Water and Economics in Syria

If you are feeling depressed about the Middle East read Juan Cole’s Top 10 Good News Stories about the Muslim World in 2008. If Syria opens its Stock Market on February 23, as announced, there may be another bit of good news in the region. It is a symbolic part of the opening of Syria’s economy. A friend and advisor to Turk al-Feisal said to me a few days ago, “It is hard to believe that Syria will actually open a stock market. It will be a daily referendum on President Asad, his government, and economic policies.”

Here are news stories about Gaza, Egypt and future prospects for Syria’s water and demographic future.

If you make peace with Israel, you are a loser,” said Hubeichi. “If you make war, you are a loser.” But whether they support Fatah’s diplomatic approach or Hamas’ militaristic stance, Palestinians say they feel despondent….

“We are sad and full of sympathy,” said Ahmad Najjar, a 23-year-old Palestinian carpenter born and raised in the Shatila camp. “I feel fire and anger. I would be ready to fight against Israel. But we can’t do much. We just trust in God.”…

“The people in Gaza are our blood,” said Abdul Latif Abed, a beefy 40-year-old proprietor of a sandwich shop in Shatila who said he lost relatives in the 1982 violence. “When they suffer, we suffer.” 

“We can burn tires. We can demonstrate,” he continued. “But concretely, there is nothing we can do.” [.daragahi@latimes.com]

How Not to Make Peace in the Middle East
By Hussein Agha, Robert Malley
New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 1 · January 15, 2009

… With so much having gone so wrong for so long, basic issues should first be addressed. Among them are the reasons for recurring failures, the effectiveness of US mediation, the wisdom and realism of seeking a comprehensive, across-the-board settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, or even the centrality of that conflict to US interests and the benefits that would accrue to America from its resolution. One also might ponder reasons behind America’s chronic ineffectiveness in persuading lesser powers (Arafat, Hamas, Syria, or Hezbollah) to acquiesce in its demands, a pattern that suggests incapacity to identify local political forces, understand their interests, or comprehend their appeal….

Moubayed: Ex-President Carter to Syria’s Forward Magazine: I’m carrying Assad’s good greetings to Obama

Former American President Jimmy Carter said that Syria and the United States can expect there are “better times ahead” for their bilateral relations. In the first-ever interview for an American president with a Syrian media outlet, Carter told Forward Magazine, Syria’s first English monthly, Carter hinted that the near future will see the return of the US ambassador to Damascus, filling a post that has been vacant since relations plumeted in 2005. Such a move will coincide with re-opening of the American school in Damascus, Carter added, in addition to reopening the American Language Center, both of which were closed by the Syrian government after US warplanes raided the Syrian town of Abu Kamal last October killing 8 civilians. Speaking to Sami Moubayed, Forward’s editor in chief, Carter confirmed that he “will be carrying some good greetings to the leaders of the new administration, through my meeting with President Assad.”

During his visit to Syria, the fifth since 1983, Carter met with President Bashar al-Assad, who he described as “popular among his people.” They discussed Syrian-American relations, in addition to regional developments in the Middle East, including the peace talks between Syria and Israel. Speaking of the involvement of the upcoming administration in Washington, Carter asserted that Obama cannot “put enough pressure on either Syria or Israel to yield on their basic principles.” He added, “My hope and my belief are that there are enough compatabilities between the two parties to reach a final agreement.”

Ehsani writes in the last comment section

The recent events in Gaza must serve as a reality check on the state of affairs in the region. While the discussion of possible peace has taken center stage recently, I have personally been far more skeptical.

Israel is too powerful to concede an inch.

Hamas is too weak to concede an

 inch. They have nothing to lose. They are already too poor and too hopeless to worry about further losses and concessions. When you are already pushed so far over the edge, you stop worrying about even death.

Syria’s leadership has little room for error. One mistake and it is all over. It is fully aware that it is surrounded by enemies that are waiting for a slip up that would ensure its quick and bloody demise. Conceding an inch is simply out of question. The status quo has worked for nearly forty years. Why change?

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are too dependent on the U.S. for economic and political survival. In return, they are rewarded the title of “moderates and allies”.

The United States will never be an impartial participant in this conflict. The Presidency of Mr. Obama is unlikely to bring any fundamental changes to the way the country deals in the region. Israel will continue to receive all the support it needs to ensure that it offers as little concessions as possible.

In the meantime, the demographics in the region are frightening. Syria’s population doubles every 30 years. When 200,000 jobs need to be created a year today to absorb the growing labor force, think of what is come by 2030. This scenario is likely to play out in country after country in the region. Yemen, for example, will be home close to 100 million people over the next forty years based on current demographic trends.

Such demographic trends need an urgent response. Regrettably, there is none coming. Standards of living are most likely going to fall sharply with time. Economic growth needs to be at least double in every country in the region. In reality, We will be lucky if we can maintain the current trends. There is just too much corruption, nepotism, state control, absence of property rights and a lack of a functioning judicial system to allow for faster economic growth.

While feels the need to paint a more optimistic picture at the start of this new year, the reality is that the region faces enormous challenges going forward. Rather than peace and prosperity, I predict further ethnic and religious tensions coupled with falling standards of living and economic stagnation in a sea of dictatorships.

Participants of this forum will of course be spared. We can at least opine, argue, dream and participate in cyberspace from the comforts of our computer desks.

Trustquest writes:

The water resources of the Barada basin which sustain the people and agriculture of Damascus have decreased some 25% from their level 5 years ago. Over the past 30 years, the population of Syria has doubled. They are pumping from the deep aquifer which needs thousands of years to replenish itself.

DRY AQUIFERS IN ARAB COUNTRIES AND THE LOOMING FOOD CRISIS
Elie Elhadj, in MERIA, Volume 12, No. 3 – September 2008.

In this article, the inefficient investment that Saudi Arabia and Syria undertook in irrigation and agricultural development in the recent decades and Egypt’s perilous course in hydropolitics will be discussed. …

Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Egypt represent useful case studies to ponder. The three countries demonstrate that in spite of the profound differences among Arab monarchies and republics in types of governance, ideologies, political agendas, natural resources, and climate conditions, they nonetheless share in common national decisionmaking processes that produced financially wasteful and environmentally damaging strategies. These case studies approximate sociopolitical models found in other Arab monarchies and republics…..

The Syrian Government: A Bad Farmer

Unlike Saudi Arabia, agriculture in Syria has for millennia supported large population centers and produced thriving civilizations along rivers and coastal areas. Of Syria’s landmass (185,000 sq. km), 25 percent is arable.[25]

Spending by the Syrian government on irrigation and agricultural development has been substantial but inefficient. Beginning in 1960, the eight five-year plans that followed invested about $20 billion on the agricultural sector (at the official foreign exchange rates of that period).[26] Three-quarters of the investment was made between 1988 and 2000.[27] However, the results have not been brilliant; 550,000 hectares, or 45 percent of the country’s total irrigated surface, were added during this period, of which the government contributed 138,000 hectares[28] and the private sector developed the rest. Ninety percent of the 138,000 hectares (124,000 hectares) was in the salt-affected and drainage-poor Euphrates Basin–gypsum in the soil caused the irrigation networks to collapse. In the Euphrates Basin 43 percent of the land was identified by the World Bank as having drainage problems or potential to develop problems in the future.[29]

The government started in 1968 building the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River. Made in the Syrian national discourse as one of the government’s proudest achievements, the Tabqa Dam failed to achieve its targets. The plan was for the dam to increase by 2000 the irrigated surface in the Euphrates Basin by 640,000 hectares.[30] By 2000, only 124,000 hectares, or 19 percent of the target had been achieved.[31]

Land reclamation cost was high, estimated at $25,700 per hectare.[32] At such costs, it would be practically impossible to make a reasonable rate of return on the investment. A 10 percent return translates to $2,570 per hectare, over and above the cost of production.

The Tabqa Dam wastes a huge volume of water to evaporation, estimated at 1.6 billion m3 annually.[33] While this volume could theoretically satisfy the drinking and household water needs of Syria’s 19 million inhabitants, most cities have been suffering severe water shortages for years, including the capital Damascus, which suffers daily water shut-offs during the blazing summer months lasting over fifteen hours.

The loss of water to evaporation is all the more significant in light of Turkey’s 50 percent cut in the flow of the Euphrates River into Syria and Iraq, which resulted from the construction of the huge GAP project in eastern Turkey. Turkey reduced the flow to Syria and Iraq to 500 m3 per second in accordance with a protocol for the distribution of the river’s waters signed on July 17, 1987. Turkey started construction of the Keban Dam in 1966, two years before Tabqa’s start of construction.[34]

The non-financial returns from the government’s emphasis on investment in agriculture were poor as well. Under Syria’s vulnerable economic circumstances and despite the government’s commitment to the welfare of the agricultural sector, the migration from rural communities to urban centers continued. The ratio of rural to total population has declined since 1961, from 63 percent to 48 percent in 2000.[35] Reliance on capricious rainfall was not reduced either. In 1989, wheat production was 1 million tons; in 1995, it jumped to 4.2 million tons; in 1999, it dropped to 2.7 million tons; and in 2007, it increased to 4.5 million tons.[36] Estimates for 2008 are for a harvest of around 2.5 million tons.

Over-extraction of groundwater has deteriorated Syria’s environment seriously. Irrigation extractions beyond the volume of renewable water have led to negative balances in five out the country’s seven basins,[37] thus reducing the quantity and degrading the quality of the remaining water reserves.[38]

Like Saudi Arabia, food independence is impossible for a country like Syria to achieve. Syria’s population of about 19 million requires about 19 billion m3 of water annually to grow its food needs. Yet as the above table shows, Syria can provide only 15 billion m3 from irrigation and rain combined. The gap will get bigger as Syria’s population grows.

The World Bank concluded that Syria’s government “will need to recognize that achieving food security with respect to wheat and other cereals in the short-term as well as the encouragement of water-intensive cotton appear to be undermining Syria’s security over the long-term by depleting available groundwater resources.”[39] Of Syria’s 13 billion m3 in irrigation water use, almost a third (4 billion m3) is used in cotton irrigation.[40] In spite of these difficulties, a Ministry of Irrigation Strategy report revealed Syria’s commitment to increasing the irrigated surface between 2000 and 2020 by 493,000 hectares in five of the country’s seven basins; 181,000 hectares of which in the Euphrates Basin.[41]

Eventually, with continued water over-extraction, irrigated lands will be abandoned, investments written off, and food production halted. Coupled with Syria’s narrow GDP diversification and dearth in foreign currency sources from exports, food imports would become increasingly difficult to afford. Whenever this happens, the negative impact on rural communities and societal order could be shattering.

A country like Syria would be better off beginning to focus its efforts on investment in export industries in order to generate sufficient foreign currencies to buy food in the future instead of continuing to invest in white elephant irrigation schemes.

Lessons from Saudi Arabia and Syria’s Experience

From the above, it may be concluded that money and water can make a desert bloom until either the money or the water runs out. Food self-sufficiency in arid and semi-arid countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria is more of a romantic dream than a reasoned strategy. The above table shows that slogans and political economics aside, food self-sufficiency in Arab countries is impossible to attain or sustain. Growing populations and insufficient water resources make such a strategy unrealistic…..

Robert Fisk: The rotten state of Egypt is too powerless and corrupt to act
Thursday, 1 January 2009

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt a country where ‘the idea of service has simply ceased to exist’

There was a day when we worried about the “Arab masses” – the millions of “ordinary” Arabs on the streets of Cairo, Kuwait, Amman, Beirut – and their reaction to the constant bloodbaths in the Middle East. Could Anwar Sadat restrain the anger of his people? And now – after three decades of Hosni Mubarak – can Mubarak (or “La Vache Qui Rit”, as he is still called in Cairo) restrain the anger of his people? The answer, of course, is that Egyptians and Kuwaitis and Jordanians will be allowed to shout in the streets of their capitals – but then they will be shut down, with the help of the tens of thousands of secret policemen and government militiamen who serve the princes and kings and elderly rulers of the Arab world.

Egyptians demand that Mubarak open the Rafah crossing-point into Gaza, break off diplomatic relations with Israel, even send weapons to Hamas. And there is a kind of perverse beauty in listening to the response of the Egyptian government: why not complain about the three gates which the Israelis refuse to open? And anyway, the Rafah crossing-point is politically controlled by the four powers that produced the “road map” for peace, including Britain and the US. Why blame Mubarak?

To admit that Egypt can’t even open its sovereign border without permission from Washington tells you all you need to know about the powerlessness of the satraps that run the Middle East for us.

Open the Rafah gate – or break off relations with Israel – and Egypt’s economic foundations crumble. Any Arab leader who took that kind of step will find that the West’s economic and military support is withdrawn. Without subventions, Egypt is bankrupt. Of course, it works both ways. Individual Arab leaders are no longer going to make emotional gestures for anyone. When Sadat flew to Jerusalem – “I am tired of the dwarves,” he said of his fellow Arab leaders – he paid the price with his own blood at the Cairo reviewing-stand where one of his own soldiers called him a “Pharaoh” before shooting him dead.

The true disgrace of Egypt, however, is not in its response to the slaughter in Gaza. It is the corruption that has become embedded in an Egyptian society where the idea of service – health, education, genuine security for ordinary people – has simply ceased to exist. It’s a land where the first duty of the police is to protect the regime, where protesters are beaten up by the security police, where young women objecting to Mubarak’s endless regime – likely to be passed on caliph-like to his son Gamal, whatever we may be told – are sexually molested by plain-clothes agents, where prisoners in the Tora-Tora complex are forced to rape each other by their guards.

There has developed in Egypt a kind of religious facade in which the meaning of Islam has become effaced by its physical representation. Egyptian civil “servants” and government officials are often scrupulous in their religious observances – yet they tolerate and connive in rigged elections, violations of the law and prison torture. A young American doctor described to me recently how in a Cairo hospital busy doctors merely blocked doors with plastic chairs to prevent access to patients. In November, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm reported how doctors abandoned their patients to attend prayers during Ramadan.

And amid all this, Egyptians have to live amid daily slaughter by their own shabby infrastructure. Alaa al-Aswani wrote eloquently in the Cairo paper Al-Dastour that the regime’s “martyrs” outnumber all the dead of Egypt’s wars against Israel – victims of railway accidents, ferry sinkings, the collapse of city buildings, sickness, cancers and pesticide poisonings – all victims, as Aswani says, “of the corruption and abuse of power”. Opening the Rafah border-crossing for wounded Palestinians – the Palestinian medical staff being pushed back into their Gaza prison once the bloodied survivors of air raids have been dumped on Egyptian territory – is not going to change the midden in which Egyptians themselves live.

Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah secretary general in Lebanon, felt able to call on Egyptians to “rise in their millions” to open the border with Gaza, but they will not do so. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the feeble Egyptian Foreign Minister, could only taunt the Hizbollah leaders by accusing them of trying to provoke “an anarchy similar to the one they created in their own country.”

But he is well-protected. So is President Mubarak.

Egypt’s malaise is in many ways as dark as that of the Palestinians. Its impotence in the face of Gaza’s suffering is a symbol of its own political sickness.

Syria sticks by Hamas but still seeks peace with Israel
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Dec 31, 2008

 DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria does not want to put pressure on Hamas in its conflict with Israel, diplomats said on Wednesday, although the Israeli assault on Gaza has harmed prospects for a Syrian-Israeli peace deal.

“Everyone wants this to end. The question is, how? Egypt and Saudi Arabia want Hamas to stop firing rockets, but given the ferocity of the Israeli response Syria will not be party to any solution that punishes Hamas,” one of the diplomats said in the Syrian capital.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad set out his viewpoint at talks this week with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, a staunchly pro-Israeli republican law maker who regularly visits Damascus, where Hamas’s exiled leaders are based.

A source familiar with the meeting said Assad told Specter Israel’s offensive jeopardized the chances of peace in the long run. The way to deal with Hamas, Assad told Specter, was to stop asking Syria to pressure the group and push for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the source said….

