Assad warns: The region will soon witness events that might have dangerous repercussions …

Posted by Alex 

Yesterday, President al-Assad again warned that the region will witness in the near future political events that might have dangerous repercussions on the future of its countries and peoples unless they were tackled in a rational way to serve the interests of all sides without favoring one side over another.

This was a recommitment to the warning Assad issued during his inaugural speech last July: "This year … perhaps not more than few months of this year, will determine the destiny and future of our area, and conceivably, the whole world."

These warnings might sound unrestrained… but this is how Dennis Ross evaluated the Syrian president’s comments, in 2003, on the future ramifications of the expected Iraq war:

“When Bashar spoke about the situation in Iraq just prior to the war, his comments bordered on the hysterical. At one point, he noted that a disaster on par with the creation of the state of Israel and the British betrayal of the Arabs after World War I would befall the Arab world” 



Jordan's King Abdullah who avoided Syria for the past few years visited President Assad in Damascus this week. A joint communiqué following the talks yesterday included a number of Jordanian concessions to Damascus' demands:

According to a Royal Court statement, the two sides also agreed to expedite the implementation of existing bilateral agreements, especially with regard to both countries' shares in the water of the Yarmouk River basin.

On the issue of border delineation, the King, who returned home later Sunday, and Assad agreed that the technical committees should commence their work immediately to settle the issue.

Regarding joint Arab action, both leaders stressed their determination to activate Arab solidarity to face the challenges in the Middle East.

They expressed commitment to working and coordinating with Arab leaders to establish a unified Arab position on regional issues in isolation from external interference, and on bases that safeguard higher Arab interests and the interests of both countries in confronting political and security challenges as well as radicalism and terrorism.

The two leaders expressed keenness to intensify cooperation and coordination with Arab leaders to ensure the success of an Arab League summit that will be held in Damascus in 2008.

On the Palestinian issue, the two leaders stressed the importance of reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and international resolutions that provide for the return of all occupied Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Lebanon, underlining their full respect to the sovereignty of Lebanon and denouncing the assassinations targeting Lebanese people. Both leaders also rejected all foreign interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.

They underscored the need for Lebanon to reach consensus on the presidential election.

The King and Assad also stressed the importance of Arab support for Iraq's unity, sovereignty and stability. Both leaders emphasised that solutions concerning the situation in Iraq should primarily come from within the war-torn country.

They said they support comprehensive national reconciliation in Iraq and the ongoing political process there.


Comments (172)

SimoHurtta said:

Israel’s Syrian Air Strike Was Aimed at Iran

The officials did not want the intelligence community involved in assessing the alleged new evidence, suggesting that they knew it would not withstand expert scrutiny. Glenn Kessler reported in the Washington Post Sept. 13 that the “dramatic satellite imagery” provided by Israel had been restricted to “a few senior officials” and not disseminated to the intelligence community, on orders from National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

The intelligence community had opposed a previous neoconservative effort in 2002-2003 to claim evidence of a Syrian nuclear program at the same site. A senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed to the New York Times on Oct. 30 that U.S. intelligence analysts had been aware of the Syrian site in question “from the beginning” – meaning from before 2003 – but had not been convinced that it was an indication of an active nuclear program.

November 20th, 2007, 10:42 am


Wassim said:

OK the Jordanian press release was the usual rubbish we can expect to hear but I would love to know what the Jordanian King was ordered to tell the Syrian president. I find that I can’t employ my usual skepticism when the president is saying this time that there are major changes to be expected in the region. He was indeed right with regards to the calamity of Iraq so I don’t understand the skepticism of Ross (if that is the reason behind quoting him).

November 20th, 2007, 11:32 am


Antoun said:

I noted it on my own blog yesterday. I essentially found it a stunning coincidence that Jordan snubbed Syria for the same four years Washington refused to enter dialogue with Damascus.

And again, coincidentally, the US invites Syria to a regional peace summit, Olmert mentions how keen he is on Syrian participation, and Abdullah shoots up to Damascus in a surprise visit?

Abduallah II, in my opinion, assumes the role of the American diplomat in Arab affairs. Jordan doesn’t have the strength or the leverage to influence key decisions, and thus must form a subservient role to a greater power.

Another key factor of the visit was the release of 250 Jordanian prisoners, something that would infuriate certain Lebanese. Jordan isn’t even a friendly state, and Assad approves the release of its prisoners. Again the question is raised, what about Lebanon?

November 20th, 2007, 12:40 pm


idaf said:

Interesting lessons from American history..

The Lessons of Annapolis

By James Zogby
Washington Watch
November 19, 2007

Pity poor Annapolis. This quaint little city has a remarkable history and lessons to teach. These, however, will not be the focus of the world’s attention when, one week from now, the Bush Administration convenes its long-awaited but ill-prepared, and apparently less than consequential meeting.

Annapolis has already entered the world’s lexicon, signifying something other than the city itself. Like the lovely name “Katrina” which, for reasons underserved, is now associated with disaster and folly, the hyperbole used to discuss Annapolis has already taken a toll. Last week’s press, for example, screamed out headlines, like, “The Unreality of Annapolis,” “The Annapolis Trap,” “Annapolis Insanity,” and my favorite (from the King of Hyperbole, Benjamin Netanyahu): “Annapolis Will Bring Death and Destruction.”

Travel down Annapolis’ cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways, lined with quaint shops and restaurants of all types, look at its magnificent capitol building and many of its homes, and you will see a city that is neither “unreal,” “a trap,” nor “insane.” Instead, you will see a community proud of its early history. Founded 350 years ago (old, in American terms), Annapolis served, for a time, as the nation’s capital, and was witness to important foundational events in U.S. history.

These ought to be the focus of our attention, raising as they do interesting lessons and instructive reminders. So interesting are some of the events that occurred in early Annapolis that if I hadn’t known better, I might have thought that the Bush Administration deliberately chose the site of this meeting because of the rich symbolism the city evokes.

Treaty of Paris, 1783

First and foremost was the signing of the Treaty of Paris which, though negotiated in France the year before, was signed in Annapolis in 1783. The Treaty ended the war between the American revolutionaries and Great Britain, and included the following provisions:

It begins by indicating the agreement of both Britain and America to “forget all past misunderstandings and differences” “and to establish between the two countries” “a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse” “and to secure to both perpetual peace and harmony.”

In Article One of the Treaty, Britain recognizes the United States to be “free sovereign and independent,” and it “relinquishes all claims and territorial rights.” In Article Two, the boundaries of the United States are delineated, with Britain’s pledge of respect for those borders. In Article Six, there is an agreement “that there be no future confiscations made nor prosecutions of any persons” for their role in the war. In Article Seven, Britain and the U.S. agree that “all prisoners on both sides shall be set at liberty.”

(One might have hoped that with proper preparation, something similar might have been tabled at this year’s Middle East meeting.)

Annapolis Convention II, 1786

In 1786, the city hosted what came to be known as the Annapolis Convention, a meeting of the Continental Congress, the elected revolutionary government of the newly formed United States. The purpose of the meeting was to resolve issues that had arisen from the lack of a strong central government, and inconsistent and competing policies among the many states. While there was not a quorum sufficient to address these issues, the Convention closed with a charge that these matters should be resolved at its next session – a charge which resulted in the writing of the American Constitution in 1787. A commentator, at the time, expressed the hope that the charge of the Convention would be heeded in order to “secure the dignity and harmony” of the nation, because he believed that experience should have taught the different states that the unity of the whole nation was of greater importance than competition and friction between its different parts.

(Since this is what Saudi Arabia attempted in Mecca in 2006 – an effort not supported by Israel or the U.S. – it would have been too much to expect that the Bush administration, realizing that a full peace agreement was not in the offing, would have used the Annapolis meeting to work for much-needed Palestinian unity, or even Israeli unity, in support of peace.)

Annapolis Convention I, 1775

In 1775, there was also an earlier Annapolis Convention. It took place during the “war of independence” and resulted in the “Declaration of the Association of the Free Men of Maryland.” In the Declaration, Maryland’s representatives denounced the British occupation for its “arbitrary and vindictive statutes” which are “destroying the essential securities of the lives, liberties and properties” of the Americans. The Declaration resolves that “the inhabitants of Maryland, firmly persuaded that it is necessary and justifiable to repel force by force;” and declares that “we do unite and associate, as one band, and firmly and solemnly engage and pledge ourselves to each other, and to America.”

(Clearly a lesson the Bush administration does not want the Palestinians to learn from American history.)

Despite the best efforts of some to sully the name of dear Annapolis, the events and lessons described above are the ones I will remember. It is my hope that the proud little city’s grand ghosts haunt the upcoming meeting with reminders of the lessons they can teach, which are:

Tyranny and occupation are intolerable;
Unity for the sake of the nation trumps any other ideological or regional loyalty; and
When a conflict ends, each side must respect the territorial integrity, and full sovereignty within that territory, of the other.

November 20th, 2007, 2:33 pm


idaf said:


Historically, providing “services” to the US and its allies in the regions (whether this ally is Saddam, the Saudis, etc.) has been the role of whoever occupies the position of Jordanian monarch since the 50s. Not much of a surprise given all intelligence and diplomatic “services” that this monarch has so far provided to the US (which were impressive compared even to his father’s “services”).

On the prisoners’ issue, there is not much to compare here:
The overwhelming majority of Jordanian prisoners in Syria are criminals and radical militants caught on their way to Iraq. I doubt that there are political prisoners (if there are they are very very few). But the Saudi-financed hyperbolic media has used this in the last few years as part of its typical anti-Syria propaganda. For Syria, they are no security threat and releasing them to Jordan would actually limit the expenses of keeping them in prison!

The Lebanese prisoners issue on the other hand is different. I do believe that there is a number of Lebanese political prisoners in the Syrian jails, although not the amount put forward by the March 14 anti-Syria campaign in the last few years (many of those names are unaccounted for since the civil war and are used by Zu’ama in M14 as an anti-Syria political tool.. their loved ones are actually being exploited by the Zu’ama in Lebanon).

To put things into perspective, most of the Lebanese prisoners in Syria would accurately be described as “prisoners of war” (although some are in prison for criminal charges involving smuggling, drugs, militant Islamists..etc.) They were militia men caught in fighting with Syrian forces in Lebanon during the civil war (some of them were aligned with Israel, and some with the different militias caught in fights with the Syrian forces during the course of changing alliances in the civil war). For the security people in Syria, releasing them would entail having something in return (similar to any PoWs swap)!

I think that the Lebanese prisoners are being debated inside the Syrian regime with some elements inside the security apparatus favoring their release. Unfortunately, I don’t see them being released any time soon, as this would be like the Syrian regime delivering a gift to the M14 anti-Syria media campaign. If released now they would be paraded in Future TV and LBC with their “horrific stories” that would be used as tools in internal politics in Lebanon – as usual- against the “pro-Syria” opposition). Until things stabilize between the 2 governments, odds are these prisoners will remain in jail, unfortunately.

November 20th, 2007, 3:29 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abdallah’s visit was Asad’s last chance before things start getting real rough in Lebanon and ultimately Syria. The fact that Asad agreed to see Abdallah and made a gesture of freeing prisoners, shows how weak he is. I don’t think though that Asad understands yet the committment of the US and Israel to change things. The days of Baker have long past and Asad is making one mistake after another.

November 20th, 2007, 4:44 pm


Alex said:


Assad’s warnings are quite dramatic …. I expected that many readers here would react by questioning the need for the theatrics.

Quoting Ross’ negative reaction to Assad’s Iraq warning was a reminder that this time, Assad’s warnings should not be automatically brushed off.


I understand and expect the Jordanian monarch to strictly follow US policies. But the disappointing part is how Egypt and Saudi Arabia also follow, to a large extent.

November 20th, 2007, 4:51 pm


Alex said:


Oh yeah! .. it is exactly as predictable as you described it … the US and Israel are really going to design and implement all the changes you talked about.

Poor Assad … he does not know what is awaiting him.

And some of us naive Syrians thought that the Jordanian King’s visit and the items listed in the statement issued after the meeting was an indication that Syria’s adversaries are starting to see the need to offer Syria much more carrots … the same conclusion we made after Sarkozy sent his two top advisers to Damascus this month.

We’re such dreamers.

November 20th, 2007, 4:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes you are a dreamer. All the things in the joint statement are just repititions of vague points that everybody agrees on. The devil is in the details. The first test will be the election of the Lebanese president. You will see soon where Asad stands.

November 20th, 2007, 5:05 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Looks like Asad has blocked Facebook. Can somebody from within (or outside) Syria confrim this? Is Asad that afraid of young people?

Syria Blocks Facebook

In a move angering many, particularly young people, Syrian authorities yesterday blocked the Facebook website.

No government body has explained the meaning of the move, but observers estimate that it was motivated by fear of Israelis infiltrating the Syrian social networks being formed by site members.

Source: Al-Safir, Lebanon, November 19, 2007

November 20th, 2007, 5:09 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

The Facebook banning story is really sad.

I mean, when you have open websites like Facebook, Syria Comment, Creative Syria and others, you as a Syrian can actually tell the world first hand Syria’s side of the story, make your country’s case and even make friends from all over the world.

How sad for the people of Syria.

November 20th, 2007, 5:31 pm


Alex said:


What is really sad is the two million Iraqi civilians murdered since the sanctions were imposed and the second war was launched.

Then what is also sad (to a much lesser extent) is that dogmatic resistance to peace between Syria/Israel/Lebanon is preventing the region from moving forward much faster and instead risking add to the chances that the region is going to explode somewhere.

Then what is disappointing (compared to the above “sad” parts) is that eveyone is nervous … including whoever it is in Syria that now fears Facebook’s non-controllable communications.

Syria will unfortunately remain to be under tight control for at least the next year.

I have written here before that this year, things will get worse in this respect.

November 20th, 2007, 5:43 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Israeliguys do you know what systems and developed by whom many Arab countries use to monitor and block Internet? Israel and Israelis / Jews are the leading gurus on that field. Israelis have many companies in USA which provide the hardware and software to disturb democratic free speech in telecommunication. Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship. Like with blood diamonds, by changing them to weapons. So don’t be hypocritical.

November 20th, 2007, 6:22 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is sad is that the Ba’ath party has been a catastrophe for Syria, Iraq and the middle east over the last 60 years and that you still support it. No, I am not calling you an old Bathist. I am calling you a Bathist apologist and I view people like you responsible for the suffering of the Syrian and Iraqi people.

Your antisemitic rants are worsening. It is so sad that neither you or Alex see what a despicable racist you are. So if Asad uses technolgy Jews developed for bad ends it is the Jews responsibility? Technology developed to make sure kids or employees surf only to approved sites is used by dictators to censor the sites they don’t like. Right, it is the fault of the developers then and of course the Jews.

Just how sick are you?

November 20th, 2007, 6:33 pm


CWW said:

I can confirm that was blocked a couple of days ago here in Syria. When attempting to go to the site we are sent to a page with the same “access denied” error message that we see when attempting to visit youtube or blogspot pages. It is sad that such an interesting and popular medium would be shutdown. I did notice that it had recently gotten popular with young people in Syria. This decision may be sad, but it is certainly not surprising given the nature of the regime.

November 20th, 2007, 6:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks for the confirmation.

My theory is that it was shut down because it is an internet way of congregating, and that is a no-no for Asad. The regime is afraid of letting large amounts of people meet and exchange ideas, even if they are teenagers. Heaven forbid they may decide change is needed in Syria…

November 20th, 2007, 6:41 pm


Offended said:

Of all things that I liked about the facebook ban is that it stopped the Israeli infiltrators from contaminating our youth minds.

November 20th, 2007, 7:08 pm


Alex said:


Are you interested in a deal?

I will not tolerate Simohurta, Abraham, Ausamaa and YOU

Or I will tolerate all.

There are many ways to ensure that our discussions here are positive and constructive if that is what you want me to do.

I can ban any argument that is not related to the post. For example in this post you would be expected to discuss Assad’s warnings for the region and what they might mean and how serious are they in your opinion and what they mean to you an an Israeli and you can discuss the visit of the King of Jordan …

But you can not go back and discuss “democracy and freedom of speech”… again.

By the way, you are being tolerated way beyond the extent to which others are tolerated. Start with how you did not provide a valid email address. Every person on this blog provided his real email address. If you were not an Israeli, I would have explained to you that you are supposed to provide your address to show that you are not simply a trouble maker. But since I am sensitive to being accused of banning those I do not like, I am ignoring the email you provided.

As for SimoHurta … I exchanged emails with him and I know more or less what he really feels about Israel or about Jews.

He was a typical northern European who is a supporter of human rights. In that respect he hated Israel’s weekly killing of innocent Palestinians few years ago. When he started to write in Syria Comment, your partner Akbar Palace started to defend everything Israel does and he always argued that the fault always lies on the side of the Arabs and that Israelis are simply innocent bystanders.

Then you show up here thinking your country is a highly moral entity and that you are some sort of a democracy prophet who can show us the way.

As I told you in the previous thread, every action has an equal and opposite reaction … your actions and Akbar’s actions promote the worst feelings towards Israel and Israelis on this blog… YOU are the ones who made SimoHurta’s negative feelings towards Israel’s crimes become much more negative … you are your worst enemy.

Also … when you tell SimoHurta ‘The Jews are a nation, deal with it.” … then you are allowing him to attack any bad action by “Jews” since they are all an extension of Israel .. again as you argued with him.

Either you allow those who argue that not all Jews are Zionists or you allow criticism of “Jews” for the mistakes of Zionists.

You can not have it both ways… basically you want us to ban anyone who dares to criticize Jews AND who dares to criticize Zionism. You want everyone here to criticize ONLY the Syrians and you want to remind everyone in every comment in every post how wonderful Israel’s democracy is.

You remind me of some fundamentalist who are calling for democracy only because they know they will win those elections at this time … ask them what they would do if the communist party won the elections.

