New Books by Evelyn Shakir, Keith Watenpaugh, and Sabrina Marvin - Syria Comment

New Books by Evelyn Shakir, Keith Watenpaugh, and Sabrina Marvin

The tales in Evelyn Shakir’s Remember Me to Lebanon: Stories of Lebanese Women in America are set in various eras, from the 1960s to the present and occasionally hark back even to the turn of the twentieth century.  Protagonists range in age from a teenager who resists her father’s understanding of honor, to an elderly woman who returns from the grave for one last try at whipping her family into shape.  Most of the stories dramatize personal issues involving negotiation between generations and cultures.  But others have a political dimension—one is set against the backdrop of the Lebanese civil war; another is a response to 9/11, narrated by a woman who keeps watch all day on the Arab family next door.  (Remember Me is published by Syracuse University Press.)

Here are some review excerpts:

“Evelyn Shakir’s first collection of short stories is a delight. . . .  The stories in Remember Me to Lebanon are beautifully told, with an ear for language and a sympathetic heart.  The people are real, and their problems, for all their ethnic color, are universal.”

Also see Evelyn Shakir’s non-fiction Bint Arab:  Arab and Arab American Women in the United States (1997), which is based largely on interviews (and is still, as far as I know, the only full-length study of this population).  Drawing on primary sources such as club minutes, census records, and dozens of interviews, she explores the experience of late 19th- and early 20th-century immigrants, mostly Christian peasants from Lebanon and Syria, and their American-born daughters. Later, she moves on to the well-assimilated granddaughters. The work concludes with Muslims who have emigrated over the last quarter century from many Arab countries, particularly Palestinians. While attempting to correct stereotypes of Arab women as passive and downtrodden, Shakir gives voice to women caught in a tug of war, usually within the family, between traditional values and the social and sexual liberties permitted women in the West. Leavened with personal reminiscences by the author, this work introduces a gallery of spirited women. Essential for all scholars and students of America's social and religious diversity.?

Here are some excerpts from reviews of that book.

“A landmark contribution to the field of Arab American studies”—Middle East Women’s Studies Review

“Essential for all scholars and students of America’s social and religious diversity”—Library Journal

“A gem of a book”—Journal of Palestine Studies

“A sweeping mosaic, rich and colorful in human experience”—Al Jadid

~~~~~~~

Keith David Watenpaugh. Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. xi + 325 pp. Illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. $37.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-6911-2169-9.

Reviewed for H-Levant by Eyal Zisser, Department of Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University
H-NET BOOK REVIEW: Published by H-Levant@h-net.msu.edu (January 2008)

The Rise and Fall of the Arab Middle Class in the Middle East: Between Modernization, Nationalism, and Revolution

One of the great modern landmarks of the city of Aleppo is the Baron Hotel. The Mazloumians, a wealthy Armenian family of hoteliers, established this fixture on the city's main street at the beginning of the twentieth century. The story of the hotel from the time of its founding is, to a large extent, the story of the city of Aleppo in the twentieth century, as many of the period's most significant events occurred in or were otherwise connected to the hotel and its guests. It can, in fact, be viewed as a silent witness to Syria's transition from Ottoman rule to the French Mandate, to Syrian independence, and finally, to the long rule of Hafiz al-Asad. Among the dignitaries who stayed at the Baron Hotel were Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), who housed his staff in the hotel during the Ottoman Army's retreat from Syria, and General Edmund Allenby, who took rooms in the hotel immediately after the British Army entered Aleppo in October 1918. Both Faysal I (during his brief reign as king of Syria) and T. E. "Lawrence of Arabia" resided in the Baron Hotel. Many other famous figures were its guests as well. Some years later, the presidents of Syria adopted the custom of staying at the hotel whenever they visited the north of the country. Al-Asad followed this custom during his first official visit to Aleppo as president of Syria.

Thus, it is quite appropriate that Keith David Watenpaugh's _Being Modern in the Middle East_ mentions the Baron Hotel in connection with several major junctures in the modernization of Aleppo and the emergence of that city's middle class, topics that stand at the book's thematic center. For example, Watenpaugh relates the story of a meeting between Gertrude Lowthian Bell and the Christian banker Nicola Homsi in 1905, shortly after the hotel's opening. According to Bell's own testimony, the Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo also joined the meeting. When Bell asked the two men what lay in store for their country, the archbishop replied, "I do not know. I have thought deeply on the subject and I can see no future for Syria, whichever way I turn."[1] Watenpaugh also relates the story of Lutfi Fikri Bey, a deputy in the Ottoman parliament of Dersim and a supporter of those forces (the liberal entente) opposing the Young Turks' Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). During the parliamentary election campaign of 1912, Bey came to Aleppo, where he was greeted by a stormy demonstration organized by local CUP supporters. As a result, he took refuge in none other than the Baron Hotel.

In 1988, Patrick Seale published his _Asad of Syria_, a political biography of the Syrian ruler with whom Seale had close personal ties.

However, Seale's narrative recounts more than the life of Asad, as it also tells the story of the Syrian state from its beginnings to the mid-1980s. Seale mentions the Baron Hotel as well, placing it squarely in the context of Aleppo's transformation in the twentieth century:

"Once a great trading city at the crossroads of caravan routes, larger and richer than Damascus, Aleppo had been in relative decline since the First World War when it was severed from its sea outlet at Alexandretta and from its hinterland in present-day Iraq and Turkey…. It suffered from poor sewerage, poor municipal services, and its main street where the historic Baron's Hotel stands became a shabby ghost of the elegant thoroughfare it had once been."[2]

Indeed, the accounts of Seale and others depict two Aleppos: one is a dynamic metropolis facing the future and inviting progress, the other a sleepy town finding it difficult to recapture its past glory. Arguably, Aleppo's declining state throughout the twentieth century is matched by a comparable decline in the status and condition of Syria's middle class during the same period. Watenpaugh's study focuses on this social group, which he depicts as the most energetic and leading force in early twentieth-century Syrian society, however battered and weakened it would subsequently become. Nevertheless, the issues of modernization and Westernization continue to represent a major challenge to Syrian state and society today as they did nearly a century ago.

These issues, which are critical to understanding the history of the Middle East in general and Syria in particular, are central to Watenpaugh's book. First, there are the questions of modernity and the modernization of Aleppo's population. Second, of course, there is the relationship between modernity and Westernization, and between these phenomena and the adoption of Western values and outlooks. Third, in the shadow of these issues, there is the question of the emergence of the middle class in Arab society, or more specifically, in Syrian society during the first half of the twentieth century. Finally, there is the question of the extent to which the middle class was in fact the backbone of Syrian society in this era.

Watenpaugh's major contention in this regard is summarized in the following statement: "in the crucible of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, World War I, and the imposition of colonial rule, a discrete middle class emerged in the cities of the Eastern Mediterranean that was defined not just by the wealth, professions, possessions, or levels of education of its members, but also by the way they asserted their modernity. To claim modernity, they incorporated into their daily lives and politics a collection of manners, mores, and tastes, and corpus of ideas about the individual, gender, rationality, and authority actively derived from what they believed to be the cultural, social and ideological praxis of the contemporary metropolitan Western middle classes" (p. 8).

Watenpaugh has chosen to make his case against the background of Aleppo's experience during the years 1908-46, that is, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until Syrian independence. During this transitional period, the region experienced a number of major changes:

the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, the imposition of European mandates, and the emergence of independent states. Naturally, these transformations were accompanied by ideological shifts from "Ottomanism"

to "Syrianism" and "Arabism," from liberalism to radicalism, and the persistent role of Islam, albeit in various forms.

Watenpaugh's study vividly describes the aforementioned phenomena.

Despite the fact that each chapter stands alone as an independent research topic, all are woven together into a single, though multifaceted, story. Another of the book's virtues is its placement of fundamental, yet comprehensive, theoretical propositions at the core of its discussion. In addition, Watenpaugh supplies the human face of historical events and processes, using a variety of sources to vividly illustrate the story of the social stratum and the city that serve as his book's focus.

Arguably, Watenpaugh could have expanded his theoretical discussion of the definition of modernity. Perhaps his analysis of the character and essence of the region's middle classes during the first half of the twentieth century could have benefited from even greater expansion.

After all, previous scholars have dealt at length with many aspects of the question of the appearance of the middle class (effendia) in various regions of the Middle East. For example, it would be instructive to compare the case of Aleppo with those of Cairo or Alexandria, since events in Egypt have so often inspired developments elsewhere in the region.

Nevertheless, Watenpaugh's book makes important scholarly contributions to an understanding of a number of issues. First, he presents the story of the Syrian urban middle class. It should be remembered that Syria's history during the first half of the twentieth century has been written and told mostly through the eyes of the notable families constituting the urban elite. Syria's post-World War II history has been written and told mostly through the eyes of those social forces, mainly members of the `Alawi community and the Sunni rural population, that came from the periphery to the center, eventually taking control of the state. Thus, Watenpaugh's study brings to the fore Syria's urban middle class, whose voice and presence have so far been missing from that country's historical narrative. Second, Watenpaugh reconstructs important debates within Syrian society about liberal and Western values, as well as identifies some of the main protagonists in these debates. This is an important service, for much of the scholarship to date has focused on the words and deeds of the proponents of various forms of Syrian, Arab, and pan-Arab nationalism, chief among them the founders and leaders of the Ba`th Party and Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP, also known as the PPS). Perhaps, it was natural for scholars to concentrate on the views espoused by these (subsequently dominant) political forces, and be inclined to see the course of Syrian history as almost inevitably leading to the seizure of power by advocates of these more radical visions of Syria's future. Thus, Watenpaugh's book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Syrian history by giving appropriate expression to these–until now largely ignored–voices advocating liberalism and Westernization.

Reading _Being Modern in the Middle East_ prompts questions about other social groups in the vicinity of Aleppo during the period under discussion, like members of several minority communities and the Sunni rural population of the outlying region. These populations and social forces are absent from almost all studies of Syrian history prior to the mid-1950s, even though they were destined to occupy the center of Syrian politics in subsequent decades. It would be quite instructive, of course, to seek evidence in the earlier period that this significant historical development was in the offing. Some movement in this direction can be found in Michael Provence's _The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism_ (2005). Provence mentions the social origins of Michel `Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, who were destined to found the Ba`th Party. These two figures were sons of grain merchants who had strong connections with the Hawran province. Awareness of the economic connection between the Hawran and the Maydan quarter of the city of Damascus might cast light on the path by which the 1920s revolt spread along the Hawran-Maydan route from the Druze Mountain to Damascus, and it might also help to explain and clarify the connection of the Atrash family, or at least several of its sons, to the Ba`th Party. All this raises the issue of the links and relationships between the Syrian center and periphery, which were always much deeper and more complex than previously thought. Thus, the Syrian center should not be viewed only from the angle of the notable families that dominated it, nor should the center and the periphery be conceptualized as mutually exclusive spheres.

Watenpaugh discusses the events of the stormy 1930s in another interesting chapter, "Middle-Class Fascism and the Transformation of Civil Violence." The issues discussed therein merit particular mention precisely because they have received so little scholarly attention in the past. Watenpaugh quite appropriately revisits old questions, investigating the degree to which Fascism and Nazism found adherents in Syrian society, as well as exploring the political and social significance of the turn to violence and radicalism. Syrian intellectual life during this period requires fresh, more thorough historical investigation. Watenpaugh's study represents a first important step in that direction.

I began this review by noting that the second half of the twentieth century was marked by the decline of Aleppo, and indeed the whole northern region of Syria. In addition, previously significant social and political groupings were marginalized or even disappeared from view. The interesting question is: What does today's Aleppo with its millions of residents have in common with the small-town (one hundred thousand

residents) Aleppo of the early twentieth century that is the focus of Watenpaugh's _Being Modern in the Middle East_? In this regard, we must note again the large-scale migration to Syria's cities and its political center that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century.

Against this background, we can better understand Syria's more recent historical development, in other words, the collapse of the old social order, appearance of military regimes, and establishment of the Asad dynasty that survives to this day. The new groups moving to the cities brought with them the message of the Ba`th. However, large numbers of the Sunnis living in the slums of Aleppo adopted the views of radical Islam. Indeed, Aleppo became a focus of Islamist rebellion, against which the regime took repressive measures in 1976-82. However, those Islamist sentiments still survive, hidden beneath the surface.

We were given a reminder of the surviving vigor and importance of the question of liberal thought in Syria, as well as the rise and fall of the Syrian middle class during Bashar al-Asad's first years in power. At that time, the young ruler lent his support to the so-called Damascus spring, a very brief period of political openness during which cultural and political forums and salons were allowed to operate. One such forum, which arose in Aleppo, was named after `Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, whose earlier participation in several of Aleppo's well-known salons is mentioned in Watenpaugh's book. The Syrian authorities quickly shut down the later "al-Kawakibi" salon, which was led by `Abd al-Rahman's relative Salam al-Kawakibi. Ultimately, Salam was forced to leave Syria and become a political refugee, just like his famous relative, who was pursued by the Ottoman authorities of his day.

Watenpaugh's book makes an important addition to our knowledge of Aleppo's history, joining Abraham Marcus's study The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity: Aleppo in the Eighteenth Century (1988), in illuminating several issues critical to Middle East history. In effect, Watenpaugh's fascinating book can be viewed as a kind of introduction to the trajectory of Middle East during the past century, oscillating between extremes, from Western liberalism to extreme nationalism to Islamic radicalism, as well as alternating between conservative and progressive impulses. Watenpaugh examines these matters in a specifically Syrian context, but it has value beyond the parochial. It also relates the story of the rise and fall of a middle class whose presence could have heralded the emergence of civil society.

In sum, Being Modern in the Middle East is an important, interesting, and instructive contribution to the history of ideas, while also being social and cultural history at its best. It is the laudable result of years of research. Overall, it reflects the author's empathy with his subject, a quality that definitely contributes to the depth of his insights and conclusions.

Notes

[1]. Gertrude Lowthian Bell, _The Desert and the Sown_ (London: W. Heinemann, 1907), 267.

[2]. Patrick Seale, _Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East_(London: I. B. Tauris, 1988), 450.

~~~~~~~

Les Mondes Chiites et L’Iran [The Shi‘ite World and Iran],
edited by Sabrina Mervin. Paris: Karthala-IFPO, 2007

Mervin, who is chargée de recherches at CNRS and a member since September 2004 of the l'Institut français du Proche-Orient (Beyrouth), has gathered together first class academics and experts in the field to write on the major debates and Shiite communities of the Middle East. The authors include Oliver Roy on the impact of the Iranian revolution on the Middle East; Laurence Louer on Shiism in the Gulf states; Joseph Al-Agha has a wonderful article, “Hizbullah’s Conception of the Islamic State, 87-112; Peter Harling on class and millenarianism in the Sadrist movement in Iraq; Mohsen Mottaghi on "Soroush, un itinéraire intellectuel;" Sabrina Mervin on "Transnational Intellectual Debates;" and many more.