Another European diplomat said championing Arab resistance served Syria well. “The Syrians see Arab governments like Egypt as getting undermined as a result of this, not them,” the diplomat said. 

Syria has said the Israeli attacks have ruled out a resumption of indirect talks with Israel any time soon, although Specter said after meeting Assad that the Syrian president was still interested in pursuing peace with Israel….

Syrian officials have dismissed Israeli demands to cut support for Hamas and Lebanon’s Shi’ite movement Hezbollah and distance itself from Iran as a pre-requisite for peace.

But they say Syria’s external posture could change if a deal with Israel was achieved.  …

Behind closed doors, U.S. seeks Israel exit strategy
By Paul Richter

Washington is worried that a prolonged campaign in the Gaza Strip could bolster the Palestinian Hamas movement. It wants Israel to set a timetable.

Regional impact of the war on Gaza, 01 Jan,

Gaza attack strengthens Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood By Joseph Mayton, The Media Line, January 1, 2008 Rarely do Egyptian demonstrations see thousands of people take to the streets. But, put together anti-Israeli and anti-government sentiments spearheaded by the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, and the result is the country’s largest street action since the first anniversary of the American invasion […]

Moderate Arab States Feel Popular Anger By ROBERT F. WORTH

….The polarization appears to have ended a thaw that had taken place in the past year, Mr. Masri said. Syria had been reaching out to the West and holding indirect peace talks with Israel. Lebanon’s political factions had reached a peace deal. Syria and Saudi Arabia had made gestures toward resolving their feud. ….

Revive la resistance
By Nathan Field, January 02. 2009

To its detractors, Egypt’s government appears to be working with the US and Israel against the Palestinians. Israel’s assault on Gaza may cripple Hamas, but it will embolden those in Arab politics who would rather fight than talk….. In Egypt, huge protests have erupted with an intensity not seen in recent years.

But Israel’s air strikes, taking Hamas as their putative target, have highlighted a rift in the Arab world that has been evident since Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections…..

What is Hamas?, by Sara Roy

 Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.

Comments (113)


Jad/2 said:

– Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent

The National

January 01. 2009

http://thenational.ae/article/20090101/FOREIGN/106187521

” Israel apparently hopes to persuade the Hamas leadership, as it did Arafat for a while, that its best interests are served by co-operating with Israel. The message is: forget about your popular mandate to resist the occupation and concentrate instead on remaining in power with our help.

” In the fog of war, events may yet escalate in such a way that a ground invasion cannot be avoided, especially if Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel. But whatever happens, Israel and Hamas are almost certain in the end to agree to another ceasefire.

” The issue will be whether in doing so, Hamas, like Arafat before it, loses sight of its primary task: to force Israel to end its occupation.”

– William Sieghart: From The Times December 31, 2008

“Last week I was in Gaza…” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5420584.ece

January 2nd, 2009, 8:30 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Dear Josh,

Thank you for linking the paper by Elie Ellhadj on the looming food crisis. I had not seen it before. It is outstanding.

January 2nd, 2009, 9:47 pm

 

norman said:

Israel is preparing to enter Gaza .

January 3rd, 2009, 1:06 am

 

trustquest said:

Water and other natural resources give very grim picture from the unfriendly Syrian censuses bureau site for 2008:

Elie Elhadj from soas water resources group has covered the subject of water shortage in Syria pretty well.

See his paper No 47: http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/our_research/projects/waterissues/papers/38390.pdf

Follow up on all papers at regarding hydrological issues at in the Middle East at large: http://www.soas.ac.uk/research/our_research/projects/waterissues/papers/occasional-papers.html

January 3rd, 2009, 1:31 am

 

Rumyal said:

For US and Canada based individuals who are interested in street action:

http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=1773

January 3rd, 2009, 1:33 am

 

norman said:

Two points,

The dam on the Euphrates was not done only to increase used land for agriculture , It was done to prevent flooding which used to claim the lives of many Syrians every year,

The need for water will probably force the Mideast countries to work together , one idea which can work well is to transfer water from the dam on the Euphrates to the sea of Galilee , it could be done through pipes so water would not lost through evaporation, the land between the Euphrates and Damascus is a land that can be used , I would probably use an idea similar to contacting land for oil exploration and would give the land for agriculture to the private sector for a return of about 20% of the produce ,

About the farmers who are leaving their land to go to the urban areas , It is simple , they are doing that because the income they get in the urban areas is better , so Syria should do what the US is doing subsidise the farmers by paying higher price for their produce or leaving them to get the price they can get in the private sector by exporting their produce.

January 3rd, 2009, 2:03 am

 

trustquest said:

Norman
In the Elie paper, three solutions were suggested to water shortages:
1- inter-basin transfer from Euphrates basin
2- Barad/Awaj Basin
3- inter-basin transfer from costal basin

The three solutions was studied and the paper found that the expense for the 3rd is $1.22. m3, the 1st solution is $0.41/m3 and the economic one is 2nd solution $0.15/m3.
The economic solution was the second on.
The second solution suggests to use water resources only for human consumption and to forget about irrigation completely.

Your last point was also addressed, the real reason is failure to administer population growth and the resources and the allocation of population and resources.

January 3rd, 2009, 2:34 am

 

norman said:

TQ,

tell me about the second choice , from what i remember Barada has been drying up since the late seventies , i thought by now it would have been dry .

January 3rd, 2009, 2:44 am

 

trustquest said:

The reason for the water crises in Barada/Awaj basin summed by Elie as:
“Causes of the household water crisis in the greater Damascus region:
The domestic water crisis in the greater Damascus region is the product of: 1.A)
decades of insufficient investments in WSS facilities. 1.B) Unsustainable water use in
irrigation, leading to high level of illegal groundwater extraction. 1.C) Higher population
growth rate than the average for the rest of the country. The combined effect of these
factors has become increasingly evident over the past three decades, especially during
periods of drought. These three factors will be discussed in this section.”

One of the big on going disastrous of mismanagement caused by the structural of the system, which has and still allow for uncontrollable well digging for irrigation which rendered the basin close to dry. ( see the number of un permitted wells compared to permitted ones).
The paper suggests the abandoning the irrigation all together as per second solution and making the area of the Barada Basin dependant on other agriculture areas in coastal plain, Euphrate basin or what ever closer producer. This is the only viable economic solution and will have a big social consequence and inherently risky on agro prices since historically each basin was self dependant.

January 3rd, 2009, 3:07 am

 

norman said:

TQ<

Thank for trying to inform me , But i do not think that i get it.

That study was 4 years ago , could something have changed.

I thought Syrians do not use a lot of water for personal use,

January 3rd, 2009, 3:37 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman
Not much has changed since Elie’s good studies. I agree with his summation of the reasons for the water cricis in Damascus.

Yet, and while i really I like Elie’s work, I think the reality of the situation in terms of “Syrian Government” being a bad farmer is more complex than it is being presented. Off course this is not a defense of past reclamation practices, which focused on flood (ghamr) irrigation without accounting for drainage, especially in the areas with high soil salinity and without appropriate soil surveys to determine both crop and water retention suitability of reclaimed land. Even with appropriate drainage, the saline return flow from upstream farms will make downstream irrigation impossible as it degrades downstream water quality rather badly.

However, it is not only Syria that will face a food crisis as population grows. Worldwide (developing world that is), Most of the expected growth in population will be in rapidly expanding mega-cities. As such, competing demands for water are becoming sharper by the day, and notwithstanding all of the alarms about regional and international water conflicts, the biggest water conflicts will undoubtedly be internal conflicts at the national level as the ever expanding cities will demand a larger share of the national water withdrawal, as well as a larger supply of food stuff (not only grains, but persihable items which are harder to import and must be grown either locally, or in close by regions. Agriculture, which in most developing countries gets the lion’s share of renewable and non-renewable water withdrawalsm will be hard pushed to reduce its consumption for water and at the same time increase its productivity, a scenario that is near impossible under state controlled investments (instead of state-supported) in agricultural efficiency. The water battle between city-factory on the one side and farms on the other will continue to be fought in the western US, and will soon spread to many other countries. In Syria and other developing countries, imporved lifestyle, will also result in residents of cities using more water for personal use (more showers, washing machine, dishwashers) as larger sectors of city dewllers aspire to modern life amenities.

As metioned by TQ, evaporation from dams is a major concern, and in general, it is taken into account during the design process of any reservoir as the reservoir capacity is identified. Yet, one of the most important issues is that most dams are designed under the assumption of stationary hydrometeorology, which means both constant long-term mean and variance of streamflow. This is not the case anymore for various reasons including significant anthropogenic changes to land-cover, up-stream interferences, as well as evident increases in annual and inter-annual variability of rainfall and runoff even with the long term mean being almost the same. From a pure engineering perspective, increased variability means that there will be a need for increased storage, especially for multi-purpose dams, which must be managed very carefully and can only be managed nowadays using risk-based decision theory under uncertainty (predictive uncertainty).
Modern management of water resources requires, among other things,
1. Establishment of water laws, or “doctrines” which recognize that ground-water and surface water are interconnected and that views both as a single resource that must be managed conjunctively and under a single hydrologic accounting system.
2. Improved seasonal climate forecasting and enhancing the ability of decision makers to recognize and deal with the probabilistic nature of seasonal climate forecasts
3. Improved efficiency not only in agriculture, but also in reducing waste within the network from entire network level to individual building/household (leaks account for a staggering amount of water losses, especially in old badly maintained networks )
4. Improved governance and participation in water management decisions, particularly at local levels
5. Regional collaboration at basin-aquifer- hydro-ecological regions’ level and a lot of negotiations
6. In water stressed areas, water reuse must be an integral part of the water resources system planning

January 3rd, 2009, 8:02 am

 

offended said:

To anyone of the kind doctors here: in the case of events that is taking place in Gaza, what do you think would be the most needed medical supplies for hospitals there?

thanks….

January 3rd, 2009, 12:11 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

From last February, a doctor in Shifa hospital in Gaza reported: “There is a shortage in beds, in drugs, in resuscitation devises, in needles, medical supplies and blood.” “

Here’s last year’s article from Ynet: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3513552,00.html

In another article from 4 days ago, I found this:

“The head of the international cooperation department of Gaza’s health ministry, Medhat Abbas, told IRIN: “Al-Shifa has never received hundreds of patients all at once. Hospital staff are using sheets to staunch bleeding, and many patients have died because of the lack of supplies and equipment.”

A statement issued by the Israeli branch of Physicians For Human Rights, an NGO, on 30 December said: “The Israeli attack finds the current health system in the Gaza Strip in a state of total collapse due to the harsh siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for a year and a half, and the closure preceding it.”

Abbas reported a shortage of staff, including nurses and surgeons, at Al-Shifa, which is in desperate need of antibiotics, tubes, urine bags, dressings and gloves for emergency operations. The hospital was already facing shortages of medicines and medical supplies due to the Israeli blockade.

Here’s that article: http://yubanet.com/world/Gaza-s-main-hospital-struggling-to-cope.php

I’ll try to find more info regarding specific drugs and medical supplies.

January 3rd, 2009, 12:55 pm

 

norman said:

Offended,

Antibiotics are always needed,

OTW,

That was an informative summery,

How about desalination nuclear plants,?

January 3rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

 

Observer said:

In some cave in a mountain, a bearded turbaned man is smiling. This incredible narrow policy of Israel and its colonies in the Arab world will be the best fertile ground for more radicalism. I call this policy the “ostrich policy” of sticking your head in the sand and this applies to the US, to the EU, and to Israel and its colonies.

There will be mass migration to areas where water is located, and there will be demands for a sharing of wealth on a global scale. If we think in the West that we can continue to sit in our backyards and have our nice barbecue when the rest of the hungry and desperate world is looking over the fence on our way of life, then we are in deep trouble.

I believe that the EU is aiming to decouple its economy from that of the US. I believe that the effort to surround Russia and bring it to its knees has failed. I believe that China will consolidate its regional influence after this economic disaster, and I believe that the dollar will be dethroned as the ultimate reserve currency unless significant world wide controls are imposed on the US financial system.

The UN is obsolete as a forum to solve anything, and in the ME, there is no escape from a unification of the region by force: force of the necessity to use resources and find common solutions, the problem is that the current leaders are in the dark ages interested in a steady supply of Viagra and hair coloring to hide their senility.

What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia. Now they are stuck in this rotten place and stuck in a mentality of siege and holocaust fear that is truly the ultimate disaster hindering any hope for a stable future of the Jewish people.

January 3rd, 2009, 2:38 pm

 

Sean A said:

I know a few people who work in the Irrigation Ministry in Syria (as of last year, anyway). They spoke with pride about being able to provide water for their fellow countrymen. I’ll be curious to see if adjustments or changes are made to improve that situation, in addition to solving the food and rising prices crises facing the country.

January 3rd, 2009, 4:58 pm

 

offended said:

Shai & Norman, thanks.

January 3rd, 2009, 5:11 pm

 

objective said:

Dear Joshua,

I’d like to tell you, that there will be HUGE WAR in the Middle East during the upcoming 15 Years.

One of the main battles will take place in Syria. results of that are unknown as one of the main objectives of this war, the end of the Syrian Regime.

Huge events will shock you during the upcoming 15 years starting from this year and during the upcoming War.

Mark My Words. Try to Remember them when that happens.

Peace.

P.S: I love Syria. I hate the West. but things happens. and unfortunately, we can NOT prevent them.

January 3rd, 2009, 5:39 pm

 

offended said:

have we been visited by a certified fortuneteller? 🙂

January 3rd, 2009, 6:22 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Finnish tv news just said that Israel has sent ground troops to Gaza.

I must wonder what those idiots in Israel are thinking to win.

January 3rd, 2009, 6:50 pm

 

norman said:

You have to have winners and losers , I think Hamas will come out a winner , continued war is the only solution to get Arab rights,

Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation
By IBRAHIM BARZAK and JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writers Ibrahim Barzak And Jason Keyser, Associated Press Writers
16 mins ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israel’s military says ground forces are crossing the Gaza border in an escalation of Israel’s week-old offensive against the territory’s militant Hamas rulers.

Israeli TV channels are broadcasting images of troops marching into Gaza after nightfall. The military confirmed a ground operation was under way.

Defense officials say around 10,000 soldiers have massed along the border in recent days.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Artillery units joined Israel’s Gaza offensive for the first time Saturday while warplanes and gunboats pounded more than 40 Hamas targets and a mosque where 10 people were killed.

Airstrikes waned during the day but gathered pace after dark Saturday. In a sign that the offensive was entering a new phase, military officials said Israeli artillery units attacked Gaza for the first time, something that could signal a ground invasion is nearing.

“We will do all that is necessary to provide a different reality for southern Israel, which has been under constant attacks for the past eight years,” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 TV.

Israeli defense officials said some 10,000 troops, including tank, artillery and special operations units, were massed on the Gaza border and prepared to invade. They said top commanders are split over whether to send in ground forces, in part because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties but also because they believe Hamas already has been dealt a heavy blow.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were classified discussions.

At the same time, international cease-fire efforts were also gaining momentum. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting the region next week to try to end the violence, and President George W. Bush and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon both spoke in favor of an internationally monitored truce.

But Hamas, in its first reaction to the proposal on Saturday, reacted coolly to the idea of international monitors.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 in response to intensifying rocket fire by Hamas militants in Gaza. The operation has killed more than 430 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. counts. Four Israelis have also been killed, and rocket attacks on southern Israel persist.

The Israeli army would not say when the operation might end, repeating its position that it would continue as long as necessary. But officials confirmed that the number of airstrikes is down, from more than 100 a day in the first days to 60 or so a day now.

The use of artillery fire raised the possibility of higher civilian casualties. Artillery fire is less accurate than the precision-guided bombs and missiles used by the air force.

An artillery shell hit a house in Beit Lahiya after nightfall, wounding many people, said members of the family living there. Ambulances could not immediately reach them because of the resulting fire, they said.

