Hizbullah and Elections

Qifa Nabki give us a fine analysis of the meaning of Hizbullah’s election campaign:

hizbposter3Everything suggests a shift of strategy by the Hizb towards emphasizing the themes of good governance, national unity, gradual reformism, and fighting corruption, while placing the military resistance on the back burner. In this context, one wonders whether the oft-asked question regarding the price for Hizbullah’s “integration” into Lebanese politics is a stale and irrelevant one, as it seems increasingly as though the Hizb is not waiting for anyone to make them an offer. Take a look at the campaign posters (above and left). The party’s famous Kalashnikov logo has been deliberately faded to contrast it with a bold-faced LEBANON, beneath three scratched-out titles: “your Lebanon,” “our Lebanon,” “their Lebanon.” It’s a strong message, and one which immediately brings to mind Saad al-Hariri’s promise to refuse joining a government of national unity after the elections…. (read the rest)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah savors increasing legitimacy
By Borzou Daragahi
As some Western nations seek contacts, Hezbollah’s No. 2, cleric Naim Qassem, says the group has ‘convinced the West it is a popular, authentic and important movement that cannot be ignored.’

To defeat Hezbollah, the US Defense Department has spent millions of dollars since the 2006 War. “I’ve organized five major games in the last two years, and all of them have focused on Hezbollah,” said Frank Hoffman, a research fellow at the [US] Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico. From Wash Post.

“Lebanon’s sovereignty, democracy, prosperity and stability
are a priority for all of us,” insists U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison.



Hezbollah’s Head of Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Mohammad Raad takes US Ambassador Sison to task for insisting that Hizbullah represents a threat to Lebanon. He insists this does not jive with her call for independence and sovereignty. “Who is Sison to say that Hizbullah represents a threat to Lebanon and the region?” Raad asked, adding that Hizbullah was a threat to “all the Israeli schemes, plans and projects against Lebanon.”

Abu Muqawama explains why he believes Hizbullah has overreached in the Egyptian affair. Egypt is cracking down.

Damascus Stock Exchange plans to widen the 2 percent share-price limit: Damascus Exchange Trading Volume to Stay Limited Until End 2009
2009-04-13 – By Nadim Issa

April 13 (Bloomberg) — The Damascus Securities Exchange won’t have major trading volume until the end of 2009 because of the limited number of listed companies and investors, said Mohammad al-Jleilati, chief executive officer of the bourse.

Volume will remain low until the exchange reaches around 20 listed companies compared with seven now traded, al-Jleilati said by phone from Damascus. Less than 200 investors have opened accounts with brokers in Syria since the exchange started trading, he added.

The exchange, which started trading shares March 10 and is open twice a week, has since struggled to attract liquidity. Brokerages say the share fluctuation limit, set at 2 percent per trading day, has curtailed volume and are hoping the regulation will be revised.

The DSE planned to widen the 2 percent share-price trading band as soon as market conditions permit, al-Jleilati said.

“There is no problem with the trading limit since the listed companies are witnessing a rise in their prices every trading day,” Jleilati said. “None has declined since the opening of the bourse.”

He added that shareholders also are unlikely to sell their holdings until they collect dividends approved at general shareholder meetings in March and April, further limiting trading.

Four companies rose today to the limit of their trading band, while Bank of Syria & Overseas, Bank Audi-Syria and Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi didn’t trade. The value of shares traded in the ten transactions executed on the four companies reached 925,690 Syrian pounds ($19,800), according to the exchange’s daily bulletin.

Can the US put Pressure on Israel? Stephen Walt in FP.

“….This idea appears to be gaining ground. Several weeks ago, a bipartisan panel of distinguished foreign policy experts headed by Henry Siegman and Brent Scowcroft issued a thoughtful report calling for the Obama administration to “engage in prompt, sustained, and determined efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Success, they noted, “will require a careful blend of persuasion, inducement, reward, and pressure…” Last week, the Economist called for the United States to reduce its aid to Israel if the Netanyahu government continues to reject a two-state solution. The Boston Globe offered a similar view earlier this week, advising Obama to tell Netanyahu “to take the steps necessary for peace or risk compromising Israel’s special relationship with America.” A few days ago, Ha’aretz reported that the Obama Administration was preparing Congressional leaders for a possible confrontation with the Netanyahu government. .. [he provides a number of ways to pressure Israel]

Imad Moustapha’s interview on CNN this week:Embedded video from CNN Video

Jerusalem Post: Syrian envoy prefers Lieberman to Livni. 2009-04-12

LEBANON-SYRIA: Wretched conditions for Syrian workers: Syrians in Lebanon remain the last unregulated labour force
By Brooke Anderson

BEIRUT, 13 April 2009 (IRIN) – Rights and labour groups say almost all the estimated 300,000 Syrians working in Lebanon have no official status, often endure dangerous conditions, and earn about US$300 a month doing jobs shunned by most Lebanese.

In 2006, the Labour Ministry issued just 471 work permits to Syrian nationals, meaning the remainder worked unregistered. According to 2008 research by Beirut-based InfoPro, over 75 percent of Syrians in Lebanon work in construction, 15 percent are cleaners and bin men, and 10 percent hawkers.

About 15 percent of Syria’s workforce is in Lebanon. They often either live on the construction site where they work or share tiny flats with a dozen other workers.

René Matta, general manager of Matta Contracting, a Lebanese company whose workforce is 70 percent Syrian, said Syrian labour in Lebanon “should be more organised, so that people aren’t oppressed”…..

Many Syrians in Lebanon have been attacked, robbed, beaten and sometimes killed over the past four years.

Despite the recent opening of an embassy in Beirut, few Syrian labourers in Lebanon think their labour rights and personal safety will be protected any time soon.


“If something happened to me, who would I complain to?” asked Eide, an 18-year-old Syrian construction worker who has been living and working in Lebanon for 10 months. Eide said he lives in daily fear of attack by anti-Syrian Lebanese gangs: “It’s not unusual for Lebanese to ask for our ID cards on the street and then take our money because we’re Syrian.”….

Nadim Houry, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Beirut, … “It’s part of Lebanon’s history,” said Houry. “Syrian workers have become scapegoats because they’re perceived as weak. There is an issue of discrimination in Lebanon towards those of lower socio-economic status. They look down upon poor people from rural areas. It’s a sort of socio-economic racism.”

In its 2 January edition, Al-Akhbar, one of the few Lebanese newspapers to regularly cover the issue, reported that a Syrian worker was robbed at gunpoint by a member of the Lebanese military in civilian clothing. In late December 2008, the same newspaper reported a Syrian had been killed during a robbery near Byblos. In the same month, a Syrian worker of Kurdish origin was found hanged in his own shoe shop in Bar Elias in the Bekaa Valley, eastern Lebanon.

Many incidents go unreported. In interviews with 10 Syrian workers at construction sites throughout Beirut, all said they had been victims of robberies and occasional beatings by Lebanese; all said it had been because they are Syrian; none said they had reported the incidents to the authorities.

“I don’t have any Lebanese friends. I never have,” said one Syrian construction worker. “Why should I? They don’t like us.”

Comments (137)

Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Any reason why most of your links in this thread are pro-Hezbollah?

Borzou Daragahi, Frank Hoffman, Mohammad Raad, Stephen Walt, and Imam Moustapha.

In the interest of balance (cough) and “peace”, why not post this one, by Tony Badran?:

“Bashar Assad the peacemaker? Think again.”


April 13th, 2009, 5:03 pm


majid said:

Hassan Nasrallah clearly admits personal responsibility for conspiracy against Egypt. Egypt may soon issue a warrant for his arrest in order to answer charges against him in an Egyptian court of law. INTERPOL and Lebanese government may also be asked for help executing the warrant.


April 13th, 2009, 5:46 pm


Majid said:

Thanks AP for the link to this article. It is very informative.

With regards to your question to the Prof. about balancing his posting, have you forgotten that SC’s main objective is to package rogue states and their supporters to Western media as a seemingly acceptable norm? What do you exactly expect the Prof. to do other than what he did to fulfill his mandate?

April 13th, 2009, 6:08 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

From Qifa’s post (HZB platform):

“…(A)-Abolition of political sectarianism:
The formation of the national committee for the abolition of political sectarianism, as stipulated in the Lebanese national accord document, to commence its work and take practical actions in implementing the recommendations based on its findings.”

This is number 1 HZB’s priority. And this is the match to ignite the next
Lebanese civil war.
HZB wants to break the “glass ceiling” of (potential) 64 Muslim seats
in parliament, and to take over Lebanon’s house of representatives.
But this is expected in the 2013 elections. So we have time to preparer for that.

April 13th, 2009, 7:40 pm


Akbar Palace said:

What do you exactly expect the Prof. to do other than what he did to fulfill his mandate?


I don’t know what his “mandate” is.

Call me naive, but I have always thought a Professor (especially one who is a Co-Director, Peace Studies) should be intellectually honest.

April 13th, 2009, 8:07 pm


Majid said:

AP, I’m sure you’re being sarcastic and you know exactly what the Prof.’s “mandate” is.

AMIR IN TEL AVIV, QN’s so-called analysis is full of wishful thinking (in favor of HZB of course) and I wouldn’t even buy such analysis with a grain of salt. HZB and co. will not even maintain the same number of MP’s they currently have after June 7.
QN also misquoted Ali ibn Abi Taleb in his comment on Michael Lynk’s article. In fact there is a famous speech for Ali in which he laments the incompetence of his men in the battle. It goes something like this:”O’ semi men, and are not full men, you have filled my heart with sadness and my breast with anger. If I call upon you to fight in the summer you say wait until the heat goes away. And if I call upon you to fight in the winter you say wait until the cold goes away, etc…” After Ali lost the battle against Mu’awiya he found nothing to boast about his men’s performance except to ask Mu’awiya if he would agree to exchanging 10 of his men (Ali’s men) with one of Mu’awiya’s men (atoubadilo alwahidu bi ‘ashrin?) and do the battle all over!!!

April 13th, 2009, 8:27 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

“Hassan Nasrallah clearly admits personal responsibility for conspiracy against Egypt. ”

What a big lie.

April 13th, 2009, 9:24 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Anybody remember the “Snake Chicks”?

Yes, Syria has come a long way since then…


April 13th, 2009, 11:53 pm


majid said:

Good effort in your comment 8 AP. I wonder how Shai and Yossi would react to this.
But you have done a good job so far balancing the Prof.’s “mandate”.

April 14th, 2009, 12:21 am


Yossi said:

Majid said: I wonder how Shai and Yossi would react to this.

Response #1: The DVD cover says “no snakes were harmed in the making of the movie”…

Response #2: Looks pretty yummy on the BBQ but alas—it’s not Kosher…

Response #3: Ah, the good ‘ol days when Rifat and Hafez got along with each other, remembering those days makes a man weep…

More to come…

April 14th, 2009, 3:41 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Majid said: I wonder how Shai and Yossi would react to this…

Response #1: The DVD cover says “no snakes were harmed in the making of this movie”…

Response #2: Looks pretty yummy on the BBQ but alas—it’s not Kosher…

Response #3: I am utterly shocked and horrified by these images. A people that is capable of such cruelty will never make peace with the gentle people of Israel….

Response #4: …but when we do get peace with Syria, I’m sure Shai would love to have these snake eaters over at his place—there’s a snake problem in his area.

Response #5: The Israeli Border Guard (Mishmar Hagvul) are also known of asking their new recruits to raise puppies through basic training, and then they are required to kill them, as a way for strengthening their ruthlessness.

Response #6: I’m just back from Israel. While I was there we had a Palestinian attacking and killing a settler boy with an ax. Shai has written about this here. I then had a conversation with my father in law that went basically like this:

M (father in law, during lunch): Look at your kids, my grandchildren, they barely touched the chicken. I think that we should go back to the times when we needed to slaughter our own chicken in order to have chicken for lunch. Then people will be more respective of their food.
Y: I agree…
… (a few hours later) …
M: You know, I used to be like you, full of ideals, but let me tell you something, if the Arabs are ever going to have a chance, they will impale all of us on sticks, nothing less. I saw what the Iraqis did with our soldiers’ bodies in the Yom Kipur war—the eyes went in one bag, the ears in another, the noses in a third, etc.
Y: Going back to the chicken, I would say that the Arabs are currently like a person who, when needed, would indeed not only slaughter it with his bare hands but would actually quite enjoy the violence. We on the other hand get hundreds of those chickens shrink-wrapped for us and squeaky clean in the supermarket, so that we remain “pure”. Similarly, when our reservists made a wrong turn into Ramallah, they got slaughtered with bare hands, but when it comes to us, the pilot who kills dozens by pressing a button is totally disconnected, for his own sake, from the scene of the violence. Those who do have to perform “personal” violence, like Mishmar Hagvul and the snipers, do develop a cult of violence and cruelty, much like the “barbaric snake eating Arabs”.

In short: being barbaric at heart is a pre-requisite for performing “personal” violence which is the only vehicle of violence which is open to the Arabs as we control “technological” or detached violence, which doesn’t require such deep mental involvement.

Response #7: A few days before I returned to the US I was subjected to the daily dose of army propaganda on the TV. On that occasion, they used the format of a reality show to track the experience of four girls who volunteered to serve in an MLRS (“wracker”) battery. The MLRS system is a weapon that is most often used to cleanse wide areas using cluster bombs. I would think that almost every use of this weapon has a severe legality question hanging over it. Nothing of that in the show, we are just getting to know the cute but courageous little girls, their sacrifices and successes, etc.

So what did we have: Syrian girls who engage in a stupid display of “bravery”, to entertain the two thugs-in-chief of that time—that display was probably the peak of their “military” career vs. cute little Israeli girls who learn how to operate the MLRS system and have a good chance of actually using it at war, as was done in 2006, to indiscriminately kill and maim hundreds and thousands.

The funny thing is that with all the asymmetry between these two types of violence, one feeds the other very successfully.

April 14th, 2009, 4:45 am


Off the Wall said:

So what did we have: Syrian girls who engage in a stupid display of “bravery”, to entertain the two thugs-in-chief of that time—that display was probably the peak of their “military” career vs. cute little Israeli girls who learn how to operate the MLRS system and have a good chance of actually using it at war, as was done in 2006, to indiscriminately kill and maim hundreds and thousands


You read my mind dear friend

April 14th, 2009, 5:22 am


majid said:

I’m curious about one thing concerning the two of you. You guys seem to have dual nationalities. Shai mentioned the other day that he has two little girls. He’s obviously concerned about them. I don’t know about you Yossi, do you have any? My curious question is: How likely is it that out of concern to your kids you may decide this (Israel or the ME) is not the place I want to raise up my kids and will make a move back to the US for their sake? Think in particular before you answer of the following scenario: realizing that things are moving in the wrong direction as you wish them to go – like a tidal spread of fundamentalism in the region coupled with a tilt in the balance of military power including technological advances in favor of the Arabs or as they would more appropriately be called fundamental Muslims after the tide takes over.
AP, you’re also welcome to provide your take on this.

April 14th, 2009, 5:46 am


Majid said:

Let me clarify what the situation would look like in the proposed scenario as in my comment #12.
The Arabs, even if they would have the military advantage, would not attack Israel. But they would also not make peace with it until all their conditions are met: All the Palestinians who left since 48 will have to go back to their homes with compensation. Jerusalem will have to be under Muslim sovereignty. The Golan should be returned all the way to the 1967 borders. Palestinians will have equal rights with the other inhabitants of the land and with the government representing the people according to the demographic constitution. The present treaties with Jordan and Egypt are suspended pending the fulfillment of all the other demands. In the meantime the Palestinians living in Israel, Gaza and West Bank will receive support (moral, financial, political) from the Arabs to continue their struggle.

April 14th, 2009, 7:01 am


Akbar Palace said:

You guys seem to have dual nationalities.


I have only American citizenship. My wife and I wouldn’t mind living or retiring in Israel despite the perceived fundamentalist threat. The fruits and vegetables in Israel are to die for. The IDF has done a fine job of protecting Israelis and I’m betting they’ll continue to do so.

Just a small factual tidbit, many more Christians visit Israel than Jews. Apparently the parents of Jewish kids worry about the security situation more than Christians do.

So what did we have: Syrian girls who engage in a stupid display of “bravery”, to entertain the two thugs-in-chief of that time—that display was probably the peak of their “military” career…

Shai asked me a few weeks ago, if I thought some of these Arab countries were “primitive”. This film clip sort of answers that question. Saddam Hussein and his Baathist Utopia was another similar regime.


The Then there’s Saudi Arabia and Iran. Sudan, Egypt, where do I stop?

… vs. cute little Israeli girls who learn how to operate the MLRS system and have a good chance of actually using it at war, as was done in 2006, to indiscriminately kill and maim hundreds and thousands.

Yossi, can you please point out and show us:

1.) Which cute little Israeli girls learned to operate an MLRS system.

2.) How you know the MLRS systems were used “indiscriminately”.

3.) How you know the MLRS systems killed “thousands”.

4.) How many missiles the Lebanese lobbed into Israel, and how many of those missiles were NOT fired indiscriminately.



The funny thing is that with all the asymmetry between these two types of violence, one feeds the other very successfully.

The typical liberal dogma known as “moral equivalence.


April 14th, 2009, 11:26 am


trustquest said:

off the wall

“You read my mind dear friend”

Dear off the wall, how come yossi read your mind and when another person from your village talk the same tone you try hard to make a king out of thug.

Just I can not find words for duplicity.

April 14th, 2009, 12:11 pm


Shai said:

Wow! I’m gone for a few days, and the forum is now discussing primitive Arabs eating snakes, and cute Israelis operating the MLRS… Is it the weather, or something else? 🙂


I’ll answer your question in detail a bit later, but I’ll just say that although I can raise my children in the U.S. (I grew up there myself), my wife and I choose to stay in Israel out of the hope and belief that it can change, and that the change must be made by us, the people of Israel. I’ve long ago lost hope in our leaders (all of them), so things will have to change on the grassroots level. Of course there could be surprises (Bibi becoming a 2nd Begin, etc.), but I’m not counting on it. If I leave, and many others like me leave, then I truly will be giving up on my country. I’m not ready to do that.


Remind me again why you’re not my PR-man? 🙂 Haval al-Hazman…

April 14th, 2009, 12:46 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


( And probably Yossi too…)
As a former member of the Meretz party ( a paying party tax member,
from the age of 19, until the year 2003 ), I’m quite familiar with your
perspective. I left Meretz because my perspective (unlike yours) changed.

When will you understand that the palestinians DON’T want a state.?
For god sake…!!! Ben-Gurion and us Jews, we wanted a state.
We wanted it badly. That’s why BG was ready to accept a crummy deal.
The Jews back then were in a bad condition. The palestinians are
in a bad condition too. You would expect that their leaders would
act as BG did, and take a deal, and start to improve the poor condition
they a suffering from. But their leaders don’t do that, and are ready
to make their people suffer more. Why do you think they didn’t establish
a “palestinian state” by now? Because they are not interested..!

They want EVERY THING =or= NOTHING. And this (Shai, Yossi) you don’t get.

Now Shai, I have a few friends who stayed Meretz “oriented”.
They love Israel, but with a condition that it would be “peaceful”
as Switzerland, and green as New Zeeland… or else…

So, if you want to leave, leave. Don’t talk.

Israelis do start to understand the realities of life here.
That is why Meretz got 3 seats. And this too, is thanks to Nitzan
Horowitz, apparently.

April 14th, 2009, 1:27 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Here’s the video about the MLRS training: http://docu.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=628091&TypeID=1&sid=186

Here’s a Haaretz piece in Hebrew describing how the congress dinged Israel for using cluster bombs in a prohibited manner. It mentions that 4 million bomblets were dispersed, most of them using MLRS. I’m sure you can find similar information in English: http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/pages/ShArtPE.jhtml?itemNo=937863.

You can do the research how many were killed or maimed or WILL BE killed or maimed by leftover bomblets, I don’t have time now.

The Hizb rockets were indiscriminate too, and they contained Syrian-made metal globules that shot to a wide radius on impact, killing everybody that wasn’t sheltered. Some buildings in the beautiful German colony in Haifa and in the Bat Galim neighborhood still have bullet spray marks from 2006.

April 14th, 2009, 2:02 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You said: HZB and co. will not even maintain the same number of MP’s they currently have after June 7.

I should add your name to my must-call list of experts on Lebanese electoral politics. Please do enlighten me on which districts you think Hizbullah will lose seats in and to which competitors. I’m all ears.

QN also misquoted Ali ibn Abi Taleb in his comment on Michael Lynk’s article.

