News Round Up (23 March 2008) - Syria Comment

News Round Up (23 March 2008)

Even if few presidents show up at the Arab summit in Damascus, the hoteliers will consider the event a success.

More Than 5,000 Rooms Booked for Summit in Syria, Al-Hayat Says
By Massoud A. Derhally

March 23 (Bloomberg) — More than 5000 hotel rooms have been reserved for an Arab summit in Syria this month, causing prices to rise as much as 80 percent, Al-Hayat reported.

Of the total rooms reserved, about 1,500 have been booked at five-star hotels, the Saudi-owned newspaper reported. The Moroccan delegation to the summit, which will take place March 29-30, asked for 250 rooms. Libya initially asked for 700 rooms, then reduced the number to 200, in addition to reserving 200 luxury cars. Syria will close Damascus International Airport to all commercial flights March 28-30. About 850 journalists are covering the summit.

Three Kurds shot dead in northern Syria: Nayrouz turned bloody again this year. Almost every year tensions between Syrian state security and Kurds in the northeast of Syria boil over during the Nayrouz holiday. Nayrouz has taken on "national" significance for Kurds, who are widely discriminated against in the northeast of the country, where they predominate. Syrian authorities try to discourage all national sentiment amongst Kurds, banning the use of Kurdish language in print and in schools. The state fears that in giving more freedom to Kurds of the region they will demand to be annexed to Iraqi Kurdistan. Syria has resisted reforming its notoriously outdated citizenship law for fear of granting full national rights to the some 300,000 Kurds who have been denied citizenship since the infamous census under President Qudsi of 1962.. Most Syrian Kurds insist that Kurdish secessionist sentiment is fanned by the pervasive discrimination of the state. If Kurds were given full rights and freedoms, they claim, the call for the creation of a greater Kurdistan would not spread. The Syrian authorities do not buy this argument. Most Syrian Arabs are deaf to the Kurdish claim that Arab nationalism is a form of racism in Syria because it assumes that Syrian Kurds will embrace Arabism, happily chant Arab nationalist slogans during their schooling, and salute Arab symbols rather than Syrian symbols during their national military service. Kurds insist that Syrians should jettison their Arabism in favor of a more inclusive Syrianism. At the same time, many Kurds insist that they should be allowed to celebrate their own Kurdish national identity. 

National anxieties and identity politics which have become so vexed in the region often find their flash point in Nayrouz. The US invasion of Iraq and support for  quasi-Kurdish independence there has increased the disatisfaction of Syria's Kurds. No longer can Syria claim to treat its Kurds better than neighboring states do. In 2004, tensions boiled over in what has become known as a Kurdish intifada. Ever since, Syrian security in the northeast has been tighter than ever.

"Syria: Investigate Killing of Kurds," by Human Rights Watch

Hold Accountable Those Responsible for Unlawful Killings

(New York, March 24, 2008) – Syrian authorities should seek an independent investigation into the March 20 shootings by security forces that left three Kurds dead and at least five wounded at a New Year’s celebration, Human Rights Watch said today. The circumstances of the shootings raise concerns that state security forces used unnecessary lethal force in violation of international law.

On March 20 at about 7:00 p.m., Syrian internal security forces opened fire on Kurds celebrating the New Year (“Nowruz”) in the largely Kurdish town of Qamishli in northeastern Syria, eyewitnesses told Human Rights Watch. The shots killed Muhammad Yahya Khalil and Muhammad Zaki Ramadan immediately. A third man, Muhammad Mahmud Hussein, died later from his wounds. All three were between 18 and 25 years old. Those wounded include Muhieldin Hajj Jamil `Issa, Karam Ibrahim Yusif, Muhammad Kheir Khalaf `Issa, Riad Yussef Sheikhi, and Khalil Sulayman Hussein.

Participants in this year’s festivities told Human Rights Watch that about 200 people gathered around 6:30 p.m. on a road in the western part of Qamishli. They lit candles on the side of the road and a bonfire in the middle, around which some performed a Kurdish traditional dance. “This was a celebration of Nowruz, not a political demonstration,” one of the participants told Human Rights Watch.

