Israeli-Syrian Peace: From Dialogue… to Details & Diplomacy

Posted by Qifa Nabki 

Thanks to all of the excellent participants on Syria Comment for generating a stimulating debate about the prospects and shape of a future Israeli-Syrian peace deal.

The comment board, as of this moment, is nearing 300 posts, amounting to 75,000 words, which is equivalent to a printed book over 200 pages long. While not all of the musings may be ready for print quite yet, the sheer volume and quality of many of the exchanges demonstrate that there is a real desire on both sides of the border for a solution to this decades-old problem.

Of course, the debate contained many dissenters, perhaps best characterized by the posts of Joe M. and AnotherIsraeliGuy:

Joe M. said:
For there to be peace, Israel must recognize its crimes (including the crime of its existence), it must admit to them, and it must repent. In my view, the best way for this to happen is similar to the history of South Africa. Until Israel allows Palestinians the rights of citizenship in their own land, there will not be peace. There will not be peace with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan… In the mean time, there will be periods without war, but there will not be peace.
It is up to Israel. Just as it was up to the whites of South Africa. The Jews have all the moral and political responsibility.

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:
…There will not be peace until the Arabs stop living in denial and understand that history has no rewind button.
But don’t worry, we Israelis can wait. Let’s talk again after 50 years of Hamas rule in Gaza and 50 years of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Syria and Egypt and 50 years of Hizballah rule in Lebanon. There is no hurry. I am sure the Arabs will be in a much better position then. We waited 60 years for peace, we can wait another 50.

 There were also many who expressed a cautious hopefulness, but pointed out the problems in Dr. Alon Liel’s proposal:  

ALEX said:
From all those discussions, I can summarize the most common objections to your plan in two lines
1) Peace Park implies partial Syrian sovereignty over the Golan.
2) Syrians Can’t allow their government to sell their friends or neighbors for their own selfish benefit.
To you those are the evil “Hamas” “Iran” and “Hizbollah” .. to the Syrian people they are really Half the Lebanese people, half the Palestinians, and … the 71 million Iranian people who consider Syria their best friend in the world.

…what Israel really needs is Peace with the Arabs, not Peace with Syria. Israel has Peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, but then what? Can an Israeli tourist walk Amman or Cairo streets with any sense of security?
So trying to do it by piecemeal is not a solution and would never produce results as long as the conflict is not put into its correct context. Land for Peace, yes, but with a full resolution to the main issue being the Palestinians. Peace with justice and without hegmony. That is what is needed. Peace, not Peace Treaties.

Mr. Liel’s attempt to guide the region to peace may be well-intentioned. But it certainly suffers from a few fatal flaws:
1) It links Damascus’ regional interests and activities as if they were based exclusively on territorial sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is in fact not the case since Damascus’ activities are influenced more by its positioning in a regional and international power dynamic rather than questions of territorial sovereignty.
2) In pursuing a road to “peace,” it asks of Damascus precisely what those on the road to war and isolation are asking: the isolation of Damascus from its regional allies (such as Iran, key Palestinian organizations, etc); a change in Syria’s “regional orientation,” which is a euphemism for the abandonment of what it perceives as its interests and independence; a false Syrian sovereignty which does not allow Syrians to live in the Heights, a Syrian military presence (something which Israel has never done, and nobody has ever dared to ask it to do) in the Heights, or even Syrian control of the natural resources on its own land.
3) Finally and furthermore, the only difference Liel’s approach has to that of the hawkish camps is that it seeks mostly non-violent means of eclipsing Syrian independence and sovereignty by bringing it under the wing of US and Israeli control (to serve the interests of those two powers), rather than a mostly violent military confrontation. These are superficial differences at best which might mean no loss of life in the immediate future, but are certainly not a resolution to the current situation.

 With these considerations in mind, several of the participants began debating particulars, and an important discussion emerged between Alon Liel, Shai, Alex, Sami D., and others. While most everyone seems to agree that what is needed is a “comprehensive peace”, it is still possible to detect two different approaches to the problem, on the Syrian/Arab side. The first is expressed by Sami D., who believes that Dr. Alon Liel’s proposal (which is much more progressive than the mainstream Israeli line) is still highly unrealistic. This approach makes it very difficult to imagine a Syrian-Israeli peace that is not accompanied by a complete solution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict. 

Sami D. said:

Almost the entire presentation of Mr. Liel requires that Syrians commentators accept the Israeli propaganda portrayal of the conflict, which necessitates a reversal of cause and effect: That Israel came in peace, but that the Palestinians and Arabs are the aggressors, perhaps out of “their anti-Semitism.” Not only that, but a continuation of Israeli theft of water resources is expected to be respected and abetted by Syria!! “The Syrian window of opportunity is wide open” indeed, and has been since the beginning, to bow to Israeli conquest and US hegemony. And Syria might just do that, an indication of weakness.
The Israeli window of opportunity for real peace, on the other hand, has also been open for quite some time. Israel has the opportunity to make real peace by stopping its conquest and quest to dominate the region, on behalf of itself and the United States. Another important thing on the path of peace is for you Mr Liel, as for genuine peace-loving Israelis to, at minimum, respect the intelligence of the adversary.
Exchanging Israeli control and domination for a different means to achieve the same Israeli control and domination, using the required Orwellian language (“nature reserve” and “not depriving” Israel of Syrian water, etc) is not only an affront to peace, but an insult to the intelligence of the Syrians people. You make no obligations on Israel to stop any of its aggression, even basic gestures like ending its denial of Palestinian rights. In other words, what you propose is occupation in sheep’s clothing.
To achieve real peace there has to be basic parameters that both sides will agree on: Namely, basic human rights and international law – nothing novel about that. Occupation and subjugation of another people must end, land must get returned to its owners, resource theft ceased, right of return for refugees granted. We can’t dismiss these basic parameters as “impractical” or “not pragmatic” just to allay Israeli people’s insecurity, real or imagined, while in the process watching Israeli state conquer and take other people’s land and resources – the original reason of its supposed insecurity.

 Alex presents a slightly more hopeful approach, content to make headway toward a “comprehensive peace” through the example of a successful Syrian-Israeli deal. He addresses the obstacles below: 

 Alex said:

I understand Israel’s fears from Ahmadinejad’s Iran. He is not very friendly, and Iran is a powerful nation hwhich is in the process of acquiring nuclear technology. But I share Halevy’s opinion that dealing with Iran should not be through the use of force or even through sanctions. You should try to gain Iran back as a friend. You can… but only when you also try to gain, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians as friends… comprehensive peace, not separate deals. I’m afraid Israel is not close to agreeing with this suggestion.

Kicking Mashaal out of Damascus has one probably outcome … relations between Syria and the Palestinians will deteriorate. Syria worked for decades to become perhaps the most trustworthy Arab country in the minds of the Iranian and Palestinian people, and Israel is asking Syria to “drop those cards”…

So what will Israel get instead of “flipping Syria”?
1) Hizbollah will easily convert itself into a political party and turn its weapons to the Lebanese army…

2) Hamas will accept to moderate its views. It will practically agree to not interfere even if it officially does not accept Israel’s right to exist. Hamas will agree to a 50 year truce for example if Israel agrees to respect UN resolutions 242 and 338.

The Iranian threat has been highly exaggerated. It is more likely that there is a need in Washington and Israel to teach the Iranians a lesson for their daring to openly challenge both countries.

Confidence building measures:
Both countries need to produce some CBM’s. Syria is not the only side which needs to reach out.

The Syrians can try this one:

Organizing a large event to honor Syria’s Jews. Large numbers of Syrian Jews would be invited to Syria to participate in the festivities. it will show Israelis that Syria is proud of its Jews even though they are now outside. Syrian Jews would be very happy to come back to Damascus and Aleppo for few weeks to participate in such a festival.

Israel can simply start to use a different tone from the one used in Washington the past few years. There are no closed doors but … Treating Syria as an equal is a prerequisite to a successful start, or finish, of the peace process… Keep that part in mind and you will know how to get Syria more motivated.


In an effort to further instrumentalize this productive dialogue, I would like to challenge Syria Comment contributors to weigh in on the following questions:

1) If the only viable peace is a comprehensive one, do you believe that Syria should lead or follow? In other words, is it even useful to begin talking about a Syrian-Israeli deal, or must those details wait until the Middle East has transformed completely? (AIG and others would like to see democratic Arab regimes before peace, and Sami D. would like to see Israeli atonement and recognition for crimes committed against the Palestinians, before a regional deal is reached.) What do you believe?

2) Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s): A few CBM’s have been raised; can people suggest others that would help to pave the way for bolder policy initiatives?

3) Peace Park: The Israelis remind us that it was our idea in the first place. The Syrians don’t seem to think much of it. What do you say?

4) Hamas & Hizbullah: Alex and others have suggested that Hamas and Hizbullah can be moderated (or will moderate themselves) once a peace deal is reached. Do you believe this? How will this work?

Comments (148)

Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Thank you for this interesting link. I believe your insight as Director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma is truly paying off. For example, the comment you referenced by Joe M. would be very easy for the Zionists to accomplish:

For there to be peace, Israel must recognize its crimes (including the crime of its existence), it must admit to them, and it must repent.

I can imagine (which I’m sure you can as well) the Israeli government recognizing their “crime of its existence”.

Israel would be the first country in history to claim they shouldn’t be a country. Maybe we’ll request the Syrians to proclaim the “crime of their existence”. After all, Syria wasn’t a state until 1946. And France should proclaim their crime as well.

In my view, the best way for this to happen is similar to the history of South Africa.

South Africa is still called South Africa. Only the government changed.

Until Israel allows Palestinians the rights of citizenship in their own land, there will not be peace.

They do! Only Palestinians have no rights of citizenship in ARAB lands. (cuckoo clock sound)

There will not be peace with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan… In the mean time, there will be periods without war, but there will not be peace.

We are on Earth, not Mars or Jupiter. There is already a peace with Egypt and Jordan. Please come back and see what you are missing!

It is up to Israel. Just as it was up to the whites of South Africa. The Jews have all the moral and political responsibility.

Isn’t this always the case? Tell me something I don’t know.

Professor Josh – Good pick! Kudos to you and your peace initiative!

January 31st, 2008, 9:16 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You’re not reading closely enough:

1. The post was by me, not Prof. Landis.

2. The quote from Joe M. was an example of a “dissenting” voice from the debate.

January 31st, 2008, 9:22 pm


offended said:

Here is my reply to the questions posed by Shai (posted on the earlier entry, and involuntarily missed by Qifa : )):

“Shai, I don’t know whether you want to know my own take on these issues, or you’d like to know what I think the answers of the Syrian majority will be?
Anyway I am giving my own thoughts here, and will shed a light on the Syrian public opinion when possible.
1- The idea of a peace park is fashionable, but it will give the impression that Syria will not have full sovereignty over its land. Come to think of it, this is not a disarmament zone or a buffer zone; you are making it compulsory for Syria to grant access for Israelis to enter the park (part of which will be Syrian).
As for confidence building, I can’t think of anything off hand that can do good on this regard. Give me some time to think. But then, why don’t we reverse the question in the mean time: what would the Israeli public like to see Syrians doing as a gesture of good will?
2- The concerns of the Israeli public are quite understandable, however, you need to know that things have changed since the artillery shelling; Syrian people (the majority of them) are sick and tired of this status quo of no-peace no-war. Uncertainty yields anxiety.
3- You have to understand the sentiments here in Syria; supporting Hamas and Hezbollah stems from the drive for Arab solidarity. Hence, my belief is that peace should be comprehensive. On the question of how can Syria justify continuing the support for those two parties while negotiating peace: I will tell you one thing, Israel had never stopped expanding its settlements, or exercising its security operations while negotiating with the Palestinians.
(by the way, what you perceive as support is merely political courting to us, specially with regards to Hamas)
4- As for Bashar going to Jursaleim: I think he was asked this question once in an interview, I can’t recall it right now. But I think he said something to the effect of that he would like such visit to be more productive and meaningful than a photo opt or an emotional speech. And that serious preparations and common grounds had to be reached first…
Shai, I tried to answer your questions with utmost honesty. Now I need you to tell me with honesty: how close are we to each other? (Apart from the time zone thing ; )) “

January 31st, 2008, 10:13 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Thanks for posting your reply. (I actually did not miss it… I almost included it, but the summary was already getting too long.)

I don’t recall if Shai responded to you or not.

January 31st, 2008, 10:59 pm


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Thank you for being the only disciplined author on Syria Comment.

75,000 words?!

I will summarize below my answers to your questions by copying them from the previous post. That will help us get more organized.

January 31st, 2008, 11:11 pm


Akbar Palace said:

2. The quote from Joe M. was an example of a “dissenting” voice from the debate.

Qifa Nabki –

Hey, if you want to post comedy, I think that’s great.

The “crime of its existence”(LOL).

January 31st, 2008, 11:29 pm


Alex said:

1) If the only viable peace is a comprehensive one, do you believe that Syria should lead or follow?

This is a fundamental question. I do not have a clear answer to it, but I have two points to make:

– On the one hand, Syria can technically sign a separate peace agreement after Yasser Arafat and Fatah consistently told the Syrians in the 90’s that they would like to have their full independence … they do not want Syria to wait for them and they do not want to wait for Syria… and they certainly do not want Syria to interfere in their decision making.

Before the 90’s, Hafez Assad was not willing to consider going to any negotiations without the Palestinians next to him.

– On the other hand, the Syrian people, as we can see from our sample here (even though we are not a scientific sample of the 20 million Syrians) that there are strong feelings for the Palestinians who are really suffering under the often painful Israeli occupation. I wonder how the other Syrians feel about this question. Most Syrians are below the age of 25 … will these young people be happy when they enjoy the “peace dividends” (fast internet connection, higher salaries, international celebrities stars visiting Syria after the end of its isolation …) or would they feel guilty when they watch Aljazeera at night and see the poor people of Gaza and the West Bank suffering (and occasionally dying) under the ongoing Israeli occupation.

It is a mistake to think that Syrian leaders (Hafez and Bashar) take major decisions without considering public opinion. Hafez Assad used to consult a carefully assembled group of advisers who represented Syrian Christians, Damascene elites, villagers, Baath members, Alawite community, security services …etc.

Here is a quote about Kissinger’s experience negotiating with Hafez (and Sadat):

“In conference with the Israelis, Kissinger contrasted Sadat and Assad: ‘Sadat has a fixed determination to overcome obstacles and move toward peace. He makes big moves and breaks impasses. With Assad, each issue when you get to it becomes major, and you have to bargain over every point. It’s so time consuming! Sadat makes command decisions. Assad had his lieutenants there, and I had to convince them too.’ In describing Assad, Kissinger was also describing the Israelis to themselves.”

Israel should pay attention to what the Syrian people think and feel … it is a mistake to think Assad will negotiate some selfish deal that the Syrian people will hate. The Syrians remember what happened to Sadat.

2) Confidence Building Measures (CBM’s):

The Syrians can try this one:

Organizing a large event to honor Syria’s Jews. Large numbers of Syrian Jews would be invited to Syria to participate in the festivities. it will show Israelis that Syria is proud of its Jews even though they are now outside. Syrian Jews would be very happy to come back to Damascus and Aleppo for few weeks to participate in such a festival.

Israel can simply start to use a different tone from the one used in Washington the past few years.

3) Peace Park:

Not doable. Syria would never accept a conditional withdrawal from the Golan (we will withdraw if we decide that Syria did its homework) and I can not imagine how Syria will accept partial sovereignty on its occupied golan Heights (Israelis can enter the Golan without a visa … which means there will be a border between Syria and the Golan). A general rule of thumb: Syria will probably not accept anything less than what Sadat was offered.

4) Hamas & Hizbullah:

Hizbollah can indeed moderate itself. This part is obvious. It will give its arms to the Lebanese army and turn into a poitical party.

Hamas will be a more indirect case of moderation. They might recognize Israel if Israel shows flexibility on the Palestinian track, or they might at least declare a 50 year truce … which practically means that they are out of business… at least militarily.

And Iran … Ahmadinejad will leave sometime after the Bush administration leaves. Iran can have a Rafsanjani for its next president (highly pragmatic billionaire businessman), or a Khatemi (very pleasant Ph.D. in theology)

It is up to Israel (with the help of Syria if needed) to have very good relations with Iran.


Comprehensive peace is inescapable … Israel’s problems can be best addressed when others’ problems are addressed.

January 31st, 2008, 11:59 pm


ausamaa said:

Qifa Nanouh,

Very articulate analysis, especially the opening paragraph:

“for generating a stimulating debate about the prospects and shape of a future Israeli-Syrian peace deal”.

But my dear, whoever thinks in such “isolationist”, “cold” and “calculating” terms, gets them nowhere in the end!

You just miss a lot of historic realities that shares forming a Strategic stand.

Maybe you are far away from the “homeland” and the math seem simpler from where you may be. But with the Ba’ath in power, with Bashar as a President or not, with “Investments” flowing into Syria or not; a Syrian-Israeli Peace Deal is not in the cards on its own. An Arab-Israeli temporary Peace Deal may be reached, but with the Golan, the West Bank and Gaza, occupied Lebanese land, and a clear resolution to Syrian (Arab!) security and soverignity needs is not possible. Syria has a pan-Arab strategic mission, wether you guys like to acknowledge it or not.

Simply put, ask yourself, or your Syrian friends, which song steers the feelings of all Syrians. Ba’athies, MB’s, Communists, Reformerists, even Khadamists when they get their senses back; it is the Arab Mission or the Syrian Mission. No articulate calculations take this in account, but it is what steers the feelings of each Syrian come flood or high water. In Arabic, it goes like this:
بلاد العرب أوطاني
من الشام لبغدان
و من نجدالى يمن
الى مصر فتطوان

For those who speak Arabic, this sums up the real Syrian position. Ideological? Yes. Out-moded? Yes. But this is what we Syrians are about. We are the beating heart of Arab Nationaliem which Oil, Money and Threats can not erode. That is the core and may be the subconcious motivation of the Syrian people. For every single Syrian. We see things different from some new others. We ruled an empire stretching from China to Spain. We eventually defeated all outsiders, and we maintained our dignity and bride throughout our history despite the temporary setbacks and the the few ,or many, faults that few deficiencies our government and society suffer from. To many readers of this blog, this may sound like sentametalisem at its zenith, but this is what Syria, Ba’athis or not is all about. And the price for taking such a position is peanuts comparec to the costs of deviating from it. Yes, we blew up the plane for the new Niddle East, and we crippled, with our friends the Grand Design for the “new” Iraq, and yes, we have “the” influential say in what goes on in Labanon and occupied Palestine. And we are here to stay and to shape things, not to Syrian liking, but to Arab interst. And we are steady on our course, through out the rule of Hafiz al Assad down to the rule of Bashar. Because we are good enough and daring enough to call off the bluffs and to pay the price when needed. We beleive in the streagnth of our People and our Nation. We have done so through the days of Zenobia, Saladin, to MIchell Aflaq, to Constantine, to Sultan Al Atrach to Youssef Al Azma, Shukry Al Qouatly, Amin Al Hafiz, Hafez al Assad, and on to this day, And it is as true when Fairuz sings:

قرأت مجدك في قلبي و في الكتب
شأم ما المجد انت المجد لم يغب:


و الأنتصار لعالي الرأس منحسم
حلوا كما الموت جئت الموت لم تهب
شأم, ما المجد؟ أنت المجد لم يغب

Syria has a mission, and that what deternmines its strategy. Not survival of the regime, not narrow intersts, not adventurisem or opportunism or survival of the regime. It is rather the Higher intersts and the well-being of the Arab Nation.A nation that once dominated the world from the far cornersd of China to the Shores of the Atlantic. A feeling, and a mission, that only those who take pride in it can understand it.

Like it or not, understand it or not. This is what Strategic and consistant Syria is all about, and not a simplistic “From Dialogue… to Details & Diplomacy ”

No Sir.. history does prove that it sure isnt. Can we take the above in i=consideration when talikng abiut Syria, It not Jordan or Sausi after all. Its thousands of years of history and civilization and heritage. Not a traded share on an uncertain and newly concocted stock exchange, nor a briefe stop over for an Air Force One hastely prepared trip.

Can we rename this post: “From Diplomacy…to Geopolitical Realities and Historic Precedents”?

Sentimental? Maybe. But confident, proud and persistant.

February 1st, 2008, 1:58 am


norman said:

Obama wants talks with Syria and Iran , He might be the only chance for peace in the Mideast,Any thoughts?.

Obama would talk with Iran and Syria

Jerusalem Post staff and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 31, 2008


US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would favor holding direct talks with Iran and Syria in a bid to stabilize the Middle East if elected president.

In an interview with France’s Paris Match on Thursday, Obama said: “I want to have direct talks with countries like Iran and Syria because I don’t believe we can stabilize the region unless not just our friends but also our enemies are involved in these discussions.”

He was also quoted as saying he would also hold a summit with leaders of Muslim states to address the growing gap between the West and the world of Islam.

The Illinois senator added that to repair the image of the United States in the world, he would “put an end to the war in Iraq.”

“Occupying the country has put the odds against us with the world,” Obama said.

