change my mind once I see the strategy you porpose.

As for the foreign policy, my whole point is that in the middle east it has been pretty consistent for the last 40 years. Should it no be considered part and parcel of what the US is and what needs explaining? Let’s take a very sore point from an Arab point of view. The US is committed to Israel being militarily stronger than all the Arab states combined. Is this not part of the concept of America that needs explaining? And if yes, how are you going to explain it away?

March 9th, 2008, 8:15 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

I will ignore the notion of “Jahel” for now, and say that the bottom line is that people like you (my dear friend of course), Norman, and Nour who normally speak from a minorities’ prospective amplifying the threat of the majority (Do I need to quote you guys) do believe in the value of this dictatorship. This is something I don’t contest in fact being the democratic person I am, I believe in a system that accommodates opposing interests. Something Norman would not understand of course.

Now to say that the Syrian people are not oppressed! Now that is an outrageous stretch unless you convince your self that the Syrians are reduced to the likes of you, Norman and nour (with all due respect of course)

I am not against American acts of cooperation and friendship with the Syrian people, in fact I am all for it. But to be fair you should ask the Syrian government to accommodate the American interest be it the world’s super power. Those were different times with Hashim Atassi as the head of state and need not to be compared with the bunch of stinky intelligence people ruling the land today who for many decade oppressed intellectuals, freedom of expression, culture, etc. Just a reminder in case you forget, Syria’s current friends are oppressive ideological entities such as the Sadr of Iraq, the Islamo-fishiest Najad (who thinks gays don’t exist in Iran), the salafi Hamas, and the guys in white russia. . Friends to be proud of indeed.

Again, I am not hoping for a regime change, I am calling for the regime to expand its base of legitimacy, you call that pressure I call it a citizen’s right.

March 9th, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Shai said:

Bashmann,

I’d like to ask you a question regarding Israel and Syria. At the moment those of us who are advocating peace with Syria, recognize that we are talking about making peace with Syria of today, not a democratic Syria of who-knows-when. But I clear my conscience by telling myself that Syria can also move closer to democracy by eliminating one of the greatest “excuses” for all of our region’s lack of development (also Israel’s), namely the security issue. In Israel, for instance, huge budgets are diverted from education, from social welfare, from infrastructure, etc. to defense spending. We spend more on defense per our GNP than any other nation on earth, and many generations have and will be paying for it (and not just financially). How do you relate to the issue of timing, that is, that perhaps now is not the time to place too much pressure on Syria to become democratic, as there are “even more” crucial and urgent issues to be dealt with? I find it hard to believe Syrians will be angry at Israel if we signed a peace agreement with Bashar. Do you agree?

March 9th, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

trustquest said:

The story is real, but the premise of the story is not. If this forum is called: AmericanComment.com, it would be valid premise, that we as American we should learn from what history taught us, reach people and not fight them and we can get better results as such story. But this forum is SyriaComment.com, and this means we should ask Syrians, why they don’t try to reach America instead of fighting it.
There are too many other factors which make what happened in 1954 is not applicable anymore, first where those Syrians guys who work on this and invited the Americans film makers. Second, since 1961 the Baath party went out in the streets shouting, that American lost half of it soldiers in Vietnam and they are going to finish the other half. Unfortunately, the mentality of the current regime and his people are not the same as the 1954 people. In the 50s I went also to the international circus show, who build dreams for youngest, and since that time the Baath party in power, the only dream they are building is how to destroy Israel, but they do not know what after that because they have no plans. Trying to change the shape of the dog tail is fruitless, the only thing, I think you can do, is to change the dog.

March 9th, 2008, 8:21 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
About Nye, he is saying basically what I am saying but reaches different conclusions.
First, our diagnosis of the problem is the same:
“Autocratic regimes in the Middle East have eradicated their liberal opposition, and radical Islamists are in most cases the only dissenters left. They feed on anger toward corrupt regimes, opposition to U.S. policies, and popular fears of modernization. Liberal democracy, as they portray it, is full of corruption, sex, and violence — an impression reinforced by American movies and television and often exacerbated by the extreme statements of some especially virulent Christian preachers in the United States.”

Second, we agree on what can work:
“Most important will be a long-term strategy, built around cultural and educational exchanges, to develop a richer, more open civil society in Middle Eastern countries. To this end, the most
effective spokespeople are not Americans but indigenous surrogates who understand American virtues and faults. Corporations, foundations, universities, and other nongovernmental organizations — as well as governments — can all help promote the development of open civil society. Corporations can offer technology to modernize educational systems. Universities can establish more exchange programs for students and faculty. Foundations can support institutions of American studies and programs to enhance the professionalism of journalists. Governments can support the teaching of English and finance student exchanges.”

Where we disagree is that he thinks the situation is not hopeless. I believe it is. The only effective measures are the long term ones he envisions, but before they will have the desired effect, the Islamic tsunami will drown the mid east. Since I started reading this blog I have become even more pessimistic because the “indigenous surrogates” that Nye talks about (Alex for example) seem sometime to me as part of the problem and not part of the solution.

March 9th, 2008, 8:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Trustquest,
I couldn’t agree more.
This is what is always extra strange about the discussion here. The Asad regime is taken as the constant that must remain as it is while everybody else, including the world’s superpower, must change to accomodate it. Quite bizzare.

March 9th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

norman said:

The road to peace Israeli style ,

Any comment shai,

——————————————————————————–
Israel OKs 1,100 homes in disputed areas
Palestinians irate over moves in West Bank, east Jerusalem
The Associated Press
updated 2:16 p.m. ET, Sun., March. 9, 2008
JERUSALEM – Israel announced plans to build hundreds of homes in the West Bank and disputed east Jerusalem, drawing Palestinian condemnation just days before a visit by a U.S. general to monitor the troubled peace process.

Housing Minister Zeev Boim said the new housing would include 350 apartments in Givat Zeev, a West Bank settlement just outside of Jerusalem, and 750 homes in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Boim said the Givat Zeev construction initially began some eight years ago, but was suspended because of fighting with the Palestinians.

“When violence subsided, demand grew again and contractors renewed their permits to build there,” he said. The Pisgat Zeev construction, he added, “is inside Jerusalem’s city borders.”

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. It immediately annexed east Jerusalem and considers all of the city its capital. The annexation has not been recognized internationally.

The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as parts of a future independent state. But Israel has said it wants to keep large settlement blocs, along with Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, under any final peace agreement.

The Givat Zeev construction “is consistent with our long-standing position that building within the large settlement blocs, which will stay a part of Israel in any final status agreement, will continue,” said government spokesman Mark Regev said. Construction outside the settlement blocs has been frozen, he added.

‘Humiliating’ move, Palestinian says
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat harshly condemned the new Israeli construction plans, saying it undermines already troubled peace efforts.

“Why do they insist on doing this and humiliating Abu Mazen in front of the Palestinian public?” he said, using the nickname of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Erekat said he had appealed to the U.S. to pressure Israel to halt the projects.

Palestinian attacks on Israel and Israeli retaliatory strikes, along with continued Israeli settlement construction, have upset U.S.-backed peace talks. The talks, resumed in November after a seven-year breakdown, aim to reach a final peace agreement by the end of the year.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week persuaded the Palestinians to resume talks, which they had suspended to protest an Israeli military operation against Gaza rocket squads. More than 120 Palestinians were killed in the offensive.

The talks suffered another blow when a Palestinian man killed eight Israelis at a religious seminary on Thursday.

Israeli officials said privately over the weekend that negotiations would proceed despite the attack on the seminary, which is the flagship for Israel’s settlement movement.

The new construction plans announced Thursday may have been a gesture by Olmert toward the settlement movement, which opposes his talk of withdrawing from large parts of the West Bank and Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as part of a final peace deal.

U.S. envoy to arrive Thursday
On Thursday, a U.S. envoy, Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, is scheduled to arrive in the region for his first joint meeting with Israelis and Palestinians.

President Bush appointed Fraser in January to monitor implementation of the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan — which among other measures calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity. The plan also calls on the Palestinians to rein in militant groups — a step Israel says has not been fulfilled.

Givat Zeev is in one of the three major settlement blocs that Israel intends to retain in any peace agreement. Bush has signaled support for the Israeli position, and the Palestinians have expressed willingness to consider swapping land where settlement blocs stand for equal amounts of Israeli land.

An overwhelming majority of the 270,000 West Bank settlers live in the major blocs, and an additional 180,000 Israelis live in Jewish neighborhoods Israel built in Jerusalem after capturing and annexing it in 1967. Israel does not consider the east Jerusalem neighborhoods to be settlements, but the Palestinians and international community do.

Separately, an Israeli soldier wounded by Gaza militants in a border ambush on Thursday died Sunday of his wounds, the military said. He was the second soldier to die as a result of the attack, and the fourth soldier killed in Gaza violence this month.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23547442/

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March 9th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
That is for me the best response. For any Jews that the Palestinians kill, Israel should build something. That is the appropriate Zionist reponse, especially if it is being built in what is really part of Jerusalem.

March 9th, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Read you email.

Trustquest,

I will have to disagree with you on three points

1) This regime started really wanting to be America’s friend… you have Colin Powell’s interview after he left that can not leave any doubt.

America only wanted to keep Saudi Arabia and Israel as regional powers… not even Egypt. Mubarak was ok with it, Syria was not.

I am a strong believer in not weakening any of the four countries: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

2) The regime is not into destroying Israel. this is clear to the Israelis, not only to me.

3) this blog is read heavily in America, by Americans. It is useful for us to communicate with both. Syria Comment is a place where Americans learn about Syria and about best approach to dealing with Syria.

Bashman,

Just like you disagree with your dad, I disagree with you on few issues.

It is very simple … everything is relative even if this neocon administration and its M14 clowns and its Washington based opposition crooks (not all, some of them) try to turn this world into

Syrian regime is 100% bad
the rest are ok

1) Corruption is very bad. I am almost as disappointed with the regime as you are.

They did improve at the higher levels. Ask Ehsani if you prefer the opinion of someone who was a consistent regime critic until last year. He was in touch with many, many of the top Syrian business people who told him that they have less complaints about corrupt ministers for example … a perceptible improvement.

But much more can be done, absolutely. The regime gets bad mars there.

2) Human rights in Syria?

a-Women’s rights are among the best in the Middle East. I am very happy with that part

b-Religious rights … same.

c-political rights … very bad.

3) foreign policy? … You can disagree with me but I think they are masters, they are experienced, they are usually very wise,a nd they are good for the region (int he long run)

We discussed it forever before, Bashmann .. you are more a copy of Khaddam (Bashar killed hariri, Bashar is too easily influenced by others, Bashar is too stubborn) …

I don’t have to agree with you or Khaddam to gain your approval do I?

Anyway, I was delighted to see your dad being recognized in Syria … Please tell him that he has fans everywhere and from all ages.

Yalla .. we agree to disagree.

March 9th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

norman said:

The problem in the world as i see is that during the cold war , The Soviet union and the United states of America were competing for the third world love and affection through financial and technical assistance , That changed after the demise of the Soviet Union , and the US becoming the only superpower , Now i see that the West and the East are conspiring to take advantage of the poor countries and force their well on them under the Banner of the security counsel.

March 9th, 2008, 8:55 pm

 

wizart said:

Hi Sami,

Very interesting memory 🙂

Humprhey Bogart came to shoot what film in Syria in 1954?

By Humphrey Bogart

“You’re not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi.”

“The phrase ‘movie star’ is misused so much that it has no real meaning any more. Any little pinhead who makes one picture is called a star…. To be a star you have to drag your weight in the box office and be recognized wherever you go.”

“I came out here with one suit and everybody said I looked like a bum. Twenty years later Marlon Brando came out with only a sweatshirt and the town drooled over him. That shows how much Hollywood has progressed.”

“It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

“The only point in making money is you can tell some big shot where to go.”

“The whole world is about three drinks behind.”

“Things are never so bad they can’t be worse.”

“The best way to survive an Oscar is to never try to win another one. You’ve seen what happens to some Oscar winners. They spend the rest of their lives turning down scripts while searching for the great role to win another one. Hell, I hope I’m never even nominated again. It’s meat-and-potato roles for me from now on.” (quoted in 1951, following his Best Actor Academy Award win for The African Queen)

“The only thing you owe the public is a good performance.”

“Ah, nuts. I’m an actor. I just do what comes naturally.” (when asked if he followed any specific acting method)

“I’m a professional. I’ve done pretty well, don’t you think? I’ve survived in a pretty rough business.”

