News Round Up (18 April 2008)

Former President Jimmy Carter Meets With Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal ABC News

"You have to involve Hamas. They have to be involved in some way," Carter said. Leading Israeli columnist Akiva Eldar told ABC News today that this policy would not work. "It's no use just talking to the good guys like Abbas, if you don't also talk to the bad guys like Hamas. Any deal Israel makes with Abbas can be destroyed by Hamas if they don't agree," Eldar said.

Carter also attacked current Israeli policy of blockading the Gaza Strip, which since June has been ruled by Hamas. "It's an atrocity that is perpetrated as punishment on the people of Gaza. It's a crime. … I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on," he said.

Syria, US at Odds Over Hariri Probe By ADAM ZAGORIN/Time

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

Back to Jordanian option/ Eiland Four reasons why final-status agreement with Palestinians is unfeasible…

An Ominous Rift Grows in the Arab World By: Rami G. Khouri | The Daily Star As oil income to Arab producers continues to rise, we are witnessing sharper polarization between the wealthy, energy-producing states of the Gulf with their small populations on the one hand, and the more populous, energy-importing Arab countries in the Levant, the Nile Valley, and North Africa on the other….

The Age of Nonpolarity
by Richard Haass
Foreign Affairs
The era of American hegemony is over–and Washington will have to change its ways to succeed in the new environment.

The State Department on Tuesday issued a new travel warning on Syria, telling U.S. citizens to "thoroughly consider the risks of travel to Syria" and to "take adequate precautions to ensure their safety."

Syria — which the U.S. has labeled as a state sponsor of terrorism — continues to be home to the offices of several terror groups, the new warning says.

Groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad along with other extremist organizatiosn "have the potential to be either the targets of or perpetrators of acts of violence," the statement reads, pointing to recent incidents that likely would make the usual day-trekker reconsider a leisurely visit.

"On February 12, 2008, an explosion occurred in the residential Kafer Soseh neighborhood of Damascus, killing Imad Moughniyeh, a senior Hizbollah operative.

"In 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was attacked by terrorists armed with guns, grenades, and a car bomb.

"The Syrian Government has allowed anti-U.S. demonstrations to occur; the latest was on March 3, 2008. Anti-U.S. demonstrations date back to September 2005, some of which have turned violent and led to damage to Western embassies, including the U.S. Embassy."

Abbas to Discuss Borders, Refugees, Jerusalem Status With Bush
By Massoud A. Derhally

April 15 (Bloomberg) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will discuss the so-called final status issues in the Middle East peace process when he meets President George W. Bush in Washington on April 24.

Abbas discussed the violence in the Gaza Strip with Jordan's King Abdullah II today in Amman, the Royal Court said in a statement. The two men talked about final status questions, which Abbas will also raise with Bush, according to the statement.

Comments (79)

Alex said:

Nunn, Boren back Obama

Two former Democratic senators endorsed Barack Obama today, adding their foreign policy and national security gravitas to his candidacy.

Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma, both from the Democratic Party’s conservative wing, will serve as advisers on Obama’s National Security Foreign Policy Team, his campaign announced.

“Our next president — working across party and economic lines — must restore and strengthen our national purpose, our credibility, our competence and our spirit,” Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1987 through 1995, said in a statement provided the Obama campaign. “We need a president who has the temperament of a leader — a sharp, incisive, strategic mind, a rare capacity for self criticism, and a willingness to hear contrary points of view.”

Boren, who was chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, added, “Senator Obama is also a person of sound and good judgment. He had the good judgment more than five years ago to warn against our involvement in this tragic and costly war. He also understands the need to repair our partnerships with other nations and to more effectively use diplomacy to serve our national interests.”

Senator Boren is of course, president of Oklahoma University.

April 18th, 2008, 9:59 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


On a previous post, you responded to one of my comments about Bashar, saying that Syria had now changed its approach in Lebanon, going the secular route, unlike the Saudis, Hariris, and other Lebanese who are still stuck in their sectarian ways.

I’d like to understand your argument, because it’s unconvincing as stated. I’ll accept that the Lebanese zu`amaa’ are still desperate to hold on to power, and this includes the old guard like Jumblatt and the arrivistes like Saad al-Hariri. However, I personally don’t see how the opposition is behaving any differently, or how Syria is acting in a way that could be called “secular” or “non-sectarian”.

The current standoff began when Hizbullah left the government, and used this move to claim that the government was therefore illegitimate. Why illegitimate? Because it violated Ta’if and the Constitution. In other words, HA explicitly used a sectarian strategy to attempt to bring down a democratically elected government. The subsequent crises have all stemmed from this decision. Hizbullah’s departure from the government, however, had nothing to do with the rights of their constituents (the Shi`a) and everything to do with providing cover for the Syrian regime by preventing the election of a pro-March 14 president.

All of this was achieved with Syria’s blessing. So, how is it non-sectarian, in your view?

April 19th, 2008, 12:19 am


Enlightened said:

Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army

In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Saturday, 19 April 2008

The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.

The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten “to a pulp” when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.

The young man left the army only at the end of last year, and his decision to speak is part of a concerted effort to expose the moral price paid by young Israeli conscripts in what is probably the most problematic posting there is in the occupied territories. Not least because Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the military, 24/7, to protect the notably hardline Jewish settlers there. He says firmly that he now regrets what repeatedly took place during his tour of duty.

But his frequent, if nervous, grins and giggles occasionally show just a hint of the bravado he might have displayed if boasting of his exploits to his mates in a bar. Repeatedly he turns to the older former soldier who has persuaded him to speak to us, and says as if seeking reassurance: “You know how it is in Hebron.”

The older ex-soldier is Yehuda Shaul, who does indeed “know how it is in Hebron”, having served in the city in a combat unit at the peak of the intifada, and is a founder of Shovrim Shtika, or Breaking the Silence, which will publish tomorrow the disturbing testimonies of 39 Israelis – including this young man – who served in the army in Hebron between 2005 and 2007. They cover a range of experiences, from anger and powerlessness in the face of often violent abuse of Arabs by hardline Jewish settlers, through petty harassment by soldiers, to soldiers beating up Palestinian residents without provocation, looting homes and shops, and opening fire on unarmed demonstrators.

The maltreatment of civilians under occupation is common to many armies in the world – including Britain’s, from Northern Ireland to Iraq.

But, paradoxically, few if any countries apart from Israel have an NGO like Breaking the Silence, which seeks – through the experiences of the soldiers themselves – as its website puts it “to force Israeli society to address the reality which it created” in the occupied territories.

The Israeli public was given an unflattering glimpse of military life in Hebron this year when a young lieutenant in the Kfir Brigade called Yaakov Gigi was given a 15-month jail sentence for taking five soldiers with him to hijack a Palestinian taxi, conduct what the Israeli media called a “rampage” in which one of the soldiers shot and wounded a Palestinian civilian who just happened to be in the wrong place, and then tried to lie his way out of it.

In a confessional interview with the Israeli Channel Two investigative programme Uvda, Gigi, who had previously been in many ways a model soldier, talked of “losing the human condition” in Hebron. Asked what he meant, he replied: “To lose the human condition is to become an animal.”

The Israeli military did not prosecute the soldier who had fired on the Palestinian, as opposed to Gigi. But the military insists “that the events that occurred within the Kfir Brigade are highly unusual”.

But as the 22-year-old soldier, also in the Kfir Brigade, confirms in his testimony to Breaking the Silence, it seems that the event may not have been exceptional. Certainly, our interview tells us, he was “many times” in groups that commandeered taxis, seated the driver in the back, and told him to direct them to places “where they hate the Jews” in order to “make a balagan” – Hebrew for “big mess”.

Then there is the inter- clan Palestinian fight: “We were told to go over there and find out what was happening. Our [platoon] commander was a bit screwed in the head. So anyway, we would locate houses, and he’d tell us: ‘OK, anyone you see armed with stones or whatever, I don’t care what – shoot.’ Everyone would think it’s the clan fight…” Did the company commander know? “No one knew. Platoon’s private initiative, these actions.”

Did you hit them? “Sure, not just them. Anyone who came close … Particularly legs and arms. Some people also sustained abdominal hits … I think at some point they realised it was soldiers, but they were not sure. Because they could not believe soldiers would do this, you know.”