Meanwhile, a visiting Iranian official said Thursday in Cairo that Iran and Egypt would work together to resolve the Middle East’s top crises such as in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and that both wanted to upgrade their diplomatic relations, severed nearly three decades ago. But the Egyptians did not comment on the remarks – as they hadn’t on those the day before by the Iranian parliament speaker who said Egypt and Iran would soon restore full ties.

Cairo’s silence indicated that, despite the flurry of visiting Iranian officials and an apparent thaw between the two states, Egypt expects more than just words from Teheran. The Mideast Sunni powerhouse has always maintained that normal diplomatic relations would come only after the overwhelmingly Shi’ite Iran stopped meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

Teheran cut diplomatic ties after Cairo signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Iranian Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi.

Ali Akbar Natiqnouri, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamnei, spoke after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday in Cairo.

“It has been decided that we and Egypt will work together for more coordination on regional issues such Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine,” Natiqnouri said. “Iran and Egypt are key regional nations and have too many things in common.”

In May, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered to restore ties with Egypt, a strong US ally. At the time, Ahmadinejad said his country was ready to open an embassy in Cairo as soon as Egypt agreed to do the same in Teheran. The Iranian president has since repeated his offer, most recently this month.

But Egypt has also said that full diplomatic relations could only be restored if Iran takes down a large mural of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s assassin, Khaled el-Islambouli, and changes the name of a street honoring him.

Islambouli was one of the army officers who killed Sadat during a military parade in 1981. Egypt executed him by firing squad soon thereafter.

Several times over the last few years, Teheran has said it would change the street name, but the image of Islambouli shouting behind bars marked with a Star of David continues to loom down over the street bearing his name.

Natiqnouri played down the mural issue, calling it “marginal.”



This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1201523805846&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

[ Back to the Article ]

Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post –

February 1st, 2008, 2:26 am


norman said:


And that is why I am proud of Syria and it’s goverment as , I am sure , many of us here.

February 1st, 2008, 2:36 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

Sentimental? Maybe. But confident, proud and persistant.

Ausamaa, I’m not one to rain on anyone’s personal patriotism parade. That’s great… whatever blows your skirt up.

If you want to praise the heroes of Syrian pan-Arab nationalism, such as Zenobia (a Greek-Egyptian) and Saladin (an Iraqi Kurd), that’s cool. If you were American, it would be cowboys and indians; if you were Moroccan, it might be the great Berber nation of North Africa. Everybody’s got a reason to feel unique, proud, and all the rest of it.

February 1st, 2008, 2:39 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And people do not understand why I am so confident about Israel’s future. Just read what Ausamaa (A USA MA?) writes. As long as the Arab dictators can count on this senitmentality to sell their BS instead of better education, economic growth and freedom Israel will be the dominant state in the mid east.

Seriously, Hafez was good? His track record is worse than Idi Amin’s. He lost the Golan as defense minister and as the president consistently lost ground to Israel militarily and economically. By any objective measure he was utter disaster.

February 1st, 2008, 3:38 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Worthwhile interview with Paul Salem:

NOW Lebanon: How do Sunday’s events change the political situation?

Paul Salem: Well, I think it didn’t come alone. In the last two weeks, there’s been a bombing of an embassy car, the assassination on Friday [of ISF Officer Wissam Eid] and then the events on Sunday. Previously, François al-Hajj. One pattern that seems to be emerging is that since Michel Sleiman became a serious candidate for the presidency, somebody’s been out to get the army and security forces. One aspect of what happened Sunday was making strong statements against the army, which also seemed a bit surprising to me, and seemed to indicate a kind of agenda.

NOW: What changed about Sleiman that made the two sides change their minds about him?

Salem: I’ve been trying to figure it out. Part of the analysis might be that after Nahr al-Bared, he started taking himself more seriously, him and his team. It was the first sustained, long battle the Lebanese army has fought, really. [It received] total support in Lebanon, total support in the Arab world, total support in every single capital around the world. The army hung together, fought well, without much equipment, technology or training, but they hung together; good esprit de corps and good leadership is the most important thing. Beirut airport, receiving US military planes? Under Syria’s watch? This is big stuff. And then for the Pentagon to say, basically, “We’re okay with this guy,” and for the Russian’s to say, “We’re okay with this guy,” he began to feel he is quite a guy…

This is not the first time. The killing of Hajj was partly to say, “Even if you become president, don’t think you’re going to do anything,” to make it clear that Emile Lahoud is the model, not Napoleon.

NOW: Is Sleiman still a viable consensus candidate?

Salem: I think he is. In terms of public discourse, he is the candidate. I don’t think anybody will come out soon and say he’s not. On the other hand, it’s quite obvious that he’s not really the candidate that March 8 wants. But I think he will remain the name in the game, because part of the game is postponing. …

NOW: Do you think the crisis will last that long?

Salem: Yes. The crisis really started in 2006, the paralysis. The presidential vacuum was just one element of a general vacuum. It just completed the picture. If you look at the basic facts, the strategic political situation, since November of 2006, has been no go, no deal; “You either give us what we want or we’ll wait until 2009.” And that’s actually what Nasrallah said in 2006. He said, “We’ll wait.” That’s what Aoun has said many times, because in 2009, the term of parliament will be over, so there’s no longer the majority. Because there’s no parliament, and Bush would no longer be around, they would hope that whoever is in the White House would not care that much about Lebanon, and they could just go about and do what they want.

NOW: Syria was originally on board with the Arab initiative, at least on paper. What happened?

Salem: This is an old game. Syria has been the black sheep of the family and has played that role at least since the late 1970s [when it was] allied with Iran against Iraq, and the whole world supported Iraq. The Saudis got pissed off at the Syrians and Egypt got pissed off at the Syrians. That’s the way it’s been, but as long as Syria has Lebanon, is allied with Iran and has influence with the Palestinians, that’s fine. It keeps Egypt and Saudi Arabia at bay.

Nor is it bad for Iran, because Iran is very worried that Syria will make friends with Egypt and Saudi Arabia one day, join the Arab fold, make peace with Israel and be the darling of the United States like Sadat did, like King Hussein did, like all the Arabs do. He’s the last guy they have. Well, now they have Iraq.

They don’t want them to be too happy with the Arabs, either. So they say, “Forget the Arabs, we’ll help you out. If you get too close to the Arabs, we’ll be pretty pissed off.”

NOW: Then why would the Arab leaders go through the motions if Syria was going to back out anyway?

Salem: Well, look what happened before. The plan was for March 14 to use the half-plus-one to elect a March 14 guy. That was the plan, and they backed down from that. Then they backed down from all of their own candidates, then they started discussing other candidates, which was already a big climb down for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the US, Jordan, etc. Then they finally said, “What the hell, we’ll take your candidate. That’s got to work,” because they all want to coax Syria away from Iran. “So we’ll take your candidate, but help us out and well be friends.”

And then the Syrians said, “No, you’re being so compromising and nice that the threat must be over. If you’re offering us this much now, then you’ll offer us much more six months from now, or a year from now.” This has been their bargaining style for decades, this is how they operate. It’s like bargaining in a bazaar… And they know that the Americans are going to come back to them and that the Saudis are going to come back to them, because there’s nowhere else to go. They hold enough of the cards to be indispensible. So the Saudis, the Egyptians and the Americans will walk away from the store, but they’re coming back. So we’ve ended the confrontation, and we’ve now begun bargaining.

The US approach to bargaining is, “Hi, I’m Bob. Let’s shake on it and make a deal, and we’re done.” That’s not the Syrian or Iranian style. You want to make a deal, okay, we’ll start bargaining; we’ll have coffee and talk. We’ll go and come back for a long time. And Bush and Sarkozy get all upset, but this is normal. They’re bargaining. They’re just not getting what they want, so they’ll wait.

[Read the rest]

February 1st, 2008, 4:00 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

With Likud in charge, Netanyahu waiting the wings and Labour having assumed the Likud position, not to mention Elliott Abrams running the ME desk in the US State Dept, neither Israel nor the US can be trusted and therefore Syria can’t take the chance of any deal.

February 1st, 2008, 4:02 am


Alex said:


I am often accused of being “a proud Syrian”. you just made me a 0.25 x proud Syrian.

I have good friends who share your feelings. But I realize that not everyone wants Syria to be that committed to Arab nationalism. I think the average Syrian is now more focused on his/her close environment … Syria, Lebanon, palestine and… That’s it. Plus Iraq of course.

I don’t think Syrians care about Algeria and Mauritania anymore.Do they.

February 1st, 2008, 4:12 am


norman said:

I Think they do , at least I still do , Not as one state but mutiple states in one Arab United states.

February 1st, 2008, 4:17 am


Alex said:

Norman and Ausamaa,

Please be honest when you answer this question:

Over the past two years … What is the ratio of hours you spent reading about Syrian or Lebanese or Palestinian or Iraqi news, compared to the hours you spent reading about Sudanese news. This insignificant story for example.

February 1st, 2008, 5:27 am


Youssef Hanna said:


When late Hafez el Assad passed on the objection of Kamal Joumblatt (a euphemistic expressing of the fate reserved to the latter),and, in agreement with the U.S.A, smashed the PLO power project in Lebanon, thus rescuing the communautarian political sharing lebanese scheme favoring Christians, he got in return the Ikhwaan el moslimiin uprising. He succeeded in mustering it, but after killing enough thousands of Sunni Syrians to warrant that the SR must now strictly abide by the Arab ideology against Israel or face the deadly rebellion.

As expressed in Ausamaa’s proud post, there is no serious hope a minoritarian regime can settle this historical conflict. If ever the SR dares making the peace with Israel, the SR is most probably over shortly thereafter, either because the dictatorship owes its raison d’être, the emergency rule, the repression, to the state of war, or because the Sunni majority, more anti Israeli and religious than ever, will punish this defiant move.

Paradoxically indeed, peace is only done between true enemies. It can be done, consequently, i’m afraid, only after democracy can prevail in Syria, the Ikhwaan are empowered, take a very tough stand for some years, mature thereafter and are in a popular position to settle the centennial conflict.

February 1st, 2008, 6:59 am


annie said:

Norman, proud of the government ? In some respects, certainly but there would be more pride if all political prisonners were released.

As for Obama, he is stuck with the Israeli lobby. Yet, he is the best chance for the region.

AP : The “crime of its existence”(LOL).
The crime of its birth, no doubt

February 1st, 2008, 7:20 am


kamali said:

there will be no peace at all. war is closer than ever. who would sign peace? Israel? surely not. syria? yes. but you have to be strong to enforce peace on your enemies. it is as simple as that. in case of syria, it is decaying and getting weaker day after day. the elements of self-destruction are there to keep Israel away from any peace deal. the artificial arms of syria’s strength (Hizballa and the rest) are of no value on the long strategic power. those arms can one day be a source of big trouble to syria herself.

I like the AIG’s discussions because he touches on this truth that most of the syrians and their pros ignore. Can a country with no economic, political, cultural and social infrastructures sign a peace treaty? what if Mr Assad agreed a peace treaty today and his successor (if anyone in syria even dares to say this word) decided to turn over the table and change his/her mind? at least syria needs to have a level of multi evolution, compared to Egypt, Jordan, Gulf states to be able to talk about peace.

February 1st, 2008, 11:10 am


Akbar Palace said:

And we are steady on our course, through out the rule of Hafiz al Assad down to the rule of Bashar. Because we are good enough and daring enough to call off the bluffs and to pay the price when needed.

Ausamaa –

What “price” have the Syrians paid?

February 1st, 2008, 11:53 am


Qifa Nabki said:


I agree with everything you say.

But I’ll try to find something to criticize, just for fun.

February 1st, 2008, 12:18 pm


ausamaa said:

What “price” have the Syrians paid?

A heavy one perhaps and for hundreds of years, but less than we would have eventually paid if Syria did not take the stands it consistently takes.

And Alex,

I must say that I do not agree with your “decoupling” theory and that Syrians do not really care about Arab issues. They do. Much more than many other Arabs for sure, but they do. And dont underestimate the power of this underlying current. I did not read many articles about Sudan, but I “live” every thing that happens around us in the Arab World. And I really believe that those western devised borders will fall one day. They fell in Eroupe where nations destroyed each other in war after war in lands whose inhabitants spoke more different languages than you can count. And it is not merely because of economic or military factors. Its because of something called Common Identity. Perhaps that is why an evev Westernized Turkey is being kept out. Because it does not belong to that Common Identity.

Historical Proccesses take place slowly, but eventually things gravitate towards their roots. You always need Catalysts to be present, and I think the Syrian psych has many of those catylists firmly ingrained into it.

Staying in the West for extended period has its benifits in allowing wider prespective, better understanding of others, and an exposure to a host of seemingly convincing prespectives, but it also forces on ones a certain dissattachment from the realties of the puls of the real street in the area. That is why so many Grand Designs concocted, concocted by Experts in Policy making circles (as opposed to us ammature bloggers)in forigen lands fail so miserably once they are struck by the undersetimated intangable historical truths. And one of those truths is that Syrians do believe that they have a higher calling that trancends its current boarders into the wider Arab context. And man, that is why they are after us in Syria since day one. Not only to Demopcratise and Liberate and Civilze us, but to strip us from what make us what we are as the key to pocketing hw whole area. Why do you think Dubbya and the neo-cons see Syria their sleep?

February 1st, 2008, 12:51 pm


ausamaa said:

Last update – 01:51 01/02/2008

Amnesty Int’l: Winograd report fails to address Israel’s war crimes

By Haaretz Service

Tags: Amnesty International

Human rights organization Amnesty International on Thursday called the Winograd Commission’s final report on Israel’s conduct during the Second Lebanon War, published Wednesday, “deeply flawed,” in its failure to address war crimes committed by Israel.

The organization said that the report failed to investigate government policies and military strategies that didn’t discriminate between the Lebanese civilian population and Hezbollah combatants and between civilian property and infrastructure and military targets.

“This was yet another missed opportunity to address the policies and decisions behind the grave violations of international humanitarian law , including war crimes, committed by Israeli forces,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

“The indiscriminate killings of many Lebanese civilians not involved in the hostilities and the deliberate and wanton destruction of civilian properties and infrastructure on a massive scale were given no more than token consideration by the commission,” said Smart.

The press release explained that that though the Winograd inquiry committee was not vested with the powers of an official state commission of investigation, it had the power to subpoena witnesses and recommend the prosecution of officials it found to have been responsible for willful or negligent criminal conduct.

According to Amnesty International, “the [Winograd Commission] chose to limit its work to reviewing military strategy and political decisions…and made to effort to recommend measures for holding those responsible for [serious violations] to account. It recommends the development of mechanisms to ensure the effectiveness of fighting within the framework of international humanitarian law standards [and] immediate investigations by the army when there are concerns that international humanitarian law was violated and better preparedness for responding to humanitarian problems arising from military action.”

“But it essentially brushed aside available evidence of serious violations of international law, claiming that interpretations of international humanitarian law are controversial, that it did not have the capacity to deal with the volume of data, that the alleged violations were already being investigated by other bodies, and that such allegations are used as propaganda against Israel, whereas it did scrutinize military strategies and the conduct of certain operations in detail, including in cases which were already being investigated separately.”

Based on its on-the-ground research and analysis of the conduct of hostilities in 2006, Amnesty International concluded that the Lebanese civilian population paid the heaviest price for the Israel Defense Force attacks.

“Of some 1,190 people killed, the vast majority were civilians not involved in the hostilities, among them hundreds of children. The overwhelming majority of homes, properties and infrastructure targeted in air strikes and artillery attacks were likewise civilian.”

“Although the Winograd Commission recommended that the army review its policies on the use of cluster bombs to ensure that the use of these weapons will not violate international humanitarian law and army discipline, it did not propose any concrete measures,” said Smart.

Amnesty International called on Israel’s government to provide data on the use of cluster bombs during the Second Lebanon War, establish an independent and impartial investigation into evidence indicating that IDF forces committed serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the conflict, and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

February 1st, 2008, 1:42 pm


Shual said:

“Who would sign peace? Israel? surely not.” […blabla]

Israel is about to sign a peace deal with Syria. If you are looking back into the situation of 2005/2006 and all those theories about the NE [“Strong accumulating danger of wars”] you can only laugh about the outcome. Between Israel and Syria there were some “shocking” maneuvers at the Golan, some “preparations” on the Syrian side to couter an attack and a symbolic message of destroying a building without any reported casualities. The tendency is very POSITIVE and if Israel has solved its internal problems we will here from them in the case of a “peace deal”. Nobody can predict how many YEARS it will take, but as long the “northern front” of Israel is stable, it does not matter how long Mr. Assad takes to accept the proposals that are on the table for him.

PS: “War is closer than ever.” I like the apolitical discours incendiaire of people that can not present a single argument for their fantacies and evade that problem with [“elements of self-destruction”] using low-budget psycho-analytic messages. “Palestinians can not run a state” – “Syrians have the self-destruction-genom” – “Gemans are Nazis” – “Italians stink [garlic] – “Israelis will surly not sign a peace deal” – “Foreigners take away our jobs” – “French are arrogant” [….] The world is SO SIMPLE!

February 1st, 2008, 1:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The Arabs are not paying a price for Arab Nationalism per se. It is not such a bad idea after all if the Arabs can pull it off.

The problem is that Arab Nationalism (AN) has been used as an excuse for not holding Arab regimes accountable. There is no economic progress? It is ok, just think of AN. Education stinks? AN. Corruption? AN.

This is what I never could figure our. Why is this an either/or proposition? Why can’t you have accountable regimes AND AN? How did the regimes convince people like Ausamaa that you cannot have it both? For example, in the US and Europe a large unity was reached within a democratic framework. Why not in the Arab world?

February 1st, 2008, 1:48 pm


Shual said:

“For example, in the US and Europe a large unity was reached within a democratic framework.”

The winner takes it all “democratic frameword”. The 80-million-people-dead “democratic framework”.

February 1st, 2008, 1:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is your point?
Why do people want so much to immigrate to Europe and the US if democracy is that bad? Why don’t the Arabs and Africans stay home where according to you the system is great? Why don’t the Mexicans go to Venezuela instead of to the US?

And the 80 million died because of fascism, not democracy. Had Germany remained democratic, WWII would not have occurred.

February 1st, 2008, 2:26 pm


Shual said:

AIG, your red herring tastes old and ugly. You will not catch a single Fox with it.

If we would talk about “regime change in Syria” you will argue that the US has learned from appeasement policy. But in case of some “let democracy save the Syrians day” slogans [copyrigth ] you negate that democracy has something to do with WWII, even if you know that your idol collected the NS-thugs to use them in their collected anti-communism-wars that created things like Vietnam [and if you look into the NE-mess you can find these ideas, too].

A Syrian knows from “democracy framework” ONLY that it is against Syria. And if you think your historical switches will change that impression, you are wrong.
[End of discussion]

February 1st, 2008, 4:18 pm


sam said:

I guess I’m too optimistic, but I do beleive peace can prevail, between Syria and Isreal. But the only way that is going to happen is fair mediation by the US. Peace with Syria will open the door for the rest of the Arab world, including Iran. Holding the Golan any longer only adds to the truth, that Isreali policy is to take land and resources, because using it as an excuse for a buffer zone is getting more lame. They want to be able to ski, have access to all the wonderful fruit and grapes for their wine. It’s all about them.

February 1st, 2008, 4:41 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I wish I could understand what you are saying but I don’t have a clue so I guess you are right that it is the end of the discussion.

I am starting to get the impression that you are an anarchist since you don’t support neither dictatorship nor democracy.

February 1st, 2008, 4:47 pm


Joe M. said:

When I read the comments for Mr. Liel, It seems clear to me that he is just trying to strategically end the hostility between Syria and Israel, not trying to make peace. He seems to be directly in the “flip Syria” faction. This mentality of Israelis is one of the biggest problems for the Arab world. The case of Egypt is a perfect example. Following the death of Abdel Nasser, Egypt was flipped in the same way that Israel currently wants Syria flipped. And while that ended some of the direct fighting and eventually lead to Sadat getting Egyptian land back, it did not create stability or peace. It created a despotic regime in Egypt that is universally hated by it’s people. A situation like that advocated by Mr. Liel would do exactly the same for Syria. So, while the Israelis look at the deal with Egypt as having great advantages, for the people of Egypt it was a great disaster. Similarly, the people of Syria might experience momentary euphoria from gaining the golan back, but in the longer run “flipping Syria” would make Syria far more dangerous and less stable, and presumably more despotic. In terms of their personal advantages, for the average Syrian to have access to the Golan would make their lives marginally better, but the simmering anger that the continued destruction of the Palestinians would become much much more prominent if the Syrian government became a puppet state of the west and Israel.

As for the questions you asked:
1) If the only viable peace is a comprehensive one, do you believe that Syria should lead or follow?
My preference is for Syria to lead. Recognizing their position is very tough, I am not upset with Syria now. Syria, Libya and Iran are the only regional countries that consistently support the Palestinians out of principle. Other countries are, as Nasser used to say, simply reactionary. My hope from Syria is that they do not become an obstruction. Ideally, they could do more to organize support for Palestinians. Maybe they could start making conferences for the various trends, they could work more to help the Palestinians reach greater unity. Even, rather than simply going along with the “Saudi Plan”, maybe Syria should make moves with other countries to push another alternative. I don’t think they should try to force a solution on the Palestinians, but they could help to give the Palestinians more room to move.

