More Firms Find Ways Around Sanctions on Syria and Iran

 US Sanctions against Syria sometimes backfire.

In the case of Gulfsands, the US executives of the oil firm were forced to resign and the company moved its headquarters from Houston to London in a bid to retain its business with Syria. Rather than dump Syria, the company dumped America and cut its exposure to Americans. Here is the story:

Gulfsands sacrifices top executives to continue development of Syrian oil find 
05 May 2008
The Syria Report

Gulfsands Petroleum has announced that two of its key executives, including Chief Executive John Dorrier, were resigning from the board and that it was relocating its principal office to London.
The other executive is David DeCort, the company’s Chief Financial Officer. The US-based independent oil and gas company provided no explanation for this move. However, the two decisions appear clearly motivated by the recent executive order by US President George Bush banning any dealings between US individuals and corporations with Rami Makhlouf, a shareholder in the company (Read US announces sanctions on Rami Makhlouf). Mr Dorrier and Mr DeCort hold American citizenship. Through his investment Fund, Al Mashrek Fund, M. Makhlouf owns 6.30 percent of the shares.
Gulfsands Petroleum announced significant discoveries in the Khurbet East field in Block 26 with reserves of 66 million barrels. First production in the field is targeted for the fourth quarter of this year.
The fifth Canadian oil company has just signed a contract to explore in Syria. Groundstar, SPC sign PSA on Blocks 14 and 16
[Comment by Landis] Not only are Canadian firms ready to swoop in to snack on the oil and gas business that US firms are no longer able to exploit, but Iraq, America's dependent, seems to be strong enough to defy US Treasury strictures in order to improve economic relations with Syria. Egyptian firms are doing the same thing. This does not bode well for US sanctions, which may end up harming American interests more than they do Syrian interests.

Syrian Oil Minister Sufian al-Alao said Monday Syria and Iraq have signed a deal under which Syria will buy 50 million cubic feet a day of gas from Iraq.

Alao said it would take 18 months to set up a 100-kilometer pipeline between Akkaz and Syria's Deir Ezzor gas plant. He said the Syrian and Iraqi governments had already bought the equipment necessary to to set up the pipeline inside their respective territories. He declined to reveal financial details of the agreement. There are three wells at Akkaz are already producing gas and another requires rehabilitation, he said.

[Comment by Landis] Last week we copied a long story on how India was bucking pressure from Washington in order to sign a 16 billion dollar gas deal with Iran. Indian authorities announced that they refused to treat Iran as if it were Zimbabwe. This week, Turkey is standing up to Washington's pressure in order to negotiate a gas deal with Iran. It seems that the desire for energy will undercut US efforts to use trade as its major weapon against Iran and Syria.

Iran, Turkey to discuss gas projects
Monday, May 5, 2008
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

A Turkish delegation is expected to visit Iranian capital Tehran to discuss natural gas projects, Tehran Times quoted the Iranian deputy oil minister as saying Saturday.

“An Iranian expert group visited Turkey at the beginning of this year and Turkish officials requested more details on offshore and onshore features of phases 22-24 of the South Pars gas field… we hope to clear things up here in Tehran,” Hossein Noqrehkar Shirazi told the Moj news agency.

Delegations from Turkey and Iran met in Ankara last month to solidify the memorandum of understanding signed last year to develop Iran's three phases in the South Pars gas field.

Energy Minister Hilmi Güler signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's former Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh on July 13, 2007 allowing the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) to produce 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas in phases 22, 23 and 24 of Iran's South Pars gas field. The plans also include an agreement to use Iran as a transit country for Turkmenistan's natural gas.

Iran will pay cash or natural gas in exchange for TPAO's production in the three fields. The annual gas flow expected is 20 billion cubic meters, which amounts to two-thirds of Turkey's gas needs. Gas will be transferred to Turkey through a pipeline to be built by state owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAŞ) and Iran's concerned companies.

Some of this gas will be used in Turkey, while the rest will be delivered to Europe, officials said. Turkey acquires around 65 percent of its natural gas from Russia and is looking for ways to divert its sources. Iran, the second-largest gas supplier to Turkey, had difficulties sustaining its natural gas flow to Turkey during previous winters, due to extraordinary cold weather and supply cuts by Turkmenistan. Although the agreement with Iran irked the United States, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended the deal.

“We import oil and natural gas. We want to reduce the amount we pay for imports,” Erdoğan said. “Iran would let Turkey develop three gas wells without a tender process as part of the deal, which will also allow gas to be piped from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe,” he said, adding that it was a really attractive offer.

At a cost of 600 million dollars, Egyptian investors will build the largest cement factory in the Middle East, in Syria.        

.. أعلن محمد صادق الوزير المفوض في السفارة المصرية والمسؤول عن العلاقات التجارية بين سورية ومصر أن مجموعة أوراسكوم المصرية ستدخل السوق السورية قريبا لتقيم أكبر مصنع لانتاج الاسمنت بالشرق الاوسط في سورية بقيمة استثمارية تصل الى 600 مليون دولار. وقال صادق خلال مشاركته في المؤتمر الصحفي لمعرض بيلدكس ان هناك شركة مصرية كبيرة ستقيم أيضا مصنعا للاسمدة في سورية بقيمة 60 مليون دولار لافتاً الى المساهمة المصرية الفاعلة في مشروع تعديل العدادات الكهربائية وتحديثها بواسطة شركة السويدي التي أدخلت أنظمة متطورة جدا ستؤدي الى تحول جذري في موضوع ترشيد استهلاك الطاقة الكهربائية والسيطرة عليها. واشار الى أن حجم التبادل التجاري بين سورية ومصر وصل الى مليار دولار وأن الاستثمارات السورية في مصر تتجاوز مليار جنيه مصري كما أنه من المتوقع أن تصل الاستثمارات المصرية في سورية هذا العام الى نحو مليار دولار مبينا أن مصر تشارك في المعرض عبر جناح وطني يضم عدداً كبيراً من الشركات المتخصصة بالبناء ومواده ومستلزماته اذ لمست هذه الشركات التميز والاحترافية في التنظيم اضافة الى الجدوى التي تحصل عليها تلك الشركات في السوق السورية ولاسيما بعد التحسن الملحوظ الذي وفرته الحكومة السورية للمستثمرين

الطاقة الكهربائية والسيطرة عليها. واشار الى أن حجم التبادل التجاري بين سورية ومصر وصل الى مليار دولار وأن الاستثمارات السورية في مصر تتجاوز مليار جنيه مصري كما أنه من المتوقع أن تصل الاستثمارات المصرية في سورية هذا العام الى نحو مليار دولار مبينا أن مصر تشارك في المعرض عبر جناح وطني يضم عدداً كبيراً من الشركات المتخصصة بالبناء ومواده ومستلزماته اذ لمست هذه الشركات التميز والاحترافية في التنظيم اضافة الى الجدوى التي تحصل عليها تلك الشركات في السوق السورية ولاسيما بعد التحسن الملحوظ الذي وفرته الحكومة السورية للمستثمرين

By Nadim Issa, May 5 (Bloomberg) — Syria's Minister of Communication and Technology Imad Al Sabouni said U.S. political and economic pressure on Syria has played a major role in thwarting Syria's attempt to get international bidders to install high-speed broadband Internet lines in the country, Syriasteps reported.

The ministry plans to expand the Internet network to provide services for 400,000 people by 2011 to meet rising demand, the newspaper reported, citing Al Sabouni.

Comments (190)

Alex said:

At this point, it is useful to take another look at Neocon think tanker David Schenker’s recommendations few months ago (Sep 2007) and how much of it was adopted by the administration:

losing traction against Syria

As information begins to emerge about the extent of North Korean-Syrian ties, Washington will have another opportunity to focus the international community on the continuing dangers posed by the Asad regime. The UN’s Hariri tribunal will add to the pressure on the regime, but that alone will not suffice. To stem Syria’s reacceptance into the international community, Washington needs to convince its European and Arab — particularly Gulf — allies to freeze their engagement with Damascus. It should also exclude Syria from the Arab-Israeli peace conference scheduled to take place this November.

With Israeli-Syrian tensions rising and the pro-Western Lebanese government on a precipice, renewed political and economic pressure on Damascus is vital. In the absence of effective measures, the Asad regime will continue to undermine Washington’s hopes for the region.


If we let things to progress naturally, we will lose and Syria will get stronger and stronger … therefore, we MUST deceive, invent stories, put more pressure, make the Syrian people suffer, threaten, and act like the bully that we are, in order to try to stop the Syrians from undermining our quest for total domination in the Middle East.

May 6th, 2008, 3:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It seems that the sanctions work only in high tech areas. Probably because high tech companies cannot cut their connections to the US like the small oil companies who may have been founded just to exploit opportunities in Syria.

The sanctions will be very effective if the US can block banks from working in Syria. That remains to be seen. So far the sanctions only hamper modernization in Syria but do not inflict much pain on the regime.

On another note a target of just 400,000 broadband users in 2011 in a country as large as Syria is really very very small.

May 6th, 2008, 4:02 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I agree with you that unless the US targets banks working in Syria, the regime will not feel much pressure from the sanctions. The less an economy is connected to the world the less sanctions are effective on it.

May 6th, 2008, 4:04 pm


Alex said:


In Syria, those 400,000 users translate into:

5 per family x 400,000 = 2 million users.

THEN … with wireless routers which can transmit to about 4 apartments, neighbors who were used to 56k access are happy to share the cost of one 1 mega bit connection among the four of them … so that gives you many more users …

It’s a start.

May 6th, 2008, 4:08 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


If Syria is anything like Lebanon, people don’t use wireless routers to transmit to 4 apartments.

They split a single connection between an entire apartment building!

What’s the cyber cafe situation in Damascus? Beirut is swamped with them.

May 6th, 2008, 4:17 pm


Alex said:


Because of US sanctions, we don’t get those fancy 3COM and d-Link routers… Our cheap north Korean wireless routers can not reach the whole apartment building.

May 6th, 2008, 4:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You raise a good point, but the minister says “people” and not “homes” so he may have already been doing your math.

For many reasons, but mostly because it requires no infrastructure, the best wideband internet solution for Syria would be provided by Gilat:

May 6th, 2008, 4:52 pm


offended said:

It was high time for the new traffic fines set of regulations (discussed in an earlier post) … but the question remains; how do you enforce these rules without weeding the corrupted elements in the traffic police?

And then how do you guarantee the right of the damaged driver if insurance companies can find 100 elusive ways to avoid their liabilities?

And further more, how could you encourage drivers abide by the rules if there are (in most cases) no lanes painted on the street and the planning is poor?

Right now the situation is so that when there is an accident, it’s your word against the other guy’s. there is a very reliable system here in the UAE and I hope they can adopt it slowly and with ease…

May 6th, 2008, 5:02 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

For many reasons, but mostly because it requires no infrastructure, the best wideband internet solution for Syria would be provided by Gilat:


Maybe after peace with Israel.

May 6th, 2008, 5:08 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Peace is not the problem, the US sanctions are.

May 6th, 2008, 5:23 pm


SimoHurtta said:

AIG do you really believe that Europeans, Chinese, Russian and Indians take those “funny” US sanctions seriously? Even you Israelis do not take them seriously by buying Iranian oil or Iranian nuts. US sanctions damage besides dollar’s role as the dominant reserve currency only those US companies which can’t circulate their own country’s sanctions. Other nations certainly will not allow USA to dominate the worlds banking system. It is also not in US Mafia’s and elite’s interests. Then they could not any more hide their money to offshore banks. 🙂

If USA can’t “democratize” Iran and Syria in the near future it will mean that Iran without doubt allies sooner or later with Russia in gas and oil business. And Chinese and Indians will buy gladly everything lifted out of the ground. Then it is to late for USA/Israel.

Iran Presses Ahead With Proposed Natural Gas Cartel

Syria besides its on oil and gas resources is a natural hub for petrochemical industry and oil lines. Especially for Europe.

AIG it is not a war for democracy, it is a war for dominance and natural resources. If Iran would have no oil and gas USA would not give a damn what kind of ayatollahs lead the country and how they do it. But because Iran is the crown jewel in the resource domination war USA demands that the Iranian ayatollahs must obey Grand Ayatollah George Bush and his followers.

May 6th, 2008, 5:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is the low-down on Ali Al-Bayanouni?
To me he sounds very reasonable:

It seems to support my view that Israel should not be worried about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Syria.

May 6th, 2008, 5:53 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

May 6th, 2008, 6:06 pm


abraham said:

Well, now we know who AIG works for, shamelessly plugging his company.

Anyway, Simo, I agree, the misguided anti-Iran sanctions only hurt US companies. Especially now, when our dollar is approaching the Mexican Peso in value and our exports would be cheap, we are needlessly and stupidly cutting off access to markets.

The US doesn’t have a monopoly on anything (except maybe hypocrisy, which it shares with Israel), so Iran can simply go to other countries, namely China and India, and trade its gas and oil for routers and wireless hubs.

May 6th, 2008, 6:15 pm


Observer said:

I am not capable because of time constraints to go back and copy all of my previous comments on this site. This is one more example of the end of an era as I have argued before. Now, many are quoting Zakaria in his new book and in the article that he published in Newsweek about the diminished role of the US in the world. I know that my readings and my estimation of the situation since 03, predicted that the US would have less leverage around the globe:
Here are some examples
1. Argentina blazed the trail of refusing to comply with the IMF recommendations and moved out of recession. This led many countries to pay off their IMF debt and to establish a system of inter state lending that is not dominated by this all too Western Institution.
2. The Doha rounds have shown that the will of the EU to change its farm subsidy policy is nill. The rest of the world then effectively told the EU that new trade agreements will not be the norm
3. The latest information from the Douglas Feith book have shown that the US was bent on regime change by direct or indirect means in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan. The fact that till today it seems that it cannot get its act together in Iraq has shown the limits of military power of the sole superpower.
4. Richard Hass the president of the Council on Foreign Relations has written about the emergence of the non polar world where the US has lost its unipolar status and where others have not emerged strong enough to have their own spheres of influence yet. He thinks that this is a dangerous situation indeed, but then again, the whole policy of the US has been anchored on perceived threatts to keep the Military Industrial Complex humming along
5. The Nuclear Weapons States, in the face of the loss of the conventional arm options with the debacle in Iraq, are more and more brandishing the nuclear weapons option. Jean Bricmont has argued that what is called ” a limited nuclear war” is now a real possibility as countries such as France and Britain and certainly the US find it very difficult to see the emergence of counrtrie breaking from the realm of third world to second and some even to first world without their being under the control of the US EU alliance.
6. The Europeans, finally are coming to realize that a defeat of the US spells doom for them as they will lose the conventional arms umbrella that the US is providing them and they will be left to fend for themselves against emerging China and assertive Russia. Their energy independence is lost forever, and their demographic time bomb (implosion) will change the composition of the electrolate to the favor of a cooperative policy with the rest of the world.
7. Even Michael Hayden has spoken in Kansas about this new reality and as I have argued before, the next president of the US has two main tasks ahead of him
7.1 To inspire and energise the young generation to work hard at correcting the mistakes and follies intended and unintended of the past two generations
7.2 Prepare the US population for the inevitable reduction of their standard of living.
8. I can tell you that the standard of living of people in my town, is going down. People are now watching their spending more than ever and many a two income families would hit poverty levels here if one spouse loses his/her job.
Therefore, to go back on the news item above, it is clear that the US is having less and less ability to control the sanctions regime of any country around the world. No one is taking this administration very seriously even though I think it is more dangerous than ever and is still working diligently on confrontation with Iran. I also think that if the November elections result in an Obama presidency and in significant retreat of the Republican party, many around the world will strive to forge a new cooperative relationship with the US. This is where the next President will have a new opportunity to start reversing the last 8 years. It is truly a golden opportunity for he will find many a country eager and willing to cooperate as many of them do not want further distability.
I will also say that the Likudniks in this world, have immediately understood the situation and have worked diligently to intice the toppling of the regime in Iraq and also in other areas of the ME. What came out of the bottle was not the compliant genie that they thought would come out but an ever more revived and outward looking Iranian Islamic agenda in all of the countries surrounding Israel. These same Likudniks are also playing with fire by brandishing the muslim communities in both the US and Europe as false moderates and as a fifth column who will do by peaceful means what the violent ones would do through terrorism. In such a way they are creating a wedge between these commmunities and their respective civil societies and they will have many embrace a more militant form of social activism on the one hand while others will divorce themselves from the societies in which they live and still a third group may try in integrate. Increasingly however, this kind of absolutist rethoric is finding less and less of an audience; and therefore, I see this as one reason why the Olmert regime is sending feelers to Syria about peace, for it is looking for some breathing space as it charms Abbas, prepares its war with HA, and plots the next blackmail operation on the next congress.

May 6th, 2008, 6:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Look up “shale oil” and “tar sands”. The US+Canada will not run out of energy in the form of oil in the next 300 years. It is just a matter of exploiting these resources which have an environmental cost. 8 years ago oil as less than $20 per barrel and people were not interested in anything except the cheapest options. Now, almost all oil deposits are valuable. The US will never want for oil.

May 6th, 2008, 6:17 pm


abraham said:

In the comments of the last post, some people were wondering if all the recent bluster coming out of the US really means war is coming to Iran. Here’s a round-up of news articles from various sources that summarize the answer as “who knows”. So, nothing definitive, but it does give nice rounded coverage of different viewpoints in the US.

Iran rejects nuclear inspections unless Israel allows them

An Iranian envoy said Monday his government will not submit to extensive nuclear inspections while Israel stays outside the global treaty to curb the spread of atomic weapons.

“The existing double standard shall not be tolerated anymore by non-nuclear-weapon states,” Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a meeting of the 190 countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Good! Hopefully the UN listens. This is a chance for Ban Ki Moon to show his independence, but I doubt he’ll take the opportunity since he seems to be in the back pocket of the US.

Washington Cool on New Israel-Syria Talks

Speaking at the annual American Jewish Committee conference April 29, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted that “if Syria and Israel wish to pursue peace, the United States is never against peace.”

“It’s just that, at this point,” she said, “it’s been difficult to see Syrian behavior that has the prospect of being more stabilizing in the region, rather than the destabilizing behavior that we’re seeing.”

In an interview with IPS, former Israeli peace negotiator Daniel Levy described the Bush administration’s position on Israeli-Syrian talks as “a semi-polite way of saying, ‘if you want to be schmucks, go ahead and do it.'”

The last paragraph says it all. The Bush regime is filled with mindless little toddlers who throw a tantrum when they don’t get their way or when someone else does something they don’t like.

Pat Buchanan thinks the bluster towards Iran emanating from the US is either real or just intended to push Iran into negotiations.

Is It Jaw-Jaw or War-War?

Pat’s conclusions are that either there will be a war, or the U.S. is trying to push Iran into negotiations (or at least negotiations on their terms since Iran has been asking for negotiations since 9/11), or this is all just bluster and the US will skulk away humiliated. Pat thinks that latter is not likely, and that if Iran rebuffs the US then war is a probability.

More journalists are calling out neocon and warmonger Michael Gordon. I’m glad I’m not the only one paying attention. The indispensable Glenn Greenwald takes his turn.

Who needs Dana Perino when you have the NYT’s Michael Gordon?

Like clockwork, the administration’s most stalwart surge supporter/journalist — the New York Times’ Michael Gordon — has a lengthy article today bolstering the administration’s war-justifying accusations against Iran. It claims in the lead sentence that “militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran,” and that “the training, the Americans say, is carried out at several camps near Tehran that are overseen by the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Command, and the instruction is carried out by militants from Hezbollah, which has long been supported by the Quds Force.”

As usual with Gordon’s articles, nothing is done here other than uncritically repeating Bush administration claims under the cover of anonymity. Virtually every paragraph in this article is nothing more a mindless recitation of uncorroborated assertions which he copies from Bush officials and then weaves into a news narrative, with the phrase “American officials say” tacked on at the end or the phrase “according to officials” unobtrusively interspersed in the middle…

…his omission is particularly glaring in light of this McClatchy article from yesterday reporting that “the Iraqi Government seemed to distance itself from U.S. accusations towards Iran,” which echoes an Agence-France-Press report that “Iraq said on Sunday it has no evidence that Iran was supplying militias engaged in fierce street fighting with security forces in Baghdad.” There’s not a word about any of that in Gordon’s article (though it does note that the Iraqi government “announced Sunday that it would conduct its own inquiry into accusations of Iranian intervention in Iraq and document any interference”).

Yet here are the NYT and Gordon, yet again, employing exactly these same tactics to disseminate administration accusations against its current Enemy. As Calame put it back in February of 2007 while criticizing Gordon’s reporting on Administration claims of Iranian involvement in Iraq:

COVERAGE of the American saber-rattling about Iranian intervention in Iraq posed an important test for The New York Times, given the paper’s discredited pre-war articles about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. And it has triggered a rash of complaints from readers who believed The Times was again serving as a megaphone for the White House. . . .

The situation closely parallels the pre-war period when The Times prominently reported that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Deeply shamed when they were not found, the paper publicly acknowledged that its coverage had been “insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.”

The NY Times prints shameless apologies after the fact, but then goes on doing the same thing. And this is the “newspaper of record”? Hardly. I hereby declare the NY Times to be a useless tabloid rag. I will add that their coverage of Palestinians is atrocious and shows a definite zionist bent.

And the equally indispensable Arthur Silber has his say about Iran’s nuclear work.