Here is the French blurb: 

Ce livre réunit des spécialistes des aires géographiques concernées. Il offre un parcours au cœur de ces contextes multiples, où être chiite ne correspond jamais exactement à une même réalité sociale et culturelle, malgré des références communes, doctrinales et politiques. L'exportation de la révolution, qui fut longtemps le paradigme de l'influence iranienne sur les mondes chiites, a fait son temps, même si dans certains cas, tel celui du Hezbollah libanais, son héritage est évident. Quel rôle joue réellement l'Iran dans les chiismes en construction, à Istanbul, Bakou, Boukhara et Tachkent, ou encore chez les chiites de Dakar ?. Le " modèle iranien " n'est plus seulement, et, parfois plus du tout, celui d'un islam politique révolutionnaire. Du clerc rebelle Muqtadâ al-Sadr en Irak aux écoles religieuses où étudient de jeunes Pakistanaises, l'influence iranienne se décline sous de multiples formes. Pour les mondes chiites, l'Iran reste un formidable laboratoire d'idées

Comments (127)


majedkhaldoun said:

Alex;
my dear friend, the answer for your
1) first point,you mentioned the buffer zone, how could this zone prevent HA from using Missiles,which has a range to reach all over Israel?the buffer zone is only 12 mile.
2) HA will not start a fight with Israel,unless Iran is attacked,this is clear instruction fron Iran,who supplied HA with the special weapons.
3)the answer for the third point is, there is huge difference between an army and resistance,the army can be defeated,the resistance can not be defeated,unles it is anniliated,which is impossible now a day. remember that a resistance of 10,000,can fight an army more than 200,000.
4)Israel can not use all its weapons against Lebanon,without wiping out all of Lebanon, which will antagonize the whole world.

June 29th, 2008, 6:51 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Alex,I may be wrong,but the troops in the buffer zone are mostly french or Italian ,who will run away if they hear a thunder in the sky.

June 29th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Shai said:

Majedkhaldoun,

Are you suggesting the French or Italians are “wusses”? 🙂

As for HA joining incase Iran is attacked, I completely agree with you, though most here do not. I think there is no doubt whatsoever that HA’s raison d’etre is to resist Israel no matter against whom in the region. That, coupled with the fact that indeed most of their strength comes complimentary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, is precisely the reason HA will have to respond.

But as for your 4th point, I disagree. There are far more Israelis today that will be much less “patient” next time around, should Israel have to fight HA again. What I mean, is that if the IDF waited for too long to start the ground assault, and by that brought upon almost 1 million citizens in the north a long stay in underground shelters, and of course the terror of not knowing where the thousands of HA rockets will land, day and night, next time it won’t wait so long. And if the (idiotic) goal will be to “eliminate” HA this time, then before the IDF realizes that it cannot achieve “victory”, it will unfortunately use far worse means, and more dangerous weapons than it has last time around (cluster bombs included). Once again, Lebanon will have to pay the price for being the battleground between Israel and others (PLO, Syria, and this time HA and Iran). Many more innocent lives will be lost, if Israel has to fight HA while being attacked on multiple fronts. I imagine much of Southern Lebanon, and a good bit of Beirut, would be targeted, and destroyed.

Let’s hope we never see that happen.

June 29th, 2008, 7:24 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Shai, words of wisdom, experience, and brutal reality in commenting on Majed’s point #4. Sad but true. The fact is “the whole world” will not give a hoot about Lebanon (nor does it now) for Lebanon’s own sake. It’s all a matter of what’s in each country’s national interest, ins’t it? This is why, much as I admire and commend HA and its leadership for the social programs, generation of pride in the Shi’i communities, and discipline and structure, I much more dread and recognize the fundamental fanaticism that underlies many of their leaders’ motives. It may be dormant or cleverly hidden but it’s always been there and will sure emerge whenever the cicumstances seem propitious for them again. Here’s the Sayyed in 1982 clearly stating the goal of an Islamic republic in Lebanon; does anyone really believe he has reneged on his “faith”?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ1K2wo9JxE
Although over a year old, here’s a report about an interview with HA #2 validating some of Shai’s observations:
http://blog.technonllc.com/index.php?/archives/30-Nasrallahs-Deputy-Admits-Iranian-Control-on-Hezbollahs-Operations.html

June 29th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

Karim said:

Lebanon is a jewel on earth,it suffered enough from the conspiracies of others(from their two neighbors) and the lebanese must not pay the price of hizbollah behavior ,in fact the israelis are happy with hizbollah actions north of litani because lebanon can not be stable with them,only the syrians ,this regime or an another one should demolish them.

June 29th, 2008, 7:57 pm

 

Shai said:

HP,

Unfortunately, Lebanon never became strong enough, and nations around her took advantage of that to occupy her land, to rule over her people, and to fight on her territory. Israel is just as much at fault, as any of the others. After all, what better excuse to hit Syria or even Iran, than summer 2006? I’m not suggesting that would have been a smart thing to do, as it would surely have deteriorated into all-out war in the region, but to pretend that the Lebanese people are the ones responsible for the thousands (now tens of thousands) of Iranian-made rockets at the hands of HA is ludicrous.

Even Mubarak is already referring to Hamas as Egypt’s eastern border with Iran. There’s little doubt, that HA and Hamas are Iran’s “pizza delivery boys”, but that the “pizza” (Islamic Revolution) is being created, cooked, and supplied by Iran itself. The material, the weapons, the ideology, the expertise, the advisors, etc., are all made in Iran. We’ve seen Israeli-Arabs being recruited directly by Iran, so we know it’s not about the well-being of Lebanon (or its long overdue freedom).

But, having said all this, it is still better to solve these issues diplomatically, and try to indirectly influence internal changes, than militarily. In today’s reality, the first might stand a chance, the latter does not.

June 29th, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

Something to ponder:
Is it plausible that Israel would attack Iran without getting the green light from the Americans, and do the Israelis have the military capability to carry out such an attack alone, and over whose airspace would their jets fly?

June 29th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

Shai said:

Seeking,

Israel cannot (and will not) send a single airplane heading east without American knowledge, and most likely permission. This isn’t the case of 1981, where the distance and the complexity of the operation didn’t require America’s cooperation. Here, it is a thousand times more difficult. My guess, if such an operation took place, it would have the approval and cooperation of at least the U.S., Turkey, and perhaps even Jordan and Saudi Arabia. To attack tens of multiple targets, hundreds of kilometers apart, thousands of kilometers from home, requires a huge logistical operation, including just about everything you can think of. If Israel was to do it all alone, most if not all of the planes would be flying one-way.

June 29th, 2008, 8:38 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

HP states:

I much more dread and recognize the fundamental fanaticism that underlies many of their leaders’ motives.

HP,

Your words, as accurate as they are, seem to me like a lonely whisper in a huge noisy crowd aka the “Arab street”.

Shai,

I agree with your assessment above. If the Syrian reactor was any indication, the US will be intimately involved in all aspects of the operation.

Another glimpse of what were dealing with:

http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1801wmv&ak=null

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=080629185519.5hi45ii3&show_article=1

June 29th, 2008, 10:13 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

The material, the weapons, the ideology, the expertise, the advisors, etc., are all made in Iran.

We can say the same about Israel relation with the US and the neocons. The billions of dollars in weapons Israel is receiving for the US is far beyond what HA is getting from Iran.
If Iran did not exist, there would be no resistance and Lebanon would have been squeezed to accept half a million palestinians, thus saving Israel the trouble of finding a home for the people they have displaced.
Anyway we have seen the result of HA resilience:
In 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped 2 Israelis soldiers to swap them for jailed lebanese, but Israel decided that its weaponry ( billions of Us dollars) and its IDF should show its strength: result hundred of dead, useless destruction and failure to crush HA. Now what? Israel is making that exchange!. Why did not they do it before and save lives? because they trusted their weapons and now they realize weapons are useless when they deal with a resistance movement?
Israel is desperately trying to demonize Iran in the eyes of the Lebanese, the arabs and the whole western world just because for the first tinme in its history it is facing a powerful and dangerously able opponent. It is time for ‘painful’ concessions and the prisoner swap is just the beginning.
Yet, I just could not believe that the same Olmert who dismissed the prisoner swap and started the 2006 murderous war is the one agreeing to the swap and gets easily the approval. Where is his pride? he has no shame?

June 29th, 2008, 10:51 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AP,

My “lonely whisper” is coming from the US, where I’ve been for 27 years. The “huge noisy crowd (…) aka the ‘Arab Street'” is indeed one that is predominantly either espousing the full HA agenda – declared and dormant – or believing that HA has and will continue to evolve into a purely political movement. The blame for extremism is multi-pronged. I believe that an important prong is a set of actions by Israel which, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, has contributed to actually enhancing the status of HA and weakening the moderate voices. When relatives and friends in Lebanon whom I know to be highly educated, secular (or at least believing in the separation of church and state), who otherwise do believe in the need for a peaceful settlement including a recognized Israel as a state with a predominantly Jewish character, when these folks tell me they are 100% behind HA, I’m left wondering how they arrive at such conclusion were it not for strategic mistakes by Israel.

June 29th, 2008, 11:40 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Shai said
Are you suggesting the French or Italians are “wusses”?
the answer, yes I believe this statement is true.
the second point,you object to the fourth point I made, your comment suggest to me ( I may be wrong, please explain) that you are talking about Israel and HA fight alone, my comment was made considering Israel attacked Iran, so Iran is involved in the fight, Iran will respond to Israel attack, and as of now we do not know how they will respond.
I always thought that France is to the lebanese,as their mother.
Also peace negotiations between Syria and Israel is intended to delay Israel capability to attack Iran for a year, Iran knows about the syrian Israel talk, and asked to be slow,I wonder if Syria knows that Iran may be using them,if they know then they may have approved the strategy.

June 29th, 2008, 11:46 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

HP replied:

I’m left wondering how they arrive at such conclusion were it not for strategic mistakes by Israel.

I am also wondering how Israel is supposed to defend herself without causing harm to innocent people.

Maybe you know something I don’t.

In any case, I wonder if this is something your relatives and friends in Lebanon may have an answer for.

Why-Discuss comments:

Israel is desperately trying to demonize Iran in the eyes of the Lebanese, the arabs and the whole western world…

Why-Discuss,

I think the Iranian leadership is doing an excellent job demonizing themselves. The sanctions on Iran are due to their own actions and their own speeches.

IMHO, the Iranians are doing a better job than any Israeli government employee or news network could possibly do.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/12/14/iran.israel/

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/06/ahmadinejad-pre.html

June 30th, 2008, 2:04 am

 

why-discuss said:

Akbar palace

Then how do you explain that Ahmadinejad is a popular figure in Egypt, a sunni country in “peace” with Israel?
The Iranians are the only ones who stand firm in front of threats and injustified pressures and they have the western countries coming up everyday with new concessions in parallel with ineffective sanctions and they have Israel panicking more everyday. In the eyes of most arabs, even sunnis like Egyptians, Iranians are not demons, they are heroes who are finally getting Israel cornered into making deals and concessions.
Of course this is not made to please hardliner israelis who still believe in the power of their IDF, even after the 2006 disaster, to continue their illegal occupation and their abuse of the palestinians.

June 30th, 2008, 4:03 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

Of course you are right about Israel and the U.S. being on the other side of the equation. But you must understand (not necessarily accept) the rationale behind Israel’s action, which has been true for the past 60 years. Since its creation in 1948, Israel has always felt an existential threat (I happen to completely disagree with this “feeling”, but put that aside for now). What is true, however, is that Israel cannot fight prolonged wars, cannot fight on its own territory (as it has no strategic depth), and cannot lose any of its wars. This is the mentality which has guided decision makers all those years. Some of the consequences thereof are:

1. Israel must fight quickly and decisively.
2. Israel must quickly transfer the fighting onto her rival’s territory.
3. Israel must fight in such way as to deter her rivals from seeking another confrontation soon afterwards.

In Israeli military books (and in any other nation’s, for that matter), there is little if any thought, material, and preparation into battling small militia groups. Military doctrines have yet to describe how an army should fight a militia. Hence, Israeli soldiers, and their commanders, do not know how to react when an HA kills a few soldiers and kidnaps two of them. Should it do nothing, and leave the decision to the politicians? Should it start war? Should it call it a “limited operation”? And how should it fight? Should it seek only HA fighters? And how can that be done, with a militia that mixes in with the civilian population? But one thing Israel cannot do, as insinuated in those three points above, is nothing. It cannot sit idly by, and let the politicians and the media run their show. The IDF must, even if blindly and foolishly, react. And, as suggested in point 3, it must do so in a very harsh (and often disproportionate and inhumane) way. Hence Lebanon 2006.

The problem of course, is that Israel could not possibly “win” such a battle. That is, if by winning we mean defeating HA. If, however, “winning” means causing HA to carefully reconsider killing a few Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others, or any other kind of offensive action towards Israel, for quite some time (years), then perhaps Israel did achieve her goals. Unfortunately, the Lebanese people had to pay the price, as they always have. The cruelty was not in the attack on HA by Israel – that could and should have been expected – but rather in the fact that the IDF could not differentiate between HA and non-HA targets, and ended up killing many many innocent Lebanese (1,500 of them). This was true about Lebanon, and it will be true about Gaza, should we again find ourselves in there. We simply do not know how to fight and defeat a militia, yet Israel finds itself in a situation where it is doomed if it does, and doomed if it doesn’t. So, for the sake of deterring its rivals, it would rather be doomed if it does.

This is the mentality from “our end”. You don’t need to accept it, or certainly agree with it, but might be able to understand it. People that still have the H-factor (holocaust) deeply ingrained in their mentality, that view HA, Hamas, Syria, and Iran, as threatening the very existence of the state of Israel, will act in such a way as to severely punish its rivals and their perceived threat.

June 30th, 2008, 4:34 am

 

Shai said:

Majedkhaldoun,

My dear friend, forgive me, but I’m afraid I have to disagree with you once more… 😉

If indeed Israel (and/or the U.S.) is planning to attack Iran, then the current talks between Israel and Syria are not meant to “delay” the attack, the opposite, they’re meant to “assist” the attack. In what way? In helping ensure that Syria does not join on behalf of Iran. Bashar Assad has already made a statement in the UAE recently (which many in the media seemed to almost miss this point), claiming that should Iran be attacked, Syria would not join in the fight. That may well have calmed the fears of many Israelis, Syrians, and others. But in essence it was almost a “green light” for any that plan to attack Iran. By engaging Syria in talks in Turkey, Israel is de facto communicating reassuring messages back and forth, and helping both sides understand that Iran is the target, not Syria.

