‘Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East’ by Robin Wright

'Dreams and Shadows' By ROBIN WRIGHT
Reviewed by PATRICK COCKBURN in New York Times Sunday Book Review

  Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East by Robin Wright

….Robin Wright argues that there is “a budding culture of change” in the Middle East — and she sets out to document it in this fluent and intelligent book about the future of the region….

She writes, “Islamic extremism is no longer the most important, interesting or dynamic force in the Middle East.”…

It would be good if this were true, but in general the stories Wright relates of brave reformers battling for human and civil rights show them as having had depressingly small influence. She claims there is “a budding culture of change” represented by “defiant judges in Cairo, rebel clerics in Tehran, satellite television station owners in Dubai, imaginative feminists in Rabat and the first female candidates in Kuwait, young techies in Jeddah, daring journalists in Beirut and Casablanca, and brave writers and businessmen in Damascus.” Sadly, her own research largely contradicts this thesis. Of the many opponents of the status quo she writes about, the only ones to have achieved a measure of success are religious movements: Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank and Hezbollah in Lebanon. She does not cover Pakistan, but the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi in December shows that suicide bombers retain their deadly ability to shape events.

Why have moderate reformers failed so uniformly across the Middle East? Not because of lack of courage. Wright describes how in Syria, Riad al Turk, first arrested for opposing a military government in 1952, spent almost 18 years in solitary confinement in an underground cell the length of his body. He kept himself sane by making pictures on the floor out of thousands of hard and inedible grains he had taken out of the prison soup during his years of confinement. Wright also writes of heroes and heroines in a more minor, but still impressive, key, like Noha al Zeiny, a leading official in the prosecutor’s office of the Egyptian Ministry of Justice, who was so disgusted by blatant official ballot rigging in an election she was supervising that she publicly denounced it in one of the few Cairo newspapers that dared to print her testimony.

Autocratic regimes in the Middle East may be sclerotic, corrupt and detested by their own people, but they are very difficult to remove. Governments in Egypt, Syria and Libya that came to power by military coups in the distant past have learned how to protect themselves against their own armies and security forces. In each of those countries the Mubarak, Assad and Qaddafi families are establishing new political dynasties. President Hosni Mubarak, jokingly known to Egyptians as the last pharaoh, has, according to Wright, now held power longer than all but two other leaders in Egypt’s 6,000-year history, and is grooming his son Gamal to replace him. Political reforms have been purely cosmetic. Osama Harb, the editor of a moderate foreign policy journal, International Affairs, denounced Egypt’s supposed reform efforts as a sham but found he could not withdraw from the government’s inner circle without endangering himself. “It should be easy to resign, to say no,” he observed. “But not here. This is Egypt.”

Just one long-established regime in the Arab world has been kicked out by voters in a closely monitored election. It happened on Jan. 25, 2006, when Hamas won a victory over Fatah, Yasir Arafat’s very corrupt nationalist movement. It was the first time, Wright says, that an Arab electorate ousted an autocratic leadership in a free and fair election — a message that resonated throughout the region. The immediate response of the international community was to boycott Hamas. “The United States is like the prince in search of Cinderella,” the Hamas leader Osama Hamdan told Wright. “The Americans have the shoe, and they want to find the kind of people who fit the shoe. If the people who are elected don’t fit into the American shoe, then the Americans will reject them for democracy.” Fatah was encouraged by the United States, Israel and the Western Europeans to ignore the results of the election and build up its military strength. An armed clash became inevitable, leading to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas gunmen in June 2007.

Wright has long been one of the best-informed American journalists covering the Middle East, and her reputation is borne out here. She is refreshingly skeptical of conventional wisdom about what is happening in the region, and her book will be essential reading for anybody who wants to know where it is heading.

She is particularly good on the moribund nature of the regimes that now hold power and know they are too unpopular to allow any open expression of popular will (though some innovations, like satellite television and the Internet, have prized open their control of information). Both the Algerian election in 1992 and the Palestinian poll in 2006 showed that the West will not accept an election won by its enemies. But since the invasion of Iraq it is difficult to imagine a fair poll having any other result.

Patrick Cockburn, a foreign correspondent for The Independent of London, is the author of “The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq.”

Why I Have New Hope for The Mideast Robin Wright writes about her own book: B01 (Post) Article | 03/02/2008

… Riad al-Turk is the Nelson Mandela of Syria. He was locked in a windowless underground cell about the length of his body without furniture or a toilet for 18 years. He kept from going mad by using uncooked grains of rice from his evening soup to etch geometric designs on the floor. "You must accept hell as a price to pay for remaining faithful to your convictions," he later reflected.

After his release in 1998, Turk went at it again, lashing out at the Assad dynasty in Damascus for "relying on terror" and demanding that it move "from despotism to democracy." In 2001, he was arrested a fourth time. Freed in 2005 at age 75, the reformed Marxist refused to be silent, even while acknowledging that he was only a starting point.

"The regime will eventually collapse on its own, due to isolation internally and internationally," he told me. "That's what happened in the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. That's what will happen here." …

Not all of the Middle East's new actors will succeed. For all the signs of promise, the region is still full of shadows.

Democracy is about differences, which are bound to explode once disparate sides of society are free to speak and make demands. Opening new space also does not guarantee who or what will fill it. And all the factors contributing to change make the region susceptible to greater turmoil.

Yet what I found most inspiring in my travels was not the dreams that the outside world has for the people of the Middle East. It was the lofty goals they have set for themselves, and begun — only begun — to act on.

Books: 'Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East' Discussion | 03/06/2008
Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Robin Wright takes questions on her new book, "Dreams and Shadows"

Comments (63)

wizart said:

Thanks for sharing nice articles, insights and interviews, etc.
I wonder if Robin Write shares a similar perspective with President Bashar as it feels that way to me judging from his 2006 interview..

But going back to Hamas and Hezbollah. Do you consider you were on the winning side in supporting them?

“We do not side with any organization. One of our principles is that if this organization represent the majority of people then we have to deal with it. The landslide victory of Hamas at the elections proved that we were right, because we stood by the majority of the Palestine people. The same applies to Hezbollah. But there is a second aspect: we share the same problems. We all have occupied lands, in Palestine, in Lebanon, in Syria. And we have the same occupier or, if we want to be honest, the same enemy”.

You mean Israel? Is it the eternal enemy?

“No, when there is peace. You can live in peace and harmony side by side, but first of all you must achieve peace”.

What are the main obstacles?

“There are no obstacles in Syria. We have the full support of the Syrian people to achieve peace because we are going to get back our land. The real question is, Is Israel ready to accept peace?”.

Prime minister Olmert said the time is not yet ripe to open a dialogue with Syria, and that the Bush Administration is against it too. How do you respond?

“This means they do not want peace. But the most important thing, as you said, is that Washington doesn’t want that. This means this is a weak government, it allows Washington to take the decision instead of the Israeli government. But let me tell you this: you need a strong government to achieve peace. Weak governments can make war but cannot achieve peace. Peace is much more difficult than war”.