“…when he [Arthur Hopkins] was getting ready to produce The Petrified Forest, he sent for me. When I dropped into his office, Robert E. Sherwood – who wrote the play and was a friend of mine – was there. Hopkins said to me, ‘I’ve got a good role for you. A gangster role.” (discussing how he was cast as Duke Mantee)

“I didn’t do anything I’ve never done before. But when the camera moves in on that Bergman’s face, and she’s saying she loves you, it would make anybody look romantic.” (on his captivating love scenes with Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca)

“After me, he’s the best.” (joking about close friend, Spencer Tracy)

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

More Quotes About Humphrey Bogart …

“He is the only man I have ever known who truly and completely belonged to himself…His convictions about life, work and people were so strong they were unshakeable. Nothing – no one – could make him lower his standards, lessen his character…He had the greatest gifts a man could have: respect for himself, for his craft; integrity about life as well as work.” (actress and fourth wife Betty “Lauren” Bacall)

“Bogart was quite alarming to meet, for the first time, with his sardonic humor and his snarl that passed for a smile. It took me a little while to realize that he had perfected an elaborate camouflage to cover up one of the kindest and most generous of hearts.” (actor and close friend David Niven)

“She [Betty Bacall] and Bogie seemed to have the most enormous opinion of each other’s charms, and when they fought, it was with the utter confidence of two cats locked deliciously in the same cage.” (actress and The African Queen co-star, Katharine Hepburn)

“Bogart is a first-class person with an obsessive compulsion to behave like a second-class person.” (friend and owner of the popular restaurant Romanoff’s, Mike “Prince” Romanoff)

“Himself, he never took too seriously – his work, most seriously. He regarded the somewhat gaudy figure of Bogart, the star, with amused cynicism; Bogart, the actor, he held in deep respect.” (producer/director John Huston)

“Bogie was never wrong about people. If he thought a person was all right, the person was all right. And if he thought a person was a phony, the person was a phony.” (friend and long time agent, Sam Jaffe)

“I kissed him, but I never really knew him.” (actress and Casablanca co-star Ingrid Bergman)

“She [Betty Bacall] matched his insolence. Betty came along at exactly the right time for Bogie. He was mature and she was a kid, and I think he had a ball showing her what life was all about.” (friend and actress Bette Davis)

March 9th, 2008, 8:57 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I’m sorry, but once again Israel proves its stupidity with furthering its settlement in E. Jerusalem. Those who believe that by building we are pressuring the Palestinians to hurry and make peace with us, lest they lose even more, are simply dead wrong. The stronger side cannot force its own solution upon the weaker one. This act demonstrates our arrogance, our lack of understanding and sensitivity for the physical and emotional attachment the Palestinians have for land in E. Jerusalem. What did we gain by so doing? Another 350 voters for Kadima in the next election? Maybe, but also another 3500 voters for Hamas in E. Jerusalem, in the next elections in Palestine! The only thing we’re “building” each time we expand these settlements, is further hatred and violence against us.

March 9th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,
I am glad to hear your wisdom , I wonder how long and how many dead we are going to have before both sides understand that hatred and selfishness will lead to nowhere.

March 9th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Shai,

A great question and I will try to answer it as best befitting the forum at hand.

No Syrian would be angry at Israel for signing a peace treaty that would guarantee the full return of the Golan Heights. This includes government, people, and opposition.

There are two camps of thoughts in regards to the timing of a peace agreement with Israel in the opposition camp. One sees a peace agreement with Israel at this time, when Bashar is most defiant, a total surrender to a dictator’s wish in legitimizing his rule and a blow to the democratic values of which Israel and the West stands for today, while another believes rather mistakenly that such a move by Israel would enhance the prospects of moving forward the internal political reforms inside Syria. I tend to fall into the former camp.

It is my strong belief that no benefits will come to Israel or any other Arab country surrounding it at this time if Israel chose to acquiescence to the ways of tribal politics.
Israel long term survival is dependent on affirming the democratic principles upon which it has built its system of government and upon exporting these principles to the neighboring Arab countries. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan might have brought the military conflict to an end between those countries, but the intended effects of the treaties to bring an authentic peace among their people have been almost negligent for the past few decades. Don’t you sometimes wonder what would happen to Israel 20 years from now if an Islamic State were to be erected in Egypt, Jordan, or Syria?

I read an article in the JP today of an interview with the esteemed writer Bernard Lewis where he mentioned the awe filled reactions of his Jordanian friends when watching “Arab Knesset members openly attack the government with impunity.” on Israeli television. I could not help but agree with Mr. Lewis as he stated the obvious; in today’s world, open communications and the age of satellite TV, petty dictators will find themselves more at odds with their subjects and people will learn how to bring about a change to their lives and demand more from their governments everyday. My only hope is for true Syrian patriots abroad to join their counterparts inside the country and demand those God-given rights of freedom and democracy to the people of Syria.

Cheers

March 9th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
But weren’t the Jews stupid in coming to Israel in the first place?
Shouldn’t we just have stayed in Europe and other countries instead of building in Tel-Aviv and West Jerusalem? How was building in Tel-Aviv different than building in Givat Ze’ev?

Or did the strong side “force” a solution on the weak side in that some Palestinians accept that Tel-Aviv is not theirs? And if it happened in Tel-Aviv and Haifa, why couldn’t it happen with Givat Ze’ev?

March 9th, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

trustquest said:

Alex said:
1) This regime started really wanting to be America’s friend… you have Colin Powell’s interview after he left that can not leave any doubt.
America only wanted to keep Saudi Arabia and Israel as regional powers… not even Egypt. Mubarak was ok with it, Syria was not.
I am a strong believer in not weakening any of the four countries: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
– You are right, they started and they still wanting to be friend, but they are failing and still failing and they did not build the base ground in their party or education system to to make the shift in policy, results is what count not talk. The regime is the weak party and USA is the strong party, Saudis know that but Syrian’s regime keep ignoring this fact. Go read the comments on the regime outlets and you will find out.

2) The regime is not into destroying Israel. this is clear to the Israelis, not only to me.
-Yes, that is right, but sorry they are even not allowing the elite to put a foot on USA ground without calling them traitors and drag them to court. So, with this limit leverage, even if the opposition want to be milder than the regime stand, they can not do that because they will call them traitors. So, if you believe that the regime does not want to destroy Isreal, I on my side believe the MBs do not destroy Isreal, but the time is keep ticking and all are competing and claiming they want to destroy Isreal, they have nothing else to fight.

3) this blog is read heavily in America, by Americans. It is useful for us to communicate with both. Syria Comment is a place where Americans learn about Syria and about best approach to dealing with Syria.
– Here, I agree with you, but always know your audience and who you are talking to.

March 9th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

norman said:

Bashman,

The reason why the peace between Israel on one side and Egypt and Jordon did not lead to peace between the people is simple ( IT IS THE PALESTINIAN PROBLEM ) and until that is solved any peace between Israel and it’s neighbours is just a way to isolate the Palestinian into submission , that will not work with Syria as Syria will insist on a solution to the core of all problems in the Mideast , The Palestinian one .

Bashman ,

I have a question for you

Which part of Syrian policy you do not like and want to change

Foreign policy
Economic policy
National security

Please tell us as an opposition ,

What would you want to do and what is your platform.

By the way we all love your Dad. If I understand that correctly.

March 9th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Well, you’re right that Tel-Aviv, and Haifa, and Jaffa, and Ramla, look today as they do because the stronger side did force a solution upon the weaker one. But I cannot reverse the clock, nor do I want to, as it would mean the elimination of the state of Israel, a state I was born in, live in, and am raising my family in. Just as I wouldn’t expect Americans to suddenly return all of the original lands back to their native Indians, and ship out. Was it a mistake for us to come here? Absolutely not, not for us at least. Almost 99% of my family was gassed to death and burnt to ashes in Poland, compliments of Nazi Germany. Thank god the remaining 1% had this place to run away to. But it came at a cost to others (the Palestinians), and there must come a time when we should stop inflicting that cost upon them.

By continuing to settle the West Bank, or the Golan, we’re demonstrating in the most loud-and-clear fashion, our lack of recognition of the Palestinians’ and Syrians’ most basic rights. We’re sending a message that shows we’re not interested in peace, that we’re continuing to further our interests, because we’re the stronger side, and because we can. We could not possibly show less respect for the Palestinians, even after a frustrated madman murdered 8 of our Jewish citizens, and our “responsible” IDF killed 120 of theirs.

March 9th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You say:
“By continuing to settle the West Bank, or the Golan, we’re demonstrating in the most loud-and-clear fashion, our lack of recognition of the Palestinians’ and Syrians’ most basic rights. We’re sending a message that shows we’re not interested in peace, that we’re continuing to further our interests, because we’re the stronger side, and because we can.”

Why isn’t the following also true:
“By continuing to settle Tel-Aviv, and Haifa, and Jaffa, and Ramla we’re demonstrating in the most loud-and-clear fashion, our lack of recognition of the Palestinians’ most basic rights. We’re sending a message that shows we’re not interested in peace, that we’re continuing to further our interests, because we’re the stronger side, and because we can.”

March 9th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

Shai said:

Bashmann,

While I understand the “slap in the face” Syrian opposition members may feel if Israel signed a peace agreement with Bashar, I hope you would understand why we cannot wait for Syria to first become a democracy before doing so. This region is truly a barrel of TNT waiting to explode. There are too many parties to our conflict, and as of recent, some less-responsible ones have been added to the equation. While the standing armies of Syria, Israel, and Egypt are less likely to initiate a regional war, I cannot honestly say the same about the militias of Hezbollah or Hamas. There are too many opposing interests at play, and almost any side to this polyhedron of powers can light the match that’ll start the next war. If I thought this war would be like others before, maybe I’d be willing to wait things out. But I fear the potential for a catastrophe unlike any encountered previously in our region is high enough, to demand immediate action. If Bashar, or Khaled Mashaal, or Ahmedinejad, reach out in peace, Israel cannot afford to dismiss it. We also cannot pose unrealistic conditions that will likely blow the whole initiative away. Personally though, I do not see how peace with Israel, and the interaction between our people, values, and culture, that will follow, could inhibit the potential for democracy in Syria. I would think just the opposite, no?

March 9th, 2008, 9:59 pm

 

norman said:

How long Israel is going to fight , forever?.

It is time for peace .

Intel paints grim picture for IsraelArticle from: Agence France-PresseFont size: Decrease Increase Email article: Email Print article: Print From correspondents in Jerusalem

March 10, 2008 04:34am

ISRAELI intelligence agencies overnight painted a bleak picture of threats facing the Jewish state in an annual assessment that came on the heels of the deadliest Palestinian attack in Jerusalem in four years.

Arch-foe Iran and its controversial nuclear program remain the main threat seen by the Jewish state, while rocket fire from Hamas-run Gaza is the most active front it is facing, a senior official quoted intelligence chiefs as telling the weekly cabinet meeting.

“The main strategic threats are from Iran through its nuclear program and the pivotal role it is playing as a leader of the radical axis in the Arab and Muslim world,” the official quoted the annual report as saying.

The Islamic republic, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map, is also increasing its cooperation with other foes Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, he said.

While rocket fire from Hamas-run Gaza is the most “active front Israel is facing today”, a widescale offensive by Israel in the coastal strip would likely lead to a flare-up of violence with Hezbollah, as was the case in 2006.

“If Israel launches a broad operation in Gaza, that could lead to violence on other fronts, most notably from Hezbollah,” the official said.

In late June 2006, Israel launched a major operation in Gaza after militants tunnelled out of the coastal strip and seized a soldier in a deadly raid.

Two weeks later, Hezbollah seized two soldiers in a separate deadly cross-border raid in Israel’s north, leading the Jewish state to launch a massive 34-day offensive inside Lebanon.

Its stated aims were to recover the soldiers and halt rocket attacks into northern Israel. Neither was achieved.

The overnight assessment comes just days after a Palestinian gunman shot dead eight students, mostly teenagers, at a Jewish theological school. The attack on Thursday was the deadliest in the Holy City since February 2004.

Israeli police remain on a state of alert, while the army is maintaining a closure of the West Bank that it imposed after the shooting.

In the wake of the attack, a hardline minister called for the revocation of the residency permits of the family of the man who carried out the attack, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem with the blue Israeli identity card that allowed him free movement across the country.

“We should pass a resolution or change the law if necessary so that the family of anyone who carries out an attack… should have their residency permit immediately revoked and their homes destroyed,” Eli Yishai, trade and industry minister from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said.

During the annual intelligence assessment, the head of the Shin Beth internal security services said that 25 Arab Israeli had been arrested in 2007 over suspected links to militant groups in the West Bank.

Friday’s attack threatened to derail international efforts to negotiate a truce between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants and to advance faltering peace talks.