One airstrike hit a mosque in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing 10 people and wounding 33, seven critically, according to a Palestinian health official.

The Israeli army also struck the homes of two Hamas operatives, saying the buildings were used to store weapons and plan attacks. Hamas outposts, training camps and rocket launching sites also were targeted, it said.

The army also struck the American International School, the most prestigious educational institution in Gaza. The school is not connected to the U.S. government, but it teaches an American curriculum in English.

The airstrike demolished the school’s main building and killed a night watchman. Two other Palestinians were killed in a separate airstrike, while four others, including a mid-level militant commander, died of wounds sustained earlier, Gaza health officials said.

Early Saturday, it dropped leaflets in downtown Gaza City ordering people off the streets.

Palestinian militants fired at least 10 rockets into southern Israel, lightly wounding one person, police said. One rocket scored a direct hit on a house in the southern city of Ashkelon and another struck a bomb shelter there, leaving its above-ground entrance scarred by shrapnel.

The Israeli airstrikes have badly damaged Gaza’s infrastructure, knocking out power and water in many areas and raising concerns of a looming humanitarian disaster.

Israel briefly opened its border Friday to allow nearly 300 Palestinians with foreign passports to flee the besieged area. The evacuees told of crippling shortages of water, electricity and medicine.

Maxwell Gaylard, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinians Territories, estimated that a quarter of the Palestinians killed were civilians and a “significant number” of the dead were women and children. He said some 2,000 people have been wounded in the past week.

“There is a critical emergency right now in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Israel denies there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and has increased its shipments of goods into Gaza. It says it has confined its attacks to militants while trying to prevent civilian casualties.

While ground troops remained poised to enter Gaza, Israel also has left the door open to a diplomatic solution, saying it would accept a cease-fire if it is enforced by international monitors.

This latest round of violence erupted after the expiration of a six-month cease-fire that was repeatedly marred by sporadic rocket attacks on Israel.

Israel’s call for international monitors appeared to be gaining steam.

At the United Nations, Ban urged world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate cease-fire that includes monitors to enforce the truce and possibly protect Palestinian civilians.

In Washington, Bush on Friday branded the rocket fire an “act of terror” and outlined his own condition for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups.

“The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful cease-fire that is fully respected,” Bush said in his weekly radio address.

The spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, Taher Nunu, said the group would not allow Israel or the international community to impose any arrangement, though he left the door open to a negotiated solution.

“Anyone who thinks that the change in the Palestinian arena can be achieved through jet fighters’ bombs and tanks and without dialogue is mistaken,” he said.

With time running out on the Bush presidency, the crisis in Gaza is likely to carry over to President-elect Barack Obama. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued telephone diplomacy to arrange a truce, but said she had no plans to make an emergency visit to the region.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delayed a planned trip to the United Nations so he could meet with Sarkozy and a high-level EU delegation on Monday. He now plans on speaking at the U.N. on Tuesday, said Abbas aide Saeb Erekat.

At the U.N., Abbas is expected to urge the Security Council to adopt an Arab draft resolution that would condemn Israel and demand a halt to its bombing campaign in Gaza.

Abbas, whose forces in Gaza were ousted by Hamas in June 2007, still claims authority over the area.

The council is expected to discuss the draft resolution on Monday. But the United States said the draft is “unacceptable” and “unbalanced” because it makes no mention of halting Hamas rocket attacks.

The Israeli offensive has sparked large protests around the world over the past few days. Tens of thousands rallied Saturday in about a dozen European countries against the Israeli action. Some hurled shoes at iron gates near the British prime minister’s residence in London, in an echo of the Iraq journalist who angrily threw his shoes at President George W. Bush while he was visiting Iraq last month.

Tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs demonstrated in the northern town of Sakhnin, by far the biggest protest in Israel so far. Marchers held Palestinian flags and a smattering of green Hamas flags. But there were no reports of violence.

___

Josef Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Ben Feller in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.Questions or CommentsPrivacy PolicyTerms of ServiceCopyright/IP Policy

January 3rd, 2009, 7:04 pm

 

offended said:

The objective of the Israeli ground assault is laughable, they want to take on the areas where the rockets are fired from.

what kind of stupid objective is that?

January 3rd, 2009, 7:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Offended,

Every other day the “objective” will change. At first, it was to serve a major blow to Hamas, then it was to destroy Hamas, then it became to deter Hamas from shooting the Qassams, and now it’s to capture the launch areas. Tomorrow, it’ll be to destroy its morale. The next day, it’s weapon labs. And later in the week, to annihilate its Hummus-making capabilities. And in the meantime, thousands more will die.

And where will we be a month from now, after the world has finally awakened and forced all sides to step down? Right back where we were last Saturday, less a few thousand people, and with even-greater motivation for vengeance. But hey, if it’s good enough for the campaign (election one, that is), it’s good enough for me… Let’s go get those Commie-bastards!

January 3rd, 2009, 7:46 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

There was a demonstration in tel Aviv against the war in Gaza by Israeli peace activists… almost ten thousand Israelis took part in it. Some were beaten by police and were accused of being unpatriotic.

Strange. Haaretz did not report it.

I am watching live on Aljazeera … huge explosions. Probably the Israeli army is trying to destroy power stations and fuel reserves.

Ehud Barak said that he is ready for any thing that might take place along Israel’s northern border.

Egyptian foreign minister is frustrated that the security council is taking its time before it demands a cease fire (yeah sure).

And the presidency of the European Union stated that Israel’s ground operation is defensive in nature.

Dozens of Hamas gunmen killed as IDF ground troops enter Gaza (ch2)

Sarkozy is arriving to the region with a plan.

Anti war demonstrations worldwide are in the thousands but increasing in frequency.

Arab leaders (the “moderate ones”) want to give Israel more time to finish off Hamas, but their people will revolt if they see Israel on its way to succeed in defeating Hamas.

I think Israel can punish Hamas without exposing Mubarak and the king of Jordan to too much popular pressure. But Israel can not “destroy” Hamas without regional losses to the “moderate” allies.

January 3rd, 2009, 8:25 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Yes, I know about the demonstration – I was supposed to be there tonight, but my wife and two daughters decided to get sick on me, so I stayed at home to help them. I know many people there, and they did say there was some violence. But from what I heard, arrests were carried out more on the Pro-Gaza Operation rally (that tried to oppose the one against it). I don’t know why Haaretz.com didn’t report on it, but Ha’aretz in Hebrew, Ma’ariv and Ynet did.

I don’t know what kind of leaders in our region think Hamas can be destroyed. When I tried to explain this to my friends, I told them to consider, whether if Russia invaded the U.S., it could destroy the Republican party. Maybe Israeli leaders are like Bill Cosby, who once told his kid “Son, I brought you into this world, and I can take you right back out…” We helped create Hamas! And now we’re sorry we did? Even the Netivot mayor, an important Likudnik, strongman for Bibi, says Hamas is the only address, and that sooner or later, we’ll talk only to them.

But Barak, Livni, and Olmert know better… And, they need to electorate votes more than Bibi does. Oh sorry, this operation is about the Global War Against Terrorism. I forgot.

January 3rd, 2009, 8:40 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Shai will you to Gaza if you as an reservist are called? If the answer is yes then stop to blame the Germans and Austrians who were forced to the frontiers and their offspring born after WW2 (like me – partly). Germans and Austrians (like my mothers older cousins had no option when demanded than to go to Stalingrad and die there) could not disobey or could but would have lost their life. Israelis still can do that moral decision Jews so often demand individual Germans should have then had to make, and face only prison time, not certain death as the German cannon food.

Well the IDF soldiers who now attacking Gaza must feel equally “proud” as the German soldiers attacking Warsaw Ghetto. Lets hope that history will put both “groups” to the same category (where they belong).

Remember Shai when you argued some weeks ago that the analogy between Nazi time and Israeli’s action is not valid because Israel is not planing massacres on “industrial” scale. Well seems that you were wrong. Thousands dead now will certainly change Israel’s and Jews in general future. Certainly not to a safer future.

By the way Shai do the majority of Israelis really believe in that Israeli propaganda trumpeted by numerous Israeli officials on all major tv channels that “we left Gaza and hoped they would concentrate in building their economy, but the bad guys rewarded with us with rockets”. If they do you certainly do not have a so free press “you” claim. If Israelis believe that propaganda crab then they should believe that Warsaw Ghetto was an independent “state” under Jewish authority.

January 3rd, 2009, 11:36 pm

 

Sol said:

On 1/3/09 8:40 pm Alex wrote,
“There was a demonstration in tel Aviv against the war in Gaza by Israeli peace activists… almost ten thousand Israelis took part in it. Some were beaten by police and were accused of being unpatriotic.

Strange. Haaretz did not report it.

They actually did report it,
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1052326.html

January 3rd, 2009, 11:53 pm

 

Naji said:

“they should believe that Warsaw Ghetto was an independent “state” under Jewish authority”…

January 3rd, 2009, 11:55 pm

 

norman said:

I wounder how the Jews will feel if the Muslims start attacking synagogues and Barmitvas , will they count that as the cost of war.

The problem is that the Muslims and the Jews believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth , so expect long term war and revenge.

January 4th, 2009, 12:17 am

 

norman said:

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m

——————————————————————————–

Last update – 01:41 04/01/2009
Arab reconciliation / Egypt-Syria rift
By Zvi Bar’el

The intensification of the military operation in Gaza has not yet led to a similar increase in the Arab states’ diplomatic efforts. A lasting diplomatic solution to the Gaza situation demands more than an agreement between Hamas and Israel – it demands pan-Arab reconciliation.

Turkish Prime Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s shuttle diplomacy took him to Saudi Arabia yesterday, and it seems he is now coming to understand the tremendous weight of the mission he has taken upon himself.

The opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is a vital condition for a cease-fire, but Cairo fears letting Hamas control the crossing will bring it Arab and international recognition, while Cairo will be left responsible for the Strip.

For its part, Syria is striving to obtain Hamas recognition that would grant it and Iran positions of influence in any future diplomatic process.

Saudi Arabia has adopted the Egyptian stance, which sees Hamas as the primary culprit for the current situation, and both countries have a double account to settle – with Hamas, for not adhering to the provisions of the 2007 Mecca Agreement, intended to end the group’s feud with Fatah, and for sabotaging the planned November summit in Cairo; and with Syria for torpedoing talks between the rival groups.

The result is that for now, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are opposing a special Arab League summit to discuss the Gaza crisis, as such a meeting would likely obligate Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, thus releasing Israel from its responsibility over the situation in the Strip, Egyptian leaders fear.

Cairo is still trying to convince Hamas to accept its proposal’s most basic criteria, which call for placing a small number of Palestinian Authority monitors at the Rafah crossing, so that European Union monitors, whose presence is conditioned on that of their Palestinian colleagues, will agree to come, too.

Such a move would open the crossing, and free Egypt from responsibility for events in Gaza, and from Arab pressure that it open the crossing. Hamas, advised by Syria and Iran, has until now rejected the Egyptian proposal, and is demanding all crossings to Gaza be opened as an essential condition to any cease-fire.

In order to overcome the inter-Arab crisis, Turkey is trying to push its own two-stage plan. The first stage involves both sides holding their fire, and an international peacekeeping force placed at the Israel-Gaza border modeled after the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon. Turkey is offering its own forces for the job. If the cease-fire holds, the second stage can go into effect, in which Turkey mediates between Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt to draft an Arab agreement for reconciling Hamas and Fatah, after which Palestinian elections may be held.

In the meantime, the Turkish proposal seems like a distant vision that can offer no immediate solution to the fighting.

——————————————————————————–

/hasen/objects/pages/PrintArticleEn.jhtml?itemNo=1052340

close window

January 4th, 2009, 12:29 am

 

norman said:

It looks very clear that the conflict is not between Shia and Sunni , It is between the countries that want peace at any price including the submission to the well of Israel and the US and becoming client states of them,and these are KSA, Egypt, Jordon and Abbas and the countries and organizations that will not accept anything less than the international law and the security council resolutions and are will to fight forever to reach that point , if these countries like Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran have the well to fight a long war , They will win.and it is a war that never stopped , while battles come and go the war what count and until Israel defeat the Arabs once and for all and force them to surrender it did not the war and will not win the war it’s only chance is to use it’s advantage to reach a solution.

January 4th, 2009, 12:48 am

 

Joe M. said:

Norman,
No matter the technology of their weapons, 6 million outsiders will never defeat 350 million indigenous. The zionists are simply digging their own grave deeper and deeper every day. You are right. I don’t know when, but we will win. There is no other option. The only thing that keeps Israel alive is that it is willing to use amazing levels of violence. But not even they can sustain this brutality, and eventually we will be victorious.

January 4th, 2009, 12:57 am

 

Shual said:

Simohurrta,
“had no option when demanded than to go to Stalingrad” is … very wrong.

Hilter himselve was asked in 1940 to decide how to deal with deserters. He undersigned an order AGAINST excessive use of death penalties.*** [family commitments/problems – youts, ect.] Some special camps, like in Torgau [later the “famous” russian death camp] were constructed based on the example of [political] KZs. The most of the cases were dealt under the old military law of 1872. Until 1943 desertion was no problem.

Hitler and the system changed the directives in 1943. Death squads were buildt and the judges went more and more litentcious. The judge-system itselve only produced 22 000 deaths, about 5% of regular desertions. Death squads of the SS several x00 000.

*** There are reasons for that behaviour. Not only the political autonomy of the Wehrmacht … a large part of germans took that political back door. In the second wave [1938] of NS-recruiting -party membership- there was a high pressure to step into the party. Many families sent their sons into the Wehrmacht or other non-political institutions, which were considered equal in comparison to the folkish system of the NSDAP and their institutions. Thats why you can find both types of “reasons” behind the war crimes. A part, especially higher and middle ranks of the Wehrmacht, were indoctrinated by the NS-Ideology. A large part, especially in the lower ranks not, but indoctrinated by the war. Orders [like to kill intellectuals] were not challenged out of advisability. We can see that later in rules in POW-camps: “Who is not able to work earns nothing to eat.” Ideologic component = “Untermensch”-law. Rational component = non-productiveness. Dynamic development of both parts and nobody there to stop it for years.

Yes, an there you have the main and key difference between the war of the Nazis and the Gaza war today. Gaza war is planned by the military. The ideological indoctrination [border protection] does not include any single thing of the NS-Ideology. Its not even possible to find “Zionism” in the military plan. Politicians can only have influence and do not lead. You can not find [first stage]-advices of politicians like “kill all Gaza intellectuals immediately, then communists and arabs and all other enemies of Israel and jews.” And the IDF does not give away the responsibilty.

What happens is enough.
Target-Advisability of the IDF. “We called those 4 woman and 11 children to leave the house. If they don’t leave we will killed them.” Thats a crime and it will be forever a crime.

January 4th, 2009, 2:55 am

 

Averroes said:

Gilad Atzmon – Living on Borrowed Time in a Stolen Land
=======================================================

Communicating with Israelis may leave one bewildered. Even now when the Israeli Air Force is practicing murder in broad daylight of hundreds of civilians, elderly persons, women and children, the Israeli people manage to convince themselves that they are the real victims in this violent saga.

Those who are familiar intimately with Israeli people realise that they are completely uninformed about the roots of the conflict that dominates their lives. Rather often Israelis manage to come up with some bizarre arguments that may make a lot of sense within the Israeli discourse, yet make no sense whatsoever outside of the Jewish street. Such an argument goes as follows: ‘those Palestinians, why do they insist upon living on our land (Israel), why can’t they just settle in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any other Arab country?’ Another Hebraic pearl of wisdom sounds like this: ‘what is wrong with these Palestinians? We gave them water, electricity, education and all they do is try to throw us to the sea’.