Or using a 10-year-old child to locate and punish a 15-year-old stone-thrower: “So we got hold of just some Palestinian kid nearby, we knew that he knew who it had been. Let’s say we beat him a little, to put it mildly, until he told us. You know, the way it goes when your mind’s already screwed up, and you have no more patience for Hebron and Arabs and Jews there.

“The kid was really scared, realising we were on to him. We had a commander with us who was a bit of a fanatic. We gave the boy over to this commander, and he really beat the shit out of him … He showed him all kinds of holes in the ground along the way, asking him: ‘Is it here you want to die? Or here?’ The kid goes, ‘No, no!’

“Anyway, the kid was stood up, and couldn’t stay standing on his own two feet. He was already crying … And the commander continues, ‘Don’t pretend’ and kicks him some more. And then [name withheld], who always had a hard time with such things, went in, caught the squad commander and said, ‘Don’t touch him any more, that’s it.’ The commander goes, ‘You’ve become a leftie, what?’ And he answers, ‘No, I just don’t want to see such things.’

“We were right next to this, but did nothing. We were indifferent, you know. OK. Only after the fact you start thinking. Not right away. We were doing such things every day … It had become a habit…

“And the parents saw it. The commander ordered [the mother], ‘Don’t get any closer.’ He cocked his weapon, already had a bullet inside. She was frightened. He put his weapon literally inside the kid’s mouth. ‘Anyone gets close, I kill him. Don’t bug me. I kill. I have no mercy.’ So the father … got hold of the mother and said, ‘Calm down, let them be, so they’ll leave him alone.'”

Not every soldier serving in Hebron becomes an “animal”. Iftach Arbel, 23, from an upper-middle class, left-of-centre home in Herzylia, served in Hebron as a commander just before the withdrawal from Gaza, when he thinks the army wanted to show it could be tough with settlers, too. And many of the testimonies, including Mr Arbel’s, describe how the settlers educate children as young as four to throw stones at Palestinians, attack their homes and even steal their possessions. To Mr Arbel, the Hebron settlers are “pure evil” and the only solution is “to remove the settlers”.

He believes it would be possible even within these constraints to treat Palestinians better. He adds: “We did night activity. Choose a house at random, on the aerial photo, so as to practise combat routine and all, which is instructive for the soldiers, I mean, I’m all for it. But then at midnight you wake someone up and turn his whole house upside down with everyone sleeping on the mattresses and all.”

But Mr Arbel says that most soldiers are some way between his own extreme and that of the most violent. From just two of his fellow testifiers, you can see what he means.

As one said: “We did all kinds of experiments to see who could do the best split in Abu Snena. We would put [Palestinians] against the wall, make like we were checking them, and ask them to spread their legs. Spread, spread, spread, it was a game to see who could do it best. Or we would check who can hold his breath for longest.

“Choke them. One guy would come, make like he was checking them, and suddenly start yelling like they said something and choke them … Block their airways; you have to press the adams apple. It’s not pleasant. Look at the watch as you’re doing it, until he passes out. The one who takes longest to faint wins.”

And theft as well as violence. “There’s this car accessory shop there. Every time, soldiers would take a tape-disc player, other stuff. This guy, if you go ask him, will tell you plenty of things that soldiers did to him.

“A whole scroll-full … They would raid his shop regularly. ‘Listen, if you tell on us, we’ll confiscate your whole store, we’ll break everything.’ You know, he was afraid to tell. He was already making deals, ‘Listen guys, you’re damaging me financially.’ I personally never took a thing, but I’m telling you, people used to take speakers from him, whole sound systems.

“He’d go, ‘Please, give me 500 shekels, I’m losing money here.’ ‘Listen, if you go on – we’ll pick up your whole shop.’ ‘OK, OK, take it, but listen, don’t take more than 10 systems a month.’ Something like this.

“‘I’m already going bankrupt.’ He was so miserable. Guys in our unit used to sell these things back home, make deals with people. People are so stupid.”

The military said that Israeli Defence Forces soldiers operate according to “a strict set of moral guidelines” and that their expected adherence to them only “increases wherever and whenever IDF soldiers come in contact with civilians”. It added that “if evidence supporting the allegations is uncovered, steps are taken to hold those involved to the level of highest judicial severity”. It also said: “The Military Advocate General has issued a number of indictments against soldiers due to allegations of criminal behaviour … Soldiers found guilty were punished severely by the Military Court, in proportion to the committed offence.” It had not by last night quantified such indictments.

In its introduction to the testimonies, Breaking the Silence says: “The soldiers’ determination to fulfil their mission yields tragic results: the proper-normative becomes despicable, the inconceivable becomes routine … [The] testimonies are to illustrate the manner in which they are swept into the brutal reality reigning on the ground, a reality whereby the lives of many thousands of Palestinian families are at the questionable mercy of youths. Hebron turns a focused, flagrant lens at the reality to which Israel’s young representatives are constantly sent.”

A force for justice

Breaking the Silence was formed four years ago by a group of ex-soldiers, most of whom had served in Israel Defence Forces combat units in Hebron. Many of the soldiers do reserve duty in the military each year. It has collected some 500 testimonies from former soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza. Its first public exposure was with an exhibition of photographs by soldiers serving in Hebron and the organisation also runs regular tours of Hebron for Israeli students and diplomats. It receives funding from groups as diverse as the Jewish philanthropic Moriah Fund, the New Israel Fund, the British embassy in Tel Aviv and the EU.

April 19th, 2008, 1:27 am


norman said:

Olmert: Israel, Syria exchanging messages to clarify expectations

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 17, 2008
JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel and Syria have exchanged messages to clarify what each would expect of any future peace treaty, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The disclosure in an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper was Olmert’s strongest indication yet that Israel and Syria have been in contact. The Israeli leader has in recent months repeatedly expressed a willingness to resume peace talks, which broke down in 2000.

“They know what we want from them, and I know full well what they want from us,” Olmert told the newspaper. Olmert did not disclose the content of the messages or provide other details about the contacts, the daily said.

“Israel is open to peace with Syria,” Olmert told another newspaper, Maariv, in comments published Thursday.

He spoke with both newspapers in traditional interviews to the Hebrew press before the Jewish Passover holiday, which begins Saturday night.

Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said last month that Israel was trying to get Syria to restart the talks.

Negotiations broke off after Syria rejected Israel’s offer to return the Golan Heights, which it captured in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed.

Syria wanted Israel to withdraw to the prewar line on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. But Israel wasn’t prepared to give up any control of lake that provides about half of the country’s drinking water.

Despite the peace overtures, tensions have been high between the two countries in recent months, largely stemming from an Israeli air attack on a Syrian military facility in September. Some foreign reports have said the target was a nuclear installation Syria was building with North Korean assistance.

Damascus denies having an atomic program, and North Korea says it was not involved in any such project. Syria did not retaliate for the attack.

Both Syria and Israel have expressed a willingness to renew talks since Israel’s war against the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia in 2006. Olmert has insisted that if Syria is serious about peace, Damascus must withdraw its support for Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.


Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |

April 19th, 2008, 1:48 am


Qifa Nabki said:


You remember `Uqab Saqr’s proposal on Kalam al-Nas? (Opposition should dismantle the tent city as a gesture of goodwill, and the majority should give the blocking third)?

This is the direction things are moving. (I told you Saqr was good!) Syria is on board. Let’s hope the Americans don’t screw it up.

Berri’s Barter: Dismantling Tent City, Suleiman President for Power Sharing, Election Law

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri offered to trade dismantling of the Hizbullah-controlled Tent City and facilitating presidential elections for a “declaration of principles” with the majority on power sharing and election law.
Berri, who also is a prominent member of the Hizbullah-led opposition, made the offer in an interview with the daily as-Safir published Saturday.

Such a declaration of principles should be reached in “speedy and productive dialogue” between majority and opposition leaders, according to Berri, who also heads the Shiite AMAL movement.

Berri, as-Safir wrote, “indicated” that a parliamentary session set for April 22 to elect a president could be postponed for a month, at the latest, in light of the prevailing conditions.

The situation, according to Berri, has reached a “serious” level. “A settlement is Lebanese-Lebanese,” he added.

Dialogue is a “priceless opportunity … missing it would be a sin,” Berri stressed.

The offered dialogue “does not aim at blocking the Arab initiative, which has reached a dead end. On the contrary, it aims at meeting the initiative in the middle of a blocked road,” Berri added.