But both Israeli and Palestinian officials said yesterday the peace negotiations – relaunched to much fanfare in November but stagnant ever since – will resume next week despite the violence.

The talks received a new blow overnight, however, with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert giving his approval to the expansion of the Givat Zeev settlement in the occupied West Bank to the fury of the Palestinians.

“With this decision, Israel wants to demolish the peace process and demolish the international efforts to advance the peace process,” senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

There has been a sharp upsurge in violence around the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip since February 27, when an Israeli raid killed five Hamas militants, prompting a barrage of retaliatory rocket fire against southern Israel.

Since then, at least 132 Palestinians have died in Israeli attacks, including several dozen children. Four Israeli soldiers and one civilian have died over the same period.

In the past week, efforts have been under way in Egypt to work out a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants.

Senior Israeli defence ministry official Amos Gilad was in Cairo overnight for talks on the situation in Gaza, Egyptian presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad said.

Last week delegations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were in Egypt for similar talks and senior US State Department official David Welch also held talks on the issue in Cairo.

——————————————————————————–
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March 9th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Norman,

The Palestinian problem has be “Othman Shirt” for all the dictators in the Arab world for over 50 years. A discussion of it would be futile and I would rather leave it to the Palestinians to solve.

As for the regime’s policies, the palace in Damascus gets an “F” on all three listed in your comment. If you want to know where I stand, you can read my blog by clicking my name and you would get a better idea where I come from.

Cheers

March 9th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

Alex said:

There is now an official site for the upcoming Damascus Arab summit

http://www.arabsummitsyria.org/

The UAE announced it will be represented by its President. Syrian foreign minister said that the level or representation of the Damascus summit will be higher previous Arab summits.

March 9th, 2008, 10:26 pm

 

Thomas said:

Alex is rose colored glasses peddler!

March 9th, 2008, 10:30 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said:

QN,
Ok, America is a difficult concept. I agree. My whole point that it is going to be impossible to explain it to most Arabs because in the end what matters are actions. But I am willing to change my mind once I see the strategy you porpose.

I’m going to print this comment out, frame it, and put it on my desk.

Nice to hear that you agree with Nye. Maybe there’s no reason then for me to give you a list of U.S. initiatives, as he spells them out quite effectively. (Even though they are initiatives carried out by local actors, the U.S. has to figure out how to promote them, which involves developing expertise in the region).

As for where you disagree with him, I can’t say that you’re wrong (about your Islamic tsunami). But we’ll have to see.

March 9th, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Thomas,

I had enough of people giving tripple F’s while supporting and tolerating others who are not any better.

We need to move forward … not complain and boycott.

March 9th, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Can you kindly include the English part of that site? 🙁

BTW, I noticed that under the Palestinian flag, they have the entire map of Israel and Palestine. Does that mean I’m also invited? 🙂 Talk about CBM’s, can you imagine if just for the heck of it, Syria also invited Israel to participate? The next morning we’d have peace in this region… Norman, what do you say – can you add us to the invitation list?

March 9th, 2008, 10:35 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

Eh … I doubt you are invited : )

Not yet.

But don’t worry about the map. That map is like Israel’s flag and its two blue lines that many Arabs believe reflect Israel’s aspirations for a border that extends from the Euphrates to the Nile.

1967 borders are Syria’s official position.

There is no English site… as if only Arab reporters will cover the summit!

March 9th, 2008, 10:40 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Notice the time please, for the record… 12:43 am (10:43 GMT).

Before I head in, I’ll just ask, why is it that you accept America’s “From Sea to Shining Sea”, but you cannot accept Israel’s “From Euphrates to the Nile”? That’s called double-standards, my friend. Good Night!

March 9th, 2008, 10:46 pm

 

trustquest said:

Call me traitor, but look at the palestininan map and imagine, Tel Aviv does not exist, where is it, on the moon. This is the unreal policy of the dictators who build simple minds that have nothing to do with reality. Now the question, can those minds really make peace with not existing entity and how he will tell his people that there is a large city called Tel Aviv.

March 9th, 2008, 10:55 pm

 

Shai said:

Trustquest,

But do you honestly think Syrians looking at that map don’t realize this? Maybe only ISP’s abroad don’t show the cities, and local ones show them automatically? 🙂

March 9th, 2008, 10:57 pm

 

Alex said:

TQ,

Most Syrians understand that the final solution will be the 67 borders more or less.

I met some of the types you are talking about .. the ones who still talk like Nasser and Baath officials from 1966.
The rest … they don’t wait for this summit map to understand the world .. they have internet or satellite TV.

They know that there is a strong state called Israel .. and that it is well armed, with nuclear weapons.

March 9th, 2008, 10:59 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Here we go again! Please see my comments to Simohurtta in the previous thread (p=613). Why is it you guys keep bringing up nukes? Don’t you feel safe with a nuclear Iran? So what if we have a nuke-or-two? Let’s just Van Krefeld all the way!!!

March 9th, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I have no problem with those nukes for now … we can discuss them after we have democracy in Syria : )

March 9th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I’m going to sleep now, so I’d rather not think of nukes… Good idea – let’s wait for democracy throughout the region to bring them up again.

March 9th, 2008, 11:12 pm

 

Baruch Shalev said:

Alex,until Shai vill be envited to the summit,THERE is minor issue, with long term effect.How about proposing for the agenda ,increasing Civic Service in the Middle East, the style it is done in Germany ? It is a transforming experience for future young leaders,helping in hospitals or communitieS ? The benefits are enourmous.

March 9th, 2008, 11:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

What is Syria’s official position vis-a-vis previous proposals? (The Arab peace initiative, the Geneva Accord, etc.)

March 10th, 2008, 12:20 am

 

Alex said:

QN

Syria was present at the 2002 Beirut summit. It supported the Arab peace initiative.

But I wonder what is the deal with putting it on the agenda. I think they want to push Israel to make a decision … accept the Arab peace Initiative or else … it will expire?

Baruch

Excellent idea. I fully agree.

I also want to repeat that it is a shame how very few Arab billionaires and multi-millionaires are interested in constructive charity.

When will they give away half their billions like Bill Gates did?

March 10th, 2008, 12:33 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Alex,

Here we go again! Please see my comments to Simohurtta in the previous thread (p=613). Why is it you guys keep bringing up nukes? Don’t you feel safe with a nuclear Iran? So what if we have a nuke-or-two? Let’s just Van Krefeld all the way!!!

Shai your answers are mostly stupid. Saddam didn’t have in 1981 nukes. The small reactor was build by French and by the way Israel killed one Frenchmen in the attack. Iraq that time and Iran now are under IAEA “guarding”. They were then in 1981 and now a long way from nukes.

I live a couple of hundreds of kilometres from the Russian border. My country has in her neighbourhood more nukes than Israel has and strategical targets for US nukes (St. Petersburg region and Murmansk) than you ever can imagine. Still I can sleep. 🙂

It was Moshe Dayan who said that Israel must be the mad dog, not me. So why do you call me “anti-Israeli”? In pure military aspects a situation where Israel has an insane amount of nukes but the great (in size and population) nations in the neighbourhood is not “acceptable” for those countries on a longer run. No matter what the regime is. Lets remember that the amount of Iranians and Egyptians exceeds many times the total amount of members of the “nation” around the world. Also they need security and Israel has proven to them that it is agressive and uncountable. Sorry, but so it is and has been.

Israel has not a couple of nukes. It has several hundreds of them including a strategical long range capacity to deliver them (to all directions). For what reason hundreds of them, can you answer. Certainly a lets say 10 nukes would be enough as an detterent. So Israel could nuke most Arab capitals out of the map. The reality is that the Iranians and Arabs are far from nuclear bombs, Israel has them.

What comes to Europe and Israeli nukes. Why on earth do you Shai believe Germany etc have spy ships on Lebanon’s coast and why Israeli air force is threatening them? What do you think the Chinese in Lebanon and Russians in Syria are listening and observing? Certainly Hizbollah is not their main interest, neither it is for German, French and Italian military. So stop you desperate propaganda that Israel uses its nukes with “responsibility”. There can’t be any “responsibility” with nukes. They are made for a purpose. To get political power and if needed for use.

Let imagine a political situation where EU takes a harder line with Israel and begins a trade blockade. Israel’s economy would collapse in weeks. What would the mad dog do? Certainly at present the Israeli nukes are no direct clear acute danger for EU, but the threat exists. In a shorter term the greater danger for EU is that Israel will use nukes against its neighbours especially Iran as it continuously leaked in different news. Sorry Shai but Europeans see Israel as danger to world peace. And the borders of EU are near Israel.

Do you Shai sleep good if Lieberman (or an equal religious nut) would be the PM of Israel. Such a PM is thousands of times more dangerous than any Iranian president or leader of a guerilla group. And such a PM can be a reality in the near future.

Shai you certainly know the shady co-operation with Iran (during Ayatollah time and the Shah era) and Israel about nuclear matters and poison gases. You also know the other customers of your weapon industry. Not pretty reading. But indeed useful “behaviour” to keep up the mad dog image.

Shai in your admirable peace building efforts you should also concentrate on the real matters. And one of them is the military situation. Security means that all feel secure. The sad truth Shai is that you as a civilized peace builder represent a small minority in your country. There are several “bearded men packed with religious testosterone” against one of you in Israel. And those are not only Palestinians. That makes me worried.

March 10th, 2008, 12:35 am

 

Majhool said:

The Syrian Regime is Bad bAd baD. other regimes in Egypt and KSA are BAD as well. that does not change anything. Syrian Ploice Regime was and will contionue to be BAD for the syrian people. for god’s sake, since when a police state was ever good to its people?

as for the cinema stuff, King Assad the 1st, never bothered to attend ANY cultural activities for 30 years. Culture was of NO impoortance to him, he just wanted to be of important to the americans. our intellectuals never liked the regime, Nizar Kabbani comes to mind.

March 10th, 2008, 1:36 am

 

offended said:

for god’s sake, since when a police state was ever good to its people?

Since South Korea maybe?
And what about the Gulf States? Walla I think the UAE is treating its citizens quite well, even though it might be deemed as police state par excellence according to your high standards!

March 10th, 2008, 2:01 am

 

Majhool said:

Offended,

S Korea and UAE are police states?? funny guy. you should go out more often, or maybe just check wiki:

The term police state is a term for a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population, especially by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional republic. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.

March 10th, 2008, 2:08 am

 

offended said:

Majhooooool,
I know what a police state is, funny guy, and yes, until 1987 South Korea used to be a police state, and a very rigid one at that.

As for the UAE, I don’t want to argue the point and bring examples. Because unlike you I don’t intend to smear my country or the country that I live in…

March 10th, 2008, 2:16 am

 

Majhool said:

Offended (Funny guy),

Smearings ones regime is not smearing ones country.

Unlike you, I do care for my people, and I do not care for the reputation of regime dogs (that you equate to syria).

Many ask me about syria, I simply say beatiful land, wonderful people, and a police state. unlike you I like to keep it real.

If anything, this is a great exampleo f how you and your other like-minded frinds (Norman, Nour, and Alex)are out there to defend dictatorships.

March 10th, 2008, 2:28 am

 

norman said:

Shai, I hope you are still awake,
I would invite you the moment you make a deal with Syria, the Palestinians and the Lebanese , as i am unlike others think that the Hebrews are Semitic as all the people of the Mideast and as the Ara means , Assyrians and the all the other semitic civilizations they have the right to return and live in their ancestor land as long as they do not push anybody away and out of their own land , It would be fascinating to have one Arab nation of Jews Christians and Muslims where there are many states like Israel with majority Jews Lebanon with good number of Christians and where every citizen is equal and have the right to live in any part of the Arab nation , where he will register any where he lives and vote where he lives for anybody he wants.

March 10th, 2008, 2:41 am

 

Majhool said:

Norman,

” ….Christians and where every citizen is equal and have the right to live in any part of the Arab nation , where he will register any where he lives and vote where he lives for anybody he wants….”

Vote? you better be kidding. I say they should stay where they can vote (not syria for sure).

March 10th, 2008, 2:45 am

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

I find it amusing that Shai equates the Cheyenne with the Palestinians.

March 10th, 2008, 2:51 am

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

Cut the stupidity.

If you have nothing interesting to say, go back to your “making a lot of money”. You only show up here to type “police state” and “regime dogs” and “Alex supports dictators”

As I was trying to explain to you on the phone … the more I understand people like you, the more I have less doubts about my preference for the political system in Syria the way it is for now.

