Asma al-Asad on Gaza: Obama's Dream Team - Syria Comment

Asma al-Asad on Gaza: Obama’s Dream Team

Syria’s first lady on Gaza – watch it on Youtube
CNN’s Cal Perry speaks to Syria’s first lady about suffering in Gaza.
Sunday, January 11, 2009

NEW YORK: The Obama team is tight with information, but I’ve got the scoop on the senior advisers he’s gathered to push a new Middle East policy as the Gaza war rages: Shibley Telhami, Vali Nasr, Fawaz Gerges, Fouad Moughrabi and James Zogby.

This group of distinguished Arab-American and Iranian-American scholars, with wide regional experience, is intended to signal a U.S. willingness to think anew about the Middle East, with greater cultural sensitivity to both sides, and a keen eye on whether uncritical support for Israel has been helpful.

O.K., forget the above, I’ve let my imagination run away with me. Barack Obama has no plans for this line-up on the Israeli-Palestinian problem and Iran.

In fact, the people likely to play significant roles on the Middle East in the Obama administration read rather differently.

They include Dennis Ross (the veteran Clinton administration Mideast peace envoy who may now extend his brief to Iran); Jim Steinberg (as deputy secretary of state); Dan Kurtzer (the former U.S. ambassador to Israel); Dan Shapiro (a longtime aide to Obama); and Martin Indyk (another former ambassador to Israel who is close to the incoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.)

Now, I have nothing against smart, driven, liberal, Jewish (or half-Jewish) males; I’ve looked in the mirror. I know or have talked to all these guys, except Shapiro. They’re knowledgeable, broad-minded and determined. Still, on the diversity front they fall short. On the change-you-can-believe-in front, they also leave something to be desired….

Jim Lobe: “Ross Super-Envoy Post May Not be Done Deal”

Former Amb. Martin Indyk vs. Author Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel’s Assault on Gaza and the US Role in the Conflict: Listen to or read the debate moderated by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now TV and Radio here.

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb in her article, “Will Hizballah intervene in the Gaza conflict?” argues that Hizbullah may well attack Israel if it believes Hamas is on the verge of destruction.

Ben Simphendorfer describes how the fighting in Gaza is viewed in China on his blog, “The Silkroad.”

The fighting in Gaza shines a spotlight on relations between China and the Arab world. No surprise, but the state of relations has changed rapidly over the past decade….. 

Ahmed Mussa speaks good Chinese. He should. He’s the Palestinian Authority’s envoy in Beijing. I watched his interview on Xinhua, China’s state news agency, earlier this week. For thirty minutes he argued the Palestinian case in front of his Chinese host. He criticized Israel. But also opposed the rocket attacks by Hamas. He talked of the links between Arab Jews and Arab Muslims. He also worried that the Arab states would fail to unite in opposition…. There are also many Chinese supporters of Israeli to judge by the attitude of bloggers. Take a comment by one blogger

Istanbul Calling is written by Yigal Schleifer, a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, Turkey, where he works as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and the Eurasianet website, covering Turkey. He describes how:

Israel’s attack on Gaza continues to put Turkey and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a difficult spot. Turkey still very much wants to play the role of regional mediator (and the country would likely be a key part of a multinational force that may end up monitoring the Egypt-Gaza border as part of a cease-fire agreement), but Erdogan’s harsh criticism of Israel has some critics asking (see this New York Times article) whether Turkey has now lost its chance to play the role of honest broker between Jerusalem and its neighbors.

At the same time, Erdogan and his government are confronting an unprecedented level of public anger in Turkey over Israel’s actions in Gaza. Large protests have been held almost daily throughout Turkey. An Israeli basketball team recently playing in Ankara had to flee to the safety of the locker room after angry protesters rushed onto the court. With local elections coming up in March, Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) certainly don’t want to be seen as too close to Israel right now. Some of the anti-Israel protests are already featuring signs and placards showing Erdogan shaking hands with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, accusing the Turkish leader of “collaborating” with Israel. A recent poll taken in Istanbul found the liberal Islamic AKP losing ground, partially to the old school Islamists of the Felicity Party (SP), which has been a driving force behind several of the large anti-Israel protests. 

Robert Fisk
Who killed Mr Lebanon?: The hunt for Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassins
The Independent, January 11, 2009

In 2005, a 1,700kg bomb ripped through the heart of Beirut, taking with it Lebanon’s former premier, Rafiq Hariri. His alleged assassins are due in court in The Hague early this year. But will a trial with potentially explosive implications for the entire Middle East ever be allowed to go ahead?

Reinoud Leenders, “Iraqi Refugees in Syria: Causing a Spillover of the Iraqi Conflict?,” Third World Quarterly, Vol 29, No 8, December 2008.

Conclusion

The vast magnitude of the Iraqi refugee crisis is likely to be sustained for some time to come. … In this context, it is important to acknowledge that the Syrian authorities are not coping very well with the resulting crisis as it places intolerable burdens on its fiscal policies and the economy, while state surveillance and control of Iraqi refugees appear to be faltering. Meanwhile, Iraqi frustrations about being abandoned by the Syrian authorities, host communities and by the international community are mounting.

…the expectation that the Iraqi refugee crisis will cause a spillover of Iraq’s violence to Syria is unlikely to materialize in the future. Political violence, such as sectarian clashes or the mobilization of refugees by parties to the Iraqi conflicts, has been rare. The main explanation for this lies with the Iraqi refugees themselves. Given their specific demographic and social traits (including age composition, education levels and professions, and to a more limited extent religious affiliation), in addition to refugees’ sectarian segregation, an overwhelming majority of Iraqi refugees are and remain victims of the violence in Iraq; they are extremely unlikely to become its perpetrators. …. Iraqi refugees are not bringing their fights to the host countries primarily because they had not been fighting in the first place.

Although the conflicts in Iraq are currently not being replicated in Syria, socio-economic destitution and the failure to provide humanitarian assistance will cause tensions between Iraqi refugees and the host state and host communities. Accumulating frustrations, in combination with possible dramatic events such as large-scale deportations, may remove Iraqi refugees’ inhibitions to engage in violent protests, and may set off confrontations between refugees and Syrian state security forces. For Syria and Iraqi refugees alike, the consequences may be as serious, but the conflicts that would arise as a result are to be viewed separately from the violent imbroglio in Iraq and would therefore not constitute a “spillover” effect as such.

… third country resettlement of the most vulnerable among the Iraqi refugees… is a means to prevent further destabilization of the region. This conclusion stands in sharp contrast with the present preoccupation of US and European refugee policies and of many refugee studies alike to contain refugees in the regions of armed conflict, for patently self-interested reasons. … The probability of Iraqi refugees’ growing malaise negatively affecting stability in the host countries calls for prioritising humanitarian assistance over US foreign policy misgivings vis-à-vis Syria and the EU’s concerns over the recipient state’s institutional capabilities, which are now holding back a serious aid effort. The Iraqi refugee crisis, next to the daily ordeal it signifies for its victims, has produced yet another pressing reason for the US and its allies to engage Syria, thereby adding to an expanding list of rationales to do so.

Comments (86)


SimoHurtta said:

Hmmmmm

Israel bans Arab parties from running in upcoming elections

By eliminating Arab parties and the putting Israeli Palestinians low in the lists of accepted parties the Jewish majority can now minimize the voice of Israeli Palestinians. Now Israeli Arab lists have 7 seats of 120 in Knesset (5.8 %).

If somebody in future calls Israel a democracy he surely doesn’t understand what democracy means. Interesting to read Shai’s comment about this new event in the slow development towards a totally fascistic and racist country.

—-

Al Jazeera had in its English tv transmission just a while ago an interesting story. When Olmert heard about the UN resolution and US plan to support it he phoned Bush. “Secretaries” informed Olmert that Bush can’t come because he is in middle of holding a speech. Olmert said that doesn’t interest him and demanded that Bush comes at once to phone. Well Bush stand down from podium and came to phone. Olmert gave Bush the order not to support the resolution. So Bush phoned Rice and gave the order. Rice was humiliated but did what the Israeli boss had commanded his boss to do.

Now we know who is the mightiest man on the earth – the PM of Israel.

JP : PM: Rice left embarrassed in UN vote

January 12th, 2009, 11:50 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

I disagree with Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s analysis. Of course, she’s an expert and I am not but I just don’t see the Lebanese population tolerating another HA adventure which is sure to wreak catastrophic havoc on the country. Furthermore, this will have the danger of now reaching Syrian soil, a move that is certain to be aborted by the Syrian leadership. Also, what will the UN forces do? Just stand by like potted plants?
Does anyone here think otherwise, and if so, can you put forth an analysis of how all these other factors will be handled?

Alas, if a Ghandi hadn’t appeared in India and done what he did, would violence have ever rid the continent of the British dominance? Awaiting the Palestinian Ghandi…

January 13th, 2009, 12:15 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb writes, interpreting HA’s motivation: “Regional security requires that the perpetual threat that Israel poses to its neighbors be neutralized once and for all.” This is truly laughable. Clearly the region does not need Israel to engage in fratricide. How many were killed in the Iraq-Iran war? How many coups occurred in Iraq, Syria, Jordan? None of these were due to Israel.

January 13th, 2009, 12:23 am

 

Shami said:

Gaza was also the place 90 years ago of some of the most important battles of the WW1,between the western alliance led by the british imperial forces which faced an heroic Ottoman resistance that defeated them twice before they won through their Tanks,used for the first time in history….in Gaza.

http://fr.youtube.com/watch?v=0qdPZSNuRMk&feature=channel

January 13th, 2009, 1:39 am

 

Shai said:

The Elections Committee that yesterday banned two Arab parties from participating in the upcoming elections in Israel is a political committee, with political agendas. This committee claims the two parties should be banned because of Arab racism (an interesting inversion, isn’t it?)

However, the Supreme Court of Israel will decide, not this political committee. And, it is extremely likely that it will reject the decision of this Elections Committee, and the two Arab parties will be allowed to partake in the elections, like any other party. I imagine the ruling will take place in the next few days.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054867.html

January 13th, 2009, 6:13 am

 

offended said:

On bombing the mosques:

To put things in perspective, we have to understand what are mosques and how they operate.

Mosques are usually open places, in terms of architecture: a mosque is an open squarish hall with doorways through the front and windows on the sides. Prayers are conducted 5 times a day. Exposure is VERY HIGH in a mosque. Access is granted to everyone who would like to come and pray.

Israel claimed that all of the 12 mosques she bombed in gaza were used to hide explosives. My question is: how do they know? Do they just send informants to tour the mosques and find out which one is likely to be used to hide materials?… and then bammm, they just pull the trigger?

And given the high exposure, just where were all those material hidden?

I mean, come on, the IDF doesn’t even control grounds of Gaza to investigate those Holy Places and MAKE SURE what they’re targeting are ‘justifiable targets’. (in their own terms which they feed to the media)

The amount of hypocrisy and lying go all the way up to the Israeli President himself, who claimed that all those mosques were cellars for ‘terrorists’. And he assures us that we only need to take his words for it.

THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT IS SOAKED IN CRIME FROM TOP TO BOTTOM!

It’s just outrageous that the world stays silent.

January 13th, 2009, 8:03 am

 

why-discuss said:

The only victory of Olmert and Israel: The obedience of the US president to a corrupted Israel leader ! Shame on Americans!

Israel’s Olmert: Rice embarrassed over UN vote

By JASON KEYSER, Associated Press Writer Jason Keyser, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jan 12, 6:12 pm ET

JERUSALEM – Israel’s prime minister said Monday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was embarrassed by orders to abstain from voting last week on a U.N. truce resolution for Gaza that she helped arrange.

