Comments from Jihad Makdissi

Jihad Makdissi is the spokesman for Syria’s embassy in London. He appears quite frequently on Arab and European Satellite TV news shows such as the BBC and Aljazeerah.

Here is his latest appearance on BBC Radio today.

Being an avid reader of Syria Comment, Jihad wanted to comment on our last few discussion topics.

Here is an email he sent earlier this morning.

(camille Alexndre Otrakji)


Dear Camille,

I read attentively your article on the Arab Peace initiative and the possible flipping of peace tracks.

Also I was following the coverage of Syria Comment on the US Raid and Minister Moualem’s visit to London.

I just wanted to share with you (informally) my thoughts on these topics:

On the Arab Peace initiative:

All Israeli leaders negotiated with Syria starting with Shamir, until Olmert (whether directly or indirectly), None of them had a clear vision for peace with Syria or genuine conviction of peace per say, except maybe Rabin, to some extent of course, in light of his famous “deposit” to the Clinton Administration.

Until this moment, the Israelis have no political will to achieve peace with Syria, and Syria has no illusion about that but cannot afford as a country not to respond to any peace initiative.

The Israelis are very good in evading peace requirements whenever they feel that a settlement is eminent, and the most effective evasion would be through blaming their internal politics … early elections, difficulty of digesting several concessions at once … etc.

As for Peres and Barak’s recent statements on the Arab Peace imitative, it is another attempt to bluff and evade Peace. What the Israelis are doing now, unfortunately through the help of some Arab countries, is to produce a second initiative … they are still discussing whether it should be launched as a European initiative or as an Arab one. This new initiative is a replica of the Arab Peace Initiative … minus the right of return of Palestinians.

I refer you to a recent meeting in Oxford City between Israelis, British and other figures from a major Arab country … Immediately after this meeting Bill Rammel, the British Minister in charge of the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, flew to Jordan to promote what was discussed in Oxford.

Another meeting on a broader level will be held in NY for the same purpose. All said, that does not mean that Israel is now ready to accept the modified initiative after abolishing the Right of Return. It is only an effective way of playing on time and unfortunately, this time, with the complicity of certain Arab countries.

As for the notion of weakening Syria and its allies simply by reviving the Arab peace initiative, it is not consistent at all because any Pan Arab initiative will not enable any Arab country to negotiate on the Golan on behalf of Syria because comprehensiveness is the broader political umbrella for all tracks and not the substitution.

On Minister Moualem’s Visit to London:

The visit was very successful on both the bilateral level as well as the regional level. Minister Moualem is a man with a strategic vision and Miliband was very impressed and encouraged to engage and explore Moualem’s Approach. Please forgive me if I can’t go into details, but I can tell you before the end of the year there will be a new positive development, and also I can assure you that Syria’s regional role in the region is most appreciated and fully acknowledged.

This American Administration became an embarrassment for all its allies.

On the American Raid:

The Syrian Diplomacy is adopting a gradual response while waiting to get clarifications from the USA and from the Iraqi Government.

So far we have taken the following steps:

Diplomatically, we briefed the accredited ambassadors in Damascus about the details of the aggression. Also we approached the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Security Council and made it clear for them that this sheer violation in international law is a double crime because it was launched by a country which [is] supposed to be a permanent member of the Security Council in charge of maintaining Peace and stability in the world.

Administratively: Syria shut down the American cultural Center in Damascus.

On the popular level: the thousands of people who demonstrated in Damascus wanted to send a double message to the United States and also to others who didn’t condemn the Raid, that these kinds of aggressions will only enhance the national unity and the rallying around our president. More and more Syrians are not differentiating between the terrorist explosion of the 27th of September, and the American Raid against Syrian civilians.

Security wise: Syria made it clear that the security and stability of Syria has a top priority, and that our efforts in counter-terrorism are intended solely to maintain peace and security of Iraq and Iraqis, That is why we are supporting the political process in Iraq in order to help maintain the Arab identity Of Iraq.

Finally let me share with you excerpts of the US Department of Defense definition of hot pursuit as an example just to let people draw their own conclusions on the American schizophrenic behavior:

“Pursuit commenced within the territory, internal waters, the archipelagic waters, the territorial sea, or territorial airspace of the pursuing state and continued without interruption beyond the territory, territorial sea, or airspace. Hot pursuit also exists if pursuit commences within the contiguous or exclusive economic zones or on the continental shelf of the pursuing state, continues without interruption, and is undertaken based on a violation of the rights for the protection of which the zone was established. The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship or hostile force pursued enters the territory or territorial sea of its own state or of a third state.”

Thank you

Jihad Makdissi

Spokesman of the Syrian Embassy in London

Comments (151)

Innocent_Criminal said:

its seems that the syrian government agrees with my previous comment about the need for not withdrawing troops from the iraqi border 😛

October 31st, 2008, 10:47 pm


Alex said:


I think Jihad’s answer was clear … Syria will keep enough troops there to protect its own security and that or Iraq and the Iraqi people.

Which means … maybe the same numbers we now have, but minus the need to form them in a way that impresses the Americans and meets their demands.

October 31st, 2008, 10:51 pm


norman said:


Let me tell you something ,

I am so proud of the new breed of Syrians in the diplomatic core , They are smart educated and well versed in the western way of doing business and most of all they are patriatic Syrian Arabs .

That is so much different than the late seventies.

October 31st, 2008, 11:14 pm


AIG said:

Jihad is just another example of a mouth piece for a regime that rules Syria by fear and terror, funds and promotes terrorism in other countries BUT expects Syria to be treated like it is Belgium.

If it were not pathetic it would be quite funny. Jihad, first treat your own people better than you would treat cattle and then only start expecting people to take you seriously.

October 31st, 2008, 11:19 pm


why-discuss said:


Look who is talking about treating people like cattle!

November 1st, 2008, 12:56 am


Ford Prefect said:

What Jihad is saying makes sense and, ironically, it is the simple truth. I applaud the emergence of young and talented Syrian leadership as Norman indicated above; however, we Syrians must help this talented leadership in shedding some of our hardcore and pre-conceived perceptions of Israel.

Yes, scores of Israeli leaders have come and gone – none had a clear vision – let alone conviction – of what peace with Syria is going to be. Seems like all the Israeli leaders were interested in is the process of peace rather than peace itself. And let’s not forget that wars and crises are the friend of the state. This is how leaders cling to power.

Facts are that Israelis has been the victim and the perpetrator of some worst tragedies of the past 100 years. But let’s not forget that Israel today is made up of people and not just its leaders, and let us not forget that people do change and that people are continuously looking for a peaceful identity. Let us not forget that an overwhelming third (it was less than 5% just 10 years ago) of the Israeli public is genuinely interested in peace, regret past violence and tragedies, and ready to coexist with Arabs.

We need to take our case directly to the Israeli public. If Israel is showing war leadership, Syria can show peace leadership. Many Israelis are on the fence today: delusional about peace and pre-fed by the warmongers. Let’s us get them off that fence and aboard the peace wagon. We have 5,000 years worth of peaceful coexistence, and it shouldn’t be too hard to showcase it to the Israeli public. Peace is contagious. Peace happens.

November 1st, 2008, 1:26 am


offended said:

I will add my voice to Norman’s and FP’s and say that that it’s quite refreshing to see a new breed of Syrian diplomats. Keep it up Jihad!

November 1st, 2008, 1:46 am


offended said:

AIG, why is it disturbing to you that there’s a refined and enlightened Syrian diplomat? Would you rather deal with bandits? I believe that’s what you’re accustomed to, right?

November 1st, 2008, 1:48 am


AIG said:

Ford Perfect,
What do you mean “we have 5,000 years worth of peaceful coexistence”? Your history books are very different than the ones I read.

Currently, Lebanon is always a hair width away from civil war and the only reason there is no civil strife in Syria is because of the fear and terror instilled by Asad. And before Asad, did you ever bother to count the coups there? As for the palestinians, Hamas and Fatah are in a civil war. In Egypt, the copts are always in danger of being slaughtered. And let’s not even talk about Iraq.
First, the Arabs need to make peace WITHIN their societies. Then, maybe they will be able to make peace with Israel.

As for your statistics about Israel, I am not sure where you got those. The so called “peace camp” has only been getting weaker and the second intifada took away the little trust the Israelis had of the Arabs. And yes, we remember well that it was Asad who financed the suicide bombings by Hamas that killed 1000 Israelis in buses, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and discos.

But by all means, “showcase” your coexistence capabilities. How about doing that by throwing Hamas out of Damascus, because otherwise all you are “showcasing” is your support for terrorist and cold blooded murderers of the worst kind.

November 1st, 2008, 2:02 am


AIG said:

Jihad is nothing but a despotic thief. The Syrian regime is a kleptocracy. A small number of people have confiscated the wealth of Syria and are subjugating the rest by force and fear. Jihad is a member of this small group. A murderer and a thief with education is still a murderer and a thief. And just so that it is clear to you, by definition, whenever you are dealing with a Syrian who is part of the current regime, you are dealing with a bandit.

November 1st, 2008, 2:07 am


offended said:

Thanks for the clarification. Now it’s become clear that your stand against the man has nothing to do with whatever he said (clearly, you’ve failed to make one intelligent point about his comments). Your stereotyping of him as a murderer and thief (just because he’s a Syrian diplomat) is congruent with all the previous racist remarks you made about Syrians.

Keep it up!

November 1st, 2008, 2:16 am


AIG said:

You show very little understanding of what I am saying. Jihad IS a murderer and a thief because he IS a representative of the regime that rules Syria by fear and terror and has murdered thousands of people. This is not about stereotyping Syrians. Most Syrians are just normal people and not thiefs. It is just the people who choose to to be part of the regime, like Jihad, that are murderers and thiefs.

November 1st, 2008, 2:25 am


offended said:

You are a war criminal, a crook, and a walking sexual scandal. I am not sure if you work for the Israeli government, but going by your logic, you’d be all of these things if you are.

But let’s not masturbate our minds into that useless discussion, let’s do something productive: Jihad has mentioned something interesting about a meeting that was held in Oxford, which was later followed by a high profile visit of a British emissary to Jordan. I, myself, am quite excited about the prospect and the positive impact this may have on the peace process, how about you?

November 1st, 2008, 2:52 am


Jad said:

Don’t even bother writing back to this person he is so unworthy the energy of typing back, we usually communicate with people who understand not a blank uncivilized, uneducated and full of hate WALL….

November 1st, 2008, 3:00 am


offended said:

Dear Jad, I agree with you 100%. I am doing it merely for the benefit of third party readers. The veiled racism in this person’s comments shouldn’t go unnoticed 😉

November 1st, 2008, 3:21 am


jad said:

Dear Offended, I usually do the same and reply to his terrible, rude and amazingly disturbing comments, but I notice that he actually likes that…he/she is a mix of a weird and freakish person with a big mouth but no brain….. 😉
God have mercy on his/her soul……

November 1st, 2008, 3:30 am


offended said:

Just imagine the case at hand: an ex mercenary who walks with a limp (and probably suffers from PTSD or some anal disease), decides that he should take it out on the Syrians (After all we are the ones who support terrorism day and not and work diligently to destroy everything beautiful this ex-mercenary had grew up to love and cherish.) So he comes to Syria Comments and start spewing racism and demagoguery left and right. Lo and behold, we’ve got an AIG!

November 1st, 2008, 3:46 am


Phil Cattar said:

Syria can do better and their leaders know it.Leave Lebanon alone and tend to your own nitting.Give your citizens more,web etc.Quit using not having the Golan as an excuse not to advance in the world.Turn your swords into plowshares and get busy building your country up .Join the 21st century,grow up,and the Americans,Israelis and Europeans will welcome you with open arms.

November 1st, 2008, 3:48 am


Jad said:

Khod hal zboun altani akher alel…lol

November 1st, 2008, 4:08 am


jad said:

Good news for you Phill, (btw, are you Lebanese? your priority was leaving Lebanon alone before anything else) Our leaders just start doing exactly what you want, They started with leaving Lebanon alone, They give their citizen a little bit freedom, not much thought since they just put a dozen in jail because of Lebanon, they also start the process of having back the Jolan (I’m Syrian), and they are busy trying to build something in their country, finally they are getting along with the European, had an indirect negotiation rounds with the Israelis, the only missing part of your puzzle is The American piece that just explode badly last week and it was the American fault not the leaders…
As you can see my friend no much changes, as you would expect, so, we need to do more than your recipe to succeed and be welcomed by open arms to the civilized world you are writing about.

November 1st, 2008, 4:35 am


Ford Prefect said:

Offended and Jad, the best way to answer hate and biligerent racism is to enjoy counting to ten first, and then discuss real issues afterward with a human. Engaging with people with combined intellects equal to that of Bush’s is similar to having a conversation with a baboon.

November 1st, 2008, 5:23 am


AIG said:

Right Mr. Perfect,
You write a totally illusory post based on some mythical world you inhabit in which Arabs are the models of co-existence in the last 5,000 years and when I call you on it and present you with facts that show how wrong you are, all you can resort to is name calling. Wow, you are really trying very hard to prove yourself wrong. Remember the co-existence stuff you supposedly “showcase”? Why don’t you cut the BS and address the points I raised thus “showcasing” your affinity for co-existence?

Let me summarize my main points again for your convenience:
1) The Arab world is at war with itself and the only reason there is no “hot” civil war is because the dictators rule through oppression and fear. Exactly in the same way that Saddam’s murderous rule masked the huge animosity between communities in Iraq. In Syria for example, the regime is scared of the Muslim Brotherhood.
2) The best way for Syria to show that it indeed supports co-existence is to throw Hamas out of Damascus. Harboring a terrorist organization responsible for the death of 1000 Israeli civilians in restaurants, busses, discos etc. is not a way to display your willingness for co-existence.

November 1st, 2008, 5:45 am


jad said:

Dear Ford, or should I call you Mr. perfect!! 😉
just to be very clear, do you mean this?

Come on, he/she must be a bit better than that, I’m going with Offended description it’s more convincing…

November 1st, 2008, 6:09 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

OK guys lets end this now.

AIG – I am really sick of your useless comments. Consider this a final warning. Anything that is even remotely annoying and you will be banned for a very long time. And don’t even consider pointing to others, because i am holding you and only responsible. I’ve had it.

November 1st, 2008, 6:23 am


offended said:

The definition of a ‘troll’:

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response, or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Sounds familiar? 🙂

November 1st, 2008, 6:26 am


Innocent_Criminal said:


I don’t know why you’re being so tough on Phil. He did not saying anything that offensive. Actually most of what he said is valid criticism.

November 1st, 2008, 6:30 am


offended said:

Definition of a ‘troll’:

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response, or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Source: wikipedia.

November 1st, 2008, 6:45 am


Alex said:

Now that it is quiet here : ) … I will try to add something:

The Oxford meeting Jihad was talking about was attended by Prince Turki Al-faisal (Former Suadi head of intelligence), Alon Liel, Matti Steinberg (intelligence adviser), Nabil Shaath (Palestinian official), Avi Gil, former director general of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Syria should try to get more info on what happened in Oxford.

November 1st, 2008, 6:45 am


offended said:

But Alex, why would a meeting attended by a Saudi prince be of any significance to Syria? have we made amends with the Saudis and now we’re coordinating foreign policy moves?

November 1st, 2008, 6:56 am


Alex said:


Jihad was not too happy about that meeting… it looked like another round of attempts by the west to manage to settle the Arab Israeli conflict without having to talk to Syria or any of the hard line Arab movements (Hamas, Hizbollah…)

Which is part of what I referred to in my article .. another cycle.

They don’t learn.

November 1st, 2008, 7:07 am


Alex said:

Here is the lovely Abdel Rahman Elrashed … funny how the Saudis and the Neocons are always singing in harmony

Elrashed is repeating what David Schenker is saying this week … that AL-Qaeda is in Syria.

الهيجان السوري

طبعا، لا احد يلوم دمشق على غضبها بعد أن أغارت اربع طائرات هليكوبتر على مزرعة في قرية السكرية، خمسة اميال وراء الحدود العراقية، وقتلت من تقول انهم عائلة بريئة، ويقول الاميركيون انهم ارهابيون، بينهم مهرب اسلحة كبير مول عمليات كبيرة في العراق.

هذه المرة جاءت ردة الفعل من دمشق صاخبة. مظاهرات في العاصمة، واغلاق مكاتب ثقافية اميركية، وتجميد العلاقات مع العراق، وسحب السفير السوري الى بغداد الذي وصل إليها فقط قبل ايام، وسحبت قواتها التي تحرس الحدود المشتركة مع العراق ونقلتها عمدا الى الحدود اللبنانية المنهي عنها. كلها رسائل احتجاج وتصعيد دبلوماسي مضخمة، اذا قورنت بالاختراقات السابقة، واذا وضعت في اطار الحادثة نفسها.

منذ عامين كان الاميركيون يتحدثون عن الدور السوري في الارهاب في العراق. اتهموا دمشق بانها وراء الفوضى الأمنية في العراق منذ سقوط بغداد، وان الغالبية من الارهابيين، عشرات الالاف من مختلف الجنسيات استقبلتهم ونقلتهم سورية الى داخل العراق. وبلغت الامور من التوتر درجة ان تحدث الاميركيون عن خطوات خطيرة حينها بينها مهاجمة سورية لمنع التسلل، حال دونها جملة اسباب من بينها الخوف من نقل المشكلة الى الداخل السوري، الذي يعتقد انه لا يحتمل الكثير من الضغط. والثاني ان الرئيس بوش الذي ارتكب جملة اخطاء في العراق تحاشى ان يتهم انه يكرر خطأ الرئيس السابق ريتشارد نيكسون بهجومه على كمبوديا لمنع المتمردين في فيتنام ووسع دائرة الحرب فتسبب في كارثة جديدة. طبعا وثقت الظنون بالدور السوري الخطير في العراق بعد العثور على وثائق سنجار التي كشفت تفاصيل مثيرة حول الكيفية التي تعمل بها القاعدة في العراق، وسردت تفاصيل دقيقة للنشاطات القادمة عبر الحدود. الاميركيون يعتقدون ان اغلاق البوابة السورية، الذي تم بالتفاهم أخيرا مع السوريين، هو الذي خفض حمام الدم في العراق.

November 1st, 2008, 7:33 am


Rumyal said:


If you will engage the Israelis directly you’ll get a huge ground swell in support of peace. But note, at the same time, you’ll also be confronted with tough AIG-type questions. Look, AIG is really giving the Syrian folks here a free-out-of-jail card with his criticism. Some of the questions he asks must be answered if we are to make progress. The problem is that he frames them in such an absurd way that there is no chance that they’ll be addressed in a serious manner.

First there is his style and personality which others have already talked about and I’ll just leave at that.