He said: “No one, in Lebanon or outside, should dream of being able to impose any settlement on us that contradicts the Taef accord and the principle of partnership. We reject any settlement that harms the Lebanese formula. A settlement can be reached through Lebanese-Lebanese dialogue.”

Berri cautioned that “we are running out of time.”

He reiterated that “Syria, especially President Bashar Assad, is in support of a settlement in Lebanon. I personally relayed from the Syrian capital the most important Syrian support for the election of Gen. Michel Suleiman, for dialogue among the Lebanese (factions) and for commitment to decisions adopted during the March 2006 dialogue.”

“Syria signaled out its readiness to facilitate the dialogue and settlement, we are required to receive these signals,” Berri concluded.

April 19th, 2008, 12:17 pm


T said:


you said:

“reckon the shocking part is that a few israelis feel regret (maybe even pen a book), not for the suffering inflicted on the palestinians, but for the anguish of the israeli sensitive soul”

That true observation is likely to get you labeled ‘terrorist’ by certain folks on this blog. But I agree with you. It does seem to be more about assuaging Israeli guilt than making reparation to the torture victims. “See how good we are- we feel bad for what we did.” (The IDF- even here- manages to present themselves as ‘victims’, so we feel sorry for the perpetrator.) Masters of ‘victim’ manipulation.

That is not to say this isnt a good start and praiseworthy. It is. Lets just see if it goes beyond therapeutic dumping that unburdens their minds to ‘get on with their lives.’

The article credits the Israeli soldiers with being the first and only soldiers to show conscience (as usual). And as usual- inaccurate. And Hebron is not an anomolous occurrance. This is happening all over the territories. And because each Israeli citizen has to serve in the military, the “silence” is a knowing collusion across the entire Israeli society firsthand. Not like some countries where only a limited per cent serve, and they may be isolated from non-military interactions with nonmilitary civilians, insuring the crimes remain secret.

The Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the late 1960’s started soldier testimonies and protests against their own war crimes. John Kerry in the Senate “Winter Solder” hearings revealed some of these crimes, where he asked the famous question “How can you ask one man to be the last man to die for another’s mistake?”

The Veterans for Peace have also done this type of work for 35 years, and now the Iraq Vets Against the War are giving “witness to their war crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan. (They just had a big forum exposing these war crimes against Iraqis. COMPLETELY ignored by the press here.)

The Russian soldiers also had a similiar movement years ago, touched off by the Russian Soldier’s Mothers group, both started back in the 1980s.

April 19th, 2008, 2:10 pm


Nour said:

If that same criticism of Israel was instead directed at Syria, the same French civil servant would have probably been awarded a medal for bravery and honor. But of course Israel is always off limits. Such wonderful democracies we have in the west.

April 19th, 2008, 3:46 pm


wizart said:

Men & Women Use Different Diplomatic Languages

“Men communicate to obtain information, establish their status and show independence. Women communicate to create relationships, encourage interaction and exchange feelings.”

America’s competitive secret: women managers.
By Judy Rosener

P.S: What’s the role of Syrian women in diplomacy? How many Syrian women are there as ministers, Ambassadors or public company managers?

April 19th, 2008, 4:03 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Decent interview with Boutros Harb.

If the opposition can synchronize their swimming team, then I think the two sides are fairly close to a solution, at least formally speaking.

Michel “Ba3d fi shaghle wa7deh” Aoun is, once again, playing spoiler. The man just can’t let go.

April 19th, 2008, 4:47 pm


Nour said:


I think Aoun has an issue with the type of power the president would have. If you saw the interview with Emil Lahoud on New TV you would understand why he would be concerned. Lahoud was pretty much sidelined and not allowed to put a stop to or change much of the government’s disastrous programs and policies.

April 19th, 2008, 4:54 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Lahoud was sidelined because he was an illegitimate president. Prior to his ill-fated extension, he had plenty of power, and he regularly used it against Hariri’s initiatives. (I know this first-hand; a family member of mine is close to Lahoud and sat in on cabinet meetings on occasion).

The new president will have more power than any president since Ta’if. He will choose 10 ministers, and will be the deciding vote in all matters. That’s a big deal.

Berri and Frangieh have no problem with this scenario. It’s only Aoun, now. Shu 2usto?

April 19th, 2008, 5:01 pm


Shai said:


Occupation has been corrupting Israeli society ever since 1967. I’m glad these reports are coming out by Israelis. I actually linked its equivalent in ynet (in Hebrew) to AP yesterday, before an English version came out. The first step to change is recognition. Btw, most Israelis do not serve in the territories, and even most in Reserves do not experience what goes on in Hebron. Most Israeli citizens are not aware of the level of atrocity that is going on, which is why this report is very important. Note, it was published in Hebrew by a newspaper that isn’t identified with the Left like Ha’aretz is.

April 19th, 2008, 6:50 pm


Shai said:


So what do you suggest?

April 19th, 2008, 7:44 pm


T said:


Follow international law, and not just when it suits Israel. The weaker party needs protection from the stronger. And lets not mistake who is the weaker party in this conflict.

This may send a wakeup call and is a plan:

Another option on the individal level is the Vietnam War tax boycott on telephone bills in the 1960s. Like wise for Israel. Calculate the percent of ones individual contributions from one’s tax return that is allotted to Israel (Federal, not state or local) and refuse to pay with a note stating why and forwarded to Congressmen (AIPAC reps) and ADL, AJC etc.

Cumulatively- thats power.

April 19th, 2008, 8:05 pm


Shai said:


“Follow international law…” is not a plan. Do you honestly think that Israel is going to wake up tomorrow morning and say “Wallahi, T, you’re right. Time we followed international law!”? What’s your plan? How do you make your goals come true? What are you going to do?

April 19th, 2008, 8:11 pm


Nour said:


Do you believe Al-Hrawi was an illegitimate president? Why is it that the same political forces that claim Lahoud was illegitimate were the ones who extended for Al-Hrawi.

And Hariri and his people had been trying to sideline Lahoud since his first term as Lahoud was not allowing Hariri to have free reign over Lebanon, as Hrawi did. I remember from his first term how there were continuous problems between them. They weren’t as effective at the time in sidelining Lahoud because the political environment was different.

April 19th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Shai said:


It is a hopeless plan which has no chance of succeeding, because of its demands of Israel as they are stated:
“1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

Refusing to handle mail to-from Canada to Israel is not going to rock the boat too much, I’m afraid. You need a better plan.

The last thing you mentioned, maybe. Unlikely though. Why can’t you get 500,000 U.S. Muslims to march on D.C. in protest? Is the Arab world united enough about the plight of the Palestinians? This, I think, is the main problem. There must be a true “front” to Israel in the Middle East. Syria/HA/Hamas/Iran is not enough (especially since most Western leaders see all 4 as belonging to Bush’s “Axis of Evil”…)

April 19th, 2008, 8:34 pm


T said:

Like you said. Its a start. The ME wars are increasingly being identified here as being wars for Israel. Dont be surprised if the individual tax boycott takes off. And it would be costly.

April 19th, 2008, 8:40 pm


Shai said:


Maybe. But I somehow doubt it. Whatever plan would work must be much more straight forward. It has to have real threats behind it. Economic embargo, Oil embargo, war, etc.

April 19th, 2008, 8:43 pm


T said:

Pray for a military draft in the USA. That will wake the walking dead like nothing else.

Update on Palestinian activists who suffer targeted killings in USA:

“The man found floating in Lady Bird Lake Wednesday afternoon claimed on a videotape that he was being targeted by federal agents because he ran the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund out of south Austin.”

Not a peep from the press.

April 19th, 2008, 8:51 pm


norman said:


look at this ,

Syrian Women
Syrian women – leading the Arab world (from Restless in Dubai).

Syria’s Vice President Najjah Al Attar is the first women in the Arab world to reach such a high position.

The head of the judicial system, the Republic’s General Prosecutor is a woman.

In 1979, Syria had the first female minister in the whole region.

14% of the Syrian parliament are women – that’s the highest in the region, other Arab states have an average of just 3.4%.

98% of girls pass the basic education and 51% of the university graduates are females – equal to the European average, and well above the international average.

Syria has 170 women judges, 250 female assistant judges.

Join the lively discussion on this issue … click on ‘comments’

11:20 PM | Permalink

April 19th, 2008, 9:25 pm


SOL said:

” Why can’t you get 500,000 U.S. Muslims to march on D.C. in protest? Is the Arab world united enough about the plight of the Palestinians?”

