Bashar al-Assad Walking the Tight-Rope - Syria Comment

Bashar al-Assad Walking the Tight-Rope

(Written and Posted by Qifa Nabki)

As long as the Syria-Israel talks remain veiled in secrecy, there will be plenty of speculation, rumor-mongering, and head-scratching on the subject of how President al-Assad will guide his country to a peace agreement while not relinquishing Syria's strategic alliances. 

Former top Israeli diplomat reportedly says Syria ready to cut Iran ties

By Haaertz

A former senior Israeli diplomat has asserted that Syria is willing to cut its close relations with Iran in return for financial and military backing from the United States, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Alon Liel, a former director general of the foreign ministry, told the British newspaper that Syrian President Bashar Assad is increasingly open to a peace deal with Israel which would greatly weaken Iran's influence in the Middle East.The Sunday Telegraph reported that Liel, who has been engaged in low-key "second track" discussions with Syrian representatives for many months, has said the prospect of an agreement with Syria was growing, though a new U.S. president might be necessary before a deal could be finalized. [continue]

Syria says no direct contacts yet
Published: Saturday, 5 July, 2008, 01:22 AM Doha Time

PARIS: Syria’s foreign minister said yesterday it was premature to talk of direct peace negotiations with Israel, a day after the Jewish state called for face-to-face discussions to start soon.

A third round of indirect talks between the long-standing foes took place in Istanbul this week and ended with an agreement to hold a fourth round of negotiations in Turkey in late July, a Turkish government source said on Thursday.

“It’s premature to answer this question,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said when asked when direct talks could be held. He confirmed that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect talks, but did not say where or when. [continue]

Iran, Syria ink telecommunications deal

Tehran Times Economic Desk

DAMASCUS – During the visit of Iran’s minister for Information and Communication Technology to Syria, the two sides signed an MOU on telecommunications.
The MOU was inked on the sidelines of the 4th International Information and Communications Security Assembly in Damascus.

The sides made agreement on reducing the roaming tariffs and increasing the telecommunications capacity to 120 channels from the current 60 channels.

The officials of the countries have also separately held talks with Iraq’s Ministry of Communications officials in a bid to create Iran-Syria direct link of optical fiber network via north of Iraq.

Syria tells UN: Israel burying nuclear waste in Golan Heights

By The Associated Press

Syria has complained to the United Nations about a series of alleged Israeli wrongdoings in the Golan Heights, including burying nuclear waste and discriminating against the region's Druze residents.

The complaint was made in a report Syria handed to a UN fact-finding committee comprised of Senegal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia's ambassadors.

The report came after Syria held a third round of indirect negotiations with Israel in Turkey last week. A Turkish government source said Thursday that both sides had agreed to hold a fourth round of indirect negotiations in Turkey in late July.

Syria listed in the report a number of alleged Israeli violations of the Golan's Druze inhabitants' human rights.

In addition the nuclear claim, Damascus charged that Israel confiscates the Israeli ID cards of Druze students who return from studies in Syria, and that residents of the Golan continue to serve prison terms in Israeli jails, some for dozens of years. 

Karim Makdisi (of AUB) has an engaging piece in CounterPunch on the amusing subject:

On Soccer and Politics in Lebanon

By KARIM MAKDISI

Amidst the torturous negotiations to form a ‘national’ unity government in Lebanon—and the rhetoric employed by both March 14 and opposition members alike about building a strong ‘nation’ to bind all of Lebanon’s communities—Lebanon’s national soccer team recently completed the last of six qualification round matches for the 2010 World Cup. The results have been nothing short of disastrous, with consecutive ‘home’ and ‘away’ defeats to Saudi Arabia (1-4, 1-2), Uzbekistan (0-1, 0-3), and Singapore (1-2, 0-2), and fourteen goals conceded in the process. Far from being a trivial sporting matter, the manner of Lebanon’s defeats illustrates the Lebanese political class’s chronic lack of imagination and willful neglect of a genuine nation-building project that could transcend sectarian or clientalist considerations. [continue reading]

Comments (85)


Alex said:

Shai? .. why is Alone tryig to get Syria in trouble with Iran??

: )

It’s ok … for internal Israeli consumption.

July 6th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Yep. I think that’s the main reason. He knows it’s impossible the sell the deal otherwise. So, that’s ok. But I don’t have to market anything here on SC, I can say what I think. Plus, since I’m such a liberal, I couldn’t possibly ask my enemy to do anything like that, could I? 🙂

July 6th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Still, though, Shai… pretty strong words from Alon.

Just a few months ago he was talking very differently, in an Arabic interview that Alex sent me.

July 6th, 2008, 4:56 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

hmmm!!! what? no news on the seidnaya jail riot?

July 6th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So Alex and Shai,
It is ok to lie to the Israeli public? So Alon really does not mean what he is saying but is lying to assuade public opinion in Israel?

So, Shai, do you support public figures that lie to manipulate public opinion?

July 6th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

offended said:

No AIG, Alon knows the Israeli public concerns about Iran are overblown, so he counter this by overdoing his assurances.

Nothing wrong in that. You can’t call it lying…

July 6th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Offended,
Is Liel for or against Iran flipping?

Of course he is for. All the examples Shai has given for public people in Israel supporting the peace process, they are supporting it to flip Syria. That is the main aim.

Shai represents only himself and has been able to convince you that others are behind him. But that is just totally false. Just read what every one of the politicians involoved in the discussions with Syria say, now including Alon Liel. The main strategic aim of Israel is to flip Syria. Without it, there will be no chance of peace.

July 6th, 2008, 5:29 pm

 

offended said:

Flip is a very promiscusous word. What kind of a flip could satisfy you?

July 6th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Bait, bait bait:

So Alex and Shai,
It is ok to lie to the Israeli public? So Alon really does not mean what he is saying but is lying to assuade public opinion in Israel?

So, Shai, do you support public figures that lie to manipulate public opinion?

IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG

July 6th, 2008, 5:41 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I’m a non-liberal, dictator-loving Israeli that supports lying-ex-diplomats, and represents only himself (and not even the left hemisphere of my brain). How could I possibly not listen to this AIG? How could I possibly ban him? He is doing me a greater service than anyone else could. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s a living for him, isn’t it? One man’s sadism is another man’s job, no? 🙂

July 6th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Suit yourself if you want to play masochist to his sadist. But I am sticking with my campaign.

July 6th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Shai said:

Dearest AIG,

Telling your own people what they want to hear is easy. But in order to make peace, you have to first convince the other side you’re serious. Olmert is attempting to do that. It has already been reported that his team is not asking the Syrians to “flip” (by your definition, to leave Iran, HA and Hamas), because they know what the Syrians will say. They’re being realistic, not wishful thinkers like you.

Let’s take a little poll, shall we. Ask everyone here, who is considered the “other side” of the conflict, with whom they would rather make peace – me, or you. If most say with you, I will formally take my hat off, and retreat quietly to my one-man cave of peace-fantasy la-la land. But if most say with me, will you admit that your democracy precondition is a fantasy, that will lead us only away from peace, not towards it? I’ll agree to an assumption that if we can convince the “other side”, we would get an agreement that we could present to Knesset, that would receive the support of most Israelis. If you can get this agreement, I’ll assume you could “market it”. If I can get it, you’ll have to assume I could. Fair enough?

July 6th, 2008, 6:07 pm

 

Alex said:

Zenobia

Can I answer him very briefly?? please? : )

AIG,

I have work to do, I can’t spend the whole day here “having fun” like you do everyday, including weekends, but I will answer you:

Everytime you ask a question that involves an extreme word … like “flip” … “lie” … “never” .. “always” … you are looking for trouble.

You are dealing with politics and politicians … and with real life situations … “the truth” is often (I did not say always) in between those dramatic words you use.

There will be no flipping Syria against Iran .. there will be a different relationship between the two countries … there will be no destroying Hizbollah .. there will be a different Hizbollah …

Alon is not lying to your people .. he is using language that they understand … those who are not today supporting peace with Syria want to hear a clear assurance that Syria will “flip” … in reality, they will get what they want … no military threat from Iran, no Syrian military cooperation with Iran … no hostility from Hizbollah …

Call it “flip” if you are a likudist.

Iran is ok with that.

I’m ok with that.

July 6th, 2008, 6:23 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I understand your frustration, believe me, I do. After all, he is ya’ani “one of ours”, more so than one of “yours”. I don’t know if he spends more than one hour of his year in Israel, or if he’s always residing in New Jersey, pontificating to Israelis and non-Israelis alike about democracy in the region. But if he doesn’t get a stage, how will we know to map out the anti-peacenicks that are and aren’t going to change their minds? How will we know what their agendas are? For instance, with AIG, it’s easy. His whole shtick is democracy in Syria. About 0.000001% of Israelis give a hoot about democracy in Syria. So we know that is an issue that may need to be addressed in the New Jersey Israeli election polls, but not in Israel. Most Israelis who are against peace will have to know that Syria will not continue to arm HA (directly or indirectly), and that their military alliance with Iran will change. I think both could be said, without lying. Alon Liel is expressing his belief that with time, Syria will naturally move away from Iran, and closer to the U.S., if it receives various incentives to do so. Personally, I think it’s a mistake to demand this of Syria, but Alon may not be talking about making this a precondition. But again, the deal will have to be “sold” to the Israelis. They must begin hearing the sounds they like… Marketing is everything, after all. Alon is doing nothing different from what Olmert, or Bibi, or Barak, or Sharon, or Begin would do. Only AIG would “tell the painful truth” – that Syria is not a democracy yet… 🙂

July 6th, 2008, 6:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

Promise me you don’t have a screen-saver with the words “IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG” on it…

July 6th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

Majhool said:

Looks like the story of the prison riot and the reported killing of prisoners is not worthy for the news-round @ SC

July 6th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

Zenobia said:

One report:

A live Massacre unfolds in the Saydnaya prison in Syria

The regime denies, and the world is silent

Update One

The event was reportedly instigated on July 4th, by the attitude of the prison guards, who during an unannounced search of prison cells, where Islamist prisoners are held, desecrated copies of the Qur’an. This led to a shoving match that soon developed into a full-scale riot when guards opened fire on prisoners and killed nine of them. Rather than getting cowed, the prisoners were up in arms about this, and the in the ensuing melee, more prisoners were killed, bringing the total to 25, but the prisoners got the upper-hand taking the warden of the prisoner and 8 of his top officers as hostages. This led to the surrender of many of the guards, bringing the total number of hostages to 300-400.

(The total number of prisoners in Saydnaya prison is variedly estimated at 3000-5000, most of which are political prisoners of various backgrounds, including Islamist of various trends, communists, liberals and Kurdish activists).

The remaining “free” officers used tear gas and drove the prisoners and their hostages to the roof of the prison, where one of some prisoners used cellular phones confiscated from the guards to get in touch with their human rights activists, news agencies and their parents. This is how we continue to get our information at this stage, albeit direct contact with the prisoners came to a halt at 3 pm on July 5th when the authorities shut down the local cellular service. After that, the main source of information became the parents and bystanders who travelled back forth between the prison site and the Tishreen Military Hospital in Damascus where the dead and wounded are being taken.

Before the interruption of direct communications, the prisoners managed to provide the details above in addition to the following points:

1) Prisoners have up until that point refrained from sing any of the confiscated weapons as a gesture of good will.

2) They have appointed one of their ranks to negotiate with the authorities, Yassir Bahr.

3) Their only demand was they will not be killed as a result of this development.

4) The authorities refused to make any promises and said that first, the prisoners should surrender, before discussions could take place, and threatened to storm the prison even if this lead to a 1,000 deaths.

5) When the prisoners refused to surrender, the authorities beat and arrested the main negotiator, Yasser.

6) By 3 pm, more than 30 tanks were surrounding the prison, as we as a number of armored divisions.

7) Rumors that the prison was bombed from the air spread among the local population, but they are known to be false, at least this was the case up until 3 pm.

8) Parents of inmates are gathered at a safe distance from prison.

This is where the situation stood at 3:00 pm, July 5th.

The Associated Press, BBC, Human Rights Watch, Al-Jazeerah, Al-Arabiyah and the Lebanese station New TV picked up on the event (in fact both the BBC and New TV spoke directly to one of the inmates who using a confiscated cell phone), the German government expressed concerns, and on the morning of July 6th, the Syrian Arab News Agency downplayed the event, describing as it as a riot instigated by imprisoned terrorist groups, and claiming that the situation was now under control.

It is not, as the next update will show.