Firefighters appeared on the scene to extinguish the bonfire while police and intelligence officers fired teargas canisters and live ammunition in the air to disperse the crowds. Two participants told Human Rights Watch that when the celebrants failed to disperse, individuals wearing civilian clothes and driving in a white pick-up truck of the type usually used by intelligence officials fired their assault rifles into the crowd. “Without any warning, they started firing to the ground and suddenly bullets started flying indiscriminately,” an eyewitness told Human Rights Watch.

It is unclear what provoked the security forces to fire into the crowd. According to three participants in the celebrations, none of the Kurds were armed or resorted to violence. Reuters reported that one resident in Qamishli told them that some “youths burned tires and threw stones at the riot police,” but Human Rights Watch was unable to confirm this claim.

“Syrian officials have to justify why security forces opened fire at a Kurdish celebration,” said Joe Stork, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Those responsible for using unnecessary lethal force should be brought to justice.”….

Barzani slams Syria's killing 3 Kurds

Syria raises the price of petrol for the second time in 6 months. (Arabic)

Feltman: Washington Pursues Independent Policy on Lebanon

Deputy assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was quoted Saturday as saying Washington has for the first time ever adopted an independent policy on Lebanon that would persist irrespective of who wins the forthcoming presidential elections. Feltman, who was ambassador to Lebanon for over three years, said such a policy is based on support by both the Republican and Democratic parties for Lebanon as a cornerstone in the foreign policy of the United States. He explained that Washington's stand on Lebanon is based on the nation's "democracy and sovereignty" in contrast with Israel's stand, which is based on a security concept. He accused Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun of carrying out a "Syrian agenda." Hizbullah, according to Feltman, maintains its weapons "in line with a regional Syrian-Iranian agenda."

Peres: Israel will not cede Golan Heights for Syria-controlled Lebanon (Ynetnews.com)

Peres told Cheney that "Israel will never agree to cede the Golan Heights in exchange for an Iranian-Syrian controlled Lebanon; and peace talks with Syria cannot begin while it keeps supplying Lebanon with weapons.

Standing Tall
Netanyahu: If we leave Jerusalem, Iran and Hamas will take control  / Roni Sofer
Opposition leader meets with US Vice President Cheney, two discuss need to remove Iranian threat before Islamic republic obtains nuclear bomb. Following meeting, Netanyahu tells Ynet, 'We must prevent Iran from building their main bases in the region, and particularly in Jerusalem'
Full story

"Mass amounts of Iranian-bought weapons are making their way to Hizbullah everyday via Syria," Peres explained, "thus making it an Iranian satellite trying to take over Lebanon – just like Hamas has taken over Gaza," added Peres.

Vice President Cheney reiterated the US' sentiments on the matter, saying the US "is very concerned about the Syrians providing Hizbullah with weapons… it appears like (Syrian) President Bashar Assad is not interested in any kind of negotiation."

As for the Iranian threat, Peres told Cheney a US-led international move to stop Iran from developing new long-range missiles must be put in motion.

"Iran is investing large amount of money in developing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warhead – right under the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) nose.

"These missiles are living proof that Iran's nuclear developments have nothing to do with civilian purposes, but are rather aimed at mass destruction."

When discussing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Cheney stressed that the US was complete committed to it, and that the American administration is willing to lend whatever assistance necessary to push the negotiations further. US President George W. Bush, he added, "can't wait to visit Israel again and celebrate its 60th anniversary."

In a bold defense of Israel, Vice President Dick Cheney has said the U.S. will never pressure the Jewish state to take steps that would jeopardize its security and vowed not to ignore "the darkening shadows" of the situation in Lebanon. (Naharnet)

Russian FM's Mideast peace push encounters Israeli skepticism

With friends like these
By Gideon Levy
HAARETZ, 23/03/2008

The amount of support being shown for Israel these days is almost embarrassing. The parade of highly-placed foreign guests and the warm reception received by Israeli statesmen abroad have not been seen for quite some time. Who hasn't come to visit lately? From the German chancellor to the leading frontrunner for the American presidency. And the secretary-general of the United Nations is on his way. A visit to Israel has become de rigueur for foreign pols. If you haven't been here, you're nowhere.

