“What are the Prospects for Syrian-Israeli Peace?” by Seale, Khouri, & Allaf

No one seems particularly optimistic about Olmert's recent announcement that Israel is back in the peace negotiating business. The distrust between Syria and Israel will be very hard to overcome. Most people believe that Syrian-Israeli dialogue is more a sign of cunning maneuver than a real turn away from Bush administration strategy, which has been about forcing Syria to change regime behavior. 

What are the Prospects for Syrian-Israeli Peace?
by Patrick Seale: 2 May 2008
 
The only faintly hopeful aspect of the current frost between Syria and Israel is that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems determined to bring the two countries to the negotiating table. Turkey has emerged over the past year as the principal, indeed the only serious, broker between these bitter enemies.
 
Erdogan has recently been in Damascus for talks with President Bashar al-Asad and is planning to send an emissary to Israel to brief Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the outcome of his discussions. His Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has confirmed that messages between Syria and Israel have been exchanged through Turkey over the past year, and that this traffic ‘has intensified in the past few months.’ Turkey’s immediate aim would seem to be to get low-level talks started as a prelude to bringing the leaders of Syria and Israel together.
 
The U.S., in contrast, has openly opposed Israeli contacts with Syria, and has sought instead to sanction and isolate Damascus, accusing it of interfering in both Lebanon and Iraq against American interests.
 
In spite of this negative American attitude, Syrian officials continue to believe that only the United States can bring talks with Israel to a successful conclusion. This may be because they are aware that only the U.S. can give Israel the reassurance, and possibly even the guarantees, it may need to agree to a Golan withdrawal.
 
Since Damascus has no confidence in the Bush administration — responsible, in its view, for the greatest disasters in the region – it awaits the outcome of November’s U.S. presidential elections in the hope that the next American president will take Middle East peace-making seriously, and broker a deal.
 
President Bashar al-Asad’s position remains the well-known position of his father, the late President Hafiz al-Asad, namely that Israel must endorse the ‘land-for-peace’ formula for talks to have a chance of success.  In other words, Israel must commit itself to full withdrawal from the Golan to the 4 June 1967 border.
 
In 1993, and again in 1994, the former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin pledged to the Americans that he would carry out a full withdrawal from the Golan in the context of a peace agreement with Syria. When Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish fanatic in November 1995, Shimon Peres, on taking over as prime minister, repeated the pledge. But Benjamin Netanyahu, premier from 1996 to 1999, and then Ehud Barak, in 1999-2000, both refused to do so.
 
Syria now wants Olmert to demonstrate the same will for peace as Rabin. The Syrian view is that once Israel promises to return the territory, all other contentious issues can be put ‘on the table,’ including whatever legitimate security concerns Israel may have.
 
Against this background, something of a stir was caused last week when the Syrian media announced that Erdogan had  phoned Asad to say that Olmert had told him that he was prepared to return the Golan to Syria. Was this, Damascus speculated, the long-awaited breakthrough?
 
Israeli spokesmen would not, however, confirm the report beyond saying that Israel was ‘well aware of the price it would have to pay at the end of the talks’ – an ambiguous formula which fell short of what the Syrians would have liked to hear.
 
Meanwhile, Olmert’s apparent readiness to return the Golan aroused a storm of protest in Israel. Likud chairman Netanyahu denounced Olmert’s ‘suicidal concession’, while David Tal, head of the Knesset’s House Committee, said that he hoped to pass a bill requiring any Golan withdrawal to be submitted to a national referendum.
 
This was not good news since the latest Israeli poll, published in the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, showed that only 32 per cent of the Israeli public approved a full withdrawal from the Golan. It was clear that Israeli public opinion would have to be won over for a deal with Syria to become possible.
 
In public pronouncements, both President Asad and Prime Minister Olmert have said that they want peace. Asad told former U.S.President Jimmy Carter, on the latter’s recent visit to the Middle East, that 85 per cent of the issues between Israel and Syria had been resolved in the 1990s, and that he was anxious to conclude peace as soon as possible. Syria wants peace in order to recover the Golan, lost to Israel in the 1967 war, and in order to modernize and reform its society.
 
In reality, Asad and Olmert are profoundly skeptical of each other’s sincerity. The Syrians see Olmert as a weak leader, without vision or moral authority, who is unable or unwilling to make peace. They do not believe he is the man to persuade Israeli opinion of the benefits of peace.
 
They suspect that he is pretending to move on the Syrian track in order to frighten Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas into making concessions, for fear of being left alone to face Israel. Israel has traditionally sought to play one Arab track against another. Israel, in turn, sees Syria as its most implacable enemy, the only one of its neighbours to pose a military threat, particularly in view of Syria’s alliance with Iran and with Lebanon’s Hizballah.
 
Israel makes no secret of its prime motive for seeking peace with Syria. It is to sever Syria’s relations with both Iran and Hizballah, in order to bring down the Tehran-Damascus-South Lebanon axis, which Israel and the U.S. see as the main obstacle to their regional hegemony.
 
But asking Syria to sever links with Iran is as unrealistic as asking Israel to sever links with the United States. Syria and Iran have been strategic partners for nearly three decades, since the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980. For Syria – and indeed for several Arab countries, especially in the Gulf — Iran will always be an important regional power whose weight and influence cannot be ignored. Syrian officials concede, however, that in a context of peace their dependence on Iran would inevitably lessen.
 
As for Hizballah, the Syrian view is that, once Israel returns the Shab‘a Farms to Lebanon, once it releases long-term Lebanese prisoners, and once the Shi‘a community secures its proper place in Lebanon’s political system, then Hizballah will cease to be an armed resistance movement and will become a peaceful political party.
 
There remains the delicate question of the relationship between the Syrian and Palestinian tracks. Syria cannot consider concluding a separate peace with Israel unless the Palestinians, too, are on their way to obtaining their national rights. The two tracks need not advance in unison, but they are certainly complementary. The Syrians hope to play a role in unifying Palestinian ranks and in helping to bring about a Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.
 
These ambitions must, for the time being, remain in the realm of wishful thinking. Seen from Damascus, Israel remains a dangerously aggressive and unpredictable neighbour. Its unprovoked air strike against a military facility in eastern Syria last September, not to mention its continued slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza – which must be judged state terrorism at its very worst – do not send a message to Syrian and Arab opinion that the Jewish state is yet ready for peaceful integration into the region.
[end ]

Things Are Moving, But The Us Is Absent
By Rami Khouri
In The Daily Star (Lebanon), Opinion    
April 30, 2008

One of the important developments in Middle Eastern diplomacy that becomes more obvious with every passing month is the continued marginalization of the United States….

The more the US is marginalized diplomatically as a would-be mediator because of its shortsighted tendency to nearly blindly support Israel's positions, buttress Arab autocrats, and oppose the large, populist Islamo-nationalist movements, the more the other mediators from the Middle East make progress in resolving or reducing the intensity of conflicts.

Two cases in particular are noteworthy: the indirect Hamas-Israel negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza (mediated by Egypt), and the indirect Israeli-Syrian contacts to achieve a full peace treaty (mediated by Turkey). Both are enormously important developments. If consummated, they would represent solid, even historic, steps toward a resolution of the century-old Arab-Israeli conflict. The chances of success are slim, but they are not zero, and that in itself is noteworthy.

I find it striking that the four most significant or dynamic mediators on major regional problems in the past year have been four regional players: Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. President George W. Bush's effort to prod Israeli-Palestinian peace-making, on the other hand, seems hapless and lacking in credibility, because it is aimed more at pleasing Israel than at meeting the minimal demands and rights of both Israelis and Palestinians….

The US seems often to want to stoke the fires of ideological tension and military conflict by supporting, arming, financing and training one side in domestic political contests such as those in Lebanon and Palestine. The US (and Europe in some cases) is also severely hampered by its decision to boycott or heavily downgrade contacts with key players like Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria and Iran. The combination of boycotting legitimate actors while actively promoting local confrontations with them is a recipe for what we are witnessing in the Middle East these days: a growing number of political conflicts within countries, and strong linkages between warring actors across the region.

Episodic local tensions have now been transformed into a major and chronic cycle of region-wide political battles, pitting US- and Israeli-backed "moderates" against a wide array of Islamists, "extremists" and "militants" in the Arab world and Iran.

The most important diplomatic process these days is the Syrian-Israeli one. Israelis and Syrians alike have made it clear that something serious is taking place behind the scenes. … A Syrian-Israeli peace agreement would impact heavily on every major issue in the vicinity, because Syria has strategic and tactical relations with every nearby major player and country: Iran, Lebanon, Hizbullah, Iraq, Palestine and Hamas. … Syria for its part will also want direct or indirect influence over Lebanon, and a downgrading of the international tribunal that will prosecute those to be indicted for the Hariri and other murders in Lebanon since February 2005. Lebanon and the international community are reluctant to offer these to Syria, but probably do not totally rule out a reasonable, face-saving compromise. Many Lebanese will be rightly worried that they are about to be sold out.

Syrian-Israeli peace would totally change the political equation in the region, and probably lead to historic changes in Lebanon, Hizbullah's standing, Iran's regional role, the Iraqi situation, and political conditions in Palestine. It is telling of the damage that the US has done to its own role and impact in the Middle East that the potentially most important diplomatic development in the past generation seems to be taking place without any significant American role.
[end]

Faking It
Rime Allaf – May 2008
Bitter Lemons International

Facts have rarely gotten in the Bush administration's way when demonizing a political opponent, even when that opponent has actually tried to accommodate multiple American demands. Accused of enemy complicity in most places where the US or its allies are involved, Syria has nevertheless regularly offered concrete help in the "war on terror….

Comments (268)


Rowan Berkeley said:

you’ve done the same thing I pointed out before with the link to the Rami Khouri article. It should be
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=91589

in fact the only one of the three I find at all encouraging is the third one – especially because “Rime Allaf is associate fellow at London’s Chatham House.”

May 2nd, 2008, 4:55 pm

 

Alex said:

I would like to add to Rami’s point about the marginalized US role … Saudi Arabia’s role will probably also be marginalized.

The Saudis are very unhappy with Syria’s pick of Turkey as their mediator with Israel.

The Saudis wanted the Syrians to go to Riyadh to ask for their help to convince Washington to convince Israel to …

But one of the biggest stories of the past few years was the way America’s Arab friends who participated in attempts to isolate and weaken Syria (not to mention regime change) finally pushed Syria away from the traditional Arab world alliances, and towards non-Arab allies … Turkey and Iran.

While they are executing Syrians in Saudi Arabia, and while the editor of Asharq Alawsat keeps writing anti Syria editorial twice a week, the Syrians are telling the Saudis again: “we don’t really need you” … we don’t need you economically (Qatar, Kuwait,a dn Dubai are happy to invest in Syria without asking for political concessions in return, like the Saudis always do) … and we don’t need you as our passage to Washington.

Last week Assad politely offered to visit Riyadh … but that visit was going to be more like the winning team’s coach walking towards the losing team’s coach to congratulate him on the good match his team played … and lost.

Saudi Arabia, and Egypt will need to make serious adjustments in their attitude towards Damascus if they want to get legitimacy and relevance again … if not, they can keep mediating and playing imaginary roles in the regional conflicts … and they will keep failing to score any long lasting success.

And the United States … hopeless case, until the next administration.

Although I heard that there are some contacts with Syria already.

May 2nd, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I’m really surprised that the Rime Allaf piece, pretty much ridiculing the whole Syria reactor story, is on Bitter Lemons, because some recent events have made me feel that Yossi Alpher is tied to some very hard line zionist positions*, of the sort that would normally be unwilling to admit anything that might in any real way weaken any of the zionist positions*. I know that in relative terms he seems moderate and even leftish, but I tend to think of left zionists in high places as being the ‘con cops’ in what William Burroughs, using what is probably old criminal slang, called the “tough cop, con cop” teams, whereby the two cops are really working as a team, one pretending to be sympathetic to the target and the other pretending to be unsympathetic, and the two alternating to pump the target dry, by playing on his emotions. In other words, I don’t trust any of them. And Alpher was once upon a time at or near the top of the Mossad – you don’t get there by being nice to people.

The Rime Allaf piece makes a bit more sense if you put it in the context of the Eyal Zisser piece, which flatly confirms that a reactor is what was bombed. Thus, Allaf’s piece is simply placed alongside it to give a (false) impression of open-mindedness on the subject, just enough to offset the impression of not listening to alternative voices, but not enough to dent the ‘authoritative consensus of experts’ effect that Zisser represents. A third piece in that special edition of Bitter Lemons, Waleed Sadi’s, takes a weaker but still confirmatory view that it was a reactor.

*Note regarding “zionist positions” : the sort of street level zionism that I often find in the Israeli music I like seems perfectly innocent and normal. I add this to make it clear that ordinary street level zionism doesn’t upset me, any more than ordinary street level patriotism anywhere else in the world does. When I criticise “hard line zionist positions” I am talking about warmongering, imperialist liars in high places, not the poor citizens in the street, who after all will be the first to die when the bombs fall.

May 2nd, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

abraham said:

But one of the biggest stories of the past few years was the way America’s Arab friends who participated in attempts to isolate and weaken Syria (not to mention regime change) finally pushed Syria away from the traditional Arab world alliances, and towards non-Arab allies … Turkey and Iran.

Hi Alex.

I think ultimately this will strengthen Syria. For too long it has tried to hold on to the “Pan-Arab” mantle that has long since disintegrated in the face of Egyptian and especially Saudi and more recently Jordanian subordination to American interests. Those interests could more accurately be described as zionist interests because in the end they only serve to reinforce Israel’s drive for hegemony in the ME.

It does makes me wonder what those countries are getting in return. Of course, their regimes are getting the backing of the US both diplomatically and militarily, thus ensuring their survival and the continuity of their rule by bequeathing it to their successor generations (of course America demands democracy from the Palestinians but gives these regimes a pass), but surely these regimes aren’t dumb. Well, King Hussein of Jordan notwithstanding…that man is as vacuous as the outer reaches of our galaxy.

But the immediacy of the protection against the ascendant “Islamist” factions doesn’t explain it all. The Saudis are too smart to fall into any American trap that will keep them reliant on the US forever. If anything, the Saudis have set a trap for America since we are more dependent on their oil than vice versa. Mubarak is only getting a pass because the Bush administation, despite all its vapid rhetoric, tolerates a dictatorship as long as it’s OUR dictatorship. And “King” Hussein only benefits with the relative lack of news coming out of his fiefdom, for now at least, but they have a longer term threat to deal with in the form of an unhappy populace.

Perhaps they are just riding out the current administration, hopeful that the Bush regime really will be gone after this November (to this I say this is hardly any guarantee…Bush and his cronies have demonstrated their willingness to ignore the Constitution on innumberable occasions) and then equally hopeful that the subsequent adminstration will work in more traditional manners of diplomacy rather than dictate rule by stupidity and insanity.

For the Saudis it comes down to the arrogance afforded by their oil profits. It is the same arrogance, by the way, that drives Iran to defy the US and the rest of the Western hypocrites that have relentlessly hounded that country. They (SA) really have nothing to worry about, and nothing to lose by humoring the US. They could care less if Iraq is turned into a humanitarian wasteland and it seems they’ve grown tired of the Palestinian cause.

Mubarak and Hussein, on the other hand, have their work cut out for them. In the end, all they can really rely on is the backing of the US Tomahawk missile. They will be kissing major ass once/if a new administration takes over in the US, and their actions of late make sense in this regard as they are trying to consolidate power for when the shit hits the fan.

But why have they so brazenly sold out on the Palestinians? I can only conclude that they faced the same dilemma that Musharraf did when the US threatened to destroy his country unless he agreed to align himself with them in the War of Terror. The US has had plans to seize SA’s oil fields for a while, Egypt stood to lose its foreign aid boondoggle, and a little tin-pot dictator like Hussein of Jordan could be flicked away with little effort, with not even all those fake medals he wears on his military duds affording him any protection. Comply or die was basically the offer.

As a Syrian I can tell you that we are very loyal and will give our friends the benefit of the doubt. But once their duplicity is confirmed, and especially when we learn how readily they caved, we are incredibly obstinate. If relations between Syria and SA/Egypt/Jordan improve, it won’t be for a long time. In the eyes of Syrians, they are sell-outs of the worst kind, turning their backs not only on their cousins but on their own brothers. Tfeh!

I’m rather glad that Syria has steadfastly held to its relations with Iran, and is now opening new ties to Turkey. While I’m not that much of a fan of some of Turkey’s actions, I understand that they are acting in their own best interests, and I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that those interests included rebuffing the American request to use Turkey as a launchpad for attacks against Iraq in 2003. That’s more than Jordan or SA could say. (I’m still convinced of my theory that the Israelis flew over Jordan with their permission to sneak attack Syria from their eastern border).

The one thing that the Syrian regime needs to do most is to continue its reforms. I don’t think they need to speed them up, although that would be of obvious benefit. But ultimately Syria needs to show its better side and prove to the world that Arabs can be more of a democracy than anyone. If the Assad family doesn’t hand over power to the people when the present threat has passed then their time will come as well. But until that time, Syrians both within the country and abroad need to understand that the enemy is not the Assad family but the illegitimate country to its south and its Western patrons (and vice versa: the Assad regime needs to understand that the Syrians demanding freedom and democracy are not the enemy). Brother should not fight brother before the threat of the other. The real threats are Israel, the US, and Al Qaeda, probably in that order.

May 2nd, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Observer said:

This is a dead horse being beaten to death again. Barak says Golan is part of Israel. A new wave of settlements and economic and tourism projects and they talk of peace. This is a farce. Please move to another subject matter.

May 2nd, 2008, 6:31 pm

 

abraham said:

Rowan, re: good cop/bad cop, you nailed it. Those zionists that advocate for peace with the Palestinians are still zionists, meaning in the end they want the Palestinians to settle for their 22% of Palestine and no Right of Return. The only Israeli’s worth listening to are those that advocate one nation. No Jewish supremacy, no settlements, and zionism strictly prohibited. There should be one nation for all peoples inside what is currently called Israel and the occupied territories, with equality for all regardless of race or religion. Like I said plenty of times before, call it Israel or call it Palestine, I don’t care, but make it one nation for all.

If the zionists don’t want to accept that then they will ultimately have to accept defeat. And time is running out for them.

May 2nd, 2008, 6:34 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Let’s assume there is peace next year. How will this solve the “problem” of Israel being hegemonic in the middle east? It would still have the most advanced economy and military by far, and peace will only allow Israel’s economy to grow even faster.

May 2nd, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

A friendly Israel is welcome to have the strongest army and the most advanced economy.

But Turkey, Dubai, and even Syria, after peace will not be that helpless compared to Israel’s economy.

A peace agreement with Syria can only be finalized if there is a regional agreement. That’s partly why Kissinger deicided that it is easier to work on Egypt than to work on Syria in 1975.

May 2nd, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG,

How will Israel’s economy fare when the US economy experiences the coming cataclysm? What will Israel be able to fall back on since the only industry you will have left is occupation?

May 2nd, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Turkey and Dubai are not influenced at all by the Israeli-Arab conflict. I doubt very much that your attitude about Israel being the hegemon in the region after peace is shared by most Arabs, and for many decades, until the Arab countries develop, Israel will be the hegemon. That is the peace without “justice” that most Arabs won’t accept.

Abraham,
In a world wide economic depression, Israel will fare much much better than any Arab country. That is just a fact based on 60 years of history.

May 2nd, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG,

How can you conjecture this when Israel didn’t even exist in the late 1920s when the Great Depression started? Regardless, what industry does Israel have that won’t be affected by the lack of US$10 billion in aid and loans? How does comparing Israel’s economy to any Arab economy answer my inquiry? Especially in light of the fact that S.A. will still have oil and Israel will still have occupation?

May 2nd, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

abraham said:

IMF Gross Domestic Product rankings for 2007:

17 Turkey – 663,419
25 Saudi Arabia – 376,029
29 Iran – 294,089
37 United Arab Emirates – 192,603
44 Israel – 161,935
47 Pakistan – 143,766
52 Egypt – 127,930

Number figure is millions of US dollars.

AIG, in light of this information, how do you explain your statement that “Israel will fare much much better than any Arab country” since it is well behind two Arab countries currently in terms of GDP?

May 2nd, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Over a period of 60 years we have seen the economic growth of Israel. It has proved reseilient through war and depression. The Israeli economy was the same as that of Syria and Lebanon in 1948 but now Israelis are 6 to 7 times richer on average. In 2006, in spite of the Lebanon war, the Iraeli economy grew 5%. The Israeli economy is a well diversified one and is a leader in high tech.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Israel

Israel can easily loan money from any country not just the US. Recently, the credit rating of Israel was raised again. The economic aid to Israel is about $3 billion relative to a GDP of $180 billion. Israel can easily get along well without it. Israel has abundant foreign reserves and the Shekel is very strong lately (becuase of the huge foreign investments in Israel). For example, the first company Warren Buffet purchased abroad was an Israeli one. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2006/gb20060508_953503.htm

So Abraham, get real.

May 2nd, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

In a world wide economic depression, Israel will fare much much better than any Arab country. That is just a fact based on 60 years of history

Have you AIG watched how for example the Eqypt stock exchange (CCSI index) has developed during the past year and how Tel Aviv (TEL-AV TASE-100 IND index) have developed? 🙂

The Arab oil nations have now the world’s “capital” and this time seems that they will also invest massively in their own region. Not only to west and obsolete US weapons.

AIG even in case of peace Israel’s economical role in Middle East will be minimal. It hardly will became the petrochemical Mediterranean hub. Syria will be it. The natural lines of oil and gas pipelines go through Syria and many end there. That is suppose also the main reason why USA is so desperately seeking regime change. It is much cheaper and politically safer to line the pipelines from Middle East’s oilfields through Syria than the mountainous and politically risky Kurd area.

Lately Russia and Iran have had big successes in new oil and gas lines. That makes USA extremely nervous, when its oil dreams seem to collapse one after one. An interesting development is the new established US feet for Latin America. By the way Latin America’s economy has developed during Bush’s time in giant steps when USA has not had time to bring them “democracy”.

AIG what has Israel in reality to offer in economical terms to Middle East, what German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Turks, Iranian s etc can not deliver. They will hardly by Merkavas.

http://rawiamorra.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/merkava.jpg

May 2nd, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

ABRAHAM,

Nominal GDP numbers are meaningless unless you divide them by the respective population of each country.

If you and I lived on an island with a GDP of only 50,000 Dollars, we would enjoy double the per capita GDP of close to 70 million Turks with $663,419 million.

It is “per capita/person” that one ought to look at. Looking at it this way, this is how your list looks:

Turkey = $9,344
KSA = $13,930
Iran = $4,520
UAE = $48,000
Israel = $23,400
Pakistan = $870
Egypt = $1,590

May 2nd, 2008, 8:54 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

It is “per capita/person” that one ought to look at.

Not necessary Eshani2. The total figure shows the economical might of the nation. per person number “only” tells the level of the living standard. Or do you see Luxenbourg as a bigger economical power than USA?

May 2nd, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

I did not know that we are measuring “economic power”. For the half million people of Luxembourg to have a GDP of 50 billion is remarkable. It is indeed the case that the “average” Luxembourg citizen enjoys a much higher standard of living than his/her US counterpart. Using your definition of economic power entails moving to large fast breeding nations that allows you to boast a high nominal GDP (cake) but only to use it (eat it) with millions like you. As for me, I would rather be in Luxembourg with “weak economic power”.

May 2nd, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Doesn’t Eshani2 the Gross Domestic Product rankings tell what is discussed? Living standard is of course important especially on personal level. But when we speak about a country’s economical “power” it is measured by the total figure.

Luxenbourg hardly can send a man to moon or afford an aircraft carrier. Or not even Israel. But big nations like China, India, Turkey one day even Iran could do it. Even the people per capita counted are much more richer in Luxenbourg than in those big countries.

Using your definition of economic power entails moving to large fast breeding nations that allows you to boast a high nominal GDP (cake) but only to use it (eat it) with millions like you. As for me, I would rather be in Luxembourg with “weak economic power”.

What is our economist speaking? It is not my definition. USA is seen as the biggest country economy in the world because of its TOTAL GDP value. Per capita counted USA is on the place number 8. So is USA number one or number 8?

The fast “breeding” China,India etc are becoming bigger economies. In a decade or two China will pass USA as the biggest economy. Still Chinese will then be poorer than average American.

May 2nd, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Fair enough. No argument there. If the idea is to list the largest economies irrespective of their population, then there is nothing to argue about.

May 2nd, 2008, 10:17 pm

 

abraham said:

Ehsani2, correct, it is purely economic output. But in Israel’s case, I wouldn’t necessarily call the living standards of the occupied Palestinians very good. If Israel is going to occupy them then it ought to own them economically too, especially since they are required by international law to care for their occupied population. And I don’t want to hear any counter-argument that the P.A. is responsible. The P.A. de facto does not exist.

At any rate, AIG hasn’t yet responded to any of my queries above. He’s usually right on top of these things. I’m disappointed.

May 2nd, 2008, 11:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

You asked me a question on the last post about the number of county-level electoral districts (qada)there are in Lebanon. There are twenty-five.

Here’s a list:

Akkar Governorate:

* Akkar (Halba)

Beirut Governorate:

* Beirut

Mount Lebanon Governorate:

* Baabda (Baabda)
* Aley (Aley)
* Matn (Jdeideh)
* Keserwan (Jounieh)
* Chouf (Beiteddine)
* Jbeil (Byblos)

North Governorate:

* Tripoli (Tripoli)

* Zgharta (Zgharta / Ehden)
* Bsharri (Bsharri)
* Batroun (Batroun)
* Koura (Amioun)
* Miniyeh-Danniyeh (Minyeh / Sir Ed-Danniyeh)

Beqaa Governorate:

* Zahle (Zahle)
* Rashaya (Rashaya)
* Western Beqaa (Jebjennine / Saghbine)

South Governorate:

* Sidon (Sidon)
* Jezzine (Jezzine)
* Tyre (Tyre)

Nabatiye Governorate:

* Nabatiyeh (Nabatiyeh)
* Marjeyoun (Marjeyoun)
* Hasbaya (Hasbaya)
* Bint Jbeil (Bint Jbeil)

Baalbek-Hermel:

* Baalbek (Baalbek)
* Hermel (Hermel)

May 2nd, 2008, 11:38 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham said:

But ultimately Syria needs to show its better side and prove to the world that Arabs can be more of a democracy than anyone.

What kind of a time horizon are you talking about, Abraham? Is there a democracy switch somewhere in Damascus that Bashar’s going to flip once “the illegitimate country to the south” is gone?

May 2nd, 2008, 11:53 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I think that it might be worth considering that a new nuclear power users’ group is developing in the region (I would rather not call it an ‘axis’) and that Saudi and Pakistan are the founder members, Saudi in the sense that I believe that Saudi has funded and sponsored Pakistan’s development of nuclear power since its inception.