Shai are you kidding me? Without dismissing or diminishing the legitimate right of the Palestines to return to their historical homeland and with full agreement that it is totally, 100% Israel’s fault that the Palestine’s are refugees, why have the Arab host countries forced the refugees to live in squalor and poverty the past sixty years? Why not build decent housing and alleviate the suffering of their Arab and Muslim brothers? Why has the Arab League not demanded from the Gulf nations to set aside some of their oil profits to help the Palestine refugees live in decent and humane conditions? At $112 a barrel can’t some of that money be put aside to help the Palestine’s in Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese refugee camps?

I realize that Israel is subjecting the Palestine’s in Gaza to an inhumane and unjustified blockade that is making the lives of innocent civilians unbearable but are the Israeli’s also imposing a blockade on the refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan? Where are the Arab masses demanding that this horrible situation stop? Shai are you serious when you ask “Is the Arab world united enough about the plight of the Palestinians?”

April 19th, 2008, 9:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Do your worst. Don’t pay or do pay any or some of your taxes. Who cares?

Why don’t you start by electing ONE senator that supports your position? Are there 5 representatives that would agree with you? I doubt it. If you can’t convince your fellow Americans, who will you ever be able to convince? You can’t even convince the Arab Americans, many of which support Israel over the Arab dictators.

April 19th, 2008, 9:33 pm


T said:


You are right. AIPAC owns our government lock, stock and barrel. (using our American tax $$$ to do it).

What is your opinion on the anti-occupation reservists AIG? I bet you’d never have the guts to do that- even high on all the extra viagra the US buys you IDF guys. (wink, wink)


They have more women than in the US Senate I believe.

April 19th, 2008, 10:45 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The AIPAC budget is only $60 million per year. Surely, the Arabs could raise such money easily, even the Syrians themselves. AIPAC wins because its ideas make sense to Americans while yours don’t.

April 19th, 2008, 10:48 pm


SOL said:

“it is the responsibility of the world’s jews who have supported israel and the western countries assisting israel to help the Palestinians. they are the ones responsible.”

So while the Palestine’s suffer in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon and in the Gulf nations billons of dollars in profit are made each week, you believe that it is primarily world jewry’s responsibility to come to the aid of the refugees. With full acknowledgement that it is totally, 100% the jews and the western world’s fault that the Palestine’s are refugees, you still believe that those elderly, women and children should continue to suffer and the rest of the Arab world should ignore the problem?

April 19th, 2008, 11:48 pm


why-discuss said:

Bondo, I agree

The Jews, the european and the US have created Israel. Arab countries were opposed. Now the it is expected that the arabs help the palestinians refugees? Come on. It is the same situation about the iraqi refugees , a catastrophy created by the US and its european allies, and now these countries expect the arabs to host them and to take care of them and they don’t even say thank you to Syria and Jordan hosting 3 millions iraqis! What an irony!
The palestinian refugee problem is 100% an Israeli responsibility, both financially, politically and psychologically.
Let Israel solve it and don’t expect the arabs to help more than they have already done, hosting them for 60 years!

April 20th, 2008, 3:29 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Imagine that your sister gets married and then gets abused by her husband and comes to live with you abandoning a house that is half hers. You treat her like shit. Why? Because it is the responsibility of her husband to take care of her. That is basically the Arab argument for not treating the Palestinians well. Sick. Whatever you think of Israel, the way the Arabs have treated the Palestinians is beyond cynical. They were treated as an object, a weapon against Israel and not as human beings.

April 20th, 2008, 3:43 am


Nur al-Cubicle said:

Surely, the Arabs could raise such money easily

You are so green it’s funny AIG. How old are you, 12?
The US Congress won’t take money from a hypothetical powerful Arab pressure group because that would be political suicide. AIPAC has long tentacles. You were rather comic with the suggestion that Israel would permit aid to be shipped in to the people of Gaza by sea.

April 20th, 2008, 3:51 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Oh poor Arabs, there is nothing they can do against those awful Jews with their tenacles (except write on blogs and complain). How pathetic is your attitude? The US is a LEVEL playing field. Anyone can compete. Make a good case and people will listen to you. If your arguments are weak, do not blame anyone but yourself. If you are afraid of an open and candid debate don’t even start. Nobody has patience for people who prefer to complain instead of build.

I did recommed that the Arabs organize a hospital ship and send it to Gaza. It either is let in by Israel and that helps the Palestinians, or Israel denies it entry and looks really bad. So it is a win-win for the Arabs. I am giving you great ideas, but you can’t do anything constructive with them. All you can do is complain. If the Arabs would have used the last 60 years to build their countries instead of complain, things would look different.

The bottom line is that the dictators you adore have suffocated the Arabs. Is it time to change? No, it is better to be cautious. Geez.

April 20th, 2008, 4:06 am


SimoHurtta said:

14% of the Syrian parliament are women – that’s the highest in the region, other Arab states have an average of just 3.4%.

Syria is on the place 90 (12.4% women in lower house)
Israel is on place 82 (14.2 %)

USA place 70 (16.8 %)
Sudan place 64 (18.1 %)
Pakistan place 42 (22.5 %)
UAE place 42 (22.5 %)
Iraq place 32 (25.5 %)
Rwanda place 1 (48.8%)

AIG why a so miserable result for Israel even among so called “democracies”? Well Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and Salomon Island which always vote for Israel in UN have zero women in parliament. As has Saudi Arabia. Hmmm even USA is no beacon of women’s equality when it is measured by the influence in politics.

AIG why are women in Israel not “allowed / encouraged” to take part in politics? Same reason as in the buses of Jerusalem? Back seat is enough for women, or what?

April 20th, 2008, 6:22 am


why-discuss said:


“Imagine that your sister gets married and then gets abused by her husband and comes to live with you abandoning a house that is half hers. You treat her like shit. Why? Because it is the responsibility of her husband to take care of her.”
Good example! You then admit that Israel has abused the palestinians? Normally abusers are brought to court and ultimately they have to leave the house and let the wife take it back. Maybe in Israel, the law calls for the wife to be simply eliminated so the husband cannot abuse her anymore? Good democratic system you have!

April 20th, 2008, 12:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You miss the point. The case I described is how YOU see the situation, not me. Yet you won’t do the right thing which is to help your sister (the Palestinians). Why? Why such immoral action?

April 20th, 2008, 3:03 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Let’s look at the UN development reports shall we? In gender equality Israeli is ranked 21 in the world while Syria is ranked 96. Have you got anything else to say on this subject?
On the gender empowerment, Israel is ranked 28 and Syria is not even ranked. But don’t let facts get in the way of your theories.

The report:

Look in table 28 and 29.

April 20th, 2008, 3:22 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If an Israeli would write such nonsense I would be the first to be in his face. But I don’t see any Arabs reacting to your nonsense. It makes me wonder if deep down they agree with it.

April 20th, 2008, 3:26 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said:

I am giving you great ideas, but you can’t do anything constructive with them. All you can do is complain. If the Arabs would have used the last 60 years to build their countries instead of complain, things would look different.

You gotta admit it, guys, he is giving us some great ideas. 😉

You know, AIG, once Syria signs peace with Israel, inshallah, will I have the perfect job for you: ISRAELI AMBASSADOR in Damascus (or Beirut, take your pick, as we will surely follow shortly after).

Finally, you will have a formal institution through which to voice your ideas for Arab self-improvement. And then nobody will be able to accuse you of harboring malicious intentions; after all, you will simply be giving friendly neighborly advice!


(I’m actually only half joking.)

April 20th, 2008, 4:02 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You argument is of the kind that the sky is green.
Jews came peniless to the US which was an antisemitic country and they worked hard and sent their children to Harvard. Other immigrant groups did the same. If you are good in the US, you can succeed. If you come with good ideas you will be heard. When you deny that, you are saying that the sky is green. That is pure nonsense.

People are not listening to you because some mysterious power is stopping them. They are not listening to you because you don’t make sense. Yet as is so common in the Arab world you blame others for your failures and are not willing to examine the true causes for it. React to reality, change what you are saying instead of turtling into your own small fantasy world of conspiracies and Jewish world domination.