Israel had argued that the Security Council measure calling for a halt to the Gaza fighting — which passed Thursday in a 14-0 vote with the U.S. abstaining — was unworkable because it did not guarantee Israel’s security.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he called President George W. Bush to seek an abstention from the U.S., a key Israeli ally at the United Nations.

“I said: ‘Get me President Bush on the phone,'” Olmert said in a speech in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon. “They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care: ‘I need to talk to him now.’ He got off the podium and spoke to me.”

Olmert said he argued that the United States should not vote in favor, and the president then called Rice and told her not to do so.

“She was left pretty embarrassed,” Olmert said.

A senior U.S. official in Washington disputed the account.

“The plan had been all along, as agreed by the secretary and the president, that if all of the pieces fell into place, we would abstain,” the official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“The government of Israel does not make policy for the United States,” the official added.

The approved resolution called for “an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

Rice said later that the United States “fully supports” the resolution but abstained because it “thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation,” referring to an Egyptian-French initiative aimed at achieving a cease-fire.

Still, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said he was surprised by the U.S. abstention.

“We were told that the Americans were going to vote in favor,” he said Friday, a day after the vote.

But when Rice came in to the Security Council chamber, she informed the Saudi foreign minister with an apology that she would abstain and would clarify later that the U.S. supported the resolution nonetheless, according to Malki.

“What happened in the last 10 or 15 minutes, what kind of pressure she received, from whom, this is really something that maybe we will know about later,” he said.

___

AP writer Matthew Lee in Washington and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

January 13th, 2009, 9:19 am

 

Alex said:

This is how they interview their guests:

January 13th, 2009, 9:40 am

 

idaf said:

Alex,

Here’s how Israel really control the US ME Policies. This is the most accurate analysis so far by someone who understand lobbying exceptionally..

How Israel’s Propaganda Machine Works
By James Zogby
Monday January 12, 2009

As in past Mideast conflicts, both the media story line and political commentary here in the U.S. has closely followed Israel’s talking points on the war. This has been an essential component in Israel’s early success and in its ability to prolong fighting without U.S. pushback. Because it recognizes the importance of the propaganda war, Israel fights on this front as vigorously and disproportionately as it engages on the battlefield.

Here’s how they have done it:

1) Define the terms of debate, and you win the debate. Early on, the Israelis work to define the context, the starting point, and the story line that will shape understanding of the war. In this instance, for example, they succeeded by constant repetition, in establishing the notion that the starting point of the conflict was December 19th, the end of the six-month ceasefire (which Israel described as “unilaterally ended by Hamas”). In doing so, they ignored, of course, their own early November violations, and their failure to honor their commitment in the ceasefire to open Gaza’s borders. They also ignored their having reduced Gaza into a dependency, a process which began long before and continued after their withdrawal in 2005. Because they know that most Americans do not closely follow the conflict and are inclined to believe, as the line goes, “what they hear over and over again,” this tactic of preemptive definition and repetition succeeds.

2) Recognize that stereotypes work. Because, for generations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been defined with positive cultural images of Israel and negative stereotypes of Palestinians, Israel’s propagandists have an advantage here that is easy to exploit. Because the story has long been seen as “Israeli humanity confronting the Palestinian problem,” media coverage of any conflict begins with how “the problem” is affecting the Israeli people. As Golda Meir once put it, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for making us kill their children.” And so, it was not surprising that, despite the disproportionate suffering of the Palestinians, media coverage attempted to “balance” the story, giving an extensive treatment, with photos of anguished and fearful Israelis and the impact the war was having on them. Early on, when media treatment mattered most, Palestinians were reduced, as always, to mere numbers or objectified as “collateral damage.”

3) Anticipate and count on your opponent’s blunders. Hamas’ stupidity played into Israel’s strategy. From the outset, Israel could count on the fact that Hamas would launch rockets and issue the kind of threats that Israel could then parley into sympathy in the West. Knowing that these would most certainly come, and could be exploited, was an advantage in their propaganda war.

4) Be everywhere, and say the same thing —and make sure your opponents remain as invisible as possible. Israel begins each war with a host of English-speaking spokespersons (many born in the West) available at any time for every media outlet (it’s no accident, for example, that Israel has an “Arab” Consul General in Atlanta – that’s where CNN is). The work of their propaganda operation, which spreads multiple spokespersons in venues across the United States with consistent talking points, guarantees success. At the same time, they are able to deny media access to Gaza, only allowing the Western reporters to operate near the war zone under IDF supervision, guaranteeing Israel the opportunity to shape every aspect of the story while removing the possibility of independent verification of the horror unfolding in Gaza.

5) Give no ground. Since half of the story will be determined by what political leaders say and do, the political apparatus in Washington is also pressed into service, ensuring that White House and Congressional leadership will “toe the line.” Statements issued by Congress, therefore, reflect the talking points and, together, the Israeli spokespersons, the political commentators, and the Congressional statements serve as echoes of one another.

6) Deny, deny, deny. When events and reality break through, contradicting the Israeli-established narrative, creating stories that run counter to the imposed story line, the propaganda machine works overtime to deny, deny, deny (saying quite boldly, “Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?”), and/or concoct a counter-narrative that shifts the blame (“We didn’t do it, they made us”). In this instance, that means asserting that the death of Palestinian civilians is always the fault of someone else, or that reporters or their opponents are staging the photos of grief (as if to say, “Arabs don’t really grieve like we do”).

7) The last refuge.. anti-Semitism. When all else fails, point to a few examples of outrageous anti-Semitism, generalize them, suggesting that that is what motivates critics. It stings, and may be over-used, but it can silence or put critics on the defensive.

January 13th, 2009, 9:49 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

My question is: how do they know? Do they just send informants to tour the mosques and find out which one is likely to be used to hide materials?… and then bammm, they just pull the trigger?

Of course they do not know. Even they would know that some Hamas members went to a mosque what then? The Hamas etc soldiers go there with all certainty for normal religious reasons like thousands others. If this is used for the right and as the reason to bomb a mosque, then all synagogues around the world are “rightful” targets, because IDF reserves go there for their religious services. Any Palestinian or Muslim organization could equally claim that all synagogues around the world are used to hide the weapons of IDF and Mossad and their intelligence instruments. Naturally it would be pure propaganda but so is this Israeli. Where is the proof? Israel knows very well that there are no means for the outside world to verify their claims. When “we” can try to be verify the evidence has been bulldozed.

Every normal house bombed is building of a “hamas” operative, nobody believes this Israeli propaganda. The reality is that Israel is deliberately destroying Gaza’s all possibilities to function as a civil society. The strategy which they call roll back the society back to stone age or decades back (as the more moderate say). As we have seen so many times before.

The Finnish Church’s humanitarian aid’s chief Jouni Hemberg said today in Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest newspaper here, that targeting the clinics seems to be systematic (their clinic was destroyed on Sunday). He said that the mobile health clinics operated by the Danish Church were destroyed in the first days of the war. Surely if Israel has so good intelligence as they claim to have they know exactly who runs these clinics and for whom their services are meant. If Israel denies this then they certainly do not have any clue what is going on in Gaza.

January 13th, 2009, 9:58 am

 

Chris said:

Simo,

It sounds that you may benefit from reading this:

January 11, 2009
A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery
By STEVEN ERLANGER
JERUSALEM — The grinding urban battle unfolding in the densely populated Gaza Strip is a war of new tactics, quick adaptation and lethal tricks.

Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.

Unwilling to take Israel’s bait and come into the open, Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire.

In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.

In an interview, the reporter, Ron Ben-Yishai, a senior military correspondent for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, said soldiers also found a pile of weapons with a grenade launcher on top. When they moved the launcher, “they saw a detonator light up, but somehow it didn’t go off.”

The Israeli Army has also come prepared for a battle both sides knew was inevitable. Every soldier, Israeli officials say, is outfitted with a ceramic vest and a helmet. Every unit has dogs trained to sniff out explosives and people hidden in tunnels, as well as combat engineers trained to defuse hidden bombs.

To avoid booby traps, the Israelis say, they enter buildings by breaking through side walls, rather than going in the front. Once inside, they move from room to room, battering holes in interior walls to avoid exposure to snipers and suicide bombers dressed as civilians, with explosive belts hidden beneath winter coats.

The Israelis say they are also using new weapons, like a small-diameter smart bomb, the GBU-39, which Israel bought last fall from Washington. The bomb, which is very accurate, has a small explosive, as little as 60 to 80 pounds, to minimize collateral damage in an urban area. But it can also penetrate the earth to hit bunkers or tunnels.

And the Israelis, too, are resorting to tricks.

Israeli intelligence officers are telephoning Gazans and, in good Arabic, pretending to be sympathetic Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians or Libyans, Gazans say and Israel has confirmed. After expressing horror at the Israeli war and asking about the family, the callers ask about local conditions, whether the family supports Hamas and if there are fighters in the building or the neighborhood.

Karim Abu Shaban, 21, of Gaza City said he and his neighbors all had gotten such calls. His first caller had an Egyptian accent. “Oh, God help you, God be with you,” the caller began.

“It started very supportive,” Mr. Shaban said, then the questions started. The next call came in five minutes later. That caller had an Algerian accent and asked if he had reached Gaza. Mr. Shaban said he answered, “No, Tel Aviv,” and hung up.

Interviews last week with senior Israeli intelligence and military officers, both active and retired, as well as with military experts and residents of Gaza itself, made it clear that the battle, waged among civilians and between enemies who had long prepared for this fight, is now a slow, nasty business of asymmetrical urban warfare. Gaza’s civilians, who cannot flee because the borders are closed, are “the meat in the sandwich,” as one United Nations worker said, requesting anonymity.

It is also clear that both sides are evolving tactics to the new battlefield, then adjusting them quickly.

To that end, Israeli intelligence is detaining large numbers of young Gazan men to interrogate them for local knowledge and Hamas tactics. Last week, Israel captured a hand-drawn Hamas map in a house in Al Atatra, near Beit Lahiya, which showed planned defensive positions for the neighborhood, mine and booby trap placements, including a rigged gasoline station, and directions for snipers to shoot next to a mosque. Numerous tunnels were marked.

A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.”

But the most important strategic decision the Israelis have made so far, according to senior military officers and analysts, is to approach their incursion as a war, not a police operation.

Civilians are warned by leaflets, loudspeakers and telephone calls to evacuate battle areas. But troops are instructed to protect themselves first and civilians second.

Officers say that means Israeli infantry units are going in “heavy.” If they draw fire, they return it with heavy firepower. If they are told to reach an objective, they first call in artillery or airpower and use tank fire. Then they move, but only behind tanks and armored bulldozers, riding in armored personnel carriers, spending as little time in the open as possible.

As the commander of the army’s elite combat engineering unit, Yahalom, told the Israeli press on Wednesday: “We are very violent. We do not balk at any means to protect the lives of our soldiers.” His name cannot be published under censorship rules.

“Urban warfare is the most difficult battlefield, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a relative advantage, with local knowledge and prepared positions,” said Jonathan Fighel of Israel’s International Institute for Counterterrorism. “Hamas has a doctrine; this is not a gang of Rambos,” he said. “The Israeli military has to find the stitches to unpick, how to counterbalance and surprise.”

Israeli troops are moving slowly and, they hope, unpredictably, trying not to stay in one place for long to entice Hamas fighters “to come out and confront them,” Mr. Fighel said.

Today, he said, “the mind-set from top to bottom is fight and fight cruel; this is a war, not another pinpoint operation.”

Israeli officials say that they are obeying the rules of war and trying hard not to hurt noncombatants but that Hamas is using civilians as human shields in the expectation that Israel will try to avoid killing them.