November 20th, 2007, 7:16 pm


Observer said:

It is interesting to see how the events are being interpreted in two different lights: on the one side as a sign of weakness and on the other as a sign of strength. I would say the following: King Abdallah II cannot go to the bathroom without a nod from Olmert/Rice; second a visit to Syria breaks the so called “isolation”; third the release of prisoners is a sign of strength not weakness. The LBC and the Orient Le Jour have not published anything on Kouchner threatening to publicize the name(s) of the obstacles to the Presidential election crisis; this tells me it is NOT HA.
Now for the illustrious arguments of the “chosen people” above, your old song of democracy and freedom is sounding really old. Do you have any new ideas or thoughts or real comments to make?

November 20th, 2007, 7:27 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Was Sim’s last post racist or not? It is a simple question.

And as for your misconception, the Jews are a nation just as the Hungarians are a nation, but the Jews are different from Israel just as the Hungarians are different from Hungary. And when ONE Jew or Hungarian does something bad, you do not blame all the Jews or Hungarians. And when Israel or Hungary, as a state, does something bad, do you hold all Hungarians and Jews responsible? Only racists like Sim do and I am starting to see that you also think the same.

Are all Syrians responsible for the murder of Hariri? Are all Syrians responsible for censoring facebook? Are all Syrians responsible for the murder of the Jews of Aleppo in 1947? Are all Syrians responsible for the Hama massacre? Of course not.

And as for IG’s and AP’s and my remarks, it is racist to think that what three Israelis says reflects about all Israelis and Israel. But I see that I am dealing with narrow minded and racist people. Oh well, they can think whatever they want. I don’t mind.

November 20th, 2007, 7:33 pm


Alex said:

Observer you are changing the real topic of the discussion in this post:

Today, for a refreshing change, AIG decided that we are discussing how sad it is to not have democracy and free speech in backward Syria.

So forget the Jordanian thing and Assad’s warning of dramatic regional developments please.

November 20th, 2007, 7:34 pm


Alex said:


“And when ONE Jew or Hungarian does something bad, you do not blame all the Jews or Hungarians.”

Did Simohurta blame all the Jews?

“Only racists like Sim do and I am starting to see that you also think the same.”

No … you are not starting to see anything … you are still as blind as ever.

I will go back to the deal I suggested:

I will be much more strict with Simo, Ausamaa, and Abraham in exchange for being much more strict with you and akbar.

I will be very happy to do that .. you are all going overboard too often lately.

Do I have your signature?

November 20th, 2007, 7:39 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes, Sim blamed all the Jews:
“Israel and Israelis / Jews are the leading gurus on that field. Israelis have many companies in USA which provide the hardware and software to disturb democratic free speech in telecommunication. Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship. Like with blood diamonds, by changing them to weapons. So don’t be hypocritical.”

When he says “Actually it can be said the you make money with censorship” he is blaming all the Jews for making money from censorship. Don’t you see that? He is taking a few Jews that maybe are making money from selling tools that limit access to certain sites (as if there is anything wrong with that, it is the basis of parental control) as an opportunity to blame all Jews for promoting censorship. Is that not racist in your book?

November 20th, 2007, 7:46 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Just to be clear, I am not asking you to censor anybody. I will just point out the racist post when Sim makes them and will let the readers judge.

Again, please do not censor or remove posts from Simo, Ausamaa, or Abraham even if they throw personal insults at me. I don’t mind opinions contrary to mine.

November 20th, 2007, 7:52 pm


Alex said:


Simo’s comment was borderline. I do not like it and I never go there if you notice. But he did not blame ALL the Jews … he blamed “Jews”. And by the way, companies who do parental controls software and sell them for $49 each are not the ones who are supplying the Arab regimes (and many other democracies if you do not know) the tools to monitor the Internet. those software are sold and customized for few millions each.

But go back to my suggestion please and tell me which option you prefer:

1) You are all allowed to go overboard in your own ways.
2) None of you is allowed… I will be banning SimoHurta’s above message and your messages which call people racist or even when you repeat your “you are drifting towards racism”

I want a decision if you don’t mind. I don’t want to continue reading your continuous “pointing out racist comments” every time someone hates Zionism.

We have other things to discuss.

I think most readers of this blog have had enough reading your ratings of Aussama or SimoHurta’s opinion of Zionists.

November 20th, 2007, 7:53 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I prefer option 1.

And why is pointing out a racist message equivalent to posting a racist message? I really do not understand your comparison.

And of course Sim blamed all Jews.
Who is the “you” in “Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship” referring to if not all Jews? Do you have a good explanation?

November 20th, 2007, 7:59 pm


Alex said:


We will go with option one without you “pointing out racist comments”… and without seriously derailing discussion topics all the time.

And I will be more strict with anyone getting closer to “You make all the money” type of comments… but not with being critical of Zionism. Zionism is like communism, capitalism, Arab nationalism, Baathism … it is not God-made.

November 20th, 2007, 8:06 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim was being critical of all Jews for writing software. Where was he critical of Zionsim in that post?

And you still did not tell me who is the “you” in “Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship” referring to if not all Jews? Do you have a good explanation?

November 20th, 2007, 8:33 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Arab represent over 90% of semitic people,to accuse the semitic people to be anti semitic is deceiving , and those who deceive must be banned, please all who say that we arab are anti semitic must be banned, otherwise,we semitics must respond, and when we do not respond, it is because we respect and love Josh blog, and we respect you very much Alex.

November 20th, 2007, 8:46 pm


Seeking The Truth said:


If you are atheist as you have mentioned before, how can you be a Jew?
This is beyond my understanding! Atheist means, I assume you know that, not believing in a God. I’d understand it if you call yourself a nonpracticing Jew. It could be argued, the less religion there is in the Middle East, the easier would be to reaching a compromise.

November 20th, 2007, 8:52 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I think most readers of this blog have had enough reading your ratings of Aussama or SimoHurta’s opinion of Zionists.

Well Alex, you have a rather astonishing view of discussion. I have in my comments (which are less than 5 percent of these Israeli guys) only answered to points they have made. I do not “inflame” in anyway the talk about Zionism by purpose. If the Israeli guys get offended whose problem is it. I always try to provide a solid link to the data I use.

Your antisemitic rants are worsening. It is so sad that neither you or Alex see what a despicable racist you are. So if Asad uses technolgy Jews developed for bad ends it is the Jews responsibility? Technology developed to make sure kids or employees surf only to approved sites is used by dictators to censor the sites they don’t like. Right, it is the fault of the developers then and of course the Jews.

Just how sick are you?

AIG it is well known fact that Israeli companies are the leading in telecommunication monitoring and they are often financed by Israeli government. To say that well known fact is not anti-Semitic. As you yourself said Israel is run by Jews and it has the right to that. For example Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc monitor their internet usage with the hard- and software developed by Narus Inc (which was founded by Ori Cohen) and that is not cheap. Here is an article about him and other Israeli guys Ori Cohen, private eye.

Do you seriously think AIG that I invent those Haaretz stories.

What comes to “responsibility” I think that those who sell the weapons are at least as guilty as the soldiers who use the weapons. If you endlessly speak about democracy and whine that internet traffic in Arab countries is blocked, what does it “hurt” to say that some Israelis earn much money by providing that technology to dictators. It is a simple fact, nothing to do with racism.

By you earn much money I naturally did mean that Israel as an economy (of which you are a part) earns money with providing such systems. Like Israeli economy earn money by providing weapons to the government of Burma. In a democracy, where the people elect the governing structure, the people also have some responsibility what their elected system does. More than people living in dictatorships.

November 20th, 2007, 8:56 pm


Alex said:

Thank you so much Majed. You are so kind.

I will start being more strict on accusations and insults and name calling in general. Those who abuse it (repetitively) will see their comments being deleted.

We need to go back to discussing the issues, not AIG’s opinin of Alex and Simo and Ausamaa.

November 20th, 2007, 8:57 pm


Alex said:


Thanks for linking the names of the invitees.

I still think that Syria’s attendance will eventually depend on what happens in Lebanon.

Hariri went to Russia instead of meeting with Berri today.

November 20th, 2007, 9:05 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Do tell me who is the “you” in “Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship” referring to if not all Jews? Do you have a good explanation? Otherwise, your statement as it stands is racist.

And how is it relevant that some Israelis or Jews make money from selling software to dictators? Could you please explain this? What does this show, does it prove anything about Jews or Israelis that you would like to point out?

November 20th, 2007, 9:09 pm


EHSANI2 said:

This discussion of Zionists and racists is pointless and an utter waste of time. This does not bode well for the comments section here.

November 20th, 2007, 9:15 pm


Alex said:


AIG. Let’s us please forget about rating SimoHurta’s old comments. Move forward.

Here is a very interesting opinionpiece by Yossi Alpher. Another Israeli I really like, even though I don’t fully agree with his way of seeing everything.

Thanks to Ehsani for sending it

Bring Syria into the talks

By Yossi Alpher
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The strategic subtext of the meeting scheduled in Annapolis next week to launch an Israeli-Palestinian peace process is Washington’s desire to shore up Arab support for its problematic policies on Iraq and Iran. The United States has been persuaded by the Saudis, Egyptians and others that the prospect of such a process will do the trick. The problem is that under present circumstances the chances for success of a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace effort are close to nil.

There could be another way to achieve the same objective regarding U.S.-Arab relations, one with better chances of success: using Annapolis to launch a Syrian-Israeli peace track as well.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel will meet at Annapolis with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is moderate and interested in a deal – but almost totally lacking in authority over the polity he is supposed to represent and “deliver” if agreements are reached.

In contrast, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, is not moderate, at times resembles a Mafia chieftain more than a head of state and threatens war with Israel. Yet he, unlike Abbas, is not only interested in a deal but can deliver, too. He is not invited because Olmert and President George W. Bush don’t want to talk to him until he cleans up his act and stops assassinating Lebanese politicians and meddling in Iraq. Even the moderate Egyptian, Saudi and Jordanian leaders invited to Annapolis are not enthusiastic about bringing Bashar.

Yet as matters stand, there is no likely strategic payoff for Israelis, Palestinians, Americans or moderate Arabs at Annapolis. Neither Olmert nor Abbas can deliver a successful Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Like so many previous Israeli governments, Olmert threatens to disintegrate the closer he gets to substantive peace talks, with the right wing Shas and Yisrael Beitenu promising to walk out of the coalition if Olmert dares talk substance at the summit meeting. Moreover, the prime minister’s political status is threatened by the final report of the Winograd commission investigation into their conduct of the war against Hezbollah in 2006. Due before the end of December this report could trigger a move by his Labor party coalition partner to press for new elections. If a deal is reached in the aftermath of Annapolis, Olmert is too weak to dismantle the outposts as required by phase I of the roadmap, which is now once again a binding frame of reference.

Abbas rules over a fragment of Fatah in a few enclaves in the West Bank. He displays as little resolute authority today as he did six months ago, when he lost Gaza to Hamas. His corrupt Fatah party would probably lose another election to Hamas were the two movements to agree on one in the aftermath of either success or failure at Annapolis. His security establishment has a lot of rebuilding to do before it can challenge Hamas militarily and maintain order even in the West Bank, not to mention Gaza. Meanwhile it is painfully dependent on Israel for survival, thereby further exposing Abbas politically.

Throughout the 1990s, when no fewer than four Israeli prime ministers (Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu and Barak) negotiated with Bashar Assad’s father Hafez, a deal between Israel and Syria meant exchanging the Golan Heights for another cold peace. Today, a peace effort with Syria promises a far bigger payoff: Success with Bashar is defined in terms of ending Syrian support for Islamic militant Palestinian movements like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and cutting Syria out of the “Shiite crescent” that links Iran, via the Shiites of Iraq and the Alawite regime in Damascus, to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. This would deal a stunning blow to Iran’s drive for regional hegemony and constitute a far greater peace dividend for the region than anything Abbas could conceivably deliver.

Israeli intelligence is now convinced that Bashar Assad is as sincere in his offer of a peace agreement as he is industrious in preparing, with Iranian help, for possible war. The boy ruler who took over from his deceased father seven years ago has come of age, is in charge in Damascus and can deliver on a peace deal. Witness his measured and cautious response to Israel’s bombing two months ago of his North Korean-supplied nuclear project in northeast Syria.

Assad’s price, of course, is not just the Golan. He wants the West to drop its economic and diplomatic boycott, look the other way regarding his thuggish regime and even discuss Syria’s interest in Lebanon despite his atrocious behavior there.

Washington and the key Arab capitals would have to be convinced that talks with Assad about these issues are a gambit justified by the potential payoff. But precisely because of the issue at stake – reducing the Iranian threat, which is now paramount in Israeli and Arab strategic thinking – a move to talk to Syria might encounter less internal political opposition in Israel than the prospect of a flimsy deal with Abbas and might be welcomed by the Arab street.

Thus far, Assad has been invited to Annapolis half-heartedly, as a skeptical cheerleader for the Palestinians rather than a hands-on participant. It is not too late to correct this dangerous mistake.

Yossi Alpher is former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and a former special adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

November 20th, 2007, 9:21 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, it’s an interesting article.

And now, as expected (after all, I can’t disappoint you…), to the million dollar question: do you support Yossi Alpher’s quote:

“Today, a peace effort with Syria promises a far bigger payoff: Success with Bashar is defined in terms of ending Syrian support for Islamic militant Palestinian movements like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and cutting Syria out of the “Shiite crescent” that links Iran, via the Shiites of Iraq and the Alawite regime in Damascus, to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

This would deal a stunning blow to Iran’s drive for regional hegemony and constitute a far greater peace dividend for the region than anything Abbas could conceivably deliver.”

November 20th, 2007, 9:36 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Do tell me who is the “you” in “Actually it can be said that you make money with censorship” referring to if not all Jews? Do you have a good explanation? Otherwise, your statement as it stands is racist.

I already answered that AIG. By you I did mean Israeli economy, which means in a broad sense all Israelis. I certainly know that YOU (=AIG) personally do not earn directly one agora from that internet monitoring (rather complicated as you know), but maybe indirectly some sheqels in governmental benefits and certainly in form of the infrastructure built by the tax money those companies and individuals pay to the Israeli system.

Lets move on AIG as many seem to want, I put my keyboard for a “holiday” with these Israel issues for a while. After your convincing comments I believe that Israel is a model for future Middle East and a perfect democracy. AIG keep on trying to make Syria as democratic as Israel. 🙂

November 20th, 2007, 9:49 pm


Alex said:

Kouchner less confident over consensus
November 19, 2007

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday he was “less confident” about reaching a solution to Lebanon’s political crisis, as he returned to the country for his sixth visit in as many months.

“There is a new situation, I am less confident now. It’s more complicated,” said Kouchner, one of several foreign diplomats to visit Lebanon in recent days in a bid to mediate an end to the deadlock over choosing the next president.

Despite intense international pressure, rival political factions have been unable to agree on a successor to President Emile Lahoud, whose term is set to expire.

The French minister said there was “a split in the Christian camp” referring to Lebanese Christians divided between a pro-Western ruling coalition and Syrian-backed opposition.

Despite intense international pressure, many fear the two factions may miss a final November 23 deadline to elect a new president, plunging the country into chaos.

There is also concern that the dispute could lead to two rival governments, echoing the dark final years of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, when two competing administrations battled for control.

Kouchner arrived in Beirut late Sunday for a series of meetings with Lebanese leaders to try to forge an agreement ahead of a parliamentary vote to elect a new president on Wednesday.

The crisis has three times forced the postponement of a parliament session to elect a successor to Lahoud, and there are fears that the last-ditch vote on November 21 could meet the same fate.

November 20th, 2007, 10:50 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex said:

I will start being more strict on accusations and insults and name calling in general. Those who abuse it (repetitively) will see their comments being deleted.

Alex –

Probably not a bad idea. Although we disagree on nearly everything, I think you’ve proven yourself to be an excellent host in terms of your demeanor and tact.

Just as an observation, I recall the last peace encounter with Syria was at a time when talks with the Palestinians were moving forward (c. 2000). There was a distinct sense that Syria didn’t want to be the last “hold out” in terms of making peace with Israel. I think there is a feeling between both the Palestinian and the Syrians that whoever is last at making peace will get the worst deal.

Of course, the safest bet is continued “resistance”, jihad, martyrdom, and Israeli human rights violations.

BTW – If this Annapolis thing works out, I will be there to report to you all. For a fee, I will be happy to carry posters. Anything ranging from “Down, Down Bush!”, “Death to Israel!”, “No War for Oil!”, and “Have a Nice Day!”. Israelis, naturally get a discount. We now have a new poster stating, “Peace Now before Iran Nukes Us and Creates a World Without Zionist Warmongers”.

November 20th, 2007, 10:53 pm


Alex said:

Suleiman on Independence Day: Be loyal to your military oath

November 20, 2007

Lebanese army commander General Michel Suleiman addressed army troops in commemoration of Lebanese Independence Day.

“Any threat to security is treason to the country. Any arm pointed at the Lebanese is a traitor’s arm,” said Suleiman.

“The country is at stake, and you are its protectors,” Suleiman told soldiers.

He also urged troops to stay away from political and constitutional disagreements. “Be loyal to your military oath,” he declared.

November 20th, 2007, 10:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The invitations are out. Who’s interested in beace?

November 20th, 2007, 11:36 pm


Enlightened said:


What is the low down of the Lebanese Presidential elections, any scoops you might have? Who is Syria’s preferred candidate (it was Suleiman a while ago) ?

Lahouds tenure is up soon, and given precedents on past elections I can see another situation arising on the appointment of an interim government (aka Gemayel era ). I think Syria’s strategy during this time, void, indecision, hampering will eventually lead to D Day, what is its fall back position if no compromise candidate is found. Syria’s stand ( My way or the highway ) is not tenable in the long term. What is your view?


To all arguing, it sometimes gets a bit tiresome and trite when we all revert to our demonising of each other, I think that we all fail to learn any lessons of sixty years of conflict, not only have our politicians failed us miserably during that time, the way we carry on does not bode well for the next sixty years. It just reinforces my belief that we really know little about each other, and have no respect for each other as fellow human beings. Its sad, but more to the point morally repugnant, when we feel our position is morally superior to our protagonists.