One other thing I believe is that the non-proliferation regime as run by the USA is far more concerned with not losing face than it is with accuracy. They proved that many years ago by deliberately ignoring Pakistan’s move from mere nucelar power generation to nuclear weapons. In my view, until recently, the USA and its creature, the IAEA, preferred for this simple reason to ignore the rather obvious activities of A Q Khan’s large and highly visible ‘nuclear bazaar.’

It would be silly to ascribe this selective blindness on their part to anything but considerations of prestige ; it could never have been seriously believed that Pakistan was any more of a US pawn than any other country. The idea that Pakistan was “on their side in the War on Terror” in some sense Iran was not was never more than pure face saving. In a way, the slow, solemn humiliation of the USA before the eyes of the world is rather a masterpiece on the part of the Muslim world, with Russia, China and India looking on in slight surprise, unable to quite believe the USA could really have been such a facade of imaginary ‘hyperpower’ all along.

May 3rd, 2008, 12:03 am

 

Nour said:

بيان للأول من أيار( عيد العمل )

الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي

مفوضية الشام المركزية

ـ يا أبناء شعبنا السوري العظيم . .

ـ أيها المنتجون علماً وفكراً وفناً وغلالاً وصناعة . .

ـ أنتم الأمة خلقاً وإنتاجاً وتشييداً . . .

ـ يا من تبنون بجهدكم مجد الأمة . .

ـ ماذا نحدثكم في عيدكم… يوم تكريم ـ العمل ـ الجهد المبذول في الإنتاج لسد حاجات الحياة المتنامية لكم؟

ـ ماذا نحدثكم في عيدكم … وفي أي حال أنتم في هذا العيد ؟

ـ ماذا نحدثكم … نحن الذين أخذنا على عاتقنا حمل همومكم ، ومعالجة قضاياكم ؟

وعوامل الطبيعة ، صقيعٌ وشح أمطار ، وعواصف رملية أهلكت زرعكم وضرعكم !!

وحكومتنا العتيدة غير باصرة … وقد تركت الشعب يتلظى في جهنم الأسعار ، وجشع التجار ، ومحرقة الضرائب … وفوضى الاستهلاك … وهي المنكفئة عن التفكير بكيفية استثمار ثروات الوطن وطنياً … والعاجزة عن صيانة الحق المقدس للمواطن ـ حق العمل ـ ما فاقم البطالة وشعّب آثارها … حكومة انتهجت منهجاً اقتصادياً سياسياً يتهرب من مسؤولية الدولة الرعائية للمجتمع ، ليجعله تحت سيطرة الرأسمال التجاري الفردي .

ـ هل نحدثكم عن راتب شهري يفر من بين أيديكم قبل أن يصل إلى جيوبكم ؟

ـ أم نحدثكم عن فاتورة الكهرباء … وسعر العدس … ووصفة الدواء … ؟ ولو دخلنا في تعداد هموم قوتكم اليومي التي لا تعد ، والغلبة لكم في عدها !!

ـ أم نحدثكم عنّا كشعب يتجه في نمط حياته ليكون نموذجاً للمجتمع الاستهلاكي ؟ وما أخطر أن يكون المجتمع استهلاكياً تموت فيه طاقة الإنتاج والإبداع فينخره الفساد ، ويتجه نحو المجهول !!

ـ هذه حالنا !! والمسؤولية متكاملة بين الحكومة والشعب ، وإن اختلفت نسبياً في المراتب ، وتبقى المسؤولية الأساسية هي مسؤولية المواطن تجاه شعبه ووطنه ، في أي موقع كان من المسؤولية .

ـ أيها الشعب ، والحكومة من هذا الشعب …

كل منهج اقتصادي يجب أن ينبثق من نظرة شاملة للحياة في المجتمع المعني ليصح أن تتخذ أساساً سليماً في التطبيق العملي ، وحسب الظروف الخاصة بالزمن الذي يجري فيه التطبيق العملي . وهنا نضع رؤيتنا لمعالجة الوضع الاقتصادي الذي يعاني منه المواطن والشعب .

إن حكومة اختصاصيين هي الخطوة الأولى التي يجب اتخاذها أولاً ويكون منهاجها :

1 ـ اعتماد سياسة اقتصادية تعمل على صيانة مصلحة الشعب والدولة ، والابتعاد عن مفهوم الاقتصاد السياسي ، الذي أخضع مصالح الشعب لسيطرة الرأسمال التجاري الفردي .

2 ـ الابتعاد عن مفهوم الاقتصاد الذي يخضع مصالح الشعب للمصالح الفردية ، والمعتمد على قانون العرض والطلب ، والذي أفقد الدولة قدرتها على ضبط حركة الأسعار في السوق ، ناهيك عن كوننا مجتمعاً يعيش حالة صراع وجودي مع العدو اليهودي الذي يلاقي دعماً ممن يسمون أنفسهم دول الاعتدال المحيطة بوطننا، وهو ما يشكل تهديداً لنا كدولة وشعب . لذلك نرى وجوب اعتماد منهج الاقتصاد القومي الاجتماعي ، الذي يدعو الدولة إلى التدخل لضبط حركة الإنتاج والتسويق والأسعار في السوق الداخلية ، ومنع الاحتكار لجني الأرباح الفاحشة .

3 ـ تصحيح أو تحسين مستوى الأجور بما يحقق سد حاجات المواطن وبما يؤمن التوازن بين الدخل ومتطلبات الحياة.

4 ـ إيجاد مشاريع إنتاجية وطنية تقضي على البطالة وتحسن حالة البلاد اقتصادياً واجتماعياً ، وضبط العمل إدارياً لدى مكاتب التشغيل في المحافظات .

5 ـ اعتماد مبدأ الاختصاص في تعيين المسؤولية عن إدارة مرافق الدولة ، والابتعاد عن مبدأ المحاصصة السياسية في التعيين .

6 ـ ضبط عمليات الاستيراد والتصدير بناءً على دراسة حاجات المجتمع ، وعدم اعتماد قانون العرض والطلب وبدع السوق الاستهلاكية .

7 ـ حفظ مركز الرأسمال الوطني في جميع مشاريع الاستثمار ، وعدم السماح للرأسمال الأجنبي وحده باستثمار مشاريع في أية بقعة وطنية .

8 ـ اعتماد مبدأ القيمومة في ملكية رأس المال : أرض ـ إنسان ـ وسائل إنتاج ، بمعنى أن كل مالك لهذه الوسائل لا يملكها إلاّ بمقدار ما تكون خادمة لإنتاج ما يسد حاجة المجتمع .

إن عملية البيع العشوائي للأراضي الزراعية ولمساحات كبيرة جداً لشركات تكاد لا تكون معروفة وشركات مؤسسة حديثاً ـ وبشكل شكلي ـ للاستفادة من ثغرات القوانين للتملك ، وخاصة أن هذه الملكيات لهذه الشركات هي ملكيات صورية لأصحاب رؤوس أموال أجنبية عامة وخليجية خاصة ، أدت إلى تعطيل إنتاجية هذه الأراضي وتركها قاحلة غير مستثمرة ، مما أدى إلى انخفاض إنتاجية الغذاء الأساسي في الشام وأدى إلى رفع الأسعار بشكل كبير ، مما جعلنا نستورد بعض المواد الزراعية والغذائية الهامة ( مثل البطاطا ) من دول خليجية … !!

أيها المنتجون السوريون …

هذه المطالب تحتم علينا وعينا لحقيقة وجودنا مجتمعاً واحداً في وحدة حياة ووحدة مصير ، وأن نكون مجتمعاً منتجاً وضابطاً لحالة الاستهلاك المتفشية في المجتمع ، منطلقين من قاعدة أن كل سوري يجب أن يكون منتجاً بطريقة من الطرق ، فالعمل شرف الحياة ، وأن قاعدة الإنتاج وزيادته وتحسينه كماً ونوعاً هو ما يمكننا من بناء قاعدة اقتصادية تحل مشاكلنا وتضمن وحدة الوطن وتصون سيادته .

آمنوا واعملوا وجاهدوا ، تنتصروا ويتحقق عزّ الأمة

المفوض المركزي

في 1 ـ أيار ـ 2008 الدكتور علي حيدر

May 3rd, 2008, 1:12 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex said:

“Would like to add to Rami’s point about the marginalized US role “

“The Saudis are very unhappy with Syria’s pick of Turkey as their mediator with Israel”

“The Saudis wanted the Syrians to go to Riyadh to ask for their help to convince Washington to convince Israel to”

Not that I care for Saudis, But I don’t believe the KSA cares. The Saudis just care about Lebanon and Iraq and they are talking directly to the Iranians about them. I just don’t see how the talk of Turkish mediation would bother them after all it’s just talk ..we all know it’s not going anywhere.

After all, the Syrians are looking for America’s blessing and that’s not going to be accomplished through Turkish Mediation.

May 3rd, 2008, 1:54 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai (if you’re around)

Perhaps this is privileged information, but can you tell us what Alon’s role is (if any) in the current Israel-Syria peace initiative being brokered by the Turks?

May 3rd, 2008, 2:37 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Having problems posting, but here goes again.

Abraham,

The figure you want to look at is GDP per capita but more importantly you want to look at the UN Human development reports:
http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr_20072008_en_indicator_tables.pdf

Israel is ahead of any of the Arab countries.

Over a period of 60 years we have seen the economic growth of Israel. It has proved reseilient through war and depression. The Israeli economy was the same as that of Syria and Lebanon in 1948 but now Israelis are 6 to 7 times richer on average. In 2006, in spite of the Lebanon war, the Iraeli economy grew 5%. The Israeli economy is a well diversified one and is a leader in high tech.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Israel

Israel can easily loan money from any country not just the US. Recently, the credit rating of Israel was raised again. The economic aid to Israel is about $3 billion relative to a GDP of $180 billion. Israel can easily get along well without it. Israel has abundant foreign reserves and the Shekel is very strong lately (becuase of the huge foreign investments in Israel). For example, the first company Warren Buffet purchased abroad was an Israeli one. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2006/gb20060508_953503.htm

So Abraham, get real.

May 3rd, 2008, 2:44 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I am having problems posting my detailed answer to you. Perhaps Alex will free it from the spam filter. But maybe this short version will go through.
The figure you want to look at is GDP per capita but more importantly you want to look at the UN Human development reports:
http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/hdr_20072008_en_indicator_tables.pdf

Israel is ahead of any of the Arab countries.

May 3rd, 2008, 2:58 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Also, over a period of 60 years we have seen the economic growth of Israel. It has proved reseilient through war and depression. The Israeli economy was the same as that of Syria and Lebanon in 1948 but now Israelis are 6 to 7 times richer on average. In 2006, in spite of the Lebanon war, the Iraeli economy grew 5%. The Israeli economy is a well diversified one and is a leader in high tech.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Israel

May 3rd, 2008, 2:59 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Israel can easily loan money from any country not just the US. Recently, the credit rating of Israel was raised again. The economic aid to Israel is about $3 billion relative to a GDP of $180 billion. Israel can easily get along well without it. Israel has abundant foreign reserves and the Shekel is very strong lately (becuase of the huge foreign investments in Israel). For example, the first company Warren Buffet purchased abroad was an Israeli one. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2006/gb20060508_953503.htm

So Abraham, get real.

May 3rd, 2008, 2:59 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

This Akiva Eldar story in Haaretz only seems to me to make sense if you assume that open war has broken out between Livni and Olmert, and that Eldar is actually getting his briefings from the Livni side. (I have synopsised slightly).
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980176.html

“Olmert’s attempt to reopen the Syrian channel at the expense of the talks with the Palestinians will not only accomplish nothing on either front; such a move might unsettle even the fragile peace with Jordan and Egypt and bury the Arab peace initiative. According to briefings held by close Olmert associates, there is a race between Olmert’s emissaries to Syrian President Bashar Assad and the discreet talks that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is holding with chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia. Recent reports have portrayed the prime minister as a vigorous statesman without requiring him to pay a political price for it. It is hard to imagine that Olmert believes Assad will cut off his ties to Iran and Hezbollah as long as the US is keeping him outside a locked door. In fact, Olmert is part of a big charade being held for the upcoming visit by President Bush, patron of the Annapolis declaration. The talk of an alleged breakthrough in the attempts to renew negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus is nothing more than camouflage for a major setback in Israel’s talks with the Palestinians. A deep source in the negotiations revealed this week that the disagreements between the two sides far exceed the points of agreement.”

May 3rd, 2008, 3:07 am

 

norman said:

QN,

Now , what do you think of two senators from each county making a senate of 50 senators elected every six years with one third elected every two years and one representative for each twenty five thousands making a house of representative of 160 , elected every two years , Lebanon will have a president and a vice president elected directly by the people ,elected at the same time and run together , the vice president will break the tie of the senate and all laws pass with a majority vote but need two third to override a presidential veto .

The Lebanese can live anywhere they want with anti discrimination laws in housing and employment , there will be no christian , Sunni or Muslim areas ,

As you can see these rules are the same as the ones in the US and work well here .

What do you think?.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:08 am

 

why-discuss said:

Abraham
“The Saudis are too smart to fall into any American trap that will keep them reliant on the US forever.”

They are not smart, they are terrified by the growth of the Shia sympathizers and the failure of their ‘wahhabi’ proselytism after it only created Islamic terrorists out of their pampered young men and of Pakistani poor.
They are trapped by the US. The moment KSA will show a sign of independence, we will see suddenly the ‘veil’ tsunami swarming the US media, the human rights abuses in KSA, the persecution of women, the list of the Saudi terrorists until now silently hidden, the scandal of briberies at high level etc.. a can of worms will open. They know it and this is why they bend their head and faithfully follow Bush and his clique.
The Saudis are trapped and paralyzed by the lackey strategy they have followed for years. They just have no vision at all for the region.
In the contrary Iran and its allies have a vision and are becoming the driving force of political, social and industrial development as well as self reliance ( the nuclear is part of it) in the region. Except for its money, KSA is already irrelevant.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:11 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

well, I wish I was irrelevant except for that kind of money.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:41 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

EHSANI2 –

Thank you for teaching Abraham the difference between “GDP” and “per capita GDP”.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:07 am

 

Alex said:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=696#comment-139607

How similar to the way Mamun Homsi started when he called a political show on LBC to tell them … “Not that I want to defend the Kingdom, but I want to tell our Lebanese brothers how sad I am to hear our criminal regime in Syria being not respectful to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques who is working day and night for the benefit of all Arab people …”

If the Saudis didn’t really care about what Syria is doing, then they would not have dedicated half their editorials at Asharq Alawsat to criticizing Syria.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:19 am

 

Alex said:

SIXTY AND BEYOND

As Israelis finalize preparations for their momentous sixtieth anniversary-a date marking ten years of consistent economic growth and industrious expansion-there remains the underlying question that will go unanswered yet another decade: What will be done with the West Bank and Golan Heights? Despite all of its considerable achievements, cross-border violence persists and Israel’s existence remains fundamentally insecure. At the heart of this conundrum is the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands, a wound that if left unattended will produce a tragedy of scale we have not yet witnessed. On May 8, Israel has an historic opportunity to celebrate its monumental progress, but if it is to preserve any of these gains, it must ultimately free itself from the albatross around its neck and relinquish these occupied territories.

During its sixty years, Israel has forged full-speed ahead to build a modern nation-state. It has absorbed nearly 3 million Jewish immigrants, developed modern city infrastructures such as Netanya and Herzliya, and built prestigious educational institutions. The nation has made tremendous strides in medicine, agriculture, biotechnology, and economic development and created democratic political institutions, all while manning its formidable military powerhouse. Yet with violence erupting daily and the regional death toll rising, Israel remains vulnerable as maintaining the occupation is sapping the country’s energy and resources.

After forty-one years, many Israelis have grown accustomed (if not oblivious) to the state of occupation, enjoying economic growth and the illusion of security. Apart from the sheer belief of many settlers that they are fulfilling a biblical prophecy in the West Bank, the occupation represents much more than mere territory. Disillusioned with the Palestinians’ behavior in the wake of the second Intifadah, many Israelis tend to blame them for past peacemaking failures such as Arafat’s Camp David snub. The overwhelming weight of American support for Israel during the past seven years has also played a significant role, as Israel has not received much in the way of criticism from its closest and most strategic ally. Israel has since demonstrated that it feels more comfortable maintaining a tormenting occupation than relinquishing it-for fear that the West Bank and the Golan Heights could suffer the same fate as Gaza and southern Lebanon. Although these concerns are legitimate, ultimately Israel must not allow itself to become hostage to the conditions that it has created. If regional peace is to be achieved, it must be because Israel is willing to exchange occupied land for peace, along the lines suggested in the Arab Peace Initiative.

The suffering that has resulted from scores of suicide bombings has made the issue of border security a national obsession for Israelis, who have answered with the border fence and retaliatory attacks to combat Arab extremism. This approach does not hold, since from its inception the occupied territory has been breeding grounds for violence. Israel’s most implacable enemies, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, were born in response to the occupation. It has also given rise to the Jihadis, Takfiries, and other radical groups bent on Israel’s destruction. Indeed, no number of security measures can end the violence because occupation by its very nature provokes resistance. Although Israel has a myriad of legitimate security concerns, the security measures taken to allay them have assumed a life of their own, often disregarding the terrible hardships they inflict on the Palestinians. The problem of occupation has also been compounded by the construction of an elaborate settlements network, which has itself become an obstacle to any future Palestinian state on the same land.

While Israel has never been stronger militarily or economically than at present, it does not have the luxury of time. The Israeli advantage will not last because its detractors-Iran and its surrogates-are feverishly preparing to challenge militarily Israel’s existence. Rather than reacting to its adversaries, Israel must take the initiative. The opportunity for peace with Syria and the Palestinians, if consummated, will dramatically change the equation of power in the Middle East and in time secure Israel’s position as an integral part of a predominantly Arab region.

Israel should make the strategic decision to withdraw from the territories while it enjoys a position of strength. The Arab Initiative offers a comprehensive peace with all Arab states in exchange for the territories captured in 1967. Peace is the single most important measure that will provide Israel with the ultimate security it seeks, for peace will particularly undermine Iran’s regional ambitions and neutralize its threat to Israel’s security. By working with the Initiative, Israel can establish and pursue a secure border, retain its Jewish national identity, normalize relations with the Arab world, and find a mutually acceptable solution to the future of Jerusalem. As a sign of its commitment to end the occupation, Israel should start to evacuate two or three of the numerous West Bank settlements from which it must withdraw in any peace agreement.

The occasion of Israel’s sixtieth anniversary should become the symbol of an historic national turning point, the moment when Israel can begin to bring the occupation to an end and enable the nation to re-channel its energy towards peace and prosperity.

Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU.

He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:23 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

hmmmm. I think there were takfiris before.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:39 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

here’s an article by Nathan Guttman from April 1 about the Syria-Israel-USA diplomatic triangle, but it follows the “Irish Rule” : “Whatever you say, say nothing.”
http://www.forward.com/articles/13288/

and here is the JTA’s contribution:
http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/200804290429syriasuss.html

the third para. from the end captures something I always talk about, from the mystifying angle though:

“Even now, major gaps exist between the Israeli and Syrian positions. Olmert prefers direct, secret talks and an a priori Syrian commitment to break with Iran. Assad wants public talks with U.S. mediation and a prior written commitment by Israel to hand back the Golan.”

What I always say is that the Israeli strategy is to sow distrust in the region by implying that Syria is secretly agreeing to sell out its regional friends and allies, and it is to avoid this that Assad keeps insisting on making the results of all talks, mediations, etc., public.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:04 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

Sounds good… but it’s too big a jump. I think the senate needs to be confessional, in its first incarnation, so as to provide guarantees to the smaller minorities (Christians, Druze, etc.) otherwise they won’t go for it.

Eventually, over a period of 15-25 years, we would either cede more and more powers from the senate gradually over to the house, or change its makeup so that it is regionally and not confessionally based.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:51 am

 

wizart said:

Norman, QN

Just wanted to add something in support to your important discussion on Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed although I would also lean to going with the idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is full of minorities as well. The gradual process as QN suggests might perpetuate current conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

In contrast to the two previous speakers, Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 12:23 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&B86F54740447D2E4C225743E003346FD

Jumblat Hammers Hizbullah “Before they March in My Funeral … Or that of Saad Hariri”

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat Accused the Airport Security department of loyalty to Hizbullah, called for banning flights by Iranian jetliners and said the Iranian ambassador should be asked to Leave Lebanon. Jumblat, addressing a press conference at his ancestral palace in Mukhtara, also accused the Hizbullah-controlled Jihad al-Binaa institute of maintaining “a base” overlooking Beirut airport. He said Hizbullah has built its own communications network that also is linked to Syria. He said such practices by Hizbullah were tantamount to declaring its own state. Methods applied to monitor the possible smuggling of weapons through Beirut airport in line with UNSCR 1701 are “worthless as long as commander of the airport security department is penetrated by Hizbullah” Jumblat said.

Jumblat charged that Hizbullah’s security chief Wafiq Safa practices “security control over Beirut Airport and he decides whether it is allowed to the Army and police to move.”

“They can practice abductions and assassinations along the airport road or runway number 17,” Jumblat said. He accused “Syria’s gangs” of killing chief of the army’s military operations Gen. Francois Hajj. Jumblat said areas off limits to state security are “reservoirs for booby trapped cars.” He said the police department’s counter-terrorism expert Wissam Eid had been assassinated “following his success in detecting certain communication related to the Hariri assassination.” Jumblat said he has decided to disclose such information “before people march in my funeral or that of (Mustaqbal Movement leader) Saad Hariri.”

He accused Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Regime of possible involvement in the Feb. 12 assassination of Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh “being a witness to the Hariri assassination” in 2005. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Freedom of Movement is “limited,” Jumblat said. He said the March 14 majority alliance accepts the 1960 election law “with some amendments.”

“We have welcomed the formation of a national unity government, but they don’t want a president or a government or parliamentary elections,” Jumblat charged.

Beirut, 03 May 08, 11:25

May 3rd, 2008, 12:33 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&DF01C8E65AA6917CC225743C006455DF

Jumblat: Hizbullah Monitors Beirut Airport, Attack Appears Imminent

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat warned Thursday against a possible attack on Beirut airport’s runway used by executive jets, saying it is subject to monitoring by a Hizbullah-operated camera. Jumblat said Hizbullah has placed a container on a side road in the Ouzai district overlooking Beirut airport’s western runway and placed a camera in it to monitor aircraft traffic along the facility. The western runway number 17, that was subject to monitoring by Hizbullah, is used only by executive jets. Lebanese politicians who fly by executive jets are, in addition to Jumblat, Premier Fouad Saniora, Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri, Defense Minister Elias Murr, MP Michel Murr, cabinet minister Mohammed Safadi and ex-Premier Najib Miqati.

Jumblat said three people in civilian outfits were observed near the container with one of them carrying a camera. The PSP leader attributed the information to a “secret document on a scheme by Hizbullah.”

“It seems certain sides are monitoring (Key) figures at present and the trend is to carry out a major security operation,” Jumblat added. He noted that a shoulder-fired Strella-M heat-seeking missile “would be capable of hitting a jetliner on the runway, for example.”

“It seems a major security operation is being prepared,” Jumblat said.

Beirut, 01 May 08, 20:20

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&12EB64C4E124DCD1C225743D0056442A

Hizbullah Criticizes Jumblat, Geagea

Hizbullah on Friday criticized socialist leader Walid Jumblat as a “bullhorn” for U.S. President George Bush’s attacks against resistance movements in the Arab World. The Hizbullah statement was responding to charges by Jumblat that the Iranian-backed party was monitoring a runway used by executive jets at Beirut airport and predicted a terrorist attack on an aircraft using the facility. Jumblat on Thursday also accused Hizbullah of building its own communications network across Lebanon. Jumblat’s charges, the Hizbullah statement said, were “mere reflection of his nightmares and tense character.” Jumblat’s charges were also tantamount to “media play acting,” the Hizbullah statement added. It accused Jumblat and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea of implementing a U.S. agenda aimed at sparking disputes among the Lebanese factions.

Beirut, 02 May 08, 17:47

May 3rd, 2008, 12:38 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

He accused Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Regime of possible involvement in the Feb. 12 assassination of Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh “being a witness to the Hariri assassination” in 2005.

some sort of evidence would help. this sounds totally silly.

May 3rd, 2008, 12:44 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&A058B04E6083E94CC225743D004B9D61

Iranians Suspected of Monitoring Geagea’s Residence

Three Iranians and a Lebanese man living in Hizbullah-controlled south Beirut were arrested last week on charges of monitoring the residence of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Meerab, security sources reported Friday. The report came hours after Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat accused Hizbullah of monitoring a Beirut airport runway used by executive jets and warned against a terrorist attack targeting an aircraft using the facility. The sources told a local newsletter the four men were spotted in a rented car near Geagea’s residence last week. Upon checking the plate number of the red-painted car it was found owned by a car rental company based in south Beirut and it had been rented to three Iranians and a Lebanese man. Police interrogated the four who claimed to have lost their way as they were on a trip along the “Jesus Trail”, and ended up in Meerab, northeast of Beirut. Jesus Christ, according to biblical history, visited south Lebanon and may have reached as far as the Sidon coastline, 45 kilometers south of Beirut.

Meerab, however, is almost 80 kilometers north of Sidon.

One of the Iranian suspects said in his testimony that he visits Lebanon because he is married to a Lebanese woman. The two others said they were students at the Beirut Arab University and the Islamic University, respectively. The three, however, did not know Arabic and asked for interpretation to Farsi during their interrogation, which sounded strange, especially for alleged students at BAU and IU that teach in Arabic. The three also said they resided in an apartment owned by a Lebanese friend in south Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold that is off limits to Lebanese police and state authority. It also could not be determined why the Iranian, who claims to be married to a Lebanese woman, was residing with friends in south Beirut and not with his wife’s parents.

The four were set free after the investigation, but lawyers following up the case demanded further interrogation of the four in light of contradictions in their testimonies. However, the Iranian embassy officially asked the Lebanese judiciary to postpone for four days the issuing of a subpoena, the central news agency reported. Mystery shrouds whereabouts of the four, while Geagea’s lawyers demand expanded investigation with them in light of information about a possible attack targeting residence of the Lebanese Forces leader either by rockets or projectiles loaded with chemical or biological warheads, the report added.

Beirut, 02 May 08, 15:50

May 3rd, 2008, 12:45 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Are the apparently fact-based concerns expressed by Junblat and Geagea complete paranoia?

May 3rd, 2008, 12:47 pm

 

wizart said:

Some people feel they have to do God’s work and kill those offending him. This is how radical fundamentalism is made and it’s still allowed to take hold and inflict its damage on all humanity even in modern times.

Priests, Imams, Sheiks and Rabbis should return to their respective temples and keep out of discussing politics when giving their usual weekly speeches.

May 3rd, 2008, 1:37 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Good reading from Asia Times:

Iran moving into the big league
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s three-nation tour of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India and the welter of agreements and understandings reached between Tehran and these governments serve notice beyond the mere issue of energy security and Iran’s expanding role in the sub-continent’s energy market; rather, these developments signify a new stage in Iran’s foreign policy that is best described as “pan-regionalism”.