And by the way, unlike you (busy making lots of money), offended read the Economist Democracy index for 2007 which has these rankings:

Iran 2.93
Sudan 2.90
Qatar 2.78
Oman 2.77
UAE 2.42
Syria 2.36
Saudi Arabia 1.92

If you got “offended” because offended compared the UAE’s freedoms to Syria’s . (2.42 vs. 2.36) … then you must be in love with the system in Iran which scored an almost respectable 2.93!

But I know that you are actually in love with Saudi Arabia instead… which is near the bottom of the list at 1.92

Could it be that you really don’t care for democracy or human rights? … could it be that you care about one thing only? … money?

March 10th, 2008, 3:38 am

 

offended said:

Thank you Alex, that was exactly what I was trying to say. : )

In a new development, Ahmed Al Jarralah of Al Seyassa has turned up his tone a little notch, calling his enemies (Namely the Syrian regime, the Iranian regime, Hamas and Hezbollah..) ..“The bastards who sold the nation cheap…”

http://www.alseyassah.com/editor_details.asp?aid=653&aname=أحمد%20الجارالله

March 10th, 2008, 5:06 am

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

I’m truly sorry that you view my answers as mostly “stupid”. You don’t know how much I appreciate this criticism, when coming from YOU, of all people. The nonsense you speak, of course, is sheer “wisdom” in the purest form. I have so much to learn from you.

Here’s a good suggestion: Keep sleeping well on whatever border with Russia you live on, and stick your interpretations of Israel truly where the sun don’t shine. People like you have no interest in understanding anyone except for themselves, and I doubt even that much. Give yourself a nice pat on the back – I think you did a good job tonight. You managed to alienate yet another Israeli from your ideas…

March 10th, 2008, 5:18 am

 

Shai said:

Offended,

At the very least, please translate the article for us non-Arabic readers… 🙂 Do you think Alex and Joshua would be willing to employ a few part-time translators to this effect?

March 10th, 2008, 5:35 am

 

Alex said:

Shai, no need for detailed translation for this wonderful journalist.

ALL his articles say the same thing:

Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia (Sunni) good

Iran, HA, Syrian regime (“Shia”) … bastards.

I translated his greatest hits here (second half of the post):

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=542

All the M14 sites and “Syrian opposition” sites, and neocon allies gladly publish his Al-Syassa’s inventions…. you have about ten cases in the post above.

March 10th, 2008, 5:44 am

 

Shai said:

Thank you, Alex. I’ll read them. By the way, there was an article in Haaretz yesterday, originally from Al-Syassa, talking about some Kuwaiti security-expert suggesting the GCC has a lot to gain from Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear installations. Pretty amazing that Kuwait is willing to express such a view, being so close to Iran.

March 10th, 2008, 5:51 am

 

Alex said:

Nooo, Shai. Al-Syassa is NOT Kuwait … it is a special case.

When you read those stories I translated (partially) you will understand how reliable Al-Syassa is and you will be able to put the story you referred to in perspective.

I managed to convince some of my friends at Haaretz not to believe ANYTHING in Al-Syassa. But I have to do some more work I guess.

March 10th, 2008, 6:02 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Yeah, I didn’t quite understand why Haaretz included this story. It seemed something much more befitting the “National Enquirer”…

March 10th, 2008, 6:17 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex, Offended, et al,

I was never busy making lots of money (I wish). That was offended’s poor interpretation of how I described political passivism of large segments of the society (realism).

As for the Economist etc. it’s another out of context spin trying to brainwashe your beloved western readers. Syria is indeed dictatorship/police state and I can sight 1000 references in the Economist and other reputed publications that sight Syria as such.

Alex,

I never expressed admiration for KSA. Never, so to try to fit me into your tired defense mechanism of KSA& M14 vs Syria and Iran is not quite working anymore.

to put it simple, The Syrian people deserve better.

March 10th, 2008, 6:58 am

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

Putting aside all the politically correct and generic moral statements that you or anyone can easily make, going back to the point that Offended made, and you ridiculed:

Was it really that far fetched for Offended to compare the UAE with Syria on that scale of political freedoms and rights? … given that the economist put them so close to each other?

March 10th, 2008, 7:11 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

Syria is a police state. UAE is not democratic. these are two different things.

the definition of a police state reads “….. especially by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional republic. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism……”

This is not the case in UAE, but it is in Syria. It’s the fear element.

If you conduct a survey among syrian expats they would tell you that the country they fear to enter the most is their own (Syria)

March 10th, 2008, 7:28 am

 
 

Naji said:

Perhaps no region will benefit more from an Obama presidency than this oozing festering cesspool of tribalism that is the “middle-east” of today…!

March 10, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Tribalism Here, and There
By ROGER COHEN
NAIROBI, Kenya

The joke going around here, after a rigged vote, is that it may be easier to elect a Luo president in the United States than in Kenya.

“We beat them to it, I just wasn’t sworn in,” Raila Odinga, the opposition leader and a member of the large Luo ethnic group, told me. “Obama, if elected, would have been second, but I was robbed at the ballot box.”

Barack Obama is an American delivered by birth from the fissures of his father’s land. But it is through the charged tribal prism that Kenyans view the U.S. presidential race after a spasm of postelectoral ethnic killing and cleansing that left more than 1,000 dead and a half-million people uprooted.

Because Obama’s paternal family is Luo, the Luos love him without reserve. By contrast, Kikuyus, the largest tribe, are cool to him.

Since independence in 1963, Kenya has never had a Luo president. The incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, is a Kikuyu and widely accused, as the country’s first president Jomo Kenyatta was, of favoring his tribe.

That’s the 45-year backdrop to the violence, now stanched, that saw Luos who felt cheated in the Dec. 27 election chasing Kikuyus from their homes and Kikuyus killing in reprisal.

History is prologue. Back in the 1960s, Obama’s father, shaped by his American experience, warned that “tribalism was going to ruin the country,” according to the senator’s memoir. Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, punished the “old man” for his frankness.

Odinga’s father also suffered as a Luo. Oginga Odinga, the first vice-president to Kenyatta, was arrested in 1969 after ethnic violence in the Luo-dominated western city of Kisumu, near the Obama homestead. Today, burnt buildings and shattered stores line Kisumu once again.

But we’re beyond tribalism, right?

Wrong. The main forces in the world today are the modernizing, barrier-breaking sweep of globalization and the tribal reaction to it, which lies in the assertion of religious, national, linguistic, racial or ethnic identity against the unifying technological tide.

Connection and fragmentation vie. The Internet opens worlds and minds, but also offers opinions to reinforce every prejudice. You’re never alone out there; some idiot will always back you. The online world doesn’t dissolve tribes. It gives them global reach.

Jihadism, with its mirage of a restored infidel-free Caliphate, is perhaps the most violent tribal reaction to modernity. But fundamentalism is no Islamic preserve; it has its Christian, Jewish, Hindu and other expressions.

America’s peaceful tribes are also out in force. As Obama and Hillary Clinton engage in the long war for the Democratic nomination, we have the black vote, and the Latino vote, and the women-over-50 vote, and the Volvo-driving liberal-intellectual vote, and the white blue-collar vote, and the urban vote, and the rural vote, and the under-30s vote — sub-groups with shared social, cultural, linguistic or other traits and interests.

That’s democracy at work. Sure. But the United States is divided, within itself and from the world, in growing ways.

It is divided by war, by income chasms, by foreclosures, by political polarization and by culture wars. Increasingly it is looked upon from outside with dismay or alarm. Healing, within and without, will be a central task of the next president.

For several years now, Obama has made the possibility of unity beyond division the core of his politics. That’s just poetry, the pooh-poohing Clinton people say, but governing is about the prose of experience and grit.

I see plenty of Obama prose, in new proposals for national service, for more equitable taxation, for health care, for international dialogue; and in his unique experience, both personal and professional, of reaching across continental, racial, religious and class lines. His grit is self evident. Look where he came from.

I looked. Those charred buildings and smashed windows in Kisumu are borne somewhere in Obama’s soul, just as the words of his half-sister Auma are when she described their elusive father’s travails: Kenyatta telling him “he would not work again until he had no shoes on his feet.” On the south side of Chicago, Obama has lived the American refractions of such violent division.

If I was to sum up this presidential race, I’d say: “It’s the generations, stupid.”

An American generation under 45 has glimpsed an interconnected world beyond race and tribe. They know its attainment will be elusive but, after a bitter season, they feel summoned by what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” And, speaking of experience, they know Lincoln came to the presidency with all of two years in Congress behind him, and a failed Senate campaign.

Looking out from Kenya, where he mediated an end to the tribal violence, Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, told me: “I think an Obama presidency would be inspirational, an incredible development in the world.”

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

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

March 10th, 2008, 7:46 am

 

offended said:

Ahmed Al Jarallah concludes (after maligning couple of Kuwaiti dignitaries, one of which is a former MP, who had mourned Imad Mughniya and sat off a sectarian controversy):

“Those who use foreign powers to their advantage in the internal struggles against their countrymen, deserve to be called BASTARDS”

I like what Al Jarallah said. In fact I think it should applies to the some of the Syrian opposition quite nicely. Cut and drop (7afer we tanzeel)…

March 10th, 2008, 7:47 am

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

If you conduct a survey among SYRIANS (not only your favorite surrounding group that thinks like you) .. they will have a thousand things to criticize about their leaders and political system .. but most will not share your M14 and Saudi press and Neocon supported language about the “police state” in Syria today… most live fine with the limitations on political freedoms .. because most Syrians do not care to participate in politics.

As for the UAE … try a small experiment:

Call someone there and get him /her to say bad things about the emir who has a trillion dollars in his account… see if your friends in the UAE are comfortable saying that the emir is a bastard.

He is not by the way, I like him a lot in general… but just an experiment.

And … police states. One can make that statement about any Arab country if one has an agenda. Like the ultra peaceful and westernized and rich Bahrain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynnocHgU-Hk

Anyway. I’m going to sleep. Meantime, entertain the readers here with more of your genuine love for democracy.

March 10th, 2008, 7:52 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

OK, syria is not a police state” mana dawlet mukhabarat” rather rule of law state “dawlet quanoun”, happy?

good night

March 10th, 2008, 7:56 am

 

wizart said:

Thanks for focusing on tough questions that need honest answers.

Simo said..

“Israel has not a couple of nukes. It has several hundreds of them including a strategical long range capacity to deliver them (to all directions). For what reason hundreds of them, can you answer?

Certainly lets say 10 nukes would be enough as a detterent. So Israel could nuke most Arab capitals out of the map. The reality is that the Iranians and Arabs are far from nuclear bombs, Israel has them.

What comes to Europe and Israeli nukes. Why on earth do you Shai believe Germany etc have spy ships on Lebanon’s coast and why Israeli air force is threatening them? What do you think the Chinese in Lebanon and Russians in Syria are listening and observing? Certainly Hizbollah is not their main interest, neither it is for German, French and Italian military. So stop you desperate propaganda that Israel uses its nukes with “responsibility”. There can’t be any “responsibility” with nukes. They are made for a purpose. To get political power and if needed to use them.

Let’s imagine a political situation where EU takes a harder line with Israel and begins a trade blockade. Israel’s economy would collapse in weeks. What would the mad dog do? Certainly at present the Israeli nukes are no direct clear acute danger for EU, but the threat exists. In a shorter term the greater danger for EU is that Israel will use nukes against its neighbours especially Iran as it continuously leaked in different news. Sorry Shai but Europeans see Israel as danger to world peace. And the borders of EU are near Israel.

Do you Shai sleep good if Lieberman (or an equal religious nut) would be the PM of Israel? Such a PM is thousands of times more dangerous than any Iranian president or leader of a guerilla group. And such a PM can be a reality in the near future.

Shai you certainly know the shady co-operation with Iran (during Ayatollah time and the Shah era) and Israel about nuclear matters and poison gases. You also know the other customers of your weapon industry. Not pretty reading. But indeed useful “behaviour” to keep up the mad dog image.

Shai in your admirable peace building efforts you should also concentrate on the real matters. And one of them is the military situation. Security means that all feel secure. The sad truth Shai is that you as a civilized peace builder represent a small minority in your country. There are several “bearded men packed with religious testosterone” against one of you in Israel. And those are not only Palestinians. That makes me worried.”
——————————————————————-

I would love to see the views of more Europeans in these regards.

March 10th, 2008, 8:00 am

 

Naji said:

Why is it so hard to imagine that Syria IS a police state, AND that most Syrians like it that way for now…??!! They certainly would not be the first to do so, trading security for liberty, as it were, …!! This may be unfortunate, but is certainly a more accurate and constructive view of the situation than always blaming all ills of a society on one person/cause…, isn’t it…!?