Second, the problem with AIG and AP is that they are trying to defend Israel and at the same time attack Syria. The knee-jerk reaction is to turn around and attack Israel as much-worse-than-Syria. This type of discourse is not productive in any way, except when people want to vent. There is something very fundamental that needs to be said: both countries are screwed up, each in its unique and screwy way. Israel is far from being perfect, with the biggest problem being the occupation, repression and dispossession of the Palestinians. But Syria is not that great either. Open any fact book, human development or rights index, and check it out if you need convincing. We come from two very problematic countries. Throwing mud at each other only helps us remain stuck where we are, instead of looking in the mirror and figuring out how to improve.

We use each other as excuses to not improve and keep the existing evil status-quo. At the same time it’s impossible to make significant unilateral steps of rapprochement in this suspicion filled space. Thus we can only improve together, in tandem, in a virtuous cycle. To make progress together we must realize that our respective warts are of significance to the other side. Even if we’d like to think about our problems as internal affairs these problems actually factor prominently in people’s perception of the possibilities, nature and stability of proposed peace deals. For example, the notion that Syria is an unstable minority-ruled dictatorship deters Israelis from ceding the Julan/Golan back to Syria. Thus demonstrating that the regime has wide support of the population or that the population supports peace regardless of the regime is of very high importance. Seeing that the regime needs to throw dissidents in jail is not encouraging from this perspective. The same goes for Syrian expectations of Israel with respect to the rights and policy towards Arabs in Israel and Palestine. When an Israeli newspaper reports that a 70 year old Palestinian was killed in IDF activity in Jenin some Israelis opt to believe that this is just a matter of ensuring security and there is not much to be done about it, definitely it’s nobody’s business to question our judgment. Of course every Syrian who’ll hear of this will have his blood curled! But can you imagine that some Israelis don’t realize that? This too you need to explain directly to the Israelis, with YouTube personal testimonials rather than bombastic declarations at the security council (I’m not saying you don’t have the right for the latter, just that the former will be much more accessible to the Israeli population if you’re interested in that).

The bottom line is that you can expect a lot of the Israelis to raise similar questions to AIG’s, but they would be on the average much more keen to listen to your responses and start a fruitful dialogue. They would also be keen to listen to your grievances if they are framed in a personal and accessible way. I think this forum could have an excellent opportunity to rehearse such a dialogue, but we’ll have to get AIG out of the picture because, well, we want not only to reap the fruits of our work but also have some fun along the way and make some friends and let’s face it it’s not going to happen with AIG.

November 1st, 2008, 7:53 am


Jad said:

Dear IC,
I wasn’t trying to be tough on Phill at all, I just wanted to show him that even if the Syrian government did everything the west ask her to do it wont get anything that value and they wont welcome her with open arms as he wrote.
Look around the middle east and give me one example of an Arab country success with the west, many Arab countries are doing exactly what the west is asking them to do and NONE, not one country in the region have succeeded in having an open arms welcome from the west. Even Turkey, with all its progress and its aggressive effort to become a member of the west is always shut out, not to mention that they’ve been trying that for one hundred years now. So, when I read a white paper or a recipe promising of heaven by just doing couple easy steps I can’t accept that because I know that I have millions of priority that my government should look at before Lebanon and before the west.
Our biggest mistake Phill, is that we always concentrate on the reaction instead of the main goal of building and promoting our Syrian society and the simple “Abou Ahmad”, we never take control of our own agenda, there is always something else, and it will always be something else, but dealing with that shouldn’t be on the expense of our Syrian society. I do want the government to do its job and I do want it to deliver that and to be clear and open with me as a citizen. I agree with you Phill that we have the potential to become much better, BUT with or without the west open arms, yet we have to work on that, and it shouldn’t be the job of one person as some people try to portrait it, it shall be a collaboration of everybody.

Dear Alex,
So, the Saudis are now playing the peace card without the main players…I say: good luck with that…it’s like having a wedding without the bride, I feel sorry for the groom and his Saudi MAZOUN..
Weren’t they busy building bridges between all religions for the last couple months? Did the king already done with the bridge building and now he is ready for his next task? He is doing pretty well for a grandpa.

Offended my friend, you are something else, where did you get ‘HIS’ pic from? he looks a little bit serious though yet very convincing 😉

November 1st, 2008, 8:45 am


offended said:


I agree with you. Syria is not a perfect country. Far from it. We have our own fair share of problems: we have poverty, illiteracy, corruption and heavy-handedness of the regime. We have another growing problem which is religious extremism. This has been simmering in the society for a while. And it’s been helped by the offensive attitude of Mr. Bush and his neocon’s buddies. Regime change in Syria is out of question: for gazillions of reasons; one of them being the precious safety and security it’s providing for the people. This may sound like setting the bar very low, but it’s not. I appreciate the fact that my parents back home can sleep with their eyes closed. Without having to worry about death squads, suicide bombers or a missile (mis)guided by bad intelligence. The only plausible chance for us is to work for peace. Peace in my humble and hopeful opinion IS going to do wonders. Least of which is defusing the tension. Secularizing the conflict. Humanizing the conflict. The problem with AIG is that he’s here only to disrupt and undermine any chance for rationale dialogue. I know many Israelis have their qualms about Syria. As many Syrians may have theirs about Israel. And here’s where the job of the concerned normal people like you and me begins.

November 1st, 2008, 10:09 am


Innocent_Criminal said:


Can we please stop talking about AIG i dont want to give him an excuse to get back into that cycle.

November 1st, 2008, 10:41 am


Disaffection said:

Oxford meeting excluding Syrian representation and including Bandar al-Turki???? Bush’s toy-boy? such credibility, im lost for words….. lets just leave it at that.
Pointless malarki.
Any peace initiative minus the Right of Return is hardly a peace initiative, not even a surrender initiative, but nothing more than allow-me-to-bend-over-initiative.

With regards to Mr Jihad’s analysis to the American raid, i find some if it simply realistic, while the rest just plain insulting to the reader.
Is there more to come of this gradual response? or is this it.. as tepid as it seems.
Syria is waiting to get “clarification”. how long is going to wait for and what sort of clarification could turn out to be excusable?

By “briefing the accredited ambassadors in Damascus about the details of the aggression” are we to assume that he was not aware of the raid and he needs to be woken from his sleep? Such dramatic reaction.

shutting down an American high School or better known in Syria as DCS (Demascus Community School). Thats a blow the Bush would’ve never anticipated. Better yet, they should have shut down the Icarda International School of Aleppo (IISA). There blow the US couldn’t recover from for the next few decades.

On the popular level:
very true, this incident only exacerbates the anti American sentiment, rally the public together behind the President, further victimising legitimate critiques.

Security wise:
“Syria made it clear that the security and stability of Syria has a top priority”. Are people feeling that secure in Syria knowing US infiltration to Syrian territory, imposing military action at their whim with or without Syria’s consent, and how inactive our recently invested defence system along the border.
Its just disheartening to see the feeble response of our leadership and its allies.

Is it just more realistic to believe the following:

November 1st, 2008, 12:26 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

Jihad is one of the very VERRRRYYY few Syrian officials who are western media savy. My one & only question to ambassador Imad Moustapha was:

Why is it that the Syrian government is the only government in the region yet to have western-media savy officials? Is it because the government cannot recruit them or because they distrust such characteristics? And why do the currents speakers continue to regurgitate pre-manufactured government policy arguments instead of being slightly more independent and much more dynamic? and how would you improve this huge shortcoming?

November 1st, 2008, 12:35 pm


chris said:

“More and more Syrians are not differentiating between the terrorist explosion of the 27th of September, and the American Raid against Syrian civilians.”

Is he implying that its reasonable to think that the “terrorist” explosion on Sept. 27 was orchestrated by the US? It sounds as if he is saying that people are gradually coming to that conclusion given the recent U.S. raid. Pretty soon he’ll be saying that the U.S. is responsible for the jihadist terrorism in Iraq or that 9/11 was an inside job.

November 1st, 2008, 1:56 pm


ugarit said:


Are you saying that the US does not engage in acts of terrorism? The US has used vehicles as explosives before, this is nothing new. I don’t know if the Sep 27th terrorist act was done by the US.

November 1st, 2008, 2:16 pm


Ford Prefect said:

For some reason or another, a carbon-based life form above had the idea that when I mentioned a “baboon”, I was actually referring to it (the life form). And, immediately, I was accused of resorting to “name calling” instead of rebuking the “evidence”. Excuse me?

So now we are to first clean up 5,000 years of wars and hostilities, (Lebanon was cited as an example, but for comedy reasons only) kick out Hamas, HA, Iran, Korea, Bill Maher, and just about anyone who says “no”, and then we might be able to find them listening to our peace gestures.

And, oh by the way, if Syria kicks out Hamas, Hamas will no longer exists. And if Syria stops supporting HA, HA will just vanish from the minds of the Lebanese people.

How naive. It calls to question how much brain damage did Bush do for the past eight years. It is clear that the damage of lowering intellectual capabilities was much more severe than originally expected.

Rumyal, yes, you are correct. Israel is full of single-minded, war-driven ideologues who see their world shaped up by the use of military adventures. An observer of history will immediately find out that Israeli military might was unable to provide Israel with the peace and security it thought it will get. Ask any Israeli today and you will get security and safety as a top concern just as it was 6 decades ago.

Syria has also these same minds. So do the Palestinians. SO do the Arabs. We can sit on the sidelines and watch them fight it out, needlessly. Or we can mobilize and take control of this madness.

Are the forces of peace capable of eventually winning?

November 1st, 2008, 2:30 pm


chris said:

“On the popular level: the thousands of people who demonstrated in Damascus wanted to send a double message to the United States and also to others who didn’t condemn the Raid, that these kinds of aggressions will only enhance the national unity and the rallying around our president.”

First of all, we all know that the demonstration was organized by the regime. That is clear. So the demonstration, if that’s even the proper word for it, only speaks to the efficacy of the totalitarian regime and doesn’t say much about “national unity” and the “rallying around our president.”

If we could draw conclusions about the Syrian people from demonstrations then we surely would have expected far larger demonstrations and other public expressions of anger in response to Israel’s raid last September. After all, that was a large scale raid deep inside Syria by a long time enemy against the military. Surely Syrians were upset by such a bold attack yet I can’t recall any demonstrations in the aftermath. Of course, demonstrations in this case would have been uncomfortable for the regime since the success of the attack was a sign of the regime’s military weakness and any real response to the attack was out of the question. The difference in public response signals that these (or this) demonstration(s) aren’t a gauge of public opinion, but rather, theatrics orchestrated by the regime when it suits them.

November 1st, 2008, 2:35 pm


Chris said:


The US has a military and the US uses it. We know this. So it engages in military action.

Terrorism refers to political violence committed by non-state actors (against civilians).

Has the US used trucks in military action? Perhaps. But of course, terrorism is not defined by whether one is using trucks, planes, or ships. So if the US puts explosives in a truck to kill Zawahiri that wouldn’t be terrorism, it would be military action against a combatant.

Was the Sept. 27th attack a terrorist attack? To me that’s not very clear, because the target may have been an Syrian intelligence agency. That would be a military target. Attacking a military is not terrorism. Militaries are fair game, civilians are not. That’s the crucial difference.

November 1st, 2008, 2:42 pm


Rumyal said:

Dear FP,

>>> Are the forces of peace capable of eventually winning?

I ask myself the same question 🙂 It’s definitely a battle worth fighting. We need to be able to convince ourselves that there is a kernel of influential peace supporters on each side, then we can take it to our peoples, showing them the evidence and backing for peace. That’s how we jumpstart a virtuous cycle 🙂

November 1st, 2008, 3:52 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Dear Rumyal,

Yes, indeed. You are just speaking my mind. There are enough of us out there to make a difference.

November 1st, 2008, 4:04 pm


Off the Wall said:


ICARDA is primarily Canadian, Its empolyees are from all over the world, and it has excellent working relationships with several important UNESCO-HQ (Paris) programs and with some outstanding United Nations University (UNU: Canada) scientists. Back before i knew much, i, like many others, used to think that it is a spynest. But having learned better and being much more familiar with their work and their capacity building activities in dry-land management efforts in Syria and other countries, and of their excellent programs for sustainable resource management governance, i have turned 180 degree. I In fact I have reviewed (professionally) several programs of which ICARDA has been a partner, and they are a great asset to Syria.

November 1st, 2008, 4:12 pm


norman said:

Iraq sends police to guard Syrian border
Published: Saturday 01 November 2008 14:58 UTC
Last updated: Saturday 01 November 2008 14:58 UTC
Iraq is sending police reinforcements to the border with Syria. The rapid reaction force is aimed at preventing al-Qaeda combatants from penetrating Iraq.

The measure follows the United States air strike last Sunday on the Syrian border city of Abu Kamal. According to the United States, the attack killed an al-Qaeda leader responsible for smuggling combatants over the border.

Syria condemned the US intervention and demanded an apology from Washington. Damascus also sent extra troops to the border region. Iraq equally condemned the US attack, but it also said Syria should take stronger measures against organisations that aim to harm Iraqis.

Syria is enforcing it’s forces with Lebanon ,

I wonder if it will move in to do what the US did in Syria, That will be interesting.

November 1st, 2008, 4:17 pm


Off the Wall said:

Wow, Things on SC are moving quite rapidly. I am busy for a couple of days, and what do I find on my first visit, more than 120 new comments to sort through.

RE: Jihad Makdissi
I fully agree. I have been observing this phenomenae and the rise of a new generation of Syrian diplomats and professionals. All I can say is that I am proud of them. It seems that theye has been a tectonic shift in the diplomatic corps in syria. It seems that it no longer is a “vacation appointment” for the children of the privelaged, or a “a forced exile” for former powerfull men. This is a very good sign.

I fully agree with you regrading the positive role of antagonistic adversaries. Just take for example our current election campagin. Clinton gave Obama a preview of things to come if he was to get the nomination. When it happenned, he was able to formulate a reasoned and strong response.

AIG, AP, and other less frequent commentators are helping us learn more about how to work in a society with free flow of ideas. There would be good ideas, there would be bad ones, offensive ones, half truths and half lies, comments and statements taken out of context, and emotionally charged arguments.

When I send a paper for publications, i learn some from positive reviews as they affirm the integrity of my research methods. However, It is the bad reviews, well intentioned or those rare ones with a clear outright agenda (yes, scientists have egos and agendas), that teach me a lot. Responding to these reviews either by addressing their concerns, or by arguing against their premise is a must for the paper to be published, and thus they force you to re-evaluate your work by seriously considering the reviewers point of view.

November 1st, 2008, 4:39 pm


AIG said:

Mr. Perfect,

I do not know what is worse, dehumanizing me or calling me a baboon, but just to let you know, you can call me whatever you like but the fact is that you are not demonstrating your ability for “co-existence”.

I concede that you and Rumyal have good intentions but what do not understand is that you are repeating the same mistakes that brought failure in previous peace attempts.

1) Talking in platitudes. You are trying to get acceptance for your direction by being vague and not addressing the details and more importantly the expectations of the sides on the major issues up front. You probably believe like Peres that “the process has a dynamic of its own” and that if we start negotiations without thinking first of the solutions to the major issues we will be alright. No we won’t. Oslo has proven that. The process was based on invalid expectations and brought sufferring to both sides. If you want to get serious you can say for example that you endorse the Geneva Plan or something like that. I understand your reluctance to do that, but there is no choice.

2) Not addressing the issue that any peace that does not make the life of the average Arab better long term is a recipe for disaster. The average Israeli gained a lot from the peace with Egypt. The average Egyptian got royally screwed. The Camp David accords allowed Mubarak to entrench his despotic rule and has stopped any democratic progress in Egypt for decades. The only alternative now in Egypt to Mubarak, is the Muslim Brotherhood because he has smashed any democratic option. That is indeed a sad state fo affairs. The average Syrian or Palestinian will not benefit at all from peace with Israel unless this issue is addressed before hand.

3) In the specific case of Syria, it also views itself as a regional power. I would like a simple question answered. Let us suppose peace is signed. Syria will just be another third world country ruled by an oppressive regime, won’t it? Syria’s “power” comes from playing the spoiler: inflaming the Arab street, funding Hamas and Hizballah, murdering Lebanese politicians etc. After peace is signed, Asad will have to deliver actual economic growth with no one to blame for his failures. That is a recipe for something that will blow up in everybody’s face. The Syrian economy and education system are decades away of being able to compete globally. What will hold Syria together after the “resistance” is taken out of the equation?

November 1st, 2008, 4:51 pm


ugarit said:

Chris said:

> Terrorism refers to political violence committed by non-state
> actors (against civilians).

What a convenient definition! Then it will appear that your military (any military for that matter) would not be terrorizing a group of people. The definition you are using is a political tool. I hope you do realize that that particular definition was created to exclude acts of terror by the US and its allies.

Any act that instills terror is terrorism. It’s such a useless word.

>Was the Sept. 27th attack a terrorist attack? To me that’s not
>very clear, because the target may have been an Syrian
>intelligence agency. That would be a military target. Attacking a
>military is not terrorism. Militaries are fair game, civilians are
>not. That’s the crucial difference.

Therefore, by your definition the bombing of the pentagon on 9/11 was not terrorism and the bombing of the marine barracks in 1980’s in Lebanon was not terrorism, and the bombing of the USS Cole was not either. Oh I forgot you have this convenient definition that it must be a non-state actor. Oh by that definition then not Syria, nor Iran nor Libya have committed acts of terrorism.

Do you realize that the word terrorism is worthless and is merely a political tool?

November 1st, 2008, 5:17 pm


jad said:

CHRIS, (First of all, we all know that the demonstration was organized by the regime. That is clear. So the demonstration, if that’s even the proper word for it, only speaks to the efficacy of the totalitarian regime and doesn’t say much about “national unity” and the “rallying around our president.”)

Are you saying that the Syrian were and still “acting” as if they are ‘angry” about the raids just because the “terrible” “vicious” regime organize the demonstration?
What you are saying means that the people are actually happy about the raid and it’s result and they don’t care at all if the American would invade them…that reminds me of the idea saying that Iraqis will welcome the American with open arms before the invasion, well, we all know how welcome they are and still…. in case you forget, the results of that assumption in numbers are; 4189 soldiers and rising (I’ll take your word on that, MILITARY men are fair target and not terrorism to kill them) hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian were killed and still (again according to you, that is pure terrorism by the American and resulted by their act) (let’s say 5000 of them were terrorist and deserve to die that is fair, but does that justify the 900,000 civilians to die too? You tell me) Millions of civilian refugee (shouldn’t we call that ethnic cleansing or war crime? I’ll leave it to you to define)…
Do you think the demonstration was a conspiracy theory by the authority? Is that an act of terrorism to organize a demonstration inside your country? Is it accepted in your checklist, and what category do you put it under?
PLEASE be rational when you write, I and many on here are fed up with the irrational analyses of the raid…it was a pure mistake and you should be brave enough to admit that without giving any excuses, or blaming the regime for something else, it’s that simple…just accept it and move on.