The visitors are taken, of course, to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Western Wall and now to Sderot as well – the new national pilgrimage site. A few also pay a perfunctory visit to Ramallah; no one goes to the Gaza Strip, and they all have nothing but praise for Israel. Not a word of criticism on the occupation, on Israel's violent operations in the territories, on the siege and the starving – with the exception of a few vague remarks on the need for a solution. Israel squeezes the Sderot "informational" lemon for all it's worth.

The mix of Sderot and the Holocaust, international Islamophobia and Hamas rule in Gaza do the trick. Israel hasn't scored this kind of foreign-policy success since the days of the Oslo Accords. To judge by the declarations of our foreign guests and our hosts abroad, no other state in the world is more loved than we. A state that imposes a siege that is almost unprecedented in the world today in terms of its cruelty, that adopts an official policy of assassination, is embraced by the family of nations, if we are to judge by the words of the many statesmen who cross our doorstep.

It is, of course, pleasant to revel in this wave of support, but it is an illusion. Public opinion in most of the countries whose leaders are heaping all that praise upon us is not joining in. Israel remains a state without approval, sometimes even outcast and despised. The world sees images from Gaza on television – in comparison, Sderot looks like a resort – and it draws its own conclusions. The natural sense of justice that dictates support for the freedom struggles of oppressed people such as the Tibetan dictates natural support for the Palestinian struggle for liberation. The fact that it is a struggle between a Palestinian David and an Israeli Goliath only adds to the story. With the exception of the U.S., the world is indeed against us, apart from its statesmen. Therefore, we must not give in to the illusion: The current bout of official support for us is not genuine.

Also not genuine is the idea that blind, unconditional friendship is friendship. The support for Israel as a just enterprise that is extended by most of the West does not mean accepting all of its caprices. A true friend of Israel, one that is sincerely concerned for its fate, is only that friend who dares to express sharp criticism of its policy of occupation, which poses the most serious risk to its future, and who also takes practical to steps to end it. Most of the "friendly" statesmen do not understand this.

The stance of the European leaders is particularly perplexing. We're not speaking about the U.S., with its Jewish and Christian lobbies, but rather opinionated Europe; it, too, has lost its ability to act as an honest broker, the type that wields its influence to bring an end to the conflict that endangers it, too. We need Europe, the peace needs Europe, but official Europe covers its eyes and automatically falls in line with the U.S. and its blind support for Israel and its boycott of Gaza. Angela Merkel, who received such a royal reception here last week, did not bring up any controversial issue in her speech at the Knesset. And so, her "historic" speech turned into a hollow one.

The same behavior was displayed by her colleague in the European leadership, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during the visit to his country of President Shimon Peres. The Israeli flags waving along the Champs-Elysees and the much-talked-about Israeli booth at the Paris Book Fair could not hide the fact that many French citizens are pained by the occupation. By not speaking about the siege on Gaza, the starvation imposed on it and the killing of hundreds of its people, Europe's leaders are not meeting their political and moral obligations. Those who believe that only honest international intervention can bring an end to the occupation find themselves desperate and disappointed. Yes, Europe, precisely that continent that carries justifiable feelings of guilt about the Jewish Holocaust, should have found another way to come to Israel's aid. Saccharine visits and sweet speeches in fact express a deep disrespect for Israel – and for European public opinion.

This blind friendship enables Israel to do whatever it wants. The days have passed in which every mobile home erected in the territories and every targeted assassination were carefully considered out of fear of international criticism. That time no longer exists. Israel has a carte blanche to kill, destroy and settle. The U.S. long ago gave up the role of honest broker, and Europe is now following in its footsteps. How depressing: With friends like these, Israel almost doesn't need enemies.