March 3rd, 2008, 4:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So it seems that Josh Landis also agrees that the Syrian regime is not popular:
“She is particularly good on the moribund nature of the regimes that now hold power and know they are too unpopular to allow any open expression of popular will”

Alex, you will need to try harder on this issue…

March 3rd, 2008, 4:53 pm


ausamaa said:

This if from the Israeli Def-intel website http://www.debka.com and still it does not explain the sudden HALT of Israel’s latest military operation in Gaza!!!!

Israeli troops abruptly withdraw from Gaza. Seven-story Ashkelon building hit by Katyusha Monday
March 3, 2008, 4:13 PM (GMT+02:00)

Israel’s anti-missile operation aborted
Shortly after Israel’s withdrawal, Monday, March 3, the Palestinians stepped up their missile and rocket attacks. One of three Katyusha rockets fired from Gaza at Ashkelon hit a seven-story building, sending a dozen people into shock and sowing wide panic in the city of 120,000. Eight missiles exploded in Sderot, 2 in Shear Hanegev and 4 in the Eshkol farmland area south of Sderot.

DEBKAfile reports: Prime minister Ehud Olmert suddenly decided on the pullback of Israeli ground and armored units from northern Gaza before dawn Monday without completing their mission of halting Palestinian fire. Stage one of Operation Hot Winter was announced at an end. He was later attacked by members of the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee for aborting the operation in contradiction of the pledges he and the defense minister made Sunday. Both had vowed that military ground action would press on until the Hamas missile-rocket offensive against Israeli civilians was stamped out.

Up until late Sunday night, Qassam rockets continued to explode in Sderot and surrounding villages and Katyusha rockets in Ashkelon at the average rate of 50 per day since Wednesday. The three-day Israeli infantry, tank and air incursion left more than 100 Palestinians dead, most Hamas combatants, some civilians and children. Two Israeli soldiers were killed.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report: Aborting this action in mid-stream leaves Israel with the options of air, surface missile and artillery raids – or short, shallow forays – all of which have long proved ineffectual.

Olmert’s order to the Israeli ground force to turn around and withdraw in mid-offensive was astonishing and unprecedented. Senior officers fully expected the Palestinian Hamas terrorist leaders to rush into declarations of victory and claims that they had beaten the Israeli army into a retreat. And indeed, Hamas staged a victory march in Gaza City later Monday.

Our political sources disclose that Olmert, during his absence in Tokyo last week, was far from happy with the way acting PM Tzipi Livni and Barak handled the sharp spike in Palestinian missile attacks. He felt they had caused an unnecessary escalation of the crisis to the point that a major military operation became unavoidable.

Olmert insisted that short, sharp military strikes would have defused the crisis and obviated the need for a broad military offensive in Gaza, which he had consistently prevented.

By aborting the operation Monday night, he rapped them both and also moved to put down the incipient revolt in his government and Kadima party, spearheaded by two senior ministers – Avi Dichter, internal security and former Shin Bet chief, and Shaul Mofaz, transport, ex-defense minister and chief of staff. Both publicly urged a stepped-up ground offensive to crush Hamas rule of Gaza, arguing that all other tactics – military, sanctions and siege – had failed.

DEBKAfile’s political sources report that Hamas won useful points in the propaganda war by getting images and footage of Palestinian women and children casualties of Israeli strikes onto TV screens and front pages way ahead of the suffering of Israeli civilians from the gratuitous Hamas blitz.

This eased the way for Washington to lean hard on the prime minister to break off the operation. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice threatened to call off her visit on Tuesday, March 4, and laid the blame on Israel for the breakdown of peace talks with the Palestinians, although it was Mahmoud Abbas who formally suspended all contacts with Israel. She accused Israel of undermining the Bush administration’s entire Middle East strategy. Olmert found it politic to bow to this pressure.

March 3rd, 2008, 5:04 pm


wizart said:


The statement was made by Patrick the editor of the NY times so what you’re referring to is not necessarily the view of Dr Landis or anyone else in particular. A shared vision, aspiration and a desire of peace are evident in the general population and publicly stated by President Bashar & witnessed by Miss Write as her experience is suggesting.

What is your president prepared to offer in order to fulfil his responsibilities to the general public and real security and peace of mind for Isreal, the Arabs and all concerned citizens out there?

Israel is given a lot of aid by debt burdened US taxpayers. What do you and your government reps have to show for it?

March 3rd, 2008, 5:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We have to show for the aid a successful economy that is joining the OECD. We have to show a GDP that 5-7 times higher than that of the neighbors. We have a few nobel prizes and 5 universities in the top 500 in the world. If only most countries would use aid wisely as Israel…

What is our government prepared to do? It is prepared not to support terrorist organizations to destabilze its neighbors. Who do you think is paying for the Hamas and Hizballah rockets? Maybe we start with that. What do you think?

March 3rd, 2008, 6:23 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:


if you truly believe in what you say, and that the world is just that black and white then you are a truly a brain-washed idiot. if not, then you’re just a terrible liar.

israel should not be considered pure evil, but neither should you consider Hamas or Hizballah that, and you should acknowledge that Israel has commited serious crimes against humanity. Just all powers throughout history to progress its strategic interests (and NONE of that democracy spreading bullshit)

March 3rd, 2008, 6:42 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

[Copying response to Nour from previous post]

I know you keep repeating that you are not a M14 supporter, but all your arguments are pure M14 talking points.

Nour, you’ve blown my cover! How did you do it? The US/M14 sent me here to eliminate any resistance on this blog, just like they killed al-Hariri to eliminate any resistance in Lebanon.

I really believe that it is quite obtuse and shortsighted to think that Syria is obstructing in Lebanon, when it is clear that the opposition has clear demands that it refuses to give up.

Explain to me how having clear demands is mutually exclusive with obstructionism? How can you prove that the majority’s clear demands amount to obstructionism while the opposition’s don’t?

You still approach this issue on the assumption that Syria has been the one being belligerent and obstructive all this time, whil the US and KSA are only now responding to Syria’s own harsh positions. Well, in my view, this is the exact opposite of what is happening.

Nour, could you provide some evidence to back up your conclusions? Otherwise, they are just personal opinions. That’s the problem with the current standoff in Lebanon. Each side’s position is a mirror of the opposite side’s. Group A and Group B mutually accuse each other of: being the puppets of foreign powers, receiving their aid and marching orders from outside, deepening the sectarian divisions, not acting in the best interests of Lebanon, etc. And both sides can point to a million reasons as evidence, and many of these reasons are true, while others are partly true, and still others are pure propaganda.

Does this make me a March 14 supporter, when I criticize the tactics of both sides? If it does, then I guess you believe anyone who deviates from your own theses by a tiny smidgen is a March 14 supporter. Basita.

The US has been basically ordering the Lebanese loyalists to remain firm in their positions and not give in to the oppositions, as the US has a clear goal of eliminating the resistance in Lebanon.

If that’s the case, then why did the Americans invite Syria to Annapolis? Why did they give in on Suleiman’s candidacy? And explain to me why Nabih Berri, during his speech at the Moussa Sadr commemoration at Baalbek last September, agreed to give up the “clear demand” for a veto in exchange for agreement on the consensus candidate? These demands you cite are obviously not so clear, as the opposition decided to backtrack after March 14 called their bluff.

