News Round Up (18 April 2010)

Analysis: Israel fears US wants to impose peace

JERUSALEM — Israel’s hardline government is deeply worried that the U.S. will try to impose a Mideast peace deal, that the Palestinians might declare statehood unilaterally and that Washington could be moving to end tensions with Syria.

These fears underscore how the current differences between the U.S. and Israel go far beyond a still unresolved diplomatic row over Israeli settlement building. Instead, there is a deepening chasm between the visions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, raising questions about the strength of the U.S.-Israeli alliance despite mutual pronouncements that the bond is unshakable. JRL117

Netanyahu fears Israel could be forced into unwanted concessions and its enemies’ hands will be strengthened. His government is pushing to keep the focus firmly on threats from Hezbollah, Hamas and — particularly — Iran and its disputed nuclear program.

Obama, in contrast, is speaking about the promises of peace and has taken a new unusual step, publicly characterizing Israeli-Arab strife as harmful to U.S. interests — which many interpreted as a prelude to taking action to push through a peace.

A forum of Israel’s top seven ministers met three times this week to try to find ways to warm the chilly relationship with the Obama administration, but failed to agree on any specific measures, such as stopping Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, officials said on condition of anonymity because the meetings were closed.

Israeli officials have been phoning U.S. congress members for help in repairing the ties that were damaged last month when Israel announced a massive new Jewish housing project in east Jerusalem during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Palestinians hope to make that part of the city their future capital.

Israel still has not given its response to a series of demands Obama reportedly made in a tense meeting with Netanyahu in Washington on March 23. This has led to speculation that Netanyahu might be seeking to buy time in the hope that Obama would be less inclined to pressure Israel in the run-up to November’s U.S. congressional elections, in which Jewish American support is key.

US sources say unclear if Syria sent Scuds to Lebanon YNET

WASHINGTON – The United States does not believe Syria transferred long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah, but has no doubt that Damascus had the intention to deliver missiles to the terror organization, US officials told the Reuters news agency on Saturday. “We think the intent is there,” a senior US official said. But the official and two others briefed on the case said it was unclear whether the missiles, which could hit deep inside Israel, were actually handed over in full to the group. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Another official said doubts were growing that Syria had delivered the Scuds in full and allowed them to transit to Lebanese territory: “We don’t believe it happened.”  “It’s unclear at this point that a transfer has occurred … and the United States has no indications that the rockets have moved across the border,” a third US official said.

Such comments come in contrast with remarks made by White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs on Wednesday, who said the US administration was “deeply concerned” with the alleged weapons transfer, which he said could undermine stability in the Middle East.

Obama to Sarkozy: I’ll keep up pressure on Israel, Palestinians
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz, April 16, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama has told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he is determined to keep the pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to renew peace talks and implement confidence-building measures. Obama made his comments despite potential political damage at home ahead of the mid-term congressional elections in November.

According to a Western diplomat familiar with the details of the Sarkozy-Obama meeting two weeks ago in Washington, Obama said the administration’s latest moves were not meant to cause a crisis with Israel, but to create an atmosphere that would allow the peace process to proceed. Obama made clear that he was pressuring both Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Obama said he was skeptical about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability and willingness to advance the peace process. The source said the U.S. president was disappointed that Netanyahu was unwilling to distance himself from his right-wing governing coalition.

Obama said he was aware that he was paying a political price domestically for pressuring Israel, especially in relations with the Jewish community. But he added that he was willing to do so.

Republicans have criticized Obama for pressuring Israel since Netanyahu’s visit to Washington a few weeks ago. Evidence of political pressure on Obama includes a letter signed by 76 Republican and Democratic senators sent Tuesday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Times (GB): Israel warns Syria over Hezbollah attacks

Israel has delivered a secret warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad that it will respond to missile attacks from Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese-based Islamist group, by launching immediate retaliation against Syria itself. In a message, sent …

The following three news items from Abdalnour’s all4syria website are:

  • A Legal trial between the Hariri family and Khaddam to evict him from his Villa in Paris.
  • An Agreement to Ease Getting Visas for Syrians to France
  • The American School in Damascus will be Opening Soon

أنباء عن نزاع قضائي بين عائلة الحريري وخدام لإخراجه من القصر بباريس

ونقلت الصحيفة مصادر فرنسية وعربية في باريس، تأكيداتها أن القصر الذي اشترته عائلة الحريري من وريثة (اونازيس) الملياردير اليوناني الشهير بمبلغ 20 مليون يورو بشكل موقت. فيما يقول خدّام ان عائلة الحريري اشترت له هذا القصر ضمن ما أسماه التعويضات عن أملاكه في سوريا والتي اتفق عليها مع العائلة ومع شيراك، حيث دُفع له مبلغ سبعة ملايين دولار مقابل بعض ممتلكاته على الساحل السوري ووُعد بمبالغ أخرى.

إتفاقية لتسهيل الحصول على الفيز لفرنسا للطلاب السوريين

قرب افتتاح المدرسة الامريكية بدمشق

Jordan is talking, but is anyone listening? By Curtis R. Ryan on

Syria: New study on the situation of stateless Kurds

Reliable figures available for the first time.