Update Two:

* As of the morning of July 6, the prisoners are still holding their grounds on the roof of the prison, while government troops seem to be trying to shoot their way in.
* As a sign of good will, the prisoners have reportedly abandoned most confiscated weapons.
* Prisoners still hold many hostages including the warden and his top officers.
* More reinforcements were sent to the prison on the morn of July 6th.
* Ambulances continue to go back and forth between the prison and Tishreen hospital.
* Parents who went to Tishreen hospital were denied access. A crowd of over 200 parents is now surrounding the hospital. A scuffle with the authorities took place in the evening, security officers reportedly used force wounding many, blood can be seen on the ground in many locations around the entrance of the hospital.
* Mothers of the inmates who came to the prison site offered to negotiate with their sons and talk them into surrendering themselves, the authorities refused. As a result mothers tried to block access to the prison by camping on the road, security officers intervened, leading to a number of wounded.

The situation continues to unfold, despite official denials. Observers confirm this. The death toll will likely rise to several hundreds after all is done.

July 6th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

ugarit said:

Zenobia:

How very very sad 🙁

July 6th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

Zenobia said:

yes, sounds bad. this was sent to me, but I have no idea how reliable an account it is. Seems like something pretty bad is going on regardless if there may be some inaccuracies.

July 6th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

Nour said:

Anytime a prison riot unfolds, something bad happens. The fact is we don’t know what exactly took place at the prison which led to the current situation, and I am not absolving the prison guards from responsibility or the Syrian government for running such horrendous prisons, but I believe much of the story is being carried by the media with the intent of instigating sectarian sensitivities. The idea that the prison guards, most of whom are Muslim themselves, would desecrate the Qur’an is a bit too much to swallow. The problem is that everytime there’s an issue with the Islamists, they claim that the Qur’an was desecrated. The same scenario unfolded in Roumieh Prison in Lebanon a few months ago. We still don’t know to this day what happened to lead to those riots, but the Islamists claimed then also that the guards desecrated the Qur’an.

July 6th, 2008, 9:17 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai, Zenobia,

I understand your frustration, believe me, I do. After all, he is ya’ani “one of ours”, more so than one of “yours”.

I see you both are frustrated with AIG. I would be too, because it looks to me you both are having difficulty countering his well thought-out arguments.

Anyway, I was wondering if you are also frustrated with what looks to be a severe civil rights violation by the Syrian government as they used tanks to fire on those they are responsible for?

Are either of you planning to write a post or two voicing your displeasure, or will you just reserve your computer time to the actions of the Hebron settlers who beat up a Palestinian?

Zenobia said:

The death toll will likely rise to several hundreds after all is done.

Oh well.

July 6th, 2008, 9:28 pm

 

Karim said:

Majhool:Looks like the story of the prison riot and the reported killing of prisoners is not worthy for the news-round @ SC

Again,This silence is a proof the international and in fact more precisely the zionist covers that the minority regime still enjoy .

Nour insulting Islam and desacrating the Holy Quran are not uncommon things in the syrian prisons(and outside) and of course the unhealthy problem with this regime is that it’s sectarian by nature and essence ,so if we call the things as they are we are obliged to speak about the sectarian fact and we can not avoid it.That doesnt mean that we are sectarian but there is no other ways to deal with this problem other than exposing it as it is .

July 6th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

norman said:

Apparently nobody knows what is happening ,

so Let us wait and see before convicting anybody.

July 6th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

norman said:

عودة الهدوء إلى سجن صيدنايا بعد أحداث شغب أثارها “محكومون بالإرهاب” الاخبار المحلية

أعلن مصدر رسمي سوري الأحد أن السلطات تمكنت من إعادة الهدوء إلى سجن صيدنايا شمال دمشق بعد أعمال شغب أثارها سجناء محكومون بجرائم تتعلق بـ”الإرهاب” صباح أمس السبت.

وقالت وكالة الأنباء الرسمية السورية (سانا) إن “عددا من المساجين المحكومين بجرائم التطرف والإرهاب أقدموا على إثارة الفوضى والإخلال بالنظام العام في سجن صيدنايا”.

وأضافت أن هؤلاء السجناء “اعتدوا على زملائهم في الساعة السابعة من صباح يوم (أمس) السبت أثناء قيام إدارة السجن بالجولة التفقدية على السجناء”.

ولم يشير البيان إلى وقوع أي قتلى أو جرحى في أعمال الشغب هذه، فيما علق مصدر ذو صلة على الانباء التي تداولتها وسائل الاعلام السبت عن الاحداث بانها “مبالغ فيها”.

وقالت “سانا” إن أعمال الشغب هذه “استدعت التدخل المباشر من وحدة حفظ النظام لمعالجة الحالة وإعادة الهدوء للسجن”, مشيرة إلى أنه تم “تنظيم ضبوط بحالات الاعتداء على الغير وإلحاق الضرر بالممتلكات العامة لاتخاذ الإجراءات القانونية بحق المخالفين”.

وعزت مصادر اعلامية وحقوقية عملية التأخر في صدور البيان الرسمي الى انتظار السلطات السورية لانهاء اعمال الشغب تماما واعادة السيطرة الكاملة على السجن.

يذكر أن سجن صيدنايا بني عام 1978, ويقع على بعد 15 كلم شمال مدينة دمشق ويضم سجناء محكومين على خلفيات اسلامية وجنائية.

سيريانيوز

2008-07-06 13:47:19

July 6th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

offended said:

From the Angry Arab Blog:

A journalist in Jerusalem sent me this: “there was one unforgettable interview with a bulldozer operator who demolished the jenin camp in 2002. the guy was unemployed for over a year, was arrested over and over again for various misdemeanors, desperate, poor. he was recruited for his reserve duty. he sat in the bulldozer for 75 hours non-stop, demolishing the whole camp…he said: “the moment i got into the D9 i forgot all my troubles…as if i underwent a shift in my brain…my despair has disappeared. i went crazy. all i thought of were our soldiers who died. there were explosives everywhere. in the walls, in the roads, under the floors. but the bulldozer couldn’t care less. it’s an animal. more wild than a tank which has a soft stomach. i was not tired. i drank whisky all the time. i had a huge bottle with me. and some snacks..for 75 hours i didn’t think of my problems at home, at work. for three days i just demolished house after house…” amazing account…only difference: this one got out of it alive and a “hero”…the jenin demolisher goes on and says: “i didn’t see any people under the bulldozer…they ran out of the houses when we came…but even if they were people under the bulldozer, i couldn’t care less. i’m sure people died in those houses i demolished but i didn’t see them. there was lots of dust and we worked at night. i had great satisfaction from every house i pulled down. i knew they didn’t mind dying. the houses meant more to them…my only pain is that we didn’t manage to bulldoze the whole camp”. the bulldozer unit, which was considered till jenin as a service unit, no glory and no fame, got a medal for it’s work in jenin. the commander said in an interview: “till jenin we were considered those who did the dirty jobs…since jenin all that has changed. now they call us for every operation. the whole attitude towards us has changed…””

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2008/07/journalist-in-jerusalem-sent-me-this.html

July 6th, 2008, 10:22 pm

 

Nour said:

Karim,

Are you telling me that all of the prison guards in Syria are Alawis? I find that hard to believe. In fact, most of them happen to be Sunnis, and this is why I don’t believe they would desecrate the Qur’an.

I agree with you that the regime has behaved in a sectarian fashion in much of its history, but today there is a clear intent to incite sectarian strife in Syria, as there has been in Iraq and Lebanon. There is a desperate attempt by Saudi propaganda to provoke “Sunni” Syrians against their “Alawi” rulers. I believe it is a despicable campaign and I oppose it fully.

In addition, it is not in the interest of the regime to provoke Sunnis against them. This is why they are very careful with what they control and what they do not. They do not want the majority “Sunnis” in Syria to rise up against them, so they have to appease them to a certain extent. It is therefore counterproductive for them to engage in acts that would incite many Syrians against them.

July 6th, 2008, 10:32 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar,
lay off.

My attitude towards AIG has nothing to do with countering arguments.
It has to do with his activity here as a whole and the fact that I don’t believe he is having a good faith discussion. He is a total provocateur who is constantly baiting people with antagonizing rhetoric. Case in point above.

are you talking to me about writing posts? I have very little interest in writing on the blog at the moment as long as the provocateur is around baiting ….

July 6th, 2008, 11:17 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

Every israeli fantasy: US Nukes Iran. Sunnis Shias Alawis start killing each other. Hamas and Fatah backstab each other. Iraq is split up into three separate countries. Pushing the Saudis against the Persians Israel gets an American built oil pipeline [built with US raxpayers monies thats In addition to the already $8/10 million dollars a day they get every day of the year from DC] while at the same time baiting and switching on the Shebaa Farms, the Golan and the issue of the legality concerning the return of thousands of Palestinian.

in the meantime still fantasizing that the long standing policy of telling DC what to do or not do is still operational and the continuing incitement of people in their neighborhood is still to their advantage.

According to a web site that claims knowledge of religious matters it notes that The Talmud stresses the point that a Jew never lies while the so called goyim [non jew] is a born liar.

Belated best wishes to non-dual citizen Americans on 7-4-08.

One would think that after 60 years of literally being scre*ed the literati n the region have discarded their rose colored glasses.

July 6th, 2008, 11:21 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Ghat

Every israeli fantasy: US Nukes Iran. Sunnis Shias Alawis start killing each other. Hamas and Fatah backstab each other. Iraq is split up into three separate countries.

This is no fantasy, this is exactly what the Israel Mossad, the IDF and AIPAC are presently brewing in the Israeli ‘pentagon’. Who would blame them? They are smart and they are are paid to do their job of protecting their country, in whatever means, moral or amoral.

July 6th, 2008, 11:32 pm

 

Majhool said:

Karim,

You are correct. that’s why it’s a crime in Syria to bring the issue of sectarianism up.

I pitty the guards as they are just following the orders. It took Syria-news 2 days to bring the issue up after they carefully worded the news piece (they are slow). This regime seems stuck in its old ways and not able to come up with better ways to address new challenges. it remains the case that overly macho savage security heads are ruling the country leaving their marks (negative that is) in every aspect in Syrian life.

July 7th, 2008, 3:09 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Akbar,
Don’t worry about Zenobia. The leftist elitists usually go stalinist when they can’t put forward a decent argument. They immediately attribute “bad faith”, “lack of patriotism” etc. etc. to their interlocuters and try to shut them up. In the end it is just intellectual cowardice.

July 7th, 2008, 3:46 am

 

Shai said:

AP,

I actually have an easier time responding to your comments than to AIG’s. You seem somewhat more “normal” for some reason, despite your irrational dislike of liberals. Listen, what we’re talking about here is peace. We’re not here for academic arguments, or for seeking justice. I, at least, am trying to learn, to understand, to bridge over gaps where possible (without compromising on my mother’s house), and to start creating some atmosphere of trust, which has been missing for the better part of 60 years between Jews and Arabs.

We won’t get very far in any of these goals I mentioned, if all we do all day long is argue Syrian freedoms, will we? Developing empathy is crucial here, and I don’t think AIG’s endless ranting about democracy in Syria is getting Israel ANY empathy, do you? My approach at least says to the other side “I’m here to listen, I’m ready to accept responsibility for my action, and I want to move forward, not backward.” How has AIG moved forward with anyone here? Point to one commentator, besides Bashmann, that believes AIG’s approach is getting us closer to peace. But you can point to everyone else, who thinks AIG is doing a terrible disservice to Israel, making us look exactly like what the Arab street is saying all along.

Instead of focusing on how “liberals” are appeasing dictators here, why not see what contribution they might be making to creating some level of trust or even empathy (that is two-ways, no only toward the Arab side) that are prerequisite for any peace to take place? If this forum is only used to debate “facts”, and nothing more, then I think it’s a wonderful opportunity missed completely, to brings Jews and Arabs together. If they cannot see in Israelis people that can accept responsibility for their own crimes, how can they be expected to empathize with any of our concerns? We are the far stronger side, and far greater numbers of Palestinians suffer because of Israel each day than Israelis because of Syria. Surely we can and should demonstrate a willingness to accept that, no?

In a beautiful world, we’d all be democracies, and none of us would be bitter enemies. But we know that’s not our world. Ours has sides that have committed terrible atrocities in our region throughout history. It is with these sides we have to make peace. Israel has to talk to a dictator, and Syria has to talk to an Israeli PM that still allows the Occupation to take place. If we wait for everyone to become “good”, not only our children, but even our grandchildren won’t see peace. Syria cannot set as precondition the end to Israelis’ innate discrimination (at times plain racism) towards Arab-Israelis, which is an internal struggle, and Israel cannot demand to first see democracy in Syria. It would have been nice, but unrealistic to wait for. We need to make peace, and the sooner the better. You yourself know the danger Iran is posing, Al Qaida, and new groups that pop up every other day in our region. We need to join any and all those who wish for peace. That is the only way to hope to counter our challenges ahead, and have a chance to see a safer and brighter day.