Astonishingly enough, the Israelis even within the so-called ‘left’ and even the educated ‘left’ fail to understand who the Palestinians are, where they come from and what they stand for. They fail to grasp that for the Palestinians, Palestine is home. Miraculously, the Israelis manage to fail to grasp that Israel had been erected at the expense of the Palestinian people, on Palestinian land, on Palestinian villages, towns, fields and orchards. The Israelis do not realise that Palestinians in Gaza and in refugee camps in the region are actually dispossessed people from Ber Shive, Yafo, Tel Kabir, Shekh Munis, Lod, Haifa, Jerusalem and many more towns and villages. If you wonder how come the Israelis don’t know their history, the answer is pretty simple, they have never been told. The circumstances that led to the Israeli Palestinian conflict are well hidden within their culture. Traces of pre-1948 Palestinian civilisation on the land had been wiped out. Not only the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians, is not part of the Israeli curriculum, it is not even mentioned or discussed in any Israeli official or academic forum.

In the very centre of almost every Israeli town one can a find a 1948 memorial statue displaying a very bizarre, almost abstract, pipe work. The plumbing feature is called Davidka and it is actually a 1948 Israeli mortar cannon. Interestingly enough, the Davidka was an extremely ineffective weapon. Its shells wouldn’t reach more than 300 meters and would cause very limited damage. Though the Davidika would cause just minimal harm, it produced a lot of noise. According to the Israeli official historical narrative, the Arabs i.e., Palestinians, simply ran away for their lives once they heard the Davidka from afar. According to the Israeli narrative, the Jews i.e., ‘new Israelis’ did a bit of fireworks and the ‘Arab cowards’ just ran off like idiots. In the Israeli official narrative there is no mention of the many orchestrated massacres conducted by the young IDF and the paramilitary units that preceded it. There is no mention also of the racist laws that stop Palestinians[1][1] from returning to their homes and lands.

The meaning of the above is pretty simple. Israelis are totally unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause. Hence, they can only interpret the Palestinian struggle as a murderous irrational lunacy. Within the Israeli Judeo- centric solipsistic universe, the Israeli is an innocent victim and the Palestinian is no less than a savage murderer.

This grave situation that leaves the Israeli in the dark regarding his past demolishes any possibility of future reconciliation. Since the Israeli lacks the minimal comprehension of the conflict, he cannot contemplate any possible resolution except extermination or cleansing of the ‘enemy’. All the Israeli is entitled to know are various phantasmic narratives of Jewish suffering. Palestinian pain is completely foreign to his ears. ‘Palestinian right of return’ sounds to him like an amusing idea. Even the most advanced ‘Israeli humanists’ are not ready to share the land with its indigenous inhabitants. This doesn’t leave the Palestinians with many options but to liberate themselves against all odds. Clearly, there is no partner for peace on the Israel side.

This week we all learned more about the ballistic capability of Hamas. Evidently, Hamas was rather restrained with Israel for more than a long while. It refrained from escalating the conflict to the whole of southern Israel. It occurred to me that the barrages of Qassams that have been landing sporadically on Sderot and Ashkelon were actually nothing but a message from the imprisoned Palestinians. First it was a message to the stolen land, homes fields and orchards: ‘Our beloved soil, we didn’t forget, we are still here fighting for you, sooner rather than later, we will come back, we will start again where we had stopped’. But it was also a clear message to the Israelis. ‘You out there, in Sderot, Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Haifa, whether you realise it or not, you are actually living on our stolen land. You better start to pack because your time is running out, you have exhausted our patience. We, the Palestinian people, have nothing to lose anymore’.

Let’s face it, realistically the situation in Israel is rather grave. Two years ago it was Hezbollah rockets that pounded northern Israel. This week the Hamas proved beyond doubt that it is capable of serving the South of Israel with some cocktail of ballistic vengeance. Both in the case of the Hezbollah and the case of the Hamas, Israel was left with no military answer. It can no doubt kill civilians but it fails to stop the rocket barrage. The IDF lacks the means of protecting Israel unless covering Israel with a solid concrete roof is a viable solution. At the end of the day, they might be planning just that (link).

But this is far from the end of the story. In fact it is just the beginning. Every Middle East expert knows that Hamas can seize control of the West Bank within hours. In fact, PA and Fatah control in the West Bank is maintained by the IDF. Once Hamas takes the West Bank, the biggest Israeli population centre will be left to the mercy of Hamas. For those who fail to see, this would be the end of Jewish Israel. It may happen later today, it may happen in three months or in five years, it isn’t matter of ‘if’ but rather matter of ‘when’. By that time, the whole of Israel will be within firing range of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israeli society will collapse, its economy will be ruined. The price of a detached villa in Northern Tel Aviv would equal a shed in Kiryat Shmone or Sderot. By the time a single rocket hits Tel Aviv, the Zionist dream will be over.

The IDF generals know it, the Israeli leaders know it. This is why they stepped up the war against the Palestinian into extermination. The Israelis do not plan upon invading Gaza. They have lost nothing there. All they want is to finish the Nakba. They drop bombs on Palestinians in order to wipe them out. They want the Palestinians out of the region. It is obviously not going to work, Palestinians will stay. Not only they will they stay, their day of return to their land is coming closer as Israel has been exploiting its deadliest tactics.

This is exactly where Israeli escapism comes into play. Israel has passed the ‘point of no return’. Its doomed fate is deeply engraved in each bomb it drops on Palestinian civilians. There is nothing Israel can do to save itself. There is no exit strategy. It can’t negotiate its way out because neither the Israelis nor their leadership understand the elementary parameters involved in the conflict. Israel lacks the military power to conclude the battle. It may manage to kill Palestinian grassroots leaders, it has been doing it for years, yet Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning.

Israeli leaders understand it all. Israel has already tried everything, unilateral withdrawal, starvation and now extermination. It thought to evade the demographic danger by shrinking into an intimate cosy Jewish ghetto. Nothing worked. It is Palestinian persistence in the shape of Hamas politics that defines the future of the region.

All that is left to Israelis is to cling to their blindness and escapism to evade their devastating grave fate that has become immanent already. All along their way down, the Israelis will sing their familiar various victim anthems. Being imbued in a self-centred supremacist reality, they will be utterly involved in their own pain yet completely blind to the pain they inflict on others. Uniquely enough, the Israelis are operating as a unified collective when dropping bombs on others, yet, once being slightly hurt, they all manage to become monads of vulnerable innocence. It is this discrepancy between the self-image and the way they are seen by the rest of us which turns the Israeli into a monstrous exterminator. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from grasping their own history, it is that discrepancy that stops them from comprehending the repeated numerous attempts to destroy their State. It is that discrepancy that stops Israelis from understanding the meaning of the Shoah so can they prevent the next one. It is this discrepancy that stops Israelis from being part of humanity.

Once again Jews will have to wander into an unknown fate. To a certain extent, I myself have started my journey a while ago.

January 4th, 2009, 4:26 am

 

offended said:

Norman 🙂

In this day and age, very few believe in turning the other cheek. Even the most pacifist.

January 4th, 2009, 4:55 am

 

norman said:

Offended,

The Israeli action leaves no chance for turning the other cheek ,
and leaves no chance for a peaceful solution , I just hope the Arabs will not accept the cease fire which is only planed to provide Israel with more time to settle the West bank and the Golan , It is time to continue fighting until they get out of the land and abide by international law,the Arabs only need the well to fight, a war like Iraq which cost the US 8 billion /month will drive Israel to Bankruptcy.

January 4th, 2009, 5:05 am

 

norman said:

to all ,

I do not know what is so difficult to know the best way for the Palestinians and the Syrians to get their just rights ,

Just look at history it is so simple,

The Golan has been quiet for 34 years , now look around , Israel is still in the Golan and more than 80% of the Israelis want to stay there , now look at south Lebanon , the Lebanese fought for their land and Israel got out in 2000,and at that time 80% of Israelis were for that .

Now look at the West bank, Abbas has been doing everything Israel wants including attacking Hamas , he practically eats what they give him to eat , we still see Israel in the West bank and i do not see any signs of leaving ,with settlements being expanded .

Now look at Gaza , they fought back and made the lives of the settlers miserable , and endagered the lives of the soldiers that were protecting them ,

Israel left even though they knew that Hams has no intention of stopping their attacks ,

As we can see that Israel only left areas that they faced resistant so all peaceful ways will not work and if the Palestinians want their rights they have to fight for them and if rockets were flying from the west bank israel would be back behind 1967 border and happily doing that and thanking God that the Palestinians accepting these borders ,

The same can be said about the Golan , so if Syria wants the Golan it should be willing and fighting for it otherwise Israel will stay there forever and Syria will keep saying that our choice is peace , why does not Israel believe that , it is simple Israel thinks of that as weakness , Israel has to suffer to convince it’s people to leave.

And that is my take,

January 4th, 2009, 5:10 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman
I feel awkward talking about water management while watching the ongoing massacre. Can we pick up this topic later under better circumstances.

For now, here is a relevant post from Huffingtonpost. It is not as damning of the Israel as Gilad Atzmon’s writing above, but its is telling nonetheless.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bromwich/rules-of-engagement-from_b_154669.html?view=print

David Bromwich
Professor of Literature at Yale
Posted January 1, 2009 | 02:23 PM (EST)

Rules of Engagement from Baghdad to Gaza

In the days before Israel’s overwhelming retaliation, Hamas — the anti-Israel terrorist sect and democratically elected majority party in Gaza — harassed the towns bordering Gaza with missile attacks that made ordinary life impossible. It was a matter of chance that not one Israeli was killed by the missiles. Six days ago Israel launched its response: the first stage of a collective punishment which was six months in the making. Round-the-clock attacks by American-built F-16s and Apache helicopters targeted Hamas militants, and also hit the civic institutions of Gaza: a police school, an interior ministry, a president’s guest house, a university. AFG Global Edition reported on December 30 that the first three days of the Israeli attacks saw 373 Palestinians killed (including 39 children) and 1720 wounded. Hamas fired into Israel more than 250 rockets and mortar shells. Four persons in Israel were killed and about two dozen wounded.

As American politicians have been careful to say, Hamas provoked the attack. But go back to the blockade of Gaza by air, land, and sea — trace all the oppressions of the siege that after January 2006 turned this arid strip of land into a prison where fuel and electricity are non-existent and most ambulances do not run — and cause and consequence become more complex. “Disproportion” hardly suggests the dimensions of the slaughter apparent in the unevenness of the two sets of figures above.

There is a word for the straightforward killing of enemies by a superior force where the victims are sparsely equipped and the odds one-sided. Much of the world is calling Israel’s actions in Gaza a massacre. By contrast the American press has been cleansed and euphemized. “3rd Day of Bombings,” said the New York Times headline on December 30, “Takes Out Interior Ministry.” Takes out. The Times paid an involuntary homage to George W. Bush: “I think it’s a good thing for the world that we took out Saddam Hussein.” Under that phrase are half a million Iraqis killed and a country destroyed. And for Israel in Gaza?

The U.S. and Israel share many things. A form of government, it is sometimes said; a set of ideals. But much more in the past ten years the U.S. and Israel have shared a fantasy. The fantasy says that the Arabs understand only force. It says we can end terrorism by killing all the terrorists. The neighbors of the terrorists will be overawed. No new terrorists will be created. Finally, when every face on the president’s fifty-two card deck is crossed out and the known composition of Hamas is dead, we can “address the social conditions” that foster terrorism. But perhaps there are no such conditions. Do the terrorists not hate for hate’s sake?

You can see the shape of the fantasy most distinctly in the writings of those journalistic enablers who move into position as soon as either country starts a war that needs interpreting. “It was Israel at its best,” writes Yossi Klein Halevy, a typical war broker, in a New Republic column posted on December 29. “In response to random attacks aimed at civilians, Israel launched precise attacks aimed at terrorists.” Halevy does not add that the precise attacks killed almost 400 persons and that one death in every four was civilian.

Another war broker on Gaza has been David Brooks. In a column of January 29, 2006 entitled “The Long Transition,” Brooks pointed out that democracy often leads to “bad choices.” The people of Gaza, said Brooks, in electing the Hamas government had made a bad choice. This error he attributed to the “traumatic phase” in the gradual maturing of “a romantic, revolutionary people.” It was the duty of America and Europe to teach the Palestinians to choose again until they choose right. The task was “to isolate Hamas” and devote our energies to “finding and fostering” an opposition to Hamas. The siege of Gaza, the rejection by Europe and America of the Palestine Unity Government, and the attempted insurrection in Gaza by Fatah thugs bankrolled by the same powers, might all be said to be pardoned in advance by such a salutary intent.

But a fantasy is no wilder than the methods it answers for; and Israel and the U.S. now hold as common property a whole school of counterinsurgency tactics. The citizen of Baghdad who said of the wall General Petraeus built to separate the good from the bad, “This reminds me of another wall,” was only saying what many Arabs must have thought when they reflected on the “surge” in Iraq and its precursor in the West Bank. Israel has most often, these past few years, been the teacher and the United States the pupil. An article by Dexter Filkins in the New York Times on December 7, 2003 reported that the rules of engagement used by the U.S. in Iraq were modeled on the Israeli rules for Gaza and the West Bank. On the other hand, what is happening now in Gaza is plainly modeled on the American “shock and awe” in Iraq; it derives indirect permission from the fact that Americans never regretted that first stage of what we did to Iraq. Also, somewhere in back of the Israeli methods are usually American equipment and an American brand name. Apache helicopters and F-16s for the missiles and the bombs, and a Caterpillar bulldozer to reduce the house to rubble.

There is one art of peace that Israel might have learned from the United States: equal rights and citizenship for all the people of the country. But this, Israel has not learned, and in the nature of its constitution it cannot learn without a radical change of self-definition. The difference ought to be a fact of some interest to the first non-white president-elect of the United States; but the response of Barack Obama to the slaughter in Gaza has been a nerveless silence. “If somebody,” he said last summer, “was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” He has left it at that, for now, and made no comment on Israel’s showing this week of the scale of obliteration that lies in its power.

Obama would not in fact do everything, he would not destroy a city of innocent people. But one may note the resonance of “everything,” a word that crept into his usage once before and revealingly, in his AIPAC speech. There, Obama said three times that he would do everything to assist Israel against a threat from a nuclear Iran. When Israel is on the minds and the Israel Lobby script is in the mouths of American politicians, every statement takes on a quality at once categorical and unreal.

We have stopped thinking for long enough. We might start again with a definition. A terrorist is not a function X, the compacted essence of evil. A terrorist is someone who kills and approves the killing of undefended civilians to achieve political ends. Thus the Israeli commander who ordered the attack on the university in Gaza was an agent of state terror. The Hamas soldier who fired the missile that killed an Israeli woman yesterday was an agent of guerrilla terror. But terrorists, too, act from motives. To suppose their only instinct is a fevered hatred of everything we are is to yield to madness. Kill them all becomes the only imaginable policy then. Kill them, or else install a dependency so sweeping and abject that not a man in Gaza mounts a bicycle, not a woman crosses a street, not a child eats a morsel of food but by permission of the Israel Defense Forces. It is hard to see what else the current actions of Israel are looking toward.

The Democratic party grandee Ann Lewis said recently (as quoted in an excellent Salon column by Glenn Greenwald): “The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.” The statement is absurd. No country ever gave another country so blind a endorsement. Such a pure identification of interests would amount to the signing away of the conscience of the nation that granted it. We cannot make our fidelity a pawn for another’s injustice; and more than conscience forbids it. Prudence also does. Even in the depths of the Second World War the U.S. never said it would support every decision made by the people of Britain, nor did it say in the Cold War that it would do whatever the people of Formosa wanted, or what the people of West Germany wanted. Such a surrender of judgment, even if it were practicable, would be a curse that harms the receiver as much as the giver. To support without question the decisions of any person or any people, is to accept a standard of friendship or fealty above the standard of right and wrong. Do that, and you resign yourself to a world of injustice.