Michael who? And if I misquoted Ali b. Abi Talib, please provide me with the proper quote (with full bibliographical information of course). I am happy to provide my source: Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri, Nihayat al-arab fi funun al-adab, Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-`Ilmiyya, vol. 3, p. 214. Here is the excerpt:

وقال علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه يوم صفين ، وقد قيل له : أتقائل أهل الشام بالغداة ، وتظهر بالعشي في إزار ورداءٍ ؟ فقال : أبالموت تخوفونني ؟ فوالله ما أبالي ، أسقطت على الموت ، أم سقط الموت علي ، وقال لابنه الحسن : لا تدعون أحدا إلى المبارزة ، وإن دعيت إليها فأجب ، فإن الداعي باغٍ ، وللباغي مصرعً . وقال رضي الله عنه : ” بقية السيف أنمي عددا ”

But of course, I defer to your opinion, ya shaykh.

April 14th, 2009, 2:55 pm


Akbar Palace said:

cute little Israeli girls who learn how to operate the MLRS system and have a good chance of actually using it at war


Women soldiers in Israel do a lot of training including tank warfare.
However, I’m not aware of women soldiers actually fighting in battle in recent times. I wonder how many women in Syria train Syrian soldiers with the lastest military equipment?

Anyway, I’m not sure how this compares to the act of biting off pieces of a live snake, which, I don’t think, has anything to do with self-defence.

Also, I didn’t see anywhere in the Haaretz article showing that the MLRS system killed “thousands” of Lebanese like you claimed.

Lastly, the GOI claims the cluster bombs were used “in accordance with international law”. Maybe you know something he doesn’t.



Ehkh h’gotta l’Meretz? Be’emet!

April 14th, 2009, 2:59 pm


Akbar Palace said:

…and that the change must be made by us, the people of Israel.


You got that right (especially the dwindling Israeli liberal)!

But as usual, it’s all the Israelis fault. Never the terrorists who can’t even recognize the State of Israel.

April 14th, 2009, 3:05 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Regardless of all the positions and statements made by all concerned or interested in the ME the following is still the REALITY that must be adressed.

And the REALITY is that the contents and actions proposed under the title of, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, commonly referred to as the “Clean Break” report are still operative.

Prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then-and present Prime Minister of Israel. The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on “Israeli demands”.

According to the report’s preamble, it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.

Its somewhat comical that a group of Americans at the request of an Israeli undertake and plan what the Middle East should “look like” and to Israel’s benefit while local and or native groups efforts to articulate and fight for their own views are condemned and termed terroristic.

April 14th, 2009, 3:58 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Trust Quest

I did not see any posting from the guy from my village? Your post is the third one from that village on this thread. The one from
majedkhaldoun was even shorter than mine.

I happen to agree with Yossi on this one. Not that I do not disagree with him every once in a while. But i am one who has no problem with someone on the other side making a point that i find logical. For heaven’s sake. Don’t you see what is happening here. We get bombarded by repeated cracked record, borderline racist remarks from AP, Majid, Chris, and Amir, and we simply let them dominate the discussion to a point that it becomes their personal conversation. Are we letting others debate on our behalf. I am as guilty as anyone.

As for me making a king out of a thug. I think you are accepting AP and Majid branding this blog as a blog for the Syrian regime. I think that AP should be happy that by branding many of us this way including Prof. Landis, he and his ilks have managed to dissuade many of us from posting so that we are not to be branded as such and managed to turn these pages into their own anti syrian (people before government) propaganda. Otherwise how would you explain his invention of a racist snide topic such as he did on this thread out of nothing. It is more than obvious that someone trained AP in anti Arab propaganda.

I do not know how to explain it, and I may put my foot in my mouth trying, but you deserve my explanation, for you may have a reasonable foundation for your perception.

I try to be independent. Disliking personal politics, when a program is presented I argue it, but when the argument is nothing but a shouting match and name calling, i refuse to get involved. Sometimes the argument is merely (kalimatu 7aqq urida beha batel), and that when my buttons get pushed. Yossi’s reference to thugs was woven in a pictorial historical context. It was not the object of the argument nor was it forced to satisfy his personal anger or dislike of the two. When someone starts to drag any discussion into us vs them (Sunni vs shia, alawis and so on), I will fight tooth and nails against that argument because of my fierce secularism. Occasionally, such may appear as defense of the regime, but standing weher I am, I have no rights to be pro or against anyone except for my duty to the Syrian people whom I deeply love. By nature, and experience, I am not an optimist, but I have learned over the years that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

In all cases, thank you for holding me up to task. I will try to be less duplicitous in my next 10 posts. (Old habits die slowley). However, it would be very helpful if you can point me to an argument, other than what I described above, in which I made a king out of any thug. (BTW kings are by definition, glorified thugs) 🙂

April 14th, 2009, 4:07 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


You posed some good questions, that I cannot really answer in brief and unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time right now. I will say though that securing an alternative to Israel (via dual-citizenship) is extremely important to me as an individual since I think that there is a good chance that my kids will not be able to live there a happy life, due to a myriad of possible bad scenarios becoming true. I am not a blind patriot who is willing to “go down with the house”. Israel is a start-up, and adventure, and not at all a very well-thought-out one, even though it had many operational successes. I’m a second generation Israeli and this is really my only country as far as my psyche is concern. While I accept that I may have to abandon Israel this is not my preference. I am excited about the possibility of resolving this mess and seeing peace in my days. My loyalty is to my family, to the land, and to its people (Jews and Arabs) and not a certain political or legal constructs. These are always there to serve the people, not the other way around. I believe that the way Israel is currently defined, is a dead-end. By the way, Amir and the rest of the likudniks feel pretty much the same way, but they are reconciled to dig in and go in a big bang. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy. I am not sure that you are correct about a perfect Islamic storm awaiting all of us, neither am I certain that co-existence is impossible with Islamic regimes (see Turkey for example). I am not sure what kind of political solution is possible with the Palestinians but that may not be the question of upmost priority. The most important question is what kind of attitude and outlook the people of Israel adopt towards the Arab world—the rest follows that. At the end of the day, 5 million Jews in Israel will not be thrown into the sea, nor into gas chambers, even if Iran’s army marches down Amir’s boulevard in Tel-Aviv. Those 5 millions will learn, by hook or by crook, to live with their neighbors. The question is, do we need a nuclear war to make us realize what our fate in this region is, or can we start changing voluntarily? To illustrate, on my way to the Airport my driver was a former resident of South Africa. He left after the abolition of Apartheid since personal security deteriorated and he was worried for his safety. He said that Abolishing Apartheid was inevitable, but the people who got into power immediately after that had no idea about good governance and hence everything went down the drain. I asked him to make a corollary to Israel—if we know that Jewish majority is temporary, shouldn’t it be in our interest to develop a cadre of Arab leadership who can truly take part in power sharing, not as “collaborators” but within a national construct they can truly identify with. He said, in theory yes, but in reality, this is a religious conflict and it will not be possible. Well he could be wrong or he could be right. I want to test this out, it really isn’t any worse than any of the other options, not to mention quaint notions such as “justice” and “equality”.

April 14th, 2009, 4:23 pm


Majid said:

It is not HZB which will lose seats. It is Aoun. I would only make predictions (which I wouldn’t normally be inclined to make unless faced with a clear nonsense like in your articles). I would rather wait until after June 7 instead of spinning a wishful thinking into a seemingly “fine” analysis (read mis-analysis) as the Prof. of OU remarked. Hell, I could go directly to the so-called Beirut Center of Research (a known HZB propaganda spinning machine) and get more direct dose of the HZB line of thinking!!!
Your quote of Ali in your article is out of context with the article. You were referring in your article to the fact that a minority political bloc was able to prevent a majority from ruling by the use of force – a clear negation of democratic principles of governance. Not only this, you were gleeful at the fact that they (HZB) got away with it once (I’m sure they know now there is no repeat for their May 7 fiasco). So what’s the use of elections if force will eventually decide the outcome? You were trying to draw parallel with the saying of Ali which you pasted in Arabic above but transliterated in your website. In other words you were trying to say that Ali’s saying that the swords are more effective than numbers would justify the use of force in Lebanon the way HZB did. At least, HZB would consider the saying a point of reference for their previous as well as future actions. I was correcting your perception of the incompetence of Ali’s men and not to the actual saying of Ali. Numbers only come into the picture when you have men (more than one). No one doubts that Ali was himself valiant in battle. His reference to the swords in your saying refers to himself and not to others, like his men, who more or less put him down in the final showdown, as it was made clear from his famous speech.

April 14th, 2009, 4:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:

If I may, I’d like to responsd to Yossi’s post to Majid:

By the way, Amir and the rest of the likudniks feel pretty much the same way, but they are reconciled to dig in and go in a big bang. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

How is leaving Gaza “digging in”? Likudniks are very much for the concept of “land for peace”. Just not at any price.

Those 5 millions will learn, by hook or by crook, to live with their neighbors.

They’re doing a better job than the “yafeh nefesh”. One could point out that the Meretz liberals live furthest from the Arabs than the Likudniks, where many live in mixed neighborhoods or near Arab villages. The point is, once again, only Israelis need to “learn” to live with Arabs, not the other way around.

Well he could be wrong or he could be right. I want to test this out…

You will, once the Knesset fills slowly with Arab MKs. Either the government will work together or it wont, but it isn’t solely a Jewish Israeli choice.

April 14th, 2009, 4:42 pm


Majid said:

Thanks YOSSI for the very thoughtful and enlightening answer. I hope things will go well.

April 14th, 2009, 4:45 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


It is not HZB which will lose seats. It is Aoun. I would only make predictions (which I wouldn’t normally be inclined to make unless faced with a clear nonsense like in your articles).

If you read a little closer, you’d see that I’m fully expecting Aoun to lose seats. I guess you don’t read the articles that make sense, just the ones full of nonsense?

Your quote of Ali in your article is out of context with the article. You were referring in your article to the fact that a minority political bloc was able to prevent a majority from ruling by the use of force – a clear negation of democratic principles of governance. Not only this, you were gleeful at the fact that they (HZB) got away with it once

Seriously, what are you talking about? Go back and re-read the article, and take off the “let-me-hear-what-I-want-to-hear” headphones.

I was talking about the cult of Nasrallah and how he has become a mythic figure to many. Obviously not to everyone: not to me, not to you, and not to many others. The article is not about what ONE person (me) thinks but what millions of others think. That’s right: there are other people in the world.

As for your interpretation of his line, it’s completely off, or at least completely irrelevant to the point I was making. What Ali was saying is that when swords quicken within a house (and slaughter members of its family), this does not LESSEN their numbers, but, counterintuitively, it ADDS to them. This is what we saw in Lebanon after July 2006. The Hizb was targeted by Israel, Lebanon was made to suffer for Nasrallah’s miscalculation, and yet… the “family” grew. Hizbullah became even more popular. This is what I meant by the verse.

Next time I’ll provide more commentary.

April 14th, 2009, 6:06 pm


Shai said:


With all due respect, I don’t think you know what the Palestinians want any more than I do, or they do, for that matter. Some of them speak of a two-state solution. Some of a one-state. Some want the Jews gone. Because some (not all) aren’t willing to accept a “crummy deal”, a non-viable Bantustan state, that means they don’t really want a state of their own? I fail to see the logic there.

The Palestinians’ problem at the moment is both that Israel is not ready to vacate the West Bank, and that they, the Palestinians, aren’t united enough to actually create a state of their own. Until both of these issues are resolved, there’s essentially no point negotiating with anyone on the Palestinian side. I’m against negotiations with Abu Mazen, because as an Israeli-puppet, he can barely deliver the morning paper, let alone peace.

Amir, if “peaceful as Switzerland” was a necessary requirement for my living in Israel, I would have been living in Switzerland long ago. I’m sorry to inform you, but I don’t plan to ask your permission to either stay or leave.

I’m glad you left Meretz, as a tax-paying member of the party since age 19. I never belonged to Meretz, I never voted Meretz, and although I agreed with some of their agendas in the past, I certainly disagreed with much of it as well. For you information, I did not vote for Meretz in this election either. I’m sorry to hear that the word “liberal” has finally done you in. Kind of funny though, you must admit, how in the end Likud speaks against the Left, as Begin, Sharon, Netanyahu, and Olmert have, for decades, and then they do exactly what the Left has always said it would do. That’s the political absurdity in Israel. The Left cannot deliver. Only the Right can.

But if it helps you any, I’ll admit to you (but don’t tell anyone else) that I too have changed my “perspective”. I too have lost hope in the Left. In fact, I believe today there is no more Left in Israel. Even in Europe, social-democracy is being governed by conservative governments. In my country, the Left spoke one way, and acted another. It talked about peace, but encouraged settlements. It negotiated with Syria, but wasn’t bold enough to withdraw from the Golan. It talked to the Palestinians, but approved horrific military operations in Gaza and the West Bank. It courted “moderate” Arab leaders, while spreading a million cluster bombs in Lebanon. It rejected almost every Arab gesture of good-will (even the Right didn’t do that). So what good is it, that the Left included “peace” in its rhetoric, while the Likud hasn’t? And if you noticed in our last elections, the Left didn’t even include that! I happened to bump into Labor’s chief-strategist during the campaign, and asked him a few questions about why Labor is saying nothing during the Gaza operation. His answer: “Because Gaza is doing for Labor (seat-wise) what no campaign of mine ever could…”

But it is sad. It’s sad that the Right has no opposition now. And worse, since it has no agenda (the Likud was the only party whose political agenda entailed only what they won’t do), then having no opposition means no alternative agenda, meaning… no agenda whatsoever! This is your state today, Amir, whether you like it or not. Whether you like me or not. Whether you want to claim back your Meretz-taxes from age 19, or not. Today, Israel offers nothing. Not to its neighbors, and not to its citizens. Your whole being today, is being defined by what you’re NOT willing to do. You’re NOT willing to divide Jerusalem. You’re NOT willing to give back the Golan to a Syria that has relations with Iran and Hezbollah. You’re NOT willing to withdraw all the settlements from the West Bank (since the Pal’s don’t really want a state, etc.) You’re NOT willing to decide whether the West Bank is Israeli territory or not. You’re NOT willing to stop ruling over 4 million Palestinians. You’re NOT willing to give those 4 million people equal rights in Israel. You’re NOT willing to see an Iran with nuclear technology (as if anyone is asking your permission). You’re NOT willing to consider an Israel with a non-Jewish majority.

What ARE you willing to do then, Amir? Besides going on endless tirades, that is.

April 14th, 2009, 6:35 pm


Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

“But as usual, it’s all the Israelis fault. Never the terrorists who can’t even recognize the State of Israel.”

You sound like my youngest daughter. She’s not good at concentrating on two things at the same time… Nor at self-criticism.

“How is leaving Gaza “digging in”? Likudniks are very much for the concept of “land for peace”. Just not at any price.”

Remember my earlier advice – always check first… The Likud was against leaving Gaza. And few if any of its members would agree with the phrase “land for peace”. Most use “peace for peace”. Maybe you understand what that means.

By the way, most Likudnicks were AGAINST giving back the Sinai (including Olmert himself), and most were AGAINST giving back the Golan, while your buddy Bibi was sending direct messages to Hafez Assad (via Lauder) back in August 1998, quite a bit to the contrary… No worries, most Likudnicks will also be AGAINST it this time around. But fortunately for Bibi, his party actually didn’t win the majority of seats in Knesset, and the party that did (Kadima) will certainly support a deal with Syria that most Likudnicks will reject.

“One could point out that the Meretz liberals live furthest from the Arabs than the Likudniks…”

I’m not sure there’s a “Meretzville” listed on Israeli maps in English that AIPAC likes to hand out (you know, the ones where the Golan and the West Bank are indicated as being part of Israel). But even if all Meretz liberals (all 3 of them) live in Herzliya Pituach or Caesarea, I would guess far more Meretz tax-payers like Amir interact with Arabs and Palestinians than Likudnicks do. Something about mutual-respect, lack of fear, refusal to accept demonization, and a real desire to live together. In the same breathe, however, Meretz voted FOR the Gaza operation. Maybe they’re much more Likud-like than you’re giving them credit for, AP. Heck, in those good ‘ole heart-warming days of December-January in Gaza, I could even see YOU voting Meretz… 🙂

April 14th, 2009, 6:57 pm


majid said:

QN said, “If you read a little closer etc…”
I don’t believe the article you linked here is the one we’re discussing.

QN said, “The article is not about what ONE person (me) thinks but what millions of others think.”

Really??? Who is QN by the way to SPEAK FOR MILLIONS? That’s an overstatement I wouldn’t dare to attribute to myself? And by the way if your site wasn’t linked by the main article of the Prof., I wouldn’t have known about it, neither about these last two articles nor the over a month old one you’re using as a brilliant prediction of June 7. Probably I didn’t make myself clear. Normally, I don’t make predictions nor do I take them seriously when made by others. But it doesn’t take a genius to see your spinning efforts, or your glee at the May 7 sad events.
The argument you used about Ali and his household could also be used by the people of Beirut against HZB and its thugs that roamed the streets of Beirut the week of May 7. Again you used Ali’s saying to justify May 7 and not as you’re here explaining, and there’s no doubt about it. It remains to be seen however, if the other fiasco of HZB (the 2006 ‘divine promise’) really made the dispossessed of Lebanon stronger or weaker, or it only served to inflate the ranks of the un-employed among them thus forcing them to seek shelter in the monthly Iranian HZB administered handouts in return for enlisting as wielders of AK47 in civilian neighborhoods that have no other use except in thuggery or intimidation.
Since we’re discussing fiascos, let’s wait and see the outcome of the latest Egyptian one which is still unfolding. Perhaps, you should become aware that the MB’s of Egypt have just come out with a strong statement in support of their government and condemning the all too powerful soldier of the “wali faqih” who seems to have the ‘divine’ always on his side with promises that are very far out of reach.

April 14th, 2009, 7:12 pm


Shai said:


I’m sorry I haven’t really answered your questions yet. But when I read Yossi’s response to you, I identify with about 99% of it, and he says it so much better than I ever could. The only difference between us at the moment, is that he’s in the U.S. and I’m in Israel. But Yossi also wants to come back, and I believe that one day he will. I also believe it’ll happen long before Israel changes “sufficiently”. He is, and will be, helping our country change.

To be perfectly honest though, can I say that if God-forbid a Hamas or Hezbollah-fired missile landed atop my house, hurting someone in my family, that I would still stay here, when I have the option to live elsewhere? Who knows. I cannot blame any Israeli that leaves after facing such a life, just as I cannot blame any Palestinian that has Canadian citizenship that has lived through Gaza in December/January of this year. Thankfully, the majority of Israelis have never experienced a Qassam, so the majority will always be here. I hope and plan to always be here as well.

My views about the Arab-Israeli conflict are identical to those of Yossi’s. While I do of course hope that much will change in the Arab world (the word “much” is an understatement), I recognize that Israel must change as well, if it is to live here in this region in peace. It is not only the Arabs that have to accept us, but indeed it is us that have to accept ourselves here as well. And to do that, we must accept that we cannot live here with total disregard to our neighbors, or to those under our rule. We cannot occupy someone else’s land, and we cannot withhold rights from any people, certainly not from those who deserve freedom no less than we do.

April 14th, 2009, 7:20 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Majid said:

That’s an overstatement I wouldn’t dare to attribute to myself?

It doesn’t sound like there IS an overstatement you’d dare not attribute to yourself. You seem to deal only in overstatements…

And by the way if your site wasn’t linked by the main article of the Prof., I wouldn’t have known about it, neither about these last two articles nor the over a month old one you’re using as a brilliant prediction of June 7.

Now you know about it. Come over and make yourself comfortable.

But it doesn’t take a genius to see your spinning efforts, or your glee at the May 7 sad events.

LOL! I wish you were around on Syria Comment back on May 7. I was probably the ONLY one here who was outraged about it. Everyone else was trying to get me to see the silver lining. Look it up.

April 14th, 2009, 7:31 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


A more recent debate on my blog about May 7 can be found here.

It would have been even more interesting had you been around to express your opinion, as it diverges from that of most of the others.

Subscribe to the RSS feed if you can stomach the nonsense, and join in on the comment boards. It will liven things up.

April 14th, 2009, 7:44 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Amir ya Efendi,

I’m sorry to hear about your disillusionment with Meretz. I personally never supported that party and I agree with AP that it probably contains the most Arab haters. The truth is that Zionist democracy is simply an oxymoron. The right is understanding that and is throwing “democracy” down the drain. The left has yet to wake-up, but when it will, it will throw “Zionism” down the drain or re-brand it to mean “chocolate chip ice cream” or something else that has nothing to do with the original supremacist ideology that Zionism is.

This PDF file from Gush Shalom may help a little bit in understanding how Meretz and “Peace Now” were actually causing more confusion than clarity. http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/downloads/truth/Truth_Eng.pdf

April 14th, 2009, 8:30 pm


majid said:

Thanks Shai for the feedback.