(Berlin, April 15, 2010)—In a study published today, KurdWatch reports that there are 154,000 registered stateless Kurds (ajanib) living in Syria. This group has been living without Syrian citizenship since 1962 and thus without fundamental civil rights. In 1962 the Syrian government ordered a special census in the primarily Kurdish settled al‑Hasakah province and revoked the citizenship of 120,000 Kurds.

»This is the first time it has been possible to research reliable data that is independent of the official statements of the Syrian government,« said Siamend Hajo, project manager of the Internet portal, which operates from Berlin. »Our figures are from the year 2008. To this day, the Syrian government refuses to publish them.« The number of unregistered stateless people (maktumin) is unknown. KurdWatch assumes that 160,000 Kurds are affected. »We assume that a total of more than 300,000 stateless Kurds live in Syria,« Hajo continues.

The 26‑page study »Stateless Kurds in Syria—Illegal invaders or victims of a nationalistic policy?« outlines the discrimination currently facing registered as well as unregistered stateless Kurds. For example, stateless Kurds require special permission for simple administrative procedures such as marriage registration and are forbidden to stay in a hotel without prior consent. First and foremost, however, stateless people are confronted with significant restrictions to their political rights, their ownership rights, and their right to education and the free choice of profession.

With reference to the decree of 1962 that ordered the census, the report analyzes the census implementation and specifies the coalitions of interest responsible for its passage. »Here as well our study breaks new ground,« said Siamend Hajo. »The background information we publish in a condensed format was previously scattered and only available in Arabic.«

Policies toward the stateless Kurds have not changed under Bashar al‑Assad. The Syrian president who took office as a reformer almost ten years ago has repeatedly announced a solution to the problem of the stateless. Thus far, however, nothing has happened. is an independent Internet portal that reports on human rights violations against the Kurdish population in Syria. []

Syria in China’s New Silk Road Strategy
By Christina Y. Lin
Jamestown Foundation

While the international community is fixated on Iran’s nuclear program, China has been steadily expanding its political, economic and strategic ties with Syria. Since Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited China in 2004 on the heels of the 2003 U.S. intervention in Iraq, there have been increased economic cooperation and more recently, a flurry of high-level exchanges on political and strategic issues. On April 5, while at the 7th Syrian International Oil and Gas Exhibition “SYROIL 2010” to attract local, Arab and foreign investors, Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sufian al-Allaw told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that he expects more contracts and cooperation with Chinese oil companies (Xinhua News Agency, April 5). This is in tandem with growing political and economic cooperation in the electricity, transport and telecommunications sectors dominated by Chinese enterprises such as CNPC, ZTE, Huawei and Haier (China’s largest white goods manufacturer) (Xinhua News Agency, March 31, 2008; The Syrian Report, May 11, 2009)………….

“Down With Dictatorship!”
2010-04-17 AmSpec Blog:

As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing campaign to appease enemies and alienate allies, the President has decided to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since 2005. Laura Rozen’s Politico report this week on the battle in the …

Aga Khan Helps Ravaged Syrian City Aleppo Regain Ancient Glory
By Daniel Williams

April 16 (Bloomberg) — It’s hard to know which of history’s episodes was worse for Aleppo, an ancient fortress city in Syria’s north. Perhaps it was in the year 1400, when Tamerlane, the invading Mongol-Turkic chieftain, piled thousands of skulls at the town gates to persuade inhabitants to give up.

Or maybe the earthquake of 1136 that killed tens of thousands of inhabitants, or the massacre of Muslims by more Mongol invaders in 1260 or the 19th-century assaults by cholera and plague.

Comments (37)

Innocent Criminal said:

how come no one has commented on this yet?

April 18th, 2010, 2:19 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

This is the first time we hear respectable generals in the army saying that Israel arrogance is hurting US citizens and soldiers,which is absolutely true,we have said that long time ago,Americans has paid dearly in blood and enormous money,to help Israeli arrogance,and this policy failed,and get the US in deep crisis,financialy and in image,I always said,Israel is behind most EVIL in the Middle East,President Obama is very smart in recognizing that Israel arrogance,and Israel unwilling to go for peace in the ME,is wrong,and it is time to end the Arab Israeli conflict.
Netenyaho is counting on congress to put pressure on Obama,Israeli hoping that Obama will not win another term,in both they will be disappointed, winning health reform,achieving peace in the ME, and winning financial reform,will make Obama the best president this country ever has,and will assure him second term.
Obama has every reason to go for achieving peace in the ME.

April 18th, 2010, 4:20 pm


Ghat Albird said:

With friends like these who needs alliances when money talks?

Yep. The two Senators from our state did sign this reaffirmation.