The eighteenth-century moral thinker Joseph Butler once gave us one of those sentences that are so true they earn a separate life for themselves. “Every thing,” said Butler, “is what it is, and not another thing.” Gaza is not Iraq then. Mumbai is not New York, and the contests against terrorists are not the War on Terror. Butler also asked once in passing: “Why might not whole communities and public bodies be seized with fits of insanity, as well as individuals?” We have seen it happen in our time. This surmise received vivid confirmation from the head of an IDF rocket unit in Lebanon who told the Haaretz reporter Meron Rappaport in a story published on December 9, 2006: “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”

Israel and the United States have evolved, almost behind our backs, from the countries we read about in histories to militaristic societies widely seen as oppressors by those on the wrong end of our adventures abroad. Israel has the better excuse, driven half mad by threats and wars and the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada; but a series of queasy concessions to the fanatical colonists who are sometimes miscalled “settlers” have deformed its politics from within. The U.S. may now be the country with the stronger hope, and therefore the stronger partner. Anyway one thing is sure. When an allied nation goes out of itself, in the same sense in which a person may be out of himself, the work of a friend is to say no and no again and refuse to give the self-destruction our blessing.

January 4th, 2009, 5:37 am

 

Off the Wall said:

I think that with this recent war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, it has become obvious that the two states solution is now finally dead, or in fact, killed by Israel. Any view on this?

January 4th, 2009, 5:52 am

 

norman said:

OTW ,

For their deeds , The Jews are deemed to be hated for the rest of time, They should blame only themselves.

January 4th, 2009, 5:56 am

 

norman said:

OTW,

I do not see any chance for one or two stats solution, It is war until one party surrender, It is time to change this chronic disease to an acute one.

January 4th, 2009, 6:00 am

 

offended said:

I wonder who makes strategic decisions for Israel? This whole military operation strikes me as very shortsighted and ill planned.

I spoke with many people who I deem apolitical and they told me how much they turned to hate Israel for its oppression of the Palestinians. And there was no second thought Yesterday, even amongst the seculars, that they wish Hamas prevails in the conflict. Probably not because they love extremism, but because they HATE OPPRESSION.

The funniest thing is when Israeli officials come on TV and say things like: “Gaza’s people are happy we’re pounding Hamas”

Happy? Who are they fooling?

January 4th, 2009, 6:10 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman
I very respectfully disagree with the broad generalization in comment 40. As for comment 41, I am afraid that the chronic disease has been causing some rather acute flareups, one of which might prove to be fatal to all.

January 4th, 2009, 6:23 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

OTW & Norman,

It’s too premature to say. Israel will be hated only by the arabs for a long time and their opinion is irrelevant. If Israel does eventually agree to a semi-realistic peace agreement the rest of the world will quickly forget their oppressive past.

As for the one state solution, it is highly unlikely since it would constitute as demographic suicide for Israel. They would rather reach a peace agreement that would give up the west bank, east Jerusalem & golan before accepting a one state solution so i wouldn’t count on it.

January 4th, 2009, 6:32 am

 

offended said:

I hate to go off the topic of the Israeli aggression but this article from Vanity Fair is very interesting:

How did one two-term presidency go so wrong?

“Richard Clarke, chief White House counterterrorism adviser: We went into a period in June where the tempo of intelligence about an impending large-scale attack went up a lot, to the kind of cycle that we’d only seen once or twice before. And we told Condi that. She didn’t do anything. She said, Well, make sure you’re coordinating with the agencies, which, of course, I was doing. By August, I was saying to Condi and to the agencies that the intelligence isn’t coming in at such a rapid rate anymore as it was in the June-July time frame. But that doesn’t mean the attack isn’t going to happen. It just means that they may be in place.

On September 4, we had a principals meeting. The most telling thing for me about the attitude of these people was on the decision that had been pending for a long time to resume Predator [remote-controlled drone] flights over Afghanistan, and to now do what we couldn’t have done in the Clinton administration because the technology wasn’t ready: put a weapon on the Predator and use it as not only a hunter but a killer.

We had seen bin Laden when we had it in the Clinton administration, as just a hunter. We had seen him. So we thought, Man, if we could get this with a hunter-killer, we could see him again and kill him. So finally we have a principals meeting and the C.I.A. says it’s not our job to fly the Predator armed. And D.O.D. says it’s not our job to fly an unarmed aircraft. ”

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/02/bush-oral-history200902?printable=true&currentPage=all

January 4th, 2009, 6:56 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Many families sent their sons into the Wehrmacht or other non-political institutions, which were considered equal in comparison to the folkish system of the NSDAP and their institutions.

Shual I do not catch the point of what you are trying to say in your comment. Both German (during WW2) and Israeli armies were/are based on compulsory military service. Every man (and woman in Israel) had to go if is medically fit. Families sent their sons – what a crap is that propaganda. You Shual can consider was it easier in Nazi Germany or in present Zionist Israel to refuse to enter to wars or monstrous actions against defenceless civil population.

A soldier has to to obey the orders if the order is not in conflict with general moral ground rules (which without doubt are little “blur”). What is the moral difference if a German soldier was ordered to shoot in a Ukrainian Jewish village or an Israeli tank crew now is ordered to shoot in a civil house of Gaza? Or an IAF “hero” pilot shooting a missile against a mosque where he knows are numerous people in a religious service. A war crime is a war crime even when they are done by the soldiers of generalissimos Barak or Adolf Hitler.

Shual your rather unclear comment of the German untermensch laws is somewhat funny. Israel has equal laws. You can’t deny that.

Some special camps, like in Torgau [later the “famous” russian death camp]

Torgau (a town in Germany) had two normal military prisons during the Nazi time. What had it to do with the “famous” Russian death camp?

Yes, an there you have the main and key difference between the war of the Nazis and the Gaza war today. Gaza war is planned by the military. The ideological indoctrination [border protection] does not include any single thing of the NS-Ideology. Its not even possible to find “Zionism” in the military plan. Politicians can only have influence and do not lead. You can not find [first stage]-advices of politicians like “kill all Gaza intellectuals immediately, then communists and arabs and all other enemies of Israel and jews.” And the IDF does not give away the responsibilty.

Complete idiocy. IDF and IAF work under political system not as an independent secular peace keeping organization. IDF and IAF are in self the military machine of Zionism. One can say with excellent grounds that IDF does what the political Zionist demands. And that the most fierce Zionist are in the ranks of IDF. Most Israeli politicians have earned their “wings” in the less defensive wars. IDF is the university of Zionism.

Surely you Shual must admit that the level of destructing the administration, economic, education, religious etc systems in Gaza goes far beyond the pure military aims and is pure attempts to destroy the societies possibilities to function.

January 4th, 2009, 7:25 am

 

offended said:

Although I am not a fan of religious extremism, there’s no question whose side I am on right now: I am with those resistors out there in the open: alone, unafraid and unswerving.

Those with their backs to the bare wall and with nothing to lose. Those who won’t give it up even if they die.

Those who’d been betrayed by the ‘brothers’.

Those who smell gunpowder and hear deafening bombs but they won’t flinch.

Those who have no allegiance except to the earth and to the ancestors buried beneath.

I bet their steadfastness is inspiring, not only to me, but to their enemies too.

It just goes to show how just and noble the cause of those oppressed people is.

Let me tell you Sir, those and those only earn my respect and my prayers.

January 4th, 2009, 8:38 am

 

Shai said:

OTW,

I don’t believe the two-state solution is dead yet, mainly because, as Innocent Criminal pointed out, Israelis would rather give up all the territories under occupation, than have a majority non-Jewish population. The real question that is starting to form, I think, is whether the Palestinians would even accept such a solution one day. I’m no longer sure of it, because indeed the more we prove our desire to rule over 4 million Palestinians, the more they should consider “forcing” this Israeli democracy to do so. That is, demanding equal rights and freedom under this Israeli rule.

This has been my argument against any Israeli that can’t understand why Gazans are still resisting Israeli rule. I simply ask “Why aren’t we annexing the West Bank and Gaza, giving their citizens Israeli citizenship, the right to vote, etc.?” Normally, in about 10/10 cases, the response is – faceless expression. They have no answer to it, because they haven’t figured it out yet – is it ours, or theirs? And if theirs, what are we still doing there? Perhaps we need another 60 years to make up our mind. I wonder what will be left of this region, 60 years from now, if we keep going at this rate.

January 4th, 2009, 9:02 am

 

Elie Elhadj said:

To: EHASAN12
At the risk of disrupting the topical continuity of the latest comments, may I thank you for the kind words in comment no. 2 regarding my article “Dry Aquifers…”.
I sincerely hope that the ideas contained in the article would go some way towards correcting the false notion in official Arab national discourse that sustained food self-sufficiency is somehow feasible in arid/semi-arid lands that has finite non-renewable groundwater resources and growing populations. It is critical that water and food issues are discussed freely and scientifically.

Elie Elhadj

January 4th, 2009, 10:39 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Joe M. said:

No matter the technology of their weapons, 6 million outsiders will never defeat 350 million indigenous.

We already have. Build a bridge and get over it.

The zionists are simply digging their own grave deeper and deeper every day.

That must explain why their per capita GDP is 5 times higher than the Arabs.

You are right. I don’t know when, but we will win.

I know when. Just ask me.

There is no other option.

That makes decision-making unnecessary.

The only thing that keeps Israel alive is that it is willing to use amazing levels of violence.

Yes, killing 500 people (mostly Hamas jihadists) is an “amazing level of violence”.

How do you desribe it when Syria kills aver 20,000 and Saddam kills hundredss of thousands? Does that “amaze” you Joe M.?

But not even they can sustain this brutality, and eventually we will be victorious.

Inshallah!;)

January 4th, 2009, 1:17 pm

 

Shual said:

Simohurtta,

1. You confuse “compulsory military service” with regular membership in the army and after that mobilization. If you can read german, you can read several very new and good books on that topic. Please read them.
2. Even Jews took the back door [“Deutschblütigkeitserklärung”]. Father killed in the KZ. Son survived in the Wehrmacht. We had that about 150 000 times. Examples enough not in 1943, in 1938.
3. Your main theory [“Germans and Austrians who were forced to the frontiers”] is wrong. Read Martin van Crefelds books and comments on that about the moral-structure of the Wehrmacht. The Wehrmacht had not a significant proove [political desertion-rate] of your theory. The systems reaction on rising rates was violent. Ok. But not in the successful stages, cause the rates were absolutely normal. Thats already the answer for your: “was it easier…”. Only minorities [religious refusal] were intrested in refusing until 1942.
3.1 The biggest problem in your theory: Its not like that a german soldiers woke up in Stalingrad and had no life before. The collective enthusiasm is a major factor in everything that happened in the WWII. Its a syndrome of all participants, if you want to think about the history of the A-bomb, please. If you want to look at the last defenders of Hitler, please [brigade of foreign volunteers]. If we talk about a 22-year-old soldier in Stalingrad we have to think of his 8 years in a NS-system full of enthusiasm. “Refusing” enthusiasm? Is a very hard thing. Especially in cases like Shai and very much Israelis and Palestinians I know, they REFUSE that enthusiasm. Is it really necessary to show that in “actionism”? Or even activism by Simohurttas law? I think its a very wrong decision to demand more than a already “refusing” person can give. Its not the solution to break that cycle of enthusiasm.
4. “monstrous actions against defenceless civil population”
– Only 5% of the Wehrmacht took part in such actions -directly-. I can not see any Israeli death-squads killing all inhabitants of Beit Lahia. The orders are opposed to that. If you want to talk about war-crimes, you can talk about war crimes. But the actions of the IDF have nothing to do with actions of the Wehrmacht and SS-units against civillians in cases like the war against partisans. They are not invading Beit Lahia, take some 500 civillians and kill them. [A.s.o.]
5. Moral difference = Hamas tactics. You are always talking about Israelis and not a single word about Hamas. The question is not if the action like to shoot at a civillians house is a war crime, or not. IT IS A WAR-CRIME. But the difference to a German soldier who was ordered to shoot in a Ukrainian Jewish village is … there were no Russian units in it. And no russion units stored weapons in civillian houses.. a.s.o. You know all those possible answers that are true. Btw. Hamas has modifyied the strategy. They have buyed houses = No civillians in it. It is not only unfair, its dishonest to “censor” information with the reason that it does not fit the conlusion.
5.1. Gradual comparisons? War crime = War crime? Napalm bombs are labor camps? Ok? Why not? Qassams are equal Nazi-camps. [Pfffft.]
6. Israel has equal laws as Nazi-Germany. In NS-germany bakers baked bread. In Israel, too. They must be Nazis! [I really don’t understand the sense of it. Saddam is a Nazi.. nonono Sharon is a Nazi… wait a second Hamasniks are Nazis … BUSH! BUSH! is a Nazi! … Stupid… Ehud Barak is the naziest ever born Nazi in our Naziworld.] … Kindergarden.
7. Torgau? The russians took it over. Thats all. Now there is a disco in it. PS: “Normal” camps? Political KZs. Not normal. In Fort Zinna alone about 600 refuseniks were executed.
8. “Complete idiocy”. No. I even gave some links about the planning of the Gaza war that explain that. Things like border protection even mark the end of “Zionism”. Zionism = Dream of Great Israel, nothing else. They fix their borders now. Against what? Ah, yes. Some people think that they have to get Israel back and they are behaving not very civilized. Thats the reason why we are sitting here and nothing else. If both sides think they have to go on with violence, we will see only violence in the future.

It is absolutely correct to say that Israeli politics did nothing to avoid that situation. Hamas did nothing to avoid that situation, too. Theories like Israel wants Gaza back, or Hamas needs the war to survive are very popular, but extremly vague. Reality is very simple: Military arm of Hamas vs IDF. Sense behind it? No sense.

January 4th, 2009, 3:06 pm

 

trustquest said:

Akbar, I hope you are not in competition with the Assad clan in killing people. However, I still believe that sim did not go far in his description.

Here is a review of what’s happening:

“Israel bombed Hamas targets in Gaza for three days, killing at least 300 people, 50 of them civilians, and blowing up a mosque and a television station. Palestinians seeking to flee into Egypt were turned back; a doctor at a Gaza hospital said that after 18 months of Israeli sanctions the lack of medical facilities made it better for a patient “to be brought in dead.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the bombing, ordered in retaliation for ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas, would be “widened and deepened as is necessary,” and an area around Gaza was declared a “closed military zone,” with access forbidden to civilians, including journalists. “No one,” explained an Israeli government spokeswoman, “is trying to hide anything.” Anti-Israeli protests and demonstrations erupted throughout the Arab world, and UFO-cultists in Tel Aviv canceled a “mega-orgy” for world peace”

http://www.harpers.org/

January 4th, 2009, 5:21 pm

 
 

offended said:

Ugarit!

MY MY! That IDF jerk was owned pretty bad…..

January 4th, 2009, 5:59 pm

 

idaf said:

Ugarit,

It’s amazing that people in Palestine going through today’s atrocities and after long long months of systematic starvation can still come up with such a prank. These people are beyond resilient.

For those who did not know, the IDF yesterday dropped these flyers over Gaza to urge people to give information on Hamas members. I’m sure this caller was the politest.

For other similar news, you might want to check the latest poem by the Egyptian poet Ahmad Fuoad Najm dedicated to Mubarak.

Or check the latest low of a Fatwa (or as As’ad Abu Khalil calls these stupidities, “Fatwawawa”) from the Wahabi-in-Chief of the Supreme Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia that deems any demonstration (in general in Saudi and for Gaza in particular) “Ifsad fi elArdh” and that these demonstrations are distractions from “thikr ellah”.

If only Al-Jazeerah had an Arabic version of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, this would be this week’s episode’s “International Moment of Zen”.

January 4th, 2009, 8:09 pm

 

Friend in America said:

In a live stream on CNN from Gaza early yesteday morning the resident being interviewed said 60% of the residents of Gaza were either persons displaced after the 1948 war or their descendants. There seems to be a reference to that in Sara Roy\’s brief article at the head of this thread.
Can anyone provide at least an approximate description of the demographics of Gaza today? How different are they from the west bank? If there is a difference, this distinction is not expressed in American media.