April 20th, 2008, 9:33 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Let’s look at the UN development reports shall we? In gender equality Israeli is ranked 21 in the world while Syria is ranked 96. Have you got anything else to say on this subject?

AIG did they measure that gender equality among those famous religious Jews or among you “Buddhist, Hindu and atheist” (secular) Jews?

Why AIG in your country women must sit in the back of buses? Here they can choose their seats. I suppose the same is in Syria and Lebanon. About Iran I do not know, but I have never heard that women must there sit in buses in “separate area”. AIG you could as polite gentlemen at least reserve the front of the bus for women and for men the behind, if is necessary for you to separate the genders. What do you think about that?

AIG if I would be you I would stop using those raking tables. Israel is leading only a couple of ranking lists
* most nuclear weapons per capita
* most occupied people per capita
* most UN resolutions against one state
* biggest aid target of USA

April 20th, 2008, 10:32 pm


Honest Patriot said:


I have to jump in here to tell you that your opinions about the Jews are based on nothing but your imagination. Setting aside the questions of who’s right and who’s wrong in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the establishment of the state of Israel and all that… focusing only on what the 16 Million Jews (0.23% of the world population) have succeeded in achieving in terms of wealth, status, and political power, particualarly on the U.S., it is a fact that such success is attributable only to their hard work, intellect, solidarity with each other, and principled life.

You may disagree with any Jew on any topic you want, and if you don’t know let me tell you that I’m the first to want a serious debate about history and developments in the Middle East to seek any needed redress for the Palestinians, but quit already with your racist accusations against the Jews as pimps, thieves, and criminals. You are doing a disservice to all Arabs and so are any folks who speak the same way you do. You make it so easy for Israel to triumph and you don’t even know it. You do so by making unsubstantiated accusations while failing to critique in any way the failings of the Arabs.

The way to make the case for the Palestinians is through powerful litigation based on true facts and effective argumentation coupled with knowledgeable use of mass media in all relevant markets. I rarely see even hints of such effective methods by folks on the Arab side. Couple this failure with the adoption by some of “resistance” methods that target innocent civilians, and you end up with the recipe for the continuing failure that Qaddafi lamented at the last Arab League summit in Damascus.

To win you must win the argument in the arena of world public opinion, not just with the folks who think just like you.

Bondo, there are many folks who would love nothing more but to join in a genuine effort at showing and proving where the world and Israel have gone wrong and what should be done to remedy the situation and provide reparations to the Palestinians. Because of the methods and rhetoric you’re adopting (a) you’re not one of those people and (b) you’re discouraging those people from participating in the solution.

April 21st, 2008, 1:33 am


Honest Patriot said:

PS — The italic font in the 2 preceding posts appear to be accidental by the site, not intended by the bloggers.

April 21st, 2008, 1:37 am


Shai said:


I know you belong to one of the peace camps, but which one? 😉

April 21st, 2008, 4:47 am


Shai said:


Huomenta. I don’t mean to interrupt your argument with AIG, but just one point regarding women on buses. In Jerusalem there are what’s called “religious buses”, which indeed serve the ultra-orthodox population. Most buses are not of this type, not in Jerusalem, and certainly not anywhere else in Israel. On these buses however, as you correctly pointed out, women are treated unequally from men. But that’s in general how the ultra-orthodox treat women, not only on buses, also at home. Having said that, I doubt that in any of the “secular” nations around us, there is a smaller minority of the equivalent “ultra-orthodox”, who treat their women any differently. I imagine Damascus or Cairo probably don’t have these “religious buses” in their capital, yet certainly have a part of the population that views and treats women no differently than our ultra religious do. Anywhere else in Israel, in buses in all the cities and towns, women can sit and stand anywhere they like.

April 21st, 2008, 5:05 am


Honest Patriot said:

Bondo, can you please tell us what personal experience you have that convinces you of the accusations you level against the Jews as people?

Please do not comment on the politics, on the establishment of the state of Israel, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.
These are subjects we could debate, perhaps, if we can get past the part of your argumentation that categorically classifies the Jews in the ways you have portrayed. You seem convinced of your statements. They are declarative. But (1) they are not backed by any evidence and (2) you do not share with us how you personally became convinced of those. Again, not the politics but your classification of the people, of how they achieved successful status – as a group – in the U.S.
I ask because I can tell you from experience that the kind of activities you claim (theft, murder, …) does not pay in the U.S. nor is it the way an individual or a group achieve power.
What is your experience ?

Bondo, you are lumping some of us here on SC into one monolithic group when we are quite different actually. I, for one, am NOT an Israeli, nor a Jew. I have some knowledge of history as well as experience where I would support a debate that challenges the premises of the establishment of the state of Israel and other actions by Israel. But the last thing I would want is to be associated with your insults towards the Jews as a people. I suspect there are many in the same camp.

How about you give us a roadmap for achieving peace and stability in the ME. What would that look like?

April 21st, 2008, 5:06 am


Honest Patriot said:


If you want to engage in a serious debate I suggest you read the following book and then we can talk:

If you decide you don’t want to read the book or even hear about it, etc., then I have an answer for you:
If you consider the Jews your enemies, the first thing you must do, if you wish to fight effectively, is to educate yourself about them. In an objective way. Including literature that supports them. If you say that the way you will win is by 100% boycott, then you’ve lost already. Prepare for theperpetuation of the status quo in the ME – for ever.

I don’t believe you are in the majority in the Arab world.

April 21st, 2008, 5:16 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I know you don’t like ranking tables by organizations like the UN. They just show how false your propoganda is. It is difficult to tell half truths when there is objective data, isn’t it?

What you cannot really stand is the huge difference in what Israel achieved in 60 years and what the Arab countries achieved.

But let me let you on the secret: Democracy. That explains 95% of the difference. You oppress your people, they will not reach their full potential. It is as simple as that. Freedom and innovation are closely linked.

April 21st, 2008, 5:18 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


I salute your intellectual honesty and would be happy to have a reasoned debate with you about the founding of the state of Israel. I believe we won’t disagree about the facts. I think Benny Morris did a good job of going through Israeli archives and digging those up. As for the premises behind the state I think they are pretty clear also. The Zionist movement and its deliberations are very well documented, but we can discuss this some other time.

April 21st, 2008, 5:31 am


Honest Patriot said:

Some statistics
[source ]

Country – Area (in sq mi) – Population

Bahrain 257 – 698,585
Egypt 386,660 – 78,887,007
Iraq 168,753 – 26,783,383
Jordan 35,637 – 5,906,760
Kuwait 6,880 – 2,418,393
Lebanon 4,015- 3,874,050
Libya 679,358 – 5,900,754
Oman 82,031 – 3,102,229
Qatar 4,416 – 885,359
Saudi Arabia 756,981 – 27,019,731
Syria 71,498 – 18,881,361
Tunisia 63,170 – 10,175,014
United Arab Emirates 32,000 – 2,602,713
Yemen 203,849 – 21,456,188

Total for Arab Countries: 2,071,705 sq. mi – 208,591,527

Israel 8,019 – 6,352,117

United States 3,718,691 – 298,444,215

Israel + USA: 3,726,710 sq mi – 304,796,332

So, we have ~ 2 Million sq mi and ~ 200 Million population for Arab States (not counting Sudan and others that could be counted)

For Israel, ~ 3 Thousand sq mil and ~ 6 Million population

If you look at the US, with our without Israel, then
~ 4 Million sq mi and ~ 300 Million population

In the US, the percentage of Jews is ~ 2% or ~ 6 Million

So, if the Arab states have been fighting against Israel alone, then nothing can explain their failure with so much disparity in land and people resources.

If, as often is argued, Israel has effectively 100% backing from the US to the point that the Arab states would really be fighting US+Israel, then – aside from the more advanced technology due to the current phase of history – there is clearly a superiority in land and people resources by a factor of 1.3 to 1.5
In reality, the technology advantage factor is the dominant one, ranging from communications (including electronic warfare, signal intelligence, etc.) to nuclear technology.

Anwar Sadat figured out decades ago that — even if one believed 100% in the rights of the Arabs to reverse the establishment of the state of Israel — there was no practical way to win militarily against Israel+US. So he pursued peace with as much advantage to Egypt and to the Arabs as he could negotiate.

Now, “Joe M.” (whom I haven’t seen blogging here lately) still calls him traitor and considers his assassination a good thing.

Now also, Qaddafi — contradicting his actions of collaboration and acceptance — re-ingnites the Arab dream of victory against Israel and full recovery of the land.