2) Confidence Building Measures:
I agree with Alex about his confidence measure. Even, Syria could make other moves that are cultural. A further confidence measure could be to make moves to build more democratic institutions. This would help to show that it was not just the word of a dictator, but the perspective of the Syria people, to support the Palestinians.

But overall, on the political side, I simply don’t think there is a need for Syria to make moves in terms of confidence building measures. The responsibility is on Israel to show that it is serious about peace.

3) Peace Park:
This is a stupid Idea. Maybe we should make all of Israel into a peace park.

4) Hamas & Hizbullah (I would add Iran):
I think the only way to “moderate” these groups is for Israel to make moves, not Syria. Syria can’t push Hamas to accept Israel when Israel is strangling Gaza or killing so many Palestinians. It is an impossible task. If Israel wants a moderate Hamas, Hizbullah or Iran, IT NEEDS TO CHANGE ITS ACTIONS, not simply think you can pressure people to change. Syria is right in its positions, and should maintain them. Israel needs to change. Asking Syria to moderate Hamas or Hizbullah is a ridiculous notion if the situation in which they live stays so extreme.

February 1st, 2008, 5:04 pm


annie said:

I agree with everything Jo M. above said.

Yes, Israel needs to change its action, but not only that, also its mentality; it has to learn what respect means.

It could make a U turn in the direction of the region where it has inserted itself like a foreign body and become one with the region.

February 1st, 2008, 5:19 pm


ausamaa said:

An interesting article by another Syria-lover at the Arab-loving Washington Institute, Mr. Schenker sounds very desperate in his article below which resembles an obituary for the Feb 14 crowd:

Setbacks in Arab League Mediation on Lebanon

By David Schenker
January 31, 2008

Schenker concludes his article this way:

“Sadly, it may be too late for the pro-Western government of Lebanon to get a sympathetic president in office. But there is still time to save the March 14 coalition if Syria’s wings can be clipped. The key is an expedited international tribunal. If the Hariri tribunal proceeds like the eight-year Yugoslavia tribunal did during the 1990s, the March 14 bloc may not be in power long enough to benefit from its results, and any indictments and convictions of Syria’s pernicious role in Lebanon would at best stand as a Pyrrhic victory.”


The coment made by the Friday Lunch Club on this article was:

Mr. Schenker, How can you expedite Justice?

February 1st, 2008, 5:19 pm


Akbar Palace said:

turning off bold?

Ausamaa replies to my “price” question:

A heavy one perhaps and for hundreds of years…

Ausamaa –

Can you get more specific than this? You have not convinced me at all that the Syrians have paid a high price for anything.

Clearly, the Palestinians are paying the price of resistance. Clearly, Israel is paying a price for their original sin. And clearly Lebanon is paying a price for not controlling their borders.

What price is Syria paying exactly, and what exactly is the cost? Can Syria afford it?

BTW – If you’re afraid to answer the question honestly, it wouldn’t bother me if some other Syrian answered (Alex?).


Continuing with the anti-Israel thread, Annie states:

It [the ZE] could make a U turn in the direction of the region where it has inserted itself like a foreign body and become one with the region.

Annie –

Can you give some examples (say five) of how “it” can become one with the region?

Does this include eating falafel?


February 1st, 2008, 5:31 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Bold problem solved.

AP, you actually created an italics problem for a while, but that’s solved too.

If only the Middle East’s problems could be solved using HTML.

Hmmm, let’s see…

corruption … occupation … human rights violations … despotism … poverty … religious extremism …

Nope, didn’t work.


February 1st, 2008, 5:56 pm


norman said:

I look around and i see Iranian and Kuwaiti and other investments in Syria , I see no reason not to have Israeli investments in Syria and keep th resorts managed by an Israeli company on the Golan , as Syrian companies will be able to invest in Israel, It is time to move from suspition to coperation for the good of both people. It is time to move forward and stop looking at who’s falt it is.

February 1st, 2008, 6:03 pm


ausamaa said:

Akbar Palace said: “Ausamaa, You have not convinced me at all”

And who the heck is trying to convince YOU! Or needs to convince YOU of anything for that matter.

If you seek convincing (as actions, rather than reason go a long way towards convincing your likes), I advise you to go and read the Winograde Report. BTW, have you read the two other Israeli Reports? The one in the aftermath of the 1973 War, and the one in the aftermath of Sharon’s Sabra and Chatila massacre?

Those reports may enlighten you and convince YOU as to where your little undemocratic democracy is heading.

February 1st, 2008, 6:22 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Where would we be without Israel’s reports on its own atrocities?

February 1st, 2008, 6:37 pm


ausamaa said:

We will be right where we are now. Because those reports come after the fact, and because someone lese would have reported on them.
A better question is: where would we be without Israel’s atrocities.
Better yet, where would we be without an Israel, for that matter!

Can one imagin??

February 1st, 2008, 7:12 pm


Akbar Palace said:

And who the heck is trying to convince YOU! Or needs to convince YOU of anything for that matter.

Ausamaa –

cc: Annie

You were discussing Syria’s “price”. You said Syria’s price was “a heavy one perhaps and for hundreds of years…”. I was just trying to get clarification. Not only for me, but also for the audience.

Hey, you can’t say I didn’t try. We Zionists are so “curious”. Excuse me for asking. It’s genetic.

Now I turn to our participant Annie to see if she is willing to shed light on the issue of becoming “one with the region”.

Qifa –

How did you do the strikethrough?? You forgot to add state-sponsored terrorism to your list.

February 1st, 2008, 7:31 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wishful thinking, denial, inability to face facts were the hallmark of the last 60 years in the Arab world. It looks like the next 60 years will be the same.

The only way for the Arabs to become strong and bring Israel down to size is to introduce democratic reforms. But this is exactly what many Arabs reject because it is a western idea and they view it as American hegemony. Go figure.

February 1st, 2008, 7:40 pm


ausamaa said:

The audience is very well informed, thsnk you. Dont let “that” bother you.

Read the Winograde, and the other reports yet? Including Amnesty Int’l comments???!!

February 1st, 2008, 7:42 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I always find it amusing that people like you point to reports written by Israelis criticizing themselves and interpret this as a sign of weakness.

The Winograd report and others like it explain exactly why Israel is so much more successful than the Arab countries. Unlike you, we do not live in denial, we are not ashamed to discuss our failures in public and we demand that our politicians be accountable even if this means Israel loses face.

The only way to improve is to understand what you did wrong and make changes. Israel does this well and I am very proud of this fact. Unfortuantely, in this aspect as well as in many others “it does not fit in the region”. Maybe the region has to fit itself to Israel and not the other way around. Only if you want to of course.

February 1st, 2008, 7:51 pm


Jason said:

Hezbollah will become more “moderate” and already has. Richard Norton writes in his newest book that after the civil war 12 of its leaders gathered to discuss whether they would join the political process or remain a thawarat, or revolutionary group. Ten agreed and two were reluctant to enter the political process, so those two spun off and became small time actors.

The fact is, Hezbollah is calling for one-third representation in Suleiman’s new cabinet, which Syrian FM Moualam stated in the latest Arab League meeting in Cairo. The Arab League rejected Hezbollah receiving the “blocking third”. Why? I suppose Vali Nasr is correct when he argues that there is a Sunni-Shiite battle in the Middle East to undermine Iranian influence. Why else would the Arab league reject Hezbollah’s request for a bigger slice of the political pie in Lebanon. If we truely want to talk about democracy in Lebanon, Hezbollah is the one pushing for democracy, not Bush and his clients.

If Hezbollah gets the blocking third in the cabinet and Israel gives back Shabbaa, then Hezbollah will have no legitimate rationale to keep its weapons, except for fear of an Israeli invasion. Hezbollah has serious legitimacy in Lebanon and I don’t think the West or March 14 can prevent Hezbollah from gaining the blocking third. It’s going to happen, in my opinion. Hezbollah has evolved from a revolutionary Islamic group into a resistance group involved in the political process, which is a testiment to their legitimacy and moderation.

February 1st, 2008, 7:53 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


The Arabs do not fail, so we do not need Winograd reports.

If you were an Arab, you would understand.


the tag is [strike] state-sponsored terrorism [/strike]

February 1st, 2008, 8:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Asad does not like art:

(and people meeting)

February 1st, 2008, 9:40 pm


Shual said:

“US President George W. Bush has applauded the formation of the Damascus Declaration grouping, saying its members “reflect the desires of the majority of Syrian people to live in freedom, democracy, and peace.”

Dear AIG, can please show us that the statement of Mr. Bush is a honest statement? Or is it only another fake for the media? Well, its your link, so you have to know. You CANT?

Its intresting that people that deal with the Syrians and talk to them are bashed of Bushists, but if we search for “harsh reactions”, or “appoint the ambassador”, or “phone the FM”, we can find nothing from Bush. Nothing, except media-fakes and cheap comments on internet-portals. Its even worser: If you have friends like them … “THE WHITE HOUSE – Office of the Press Secretary – For Immediate Release, December 14, 2007 – STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT I applaud the recent formation of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration in Damascus, Syria. The brave men and women who formed this Council reflect the desires of the majority of Syrian people to live in freedom, democracy, and peace, both at home and alongside their neighbors in the region. The Syrian regime continues to hold hundreds of prisoners of conscience and has arrested more than thirty National Council members in the past few days. All those detained should be released immediately. The Syrian regime continues to deny its citizens fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of movement, and the right to elect a representative government responsive to their needs. The formation of the National Council is an encouraging sign to all people who support freedom and democracy. We support the National Council’s principles of non-violent struggle and open membership to all the people of Syria who believe the time has come for change.” … you will get jailed. Their positions and their belives are abused by the clown. “I pay the price when she speaks of me, and I pay the price when she doesn’t.” [Ayman Nour about FM Rice]

[“Umso schärfer fiel jetzt die diplomatische Reaktion aus: Steinmeier ließ als Protest nicht nur den syrischen Botschafter in Berlin einbestellen. Auch der deutsche Botschafter in Damaskus wurde beim syrischen Außenminister vorstellig. „Es darf nicht sein, dass jenen, die mit friedlichen Mitteln für politische Reformen in Syrien, für Rechtsstaatlichkeit und Menschenrechte kämpfen, die Freiheit entzogen wird“, gab ihm Steinmeier auf den Weg.”;art141,2468327 ]

February 1st, 2008, 10:53 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Do I read minds? No. Do I believe Bush is sincere. Yes.

You are not really clear about the point you are trying to make. Please be less vague.

February 1st, 2008, 11:07 pm


Jad said:

“Hamas & Hizbullah: Alex and others have suggested that Hamas and Hizbullah can be moderated (or will moderate themselves) once a peace deal is reached. Do you believe this? How will this work?”

Qifa Nabki, Do you believe this? Why?

February 1st, 2008, 11:07 pm


alan said:

“The world is SO SIMPLE!”


as you think the world is so simple, there is no use of debating. Let’s live in your simplicity like brothers and open the borders between us…we are the brothers of Abrahams. I like your spiritual attitude. this is not politics. it is who has power will prevail regardless waht is right and what is wrong. Old Assad famously quoted for “strategic peace” which he worked for on an excellent foregin policy compared to a selfish home policy to preserve his dynisty.

still a lot to know……it is NOT SO SIMPLE

February 1st, 2008, 11:14 pm


Jad said:

“Israel’s reports on its own atrocities”???

“ISRAEL/LEBANON: Probe of 2006 War Ignored Civilian Deaths,”

“The London-based Amnesty International says the Israeli government-appointed Winograd Commission is “deeply flawed” because it fails to address the issue of war crimes against the civilian population in Lebanon.”…

February 1st, 2008, 11:18 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

why is it that I am begining to think that some of the comments are pro Israel more than they are pro syria, they represent the Israeli,not the syrian any more, is despair because of long time has passed,or is it because we are preparing for a move by someone,or because we want to defend it by all means, in any direction,are we no longer arab?is moderation means that we abandone our religion or nationality, did we forgot who is our mother or father or our brothers or sisters? did we forget our stolen land ?, did we forgot GOD promise to us? if we desert GOD,deny our mother,abandon our WATAN, then we are worthless people.

February 1st, 2008, 11:57 pm


Alex said:


Please tell me if I am wrong here:

– Most Syrians really do not know how and why and when those 1.5 poor people died in Darfur. But they know what Walid Jumblatt said everyday the past two years … and they know when Israel kills a Palestinian child or mother.

– Most Syrians Do not know or do not care to know that the Arab country of Mauritania has an Israeli embassy.

– The Syrian leadership does not care anymore that Qatar has an Israeli relations office, but they would do anything they can to stop the Lebanese government from doing the same.

– most Syrians do not know what happened in Somalia … they do not know the state of that Arab country today.

– Our favorite singer is the Lebanese “angel” Fairouz … Fairouz can make grown up Syrian men cry. No Algerian singer can do the same.

– Most Syrians will not be able to understand a thing if they listened to an Algerian comedian.

The “Arab world” to most Syrians is: Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia.

Having said that, I agree with you about most of the other points you made .. Syrians are NOT compatible with “arab moderation”. They want their leader to preserve Syria’s independence. Not only from Washington, but from anyone .. including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Iran. that’s why there was a lot of effort on the part of the Washington supported crooks who were inventing the endless stories about how the Iranian ambassador in Damascus is calling the shots

But moderation in good things is … good. Too much pride is not good, Ausamaa .. too much “helping our Arab brothers” becomes more like interfering in their affairs.

I think President Assad has a very balanced approach to Syria’s role and obligations in its environment. He was able to defend Syria’s interests in the countries of the fertile crescent, and he learned to tolerate a free Qatar’s decision to have an American base and an Israeli commercial office on its land.

February 2nd, 2008, 12:02 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Jad said:

“Hamas & Hizbullah: Alex and others have suggested that Hamas and Hizbullah can be moderated (or will moderate themselves) once a peace deal is reached. Do you believe this? How will this work?”

Qifa Nabki, Do you believe this? Why?

Jad, I am skeptical, at least about Hamas. With Hizbullah, I am more optimistic, because they are very disciplined, organized, and because they have a significant constituency that will not fluctuate much as a result of changing political currents (i.e. the Lebanese Shi`a). So, they have more to lose by trying to buck the trend.

Of course, everything depends on what the leadership looks like. If Sayyed Hasan remains in charge, I think Hizbullah can be gradually domesticated. If the Israelis (or the jihadis) decide to assassinate him and get lucky, then Hizbullah has the potential to become much more dangerous. I don’t like Naim Qassim; he is a zealot, where Nasrallah is a pragmatist. Hizbullah would not be in the government if it wasn’t for him.

Hamas is different; they have many more fire-and-brimstone types among their ranks (after all, they are Sunni extremists with superiority complexes, whereas the Shi`a have been used to practicing taqiyya for centuries and keeping a lower profile).

As Alex said, they are unlikely to recognize Israel but might sign a fifty year truce, but I can’t see that actually happening.

February 2nd, 2008, 12:49 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Worthwhile reading, as usual, from Sami Moubayed.

All power to Hamas …
By Sami Moubayed

Asia Times

DAMASCUS – When Hamas came to power in January 2006, trading the bullet for the ballot, many believed the Islamic group – as we knew it – was finished. History after all is riddled with stories of resistance groups that fell from grace the minute they abandoned warfare in favor of government office. The National Bloc of Syria is a good example, accredited with leading the anti-French struggle during the 1930s and early 1940s.

They were voted into power in a landslide victory in 1943, based on their earlier successes, but were ejected six years later in 1949, by a military putsch with little ceremony or respect because they had fallen from grace in the Syrian street. Government destroys in the Arab world. It blinds and corrupts. It damages – often beyond repair. Every Syrian – by birth – was a member of the National Bloc until its leaders decided to transform it into a political party in 1946. The same applies to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Party before and after Oslo in 1993. It also applies to the Wafd Party in Egypt and more recently, to Hamas in Palestine.

[read the rest]

February 2nd, 2008, 1:20 am


Akbar Palace said:

The Arabs do not fail, so we do not need Winograd reports.

Qifa Nabki,

Everyone who is interested in feedback needs “Winograd reports”. And if one doesn’t need feedback they are doomed.

BTW – Thank you for the “strike” command.

February 2nd, 2008, 1:52 am


Qifa Nabki said:


We don’t need feedback. Unless it’s positive feedback.


February 2nd, 2008, 2:04 am


majedkhaldoun said:

lately Israel was defeated twice;
Israel was defeated militarily at the hands of HA in Lebanon in 2006.
Israel is defeated politically at the hands of Hamas in january 2007, as they revolted against imprisonment by Israel,and Usa,supported by the idiotic europeans,700,000 hamas people crossed the wall of collective prison,walked free to Egypt, I AM VERY PROUD OF THEM.

February 2nd, 2008, 2:09 am


Karim said:

With Hizbullah, I am more optimistic, because they are very disciplined, organized,

dont be lured by them ,the leaders of hezballah in the past used car bombings in civil area of Beirut(the iraqi embassy bombing that had killed the iraqi wife of nizar bey al kabbani) and lately their protection of the identified killers who killed after torture the two ziyads of beirut ,it reminded us the ministery of interior militias works in iraq.

February 2nd, 2008, 3:22 am


Honest Patriot said:

Majed, I’m sorry but I am not going to refrain from saying what’s probably on the mind of many a blogger here:
Yada, yada, yada, yada, yippee for the pride sounding like: “yeah, yeah, you should have seen how my cheek dealt a nasty blow to his nuckle. Why it was so hard I even got blue and black on my eye from it.” Pity the hysteria and irrational groupthink you display which, left to its own devices, will perpetuate backwardness and misery for the people you are trying to be an advocate for. “Idiotic Europeans” right ? I want to be amused but find myself working hard to abide by the civility principles I preached to others in earlier posts. I know I speak for many here in this venting. Why, here’s another similarity: you’re sounding like Saddam building those huge monuments on Iraqi highways in celebration of the mother of all victories against the 1991 coalition that chased him out of Kuwait with his tail tucked between his hind legs. Bet at the time you were VERY PROUD OF HIM too. Sheesh! OK, now I better stop.

February 2nd, 2008, 4:56 am


Honest Patriot said:

… but wait I’m not done … now onto AIG (and maybe AP? I’m not sure)…
As irrational a position as Majed displays this is indeed what you are dealing with and which is increasing exponentially. The nonchalant intransigence and regrettable blind confidence in the future being on Israel’s side, the continued failure to reign in the extremists on your side (by, once and for all for Heaven’s sake HALTING them new settlements) and continued hardline in the negotiations (when they happen) with the moderates in the Arab world, this intransigence will lead to the growth of the revolts that Majed is so proud of, to an increase in their frequency and intensity to the point of exploding humanitarian crises that, yes, will carry a parallel to South Africa. Please don’t go giving me the scientifically logical analysis of minutae that make the analogy not work. It sure DOES work, my friend, if you elevate your perspective to truly view the global scene. The result will be settled by a nuclear explosion — of the conventional if not atomic kind. Onto another analogy (allegory?): this is like Kay telling Michael in the Godfather of Mario Puzo “you are so blind.” I say this unto you (without shouting and being careful not to incur a slap from Michael as Kay did). You will triumph, yes, as Michael did, but the price will be that your pride and joy will have the same fate as Mary, and your other progeny will have moved away from having the same destiny as you, onto to a better life in a different environment.
I say it along with Shalom and Amen.
[And no, I don’t get royalties from sales of the Godfather DVDs ;-)]

February 2nd, 2008, 5:14 am


Honest Patriot said:



Hizbullah’s Victory Helps Netanyahu Rule Israel

A report on the Lebanon War against Hizbullah allows Israel’s right-wing opposition to win a snap election despite a slight boost to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s popularity, according to two polls published on Friday.
The daily Maariv reported that if general elections were held now the Likud party of former premier Benjamin Netanyahu would triple its representation in the Knesset to 32 and become the largest party in the 120-seat parliament.
With the support of the extreme right, religious parties and the Social Justice party launched by Israeli-Russian billionaire Arkady Gaydamak last July, the right wing could form a majority coalition of 73.
Its poll showed Olmert’s centrist Kadima would tumble from 29 seats to 11 and that its current coalition ally Labor, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would become the largest opposition party with 21 seats, up from its current 19.
According to the second poll, published in the daily Yediot Aharonot, 30 percent of Israelis asked said they wanted Netanyahu to be prime minister, while 18 percent would prefer to see Olmert stay in the post.
Before Wednesday’s publication of the full Winograd Commission report on the 2006 war against Lebanon’s Shiite Hizbullah militia, just eight percent expressed support for Olmert.
The report placed most blame for the conflict’s failures on the military, and said Olmert himself had acted in good faith.
Israel’s next general elections are not scheduled to be held until autumn 2010.
Both polls, carried out by independent research groups and surveying 500 people, had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 01 Feb 08, 17:01

My Comment:
Great! HA and Netanyahu deserve each other. I guess some here welcome this because these folks are what true enemies should be. And hey, peace can only happen between enemies. So, this will lead to peace! Right?
HA will be very happy as this gives them solid arguments to keep their weapons. Bibi will be very happy because power is an addictive thing and he can’t wait to get it back. And, Oh Yeah, he still needs to avenge his brother’s death.
Rabin is turning in his grave and Sadat is turning so fast he’s spinning.