January 4th, 2009, 8:14 pm

 

idaf said:

Off the Wall,

I know that it’s awkward to talk about Syria’s water management problems now, but hope that the following updates would be of value to you in your research later on:

Daily Water Deficit in Damascus is 190,000 cube litters and the government has several tasks planned

Official report discussing worst case scenarios to agriculture with updated figures

One of the latest water projects targeting the Damascus neighborhoods that became over-populated with hundred of thousands of Iraqi refugees in the last 5 years

Some good news however in the north as the governorate Aleppo is getting more and more of the Euphrates dam water though several projects over the last 20 years. Last summer the Qweiq river got a boost from the Euphrates water and recently another underground tunnel from the Euphrates dam is now functional to irrigate southern Aleppo lands.

January 4th, 2009, 8:39 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

It is remarkable to rewind the clock 3 years and re-read the reaction of the White House to the Hamas victory during the elections of 2006:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012601009.html

Here is a the relevant part of the press conference of the President on January 26, 2006:

Q Mr. President, is Mideast peacemaking dead with Hamas’ big election victory? And do you rule out dealing with the Palestinians if Hamas is the majority party?

THE PRESIDENT: Peace is never dead, because people want peace. I believe — and that’s why I articulated a two-state solution early in my administration, so that — as a vision for people to work toward, a solution that recognized that democracy yields peace. And the best hope for peace in the Middle East is two democracies living side-by-side.

So the Palestinians had an election yesterday, and the results of which remind me about the power of democracy. You see, when you give people the vote, you give people a chance to express themselves at the polls — and if they’re unhappy with the status quo, they’ll let you know. That’s the great thing about democracy, it provides a look into society.

And yesterday the turnout was significant, as I understand it. And there was a peaceful process as people went to the polls, and that’s positive. But what was also positive is, is that it’s a wake-up call to the leadership. Obviously, people were not happy with the status quo. The people are demanding honest government. The people want services. They want to be able to raise their children in an environment in which they can get a decent education and they can find health care.

And so the elections should open the eyes of the old guard there in the Palestinian territories. I like the competition of ideas. I like people who have to go out and say, vote for me, and here’s what I’m going to do. There’s something healthy about a system that does that. And so the elections yesterday were very interesting.

January 4th, 2009, 8:49 pm

 

idaf said:

Is Sarkozy up to a ceasefire jointly with Asad like the famous “April Understanding” Chirac pulled with Hafez between Hizbulla and Israel in 1996?

Can Sarkozy’s Syria Ties Deliver a Mideast Truce? – Time
..
Given the absence of the U.S.’s traditional lead role in the region until President-elect Barack Obama takes office, Sarkozy finds himself with a rare opportunity to wade into a Middle East crisis as the main diplomatic player. The Elysée hopes Sarkozy’s visit to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can help reverse Abbas’ increasing marginalization and make him an active partner in hammering out a truce. But the main event of Sarkozy’s peacemaking foray will more likely be in Damascus, where he will meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday. Sarkozy’s recent rapprochement with Syria, the regional player with the most influence over Hamas, means that the French President may have more diplomatic leverage than many of his Western counterparts.
..
..

Meanwhile the Syrian people latest donations reached 230 tons of aid to Gaza (in addition to the 50 tons donated 3 days ago)

Today, Syria News Wire reported on the efforts of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in sending aid to Gaza. The humanitarian group, which is a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has been successful in sending 11 lorries of 230 tons of medical products and food to Gaza.

According to Syria News Wire:

The Red Cresent is sending the trucks, after volunteers collected donations from people across Syria. They are carrying medical supplies and food.

They will leave Syria and enter Jordan, on their way to Gaza at 10am on Saturday. If you want to follow their progress, or donate, you can read their live Twitter feed here.

We owe the people in these photos a debt of gratitude. Both the volunteers, for giving their time – and the people who donated, for giving their money.

Anas Qtiesh, a translator for GV Arabic and a long-time volunteer with the Red Crescent, is working on the organization’s web 2.0 efforts, providing Twitter updates on their successes, as well as letting followers know how they can support the efforts:

*Note: Due to U.S. sanctions, those living in the United States may not be able to donate to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. A good organization to which U.S. residents can donate is the Middle East Children’s Alliance.

Photographs of the convoys making their way to Gaza have been posted on Flickr:

The Red Crescent has also set up a YouTube channel where they will soon be posting videos of their work.

Photos, twitter and Youtube channels here to follow progress on the donations: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/04/syria-the-red-crescent-sends-convoys-to-gaza/

January 4th, 2009, 9:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Ehsani2,

“And so the elections yesterday were very interesting.”

But “very interesting” apparently never meant “acceptable” to the Bush administration, the Fatah, and Israel. But why is it that we don’t see tens of thousands of Palestinians marching in the West Bank (peacefully) in support of Hamas? After all, they elected Hamas to lead them. Marching against Israel’s criminal behavior is not the same as marching to demand recognition (by Fatah and Abu Mazen) of the genuine results of the first free and democratic elections in the Arab world. Where is the voice of the majority?

January 4th, 2009, 9:20 pm

 

Shai said:

Ehsani2,

To clarify, I mean that Abu Mazen must also listen to his people, not only to his Israeli and American puppet-masters. If the Palestinians in the West Bank are reluctant or incapable of publicly supporting Hamas, and demanding of their Fatah leadership proper recognition of the results of the 2006 elections, then what will be the future of Palestine? The Palestinian people, I think, must make it clear to everyone that they will not accept Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy with regards to Hamas and Fatah. Instead of spearheading this campaign, the Palestinian President is essentially sitting on the sidelines, coughing up a worthless condemnation here and there, but not leading his people in this time of crisis.

January 4th, 2009, 9:38 pm

 

sol said:

Today Ugarit wrote-

“It’s amazing that people in Palestine going through today’s atrocities and after long long months of systematic starvation can still come up with such a prank. These people are beyond resilient”.

Yesterday Taghreed El-Khodary from Gaza wrote-

“But in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, most of the wounded being brought in on Saturday seemed to be civilians.

Salah Abu Rafia, 38, was accompanying wounded relatives, including his 10-year-old son, Zeid. Mr. Abu Rafia said that an F-16 warplane fired missiles around his house in the Zeitoun neighborhood, west of Gaza City, while the family was sitting outside. He said that Hamas fighters had been in the area, but that he had been afraid to tell them to go away. They disappeared as soon as they heard the planes, he said, escaping without injury.

“We are the ones paying the price,” he added.”

January 4th, 2009, 9:44 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

In the spirit of full disclosure, it is important to highlight the rest of Bush’s quotes from that press conference:

“On the other hand, I don’t see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform. And I know you can’t be a partner in peace if you have a — if your party has got an armed wing. The elections just took place. We will watch very carefully about the formation of the government. But I will continue to remind people about what I just said, that if your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you’re not a partner in peace. And we’re interested in peace.”

In other words, what the U.S. wanted is for Hamas to formally drop the destruction of Israel from its platform before it is a “partner in peace”.

This is very similar to asking Syria to drop its strategic alliance with Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas before it can also be “a partner in peace”.

In other words, the U.S. and Israel would like to strip their adversaries of what is left of their already already weak positions before they sit down across the table to talk peace.

Israel already feels too powerful to concede an inch. Can you how imagine how much stronger she will get if Hamas drops the destruction of Israel from its platform and if Syria were to decide to drop its alliance with Iran before the talks even commence?

The U.S. and Israel are effectively asking the concerned parties to be irrational and act against their self-interest.

This is just not going to happen.

January 4th, 2009, 9:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Ehsani,

I fully agree with you. I cannot understand why Israel would expect an enemy to remove his weapons (whether they are $10 rockets, or rhetoric of destruction in its charter) one nanosecond BEFORE an agreement is reached, in which Israel is obligated to give up certain things in return. To counter any such demand by Israel, I suggest Syria, Lebanon, Hamas, Hezbollah, and anyone else ask Israel to first do away with its nukes.

But what’s amazing, is that people around the world actually buy this… 9/11 did wonders for making the definition of “Terrorist” wide enough to include all Muslims, and the State of Colorado, inside it.

January 4th, 2009, 10:21 pm

 

ugarit said:

IDAF said: “It’s amazing that people in Palestine going through today’s atrocities and after long long months of systematic starvation can still come up with such a prank. These people are beyond resilient.”

I doubt it’s a Palestinian in Gaza. In fact the voice of the Palestinian sounds like Ali Abunimah‘s, I’m not sure though.

January 4th, 2009, 10:53 pm

 

ugarit said:

Just in case anyone is under the mistaken impression that Hamas broke the cease fire, I would recommend that this article be read “Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen” from November 5th 2008! A day after Obama was elected.

I wonder if this new Israeli aggression on Gaza is to tell Obama who’s the boss and he better not talk to Hamas.

Here it is in its entirety:

* Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 November 2008 14.32 GMT

A four-month ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was in jeopardy today after Israeli troops killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid into the territory.

Hamas responded by firing a wave of rockets into southern Israel, although no one was injured. The violence represented the most serious break in a ceasefire agreed in mid-June, yet both sides suggested they wanted to return to atmosphere of calm.

Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip late last night near the town of Deir al-Balah. The Israeli military said the target of the raid was a tunnel that they said Hamas was planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence 250m away. Four Israeli soldiers were injured in the operation, two moderately and two lightly, the military said.

One Hamas gunman was killed and Palestinians launched a volley of mortars at the Israeli military. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.

“This was a pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat,” the Israeli military said in a statement. “There is no intention to disrupt the ceasefire, rather the purpose of the operation was to remove an immediate and dangerous threat posted by the Hamas terror organisation.”

In Gaza, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, said the group had fired rockets out of Gaza as a “response to Israel’s massive breach of the truce”.

“The Israelis began this tension and they must pay an expensive price. They cannot leave us drowning in blood while they sleep soundly in their beds,” he said.

The attack comes shortly before a key meeting this Sunday in Cairo when Hamas and its political rival Fatah will hold talks on reconciling their differences and creating a single, unified government. It will be the first time the two sides have met at this level since fighting a near civil war more than a year ago.

Until now it had appeared both Israel and Hamas, which seized full control of Gaza last summer, had an interest in maintaining the ceasefire. For Israel it has meant an end to the daily barrage of rockets landing in southern towns, particularly Sderot. For Gazans it has meant an end to the regular Israeli military raids that have caused hundreds of casualties, many of them civilian, in the past year. Israel, however, has maintained its economic blockade on the strip, severely limiting imports and preventing all exports from Gaza.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had personally approved the Gaza raid, the Associated Press said. The Israeli military concluded that Hamas was likely to want to continue the ceasefire despite the raid, it said. The ceasefire was due to run for six months and it is still unclear whether it will stretch beyond that limit.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/05/israelandthepalestinians

January 4th, 2009, 11:40 pm

 

Alex said:

Dear Ehsani,

Please note that Elie wrote you a comment yesterday that I just released now

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1882&cp=5#comment-223333

As usual, first time contributors need to be moderated (once).

January 4th, 2009, 11:40 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

US Media complicity

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003926518

—————————————————

UPDATED: Media Commentary Muted as Israel Invades

By Greg Mitchell

Published: January 04, 2009 12:20 AM ET

NEW YORK (Commentary) Israel launched its much-anticipated invasion of Gaza on Saturday. For over a week, U.S. media had provided largely one-sided coverage of the conflict, with little editorializing or commentary arguing against broader Israeli actions.

Most notably, after more than eight days of Israeli bombing and Hamas rocket launching in Gaza, The New York Times had produced exactly one editorial, not a single commentary by any of its columnists, and only two op-eds (one already published elsewhere). The editorial, several days ago, did argue against the wisdom of a ground invasion – – but even though that invasion had become ever more likely all week the paper did not return to this subject.

Amazingly, the paper has kept that silence going in Sunday’s paper, with no editorial or columnist comment on the Israeli invasion. The Washington Post did manage to work up an editorial for Sunday which, in the usual contortionist manner, found the invasion “justified” but also highly “risky.”

The invasion, to no one’s surprise, did begin on Saturday — so any further criticism will now come too late. As in the past, U.S. media coverage and commentary has overwhelmingly backed the Israeli actions (as it did in the Lebanon war in 2006, which turned into a fiasco). CNN and MSNBC have provided some helpful balance, starting late Saturday, but on the Sunday morning talk shows Democratic leaders said little, or nothing, critical of Israel.

Of course, most on-the-scene coverage of civilian casualties in Gaza has been hindered, to say the least, by Israel barring foreign journalists from entering.

On Friday, Amnesty International condemned the U.S. response to the “disproportionate” Israeli bombing of Gaza — with largely U.S. weapons. Some of it amounts to U.S.-backed “human rights abuses,” it charged.

The group recalled that the U.S. supplied most of the cluster bombs, containing over a million bomblettes, dropped by Israel in the Lebanon war in 2006, which have killed hundreds of civilians.

“Amnesty International USA is particularly dismayed at the lopsided response by the U.S. government to the recent violence and its lackadaisical efforts to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” the group told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the letter, which was released to the media.

Ethan Bronner, in a news report at The The New York Times, observed, “The scope of the assault, and the days of buildup at the border, hint at an unstated but profound question: can the rockets really be stopped for any length of time while Hamas remains in power in Gaza? And if the answer is determined to be no, then is the real aim of the operation to remove Hamas entirely, no matter the cost?”

Meanwhile, a columnist for the Spectator in London argued for the arrest of Western journalists who have criticized Israel’s actions. Israel starting adding artillery fire to the bombing, even before the invasion. One nighttime airstrike hit the offices of the Hamas weekly newspaper Al Resala in Gaza City, wounding 16 civilians who live nearby, Hamas and residents said.

And Amir Oren, in a column at Haaretz, concluded with a call to get done with Gaza: “[T]he IDF must move quickly to disengage, in order to free its attention for the paramount task of preparing a military blow to Iran, if diplomacy and deterrence fail. As long as the great threat of Iranian power is hovering, the smaller threats of Hezbollah and Hamas that derive from it will not be dispelled.”

Israel, meanwhile, maintained its ban on foreign journalists entering the Gaza Strip Friday despite a recent Supreme Court order to allow a limited number of reporters to enter the territory.

The Jerusalem daily Haaretz put up an editorial on Saturday critical of Israel’s actions — and the boosterism of President Bush. Excerpt: “The need to present an achievement has compelled the civilian leadership to add a ground campaign to the aerial onslaught…. Those who back the operation are already imagining Hamas collapsing, its leadership fleeing or killed, and house-to-house searches for weapons to be destroyed. After the operation, Gaza would be returned to Palestinian Authority control, purged of terrorism — the Lebanon dream realized in Gaza. This is what these people believe.

“It would be best to cut this dream short before it turns into a dragged-out nightmare, and to limit the ground operation to more modest goals.

And Gideon Levy writes in a column at Haaretz: “Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind….Nobody is coming to the rescue — of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media — pitch black over the abyss.”

FOR MORE COVERAGE GO TO OUR BLOG at:

January 5th, 2009, 12:57 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Ugarit said:

Just in case anyone is under the mistaken impression that Hamas broke the cease fire, I would recommend that this article be read “Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen” from November 5th 2008! A day after Obama was elected.

Thanks Ugarit for that piece of information. The Guardian is known for not taking Palestinian rockets into account. I guess neither do you…

http://en.rian.ru/world/20081030/118036330.html

http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/news-archive/bicom-briefing–the-gaza-strip—access-and-terrorism

January 5th, 2009, 1:48 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Truthquest said:

Akbar, I hope you are not in competition with the Assad clan in killing people.

Truthquest,

The Israelis are in no competition with the Syrians in terms of killing people. The Syrians win overwhelmingly; there is no sense even trying.