Those Clever, Dastardly Iranians! Bamboozling Us with Facts … and Even (gasp!) Photographs!

And for comic relief, Avigdor Lieberman, as usual, is trying his best to instigate continued hatred of the Palestinians. Here, he is accusing MK Ahmed Tibi of being a “fifth column” within Israel.

‘Arab MKs represent terror groups’

Replying to Lieberman, Tibi replied: “I said in Doha that the Bank of Israel has 900 employees and that there is not a single Arab among them. What isn’t true in that? I said that Lieberman is a fascist and an immigrant. What isn’t accurate?” he continued. “He is a fascist immigrant who has come to a land that isn’t his. He instigates to incitement and murder.”

My reaction: Lieberman is a German name. Lieberman is Germanic, not Semitic.

Meanwhile, America continues its decline by introducing its children to recreational drugs at an ever younger age.

More U.S. Kids On Anti-Psychotic Drugs: Study Says U.S. Kids Outpace U.K. Kids In Drugs’ Usage

And not only the decline, but a regression:

Florida Teacher Accused Of Wizardry

Pretty soon we’ll be buring people at the stake again.

May 6th, 2008, 6:28 pm


kingcrane jr said:

I believe that Iran and Hezbollah communications skills are far better than the skills of, say, 2006 losers.
Iranian / Hezbollah broadband sounds good, and it may be immune to cyber-spying by big brother and its agents.

May 6th, 2008, 6:30 pm


abraham said:

Observer, that’s a nice roundup. I pretty much concur with everything you say. It’ll be interesting to see all the accusations fly when Americans finally comes to realize that we are, in fact, in decline, and our once vaunted status as the end of the rainbow will move somewhere else. People will start demanding answers from our brain-dead politicians, and they won’t have an answer, so they’ll start blaming the “other” and our society will become destablized. We’ll be left with a bunch of poor people and a handful of ultra-rich, and history tells us what happens in societies where such an imbalance exists…

May 6th, 2008, 6:35 pm


abraham said:

Alex, I just posted a comment with an obscene number of links that most likely got trapped in the spam filter. Can you please find it and rescue it from that particular pit of hell?

May 6th, 2008, 6:37 pm


Alex said:


It is there now (few comments above this one)

May 6th, 2008, 6:43 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Look up “shale oil” and “tar sands”. The US+Canada will not run out of energy in the form of oil in the next 300 years.

AIG I am an engineer by education and I know how long it is taking in use a new technology and how enormously expensive it is. It doesn’t happen over night and it is so easy as believed. Massive investments are needed. Already Nazis used to make gasoline out of coal. Why don’t Germans do it now. They still have coal. 🙂

You should have read to the end the Wikipedia story of tar sands:
“Large amounts of energy are needed to extract and upgrade the bitumen to synthetic crude. At this point in time, most of this is produced by burning natural gas which is widely available in the tar sands area. Approximately 1.0 to 1.25 gigajoules of natural gas are needed per barrel of bitumen extracted. Since a barrel of oil equivalent is about 6.117 gigajoules, this produces about 5 or 6 times as much energy as is consumed.”

By the way Canada doesn’t run out of oil. USA does. The tar sands are mostly in Canada.

In Estonia they have stop the use of oil shale for electricity production because of the heavy pollution the power stations created.

May 6th, 2008, 6:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

When more people want to immigrate to China, India, Iran etc. than to the West, the West will be in decline. It is still no contest. That is the only true measure. All the rest is wishful thinking.

When all the people living in the West complaining about the West actually leave the West, that will be the beginning of the decline. Any of the posters above plan on leaving?

May 6th, 2008, 6:51 pm


abraham said:

Here’s a rather instructive article regarding the new J Street lobby, a self-described “pro-Israel/pro-peace” lobby that wants to become the alternative to AIPAC.

I’ve always said that there is no good zionist or bad zionist. They are all zionists. Their one goal is to realize Yretz Israel, nothing else. Israeli leaders that are promoted as advocates of peace, including Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, etc., all speak with the same zionist voice. They want peace with the Palestinians as long as its on Israeli terms and the Palestinians have no say in the matter and accept whatever scraps Israel is prepared to throw to them, if any at all.

Do We Really Need Another Pro-Israel Lobby?

May 6th, 2008, 6:56 pm


abraham said:


When more people want to immigrate to China, India, Iran etc. than to the West, the West will be in decline. It is still no contest. That is the only true measure. All the rest is wishful thinking.

I think I now see your problem, AIG. If you don’t see what’s happening right in front of you then you don’t believe it is happening. These things happen on generational timescales. Let some time pass and then come back and tell us this is “wishful thinking”. Also, I don’t know why you’d think I’d be wishing for my own lifestyle and living standards to decline. I voice these warnings loud and clear in the hopes that my fellow Americans will see the writing on the wall and change course before it’s too late. Unfortunately, most of my fellow Americans are too absorbed in their own arrogance to countenance such an outcome, so I don’t think this is something we can avoid. Like you, they don’t see it happening before their very eyes, so they dismiss it. They’ll believe it when they see it, when it’s too late to change course.

When all the people living in the West complaining about the West actually leave the West, that will be the beginning of the decline. Any of the posters above plan on leaving?

I’m biding my time, waiting for the right moment. Right now is not the right moment.

May 6th, 2008, 7:05 pm


abraham said:

Alex, thanks.

May 6th, 2008, 7:05 pm


SimoHurtta said:

AIG do you remember how China looked 10 – 15 years ago and how it looks now? Imagine what it will look after 10 years, if there is still a world capable of living.

The “west” made a huge mistake by transporting most of production know-how and much of the production capacity to China and India. Now they (Chinese, Indians, Arabs and Russians) are buying what is left. 🙂

You IGs are impatient people. Your wars take six days and you believe that also in economy the events happen in “six days”. AIG if you cant see the changing tides you do not know anything about economics. If Arabs are buying huge bits of US and European big banks, Indians and Russians the mining and steal companies and the Chinese bustle around the world there is definitely something “different” happening. They are buying us, not we them.

During end of Bush’s terms US has been economically in a real historical downward spiral. I fear it will soon be there like in the beginning of 30’s. And when Americans have to cut costs will Israel be on the top of “aid” list? I doubt that.

May 6th, 2008, 7:13 pm


Seeking the Truth said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said here: …Clinton whose husband had enough of Asad the elder.

it seems Bill Clinton had a different opinion.
In his book “My Life, 2004”, he gave an account of Shepherdstown peace talks in Jan. 2000 (pp. 883-887). In particular he says,
…Barak decided, apparently on the basis of polling data, that he needed to slow-walk the process…
And regarding Hafez, on p. 909 he says, …and I had believed him when he said he had made a strategic choice for peace.

May 6th, 2008, 7:14 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Samuelson said that in the long term we are all dead. Who cares what will happen in 200 years? The situation now is that 50 to 80% of the Chinese and Indian population are extremely poor by any standard. 50% of Iranians between 16 and 24 are unemployed. Inflation in Iran is at least 70%. The Russians are dying out and the life expectancy there is very low. You are not talking about generational changes, you are talking about centuries.

All these forecasts also never take technology into account? What happens if a good alternative to oil is found in the next 30 years? The chances for that are not bad as technology advances exponentially. In the end what matters is the ability of countries to innovate and that is directly realted to democratic institutions.

May 6th, 2008, 7:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What are the full quotes in context? What did Clinton eventually say about why the talks didn’t succeed? I don’t have the book.

May 6th, 2008, 7:28 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You’ve been missed. Everytime you reappear, the picture is remarkably enlarged, and I am reminded that we’ve been living in a day3a since you were last here.

Stick around why doncha?


May 6th, 2008, 7:37 pm


SOL said:


“I’ve always said that there is no good zionist or bad zionist. They are all zionists. Their one goal is to realize Yretz Israel, nothing else”

What a sophisticated and complex read on the Israeli political spectrum. So Meretz, an Israeli political party, whose website states as one of it’s basic platforms;

“Peace is the instrument through which we can live a normal life. An Israeli-Palestinian peace must be without victors and vanquished, serving the national interests of both parties. Comprehensive peace cannot be attained without agreements with Syria and with Lebanon.” and “We will struggle against discrimination on national grounds and for coexistence and equal rights between Jews and Arabs through ‘affirmative action’.” is the same as Yisrael Beitenu’s, another Israeli political party, who states on it’s website;

“The land for peace principle is wrong and misleading. Israel needs to explain that the demand for an independent Palestinian state and the refugees’ right of return is a cover for radical Islam’s attempt to destroy the State of Israel.”

Meretz, Yisrael Beitenu all the same to you no difference. I guess no one would ever accuse ABRAHAM of seeing things black and white.

May 6th, 2008, 8:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The peace talks ultimately failed in the Clinto-Asad summitt in Geneva in the spring of 2000. What does Clinton say on this summitt?

May 6th, 2008, 8:28 pm


abraham said:

Sol, when Meretz is more than a minority party that is only courted when Likud or Labor need a few more seats to have a majority then maybe you’ll have a point, if you in fact have one at all (I’m not sure what you are trying to say with your comment).

In the meantime, we have on the face of it a nation that has demonstrated during its entire 60 year existence that it wants the land but not the Arabs on it.

Give up on zionism and you will have your peace.

May 6th, 2008, 9:15 pm


abraham said:

AIG, once again you have proven that you are adept at taking the short view and proposing a lot of “what-if” scenarios that is all just speculative masturbation.

The prevailing winds tell the story. Put out your weather vain and maybe you’ll be able to read it.

May 6th, 2008, 9:17 pm


abraham said:

Clinton and his camp have proven that they are unreliable opportunistic liars, so what he says really doesn’t matter.

The zionist Dennis Ross made several easily refutable statements in his memoirs about the peace talks between Arafat and Barak. Norman Finkelstein does a fine job debunking Ross so that I don’t have to:

Clinton tried to do ten years ago what Bush is trying to do today: leave office with a positive legacy. In Bush’s case, however, the obviousness of his ploy, which is basically demanding that Israel and Palestine make a deal before he leaves office so he can have some sort of positive “legacy”, is even more pathetic than Clinton’s. At least Clinton, for all his flaws and hypocrisy and typical politician’s stupidity, left the country in good order whereas Bush is leaving the country in a shambles.

But in both cases, they waited until the last year of office to forge a peace agreement, and in both cases they could give a damn about the rights of the Palestinians. How disappointed they become when the Palestinians demand to actually have a negotiation and not just roll over and give Israel everything it wants and skulk away. How insolent of these Palestinians! Don’t they know the American President has a legacy to leave?

This also serves to demonstrate the general contempt in which Westerners hold Arabs. This contempt is obviously discernable in the zionists as well, who are Western implants. This is why there will never be any peace. It’s all a sham. The zionists, who are Westerners and have not an iota of Semite in them, harbor the same arrogant and racist contempt for the Arabs.

May 6th, 2008, 9:38 pm


abraham said:

Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses:

May 6th, 2008, 9:42 pm


why-discuss said:

Olmert Tied to New York Developer in Scandal
NY times

Israel is certainly the country where there is the highest number of sex and corruption scandals at high political level in the world. Ariel Sharon is in coma, his son in jail for corruption. Olmert may soon join him and Condie and Bush will visit him there to reassure him that We Are Finally Winning!

May 6th, 2008, 9:48 pm


SOL said:


“Israel is certainly the country where there is the highest number of sex and corruption scandals at high political level in the world.”

Yes Israel is a corrupt and sex starved country. And I’m sure in the open societies that surround Israel we don’t hear about sex and corruption scandals because those countries are much more moral and ethical and not because there is no freedom of press or criticizing the governments is dangerous.

May 6th, 2008, 10:06 pm


offended said:

what do you think of the move by Al Hariri to pull the plugs on Hizbollah’s phone network? I think this thing is going to get hairy but not sure what could be the underling implications…

May 6th, 2008, 10:20 pm


Alex said:

Abraham, WD

I will side more with Sol today … Even Nasrallah expressed many times his respect of Israel’s openness in putting its politicians on trial when they make mistakes. Saddam’s two sons and other Arab leaders had numerous affairs and short-term affairs with other women, but we did not read about any of that except in some obscure opposition papers.

And even though “all Zionists are Zionists” … Shai and AIG are both Zionists … surely there is some difference in their attitudes.

Having said that, Sol … please understand that this unfairness towards Israel is to be expected when most of those in “the media” are very friendly to Israel and Arabs who read and listen and watch what Murdoch likes to promote, have had it with the lies and stupidities and exaggerations … For every time you heard “all Zionists are the same” … we heard a thousand times “Israel is only defending itself against the terrorists”.

That’s partly why I keep saying AIPAC is stupid .. they think by milking it … by trying to maximize support for Israel in the media (and in Washington in general) they are doing a good thing for Israel. Maybe they did for a while .. but now they already passed that optimal-returns point … now they are generating hatred and total rejection to the state of Israel.

May 6th, 2008, 10:29 pm


SOL said:


“please understand that this unfairness towards Israel is to be expected when most of those in “the media” are very friendly to Israel”

Just because you perceive media bias or an all encompassing power that Aipac wields does not make it factual. As you are aware there are many pro-Israel watchdog groups who believe the exact opposite. They believe that their is a media bias in favor of the Arab narrative or believe that the oil/military industrial complex wields influence in the government supporting the Arab perspective. It is very convenient to explain away every inane comment by stating that the zionists run the media and Aipac controls the American government and not looking at the issues critiqually and honestly. After awhile it begins to sound a little like a book published more the 100 years ago by a Russian in Paris you asked me not to mention by name.

May 6th, 2008, 10:57 pm


abraham said:

Alex, I have a fundamental problem with zionism and zionists.

I’m sure some of them are the nicest people in the world. A lot of them are probably very nice to Palestinians.

About a week ago there was a nice report on NPR (public radio in the US) about a rabbi in Israel who spent a lot of his time helping the Palestinians in occupied Palestine. He would help them get permits that Israel required of them, he would fend off aggressive settlers, he would get legal help for them, helping to save a Palestinian man’s house from being demolished, etc. In other words, a “good Jew”, a good human.

But in the interview he professed he was a zionist, and he believed the Jews had a right to live in the land they call Israel, presumably because they were Jewish. He didn’t say it arrogantly. He said it as a person who really believes it, but who totally disregards the consequences of this totally destructive belief.

And I couldn’t help but see this guy in a different light. Regardless of his good deeds, he ultimately is the cause of the problems he is trying to remedy. By insisting that he has a right to live in Israel, he is creating the cause that ultimately results in the Palestinian not being able to farm their own land, or build a house, or have their house threatened with demolition, etc. If he really wanted to help, and he was really sincere, he would be much more helpful if he would simply go back to America (he was American born).

So I don’t care how nice and peaceful and loving and caring and pro-Palestinian a zionist is. In the end, he is still a zionist.

The ideology of zionism is caustic. It is unsustainable like communism under the USSR ultimately proved to be. Peace and zionism are mutually exclusive by the very definition, the very essence of zionism. Israel will not have peace and acceptance until they refute entirely the concept of zionism.

May 6th, 2008, 10:57 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You just lack historical prespective.
During the cold war the Arabs pointed to how much better the USSR was better than the US. Then it was the Japanese. Now the story is China and India. All the time the US is declining by growing stronger.
What you say is nothing new, we have been hearing it in different forms for decades. The inherent strength of the US comes from its institutions and its history of liberal democracy and the country that eventually overtakes the US will have to replicate those.

May 6th, 2008, 11:01 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


AIG asked me the same question on the old post. This is what I said:


I think the government is making a mistake.

They’re going back to the kind of politics that got us into this mess, namely trying to find the other side’s weak spot and exploiting it. In this case, the weak spot is its Christian support. The government is trying to capitalize on the defection of Murr to draw even more Christian supporters away from the Change & Reform Bloc by scare-mongering about Hizbullah’s phone network “which extends even into Jbeil and Kesrouan.”

This is pure, cynical politics, which is nothing new. But we’ve seen that it hasn’t worked, so they should have figured it out by now.


What is your take?

May 6th, 2008, 11:04 pm


abraham said:


Boohoo. Watch any cable news program and I defy you to find one anti-Israel or even pro-Arab voice. US media on the whole is DECIDEDLY pro-Israel.

The one real pro-Arab advocate on TV used to be Phil Donahue (a one time popular TV talk show host, in fact the originator of the genre), but when he came out against the war in Iraq he was summarily fired (from MSNBC).

I realize we all perceive bias through our own biased prisms, but really, would you expect to ever see any pro-Arab or anti-Israel story on Fox News? There was one, the story about the five dancing Israelis on 9/11:

This was probably the only actual example of Fox News being “fair and balanced”. But, interestingly enough, Fox News scrubbed that 4-part (four part!) report and any references to it from their website. It only exists now on YouTube and conspiracy sites that are wondering why Fox did this report and then tried to bury it.

More information about this story is available here at this horribly organized website:

By the way, if you watch the report you catch about 2/3’s of the way into the part 1 (the link above) a denial from the Israeli embassy saying “Israel does not spy on the US”, an obvious lie in light of the recent apprehension of Ben-Ami Kadish.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, their lead anchor, is a former employee of AIPAC for Moshe’s sake!

So yes, there is bias, but it’s not in favor of the Arabs, that much is for certain.

May 6th, 2008, 11:16 pm


abraham said:

Whatever AIG. You write but it is meaningless.

May 6th, 2008, 11:18 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Abraham said:

Peace and zionism are mutually exclusive by the very definition…


Peace and zionism are only mutually exclusive in your very narrow mind.

Zionism is a form of nationalism which exists within every nation on Earth.

As I mentioned to Sim before (because he’s in denial too), Israel has already made peace with some of her neighbors.

May 6th, 2008, 11:23 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You clearly are not a fan of Zionists or Israel. However, this blog is about “Syrian politics, history and religion” as it is clearly portrayed on top of this page.

Do we need to be subjected to countless comments about Israel and Zionism here? I see that you have your own blog dedicated to this passion of yours. It seems to me that those of us who are more interested in Syrian affairs ought to be spared this topic that has been beaten to death by you and others.

May 6th, 2008, 11:25 pm


abraham said:

Ehsani2, excuse me, but I was responding to a comment made in my direction. I’m sorry if this is what it has to come to in order to debunk another commentor’s unending stream of nonsense.

We could have discussions about Syria if we didn’t have so many zionists coming here to defend Israel. Why don’t you go complain to them?

May 6th, 2008, 11:33 pm


SOL said:

“It seems to me that those of us who are more interested in Syrian affairs ought to be spared this topic that has been beaten to death by you and others.”

Thank you. Some of us would actually like to get a better understanding of Syrian society and politics.

May 6th, 2008, 11:33 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

I agree, Ehsani.

Abraham, by my count, we’ve got two or three Zionists on this blog, compared with at least twenty or thirty regular non-Zionists. We should be able to discuss something other than Zionism, don’t you think? 🙂

The thing is, most of us have come to a kind of modus vivendi with AIG. He gets banned from time to time when he is out of line, but otherwise he is part of the furniture on Syria Comment. At times he is debated, at other times he is ignored, but people have figured out how to relate to him, and what NOT to do, namely to get sucked into endless dead-end arguments.

When it comes to “streams of nonsense”, less is definitely more, don’t you think? 🙂

May 6th, 2008, 11:48 pm


Nour said:


I don’t think it’s fair to pit the blame on Abraham for the perceived change in topic. Dicussions naturally take various paths and end up addressing issues that they may not have initially undertaken. This is natural. And in this respect, the topic originated with the issue of “peace” between “Israel” and Syria. Abraham was merely giving his opinion about the likelihood and prospects for such a “peace” and the discussion evolved into what it is now. It is not a crime. If you wish to focus on Syrian economic matters, then by all means do so, but policing the blog and demanding that people remain strictly within the topic parameters you feel need to be set is not entirely fair.

May 7th, 2008, 12:23 am


Enlightened said:

QN said:

When it comes to “streams of nonsense”, less is definitely more, don’t you think? :)When it comes to “streams of nonsense”, less is definitely more, don’t you think? 🙂

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I found a clip of Enlightened:

May 6th, 2008, 6:06 pm

After being asked yesterday, if I killed my sisters for having pre marital sex, or circumzizng my daughters, or helping my brothers kill my sisters or beating my wife etc etc etc .

I logged in to find a new post, of this rather dapper lunatic portraying me. Well according to AIG’s rules two can play at this game.

This is who AIG works for please check it out:

May 7th, 2008, 12:27 am


abraham said:

Ehsani2, as Nour said, I don’t think it’s fair either. I started off discussing zionism within the context of peace with Arabs, and I noted my belief that as long as Israelis cling to zionism there can be no peace. I was then asked to clarify my words regarding zionism, which apparently touched off a storm of controversy from the resident zionists here.

I mention zionism a lot because it happens to be the root problem of practically everything in the Middle East, in fact the very reason we are assembled here on this blog trading snipes at each other.

So instead of taking it out on me, I would suggest instead you ask the zionists to address my criticism of their ideology rather than blaming me for refusing to ignore it or sweep it under the rug as others may want.

May 7th, 2008, 12:37 am


Enlightened said:

US Sanctions against Syria sometimes backfire.

Lets look at this topic, if we recall the United Nations sanctions against South Africa took a very very very long time to take some effect. More recent sanctions against Libya and Iraq were implemented with just as much resolve, yet we find instances where the sanctions were circumvented quite easily.