Maybe it’s sheer fantasy, but don’t we owe it to our children to try? And if we are to try, isn’t the right approach to search for common ground, and where we are willing to compromise, rather than seek nonstarters and spoilers? It’s easy to suggest on SC things that we know would be plainly dismissed at the negotiation table (democracy-first, for instance). And let’s do the one thing we finally can do, which is develop empathy towards our “rival”. He will do the same, if he feels we are sincere. And then there will be a chance to talk about peace. But not one minute before.

July 7th, 2008, 4:08 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What we owe our children is to speak truthfully to our enemies and make sure things are not worse. Oslo was an awful mistake perpetuated by Shai like tendencies to gloss over the difficult issue and try to find that things we can agree on. This kind of attitude only creates expectations that can never get fulfilled and leads to more radicalism on both sides.

No, both sides should be brutally honest with each other about what they want and what their expectations are. It is better to have non-peace for decades than war because both sides expectations are dashed. In Israel we have had enough of the leftists that keep painting rosy pictures made of BS and then leading Israel into more trouble always with the excuse that what they did was “not left enough”. If only Shimon Peres was more of a leftist etc. Yalla Shai, take your BS and sell it somewhere else but not to Syrians here as this will make the chances of peace long term zero. If we follow your strategy and let Syrians languish under dictatorships supported by us for decades, they will really hate our guts just like the case with the Egyptians.

Take the prison break example. If we make peace with Asad wouldn’t the islamists see us as a partner of Asad? Of course they would. If the US gives Asad money and weapons, would the islamist see the US as their enemy? Of course they would. We would be betting on the wrong horse. Let the Syrians first make peace between themselves. Then they can make peace with Israel. Otherwise, we are taking sides in a civil war.

July 7th, 2008, 4:45 am

 

ugarit said:

AIG said: “If we follow your strategy and let Syrians languish under dictatorships supported by us for decades, they will really hate our guts just like the case with the Egyptians.”

Are you that naive to think that Egyptians hate Israel merely because Israel supports a dictator? They hate Israel because of what it has done and does to Palestinians. Their hate would be even more pronounced if they lived in a democracy.

So Israel will be hated either way until it atones for its sins.

July 7th, 2008, 4:51 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ugarit,
People in democracies that have real rights and hope for a bright future do not go to war unless they absolutely have to and they vote out of office politicians that do not give them economic development. Arabs in real democracies will still hate Israel for many reasons, not only the Palestinians, but they will not let their economic well being be compromised by war. Good enough for me.

The dictators in the Arab world are killing any hope of true development. They are formenting hate against Israel and Jews to keep criticism from themselves. By killing the hopes of Arabs, they are the main cause of extremism in the Arab world. Israel is making a grave mistake supporting Mubarak and shouldn’t repeat the mistake with Asad. The dictatorships in Syria and Egypt are not sustainable in the long term. There would have to be real reforms or there will be civil war. The demographics in these two countries are out of control.

July 7th, 2008, 5:10 am

 

Zenobia said:

Give me a break, AIG.
I am not interested in ‘intellectual’ debate with you. YOU are not an intellectual. Surprised?

I have been putting forward decent arguments on this blog way way way before you arrived, and one day when you are gone, I might start doing it again!
but I will not succumb to your garbage you spew out here everyday.

Nice excuses, when the fact is that I just think you are a disingenuous faker and someone trying to wreck this blog. It has nothing to do with arguments or counterarguments. I see how you operate, and I think it is unacceptable and a waste of time.

Akbar happens to have been participating on this blog a lot longer than you, and clearly, he has many views that many other people don’t share, and I often don’t agree with him. However, i have no problem with his contribution or way of behaving and talking. In fact, I LIKE the style that Akbar takes as his MO. He is totally to the point, non-personal, non-insulting, and he doesn’t whine on and on and on about the same damn points over and over again like YOU , AIG.
Akbar is consistent in his beliefs, but he doesn’t sound like an obsessive one track brain like YOU.

so, SORRY, don’t lump yourself with Akbar.
I want to shut you up because I am so sick of listening to you repeat yourself over and over without any new reflections or nuances at all. And I am sick of listening to you bait people in a provocative way, ‘straw man’ing their arguments, twisting things to fit your framing of the debate, incessantly and without any self consciousness whatsoever.

Don’t worry, I may leave just to spare myself the torture of watching you have “fun” and screw with people here and ruin it. But one of these days, you will be gone from this blog. You can count on that.

July 7th, 2008, 5:49 am

 

Off The Wall said:

AIG
Your assertion
People in democracies that have real rights and hope for a bright future do not go to war unless they absolutely have to and they vote out of office politicians that do not give them economic development

My response:

Wrong on all counts

Democracies have gone into many criminal and needless wars, they really did not have to, but their “elected” leaders wanted to. Starting with your own latest war on Lebanon. How about the invasion of Iraq. a majority of the US citizens now recognize the Bush and his criminal gangs took us to war based on false pretense. And he still got re-elected.

France was a democracy during the later part of the Algerian revolution, yet it decided, Algeria is French, and continued an immoral occupation, with what transpired of torture, murder, and terrorism from both side. France did not have to, it wanted to.

The UK was a democracy when an officer in the British Army decided to teach the Indians a lesson. It was a massacre. GB. Did not have to retain its colonies, it wanted to.

The economic downturn here in the US was clear and evident before the 2004 election. And yet, Bush and co were able not only to be re-elected, but to continue their criminal acts for 4 more years of Kafkan nightmares.

Democracies give their citizens a false belief of self righteousness. Of superior intellect and values. Take a real look and you will find that in most democracies, elections are bought and sold by special interests. These interests rule under the disguize of majority rule. The citizens in democracies assume that because they are democracies, (i.e., superior system of government), their leaders are infallible when it comes to foriegn policy. After all, they represent them. They give their leaders they have the right to kill, maim, and now-aday torture, in order tro civilize others and to spread democracy. Excuse me for saying that I find George bush call to democratize and free Iraq as nothing more than a Racist, christian fundamentalist call for a new Crusade.

July 7th, 2008, 6:19 am

 

zenobia said:

Dear OFF the Wall,

Excellent points and argument, as were the many other comments you made earlier today, or might have been yesterday (depending on where in the world you are).
As, I believe it was Naji, said, it is fantastic to hear a new voice on SC, especially a well thought out one. We appreciate it, and need it!

My best advice regarding the one above though is …. (in the words of my newest version of my campaign) :

IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG
IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG IGNORE AIG

just a suggestion….

July 7th, 2008, 6:33 am

 

Shai said:

Off the Wall,

If that’s the kind of rationale that comes “off the wall”, I’d like to reside a little closer to that “wall”… 🙂 Well done, fantastic comments indeed.

AIG,

What amazes me, is your unshakeable trust in your ability to know what’s better for Syrians, than the Syrians you meet here each and every day. Who here, besides Bashman, has ever told you that you’re right? Who has supported your “non-peace” as opposed to my “war”? Who?

You say we should “speak truthfully” to our enemies? What are you talking about? What “truth”? What makes you think there is such a thing? And if there was, what makes you think YOURS is the right one? In real life, AIG, there is NO one truth, there are only subjective truths. Because what matters are not the so-called “facts”, but rather their interpretations by each side. The 1947-8 conflict is considered the War of Independence to Israelis, while a Naqba to the Palestinians and the Arab world. Very different interpretations. We cannot address “facts”. We can only address their interpretations. And when you’re trying to reach common ground, and not force change upon one another, you must be open enough to change your outlook based on someone else’s interpretation, which often differs from yours 100%.

How can I possibly live in peace with my neighbors, if they do not come to understand, to empathize in some fashion, with me and my history? To understand why it is that I built a nation 60 years ago? To forgive me for what I did to so many of their people? I will never reach this, if I don’t at least demonstrate an understanding and empathy with their own pain. If I don’t sincerely show any kind of remorse for the suffering I’ve inflicted over the years upon others. Does that make me a “liberal” or a “leftist”? That’s a shame if you say yes. Can Likudniks not be humanists? Can they not feel other people’s pain? Can they not apologize for inflicting pain upon others? Of course they can. But they don’t need to come up with ridiculous excuses for showing their humanity, by caring so much about “democracy” in other nations. No one buys it, AIG, no one. Not one person here, besides Bashman, has thanked you for caring so much about Syria. Most here have told you to lay off with that propaganda. This is not my impression, this is what they say and write to you, each and every day.

Why is it that Begin, Sharon, Netanyahu, and Olmert, all decades-long members of your Likud party, have been able to make peace with these non-democratic Arab regimes, yet you cannot? Why is it they never placed such preconditions, yet you do? Are they also “liberal leftists”? After all, it is THEY who delivered land and control back to these non-democratic regimes, not I. It was THEY who recognized these dictators, not I. I merely talk, they acted. And, they were the founding fathers of your own party. They lead the Likud, and they lead our nation. And yet, you cannot change, only they could. How do you explain that AIG? Why focus on us “liberals”, when you should first look closely at your own “home”, and try to derive some lessons?

July 7th, 2008, 8:42 am

 

ugarit said:

AIG said: “People in democracies that have real rights and hope for a bright future do not go to war unless they absolutely have to and they vote out of office politicians that do not give them economic development.”

Ok that’s it. You’re really ignorant and your knowledgebase is kindergarten level.

July 7th, 2008, 11:20 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia, Shai,

Thank you for the words of support. But I have to disappoint you and reiterate that I basically agree with AIG. It is preferrable to make peace with a democracy. The fundamental problem associated with the ME IS the lack of democracy. Yes, AIG is very focused on this issue, and for sure, most of the participants on this forum have tired from AIG’s fundamental argument. I suppose AIG feels very strongly about it. And yes, I know I have a similar “one-track mind” with the issue liberalism.

My distaste for liberalism came about due to the Oslo agreements (which I was originally cautiously optimistic about). As you know, Oslo was built on trust with a known terrorist, and the whole thing fell like a house of cards. AIG’s comment, “They are formenting hate against Israel and Jews to keep criticism from themselves”, is true in every sense. It worked for Arafat, and it is working for every other rejectionist government and organization, including Venezuela.

Would I have made the peace treaties with Eygpt and Jordan as the agrrements are now? Yes. Are they democracies? No. OTOH, I find it interesting that Eygpt and Jordan are all looked upon by “the Arab street” as traitorous and corrupt by making peace with Israel, so I am wondering how Syria will be regarding if she makes peace with Israel too. I am sure Assad is weighing this decision carefully. He, like Arafat, could just be playing for time.

Once again, I think AIG is correct: the decision Assad has to make is quite simple: should he make peace with Israel and the West in order to ensure his leadership until the day he dies, or should he follow the same path of “resistance” and risk an untimely death at the hands of the Zionists or a couple of dozen competing terror groups?

The Golan and the land and the plight of the Palestinians, I’m sorry to say, has little to do with his decision. I don’t even think The Protocols has much to add in this regard;)

I have to say that I find this website an excellent venue for understanding the two side of the conflict. It has satisfactory representation from each side. Perhaps if we ever get to meet one day, I am sure we will see that we are closer to understanding each other than what we are experiencing here on this blog.

Feel free to contact me off-line: palace.akbar@gmail.com

Instead of focusing on how “liberals” are appeasing dictators here, why not see what contribution they might be making to creating some level of trust or even empathy (that is two-ways, no only toward the Arab side) that are prerequisite for any peace to take place?

Shai,

We are trying. There are tonnes of pro-peace activists in Israel who are doing a great job of interacting with the Palestinians. As you know, Jews are not a one-dimensional people;) B’Tzelem is doing a great job documenting abuse of Palestinians, helping them in court and making sure thugs are brought to justice. I probably don’t acknowledge their good work enough. Now I do.

You yourself know the danger Iran is posing, Al Qaida, and new groups that pop up every other day in our region.

In a similar vein Shai, I don’t think you do enough to call the Islamic rejectionists “on the carpet”. I would like to see a little more urgency in your writings concerning this phenomenon. Let’s be fair.

July 7th, 2008, 11:36 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

OTW,

My argument is simple, but not as simple as you make it to be. You are a newcomer here so let me give you some detail.