November 1st, 2008, 5:17 pm


ugarit said:

More on the American students in Syria: a Syrian scientist sent me this: “I read with amazement at the feelings of the American student who was made to wait eight hours for his visa. Imaging, he even “made friends with the tea boy.” I probably cannot be more humiliating.
Well, Syrians, I understand, wait actually days for their visas to the US. In most cases they have to travel to Jordan and the Lebanon to obtain it. But this is nothing compared to what a United States citizen of a Syrian origin have to endure if he ventured outside the United States… His family, happened not to be of the same extraction, watch worried sick as he or she is detained, searched, and asked pointless and silly questions in multiple interviews up the ‘ladder of command’ of the security apparatus, each obviously frightened to take the obvious step of letting the bugger go. I wonder whether the unhappy American student expected to be treated differently. There is an element of audacity in expecting an American traveler whose country have just invaded Syria and killed in midday eight civilians, to receive anything but the natural and genetically justifiable wrath – yet he states clearly that he was treated well, and he was even assisted in getting his visa – another character trait of Syrians that annoys me when I see how Syrians and others are treated like animals in the US and European airports – even if they were United States citizens. A true sympathy with of the predicaments of the people of the Middle East, Arabs, Kurds, Tukmans, Assyrians, etc., is usually expressed by understanding their motives, as well as their state of development too, and not expect to be paid special treatment in return for gracious sympathy to this or that cause. That makes the said sympathy so superficial, so temporary and so unwanted. During a long stint in the UN, the only nationality amongst my Senior Scientists I was comfortable to send to a developing country were the Dutch and to a lesser extent, the French. The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxons, in particular, and the almost spoken racism of the Germans, caused me and the Director-General much grief and many lost opportunities to do work in the vast region of underdevelopment. As time passed, it became apparent that the insecurity they expressed through their muffled racism and other antics, turned out to be more related to their professional capacities, as External Assessment after another criticized their work, and recommended changes in their programs. They could not be fired, as others were, because of the US and British influence in the UN and its agencies!!!”


November 1st, 2008, 5:28 pm


AIG said:


Why are you ignoring the excellent question that Chris asked?
Why were there no demonstrations after the Israeli attack?

The simple and rational answer is that the average Syrian does not care much about Israel attacking a nuclear facility nor does he care much about a raid on a remote Syrian village. He cares about making ends meet. However, the regime chooses what the citizens should “care” about and what they demonstrate about. And they do it cynically, not because they are worried about “human rights”. People who put other people in cages just for speaking their minds are not really concerned about human rights. And herein lies the crux of the problem, on the one hand you support the regime and its actions but on the other hand you find fault with the US.

Now, who is being irrational? Shouldn’t everybody be judged with the same standard? Or is the fact that Offended’s parents can sleep with their eyes closed so important that it is a “rational” excuse to deny all Syrians basic democratic rights? You are angry at Bush for curbing some small liberties for security but have no problem with the Syrian regime curbing ALL liberties in the name of security. How can we have a rational discussion if you and others in your camp hold such contradictory opinions? I advocate ONE standard for all: Syrians, Americans and Israelis.

Can someone give me a rational answer?

November 1st, 2008, 5:44 pm


ugarit said:

More on American students in Syria. Raed sent me this (I use with his permission): “man, what is it with those foreign students your posting letters of? a bit of modesty could be good, in their situation. Why modesty you may ask? well, just to cool of some of their wrongly oriented enthusiasm i may say. i mean, why is it wrong for the syrian lousy regime to make americans wait at the borders? this is maybe the only good thing the lousy syrian regime is doing.
the american and french regime are not humiliating us at their borders because of reasonnable causes. their policy toward foreigners and especially arabs are due to a whole tendency in their political and beauraucratic discourse aiming at putting the arabs in order. its not because the syrian regime is a dictatorship that the american and frnch regimes treat syrian citizens like trash (and other citizens too). Its because od things intimitaly related to post colonial relationship between old colonial states and old colonized ones. In this case, its because of the lousy syrian regime’s policy towards israel, cos remember, that even if for you and me, the syrian regime is not doing enought (and even sabotaging) the struggle of the palestinians, it is NEVER enough for the american establishment for exemple. what is the syrian regime was a democracy, and committed to Palestinian struggle. I bet my… that the american regime would treat the syrian citizens in the same way: As inferiors (im not impressed with the whole anti-terrorist pragmatic new arguments). Would it be wrong if the syrian regime, instead of let say bombing innocent american civilians (which they do not do anyway but the americans do, “normally”), made bureaucratic measures for american citizens a bit uneasy. the palestinians are in the same problem: that of having limited resources for retaliation. this is the situation of the weak: What else could they do? anyway, look at how that student interpreted the lousy regime’s policy as “taking out their frustrations”. what is this? This is what was said about saddam’s regime in the lousiest media in the west (france and US anyway), constructing a vision of a whole 3 million state-fonctionnaire (and 20 million citizens) as mere tools of one man’s eros. and what does all this got to do with the Golan? 3ayb. The Golan question (that the syrian regime is handling in a lousy way as i like to think) is something deeply tied to the reason why the regime have problems with the US in the first place (and not the regime’s industry of enriched uranium). Citing the Golan here is taking the superiority tone to an upper level. some foreign students have to watch out for:
1) orientalism
2) the anti-orientalism sentiments of the indigenous population (like myself) when confronted to someone who made it his business to have a speech on the things the indigenous have a speech on, a thing a bit out of their control (whether they want it or not) but to which they have to give A LOT of thinking (self-sociology is not of my inventions).
3) not everything on the syrian regime’s agenda is bad. Some things are inherited since before the regime was born. The regime, since we are in the diabolic essentialist schemes, is “stuck” with the Golan question (and arabism). This is not very sophisticated explanation, it used to be a cliche.”


November 1st, 2008, 5:45 pm


Alex said:

Finally, a totally legitimate argument from AIG.

Very reasonable too.

Let me try … although I know you will not be convinced, but for the benefit of other readers who are following this thread.

1) You supported Oslo at the time … I was totally against it. Now you realize it was a mistake. But you do not have it in you to accept some of the blame for the mistake … so you learned the wrong lesson from that mistake … or at least you did not learn all the lessons to be learned.

The Oslo agreement was opposed by Hafez Assad who told Clinton at the time that he will not do anything to stop it … it will fail by itself.

ONLY comprehensive solutions can have a real chance of success.

This is what you need to realize from the failures of Oslo, the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, an the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza … you can’t expect the whole region to accept what YOU decide to withdraw from … and you can’t use these withdrawals as tactics to be used against Syria or … peace starts with good intentions… and it works when you accept to sit facing an equal partner in peace .. not someone that you feel you can defeat in a day or two of fighting.

2) True, many Egyptians are poor or hungry thirty years after Sadat signed the peace treaty, but you need to remember that Egypt has very little economic resources to feed its 70 million inhabitants. Syria is in a much better situation …. I KNOW of massive plans for developing Syria after a peace treaty. tens of billions of dollars will b invested … making Syrian ports the entry point for trade with the whole area of the Levant … an Internet city that will train and employ the large number of talented young Syrians who are increasingly skilled in computer programming and IT technology administration… call centers in Arabic (Syrian have the easiest to understand Arabic accent) … in addition to all the tourism development …

Don’t worry about Syria post peace … the Syrian people will experience a radical change. Political reform will also move forward … but there is a limitation to how far it can go for now …. remember my 7-14 years after peace estimate for the time it can take before Syria will be ready to be a semi-democracy.

But the part that concern you as a Israel is the fact that most Egyptians are furious at Israel … that peace treaty can not erase the images from their TV screens of your soldiers’ daily humiliation of poor Palestinians that you continue to occupy.

Add to it the excessive religious tendencies that the smart Bush administration fueled by invading Iraq and destroying the lives of millions of Iraqis … add to it the massively arrogant American/Israeli attitude towards any Arab who disagrees with them … and don’t forget the tens of billions that the wahabis spend world wide each year to empower the most fanatic religious leaders in Islamic countries … then remember that the United States is pretending that nothing the Saudis are doing is causing serious damage …

November 1st, 2008, 5:51 pm


ugarit said:

Chris asked: “Why were there no demonstrations after the Israeli attack?”

Because it was not a village and there were no reported casualties and it was a military building. That being said Syrians were still angry that that target was destroyed, but attacking a village and killing civilians is far more severe a blow to the average Syrian. This is the case because it means that any Syrian civilian can be a target of American violence. The civilian Syrian now has to contend with an authoritarian regime and violence from an aggressive occupying neighboring military power who cares even less for their lives.

November 1st, 2008, 5:58 pm


Alex said:


Also because, until Syria and Israel sign that treaty, Syrians already have low expectations regarding Israel’s frequently hostile behavior. But they are still hoping that the Untied States (or the Bush administration) learned to fix the obvious mistakes and is now ready to be the friendly nation that it can and should be.

Yet … this administration never fails to shock and disappoint.

November 1st, 2008, 6:03 pm


ugarit said:

Alex said: “Yet … this administration never fails to shock and disappoint.”

The foreign policy of the US is disappointing in general regardless of president. Obama will have to prove his credentials that he can be an effective agent of Israeli interests. Things are not going to change. The US and Israeli only understand military might.

November 1st, 2008, 6:10 pm


Chris said:


I didn’t say that I think Syrians are happy about the raid. Nothing in my post came clsoe to saying that. What I said is that this demonstration should not be seen as a reflection of anything but the ability of the regime to bring people out into the streets. The evidence for this is the fact that after a raid of much greater significance in September of 2007 we saw no such response. This is because then it wasn’t convenient for the regime to call attention to the Israeli raid.

Yes I the demonstration was a “conspiracy” by the authority. All demonstrations in Syria are organized by the regime.

November 1st, 2008, 6:16 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Before you get banned again, which I think ought not to happen, I’m posting a follow-up argument.

Land for peace, does it say which is dearer?
I’m not done yet with this kind of logical exercise.
Here is an analogy to demonstrate that when the Syrians do not agree to peace for peace, it does not necessarily mean they value the Golan more than peace:
A student refuses to cooperate on a common project with his colleague until the latter returns a textbook he has taken away from the formar, despite the fact that upon completion of the project, each one will receive a monetary reward that exceeds the price of the textbook. By taking this stand, the student is acting rationally, trying to maximize his gain while at the same time, not leaving his classmate at a net loss. Now, if you say this example is not comparable to the Israeli-Syrian conflict, then you have to add a new assertion to the premise.

November 1st, 2008, 6:19 pm


jad said:

If there were a demonstration after the Israel attack on the “military” site with no casualties, would you and Chris not asked the same “excellent question”? it’s an endless thread with you guys…anyway, to answer you and chris “excellent question”:
It wasn’t an attack on civilians,it was an empty military base, there were no casualties so it doesn’t need a public demonstration, the government went through the diplomatic road and demonstrating to the UN, it’s that simple…there was conspiracy behind that either

YOU and many others on here are not looking for answers or any kind of rational exchange, you are just looking for an argument and you are not even willing to listen to the answers. Everybody on here tried to have a rational exchange with you and failed not because of them being a “regime lover” “regime bedfellow” “regime hater” “Muslims” “Christians” “Jews” “Arabs” and “non Arabs” but because YOU don’t want any output of your argument, YOU just want to accuse, call names, be rude and racist as much as you could, even if one of them give you a rational answer you will judge him, It’s YOU not anybody else.
So whenever YOU are ready to have a productive and meaningful debate everybody here is willing to engage in that otherwise you will be always outcasted and non of us will engage with your endless arguments.

November 1st, 2008, 6:22 pm


jad said:

AIG, don’t ask about the cage, it’s not legitimate of an israeli to ask such question, your regime is doing far worst than that. so stop and mind your own country’s business.

November 1st, 2008, 6:34 pm


Chris said:

ugarit said:
(in response to “Why were there no demonstrations after the Israeli attack?”)

“Because it was not a village and there were no reported casualties and it was a military building.”


Come on! There were no reported casualties because the regime kept it a secret because it was too embarrassing (they not only can’t defend their borders but they can’t defend military installations either). After a week news got out because the U.S. went public about it. They couldn’t fend off a squadron of Israeli jets and they couldn’t repond to it. They were completely defenseless.

That’s why there was no demonstration. The government not only didn’t organize one, but they kept information about the raid from the public.

When people finally knew about it, a week later, I tried talking to people about it and they were visibly uncomfortable about talking about it or they had no idea it occurred.

November 1st, 2008, 6:34 pm


Chris said:


Really? A person can’t make a comment about the lack of free speech rights in Syria because of where there from? Really? The passport that one holds should impact what we say about our concerns for human rights.

I don’t care where anyone is from but everyone ought to be concerned about the rights of Syrians and their lack of free speech. The fact that Syrians can get locked up and tortured for having anti-Bath views should be horribly upsetting to anybody who is concerned about human rights. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Norway, Israel, Mexico, China, Canada, or the US, we should all be concerned about the way the Assad regime treats its people.

November 1st, 2008, 6:45 pm


jad said:

Chris, you prove my point that it is an endless thread with you…
What do you want? what is the end of your dispute? what is the point you relay want to clear? the US attack was legitimate and it wasn’t any mistake there and that we over reacted and the demonstration shouldn’t happen and it is a conspiracy from the evil regime to destroy the american clean image?
If I agree with you would you move on and have a more productive point you want to raise or any comments about the Oxford meeting! just tell me…

P.S. A must correction of your “report” the SYRIAN and not the US went public about that. The US government waited half a year before they go “public’ about it.

November 1st, 2008, 6:52 pm


Jad said:

Is your name AIG? was that remark for you? No…but If u are an occupier and moralizing me then YES your comments are likely to be ignored according to your passport, live with it..

November 1st, 2008, 6:57 pm


Shai said:


I finally got a chance to read Jihad’s comments. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I happen to agree with almost everything he said. There’s no doubt that Israel has not produced the political ability to end any of our conflicts in the Arab world, over the past 30 years. None of our leaders had a clear vision for peace, and even if any did (Rabin), they always felt they couldn’t “sell” it to our people. Truth be told, since the 1973 Yom Kippur war, many Israelis’ self-confidence was shattered to such extent, that they cannot fathom trusting an Arab, nor giving up on land conquered as a result of that, or the previous war.

I disagree with Jihad over his assumption that Peres and Barak’s recent “initiative” is an attempt to bluff and evade peace. If someone in a position of power, able to make decisions, was to raise this new initiative, then maybe one could consider this a delay tactic. But neither Barak nor Peres can do anything without the approval of the upcoming PM, be it Bibi or Livni. So the question remains, if not a bluff, what is their new initiative all about? I attempted to answer this question in an earlier comment, by suggesting that both leaders seem to have identified a political vacuum, if you will an opportunity, while Olmert is engaged in police investigations, while the Judicial Adviser to the government hadn’t decided yet on the Turbowicz case, and while Tzipi Livni was running around begging Shas to join the government, thinking she could do so while avoiding their usual “bakshish” (wrong!)

This opportunity, I believe they thought, might force something on the ground, if certain Arab leaders also seized the moment, and would come out with some “powerful” declarations. For instance, if the Saudi King would suddenly say “We need to talk to Israel…” (without demanding we first solve our problems with the Palestinians). Barak certainly hoped to win some of the last remaining Labor supporters who are headed Kadima-wise in the upcoming election. By being the only party leader to “reignite” the peace process, perhaps he’d get another 1 or 2 seats, beyond the 10 his party is expected to receive on February 10th. Plus, remember that both Peres and Barak were kept out of the Syrian loop by Olmert, and they were therefore less inclined to support its continuation, when they know next to nothing about its contents. Instead, they figured if they raised the Arab Initiative again, certainly no one could blame them for being anti-Syria.

Now as a general note, having read some of the comments above, I must say that Rumyal is very correct in Israelis will not change unless they are convinced that Syrians, and Palestinians, and others in the Arab world are also changing. “What do they want from us?” you might say, implying that certainly AIG’s fantasy of seeing dictatorships replaced overnight by democracies will remain, a fantasy. Well, I don’t think Israelis expect that at all. What they need, is to feel that their neighbors are not out there to simply retrieve land, and then to continue wishing upon our destruction. They need to feel that the Arabs have given up on that dream.

How can Arabs convince Israelis of that? That’s a tough question. I’m sure many of our readers believe, and understandably so, that until Israel does not end its Occupation of Palestine, nothing should or will change in the Arab world’s view of Israel. So now the question is, can Israelis be made to understand this point. I think that up until now, the Arab world has failed to communicate this properly and effectively to the Israeli people. As Ford Prefect understands, and others here, communication must also take place between Arabs and Israelis, not only between their leaders. Most Israelis cannot understand that the Egyptian people hate us because of what we’re doing to their Arab brethren the Palestinians. Most Israelis honestly believe Egyptians hate us, because they’re Arabs, and all Arabs hate us. It doesn’t go beyond that. And some rare cases, like AIG, use brainpower to conceive a theory, that places their anger at Israelis on our peace agreement with Sadat in 1979, and on our continued “support” (what support?) of Mubarak. Ya’ani, if we only told Mubarak to take a hike, suddenly most Egyptians would fill the streets and dance the Hora (an Israeli dance).

Are most Israelis idiots? Of course not. They are, however, like all other people on this planet, easily misguided. When your leadership keeps supporting a mechanism that brainwashes the citizens into believing that the Arabs are still, all these years, out to destroy us, you can convince an ape to support and carry out an occupation of another people. When our own politicians have bought into Bush’s “Axis-of-Evil”, and use this term to describe Syria (and to recently point to the American raid as “further evidence to Syria’s membership in the Axis…”), then how can we expect the simple people to think differently. They can’t, unless other loud and powerful voices are heard.

Who can voice these? Well, the Left and Center have failed so miserably in the past 8 years, that I doubt most Israelis will listen to them. Some 30% of Labor is escaping Kadima-wise, and 20% of Kadima is headed Likud-wise. Simple observation clearly indicates widespread migration towards the Right. Israelis are now going to listen to Bibi Netanyahu, more than to Ehud Barak. Is Bibi expected to change our views anytime soon? Of course not, at least not for the better. If and when he talks seriously to Syria or the Palestinians, it’ll be behind closed doors, where his constituents will not hear him. So who can change their mind? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind, that the best suited with the greatest likelihood of convincing Israelis to think differently, are the Arabs themselves. The Arab leaders (Assad in particular), and the Arab people. If direct contact is not possible, let us exchange journalists (as we’ve suggested recently). Let our people begin to communicate with one another, even if indirectly, so that more Israelis know what Arabs are truly all about, and so that more Arabs can see that Israelis also want peace. We cannot continue to underestimate, or reject, the education and re-education that need to take place amongst our people. We’ll continue to stay in place, or head backwards, until we accept this, and do something about it.

November 1st, 2008, 6:57 pm


Shai said:


I don’t accept AIG’s argument at all. He said:
“Shouldn’t everybody be judged with the same standard?… You are angry at Bush for curbing some small liberties for security but have no problem with the Syrian regime curbing ALL liberties in the name of security. How can we have a rational discussion if you and others in your camp hold such contradictory opinions? I advocate ONE standard for all: Syrians, Americans and Israelis.”