The firms in Question obviously see potential to invest in Syria, no sanction rules are easy to adopt or enforce, and if there is a will there is always a way to circumvent them. The obvious return (s) from investing into a largely untapped economy are obviously good enough for this firm to take the risk.

It will be interesting to see what further investments are made from the Gulf countries and Iran within Syria in the next few years, with a Dearth of Petro Dollars, my hunch is The Arab oil money will be invested more in Arab countries in the next Ten years.

So much for the sanctions, they are only as good as the will of those to enforce them, and there is no will to do so effectively, they are a form of slow Chinese water torture.

May 7th, 2008, 12:40 am


abraham said:


Thanks for the link to that video. It was quite entertaining. It reminds me of the Al Qaeda training videos except the guys at Camp Kahane Meir don’t look nearly as dangerous. I think in a bar fight, Al Qaeda would definitely win.

May 7th, 2008, 12:44 am


why-discuss said:

SOL, Alex

I am surprised you compare Israel to the censored and corrupted arab neighbours where we dont know much about these things.
I was referring to Israel compared to other clean democratic countries…
The sex and political scandals and their frequency is higher in Israel than any other ‘democratic’ country, yes or no? Why?

May 7th, 2008, 12:47 am


Enlightened said:


I think the Al Qaeda types would be too religiously fundamentalist to be in a Bar (lol) but I can see the funny side of it.

Maybe a strip joint, then they go home to beat up their wives, circumsize their daughters etc etc. Fun night out dont you think?

May 7th, 2008, 12:51 am


Enlightened said:


” Are the gloves off” ??? Sheqeir is a Hezbollah man, reports are that Berri relayed a threat from Nasrallah to Seniora about removing Sheqeir from his post, and dismantling the telephone network.

Demonstrations are planned for tonight (syd time)

Cabinet Okays 67% pay raise and fires Airport security chief
Published: Tuesday, 6 May, 2008 @ 2:51 PM in Beirut (GMT+2)

Beirut – The Lebanese government approved a 67 % minimum wage hike after a marathon meeting on Tuesday and also decided to remove airport security chief Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shqeir over his alleged links to Hezbollah.

The minimum wage was increased from 300000 LL ( $200) to 500,000 LL( $333)

The cabinet also labeled “illegal and unconstitutional” a private communications network set up by Hezbollah on Lebanese territory.

A statement read by Information Minister Ghazi Aridi at the end of the meeting around 4:30 am said the cabinet also agreed to cancel customs on main imported food staples.

The daily An Nahar said Finance Minister Jihad Azour warned that he would resign when the government suggested to raise the minimum wage by over LL 500,000, arguing that this would hurt the treasury.

On the Hezbollah telephone network issue, Aridi said the government decided to refer the dossier, which shows Iran’s involvement in the case, to the Arab League and international community.

The government also dismissed claims by Hezbollah which said the network was essential for the group’s security.

Aridi said the government authorized security forces to pursue the “abnormal” issue and arrest all those involved in setting up the network, labeled a “violation of Lebanese laws.”

Regarding Shqeir, An Nahar quoted ministerial sources as saying he would rejoin the army command.

The sources said official sides received “direct threats” from forces within the Hezbollah -led opposition warning them against messing with the Hezbollah network or with Shqeir’s post.

Democratic Gathering leader MP Walid Jumblatt has demanded the “sacking” of Shqeir, accusing him of allowing Hezbollah to place cameras in the airport area to “monitor the arrival of Lebanese or foreign leaders, to kidnap or assassinate (people) on the airport road.”

May 7th, 2008, 1:01 am


EHSANI2 said:


I was not picking on you in particular.

May 7th, 2008, 1:42 am


Observer said:

I agree with Ehsani about avoiding the sterile debate with the Zionists. Invariably the contributions made turn around the Zionist entity, its superiority, its infinite strength, its intelligent and hard working people, etc… etc…
There is no monopoly on intelligence and social organization by any culture, some go through stages where the idea of the common good takes precedence over narrow selfish interests. Clearly the early Zionist movement was driven by such a culture and like all things in life it is welting away. Likewise, other cultures go through decay and some revive as we have seen in the current change in China that started really in the early 20th century and is not dissimilar to the profound changes that occurred in Japan after Commodore Perry obtained the opening of the country to trade and commerce. some even choose a dead end as the Soviet experiment showed, that does not diminish any people in their intrinsic human value. The slave women who had their babies tossed overboard into the sea on their way to the New World would jump into the sea at night committing suicide and in their despair are not inferior despite their fate than any other human being, just as the memory of the Holocaust has seared the minds of all those who suffered. Interestingly enough, the politics of Nazi Germany towards the Slavic people in the East was not different than the Holocaust and yet, the 27 million civilians that Russia and Ukraine suffered in the second world war are not remembered in the same verve as other victims for as Orwell said: All pigs are created equal but some pigs are more equal than others”. There is no point in the discussion for the rest are not “chosen”; the first and ultimate form of racism.

May 7th, 2008, 2:01 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Very nicely said.

May 7th, 2008, 2:15 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am having a hard time believing you actually endorsed what Observer said. Did you read it carefully?

May 7th, 2008, 2:26 am


Alex said:

SOL said:


Just because you perceive media bias or an all encompassing power that Aipac wields does not make it factual.

…After awhile it begins to sound a little like a book published more the 100 years ago by a Russian in Paris you asked me not to mention by name.


That was very disappointing… really, seriously disappointing.

What I was trying to say, was that AIPAC has considerable influence … too much influence … I did not say “an all encompassing power”

Which brings me to another word in your comment: “perceive” followed at the end by a hint that if I dare “perceive” things that way, then … I deserve the hint that I am … an Antisemite AND/OR a conspiracy theory addict.

If you want to discuss that stupid perception of mine, that AIPAC and other friends of Israel have considerable influence over American media and over politicians in Washington then let us go for it Sol.

Start with this program (at 14:00 for example).

Please watch it and come back and tell us what is your “perception”

And if this is not enough … let me quote Aron David Miller:

“Miller writes that many ethnic groups, such as the Irish and the Cubans, are deeply involved in American foreign relations; however, no group in America can compete with the clout of the Jewish community with its influence on centers of power.

This former senior Jewish official is the first to accuse the U.S. administrations of the last 15 years, both Democratic and Republican, of a bias in the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

And in that same article …”A senior administration official told me,” relates Miller, “he heard Powell say, ‘They’re fucking telling me which way to take a piss and for how long.'” (p. 345)

May 7th, 2008, 2:36 am


Alex said:

Enlightened, AIG and others.

Let us leave religion out of it if you don’t mind.

May 7th, 2008, 2:50 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am trying to understand your position regarding AIPAC. Let’s assume you are right and they exert considerable influence more then any other ethnic lobby. I know you don’t think they are illegal. What do you want to see happen:
1) Do you want laws to stop AIPAC?
2) Do you want AIPAC to stop voluntarily even though they firmly believe in what they do? You can of course think they are stupid, but if they believe they are doing the right thing, and it is within the law, why should they stop?
3) Some other option?

What bothers me with your position is that you endorse hating AIPAC because they are successful. The attitude should be in my opinion, “I am going to beat them at their own game!” instead of “I am going to resent them”.

May 7th, 2008, 2:51 am


Enlightened said:

Alex haram eh hlak!

Now everyone is going to think that I am religious when I am not! AIG did you read it?

May 7th, 2008, 2:55 am


Majhool said:

I agree with Ehsani2

May 7th, 2008, 3:19 am


Alex said:

My friend Enlightened,

I hope you now understand how much work you had to do to explain your statement that I deleted. Was it worth it?


I don’t hate them … and I don’t want anyone to stop them. And I don’t want them to voluntarily “stop”

I want them to moderate their efforts … cut it down to the absolute minimum necessary and stick to lobbying for policies agreed upon by the majority of American Jews that they supposedly represent.

We know for example that contrary to charges by many Arabs, American Jews were mostly against the war in Iraq … AIPAC acted like a dictator in this case … heavily lobbying FOR that war and in the process giving the impression that American Jews in general lobbied for that war that led to a million+ dead Iraqis.,7340,L-3402778,00.html

I don’t want to be as “successful” as AIPAC… they are successful in destroying chances for peace and in pushing for more wars … they are really not qualified to be the strongest lobby in America. .. their success is only beneficial to their group.

And then there is …

May 7th, 2008, 4:41 am


Alex said:

Sorry HP, I know you were trying to mediate, but if I leave your comment there then AIG will respond to it, then Enlightened will respond to him…

May 7th, 2008, 4:49 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

There is really no difference between “stop” and “moderate their efforts”. You want to tell them what to do. That is not how the system works. AIPAC represents some of the Jews in the US and the pro-Israel christians. By being successful as them I meant that you should setup a lobby to counter them, to lobby in the other direction exactly of what they are lobbying. AIPAC did very little lobbying for the Iraq war because both Democrats and Republicans supported it. There was nothing to lobby for, there was a two party consensus. is a completely legal organization. If you don’t like it, start a counter organization against it. This is how democracy works.

May 7th, 2008, 4:50 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

[deleted by admin]

AIG … after a hundred comments over the past three days, I think it is time we switch to other topics.

For example, our current AIPAC topic does not need more than ten comments and then we will change it too. It gets boring if we spend days repeating the same thing again and gain.

May 7th, 2008, 4:53 am


Alex said:


I am NOT interested in telling them what to do … I simply answered your question .. you gave me a multiple choice question and I picked one of the choices. If I didn’t answer you, you would have asked “why don’t you want to answer my question?” might be legal, and AIPAC might be legal … but they are not designed to learn lessons from history … the only lessons they learn are about tactics. There is no vision… there are muscles, but there is no brain… and that is not good.

May 7th, 2008, 5:01 am


SOL said:

Alex said;

“Which brings me to another word in your comment: “perceive” followed at the end by a hint that if I dare “perceive” things that way, then … I deserve the hint that I am … an Antisemite AND/OR a conspiracy theory addict.”

No I don’t believe that you are an Antisemite AND/OR a conspiracy theory addict. NOT AT ALL. But when you make a statement like

“AIPAC acted like a dictator in this case … heavily lobbying FOR that war and in the process giving the impression that American Jews in general lobbied for that war that led to a million+ dead Iraqis.”

It makes me wonder what are you basing that statement on? Please show we one piece of documented evidence that an Aipac official or of an Aipac press release or anything directly connected to Aipac that shows that it lobbied for the war in Iraq. Throwing out a statement like that is like the US government stating;

“US security experts believe that Syria is developing a secret nuclear facility.”

And let’s assume that Aipac/zionists have considerable influence over the American media and over politicians in Washington. If you are pro-Israel that’s must give you a great sense of satisfaction, and if you oppose Israeli policies that must be extremely frustrating, but unless Aipac is engaged in some kind of illegal activity then work within the current rules to change that fact. Your perspective is analogous if we were to have a discussion on the out of control cost of Health Care in the United States and I was to substitute aipac with the AMA in some of your posts (there are 13 health care lobbyists for each of the 535 members of Congress);

“If you want to discuss that stupid perception of mine, that AMA and other friends of the AMA have considerable influence over American media and over politicians in Washington then let us go for it Sol.”

And while the AMA does have considerable influence and is very successful in lobbying Congress to promote their policies every discussion on our Health Care system can’t be;

Having said that, Sol … please understand that this unfairness towards Health Care system is to be expected when most of those in “the media” are very friendly to doctors and the pharmaceutical industry who read and listen and watch what the AMA likes to promote, have had it with the lies and stupidities and exaggerations … For every time you heard “the system is unjust because of the AMA” … we heard a thousand times “the AMA will be relentless in the battle to protect their income”

So either we discuss the merits and facts of the issue or we make excuses for peoples prejudices and frustrations towards the Health Care System and say “please understand that this unfairness towards doctors is to be expected when most of those in “the media” are very friendly to the doctors.”

May 7th, 2008, 5:02 am


Honest Patriot said:

AIG, for sure this is not the first you have heard of people complaining about the much more effective remembrance of the Holocaust as it affected the Jewish people — targeted by the devil Hitler — than the similar fate suffered by other groups under the rule of the same devil Hitler. You may not have heard of Armenians also complaining about not getting similar attention either for the genocide of their people under the hands of the Turkish regime at the beginning of the 20th century. Nothing new. I’m surprised that you seem either surprised and/or indignant and rushing to accuse Observer and especially Enlightened of antisemitism. Particularly Enlightened. Chill. The last folks to be antisemitic are the folks you encounter on this blog (except maybe for Bondo, but then Bondo, to me, is someone who must have been subjected to extreme suffering – if not physical then at least emotional).

I do think you’re being hypersensitive. I also think you have a good excuse and it’s understandable but I trust you are someone who values greatly the power of logic in debates. Quoting from George Orwell about fictional pigs who lead a communist revolution only to morph into the capitalistic “pigs” that they wanted to unseat is not — if you ponder it — an accusation against the Jewish people. The message gets confused further when the word “chosen” is used. What you are reading is reflective of empathy with the suffering of the Palestinian people, suffering that often goes unrecognized, and to them, feels as if the world considers them an inferior people whose lives are not of sufficient value to be worthy of attention. Before you jump with your argument that suicide bombers are the ones who devalue human life, recognize that most folks here know that but that this argument doesn’t change the fact about the suffering of the innocent Palestinians. What you are reading are cries of pain about not finding the way to have that pain acknowledged. And there’s the jealousy of how the Jewish people have so effectively rallied to, in the words of Norm Finklestein “Never to forget, Never to forgive.” So you get what Observer wrote. Now that you’ve pointed out the sensitivity it raises I think you made your point. Hopefully you also see that antisemitism is not intrinsic to the Arab people. What may transpire as antisemitism is, in all cases in the Middle East, a reaction to very deep suffering. Acknowledging such suffering, its depth, and its tragedy, will go a long way to mitigating and eventually eliminating hate.

May 7th, 2008, 5:05 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

They are successful, and achieve their goals, so why are they stupid? You do not agree with their goals, but that is another thing. People have different opinion on things and different goals. You think they do not learn from history, but I am sure they do. That is why they get better all the time in achieving their goals (which are not your goals). You need to setup a lobby that will work to achieve your goals and counter AIPAC, that is the democratic solution.

May 7th, 2008, 5:08 am


Enlightened said:


Ya habib!

There was nothing wrong with my comment! You know that it was used by the local SC idiot to spin and turn the statement in a Goebbels type of way.

Why did you not delete his comment about me and the memri clip, and his garbage towards me and Abraham yesterday, these were in very poor taste.

That is why I responded with the Kach video today ( if you look closely AIG is the one being interviewed with the very big glasses)

This agitators role that this AIG ( I believe he is more than one) is playing is getting us no where, today I posted some news coming out of Lebanon that is a topic that needs discussion, and is being left alone.

I like Shai ( we have disagreed on some somethings but always very courteous with each other), AP we agree on some things and disagree on others, Sol I haven’t interacted with yet.

So it is not my problem, that this lunatic can be destroying this blog with his incessant anti semitic, anti Jewish, Arabs need to be more democratic, Isreal is better than any Arab country (especially Syria) because it is democratic ( and this is one basis of his hidden bigotry that he feels his own kind are better than us) but projects it on us.

Over to you Alex you are the moderator, I need to remind you that you stated that he is only allowed % comments per day, he is clearly violating this!

May 7th, 2008, 5:12 am


Alex said:

SOL said:

“And let’s assume that Aipac/zionists have considerable influence over the American media and over politicians in Washington. If you are pro-Israel that’s must give you a great sense of satisfaction, and if you oppose Israeli policies that must be extremely frustrating”

This is not right at all .. if I was “pro Israel” American Jew today I would be very upset at many of AIPAC’s positions! … you seem to use some expressions liberally … like “pro Israel” and like “Israeli policies” .. what are “Israeli policies” SOL? … is the full return of the Golan Heights an Israeli policy? … apparently it is the policy of Prime minister Olmert … but do you know what AIPAC’s position is? … they are against the policy of the prime minsiter … so who do they represent??

Now to the proof you requested. Before we get to it, can we discuss the previous “proof” regarding AIPAC’s often excessive influence on both the American media and on politicians?

And .. is the Media being influenced (very often, not always) by all the “pro Israel” groups that you read about in that video clip and that ADM wrote about?

President Clinton was “Pro Israel” … Miller is “pro Israel”.

But AIPAC is not pro Israel … until they learn how to look a bit beyond their “successful” tactics and realize that moderation, not maximum power, is what Israel needs.

May 7th, 2008, 5:20 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I have of course heard people complain that their suffering did not get enough attention but rarely have I seen people blaming it on the Jews. Complaining and jealousy are fine, but why go the extra step of inciting against the Jews by claiming that they are more equal than others? Or that they are responsible for the pain of others not being acknowledged? Orwell’s accusation or analogy was aimed at the Soviet Communist party, but Observer’s was not.

I understand what you are trying to say but you are walking the fine line between understanding the causes of antisemitism and condoning it. You can understand why it happens, but why condone it?

By the way, I don’t know from where Finkelstein invented the “Never forgive, never forget”. This is nothing that Jews accept. Most of us have forgiven the German people.

May 7th, 2008, 5:21 am


Alex said:

Enlightened and AIG and Abraham,

I can’t spot all the offensive comments. If you want me to delete a comment in which you were attacked, please email me the comment’s link (click on the date below that comment and then copy the address from the address bar on top), and if it should be deleted, I will delete it.

HP, and AIG,

In 15 minutes I will delete everything you are writing here. It gives you enough time to discuss it. I don’t think everyone else reading this post needs 10 more comments about the same topic.

May 7th, 2008, 5:28 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Don’t you think that Israelis should decide what Israel needs? All Israeli governments were supportive of AIPAC. With all due respect, just as you are sure that I don’t know what is best for Syria, you do not know what is best for Israel.

May 7th, 2008, 5:31 am


Shual said:

*You may not have heard of Armenians also complaining about not getting similar attention either for the genocide of their people under the hands of the Turkish regime at the beginning of the 20th century.*

I would not write “complain”, I would write “demand the similar” attention. And in Germany there is definitly a connection to the work and results on the topic Shoa to other cases. Since the mid-90ties a lot of groups started to demand attention [Homosexuals, Deserters, Sinti] and even your Armenians took the stage in the Bundestag and achieved a resolution about the role of Germany in the genocide and the genocide itself. […] It seems to be very simple: The world needs a lot of time to be prepared to talk about everything that happened in the last century and rigth after it [compared to the wave of humanstic talk after events like the earthquake of Lisboa in 1755] nobody really want to talk about the essentials.

And we should not forget things like that the Yom HaShoa here in Germany is the day to remember ALL victims of the NS-regime. It may be that the Shoa with its death camps is the most visible thing the Nazis did, and to use the name Shoa is absolutly correct, cause even in the death camps the Nazis used to differ between jews and other groups. There is still a great difference between identified as polical enemy, or subhuman slave and to be identified as jew = Internal enemy.

… and to honour slavic people as much as the jews is quite impossible. If you please take a quick look at the revenge of them.

May 7th, 2008, 5:40 am


Enlightened said:

Here are some examples Alex:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I prefer to build countries and then let other losers complain about it.

By the way did you kill your sister because she had pre-marital sex? Do you regularly beat your wife? Did you circumcise your daughters?

Same questions to you Enlightened. Just curious.

May 6th, 2008, 1:09 am

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So you beat your wife irregularly? You just beat your sister for having pre-marital sex but didn’t murder her? Did you help your brothers circumsize their daughters?

Look, two can play this game. What you and Abraham are doing is in bad taste. I was having a nice discusstion with Nour, Majhool and others and Abraham butted in. Read above, Abraham started with the personal attacks and you are encouraging him.

Whatever tone you set I will follow.

Just to let you know Alex because I am sure you missed them!

May 7th, 2008, 5:41 am


Alex said:

AIG said:


I will stop advising AIPAC how to reform itself, and in return you will stop advising us how and when to reform Syria.

Notice that I have criticized AIPAC about 20 to 50 times so far … you tried to energize us Syrians here about democracy more like 500 times.

But I will forget my right for the next 450 anti-AIPAC comments.

May 7th, 2008, 5:46 am


Alex said:


I did not see these comments. I will remove them but can you please tell me their link? .. like I did in my comment above for AIG’s message link.

May 7th, 2008, 5:48 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Not so fast. My question was:
Don’t you think that Israelis should decide what Israel needs?
What is your answer?

You should ask me back:
Don’t you think that Syrians should decide what Syria needs?
And I will answer, of course, and that is why you need democracy in Syria, it is exactly the mechanism that will allow Syrians to decide for themselves.

May 7th, 2008, 5:49 am


Enlightened said:

Alex Dont worry about it now you know that the bastard started it all!
It was one thing I needed you to know and make clear, because he felt he got away with it!

May 7th, 2008, 5:52 am


Shual said:

*Don’t you think that Israelis should decide what Israel needs?*

Yes. From January to March the Jews and then from April to June the Arabs……

May 7th, 2008, 5:52 am


Alex said:

AIG said :

“Don’t you think that Israelis should decide what Israel needs?”

Well let me ask you another question then:

Since we are discussing what role AIPAC should play … does that mean that Israleis, and not American Jews should steer AIPAC?

Isn’t AIPAC a patriotic American organization?

May 7th, 2008, 5:52 am


Zenobia said:

If you can’t boycott Israel, you could just try boycotting AIG.

can you guys really live with him in your face but not take a bite? I am not sure…..
I think you complain, but you can’t resist. : )

(ps, boycotting Israel was not my suggestion nor am i in favor of it, but this was the ‘hot topic’ that went on and on a few weeks ago…so i was just mentioning it as an opener.)