November 20th, 2007, 11:38 pm


Ziad said:

Sarkozy Telephones Assad to Discuss Lebanon’s Political Crisis
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, reopening top-level contacts after a three-year break in a bid end the political crisis in Lebanon, Syrian media said

A terse dispatch carried by the official Syrian Arab News Agency said only that the two presidents discussed “the situation in Lebanon”.

Sarkozy’s call to Assad was the first since he was elected in May, replacing Jacques Chirac who had suspended high-level talks with Syria after the murder of Lebanon’s former premier Rafiq Hariri, a close friend, in February 2005.

It came as Lebanon’s pro-Syrian parliament speaker Nabih Berri announced that a special session set for Wednesday to elect a new president had been postponed until Friday, the final deadline for the vote.

It was the fourth time the election had been postponed and came as France led international efforts to broker a compromise between the Western-backed government and the Syrian- and Iranian-backed opposition.

While French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner shuttled between the rival leaders in Beirut, two aides to Sarkozy — Claude Gueant and Jean-David Levitte — met Assad briefly in Damascus for the second time in as many weeks.

French presidential spokesman David Martinon announced the visit in Paris and said in a statement: “The Lebanese must have the possibility to choose their next president freely, without foreign intervention.”

Fears are running high that failure to find consensus in Lebanon by midnight (2200 GMT) Friday when pro-Syrian incumbent Emile Lahoud’s term of office expires could spur the formation of two rival governments in a grim reminder of the end of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.(AFP)

Beirut, 20 Nov 07, 22:10

November 20th, 2007, 11:39 pm


abraham said:


I prayed to the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims to give me the will power to ignore the Israeli Guys. So far it’s working. It’s really easy when you realize they are just saying the same thing over and over again. I think they are just robots. Either that or they are poor Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel and are paid a small wage to disrupt pro-Arab advocacy blogs.

Anyway, I just wanted to know if it is possible to implement a filter for individual users so we could select the users whom we want to ignore and their messages won’t show up when we visit the blog. I guess this would require registration, which I would be happy to do if it means I don’t have to see any more of their messages. Or it could be done with browser cookies.

I have no desire to respond to them because I’ve thoroughly thrashed them and it’s obvious that no matter what you say to them they will continue repeating the same lies, fallacies, propaganda, etc. I don’t care if they continue to post messages or even respond to any of mine. I just don’t want to read anything they have to say.

An alternative is for everyone to simply ignore them and they will eventually go away. They thrive on the feedback they get, negative or otherwise. If they are deprived of their nutrient feedback they will wilt like weeds in the hot sun and finally disappear. The only problem with this approach is that it will require the discipline of the entire readership, which means it’s not likely.

I guess the more simple alternative is to simply ban them, which I don’t want to do because they serve as a perfect example of just how unreasonable and intransigent your typical Israeli is, but if that is the only solution then count my vote as being in favor of banning them. Since we are all advocates of democracy here, even the Israelis, perhaps we could put it to a vote?

Please let me know if any of this is feasible.

November 20th, 2007, 11:44 pm


Disaffection said:

AP, I’d pay good money to see you carry a that last poster, or any of them come to think of it. you’d probably do it for pennies though. all i have to do is wave a bit the wod.

November 20th, 2007, 11:48 pm


abraham said:

Alex said:

But he did not blame ALL the Jews … he blamed “Jews”.

Has anyone considered that this may well just be semantical issues caused by communicating in a non-native language? Simohurtta has excellent English skills as far as I can tell, but he is apparently not a native speaker of the language. So his comments about “Jews” might be getting skewed as he translates from his native language (Finnish I believe?) to English.

For what it’s worth, I know Simo is not anti-Jewish and the intent of his messages is perfectly clear. They only seem anti-Jewish to someone who is looking to pick a fight.

November 20th, 2007, 11:51 pm


Alex said:

Dear Abraham,

In real life, Israelis will not go away and the Arabs will not go away… we’ll continue to simulate the same setup here.

Besides, I don’t think Joshua wants to ban Israelis … it won’t look good for an Oklahoma professor of history 😉

Let’s try it, it won’t be too difficult to find enough interesting developments out there to stick to, instead of personal attacks.

I will be more serious about enforcing the more strict rules.


Back to the Lebanon situation:


Syria is giving every visitor the generic answer .. “we will accept whoever the Lebanese agree on”

But I can feel the formation of two teams … Syrians and French against Saudis and Americans.

The problem is that when it comes to the Lebanese presidency, “Syria’s allies” are not really “allies” … Suleiman Frangieh is, but Aoun is an independent. Syria still has a lot of influence in Lebanon but it can not apply too much pressure on the Christians.

General Michel Suleiman is still Syria’s favorite candidate… according to me.

But you will not find a single phone conversation to record that connects Syria to its allies these days … Syria is very cautious not to give any indication that it is interfering.

But in reality, Syria’s opinion is taken into account through diplomacy.

That was the longer, boring answer. The better answer to your question is:

“who knows .. we’ll see”

November 21st, 2007, 12:22 am


abraham said:

Alex said:

Besides, I don’t think Joshua wants to ban Israelis … it won’t look good for an Oklahoma professor of history

I am not proposing we ban Israelis nor would I ever. I am only wishing to ban these particular Israelis that post obnoxious messages here. Actually, IG is not that bad, but AIG and AP are just silly.

Anyway, I will simply continue to ignore them. I have no desire to engage them in any discussion anyway since they are poor “debating” partners.

November 21st, 2007, 12:29 am


abraham said:

Alex said:

But I can feel the formation of two teams … Syrians and French against Saudis and Americans.

The only reason the French under Sarkozy would partner with the Syrians would be to stab them in the back at the appropriate moment.

I think Sarkozy’s public comments ever since he came to office are pretty clear on his stand with regards to the Syrians. I wouldn’t trust that dwarf as far as you could toss him.

November 21st, 2007, 12:30 am


Enlightened said:


If only we had a crystal ball!

Abraham I dont trust the French and their moves, their policy is simply to get Syrian acquiescence to get this deadlock resolved, and then revert to isolation again

November 21st, 2007, 12:36 am


Alex said:


The regime in Syria is almost all brakes and very little acceleration.

I would not worry about Sarkozy tricking them into helping the French in exchange for nothing… they are going to be cautious enough.

The classic way of finding how highly Syria trusts any party is to check which regime figure is going on the record to officially state Syria’s pleasure with that party. For now, France’s cooperation is championed by Walid Mouallem … senior enough, but not Bahsar himself.

So I would imagine that Syria now has moderate trust in dealing with Sarkozy on the question of Lebanon at least.

Besides, Lebanon’s biggest issue is Hizbollah’s weapons … Syria will never facilitate teh election of any president who does not understand the impossibility of disarming Hizbollah by forcce.

I think a deal is unlikely at this point… the different Lebanese parties will try their luck operating under two governments or under some moderately chaotic environment

November 21st, 2007, 1:28 am


jbello said:

This is a great site with a lot of interesting posts and comments, but sometimes you sure get lost. I put up a silly comment the other day and it was removed. In a way I was relieved. I was saying the right thing to the wrong audience. After reading down this thread, I feel kind of vindicated. At least I was saying something.

Get a grip. If somebody doesn’t want to talk about the issue at hand, ignore him. The whole world is being swirled into the toilet by people who are hypersensitive on their own behalf and haven’t an iota of sensitivity to anyone else’s concerns, nor any interest in objective reality (if such a thing can be said to exist). And I’m not only talking about Israelis either.

It’s not helpful to personally blame ‘Assad’ for everything you don’t like that happens in Syria any more than it is helpful to refer to ‘Jews’ when you mean ‘Israel’. You are unlikely to see restrictive governments lighten up if bigger more aggressive powers are breathing down their necks and threatening to undermine their power, or worse yet, destroy their country. Israel might behave differently if it weren’t getting several billion dollars a year to support its military. And Israeli people might be looking harder at negotiated solutions.

Over here in the US, we like to blame George Bush for the pathetic excuse for foreign policy now exercised by our country to our own detriment and every one else’s as well. But really, somebody voted for him. This year we voted for people to block him, but they aren’t doing it. Either we the people are responsible for the actions of our government or we no longer have the great democracy we like to talk about, and maybe we ought to do something about that before it is too late. You all might want to think about that.

Maybe we all ought to think about whether our governments’ actions are in our best interest or not. If we each try to think about how to improve the policies of our own government we might be able to make some significant changes. If we start to think about solving our own problems in ways that are in everyone’s best interest, then the level of conflict might decrease. We can only work with what we have.

As far as I can tell none of us has the capability of directly commanding any particular behavior on the part of our government.
But we ought to be able to talk about it, and be free to objectively look at what is going on. You aren’t even arguing over the facts, you generated close to 40 comments arguing over politically correct language. It’s time to learn to ignore irrelevant distractions and the unending noise of the ongoing social dissonance.

November 21st, 2007, 2:03 am


why-discuss said:


And when Israel or Hungary, as a state, does something bad, do you hold all Hungarians and Jews responsible

Yes, I hold them responsible.. Israelis have to bear the consequences of what their state does, because they are in a democracy as you have been claiming for the last 2000 posts. Israelis have free speach, they elect their governement and they can change it, while most arab coutries live in autoritarian regimes and cannot be held responsible of their governement.
I do not hold the Jews in the world as totally responsible but as many support the Israeli governement blindly, they bear some responsibility in the consequences of the mistakes done by Israel.

November 21st, 2007, 4:13 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

JBELLO, great comment.

November 21st, 2007, 5:34 am


why-discuss said:

Ahmadinejad refused to meet Cousseran. The french are just finding out that hitting Iran with Sarkozy threatening Iran of unilateral european sanctions and ignoring Syria’s importance for a Lebanon settlement will lead them nowhere. i guess they will make a u-turn soon.

November 21st, 2007, 6:40 am


ausamaa said:

Dear All,

ISRAELIGUY and ANOTHERISRAELIGUY are simply trying to divert attention from the issues at hand and are perhaps trying -unsuccessfuly- to taint or cloud this site.

Arabs are the MOST carefull people about making distinctions between the three words-concepts: Jews, Israel and Zionism. I think Arabs understand the distinction very well and try to HIGHLIGHT it all the time. Guys like AIG, IG and AP are trying to do exactly the opposit so that they keep manipulating the situation to “taint” others and to exonerate and give “ligitemacy” to Israel’s steady criminal acts.

The reasons are very clear to whoever knows anything about anything related to the Middle East and to Israel’s interest in maintaining the usual grip on the US MSM and on the political awareness and the perception’s of Israel held by of the average American person.

So better is to do like many others and either skip over such comments, or, refuse to respond to it because its a waste of time at best.

November 21st, 2007, 7:13 am


Alex said:


I think we can not ignore any issue “they” raise. Some are interesting, some are legitimate. Besides, they represent some real points of view in Israel that we can not wish away.

I am very comfortable with Israeliguy’s approach. I have no problem with AP because he posts one or two comments a day … annoying perhaps, but not very aggressive or rude on a personal level.

But the frequency and intensity of AIG’s comments were certainly a major reason why we consistently went off track in our discussions here ever since he started posting.

We should all try to stop redundancy and excessive negativity. Simohurta already agreed to play along with new rules.

We can still enjoy your sarcastic remarks though : )


As for Lebanon’s update:

It seems Syria has three acceptable candidates.

To simplify things, they are all called Michel.

Michel Aoun
Michel Suleiman
Michel Edde

Walid Jumblatt said he does not even need to look at the list of names of candidates … he approves anyone as long as Lebanon can avoid conflict … ??!

And … in these last decisive days … Washington and Saudi Arabia seem to be out of the loop. The more active capitals are Paris, Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran … not surprisingly, those who do not refuse to talk to their adversaries and opponents.

November 21st, 2007, 7:55 am


Disaffection said:

and a final note on that “distraction/diversion” discussion… thought some might find an interesting read. (not for the faint hearted. only for the islamo-fascist) 🙂

“Whenever Israel comes under international pressure to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict diplomatically or on account of its human rights violations, it revives the extravaganza called The New Anti-Semitism. In 1974 the Anti-Defamation League, an Israel lobby group in the U.S., put out a book called The New Anti-Semitism and in 1981 it put out another book called The Real Anti-Semitism. Right after the new intifada began, the Israel lobby again started with The New Anti-Semitism. The purposes of this agitprop are pretty obvious: to delegitimize all criticism of Israel as motivated by anti-Semitism and to turn the perpetrators into the victims. It seems to have less effect in recent years due to overuse: once you start calling Jimmy Carter an anti-Semite, people really begin to wonder.”

as for Lebanon, from what i gather, the March 14 and co seem to have toned down their act. Gmayel meeting up with Aoun and Jumblatt wanting to get this over with. I guess everyone is desperately trying to get this over with. Watched satirical sketch on Tele Leban channel the other night. It completely reflected the state of confusion everyone is in. Is there gonna be a govt, isnt there be a govnt?? whos the next president and what characteristics should he have? The answer to that last one was someone with no smell, colour or taste. Can’t remember what the name of the program was. Quite funny and well acted.

November 21st, 2007, 10:29 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

This time the Asad blackmail will not succeed. The Lebanese understand that tyrants need to be confronted head on, because just like black mailers, they keep raising the price.

And whatever happens, Syria will end up more isolated since the Europeans have been given a clear sense of how obstructive and ruthless Asad is.

The Americans and Israelis have sent a clear signal that they are willing to risk a war in order in order to confront Asad. Let’s see if Asad is just as willing. If he makes one mistake in Lebanon, that may be the end of his regime.

November 21st, 2007, 12:09 pm


Antoun said:

It’s a disadvantage living in Australia, I’m always a day behind your discussions.

Sorrying for drifting the topic away from Arab-Israeli tit-for-tats, but I’d like to bring attention back to Syria – Jordan relations.

Since Syria is looking for cards vis-a-vis Israel, why has it not re-attempted opening the Jordan file? The Syrians suffered a defeat in 1969-1970 when Israeli forces flushed them out, but should that have signalled a total closure of the Jordanian card?

I’m simply looking at this from a Syrian perspective. Half of Jordan’s population are Palestinian, oppositional sentiment to the Hashemite leadership is strong, Jordan is as weak as Lebanon, and provides direct access to the West Bank and Israel … why would Syria not try to forment instability in this country?

Its ally, Saddam Hussein, no longer walks the earth, the Hashemites have long been rivals of the Saudi royal family, the American influence in the region is in decline, I would assume that re-opening the Jordan file would at least be on the table for consideration in Damascus.

No doubt, Jordan serves as a thorn in Syria’s side, yet Damascus has avoided opening a front in Amman where it could easily find allies, particularly among Jordan’s Palestinians, as it has in Lebanon with the Shi’ites.


November 21st, 2007, 12:42 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thank you for highlighting the destabilization aspects of the Asad regime. Are you really supporting instigating unrest in Jordan:
“why would Syria not try to forment instability in this country?”

How would you view a foreign power arming the Kurds in Syria? Does that look like a legitimate course of action to you?

November 21st, 2007, 12:59 pm


Antoun said:


First, from a Lebanese point of view, if Syria sticks its nose in elsewhere, it might mean we get a bit of a break.

Second, I was asking the question from a Syrian perspective, a move that may serve Syria’s immediate interests in the region.

Third, since when did legitimacy have any influence on what occurs in the region? Israel has been violating everything “legitimate” about the region since its inception. Is it “legitimate” in your eyes that Israel can do as it pleases and ignore international conventions, while the rest must play by the rules?

November 21st, 2007, 1:42 pm


Disaffection said:

Antoun, good point. Although Jordan is probably considered weaker than Lebanon from Asads perspective. as you rightfully pointed out, the population proportion in Jordan,as far as i know its even more than just 50% Palestinians compared to Jordanians. Its probably around the 70% mark. Perhaps Asad finds Jordan as an open and closed case considering on the volume of natural resources Jordan depends on Syria. nevertheless… good point.
One way of the regime is looking at it is probably not wanting to destabilize yet another front on the Syrian border. one is enough. Plus King Abdulla could come in handy one day. IF he can be the Jordanian Lahoud version. why fix it when its not broken. right? perhaps im pushing it though.
As for the Kurds question… Kurds in Syria are far less than they are in Turkey, Iraq or Iran. Arming them would be suicide. They have bigger fish to fry anyway. Turkey has proved to be a handful.
For a foreign power to arm Kurds in the ME isn’t quite legitimate unless their being persecuted. But then an International Law abiding foreign powers are suppose to uphold certain values and so on. while assad is a lawless Dictator. one cant have equally high expectations.

November 21st, 2007, 1:45 pm


ausamaa said:


You have my vote for the post of United Nations Ambassador if you ever decide to run for it anytime.

You have what it takes. Patience and Diplomacy!

November 21st, 2007, 1:54 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

In recent days, there was a debate on this blog about the Jewish refugees from Arab states – a point which was raised mainly by AIG.

Today, NRG, a popular Israeli news site, published a story that sheds some light about the circumstances under which the Jews of Arab countries escaped from their country of origin, around the time of the creation of the State of Israel.

Here’s the report in Hebrew:

And here’s the story in English from a different news source:

Group Wants ‘Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries’

November 21st, 2007, 3:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I was asking from your presepective. If you believe that “anything goes” in the middle east then fine. But don’t complain when the “anything goes” applies to you.

And your post is an example of why we get distracted, because you and others always try to legitimize ant Arab action by pointing to what Israel does. Apart from this being a “two wrongs make a right argument”, the facts you state are usually a false generalization.

Israel accepted the first international rule: The UN partition resolution of November 29 1947. The Arabs rejected it, and THAT is the cause of all the problems in the middle east. First you reject international law becuase you don’t like the result, and then use it as an excuse? Can you get more hypocritical?

November 21st, 2007, 3:24 pm


abraham said:


I’m well aware of the shameful expulsion of Arab Jews from their homes during the upheavel that was created in 1948 by the founding of the state of Israel. However, in the great scheme of things, this issue will get no traation whatsoever until the

These people should either be allowed to return to their homes or, if they choose to remain in Israel, they should be given full compensation by their country of origin. This is their right as humans and as enshrined in the Geneva Conventions and other international law.