Israeli press officers call the tactics of Hamas cynical, illegal and inhumane; even Israel’s critics agree that Hamas’s regular use of rockets to fire at civilians in Israel, and its use of civilians as shields in Gaza, are also violations of the rules of war. Israeli military men and analysts say that its urban guerrilla tactics, including the widespread use of civilian structures and tunnels, are deliberate and come from the Iranian Army’s tactical training and the lessons of the 2006 war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hamas rocket and weapons caches, including rocket launchers, have been discovered in and under mosques, schools and civilian homes, the army says. The Israeli intelligence chief, Yuval Diskin, in a report to the Israeli cabinet, said that the Gaza-based leadership of Hamas was in underground housing beneath the No. 2 building of Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza. That allegation cannot be confirmed.

While The New York Times and some other news organizations have local or Gaza-based Palestinian correspondents, any Israeli citizen or Israeli with dual citizenship has been banned for more than two years from entering Gaza, and any foreign correspondent who did not enter the territory before a six-month cease-fire with Hamas ended last month has not been allowed in.

Israel has also managed to block cellphone bandwidth, so very few amateur cellphone photographs are getting out of Gaza.

But Israeli tactics have caused civilian casualties that have created an international uproar, both in the Arab world and the West. In one widely reported episode, 43 people died when the Israelis shelled a street next to a United Nations school in northern Jabaliya where refugees were taking shelter. The United Nations says no militants were in the school.

The Israelis said they returned fire in response to mortar shells fired at Israeli troops. Such an action is legal, but there are questions about whether the force used was proportional under the laws of war, given the danger to noncombatants.

The backlash from the school attack is another potent example of the risks in an urban-war strategy: Israel may in fact be able to dismantle Hamas’s military structure even while losing the battle for world opinion and leaving Hamas politically still in charge of Gaza.

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza.

January 13th, 2009, 10:39 am

 

Chris said:

Just to add to Josh’s account of life in Gaza from the perspective of a girl in L Reppublica. Here is a an account from a girl in southern Israel of what it is like to be under threat from Qassam rockets:

January 13th, 2009, 10:58 am

 

qunfuz said:

This Chris is disgusting. Alex, can you not get rid of him? Do we need Syriacomment to be yet another site for zionist propaganda. A massacre is happening in Gaza, and this racist terror-supporter is posting crap about some settler’s child whining about the resistance’s rockets. It’s grotesque. What next week? An article about how a concenjtration camp guard hurt his thumb, poor thing? An expose of Pol Pot’s migraines?

As for the propaganda article from the Zionist American press, Hamas are not ‘hiding amongst civilians’. They ‘are’ the people of Gaza.

Chris – I wasn’t talking before about little incidents like My Lai wjhich the Official Version allows you to think about aberrations. The US terror regime murdered up to two million in south east Asia. In Iraq more than a million are dead in the war that the US’s Zionist operators started, a third of those killed by American bombs and bullets. All of this blood is on the hands of people like you. Lebanon and Gaza too. You are murderers and terrorists. You are racists. And one day you or your children will have to settle this account of blood.

Syriacomment depresses me too much these days. If I want Chris’s perspective I can go straight to the propagands source.

January 13th, 2009, 11:59 am

 

ugarit said:

Chris:

You are really really are naive. Joe M. was right on. Steve Erlanger is a mouth piece for the Israeli terror machine.

“S[t]even Erlanger: why Israeli military is grateful to him
Israeli military propaganda officers should officially thank Steven Erlanger for his immense services to the Israeli terrorist military in this article. To be fair: the man went out of his way to not only transmit–nay vomit–uncritically Israeli propaganda claims but also to justify the murder of Palestinian civilians: “Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.” In fact, Eglanger seems to be urging the Israeli military to bomb the hospitals here.”

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2009/01/seven-erlanger-why-israeli-military-is.html

January 13th, 2009, 12:02 pm

 

ugarit said:

Qunfuz:

And you see Chris prefers Benny Morris over Ilan Pappe. I would assume because Benny Morris favors ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Benny thinks that the founding Zionist thugs of Israel didn’t go far enough.

January 13th, 2009, 12:06 pm

 

Milli Schmidt said:

In case some of you are based in London..please see event below:

Old Aleppo;
A Resurrected Gem of a City

Wednesday, 4th of February 2009
at 7:00 pm

(Doors open at 6. pm – Reception at 8. pm)

A lecture by Adli Qudsi; winner of the “Rolex Award for Enterprise” for his efforts in the protection of Old Aleppo

Tickets: £10, early booking recommended, reception places are limited

For booking: britishsyriansociety@btconnect.com, 020 7839 1637/27 http://www.britishsyriansociety.org

Venue: The Royal Geographical Society,
1 Kensington Gore,
London SW7 2AR
http://www.rgs.org/WhatsOn/External+events.htm

Sponsored by: Investment Trust Ltd, 5 Aldford Street, London, W1K 2AF
Tel: +44 20 7495 6455, Fax: +44 20 7495 5053
Email: itl@investmenttrust.ltd.uk

Abstract
Old Aleppo, possibly the oldest living city in the world, the jewel of the Silk Road, was falling into decay in the middle of the 20th century due to harmful planning and neglect. Adli Qudsi, an architect and native son, mounted a successful drive with his fellow conservationists to declare the whole of the historic fabric of 10,000 traditional courtyard houses with 110,000 inhabitants, a
historic monument and list the Old City as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now the Old City, is in the midst of a popular rehabilitation project aimed at upgrading the living environment. Adli Qudsi, who received a Rolex Award for Enterprise in 1998 for creating the Project, will relate his personal experience of growing up in such a historic environment, of witnessing the changes that
occurred over the past decades and of initiating various efforts to preserve the substance and the “spirit” of the Old City of Aleppo.

Adli Qudsi
Adli Qudsi is an architect graduated of Washington State University. He practiced in Seattle until 1975 then returned to Syria and initiated Conception & Construction Consultants, an architectural design and planning firm. He mounted a successful campaign to conserve the Old City of Aleppo. In 1992 he initiated “The Project for the Rehabilitation of The Old City of Aleppo”
enlisting the participation of the German government and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development in Kuwait in its activities. He has been the Representative (1999-2007) and Consultant (2008) of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Syria implementing their conservation of 3 castles in Syria. In 2007 he initiated the “Aleppo Citadel Friends” an NGO with the aim of involving the local community in supporting the process of the proper administration, rehabilitation and maintenance of the Citadel and its surroundings.

January 13th, 2009, 12:13 pm

 

Shami said:

An interesting debate with the participation of the grandson of the founder of the muslim brotherhood ,tariq ramadan ,the writer alexandre adler a pro israel french jew,an israeli journalist,the palestinian writer elias sanbar ,and a wonderful man Stephane Hessel,a survivor of nazi prisons.
http://video.google.fr/videoplay?docid=3853473755631062842

January 13th, 2009, 12:16 pm

 

offended said:

Simo,
Of course not. I was just trying to conjure up what the Zionist propaganda might come up with as justification (for the justifications) for bombing the mosques. Not that anyone is going to hold them responsible though. I am not an overly religious person myself. But bombing 12 mosques in Gaza, with the single allegation of “terrorists hiding there”; is beyond disgusting. I can’t begin to tell you how fed up all people around me have become with the farce that is called ‘international community’ or ‘international justice’. And they still wonder ‘why they hate us so much?’. ‘why are they hell-bent on the destruction of Israel?’….. and my best part is ‘why don’t they condemn suicide bombing?’

Good luck finding your answers behind the teary or the blinded eyes of Gazan kids.

And seriously: analogies with Nazi Germany are becoming more and more appealing by the day.

January 13th, 2009, 12:28 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

From the pro-Palestinian’s favorite hebrew website, Ha’Aretz:

Also Monday, 120 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom and Karni crossings. These trucks carried 3,100 tons of food, medical equipment, and other basic supplies, the IDF spokesperson’s office said Monday.

Since the start of the operation, approximately 920 trucks of humanitarian aid, and over 1 million liters of diesel fuel were transferred to the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Monday, the Israel Air Force bombed a mosque in southern Gaza City. Israeli ground forces who entered the premises following the attack found a mass stockpile of weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054778.html

Surprised?

January 13th, 2009, 2:15 pm

 

alia said:

yes, but not really surprised, that they are killing the civilians and sending aid two weeks later to look good- PR ?

January 13th, 2009, 2:45 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

And seriously: analogies with Nazi Germany are becoming more and more appealing by the day.

Surely that is true. The direction in which Israel is developing is certainly resembling the historical process of Germany in the 1930’s. They do not have the need of one party dictatorship, when a one race dictatorship with many Zionist parties does the same. This Gaza war only brutalizes Israel more and encourages their millions of bearded extremists. I suppose that even Shai begins gradually to see that the analogies were not so far-fetched. Especially if highest court approves the Arab lists blocking (last time the equal attempt it was voted down with the majority of one vote). Some democracy indeed.

These examples like “Chris(topher)’s” with Cuba sending missiles to USA are complete naive. Only USA boycotts Cuba, others not. Cuba is not occupied. The only suitable historical analogy Gaza situation has is the Warsaw Ghetto. From now on everybody must believe that the “word Alex doesn’t allow” were not guilty. Guilty were the bad Jewish smugglers and militants breaking the borders of the Ghetto and threatening peaceful Polish and German people. Every house destroyed was “Irgun” operatives home (legitimate target) and the dead women and children were the human shield used by “Irgun” and “Haganah”. White phosphorous was only used by heroic SS to generate smoke not to kill Jews.

January 13th, 2009, 2:48 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

…that they are killing the civilians and sending aid two weeks later to look good- PR ?

Alia,

For anti-semites and anti-zionists, there is no PR Israel can produce that “looks good”. Don’t you agree? Once someone has taken sides, there is little one can do to change someones POV.

For the much greater objective world audience, I think it looks better, certainly nothing comparable to the Nazis, the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto, or the War in Iraq, etc.

FYI, about 100 trucks go into Gaza every day per the Ha’Aretz article. Some of these trucks were found to be transporting weapons to Hamas. Besides killing civilians, the IDF is also killing Hamas fighters. At this point it looks to be about 50-50 ratio.

A half-million Rwandans died and the world did nothing. Somalia, Sri Lanka, Algeria, etc never got world or UN attention like this war.

January 13th, 2009, 3:04 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Since the start of the operation, approximately 920 trucks of humanitarian aid, and over 1 million liters of diesel fuel were transferred to the Gaza Strip.

Akbar all that aid is paid by others, not Israelis. A Norwegian doctor complained that the shipments do not include lists of delivered goods so the people working in warehouses have to spent enormously time to figure out what is in those shipments. Strange isn’t it Akbar, but I suppose it describes best which kind of people you really are.

By the way Akbar the world has made big mistake by paying the costs of Palestinians for decades and by letting Israelis to get fat with the chunk they mange to “liberate” from those funds. Feeding and keeping the occupied people warm is the responsibility of the occupier. If Israeli Jews had had to pay for all the costs of Palestinians we would have had peace decades ago. As known “you” know well the value of money. Well not all = those who gave money to brother Maddof.

Earlier Monday, the Israel Air Force bombed a mosque in southern Gaza City. Israeli ground forces who entered the premises following the attack found a mass stockpile of weapons, including Qassam and Katyusha rockets

Show us Akbar the pictures of that. By the way don’t the rockets explod when a building is bombed. Well as we know Israelis are talented in making sets (for movies). The well known Jewish international arm smugglers certainly have in their arsenal enough ready Qassams and Katyushas. If not the Israeli weapon industry provides them for the set builders.

January 13th, 2009, 3:13 pm

 

Alia said:

A.P.

Don’t get worked up- Zionism is an illness that causes moral blindness…just look at poor confused Chris.