There is no such thing as “One standard” between nations. That’s a naive fantasy. If we held all nations to one standard, and decided that only those with equal standards would be at peace with each other, 2/3 of the world would be at war. Would AIG prefer that the U.S. not have peaceful relations with China? Would AIG prefer that most non-democracies be isolated from the U.S. and Europe? It seems to me that people like AIG believe in Huntington’s clash-of-civilizations. They believe it is our fate, and it is inevitable.

That is why he claims we should “speak frankly, honestly” about matters. Let’s be honest about Syria’s cruel dictatorship, so that the Syrian people can finally have a bloodless internal revolution, overthrow the criminal regime, and then smile towards Israelis, and we’ll all be ready to make love, not war. And let’s repeat that in every Arab nation in our region, while Israel and Israelis wait there, patiently, repeating our mantra “At least we’re a democracy, free to elect our leaders, free to speak our mind, and free to occupy, subjugate, and suffocate some 3 million people, whenever we like… and for as long as we want…” And the U.S. should isolate Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and Kuwait, and Yemen, and 90% of Africa, Asia, and a fair bit of Latin America.

Alex, don’t buy into AIG’s “arguments”. They’re meant to do only one thing – distract your attention from his real quest – to destroy any attempt to bring peace to our region. If I didn’t know him better, I’d say he was delusional. But by now I’m convinced. He’s much too smart to honestly believe his own words. Despite endless bans, some that lasted weeks, he still returns, again and again, to destroy. You wanna engage him? That’s your prerogative. And your own personal masochism… 🙂

November 1st, 2008, 7:37 pm


Chris said:

I hold the United States and Israel to a HIGHER standard than Syria.

November 1st, 2008, 7:56 pm


trustquest said:

For God sake, there no free well demonstration in Syria since ever, stops this argument, everyone knows that, but what is aggravating is the people who are in denial and keep insisting on arguing. Please have respect to intelligent of the people on this forum.

I’m the one who went out from Damascus HS for a demonstration with free well and that was the last real non-authority organized demonstration in 1965. It was against the well of the authority and it was for nationalism cause. After that date, there was no single demonstration in Syria walked the street without the authority organizing it.

November 1st, 2008, 8:24 pm


AIG said:

Your example is the following. Student A and student B are told that if they work together on a project they will receive $50 each. But student A belives student B stole a book from him worth $20 and won’t agree to do the project unless the book is returned. How is this rational? Student A is giving up $50 and is also not getting back his $20. This does not seem like a rational choice to me. It is a common emotional choice but certainly not a rational one. This is the classical example of harming yourself a lot in order to also harm someone else. Is that rational?

As usual you do not read carefully what I write. My argument is that most Syrians on this blog judge Bush by completely different standards than they judge Asad. I would like to understand why that is so. To me this is very troubling because it shows that they are insincere about true peace based on democratic concepts. My argument is not that democratic countries should go to war with non-democratic countries. One easy way to find if a person is sincere is to see if he applies the same standards to everybody. But really, how can I trust Alex’s and Norman’s intentions if they view Bush as a total failure and Asad and his policies as great? Something does not add up. And yes, the HUGE MISTAKE in US policy is that it is inconsistent about the need for democracy worldwide. Why has Mubarak gotten a pass? The Americans need to be consistent. That is what I like about the idea of both American candidates to reduce significantly the need of the US to import oil. Then the US will be able to advocate its true ideals and not be hypocritcal. The Syrians will not love us after they become a liberal democracy. But if they do become a democracy then the regimes in Syria will be ACCOUNTABLE and if they don’t bring economic growth they will be voted out of power. That is very good for Israel.

Oslo did not fail because it was not comprehensive. It failed because it did not deliver any of the aspirations of the Palestinians or the Israelis. It failed because the expectations of both sides were very different. It failed because issues such as the right of return were never discussed beforehand. It failed because unbridaled optimism like Shai’s and Mr. Perfect’s without the willingness to address head on the major issues. You cannot hope these problems away. They need to be discussed up front and the expectations of all parties going in to discussions must be realistic. Otherwise you get the second intifada and the Palestinian civil war.

You cannot tell me not to worry about what will happen in Syria after peace. If the price of peace is the Golan and perhaps having to relocate tens of thousands of Israelis, I need to have my questions answered rather concretely. Who is going to invest tens of billions in a dictatorship when there are so much better investment opportunities elsewhere? How is Syria different than Egypt? Education wise it is not. The Egyptian software industry is much more advanced than the Syrian one. Why will this investment help if Syria remains corrupt and inefficient as it currently is? What is stopping now the Syrians from setting up call centers? It is a rather cheap investment and the Syrians would have already done it if it made economic sense. Frankly, your whole plan sounds completely unrealistic to me but if you give me details I may change my mind. Without real democratic change and without seriously limitng the number of children born per family, Syria looks to me in a hole it cannot get out of. Giving the Golan to Asad at best may buy Israel a few years before all hell breaks loose in Syria and Israel finds itself both without peace and without the Golan.

November 1st, 2008, 8:32 pm


Shai said:

AIG, do you really think readers here believe you care more about Syria than they do? How can it be that AIG worries more about the freedoms of the average Syrian, than Alex does, or Norman, or Ford Prefect, Offended, Zenobia, Naji, OTW, JAD, and many many others? What is it about you, AIG, that is so pure, so pope-like, that makes you care so much about the Syrian people? Or, perhaps, it’s a smokescreen?

Perhaps you couldn’t give a rat’s a** whether Syrian politicians were finally “accountable” to their constituents for the terrible economic situation in Syria, or whether the average citizen can finally place an op/ed in the local paper, describing how corrupt the regime is. Maybe your concern about the number of Syrian children born per family is about as sincere as your belief that the U.S. should isolate China, because its executions-per-capita are just slightly higher than those in the state of Texas.

Your belief in “consistency” would have caused Israel to disappear years ago. We shouldn’t have made peace with Egypt, because it wasn’t a democracy. We should, instead, have fought another 3 wars with it, so that the Egyptian people don’t hate us for further supporting a dictator. We shouldn’t have relations with African nations, with Latin America, with China? If we hadn’t adopted the flexibility that is required in real-politique, and in existing as a nation amongst others on this planet, we’d have been a short blip on the region’s screen, that was now long gone.

You can fool some of the people on SC, some of the time. But you can’t fool all of us, all the time. Quite frankly, AIG, you can no longer fool me either. I know what you’re about, and it’s sad. All your energy, all your brainpower, all go into a systematic machine of destruction. Destruction of ideas, destruction of thoughts, destruction of hope. You’d rather see the whole damn thing come down over our heads (not yours, incidentally, you’re safely in the U.S.), than to become an “inconsistent” creature. God knows how “consistent” Israel has been these past 60 years. And I wonder how our Palestinian citizens view this “consistency” you’re so avidly pushing.

It’s a smokescreen, AIG, not sincerity.

November 1st, 2008, 8:59 pm


AIG said:

You are just absolutely categorically wrong.
All you are doing is trying to reframe my argument in order to then attack me and not have to address it.

Let me reiterate my argument. I care mostly about the future of Israel and its interests. I do believe every human being has a right to live in a liberal democratic society but I will not go and fight wars to force any country to change its regime. For peace with Syria Israel will have to pay a heavy price. The price is the Golan and all its benefits and a terrible fraction inside Israeli society invovled around wrecking the lives of thousands of families who have been living in the Golan for decades (we saw what happened with the families relocated from Gaza). Now I firmly believe that this price is not worth paying unless Syria is a democracy or squarely on its way to being a democracy. Why? Because I believe that economics and demographics will lead Arab countries to implode sooner or later unless they democratize and that then Israel will be without the Golan and without peace. The process is very clear in Egypt where poverty, insufficient economic growth, a fast growing population, lack of democracy and the rise of religious extremism are slowly but surely bringing us closer to a catastrophe. Syria is also in a very similar hole. It has all the same problems of Egypt and is much farther behind in economic reforms and industry. For example, Egypt has a functioning stock market and a software industry. Syria is not even there.

In addition, and this is a minor part of my overall argument, I feel very bad about letting down the democratic forces in Syria by legitimizing the Asad regime and repeating the huge mistake done with Egypt. Moving ahead with your plan will stop democratic reform in Syria for decades just as it did in Egypt. Since I firmly believe in democracy, this is something that bothers me very much. In addition, in the long term when the Syrians finally do achieve democracy, they will hate us even more.

For some reason you seem to think I am portraying myself as some angel because I am worried about democracy in Syria. So let me make this extra clear to you. I want democracy in Syria mostly because it is in Israel’s interest (and a little because I believe all humans deserve democracy). Is that clear enough for you?

You and Mr. Perfect can now go back to writing your “feel good” platitudes that get us nowhere. Have fun.

November 1st, 2008, 9:27 pm


jad said:

(I hold the United States and Israel to a HIGHER standard than Syria.)
I’m ok with that, may be someone else on this forum with a higher standard and not in denial can agree with you on concentrating about the demonstration and forgetting about the main incident….

November 1st, 2008, 9:31 pm


jad said:

Do you AIG condemn the Israelis regime for the way they are treating the Palestinians and occupy their lands? Are you ready to go in a demonstration against that in Tel aviv? Are you willing to give up the Golan for peace when a real democratic and elected government in syria formed by the majorities of muslim radicals? Are you willing to move back to Israel now and work there?
You have to state that clearly on this forum otherwise whatever you write is meaningless and just BSing.
I already know the answer I will get from you, therefore I stick working with a trustworthy and honest israeli great men like Shai and Rumyal and exchange with them our ideas because I trust their motives when they criticize the human rights in syria and tell me that my government suck, those are the israelis that will deliver real peace.

November 1st, 2008, 9:55 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Your example is the following. Student A and student B are told that if they work together on a project they will receive $50 each. But student A belives student B stole a book from him worth $20 and won’t agree to do the project unless the book is returned. How is this rational? Student A is giving up $50 and is also not getting back his $20. This does not seem like a rational choice to me. It is a common emotional choice but certainly not a rational one. This is the classical example of harming yourself a lot in order to also harm someone else. Is that rational?

AIG I would put your example like this, which I suppose is a little more relevant regarding the core problem as your.

Student A is allowed to kick student B all the time and steal his learning material. Student A gets from the American “business angels” the USD 50 weekly + extra bonuses even if the project is not finished. To student B is promised that he might get the USD 50 if he “behaves” and the project is finished. The problem is that student A is allowed to alter the terms when the project is considered to be finished. Student A also demands that the students who share his religion are allowed continue the domination of the school and students with students B religion must wash the toilets and serve coffee for students like A. If the students B are resisting the “order of A” they are called terrorists in the school’s newspaper.

This AIG is a classical example of apartheid, slavery and uncivilized behaviour. If AIG you would be student B how would you behave?

That is what I like about the idea of both American candidates to reduce significantly the need of the US to import oil. Then the US will be able to advocate its true ideals and not be hypocritcal.

AIG speaking doesn’t cost anything, not even for president candidates. Numerous US presidents and candidates have for decades demanded to reduce the need of imported oil. What has happened? The import has only increased. Well of course if US economy collapses totally no imported oil is needed, because there is no cash to pay it nor demand. Problem solved AIG. Buy a horse and show example to other Americans and Israelis. 🙂

By the way AIG why is Gordon Brown now touring around the Arab countries and not Israel? Well he is begging for financial help and seeking business opportunities. And he will be followed in near future by a constant flow of western leaders.

AIG in the future world oil producers do have much more political power than “the gemstone dealers” have managed to have. Eventually the Arab/Muslim oil producers will also use their new muscles to solve the “mad dog problem” (definition by Moshe Dayan, not by me). Let’s hope they use international pressure to change Israel, not weapons.

November 1st, 2008, 10:03 pm


AIG said:


I am a firm supporter of the two state solution. I firmly believe that any use of excessive or unwarranted force by any Israeli should be punished but that Israel should be judged according to the same standards that any other country is judged. But as usual you don’t understand the basic issue. It is much more important how a government treats its own citizens then how it treats its enemies. For some reason you want Israel to treat its enemies better than the Syrian government treats its citizens.

And yes, I would accept ANY democratically elected government in Syria, even from the Muslim Brotherhood, which shows that it is really accountable, that is that they accept criticism and allow more free elections and when they are voted out, they truly leave peacefully. I would not accept a fake democarcy in which the extremist get voted to power once and then don’t let go. To any truly democratic Syrian government, I would support giving the Golan despite the huge cost to Israel.

November 1st, 2008, 10:33 pm


norman said:



The only thing that i do not agree with you about is the speed of the democratic reform in Syria and if it is better to be before or after the return of the Golan , One last thing you seem to have more faith that the MB will leave if they are voted out than i do.

November 1st, 2008, 11:38 pm


jad said:

You still can’t condemn and acknowledge that your regime is treating the Palestinian miserably, you even calling them your enemy while you are the occupier not them.
If you were truly pro democracy and as you said that you would accept working with a Muslim Brotherhood government, why didn’t you work with Hamas when they won the election democratically instead of destabilize them and make the whole situation worsen? They could’ve deliver a long lasting peace with you but your regime didn’t do that…there is always a reason for not to make deals with your way of thinking.
All Syrians here know that we have many problem regarding Human rights, Development, Education, Health………….nobody wrote otherwise or denied that at all, and when Mr. Norman wrote that in a beautifully way
you verbally attacked him? Believe it or not, we do care more about our country Syria than you do and I strongly believe that we can improve our country working with the government not against it or curse it all the time otherwise we are doing nothing and we are going no where. There is always ways to advance by not destroying what you already got.
As I wrote before, I wont bet on a loosing horse and I’ll stick with stable and more straightforward Israelis to communicate with on here, Shai and Rumyal..

November 1st, 2008, 11:54 pm


Alex said:


I think you simply want to get rid of the Syrian regime becasue it gets on your nerves. You are not on Egyptian or Saudi or Jordanian blogs calling for democracy 5 hours each day like you are on SC.

But this is my opinion, I can’t prove it, and I don’t care to analyze you more.

But to go back to what I told you about Syria post peace:

1) This is not MY PLAN … this is a a collection of pieces of information about projects already planned and proposed by eager Gulf (and sometime European) investors.

All those who are spending hundreds of billions building things in Dubai (not a democracy, extremely small and can be invaded by Iran in 2 hours) … will find Syria much more stable.

Why not already? .. because they are EXPECTING a peace treaty a year from now … and that will mean that everything will be much easier … lifting of American sanctions will makes it easier… more cooperation with international financial institutions will make things easier …

The part I agree with you about is corruption …

November 2nd, 2008, 12:04 am


norman said:

Thank you Jad for your nice words.

November 2nd, 2008, 12:10 am


jad said:

Dear Norman,
It wasn’t a complement, I did mean what I wrote about you, so there shouldn’t be any “thank you” comments.
BTW, when you have time you should share with us your education system research and the differences between countries and what do you think we should do to improve our own syrian one..that is a very important issue that you need to write about when you are ready.

November 2nd, 2008, 12:28 am


AIG said:


Let’s see. Hamas not only did not recognize Israel, it continued shooting missiles at Israeli civillians. Why would Israel work with an entity that was trying to destroy it? Furthermore, Hamas quickly showed that they are not democratic and do not plan to leave power any time soon or have free elections. They do not tolerate any criticism of their regime in Gaza. Remember, being democratic does not mean being elected. It means ceding power peacefully after losing an election and it means allowing an opposition to flourish.

You say:
“I strongly believe that we can improve our country working with the government not against it or curse it all the time otherwise we are doing nothing and we are going no where. There is always ways to advance by not destroying what you already got.”

Right, let the dictator decide what is good for Syria. Let Syria fall more behind other nations because it is difficult to get rid of the dictator or because you do not trust your fellow countrymen not to attack you in your sleep. Do what you want, but do not expect Israel to give the Golan back to such a Syria. Syria is digging itself more and more into a hole, and the longer Asad stays, the bigger the hole becomes. If you cannot see this after 40 years of Asad rule, then what can I say. If you think it helps, talk to Shai whose views represent less than 1% of the Jewish population.

November 2nd, 2008, 12:29 am


trustquest said:

Before I answer you AIG about the cage, let me say that I do agree with JAD regarding this point and I wish you adopt your call of reform, engagement and civil treatment to the Palestinians under Israel control.
In reference to the Gage, as far as I know, I was in Syria long time ago, I have never seen a criminal behind bar in the court room like the one in the picture. Actually main court center in down town Damascus- Nar Street where the criminals and civic procedures take place, there is no cage in any of the court rooms.
I think the cage is for dramatic influence so they can look in front of public as very dangerous.
Those doctors, lawyers, artist and former parliament members inside the cage are peaceful citizens their crime is they met together and wrote their views on the internet about the state of the country.

Comment on your posts today:
AIG, Please continue your campaign, I think you are heading for something good. It is not what Shai is calling for neither what you are calling for. It is a mix of both and what human rights activists been calling for on both sides for decades.

First let me be clear, I do support the peace process with Syria and its current regime and I do not think you should hold calling for it till that democratic system in place in Syria.

But on the other hand, I’m with you in pushing for reform and I think Israel should have those calls as part of the package to put it on the table and impeded as showing of sincerity in the peace package so it can guarantee a lasing peace between two democratic nations. This is the right time and if this opportunity passed it will never come again. As you said there are no guarantees for the lasing peace if current authoritarian system continues because it has a lot of issues to solve and there is no indication that they are going in this direction or they will be able to change afterword.

Shai criticism of you come close to agreeing with you when he said: “Let our people begin to communicate with one another, even if indirectly, so that more Israelis know what Arabs are truly all about, and so that more Arabs can see that Israelis also want peace. We cannot continue to underestimate, or reject, the education and re-education that need to take place amongst our people. We’ll continue to stay in place, or head backwards, until we accept this, and do something about it.”
Is he serious, he should know better the construction of the regime in Syria and on what basis built. I’m not against it but it is too stiff of regime and is not showing any flexibility inside. And it seems that it will not be able to change clothe before or after peace. I do thing the USA policy hurt the change instead of helping it. They could actually played positive rule into the democratic change by not isolating the regime but by engage it and encompassing it into what is called moderate states. I was expecting even bigger rule to the regime is supporting US in Iraq but the US administration played it dumb.

Some on this blog were hurrah-ing the changes made by the young president, while everyday there is prove that the dictator is entrenching on the account of the civil society there. It is only this week the minister of economy is starting a campaign against Israeli products in the country. There is no economic export-import with Israel, why they do this, if not to deepen the sentiment divide and to paint themselves as Arab National believing only in war, while other country have started export-import with Israel and they never criticized in the open.
My point is, that exactly what you might head to if you compromise with your ideas to be included in the peace process and in the future openness that the system in Syria is dreaming of. Civil rights, human rights are something in both camps; Israeli and Syrian civil leaders should work to achieve peace.