From the Persian Gulf to the Caspian region, the Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia and beyond, thanks to its unique geographical location, Iran is in many ways an ideal connecting bridge that has not until now fully exploited its advantageous “equidistance” from India and Europe.

[continue reading]

May 3rd, 2008, 1:52 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP

I don’t know quite what to make of Jumblatt’s latest thing. On the one hand, it sounds like more March 14 hysteria and sabre-rattling.

On the other hand, Jumblatt was, until very recently, spearheading a rapprochement that looked like it actually had some steam. Gemayel signed onto it, and Hariri vowed that a president would be elected on May 13 (signalling that some kind of agreement had been reached between he and Berri). These new statements about Hizbullah are going to derail the deal, in all likelihood.

So, one has to ask: why now? There are three possibilities:

a) Jumblatt is not bluffing; rather he has has real reasons to believe that “a major security operation” is imminent.

b) Somebody (the Americans or Saudis) is not happy with the approaching deal and they’ve ordered Jumblatt to pour cold water on it.

c) Jumblatt is trying to use these revelations as a way to put some pressure on the opposition to agree to the deal he is spearheading.

No way to know what the answer is until we get more information. Right now, I think it’s either (a) or (b).

May 3rd, 2008, 2:03 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I know that it’s really none of my business, in that I have no specific knowledge of this situation, but I do have mental rules which I have developed as a sort of mental hygiene, and this sort of statement not only breaks my rules, it sets a very strong marker AGAINST the person who makes it, because it is absolutely gratuitous scaremongering – without any attempt at substantiation – pure gut punching :

Jumblat noted that a shoulder-fired Strella-M heat-seeking missile “would be capable of hitting a jetliner on the runway, for example.”

May 3rd, 2008, 2:21 pm

 

wizart said:

Implications of Lebanese confessionalism for the Region

Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 2:30 pm

 

wizart said:

Just wanted to add something in support to the crisis in Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed although I would also lean to going with the idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is full of minorities as well. The gradual process as QN suggests might actually perpetuate the current difficult conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

In contrast to the two previous speakers, Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 2:34 pm

 

wizart said:

Just wanted to add something in support to the crisis in Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed although I would also lean to going with the idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is full of minorities as well. The gradual process as QN suggests might actually perpetuate the current difficult conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 2:39 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Wizart, Amen to your statement above. I’m one of those of the opinion that activism by religions is the #1 root cause of a great number of ills in the world. Separation of church/mosque/temple and state is, in my opinion, a necessary condition to peace and prosperity.

May 3rd, 2008, 2:43 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN, I agree but also have difficulty seeing the plausibility of option (b). That leaves option (a).

May 3rd, 2008, 2:45 pm

 

wizart said:

HP,

Glad we feel the same way.

Just wanted to add something in support to the crisis in Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed earlier and I would also lean to going with this idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is increasingly full with minorities as well. The gradual process QN suggests might actually perpetuate the current amazingly difficult conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

Hisham Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 2:50 pm

 

wizart said:

HP,

Glad we feel the same way on that count.

Just wanted to add something in support to the crisis in Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed earlier and I would also lean to going with this idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is increasingly full with minorities as well. The gradual process QN suggests might actually perpetuate the current amazingly difficult conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

Hisham Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

The figure you want to look at is GDP per capita but more importantly you want to look at the UN Human development reports:

No, we want to look at GDP, and I still want you to explain how Israel’s economy is better than any Arab nation as you stated.

Over a period of 60 years we have seen the economic growth of Israel.

Thanks to hand-outs from wealthy Western nations that would rather pay out money than accept a large influx of Jewish immigration. I.E. This is the real anti-Jew sentiment that you should be talking about. “anti-Semitism” is what the US and Israel practice against the Arabs.

My hard work and the hard work of my father has paid for you to move to a settlement in Palestine. Stop trying to pretend it’s any other way. If it wasn’t for me and my father’s labor, and the tax dollars we pay, a portion of which goes to support you and your illegal enterprise, Israel would’ve dried up a long time ago.

The economic aid to Israel is about $3 billion relative to a GDP of $180 billion.

That’s a false statement. Israel receives at least $6 billion in cash every year from various donor nations, and another $10-12 billion in loans. Your economy would have failed long ago if it wasn’t for this welfare.

Israel can easily get along well without it.

That’s good to hear. Why don’t you try that? Let’s see if you can prove this statement.

But we all know this is just posturing. So I would say back to you, get real.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:17 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Let us forget about GDP, GNP, and per capita this and per capita that….

Actually, what AIG is saying about the unique ISRAELI economy may be correct!

What other “country” in the world has managed in a mere 40 years not only to aquire 27,000 sq. Kilometers of Prime Realestat (that is what ..? 27,000,000,000 square meters, or roughly what 2,700,000,000 square feet?)of land in Palestine -one of the most prosperous Arab countries then- FREE of CHARGE, but also to have everything that was built on it for FREE, and then to use both the inhabitants and the dreamy-eyed gold-ruchers from abroad at premium-low wages to help reconstruct it (and tax them too) using something like 300 Billion US Dollars in AID MONEY?

With such dirt-cheap aqusition, external working capital, the enormous cash flow which follwed and a world-wide network to support, fund, assist, spy for and to cover up for as well, then Israel has actually done a very baaaaaaaaaaaad job socially, economically and financially over the past period.

Wouldn’t you say?

May 3rd, 2008, 3:36 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Even Alex agrees you need to look at UN development rankings because they take into account all the pertinnent factors that make a country strong.

There are tons of independent studies on the Israeli economy and objective data you wish to ignore. Ok, continue living in your fantasy world. It is a simple fact that over 60 years Israel built a first world economy while the Arabs didn’t. Sad but true. And this explains the power difference between the countries.

But you have a way out. Become democracies, grow strong and beat Israel.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:38 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham and Ausamaa,
I know the truth hurts. I know it is very difficult for you to read in many major newspapers what a miracle Israel is. I know it is difficult to see the huge difference between Israel and its neighbors. But you have only yourself to blame. What needs to be done is clear. The thing is, you are not willing to make the reforms needed because then there will be no “resistance”. I love this irony. The only way to beat Israel is to become democracies, but the Arabs are not willing to do that because that is selling out to the West. Israel is in a win-win situation.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:43 pm

 

ausamaa said:

AIG,

Heck, I can read what you write here and I can Imagine what a MIRACLE Israel is!

May 3rd, 2008, 3:45 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Arabs should worry if ever there is peace with Israel: Iran, Israel and Turkey will join to control the Arab world. They are the smartest, the most powerful and more advanced in the region.

May 3rd, 2008, 3:53 pm

 

abraham said:

The ‘nations test’ (Ha’aretz)

A few years ago, I spoke at a conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella organization for the 125 Jewish community relations councils in the United States. My host explained to me that the council’s member organizations are tasked with doing all they can to ensure harmonious relations between Jews of their communities and the surrounding non-Jewish communities. America’s five to six million Jews, he added, see it as being in their best interests to be on good terms with the country’s 300 million non-Jews.

This has actually been an imperative throughout Jewish history. It was modern Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl, who defined our poor relations with the world’s nations in the 19th century as the “Jewish problem.” The Zionist response was the creation of the State of Israel. But the existence of Israel in itself does not eliminate the need for Jews to have good relations with their neighbors, and in the Diaspora much energy is expended on cultivating such ties.

In Israel, however, where Jews constitute the majority, it seems that many feel they are exempt from the responsibility of seeking good ties with the non-Jews who live among them. I am speaking of course of the country’s Palestinian-Arab population, who make up 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry. They and the 80 percent who are Jews are like the two tectonic plates on which Israel rests, and the country’s future and very existence depend in large part on the relationship between these plates. Unlike in foreign relations, where much is not in our hands, determining the course of domestic relations is largely in the hands of the sovereign State of Israel.

Thus far, however, for many reasons, the implementation has gone wrong. Today, not only has discrimination toward Israel’s Arab citizens become an integral part of Zionism’s prevalent image, it apparently has become axiomatic for too many Israeli Jews. A study conducted this year by University of Haifa Prof. Sammy Smooha showed that only half of the latter think the country’s Arab citizens should have equal access to the country’s national resources.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980075.html

May 3rd, 2008, 3:56 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Even Alex agrees you need to look at UN development rankings because they take into account all the pertinnent factors that make a country strong.

So? I think Alex is a nice guy but I don’t take my cues from him and I don’t remember hearing about his being appointed as the definitive source of qualifying economic indicators.

You didn’t address the issue of the Occupied Palestinians, for which Israel is responsible. Most of them live in squalor amidst your land of abundant milk and honey. They in fact live in some of the worst conditions of any nation on Earth. So your analysis is shoddy and lacking and in no way responds to my numerous inquiries other than to offer more conjecture in light of your inability to provide factual information.

Do you live on a settlement in the West Bank?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
The PA is responsible for the Palestinians since Oslo. It is as simple as that. The Palestinians are my enemies till there is a peace agreement and I owe my enemies nothing and I expect nothing from them.

It is the Arabs that should take care of their Palestinian brothers and not let them languish. Israel assimilated the 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries in 48-50. The Arabs did not assimilate theirs and let them languish 60 years. How do you explain that?

I live in Ramat-Hasharon, a very nice suburb of Tel-Aviv.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:08 pm

 

abraham said:

Palestinian Recruits Hit Streets Unprepared: Israel Blocks Arrival Of U.S.-Funded Gear (Washington Post)

The first class of Palestinian security officers trained under a multimillion-dollar U.S. program to strengthen the Palestinian Authority is deploying to one of the West Bank’s most restive cities without promised supplies of body armor, helmets or even flashlights after Israel blocked a shipment of equipment.

Israel has frequently criticized the Palestinian Authority, run by the relatively moderate Fatah party, for not doing enough to combat armed groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad that have pledged to eradicate Israel. Israeli officials said their military forces cannot withdraw from the West Bank — occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war — until the Palestinian Authority proves it can take control.

But Israel has traditionally viewed Palestinian security forces as potential adversaries, even though this training class is affiliated with the moderate Palestinian government that serves as the Jewish state’s counterpart in peace talks. In this case, Israel failed to approve delivery of the requested supplies in time for the deployment, according to senior Palestinian officials.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/02/AR2008050204001.html?hpid%3Dtopnews&sub=AR

But of course, Israel will blame the Palestinians and accuse them of not doing enough to halt terror.

AIG, how do you explain Israel’s criticism of Palestinian leaders for not doing enough to combat terror when Israel won’t allow Palestinian security forces the proper equipment to combat said “terror”? How do you explain this double-speak?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:08 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

The PA is responsible for the Palestinians since Oslo. It is as simple as that.

Wrong. The PA de facto does not exist. Israel will not provide them with the resources and autonomy to properly administer Occupied Palestine. If Israel removed all its checkpoints, allowed international donor money to flow freely into Palestinian financial institutions, and lifted its embargo against the Palestinians, then, and only then, you might have a point. But in light of all these inconvenient facts that you conveniently ignore, your statement is gibberish.

The Palestinians are my enemies till there is a peace agreement and I owe my enemies nothing and I expect nothing from them.

Except for their labor, their land, and their resources. Are you willing to give up each of these and then make the above statement?

I live in Ramat-Hasharon, a very nice suburb of Tel-Aviv.

What part of Occupied Palestine is that in?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
I love it when you use quote Ha’aretz to make a point of yours.
Don’t you realize that this is what makes Israel strong? The fact that we have a free internal debate on all the issues and are not afraid to crticize ourselves? When you quote Ha’aretz, you have identified the main reason Israel is where it is and the Arabs are where they are.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rowan said:

I do have mental rules which I have developed as a sort of mental hygiene, and this sort of statement not only breaks my rules, it sets a very strong marker AGAINST the person who makes it, because it is absolutely gratuitous scaremongering – without any attempt at substantiation – pure gut punching

Rowan, I could not agree more.

Could I ask you how often you feel your mental hygiene compromised when discussing politics in the Arab world? The reason I ask is because “gratuitous scaremongering” is part and parcel of Middle Eastern political discourse. Where would we be without our trusty fallbacks: “the U.S. plan for the region” … etc.

Mideast politics has nothing to do with substantiation and everything to do with gut punching. So, who else do you have markers on?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I guess AIG is religiously observant, given that it waits until the end of the sabbath before starting up with its paid propaganda activities.

I call it “it” because I regard it not as a person but as a team. A paid team. So please don’t ban me for being gratuitously offensive.

By the way, this seems like as good a time as any to address a request, primarily to Joshua, who we are told reads all this, but also to anyone else, from any country, who happens to have professional status as an academic or whatever : it is really important to me to try to get some referees for my Soros application or to get some suggestions for any other similar sort of grant I could apply for, as a non-academic. Soros’ Open Society Institute may be almost unique in offering grants to non-academics, what they call “activists,” providing they have three credible referees. I have three or four short pieces specifically about my own needs or plans on my blog, which I can always give the exact links for if anyone is interested.

I can’t really alter my focus, which is hebrew-speaking, jewish israeli pop culture, but I have such a high opinion of my own integrity that I wouldn’t be in the slightest disconcerted if I was offered sponsorship, or employment, by a non-Jewish organisation, one based in some other country even, such as … um … Syria, or wherever. Anyway, no matter how unrealistic it all sounds, I have to make some effort to get myself hired, sponsored or employed, or the Brits will take away even my current unemployment pay (“jobseeker’s allowance”). You can all see why I wish I had finished my original first degree (political science, in the early 1970s) but I dropped out.

Oh and by the way, I would be happy to relocate out of Britain. there’s nothing keeping me here. I have no family.

Whew. Now that’s off my chest. Back to bashing the baddies! I feel better already!

May 3rd, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You can argue until you are blue in the face that the sky is green.

Rabin gave Arafat plenty of weapons. These were promptly used against Israel. When there were no checkpoints in the West Bank, there were suicide bombings. If you want to fight us, don’t expect us to roll over and die. The PA has no excuses for not doing its job. Only Israel is expected to help its enemies defeat it. Dream on.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

I love it when you use quote Ha’aretz to make a point of yours.

Yes, it is because we don’t get such unvarnished news in the United States, so I always like to share these articles with other American readers to point out the excellent articles in Ha’aretz that paint an accurate portrait of Israel.

But I think your self-praise is a bit too laudatory. You only get to read what the IDF does not censor.

But you ignore the vibrant debate among the Arab diaspora. You point to censorship in Arab countries and then sophomorically charge that Arabs aren’t critical of their own affairs. We are very critical, and there is tremendous debate ongoing. What do you think this blog is all about on which you spend all your time?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Am I “stimulating” again? I am one person who is not afraid to tackle the issues head on, unlike you that once you get asked one difficult question, you run away with your tail between your legs.

Now you also invent stuff about me based on how I decide to spend my time on Saturday. Pathetic. Let’s discuss the issues, or is that too boring for you?

I would like to hear my about your theories about invisible Jewish separatist organizations.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, please stop dredging up ancient history as a rebuttal. I already told you the PA de facto does not exist, yet you conveniently fail to acknowledge that inconvenient fact. The article in Ha’aretz that I just posted demonstrates that Israel will not allow the Palestinians to manage their own security, yet you (Israelis) wail like a cat in heat when there is a terror attack and blame it on the PA, which de facto does not exist because you (Israelis) won’t let it.

You can’t have it both ways. Stop avoiding my questions and give a direct answer, please. If you can. It seems you can not.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG said, “I am one person who is not afraid to tackle the issues head on.”

If just one of your statements posted here is completely untrue, this is it.

May 3rd, 2008, 4:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Of course the Arab diaspora is critical because in the West it has free speech. But that is the whole point, Arab countries are weak because in them there is no free speech. Of course, once the Arab states become democracies they become much stronger. But isn’t that sucummbing to the influence of the West as Bondo would tell you?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:33 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG, you just not 3 messages ago admonished Rowan to “discuss the issues”. Can you please heed your own words? Or is that too boring for you?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

abraham said:

It’s a good thing we have Ha’aretz, because if all we had to rely on for news from Israel was Maariv and Yedioth Aranot, Israeli news would be as reliable as that coming out of Saudi Arabia.

AIG, do you think Mordechai Vanunu has free speech?

May 3rd, 2008, 4:41 pm

 

Alex said:

abraham said:

So? I think Alex is a nice guy but I don’t take my cues from him and I don’t remember hearing about his being appointed as the definitive source of qualifying economic indicators.

Good point Abraham … I got a C+ in my last economics course.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

The online english-language Haaretz is a fraud, just like the English newspaper, the Guardian. Both are fronts for the Second International, which has been essentially a crypto-fascist organisation since the First World War. That’s why you see Peres and Blair sunning it up at “Socialist International” conferences, while not killing the third world masses and destroying their countries for profit. Don’t be fooled.

ha, no, I forgot – Peres left the Israeli Labor Party in 2006.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:14 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Of course, once the Arab states become democracies they become much stronger.

Is this why you won’t let the Palestinians have a democracy? Are you perhaps afraid of the competition?

Hey, where did AIG go? He always seems to leave when I have several unanswered queries pending.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Haaretz refelcts a minority view point in Israel. I think they are just wrong. The PA is responsible for the Palestinian people and all they do is find excuses for their sub-par behavior. It is not Israel’s fault. Israel has to do what it needs to protect its citizens. It is a fact that the checkpoints and fence have reduced the suicide bombing to almost zero.

Let me make this clear to you: I expect nothing from the Palestinians unlike the people writing in Ha’aretz. They are a society that condones suicide bombings. I expect them to continue with their struggle. I am not going to complain about it, I am going to fight them till one society is victorious. I think this answers your point, but if not ask again.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:21 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Can you please supply references to your unsubstantiated claim that Ha’aretz and the Guardian are fronts for “crypto-fascist organisation since the First World War”.

This is a truly astounding claim you have made.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:23 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
First, do you agree that for Arab states to become strong they need to become democracies?

Second, Israel does not mind the democracy of the Palestinians it minds the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. That is the reason Israel fights the Palestinians, not because they are or not a democracy.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I really agree with the claim above that AIG is a group. A Robotic Group perhaps but a Group not a person. And come to think about it, I have noticed also that they are Observant of the Sabath indeed. Well, the perhaps the usual Israeli PR effort directed at the uninitiated. Why? To clog this site, divert attention, muddy the waters, to provide the Israeli ready-made answers, and to maintain an active presence where serious person interested in Syrian affairs may come… they are pushing so hard to distract and divert, that soon maybe, it seems that all of us at this site will learn to sing Hatekva instead of focusing on affairs related to Syria.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Alright,

Abraham, AIG and Rowan

I read many times above “can you answer this question? … why are you evading the real question? …”

Can each one of you list any unanswered questions that you think might be interesting to other readers of SC?

May 3rd, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

All fascist parties are degenerated working class parties. Some advertise the fact that they have taken a ‘fascist turn.’ Others don’t. It’s like fashion in clothes : sometimes army gear is trendy, sometimes suits are trendy, sometimes blue collars are trendy, like that clown Amir Peretz with his Stalin mustache. You need to look beneath the surface, historically and theoretically too.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Rowan claimed there are many invisible separtist Jewish organizations in the US like the Budhist Jews. I want him to explain what the hell he is talking about and tell us what the agenda of these groups is and why they are invisible.

Rowan claimed that Ha’aretz and the Guardian are crypto-fasicist fronts. I would like to see some evidence for that.

Abraham is quite forthcoming, and we are having an interesting discussion.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
You claim basically that the labour party in the UK is a fascist one. This is such an outrageous claim. Give us evidence, don’t tell us you need to look. Look for us and give us the evidence. We can’t find what isn’t there.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Haaretz refelcts a minority view point in Israel.

Please substantiate this claim. What are your sources and references?

I think they are just wrong.

That is obviously your opnion. What are they “wrong” about?

The PA is responsible for the Palestinian people and all they do is find excuses for their sub-par behavior.

Please point to the relevant Geneva Convention where it says that the occupied people are responsible for administering themselves. I am not aware of any such notion being expressed in the GC but perhaps I just missed it. Please show me.

It is a fact that the checkpoints and fence have reduced the suicide bombing to almost zero.

Do they also protect against Qassam rockets? If Israel somehow finds a way to suppress rocket fire and the Palestinians find another way to resist Israeli occupation, will you THEN acknowledge that it is the occupation that is the root cause of the problem or will you continue blaming the PA?

Also, what PA? The PA was disbanded when Israel and the US refused to recognize Hamas as the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. The current goons masquerading as the “PA” are not accepted by fully half of the Palestinian people, rendering it a puppet entity at best. It can’t even provide for all the Palestinians, not the least of which is because Israel won’t let it, but because it has no authority whatsoever in Gaza, and it has almost as much authority in the West Bank. Israel is still in control of the West Bank as evidenced by the illegal settlements, the illegal apartheid wall, and the illegal checkpoints. How can you even deign to feign that a broken entity such as the PA has any control over the West Bank at all?

Let me make this clear to you: I expect nothing from the Palestinians

Then give them back their land, their resources, and the tens of thousands of their people in your prison gulags.

I think this answers your point, but if not ask again.

Nope, you have only served to promote your government handlers with short talking points and brief quips which serve no other purpose than to dilute the discussion and create internet pollution. You have not directly answered any question I have asked, preferring instead to steer the debate (if it could be called that since there is no informed party on the other side) towards unsubstantiated claims, rhetoric, bombast, insults, and lies.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:35 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Can you please supply references to your unsubstantiated claim…

No, you first.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:36 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

First, do you agree that for Arab states to become strong they need to become democracies?

All the Arab states are already strong, otherwise they would have already been obliterated by either Israel or the US, so your premise refutes itself.

Second, Israel does not mind the democracy of the Palestinians it minds the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. That is the reason Israel fights the Palestinians, not because they are or not a democracy.

That is a lie. Why did Israel not allow the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people to carry out its responsibility of governance?

May 3rd, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

abraham said:

I really agree with the claim above that AIG is a group.

Ausamma, thanks for noticing the presence of the Mossad Blogger Brigades 🙂 Every person who finally wakes up to this helps to dilute Israel’s internet PR pollution project.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

abraham said:

Can each one of you list any unanswered questions that you think might be interesting to other readers of SC?

Oh, come on, Alex. That would take me all day.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I love the way the ‘f’ word gets them going. They spend so much time trying to tar the Ba’ath Parties as “fascist,” but they probably never actually read a political science textbook, or a serious academic history of fascist thought, in their lives. You don’t have to look further than Arendt’s account of totalitarianism to see what I’m talking about, though.

Come to think of it, even if I am exaggerating, there is another good reason for it, besides drawing attention to the hypocrisy of Western ‘labor’ parties – given the nature of my project, which you have already seen – the effort I put into finding the good in israeli popular culture, and elsewhere – it is important for me to make it clear that I have no intention of getting into sugar-coating these pseudo-left parties, like Sting or so many other pop stars who come to mind.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:43 pm

 

Shai said:

Abraham,

I haven’t exactly been following your engagement with Rowan and AIG, but I agree with your comment about the PA – it is essentially nonexistent, and because of Israel and the U.S. As for Ha’aretz, unfortunately, it is not representative of most Israelis. I would say, approximately 20-30%. Yediot Ahronot is probably more mainstream (through poorer quality writing), and Ma’ariv is more geared to the Right (far poorer writing). These are, of course, subjective approximations by me.

I just read your other recent comments. I also agree with you about the Arab states being strong (I’m not at all sure that democracy today is either possible, or would make them stronger), and indeed Israel and the U.S. did seem to be terribly bothered by the democratic results in the 2006 Palestinian elections. I think it was a mistake not to enable Hamas to continue to lead the government. The less friendly the enemy, the better chances for peace, even if we’d have to wait another 3-4 years. Abu Mazen is no more than an Israeli/U.S. puppet. We can’t possibly provide him money, arms, and protection within his own territory, only to have him sit across from us at the negotiating table, pretending to be our enemy.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:45 pm

 

Alex said:

Out of the two questions AIG asked, the following one is more relevant to our discussion:

“Rowan claimed that Ha’aretz and the Guardian are crypto-fasicist fronts. I would like to see some evidence for that.”

Rowan … I read Haaretz on a daily basis. Can you please answer that question, and then AIG promises to give a direct answer to one of your questions (assuming you want him to, of course).

Same with Abraham, can you pick one clear question that AIG did not answer?

May 3rd, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

The answer is very simple, but you must remember I can only speak on the basis of what I know well, which is the english-language web editions. I have said again and again that the handful of leftist journalists who write for Haaretz, like Amira Hess and Gideon Levy for instance, are there to create a false impression for the international anglophone media, and they know it.

If you don’t agree with me, fair enough, but that is my view, and I have told them so. My comments along these lines are usually not allowed on the talkbacks, of course. Instead, mysterious readers with Arab names appear in the Talkbacks, saying, “oh, Mr Burston,” (or whoever) “thank you for giving us hope.”

Call me cynical, but it comes with the territory, and with age (I am 57 years old).

May 3rd, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Israel is at war with the Palestinians. We both claim rights to the same land. You want Israelis to roll over and die. Forget about it. This is a conflict between two nations and two societies. The Palestinians should do what they need to win, and we will do what we need to win. You have a problem with Israel winning. Tough. But you will never win because you fail to understand where Israel’s strengths come from.

It is not Israel that decided not to work with the Hamas government. It was the Quartet which includes the UN and Russia. Furthermore, the people in Israel have the right to work with whomever they want, and we will not talk to Hamas.

Your comment about the Arab states being strong is a joke. You will not even admit they require urgent democratic reforms.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Amira Hass and Gideon Levy are supposed to be creating a false impression about WHAT? Do they report lies?

What do you base your view on?

May 3rd, 2008, 5:57 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

I think you were the one who got my attention to the fact the Lebanese Government is a small senate representing all ethnic and religious groups, it does not seem to work , and did not change into a better system , I think election by the people of candidates they know and are put up for election by the two Major blocks is better , most these areas are usually made of a dominant group and the winner will be of that group but with time and migration the population will change and become more divers , like in California and other US states.

May 3rd, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

ausamaa said:

It is reported that Feltman, Bush’s ex-High Commissioner in Lebanon, has just met the Syrian Ambasador in the US for TWO hours!!!!!!!

It does not take a full two hours to repeate again what Bush want Syria to do. Does it? Not TWO HOURS.

Any take on what is happening there?

May 3rd, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

By suggesting that the Arabs states are strong, I don’t think Abraham (or I) mean that they can defeat Israel in battle. They are strong because they, too, cannot be defeated. There is a balance of power in the region today, which is forcing certain parties (Bashar, Olmert, the Arab League) to seriously consider an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. If the Palestinians weren’t strong, we would never have withdrawn from Gaza (Sharon also spoke of the West Bank). If Syria wasn’t strong (and its alliances with HA/Hamas/Iran wasn’t deterring enough), Olmert, like his 4 predecessors, would never have considered withdrawing from the Golan. If Hezbollah wasn’t strong, Barak would have never withdrawn from Lebanon. Although as Rime Allaf correctly stated that Israeli policy and statements have continuously fluctuated in the past two decades, we would never have considered ceding one inch of territory, if the our Arab rivals weren’t strong (not stronger, but strong enough).