March 10th, 2008, 8:05 am

 

Naji said:

Re-publishing Simo’s comment, but with that perfect introduction and corrolary, was certianly very… Wize 🙂

Thanks Wizz and Simo, and do excuse Shai… he just gets kranky when he hasn’t been allowed to get enough sleep… and when someone uses aggressive language, un-necessarily 😉

March 10th, 2008, 8:13 am

 

Majhool said:

Someone here is finally making sense. Thanks Naji. I partially agree with you. The syrian regime fits the definition of a police state 2000% and many syrians (mostly minorities) like it that way (cannot blame them).

what is so wrong of spellling it out as it is and keeping it real? do we have to sugar coat everything to appeal to the americans and the israelis?

March 10th, 2008, 8:14 am

 

offended said:

Majhool ya Mastool,
I didn’t say Syria is not a police state; I said that Syria could be a police state and still care for its citizens (that’s why I cited the UAE for example)…AND THAT IS WHAT YOUR ARGUMENT WAS ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE….so please spare me the false indignation…

March 10th, 2008, 8:22 am

 

Naji said:

Thanks, Majhool, …so it is possible to reach agreement on something and move on to the next point…!!
🙂

March 10th, 2008, 8:24 am

 

Majhool said:

Offended,

Mastool yel3ab b’…ak

Naji,

we sure could, unfortunatly we could not move on so quickly as offended and Alex had to proof first that the entire world is made of similar police states. thus the syrian regime is good enough for the syrian people.

Oh, let alone linking my language to a saudi and m14 wicked sunni conspiricy.

March 10th, 2008, 8:24 am

 

Alex said:

No Majhool … the whole thing starts when you come here to tell us that everything has to wait until the scary regime is changed and that most Syrians can not even breathe while this dictator Saddam, I mean Bashar is in power.

Offended, Nour and Norman types are saying that things are not great, but that should not stop us from working on reforming the country today. But you come here to laugh at anyone who does not share your shock at the fact there is no democracy in Syria today and you insist they are acting to protect their minority interest which you insinuate that minorities do not share the same interests like the rest of the Syrian people… so they are selfish … hijacking the country to suit their selfish minority needs.

Next time you decide to show up here, try to take it easy on the sarcasm and the accusations to “minority” Syrians here.

Offended is not a minority by the way … he is simply a reasonable young man.

March 10th, 2008, 8:29 am

 

offended said:

Majhool,
Thanks for leaving the blanks to me; I am very good at ‘imla2 al faraghat’…

March 10th, 2008, 8:33 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

one has to put some brakes to your vivid imagination.

“when you come here to tell us that everything has to wait until the scary regime is changed”

Really? I never said that.

“and that most Syrians can not even breathe while this dictator Saddam, I mean Bashar is in power”

You mean physically breath. who is Exaggerating now?.yes, the fear element is Epidemical in Syria. sorry to busrt your bubble.

“that should not stop us from working to work on reforming the country today”

I can get quotes of my self here saying over and over again “reform now”

” But you come here to laugh at anyone who does not share your shock at the fact there is no democracy in Syria today”

No Alex, Norman and Nour are the ones with the lable “traitors” ready for those whome they disagree with.

“and you insist they are acting to protect their minority interest which you insinuate that minorities do not share the same interests like the rest of the Syrian people… ”

Maybe I have to cut and paste Norman’s paranoid depiction of Sunnis! as for insinuation, maybe from time to time you should advocate accomodation of opposing interests it remains bettter than convincing your self that the majority of syrians is happy with the regime.

“Next time you decide to show up here, try to take it easy on the sarcasm and the accusations to “minority” Syrians here.”

accusations? efff. reminds me of ” etharat el na3arat el ta2ifeyya wa id3af el sh3oor el kawmi”

“Offended is not a minority by the way … he is simply a reasonable young man”

Good for him.

March 10th, 2008, 8:46 am

 

Naji said:

Someone, in an earlier post, said something to the effect of: we do not have “minorities” in Syria, but we have “communities”… I like that…!! I did not really grow up in Syria, but if that is what was drilled by the Ba’th into kids’ heads as they were growing up in Syria for the past 30 years, it is a hell of a lot better of an ideology than was being drilled into the heads of other kids in the region at the time…!! Isn’t it…?!

In any case, I do think that the NYT article (re Tribalism) I pasted above is worth some contemplation…

March 10th, 2008, 8:49 am

 

offended said:

Naji, it was me. I think I should copy-right it. 😉

March 10th, 2008, 8:52 am

 

Alex said:

No, you “never said that” … but you said many things which are exactly “that”

Look … on the phone we speak for two hours each time .. to type the same here will take 20 hours.

Majhool habibi… after talking to you for 50 hours the past year … I think I do understand what you like and what you don’t like.

March 10th, 2008, 8:55 am

 

Naji said:

Offended,

…an elegant concept summed up in one word…! You could copy-right it, but how about offering it for free to the world…?! We sure could use some creative concepts of co-existence around here… 😉

March 10th, 2008, 8:57 am

 

offended said:

“We sure could use some creative concepts of co-existence around here…”

Exactly Naji, regardless of where we stand on political matters, sectarian ‘fault lines’ shouldn’t stand between us…

I argued about this with Ehsani2 when I met him (he has a slightly different view), but I am not going to start off the argument online until he’s back behind his computer : ).

P.S. I am copy-writing ‘fault lines’ as well…although as a negative word as it may be, I think nobody is interested in burglarizing it…
Maybe Al Seyassa?

March 10th, 2008, 9:06 am

 

Majhool said:

On the Minority/Majority complex, here are some quotes from Norman:

“most the traitors in the Arab world as I see it are not of the minorities”

“About being paranoid (by sunnis) , you must be kidding , I was in Syria in the late seventies where only the Christian and Shai professors were killed by the MB , sometime in the classrooms, they did not fined any corrupt Sunni Baathist to kill”

“the way , for your information , people are not paranoid if they build their stand on facts like what the MB did in Syria , that is called learning from history , Something you do not seem to understand ”

On the other hand I said

“I view nationalism as defending the rights of all citizens especially those whom we disagree with. To be nationalist yet paranoid of half of the population does not add up”

March 10th, 2008, 9:07 am

 

offended said:

Majhool,
Does the MB accord represent all Sunnis?

March 10th, 2008, 9:14 am

 

Shai said:

Naji,

I really don’t want to put you and Simohurtta in the same boat. For crying out loud, do you REALLY believe the crap he’s talking about and insinuating? Wizart’s “softening” of the message doesn’t do it much better, unfortunately, because maybe he means something else but sounds the same. Where do you guys get that Nuke-stuff from? You think the Europeans, or the Arabs, for that matter are afraid of our nukes? If so, how come Hezbollah isn’t afraid to shell our nation with thousands of stupid-rockets, sending a million-plus Israelis to underground shelters? Why isn’t Hamas afraid to send Qassams for 7 years straight, on a daily basis almost? If Israel does have nukes, then I can’t but see how our policy vis-a-vis use of such weapons is EXTREMELY responsible. For Christ’s sake, can you imagine the other around? Suppose Hezbollah had nukes, and suppose we rained down upon Lebanon thousands of shells throughout the country. Would Hezbollah use its nukes, or not??? If Hamas had nukes, would it use them, or not??? Before you go suggesting your typical anti-Israel rhetoric (what I called “crap” in Simohurtta’s case), try to first be honest with yourself, and then maybe check with a friend of two, to make sure your rationale stands more than just the comment section on SC.

Trust me, Naji, I could sit here and come up with a bunch of really good stuff about the regimes in this region, and why we should NOT trust them, make peace with them, relinquish territory gained in war to, etc. If we look for reasons NOT to make peace, they’re all around us, not just on Israel’s side, you know. So unless that is your goal (it certainly seems to be Simohurtta’s), please consider, and reconsider, your words and insinuations carefully. Sophisticated wording doesn’t make one smart, it makes one sound smart. Alienating those who are ready to do away with all the hatred, and distrust, and suspicion, and bloodshed, between Jews and Arabs is, I believe, not smart.

March 10th, 2008, 9:17 am

 

Majhool said:

Offended,

good question. of course not. and that is exactly the point. the minute i mention the “opressed” majority Norman jumps and talks about MB?!! the minute i talk about the right of the mojority to share power Norman jumps and talks about how I want the sharia law.

March 10th, 2008, 9:24 am

 

Naji said:

Shai,
Believe it or not, despite all the loud noise in your comment, you managed to make a couple of valid points that would have been much easier to discern had they been made less offensively… That might have been smarter, no…?!

To tell you the truth, until reading Simo’s comment above, I, probably like most people around here, had not been ALL that worried by Israel’s nuclear weapons… out-of-sight-out-of-mind, I guess, …they did not cause anxiety at the level of one’s “guts”…, but now that I think about it…??!! I mean, you know as well as I do that Israel has at least as many “religious nuts” as the other “communities” in this region, and that the path to power for those is much clearer in Israel than in the neighboring communities (democracy and all that…). What would happen if one those was in power when Hamas/Iran/HA, or whoever, came close vanquishing an IDF that the world had suddenly, or finally, forsaken…??!! You say, “ah, but they will not foresake us, precicesly because we have nuclear weapons”, but you would be wrong my friend. The rest of the world has grown weary of the whole lot of us, and has decided to erect missile defences, and whatever else it takes, at whatever cost, to shield itself from the risks of our eternal bickering and …move on …! I think you must agree that the presence of nuclear weapons, no matter in who’s hands, in the middle of the most explosive and contested region of the world, is… scarey…!? Whether one happens to be very clever or not, one cannot but gain by some intellectual honesty…!

I don’t know how smart it was of you to try to alienate one Syrian who is trying to find “some creative concepts of co-existence around here…”, but obviously you were not clever enough to succeed…! 😉

March 10th, 2008, 10:05 am

 

wizart said:

Shai,

If Hamas had Nukes Israel would have made peace in the region unstead of blockading Gaza and depriving its 2 million people from basic human rights such as gainful employment, food and medicine.
There’s no need for branding anybody’s questions crap or stupid. There’s no such thing as dumb questions. Only questions that have not been answered. Progress is rooted in exercising free inquiry.

Regime change seems like a smokescreen to divert attention from the real challenge and responsibility of bringing real security to all.

Thanks to Simo, Naji and all peace lovers looking for real answers.

Simo said..

“Israel has not a couple of nukes. It has several hundreds of them including a strategical long range capacity to deliver them (to all directions). For what reason hundreds of them, can you answer?

Certainly lets say 10 nukes would be enough as a detterent. So Israel could nuke most Arab capitals out of the map. The reality is that the Iranians and Arabs are far from nuclear bombs, Israel has them.

What comes to Europe and Israeli nukes. Why on earth do you Shai believe Germany etc have spy ships on Lebanon’s coast and why Israeli air force is threatening them? What do you think the Chinese in Lebanon and Russians in Syria are listening and observing? Certainly Hizbollah is not their main interest, neither it is for German, French and Italian military. So stop you desperate propaganda that Israel uses its nukes with “responsibility”. There can’t be any “responsibility” with nukes. They are made for a purpose. To get political power and if needed to use them.

Let’s imagine a political situation where EU takes a harder line with Israel and begins a trade blockade. Israel’s economy would collapse in weeks. What would the mad dog do? Certainly at present the Israeli nukes are no direct clear acute danger for EU, but the threat exists. In a shorter term the greater danger for EU is that Israel will use nukes against its neighbours especially Iran as it continuously leaked in different news. Sorry Shai but Europeans see Israel as danger to world peace. And the borders of EU are near Israel.

Do you Shai sleep good if Lieberman (or an equal religious nut) would be the PM of Israel? Such a PM is thousands of times more dangerous than any Iranian president or leader of a guerilla group. And such a PM can be a reality in the near future.

Shai you certainly know the shady co-operation with Iran (during Ayatollah time and the Shah era) and Israel about nuclear matters and poison gases. You also know the other customers of your weapon industry. Not pretty reading. But indeed useful “behaviour” to keep up the mad dog image.

Shai in your admirable peace building efforts you should also concentrate on the real matters. And one of them is the military situation. Security means that all feel secure. The sad truth Shai is that you as a civilized peace builder represent a small minority in your country. There are several “bearded men packed with religious testosterone” against one of you in Israel. And those are not only Palestinians. That makes me worried.”
——————————————————————-

I would love to see the views of more Europeans in these regards.