Let’s look at the situation as it is in Israel for 60 YEARS. Hamas fighters are the resistance to the occupation as far as I am concerned…Neocon classifications of terrorist organizations do not impress me, nor do BIG words like antisemitism. Enough nonsense.

FYI, may be you were not in any help zone but I was both in Rwanda and in Congo Kinshasa. I was not born yet during the Algerian war Were you there?

January 13th, 2009, 3:14 pm

 

Chris said:

Qunfuz:

You wrote:
You are murderers and terrorists. You are racists. And one day you or your children will have to settle this account of blood.

While I am surprised your vitriol, your lack of compassion for civilians who are subjected to Hamas rockets does not surprise me.

As far as your accusation that Americans are racists: in the United States (a democracy), minorities occupy position of power. If America is a racist country then which country is not?

Your comment above reminds of a remark I got from a friend of mine in Damascus who rents rooms out to students Bab Touma, the Christian Quarter of the old city. Let’s call him Hussein. He once said to me while at “Spotnet,” an internet cafe across the street from Alysar Restaurant, that “history always comes back to you” so he said that World War II was a consequence of the crusades. The Europeans that reaped what they sowed in the 12th century. He then told me that America will pay for what it is doing in Iraq. Maybe not to day, but eventually. After we left my girlfriend told me not to worry, because on a timeline like that, 800 years, I’m safe.

Of course, as you pointed out America is only responsible for the minority of the deaths in Iraq. So I wondered what will history do to those other people/s who killed, as you say 2/3, of the people who died in Iraq? But alas, somehow, I doubt his prediction will come true.

January 13th, 2009, 3:21 pm

 

Chris said:

Simo,

The Cuba analogy was not meant to be perfect, as analogy generally are not, but rather to try to illustrate an example of how insane it would be, and is, for a militarily insignificant force to fire at a country with tremendous military strength and declare that it never wants to achieve peace and that its aim is the destruction of its adversary. It is not only suicidal as it is clear who will be victorious, but it is homocidal as Gaza is densely crowded. The goals of Hamas are impossible to achieve yet they continue to fire upon Israeli civilian population centers which only provoke a response from Israel.

Only an extremely fanatical organization, such as Hamas, could operate that way or in this way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGbP55HGi8

January 13th, 2009, 3:31 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Contributors,

The debate you’re engaged in can go on forever. What you’re doing is easy: tit for tat. When will a line be drawn, leaving the past to history and, dealing with today’s realities, push forward towards the solution that is all but fully defined and will be accepted by all?
http://www.newsweek.com/id/177840
https://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1917&cp=all#comment-223864

January 13th, 2009, 3:32 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

One would feel bad for civilians at the mercy of rockets if the scenario were different. Those civilians chose to be there, chose their governement that has put an embargo on 1,5 million people…so you would understand that they are not our first concern at the moment.

Perhaps, you cannot see it but look at the state of the U.S., the terrible economic indicators, the inner cities, the destruction of society. May be the payback is other than what you envision. Those other than the American who have committed crimes will certainly suffer from their consequences. It is a law of the Universe, if you would but take the time to observe.

I honestly do not see what is in there for you, I mean this Zionist position. Are you hoping to be on some think tank in the future?

January 13th, 2009, 3:35 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Don’t get worked up- Zionism is an illness that causes moral blindness…just look at poor confused Chris.

Alia,

Sorry I got worked-up.(?) Anyway, Chris doesn’t seem “morally blind” or confused to me. Actually, he seems pretty reasonable – something that is missing from Hamas terrorist doctrine.

IMHO, any time you fire on a civilian population and then use your own civilian population to hide from a fight you are “morally blind”. But heck, what do I know?

Hamas fighters are the resistance to the occupation as far as I am concerned…Neocon classifications of terrorist organizations do not impress me, nor do BIG words like antisemitism. Enough nonsense.

As I told Shai, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Of course, I’ll continue to post my opinions here just like you (with the permission of the owners here of course).

FYI, may be you were not in any help zone but I was both in Rwanda and in Congo Kinshasa.

I’m sure your help was badly needed, and I congratulate you for your assistance. Often the GOI helps other foreign countries (at their request) whenever natrual disaster strikes.

I was not born yet during the Algerian war Were you there?

My examples were conflicts where news (and UN business) was never consistently shown on the front of newpapers on a daily basis like the Gaza conflict today.

January 13th, 2009, 3:46 pm

 

Chris said:

Alia,

“Those civilians chose to be there, chose their governement that has put an embargo on 1,5 million people…so you would understand that they are not our first concern at the moment.”

I never asked that they, the victims of Hamas’ rockets, be people’s first concern, however, Qunfuz’s heartless comments about the girl who was under threat from Hamas rocket fire were cruel.

And Alia, simply because Israel’s government was elected by its people, that is simply because it is a democracy, does not mean that any of its civilians are fair targets. Absolutely not!!!

To remind you Qunfuz wrote:
“posting crap about some settler’s child whining about the resistance’s rockets”

His glorification of Hamas’ violence against civilians by referring to it as the resistance is also quite alarming. I am really quite surprised by the number of people on this blog who support Hamas given its modus operandi. It is never okay to send suicide bombers into hotels, nightclubs, pizza parlors or anywhere else. I mean, who here really supports all of those suicide bombings that occurred in Iraq? Please don’t think that just because Hamas is fighting Israel that it should be immune from criticism and able to attack as many civilians as it wants.

If you believe that Israeli lives are worthless, but do value Palestinian children please see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTGbP55HGi8

January 13th, 2009, 4:11 pm

 

Alia said:

Chris,

I was saying the same thing as Qunfuz was saying, do not get caught up in semantics.

I should get some work done, only I am so nervous and worried about the people in Gaza, I keep coming back to these inane conversations out of helplessness

No, AP alas, it is not on all the front pages and it is not the Gaza CONFLICT : it is the murder of children and civilians that one day the Israelis also will have to pay for.

January 13th, 2009, 4:23 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

If you weren’t so judgmental of Palestinians and so dismissive of their suffering, then we might take your comments and feigned concerns more seriously. You basically want to blame the victims for their victimization at the hands of their oppressors. Palestinians have been suffering under a brutal, oppressive occupation for decades. Palestinians were forcefully driven from their land and their homes and turned into refugees in their own country as well as in other countries.

Since 1967 over 18,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by “Israel,” while over 223 Jewish-only settlements have been built on their land. Palestinians have been living under siege for decades with every aspect of their lives controlled by a foreign entity. They have had to endure blockades, terrorist attacks by “Israel”, humiliating checkpoints, home demolitions, land expropriation and dispossession, uprooting of trees and orchards to deny them sustenance, and consistent and continuous killing, maiming, torturing, and raping of civilians. Yet all that doesn’t concern you in the least bit. You are only concerned for the little “Israeli” girl who felt threatened by firecrackers launched by Palestinian resistance fighters in response to the daily destruction of Palestinian life “Israel” has been committing for decades. You couldn’t care less about the millions of Palestinian children being terrorized and traumatized on a daily basis by “Israel.” Where is your concern over the four emaciated children workers from the Red Cross stumbled upon the other day, lying for days next to 12 dead corpses, including those of their mothers because “Israel” would not allow them access to these areas? Where is your outcry over the fact that these children had to be moved on donkey carts because “Israel” prevents ambulances from reaching them?

I challenge you to go to Gaza and visit a Palestinian home and witness for your self what people there have to live with on a daily basis. Until you can feel with the Palestinians and understand why they are so frustrated and angry and why they would form resistance groups against their occupiers everything you say here will be viewed by us as hypocritical nonsense. Until you are ready to condemn “Israel” for what it has done to an entire people, please spare us your lectures.

January 13th, 2009, 4:40 pm

 

offended said:

Chris,

Your attempt at ‘sensationalism’ doesn’t work here.

Of course any sane human being would empathize, but the context here is different, if the Zionists really cared about her suffering, they would have ended the occupation and lift the blockade.

And moreover, I can’t help but compare how in the other side, the suffering, the unimaginable amount of suffering, both physically and psychologically, is 1000s folds more, so when you post a link for a link as a show of sympathy for the suffering on the other side, isn’t that an outrageous and heartless propaganda on your part?

and let’s not forget that Israelis of the south can turn on their cameras, get on youtube and voice their worries in anyway they like: but have you thought of the tens of thousands of refugee kids who have nothing and no one to complain too?

January 13th, 2009, 4:49 pm

 

Chris said:

Alia,
“Hamas fighters are the resistance to the occupation as far as I am concerned”

I must say that when I was in Syria and talked to friends about Hamas and Israel and the situation few people openly said that they thought Hamas was okay. Now my tutor from Iraq did openly say that he admired them, but ultimately most people said that they did not approve of Hamas suicide bombings. Although, people always made sure to emphasize root causes… So, I’m surprised that I am here on Syria Comment, with many people who appear to be bilingual and probably educated describing Hamas with the hagiographic moniker ” the resistance.”

You later wrote:
“Perhaps, you cannot see it but look at the state of the U.S., the terrible economic indicators, the inner cities, the destruction of society. May be the payback is other than what you envision. Those other than the American who have committed crimes will certainly suffer from their consequences. It is a law of the Universe, if you would but take the time to observe.”

The cause of the state of the U.S. economy is pretty clear: a bubble in the housing market, exacerbated by excess liquidity (low interest rates) and lax loan standards.

You also wrote:
“I honestly do not see what is in there for you, I mean this Zionist position. Are you hoping to be on some think tank in the future?”

Everything I have written recently has been critical of Hamas. I am simply a person who supports a two-state resolution to this conflict and I see that Hamas is actively aiming to scuttly that. They undermine Abbas and the ability of people to accept compromise by ratcheting up the violence. As progress is made between Israel and Abbas, Hamas cranks up the level of violence because Abbas can’t negotiate while Israel is responding. Equally important, there can be no peace deal between the PA and Israel as long as Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, because Israel will not obtain the security guarantees that would be required for it to make the necessary concession for a peace deal to be concluded. These are among the main reasons why I oppose Hamas, if wanting a two-state solution makes me a zionist, then so be it.

AP:
You wrote:
“Anyway, Chris doesn’t seem “morally blind” or confused to me. Actually, he seems pretty reasonable – something that is missing from Hamas terrorist doctrine. ”

Thanks for the support! I feel like a voice in the wilderness. It seems that because I stridently voice my opposition to Hamas’ attacks on civilians that people feel they must resort to personal attacks against me. Strange, I have voiced nothing, but advocacy for a two-state solution and an end to Hamas terror attacks and somehow that makes me a ” racist terror-supporter” according to Qunfuz. The personal attacks, rather than criticism of my opposition of Hamas’ and its intent to harm civilians, seem to have come in a flurry lately: Alia holds that I must be afflicted with “moral blindness” while apparently Ugarit’s believes that calling people “naive” will contribute to a discussion.

January 13th, 2009, 4:57 pm

 

Chris said:

“if the Zionists really cared about her suffering, they would have ended the occupation and lift the blockade.”

It’s a bit more complicated than that I’m afraid. You see Hamas has made it very clear that it does not wish to achieve a peaceful settlement with Israel. So, any rational actor, and rational state, would do what it can to prevent such an organization from flourishing. Hence, the blockade.

Now, Hamas, when it violently took over the Gaza Strip in July of 2007, took responsibility for the well-being of its people. If it is not able to provide all that the people of Gaza need, it ought to conduct its relations with its neighbors in a way that will facilitate aid or trade. That would mean, not firing rockets at its neigbhors. It could also, if its primary concern was obtaining goods for the people of Gaza declare its intention to govern as part of the PA. But that would not happen, nor would it state its recognition of previous agreements negotiated by the PA with Israel, the legislative body of which it was elected to, recognize Israel, or renounce terrorism.