November 2nd, 2008, 1:49 am


jad said:

-You didn’t give Hamas any time to even consider changing it’s policy after they become in power, you declare war on that government the day it was elected.
-Your mistake regarding Syria, is that you concentrate too much on one person, the president, you think that Mr. Asad is the only man who should be blamed for everything and he is the only one able to improve the situation on all level. I totally disagree, I see it as a collaboration work by everybody and I don’t want to blame one man for that mess the whole society is part of that.
-(or because you do not trust your fellow countrymen not to attack you in your sleep)
I do trust my countrymen, why shouldn’t I !?…
-(Do what you want, but do not expect Israel to give the Golan back to such a Syria. Syria is digging itself more and more into a hole, and the longer Asad stays, the bigger the hole becomes. If you cannot see this after 40 years of Asad rule, then what can I say.)
Yes you are right we didn’t progress for all that time and now our law system is not good enough, the corruption is killing the economy, the urban development is going with no direction, the human rights are violated everyday, but should I go crazy and destroy everything or should I be smart and tackle those problems and try to solve them one by one instead?
The Golan is coming back to Syria sooner or latter and the longer you wait to give it back the harder your sacrificing will be…
-(If you think it helps, talk to Shai whose views represent less than 1% of the Jewish population.)
I’m honoured to talk to Shai, usually the 1% of the society are the best.

November 2nd, 2008, 2:05 am


JustOneAmerican said:


You make some valid points are very good at pointing out hypocrisy, but it seems to me insisting Syria be on the road to democracy is not only an unnecessary precondition but also a quite unlikely one. Syria may indeed turn into another Egypt, or it may grow more dictatorial, but so what? Isn’t that preferable to the status quo?

Also, you are completely correct that Israel will have to pay a high price to give up the Golan, but much (if not most) of that high cost is self-inflicted. It wasn’t Syria that allowed Jewish settlers to move in and reside there for decades and continues to do so. And it seems to me that each year you willingly make the price yet higher through your own actions or inaction. Maybe you should begin to pay down some of that debt now so when a peace agreement does come, the burden won’t be so heavy. It seems to me that should the present conditions continue, the price will become so high as to be completely unbearable. Where will you do then? I might suggest, therefore, that you spend a bit more effort looking after your own house than worrying about your neighbor’s.

Finally, here’s my perspective as one who isn’t a partisan for either Israel or the Arabs: The main problem, as I see it, with both of you (meaning Israel and the Arabs) is your inability to prevent the radical elements in your respective camps from scuttling agreements. The failure of Oslo had as much, if not more, to do with undermining by radical elements than anything else. It’s been quite easy for those elements to stir up trouble and get the tit-for-tat violence going again at key moments. You both so predictably step into the traps set by the radicals on the other side. For example, Israel needs to realize the principle goal of suicide bombings is not to kill Israelis or destroy the state of Israel – it’s to cause an (over) reaction by Israel for the purpose of radicalizing Palestinian and Arab public opinion. Hamas has gotten to where it is today because Israel is unable to avoid that trap which simultaneously makes Hamas appear as heroes and Israeli’s as villains in the eyes of Arabs.

Until you both can prevent the minority of radicals from mucking things up you’re never going to get anywhere. Those radical elements want war and never want peace. Why do you both make it so easy for them to keep getting what they want?

November 2nd, 2008, 3:09 am


AIG said:


The status quo is certainly much better than having Syria implode and become unstable without Israel holding the Golan. the status quo before Oslo was much better than the second intifada that was a result of Israel trusting Arafat and letting him arm both Isalmic Jihad and Hamas.

I would argue that the fact that after the 1967 war the Arabs would not negotiate with Israel at all (the three NOs of Khartoum) and the fact that Asad would not join the Camp David peace process with Sadat put the responsibility for Israel retaining the Golan squarely on the Asad regime. In 1988 Asad missed the best opportunity Syria ever had of getting the Golan. Now it is likely too late for his regime. Israel is such a small country that it is unreasonable to expect it not to utilize the Golan over a 40 year period. History waits for nobody and has no rewind button.

November 2nd, 2008, 3:30 am


JustOneAmerican said:


I agree to an extent about responsibility – after all, it’s usually the case that the loser in a war is supposed to give concessions for peace and Syria certainly lost.

I’m not sure why you’re worried about Syria imploding without the Golan. In the unlikely event the Golan became a threat, Israel is more than powerful enough to either eliminate the threat or, if need be, retake the Golan.

As for using the Golan, it seems a bit disingenuous to argue about the high price (self inflicted) of giving up the Golan on one hand, while arguing on the other that it is unreasonable to expect Israel not to “utilize” it, thereby raising the price. So each year that passes the “price” for Israel goes up which means, presumably, the price for Syria to get it back goes up as well? If that’s indeed the case then it’s no wonder so many believe that Israel never intends to give up the Golan. One might further suggest there is a difference between mere “utilization” and the building permanent settlements which amount to annexation.

BTW, you’re right that history has no rewind button, but history does have a tendency to come back around and bite you in the ass.

November 2nd, 2008, 3:57 am


Rumyal said:


Thank you for peeling the cover over AIG’s true motives so methodically. If he continues answering you so sincerely we’ll be getting to the bottom of it really soon now. If he doesn’t, then I’ll offer my theory based on comment #87.

The question on the table now is: why is it so important for Israel to hold the Golan if and when Syria “implodes”?

November 2nd, 2008, 4:12 am


AIG said:


I do not understand your logic. Why get into a bad deal and then have to fight another war in order to get the Golan back? That does not make sense. So what if Israel is strong enough to retake the Golan? It will still cost human lifes and a lot of money and should be avoided. Not to mention the ten thosands of Israelis whose life would have been disrupted because they would have had to leave their homes on the Golan for no good cause.

If you agree that the Syrians are mostly responsible for Israel holding the Golan, how can you also say that the price for holding it is self inflicted? You really expected Israel to wait with using this real estate after the three NOs and the refusal of Asad to join Sadat? Should Israel have left it vacant for 40 years? Can you show ONE historical precedent for such action, or do you expect Israelis to be saints or something? By the way, the Golan has been legally annexed to Israel.

Rumyal, most Israelis believe that Israel should return the Golan only for some very tangible benefits. After all, it was annexed to Israel and is Israeli land. When Syria implodes, all the tangible benefits of returning the Golan would have evaporated. So why give it back in the first place?

November 2nd, 2008, 4:49 am


Shai said:

AIG, a few pro-democracy, Muslim Brotherhood-loving comments, are not going to fool me. Your precondition of democracy-first in Syria is an intentional excuse to delay the inevitable return of the Golan to its rightful owners. By the way, the Golan is due back to the Syrian people, not to its leaders. And the Syrian people are the lawful owners of the Golan regardless of who sits in power on the hill overlooking their capital, a cruel and corrupt dictator, or a democratically elected Mother Teresa. But since you do not recognize International law, and since you won’t condemn Israeli occupation, subjugation, and suffocation of Palestine over the last 40 years, you see no fault in continuing to hold the Golan.

Don’t try to tell Syrians you’re remaining on the Golan first and foremost in their best interest. In fact, that’s an amazing accomplishment on your part, I’ll hand it to you. Imagine, you’re conducting semi-serious conversations with a few people here who actually don’t realize they’re giving you a green-light not to return the Golan when they agree with your “pro-democracy” talk. If they were more alert, they might realize your attempted manipulation, and cease from listening to you.


Thank you for the kind words. And thank God we don’t have Syrians here telling Israel to have “democracy-first” in Israel which, if AIG hasn’t yet realized, includes some 3 million people under Occupation, with no rights whatsoever. I suggest you introduce a Syrian-AIG, who will argue all day with AIG about peace only when Israel allows the Palestinians to vote in Israeli elections (that’s called Democracy, not our current Apartheid). It is the highest form of hypocrisy, to suggest Israel should only make peace with a free people, while we are continuing to occupy and control the fate of the very-unfree Palestinian people, on their territory. So let’s stop buying this hypocrisy, shall we?


The Golan is not ours, period. Even if Syria had 5,000 tanks, 10,000 artillery pieces, and 500,000 soldiers lined up from Damascus to Kuneitra, on their way to war with Israel, it would STILL be Syrian territory. If we’re lucky, we’ll return that territory under peaceful terms (and we’ll “get something” in return, maybe). If we’re not, we’ll return it after a long, bloody war, when the international community forces us to. I can easily see Obama threatening to freeze American financial support to Israel, if we continue delaying doing what is long overdue.


If there’s any claim against Israelis that we use delay tactics, that we are bluffing and are evading peace, it is precisely the kind of manipulations AIG is working here that support this claim. I’m not placing democracy-first as a precondition to anything. No Israeli leader has EVER placed such idiotic precondition, and nor do the Israeli people. AIG talks about me being in a 1% minority in Israel. He’s wrong. About 30% today feel like me, that the Golan should be returned to Syria, also under its current leadership. Maybe 1% of Israelis share AIG’s demand to have democracy-first, but 99% do not!

Most Israelis have bought into the Axis-of-Evil crap, and are therefore “demanding” (as if they’re in a position to demand) that Syria flip-first. But no Israeli leader will be able to get Syria, or Burkina Faso for that matter, to drop its allies, to end its relationship with anyone it wishes to befriend. Most people, like anywhere in the world, are easily misguided at times. Believing we can succeed in getting Syria to drop Iran is such a myth some in Israel and the U.S. have managed to “sell” most Israelis for a while. But when we make peace with Syria’s Assad, and Assad’s Syria, this myth will vanish as quickly as it came.

Btw, I do know quite well the “construction of the regime”, as you called it, and what basis it is built on. I do not think 99.6% of Syrians are voting “for” any President, when “free elections” are held. I also don’t think most Syrians can go out in the street today and yell “down with the regime” and not get punished. I’m well aware of the lacks of freedom, and the widespread corruption in Syria. But to me, that should not hinder in any fashion communication between our people (direct or indirect). I didn’t say it’s easy. But I appeal to your leadership in Syria, and to mine in Jerusalem, to allow also our PEOPLE to talk to each other, to get to know one another, to educate each other. If not in person, then through a TV-set, or any other means. But just as you and I are finally talking (thanks to the kindness of Joshua and Alex), and are finally beginning to understand one another in ways we couldn’t before, isn’t it time we do the same for our people?

How can I expect the average Syrian to think Zionists are not bloodthirsty, land-grabbing, war-mongering Palestine-settlers, if they’ve never spoken to, or heard, a single Israeli person (other than Gen. Ariel Sharon yelling “onwards” atop a tank rolling into Beirut)? How can you expect the average Israeli to think Syrians aren’t bloodthirsty, terrorism-supporting, Axis-of-Evil members, if they’ve never interacted with Syrians? The education that is required on both sides, indeed the re-education that undoes the terrible brainwashing that our people have undergone for 60 years, must begin now. And if our leaders can’t guide our people back to sanity, then it is our job. Like Ford Prefect said, there are enough of us to make a difference. But we cannot do it alone, without your (Syrian) support. Ask your country, and your leadership, to open up to us. Let Israeli journalists come to Syria for a few days (and vice versa with Syrian journalists). Let them interview some leaders, but especially people in the street. Let them show what life in Syria looks like, what Syrians look like, how they smile, and laugh, and hope for peace, just like any other people on earth. Let Israelis hear the sincere wishes of all Syrians to put an end to our differences, and to put an end to war. And then, people like AIG will stop his babble about not being sure Syrians “really” want peace.

November 2nd, 2008, 5:28 am


Rumyal said:

So I think that today we got a little bit more insight into the pleas for Syria to become democratic before the Israeli public will accept a peace treaty. Ostensibly the claim is that since the regime in Syria is authoritarian minority rule it is bound to falter at some point and when it does the new regime will not honor the peace agreement. Democracy is seen as a guarantee that the deal is acceptable to the people and not just to the regime and therefore peace will remain stable for a long term. I don’t think that Israel has demonstrated that the “democracy requirement” has any special merit when it comes to abiding by international agreements. For example Israel made a mockery out of the Egyptians when it signed the peace deal with Egypt without the slightest intent to follow the spirit of the agreement when it came to implementing the Palestinian autonomy. Dayan is quoted as saying that had the Egyptians knew the Israelis’ real intents with respect to the Palestinians they would not have signed the deal. With the Oslo accord, if we believe for a moment that Rabin did intend to implement it, the regime change in Israel, putting Bibi in power in 96 after Rabin’s assassination in 95, and the U-turn that followed, demonstrated that the scenario that is so much feared in theory with the Syrian dictatorship is a reality that happens every few years with the Israeli democracy (exactly as Jihad Makdissi noted).

Still, this argument is going to be voiced often by both sincere and insincere criticizers of a peace deal and thus must be answered in a convicting manner.

The core of the argument is that the Syrian people doesn’t really want to enter a peace treaty with Israel, it is forced to do so by an illegitimate regime. Thus, ostensibly, when the illegitimate regime is overthrown and the people finally get their wishes, they will toss the peace treaty together with the dictator.

I have an idea how to address this issue (probably nothing new :-)) that I want to pass by the good and smart folks here: what if as part of the peace deal it was brought to a ratifying referendum in both countries?

This is already a plan-of-record in Israel, the question is will this work in Syria? By bringing this directly to the people, we get three benefits:
1. The people’s wish is honored.
2. The people on the other side of the fence know that there is deep commitment from their partners: it is a peace of the people, not a peace of the leaders.
3. Syria gets to play with democracy in a manner that hopefully is not too scary for the regime.

The referendum will have to be monitored by international observers, otherwise the results would be discredited. The biggest question is will the regime in Syria be courageous enough to allow for such a referendum? Maybe one way for the regime to test the water is to run other referendums prior to this one on other, less crucial, matters. This will allow the regime to check if generally there is popular support for government policies and in general see how the public is reacting to this type of opening-up. The “mock” referendums could be “gamed” by the regime as much as it wants/needs, to minimize risks and give it maneuvering space in case the whole thing fails.


November 2nd, 2008, 5:53 am


jad said:

Are you ready for the “chinese trip” on Wed? don’t forget to bring your chopsticks…
One small comment about Obama: I highly doubt that we will see any kind of pressure on Israel by him, it wont happen. My fear now is that with all the hope people have for Obama we might end up with a big disappointment on many levels, I hope that I’m wrong.

November 2nd, 2008, 5:56 am


AIG said:


As usual, you portray my positions incorrectly. How many time do I have to explicitly repeat that I have Israel’s interests at heart and not Syrian interests?

Are you not aware that by LAW the Golan is part of Israel? Are you not aware that in Israel, Israeli law trumps international law? The Israeli supreme court would agree that the Golan is legally part of Israel. If you do not respect Israeli law, that is your problem. Of course there is no fault in Israel holding the Golan just as there is no fault in France holding Alsace and Lorraine, Britain holding Gibraltar, the US holding Texas and California and Russia holding 1/3 of what was previously Finland, just to name a few examples.

And where is the hypocrisy about explaining clearly that it is in Israel’s interest only to return the Golan to a democratic Syria? Whatever we are doing to the Palestinians, I would accept any good argument that explains why it is against Syria’s interests to make peace with Israel until the Palestinian problem is solved. In fact, this is the position of Alex who thinks only a comprehensive solution will work. Where am I hypocritically denying anyone the right to argue in such a way? In fact, Alex’s argument may make sense. In addition, many on this blog who support the one state solution are demanding kind of what you are alluding to, that Israel change its governing principles. Where did I say that it was hypocritical of them to make this argument?

You are in the 1% who think that the Golan should be returned just because they think it is Syrian and they don’t demand a tangible benefit for giving back the Golan. The other 99% think that the Golan is a valuable asset and should only be returned for a very tangible and long term benefit. In fact, most Israelis are just employing common sense. The issue is quite simple. You have to explain to Israelis what the benefits of peace with the Asad regime are and why the price of the Golan is worth it. You just do not have a convincing explanation. Unbridaled optimism is not an argument.

As for talking between people, I am all for it. At least on that we agree. It will be a small step towards democracy in Syria. But of course, the Syrian regime does not allow Syrians to talk freely among themselves so you are quite dreaming that they will let Syrians talk freely to Israelis.

November 2nd, 2008, 5:56 am


jad said:

Rumyal!!! what is a referendum????…is it kind of food or something? 😉

November 2nd, 2008, 6:04 am


AIG said:

What you describe is one aspect of the problem. The other is that when Arab countries implode they lose control over armed factions inside those countries. That is the current case in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Giving back the Golan would be a huge mistake not only in the case of a new regime that is against the peace process, but even in the case of a weak regime that cannot stop Hizballah, Al-Qaida and Hamas like organizations harassing Israel from its territories. Imagine Syria going through a long civil war. In that case many terrorist organizations would find it easy to work against Israel from Syrian territory. The ratification by the Syrian people of an agreement would be helpful, but given the history of armed organizations attacking Israel from weak countries, it would not be sufficient.

November 2nd, 2008, 6:07 am


offended said:

AIG, you keep bouncing from one position to another. Just so that there is no confusion; tell me please which of the following is your position:

1- You don’t accept giving back the Golan to Syria now, since there’s no democracy in Damascus; hence you think ‘peace for peace’ is the only viable solution in the meantime. But once there’s a democracy in Damascus (whenever that might happen according to your standards), you are prepared to give the Golan back.

2- You don’t accept giving back the Golan at all. Not now, not after 5 centuries. Whether there’s a democracy in Syria, or a North Korea style of government. And you think ‘peace for peace’ is the only plausible solution.


November 2nd, 2008, 6:31 am


shai said:


Nice try. Your calls for democracy and freedom in Syria are insincere, because you’re not doing the same in the Palestinian territories, a place Israel has NOT annexed, and no law in Israel claims it is Israeli territory. Btw, Nazi Germany also annexed certain territories – does that mean their citizens should have accepted it? When it’s YOUR country, any law is accepted? Enacting into law something that no other nation on earth agrees with, is usually not good recipe for future lecturing on peaceful coexistence. I follow many laws I disagree with in Israel, and I do not suggest Israelis should get off the Golan this instant, because that territory is not ours. But I do maintain that the Golan is NOT ours, regardless of who sits in power in Damascus. And it should be returned, regardless of whether the Syrian people are genuinely interested in peace, or not!


What kind of a buffoon would think the Syrian people would be angry at Israel for returning the Golan back to Syria? So what if a dictator is ruling at the time? AIG claims that will “strengthen” the regime. Ya’ani, opposition forces that are near-ready to overthrow Assad, will face a major blow the minute we give back the Golan, and their claims against the corrupt leadership will be rendered useless. It is the Golan that will ruin Syria’s chances at Democracy! What an absurd claim!

With all due respect, if Israel was a model democracy, where all are free and equal, where no large minority is treated unfairly, as 2nd-class citizens, and where no one controls the fate and freedom of another entire people, then maybe, just maybe, someone can consider calls for demoocracy in Syria sincere and in place. But for an Israeli to demand democracy-first in Syria, while we are occupying and punishing an entire people, for over 40 years, and are continuing to do so, is hypocrisy of the highest form. Notice, AIG has NEVER condemned our treatment of the Palestinians. He can’t utter a single criticism of his people, for illegally occupying the Palestinians territories. Yet he wants to first see all Syrians enjoy freedom…! Yeah.