The question I have for you is do you agree the same options should be given to Palestinians who were expelled from their land during 1948 and throughout the 60 year history of Israel?

November 21st, 2007, 3:38 pm


Alex said:

Thanks Ausamaa!

But I am currently in charge of a more prestigious post. I am junior assistant to the public relations officer in the Montreal office of al-Baath party.


Very interesting question. The answer to that question is that Syria retreated to mostly defensive (and cautious) regional policies since the late eighties. Hafez made peace with King Abdullah at his father’s funeral (King Hussein). Same with Turkey.

Syria can indeed destabilize Jordan if it wanted to. If Bashar was like Bush Jr. he would have done to Jordan what Bush did to Iraq. The late Jordanian king Hussein was the direct supporter of the Syrian Muslim brotherhood campaign of 1979-1982 that included an attempt to assassinate Hafez Assad.

But Jordan is protected by an American/Israeli red line. Syria would not risk crossing that line as long as it does not have to. But if things get really bad in the area … don’t be surprised.

November 21st, 2007, 3:44 pm


abraham said:


Israel accepted the first international rule: The UN partition resolution of November 29 1947. The Arabs rejected it, and THAT is the cause of all the problems in the middle east. First you reject international law becuase you don’t like the result, and then use it as an excuse? Can you get more hypocritical?

Of COURSE “Israel” accepted the partition because “Israel” did not exist but for the partition. So it’s kind of useless and silly to use the creation of the state of Israel itself as somehow a noble expression of goodwill on the part of zionists. After all, they were gifted land that did not belong to them, nor did it belong to those who gifted it.

As explained many times before, it was not the right of the international body to partition a land already inhabited by a civilization. If two wrongs do not make a right, then one wrong doesn’t either.

The land given to Israel was called Palestine, and had hundreds of thousands of Arabs living there already. This is an indisputable fact (though I’m sure you’ll find some way to dispute it).

As for your accusation that Antoun “legitimizes” Arab actions, he’s doing no such thing. In this context, he’s merely pointing out how hypocritical Israel’s actions are.

Antoun said:

Is it “legitimate” in your eyes that Israel can do as it pleases and ignore international conventions, while the rest must play by the rules?

With dozens of unresolved UNSC resolutions (I’ve posted some and linked to the others many times already, so I know you are aware of them) any complaints the Israelis have about Arab actions are trite and obnoxious.

It’s simple, really: if Israel was the “Light Unto Nations” that it aspires to be and acted in everything it did according to international law–the same international law that (illegitimately, but nonetheless) was the basis of its founding–then they would be beyond reproach and beyond criticism. And in fact they might actually be accepted by the Arab neighbors.

Facts and reality however prove this to not be the case. Stop blaming Arabs for Israeli mistakes! Stop it! Original sin belongs to Israel and the Western powers that created it. Everything else that comes after is a reaction to that sin.


November 21st, 2007, 3:50 pm


Disaffection said:

you call that prestigious?

November 21st, 2007, 3:52 pm


Alex said:


Don’t start going on the offensive against other commentators

“Can you get more hypocritical?”



At least Syria would love to see all Syrian Jews back … all their properties are there.

November 21st, 2007, 3:53 pm


Alex said:

Disaffection … I was not serious : )

This is what I do in real life

November 21st, 2007, 3:57 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And I must say that you are doing a great job at that post, much better than Imad Moustapha.

So you would not be surprised if Asad causes a civil war in Jordan? Do you see that as a legitimate reaction by the regime to “things getting really bad”, which is what by the way? Getting a president in Lebanon Asad doesn’t like?

All again you are proving that the only strength Syria has under Asad is in its potential to destabilize its neigbors. A classic mafia strategy.

November 21st, 2007, 4:02 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Abraham, if I understand correctly, you live in the US – right?

Now, let me ask you this: do you support that all American citizens, should return to their countries of origin (mostly European countries) and return the land to the original owners – the Native Americans?

I’m sure you’re familiar with US history.
As an American, do you support such a move?

November 21st, 2007, 4:06 pm


Alex said:

A press conference for Frech foreign minister and Amr Moussa (Arab league) in Beirut was just canceled. But they are generally more optimistic today.

It seems there is a possibility Michel Edde (Syria favorite) is gaining support. His name was on the list of candidates proposed by Maronite Patriarch Sfeir.

Saudi Crown Prince Sultan is in Moscow today.

It looks more and more like: France is working on Syria, Moscow is working on the anti-Syria group.

November 21st, 2007, 4:06 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Things are really simple: You either think UN resolutions are legitimate or you think they are not. If you think they are, then you have to accept the partition resolution. If you think they are not, why are you criticizing Israel for not accepting them?

November 21st, 2007, 4:08 pm


Alex said:


Thank you for your support. I was joking in case you did not notice.

I really hope al-Baath does not have a Montreal office.

As for destabilizing Jordan … you decided to read my comment in the most negative way as usual.

I was simply saying that Syria decided not to go on the offensive regionally … but if others try to change the regional balance against Syria’s will, then Syria will react.

I know you are quite sensitive against Syria’s role in the region. But you are an enemy, I understand.

November 21st, 2007, 4:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Right, and it will react by destabilzing another neighbor. Just so we are clear about that and understand the mafia tactics the Asad regime uses.

November 21st, 2007, 4:19 pm


Tareq Majid said:

Dear Joshua. I suggest you publish this article from al-Hayat. It will make your blog more balanced.

Is Syria Really So Unique?
Jana Hybaskova Al-Hayat – 21/11/07//

Situation in the Middle East has not improved substantially since September 2000. September 11 and following Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom operations have not brought positive change. Postcolonial disarray did not allow for Middle Eastern societies to accept modernity, to dress up modern identity as quickly as did the Central and Eastern European Countries after the fall of Berlin Wall.

Democratization process thus cannot be achieved through minimal adjustments of the existing political systems, allowing for a bit more respect for individual human rights, easier registration of NGOs or even political parties, or more open electoral systems. The real change is about holistic approach to modernity: development of economic, social, educational systems, industrialization, taxation, open market and deep transformation of justice and legal affaires or enforcement of law. There is no quick fix or shortcut for the Middle East. Only a series of patient, perfectly tailored, well controlled, effective small steps can allow for achieving basic level of stabilization, which can in middle term period lead to progressive modernization and general improvement.

With such presumption the Mashreq delegation of the European parliament recently traveled to Syria. The purpose was to learn in depth current situation inside Syria, its political and economic reforms, social situation, regional role of Syria, relations with Lebanon, freedom of expression, situation of minorities and individual human rights situations, situation of dissidents. The other aim was to asses: what we, the European parliamentarians, can directly do, what could be these perfectly tailored small steps that we can come up with and recommend on European basis, what parts of budget we approve can, what kind of policy we can recommend to the Council and the Commission.

At the heart of our work was to get a clear answer to the question whether to ratify or not the EU association agreement with Syria. To open up more, to bring current Syria closer, to end our so far firm NO, in political terms to listen more to German or French Socialist voice. It is true that the EU Mediterranean policy is still far bigger arena for Socialists than for Christian Democrats. The head of delegation, Beatrice Patrie, is a member of the French Socialist Party. Natural tendency among its members was hence to bring home some good news, to recommend ratification, to embark for general opening.

Promises given after the Baath party Congress in June 2005 served as the launch pad for assessment. We started questioning economic development. Staying in the new hotel Four Seasons in Damascus, we saw new shopping molls, with Porsche cars, beautifully dressed young ladies, accompanied by even better dressed young businessmen. In meeting with the vice PM Mr. Dardari, we asked many questions linked to the Syrian economy. He replied: “It is good for Europeans to invest here, otherwise all will be in China, you know, our economy is growing very fast.” Neither had he mentioned how it comes if two largest telecom rivals are actually owned by same proxy to ruling family. “What about the budget? Is it public?” “Yes. This year we will publish general state budget.” “Including military expenditures?” “Yes, including general expenditures, of course, no details.” “How can one get it?” “Every citizen can write a letter to the Parliament, or to the Ministry of Finance, and will get the answer.” My advice to Syrians: please, write letters to Mr. Dardari, asking for general budget of the Republic of Syria. I asked whether the Damascus Declaration members are consulted in debates about economic reform and I got a strange answer. “Syria is a special country; we can not have freedom of press comparable to Europe.” Long explanation followed, why the freedom of press in Syria must be totally different form Europe.

Administrative reform, meaning necessary decentralization, power to regions, would be of great benefit for Syria. “Where are we with promises of the last congress?” No administrative reform has started. It is being negotiated in the Syrian parliament. “When is it due?” No answer. The law on political pluralism allowing for registration rival political bodies to Baath party was promised as well by the president during the congress. “When is the draft due?” No answer.

Anything we touched, answer was similar. Syria is different. Syria is unique. As such it quite clearly can not be a normal, equal member of the international community, of community of states in the Middle East. Syria is so different that it can pursue its relations with its neighborhood differently than normal states. It reserves for itself the right to interfere, to collaborate openly with terrorists. With its fragile perception of uniqueness it painted itself into the corner: “there is no peace without Syria.” Message given was clear: “you, Europe, you can do anything in the Middle East. You can talk to Lebanon, work on Israeli Palestinian issue. You can try to stop extremism, support Arab Initiative. If you do it without accepting unique Syrian conditions, we will destroy any of your efforts. We will not allow you to bring any peace to the region. There is no peace without Syria.

Modernity, modern identity can come only in a Syrian way. So prepared we entered presidential palace. President Assad was elaborating his ideas: “Iran is our friend already from the period of Iraqi-Iranian war. Iran stays with us. You, Europe, you left us. We do not see any reason why not continue our friendship with Iran. Iran has the right for civilian nuclear power. It has the right for civilian enrichment. The time is not ripe for improving relations with Lebanon. Having embassy there would be a sign of good relations. There are many Lebanese hostile to Syria. If I had the embassy in Beirut I would close it,” said the president. “We want to continue talks with Israel, please tell them. There is no peace without Syria.”

“Mr. President, what about Michel Kilo, Anwar Bunni, Kamil Labwani? Are you ready to grant them pardon?” “They met in Lebanon, where they co-signed the invitation letter to Americans to occupy Syria. Till they confess it, I will not let them go out of prison.” “And role of Russia?” “EU does not recognize the idea that there will be no peace without Syria. EU plays no role. Russia represents a good balance.” There was no sign of interaction, readiness to listen, to collaborate, to quit uniqueness, to be normal modern state of the normal modern Middle East. Officials, whom we met, do not represent modernity. They represent the opposite: keeping Syria in martial law, in hostile relations with Lebanon and Israel, collaboration with terrorism, economic racketeering, and open door to Russian military presence.

Later we met officially with Ryiad Sayfi, and others, Muslims, Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, representing the Damascus Declaration. Even though facing terrible repercussions, they were grateful to meet us. “This meeting gives us a lot of recognition.” I realized that we have to find, to nourish, and to work with alternative partners. Well tailored, result oriented democratic cooperation with the conglomerate of dissidents group, now unified under umbrella of the Damascus Declaration, represents thus for me modern solution for making Syria part of the peace.

Jana Hybaskova is a member of the European Parliament.

November 21st, 2007, 4:19 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


Al-Baath does not have a Montreal office.
Out Mossad Montreal office was looking into the matter and found no evidence that al-Baath has offices in Montreal.

: )

November 21st, 2007, 4:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Montreal is not what it used to be. Many of the Jews moved to Toronto.
That is why I suspect that the Baath has offices in Montreal since their specialty is getting Jews to leave. It is a clear connection 🙂

November 21st, 2007, 4:33 pm


alle said:

Swedish national public radio just reported that the country’s biggest telecommunications company (Ericsson) is being investigated for bribing politicians all over the world, including Jamal Khaddam (son of Abdelhalim), in the late 1990s. He was supposedly paid four million SEK from secret Swiss accounts in order to influence the market/politics in Lebanon, between 1997 and 2001. At the same time, the Ericson stock is dropping fast, and more seems certain to follow.

Swedish texts and online radio here:

November 21st, 2007, 4:53 pm


Alex said:


This summer I had a visit from an ex-Canadian friend of mine. She converted to Judaism two years ago when she wanted to Marry Isaac … a rebellious Hasidic Jew from NJ… he still lives within his community, but he has a Plasma TV and Internet connection, and he wears regular clothing.

I took them both to dinner at a Montreal restaurant called Rumi … the two owners are two ex-Hasidic Jews who converted to … Sufi Islam.

We had a 7-hour conversation that was priceless.

November 21st, 2007, 4:55 pm


Friend in America said:

This article was posted on Reuters Foundation Alert website about 1 hour prior to this posting.

By Nadim Ladki
BEIRUT, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s main anti-Syrian Christian leader accused Syria and its allies on Wednesday of blocking a deal on a new president by threatening chaos if their preferred candidate was not elected.
“Syria and its allies have shut the door on consensus despite all our efforts,” Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces group, told Reuters.
“The only actual remaining solution is for all deputies to go to Friday’s session to elect a president,” he said. “Let Syria and its allies agree on a certain candidate and we will agree on a candidate and go to parliament.”
Many in Lebanon fear that failure to elect a consensus president will lead to rival administrations, one loyal to Syria and the other Western-backed, and spark violence.
The presidential standoff is the latest stage in Lebanon’s worst internal crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
Geagea’s remarks appeared to indicate that Lebanon’s political rivals remained deadlocked 48 hours before parliament is due to meet on Friday to elect a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term ends the same day.
The vote has been postponed four times to give French-led mediation efforts more time to push leaders of the Western-backed majority coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition to agree on a compromise candidate.
A deal has so far proved elusive, despite comments on Tuesday night by pro-Syrian officials that progress was being made towards an agreement.
“We reject any foreign interference in Lebanese affairs. Syria’s candidate for the presidency is the one the Lebanese reach consensus upon,” Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal said in Damascus.
Earlier on Wednesday one of Geagea’s anti-Syrian allies, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, urged both sides to make concessions and warned of bloodshed if there was no deal. “My advice to everyone and to the Christians especially is to protect civil peace in Lebanon … which requires everyone to make concessions,” Jumblatt told As-Safir newspaper.
“The people won’t be merciful to us and they won’t forgive us over a single drop of blood that falls in the street. What is required of us is to get out of this dark tunnel quickly and any deal makes civil peace the winner,” he said.
It was not clear if Jumblatt’s call for all sides to compromise indicated any disagreements among the anti-Syrian coalition.
The opposition has said it would not go to parliament unless there is agreement on a single candidate. The ruling coalition holds a small majority but the opposition argues that the election requires a two-thirds quorum.
Geagea said chances were very bleak that a deal would be reached in the next 24 hours despite mediation efforts and French talks with Damascus.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has been in Beirut since Sunday on his sixth trip since taking office in May.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Chief of Staff, Claude Gueant, met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday and Sarkozy himself spoke to Assad by telephone.
Geagea said the majority would wait for “a few hours or a few days” before electing a new head of a state on its own if there was no vote on Friday. The opposition have said such a more would plunge Lebanon into choas. (Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy, editing by Diana Abdallah)

AlertNet news is provided by

November 21st, 2007, 5:04 pm


idaf said:

It’s been quite a busy 48 hours in diplomatic circles in Damascus, and the focus of all this diplomacy is the upcoming Lebanese president.

France is back to realism on Lebanon. One key result of Sarkozy’s trip to the US few weeks ago was France taking back Lebanon into its sphere of influence after two years of being closer to Saudi and the US administration. France knows very well that any lasting solution in Lebanon should include all the internal and external key stakeholders. It is also fully aware that Syria is on the top of the list of external stakeholders in Lebanon to be accommodated as Lebanon’s stability is a matter of national security for Syria, but merely foreign policy and power for other stakeholders such as Saudi and the US administration.

This is why since Sarkozy’s “massage of American ego” in his speech to the congress, he got a freehand in Lebanon and immediately moved to full engagement with Damascus to reach a sustainable solution to Lebanon’s presidency.

Yesterday, Sarkozy called his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, reopening top-level contacts after a three-year break in a bid end the political crisis in Lebanon. In addition, Sarkozy’s Chief of Staff, Claude Gueant, met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus “to seek support for Paris’s efforts”. Moreover, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, has been to Damascus a couple of times in the past few weeks.

Apparently, this French pragmatism is good for Lebanon. During most of the Syrian time in Lebanon, the Lebanese president was always a Syrian-French compromise. France is back to the formula that worked in the past in Lebanon. This close consultation on the Lebanese president between France and Syria however, caused many in the M14 group to loose sleep at night. Seeing Paris getting closer to Damascus, Hariri is desperately trying to open new channel with an ally of Syria hoping to pull Russia away from Syria. An amateurish step that Russia will definitely try to milk without giving back much to the inexperienced Hariri junior.

Jumblat and Jeajea seem to be the ones to loose most by having a consensus president that most external and internal parties agree on. It is becoming clearer that they are the ones that are blocking this consensus. France’s Kouchner who is struggling in Lebanon to reach a solution was frustrated by “some parties” in Lebanon that are blocking such solution and has threatened to “name the spoilers publicly”. Clearly, he did not mean Aoun and definitely not Syria’s allies Hizbulla and Berri. If the pro-Syria parties were the ones he meant then from the French perspective, there would have been no reason to keep their names secret, on the contrary this would’ve make it easier for the French to push their candidates for the presidency. Kouchner also added that Syria had “accepted Cardinal Sfeir’s list of potential presidents”.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman confirmed that Syria and Iran are not the spoilers in Lebanon this time. Pascale Andreani denied that Syria or Iran is working to block the Presidential elections in Lebanon. The spokeswoman demanded in a statement Tuesday non engagement in such disputes on this subject.

Kouchner’s threat was clearly targeted at someone in the March 14 camp (Jumblat and maybe Jeajea). This threat has worked with Jumblat and in the last few days he stopped launching his anti-Syria and anti-opposition inflammatory statements, and for the first time, Jumblat obediently started to act reasonable. He accepted Sfeir’s list and started talking about concessions to reach an agreement on the president instead of his usual daily inflammatory rhetoric.