Nour,
You wrote:
“If you weren’t so judgmental of Palestinians and so dismissive of their suffering, then we might take your comments and feigned concerns more seriously. ”

I have never been dismissive of what is going on in Gaza right now. Never! I think it is horrible.

January 13th, 2009, 5:12 pm

 

jad said:

“I feel like a voice in the wilderness.”
HILARIOUS…that is the funniest jock I read so far…keep dreaming ‘John’

January 13th, 2009, 5:14 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Thanks for the support! I feel like a voice in the wilderness.

You’re welcome “ya akhi”! (a little ME flair;) I feel the same way.

But what do you expect, you’re on “Syria Comment”, not “Israel Today”;)

Chris,

A two-state solution is already considered a Zionist plot (for the Hamasniks and their supporters). For “moderate” Arabs and their supporters (like the “authors” here, including “Shai the token Israeli liberal”), it would suffice if Israel left all occupied land captured after the Six Day War, and THEN asked for a negotiated
“peace”.

So, as you see, you’re just another Zionist-brainwashed American who has been fed too much Fox News and light beer.

I suggest you continue posting what you want. Freedom of speech is a new concept in the ME, and perhaps you can show the way. You have valuable insight on this conflict (IMHO) because you have lived in Syria and have also visited the Zionist Entity, not to mention your education. As far as I know, not too many people on this website can boast about your experience except, I think, someone named MSK.

AP

BTW – Looks the the Hamas Bigwigs are all hiding out in the basement of an Israeli-built hospital:

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054569.html

I hope they don’t need to come out for air…

January 13th, 2009, 5:15 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended:
“And moreover, I can’t help but compare how in the other side, the suffering, the unimaginable amount of suffering, both physically and psychologically, is 1000s folds more, so when you post a link for a link as a show of sympathy for the suffering on the other side, isn’t that an outrageous and heartless propaganda on your part?”

Offended, all I hear on this blog, which is run by a professor of peace studies by the way, is glorification of Hamas as the legitimate “resistance.” It disappoints me that people here are only concerned with what has happened in Gaza. And as far as comparing the level of suffering: Hamas with its infinite fanaticism has decided to attack a country with a very powerful military, then after two weeks of suffering in Gaza, it continues, and continues, in fact, it continues to say that it will never recognize the mere right of Israel to exist. So, what I say to you is, Hamas has asked for this war and Hamas is responsible for its continuation.

It would be absolutely irrational for any country to tolerate an organization like Hamas on its borders, an organization which has explicitly said that they never desire peace and will continue to fight for the destruction of Israel, especially when that organization has rockets that have a range that encompasses 1/8 of its people.

The point of the video of the young woman under assault from Hamas rockets is to allow us to consider the impact of the conflict on both the Palestinans and Israel. Many people in Gaza have suffered recently and many people in Israel have felt the impact of Hamas violence (rockets and suicide bombers). It is important to consider the human impact of this conflict on all the victims, regardless of nationality.

January 13th, 2009, 5:28 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Offended, all I hear on this blog, which is run by a professor of peace studies…

Chris,

I’ve been on this website about 3 years now, and I’ve yet to determine how “Professor Josh” (my little nickname) came to win the title “Co-director, Center of Peace Studies”, especially since he is an unabshed apologist for the terror-supporting Syrian and Hamas government.

So I find it interesting that you noticed the same strangeness.

Scary!

Professor Josh did manage to make Daniel Pipe’s “Hall of Shame”:

http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/2359

January 13th, 2009, 5:54 pm

 

jad said:

Saint John the Baptist…
CC; Zachary (his father)
God asked to send you this link..
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11579

January 13th, 2009, 5:55 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Surprise! “Global Research” is another loony 9-11 conspiracy outlet:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10142

January 13th, 2009, 6:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

bad link – please delete

January 13th, 2009, 6:41 pm

 

Hussein said:

It looks like Syria has lost the Hamas card once and for all. Egypt will be the exclusive place to conduct negotiations according to Hamas official. Reginal players admit Egypt’s exclusivity in this area, the official said. This is a major blow to the camp of Syria and its followers who were seeking outside brokers to save their face. It looks like Syrian cleverness in dancing on several ropes has come to an end. Congratulations Alex on the Meshaal fiasco:

وقال نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة حماس موسى أبو مرزوق إن “هناك فرصة لقبول المبادرة المصرية” في حال أخذت “الملاحظات الجوهرية” التي أبدتها حماس في الاعتبار.

واعتبر أبو مرزوق أن “هناك الآن توجها إقليميا ودوليا لأن يكون الموضوع الفلسطيني حصريا عند القاهرة” في معرض حديثه عن المشاورات الجارية بين حركته وبين مصر بشأن المبادرة المصرية.

January 13th, 2009, 6:42 pm

 
 

jad said:

You will love this link then
http://www.nkusa.org/

January 13th, 2009, 6:48 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

You ARE being dismissive of the suffering of the Palestinians. And I’m not referring merely to what is currently happening in Gaza, but rather to the ongoing suffering that has been persistent for decades now. You cannot bring yourself to understand why Palestinians are resisting “Israeli” occupation. You are not willing to see things from their perspective. Rather, you merely suggest that it’s a terrible thing what is happening to them, but that they are responsible for it. This is callous to say the least.

I would really like to know what you would do if you were in their position. This is why I would invite you to go visit Gaza and other Palestinian areas and see for yourself what kind of life they have to endure. It is easy to condemn someone for taking up arms, but it is much more fruitful to understand what pushed this person to carry arms and want to fight. You do not want to do that, as you merely want to address the issue superficially.

What’s more, you refuse to condemn or even criticize “Israel” for the destruction and misery it has brought upon the Palestinians. Do you condemn “Israel” for deliberately targeting a UN school and killing innocent women and children? Or do you find excuses and justifications for its actions? Do you condemn “Israel” for gathering 100 Palestinian civilians in a home and then bombing that home, killing 30 civilians? Or do you give “Israel” the benefit of the doubt? You need to ask yourself these questions to see how truly sympathetic you are to the Palestinians and their suffering.

January 13th, 2009, 6:50 pm

 

jad said:

Another bad link to John and Zachary, Enjoy
http://www.rys2sense.com/anti-neocons/

January 13th, 2009, 7:01 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Chris
Two state solution: one master , one slave? Come on Chris, you should join AIPAC or AE or Mossad if not already: you argumentation fits very well in these organizations. Like theirs, it is becoming increasingly aggresive, insulting, boring and repetitive.

January 13th, 2009, 7:24 pm

 

Chris said:

Why-Discuss,

“Two state solution: one master , one slave? Come on Chris, you should join AIPAC or AE or Mossad if not already: you argumentation fits very well in these organizations. Like theirs, it is becoming increasingly aggresive, insulting, boring and repetitive.”

Aipac? I prefer J-Street. Aiming for a two-state solution is mainstream in the U.S. So, papers based on the premise that it is the solution come out of many think tanks, not just AE. As for the Mossad or Aipac, the same applies. In the U.S. there is a consensus around the idea that a Palestinian state existing in peace alongside Israel is the way to resolve this conflict. It is not only Aipac or the intelligence agencies that are proponents of this view.

Now as for your comment stating that I have been aggressive and insulting, I really can’t recall any comments that I have written that could have been insulting. I’m sorry if I have insulted anyone. On this blog only today and yesterday, I have been labeled “shockingly naive,” “confused,” “disgusting,” “a racist terror-supporter” and afflicted with “moral blindness.” I agree with you that insulting people is not the way to engage in political discussion.

As far as your comment that I am aggressive is concerned, I am only being aggressive in my criticism of Hamas. Other than that I really don’t see how I have been aggressive toward anyone on this blog.

January 13th, 2009, 7:41 pm

 

Chris said:

Nour,

You said:
“I would really like to know what you would do if you were in their position. This is why I would invite you to go visit Gaza and other Palestinian areas and see for yourself what kind of life they have to endure. ”

If I were in their position I certainly would not send suicide bombers to blow up buses, pizzerias, hotels, nightclubs, or fire rockets into civilian population centers. I would not send young men into Yeshivas to kill dozens of kids at a time. You know what, I believe most Palestinians also wouldn’t do such things.

I have visited Hebron, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. Again I will tell you that what I saw does not justify this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphinarium_massacre.

January 13th, 2009, 7:50 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Oh so true when it war written and, regrettably, the killing continues and the opinion piece below is till true:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-self-delusion-that-plagues-both-sides-in-this-bloody-conflict-1218224.html

Robert Fisk: The self delusion that plagues both sides in this bloody conflict

Israel has never won a war in a built-up city, that’s why threats of ‘war to the bitter end’ are nonsense

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

During the second Palestinian “intifada”, I was sitting in the offices of Hizbollah’s Al-Manar television station in Beirut, watching news footage of a militiaman’s funeral in Gaza. The television showed hordes of Hamas and PLO gunmen firing thousands of rounds of ammunition into the air to honour their latest “martyr”; and I noticed, just next to me, a Lebanese Hizbollah member – who had taken part in many attacks against the Israelis in what had been Israel’s occupation zone in southern Lebanon – shaking his head.

What was he thinking, I asked? “Hamas try to stand up to the Israelis,” he replied. “But…” And here he cast his eyes to the ceiling. “They waste bullets. They fire all these bullets into the sky. They should use them to shoot at Israelis.”

His point, of course, was that Hamas lacked discipline, the kind of iron, ruthless discipline and security that Hizbollah forged in Lebanon and which the Israeli army was at last forced to acknowledge in southern Lebanon in 2006. Guns are weapons, not playthings for funerals. And Gaza is not southern Lebanon. It would be as well for both sides in this latest bloodbath in Gaza to remember this. Hamas is not Hizbollah. Jerusalem is not Beirut. And Israeli soldiers cannot take revenge for their 2006 defeat in Lebanon by attacking Hamas in Gaza – not even to help Ms Livni in the Israeli elections.

Not that Hizbollah won the “divine victory” it claimed two years ago. Driving the roads of southern Lebanon as the Israelis smashed the country’s infrastructure, killed more than a thousand Lebanese – almost all of them civilians – and razed dozens of villages, it didn’t feel like a Hizbollah “victory” to me, theological or otherwise. But the Israelis didn’t win and the Hizbollah were able to deploy thousands of long-range rockets as well as a missile which set an Israeli warship on fire and almost sank it. Hamas have nothing to match that kind of armoury.

Nor do they have the self-discipline to fight like an army. Hizbollah in Lebanon has managed to purge its region of informers. Hamas – like all the other Palestinian outfits – is infected with spies, some working for the Palestinian Authority, others for the Israelis. Israel has successively murdered one Hamas leader after another – “targeted killing”, of course, is their polite phrase – and they couldn’t do that without, as the police would say, “inside help”. Hizbollah’s previous secretary general, Sayed Abbas Moussawi, was assassinated near Jibchit by a missile-firing Israeli helicopter more than a decade ago but the movement hasn’t suffered a leader’s murder in Lebanon since then. In the 34-day war of 2006, Hizbollah lost about 200 of its men. Hamas lost almost that many in the first day of Israel’s air attacks in Gaza – which doesn’t say much for Hamas’ military precautions.

Israel, however – always swift to announce its imminent destruction of “terrorism” – has never won a war in a built-up city, be it Beirut or Gaza, since its capture of Jerusalem in 1967. And it’s important to remember that the Israeli army, famous in song and legend for its supposed “purity of arms” and “elite” units, has proved itself to be a pretty third-rate army over recent years. Not since the 1973 Middle East conflict – 35 years ago – has it won a war. Its 1978 invasion of Lebanon was a failure, its 1982 invasion ended in disaster, propelling Arafat from Beirut but allowing its vicious Phalangist allies into the Sabra and Chatila camps where they committed mass murder. In neither the 1993 bombardment of Lebanon nor the 1996 bombardment of Lebanon – which fizzled out after the massacre of refugees at Qana – nor the 2006 war was its performance anything more than amateur. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the fact Arab armies are even more of a rabble than the Israelis, the Israeli state would be genuinely under threat from its neighbours.