Signatories to Boxer-Isakson Letter
Reaffirming the U.S.-Israel Alliance

Total Number of Signatories: 76

Senator State Party
Akaka, Daniel HI D
Alexander, Lamar TN R
Barrasso, John WY R
Bayh, Evan IN D
Begich, Mark AK D
Bennet, Michael CO D
Bennett, Robert UT R
Bond, Christopher MO R
Boxer, Barbara CA D
Brown, Scott MA R
Brownback, Sam KS R
Bunning, Jim KY R
Burr, Richard NC R
Burris, Roland IL D
Cantwell, Maria WA D
Cardin, Ben MD D
Carper, Tom DE D
Casey Jr., Bob PA D
Chambliss, Saxby GA R
Coburn, Tom OK R
Cochran, Thad MS R
Collins, Susan ME R
Conrad, Kent ND D
Cornyn, John TX R
Crapo, Mike ID R
DeMint, Jim SC R
Ensign, John NV R
Feingold, Russ WI D
Franken, Al MN D
Gillibrand, Kirsten NY D
Graham, Lindsey SC R
Grassley, Charles IA R
Hagan, Kay NC D
Hatch, Orrin UT R
Hutchinson, Kay Bailey TX R
Inhofe, Jim OK R
Inouye, Daniel HI D
Isakson, Johnny GA R
Johanns, Mike NE R
Johnson, Tim SD D
Klobuchar, Amy MN D
Kohl, Herbert WI D
Kyl, Jon AZ R
Landrieu, Mary LA D
Lautenberg, Frank NJ D
LeMieux, George FL R
Levin, Carl MI D
Lieberman, Joseph CT I
Lincoln, Blanche AR D
McCain, John AZ R
McConnell, Mitch KY R
Menendez, Bob NJ D
Merkley, Jeff OR D
Mikulski, Barbara MD D
Murkowski, Lisa AK R
Murray, Patty WA D
Nelson, Ben NE D
Nelson, Bill FL D
Pryor, Mark AR D
Risch, Jim ID R
Roberts, Pat KS R
Schumer, Charles NY D
Sessions, Jeff AL R
Shaheen, Jeanne NH D
Shelby, Richard AL R
Snowe, Olympia ME R
Specter, Arlen PA D
Stabenow, Debbie MI D
Tester, John MT D
Thune, John SD R
Vitter, David LA R
Voinovich, George OH R
Warner, Mark VA D
Whitehouse, Sheldon RI D
Wicker, Roger MS R
Wyden, Ron OR D

April 18th, 2010, 5:28 pm


offended said:

“Ravaged Syrian City Aleppo ”
“Decades of uneasy Syrian relations with nearby Turkey made it a cul-de-sac.”

It doesn’t take much for western journalism these days to become at the receiving end of my expletives.

April 18th, 2010, 6:19 pm


offended said:

On the other hand, I’m pleasantly surprised at the UPD website. Not bad at all.

April 18th, 2010, 6:28 pm


offended said:

I must say I’m pleasantly surprised at the Urban Development of Aleppo website. Not bad at all:

April 18th, 2010, 6:36 pm


Off the Wall said:

Fully agree on both 4 and 5

April 18th, 2010, 7:12 pm


norman said:

Obama administration moving ahead to expand U.S.-Syria relations
By Paul Richter | Tribune Washington Bureau

| Published: Sunday, April 18, 2010

Updated: Sunday, April 18, 2010

Olivier Douliery | Abaca Press

U.S. President Barack Obama met with world leaders in advance of the Nuclear Security Summit, at the Blair House in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 11, 2010.
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is pressing forward with a plan to expand U.S. relations with Syria and enlist Damascus in the Middle East peace effort, despite alarm in Washington and abroad over charges that Syria is providing potent new weapons to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Obama last year outlined plans to elevate ties to Syria as part of an effort to improve U.S. standing in the Arab world and advance Israeli-Palestinian talks. High-level contacts were severed in 2005, when the Bush administration recalled its ambassador amid charges that Syria was involved in the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister.
Trying to rebuild U.S.-Syrian contacts, a series of Obama administration officials have traveled to Damascus over the past year. Officials also have taken other steps toward closer engagement this year, including canceling a warning to Americans about traveling to Syria.

In February, the administration nominated career diplomat Robert Ford as the new U.S. ambassador. Ford’s nomination was approved by a Senate committee last week, but Republicans have raised questions about Syria’s actions as the nomination reaches the full Senate.
The White House is hoping that Ford will win Senate approval within days, and Senate Democratic leaders said Friday they are working with Republicans on an agreement that would let senators vote on the nomination.

But lawmakers expressed renewed concern after Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week accused the Syrians of sending Scud missiles to Hezbollah, a move that would violate a UN resolution ending the 2006 Israeli war against the militant group in Lebanon.

Syria denied sending the missiles, but U.S. officials joined the Israelis in voicing concern, warning that any Syrian arms transfers, by inviting Israeli retaliation, could put Lebanon at risk.

Scud missiles became best known after they were used by Saddam Hussein against Israel during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Scud is considered an inaccurate missile and was first fielded in the 1950s. Yet its range of several hundred miles means that if launched from southern Lebanon, it could strike even targets in southern Israel.

David Schenker, a former Pentagon advisor at the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, said that despite Israel’s alarm, the Scuds would not greatly expand Hezbollah’s capabilities. The militant group already has a missile, the Iranian built Fatah 110, with superior capabilities, he said.

The Fatah 110 can be launched more quickly and is more accurate, he said. The impact of adding the Scud, he said, “is mostly psychological.”
Administration officials argue that, whatever their misgivings about the regime of Bashar Assad, the United States is better off if it has an ambassador in Damascus to directly provide administration views.

“Diplomacy is not a gift,” a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity. “We don’t accept the view that it’s better to be absent, so we can feel better about not telling them off.”

With Israel-Palestinian talks near a standstill, the Obama administration has been eyeing talks with Damascus as a possible route toward its plans for a comprehensive Mideast peace deal. Officials hope that, with sufficient inducements, they also might be able to unravel Damascus’ entanglement with Iran.