April 14th, 2009, 11:36 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

OTW, (Alex,)

If you think that AP and co. have crapped out this place, what other way can we use to do something constructive? I think that Internet forums by their nature make people be more argumentative than when they are when they try to achieve a given concrete task. Maybe we all need homework assignments!

April 14th, 2009, 11:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The Likud was against leaving Gaza


The Likud has been against most agreements. Under Likud administrations, the GOI first attended the Madrid conference and signed the Wye River agreement.

Of course, just because the Likud was against most of the peace agreements doesn’t mean they were against peace, and frankly, most of Israel’s agreements have been chocked full of holes.


The sole notion I like about the Likud is “reciprocity”. A novel term most Israel haters don’t like to discuss.

If you think that AP and co. have crapped out this place, what other way can we use to do something constructive?


I’m just trying to stay on par with our Peace Co-Director and discuss ways of creating a peaceful ME. Apparently, the concensus here is simple: Get rid of Israel.

April 15th, 2009, 1:18 am


Shai said:


You’re getting into another neocon-style paranoia. If there was some consensus here, hidden or blunt, to “Get rid of Israel”, would you or I be here? While I agree that paranoia has often helped us survive as a minority, it’s time Israelis and Israel-lovers stop fearing our existence so much. It’s really impossible to wipe Israel off the map, not with an Iranian nuke, nor with forum comments on SC.

(p.s. My comment about Gaza referred to your mentioning it in the same breath with the Likud, as if Likud supported it. It didn’t, and therefore your example was misleading.)

April 15th, 2009, 4:26 am


Akbar Palace said:

If there was some consensus here, hidden or blunt, to “Get rid of Israel”, would you or I be here?

Sure. Dafka, ze lama ani po. Why are you here, Shai? Let me guess, to explain to the peaceful Arabs here why Israel commits the “sin” of self-defence?

It’s really impossible to wipe Israel off the map, not with an Iranian nuke, nor with forum comments on SC.


I’m glad you’re so confident. I’m not so sure. It could very well be a nuke. Judging from Iranian actions is the past and present, the theocracy there puts very little price tag not only on their own people, but also on those outside their country, including the Palestinian “martyrs”.

Any regime that throws tens of thousands of children directly to a war front doesn’t think like you or I.


Moreover, it may not take a nuclear war to destabilize Israel. It could be missiles falling into Israel from several fronts like we saw in Lebanon, Gaza and who knows where else. We may see missiles of greater accuracy and higher fire power.

It would be stupid for Israel not to plan for the worst.

Paranoia? Yes, some Jews, to me, are somewhat paranoid. Perhaps most of these people live outside of Israel, some, indeed, are Israeli. I can understand their paranoia. Israel has had many ugly battles to fight, some recently, all with world scrutiny, and few won conclusively.

Should Israel pre-empt and hit Iran w/o hard proof the Iranians have a nuclear weapon? Personally, I would hit Iran just for the fact they are arming Hamas and the Hizzies, against UNSC resolutions.

April 15th, 2009, 11:27 am


Shai said:

AP: “Personally, I would hit Iran just for the fact they are arming Hamas and the Hizzies, against UNSC resolutions.”

That says it all, doesn’t it.

Not even ten Iranian nukes would destroy the state of Israel. Your paranoia is, for you, an addiction. You need it to survive. You cannot sleep well at night, if you don’t fear your existence as a Jew, and Israel’s as a Jewish-state. You fear “falling asleep at the guard”, so you stay paranoid. You justify others’ paranoia, and hence your own. But it is still paranoia. And it’s also the basis for your self-fulfilling prophecies.

April 15th, 2009, 1:34 pm


EHSANI2 said:

“Israel has had many ugly battles to fight, some recently, all with world scrutiny, and few won conclusively.Should Israel pre-empt and hit Iran w/o hard proof the Iranians have a nuclear weapon? Personally, I would hit Iran just for the fact they are arming Hamas and the Hizzies, against UNSC resolutions.”

The above comment is the height of both arrogance and naivety (not a good combination to be sure).

To think that Israel was somehow going to live in harmony, peace and tranquility given its short history is the ultimate naivety.

To also call for hitting Iran and anyone else that dares question the right of Israel to live happily hereafter after its stellar recent record (measured in decades) is also the ultimate arrogance.

April 15th, 2009, 1:53 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Not even ten Iranian nukes would destroy the state of Israel.


What do you base that statement on? I don’t think the GOI is willing to absorb 1 nuclear missile before responding in kind. Just my POV.

To think that Israel was somehow going to live in harmony, peace and tranquility given its short history is the ultimate naivety.

Eshani2 –

Judging from the peace treaties already signed and Israel’s participation in a peace process with the Palestinians, how is that “naivety”?

To also call for hitting Iran and anyone else that dares question the right of Israel to live happily hereafter after its stellar recent record (measured in decades) is also the ultimate arrogance.

Eshani2 –

Iran’s threats against an established member of the UN (Israel) are more than a “question”. They are just what they are, “threats”.

Moreover, Iran, specifically, is not complying with UNSC resolutions regarding their prolifieration of their nuclear capability and they’re supplying sophisticated weapons to terror organization.

What you (or Shai) regard as “arrogance” (or “paranoia) would not be taken lightly by any other countries under such a threat.

Of course, I’m not here to convince you or to change your mind. I’m just here to explain to you why Israel will probably attack Iran, why Israel attacked in June 1967, why Israel bombed Osirak under Saddam Hussein, why Israel attacked a “military facility” in the Syrian desert, why the US attacked Iraq after 17 UNSC resolutions, and why the US almost attacked Cuba during Kennedy’s presidency (Russia and the US withdrew their missiles from Cuba and Turkey, respctively).



April 15th, 2009, 2:58 pm


EHSANI2 said:

It is so touching to see that people care about compliance to the UNSC resolutions.

April 15th, 2009, 3:05 pm


Off the Wall said:

Moreover, it may not take a nuclear war to destabilize Israel. It could be missiles falling into Israel from several fronts like we saw in Lebanon, Gaza and who knows where else. We may see missiles of greater accuracy and higher fire power.

Now that was a duplicitous (thanks to TQ, I learned a new word) argument. It does not speak well of the internal strength of Israeli society, or better yet, of your perception of that strength. Not even the crusader principalities on the Syrian coast including those in Palestine received so many guarantees from their European backers as Israel receives today. No state in the region, since ancient times had so much power, and as much impunity, and yet you continue to promulgate a siege mentality while living thousands of miles away with negligible or no real risk. It seems that you are less committed to Israel and to the safety of its citizens than you are committed to a mythical project, which if it continues shaping on the model of your dreams, will be doomed from the inside. You argue that the Arabs must face reality, but you yourself refuse to face it even when it stares you in the face. Israel as it stands today is not sustainable. As long as you perceive the emergence of any strong state in the region as a direct threat to you, and as long as you continue to advocate the theft of land by settlers, the killing and maiming of civilians, and the subjugation of a natioin, you will continue to live in fear. Iran is entitled by its size, its history, and the efforts of its people to be much more influential than Israel in the region. Whether it is ruled by the Shah or the Mullas, or as a true liberal democracy, Iran will progress to a point when its weight parallels and perhaps exceeds that of Turkey. Egypt should have arrived at a similar point had it not been for the outright theft of its ruling elites and for a culture of menacing subservience born out of abject poverty and protected by alliances between ignorant religious establishment and the succession of ruling classes.

You had nearly seventy years to establish your country, not only by your own efforts, but heavily subsidized and protected by the most powerful countries on earth against their own real pragmatic interests. And yet you have failed miserably to achieve the lowest level of mental security even the poorest of the poor countries can boast. Reality is that Israeli citizens live. Economically they are better off than most of their neighbors, militarily, they have the strongest, best equipped army in the region, notwithstanding that the strongest army in the world who will stop at nothing to protect them. And most importantly, they majority of them enjoy freedoms that are yet to be achieved by their neighbors. By all measures, that should be viewed as a success. Yet you paint that as very fragile existence. You obviously know something you are not acknowledging. Either you believe that they do not have the right to their status, and you believe like your adversaries that they are not entitled to that for one reason or another, or you do not trust that they will be able to withstand external pressure and they will leave in droves and by that shatter your dreams. A third alternative would be that you correctly recognize that the old dream of driving the Palestinians into the desert, is not, and will never be achieved, and by that the pure state, which you view as the only acceptable manifestation of your dream will never come to be. In either case, you acknowledge that the foundation of their current Israeli arrangement is wrong and unsustainable, but you can’t let go of a still-born exclusive Utopia built on subjugation of the others. I thought blaming the others was an Arab thing, but you continue to demonstrate a superb capacity for blaming others for your own flaws and for not disappearing or dying off. The solution is out there. Arguably, it has been from day one and more so in recent years. But I guess you miss no opportunity to screw up an opportunity.

April 15th, 2009, 3:18 pm


Off the Wall said:

Some of your Arab neighbors, as well as others around the world, question the value of Israeli democracy as they witness Israel being driven into failing military adventures one after another by a very small minority of settlers. They have been shaping Israel’s image and her policies (both internal and external) for seventy years. Isn’t it time for a revolt against the zealots.

April 15th, 2009, 3:33 pm


Akbar Palace said:

It is so touching to see that people care about compliance to the UNSC resolutions.

Eshani2 –

I agree, however, keep in mind, only UNSC resolutions are bnding, depending on the language.

Despite that, many rogue states fail to comply with UNSC resolutions.

OTOH, the UN is full of resolutions that are mostly non-binding under international law, as far as I understand it.

I’ll have to ask Hillary;)

OTW states:

…and yet you continue to promulgate a siege mentality while living thousands of miles away with negligible or no real risk…

I don’t think I or the GOI or “paranoid Jews” have created “a siege mentality” on our own. I think the very real experience Israel has had over her 60 years of existence has caused this perceived “seige mentality”.

IOW, when Gazans fire missiles into Israel for 8 years and Israel finally responds forcefully, the Gazans accuse the Israelis of a “siege mentality”. I don’t know about you, but I find that accusation absurd.

This is just one example of many.

It seems that you are less committed to Israel and to the safety of its citizens than you are committed to a mythical project…

You lost me. What do you mean here?

You argue that the Arabs must face reality, but you yourself refuse to face it even when it stares you in the face.


Which reality do I refuse to face?

As long as you perceive the emergence of any strong state in the region as a direct threat to you…

Any country who perceives a direct threat deals with it, often militarily. There are PLENTY of “strong states” in the region including Turkey, Egypt, etc who do not threaten Israel’s existence.

And yet you have failed miserably to achieve the lowest level of mental security even the poorest of the poor countries can boast.

So what are you complaining about; you should be elated. Or, maybe we’re imagining all this, and our “mental security” concerns are due to some onset of schizophrenia.;)

What do you believe OTW? Do you think Israel’s security is “good” or do you think is really the “poorest of the poor”?

Yet you paint that as very fragile existence.

Yes, I believe it is a fragile existence. That is my POV, especially in view of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Without Iran’s nuclear ambitions, I think Israel would be pretty secure, and the GOI could handle any other recent threat.

A third alternative would be that you correctly recognize that the old dream of driving the Palestinians into the desert, is not, and will never be achieved, and by that the pure state, which you view as the only acceptable manifestation of your dream will never come to be.

I’m not aware of a “dream of driving the Palestinians into the desert” (now maybe you are “paranoid”) nor of a desire for “pure state”, nor of a Utopia. We Jews know such things don’t exist. Call it experience.

But I guess you miss no opportunity to screw up an opportunity.

Where have I heard that before?

April 15th, 2009, 3:55 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I’m glad you’re so confident. I’m not so sure. It could very well be a nuke. Judging from Iranian actions is the past and present, the theocracy there puts very little price tag not only on their own people, but also on those outside their country, including the Palestinian “martyrs”.

Poor Akbar, you seem to forget that Israel is a theocracy. As the ADL paper you referred some time ago “proves” that Jews are no race (or nation), but they are followers of Judaism. Page 28 in the ADL document you pointed out and ADL is the “highest” authority about the subject. Akbar in the world are more Mormons than Jews. Should Mormons, who are an equal “nation” as the Jews, have their own country in New York state where the book of Mormon was “found” by Joseph Smith?

Surely the hundreds of ready nukes in the hands of so dangerous racist individuals as Bibi and Moldavian Lieberman are more dangerous than the potential nukes in the hands of Iranians.

Why on earth should Iran nuke Israel? Everybody with some brains can make the conclusion that Israel is on the one way path of destroying itself. Arabs and Iranians do not need nukes for “erasing” Israel, the Israeli Jews and their supporters take care of it. The Likud’s political thesis you referred above do not offer any real Israeli solutions for the “peace”. No two state solution, no one state solution, no equality for non Jews. Does any body in Israel (and in USA) seriously believe that with these Likud’s demands there can be a peace and good neighbour relations? The Zionist state is committing a slow suicide in front of our eyes. If and when Israel is forced back to the 67 borders the internal racism and differences among the Jewish “nation” take eventually care of the rest. No Arab or Iranian missiles are needed in that process.

For the world the region’s big countries like Turkey and Iran are much more “interesting” than the problem creating mini state is. That can be seen from the new US president’s visiting order and diplomatic openings.

By the way Akbar why are the Israeli ministers not any more travelling abroad? Before they were circulating around the world like flies, but not any more. Has the new foreign minister stepped out of Israel? Well he does it daily, if he is not in the police’s interrogation room, when he goes to his settlement home. A “strange” FM isn’t it Akbar, he visits nobody and nobody visits him. Seems that the long waited isolation of Israel has begun.

Steve Walt
Can the United States put pressure on Israel?: A user’s guide

April 15th, 2009, 3:58 pm


majid said:

I don’t understand why you guys are talking about nukes or military powers. When it comes to nukes, they are available to both camps even as we speak and in sufficient numbers. Nukes are for deterrence – that is the best use for nukes in my opinion. All the bravado talk about actually firing them is nonsense and AP knows that very well. But he urgently needs to feel good – invincible kind of thing which could also be like a goose burying its head in the sand. I would advise AP that an Arab would be the first to fire in this case and AP knows exactly why. The scenario I outlined in my comments 12 and 13 is the perfect one to cause a slow but sure death to the State of Israel, if it doesn’t realize that it currently stands at crossroads like a middle aged man moving into old age with only one possible outcome – six feet under. This is exactly how the Muslims destroyed the crusaders thousand years ago. They gave them a period of about two centuries and there were peace treaties between them until they (the crusaders) consumed their zeal and then finally Salah Din dealt them his final coup de grace. It is happening all over again and Israel does not need two centuries for that matter. As SH pointed out the Arabs don’t need to fight Israel.
I admire your optimism Shai, but AP has reasons for his paranoia. It is a myth that IDF is capable of defending Israel. It is also a myth that it is even the strongest military in the region. However, it is a myth that urgently needs to be believed by zealots in order to balance the feeling of paranoia. Otherwise, it will be an unbearable state of existence. Israel’s military performance has been in steady decline since its invasion of Lebanon. The peak of its performance occurred in 1973 which at best was a tie. Lebanon’s invasion exposed Israel to a new kind of warfare and new lessons were drawn by both camps. Sure, Israel succeeded initially in reaching all the way to Beirut. But who was expecting tiny Lebanon to be a match to Israel’s army? What happened afterwards was what broke the back of the camel and the arrogance of both architects of the war – Sharon and Begin. Begin was caused to die a slow death (politically) as a result of this invasion. And the same thing happened to Sharon (last time I heard about him he was in coma. Is he still in that state?). One statement made by Begin during the siege of Beirut revealed the deranged state of mind he was in. He said to the effect that as I bombard Beirut (day and night), I feel that I’m fighting Hitler while he is bunkered down in his bunker. Obviously Begin did not grow his Auschwitz experience!! As for the US, it is only a matter of time before Israel becomes a liability not knowing whether it is actually an asset at the moment.
In addition AP is well aware that the Zionist dream is spent ammunition. If Israel’s fruits and vegetables are worth dying for (AP comment # 15), then I’m sure you can equally find good fruits and vegetables if not better in other places like Peru for example. So Israel is no longer the land of milk and honey and it is facing a time bomb which it has refused to acknowledge since it was created hoping it will somehow be swept away under the carpet.

As for the siege mentality Israel put itself in, I believe this a psychological trait in its collective consciousness left over from the long centuries the ancestors of the present Jews of Israel had to endure in Europe. I recall attending a lecture for a NY lawyer by the name of Dr. Lilienthal who was an ex-Zionist. His philosophy does not differ much from a known Israeli (Avnery) who was calling for the creation of the Semitic nation in the Middle East (I personally don’t believe it is feasible). In his criticism of Israel he used to refer to it as the last living ghetto of the modern age.

April 15th, 2009, 5:10 pm


Off the Wall said:

Any country who perceives a direct threat deals with it, often militarily. There are PLENTY of “strong states” in the region including Turkey, Egypt, etc who do not threaten Israel’s existence.

Two answers in one. Good one.

First, perceived and hyped threats are your prerogative. But the neocon’s notion of dealing with these threats the way you do, is both legally and morally unacceptable.

Second. Agree with you on Turkey, who is a NATO member, and by that is obliged to follow NATO’s declared commitment to the security of Israel. But the notion that Egypt is now a strong country is laughable. Had Egypt been a strong country, your planes that bombed the Sudanese caravan would have been blown out of the sky. Had Egypt not been reduced to your satellite state by its rulers, the Israeli ambassador and ours as well would have been publicly chided and perhaps asked to leave the country after Condi and Livnie signed a bilateral agreement regarding Egypt’s borders with Gaza.

Finally, i sure hope that you are not considering Jordan in your etc of “plenty” of strong countries.

So what are you complaining about; you should be elated. Or, maybe we’re imagining all this, and our “mental security” concerns are due to some onset of schizophrenia.;)

You are wrong, why would I be elated if my mother’s neighbor is a paranoid schizophrenic with Nuclear weapon. I have no interest in killing the neighbor, nor do I have interest in expelling her/him out of his/her house as long as she/he does not go on rampage paranoid fits backed by the richest strongest guy in town, and with the cops turning their eyes the other way. The problem is that this schizophrenic neighbor continues to suffocate my cousins insisting on driving them out of whatever rooms they are left with from their big home and continues to insist on taking more and more rooms because he/she are afraid that my cousins, may at some point in time demand a say in what to be done with the big house. So you see, Israel’s mental health is a real threat to the safety and security of the neighborhood.

What do you believe OTW? Do you think Israel’s security is “good” or do you think is really the “poorest of the poor”?

I think the security of any country should not come at the expense of the livelihood of others. It has been your choice to tie Israel’s security to the continuing oppression of the Palestinians and occupation of others’ lands. It is not my choice. So grow up and stop blaming others for the results of your greed, historical shortsightedness, and overblown sense of entitlement.

Physically, Israel is secure, and all the talk about Iranian threat is merely an excuse for the pursuit of a sick dream where Israel can continue to enjoy impunity in manners that its security is not guaranteed by its actions as a good neighbor, but by its dominance as the region’s bully.

I’m not aware of a “dream of driving the Palestinians into the desert” (now maybe you are “paranoid”) nor of a desire for “pure state”, nor of a Utopia. We Jews know such things don’t exist. Call it experience.

Now you are denying history, nothing new in that.

Where have I heard that before?

It was either Barak or Netanyahu, whose snide comment about Palestinians in fact was more accurate representation of Israel than of Palestinians and Arabs.

April 15th, 2009, 5:49 pm


Alex said:

I love Iran.

Despite Iran being as much of bad news for the Middle East as Israel and Saudi Arabia, but Iran is perhaps the only way Israel will learn a badly needed lesson.

Israeli tough guys will continue to dream of destroying Iran, and hopefully they will continue to realize that it is not doable.

Iran’s arrogant and hostile attitude towards Israel is a mirror of Israel’s arrogance and symbolically (not in number of its casualties the past ten years) similar to Israel’s hopelessly aggressive nature.

The lesson will end in one of two ways

1) Israel will attack Iran … the two of them (with the help of others) will kill and destroy to the best of their abilities. Then we will have peace.

2) Israel will not attack, but will learn to live with and let live … with Iran at least.

As I said before … the most dangerous countries in the Middle East are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel … the Shiite, Sunni, and Jewish citadels. These three caused most of the damage while they were busy empowering or defending their respective tribes.

April 15th, 2009, 6:05 pm


majid said:

“As I said before … the most dangerous countries in the Middle East are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel … the Shiite, Sunni, and Jewish citadels”

Therefore, the Middle East is very dangerous – A very simple conclusion. Do not forget to add Syria to the trio.