One common feature of Middle East wars is the ability of all the antagonists to suffer from massive self-delusion. Israel’s promise to “root out terror” – be it of the PLO, Hizbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iranian or any other kind – has always turned out to be false. “War to the bitter end,” the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, has promised in Gaza. Nonsense. Just like the PLO’s boast – and Hamas’ boast and Hizbollah’s boast – to “liberate” Jerusalem. Eyewash. But the Israelis have usually shown a dangerous propensity to believe their own propaganda. Calling up more than 6,000 reservists and sitting them round the Gaza fence is one thing; sending them into the hovels of Gaza will be quite another. In 2006, Israel claimed it was sending 30,000 troops into Lebanon. In reality, it sent about 3,000 – and the moment they crossed the border, they were faced down by the Hizbollah. In some cases, Israeli soldiers actually ran back to their own frontier.

These are realities. The chances of war, however, may be less easier to calculate. If Israel indefinitely continues its billion dollar blitz on Gaza – and we all know who is paying for that – there will, at some stage, be an individual massacre; a school will be hit, a hospital or a pre-natal clinic or just an apartment packed with civilians. In other words, another Qana. At which point, a familiar story will be told; that Hamas destroyed the school/hospital/pre-natal clinic, that the journalists who report on the slaughter are anti-Semitic, that Israel is under threat, etc. We may even get the same disingenuous parallel with a disastrous RAF raid in the Second World War which both Menachem Begin and Benjamin Netanayahu have used over the past quarter century to justify the killing of civilians.

And Hamas – which never had the courage to admit it killed two Palestinian girls with one of its own rockets last week – will cynically make profit from the grief with announcements of war crimes and “genocide”.

At which point, the deeply despised and lame old UN donkey will be clip-clopped onto the scene to rescue the Israeli army and Hamas from this disgusting little war. Of course, saner minds may call all this off before the inevitable disaster. But I doubt it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-self-delusion-that-plagues-both-sides-in-this-bloody-conflict-1218224.html

January 13th, 2009, 8:09 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

But what you saw in “Israel” justifies killing 950 civilians in Gaza so far? Does it justify killing 1200 Lebanese civilians? Does it justify turning an entire region into an open air prison? Does it justify bombing a UN shelter in Lebanon and killing over 100 people with one strike? Does it justify attacking UN aid workers to prevent them from delivering aid to Palestinian civilians? Why do you justify every “Israeli” massacre but condemn Palestinians for every reaction to “Israeli” brutality?

January 13th, 2009, 8:48 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

But what you saw in “Israel” justifies killing 950 civilians in Gaza so far?

Nour,

How do you know that Israel killed 950 civilians? Also, you didn’t state how many combatants Israel killed. Do you have that information too?

January 13th, 2009, 9:02 pm

 

Chris said:

Nour,

First off, when have I ever justified an Israeli “massacre”?

As to the rest of your questions, those are much more difficult questions to answer. It’s very simple to come to the conclusion that blowing up buses, hotels, cafes, nightclubs, and aiming indiscrimnately at civilian populations centers is and is always the wrong way to address grievances. The answers to your other questions though entail getting at when is war permissible. So in my view, answering this question would depend on things that I am not privy to. Such as what is the aim of the operation? What are the potential benefits of this aim? What is the likelihood of success of this operation and/or what is the likelihood that the
success of this operation will achieve the potential benefits?

We have certain ground rules in conflicts, among which include the prohibition of intentionally harming civilians (i.e. Hamas suicide (martyrdom). That’s easy to identify. What is much more complicated and “foggy” (as in the fog of war) is when military action or war is okay to begin with. I think that your questions, largely, have to do with that issue.

You wrote:
“Why do you justify every “Israeli” massacre but condemn Palestinians for every reaction to “Israeli” brutality?”

Again, I do not believe that I have justified any Israeli “massacres.” As far as “reactions” are concerned, we can go back to 1882 and declare every assault by one member of either party as a reaction to some action by the other party. Individuals within both communities and the leadership of both communities have made decisions over the past 100 years, that have resulted in what we see now. The notion that the Palestinians are simply bystanders reacting to Israeli actions is well, ridiculous, and patronizing towards Palestinians. They have made choices. We are now seeing the consequences of the choices that both parties have made.

January 13th, 2009, 9:18 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Another bad link to John and Zachary, Enjoy

JAD,

Why am I not surprised your anti-neocon link ends up being another 9-11 “Trufer”?

I wonder how many participants here are 9-11 Trufers?

Professor Josh, are you a Trufer?

http://www.rys2sense.com/hub/get/post/4.htm

January 13th, 2009, 9:22 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

It is necessary that changes in the M.E.occur, the goverments do not follow their people wish,Turkey established its position,as a leader .

January 13th, 2009, 9:29 pm

 

Chris said:

AP:

After the incessant glorification and defense of Hamas on this blog lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if nearly everyone commenting here subscribes to 9-11 conspiracy theories… Nearly everyone in Syria that I met subscribed to such theories. I heard, of course not for the first time, from one of my tutors, who lives near Bab Salam not too far from Sharia Al Keimarieh, that none of the Jews showed up to work that day. When he “informed” me and the two other students in the room of this, we all laughed. I couldn’t resist and asked him why Mohammed Atta would have informed the Jewish community of the attacks beforehand. He didn’t know who Mohammed Atta was.

January 13th, 2009, 9:51 pm

 

offended said:

Chris,
Question: on the humanitarian level, isn’t the Palestinian suffering 1000s folds more than the suffering on the other side?

January 13th, 2009, 10:02 pm

 

offended said:

This video shows the level of intellect of the pro-israel protesters in New York:

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

“we are being persecuted! this is another Holocaust!”

“we have to kill their children so that they don’t kill our children”

“wipe them all out!”

“don’t mess with jews or we’ll kick your butt”

“there are great prophecies that there will be great wars before the coming of the Messaiah.”

Chris, were you among those people?

January 13th, 2009, 10:14 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Chris,

You should be glad to know that I am Syrian but I do believe that the Jews had nothing to do with 9-11. That should hopefully make you feel a bit better.

January 13th, 2009, 10:17 pm

 

Alex said:

Chris,

Arabs believe in conspiracy theories because they were the victims of many conspiracies … starting with the establishment of Israel over their stolen land… and ending with what is happening in Gaza now.

If you are laughing, why don’t you take a look at any typical Israeli online forum or comments section or Camera.org’s site? … if they read that anyone, anywhere, criticized Israel, they all start explaining his motivations for criticizing Israel! .. you heard of course their accusation that “President Carter must have been drunk”, right? … and of course they assume that many of Israel’s critics must be anti-semites.

By the way .. I believe in the possible validity of a few of the “conspiracy theories” too. Because I do not allow myself to be fooled by one of the best and most consistent tactics of Likud’s friends who are trying to make us feel that anyone who even imagines the possibility of a conspiracy (always to Israel’s advantage) he must be some weirdo!

So, Chris, just like the large numbers of paranoid Israeli hawks are sometimes right (thinking that some Arabs and critics of Israel are indeed Anti semitic), sometimes Arabs are right when they suspect an American Israeli conspiracy against them.

January 13th, 2009, 10:36 pm

 

chris said:

“Question: on the humanitarian level, isn’t the Palestinian suffering 1000s folds more than the suffering on the other side?”

At the moment perhaps, but that would require disregarding the history of Hamas violence against Israeli civilians and only beginning with Israel’s response. I’m not so sure how can add up the suffering of both sides and then compare the two. Really though, if there were a thousand Israelis killed and a thousand Palestinians killed, that would make this war less justifiable rather than more. Having an equal body count really doesn’t justify anything.

Please people don’t let your sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians delude you into thinking that there is anything okay with Hamas. After all, Hamas bears an enormous amount of culpability here. It chose to end the cease-fire and then fire a barrage of rockets at an enemy which has tremendous military strength. Israel responded to this attack with the knowledge that Hamas has no desire for compromise, it wishes to fight until the end, martyrdom or victory, and seeing as how victory is not possible here. The predictable result has played out, the conflict has resulted in many deaths, as Israel is trying to militarily neutralize an enemy which will never be satisfied with coexistence and will alway try to harm it. In my view, Hamas’ continuing firing of Qassam rockets into Israel in the face of so much death, is criminal. Astonishingly so, they are not only suicidal, but they are willing to bring down their own population with them. This is truly sick.

January 13th, 2009, 10:37 pm

 

offended said:

Chris,

I am still not sure if you’re just plain stupid or if it is the side-effect of being hell-bent on spewing propaganda:

Is demonizing hamas your only mission statement?

Will the conflict end and everybody be happy once hamas is eradicated?

Will justice be brought back to palestinian people once hamas is eradicated?

Will suffering on BOTH SIDES end when Hamas is eradicated?

January 13th, 2009, 10:47 pm

 

Chris said:

Offended:

The reason why I am so intent on villifying Hamas is because I strongly believe that a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian situation would be profoundly beneficial for the region. I also believe that no progress can be made towards peace as long as Hamas is in power. Israel and the PA will not be able to come to an agreement while Hamas is in power. Hopefully with some strong engagement by the Obama Administration, some money for both sides, some pressure on Israel to leave the territories, and a whole lote more a peace deal can be concluded. But from what I’ve seen in the past few years there is no way a settlement between the PA and Israel can be concluded while Hamas rules Gaza. It is my interest in a two-state solution (and Hamas’ fanaticism) that pushes me to demonize Hamas.

January 13th, 2009, 10:55 pm

 

offended said:

So Chris, you agree that occupation is the root of the problem? that Hamas (whatever we think of them) are only a by-product?

January 13th, 2009, 11:03 pm

 

Chris said:

No, offended, I do not agree.

The Israeli-Arab conflict has preceded Israel\’s occupation, in fact Zionists and Arabs have been fighting in the area since the the beginning of the 20th century. Remember the Hebron Massacre ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre )

Hamas is also part of a larger trend of a revival or resurgence of Islam in the region since the 1970s.

January 13th, 2009, 11:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Chris,

Why do you think there was “a resurgence of Islam in the region since the 1970’s?” and how would you deal with this problem after it already took place?

January 13th, 2009, 11:32 pm

 

Chris said:

Alex,

Well as for the cause I would say, that much of it has to do with the failure of nationalism after 1967. People became disiullusioned after the crushing defeat. It makes sense when ideas such as nationalism, a foreign import, are failing you to turn to your roots. I Also, in the face of political repression the mosque is the only place to turn for discussion about social/political issues. It’s easier to repress the leftists and liberals than the imam. But of course there’s more to it than that, and religiosity is growing in many parts of the world today.

Generally speaking, the increasing religiosity, or Islamic Resurgence, in the Middle East doesn’t have to be a problem.

January 13th, 2009, 11:53 pm

 

Alex said:

True to some extent.

But you failed to mention the other type of causes of fanaticism … the type where Israel and the west are to blame.

1) In Egypt there was a reaction to Sadat’s peace deal with Israel which was designed to be at the expense of Egypt’s relations with the Arab world. This go worse when Sadat did not deliver on his promises for quick economic benefits for his people as a result of becoming the friend of Israel and the United States instead of the dirty Arabs (Sadat’s words).

2) All over the Middle East, those who fought and won in Afghanistan against one of the world’s two superpowers, were left to live on their own after the west had no more use for them … what did the Americans and their local allies do to undo the fanatic training of those tens of thousands of young men? … after they intentionally trained them until they became fearless extremists.