May 7th, 2008, 5:58 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Of course it is, but my point was that ALL Israeli governments supported what AIPAC, an independent patriotic American lobby, was doing because they believed it was doing things that were also good for Israel. American Jews steer AIPAC according to what they think are American interests and the fact that ALL Israeli governments supported it shows that Israelis believed it was also acting in Israel’s interest.

May 7th, 2008, 5:59 am


Enlightened said:

Zenobia said:

If you can’t boycott Israel, you could just try boycotting AIG.

can you guys really live with him in your face but not take a bite? I am not sure…..

Zen, why would we want to boycott Israel, some of us here wish no such thing! You just gave him ammunition for his next rant maybe we need to galvanize and boycott him? Any takers?

May 7th, 2008, 6:02 am


Alex said:

SO what does AIPAC do when there is a huge disagreement between Likud supporters in Israel who are for an Iraq (and Iran) wars, and between 77% of American Jews who are strongly against that Iraq war?

How come AIPAC is siding with Likud in Israel and not with 77% of American Jews?

May 7th, 2008, 6:03 am


Zenobia said:

As for the state of the strength of the USA… I think China is fast on its way to owning the United States, and this has little to do with democracy. Take note, AIG.

and here is a fine article on this subject by the one and only, Tom Friedman. For your reading pleasure.

New York Times
Op-Ed Columnist
Who Will Tell the People?

Published: May 4, 2008

Traveling the country these past five months while writing a book, I’ve had my own opportunity to take the pulse, far from the campaign crowds. My own totally unscientific polling has left me feeling that if there is one overwhelming hunger in our country today it’s this: People want to do nation-building. They really do. But they want to do nation-building in America.

They are not only tired of nation-building in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with so little to show for it. They sense something deeper — that we’re just not that strong anymore. We’re borrowing money to shore up our banks from city-states called Dubai and Singapore. Our generals regularly tell us that Iran is subverting our efforts in Iraq, but they do nothing about it because we have no leverage — as long as our forces are pinned down in Baghdad and our economy is pinned to Middle East oil.

Our president’s latest energy initiative was to go to Saudi Arabia and beg King Abdullah to give us a little relief on gasoline prices. I guess there was some justice in that. When you, the president, after 9/11, tell the country to go shopping instead of buckling down to break our addiction to oil, it ends with you, the president, shopping the world for discount gasoline.

We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents’ generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: “You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years.”

That’s why Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous defense of why he did not originally send more troops to Iraq is the mantra of our times: “You go to war with the army you have.” Hey, you march into the future with the country you have — not the one that you need, not the one you want, not the best you could have.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I flew from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Singapore. In J.F.K.’s waiting lounge we could barely find a place to sit. Eighteen hours later, we landed at Singapore’s ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children’s play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

How could this be? We are a great power. How could we be borrowing money from Singapore? Maybe it’s because Singapore is investing billions of dollars, from its own savings, into infrastructure and scientific research to attract the world’s best talent — including Americans.

And us? Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, just told a Senate hearing that cutbacks in government research funds were resulting in “downsized labs, layoffs of post docs, slipping morale and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions.” Today, she added, “China, India, Singapore … have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is “toughening up” Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

I don’t know if Barack Obama can lead that, but the notion that the idealism he has inspired in so many young people doesn’t matter is dead wrong. “Of course, hope alone is not enough,” says Tim Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics, “but it’s not trivial. It’s not trivial to inspire people to want to get up and do something with someone else.”

It is especially not trivial now, because millions of Americans are dying to be enlisted — enlisted to fix education, enlisted to research renewable energy, enlisted to repair our infrastructure, enlisted to help others. Look at the kids lining up to join Teach for America. They want our country to matter again. They want it to be about building wealth and dignity — big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, said Shriver, “no one can touch us.”

May 7th, 2008, 6:03 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You need to ask AIPAC but I think the simple answer is that it doesn’t represent all the Jews in the US. That is why J-Street, the new lobby was formed.

May 7th, 2008, 6:09 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Friedman is trying to promote certain actions that will lead the US back to “greatness”. He is not claiming like others on this blog that the demise of the US is inevitable.

Come on, Harvard has the largest endowment in the world and the NIH budget is second to none. This sounds a little hysterical.

May 7th, 2008, 6:12 am


Alex said:

Happy for J-Street and I wish them well.

But for now AIPAC is about … 100 million times more influential than J-Street even though the later represents a majority of American Jews on the most important question today … Iraq’s war.

The point is … with so much power, AIPAC is not exactly elected through a one man one vote process … and it is not accountable and it can not “lose the next elections” when it goes against the wishes of the majority of American Jews … and I can’t “ask AIPAC that question” … because AIPAC is … not a senator, not a political party …


Time to go to sleep for me.

May 7th, 2008, 6:21 am


Enlightened said:

Alex said:

SO what does AIPAC do when there is a huge disagreement between Likud supporters in Israel who are for an Iraq (and Iran) wars, and between 77% of American Jews who are strongly against that Iraq war?

How come AIPAC is siding with Likud in Israel and not with 77% of American Jews?

May 7th, 2008, 6:03 am

Alex this question is a no brainer for a Goon like AIG: because those in power within AIPAC are not born equal! (lol)

My agitation point, but the perpetuation of the dispute will guarantee that Israel receives more funding and more support by those influential within AIPAC ( those in control wield more power) and steer policy. They are of the inherent belief that they can continue to perpetuate the conflict indefinitely, a conflict that they believe they will win.

May 7th, 2008, 6:22 am


Zenobia said:

AIG, I doubt it is hysterical.

I am not sure where you are, but… things feel pretty bad from here. A half gallon of milk cost $4.29. Gasoline in California is now at minimum $3.75 a gallon, and in the city is is up over four dollar. This unprecedented.
And the housing market is crashing down. Dropping Dropping. People owe mortgages that are more than the present value of their house. The amount of houses on the market is at a quarter century high because of foreclosures and because nobody is able to buy them.

yes, these are just little things going on in the short term, but …. they are day to day reflections of the tank our economy is taking.

Nobody knows if the decline is permanent. But looks a lot like England at the end of the 19th century.
Yes, Friedman is saying WAKE UP!…because he thinks the country has to turn itself around. It could, yes. But he is also saying that things are getting way behind in serious ways.

Here is the other really good column he wrote recently:

a quote from the last part:

” It is also alarming, says Rhone Resch, the president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, that the U.S. has reached a point “where the priorities of Congress could become so distorted by politics” that it would turn its back on the next great global industry — clean power — “but that’s exactly what is happening.” If the wind and solar credits expire, said Resch, the impact in just 2009 would be more than 100,000 jobs either lost or not created in these industries, and $20 billion worth of investments that won’t be made.

While all the presidential candidates were railing about lost manufacturing jobs in Ohio, no one noticed that America’s premier solar company, First Solar, from Toledo, Ohio, was opening its newest factory in the former East Germany — 540 high-paying engineering jobs — because Germany has created a booming solar market and America has not.

In 1997, said Resch, America was the leader in solar energy technology, with 40 percent of global solar production. “Last year, we were less than 8 percent, and even most of that was manufacturing for overseas markets.”

The McCain-Clinton proposal is a reminder to me that the biggest energy crisis we have in our country today is the energy to be serious — the energy to do big things in a sustained, focused and intelligent way. We are in the midst of a national political brownout. ”

and since I know you are really interested in the subject of building democracies around the world, you might be interested in his piece on how as the price of oil goes up, the index of democratic freedoms goes down around the world… interesting….

May 7th, 2008, 6:34 am


SOL said:

Alex said;

“is the full return of the Golan Heights an Israeli policy? … apparently it is the policy of Prime minister Olmert … but do you know what AIPAC’s position is? … they are against the policy of the prime minister … so who do they represent??” and “How come AIPAC is siding with Likud in Israel and not with 77% of American Jews?”

Again please show me one piece of factual documentation that support those statements! Is that on their website? Or on a document that has been distributed by Aipac? If not how do you make such claims?

May 7th, 2008, 6:43 am


Alex said:


Like the first set of claims I made that you also rejected.

Do you now accept them, or you prefer to disagree with Aaron David Miller who is speaking from his actual experience at the top of American politics.

Sol …you know that AIPAC does not publish official positions on policies.

Your question is like if I asked you to prove that Syrian intelligence are supportive of Syrian regime survival… get me that proof from the website of Syrian intelligence please.

Most of AIPAC’s preferences are quite consistent to those who want to find out … for example, until they hear very clear and persistent new directions from Israel … AIPAC always opposed anything that seemed like pressure on Israel to make territorial concessions (including the post 67 occupied territories) … peace process ideas are classified as “pressure” of course.

Ask James Baker and Colin Powell.

As for their position on the Iraq war … since we can not quote “AIPAC’s official spokesman” on these things … we can still quote the closest thing to an official AIPAC spokesman.

May 7th, 2008, 7:05 am


SOL said:

Alex says;

“you know that AIPAC does not publish official positions on policies”

Sorry Alex they actual do,

also you stated

“How come AIPAC is siding with Likud in Israel and not with 77% of American Jews?”

Again Alex whatever your perception is, Aipac supported the Gaza disengagement even though it was opposed by the Likud and other right wing parties in Israel.

May 7th, 2008, 7:35 am


Zubaida said:

When analysing the constant stream of stories out of the region about cross-border gas deals, upstream oil and gas investment, refineries etc it is always necessary to look for hard evidence that such projects are actually happening. In the examples that you list, the one definite project is the Orascom cement venture in Aleppo, being carried out with MAS (headed by Firas Tlas). It is worth bearing in mind that this is the first serious project of its kind to be undertaken in Syria for some 20 years. Gulfsands may or may not end up producing some oil from its Syrian permit; its shift in location to London was a legal formality. As for the Iranian gas deals, Iran is currently a net importer of gas, and is likely to remain so for some time despite the huge potential that it has to become a major gas exporter. This is partly about sanctions and the strategic choices of the Iranian leadership; it also reflects the escalating costs in the oil and gas industry and the tough commercial terms that Iran insists on in its negotiaitons with foreign oil companies, both Western and Asian.

May 7th, 2008, 7:47 am


Naji said:

O Golan, where art thou?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 22:02

Remember the big PR campaign run by the Syrian government on the sad 40th anniversary of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Golan? Neither do I. To be fair, they only had 40 years to prepare and are probably saving their best efforts for an eventual 50th anniversary, so why rush them before that milestone? Besides, the Syrian government, with an infinite wisdom which I do not possess, is calmly confident in the knowledge that Golan facts are common knowledge needing no introduction.

In the meantime, after having illegally occupied it in 1967 and illegally annexed it in 1981, the sneaky Israelis have gone and run their own PR campaign to remind (and not to convince) the world that the Golan is Israeli. The Israeli Ministry of Tourism (note the clever URL) has outdone itself with the biggest campaign it ever ran, concocting advertisements with dreamy images and brand new slogans which ask, even when showing the Golan: “This is Israel. Who knew?”

Good question. I didn’t, but I might be in a minority because others already knew, or are finding out quickly by reading articles such as the following two, which should only be read with tissues on standby as the inspirational “human interest” slant will make even the most detached of you empathize with the plight of these poor lonesome cowboys who are definitely far away from home.

In the National Post this week, Karen Burshtein romanticizes about the life of “an old cowhand from the Holy Land,” describing the Golan as “the wild mountainous region in northeast Israel,” and as “the finger of land between Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.” It takes 640 words to discover that “Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war”, a capture which most readers will assume is legal and final, given that “the Israel Land Authority owns the land” which happens to be “one of the most beautiful regions in Israel.”

It is odd (or is it?) that the word “capture” has become the norm for describing what would be called an invasion and an occupation when other states are involved. At least Joel Greenberg, in the Chicago Tribune, acknowledges that the cowboy of his story (also this week, as chance would have it) “lives not in Israel proper but in the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.” Greenberg professionally elaborates that “the area is generally viewed abroad as occupied territory,” even though the terrific cowboys call it home, “home on the Heights.” Still, for the sake of a true peace (cue for tissues), this cowboy is willing to give up his home, after which he says “they’ll write that I died of a broken heart.”

Israeli settler on occupied Syrian land … aka “Golan Cowboy”

Israeli embassies the world over thoroughly scour media in their respective countries, monitoring publications, airwaves, and cyberspace, and firing off indignant but eloquent and effective letters to the editors responsible for digressions from their agenda and their “facts.” Their Syrian counterparts, unfortunately, do not believe this is worth their time, which is one reason why articles like these continue to form opinions and strengthen perceptions in Israel’s favor, including the myth of the “Israeli Golan.”

Cowboys and journalists are not the only ones to be smitten by the wonderful territory: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his wife just spent Passover vacation in the Golan, already familiar with its charms which Israel markets as if the Golan were really its own, enticing visitors to see the “wonderful scenic treasures alongside lovely nature reserves, historic and archeological sites and attractions, for the whole family.” Indeed, continues the ministry, the beauty of the Golan is so captivating that some visitors return again and again (Olmerts included, and apparently not to say goodbye).

This is nothing that Syrians didn’t already know of course, and it could only mean that Israel not only stole the Golan, but probably also stole the entire marketing literature which Syria presents. Burden of proof calling, I decided to cast a cursory glance at the relevant Syrian sites and deliver the confirmation.

Logically, I visited the website of the Syrian Ministry of Tourism to report on the evidence. Using the search engine, since the Golan was nowhere to be found on the front page, I learned that “old historical texts refer to the Golan as the extension of the slopes of Mt. Hernon,” and that “during the Canaanite period Banias was known as Laish, and most probably, it was the capital of an Aramaic kingdom / Beit Rahoub.” The two paragraphs on the Golan (the third one being a repetition) go all the way up to Greek and Arab geographers.

After reading this fascinating description, don’t you just want to jump on a plane and go visit with your family? And doesn’t it give you the distinct conviction that the Golan is an integral part of Syria? If not, you must be one of those difficult, hard to please people; thankfully, the Ministry of Tourism was ready for this eventuality and posted on its main page, in capital letters you can’t miss, a link to the ultimate tourism pitch:


I don’t mean to be picky, but I think this marketing approach needs a rethink if the Syrians are going to begin marketing what is theirs. But maybe it is not the Ministry of Tourism’s job to mention and describe the Golan, especially when it uses the website’s front page to advertise investment conferences, rather than actual tourism. There are a few countries in the world where ministries of information still exist, I remembered, which is surely where such details will be found by the few determined inquisitive minds which haven’t yet absorbed the Israeli campaign.

So I visited the website of the Ministry of Information, following a crazy hunch that its default purpose was to inform, and to initiate campaigns dispersing actual information, if not merely respond to the Israeli ones. I had been under the strange impression that the Ministry of Information’s job mostly consisted of informing non-Syrians (and non-Arabic speakers) about Syria. It turns out there isn’t even a page in English on the website of the ministry dealing with foreign media.

Still clinging to a wild belief that government ministries couldn’t possibly be guilty of such massive incompetence (or, even worse, of such negligence), I concluded I was simply looking in the wrong places, not finding where journalists, travel agents, tourists, writers, students, or anyone remotely interested in the region would automatically look.

I suddenly remembered an obvious place I had overlooked: the website of the Ministry of Culture. Eureka! Obviously, since Damascus is the Culture Capital of the Arab World in 2008, all relevant information and facts about capital and country would be on its website, even though a first look indicated its English was inherited from SANA. Eagerly, I clicked on the “About Syria” page: it was blank. (Blank, that is, except for the “Print this document” indicator.)

Time to concentrate, I thought, not to panic. If the Ministry of Culture is unable to come up with a single sentence about the country, which government entity should one turn to in a desperate search for information on the Golan, and, just as importantly, for a campaign to counter Israel’s “Who knew?” ads? Which government entity would have the linguistic capacity and the marketing communication expertise to tell the world about the Golan, or about anything related to Syria?

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs doesn’t even have a website, a sign of self-assurance that unlike all other countries in the world, Syria’s foreign policy is consistently crystal clear and needs no explanation. However, I dared hope, the few Syrian embassies which actually have websites would have understood the importance of clear communication, relevant information, simple clear design, coherence and compatibility; a discouraging search demonstrated that they didn’t. Each embassy has a different domain name system, a different style, and different contents, with no concerted effort to project a unified image, a consistent template or a common message. On the issue of the Golan, however, they are unanimous: they ignore it.

Thus, to mention only a few examples, the website of the Syrian Embassy in London manages a few links on the wrong page but serves for little other than ridiculously expensive visa applications. The website of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has a busy, hard to read (bold white on dark blue) erratic text and an awkward collage of photos on a long rambling page. The website of the Syrian Embassy in Paris is a disappointing, inelegant, rudimentary site listing all the information in an unorganized sequence on one page. The website of the Syrian Embassy in Ottawa is so clumsy that it looks as if it was typed on a typewriter, so outdated that the front page still links to the Presidential Election dates, and boasts a “photo gelery.” It also links to a certain website called Occupied Golan, a name not conducive to great excitement but which at least addresses the issue. If interested, do click on the link: the domain name is for sale.

Uninspiring, maddening and totally inadequate, so far. Clutching at straws, I turned to a website which I have frequently ridiculed and which makes a mockery of the concept of news agency (and which actually shows the BBC logo when it is bookmarked!). But at least, I consoled myself as I waited for the page to load its mediocre drivel not even fit for classic propaganda, at least good old bad SANA would go on and on about the Golan, tirelessly “underlining” the fact that it is Syrian, that it is occupied, that international law says it has to be given back, and that it also happens to be a lovely area with delicious apples, wonderful water, and all the other things that the Israelis have stolen from us, but for which we will wait forever if we have to, knowing that one day it will come back to the Syrian homeland, like its liberated city Quneitra, and that we will again smell the fresh air of the Golan and swim in its lake, thank you very much. Or something to that effect.

Alas, good old bad SANA did not underline any of that. It didn’t have a page, a link, or a paragraph stating the official Syrian position on the Golan, or on anything else. Of course, this could be because the Golan isn’t actual news, but that never stopped SANA before. Nevertheless, it did have a page titled “Other Useful web sites” [sic] (implying that SANA considered itself to be useful, but I digress) which I hoped would finally lead me to the holy grail: I should not have been surprised to find a blank page, yet again. Mea culpa.

My search has ended. For the time being, information about the Golan – and about all other issues relating to the regional conflict – will continue to star in official Israeli websites and to shine by its absence on official Syrian websites. Syria has decided to not even fire a shot in the media war (not necessarily a bad thing given the “quality” of the material generated so far), ceding the information highway to the pros.

This obviously doesn’t mean we are going to remain passive as Israel continues to blatantly claim ownership of our land, sixty years after the Nakba, and 41 years since it “captured” the Golan, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. As SANA proudly announced, this year will not only be “a year of marches and protests in Arab countries” – yeah, that will show them – but it will also be, right in the beating heart of Arabism, the year that the biggest Palestinian flag ever made will fly in the Damascus sky in a quest to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. I wanted you to know that, before resting my case.

May 7th, 2008, 7:59 am


SimoHurtta said:

The point is … with so much power, AIPAC is not exactly elected through a one man one vote process … and it is not accountable and it can not “lose the next elections” when it goes against the wishes of the majority of American Jews … and I can’t “ask AIPAC that question” … because AIPAC is … not a senator, not a political party …

Without doubt AIPAC is an almost unseen “phenomena” in western democracies and extremely “unhealthy” for the country’s own democracy. Well the level of democracy of USA can be disputed. I personally see USA as democratic as China having two communist parties. Well a bit better. 🙂

AIPAC’s role with its influence resembles much the Finland-Soviet Union society’s (Suomi-Neuvostoliitto seura) role in Finland after WW2 until Soviet Union’s end. Every Finnish politician and member of the country’s elite was voluntarily “forced” to join the society if he wanted to be successful. Also it was “demanded” to make kosher statements about Soviet Union and repeat the undeclared “official liturgy”. If one voiced critical opinions he was at once labelled as anti-Semitic, sorry naturally hostile towards Soviet Union and his/her carrier was in severe difficulties. This development has been called Finlandization (Finlandisierung) by western politicians, researchers and media.

One can say with good “evidence” that USA suffers nowadays of severe a “Israelization” (“Israelisierung”) development. We can see that for example how US president candidates are demanded constantly to show their loyalty towards Israel.

Wikipedia defines the term Finlandization so:
Finlandization (Finnish: suomettuminen; Swedish: finlandisering; German: Finnlandisierung) is the influence that one powerful country may have on the policies of a smaller neighboring country.

Finland is a small country neighbouring an former and again emerging superpower’s biggest industrial center and one of the worlds biggest naval bases. So it is understandable that Finland has to “understand” the big neighbours “wishes”.

But what is USA? A superpower which allows a small in itself totally insignificant country lead and direct much of it internal and foreign politics. That is an simply astonishing achievement by the Jewish lobby and Israel.

May 7th, 2008, 8:11 am


Shai said:


Very true. And yet, we couldn’t even win the Euroleague championship… 🙂 I was very disappointed, but CSKA definitely deserved it, as it played much better than Maccabi did. In our history, we defeated CSKA once, but just couldn’t do it a second time… AIPAC couldn’t help us there… (thank god).