March 10th, 2008, 10:21 am

 

offended said:

Majhool,
If you re-read your suggestion to Norman with a critical eye, you’d find that it was you who brought up the majority/minority thing. Is that what you are ultimately looking for? A majority Sunni ruling Syria? Do you realize how sectarian you sound by this? Do you not care if the president is competent or not?
Of course Norman is going to take your suggestion with a pinch of salt; because you do not seem to advocate the rights of the whole Syrian population, only the part that you are concerned about. If your call for democracy is genuine; then the kind of democracy you’re looking for should encapsulate all Syrians. Not only you my friend…

March 10th, 2008, 10:33 am

 

offended said:

Shai, a quick suggestion:
Make a flask of green shai and head to the closest park and please try to chill!

Seriously, what’s with the angry tone today?

March 10th, 2008, 10:35 am

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Please read Simohurtta’s comments to me in the previous thread (p=613), put yourself in Shai’s shoes, and tell me if you’d be nice and relaxed… It’s the kind of tone and insinuations that I hadn’t seen up until now on SC (with the exception of the “previous AIG”, not the nicer one of today…) That kind of thought, is exactly what could cause all the potential moderates and doves out there to remain numb, or give up hope, and just let the die roll however it does.

Naji,

I’m sorry if I offended you in any way. I’m not here to offend anyone, not even avid anti-Israelis like Simohurtta. But I really did “lose my top” when, for the first time on SC, I saw the kind of almost demonization that could do so much harm to any positive image some Israelis are working so hard to achieve. It’s not enough that we have to correct everything with the Palestinians, to prove we’re serious about withdrawing to the 1967 lines in the West Bank and the Golan, to open up our ears, minds, and hearts, to hearing the concerns of those who were oppressed by us for decades. No, now, there’s also the Nukes issue, and Israel’s “mad dog” potential. The religious are nowhere near taking over this country, some 3/4 of the population are 100% secular, and of the remaining 25%, most would NOT want a nation run by the religious. Those “bearded men”, as you call them, would achieve control of our “nukes” (if indeed we have them) only if Israel had a civil war, the secular side would lose, and the IDF took a long vacation in Florida. We’re nowhere near that happening – it is almost science fiction, no matter how much the media you read is hinting at its likelihood.

I can attest to many terrible things that ARE happening in my country, such as unbelievable corruption, huge budgets going to defense spending rather than education and social welfare, etc. A lot of things in Israel are bad (not only our occupation of the Palestinian territories). But to conjure up some theory of some trigger-happy “bearded men” controlling the nukes, and then going crazy like a “mad dog”, and threatening Europe (of all places), and the entire Middle East… that’s just either sheer boredom, or complete surrender to cognitive manipulation by some interested parties. I know a lot of the Arabic media, and especially talks on “the street”, include a whole variety of conspiracy theories, most of which are intentional and ridiculous. But to see you guys buying into this, is almost shocking, I must say.

But you know what, even if it was 100% correct. At least consider your choices, before making blatant insinuations like these. Suppose I’m not the peaceful Shai I pretend to be. Suppose I’m the conspiring Shai that attends the Elders of Zion weekly meetings (in charge of the Nuclear Department). Will your accusations make me more likely to think and act differently? Are you pretending to seek a peaceful future with my people, or are you essentially pointing to all the reasons to continue Arab hatred, distrust, and suspicion towards Israel? What worries me, is that I believe it’s the latter. It may not be intentional, you may be innocently trying to depict reality as you see it, but from my angle, you’re doing terrible damage to any attempt we’re having at bridging our gaps. Let’s talk first about your concerns regarding the Palestinians’ rights, about returning the Golan to Syria, and about making peace happen in our region. The nukes can wait just a bit, I believe, especially as Israel has never acknowledged having them (and for a reason).

By the way, as a super-last point, have you ever considered this: Suppose Israel indeed has nuclear weapons. Is it at all possible that this actually deters some parties from attempting a violent religious takeover of secular countries in the region? The current regime in Iran would probably love nothing better than to see a Shia-controlled Middle East. They are certainly investing a lot of efforts into doing so in Iraq, and in Lebanon. If the Iranian regime ever considered attempting in the future to also take over Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or theoretically even Syria, don’t you think the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons may well deter them from doing so? Isn’t this nuclear-umbrella, in a way, also protecting secular states, that are either already Israel’s partners, or will likely be ones soon? Think about it. I’m not sure you or I can easily dismiss it.

March 10th, 2008, 12:37 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Bravo Shai.

I like to see you get a little menacing. 🙂

March 10th, 2008, 1:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

March 14 to Launch its 1st Conference on Friday

The March 14 coalition announced on Monday it was launching its first conference at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL) on March 14.
The conference under the title “The Spring of Lebanon 2008,” aims at reaffirming March 14’s “existence and spirit,” MP Ghazi Youssef said at a press conference held at Beirut’s Bristol Hotel.

“It is high time for us to meet on the 14th of march and put forth our vision for building a solid, peaceful democracy in Lebanon,” he said.

Youssef said that “we want the world to know, both inside and outside Lebanon” that the gathering to be held on March 14 “is to understand that this is a coalition of political parties that has achieved a very important goal – free Lebanon from Syrian domination.”

March 10th, 2008, 1:18 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

That’s really the last thing I want to do in this forum. I respect the participants, readers, and commentators too much for that. I just really lost my top with some of these comments… Maybe I’ll go for that green shai after all… 🙂

March 10th, 2008, 1:24 pm

 

offended said:

Shai,
I don’t know Simo very much, but I think he’s leftist.
He does come up with good points every now and then. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately? : ) ) I haven’t been following the discussion form the beginning. (I will go back and read it later…)

But I am somehow convinced that Israel possesses some nukes, (I am taking Va’nono’s word for it), whether Israel will use them or not. I really do not know.
You know in the late eighties, when the disarmament (or the nuclear arms reduction) treaty was being negotiated between the Sovs and the Americans; they’ve covered everything down to the ‘notice time’ (the time that should be given from one side to the other in case of real on-site inspection is needed ). That was a part of the ‘verification’ process that took almost one week to negotiate. The Sovs insisted on 24 hours notice time (they still couldn’t digest having American spooks inspecting their nuclear reactor “the pride of the Rodina”). The Americans demanded 1 hour! They finally agreed on 5 hours. The logic for both sides was simple; they both had the capability of destroying he earth 4 times over. Why not reduce to one time and divert all that saved money from maintenance, energy and development costs to other more urgent and more pressing matters?

So I guess what I am trying to say is that these things, can be negotiated and verified, if there was a joint well to do so. Israel will have to understand whether now or later that the guarantor for its future security is not the military superiority. It is the peaceful co-existence with its neighbors. But I know you already know that. : )

Yallah if this matter is making you sensitive and stressful then let’s drop it for now. One thing I’ve learned from this forum is that you have to discard lots of comments specially the personal insults. (for a sample, check out the ‘un’decent exchange between me and Majhool)…..

March 10th, 2008, 1:27 pm

 

offended said:

Shai,
Please be wary that QN is a 14th march supporter who’s trying to spoil the chances of peace and CBMs between Syria and Israel.

March 10th, 2008, 1:31 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

You often speak wisely, and have done so now as well. I agree 100% that for a truly peaceful Middle East, all parties will have to trust one another. And that may well include disarming ourselves of certain capabilities. But we are so far away from it now, and there’s so much to do, which is much more surmountable, and which is urgently needed, so that we do NOT reach a point of contemplating that other “sacred issue”. When Israel feels secure, living in peace amongst its neighbors, I’m sure a lot of issues could be dealt with. But this will literally happen at the earliest, a few generations from now. It’s like Israelis expecting the Arabs or the Palestinians to forgive us tomorrow morning. It’s not realistic, and should not be anticipated. We need to do everything else, so that one day we can indeed reconcile, and have no reasons to fear one another. A tone down of words, and thoughts, is indeed necessary. This is the time to begin chipping away with suspicion and hatred, and open up a new chapter in this region. But things will happen slowly, also on our side, not just yours.

March 10th, 2008, 1:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

Darn! The anti-M14 radar on this blog is too good.

Between you, Ausamaa, and Nour, all my attempts to foil the future peace between Syria and Israel have been uncovered.

Maybe I should consider changing my name and starting all over again, now that my cover has been blown.

March 10th, 2008, 1:44 pm

 

offended said:

lol QN, I am glad you got the joke. 😛
Have they invited you yet to speak at the conference? is it a kind of a parrallel summit that is designed to outshadow or undermine the one in Damascus?

We are suspicious to those March 14 shenanigans you know, today a conference, tomorrow god knows what… o’ssa taweele…

March 10th, 2008, 1:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

Walaw? I’m the KEYNOTE speaker at the conference. And it’s not going to be held at BIEL, as they say. Actually, the US warships are going to come close to the Lebanese shore, and we’re going to hold the conference on the deck of one of them. Just to send the right signal. 😉

Joking aside, I think that the ‘conference’ will be used to make some kind of offer to the opposition. There have been signs of a thaw, in my opinion. A couple of days ago, Franjieh said in an interview on al-Arabiyya “Give me the 1960 electoral law, and take whatever you want,” signalling that Hizbullah and the FPM were conceding their demand for a veto, again. There is already agreement on a president (at least in theory… I still don’t believe that Aoun has come to terms with this).

So, my guess is that M14 will produce a nice big conference, with loud proclamations about their achievements, and their commitment to Lebanon’s siyyedeh, hurriyeh wa istiqlal… and then they’ll make an offer.

They want to keep the attention focused on Lebanon, because there’s a danger that it will get brushed aside at the summit. Israel has played perfectly into Syria’s hands, in this respect, by ramping up the violence in Gaza. It’s given the Syrians a perfect excuse to pressure the Arabs into coming, and also a perfect excuse to NOT discuss Lebanon, because there are more important things happening in Palestine, etc. etc.

So, maybe things will be tied up in Beirut until 2009, as Iran is proposing.

March 10th, 2008, 2:04 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Here’s a very good discussion of the electoral law debate that is taking place in Lebanon at the moment.

In times in like these, it is so easy for the Lebanese to be incredibly depressed about the state of their country, with good reason. After all, Lebanon is once again being used as a battleground between foreign powers, and the Lebanese politicians are once again seeking to use tactics of division rather than unification, in order to hold on to their seats.

But let’s put it in perspective. The debates that are taking place right now are the result of Lebanon’s first real attempt to become a sovereign, democratic nation with equitable and just institutions. From independence to the Civil War, the Lebanese did not have an equal say in their government, and the state institutions were quite weak. From the end of the Civil War until 2005, Syria ran the country. From 2005 until now, the Syrians left but the system and the faces remained the same, albeit with a different tune.

I may be delusional, but I actually draw a great deal of inspiration from the debates that are taking place about the electoral law. People are finally taking this seriously! Only with a proper electoral law that cracks down on issues other than redistricting (such as campaign spending, voter intimidation, etc.) will we have a real sense of what the Lebanese want. Such reforms can only strengthen Lebanon, in the long run. But unfortunately, politics is term to term.

March 10th, 2008, 2:20 pm

 

offended said:

Israel playing into Syria’s hands? that’s a bit far fetched don’t you think ya QN?

Or is this the usual Lebanese ‘ASS’? (Attention Seeking Syndrome)

March 10th, 2008, 2:23 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

Not at all. I didn’t say that Syria told Hamas to increase its rocket attacks on Israel in order to provoke the Israelis into invading Gaza. (Some people have claimed this.)

I simply mean that Israel’s action has benefited Syria. The fatalities in Gaza have made it very difficult for KSA and Egypt to boycott the summit, because it will make them look like they are abandoning the Palestinians. And if they DO go, the agenda might be dominated by the issue of Gaza, with further meaningless condemnations of Israeli aggression, etc. Lebanon will get swept under the rug, which is to Syria’s benefit. (Do you deny that?)

March 10th, 2008, 2:32 pm

 

wizart said:

Shai,

If you’re not sure if Israel has Nukes then how come you’re so sure about who exactly controls them much less how religious they are?

The information below comes from the Arms Control Association:

Biological Weapons:

The Israeli government operates an extensive and sophisticated biodefense program. It has not made public pronouncements on its biological weapons policy nor signed the Biological Weapons Convention, which is widely interpreted as an indication that Israel has some offensive capabilities.

Chemical Weapons:

Israel has signed, but not ratified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. Although the status of its formerly extensive offensive weapons program and stockpile is unknown, there is no doubt that Israel is active in defensive research. Russian intelligence claimed in 1993 that “Israel has a store of chemical weapons of its own manufacture… [and] is capable of producing toxic substances of all types, including nerve-paralyzing, blister-producing and temporarily incapacitating substances and so forth.”[2]

Missiles:

* Ballistic Missiles: Israel fields an arsenal of nuclear-capable Jericho missiles, which are based on French technology and road- and rail-mobile. The Jericho-1 was first deployed in the early 1970s and the 1,500 kilometer-range Jericho-2 followed in 1990. Israel’s space-launch capability indicates it could develop a missile with intercontinental reach.