Adminstrations that are accountable to their people (democracies), cannot stay in power long if they don’t provide economic development. That is why Bush Sr. lost to Clinton and that is why if Bush would run again he would lose badly. In 2004 it was not clear at all that the economy was in a downward trend and in fact it looked as if Bush’s tax cuts had helped the economy overcome the post 9/11 downturn.

Wars in general hurt economies and require much funds that could be spent on education, health, building infrastructure etc. That is why politicians that get into stupid wars that most of the public deems unnecessary, usually pay the price. That is why the UK could not hold onto its colonies after WWII. It just did not have the money to do it and it became unpopular in the UK. Same goes for the French in Vietnam and Algieria. It is not that democracies do not make mistakes, and by that I mean pursue policies that are really bad for economic development. They do, but overtime, because of accountability and the ability to change administrations, they figure out that they are on a wrong course and change directions. The average person in the world may not know much about the intracacies of Lebanese politics but he knows very well whether he is better off than in the previous elections and he knows what he feels about his childrens’ future.

Contrast this with 40 years of Asad reign that have brought dismal growth to Syria and have left it far behind many other countries. No accountability has meant no change and no economic development. In our day and age economic development is very much tied to foreign investment and to the ability to trade with the rest of the world, most importantly the West. Thus, any accountable Syrian regime would not stay long in power if it decided to be confrontational and go against the West. Even Bashar understands this very well and is trying to mend his relations.

The bottom line is simple, if there were accountable regimes in Arab countries, they would concentrate by and large on economic development and not on useless wars with Israel or on fostering a culture of “resistance”. Economic development means good ties with the West and that means a committment to solve all problems with Israel in a non-violent manner. And that is good enough for me.

July 7th, 2008, 1:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
How in fact are you showing “empathy” with the average Syrian by leaving him to languish under an oppressive dictator for several more decades? Your “empathy” is nothing more than taking side in a civil war.

And enough of the relativist mumbo jumbo. Let’s have the simple truth: In retrospect, are you glad that in the 1948 war 80% of Palestinians left or were evicted? I am glad that I didn’t have to make the decision but the truth is that I am glad this happened because without it there would be no Jewish state. So what do you want me and most other Israelis to do? Be hypocritical and apologize for something we are happy about?

In the end, you bring us close to war with your attitude because it is clear that you are not sincere and are not speaking the truth. You are glad just like me that Ben-Gurion evicted Palestinians, so what are you apologizing for? And what use is your apology if you are not willing to take them back?

Peace will come when the Arabs understand that history has no rewind button and accept a Jewish state in the middle east. Until then, let us make do with no war.

July 7th, 2008, 2:12 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You want to here some other voices from Syria? Now tell me you are not taking sides in a civil war.
Here you are:

From the Prisoners of Conscience in Damascus Central Prison Al Adra
April 29, 2007

We are prisoners of conscience and opinion in Damascus Central Prison, lawyer Anwar Al Bunni, writer Michel Kilo, Dr. Kamal Labwani, activists Mahmoud Issa, and Faek Al Mir, and Professor Aref Dalila who could not be reached as he spends his sixth year in solitary confinement. After the sentencing of lawyer Anwar Al Bunni on 24 April 2007, we would like to say thank you and greet our families, friends, and all the people, groups, committees, organizations, associations, parties and political assemblies of Arabs, Kurds and Assyrians in Syria and the Arab world. We thank and greet the official representatives, countries, media and websites that support us by protesting our trials and arrests, and denying the accusations against our colleague Anwar Al Bunni.

We would like to send our heartfelt greetings and thanks to all of you and hope that your noble and brave attitude will not stop only with denying these accusations and supporting our cause. Our case as prisoners of conscience is part of the continuing crisis of basic freedoms and human rights in Syria that began with the Emergency Law 44 years ago. This crisis reached its height in the 1980s and again today by an increase in tyranny, arrests and the suppression of fundamental freedoms.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have paid a horrible price, some with their lives, others with the loss of years and youth from inhumane prison conditions and cruel torture. Still more have suffered by being forced to escape the tyranny or enter into voluntary exile, another difficult experience. Other Syrians stayed, throwing salt on their wounds and binding their tongues to save themselves pain. Those that couldn’t live with their tongues tied faced a future in prison, homeless and alone. For the few people that climbed to the top of the tyranny and darkened Syrian society, they have contributed to the corruption, theft and poverty that have strangled the necks of the people.

The denial of fundamental human rights in Syria is the main case that we work for and your support for prisoners of conscience is part of this fight. Fighting for the release of these prisoners is a duty, not only to decrease their suffering and their families’ pain, but also to encourage others by knowing they are not alone. We must give society hope, making sure its doors and streets are not closed. With the power of hope it is possible to fight the crisis of freedom and human rights in Syria in a peaceful way.

Terrorism is the enemy of mankind and civilization itself. It flourishes in societies that lack freedom and close doors to peaceful expression, leaving violence as a way of expressing oneself. Inside these societies suffering from poverty, where they find no well being on earth they will turn to the heavens and the answers that it may provide them. The lack of basic freedoms and human rights coupled with poverty are two faces of the same coin in the Third World. Syria is at the forefront of totalitarian countries, ruled from an isolated point of view with its citizens either idle passengers or doomed to be labeled traitors

The lack of freedom, means of expression, political participation and accountability leads to the growth of corruption, despotism, looting of public funds, rampant poverty and the collapse of moral values. The real fight against terrorism must not only be about combating extremist ideas. These ideas have existed throughout history, though they will always remain on the periphery, isolated and shunned, unless they find fertile soil to take root and grow. If they are allowed to develop in the soil of society, they will spread like toxic plants, poisoning communities and innocent people.

Addressing the root causes of terrorism requires opening up pathways to free expression and the peaceful exchange of ideas. By giving people unfettered freedom we can blunt the sword of injustice, oppression and domination to grant full political participation, a hand in future decision-making, accountability, the preservation of equality and a life of dignity. This would make the world a safer place and improve international security.

Syrians have paid a high price for their rights and freedom and we hope to be the last group forced to pay this price to help the great Syrian people. To do this we need more than your solidarity and denunciations. We need constant and tireless efforts to compel Syrian authorities to respect human rights, international law and the treaties and agreements it has signed which demand freedom of expression and opinion. The release of political prisoners is a necessary first step, including the abolition of the State Emergency Law and other such laws like Decree 49 signed in 1980 or the Hasakah Accountability Decree of 1962. Syria must abolish the State Security Court, compensate those that have suffered, create an independent judiciary, end torture and hold perpetrators responsible. They must stop political arrests and ensure the freedom of the press, allowing political participation and the formation of parties, organizations and civil society.

They must stop the looting of public funds and policies of impoverishment and domination. However, these steps are just the beginning necessary to put Syria on the path to security and move towards development, progress and the protection of national unity that now suffers from division and tension. These rifts and divisions are now impossible to conceal, despite the dancing and celebrations and empty rhetoric about a healthy society that in reality is sick and suffering. As prisoners of conscience and opinion we are apprehensive about the future of our homeland, our children and our very decision to shape Syria’s future. However, we will not be deterred by threats, intimidation, and the repression of long years of imprisonment that we face to save our country and ourselves

Adra Prison. 28-4-2007

July 7th, 2008, 2:52 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

From his comments one cannot be but impressed with AIG’s input [whether true massaged and/or fabricated] about historical occurences in one or two Syrian prisons.

His concluding statement of, “we will not be deterred by thrats, intimidation and repression of long years of imprisonment…..” fits to a T so to speak what the million or so imprisoned for many a year in Gaza would challenge their israeli warden and guards.

AIG;s Attempts at being sanctimonious can only be termed as “jerking-off” readers and contributors to Syria Comment as well as also being a by-product of his real duties of participating as a sayanim on this forum

July 7th, 2008, 3:39 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG said:

“How in fact are you showing “empathy” with the average Syrian by leaving him to languish under an oppressive dictator for several more decades? Your “empathy” is nothing more than taking side in a civil war.”

The “average Syrian” is not a political prisoner … 20 million Syrians are living more or less a normal life… most of them want great relations with all their neighbors, including Israel. They want to hear from Israelis like Shai and they can’t stand characters like you who dream of civil wars in Syria or some of “Israel’s friends” in America who work tirelessly to start new wars in the Middle East.

I will start deleting your comments if you don’t try harder to stay away from your tiring hard core negative propaganda and personal attacks on others here you disagree with.

STICK to 4 COMMENTS PER DAY .. that will help you concentrate on the more useful of your comments.

If you exceed 4 per day I will have to ban you for a month.

July 7th, 2008, 3:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

ghat Albird,
You are not quoting me. You are quoting Kilo and others who wrote this letter. I just posted it to get Shai to understand that those people are the authentic voice of the Syrian people, not Asad and his supporters on this blog and that by giving Asad legitimacy Israel would be turning its back on those people and that would be against Israeli interests in my opinion.

I really like your accusation. When I put forward a principled argument for democracy I am “sanctimonious” and when Israel and the West support dictators in the Arab world, we are “hypocrites”. Given the no win situation, I will stick with “sanctimonius” simply because that is what is best for Israel.

July 7th, 2008, 4:16 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

With all due respect, you are not exactly “qualified” to lecture to anyone here about civil war in Syria. Your two and half articles, voicing Syria’s “real voices” are not enough to establish anything about what Syrians really want or need. On the other hand, I’ve already mentioned to you that I doubt most Syrians on this site are ex-baathists that support the existence of a dictatorship in Syria for the next 100 years. They are ALL supporters of freedom and democracy. But they, unlike you, might KNOW something on how to go about it, and in any case, it is purely THEIR country, and their struggle, not yours…

Your attempt at making me seem hypocritical is sad. Why can I not be happy a state of Israel was established, yet very sad about the way it happened (i.e. at the cost of many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who became refugees, and have been suffering ever since.)? Your logic says that if you’re happy America won the war, and eventually created a democracy in Japan, that you must necessarily also be happy it dropped two nuclear bombs, and destroyed between 50%-90% of Japan’s 67 largest cities. I’m happy I’m an Israeli, and not a Polish refugee, but I’m sad it came at the suffering of someone else. That’s not hypocrisy, that’s the sad truth, and that’s empathizing with the Palestinians’ tragedy.

I’m bringing us closer to war? Are you taking any heavy drugs nowadays? You must be joking. Is there anyone here that agrees with that statement? If so, please let me know…

July 7th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Perhaps the US could have won the war without destroying so many Japanese cities. But certainly a Jewish state would not have come into being without the eviction of Palestinians. That is an undeniable fact. The eviction was NECESSARRY. There was no other way to bring about the state. That is the major difference. You cannot be happy about the Jewish state without accepting that the eviction was something good also because it was the only way to bring about the Jewish state.

What you are saying is the following: Mr. Palestinian, I am really very sorry and heartbroken but I must evict you from your land for the creation of the Jewish state. Oh, it must be so horrible being a refugee, sorry again for evicting you, but you see I needed to do it and I am happy about the result. Please understand me.

What I am saying is the following: Shit happens. There is no rewind button for history. Nobody is going to bring to life the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis and the Palestinians are not going to return. One does not justify the other just examples of shit happening. You think there was an injustice committed against the Palestinians. Fine. You are entitled to your point of view. 60 years is long enough time to solve any refugee problem especially since you have your Arab brothers. I do not plan to return to Poland and you should not plan returning to Israel.

Which approach is more sincere?

Of course the struggle in Syria is not mine and it is not yours. So why are you taking sides with Asad?

July 7th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

“Shit happens”? Is that supposed to bridge the gaps of hatred, suspicion, and distrust between Jews and Arabs? That’s all you can say to the Palestinian refugees? Is that what the Germans said to the Jews, after WWII? Jesus man, have you no ability to empathize? Is it all so cut and dry? Can you not see what the other side needs from YOU, before it is able to give you what you need (peace, security)? It’s mind staggering that you’re so incapable of feeling anything – that to you, it’s all about “facts”.

I’m not taking Assad’s side, nor any particular Syrian’s. I’m taking the side of peace. Nothing more, nothing less. Because YOU think I’m condoning dictatorships, doesn’t mean others see it that way. I imagine most of the democracy and freedom seeking commentators here would have realized that about me, and mentioned it already. They haven’t. Why haven’t they?