April 15th, 2009, 6:42 pm


Shai said:


You said: “So Israel is no longer the land of milk and honey and it is facing a time bomb which it has refused to acknowledge since it was created hoping it will somehow be swept away under the carpet.”

I couldn’t agree with you more. But the “paranoia” that AP is experiencing is the wrong paranoia. His is based on $10-rockets fired out of the open-air prison called Gaza, and out of belligerent statements (and I agree with Alex, which mirror Israel’s behavior) coming out of the current Iranian president. AP thinks it is Israel that is under siege, not the Palestinian people.

If Israel will be destroyed (even though I’m not sure I can conceive of such a thing – what does it mean?), it will happen from within. The absence of any solution (2-state, 1-state, no-state) with continued expansion of West Bank settlements will, within a decade or two, create an impossible situation which is almost certain to explode violently. 4 million Palestinians, the rest of the Arab world, and the rest of the World, will not accept this Israeli-Apartheid for long. Neither, I believe, will many Israelis. So indeed the stable existence of Israel depends more on Israelis than on Hamas or Iran. AP does not understand this. He translates that sentence into justified, ongoing preemptive strikes against anyone and everyone that is deemed a threat to Israel. Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2008/9, Syria, Iraq, Iran, are all legitimate. Killing thousands is justified, since AP calls it “self-defense”.

April 15th, 2009, 7:31 pm


Majid said:

SHAI said, “I couldn’t agree with you more. But the “paranoia” that AP is experiencing is the wrong paranoia. His is based on $10-rockets fired out of the open-air prison called Gaza,”

Shai you and I are actually saying the same thing. The $10 rocket is of course militarily ineffective. But to AP it is a different logic. The rocket is causing damage in two ways. It is reminding the world of a problem. It is also causing the slow death of a dream or as he would consider an ideal. So in his logic it makes perfect sense to pre-empt it

April 15th, 2009, 7:51 pm


Shai said:


“I don’t think the GOI is willing to absorb 1 nuclear missile before responding in kind. Just my POV.”

No nation on earth is “willing to absorb” 1 nuclear missile, or 50. But to suggest that Israel would be destroyed if God-forbid an Iranian, or a N. Korean, or an Al Qaeda nuke would go off in the heart of Tel-Aviv, is ignorance and false.

Israel’s command and control will survive 1, 2, or 10 atomic blasts, and even if half a million people died (it would never reach such numbers), Israel would survive. But since Iran knows that Israel has the ability to destroy far more of Iran’s cities than it can of Israel’s, it is extremely unlikely that it will ever nuke us. If Jimmy Carter is correct, then Israel has at least 155 nuclear warheads. That’s enough to turn the entire region into one giant mushroom. No responsible leadership, that wishes to survive, will risk this outcome. This is why Egypt and Syria had very limited goals in 1973 (contrary of course to what Israel was “feeding” its own citizens and you).

OTW is right. You continue to nourish your self-made mythical project, living thousands of miles away, facing none of its consequences whatsoever. In fact, you live in far greater fear for Israel, than most Israelis do. You are bothered by $10 inaccurate dumb rockets, but not by precise $200,000 ones. You fear for Israel’s survival, but you accept the life 4 million Palestinians are living. You want to preempt war, but reject preempting peace!

What does it all come down to, AP? It’s the Shiva covers on the mirrors. Yours are still on, and you fear taking them off. That won’t help Israel, not today, not ever.

April 15th, 2009, 7:56 pm


Shai said:


Those ineffective $10 rockets are a suffocated, subjugated, and humiliated people’s last desperate form of communication. As they’ve said themselves, the only thing they have to lose, are the shackles on their hands and feet.

Why AP cannot see that, and instead chooses to see in the Qassams an existential threat to Israel, is beyond me. I have no training in Psychology, and cannot explain that psychosis.

April 15th, 2009, 8:02 pm


majid said:

Shai, you still didn’t get it. For AP, those rockets constitute EXISTENTIAL threat even more than nukes. They are PRE-EMPTING a dream that he can no longer sell to POTENTIAL dreamers – the land of milk and honey thing. Please give him some credit by understanding his logic because you will be able to deal with him easier.

April 15th, 2009, 8:19 pm


Shai said:

Ya Majid,

I understood the part about “the dream”. I don’t understand the psychosis (or “logic” as you called it) that leads one to create such a rosy dream, if it can only exist in a vacuum, and not in reality.

April 15th, 2009, 8:32 pm


Majid said:

Shai, you also got the thing about Egypt and Syria 1973 war wrong. Egypt had quite few nukes positioned in Alexandria during the war supplied by the Soviets as a measure of good will towards Egypt because the Soviets knew their days were numbered in the Middle East. The nukes were put under Egyptian military control to be used if an Israeli nuclear threat becomes apparent. There is a book written by the head of the Egyptian army at the time and he explains this. The Soviets were trying to gain good will from the Arabs who were constantly accusing them of supplying them with outdated technology. Sadat had a far sighted vision of what he really wanted to accomplish out of the war. He wanted to prepare the groudworks for his famous visit to Jerusalem. So the war aim for him was to break the psychological barrier and get on with peace. I don’t blame him for that.

April 15th, 2009, 8:36 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


This is interesting. I read the Shazli book (bet you didn’t know it was translated into Hebrew…) but I don’t remember this detail.

April 15th, 2009, 8:44 pm


majid said:

YOSSI, It is in the book by Haykal, Road to Ramadan. Haykal quotes Shazli about this. Shazli never denied it when the book came out. The book was also translated to English.

OK, SHAI not understanding the creation of the dream is a different story. And that is probably the crux of the problem.

April 15th, 2009, 8:52 pm


majid said:

I found this article today and I was struck how accurate it is and how closely it follows the same thread we have been discussing recently. Unfortunately it is in Arabic and very long. I have no time to translate it. So it’ll only be of use to Arab speakers. It would be of great help to AP if someone could produce an accurate translation. The writer is Egyptian and it is written in a typical Egyptian style combining comedy with current issues. In effect, what AP saw on his last trip to the region, and what Shai and others know, is already common knowledge to the average Arab. It is currently available in Arab media

مقال للمسيري لم ينشر: عندما تتحول الصهيونية إلى نكتة

عبد الوهاب المسيري
الصهيونية في جوهرها هي حركة لتخليص أوروبا من الفائض البشري اليهودي (Jewish surplus ) عن طريق نقله من أوروبا وتوطينه في أية منطقة خارجها، وقد استقر الرأي على أن تكون فلسطين هي هذه المنطقة نظراً لأهميتها الإستراتيجية، وارتباطها في الوجدان الغربي باليهود.
وحتى يتم تجنيد الجماهير اليهودية وتسهيل عملية نقلهم، خدعهم الغرب بقوله إنهم سيذهبون إلى أرض بلا شعب، وإنه إن وُجد فيها شعب سيكون من السهل إبادته أو نقله أو استعباده كما حدث في التجارب الاستيطانية الإحلالية الأخرى.
وبالفعل فُتحت أبواب فلسطين للهجرة الاستيطانية اليهودية التي كانت تحميها قوة الاحتلال البريطانية. وتم إعلان الدولة الصهيونية العام 1948، وتصور المستوطنون أنهم كسبوا المعركة ضد السكان الأصليين. ولكن بعد بضع سنوات قليلة من الهدوء بدأت المقاومة الفلسطينية النبيلة بشكل فردي ثم ظهرت فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية الواحدة تلو الأخرى، وراحت تطور من قدراتها تدريجياً إلى أن وصلت إلى إنتاج الصواريخ وتحسين أدائها.
ومن الطريف أنه نظراً لبساطة هذه الصواريخ وبدائيتها، فإن الرادارات الإسرائيلية غير قادرة على رصدها، ولذا ظهرت نكتة في إسرائيل تقول إنه لابد وأن تزود إسرائيل المقاومة الفلسطينية بصواريخ سكود حتى يمكن للرادارات الإسرائيلية أن ترصدها.
وتدريجياً بدأ الإسرائيليون يشعرون أن انتصاراتهم العسكرية لا معنى لها، وأنها لم تنجح في تحقيق السلام أو الأمن لهم (فيما سماه المؤرخ الإسرائيلي يعقوب تالمون “عقم الانتصار” مقتبساً عبارة هيجل) وأنهم خُدعوا عندما صُوِّر لهم أن عملية الاستيطان في فلسطين سهلة، وتدريجياً تنامى إحساس بالورطة التاريخية.
ولكن ماذا يمكن لهم أن يفعلوا؟ أحد الحلول هو تجاهل الورطة تماماً، وهذا ما تعبر عنه أحداث هذه القصيدة الفكاهية التي كتبها الشاعر الإسرائيلي إفرايم سيدون إبان الانتفاضة الأولى (والتي رفض التلفزيون الإسرائيلي إذاعتها).
تدور أحداث القصيدة في غرفة صالون يجلس فيه أربعة أشخاص: الأب والأم والطفل، أما رابعهم فهو الجندي الصهيوني، وبالتالي فهي خلية استيطانية سكانية مسلحة. وقد اندلع خارج المنزل حريق (رمز الانتفاضة وظهور الشعب الفلسطيني) وبدأ الدخان يدخل البيت عبر النافذة، إلا أن الأربعة يجلسون بهدوء ويشاهدون مسلسلاً تلفزيونياً ولا يكترثون بشيء. ثم ينشد الجميع:
هنا نحن جميعاً نجلس
في بيتنا الصغير الهادئ
نجلس في ارتياح جذل
هذا أفضل لنا، حقاً إنه أفضل لنا
– الأم: جيد هو وضعنا العام
– الجندي: أو باختصار.. إيجابي…
– الأب: وإذا كانت هنا جمرة تهدد بالحريق
– الأم: طفلي سينهض لإطفاء الحريق
– الأب: وإذا اندلعت هنا وهناك حرائق صغيرة
– الأم: سيسرع ابني لإطفائها بالهراوة
– الأب: انهض يا بني اضربها قليلاً
ويخاطب الأب النار فيخبرها أنها مسكينة، وأنها لن تؤثِّر فيه من قريب أو بعيد، وأنه سيطفئها في النهاية. وحينما تأكل النيران قدميه لا تضطرب الأم، فالأمر في تصورها ليس خطيراً، إذ لديه -كما تقول- “قدم صناعية” (لعلها مستوردة من الولايات المتحدة)، والوقت -كما يقول الأب- “يعمل لصالحنا”. ولكن الطفل ينطق مرة أخرى بالحقيقة المرة:
– الطفل: بابا، بابا، لقد حرقنا الوقت [الزمن]
– الأب: اسكت
– الأم: إن من ينظر حولنا ويراقب، يرى كم أن الأب لا ينطق إلا بالصدق كعادته
– الأب والأم: لقد أثبتنا للنار بشكل واضح من هو الرجل هنا ومن هو الحاكم
– الطفل: ولكن بابا… البيت…
– الأب: لا تشغلنا بالحقائق
وهذه القصيدة الفكاهية، شأنها شأن النكت، تخبئ رؤية متشائمة بشأن مستقبل المستوطنين الصهاينة الذين يستقرون في المكان وينكرون الزمان، فتحرقهم الحقيقة وهم جالسون يراقبون مسلسلاً تلفزيونياً في هدوء وسكينة، أو يستمعون إلى الدعاية الصهيونية التي تنسيهم واقعهم في رضا كامل!
ويتضح هذا الإحساس بالعبثية وفقدان الاتجاه عند الإسرائيليين في ظهور موضوع “الخوف من الإنجاب” في القصص الإسرائيلية. فمن المعروف أن الدولة الصهيونية تشجع النسل بشكل مهووس لا حباً في الإخصاب والأطفال، وإنما وسيلة لتثبيت أركان الاستعمار الاستيطاني.
ولكن من المعروف أيضاً أن معدل الإنجاب في إسرائيل من أقل المعدلات في العالم، حتى أنهم فكروا في أن يعلنوا للإنجاب عاماً يركز فيه الإسرائيليون لإنجاب أطفال أكثر. وكان رد الإسرائيليين، كما هو متوقع، سريعاً وحاسماً وملهاوياً، إذ قال أحد أعضاء الكنيست إن على رئيس الوزراء أن يعود إلى منزله فوراً للقيام بواجبه الوطني مع زوجته.
وهو بالمناسبة واجب وطني بالفعل، فكما يقول أستاذ الجغرافيا الإسرائيلي أرنون سوفير إن “السيادة على أرض إسرائيل لن تُحسَم بالبندقية أو القنبلة اليدوية بل ستُحسَم من خلال ساحتين: غرفة النوم والجامعات، وسيتفوق الفلسطينيون علينا في هاتين الساحتين خلال فترة غير طويلة”.
ومن هنا الإشارة إلى المرأة الفلسطينية النفوض، التي تنجب العديد من الأطفال، بأنها “قنبلة بيولوجية”. وتعود ظاهرة العزوف عن الإنجاب إلى عدة أسباب عامة (تركُّز الإسرائيليين في المدن-علمنة المجتمع الإسرائيلي-التوجه نحو اللذة… إلخ). لكن لا يمكن إنكار أن عدم الإنجاب إنما هو انعكاس لوضع خاص داخل المجتمع الإسرائيلي وتعبير عن قلق الإسرائيليين من وضعهم الشاذ، باعتبارهم دولة مغروسة بالقوة في المنطقة، مهددة دائماً بما يسمونه المشكلة الديموغرافية، أي تزايد عدد العرب وتراجع عدد المستوطنين اليهود.
ويعبر الإحساس العميق بالورطة التاريخية التي وجد الإسرائيليون أنفسهم فيها بهذه النكتة التي أطلقها أحد المسؤولين الصهاينة إبان احتفالات الذكرى الأربعين لتأسيس إسرائيل، إذ قال إن المشروع الصهيوني كله يستند إلى سوء فهم وخطأ، إذ كان من المفروض أن يتم في كندا بدلاً من فلسطين.
ويرجع هذا إلى تعثُّر لسان موسى التوراتي، فحينما سأله الإله أي بلد تريد؟ كان من المفروض أن يقول “كندا” على التو ولكنه تلعثم وقال “كاكاكا- نانانا” فأعطاه الإله “أرض كنعان” (أي فلسطين) بدلاً من كندا، فهاج عليه بنو إسرائيل وماجوا وقالوا له “كان بوسعك أن تحصل على كندا بدلاً من هذا المكان البائس الخرب، هذا الوباء الشرق أوسطي الذي تحيط به الرمال والعرب”. والنكتة هنا تعبِّر عن إحساس عميق بالخوف من تزايد العرب وتصاعد المقاومة وبالطريق المسدود الذي يؤدي إلى العدمية الكاملة.
وتتسم المجتمعات التي يُقال لها متقدمة بتصاعد معدلات الاستهلاك، خاصة وأن هذه المعدلات أصبحت واحدة من أهم مؤشرات التقدم. والمجتمع الإسرائيلي يقال له “متقدم” ولذا نجد أن معدلات الاستهلاك فيه عالية. ولكن المشكلة أنه أيضاً مجتمع استيطاني. والتوجه الاستهلاكي يقوض من مقدرته القتالية، لأن هذا التوجه يصاحبه توجه شديد نحو اللذة وانصراف عن المثل الأيديولوجية الاستيطانية التي تتطلب الانضباط والاستعداد العسكري والمقدرة على إرجاء الإشباع.
وقد كان المجتمع الصهيوني يتسم بهذه السمات. ولكن بعد حرب 1967 انفتحت بوابة الاستهلاكية، وهي تتزايد يوماً بعد يوم، وبدلاً من المستوطن القديم الذي كان يحمل المحراث بيد، والمدفع الرشاش باليد الأخرى، ظهر ما يطلق عليه “روش قطان” وهو الإنسان ذو المعدة الكبيرة والرأس (روش) الصغيرة (قطان) الذي لا يفكر إلا في مصلحته ومتعته واحتياجاته الشخصية، وينصرف تماماً عن خدمة الوطن أو حتى التفكير فيه.
إنه إنسان استهلاكي مادي لا يؤجل متعة اليوم إلى الغد، غير قادر على إرجاء الإشباع، فهو غير واثق تماماً من الغد، فاليوم خمر بلا شك، ولكن الغد مظلم تماماً، فينغمس في الاستهلاك، خاصة وأنه ينسيه أزمة المعنى وفقدان الاتجاه.
ولذا يقال إن سياسة الدولة الصهيونية -حسب إحدى النكات الإسرائيلية- هي تزويد جماهيرها بال T. V. C. وهي الأحرف الأولى لـ Video, and Cars وT.V. أما الشباب فيُشار له باعتباره جيل الـM T V وهي محطة الفيديو كليبات الشهيرة التي تركز على الرقص والغناء والجسد ولا تذكر العالم الخارجي من قريب أو بعيد.
كما يُشار إليه باعتباره جيل الإكسبريسو، أي الشباب الذين يجلسون على المقاهي فيشربون قهوة الإكسبريسو ولا يشغلون بالهم بالوطن القومي اليهودي ومعاركه المستمرة المختلفة. وحسب الحلم الصهيوني كان من المفروض أن تصبح إسرائيل نوراً للأمم (ذات فولت عال جداً) ولكنها أصبحت -حسب قول أحد الصحفيين الإسرائيليين- مجتمع الثلاثة ف (V): الفولفو والفيديو والفيلا.
وأشار أحد الصحفيين الإسرائيليين إلى أن الإسرائيليين يعملون مثل شعوب أميركا اللاتينية (أي لا يعملون) ويعيشون مثل شعوب أميركا الشمالية (أي يتمتعون بمستوى معيشي عال) ويدفعون الضرائب مثل الإيطاليين (أي يتهربون منها) ويقودون السيارات مثل المصريين (أي بجنون).
وقد أشار المعلق العسكري الإسرائيلي زئيف شيف إلى الاستيطان في الضفة الغربية بأنه “استيطان دي لوكس” فالمستوطنون هناك استهلاكيون وليسوا مقاتلين، يتأكدون من حجم حمام السباحة ومساحة الفيلا قبل الانتقال إلى المستوطنة.
ولذلك تشير الصحف الإسرائيلية إلى هذا الاستيطان باعتباره “الصنبور الذي لا يُغلَق أبداً” بل إنهم يشيرون إلى “محترفي الاستيطان” (بالإنجليزية: ستلمنت بروفشنالز settlement professionals) وهم المستوطنون الذين يستوطنون في الضفة الغربية انتظاراً للوقت الذي تنسحب فيه القوات الإسرائيلية ليحصلوا على التعويضات المناسبة (كما حدث في مستوطنة ياميت في شبه جزيرة سيناء).
كما يشير الإسرائيليون إلى الاستيطان المكوكي (بالإنجليزية: شاتل ستلمنت shuttle settlement) وهي إشارة للمستوطنين الذين يستوطنون في الضفة الغربية بسبب رخص أسعار المساكن وحسب، ولكنهم يعملون خلف الخط الأخضر وهو ما حوَّل المستوطنات إلى منامات يقضي فيها المستوطنون سحابة ليلهم، أي أنهم ينتقلون كالمكوك بين المستوطنات التي يعيشون فيها بالضفة الغربية ومكاتبهم التي يعملون فيها بالمدن الإسرائيلية وراء الخط الأخضر.
ومن حق أي شعب أن يستهلك بالقدر الذي يريد ما دام يكد ويتعب وينتج ثم ينفق، ولكن الوضع ليس كذلك في إسرائيل، فهم يعرفون أن الدولة الصهيونية “المستقلة” لا يمكن أن توفر لنفسها البقاء والاستمرار ولا أن توفر لهم هذا المستوى المعيشي المرتفع إلا من خلال الدعم الاقتصادي والسياسي والعسكري الأميركي المستمر، ما دامت تقوم بدور المدافع عن المصالح الأميركية، أي أن الدولة الصهيونية دولة وظيفية، تُعرَّف في ضوء الوظيفة الموكلة لها.
وقد وصف أحد الصحفيين الإسرائيليين الدولة الصهيونية بأنها “كلب حراسة، رأسه في واشنطن وذيله في القدس” وهو وصف طريف ودقيق، وصريح وقاس.
ولكن هناك دائماً الإحساس بالنكتة. فعندما طرح أحد وزراء المالية خطة “دولرة” الشيكل أي ربطه بالدولار (وهي خطة رُفضت نظرياً في حينها وإن كانت نُفِّذت عملياً) اقترحت عضوة الكنيست جيئولا كوهين أن توضع صورة أبراهام لنكولن على العملة الإسرائيلية جنباً إلى جنب مع صور زعماء إسرائيل ونجمة داود، وأن يُدرَّس التاريخ الأميركي للطلاب اليهود بدلاً مما يسمى “التاريخ اليهودي”.
وأوردت صحيفة “جيروزاليم بوست” الحوار الخيالي التالي بين وزير المالية وشخص آخر:
الوزير: الخطوة الأولى هي أن نُخفِّض الميزانية، أما الثانية فهي تحطيم الشيكل واستخدام الدولار.
الآخر: وما الخطوة الثالثة؟
الوزير: الأمر واضح جداً، ننتقل كلنا إلى بروكلين (أحد أحياء اليهود في نيويورك).
لكل ما تقدم، يشعر الإسرائيليون أن الصهيونية لم تعد هي الخريطة التي تهديهم سواء السبيل، ففلسطين التي كان يُشار إليها بأنها “أرض بلا شعب” ظهر أنها فيها شعب، وأنه يقاوم المحتلين بلا هوادة، ولا يكل ولا يتعب من المقاومة.
وقد لاحظ أحد الكُتَّاب الإسرائيليين أنه لا يوجد فارق كبير بين الصيغتين “صهيوني” (بالعبرية: تسيوني tzioni) و”غير المكترث” (بالعبرية: تسيني tzini) والفارق الوحيد بينهما في الإنجليزية هو حرف (o) أي زيرو. فالصهيونية، هذه الأيديولوجية المشيحانية التي تدَّعي أنها القومية اليهودية، والتي تتطلب الحد الأقصى من الحماس والالتزام، فَقَدت دلالتها وأصبحت شيئاً لا يكترث به اليهود أعضاء هذه القومية المزعومة الذين تحاول الصهيونية “تحريرهم” من أسرهم في “المنفى”!
ويشير أحد الكُتَّاب الفكاهيين في إسرائيل إلى أن كلمتي “زايونيزم Zionism” الصهيونية و”زومبي Zombie” (وهو الميت الذي تُعاد له الحياة بعد أن تدخل جسده قوة خارقة، ولذا يمكنه الحركة ولكنه لا يستعيد القدرة على الكلام أو حرية الإرادة) تردان في نفس الصفحة من المعجم الإنجليزي، الأمر الذي يدل -حسب تصوُّره- على ترابطهما، وأن الصهيونية إن هي إلا زومبي، أي جسد متحرِّك لا حياة فيه ولا معنى له.
وهذا الكاتب الكوميدي لم يجانب الحقيقة كثيراً، فهناك العديد من المستوطنات الفارغة، تنعى من بناها، لا يسكن فيها أحد، ويُطلَق عليها بالإنجليزية: دمي ستلمنت dummy settlement. وقد آثرنا ترجمتها بعبارة “مستوطنات الأشباح” أو “مستوطنات زومبي” فهي جسد قائم لا حياة فيه.
ونظراً لكل هذه التطورات أصبحت كلمة “صهيونية” (تسيونوت بالعبرية) تعني “كلام مدع أحمق” (صحيفة جيروزاليم بوست، 26 أبريل/ نيسان 1985) وتحمل أيضاً معنى “التباهي بالوطنية بشكل علني مُبالَغ فيه” وتدل على الاتصاف بالسذاجة الشديدة في حقل السياسة (صحيفة إيكونوميست، 21 يوليو/ تموز 1984وكتاب برنارد أفيشاي مأساة الصهيونية، ص 26).
ومن الواضح أن حقل الكلمة الدلالي أو منظورها يشير إلى مجموعتين من البشر: صهاينة الخارج، أي الصهاينة التوطينيون الذين يحضرون إلى إسرائيل ويحبون أن يسمعوا الخطب التي لا علاقة لها بالواقع، ولذا فهي ساذجة، مليئة بالادعاءات الحمقاء والتباهي العلني بالوطنية.
وتشير في الوقت نفسه إلى الصهاينة الاستيطانيين الذين يعرفون أن الخطب التي عليهم إلقاؤها إن هي إلا خطب جوفاء ومبالغات لفظية لا معنى لها، ولكن عليهم إلقاءها على أية حال حتى يجزل لهم الضيوف العطاء.
والمقصود الآن بعبارة مثل “اعطه صهيونية” هو “فلتتفوه بكلام ضخم أجوف لا يحمل أي معنى” فهو صوت بلا معنى، وجسد بلا روح، ودال بدون مدلول، أو كما نقول بالعامية المصرية “هجّص” فالمسألة “هجص في هجص”. ويمكن أن نضيف لزيادة الدلالة “والأرزاق على الله” أو فلنُعلمن العبارة ونقول “والأرزاق على الولايات المتحدة ويهود الدياسبورا”!! والله أعلم.
كاتب ومفكر مصري رحمه الله
* المقال أعده قبل وفاته