I won’t pretend to have read your entire discussion up there (I haven’t), but simply in reference to AIPAC’s backing of the disengagement. Its decision to support it was, in this case, a mistake. Not because of the idea of leaving Gaza, but because of the way in which Israel did it (unilaterally, not under agreement). Likud was not the only party against it, so was Meretz’s Yosi Beilin! While it was very tempting for most to support this move (it was indeed about time to do so), one could have, and indeed should have played the clock forward a few moves, and seen what was likely to happen there. We created a situation by which Israel would have to back Fatah against Hamas, and that of course brought us to where we are today. Instead of reaching an agreement with our enemy Hamas, who in fact ruled with a democratically elected government, we opted to “dump” it at the hands of the minority, Fatah. And the rest is history. AIPAC should have been against it, but for different reasons than the Likud.

May 7th, 2008, 9:03 am


Naji said:

Why does the Daily Cal print anti-Muslim advertisements?
Posted on May 6th, 2008 by yaman

For some reason, the Daily Californian yesterday printed an advertisement, shown above, by the “David Horowitz Freedom Center” that alleged Muslim students around the country were “waging” a “stealth jihad on America’s college campuses.”

While the advertisement does contain a disclaimer “PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT,” probably to distance the views expressed from the newspaper itself, it’s difficult to see why this classification was chosen: the advertisement does not support nor oppose any specific political candidate, legislation, action, or issue. All it does is bash Muslims. Since the Daily Cal is under no obligation whatsoever to print all advertisements, it retains full discretion over what it does and does not agree to print. Why it did agree to print this is still unanswered.

Let’s summarize the advertisement, in case “the big deal” isn’t clear:

Muslim Student Associations around the country, as well as Muslim students, “posture as just another campus religious and cultural organization,” but in fact are “waging a stealth jihad.”
Muslims support America’s (read: “normal Americans’”) enemies.
Muslims think they are better than non-Muslims, to the point that non-Muslims are dehumanized and can be killed, cheated, or lied to at will.
In short, Muslims, as a mass, are engaged in active subversion and dissimulation about their true beliefs, activities, and aspriations. Though Muslims might appear to be benign, ordinary, regular students involved in society just like everybody else, they are actually putting on a “front” to hide their connection to a worldwide network that hates and is actively working against Americans (curiously defined here to exclude Muslims).

Let’s rewind in history 70 years and take a look at Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda. For an example, I’ll use “The Poisonous Mushroom,” a children’s book distributed in Germany before World War II. I used the English translation from the Internet Archive.

Some key excerpts, from only the first 3 pages since I can’t stomach going through all eighteen:

“However they disguise themselves, or however friendly they try to be, affirming a thousand times their good intentions to us, one must not believe them. Jews they are and Jews they remain. For our folk they are poison.


Tell me, mother, do all non Jews know that the Jew is as dangerous as a poisonous mushroom?

Mother shakes her head.

Unfortunately not, my child. There are millions of non Jews who do not yet know the Jews. So we have to enlighten people to warn them against the Jews. Our young people, too, must be warned. Our boys and girls must learn to know about the Jew. They must learn the Jew is the most dangerous poison mushroom in existence….”

And in case it wasn’t clear enough from the story, it’s accompanied by this imperative:

“German youth must learn to recognize the Jewish poison mushroom. They must learn what a danger the Jew is for the German folk and the whole world. They must learn that the Jewish problem involves the destiny of us all.”

If it’s not clear enough already the kind of marginalization that David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Debbie Schlussel, and associates are pushing with regards to Muslims, Arabs, and anybody who might be confused for one in America (and to some extent their “sympathizers!”), then it’s time for a thorough and mainstream study of the dynamics of anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda–even if it means reading through trash like “The Poisonous Mushroom.”

May 7th, 2008, 9:36 am


ausamaa said:

Does AIPAC lead Israel or does Israel lead AIPAC?? Or is AIPAC supporting a certain faction of the Israeli political elite?

Rice has been rebuffed by Olmert almost on each of her numerous visits to Israel, does that mean that AIPAC or would not help Rice by putting presuure on Olmert and Barak to accomodate even the simplest of the US demands from Israel such as lifting the road blocks in the West Bank? In this case, AIPAC is clearly working against the US policy.

On the other hand if AIPAC is trying -but failing- to assist US efforts to make the Israeli political elite “help” the desperate attempts by Rice to salvage the failing neocon project in the area, then what is AIPAC’s real power and ifluence?

Is the Bush Administration really so much in the Grip of AIPAC that it can not control it and can not use it to further the critical US interests at such a crucial time in the life of the Bush Administration? I find that hard to belive! US policy is dictated by US interests as defined by the military-industrial-banking complex not by a little state called Israel.

The saying goes:

He who pays the Piper calls the Tunes? Is it not?

Who is the Piper and who is really Paying him?

The only conclusion I can reach is that the Bush Administration is not in control of it’s own self and is really under the hypnotic influence in a very Stupid and detached from reality manner. The left hand is working against the right hand with the some one gaining something out of this confusion? Who is really benifiting out of all this confusion? Certainly not Israel who is living in such a state of uncertainity, not the Bush Admin who sees its whole project in the area failing at the hands of both its friends and foes, and not the average American or the Arab or the Israeli or the Eorupean citizen who are all suffering from his collaps and from an oil barrel at $120. What the hell is really happening? But someone must be benifiting from all this? Who? The US military-industrial-banking complex? WHO?

As in each crime, who has real motive, has real interest, and gains materially out of all this?

And for God’s sake dont tell me its Bush, neither Israel, nor the Arabs, nor the World in General! They are all apparently losers in all this.

May 7th, 2008, 10:06 am


Naji said:


Shame on you…!! Is that all you managed to do for the Syrian Embassy in Canada…???!!!

I move that you take a few weeks off from SC, put your elbow-grease where your mouth is, and set up something at least minimally presentable for these hapless fools right in your own home country/backyard…!!

May 7th, 2008, 10:14 am


Akbar Palace said:

Ausamma asks:

Does AIPAC lead Israel or does Israel lead AIPAC?

Ausamma –

This isn’t the Middle East. We don’t have to look to a despotic leader who is solely responsible for speaking for the people. AIPAC doesn’t “lead” Israel, and similarly, Israel doesn’t “lead” AIPAC.

They are both free to express their own opinions and totally independent of each other. Perhaps, for some, this is a very difficult concept to understand.

HP said –

The last folks to be antisemitic are the folks you encounter on this blog (except maybe for Bondo, but then Bondo, to me, is someone who must have been subjected to extreme suffering – if not physical then at least emotional).

There is enough antisemitism on this blog that I doubt the participants are “the last folks”. I don’t know what Bondo’s story is, but in most cases, Arab anti-semitism comes from large doses of brainwashing from the Arab media, the Arab clergy and the Arab educational system. It exists for a purpose and it is no accident.

Unlike Shai, I do not believe Israel or the West can be the sole parties responsible for healing the suffering of Palestinians and the Arab people. They can help, a little, but the majority of the healing will have to come from the Arabs themselves.

Example of non-Bondo antisemitism:

Abraham said:

But in the interview he professed he was a zionist, and he believed the Jews had a right to live in the land they call Israel, presumably because they were Jewish. He didn’t say it arrogantly. He said it as a person who really believes it, but who totally disregards the consequences of this totally destructive belief.

And I couldn’t help but see this guy in a different light. Regardless of his good deeds, he ultimately is the cause of the problems he is trying to remedy. By insisting that he has a right to live in Israel, he is creating the cause that ultimately results in the Palestinian not being able to farm their own land, or build a house, or have their house threatened with demolition, etc. If he really wanted to help, and he was really sincere, he would be much more helpful if he would simply go back to America (he was American born).

So I don’t care how nice and peaceful and loving and caring and pro-Palestinian a zionist is. In the end, he is still a zionist.

May 7th, 2008, 11:34 am


ausamaa said:


Yeh, sure, that is what I thought..

But it was not exactly your feedback I was soliciting on such a matter. Neither that of AIG of course.

May 7th, 2008, 11:45 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Strike, Demonstrations across Lebanon

3:00 Calm prevails over Barbour, Corniche Mazraa and Barbir.
2:05 pm Security forces work to contain clashes in Wata Museitbeh
2:00 pm Rocket Propelled Grenades destroy Al Mustaqbal offices in Nwairi, three wounded
1:50 pm Heavy gunfire heard in the area of Beirut Arab University-Cola
1:20 pm Security sources: Al Mustaqbal movement office in Nwairi targeted by grenades and gunshots
1:15 pm Clashes in Museitbeh between members of Amal and the Progressive Socialist Party
1:05 pm Reports of street-to-street fighting in Ras al-Nabaa.
1:00 pm Heavy bursts of gunfire is reported in Nwairi neighborhood.
12:30 pm Reports that the airport road will remain closed until political progress is achieved.
12:25 pm Pro-government supporters and opposition members tossed stones at each other in Corniche Mazraa and army troops, trying to disperse the antagonists, were caught in the fight.

May 7th, 2008, 12:25 pm


norman said:


What do you think ,

Clashes as strike grips Lebanon
Explosions and gunfire rang out across the Lebanese capital Beirut as opposition supporters held a one-day general strike calling for higher pay.

Strikers set up barricades of burning tyres on key routes to the port, airport and Beirut’s commercial centre.

The cause of the explosions was not clear, but reports say armed opposition and pro-government groups may have fired rocket-propelled grenades.

The country is witnessing its deepest political crisis since the civil war.

Lebanon has been without a head of state for five months because of a power struggle between the Western and Saudi-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition which is supported by Syria and Iran.

Pro-government supporters exchanged rifle and grenade fire with Hezbollah sympathisers in three neighbourhoods, security sources said.

There was no immediate word of casualties but ambulances where seen heading towards the areas.

High tension

Earlier in the day a stun grenade was detonated in a crowd in West Beirut, causing minor injuries. It was not known who threw the grenade.

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says although this is ostensibly a workers’ strike, it was a highly politicised affair reflecting the acute polarisation and tension between the government and opposition.
Labour unions cancelled Wednesday’s main event – a march through Beirut – a few hours before it was scheduled to take place, because of conditions along the route.

Tensions rose on Tuesday after the government announced it would shut down Hezbollah’s private telecommunications network.

The head of airport security was also dismissed amid allegations he had allowed Hezbollah to set up spy cameras at the airport; Hezbollah strongly denied the claim.

Unions are demanding that the government triple the minimum monthly wage, which currently stands at $200.

Prices have been rising in Lebanon, especially food and fuel, with the situation exacerbated by the weakening of the US dollar, but Finance Minister Jihad Azour has warned that big pay rises would lead to rampant inflation.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/07 11:43:55 GMT


May 7th, 2008, 12:41 pm


ausamaa said:

“Pro-government supporters exchanged rifle and grenade fire with Hezbollah sympathisers in three neighbourhoods, security sources said.”

Actually, it was with AMAL supporters and Al Mustaqbal. Amal supporters also occupied one of Al Mustaqbal Offices. And this is very significant in a way as all of the confrontations seem to be between Amal and Al Mustaqbal only.

Hizbullah areas where much calmer and under contorl.

What baffles me is the amount of sand and rocks being used to block the Airport Road. Hizbullah is still building up those road blocks as we speak??? Wonder why they are being increased.

May 7th, 2008, 12:50 pm


norman said:

I think there is fear of a landing in the Airport?.

May 7th, 2008, 1:15 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

The clashes are between PSP/Mustaqbal and Amal (with some Hizbullah supporters as well).

There are riots in different areas. My parents (who live in Hamra) say that their part of town is deathly quiet. Nothing going on; just tons of Army and ISF standing around.

The road to the airport has been blocked for symbolic (and not so symbolic) reasons. This action was provoked by the government’s decision to crack down on Hizbullah’s monitoring of the airport. This move infuriated the opposition, and so the blockade of the airport is a reminder to “stop playing with fire”. In such a confrontation, the opposition will bet that the government will blink first, as nothing quite says “cancel your summer vacation” to curious Gulfis and Europeans, like burning cars on the airport road.

But this is all very troubling.

What I find to be so deluded about the majority’s decision was that it was calculated to produce this response. Everybody has known about Hizbullah’s communication network and their monitoring of the airport (which everybody else does too) for a very long time. Nobody woke up yesterday and was shocked to discover that Hizbullah presides over a state within a state. So why choose this moment to tackle these issues, which anyway can’t be solved outside the parliament?

I for one would like to see all the zu’ama stripped of their citizenship and deported. Let them all go live in the foreign capitals whose bidding they do.

May 7th, 2008, 1:37 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Apparently, Fairouz is among the passengers trapped at the airport.

In the meantime, opposition supporters are bringing tents to the airport to prepare for a sit-in.

May 7th, 2008, 1:40 pm


SOL said:

Shai said;

“I won’t pretend to have read your entire discussion up there (I haven’t), but simply in reference to AIPAC’s backing of the disengagement. Its decision to support it was, in this case, a mistake.”

You missed the point entirely! I only stated that Aipac supported the Gaza disengagement in response to Alex’s claim that Aipac is “siding with Likud in Israel and not with 77% of American Jews?” If it was the right decision or not is a totally different discussion. All I’m pointing out that these accusations about the inflated influence of Aipac are counter-productive and cloud the real issues. Intentionally or not they remind me of the age old canard that zionist/jews control the media or banks or the government or take your pick. Does Aipac have too much influence, maybe (along with many other lobbies in many different industries), does Aipac’s support in the long run hurt Israel, maybe, that is a valid point, but as an intelligent human being who is looking for a forum to exchange opinions and new ideas don’t you think we should get beyond these conspiracy theories.

May 7th, 2008, 1:48 pm


ugarit said:

Naji said to Alex: “Shame on you…!! Is that all you managed to do for the Syrian Embassy in Canada…???!!!”

First there should be one look and feel to all Syrian embassies and this should be standardized by the Syrian government and should not be based on individual embassies. Alex would do a good job, however.

May 7th, 2008, 2:00 pm


Alex said:

Thanks Ugarit and Naji,

I was going to do that! (in 2000 I think) … at that time I donated a computer system and a scanner to them as a gift from the Syrian Cultural Center in Montreal. The revolutionary idea (at the time) was to scan all forms, make them PDF and put them on the site for people to download them instead of waiting forever for an embassy employee to fax them to you.

I thought that by paying the expense of the hardware, and designing the site myself, then there will be no need to ask anyone’s approval … instead, the idea was apparently still stuck at foreign ministry in Damascus for approval for few years… and my new site design that was waiting for all those pdf forms to be uploaded there, ended in my computer’s trashcan.

But at least eventually they did automate the process.

Although the site is still seriously ugly and embarrassing, like all Syrian embassy sites.

But there is hope!

I hope they ask the company which designed this site to do ALL the Syrian embassy sites:

I noticed this company’s design style in many posters and logos of cultural events in Damascus lately. Not bad in general.

May 7th, 2008, 3:23 pm


Naji said:

Well, Alex,… Still,

“I move that you take a few weeks off from SC, put your elbow-grease where your mouth is, and set up something at least minimally presentable for these hapless fools right in your own home country/backyard…!!”

I mean that site/sight must be more offensive and embarrassing for you than for anybody else…!!?? Everyone must assume that Alex had something to do with that site…!!?

And once the “Responsibles” see the result, perhaps they will be encouraged to use it as a template for the other embassies’ sites… and you will get a medal…!! And you would be setting a precedent for accomplishing things through citizens’ initiatives and volunteerism…!

[I know that that is not how things work in Syrian officialdom, but surely things could change… and if they were going to respond to anybody on this, surely it would be to the Number One Syrian Regime Cheerleader and Apologist in whole world…!!!] 🙂

May 7th, 2008, 3:39 pm


idaf said:


You should try to coordinate with these people for the embassies. It’s the core of an e-government project in Syria. Most official information on government applications are listed here (with lots of forms to download and contacts to government entities):

This is a project under the Syrian Computer Society’s e-government portal project ( ) that was first initiated in a jointly supported conference last year by the EU & the Syrian government. This year’s e-Government Conference in Syria is scheduled next month. More information here for those interested:

Each muhafaza in Syria now has its own official portal (they are linked from the portal above). Following up on Rime Allaf’s excellent article posted in the comments section above, the official portal of Al-Qunaytra governate ( ) lists the following 3 websites on the Golan:

– The official Syrian website for Golan (Arabic, English and French)
– A community website for Syrians living under occupation in the Golan (managed from the occupied Golan)
– The website of the Committee for Defense of Syrians imprisoned by Israel in the Golan

May 7th, 2008, 3:52 pm


Naji said:


Thanks for the links you provided above… they give one hope…!!
Quality seems to be creeping into web design and official Syrian media… all the more reason that official embassey sites should at least refer people to these sites…!!

So, is this Tamayuz outfit, that did the above sites, the best in Syria in your opinion…?! Any others of note…?! Alex, any recommendations…?! [not asking for commerial endorsements… just friendly advice…!]

May 7th, 2008, 4:34 pm


Alex said:


The links you provided are not bad, but they are not as appealing and professional as the one here

What do you think?


I once decided to help a good Syrian friend of mine by designing a new site for his company .. his old site was a disaster. When I showed him the design, he started to tell me what he would like to change in it .. colors, fonts, graphics, layout …

He knows nothing about site design, but he is used to being the decision maker .. on everything in his company.

So … I expect the same if I were to design something for the embassy : )

May 7th, 2008, 4:59 pm


Shai said:


First, I apologize for missing the point. As I said, I didn’t read all the exchanges that took place prior, so I didn’t know that was your main point – sorry. As for what infuriates most Arabs about AIPAC, I think, is the fact that it seems to automatically and blindly almost support Israeli policy, whatever that may be. And I very much agree that this is one of the worst things for Israel’s best interest. We need a much more balanced AIPAC, that knows how to support Israel, but also how to criticize it when needed. It is this frustration that most Arabs are expressing, and not so much the “conspiracy theory”, where mysterious Zionists are controlling the USA through AIPAC (though I’m sure many believe in that as well).


I never claimed that “Israel or the West can be the sole parties responsible for healing the suffering of Palestinians and the Arab people”. In fact, clearly the healing process must be a two-way street. Israelis and Arabs must achieve certain things before mutual healing can take place. In fact, I don’t see “the West” has having much to do with regards to the healing. They can help alleviate some of the physical and economic issues, but not the emotional aspects. Those have to do directly with Israelis and Arabs. Both societies need to change, both inward as well as outward.

May 7th, 2008, 5:42 pm


abraham said:

Why does AIPAC spy on America?

Above any other reason, this is why AIPAC should be outlawed. They are a spy ring with a lobbying group as a front-end cover.

If the Weissman/Rosen trial is ever allowed to go forward, and without any restrictions over “state secrets” and other nonsense that both sides are throwing up to thwart the trial, AIPAC is finished.

May 7th, 2008, 5:45 pm


abraham said:

I notice that AP branded me an “anti-Semite” above and I can’t let that kind of disgusting accusation go unanswered.

AP, in fact you are the anti-Semite. You visit this blog regularly and inflict nothing but cheap invective against its regular visitors, many of them Semites themselves since they are of Arab stock (myself included), taking any chance you get to brand them as Jew-haters whenever they express any opinion against the State of Israel, its policies, or the zionists that inhabit it and make life a literal living hell for the Palestinians.

It doesn’t require much intelligence to discern that I am anti-zionism, but not anti-Jewish. If I was anti-Jewish then I think it would be rather obvious, and most of what I write would be deleted by Alex. Or are you implying that Alex is also anti-Jewish?

It does, however, take intelligence to rise above labeling everyone with whom you disagree an “anti-Semite”.

May 7th, 2008, 5:59 pm


Shai said:


I certainly know very little about AIPAC to claim they are, or aren’t, a “front” for pro-Israel spies. But I think the U.S. government is being quite stupid as well. I’m trying to imagine the following: Would the Israeli government (or Ministry of Defense) allow an Arab-Israeli, who happens to be an official in an organization called “Israel Palestine Public Affairs Committee”, access to high level intelligence? Probably not… As for the spying itself, the days of “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail” are long long gone. Even the U.S. Secretary of State that coined that phrase later changed his mind. At the end of the day, all friends spy on all friends, all the time.

May 7th, 2008, 6:02 pm


abraham said:


I’m sure everyone is spying on everyone else, but it’s still a crime, and it’s worse when it’s friends spying on friends, and worse still when one is lied to and told no spying is taking place.

And whether it is a “gentleman’s” game or not, the reality is that everyone takes these charges very seriously, which is why Jonathan Pollard is still in prison and (hopefully) will be until he’s dead, which was his sentence. It’s also why George Tenet threatened to resign as CIA chief if Clinton went ahead and pardoned Pollard. This is how seriously the US takes spying, no matter whether the US spies on its friends and enemies (I’m sure it does) or not.

With regards to Israel itself, many people in the US government don’t consider it a friend or ally anyway, so I’d be shocked if there weren’t plenty of US spies and moles in Israel and in Israeli government, as there should be.

This is also why when an Israeli spy is caught, no amount of AIPAC lobbying will keep them from American justice. Kadish is certain to receive a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Weismann and Rosen are fighting for their lives practically, and if they are let off then I assure you there are going to be many SEVERELY pissed off American officials in the CIA and other covert US agencies that are going to have a say in the matter.

The American government does not condone being spied on, period. Yes, they are hypocrites, but so goes the world.