Fatah-Jund al-Sham Fight it Out in Ein al-Hilweh, Casualties

Berri: Parliament Cannot Legislate:

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday reiterated that he would not call the house to legislate as long as Premier Fouad Saniora's government remained in office. Berri made the stand in a statement released by his press office.

"The absence of any legitimate (executive) authority prevents the convening of parliament in a law making capacity," he statement said.

U.S. Pushed Allies on Iraq, Diplomat Writes
Chilean Envoy to U.N. Recounts Threats of Retaliation in Run-Up to Invasion

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 23, 2008; Page A11

UNITED NATIONS — In the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration threatened trade reprisals against friendly countries who withheld their support, spied on its allies, and pressed for the recall of U.N. envoys that resisted U.S. pressure to endorse the war, according to an upcoming book by a top Chilean diplomat.

The rough-and-tumble diplomatic strategy has generated lasting "bitterness" and "deep mistrust" in Washington's relations with allies in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, Heraldo Mu¿oz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, writes in his book "A Solitary War: A Diplomat's Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons," set for publication next month.

"In the aftermath of the invasion, allies loyal to the United States were rejected, mocked and even punished" for their refusal to back a U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Saddam Hussein's government, Mu¿oz writes….

It also sought support from Chile on issues such as peacekeeping in Haiti and support for U.S. efforts to drive Syria out of Lebanon. The U.S.-Chilean free trade agreement, while delayed, was finally signed by then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick in June 2003.

Mu¿oz said that Rice, as secretary of state, called him to ask for help on a U.N. resolution that would press for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. The United States had secured eight of the nine votes required for adoption of a resolution in the Security Council. Mu¿oz had received instructions to abstain. "I talked to [Lagos], and he listened to my argument, and we gave them the ninth vote," he said. 

AIPAC: Yet another delay is expected in the trial of two former pro-Israel lobbyists. "It's now pretty clear that the government does not want to try this case," said Rosen's lawyer, Abbe Lowell. "They filed these charges without thinking them through, and there appears to be no one in government with enough authority or courage to admit they made a mistake."

Comments (92)


why-discuss said:

Maybe these uninterrupted visits to Israel are meant to boost Israel’s weakening position in the international public opinion after all the horrors it has done in Lebanon and Gaza and to give a legitimacy that Israel seems to be loosing?
Or is it a sign that Europe is more and more concerned about Israel’s actions and under the panache of an official visit, are privately warning Israel that their violent ways to retaliate on legitimate acts of intimidation and liberation of occupied lands by the palestinians cannot go on be unnoticed or presented as a valid defense method.

March 24th, 2008, 7:00 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Maybe these uninterrupted visits to Israel are meant to boost Israel’s weakening position in the international public opinion after all the horrors it has done in Lebanon and Gaza and to give a legitimacy that Israel seems to be loosing?

Why-Discuss,

Maybe. But I think it is Hamas, Hezbollah, and their supporters that are losing legitimacy. Just MHO.

In a bold defense of Israel, Vice President Dick Cheney has said the U.S. will never pressure the Jewish state to take steps that would jeopardize its security and vowed not to ignore “the darkening shadows” of the situation in Lebanon.

March 24th, 2008, 11:01 am

 

why-discuss said:

What Cheney says is nothing new, it has been repeated for years by all US presidents. Hezbollah and Hamas have growing support in most arab countries despite (or because) of the antagonistic attitude of the US and western countries.