Moreover, I am completely convinced that the Hariri assassination and the ones that followed were planned and orchestrated not by Syria, but by the US/Israel, with Saudi help.

Wow, you’re even more special than I thought. I think you used the word “twisted” when describing me and HP recently. I can’t think of a better adjective to describe the scenario you are proposing. Habibi Nour, let me ask you one simple question:

If the axis of evil (US-KSA-Israel) was so dead-set on framing Syria by systematically eliminating the leading lights of a pro-Western government (i.e. not just Rafiq al-Hariri, but also such figures as Gibran Tueni, Pierre Gemayel, Samir Kassir, etc.) then what brand of idiocy would possess them to wait for an official and impartial international investigation to incriminate Syria? If they’re going to go to the trouble of liquidating their allies, you’d think that they would have followed through and made sure that they were rewarded for it by toppling Asad by force.

Now you’re going to tell me that this was the plan, and Bashar foiled it. Of course… how could I be so naive?

March 3rd, 2008, 6:57 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am not making any moral judgement. I am suggesting a way to move forward. How about both sides not support destabilizing the other as a first step?

March 3rd, 2008, 6:57 pm


wizart said:


I think there’s room to share the benefits of this economic prosperity with the owners of the land where it is taking place. I think there’s room for everyone to be happy and achieve higher per capital GNP.

I think the recipients of these obsolete rockets that rarely work are in better positions to provide evidence as to who’s paying for them.

I think people with higher incomes and enormous talents are in a better position to lead mutually benefitial regional partnerships.

Where is your leadership’s plan to create or revive a lasting peace?

March 3rd, 2008, 7:01 pm


Naji said:

What is needed is more Wiz…dom 🙂

March 3rd, 2008, 7:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I don’t need a meta-strategy, I need a strategy the first step of which is that Israeli civillians are not targeted. I need a peace plan after which no organization will shoot rockets at civillians or blow them up because some dictator thinks it is good for his regime or some deity told them to do so. And if you can’t gaurantee any such solution, I prefer the current situation.

March 3rd, 2008, 7:30 pm


Naji said:


“I need a peace plan after which no organization will shoot rockets at civillians or blow them up because some dictator thinks it is good for his regime or some deity told them to do so.”

Hopefully, this is the least you will get as soon as Bush leaves office… even before any peace plan…! Cheer up…!

What next…??!

March 3rd, 2008, 7:38 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I don’t expect much of life. No terrorism would be great. Everybody agrees not to target civillians anymore. Care to accept this opening step?

March 3rd, 2008, 7:59 pm


offended said:

Great, let’s not target civilians.
Lift the siege of Gaza right now!!!!!!!

March 3rd, 2008, 8:11 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Hamas stops firing at civillians and Israel lifts the siege or lets the Palestinians do as much business with Egypt as they please. Do we have a deal?

March 3rd, 2008, 8:17 pm


Naji said:

…see …?!! It is not impossible to find common ground… even with AIG…!

“Care to accept this opening step?”
YES…! Let this be the opening step…!

March 3rd, 2008, 8:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


I can do you one better.

Let’s return to the situation before the first intifada in which Israel and the territories were one economic unit and the Palestinian economy was the fastest growing in the Arab world. All this in exchange for one simple thing. No targeting civillians, ever and no violence in Israel (they can hit soldiers in the territories if they want and Israel will continue attacking militants). This is an excellent deal for the Palestinians.

March 3rd, 2008, 8:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

But you see, Hamas do not accept it. They also want Israel to stop targeting militants and to allow them to get rockets like Hizballah. I think you should talk to them.

March 3rd, 2008, 8:25 pm


Naji said:

“No targeting civillians, ever and no violence in Israel (they can hit soldiers in the territories if they want and Israel will continue attacking militants). This is an excellent deal for the Palestinians.”

I sincererly hope that you meant what you just said… I can get you that kind of a deal…!!

We are almost there… What next…??!

March 3rd, 2008, 8:35 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why would I not mean what I say? You really need to check out what the situation was between 67 and 87. We had that but things went down hill from the first intifada.

And we are very far from this now. The Hamas believe that this status quo is bad for their aim of getting back all of Israel. In fact, it also means the end of the resistance because Hamas finds it very difficult to hit Israeli military targets.

March 3rd, 2008, 8:41 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Material about the Bush failures (and crimes) in Gaza, from Vanity Fair. Highly worth reading.

An excerpt:

The Gaza Bombshell
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

by David Rose April 2008

“A Dirty War”

The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.

It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine, they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword to my injuries.”

March 3rd, 2008, 8:52 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Let’s return to the situation before the first intifada in which Israel and the territories were one economic unit and the Palestinian economy was the fastest growing in the Arab world. All this in exchange for one simple thing. No targeting civillians, ever and no violence in Israel (they can hit soldiers in the territories if they want and Israel will continue attacking militants). This is an excellent deal for the Palestinians.

AIG if it was so rosy as you describe before the first indifada how on earth got those Israeli settlements created? What should be people do when their rights, livelihood and lands are limited and stolen by an occupier. That had been done already before the idifadas. One thing is certain if the Jews were in the place of Palestinians, they would behave as the Palestinians in the resitance. And use same methods (=terrorism) – as they did in the 30’s and 40’s.

AIG if Israel is not limiting damages to the civil population why should the Palestinians. Certainly the Christian and Muslim children killed in the rather indiscriminate slaughter by IDF are not less valuable than the Jewish children killed. On the other hand if IDF can attack population centres why can’t Palestinians?

If Israel would go behind the 1967 borders and create from the country a real multicultural democracy instead of an extreme stone age theocracy, Israel’s demands about security demands would have some moral weight. Now Israel’s demands are like the demands when Nazi Germany demanded French resistance to stop their actions. Occupied people have always resisted the occupation. And Israeli occupation has been one of the cruellest in the modern world’s history. Especially when the occupation in done by a one religion “democracy”.

AIG if Palestinians would stop the resistance, what would Israel do? Give the “67 areas” to them, pay compensations for the lost properties etc. You know Israel would not do anything else than inventing new demands and play time as it has done for decades. From the Israeli strategy are totally missing the carrots for Palestinians.

March 3rd, 2008, 11:39 pm


Enlightened said:

A Black Man in America Once dared to dream, Where is our Arab man who dares to dream?

I wanted to edit and do an “Arab/Isreali” Dream but I will wait in vain for that original man to come out with that speech. But instead I just wanted to remind all the SC readers. HP if you are still reading this one’s for you, because hope is slow of foot, where as violence and war are done in a quick step:

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

March 4th, 2008, 12:43 am


Enlightened said:


I pasted Robin Wrights article on

March 2nd, 2008, 10:35 pm

in an apparent attempt to educate AIG on the prevailing situation in the ME during his many : “Arabs must get Democratic” posturing.
Now I don’t want to score brownie points, and know that you are a busy man, with running classes, writing and research, policy papers, speeches, and your media appointments and running the SC (website with some help) , oh and I didn’t forget your most important duty as a Family man.