May 3rd, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

The senate, in my opinion, would purely there to assuage the worries of the minorities. The parliament would be the main legislative body, and that one would be popularly elected, as you describe.

Eventually, as we dig ourselves out of confessionalism, the senate would be purely symbolic or reconfigured to be regional.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I agree with you , only presure on Israel will make it benifitial for it to seek peace,

This is interesting,

All quiet on the Golan Heights
The saying goes that the Arabs can’t make war without Egypt, but there can’t be peace without Syria
PATRICK MARTIN

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

May 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM EDT

For the first time in years, the possibility of Israel returning the Golan Heights to its arch-enemy, Syria, has made an unexpected comeback. Syrian President Bashar Assad announced last week that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had assured him that Israel was willing to withdraw from the occupied plateau, in exchange for a peace treaty. Coming after Israel’s military assault on an apparent nuclear reactor in northeastern Syria in September and the assassination of a leading Hezbollah figure in the streets of Damascus in February, many were surprised that the confrontational attitude of the two countries had so quickly changed.

They shouldn’t have been. The makings of a deal have been in place for more than a decade.

When Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, few people knew just how close he was to a peace treaty with Syria. Even his successor, foreign minister Shimon Peres, is said not to have known quite how far the Israeli leader had been prepared to move to achieve a breakthrough.

And move is the operative word.

A sign points out the distances to different Mideast cities from an observation point on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. (Reuters)

Israel offers Golan Heights for peace: Syrian official
North Korea gave Syria nuclear help, U.S. says
Hamas ready to deal with Israel, Carter says
As Mr. Peres learned when he read the files on the day of Mr. Rabin’s funeral, the late prime minister had been willing to withdraw Israeli forces and civilians from the entire Golan Heights, the towering ridge and plateau captured in the 1967 Six Day War, and home to thousands of Israeli settlers. Such a move had long been Syria’s sine qua non for any peace negotiations.

“Unthinkable” was the common reaction in Israel. After all, Israelis had been taught since elementary school that this strategically important ridge could never be returned.

But that wasn’t always the way the map of the Middle East had been drawn. When the state of Israel was born, 60 years ago this month, the boundaries between the Jewish and Arab communities inside Palestine were unclear and would be settled by fighting that raged for the next year. However, the boundary between the French mandate of Syria and the British mandate of Palestine, had been decided in 1923 when the League of Nations carved up Ottoman territory. The Golan Heights fell entirely within Syria, and the Sea of Galilee, at their foot, fell entirely within Palestine.

While Syria rushed in troops to assist the Palestinian Arabs, the line between Syria and what became Israel was not in doubt, and the 1949 armistice largely confirmed it. And so it remained, until 1967. In the war that broke out that year between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, Israel, in short order, conquered the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the west bank of the Jordan River from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Egypt’s and Syria’s attempt to regain their territories in the 1973 war failed. And though Egypt’s Anwar Sadat later recognized Israel’s legitimacy and recovered the Sinai, Syria refused to do likewise.

But Israel and Syria did not remain in open conflict. The ceasefire line drawn at the eastern edge of the Golan has been the very quietest of Israel’s frontiers since Henry Kissinger negotiated an agreement in 1974. The issue of territory did not, however, fade from view.

THE PLATEAU AND THE LAKE

There’s an enormous raised-relief wall map in the office of the director of Syria’s Ministry of Information, on the top floor of Baath Party headquarters in Damascus. The area of Israel’s occupation is painted in bright red. Since 1967, Syria has never wavered on its demand for the return of the territory Israel conquered.

For its part, Israel has always insisted on Syria’s agreeing to full peace as a condition for even talking about any return.

But despite the popular mantra about never yielding the strategic heights, Israel has pretty well always been willing to return the Golan to Syria under certain terms.

As Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s chief negotiator with Syria from 1992 to 1996, noted in his book The Brink of Peace, Moshe Dayan, the defence minister during the 1967 war, hadn’t wanted to capture the heights. In The Story of My Life, Mr. Dayan expressed his worry about the “long-term consequences. The Syrians would not accept our permanent presence on the Golan Heights and we would be in a state of war with three Arab states.”

Persuaded to take the heights, Mr. Dayan saw them as a bargaining chip to be traded for peace and a secure, recognized border.

But while Egypt and Jordan negotiated peace with Israel, and the Palestinians attempted to reach an agreement of their own, little movement has taken place between Israel and Syria, at least on the surface.

The key to breaking the logjam lies on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. This normally placid body of warm water and its feeder rivers and springs form a vital part of Israel’s water system. The 1923 boundary left it entirely inside Mandate Palestine, with only a 10-metre-wide shoreline on the northeast banks.

In the 1948-49 war, Syria easily captured the 10-metre-wide strip and gained access to the lake. The armistice required the area to be demilitarized and settled by neither side. But inch by inch, by 1967, Syria had regained control of it (as Israel crept into other parts of the demilitarized zone).

Syria wants to go back to the position as of June 4, 1967, the day before war broke out.

For years, Israeli leaders balked at any idea of withdrawal from the Golan. The Israelis and Syrians first publicly met during the Madrid peace conference of 1991. “[Hafez] Assad’s willingness to come to the Madrid conference signified a new beginning,” wrote Mr. Rabinovich. But there was little progress on the Israel-Syria track.

It is said in the Middle East that the Arabs can’t make war without Egypt, but there can’t be peace without Syria. That was Mr. Rabin’s view. While most public attention during his time in office was focused on the Palestinian peace process, Mr. Rabin preferred to deal with the clearly defined and powerful authority in Damascus.

As early as August, 1993, Mr. Rabin was ready to agree to a pullback from the Golan giving Syria access to the Sea of Galilee, if areas on both sides of the line were demilitarized to various degrees and if Syria implemented a full peace.

He told Israelis that “the depth of withdrawal will reflect the depth of peace.” In other words, full withdrawal for full peace.

The U.S. conveyed the message to Damascus, but Syria’s aging president was slow to respond, and the Palestinian question took precedence for a time. However, the Syrians pocketed what Israeli historians would call the “Rabin deposit.”

After Mr. Rabin’s murder in 1995, Mr. Peres tried but failed to bring Mr. Assad to an agreement. And subsequent prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak declined to offer as much as Mr. Rabin. Mr. Barak came very close in 2000 to offering a withdrawal to the June 4 line, only to back away at the last minute. Mr. Assad died a month later, still clutching the Rabin deposit.

Now, eight years later, along comes Ehud Olmert, who apparently has indicated his willingness to discuss “full withdrawal.”

DRAWING ON THE DEPOSIT

There are reasons why Mr. Olmert would do this. The lack of any progress toward a peace deal with the Palestinians, and his failed attempt to defeat Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, leave him badly in need of a victory — something to keep his precarious coalition in office and to be held up as a legacy.

As Eyal Zisser, director of the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv University wrote on Thursday, “the Second Lebanon War should be seen as a watershed in the development of Syrian-Israeli relations.”

What Bashar Assad first saw as an opportunity to threaten a weakened Israel, turned into a threat to him, as Israel carried out its brazen attack on Syria’s nuclear facility, restoring its deterrent credibility. Hence, Mr. Zisser says, Mr. Assad did not retaliate, but revealed the Israeli leader’s offer and the talks being carried out with the help of Turkey’s Prime Minister.

A peace agreement between Israel and Syria would be nothing to sneeze at.

To Israel it would mean a recognized peaceful border not only with Syria, but also with Lebanon, which would be sure to follow; an overland passage to Europe for trucks and tourists; and the likely normalization with most, if not all, of the Arab world.

Though some Israelis hope to pry Syria away from its patron, Iran, and away from its client, Hezbollah, neither would be likely. Still, Syria’s continuing influence with Hezbollah could be a good way to keep the group in line.

To Syria, a treaty would mean, above all, the return of its territory and national pride; unprecedented economic opportunity, as a conduit for regional trade; and a longed-for acceptance by the United States, which has blown hot and cold toward Damascus.

Syria isn’t about to sign a treaty unless a Palestinian agreement with Israel is also forthcoming. Damascus has always insisted that such a deal was contingent on the return of all land conquered from Arabs. But rather than being an obstacle, a pending Israel-Syria agreement could be an incentive for a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Damascus holds some sway with Hamas, and, on the right terms, Jerusalem might find a way to include Hamas in the peace process. That too could be a benefit of an Israel-Syria accord.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You have a very short term view. Let’s talk in 20 years. The Arab states are not viable in their current configuration.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

abraham said:

Ugh. Well, I’ll make a list of my questions later. In the meantime, I’m going to go enjoy the rest of the Sabbath.

Shalom.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

Just noticed your question earlier. As far as I know, Alon has no part in the current ongoing efforts by Turkey vis-a-vis Israel/Syria. He is, nonetheless, still very active in other efforts that pertain to the Israeli-Syrian peace initiative.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:13 pm

 

Alex said:

It seems that Junblatt yesterday repeated, indirectly this time, that he would kill Bashar Assad if he could.

During a press conference someone asked him about claims that someone (I forgot the name) who is close to him was behind the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, Junblatt answered “If he was that good, I would have asked him to get rid of the Syrian regime … I don’t mind doing that”

The way I understood it, this can only mean: … if he can kill Mughnieh in Damascus, then I would have asked him to kill Bashsar … I don’t mind doing that.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

wizart said:

HP,

Glad we feel the same way on separating politics from religion..

Just wanted to add something in support to solving the crisis in Lebanon. I’m in agreement with what Norman proposed earlier and I would also lean to going with this idea cold turkey to be able to realize the full benefits of a more viable system similar to the one in the U.S which is increasingly full with minorities as well. The gradual process QN suggests might actually perpetuate the current amazingly difficult conditions.

Implications of confessionalism for the Region

Hisham Melhem argued that Lebanese confessionalism is nothing less than “a cancer on the country’s body politic.” He discouraged talk of applying it elsewhere in the region, as is now being attempted in postwar Iraq. He stated that while Lebanon has always had democratic politics and practices, it has never really had full democracy. Its sectarian politics allows interference from outside actors, specifically Iran, Israel, Syria, and the United States. He cited the Spanish civil war of the 1930s as an example of interference when European countries, and even the United States, fought proxy wars against each other and against fascism. In a sharp critique, Melhem blamed the Lebanese for inviting outsiders to interfere and settle scores on Lebanese soil.

Taking a historical look at the region, Melhem pointedly criticized Arab regimes as sectarian, despite their claims to the contrary. He singled out Baathist Iraq and Syria as two confessionally based regimes. The former was even Tikriti-based and Saddamist at its core, he said, while the latter is Alawi-based and concentrated on the Assad family. He criticized American policy in Iraq as exacerbating an already existing confessionally based society and called for a more equitable distribution of political power with a special emphasis on diversity. While allowing the Shi`aa of Iraq to enjoy the political power they were deprived of under the Ba`ath regime, Melhem cautioned against monopolizing it.

Reminding the audience of the liberal era between the two world wars in the Arab world, Melhem called for a more open and secular political arrangement. Political parties and associations flourished during the liberal period and everyone had a chance of thinking and acting within the parameters of nationhood, and not simply according to their sectarian identities. If democracy is to find a foothold and succeed, an emphasis on secular principles must be encouraged. Confessionalism, as it has been applied in Lebanon and as it is being advocated for in Iraq, is the wrong formula for sustainable and peaceful democratic development.

http://www.usip.org/pubs/usipeace_briefings/2006/0330_lebanon_confessionalism.html

May 3rd, 2008, 6:17 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re right – I do have a very short term view. Israel celebrates 60 years in 4 days. How “long” is 60 years? 20 years from now is an eternity, in Middle Eastern standards. By then, if we have no peace, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and possibly another handful of Arab or Muslim states may have nuclear technology and/or possibly nuclear weapons. Are we really so confident that we can wait that long? Or that we’ll be able to destroy all these programs before they mature enough? I’m not. Sorry.

But there is one bit of good news… Maccabi Tel-Aviv will play against Moscow’s CSKA in the Euroleague Championship Final tomorrow! Will we bring the trophy home, for the 6th time? In’shalla…

May 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

good heavens, Norman, if you are going to paste in whole articles, you could at least remove all the bumf from underneath them, first.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Shai said:

Rowan, I’m sorry, but your comment to Norman will have to be deleted as it is too short… 🙂

May 3rd, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

why-discuss said:

BONGO

Thanks for recalling the ruthless and agressive nature of the past and present Israeli leadership as well as the bloody past of that country that will never cease to haunt them. Germany apologized to the jews they massacred, when will Israel apologize for the crimes they have done to the palestinians? Of course Israel can gloriy itself for its successful econonomy, but what is money without a moral sense of justice?

May 3rd, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Israelis will not be apologizing for at least 15-20 years, I believe. We need to first make peace, and have most Israelis realize that their existential fear is based more on emotion than on rational thinking. When Israelis will lose their almost-innate Holocaust-complex (of which they still very much suffer today), they will at last be able to achieve true self-introspection, and then understand the extent of their crimes. Only then will apologies come, and only then will forgiveness and reconciliation become possible.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

norman said:

Rowan Berkely,

I am sorry but i had to leave in a hurry to take my kid to a soccer game ,so I did not have time to edit it , I am glad though that i made you mention the heavens , we need that.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:48 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

when Laura Rozen cited that item, Bondo, here:
http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2008/05/8143_friday_afternoo.html
I added a couple of comments describing it as psyops.

May 3rd, 2008, 6:53 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

I responded to your Qur’an comment on the other post. I will paste it here as well:

__________________________________

AIG said:

I agree that a possible interpretation of 2:61 is as you say. But it is an historical fact that many Islamic scholars interpreted it as an outrgiht condemnation of all Jews and it is quite popular in many Frdiay sermons.

This is correct.

In fact, Nasrallah recently (in the past year or so) glossed this verse in an interview he gave.

The point is that the Qur’an (and the Islamic tradition at large) is multivocalic about the People of the Book. One can find sanction within the Quran and the sunna for a wide variety of acceptable dealings with them, ranging from treating them with respect and dignity, to engaging in debate with them, to defensive war, to offensive war.

All religions contain within them mechanisms for the legitimation of violence. When God commanded the Israelites to slay the Midianites in Numbers 31:1-54, Moses reprimanded his people for not ALSO killing the women and male children. And so they did, massacring them all but saving the virgins (32,000 in all) “for themselves”.

Now, the fact that some Islamic scholars have drawn upon such language to encourage anti-semitic attitudes does not mean that Islam cannot but be antisemitic. Witness the current bonds that have emerged between evangelical Christians and Israel. Less than fifty years ago, the Protestant and Catholic parents and grandparents of today’s evangelicals were very bigoted towards Jews in general.

So, I agree with JH.

May 3rd, 2008, 7:11 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

I think the senate should have like in the US equal wight if not more wait , That is how minorities and small states rights are protected in the US and that can be said of a senate in Lebanon , all these thoughts can apply to Syria,

May 3rd, 2008, 7:12 pm

 

norman said:

Print
2008-05-03
Don’t be Afraid of Peace with Syria
The cost of peace with Syria has been known for years, and there is no reason to be alarmed by it. The security advantages of peace for Israel are greater than the strategic value of the Golan Heights, says the Ha’aretz Editorial.

——————————————————————————–
TEL AVIV—Peace with Syria is once again knocking at our door, and it even seems to be meeting with a less-frosty reception on the Israeli side. The time is ripe for negotiations with Syria, especially since US President George W. Bush’s reign is drawing to a close, and among his potential successors, whether Democrat or Republican, there is a willingness to negotiate with Bashar Assad instead of boycotting him.
John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama all see a peace agreement between Israel and Syria as a recipe for relieving tension in the region. Removing Syria from the axis of evil might shuffle the Middle Eastern deck once again, breaking alliances and creating new interests. Israel can reap greater security from a new situation of that kind.

There seems to be a need to repeat, over and over, this basic fact: Nothing contributes to Israel’s security more than a peace accord. Before the protests of solidarity with the Golan Heights begin, it should be emphasised that withdrawal from the Golan in exchange for peace is endorsed not only by bleeding hearts, but by distinctly security-minded figures. The supporters of the Golan are West Bank settlers, like Golan resident Effi Eitam, who see any withdrawal as a national catastrophe; parties that gain strength by sowing security-related fears, such as Israel Beiteinu; those with economic interests in the region, hikers, bird-watchers, wine connoisseurs and winemakers; and mainly the people of the past, who still consider the lookout point on Mount Hermon to be “Israel’s eyes,” even though those eyes did not prove a very effective source of warning in 1973. Today, neither advance warning nor deterrence rely on the “Alpinists” (the elite IDF unit trained for snow operations), and the missile war expected in the future is not affected by natural boundaries, whether of the flowing or the ascending kind.

Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu have all supported withdrawing from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace and security arrangements, and they all worked to obtain such an agreement. Whether or not the current government is capable of carrying out an historical move that entails territorial concessions is a question of leadership ability. Peace is not a commodity in high demand when the border is quiet, but peace with Syria might open up the possibility of regional peace by changing the balance of interests in the area.

If there is truth in recent reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent Assad, through the Turkish prime minister, a message concerning his willingness to withdraw from all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, it is clear that most of the negotiations will not involve the withdrawal itself, but rather the attendant security arrangements.

In an article in the newspaper al-Hayat, published in London, Dr. Fawzi Shoaibi, head of the Data and Strategic Studies Centre in Syria and a close consultant of Assad, writes, “The time has come to break through the Syrian-Israeli channel.” Assad himself said in July 2007 that he was waiting for Israel to make an official and public announcement of its willingness to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights, so that the talks could focus only on the security arrangements.

The cost of peace with Syria has been known for years, and there is no reason to be alarmed by it. The security advantages of peace are greater than the strategic value of the Golan Heights. The problem is that even within Kadima, Olmert’s party, it is hard to locate sufficient support for this welcome move by the prime minister.

This Ha’aretz Editorial is distributed by the Common Ground News Service and can be accessed at GCNews.

May 3rd, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Two more things about Haaretz over the last couple of years (apart from my views of their Talkback circus, which I am sure I have already stated):

*Shmuel Rosner was parachuted in directly from AIPAC HQ and given celebrity status, a sub-domain of his own, and control of his own Talkback threads.

*There are more and more articles trying to sell orthodox judaism there.

A lot of this has to do with David Landau, who is orthodox, was at JPost, and makes himself VERY VERY CONSPICUOUS as a ‘LIBERAL’:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Landau_%28journalist%29

I see the whole thing as a staged spectacle of false opposition. Right and Left in ‘democratic’ politics is just tough cop and con cop, working the victim alternately as a team, as I said elsewhere.

And, all over the ‘democratic’ West, social democratic governments can be relied upon to deliberately lose elections to rightist parties at regular and calculated intervals. This happens in the USA as well – Obama is the gimmick chosen to make sure Hillary doesn’t win, and vice versa. Last night, our own Labour mayor of London lost his position to a stooge who pretends to be a character from a Billy Bunter story. It’s all rigged.

If this is too bleak a view for some of you to accept, that doesn’t make it untrue – it took me years to come to terms with it, for that very reason – it seems to destroy all hope.

This is another aspect of the punk aesthetic, come to think of it. Remember the Sex Pistols : “God save our gracious Queen, God save this fascist regime.”

May 3rd, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ya Ammo Norman,

Before you were saying that you were against a confessional senate. Now you are for a more powerful one! 🙂

I agree with you, although I think that a senate is beneficial for many reasons, not just for easing the anxieties of sectarian leaders. Bicameralism is just a better system, in many ways.

Take a look at this Wikipedia entry:

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

And this map (bicameral states in blue, unicameral in orange).

May 3rd, 2008, 7:39 pm

 

Shai said:

Rowan,

This is why Stephen Hawking suggests that if there are other species out there in the universe, they are most likely not as intelligent as us. The logic being that if they were as intelligent, or more, they would have already destroyed themselves, as seems to be our own human tendency… He is not completely pessimistic, however. He suggests the human race must explore space, and search for ways to leave earth and colonize elsewhere as well. Only by splitting us up, could humans possibly survive well into the future, he believes…

May 3rd, 2008, 7:51 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

um… are you by any chance a fan of Zecharia Sitchin?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zecharia_Sitchin

May 3rd, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I never argued that Islam cannot but be antisemitc. I think we agree that currently Islam is quite antisemitc especially in the Arab world. What the future holds in 300 years is anybody’s guess.

The way we got into this argument was a claim that Arabs hate Jews just because of Israel. That I think we agree is patently false.

May 3rd, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Rowan,

No… I’m not. But I used to read a lot of Assimov’s books as a child.

May 3rd, 2008, 8:14 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I thought you didn’t think it would be bad if Arab countries got nuclear weapons, so I really do not understand your point.

Who here is guily of having a “holocaust mentality”? You think we need to amke peace because otherwise you think we will be annihilated. I am sure we will not be annihilated but want real peace with democratic Arab countries. I just think that until then, the Arab countries have so many internal issues to deal with, that a peace treaty with them is a very temporary solution at best and at worst will only delay demcracy in the middle east.

Is it not clear to you that one day after Syria signs a peace agreement with Israel which Alex would support, Wizart, Ausamma, Abraham etc. will call him a traitor? A peace treaty with Israel will not help the average Syrian one iota. It will just give Asad legitimacy and delay democracy in Syria for decades just as the peace treaty with Egypt has delayed democracy there.

May 3rd, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

First, I was never for Arab countries getting nuclear weapons (that’s Van Kreveld’s theory, not mine). Second, why should we concern ourselves so much with other nations’ democracy? Worrying too much about it, often makes one get involved in it (see our puppet-mastering of Abu Mazen), often makes one pay for it in the end (see U.S. in Iran after the Revolution). Let the Arab people have democracy if and when they are ready for it. But why must peace exist only between democratic nations? Half this world isn’t democratic – are you suggesting the world would be a better place if one half was at war with the other half? Peace, even if superficial, even if temporary, is always better than its brotherly alternative, war. Even if Israel cannot be wiped off the planet (as some might suggest in Persian), it can be hurt in catastrophic ways, if nuclear weapons, or even biological/chemical weapons are ever used. The longer we wait with peace, the more likely these scenarios become. Must we really continue to pretend to be blind? Do we need such a catastrophe to finally understand our stubbornness has been dangerously wrong? One must not only look at history to understand the future, but also at present tendencies and developments that are clearly taking place. Unlike Assimov, this is NOT science fiction – it is happening around us as I type these words. We should ALL be fearful of waiting too long.

May 3rd, 2008, 8:50 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

QN,
I never argued that Islam cannot but be antisemitc. I think we agree that currently Islam is quite antisemitc especially in the Arab world. What the future holds in 300 years is anybody’s guess.

The way we got into this argument was a claim that Arabs hate Jews just because of Israel. That I think we agree is patently false.

AIG because you brought this “anti thing” in holy texts up, are these following quotes really true which I found after doing a little “internet research”. Before I have not “studied” this aspect of Judaism.

Baba Mezia, 114b “The Jews are called human beings, but the non-Jews are not humans. They are beasts.”

Zohar (L, 38b, 39a): A Jew to receive a high place in heaven if he kills a Christian.

Hadarine, 20, B; Schulchan 9ruch, Choszen Hamiszpat 348. “A Jew may do to a non-Jewess what he can do. He may treat her as he treats a piece of meat.

Schulchan Aruch, Jore Dia. “A Jew is permitted to rape, cheat and perjure himself; but he must take care that he is not found out, so that Israel may not suffer.”

Abhodah Zarah 26b Tosephoth: “A Jew who kills a Christian commits no sin, but offers an acceptable sacrifice to God.”

Boda Sarah 37a. “A Gentile girl who is three years old can be violated.”

ETC. Seems to be hundreds equal quotes.

AIG if those quotes are true Jews have no reason to speak about “anti-Semitism” in other religions holy books. Do you really read these “texts” in your religious schools and teach these “learned” opinions to children?

AIG if an Rabbi nowadays says that a Jew is worth 1000 Arabs, as some of them say in public, doesn’t it mean also that one Jew is also worth 1000 Christians (or 500 Christians because we are now “buddies”). Can you ask your rabbi?

May 3rd, 2008, 9:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Not having peace, does not mean having a war as the situation with Syria clearly attests. A bad peace, will in many cases lead to a much worse war as the peace accords of WWI prove.

A bad peace will INCREASE significantly the chances of a catastrophic event, not lower it. Currently, the enemy of the Syrian people is Asad. If we sign a peace agreement with Asad, we become the enemies of the Syrians to. We will be blocking all hope they have for a better future and they will resent us strongly for that just as I am sure the Egyptians resent us. If we sign peace with Asad now, we assure that Asad’s son will be the next Syrian dictator and that democracy will be delayed for decades in Syria.

The Iranian people do not really hate Israel. The Syrian people hate Israel but not enough to do anything about it. They would rather take care of their own problems. If we align ourselves with the dictators in the middle east, we will become real enemies of the Syrian people. The dictators will not risk using WMDs because they know they will die. Why would Asad risk his life and regime? But if you make the Syrian people desparate enough, they may use WMDs. A peace with Asad would be a bad one indeed.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:07 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Most of those quotes are just false as most of the quotes you usually find on antisemitic sites are. Others are minority opinions or out of context.

In any case, you are missing the point of the discussion. The question is what are the roots of Jew hatred in the Arab world? Is it only Israel or do other factors play a significant role. Your view I guess would be that Jews are so vile there is every reason to hate them and we shouldn’t see Jew hatred as a problem in the Arab world.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

Shai said:

Simo,

I won’t wait for AIG to respond. If and when any of such statements have been said, they would not be accepted by 99.9% of Jews, not only Israelis. Such rhetoric is as extreme as you’d hear in any gathering of KKK, neo-Nazis, Aryan Nation, etc. against Blacks, Jews, Muslims, you name it. This stuff is certainly NOT taught at any school in Israel (not secular, not religious). Just as in most madrassas you don’t see children being taught to kill Jews, or to rape, or to commit other sins.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Having superficial peace with Egypt and Jordan did not increase the likelihood for war with those two nations, just the opposite. The Iranian people are just like the Syrians – they look realistically at what we’re doing to the Palestinians, and they hate us for it. The minute we stop behaving that way, they will stop hating us. Syrians on this blog, who are not under the “watchful eye” and can speak freely, tell you that they’re FOR peace with Israel, before Syria becomes a democracy. How can you suggest that you understand their people better than they do? That you can “read” their future feelings towards us, should we make peace with Bashar, better than the Syrians who speak to us on this blog do? I am not suggesting we start funding and arming the Bashar regime, like we did with some others around the world (and Fatah, in our own neighborhood). I’m suggesting we make peace with Syria, and have the entire world supporting us, not only the Syrian regime and its people. Democracy will come faster to Syria, if issues of war and resistance are removed from the table. Not the other way around.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG can you educate me what of the example quotes are not true? If you can’t prove it I assume the quotes are right.