As I said earlier, I very much agree with you that HA will react should Iran be attacked. This causes me greater concern for the Lebanese people, because in 2006, the IDF fought slowly and almost-surgically (it perceived it that way – we know the results). This time, if HA gets involved while Iran is launching hundreds or thousands of missiles against Israel, the IDF will have far less “patience”, and will do far greater damage. And again, many many Lebanese civilians will pay the terrible price.

June 30th, 2008, 4:49 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Then how do you explain that Ahmadinejad is a popular figure in Egypt, a sunni country in “peace” with Israel?

Why-Discuss,

Because it is easier to convince those suffering from poverty and those not able to express themselves freely that Israel is the source of all their problems, not their leaders.

That’s my guess. History repeats itself.

The Iranians are the only ones who stand firm in front of threats and injustified pressures and they have the western countries coming up everyday with new concessions in parallel with ineffective sanctions and they have Israel panicking more everyday.

The only country threatening the existence of another country is Iran. Interesting how you take a belligerent country like Iran and try to turn it into a victim.

In the eyes of most arabs, even sunnis like Egyptians, Iranians are not demons, they are heroes who are finally getting Israel cornered into making deals and concessions.

Which is why the region is heading toward a “show-down”. If the West really wants to win the war on terror, the West must not only confront those countries supporting terror, but also defeat terror in the hearts and minds of those who cheer the terrorists on.

Of course this is not made to please hardliner israelis who still believe in the power of their IDF, even after the 2006 disaster, to continue their illegal occupation and their abuse of the palestinians.

The “illegal occupation” has turned out to be an excuse for continued war and violence and a carte-blanche for preventing the reform of the Middle East. The “illegal occupation” is a border dispute between the PA and Israel and nothing more.

Shai states matter-of-factly:

People that still have the H-factor (holocaust) deeply ingrained in their mentality, that view HA, Hamas, Syria, and Iran, as threatening the very existence of the state of Israel, will act in such a way as to severely punish its rivals and their perceived threat.

Some people continue to deny the existence of Israel and a Jewish state. Some people continue to actively fight against her by firing missiles into Israeli population centers. Some people are trying to produce nuclear weaponry in order to “wipe Israel off the map”.

In case you didn’t know.

http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/06/ahmadinejad-pre.html

June 30th, 2008, 10:58 am

 

ausamaa said:

Shai,

“Bashar Assad has already made a statement in the UAE recently (which many in the media seemed to almost miss this point), claiming that should Iran be attacked, Syria would not join in the fight.”

I tried to find the article/interview where Bashar said that to see what he “might” have exactly meant and in what context. I could not find the interview anyway.

My understanding is he meant: Iran can Fend for itself without outside help. And he was “addressing” Gulf-Arabs, and asking them to stop this nonsense about the Iran-Syria “anti-others” axis and the “joint” threat the Iranian Syrian relationship is being portrayed by some of them.

Further, I think the reference was to an attack by the US on Iran not an Israeli initiated attack. So, dont read to much into that statement. If Iran is attacked by Israel, then I think it will be a four-front war that Israel will have to worry about.

But, look at the bright side; none of that BS is going to happen. nobody is feeling “good” enough or “crazy” enough to attack anyone now.

June 30th, 2008, 11:23 am

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

I don’t share your optimism, unfortunately. I think Bashar was talking not only to the Gulf states, but also to others who might be concerned, like Israel. It is also in his best interests (and Syria’s) to calm Israeli fears of a four-front war, as he knows Syria’s position will not dictate whether such an attack will take place or not. Even if Israel attacks, Syria would rather stay out of such a war, than get dragged into it by some Defense “alliance” with Iran. Unlike HA or even Hamas, Syria has much more to lose by joining on behalf of Iran. Bashar was doing the responsible thing by making such a statement, I believe.

As for any of that “BS” happening, things like that have a tendency to surprise us, don’t they? The IDF knew of HA’s rocket capabilities in 2006, yet still chose to attack severely, hoping the ensuing response would be short and limited. Who’s to say such an estimate doesn’t exist at the moment with regards to Iran? At the end of the day, it’s the decision of very few people, whether or not they gamble once more. I wish I could say that decisions like that are taken slowly and rationally, are examined and re-examined cautiously, and responsibly. But if enough trigger-happy advisors manage to convince the Israeli and American leaders that it’s either now or never, who knows whether they’ll be able to exhibit coolness of thought, much as John Kennedy did during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 (and decided against the unanimous advice of all his chiefs of general staff, and national security advisors).

Akbar Palace,

Thank you for reminding me that “some people continue to deny the existence of Israel and a Jewish state”. I haven’t noticed that before, and thought we should all wear daisies and make love, not war. To me, people who make statements like “… some people are trying to produce nuclear weaponry in order to ‘wipe Israel off the map’…” are at best ignorant of what nuclear weaponry can and cannot achieve, or at worst, are well aware and are attempting to reinforce their own beliefs with effective emotional manipulations. After all, how could responsible people not come together, and act against anyone trying to “wipe Israel off the map”, right?

What no politician or advisor or “expert” have done yet, is explain to the average person what they mean by “wipe off the map”. Few that do know or care to find out, have spoken. Ex-head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy, who isn’t exactly the least responsible Israeli when it comes to its defense or survival, has stated on numerous occasions that Iran cannot destroy Israel. Not with one nuclear bomb, and not with ten. Some other experts who have spoken as well are Prof. (Lt. General) Itzhak Ben-Israel, who currently heads the Israel Space Program, and is also an MK. He’s said similar things about Iran’s abilities, today or in the near future. Thankfully, some Ex-President of the United States by the name of Jimmy Carter, has also made some statements recently about Israel’s apparent nuclear capabilities. Fact of the matter is, that Iran can disrupt the lives of many Tel-Aviv citizens, and probably kill 10-20,000 of them, if it drops an atomic bomb just at the right time, just in the right place. But it cannot, and will not, destroy our entire nation. To kill 100,000 civilians, Tel-Aviv would have to be made of wood, as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were. Even the engineers in Tehran know that this is not the case.

And we can guess what Iran’s leaders think will happen to their own cities if they should ever attempt to drop an atomic bomb, or two, or five, on Israel. They know they cannot destroy us, even if they wish they could, day and night. So isn’t it time we stop laying existential fears in the minds and hearts of our fellow countrymen (and their supporters abroad)? Thank god Israel managed to achieve certain capabilities rather early on in her existence as a state, so that indeed her survival has been protected for quite a few decades now. No Iran, or Syria, or Al Qaida, can challenge our existence. They can hurt us, they can go to war with us, they can kill many thousands, and disrupt the lives of even a million people (like HA has succeeded in doing in 2006). But they cannot “wipe us off the map”.

June 30th, 2008, 11:56 am

 

ausamaa said:

Shai,

And Syria did have a lot to lose by stunchly opposing Dubbya’s adventures and agenda for years. And He is a bigger threat than Israel can be in a four-front war which Hizbullah was able to manage on its own. Dont underestimate others like many in Israel did in the past…

But again, nothing is going to happen.. it will be to costly for many, specially ones with logistic lies stretching thousands of miles away..

June 30th, 2008, 1:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Shai,

And Syria did have a lot to lose by stunchly opposing Dubbya’s adventures and agenda for years. And He is a bigger threat than Israel can be in a four-front war which Hizbullah was able to manage on its own. Dont underestimate others like many in Israel did in the past…

But again, I am very optinmistic, nothing is going to happen.. it will be too costly for many, specially ones with logistic lines stretching thousands of miles away..

June 30th, 2008, 1:17 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

I agree with you about the rationale that is dictating Israel military operations and also the reasons why the conventional war strategies used against Egypt and other countries previously do not work.
You are confirming to me that Israelis are starting to realize that the IDF cannot protect them anymore as it used to. This should trigger a 180 degree change in Israel strategy to win the heart and minds of the arabs, so they accept Israel as a country in the region with which they can exchange something else than hatred and bombs.
Because of the “H” syndrome, Israelis tend to forget that it is the Europeans who hated them and wanted to get rid of them, Germany, France, Poland etc.. No moslem country ever created pogroms, and it is only after the creation of the state of Israel and the stigmates it imposed on all jews that the arabs started to antagonize them.
The moslem and the arabs are not the christian fanatics that accused the jews of killing Jesus. Moslems have always respected the religions, and it is only when jews claimed and occupied lands belonging to arabs that they became enemies.
Yet, I think Israel is stuck in its ‘agressive-defensive’ scheme, calling for military reprisals and instillating more and more hatred. It seeems it cannot get out of this mould.
They seem to worry that any sign of compassion or cooperation will be perceived as weakness. This is what I call a “Macho’ attitude. Their main ally, the US, plays the same game, even more with Bush and we have seen the horrible results.
I wish I could see Israelis helping the palestinians in the occupied land by building schools, hospitals, favoring cultural exchanges, financing agricultural projects, finally showing themselves as a ‘good’ and helpful neighbour.
With the threat of Iran, ( even though I am convinced Iran will never attack Israel, unless Israel starts first), Israel seems to initiate a rapprochement with the arabs that are less threatening and it is trying mend the relations. I hope the shadow of this new threat to Israel will encourage it to change its strategy with the arabs.

June 30th, 2008, 4:26 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I haven’t noticed that before, and thought we should all wear daisies and make love, not war.

As we say: “whatever floats your boat”.

To me, people who make statements like “… some people are trying to produce nuclear weaponry in order to ‘wipe Israel off the map’…” are at best ignorant of what nuclear weaponry can and cannot achieve, or at worst, are well aware and are attempting to reinforce their own beliefs with effective emotional manipulations.

Shai,

Why would you think anyone is “ignorant of what nuclear weaponry can and cannot achieve”? Actually, I think more people would be ignorant of the threats Ahmadinejad has made against Israel than the effects of nuclear weaponry.

After all, how could responsible people not come together, and act against anyone trying to “wipe Israel off the map”, right?

Perhaps not all people are “responsible”. I’ve come to the conclusion that some people aren’t responsible for anything they do.

The old saying attributed to Edmund Burke reminds us, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing”.

What no politician or advisor or “expert” have done yet, is explain to the average person what they mean by “wipe off the map”.

I see you’re another one of those people who has difficulty understanding what Iran is saying. I suggest this is an unconscious
behaviour of not wanting to face reality.

http://www.memri.org/iran.html

Few that do know or care to find out, have spoken. Ex-head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy, who isn’t exactly the least responsible Israeli when it comes to its defense or survival, has stated on numerous occasions that Iran cannot destroy Israel. Not with one nuclear bomb, and not with ten.

Really? How many Jews and Arabs die after being hit by 10 nuclear bombs?

Some other experts who have spoken as well are Prof. (Lt. General) Itzhak Ben-Israel, who currently heads the Israel Space Program, and is also an MK. He’s said similar things about Iran’s abilities, today or in the near future.

Feel free to post his opinion.

Thankfully, some Ex-President of the United States by the name of Jimmy Carter, has also made some statements recently about Israel’s apparent nuclear capabilities.

To my knowledge, Israel has never threatened to “wipe Iran off the map” or called Iran’s existence into question.

Fact of the matter is, that Iran can disrupt the lives of many Tel-Aviv citizens, and probably kill 10-20,000 of them, if it drops an atomic bomb just at the right time, just in the right place.

Please shows us how you reached this conclusion.

But it cannot, and will not, destroy our entire nation. To kill 100,000 civilians, Tel-Aviv would have to be made of wood, as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were. Even the engineers in Tehran know that this is not the case.

As I understand nuclear weaponry today, nuclear bombs are orders of magnitude more powerful today than those used during WW2.

And we can guess what Iran’s leaders think will happen to their own cities if they should ever attempt to drop an atomic bomb, or two, or five, on Israel.

I’ve seen statements from Iranian leaders stating that they are willing to withstand Arab and Muslim losses (and glorifying their sacrifice) from such an attack.

They know they cannot destroy us, even if they wish they could, day and night.

Please post a link showing how you reached this conclusion.

So isn’t it time we stop laying existential fears in the minds and hearts of our fellow countrymen (and their supporters abroad)?

I think (as well as the rest of the anti-jihadist world) our fears are justified.

Thank god Israel managed to achieve certain capabilities rather early on in her existence as a state, so that indeed her survival has been protected for quite a few decades now.

I wonder if your friends feel the same way.

No Iran, or Syria, or Al Qaida, can challenge our existence. They can hurt us, they can go to war with us, they can kill many thousands, and disrupt the lives of even a million people (like HA has succeeded in doing in 2006). But they cannot “wipe us off the map”.

Thank you for your opinion, but I’m not convinced.

June 30th, 2008, 4:35 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
The Ayatalollahs that you deem “rational” are the ones that gave children plastic keys for heaven and sent them running into mine fields. These Ayatollahs are the ones who funded and supported by fatwas the Hizballah suicide bombers. Forgive 99% of Israelis for not trusting them and not being enlightened and smart as you and Zenobia.

June 30th, 2008, 5:05 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG, I’ll start with you. It’s easier.

I don’t know if the Ayatollahs are rational or not. I imagine they are, in their own existential sense. They probably wouldn’t launch a nuclear weapon on Israel, knowing we’d respond with 50. But, maybe I’m wrong. The question isn’t whether you’re right, or whether I’m wrong. The question is what are the options, and what could each option bring about. If we do nothing, Iran may well develop nuclear weapons. And, in theory, they may use them. If they use them, they’ll be destroying their own nation, much more severely than they can hurt Israel. They’ll have nothing left to rule. Israel will survive, and will continue to be a Jewish state. It is doubtful whether the mullahs regime will survive. They’re not idiots, they know this. It’s one thing to send kids to run in front of tanks. It’s a whole other thing to gamble with your own life, and that of millions of your citizens, and to bring down the palace over your head.

AP, now to you…

I won’t even attempt to respond to every point. Suffice to say, that because someone (Ahmedinejad) says he’d like to “erase Israel”, doesn’t mean he can. I still want to hear, from YOU, what “wiping Israel off the map” means. Don’t tell me dropping an atomic bomb erases or destroys Israel. Prove it. How many have to die, for Israel to be destroyed? And what does destroyed mean? We give up, hand the keys over to someone? Please feel free to elaborate on this issue, which I clearly am quite ignorant about, and am therefore inevitably “irresponsible” in my views and action. My Chamberlain “peace in our time” attitude obviously is blind to reality, and leads me (assuming I belong to the “good people”), to do nothing. Right? That’s what you deduce, from everything I say? To play on the H-factor a bit (and I hope to be forgiven), I’ll remind you that some 95% of my family does not exist today, because they were gassed to death some 65 years ago, and burnt into ashes. Only one member survived (died 10 years ago), and I still remember the numbered tattoo on her arm. Do you honestly think I’d sit here on my ass, typing to you words of “wisdom”, if I thought Iran could wipe 6 million, or 1 million, or 500,000 Jews off the face of the planet? Don’t you think I thought a little about this possibility, and did more than just think, actually check, with people who understand and know a little more than “even” you or I do?