February 2nd, 2008, 6:00 am


Honest Patriot said:

OK, for those who have no idea what my Godfather reference means two posts ago:
1- (start at about minute 2:00)

February 2nd, 2008, 6:14 am


offended said:

AIG is once again bragging about that worthless piece of papers called ‘Weenie’grad report.

Well let me tell you something AIG, let’s cut the bullshit and talk straight for a while: a government, like the Syrian government, which doesn’t pretend to be democratic, which doesn’t create bogus committees to come up with a report full of lies and misleading information, this government respect the intelligence of its people more than your pathetic Israeli government.

What’s the benefit of your democracy if you can be cheated and manipulated so easily? And you daresay that Arabs live in denial?

February 2nd, 2008, 9:58 am


Shai said:


You and I are already buddies… 🙂 so I feel I can say anything to you. I promised not to address AIG directly, and I won’t. But you must agree that if you had to choose between: 1) a government that was going to manipulate you whenever possible, but would let you place it in power by electing it democratically, or remove it from power by electing another one, or 2) a government that “respected” the intelligence of its people, but wouldn’t let those very people elect or remove it whenever they saw fit, which would you choose? I know I still choose number 1. When I sit here, in Israel, frustrated to high heaven with the unbelievable corruption within my own government, with the impotency the current leadership is showing, with the lack of direction, policy, and influence it has over our present and future, I am first and foremost angry at my people (those majority who elected the current government), even more so than at the leadership. Because it is our PEOPLE that have the power to do something about it, but choose not to. In Syria’s case, if the people did want to overthrow, replace the current leadership, and enable someone else a chance at running the country, it couldn’t do so. There’s no doubt that democracy, or the idea of enabling the people determine who will rule them, is a better solution in the long run for any nation on earth.

Whether a people that have never known such freedoms (like basically the entire Arab people) can suddenly, within a short period of time, convert to “Democracy”, is doubtful. Bush thought Iraqis were just waiting for democracy, and was proved dead-wrong. I’ve heard at least two very good responses by Mousharaf (Pakistan) and Assad about why Democracy is not something that can be implemented quickly or easily like we “Westerners” often think. Of course the answer to that is “ok, Mr. President, so it’s tougher than I think, but how do you start?” My main disagreement with AIG is that I don’t believe it is a prerequisite to peace in our region. I believe that India and Pakistan can have peace if they finally decide on Kashmir, while Pakistan still has an authoritarian regime, and India is a democracy (in fact, the largest one in the world). Israel and Syria could do the same. Of course it would be better, if I knew that when I visit Souq Hamidieh, the store owners can tell me the truth about how they feel, and not fear the “buyer” standing nearby is in fact the Mukhabarat listening carefully. But this will take some time.

Certainly many have debated the issue before, in academic circles, and elsewhere, of whether a nation under authoritarian rule can become democratic in any other way except a violent takeover (civil war, coup d’etat, etc.) I think it all has to do with how the outside world treats you. If Syria and Iran are isolated, there’s no way the current regimes would do anything to advance its peoples’ freedoms, and it makes sense. If, however, Europe and the US, and the rest of the world, would get closer to these countries, would address its leaders and its people warmly, and would understand that changes can only occur slowly (a real re-education), then maybe Assad and a Khatami could figure out a way to introduce freedoms and eventually lead to free elections. In Latin America and in Africa a number of nations became democratic in just this fashion, and it worked. No reason it can’t also work in the Middle East, but it would take time, and traversing the path carefully.

February 2nd, 2008, 11:56 am


ausamaa said:


That is where you got me wrong. My favorit Arab singer nowadays is not Fairuz. It is Haifaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

As to Algerian Singers, come on Alex, remember Warda Al Jazaeriya??!!

February 2nd, 2008, 1:44 pm


ausamaa said:

AIG “announces”:

“Maybe the region has to fit itself to Israel”

Sure.., as long as Israelies keep thinking that way, they shall not be disaapointed. Hizbullah and Hamas and many others will keep working on EXCACTLY that.

And then, we shall have another Aggranat or Winograde report trying to explain to the Israeli Public why the new “Grand Theft”, or the new “Failed Conquest”, or the new “Massacre”, or the new “Preventive Strike” backfired and did not work out as it should.

And your problem is, those Israeli Truth Finding Commissions Reports do not seem to be not Israelies much good..

Have you noticed?!

February 2nd, 2008, 2:15 pm


Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa and Alex,

Hmmm, now come on guys, seriously, how old ARE you ???
You seem to either have reincarnated from older chaps and kept their memory or are somehow geniuses at having absorbed the older culture of the region along with the modern one. I AM impressed.

February 2nd, 2008, 2:37 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

You are wrong on many statements,I am not going to answer all your points,you call the palastneans hard liners and intransigents,The Israeli policy is hard line and very intransigent,they laid severe seige on Gaza,then they strafed them killing 28 innocent civilians,then they cut gas , and medical and food shipments,their bakeries stop making bread,hospitals has no electricity to run their machines, patients are dying, people are hungry, this was INHUMANE AND IMMORAL ISRAEL POLICIES, it is Israel who was following hardline policy ,it was Israel who was intransigent,what the Palastineans did ,reminds me exactly of the french revolution at the Bastille day,this was a great turnig point in the world history, Look at Mubarak response he is scared and was forced to allow them to come to Egypt, afraid of revolt by his own people, Israel ,aware of the fact that they exceeded the red line and exposed that what they did was immoral and inhumane, Israel kept low profile.USA was shocked, too,they thought the Arab will not respond , as they behaved before, in Iraq.
I am pro Syrian, pro Arab, I am pro humanity,for liberty and freedom,not for collective imprisonment.
you are pro Israel, you are entitled to express your opinion, but at the end,I am sure good will prevail over evil.

February 2nd, 2008, 3:02 pm


Honest Patriot said:


I am all against any inhuman atrocities, particularly those committed by Israel. Where I differ with you is in the most effective way to move out of this miserable lot for the Palestinians into a better life for everyone. In particular, I am against deluding ourselves into thinking that the struggle methods used by HA and Hamas are the way to a better life. I see them as a recipe for disaster. Effective advocacy, persuasion, and success in the world public opinion — including the U.S. — has never been pursued by a unified Palestinian-Arab front. Instead, such advocacy has been thwarted by terrorism against innocent civilians and by rejectionist theories seeking to annihilate Israel. The hardliners in Israel returned the favor, and, having much better “lawyers,” are getting away with it.

Let’s not call anyone in favor of a peaceful settlement which recognizes the de-facto existence of Israel and seeks to build a better Middle East for everyone, let’s not call such a person “pro Israel.” We can agree to disagree but, while we wait, misery prevails. With this attitude, it seems to me that you and AIG are closer in thinking as to what should happen next (nothing, no peace, no negotiations, ra, ra, ra), than you are to moderate Arabs, or than AIG is to SHAI. It’s sad, but you’re vidicating AIG’s stance in ways you’re not even aware of.

We are bound together by a common desire to see a better future for Palestinians. But we are at antipodes as to how to proceed.

wassalum 3alykum 3a ra7matullahi wa barakatoh

February 2nd, 2008, 3:33 pm


Shual said:

[It is Haifaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!]

Replace Hassan, Ehud and Mahmoud with Haifa, Shelly Yachimovitch and Rim Banna?

Ausamaa, your idea is GREAT!

February 2nd, 2008, 3:43 pm


offended said:

Shai, I agree with the abstract facts of your comment, however:

1- I was trying to highlight to AIG (something he already knows of course) that no system in the world is perfect, and his contention that Israel shouldn’t engage in peace talks with Syria unless and until Syria becomes democratic is as fallible as can be. ( I can argue back that Israel should also fixed its corrupted system and biased committees?)
2- Democracy is not the best system; it’s the most convenient for the majority, but not the best for all.
3- Another point of disagreement is the methodology, AIG and his likes would like to see Syria crumbles under fire in order to attain democracy, while we on the other hand support long term reform and improvement of the current system so that maybe one day we’ll be able to reach where we want without bloodshed.

Just read that the death toll of Baghdad market bombing had reached 100…

February 2nd, 2008, 3:57 pm


Alex said:


At least agree with me about the Algerian COMEDIAN part? : )

You know that Warda Eljazaeryia used to sing Egyptian, not Algerian. True?

If she sang Algerian (lyrics and music) she would not have achieved a fraction of her popularity in Syria.

Except if she looked like Haifa : )

While we are here I would like you to know that I am not a fan of Haifa … Nancy Ajram is my favorite of the new ones.

February 2nd, 2008, 5:10 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Sorry for the long absence. As always, never a dull moment at this great beloved blog. It was elated to read all the excellent comments above. Here are my answers to the excellent questions posed above by QN:

1. There shouldn’t be just a Syrian-Israeli deal. While Israel has always preferred to divide the “deal” into smaller, fun-sized deals like the Lebanon-Israel deal or the Egypt-Israel deal – this approach will not work in the long run. In fact, any deal done only with a subset of the parties involved is bound to ultimately fail or produce unpredictable results. Take, for example, today’s Egypt. The anti-Israeli sentiments amongst Egyptians are at an all-time high. It is because Egyptians do notice that injustice is still being served and the continuing conflict with other parties is further inflaming passions. Notice how the Egyptian population reacted to the latest reckless war that Israel conducted against Lebanon. The peace with Egypt is insecure and Israelis should not find solace in Egypt being marginalized and peaceful. This peace, and any peace that is not built on the foundation of continued justice is a temporary window dressing.

The peace we are after as Syrians is not a “deal” with Syria, another with Lebanon, a third with Hamas and so on. It is a peace that is comprehensive between Israel and all Arabs. There should be no one left feeling betrayed or undercut at the expense of another “deal”.

This peace will occur only when there is a genuine transformation on both sides. This transformation is not formulaic – a democracy defined in the hallways of some Washingtonian think tanks. It is rather a genuine transformation in attitude and vision from both sides.

Additionally, it seems to me that the question asked above is indirectly pointing to the need of transformation on the Arab side only. While this is true, let us not forget that Israel must undergo an authentic transformation in its view of the neighboring Arabs as well. It is no secret that strong superiority sentiments do exist amongst Israelis – portraying Arabs in many sub human forms.

What good would an Arab transformation deliver if Israel has not fundamentally changed? How can the proposed free and democratic Arab states have peace with an Israel so heavily militarized, so war-hungry, and so primitive in its views of Arabs?

Parity in attitude and vision is, therefore, a precondition for a long and lasting peace. Israel must transform itself as much as its Arab foes do.

2. Peace cannot prevail with the existing sentiments amongst the parties. Leaders can meet and cut deals all day long. Ultimately, the ever lasting peace we all dream of is a dependent function on ethos of the Jews and the Arabs in the region. One can look at measures of how the national identity of the people in the Middle East – Israel included is evolving. On a scale from 1 to 10 where 10 is most mature, it would be surprising if Israel and its Arab neighbors rate below the median in identity maturing. Peace is the natural outcome of the maturity of the people in that region. CBM can only mask in the fundamental immaturity of the national identity and aspirations of the people.

3. The Peace Park is a great idea. Any idea of harmonizing the Western cultures of the Israelis with the Eastern cultures of the Arabs is a welcome event. This is part of the evolutionary process toward maturity.

4. Will Hamas and Hizbullah moderate? Sure. I agree with Alex. IRA has transformed itself and has entered mainstream politics. Nelson Mandela’s party is another example. In fact, history gives us abundant evidence suggesting that revolutionary movements do mature and become moderate political ones. After all Haganah, Jewish Lehi, and the Stern Gang, for example, all produced political leaders and morphed into viable political actors in Israel.

February 2nd, 2008, 5:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes, I have noticed. Agranat was EXTREMELY helpful. It led to Begin coming to power and to peace with Egypt. It led to rehaul of Israeli intelligence. It led to serious understanding of the SAM threat and the proof the Agranat worked was the air battle in 82 over the Bekaa in which despite the Syrians having mant SAM batteries Israel was able to destrpy them and 87 planes without any Israeli plane being shot down (in that battle). You do not know this, but Agranat let to huge technological developments in Israel and the birth of many innovative ideas.

It is your right to think that Winograd has not helped. The proof of the pudding is always in the eating. We will have to wait for the next round between Hizballah and Israel to see if Winograd helped. My assessment is that things will be drastically different but we will just have to wait and see.

February 2nd, 2008, 5:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Before the Arabs explode conventionally unto Israel, they have a lot of internal business to finish, in fact decades of internal issues. Israel will have ample time to prepare for whatever the Arab world looks like after these decades. Your explosion if it ever comes, will first be an implosion. The proof: Hamas asking for a 50 year Hudna. Why? So that they can establish their position in the Arab world and help their supporters. That will be the case with any religious extremists that come to power in Syria or Egypt. When they come to power, and they will if no democratic reforms are made, they will soon find out that you cannot thrive without dealing peacefully with the West.

I reject the South Africa analogy out of hand. There is no similarity whatsoever.

February 2nd, 2008, 5:27 pm


offended said:

Alicia Keys once sang:
“What goes around comes around. What goes up must come down”

And then Justin Timberlake followed:
“What goes around, goes around, goes around. Comes all the way back around”

February 2nd, 2008, 6:11 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

… And the B-52’s once sang:

“The Looooooooooove Shack is a little old place where…. we can GET TO-GETH-ERRRRrrrrrr….”

Oops, wrong blog.

February 2nd, 2008, 6:32 pm


ausamaa said:


I think I have found it! Can we have a few posts about Fairuz, Haifa, Nancy and Warda and Marcel perhaps? If only to keep at bay a couple of bloggers here. Unless we discover that they will want to have a say in those matters as well!

February 2nd, 2008, 6:38 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ford Prefect said:

The peace we are after as Syrians is not a “deal” with Syria, another with Lebanon, a third with Hamas and so on. It is a peace that is comprehensive between Israel and all Arabs. There should be no one left feeling betrayed or undercut at the expense of another “deal”.

This peace will occur only when there is a genuine transformation on both sides. This transformation is not formulaic – a democracy defined in the hallways of some Washingtonian think tanks. It is rather a genuine transformation in attitude and vision from both sides.

Ford Prefect:

Nice to have you back. Above you express a common sentiment among moderate and thoughtful observers of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This sentiment is characterized by the following principles:

1. A parceled-out peace will not work. We need a comprehensive deal.

2. A comprehensive deal requires a massive transformation in attitudes and vision on both sides.

I am inclined to agree. However, I would like to ask you and others the following question: how do you imagine this transformation coming about?

Is it going to just happen unexpectedly, one day, when both sides are tired of fighting?

How will we know that the time has arrived?

Or will it come upon us suddenly, a result of some major victory/defeat?

If peace requires more than two leaders on opposite sides of a negotiating table, if it in fact requires a psychological and cultural re-orientation in the minds of tens of millions of people, then how do you see this process beginning?

February 2nd, 2008, 6:47 pm


ausamaa said:


“how do you imagine this transformation coming about?”

Is that a serious question or is it one intending to lead us to “realise” the neccessity of changing the Syrian Regime first before we can think about peace, freedom and democracy?!

I just have that suspicious streak which I can not control sometimes..

February 2nd, 2008, 7:07 pm


Alex said:


You baathist. You want to prevent what’s his name from helping us Syrians to see the light … without him we would not have known about the 20% illiteracy rate, or the other sad facts of life in Syria.

But fine. Let’s try. Here is Nancy

February 2nd, 2008, 7:09 pm


ausamaa said:


Thanks. And a new clip posted recently too!

Where the heck do you find the time? I mean between keeping an eye on SC and doing your things at the “madrassa” !!


Let us not get into that again please. Tonite at least. Let us follwo the link Alex provided above and call it a nite!


February 2nd, 2008, 7:24 pm


Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

I of course understand the real need and wish of Syrians to see a comprehensive peace with all Arabs, not just with Syria. That will attest to Israel’s true acceptance of its own responsibilities in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and not to a divide-and-conquer methodology of peacemaking. I also agree that real peace will only take place after “a genuine transformation in attitude and vision from both sides” occurs (quoting you). But here’s the question. What if such a comprehensive peace cannot happen until Israel feels it has a partner on the Palestinian side that truly represents the Palestinian people (not just 50% of them)? What if we reach the conclusion (which I support, at the moment at least), that we should not continue negotiating with Abu Mazen right now, and instead back away from any formal talks with the PA, and start planning our unilateral withdrawal (if need be) from the W. Bank and E. Jerusalem? Is it inconceivable that Israel should attempt to make peace with one side, and not with the other? What if aside from a divide-and-conquer strategy, Israel also believes making peace with one party at a time might be possible in the next 2-3 years, whereas with everyone not for a long, long time?

I understand that Syria has worked very hard in recent decades to get close to the Palestinians. I know that making peace with Israel separately may seem like almost a betrayal towards Palestinians. But is it really? Especially now, when there is no single body governing the Palestinians? Who should Israel talk to, Fatah, Hamas? Clearly, any agreement that isn’t signed and agree to also by Hamas, is essentially null and void. But with Syria there IS a chance, I believe, to come to a reasonable agreement. Like Assad himself said, we are 80% there. There’s only 20% left. Clearly, normalization and true peace will only occur once all Arabs feel justice has been done. But shouldn’t we explore every way possible to at least sign a peace treaty with Syria? Personally, I think if we return the Golan to Syria, and have peace, that will inevitably force the Palestinian people to seriously consider their demands vis-a-vis Israel. Seeing almost the entire Arab world’s embassies flying their flags from villas overlooking the Mediterranean in Herzliya Pituach, or on Hayarkon Street in Tel-Aviv, citizens from Gaza to Ramallah will have to say to themselves “Okay, those Zionists are clearly ready to make peace – so how can we reach a consensus about our demands from them?” And within 1-2 years, we’ll have peace with them, and a Palestine will finally be born.

And then, hopefully, we will have our comprehensive peace. I say hopefully, because if we don’t move fast, and assume time is on our side, we may find ourselves in a regional conflict that will be more costly than anything we’ve experienced thus far. Let’s not forget, that most rivals in this conflict still maintain very large amounts of non-conventional weapons, and given a real enough feeling of existential threat (either of a nation, or perhaps a regime), how can we be sure none of these would be used? And, unlike the case with Saddam and the Kurds, here any side can bring about such punishment upon the other, that things could quickly get out of hand. I’m actually not worried about Israel, or Syria, or even Iran, starting anything like that. I am worried about “less responsible” parties, such as Hamas, or Hezbollah, that could start a chain-reaction of cause/effect that would lead to this hell. It’s a chess game with very few moves ahead, that we could easily foresee, and that ends really badly for all sides. So no, I don’t think time is on our side, and that’s why I’m a very strong advocate for peace with Syria, even at the expense of a more-wished-for comprehensive peace.

February 2nd, 2008, 7:25 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Here is Nancy

yo2borni al-qawmiyya al-3arabiyya

February 2nd, 2008, 7:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is the use of knowing something if no one is willing to discuss it, understand why it happens and solve it?

What is the use of knowing something if you are not willing to hold the Asads accountable for it? They had 40 years to take care of the illiteracy. Did they do it? No. Does it matter to you? No.

So knowing really doesn’t help, does it. It is the doing that does. To put it bluntly, are the Syrians not ashamed that the illiteracy rate in Syria is so much higher than that of the Israeli Arabs (who are “oppressed” and “second class citizens”)? By the way, in 48 the illiteracy rate was identical.

Don’t you see that the problem is not knowing, but not holding the regime accountable?

I will ask you a simple question: Why is the illiteracy rate of Syrians so much higher than that of Israeli Arabs?

February 2nd, 2008, 7:34 pm


offended said:

Oh…how nice… thank you very much AIG for taking care of the ‘Israeli Arabs’:

“Israeli Arabs have staged mass strikes in the north of the country in protest against a government decision to end an inquiry into a police shooting which killed 13 people. ”

February 2nd, 2008, 7:39 pm


Charles Cameron said:

Qifa Nabki asks:

QUOTE: If peace requires more than two leaders on opposite sides of a negotiating table, if it in fact requires a psychological and cultural re-orientation in the minds of tens of millions of people, then how do you see this process beginning? :UNQUOTE

I believe it does. But I also believe we are dealing with two distinct approaches (with perhaps something of a middle ground which could lean either way) on either side.


It seems to me that any attempt at a comprehensive peace will need to be two pronged, in this sense: it will address those willing to negotiate (or support negotiation) towards peace in terms of their justifiable concerns and reservations (including e.g. the Palestinian right of return, the continued existence of a state where Jews may be secure from fear of a second holocaust, etc), while attention must also be paid in an entirely different manner to those whose religious devotion absolutely bars them from accepting or supporting any form of compromise.

Those who would rather die than see the Third Jewish Temple built where the Al Aqsa mosque stands according to the will of Allah, and those who would rather die than see the Al Aqsa mosque remain where the Third Jewish temple should be built according to the will of HaShem pose, it seems to me, a different problem from those who are willing to accept some sort of compromise, no matter how strongly they feel that Israel is clearly in the right or plainly in the wrong.