My other question is that are these religious racist supremacy “ideas” taught to Jewish children?

Among Arabs are plenty of Christians AIG so do not duck the question. If we discuss about “anti-Semitism” and “Jew hate” among Arabs, isn’t equally important to discuss about “Arab, Muslim, Christian hate” among Jews and in their holy texts?

May 3rd, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
If you think it is important to discuss Muslim and Christian haterd of Jews I agree with you. It is constantly discussed in the Israeli press you are so happy to quote. But since Judaism predates Christianity and Islam, this hatred is not a fundamental part of the religion as is the case in Islam and Christianity.

I am sure you are familiar with the view of the founder of your church, Luther, on Jews:
Luther writes that the Jews are a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.”[1] They are full of the “devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,”[2] and the synagogue is an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut …”[3] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[4] afforded no legal protection,[5] and these “poisonous envenomed worms” should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[6] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing “[w]e are at fault in not slaying them.”[7]

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

I know where your view of Jews comes from so it will not help telling you again that most of your quotes are false, minority opinions or out of context. You will believe the worst about the Jews anyway.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:34 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

I agree with you that a system like the one in the US is the better system, now can we implement it .

May 3rd, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

norman said:

If the Arab were anti Semitics they would have got rid of the Jews in Spain when the Arabs and Muslims were the only friends the Jews had.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:46 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

question of the day from me ,

Now we agree that probably Netanyahu is the Israeli leader that can sign a peace treaty with the ARABS AND MUSLIMS ,as peace with Arab alone will not be enough.

If you were a Palestinian , How would see a solution for the Palestinian problem that you think you can accept , But as a Jew you feel that the Israelis would accept too.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
That is like saying: That man is not a thief because today he didn’t steal anything.

What about other times when Muslims ruled over Jews? They were always treated as second class citizens and subjected to special taxes and in many cases were murdered and massacred.

May 3rd, 2008, 9:57 pm

 

norman said:

AIG,

I think you are brainwashed with hatred ,History tells us that Arabs and Jews had better time when they worked together ,

Didn’t the Muslims take control of the Holy sites in Jerusalem when the remnant of the Crusades refused entry to the Jews.?

May 3rd, 2008, 10:02 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG I went in one year in Catholic school in Austria and mostly Finnish school (protestant religion teaching) and I do not remember that Jews not a single time were “described as bad” in our religion teaching. Nor were Muslims. Actually our religion teaching was more like learning history.

You AIG must remeber that those your “Jewish minority “reports”” were writen long before Martin Luther’s writing. Good that you know the Luther’s texts better than me. I have never read a single writing by Luther, I have heard about the thesis he nailed on the door in Wittenberg. Astonishing that an publicly confessed atheist as you knows so much of other religions and so little about “yours”.

Indeed I must confess to you AIG, the more I listen to you the less favourable opinion of Israel and Jews I have. Lucky there is Shai, he repairs 90 percent of the “damages” you do. Well keep doing your “good” job AIG, the more you present your views, the closer is the one state solution. 🙂

—–

You IG’s are real top secretary level typists. Or there must be a couple of AIGs writing those instant answers you produce in an astonishing short time and under several topics.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
I noticed that your knowledge of history is quite lacking but the fact remains that the founder of the church you belong to is a rabid Jew hater. I hope you are not going to deny this uncontroversial fact. That you don’t know about it tells a lot about you.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:08 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
That Muslims treated Jews better than Christians is no compliment to Muslims. That was not difficult to do. It is a fact that Jews were second class members of Muslim societies and had to pay special taxes. They were never treated as equals. Do you deny this?

May 3rd, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bondo,
Living confidently and safely in the US while preaching hate of the West, which is exemplified by the US, you are exactly like the Cretian that says: “All Cretians are liars”

Your irrationality is beyond repair and that is why nobody listens to you in the US. But thanks for helping make the following point. The reason the West supports Israel is because what Israelis say makes sense, not because the West does not listen to the Palestinians. Make more sense, and more people will support you.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:34 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

This is my understanding of your argument:

(a) Muslim societies (especially in the Arab world) are currently quite antisemitic.

(b) This does not mean that Islam itself (whatever that means) is inherently antisemitic. Things may change in the future.

(c) However, it is inaccurate to say that Arabs ONLY hate Jews because of Israel.

AIG I think that you are right to a certain extent. But, I also think that Israel is really the horse, and not the cart. Arabs and Muslims look at the situation in Palestine and feel a deep sense of moral outrage. This moral outrage is easy to take advantage of, which is what happens when Muslim scholars start looking through the Quran and the sunna and other scriptures to find negative things to say about the Jews.

Now, I don’t believe that this would all go away if the situation in Palestine improved. It’s not like these imams are just pretending to be antisemitic. They believe what they’re saying. And so we’re going to have this problem of hostility between the faiths for a long time. But again I would say that it is historically rooted, not doctrinally (or at least no more so than we find in other monotheistic doctrines).

As for your discussion with Norman about the treatment of the Jews under the Muslims, I find these kinds of disputes to be misguided. You are judging historical events against a moral code that only developed very recently. Were the Jews treated like second class citizens? Of course they were. So were women in the West up until several decades ago. Less than 150 years ago, slavery was widespread in the United States. Women were only given the right to stand for election and vote in a European country in 1906 (in Finland!)

Things change.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:48 pm

 

norman said:

People of other faiths beside Islam like Christians and Jews were asked to pay extra fees but were given the chance to have the same obligations and benefits if they become Muslims, I think that is better than what you offer the Palestinians who probably were Jews but changed their religion to Islam and Christianity , would you let the Palestinians Christians and Muslims become Jewish and have equal rights ?. I doubt it.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:49 pm

 

norman said:

QN,,

Are you sure that you are only 17 years old , now tell us what Doctor’s degree you have.

May 3rd, 2008, 10:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I agreed with all you were saying until you said:
“But again I would say that it is historically rooted, not doctrinally (or at least no more so than we find in other monotheistic doctrines).”

How did you reach this conclusion? The imams find the quotes exactly because it is doctrinally rooted there (what does it matter if it is more or less than in Christianity?). Israel may be the horse and not the carriage, but it is not the first horse. It may be a big horse hitched alongside the doctrinal horse to help pull the carriage. But the many case of hatred of Jews, because they were Jews, in the Arab world way before the founding of Israel prove that there was first another horse there, a horse most Arabs wish to ignore.

As for your comment about my argument with Norman, there are two separate issues:
1) Where Jews treated well? No, that is a myth.
2) Was the treatement of Jews that bad given the historical context and moral values? You tell me, was the treatment of Jews following the Damascus blood libel of 1840 reasonable for those times? I think not.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
So it was to ok to coerce Jews to change their faith?

And yes, if ANY Muslim converts to Judaism he can automatically become a full Israeli citizen with all the rights. That is the law in Israel. So Norman, why don’t you suggest to your Palestinian pals to convert?

May 3rd, 2008, 11:07 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Minorities (religious and other minorities) were treated badly (or savagely) in many places and times in history. The question is: Is the case of Jews in the Arab world more special than others? and … if we never forget anything, then what kind of world will we live in? … build walls everywhere?

I don’t know if I told you about something that a Jewish friend told me few months ago: “Our fathers tell us when we are teenagers to practice on Christian girls but to marry good Jewish girls”

How should I, as a proud Christian, take it? … should I refuse to make peace with “the Jews”?

May 3rd, 2008, 11:19 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
First, there were and are bigoted and awful Jews like in any society. That is not the issue.

What is more intereting is your question: Is the case of Jews in the Arab world more special than others?

I think the answer is definitely yes because Judaism was viewed by Muhammed as the major ideological rival to Islam. The hatred had a strong ideological underpinning.

Of course we should forgive and forget. I am more than happy to do that. What I am not ready is to compromise the security and well being of Israel for some naive view that after peace all the problems in the middle east will go away. The haterd of Jews will not go away after a peace process especially if the peace is forced down the throats of people by their dictators. If peace comes truly from the people, I am for it. If it just serves the dictator’s interests, then it is a bad peace for Israel.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:29 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

You have a different understanding of the word “doctrine”. Scripture is not doctrine. I didn’t say that antisemitism is not scripturally rooted; I said it is not doctrinally rooted, at least no more than it is in the other faiths.

There is nothing difficult about picking up the Quran (or the Bible) and looking for endorsements of violence in it. Violence is everywhere in scripture. I can cite verses for you that are even more bloody and fire-breathing than the ones you’ve cited. But this is not doctrine. Doctrine is what believers do with their texts; it is how they interpret them, rationalize them, harmonize their contradictions, difficulties, and ambiguities. Given the historical circumstances, this can yield many different results. For some fundamentalist imams today, being Muslim means hating the Jews. But this is not the doctrine of a vast majority of people.

Which brings me again to your discussion with Norman. AIG, there is absolutely no question that Jews living under Muslim rule were treated horribly at times. But the period we are speaking about is enormous (almost a millennium and a half) and the geographical space is vast (western Europe to western China). In different times and different places, Jews (and Copts, Shiites, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Sufis, Zaydis, Ismailis, and even Sunni Muslims of other theological persuasions) suffered persecution. They also frequently enjoyed beneficial conditions, rising to high positions in state bureaucracies, achieving fame as scholars, becoming rich as merchants, etc.

What I’m saying is that this fact does not mean that things are bound to remain the same. There is no insurmountable doctrinal obstactle. Look at Jews in America today. They were once treated like second-class citizens. Now they are among the most affluent, educated, and powerful self-identifying groups in American society.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
My understanding of doctrine is exactly like yours. Islamic doctrine today in most Arab countries is such that Jews are considered second class to Muslims. This is an actual living and breathing doctrine based on currrent interpretation of scripture. Islamic doctrine in most if not all Arab countries is that ALL of Israel is Dar al Harb. I don’t think you would argue with this. So I am not sure what your point is.

Of course, things are not bound to remain the same, but change must come from the people and not from dictators claiming to represent the people. It is not a peace forced down the throat of people that will bring change. It is decades of societal change that has hardly begun.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:47 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

Doctrine in predominantly Sunni regimes also regards the Shi`a as second-class citizens, and this is the case even in some states with large or even majority Shia populations (like Lebanon and Bahrain).

Furthermore, everything you are saying about Muslim attitudes about the Jews should apply to the Christians as well, right? The Qur’an speaks about them in the same breath, in the same verses, and they occupy the same legal category in Islamic law. How is it that Christians live in peace with their neighbors in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, etc.? Are there prejudices? Sure. Were there massacres of Christians in the 19th century? Yes, lots. But today there exists nothing like the hostility that we witness towards Jews.

So again, it’s political in my opinion. Not doctrinal.

I guess I’ve lost the thread of your argument, which is what usually happens when we get caught up in an interesting discussion. Can you connect this back to your original point?

May 3rd, 2008, 11:58 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG didn’t you say numerous times that you are an atheist. A member of an “non religious” Jewish nation. So why do care so much about religions. Isn’t an atheist former Muslim or Christian your ideological brother?

You are simply digging out the desperate last Zionist propaganda weapon “Jews are killed and teased every where – come to Israel”. People like you are building an Haredi Israel, which doesn’t fit in modern world. Especially for a “nation” who live mostly as a minority among others.

This was not said 100 years ago, it was said some weeks ago

… The life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs
Rabbi Eliyahu

The same former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel advocates
Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza

According to Jewish war ethics, wrote Eliyahu, an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Kassam rockets.

“If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand,” said Shmuel Eliyahu. “And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”

Why AIG this man is not in prison? In all democracies such characters are put in prison or mental hospital? Not even “Saddam” did speak such bullshit. It is a pity that western media doesn’t refer more these your “moderate, peace loving” rabbis.

May 3rd, 2008, 11:59 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman

I have a doctorate. A doctorate in tafnis.

😉

May 4th, 2008, 12:01 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Jews are not the only targets of the extremists. Russians, Christians, Indians … could all be targets to various extents in their narrow minds.

With so many enemies, these people will not be able to continue thinking this way without becoming targets themselves.

Which is part of what I was asking you … if the Indians and Russians have good relations with the Palestinians, should Israel still wait and worry about the way extremists think?

It will be manageable.

But I agree that peace should not be forced down the throats of people … not down the throats of the majority of people. We can not wait for the remaining 20% who will still hate Israelis even after all UN resolutions have been implemented.

May 4th, 2008, 12:01 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
The point we started from was whether Israel was the only cause of Jew hatred. I think we agree it is not and that with peace the Jew hatred is not going to disappear.

The myth that the Christians are “living in peace” was once and for all expelled in Iraq. They are merely being protected by the dictator. That is why Alex is so worried about Asad leaving power. The copts in Egypt would suffer terribly under the Muslim Brotherhood. Just move the secular dictators and all hell will break loose because of the current doctrine (which can change but it will take decades).

May 4th, 2008, 12:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Eliyahu is not in prison because there is freedom of speech in Israel. As you know, even holocaust deniers are not prosecuted in Israel. I think it is best this way. I think freedom of speech is a bulwrack of democracy. I will try to convince Rabbi Eliyahu to move to Turku.

The western media nows this is not news because there are crazy religious guys in most western democracies and they say ridiculous things quite often.

May 4th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

In Lebanon, Muslims and Christians live in the same neighborhoods, they loan each other sugar, they invite each other to their childrens’ weddings, etc. You are talking about extremists. Not everybody is an extremist!

Just because there are other sources of anti-semitism besides Israel does not mean that the vast majority of the problem is not Israel. In fact, I would say that Israel is not solely to blame: it is Israel, plus ignorance, lack of education, illiteracy, poverty, etc. in the Arab world, that is driving this.

One more thing.

I just read this paragraph you wrote on the other post:

The roots of antisemitism are basically the fact that Jews are a living proof to Christians and Muslims that their religion is false. Both Christians and Muslims wanted Jews to accept their religion but it never happened. The Jews insisted that theirs was the right religion, and if Jews prospered, that would fly in the face of Christian and Muslim teachings. That in a nutshell is the root cause of Jew hatred.

I think that this is the source of your problem. As long as you truly believe that Christians and Muslims hate Jews because Jews are a proof that their religions are “false”, then you will feel justified in maintaining your clash of civilizations approach to the problem.

This, to my mind, is a gross over-simplification, and it actually is very naive. It is also a cop-out, because it absolves you of addressing the real issues, which are political and not rooted in some religious hocus-pocus.

I am going out for a drink (with JH!)

See y’all later.

May 4th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Norman,

You said in http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=696#comment-140007
re. Qifa Nabki “QN,Are you sure that you are only 17 years old, now tell us what Doctor’s degree you have.”

I’m glad others are catching up to the genius of my idol QN. I still want to take credit for having quite early in my participation in SC discovered and commented on his superior intellect. Here’s what I said then:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=563#comment-108297
To Qifa Nabki: Well, whether or not you are a very young chap, as I think Alex once led us to believe, I find myself either smiling (agreeably) or nodding my head (in agreement) with almost everything you say, often sparing me having to post a response – which you provide with much more eloquence anyway. Hats off to you. I am so much in admiration that if you were to start a religion I might seriously consider following it — 3an jadd.

May 4th, 2008, 12:19 am

 

Alex said:

“Just move the secular dictators and all hell will break loose”

It might… there is a good chance it might.

But in Lebanon for example, with practically no authority (no president and no Syria army) they did not decide to kill each other … Christians, Shias, and Druze are still alive.

People in the Middle East got sick of violence. So, “Alex” is worried about the possibility, not the certainty, of chaos … and it is not to protect Christians only … as I explained to you a hundred times already.

I am not disagreeing with you that changes are needed all over the Middle East … but it will have to be controlled and planned and … not “shoved down the throats” of some countries (like the ones who are not America’s puppets).

Peace between Syria and Israel and Lebanon can be one of the best ways to make the environment change-friendly… partly because it will make it unnecessary and unlikely for the Untied States to continue planning for change without taking into account the concerns and fears of the Syrians and their allies.

May 4th, 2008, 12:21 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I think what you quoted is the underlying cause that explains most everything else. Because of this, the Christian and Islamic institutions and leaders sanctioned Jew haterd and supported the other “natural” causes that Jew haterd arose from. I am not saying that most Muslims and Christians gave this a lot of thought and became hateful based on philosophical reasons. I am saying that Islamic and Christian leaders justified Jew hatred and violence against the Jews, something that they did not do relative to other minorities.

No, not everybody is an extremist. How do you explain then the (pathological?) fear of most Chritians in Lebanon of naturalizing the Palestinians because they are mostly Sunnis? How do you explain the inhibition to build a church or synagogouge in Saudi Arabia? How can you explain the support in most Arab countries for a death sentence to someone that converts from Islam?

The issues are not just religious, but their solution can only come from changes in Arab societies, something that the West has very limited control over. There is nothing much the west or anybody can do. A solution to the Palestinian problem will change very very little.

May 4th, 2008, 12:27 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

Sim,
Eliyahu is not in prison because there is freedom of speech in Israel. As you know, even holocaust deniers are not prosecuted in Israel. I think it is best this way. I think freedom of speech is a bulwrack of democracy. I will try to convince Rabbi Eliyahu to move to Turku.

The western media nows this is not news because there are crazy religious guys in most western democracies and they say ridiculous things quite often.

Come-on AIG the guy is a former Chief Rabbi. Chief Rabbi I repeat.

You IG’s are rather funny with free speech. You have free speech for Jews, but you are demanding us others not to analyse or study Holocaust (because of Jewish / Israeli demands it is a crime in many countries) and question were there really 6 million. You Jew extrimists form pressure groups to silence the academics around the world. What free speech is that?

AIG probably you and your ideological mentor and close friend Eliyahu can find in Talmud that Jews have the right to speak, we gentiles must be silent especially when Jews speak.

By the way why should your friend Eliyahu come to Turku? He would be with 100 percent certainty in prison here if he would be continue to speak like that. In Finnish law spreading religious hatred is severely punished. Finland is a modern democracy, not a rekligious medival racist society where women have to sit in the back of buses like in Israel.

May 4th, 2008, 12:33 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Please, the fact that the Lebanese killed 200,000 of their brethern over 15 years and are now tired of a civil war proves nothing at all except that I am right.

All the US wants from Syria is to stop supporting terror and destabilizing its neigbors. Nothing else. You can easily get the US of your back if you wanted. Stop hosting terrorists in Damascus and funding and helping Hizballah and you will see how everything changes.

A peace between Israel and Syria will not help the Syrian citizens achieve democracy. It will just entrench Asad and make real changes even more difficult to make. Alex, your strategy will maybe buy you short term safety for minorities in Syria, but in the end, the catastrophe will be much bigger. Asad will fall with a huge crash and then all hell will break loose. You believe that Asad will really engage in democratic reforms. Alas, all his track record and behavior shows he will not give up power. He is riding a tiger and can’t get off. But one day the tiger will throw him off. And we know what happens then.

May 4th, 2008, 12:36 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Can’t you read well? Holocaust denial is allowed in Israel.
Eliyahu was the cheif rabbi and now he isn’t. I find what he says just crazy. So, if someone wants to deny the holocaust, he should come to Israel.

You are all the time using a famous antisemitic technic. What you do, is find one Jew or a minority of Jews that act in a certain way and then you argue that all Jews are like that.

As for the busses, Shai explained to you about 10 times that this is in very few busses that serve only the ultra-orthodox and this is not government sanctioned. But keep generalizing about all Jews.

May 4th, 2008, 12:42 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Wikiquotes from the Diaries of Theodore Herzl as edited and translated by Marvin Lowenthal (Dial Press, New York, 1956):
* In Paris … I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to “combat” anti-Semitism. (in reaction to the Dreyfus affair)
* The anti-Semites will become our most loyal friends; the anti-Semitic nations will become our allies. (noting that anti-Semites’ desire to expel Jews from their nations would aid the Zionist cause)
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Theodor_Herzl

It took me less time to find those than it did to scroll through all of the above time and space wasting dispute. How long have you all been wasting time and space here in this way? How long does it take you all to realise you are being manipulated?

===

Shai, regarding Asimov, I must say I was very influenced by him as well. Especially the Foundation trilogy, in which, fairly obviously, Hari Seldon is Karl Marx and the Mule is Adolf Hitler. Superb stuff. Incidentally, this may not be so obvious to an Israeli ear, but I feel that the names he gives his characters are very proto-Jewish-Israeli. And in a much subtler way, I would regard the Foundation trilogy as a sort of subliminal discourse to USAian Jews upon the necessity of zionism – that would make a marvellous doctoral dissertation topic for a literature major, wouldn’t it? God, it would be fun to write that…

===

Talking of fiction writers, I have to chalk up one point to the tedious and derivative (of Beckett) Harold Pinter, after seeing this in today’s online english Haaretz, at
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980248.html
I’ll tell you why in a minute. Start of citation:

Gefen-Dotan says Mossinson asked her to write the journal so it would be authentic. “This was an accepted genre at that time, like writing letters.” The language was “not high language, except for poetry quotes.” But she is amazed when she looks back. “I can’t believe I wrote it. The innocence. The language. The quotes. A kind of purity of that generation,” she says. On Passover 1948, she described the Haganah’s conquest of Haifa. “It was strange to see the men and women comrades in their holiday clothing and carrying their weapons. But this strange combination also spoke, saying other days will come, they will come …. This night will certainly go down in history. The tale will be told of the comrades, tired from their day’s work and their night’s guard duty, how their eyes lit up and all tiredness fled from their faces at the Voice of the Haganah’s call to drink a fifth cup of wine to Hebrew Haifa,” she wrote. “Haifa the port, the blood and suffering of the deportees to Mauritius and Cyprus; Haifa, the city of Herzl’s vision …. Yes, there are moments when a person feels the beat of history’s wings. And I do not know whether I dare say that I have heard this beat.”

end of citation.

Now as to Pinter: his 1993 play, ‘The New World Order’ offers this self-glorifying exchange between two torturers:
Lionel: I feel so pure.
Des: Well, you’re right. You’re right to feel pure. You know
why?
Lionel: Why?
Des: Because you’re keeping the world clean for democracy.

May 4th, 2008, 1:46 am

 

norman said:

QN,

I do not know any more what tafnis used to mean but i think you are the real thing.

HP,
I am glad you said that first but i reached that conclusion by myself.

AIG,

with the German Holocaust , who can think that Israel and Germany could become such good friends , and yes find a Rabi that will convert Palestinians and i will find you the Palestinians , I am waiting but not holding my breath .

May 4th, 2008, 1:50 am

 

norman said:

Print | Close this window

Syria slashes gas oil subsidy, tripling price
Sat May 3, 2008 5:36pm EDT
DAMASCUS (Reuters) – The Syrian government more than tripled the price of gas oil on Saturday, kicking off a program to remove big subsidies on the fuel.

Pump owners said a liter of gas oil went up to the equivalent of 54 U.S. cents from 15 cents. The state imports large volumes of the fuel at around $1 liter.

An official in the ruling Baath party told Reuters last month that preparations were under way for the gradual removal of gas oil subsidies, which cost the treasury $9 billion a year.

Gas oil is used in Syria on a large scale for industry, transport and heating.

The gas oil price increase came as the government announced a 25 percent hike in public sector salaries to help the population absorb rising living costs and the impact of subsidy cuts.

The increase, which will take effect this month, covers 2 million public workers and retirees, the state news agency said. Syria has a population of 18 million.

The government has taken limited steps to liberalize the economy and lower subsidies in recent years to counter U.S.-led efforts to isolate Syria and the impact of falling production of crude oil, the main source of hard currency.

Petrol prices went up sharply in the last two years to 87 U.S. cents a liter.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Charles Dick)

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.

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

May 4th, 2008, 1:55 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Alex – if you don’t stop this blog from being used as a propaganda training ground for the AIG, Akbar, etc. teams, I shall stop coming here altogether. It’s an insult, and the mere presence of serious readers lends it undeserved legitimation. Also, it tilts the ground so severely that I am unable to determine whether Shai – whom, other things being equal, I should really enjoy talking with – is merely the ‘con cop’ side of a ‘tough cop, con cop’ operation, or a genuine interlocutor. This is not only unfair to me, but unfair to him. I would really like to get to know him better, but this is no place to do it, since both of us are implicated in AIG and Akbar’s idiotic and endless propaganda mill. I am also rather inclined to suspect that you permit AIG, Akbar, etc. to take up this amount of space and energy with their racism because, for reasons I would rather not guess at, Professor Landis has instructed you to do so. When one reaches the point of entertaining such suspicions, one can hardly avoid leaving.

Shai, or anybody else who wishes, can after all reach me directly via my blog or via email – rowan dot berkeley at gmail dot com.

May 4th, 2008, 3:21 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
If you bring sincere Palestinians to most rabbis, they will convert them.

Rowan,
Who has been manipulating whom and for what purpose? Can you explain?

May 4th, 2008, 3:24 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Please don’t leave. We will miss your rambling mumbo jumbo so much. Without you, how will we know that Amira Hass and Gideon Levy as well as the Guardian are crypto-fascists? That was a life changing revelation for me.

May 4th, 2008, 3:27 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Since you are here merely to promote your blog, it is really high time you left. Don’t worry, I will never visit your blog.

May 4th, 2008, 3:29 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG:

Some of the points you made above are well taken, but now I think you’re shifting the conversation in a different direction, namely fundamentalist streams of Islam in modern Arab society.

As for your questions:

How do you explain then the (pathological?) fear of most Chritians in Lebanon of naturalizing the Palestinians because they are mostly Sunnis?

This is a political issue, not a religious one. The Christians are against it for the same reasons that the Shi`a and the Druze are against it: because it would increase the demographic weight of the Sunnis, hence giving them more power in government. Do you think they are against it because of some medieval theological dispute about God’s covenant with humanity?

How do you explain the inhibition to build a church or synagogouge in Saudi Arabia?

The Saudis are extremists, no quesiton. The Saudi ruling elite is wedded to a brand of fundamentalist zealotry. But they are not representative, in most ways. Most non-Saudi Muslims who I know that go to Riyadh for business reasons find it to be an alien society.

How can you explain the support in most Arab countries for a death sentence to someone that converts from Islam?

“Most Arab countries”? Like which ones? I’m not aware that most Arab governments put people to death for converting from Islam.

The issues are not just religious, but their solution can only come from changes in Arab societies, something that the West has very limited control over.

This is true, but you’ve moved the conversation away from antisemitism to the broader issue of Islamic modernity. You are correct that Islamic societies have to confront these questions on their own, and the West can do little about it. But we were originally talking about anti-semitism, which is only a small piece of this problem.

My point was that Israel contributes a great deal to modern anti-semitism in Islam. As for the other issues, you know my feelings about them.

May 4th, 2008, 3:33 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Perhaps AIG is Landis and his immediate circle of students. That would explain a great deal, wouldn’t it?

By the way, there is another nice example of the limits of ‘controlled’ (i.e., fake) opposition in Haaretz today:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980074.html
where, Haaretz having graciously permitted Yossi Sarid to print an opinion piece agreeing with Jimmy Carter that “yes, it’s apartheid,” someone called Pogrund reproves them both at length.