At his confirmation hearing last month, Ford vowed “unfiltered, straight talk” to Assad’s government.

But Senate Republicans have been unhappy over what they see as inadequate attention on the part of the Obama administration to Syria’s arms proliferation.

Last month, 13 Republican senators wrote Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, asserting that the State Department has not been meeting its congressionally mandated responsibility to provide reports every six months on illegal arms transfers by Syria, North Korea and Iran.
The Republicans’ letter warned that “it would be prudent” to provide the information before asking the Senate to confirm Ford’s nomination.

In a second letter to Clinton, eight senators last month said that “engagement for engagement’s sake is not productive.”

“The Syrian government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights violations and supporters of terrorism,” they wrote, urging “utmost caution” in U.S. overtures.

April 19th, 2010, 12:22 am


Yossi said:

The saddest thing about the statelessness of the 300,000 stateless Kurds is that they will not be able to vote in the next presidential elections. (ha ha ha)

April 19th, 2010, 3:14 am


offended said:

In a second letter to Clinton, eight senators last month said that “engagement for engagement’s sake is not productive.”

“The Syrian government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights violations and supporters of terrorism,” they wrote, urging “utmost caution” in U.S. overtures.

A buck gets ten those are among the senators who wrote the white house complaining about Obama’s (sob-sob) tough stand on Israel.

April 19th, 2010, 3:26 am


Shai said:

“… it appeared that the support he expressed in his speech at Bar-Ilan University for a solution of two states for two peoples reflected recognition of the fact that Israel’s independence will not be complete until the Palestinians receive their own independent state.”

Today Israel “celebrates” our Remembrance Day. Today we remember the 22,684 soldiers that have died in Israel’s campaigns over the past 62 years.

And this year too, a crazy thought runs through my mind – is it possible many of them died in vain? Is it possible Israel missed and keeps missing opportunities to end this growing number of dead? Is it possible WE aren’t doing enough?

To exhibit unity nowadays means to agree with the majority. So to feel “united”, I have to feel proud not only of those 22,684 soldiers, but especially of the country and leaderships that sent them. I have to not only be proud of those governments that made the decisions and indecisions that they did, I have to also agree with them. If I disagree with them, I’m at best less-patriotic or, at worst, not-patriotic. I’m not contributing to our “sense of unity”, to the thin fiber that still holds us together.

Today, someone like Akiva Eldar is considered an Extremist. His views aren’t shared by the overwhelming majority of Israelis and “pro-Israeli” supporters worldwide. As such, his views are swiftly disregarded. After all, why consider an extremist-view? It’s, by definition, extreme. Not realistic.

And then the same question pops in my mind – who should we listen to, when we think of the future? So-called “realistic” people, who agree with the majority? Who represent the majority? Or so-called “unrealistic” people, brave and courageous enough to be called Extreme, who explore realms far distant to most, especially moral and self-introspective ones?

What is it that makes Bill Gates and Steve Jobs succeed, in ways most others do not? What do Warren Buffett and George Soros do, that other do not? Well, for one, they do not follow the majority. They independently form their own analyses and strategies. They do not follow others, they lead. They do not consider what the majority “want to hear”. They sound their own views, irrespective of whether most agree, or not. And, year-after-year, decade-after-decade, they win.

When will we stop searching for the majority? When will finally feel comfortable enough to NOT feel comfortable on Remembrance Day? To feel sadness, but also anger. To mourn, but to also point a finger, and demand change. So that we don’t have to keep mourning. So that Mourning isn’t a part of what makes us feel united. So that our future is determined less by our pain, and more by our determination to end it? So that our Independence will finally come not at the EXPENSE of another people, but rather ALONGSIDE it!

April 19th, 2010, 7:24 am


norman said:


No , The sadist thing is that the Israeli Christians and Muslims are able to vote in the Israeli election , HA HA HA ,

April 19th, 2010, 11:30 am


Ghat Albird said:


In a second letter to Clinton, eight senators last month said that “engagement for engagement’s sake is not productive.”

“The Syrian government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of human rights violations and supporters of terrorism,” they wrote, urging “utmost caution” in U.S. overtures.

A buck gets ten those are among the senators who wrote the white house complaining about Obama’s (sob-sob) tough stand on Israel.

GMA on ABC this morning had an extensive interview with Mr. Nethanyahu. My mentioning is lead for me to ask whether its appropriate say for the Syrian Ambassador to request an equal amount of time by ABC News to give Syria’s side so to speak.

One of the assertions tha no one has made for public viewing and understanding is asking the question:- When was the last time Syria attacked and/or bombed Israel?

And follow it up with: “given the present modus operandi it seems that the American Government does not have the final say on America’s policies in the Middle East.” And lastly seeing that Israel has attacked us several times, you put youself in our place would you not try and defend your country”?

As a “non dual” citizen its beyond being just embarassed to read on several websites references to the White House as a ” Whore House”.

April 19th, 2010, 1:21 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Shai, so eloquently said, indeed! Your leadership and patriotism are shining examples of how leaders and people alike must challenge conventional wisdom and regressive doctrines to enable the birth of a new Middle East.