The Gharqad Tree hadith, quoted both in the Hamas Charter and by bin Laden, stating that the final, eschatological war will be between Muslims and Jews, sets the tone for the requirement that all Israel should be returned to Muslim rule, whereas the sentiment expressed by Gershon Salomon of the Temple Mountain Faithful, that if the Dome of the Rock was demolished, the “Muslims know in their heart that this [Temple Mount] belongs to us [the Jewish people]” sets an equivalent tone for those who would claim for Israel all the land “from the river of Egypt as far as the great river the Euphrates”.

The bulk of the recent discussion seems to have focused on the those who are willing to engage in, or support, negotiation, which may well as you say itself require a great deal of “psychological and cultural re-orientation”.

I personally am more concerned with figuring out the “non-negotiable” aspects — in which the eschatological traditions of all three Abrahamic traditions are now involved.

This seems to me to be a horribly difficult and intractable matter, and one which is liable to erupt in ways that bedevil all attempts at negotiation and any settlements deriving from them, and one which will require an extraordinary empathetic approach if it is to be mediated in any way.

February 2nd, 2008, 7:46 pm


Shai said:


Another sad chapter in Israel… What our government’s judicial-counsel doesn’t understand is, that these “non-2nd-class citizens” will never forgive a government that betrayed them. He just lead to the formation of yet another 2-3 extremist cells of frustrated and fed-up Israeli Arabs, who will gladly drive some suicide bombers to the nearest cafe. We just don’t get it. And maybe we never will…

February 2nd, 2008, 7:47 pm


Alex said:


You love to pick some statistic then use it repeatedly to make your one and only point … it is ALL the Assad’s fault…Syrians should punish the Assads.

I will not answer your question … because, despite the many disappointing figures you can Google, the overall HDI for Syria has been improving systematically …

According to the UNDP, here is how Syria’s Human development index changed over the past 30+ years. Not the disaster you would like to see.

And if you want to discount the HDI and remind us again of Syria’s not very impressive GDP … let me quote the UNDP: “The human development index gives a more complete picture than income”


AIG … try to stop dreaming about Syrians revolting against their regime and turning Syria into another Iraq … despite the many negatives, it is not going to happen… life in Syria is not as miserable as you hope and imagine.

February 2nd, 2008, 8:00 pm


Alex said:

Shai said:

Seeing almost the entire Arab world’s embassies flying their flags from villas overlooking the Mediterranean in Herzliya Pituach, or on Hayarkon Street in Tel-Aviv, citizens from Gaza to Ramallah will have to say to themselves “Okay, those Zionists are clearly ready to make peace – so how can we reach a consensus about our demands from them?” And within 1-2 years, we’ll have peace with them, and a Palestine will finally be born.

And then, hopefully, we will have our comprehensive peace.


As I said earlier, I have not made up my mind regarding the question “Should Syria lead of follow”. I know that if Israel had good intentions towards the Palestinians, then I would definitely recommend starting with the much easier Syria Israeli settlement. If Bashar and Farouk Sharaa tell the Syrian people that they (Assad and Sharaa) are confident that peace with Syria will be followed by predetermined steps to settle the conflict with the Paletinians in a fair and just way, then Syria will be ready for peace with Israel. And I think with a few months of stopping the anti-Syria media campaign, enough Israelis might support the process as well.

HOWEVER … I lived in Egypt at the time Sadat signed the Camp David agreement. I was 12, but I still lived that experienced on a daily basis. Sadat told us on TV every day that he agreed with the Israelis and Americans to follow Egypt’s part with an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Assuming he was not lying … then he was misled by Israel.

I would say he accepted vague promises in order to not feel bad about abandoning the Palestinians.

I’ll copy again the part about Kissinger’s comparison between Sadat and Assad Sr. because it will apply to some extent to any future negotiations with Bashar Assad:

“In conference with the Israelis, Kissinger contrasted Sadat and Assad: ‘Sadat has a fixed determination to overcome obstacles and move toward peace. He makes big moves and breaks impasses. With Assad, each issue when you get to it becomes major, and you have to bargain over every point. It’s so time consuming! Sadat makes command decisions. Assad had his lieutenants there, and I had to convince them too.’ In describing Assad, Kissinger was also describing the Israelis to themselves.”

Syrian negotiators might not accept any vague promises from the Israelis about their good intentions towards the Palestinians. They are more cautious than Sadat, and they learned from his experience … having the Egyptian flag on their embassy in Tel Aviv did not lead to an Israeli Palestinian peace.

If a peace process can start, but at the end Rabin gets assassinated, or Olmert’s government falls and gets replaced with a weak coalition led by Mr. Netanyahu then … whatever understanding there was with the Syrians is simply an understanding … the new government will not e obliged to respect it.

What kind of irrevocable instruments does your Israeli political system has (short of a final peace agreement) so that the Syrians can have a more solid assurance of continuity in terms of promises made regarding the Palestinian track … something the next prime minister is obliged to continue to respect?

If there is nothing, then there is a problem I think… you would need a Madrid like simultaneous movement along the two tracks.

February 2nd, 2008, 8:35 pm


ausamaa said:

Yeh, we know, this could not be true. It is PROROPAGANDA only! (from

على ذمة هيومن رايتس ووتش : امريكا واوروبا تتستران على انظمة
ديكتاتورية عربية مثل الاردن وتونس ودول الخليج

قالت منظمة “مرصد حقوق الانسان” الدولية (هيومن رايتس ووتش) في تقريرها السنوي ان الأنظمة الديكتاتورية في العالم ومنها النظام الاردني والتونسي ومعظم انظمة العائلات الحاكمة في دول الخليج تنتهك حقوق الانسان وتفلت من المساءلة، وذلك اساساً لأن الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي والديمقراطيات الراسخة الأخرى تقبل ادعاء هذه الأنظمة بأن اجراء انتخابات في بلدانها يجعلها أنظمة ديمقراطية وحذرت المنظمة في تقريرها السنوي عن وضع حقوق الانسان في العالم من أن اخفاق الديمقراطيات الغربية في الاصرار على ان تحترم الانظمة المنتهكة الحقوق المدنية والسياسية لشعوبها انما يعرضها (الديمقراطيات الغربية) لخطر ان تقوض حقوق الانسان في كل مكان

ومع ذلك، وفي فصل بعنوان “استبداديون يتنكرون بمظهر ديمقراطيين”، جاء في التقرير “إنها لعلامة أمل انه حتى الديكتاتوريين اصبحوا يعترفون بأن الطريق الى الشرعية يمر عبر سجل ديمقراطي ومن بين الدول التي صنفها التقرير باعتبارها منتهكة رئيسية لحقوق الانسان الاردن وتونس والمغرب ومصر ومعظم انظمة الخليج العربي التي تحكمها اسر فاسدة وم الدول الاجنبية كينيا وباكستان ونيجيريا وروسيا وتايلاند واثيوبيا وكوريا الشمالية والكونجو وايران وهذا التقرير الذي يغطي العام 2007 يستعرض عيوب اوضاع حقوق الانسان في اكثر من 75 بلداً

واذا كان التقرير قد تحدث عن الانتهاكات التي تحدث في العالم النامي اساساً، فإنه تحدث ايضا عن انتهاكات ترتكبها الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وفرنسا الى جانب باكستان باسم “الحرب على الارهاب وانتقد التقرير معارضة الرئيس الفرنسي نيكولا ساركوزي والمستشارة الالمانية انجيلا ميركل وقادة اوروبيين آخرين انضمام تركيا الى الاتحاد الأوروبي على الرغم من تحسن سجلها بشأن حقوق الانسان ولكن التقرير ركز أساساً على ما وصفها ب “الديمقراطيات الزائفة” والبلدان التي تتستر عليها وجاء في التقرير: “انه لمن السهل جداً الآن بالنسبة للاستبداديين ان يفلتوا من العقاب تحت ستار ديمقراطية زائفة وسبب ذلك ان الكثير جداً من الحكومات الغربية تصر على اجراء انتخابات ثم تقف عند ذلك الحد

وقال التقرير ايضاً ان الحكومات الغربية تتجاهل “المسائل الأساسية لحقوق الانسان التي تجعل الديمقراطية تعمل بنجاح، وهي حرية الصحافة والتجمع السلمي، ومجتمع مدني يعمل بصورة سليمة ويستطيع فعلاً تحدي السلطة وأشار التقرير الى ان الانتخابات التي تجرى في العديد من البلدان يتم التلاعب بها عبر طرق مختلفة، تشمل التزوير، والسيطرة على الماكينة الانتخابية، والتدخل لتحديد مرشحي المعارضة، والعنف السياسي، وإسكات وسائل الاعلام والمجتمع المدني، والالتفاف على القانون وكانت الانتخابات الاخيرة في الاردن من اوضح الامثلة على هذا

وبمواجهة كل ذلك، قال التقرير انه “يتعين على الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي ان يطالبا بأن تلتزم (الانظمة المنتهكة) بالحقوق المضمونة بموجب القانون الدولي، بما فيها حرية وسائل الاعلام وحرية التجمع والاقتراع السري وبدلاً من ذلك، لاحظ التقرير انه “يبدو ان حكومات واشنطن وأوروبا ستقبل حتى أكثر الانتخابات اثارة للشبهة طالما ان “المنتصر” فيها هو حليف استراتيجي أو تجاري كما لاحظ التقرير ان بعض الدول الغربية، ومنها الولايات المتحدة، جعلت من الصعب عليها مطالبة الحكومات المنتهكة باحترام حقوق الانسان، لأنها هي ذاتها ترتكب انتهاكات في حملتها ضد الارهاب

February 2nd, 2008, 8:48 pm


Shai said:


In the end, you may be right, that we’ll need another Madrid in parallel. But even then, promises, or even written agreements are worthless if either side translates his part differently. What happened with Sadat, I believe, was that Sadat heard what he wanted to hear, more than received any assurances. Look at today, 2008, how easy is it for the Palestinians to govern themselves? Can you imagine 1977? This is of course no excuse for Israel, because we shouldn’t have been there longer than a week or two following the Six-Days War. But fact is, that it is almost inconceivable right now for Israel to actually conclude an agreement with the PA which will be respected and carried out by Hamas – don’t you agree? And to be honest, I think Assad understands this no less than I do. And he too must gauge the pros/cons of waiting for things to improve, before making peace with Israel. Personally, and I’m sorry for saying this, but I think Assad cares a lot less about the Palestinians in the next 2-3 years, than he does about his own seat-in-power. Incidentally, the exact same could probably be said about Olmert, Barak, Netanyahu, and even Abu Mazen.

February 2nd, 2008, 8:50 pm


Alex said:


Assad cares about the preservation of his regime, like most politicians do, true.

But the way he does it is by aligning Syria’s regional policies to Arab popular opinion. You know that probably over 80% of Arabs are proud of Nasrallah, are very understanding of Hamas, and do not see Iran as their number one enemy, instead it is Israel and the United States who are perceived as enemies.

I am against unilateral withdrawals. You tried them in Gaza and in south Lebanon. All they lead to is a conviction among many Israelis that it is hopeless to make peace with the Arabs .. look! … we gave them Gaza and south Lebanon and they gave us Hamas and Hizbollah!

You need to negotiate your future withdrawals with the leading states in the Arab world … Syria and Egypt … Syria will manage with Hamas, Egypt will manage with Fatah.

Syria and Egypt each has a large army … they can send troops to handle security for few years until the Palestinians have a solid police force and army.

It helps if the Israelis and Americans this time do not ask the Palestinians (Fatah) to spy on their behalf on the Arabs in Damascus and Cairo … if you really want the Palestinian moderates (who agree to live in peace with you in the future) to succeed in leading their people in the right direction, do not corrupt them, use them, and destroy their reputation in the process (like Israel did with many Fatah security officers and other politicians)

When there is an honest will on the Israeli side, there is a way … when your negotiators speak to the Syrian negotiators I’m sure they will hear a lot about possible solutions.. But the Israelis need to show during those negotiations that they are about to take concrete confident steps towards those solutions for the Palestinians …

February 2nd, 2008, 9:12 pm


Shai said:


I agree with you. But I fear the Palestinian pandora-box is only now beginning to open up, and that things are going to be much tougher than making peace with any of our other neighbors. I don’t see Israel agreeing to Syrian or Egyptian troops in the W. Bank. Maybe Egyptian in Gaza, or Jordanian in W. Bank. Syrian and Israel tanks will need to be very far away from each other for a decade or two, before the next generation of both sides grow up not knowing this innate fear and distrust…

February 2nd, 2008, 9:16 pm


Alex said:


This is exactly my point … Syria will go out of its way to respect agreements it signs. Remember what Avi Dichter said? … remember what Rabin said?

Why do you think the Syrians take their time negotiating agreements? … because they plan to respect them.

If Israel is not ready to treat Syria as an equal to Egypt, then there is no need to start a process… if many potential good solutions will be discarded because they involve a role for Syria, then there might not be other good solutions.

The fact is … Israel and the United States do not want Syria to play a larger regional role… and this is part of the problem.

There are many issues to be settled in the Middle East … Israel’s conflict with the Arabs is one, but inter-Arab regional balance is another … The Middle East will be much closer to solutions when everyone stops trying to force a change in the regional balance of power .. in the 90’s Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia understood the right formula … Bush Sr. and Clinton agreed. We need to go back to that understanding.

February 2nd, 2008, 9:25 pm


Shai said:


No doubt we will not get far without treating Syria as an equal. And, when we start talking to Syria again, we must treat her as an equal. But between treating her as an equal, and admitting to her important role in the region, and letting Syrian troops into West Bank towns and villages, is at least a number of years of peace between us. You must understand the fear factor that really does lie deep within most Israelis. Let’s say Netanyahu restarts talks with Syria (or Livni, whom I prefer), and let’s say they even get as far as a peace agreement. The public here might be convinced that it is worth the risk to return the Golan to Syria, in order to see if Syria is serious about peace. But it’ll take quite a few years before the same public will enable Israeli leaders to agree to Syrian troops so close to our border. By the way, the same goes for Egypt, as I said, no Egyptian troops in the West Bank. Gaza is another story, because it is much smaller, and already borders Egypt. The West Bank is strategically more a threat to Israel than even the Golan Heights.

February 2nd, 2008, 9:42 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yes, HDI is more important indicator than GDP. But the HDI of ALL the world has been going up in the last 30 years as the graphs YOU provide show.

But unlike many countries in Asia, Syria has not been closing the HDI gap with the West and is in fact doing worse than the average of Arab countries as the graph you provide shows.

And why are you not willing to answer my question? It is a rather simple one. Why is the illiteracy rate in Syria so much higher than that of Israeli Arabs? Why has Israel been able to eliminate illiteracy among its Arab citizens and Syria has not been able to do it? The Asad’s have been in charge for 40 years. How do they not bear most of the responsibility? How is it that Israel is a better place for an Arab to live than Syria?

February 2nd, 2008, 9:49 pm


Seeking the Truth said:

Even if (a big if that is), a peace treaty could be reached between Israel and Syria, it will be at best a cold peace like that between Israel and Egypt or Jordan, as long as the Palestinian problem is not settled.

February 2nd, 2008, 9:51 pm


Alex said:


I don’t think separating peace with Syria from the next step (peace with the Palestinians) can wait “many years”… years during which Israeli troops continue to make life very difficult for the Palestinians while Syria enjoys the economic gains that will probably follow its own peace settlement with Israel.

There are ways to help Israelis not fear Syria’s troops on the West bank.

1) Within a year, Syria probably can (with the help of Saudi Arabia and the United States and France) help the Lebanese people find some acceptable political reform ideas that allow Hizbollah to drop its arms and turn to politics. That by itself is a concrete action that no one in Israel can argue with.

2) Syrian troops on the west bank and/or gaza would not have tanks or rockets … they will be mixed with European and Egyptian (or Jordanian) troops and officers. Certainly not going to throw the Jews in the sea that way.

3) More honest communication … Israeli people can be reminded that their country never respected tens of UN resolutions while Syria respected all international agreements and resolutions… Israelis are smart enough to see the truth when there is no constant attempt to distort it.

4) The Syrian army is more secular, more predictable and controlled than the other two “moderate Arab” armies. The Syrians are more experienced than the Egyptians because of their 30 years in Lebanon where they stopped the civil war in that complex country where every sect and every group had its own weapons, ideology, and foreign backer. Things are much simpler in the West Bank and Gaza .. besides, Syria is the least suspicious of Arab countries in the minds of the Palestinians … it will be the last country to be suspected of selling the Palestinian cause… only Syria is trusted by Palestinian hard liners.

By the way … This is my own suggestion/ idea, I am not sure if Damascus even likes it. But to me, it is a test of Israel’s ability to treat Syria as an equal. It is also a test of America’s ability to respect Syria’s role in the Middle East.

It all goes together .. but there are many solutions.

February 2nd, 2008, 10:16 pm


Not me said:


There is no need for democracy to find out how people feel about Israel. I can tell you that I know a lot of people from all walks of life, from the very religious to Bikini wearing, alcohol drinking atheists, THEY ALL HATE WHAT ISREAL DOES TO THE PALESTINIANS. THEY ALL DOUBT ISRAEL’S INTENTIONS. THEY ALL WOULD BE WILLING TO HAVE PEACE WITH ISRAEL, IF ONLY ISRAEL CONVINCES THEM THAT IT IS CHANGING ITS AGGRESSIVE AND EXPANSIONST BEHAVIOR. NO ONE REALLY BELIEVES YOU WANT PEACE.

Here is an honest american opinion:

Life in Occupied Gaza
Life in Occupied Gaza – by Stephen Lendman

Life in occupied Gaza was never easy, but conditions worsened markedly after Hamas’ surprise January 2006 electoral victory. Israel refused recognition along with the US and the West. All outside aid was cut off, an economic embargo and sanctions were imposed, and the legitimate government was isolated. Stepped up repression followed along with repeated IDF incursions, attacks and arrests. Gaza’s people have been imprisoned in their own land and traumatized for months. No one outside the Territories cares or offers enough aid. Things then got worse.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, in league with Israel and the US, declared a “state of emergency last June 14 and illegally dismissed Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity government. On June 15, he appointed former IMF and World Bank official Salam Fayyad prime minister even though his party got only 2% of the votes in the 2006 election. On June 17, Abbas swore in a new (illegitimate) 13 member “emergency” cabinet with plans for future elections, excluding Hamas.

Israel and the US showed gratitude. The West Bank embargo ended, Israel began releasing frozen Palestinian tax funds, and the US and European Union (EU) resumed aid to the PA but continued isolating Hamas in Gaza that since 1995 has been designated a terrorist organization. After passage of the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the State Department included Hamas among the first 30 groups designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in October 1997. It makes it illegal to provide funds or other material support. It also ignores how Israel once embraced Hamas in the 1980s.

It’s name means courage and bravery, and it’s also an abbreviation of Islamic Resistance Movement in Arabic. It grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood (that had roots in Egypt) and was formed in 1987 during the first Intifada. At the time, Israel offered support and used Hamas to counter the PLO’s nationalist threat under Arafat. Ever since, it’s been an effective resistance movement against repression, occupation and much more. It provides essential social services like medical clinics; education, including centers for women; free meals for children; financial and technical help to Palestinians whose homes Israel destroyed; aid to refugees in the camps; and youth and sports clubs for young people.

Hamas is also a formidable defender, and that gets it in trouble. It established the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, an elite military wing, and other security forces like its Tanfithya Executive Force for self-defense and law enforcement. Washington and Tel Aviv call it “terrorism” because Hamas wants the occupation ended, won’t surrender its sovereignty like Fatah did under Arafat and Abbas, is willing to recognize Israel (though that’s never reported), but only if Palestinians get equal recognition and what’s rightfully theirs – an independent homeland inside pre-1967 borders or one “state for all its citizens,” Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and others.

Instead, Hamas got isolated, hammered and called a “hostile entity” by Israel’s security cabinet. It was announced on September 19, sanctions on Gaza were tightened, and it was decided to “reduce the amount of megawattage provide(d) to the Strip, and Hamas will have to decide whether to provide electricity to hospitals or weapons lathes.” There was more as well – cutbacks in fuel, food, other essentials and even tighter border crossing restrictions.

Even before the latest crisis, Gaza was devastated. Its industrial production was down 90%, and its agricultural output was half its pre-2007 level. In addition, nearly all construction stopped, unemployment and poverty topped 80%, and by now it may be 90%. After September 19, it got worse when shops began running out of everything. Israel allows in only nine basic materials, their availability is spotty, and some essentials are banned, like certain medicines, and others restricted like fruit, milk and other dairy products. Before June 2007, 9000 commodities could be imported. Today, it’s down to 20, people don’t get enough food, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was unusually blunt in its criticism. In a November 2007 report called “Dignity Denied in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” it said:

“….Palestinians….face hardship (in) their (daily) lives; they are prevented from doing what makes up the daily fabric of most people’s existence. (They) face a deep human crisis, where millions of people are denied their human dignity. Not once in a while, but every day (and the people of Gaza are) trapped (and) sealed off.” The “humanitarian cost (is) enormous,” people can barely survive, “families unable to get enough food increased by 14%, (and) Palestinians (are) being trampled underfoot day after day. (In) Gaza (under siege, Palestinians) continue to pay for conflict and economic containment with their health and livelihoods. Cutting power and fuel further compounds their hardship.”