France has a tough job saving Lebanon from a potential civil war scenario. Many external and internal parties have managed to torpedo earlier attempts by the Arab League, the EU and the UN. It seams that the French are doing a good job so far. They do understand the Lebanese “system” better and they follow a realist and pragmatic approach. It seems that the neo-conservative elements in the US administration have accepted defeat in Lebanon. If so then this would mean a diminishing Saudi role as well in the power struggles in Lebanon to the benefit of French and Syrian influence. This has worked well in the past to a certain extent in the Lebanese “arena”. In the future, if the Lebanese public would not abandon their sectarian Zai’m culture, and opt instead for an independent, secular and powerful president (like Michel Oun) then Lebanon will continue to be an “arena” for power struggle in the Middle East for France, US, Israel, Saudi, Syria, Iran and other powerful players in the Middle East, as was the case since the country’s creation.

November 21st, 2007, 5:14 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, feel free to elaborate on that conversation.
Sounds interesting : )

November 21st, 2007, 5:18 pm


abraham said:


Now, let me ask you this: do you support that all American citizens, should return to their countries of origin (mostly European countries) and return the land to the original owners – the Native Americans?

a. You are employing your typical tactic of changing the subject.

b. Once again you are dredging up what could be classified as ancient history. I’m speaking of events in the modern era when international laws and conventions were in effect, and you’re talking about an era of time that we study in history books only, not something that is contemporary.

c. I have made my position clear on many occasions. Either:

1. Create one, secular, truly democratic state for all Arabs and Israelis to exist peacefully as one nation or

2. All non-indigenous Jews who illegally immigrated into Palestine since 1948 should go back to their respective countries of origin, and those countries should do their part to accept these returnees and compensate them.

Since 1. is by far the easiest choice, as well as the most moral, I expect you to choose that option since I don’t expect 2. is very palatable.

Unfortunately, these are the only options that Israelis have to live in peace as far as I’m concerned. Or, you may continue the status quo, hoping for a better option, but as I’ve said repeatedly, time is running out, and option 2 will eventually become the only choice and a forced decision. I’m quite confident of this prediction.

November 21st, 2007, 5:25 pm


Asim MA, San Antonio said:

Being a hard core zionist whose loyalty is to no other than the racist apartheid miltaristic occypying theocracy-israel, Ross’s opinions on any thing that has to do with the Arab World is severly distorted and biased-he is not a qualified witness at all.

Assads’ historical analogy: betryal of the Arabs by British colonialism post WW11 vs the new American crude colonialism of invading and actually partitioning of Iraq along secetrian lines and polarizing the Arab World thru its “moderate” Arab stooges,is very accurate.

Ross’s blind and vulagar bias to his israeli kin during israeli-Palestinian negotiations under the Clinton administration,is well known and spakes for itself.

November 21st, 2007, 6:02 pm


Alex said:


I agree with your analysis.

Today, for the first time .. the American ambassador met with Syrian Christian ally Suleiman Frangiyeh.

Jumblat specifically said: Implementing international resolutions can not be at the cost of Lebanese blood.

November 21st, 2007, 6:05 pm


why-discuss said:

IDAF, very good insights.

The 3 Michel are the most probable candidates. Michel Aoun, Michel Sleiman, Michel Edde. The 3 of them are to various degrees accepted by the Shia and Sunni opposition, Sfeir and the maronites neutral and opposition and disliked by the 14 mars crowd.
In view of the mellowing of the US intervention in Lebanon in favor of a Sarkozy’s initiative and in the absence of Chirac’s Hariri support, Hariri jr seems to give in to an opposition-syria-leaning president on a deal (maybe with the french, the US and Russia) that he will get the job of prime minister that he wants. The 14 Mars seems to be in dissaray with the new balance in the regional alliances playing in favor of the opposition.
The next war will be the new government, and that is a more crucial war than the one of the president.
The saga of lebanon is continuing…

November 21st, 2007, 6:14 pm


Alex said:


At first it was confusing .. trying to be politically correct with a liberal Hasidic Jew and conservative Sufi ex-Hasidic Jews … I kept forgetting the background of each… who is a Jew and who is a Muslim … they all spoke English with the same heavy accent … but two were “muslims” … they told me they dream of living in Damascus were many Sufi masters are buried.

Isaac was a bit unhappy that they converted to Sufi Islam .. but they reminded him that his wife converted to Judaism …

But face-to-face communications is much easier than online … it was very friendly despite the crazy mix we had in that group… at the beginning I played a moderator there, then they became friends.

Sense of humor works well… without it small disagreements can get out of control.

Isaac had identical concerns to Akbar Palace’s concerns … terror groups, Damascus Madrassas …

I did my Baathi PR job well though : )

November 21st, 2007, 6:24 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Asim Ma said:

Being a hard core zionist whose loyalty is to no other than the racist apartheid miltaristic occypying theocracy-israel, Ross’s opinions on any thing that has to do with the Arab World is severly distorted and biased-he is not a qualified witness at all.

Asim Ma,

Thank you for your colorful description of Dennis Ross and his “severely distorted…bias”.

Dennis Ross’s two “originial sins” must be that he is a Jew in the US government who has the audacity to accepts Israel’s legitimacy and right to exist.

Which begs the question: Is any participant in negotiations with Israel guilty of “bias”?

Dennis Ross’s bio:

Alex comments:

I did my Baathi PR job well though : )

Yes Alex. I nominate you for a high position in the Assad government-for-life. If you get in, it must be a position that offers good benefits from “cradle-to-grave”.

BTW, I finished my first poster for the upcoming Annapolis photo-op.

It was pretty easy to paint on a big white bed sheet:

“Bush was Right”

November 21st, 2007, 6:56 pm


abraham said:


The content of AP’s posting is equivalent in nature to the one by Asim Ma that you deleted. I hope you are consistent with your editorial policy in this case.

November 21st, 2007, 7:02 pm


Alex said:


Yes, Denis Ross is biased. Kissinger was biased too … Kissinger’s conversations are declassified now … in 1973 he was trying to get Israel the best deal when he negotiated with Hafez… he was coordinating tactics with the Israelis.

But they were both reasonable … despite their relative bias to Israel. The Syrians rarely expect a 100% neutral American envoy.

Maybe Baker was the most neutral.

November 21st, 2007, 7:06 pm


Alex said:

Abraham (and those who did not notice that I just deleted a comment by ASim MA),

I first removed Asim’s original comment (still above) from the spam filter … it was stuck there. Before I released it, I edited out the parts were he was attacking Jews. I thought it was a discrete way to let him know our rules here.

Then he came back with a louder repetition of the same message … again with the “Jews” part .. I removed that word (before theocracy) .. then I realized he also had a link to some sales and marketing site which he claimed it is a page that is relevant to the point he was making.

That’s when I decided to remove the whole comment.

Abraham … I agree with your opinion above that we need to look at today, not at old history.

November 21st, 2007, 7:16 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


1. Justice

Is there an expiry date on justice?
When your people take a land which does not belong to them, is it right? Is it fair?

Does it matter if it happened 5, 50 or 500 hundred years ago?
Justice is justice – isn’t it?

Even both our ancient holy books, the bible and the Quran could point out the difference between right and wrong and these are really ancient books.

If a Native American will approach you and ask you to leave your country, since you’re sitting on his land – isn’t he right?

2. International laws and conventions

The recognized institution for international law is the UN.
Now, let’s take a trip down history lane and see how Israel responded to UN decisions and how the Arabs did – around the time Israel was created.

The United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

You see, it’s the UN which decided that a Jewish state should be established!

Now, should UN decisions be respected by everybody or just by Israel?
You can’t hold the stick from both ends: either UN resolutions are binding or they don’t!

If the Arabs didn’t respect this major UN decision – why do you expect Israel to respect the ones that followed?

The Arabs have taught us that these UN resolutions mean nothing to them, why should they mean a lot to us?

Wasn’t it during modern era, when international laws and conventions were in effect – when the Arabs rejected this UN resolution and waged war on Israel?

November 21st, 2007, 7:45 pm


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex siad: “I kept forgetting the background of each… who is a Jew and who is a Muslim … they all spoke English with the same heavy accent … but two were “muslims” ”

LOL, that must have been funny… : )

November 21st, 2007, 7:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Haven’t you learned anything? They were all Jews, some of them Muslim ones.

November 21st, 2007, 8:11 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The Syrians rarely expect a 100% neutral American envoy.

Alex –

You mean the Syrians don’t expect an American envoy who believes Israel is illegitimate and has no right to self-defence??

If that’s true, I have much more respect for the Syrian leadership; they’re smarter than I thought.

Please let those guys know they’re on the right track! Kudos!

November 21st, 2007, 8:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

November 21st, 2007, 8:38 pm


Alex said:


I removed your last comment. I do not want you to monitor this blog.

November 21st, 2007, 8:46 pm


Alex said:


There is no way to get you to notice the moderate parts?

“But they were both reasonable … despite their relative bias to Israel”

November 21st, 2007, 8:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am not monitoring the blog, I am pointing out a racist comment when I see it. If you think that the comment is not racist, just say so, why censor my comment?

November 21st, 2007, 8:59 pm


Alex said:


It does not matter what I think about his comment. There is no time and no need to get stuck in analyzing the motivations of each commentator here. I’ll edit what I can, the rest … try to tolerate it. The same way others will try to tolerate what they don’t like from your side.

Lebanon news,

Lahhod says he will take some measures in case a president in not agreed upon by Friday.

وقال لحود في كلمة وجهها إلى اللبنانيين مساء الأربعاء بمناسبة الذكرى الرابعة والستين للاستقلال “أي إجراء يمكن أن أتخذه إذا ما تعذر علي تسليم مسؤوليتي الدستورية إلى رئيس وفاقي تلتف حوله الغالبية العظمى من اللبنانيين، سيعكس إرادتكم في أن يبقى وطنكم مرفوع الرأس وعالي الجبين، وقويا ومتماسكا، ولا مكان لضعف في انتمائه العربي والقومي أو تردد في خياراته الإستراتيجية”.

Also, Hariri and Aoun met today.

November 21st, 2007, 10:49 pm


fadal said:

Alex said:


Are you interested in a deal?

I will not tolerate Simohurta, Abraham, Ausamaa and YOU

Or I will tolerate all.

There are many ways to ensure that our discussions here are positive and constructive if that is what you want me to do.


November 21st, 2007, 11:03 pm


fadal said:

i am not commenting here any more.

November 21st, 2007, 11:04 pm


Majhool said:

They Blocked Facebook! Shame. My ageing mom in Idleb used to wake up everyday and check my son’s latest pictures, our messages, etc..

I was starting to bulid faith in the regime and this facebook thing blew it off. I am now imparessed from all the positive positions i was starting to take in the past few months.

If this is true, a regime with this mentality will fail to add any value, short term and long term. Sorry Alex

November 21st, 2007, 11:10 pm


Alex said:

Baseeta Majhool : )

November 21st, 2007, 11:14 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Don’t give up blogging here. If you have something to say, say it. The worst that can happen is that it will be deleted. So what? And in any case Alex is quite lenient. He keeps his Baathist side under control most of the time :). Nobody is perfect.

November 21st, 2007, 11:33 pm


why-discuss said:


There are 1000 sites cloning Facebook. I dont think it is such a big loss. This is the price to pay when to many media talks about a site.
Syrians will just switch to another similar site.

November 22nd, 2007, 12:43 am


abraham said:


Is there an expiry date on justice?

Apparently not, according to Jewish mythology. Zionists came back after thousands of years to claim Palestine based on some old fairy tale. Where do you draw the line?

At any rate, as I’ve already explained, you are comparing camels to goats. Israel was founded in the modern era under modern laws of war and peace. Many consider it to be the last colonialist project (or at least it was until the US invasion of Iraq).

Notwithstanding, in the case of Native Americans, they have come back with a vengeance: they are doing quite nicely with their casinos which they are allowed to operate on their reservations because they are considered sovereign and therefore are unaffected by US law outlawing gambling (except for in Nevada). So they are literally pulling in billions of dollars, and I say more power to them. And if they ever become so powerful with their new wealth that they are able to buy the US and take it over, I say more power to them. Justice will have prevailed.

The difference between you and I, perhaps, is that I do acknowledge the wrong that has been done to them and am shameful of my country’s history. But that was another time, and another place. And it happened way before me or my ancestors came here. You may not claim the same.

Furthermore, that issue is thoroughly settled. The issue of Palestine is not. It is modern, current, and pertinent. And we aren’t done fighting. We are sick of the white man dictating his terms to us. You want the Arabs to just give up. We won’t. We will continue to fight. And we will prevail.

The United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947, dividing the country into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

This is comical. As I’ve already explained, the UN did not have authority to make this decision, which was solely a formulation by major Western powers in a nascent organization. In this case, the UN acted as colonial overseer. Just because it put its stamp of approval on an illegitimate act doesn’t make it moral or right. Heck, one could argue it even violated the UN mandate. Something like this surely would never happen today. It would be seen for what it is: an illegitimate land grab by one ethnic group with no claim whatsoever to the land over another indigenous ethnic group that had been continuously inhabiting the same for generations.

Now, should UN decisions be respected by everybody or just by Israel?

You know as well as I do that Israel is selective about the resolutions by which it abides. It only abides by the ones favorable to Israel and ignores the ones it doesn’t like. It gets away with this because superpowers like the US have traditionally backed Israel’s intransigence. It seems the colonial mentality favors colonizers over indigenous populations. Racism and concepts such “The White Man’s Burden” come into play here.

If the Arabs didn’t respect this major UN decision – why do you expect Israel to respect the ones that followed?

Arabs were right and just to reject the resolution because it usurped land that was rightfully owned and inhabited by them. Only the Palestinian’s have a legitimate claim to the land. The “claim” Western Jews have to Palestine is that an imaginary man in the sky told them in a 4,000 year old book that the land was theirs.

Anyway, there is nothing new here. You are playing typical Israeli semantical games. It is despicable. You argue not only every point but every letter and every punctuation mark to the extent that the whole exercise is rendered pointless and futile. You argue in circles.


Accept a one state solution or a no state solution. The choice is yours.

November 22nd, 2007, 12:58 am


abraham said:

A Zionist here previously claimed that “at least 90% of Jews are Zionists”. This was immediately dismissed as ridiculous. Now, here’s proof of it’s ridiculousness.

A poll of American Jews conducted for the Department of Jewish-Zionist Education by Professor Steven Cohen of Hebrew University and published on March 3, 2004, in The Forward found that only 17% of American Jews consider themselves Zionists.

Since the US has over 4,000,000 Jews and Israel almost 5.5 million, I’d say the “90%” figure is a tad exaggerated as the math doesn’t add up.

The full poll is hosted on the website of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom and can be read here:

It includes additional interesting data.

November 22nd, 2007, 1:17 am


IsraeliGuy said:


1. A native American comes to you and asks you to leave the country, since he’s the rightful owner of the land and you and your ancestors took it away from him.

He doesn’t care about how much money he has in his pockets.
He wants justice… And justice means the land goes back to the original owner.

He says that justice doesn’t have an expiry date and it’s not limited to any specific timeframe, like in copyright laws.

He says you’re sitting on his ancestors’ land and he wants you and you fellow Americans to go back home, to Europe, Syria or wherever you or your ancestors came from.

What will be your reply to him?

(By the way, I can present the same question to some other commentators here, who live in other western countries).

2. Are UN resolutions binding?

What happens when a UN resolution that you don’t like passes?
Do you have to fulfill it, regardless of how you feel about it or do you have the option to decide which resolutions will be respected by you and which ones won’t?

Is there a principle which apply to everybody here or can any country do as it pleases?

Who has the LEGAL authority to determine that the UN has no authority to pass a certain resolution?

Can any country determine that the UN has no authority when the UN accepts a decision that the country doesn’t like or agree with?

November 22nd, 2007, 2:12 am


norman said:

Syria softens its conditions for attending US-sponsored Mideast peace conference
Syria is softening its refusal to attend the Annapolis Mideast peace conference and has already won dividends, including a visit from Jordan’s king that marked an end to its regional isolation. But as it bends, it risks alienating Palestinian militants and its ally Iran. Syria was unlikely to announce a final decision on whether it will go to the conference until after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to be held in Cairo on Friday to map out a joint strategy. Publicly, Syrian officials have said Syria would not go unless its demands for the return of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 war, are addressed. State-run newspapers, which reflect government thinking, continued Wednesday to criticize the conference, calling it “suspicious.”

November 22nd, 2007, 2:21 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks again for proving my point. The Jews naturally interpreted the question “are you a Zionist” as “are you actively working for Israel related causes” because the question, “do you support the existence of a Jewish state” is too obvious. Look at the numbers, well over 90% support the existence of Israel.

November 22nd, 2007, 2:34 am


Alex said:


Sadly, this administration tried for few years to make the UN a tool for legitimizing its own aggressive strategies.

After Powell’s WMD show and after Mehlis … the UN lost a lot of its credibility in the Arab world.

The good news is that for the past year or two there was nothing disappointing at the UN and as a result the credibility is on the way up again.

November 22nd, 2007, 2:36 am


Alex said:

Norman … there is no dramatic change in Syria’s positions … every flexible new position Syria is taking is reversible and contingent on concrete steps taken by the Americans, Saudis, French, or Israelis.

November 22nd, 2007, 2:42 am


IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, as you know, in 1947 the credibility of the UN was very good : )

In your opinion, was it legitimate of the Arab countries to reject the partition resolution which was accepted by the UN, claim that the UN had no authority to pass such resolutions and wage war on Israel?

November 22nd, 2007, 2:48 am


norman said:


I think you will like this one.