And you never answered my question. I’ll repeat it again:

“Why is it that Begin, Sharon, Netanyahu, and Olmert, all decades-long members of your Likud party, have been able to make peace with these non-democratic Arab regimes, yet you cannot? Why is it they never placed such preconditions, yet you do? Are they also “liberal leftists”? After all, it is THEY who delivered land and control back to these non-democratic regimes, not I. It was THEY who recognized these dictators, not I. I merely talk, they acted. And, they were the founding fathers of your own party. They lead the Likud, and they lead our nation. And yet, you cannot change, only they could. How do you explain that AIG? Why focus on us “liberals”, when you should first look closely at your own “home”, and try to derive some lessons?”

July 7th, 2008, 5:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Yes, that is what the Europeans said to the Jews after WWII: Shit happens. What else did they say? “Oh, with second thought, Nazism was not such a good idea. Sorry about that. The 6 million killed that was really horrible. We will be more nice from now and here are $3 billion. We hope that helps raise the 6 million from the dead.” That is just a polite way to say shit happens and we cannot rewind history.

Saying you are on the side of peace is a cop out. There is an on going civil war in Syria in which Asad is currently winning. Making peace with him is helping him win this civil war and it is against the long term interests of Israel. It is telling the democracy advocates in Syria “goto hell”, we don’t care what Asad is doing as long as he does not shoot rockets at us. That is against Israel’s long term interests.

Over the last decade, the view in the Likud party has changed and many realize that long term peace requires democracy in the middle east. Nothing else will work. That is also one of the reasons of the split of Kadima and the Likud.

July 7th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

First, I appreciate your comments. I respect you for your stance, even though I disagree with much of it. Yet we are able to discuss things, because I think we can feel a mutual and honest attempt to listen to each side, and perhaps even change our mind. I sense this from you, but I don’t from AIG. I only sense closed-minded stubbornness that, I believe, comes off as nothing more than propaganda. If AIG intends something other than that, he’s missing it altogether. It is quite plain to see how the overwhelming majority of commentators here view him.

You said: “It is preferrable to make peace with a democracy.” I completely agree. But if we don’t have it, must we wait for it? Can we afford to do that? Is time truly “on our side”? This is where I differ strongly with many who believe the threats and dangers are either decreasing, or are “controllable”. I believe neither is true. Not because Syria is getting stronger and could suddenly drive its 21st century tanks down to Hadera, on route to Tel-Aviv. But because Al Qaida is already active in Sinai and Gaza, and because Iran is in essence right on our borders, and because many nations in our region are now seeking nuclear technology, fearing either Israel, or an Islamic Revolution sweeping across their lands, or both.

To make it clear, I am also terribly disappointed with Oslo. I also share similar feelings about Arafat. Like you, I was also cautiously optimistic, and I was proven wrong. Indeed Arafat did not seem to be genuinely interested in peace, at least not in any serious way I could understand or see. He and his Fatah became corrupt beyond recognition, and unfortunately all the financial mechanisms were put in place without real control, and only fed this corruption further. The Palestinian people suffered, and all of us could understand why they eventually voted Hamas (even the secular Palestinians). Arafat missed an historic opportunity to finally bring his people freedom. This could have been done already 15 years ago, because he had all the right environment in Israel at the time. Today, as we know, most Israelis do not trust the Palestinians, and it would take a lot to change that. Personally, I believe Syria could help us in that, but that’s academic, it still has to be proven.

As you have a natural distaste for liberalism, I too distaste neocons, or extreme conservatism. But I recognize their legitimate right to exist politically and, in fact, will fight to enable their continuation. That is not only true democracy, but that is multiplicity of ideas, and a way to keep things checked. We need to hear more than one side. And we need to be open and courageous enough to be able to change our mind. We don’t necessarily switch camps every other Tuesday. But if my 4.5 year-old can teach me things when she comes back from kindergarten each day, then certainly a neocon can, and I’d like to hope that also vice-versa. But this cannot happen if we’re not open-minded, or respectful of one another.

Will Syria be reagarded as traitorous by the Arab street? I don’t know. I hope not, because chances are it won’t repeat Egypt and Jordan’s mistake of signing a peace agreement that didn’t truly incorporate regional comprehensiveness to it. I believe the Palestinian issue will be mentioned a lot, and we already know that true peace will not be achieved until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved. In the meantime, we can probably only hope for “superficial” peace, and to have Syria help serve as broker with Fatah/Hamas and Israel. Still, to me, that’s far better than no-peace, or certainly war. It would be a major and necessary step in the right direction. I understand your fear that Assad is playing for time, like Arafat did. I believe he is not, but if he is, let’s call his bluff. Let’s start talking to him, let’s see what he says. Let’s not forget, there has been no Arab leader in the history of our region, that has called out for peace as much as Bashar Assad has. During the past 4-5 years, he has passed messages, both formal and informal, directly and indirectly, through just about every possible means, about peace. Do we not owe it to our children to at least try?

As for flipping Syria, you’ve read my comments in the past. If Iran is about to go nuclear, I’d much rather have a Syrian peace partner that is Iran’s “best friend”, than its “ex-wife”. Same for HA/Hamas. And I’ve stated before that for peace with Israel, Syria WILL have to change its military relationship with Iran/HA/Hamas. It can continue to ally itself politically with anyone it wants, and with some, it may indeed in our best interest. But it cannot financially or militarily support our enemies. That will have to stop, and I believe Syria is well aware of it. I cannot fathom that Olmert’s guys in Turkey aren’t saying this by now and, frankly, they probably don’t even have to. Syria, and Assad, are not idiots. They know our red lines. But let’s not also demand dumping Iran, which is just not going to happen. Why should Syria give up on its strongest ally, not knowing what kind of future it has with Israel or the US? And it sees the mistake Egypt made, and doesn’t want to repeat it. But again, I have no doubt it is in our very best interest to have Syria close to Iran, than away from it (but not militarily).

Your words “Perhaps if we ever get to meet one day, I am sure we will see that we are closer to understanding each other than what we are experiencing here on this blog.” mean a lot to me, and I very much appreciate them. AP, the minute I saw what this forum was like, already 4-5 months ago, I was thinking of trying to get everyone together. I was envisioning you and AIG and myself, sitting around a table with all our other friends, and discussing, and arguing, and then shaking hands and hugging, knowing that at least we all want the same thing – peace. And I believe you want it as badly as I do. We must pass that message on to others, it must cut across our political views. We have to show that we are capable of it. Many do not believe we are.

Your last comment about me not doing enough to “call the Islamic rejectionists” is very true. But I suppose that’s the case, because I find it contrary to my interests and objectives in this forum. You remember how I reacted to that Bondo guy, and to some very antisemitic comments I heard here and there. But the overwhelming majority of people here are truly FOR peace with Israel, and truly are NOT anti-Jewish. They can hate us Zionists, and I can understand why, yet they’d love to make peace with an Israel that shows it can understand what it has done to the Palestinians, and end it. Why can we not hear someone say to us “I hate what you’ve done, and what you’re doing, yet I still have hope it can change, and I’m ready to give peace a chance?” And, in fact, most here are not even that blunt, though I know they feel it. But in this forum, I’m not gaining much by suggesting that “Hey, but you know YOUR side has also wronged, and has also committed atrocities, and yet you’re not addressing that…” First, because I assume that they know it far better than I do. And Second, because my efforts are in trying to bridge gaps, not reinforce them. I’d much rather talk about the future, than about the past. The time will come for that too, one day. But our nerves are way too exposed right now, to point fingers and remind each side of their faults as well. Now’s the time to build trust, to demonstrate empathy, and to find common ground.

So you’re right, in that sense, I’m not being “fair” to history. But although I have a masters in history, I’ll let “real historians” do that job. I’m only here to get closer to our neighbors, so that this wonderful opportunity technology and one Alex and one Joshua have offered us, isn’t wasted away, and not used to further the cause of peace. I promise you, I will not relinquish one gram of Israel’s earth on this site… that’s up to negotiators to do at the table. I can live without the Golan and West Bank, when I know my daughters will not have to serve in an army, and fight endless wars. Is it a fantasy? Perhaps, but what good is life if we can’t look forward to something?

Thanks again for your words.

July 7th, 2008, 6:27 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Haven’t we already learned the lessons of history? We cannot and must not interfere in other nation’s internal struggles. If the Syrians need a civil war to have democracy, they’ll do it, but not with our support. I don’t see how Israel is siding with anyone, Assad, or Al Sharaa, or Mouallem, by signing a peace treaty with Syria, and handing back the Golan. The agreement is not going to say “And Assad will do a, b, and c, in return for Olmert doing d, e, and f.” It’ll say “Syria and Israel will do…” If Syria can make peace with an Israel that has many racist Israelis treating their Arab citizens as second-class, or even a fifth-column, I think Israel can make peace with a Syria that hasn’t yet fought its own civil war. We can’t wait for them to become our dream-come-true. Of course I wish the entire ME was full of democracies. But thank god Begin didn’t require this of Egypt, Rabin didn’t require this of Jordan, and Netanyahu, Barak, Sharon, and Olmert didn’t require this of Syria. There’s a reason why they didn’t, and it’s called being pragmatic.

I don’t think you’re being pragmatic. I think you’re being stubborn and unrealistic. But again, don’t listen to me (or “my BS”), listen to everyone around here. After all, why are you here, if not to listen to others? Who has supported you, besides Bashman. And if no one supports you, and you see you’re not convincing anyone, why are you still here? I’m asking a serious question by the way.

July 7th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Two Jews that were having a commercial dispute came to the Rabbi for arbitration. The first told his story, and the Rabbi said: You are right. The second told a completely different story and the Rabbi said to him: You are also right.

The Rabbi’s wife who was in the room, got up and barked at the Rabbi: They both told completely different stories, how could they both be right?

The Rabbi thought a little and said to his wife: You know what, you are right also.

Shai, this is the kind of dialog you are advocating. That is why the left has lost most of its credibility in Israel. It leads nowhere and in my view is very condenscending to the Arab side.

July 7th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

You are right.

July 7th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Don’t you see that by giving legitimacy to Asad you are taking part in an “internal struggle”? You are strengthening Asad at the expense of the Syrian opposition. Being “pragmatic” in this case is just like being a hypocrite.

Israel’s ties with apartheid South Africa were “pragmatic”. Did that make having those ties right? Would you advocate having those ties in the name of “pragmatism”? Just because Asad calls himself a Syrian that does not mean that in Syria the Alawites which are 15% of the population rule over the others. It is not a race issue, but a sect/tribal issue. I do not see much difference with South Africa.

July 7th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

For anyone passing thru Lebanon this summer, here are a few of the artists entertaining at the various summer festivals:

Byblos

July 8 (8:30) – Patti Smith

Beittedine

July 15 (8:00) – Branford Marsalis Jazz Quartet

July 19 (8:00) – Gilberto Gil & his Banda Larga

July 27 (8:00) – Mika

August 1 (8:30) – Kazem As-Saher

August 9(8:30) – Magida El Roumi

Baalbek

August 23 – Abdel Rahman El-Bacha

July 7th, 2008, 6:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Where are Nasrallah and the Rockettes performing? In the Galil?

July 7th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

So why aren’t our friends on SC telling me “Shai, you’re being condescending towards Arabs”? Are they hiding their true feelings, because of politeness? I doubt that. You’ve seen how painfully blunt commentators here can be. I have yet to hear such a remark from anyone, other than you.

I’ll bring you back to a few months ago, when I suggested that I, the “liberal leftist” (your label, not mine), may well vote Netanyahu in the next election. Why? Because I’ve suddenly fallen in love with his anti-Syrian rhetoric? No, because indeed in Israel the political reality is often opposite of what it seems. The so-called Liberal-Left, that advocates painful concessions and peace with our neighbors 24/7/365, is exactly the one least likely to deliver it. And the Conservative-Right, that speaks vehemently against dealing with our enemies 24/7/365, is exactly the one most likely to make peace! That’s the absurd, yet our reality.

So when Netanyahu goes on and on about not giving back the Golan, I’m merely reminded of his pre-election rhetoric on his “first round”, followed by his personal messages to Hafez Assad after becoming PM, stating exactly the opposite, and quite in detail. If Hafez had accepted the border 400 meters from the Kineret, you and I would have already been to Damascus 4-5 times in the past 10 years. But he didn’t. This time, too, Netanyahu will be vehemently against the new Syria of the Axis-of-Evil, and after winning the elections, he’ll take his time “studying things”, will wait long enough for the public to forget his campaign slogans, and then he’ll send his best people to speak with Syria. And, with a bit of luck, he won’t miss this opportunity, and will be the one to sign the agreement with Assad-the-son. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But Netanyahu has already proven he can do exactly that – a 180 – and there’s no reason to think he can’t tomorrow as well. That’s the absurd, but I’m not into games of justice, or principles. I’m going to gamble on the best horse that can win my race. If I feel it’s Netanyahu, I’ll vote for him. If I feel it’s Barak, Dichter, or Livni (no way), I’ll vote for them.