April 15th, 2009, 10:51 pm


Off the Wall said:

Nukes in Egypt, I sure hope they dismantled them or sent them back, by now they are probably very problematic.

I agree with you that it is important to understand AP dreams. He represents a group that is shaping both Israeli and US policies in the region. But I do not believe that understanding their psychology will lead to any measurable change in their outlook. The only benefit would be in learning how to circumnavigate their fear, as the causes of their fears become more absurd and less founded, and to show the real value of their dream for sale to future buyers. If it wasn’t Iran’s nuclear program, it would be a couple of Syrian girls biting a snake (so that they can get few additional points in college entrance, which i hope is no longer the case). if not it would be an isolated antisemitic comment made by an ignorant imam or a semi-educated self declared intellectual, or a threat posed by a successful Lebanese or Qatari bank, or the emergence of a new species of fruit fly in Oman. Any thing that reduces the marketability of the dream is then a justifiable existential threat.

How different is that dream from the promise of a 70 virgins. Unfortunately the price of both dreams has been very heavy to all who are near or happen to be in the path of the sleep walking dreamers.

As for the loss of luster of old fasion Zionism inside Israel, Ibn Khaldoun has alluded to the inevitable decline quite well, although his test lab was north African dynasties. Much of his conclusions (from his forward) apply to idealistic movements (both good and bad). The essence, which I am sure you are way more familiar with than me giving the depth of your readings is that dynasties (idealist movements) usually last three generations: rural, urban and decadent-urban. With each generation, the idealistic zeal (of the tribe) becomes less and less until it disappears all together.

What Ibn Khaldoun called decadence, could now be called high living standards,

April 16th, 2009, 12:25 am


Akbar Palace said:

I don’t understand why you guys are talking about nukes or military powers.


I was responding to Shai’s ridiculous comment in Post 40:

It’s really impossible to wipe Israel off the map, not with an Iranian nuke…Not even ten Iranian nukes would destroy the state of Israel.

People much more intelligent than Shai are concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Of course, Israel’s concern is “paranoia” and poo-pooed.

But more governments than Israel are sounding the alarms. One of them is the President of the United States who claimed he would not allow Iran to go nuclear.




So there you have it. Is the whole free world crazy and only SC’s anti-Zionists the ones who are making sense? I don’t think so.

April 16th, 2009, 12:54 am


Majid said:

OTW, No more nukes in Egypt they were all taken back by the end of the war. I do agree with rest of your comment. The numbers are a little bit inaccurate but it doesn’t matter. Ibn Khaldoun spoke of seven generations and he was talking about real dynasties. You could probably extend the theory to modern movements but I’m not sure if it’ll be seven generations or more or less. Definitely in case of Israel (Zionism) it’ll be on the less side.

AP, the articles you linked are way outdated. There are realities that need to be addressed. The most single important one is that Israel will not be allowed nor will it succeed in executing a strike against Iran. In case, Israel goes ahead with this madness it will only accelerate its own downfall by causing the whole region to ally with Iran (and I mean from the grassroots to the top) in the fundamental scenario I previously outlined not to mention what possible retaliation Iran may decide to take against Israel.

To make a story short. Israel must come to terms with the problem it is part of, particularly at this point in its history. It can choose to deal with the problem rationally or it may choose to ignore the problem at the risk of its eventual dissolution with no one to blame but itself (government, leadership, etc…) Currently it has a window of opportunity of getting accepted and solve the problem once and for all and get integrated into the region. But this can only be done by addressing the problem. You may want to go back and look at my comment number 13. That will give you an idea. However, this solution will not be available for long. In other words, as time goes on from now on there will be a trend of escalating demands by the other side to sit on the table. And there is no use to try to deal with the problem piecemeal. The game has become very obvious for everyone to see.

April 16th, 2009, 1:41 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

OTW and Majid,

I think you’re taking your paranoia argument to unrealistic extremes. The paranoia is at least to some degree a normal reaction to incessant Arab violence. We all know how the Arab side decided to deal with the Jews in 47 when it didn’t like the UN partition plan: violence was the only option, you promised us rivers of blood and annihilation. 1% of the Jewish population died in the war, whole age groups were wiped out. Before 47 there were 36, 29 and 21, not to mention the violence towards Arab Jews in their Arab homelands. The Arab side created enough precedents to demonstrate that, at least for a long while, violence was the preferred means for conflict resolution. You are asking the Israelis to assume that if the power balance of 47 is repeated, then your way to deal with discontent will be somehow different and when the Jews are skeptic, especially given what they see around them in Arab states in terms of self-inflicted violence being almost a norm, then you are surprised that we are so scared. Of course the fears of annihilation at this point in time are unrealistic but let’s assume Israel dismantles its mighty army, could you really vouchsafe the people’s safety? I don’t think you can. To be more specific, suppose that Israel reaches what would be considered a fair compromise with the Palestinians on a two-state solution, that will be backed by a strong majority of the Palestinians, and is implemented to the letter. Can you promise that once Israel retreated from the West Bank no rockets will be fired on Tel Aviv by the minority that didn’t accept the deal? With Israel’s “thin waist” this will paralyze the country. I’m not saying that this scenario is certain, but at the same time this scenario is also not improbable. Israelis know that this scenario is possible with high probability and therefore they are afraid of ending the occupation. It’s not irrational at all, Arab violence stokes Jewish fears. You know I’m all for compromise and finding some middle-ground, but you cannot ignore that taking this route involves non-imaginary risks for Israelis. As long as you don’t acknowledge that, or on the contrary deride those who are risk-averse as delusional paranoids, Israelis will always have a good reason to suspect that you, too, are not genuine in your peace declarations, because you are short-selling them without a blink. To summarize, Arab violence (actual or verbal) adds a dimension of guesswork to Israeli calculations that maybe more confident nations, like the Brits, could have handled more gracefully, but the Israelis with their baggage of insecurities, fumble. Now you celebrate their “mental weakness” but really we all eat the crap that this vicious cycle generates. What follows is that nobody, on either side, can go wrong by refraining from violence.

April 16th, 2009, 1:58 am


Akbar Palace said:


I hate to admit it, but your post above was very reasonable and well thought-out.

You win tonight’s University of Oklahoma, Peace Studies “Olive Wood Camel Peace Award”.

April 16th, 2009, 2:19 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Your content with me may be premature, the only thing I did above is to explain why Israeli “digging-in” can be explained in rational terms even though I don’t think that this is the preferred strategy for long-term success, nor does it result in a society that is in any way superior to Jewish existence in the Diaspora, hence it is a failure to fulfill the charter of Israel. By far in order to break the vicious cycle of physical violence Israel has much more room and obligation to make the first steps as it applies much more violence compared to the Palestinians. However, on a declarative level, the Arab and Iranian sides are by far the more severe offenders (e.g., Ahmedinejad’s holocaust denial and threats to annihilate Israel or the Hamas charter).

April 16th, 2009, 2:39 am


Majid said:

YOSSI, You have raised important points. I think you agree that going back to the past is a two way street. The Arabs/Palestinians can come up with even a longer list of grievances than the one you mentioned in your last comment 67. This is not the way forward. At least you should have outlined some kind of concrete steps that would satisfy Israeli fears whether imaginary or real. The Arabs will not give up violence as long as the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinians is not addressed. This is not South Africa. You call it violence but to them it is resistance of occupation. You cannot come from all corners of the earth and claim someone’s land and expect him to turn the other cheek. Muslims never did this and will never do it. The Palestinians will continue to find recruits among their dispossessed until the problem is dealt with in a meaningful way. In fact, most Arabs believe that Israel is not interested in peace and they may also ask for assurances about a genuine desire for peace on the part of Israel.
I am not going to go back all the way to 48. It will be enough to go back to 1979 when the first breakthrough into peace took place, the Camp David accords. It was an Arab country and an Arab leader who took the initiative. You are well aware that part of the agreement was a statement that requires a comprehensive settlement with the rest of the countries involved as well as the problem of the Palestinians. Israel did not use this breakthrough to prove its goodwill in a desire for peace. Instead, Begin looked at it as an opportunity for further adventures after he envisioned that he has succeeded in neutralizing the southern front. In the name of providing so-called security to settlers in the north he even went as far as occupying an Arab capital for which he ended up paying dearly. I am sure there were other alternatives available to Israel to address its security other than putting an Arab capital under siege for three months and ending with a massacre executed under its watchful eye.
You cannot refuse an offer for peace solely on the basis of fear from the other party. People with genuine desires will find technical solutions for issues relating to fear. The saying that peace requires more courage than war is nowhere else more appropriate than in this case. No one is asking Israel to dissolve its army. It will still have the army it currently has. I doubt however that it will continue to need an army at the current level.
But you could also choose to have time as the arbiter of things.

April 16th, 2009, 3:07 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


I couldn’t find a thing in what you wrote I disagreed with, and if you’ll look up my comments from the past you’ll see that I acknowledge that Zionism is the root cause behind all the mess we have now. As I’ve written in this thread I know that time will certainly find a solution, I’m trying to optimize to make sure that it doesn’t take too many casualties and that the resulting society is peaceful and is based on the human values I believe in. In the context of this effort I put forth a plea to whomever is willing to listen on the other side to understand that the Mandela way is better for all parties than the Hamas way. Let’s imagine for a second that the RNC had a charter similar to Hamas’. Would it have ever gotten the world’s sympathy? Would’ve the whites given up Apartheid if the blacks were openly calling for their death? What does it mean to actively seek peace (rather than let time do its thing) if not to try and change the way people, on both sides, approach situations?

April 16th, 2009, 3:38 am


Shai said:


I too have never heard of Nukes-in-Egypt and, though I don’t doubt your story, I very much doubt Haykal’s. Believe me if there was even the slightest truth to it, it would have already been discussed in Israel a thousands times, studied and analyzed by the best professors and historians, covered from every angle by journalists of every media.

But what makes me doubt it even more is not what I said above, but rather what you said about “The nukes were put under Egyptian military control to be used if an Israeli nuclear threat becomes apparent.”. I cannot see any possible way the Soviets would give control of their nukes and, in so doing, of their own safety and that of the world, to some regional representative, even one of great strategic value.

I cannot think of a more significant ally (because of its location), than Cuba. We know today that there were 162 nuclear warheads ready to be launched, in those dangerous days of October 1962. They were stationed 90 miles off America’s shores. And they were under the complete control of some 40,000 Soviet soldiers and civilian technicians. According to Robert McNamara, the next time the US and USSR came very close to nuclear war was in the tension created during those 6 days in June 1967 in our region. I cannot believe the Soviets would risk nuclear holocaust by giving the decision and power to the Egyptians, not for good will, and not for bad one.

April 16th, 2009, 4:12 am


Shai said:


The ridiculous claim is not that 1, 2, or 10 nuclear weapons will not wipe Israel off the map, but rather that they WILL. You haven’t even DEFINED what “wipe off the map” means, but you already know that it can happen. You haven’t determined what has to take place to cause Israelis to “surrender” to someone, but you already use Ahmedinejad’s promise to “erase” Israel. You buy into this stuff, not because you don’t have the ability to question it, but because it serves your own purposes of paranoia.

And now, you bring in “much wiser people”, as if to suggest that they know something we don’t. Well, you’re right, they do! They know, far better than most of us, how to capitalize on FEAR. How to make people vote one way or another, based on FEAR of something they do not understand, nor will ever be given the option to understand. When was the last time you heard a physics professor explain to you about a nuclear bomb? Do you have any idea what such a bomb can and cannot do? When you run quickly to your great source of wisdom, Wikipedia, what do you learn about the damage caused by such a bomb? Go check. Barely 200,000 people died in BOTH Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many of them died because of fire storms that spread through those cities instantly, as they were made mostly of wood. Today’s modern cities (and that includes Israel) are made of concrete. If either of those Japanese cities had been made of concrete, the figures would have been halved. That’s not my guess, that’s the guess of “much wiser people”.

But even if 2 nukes are dropped on Tel-Aviv, in the middle of rush-hour, on the busiest day of the week, at just the perfect time, will Israel be “wiped off the map”? I sometimes wonder if you give these things a thought, or whether you just quote things and people hoping others won’t. Before nourishing and spreading your paranoia, please spend a few nanoseconds contemplating what you’re saying or, for that matter, what other fear-experts are selling you. You are the consumer here – you have the option to buy, or not buy the crap you’re being sold.

As usual, since you don’t trust what I say, go communicate with a physics professor or two and ask him/her the questions. And in between, try to define for yourself (for us would be a bonus), what it means “to wipe Israel off the map”. I think it’s fair to demand that people using this FEAR-factor, at least are capable of explaining it. I promise you, it’s no wonder ALL those in Israel and abroad who use it, and use it so well, never explain it!

April 16th, 2009, 4:31 am


Majid said:

YOSSI, I do not doubt your sincerity or your position on Zionism. However, I know for a fact, and you know as well, that there are things that are possible and things that are not especially in the Middle East. I too prefer that Hamas come up with a different charter than the one it has right now. But believe me this is not possible. Even if Hamas goes ahead and makes a change another Hamas (or some other name) will appear to assume the ‘mantle’ of radicalism. So it will be a repeat of the Fatah/Hamas debacle all over again. Comprehensive peace with all the regional players is the best insurance for neutralizing this dilemma provided the Palestinian issue is addressed and the Palestinians become a nation in their own state. All the states of the region will have to be signatories in the deal and in effect Israel will be integrated into the Arab world as Israel. In my opinion, this is the best guarantee you can have.

Shai, you might have a reason in what you’re saying. Haykal’s book however is a narration mostly by Shazly. It is in Shazly’s (or Sadat’s) best interests to refute any inaccuracies and especially this particular narration if it wasn’t true. As you know, in every war there are errors and mistakes that need to be covered. Egypt did have its share of mishaps in this war. Actually, the book even mentions a disagreement between Sadat and Shazly regarding the conduct of the war during operations. The disagreement concerns the original Shazly plan requiring the first stopover of the advance of his troops to happen at the so-called passages in Sinai which for him as a military man would provide a natural cover for his troops, and he had the time at the initial break of the war to achieve that. Sadat, however, was happy of the initial crossing of the canal because to him it was enough of a breakthrough. Either Sadat or Shazly should have at least refuted Haykal’s story because it is in their best interests. Haykal never had any problem with the regime even after he published the book. I’m sure you can find the book if you look for it. As to the actual control of the nukes, it could have been a shared Egyptian/Soviet, control and according to the book they were deployed in the port of Alexandria. In fact, the book even goes as far as saying that there were Soviet military personnel involved in the actual conduct of the war.

April 16th, 2009, 4:59 am


Shai said:


Thank you for expanding further. I believe I may have actually read that book at some point years ago (as Yossi suggested, it was translated into Hebrew). But I still find it hard to believe that the Soviet Union would risk everything it would, by placing its own nukes on foreign soil, and (even) share its control with someone else. By so doing, it would not be sending a message to Israel, but rather to the US. Plus, what’s the point of placing missiles somewhere like Egypt, if you DON’T make it clear to (Israel, US) that they’re there, as a deterrence? Even the ambiguity would have been enough (ya’ani, “We may or may not have nukes in Alexandria…”)

Actually, any Egyptian leader certainly would benefit from never refuting any such theories, because it makes Egypt look far stronger. In the way Egyptians describe the October War, Israel lost. They don’t even try to refer to it as a “draw”, as you did. They certainly don’t mention that the entire 3rd Army was surrounded, and had it not been Kissinger’s demand of Golda Meir to spare the 3rd Army (and by that, save Egypt’s “face” and enable a possible future peace agreement), there’s a good chance Egypt’s army would have been destroyed, and history would have looked very very different ever since. We may not have had peace, had Israel destroyed the 3rd Army in those days of 1973. So I certainly don’t expect any refutation to ever come out of Egypt. But again, if there was any truth to the matter, I would expect every expert in the world in Israel, and outside it, to analyze and write about it. For Israel, it would be the equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It would be a HUGE event, with far-reaching consequences.

By the way, why then didn’t the USSR also arm Syria (another strategic and very important ally) with nukes? And certainly once Egypt switched to the US-camp, it would have been a perfect reason to do so in Syria. But it didn’t, and for good reason. I suppose Egyptians can claim that the USSR promised them it would intervene (with nukes) if Israel was to ever use its own nukes against Egypt, but that’s pure speculation, and about as reliable as the US promising the Shah of Iran that should things go wrong, he and his family would be taken away to live happily ever after as Johnny Carson’s neighbors in Malibu. Either it’ll happen, or not.