March 24th, 2008, 12:12 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

This is something, unfortunately, that most in the West do not understand. They cannot fathom that their (truly) good intentions of bringing freedom and democracy to the world can bring about the exact opposite, if their ways aren’t measure and carried out carefully. Instead of asking the Arab moderates, what can we do to help, they ask Yale frat-boys who’ve never stepped foot outside of English-speaking nations…

March 24th, 2008, 12:35 pm

 

kingcrane jr said:

The only bits of news worth considering here is Gideon Levy’s (once again) lucid interpretation of the real facts. The rest (Feltman, Peres, Cheney, etc) is just mainstream media paying lip service to illegitimate rulers, entities, and proponents thereof. More particularly, Shimon Peres, the man who could not win a single general election for his previous party (Labor) and who actually lost a staggering 7 general elections should stick to inviting celebrities (Sharon Stone for example) rather than engaging into politics. In the French 4th Republic, de Gaulle used to say that the French President should stick to “INAUGURER LES CHRYSANTHEMES” and allow the governemnt to deal with the real issues.

March 24th, 2008, 12:53 pm

 

Naji said:

kingcrane jr has put it perfectly…!

Nassrallah is about to give a speech on the occasion of the Moughneyih 40-day anniversary.

March 24th, 2008, 1:47 pm

 

Shai said:

I just heard that Saudi Arabia will not be represented by Abdullah in Damascus. This is not a good sign for things to come…

March 24th, 2008, 2:13 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

The neocon won.

March 24th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Norman,

Not while you and I are still here…

March 24th, 2008, 2:32 pm

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

KSA will have the lowest ever representation in an AL summit. with its permenant representitive in the Arab League

March 24th, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

CWW said:

Levy is off his rocker. Israel, like any country with a strong leftist tradition has a lot of these types. Thankfully for the security of their country and the stability of the region they haven’t done too much damage.

You could switch the name in the by-line with Abdel Rantisi and think someone has risen from the dead.

March 24th, 2008, 2:48 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

CWW,
Levy’s logic like Shai’s suffers from severe internal inconsistencies. First he tells Israelis that because of their actions they will be shunned, but when the reverse happens, instead of admitting he was wrong he attacks the Europeans.

The most important point though is that Levy gets to speak his mind and that there is freedom of speech in Israel. By having his stupid ramblings be published in an Israeli paper he proves all the time how democratic Israel is. Go Levy!

March 24th, 2008, 3:11 pm

 

In Damascus said:

(censored)

March 24th, 2008, 3:14 pm

 

CWW said:

AIG,

Yes, that is a bit of a contradiction. He may have the ideologically driven view that is typical of the hardcore (often European) left and rejectionists of Israel today: Israel is a den iniquity and the Palestinian suicide bomber is merely a product of his environment (victim par excellence) and/or is the embodiment of the struggle for justice.

As for your second point, I think Voltaire put it quite nicely, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I hope there is a day when we will see Gideon Levys and Amira Hass’ in the Palestinian press. Or perhaps a Palestinian B’Tselem working against suicide bombing and rocketing of Sderot and Ashkelon.

March 24th, 2008, 3:28 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sometimes no words convey the most accurate message.
Thank you, IN DAMASCUS.

March 24th, 2008, 3:29 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Seems like Cheney has been gaining weight contrary to the advise of his doctors. Asked about his not-so-healthy weight, Cheney immediately replied: “So!”.

March 24th, 2008, 4:04 pm

 

Naji said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,
My point is simple. If you want to convince people, at the very least your point of view has to be internally consistent.

You could either believe Lod does not belong to us and then you will have to advocate returning it just like the Golan or your position is that Lod does belong to us but then you have to explain how Lod is different than the Golan. You may have a good explanation, I would like to hear it.

March 24th, 2008, 5:51 am

Naji said:

…that’s why, as much as they loath him, most commentators on this blog cannot refrain from continuing to engage AIG…!! No matter how abhorrent, an internally consistent logic is always very compelling. Think of how robust and compelling tens of millions of people found the Nazi logics…!!

March 24th, 2008, 6:39 am

March 24th, 2008, 4:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai

As much as I love and appreciate your commentary, I would point out the following inconsistency, which has been nagging at me ever since you began contributing regularly to SC, namely:

If the Arabs were to adopt the exact strategy that you are advocating for the Israelis (i.e., make peace with your enemies, not with your friends), then the people that the Arabs need to be speaking to are not you and Alon Liel but rather AP and AIG!