I missed the lesson last week about using chopsticks in zero-gravity. Can you email me the notes please? 🙂

November 2nd, 2008, 6:59 am


jad said:

I toke a video, it was how to drink tea using chopsticks…

November 2nd, 2008, 7:18 am


Shai said:


Thanks. I think I’ll stick to Ahwe… Can we bring argilleh into space?

Btw, jokes aside, there actually has been a Syrian astronaut in space already. He was aboard the Russian space station Mir, in 1987.

November 2nd, 2008, 7:31 am


Rumyal said:

Hi Shai,

>>> What kind of a buffoon would think the Syrian people would be angry at Israel for returning the Golan back to Syria?

That wouldn’t be the contention. Rather, it would be that the Syrians would gladly take the Golan but would not provide their part of the bargain, the extent of which we are unsure of as of yet but definitely would include a recognition of Israel and some security arrangements at the very least. The critical Israeli claim would be: “we are giving back the Golan but we don’t really know whether the Syrians are ready to recognize us and guarantee our security”. A positive referendum result on the contents of the deal will assuage such concerns.

November 2nd, 2008, 7:32 am


Alex said:

Labor Party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that while he considered the chances of any breakthrough to be low at a time when both Israel and America have lame-duck governments, it made sense to continue the talks, “as long as this is done in a thought-out, responsible, precise and controlled manner.”

“Syria could be a peace partner, and there is a chance that this would also lead to an agreement with the Lebanese,” he explained. “And we, as responsible leaders, must not miss this opportunity.”

November 2nd, 2008, 7:36 am


Rumyal said:

Ahlan Jad,

>>> Rumyal!!! what is a referendum????…is it kind of food or something?

Yeah it’s best known as referendum ma3 t7ineh wa-snobar. Comes with opinion polls as appetizers 🙂

November 2nd, 2008, 7:40 am


Shai said:

Hi Rumyal,

No doubt such a referendum could indeed help. But what if Syrians are like the Egyptians, and the Jordanians, who will actually refuse to “recognize” Israel, or make real peace with us, until we end the occupation of Palestine? What happens first – Israel gives back the Golan, or Syrians recognize Israel’s right to exist here as we do today? It’s the typical AIG argument against the peace we made with Egypt. Since Egyptians hate us, he says “you see, why give back the Sinai to a people that hate us?” Knowing what he knows today, he would have kept the Sinai, and offered Egypt “peace for peace”. How can we support such a ridiculous idea?

We’re not talking about giving Syria partnership in an internet startup, and first verifying their board members are sincere, we’re talking about abiding by international law, by giving back territories that are not ours. Until we prove that we are not a colonialist power, that we are not interested in controlling the lives of others, that we are are sincere about OUR wishes for peace, how can we expect the other side to do the same? It is us that are occupying their land (and, in the Palestinian case, their people too). The only thing I would “demand” of Syria, in return for the Golan, is to stop its supply route from Tehran to Hezbollah, obvious security arrangements between the two nations, water issues, etc. I would not require a referendum because I may not be able to control the questions, and I may not like what I hear. What if 70% of Syrians believe Syria should not make peace with Israel, until we return to the 1967 lines, end the Occupation, and accept all refugees back into Israel? So do we not move forward, and try to make peace with Syria?

November 2nd, 2008, 7:53 am


Alex said:


There are ways to implement agreements gradually … Israel will have to sign an agreement that stipulates a full withdrawal from the Golan … but Israel will not fully withdraw from the Golan overnight … AIG will quickly realize that a positive shift in attitudes of Syrians towards Israelis already started to take place …

It is not like Israel will withdraw overnight … then a week later Syria will send chemical weapons to Hizbollah with a request to fire them at Tel Aviv.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:02 am


Rumyal said:


Re comment #48:

If I may ask, what field of science are you in? I only published a handful of scientific papers (on computer science) and still can relate to your experience. On one hand I was fortunate enough to receive amazingly detailed, constructive and tough criticism from a prominent figure in my field. On the other hand I also got to see some dirty politics come into play in the evaluation of my papers and how my professor handled it with great wisdom. I learned a lot about receiving and giving feedback from these incidents.

I totally agree with you on the need to get used to answering critical questions. I mean, I don’t feel compelled to convince AIG personally of anything (it’s impossible) but it’s useful to look at his arguments and develop canned answers that will be persuasive to the folks that are on the fence.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:03 am


jad said:

Yes Shai, we have one astronaut I think his name is (Mouhammad Fares), he went with the russian team. Thanks for reminding us of that.
I remember that day, we woke up really early 4/5 am to watch the launch on TV, Syrians were excited about him at the time. What left of that is the Capsule he came back with and his space suit displayed in a room dedicated to him at the museum…..

November 2nd, 2008, 8:07 am


Rumyal said:


I don’t think the Syrians will be as vague and as open-ended as the Egyptians were regarding the Palestinians, which is what the public cares about. They have said numerous times that they will not betray the Palestinians. If that is really going to be the case then they should not fear bringing such an agreement to the public because it *will* address the question of occupied territories and refugees in a satisfactory manner (maybe not in a complete manner, but satisfactory nonetheless). The fact that the final agreement will be comprehensive doesn’t mean we can’t start working and implementing bi-lateral aspects of it now. This type of process kind of works for the EU. Yes sometimes a member state rejects an initiative and then something has to give, but at the end of the day there is a great deal of legitimacy to the agreements that are agreed upon.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:23 am


Shai said:


From Alon’s lecture at the MEI in Washington, we know that during indirect talks, we raised the idea that Israel would withdraw from the Golan over a period of 5-15 years. Syria responded by saying it accepted 15! Now is that typically the answer a negotiator would expect to receive from an insincere enemy? The Syrian leadership is ready for peace. But certain people in Israel aren’t. This has NEVER been Israeli policy – not to accept peace from our Arab neighbors when offered.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:26 am


Shai said:


I agree with you, but we must also remain practical when things are just not as we like them to be. I want to have comprehensive peace (who doesn’t), but today, while the Palestinian people are essentially divided into four parts (Fatah, Hamas, Arab-Israelis, Palestinians in the Diaspora), who do you talk to? Abu Mazen the puppet? Of course not. Hamas and Fatah representatives? Let’s see them first sit with each other, before we contemplate them sitting with us. So we can continue talking about Arab Initiatives, and Saudi Plans, and Peres/Barak plans, but the fact remains – it is near impossible for Israel and the Palestinians to talk right now. So do we sit and wait? Or do we at least take the first step, by making peace with Syria (be it as superficial as it may)?

Our world runs fast nowadays, and we expect all things to happen that way. So all of a sudden, when Peres and Barak bring up the Arab Initiative again, as if someone had purposefully killed it, we start to talk about comprehensive solutions again. But what about the Syrian track? We had 4 apparently very successful meeting this year, and were supposed to have a 5th one a while ago. The Turbowicz case delayed this, but now it seems we’re headed back to the table, thank god. If the Syrians aren’t placing the Palestinian solution as precondition, let’s not place it ourselves. While waiting for the Palestinians, we may yet go through some terrible times, including operations in Gaza, perhaps Lebanon again, and outright war in the region. Can we afford to wait? I don’t think so. AIG does.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:35 am


Shai said:


Yoav Stern of Ha’aretz in an article this morning in Hebrew is referring to Jihad’s article on Syria Comment, saying Syria is rejecting negotiations based on the Arab Initiative. He quotes Jihad as saying Peres and Barak’s recent call to return to the Initiative is an attempt “to bluff and evade peace”.

On another article in Ha’aretz, however, Barak Ravid writes that Olmert is willing to negotiate the borders of the Golan in return for direct talks with Syria:

November 2nd, 2008, 9:55 am


Shai said:

Here we go… some reality-check on Netanyahu:

Netanyahu will divide Jerusalem, too

By Amir Oren

Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu

The telephone rings. “Soon there will be elections between Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni,” the booming voice announces in a pre-recorded message, belittling in its omission of Ehud Barak. “If you are leaning toward backing Netanyahu and the Likud, press one.”

No other options are given. Silence. The seconds pass. The pre-recorded voice breaks first. “The system is standing by for your response.” Silence. More seconds tick by. “The system is standing by for your response.” So let it stand by. Another pause. “The system is standing by for your response.”

Do I detect a hint of impatience in the plea? That’s not realistic, since this is the same recording. Silence. More seconds. Netanyahu’s patience is wearing thin. The message repeats a fourth time. Finally, the line disconnects.
The central issue of the upcoming elections will be the credibility of parties’ leaders. Livni, who said and did, or refused to do the opposite of what she said, has a distinct advantage over Barak and Netanyahu. The former irreversibly damaged his credibility when he broke his pledge to quit Ehud Olmert’s government by the Winograd report release date. His promises are meaningless. He decides whether and when to keep them. Barak is correct in stating that polls can change and be proven false, but this is accurate in both directions. The Labor Party might attain less, not more, than the predictions reflect.

Basking in the glory of the Labor Party all-stars is a joke. Its present leadership has no qualitative edge over Tzachi Hanegbi and Roni Bar-On of Kadima, or Silvan Shalom and Gideon Sa’ar of Likud. None of Labor’s ministers have convinced us we should renew their contracts. The best members of the Labor faction are outside the government, and Barak wants to keep them there, as prescribed in his stillborn agreement with Livni.

If Barak’s presence at the head of the Labor slate is not reason enough to vote for it, then Netanyahu’s seat at the top of the Likud list is reason to be wary of it. By the time the next government is formed, 13 years will have passed since Netanyahu reached the premiership, and a decade will have gone by since he lost it. Netanyahu has matured, and he claims he has learned from his mistakes, which he attributes to inexperience, but the issues of his personal and political credibility remain. Countries that are either bold or desperate are prepared to give such a person yet another opportunity to mislead them.

Netanyahu does not wait for an opportunity: He is already misleading. When he attacks the person he claims “will divide Jerusalem,” as opposed to him, he does not reveal the entire truth. It is interesting to know if, by Netanyahu’s logic, Silvio Berlusconi is “dividing Rome” by reconciling himself with the Vatican’s sovereign presence in the Italian capital. If Netanyahu tries to form a government, he will be faced with a simple choice: agree to the division of Jerusalem, or dictate government guidelines that preclude Livni and Barak from joining him, leaving him with Avigdor Lieberman and company, a diplomatic stalemate, a military confrontation and then, after the war, Israel being dragged into a settlement that calls for the division of Jerusalem.

The settlement, with or without a war, will by necessity be regional. General Avraham Tamir formulated the outlines 30 years ago. Now Syria is announcing that it intends to move from Turkish-mediated indirect talks to direct talks, with the United States acting as a go-between. Washington’s next administration will eagerly sign on, hoping Syria will offer a quid pro quo on the Iranian, Iraqi and Lebanese fronts. The Syrians will not let the Palestinians veto a separate peace with Israel, but they also will not be willing to accept being portrayed as abandoning the Palestinians to the mercy of Israeli rejectionism. Without Jerusalem, there will be no progress on the Palestinian track.

The key state backing Syria and a regional peace settlement is Saudi Arabia, Israel’s hidden neighbor, just a few kilometers from Eilat. Colonel (res.) Yitzhak Segev, whose diplomatic efforts in the Middle East have assisted more than one prime minister, has tried to promote a diplomatic outline that, with the blessing of Israel, Egypt and the United States, would give the Saudis a pivotal role at the fore of moderate states that can pressure Hamas, grant an Arab-Muslim stamp of legitimacy to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and work to weaken Iran’s influence.

On the issue of Jerusalem, the Segev plan calls for maintaining the status quo, “whose framework was and will remain leaving sovereignty over the holy basin in the hands of God.” The Muslim representatives of God will be Saudi Arabia (in exchange for renouncing the “right of return” for refugees), Jordan and Palestine. Saudi Arabia will fund a billion-dollar-per-year development plan for the Jerusalem area, “in order to create within 10 years the necessary infrastructure for widening the scope of tourism in Jerusalem and for hosting 25 million tourists per year, instead of the 3 million today.”

Ideas along the lines of the Segev plan will provide food for thought for the next American administration, whose attitude toward Israel is expected to be even more uncompromising than that of the Clinton administration, which forced Netanyahu to fold up the tents in Hebron at the Wye Plantation conference. Netanyahu, like Livni and Barak, will not be able to rebuff creative proposals for the division of Jerusalem. He certainly knows this. Perhaps he is mistaken in thinking that the Israeli public is too stupid to understand it.

November 2nd, 2008, 10:08 am


BillHicks' Ghost said:

Syria should sign a seperate peace deal with Israel, Open up its economy and look to the west as to help us progress on a financial and social level. We have stood with our neighbours and no one appreciated us, now they hate us. I say look to Europe and open up our borders.

November 2nd, 2008, 11:27 am


JustOneAmerican said:


I do not understand your logic. Why get into a bad deal and then have to fight another war in order to get the Golan back? That does not make sense.

Perhaps because we have different assumptions about the future. I don’t believe, for example, that a Syrian implosion is all that likely following a peace with Israel. You seem convinced that will happen, which appears to be the basis for your precondition of movement toward democracy before Israel will deal with Syria. To me that just seems like a recipe for maintaining the status quo. Considering Syrian weakness, the status quo is not so bad for Israel, and certainly many Israelis and Jews I have spoken to believe the Golan is too important to Israel’s security to give up for any price. That belief seems to mean a perpetual war with Syria. As you say, history waits for no one and has no rewind button. Israel can safely do that now since Syria is weak, but what about the future? The future is uncertain and Israel would do well to consider that it might only be setting the stage for insecurity of the Israeli state in the future.

If you agree that the Syrians are mostly responsible for Israel holding the Golan, how can you also say that the price for holding it is self inflicted?

What I mean is that Israel’s own actions have made giving up the Golan more difficult politically. It may have made it impossible to give up politically even though no one outside Israel recognizes it as de jure part of the Israeli state. One wonders if those who want to keep the Golan believe that if Israel keeps it long enough, the Arabs will eventually concede it. That seems pretty naive to me.

It’s one thing to make Syria pay a price to get the Golan back – even a high price (that seems reasonable), it’s quite another to engage in a policy that raises that price to the point where Syria is unable to pay and Israel is unwilling to sell. A cynical man might suggest that is done on purpose.

November 2nd, 2008, 12:34 pm


why-discuss said:

“Iraq, meanwhile, has sent extra police to boost security along its border with Syria after Damascus reduced its troops, an interior ministry spokesman in Baghdad said on Sunday.” reported on AP

It looks that the withdrawal of Syrian troups on the border with Iraq is finally shifting the responsibility of the border control to the Iraqis and the US occupiers. It is Iraq and Syria interest to collaborate with each other to prevent terrorists to pass weapons through the border( in both direction btw ) but as long as some in the US administration want to cover up their failures by showing strength on weaker countries and making themselves indispensable, this is not possible . It is time the Iraqi kicks the US out and deal with their neighbors.

November 2nd, 2008, 3:49 pm


AIG said:

How many times can you misrepresent my position? It seems to to me that you are doing it on purpose because you just do not have good answers.

First, you can call me a buffon all you want, but it just demostrates that you are not listening to any Syrian that does not support your opinion and have no reasoned answer. Do you remember Bashmann? How about Trustquest? I would love to hear him elaborate his position. Of course signing a peace treaty with Asad without demanding democratic reforms will hurt the democratic forces, whatever their strength in Syria just as the peace with Egypt killed democracy there. Is your argument that because the democratic forces in Syria are weak, then it is a good idea to weaken them more??? Or disregard them??? If you convey legitimacy to Asad by signing a peace treaty with him, you will basically allow him a free hand to continue jailing and prosecuting all dissidents, just like what happened with Mubarak.

Second, I support the two state solution, so you stating that I am for continuing the occupation is totally wrong. I even believe that with hindsight it would have been the best for Israel in 1967 right after the war to give back all the terrotories except East Jeruslaem unilaterally without waiting for the Arabs to wake up. Alas, it was not to be because Israel naively thought that the Arabs would neogtiate after 67 but then came the thre NOs at Khartoum. What exactly should Israel have done except do what it did? It even withstood for a rather long time the pressure of extreme groups in Israel to settle the territories. But again, 40 years is a long time and it cannot be denied that most of the cities in the West Bank are mentioned in the Bible (not that this confers rights but that this plays into the hands of the religious extremists). The Palestinians knew this and knew that it would be very difficult for a parlaimentary democracy to withstand committed pressure groups yet refused to negotiate till Oslo. The Palestinians and Israelis are both responsible for the fact that the settlers exist. It was the consequence of the decades it took the Palestinians and Arabs to realize that they need to seriously negotiate with Israel and the fact that small committed groups can influence Israeli politics.

November 2nd, 2008, 5:03 pm


AIG said:

I have given a reasoned argument why it is likely Syria will implode. You make your life easy and just say you don’t believe it will. If you want to convince, you will need to do better than that.

“One wonders if those who want to keep the Golan believe that if Israel keeps it long enough, the Arabs will eventually concede it. That seems pretty naive to me.”

Your argument is the same as the following: It is naive to believe that the Arabs will concede a Jewish state in the middle east. It was stated by many people like you over the last 60 years.

What is the difference between Jaffa and the Golan? In principle there is no difference. In 48 most Arabs believed Jaffa should not be part of the Jewish state and that the Arabs will never concede it. Now most still believe that it should not be part of the Jewish state but have conceded it.

It is quite reasonable to expect that in 60 years, the same process that Jaffa went through, the Golan will go through. It will be conceded to Israel. It is even more likely to happen in the Golan since the Jews are a clear majority there.

I hope this does not happen. I hope that much sooner Israel will give back the Golan to a democratic Syria. This is not because I believe Syria has any special right to the Golan, but because I believe it is in the interest of Israel to foster democracy in the middle east and giving back the Golan to a democratic Syria will send a very strong message that democracy pays off.

In 100 years very few people will even think it reasonable to return the Golan to Syria, just as nobody thinks it is reasonable to return Texas and California to Mexico. That is what I mean when I say that history has no rewind button. In a 100 years the Jews there would be seventh or eighth generation ones. And there will be about a million of them.

November 2nd, 2008, 5:34 pm


Shai said:


It is time you, and most other excuse-upon-excuse conjurers, learn to accept a sad but true fact – no Syrian is interested in your concerns about internal matters in Syria. In fact, most Syrians want you to leave internal matters in Syria up to them, the Syrian people. It is high time Israelis stop feeling that everyone else in the region is interested in their opinion, or in their wisdom. Let Syria become whatever it will. It is up to the Syrian people, not to you. In the meantime, we in Israel have to decide whether we want peace or not. Peace is not something you make only with leaders who think like you. In fact, most of the Western world is at peace with the other 2/3 of this earth, who are as far from democratic and free as Syria is, if not farther. If it was up to you, China should be isolated. The U.S. and Europe should stop all economic and diplomatic relations with the largest nation on earth, because it is not a free nation. Perhaps Great Britain shouldn’t have given back Hong Kong to China, after her 99 year-lease was up, until the latter became a democracy? And risked war in the meantime? So should China be isolated, AIG? Should Israel cut off all relations with non-democracy nations? Should we return our ambassadors to Cairo and Amman?