April 16th, 2009, 7:15 am


Shai said:


Here’s an example of the stuff you hear from Settlers:

“In 1967, Israel was viciously attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria also contributed in some way to the offensive.”


Now what would you say to this woman? Would you say “Dear lady, I’m sorry, but your facts are wrong…”? Would you say “You know, there actually were people living there before we conquered those territories. And those people are still living there, under our rule.”? Or, would you say nothing?

April 16th, 2009, 8:03 am


Majid said:

That’s very funny SHAI. I was just reading an interview of Shazly just before I came here now and saw your last comment. The interview is long and actually he answers questions in detail about his entire life. It is unfortunately in Arabic at this link:


In order to get the whole interview you’ll have to navigate into different links provided at the left upper hand corner of the page. There are a total of 8 or 9 links. The link I provided here is the one that concerns the 73 war and in particular the question of the 3rd army. In fact he has a completely different version to what you say in your comment. He claims that they had plans to actually destroy the brigades of Sharon even at the cost of sustaining casualties among their own troops, in other words they would go even to the length of shelling their own army which was sandwiched in the middle. He also says that he mentioned that in person to Kissinger himself even after the ceasefire was declared. He also points out that Sharon’s penetration was insignificant militarily and it was well within Egyptian’s capabilities to destroy it had it not been for political maneuvering by Kissinger. Shazly was very confident that his men were well prepared for defense and he had no worries about any threats of Egypt losing face.

I also found that his plan was actually crossing the canal to a depth of 10-15 Km. only but others within the military were lobbying politically for a continuation of the attack all the way to the passages, which was the contingency plan, after the initial successes. He eventually went along with them under pressure not convinced that it was a wise move and he attributes that to the success of Sharon in crossing with his brigades to the west. I am not a military man but he goes into many details explaining why and why not certain things should conducted one way or the other. I believe that your claim that Golda Meir enabled the eventual peace talks is quite a bit overstated. I don’t even think she had a clue at the time Sadat would set foot in Jerusalem the way he did.

I couldn’t find any reference to nukes and it wasn’t raised up actually by the interviewer or by Shazly himself. But they do go in the interview over the state of tense relations between Egypt and the Soviets prior to the war. However, Shazly doesn’t explain why Sadat expelled most of the Soviet military experts just one year before the war. And he thinks no one will be able to tell why he did it. In other words it is a buried secret.

I don’t know what the actual strategy of the Soviets was with regards to Syria. But there was no war after the 73 war to warrant arming Syria. I think the general thinking is in order to have war Egypt must be the primary participant. After Egypt is gone, the state is as we know it – no peace/no war on the Syrian front.

April 16th, 2009, 8:17 am


majid said:

Shai, there is one other point in your comment # 75. You say, “Actually, any Egyptian leader certainly would benefit from never refuting any such theories, because it makes Egypt look far stronger”

No, not in this case Shai. Not refuting the story actually makes Egypt look weaker. In other words, it’ll look something like this: even with the nukes you guys didn’t have the will to achieve a clear cut victory and were only able to produce a draw!!!

April 16th, 2009, 8:52 am


Shai said:


I actually studied the 1973 War quite in detail in the past, and indeed it was the Egyptians’ plan NOT to conquer Israel, but rather to penetrate only a short distance (that which still enabled protection from their anti-aircraft missile batteries), and then stop. This by the way, as far as I know, has never been officially disclosed in Israel, for unfortunate and obvious reasons. One wonders who is responsible for informing his own people of the REAL intentions of our enemies.

You misunderstood me about Golda Meir. She was certainly the LAST person to think of peace with Egypt, as in fact she declined it earlier. But Kissinger wasn’t. He did think with foresight, and he did force Israel to finally abide by the 2nd Cease Fire and not to destroy the 3rd Army. Shazly’s description of the Egyptian Army’s ability to “crush” the IDF troops that had already penetrated into Egyptian territory (stopping 101 kms from Cairo), is nothing short of sheer fantasy, and an apparently unsuccessful attempt at saving his own reputation. As you know, he was removed from his post by Sadat, later exiled (for opposing the Camp David Accords) and later, after writing his book, tried in absentia and sentenced to 3 years in jail (which he served in 1992, after returning to Egypt).

Shazly claims that Israel’s encirclement of the 3rd Army was made possible not through gallant fighting by Israeli soldiers, but through disobeying the terms of the Cease Fire and continuing on to the city of Suez, passing by administrative bases and ones used for treating the wounded. But it took Shazly a good week to recover in those days from what had happened (Sadat referred to him at the time as a “nervous wreck”), and he knew he did not have the upper hand. As Israel still depended solely on America (and on American military supply and support), it too had no choice but to accept America’s terms for the Cease Fire. In the end, it negotiated a way to disentangle the two forces, and it allowed supplies through to the 3rd Army.

Much has been written about the October War, and though few would claim it was an Egyptian victory, or even a draw, in one aspect I believe Egypt certainly did “win” – it demonstrated to the entire world that Israel’s notion of Security could be shattered in an instant, also by a militarily inferior rival. This, in fact, was Sadat’s real aim. If we took the time to give this very important point some thought, we could see absolute parallels today, with Hamas, Hezbollah, and others. The message is the same: As long as you act in this region as you do, as long as you impose your will upon others, taking their land and their rights away, then you will never enjoy safety and security.

But it is easier for Israel to ignore this message, and instead to highlight promises to “wipe Israel off the map”, without ever clarifying, or explaining how that could be achieved, or what that even means. There is a reason Golda kept her head down most of the time during Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem. She knew she had interpreted her enemy’s intentions only through HER prism, not through his. And we are continuing to make the same mistakes, as we have been for the past 60 years.

April 16th, 2009, 9:51 am


Majid said:

SHAI, I think the October war is history now. But you’re right you could learn quite a bit from it. In fact, there is another theory that suggests that the whole war was planed or actually inspired by Kissinger/Sadat encounters. Sadat kept referring to my friend Kissinger all the time. A term Sadat continued to use before and after the war. In one of Sadat’s encounters with Kissinger the latter hinted to Sadat by way of reminding him that Egypt actually lost in the 67 war. So it is in weak position to negotiate peace. The theory suggests the scenario for the new war sprang from that meeting. Kissinger is of course still alive and he is the best to explain what really went on.

April 16th, 2009, 10:05 am


trustquest said:

بدورها ردت د.بثينة شعبان عن تساؤل الوفد البريطاني أسباب حجب موقع الفيس بوك في سورية “لأسباب أمنية”، وقالت إن “موقع الفيس بوك كان مفتوحا في البداية أمام الجميع في سورية لكننا اكتشفنا محاولات لجماعات إسرائيلية بفتح حوار مع مستخدمي الفيس بوك من السوريين وهذا ما لا نسمح به لأننا نرفض الخوض في حوار مباشر معهم وهم يحاولون من خلال هذه المواقع جعل الحوارات وكأنها أمر طبيعي وهذا ما لا نقبله ولن نقبله لأن إسرائيل عدو لنا وتحتل أرضنا العربية”.

In turns, Miss Shaaban responded to British envoy question of the reasons for blocking face book in Syria that the decision was based on security basis and said: Face book was open in the beginning to all in Syria but we discovered various attempts by groups of Israelis to open dialogue with Syrians through face book, and this is something we do not allow because we reject direct dialogue with them and they are trying through these sites to make the dialogue as a natural one and this is something we do not accept and will not accept because Israel is our enemy and occupying our Arabic lands.

“وعن استفسار الوفد حول الخطوط الحمراء والقيود المفروضة على الإعلام أردفت شعبان إن “الخطوط الحمراء التي تفرضها أمريكا على الإعلام أكثر ما هو مفروض على الإعلام العربي”.

And on the question of redlines and the restriction on the Media in Syria, Dr. Shaaban continued by saying: US media is subjugated to more redlines than the Arab Media

Akbar Palace, you are right after all, the chicks still eating the snakes, but now in front of the Brits. Could you please explain that to Shai!

April 16th, 2009, 10:57 am


Akbar Palace said:

Now what would you say to this woman?


It’s not that complicated. I would tell the woman the truth, correct her, and also agree with her that Israel did the RIGHT THING by preempting, considering the actions of the Egyptian government and the fact that Israel was not “occupying” any “Arab Land”.


Ahkshav, ata margish yoter tov?;)

Akbar Palace, you are right after all, the chicks still eating the snakes, but now in front of the Brits. Could you please explain that to Shai!


I can’t get through to Shai. I’m too paranoid.

April 16th, 2009, 11:35 am


Innocent Criminal said:

Here is what i can only call an excellent op-ed by Michael Young in The National. There is so much to say against Youngs obsessively one-sided articles. But the man knows how to write and this piece is so well-structured that I have very little to disagree with. http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090416/OPINION/332937630/1080

On the other hand here is one discussing the same issue by the completely irrelevant circus character Tariq Alhomayed in Al Sharq Al Awsat. its a worth a read if only for laughs… the guy is a retard. http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=16398

April 16th, 2009, 11:44 am


Nour said:


I don’t understand what your motivation is. If you are opposed to the corruption and oppression of the Syrian regime and want to bring about true change in Syria, then most Syrians would support you. But when you engage in such joint attacks on Syria with the likes of AP, whose motivations are clear, people will doubt your credibility. What is it that you want? Do you want to make Syria a better place? Or do you simply want to spite the Syrian regime in a vindictive manner regardless of the outcome? Many so-called Iraqi oppposition figures clearly turned out not to care in the least bit about the welfare of Iraq, as they themselves are now up to their necks in grotesque corruption and oppression, but were merely interested in satisfying their vengeful desires. I would hope that you would not be one of those.

April 16th, 2009, 1:15 pm


Innocent Criminal said:


Trustquest is allowed to support whoever he likes here as long as he is being respectful to others. And i would even go as far as saying that stupid policies like banning Facebook for such pathetic reasons and proudly stating them with a straight face to the media is harming Syria’s image a lot more than what Trustquest is trying to do.

Maybe you should also direct some of your anger toward Dr. Shaaban who never fails on reguritating the same BS over and over again

April 16th, 2009, 1:24 pm


Nour said:


I really don’t see what’s so “excellent” about Michael Young’s article. He spews the same old tired propaganda of Iranian influence and shiitization. Weapons smuggling occurs just about everywhere in the world, with many countries involved in it. In this case, the smuggling is being carried out to aid the resistance in Palestine, and the only avenue to reach this resistance is the Sinai.

Egypt feigns concern over its security when someone attempts to aid the Palestinians in their struggle against brutal “Israeli” occupation, but it shows no such concern when “Israel” bombards its side of the border, when “Israel” forbids Egypt from increasing its security presence inside the Sinai, or when Mossad agents are all over Cairo.

The Egyptian regime is only concerned about serving its masters in the US and “Israel” and is thus taking an active part in the war against the Palestinian people and their right to resist occupation. Michael Young will never say that because he is part of the neo-con gang that wants to see the resistance destroyed and “Israel” given absolute hegemony over the area.

April 16th, 2009, 1:24 pm


Nour said:


I didn’t deny Trustquest’s right to support whomever he wants. I just want to understand what his motivations are. I really couldn’t care less that Syria bans facebook in my opinion, because it is the least of my concerns right now with everything that goes on there. There are more serious issues that we need to deal with.

The American administration bans al-manar because it believes it is a “terrorist” channel and no American should be allowed to view the programs that al-manar broadcasts. I really don’t understand what the difference is, and yet no one seems to object to such actions taken by the US, but all of a sudden Syria is harming its image if it dares ban any source it doesn’t deem fit for its people’s consumption. I’m not supporting the decision I’m merely saying it’s not of utmost importance.

Therefore, when Trustquest uses this fact to repeat hateful words spewed by AP, regarding Syrian girls still biting the heads of snakes, I am merely suggesting to him that he will lose credibility within the Syrian populace. If he wants to continue doing that he is free to do so, but he shouldn’t be surprised when he finds little support among Syrians, that’s all.

April 16th, 2009, 1:30 pm


Akbar Palace said:

But when you engage in such joint attacks on Syria with the likes of AP, whose motivations are clear, people will doubt your credibility.


Just FYI, I’ve never disputed the legitimacy of Syria. My motivation is only peace whereby Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs can live and prosper together.

I know, for some, that may be asking for too much.

April 16th, 2009, 1:33 pm


trustquest said:

Nour, you are saying that AP motivation is clear?, could you please tell me what is his motivation?
“Do you want Syria a better place?”
Exactly here is the problem, you need people to be molded in special mold to be accepted that they want better Syria. Off course you are free to thinks and express what you want and how you wanted, but not others?, Why don’t you go and read the comments from THE PEOPLE in response to her, they at least begged her to TRUST THEM! After 40 years from governing they still do not trust their own people! And you defending that! Amazing!
It is OK if you argue with AP, it is OK if ambassador Mostafa complement Bibi as clear straight forward honest man, it is OK for the president to send people to negotiate and argue with Israeli, it OK for Alawite colse to the regime like Soliman to visit the Knesset, but when it comes to anyone else, it is not OK, When Assad says to Hersh that Syria is facing the same enemy as Israel and US, the Wahabies, what you get from that, don’t you think he is playing the same as Chalabi played with the US, does he represent the people in Syria this way, or according to you he represents what he thinks good for them without asking them.
I never had a doubt of the good intention of the Baath party in liberation and the well being of Syria, but it seems to me that politics and the change of landscape, is forcing the regime to play any game for survival.
You sound exactly like Dr. Shaaban, I don’t see you bringing better logic than the regime in your logic. When they say your party is a fanciest, I think it is clear from your previous post. So, please save me your detraction and consider my point as a different one in the pool of ideas not motivation. The funny thing for me how you brush corruption as something natural it goes hand in hand with the defenders of the nations. But me the illiterate can not consider them together, black or white.

April 16th, 2009, 2:04 pm


Nour said:


I’ve never defended the rampant corruption in Syria or the thuggery of the regime. In fact, I have always been an ardent opponent of the destructive Baathist system that has brought misery to the Syrian people. However, I have nothing personal against any particular member of the regime and I don’t wish to satisfy any vindictive or vengeful desires, because I carry no such feelings. In addition, I abhor and despise any sectarian language in criticizing the regime. My only concern is the well-being of the Syrian people.

With that, I believe that we have to be objective about what’s going on in our country. We have to understand the reasons why we were forced to live under a dictatorship that significantly retarded the progress of our nation. This regime did not come from outer space and impose itself on the Syrian people. It is rather an outcome of a succession of events, as well as general social conditions, that culminated in what we have today.

So the question is: how do we move forward from here? How do we improve our country and remove the conditions that brought to it one disaster after another. We can repeatedly curse and attack the regime in a highly emotional, irrational manner, or we can work on the ground to bring about true change in society and then as a natural result of that, in the governing system.

You can attack “my party” all you want, but in reality my party has been working at the grassroots level for many years, many of which were spent underground as it was targeted by the regime. But never did we go around the world cursing Syria and seeking foreign interference in our affairs because we knew that this would do nothing but bring additional disasters and further retard any progress we may make.

If we compare Syria today to what it was 20 years ago, I believe there is definite change and definite improvement. Are we anywhere near where we should be? Absolutely not, and there’s a lot of work ahead of us. But to deny that change is happening on the ground is to deny the hard work of many Syrians who struggled mightily to achieve even the minimal gains we see today. The criticisms of the government we see today in the Syrian press, although still limited, are unprecedented. The common political satire in Syrian drama and theater is an indicator of at the very least very small gains in freedom of thought. We should also not dismiss gains we’ve made in the artistic, cultural, and historical fields where Syria is slowly establishing itself as an artistic, cultural, and historical center of the Arab world.

But we should recognize also that the external threats to our nation are real. And that foreign powers do not have pure intentions with respect to our nation. This is why we should exercise extreme caution and always rely on ourselves rather than on others.

I understand you have a very pessimistic and negative view of the Syrian government, and I don’t blame you. I just think we should be careful in addressing this issue and not fall into emotional traps that can only bring about further harm rather than good.

April 16th, 2009, 3:21 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Nour states:

But we should recognize also that the external threats to our nation are real. And that foreign powers do not have pure intentions with respect to our nation. This is why we should exercise extreme caution and always rely on ourselves rather than on others.

Where are Syria Comment’s “Paranoia Police”?;)

I found one.

April 16th, 2009, 3:50 pm


Off the Wall said:

I do not think that Majid and I are trying to minimize the historical foundation of a reasonable fear. In fact my comment # 46 includes implicit recognition of such foundation.

“The only benefit would be in learning how to circumnavigate their fear, as the causes of their fears become more absurd and less founded ,.

Shai has made an excellent distinction between fear of violence, which setting proportionality and asymmetry aside, exists and is well founded on both sides, and between taking such fear into illogical conclusion and branding it existential. This is very much like neocons arguing that Alqaida can destroy the united state and our way of life . People like Daniel Pipes and Horrowitz, even carry that illogical fear into absurdity as they paint a picture of the western world becoming ruled by Sharia unless every voice critical of Israeli policies is silenced.

Majid, who keeps enriching our discussion with his realist approach, and I dare say has been grounding it with some attention to details I usually overlook, said it quite well in his comment #70 to which I can add little except guarded optimism that the optimistic humanist approach of Shai be supplemented at any negotiation table by realists on both sides with attention to details. I hope that the American sponsors of peace talks are less interested in political image and more concerned with real long lasting peace.

Now setting that aside, will there be parties who will always reject any arrangement. Just look at KSA, a most oppressive theocracy, and still there are those who want more theocracy and more power to the religious police.

You will not like what I am about to say here. But one can look at Buthaina Shaaban’s comment with different prisms and reach a different conclusion (here is duplicity at its best, or perhaps, worst). To begin with, I am fully opposed to any (and I emphasize any) restriction on freedom of information, communication, and press. On this I take a slightly modified civil libertarian POV. Blocking a web site can only be done at a public library (community standards of decency), or by parents (protecting their children) and I have posted a couple of times on that issue. That said, controlling information in this case does not fall under the traditional obsessive control (mistaken for governance) we are used to in Syria and many other non-democratic countries. It is basically a bargaining chip, the message here is consistent with the Syrian official message of correlating normalization with a just solution and with the return of the Golan. In fact, it appears that the Syrian policy makers believe that by doing so, they are denying legitimacy to a rogue state that keeps occupying Syrian land. Before AP jumps on this, this does not equal denying Israel’s right to exist, it is a denial of Israel’s claim to a normal status as far as the Syrians are concerned, for as long as it occupies Arab land and oppresses Palestinians. It has been one of the few steady themes in Syrian policies not to give up an inch unless it is reciprocated, which appears to be the lesson they learned from Camp David and subsequent negotiations. I must also indicate that the issue of Normalization before negotiation (Israel’s position) and Normalization after arriving at just comprehensive solution (Syria’s position) is not a trivial issue to either side.

Blocking countless other sites easily falls under the first category, and from what I have been hearing, it has been as erratic as many things have been for as long as I remember.

Needless to say, her comment about the US practicing more control is untrue (to be polite), but I believe that she is alluding to the ban on Al-Manar TV. There were a couple of cases where Satellite dish installers were indicted in NY and/or NJ for circumnavigating this ban, which I also find as absurd as blocking face book or SC. As usual, most politicians take isolated anecdotes and over-generalize them.

Norman and Jad, add to my tab, and that is my take

April 16th, 2009, 3:55 pm


Shai said:


You speak in slogans. “I would tell the woman the truth”, “correct her”, “agree with her”, “considering the actions of the Egyptian government”. None of those phrases are defined, they’re just words put together, with no clear meaning.

You also ignored the tougher questions I asked you. How about that definition regarding “wiping Israel off the map”? What does it mean? I think if we’re to hear endless pontifications using this FEAR-factor, we at least deserve a clear definition, don’t you think? So I want to understand how Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, or Al Qaeda for that matter, could “wipe Israel off the map”.

April 16th, 2009, 6:36 pm


Off the Wall said:

We should also not dismiss gains we’ve made in the artistic, cultural, and historical fields where Syria is slowly establishing itself as an artistic, cultural, and historical center of the Arab world.

While I do not like the Syria-Egypt competition for being a center of anything, and I find it non-productive, I agree wholeheartedly with you on the significant gains made in the artistic field. These gains took more than a single generation to create the necessary critical mass.




Among others.
I am however very disappointed that come clerics managed to block Wannuos play in Aleppo.

April 16th, 2009, 6:49 pm


Shai said:


I just re-read your comment #70. In it, you said: “You cannot refuse an offer for peace solely on the basis of fear from the other party.”

Amen, and Amen!

April 16th, 2009, 7:18 pm


Akbar Palace said:

“You cannot refuse an offer for peace solely on the basis of fear from the other party.”