3) Israel’s actions and the neocon’s actions and America’s total bias towards Israel …

All were/are unbelievably shortsighted… either that or it is true that Israel wants the whole region to be segmented based on people’s religions so that the Zionists can justify their Jewish state.

January 14th, 2009, 12:12 am

 

offended said:

Chris,
When the Zionist entity has been systematically undermining the foundations of Palestinian liberation movement and anchoring its occupation through draconian measures (the least of which is assassinating Palesinian community leader, poets, intellectuals..etc..), then they (and you by the virtue of your argument) are the last to complain about the emergence of extreme organization within that liberation movement that calls for the destruction of the same party that has been persecuting them.

January 14th, 2009, 12:19 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Offended, Alex, Alia, and Others

It seems to me that Chris is another obedient participant in the IDF and in the Israeli foreign ministry coordinated Hasbara (explanation) campaign. I do not think anyone of us should give him or AP the benefit of discussion anymore.
Let him post his rants but do not answer him. He has been trying to antagonize you. Better to be silent now as our anger simmers and our energies devoted to actions. Let us use our words and direct them to where they should be directed. I am writing to the senior senator (i.e. AIPAC lackey) from NY to protest his presence in a racist rally and to remind him that he does not represent Israeli Jews, but Americans. 10,000 rabid racists in a rally are hardly representative of US citizenry or even of NYC Jewish population. But they now seem to represent of the mentality of a majority of Israelis. He should be shamed and we have to shame him and any other AIPAC lackey who willingly participates in these racist rallies without even protesting some of the racist signs that are right in front of their eyes. Our time is better spent writing such letters, and posting on sites read by a wider audience.

I also plan to write letters to the editor of few papers to inquire on why they continue to allow the Israeli government to restrict their access to Gaza and to ask them to boycott all Israeli officials and diplomats until they are granted access to Gaza.

I love this forum, and I want it to become widely read more than it already is, but for now, other forums are in need of our attention and contributions. It is there where we have to voice our opinions as well. I have a feeling that the more time we spend responding to AP and Chris here, the more we are distracted from writing letters, initiating petitions, and confronting ignorance perpetrated by AP and Chris and their likes on forums read by a larger portion of our compatriots.

Chris has earned AP approval, let him rejoice in it and ignore them both for now. At this point in time I am much less inclined to hone my argument skills, for they have nothing but a broken record that keeps repeating itself. Nothing new, it is the old tactic.

Visit Israeli propaganda sites, you will clearly find the tired old talking points that have been repeated endlessly as a part of the propaganda tactics. You could easily pinpoint what AP, AIG, and nowadays Chris get their pre-packaged bytes, on the hasbara.com site go to the presentations slides, you will be angry when you read the lies, but thanks to the trio, we have been trained and have had ample experience with these lies and occasional half-truths

http://www.hasbara.com/v2pages/presentations.html
http://www.infoisrael.net/

Now, here is a recent James Zogby article, which was buried deep in the Huffington post while the torture lawyer’s article (Dershowitz) is given a front page spot. BTW, huffingtonpost readers are voicing their disapproval of such idiotic biased editorial policies

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-zogby/how-israels-propaganda-ma_b_156767.html

James Zogby
Founder and president of the Arab American Institute
Posted January 9, 2009 | 08:25 PM (EST)
How Israel’s Propaganda Machine Works

As in past Mideast conflicts, both the media story line and political commentary here in the U.S. has closely followed Israel’s talking points on the war. This has been an essential component in Israel’s early success and in its ability to prolong fighting without U.S. pushback. Because it recognizes the importance of the propaganda war, Israel fights on this front as vigorously and disproportionately as it engages on the battlefield.
Here’s how they have done it:
1) Define the terms of debate, and you win the debate. Early on, the Israelis work to define the context, the starting point, and the story line that will shape understanding of the war. In this instance, for example, they succeeded by constant repetition, in establishing the notion that the starting point of the conflict was December 19th, the end of the six-month ceasefire (which Israel described as “unilaterally ended by Hamas”). In doing so, they ignored, of course, their own early November violations, and their failure to honor their commitment in the ceasefire to open Gaza’s borders. They also ignored their having reduced Gaza into a dependency, a process which began long before and continued after their withdrawal in 2005. Because they know that most Americans do not closely follow the conflict and are inclined to believe, as the line goes, “what they hear over and over again,” this tactic of preemptive definition and repetition succeeds.
2) Recognize that stereotypes work. Because, for generations, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been defined with positive cultural images of Israel and negative stereotypes of Palestinians, Israel’s propagandists have an advantage here that is easy to exploit. Because the story has long been seen as “Israeli humanity confronting the Palestinian problem,” media coverage of any conflict begins with how “the problem” is affecting the Israeli people. As Golda Meir once put it, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for making us kill their children.” And so, it was not surprising that, despite the disproportionate suffering of the Palestinians, media coverage attempted to “balance” the story, giving an extensive treatment, with photos, of anguished and fearful Israelis and the impact the war was having on them. Early on, when media treatment mattered most, Palestinians were reduced, as always, to mere numbers or objectified as “collateral damage.”
3) Anticipate and count on your opponent’s blunders. Hamas’ stupidity played into Israel’s strategy. From the outset, Israel could count on the fact that Hamas would launch rockets and issue the kind of threats that Israel could then parley into sympathy in the West. Knowing that these would most certainly come, and could be exploited, was an advantage in their propaganda war.
4) Be everywhere, and say the same thing — and make sure your opponents remain as invisible as possible. Israel begins each war with a host of English-speaking spokespersons (many born in the West) available at any time for every media outlet (it’s no accident, for example, that Israel has an “Arab” Consul General in Atlanta – that’s where CNN is). The work of their propaganda operation, which spreads multiple spokespersons in venues across the United States with consistent talking points, guarantees success. At the same time, they are able to deny media access to Gaza, only allowing the Western reporters to operate near the war zone under IDF supervision, guaranteeing Israel the opportunity to shape every aspect of the story while removing the possibility of independent verification of the horror unfolding in Gaza.
5) Give no ground. Since half of the story will be determined by what political leaders say and do, the political apparatus in Washington is also pressed into service, ensuring that White House and Congressional leadership will “toe the line.” Statements issued by Congress, therefore, reflect the talking points and, together, the Israeli spokespersons, the political commentators, and the Congressional statements serve as echoes of one another.

6) Deny, deny, deny. When events and reality break through, contradicting the Israeli-established narrative, creating stories that run counter to the imposed story line, the propaganda machine works overtime to deny, deny, deny (saying quite boldly, “Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?”), and/or concoct a counter-narrative that shifts the blame (“We didn’t do it, they made us”). In this instance, that means asserting that the death of Palestinian civilians is always the fault of someone else, or that reporters or their opponents are staging the photos of grief (as if to say, “Arabs don’t really grieve like we do”).

7) The last refuge…. When all else fails, point to a few examples of outrageous anti-Semitism, generalize them, suggesting that that is what motivates critics. It stings, and may be over-used, but it can silence or put critics on the defensive.

January 14th, 2009, 12:23 am

 

offended said:

And Chris,

While you sit there pontificating about the evil of Hamas, why don’t you also denounce the equally (if not more) nefarious elements in the israeli politics?

Scant attention paid to these parties…

National Union

“The party has a joint platform, and in particular it supports the settlement of all the Land of Israel, advocates the use of more military power in the War on terror and harsher measures against Palestinian terrorism. It rejects all current Oslo-based peace efforts — which it sees as dangerous to Israel — and the notion of what it calls a “22nd Arab state”. The party instead advocates voluntary transfer of the Arabs from the West Bank, though it has been vague as to how this could be implemented.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_(Israel)#Platform

Likud

“The Likud charter continues to emphasize the right of settlement in “Judea (and) Samaria” (more commonly known as the “West Bank”) and Gaza,”[2] and as such, brings it into direct conflict with Palestinian claims on the same territory, although the majority of Palestinians claim the entire territory of Israel as their own.[3] Similarly, their claims of the Jordan river as the permanent eastern border to Israel and Jerusalem as “the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel,” do the same.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Likud#Ideological_positions

Jewish national front

“The Jewish National Front calls for a state that is more Jewish in practice than strictly in ceremony, including emplacement of Torah laws in place of the current civil ones after the Jewish majority is increased west of the Jordan River. This will be achieved through motivating mass Jewish immigration to Israel as well as encouraging emigration of Arabs through various incentives.”

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

all these parties or coalitions support the expansion of israel at the expense of palestine…

what have you got to say about them, Chris?

January 14th, 2009, 12:23 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Alex responds to Chris:

Arabs believe in conspiracy theories because they were the victims of many conspiracies … starting with the establishment of Israel over their stolen land… and ending with what is happening in Gaza now.

Alex –

My Random House Webster’s (paperback) english dictionary states:

conspiracy – n. a group plan to commit an unlawful oe evil act.

conspire – v. to agree together, esp. secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal.

Therefore, the establishment of Israel was not a conspiracy. It was fought for and voted upon in public with the full knowledge of all the actors, including the Arabs. In fact, the UN Partition Plan was a public, last gasp effort for compromise (except that the Arabs publically rejected it).

Lastly, the UN voted publically to accept Israel as a sovereign state once Israel publically declared their independence.

In short, Israel’s desire for statehood was public knowledge, legal, and repeatedly fought against by the surrounding Arab states.

With respect to Gaza, I’m also not sure what conspiracy you are claiming. Israel warned Hamas several times to cease and desist or meet dire consequences. This was totally accomplished in full view of the public and within Israel’s legal right to defend herself.

After the incessant glorification and defense of Hamas on this blog lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if nearly everyone commenting here subscribes to 9-11 conspiracy theories… Nearly everyone in Syria that I met subscribed to such theories.

Chris –

Don’t be surprised. Before the Gaza war started I was told that I exaggerated the number of terror supporters on this website.

Chris,

If you don’t mind, feel free to email me at palace.akbar@gmail.com

I wouldn’t mind learning a little more about your interest in the ME. Thanks,

AP

January 14th, 2009, 12:25 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Just posted on Rueter

http://www.reuters.com/articlePrint?articleId=USLC41273620090113

Israel gains in media blitz, but for how long?
Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:45am EST
By Luke Baker

JERUSALEM, Jan 13 (Reuters) – The advertisements in the international press couldn’t be clearer: a map of London with an outline of the Gaza Strip alongside, missiles raining down onto Britain’s capital.

“Imagine if Hamas terrorists were targeting you and your family,” reads the text under the map, overlayed with concentric rings showing the range of the rockets Hamas militants fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The ads, which ran in the International Herald Tribune on Monday and were sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel group, form part of Israel’s effort to explain itself and a war in which Gaza medical officials say over 900 Palestinians have been killed, including nearly 400 women and children.

Israel has focused its assault on daily Hamas rocket attacks that have severely disrupted life in its south.

“No country would allow such danger on its borders, and neither will Israel. That’s why Israel is fighting back,” the ad, which would have cost about $60,000 to run, concludes in bold capital letters. A website address underneath included the words “Israelstrikesback”.

Israel, which has fought a half-dozen wars since its creation in 1948, often worries it doesn’t do a good enough job of communicating its motives, either to the world or at home.

That was never truer than in 2006, when it fought a 34-day war in Lebanon against the Hezbollah guerrilla group that had seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israel during the fighting and the Jewish state emerged with its pride dented and its enemy claiming victory.

A commission that looked into that conflict concluded that one major shortcoming was Israel’s “hasbara” — a Hebrew word that translates as “public diplomacy” or “explanation”.

As a result, Israel set up the National Information Directorate to coordinate its domestic and global message.