However I do have one request and hope that despite your busy schedule you might be able to answer this question. Given that the Blog is a (Landis production forgive the pun), you only intermittently intervene and interact with the SC crowd on the site, where as most other bloggers react and interact with their audience in a far more continous manner. Is there a reason for this? Or is it a calculated strategy to let ideas and communication flow, with out being construed to having a political orientation.

Just very curious, been on this site for almost 3 years, reading and sometimes contributing but just noticed it! (yes I am a little slow).

March 4th, 2008, 2:29 am


norman said:

Enlighte one,

Sorry to disappoint you but i beat you and posted the same article on 2/29/2008 at 3:19 pm ,and that is before 3/2/2008 , So no brownie today, I enjoy Affirmation of the articles i chose by MR Landis.

March 4th, 2008, 3:21 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Nobody can sneak one past you.

Bravo. 🙂

March 4th, 2008, 3:28 am


Enlightened said:


Ok no brownies then, but how about a very stale falafel then?

humbly you are quick draw McDraw, or SPeedy Gonzales?

which is it?

March 4th, 2008, 4:04 am


raanalya said:


I’m an Israeli too, and I must tell you that you are not representing Israel well on this site. First and foremost, not because of what you have to say, but because every single discussion thread has to become a discussion about Israel. The name of the site is *Syria Comment*, please stop harassing the folks here who call, or used to call, Syria their homeland and let them iron out their issues by themselves. When you try to comment on Syrian and Lebanese issues you lack basic knowledge which just makes your comments a drag. There were a few posts specifically about the possibility of peace between Syria and Israel—I think you can confine yourself to these and have a better effect overall.



March 4th, 2008, 8:00 am


‘Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East’ by Robin Wright » mul-timedi-a.info said:

[…] Zahlen und Fakten Im Rahmen des Projekts werden die bereits vorhandenen Datenbanken miteinander verknüpft und mit einem Online-Angebot für elektronische Volltexte versehen. Beim Betrachten der Fotos nimmt man sich nach dem ersten Überblick immer wieder Zeit für weitere Details. Am 11, Joshua: Juni 2005 wurde der ehemalige slowakische Parlamentspräsident, Dr, Joshua: Frantisek Miklosko, in Budapest mit dem internationalen Adalbert-Friedenspreis ausgezeichnet, Joshua: […]

March 4th, 2008, 11:16 am


why-discuss said:

What do you think is the best Arab model for Syria to follow? Egypt, KSA, Jordan, Dubai, Libya, Algeria, Soudan, Lebanon? Please pick one.

I believe Syria has to invent itself in view of the changes in the region and in view of its own history and social fabric, similarly to the new Russia or the new China after years of communism and state-owned economy. Ultimately as Syria (like China and Russia) is not influenced as heavily as the others ME countries by western powers, it may find a way to become a model of religious tolerance, arab christian-muslim cohesion and succesful social and economical development. A unripe, rushed and forced democracy will not pay off, we have seen painful exemples in the area. Syria need constructive free expression that help to build on the roots of the society, not the ones who create chaos and try to destroy or shake these roots.
If temporary autocracy pays off, so be it as long as it carries the country forward, socially and economically. We see that in China and Russia. It is decried by western countries but ultimately tolerated as a transitory step. Is Syria growing economically and socially under the present rule?

March 4th, 2008, 11:37 am


Shai said:


Has any Arab intellectual (or non-Arab) that you know of, tried to examine past-models of transformation between autocracies and democracies, and applied it to the case of Syria, or other nations in our region? It would be very interesting, and important, to see what exists already out there, in order to try and learn and debate the possibilities. If this issue ever made it to the level of public debate in our region (has it?), people here in Israel, for instance, might generate a lot of hope, trusting that the region is on its path to democracy, and hence, greater stability and freedom for its citizens.

March 4th, 2008, 11:55 am


wizart said:


Please explain “I don’t need Meta Strategy?”

It seems to me your side has been pursuing a reactionary strategy based on pursuing retaliatory policies from day one. Is adapting to your opponents reactions considered a strategy? Is this the optimum strategy for creating a stable & secure country after the Holocust?

We live in a balance of terror age where each side is in a state of “brinkmanship” ready to pull the trigger. You said you may prefer the status quo. I know this maybe a bluff because we can do better.

This wasteful perceived balance of terror requires responsibility from everybody involved to expose the structures of those stinking strategies more than to conceal them in a cloud of rhetoric.

How else can we sort out contingent choices that optimize peace?

There’s a serious long standing conflict in our area, you have several Nobel prize winners and five top university and yet you say don’t want to have a strategy to settle this conflict for once and for all or is this just a bluff? We all sometimes misrepresent our preferences in a peace vs war negotiation and I understand that.

Please also answer Simorhitta’s three recent important questions which may help us avoid this conflict becoming a game of chicken with no real end in sight. “From the Israeli strategy are totally missing the carrots for Palestinians.” No hope and no incentives.

I understand everybody may think they have better options that don’t include peace. What is the optimum legacy, you, the children and victims of the hollocust want to leave for the world to see?

March 4th, 2008, 1:24 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


This is a good question. Here is my uninformed opinion:

Syria is unique. In terms of (non-political) culture, it is closest to Lebanon and Palestine, although I hasten to add that Syria itself is a very heterogeneous country, with many ‘sub-cultures and -communities’, much like its smaller neighbor to the west.

Of the options you mention (Egypt, KSA, Jordan, Dubai, Libya, Algeria, Soudan, Lebanon), I can’t really see Syria following any such model. At least, I hope it would not follow any of them, with the qualified exception of Lebanon… BUT let me add that I’d prefer to see Syria follow the positive aspects of the Lebanese model (neo-liberal economy, free press, high literacy rates, strong educational programs, etc.) while dodging the pitfalls (decayed and archaic system of government, entrenched clientelism, lack of security, etc.)

Ideally, a strong Syria would be democratic, economically prosperous, and tolerant of its own population’s wonderful diversity. We don’t have any good models for this in the Middle East, but it may be possible to pick and choose from here or there.

March 4th, 2008, 1:49 pm


Nour said:


This is your problem, you mock and ridicule any position not in line with the official M14 stance and then you claim you are criticizing both sides. Forgive me if I don’t buy it.

First, with respect to the clear position of the opposition, their main concern has always been the issue of power-sharing. They are not willing to let M14 have total control of the government, as they realize that the US is pushing for certain measures that M14 is willing to carry out on their behalf. If they allow M14 to control government decision-making in the country, then they would be in essence giving the US a free hand to push for the disarming of the resistance, in addition to blocking any possible reforms not satisfactory to M14 interests. This has never been a secret and has been the consistent argument made by the opposition. The issue was never merely the presidency. Yes, the opposition supporte the candidacy of Michel Sleiman, and clearly Syria had no problem with it, but this is not the end of the story, as electing Sleiman to the presidency while his status would be similar to that of Lahoud is not acceptable to the opposition.