The news roundup above underscores an important trend that I am hoping the leadership in Damascus is closely monitoring and smartly leveraging. The US administration and policies towards peace in the Middle East are genuine and pragmatic – but they will not succeed without Syria’s help.

It’s time for Syria to embark on a public relation campaign – aligning its objectives for peace and security in the region with those articulated by the Obama administration. It’s more important now than ever for Syria to restore its image of a country that is transforming itself into a modern state. Although Syria has a long road ahead of it, Syria today is by far a different one from the one just 10 years ago.

Not too many people in the US, including those in Congress, know the basic facts of Syria’s transformation. Syria today is not an aggressive state. It harbors no evil intentions against anyone – Israel included. Its leadership is young and open-minded while recovering from the remnants of 30 years of mismanagement and inefficiencies. Its economy is expanding. There are private schools, private universities, private radio stations, private banks, and private websites. More private enterprises are employing Syrians with advanced degrees in engineering and management than at any time since Syrian independence.

Syrian arts from poetry to painting are literally bursting with talents. Galleries showcasing the work of Syrian artists are everywhere. Syrian TV and movie productions are so busy under heavy demands that they are now producing at over capacity.

Today, someone up there on the food chain in Syria is quietly transforming every public Syrian institution into a modern 21st century one with the help of leading global experts and organizations. From education to health care to tourism to social services – no institution will be left untouched. This is happening behind the scenes, slowly but aggressively.

Syria today needs to live in peace more than ever and it will demonstrate that while the West was struggling with religious freedom, protection of minorities, and passing laws of “affirmative action”, Syria’s definition and practice of secularism has been a permanent part of its fabric. And as America reminisces with its uni-colored, white Anglo-Saxon founding fathers, modern Syria was born on shoulders of Sultan Al Atrash (Druze), Fares Al Khoury (Christian), Saleh Al-Ali (Alawite), Ibrahim Hanano (Kurd), and Hashem Atassi (Sunni) to name just a few.

As more and more people in the US and in Israel begin to understand the Syrian people for what they are, the better chances we have to fulfill the wish for a lasting peace in the Middle East. The time is now for Syria to demonstrate its commitment to peace and its leadership in the Middle East.

April 19th, 2010, 3:24 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Shai,

I never questioned your (and the political side you’re a part of), patriotism !!
On the contrary. I really believe you are an Israeli patriot, and you care for the country Just the SAME as I do. We differ on the way, not on the outcome, which is secured and prosperous Israel, living in peace with it’s neighbors in the ME. We differ only on the way to reach this goal. You call me an arrogant fascist, and I call you suicidal self-hater, but one day we can find ourselves serving together in the ‘Miluim’, if Israel is attacked.

I do question Yossi’s patriotism, because if I understand it correctly, he’s chosen not to live here because of his views. I don’t believe in trying to influence while absent. I do believe in influencing through sharing and participating. Or shut up.

April 19th, 2010, 3:46 pm


jad said:

Prince of Patriotism!?
“I do question Yossi’s patriotism, because if I understand it correctly, he’s chosen not to live here because of his views. I don’t believe in trying to influence while absent. I do believe in influencing through sharing and participating. Or shut up.”
I didn’t know if I was reading a comment by an ‘ugly faced Arab’R (Registered by AITA aka you) ‘undemocratic’ ‘peace hater’ ‘Terrorist’ or by a’good looking’ ‘democratic’ ‘peace loving’ Israeli.
Does anybody needs yours or your ilk approval to be called patriotic or not?? How is patriotism measured and what machine did you use to judge Yossi?
You Israelis are going the opposite direction of developing…Good luck!

April 19th, 2010, 4:16 pm


Yossi said:


I appreciate your friendship and your desire to protect me, but please, no need to defend me. I never really wished to excel in “patriotism”. Besides, Amir has more than a grain of truth in his criticism of me, for if I were more committed to Israel, I would have returned and fought my battle there, like Shai and Alon Liel. Alas, I’m a middle-class family person, not a martyr, and patriotism is not my highest priority. If I were to embellish my motives, I could say that I’m a political exile, but in reality the democracy in Israel has yet to deteriorate that much that even people on the extreme left will have to flee for their safety. So (unlike in Syria) that doesn’t really apply to Israel (yet). However, I do know that if I returned to Israel my political views could very perceptibly affect the financial and social well being of my family. I am also unwilling to sacrifice my family’s safety on the altar of Amir’s messianic policy. So for these reasons, and other unrelated reasons, I don’t return to Israel.

April 19th, 2010, 4:49 pm


offended said:

Ghat Al Bird,

The US political system is the most hypocritical when it comes to the Arab/Israeli conflict. Israel continuous violations of human rights (its war crimes, apartheid laws..etc..) are considered cute, while Syria is the most evil nation on earth on comparison.


April 19th, 2010, 5:15 pm


Shai said:


Thank you for those wise words. They should be echoed in the U.S., in Syria, and in Israel.


You do not need to explain your reasons for not living in Israel right now. I know your love for the country, I know how much you care about it, and I know that you do more abroad for Israel than most do inside it.

I’m not a great fan of the callous division of the world into “patriots” and “non-patriots” (an apparent favorite of the Neocons), but you’re one of the last people I’d call unpatriotic.