However, I think the Israelis are “in competition with the Assad clan” in terms of muting the response of the Arab and the anti-Israel street. Here, the Israelis have little influence.

Example:

Merde! King Abdullah of Jordan is going to reevalute his relations with Israel!

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3650479,00.html

Of course, the Jordanians killed many more Palestinians than Israel, but that never seems to matter. Pourquoi?

http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_jordan_expel_plo.php

(and the Israelis saved his skin from the Syrians no less)

January 5th, 2009, 3:12 am

 

Rumyal said:

Ugarit,

I don’t believe there is a question of “who” violated the cease-fire, the answer would obviously be—both parties did, several times, both provoked and unprovoked. Wikipedia seem to have some data that supports this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rocket_and_mortar_attacks_in_Israel_in_2008. BTW, I don’t think anybody has access to the text of the cease-fire (if one ever existed).

PS: please note I do not in any way condone what Israel is doing, I argued many times that we should have sought dialogue with Hamas and definitely not put this siege or conduct the war.

January 5th, 2009, 3:36 am

 

Rumyal said:

Ugarit, Offended,

>>> Israel Occupation Forces Punked

Yes this guy was owned big-time. There are some interesting things about this to note.

First, the effort to recruit informers for money is pretty reckless. First Israel starves these people and then the weak-willed among them who are tempted to rat for some sort of “assistance” are risking a horrible death to them and their families if they get caught. I guess this is an acceptable cost for Israel for a little bit of intelligence.

Then, there is the IDF guy on the other side of the line. You may not feel that this is an apt moment to consider the Israeli guy’s life, but think about it for a moment: his accent is pretty good, I couldn’t tell he was not an Arab—could you? He is probably some sort of an advanced-sergeant in the army, probably in his 50’s or so, eking a living from his knowledge of Arabic. He probably immigrated from an Arab country (I would imagine Syria or Iraq). Got kicked out when Israel started warring with the Arabs and found refuge in Israel. He probably felt somewhat unwelcomed and discriminated against in Israel due to his “excessive Orientalism”. Most likely he lives in one of those destitute “development towns” in the South, such as Sderot, that have been the target of the Qasams. He is probably being bossed around by a 23 year old officer, that was maybe born in the Ukraine. He comes to work, sits by the phone in some concrete bunker and waits to get abused by his Arab interlocutors calling from the US to vent. Then he gets home to fear the Qasams. Yet notice he managed to be quite cordial. Ultimately he resorted to bits-and-pieces of Zionist ideology (“this is my country for 2000 years, you, the Pals, are not a real people”) when the going got tough—but what else can he say to himself to keep being in a secure mental spot?

I will posit to you that both this guy, the collaborators he is trying to lure in Gaza, and even his young boss are *all* victims of destructive identity ideologies.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this comment. I guess this is a “Christian message”: 99% of the people could get along quite well if they were given the chance and the example of their leaders, and it has to start with somebody “turning their other cheek”.

January 5th, 2009, 4:27 am

 

JustOneAmerican said:

Norman said,

You have to have winners and losers , I think Hamas will come out a winner , continued war is the only solution to get Arab rights

You need to read more history. A lot of the time you have losers and losers-who-don’t-realize-they’re-losers-yet.

War is the only solution? You’ve been trying that since before 1948. How has that worked out for you?

As we can see that Israel only left areas that they faced resistant so all peaceful ways will not work and if the Palestinians want their rights they have to fight for them and if rockets were flying from the west bank israel would be back behind 1967 border and happily doing that and thanking God that the Palestinians accepting these borders ,

Too bad the Arab leaders didn’t take that view before 1967.

The same can be said about the Golan , so if Syria wants the Golan it should be willing and fighting for it otherwise Israel will stay there forever and Syria will keep saying that our choice is peace , why does not Israel believe that , it is simple Israel thinks of that as weakness , Israel has to suffer to convince it’s people to leave.

Again, war is how Syria lost the Golan to begin with. Syria tried to get it back with another war and failed. What makes you think that yet another war is going to work this time?

Seriously, what is in the water over there that afflicts both the Arabs and Israelis with this kind of thinking? What you and the Israeli’s don’t seem to realize is that you’re more alike than you know. Change a few words in the statements I quoted above and it would be instantly recognizable as “only solutions” according to Israel. After generation upon generation of unnecessary and unsuccessful warfare so many of you (Arabs and Jews) still insist that violence is the ONLY way to get what you want. Why you keep believing this, I’ll never understand, considering each side has empirically disproven it countless times.

Here’s a suggestion: Google a guy named “Ghandi” and another guy named “Martin Luthor King jr.” Maybe you should try what they tried – it seemed to work out pretty well for them (except the martyrdom bit). Just a thought.

January 5th, 2009, 6:15 am

 

Alex said:

Rumyal,

Turning the other cheek works great … but people need to understand how it is done and WHY it is done.

First of all it needs to be done at an early stage … for once you decide to first try to challenge your attacker, then your ego takes control of your decision making process and it becomes much more difficult to back down from a confrontation (escalation of commitment)

Syria has been turning the other cheek (to various degrees) with almost everybody, despite knowing that the wonderful Middle Easterners always interpreted it as severe weakness on the part of Syria …

– Israeli attack on Deir Ezzor,
– Israeli assassination of Imad Mughnyieh in Damascus …
– American attack on eastern border
– Walid Jumblatt sending one threat after another at Syria …
– Saudi Press attacking President Assad
– Jordanian King who visits Syria as a friend, then attacks Syria in some interview the next day …

Imagine if Syria decided to retaliate to all or even some of those…

The most successful application of turning the other cheek was when turkey threatened to invade Syria in the late 90’s .. they massed their troops at the Syrian border … Hafez Assad refused to order any additional Syrian troops at the Turkish border and accepted to finally give the Turks Kurdish leader Occalan.

It might have felt like a very difficult decision for a proud Middle Easterner like Hafez Assad at the time, but the end result of his decision is that Turkey today is one of Syria’s closest allies … a huge asset for Syria foreign policy.

January 5th, 2009, 6:29 am

 

Rumyal said:

Alex,

For all of the “backwardness” in Syria: the lack of freedoms, corruption etc. there are two very ESSENTIAL things that Syria and the current regime can be very proud of. One, is the deep appreciation and cherishing of a multi-cultural society and its history. This was represented very beautifully by Asma Assad when she exclaimed that she is Christian as well as Muslim. It is my personal belief that Israel will be doomed if it doesn’t find a similar path. The second is the lack of knee-jerk politics—indeed quite the contrary, you can rely on Syrian consistency much more than those of democratic countries like Israel. Alex, I think Syrian patience and persistence will pay off during the Obama administration.

This begs the question: if the government in Israel is replaced every two years, and zig-zags every three months, how does that type of democracy betters my life as a citizen? Do not get me wrong, I do not call for a “strong leader” in Israel, but I’m calling for something that is deficient in Western democracy and that is lack of political continuity which results in the degradation of the political capital owned by the country when it deals with other counties. The Israel-Syria peace talks over the years are a good example of this.

In a way, the methods using which my municipality in the US is run are much more appropriate for carrying out any progress in Israel’s situation. You ask the people to vote for an initiative: would you like to have a forth lane in the highway by 2015 and light-rail by 2020? If yes, then start paying now, 24$ a month. And once you commit, there is typically no easy “out”. Now imagine if national politics (Israel is a small nation…) would have been conducted like that. Well much have been written about the deficiencies of representative democracy, but in Israel it causes such acute indecisiveness and reckless irresponsibility that makes an excellent case study…

And before Simo and others jump on me and say that Israel is not a democracy because the Palestinians in the territories are not represented, I’d answer that technically it still is a democracy in the sense that the ruling group is choosing its leaders (pretty much like the European democracies excluded women initially, so it was a democratic society—for men).

January 5th, 2009, 7:15 am

 

Alex said:

Rumyal,

I agree with you.

And I hope we will find a way to benefit from our “nondemocratic” advantage in stable and well tuned foreign policy, while reforming enough to control corruption and to allow more freedom of speech.

As for Israel … I guess this can take us back to the discussion you, Shai and I had about Israel having a long term basic peace and war strategy that different politicians can not ignore, or if those politicians can indeed improvise (and often mess up previous efforts).

Israel has too many parties … you are almost guaranteed to end up with coalition governments that group a number of unlikely partners.

January 5th, 2009, 7:40 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Aside from the multi-system which, in my mind, has corrupted us no less than anything else (a religious party like Shas, with barely 10% seats, can blackmail any ruling party, day and night), there is a main problem which I’m beginning to see in Israel – which is, that Israel and Israelis haven’t decided what they want. Do we want peace, or war. Do we want to control the lives of 4 million people, or not. For 40 years, we’ve occupied a territory that we neither consider ours, nor someone else’s. How do you explain that? I’ve urged people to finally take a stance – either annex the West Bank and Gaza, or leave it. In Hebrew, there’s a term (“Hachra’a”) that comes close to “Decisiveness”, but has a deeper, more absolute-character to it, which has no exact translation in other languages as far as I know. It refers, all too often, to military affairs. We will “decisively” destroy Hamas, Hezbollah, or their threats, etc. But the one thing Israel hasn’t “decisively” done, over the past 60 years, is decide what it wants.

That, I think, is our biggest challenge. We are, at the moment, our own worst enemy.

January 5th, 2009, 7:58 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I was surprised to learn this morning of a meeting planned in Cairo between representatives of Hamas in Gaza and Hamas in Syria. Besides providing 5-star accommodation, I don’t see how Cairo can even pretend to be helpful to Hamas, given its leadership’s blunt support of Fatah, even in this current crisis.

On the other hand, I think it is worthwhile considering the special position that Syria still holds, with regards to both Hamas and Fatah. Syria still has much credit and trust with both, and perhaps should now use this to help bring the two to reconcile. Instead of low-level meetings in Cairo tomorrow, perhaps a meeting between Abu Mazen and Khaled Mashaal, in Damascus, was the better choice. Helping to unite the Palestinians, in whatever fashion, certainly doesn’t play into Israel’s best interests (at least not at the moment), but could certainly weaken any divide-and-conquer strategy and especially have a significant posture and effect towards the International Community. This “deafening silence” by Fatah is not helping the Palestinian people.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Syria to reestablish itself as a leading player in the region, as it has successfully done for the past number of years. In the long run, and especially if Israel is seeking an exit-strategy and eventual lift-off to the horrendous blockade of Gaza, such “unity”, whatever it may mean on the ground (shared governing powers, control of the borders, etc.) may serve its best interests as well.

What do you think?

January 5th, 2009, 8:57 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

This is great news for Syria’s economic development:

http://dse.sy/user/?page=news&id_news=52

January 5th, 2009, 2:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I wonder how credible that recording was.

The caller was clearly not a Palestinian and almost certainly not an Arab. His accent gave him away as probably a Westerner or an Israeli who learned his Arabic in Egypt. The “Israeli” interlocutor’s Arabic was much better … he might have been an Israeli Arab.

Funny, though.

January 5th, 2009, 2:45 pm

 

offended said:

QN, the caller is Ali Ne’imah of Electronic Intifada (as was rightly guessed by Ugarit yesterday).

He grew up in Ireland I think, so his arabic isn’t perfect.

January 5th, 2009, 4:55 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

More discussion on the “Who broke the Ceasefire?” conundrum…

http://www.camera.org/

January 5th, 2009, 5:02 pm

 

offended said:

Nice plug Akbar Palace, but isn’t that a biased website?

January 5th, 2009, 5:21 pm

 

Alex said:

Mr. Qifa the skeptic.

January 5th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ah, that explains it. Thanks, Offended.

Alex, who me? 😉

January 5th, 2009, 7:06 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Nice plug Akbar Palace, but isn’t that a biased website?

Offended,

Why don’t you look past the bias for a moment and address the facts they present.

…I don’t see how Cairo can even pretend to be helpful to Hamas, given its leadership’s blunt support of Fatah…Perhaps this is an opportunity for Syria to reestablish itself as a leading player in the region, as it has successfully done for the past number of years.

Shai,

First you criticize the Egyptian government because they support Fatah, then you gloat over the possibility that Syria could help with Hamas.

Shai,

What is the basis of your claim that Syria could be a “leading player in the region”? Which peace agreements have they signed recently? What terror organizations have they moderated?

If anything, Syria is a leading instigator in the region.

January 5th, 2009, 7:30 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I forgot to answer that comment.

When it comes to Gaza and Hamas, Syria wants Egypt to play its natural role … but Syria has a supporting role to play as well.

If Egypt fails to play a role, and if Egypt does not learn to communicate with Syria which is the most trusted adviser to Mashaal) you will hear more of Syria.

Notice that there is almost zero Syrian posturing since the crisis in Gaza started.

Prime minister Erdogan will make it clear to the Egyptians that if they want to succeed in mediating between Palestinians, they can not continue to play “let’s all boycott Syria”

January 5th, 2009, 7:54 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

See my last 500 comments on SC. If you still don’t understand why Syria is a key player in the region, you haven’t been paying attention… 🙂

January 5th, 2009, 7:59 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

This is a “wonderful” opportunity for many sides to reconcile, including Egypt, KSA, and Syria. If Turkey succeeds, this could quite possibly take place. To Israel, it will seem against her best interests, but long term I claim it is precisely the opposite. That is why I’m hoping Syria will indeed get into this soon.

January 5th, 2009, 8:09 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai,

I wish … but there wee many opportunities before and the Saudis and Egyptians did not go for it.

But by going to Turkey, Egypt indirectly admitted it needs help. They know turkey’s role with rely to a large extent on Syria.

But that will make it possible for the Egyptians to not talk directly with the Syrians.

We’ll see … there might be a need for an Arab summit. If it takes place, there is no escaping shaking hands.

January 5th, 2009, 8:14 pm

 
 

SimoHurtta said:

From a pure “cold blooded” point of the view what is the logic for Syria to help Israel, USA, EU, Egypt, Saudis, Jordan etc now? Israel is spoiling its international reputation with every picture on TV. The more severe this becomes the less “friends” Israel has. Egypt is in deep troubles with its crossings and inability to act. The blood of younger Egyptian officers must be boiling when they watch Al Jazeera. Same in Jordan. Every time Israel officials say that “moderate” Arab countries support them is one more nail in these regimes’ coffin. In a couple of days Egypt and Jordan have to end diplomatic relations with Israel and show actions of end of “support”. Syria being outside the eye of the storm has only to make some moral statements and let people lower the steam in demonstrations. The worse this mess gets the stronger Syria becomes politically. Israel’s actions hurt the so called moderates not Syria and Iran.

Then there is the question of the political reward to Syria if it helps. Will it get Golan back or be a “partner” for USA? Surely not, everything would be like in the past. Syria wins more by not acting as by helping.

In a couple of days Gazans begin to die in masses to thirst, hunger and diseases from lack of pure water. Israel and USA have not much time or the kettle boils over really badly.

January 5th, 2009, 9:10 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Allah Yerhamo.

Shami,

While you’re praying for Israel’s destruction, just remember, Muslims have killed FAR many more Muslims and Arabs than Jews.

You’ll have to pray harder.

January 6th, 2009, 1:59 am

 

norman said:

JustoneAmerican,

Three points ,

One : we are all semitics so we are alike,

Two,: Show me an incidence when Israel showed it’s care for the Arab and the Palestinian rights .

Three : Arabs suffer from poor leaderships who are interested more in keeping their seats and power than any rights,

If leaders like the Iranian leaders are available for the Arab masses , leaders that will fight eight years , Israel will not be there.

I just want to be clear , i will be very happy to have the Hebrews there living as equal to every semitic people that want to live there but they do not have more rights than others including my mother who was born there in Nazareth and her parents were living there many more years than the people who were brought from the EU and Russia,converted people who have nothing to with the semitic people.

So give us a break we gave the Israeli tranquility in the Golan only to have Israel annex the area.

So yes Israel only understand force and destruction , I do not see any other way , Let the Israelis show us some Gandhi and Martin Luther king people , I believe their intention when i see one like that among them.