لبنانيون لـ إيلاف عن هواجس الرئاسة وما بعدها بيروت، روما، الوكالات: بعدما استنفذت فرنسا شتّى الوسائل من دون أن تثمر حلاً لأزمة الرئاسة في لبنان، تحوّلت جهودها الدبلوماسيًّة إلى دمشق بشخص الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي، الذي اتّصل بنظيره السوريّ بشار الأسد في محاولة أخيرة لحل أزمة الرئاسة في لبنان. من جانبها، استخدمت وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية كوندوليزا رايس سياسة العصا والجزرة مع سوريا واضعة شرط “عدم التّدخل في الانتخابات الرئاسيًّة اللبنانيًّة” مدخلاً وحيدًا “لتحسين العلاقات مع واشنطن”. أما رئيس الحكومة الإيطاليًّة رومانو برودي، فاتّصل بدوره بالأسد واتّفق على “ضرورة مضاعفة الجهود لتشجيع حل يقبل به كل الأطراف”.

وإذ تشير مصادر فرنسية إلى أن دمشق تلعب، عبر حلفائها، دورًا رئيسيّاً لإعطاء دفع لعملية انتخاب رئيس للبنان، وهي العملية التي جعلتها فرنسا من أولوياتها، يرى الفريق المناهض لدمشق أنًّ الاستراتيجية التي تتبعها باريس من شأنها أن تكرس مجددًا تاثير نظام الأسد على لبنان بعد أن أمضت فرنسا والولايات المتحدة سنوات في العمل على تقليصه

November 22nd, 2007, 2:53 am


Akbar Palace said:

Ibrahim states:

Apparently not, according to Jewish mythology. Zionists came back after thousands of years to claim Palestine based on some old fairy tale. Where do you draw the line?

Ibrahim –

We now know that we Zionist imposters are eye deep in mythology and only you jihadists have the truth.

Just one tiny question:

Why would Sura 5.21 of the Koran state:

“Bear in mind the words of Moses to his people. He said: ‘Remember, my people, the favour which God has bestowed upon you. He has raised up prophets among you, made you kings, and given you that which He has given to no other nation. Enter my people, the holy land which God has assigned for you. Do not turn back, and thus lose all.”

I’m betting that little stanza is overlooked or glossed over in most Madrassas sponsored by Hamas and Hezbollah.

One man’s “mythology” is another man’s freedon-fighter;){134C7CDA-8B3A-44A2-AC6C-792B0B25F0EE}

November 22nd, 2007, 3:05 am


why-discuss said:

Olmert’s excitement about Annapolis and his hopes of a palestinian state sound very exagerated. Explanations could be
– Israel is worried about the waiving of the 3 billions they receive each year from the US and the detrimental impact it mays have on Israel economy. The US may have agitated a carrot of more money if they go to Annapolis.

– Israel is worried about the next US president that may not be as lineent as Bush has been with support of the pro-israel neo-cons.

-Al Baradei has decided to counter attack on any attempt to threaten Iran that would impede negotiations that are going very well. Israel is very worried that Iran will remain unpunished and more powerful than ever. Agreeing with the arabs on a Palestinian solution without asking the agreement of Iran, seems the best way to tell Iran to mind its own business as this is a Arab Sunnis-Israe Jewish issue and that the Shias should take their hands off this issue..
Indirectly it is also an attempt to weaken Hezbollah for the same reason.
– The US have had disasters after disasters in their foreign policy that is now impacting their economical stability.
Getting the arabs on their side will allow them to increase their influence in Iraq and they could benefit from the oil business there.
In the same time, they would weaken Iranian influence there by boosting arab iraqi nationalism.

Whether Annapolis brings any result, just having the Saudi talking with the Israelis will be a huge political victory for this embattered US administration.
The question is whether the arabs are ready to gratify the Bush by attending it and photo op or they would prefer to wait for the next decade to make a move to solve this issue.

November 22nd, 2007, 3:06 am


Alex said:

Thanks Norman … yes, i liked it : )

But we’ll see where we land after this wonderful flight.


I have two things to say about 1947

1) Israelis need to put themselves in the Palestinians’ shoes to understand how they felt in the late 40’s … You can not tell them that they “made a mistake” by rejecting the “solution” offered to them at that time … no one will accept losing half his country without being outraged. It was something forced on them .. the only reason that division of Palestine was sustained is that your side proved to be more powerful than the Arab side.

But it is unfair to tell the Palestinians that they made a mistake and that they should have accepted immediately the loss of half their lands. And it is even worse to tell them: too bad .. since you did not accept at the time, therefore we are justified today to do anything we want to do … it is justified because you refused out initial generous offer.

Today, the same offer would sound “generous” .. but you agree with me I hope that power, and not strict international laws are at play between you and Palestinians. Because today Israel (plus its solid backer, the Untied States) is highly powerful, the same offer to withdraw from occupied Arab lands would be considered very reasonable from Israels side.

The other thing that changed since then, is obviously the fact you are much more settled today than you were in 1947 .. Many Palestinians accepted this fact … in pre-1967 borders.

2) I, personally, have a different opinion from many of the Arab commentators here. they might hate me if I tell them that I would not call for the right of return … not fully and not for now. The reason is that it won’t work. I know Israelis are united against this one. The Palestinians will not have a deal with Israel if they maximize their demands on this issue.

But here is why I am comfortable with compromising to some degree on the right of return for now … in 10,20 or 30 years .. borders will practically disappear … a least between pairs of countries … like Israel/Palestine and Jordan for example. It won’t make a difference what number of Palestinian refugees were allowed back into “Israel” today … If we stop the hostilities today … within a decade or two we will probably forget about all these discussion we are having today and get on with our lives as if there is nothing to fear from the other side… by then, Israelis will blend smoothly into their environment.

Look at Syrian Turkish relations which “flipped” from the 90’s to today … from hate to love. The turks who used to Hate the Assads today love Bashar .. he is th most popular foreign leader in Turkey. In Syria we used to hate the Turks … Syrian TV programs often showed the Ottoman occupation as a savage power that killed and tortured Syrians. Today … there is no trace of that.

November 22nd, 2007, 3:13 am


Syrian said:


UN General Assembly resolutions are non-binding (such as 181). UNSC resolutions are legally binding instruments. We especially like this one.

November 22nd, 2007, 3:13 am


norman said:

Nothing will happen in the US peace meeting , They will meet , have a picture , come out promising solution to the Palestinian misery , in return the Arab countries will lift sanction against Israel and open economic relations behind the seen of their Arab population only for Israel and the US to forget all that after they get normalization of relation and blame Hamas , Syria or even Lebanon for lack of progress , It is sad that the Arabs seem to continue the same mistakes time and time again they offer concessions for hope of a Palestinian solution , only to be disappointed , It is time for the US and Israel to offer concession before any more showing of good intention from the Arab side , That is if the Arab can learn.

November 22nd, 2007, 3:34 am


norman said:

But here is why I am comfortable with compromising to some degree on the right of return for now … in 10,20 or 30 years .. borders will practically disappear … a least between pairs of countries … like Israel/Palestine and Jordan for example. It won’t make a difference what number of Palestinian refugees were allowed back into “Israel” today … If we stop the hostilities today … within a decade or two we will probably forget about all these discussion we are having today and get on with our lives as if there is nothing to fear from the other side… by then, Israelis will blend smoothly into their environment

Alex ,

That is exactly why Israel does not want peace , Peace will make Israel the Jewish state none existence as it goes against globalization .

November 22nd, 2007, 3:42 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex and Norman,
There has been peace between the Arab countries for how long? Have the borders disappeared?

When Israelis start buying real estate in Damscus as per your “open border dreams” I am sure no one will object in Damascus. And when Israelis start opening companies to sell in the Arab countries, there will be zero back lash. Sorry that I cannot be as optimistic as you. It will take the Arabs generations to feel confident enough to open their countries to Israelis. This is sad but true.

November 22nd, 2007, 5:36 am


Alex said:


There has been a couple of treaties signed with two easy Arab leaders. You avoided the hardliners so far … Sadat and King Hussein do not speak for the real Arab world. Making peace with them did not solve the problems of the Egyptian people, the Palestinians and .. did not find address the other problems int he Middle East.

Palestinians still suffer everyday under the occupation. When that goes away .. when Saudi Arabia stops spending 40 billions on arms deals and invest that money instead in Palestine, then the Palestinian youth will be busy setting up new businesses and studying instead of attending funerals for their friends who were shot by Israeli soldiers… there won’t be images of those funerals on Aljazeera and young Egyptians will instead watch news of the Cairo Economic Forum…

Unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and south Lebanon were big mistakes. Peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan were small mistakes (with some benefits) … the right approach is to look at the whole region and plan for the post peace era properly … in a way that benefits all, not only yourself.

And that includes making today’s authoritarian rulers commit to concrete steps of political reforms in their respective countries … small steps over the next decade for example.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:05 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I really don’t understand what you are talking about. There has been peace between the US and Mexico for a very long time. Have there been open borders? No.
There could be trade agreements but not open borders.
And the Saudi’s are not buying the weapons against Israel.
What you describe can only happen when there are true liberal democracies in the Arab world. You are slowly converging on my solution.
And the right approach is not to plan for the whole region. That never works. The right approach is to unleash the creativeness of the Arabs through democracy and see the middle east prosper. Top down planning does not work as communism proved.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:13 am


Alex said:

The distance from Tel Aviv to Amman is a bit shorter than the distance from Mexico city to Washington DC… the challenges for the countries in the Middle East are not the same like those for the United States and Mexico … Europe is an example that is half way between your example (US Mexico) and mine (Israel, Palestine, Jordan) …

Waiting for the “unleashing the creativity of the Arabs” will not be an option. You’ll see… the options will be … more chaos or peace talks… they will go for more and more peace talks (I hope) … all I am proposing is that they do their homework this time … a peace agreement is a regional issue no matter between which two countries it is signed.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:30 am


idaf said:

US commander gives part credit to Syria for military gains in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The number of foreign combatants with Al-Qaeda ties in Iraq is down markedly in recent months, top US commander David Petraeus said in an interview published Wednesday, thanks largely to “more robust” interdiction efforts by Syria.

“We have a formula to estimate how many foreign fighters come in a month. We think there’s been a reduction by a third or maybe more than that,” Petraeus told The Wall Street Journal.

“In general, the intelligence is that we have seen a reduction in that flow,” he said.

In the past, the United States has accused Damascus of failing to do enough to stem the flow of foreign fighters across its shared border with Iraq.

Now however, although the US general attributed the reduction to “no single factor,” he credited efforts by Damascus in large part.

“There does appear to have been more robust action by Syria against some foreign fighter networks,” said Petraeus, who cited efforts “to make it harder for military-age males to travel from a city to Damascus on a one-way airticket.”

Petraeus said Syria also has moved “to tighten the border ports of entry to Iraq, to look at traditional smuggling routes.”

Those inroads, among other factors, have helped brighten US prospects of subduing the stubborn Al-Qaeda-fed insurgency in Iraq.

While the terror network “remains a very significant element of the security situation in Iraq … it is a threat that has been diminished over the past six to eight months in particular,” Petraeus told the Wall Street Journal.

November 22nd, 2007, 10:47 am


Torstein said:


I used to come to the comments section to read through the different viewpoints to get a better idea about the topics posted. Now I have to sift through hundreds of comments full of the usual BS about rights and wrongs, mine and your history, and who was first where and according to which book. This blog used to be interesting because it dealt with Syria and Syrian politics (of course including neighbouring countries). It’s slowly degenerating into so many other sites where the same Israel/Palestine issues come up again and again and the same comments are rewritten ad nauseam.

I’m usually favourable to the Palestinian side of things, but when both sides employ exactly the same arguments, I loose interest and respect for everybody. I friend of mine was heavily involved in the peace process on Sri Lanka. He had to stop because, as he said himself, he found that he was turning into a racist, being fed up with the participants unwillingness to be pragmatic.

Please, please, please don’t turn the SC comment section into another Israel/Palestine discussion forum. It only makes it annoying and takes away the reason to read the comments. And I am loosing respect for people I earlier liked listening to unfortunately. Jbello’s comment has been the most sensible so far.

November 22nd, 2007, 11:33 am


Observer said:

Alex please post this

Why Israel Has No “Right to Exist” as a Jewish State


Yet again, the Annapolis meeting between Olmert and Abbas is preconditioned upon the recognition by the Palestinian side of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Indeed the “road map” should lead to, and legitimate, once and for all, the right of such a Jewish state to exist in definitive borders and in peace with its neighbours. The vision of justice, both past and future, simply has to be that of two states, one Palestinian, one Jewish, which would coexist side by side in peace and stability. Finding a formula for a reasonably just partition and separation is still the essence of what is considered to be moderate, pragmatic and fair ethos.

Thus, the really deep issues–the “core”–are conceived as the status of Jerusalem, the fate and future of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and the viability of the future Palestinian state beside the Jewish one. The fate of the descendants of those 750000 Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from what is now, and would continue to be under a two-state solutions, the State of Israel, constitutes a “problem” but never an “issue” because, God forbid, to make it an issue on the table would be to threaten the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. The existence of Israel as a Jewish state must never become a core issue. That premise unites political opinion in the Jewish state, left and right and also persists as a pragmatic view of many Palestinians who would prefer some improvement to no improvement at all.Only “extremists” such as Hamas, anti-Semites, and Self-Hating Jews–terribly disturbed, misguided and detached lot–can make Israel’s existence into a core problem and in turn into a necessary issue to be debated and addressed.

The Jewish state, a supposedly potential haven for all the Jews in the world in the case a second Holocaust comes about, should be recognised as a fact on the ground blackmailed into the “never again” rhetoric. All considerations of pragmatism and reasonableness in envisioning a “peace process” to settle the ‘Israeli/Palestinian’ conflict must never destabilise the sacred status of that premise that a Jewish state has a right to exist.

Notice, however, that Palestinian are not asked merely to recognise the perfectly true fact and with it, the absolutely feasible moral claim, that millions of Jewish people are now living in the State of Israel and that their physical existence, liberty and equality should be protected in any future settlement. They are not asked merely to recognise the assurance that any future arrangement would recognise historic Palestine as a home for the Jewish People.What Palestinians are asked to subscribe to recognition the right of an ideology that informs the make-up of a state to exist as Jewish one. They are asked to recognise that ethno-nationalistic premise of statehood.

The fallacy is clear: the recognition of the right of Jews who are there–however unjustly many of their Parents or Grandparents came to acquire what they own–to remain there under liberty and equality in a post-colonial political settlement, is perfectly compatible with the non-recognition of the state whose constitution gives those Jews a preferential stake in the polity.

It is an abuse of the notion of pragmatism to conceive its effort as putting the very notion of Jewish state beyond the possible and desirable implementation of egalitarian moral scrutiny. To so abuse pragmatism would be to put it at the service of the continuation of colonialism. A pragmatic and reasonable solution ought to centre on the problem of how to address past, present, and future injustices to non-Jew-Arabs without thereby cause other injustices to Jews. This would be a very complex pragmatic issue which would call for much imagination and generosity. But reasonableness and pragmatism should not determine whether the cause for such injustices be included or excluded from debates or negotiations. To pragmatically exclude moral claims and to pragmatically protect immoral assertions by fiat must in fact hide some form of extremism. The causes of colonial injustice and the causes that constitutionally prevent their full articulation and address should not be excluded from the debate. Pragmatism can not become the very tool that legitimate constitutional structures that hinder de-colonisation and the establishment of egalitarian constitution.

So let us boldly ask: What exactly is entailed by the requirement to recognise Israel as a Jewish state? What do we recognise and support when we purchase a delightful avocado or a date from Israel or when we invite Israel to take part in an international football event? What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What precisely is that Jewish state whose status as such would be once and for all legitimised by such a two-state solution?

A Jewish state is a state which exists more for the sake of whoever is considered Jewish according to various ethnic, tribal, religious, criteria, than for the sake of those who do not pass this test. What precisely are the criteria of the test for Jewishness is not important and at any rate the feeble consensus around them is constantly reinvented in Israel. Instigating violence provides them with the impetus for doing that. What is significant, thought, is that a test of Jewishness is being used in order to constitutionally protect differential stakes in, that is the differential ownership of, a polity. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is a recognition of the Jews special entitlement, as eternal victims, to have a Jewish state. Such a test of supreme stake for Jews is the supreme criterion not only for racist policy making by the legislature but also for a racist constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court.The idea of a state that is first and foremost for the sake of Jews trumps even that basic law of Human Freedom and Dignity to which the Israeli Supreme Court pays so much lip service. Such constitutional interpretation would have to make the egalitarian principle equality of citizenship compatible with, and thus subservient to, the need to maintain the Jewish majority and character of the state. This of course constitutes a serious compromise of equality, translated into many individual manifestations of oppression and domination of those victims of such compromise–non-Jews-Arabs citizens of Israel.

In our world, a world that resisted Apartheid South Africa so impressively, recognition of the right of the Jewish state to exist is a litmus test for moderation and pragmatism. The demand is that Palestinians recognise Israel’s entitlement to constitutionally entrench a system of racist basic laws and policies, differential immigration criteria for Jews and non-Jews, differential ownership and settlements rights, differential capital investments, differential investment in education, formal rules and informal conventions that differentiate the potential stakes of political participation, lame-duck academic freedom and debate.

In the Jewish state of Israel non-Jews-Arabs citizens are just “bad luck” and are considered an ticking demographic bomb of “enemy within”. They can be given the right to vote–indeed one member one vote–but the potential of their political power, even their birth rate, should be kept at bay by visible and invisible, instrumental and symbolic, discrimination. But now they are asked to put up with their inferior stake and recognise the right of Israel to continue to legitimate the non-egalitarian premise of its statehood.

We must not forget that the two state “solution” would open a further possibility to non-Jew-Arabs citizens of Israel: “put up and shut up or go to a viable neighbouring Palestinian state where you can have your full equality of stake”.Such an option, we must never forget, is just a part of a pragmatic and reasonable package.

The Jewish state could only come into being in May 1948 by ethnically cleansing most of the indigenous population–750000 of them. The judaisation of the state could only be effectively implemented by constantly internally displacing the population of many villages within the Israel state.