* Cruise Missiles: Israel has purchased U.S.-origin Harpoon cruise missiles with a range of 120 kilometers. Reports suggest that Israel has modified the Harpoon system to deliver nuclear payloads.[3] It also is believed to have indigenously developed a submarine-launched cruise missile system with a range of up to 900 kilometers.

Nuclear Weapons:

Israel is suspected of having a nuclear arsenal ranging from 75 to 200 nuclear warheads, although it has never officially acknowledged possessing such arms or demonstrated its capability through a nuclear test. Israel officially maintains that it “will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”

In addition to its Jericho missiles, Israel maintains a fleet of nuclear-capable fighter combat aircraft, including U.S.-origin F-16s and F-15s. Independent analysts also believe Israel’s Dolphin-class submarines have been outfitted to deliver nuclear weapons.

How much plutonium Israel has produced is unknown. One independent analyst calculates the amount as roughly 600 kilograms.[4] It is assumed by some analysts that Israel has a uranium-enrichment program, although there is not enough evidence to support a credible estimate of how much highly enriched uranium Israel might have produced.

Conventional Weapons Trade:

Israel has been an important and leading arms client of the United States, but Israel also is stepping up its arms sales abroad. In the process, Israel upset the United States by transferring certain weapons and technologies, including spare parts for unmanned aerial vehicles, to China. Israel and the United States signed a secret memorandum in August 2005 aimed at restricting certain Israeli exports to other countries.[5]

Israel is the one of a few Middle East states that has consistently volunteered its annual arms export and import data to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.

In January 2007, the United States made a preliminary finding that Israel might have violated the use terms of imported U.S. arms, specifically cluster munitions. In a summer 2006 conflict with Hezbollah guerillas located in southern Lebanon, Israel employed U.S.-origin cluster munitions, which are reportedly authorized exclusively for use against clear military targets. Allegations were made that Israel used the weapons more indiscriminately. The United States had suspended cluster munitions exports to Israel for several years during the 1980s because of a finding that Israel had misused the weapons.

Proliferation Record

Israel is not known to have deliberately or significantly contributed to the spread of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to other states, although the extent of Israel’s involvement in South Africa’s previously secret, now abandoned, nuclear weapons program is uncertain.

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

On June 7, 1981, Israeli planes bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, which Israel charged would contribute to an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. That attack did not halt the secret Iraqi nuclear weapons program, which was not exposed and dismantled until the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Israel has not threatened to block negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty at the 65-member Conference on Disarmament, but Israeli leaders have voiced reservations about the initiative.

-Researched and prepared by Alex Bollfrass.

March 10th, 2008, 3:45 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

الخيار بين تحييد لبنان والانتحار الجماعي

… وماذا لو أدّت محاولة “الشقيقة” سوريا – ومن ورائها إيران – إلى “عورقة” لبنان؟
أوَتظن دمشق أنه سيكون في وسعها أن تستمر في مفاوضة اسرائيل “على عينك يا تاجر” كما صار الحال معروفاً باعترافات “العدو” إياه، وان العدو هذا، وحلفاءه، سيستمرون يوفّرون سوريا، أرضاً وشعباً وخيرات وعمراناً (وإرهاباً كذلك!)؟ بينما يدفع الآخرون ثمناً وباهظاً لهذه الحرب؟ وكرمى لمن؟
كرمى لسيطرة سوريا وايران على لبنان وخوضهما حربهما ضد أميركا على أمل الانتصار عليها في “ساحة” الوطن الصغير؟ ومن يقول ويضمن أن أميركا ستجلس صاغرة تنتظر هزيمتها من غير أن تضرم هي النار وتنشر – كما وحدها تقدر، حتى حين لا تتعمّد – الدمار والخراب في كل مكان؟… ومن العراق الشواهد!

• • •

أما آن للبنانيين، كل اللبنانيين ومعاً، أن يعوا ويعقلوا ويرددوا صرخة الرئيس أنور السادات إثر محاولة نقل الحرب على كمب ديفيد الى لبنان أن “ارفعوا أيديكم عن لبنان”؟
وقد أثبتت تلك الحرب أن لبنان وحده تهدّم، ولم يلغَ كمب ديفيد ولا اندحرت اسرائيل أمام الجحافل السورية، بل العكس… جرى احتلال الجولان، ولا يزال، واضطرت سوريا الى أن تلجأ الى كيسينجر (ما غيره) ليفاوض – بديبلوماسيته المكوكية – وقف إطلاق نار تلو آخر بين دمشق والقدس… والفلسطينيون ولبنان يدفعون وحدهم الثمن!!!
مرة أخرى إذاً: “ارفعوا أيديكم عن لبنان”!

• • •

لبنان لن يسالم إسرائيل، ولا حتى يهادنها وحده على حساب أحد لأنه حتى لو أراد فذلك ليس في متناوله!!! والجميع يعرف.

• • •

حيّدوا لبنان أيها العرب (والإيرانيون طبعاً… ويا مجنّدي الشام في لبنان وفلسطين) حيّدوا لبنان كي تسلموا أنتم كما يسلم لبنان ويعود موئلاً لحرياتكم والديمقراطية، والحضارة والإنماء المتنامي وعاصمة الأخوّة الحقّة وحوار الأديان والثقافات. وثقوا أنه عندما يحين أوان “شن الحرب المفتوحة على اسرائيل” لن يكون لبنان الرادع لكم ولا هو يتخلّف، على افتراض أنه يمكن أن يريد…
ولا يلقيّن أحد على لبنان واللبنانيين دروساً في العروبة والوطنية والاستشهاد!
لبنان كان خط الدفاع الأول بل جبهة الحرب الاولى ضد اسرائيل، عقائدياً وسياسياً وديبلوماسياً وفدائياً بل عسكرياً منذ 1948 ايام تهافتكم كلكم على الهدنة، وكان لبنان آخر من وقّع، ساعة عزّ الفدائيون وعزّت الزعامات عند سواه. والأسماء والوقائع شواهد، فلا يُحرجننا أحد.
فليتفضل أهل “الحرب المفتوحة” ويعلنوها من أرضهم ويطلقوا الرصاصة الأولى فيجدونا الى جانبهم، بل متقدمين عليهم…
ولكن ما لا نرتضيه، وليس ثمة ما يجبرنا على القبول به هو أن نُدعى مهلّلين مكبّرين للسير (والفلسطينيين وحدنا) إلى أتون الكبريت، بينما سوانا ينال، ومن بعضنا، المكافأة تلو المكافأة على التزامه السلام ورغبته في المفاوضة.
واذا امعنّا في المصارحة قلنا ان “سوانا” هذا ينعم نظامه بغطاء اسرائيلي وكأنه متراس، يتحصن به ليطلق النار على نظامنا واستقرارنا وسيادتنا وسلامنا الداخلي؟ !! مفهوم؟
لا والله، وكلا… كلا…
فليطفئوا النار لأنها، هذه المرة، متى وإذا اندلعت… لن يكون في وسع أحد حماية أحد آخر من التهامها الأخضر قبل اليابس. ولن يزيدنا حصانة أن تلتهم النار اسرائيل كذلك، هذا اذا التهمتها!
فتبصّروا، وحذار… وقد أعذر من أنذر.
لبنان الحياد الايجابي وحده في وسعه أن يكون خشبة الخلاص العربية والاسلامية من جنون الانتحار المشترك!!!

غسان تويني

March 10th, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Do you honestly think we can engage in a conversation about Israel having or not having nukes? Let’s assume it does, and finished. Like I wrote up above, now is not the time to ask Israel to remove its arsenal of weapons, because no Israeli in his right mind would agree. That is, not until two-three generations have passed AFTER we all live in peace with each other. Just as I cannot ask the Palestinians to forgive me tomorrow morning for oppressing them for so long, likewise you cannot ask me to do away with the only abilities we have to still ensure our survival. When we feel safe enough, perhaps we’ll be open to discussing it. In the same way, Israel will not be able to ask Syria to do away with its chemical or biological weapons. There are far more important, and surmountable challenges to overcome.

March 10th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

offended said:

QN,
I consider myself a knowledgable guy when it comes to Arabic. ضليع

But the word “عورقة ” has never crossed my path before, what does it mean?

March 10th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

wizart said:

Shai,

You’re only partially right because we can both safely assume that Israel does have Nukes (and other WMDs)and will not agree to disarm anytime soon even when most countries have none. The discussion focus is the immediate issue of accountability and the need and lack of U.N inspections and open debate about the ramifications and potential disasters that could occur anytime with ever more increasing war events in the area and the lack of real security for anyone there.

This is a much more fundamental and existential concern than others especially when Israel was willing to use illegal cluster bombs in Lebanon recently in 2006 despite U.S and international objections.

March 10th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Offended,

You shouldn’t blame yourself.

Tueni invented a word: “Iraqizing” (like Balkanizing)

😉

Or rather… (using Bush’s favorite method of inventing words): Iraqification

March 10th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

Majhool said:

Offended,

You seem to ignore very important words in what I say. Let me quote my self one more time and let me CAP key words for you

“I view nationalism as defending the rights OF ALL CITIZENS especially those whom we disagree with. To be nationalist yet paranoid of half of the population does not add up”

“..the minute i talk about the right of the majority to SHARE POWER Norman jumps and talks about how I want the sharia law”

As for sounding sectarian that is typical “regime talk”, the regime goes about excluding the majority from power SHARING and banning a large segment from joining the army and intelligence (very sectarian acts) and when one criticizes it he/she becomes sectarian. A ready off-the-shelf guilty verdict to silence opposition.

March 10th, 2008, 5:59 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

I don’t know what “partially right” means. I didn’t mean to be right or wrong, I meant to say that the discussion around Israel having nukes and its policy of not allowing the IAEA inspectors access to its nuclear installations is pointless right now. If you fear reckless use of this capability by Israel, despite the fact that over the past 40 years, it hasn’t used it even once, then I’m sorry, I can’t help allay your fears. I believe there are a few other less-stable nations around Israel, which possess a good amount of WMD’s as well, which I personally would be more worried about, if I were you. Don’t forget, it’s not Israel that has had endless military coup d’etats, and whose leadership was violently taken out of power (put behind bars for decades), and whose people are subjugated by authoritarian regimes, with access and active programs of WMD’s. You’re worried about instability in Israel? I think you need to look a little closer to home, don’t you?

And yet, you haven’t heard me say even once, that Syria needs to destroy its WMD programs, or that Egypt, KSA, and others, need to forget about their own nuclear programs. That is because I accept that our region is extremely unstable at the moment (more so than ever before perhaps), and as such, many of our nations develop these programs, and acquire these weapons, out of fear. Until the peoples of this region live in peace, no one will give up on whatever means they have of ensuring their survival. A peace treaty between two nations is not enough. Not yet at least. Wishful thinking is something that’s always good to keep around. But we need to stay focused right now, about the pragmatic steps on the ground that need to take place. Right now we need to act, by creating the conditions that would lead Israel to withdraw from the Golan first, and then from the West Bank. This is not the time to pontificate about an irresponsible nuclear Israel.

March 10th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

MAJHOOL,

Very good points you make in your last argument!

March 10th, 2008, 6:42 pm

 

wizart said:

Shai,

Partially right also means partially wrong.

I just prefer to say the glass is half full not half empty.

How could you discount the issue of accountability despite the evidence that Israel used cluster bombs just last year? There are still unexploded bombs killing civilians in Lebanon as we speak?

You discount these issues and keep preaching Democracy despite the fact that your own leaders are not accountable to provide you answers to the questions which have been raised in this space too many times!

March 10th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Are you sure you’re not confusing me with AIG? I’m not discounting any issue of the cluster bombs – the opposite – I’ve said time and again here that I cannot fathom why so many were used, and in the way that they were. I’m also not preaching Democracy, where did you hear me suggest that – the opposite – I discussed right here in this forum yesterday that fact that Israel cannot wait for democracy in Syria, or anywhere else in the region. We must make peace with whoever is in power, and the sooner the better. I do think, though, that we’re not going to get far, if I demand that “your leaders” be held accountable for certain things they’ve done, and you’ll demand the same from “my leaders”. Accountability reminds me of justice. And in the Middle East of today, if you have not noticed, there is no justice, anywhere. Now is not the time to be right, now is the time to be smart.

March 10th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

wizart said:

Shai,

Smart is what smart does.

I think there’s a gap between action and words.

I’ll let you have the final word on this.