Let ’em eat cake, walk, and live without light or heat is apparently Israel’s solution, and noted Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, took note. He calls it “genocide….to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip.” Knowing the facts, who can disagree.

Then there’s the matter of energy. With electricity restricted and fuel supplies reduced, Israel went further. It sealed its borders and cut all fuel shipments in response to Palestinian rocket attacks in and around the border town of Sderot. They’re fired in self-defense and used in response to repeated Israeli attacks that in the week of January 17 – 23 alone:

— killed 19 Palestinians along with three others from previous IDF-inflicted wounds;

— extra-judicially executed seven of the victims, including two women;

— wounded 71 Palestinians, including 24 children and three women;

— made 33 IDF incursions in the West Bank and five in Gaza;

— arrested 58 Palestinian civilians, including seven children, in the West Bank, and 32 in Gaza, including 3 children;

— destroyed five homes and razed agricultural land in Jabalya in northern Gaza;

— allowed further settler attacks against civilians and property in Hebron.

The same pattern continued the following week through Janauary 30 with more Israeli incursions, attacks and arrests. In the West Bank:

— Nablus was targeted and several Palestinian civilians arrested; several homes were also searched and ransacked in the villages of Kufer Kalil, Beit Dajan and Beit Fourik;

— the IDF seized six Palestinians in Jenin in a pre-dawn invasion; another followed theire several days later, the Israeli army opened fire randomly, one civilian was injured, four others arrested and a home was ransacked; several civilian homes were attacked and ransacked in the town of Qabatiya and village of Abu Da’eif in the northern West Bank; local sources reported unprovoked random gunfire by heavily armed troops in civilian neighborhoods;

— the IDF invaded Bethlehem, killed one civilian, arrested another, and injured seven others; eyewitnesses reported that local journalists were prevented from witnessing and documenting the incursion;

— several other West Bank cities were targeted and six civilians arrested: the Al Toor neighborhood in northern Jerusalem; the village of Beit Rima near Ramallah; Tulkarem city and the nearby Nur Shams refugee camp; and Jenin city.

These are malicious acts of aggression, abductions and wanton killing. Mostly civilians are targeted, and when Palestinians respond with crude Qassam rockets and children throw rocks, it’s called “terrorism.” Israel’s response – fiercer attacks and incursions in the Territories on any pretext or none at all and further tightening of its medieval siege on Gaza.

Its border crossings have been closed since June 2007, and severe restrictions were imposed on movement. Finally, food and fuel supplies were cut. Gaza’s power plant exhausted its supply, shut down, and the Strip went dark on January 20. Israel remained defiant, and Prime Minister Olmert announced….”as far as I am concerned, every resident of Gaza can walk because they have no gasoline for their vehicles,” and Foreign Ministry spokesman, Arye Meckel, told AP the blackout was “a Hamas ploy to pretend there is some kind of crisis to attract international sympathy.”

The Director of Gaza’s main Shiffa hospital, Dr. Hassan Khalaf, had a different view. He described the situation as “potentially disastrous.” Already Israel’s siege was directly responsible for 45 deaths, and he said cutting hospital power would cause 30 premature babies to die immediately. The World Health Organization was also alarmed. It said insufficient electricity “disrupt(s)….intensive care units, operating theatres, and emergency rooms (and) power shortages have interrupted refrigeration of perishable medical supplies, including vaccine.”

To operate at full capacity, Gaza needs 230 – 250 daily megawatts of electricity. Its only power plant supplies around 30% of it, but people in central Gaza and Gaza city are totally dependent on what can’t be supplied if industrial diesel fuel the plant depends on is cut off. The result is critically ill people are endangered, bread and other baked goods can’t be produced without electricity to power ovens, food is already in short supply, so is fresh water, and sanitation conditions are disastrous.

Michele Mercier of the International Red Cross said hospital medications were running out and wouldn’t “last for more than two or three days.” In addition, allowable food shipments are endangered according to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman, Christopher Gunness. He explained that the agency would have to suspend distribution to 860,000 people because of a fuel and plastic bags shortage.

Israel was unapologetic with Internal Security Minister, Avi Dichter, saying the IDF must “eliminate the rocket fire from Gaza, irrespective of the cost to Palestinians.” Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, added: “We are impacting the overall quality of life in Gaza and destroying the terror infrastructure.” He meant civilians as did Ehud Olmert claiming: “We are trying to hit only those involved in terrorism, but also signaling to the population in Gaza that it cannot be free from responsibility for the situation.”

Israel makes no distinction between civilians (including women and children) and resistance fighters, and B’Tselem stated that Yuval Diskin, head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), “defines every Palestinian killed in the Gaza Strip as a terrorist,” including small children and the elderly infirm. The world approves, the Security Council debates and abstains, the dominant media is silent, and innocent Palestinians suffer and die – over 75 killed in January and several hundred injured. Who cares and who’s counting. They’re just Arab Muslims.

They’re also needy human beings, now desperate, and on January 23 they responded courageously. No help is coming so Hamas acted preemptively. It destroyed 200 meters of metal barrier separating both sides of Rafah that was divided in 1982 as part of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt. About 40,000 people live in Egypt and another 200,000 in Gaza in the original town and an adjacent refugee camp. Until the outbreak of the second Intifada in September, 2000, crossing both ways was uncomplicated. That ended as violence increased, and Israel erected a barrier. Now it’s breached, Gazans took advantage, and some called it a “jail break.” Hundreds of thousands entered Egypt for needed essentials unavailable at home. Finally, the media noticed.

On January 24, The New York Times tried to have it both ways. It called Hamas’ border breach “an act of defiance” and continued indifferently. Unmindful of an 18 month siege, mass impoverishment, a humanitarian crisis and daily killings, correspondent Steven Erlanger made things seem festive in his report. Almost flippantly he said “Tens of thousands of Palestinians…. crossed the border for a ‘buying spree’ of medicine, cement, sheep….gasoline, soap and countless other supplies that have been cut off.”

Most Gazans can barely afford food and essentials and struggle daily to survive. Yet, Erlanger said they stocked up on “Coca-Cola, Cleopatra and Malimbo cigarettes, and satellite dishes” and on January 25 added “televisions (and) washing machines.” It was a party, “Egyptian merchants greeted them with a ‘cornucopia of consumer goods,” and Hamas joined the festivities by “mak(ing no) visible effort to control or tax” purchases. Those who could afford it indeed took advantage. Merchants bought items for resale at lower Egyptian prices. Most Palestinians, however, bought essentials – food, fuel, medicine if available and various household items.

Earlier on January 21, Israel relented to international pressure and a PR disaster impossible to ignore. Haaretz highlighted it in a January 26 editorial headlined “The siege of Gaza has failed.” Hamas ended it “via a well-planned operation and simultaneously won the sympathy of the world, which has forgotten the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot, (and Israel looks foolish) entrenching itself in positions that look outdated.” Only a week ago, the government was crowing. Triumphantly, it claimed its policy was “bearing fruit.”

Today, it’s all bitter with Olmert in denial. In a speech at the January Herzliya Conference, he said: “Mistakes were made; there were failures. But in addition, lessons were learned, mistakes were corrected, modes of behavior were changed, and above all, the decisions we have made since then have led to greater security, greater calm and greater deterrence than there had been for many years.” Haaretz had another view, and it was harsh. It stated events in Gaza “completely (contradict) his statements. If that is what learning lessons looks like, if that is what deterrence means, the Olmert government has precious little to boast about.” So it acted.

AP reported on January 21 that authorities “agreed today to ship diesel fuel and medicine into Gaza on a one-time basis,” easing its blockade, but it wouldn’t continue unless rocket firings stopped. Everything then changed on January 27.

Aljazeera, The New York Times, Haaretz and other sources reported that the Olmert government relented. It agreed to resume fuel shipments to Gaza, easing its blockade. The decision came on the same day Israel’s Supreme Court addressed the petition of 10 human rights organizations to order a resumption and prevent a humanitarian disaster. No decision was rendered, but state authorities acted anyway.

They agreed to supply 2.2 million weekly liters of industrial diesel fuel, the minimum amount needed to power central Gaza and Gaza City, but it’s not enough overall according to Rafiq Maliha, the project manager at An-Nuseirat’s power plant location. It’s only two-thirds the amount needed, a mere fraction was delivered the first day, and Maliha said Gaza’s gas companies would strike and resist this “Israeli plot” masquerading as humanitarian aid. His doubts are well-founded. On the same day fuel shipments resumed, Israeli warplanes struck northern Gaza in two separate raids. Hamas sources said two missiles hit a Palestinian car and others targeted a Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades position causing four injuries.

Human rights groups are also dismissive. They noted previous promises made, then broken, and the GISHA group (the Israeli NGO for freedom of Palestinian movement in the Territories) spokesperson said that Israel “repeatedly promised that it would ship 2.2 million litres (of fuel) a week into Gaza and has repeatedly broken that promise.” Why believe authorities now, and with events so fluid it seems every day, a new policy.

At the same time, Hamas and Egyptian security forces are cooperating to close the border eight days after it was breached. On January 28, Haaretz reported that openings were being sealed by barbed wire, but not entirely as some two-way traffic continues as of January 30. Hamas and Egyptian forces now man the main Salah Eddin gate, most cars and trucks aren’t passing through, but pedestrians still in Egypt “scoured (nearly) empty stores for food and consumer products to take back to the Gaza Strip….in fear of an imminent border reclosing.”

What’s next is anyone’s guess, but Israel’s Supreme Court will affect it. On January 30, it upheld the government’s Gaza sanctions and its right to restrict fuel and electricity. In its statement, the three-judge panel left no doubt where it stands. It wrote:

“We emphasize that the Gaza Strip is controlled by a ‘murderous terror group’ that operates incessantly to strike the state of Israel and its citizens, and violates every precept of international law with its violent actions.” Israel, nonetheless, will supply enough fuel and electricity to “fulfill the vital humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip at this time.”

Israeli human rights petitioners were quick to respond, and their message was clear and harsh. For its part, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights called the ruling a “dangerous legal precedent that allows Israel to continue to violate the rights of Gaza residents and deprive them of basic humanitarian needs in violation of international law.” Hamas spokesperson, Fawzi Barhoum, was equally pointed. He added: The High Court’s decision “reflects the criminal, ugly face of the occupation.”

Things are now back to square one, Israel’s siege has been sanctified, and an unworkable 2005 security arrangement remains in place. Hamas wants it replaced with a new one and demands justice for Gaza’s 1.5 million people. Its main objection is Israel controls all movement and monitors it with cameras and computers to track everyone entering and leaving Gaza. On January 27, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said: ‘We don’t accept a continued Israeli veto on the movement, the exit and entry through Rafah.” It’s time for a new system.

Getting one is another matter, according to Israeli officials. They commented on January 28 saying “Israel will not allow the continuation of the current state where its security interests are being compromised,” and Olmert and Abbas met on January 27 to discuss it. Initial reports were that Israel wanted Egypt to control the border, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants Abbas to do it, he, in turn, agrees to anything Olmert and George Bush want, and they at first rejected putting Abbas in charge, but that’s now changed according to Haaretz.

On January 29, it reported “Israel does not plan to block….Abbas from assuming control of Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt (if Cairo agrees).” Abbas, in turn, says it does as well as the EU, Arab League and Condoleezza Rice. Hamas reacted angrily through its spokesperson, Sami Abu-Zuhri. He called the plan an “Israeli-led international conspiracy (against the legitimate government) with the participation of some regional parties. We tell all parties that we will not allow the return of old conditions at the crossing.”

So the beat goes on. Nothing has changed, and unconsidered is what Palestinians want, need and deserve. After decades of abuse, forces they can’t control continue buffeting them, yet they persist and endure.

Now there’s the latest crisis, and consider Haaretz’s January 27 report. It was after Olmert and Abbas met “for a two-hour tete-a-tete….in Jerusalem” at which Olmert again made promises. He said Israel wouldn’t let a humanitarian crisis develop in Gaza, when, in fact, one has existed for months, his government caused it, and it’s accompanied by daily attacks, killings, arrests and a vast array of human rights abuses against an isolated population barely hanging on.

On January 23, various Palestinian factions met in Damascus with plenty to say. With little hope of being heeded, they called on Abbas to end the “ridiculous” negotiations he insists must continue with Olmert. Among those attending were Khaled Meshaal of Hamas and Ramadan Shallah of Islamic Jihad. Their message was strong: “I want to ask our brothers in Ramallah (Fatah headquarters), what exactly are you waiting for?” While you’re talking, Palestinians in “the biggest prison in history (are) being massacred.”

Even Abbas supporters are dubious, and Palestinian writer, Hani Al-Masri, expressed their view: “It doesn’t make sense for negotiations to continue while Israel is changing facts on the ground and undermining the chances for a just and acceptable solution.” The Arab League also responded, but not with teeth. It denounced Israel’s siege, but does nothing to end it. That’s Hamas’ view with Khaled Meshaal saying the League could force change but instead prefers words, meetings, resolutions and more meetings in Arab capitals.

Still more are planned. Cairo is involved. So are the Saudis, but most of all Washington and Tel Aviv. They control everything and will decide what’s next with one thing assured. Gazans are isolated, locked in the Territory, children and the elderly are dying, so are the sick without medical care, daily attacks kill others, and no end is in sight.

The plight of Palestinians won’t change as things continue lurching from one crisis to another the way they have for decades. It won’t end until world leaders buckle to growing world sentiment that no longer will injustices this grave be tolerated. How much more suffering must be endured, how many more deaths are acceptable, when will justice finally be served? People of conscience want answers. It’s about time they got them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at

February 2nd, 2008, 10:18 pm


ausamaa said:

Oh, dont you worry. AIG and likes understand and know all that. But they will listen to only one language: Force! They were created by it, they live by it, and unless they change their ways in the face of it, they shall die by it. It is around them all the time, and its growing by the day, mostly in response to their actions, they feel it, but they think they can somehow bluff their way out of it..

Maybe a new Rabin, a new Rabin the Negotiator, can be found by the Israelies soon to take over from Rabin the General as Rabin himself did.

February 2nd, 2008, 11:00 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not me,
First, the Egypt-Gaza border is open. The Arabs can give the Gazans whatever they want. In Gaza the fat lady has sung. Whatever happens there now is Arab responsibility. If you have problems go talk to Mubarak or to Asad. Nothing you say impresses most Israelis. If you shoot rockets at us, don’t expect life to be a picnic. Hamas now are asking to disconnect economically from Israel. This is a great idea. Egypt should give Gaza electricity and fuel and then the Gazans will be ok. Please, take care of your brothers.

As for the West Bank, the situation is bad but there is a chance it could get better if Abbas is serious. We will see.

And I agree with you 100%. Most Arabs do not want peace with Israel for whatever reason. Yours is because Israel does not want peace. Why then let Asad force such a peace down their throats?

Both sides want peace and believe they have good intentions. But each side wants it on its own terms. Unfortuantely, what you think is just is not what I think is just.

February 2nd, 2008, 11:20 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

A glass lamp cannot apply force. If it tries, it shatters. Fix your house so that it is not like glass and then come apply force to Israel. Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence (this is why Alex is so afraid of democracy in Syria).

But this is the paradox isn’t it? In order to beat Israel, you have to become democratic, which you refuse because that would be sucumbing to American hegemony or whatever.

You are stuck real hard. There is no way out. I love these historical ironies.

February 2nd, 2008, 11:28 pm


Not me said:


I forgot to mention that I used to think that Israelis wanted peace. I don’t anymore. In the past, Israelis used to say the Arabs did not want peace. But for the last 15 years, any time the Arabs proposed, you declined and used excuses. My idea of peace is applying International Law.

Don’t expect me to go back and fourth. I am going back to live under the dictatorship of those thugs that ruled Syria for the past 40 years. I don’t dare get on this web site or any other like this one. I agree with you regarding democracy. It will make us stronger, and maybe then you will deal with us with respect.

All of you on this forum just piss me off. You sit behind your computers and theorize and fantasize about Syria. You really think you have all the solutions for the troubles of Syria.
Sometimes, you sound like you think you came from Switzerland that went wrong.

You go for a visit, and you think you get a sense of what’s going on (that applies to you Dr. Landis). That’s what I used to think when I was one of you. We get excited that this and that opened recently. But move back like I did and experience everyday life. It is hell. There is no law, no ORDER what so ever. It is not just the government that’s corrupt, it is also the people. If you enjoy and have no ethical problem buying your way through anything, that is the country for you. You will live like king.

There is no accountability. There is only accountability when it comes to their own security. Yes, we have had stability in Syria. We have been stable with their grip around our necks and their foot over our heads. The Baath has managed to corrupt few generations of Syrians. I will safely predict that 99% of employees are not employable anywhere else in the world.

HOWEVER, I will still advise all to come back. Although it is the same book, but with a different cover (father vs. son). Circumstances are different now. The country is on the right track as far as economics. We have better qualified government officials dictating to us today than those who did in the eighties and nineties. They have money and they want to invest it. They are also suffering from the lack qualified work force. The educational system is improving. The country does not feel like one big army camp. It looks civil.
But I must also be honest and say that all these improvements have a ceiling because there is no LAW & ORDER.

By the way AIG, I feel sorry for your family; if they have to put up with such an angry person.

February 3rd, 2008, 12:17 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not me,
Keep posting when you can. You are right that good analysis depends on good data and thet more we know about what is really happening in Syria, the better the discussion will be.

Instead of arguing with me, I would prefer that you give as much detailed picture of what you see as possible if you can and have time. For example, what is your take about the differences between the rich and the poor in Syria?

February 3rd, 2008, 12:29 am


Akbar Palace said:

Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence…


What you fail to understand is that the Syrians have paid a price, “A heavy one perhaps and for hundreds of years….

The mother-of-all heavy prices.

February 3rd, 2008, 1:15 am


SimoHurtta said:

A glass lamp cannot apply force. If it tries, it shatters. Fix your house so that it is not like glass and then come apply force to Israel. Arab societies are so fragile that they are constantly on the verge of civil war or sectarian violence (this is why Alex is so afraid of democracy in Syria).

But this is the paradox isn’t it? In order to beat Israel, you have to become democratic, which you refuse because that would be sucumbing to American hegemony or whatever.

You are stuck real hard. There is no way out. I love these historical ironies.

AIG the historical irony is that Arabs have the oil (= money). The historical irony is that now Arabs are buying huge blocks of western banks and stock exchanges. And it is only the start. The oil remaining reserves are the the real geopolitical political power now. And in that game Israel and the chosen people have day by day less influence and possibilities to control events.

Arab and Muslim nations could any day bring Israel to the knees if they would coordinated use their oil and gas weapon. If Americans and Europeans have to choose between their present living standard and supporting that violent entity called Israel, I guess AIG you know the answer. The difference with the oil weapon situation in the 70’s and now is completely different. Then there were few real customers, now the rinsing Asian giants have changed the situation.

AIG the historical irony is that Arabs do not need democracy or nukes to force Israel to make peace. The deeper US economy slumps down and the more Indians and Chinese buy cars means bad news for Israel and good news for Palestinians.

Buy the way AIG Gaza has gas reserves (= much money), is IDF AIG willing to give that “problem” also to Egyptians?

February 3rd, 2008, 1:41 am


Not me said:


I am not arguing with you. I have talked to Israelis before during my travels. The conversations were civil and respectful. I actually supported your democracy argument. I intentionally avoided details because they’re embarrassing.
There is nothing I could say here that is known outside Syria, but to answer your question, the Baath has managed to destroy the middle class. They used to claim they fought for the poor, so they made everyone poor, so the poor don’t feel lonely. But seriously, the gap between the poor and the rich is huge. Needless to say, the rich is a very small minority. The poor barely make it living in substandard housing. They lack the skills to justify a higher pay. You can not raise their pay, because the productivity is low (Baathists destroyed the educational system). In general, money is being exchanged, but not being earned.
Then, you have a small segment of the population that is making millions of dollars. There are areas where land is more expensive than Beverly Hills or Manhattan, and you still find people that can afford it.
Dinner for four at some restaurants costs as much as the monthly salary of the waiter serving it. Life is not cheap. You need to spend almost $100,000 to live a life comparable to a $120,000 in the states or spend $70,000 in Syria to live a life comparable to $100,000 in the states.

They’re passing laws every day to improve the economy. There is a time bomb on the government’s hand that is the population explosion of young people looking for jobs. The country does not get any financial foreign aid. And they need the money and they need to invest their own money.

However, and although I say the improvements have a ceiling because the legal system is corrupt, good economic laws will never hurt. Syria today is a capitalist country. I always said a capitalist dictatorship is always better than a socialist one.

As an example, private banks opened and started giving loans and mortgages. Salaries are rising because every employer is competing for whatever talent could be found. Housing laws have changed. Maybe now, the poor can afford decent housing. One can feel the buzz around town due to all the projects being planned.

What is upsetting to us (Syrians) is that we were once (in the fifties) better than a lot of the countries around us. They’re opening banks now; we used to have almost 30 foreign banks in 1960. Without going into more details, they’re trying to reverse what the Baathists have done. So things can only get better for everyone.