It would be unbearable and unreasonable to demand Jews to allow for the Right of Return of those descendants of the expelled. Presumably, those descendants too could go to a viable Palestinian state rather than, for example, rebuild their ruined village in the Galilee. On the other hand, a Jewish young couple from Toronto who never set their foot in Palestine has a right to settle in the Galilee. Jews and their descendants hold this right in perpetuity. You see, that right “liberates” them as people. Jews must never be put under the pressure to live as a substantial minority in the Holy Land under egalitarian arrangement. Their past justifies their preferential stake and the preservation of their numerical majority in Palestine.

So the non-egalitarian hits us again. It is clear that part of the realisation of that right of return would not only be a just the actual return, but also the assurance of equal stake and citizenship of all, Jews and non-Jews-Arabs after the return. A return would make the egalitarian claim by those who return even more difficult to conceal than currently with regard to Israel Arab second class citizens. What unites Israelis and many world Jews behind the call for the recognition of the right of a Jewish state to exist is their aversion for the possibility of living, as a minority, under conditions of equality of stake to all. But if Jews enjoys this equality in Canada why can not they support such equality in Palestine through giving full effect to the right of Return of Palestinians?

Let us look precisely at what the pragmatic challenge consists of: not pragmatism that entrenches inequality but pragmatism that responds to the challenge of equality.

The Right of Return of Palestinians means that Israel acknowledges and apologises for what it did in 1948. It does mean that Palestinian memory of the 1948 catastrophe, the Nakbah, is publicly revived in the Geography and collective memory of the polity. It does mean that Palestinians descendants would be allowed to come back to their villages. If this is not possible because there is a Jewish settlement there, they should be given the choice to found an alternative settlement nearby. This may mean some painful compulsory state purchase of agricultural lands that should be handed back to those who return. In cases when this is impossible they ought to be allowed the choice to settle in another place in the larger area or if not possible in another area in Palestine. Compensation would be the last resort and would always be offered as a choice. This kind of moral claim of return would encompass all Palestine including Tel Aviv.

At no time, however, it would be on the cards to throw Israeli Jews from their land.An egalitarian and pragmatic realisation of the Right of Return constitutes an egalitarian legal revolution. As such it would be paramount to address Jews’ worries about security and equality in any future arrangement in which they, or any other group, may become a minority. Jews national symbols and importance would be preserved. Equality of stake involves equality of symbolic ownership.

But it is important to emphasis that the Palestinian Right of Return would mean that what would cease to exist is the premise of a Jewish as well as indeed a Muslim state. A return without the removal of the constitutionally enshrined preferential stake is return to serfdom.

The upshot is that only by individuating cases of injustice, by extending claims for injustice to all historic Palestine, by fair address of them without creating another injustice for Jews and finally by ensuring the elimination of all racist laws that stems from the Jewish nature of the state including that nature itself, would justice be, and with it peace, possible. What we need is a spirit of generosity that is pragmatic but also morally uncompromising in terms of geographic ambit of the moral claims for repatriation and equality. This vision would propel the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But for all this to happen we must start by ceasing to recognize the right Israel to exist as a Jewish state. No spirit of generosity would be established without an egalitarian call for jettisoning the ethno-nationalistic notion upon which the Jewish state is based.

The path of two states is the path of separation.Its realisation would mean the entrenchment of exclusionary nationalism for many years. It would mean that the return of the dispossessed and the equality of those who return and those non-Jew-Arabs who are now there would have to be deferred indefinitely consigned to the dusty shelved of historical injustices.Such a scenario is sure to provoke more violence as it would establish the realisation and legitimisation of Zionist racism and imperialism.

Also, any bi-national arrangement ought to be subjected to a principle of equality of citizenship and not vice versa. The notion of separation and partition that can infect bi-nationalism, should be done away with and should not be tinkered with or rationalised in any way. Both spiritually and materially Jews and non-Jews can find national expression in a single egalitarian and non-sectarian state.

The non-recognition of the Jewish state is an egalitarian imperative that looks both at the past and to the future. It is the uncritical recognition of the right of Israel to exist at a Jewish state which is the core hindrance for this egalitarian premise to shape the ethical challenge that Palestine poses. A recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state means the silencing that would breed more and more violence and bloodshed.

The same moral intuition that brought so many people to condemn and sanction Apartheid South Africa ought also to prompt them to stop seeing a threat to existence of the Jewish state as the effect caused by the refugee ‘problem” or by the “demographic threat” from the non-Jew-Arabs within it. It is rather the other way round. It is the non-egalitarian premise of a Jewish state and the lack of empathy and corruption of all those who make us uncritically accept the right of such a state to exist that is both the cause of the refugee problem and cause for the inability to implement their return and treating them as equals thereafter.

We must see that the uncritically accepted recognition of Israel right to exist is, as Joseph Massad so well puts it in Al-Ahram, to accept Israel claim to have the right to be racist or, to develop Massad’s brilliant formulation, Israel’s claim to have the right to occupy to dispossess and to discriminate. What is it, I wonder, that prevent Israelis and so many of world Jews to respond to the egalitarian challenge? What is it, I wonder, that oppresses the whole world to sing the song of a “peace process” that is destined to legitimise racism in Palestine?

To claim such a right to be racist must come from a being whose victim’s face must hide very dark primordial aggression and hatred of all others.How can we find a connective tissue to that mentality that claims the legitimate right to harm other human beings? How can this aggression that is embedded in victim mentality be perturbed?

The Annapolis meeting is a con. As an egalitarian argument we should say loud and clear that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state.

Only a single egalitarian and non sectrarian state over all the whole of historic
Palestine will achieve justice and peace.

Oren Ben-Dor grew up in Israel. He teaches Legal and Political Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK. He can be reached at:

November 22nd, 2007, 2:40 pm


IsraeliGuy said:


1. Rejecting UN resolutions

Thanks for your reply, but please take another look at my question, which was “was it legitimate of the Arab countries (and not the Palestinians) to reject the partition resolution which was accepted by the UN, claim that the UN had no authority to pass such resolutions and wage war on Israel?”

I believe that UN resolutions applied to everybody, but let’s put the Palestinians aside for a second.

Was it legitimate of the Arab countries to do it in 1947?
Please explain.

2. Do the same rules apply to everybody?

Alex, you said that it’s gonna be a bad idea to tell the Palestinians “since you did not accept at the time, therefore we are justified today to do anything we want to do … it is justified because you refused out initial generous offer.”

I’m not saying that. We didn’t offer anything – it was a UN resolution that we accepted and the all the Arabs rejected.

I’m rather asking the following question: can Arab countries expect Israel to respect UN resolutions while they ignored them in the first resolution that addressed Israel/Palestine?

Why can the Arab countries take the freedom to ignore UN resolutions, but Israel MUST respect them?
Shouldn’t there be reciprocity like “everybody MUST respect UN resolutions” or “anybody can decide whatever it wants”?

I mean, if you criticize Israel for not respecting UN resolutions, do you equally criticize the Arab countries, for not fulfilling the first one, from which this snowball began to roll?

Don’t the same rules apply to everybody?

3. Open borders issue

Alex, I’m afraid I don’t share your vision : )

I honestly believe that we’ll see MORE borders rather than less of them.
New countries are being formed all the time.
More and more peoples want to fulfill their national ambitions and aspirations.

I read reports that the Saudis want to build a substantial fence on their border with Iraq.
Companies which develop border control products, systems and solutions are booming.

In my opinion, the threat of international terrorism will gradually lead to tighter borders and not to their disappearance.

4. Dreams vs. Solutions

Alex, you seem to have a different thinking than some of the other members here.

Some members stick to terms like ‘justice’.
Some of them do that while they sit on land, taken unjustly by their ancestors from their original rightful owner and will never agree to leave the land and bring the wheel back to where it was when the injustice started to evolve.

You on the other hand, have a different type of thinking.

Although we don’t see eye to eye on many issues, I can confidently say that your opinions originate not only from the concept of “justice”, but from a broader angle that tries to bridge the gap between doable vs. undoable, dreams vs. realities on the ground and aspirations vs. compromised and practical solutions.

Yep, we don’t agree on much, but your type of thinking is similar to the one of leaders that actually managed to achieve something in their term, unlike the ‘all or nothing’ type of crowd, which is usually left with nothing in their hands.

November 22nd, 2007, 2:48 pm


Alex said:


I agree … we took a necessary side trip to cover the Palestinian/Israeli issues. It went too far as you noted, and we will go back to Syria related news.

But please don’t think that there was no value at all in this kind of discussion. Syria, regime and people, are more committed to the Palestinian people than the late President Sadat and King Hussein. What Syrians expect from their leadership regarding a solution with the Palestinians is a relevant discussion topic.

Will Syria sign a land for peace treaty while the Palestinians are under the same military occupation?

November 22nd, 2007, 4:08 pm


Alex said:


To answer your question about the rules applying to everyone, I will reiterate my earlier point: The Unites States needs to be very careful when it tries (like this administration tried) to turn the UNSC into an American institution … another Pentagon or another CIA. If it gets to the point where the UNSC will predictably come up with resolutions that are to a large degree what America demanded … and if America is playing a very active and very controversial (or unpopular) role in the Middle East … then you will end up with resentment and total rejection to UNSC resolutions … rejection at the popular level. That can lead to wars.

So, the answer to your question … as long as there is some degree of independence in the security council … where all five superpowers continue to play a balancing role, then I would say that the rules should apply to all… Arabs or Israelis.

Also … some resolutions are harder to accept than others … it is understandable that they might take some time. Most Palestinians and Arabs accepted by now what took place in 1947. I hope enough Israelis accepted the return to the 67 borders as UNSC resolutions 242 and 338 called for.

So … while UNSC resolutions are binding … a case of clear Black and White … I still attach some “it depends” to their success and usefulness.

While we are discussing the time it should take to implement these resolutions … The case of UNSC 1559 is worth looking into. It basically said: “Syria and Israel should withdraw all their troops from Lebanon … Hizbollah and other militias should disarm” … Syria did its part .. accepted the resolution immediately. But the irony is … America and France did not want Syria to implement its part that quickly .. they wanted Syria to stay there few more months to help in the impossible and highly unpopular task of disarming Hizbollah! … which is the second part of 1559.

While everyone was enjoying “the humiliating” quick exit from Lebanon … the Syrian regime was comfortable with their prompt decision. they left the task of disarming Hizbollah to the Americans, the Saudis, the french, the Israelis, and the Seniora government.

Regarding borders … my initial point, if you look at it again, was that “borders will PRACTICALLY disappear” … in Europe today borders are still there … but they serve a much less meaningful role than they did in the 60’s for example.

Similarly, 20 years after a successfully planned peace agreement is implemented… I can see Palestinians allowed to buy lands in Israel and Israelis allowed to buy lands in the west Bank and in Jordan … companies being setup in the different countries with mixed ownership and exporting its goods duty free to any part of that area … and I can see no nervous border security officers stopping travelers from either direction.

This is starting to happen between former enemies Syria and Turkey. I don’t see why it can’t happen in the future.

The other alternative .. more countries being formed int eh Middle East … while in Israel you might look at that possibility in a detached academic way … in the Arab world, this is the kind of thing that people would fight and die for … The Kurds will not have that country … the Druze will not have their emirate … Syria, Turkey, and Iran will not allow the disintegration of Iraq.

The solution to the Kurdish challenge is not to start another Israel .. built on lands taken from all surrounding countries (Syria, turkey and Iraq) … but to wait as we see the borders between those countries also become practically meaningless … Kurds will feel no need to have a Kurdistan if they can move freely between Syria and turkey and visit their relatives after driving a couple of hours in any direction … it will be like a continuous and connected Kurdistan… they can teach their children the language, they can maintain their identity and character without scaring the Syrians or the turks that America is secretly pushing them to seek independence and without fearing that the Israeli Intelligence is training their fighters …

November 22nd, 2007, 4:46 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


All what you say is just contrary to common sense and history.

Just like the Wallons and the Flemish can’t live together in modern day Belgium, just as as the Chechs and Slovaks wanted two different countries and not a Chechoslovakia, just as the Basques want independence, just as Yugoslavia broke apart at the first opportunity, just as many Quebecois want their own state (you should know) there will be no peace in the middle east until there are many more independent states, perhaps part of a federation like the EU. Syria is an artificial country created by colonial powers just as Lebanon and Iraq and others in the middle east are. The states can be created in a peaceful manner, or they will be created with tons of bloodshed when the dictators fall.

November 22nd, 2007, 5:20 pm


Alex said:


You can always look at the negative examples if you want … there will always be people who are insecure, limited in their vision and hopes, racist, or backward … sometimes they are the majority, some other times they are not.

In Quebec, we had many referendums and the separatists always lost by a small margin. If you want to use Quebec as an example … it shows you prefer to see the glass as half empty.

November 22nd, 2007, 5:57 pm


jbello said:

Go round and round if you like, but please don’t compare the Zionists with Native Americans. Whatever reason caused the original Israelis to leave their country 1000 or more years ago, it wasn’t because the other local tribes tricked them and took advantage of their generosity, brought foreign diseases to decimate their populations, destroyed their land and resources, massacred whole towns that were in their way, used superior weapons from another culture to finish off the warriors, then made false treaties with them that they had no intention of honoring. After all that, the remaining Native American population was disenfranchised and daemonized for 100 years. But still, they didn’t leave. The remaining Native Americans are still here in their homeland fighting for justice.

I spoke with my mother recently about the situation in Israel/Palestine. She was very surprised when I told her that the Israeli soldiers had driven the Palestinian residents from their land in 1948. When I asked why she thought the Palestinians moved into the refugee camps in surrounding countries all of a sudden, all at once, she was very quiet for a few moments. Then she said, “I suppose now you are going to tell me that we have to give California back to the Mexicans.” She got the point.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:06 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Be serious, in Quebec which has the ultimate open borders with the US and the rest of Canada, and has the ultimate social society and the ultimate human rights and the ultimate free trade and French is an official language in Canada and schools are in French, still about 50% of the population want their own state. And among the French-Canadians, which percentage support separation? It is over 50% isn’t it?

You call that looking at the glass half full? It means your theory is just plain wrong. Are the Chechs and Slovaks backward and mean spirited? Are the Flemish backward? Are the Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians, Kosovars, Lithuainians, Latvians etc. etc. Give me an example of two different democratic nations that freely chose to unite into one political entity. Can you? There is not one example to prove your point.

It shows you that the need for political independence transcends economic well being. There will only be peace in the middle east when the natural countries are formed and not those dictated by the Sykes-Piquot agreement.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:18 pm


jbello said:

The point to my previous statement is not that the US is likely to return California to the Mexicans. Rather that California is flooded with Mexicans who aren’t going anywhere soon. This is the great bogeyman for Israel, but is it such a big problem for individual Israelis? I don’t know.
No boundary is absolute. Separatism is a response to fear and anxiety on the part of ‘the people’, and to greed and a need for control on the part of the rulers. In a world where peace seems possible, boundaries soften. People live in peace and fellowship with whatever neighbors arrive. Of course then, rulers and controllers find themselves unemployed.

November 22nd, 2007, 6:35 pm


Guy Regev said:

One of the reasons Jewish Israelis will never accept a Palestinian majority in Israel (or a 2-nation state) is that they see how the Palestinian authority and the Hamas-controlled territory in Gaza manage themselves.
There is little doubt among the vast majority of Jewish Israelis that a one state solution will result in deterioration in safety, economy and civil liberty and will drive all the Jews out.
But all this is playing with idle dreams. There is zero chance that it will happen. Zero as in zilch, nada, gurnicht.

November 22nd, 2007, 7:33 pm


Alex said:


Yes, I am serious … are you civilized enough to have a polite discussion with me? … if you are, then I would appreciate it if you manage to start your comments without the obligatory Netanyahu superiority complex type of intro … “are you serious?” … “this is ridiculous” … “that’s pure nonsense” … “you are resorting to the same tricks again” …

Sometimes it is fear and lack of trust in the others that makes you support separation .. sometimes it is racism .. thinking that your people (ethnic group, tribe, religion …) are special … sometimes it is greed … feeling that you do not want to subsidize the poorer regions if you happen to fall in the richest region in the neighborhood …

As for your suggestion that Sykes-Piquot will need to be modified in the future … maybe … but don’t be surprised if it gets modified the other way … Like Lebanon and Syria becoming one country… no matter how “ridiculous” this sounds today, I believe it is a probable outcome at some point in the future.

To conclude: You are a sample of a group of opinions out there … that we will have a few more smaller countries in the Middle East. Maybe.

I am a sample of another group that believes and wants to let the Middle East take its natural shape with minimally intrusive political borders … and there are others who are for Arab nationalism .. others for a unified Islamic world .. others for Greater Syria.

November 22nd, 2007, 7:40 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes Alex, I know what you think, but what is your argument to support what you think? Where are the historical examples that prove your point? I just see wishful thinking and not an argument.

November 22nd, 2007, 7:52 pm


Alex said:

Guy .. are you God? .. can you predict the future with absolute certainty?

Inventions reached their limit long ago, and I see no hope for further development.

– Sextus Julius Frontinus, 100AD

You are right in reading the opinion of the vast majority of Israelis TODAY … and I agreed with this opinion already above. But there is a difference between saying

1) Israelis will not accept to get that close to the Palestinians have proved that they are too chaotic for us to integrate them in our Israel.

2) Israelis do not want to see the Palestinians succeed in governing their affairs in a successful way in the future because there will then be pressure to “why not integrate these good and civilized people among us? .. and we do not want that no matter how wonderful are these people”

As I stated earlier, ai do not believe one can pressure the Israeli people to accept anything they are not comfortable with .. and today they definitely are not comfortable with the above scenario.

But, forgetting that we are arguing for a second, can I ask you your honest opinion?

Assuming 10 or 20 years from now everything is very civilized and positive and secular and friendly on the Arab side … do you want to

1) See more soft borders? … easy access between you and the Arab neighbors … no duties on goods, no visa requirements … as if it is the same country except that it is not.

2) Going further with the Palestinians … one country.

I understand if you still fear the second option (they will have the majority of the vote and they will rule eventually) … but the first option ?… you find it also a threat to you?