Second, regarding the issue of the Hariri assassination, the act clearly allowed the US to increase its pressure and threats against Syria. And with each new assassination, the accusations continued to be leveled against Syria. The international tribunal was set up clearly as a means of threatening Syria, nothing more. You know very well that the US would never allow any evidence to surface that might link it or Israel to the crime, and clearly no evidence has surfaced linking Syria. But the tribunal has continued to be used to increase pressure on Syria. In other words, Syria is told that if it gives in to the demands of the US then the tribunal won’t be used against it. Otherwise, it might have to suffer such fate. Well, this clearly puts the whole assassination and tribunal into question. If Syria is clearly implicated, then why use the tribunal merely as a carrot and stick tactic? Why not just demonstrate Syria’s complicity and move on to whatever punitive measures the UN would surely sanction? Because it is apparent that the whole thing is a farce and the assassination was clearly used to the benefit of US/Israel and to the detriment of Syria.

March 4th, 2008, 3:41 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Nour said:

This is your problem, you mock and ridicule any position not in line with the official M14 stance and then you claim you are criticizing both sides. Forgive me if I don’t buy it.

Nour, this is false. I suggest you go back and read my post, Diagnosing Failure, and you will see that I specifically argued that “the majority should be willing to give up a blocking veto to the opposition in exchange for the immediate election of Suleiman as president.” I don’t think I’d last very long among the ranks of March 14 for expressing this opinion.

I agree with you that the U.S. is currently playing the obstructionist game in Lebanon. That’s exactly what I said in my earlier post, namely that they are playing the same game as the Syrians. Neither side wants to walk away with a government that is sympathetic to (or controlled by) the other party. That’s the problem right now.

You may say that the opposition’s demand for a veto is very clear and fair, but this is why I brought up the issue of Berri’s concession on that issue back in September. Obviously they were claiming to give in on that point, but when March 14 tried to meet these terms, the offer was withdrawn. Actually, I think that it was March 14’s mistake in that case… they waited too long, thinking they could get a better deal later.

So both sides are guilty of this stupid game. There have been many missed opportunities for reconciliation, on both sides.

As for the assassinations, your logic still does not convince me. There is no question that the tribunal is highly politicized and is being used as a weapon against Syria. This is patently true, so we are in agreement. However, it doesn’t follow that the U.S. assassinated all of these officials in order to bring about the Tribunal. This is pushing things too far into wild speculation and irrationality. It is one thing to exploit certain events to pursue your interests; this is what intelligent politicians do. It is another thing to create events in order to then exploit them. This kind of thing occurs in the more abstract and unsensational areas of economic policy, development, etc. but rarely in the glaring spotlight of high profile politics. A coup in a remote little country here, an assassination of a trivial figure there… I believe that America is up to such operations. But to engage in serial assassination process like the one you are describing, in the present context, simply does not make sense.

If they were going to go to the trouble of killing people who were as staunchly supportive of America’s “plan for the region”, they shouldn’t have bothered with a Tribunal. They should have fabricated the evidence in a more convincing manner, and just taken Asad down by force.

But whatever… we’ll probably never know.

March 4th, 2008, 4:25 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

By the way, this may sound like a totally naive statement, but assassinating foreign leaders (especially allies!) is actually illegal in the U.S. This means that the CIA is not allowed to do it, or have someone do it for them.

People will chuckle knowingly, but you should recognize that this is a condition by which many other governments (like Syria’s and KSA’s and others) are not bound by. This doesn’t mean that the U.S. doesn’t do it, just that the consequences for those involved are much higher.

If the U.S. could be shown to have had any part in the Hariri assassination (and subsequent ones), heads would roll and relations between the U.S. and many prominent allies (including all of Europe, the Sunni Arab regimes, etc.) would be damaged for a very long time.

Ahh, but you say, the U.S. would make sure that nobody would ever find out. Maybe, but this is extremely difficult to do in a democracy with a huge bureaucracy. People find out… a lot of the time, just as they found out about the civil war provoked by Bush in Gaza, and the Hariri funding of Sunni militias. Journalists ask questions, follow leads, try to break stories, etc. If there’s a conspiracy, in many cases people like Seymour Hersh will expose it.

That being the case, would you take the chance on such a dastardly and potentially catastrophic series of crimes, if you were the U.S. President? Probably not.

(But maybe Bush would… hmmmm)

March 4th, 2008, 4:44 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are over intellectualizing the conflict. There are two nations fighting for the same piece of land. The nation that will have a stronger society, stronger economy and stronger military will win in the end. This blood feud has gone on so long that neither side trusts the other side’s intentions or motives. For example, even QN thinks that the IDF targets civillians on purpose, and I understand where he is coming from. You know what I think of Hamas. Israeli society is what it is and Arab society is what it is. Societies change very slowly. What the Palestinians view as a “just” solution is very very far from what Israelis view as a “just” solution and the gap is only widening.

Given all the above, please tell me how to solve the problem, don’t ask me philosophical questions about how strategies should be formulated (that is meta-strategy). That is an interesting topic but useless in the context of the middle east conflict.

I have thought long and hard about the issues and in my opinion there is no solution possible to the problem now. I am not bluffing or negotiating, I am giving you my honest opinion. The only thing we can do is muddle on and hope that the future will provide better opportunities. If you want to ask me specific questions about my position, please go ahead. I would be happy to answer you.

March 4th, 2008, 4:57 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said: “even QN thinks that the IDF targets civillians on purpose, and I understand where he is coming from.”

AIG, I’ll assume that that’s the most I’ll get out of you in the way of an underhanded acknowledgement of the relative validity of my position. Thanks.


March 4th, 2008, 5:01 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are going too far. 🙂 Your position has no validity, it is just that I understand how you could reach this invalid position. You were never in the IDF or any other army fighting militants in a civillian area so your frame of reference is just not appropriate to make any valid judgements in this case.

March 4th, 2008, 5:20 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Of course… how could I be so naive?


March 4th, 2008, 6:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I read somewhere that in the 1991 gulf war 1 out of every 4 Americans that died, were killed from friendly fire. Would you argue that the Americans were targeting their troops intentionally? Probably yes.

This is the disconnect between us. You point at the numbers and believe they make your argument. I know for a fact that the IDF has never issued a command to target civillians. Fighting in areas in which militants and civillians are intermingled is just very difficult. You need to make split second decisions that may cost your life and of course mistakes are made. But believe it or not, there is zero intention to harm civillians. You can have the last word on this so as not to get into a prolonged discussion.

March 4th, 2008, 6:32 pm


wizart said:


I agree both sides have pretty divergent views about what justice is. However, we’re not magicians and can’t read each other’s minds so we need to define what the real interests are on both sides in order to reach a better situation. We both know positions are not set in stone and a strategy isn’t just a set of moves that we need to keep a secret. I understand how you think power dynamics maybe in your favour as you see them so creating a win-win situation may not appeal to you. However, if you honestly think you can win at the expense of the other side I honestly think you are more likely to lose in the long run. There are as many definitions for winning as there are for justice. While I enjoy your sense of humor and high intellect I also feel our joint responsibility to both sides is to try to think a little harder and more responsibely since each side knows his own society perhaps a little better and maybe both can compromise a bit on their side to achieve something better for all.