Don’t be so sure people that oppose your way of thinking are ignorant, or irresponsible. Some of those same people have done for our nation more than you and I could ever do, and are responsible still for our safety as I write these words. Some of them, usually the non-politician ones, know what they’re talking about. Others, usually the politician ones, know far less, but don’t care either way, because they’ll say what is in their best interest a long long time before considering the interests of the people, or of the nation. All sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this. Of course, most of us are followers, not leaders, so it is easy to follow the sounds of the drums of war. It is easier to listen to someone warning of existential threat, than to others who look like the ideal appeasers. But if you want to treat this subject seriously, you need to do your own research, to go talk to serious people, and to stop following anything that moves your way.

If smart and respected people like Ephraim Halevy and Itzik Ben-Israel would suggest that Iran really can wipe Israel off the face of the planet, I’d be the first to go destroy Iran’s nuclear program. I’ve served my country well (more than many others), and have always been ready to fight for our survival. If four nations attack Israel, I’ll be there to defend us. But let not our “leaders” get away so easily with their seasonal definitions of wars-of-no-choice (like Lebanon 2006), or a possible attack on Iran. You and I were born, thank god, not only with hearts, but also with brains. We should use them, every now and then, on our own. I also wish certain nations and people never existed. That doesn’t mean I can make it happen.

June 30th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

I don’t understand – are you saying Syria will join in on behalf of Iran, should it be attacked by Israel and/or the U.S.? I doubt it. Have a look at this (3rd paragraph):
http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=45250

June 30th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG,

what did I say about not talking ABOUT me?

are you DENSE? ARE you SO THICK YOU CAN’T HEAR ME!

I don’t even want my name to come off your fingers.

BAN AIG, BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIG BAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGVBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGVVBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGVBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIGBAN AIG BAN AIGBAN AIG

June 30th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia, so what you trying to say?… 😉 Come on, don’t ban AIG. How else will you know what most Israel think? And who else will let me know how the Ayatollahs think? Remember freedom-of-speech? We must exercise it here, also when we hear things we don’t like… For fighting to main that, Alex and Joshua deserve tremendous credit, don’t you think?

June 30th, 2008, 6:35 pm

 

qunfuz said:

Joshua – and everybody – I hope you will read my (Robin Yassin-Kassab) book The Road from Damascus, even if it’s a novel, and more about London than Damascus. You can’t get it on amazon.com, but you can get it on amazon.co.uk. Alex – thanks for your congratulations. allah yubarik feek.

June 30th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

qunfuz said:

HP – 1982 is 26 years ago. I’ve certainly developed my positions and changed my mind in the that time, and I’m sure that Nasrallah has done so too. In 82 it may have still seemed to him that the Islamic revolution was going to spread throughout the region from Iran. In 82 the war in Lebanon was very bad. Most importantly, Nasrallah was a much younger, much less experienced man. Since then he’s had to learn a great deal about Lebanese society, and he has clearly given up the unrealistic aim of establishing an Islamic state. As for imposing Shii orthodoxy on people: this is not Hizbullah’s style. In south beirut and south lebanon you can find girls in miniskirts.

Half of Britain’s neo-con ‘New Labour’ ministers were trotskyists in 1982.

June 30th, 2008, 6:48 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Qunfuz,
thanks for pointing out that human beings are not fixed entities, that they evolve over time, even our enemies, and even the ideological ones.

June 30th, 2008, 6:55 pm

 

Zenobia said:

shai,
i was called a bigot the other day if I assumed all Israelis think like AIG, and that that would be a depressing thought.

but this followed his prior fifty statements over weeks that his views represent the mainstream Israeli views and that he is just vocalizing the most common (and therefore correct) attitude.

I see no value in his presence. Its not about hearing things we don’t like. It is about deliberate desecration of the blog by a provocateur.

I maintain my campaign. BAN AIG

June 30th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

Although I seem to have the second-highest per-day comment rate on SC (yay…), I’m actually not here enough to see everything. I can’t argue with you, certainly not with how you feel. But I do know that AIG does unfortunately represent at the moment what most Israelis feel about the Arab world. Therefore, to be fair, his view is important. I understand you’re not arguing against that, but against the style, or the “hidden agenda” if you will. In my very first interaction with AIG, I thought the same, and then I changed my mind (and he changed his style of argument with me). I don’t know, I guess Alex and Joshua are here to make these decisions. But I do think SC benefits from opposing views, as long as they are constructive, and not destructive.

June 30th, 2008, 7:10 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Shai,

By Israel yes, all will join, by the US I do not know, but Syria help can innocently stear up things in Iraq and lead the Arab anti-US street. In case Iran seemed to need help against the uS that is.

But dont worry again. Take my word. Nothing gonna happen.

June 30th, 2008, 7:26 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa, inshalla, you’re right. But I can’t say I’m not worried…

June 30th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

ausamaa said:

leyla tof Shai..think about it tomrrow. There will be a tomorrow. Always.

June 30th, 2008, 7:42 pm

 

Shai said:

Ausamaa,

As long as there are people like you in our region, I will always look forward to tomorrow. Lyla Tov my friend.

June 30th, 2008, 7:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,

You see little value in most people that think differently than you. You are pro-democracy only if the results are what you like, otherwise your fellow Americans are stupid or not educated enough. Your scorn and contempt for your compatriots is the main reason people like you have no influence. The other reason is that you seldom make sense.

And you were called a bigot for hating all Israelis because of me. That is paradigm bigotry like hating all Arabs because of Bin-Laden.

June 30th, 2008, 7:55 pm

 

Joshua said:

qunfuz habibi,

You write, “I hope you will read my (Robin Yassin-Kassab) book The Road from Damascus.”

I did not know you were Qunfuz!!

You should tell us these things!!

Congrats to you. I wish I had known when I wrote about your book!

Joshua

June 30th, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Ahminajad talks about the hidden imam coming soon. Martyrdom is cherished by the Iranian regime and yet you are not worried about them having a bomb because you believe they are “rational”. And why do you think that if at first they develop a relatively less powerful bomb they will not eventually develop a big bomb? And why do you think 10,000 people dead in Tel-Aviv is no big deal?

The biggest problem with Iran is that they will give the bomb to some terrorist organization to use in Israel. Imagine the Palestinians shoot such a bomb at Ashkelon. What does Israel do? How will we ever prove that the bomb was Iranian and not from Pakistan? Iran will play the game of “plausible deniability” and Israeli will have very few options. Do you think we could obliterate Iran after something like that happened?

And Ausamaa is in principle against a Jewish state. What are you so happy about his opinions? Do you also think a Jewsih state is a bad idea?

June 30th, 2008, 8:05 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You not only state facts about me, you also interpret them. You keep repeating things, as if that makes it true. I never said I’m not worried about Iran having a bomb. I never said, or insinuated, I thought 10,000 dead in Tel-Aviv is no big deal. I never said a Jewish state was a bad idea. I cannot engage you respectfully in an argument, if you try to bring me down to the level of an irresponsible, silly little child. Surely even you can imagine there are other reasons for my rationale, and try a little harder to find them. In fact, I tend to spell them out quite clearly, at least to people that are open to hearing them.

To make it fast and easy, I’ll summarize. Israel is infinitely stronger than Iran. The Iranians know that if they use a nuclear weapon against Israel, their punishment will be infinitely more severe. They are therefore less likely to bring down the palace over their own heads, even if they had such a weapon. Giving an atomic device to whom? The Palestinians? Al Qaida? No responsible nation on earth would do such a foolish thing, as they do not know how the weapon will be used. Israel is far less a threat to Iran, than the U.S. is (which surrounds Iran from two sides at the moment). Using that rationale, perhaps Iran will smuggle a device to Al Qaida, which will use it in downtown NYC. It’s very unlikely, and you don’t go creating and carrying out foreign policy based on such scenarios. It’s the same kind of scenario as your Syria still supporting terrorism after making peace with Israel one. Using this subtle and cunning “plausible deniability” principle. Since you yourself know when Syria is using it and when not, why do you think Iran will succeed in fooling everyone? And again, neither you nor AP have yet defined what “wiping Israel off the planet” means. How will that be done? How many have to die, for us to hand the keys over, and to whom?

Nations do not go to war unless they feel they can achieve something. Iran will not kill 10 or 20 or even 30 thousand Israelis, only to have nothing left afterwards at home. They will be dooming their nation to the kind of suffering that even the most religious Shia in Iran will not be able to overlook and forgive the regime. The leaders aren’t suicidal. If they were, they wouldn’t live long. They’re not “rational” or “irrational”. They’re survivalists, first and foremost. And it is precisely because I DO worry about 10,000 Israelis dying, that I don’t think it is wise to attack Iran. But if so many Israelis would die in a huge regional confrontation that would ensue (on at least 3 fronts), you’d say it was still worth it, because better 10,000 than 500,000 right? And when asked where you got that figure from, you’d say, oh, that’s 50 atomic bombs x 10,000 people dead each. With 3,000 centrifuges working full time, nonstop for a year, 1 Hiroshima-size atomic bomb could be produced. How long will it take Iran to produce 50? Or to get 3,000 centrifuges even working properly? Or to suddenly have 30,000 centrifuges? Let’s at least know a little of what we’re talking about, shall we?

June 30th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

And again, neither you nor AP have yet defined what “wiping Israel off the planet” means.

Shai,

What do you think it means?

June 30th, 2008, 8:40 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Why do you think the Iranians will stop at 3,000 centrifuges? Is it not clear to you that once they have the technology they could perfect it over a few years?

When Hizballah shoots Iranian rockets at Israel, can Israel attack Iran? If Hizballah shoots a bomb at Israel, could Israel retaliate against Iran? No it couldn’t. The Iranians would be more than willing to do this and there are enough idiots among the Lebanese and Palestinians that may give it a go. My favorite scenario is an islamic Palestinian group shooting such a bomb from Lebanon, filming it on video and claiming responsibility for it. What exactly does Israel do in such a situation? Let me know who you think it would be justifed to retaliate against.

Plausible deniability is a serious issue for Israel because it means we have no deterrence. In the scenario above, would Europe accept we obliterate Iran? Or Lebanon? Or Gaza? Would QN understand if we flatten Lebanon? Do we kill 20 million Iranians because a Palestinian group sent a nuclear bomb into Israel from Lebanon? I would rather make sure that we are never in this very likely situation. If you think about it, it is also the interest of our neighbors to stop such scenarios.

June 30th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

I know you’re Jewish, but you really don’t have to answer a question with another question. Please elaborate on such a “clear” concept. Perhaps others here, like me, do not quite understand it. Do explain in more specific terms, what and how this would happen.

June 30th, 2008, 8:44 pm

 

wizart said:

My view on the BAN AIG campaign suggested above is as follows:

We all probably know what a self fulfilling prophecy is. Why allow all this AIG/attack Iran now provocations to spread on a blog about Syria? I mean is it not enough the world has to listen to what Bush says about Iran on a weekly basis while avoiding all the domestic issues that most Americans are really concerned about?

It’s pretty obvious to me that this Iran campaign is about getting free access to Iran and Iraq’s oil fields while the Saudi fields are aging and the world increasingly needs Middle Eastern oil, etc.

AIG is a prophet of doom, gloom, war, fear and attack Iran now kind of a guy that in my opinion should be banned if only for propagating a campaign of spreading fear of Iran/Syria and intimidating those who don’t think his way not to mention other violations as previously reported by several regular participants.

This AIG seems to me like an obvious public offender, not because of his opposing views but because he’s a threat to peace, a constant distractor, an intimidator and a bad representative of Israeli’s public interest, not to mention the interest of world peace and prosperity.

Salam / Shalom
P E A C E
BAN A I G

June 30th, 2008, 8:55 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG, you’re right.

Let’s make sure that never happens. So how about attacking Pakistan as well? They have the capabilities, there are quite a few millions of Muslim anti-Israel supporters, and they certainly know how to pass “the bomb” to anyone they want. It is also a very unstable regime. So what are we waiting for? Let’s do them. What about the Syrians? We now hear there are 4 installations. And they DO have thousands of SCUD missiles and a nicely developed chemical and biological weapons program. Let’s do them also. And HA right now has tens of thousands of rockets that can certainly kill a few thousands Israelis, so what are we waiting for? Are we being irresponsible, for NOT attacking anything and anyone that has ever called for Israel’s demise?

You, and many other paranoid Israelis, are living in a Tom Clancey movie. You think the “good guys” go in, attack, destroy, and come home to a nice warm dinner, and a medal of honor. The movie ends with a kiss, not with thousands of rockets landing atop towns and cities from three different directions, and an accelerated program to develop, and truly use, nuclear weapons. And what about Jewish targets worldwide? If hundreds of Jews also die in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America, will that have been worth it? In 1981 we destroyed Saddam’s nuclear aspirations, right? Well, according to what we know today, if Iraq hadn’t invaded Kuwait, and the U.S. hadn’t gone to war and defeated its army, Saddam would have nuclear technology a few months later! Only ten years were required for Saddam to stealthily rebuild his capabilities. God knows how little it took Libya, which shocked the entire world a few years back, with its voluntary disclosure.

Your Iran might be irrational (probably not), but it isn’t stupid, and it has learned the lessons of all of these. It can continue its nuclear program even after an attack, except, that it will have a far better reason (indeed almost a legitimacy) to attack Israel severely with such a weapon, the day it achieves this ability. And then what will we have achieved? Have you thought of all this?

June 30th, 2008, 9:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
How does an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilites justify using nuclear weapons against Israel? And if the Iranians are as rational as you believe, then why are they more likely to commit suicide according to you by attacking Israel with nuclear weapons once Israel attacks them with conventianal weapons? What you are saying does not make sense.

Rockets are not an existential threat to Israel. Nuclear bombs are. If even a Hiroshima force bomb, but dirtier, were to land in Haifa, the city and area could be contaminated for years to come. People with options would not risk their children to live in Israel, it is after all a very small country and everybody would be worried about radiation. Would business people and investors want to come? That would surely bring the end of Israel. We are a “one bomb country” even if that bomb kills “only” 10,000 people. Face the fact. I would rather suffer casualties from a conventional war than put Israel at risk of a nuclear war.

June 30th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
You are coming a long way towards being a bona fide Ba’athist. Just like they get to decide who is “patriotic” or not you reserve the right to restrict freedom of speech because you know who is “a threat to peace, a constant distractor, an intimidator and a bad representative of Israeli’s public interest, not to mention the interest of world peace and prosperity”. You cannot control your inner dictator can you? Don’t you know that the Stalinist manual you copied the above from is not used anymore even in Russia?

June 30th, 2008, 9:51 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

I know you’re Jewish, but you really don’t have to answer a question with another question. Please elaborate on such a “clear” concept. Perhaps others here, like me, do not quite understand it. Do explain in more specific terms, what and how this would happen.