Bondo joins the SC blogging community and blames all ills of the ME on “the Jews,” accusing them of controlling the US through murder, theft, and pimping.

The perspective in the US by some of us is:

“Can’t we all get along?”

April 21st, 2008, 5:48 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Till after 67 the US did not help Israel much with money or weapons.
In fact, it was Eisenhower who saved Nasser’s butt in 56 by forcing Israel to leave the Sinai. That made Nasser a hero.
There is an explanation why the Arabs are losing. It is not because they are fighting against the US also. It is because they lack democracy.

How are we going to get along if we cannot agree what the facts are?

April 21st, 2008, 5:57 am


Shai said:


What is amazing is not how despite the ratios, the Arab world still is incapable of defeating Israel. But rather, how despite the fact that some 40 years ago a bunch of smart guys figured out how it was possible, after 200,000 years since the appearance of modern humans, to have us walk on the moon, we still can’t figure out how to solve our 60 year-old conflict in the Middle East!

April 21st, 2008, 6:19 am


Honest Patriot said:


The debate would be an interesting and illuminating one. I’m not sure how much impact we have as two individuals. This should really be done by experts who would be willing to speak in understandable and simple terms. The key issue, to me, is not the establishment of this or the other state, but the displacement of folks who were living in an area coupled with the immigration of millions from abroad to settle in and around their land. Everything seems to have evolved from there. Even though you say the facts can be agreed upon I have a sense that these facts are viewed differently by the Palestinians (and Arabs) and Israelis. At least based on what we are taught in schools and reports since so few of us at this point were alive and/or old enough at that time. For example, whereas there are claims that a lot of land was purchased from the Palestinians for a fair price, there are counterclaims that it was terror that drove Palestininans from their home. That’s just an example.

At any rate, I’m not sure I can do justice to defending the Palestinian viewpoint here, but perhaps someone more erudite than me (and wiling to engage in a logical civilized debate) can be a better advocate.

Clearly, the disasters of the past 60 years have gone far beyond the disagreement on setting up a new country. There are religious dimensions, racial dimensions, and for Arabs a crucial dimension of pride and honor. Much of the suffering, in my opinion, resulted from the bad methods used to address the conflict, including the knee-jerk reaction with the speeches to “throw Israel into the sea,” the (understandable) paranoia of Israelis in hearing such declarations, the policy of targeting civilians pursued by the PLO for many years, and (we may disagree on this one) the policy of violent responses by Israel including, for example, the targeted assassinations that take with them many innocent civilians (by using planes and rockets to take out one individual). It’s a tough neighborhood. Many of us, both from Arab countries and from Israel, have had the opportunity and have chosen to extricate ourselves from this mess and seek refuge and peace in the U.S.

When I started commenting on SC I mentioned several times my impression that the elements of a long-term solution in the ME are pretty well known and accepted at this point. Getting in the way is some strange barrier to get to business and settle this issue once and for all. I’ve advocated, as you may remenber, catalytic events that could break that barrier, or at least tunnel through it. One persistent suggestion — which you have always dismissed as unlikely — is the emergence of an Israeli “Sadat” with the courage and the vision to make a bold move in addressing the Arab states and, more importantly, the Arab people. I still believe it is Israel’s turn to break the impasse. Alon Liel and Shai advocate peace with Syria as “the way forward.” Maybe that’s the way to do it, I can’t dismiss this approach by using logical arguments. I just don’t “feel” it will work. Too much at stake for Syria, given its principled positions taken currently and its hosting of rejectionist groups and support of HA and Hamas. Too little support in Israel for giving up the Golan (I think (?)). I still view the Israeli “Sadat” as the best way forward. Then again, there’s your “let’s wait” position. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t see time being on Israel’s side. If I were an Israeli and/or an advocate for Israel, I’d see time as bringing with it a stronger HA, a stronger Hamas, a nuclear Iran, weaker negotiating position for Israel, potential for Intifada #3 which might include Arabs within Israel,…, or,… another major war. None of these are good options. Even if there is no war and the other events are “contained,” it means continued escalation in military preparation by Israel. Don’t Israelis eventually want real peace and less spending on Defense ?

Yalla ya AIG, find us the Israeli “Sadat.”

April 21st, 2008, 6:19 am


Shai said:


I’m not sure of my insinuated accusation, but I do believe that when one has not figured out a peaceful solution to a growing problem, it is often the case that an almost subconscious need develops, seeking a violent solution, or at least a tremendous release of tension, which can often transpire through war. I hope I’m wrong…

April 21st, 2008, 6:27 am


Honest Patriot said:


The early US support – starting with the immediate recognition of the new state of Israel – was crucial if not fateful in the success of Israel. I believe this continues to be true. The nature of the support may have taken different forms but it was always the determining factor. At least that’s I gather from the perspective of what I’ve been told, heard, read, and saw. I’ll leave a thorough analysis to the scholars and historians (and I won’t argue with their conclusions).

You’ve often made that argument about democracy being the panacea for the Arabs. I’m not so sure. Not that democracy is a bad thing. But I don’t believe that its lack is the sole cause of the weakness and all the other mistakes of the Arab leaders and countries. Look what happened when democratic elections were held in Palestine: Hamas won. How does that work with your theory?

April 21st, 2008, 6:34 am


Honest Patriot said:

Shai – what you say is a tautology. The instict of survival is inherent in human nature. If you don’t see a clear path to peace you prepare for war.
You don’t have to be “shy” about it 😉

April 21st, 2008, 6:36 am


Shai said:


In my “good cop” kind of way, tautologies are always a good way to start the morning… But I really am talking about things happening subconsciously. Ask me if I believe Olmert and Barak are sincere about wishing for peace – yes, absolutely. They really would like to sign a peace treaty with both the Palestinians and the Syrians tomorrow morning. But since they haven’t figured out that their preconditions are absurd, and will never be accepted, they view Syria’s stance as that of a reluctance to make peace (again, an absurd view, given the past 3-4 years worth of Syrian attempts). So they’re at a cognitive impasse, not wishing to start a war, yet not knowing how to “shake” the table around just enough to make the other side reconsider.

I’d like to think we elect our leaders with the hope they would, on occasion, fight those basic human instincts you mentioned. See how JFK did so, against all odds and in particular his advisors recommendations, in the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962.

April 21st, 2008, 6:53 am


Honest Patriot said:

Ya Bondo, I don’t know what it is about you but I believe there is inside you a person that all of us at SC will like. Very much. And I am sincere in this. First thank you for engaging me here and addressing my question.


Please allow me to point out that the experience you say you have with Jewish people is really no experience at all. You have made my point by telling us — and I like you for your honesty and straightforwardness — that you really have never interacted with Jewish people and so have not had the opportunity to form a first hand opinion yourself. Let me tell you from my experience that there is another side to the story of what you infer from the news and from one-sided accounts, particularly from not getting to know the real people. Of course the same goes for the Arabs, Palestinians, etc., i.e., the caricaturish depiction by people in Western media and impressions formed by folks who have never experienced the interaction with the people behind the countries’ facade first hand, this depiction does a disservice to so much of the genuine beauty, simplicity, affection, and love of life of the “Arab people.” Your categorization of all Jews as you do is no better than the categorization of all Palestinians as terrorists by some. Both categorizations are false.

Then I really don’t understand why you’re calling Dennis Prager an antisemite. Can you elaborate? And can you please tell me how you infer all you need to know about me from just one book I’m recommending that you read? You know, a balanced person needs to acquaint him/herself with a wide spectrum of ideas covering all opinions and perspectives. Narrowing one’s view to a monochromatic view of the world, as I think you’re restricting yourself to, is not a recipe for success.

Here’s some info on Dennis Prager that you might want to refer to in trying to explain why you call him antisemite ??

Using your logic I suppose you consider Joseph Telushkin also an antisemite ?

Please understand that I have not said that I support everything Prager and/or Telushkin say. You don’t have to agree with folks 100% to appreciate the validity and thought-provoking effect of some of the ideas they bring forth.

Also, please understand that there is much wider sympathy and sorrow worldwide for the suffering of the Palestinian people than is reflected in actual positions or statements. The choice of violent means to solve this problem has contributed, in my opinion, to the deepening of the crisis and the perpetuation and increase of this suffering. Categorical positions and statements such as the ones you take and express don’t help either.