Both sides have to work harder to face the difficult realities head on as you know and not evade the challenge and go on tangents. I do know there’s a big trust issue. I also know it takes a lifetime to build trust and only a few seconds to ruin it. Time is our most important asset because it can’t be replaced. We can’t assume we’re dealing with hyper rational decision makers. Whatever strategy we formulate is not worth much unless we can translate it into action.

We can think up more questions to see how we can make peace with justice for both sides who yearn for real life, peace & liberty.

March 4th, 2008, 6:46 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am all for a win-win solution. I just honestly can’t think of one but I am certainly open to hear any proposals.

March 4th, 2008, 6:55 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


No need for a prolonged discussion on these pages, as we’ve already had it.

I would, however, like to make sure my position is clear. It is not about numbers, for me. (Or, at least, it’s only partly about numbers).

The issue is, rather, that while the IDF may never issue a direct order to target civilians, it is nonetheless engaging in a moral calculus when it makes decisions in war. To me, this calculus is what we should look at when we determine what is beyond the pale and what is not, rather than the stated intention of an act.

Let me give you an example from Iraq. When Muqtada al-Sadr sends a suicide bomber into a crowded market square with the stated intention of killing an America Marine who is patrolling there, but simultaneously kills 40 civilians [in addition to the Marine], this action is no less reprehensible for the bomber’s stated intention. How do I justify my unequivocal condemnation? By looking at this moral calculus and judging it to be tantamount to targeting civilians.

The same goes for some of Israel’s actions during Lebanon in 2006. The assumption of a good intention is not enough, in these cases. (I’m not trying to convince you of this; I’m merely clarifying my thought process.)

I realize that this is not as convenient or as neat as the method you propose, because it is a slippery slope. When do the results of a moral calculus cross a boundary and go beyond the pale? This is difficult to say, but at least my reasoning is intellectually honest and true to the messy realities of modern warfare.

Cleaving to the “intention” argument actually is far more limiting, in the analysis of crimes against humanity; that’s why I am convinced that we need to analyze these crimes differently.

March 4th, 2008, 7:58 pm


Shai said:

Hey QN. I wrote you a response in the new thread (p=610).

March 4th, 2008, 8:00 pm


Shai said:


Relating to your last comment here, I think that most armies fail in that regard, certainly when faced with a challenge they are unfamiliar with. Few armies, if any, ever succeeded in destroying an organization, or a militia, like Hezbollah or Hamas. And when guerilla fighting takes places within civilian population centers, and the fighters are themselves civilians, then it’s a lose-lose situation for the regular army facing it. The commanders on the ground are so frustrated at having to constantly consider the civilians in the equation, that sooner or later, their patience runs out (especially as they see their soldiers dying as a result). And, after a week, or 10 days, the young commanders (in their 20’s and 30’s) resort to much less humane ways of fighting. In a way, I can understand them. The amount of anger that builds up within them, that innocent civilians all around are so-called “allowing” this to take place (as if they have a choice), almost justifies their harsh retribution, in their eyes. Mainly, it is this frustration that gets things going out of control. Show me one modern army that hasn’t committed such crimes, and far far worse, in the modern era. Israel is no different, unfortunately.

March 4th, 2008, 8:10 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said:

Fighting in areas in which militants and civillians are intermingled is just very difficult. You need to make split second decisions that may cost your life and of course mistakes are made.

AIG, these are not the decisions that I’m talking about. In a ground war, with commandoes returning fire upon buildings from which they were fired upon, thereby injuring or killing civilians inside is not the scenario I am referring to when I made my argument.

I’m talking, rather, about decisions taken from the air-conditioned comfort of a ministry building, namely decisions like using cluster bombs and phosphorus munitions, etc.

But we should stop talking about this before we take over the entire blog again. It’s a slippery slope and we could spend forever arguing about it.

Shai is right: we should be discussing solutions.

Shai: I’m penning my response to you as we speak! You may have to read it tomorrow, though.

March 4th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG, there should be a suspicious package in your sparkling new inbox. Open it, and accept the mission if you dare.

March 4th, 2008, 8:19 pm


metni said:

If Ms. Wright can, perhaps rightly, identify Riad-al-Turk as the Mandella of Syria by virtue of his incarceration, how many Mandellas does Israel, as a tried and true practitioner of apartheid, have languishing in its prisons?

March 5th, 2008, 12:04 am


wizart said:


I propose we can have peace first and then cooperate together in building a democratic Middle East because once peace has been established with Israel Democracy gains credibility in the area.

Absent of peace there’s only one way to fight Israel and that is thru fanaticism which only happens by way of more Islamization.

How can you get a Democratic Middle East if there’s no peace first?

How do you know “Democracization” will not lead to more wars with Israel the same way the election in Gaza led you to more trouble with Hamas?

Are you not aware that the number one reason people tolerate the lack of democracy in many countries is because they feel they have higher national priorities which require strong central authoritarian governments capable of rallying the masses to fight a common enemy?

I understand how you may think Democracy could lead to a national surrender at the voting machines!! What if the opposite happened? What is easier to have peace with a few strong regional players or to try to negotiate it with a Hamas like Democratized Middle East?

March 6th, 2008, 6:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I cannot democratize anything. The Arabs can democratize themselves.

As for your questions: A democratically elected government in an Arab country may elect to go to war against Israel but it will never be re-elected. Accountability favors peace. Eventually, all democratic elected governments will at least be against war if not for peace.

As for the many excuses people give for not wanting democracy, it is not my job to explain to them that they are bogus. It is yours and QN’s. They won’t listen to me.

March 6th, 2008, 7:03 pm


wizart said:


We’re not asking for your help achieving Democracy if you can’t help us and help yourself by achieving peace which we consider more basic.

Calling something real which concerns the majority Muslim population is not a bogus excuse whether it comes out of me or anybody else.

Hamas listened to their population and got elected. Now you think you have a valid excuse for not wanting or not being able to negotiate peace with them while accusing your other opponents of making bogus excuses which are not bogus because they will lead you to similar problems!

March 6th, 2008, 7:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

There is a difference between peace, no war and war. If Hamas thought that it were really accountable to the people of Gaza, it would not have shot the rockets at Israel. Hamas knows that it will not allow additional elections so it doesn’t care. With Hamas it is one person, one vote, one time. That is not democracy.

I am talking about the appearance of democratic regimes that are really accountable and that can be voted out and replaced without violence if people are displeased. I don’t mind if such regimes take power with a platform hostile to Israel. How long do you think they will stay in power if all they bring their citizens is war and no growth economics?

The reasons for not having a democracy are bogus. How can dictatorships be better than democracies in achieving national aims? In fact, all the dictatorships failed miserably in this. Unless you can provide a counter example, this argument is bogus.

March 6th, 2008, 9:52 pm


wizart said:


If there was an example of how a Democratic regime really solved its territorial dispute with Israel then we will never need a counter example. There’s no example to the Israel experiment producing enduring peace. Manipulating public opinion through the free press in the name of Democratic ideals will benefit Israel at the expense of the population who stand to face bloody instability.