Formed eight months before the Gaza war, it kicked into high gear as soon as the conflict began and scored early success, although there are growing signs the campaign may be stalling.

Through traditional media and everything from YouTube to Twitter and Facebook, appointed diplomats and spokespeople have flooded the airwaves and the Internet with Israel’s position.

“We use all the possible ways of communication that the modern world is giving us in order to convey our message,” said Yigal Palmor, director of the Foreign Ministry press department, who works alongside the National Information Directorate.

“I don’t expect any news outlet to really give me a whole tribune, you know, a whole page in a paper, or half an hour on TV… But I can do that on the Web,” he told Reuters.

STALLING CAMPAIGN?

While much better funded, planned and coordinated than its opponent’s, Israel’s media campaign has not gone entirely uncontested. Hamas has fought back, posting videos of its own on YouTube despite difficulties of communicating from Gaza.

The virtual media battle has produced what Michael Dickson, the director of Stand With Us International, a pro-Israel public affairs group, has called “the first social media war”.

Israel feels that so far, 18 days into a conflict in which 10 of its soldiers and three civilians hit by rockets have been killed, it largely has been successful in its media blitz.

But while the message was clear in the early days of the war — with some governments reciting almost word-for-word Israel’s carefully crafted talking points — the battle for public opinion has steadily become more of a struggle.

The killing of more than 40 civilians in the shelling of a school compound in Gaza on Jan. 6, the decision to fight on despite a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire, and the overall number of Palestinian dead may have combined to stall Israel’s media effort.

Time magazine, read by more than three million people in the United States, Israel’s closest ally, had a cover last week showing the blue Israeli Star of David behind barbed wire, an image that conjured up the Holocaust to condemn the war.

Palmor acknowledged the Time cover was a hard blow and that the early success of the media blitz may be waning.

“The more the operation continues, the more the reports focused on the immediate news … the whole context was forgotten,” he said. “I think this accounts for the whole phenomenon you have indicated, that the support is eroding.” (Editing by Michael Roddy)

January 14th, 2009, 12:29 am

 

Alia said:

A friend forwarded the position of the United Church of Christ on the situation in Gaza. UCC counts more than 1.2 million adherents and is very active at the grassroots. This call shall not go unheard.

http://www.ucc.org/middle-east/collegium-gaza-statement.html?print=t

January 14th, 2009, 12:36 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Israel may face UN court ruling on legality of Gaza conflict

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/14/israel-gaza-un-court-palestine

Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent The Guardian,
Wednesday 14 January 2009

Article:

Israel faces the prospect of intervention by international courts amid growing calls that its actions in Gaza are a violation of world humanitarian and criminal law.

The UN general assembly, which is meeting this week to discuss the issue, will consider requesting an advisory opinion from the international court of justice, the Guardian has learned.

“There is a well-grounded view that both the initial attacks on Gaza and the tactics being used by Israel are serious violations of the UN charter, the Geneva conventions, international law and international humanitarian law,” said Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University.

“There is a consensus among independent legal experts that Israel is an occupying power and is therefore bound by the duties set out in the fourth Geneva convention,” Falk added. “The arguments that Israel’s blockade is a form of prohibited collective punishment, and that it is in breach of its duty to ensure the population has sufficient food and healthcare as the occupying power, are very strong.”

A Foreign Office source confirmed the UK would consider backing calls for a reference to the ICJ. “It’s definitely on the table,” the source said. “We have already called for an investigation and are looking at all evidence and allegations.”

An open letter to the prime minister signed by prominent international lawyers and published in today’s Guardian states: “The United Kingdom government … has a duty under international law to exert its influence to stop violations of international humanitarian law in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.”

The letter argues that Israel has violated principles of humanitarian law, including launching attacks directly aimed at civilians and failing to discriminate between civilians and combatants.

The letter follows condemnation earlier this week from leading QCs of Israel’s action as a violation of international law, and a vote by the UN’s human rights council on Monday on a resolution condemning the ongoing Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

“The blockade of humanitarian relief, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and preventing access to basic necessities such as food and fuel are prima facie war crimes,” a group of leading QCs and academics, including Michael Mansfield QC and Sir Geoffrey Bindman, wrote in a letter to the Sunday Times.

Israel has already been found to have violated its obligations in international law by a previous advisory opinion of the ICJ, and is likely to vigorously contest arguments that it is an occupying power. It previously stated that occupation ceased after disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

Its stance raises questions as to the utility of an advisory opinion by the ICJ after Israel rejected its finding in a previous case, which found the wall being constructed in the Palestinian territories to be a violation of Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law.

Questions are also being raised as to whether the international criminal court, which deals with war crimes and crimes against humanity, would have any jurisdiction to hear cases against perpetrators of the alleged crimes on both sides of the conflict. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian territories are signatories to the Rome statute, which brings states within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

More likely, experts say, is the establishment of ad-hoc tribunals of the kind created to deal with the war in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda.

“If there were the political will there could be an ad-hoc tribunal established to hear allegations of war crimes,” Falk said. “This could be done by the general assembly acting under article 22 of the UN charter which gives them the authority to establish subsidiary bodies.”

January 14th, 2009, 12:43 am

 

Enlightened said:

Just got back from holidays. Happy New year to all. I in all sincerity wish that 2009 brings us that peace that some of us long for.

Akbar I see that you have been very very busy here during my absence. I read your link to Dr Pipes website about Josh on the “Hall of Shame”. There are many points in the article about Josh that are asserted, that are perhaps “factually incorrect”. Next time you are in contact with Dr Pipes, maybe you can ask him what is the criteria for making this “Hall of Shame”, because frankly it has me a little perplexed, if you would kindly let me know I for one would wear this “Hall of Shame” badge with pride, especially if it came from the Dark lord himself!

Anyway the article ended with this quote from the writer for those that are interested.

“Landis, otherwise a brilliant and entertaining observer of Syrian history, should stop wasting his considerable intellect excusing the thugs in Damascus. They are not worthy of his talents.”

I guess Josh that if you are ever interested and your “masters” are not paying you enough, there is a job waiting for you on the “dark side”. Ahh to have your options.

January 14th, 2009, 12:47 am

 

Alex said:

Akbar,

Of course there are many terror supporters here … You and your friends.

January 14th, 2009, 12:58 am

 

Alex said:

Watch Blair tell us that Shimon Peres is his hero, and Shimon Peres (one of the most dedicated, trustworthy peacemakers in history) tell us that they (Israelis) concluded long time ago that war can not solve any problems.

January 14th, 2009, 1:17 am

 

Joachim Martillo said:

I am surprised that no one ever seems to think an expert on Jewish history and politics might have an important contribution to make to the dream team.

[An Israel studies expert would not count, for they are trained only to parrot hasbarah.]

I think information like that contained in my Backgrounder on Pale of Settlement is valuable. Or am I simply wrong?

January 14th, 2009, 1:44 am

 

jad said:

Dear Alia,
Could you please delete the link you post, it might hurt the feeling of AS and Chris, because the United Church of Christ is defiantly taking the terrorist side, therefore, they are Hamas supporter and 9/11 Trufers..Instead and to make those duo happy they should support the killing of those “terrorist” called “PLESTINIANS” regardless of their age, they don’t deserve to live on the same land as the pure Zionist and their blind supporters…
From my side, those duos and their supporters can go to hell. I don’t give a damn about what they write or think since its all garbage.

January 14th, 2009, 1:47 am

 

Joe M. said:

Well, after reading the recent posts of Chris, there is absolutely no doubt that it is his dream to work for either the CIA or the State department.

And Chris’ fanatic zionism goes to such extreme lengths that he has the audacity to say things like:
explaining why Palestinian suffering is secondary to him – [sympathizing with Palestinian suffering] “would require disregarding the history of Hamas violence against Israeli civilians and only beginning with Israel’s response.”

For a zionist fanatic like Chris, understanding Palestinian suffering always comes down to “much more difficult questions to answer.” While sympathy for Israel must be explicit and forceful, because they face fanaticism. It is never fanaticism to use a religious justification to occupy Palestine for 60 years, but it is fanaticism to fight occupation with religious motivations.

Well chris, my ignorant zionist friend, you express your blindness constantly, for example, by calling pre-Israeli jews “Israeli” in post #66. Yet, you mysteriously ignore the fact that the Palestinians have no historic antagonism with PRE-ZIONIST Jews. And you can check the tessler book, which is the accepted authority intelligence circles, on that.

Do you even realize how stupid you sound? How ingrained your bias is? When you claim that the violence of a 20 year old movement is the root cause of the 60+ year old conflict. when you are unable to justify meager Palestinian violence against a state that has occupied, uprooted, destroyed their fundamental society and colonized them for decades. But you easily justify zionist violence saying they would be “irrational” not to attack Gaza?

Do you realize how stupid you sound when you claim that you are “Never!” dismissive of what is happening in Gaza, and then in the next breathe you say:
“It would be absolutely irrational for any country to tolerate an organization like Hamas on its borders…” as if it is justified to put 1.5 million people in a concentration camp and then start massively bombing that concentration camp.

This cognitive dissonance is a perfect example of why zionism is racism and how we know you are a zionist. It is not that you are “simply a person who supports a two-state resolution to this conflict…” as you say. if it were simply a legal question of one or two states, both being equal, that might be a proper analysis. But the type of states involved matter. Giving the Palestinians a concentration camp and calling it a state is not just, and you can’t expect them to accept it just because it exists. Palestinians would be “irrational”, to use your word, to accept their own occupation. You can not expect an oppressed people to live in peace with their oppressors. You can not claim that violence started with Hamas, and Israel violence is a response. Although supporting a two-state solution is zionism, your particular analysis is especially vial and is why we are shouting you down for your zionism. You don’t seek peace, you seek a legitimization of Israel’s colonization of Palestine, and you blame the Palestinians for not well behaved house negros. What makes it even worse is that you try to speak the language of peace in your support for a racist theocracy. It’s pathetic.

January 14th, 2009, 5:34 am

 

Joe M. said:

you want to talk about fanatics, consider this:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jQcI9FHWxEsA6tc4jY_geH7HvqQw

A former minister and leader of a major party (and not even one of the more extreme parties, likely to be in coalition with Likud in the next government). That is more than what Hamas says. Hamas never calls for the killing of the people, even if it calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

January 14th, 2009, 5:59 am

 

Alex said:

JoeM,

And the wonderful secretary of state is delighted to be next to that Nazi:

http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/08bD4jR8kE9mT/610x.jpg

January 14th, 2009, 6:34 am

 

jad said:

What do we expect from a young ignorant student who didn’t get anything from his experience of being in Syria and Palestine as he always ‘claims’.
What is funny is that he always write about getting his research materials from couple people in the street and ‘claim’ it as an absolute fact to discuss it here…he doesn’t know anything called ‘book’…baya3 Batata….
Some teenagers like those love to waste their time, other’s and even GOD’s time to feel good about themselves…they are losers on all levels…

Alex, those beautiful two
http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/08bD4jR8kE9mT/610x.jpg
should get a room…I wonder how their kids will look like…

http://i235.photobucket.com/albums/ee56/chikapappi/SamUgliestDogLulu.jpg

January 14th, 2009, 6:53 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Joe M. stated:

Well, after reading the recent posts of Chris, there is absolutely no doubt that it is his dream to work for either the CIA or the State department.

And Chris’ fanatic zionism goes to such extreme lengths that he has the audacity to say things like…

Chris said:

The reason why I am so intent on villifying Hamas is because I strongly believe that a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian situation would be profoundly beneficial for the region.

So the reasons Chris is a “fanatic” (on this forum) is because:

1.) He accepts the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

2.) He believes in peace.

3.) He villifies Hamas.

Sounds like a “fanatic” to me;)

January 14th, 2009, 12:03 pm

 

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