July 7th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

You are right.

July 7th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I just got it…. Nasrallah and the “Rockettes”, ha ha. That’s a good one.

🙂

Alex, don’t count that one to AIG’s 4/day quota. It was a … positive contribution.

July 7th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

offended said:

QN, you got me excited there for a while, then I remembered that the one I like is Patti Austin not Patti Smith.

AIG, as long as the murderous Israeli Air Force keeps a distance from the gigs they’re gonna be fine.

July 7th, 2008, 7:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
You are right also.

July 7th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

Shai said:

QN, at least put an emoticon on it… 🙂

July 7th, 2008, 7:11 pm

 

Naji said:

Patti Smith… I can’t believe it… that’s amazing…! The Summer festivals in Lebanon was what kept around here all that long…, but then they became so tainted…:( But Pattie Smith… Gilberto Gil, (and Branford Marsalis, even if a little too sugary and mainstream)… I just might stay…! I mean Pattie Smith, for god’s sake, …what the hell is she doing around this cynical here…?! Supporting HA…?! in Byblos…?! Why not, I suppose…!!? But then, she is geeting older… just like the rest of us…!

July 7th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

ugarit said:

Dear All:

So what is democracy? How do we encourage Syria to move towards that system? I don’t have the answers. Would like to hear yours.

July 7th, 2008, 7:27 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai

Sorry… I know, I was living dangerously there for a moment.

😉

While we’re kidding around, here’s a good one I just heard:

A woman living in Soviet Moscow goes to buy a Lada one day.

The dealer says to her, “So you wanna buy a Lada. Let me see what I can do for you.”

He pulls out a big dusty register and flips through it. “You’ll need to wait two years. That’s the soonest I can get one.”

The woman sighs, pulls out her datebook and says, “Ok. When should I come back?”

The dealer says, “Come back in two years, on March 15.”

The woman flips through her agenda and finds the date. “On March 15… in the morning or the afternoon?”

The dealer says, “What’s the difference?! It’s two years from now!”

The woman replies, “The plumber is coming on that day.”

July 7th, 2008, 7:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Naji,

Madonna is supposed to be coming to Israel… Wanna trade tickets? 🙂

July 7th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

Shai said:

QN, good one!

July 7th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji,

That’s a partial list… there are several more performances; see the list

July 7th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji,

That’s a partial list… there are several more performances; see the list here.

July 7th, 2008, 7:36 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar,
The issue is not whether you agree or not with much of what AIG says. I know you do on many issues. But why is it that you say what you need to say in maybe five comments a day tops, and AIG feels the need to dominate every conversation with long comments all day long. It is ridiculous.
My complaint is about his process more than his content. And the one relentless and annoying content about democracy is not one that you mention hardly ever. Why? Because IT IS SO OBVIOUS.

It is preferable to make peace with a democracy.

who doesn’t agree with this??? Almost everybody here on SC can agree with this. There is no democracy haters here, nor anybody who wouldn’t think it positive change to have Syria or other middle eastern countries become democratic. But soooooo what.
We move forward despite what circumstances are not the most preferable. And we do not use lack of democracy as an excuse for doing nothing or not having diplomatic efforts rather than war.

I think that you are far more flexible in your mind than AIG, and I would second everything that Shai said at the start of his comment at 6:27 regarding the difference between you and AIG. I do not think that you are out to bait anyone or antagonize or to lead an argument down a dead path. I cannot say the same for him.

as for Oslo, I agree with most of what you said. But Israel holds blame too. Israel made no commitments whatsoever regarding its expansion of settlements into the territories. And Clinton and company holds blame for allowing these agreements to stand as they were without dealing with all the most contentious final status conflict points. Arafat yes, of course, he was a divided person, a person attempting on one hand to be the man who went to Washington and made peace, when he remained a guerilla fighter (you know i don’t like the term terrorist) who could not transform himself into a man of peace. He probably could not conceive of what he would be in a state of peace, nor how to lead his people such that they could have given up their demand to return to land in Israel. He was not capable of taking the real and most difficult steps necessary to end conflict. And neither could Israel.

anyway, thanks for the invitation. I may take you up on it.

July 7th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

But Israel holds blame too.

Zenobia,

Of course. But I reserve the largest portion of the blame on the extremists (who until today, have yet to recognize or even lay out a plan to recognize Israel) and their silent supporters. These people still believe they can eliminate Israel, and they’re working pretty damn hard to make that a reality. Israel is not trying to eliminate Syria, Iran or any other country, including the nacent state of Palestine.

Just FYI, my experience is, that outside of these blogs and editorials most people on each side of the conflict tend to agree much more. Either face-to-face or off-line.

And I believe that when contacts like this can be made, it does more to brings peace than anything we write here.

July 8th, 2008, 12:47 am

 

ghat Albird said:

Pragmatism israeli style according to Yaqen News Agency.

Fifty-five Israeli companies said to be operating in Iraq under assumed names.
Yaqen News Agency

July 5, 2008

In a dispatch posted at 6:55pm Baghdad time Saturday afternoon, the Yaqen News Agency reported that 55 “Israeli” companies were now working in Iraq under assumed names.

Yaqen reported that the Israeli firms operate in a variety of fields, including infrastructure and marketing. Israel’s Mossad have established the Kurdish Lending Bank with its headquarters in as-Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

The report indicated that the Kurdish Lending Bank had a secret mission of purchasing vast tracts of agricultural land, oil fields, and residential areas in the vicinity of the cities of al-Mawsil and Kirkuk, both oil-rich cities in northern Iraq. The massive land purchases facilitate the effort by the US-backed Kurdish separatist Peshmergah militia to expel Arab and Turkoman residents of northern Iraq so that the oil-rich area can be annexed to the Kurdish separatist state under US and Israeli hegemony.

It is estimated that Israel exports more than $300 million in goods to Iraq annually. In addition Israeli companies obtain contracts for construction projects in Iraq, through USAID, the American agency that oversees the allocation of building contracts in Iraq.

The report indicated that one of the chief beneficiaries of the Israeli presence in Iraq has been former “Israeli” Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak who also formerly served as “Israeli” Minister of Communications.

By giving legitimacy to the present Iraqi government israel can be considered to be a participant in the internal aaffairs of Iraq. The epitome standard for incorporating hupocasy with pragmatism.

July 8th, 2008, 12:51 am

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar,

Of course. But I reserve the largest portion of the blame on the extremists (who until today, have yet to recognize or even lay out a plan to recognize Israel) and their silent supporters. These people still believe they can eliminate Israel, and they’re working pretty damn hard to make that a reality. Israel is not trying to eliminate Syria, Iran or any other country, including the nacent state of Palestine.

ok. i understand why you do. And I agree that the dramatic calls for right of return or destruction of Israel are leading the people down a blind or deadend alley. what I don’t understand about that, is that the ‘extreme’ is by definition the outliers, and should be the marginalized or minority – and as such, the majority of Palestinians in theory would know (no matter what their allegiances pull them to say out of their mouths) that they will not get their dream. Changing consciousness (ie changing the dream or the desire) will take a few decades more, no matter what). But pragmatic acceptance doesn’t seem that impossible even in the near future. Even the leaders in Hamas know that there rhetoric cannot match reality. I really think that. They would have to be really stupid to not know otherwise, or not see the writing on the wall. And they are not all stupid. So, I have to conclude that like many arab leaders in the past, they cannot seem to break out of their symbolic rhetoric (pride? fending off humiliation? i don’t know), and yet in their heart they know that Israel is not going anywhere.
I feel they are always acting as bargainers in the market place. They are bargaining with Israel and if it takes all day (or all century in this case) they stick with it because that is what you are supposed to do culturally speaking . They are not supposed to show their hand or give in.
I feel that Israeli leaders do that same thing. Everything is leverage and deterrence.
Just as the Palestinians never have prepared their people for a painful compromise, so the Israelis have not done so.
I see what you are saying, but those settlements … let me say that again… those SETTLEMENTS… are the kiss of death for any so called peace process. How can you say what you did that Israel does not want to kill the nacent Palestinian state. The settlements are the direct sign of callous dismissing of the need for contiguous land for a state.
This is my main complaint with the aftermath with Oslo till now, and I think it continues to be huge symbol of Israel not being serious about making a viable state possible.

you said:
Just FYI, my experience is, that outside of these blogs and editorials most people on each side of the conflict tend to agree much more. Either face-to-face or off-line.

And I believe that when contacts like this can be made, it does more to brings peace than anything we write here.

I could not agree more. I am glad you said this because I think this thought all the time myself and find it frustratingly to be true. I mean it is disappointing because this is the easiest way for people to have contact and have discussion, but it is sorely inadequate because it remains a poor form of communication when discussing complex and loaded topics.

I hope that in the future I find a way more and more to bring such dialogue into my live experiences. At least that is my goal.

July 8th, 2008, 2:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

…they stick with it because that is what you are supposed to do culturally speaking.

Zenobia,

I think culture does have a lot to do with this conflict. I agree.

Just as the Palestinians never have prepared their people for a painful compromise, so the Israelis have not done so.

Here, I have to disagree with you. Israelis are faced every day with a government stating very publically that “hard choices” will have to be made. Israelis are no strangers to tearing down settlements. Settlements in the Sinai, Gaza and on the West Bank have already been dismantled and evacuated. There is a large “peace camp” in Israel that have/are promoted/ing the evacuation of settlements throughout Israeli society (right Shai?).

OTOH, I am not aware of any Palestinian government organization that is promoting full peace and full recognition of Israel and asking the Palestinians to make “hard choices”. As you know, I find the MEMRI website a good indicator of how governments are reacting to the realities in the ME, and I find the PA-controlled media to still be very violent as they CONTINUE to promote “resistance”. The PA may have “calmed down” a bit (this is subjective), but certainly not Hamas.

those SETTLEMENTS… are the kiss of death for any so called peace process.

Zenobia,

Understood. I really can’t understand why these issues fester so long. It’s all about “land for peace”, seems pretty simple doesn’t it?

How can you say what you did that Israel does not want to kill the nacent Palestinian state.

The Israeli government and the Israeli people recognize that they cannot control the lives of the Palestinians, nor do they believe they can throw them out. Thus, they DO recognize that a Palestinian state is here to stay along side the State of Israel. Gaza is Palestine. The West Bank is Palestine. Jerusalem is to be negotiated as well as the details that characterize the relationship between the two states, but Palestine is not going anywhere, and the GOI has NO desire to incorporate these lands into Israel. Granted, the final borders have yet to be signed on, but if Oslo was any indication, 95% of the WB isn’t too bad.

I am glad you said this because I think this thought all the time myself and find it frustratingly to be true.

Yes, I find these dialogues to be frustrating at times as well. Especially with Shai! His liberal religion has clouded his thinking! BTW – don’t fret about AIG; he isn’t that bad. I am sure he supports a Palestinian state as well (right AIG?).

July 8th, 2008, 11:17 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Iran threatens Tel Aviv:

“The Zionist regime is pressuring White House officials to attack Iran. If they commit such a stupidity, Tel Aviv and U.S. shipping in the Persian Gulf will be Iran’s first targets and they will be burned,” Shirazi was quoted as saying.

Israeli police arrest settlers:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7494115.stm

July 8th, 2008, 12:21 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar, thanks for your helpful reply.

you said:

Israelis are no strangers to tearing down settlements. Settlements in the Sinai, Gaza and on the West Bank have already been dismantled and evacuated.

Agreed. But I am genuinely confused then (without taking a paranoid attitude that the Israelis are being two faced or duplicitous on purpose) WHY are they also expanding settlements in East Jerusalem and in the Jerusalem environs? Many people feel that Gaza was a bone thrown just to divert attention from expansion plans in the West Bank.
Shai, also said that all the west bank settlements could/ will be dismantled to establish a Palestinians state, but it would seem sort of obvious that the more settlements there are and the bigger they get- the more the Israeli negotiators will insist on keeping and the more persuasive they will be in a negotiation due to the fact that it will be much harder to require Israel to hand over land that people are living on. This has been the philosophy of settlement from the beginning. So, it is very difficult for any outsider, and certainly Palestinians, not to see any current expansion around or in Jerusalem as a deliberate move to hold on to it – even at the time of negotiation. Why would Israel allow or promote settlement that they thought they would then have to traumatically dismantle later?