Bondo, you can be a peacemaker if you want. It’s your choice. Views you read on SC can help. Will you adapt or maintain the rigidity of your views?

April 21st, 2008, 1:40 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Democracy means regimes accountable to the people. Will Hamas stand for election again in Gaza and go peacefully if it loses? No.
Real democracy is the only solution for the Arab world.

Someone in the Arab world has to say “the buck stops here”. Not in Israel. Israel cannot make the Arab world more educated or technologically advanced. It cannot give women rights in the Arab world. It is the Arab responsibility to do that. But what I see is that no one is willing to accept this responsibility and be judged accorded to his results. Instead I see utopian day dreamings instead of a willingness to fight the hard battle for freedom (M14 is the exception to the rule but it is also a very recent convert).

April 21st, 2008, 2:23 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Seriously, your well-meaning attitude is wasted on Bondo.

Best to smile, wave, and ignore.

*smile* *wave* *ignore*


April 21st, 2008, 2:45 pm


Honest Patriot said:

Tayyib ya QN, I’m going to go shop for a loquat tree to plant in my warm NC backyard. Sure beats engaging Bondo. I don’t know why but for a moment there he sounded like a young chap who might be adaptable with enough prodding by a wiseman. I guess that wiseman ain’t so wise, huh? You see, you are so effective at engaging everyone else that I always think it futile to add anything. Except you ignored Bondo so I saw an opening 😉

April 21st, 2008, 3:10 pm


Honest Patriot said:

AIG, fair enough. Do you see anything that you would be critical of in Israel’s positions and actions?

April 21st, 2008, 3:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Of course. I think Olmert stinks and we need Netanyahu.
Israel is just like any other democracy. We muddle along. It is difficult to always be correct in a complex environment. What you need are mechanisms of accountability. When Israelis think their government is doing the wrong things it changes the government. Israeli politicians are ultr-accountable to the Israeli public.

Every election we study well the options, assess what has happened and with our limited capabilities try to predict the future and which party would be best suited to lead Israel. Do we generally agree? No. Do we make mistakes? Sure. But we follow the best process available. What else do you want from Israel? (All I am asking is for a similar process in the Arab world, that will bring peace).

Israel is an open society and if you want to influence Israeli thought you are more than welcome to publish your opinons but I am pretty sure that there is already some publication voicing them. Having given the issues much thought, and understanding that we will bear the consequences of our decision most Israeli do not agree with you. I am sure you can respect that.

April 21st, 2008, 3:53 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Interestingly enough, the first leadership dispute in the Islamic world was settled via a primitive democratic process of sorts… a consultative election, if you will.

Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was, if we are to believe the sources, “elected” to the leadership of the nascent umma by a meeting of the Medinese Ansar.

A similar consultative assembly allegedly took place in the elections of the next couple Rashidun caliphs. Mu`awiyah, however, sets the pattern for dynastic succession (in Damascus, of all places!)

April 21st, 2008, 4:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If it helps, I will credit the Arabs with inventing democracy. How about implementing it though? And by democracy I mean real accountability. The people decide if the politicians are doing their job well, and if not they go home peacefully. Let the people deicde if they want “resistance” or economic growth.

April 21st, 2008, 4:45 pm


wizart said:

They have both. Resistance and economic growth while you have little growth and no security. So perhaps you should practice real democracy and give credit where credit is due and the land back.

Golan village divided by fear

By Harry de Quetteville in Ghajar
Last Updated: 11:49pm GMT 17/12/2005

For five years, the village of Ghajar has straddled the border between two nations officially at war, marooned between the fortified lines of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the armed Islamic group, Hizbollah, in Lebanon.

Shielded from the guns of neither side, it is a geographical anomaly that has become a uniquely demilitarised Middle Eastern frontline, with no walls or fences, frontier posts or machine-gun nests.

Middle East factfile

But now Ghajar has turned from no man’s land to battleground in the most marked escalation of hostilities between the two sides since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000.

Last week, Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s defence minister, said the border was “hotting up” as regional turmoil struck Lebanon and Syria -and Ghajar is feeling the heat. Last month, Hizbollah gunmen wielding automatic weapons sped through its streets on motorcycles under the covering barrage of hundreds of mortar rounds. The gunmen were looking for hostages, not from the 2,000 residents – Israeli citizens who were originally Syrian Alawite Muslims – but Israeli soldiers.

In the wake of the battle, Hizbollah’s head Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, pronounced it a “duty” for the men under his command to abduct Israeli soldiers so that, dead or alive, they could be ransomed for the freedom of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The tactic has proved successful in the past. Last year, Hizbollah traded an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers for the release of 400 prisoners.

For them, the town’s alleys and houses provide the perfect cover to strike Israeli units. That is because the border, defined in 2000 by the United Nations, splits the village in two.

The lack of defences means that Hizbollah can enter the Israeli side at will.

“Hizbollah use us for cover; elsewhere on the border they are exposed,” said a town official who asked to be identified only as Mr Khatib. With fighters just a few hundred unfortified yards away, uneasy silence is the norm in Ghajar.

Israelis outside the town are nervous too and even ambulances will not venture inside. The reasons for their fear are obvious.

In the road outside the home of Hussein Salman, Ghajar’s mathematics teacher, deep chunks have been dug out of the tarmac by shrapnel; bullet holes riddle the walls.

When Hizbollah came riding into town, Mr Salman grabbed his family and ran for a bunker he had built for just such an occasion. “We stayed inside for two days,” he said.

Inside the town hall, which flies a Star of David flag, although it is officially on the Lebanese side of the high street, Mr Khatib knows who should be held responsible for the town’s identity crisis and the violence it brings.

“We blame the United Nations,” he said. “Putting the border down the centre of the village?

“Here people say that only a drunk man could have drawn that line.”

April 21st, 2008, 4:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We all can read the UN economic development reports. Why are you lying? And as for resistance, apart from talking, what battles have the Syrians fought since 73? Lions in Lebanon, mice in the Golan. In September Israel bombed you and you did nothing. Indeed, resistance. The Syrians are cowards, they themselves do not resist, they find fools to do it for them.

April 21st, 2008, 5:07 pm


wizart said:


You’re very good at winning small battles and losing the larger war. What’s the cost for your conflicted identity over the next generations and the massive lies you keep inflicting on your own kids by distorting facts on the ground and fooling yourselves and others into believing what’s not true. Your out of control ego and persistent inability to face reality head on will really destroy you from within.

You can’t have peace if you’re constantly at war with yourself. You’re proud of all your universities and yet your national character is built on a myth and your democracy is built on fraud.

April 21st, 2008, 5:21 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG said:

QN, If it helps, I will credit the Arabs with inventing democracy. How about implementing it though?

Been there, done that. AIG, to the Arabs, democracy is sooooooo 7th century, dude. Autocracy is where it’s at, my brother. Why give up all of our glories for some hanging chads?

Democracy shmemocracy…

April 21st, 2008, 5:26 pm


why-discuss said:


Israelis try to convince themselves they live in a democracy. Thist is the only reason they give to justify the horrors they are commmiting. Yes, Israelis are voting for their leaders, like the american voted for that Bush man. Money, media, lobbies are so powerful that you wonder how free are the isrealis to choose their leaders and their path. Moreover the israelis politician like Bushand his neo-con friends, play on the visceral fear the Israelis have toward the Islam and the arabs to bring them to vote for them
and to accept unlawful acts.
Sorry, AIG, a democracy build on fear is mo more less than a dictatorship (remember Hilter’s democracy based on the threat of the non-aryen). The difference in the case of Israel is that the “dictator” is not a person, it is a psychological entity living inside the psyche of the every Israeli.

April 21st, 2008, 5:30 pm


wizart said:


Kifanekracy is probably a democratic faction in Kadema for people who won’t shut up on their own without special assistance. lol

We need to have hebrew tutorial one day after we get the Golan back!

April 21st, 2008, 5:38 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart and Why,
You don’t have any understanding of Israel and Israelis and you build fantasies in the air and weird psychological theories.

In almost every university in Israel there is a faculty for Muslim and Arab studies. There is not ONE university in the Arab world with a faculty for studying Israel or Judaism. You have been losing 60 years and will continue losing forever because you do not care to learn. You only care to invent excuses and stories based on nothing.