Unlike some buffoons who later become deputy Foreign ministers, you are a true ambassador of Israel. Israel would only gain, if it could have many more like you, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

April 19th, 2010, 8:00 pm


jad said:

The issue is not you, me, or anybody, the issue is with the language used by people from your side and from my side to some of us who don’t agree with the policy of our government or who choose to go abroad to improve their skills to become better professionals and the ready answer is always the same a ‘treater’ ‘unpatriotic’ ‘criminal’ ‘bathi’ ‘leftist’…Etc..
This language is very specific to our region, and my comment were to show that even in Israel where you guys keep promoting yourself as very democratic, very ‘fair’ and very ‘good’ you are using the same language we use.
I personally think that Israel already lost the real generation of smart politicians and what you left with is nothing but bunch of immigrant ‘buffoons’ and ‘opportunists’who brought their origin countries political problems with them and who only care about how to stay in power as long as they could…not so different from any 4th world country.

April 19th, 2010, 8:19 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Yossi
Do not underestimate the value of your contributions. You know well that the battle in Israel is probably less difficult to fight than the one we all fight here in the US so that no one continues to support radical fundamentalists in Israel, or in Afghanistan (in the 80s and 90s). It always backfires.

I agree with Shai, just a couple of days ago, I myself was accused being “seemingly enlightened syrian” who is also an apologist for my enemy. At least Amir is not calling you a traitor.

Dear—ok here you go,-est Jad,
Of course there is a machine for measuring patriotism, it is called DOGMA.

On that note, the most lovely bumper-sticker I read in a long time said

My Karma beats your Dogma. I like it and remember it anytime I am called names or get questioned because I am tired of empty slogans of blood, death, and war and because I refuse to accept that the solution is wiping one side or the other of the face of the earth.

So there seems to be an emerging club of “seemingly enlightened unpatriotic self hating Semite leftist traitors”. What a Karma. The problem is that some amongst us do not recognize that the land is tired, the people are tired, and pretty soon, humanity will become tired of us all, and then, we have no one but ourselves to blame.


modern Syria was born on shoulders of Sultan Al Atrash (Druze), Fares Al Khoury (Christian), Saleh Al-Ali (Alawite), Ibrahim Hanano (Kurd), and Hashem Atassi (Sunni) to name just a few.

So simple and eloquent. Thank you. I was just reading the incident at the UN between Fares Al Khoury and the French Ambassador at the onset of the UN session that guaranteed Syria’s independence. What A Giant, who lived amongst Giants (sounds biblical ….) but it is true.

I do hope that the transformation you described so well will extend very soon to the most important and significant reform………..

April 19th, 2010, 10:48 pm


Yossi said:

Just to illustrate the current mood in Israel, this is a new song by the (otherwise excellent) singer Amir Benyun (ya3ni Bin 3ayun). Here’s a clip that was created by the proto-fascist and rapidly-growing movement Im Tirtzu to accompany the song:

Here’s my translation:


I Am Your Brother
By Amir Benyun

I protect your identity
I defend your children
I sacrifice myself for your family
And you spit in my face

After they haven’t succeeded in killing me from the outside
You come and kill me from the inside
I haven’t seen my mother for a month
Not my son, not my daughter, not my wife

I always charge ahead
With my back towards you
While you sharpen the knife
More than anything else, this thought scorches my soul

And you, how come you still don’t understand
I am your brother, you are an enemy
You hate me, I love
When I cry
You laugh behind my back

You kill me
And you’re my brother
And you’re my brother

I am future
You are past
And the present is broken between the two us

I am hungry for your sake, you glut and drink
When my throat is parched you drink liquor
My mouth is sealed always for your safety
But you, you hand me over to foreigners

I am your brother, you are enemy
You hate me, but I love
When I cry
You always laugh behind my back

You kill me
And you’re my brother
And you’re my brother

[This section is taken from a standard prayer for the soldiers of the IDF]
He who has blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jaboc
He will [also] bless the soldiers if the IDF
Who stand in guard for the protection of our country and the cities of our god
From Lebanon till the desert of Egypt
And from the Great Sea till the Arava and anywhere: land, air and sea.

I am your brother, you are enemy
You hate me but I love
When I cry
You always laugh behind my back

You kill me
And you’re my brother
And you’re my brother

[Another standard prayer section]
For the Lord God walks with you
To fight for you with your enemies, to redeem you and we shall say Amen.


Then, Im Tirtzu also circulated an alternative prayer for memorial day (yesterday) in thousands of synagogues. It has the following addition (my translation)

Let the People of Israel remember those from within, A flesh from their flesh, Who have participated in law suits against the people’s officers and soldiers. Those who at the time of the battle for the protection of the People of Israel stood in demonstrations and called the people’s soldiers war criminals. Let the people remember those who in the darkness have joined the worst of Israel’s enemies to harm the scared of sacred who have martyred their souls for the people.


It’s open season. I don’t know where it’s going to stop.

April 20th, 2010, 1:10 am


Yossi said:

Jad, OTW and Shai,

Measuring loyalty is very tricky. Is it loyalty to a regime, or to a people, or to immutable values? What would being a loyal German in the 30’s entail? What would a loyal German do in WWII? Or a loyal Afrikaner in the 70’s? Loyalty to a regime is never something to take too seriously. Most regimes are corrupt.