They have also added a real estate supplement – “Real Estate Ad Supplement: Make part of Israel your own” – but I get a 403 when I try to open it.

May 4th, 2008, 3:40 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
A lot of the fear I see in the Aouni blogs is to “Wahabism”. I think there is a religious element there but you may be right that it is only political.

Let’s ask this in the hypothetical, would there be support for executing converts from Islam in Arab countries? Would the population react against this or would they find it ok?

I agree that Israel contributes to antisemitism but getting back to the question, let’s say there would be peace of the realistic kind, would antisemitism go down significantly? I think not, because the roots of antisemitism are much deeper than the issue of Israel.

May 4th, 2008, 3:48 am

 

JH said:

AIG,

“A solution to the Palestinian problem will change very very little.”

It would change a lot for the benighted Palestinians, but more importantly for you, it would make “Jew hatred” in the Middle East into just another human hatred, similar in scale and effect to Kurd hatred, Persian hatred, Arab hatred, Greek Orthodox Christian hatred, Nestorian Christian hatred, neighbour hatred…. etc. ad nauseam…

This, albeit hatred-filled, ideal (which I have little hope will soon come to pass) would just be a different reading of the “New Middle East” utopia rhetorically claimed by Shimon Peres and perhaps even Shai, but importantly – I feel that recognising that it could happen, and that there is no inherent/permanent racial or religious obstacle to a strong Jewish community taking a place in the region, might help you be more optimistic, less fearful for the future of the Jews – and consequently less aggressively defensive of Israel’s rights and territory today?

My basic prejudice is that there are no such obstacles to any humans becoming part of any human region anywhere / anytime. We will always stay racist, and keep hating each other – but this is what makes us human.

This is losing connection to the thread of this page – I shouldn’t have had those beers…

May 4th, 2008, 3:49 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Perhaps AIG is Landis and his immediate circle of students. That would explain a great deal, wouldn’t it?

Rowan,

This comment of yours is in bad taste. You come to this blog, get into a few debates, get flustered, demand that your interlocutor be banned, make negative remarks about the political persuasions of Joshua Landis (not knowing anything about him), and then speculate loudly that your “racist” interlocutor is actually Joshua.

Is this truly necessary?

May 4th, 2008, 3:50 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

indeed it is, you miserable fraud. hopefully, you will be forced to waste as much time removing all my carefully phrased and content-dense messages as I did posting them.

May 4th, 2008, 3:51 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
Why would it explain a lot if I am Landis and his disciples? You are getting more amusing by the post. But everything is possible, if Gideon Levy is a crypto-fasicst, why oh why can’t I be Landis?

May 4th, 2008, 3:51 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

The Aounist paranoia about Wahhabism is mostly political. They like to tar Saad al-Hariri as a Wahhabi, because it is so easy for the March 14ers to tar the opposition as being militant Iranian revolutionary Shiites.

As for your question about popular support for executing converts from Islam, I think that at least 90% of Muslims would be against this. A practicing Muslim might shun his neighbor who converted, but he would not feel good about seeing him hauled off and beheaded. Some would be ok with it, but some are ok with honor killings, right?

let’s say there would be peace of the realistic kind, would antisemitism go down significantly? I think not, because the roots of antisemitism are much deeper than the issue of Israel.

It would go down probably at a similar rate to that of the United States in the 20th century. Over 50 years, provided that Arab societies began to transform and address their large-scale social and economic challenges, I believe that there would indeed be significant change.

May 4th, 2008, 3:59 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rowan said:

indeed it is, you miserable fraud. hopefully, you will be forced to waste as much time removing all my carefully phrased and content-dense messages as I did posting them.

Again, this is unnecessary.

Am I missing something? Are you somebody very important? If so, what are you doing here, messing around on a blog? And if not, then why are you menacing Alex and Joshua with threats of your imminent departure?

May 4th, 2008, 4:02 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I wonder whether any of the hebrew speakers here have noticed how many of Berry Sakharof’s songs are about vampirism?

May 4th, 2008, 4:07 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
I agree that it would take societal change to make antisemitism go down even if there was peace. It is interesting that in end we do not disagree much.

JH,
Despite the beers I get your drift.
I hope you are right but history has never been that kind to the Jews.

May 4th, 2008, 4:10 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
It is because all Jews are bloodsuckers, but you knew that.

May 4th, 2008, 4:11 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I knew you would respond thus – you are exemplifying the demand for a cloak of cultural invisibility, exactly as I described previously.

May 4th, 2008, 4:21 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Let me ask you this:
What do you think, if Israel signed a peace treaty with Syria and gave Asad international legitimacy, would it hamper democratic reforms in Syria or not? I am pretty sure it will.

May 4th, 2008, 4:22 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
What does your answer mean? What is a cloak of cultural invisibility? Can you give a concrete answer? How was I demanding anything let alone some magic cloak of cultural invisibility?

May 4th, 2008, 4:24 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I agree that it would take societal change to make antisemitism go down even if there was peace.

No offense, but I dare say that antisemitism is one of the least of our worries. We have bigger fish to fry, if we’re talking about societal change. Changing attitudes towards Judaism will be a by-product, provided of course that Israel changes as well.

It is interesting that in end we do not disagree much.

Drats! I’ve been snared by the propaganda machine. AIG, do you realize how much damage you’ve just done to my reputation on SC?

😉

May 4th, 2008, 4:26 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

I think a peace deal would further democratic reforms in Lebanon.

In Syria, not so sure… but I don’t see how it would necessarily hamper democratic reforms. What is your argument?

Actually… I’m going to bed.

Tusba7o 3ala-khayr

May 4th, 2008, 4:29 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
So you are really the bad cop, not Shai? How disappointing. But I am Landis so now it all makes sense. I set up this blog to lure Syrian readers so that you and I can con them with the good cop bad cop routine.

May 4th, 2008, 4:32 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Laila tov.
It would hamper democratic reforms because there would be zero pressure on Asad to make any. All the pressure is now from the outside and that would completely vanish.

May 4th, 2008, 4:34 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I think it would be naive to expect anyone but collaborators to engage in such ‘debate’ as we see immediately above. This is no different than the arse-licking Gulf media, content to regurgitate the Western ones.

May 4th, 2008, 4:35 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rowan,

So sorry that this savage isn’t noble enough for your taste. Still, it takes an especially cruel and arrogrant brand of leftist to accuse the natives of being collaborators when they don’t fall in line with his “content-dense” narratives.

May 4th, 2008, 4:42 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
QN is an American of Lebanese origins and I am an Israeli. Who are we collaborating with? Israel and the US? Duh. You are probably trying to call QN a traitor to his people because he can have a civil discussion with an Israeli. Oh well. Oh I forgot, I am Landis and I am American. Who am I collaborating then with?

When are you going to explain to me the cloak of cultural invisibilty stuff? I am very much interested in hearing about it.

May 4th, 2008, 4:45 am

 

Shai said:

Good morning to all. I’ll address all the issues a bit later in the day. Just some very quick comments:

Norman, as usual, you ask fantastic questions in a mere sentence or two. I’ll have to think of a good response, so check in a bit later.

Simo, I appreciate your kind words. I’m not trying to undo anyone’s “damage”, but I certainly am trying to depict an image of a peace-loving Israeli who is both willing to the pay the price for peace in the immediate, and is capable of self-introspection. As I’ve told you before, and surely you understand, it is by far not always “easy” to hear harsh criticism of your own country and people, especially as you are the one ready to change. But I keep coming back, mostly to listen and to learn, and here and there, to be heard.

Rowan, it seems we now have even more in common. Foundation (and the trilogy) is also MY favorite of all of Assimov’s books. In fact, I happen to be re-reading it right now (for the 50th time, probably). There’s tremendous amounts we can learn from his creations. As for “good cop – bad cop”, some have suggested this in the past before you. How can a “good cop” defend himself? 😉 Aside from repeating that I represent no organization (government or private), and no one, other than myself, I can’t really do much more. I am very dedicated to the Israel-Syria peace track, I am working closely with Alon Liel (but am not a member of his organization), and I am attempting as you’ve seen, to paint a very different picture of an Israeli than may have been encountered before. We all suffer from the terrible (mutual) demonization that has taken place this past half-century, and only through interaction can we begin to correct this. Not always easy, but must be done. Shame that there are only 3-4 Israelis here on a fairly regular basis and not more. Incidentally, I am not even identified with any particular side on the political spectrum. As you may have seen, while I am a strong advocate of peace with the Arabs, and while I am 100% for the withdrawal to the 1967 borders (Syria and Palestine), I also happen to think Netanyahu is probably the best PM to deliver these…

More later.

May 4th, 2008, 4:45 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
You are insulting a lot of leftists calling Rowan a leftist. He thinks the Guardian and the UK Labour Party are a crypto-fascist front.

May 4th, 2008, 4:48 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Shai, I must confess, I am an admirer of Caroline Glick. There is another picture of her somewhere, much nicer than the femme fatale one they use with her columns on JPost:
http://www.jewishtribune.ca/tribune/images/clip_image002_159.jpg
And, yes, I know she’s married. But generally speaking, I need to be vampirised, in the nicest possible way, by someone who looks like that. I have vastly too much nefesh for someone of my age.

That reminds me, Shai : yet another good reason for me to be permitted finally to learn hebrew is so that I could read Jabotinsky, much of his work having never been translated, for very obvious reasons. I keep meaning to read his novel, “Samson”:
http://www.amazon.com/Samson-Vladimir-Jabotinsky/dp/0933447019
says “The immortal message of Samson to the Israelite people before his death, rings out to the people of Israel and world Jewry today: ” Collect iron, choose a king, and learn to laugh.”

May 4th, 2008, 4:49 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

QN is Lebanese, not of Lebanese origin. 🙂

This is what Rowan meant… It’s so easy to paint us Lebs as SLA types. *sigh*

Anyway, seriously let’s call this off. Not worth it.

Good night all.

May 4th, 2008, 4:53 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Rowan,
You promised to leave if I was not banned, what happened to your promise?

Please explain the what you mean when you accuse me of demanding a cloak of cultural invisibility?

May 4th, 2008, 4:53 am

 

abraham said:

First, AIG keeps suggesting that what he says “is a fact”. He often uses the term “it is a fact”, but he never includes any references to back up his “facts”.

AIG, where do you get your “facts” from? From now on, whenever you say, “it is a fact”, we can only assume that you are not speaking a fact but are in fact trying to coax people into believing what you say is a “fact” when in actuality you are just making up statements.

Also, you think Arabs/Muslims hate Jews just because they are Jews and refuse to acknowledge the real reason which is the occupation of the Palestinians.

If the Floborzians were currently occupying Palestine and took 78% of their land in a war in 1948, would the Arabs hate:

a) the Floborzians
b) the Jews (just because they hate Jews)
c) both a and b
d) neither a and b

May 4th, 2008, 5:22 am

 

Alex said:

Abraham,

I hate the Flobozians… can’t stand them.

AIG,

Abraham is right … “it is a fact” takes a bit more back up tan just your typing those words.

Rowan,

Please don’t tell me you are serious.

Everyone is free to participate here … no one gets banned except after many many warnings.

And … Almost no one uses his real name, so we can never know who is who and why they are here… so please get used to it and play along… but avoid trying to guess the secret identities of each person here.

I know half the people here (they wrote to me) and for the most part they are exactly who they say they are.

Joshua does not participate in the comments section lately. He is teaching many courses and he has a newborn baby.

No one here is his student … QN is not 17. It is a joke I started. He is getting his Ph.D. very soon.

May 4th, 2008, 5:46 am

 

Alex said:

Abraham .. I deleted your last comment.

Remember our wonderful new rules? : )

May 4th, 2008, 5:51 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Alex, I never know when I am serious. Incidentally, we have a tradition here in London that disinformation is always fed to the Sunday Times or the Sunday Telegraph, regular as clockwork, not to the weekday papers, which can be relied to pick it up from the Sundays, and sure enough, here’s one:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3867880.ece

I’m serious about one thing, though : if I don’t get either employment or sponsorship soon, I shall have to quit, which will make our masters in Whitehall very happy.

May 4th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

abraham said:

Alex said:

Abraham .. I deleted your last comment.

Remember our wonderful new rules? : )

Why? I was sincere in my belief that AIG is a paranoid lunatic. Again, I don’t mean this as a slam. It is my sincere, honest belief, and itis meant to explain why I will now basically refuse to engage in any debate with AIG.

May 4th, 2008, 6:05 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

ah, ‘nefesh’ is the same as the arabic ‘nafs’ – animal spirits.

May 4th, 2008, 6:34 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

of course, nafs also means self, as a grammatical object –
“man `arafa nafsahu faqad `arafa Rabbahu” – he who knows himself knows his Lord – Ibn `Arabi

May 4th, 2008, 7:11 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG you claimed that you are an Israeli ex professional soldier living in Israel. You and I live on about the same time zone. Last night I went to bed after 3 o’clock at night. You staid like normal writing your deep philosophical opinions (some call those rightfully propaganda) the whole night.

Are you AIG doing this comment “factoring” professionally?

I hope you are right but history has never been that kind to the Jews.

AIG Jews have extraordinary well managed to collect wealth and education around the word despite the “anti-Semitism” and “pogroms”. They were not “the bottom” of the societies in Europe or Arab countries. I suppose they were in general wealthier and better educated as the dominant population. How can you AIG explain that?

In Europe there is another big “nation” called Gipsies who also have not wanted to be assimilated to dominant “culture”. They have succeeded much worse than Jews. Why AIG?

So how much is there in the end truth behind the “we are the victims through history” propaganda. It is hardly possible that the “hated people” would have been allowed to became university professors, army generals and big businessmen. Without doubt there has been “distrust” against Jews as there has been towards all strong “different” minorities and some disgusting events in history when Jewish minorities were targeted for political reasons. But mainly Jews did “perform good” in Europe and Arab countries.

May 4th, 2008, 8:04 am

 

Naji said:

Worth a read… http://www.all4syria.biz/Details.aspx?ArticleId=10824

ثلاث “أساطير” حول النظام السوري
جهاد الزين – 03/05/2008

انتهى، على الارجح، الزمن الذي يحسب فيه نظام عربي كالنظام السوري، ان الصلح مع اسرائيل يهدد مصيره نفسه. لقد تغيرت المعطيات،

أو هي آخذة بالتغير السريع، نحو وضع اقل ما يقال فيه انه زمن مدهش للاجيال التي عاصرت المعادلة القديمة وهي معادلة عجز الأنظمة العربية الايديولوجية التكوين والخطاب عن عقد اتفاق سلام شامل مع اسرائيل.
العكس صحيح الآن، ففي الحالة السورية، وبالتوازي مع وضع عربي ينشأ فيه تقارب سياسي فعلي – إن لم يكن تحالف فعلي – بين انظمة عربية كبيرة وبين اسرائيل ضد الامتداد الاستراتيجي الايراني الذي اصبح داخل الوضع العربي بعد سقوط صدام حسين في العراق،
… في هذه الحالة السورية، اصبح السلام مع اسرائيل (على قاعدة الحد الادنى وهي الانسحاب الاسرائيلي من الجولان) ضمانة مؤكدة، لثبات النظام السوري، تعيد إدخاله في “النظام العالمي”.
حتى زمن قصير، كان الانطباع السائد في العالم العربي، بل كان الرئيس حافظ الاسد نفسه حتى آخر رمق من حياته، يعتقد ويتصرف على اساس ان صلحاً كاملاً مع اسرائيل، حتى مع عودة كاملة أو شبه كاملة للجولان الى احضان الدولة السورية، سيعني خلق وضع يفقد فيه نظامه مبرر وجوده الايديولوجي، وهو الصراع مع اسرائيل، ويصبح معرضاً للسقوط الداخلي. ولذلك ردد العديد من المحللين الاميركيين، وعن حق، ان ما كان يهم الرئيس حافظ الاسد هو مسار المفاوضات وليس وصولها الى اتفاق.
أظن انه خلال سنوات قليلة، وتحديداً منذ سقوط بغداد عام 2003، بل منذ الخروج القسري لجيشه من لبنان، يعتقد الرئيس بشار الاسد ويتصرف على اساس، ان الضمانة “النهائية” لاستمرار نظامه هي قبول “النظام العالمي” بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الاميركية عقد معاهدة سلام سورية – اسرائيلية. معاهدة لا تهدد مباشرة ابداً وغير مباشرة على المدى المنظور، وجود نظامه السياسي، عكس تماماً ما كان يعتقد والده. لا لأن والده كان على خطأ في حساباته بل لأن الزمن فعلاً تغير وغيّر معه اشياء كثيرة. فالدول الاساسية في العالم العربي لم تعد لديها مشكلة حالياً مع اسرائيل سوى تسوية تضمن قيام دولة فلسطينية في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة. واعني تحديداً هنا المملكة العربية السعودية، على اعتبار ان مصر والاردن دخلتا اصلاً وبشكل ناجح وثابت في السلام مع اسرائيل، وحولهما دول عربية في الخليج والمغرب لم تعد تنتظر لاقامة العلاقات الرسمية سوى الحل الفلسطيني.
هذا هو المتغير الاول في المناخ العربي.
أما المتغير الثاني بالنسبة لنظام مثل النظام السوري، فهو الوضع الداخلي في سوريا. فكنظام عسكري، كان حافظ الاسد، بخلاف صدام حسين قد عقد منذ العام 1970 “تسوية” مع البورجوازية التجارية الدمشقية، يضمن فيها مصالحها مقابل تسليمها له بالسلطة السياسية والامنية. بهذا المعنى نظام حافظ الاسد “طوّع” المجتمع السوري سياسياً وأقام تحالفاً مع بورجوازيته المدينية في العاصمة تحديداً. بينما نظام صدام حسين دمر المجتمع العراقي ليتمكن من الحكم. وهذا فارق جوهري. أما بشار الاسد فتابع منطق الصفقة الداخلية مع البورجوازية التجارية نفسه، بل وسّعها لتشمل البورجوازية التجارية في حلب التي لم يكن والده ليخصها بحسابات ودودة عكس علاقاته المتينة مع البورجوازية الدمشقية. (هناك كتاب مهم صادر عام 2006 في هذا السياق للباحث الفرنسي فابريس بالانش يُظهر بالارقام سيطرة البورجوازية الدمشقية والحلبية والسنية عموماً على حركة التجارة الخارجية والقطاع الخاص في سوريا وبما يبدو انه استراتيجية متعمدة للنظام السياسي الذي اكتفى بالسيطرة على الاقتصاد الخدماتي المرتبط بمرافق الدولة المباشرة).
باختصار ورغم حركة القمع التي طالت رموزاً من المثقفين اليساريين السوريين الذين سعوا الى شكل معتدل ومحصور من الممارسة الديموقراطية عبر المنتديات الليبرالية، فقد أظهرت التجربة ان القوى الاجتماعية الاساسية في المجتمع السوري ليس لديها مشروع للديموقراطية في سوريا، وان المشروع الديموقراطي لا يتجاوز طروحات نخبة محدودة من المثقفين المقيمين في سوريا وبعض الشخصيات الاسلامية الموجودة في لندن، فيما الطبقة الوسطى البيروقراطية الواسعة والتجار والصناعيون ورجال الدين التقليديون يطمحون الى نوع من التحديث الاقتصادي المفصول في وعيهم عن الديموقراطية السياسية. وهو نزوع اجتماعي عام قد لا يكون مقتصراً على سوريا. فالعديد من المجتمعات العربية لا تبدو حاملة لمشاريع “دمقرطة” ضمن النموذج الغربي، بل هي أقرب في تصوراتها الى “النموذج الصيني”.
علينا أن نضيف الى كل هذه العوامل والمتغيرات التي تمنح النظام السوري قدرة داخلية على حماية نفسه بعد الاقدام على معاهدة سلام مع اسرائيل، ان المجتمع السوري يعيش حالياً مزاجاً عميقاً من اعتبار الاستقرار السياسي والامني القائم مكسباً رئيسياً بذاته لسوريا، قياساً بما حصل في العراق بل بسبب ما حصل ويحصل في العراق. مع الاشارة هنا ايضاً الى “حس الاستقرار” الامني لدى البورجوازية السورية في التاريخ الحديث للدولة السورية كان دائماً أقوى مما هو عليه في العراق، حتى لو تعددت الانقلابات العسكرية في فترة معينة. لكن تماسك الدولة – المجتمع هو الظاهرة السائدة.
كل هذه المعطيات باتت تجعل النظام مهيأ للدخول في معاهدة سلام مع اسرائيل، خلافاً للفكرة السابقة القائلة بأنه غير قادر على تحمل تبعات هذا السلام. هذا زمن ولّى سورياً (وعربياً لو تكتمل التسوية الاسرائيلية – الفلسطينية البادئة في “أوسلو” عام 1993). فكيف اذا تأطرت هذه الصورة بالعامل الذي اصبح اكيداً وهو خوف الاقليات المسيحية داخل سوريا من صعود الاصولية الاسلامية، وهذه الاصولية تعيش اليوم جيلها الثاني “البن لادني” الاكثر تطرفاً.
***
في الحالة الفلسطينية الذي ينكشف أكثر فأكثر هو العجز الاسرائيلي عن بناء السلام مع الفلسطينيين، حتى في ظل سلطة فلسطينية صديقة للغرب في رام الله بالمعنى الحرفي للكلمة، وتحديداً للولايات المتحدة الاميركية.
لكن اذا كانت المؤسسة الامنية – السياسية الاسرائيلية عاجزة عن الدخول في سلام شامل مع الفلسطينيين، فإنها في ما يتعلق بسوريا لا تريد حتى الآن، رغم كل ما يقال، الدخول في هذا السلام، لكنها ليست عاجزة عنه، على العكس يتشكل تيار “عاقل” في اسرائيل تمنعه حالياً الادارة الاميركية في عهد الرئيس جورج بوش من الدخول حتى في مفاوضات رسمية مع سوريا…
ما هي أسس صفقة سورية – اسرائيلية ممكنة؟ من حسن الحظ (أشدد على الكلمة: من حسن الحظ) ان دولة حديثة متقدمة ديموقراطياً واقتصادياً كتركيا باتت تعتبر، من موقعها كقوة استقرار في المنطقة، ان التحضير لها (أي للتسوية السورية – الاسرائيلية) أمر ضروري لبناء نظام اقليمي جديد وسلمي وراسخ في المنطقة.
الطواقم المحيطة بالمرشحين الرئيسيين الثلاثة في الانتخابات الرئاسية الاميركية والمعنية بقضايا الشرق الاوسط، ليست بعيدة عموماً عن هذا التفكير الذي ينطلق من اعادة حوار “واقعي” سوري – اميركي اذا توفر شرطان اساسيان من وجهة نظر إدارة آتية في واشنطن:
الاول هو دور سوري ما مُقنع في الحد من التوتر العراقي والمساعدة على مخرج اميركي مُشرف (وملائم) من العراق وفي العراق.
الثاني هو ان تحمل أية تسوية ضمانات نهائية لعدم الاستخدام السوري للوضع اللبناني، سواء حيال تهديد أمن اسرائيل في الجنوب، أو تهديد الاستقلال السياسي للدولة اللبنانية.
ربما يكون المرشح الجمهوري جون ماكين الاكثر حساسية سلبية حيال الدور السوري في العراق وفي فلسطين ولكنه هو ايضاً مختلف عن الرئيس الحالي جورج بوش من حيث قابليته (أي ماكين) لفتح حوار جاد مع سوريا، الامر الذي يمتنع عنه تماماً جورج بوش. (على أي حال “برنامجا” ماكين وهيلاري كلينتون في السياسة الخارجية اللذان نشرتهما مجلة “فورين افيرز” في عدد كانون الاول 2007 لا يعطيان أي انطباع عن “تركيز” على سوريا بعكس الحضور الايراني المحوري في مجالين: النووي و”الارهاب” وهو الانطباع نفسه الذي يتولد عموماً من خطب اوباما وكلينتون وماكين خلال الحملة الانتخابية).
يعتقد جورج فريدمان، المحلل الاساسي في مؤسسة “ستراتفور” المرموقة في مجال التحليل الامني الاستراتيجي في مقال أخير له ان اتفاقاً – أو حتى تقارباً – سورياً – اسرائيلياً يصطدم في الوقت الراهن ليس فقط بمعارضة الولايات المتحدة الاميركية بل ايضاً بمعارضة ايران و”حزب الله” والفصائل الفلسطينية الاساسية.
المعارضة الراهنة التي تبديها ادارة بوش لإعادة اطلاق مفاوضات سلام سورية – اسرائيلية هي معارضة واضحة بلغت حد ان مراقباً عربياً للعقد الاول من القرن الحادي والعشرين اصبح بإمكانه القول أننا عشنا الزمن الذي لم يكن ممكناً تخيله قبل عشرين عاماً، بل حتى قبل عشرة اعوام:
ضغط اميركي على اسرائيل، لا للانخراط في مشروع سلام مع دولة عربية اساسية معادية لاسرائيل منذ تأسيسها بل ضغط اميركي على اسرائيل لمنعها من الانخراط في عملية السلام.
مرة قال لي استاذ علوم سياسية بارز في جامعة اسطنبول في معرض اعتذاره عن تلبية دعوة الى حضور مؤتمر في بيروت حول العلاقات العربية – التركية وكان ذلك عام 1993:
“أنتم العرب ستتحالفون في القرن الحادي والعشرين مع الاسرائيليين ضد الاتراك”.
… لا زال هذا الكلام خيالياً اليوم رغم نبوءة استاذ العلوم السياسية التركي الذي كان متأثراً بمصير جده الضابط في الجيش العثماني الذي قُتل على يد بعض الثوار العرب خلال تراجع هذا الجيش مهزوماً الى الاناضول امام الهجوم البريطاني المتقدم من مصر الى سوريا خلال الحرب العالمية الاولى.
تركيا هي اليوم البلد المسلم الكبير المنخرط بصورة طليعية في المشروع الغربي – الاوروبي وهي نفسها البلد الذي يتوسط بين اسرائيل وسوريا في وقت يندر فيه الوسطاء غير المسلمين فكيف ببلد مسلم بحجم تركيا؟
المتغيرات تدهمنا، صحيح ان جوهر الصراع العربي – الاسرائيلي وهو القضية الفلسطينية يبدو حتى أمد طويل صعب الحل امام المعضلات البنيوية التي تمنع اسرائيل اساساً من اتخاذ قرار التسوية النهائية، وهو ما يهدد كل شيء… الا ان معطيات عميقة في قابليات العرب لبدء حقبة جديدة مع اسرائيل أخذت فعلياً في الظهور…
بين هذه القابليات تتجه الازمة في لبنان مع تعقيداتها الداخلية والاقليمية والدولية المتمادية الى تعويم حقيقة مهمة وهي ان النظام السوري وحده في الوضع الراهن يبدو قادراً على حل مشكلة المشروع العسكري الضخم الذي يحمله “حزب الله” في جنوب لبنان. لكن هذا مرهون طبعاً بتسوية مع اسرائيل تضمن عودة الجولان (ومزارع شبعا!).
ولربما هنا وبسبب القلق العميق على المصير الذي بات ينتاب الحكم في دمشق من جراء تواصل الهجوم السياسي الاميركي عليه بعد الخروج من لبنان فإن تسوية سورية – اسرائيلية برعاية اميركية يمكن أن تحقق ما يلي:
– عودة الجولان ضمن صيغة تحفظ الكرامة الوطنية السورية.
– معاهدة سلام سورية – اسرائيلية وقيام سفارتين في البلدين.
– إنهاء سلمي للمشروع العسكري لـ”حزب الله” تقبل فيه ايران اولوية ضمان الامن الاستراتيجي لحليفها السوري وتتخلى عن استخدام جنوب لبنان في مواجهتها مع الولايات المتحدة. إنه لبنانياً التخلي عن هذا الاستخدام المرهق للطائفة الشيعية كما للطوائف اللبنانية الاخرى.
– إنهاء أي تدخل سوري في الشؤون اللبنانية على اعتبار ان معركة النظام في دمشق منذ خروجه من لبنان لم تعد العودة الى لبنان وانما الدفاع عن بقائه في دمشق نفسها، في اطار تسوية لبنانية – لبنانية تجسد صيغة توافق اقليمي وتحديداً سوري – سعودي على إطلاق يد الدولة اللبنانية. يمكن أن نسمي التوافق السوري السعودي ايضاً “انسحاباً وفاقياً” سورياً سعودياً من الصراع على لبنان.
صحيح ان فك العلاقة الايرانية – السورية امر مستحيل، لكن الممكن هو تسوية سورية – اسرائيلية تعيد ترتيب الاولويات داخل التحالف السوري – الايراني، تكون نتيجته العملية الاولى إنهاء الاستخدام الايراني العسكري لمناطق جنوب سورية، أي جنوب لبنان، واحترام الارتباطات الجديدة النوعية المختلفة للنظام السوري.
“صفقة” بهذا الحجم مع سوريا – أي السلام الشامل مع اسرائيل – هي وحدها الحل المتاح للوضعية الخطرة التي ادخلت فيها ايران “حزب الله” بعد انجازه تحرير الاراضي اللبنانية عام 2000 بسبب اعتبارات صراعها العام مع الولايات المتحدة والذي أضيف عليه طموحها النووي.
السؤال الفوري الذي يطرح هنا هو: هل يستطيع النظام السوري ان يقوم بمهمة إنهاء التسلح الصاروخي الاستراتيجي لـ”حزب الله” كقوة كوماندوس متقدمة – ردعاً أو قتالاً – في الصراع مع اسرائيل والولايات المتحدة؟
الجواب: نعم، وبالحد الادنى، اذا لم تستطع سوريا ان تقوم بهذه المهمة فلا أحد يستطيع ذلك بدون ثمن كارثي على المنطقة كلها.
***
يفترض الحديث عن آفاق المفاوضات السورية – الاسرائيلية التصدي – كما ظهر – لعدد من “الاساطير” السائدة المتعلقة بسوريا الحالية ودحضها.
نعيد هنا ترتيبها في نهاية هذا المقال:
1- اسطورة عدم قدرة النظام السوري الحالي على عقد صلح شامل مع اسرائيل خوفاً من فقدان شرعيته الوطنية، وبالتالي مبرر وجوده.
2- اسطورة رغبة النظام السوري الدائمة بالعودة الى لبنان، أي ممارسة النفوذ العسكري – السياسي المباشر. وانه مهتم بالتالي بلبنان لا بالجولان.
3- اسطورة عدم قدرته – بسبب تبعيته لايران – على انهاء التسلح الاستراتيجي الاقليمي لـ”حزب الله” في جنوب لبنان.
الاجوبة “الداحضة” لهذه الاساطير الثلاث هي التالية باختصار شديد:
1- نظام بشار الاسد بات في وضع لاسباب سورية، كما لاسباب عربية، يستطيع فيه أن يتحمل مسؤولية معاهدة كاملة للسلام مع اسرائيل تضمن صيغة مشرفة لاعادة الجولان، فمبرر وجود النظام دخل في طور مختلف عن مجرد مبرره الايديولوجي في علاقته مع المجتمع السوري.
2- بعد إخراجه القسري من لبنان، لم يعد الخيار بالنسبة للنظام السوري هو خيار بين لبنان والجولان يختار فيه واقعياً لبنان. لقد اصبح الخيار الفعلي هو بين وجوده في لبنان وبين وجود في … دمشق نفسها. فهو منذ 26 نيسان 2005 تاريخ خروج آخر جندي سوري من لبنان يواجه أزمة بقاء على قيد الحياة حيال هجوم النظام العالمي ضده. لهذا هو يعرف ان جوهر معركته هي تأكيد استمراريته في النظام الدولي والاقليمي. استمرارية لم تتهدد كما تهددت في السنوات الاخيرة.
3- مستوى عمق المصالح بين النظامين الايراني والسوري سيضع النظام الايراني امام خيار “الانسحاب الاستراتيجي العسكري” من جنوب لبنان – وبالتالي من “اقليم بلاد الشام” لصالح مكسب استراتيجي هو تكريس وجود حليفه النظام السوري في المعادلة الدولية الاساسية للمنطقة … حتى لو وجدت تيارات ايرانية معارضة لهذا الانسحاب، فلا خيار آخر لايران عندما تسلك سوريا هذا الطريق.