Can you give me an example of a country that was created the way Israel was created. Was it not designed at the expense of others?

How easy is it to manipulate a democracy? If Israel is so readily able to manipulate the US foreign policy towards the Middle East and the U.S is a huge successful Democracy don’t you think Israel will find it much easier to manipulate any future Arabic Democracy?

March 7th, 2008, 6:05 am


wizart said:

How has The Holocaust been affecting Israel’s political psychology?

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorders) are common among war victims and Holocaust survivors and they are extremely hard to treat fully.
How could that not be related to the persistent absence of peace between Israelis (past survivors) and (new survivors) Gazans?

“Holocaust Syndrome explains the behavior of victims exposed to a constant, prolonged danger over which they have no control, no recourse, use the denial mechanism to cope with life threatening situations. The Germans were fully aware of this phenomena, and deliberately starved, terrorized and dehumanized the victims, to make the killing easier.” from a website on the Holocaust.

Conditions in Gaza today may subject some victims to ..”the Gaza” Syndrome where some victims maybe facing similar “solutions.”

Victims of past traumas often need to relive the pain to feel cured and sometimes they manage to re-experience their pain through others. Humans can get very sick. Peace flows from the inside out. If there’s no peace inside the human psyche there’ll be no peace.

March 7th, 2008, 2:07 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am not sure I understand your view. Are you claiming that democratic changes will make the Arabs weaker vis a vis Israel? If what you say is true, why don’t the Arabs manipulate the free Israeli press to make Israel weaker? If it is so easy to manipulate a democracy, then why aren’t the Arabs manipulating Israel?

Are you against democratic reforms in Arab countries? Do you believe only strong men can rule Arab countries? It sure sounds like it.

Is there ONE country in the world that was not created at the expense of others? All Arab countries are the result of the Arab conquests. More recently Iraq and Syria were created at the expense of the Kurds. All South American and North American countries were created at the expense of the local population.
In England the Anglos pushed out the Celts and were later pushed themselves by the Saxons and Vikings and finally taken over by the Notmans. All this was at the expense of many people. In Spain the Arabs took over at the expense of the local population and were then pushed out at the expense of even more people. Do I need to continue?

March 7th, 2008, 2:57 pm


wizart said:


It’s rather telling you’re always pushing for a regime change somewhere in the region and never taking responsibility for peace.

The Arabs, unlike Israelis, don’t need an excuse for a regime change. They’re growing along while in a dynamic survival mode although not practiced in the arts of international cognitive distortion and P R manipulation that Israel has perfected through years of highly dedicated and organized efforts since surviving the Holocaust. The Arabs have been made to pay the price of solving the Holocaust complex and you’re suggesting they should role with the punches and recover through Democratizing! I tend to believe real Democratic ideas and secularism develop in peaceful times not under the duress of emergency situations where nations feel under siege.

Historical land grabs in the stone and middle ages are no excuse for modern day nation building through aggression. Gone are the days when there was no United Nations, binding laws and orders. We need to restructure and strengthen these international organizations and the U.S (minus Israel’s lobbying pressure) can lead the way to make sure we live in a more secure and just world.

Every case for peace is different so custom made solutions seem more appropriate to me. Why not focus exclusively on the factors undermining peace rather than rationalizing current predicaments by blaming them on irresponsibly lame excuses such as “the need for regime changes?”

China is not Democratic yet it’s growing fast in peace with its neighbors. England returned Hong Kong a prospering city after a 100 years. Why not be proactive in bringing prosperity to places like Gaza unstead of coming up with an other regime change excuse?

March 7th, 2008, 4:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am not pushing for regime change. I am only saying that real peace can only be made with democracies.

As for democracy being developed in peaceful times, that is just false. Democracy was brought to Europe via revolutions and wars, except for the UK. Democracy in the US was earned by fighting for years against a superpower (Britain). Democracy in Japan was tailor made by the Americans who dictated a constitution to the Japanese. The Indian democracy is a direct result of the colonial system weakning the local mahrajahs. Democracy is usually gained by war. Freedom is not cheap. Your whole assertion is just wrong.

Israel brought prosperity to Gaza from 1967 till 1987 (the start of the second intifada). Gaza was more prosperous and its economy grew much faster than that of Egypt or Syria by huge amounts. Did that bring peace? No it didn’t.

Your arguments are all based on wishful thinking and are not based on any fact. Also, you rationalize the fact that Israel convinces people because we have better PR. Did you consider the option that it is because we have a better argument? Just examine the holes in your argument.

March 7th, 2008, 4:43 pm


wizart said:


Your suggestion is a prescription for another Holocaust courtesy of Israel’s stock piles of tactical nukes because you’re saying Arabs can revolt or go to war to democratize and only then they’ll have peace with Israel (whoever survive modern day gas chambers.) What a self disinterested suggestion? It’s lunacy! It will not happen. Pipe dream.

March 7th, 2008, 5:06 pm


AIG said:

How are Israeli nukes related to anything? All I am saying that there will have to be a decades long process of democratization in the Arab world and that Israel has no role to play in that. If the Arabs do not want or can’t democratize, they won’t. I am not forcing anything on them. I am just saying that anything Israel does cannot help the process. So do what is good for you. If you think that democracy is not good, then stay non-democratic.

March 7th, 2008, 5:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

How are the Israeli nukes related to anything? Israel is not forcing any regime change on the Arabs. If they want to stay non-democratic that is up to them. I think there will be a decades long process of democratization in the middle east. In fact, Israel is hampering regime change by supporting Abdallah and Mubarak. I think this is a long term mistake.

March 7th, 2008, 5:29 pm


wizart said:

Israel Training With Tactical Nukes

November 19, 2007
Jack Kinsella – Omega Letter Editor

The government of Israel has let it be known that Israeli Air Force pilots are currently undergoing training for a tactical NUCLEAR strike against Iran’s nuclear program to prevent Ahmadinejad from getting the Bomb.

The Israelis intend to use precision laser bombs followed up by low-yield tactical nuclear bunker-buster bombs to hit Iran’s hardened underground facilities. The training exercise calls for the use of two Israeli Air Force squadrons to carry out the attack.
The London Sunday Times quoted one of its sources saying, “As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished.”

Israeli intelligence assessments conclude that conventional weapons won’t be enough to totally annihilate the three main targets, a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan, the heavy water reactor at Arak, and the Natanz facility that Ahmadinejad boasted now has 3,000 centrifuges online.

Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran’s nuclear program for years and prevent the Jewish State from living in fear of sudden nuclear destruction from the east.

Noted Israel Insider, “Dr. Ephraim Sneh, the former deputy Israeli defense minister, said last month: “The time is approaching when Israel and the international community will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran.”

But he lamented that; “At the end of the day it is always down to the Jews to deal with the problem.”

The Insider also reported that the US “is believed to be backing away from military action in Iran, and the new US defense secretary, Robert Gates, has described a strike against Iranian targets as a “last resort”, leading Israelis to believe that it will be left to the IAF to strike.”

Moreover, the Insider said Israeli officials do not expect to get a green light from the US to use tactical nukes — the IAF intends to operate unilaterally as necessary.