What about loyalty to the people? Israelis are now in very difficult times, perhaps the most difficult ever. You can justifiably say that they brought this upon themselves, but that doesn’t change the fact. So in this rough time, people have to make a choice: you can either close the ranks and skimp on your commitment to universal values (e.g. the war crimes in Gaza) or you can stick to your values and potentially endanger the striking majority of Israelis in the policy framework which they have chosen for themselves. Think about this as the dilemma that you’d have when you’re a reluctant member of a mob family, it’s very similar. Be loyal to the family (however misguided it is) or to the law?

Given that these are very difficult times for Israel, and given the fact that I will not directly experience the consequences of what I’m preaching for, I find it difficult to justify preaching *as an Israeli*. I will not say “as an Israeli I believe it will be for the good of my country that such as such …”. I am however entitled to my opinion about Israel, as a former citizen and resident who has served this country in the past, as a liberal human being, as a citizen of the US, as a Jew (with both Mideastern and European roots) and as somebody who has relatives, property and financial interests in Israel. Therefore, according to these principles, you will have noticed, that I have for a while now been talking about “the Israelis” in third person.

A couple of weeks ago I said the following words in the presence of an officer for the government of the United States, and I meant every word of it:

“I hereby declare, on oath,

that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;

that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

So, I’d say that talking about me as a patriotic Israeli as a moot point. Whatever “contributions” I have to make, they are not made in that capacity. Sorry, one less Israeli good-guy for you to believe in…

April 20th, 2010, 2:20 am


Ford Prefect said:

Very moving and humble indeed. Thanks for sharing and thanks for translating such a beautiful song and melody.

No one needs to die and what Israel is doing today is incompatible with Jewish values and tradition. In fact, it is incompatible with anything decent or rational. I am not exempting any murderous or evil acts by Arabs either.

Israelis are being sold a defective bill of goods by their leaders and some armchair ideologues in Washington who are salivating for wars and confrontation.

And you are right, it is open season and no one knows when it’s going to stop. May the Heavens help us out.

Thanks again for sharing such a moving song!

April 20th, 2010, 2:24 am


norman said:


That was very strong , I guess now you are like all of us or most of us American Semitics running away from the crazies that keep fighting with no goals ,

April 20th, 2010, 2:32 am


norman said:

How to Bring Syria to the Negotiating Table
Economic and humanitarian activities are creating cracks in the great wall between Israel and Syria and hasten the day when real negotiations for peace will be underway, says Ayoob Kara.

JERUSALEM – It is a well-known fact that Israel’s calmest border is its border with Syria. However, this calm can only be considered a tense ceasefire. It is clearly in the interest of Israel and the international community to strive for a positive peace agreement between Israel and Syria. Lately Syria has begun to show signs that it wants to strengthen its ties with the West. We must do what we can to strengthen this trend.

The importance of these developments for the region is crucial. One may assume that a Syria which is favourable towards peace and normalisation with Israel would also support broader efforts for regional stability.

Regional peace is a sacred goal for me and since I have been appointed Deputy Minister for Regional Development I have decided to advance the issue of peace with Syria. As there are no official channels of communication between the two countries and relations are tense, a different and creative approach had to be chosen—the advancement of common economic and humanitarian interests.

Following a series of meetings with top political and security officials in Israel, the Red Cross and the United Nations, I was able to facilitate the opening of the Kunetra border crossing in the north, not only for the transport of apples and exchanges of students but also for humanitarian purposes. This is an important and unprecedented development and this year a record number of people, 600 in total, crossed the border into Syria, including, for the first time, Druze women who had previously left their families in Syria to marry Druze men from the Golan and had not seen their families in many years.

The stories are extremely moving. For example, Zina Halabi from the Druze village Masada in the Golan who has not seen her family for 30 years, travelled to Syria to visit them. Najua Amashe from Bukata, also in the Golan, who lost practically every member of her family in Syria and is also a widow, crossed the border to visit her family’s graves. Rima Hasson from Bukata, whom I had assisted 14 years ago in coming as a bride to Israel, returned to Syria to care for her sick father. These are just three stories out of hundreds of people who crossed the border and in so doing became, in essence, Israeli ambassadors to Syria. In their encounters with Syrians they talk about the efforts undertaken to make their visit possible, about the treatment they receive as citizens of the state and thus they help remove the threatening mask from the “Zionist enemy”.

The economic dimension is equally important as it increases the incentives for both Syria and Israel to join the negotiation table. In the last few years tons of apples have been crossing the border and this year alone 10,000 tons of apples were transported into Syria and on to other Arab countries. It is my intention to increase exports by—among other things—importing water from Syria. This initiative was widely publicised two months ago when it was disclosed that there is a pipe carrying water from the Spring of El Tapuha in Syria to the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan. In western Syria there are significant water reserves and in the near future a delegation from the Golan Heights is scheduled to travel there to conduct negotiations about importing water. These waters will be used for agriculture and are expected to increase the production of apples for export tenfold, thereby creating a cyclical and mutually beneficial process.

Such economic and humanitarian activities are creating cracks in the great wall between Israel and Syria and hasten the day when real negotiations for peace will be underway.