جهاد الزين: النهار 3/5/2008

May 4th, 2008, 8:53 am

 

offended said:

AIG blabbers:
if Israel signed a peace treaty with Syria and gave Asad international legitimacy

AIG, to what extent your shamelessness can stretch? LISTEN, your peace with Syria will only come when the land is given back (either by the mean of talk, or by the mean of war). That’s the only way for peace. The legitimacy offered by your side might suit buffoons like Abu Mazen. And oh, shall I start listing the reasons why the Assad regime (albeit a non-democratic one) is far more honorable and legitimate than your whole state’s existence and behavior for the last 60 years?

May 4th, 2008, 9:17 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Olmert is now officially and by universal consent “a lame duck.” I admit that – as hadag nachash point out in their song “rak po” – there are at any given time usually, not just one, but two, or even three ex prime ministers refusing to cooperate with police enquiries, and this number usually includes Bibi, but still:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/980252.html

I notice that this column begins with the usual lateral humor that these guys do so well:

When a supporter of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday “That’s it, it’s over,” it was not clear whether he was asking a question or stating a fact…

May 4th, 2008, 9:43 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Also, if I am correct in assuming that, by the time Obama and the Clintons have finished kneecapping each other, the electability of the Democrats in the US will be nil, and therefore that John McCain will be the next US President, then it follows that AIPAC will continue to rule the US Jewish Lobby, and therefore that Kadima will find itself out in the cold, and Tzipi Livni will wish she had never left the Likud.

What comedians they all are! Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, a member of Olmert’s coalition, called the scope of charges against Olmert “unprecedented,” and said he should suspend himself immediately. “It has been proven beyond any doubt that the prime minister can’t be under serial investigations and also lead the country,” she told Israel Radio. “Olmert is stuck up to his neck in investigations. We cannot have a prime minister who is serially investigated by police. He is plainly corrupt even without waiting for a conviction.”

May 4th, 2008, 10:20 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

This should interest you all:
http://friday-lunch-club.blogspot.com/2008/05/feltman-talks-to-mustapha.html

Saturday, May 3, 2008 : The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and Syria’s Ambassador, Imad Mustapha, met for just over two hours in Foggy Bottom (i.e. State Dept. – RB). Mustapha was “not available for comments” as he left for a flight to Damascus, hours after the meeting. The meeting in itself is important for the simple fact that it took place, since such meetings are extremely rare if not non-existent, was unusually long for a simple “you are this and we are that” session, and happened against a background of promising and/or imminently precarious regional atmospherics …

May 4th, 2008, 12:50 pm

 

wizart said:

Thanks Rowan, hopefully it will work out this time. If not he’ll just be adding more miles to any frequent flier deals he may have.

The blog filter was holding me from posting at times yesterday and now I noticed three prior posts with similar contents were released. Just wanted to point this out in case it means anything more than perhaps that I shouldn’t edit and repost what I have not been able to post previously. Probably just a technical issue because I don’t believe any of the moderators had much of a reason to censor my posts recently although it’s a free world out there and I appreciate differences of opinions from QN, AIG and others as they often stress test my ability to respond in a measured manner without sounding unnecessarily offensive to others’ opinion.

Filtering systems can be abused as anybody can understand they’re managed by human nature although like Alex said we can’t expect it to work as well as the supreme court so this is the best we have.

Probably fewer rules that could choke the system and more common sense from regular posters would serve the general interest better.

May 4th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Rowan,

Ausamaa actually posted that story earlier up the page:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=696#comment-139879

I think it is very interesting. It may be that Bush has realized that the only way his New Year’s resolution for 2008 (state for Palestinians) has a hope of coming to fruition is if he can get a little help from his friends (or enemies, in this case).

So perhaps the Americans are giving a yellow-light on Syria-Israel talks in exchange for some help with Hamas?

The Syrians are not stupid. They won’t play Bush’s short-sighted legacy game. But this meeting is significant.

May 4th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

well, anyway, since I mentioned Zacharia Sitchin, I might as well go on to say that after some googling about, I have found a large collection of his books in pdf form as bit-torrents, here:
http://www.mininova.org/search/?search=sitchin

This is the person whose ideas about the Biblical ‘Nephilim’ underly the Rael cult and so on.

If for some reason a person wanted a wacky sort of cover that would allow them to mess around in the near East, this would be an excellent one. Also, fun.

May 4th, 2008, 3:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I finally have a moment to answer you… (sorry for the delay).

I think the Israeli-Palestinian track has taken on complexities far beyond any that were experienced in the past, following the violent rift that remains unresolved between Fatah and Hamas. At the moment, it is truly difficult to say what the Palestinians would be willing to accept (specifically vis-a-vis the right-of-return issue). As at least 50% of Palestinians currently support Hamas (perhaps more), they may only accept what Hamas eventually accepts which, at the moment, none of us know. Israelis, now under Olmert, tomorrow under Netanyahu, or the next day under Livni, would not accept anything that to them would seem a substantial and immediate threat to a Jewish majority in Israel. That is, an actual, physical right-of-return granted to all refugees into Israel proper (not only Gaza and the West Bank) is not a possibility. One day, in my so-called UME-fantasy, maybe it’ll be a defacto reality, but not now. A one-state solution, also of course not (from Israel’s point of view), out of the same fears.

So we’re left with whether a negotiated compromise is possible or not. I tend to believe that it is. I read somewhere that a study was done, and a poll taken, of the Palestinian refugees living outside of Palestine. The results showed that only some 10% of all refugees were even interested in fulfilling their right-of-return (into Israel), if ever given the choice. That means about 300,000 people, and not 2.5-3 million, and that’s a huge difference. Although hard for me to imagine Israelis agreeing to such a number still, but maybe 100,000, or something gradual, over a number of years. Not sure.

But also, so much depends on the background. I.e. whether we have peace anywhere else, and what the “spirit of the moment” is like. As you know, that is precisely why I’m advocating like many here peace with Syria as soon as possible. Syria can and will help us make peace with the Palestinians. They can help build Israeli confidence in the Arab world, which will help the Palestinians. Syria, instead of kicking Mashaal out of Damascus (like they did with Abdullah Ocalan), can help broker talks with Hamas. They can help bring all the bitter enemies in the ME together to talk about peace, even Israel and Iran! That is why we must all take full advantage of the historic opportunity and Syria’s historic role in the region, unlike ever before. In so many ways, Syria IS the key (with Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran). So the answer to your question undoubtedly changes depending on whether we first have peace with Syria, or not. The options available to all of us after peace with Syria will be dramatically increased and improved. And we will all benefit from that.

The real question now, is whether Olmert can survive long enough to do anything with his recent initiative. The ongoing and most recent investigation into yet another apparent case of corruption, are eroding away the last bits of political armour that have protected him this long. He may be able to get everyone’s attention focused away from him, if he’s suddenly found shaking hands with Bashar at the Turkish palace in Istanbul. But otherwise, too slow a process of Track I talks will probably not be enough to keep him around until 2010. Chances are, therefore, that we’ll be seeing new elections in Israel, perhaps even as early as November of this year (!), or early 2009. The coming days and weeks will tell a lot, hopefully. If I was Olmert (and thank god I’m not), I’d be sending emails, SMS’s, nag-o-grams, and flowers, to Bashar, begging him to come to Jerusalem, or even a Maccabi Tel-Aviv basketball game, just to save him from the wrath of Israeli public opinion. By chance, it would also advance the cause of peace… If I was Bashar, and Maccabi Tel-Aviv wins the European Championship Final this evening (against Moscow’s CSKA), I would take him up on it… 🙂

May 4th, 2008, 3:55 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Alex,

Why dont we just call it Israel Comment and be done with it.

With all sincerity, this is just becoming really boring! Is this the point??!!

May 4th, 2008, 4:43 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I wouldn’t like to speculate on the selfish manoevring going on between Olmert, Livni, and Barak – all of whom are theoretically on the same side, but each of whom in reality is quite capable of sabotaging any deal they think either of the others may have made, or may be likely to make, with anyone at all – but I do think that Carter’s results are worth looking at – they are quite specific, and they certainly do not involve intolerably high levels of ‘return.’

May 4th, 2008, 4:43 pm

 

Alex said:

Wizart,

The rules are enforced by moderators some time after you post a comment not immediately. When a comment is not appearing when you post it, it means that the automatic spam filter removed it. That filter is not programmed with our SC rules … it is programmed to suspect comments that have many links or comments that look like they were heavily formatted (bold, Italic, lines between paragraphs …etc)

The spam filter is looking for commercial spam comments (selling viagra and online porn clubs memberships).

When your comment is not appearing after you posted it, please send me an email and I will release it (when I read my emai, within hours max)… don’t post it again. If the spam filter did not allow it the first time, it will not allow it the second time.

May 4th, 2008, 4:53 pm

 
 

Alex said:

Bondo, AIG, and everyone else still interested in discussing “jews” and “muslims”

I think yesterday, and the past few days you had enough time to know each other’s opinions. So I would appreciate it if you don’t start any conversation related to that topic for a while. Do not post any pro/against links, articles, and don’t leave any general statements about your opinion of how good/evil/violent/peaceful Jews or Muslims are.

I will remove everything you post if it relates to that topic.

There is enough news to discuss otherwise… Meeting between Feltman and Moustapha … tripling of enegy costs in Syria, increasing wages by 25% …

May 4th, 2008, 5:00 pm

 

Alex said:

Lebanese Druze leader: Expel Iranian ambassador from Beirut
By The Associated Press
Tags: Walid Jumblatt, Iran

The Lebanese Druze leader called Saturday for the expulsion of Iran’s ambassador and the ending of Iranian flights to Beirut because they might be carrying weapons and money to the militant Hezbollah group.

Walid Jumblatt, a member of the U.S.-backed parliamentary majority, also warned in a press conference from his family home of Mukhtara southeast of the capital, that he and parliament majority leader Saad Hariri could be targets of assassination.

“Iranian flights to Beirut should be stopped because Iranian planes might be bringing in money and military equipment,” said Jumblatt, a strong critic of the Iranian-backed opposition heavyweight Hezbollah. “The Iranian ambassador should be expelled from Lebanon.”
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His comments come as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa ended a three-day visit to Beirut Saturday without reaching a breakthrough in the months-old political deadlock between the government and opposition.

Lebanon is passing through its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war and the parliament has failed 18 times to elect a new president. The country’s top post has been vacant since pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud left office in November.

Jumblatt also accused Hezbollah of monitoring the traffic of politicians’ executive jets with hidden cameras at the airport, possibly to assassinate them.

“I am not afraid at all but at the same time I had to confirm the information before people walk in my funeral or walk in the funeral of Saad Hariri or others because it seems they are preparing for something,” he said.

Pro-government politicians have blamed Syria, which backs Hezbollah, for a wave of assassinations that have claimed the lives of about a dozen politicians, journalists and members of the army and police in the past three years. Syria denies the charges.

Commenting on Jumblatt’s claims about the airport, Hezbollah said in a statement that such comments “translate his nightmares and nervous tension into a media play that includes targeting people and planes in what is closer to imagination or horror movies.”

“These accusations to the resistance movements in the Arab world, including Hezbollah, makes him a propagandist who repeats George Bush’s claims and State Department reports,” the statement added.

May 4th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

Alex said:

Qifa Nabki, what do you think?

Report: Hezbollah can intercept calls in Lebanon thanks to Iran
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
Tags: Hezbollah, Lebanon

An official Lebanese government report reveals that Iran is setting up an illegal telecommunication network across Lebanon, capable of intercepting all telephone conversations in the country, the Saudi-owned daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday.

According to the report, Iran has set up this network to aid the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah.

In an interview with al-Sharq al-Awsat, Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said that the “issue of communications has been under discussion for a long time, but we were waiting for them [Hezbollah] to respond to the security authorities who requested they stop all infringements.”
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According to Hamadeh, the Lebanese cabinet is planning to discuss this Iranian network on Monday, and later bring the issue before the United Nations Security Council as well as the Arab League, al-Awsat reported.

In the interview, Hamadeh added that Hezbollah was making efforts to link all the militias in Lebanon, Syria and Iran via a vast telecommunications network.

“Their goal is not security resistance. They want to connect between all the Iranian and Syrian militias and they want to eavesdrop on everyone,” Hamadeh said.

The Iranian communications network has been completed in southern Lebanon, the Lebanon Valley, southern Beirut and several Christian areas in Mount Lebanon. Work is currently underway to complete the infrastructure in the northern Lebanon Valley.

According to the government report, the network is capable of tracking 100,000 numbers using a digital format in which each number is five digits long.

According to reports, the Hezbollah hardware can hook up to Lebanon’s main telephone network.

May 4th, 2008, 5:07 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I’m glad you didn’t ask for my opinion on those idiotic, scare-mongering pieces of nonsense, Alex. I am also glad you all show such interest in finding out what Carter actually said, and did, too.

May 4th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

Alex said:

Here is the Syria part in Rowan’s link

Syria

Communications between Israel and the United States with Syria has been minimal, and relations have been strained when not hostile. The United States and Israel view Syria as a supporter of terrorism through its cooperation with Iran and its funding and support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Furthermore, the two governments view Syria as undermining the stability of Lebanon and the selection of a President. In our conversations, the Syrian government seemed determined to change. Senior government officials pledged to complete an agreement on the Golan Heights and peace with Israel as soon as possible. The government took very seriously the recent comment by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that he understood Syrian expectations, and he thought Syria understood Israeli expectations. Since the Syrian government considers that about 85 percent of the issues have been resolved in prior negotiations, it believes the agreement should be completed soon. In Syria’s view, there has been agreement on the borders, riparian rights as they apply to the Sea of Gallilee, security zones and the presence of international forces. The United States has three options. It can oppose such talks, and that will make it impossible to achieve peace. It can play a neutral role, but that won’t be enough. Finally, the US could play a positive and constructive role, as proposed by the Syrian government, and we hope it does. On Lebanon, Syria insists that it is no longer playing a large role as it did when it had troops there, and that the key to the solution is a national dialogue in which the various parties reach a consensus. In effect, this means that on critical issues (constitutional, economic policy, security), the government should obtain the agreement of Hezbollah.

In brief, Syria has influence over four of the conflicts that we have been discussing: Syria-Israel; Israel-Palestine; Intra-Palestine; and Lebanon. A successful negotiation on each will have positive effects on the other, and conversely, failure to reach agreement on one would make it harder to solve problems tomorrow.
If there is an agreement between Israel and Palestine and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, then there is no longer any need for Syria to help Hamas; and if there is a consensus on Lebanon, there is no need to support Hezbollah. And finally, if the United States decides to support the negotiations with Israel, then US concerns with Syria’s performance will be addressed. In Syria, we raised our concerns about the people imprisoned for signing the Damascus Declaration, and President Bashar al-Assad said that there were only 7 left from the original 90 detained. He said that if they sought clemency, they would receive it. We also asked him about Guy Hever, the young Israeli soldier who has been missing since August 1997, and he said they had no evidence of his whereabouts. We asked about Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were captured by Hezbollah at the beginning of the war. The Syrian government has no information on them.

May 4th, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Rowan,

There is a tendency amongst politicians, in the Middle East as probably elsewhere, to dismiss initiatives by ex-statesmen that seem to be quite specific and encompass most of the tough issues at hand. Olmert, Barak, and even Livni, are too damn proud to (god forbid) condone any achievement by the aging Carter. His suggestion of an Israeli “Apartheid” was too much for their weak egos, and they couldn’t even make time for a meeting (busy schedules) with the man that brought the first peace treaty between Arabs and Israelis, and a Nobel Peace prize winner. Rumors have it, that Barak actually did want to meet him, but (get this) the AMERICANS, probably via Condi Rice, politely asked him NOT to meet Carter… So, chances any of his initiatives will be accepted or adopted by current Israeli leaders is… NIL. Future leaders, who knows.

May 4th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

abraham said:

Bondo said (erroneously):

we here and elsewhere, and i know the reason, hide ‘jews’ behind ‘zionism’.

Please don’t make such reckless statements. When I say “zionist” I am speaking specifically of those that believe Jews have a right to Palesstine before the indigenous Arab population, which I wholly reject. I realize this emcompasses a broad swath of Jews, both those who hate Arabs and those who want peace, but peace and zionism are mutually exclusive as far as I’m concerned. They may have good intentions, but they are still squatting on stolen Palestinian land. However, don’t overlook the fact that the label “zionism” also applies to many non-Jews, even some Arabs (like Fouad Ajami and other sell-outs like him). There are also the so-called “Christian zionists” who only embrace Jews as far as they need in order to get Jesus to come back, strip naked, and then fly up to heaven (and they make fun of Muslims with the “72 virgins in paradise” crap).

So no, I reject your statement that “we” use the term “zionist” when we really mean “Jew”. That might be your usage, but it is not mine. A Jew is a member of a religious faith. A zionist is someone who believes they have a right to someone else’s land based on unsubstantiable claims from two millennia previous.

I’ll speak for myself, you speak for yourself.

May 4th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

Alex said:

To me, one of the more significant statements in the above summary was

“A successful negotiation on each will have positive effects on the other”

Which implies that this is the way peace between Syria and Israel is perceived in Syria … the challenge would be to translate that position to something more tangible than few words in the final agreement. Even Camp David had a couple of paragraphs about the next steps that were supposedly going to address the situation of the Palestinians … that was 1978, and we still did not see a solution coming out of those words in the Camp David agreement.

An agreement with Syria will need to do better that simply matching the superficial attention that the Camp David negotiators paid to the Palestinian issue.

May 4th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

thank you for your thoughts,
I would be worry if i were you about the right of return for the Palestinians , My mother being one of them , does not want to return to Nazareth even though she still has family there,
I think the Palestinians will accept either compensation similar to the compensation that Germany paid Israel for the horror of the Holocaust these compensation could be paid to the states that will naturalise the Palestinians , another option is to open immigration to the Palestinians to Canada, Australia ,south America and the US , I think many would prefer to immigrate than go back to the unknown ,Israel can help by offering scholarships and economic cooperation with the Palestinians , If Israel can make the Palestinians care more about what they have as individuals than what they have collectively as people then they will be happy and there will be more to lose with continued violence ,

The question for me is how much Israel is willing to leave the land that it occupied in 1967 war as to me that is the essential question. If Israel is willing to do that then the solution should be easy ,

withdrawal to 1967 border the Palestinians will give up their right of return for settlements and economic aid directly and indirectly to the countries that are willing to take them .

The Arabs will declare that the Jews ( Hebrews ) are essential part of the Mideast and they have the right to return to ancestor land that they left in the first century AD .

I agree with you That the deal should be made with Syria and should include the Palestinians , Lebanon and Iran , I think that Syria can make the complete deal that will make Israel safe and prosper.

May 4th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

sorry, I guess I just need some sleep. I have been suffering from continuous insomnia for the last week or so, and tend to average about two hours sleep a night. I feel as if someone or something is calling to me, 24/7, from the computer. usually, when I get up and switch it on, at 2 a.m. or whatever, there is nothing new except the usual light drizzle of false news and a saddeningly low hit count on my blog, considering how much work I put into the damn thing. oh, well.

Funny about Sitchin : it isn’t just a matter of “cover” (though Sitchin himself is sometimes reported as having connections in the psywar field). It’s more a sudden craving for extra-terrestrial ‘fresh air,’ so to speak. It hit me when Shai put forward the idea that a new diaspora, so to speak, into the cosmos, might be necessary to relieve mankind of his nausea with himself. That, at least, is how I interpreted these remarks by him:

This is why Stephen Hawking suggests that if there are other species out there in the universe, they are most likely not as intelligent as us. The logic being that if they were as intelligent, or more, they would have already destroyed themselves, as seems to be our own human tendency… He is not completely pessimistic, however. He suggests the human race must explore space, and search for ways to leave earth and colonize elsewhere as well. Only by splitting us up, could humans possibly survive well into the future, he believes…

Simo, the stuff about the Talmud you pasted in is very low-level and very, very familiar, even the mis-transliterations are painfully familiar to me. When you do that, you really feed the hate, you know. Still, Alex has already addressed this.

One nice thing, though: I notice from my blog stats that someone somewhere, probably at Salon.com, has publicly reposted the link to my complete collection of Kansas O’Flaherty URLs!

May 4th, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

On that issue, I am less optimistic. It would seem that the current Israeli leadership (Olmert/Barak/Livni), if they will be the ones to negotiate with Syria, will opt not to tie the two issues together too much. After all, they’re talking about restarting negotiations with Syria because they see how the Palestinian track is stuck in place. They’re not going to commit to anything specific (at best, only general) in an agreement with Syria. And chances are, that Bashar will not be able to demand too much on this realm, because he’ll already be refusing Israel’s (foolish) demands of Syria to dismember its alliances with HA/Hamas/Iran. He’ll have to “compromise” on something, and the Palestinians will be it (like with Sadat). The nature of the negotiations will be such, that to finally strike that deal, which will give Syria the Golan back, Syria will have to ease its natural demands vis-a-vis the Palestinian issue. Of course, PR-wise, they’ll try to sell it as if they’ve secured real commitments from Israel (and Israel probably won’t deny), but in reality, it probably won’t be the case.

But that’s regarding the actual agreement signed. Having said this, I do believe that the Syrians can convince their Israeli counterparts that they can be of real help when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (especially with regards to talking with Hamas). Chances are that the Palestinian issue will be dealt with following an agreement with Syria (unlike with Egypt in 1978), because first we’re currently fighting with the Palestinians, so there’s real pressure on the ground, and second, because Syria will be involved, and we already know what the Arab world has suggested in regards to the 3-yes’s. I think that’s the more realistic scenario, unfortunately, regarding an actual agreement with Syria. Not much beyond this “superficial attention” should be expected. But I am still optimistic about what will occur afterwards.