February 3rd, 2008, 1:55 am


Ford Prefect said:

Qifa Nabki,
Thanks, I am glad to be back! Regarding your question of “how do you imagine this transformation coming about,” I think it is a very valid one. Most of us are burning with desires to see peace during our generation. Our parents and grandparents did also have these wishes.

How is this transformation going to happen? To answer this question, it is probably easier to describe what is impeding or slowing this transformation than envisaging how it is going to happen.

Let us all agree that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a VERY complicated conflict, involving many players, working under a very complex historical, theological, and ideological constraints, and that this conflict is often producing unpredictable results.

Next, let us also dispel any myth that this conflict is clearly defined as the struggle between good and evil (the Bush Doctrine – who himself needs a head doctor).

Impeding the transformation of the people in the Middle East towards a harmonized set of aspiration and mutual respect is US policies that continue to underscore Arab feelings of betrayal and injustice. I know some argue that these feelings are manufactured in the palaces of the authoritarian heads of state to secure their position in power. True. However, it is hard for any rational mind to overlook the fact of an obviously impartial US in this conflict.

The Arab street also find the US policies are heavily tilted towards favoring authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes in the Arab world. Not a single US-friendly regime can be thought of as a role model to the Arab people.

Consequently, it is easy to find that US policies in the Middle East have not been conducive to the emergence of genuine transformation of the Arab world. In other words, the US Middle East have been nothing but antithetical to the Arab transformation.

Ironically, I argue that these same policies, while giving Israel a clear qualitative advantage in the region, it is precisely these policies that are impeding Israelis from undergoing their due transformation. The over-militarization of a young society full of aspiring young Israelis is hardly a recipe for genuine transformation.

Another impediment to the transformation of the Arab-Israeli philosophies is a fundamental, deeply engrained difference between East and West. I am not pushing Huntigton’s clash of civilization nonsense, but, rather, I am referring to the fact of how Arabs culturally refer to land in their consciousness. Several years ago, while walking outside my mother’s home in Beirut, I was struck by a street banner, stretch from one side of the street to the other, proclaiming, in Arabic that anyone “…who dies without his homeland being free is a martyr.”

Arab psyche places primary emphasis on land. All other aspirations of freedom, liberty, and material enrichments are at distant second place. Many scholars have investigated the Arab fascination with land and literature is full of interesting reads on this subject.

What perplexes the West and many Western Israelis is this profound attachment of Arabs to barren, often useless pieces of land. We all have heard the Western words wondering about the “craziness” of the Arabs to die for land – an object of which they have plenty!

It is clear to the Western eye that region outside that thin strip of Israel is heavily under populated and under developed. So, what exactly is the problem with the Arabs of just accommodating those Palestinians in lieu of taking advantage of the presence of Western Jews who brought with them the money, science, technology, nationalism, and the know-how? The Western mind wanted to know.

According to conventional Western wisdom, people do fight and maybe die for something worldly object that is truly scarce and valuable. The US involvement in the Middle East, occasionally by sacrificing its own young human lives, is hardly the result of a deeply rooted love for anything Arabic and what they stand for.

So, it is the fundamental difference between Arab ethos that value “the” land (which gives them their young national identity) over all other worldly treasures and the Western ethos that describes identity in terms of liberty, democracy, individualism, and the free movement of capital.

To sum it all up, I believe that there are two major attributes that act forcefully to impede the transformation of the Israeli and Arab societies towards a harmonized set of objectives: misguided US policies and a striking difference of what is considered an essential element of national identity.

Qifa Nabki, your question is profoundly important and I am looking forward to reading comments from the great bloggers here.

February 3rd, 2008, 2:00 am


Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

Wow! What an amazing piece. I wish I could show all Israelis how “our enemy” reads us, and the region, and the geopolitical issues that stand between us. Israelis also need to have their perception of Arabs transformed. But the funny thing is, that despite our “westernized” culture (which, I can tell you, is far from being so cultured…), the fact that our forefathers grew up here, and that we are descendants of the tribes that lived in this land, we very much value this land, perhaps no less than Arabs do theirs. There is a deep emotional, spiritual, historical attachment to the land of “milk and honey”, and few Israelis can claim they’ve never felt it. For nearly two millennia, Jews have been dreaming of a return to Zion, and have never forgotten their home. That is why it is so difficult for Jews to consider giving up land (even the W.Bank, Gaza, and the Golan). But, we will, and there will be peace in this region. If we’re lucky, it’ll be through negotiation. If we’re not, then through war…

February 3rd, 2008, 7:43 am


Alex said:

Ford Prefect,

Until the great bloggers show up, I will try to add a couple of factors that are impeding the desired transformation.

First … the higher propensity to seek/need revenge that we have in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. Both sides did a lot of damage to each other. And even when the violence slows down (like before the latest Gaza siege) there is no shortage of historic violence that was not properly reciprocated.

Of course the Israelis kill many more Arabs than Arabs can kill Israelis and Israelis know it … they know that many Arabs would love to reciprocate if only they could … so the Israelis don’t feel secure unless they are armed with mountains of nuclear and high-tech conventional weapons … and another essential for feeling secure: They need to periodically remind the Arabs who has the upper hand militarily… a practical lesson they will not forget … an invasion of Lebanon that punished a whole population for failing to help Israel in getting rid of Hizbollah who dared to kill a couple of Israeli soldiers thus giving Israel a good enough reason to invade Lebanon and revenge the killing of the soldiers and teach the Lebanese (and Syrians too) a fresh lesson in Israeli superiority. Of course that particular lesson was not very effective … that’s why many expect a new lesson will be taught after the next thing that looks even remotely like an excuse to start another war.

So … we go from one Palestinian group sending rockets on Israeli territories, to an Israeli retaliation on Gaza … to a Hizbollah retaliation … to an Israeli invasion of Lebanon …

How do we get out of this cycle?

With all the hate that many Arabs have towards the powerful and violent and selfish Israelis who are often preventing them from properly taking their revenge …. Israel can still undo most of the hate rather quickly … just look at how Shai can communicate with everyone here without being hated… of course none of us here has a brother in an Israeli jail or a mother who was insulted by an Israeli soldier last week, but even those Palestinians can be convinced to press the reset button and forget the past…

Revenge is not logical … I am assuming that when both sides are cooperating with a genuine desire to succeed, one can educate his people out of this mentality… Is this a correct assumption?

I am encouraged by what is happening in Lebanon so far … despite the often frustrating events .. the assassinations, the insults, the accusations, the backstabbing … no one wants to fight the others … they still remember the Lebanese civil war … that was one sad lesson in where revenge can lead them (100,000 casualties) … but it was an effective lesson … this time no one tried to take revenge… and they are still Middle Easterners like Israelis and Palestinians.

The good thing about the war in Lebanon last summer is that it taught some Israelis (not all) that they should not expect an automatic dose of euphoria the next time their government decides to send the IDF superstars into action against the Arabs (to take revenge or to teach the Arabs a needed lesson) … this song’s lyrics and the typical comments at Israeli newspaper’s online news stories show beyond any doubt that many people love to see blood and destruction on the other side. so many times I read “let us nuke Damascus and terminate Assad and his allies” … after the American troops took out Saddam and entered Baghdad with ease … many Israelis were dying to do the same to their enemies.

Again, this is not strictly an Israeli trait, many Arab websites are loaded with comments calling on their useless “moderate Arab” leaders to deliver a proper dose of revenge so that their troubled minds can cool down.

Conclusion: We need strong, respected and enlightened leadership on both sides… they will know what to do and how to lead.

February 3rd, 2008, 7:51 am


ausamaa said:

Those are all very very reasonable and balanced arguments -in a sense- and done doubtless from behind the sanctury of laptops at home as was noted above. But how do such arguments fare once they collide with how the Syrian and IDF general staff see things, or compared to what the planners at the Pentagon of the US Department of State concoct their grand designs (ill-advised or well-advised), and how much wight do they carry with the frustration of the dispalced and tromented Palestinians, starved and undersiege in their own land, or how much attention they will get from the determined Hizbullah command, or how will be mimicked by the Saudies, Iranians, Europeans, Chinese, and by -last not least- with the Shas and Likud fanatics and their nut brothers in the Al-Qaida wherever they may be lurcking?

As if reason, fairness, or convincing arguments have won any big triumphs!!!

History has tought us one thing; Power stems from the barrel of a gun (be it a military, economic or political one), and treaties and understandings are a reflection of the balance of power at any given period of time. Dipolmacy, negotiations and reasonable debates are window dressing and secondary items compared to the above.

Who was it that said that God is on the side of the General who has the larger Army??

And what goes round, comes round!!!!

February 3rd, 2008, 4:32 pm


Ford Prefect said:

In reading your response to my comments above, I have (to borrow from Hillary!) found my own voice. Yes, indeed, I am all for any positive step towards peace. A moment where a human life is saved and protected from the madness of the military machine of destruction is a moment to treasure. I often find that my sentiments for peace are echoed more loudly among my many dear Jewish peace activists and friends than from my own Syrian people. I am doing my part to transform my people and I am sure you are doing the same as well.

You ask a valid question, who is representing the Palestinians? Who should Israel deal with to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians? These are all valid questions, but, while we are trying to dig for answers, let us simultaneously think of why and how did the Palestinians arrive to such desperate, leaderless conditions.

Without going into the historical details of whose fault is it, I am sure that you and I agree that there is enough blame to go around the table. I am also hoping that you will agree with me that peace with the existing leaderships on both sides is a mirage and at best wishful thinking. They both need to genuinely transform first.

Here is the core of my argument: peace usually occurs between two warring factions when one of two conditions occurs. The first one is when one side capitulates and the winner declares victory and peace at the same time. Usually the history of that conflict is also written and sealed by the winner. WWII allies declared peace with the fallen Germany and Japan immediately after they decisively won their battles against them.

The second condition occurs when the two warring parties achieve parity – be it logical or physical. Once parity is achieved and a rational realization of both parties that no one will win, peace usually follow the mutual recognition of the parties involved.

Under the second condition, this parity could produce a “tense” peace as we see today between India and Pakistan. But it is peace, nevertheless.

Another parity peace example is the case of France and Algeria. We all remember how France considered Algeria as an extension of French territories. The French went even as far as justifying their “ownership” of Algeria by finding moral and theological justifications.

But the Algerians resisted to utter bewilderment of the French. How could such poor, neglected, and culture-less Algerians deny the benefits of belonging to a super power? Who in the right mind would decline an offer to be a subject of France, the mother of culture, science, and democracy?

History tells us that the resistance of the Algerians seriously shocked the core of the French psyche. The French fought back – using every tool of modern cultural and military warfare. It was the persistent resistance of the Algerians that convinced the French with some logical parity. The rest is history.

My problem with the current Arab-Israeli conflict, with all due respect and appreciation to your thoughts, is the imbalance of power between the Arab and the Israelis. For Israelis, the question of peace is a matter of choice. Israel’s existence is not predicated on establishing peace. Israel, for one, can and will survive based solely on its superior military power.

But for its neighboring Arab the question of peace takes on a totally different track and it is not peace per se. It is the land that defines their national existence as Syrians or Palestinians, for example, and not their religion or their language.

If Sir Mark Sykes were to draw the Syrian borders to the south short of the Golan Heights, nobody would be arguing in Syria today about getting back that piece of land. The Golan Heights is therefore, part of the national identity of all Syrians – if they are to base their modern society on that identity.

I know that my argument might sound strange to many people, but if Israel would like to establish an ever lasting peace with the Syrians, they must help the Syrians in becoming more secure and mature by returning the entire Golan Heights. There is no sense in establishing peace with Syrians who have a sense of injustice and land loss.

I am sorry but running out of time now. But I would like to respond later to your post where you correctly argue your attachment to the land of your forefathers. Meanwhile, many thanks for your insightful comments. We belong to the same DNA – so, ultimately, we are bound to find out that our similarities are much greater than our differences.

More later….

February 3rd, 2008, 4:49 pm


Alex said:

CNN (Wolf Blitzer) just reported on Seymour Hersh’ upcoming article “A strike in the Dark” … trying to shed light on Israel’s “Act of war” against Syria. He interviewed Hersh who explained that he still does not know if there was nuclear weapons activity in that site … but he said that no one in Washington or Israel “knew” anything either … Israel knew that there are North Koreans working on that site and that was good enough for them to destroy it… it was good for internal politics, it was good to help reestablish some of the lost perception of Israel’s deterrence.

Hersh said that the site was most likely where the North Koreans were helping the Syrians assemble missiles… a top secret military site that syria would not be able to confirm its existence.

Which is exactly … what I told Mr. AIG at the time.

Hersh quoted one Bush Sr. administration official who was puzzled at how a serious, unprovoked, act of war (the Israeli attack) was ignored by everyone in the world. Israel’s approach of “we will not tell you why we bombed” makes it difficult for others to criticize the operation …. what if Israel shows us in the future proof that Syria was building a nuclear weapons facility there?

February 3rd, 2008, 5:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I love Hersh. First and foremost he shows how childish are assertions that the US press is one sided or biased. And come again? Blitzer on CNN interviewed him? There goes that whole conspiracy theory out the window.

Hersh was wrong in the past and is wrong about this one. If a missile site was attacked, all Syria had to do was take out the missiles and invite inspectors to show how stupid Israel is. But since it was a nuclear site, the Syrians razed it and did not agree to inspectors.

February 3rd, 2008, 5:26 pm


Alex said:


Are you trying to use Wolf as a tool to prove that “the Media” in general is neutral?? … Wolf is very reasonable. I never criticized him. I usually criticize Paula Zahn and the others at Fox and the rest of the media outlets owned by Murdoch.

Wolf did not find Seymour’s opinions offensive at all … you, of course are smarter than Wolf and the rest of us here. Whatever you conclude is the truth, don’t worry.

You can repeat you opinion a million times, but that will not change the fact that as Seymour said: this could have been a chemical weapons missiles site … so, Syria will definitely not invite anyone to see it, destroyed, cleaned out or not.

February 3rd, 2008, 5:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

That is interesting. So Hersh is not disputing that it was a WMD site. Only that it was nuclear. No wonder no one complained.
Does it really matter what kind of WMD is attacked?

I am confident that it was a nuclear site, but even if this was a chemical weapons site, nobody would say a word to defend Syria.

February 3rd, 2008, 6:13 pm


Alex said:

Yes of course it matters.

1) Syria signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons…. nuclear, not chemical.

2) Many countries in the Middle East have chemical weapons .. Egypt does … Syria most probably does (nothing official) … why didn’t Israel attack Egypt? attack Syria in the past few decades?

3) who the hell appointed Israel as the good policeman in the Middle East? … Israel has been THE outlaw state on planet earth for decades.

Going back to what I was trying to say in this post … and it is more or less what Ford Prefect added in his last comments: Israel is far from understanding the meaning of treating Syria as an equal… To many Israelis, they either have a military or religious or moral superiority… and the offer of “peace” to Syria is again some version of “look, we really can nuke you if we want, so take our offer and say thank you Israel”

Here is why Israel attacked Deir Ezzore .. because Israel knows it can get away with its aggression no matter what the case is:

* Resolution 106: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for Gaza raid”.

* Resolution 111: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for raid on Syria that killed fifty-six people”.

* Resolution 127: ” . . . ‘recommends’ Israel suspends it’s ‘no-man’s zone’ in Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 162: ” . . . ‘urges’ Israel to comply with UN

* Resolution 171: ” . . . determines flagrant violations’ by Israel in its attack on Syria”.

* Resolution 228: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for its attack on Samu in the West Bank, then under Jordanian control”.

* Resolution 237: ” . . . ‘urges’ Israel to allow return of new 1967 Palestinian refugees”.

* Resolution 248: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for its massive attack on Karameh in Jordan”.

* Resolution 250: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to refrain from holding military parade in Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 251: ” . . . ‘deeply deplores’ Israeli military parade in Jerusalem in defiance of Resolution 250″.

* Resolution 252: ” . . . ‘declares invalid’ Israel’s acts to unify Jerusalem as Jewish capital”.

* Resolution 256: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli raids on Jordan as ‘flagrant violation”.

* Resolution 259: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to accept UN mission to probe occupation”.

* Resolution 262: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for attack on Beirut airport”.

* Resolution 265: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for air attacks for Salt in Jordan”.

* Resolution 267: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for administrative acts to change the status of Jerusalem”.

*Resolution 270: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for air attacks on villages in southern Lebanon”.

* Resolution 271: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s failure to obey UN resolutions on Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 279: ” . . . ‘demands’ withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 280: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli’s attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 285: ” . . . ‘demands’ immediate Israeli withdrawal form Lebanon”.

* Resolution 298: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s changing of the status of Jerusalem”.

* Resolution 313: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel stop attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 316: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for repeated attacks on Lebanon”.

* Resolution 317: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to release Arabs abducted in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 332: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s repeated attacks against Lebanon”.

* Resolution 337: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty”.

* Resolution 347: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israeli attacks on Lebanon”.

* Resolution 425: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 427: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon.

* Resolution 444: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s lack of cooperation with UN peacekeeping forces”.

* Resolution 446: ” . . . ‘determines’ that Israeli settlements are a ‘serious obstruction’ to peace and calls on Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

* Resolution 450: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon”.

* Resolution 452: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territories”.

* Resolution 465: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s settlements and asks all member states not to assist Israel’s settlements program”.

* Resolution 467: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s military intervention in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 468: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to rescind illegal expulsions of two Palestinian mayors and a judge and to facilitate their return”.

* Resolution 469: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s failure to observe the council’s order not to deport Palestinians”.

* Resolution 471: ” . . . ‘expresses deep concern’ at Israel’s failure to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention”.

* Resolution 476: ” . . . ‘reiterates’ that Israel’s claim to Jerusalem are ‘null and void'”.

* Resolution 478: ” . . . ‘censures (Israel) in the strongest terms’ for its claim to Jerusalem in its ‘Basic Law'”.

* Resolution 484: ” . . . ‘declares it imperative’ that Israel re-admit two deported Palestinian mayors”.

* Resolution 487: ” . . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel for its attack on Iraq’s nuclear facility”.

* Resolution 497: ” . . . ‘decides’ that Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights is ‘null and void’ and demands that Israel rescinds its decision forthwith”.

* Resolution 498: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to withdraw from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 501: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel to stop attacks against Lebanon and withdraw its troops”.

* Resolution 509: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel withdraw its forces forthwith and unconditionally from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 515: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel lift its siege of Beirut and allow food supplies to be brought in”.

* Resolution 517: ” . . . ‘censures’ Israel for failing to obey UN resolutions and demands that Israel withdraw its forces from Lebanon”.

* Resolution 518: ” . . . ‘demands’ that Israel cooperate fully with UN forces in Lebanon”.

* Resolution 520: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel’s attack into West Beirut”.

* Resolution 573: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel ‘vigorously’ for bombing Tunisia in attack on PLO headquarters.

* Resolution 587: ” . . . ‘takes note’ of previous calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and urges all parties to withdraw”.

* Resolution 592: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ the killing of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University by Israeli troops”.

* Resolution 605: ” . . . ‘strongly deplores’ Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.

* Resolution 607: ” . . . ‘calls’ on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

* Resolution 608: ” . . . ‘deeply regrets’ that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians”.

* Resolution 636: ” . . . ‘deeply regrets’ Israeli deportation of Palestinian civilians.

* Resolution 641: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s continuing deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 672: ” . . . ‘condemns’ Israel for violence against Palestinians at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

* Resolution 673: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.

* Resolution 681: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s resumption of the deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 694: ” . . . ‘deplores’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians and calls on it to ensure their safe and immediate return.

* Resolution 726: ” . . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of Palestinians.

* Resolution 799: “. . . ‘strongly condemns’ Israel’s deportation of 413 Palestinians and calls for there immediate return.

February 3rd, 2008, 6:51 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

First, the Egypt-Gaza border is open.
Ha ha ho ho ho

I am confident that it was a nuclear site

Who says Israelis aren’t naive? Shining beacon of democracy Another good one!

February 3rd, 2008, 6:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

I have talked to Israelis before during my travels. The conversations were civil and respectful. I actually supported your democracy argument. I intentionally avoided details because they’re embarrassing.

Not me,

Thank you for your honest opinion. It is a shame that a people have to suffer so a family thug can stay in power for life. Slowly, I believe the Middle East will become free so that the Arab people can determine what is best for their themselves.

“Here Israel bombs another country, basically an act of war. … They don’t say anything publicly about it.”

Sy Hersh has always shilled against Israel and US, and it is obvious this “objective”, yellow-journalist has a clear agenda. No wonder the liberal New Yorker keeps him on their payroll.

But as everyone knows. Israel and Syria have been in a State of War since Israel’s “oringial sin” (became an independent nation).

It is always amazes me when journalists label Israeli actions as “acts of war”; I have yet to see this same term used when Arabs and their proxies indiscriminately lob hundreds of missiles into Israeli territory.

Alex asks:

… why didn’t Israel attack Egypt?

May have something to do with their peace treaty and the fact that they are no longer in a “State of War”.

.. because Israel knows it can get away with its aggression no matter what the case is

And Syria can get away with supporting terrorism. So what else is new?