Ayoob Kara is Israeli Deputy Minister for Regional Development. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews

April 20th, 2010, 11:02 am


Husam said:


Your truthfulness, and willingness to share with us your inner thoughts and feelings is a true reflection of your genuine soul. It also takes some “Cohones” (B*LZ) to speak out. Hats off.


The local authorities, the people of the region are never ever the proplem. Even animosity between all adversaries are ironed out with human-like stories sooner or later.

The hardliner, greedy, tunnel-visioned, power-thirsty people in the upper chairs are the culprits (zionist & other).

Thank you for sharing with us the human element of the region for a change.

April 20th, 2010, 1:22 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Yossi’s “War Crimes” Update

So, I’d say that talking about me as a patriotic Israeli as a moot point.


Now that you’re a full-fledged American citizen (welcome to the fold;), will you be discussing American “war crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan (where Americans killed orders of magnitude more innocent civilians than Israelis) or will you just be focusing on Israeli “war crimes in Gaza”?

April 20th, 2010, 1:46 pm


Akbar Palace said:

It’s Always Israel’s Fault NewZ

US State Dept. summons senior Syrian diplomat

April 20th, 2010, 2:12 pm


Yossi said:

Dear Ford Prefect, Norman and Husam,

Thank you for your kind words. I always know that honest and courageous steps are well received in this forum. Yup, the crazies are raging. It looks like there’ll be another war, before there will be peace.

April 20th, 2010, 2:18 pm


Yossi said:


Yes, it makes sense, although I have a lot of learning to do on said topics.

I suppose you on the other hand will never condemn any criminal action carried out in your name by your country’s government, except when it helps paint the actions of another country you hold allegiance to (i.e., Israel) in brighter hues.

April 20th, 2010, 5:14 pm


Akbar Palace said:

I suppose you on the other hand will never condemn any criminal action carried out in your name by your country’s government, except when it helps paint the actions of another country you hold allegiance to (i.e., Israel) in brighter hues.


I hold no “allegiance” to the State of Israel. They owe me nothing and I owe them nothing. I only support the State of Israel as the homeland of almost half of my people. You can think of this as the support Italy would have from an Italian-American, or Palestine might have from an Arab-American.

Considering the load of criticism Israel gets on this website, I don’t see where my criticism of Israel would add anything new to the discussion except to make the anti-Zionists and the Israel-haters here feel better.

Nevertheless, when you get a chance, please let me know which website you’ll be posting your criticism of American “war crimes”.

April 20th, 2010, 5:28 pm


Yossi said:


I guess you as a veteran American of shady moral character would not be of much use in helping me figure out where you go to voice your concerns when criminal acts are carried on your behalf?

April 21st, 2010, 5:15 am


Hassan said:


Regarding your post 28, it baffles me that at a time of major concerns about Syria’s proliferation activity and nuclear program all that is discussed on this blog is Israel. After all, isn’t this Syria Comment? If the dictators ever wish to prevent a reasonable discussion about their behavior, they seem to have a the perfect distraction.

April 21st, 2010, 5:58 am


Akbar Palace said:

it baffles me that at a time of major concerns about Syria’s proliferation activity and nuclear program all that is discussed on this blog is Israel. After all, isn’t this Syria Comment?


This thread is prefaced with a picture of Obama sitting with BB as well as links to articles dealing with Israel. That was not my doing.

Moreover, of the 33 posts prior to this one, all but about 3 contain the word “Israel” or “Zionist” (30), any only 3 of these posts were mine.

But I’m not surprised. Once in a while the threads here deal with inter-Syrian issues, but my experience is that most posters here are more likely to talk about the “crimes” of Israel than the crimes of their own people.

Go figure.

As they say, Jews are News;)

I guess you as a veteran American of shady moral character would not be of much use in helping me figure out where you go to voice your concerns when criminal acts are carried on your behalf?


As a “veteran American of shady moral character”, I would be happy to help you figure out where to voice your concerns when “criminal acts carried on my behalf (and on YOUR behalf, now that you are a full-fledged American citizen).

The police, or Federal Court, or The American Civil Liberties Union as a start.

Apparently you found Syria Comment as a place to voice your concerns about your ex-motherland Israel. You mean you can’t find a place to voice your concerns about the atrocious actions of the US government??

Try “Dailykos” or “Iraqi Body Count”.

April 21st, 2010, 11:51 am


Ghat Albird said:

To all those known and unknown “hasbaras”.

Not to worry. Your Moldavian born foreign misnister and one time bar bouncer and accused of being at one time a bordello opertor has finally threatened your favorite US President.

– In a veiled warning to President Barack Obama, Israel’s foreign minister said that any move to impose a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians would lead to greater conflict.

“Any attempt to force a solution on the parties without establishing the foundation of mutual trust will only deepen the conflict,” Avigdor Lieberman is quoted as saying to an assembled group marking Israel’s Independence Day.

Lieberman, was quoted as also saying, “that before negotiating a final settlement of the 62-year-old conflict, it would be necessary first to establish “a new reality” in which Israel enjoys security, the Palestinians greater prosperity and both sides more stability.

He also told the assembled guests, ” that Israel would never give up its control of all of Jerusalem.”

April 21st, 2010, 1:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Since when is a university “student club” (Shablul) a bordello? Also, you didn’t mention the degree he earned at the Hebrew University:

BA in International Relations and Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

April 21st, 2010, 2:23 pm


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