Shai, Majid,

No you refuse the offer for peace because they are merely words that are intangible, undefined, and bogus.

Like the Oslo Accords.

Of course, the hope is enough suckers will get taken in.

April 16th, 2009, 7:41 pm


Shai said:

“Suckers for Peace”… I still recall Sadat’s famous words to Israel’s Chief of General Staff Mordechai (Mota) Gur: “You see, General, this is no trick!” Funny how Begin, Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu, were all willing to be “suckers for peace”. They all offered our enemies more than any ordinary Likudnick, or AIPAC-supporter in the U.S. ever would. I wonder why.

Hey, what about a definition? “Wiping Israel off the map”.

April 16th, 2009, 7:56 pm


Nour said:


Let me just clarify that I stated that Syria is becoming A cultural, artistic, and historic center and not THE center. What I mean by that is that Syria has a lot to offer in these areas, and not that it is the only one that has something to offer. Also, I don’t think that contributions and advancements in these fields should be confined to Syria and Egypt to begin with. Many other places within the Arab World can also play their part.

April 16th, 2009, 9:45 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


You said:

I do not think that Majid and I are trying to minimize the historical foundation of a reasonable fear. In fact my comment # 46 includes implicit recognition of such foundation.
“The only benefit would be in learning how to circumnavigate their fear, as the causes of their fears become more absurd and less founded ,.

“Implicit recognition” is an understatement my friend 🙂 You can’t down-play the Hamas and Iranian rhetoric. This is happening now not in some distant past. Many normal people will react with skepticism and fear.

You’ll note you haven’t directly answered the hard question I posed to you about the two-state scenario.

April 16th, 2009, 9:56 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

A testimony of the day dreamer:
“… Yes, this is the trouth… I’m proud being an Arab living in Israel”.

Part 1


Part 2



April 16th, 2009, 11:05 pm


majid said:

With regards to Hamas question, the one you consider serious, would an Israeli government make a public statement acknowledging the wrongs done to the Palestinians as a result of the creation of Israel, publicly assuming responsibility for these wrongs and at the same time make a public plea to the other side, as you put it, to acknowledge Israel as a prelude to serious engagement?

It would be a breakthrough on the same scale as the Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem without the theatrics. It would also look like the first serious Isareli initiative for peace. And it would pre-empt (AP’s favorite word) the radicals among the Palestinians and provide basis for their leadership(s) to break the deadlock without having to worry about getting undermined.

April 17th, 2009, 12:57 am


trustquest said:

Nour, Off the wall,
This regime is not a result of successive events or social condition; it is a result of vendetta and hate monger group with power. The irrational behavior is when anyone covers for irrational behavior. I’m not attacking your party but you are not listening to public at all, you are living in your tower and you did not learn. A party with more than 75 years of work and have 50 members is not something to brag about. Your party is outdated in all facets of national street feeling. If there is any improvement in Syria in the last 20 years, please give credit where is should be, the hard working emigrants of people of Syria occupying the whole globe after they could get loose from the tight hands of the dictator (evidence are all Syrian commentator on this blog), productive, and they did not forget their country by giving back while the thugs are benefiting inside ( look at the number of Syrians outside).
The subject was facebook and you came along defending the moth piece and attacking me, questioning my intensions for showing her true color and her snake eating habits which did not change.
Off the wall, first save me the Machiavellian ways of explaining the obvious (you have already called them thugs before I did), second I’m offended of you defending the eternal regime blocking of facebook, and will never go or send my child to a university you work at, and if I have to, I will show your words to the dean of the college you are working at.

Please guys save yourselves the long responses, for a lot of people it is very simple and very clear. As I said I have no vendetta against anyone, but 5 years ago, I was reading:
I will add the passage later on the comment, as I said I was reading in front of my CPA, and he asked me, what the GDP for Syria at the time of the article, I searched it and I found that GDP was $54 billions in 2001 and the country budget is $5 billion.
My CPA told me, this is not corruption, this is even not theft, it is something goes beyond treason and theft, this the highest criminal order for man kind. I think most the commentators on this forum are illiterate about numbers and the difference between million and billion. The thugs seized double the GDP by 2001 and left the country high and dry and you still want to defend them.
Here is the passage:

هذا الغامض ليس غامضاً تماماًً، إنهم أصحاب المليارات الذين أصبحوا يمتلكون مليارات الدولارات خارج هذا القطر، ليس من رواتبهم وليس من أرباح مشروعاتهم، لكن أحداً لم يسألهم كيف ومن أين ؟ بل إن أحداً لم يسألهم كيف تحمّل ضميركم أن تفعلوا بشعبكم وباقتصادكم الوطني وبدولتكم ما فعلتم بحرمانهم من كل شروط الحياة والتقدم والنماء والازدهار، وإيداع حصيلة هذا الحرمان عشرات المليارات من الدولارات عداً ونقداً في جيوب المؤسسات الإمبريالية الصهيونية ؟ ومع ذلك يزايدون علينا بالوطنية، ويتهموننا بأننا نحن الذين سنستقدم الإمبريالية والصهيونية.. نحن وليس هم الذين أهدوها على الأقل مائة مليار دولار من ثروة ومداخيل الشعب السوري، وهذا الرقم يعادل خمسة أضعاف كل الاستثمارات الإنتاجية في سورية. ففي السياسة المالية مهمة أية دولة، أية سلطة وأي نظام هي تنمية قوى الإنتاج الوطنية، أي الارتقاء بقوى الإنتاج عاماً بعد آخر، لكن أن نجد قوى الإنتاج في سورية اليوم عام 2001 أضعف بكثير من قوى الإنتاج في عام 1980 فهذه حالة لا يمكن تفسيرها بأية نية طيبة على الإطلاق

Now dear Nour and dear Off the wall,
If you find that this guy is crazy, please provide me with some evidence contrary to what he is saying. And if you still want to follow those thugs, listen to them or to their mouth pieces such as Shaaban, also go ahead, but please do not force me to argue with your prisms and how to look at thing. A human tragedy and a catastrophe on this level happen once in the life of the nation.

April 17th, 2009, 1:37 am


Nour said:


I see you’re getting very emotional in your responses, and I would like to keep this a logical discussion. You are asking us to look at things reasonably and logically and yet you throw out a comment like our party has 75 years of history and only 50 members. Do you seriously believe we only have 50 members?

Moreover, I am not disputing Aref Dalila’s contentions, nor would I deny that the regime has nurtured rampant corruption and theft all across the state. But first, to make the implication that Syria is the only country suffering from such conditions is academically dishonest. You know very well that many countries, especially those in our region, suffer from similar situations, living under corrupt and dictatorial regimes that are most definitely due to successive events and particular social circumstances.

Second, in no country is the government’s budget equal to the annual GDP. So while I do not in anyway dispute that members of the regime have stolen the people’s money outright, things still need to be put in perspective. Last year the United States’ GDP was $14.29 trillion, and yet the annual budget for 2009 is $3.60 trillion, i.e. about 25% of GDP. Also I would look into whether the $51 billion dollar mark you cited is an absolute figure or merely purchasing power parity. For example, last year Syria’s purchasing power parity GDP was $95.36 billion whereas the actual GDP was $44.49 billion. And the budget for 2008 was about $12 billion, which is about 27% of GDP, and therefore comparable to the US’s budget to gdp ratio.

Finally, I didn’t criticize you because you attacked Buthaina Shaaban. I don’t really care if you attack her or any member of the regime; I would probably agree with most of your issues with them. I merely was questioning your reinforcement of AP’s girls biting snakes comment which was intended as an insult to Syrians in general. I was suggesting that you should be careful not to lose credibility with the people when you make valid and just criticisms of the government.

April 17th, 2009, 3:23 am


EHSANI2 said:


This guy as you call him does not make sense. He claims that GDP in 2001 is “much lower” than it was in 1980. What does this mean? GDP growth rate is lower? Or is it actual GDP in Dollar terms that that is lower? Frankly, the guy is not accurate or precise when it comes to discussing the subject. Incidentally, where did you find Syria’s GDP to be $54 billion in 2001 (hopefully you have the correct currency as a base and not some PPP methodology)? I believe that this number is inaccurate.

April 17th, 2009, 3:42 am


Off the Wall said:

You are absolutely correct. I may have prematurely reacted. Sorry for that. Also for the contribution of others, I fully join you on that issue and thank you for bringing it up. But i still stand by my point that the petty competition, which shows up every once in a while, is at best, petty. What I would love to see is every Arab town becoming a center for artistic and scientific progress.

I will only answer the hard question because it is more relevant to our discussion of today. First, I do not think that the two states solution is valid anymore for reasons that we can later discuss. Yet, I will follow the assumption that a solution agreeable to the majority of the Palestinians is reached and a truly independent state emerges as a result. Can I guarantee that a minority will not act to counter that. My simple answer is no and no one can, same as you can’t guarantee full protection from crimes inside either country and same as Israel has failed to stop the rocket through mighty power. However, what can be guaranteed, and should be required by both sides, is a commitment to making the price for doing that heavy at individual level and to establish committees and mechanisms, similar to those established by equal states for addressing grievances like that when they arise. One way would be to imagine a comprehensive peace agreement that includes the development of constitutional amendments or legal arrangements in all involved states that forbids the use of their respective territories to prepare for, or to launch, by themselves or by others, any attack or actions to sabotage the security and internal peace of any other signatory except in the case of direct invasion. Also should be agreed on is the complete rejection of unilateral actions, along with enforcement mechanisms. This is a true non aggression agreement as opposed to a cessation of hostilities agreement. It may not be in the first deal, but it should be discussed openly. If referendums on such laws are held simultaneously, can you imagine the majority in any country rejecting them. Again, commissions and mechanisms can be established and their shape and forms are way above my current pay grade as a commenter. One of the ways Israel can get true cooperation from Palestinians, in addition to what Majid has mentioned, is to demonstrate a commitment to dealing with them as equals, to recognize nationally and individually (at least in a majority) their rights. Let me say it bluntly, they have many more reasons to fear Israel than Israel has to fear them.

Given the state of rhetorical belligerence between Israel and Iran, and the potentially explosive situation, I believe that Iran must now become a party of any deal. I know many in the Arab world will find that hard to swallow, but we can not allow the current state of affairs to continue.

April 17th, 2009, 4:11 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


I see the equivalence you’re making and it makes sense to me: the declarative belligerency of Hamas’ talk is matched by the declarative belligerency of Israel’s silence on past and present injustices. It’s a good argument.

Yes I think that such a step from Israel will be extremely important, not just for the Palestinians but for the Israelis too. Yuli Tamir, when she was education minister, expressed herself to this effect and even added the Nakba to the curriculum. Bibi declared on the day of his victory he’s going to remove any mention of the Nakba from the curriculum. One step forward two step backwards…

April 17th, 2009, 4:25 am


Alex said:

Dear Off the Wall,

How are we doing on the other project? : )

April 17th, 2009, 4:33 am


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


What Israelis fear about such deals is that they are potentially made from a point of insincerity and hence those “individual criminals” will be covertly supported by the Palestinian government which will make a sham out of any enforcement articles in the agreement. In reality, Israel will not make a generous offer, they will bargain to the last inch of land, and therefore consensus on the Palestinian side will be weak, perhaps this is another way to say that a stable two-way solution is unlikely. If we consider the one-state solution, it is also fraught with risks for the Jewish population. There are risks on the path to peace for all parties involved and we shouldn’t belittle them. Empathy is the first step towards true peace.

April 17th, 2009, 4:45 am


Majid said:

OTW said, “Given the state of rhetorical belligerence between Israel and Iran, and the potentially explosive situation, I believe that Iran must now become a party of any deal. I know many in the Arab world will find that hard to swallow, but we can not allow the current state of affairs to continue.”

No, Iran is not required to be part of any deal. The Arabs, aside from Syria of course, will ONLY stand with Iran IF attacked by Israel. But they will never allow Iran to be part of what is properly considered an Arab/Israeli conflict. Iran has no real business as far as the Palestinian issue is concerned or other issues concerning this Arab/Israeli conflict. The general perception in the region, spare me Syria’s POV please, is that Iran’s engagement in the Palestinian issue is not genuine and is only used as a subversive tool for its own agenda. Of course, there is an Islamic dimension to the Arab/Israeli conflict but it would be wrong to emphasize it more than it should be emphasized otherwise you’re opening the door wide for an insatiable fundamentalist appetite that would only serve to eventually undermine the whole effort. When the Palestinian problem is settled, and of course the Syrian Golan, as part of a comprehensive agreement, Iran will have very little room to maneuver outside its borders where it should be properly confined. The belligerence talk of the Iranian government will be a shout in a vacuum after a deal is reached and it would quickly learn to either tone it down or eliminate it altogether from its political discourses.

April 17th, 2009, 7:02 am


Off the Wall said:

Off the wall, first save me the Machiavellian ways of explaining the obvious (you have already called them thugs before I did)

The context in which you posted the comment did not indicate whether or not it was obvious to you.

second I’m offended of you defending the eternal regime blocking of facebook, and will never go or send my child to a university you work at, and if I have to, I will show your words to the dean of the college you are working at.

This is a loaded statement. First, I did not defend the action, but you seem to disallow anything other than cursing the regime in any discussion. You obviously have a rigid litmus test on patriotism that you have been applying to SC commentators, where have I seen that before. Ah, Syria for the past 47 years.

What I wrote is in no way a defense. It is a purely technical explanation of what I perceive as the expressed motive for this specific action, and an attempt to distinguish it from any other apparently similar actions that are motivated by what I called obsessive control (mistaken for governance). This leads me to accept Shaaban’s explanation, not because I do or don’t trust her, but because I could not reject her explanation. And yet, I later follow on by saying the action is dumb. But again, you read what you want to read. I owe you no appology for not following your rigid definition of acceptable format for agreeing or disagreeing with the Syrian government.

As for your threat, which I will not take seriously, for I have seen what anger, hate, enabled by anonymity, can drive people, including myself, to write. I just want to say after what you just wrote, you have greatly diminished the credibility of you branding anyone vindictive. What you wrote is a call to ail the American educational system with the same ailments that those you call vindictive have brought on to Syrian universities. That is shortsighted, at best.

While I agree with you that remittance from emigrants has a role in financing improvements, I sure hope that you are not dismissing the hard work of those who remained inside. All of the Syrian artists who mesmerized a couple of thousand people in the concert hall studied in Syria. One of them now lives in the US, but he came here because of the skills he developed in Syria. Are you saying that the countless musicians, novelists, poets, painters, artisans (whose skills are regaining their former fame), actors, and directors are not entitled to any credit.

April 17th, 2009, 7:06 am


Off the Wall said:


That was thoughtful comment. I can’t disagree with the principle argument. But how can one prevent Iran from playing a spoiler role without a major catastrophe. Iran has on many occasions indicated that if the Palestinian Issue is addressed, they will cease and desist any belligerent action. If that is the case, then including Iran a comprehensive regional arrangement will be beneficial. Under such agreement Iran, same as anyone else, is bounded not to do what it is now doing. Please note that I am advocating fundamental paradigm shift, under which all involved countries are tying peace and non-interference directly to their sovereignty. Wouldn’t that be a positive development.

Personally, I prefer to see the Jewish-Islamic dimension of the Arab Israeli conflict be eliminated completely. And the last thing I want is to give that dimension any further fuel. In 20 or 30 years from now, what we are seeing in Turkey will be repeated in reverse in Iran. Secular movements will gain power (analoguous to the growth of Islamic parties in Turkey) and this will be enabled under the imperfect but semi-functional democratic arrangement. The clerics will probably be reduced to a council of elders that maintains a very broad, but weakening Islamic direction despite of a couple of possible interim take-over. But Iran will remain a country with great potential and a country determined to have its interests guarded and its needs addressed. Even under the Shah, Iran had its agenda and worked actively to ensure that its national agenda, which is not much different from its current national agenda, is achieved. I do not think that this is the official Syrian POV, but it is the pragmatic one.

Iran is already outside its borders. Its presence in Lebanon, Syria, or Palestine is minimal compared to its presence in Iraq, which is the real pie that was handed to Iran on a silver plate by Bush and Co. It will be very long before a nationalist movement in Iraq materializes that can confront Iran and ensure that whatever interests it has are not at the expense of Iraq. This is also an important issue. Iraq has been sidelined from the Arab Israeli conflict, but how long would that last after the US forces withdraw and the puppet government falls or is replaced by a government even more lock and step with Iran?

Finally, it is the impotence of the so called moderate regimes that strengthened the resistance camp and gave Iran increased credential. They have failed to deliver what they promised they can deliver through moderation. Lately, it even got ugly as they committed the cardinal sin in the eyes of most Arabs and Muslims by siding with Israel against the Gazans and before them against Lebanon. Their shortsightedness and desperate attempt to gain American favors did them no good. The current Egyptian fiasco against HA will only have a temporary effect, which will evaporate at the first sign of further Israeli aggression against Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, or Iran. With Natenyahu at the helm, that is an almost assured thing. It is only a matter of when.

In summary, I believe that like any country, Iran has legitimate interests in its region. Attempting to contain Iran instead of working with her, especially on legitimate issues is a belligerent act no one can afford.

April 17th, 2009, 8:14 am


Off the Wall said:

Distracted a little, as you can see.
Back to work. Thanks for the reminder

Fully agree, Empathy is very important. I served for few years as an Ombudsman (before TQ called my dean :)). And we were trained, very heavily to leave sympathy out and to bring only empathy and the ability to listen as the two primary skills we needed. This proved to be absolutely true in any attempt to broker a deal, especially in the most contentious and power asymmetric situations.

I have to leave now. Talk later.

April 17th, 2009, 8:35 am


majid said:

You’re blowing the Iran issue completely out of proportion. What legitimate interests does Iran have anywhere in the region? Historically, what did Iran do to the Palestinian issue? How can you be certain Iran will follow Turkey (assuming Turkey is a good model to emulate) in 20 to 30 years? Are you aware that this Iranian movement (let’s call it Khomeini movement for lack of better word) can be traced historically to at least 500 years and it is deeply rooted? What would Iran be able to do once the problem is resolved to undermine the situation? Nothing. The only States that are of relevance to the conflict are: Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – that is the countries that are geographically adjacent to the conflict. Even the rest of the Arab countries is a mere decor that would be included only for the sake fulfilling the requirement of Israeli integration into the Arab world for the purpose of trade, economic, cultural activities etc. Iran cannot be part of this arrangement. There is already a movement which started in Morocco and now moving into Egypt and eventually will sweep to the Gulf that will eliminate any attempt by the current regime of Iran to expand its so-called revolution outside its borders. It is not temporary as you like to think. Iran has done nothing to the Palestinians except undermining their movement. Syria and Lebanon should also take steps to terminate any Iranian influence outside what is considered normal relations among States. In other words, Iranian incursions into these States were due to circumstances that will no longer be relevant after their causes have been dealt with. Iran is acting in contravention of State sovereignties and this is something that should not be allowed to become an acceptable norm. Asking Iran to become a signatory to a regional arrangement in these circumstances would be rewarding it unduly for such behavior.

You also mention “Iraq has been sidelined from the Arab Israeli conflict, but how long would that last after the US forces withdraw and the puppet government falls or is replaced by a government even more lock and step with Iran?”

I would say this is a hypothetical question at the moment.

April 17th, 2009, 8:57 am


Karim said:

Ehsani look at this graph ,i think that you are harsh on Aref Dalila’s paper.Yes it seems that syrian economy has stagnated for the last 2,5 decades.


What make us angry is that in 1980 we had an higher GDP /capita than Turkey and from 2 to 4 times higher than Egyptian ,Tunisian and Morrocan ones ,today we are behind them and the Turkish GDP per capita from 4 times more important than ours,and you have on the graph the GDP per capita evolution compared to that of South Korea.

April 17th, 2009, 1:04 pm


Karim said:

Dr Landis some years ago asked two economists on this matter ,and the answer was between stagnation and regression.

April 17th, 2009, 1:12 pm


Karim said:

Majid and OTW ,the opinion of both regarding the Israeli Arab conflict make sense .

April 17th, 2009, 1:20 pm


trustquest said:

Nour, the exaggerated number of 50 is for sizing your party as not effective on the scenery of politic in Syria, and I did not mean any insult. Citing with AP is not a shame or opportunist, fact should be respected.
Off the wall: I think I need badly the course you described so I can lose empathy with people emotion as they express their outrage to rape on the national level.