November 22nd, 2007, 7:59 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Option 1 was the case between Israel and the West Bank from 67 to 87. So what is your point? The Arabs will see it as a threat because they are afraid of “Israel taking over their economy”.

And really, nobody can predict the future, but we have to go based on our best assumptions. No? Or are you a fatalist? Are you a whatever happens happens kind of guy?

November 22nd, 2007, 8:06 pm


Alex said:

It’s OK AIG … you don’t like my “argument” and you did a good job explaining why, and you gave some good examples.

My preferences are based on many observations and discussion and readings … Here is one of them … There is something destructive in that process. Reversing it can fix what was destroyed.

But don’t worry, this is not the only thing I am basing my conclusion on.. don’t rush to think I am “not serious”

November 22nd, 2007, 8:21 pm


Asim MA, San Antonio said:

Why delete my comment? This is more of a censorship than reasonable editorial policy.My description of israel as a racist apartheid jewish theocracy is accurate and objective:even israel now and just before the Annapolis “conference turned meeting” is demanding that the Arab World/Palestininans recognize it as a purely jewish state-which means the first step to the transfer of its Arab population elsewhere which is 25% of its total population,around 1.5 million Palestininans AND, cancelling once and for all UN 194 of the right of return for millions of Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed in 1947/8 by jewish terrorist gangs such as Haganah,Irgun, Stern and Palmach as even revealed by revisionist israeli historians recently;

All this to make israel a puerly and exclusively jewsih state as it demands loudly in front of the whole world:if evicting the indigenous Plaestininas from their ancestrol homeland and trying to evict the balance is not racist,what is racist?

Am unequiovocally not anti-jewish whatsoever-am just objectively describing a fact on the ground as President Carter did in his recent book;by deleting the word jewish from “jewish theocracy” you are distorting a fact which israel is demanding openly. Am not against jews at all:only against their occupation,eviction,inacrceration,starvation and collective punishement of Palesininas-as done now in Gaza.

U say :” .. then I realized he-that is me-also had a link to some sales and marketing site which he claimed it is a page that is relevant to the point he was making.” This is a misrperesentation of my postion and of the facts: http://WWW.PLANDS.ORG is not at all a “sales and marketing site,” and is a scholraly and professional site that provides balnaced info on the Palestine issue and dialogues with jews and israelis among others-and is manged a prominant palestinian scholar based in London-Dr.Salman Abu Sitta-who was interviewed by AL Gazeera TV twice recently.Am not in any way connected with the site.

The site is very revelant to the subject of Palestine-which is revelant to Syria and Assad and any Arab or Muslim country esepcially when it comes to Jerusalem-after all the Palestine question is the prime issue in the Arab and the Muslim World.
I suggest you take a look at this site/link and judge for yourself.

Unfortunately,U say:” I decided to remove the whole comment.”

I beleive it is in the inerest of fair dialogue and open-mindness to allow opposing views to be heared and answered rather than repressed and removed all togther-where is freedom of expression? The practice of accusing any one criticizing israel or the jews of being anti-Semite-as was done to President Carter and De Walt and Mershmier-is all outdated and serves only to stifle the debate on the quetsionof Palestine.In fact am writing a book on the broader issue where the Palestine question is also discussed as a major item.

I hope u have the moral courage to post this response.

November 22nd, 2007, 8:43 pm


Alex said:


As I mentioned, last time I deleted your second message only. There were two reasons

1) You were too confrontational … we allowed that in the past, AIG is very confrontational too. But you came here at the worst time .. yesterday we decided that .. enough is enough … free speech does not mean we will continue discussion Israel and Palestine forever … we really exhausted all the points relating to what happened in the past.

2) You made a mistake in that comment .. you linked and not 😉

I will email you your previous comment and you can see for yourself.

That made me think you are a spammer. try that link and you’ll understand why I removed your message.

But still … please understand that we need to calm things a bit for now … we need to go back to discussing Syria.

November 22nd, 2007, 8:54 pm


Asim MA, San Antonio said:

Thanks-it’s indeed http://WWW.PLANDS.ORG,I overlooked the “S.”

Yes,the discussion was on Syria BUT believe me “all the roads in the Arab World and the ME,lead or seems to ultimately lead to occupied Jerusalem-Palestine,” as Karen Hughes had discovered in her mission impossible to the region.

Yes,I might have been confrontional but in words only-the israelis have been doing it for the past sixty years with real state of the art weapons backed by a formidable nuclear arsenal;I sincerely wish words can replace weapons and the dispossessed Palestinians can recover their rights and homeland so we can close this endless subject.

History is very revelant but the human race does not seem to learn much from it-and is relevant to the issue,for now Palestine,because the jewsih occupation and tormenting of the Pals started sixty years ago and continues to this moment as we speak-history in the making.
And like all Arab countries, Syria’s position is essentially dictated by the Palestine issue and its posture towards the israeli occupation of its own land since 1967, the Golan Hts.

Thanks your response.

November 22nd, 2007, 11:11 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Instead of telling us you have a good argument, wouldn’t it be simpler to give the argument and prove you are “serious”?

November 23rd, 2007, 12:22 am


Alex said:


I agree. There is no way to ignore the Palestinian issue. Most the Syrian participants in this blog want Syria to keep the Palestinians in mind when it negotiates with Israel (…if we get to that point)


There is no way to “prove” I am serious to you … we are on two different tracks on everything.

Nothing is wrong with that.

Did you have any guess about what I meant by linking to Analog to digital converters? … any idea what that have to do to our discussion about borders?

November 23rd, 2007, 1:10 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sorry Alex, I did not get your point about A/D and D/A converters even though I am an expert on minimizing quantization noise effects on results of FFTs.

And really, is asking for an argument too much? It is the basic building component of any rational discussion. Don’t you want to have a rational discussion?

November 23rd, 2007, 1:25 am


Alex said:


If you try something and you fail, then you try harder and you fail … then for the 1000 time you try and you fail … don’t you start losing interest in trying again?

Maybe you don’t… But I do.

But since you are a digital filter designer/democracy activist, I will tell you why I felt like relating our discussion of borders and states to ADCs and quantization noise:

Assume the 10+ countries we now have in our part of the middle east are the result of digitizing (or quantizing) the analog free form (no borders at all) at 4-bits (which allows up to 16 states/coountries)

Imagine the difference between listening to a classical music concert in a concert hall with nice acoustics, or listening to it after it has been quantized at a 4-bit resolution.

Ignore sampling rates for now : )

Borders killed a large part of the “signal” (life) in the area.

Your solution is to create more countries … one for Kurds, one for the Druze …etc. going to a 5-bit resolution … this still won’t sound as good as analog.

The only way you can emulate analog reasonably well is by going to something like 24 bits … as in DVD audio

In the Middle East .. that means have an almost infinite number of countries … every house on every street becomes a country in that case … in your country you are free to set your own rules… no “Syrian regime” imposed on Kurds in north eastern Syria … no Sunni prime minister imposed over a Shiite village in south Lebanon … in your own house/country you are the ruler and the rules are perfectly to your liking.

But this is not feasible … we can’t have that much resolution in real life … our real options are

1) Analog
2) 4 or 5 bit quantization… very lossy.

Going to analog (no borders) is not possible for now, of course … but reducing the intrusive effect of these borders is what I would hope to see in the future … it is the next best thing to not going Digital.

Think of it as not quantizing the high frequency components of a signal … allow those to remain analog, then quantize the low frequency components … since they are not sensitive to quantization noise.

What is the equivalence of high-frequency? … culture … education … low frequency (which can still be subjected to the quantization effect of borders) could be anything not dynamic and not in need of information flow.

Ok … I have to go to sleep now… I got bored with my own analysis : )

November 23rd, 2007, 5:16 am


Alex said:

Where is AIG? … if you look above, you’ll see that I gave you the answer you asked for, no?

November 24th, 2007, 7:09 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[removed by admin]

November 24th, 2007, 5:43 pm


Alex said:

Dear AIG,

I explained to you many times so far that I expect you to not be rude when you debate me.

I realize your rudeness is a hopeless case. But the good thing about online communication is that you can edit before you post.

It is very simple. When you finish typing your comments, read them again … remove, or edit the rude part and then post everything else.

Now to answer the point you made:

I did not imply that YOU called for one (analog) state… with no borders. I am the one who would like to see only one analog state, but realize that it is not possible for now… just like the other extreme is not possible … breaking the region into infinitely large number of sates.

You insist that you have the perfect answer … you KNOW that Iraq will be happy being broken into three states … you KNOW that Syria is made from three or four groups max … the Palestinians of one or two …

One problem with debating you on anything is that you always KNOW … while the rest of the planet is busy trying to understand every stochastic variable in life, you achieved perfect knowledge already.

Back to the basic questions in your response (that I deleted):

1) Every week I receive emails form some Assyrian or Chaldean organizations in Northern Iraq highlighting their grievances under Kurdish rule. They want to go back to being ruled under a central authority in Baghdad.

2) Over ten years ago I took over the management of “the Syrian Cultural Center in Montreal” … This center started as Nadi Halab (Aleppo Club) … which was restricted to Aleppo Christian immigrants in Montreal… then it was opened up to other Syrians while remaining practically Christian (though not officially). When I took over, I made sure I made it exactly half Christian and Half Muslim Syrians of all types. I had so much pressure to keep it a Christian club only .. or even to revert to the Aleppo Christian restrictions … but even when they were restricting membership to Aleppo Christians only, there were some who complained that some members are not TRUE Aleppo residents … that they initially immigrated to Aleppo from the countryside … that they were not classy enough.

The moral of the story: Once you open the door to division … there is no end to it… I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yazidis would like to have their own country too.

November 24th, 2007, 7:26 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Histroy shows that division reaches an equilibrium and that your vision never materialized. Also, the only way to decide about the division is by democratic means, something you are not willing to do.

November 24th, 2007, 8:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And by the way, telling someone that their post is unconvincing and rambling is not being rude, it is being matter of fact. My are you sensitive.

November 24th, 2007, 8:20 pm


Alex said:


There is no problem with an occasional “your opinion was unconvincing” … especially when many others agree.

I have tolerated your tone for many weeks now … but at some point I realized that you are almost always rude. You have this Netanyahu tactic of always starting his segment on TV by telling the previous Arab debater how silly, outrageous, unconvincing, hypocrite, terror-supporting, or bizarre his answer was.

Maybe that’s where I developed that sensitivity.

Go ahead and demonstrate that my arguments are unconvincing … that would be more “convincing” than simply calling them unconvincing rambling.

Besides, please note that SimoHurtta is still sticking to his promise to “send his keyboard on vacation” … I hope you can try a bit harder to control your negativity.

Back to your last comment:

“Histroy shows that division reaches an equilibrium”

Fine … how many of borders on earth were determined at least partially through wars? .. are you suggesting that we start such a process int eh Middle East? … until “division reaches an equilibrium?”… can you tell me how the Assyrians and Kurds will decide about that division “by democratic means”?

Will the Kurds agree to break their Kurdistan just to please the 50,000 Christians among them? .. because I assure you that those Christians do not want to end up in the Middle of Kurdistan.

November 24th, 2007, 9:11 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Many borders were determined by war, and that is why if you do not go through a democratic process to determine them in the middle east, you will have a lot of wars. This is my point exactly. If there is a 50,000 christian minority living among a substantial kurdish population, they will have minority rights in a democratic kurdistan. What is the problem with that? Just as the Jews have minority rights in the US or France. Would the christians prefer having no rights under Asad than having full democratic rights like in Europe under the Kurds? Of course not. That is why a democratic dialouge needs to take place until an equilibrium is reached and it goes without saying that minority rights must be respected.

November 24th, 2007, 9:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And by the way, Sim is not doing me any favors for not posting. Please Sim, post whatever you want. I will just point out the racism in his comments if I find it.

November 24th, 2007, 9:55 pm


Alex said:

“That is why a democratic dialouge needs to take place until an equilibrium is reached and it goes without saying that minority rights must be respected.”

In theory, maybe … but in practice …

Here is an example:

During the last “democratic” elections in Kurdish areas, Kurdish militias took down the posters of Assyrian candidates and beat up their supporters and told them: “Don’t even dare”

And … I still want to understand this process of … we need to start breaking up Syria into four … but when Assyrians who fall in the new “Kurdistan” say that they hate it … then they are a minorty that has to accept living in Kurdistan and be happy and thankful that Kurdistan will respect their minority rghts.

Why not stay with the larger country (Syria) that respects the rights of its Christian, Druze, Alawite, Ismaeli, and even Yezidi minorites? .. why not add Lebanon to it and continue to respect minority right in a hopefully democratic (one man one vote) united Syria and Lebanon?

How can democracy decide if a group is large enough to deserve its own separate country or is too small to be anything more than a minority living within a majority?

November 24th, 2007, 10:08 pm


Alex said:

As for Simo … Of course he should feel free to participate here again. But when he does, I will still remove your comments if you try again to start the game of “you are a racist, you are an anti semite…”

I think we all had enough.

November 24th, 2007, 10:13 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Democracy is messy and takes time to reach equilibrium but that is not an excuse for having tyrants and forcing people to do things against their wills which seems to be the method you favor.

But I agree that it is a good idea to start with a large country that respects the rights of all its citizens. Unfortunately, all you agree to is one big country in which no one has rights because you are afraid of the democratic process.

And again, the two wrongs make a right argument. Asad is good because the Kurds intimidated Assyrian candidates. When will you learn?

November 24th, 2007, 10:36 pm


Alex said:

ok, please allow me to use the “two wrongs” arguments .. this time against you:

Why is it that you only object to Syrians using this arguemnt but when my friend Akbar Palace uses it in almost every comment, you never object?


Ausamaa: Israel had no right to bomb the site on the Euphrates if there is no proof that it was a nuclear site

Akbar: Ausamma is upset because Israel did not wait for UN approval but he did not get upset when Hamas did not wait for UN approval before it attacked civilians.

Then he adds a couple of links to news of some suicide missions in Tel Aviv.

November 24th, 2007, 11:12 pm


Alex said:

As for being afraid from the democratic process … yes and no.

I am afraid of it given the way things are now.

There are prerequisites that can make me a supporter of the process. I will write about it one day. It is not impossible, and it does not need to take a 100 years as you assume. I think within 7 to 14 years (one or two presidential terms in Syria) we can get there (or near there)

Dinner time for me. Have a good day.

November 24th, 2007, 11:20 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Akbar is pointing to Ausamma’s hypocrisy, not arguing that Israel had any special right to attack Syria. The fact that Hamas attacks without UN approval does not make the Israeli attack right or wrong for that matter. It is irrelevant. But that Ausamaa insists on UN approval is hypocritical of him.

You on the other hand use Kurdish behavior to justify Asad’s position and your support of him.

The trouble ya Alex when you write about the conditions you need for democracy is that you never look inside, you always have demands of others (US, Israel etc.) for implementing democracy. You never say what the regime needs to do, you always say what outsiders need to do and use them as an excuse. That is not serious, whatever you think of Netanyahu.

November 24th, 2007, 11:44 pm


SimoHurtta said:

As for Simo … Of course he should feel free to participate here again. But when he does,

Sorry Alex, I do not need your “permission” to “participate”. If you claim more or less indirectly, that you have banned me for racist claims, that is your mistake. I have never made any racist comment. I explained perfectly well in my mind what I did mean in that comment (how the Jews are benefiting by selling internet surveillance tools for Arab dictators) what made AIG angry. That claim was a fact not racism.

Actually it has been very “nice” to concentrate in laughing a couple of times daily to these Israeli guys comments in stead of wasting valuable time in a non-productive discussion with them.

What I have been wondering lately, because Israel and Finland are almost on the same time zone, is that these Israeli guys must be either not sleeping at all if they go to a day work or they write these comments from their job during the nights. How else can they stay in the same rhythm as you North Americans? 🙂

And by the way, Sim is not doing me any favors for not posting. Please Sim, post whatever you want. I will just point out the racism in his comments if I find it.

Sorry to have disappointed you AIG, the father of political wisdom.

What I must still wonder is, that when you are constantly claiming that Jews are a nation, not a normal religion, and Israel is a “native country” for these “chosen people”, why are you so offended when somebody uses the terms Jew and Israeli. You yourself and others like you use constantly the terms like West, Democratic countries, Arab nations, Alawites, Baathists, Arabs, Muslims, Europeans and Americans perfectly well knowing that not everybody in this or that “group” share the same opinions. The same “problem” exists when somebody writes something about using the words Jews and Israelis.

You said in a past comment that “There were 6 million Jews murdered by the Germans.”. Do you seriously claim that all Germans murdered Jews? If not why are you being racist? Certainly I as a halve Austrian could claim that, if I would have an equally soft skin (low self-confidence ?) as you.

The equal problem as you have in your writings exists for an anti-Zionist if he says “that Jews murdered and performed ethnic cleansing in Palestine”. Certainly he doesn’t claim that all Jews murder Palestinians and steal their land. Like in Germany a tiny majority under a dictatorial rule performed the killings, also in Israel a minority is really responsible for violent acts though under a theocratic democracy. But Germans have to carry (and are demanded to carry) the collective quilt, why should it be different for Jews and Israelis for what “they” have been / are doing in Middle East.

Using the terms Jews or Israeli is basically equally racist as using the terms Syrians, Arabs, Muslims or Germans. If you begin to hyperventilate every time you read the term Jew, it is your problem. Or at least you in the name of some “intellectual honesty” yourself could stop using equal categorizing terms.

I understand that you Israeli guys are now in panic, when the world is fast chancing around you (meaning Israel) and with the relations with you (meaning Israelis). It must be hard to bury the dream of Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah and begin to think how to resettle the settlers.

Interesting column in JP some days ago:

The mood is dark in the IDF’s General Staff ahead of next week’s “peace” conference in Annapolis. As one senior officer directly involved in the negotiations with the Palestinians and the Americans said, “As bad as it might look from the outside, the truth is 10 times worse. This is a nightmare. The Americans have never been so hostile.

November 25th, 2007, 12:13 am


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