OTOH, I am not aware of any Palestinian government organization that is promoting full peace and full recognition of Israel and asking the Palestinians to make “hard choices”.

I don’t know for sure. But yes, it is a big problem. I think there are many individuals and even many who would never publicly say so, who see the necessity of a full recognition of Israel in order to achieve peace and the need to accept a non-material right of return (that is there could still be a ‘right’ but this is not likely to be manifest and other compensation must be accepted to answer this right).
I agree that Israel has many more people and a whole political spectrum in which there is open talk and pressing for compromise and sacrifice.
I think the Palestinians have a hard time because historically they feel that there original loss was their sacrifice and they should not have to submit to more.
The reality of course is that – the main sacrifice must be a letting go of their expectation of return. This is the crux of the problem to my mind, and yet the leadership and any governments (if we can call them that) are not taking a stand to prepare for such an eventuality. It is a terribly irresponsible vacuum being left to not address this eventuality and it is perpetuating the condition of no compromise and preventing resolution.

I hold Israel responsible precisely because it is stronger and more organized and there are more established organizations and bodies who can be clear about the agreed sacrifices. Any ambiguity on Israel’s part, such as the settlement quandary leads to massive distrust and excuses on the Palestinian side. It actually give Hamas power when Israelis are not absolutely clear about their commitments. It is also self-destructive for Israel because as expansion continues in an around Jerusalem or any other west bank area- more people are starting to abandon the hope for a Palestinian state and revert to thinking there can only be a one state solution or continued occupation and international condemnation.

It’s all about “land for peace”, seems pretty simple doesn’t it?
It certainly should be simple. But the devil is in the detail as usual. I think the question remains, how much land? and how much peace?

Palestine is not going anywhere, and the GOI has NO desire to incorporate these lands into Israel. Granted, the final borders have yet to be signed on, but if Oslo was any indication, 95% of the WB isn’t too bad.

what’s a GOI? (i should probably know that) I think the Clinton parameters in early 2000 were even at 99% of the WB. But I never have got a straight answers (only conflicting accounts) if the Palestinian territory was swiss cheesed or not…
Assuming it wasn’t , of course this was a good deal. Arafat was incapable of making the final step. He had the power, but he couldn’t face his people and say, yes, I signed away your right of return.
But how are we going to get back there after all the damage (whether by suiciders, settlements, Gaza rockets and Gaza incursions) that has been done since then????

not Hamas

yes, it is a problem. but Israel has to accept Hamas, just as the Palestinians has to swallow Sharon (a most hated person) running your country.
As I said before, even members of Hamas are not fools, and they know what they are up against. And even they can be negotiated with if the terms are knowns and the end result is clear before any recognition or documents are signed and finalized. They have already implicitly recognized Israel a number of times, but this is often ignored as insignificant or insufficient. It is actually quite significant. And it could lead to something sufficient in the end.
but,
The incremental plans have clearly failed time and again. The half agreements or leaving the most difficult issues to the last does not work.
Leaving Gaza to rule itself when there is no state and no free West Bank and no- guarantees of anything nor any true freedom or prosperity possible… was of course going to be a failure. It is a failure because its not a viable condition for success.
It is like setting a plant in a dark room with no food, no water, no light, no caretaker, and complaining that it doesn’t and is incapable of growing.

This failure and continued violence in Gaza cannot be used as an example of how Palestinians are not capable of self governing and growth. Nor is it proof that Hamas will not ever accept peace offered to them if it is in the framework of an entire end to conflict in the totality of future Palestine. They are demanding a referendum by the people for any agreements precisely because they do not want to be in the position that Arafat was in where they have to be accountable for the final sacrifices or compromises.

So, after making recipes for failure, how does one get back to what could have been a point of success? It is, in fact, a psychological problem, cultural and almost intractable, requiring superior leadership and even force imposed from the outside.

July 8th, 2008, 9:33 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

WHY are they also expanding settlements in East Jerusalem and in the Jerusalem environs?

Zenobia,

The way the game is played is quite simple:

Until a permanent solution is obtained, the Arabs will continue with “resistance” and Israel will continue occupation. Afterall, if the Arabs/Palestinians stop resistance then there’s “peace”, and if Israel doesn’t use the land she claims, than it could be regarded as NOT being claimed by the government. These two actions are intended to pressure the other side into making concessions.

Isn’t this fun?

Many people feel that Gaza was a bone thrown just to divert attention from expansion plans in the West Bank.

I understand why you would feel that way. Israelis viewed it as an “experiment”. Give something substantial to the Palestinians as, say, a “goodwill gesture” and see how the Palestinians will react.

Need I say more?

The West Bank is different. True, since ’67 (40 years) facts have been made on the ground and Jews have moved into many parts of Jerusalem including Eat Jerusalem. Also, some towns have been established like Ma’aleh adumim and Ariel. The long and short of it is that 95% of the WB has already been proposed as Palestinian land including some parts outside the ’67 border/green line.

Why would Israel allow or promote settlement that they thought they would then have to traumatically dismantle later?

The government stance (overwhelmingly supported by the Israeli people), is that until a negotiated settlement is agreed to, Israel is going to go forward protecting herself (aka walls) and settlement activity. Otherwise, the Palestinians will have no incentive to negotiate.

I think the Palestinians have a hard time because historically they feel that there original loss was their sacrifice and they should not have to submit to more.

The plight of the American Indian is not very different. It is unfortunate, but if we look at it objectively, it doesn’t have to be a sad situation. American Indians can live here in the US, hold onto their customs if they desire, and participate in American society however they see fit. Palestinian can continue to do the same either as Palestinians or as Israelis.

The reality of course is that – the main sacrifice must be a letting go of their expectation of return.

They can return to Palestine whenever they want. And you know what, if and when the population of Israel becomes a majority Arab/Muslim, they could change that law. What’s the hurry? It’s not that bad.

I hold Israel responsible precisely because it is stronger and more organized and there are more established organizations and bodies who can be clear about the agreed sacrifices.

OK. Certainly Israel has made mistakes. But as far as this conflict is concerned, I feel the GOI (Government of Israel) has done a pretty good job of fighting enemies on several front, AND, at the same time, provide as much freedom for all her citizens as she possibly could, as difficult as that is.

Put it this way, Israel has been bombed on almost a daily basis, YET, she has substantially much more freedom (even for Arab-Israelis) than, say, Syria. I consider that almost a miracle. What bombs have been going off in Syria over the past 10 years?

It actually give Hamas power when Israelis are not absolutely clear about their commitments.

As “powerful” as you think Israel is, believe me, Israel didn’t give Hamas power. Though years ago Israel did try to foster a dialogue with Hamas, as you could guess, it didn’t get very far. Hamas’ power came from the ballot box and their military goons throwing out and killing their Fatah rivals. C’est tout!

Well I didn’t finish, I’ll try to end my dissertation tomorrow…Tisbah al-kher (according to my Arabic handbook).

July 9th, 2008, 3:19 am

 

Shai said:

AP,

Your detailed response/comments are far better than those of AIG, because they do seem to address the issues, and not to promote “democracy in the Middle East”. At least it is easier to read and communicate with you. However, you unfortunately have bought into this AIG-like rationale concerning our conflict with the Palestinians. This “fact is”-style thinking, which attempts to attribute reason-consequence explanations to what has been happening these past 60 years. The relative “calm” in your words is worrying, because it shows you are neither overly concerned at the present fate of Israelis and, especially, the Palestinians, nor at the future should it not play out according to your hopes.

You said: “American Indians can live here in the US, hold onto their customs if they desire, and participate in American society however they see fit. Palestinian can continue to do the same either as Palestinians or as Israelis.”

Really? Palestinians can barely move freely from one village to the next, in their own territory, so what “participation in (Palestinian) society” are you referring to? Intra-village one? Do you know what the reality on the ground is? Do you know what 500 roadblocks look and feel like? Can you imagine “participating in American society” in Brooklyn, with hundreds of roadblocks along the way? Can you eve imagine such a situation? And certainly the Palestinians CANNOT do so “as Israelis” (as you mentioned). No one is giving them that option, they cannot, even if they dream of it, come into Israel, and even within their territory, they cannot act as Israelis, because they’re not Israelis. They cannot even use certain “Israelis-only” roads! But that’s not racism, nah, that’s pragmatism (security). Right? Come on AP, at least let’s look at reality as it is, and not as we’d like it to be.

You said: “They can return to Palestine whenever they want. And you know what, if and when the population of Israel becomes a majority Arab/Muslim, they could change that law. What’s the hurry? It’s not that bad.”

This “what’s the hurry” attitude worries me a lot. How much longer do you think Israel can stand the near-daily Qassams over Sderot? How much longer do you think it’ll take before the Qassams double and triple their range, enabling them to reach Ashdod and Tel-Aviv? How much longer before some crazy fanatic in Islamic Jihad might try out a small biological agent on one of those Qassams (you know, the kind you get as a “gift” from your Iranian Revolutionary Guard cousin that came to visit for Ramadan)? But, forget the paranoia for a minute, what about the plain suffocation and suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza? Do you have ANY idea what 1.5 million Palestinians are living through right now as I “calmly” type these words on my fancy laptop? It would be great if they were in a prison, because there at least they’d get 3 meals a day, and a shower. They don’t even have THAT! They are being suffocated, and if up until yesterday they were amongst the poorest, filthiest, most densely populated territory in the world, can you imagine what they are now? And that’s Gaza. What about the refugees in Lebanon and Syria?

You said: “Put it this way, Israel has been bombed on almost a daily basis, YET, she has substantially much more freedom (even for Arab-Israelis) than, say, Syria. I consider that almost a miracle. What bombs have been going off in Syria over the past 10 years?”

I agree with you that maintaining freedom in a nation that is being bombed over the past 7 years is indeed a special case. Normally, martial law would be under effect, and the entire nation would be at war. But be careful in “buying into” this AIG-style argument, regarding the freedoms of Arab-Israelis. True, they do make more money than in Syria or Lebanon. True, they can voice their opinion openly on the street, and in Knesset through their freely-elected representatives. In that sense, they are much more “free”. But the overwhelming majority of Israelis look upon Arab-Israelis as “second class” citizens, and treat them as such. I have a friend from Taibeh, an Arab-Israeli town, who does building renovation work in Israel. He tells me endless stories (normally with tears in his eyes) about Israeli wives who scream at their husbands when they even consider leaving them alone at home with Mahmoud for a minute. He’s had to endure hearing what Israelis think of him, behind his back, and straight to his face. He is no terrorist. He is an Arab-Israeli. He tells me that he can no longer go “into town” in any of Israel’s largest cities (not even Netanya), because he gets verbally abused at best, or physically, at worst. Most Israelis, as much as I hate it, act in a racist way towards Arabs, Israeli or not. So to say that Arab-Israelis enjoy far greater freedoms in Israel than in Syria or Lebanon or Kuwait, is like saying that Blacks in America of the 1950’s are far richer and more free than those in Ghana or Chad.

There are other problems in how the “game” is being played when it comes to Israelis. First, most Israelis do not come into regular contact with West Bank settlers, as they do not enter the territories. So most of us are not even aware of new settlements being built (most illegally), except for the newspapers. Even then, these are “distant” things that we neither see nor feel. So most Israelis don’t even understand the consequences of this blind-eye turning by our various governments. It’s not like poor energy policy by government, or increased federal tax.

Second, we Israelis are often confused when there’s something called “peace process” or “peace talks” going on. We suddenly feel no-urgency, as if the status-quo is just fine and dandy. Well, to remind many of us, the pressure to start withdrawing from the territories did not begin when the other side started being nice to us, but rather the opposite. We need to stop settlement-activity, begin dismantling settlements, and withdraw once and for all, not because we might have peace with the Palestinians, but because we shouldn’t be there period. We should not reside in someone else’s land, we should not occupy, subjugate, or control in any fashion another people against their will (or you know what – even WITH their will!) The Gaza strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, are unfortunately not Israeli territory. No one ever awarded these to us, no one ever recognized them as ours, and it is time WE recognized that. Having sophisticated Merkava tanks, APCs, and F-15i airplanes does not allow us the right to hold on to land that isn’t ours. And neither should our conscience, with Hamas in power, or without.