Shai,

Excuse me, but I was trying to get your opinion. I’ve already expressed my opinion, along with several examples provided by MEMRI’s archive of statements from the Iranian government. My religion has nothing to do with it.

There are tonnes of opinions, from objective gentiles, who think we should confront Iran on the nuclear issue.

Anyway if you don’t want to answer my question, you don’t have to, but please take your own advice and PROVE to us that the Iranian government has no desire to create nuclear weapons and use them against Israel. If there’s anything I’ve learned from history, is that one must take the rantings and the actions of a fanatic very seriously.

June 30th, 2008, 10:54 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Wizart,

thanks so much for joining this campaign to free us from AIG. Takes great will power to resist the current of AIG.

The man is like a drug unfortunately, hard to pass up, and addicting, so I fear it will take many months for people to hit their bottom with him and cry for freedom. Perhaps then the campaign will reach its goal.

z

June 30th, 2008, 10:59 pm

 

Karim said:

Qunfuz ,Nasrallah follows iranian regime orders so you can not say that he is independent ,he is a small servant of Khamainei and if he is careful it’s because they are a minority in the region between sunni sea and he can not do what he wishes ,ask yourself if we were the 10 % and they were 90 % how would they deal with the sons of Ummayads ??? we have seen what they tried to do in Iraq when they had the opportunity and what they did to the unarmed palestinians in Iraq and before that the Palestinians of Lebanon,and for sure no more than the lebanese hezbollahis and the pro amal hate the palestinian people or the syrian people so their schizophrenic bids in the name of palestine and arabism are no more than hypocrisy and lies.

June 30th, 2008, 11:54 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

If you know the iranians, they are very religious and the Shia movement is historically NOT an aggressive religion, it is a defensive religion that abhors injustice. They have no desire of mass murdering people, even their ennemies. Like the jews, the shias have been opressed by the sunni majority in the arab world. Somehow Iran is what Israel is for the jews, a safe haven for people persecuted on the basis of their religion.
Like Israelis , Iranians have a persecution feeling and this has pushed them through the years in developing strength, pride and resilience to deter ennemies. They fought and won the war against Saddam who qualified this war as the war against heretics, after invading their land.
Israelis Jews and Iranians Shias have a lot in common, much more than the jews and the sunnis. Iran and Israel could be the best allies, only if Israel would show willingness to correct the historical injustice they have inflicted to the palestinians.
When Saddam was using chemical gaz against iranians during the war, in the total indifference of the world, the iranians never used unconventionnal weapons and treated the iraqis prisonner with humanity.
Iran will not use lethal weapon that may kill innocent civilians, it is totally against their strong religious beliefs. Yes, they will fight to defend their sovereignty if attacked.
Israel will bear the responsibility of any war that would be triggered by their attacks on Iran soil.
I wish that Israel’s insecurity feeling will not bring it to foolishly open the door to a disaster.

July 1st, 2008, 3:23 am

 

Karim said:

WHY ,the iranian people are the less religious in the muslim world.
I know many and no one of my iranian friends go to the mosque or fast during the month of ramadan even those who were members of the revolutionary youth when they were in Iran.Dont be deluded by the regime nature.
Thanks to the hypocrisy of the iranian clerical regime,there is a real ill felling toward Islam in general and the arabs in particular.
The iranian regime is even more corrupt than the syrian.

In Islam ,there should be no clerical system nor a theocratic regime.

July 1st, 2008, 3:46 am

 

Karim said:

They have no desire of mass murdering people, even their ennemies.

WHY ,this is very wrong,every time they had the oportunity they mass killed the Sunnis …For exemple ,during the Mongolian invasion(the adviser of Hulaku was nothing else than the famous Shia scholar and great scientist Nasir Din al Tusi) and the Sefevids mass murdered millions of Sunnis ,before the Sefevids Iran was a sunni majority country this is why we had in the syrian,turkish cities the districts of al ajam which were inhabited by persian sunni refugies.
There is also a lot to say on the persecution of the iranian sunnis under khomainist regime.
WHY,the iranian regime shia’ism is based on the hatred of the first 3 califs and the wife of the prophet and 99% of the sahabis….so the Husayniyat are places in which are cursed the people who are considered as a model of morality for us…..But we can not Say that Sunnism teach hatred and revenge against Ahl Bayt because they are revered by us at the same level of Omar ,Abu Bakr and Osman.

July 1st, 2008, 3:59 am

 

Shai said:

AIG, AP,

I don’t need to prove to you that Iran won’t or will use an atomic bomb once they get their hands on one. You’re suggesting attacking them, so you need to justify the reason for this, given that this will have an effect on the lives of many Israelis immediately thereafter. Syria has for years developed and nourished a very threatening chemical and biological weapons program. They didn’t do this to supply Syrian biology students with samples in school. They did this for deterrence purposes, and for their own worst-case-scenario should Israel, or anyone else, decide to attack them. Yet they’ve never used this against Israel. Iran itself has an active WMDs program, yet has never used it against us, or even against the Iraqis. Why not? Because they know what would be our response.

To use this as the rationale FOR attacking them (i.e. suggesting they would therefore also not respond, fearing again our response to that), is like suggesting that Cuba or Khrushchev would not have retaliated against the U.S. had it attacked in October of 1962. Go back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and see how similar the situation is. An apparent nuclear capability is being installed a mere 90 miles off the Florida coast, threatening immediately the lives of some 90 million Americans. There is no doubt that this is the direction. The American reconnaissance flights show clearly the buildup taking place. Surrounding JFK are the smartest and most experienced people in the U.S. military, Intelligence, and defense community. All are unanimous about what needs to be done. All suggest attacking Cuba, and the sooner the better. Only one single voice, that of Tommy Thompson (an ex-ambassador to the Soviet Union), suggests there is another alternative, a diplomatic one. And JFK listens to this voice, and not to all the rest. He is, according to you, being the most irresponsible person, because he is ignoring reality as it quickly unfolds right in front of him, endangering his nation with each moment that passes. Yet JFK’s fear, is that an attack on Cuba would leave the U.S. in a far more dangerous world. So he chooses another path.

We know today that Cuba actually had already 162 nuclear warheads ready to be launched at the U.S. should it have attacked. We also know that Castro asked Khrushchev to use these weapons in case of an attack and, that Castro knew what this would mean for his Island nation (total destruction). When Robert McNamara met Castro in 1992, he asked Castro these questions, and why on earth he would be willing to bring down the palace over his head. Castro responded by suggesting that should they have been in the same situation, he too, as well as John Kennedy, would have done the same. We can learn something from this – that there’s only so much a nation will take, when it comes to her pride and sovereignty, before it lashes out with everything it has. If we attack Iran, it will attack back. It will use all its might, at home and abroad (HA, Hamas, agents worldwide, etc.) to hit and hit hard. If it had been the other way around (Iran attacking our nuclear installations), we would have done the same. There is little doubt, that a terrible confrontation will ensue, causing the deaths of many. And why? Because you fear a nuclear Iran might use its few bombs the minute it builds them.

I don’t know where you get your definitions of “conventional” from, but to me, thousands of rockets landing atop Israeli towns and cities, from three different directions, is anything but conventional. It will be almost impossible for Israel to destroy these capabilities, without first destroying much of these nations. We will have to ruin most of Southern Lebanon, and probably good parts of Beirut. We’ll have to launch massive attacks on Iranian cities, to stop their own attacks on us. We’ll have to physically enter Gaza, and go searching for the “bad guys” who’ll be launching Qassams faster than I can type these words. This scenario isn’t a far-fetched one. It really can and will happen, should we attack Iran. And we will suffer terribly (not to mention causing the suffering of many innocent ones around us). And then what? We’ll delay the Iranian bomb by a few years, maybe even a decade. But we won’t delay their resolve – the opposite – we’ll only strengthen it. And then, when they do achieve a bomb, it might be clear to them what they must do with it. The entire Iranian nation will rally behind their leaders (something they are not doing at the moment), and will seek revenge.

Why can’t you put yourself in their shoes, and see that this is exactly what you would do, if you were attacked? We can argue all night long and theorize about whether Ahmadinejad’s words will become a reality. But if we attack Iran, that WILL be Iran’s reality, and they WILL bring their won punishment upon us thereafter. I’m not afraid of the first act in this play. I’m afraid of the ensuing acts that follow.

July 1st, 2008, 5:05 am

 

Alex said:

Karim,

– True the Iranian regime is corrupt … I don’t know if they are more corrupt that the Syrian regime … but I seriously doubt they are more corrupt than the Saudi regime.

– Many Iranians are religious quite religious … for example, Ahmadinejad (the hardliner) was elected over some others who were relatively more open minded.

Shai,

I support W-D … the easiest way to destroy an enemy is to convert him into a friend… that’s how you should deal with Iran.

July 1st, 2008, 5:15 am

 

why-discuss said:

Karim

The whole anti-islamic feeling in the western world has not started with the iranian islamic revolution in 1978, it has started in 2001 with the 9/11 perpetrated by Saudis and Egyptian sunnis and by the Sunni Talibans, financed and nourished by the extremist Saudi wahhabis.
So please do not accuse the iranians or the shia to have given a bad image of Islam. There has never been any Shia in Guantanamo! And Saddam Husseyn and chemical Ali were sunnis!

July 1st, 2008, 5:30 am

 

Karim said:

Alex ,Ahmednajad is a puppet ,the true power are in the hands of Rafsandjani and his son even more than Khamainai.As for the elections,only religious approved by khamainei council are allowed to participate.
As for the saudi regime more corrupt than the iranian i doubt but for sure both are very corrupt and ask yourself why the iranian civil servant is paid only 150 US dollars and why all this poverty in one of the richest country in the world ?
This is why you will never see Lebanese or arab shias working in Iran.

The problem is that Iran is a so called Islamic republic and the clerics are like our Syrian mukhabarat ,so this is an insult to Islam.In Saudi Arabia we have the opposite the people are religious and the rulers are seculars.

You should also take into account that Saudi Arabia 40 years ago was a country of uneducated beduins but Iran was the most advanced country in the region.I dont think that the iranians today are living better than the Saudis .

Alex do u know how much percent of the syrian population depend on the Saudi economy and how much Saudis have syrian mothers or are of Syrian origin ?

July 1st, 2008, 5:34 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

There’s no doubt in my mind that an attack on Iran will only serve to unite the Iranian people against the attacker. If today a silent majority of Iranians want peace with Israel, the day after an attack, they’ll reverse that opinion and seek revenge. They’ll rally behind their leaders, and seek a just and painful punishment.

Few Israelis, if any, are capable of imagining peace with Iran. They listen to Ahmadinejad’s belligerent words (which are, after all, very different from any other leader’s in the region), and assume he represents the powerbase in Iran, their wishes, as well as their intentions. If I believed Iran was intent on using an atomic bomb the minute it had it, I too would seek to disrupt its intentions. Personally, I see no reason for Iran to do such a thing, given Israel’s infinitely superior capabilities.

July 1st, 2008, 5:43 am

 

Alex said:

Karim,

I understand. I am not a fan of the way the “Iranian regime” governs Iran … There is an unhealthy relation between religion and state in Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran.

But I do appreciate their genuine support for Syria .. The Iranians always respected their promises and agreements.

And I think that the whole middle east should be thankful to Iran … if there was no Iran, the neocons would have felt confident enough to try invading other parts … starting with Syria probably.

As for the argument about corruption in Iran being higher tan corruption in Saudi Arabia …Please remember that Iran’s population is 65 millions and Saudi Arabia’s population is 22 millions (not including foreigners in both cases)

Saudi Arabia’s yearly Income from oil sales alone will probably top 1/2 Trillion for 2008 with oil at $135/bbl

Iran’s oil income is estimated at 70 Billions.

So … multiply 500 by 65 .. divide by 22 .. then divide by 70 .. that gives Saudi Arabia a much more favorable ratio of oil income to population … 21 times more favorable.

July 1st, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Alex said:

Shai

And even if many Iranians do indeed hate Israel … it is reversible.

If Israel stops what it is doing to the Palestinians … There will undoubtedly be a serious positive shift in attitude towards Israel.

July 1st, 2008, 6:03 am

 

Shai said:

Alex, I may ask you to take a look at my portfolio… 🙂

Don’t tell me – tell AIG and AP.

July 1st, 2008, 6:03 am

 

Alex said:

Shai

I assure you that you will not, if you knew what is happening to my portfolio this year : )

July 1st, 2008, 6:06 am

 

Shai said:

Should have invested in Oil… and then I could have spread rumors that we’re going to attack Iran. You know, our former COGS sold his stocks the morning the two soldiers were kidnapped by HA. Kind of makes you wonder… or not.

July 1st, 2008, 6:08 am

 

Alex said:

I can’t tell them .. they are pre-programmed to understand only a predefined set of inputs.

July 1st, 2008, 6:13 am

 

Karim said:

Alex,i’m like Saint Thomas d’Aquinas: i believe in what i see.
The reality say that the neo cons conspired together with the iranian regime against Iraq ,Abdelaziz Hakim was send by the iranian regime to meet Paul Wolfowitz prior to the invasion and if the Neo Cons feared so much Iran so for what reason they gave them the Iraqi state on a golden tray and only to them ?!All the others were send out.And even before the invasion Dick Cheney company Hallburton was operating in Iran.
http://money.cnn.com/2003/05/29/news/iran_sanctions/
I’m also sure that you heard about the weapon deals between Khomaini and ISrael during their war against Iraq ….
Alex,the iranian hypocrit regime is not a problem for the americans or the israelis,the arab and muslim people(not the regimes)are.
As for the syrian regime ,it’s normal to see in Iran a natural ally for the minority regime in Syria and btw Hafez Asad since he came to power in 1970 had tried to establish special ties with Iran even prior to the revolution when he took his wife(it’s very rare)and visited Shah of Iran.
In the alawite religion there is some Zoroastrian influence and of course it’s also a Shia sect.Bashar and Hafez and their ancestors consider the Syrian people as the letal treat for them.I dont know if this story is true or not ,may be Dr Joshua can help us ,it’s said that the grandfather of Hafez Asad (Suleiman Asad)was among the nusayri tribal leaders who had written a letter to the french PM(i think it was Leon Blum who was jewish)asking to be separated from Muslim Syria and praised the zionist project.

July 1st, 2008, 6:30 am

 

Zenobia said:

karim said: Alex do u know how much percent of the syrian population depend on the Saudi economy and how much Saudis have syrian mothers or are of Syrian origin ?

Thats not cause the Saudis are so great or have anything in common with Syrians, … thats just cause everyone knows that Syrian women are hot stuff in the bedroom (even other rooms of the house).

July 1st, 2008, 6:33 am

 

Karim said:

Zenobia ,some of the Saudi ladies are rare beauties ,but is it possible to marry with a Saudi girl for a Syrian (i know only one) ?