April 21st, 2008, 5:43 pm


wizart said:


Your faculty of education are busy performing their duties in and around Gazy so we get to have free lessons about the Jewish nation just by turning the T.V on everyday. You still don’t know winning from losing and yet you’re quick to continue perpetuating your myth.

Really you could do yourself a favor treating yourself to a mental health clinic perhaps you can find free courtesy of US aid programs.

Perhaps you’re still suffering from a war related post traumatic stress disorder and your being here is just your way to heal.

April 21st, 2008, 5:55 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As ususal, instead of agreeing that you need to improve the universities in the Arab world, you deny that research is needed and assert that you can learn from tv. Typical. That exactly explains why Israel has achieved so much in 60 years and the Arabs countries so little. Are you working for the Israeli government? I am starting to think you are.

April 21st, 2008, 6:05 pm


idaf said:

QN said:
“A similar consultative assembly allegedly took place in the elections of the next couple Rashidun caliphs. Mu`awiyah, however, sets the pattern for dynastic succession (in Damascus, of all places!)”

Oh but ya QN, Mu`awiyah immigrated from Mekkah to Damascus and brought with him the pattern for dynastic succession. He was a “Saudi”. 🙂

April 21st, 2008, 6:06 pm


wizart said:

Syria has a virtual online university. Here’s a free lesson for you.

From the Harvard Business Review:

Method Teaching

Christensen’s discussion leadership seminar for HBS doctoral students, which began in the late 1960s, served as the pedagogical point of entry for all new faculty for many years. Acknowledging that there is “no cookie-cutter formula” for successful discussion teaching, he nevertheless maintained that all HBS teachers need “to be able to pose questions to students, listen carefully to their replies, and respond—all within the context of the fast give-and-take of discussion.”

In the mid-1970s, Harvard President Derek Bok asked Christensen to expand his instruction to include teachers from other parts of the University. In response, Christensen and his colleagues developed two influential course offerings: Developing Discussion Leadership Skills, attended primarily by Harvard doctoral candidates and young instructors; and Teaching by the Case Method, which attracted more senior professors from across the University.

A legendary presence

When asked to explain the transformational power of Christensen’s seminars, his former students often talk not about what he taught but about the example he set. “Chris was a model,” explains Garvin. “He had the ability to take 25 strong-minded people, simultaneously engage them in a collective conversation, but still make contact one-on-one.”

Both as a teacher and as a colleague, Garvin remembers Christensen as “incredibly open,” a trait echoed by Robert Bruner (HBS MBA ’74, DBA ’82), who served as a summer case-writing assistant to Christensen.

“He supervised me in the same way that he taught—he asked questions,” recalls Bruner, now Dean of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “I walked out of each meeting with him sensing that I had been told to figure things out for myself—but with a gentle, encouraging expression of how to do so.”

For Willis Emmons, Christensen’s teaching seminar offered lessons in “questioning, listening, responding, eye contact, and body language.” “He was totally engaged and committed,” notes Emmons, a senior lecturer at HBS in addition to directing the Christensen Center. “He made every student feel he or she was the most important person in the room.”

In honor of the School’s 75th anniversary in 1984, a case-method colloquium organized by Christensen and colleagues Jim Heskett and David Garvin drew 85 participants from 60 universities around the world. That same year, Christensen was named to the Robert Walmsley University Professorship, one of a handful of special professorships at Harvard that acknowledge achievements beyond conventional limits of departments and specialties. Awarding the chair, President Bok said that Christensen’s efforts had “helped instructors throughout the University to understand how the craft of teaching can be analyzed, understood, and improved. By so doing,” Bok noted, “he has exemplified Harvard’s commitment to the quality of teaching.” HBS Dean John McArthur observed, “Chris has been at the forefront in the search for better ways for faculty to develop insight and judgment in their students and, not incidentally, in themselves.”

Brushing aside the praise, Christensen insisted that he was simply “a student of teaching,” adding, “We really know so very little about the teaching-learning process.”

Not quite retired

Although Christensen retired in 1990, as an emeritus professor he continued to write, teach, and serve as case-method éminence grise for a number of years. His influential book Education for Judgment, edited with David Garvin and Ann Sweet, was published in 1992.

Until the closing months of his life in 1999, he kept an office in Cumnock Hall, and more than one current HBS faculty member still recalls that if the blinds were raised in Christensen’s office window, it was a signal that he was in that day—and ready to talk about teaching.

April 21st, 2008, 6:32 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Can you enlighten us, what interesting innovation has come out of Syrian universities in the last few years? Why are Syrian researchers so unproductive? Is it because of Israel or is it because they base their research just on what they see on TV? Do they watch mainly Fox?

What is your plan to improve Syrian universities? Who do you hold responsible for improving the universities? No one as ususal. If you don’t want to help yourself, why do you expect others to help you?

April 21st, 2008, 6:48 pm


Shai said:

Why-Discuss, AIG,

What difference does it make whether Israel is a democracy, or a dictatorship for that matter (and the same for Syria)? If we wait until Syria becomes a democracy, all the rest of the remaining high-tech workers, startups, investors, owners and management, will find their way quickly into Southern California, or various European cities that are recognizing Israeli talent and are beginning to offer very competitive financial incentives. And if we wait for Israel to become a “true” democracy (as defined by some here on SC), continued regional violence and wars will certainly keep away talented Arab expats living in the West, who might otherwise consider coming back to help build the future for their nations. Let us not get bogged down in definitions, in analyzing each other’s political systems, or even in reciting our various histories. Now is the time to seek a peaceful end to our regional conflicts. Now is the time to seek common ground, not our differences.

April 21st, 2008, 7:02 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seek as much as you like. I disagree completely with your outlook about companies and engineers leaving. There is the ususal exchange of people that strengthens relations between Israel and American and European high tech and is only making Israel stronger.

Of course it makes a difference what kind of regime Syria is. We need to make peace with the people, not the regime that does not represent the people. But we discussed this before.

April 21st, 2008, 7:14 pm


Shai said:


I do agree that it would be ideal if we could be sure that we’re making peace with a majority of the people, who projected their support in a national referendum, or democratic elections. But if we can’t have that, should we wait? As for the outlook on High Tech workers, I actually borrowed it from some expert in the field who wrote up an article about it last week on ynet (I’ll look for it, and try to link it here). It is a real fear I have, however, that many talented Israelis, who’ll find no hope in the region and won’t want to risk their education (endless university strikes, or being away on reserve duty during studies, etc.) or their financial future, will simply pack up their bags, and go. So many already have, and not only on short-term (3-4 years) relocation on joint projects. Out of the 7-8 high-tech parents in my daughters’ ganim, 5-6 of them are talking about leaving for the U.S. When I ask “for how long”, they respond “who knows…” You know the mood here, I don’t need to tell you. We both need to find ways to keep most talent at home, not abroad.

April 21st, 2008, 7:33 pm


why-discuss said:


Without security, democracy and money won’t prevent people to prefer moving to some other place. ( this is for AIG’s obsession with democracy)
I am not surprised about the flight of talents. The same way lebanese young talents have left the country to places like Dubai and KSA after being tired of insecurity and war threats, I can understand Israelis would want to do that. I guess that for fear of creating snowballing the israeli media try to minimize this phenomenon. While the lebanese all want to come back to their ancestors country if security is re-established or in their retirement, would Israelis going to the USA ever think about going back to Israel?
If they don’t this is a threat to Israel’s survival, isn’t it?

April 22nd, 2008, 12:29 am


Shai said:


I believe that if there’s peace in our region, most talented expats will give very serious consideration to coming back. I don’t need to tell you how an expat feels while living abroad, making good money, living safely while his/her family, friends, and fellow countrymen are still enduring hardship and suffering in their native country. Undoubtedly, most expats have a deep desire to return to their homes, where they feel they truly belong. So when conditions are such that wars and conflicts and subjugation are replaced by hope and coexistence and optimism, and the real potential for prosperity (economically, socially, etc.), then I believe many will come back. I’ve often told friends that moved to the U.S. that now that they’ve benefitted from acquiring perspective, they have almost a responsibility to come back, and help shape our future. To work hard at securing the financial future of one’s family is indeed understandable, but to have one’s heart in the right place, is no less important. And, at the end of the day, we’re much more Middle Eastern than we are Western (despite our good English, and Mac laptops), and we belong in this region much more than “over there”… Don’t we?

April 22nd, 2008, 6:49 am


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