You and I know what the problem is – it’s the leadership in Israel (all of them, throughout the years), and the Israeli public that hasn’t demanded change. The first I am terribly disappointed in. All of them, from Left to Right, have done all the wrong things, have missed all the right opportunities, and are continuing to act as if time is on our side. The latter, I am less disappointed with, because like in most countries, people tend to follow rather than lead, or think for themselves. As I’m saying this now about Israelis NOT making peace with Syria, you would have said a decade and a half ago about Israelis making peace with Arafat, namely, that most do not think, but rather follow. That seems to be true universally (generally speaking) about issues that citizens seem to feel are too complex to figure out on their own. Security, legal issues, human rights, occupation, etc., are all things most of us feel are better left for the “experts” to figure out.

In the end, it is those very few leaders, that come once in a lifetime almost, who find the courage and ability to look much farther down the line, who finally deliver peace and security. Few if any were able to do that in recent years.

July 9th, 2008, 4:57 am

 

Shai said:

AP,

To make sure you don’t respond to my above comments by suggesting (correctly) that I am not being balanced towards to “other side”, and am completely choosing to omit any criticism thereof, I’ll respond in advance that my comments should be true whether the other side is full of peace-loving angels, or war-loving devils. In both cases, I believe my comments are true.

But yes, there is plenty the “other side” needs to do before we can have true peace. The two Arab League summits in Beirut and Riyadh, which were unanimously approved by every member nation, are to me an historic indication that they too understand this point, and are more than ready to change.

July 9th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

I intended to finish my dissertation from yesterday, now I have to deal with yours. If only I got paid for this…

Do you know what 500 roadblocks look and feel like? Can you imagine “participating in American society” in Brooklyn, with hundreds of roadblocks along the way?

I was referring to Arab-Israelis. Arab-Israelis are have freedom of movement inside Israel – just like you do. Palestinians living under occupation, unfortuantely are living very difficult lives until such time that a comprehensive agreement is signed by the PA and the GOI.

I am sorry to hear about the story of your friend from Taibeh. BTW – How do you think Arabs would treat Jews if they even dared to live in the West Bank or Gaza? Right, they’d be dead, and literally strung up on a telephone pole. As I said before, the Arab-Israeli conflict is a dangerous poison, yet, we still have voices like yours throughout Israel who can still manage to keep your sense of humanity “above water”. Israeli Arabs may be looked upon suspiciously, but they aren’t being murdered. One day soon, I am hoping that this poisonous atmosphere will come to an end. How this is accomplished remains to be seen. I believe the instigators from Iran have to be defeated before much progress can be made. That along with some progress from the Hamas/Fatah/PA government.

You and I know what the problem is – it’s the leadership in Israel (all of them, throughout the years), and the Israeli public that hasn’t demanded change.

I disagree. What “change” (oh no, not another Obama supporter!) were you looking for that the Israeli public has not yet met? Another Oslo facade? And what “change” are you requesting from the Arabs/Palestinians?

We need to stop settlement-activity, begin dismantling settlements, and withdraw once and for all, not because we might have peace with the Palestinians, but because we shouldn’t be there period.

Withdraw to where? What about the Old City? What about Ariel, etc? Since you aren’t requiring a signed agreement, what are the chances “resistance” will follow like it has in Gaza? I would say your idea is more dangerous than the “status-quo”.

No one ever awarded these to us, no one ever recognized them as ours, and it is time WE recognized that.

Would you feel better if “I” awarded them to you? It’s yours Habibi. BTW – who were you blaming for Israel’s dire security situation prior to 1967? Or was that before you were born;)?

July 9th, 2008, 11:17 am

 

Zenobia said:

Akbar,

I accepted some of what you replied, however, Shai is much more equipped to take you to task for some of the absurdities you mentioned.

1. the comparison of fine living of Arab Israeli citizen to american Indians was definitely a poor choice. In part this is because of the ever present racism Shai gave example too. But moreover, the american Indians are pretty much on the lowest pole (no joke intended) in american society. The comparison falls because becoming and ‘american’ or being an american is not the same as becoming a jewish israeli. Native americans who left the reservation has suffered great discrimination but at least they eventually melt into the rest. However those areas where they have remained in their group have had most of their native culture decimated and the ‘reservations’ are incredibly impoverished or only now- are funded by running casinos. And their populations are famous for record levels of alcoholism.
Ok, so so much for a positive outlook on that.

but more importantly.
you said that this struggle between Pals and Israelis in regards to violence and settlements is “just a game”.
Well, if that is even true, NO, I don’t think the game is “fun”. I think it sucks and is incredibly destructive on both sides.

but I just am not convinced by your claim that continued expansion of settlements is a tool for building leverage for negotiation. This is nuts as a strategy. It would be nuts if it were true. It doesn’t bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table at all; far from it; it enrages then, breeds mistrust, and have driven the public sentiment farther towards “resistance” and hamas methods rather than bringing calls to get to the negotiating table faster.

However, I just really doubt that this is the rationale. I think the rationale is that the more you can settle the more you can keep in final negotiation. there is a very long history of this strategy and why should it be different now when it comes to Israelis building living spaces and dismantling Palestinian living spaces. It is destroying Palestinian society every time it happens. The wall has ruined many peoples homes and existences.
I just don’t see how you can deny this even if you find justification for it.
IT is not creating leverage for negotiation for the reason I gave above, but furthermore there is a point where if the areas around Jerusalem and in East jerusalem continue to grow or the settlement pouring into the territories also expand, then if negotiations happen- it will be extremely hard to do a simple land swap of a few percentage areas of land. It will destroy the possible success of negotiation instead when Israel says… oh we cannot and will not dismantle these expanded areas, and we have nothing more to trade. As well, there is nothing equivalent to trade for taking East Jerusalem. that one is obvious.

you say:

Withdraw to where? What about the Old City? What about Ariel, etc? Since you aren’t requiring a signed agreement, what are the chances “resistance” will follow like it has in Gaza? I would say your idea is more dangerous than the “status-quo”.

Come onnnn , Akbar, this is absurd. I gave an argument already in my earlier post about why it is really unfair to use what happened in Gaza as proof of anything about what can or can’t be done in the future, except to show that half measures don’t really work.
In addition, you can hardly argue that expansion into East Jerusalem or Ariel was because these were rocket launching points terrorist strongholds so now they have to hold onto them. Who are you kidding here. That’s essentially what you are equating.

But most of all, you are totally contradicting yourself with this statement. To me- you say that expansion in these areas it just a bargaining chip and a tool to induce negotiation. But then you say- here- that basically there is nowhere to withdraw to, no expectation to withdraw. And if that is your idea of a negotiating tool, then your logic is very very skewed. There will be no such negotiation beyond a certain point. This kind of settlement will preclude not induce negotiation and compromise. They have to be dismantled. I thought at first that you were implying that they will be built but dismantled later which seemed to me bizarre considering it is a huge waste and disrupts lives and traumatizes people (Israelis here). but if you are not saying they will be dismantled than such policies are just ruses, and your explanation of them doesn’t hold water, just falls as subterfuge and lies to hide greed and entitlement.

finally you say to Shai regarding what has been recognized by the international community as belonging to Israel:

Would you feel better if “I” awarded them to you? It’s yours Habibi. BTW – who were you blaming for Israel’s dire security situation prior to 1967? Or was that before you were born;)?

this was also before I was born, but whats your point? Everybody knows the Arabs states before 67 fucked up in thinking that they should fight for the destruction of Israel when what they should have fought for was the rights of Palestinians to stay in their homes and then after the 48 war, at least for the creation of a Palestinian State. They did not read the living history well, nor understand what was happening realistically. They were wrong to try to turn the clock back, and not to take what was within reach.

but subsequent to 1967 war, Israel has gone on to the international shit list. Why? Because she has stepped beyond what was deemed acceptable. In case you or anyone else didn’t notice, since WWII, the world has moved to an era where civilized nations have agreed not to allow the acquisition of land by force and war. You may not take other nations territory this way. Hitler was the last to exemplify such entitlement with pride (in addition to his other famous activities), and this plus world war has brought us to different standards of what is acceptable.

A large part of the world recognized Israel in 1947, and even her expansion before after the war of 1948. But that was the end of her legitimate and recognized entitlement. From this point on- everything else has been deemed occupation.

yes the arab states wanted to take her out prior to 67, but morality was on Israel’s side then. Post 1967- she is seen as the aggressor in terms of war and land. She is now occupying land that is not hers to keep. And so, the arabs have a very legitimate complaint and reason for hating her.
Take away this legitimate reason, clear the field, and then we can see where the chips fall. There is no other way. If hate continues then it can be addressed for what it is. But before that, Israel has no legitimate cry that she is being unfairly treated or despised.

July 9th, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

You said: “How do you think Arabs would treat Jews if they even dared to live in the West Bank or Gaza? Right, they’d be dead, and literally strung up on a telephone pole.”

This is a poor argument to attempt to explain why Israelis treating Arab-Israelis as second-class citizens is really nowhere near as bad had it been the other way around. I’m sure if we were living under the Mongolians, we’d be treated even worse… But we’re not, and we’re not living as Jewish-Palestinian citizens. The reality involves us treating them as I described, not them treating us as such. In many cases it is simply racism, and there is no justification for that whatsoever.

You said: “What “change”… were you looking for that the Israeli public has not yet met? Another Oslo facade? And what “change” are you requesting from the Arabs/Palestinians?”

Our leaders have failed throughout our 60 year history to accept the crimes we have committed against the Palestinians. Because of that, they enabled the Occupation to continue for over 40 years now. Regardless of whether Hamas is in power, or Arafat, or Marwan Bargouti, Israel had and has no right occupying Gaza and the West Bank, period. We should have left decades ago. But we’ve used (and still using) every excuse in the book. And we’ve taught our public that these excuses are valid. You yourself are saying “Withdraw to where?” Well, that’s simple. Out of the territories. In endless talks (thousands of meetings, literally), it has already been established that not all the major towns in the W. Bank will be vacated, such as Ariel. But we can certainly begin to dismantle the tens and hundreds of small and medium-sized settlements (many of which were built illegally), before any peace agreement is reached. We need to begin to move out of the Palestinian territories. It would be best, if this was done under agreement with the PA, which means with Fatah AND Hamas. It is of course silly to say that Israel is not communicating with Hamas. Of course we ARE. How else are we discussing prisoner exchanges for Gilad Shalit? We don’t need to talk directly. Indirectly is also good.

You said: “I would say your idea is more dangerous than the ‘status-quo’.”

That’s precisely what I’m afraid of. That’s the kind of thinking that says time is on our side. I can’t for the life of me understand how you could really believe that. You’re choosing a particular element (resisting our settlements) within the interrelated labyrinth of issues, and you believe it can exist in an isolated, controlled fashion. Yet you complete ignore the effect that the continuation of Palestinian resistance to Israeli crimes of the Occupation is having on everything else (Syria, Iran, HA, even Al Qaida). It’s as if you can just “freeze” the resistance in Gaza, or live-with another 7 years of Qassams, and all the rest will just be fine. Well…. it’s not. It is, in fact, getting worse. And more dangerous.

You said: “BTW – who were you blaming for Israel’s dire security situation prior to 1967? Or was that before you were born;)?”

I don’t know about “dire security situation” before 1967. I don’t know how old you were at that time, but I guess not in your 30’s or 40’s either. I was born in 1969, two years after 1967. But I have read a lot about the years before 1967, and I’ve studied that at the University, and I’ve talked to people who were in their 30’s and 40’s then. What do you expect me to say to you? That the Arabs were responsible for our “security situation”? Well, they WERE our enemy. So yes, our security depended on them a fair it. So? We fought bitter wars with the Arabs, and if you haven’t noticed, we are STILL fighting one another, though not always in wars, but still continuously. Listen to what McNamara calls the Cold War. He says “Cold War? Hell, it was a Hot War!” So your status-quo, which AIG refers to as “non-peace” is, in fact, war. We are fighting Hamas, Islamic Jihad, HA, and Iranian-supported terrorism in our region. But we’re not the only ones suffering. There are also others, suffering much much more than us, called the Palestinians. Do we not owe it also to them, to put a stop to their suffering?

July 9th, 2008, 7:02 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Our leaders have failed throughout our 60 year history to accept the crimes we have committed against the Palestinians.

Shai,

Which leaders? Yossi Sarid? Yael Dayan? Maybe Yossi Beilin? Or perhaps Shulamit Aloni? Or what about the other Meretz leaders? and what about the leaders of Ra’am-Ta’al, Hadash and the National Democratic Assembly?

How have these leaders failed “to accept the ‘crimes’ you committed against the Palestinians”.

Mamash failed!

http://www.meretzusa.org/

Now, give me your list of how the Palestinians leadership succeeded in “accepting the crimes they committed against Israel”.

As I said before, let’s be fair motek;)

July 10th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

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