Ehsani, the number I cited was taken from the factbook:
The numbers does not add up, I agree and you have said that before that the numbers coming from Syria are not accurate and most of the times do not makes sense. The GUY is doing his best and my aim from numbers is the relativity between steeling (or borrowing) and the budget, and the moral stand for the level of theft and national stand. I believe in moral standing, and yes I’m emotional, that I would not accept to listen to amoral lecture from the people who rapped my mother. In the National Syrian Censes on their site, the GDP for 2001 is 974008 millions Syrian pounds, which translate to $19.4 billion. The $54 billion is the PPP. In my view it is not a matter of state plagued with corruption it is a matter of a country deprived of liquidity and deprived of scalability of wealth which necessary for state function. I might have problem to overcome this matter and other subjects might cloud this matter as one part of the problem but I do see it as the whole problem which reflects on all other issue, as I believe it is all about money. But I know that me and you look at thing from two different prospective. I think part of the solution to would be a forthcoming of those issues and keep it out in the open to deal with it. The check of reality on the regime regarding his previous and current actions is what could put him in the defensive and might make him reasonable and it would push him for change, accountability and transparency. So, as you see our aim may be mutual but our ways is different.

April 17th, 2009, 1:31 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You initially indicated that Syria’s GDP was $54 billion in 2001 and that the country’s budget is $5 billion. You then stated the following:

“The thugs seized double the GDP by 2001 and left the country high and dry and you still want to defend them.”

Now, you revised the 2001 GDP to $ 19.4 billion (64% drop from the initial drop). I still don’t understand your thesis with respect to the budget to GDP ratio.

Suppose that there are indeed “thugs” with their hands in the treasury coffers, do you really think that they will keep a trace that you and I will be able to calculate and nail down as easily as you portray the situation? Is it so easy that your American CPA was able to figure out that this “goes beyond treason and theft”?

Is there corruption in Syria?

Yes, of course. However, you portray a picture where “people” just dip their hands in the cookie jar and grab a billion here and a billion there and if you look at the treasury’s ledger you can easily follow the money trail. This is false.

What does happen is that the state is starved of taxation revenues due to a massive cash based economy that operates outside the ability of the tax system. This benefit is enjoyed by almost every wealthy and established family-operated business and not only the “thugs”.

Another way the state loses is through uncompetitive tenders and contracts that go to the most connected rather than the highest bidder.

The corruption that is so widespread is also due to the incredibly low salaries of the country’s civil servants. Even mother Theresa will find it hard to resist the temptation of receiving a bribe if she had to live on $160 a month with three kids in Damascus. We must not be shocked to observe the level of corruption in Syria.We ought to be shocked if we did not notice any.

I don’t envy Syria’s treasury. On the one hand, it is starved of tax revenues from a public (mainly the wealthy) that refuses to accept the idea of paying taxes without receiving services. On the other hand, the state is expected to offer food, electricity and gasoline subsidies. It is also expected to educate every citizen for free both at school at university levels. In spite of all this, the public perception is still that it provides no services hence the refusal to pay.

Syria’s main problem is a bloated public sector with the state being in the business of running close to 250 businesses. Only 8 of those make any money (telecommunication and oil). This creates a massive drain on the budget.

The country will not turn the corner unless the public sector slims down by getting rid of its nonperforming assets. Fixing this sector is not possible in spite of government assurances to the contrary.

April 17th, 2009, 2:30 pm


norman said:

Happy independence day to Syria and all Syrians,

April 17th, 2009, 2:57 pm


majid said:

George Mitchel, US envoy to the ME and who is currently in the ME, declares that a COMPREHENSIVE Middle East peace is a US national interest specifically for the purpose of curbing Iran and dealing with its nuclear program.

HAARETZ reports that the Obama administration is preparing to launch a US initiative for mE peace based on the Arab Beirut-2002 initiative.

April 17th, 2009, 3:12 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You are 100% correct. Syria’s GDP growth rate has been vastly inadequate. Unless it almost doubles from its current growth trajectory, standards of living on a per capita basis will keep falling. In order to accomplish this, a decisive turn must be made with the way the economy is structured. I am not so sure that the leadership is ready to go down that path. Instead it seems to want to proceed slowly and cautiously into what it calls economic reform.
Incidentally, when did I ever speak harshly on Mr. Dalila?

April 17th, 2009, 3:36 pm


trustquest said:

Ehsani, if you are asking which number is right, I’ll tell you, I don’t know I did not make these numbers and I told you the numbers coming from different sources do not match in case of Syria, this is what you voiced before, this is what Dr. Daliah is saying in his lecture I refer to. But I based his number of $100 billion (borrowed by borrowers) outside Syria by 2001 by small group of people as not a fact but as a reference, and I don’t care if it is $100 B or $80 B, or I care about is the relativity of this number to the annual budget and the GDP (PPP) which I picked from Factbook as $54 billions. This means that at least twice the national GDP (PPP), out of the market, the question to you now what that mean and what are the consequences in this case. I know they did not put their hands in the cookie jar and I know that these huge sums created mainly through that steady period of unquestioning and “Jizia” like collection. And believe me the issue for me is not how they made the fortune the issue what is next?

My theory is that if you take the richest man in the US, my boss Mr. Buffett, $62 billions, has international corporations and spectrum of companies, and compare his wealth to the GDP (PPP) $14.3 trillions it would be of the annual spending budget it would be in the range of 0.004. Three are tons of rich people in the US on all scales of the pyramid, that move economy on all levels.

But if you take one of those not bloated as you said but rather, excuse me for not finding better word, lets say collector, who we have known by published documents from government of his wealth. He was a teacher and then in government position because of his brother and when he died, considering only his cash mainly outside the country, the percentage would be like 0.1 of the $54 B or %100 of the annual budget of the 2005 when they announce his wealth.

If we consider the other fact of scalability of wealth for each group of wealth we also find voids in the system that will never spark the economic engine, it will mute them. The other fact is that those cases deprive the state from liquidity which produced during sometime in it history and now is moving on one leg from 8 legs. You might say life goes on, I tell it might but zombie like life. This imbalance I think never happened with Saddam Hussen regime or any other regime in the area, relatively. This is his vulnerability set with him. This regime can not give out power, can not share power in fear of openness, can not use it since it will create imbalance ( the one who did are under big public pressure), can not get rid of the fortune, he has to move very slowly and try to stop time and hold ground on present.

Ehsani, Amen to what said above, I do not dispute any of what you are saying but I’m trying to add another factors and look from different angles to current economic situation which is seems to me is locked because of those factors I’m pointing to.
BTW, the article about Bothaina and comments has been wiped out and Syria news apologies for publishing the news.
Happy independance day,

April 17th, 2009, 4:55 pm


Off the Wall said:


Large scale corruption also slows GDP growth due to lost opportunity and the removal of sizable amount of cash from productive circulation.

Not that I know the difference between a million and a billion :), the figure mentioned by TQ is close to the one of many numbers provided by the UN statistics division, but as you and Nour suspected it is the PPP adjusted number. I went online to the UN economic statistics division to check the growth. There are few estimates for each country including UN, and the WB with the latter showing higher values than the former. For Syria, interesting is the lack of stable trend in GDP growth. Years of sizeable growth ( > 4%) can easily be followed by a year or two of negative growth. There were a couple of 25% growth per hear outliers in 1972 and in the early sixties. Same can be also said about BOP, but that always fluctuates even in richer countries. And has been positive for some reasonable stretched of time although not in 2004 and 2005, the last two years on record in the data base.

I can send Alex and Joshua few graphs to post later this weekend after I am done with few other issues if it is of interest to anyone.

I fully agree with you about Taxation. The problem is that unless the citizens are involved, at some level, in decisions regarding these services, they will never view them as services. Hence refusal to pay taxes. The rich do not consider these as needed services, since they send their kids to private schools and now private universities. (I am not against either). I remember local election lists, both independents and front parties seldom provided any local level programs. It is all about national issues. Politics is always local, and unless the Syrian government manage to bring local politics back to the local level, the social contract will be a distant irrelevant issue.

Wages are also important as you have described. Slimming the public sector is a good step, but it must also be accompanied by opening up opportunities to private sector to partake in managing, not necessarily owning public sector entities that have potential of being profitable and productive. I was very pleased to know that MBA programs do exist in Syria and that MBA graduates were in demand a couple of years back by some private sector companies and at rather decent wages. I was also impressed that a few companies were also looking to hire operations research grads, which is an incredible thing IMHO.

I am typing this on a computer manufatured by a company (lenovo) that is owned largely by the Chinese government, but it is managed by a fully independent board, with the government exercising nothing more than its rightful authority as the largest share holder, and even that is being done through independent investment firms. It does not appoint managers, engineers, or workers. Lenovo continues to be a profitable company never mind share value fluctuation, which is as normal as the air we breath. It took china a couple of decades to transition, but this provides a model for some (not all) of the public sector companies in Syria.

Finally, and this is not in defense of the regime, I think comparing individual developmental index between countries is not always sufficient. Are you aware of some composite indices that make it easier to compare two or three countries. One should not only look at per-capita GDP for it does not tell much about the actual share distribution. A healthy economy should continuously show a growth in middle class income, and i was unable to find any stats on that issue. I find that per-capita GDP index rather inaccurate especially in developing countries with sizable, yet unquantified proportion of the population being below the UN poverty line. Median income is probably more accurate, but it still is only a single point on a uni-variate distribution. I am more inclined to use joint probability distributions of income level and share of GDP if such statistics make any economic sense?. Do they?

April 17th, 2009, 5:37 pm


Karim said:

when did I ever speak harshly on Mr. Dalila?

Ehsani bey ,i could be wrong ,i dont have an infaillible memory but i remember that you criticized him some months ago or was it Michel Kilo ?
If my memory betrayed me plz accept my excuses.

April 17th, 2009, 6:20 pm


Shai said:

Very interesting piece about a psychologist that interviewed / interrogated Sheikh Yassin and Samir Kuntar in prison for years: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1078849.html

April 17th, 2009, 6:27 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Thanks for the discussion and I hope we haven’t distracted you too much, it sounds like you’re up to something important 🙂

April 17th, 2009, 7:14 pm


Karim said:

OTW ,you are right ,but if we look at more accurate indicators,,like the per capita GDP(PPP),the PNUD indicator,the transparency index,business indicators,freedom indicators, the situation is almost the same.

April 17th, 2009, 7:56 pm


EHSANI2 said:


It was Mr. Kilo and not Mr. Dalila that I commented on months ago.

Dear Off The Wall,

Nirvana for economies is a world in which productivity growth rates are high. A country enjoys higher standards of living when it grows at its potential. The word potential is derived from the following:

Labor force growth + Productivity growth = Potential real GDP growth.

In the case of the U.S. its 1% +2% = 3%. So long as the U.S. economy can grow at 3.0% or higher (on a real inflation adjusted basis), standards of living are increasing while new entrants in the labor force are absorbed and have a job ready for them as they seek it. Since measured inflation in the U.S is around 2%, this means that nominal GDP growth at 5.0% (3% real + 2% inflation) is that country’s nirvana situation.

Syria’s labor growth is of course much higher. So is the inflation rate. Productivity is hardest to measure but I suspect is rather low. This is why people feel like they are falling behind. Failing to grow at potential means those entering the labor force cannot find the jobs they seek (estimated at 250,000 a year).

China has figured that their potential growth rate is close to 8%. The leadership there decided that only by growing at that pace will the country hit that sweet spot of growing fast enough to raise standards living but not too fast to increase inflation.

Productivity is incidentally the ability to produce an extra unit of output/income with the same labor and other inputs of production.

April 17th, 2009, 8:16 pm


Off the Wall said:

Thank you very much for the excellent tutorial. It is now much easier for me to read these numbers.

Yes, unfortunately. There is a need for a paradigm shift.

April 17th, 2009, 10:56 pm


Yossi said:

Emanuel: Make A Deal At All Costs


…“In the next four years, there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister,” Mr. Emanuel was quoted as having said.

Mr. Emanuel’s words have been publicized amid reports the Obama administration has also informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Mr. Obama will not be able to meet with him early next month during his scheduled appearance at the American Israel Political Action Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Netanyahu had hoped to capitalize on the opportunity and meet with Mr. Obama during the annual conference, but the Americans informed the Israelis that Mr. Obama was not going to be “in town.”…


The settlers already started calling Rahm not to betray “his people”. They’re living in another planet.

April 18th, 2009, 4:11 am


majid said:


Not time to open Champaign yet. But it is time for little enjoyment. She surprised everyone despite all odds but she had a dream with an extraordinary voice and she was just an amateur. And it is also for you AP. So come on in. Join the dreamers. Over 12 million watched this YouTube already


April 18th, 2009, 6:06 am


Akbar Palace said:

The settlers already started calling Rahm not to betray “his people”.


The 78% of Jews who voted for Barack Obama (John Kerry and Al Gore with similar percentages) believe they all doing a “good thing” not only for Americans, but also for Israel.

You and Shai, I think, follow a similar path.

Me, I’m a small minority. I believe these American Jews have a surface knowledge of the peace process, where liberalism is their God and “peace” at any price is their direction forward.

Rahm Emmanuel, is the typical Jewish-American liberal. Deeply entrenched in the Democrat Party, active in the liberal Jewish Community, and ready to try anything to get a “peace treaty”.
These jewish political leaders, like all political leaders, play a different game of cards than the people who have to live with the results of their decision-making.

Not that any of this is hypothetical. The Oslo facade was exposed for what it was and the impatient crowds who pleaded with Israel to withdraw from occupied territory without conditions have seen the results in Lebanon and Gaza.

I am glad Obama is preparing for a permanant settlement. The two sides will present their goals and aspirations, and we’ll leave it to Barry and Hillary to iron out the wrinkles, publically, for all Jews and Arabs to hear. We’ll see who is reasonable, and who isn’t.

April 18th, 2009, 2:29 pm


Shai said:


You are comfortable with the new administration’s preoccupation with a “permanent settlement” (or, as we call it here “two states for two people”), just as I am, because we both know nothing will be achieved.

I’m beginning to think that Obama and his experts know this, but realize that making peace with, Syria for instance, cannot occur without the Palestinians in “the background”. Hence the administration’s declared plan of negotiations on multiple tracks in parallel.

My bet is that if Bibi is serious about peace with the Arab world (which is yet to be seen), we’ll see the Golan brought up far sooner than handing back the West Bank. As much as people in this region would like to first see the Palestinian state finally created, the way things look at the moment, I would venture to say it will be the last thing to happen, not the first.

In the meantime, there are a lot of dictatorships and Oslo-like agreements to go for… 🙂

(Did you see Obama’s handshake with Chavez? I guess most American Jews liked that as well…)

April 18th, 2009, 2:43 pm


Yossi said:

AP and Shai,

I find this statement from Emanuel important because it signifies that regardless of whether a solution is found or not, Israel is going to be held accountable for obstructing a solution, e.g. by continuing settlement building and it is also encouraging because Emanuel, as an American Jew, doesn’t feel he needs to get his cues from Jerusalem. It expresses a recognition that Israel is unable to make the right moves and needs to be dictated to, and I very much agree with that.

April 19th, 2009, 1:04 am


norman said:

Shai, Yossi,AP,

People who make peace between Israel and the Palestinians are the saviors of both people , It is time to look beyond today to tomorrow and the day after.

To collect Taxes Syria can start with something , the rich can not hide and they do all the time and that is real estate, the rich in Syria park their money in real Estate , Syria can tax that and that is something that can not be hidden,

One more thing they can do and that is to have a sale tax on non essentials , I believe India is doing that to collect better tax revenue,

They should though increase minimum wage if they have one and increase the salary of government employees,

April 19th, 2009, 1:55 am


Shai said:

The report on our Golan visit is at last finished (Part I): http://1r1f.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/visiting-the-golan-part-i/

Yossi, Norman,

I agree. I was also very happy to hear Emmanuel’s statement, especially as everyone was fearful of his “ties to Israel” earlier this year. I just read in Ha’aretz that Bibi’s idiotic precondition to renewing negotiations with the Palestinians (that they first recognize Israel as “The Jewish State”) was flatly REJECTED by the US Administration. Their response: “Negotiations without Preconditions!” As a party joke, I suggest Obama wear a “General De Gaulle” pin on his suit when meeting Netanyahu in Washington next month…

April 19th, 2009, 4:05 am


norman said:

QN ,what do you think?,

w w w . t u r k i s h w e e k l y . n e t

Hizbullah Projected To Win Lebanese Parliament Majority

Thursday, 23 April 2009

With quiet campaigning and moderate talk, Hizbullah is building its strength for Lebanon’s June 7 parliamentary elections – and the terrorist Shi’ite Muslim group and its allies stand a good chance of winning.

That could mean a stunning shake-up for one of the Middle East’s most volatile countries, replacing a pro-US government with a coalition dominated from behind the scenes by Hizbullah, the proxy of Iran and Syria in Lebanon.

The US ambassador in Beirut has already expressed concern, and Hizbullah’s opponents warn the consequence may be the West isolating Lebanon and Washington reducing its millions in aid.

But Hizbullah, whose name means “Party of God,” has taken the strategy of a low-key election campaign with a moderate message, aiming to show that a victory by its coalition should not scare anyone.

Hizbullah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has even said that if the coalition wins, it would invite its opponents to join in a national unity government to ensure stability. His deputy, Sheikh Naim Kassem, says the West will have to accept the election results.

Kassem said foreign diplomats are already approaching Hizbullah, “some wanting to open a new page.” Britain has said it is willing to talk to Hizbullah’s “political wing” and a Hizbullah member of the current parliament recently traveled to London.

The moderate tone is in part because Hizbullah does not want to suffer the same fate as Hamas, which won legislative elections in 2006 but was boycotted by the West and crippled by an Israeli-led closure of the Gaza Strip.

“There are pitfalls for winning or losing,” said Hizbullah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb. “They (Hizbullah) see the dangers of winning.”

Nevertheless, a Hizbullah win would almost certainly mean changes that would dismay the West and Israel. It would mean less pressure from Lebanon’s government to rein in Hizbullah’s arsenal of rockets pointed at the Jewish state and more backing for efforts to change Lebanon’s electoral system to solidify Shi’ite power further.

Israel’s worry is “whether Iran and Syria will succeed in adding Lebanon to their bloc,” said Israeli political analyst Barry Rubin. “It would be a huge defeat for the West.”

So far, Hizbullah has campaigned quietly, with none of its trademark fiery anti-Israel rallies. Its 11 candidates have been holding town hall meetings in Shi’ite villages, focusing on promises to root out corruption and improve government performance, and stressing government by consensus.

By contrast, leaders from the US-backed majority have held three splashy rallies since February before several thousand people in a Beirut hall, with balloons, confetti and speakers projected on a giant screen.

Nasrallah says Hizbullah knows that trying to dominate Lebanon’s politics would destabilize the country, which in the past four years nearly tumbled into a repeat of the 1975-1990 civil war as the pro-Syrian and pro-US camps struggled for the upper hand.

“In such a sectarian system, it is in the interest of Lebanon and its stability that there is understanding and partnership among Lebanese in running their country’s affairs,” he said in a recent televised speech.

Under Lebanon’s complex political system, no group can rule alone. The 128-member legislature must be half Christian and half-Muslim, with the Christians divided among Orthodox and Catholic parties and Muslims among Shi’ite, Sunni, Druse and Alawite sects. Moreover, in any government, the prime minister must be a Sunni, so Hizbullah would need allies from that sect.

Lebanon’s population of 4 million is roughly divided in thirds between Christians, Sunnis and Shi’ites, with smaller sects mixed in. The exact numbers are unknown because a census would be too politically risky – the last one was held in 1932.

The pro-US bloc – largely Sunnis with Christian allies – holds 70 seats in the 128-member parliament, so a handful of races could tip the balance.

Hizbullah’s 11 candidates will likely win easily given the movement’s overwhelming support among Shi’ites. Its coalition of pro-Syrian, Shi’ite and several Christian parties now has 58 seats in parliament. About 30 seats – from both camps – are reported to be toss-ups. But some political analysts believe Hizbullah’s coalition has a strong chance of winning a majority because smaller electoral districts created since the 2005 election favor its candidates. There are no reliable independent polls in Lebanon.

The leader of the pro-US bloc, Sunni billionaire Saad Hariri, has said a Hizbullah win would “put Lebanon into very difficult times,” threatening its economic growth.

In an interview with Beirut’s Naharnet news Website, US Ambassador Michele Sison warned that American relations with Lebanon – and future US aid – “will be evaluated in the context of the new government’s policies and statements.” Since 2006, the United States has committed over a billion dollars to Lebanon, including $410 million to the country’s security forces.

A victory by the pro-Syrian coalition would likely see Hizbullah pushing to fulfill its campaign promise to eliminate the sectarian distribution of parliament seats, which would boost the power of the growing Shi’ite population. Hizbullah would also see a win as a mandate for its opposition to US Middle East policies and its strong anti-Israeli line.

Turkish Weekly is an USAK Publication. USAK is the leading Ankara based Turkish think-tank.


April 23rd, 2009, 1:29 pm


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