May 4th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Very good points. As to how much land (back to the 1967 lines) Israel is willing to give up on, of course that depends on when we ask the question. Today, most Israelis aren’t willing to give up on the West Bank, period. They distrust the Arabs, and aren’t willing to “take a chance” by handing the entire West Bank to Fatah or Hamas, like they did with Gaza. I believe things will be considerably different if we ask this question in a year from now, or after signing an agreement with Syria. We need to bring back the confidence and hope Israelis had in the future, during Rabin’s days. Then, like Sharon concluded in the past couple of years, Israelis will once again be willing to finally do away with the West Bank. I believe that most of it will be returned, and if there are various “pockets” (large towns like Ariel) that will be allowed to remain Israeli, then a corresponding area of land must be given elsewhere (within the so-called “green line”). I don’t think there’s a disagreement over the amount of land, only where the border would pass. Even in Arafat’s days, I believe Peres, Netanyahu, and Barak, came to agreement with him about the percentage of the West Bank (something like 96% I believe).

This is another reason why I probably prefer Bibi back in power, because he hasn’t forgotten the things he agreed upon with Arafat. This time around, he’ll be more flexible (not less, like many think), not because Hamas is his friend, but because Hamas is his enemy, and a powerful one. He doesn’t want to fail this time around and he’ll find, with the help of the U.S., or Syria, or whoever, the “winning formula”. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but I’m still willing to bet he’s a better option than anyone on the Left or Center. Still, let’s give the Olmert-coalition a chance these next couple of weeks/months. If the current and ongoing police investigations don’t distract him away, hopefully peace will.

May 4th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Rowan,

Hawking’s suggestion is, unfortunately, a few decades or centuries away from us… In the meantime, it would have been fantastic, if every leader in the Middle East would be required to go up to the International Space Station, spend a week observing the Earth, and notice that from space, we all seem to share the same, single planet. This could help convince our leaders, that wars and land are not the way into the future, but rather the path to the past. Some perspective is urgently needed in our region, and sadly, none seems to be forthcoming…

May 4th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

norman said:

The news on Aljazeera that Olmert would be forced to resign, Is taht true?.

May 4th, 2008, 6:47 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman, nothing is clear right now. On the one hand, Olmert has been dodging investigations with corruption allegations perhaps better than anyone. Rumors say that this particular “new” investigation (there are currently three going on against him…) is a particularly bad one. But who knows… Only time will tell. At least most of us enjoy the freedom we have in being able to try to bring our corrupt politicians to justice. Though, much too often, they get away with it. Notice our ex-President may well have to face trial (and not get his original super-soft plea bargain), over very serious charges, including and quite possibly rape. Not to mention Sharon’s own son (!) who is currently in jail, Benizri from Shas who’s on his way to jail, our ex-Finance Minister who’ll have charges brought up against him of embezzling millions, money laundering, etc. It’s almost easier to count the politicians that have no investigations going on against them, than the ones that do…

May 4th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai

It does not have to be within the agreement with Syria, but if there is no serious progress with the Palestinians within the next two years, the Syrians will not be comfortable signing their own agreement.

Israel will have to decide: it is willing to give back the Palestinians their west bank or not.

That’s my personal opinion. Today is not 1978 … they had no blogs and no aljazeera and Al-Arabiyah in 1978. Today, if it is “superficial” then everyone will know it is superficial … and the Syrians will be called traitors …

Here is the editor of Saudi Arabia’s main newspaper doing his weekly “let’s ridicule Syria if it starts to be flexible”:

“Where are those who once preoccupied us with resistance and accused the moderates of treachery today?”

May 4th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

What do you think of some affiliation of the Palestinian state with Syria in peace with Israel , and what do you think of a two states Israel and Palestine with no defined borders but like the US , each city will govern itself with a Mayer and a city consul,
I do not know if that will work as it might lead to one country which probably the Israelis are not ready to accept as they will not consider it as a safe haven in case of another holocaust .

May 4th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I completely understand you. But, there’s logic and 21st century blogs and Saudi papers, and there’s Real Politique… If the Syria track moves along faster than the Palestinian one, I don’t see Israeli or Syrian negotiators stopping the process because of the Palestinians. Incidentally, it really is not helping, to have Abu Mazen himself say out loud that from his point of view, Israel can go on and make peace with Syria…

May 4th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

With all these corrupt politicians , how come that the legal system is not corrupt to the point of hiding these corruption charges?.

May 4th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman, see my comments to Alex about linking the Palestinian issue to the Syrian one. As you said, a defacto one-state solution is not a possibility right now.

May 4th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Shai said:

You see… thank god at least we have that… for now.

May 4th, 2008, 7:10 pm

 

norman said:

Shai, Alex ,

Look at this , what Rice is saying explain th elack of progress between Syria nd Isreal and makes sence to wait untill the present US adminstration departs,
Rice links Israel-Syria peace push to Lebanon -paper
Sun May 4, 2008 2:56pm IST
DUBAI (Reuters) – The United States would support a Turkish-brokered Syrian-Israeli peace drive but wants to see Damascus change its policy on Lebanon, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in remarks published on Sunday.

“We do not wish to stand in the way of any attempt to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbours including Syria,” Rice told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks translated into Arabic.

“If the two sides wished to exert an effort for peace the United States would give its blessing and back these efforts. The problem is that Syria is yet to show a desire for Middle East peace especially vis-a-vis Lebanon,” she added.

Syria says it received word from Turkey that Israel was willing to give back the occupied Golan Heights in full in return for peace with the Arab state — one of the main issues that led decade-long negotiations to falter in 2000.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said Syria was ready to negotiate with Israel through Turkey to “find common ground” for peace, but any direct talks must wait until a new U.S. president is elected.

U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration has been cool to renewing Israeli-Syrian negotiations, which collapsed in 2000 without resolving the fate of the Golan Heights, Syrian and Israeli officials say.

Washington accuses Syria of meddling in Lebanon, where Damascus had the final say in politics for almost three decades until 2005 when it ended 29 years of military presence following the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

“What should not happen is that we talk to Syria about peace ignoring Lebanon,” Rice said. “The Syrians should demarcate their border with Lebanon … and send an ambassador to Lebanon and stop dealing with it as a Syrian district.”

Rice also said that talking about peace with the Syrians should not eclipse a U.S. drive to push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Rice also made a swipe at Iran, an ally of Syria, which it also accuses of meddling in Beirut’s politics through guerrilla group Hizbollah. “Iran is behind all problems in the region.”

Syrian-Israeli talks collapsed in 2000 over the scope of an Israeli pullout from the Golan Heights, occupied since 1967.

May 4th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

I don’t think anything Rice says is worth quoting. She makes word salads. And, again, Norman, you are leaving all the bumf in at the end, why not remove it, it’s very easy, and it is good evidence that you concentrate on the content. What I do on my own blog is, first of all, post the body of the story, then start editing it down in situ, which you can also do here, because, unlike in most interactive threads, you are allowed to edit for up to 30 minutes.

increasingly, on my blog, I am marking things as “boiled down from …” and then I give the source URL, author and site, in link form. It’s excellent discipline, a sort of self-teaching equivalent to what sub-editors on newspapers do, and the web makes it so easy, I am getting very fast at doing it. The hardest thing is to resist the temptation to re-spin, rather than un-spin, the stories.

May 4th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman, the current administration has been particularly apt these past 8 years at moving our region only backwards in time, not forward. Even good honest Republicans in the U.S. are sick and tired of the Bush-Cheney-Rice “superstar” team.

May 4th, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

Friend in America said:

In case anyone missed it, the following is the US government’s formal explanation of why the information on the nuclear strike was released about 2 weeks ago (GSN is Global Security Network).
There are some on this blog who assert anything expressed by the administration in Washington is stupid, perverse and bumbling. Others will see Condellesa’s hand. I submit this explanation shows a deep awareness of the volatility in the ME and a sincere concern for peace.

Disclosure on Syria Intended to Pressure North Korea, Bush Says

Last week’s public disclosure of an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor by U.S. intelligence services was timed to encourage North Korea to fully disclose its past atomic activities, U.S. President George W. Bush said yesterday (see GSN, April 29).

In briefings to U.S. lawmakers and reporters, top U.S. intelligence officials displayed evidence that Syria was building a nuclear reactor near the desert town of al-Kibar before Israel destroyed the facility with a September air strike. The officials said they believed North Korea had contributed heavily to the project which they described as part of nuclear-weapon program.

The United States first received the evidence about one year ago, but only disclosed it publicly last week, although Bush said 22 select U.S. lawmakers were briefed in October following the Israeli attack.

“We were concerned that an early disclosure would increase the risk of a confrontation in the Middle East or retaliation in the Middle East,” Bush said in a press conference yesterday. When “we felt the risk of retaliation or, you know, confrontation in the Middle East was reduced,” the administration elected to release the information more widely, Bush said.

“We also wanted to advance certain policy objectives through the disclosures, and one would be to the North Koreans, to make it abundantly clear that we may know more about you than you think, and therefore it’s essential that you have a complete disclosure on not only your plutonium activities, but proliferation as well as [uranium] enrichment activities,” Bush said. As part of a six-nation deal, Pyongyang has agreed to declare all of its nuclear activities, but U.S. officials have complained that North Korea has withheld information (see related GSN story, today).

“And then we have an interest in sending a message to Iran, and the world for that matter, about just how destabilizing a nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East, and that it’s essential that we work together to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at getting Iran to stop their enrichment programs,” Bush added.

“In other words, one of the things that this example shows is that these programs can exist and people don’t know about them,” he said, describing Syria as having “a hidden program” (Federal News Service transcript, April 29).

May 4th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I don’t know what to think about the story you posted.

It’s obviously a major problem. But we have many major problems, so people are not wrong in asking why we are focusing on Hizbullah. On the other hand, Hizbullah has taken the state-within-a-state mentality to a whole new level.

I actually think this particular story is more significant than the one about the airport monitoring. As Charles Malik wrote recently on his blog, everybody is monitoring the airport:

Beirut International Airport Possible Attack

The Beirut airport, currently the Rafiq Hariri International Airport, is being targetted for attack by Hezbollah, according to Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.

I have no idea why he is publicizing this now. The countries supplying Unifil with troops and support all know that Hezbollah has its own monitoring system of the airport. Every American pilot who landed at the Beirut airport knew the exact vacant apartment from which Hezbollah radar stations tracked their approach to the airport. The technology to track aircraft is simple and easy to purchase on the legal market (let alone what you can get on the black market).

Hezbollah has outposts in Ouzai that monitor incoming aircraft. They can easily shift the location of their tracking devices, but most NATO military aircraft (ie, Unifil planes, US military planes supplying ammunitions for Nahr al Bared, and even Amro Moussa’s private government sponsored aircraft) have the ability to track those who track them.

Check out the specs they are offering on private jets. You can definitely get a radar tracking system in your next GulfStream, Lear Jet, or personal Boeing or Airbus. I’m sure Saad Hariri, Issam Fares, and Najib Miqati have them.

In Beirut, you don’t even need radar to track aircraft. From any tall building, the naked eye is a decent instrument to use to track incoming aircraft into the airport. Much more can be done the higher up in the mountains one goes. Any radical with a surface to air missile can set up base on the Rmleit al Bayda beach, or any seaside tall building, and take potshots at incoming planes. Send a monitor to Cyprus, infiltrate Cypriot government monitoring systems, or install your own system in the generally ungoverned Turkish Cypriot area and you’ll have even better equipment with which to monitor aircraft in the Eastern Mediterranean.

One doesn’t even need a missile to take down aircraft flying into Beirut. The Serbs took down a US F-117 Nighthawk stealth plane with normal technology in 1999. Military analysts at the time claimed automatic weapons fired in the right direction might have contributed to taking down the aircraft; thus sophisticated missile weaponry was not needed.

The Israelis know this and use countermeasures. During the 2006 war, I do not recall that Israeli aircraft – planes and helicopters – were shot down, despite lots of random gunfire and anti-aircraft weaponry pointed in their direction. During that war, it was visible to the naked eye in Beirut that Israeli helicopters flew up the coast and attacked Dahieh without meaningful retaliation.

If Hezbollah or others decide to attack international aircraft, that is a tremendous escalation. However, the risk is always there.

Why publicize it, now? Is a March 14 politician or foreign personality being targetted? Does Jumblatt want the government to take further action against Hezbollah prior to the presidential dialogues? Perhaps he just wants everyone to be mindful that they are taking risks whenever they fly in and out of the country?

May 4th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 
 

abraham said:

All this happy talk about potential peace negotiations between Israel and Syria are just too optimistic. Where have you all been living for the past 30-40 years? The same patterns repeat, just with different faces and different names.

Olmert will probably not resign, nor will he be forced to resign. He’s already been through this and survived repeated attempts to unseat him, as happened with Sharon, Barak, etc. The problem with the Israelis is the same problem we have in the US: these people are too powerful, our politicians are all of one party really, which is the I’ll-Save-Your-Ass-If-You-Save-Mine, and besides, the citizens are too cowardly to take a drastic step of forcing change. We’d rather, it seems, wait these people out and hope for better after the next election, which is idiotic since every election brings a worse idiot.

These politicians are only serving themselves. They could care less about the people they are supposed to be leading or representing. No person spends literally billions of dollars to get into public office unless they were expected to recover that money if/once they got elected. I don’t care who you are. In the end, no one will be held accountable for their crimes. Bush will likely get away with his genocide, and will probably unfortunately live a long life sucking at the teat of American tax payer dollars like a parasite, which is to say continue what he’s been doing his whole life. The same goes for all these criminals in office around the world in different governments. It’s the same everywhere. The rich get richer, the people get shafted. It’s a con game of global proportions.

There will be no peace in the Middle East, yet. There is no peace negotiation between Syria and Israel that is meaningful in any way. It is simply a gambit to buy time for the various players involved, whether Olmert to save his political ass, or the US to put its pieces in place for the coming attack against Iran-Syria-HA.

And even if there is peace between Syria and Israel, what about the Palestinians? Are we to see a repeat of the Camp David Accords, where the Israelis were supposed to do A-B-C-D-E-F, but only got to maybe B before they figured they’d done enough? They never performed their side of the bargain, so why should we believe anything will change here? In the meantime, we’ve had Oslo, another example where Israel was supposed to do A-B-C-D-E-F but they never event got to A in this case. The settlements not only didn’t go away, they grew!

The settlements, the settlements! It is always the settlements. Israel says blah blah blah but then they build more settlements. If Israel was ever sincere, one wouldn’t know it by the settlements. As long as the settlements remain, Israel can never be trusted to fulfill the first letter of the first clause of the first paragraph of any treaty. It will all be a lie to just push the ball down the field for another day. Settlements = Lies.

So what’s the point? Why are you people so hopeful? What is there to be hopeful about? NOTHING. You are fooling yourselves. Again.

The only peace will happen when either Israel is obliterated, or when Israel finally concedes its dream for the impossible “Jewish state” and agrees to one state for all people. There is no other way. None. You can hope and pray and pretend and close your eyes and cover your ears and yell BALALALALALALA! all you want, but it will change nothing. These are the only two options: A or B. Pick one.

With regards to the Palestinians (the only victims here) those who want to return to Palestine to reclaim their home should be allowed to. Those who want to stay put where they are should be compensated with the current day value of the land plus interest over 60 years for their pain and suffering. This money should come from Israel, it should come from the US, and it should come from any nation that supported Israel and therefore deprived the Palestinians of their lives. And it should be paid directly to each and every Palestinian, otherwise the State in which they currently reside will simply siphon the money for their own selfish and useless purposes. Finally, no one Palestinian should decide what any other Palestinian should accept. Each is entitled to their own compensation.

And once we’ve attained justice for the Palestinians, we then need to address the reparations for the Lebanese for all the pain they’ve suffered, and then the Iraqis. America and Israel have a lot of penance to perform, a hundred years worth. I suggest they get started now.

May 4th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

This I don’t get. The average salary of a government employee in Syria is $175 per month. That is about $6 per day. If the average family in Syria is 4 people then each person in this family is living on $1.5 per day. That is considered extreme poverty. What am I missing here?

May 4th, 2008, 8:47 pm

 

abraham said:

QN, why are you listening to anything that Jumblatt says? Jumblatt makes a lot of predictions but they rarely, if ever, come to pass. He and Condoleeza Rice should tour together as a comedy troupe. At least then the jokes that constantly spew out of their mouths will be within the proper context. (They’ll still get bad reviews from their audience however.)

May 4th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
We will consider your generous proposal and get back to you in 20 years. We understand that in the meantime you will try to obliterate us per your option 1. You have every right to try but please don’t complain about the results.

May 4th, 2008, 8:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

By the way Abraham, you have a strong sense of irony. First you call me paranoid and then you threaten to obliterate me.

May 4th, 2008, 9:04 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Abraham,

Would you care to give any practical suggestions on how the Palestinians and those who support them could either obliterate Israel or convice it to give up its Jewish identity, or are you simply waiting for a divine intervention to bring justice to this world?

May 4th, 2008, 9:17 pm

 

abraham said:

We will consider your generous proposal and get back to you in 20 years.

Sorry, you have less than 17. You’d better speed up your decision making.

May 4th, 2008, 9:18 pm

 

abraham said:

Seeking, I am not waiting for anything but the natural death of Israel. There is no god or God or any imaginary man in the sky. The Israelis are seemingly incapable of coming to grips with their own failings and will continue hurtling blindly down the road towards doom at top speed.

When I say Israel will be obliterated it is not likely to happen from any external threat but will come from within. This is the natural course these things normally follow. Anyone who is a student of history knows this. I often say Israel will be gone by 2025. This is not a promise, and not a threat. This is something that is in the hands of the Israelis. I just happen to give them until 2025 to either figure it out or become extinct, and I happen to be betting on extinction.

May 4th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
We will gladly take the bet. History has shown that modern, democratic states with advanced economies are much more resilient than third world dictatorships.

May 4th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

AIG hello. Your night shift has obviously again begun. If you really live in Israel you must suffer from severe insomnia or somebody pays you for these political, sociological and religious wisedoms you so generously generate for us. Could we call you Mossad’s night patrol man? 🙂

AIG you and those IG’s like you are the real secret weapon of Palestinians. Worth more than a division of armed fighters. After reading such racist, arrogant propaganda as yours most intelligent readers see the real nature of Israel. When this Israeli / Palestinian madness some day ends, and it will end, the Palestinian government that time should reward you and your buddies with the just formed country’s relative high honours. A medal or honour citizenship?

AIG keep doing your good work.

May 4th, 2008, 9:44 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
No, the readers learn about Israel from your informative but racist posts and by you linking to Israeli papers they can read anyway. I really should thank you Sim for living proof for readers of this blog that antisemitism is still alive and well in Europe even in such an enlightened and modern country such as Finland. You go out of your way to prove that the Jews dearly need a country of their own.

May 4th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG, SIMO and Abraham,

No more rating each other please.

Qifa Nabki,

It seems that the typical spokesmen of the M14 group want to take it to the security council. They want the security council to protect them again of Hizbollah … the most popular organization representing 35% of the Lebanese people … is there really any hope for Lebanon as one country?

Hizbollah, theoretically, obviously has no right monitoring the airport or listening to phone conversations .. but given that the M14 group and their American (and probably Israeli) friends already have full access to this info … and given that they are constantly plotting to weaken or destroy Hizbollah … I don’t think there is a right or wrong anymore.

After Junblatt’s escalation (shedding light on this old story … NOW), I repeat my prediction … if they (neocons and friends and allies) are planning to escalate beyond the useless tactics they used in the past 7 years … they are heading towards more failures … then they will have to decide … to simply drop it, or to burn the whole area.

look at the last 5 ideas they had:

1) Rami Makhloud sanctions
2) Presidential directive to scare anyone who works against the Seniora government (last summer)… Aoun became technically an enemy of hte United States.
3) sending US destroyer and two support ships near Lebanon and Syria
4) Syria/North Korea nuclear cooperation
5) and now .. tell the whole world that Hizbollah is monitoring the airport to shoot down civilian flights.

So … at this rate, they will generate 5 more of these within the next few months.

Then what??

May 4th, 2008, 10:30 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG: please clarify, which Semites are you accusing Simo of being against? Arabs or the European/Israeli Jew variety?

Look, as far as Israel’s impending demise, it’s not my doing. I may reject religion, but I don’t necessarily reject the religious texts, which I see as containing ancient wisdom more than anything else. Take the New Testament, Galations, in particular 6:7:

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

That’s just an ancient pearl of wisdom. And it has always held, back to ancient times. Even the Quran notes the same truth, in Sura 2:286 (The Cow):

On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.

Surely the Talmud has a verse similar.

So, why is this any surprise to anyone? You truly do reap what you sow. If you want to reap survival, you had better start sowing it. And not the one you’ve been planting up until now, but the only one that will grow in the future.

May 4th, 2008, 11:06 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

It’s not clear what’s going on. Mistakes are being made on both sides. The people I speak to on a consistent basis in Beirut (parents, family members, etc.) are generally fed up with both the government and the opposition. They may favor one over the other, but they are mostly just sick and tired of the situation.

We don’t have the right leadership.

May 4th, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

abraham said:

QN:

Certainly, any leadership that would invite America into the party at this point is the wrong leadership. Maybe another US administration, which will (hopefully) act more responsibly towards the situation and not try to insert itself as the hegemon, but not this one.

March 14 is selling out its soul and its country to the US in exchange for the rights to the criminal racket in Lebanon. Effectively.

May 4th, 2008, 11:48 pm

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

don’t call us bloodsuckers, call us philanthropists (yawn):

Prominent California reverend and black activist Eric Lee has apologized for anti-Semitic comments he said last month at a Los Angeles event commemorating the assassination of Martin Luther King. The Los Angeles Times on Friday reported a “reconciliation” meeting between the Pastor and Daphna Ziman – an Israeli-American philanthropist and the recipient of this year’s Tom Bradley Award for community service, for whose honor Lee made the keynote speech at an award ceremony in Los Angeles. During his speech, Lee, the local president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights group, is reported to have suddenly launched an anti-Semitic rant, stating that Jews have made money on blacks in the music business. Ziman is said to have been deeply offended by the reverend’s comments, and later circulated an email amongst her acquaintances quoting him saying that the Jews “are economically enslaving us,” which sparked major tensions between the Jewish and African American communities….

with added ‘we like to grovel to you, really’ bonus:

Obama said of Wright that “he did not share my fundamental belief and my fundamental values, in terms of bringing the country together and moving forward, and the pride that I’ve got for this country.”

we’re so goddam hip:

There is unlikely to be any progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks until the political uncertainty created by the latest investigation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is cleared up, senior government officials said Sunday after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. “Their head is not into it right now,” one official said of Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who would take over from Olmert if he had to temporarily step down. “They have no patience for this right now.”

Israel to delay visit of Egyptian official over Shalit : State officials in Jerusalem confirm planned arrival of Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, in days leading up to Independence festivities less than desirable. In other words, you aren’t wanted.

May 5th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

Who Put “Deep Throat” up as Olmert’s Nemesis? (extracts)
DEBKAfile Special Analysis, May 3, 2008

A mysterious stranger from America laid fresh information before the Israeli police last week, initiating Corruption Investigation No. 5 against Ehud Olmert. All five pre-date his two years as Israeli prime minister, and none have so far produced an indictment. But this time, the Attorney General ordered the police to question the prime minister urgently within 48 hours regarding “a grave criminal offense.” Olmert was quizzed under caution at his residence Friday, May 2, on charges shrouded by a court gag order. What brought the unnamed accuser from America to the door of the Israeli police at this time? According to an Israeli paper (??- RB), he laid before police investigators strong evidence of a new and grave corruption charge against prime minister Ehud Olmert, the fifth case opened against him thus far, all predating his two-year term as prime minister.

In the view of DEBKAfile’s political sources, Olmert’s anonymous accuser was put up to opening his can of worms by a party seeking to cloud Israel’s forthcoming sixtieth anniversary celebrations, to which a glittering gallery of invited foreign guests, led by US president George W. Bush, is invited. That party, whether domestic or foreign, wants to get rid of Ehud Olmert. The step may connect with the battle Israel has fought to debunk the National Intelligence Estimate in which 16 US agencies concluded that Iran gave up nuclear weapons development in 2003. The NIE’s purpose was to hold President Bush back from exercising America’s military option against Iran before he leaves the White House. Israel’s strenuous battle to devalue the estimate put that option back on the table in March. Olmert may have trodden on the toes of powerful American interests. The anonymous informer against the prime minister turned up a few days after disclosures about Syria’s shattered North Korean reactor, which were clearly coordinated by the White House and the Israeli government.

Add to this the impatience in parts of the US administration with Olmert’s foot-dragging on his promised breakthrough in peace talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas by the end of 2008. Saturday night, May 3, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice started her fifteenth visit in two years to Jerusalem and Ramallah, with little hope of progress. Impatience on another score was demonstrated by transport minister Shaul Mofaz, former chief of staff and defense minister. After leading Israel’s strategic talks with US officials in Washington, he issued two dire warnings. One was that Iran may attain command of uranium technology before the end of the year, which means the ability to produce nuclear bombs by next March or April. This warning carries a critical time frame for an American or Israel military attack: June, July or August, 2008. The window of action is then narrowed by the fall and approaching winter. After that it will be too late.

In another speech, Mofaz warned that the Olmert-Livni talks with Palestinian leaders will inevitably force Israel to strip itself of its most vital strategic national assets. No PM has lasted long when they came close to giving up vital security assets. Shimon Peres survived for a year in 1996 after his move to continue the concessions made under the Oslo Framework Accords ; Ehud Barak was toppled in 2000 as head of government and defense minister when he sought an accommodation with Yasser Arafat ; Olmert is said to be on the point of giving up parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians and, according to a message carried by Turkish go-betweens to the Syrian ruler, offering to hand over the Golan as well. The American whistleblower may have been sent, not just as Olmert’s private nemesis, but to cut short his “peace talks,” before he and foreign minister Tzipi Livni give too much away, and also as a wake-up call for action against Iran and its proxies, Hamas and Hizballah.

May 5th, 2008, 12:44 am

 

Rowan Berkeley said:

It has been suggested that ‘US interests’ may be behind the latest accusations against Olmert, and may aim to replace his government with a Netanyahu-Lieberman-Eitam-Gaydamak coalition, but I think that, to the extent that the US government has any influence over Israeli outcomes, this would be one they would wish to avoid—although, now that I am accustomed to the pretzel logic of Israeli political propaganda, it doesn’t surprise me to see certain quarters claiming exactly the opposite. Sometimes. the ambiguity lies between ‘US interests’ in the sense of the US government, and ‘US interests’ in the sense of extreme right-wing US Jewish factions.

May 5th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

Mark said:

A Syrian-Israeli peace agreement would impact heavily on every major issue in the vicinity, because Syria has strategic and tactical relations with every nearby major player and country.

September 14th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

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