July 1st, 2008, 6:37 am

 

Alex said:

Karim,
But what does the current Shia regime have to do with Iran’s few remaining Zoroasterians?

July 1st, 2008, 6:37 am

 

Karim said:

Alex in some way yes.But it’s today more Shia alliance

July 1st, 2008, 6:40 am

 

Zenobia said:

The Saudi ladies don’t know what they are doing. they have no practice, they have no expertise. : )

Do i know if it is possible for Syrian men to marry Saudi ladies?…Is this a trick question? hmmmm. I don’t know. Ask Ausamaa , he probably knows.

I can’t see why not if the families know each other and you go about it in the traditional way. the only Syrian guys I know in Saudi are Christian, so they are definitely not marrying a Saudi girl. Otherwise, I would think that with enough stature, anything is possible.

July 1st, 2008, 6:44 am

 

Alex said:

Karim,

If you read Persepolis (part I) you will get an interesting hint about Zoroastrians in Iran.

July 1st, 2008, 6:47 am

 

Karim said:

The Saudi ladies don’t know what they are doing. they have no practice, they have no expertise. : )

Zenobia ,the saudi society has changed ,saudi women are in general more educated than saudi men so yes i think it should be possible for a syrian to marry a saudi woman ……theoretically…

And Zenobia we are not Lebanon ,Syrian society is among the most conservative in the world…and especially during these last decades….i have read that more than 80% are hijabis.

July 1st, 2008, 6:49 am

 

Karim said:

Alex ,i saw this film.The iranian cinema is very good,some names are very famous in Europe like Abbas Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf familly.

July 1st, 2008, 6:54 am

 

Zenobia said:

Karim, don’t be fooled, maybe you have no idea what these syrian ladies are wearing under their long trench-coats, but…

the forbidden is all the more tantalizing. don’t you think?

lets say, it is all an illusion…..: )

July 1st, 2008, 7:05 am

 

wizart said:

Zenobia,

You’re very welcome.

Most highly educated participants such as yourself see beyond his shiny veneer. I will do like they do and ignore him as usual.

Unfortunately, the free internet allows the AIG’s of the world to infiltrate every open space to spread their inner venom. Regular media is not enough. Buying up dictators in the Middle East is not enough. Spending $600 billion on defense every year is not enough.

You correctly mention freedom because it’s exactly what’s at stake.

People with limited education and limited access to verifiable data can be and are often easily manipulated in forums like this.

The stakes are high and the call to action is a duty for every concerned/responsible citizen who supports freedom from the lies that are continously being spread daily with different facades.

I salute your efforts and that of other responsible participants.

Sincerely,

W

July 1st, 2008, 7:20 am

 

Karim said:

Zenobia,as woman you know better ,…but i dont know …women are shrouded in mistery.
Anyway i’m not yet married, i’m looking for other than syrian ,i think that i will ask my mother to search in Turkey or why not an Iranian girl.

July 1st, 2008, 7:20 am

 

zenobia said:

lol. yes, yes they are….

well, good luck with that. I am just joking with you. but half seriously…. ys, there is a very high percentage these days of young syrian ladies in hijab. but it is kind of schizophrenic because they are also obsessed with being attractive and ultra feminine and many wear what would be hooker make up in the US, which i find so funny. (thats all over the middle east of course).
and in the private situations many of the ladies are dressed super sexy and all enticing…..
its all so freudian to me, you know, the return of the repressed and all that.
hmm. oh well.

Turkish woman?….hmmm , I don’t know. They might be ok, but the guys there are very naughty indeed.
I would go for Iranian instead.

You know what. Its really not about Nationality, or even culture at bottom. although those aspects may be more or less attractive. More importantly though- the issue is good character, and there are good and bad ones everywhere.

wizart, yes , exactly…

July 1st, 2008, 7:39 am

 

Karim said:

Zenobia there is no problem for us as Moslem ,Allah is beautiful and HE loves beauty and we should not be complexed about sexuality it’s a positive thing in Islam …but i agree their make up is beurrrrrk we have lost any stylishness…and from what i see in Syria ,the hijabi girls are more stylish than the non veiled girls ,specially those who tries to imitate the lebanese singers,,this contour de rouge à lèvre…in the end they look like Elvira in more ugly.

BTW,it’s said that our former elite in the 50’s was more stylish than the same kind of people in Lebanon …that’s why most of the lebanese politicians were married to syrian ladies.

July 1st, 2008, 7:59 am

 

Shai said:

Ah… sorry to interrupt the discussion about Arab women (though personally I find many to be very attractive indeed)… Here’s some “good news” coming from the Pentagon: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3562460,00.html

Ausamaa, they’re not as optimistic as you are… I hope they’re wrong.

July 1st, 2008, 8:04 am

 

Karim said:

Habibi Alex, ok let us compare the economy of a country like Turkey to Iran ….Turkey has an higher GDP they have no oil no gas….in the same time 90 % of the iranian exports are based on oil .
Ask the iranians most of them will tell you that this regime is a british french american creation and when we see the freedom given to Khomaini when he was in France and how the Shah was neglected by his former western allies,it’s obvious.
The destruction of the iranian regime Alex ,doesnt need an invasion ,as i said Iran is a country of minorities and the iranian people have only resentment toward this regime.
300 000 Iranians are leaving Iran /year…..in very bad condition,many are dying in the sea between Turkey and Greece.

July 1st, 2008, 8:08 am

 

zenobia said:

I think Alex is asleep now! it would be 5am for him cause it is 2 for me…..
so i am off now. but Karim, ys, you are so right.
and … I’ve seen pics of my aunts in about 1960, in damas, and they look fantastic….all chic ….and like europeans.. in puffy dresses and the buffont hair, but really sweet and fashionable. It was very funny.

goodnight all.

July 1st, 2008, 9:02 am

 

qunfuz said:

Karim – with respect, what a lot of crazed sectarian rubbish you speak. True that Shia fought Palestinians in Lebanon, but this was Amal, and do you really want to use the Lebanese tragedy – in which everybody killed everybody – to prove that Sunnis are good and Shia bad? As it happens, in Lebanon, Hizbullah has the cleanest hands. What Shia militias and gangs have done to Iraqi Sunnis and Palestinians in Iraq is grotesque, but it no more represents all Shia than Zarqawi’s barbarous campaign of murder against Shia civilians – which preceded the Shia revenge – represents all Sunnis. Nasrallah has again and again spoken against sectarianism and has characterised the fitna in Iraq as what it is – agreat gift to the occupiers.
Your wondering ‘what would the Shia do if they were the majority?’ is as pointless as wondering what Muslims, or gypsies, or Jews, were the majority in Europe, or blacks in America. In other words, it’s ahistorical and racist.

July 1st, 2008, 10:14 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss claims:

The whole anti-islamic feeling in the western world has not started with the iranian islamic revolution in 1978, it has started in 2001 with the 9/11 perpetrated by Saudis and Egyptian sunnis and by the Sunni Talibans, financed and nourished by the extremist Saudi wahhabis.
So please do not accuse the iranians or the shia to have given a bad image of Islam.

Here’s article by Time Magazine that disputes this claim:

9/11 Commission Finds Ties Between al-Qaeda and Iran

Next week’s much anticipated final report by a bipartisan commission on the origins of the 9/11 attacks will contain new evidence of contacts between al-Qaeda and Iran—just weeks after the Administration has come under fire for overstating its claims of contacts between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

A senior U.S. official told TIME that the Commission has uncovered evidence suggesting that between eight and ten of the 14 “muscle” hijackers—that is, those involved in gaining control of the four 9/11 aircraft and subduing the crew and passengers—passed through Iran in the period from October 2000 to February 2001. Sources also tell TIME that Commission investigators found that Iran had a history of allowing al-Qaeda members to enter and exit Iran across the Afghan border. This practice dated back to October 2000, with Iranian officials issuing specific instructions to their border guards—in some cases not to put stamps in the passports of al-Qaeda personnel—and otherwise not harass them and to facilitate their travel across the frontier. The report does not, however, offer evidence that Iran was aware of the plans for the 9/11 attacks.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,664967,00.html

AIG –

As you said, it’s all the about “plausible deniability”. That’s the M.O.

July 1st, 2008, 10:53 am

 

Karim said:

Qunfuz ,i’m the sectarian and Nasrallah is not ok but where is the difference between Zarqawi and the masters of Nasrallah who created and trained the death squads who killed 10 000’s of Iraqis and the disarmed syrians and palestinians of Iraq ?Zarqawi and his gang are no more than 5 000 but those that Nasrallah and the death squads in Iraq obey are in fact a regime and a government with all its apparatuses.Is Nasrallah a follower of this iranian faqih rule or not ?.Nasrallah as i said he is limited by the context,the fear for his image in the arab ‘sunni’ world ,in fact he is more exposed contrary to the iraqi context which is a mess so they can use the occupation alibi but what he did in Beirut against Beiruti civilians and his protection to the known killers of the 2 Ziads(a child) of Beirut who were tortured to death in the same way of the hezbollahi death squads of Iraq said a little about his intent.As for Amal it’s the mother of all sectarian shia parties in Lebanon,and Nasrallah himself was Amal member ,the difference is that Amal became more pro Asad and Hezbollah 100 % Iranian regime tool.(who bombed the iraqi embassy in Beirut ?).Both are related to sectarian regimes that killed 10 000’s of civilians.

July 1st, 2008, 11:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

An excellent article:

The Islamist-Leftist Allied Menace

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/5720

July 1st, 2008, 11:35 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

In the Ynet article Shai referred is said:

In a related interview with the British ‘Daily Telegraph,’ Bolton said he believed the Arab world would be “pleased” by an Israeli strike.

The guy must be completely nuts. If some dictators loyal to USA or some fat Saudi princes are “pleased” the Arab world and Muslim certainly will not be. Well here we can see who is the “Arab world” in the minds of those famous Americans who want Middle East to be democratic.

—-

Akbar what makes me constantly wonder how much these anonumoys Pentagon sources know about Al Qaida, Iran, Syria and Iraq. And how unsuccessful they are in hunting down that Al Qaida organization if there in reality even exists or ever has existed such a “centralized club”. Akbar why is USA so afraid to put those Guantanamo Bay prisoners in front of a descent court so we all would see the “evidence”. May there is no real evidence.

Before, when the data was “revealed” of Iraqi WMD’s, these sources mostly used their own names. And after no WMD’s were never found and countless other stories which later were found as lies, now everybody is ANONYMOUS. Certainly after Powell’s faith nobody wants to risk his/her reputation by telling neocon fiction to the loyal press using their own name. If the reason for Pentagon and Jerusalem not officially to tell these “anonymous stories” is done for security reasons, why aren’t Pentagon and Jerusalem not worried that their organizations leak in an unseen way. 🙂

Abbar we the “west” are really confused against whom this War on Terror is fought. Do we fight in this mysterious war against all those who use terrorism in their fights? I can see very little “international” war efforts against terrorism in Niger, Russia, China, Kurd area, Turkey, Bask area, Corsica, Ceylon etc. So we westerns do fight against “terror” rather selectively. I see extremely much movements in this War on Terror against those who have a “negative” attitude against Israel. Some with good reasons (Hamas, Hizbollah), some with less good “reasons”.

Is this war against Muslims, because the Hindus (Tamils) and the Christians (South Tiroleans, Basks and those in Corsica). terrorists seem not to be not included in this war.
It is rather “amusing” that a Muslim terrorist using terror against Turks (Muslims) or an Iranian separatist group (Muslims) using terror against Iranians (Muslims) are seen are “almost” as freedom fighters. Not to mention “our” attitude towards Chechnyian terrorists or Chinese Muslim separatists using bombs. So it is not against against the Muslim terrorists. We westerns understand the reasons for most of the worlds “terrorists'” fights and more or less approve those fights. In many ways we are supporting those “terrorists” even they are Muslims.

But then we come to those who are fighting against Israel (or have a rather hostile attitude against Israel) and some US oil companies interests. They are the real bad “terrorists” and the the targets of the War on Terror when the other terrorists were in our eyes almost freedom fighters.

Doesn’t this hypocrisy disturb you Akbar? It does disturb me. Actually the War on Terror should be renamed as the War on Terror against Israel. In reality this War on Terror is solely fought for Israeli interests and for US oil and geopolitical power interests in Middle East. This no international war against the usage of terrorism. There is only a war against those who have used terror against Israel or are using the word Israel in their propaganda.

Still I wonder why we westerns are demanded to fight against some terrorists while we support other terrorists.

July 1st, 2008, 12:48 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
If Iran reacts as you say to Israeli attacks, Israel will take out the Iranian oil facilities. Without oil, Iran will quickly go bankrupt, especially if it insists on terror attacks in foreign countries.

So if the Iranians are rational, they will not do as you say.

The Cuba missile crisis just proves the point. The US should have attacked Cuba BEFORE the missiles were put there. This would have solved the problem.

July 1st, 2008, 12:50 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Karim,
Your visceral hatred and despise for Shias ( typical of some frustrated sunnis in front of the newly gained power of the long despised Shias ) is blinding you and you interpret everything through the hate glass. Facts speak for themselves:
Al Qaeda, the Talibans and the Salafists are 100% sunnis and they are the terrorists that every country in the world is fighting against.
These terrorists declare they want to create a wahhabi empire and eradicate all other religions that they consider as “kafer’, heretics.
In Saudi arabia, christians and other religions have no right to have a place of worship, a church or others. Women in Saudi arabia have no freedom, that’s what these extremists want to see in all arab and moslem countries( i.,e pakistan). Go to Iran and see, they are churches, even synagogues. Women drive, they own businesses, they make movies, they write and they have much more legal rights than in the money-paradise of Saudi arabia where they are treated like luxury objects.
If this is a sign, Guantanamo is packed with Sunnis, there is not a single Shia, please explain.

July 1st, 2008, 1:03 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

An excellent article:

The Islamist-Leftist Allied Menace

Wow Akbar, seems that most of us in the Christian world are secret “Islamists”. Remember those wast demonstrations when the “Islamic hordes” demonstrated in London, Melbourne, Helsinki, Berlin, Washington etc. against Iraq war.

It is astonishing how “irrationally” you guys use the term West and Western. The West doesn’t support this your war against “Islamic enemy” (what ever it is). That can be seen in the coalition size now in Iraq and how reluctantly the West is sending more soldiers to Afghanistan.

Akbar this is a war of some Jewish and Christian extrimists against rather poorly specified Muslim extrimists. And lets not forget the oil.

July 1st, 2008, 1:07 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Wow Akbar, seems that most of us in the Christian world are secret “Islamists”.

Sim –

Who came to that conclusion? It certainly wasn’t me.

July 1st, 2008, 2:17 pm

 

Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said: Edit

Shai,
If Iran reacts as you say to Israeli attacks, Israel will take out the Iranian oil facilities. Without oil, Iran will quickly go bankrupt, especially if it insists on terror attacks in foreign countries.