Why on earth do you think that we are killing democracy in Syria, or Egypt, by making peace with them, any more than we are killing it by NOT making peace? You said: “… by signing a peace treaty with him (Assad), you will basically allow him a free hand to continue jailing and prosecuting all dissidents…” What kind of utter BS is that? Assad needs MY free hand to do something? The peace agreement will legitimize anything he does, beyond what it is today? Who’s feeding you this nonsense? It’s almost like you’re suggesting Assad is getting weak in Syria, wants to re-establish his rule by force, and needs Israel to “give him a free hand” by returning the Golan!?!

Has any Israeli leader, from the Left to the Right, EVER said anything even remotely close to what you are suggesting? Of course not. Has any Israeli politician, from ANY party, ever said anything closely resembling your democracy-first argument? Of course not. Yet you, AIG, think you represent most Israelis in this ridiculous demand. From the effort you spend here on SC, trying to destroy any idea, any suggestion, other than your democracy-first argument, I’m beginning to wonder who you care more about – Syrians, or Israelis? If you care so much about freedom, why aren’t first demanding Israel put an end to our Occupation of Palestine? Do the Palestinians deserve freedom less than Syrians do? Providing the latter freedom is practically impossible for us to do. But doing so to the first is very much in our hands. Why aren’t you fighting for Palestinian freedom, half as much as for Syrians’?

Besides one or two commentators here on SC, who else has ever told you that they believe Israel should not make peace with Syria now? And if you come here, and the people in this blog actually allow you to speak your mind, and then engage you time and again, and tell you that it is not your place to worry about their internal matters, why are you holier than them? They are all telling you to make peace with Syria NOW, with Bashar Assad’s regime NOW, not to wait for democracy. And yet, you dismiss the overwhelming majority opinion here, and you cling on to one or two others. How do you explain that? The majority here are free to voice their opinion. They live in democratic nations, and no one will arrest them for voicing their beliefs. And yet you ignore them, because their views don’t fit yours? Aren’t you always for supporting the majority? Or is that only the case when it comes to Israel? 🙂

I want you to come up with one example, just one (not two, or three, or four, just one) where any Israeli PM, or politician, or anyone else, thinks like you – that we should wait until Syria becomes a democracy. One example, AIG, show us one person in Israel that supports you.

November 2nd, 2008, 6:40 pm


AIG said:


Here you go again distorting my views.

Let’s begin with this gem:
“In fact, most Syrians want you to leave internal matters in Syria up to them, the Syrian people.”

I totally agree, the problem is that internal matters are decided now by a small minority that oppresses the majority. This is EXACTLY what I am arguing for in Syria. But of course this is not what you meant. You meant that we should not care if currently the Syrian people have no voice. There is a huge contradiction in what you are saying. On the one hand you ask me to respect what the Syrian people say, but in fact it means you want me to respect what a small minority decides for the Syrians. More important though is that modern history has shown that in order to democratize countries almost always need a lot of outside help. A lot.

Let me repeat for the millionth time. I am for doing what is in Israel’s best interest. I am personally sad that China is not a democracy by I understand that Israeli interests require that we trade and befriend it. In the case of Syria my argument is that it is not in Israel’s interests to befriend the oppressive Asad regime. I have clearly explained my reasons why. Every case needs to stand by itself based on Israel’s interests.

Of course Asad needs the peace agreement long term to survive. Let me be more accurate. Asad needs good relations with the US long term to survive in power. The sanctions and isolation are really hurting Syria and they need to find a way to get rid of them. The main reason Sadat went for peace was to gain US money and support in order to stabilize his regime. Of course a peace treaty that is not conditional on democratization in Syria will let Asad stay in power longer and continue his oppression. The economic pressures will lessen immensely, allowing him to buy more years of oppression just like what happened in Egypt. The examples are all around you. The more money and the more economically secure dictators are, the more they clamp down on democracy. (Iran, Russia, Venezuela)

I have never said that many Israelis support my position. That is just another distortion of yours. I have said that unlike you, most Israelis demand a STRONG TANGIBLE BENEFIT for leaving the Golan. You have not been able to articulate this benefit. Your view is that in principle Israel should give the Golan back. That is not how 99% of people see it. They see the Goaln as a valuable asset that should be traded for some tangible long term benefits to Israel.

Most Israelis do not care about democracy in other countries. I do. I think the main problem with US foreign policy is its contradictions when it comes to supporting democracy. For all the many benefits to Israel, the peace agreement with Egypt royally screwed the average Egyptian by consolidating the dictators there. I think long term this will hurt Israel. With Syria we have an opportunity to make peace and further democracy. Let’s do it right. Why repeat the mistakes of the past?

November 2nd, 2008, 8:01 pm


AIG said:


You also ask:

“If you care so much about freedom, why aren’t first demanding Israel put an end to our Occupation of Palestine? Do the Palestinians deserve freedom less than Syrians do? Providing the latter freedom is practically impossible for us to do. But doing so to the first is very much in our hands. Why aren’t you fighting for Palestinian freedom, half as much as for Syrians’?”

Let me answer once again so you won’t continue distorting my views. I primarily care about Israeli intrests and to a lesser extent about my convictions about freedom and democracy. I am sad that the Palestinians do not have freedoms and I would be the first in line to support any solution that would give them these freedoms without compromising Israeli interests. That is why I support the two state solution and wish we could get there quickly.

November 2nd, 2008, 8:07 pm


Shai said:


Your convictions could sit well, in a vacuum perhaps. But while waiting for Syria to become a democracy, much pain and suffering would come upon your people. An unstable Middle East could erupt further, not only remain more or less like it is today for Israelis (while millions of others are suffering). How many more dead Israelis and Palestinians and Lebanese do you need to see, before you get your head out of the moral sandbox you’ve stuck it in?

You have yet to answer my last paragraph. Give us one example of someone in Israel who thinks like you, anyone, about democracy as a precondition to peace with Syria. Don’t confuse with “tangible” returns – of course a peace agreement would also give not only take. But what about your democracy as precondition – who else supports it???

November 2nd, 2008, 8:24 pm


AIG said:


What vacuum? We are discussing what is in the best long term interst of Israel. People may die if we do not pursue peace with Asad but perhaps MORE people will die if we do. That is what happened with Oslo. My argument is not primarily based on morality. Really, how many times do I need to repeat it until you stop distorting my views. My argument is primarily based on what is best for Israel.

I have never argued otherwise so I will be happy to concede that very few people in Israel hold my position about democracy in Syria. That is a pity and a source of contradictions in the US and Israeli foreign policies that generates mistrust in the Arab world. One supporter for my view is Scharansky but I do not think there are many more. I certainly need to convince more people.

But most people in Israel require a STRONG TANGIBLE BENEFIT from the peace process. Well, Shai, what is it? What is the concrete benefit to Israel of returning the Golan? Are you able to articulate it? Why don’t you try?

November 2nd, 2008, 8:56 pm


Off the Wall said:

Earth Sciences.

I very much agree with you on receiving detailed review from prominent colleagues. Although all reviews are anonymous, the rare reviewers with agenda can be very transparent. Their first criticism most of the time is “you havn’t cited my work”. This is repeated so many times in the review to the point that by the end you can narrow down who the reviewer is by finding the common name among those papers you have committed the sin of not citing. I am always amused by these reviews. But very fortunately, ther are very rare. I find the majority of reviews to be very insightful, especially for controvercial papers. I have leared a lot from responding to these reviews.

On the other hand, based on what I am reading herein, I believe that is we have open communications, initially, the average syrian is likely to encounter a wide spectrum of beliefs in Israel, ranging from those similar to AIG all the way to Shai’s and Rumyal’s. This is why I value AIG and AP contributions. The more I read their arguments, the more I am forced to consider any holes, real, precieved, or artifical in my own argument. Similarly, the average Israeli is more likely to enoucnter a range of Syrians from those who will never compromize on the issue of recognition to those who are ready to normalize relationship under peacful conditions.

November 2nd, 2008, 9:41 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Rumyal
I also find another value in AIG’s comment, I like reading the the responses to his point of view from many on this site including myself occasionally. I learned a lot from these responses about Israel, Syria, and about Syrian expats, who make me more proud by the day.

November 2nd, 2008, 9:55 pm


SimoHurtta said:

AIG what if Syria becomes a democracy and on the same time corporal Lieberman and his numerous fellows make a “religious revolution” in Israel and Israel becomes a dictatorship and even more a Taleban county as it is now? Should Syria make in those circumstances peace?

Making “absurd” demands to Syria with their regime style is simply poor propaganda and a clear delay tactic with peace. Surely Syria should be more democratic and have better human rights records but so should Israel (even more because it calls itself a democracy).

If democracy in Syria is really your “goal”, which I seriously doubt, with all probability peace with Syria and a Palestine settlement would advance best the transformation towards democracy in the region.

The problem AIG is that people who share your ideology do not want that to happen because it would mean an end to a “pure” Jewish Reich. Also increased democracy in Middle East would make the contradictions with Israel’s strange “democracy” much more visible as they are now. Militant Zionism needs dictatorships around it and enemies.

November 2nd, 2008, 11:21 pm


Shai said:


You said: “What is the concrete benefit to Israel of returning the Golan? Are you able to articulate it? Why don’t you try?”

Hmmm… let’s see. How about:

1. End to state of war between Syria and Israel.
2. End to Iranian weapon and system transshipments through Syria.
3. End to Syrian military support of Hezbollah.
4. Official acceptance by Syria of its 400,000 Palestinian refugees as full Syrian citizens.
5. Beginning of diplomatic relations with Syria.
6. Beginning of economic relations with Syria.
7. Beginning of cultural relations with Syria.
8. Beginning of Syrian assistance in helping resolve Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Let’s start with these. I think they are tangible enough. I am not, god-forbid, mentioning actual peace between our people, where Israelis can visit Souq Hamidieh, and Syrians Shuk Ha’Carmel. That would be too much of a dream. So let’s stick to “tangible” things.

November 3rd, 2008, 4:29 am


AIG said:

From your list only 2 and 3 are real benefits but unfortunately they require a flip from Syria. If not through Syria, how are Hizballah going to get their weapons? The main benefit of Syria for Iran is the route to Lebanon. In essence you are asking for a flip.

In addition, I don’t view 2 and 3 as tangible enough because they cannot be monitored. Who is to stop Syria continuing to channel weapons to Hizballah through organizations it claims it has no control over, just as they are doing now? There is nothing the UN or anybody else can do to stop them. Hence, the benefit is not tangible.

Furthermore, I believe that Hizballah will not use its weapons against Israel because of the high price Lebanon will have to pay. So basically, as I see it, Israel is not getting any benefit.

Let me summarize why the rest of the benefits are non-tangible:
1. End to state of war between Syria and Israel.
There is no war with Syria since 1973 and the Syrians are too scared to start one.
2. End to Iranian weapon and system transshipments through Syria.
See above.
3. End to Syrian military support of Hezbollah.
See above
4. Official acceptance by Syria of its 400,000 Palestinian refugees as full Syrian citizens.
The Paletinians are in Syria. Why do we need “official acceptance”? And in any case the Palestinians will not give up what they think is their right to return to Israel, so this is meaningless.
5. Beginning of diplomatic relations with Syria.
Why do we need this? It is just waste of money. The Syrians had no diplomatic relations with Lebanon until recently and they were fine.
6. Beginning of economic relations with Syria.
Israel can already sell to Syria through the Gulf States and in any case Israel has very little it can export to the low-tech Syrian market.
7. Beginning of cultural relations with Syria.
Nice to have, but not very important at all.
8. Beginning of Syrian assistance in helping resolve Israeli-Palestinian issues
You didn’t mention that Hamas will still stay in Damascus but you also are not taking into account the fact that the Syrians will not sign a peace treaty unless there is also a solution to the Palestinian problem. What Alex calls a “comprehensive” solution. So after peace with Syria there will not be any Palestinian issue to help with. Furthermore, it is not clear at all that the Syrians can help with the Palestinian issue. Until now they have been quite instrumental in sustaining the civil war between Fatah and Hamas.

Bottom line, Israel is getting a bad deal. I don’t think you will be able to convince many Israelis, but keep trying.

November 3rd, 2008, 5:12 am


Shai said:


I really don’t understand what kind of peace you’re looking for. And after Israel withdraws from the West Bank, and the Palestinians have their own state, will you be for making peace with Syria yet? Also not. You’d rather remain in this state of war-no-war, while extremism grows, while groups like Hezbollah, and Hamas, and Al Qaida, determine the fate of our region, and the Arab world and Israel stand by helpless – why – because you won’t have them join hands and make peace, not until all their leaders are elected democratically. Can non-democracies not work together? Of course they can.

But we will never have peace, until Israel withdraws to the 1967 lines. You know that. Don’t pretend we can get the Arab world to accept the Golan and the West Bank and Jerusalem like it accepted Jaffa and Haifa. The entire Arab world came together three times since 2002, and jointly signed the Arab Initiative, which is essentially the “3 Yes’s”, offering Israel a way to have peace. And what are we doing since then? Finding excuse after excuse to reject it. What’s our excuse? Terrorism, Axis-of-Evil, America won’t like it. How will history judge these excuses? How will our kids judge us, for furthering their misery and despair, because we couldn’t make courageous decisions, and left it to them? God-forbid one of your children dies in war, and your other child asks you why you didn’t support peace with Syria. What will you tell her – that you were afraid that by making peace, MORE children would die?

November 3rd, 2008, 5:42 am


AIG said:

What you fail to understand is that without democracy, extremism will continue growing. Just as it did in Egypt, which is where the Muslim Brotherhood were born. It is not Israel that is fueling extremism. Has peace stopped extremism in Egypt? It is the lack of development and hope in the Arab world that comes from lack of democracy. As for Hamas, it is Asad who is hosting and funding them. Is he a force against extremism? Really. What about Hizballah? Again Asad is complicit. You really believe he is a partner to stop extremism in the middle east? The guy just throws fuel on the fire.

And really, what is the difference between Jaffa and the Golan? You seem to think there is a difference. What is it except that one was taken in 48 and the other in 67?

November 3rd, 2008, 5:59 am


Jad said:

You have democracy, you claim that your are a developed country, you also claim that you are treating Palestinians in “great’ and “equal’ way, at the same time you have extremism, you have settlers, you have criminals, you have corruption, you have sex scandals, you even have neonazies for god sake, you have everything bad that other countries in the world have. Sometimes democratic elections bring those to power as it will happen in your next election so don’t ask us to build a platonic country when yours is similar if not even worth in many aspects than ours..
your endless story of peace is like ordering your “not sure” pregnant wife to have a genius, beautiful, not crying, not peeing, baby boy or you are not going to give the baby girl your family name…well I can tell you that if your wife is really pregnant you will get a child that we all don’t know if he is going to be a genius baby boy but we all know that he is going to be a HUMAN, deal with it or wear protection and you wont have baby at all and live happy abusing your wife from now till she burns the house…

November 3rd, 2008, 6:34 am


Shai said:


I refuse to view peace as “throwing fuel on fire”, and I cannot understand anyone that thinks that way. I don’t think Assad is some love-dove that suddenly woke up one morning and said “Gee, if only life could be more beautiful…”, and then sent a quick telegram to Olmert, “let’s make peace”. Assad, and Syria, has come to a strategic decision, that it is in their best interest to reacquire the Golan by peaceful means, through agreement with Israel. It has, over the past 4-5 years and through every possible channel and media, tried to communicate this to Israel. If it wasn’t for George W. Bush, and his influence in Jerusalem over the past 8 years, we might have already signed a peace agreement.

But even Syria doesn’t live in a vacuum. And if you or I were Syrian, let alone if we were Syria’s leader, we would refuse to give up our dream to get back what’s rightfully and lawfully ours. And if our “partner” refuses to negotiate a peaceful agreement, then we’ll force it to negotiate a less-than-peaceful one, using a whole slew of pressure means. Syria will of course cease from supporting Hezbollah militarily, because it will finally have something to lose.

I hope you are not suggesting that Israel is not contributing to the rise in extremism in our region. I don’t know what our share of the contribution is, if it’s 5%, 50%, or 95%, but clearly Israel, in how it behaves over the past 60 years (but in particular since 1967) adds as much fuel to this fire as any nation or a people can. Do I expect extremism to vanish the day we make peace in this region? Of course not. But I do know that as long as we continue to come up with one excuse after another, year after year, decade after decade, why we cannot or should not leave the territories we are occupying since 1967, then my children will grow up in a far more dangerous Middle East than otherwise.

I don’t know if your children will serve in an army here, or if they’ll board buses that might blow up, or if they’ll have the potential for thousands of missiles to rain down over their heads. But mine will. And so will the children of most of the 7 million citizens of the State of Israel. And more of them will die, year after year, funeral after funeral, until we have peace. If we continue to leave our decisions to our children, we are mortgaging their lives too, not only ours. How long will we continue to do that?

November 3rd, 2008, 7:01 am


Rumyal said:


You are following things more closely then I do but everything I hear points to the peace deal between Israel and Syria being at least somewhat a “regional”/”comprehensive” one.

1. Golan for non-belligerence/”cold-peace” is a no-sell for the Israeli public.
2. Golan for full peace is a no-sell for Syria since it betrays the Palestinians and the pan-Arabism cause.
3. A final agreement involving both the Palestinians and the Syrians, as you note, is impossible with the current state of affairs on the Syrian side.

Thus I think that if any deal has any chance, it will be somewhere in between 2 and 3. i.e., a deal that will not completely solve the Palestinian issue, but will set milestones and parameters for future resolution. For example, perhaps Israel will take declarative responsibility for the refugees issue, without actually solving it.

November 3rd, 2008, 8:07 am


Rumyal said:


>> Shai: 7. Beginning of cultural relations with Syria.
>> AIG: Nice to have, but not very important at all.

Speak for yourself please. It speaks volumes about you.

November 3rd, 2008, 8:19 am


Shai said:


I believe that in reality, a peace agreement will be signed with Syria both before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over, and without full peace. While it was certainly more urgent to solve the Palestinian issue, Israel eventually agreed to switch to the Syrian track, because it is simply impossible right now to make progress with the former. When Fatah and Hamas reach an agreement, and there’s once more a true representative government for the Palestinian people, and if both that government, and the Israeli government are willing to talk, then we can make progress once again.