May 7th, 2008, 6:21 pm


Zenobia said:\

After 60 Years, Arabs in Israel Are Outsiders
Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times
Published: May 7, 2008

Abu Abed, 84, returned recently to what remains of Hittin, the former Arab village in northern Israel where he was born. He fled with his family in 1948. (photo)

JERUSALEM — As Israel toasts its 60th anniversary in the coming weeks, rejoicing in Jewish national rebirth and democratic values, the Arabs who make up 20 percent of its citizens will not be celebrating. Better off and better integrated than ever in their history, freer than a vast majority of other Arabs, Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens are still far less well off than Israeli Jews and feel increasingly unwanted.

Arab residents of Shefaram, Israel, watched as an Israeli flag was carried in the streets in a 60th anniversary celebration. More Photos »

On Thursday, which is Independence Day, thousands will gather in their former villages to protest what they have come to call the “nakba,” or catastrophe, meaning Israel’s birth. For most Israelis, Jewish identity is central to the nation, the reason they are proud to live here, the link they feel with history. But Israeli Arabs, including the most successfully integrated ones, say a new identity must be found for the country’s long-term survival.

“I am not a Jew,” protested Eman Kassem-Sliman, an Arab radio journalist with impeccable Hebrew, whose children attend a predominantly Jewish school in Jerusalem. “How can I belong to a Jewish state? If they define this as a Jewish state, they deny that I am here.”

The clash between the cherished heritage of the majority and the hopes of the minority is more than friction. Even more today than in the huge half-century festivities a decade ago, the left and the right increasingly see Israeli Arabs as one of the central challenges for Israel’s future — one intractably bound to the search for an overall settlement between Jews and Arabs. Jews fear ultimately losing the demographic battle to Arabs, both in Israel and in the larger territory it controls.

Most say that while an end to its Jewish identify means an end to Israel, equally, failure to instill in Arab citizens a sense of belonging is dangerous as Arabs promote the idea that, 60 years or no 60 years, Israel is a passing phenomenon.

“I want to convince the Jewish people that having a Jewish state is bad for them,” said Abir Kopty, an advocate for Israeli Arabs.

Land is an especially sore point. Across Israel, especially in the north, are the remains of dozens of partly unused Palestinian villages, scars on the landscape from the conflict that gave birth to the country in 1948.

Yet some original inhabitants and their descendants, all Israeli Arab citizens, live in packed towns and villages, often next to the old villages, and are barred from resettling them while Jewish communities around them are urged to expand.

One recent warm afternoon, Jamal Abdulhadi Mahameed drove past kibbutz fields of wheat and watermelon, up a dirt road surrounded by pine trees and cactuses, and climbed the worn remains of a set of stairs, declaring in the open air: “This was my house. This is where I was born.”

He said what he most wanted now, at 69, was to leave the crowded town next door, come to this piece of uncultivated land with the pomegranate bushes planted by his father and work it, as generations had before him. He has gone to court to get it.

He is no revolutionary and, by nearly any measure, is a solid and successful citizen. His children include a doctor, two lawyers and an engineer. Yet, as an Arab, his quest for a return to his land challenges a longstanding Israeli policy.

“We are prohibited from using our own land,” he said, standing in the former village of Lajoun, now a mix of overgrown scrub and pines surrounded by the fields of Kibbutz Megiddo. “They want to keep it available for Jews. My daughter makes no distinction between Jewish and Arab patients. Why should the state treat me differently?”

The answer has to do with the very essence of Zionism — the movement of Jewish rebirth and control over the land where Jewish statehood first flourished more than 2,000 years ago.

Maintaining a Haven

“Land is presence,” remarked Clinton Bailey, an Israeli scholar who has focused on Bedouin culture. “If you want to be present here, you have to have land. The country is not that big. What you cede to Arabs can no longer be used for Jews who may still want to come.”

A Palestinian state is widely seen as a potential solution to tensions with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, but any deep conflict with Israel’s own Arab citizens could prove much more complex.

Antagonism runs both ways. Many Israeli Arabs express solidarity with their Palestinian brethren under occupation, while others praise Hezbollah, the anti-Israel group in Lebanon, and some Arabs in Parliament routinely accuse Israel of Nazism.

Meanwhile, several right-wing rabbis have forbidden Jews from renting apartments to Arabs or employing them. And a majority of Jews, polls show, favor a transfer of Arabs out of Israel as part of a two-state solution, a view that a decade ago was thought extreme.

Arabs here reject that idea partly because they prefer the certainty of an imperfect Israeli democracy to whatever system may evolve in a shaky Palestinian state. That is part of the paradox of the Israeli Arabs. Their anger has grown, but so has their sense of belonging.

In fact, the anxious and recriminating talk on both sides may give a false impression of constant tension. There is a real level of Jewish-Arab coexistence in many places, and the government has recently committed itself to affirmative action for Arabs in education, infrastructure and government employment.

“We know that they need more land, that their children need a place to live,” said Raanan Dinur, director general of the prime minister’s office. “We are working on building a new Arab city in the north. Our main goal is to take what are today two economies and integrate them into one economy.”

Still, there is a concern that time is short.

Mr. Mahameed and his fellow villagers will arrive at the Supreme Court in July with the goal of obtaining 50 acres of their families’ former land that sits uncultivated except for pine trees planted by the Jewish National Fund.

Their story is part of a larger one: After the United Nations General Assembly voted in late 1947 for two states in Palestine, one Arab and one Jewish, local Arab militias and their regional supporters went on the offensive against Jewish settlements, in anger over the United Nations’ support for a Jewish state. Zionist forces counterattacked. Hundreds of Palestinian villages, including Lajoun, were evacuated and mostly destroyed.

Palestinian Arabs became refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Gaza, then under Egypt’s supervision. But some, like Mr. Mahameed, stayed in Israel. They were made citizens and were promised equality, but never got it.

Those who had left or had been expelled from their villages were not permitted back and have spent the past 60 years often a few miles away, watching their land farmed or built upon by newcomers, many of them refugees from Nazi oppression or Soviet anti-Semitism.

In 1953, the Israeli Parliament retroactively declared 300,000 acres of captured village land to be government property for settlement or security purposes.

Mr. Mahameed and his 200 fellow complainants live in the crowded town of Um el-Fahm near their former land.

“Our claim is that since the land has not been used all these years, there was no need to confiscate it,” said Suhad Bishara, a lawyer with Adalah, a Haifa-based group devoted to Israeli Arab rights.

She lost that argument in the district court, which agreed with the government that the pine trees and a water treatment plant in Lajoun constituted settlement. For her, the ruling is part of a long tradition of trickery by Israel’s legal and political systems that have nearly always come down against expanding Arab land use.

Ms. Bishara says Arabs occupy only a tiny percentage of Israel, despite making up one-fifth of its population. The government said it could not provide an estimate of the land use.

Still, it is not hard to detail the gap between Arabs and Jews in nearly every area — health, education, employment — and in government spending. Three times as many Arab families are below the poverty line as Jewish ones, and a government study five years ago called for removing “the stain of discrimination.”

Mr. Dinur of the prime minister’s office has taken an interest in the issue and has met several times with Arab leaders. He says it may be possible one day for some Arabs to return to their native villages, but only as part of a process of integration and regional reconciliation. Otherwise, he says, Israeli Jews will fear that the Arabs’ goal will be to take back all the territory lost in the 1948 war.

Regional Tensions

For many Israelis, the challenge posed by the Arabs cannot be separated from what they see as the risks in the region — the increased influence of Iran, the growth of Islamic radicalism, the concern that another war in Lebanon or Gaza is not far away.

Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Institute, a research group in Jerusalem, said that when the army prepares for war, it includes in the plan how to handle the possibility of Israeli Arabs rising up against the state.

Many also believe — and here Jews and Arabs seem to agree — that without a solution to the Palestinian dispute over the West Bank and Gaza, internal tensions will not abate. And given the pessimism about the peace talks with the Palestinians, the forecast does not look bright.

For many Israeli Jews who long resisted the idea of a Palestinian state, it was the realization that they were losing the demographic battle to Palestinians that turned them around. But of course the population challenge also comes from Israel’s Arabs.

Israeli Arabs are aware of the contest. And some figure time is on their side.

“Israel is living within the Arab-Islamic circle,” Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement of Israel, said in an interview. “It is important to look at the Jewish percentage in that larger context over the long term.”

Abdulwahab Darawshe, a former member of Israel’s Parliament and the current head of the Arab Democratic Party, sat in his Nazareth office recently and said: “No matter what happens, we will not leave here again. That was a big mistake in 1948. Yet our identity is becoming more and more Palestinian. You cannot cut us from the Arab tree.”

Asked his plans for Israel’s Independence Day, he said, “I will take a shovel and work the land around my olive trees.”

May 7th, 2008, 6:26 pm


Shai said:


No, I do very much agree with you. It’s an illegal and very serious game where, once caught, the price is usually severe. Pollard, Kadish, and anyone else that is willing to play this game, were taking that chance. Friends spying on friends, and getting caught, still pay the price, and they know and knew that. But I still find it rather odd that AIPAC officials could have access to anything of significance, given that they might be very likely (or let’s call it “higher risk”) to pass along information to the Israelis. Again, if an Arab Israeli belonged to the equivalent of AIPAC here in Israel (vis-a-vis Palestine, or Jordan, or Egypt), I doubt he/she would have such access. It seem to be idiotic for the American government to allow this. At best, it is naive, and at worst, irresponsible.

May 7th, 2008, 6:38 pm


abraham said:


You must read the articles I linked to in order to get an idea of what actually happened.

The US government, per se, wasn’t providing AIPAC with doucments. Rather, what can best be described as “neoconservative moles” were the ones passing documents. Namely, Larry Franklin, who is a die-hard Israel supporter working in the Defense Department in the Office of Special Plans (the group that basically fomented in the war in Iraq) was leaking sensitive documents to Rosen and Weissman. Franklin has already plead guilty and is going to act as one of the prosecution’s main witnesses.

Wikipedia has a good summary of Franklin:

There is speculation that Douglas Feith (another prominent neocon) was also leaking information to the Israelis (I’d say it is pretty much a given) along with all the other neocons who held high positions in the Defense Department.

So yes, there was certainly a cabal (and I use that term specifically) within the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, etc. that has been leaking and sharing sensitive information with the Israelis since at least the time G. W. Bush came into office, but they are in violation of laws and strict directives against doing so. AIPAC makes the argument that everyone does it so it can’t be a crime, but there are a great many career US government employees that would beg to differ and view the actions of Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. and their cabal as treason. And believe me, if/when G.W. Bush leaves office, there is going to be hell to pay for a lot of those who sold out our country for Israel.

May 7th, 2008, 6:50 pm


idaf said:


Yes I do like the design of the website you linked to (the official Damascus Capital of Culture portal) better.

However, I was referring to the content and formality rather than the design. The semi-official e-government portals ( and ) are the closest alternative so far for citizens to get official documents and information without the need to go to the ministries and government departments and pay baqshis to the “mukhalles el-mu3amalat” and a petty bribe to that small corrupt government official whose job is withholding information and increasing red-tape until they get a 100 lira.

This is very good step towards transparency and reduction of petty corruption.

May 7th, 2008, 7:00 pm


EHSANI2 said:

IDAF Habibi,

Are you saying that going to the “idaret al-hujra wal jawazat” in Aleppo may never be the same again? Are we going to lose that folklore now? I always loved that old building by the “qalaa” when about 25 people land on your car the minute you open your car door to get out.

“passpor Jdeed, Khrouj, Tamdeed, Khdmet alam ya ustaz?”

I used to love that effcient service. Are you saying that all this is now gone? What are these people going to do instead?

One of the reasons I always loved visiting Syria is because I never needed the web when I was there. It was that human interaction that made my trips so very enjoyable.

E-forms in Syria is something that just does not sound right, am sorry.

May 7th, 2008, 7:11 pm


Shai said:


Well… Whoever plays with fire, has to know he may get burnt…

May 7th, 2008, 7:23 pm


norman said:

UNHCR expresses appreciation for Syria’s effort over Iraqi refugees 2008-05-08 01:02:33 Print

DAMASCUS, May 7 (Xinhua) — A senior official of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday expressed appreciation over Syria’s efforts to alleviate the suffering of Iraqi refugees, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Boudewijn van Eenennaam, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR, made the remarks while meeting Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Mekdad, during which they discussed cooperation between the two sides regarding the Iraqi refugees.

Eenennaam also stressed the need to pool efforts of the international community and donor countries to handle the problems of the refugees and provide support for the Syrian government to help them.

For his part, Mekdad said some international and regional organizations have not fulfilled their responsibilities in delivering support to the refugees.

He reviewed Damascus’ contributions to providing a decent life to the displaced Iraqis, expressing readiness to work with donor countries to supply an optimal living condition for them until they return to their homeland.

Syria is currently hosting about 1.5 million Iraqi refugees.

Editor: Yan Liang

Related Stories

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Copyright ©2003 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

May 7th, 2008, 7:38 pm


Alex said:


I’m glad you are here.

I probably have a different opinion on AIPAC compared to Abraham. I am not American so, the spying activities are not that offensive to me.

But my point is not limited to “AIPAC” and what I would like to see is nothing approaching a call for Banning AIPAC or others.

I am simply alarmed by anyone who considers himself “friend of Israel” who tries to MINIMIZE criticism of Israel and who tries to MAXIMIZE Israel’s influence in the United States… when you try to maximize and you succeed … where do you stop??

President Clinton was a friend of Israel … his aides were selected in a way that really pleased AIPAC (again, quoting ADM) … I have no problem with that much AIPAC “success”.

But they would not stop at that .. the past 7 years of this administration … AIPAC and the other “friends of Israel” got much more “successful” … that group of “friends” is … more and more “successful”… so successful that Colin Powell was furious that sometimes he can not take his own foreign policy decisions (according to Aaron David Miller) and instead he had to tolerate heavy handed interference from Israel’s friends.

All I am saying is that … for the next administration .. I hope they go back to their role during the Clinton years when they were already very happy with his loyalty to Israel.

We don’t need more millions dead in the Middle East because their influence in Washington continues to grow while their wisdom continues to be practically non existent. Anyone who acts like a robot or like a software tool that automatically maximizes a desired output (support for Israel’s policies) and minimizes another non-desirable output (criticism of Israel’s actions), is not to be trusted with that much influence.

May 7th, 2008, 7:40 pm


idaf said:

Come on Ehsani.. I thought you were a bit more progressive 🙂

No the folklore will continue for a long time to come.. I can assure you. This will be one alternative for getting the forms (download and print) for those people who don’t like the “mukhalles el-Mu3amalat” culture.

The percentage of Internet users in Syria is so small that very few people will use the service (even if the government pulled its best awareness campaign).

However, even if this new service picked up and the mukhalles el-Mu3amalat got his own laptop and internet connection next to the government department and started charging people for downloading, filling and printing the forms, there would be a large number of officials in government departments (who have vested interest in the old corrupt and inefficient measures) who will make sure that they will bend the rules and tell you that the form you printed from the website “has changed” or require a “50 lira postage” for supporting the local Shabibeh theatre!

It will take a while and a lot of frustrated people on both sides. This happened almost everywhere e-government services were introduced.

By the way Ehsani, the historic building of “idaret al-hujra wal jawazat” next to the Citadel in Aleppo has moved few years ago. I heard that the historic building is now renovated and will be changed into a boutique hotel. A very strategic location. Most government departments next to el-Qalaa have now moved out and their historic buildings are all being transformed into tourist attractions.

May 7th, 2008, 7:44 pm


EHSANI2 said:

IDAF Habibi,

You are absolutely correct. That specific building is turning into a hotel It was five years ago that I personally thought about this with a friend. I spent one week knocking on every door around that Qalaa trying to buy some of these places. It was a memorable experience. Going into some of these places (some were private homes) was just amazing. The building right across from the Idaret al hujra was the closest to working out. In the end I could not pull the trigger with the amount of time I had. Five years later, it is indeed on the cusp of turning into an amazing touristic attraction (one day). Remind you, the local population will not allow any of these places to serve alcohol. This summer, I sat at one of these places at 11:00 pm facing the majestic Qalaa with its new lighting system. A cold beer is all I thought about. There was simply no way to get one in the entire vicinity. Were a restaurent to serve one, the locals will just not stand for it I was told.

Anyway, sorry for having to go on and on with my personal story but it was your mistake to mention the place!

May 7th, 2008, 7:55 pm


Shai said:


I agree with you – long term it has never been in Israel’s best interest. But, I’m not sure I can even blame the pro-Israel American Jews that achieve this “success” (influence), but rather their bosses, who allow themselves to be influenced. That in general an American Jew would have pro-Israel tendencies is not a huge shock. And if that Jew became Secretary of Defense, one would expect a certain “influence” favoring Israel. My biggest problem has been the almost-blind support any of these (individuals or groups) provide Israel, in Washington. This is harmful to Israel, and to Jews in America and worldwide, much more than helpful. I’d rather know a little less about America’s nuclear submarines, than to take a chance at having some Jewish naval officer caught for spying, and have half the world talking about Jews as being conniving, distrustful spies. And, I’d rather have a U.S. president condemn Israel every now and then for its outrageous policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians, than to always respond with the typical “America is on the side of Israel”. This historical mantra has caused Israel far more damage and hatred than any military operation into Gaza.

May 7th, 2008, 7:59 pm


offended said:

Sorry to go off the topic, but hell’s about to break loose in Lebanon. Things are not looking good. Now the Mufti has hightened the sectarian pitch. What’s next?

May 7th, 2008, 8:03 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alex states matter-of-factly:

We don’t need more millions dead in the Middle East because their [AIPAC] influence in Washington continues to grow while their wisdom continues to be practically non existent.


Speaking of wisdom, AIPAC does not have ONE thing to do with “millions dead in the Middle East”.

Islamic jihadists have more to do with “dead in the Middle East” than AIPAC, the US and the Israeli government combined.

But don’t let the facts cloud your judgement.

Sorry to go off the topic, but hell’s about to break loose in Lebanon.


Don’t worry, when the bodies start to accumulate, we’ll be ready to accept the blame.

May 7th, 2008, 8:07 pm


offended said:

AP said:
Don’t worry, when the bodies start to accumulate, we’ll be ready to accept the blame.

and I don’t expect anything less from you than to accept it..


May 7th, 2008, 8:15 pm


Shai said:


Alex is not suggesting that AIPAC caused the deaths of millions in the Middle East. But he does fear that AIPAC can influence some of these terrible policies, and at times outright reinforce them. If AIPAC was more balanced, it might, for instance, support speaking with Syria (rather than isolating it). By pushing for its continued isolation, it is, in essence, contributing to the continuation of a state of war (and violence) in our region. It isn’t responsible for the state of war – but it is doing the opposite of helping to end it.

May 7th, 2008, 8:19 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Sorry for not replying faster, but I have other interests to pursue besides this blog. Here is Clinton’s account of his meeting with Asad, on March 26, 2000, from his book “My Life, 2004, pp. 903-904”:

On the way home, I flew to Geneva to meet with President Assad. Our team had been working to get Barak to make a specific proposal on Syria for me to present. I knew it wouldn’t be a final offer, and the Syrians would know it, too, but I thought that if Israel finally responded with the same flexiblility the Syrians had shown at Shepherdstown, we might still be able to make a deal. It was not to be.
When I met Assad, he was friendly as I gave him a blue tie with a redline profile of a lion, the English meaning of his name. It was a small meeting:Assad was joined by Foreign Minister Shara and Butheina Shaban; Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross accompanied me, with the National Security Council’s Rob Malley serving as notetaker. After some pleasant small talk, I asked Dennis to spread out the maps I had studied carefully in preparing for our talks.
Compared with his stated position at Shepherdstown, Barak was now willing to accept less land around the lake, though he still wanted a lot, 400 meters; fewer people at the listening station; and a quicker withdrawal period. Assad didn’t want me even to finish the presentation. He became agitated and, contradicting the Syrian position at Shepherdstown, said that he would never cede any of the land, that he wanted to be able to sit on the shore of the lake and put his feet in the water. We tried for two hours to get some traction with the Syrians, all to no avail. The Israeli rebuff in Shepherdstown and the leak of the working document in the Israeli press had embarrassed Assad and destroyed his fragile trust. And his health had deteriorated even more than I knew. Barak had made a respectable offer. It it had come at Shepherdstown, an agreement might have emerged. Now, Assad’s first priority was his son’s
succession, and he had obviously decided that a new round of negotiations, no matter how it came out, could put that at risk. In less than four years, I had seen the prospects of peace between Israel and Syria dashed three times: by terror in Israel and Peres’s defeat in 1996, by the Israeli rebuff of Syrian overtures at Shepherdstown, and by Assad’s preoccupation with his own mortality. After we parted in Geneva, I never saw Assad again.

May 7th, 2008, 8:28 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Thanks for the translation. You make a good go-between.

BTW – Does anyone “…influence some of these terrible policies, and at time outright reinforce them…” in Middle East?

Haval al ha’zman!!

You really want to know what I think? Send me an email and I tell you.

Shai –

I know all about the problems Arabists have with AIPAC. Meanwhile muslims are killing muslims all over the Middle East, and poor AIPAC doesn’t know what to do!

Please help AIPAC Shai!

May 7th, 2008, 8:29 pm


Shai said:


I was not representing (or translating) for Alex. He can speak for himself. I said what I thought of Alex’s “problems” with AIPAC. In all honesty, I would expect him to be much more severe in his thinking about the Jewish lobby in America. But, perhaps surprisingly, Alex is not against AIPAC’s existence, or even successful lobbying in Washington. He is, understandably, fearful of the extent to which AIPAC has been influential, and especially when it comes to Mid-East policy that has brought upon our region terrible suffering in the way it was carried out (e.g. Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, etc.)