Good night and good luck 🙂

March 10th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

For crying out loud, do you REALLY believe the crap he’s talking about and insinuating?

Shai when you say that I speak crap you should atleast try to say what is crap. First Osrik was undoubtedly a small research reactor no weapon factory. Also it was fact that the Kurd gassing happened several years after Osirak.

Israel has threatened several times German spy ships on Lebanon / Israeli coastal waters. That news is easy to find. The Chinese were very eager to come to Lebanon, though they normally are concentrating more in “making business” than in UN peace keeping efforts. Ask yourself why. The Russians are listening to Israel in Golan and have done it for a long. Also that is a fact.

Israel has been actively spying its only ally, USA. That can be verified. It would be naive to think that Israel is not spying in EU area. Equally naive it would not be to think that EU armies and intelligence services are not interested in Israel.

Th fact of Europeans fears about Israel can be validated in the European commissions poll. In that poll 59 percent of Europeans see Israel as the greatest danger to world peace. Why? Indeed why? Israel was extremely angry about this poll. 🙂

Israel is more or less openly speaking about using nukes against Iranian nuclear program. That also can verified in several sources. Actually Israelis threaten Iran more in different interviews and news than Iranians do Israel. Also the slogan “whipping Israel out of the map” is a slogan invented by Israelis. Many reliable sources say that Ahmadinejad did not use those words.

The “sad” fact is that in Israel because its political system the extreme violent religious parties have (too) much political influence, which seems to overrun the rational peace seeking political “forces”. Is the problem really the bearded men with RPGs and kalashnikovs or the bearded men with small black hats with nukes and missiles? It is self-deception to “erase” the extreme religious from the Israeli side and accuse only Muslims for religious extremism.

Let us analyse history. In 1956 and 1967 Israel attacked its neighbours. The tales of pre-emptive attacks are more or less unfounded. Israel attacked an that is a fact. Naturally you can argue against that. The Palestinians are demanded to make insane commitments which they never can come up to. Everybody knows that. On the same time Israel is creating “new facts” on future Palestinian states “ground”. Who would trust such “a system” and counterpart?

Still Shai you haven’t answered my main question. Why has Israel so many nukes and a delivery systems which by any means can be described as normal for a country of Israel’s size. Finland or Sweden do not have such even the countries are about the size of Israel in population and we leave also in a geopolitically rather turbulent area.

Real peace “making” is not that individuals say in internet that lets hope the best and that one day we could enjoy dinner in the neighbours capital. Naturally it brings a couple of people closer. The real important issues must be discussed and solved. And I can’t see any signs that Israel is honestly seeking peace on the contrary the tones are getting more violent and aggressive day by day.

A news of the future possible Israeli PM (Lieberman, the soviet version of trans atlantic Liebermans). Lieberman to Arab MKs: One day we will ‘take care of you’ Hmmm…

March 10th, 2008, 7:15 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Shai,
I don’t know Simo very much, but I think he’s leftist.

No Offended I am not a leftist. I have always voted for the center parties. As long there was a liberal party in Finland I was even a party member. 🙂

In Nordic countries we get rather much information about the Middle East problems. And not only pro-Isreali propaganda of the weak little Israel among the “bloodthirsty” Arabs. One thing for that is that our soldiers have since Suez served there and tried to keep up the peace.

The former Finnish Army commander once said about so:
“When I went to Lebanon as a young army officer I was admiring the small tiny “weak” nation called Israel. When I came back I had a different world view.”

March 10th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

I’m so fed up with your sheer nonsense, that this is truly my last comment to you. I can name 50,000 facts about the Middle East being the most dangerous place on earth, with the most corrupt, authoritarian regimes, which no one will argue, and which are all meaningless, because they move us nowhere except for backwards. Of course the whole world is trying to gather intelligence about Israel, just as the whole world is trying to gather the same about the U.S., Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, France, U.K., Pakistan, India, and whole lot of other nations that are more-stable and less-stable. Everyone spies on everyone, in case you haven’t realized. The days of “gentlemen don’t open each other’s mail” are over, and have been, since WWI. The Europeans, as many others around the world, consider Israel as a major risk to world peace, not because we have nukes, but because we haven’t resolved those issues which make our region very unstable, and which could in potential lead to war. If there will be a major 21st century war here, there’s a good chance that when enough WMD’s will be used, also nuclear weapons will be introduced (perhaps by others, not only Israel), and then indeed the world is going down to hell, as WWIII begins.

I don’t understand why on earth you think I would discuss the reason for Israel having 9 thousand warheads instead of your suggested 10. What use would come out of this discussion? Let’s even say that I’d agree with you, that if Israel has nukes, it should only have 10. Then what? You realistically think negotiators on the Arab side can bring their Israeli counterparts to agree to a 99.9% reduction? Does that make sense to you? Now, when we barely trust each other enough to even meet to talk? Don’t you think you’re preaching about something that should be discussed 10-20 years from now? And where’s all this Liebermann fear coming from? He is extremely far from ever becoming PM of Israel, and Israel is far more stable than any of its neighbors are. Where have coup d’etats occured more, in Israel, or around her? Where have regimes changed hands violently, time and again? Is Lebanon more stable than Israel? Is Syria? Is Iran? And again, if we’ve had nuclear weapons for the past 40 years, and if we are so irresponsible about having them, why haven’t we used them yet? That’s a fair question, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be so much easier for Israel to truly eliminate all of its rivals, using nuclear weapons, instead of thousands of ground troops, or even cluster bombs? So maybe we actually do have nuclear weapons, and maybe even tons of them, but are only leaving them for a truly doomsday scenario, which thus far hasn’t occurred?

We have extremists in Israel (that idiot, Liebermann, for one), and you have plenty of extremists in the Arab and Muslim world as well. So what? Is their elimination a precondition to peace? I certainly hope not, for otherwise there will be no peace. In fact, the only way to make them irrelevant, is to make peace. Here in Israel, at least, we can’t just silence Liebermann by arresting him late at night, dragging him away, and sticking him in some dungeon for 20-30 years. So what do you want to do – talk about irresponsible mad dogs (by the way, calling Israel a “mad dog” says something about what you think of us, I appreciated that.), or talk about peace? You seem to think one is a prerequisite to the other. I am clear about the fact that one is a spoiler for the other. Trust me, no Syria negotiator is going to demand a cessation, or even inspection, of Israel’s nuclear or other WMD program. And no Israeli negotiator will make similar demands of Syria’s.

Like I said to Wizart, now is not the time to be right (just), now is the time to be smart. Talking nuke-talk, and mad-dog, and whatever else you’ll think of about Israel, will not get us closer to peace, only farther.

March 10th, 2008, 7:49 pm

 

Alex said:

I absolutely agree with SimoHurrta and Shai and Wizart and even Majhool and Bashmann …

Let’s go back to being friends.

March 10th, 2008, 11:40 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

I am touched. But yes let’s do that.

March 11th, 2008, 12:03 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

and you have plenty of extremists in the Arab and Muslim world as well. So what?

Well Shai I am not an Arab or Muslim. I am a Christian Finn. Yes I know there are also Christian extrimists. 🙂

Lieberman is an influential figure in Israeli politics. No reason to undermine him. When constantly it is spoken about Muslim extrimists as problem in Middle East it is high time to discuss also the strong and growing religious extremism in Israel.

The Finnish National TV showed some times ago an interesting news about how women in Jerusalem have to sit in the back of buses or otherwise being abused or beaten by religious fanatics. I suppose the news of the “Taleban” side of Israel was true. 🙂

You Shai must understand that the problem in Middle East is not only the less democratic Arab countries + Iran. It is also the theocratic democracy named Israel. The problem is also not only the nuclear programs of Muslim countries and the “maybe nukes in 10 years”. The problem are very much the present Israeli nukes. As said many times before also the Arab countries need security against Israeli aggressions.

If Israelis can constantly speak and critizize Arab countries and Islam, why on earth can’t we not discuss about the problems in Israel and the problems Israel has created?

Here in Israel, at least, we can’t just silence Liebermann by arresting him late at night, dragging him away, and sticking him in some dungeon for 20-30 years.

Well you did it to Mordechai Vanunu when he begun to speak about the real issues. Not to mention the thousands of Palestinians.

Wasn’t Lieberman little time ago a minister of strategical affairs? 🙂

March 11th, 2008, 6:40 am

 

Shai said:

Simohurtta,

I think you’re confusing me with the likes of AIG/AP. I’ve been on SC now a month or two, have had many many conversations with Arabs and non-Arabs about every issue imaginable (except for nuclear weapons), and have been open to hearing basically everything possible. I’ve heard, and accepted, more criticism of Israel than you could imagine. I have never, ever, criticized the extremists on the Arab side. I haven’t searched, or pointed to any Muslim “Lieberman”, despite of course the fact that many exist. I have never pointed out the lack of basic freedoms and human rights in the Muslim world, and the reason why I haven’t mentioned these, is precisely because it doesn’t help!!! My purpose for being here, believe it or not, is to try to bridge gaps between Arabs and Jews, so that one day we can live in peace with each other. I’m not here to discuss all the problems of the region, but rather to seek solutions to the biggest hurdles right now, which aren’t basic human rights, nor the WMD programs of the various nations, including Israel.

There are endless problems with Israel, as I’ve said on so many occasions. We have problems with corruption, with crime, with the religious sector (and the lack of basic freedoms within), with education, social welfare, as well as of course the oppression of the Palestinian people, and holding of their lands, and the Syrians’. I am the last Israeli here to run away from self-criticism, and I think most visitors have already gotten to see that. This is part of bridging the gaps, courage to accept responsibility, and courage to move forward. So when you suggest that it’s time Israelis also accept criticism about themselves, and not just criticize the Muslim world, you’re talking to the wrong guy, I’m not AIG or AP, last time I checked. However, you yourself sounded very much like an AIG (the old version) to me yesterday, by doing almost everything possible to NOT move forward. You insisted on linking Israel’s nuclear program, our irresponsible policies, and our “mad dog” behavior (that really got to me, I must say), to the potential for peace. When I heard that, to me it was just like AIG’s belief that peace cannot occur until the entire region is run by democracies. Those demands, or links, are 100% pure spoilers for any possibility of peace. If Israel demanded that Syria do away with its chemical or biological weapons programs, and if Syria demanded the same of Israel, we’d never sign a peace treaty. We are SO far away from trusting one another, from discarding the decades of hatred and fear (mutual, not just Israeli towards Arab), and there’s nothing rational right now about anything almost, it’s all emotional.

You can argue until you’re blue in the face that Israelis have no right to fear the Arabs, because we’re by far the strongest side, we’re the ones oppressing others, we’re the ones committing crimes against humanity, etc. But you’re still not changing the fact that many Israelis (perhaps most) at this very moment are against a withdrawal from the West Bank and the Golan, because they distrust the Arab side, and fear its intentions. This is a subjective feeling, and you of all people certainly won’t change it. But now is not the time to try to prove to the other side how wrong they are – that can’t and won’t ever work. Right now, the need is to bridge the gaps by suggesting to each side the advantages of peace. Now’s not the time to blame each side for its wrongs, but rather to strengthen each side’s rights. To reach out to one another, and try to create some level of empathy, which could lead to a better understanding, and willingness to take chances in the near future.

As I said, my goal here is to reach out, to embrace rather than isolate, and to remained focused on my goals. I can very easily get distracted, and “pour out” all the frustrations I have about our region, about our enemies, about injustices both at home, and around us. But it won’t help, it’ll make matters worse. Not only will I alienate those potential moderates that need the “rude awakening”, but indeed will further cultivate the innate hatred, suspicion, and distrust of so many Arabs towards Israel and vice-versa. When we’re working so hard to change that image, the last thing I want to do is engage in the most sensitive topic of all (the nuclear one), which triggers our deepest fears (on all sides, not just the Arabs’), and which in any case cannot be dealt with right now. You can assume, that in no peace agreement signed tomorrow morning, will any of the sides commit to a substantial change in its strategic capabilities. Good will of course will be shown, promises will be made to discuss these sensitive matters in the future, and so on. But no one’s arsenal is about to be opened up to discussion, or exposed to any side right now.

Let us go back to focusing on the more surmountable issues, like Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 lines, from the West Bank and the Golan, and how we can achieve this goal. This is the first step on our way to reconciliation between Israel and the Arab world, and this should be our main focus now. Let’s not get bogged down in discussing step seven, which may happen 10-15 years from now, and which may well spoil the whole effort, if we begin discussing it now. There are too many ways to lose this battle for peace, and few ways of winning it. Let’s make sure we get those few, and secure our hold on them, so that we really can make progress, and make peace.

March 11th, 2008, 9:43 am

 

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