So if the Iranians are rational, they will not do as you say.

So if the Iranians are rational, as you seem to suggest, then they will also never attack Israel with a nuclear weapon … so why are you so scared of them?

July 1st, 2008, 4:12 pm

 

Alex said:

Karim said:

Habibi Alex, ok let us compare the economy of a country like Turkey to Iran ….Turkey has an higher GDP they have no oil no gas….in the same time 90 % of the iranian exports are based on oil .
Ask the iranians most of them will tell you that this regime is a british french american creation and when we see the freedom given to Khomaini when he was in France and how the Shah was neglected by his former western allies,it’s obvious.

Karim,

I won’t disagree with you there … Between Iran and Turkey, I will easily chose Turkey, and I’m very happy to see Bashar opening up the border and trade and culture with Turkey.

Between Iran and Saudi Arabia … I much prefer Iran.

And that was my original point.

By the way , I think you might be forming some of your opinions of what is happening inside Iran based to a large extent on your friends who are very much opposed to the Iranian regime. What you are missing is the rest of Iran … those who did not leave the country and are, to various degrees, satisfied with or tolerant of their current regime.

I would expect a no-drama bell curve distribution of attitudes towards their leadership. Why?

– Since there is no revolution … no millions demonstrating in the streets against the regime, I don’t expect much weight on the extreme negative attitude range.

– Since the regime is indeed corrupt and often backward, since most Iranians are not doing too well economically, I don’t expect much weight on the extreme positive attitude range.

July 1st, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Well,if we want to put it mildely let us just say that the Saudi Regime works for the Saudi Regime (AL SAUD), the Iranian regime works for the sevety million Iranian People or the Iranian Nation if you like.

July 1st, 2008, 5:55 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
It is Shai that says they are rational, and that is why he should not fear an attack on Iran since the Iranians will react in a rational manner if attacked by Israel. I do not think they are rational and will take many chances that will in the end make the life of Iranians worse.

As for your answer to Karim, it is just plain wrong. Most people in Zimbabwe hate the guts of Mugabe but you do not see revolution and people rioting. Why? Because just like the Syrian and Iranian regime, the Mugabe regime is ruthless and will do all that is necessary to stay in power, as Asad proved in Hama.

July 1st, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

ugarit said:

Most “moderate” (i.e. aligned with the US) Arab regimes are equivalent to Zimbabwe but there is no significant outcry on a global scale when these “moderate” regimes behave equivalently to Zimbabwe. I wonder why? I think you know the answer. It all belittles the struggle for democracy in the Arab world

July 1st, 2008, 9:59 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Both “moderate” and “resistance” Arab states stink quite badly. However, they don’t starve their population as Mugabe is doing. Even Asad has not yet wrecked the Syrian agriculture as Mugabe did.

July 1st, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

One of the reasons why you will never be able to make peace with anyone (Syria, Palestinians, …) is because you lack the most basic understanding of the emotional aspects to a conflict. You talk about rational and irrational, but seem to completely neglect the emotional. No nation on earth, certainly no Muslim nation, will allow another to humiliate it, without developing hatred and seeking revenge. It is not only the Iranian leadership that will seek revenge, but indeed the Iranian people who will rally behind them like never before, should Israel decide to use power to solve the nuclear issue. You don’t need atomic bombs to kill thousands of Israelis, and to carry out a policy of revenge (“plausibly deniable”) for years to come. You think it’ll be a wham-bam-thank-you-maam, Iran will bow its defeated and shamed head down at Israel, and all will breathe a big sigh of relief. The opposite will happen. The region will begin to suffer like never before. It will become much more unstable, as Iran and its supporters (HA, Hamas, Syria?) will begin to avenge this foolish act. Plus, we’ll almost certainly be at a regional war, because Iran’s justified retaliation will push Israel to retaliate, and so forth.

The problem is, that you AIG don’t see that as a problem. You view such a clash in the Middle East as inevitable, and therefore almost seek it. A part of you will actually celebrate in some bizarre fashion the day you hear Israeli planes hit Iran’s nuclear facilities. You’ll ignore the painful and long-lasting retribution that will follow, and will hail the attack as a great success. Only after thousands of Israelis and Jews worldwide die, will you even begin to consider you may have made a mistake. Or, perhaps Alex is right, in that you cannot even see this as a possibility.

The power Israel has achieved is not meant to be used. It is not meant for preemption. It is meant as deterrence and, when that doesn’t work, as a response to attack, to war, to proven existential threats, not theoretical ones. With all due respect to the current Iranian president, rallying world Muslims behind him by declaring his wishes for the disappearance of the Zionist regime still remains very much in the unproven realm, not the proven one. And yes, to prove it, he would need to drop an atomic bomb. I think there are other ways to make Iran reconsider doing that. But power certainly is not the way.

July 2nd, 2008, 4:24 am

 

Alex said:

Shai, AIG

How many Israelis support a preemptive strike on Iran?

July 2nd, 2008, 4:43 am

 

Shai said:

Alex,

No one has been asked (in polls), because that kind-of says something about a nation, doesn’t it? So we don’t really know. But one can guess that the majority of Israelis will certainly support such an attack, assuming their leaders have done all the calculations, and are acting responsibly. When it comes to such an extreme action that a nation takes, which in a way is even more severe than starting conventional war, you can’t but expect most people to support it. What happens in the weeks and months afterwards, that’s another thing. Most Israelis and, in fact, most people in general, like to look at life through the best-case-scenario, and that’s why they won’t consider what could really happen if Iran is attacked, and decides to seek revenge. Personally, I’d like to consider the worst-case-scenario, before I go running to attack and destroy and humiliate someone else. Call me crazy.

July 2nd, 2008, 5:28 am

 

Karim said:

Dear why discuss,if the power of Iran and the shias mean the destruction and occupation of an arab country like Iraq so what we have won as arabs and muslims who are more than 90 % Sunnis ?
And Why discuss and what is the long term interest of the shia minorities in the arab world to compete with us ?the result is thqt we will hate them more and they will suffer from this behavior sooner or later,no ?or can they erase us ?
Alex,
No Saudi Arabia is doing much better ,you say this because you are a supporter of the minority regime dictatorship and that you can not free yourself of it ,even if your heart say otherwise …anyway this is a well known patology with people who live in our mukhabaratland .What is strange is that you have completly integrated the complex of what we can call the dhimmi complex but here in a way that you ask protection from a minority and not from the majority which is more secure at least.This is sad when i compare the quality of life and the importance of the christian community in Syria before and after Asad.Again you forget to compare Iran today what was Iran before and Saudi Arabia what it was before and what it is today ….and in that only the people suffering from a Stalinist or as said AIG Mugabist mentality like Aussama will always prefer the regimes based on slogans and in this yes the syrian regime is the best.
Alex ,i think that even Saudi Arabia has positive effect for the Syrian christians,100 000’s of leb and syrian christians work in Saudi Arabia ,most of those can return to Syria and live in Syria …contrary to those who left for the americas ,Europe or Australia.
There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia has changed to better compared to 40 years ago in all fields …can we say the same thing in the other theocratic ,nasserist,baathist countries which had discovered modernity 100 years ago ?

July 2nd, 2008, 7:03 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai opines:

No one has been asked (in polls), because that kind-of says something about a nation, doesn’t it?

Shai,

I found a poll conducted less than a year ago. Did you check?

IMHO, your comment of says more about YOU. It’s apparent to me that you’re always ready to criticise your own country first without much concern for the facts.

We have similar people here in the US: Senator Barrack Obama, his wife, Michael Moore, Keith Olberman, Jeremiah Wright, Al Gore, John Kerry, etc…

What is it with liberals?;)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/860903.html

July 2nd, 2008, 11:03 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
If of utmost importance to you is the worst case scenario, then you would have also been against the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948. Yadin told Ben-Gurion that this would result in the Arab states attacking Israel with a 50-50 chance of Israel winning. Those were the accepted odds. Nevertheless, Ben-Gurion did the right thing.

And really if the worst case scenario is what is bothering you then you should be very worried about the Iranians having a bomb. Because in the worst case scenario they will use it based on plausible deniability.

If the Iranians start hitting Jews in European countries that would be entail Europe sanctioning Iran and would be devastating to the Iranian economy. Iran cannot afford to fight the world if the Ayatollahs are as rational as you think. And if they are not rational, then it is clear that an attack on their nuclear program is imperative.

July 2nd, 2008, 1:56 pm

 

Karim said:

http://www.iran-resist.org/IMG/jpg/khoromshahr-ab.1.jpg

It’s not the Sahel but one of the natural richest part in the world,al Ahwaz This is how the arabs of Iran live(is it unbiased? or fringe of the reality?) most of them are shias and 90% of the iranian oil fields are located in their lands and likely the same percentage live below poverty line.
I’m sure that the arabs who live in the “zionist entity” have a better quality of life .worse is it possible ?

July 2nd, 2008, 2:29 pm

 

norman said:

Turkey: Direct Israel-Syria Talks Imminent

by Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel

(IsraelNN.com) Direct peace negotiations between Israel and Syria are imminent, according to a Wednesday report in the Arabic language newspaper Al-Hayat. In the report, Turkish officials announced that the direct talks will follow the upcoming round of indirect talks between the two countries.

Yoram Turbowitz and Shalom Turgeman, advisors to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, arrived in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of launching direct talks with the Syrians. The next round of indirect talks, the fourth, is slated to begin in two weeks’ time.

Israeli and Syrian negotiators will decide on a start date for the direct negotiations, as well as the composition of the negotiating teams, in about a week and a half, after Syrian President Bashar Assad returns from a scheduled trip to Paris. Assad will be attending a conference in the French capital, alongside Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The Turkish sources were quoted as saying that France also plans to mediate in the talks, primarily with regards to the Shebaa Farms land dispute.

Assad called the political climate in the Middle East Earlier this week “positive,” and called on the EU to intensify its involvement in the peace talks with Israel.

“The political climate in Israel is generally positive. We must give the different political processes a new push in order for them to proceed in the right direction,” remarked Assad in a Damascus meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, reported Sana, the Syrian government news agency.

July 2nd, 2008, 2:32 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

When you’ve done a tenth for the security of Israel (served in the army, did army reserves for years), then you can call me “liberal”. We also have people like YOU in my country. They’re think they’re good at talking, but are usually very bad at doing. It’s easier to criticize those who criticize Israel, from the safe shores of the U.S. of A, isn’t it? But when the bombs drop, they don’t drop on YOUR head, do they? AIG, what about yours? I’m beginning to understand what the other commentators are talking about, when they claim you repeat things to no end (“… rational Ayatollahs…”) When was the last time either one of you looked in the mirror? Can you possibly be wrong? Can all the commentators here be wrong? And you understand THEIR side better?

July 2nd, 2008, 4:28 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

“… then you would have also been against the founding of the state of Israel…” – What kind of nonsense is that? Because I consider what the worst-case-scenario could be means I always choose passiveness? You know, the best lawyers simulate every kind of scenario they can think of that could occur in court, well in advance, in order to develop the best strategy. They consider the entire range, from best to worst case scenarios. They don’t say “no, that just can’t happen…”, or “it’ll happen this way, I’m sure…” They don’t know what will happen, but they prepare for the worst case. I don’t see you (or AP) ever talking about the worst case.

A good friend of mine had dinner with Netanyahu a few months ago. Netanyahu was going on and on about how we will have no choice but to attack Iran. So my friend went along with his argument and, at a certain point, she asked: “And what happens the day after?” And guess what? Our wisest of Bibis had no answer. He had no ‘fricken clue! Because it didn’t matter to him what happens next. He was so sure this had to happen, that the consequences were irrelevant. I have a funny suspicion that you see it the same way.

You know, since you don’t want to talk about the emotional side of the conflict, you have to decide whether the Iranians are rational or not. If they are rational, then they won’t drop an atomic bomb on Israel, because they know they’ll be destroyed fifty-fold shortly thereafter. If they’re not rational, then they certainly WILL retaliate with everything they’ve got, including repeated rounds of missiles, perhaps WMD’s, Hezbollah, Hamas, and even murdering Jews and Israelis around the world. You have to decide – according to your methodology, you can’t have it both ways – either they’re rational, or they’re not.

July 2nd, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
I am quite clear about what I believe. I believe that the Ayatollahs will use terrorist organizations to attack Israel with nuclear bombs if they have a chance. They believe that Israel will not retaliate against them in such a case, and they may have a point. If a palestinian organization fires a nuclear bomb at Haifa from Lebanon, are we going to retaliate and kill 20 million Iranians? What do you think? I think we will be in an impossible situation.

The Ayatollahs are not rational in the sense that they would certainly try what I describe above. They would probably not be stupid enough to fire a missile from Iran at Israel. But if they believe they could get away with it, then from their point of view they are acting rationally. I do not want to be in that situation.

What would the Iranians do if Israel attacks them now? If they retaliate strongly, Israel will take out their oil production and distribution sites. This will make them very weak and the regime may fall. Without the oil revenues Iran will not have enough money to feed itself let alone buy refined oil which it is currently importing. Without the oil revenues, there are no salaries for the Republican Guard. So, most probably the Ayatollahs would do very little, because they are not stupid. Because of their huge dependence on oil, Iran is very vulnerable.

July 2nd, 2008, 5:46 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re not consistent. You say “… most probably the Ayatollahs would do very little”, because they’re rational. Yet you say “The Ayatollahs are not rational in the sense that they would certainly try what I describe above.” So which is it? They’re both rational and irrational now? You have mentioned yourself on numerous occasions that certain nations in our region have used “plausible deniability”, and that therefore Iran can (and will) do the same. Yet each time, you seem to know “who done it”. So decide – if a Palestinian group will detonate an atomic device in Ashkelon, will you NOT know who did it? Will Iran be able to deny it in a plausible way? Who will listen to Iran, after Israel has decided to judge Iran out of court, and to bomb the hell of her, with the clear assumption that it wasn’t Abu Mazen who developed nuclear technology behind our backs…

But there’s something else that puzzles me about your Iran-theory. If they so desperately want to hurt Israel, to kill many thousands, to cause terror and mayhem in our country, and to do so in a “plausibly deniable” fashion, why are they waiting to use a nuclear device? Why not provide 20 or 30 Arabs that can enter Israel (Palestinians from E. Jerusalem, etc.) with canisters of biological weapons, enough to kill tens of thousands each? Why not detonate a chemical weapons device in the heart of Haifa and Tel-Aviv? Talk about plausible deniability, that seems to work far better than a nuke, don’t you think? So why is that? They don’t have the WMD’s? Of course they do. They don’t want to risk it? But they will risk a nuclear device (like that atomic bomb in the vending machine in the football stadium in Tom Clancey’s “Sum of All Fears”, right?)