February 3rd, 2008, 7:53 pm


Shai said:

Ford Prefect,

Thank you for expanding on the need for parity, and for understanding the Arabs’ special attachment and self-definition that entail the land. I completely understand this, and I hope future negotiators bring these issues up, because we must not assume that either side is educated enough, or has been open enough to hearing and learning these things about one another.

There’s no doubt in my mind that for Israel and Syria to have peace, we must return the entire Golan to its rightful owners, the Syrian people. The same goes for returning Gaza and the West Bank, with regards to the Palestinians. If there was a chance in the world where I could see returning other parts of Palestine to the Palestinians (Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, etc.), clearly that would make peace even more fair and complete. But unfortunately, and despite the fact that it really angers a lot of the readers here (and I can understand why), we in Israel must feel in the immediate future that we’re still a Jewish state. I have to clarify, that most Israelis don’t mind that there are large minorities (Muslim – 20%) within Israel, but the minute that number gets close to 50%, we’re starting to lose that definition which so many Jews in the Diaspora have dreamed about for so long – a land for the Jewish people.

At the cost of others, Jews were finally able to escape persecution, and build their own modern state. I can’t explain exactly how or why, but I can almost assure you that most Israelis still suffer from some type of Holocaust complex. They’re still afraid that tomorrow morning, somebody is going to knock on our door (or borders), and seek our annihilation. Sixty years have passed, but the fear is still very much in our consciousness. Forget our superior military capabilities (which, we’ve seen how “superior” they are against a small guerilla group last summer), forget our so-called nukes, forget all that. Israelis still feel unsafe in this region. It is something that is irrational, it is purely emotional. Although I cannot completely say it’s not based on some reality, given Iran’s continued belligerence towards us, including denials of the Holocaust, using language that can be understood to mean “annihilation”, etc.

I believe that Israel is able to make peace in one of three situations: First, when it feels extremely strong, like after 1967, or even 1973 when although it did get closest to “losing” than ever before, but in the end did manage to stop the Egypt and Syria. Second, when it feels extremely weak, like after the first Intifada and the early 1990’s. When we saw that those poor Palestinians were not going to sit idly and take our occupation, and were actually ready to die in the pursuit of their freedom and independence, even the hardliners here understood that peace should be considered. And third, when Israelis are faced with something that almost shocks them, and triggers a deep emotional response that for a moment breaks down all their innate walls of fear and suspicion. I’m talking of course of such events as Sadat’s arrival in Jerusalem. I’ve been suggesting the need for something like this to reoccur, with Assad, but Alex and a few others have tried to explain to me why it is very unlikely to take place. As rational as their arguments have been, and they are probably right, I can’t help feel that we’re missing the best opportunity for peace in the very near future. It is precisely because everyone doesn’t believe that this visit can take place, that it should! Assad would shock not only Israelis, but indeed the entire world, if he landed in Ben-Gurion Airport tomorrow afternoon, and came to speak to all of us. But I won’t go into all of that again… Alex pretty much convinced me that it’s a bit like churning water.

I’ll end this (for now) by saying that unfortunately, I cannot see how parity could be achieved in the near future, unless it is done via violent means, namely war. It is indeed sad that our people cannot “think on their own”, and are very unlikely to change their minds, unless something forces them to. I’ve said in the past that the absurd here in Israel is, that the only person or leader that can make peace with the Arabs is someone from the Right (Likud), like Begin, Sharon, or Netanyahu… If Farouq al-Sharaa sits with Bibi, and the latter promises the Golan, Syria knows it is hearing an offer backed by the majority of Israelis. If Barak and al-Sharaa sit together (like they have, twice), it is not that clear-cut, and Assad (the father) has a right to be suspicious of the offer. So it is precisely those who in order to get elected, speak against the Arabs and against peace, and then, once in power, have no problem shaking the hand of the terrorist Arafat (and even kissing him), or withdrawing from Gaza, or negotiating a peace treaty with Syria. And, maybe that’s what we’re waiting for. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d say anything positive about Netanyahu (and it still makes me quiver some), but perhaps he is the best option for peace in the near future… (God I hope Barak is reading this right now… Alon, can we arrange for that to happen?)

Let’s keep talking – I believe with the motivation and abilities of people like yourself, we could make the best effort possible to understand and learn from one another and, in’shalla, maybe even succeed. Thank you for investing so much in this! I do not take any of it for granted.

February 3rd, 2008, 7:56 pm


Shai said:


So… what are you trying to say? 🙂

At least you can never blame Israel for not being consistent… and determined…

February 3rd, 2008, 8:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria is a third world country that is run by a dictator. It produces very little of value or of global interest and its strengths is based on destabilizing its neighbors. Why should it be respected? Respect is something you earn.

Israel can get by with agression because nobody repects Syria including the Europeans and everybody finds it very easy to believe that Syria is up to no good (because that is usually the case). The international community had ample time to figure out what Syria really is especially following the interaction over Lebanon.

Why exactly by the way do you think the IDF is for and why was it created? It is a reaction to the Arab beligerence vis a vis Israel. And now you complain that the IDF is too strong?

After 9/11 the West does not approve of WMDs in dictator’s hands, especially those who support terrorist organizations. That is why nobody cared when Syria is attacked. You think supporting Hamas and Hizballah is not going to cost Syria?

And the list of UN resolutions is amusing. First you try to eliminate Israel by war and when that does not work you start supporting international law? What a joke. If the Arabs really cared about international law they would have accepted the 1947 partition resolution.

February 3rd, 2008, 8:21 pm


Shai said:


Here’s a joke for you:

“Two mafia gangsters sitting in prison for a long time, have been pardoned. They’ve been offered an opportunity to leave prison, and to start a new life. But, instead, both decide to sit at the prison cafeteria, and to recall which gangster had worse charges placed against him, which have led to his imprisonment. They argue, and argue, and argue, never reaching an agreement. Instead, they could simply get up, and leave their prison, and start talking about their future. It is up to them, no one else…”

Hmmm… can we think of who those two gangsters are similar to?

February 3rd, 2008, 8:31 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think the two gangsters are the Syrian people that have been imprisoned by the regime forever and the Lebanese people who have been imprisoned by the same Syrian regime.
Am I right?

February 3rd, 2008, 8:42 pm


Alex said:


As I said … it is this superiority complex that we Syrians have to deal with … your incredible moral and military superiority.

Anyone who dares to differ is worthless .. Seymour Hersh? … big liberal loser!

A thousand UN resolutions that Israel did not respect? … small detail… the thing we need to focus on is that the Arab did not weclome Israel with open arms in 1948 .. that explains all the UN resolutions Israel violated.

Opinion polls in Europe considering Israel to be a threat to world peace much more that Iran? … it must be anti semitism.

Few thousand fighters beating your mighty IDF who droped millions of bombs on Lebanon? … noooo problem, we have freedom of speech, we analyze our mistakes, learn form them, and come back at the Arabs much stronger than before.

Amnesty’s report blaming Israel for war crimes? … we’ll pretend we did not see it. Those at Amnesty will go back to criticizing only real criminals on earth … those in the Syrian regime.

February 3rd, 2008, 9:06 pm


offended said:

Off the topic, but quite interesting:

Have you met Jonathan Pollard?

” Jonathan Pollard is an American of Jewish descent, born in Galveston Texas, who established a career as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy.”

“Pollard delivered over 1000 classified documents to Israel for which he was well paid.”

“The most egregious damage done by Pollard was to steal classified documents relating to the US Nuclear Deterrent relative to the USSR and send them to Israel. According to sources in the US State Department, Israel then turned around and traded those stolen nuclear secrets to the USSR in exchange for increased emigration quotas from the USSR to Israel. ”

So this is basically how the free and democratic world works; Israel didn’t only spy on its trustworthy sponsor and long term ally, but she also betrayed the trust and the relationship in exchange for few more numbers of settlers.

Enough said…..

February 3rd, 2008, 9:09 pm


Alex said:

My friend Shai,

Your joke implies equality between the two Mafia gangsters : )

February 3rd, 2008, 9:11 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Probably you are alluding to the Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Syrians in your short tale of the two gangsters.

February 3rd, 2008, 9:26 pm


Shai said:


Again… you’re right – point well taken. I should have said “big gangster”, “little gangster”… 🙂

Seeking The Truth,

Yeah, it’s us I’m talking about. Isn’t it a shame? Look at what we’re doing now, just typing away so that one day all our people could do the same, communicate, engage, interact with each other, instead of suspect, fear, hate. What a waste of so many decades of our lives, huh? But, we must look to the future. We have no alternative.

February 3rd, 2008, 9:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As usual you get it wrong. You need to address Syria’s weakness not Israeli attitudes toward Syria. Syria is weak because of many reasons but it is not weak because Israelis think it is weak. It is the other way around. But as usual, you prefer denial. Instead of improving Syria you want to criticize Israel. No problem, it is your right.

Who said Hersh was useless? I like him. However he is wrong quite often.

Israel like any other country puts its own interests before any international resolution. Since when are the Arabs the champions of international law? Ah yes, since they could not achieve using violence what they wanted.

As for Lebanon. You go it right except the part that Israel was beaten. Israel made mistakes but will improve. Israel has done this consistently in the last 60 years. Can you say the same for the Arabs?

I resepect Amnesty international and think they do important work. What I do not respect are people that hold Israel to different standards than they hold themselves.

I didn’t ask you to respect Israel. I don’t care one iota if you do or you don’t or if any Arab does. But you wanted respect. But repect needs to be earned and so far Syria has not done anything that is worthy of respect.

February 3rd, 2008, 9:55 pm


Alex said:


Syria does not need your respect. Don’t feel any pressure. Continue to be as negative as you need to be.


On the question of Netanyahu … he does not really have a majority behind him …. in the latest opinion poll Likud gets 29 seats? to 21 for Labor…. nothing dramatic.

I’m afraid leadership will have to come from Washington.

February 3rd, 2008, 10:34 pm


Shai said:


I beg to differ… we’re talking about 29 seats compared to today’s 12! That’s not just anything, that’s dramatic. Most people, also on the Left, are disappointed with Olmert, and still remember Barak’s amazing “accomplishments” (not) during his term in office. As much as I hate to say it, Bibi actually has a chance here, and that is precisely why neither Barak nor Olmert are rushing to new elections anytime soon. Public opinion, however, might change that, or may force at least a change in persona at the PM level (my so-called Livni suggestion earlier…)

As for Netanyahu himself, I wouldn’t be surprised if he would, through his well-known arrogance, actually position himself as an “expert” on MidEast affairs vis-a-vis the next U.S. president, and would almost be looked up-to as a consequence. He’ll certainly have more say in Washington than Olmert did. And, best of all, he is exactly the character that wants more than anything in the world to be written down in the annals of our history as the man who “brought peace to the world”, or at least our region. He’ll change his skin a thousand times if necessary, just to make it next time, and succeed where he failed in his previous attempt. For crying out loud, the man even kissed Arafat! Not to worry, he’s not counting on profits from his “How The West Can Win” book anymore. That belonged to another era. He’s much more pragmatic than we’d sometimes like to admit. It almost seem like I’m campaigning for him, no? 🙂 Honestly, I don’t know who I’ll vote for next, a lot will depend on the situation in the region at the time. But if once upon a time just the name Bibi caused me nausea, today I have to consider the alternatives, and their influence on the majority of Israelis at the moment (those same Israelis I strongly disagree with). Bib might be the next Begin, or Sharon. Olmert certainly can’t, and Barak I’m not sure, but in any case he won’t have the support of the Right.

February 4th, 2008, 12:15 pm


jbello said:

Regarding the issue of “Should Syria Lead or Follow”, I think Syria is leading by maintaining it’s independence and standing it’s ground with regard to loyalties and terms of negotiation.
Israel is currently the aggressor, so Israel is the one that should come up with Confidence Building Measures, for instance, allow Egypt and Hamas to manage the Rafa Crossing.
The Peace Park looks nice on paper, but it doesn’t have any substance. It is just a way to have a focus of interaction. I am not sure it would be a neutral focus because of the water and citizenship issues. Israel tends to want ‘Neutral’ interactions in which it has total control of the all the outside parameters. That isn’t ‘Neutral’ and Syria has no reason to do it.
I agree that Hamas and Hezbollah would moderate if given the opportunity to serve their communities without constant militant opposition from the western powers.

Talk off ‘Flipping’ Syria seems to me like a pretty far out proposition. I would think the Syrian Regime and Bashar al Assad are smarter than that. Why should they trade their independence and growing local alliances for a ‘deal’ with countries who do not have a good track record of honoring their end of the bargain, and for a dance with the WTO and IMF who have ruined the economies of more than one third world country. It’s true that isolation and sanctions have caused them economic pain. However, it is probably better than opening up the goatpen and inviting the wolves in to feast.

February 4th, 2008, 5:37 pm


ghat Albird said:

As someone whose parents, grand and great grand parents have deep roots in several villages that dot the hills and valleys in that part of the world personal observations might be somewhat tinged.

Given the status of attitudes and precedents the realities are that there are only two ways of resolving the Syria/Israel contest. Either the Syrians undertake a dedicated and focused effort to dramatically improve their military capabilities and as soon as that is accomplished inform the Israelis to get out post haste. Or start military attacks intended to recapture the Golan Heights.

The second way will also require the improvements of its military capabilties while at the same time assisting other forces in the area to challenge Israel militarily. The two proposed solutions should be advertised as a starting point and appropriate datelines scheduled.

The best and most effective dialogue, diplomacy between two entities is direct and the one simple to understand and undertake.

Talking about the merits of a regime or this individual versus that individual
is a lazy persons pastime. Admittedly the act of pontificating from afar is a bit like being with Alice in Wonderland.

Still anytime two opponents can seriously attempt to resolve their problems peacefully the less dead and the less crippled men, women and children on both sides. The seriousness of such an approach can only be measured if its within a specific alloted time. If not then its just a meandering, meaningless game of one upmanship regardless of who is extending a dialogue.

February 5th, 2008, 3:42 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

ghat Albird,

But that is the whole point. Syria cannot do what you say because it is too weak. And it is too weak because it is not really one united country and because it is a dictatorship and because it is technologically backward. Therefore, all it can do is support terrorism and try to deny it. But in today’s world that is a losing strategy.

And there is also the small difference of motivation. I am happy and proud to serve in my country’s armed forces. You are not. I have yet to hear of one Syrian living in the US volunteering to go back and serve in Asad’s army. Jews living abroad volunteer to the IDF all the time.

The Syrians abroad are right of course. Why volunteer and serve in an army whose main purpose is to prop Asad’s regime?

February 5th, 2008, 4:11 pm


offended said:

AIG you can go screw yourself with all the technology of IDF, most of the Syrians abroad would gladly and proudly go back to defend their country in case it came under Israeli attack. The pomegranate groves that my 85 years old grandfather walk to on a daily basis have been cultivated by my ancestry for times older than I care to remember. I would rather die and trade all the pleasures of the world than to see it treaded by a dirty IDF boots.

February 5th, 2008, 5:00 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Talk is cheap. In order to be able to fight for your country in case it is attacked you need to train and be part of the army. Going only when it is attacked is a little too late.

So, prove me wrong, organize a group of Syrians and go volunteer to the Syrian army. Go train and be ready to fight. Until then, you are all just talk.

You would rather “die and trade all the pleasures of the world than to see it treaded by a dirty IDF boots”? Have you forgotten that these boots are treading all over the Golan for more than 30 years and that you are alive and well? You would rather spew hypebole on blogs and live in denial than make Syria stronger the only way it can become stronger (you know how).

February 5th, 2008, 5:28 pm


offended said:

Sure, for a puny mind like yours you’d forget the sacrifices the Syrians have made on 67, and the heroic fighting on 73. Despite the unbalance in arms and technology and despite the Israeli air dominance, Syrians fought and died for their country. I don’t need to prove any of that to a twat like you. ; )

I forgot to ask you by the way, as an experienced ex mercenary I thought you should know, how well do they pay you at the IDF?

February 5th, 2008, 6:29 pm


ghat Albird said:

All that one hears or reads from the Zionists/israelis is a constant droning about how Syria is divided and its a dictatorship. Now thats a real oxymoron. A divided dictatorship.

A not too subtle attempt at “dividing and ruling”. Since no one is buying it anymore the present regime and its policies must be working for the benefit of Syria.

In regards to volunteering there will be no more of that on Israel’s behalf by Americans and the popularity of holding dual or multiple passports is waning.
Time is not on Israel’s side anymore.

February 5th, 2008, 6:32 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You just said you would die to defend Syrian soil yet you are doing nothing about the Golan. First contradiction. Where you even born in 67 or 73? It is you who is doing the trash talking but not willing to do anything beyond talking. Second contradiction.
Of course you do not have to prove anything to me. The facts on the ground prove everything.

The first 3 years you get paid little in the IDF, after that the salaries are more competitive.

ghat Albird,
Your post is priceless. Instead of looking at the facts, you decide the regime is doing good based on people pointing out the weakness of the regime. You have reached the ultimate level of denial.

Why are you worrying about the American or Israel one? Why don’t you do something about the Syrian one. Even when you can do something, you prefer to talk trash instead of doing anything concrete.

February 5th, 2008, 6:40 pm


offended said:

AIG, the Golan is already occupied; we have an established army in place to do the job of getting it back for us (if that is possible). Other than that you’ve got the UN disengagement troops and the landmines. So there is no practical chance for me, or a better trained warrior to fight on the Golan front. There isn’t an opportunity. When the opportunity arises, you can bet your bottom greenback that there will be so many takers.

Now if Syria came under attack again, that is an entirely different story. We are not stupid; we know Israel has plenty of advanced technology and nuclear arsenal. In fact, several of those Israeli nuclear war heads were scrambled during the initial days of 73 wars, when Israel ‘existence’ came under threat. Even under all the above unbalances, Syrians fought through till the ‘istinzaf’ (attrition) war. We are not cowards. And we know history. (I wasn’t even born in 73, but I know the history for that matter)

But you know what I find funny AIG, I find myself abstaining from using so many aggressive words and expressions in this post, just because I don’t want to offend a nice Israeli guy who came here with a message of peace and garnered the respect of most Syrians on this blog. (I am referring to Shai by the way)

While you on the other hand, all you are able to do is incite hatred and disdain. You are just full of crap. If we talked about peace you’d remind us of war. When we talk about war you’d whine about us being terrorists. You are a spoiler in this blog and everybody knows it.

Alex, I was kicked out (literally!) from a an American conservatives discussion board after the third comment, how long are you willing to put up with this guy????????

February 5th, 2008, 7:05 pm


Shai said:


Being “offended” is a personal choice. Why are you allowing yourself to get offended? There’s really no need to respond to anything other than constructive criticism here, right? While in theory AIG might be right in the suggestion that peace could come quicker if Syria was much stronger militarily (i.e. more “equal” to Israel), and hence more of a threat to Israel, I believe that Syria has found creative ways of being plenty an “equal” adversary to us. Why are we discussing the return of the Golan, or peace? Is it because we’re suddenly good-natured human beings? No, it’s because we understand that the alternative is a future far less stable, perhaps far more violent, and one that none of us should choose to encounter. Same goes for the Palestinians, and the return of the W. Bank and Gaza. On that realm, I believe Syria is doing things quite well, allying itself with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as perhaps developing a nuclear program. If I were in your shoes, I would do at least that, if not more, in order to counter Israel’s military superiority.

Problem is… most Israelis aren’t capable of putting ourselves in your shoes. And that’s a shame, because if we could, we’d find the way to feel empathy, and then we’d have peace. But, hang in there, don’t give up yet!

February 5th, 2008, 7:09 pm


Alex said:


You are still trying to bother everyone you don’t agree with on every post… 24 hours a day. Congratulations .. you succeeded in turning this blog into mostly useless discussions about the same old topics (Nazis, Who is to blame in 1948, Syria is evil and Israel is a democracy …)

I will have to start limiting you to 5 comments per day

… that’s much more than the number of comments by the average contributor to this forum, it should be enough.

So try to use them when you have something relevant to you as an Israeli right wing extremist… Not to attack others while pretending you are a defender of Syrian and Lebanese rights and freedoms.

If we have a topic that is related directly to you … as in Syrian Israeli peace or an article on Israel’s strike on Syria .. then you can contribute as much as you want as long as you are discussing that topic and not picking fights with others.

Few weeks ago you and Simohurrta got engaged in endless discussions and I asked both of you to try to please slow down. Simo slowed down too much! (one comment per month?) … you are still flooding every single post with aggressive comments. What does that say about you? … remember that Simo did not bother anyone here ( …except you) .. whereas you offended and attacked the majority of people on this forum … in order to “gain you” we lost many others.

February 5th, 2008, 7:15 pm


Shai said:


Did you get the message I sent yesterday?

February 5th, 2008, 7:26 pm


ausamaa said:


Instead of making it FIVE comments per day for ANOTHERISRELIGUY why dont you open a subdirectory for AIG and AP so they can post all they want there, and where those interested in their and collect their endless pearls of wisdom. They have to sign a release and disclaimer that they will not sue you or syriacomment to seek a share of the profits should you one day find it worthwhile to publish their Complete Works.

Yeh, a subdirectory at the top of the page near under CARAGORIES would be great. Give it a thought!!

February 5th, 2008, 8:03 pm


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