If the IAF plans proceed to fruition, Israel will be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon against an enemy since the United States dropped “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

A number of US analysts believe that Israel leaked the story to the London Sunday Times deliberately as a message to Iran.

The Israeli Insider quoted one such analyst, who told them;

“In the cold war, we made it clear to the Russians that it was a virtual certainty that nukes would fly and fly early. Israel may be adopting the same tactics: ‘You produce a weapon; you die’.”

I don’t doubt that Israel wants Iran to know that it intends to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Israel no doubt also wanted the world to know of its intentions in advance in order to gauge global reaction.

It is worth remembering that this story originated with the London Sunday Times, which is Great Britain’s answer to the New York Times as that nation’s newspaper of record — (except the London Times still has the international credibility once shared by the Gray Lady in New York).

The point is, this story is NOT some unsourced rumor picked up from an internet blog. It was the featured report in one of Great Britain’s oldest and most prestigious newspapers, read in capitals the world over.

And it reported that Israel was preparing for a first-use nuclear strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities! The world’s reaction was. . . it was . . well, ummm . . . I ran a Google news search on the keywords “Israel” “tactical” and “nuclear” to see.

There were TWO articles — one from YnetNews and the other from the Israel Insider. Both hyperlinked to the London Times report, but apart from that, there appears to be a deafening silence. No outraged editorials from the Saudis or Egyptians or from al-Jazeera. No protests in the streets.

In 1981, when Saddam was about to flip the switch that would bring his Osirek nuclear processing plant online, Israel began conducting training simulations that telegraphed their intention to destroy it.

The global reaction in 1981 was not unlike the reaction to the Times’ report. Even the Arabs remained silent, and in the decades since, there has been an unspoken acknowledgment that Israel did the world a favor.

It would seem the world is prepared to accept another favor from the Jewish State.
A one day strike gone wrong can do more damage than Hitler did. Given IDF’s reputation for accuracy I wouldn’t want to be around.

March 8th, 2008, 1:20 pm


wizart said:

Big Pharma Pushes ‘Miracle Cure’
for Holocaust Denial Syndrome

Written by Michael James
Tuesday, 11 December 2007

FRANKFURT, Germany — Governments, police services, and prison
authorities around the world are reportedly “overjoyed” by the launch of a new prescription drug that cures people who doubt the veracity of the Zionist-inspired atrocity allegations, the so-called Jewish Holocaust.

Shares in Israel-based Goy & Goy Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
rocketed to 89 US dollars following the long-awaited announcement of a miracle cure for Holocaust Denial Syndrome (HDS)

Soon to be marketed and sold under the name Holozac, the drug works
by closing down the brain’s center of intellectual inquiry. It also
blocks the re-uptake of politically incorrect neurotransmitters
involved in critical thought processes, making it more difficult to
distinguish between truth and lies.

“We’re simply overwhelmed by the response of the governments we
control in the Zionist West,” says Ari Scheister, Marketing Director for Goy & Goy’s regional office in Germany. “Particularly so in the European Union where prisons are bursting at the seams with professors, journalists, and academics who each suffer the symptoms of advanced and potentially fatal HDS and other diseases associated with human awareness and a passion for the truth.”

Europe’s most prominent sufferers, Ernst Zündel, Germar Rudolf, and
David Irving are said to be in a stable condition following
incarceration in high-security prison facilities for People Who Read Books (PWRBs).

“Next to People Who Have the Audacity to Actually Write Books
(PWHTATAWBs), the PWRBs are our most urgent concern,” says Guenther
Gutmensch, Parliamentary Chairman of the Federal Commission for
Confiscating and Burning Books That Make People Think Something Ain’t Right (FCFCABBTMPTSAR). “They ask lots of questions and they have an unnatural and very unhealthy obsession with finding out the truth. They simply do not believe a word we say.”

Goy & Goy Pharmaceuticals were given the green light by EU health
regulators yesterday following extensive double-blind tests involving twenty HDS sufferers. Over a seven-day period, the patients were allowed unrestricted access to a library of detailed and scientifically authenticated studies of the so-called Jewish
Holocaust. Ten of the patients were given a placebo, whereas each of the other ten was administered 500 mg of Holozac twelve times a day.

“However,” continues Haggler, “by Wednesday morning the group treated with Holozac had actually pushed aside Carlo Mattogno’s ‘Auschwitz: Rumor and Reality’ and Norman Finkelstein’s ‘The Holocaust Industry’ in favor of the semi-mythical ‘Schindler’s List’. At the end of the experiment they were actually fighting over the only available copy of Germany’s favourite self-loathing, government-controlled newspaper ‘Bild Zeitung’.”

There are however side effects associated with Holozac. Its active
ingredient, Zionine, has been shown to cause a pathological hatred of Palestinians and Muslims in general.

“It’s not for cartoonists or editor’s of Mossad-controlled
newspapers,” Haggler explained. “We are also cautioning doctors not
to prescribe to patients who have a habit of harming either
themselves or complete strangers and who then blame that harm on
imaginary Arab terrorists.”

Haggler’s colleagues also stress that giving the drug to Christians
who have been artfully persuaded to believe a false, unscriptural,
satanic doctrine known as the Zionist Dispensation would be sheer

Despite such reservations about possible side effects, the European
Union has already invested 15 billion euros in what it describes as
the most ambitious mental health campaign in modern times.

“We’re talking about targeted pre-emptive measures,” says an EU
spokesman for Mental Hygiene and Correct Thinking. “Holocaust Denial Syndrome begins at home and in the classroom. Does your child ask questions? Does he or she read books? Does he or she get bored with television news programmes and surf the Internet for uncensored history sites and the truth about September 11? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any one of these painfully necessary questions, then your child should be treated with Holozac immediately before his or her brain has a chance to fully develop its dangerous critical faculties.”

Much to the delight of Goy & Goy shareholders, that recommendation
was heartily echoed by psychiatric professionals throughout the
European Union yesterday.

“We often find ourselves being called out at short notice to help the police deal with highly intelligent people who question the official version of history and who therefore require urgent medication,” says first-responder Heidi Stomp. “At the end of the day, all we want is a society of normal, well-adjusted people who watch television, trust the government, don’t ask questions, pay taxes, and love Israel.”

“Governments are limited in terms of what they can do to keep young
men dying in wars for Israel premised upon our cleverly scripted
history and other scams,” reiterates Ari Scheister. “They can burn
books and lie and deceive over and over again, but there’s always a
hard core of dangerously self-educated and wilfully informed people
who persist in asking troublesome questions about our precious and
wonderfully unique Holocaust, despite the threat of imprisonment or
worse. The only way to deal with this terrible disease and stop the
truth from infecting other people is by treating sufferers with our
new miracle Holozac.”

“To paraphrase one of our cleverest non-attributable disinformation
slogans of all time,” concludes Scheister, “it may not be the only
solution, but it’s sure as hell the final solution. Pass the Sushi,
will ya?”

Michael James is a British freelance journalist and translator,
resident in Germany for almost 14 years.

March 8th, 2008, 1:43 pm


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