May 7th, 2008, 8:38 pm


abraham said:

Alex, once again my last posting must have got sucked into the spam filter. Can you please check?

How many links in a posting is “too many”?

May 7th, 2008, 8:50 pm


abraham said:


I don’t have the time nor frankly the inclination to post the hundreds of links I could easily pull up in a Google search demonstrating and proving AIPACs role in fomenting the current war in Iraq, and the push for war against Iran, Syria and Lebanon. I’m sure you’re at least capable of using Google, so you do that. I’m not your teacher and am not responsible for your education.

Suffice it to say, without AIPAC there would not have been an Iraq war PERIOD.

But seriously, don’t take my word for it:

Google it!

May 7th, 2008, 8:54 pm


Shai said:


I detect a sense of sarcasm, but I don’t seem to understand it. Are you suggesting I should condone AIPAC’s almost automatic support of Israeli policy, regardless of who is at the helm, or what that policy is? I imagine you’re far more capable of criticism of AIPAC than I might even be, seeing as I’m observing it from afar.

May 7th, 2008, 8:56 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Thanks for the extensive quote.
Well, it seems pretty conclusive evidence to me that the negotiations between Syria and Israel did not fail because Barak got cold feet but because Asad decided to stop the process. What do you think?

May 7th, 2008, 8:59 pm


Naji said:

سوريا: هل سيحدث قانون منع الاحتكار فرقاً؟
جوشوا لانديس

في 4 أبريل/نيسان، أقرّت سوريا القانون الخاص بالمنافسة ومنع الاحتكار (القانون رقم 7/2008)، وهو الأول من نوعه في هذا البلد، ويعتبره بعض المراقبين خطوة مهمة نحو الانتقال من الاقتصاد المنظّم إلى اقتصاد السوق. ويأتي قانون منع الاحتكار على أعقاب العديد من القوانين الجديدة التي أُقرّت في الأشهر الماضية، وبينها قانون جديد للتجارة وقانون خاص بالشركات وقانون تحكيم، لتحلّ مكان قوانين تعود إلى عام 1949. والهدف من كل هذه القوانين هو إفساح المجال أمام الاستثمارات الخاصة، بما في ذلك الاستثمارات الأجنبية، وجعل سوريا تنسجم مع الممارسات القانونية والتجارية الدولية.
قال كنعان الأحمر، المحامي السوري الذي أدّى دوراً مهماً في إعداد قانون منع الاحتكار (اضغط هنا للاطلاع على النص الكامل للقانون)، لرئيس تحرير المجلة الاقتصادية الأولى في سوريا “سيريا ريبورت”، جهاد يازجي، إن للقانون خمسة أحكام أساسية:

تُحدَّد أسعار السوق عن طريق المنافسة الحرة باستثناء بعض الحالات المحدّدة. يشير الأحمر إلى أنه قبل صدور القانون، كانت الحكومة هي التي تحدّد الأسعار وتصدر تنظيمات من حين لآخر لتحرير الأسعار؛ أما الآن فقد تبدّل الوضع.
تُمنَع الكارتلات والاتفاقات الأخرى، سواء كانت مكتوبة أو شفوية، التي من شأنها أن تخلّ بالمنافسة الحرة في السوق.
لا يُسمَح لأي كيان اقتصادي إساءة استغلال موقعه المهيمن في السوق.
يُحظّر على التجّار والمصنّعين فرض حد أدنى لأسعار إعادة بيع منتجاتهم/خدماتهم، أو البيع بأسعار أقل من التكلفة، أو التسبّب بخلل في التوريد إلى السوق (بهدف رفع الأسعار).
ينص القانون على إنشاء مجلس المنافسة الذي يمنح الإذن لإجراء أي عملية دمج أو شراء تتجاوز فيها حصة الشركة المعنية 30 في المائة من مجمل معاملات السوق في منتج أو خدمة معيّنة.
لكن ليس هناك قانون أفضل من السلطة التي تشرف عليه وتسهر على تطبيقه. يشرح يازجي أن “نص قانون منع الاحتكار جيد وعصري بقدر أي قانون مماثل في بلد آخر. ساهم هذا القانون والقوانين الأخرى التي أُقرَّت مؤخراً بتحسين كبير في أجواء الأعمال في سوريا. غير أن التطبيق سيطرح مشكلة؛ يجب ألا نتوقّع الكثير في المدى القصير. تعيّن الحكومة معظم الأعضاء في الهيئة المكلّفة الإشراف على تطبيق القانون. بعبارة أخرى، إنه قانون جيد جداً لكنه يتطلّب إصلاحاً سياسياً قبل أن يحقّق الفعالية المطلوبة”.
ستكون للحكومة سيطرة كاملة على مجلس المنافسة المؤلّف من 13 عضواً الذي سيراقب تطبيق القانون. سوف يضمّ المجلس الذي يخضع لرئيس الوزراء، ثمانية خبراء ماليين وقانونيين يختارهم الوزراء ورؤساء اللجان المالية الحكومية، وثلاثة رجال أعمال تختارهم اتحادات غرف التجارة والصناعة، ونقابيَّين أحدهما من الاتحاد العام لنقابات العمال والثاني من الاتحاد العام للفلاحين.
أحد الأسئلة الأساسية المطروحة بشأن القانون الجديد هو كيف سيُطبَّق، أو بالأحرى هل سيُطبَّق على الصناعات التي تسيطر عليها الدولة حالياً. قال رجل أعمال سوري، وهو مدير تنفيذي في وول ستريت لديه مصالح متعدّدة في سوريا “ليست الاحتكارات في القطاع الخاص ما يقلقنا نحن رجال الأعمال؛ بل احتكارات الدولة. تملك الدولة نحو 250 مشروعاً تجارياً مختلفاً تدر حوالي ثمانية منها فقط أرباحاً. وهذه المشاريع هي في صناعات النفط والاتصالات السلكية واللاسلكية. أما المشاريع الأخرى فكلها تقريباً متعثّرة وتنتج الإطارات والجعة والبسكويت والمياه المعبّأة والسجائر… وتطول اللائحة. يريد كل رجال الأعمال الذين أعرفهم الاستثمار في هذه المجالات؛ يمكن جني مبالغ كبيرة لكن يجب أن تتخلّى الدولة أولاً عن احتكاراتها”.
في الوقت نفسه، وعلى الرغم من الإحباط المستمر من الوتيرة البطيئة للتغيير والوطأة الثقيلة للدولة، يعتبر رجال أعمال سوريون كثيرون أن الحكومة تسلك المسار الصحيح. قال أحد رجال الأعمال “إن كان من أمر قام به بشار، فهو تغيير بعض القوانين البالية والسخيفة”. وفتح الرئيس الأسد أيضاً العديد من الصناعات الإستراتيجية – المصارف والتأمين والإعلان – أمام الرساميل الخاصة. وكان تجاوب المستثمرين في هذه الصناعات جيداً جداً. فقد كان هناك إقبال شديد على عروض الشراء العامة التي أطلقتها المصارف الجديدة التي دخلت السوق السورية. فعندما دخل بنك عودة السوق السورية عام 2005، بلغت نسبة الاكتتاب في عرض الشراء العام 988 في المائة. ونظّم فرنسبنك الذي هو آخر المصارف التي تفتتح لها فرعاً في سوريا، عرض شراء عام في مارس/آذار الماضي بلغت نسبة الاكتتاب فيه 250 في المائة من قيمة العرض.
أثار نجاح القطاع المالي شهية المستثمرين الإقليميين. صحيح أنه لم يتّضح بعد إذا كان قانون منع الاحتكار والقوانين الجديدة الأخرى ستُطبَّق كما يجب، إلا أنها نجحت في توليد انطباع بأن المناخ في سوريا بات مؤاتياً للاستثمار. غير أن رجال الأعمال يعون جيداً المخاطر التي يمكن أن يواجهوها في بيئة ملتبسة كهذه. بدأ عرض للاستثمار في مشروع جديد في سوريا بقيمة 50 مليون دولار، بالتحذير الآتي “هذا العرض مخصّص للمستثمرين ذوي الإمكانات المتطوّرة الذين يستطيعون في أسوأ الحالات تحمّل خسارة الاستثمار بكامله”. الاستثمار في سوريا لا يناسب ضعيفي القلوب.

جوشوا لانديس هو أحد مديري مركز الدراسات الشرق الأوسطية في جامعة أوكلاهوما.

May 7th, 2008, 9:12 pm


Shai said:


I disagree. George W. had an old score to settle, and he didn’t need AIPAC to help him start the war. From what I recall, the initial “intelligence” that linked Iraq to Al Qaeda and WMD’s came not from the U.S. but from Britain. A scientist-advisor there misled MI6 about the existence of nuclear-grade material in Africa, that can be used in a “dirty bomb”. The Brits shared it with CIA, and the ball kept rolling.

May 7th, 2008, 9:14 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Let’s hope the process be resuscitated soon enough for the good of the region.

May 7th, 2008, 9:14 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If we could all agree what the “good” of the region is, we would have had peace long ago.

May 7th, 2008, 9:20 pm


Zenobia said:

no. Barak got cold feet at offering what was required for Assad to accept. Meaning he was ready to and then retreated.

May 7th, 2008, 9:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Many AIPAC haters are stuck with this fallacy:
If AIPAC supported the war then AIPAC caused the war.

The reasoning is as follows:
AIPAC is omnipotent. AIPAC is rational. Why then would not an omnipotent entity that is rational bring about it own goals?

Yes, AIPAC supported the war in Iraq but so did most Americans in the beginning. There was no need to lobby for it and it was not caused by AIPAC. Bush and the Republicans got the Democrats on board. AIPAC played no part.

May 7th, 2008, 9:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Barak negotiated tough. He was using a negotiation tactic on Asad. Asad did it a million times in his life and is considered a hero for it. But when Barak does it you complain.

You get to peace by slogging through a tough negotiation. A negotiation means that both sides have to compromise, not that Asad stays put and the others compromise.

The bottom line: Barak was willing to continue the process, Asad wasn’t.

May 7th, 2008, 9:30 pm


Shai said:


Good Afternoon (I guess, right?) Remind me why we’re regurgitating over and over again who did what in the past, and who’s fault it was, or wasn’t? This exercise is truly useless, in my mind, because it doesn’t help us move forward. Bashar has been, for all practical purposes, almost “begging” Israel through every channel possible to come back to the table, and to make peace with Syria. What MORE can we ask of Syria? To stop shooting (via HA/Hamas)? We can’t do that, not while we’re still enemies. To promise in advance that Bashar won’t play with his feet in the waters of the Kineret? We also can’t do that, because it needs to be agreed upon in direct talks, not via Turkish coffee-and-cable. If Barak was our PM now, ok, I understand bringing him up. But trust me, he is not, won’t be, and knows it better than both of us. We need to talk about Olmert, and quite honestly, Netanyahu.

But, I won’t pretend to do that now… mainly because it’s time to call it a night. For me at least. So enjoy your discussions with everyone here, and I’ll check up on SC tomorrow. Ciao from the “peaceful” ME… 😉

May 7th, 2008, 9:33 pm


Shai said:


I tend to agree with you, but you do understand Alex’s concerns over AIPAC’s influence, don’t you? I too believe that innate and almost-automatic support of Israeli policy, is not in Israel’s best interest. We need to see a more balanced approach, so that AIPAC will truly be respected and not suspected. It is not only influence that AIPAC can bring about, it is also hatred and distrust. We need the first, but not the latter.

May 7th, 2008, 9:37 pm


Zenobia said:

um. yes.
I didn’t bring anything up. i was just piping in. but it is not that important. I think i only said it cause there is this image of the syrian leaders and other arab leaders as they will never budge or they are disingenious in their overtures, and that is not true. I think there are more instances where the Israelis have had to come to the table under pressure when they really didn’t want to and had no intention of making concessions. That was in the past anyway. Obviously Arafat screwed up royally too. And so, we do need to move forward to more brave and honest efforts.

We will see. i agree that Barak was negotiating. There has been a lot of negotiating for forty years. and non-negotiating, and halting and backing out… etc etc.

yes it is more important to learn from all that and move forward to more authentic negotiations where people aren’t pussing footing around.

i really want to put my feet in the Kineret actually. I am ready.
I guess if i get desperate, I can take my passport and go from the other side. although with this name, I am not sure the Israelis are going to let me in, american or no american.

May 7th, 2008, 9:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

By definition, lobbys fall on a certain side of an issue. I understand Alex’s concerns but I just don’t understand his repsonse. You are not happy with the NRA, you don’t tell them to stop supporting guns. You start an anti-gun lobby. That is how the system works. You don’t like the neo-cons? Start an anti-neocon lobby. There must be a huge number of Americans who would support and fund that. You want a pro-palestinian lobby? Create one, I am sure that there are Americans that would fund it and be happy to work there like Abraham.

The way Alex talks about AIPAC makes me suspicious that he thinks AIPAC is a special case that needs to be handled differently from other lobbies. He is not proposing the obvious solution.

May 7th, 2008, 9:49 pm


ausamaa said:

AIG says: “The way Alex talks about AIPAC makes me suspicious that he thinks AIPAC is a special case that needs to be handled differently from other lobbies.”

Hell, Alex must be very very naive. AIPAC falls in the same lobbying catagory as Green Peace and Save the Dolphins lobbies!

AIG and Akbar Palce,have you really given any serious thought to seeking professional medical help? Professional psychaiatric help I mean.

If not for your own sake then for ours; as you seem to care so much about Syrians.

May 7th, 2008, 10:09 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I disagree. George W. had an old score to settle, and he didn’t need AIPAC to help him start the war. From what I recall, the initial “intelligence” that linked Iraq to Al Qaeda and WMD’s came not from the U.S. but from Britain. A scientist-advisor there misled MI6 about the existence of nuclear-grade material in Africa, that can be used in a “dirty bomb”. The Brits shared it with CIA, and the ball kept rolling.

Hmmmm Shai do you claim that Israel and AIPAC’s leading members had no or little role in the propaganda war against Iraq and in faking evidence? Israelis and pro-Israelis were “dancing” after the Iraq war started, as some Israelis danced in New York watching 911.

Moran Down: The Groups Who Cried Anti-Semitism

In September 2002, before Congress had begun considering the administration’s proposal authorizing force with Iraq, Rebecca Needler, a spokeswoman for AIPAC, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “If the president asks Congress to support action in Iraq, AIPAC would lobby members of Congress to support him.” Then at an AIPAC meeting in New York in January 2003, before the war began, but after Congress had voted to authorize Bush to go to war, Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, boasted of AIPAC’s success in lobbying for the war. Reported the New York Sun, “According to Mr. Kohr, AIPAC’s successes over the past year also include guaranteeing Israel’s annual aid package and ‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq.” (AIPAC’s spokesman Josh Block insists that the organization did no lobbying and that Kohr was misquoted.)

Most of the guys behind the war were known pro-Israelis and many of them Jews. If they were not directly members of AIPAC they certainly were supporting the lobby’s strange “ideology”.

Naturally Israel and AIPAC try to erase their role in the Iraq war so much as possible. It would not be very wise if Olmert would give a photo to Bush with the text: “Thanks dude for starting our war against Iraq. Hope you have time for our war against Iran.” (Do you Shai remember that dude photo of Bush given to Olmert) 🙂

May 7th, 2008, 10:34 pm


Enlightened said:

Article from Asad Abu Khalils website: (Angry Arab quite ironic if you read below)

Reporters First Hand account of what they witnessed in Lebanon:

A Western reporter in Lebanon sent me this (he does not want his name mentioned) (he is relatively new to Lebanon and it shows at a point or two–like Amal militia has a long history in thuggishness and yet it used to complain about PLO thuggishness): “spent the entire day running around all the flashpoints in beirut, wherever there were mobs, shootings, explosions, i got harassed by various militias from both sides, but i was really shocked at the behavior of amal. i’ve spent a lot of time with mustaqbal militiamen, who of course are thuggish and racist and their militias are getting better organized, and thats all frightening, but they seem very weak and almost cowardly when compared with the amal thugs i saw today, who were very provocative. it had nothing to do with the labor union strike for them, it was just a show of force to specifically intimidate sunnis. even in iraq i havent seen this kind of anti sunni sectarianism, its couched in anti baathi or anti wahabi language. obviously i’ve seen anti shiite sectarianism all over the place among sunnis in the region they had switch blades, clubs, and they even had small molotov cocktail bottles in their pockets in case they needed them. they threw stones at the army without provocation, and the army was basically letting them do whatever they wanted, and proved how weak it was, the army guys were begging the amal and hizballah guys to behave basically. it was clear today how pathetically weak the lebanese army and police are. in most cases they just stood by and watched as protesters did whatever they wanted, in other cases, depending on their affiliation, they actually physically helped both sunni and shiite militias. when the amal guys threw stones at the soldiers, all some of the soldiers did was throw them back when the call to prayer started from the sunni mosque across the street in tariq al jadida, the amal guys started shouting various religious shiite slogans, insulting sunnis etc. it was quite obvious that the hizballah men present were controlling them when they looked like they were about to cross to the sunni side. it was as if hizballah has these amal pitbulls who are just foaming at the mouth eager to attack and kill, and hizballah is letting them bark and bite a little, to show the other side that its holding the leash and can let go at any time and the amal pitbulls would destroy anything in their way, which it was very clear they wanted to do this country is so fucked, the sunni militias now run checkpoints and demand IDs and act just like shiite militias”

May 7th, 2008, 11:27 pm


abraham said:

Well, AIG and AP, I think you’ll be alarmed to learn that I just had a friendly discussion about the Middle East with a random Jewish guy I bumped into. I didn’t murder him. I didn’t strap a bomb to my body and blow him up. In fact, I don’t think I even instilled any fear into him, despite the fact that I haven’t shaved for a few days and I look like a stereotypical TV jihadi. In fact, he went away with the last word and a smile.

I was talking to my friend behind where I have my office and the topic of the Middle East came up. Since we’re friendly I began telling him the same kind of stuff I normally say here, basically trying to correct his misconceptions. I think he was trying to end the conversation when suddenly his client came walking out the door because he had been listening from inside. He was an old hippy Jew I guess from the long gray hair and also from the fact that he wasn’t a frothing at the mouth zionist.

We had a nice friendly conversation in which we agreed on some things and disagreed on many, but it was certainly cordial and we even exchanged handshakes and names (his was Eliot) at one point.

So I don’t know, AIG/AP, does that sound like the kind of Jew-hater you often accuse me of being?

Eliot’s underlying conclusion was basically, look, over human history wars have been fought and land has exchanged hands and time has gone on and what can you do? What is, is. And I agree! I must say I am a lover of history and I fully acknowledge that this happens. But, I think where Eliot is missing the point is that the Palestinians are still there. They didn’t go away. They are waiting for when they can finally come home. His counter-argument was that most of the original refugees are dead. I told him that’s not the case, and in any event there are still a large number of first generation exiles and even second generation and they all want to go back too. They don’t want to live in a refugee camp in country that doesn’t want them anyway. He then brought up the fact that many Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations and Israel absorbed them. I acknowledged that this was shameful of the Arabs and I regret that this happened, but that those people have every right to go back to their countries of origin and take back their homes and businesses and land and that in any final peace agreement this should be part of the deal (for those that want to, just like not all Palestinians would want to return to Israel/Palestine).

What I re-iterated to him above all else is that the war never ended, and the Palestinians are still there, and they still want to go back home. I expressed to him my belief that the only solution is a one state for one people solution (i.e. a true democracy) and that Israel is rotting from within because no country can long sustain an occupation of another people. He didn’t have a response to that. I think maybe (hopefully) I left him thinking.

May 8th, 2008, 12:01 am


abraham said:

Shai, I am as equally convinced that AIPAC had a hand in instigating the war as you are that they did not, so I don’t think we need to bother to argue over that. I have read a lot of reliable information from normally extremely reliable people and journalists from which I base my judgements. I invite you to follow the links that I posted if you are inclined although it is a lot of reading, but it is eye opening.

May 8th, 2008, 12:03 am


Shual said:

… And the Arab monarchies save a lot of money with those very cheap “The Jews – AIPAC – All Jews – Not the jews I know, but the Jews are responsible”-Activists. Nobody askes the Saudis about their involvement in the Iraq-war and they have not to pay a bunch of analysts to deny any accusation.

@ Shai

Rowan [] told me [?] to tell you that you please contact him. I don’t know why, but please do it, cause … the LAMAFOTNHD [Left And Mean Activist Front Of The Northern Harrier District] want to show that they have influence in people, too.

May 8th, 2008, 12:21 am


Enlightened said:


Don’t waste your breath on them (AIG), you dont need to convince anyone that YOU ARE ANTI JEWISH, it is a figment of AIG’s imagination.

There is a clear distinction between Anti Zionist and Anti Jewish, From AIG statements about beating your wife, circumsizing your daughters, killing your sister for having pre marital sex etc, surely you must be drawn to the conclusion that you are not dealing with a rational human being, but one that is more bigoted than any “framed” anti semite like you is (lol)

May 8th, 2008, 12:22 am


abraham said:

Enlightened, I expressed my opinion that AIG is a paranoid lunatic several days ago. Alex deleted the first comment but I followed up insisting that I am serious, and I am. I am truly convinced that he has an unnatural paranoia towards Arabs which I believe is the cause of his fear and hatred of Arabs.