AIG, you make no sense. I’m sorry, when you do, I put down my chapeau. But when you don’t, no chapeau…

July 2nd, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Being rational or not rational depends on your assumptions and what you deduce from them. Once we attack Iran, the Ayatollahs will be much more inclined to believe that we will take out their oil production factilites and will be much less inclined to retaliate. Their frame of mind will change once we attack. That is how deterrence works. Once you attack someone, he is much more inclined to believe you will do it again if required.

We know that Syria has murdered Hariri, but isn’t Syria denying it and some people believe them? Don’t you see how much trouble it is to “prove” such things?

We know Syria gives Hizballah rockets from Syria, yet Syria denies it and some people believe them. Again, plausible deniability in action.

Yes, Iran will deny that it porvided a bomb to terrorist just like it denies now that it is developing a bomb and demands that the world “prove” it. I will know who did it, but is this knowledge good enough in the eyes of the world to kill 20 million Iranians? You keep evading this question.

Chemical and biological weapons are very difficult to deploy in an effective way. First you need large amounts and they are quite bulky. Very difficult for one person to carry. You would need trucks. Second, they are difficult to disperse over a large area. You need to take the liquid in a truck and spread it over all Jerusalem. You need a huge explosive and it is quite tricky to do and very weather dependent. Nuclear weapons are ideal for terrorists.

July 2nd, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

You’re wrong. Biological and chemical weapons require very little quantity, as you might remember from the March 1995 case, by the Aum Shinrikyo Cult in Japan. You don’t need trucks, you don’t need an explosive device, you just need a small canister. It could be done quite easily, if a nation that has access to such WMDs decides to do so. But fact is, that NO nation like that has decided to do so, precisely BECAUSE it assumes that no level of “plausible deniability” will be safe enough to ensure that no punishment would come sooner or later. Imagine the response of a United States that finds, 5 years after investigating a WMDs incident that killed thousands in downtown NY, that Iran was responsible. The punishment would be most severe. And the same would happen with Israel.

Though terrorists have been trying to get their hands on nuclear devices, none of succeeded yet, or have not used them. Iran, if they have any rational sense (which you seem to be bouncing back and forth from having, and not having), would never risk handing such a thing to irresponsible terrorists, where a lot could go wrong for Iran. Aiding in the destruction of a Jewish community building, and killing a few dozen Jews, is something Iran was willing to take a chance on. Being chiefly responsible for the murder of 10,000 Israelis, is another thing altogether. Tom Clancey might find this a real option, and indeed he may sweep most of us with his imagination, but for each novel/movie that has come out in the past 63 years, since the appearance of the first atomic bomb, ZERO cases have happened. The Soviet Union had every reason and every ability to use such “plausible deniability” in any of its numerous proxy wars with the U.S., and yet it hasn’t. It could have done so with atomic devices, with biological or chemical agents, and yet it hasn’t.

Your irrational-yet-rational Iran may indeed develop nuclear weapons, but it is doubtful it will use them against Israel, unless it is provoked first. No nation on earth develops a military program with nuclear capabilities, only to hand it over to someone else to do the “dirty job”. That’s ludicrous. That doesn’t serve its deterrence, that doesn’t free it from imminent danger of retribution, that doesn’t help it achieve any of its national goals. It only serves the opposite. I imagine even the most terribly religious Shia understand this well.

July 2nd, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
You are just plain wrong. The only reason the attack on the sub-way worked was because it was a CLOSED and small volume. Biological and chemical weapons are very hard to use for a mass attack unlike nuclear weapons.

You again don’t address the issue as to how much proof is required to attack another country and that it is usually impossible to get. The following scenario is quite possible. The republican guard send trusted men with a short range rocket with a bomb to a Palestinian faction in Lebanon. The Palestinians do not even know they are Iranians. They think they are Al-Qaida because they are excellent Arabic speakers. The Palestinians shoot the rocket from Lebanon and accept responsibility. How will Israel prove the Iranians were behind it? We will know it, but will this knowledge be enough to retaliate and kill 20 million people?

The Iranians would be very tempted to try this out, and Israel just cannot afford to wait.

July 2nd, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I also like Tom Clancey, but not THAT much… Come on, you keep jumping back and forth between an Iran that is rational enough not to attack us back, after we attack their nuclear installations, but not rational “… in the sense that they would certainly try what I describe above (the Tom Clancey bit).” If the scenario you described occurred, and you and I and most of the Israeli leadership would know it was Iran, who exactly will we need to go ask an approval for, before we severely punish them? If in 12 months time an atomic missile is launched from Southern Lebanon into Israel, where do you think Europeans and Americans will think it originated? The laboratories of Tora-Bora? The basements of Jenin? Or nuclear facilities in Iran? Israel would attack, and I would support it. Just like America didn’t ask anyone’s permission to nuke Japan in 1945, if 10 or 20,000 Israelis died one morning in Haifa due to a nuclear explosion, Israel will not be seeking anyone’s approval for immediately and severely punishing Iran.

I don’t know where you’re getting your 20 million people figure from, as that would require around 2,000 Hiroshima-size bombs, or 200 Hydrogen bombs, neither of which we seem to have. We will, however, destroy much of Iran’s main cities, making it nearly impossible for the Iranian regime to rule a very hurt (and angry) nation. The mullahs know that, and they’re not going to count on any “plausible deniability” Tom Clancey suggests is workable, and risk everything. If they do, they’ll pay the most severe price. Far greater than we’ll suffer.

July 2nd, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
We didn’t even attack Syria even though it is clear that Syria gave the rockets to Hizballah. We will not be able to attack Iran with nuclear weapons just because we know they supplied the weapons. In the eyes of most of the world we will not be justified to do it.

If we attack Iran with nuclear weapons it will collapse as a society leading to millions being displaced and starving and a civil war. Look what happened to Iraq, but think 100 times worse.

July 2nd, 2008, 8:25 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Israel will nuke another nation in one of two scenarios:

1) If it feels a true existential threat which is imminent (like Egyptian and Syrian tanks about to roll into Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem).
2) If another nation nukes Israel first.

Israel doesn’t have to kill 20 million, or even 1 million civilians in order to severely punish Iran. It can choose the level of “punishment” based on the level of damage and destruction caused upon Israel. But whatever it’ll be, it is certain to be severe. The Iranian society doesn’t need to collapse thereafter, though indeed there may be an internal war at some point, with an attempt to overthrow the regime (for bringing upon Iran this fate).

Just as you and I won’t doubt where a nuclear explosion in Haifa originated from, neither will our leadership (whether it’s Netanyahu or Yossi Beilin). Israel will punish Iran in such a case. The mullah regime is therefore unlikely to test us. They fear us far more than we fear them, I believe, and it makes sense. Their bark is far greater than their bite, and that’s all it is, a bark.

July 2nd, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Your words were used exactly to describe Hitler in the thirties. And he did not have the strategy of plausible deniability to assist him.

The Iranians have shown already that they not only bark. They armed Hizballah and Hamas and attacked Jews all over the world.

How would we convince people that it was not the Pakistanis that gave a bomb to the Palestinians that shot it from Lebanon? Contrary to what you say, we will be stuck because the Iranians will deny it. As for retaliation, if the regime in Iran stays after we retaliate, that would not be deterrence enough against another attack. Our retaliation would have to be very comprehensive.

July 2nd, 2008, 8:49 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Your attempts are useless. Your “plausible deniability” theory belongs more to bestseller books than to reality. A responsible nation does not hand over any such capabilities, for fear it will bring upon itself severe punishment. No Iranian leader is going to gamble everything on your Pakistani-theory, because there are traitors, and agents, and all sorts of ways of “discovering” things before they happen, and also after they happen. Just as Israel will not preemptively nuke Iran (or any other nation), Iran will not nuke Israel, for fear it will be severely punished or destroyed. Iran’s bark is only about its hopes to “erase” Israel off the map – a concept which apparently is bought quite nicely by you, and perhaps by most Israelis, yet none of you have yet defined what that means (10,000 or 20,000 dead Israelis in Haifa does not constitute the end of Israel, even if economically it will devastate her for a few years).

Fear is not enough of a reason to attack Iran. And if one is already dedicated to thinking about this fear, then he must not dismiss other fears, including those of a legitimate, severe, and long-lasting response by Iran and its allies.

This is certainly NOT the same case as with Hitler in the 1930’s, because the Jews then were not a hundred times stronger than Hitler, were they?

That’s it. I think we’ve chewed on this topic enough, don’t you? For me, at least, it’s time for bed…

July 2nd, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
What I and most Israelis understand, as well as most Israeli security experts, you fail to acknowledge. You are willing to chance 20,000 Israelis killed and a severe economic depression if not the end of Israel. Fine. Luckily you are a minority in Israel.

July 2nd, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Shai,
It is so depressing to read AIG’s obsessive and bellicose opinions. If he is representative of most Israelis, I am not surprised peace is so elusive and I think it will take the Israeli more than one generation to get rid of their fear and hysteria and deal with their opponents with logic and humanity.

July 3rd, 2008, 3:19 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
Why don’t the Arabs show us stupid and mean Israelis how to deal with their opponents with “logic and humanity”? Here are a couple of suggestions. Hizballah, your hero has not allowed the red cross to visit the Israeli prisoners nor are they willing to say if they are dead or alive. And in a speech yesterday, Nasrallah showed how proud he was. Yes, “logic and humanity”.

Also yesterday, an Arab killed 3 Israeli citizens, 2 women and an elderly man. He did it in a rather creative way I must admit, but regarding “logic and humanity” I am not so sure.

Peace is elusive for one simple reason, because you and most other Arabs have not accpeted the fact that there is and will be a Jewish state in the middle east.

July 3rd, 2008, 3:44 am

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

AIG is very different from most Israelis in one very important way – he is stubborn and inflexible. He indeed does seem to be on AIPAC’s payroll, or the like. Just as 70% of Israelis were against the return of the Sinai before the peace agreement was presented in Knesset, and then 70% turned for it, here too the same will happen with Syria. Most Israelis, who are followers and not leaders, will eventually turn wherever their leaders send them. But you can bet one Israeli won’t – AIG. He doesn’t have a clue about why Arabs still hate Israel, about why there are still people willing to commit suicide by killing Israelis, about Israel’s own crimes, about the intertwined relationship between peace and the Palestinian issue, and how to go about solving any of these. As he cannot bring himself to recognize any of Israel’s own faults (until and not before the Arabs do their share), he is incapable of self-introspection. He is, therefore, incapable of change.

It indeed seems useless to argue with him, about anything, really. He, and “most Israelis”, understand the conflict with the Palestinians, Syria and Syrians, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, democracy in the region, far better than any of “you” could. So sit aside, listen, and learn. But don’t waste your time arguing. It may be “fun” (and financially rewarding) for AIG, but it’s useless for others.

July 3rd, 2008, 4:11 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
Go ahead Shai, attack me personally with falsehoods. After all you will not be banned, because you I am quite sure are in the pay of Hizballah, and therefore a hero on this blog. Or perhaps you are being paid directly by the Syrians? Perhaps through Imad Moustapha?

You think most Israelis are mostly followers who don’t think for themselves and can easily be persuaded. Most of them according to you are stupid because they vote for right wing parties and do not know what they are doing.

I know what you are. You are really an Israeli Arab from Azmi Bishara’s party who has recieved money from Syria and Hizballah to make Israelis look like wimps and idiots that daily commit crimes against humanity. Right?

July 3rd, 2008, 4:31 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

How convenient Shai that after I start posting here, “suddenly” you begin posting also with Alex’s blessing. Tell us the truth Shai, how much is Imad Mustapha paying you?

July 3rd, 2008, 4:45 am

 

why-discuss said:

Shai

Thank you for reassuring me that all Israelis are not like AIG as he seems to comment more hysterically and weirdly every day…

July 3rd, 2008, 5:30 am

 

Shai said:

AIG,

Wow. That AIPAC-suggestion really got you angry, didn’t it? Maybe there’s some truth to it after all?

I’ll fess up. I’m an Arab-Israeli (real name Yusuf), strong advocate of Azmi Bishara’s party, who was asked by Alex to come make Israelis look like wimps and idiots pretending to be “another Israeli guy”. I said ok, but only if Imad Moustapha pays me directly, out of his account. I don’t want payment to be made through an official body, like AIPAC for instance. There, I’ve come clean. What about you AIG?

But in one thing you’re wrong. I’m not here to make Israelis LOOK like they commit crimes against humanity. We do that just fine ourselves, without any help. Something you’re apparently incapable of understanding or acknowledging.

AIG, I know why I’m here. Most people here probably know as well. I’m here to learn, to understand, to try to bridge over gaps, and to engage “the other side” in a constructive and not destructive way.

What I still don’t understand, and I dare say most others here either, is why are YOU here? What is your REAL goal? To have fun? I somehow doubt that.

July 3rd, 2008, 5:35 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yusuf,
I am not on AIPAC or anyone’s payroll. I am here because I am having fun, even though you have a hard time understanding that.

And really only an extreme leftist would claim that Israelis are committing crimes against humanity on a regular basis. I am glad your self hatered and extremism are out in the open for all to see.

But most of all, you have no principles. In Israel you rightly advocate strongly for human rights and freedoms, but when it comes to Syria, you are willing to grovel to a dictator, because if 7 Arabs on a blog say that democracy in Syria can wait, that is good enough for you, that is “listening”. What exactly do you stand for? You stand for nothing and that is why you are so marginalized in Israel.

July 3rd, 2008, 1:48 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

I stand for nothing? You’re the one that wants a nation (Israel, US) to “play a role” by doing nothing! By NOT making peace.

You are the LAST person on earth I need to prove anything to. You show ZERO ability or willingness to have an open mind, to listen, to learn, and to change. Your only real attributes are your extreme stubbornness and inflexibility which, as I mentioned earlier, is thankfully NOT characteristic of most Israelis. That is why the 70% against peace with Syria today will become 70% for peace, once an agreement is presented in Knesset, just as it happened with Egypt. You, AIG, would never have changed your mind about Egypt, even after getting a personal kiss on the cheek from Sadat himself. You cannot change. You must not change. You must stay the course…

Principles? YOU, the great champion of democracy in Syria, are talking to me about principles? What about making peace in order to end war? Is that somewhere on your principles list? Or are you merely concerned about the well-being of those 17 million Syrians?

You know what, I have a proposition. In reality, it is not me who is so much on the side of Syria, Syrians, the bloggers here, etc. It is in fact YOU. By caring so deeply about Syrians and their freedoms and democracy, you’re exhibiting much more empathy than I ever could. Hence, I suggest that when Bashar Assad either leaves on his own, or is forced to vacate his seat, that you AIG, take his place! If Syrians only knew how much time and effort you spend, day and night, fighting for their freedom, surely they’ll elect you as their first democratically-chosen leader! And then, you can change your name to ASL (AnotherSyrianLeader). 🙂

July 3rd, 2008, 8:45 pm

 

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