I also believe, however, that the leaderships of both Israel and Syria, have an uphill battle to fight, in “marketing” the agreement to their people, each of which will feel betrayed to a certain degree. If we had courageous leaders, they could explain this well. If not, they will be labeled “traitors”, much like Begin and Sadat were. If Bibi wins, there is a good chance he’ll get back on the Syrian track, but also try to depict a settlement as having some comprehensive look and feel to it. His public will need quite a bit more, given that Syria is not about to quit Iran. If Livni wins, she’ll barely form a coalition government, if at all, and we’ll likely remain in political stagnation for another few years, while Hezbollah and Hamas dictate the reality on the ground…

November 3rd, 2008, 9:10 am


AIG said:

Lovely platitudes. So much “feel good” rhetoric. But peace with a dictator is not peace. We would be doing exactly the opposite of what you want. We would be betting our future on the long term stability of Syria. That is a very bad bet as I explained before. I am willing to take chances for peace, but not jump head first like you into an empty pool hoping that things will be well. We made the same mistake with Oslo, took chances on Arafat and everyone paid a heavy price. You want to repeat the same mistake again with Asad. The Israeli public is not that stupid. Your way will just lead us to another war of attrition if not worse and the loss of the Golan. Israel will gain nothing.

How can you say that since 67 Israel has been contributing to extremism more than earlier? When was the Palestinian refugee problem created? Yes, in 48. All the rest is secondary to that and the fact that there is a Jewish state.

And you still haven’t answered my question: Since the Arabs have conceded Jaffa why is it not just as likely that they will concede the Golan in another 50 years?

Get real. Let’s say the Syrians would agree to establish only cultural ties with Israel but that Israel would have to pay for this honor. They demand $100 million dollars. Would the majority of Israelis be willing to spend that much for the pleasure of seeing Syrian dancers or antisemitic Ramadan series perform in Israel? How about $10 million? $1 million? You see, cultural ties are really nice, but when you take the emotions out of the considerations, they are not that important. It is certainly not worth giving back the Golan and wrecking the lives of tens of thousands of Israelis living there.

You miss the point. Of course Israel is a normal country and we have our fair share of everything. But we also have free speech and democracy and a system that through self-criticism repairs itself. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it is way better then the systems of the Arab countries as comparison of the development over the last 60 years shows.

November 3rd, 2008, 3:32 pm


Jad said:

I think you intentionally miss my point,
Your argument that you want Syria to become perfect before thinking of peace is exactly what I wrote. You want your future bride to promise you to have the perfect baby boy before you get married…again, IT WONT HAPPEN!!
You are not going to convince anybody here about your theory regardless how good your intensions are, it doesn’t work this way. My advice, DROP IT! And lower your expectation if you really want to see peace.

November 3rd, 2008, 5:27 pm


Rumyal said:


>> Get real…

You’re so depressing… If getting real means sharing the world with you I’d rather keep on dreaming of a better world…

Perhaps you’re not noticing but the ghetto and living-within-barbed-wires effect is suffocating the Israeli society and is driving violence and aggression into every corner of it. Do not expect Israel to produce another Spinoza or Einstein in this climate. Expect the continual decline in the ranking of Israel in all educational indices. These effects slowly but surely drain every bit of talent out of Israel because normal people simply can’t live like that. Cultural ties will do immensely to reverse this psychological condition, with low cost. I’m happy to spend out of my pocket to further cultural ties and co-existence (I do) and I’m sure many millions around the globe will do the same. It’s also less expensive than you think.

As for the Golan settlers, there are many there who support peace in Syria and have all the time worked with the assumption that they will need to move on if and when a peace treaty is signed. Both those who accept and object relocating will be compensated handsomely and will be able to restart their lives somewhere else. The long time dimension that will be built into the agreement (some say 15 years) will give people ample time to plan and reduce the impact to their lives.

Finally, there is an option that I like but I know nobody else does: for those few folks in the Golan for whom living in the Golan in the homes they have built is more important than living in Israel, I propose they will be allowed to stay there and keep their businesses and homes as long as the land they are sitting on is state land and not private land. Then it would be considered as if the Israeli government has leased them the land on behalf of the Syrian government. Israel may need to compensate Syria for the taxes it has levied for the land over the years etc. Demonstrating that *peace loving* Jews can once again live as residents in an Arab country will be a huge breakthrough. (Of course the same is not possible with the ill-intentioned settlers in the West Bank). The rules that will apply to these residents will be similar to any foreign investor who’d like to work, invest and live in Syria.

November 3rd, 2008, 5:47 pm


jad said:

Actually, I like your idea of letting the Golan settlers to stay in their homes and business and give them the Syrian citizenship (I’m laughing now) but do you think anyone of them will accept the idea? Does anybody suggest that before in Israel?

November 3rd, 2008, 6:20 pm


AIG said:


My expectations are very low. So low, that my argument is that there is no tangible benefit for Israel if it signs a peace agreement with Asad. A non-democratic Syria which is not serious about reforms, will implode in the next 10-20 years and Israel would end up with a mess and without the Golan.

Think of it this way. The Golan is worth at least $30 billion dollars to Israel. So in a peace deal we would be giving up that amount of money in exchange from some future return, also known as the peace dividend. However, check it out yourself, the credit rating of Syria now is such, that it in fact considered bankrupt. So, you want us to “lend” to a bankrupt Syria $30 billion? That would be crazy. At the very least we should demand to see a plan how Syria restructures and makes sure it does not implode. This is just common sense.

November 3rd, 2008, 6:41 pm


Shai said:


I don’t recall when exactly you joined SC, but a while back, Alon Liel introduced an idea, not far from yours, that was rather shocking to most of us when we first heard it. Those residents on the Golan, who own businesses they wish to keep, will actually be able to keep them, on an area approximately 1/3 of the Golan, allocated to something called a “Park”. This will be Syrian territory of course, but any Israeli will be able to keep and operate his/her business there. No people will live on this Park (aside from caretakers, police force, etc.) but it will enable many to keep coming to work every day, and not to give up at least on businesses they may have started and nurtured over 30 years ago. Your idea is quite close to this. And you know what the BEST part of this is? That it was SYRIA that brought up this idea!!! It wasn’t even Israel. Now of course we don’t know if the Park idea will ever happen. But Syria has and is demonstrating an unbelievable amount of flexibility and readiness to accommodate, in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily expect of an enemy. We must give Syria credit for this. I, at least, was very impressed when I heard it. Also the deal about withdrawal over 15 years, instead of 5-15.

November 3rd, 2008, 6:48 pm


AIG said:

The current financial crisis was caused by people thinking like you who only looked at the rosy side of things. Let’s get a zero down mortgage we can barely afford! Why not? Houses will keep going up anyway!

Israelis leaving in a ghetto? I totally disagree. Israelis are firmly integrated in the world and it economies. Israelis have one of the highest internet connectivity statistics in the world. A very high translated book count relative to most other countries. If you really check the fact, it is the Arabs that are living in a ghetto.

The Golan is a critical piece of real estate with many ramifications for Israel. We should do a thorough analysis before giving it up. Just saying that everything will be fine does not cut it. Cultural ties, do not cut it. Only a hard headed cost benefit analysis will do. We shouldn’t be ideologes and we shouldn’t be unbridaled optimists. We should be pragmatists. My analysis shows that peace with Asad is very bad deal. And I am sure most Israelis will reach the same conclusion once they think it through. I haven’t seen any argument from you that would convince them otherwise.

November 3rd, 2008, 6:53 pm


Jad said:

I understand what you are saying but it doesn’t mean that it is the only choice you’ve got.
We have to compromise to get a good deal that we both agree with and stand as long as possible, but we have to have the will of peace and not rising the bar too high that we end up with nothing and stay in this limbo till one of us just explode and repeat Samson story all over again.
NOW, you have this situation and this entire bad and good element on the table, TOMORROW, nobodies knows what we are going to have on the same table we are refusing today.
I’d rather work with what I have and be reasonable than wishing for a better tomorrow that may never comes.

November 3rd, 2008, 6:55 pm


Shai said:


Your argument about implosion, and the example of Oslo is ridiculous. We are talking about making peace with another nation, not with some barely-existing Palestinian entity, whose parts are greater than its sum. We gave back the Sinai almost 30 years ago, and I think one or two Egyptian bullets have ever crossed the border since then (some crazy soldier shot at some tourists in Eilat a while back). No Egyptian implosion, no after-Oslo effects. It is true that smuggling of arms through tunnels into Gaza is taking place. The Egyptian security services are doing a fair bit to stop it (according to Israeli accounts), but obviously are not fully successful. But the funny thing is, that the most quiet border has always been the Syrian one! No arms smuggling, barely any drug smuggling (if at all), no shots fired, no surprise attacks. So when we give this territory back, gradually over 15 years, you expect this to change? For the worse? Why? Based on what example? Oslo is not a good example here. And certainly withdrawing from Lebanon in 2000 is also not a good example, because we won’t withdraw from the Golan unilaterally, but rather through an agreement. I fail to see the logic of any of your arguments. They are based on examples that are irrelevant in this case. If you’d have said, like Yossi Beilin did for instance, that we shouldn’t withdraw from Gaza unilaterally, and based this on Oslo, or on Lebanon 2000, then you’d be right. But we’re talking about giving back the Golan to Syria, like we gave back the Sinai to Egypt.

By the way, if we hadn’t given back the Sinai to Egypt (something obviously you would have done, like Olmert back then), how many Israelis do you think would have died since then? What would the Arab world look like today? How many wars would we have fought with Egypt? Do any of these questions matter, when we consider Syria? I think we’d better have answers to some of these questions, before we so definitively decide peace is MORE dangerous than non-peace.

November 3rd, 2008, 7:01 pm


Rumyal said:


I really don’t want to spend a lot of time arguing with you, that’s not what I’m here for. So really briefly.

I doubt it that you have ever lived in Israel for an extended period. Everybody who lives in Israel knows exactly what it means to be fenced-in and the ability to go to Turkey or connect over the Internet are just over-compensations for the abnormality of our situation.

People like me are responsible for the financial crisis. Fine. That is so horrible in your penny pinching world. People like you are responsible for far worse.

November 3rd, 2008, 8:43 pm


Friend in America said:

Any comments on this?

India Stops Suspicious North Korean Flight

Indian officials quietly prevented a North Korean aircraft from flying to Iran in August, possibly stopping a WMD or missile shipment, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday (see GSN, March 4).

The decision to deny Indian airspace to a North Korean cargo aircraft was coordinated through the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, according to officials familiar with the incident. The program aims to stop WMD smuggling, although most publicized exercises have involved seaborne cargo.

The Aug. 7 incident involved an airplane, operated by North Korea’s state airline, which had stopped in Myanmar and had requested to fly through Indian airspace to Iran, a Western official said.

The official did not identify the suspected cargo, but offered, “North Korea has been supplying missiles to Iran and Syria for some time.”

After initially granting the airspace permission, Indian officials reversed course and the flight was not completed, the Journal reported (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1).

November 3rd, 2008, 9:41 pm


AIG said:

As usual, you keep your blinders on, ignore the data and let yourself be convinced by nonsense.
Of course Oslo is a valid example. It shows what can happen if a peace process is not thought out and is jumped into without taking into account the details and possible future scenarios.

Since 1978 Egypt’s population has doubled from 40 million to 80 million. Syria’s population grew from 9 million in 1980 to more than 19 million today. What we did in 78 is not relevant now. Economic growth has lagged considerably and though unreported, the unemployment among the 50% of the population who are under 25 is huge. In recent years they have also become more religious. Something has got to give. The economic and population stresses are much more serious than those of 30 years ago. Syria will need to reform significantly or it will implode. It may take 5, 10 or 20 years, but it is sure to happen.

The whole Syrian government budget is about $15 billion dollars. After you take out the salaries of government employees and the defense budget, nothing much remains. Currently Syria is practically investing zero in its future. By 2015 there will be 24 million Syrians, another 5 million (almost the population of Israel) in 6 years! Even if you put 50 kids per classroom, for an additional 2.5 million students (as the 5 million need schoolong others graduate) you need 50,000 more classrooms! And that is only in the next 6 years. Can you imagine having to build over a 6 year perios infrastructure to support something the size of the whole Israeli population??? Can you imagine how many jobs Syria will need to create??? 40-50% of Syrians are still farmers. But their plots are getting smaller and smaller and the amount of water they have is going down constantly. China was able to get some of its people out of poverty with the one child policy. Syria on the other hand still has the one of the highest fertilty rates in the world.

If Israel does not make sure as part of the peace process that the life of the average Syrian will improve in the future, giving back the Golan to Asad is a waste. At most it will buy a few years of basically what we have now before it all blows up in our face. The Islamic storm will have to pass through the middle east before there is any real chance for peace. It will be much simpler for Israel to weather it with the Golan than without it. And when the Islamists are finally out of favor, and the Arab countries are on a sure track of economic reform, then we should pursue peace agressively.

November 4th, 2008, 12:18 am


AIG said:

I am quite sure that I have been living in Israel longer than you. On the peace issues you are willing to be overly optimistic and take chances, but about Israel you are pessimistic and believe Israelis are living in some kind of funk and feel fenced. Undoutedly some do, but most of my fellow countrymen are quite happy and connected with the world. You have probably surrounded yourself too much with liberals specializing in shooting and crying.

November 4th, 2008, 12:25 am


Syria Comment » Archives » Bush’s Final Violent Outburst Causes Exasperation said:

[…] Comment:] Yoav Stern makes a sweeping statement about Jihad Makdissi’s short note published on Syria Comment. In fairness to Makdissi, he did not write that Syria rejects the Saudi […]

November 4th, 2008, 4:10 am


Rumyal said:

Another Israeli Guy (or so the name says),

>>> I am quite sure that I have been living in Israel longer than you.

I find that, how should I put this… unsubstantiated. Care to tell us when, where, for how long? Maybe share with us why you left your flourishing and trouble-free country?

>>> On the peace issues you are willing to be overly optimistic and take chances, but about Israel you are pessimistic and believe Israelis are living in some kind of funk and feel fenced.

Of course, because the two are totally linked together. Do you deny the following:

1. Corruption and cynicism swept the entire political system.
2. Unprecedented family violence incidents getting more horrific by the day.
3. Murder, stabbing, hit-and-run incidents reported daily.
4. Children living with post-traumatic syndromes in the north and south.
5. Soldiers forced to treat human beings as garbage in the territories.

We used to proud ourselves of the great solidarity that we have within our society, that we can let children roam without any worries. Now we can’t even trust parents to not molest their own kids. I live in a metropolitan area the size of half-of-Israel more of less. It used to be the case, about 10 years ago, that I would listen to the news here in bewilderment, reporting about violent cases. I cannot say anymore that Israel is any better. It has become worse. What has caused the change? Can you really say with a straight face that this is nothing to be down about, and that it has nothing to do with the realities of Israel vis-a-vis its neighbors? If it’s not related to a feeling of siege, then why have all these phenomenon surged so much exactly coinciding with the second intifada, the Qasams and the Lebanon war?

My kids spent their summer vacation of 2006 with their grandmother in the shelter, before they fled to the center of Israel. There they feared that Hizballah is going to use longer range missiles. I suppose that if your family were in the north at that time you would all just keep high spirits and wouldn’t mind at all. It’s possible. Maybe you’re a descendant of the Spartans and relish such a condition. Maybe your friends are Spartans too. On the other hand maybe they are non-existent. Or maybe they are smartalecks that show their bravery from NJ.

>>> You have probably surrounded yourself too much with liberals specializing in shooting and crying

I assume you’d find no fault in shooting, only in crying.

Have a good life in your bunker.

November 4th, 2008, 5:22 am


Shai said:


” The Islamic storm will have to pass through the middle east before there is any real chance for peace. It will be much simpler for Israel to weather it with the Golan than without it.”

If we wait too long, your “Islamic storm” might have to pass also through your friends’ and relatives’ houses in Israel, not only through selected Arab ones. Continuing to hold on to the Golan, may lead Israel into a new, horrific regional war, and one which I’m not sure you or your children will be here to fight.

You know what differentiates you from “us”? You believe in inevitabilities, in some fate you’ve concocted based on some amateur “analysis” of very selected bits of recent history. You are, for all practical purposes, claiming hold on some omniscience. Have you a record of omniscience? Has Israel? You not only know that an “Islamic storm” will pass through the entire Middle East, you place it as precondition to democracy, a further precondition to peace. With each day that passes, you create new preconditions, but ones you KNOW will happen. Have you not the slightest humility to consider you may be wrong? What if no such “storm” passes through Syria? What if your great “analysis” is wrong? What if just like with Egypt since 1979, no bullets will cross the Syrian border, also after we make peace and return the Golan? What if Syria has, in 10 years from now, a bloodless-revolution, with the current regime peacefully stepping down (under pressure by the people), and democratic elections are held for the first time? This has happened before, in nations from Latin America, to Eastern Europe, to Asia. What if Syria is no different?

But, if you ARE wrong, isn’t holding on to the Golan even more dangerous than you are imagining? What if, by rejecting all the peaceful overtures Syria is making, Israel is forcing Syria into a corner, from which there is only one way to get out – war? And what if in that war, no tanks will roll off the hills of the Golan, but instead, thousands upon thousands of missiles will land atop Israel houses, in all our cities, towns, and villages? And what if the next war is fought not only between Israel and Syria, but between Israel and Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas? Should Israel pay this price, for fearing peace with Syria might be MORE painful?????? Or is this another case of your omniscience, where you KNOW that such a war cannot take place, because it “doesn’t make sense…”, and therefore it WON’T take place. I don’t know if it will or not, but I do know that if it will, Israel will pay a far heavier price than ever before, because the battleground is no longer on some distant hill or sand dune, fought between one tank and another. It is now on our cities, on our houses (ask Rumyal, his house in Haifa might have gotten hit in 2006, or perhaps that of his relatives or friends’).

One of the possible explanations Robert McNamara gave for why all the Chiefs of Staff, Admirals, Heads of Intelligence, National Security advisers, on JFK’s EXCOM recommended unanimously to attack Cuba in those days of October, 1962, is an innate belief in the inevitable clash that will take place between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. They truly believed this was bound to happen, and if so, better it happen now, while the U.S. has the advantage, than later, when it might not. So in their minds, approving something that may in an instant turn into all-out nuclear war with their greatest rival, was not an irresponsible gamble, but rather a VERY responsible act, designed to DEFEND the U.S.’s interests, by forcing a terrible clash now, rather than later. I detect great similarity between this way of thinking, and yours. Perhaps you are not sharing these inner thoughts with us, but perhaps you would prefer to see a clash, even a devastating one, between Israel and her neighbors once more, before they achieve greater power (nuclear?) and pose a real, not perceived, existential threat to Israel.

Is this what all this is about? You don’t believe in peace serving Israel’s interests today, but you do believe in war doing so?

November 4th, 2008, 5:33 am


Syria Comment » Archives » Yoav Stern discusses his coverage of Syrian affairs said:

[…] good example is the story about Jihad Makdissi and his letter to […]

November 9th, 2008, 12:07 am


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