Lo, even Eliot talked about how Israelis are fearful of suffering through another episode like the Holocaust. I asked him that if the Israelis were guaranteed 100% that no harm would ever come to them and it would be backed up the international community, would Israelis finally feel comfortable giving up Israel to a one-state solution? I never got an answer from him unfortunately because the conversation had to be cut short.

But this really is, I believe, the underlying cause of Israeli fear & loathing. They need to understand that the people who want to push all the Jews into the sea and all that crap are the extremists. It would be like assuming Ariel Sharon and Avigdor Lieberman represent all Jews, or that people like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee represent all Americans.

Jews need to re-learn how to trust humanity and not buy into all the nonsense propoaganda that zionists have been spreading for the past century. Yes, it’s a dangerous world, for everyone, not just for Jews (and no one knows this better than the Palestinians who have been all but abandoned at this point), but they have used fear and hatred as a tool to promote their agenda for so long now many Jews have an almost innate complex of having the whole world against them, which is nonsense. It is also why they can’t see how hurtful their own actions are…they are too scared to realize that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself.

May 8th, 2008, 12:35 am


Enlightened said:

Abraham Said:

“But this really is, I believe, the underlying cause of Israeli fear & loathing. They need to understand that the people who want to push all the Jews into the sea and all that crap are the extremists. It would be like assuming Ariel Sharon and Avigdor Lieberman represent all Jews, or that people like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee represent all Americans.”

Well said.

I might add I addendum to this fear. The re percussions of The Iraq war and the ascent of the so called rejectionists (particularly Iran) is also being pushed as an existentialist threat.

I think Nasser’s original comment about “driving the Jews” into the Sea was more rhetorical than a plan that he could carry out and execute. If you look at the history of Arab confrontation towards Israel, The Arabs have never stood a chance, and this threat from the Arabs always seems to be existential. The military competence of the Arabs post independence (apart from 73) has been laughable from any military analysts point of view.

Its true they are too scared to realize that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself, but there is fear and loathing on both sides of the fence.

May 8th, 2008, 12:56 am


norman said:

The problem with AIPAC is that the arrogance that they use and their push to control congress will eventually lead to hatred of the Jews and will increase antisemitism in the US , then may be that what they want , They want to push further immigration to Israel from the US .

May 8th, 2008, 1:26 am


norman said:

This Interesting and sad,

Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, tooAuthor: Ray Hanania (Palestine/USA) – May 7, 2008This week I got a chance to meet a Christian Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, Nadia Hilou (Hilo). She is a member of the labor Party, and is the only Christian Arab woman, one of 17 total women, and one of two Arab Christians in the Israeli parliament. Nadia was the guest on my radio show in Chicago (RadioChicagoland). The segment interviews are podcast through a lot of sites including iTunes. (The link is on the web site).
She has an interesting story to tell about the challenges she faces as a Christian Palestinian in a Jewish and Islamic World, in the Middle East and as an Arab living in Israel. What’s amazing about her is that she was elected not from a “quota” seat which is the only way Christians can ever be elected in the Arab World — including in Jordan where my cousin has held a seat in the Jordanian Senate, in a seat reserved for Christians — but rather as a candidate appealing to a broad constituency that include some Christian Arab Israelis, some more Muslim Arab Israelis and a a majority of Israeli Jews. She still won a seat and maybe she foretells the future of “Democratic” Israel.
Most Arabs cannot win in Israeli elections unless they run on Arab lists in Arab regions. Israeli Jews will not vote for them, reflecting Israel’s Jewish society which seeks to exclude Christian and Muslim citizens. But that’s no different than the traditions in the Arab World, Look at Iraq. If President Bush had an ounce of intelligence in his brain — he doesn’t, although he has become more compassionate towards the Palestine-Israel conflict, although it has taken 7 years — he would have recopgnized that you can’t bring Democracy to Iraq. Sunnis vote for Sunnis’ Shi’ites vote for Shi’ites. Assyrians vote for Assyrians. Turkomen vote for Turkomen. Kurds vote for Kurds and so on. It’s a fact of life in the Arab World too, and in Palestine, the cloests thing the Arabs have to a “Democracy” — it’s as much a Democracy as is Israel.
I hope you enjoy it. And if I can figure out how to place it on our MEY podcasts, I’ll try.
Also, I think that for Christian Arabs is that Jews often embrace them more than Muslims. As a Christian Arab comedian, for example, I am excluded from the Muslim Comedy circuit and from the activist comedy circuit, partly because of my “moderate” views which the other comedians either do not want to address (because it’s bad for their careers) or they disagree with. I understand that. But Christian Arabs are excluded from almost every aspect these days of the Muslim Arab society.
Secular Arabs are being eclipsed by the Islamic activists and today’s Muslim, who, it seems, focuses on him or herself rather than on the larger Arab Nation. Arab Nationalism has been replaced by Islamicism. Christian Arabs are marginalized, patronized and exploited mainly to score points against Israel.
And the mainstream American media, including even places like the so-called “progressive” Public Television also has pushed aside Arab Christians, and that is an amazing thing ocnsidering that American Christians essential are the descendents of Palestinian Christians. One day Arab Christians will eventually disappear. And that’s bad news for Christianity, the Arab World and especially for Israel.
Ray Hanania
(I also now write for The

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3 Responses to “Christian Arabs threatened from all sides — Israel, Middle East, Arab and Islamic Worlds, too”
On 07.05.08 at 15:00 MDT
Danial Wrote:
“Also, I think that for Christian Arabs is that Jews often embrace them more than Muslims. As a Christian Arab comedian, for example, I am excluded from the Muslim Comedy circuit and from the activist comedy circuit, partly because of my “moderate” views which the other comedians either do not want to address (because it’s bad for their careers) or they disagree with. I understand that. But Christian Arabs are excluded from almost every aspect these days of the Muslim Arab society.”
Maybe because it’s called “Muslim Comedy” for a reason. I wouldn’t want to join a “Christian Arab” comedy circuit since I know and respect the fact that it’s for Christian Arabs only.
If it was just “Arab”, then I could understand and criticize the exclusion. But come on, you’re grasping for straws here.
You’re greatly exaggerating all of this Muslim-Christian conflict within the Arab world. Do you want to be like the Maronites now, like Brigitte Gabriel?
On 07.05.08 at 17:11 MDT
Ray Hanania Wrote:
It is a fact that many Muslims refuse to address that Christians are abused in the Islamic and the Arab World. I think you missed the point, but I don’t think your intention was to address the point. The hostilities between Christian Arabs and Muslim Arabs are a fact of life that people like you would like us to not address because it undermines your “cause” against Israel.
We used to all be Arabs. That is the point you conveniently miss in my comments, and of course, take them out of context.
If anything is greatly exxagerated, it is the pressure to prevent Christian Arabs from expressing their views about these issues without being ostracized or intimidated.
Ray Hanania
On 07.05.08 at 17:00 MDT
Ray Hanania Wrote:
PS “Danial” … are you also slandering all Maronites? Because they are Christian Arabs from Lebanon who are also abused? So I guess they have no rights either?
Ray Hanania
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May 8th, 2008, 1:38 am


SOL said:


“but you do understand Alex’s concerns over AIPAC’s influence, don’t you? ”

Like many people I understand you find Aipac’s positions short-sighted and damaging. But do you have any idea how a lobby works? They are not meant to be fair and balanced. The Tobacco Lobby doesn’t give you information on the harmful effects of cigarettes, it’s sole purpose is to promote tobacco interests. It would be absurd for those of us who oppose smoking to expect the Tobacco Lobby to have a more “balanced approach”. The American-Arab Institute is a Arab-American lobby,, is their website more balanced then Aipac’s website,

Shai, like you I believe in peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution but that doesn’t mean you have to be an apologist for every absurd and exaggerated claim. Believe in peace and the legitimate rights of the Palestinians but not at the expense of honesty and common sense

May 8th, 2008, 1:47 am


abraham said:

Sol, you still don’t understand. AIPAC is undermining its goals by being “too” successful. I guarantee you that a lot of Americans are very leery over the power that AIPAC holds over Washington. There’s a lot of whispering going on out of earshot. That’s why your ears are constantly burning.

AIPAC wields unnatural control over our entire government. No politician (except for Ron Paul) is willing to express any position against Israeli policy or else they know they’ll get the smackdown by AIPAC. Many retired politicians have come forward to acknowledge this, including Paul Findlay who runs Council for the National Interest.

May 8th, 2008, 2:01 am


SOL said:


“AIPAC is undermining its goals by being “too” successful.”

More than $62 million in California alone was spent in the November 2006 election by the tobacco interests on the opposition campaign to Proposition 86 (Tobacco Products Tax Initiative), which would have raised the tax on cigarettes by $2.60/pack. Proposition 86 was defeated by a vote of 51.7 to 48.3 percent. (Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 10 different cancers, and accounts for some 30% of all cancer deaths. And it costs billions of dollars each year.)

According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, congressmen are outnumbered two to one by the pharmaceutical lobby that spends roughly $100 million a year in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses to protect its profits.

Are you equally outraged by other lobby organizations that are “too” successful? Are the tobacco lobby and pharmaceutical lobby also undermining their goals?

May 8th, 2008, 2:41 am


Enlightened said:


Nice analogy, good point, I take it that Death by stealth (The Tobacco lobby ) is very similar to AIPAC.

The Tobacco lobby however does not indirectly support the following:

Starting and promoting War
Theft of land and rights)
Indirectly perpetuating a conflict,
Supporting a State that demolishes houses and subjugates one of its indigenous populations and other abuses

I can go on!

But what is the point, it is suceesfull and achieving its aims!

May 8th, 2008, 3:12 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Jews shouldn’t be too successful in Hollywood, people already are talking about how the Jews control Hollywod and you need to be careful.
Jews shouldn’t be too successful in Wall Street because Americans are not happy with it.
Etc. Etc.
Of course Jews should’t also lobby succesfully for they will be resented.

This is how the argument against AIPAC is starting to look to me.

You don’t like AIPAC, create a lobby to work against it, call it the anti neo-con lobby or whatever. Jews have heard the “limit yourself or others will get angry” crap before and we are not taking it anymore.

May 8th, 2008, 4:10 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ: Israel at 60: So vilified, yet so deserving of praise
Christian Science Monitor

Cambridge, Mass. –As Israel celebrates 60 years of nationhood this Thursday, and looks ahead to the next 60 years, the world should appreciate what the Jewish state has accomplished.

Built on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel’s birth was followed by a massive attack from all sides by the surrounding Arab nations. Threatening another genocide, they managed to kill 1 percent of Israel’s population, but Israel survived – and even thrived.

In the years since, the Jewish nation has turned deserts into gardens, swamps into orchards, sand dunes into cities. Lacking the natural resources of its neighbors, Israel made the best of what it had. It became a high-tech giant, specializing in life-saving medical technology. Indeed, it ranks second only to the United States in NASDAQ listings.

Faced with barren land, Israel has also developed agricultural technologies that maximize food production, and exported these life-saving and life-enhancing technologies to the rest of the world.

This young nation has also produced more art, literature, music, academic articles, and books than most countries triple its size. As Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in an otherwise critical article in The Atlantic:

“Israel is, by almost any measure, an astonishing success. It has a large, sophisticated, and growing economy … the finest universities and medical centers in the Middle East; and a main city, Tel Aviv, that is a center of art, fashion, cuisine, and high culture spread along a beautiful Mediterranean beach. Israel has shown itself, with notable exceptions, to be adept at self-defense, and capable (albeit imperfectly) of protecting civil liberties during wartime…. Zionism may actually be the most successful national liberation movement of the 20th century.”

Israel’s Arab citizens, numbering 1.2 million, live longer, healthier lives, and have lower infant mortality, better educational opportunities, and more basic liberties than the Arab population of neighboring states.

Even in its efforts to defend itself from aggression – it was attacked by Arab states in 1948, 1967, and 1973 – Israel has exemplified restraint and high ethical standards.

Although Tel Aviv was bombed by the Egyptian Air Force in 1948, Jerusalem was rocketed by Jordan in 1967, and several Israeli cities were threatened by Syria in 1967, Israel never bombed Cairo, Amman, or Damascus. (It did attack terrorist bases in the suburbs of Beirut in 2006.)

In its efforts to protect against terrorists, it has also complied with a high standard of human rights, even while its enemies have targeted Israeli civilians while deliberately hiding behind human shields in densely populated civilian areas.

When I speak at university campuses, I issue the following challenge: Name a country, faced with comparable threats to its own citizens, that has ever tried harder to comply with the rule of law or human rights than Israel.

No one has ever named such a country, nor could they. Certainly not the United States, which repeatedly bombed enemy cities (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo, Cologne). Certainly not Britain, which in addition to bombing cities fought one of the dirtiest colonial wars in Kenya. Certainly not France, which also fought a brutal colonial war in Algeria. Not Russia. Not China.

This is not to say that Israel’s actions have always been commendable. They have not. Israel deserves perhaps a grade of B-minus, but in a world where ‘C,’ ‘D,’ and ‘F’ is common, that’s pretty good.

Yet, despite this remarkable history of achievement, not only for its own people, but for the world in general, Israel remains a pariah nation.

It is reviled by the United Nations, which helped create it, and by a large number of the world’s countries and people. It has been condemned by the General Assembly more than all the other nations of the world combined – a world that includes such tyrannies as North Korea, Iran, Cuba, China, Syria, Libya, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia. It has been subject to calls for academic boycotts, despite having one of the highest levels of academic freedom in the world. It has been threatened with divestment, though it exports more life-saving technology per capita than any nation on earth.

What explains this vast disparity between Israel’s accomplishments and the near-universal condemnation it has received? When one of the world’s best nations is condemned as the worst, we must consider the motives of those who are condemning.

Let me be crystal clear: I am not suggesting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. To the contrary, criticism of Israeli policies and actions is healthy. I have been on the forefront of criticizing Israel for establishing civilian settlements on the West Bank. Within Israel itself, criticisms of Israeli policies and actions are pervasive. Just read the Israeli press. Or attend the numerous antigovernment demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What I am talking about is not criticism of Israel but rather demonization, delegitimization, and disproportionate attacks that go to the very essence of the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

Consider the following question: Would any other country that struggles so hard for its survival, while at the same time trying so hard to remain within the rule of law, be subject to the kind of irrational hatred to which the Jewish nation is exposed? Is the Jewish nation now being treated with the same irrationality with which “the Jews” have been treated for centuries? This is the daunting question that must be faced by those who single out Israel for unique condemnation as it celebrates 60 years of unequaled accomplishments.

Imagine how much more Israel could contribute to the welfare of the world during the next 60 years if it were blessed with peace and were allowed to turn its swords into plowshares!

May 8th, 2008, 4:21 am


Enlightened said:

“Let me be crystal clear: I am not suggesting that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. To the contrary, criticism of Israeli policies and actions is healthy. I have been on the forefront of criticizing Israel for establishing civilian settlements on the West Bank. Within Israel itself, criticisms of Israeli policies and actions are pervasive. Just read the Israeli press. Or attend the numerous antigovernment demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”

I applaud Dershowitz and ask if he can tutor the Junior Zionists on this site to learn the difference between what is Ant Semitic and legitimate criticism of Israel , and not to confuse the two

May 8th, 2008, 4:31 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You forgot the end of the paragraph:
“What I am talking about is not criticism of Israel but rather demonization, delegitimization, and disproportionate attacks that go to the very essence of the legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

First accept a Jewish state in the middle east and then feel free to criticize it because you want to make it better. But since you don’t want to improve the Jewish state, you want to dismantle and destroy it why are you bothering criticizing it? According to you and Abraham nothing can make Israel better because Zionizm is a bad idea at its core.

May 8th, 2008, 4:40 am


Enlightened said:

Provide One reference where I have “Demonized” Israel: ( Another AIG figment of imagination moment)

I want Israel to survive as a State, there is nothing I have said, that demonizes Israels right to exist as a State,

Provide the reference where I have demonized Israel’s right to exist.

Otherwise stop spewing your hatred, the only racist and bigot here is you and there are plenty of examples that we have witnessed.

May 8th, 2008, 4:48 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Are you not for the one state solution which means the end of the Jewish state?

May 8th, 2008, 4:52 am


Enlightened said:


But I am glad you asked!

May 8th, 2008, 4:54 am


abraham said:

Sol said:

Are you equally outraged by other lobby organizations that are “too” successful? Are the tobacco lobby and pharmaceutical lobby also undermining their goals?

Might I remind you that the tobacco industry pretty much has lost its clout? Also, for a politician, it’s far easier to defend one’s vote against tobacco than it is against Israel.

May 8th, 2008, 8:20 am


abraham said:

First accept a Jewish state in the middle east and then feel free to criticize it because you want to make it better. But since you don’t want to improve the Jewish state, you want to dismantle and destroy it why are you bothering criticizing it? According to you and Abraham nothing can make Israel better because Zionizm is a bad idea at its core.

Oh, blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Look, first accept an Abraham state in your house where I control the front door, the back door, the living room, dining room, master bedroom, the fireplace, the spa, and the kitchen, and relegate you to the basement, and then feel free to complain about attacks against the state of Israel itself.

And yes, thank you for finally acknowledging that zionism is a bad idea. And I accept your apology.

May 8th, 2008, 8:24 am


Akbar Palace said:

Alex stated:

We don’t need more millions dead in the Middle East because their influence in Washington continues to grow while their wisdom continues to be practically non existent.

Shai responds:

But he does fear that AIPAC can influence some of these terrible policies, and at times outright reinforce them.

Are you suggesting I should condone AIPAC’s almost automatic support of Israeli policy, regardless of who is at the helm, or what that policy is?


cc: Alex

No. What I’m suggesting is that both you and Alex spend an equal amount of your time addressing those who are actually creating the “millions dead” that Alex brought up.

Alex seems to blame AIPAC (if you bothered to read his comment). And we know it is the Islamic fundamentalists that he supports that are killing most muslims in the Middle East.

Perhaps you and Alex can spend some of your energies criticizing governments like Syria and Iran who are funding these murderers.

If you both can’t bring yourself to do that, then, IMHO, your argument is hollow.

May 8th, 2008, 10:50 am


abraham said:

Yes, AP, let’s play blame the victim. Why did the Jews let themselves be Holocausted anyway? What was their problem?

May 8th, 2008, 3:47 pm


Shai said:


I’m not “as convinced” of AIPAC officials role, or not, in regards to the Iraq war. I simply am very ignorant about the issue, I must admit. I started reading the links you provided.


Unfortunately, I’m sure there were many that celebrated the war on Iraq (and still do). People like that are short-sighted, believe in a world of black-or-white, us-versus-them, good-versus-evil. And, again unfortunately, they’ve obviously caused a widespread identification of the war with the Jewish community. Something that is NOT in our interest. By the way, was that “dude” comment really given to Olmert from Bush? I wouldn’t be surprised…


If I seemed an apologist for anyone, or anything, I apologize… 😉 You’ve probably followed some of my comments enough to see that I try to apologize for mainly only one thing on SC, and that is the ongoing suffering my nation is causing upon the Palestinian people. I’m not apologizing for Israel’s preemptive strikes in 1967, for conquering the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan in that war, for holding on to the Sinai until negotiating its return to Egypt in return for peace, and many other things that have happened since the birth of Israel 60 years ago. I don’t know very much about AIPAC and, while in the U.S., was never a member of AIPAC or affiliated with anyone close to them, so I certainly cannot be apologetic for that PAC either. I know about lobbying groups, and I know what their goals are. I don’t expect AIPAC to suddenly become a Syrian regime supporter. But I do expect AIPAC not to support a policy of continued suffocation of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. I don’t expect AIPAC to organize an anti-Israel march on the Mall in Washington, but I do expect it to pressure current administration officials both in Jerusalem AND in Washington, to choose a different path. Doing so would not make it anti-Israel, perhaps the opposite. A group can disagree with a particular policy carried out by a particular leader, or particular party, at a particular point in time. That doesn’t say it is starting to market the negative side-effects of tobacco. Imagine the NRO supported automatically EVERY case in court against gun-use, regardless of the case. It would not be looked upon the same way, nor respected. I much prefer an AIPAC in America (for Israel’s best interests) that is supported by Congress and the Administration out of agreement and respect, rather than out of fear.


We know Alex, and you guys know him even better than I do. He’s voiced his opinion of AIPAC numerous times at least in the past few months. He never called for its extinction, nor even for its unsuccessful lobbying in DC. I rather believe he very much respects the accomplishment of the Jewish community in creating such a PAC over the years. But we cannot dismiss his concerns (which should be ours as well) that AIPAC can, and has, supported policies in the ME, which were terrible policies. From his point of view, having such an influential group support the war in Iraq is horrific. From our point of view, linking the Jewish community and the war in Iraq is likewise problematic. AP, I know what he said about the “millions dead”. But surely you do not believe Alex blames those deaths on AIPAC, do you? He blames the U.S. administration which was, amongst others, influenced by particular officials or supporters linked to AIPAC. It wasn’t influenced solely by AIPAC, or mostly by AIPAC, but also by AIPAC. I don’t know the extent, which may be small, or as large as Abraham suggests. But undoubtedly, there was influence. For us, is that a good thing? I believe not. If there are particular benefits Israel gets from the destruction of certain capabilities of Saddam’s, let this discussion occur between Israel’s PM and the American President. Not between AIPAC officials and Neocon advisors. Because these things come out, and when they do, it sure stinks bad.

May 8th, 2008, 6:01 pm


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