January 6th, 2009, 3:00 am

 

Shami said:

Akbar Palace ,
The state of Israel must stop to exist in its current form ,the solution is a federal state with Jerusalem as capital for both federal entities,the jewish and the arab(christian,armenian,muslim)but they should live with us as neighbours and not as occupiers.What happened in Palestine in 1948 was an act of treachery from some Jews against the Muslim world who helped them to escape the pogroms in Europe.

January 6th, 2009, 3:44 am

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

If you haven’t noticed, over the past many years now Israel has de facto established a one-state solution. We just haven’t formalized it by annexing the West Bank and Gaza yet. But by controlling the lives of 4 million Palestinians, what else would you call it?

January 6th, 2009, 4:51 am

 

Milli Schmidt said:

Hello,

does anyone know anything about the so-called 8th Gate Development that is being built by Dubai-owned Emaar Syria in Yafour, outside Damascus? It’s a luxury residential/business/leisure complex that will also apparently house the stock exchange. Does anyone know who the Syrian counterpart to this project is?

Link is: http://www.emaarsyria.co.sy/site/emaar_projects.htm

Ta

January 6th, 2009, 9:59 am

 

Zubaida said:

Milli — as you can see from the Emaar press release the Syrian partner is IGO, an investment group based in Dubai and headed by Anas Kuzbari. Cham Holdings, headed by Nabil Kuzbari, and in which Rami Makhlouf is a big investor, is also heavily involved in Eighth Gate.

January 6th, 2009, 11:33 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The state of Israel must stop to exist in its current form …

Shami,

The State of Israel in its current form is fine. IMHO, what must stop is Muslim intolerance and fanaticism.

But by controlling the lives of 4 million Palestinians, what else would you call it?

Shai,

I’ll answer your question the same way you answered mine: please see my previous 500 posts.

January 6th, 2009, 11:39 am

 

Milli Schmidt said:

Zubaida,

thank you for you comments. Do you know who is behind IGO?

Ta

January 6th, 2009, 12:26 pm

 

idaf said:

Extremely valuable advise to the Obama administration from Jim Zogby. It is unfortunate for everyone that the Israeli “democracy” is the key cause for these periodic onslaughts on the Palestinians and the Lebanese..

Gaza: The Lessons We Should Have Learned
James Zogby

The horrors that are unfolding in Gaza are but a tragic replay of past confrontations: the same bluster and threats, the same miscalculations by all sides, the same massive and overwhelming use of Israeli force designed to “stop once and for all…,” and same absence of any constructive U.S. role – with no one learning lessons from the past.

This is tragedy in the classic sense: two pathologies playing out with predictable consequences, and with neither party appearing able or willing to restrain itself or recognize the futility of its actions. What’s so desperately needed, and yet missing, is what I’ve termed “adult supervision;” i.e., external restraint that can hold back or limit the damage these pathetic players continue to inflict upon themselves. That is a role that the U.S. could have played over the years, but has not. Not only the Bush Administration, but previous administrations as well, have failed to provide effective leadership – too often reducing themselves to coat-holders and, more often than not, justifying repeated Israeli onslaughts.

Because we’ve seen all this play out before, we can easily predict the outcome. There will be many Palestinians who die, leaving grieving and angry families behind. There will be widespread destruction of property and damage to infrastructure, and many more who will be burdened with the scars of war. There will be increased Palestinian and Arab anger spreading throughout the region, reinforcing extremist trends, threatening not only Israel and the United States, but the U.S.’ Arab allies as well.

And because this drama has played out before, there are lessons that ought to have been learned from the past – but, sadly, have not.

Let me share two instructive stories from an earlier instance of Israel’s “decisive use of force” – this one from 1996. In that year, Shimon Peres, who had become Prime Minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, was facing a stiff electoral challenge from Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Peres was considered generally supportive of establishing peace with the Palestinians; while Netanyahu, on the other hand, ran on a platform that specifically called for ending the peace process.

In the midst of the election, both Hamas and Hizbullah inserted themselves into the process, engaging in lethal provocations. Netanyahu accused Peres of being weak, and Peres – in an effort to demonstrate that he was not – launched a massive bombing campaign (40,000 bombs in all) against Lebanon, designed (as he claimed) to “send a message.” Despite 400,000 refugees, 10,000 homes destroyed and scores of lives lost, for days the Clinton Administration said nothing other than to affirm “Israel’s right to defend itself.” This continued until the now-infamous Qana massacre, in which 106 Lebanese civilians were killed and another 116 wounded when the UN compound in which they had sought refuge was shelled by Israeli artillery.

It was in the midst of this horror that I debated an Israeli Minister on CNN’s “Crossfire.” Because he had been a forceful champion for peace, at one point in the exchange I said that I was finding it difficult to debate him, watching him defend what I believed he knew was an immoral war. He said nothing on air, but afterwards noted that it was hard. Given the provocation, he said, and the tightness of the election, they [the Labor government in Israel] felt they had no choice but to act. They had hoped, however, that the U.S. would step in early to provide them with a cover for restraint. They could not have confronted their own right wing, he said, unless the U.S. had provided justification for doing so!

In the end, Peres lost the election because tens of thousands of Israeli Arab voters, so angered by the actions of his government, refused to cast their ballots for him. Israel stood embarrassed in the eyes of the world. Anger against Israel in Lebanon further intensified. And with Netanyahu as Prime Minister, Israel began to take a series of steps that inevitably led – as he had intended all along – to dealing fatal blows to the peace process.

Months later, at a meeting of Arab American leaders at the White House, I challenged President Clinton to explain his silence in the face of the Israeli air war on Lebanon. He went to great lengths to explain his position, concluding that he had merely been trying to help Peres win the election and thereby save the peace process. He had thought the best way to do that was to provide Peres with public support. He acknowledged that it had not worked, and said he would not make the same mistake again (although he did much the same in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak was facing Ariel Sharon).

One could shudder at the tragic irony of these foolish miscalculations if it were not for the fact that the same lethal drama is playing out yet again, with the same justifications being offered and – one fears, with the same consequences.

At this point, given what has been a pathetic performance, the Bush Administration cannot make a difference. And, in any case, real damage is being done. The Palestinian dead will not come back, their families will not stop mourning, nor will their anger easily subside. Hamas will emerge stronger, building off the anger and the loss of hope in peace.

On January 20th, Barack Obama will inherit all this – with a choice to make. He can either repeat the failed patterns of the past, or learn its lessons and provide the needed leadership that can pull Israelis and Palestinians back from the precipice, and provide them a way forward.

January 6th, 2009, 2:17 pm

 

offended said:

At least 40 people have been killed in an Israeli air strike on a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources have said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7814054.stm

p.s. the video is very graphic and distressing.

January 6th, 2009, 4:58 pm

 

AKbar Palace said:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip, May 5 (Reuters) – By day, Awad al-Qiq was a respected science teacher and headmaster at a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip. By night, Palestinian militants say, he built rockets for Islamic Jihad.

http://www.reuters.com/article/middleeastCrisis/idUSL05686115

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231167272256&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

January 6th, 2009, 7:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar,

Let’s refresh our memories just a bit, and look back at history for a moment. During the British mandate, while certain Jews in Palestine were determined enough to create underground movements, that used violence not only against Arabs, but indeed against the British Occupiers, did we not have the same? Wasn’t some Yoske, a “respected teacher” by day, and a “militant terrorist” by night? In what way was Yoske’s armed struggle different from Awad’s?

January 6th, 2009, 7:59 pm

 

jad said:

I just came back from a visit to Syria and My comment are not about sects or religions it’s about an issue we need to look at and see what is the best way to deal with it. Sometimes a small conversation changes your personal view and it forces you to re-evaluate what you believe in.
The other day I had a heating debate with a Sunni Syrian and he shocked me with his views and the way he looks at other Syrians according to their religions and I assume that he reflect a high percentage of our Syrian community, it is sad to see this reality and the level of our educated population thinks.
At the end I asked him how I the Syrian Christian become more Arab than him and how is it possible that I can’t see the differences he sees in a Syrian Shiaa, Sunni, Druze, Alawite, Ismaelis, Christians even Jews. (He even comes with the lamest line I hear about Jesus when he said (your prophet is a Jew, how about that?) as if that means anything)
How could someone rationalize calling the Syrian Shia ‘IRANIANS?’

He totally ignored my question so I asked myself the same question and how and why our way of thinking sunk to this low level and what is our future will become with sick rotten way of thinking community who refuse their countrymen brothers and sisters just because they don’t share them the same view.
He told me that for him and his friends a criminal and terrorist as Bin laden is his hero and they look at Hizbuallah and Hamas as terrorists.
To be honest I’m really sad to get such answers from an educated Syrian and I became certain that our future is way darker and sad than I earlier thought.

The other issue he talked about was the economy, and since I have no data, I’ll write what he told me:
We as a country are financially broke.
The first lady organization projects are financed by the government, they are very expensive and useless project according to him (I disagree yet I don’t know bout that)
Syria became a ‘Banana Republic’

Any comments or explanations and how can we improve our way of thinking.

January 7th, 2009, 10:44 am

 

trustquest said:

Jad, thank you for sharing. Let me give you my prospective. I have never been a religious fanatic or regions period. In my visit to Syria in 2006, I was sitting with the dean of the family, he is an educator for 40 years in largest Damascus School, (he went through it all, was communist in his youth and now a Sunni observant from prominent Damascene family). I was there with my brother in law ( Ismaali with high degree) was there. We were asking him which place is better to buy and live in Damascus. I suggested that in “Demas area”, Assad village is the best place to live. He disagreed and said. You must live near your community ( he mean in Midan area) because when things ( means war between sects) happen, your community is your best protector.
Does that answer your question?
People feel the time and what are happenings around them, you can oppress people for some time but not all the time, you can steel many times but not for ever, 20 millions middle class and working class working outside the country is not a normal state the country is living in. When mismanagement reachs a peaking point, you start seeing people having such ideas to find reasoning to their existence and to defend their children future. Keeping people outside the social fabric is not going to bring good results. Not doing real education about tolerance and keeping the Baathist ideals of Arab Nationlism and wipping the Syrian identity is going to bring bad days ahead. Tighting on the only hope of civil society is going to bite the regime where it hurt.

January 7th, 2009, 4:43 pm

 

jad said:

Trustquest,
Thank you for your reply and explaination.
It’s a very very sad fact…

January 7th, 2009, 4:57 pm

 

Alex said:

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/01/07/world/worldwatch/entry4703662.shtml

Diplomat: Hamas Willing To Seek “Solution”

George Baghdadi is CBS News’ reporter in Damascus.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has for the first time indicated a willingness to work toward a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, according to Russian diplomats in the Syrian capital.

Russian diplomats in Damascus tell CBS News that Mashaal indicated to a senior envoy from Moscow a “readiness to contribute in reaching a solution to stop the aggression in Gaza.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that Israel had accepted an Egyptian-French cease-fire plan for the Gaza Strip, but Hamas officials in Syria told CBS News that they could not agree to the plan because it does not guarantee open border crossings or an end to a crippling blockade.

It was the first time Hamas’ senior leader had implied a willingness to order a halt to the rocket attacks that Israel points to as the justification for their assault on Gaza.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose country holds unique sway with the Islamic militant group, met Tuesday with Alexander Sultanov, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s special envoy for Middle Eastern Affairs.

Diplomatic sources said it was Sultanov who met Mashaal.

The diplomats, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks, said, however, that Mashaal also warned he was not prepared to cooperate until Israel agreed to open the border-crossings into the besieged Gaza Strip and halt their own military operations.

Meanwhile, al-Assad said any truce between Israel and Hamas must stop what his country describes as “war crimes,” and lift the blockade on the tiny Palestinian territory.

Sultanov also held a meeting with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and to review international and regional endeavors, including the role that could be played by Russia to stop the Israeli aggression and withdraw the military forces from the Strip, according to state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.

Al-Assad and Medvedev spoke on the phone earlier in the week and the Russian leader decided to send his aide for more talks with the Syrians.

The Syrian President, after talks with Sarkozy in Damascus on Tuesday, said a cease-fire was only attainable after Israel stops the “war crimes” and opens the crossing points to allow the flow of medical and other aid to the Palestinians.

Sarkozy was in Damascus Tuesday pressing Syria to convince Hamas to halt rocket fire into Israel.

Syria, along with Iran, is a main backer of Hamas and hosts members of the group’s exiled leadership, including Mashaal.

January 7th, 2009, 6:13 pm

 

Alex said:

Hamas Team Takes Egypt Truce Plan To Syria

CAIRO (AFP)–The Hamas leadership is examining an Egyptian truce plan for the Gaza Strip after a delegation from the Palestinian Islamists held talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo.

The two-man delegation of Emad al-Alami and Mohammed Nasr left Cairo for Damascus on Wednesday to report their discussions with Egyptain officials, including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, to Hamas’s Syrian-based leadership.

“The movement is studying the initiative,” a Hamas official in Syria told AFP.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak put forward a truce plan for the ravaged territory late Tuesday aimed at ending Israel’s assault which has killed more than 680 Palestinians and ending militant rocket fire.

The plan hopes to install a temporary ceasefire followed by an official truce, the securing of Gaza’s border and the opening of crossing points to and from the isolated territory.

Egypt mediated a previous six-month truce between Israel and Hamas which expired on Dec. 19, heralding the latest violence.

January 7th, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Syria became a ‘Banana Republic’

Jad,

Whatever you do, please don’t tell the authors here.

January 8th, 2009, 5:28 am

 

Shami said:

Turkish hackers attack Israeli Web sites
Two Turkish hackers have launched a massive cyber-attack against private and public Israeli Web sites as a reaction to the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, which started on Dec. 27.

Two individuals, N.D., who was educated abroad in the field of information technology, and B.S., a university student in Bursa, have so far defaced 500 Israeli Web sites.

The hackers leave notes in Turkish, German and English on the Web sites they attack, saying: “We are making a small-scale protest just to show you your shameful acts. You are doing to the Palestinian public what Hitler did to you.” The Turkish hackers also post the photos of Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers on the Web sites.

B.S. and N.D. said they knew their acts were illegal; however, they chose this method because they did not want to remain silent in the wake of Israeli atrocities. “Our goal is to protest what is being done to the innocent people in Gaza and show our reaction. The reason we chose this method was our bid to make our voices louder. The messages we leave on the Web sites we defaced can stay there for five minutes or hours, depending on the Web site’s security regulations.”

B.S. and N.D. said their actions were not comparable to the brutal attacks carried out by Israel.

“They mercilessly kill infants, children. Ours is only a cyber-war; we do not kill anybody,” one of the hackers said. “We will continue attacking Israeli Web sites until Israel stops attacking Gaza.”

07 January 2009, Wednesday
ÖZDEMIR ÖZKAN İZMIR

January 8th, 2009, 5:52 am

 

Shami said:

Jad ,what you saw was not the case prior the so called secular baath.
And the happy Syria as our fathers knew it ,is part of our nostalgia.
The christian community has lost its past prestige,the jews have almost completly left(no more jews in Aleppo and less than 100 in Damascus) ,religious radicalization is not only the case of the Muslim Syrians ,but also the Christians who are less educated and poorer…the Alawites are the true losers despite all of what is said about the Alawite supremacy over the regime ,they are seen as spies,profitors and mukhabarat agents.Bashar who enjoy some popularity must kick out all these corrupt mukhabarat ,remove the special laws and especially the tragic law 49 and make peace with the syrian people as whole,he should above all recognize the mistakes of his father and stop this hypocrite and very kitschy portrait mania.Also the old buildings from the Muslim caliphat and french eras must be preserved and restored because they are the only beautiful things in Syria.

January 8th, 2009, 6:24 am

 

jad said:

AP
Mind your buisness and keep supporting Israel for the killing of innocent people

January 8th, 2009, 7:50 am

 

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