Your thoughts?

March 24th, 2008, 4:10 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
How was the Nazi logic internally consistent?
Please elucidate your deep observation.

March 24th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Is this the same Gideon Levy that wants the US government to “rape” Israel?

Ha’aretz does make a great lining for bird cages…

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=55&x_article=1416

…then the people that the Arabs need to be speaking to are not you and Alon Liel but rather AP and AIG!

QN,

I’d agree with that. I would also suggest that they speak with the jihadists who are killing so many more muslims than Israel is killing.

March 24th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

norman said:

QN,

AP and AIG do not want to talk they want to kill the Arabs , Shai and many like him are our only hope.

March 24th, 2008, 4:56 pm

 

Naji said:

AIG,

Which part of the Nazi logic did you find internally inconsistent…?!

I am glad you thought that I made such a “deep observation”, but I was merely joining you in congratulating you on your cutesy little wins over Shai’s arguments… The fact that “internal consistency” and robustness is more of a technical accomplishment than an aesthetic one, I would have thought quite obvious and not in the least “deep” at this stage of our “civilizational progress”…!!?

March 24th, 2008, 4:57 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

There is a reason I love reading your comments…

I don’t find an inconsistency there, because, sorry to say this, Alon and I ARE officially your enemy. As you correctly noted before, even with all your contacts, you still cannot get me to come to Beirut for the annual SC get-together. And, by law, you and I cannot meet. In practice, of course, it’s something else.

There are two conditions to my Only-With-Your-Enemy Theorem:

1) That you don’t pick your peace partners (i.e. Abbas, Siniora, etc.)

2) That your enemies are willing to make peace with you.

The expansion to these is that the enemy you negotiate with, should be able to deliver once an agreement is reached. Abbas is therefore ruled out right now (may change in the future), and AIG cannot satisfy condition #2. Alon and I do not represent a political side in the spectrum. I’ve hinted on more than one occasion that it may well be the case that the Right (Likud) may be in position to make peace much faster than the Left or Center. If that were the case, I’d support Likud on that particular venture.

Gotta run for a while, will be back in a bit, and I’ll write more…

March 24th, 2008, 5:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
I find the Nazi argument not consistent at all and therefore your “deep” observation that people accepted them because it was internally consistent is ridiculous and irrelevant.

Well, if you don’t think internally consistent arguments are required, then I can prove anything to you and there is no basis for rational discussion. Go have fun in la la land.

March 24th, 2008, 5:04 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Norman,
Both AP and I don’t want to kill Arabs, you are showing a very shallow understanding of the issues. We only reserve the basic right to defend ourselves if attacked. In fact, it is you that by supporting Hamas is supporting terrorism and killing of civillians.

Shai,
I am more than willing to make peace with a democratic Syria so condition #2 does not apply to me.

And by the way, why is your enemy Asad and not Bashmann? How do you chose which “enemy” to negotiate with?

March 24th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

Naji said:

AIG,
Now, I also know why everybody finds you so irritating and abhorrent… As clever as you sometimes appear to be, you lead one to fall for engaging you in a discussion, but then as soon as you start losing the argument, you start trying to twist its premises, body, and conclusion …and you go back to being the nasty little kid that nobody liked…

If your strategy for wining an argument is to repel the other side from any further response, then you have won… Enjoy…!! Luckily, you, and your type, are becoming completely irrelevant…

March 24th, 2008, 5:16 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

I’d agree with that. I would also suggest that they speak with the jihadists who are killing so many more muslims than Israel is killing.

Akbar cars are killing more Israelis than “Jihadists” (= people from the occupied areas). Over 400 are yearly killed in car accidents. There were 174 murders in Israel (2004) so it can be said that Jews kill more Jews than “Jihadists”.

As we see cars and internal “violence” are bigger security threads for Israelis than the Palestinian violence. Astonishing isn’t it Akbar.

March 24th, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Which argument exactly have I lost? The one with you in which you claim that the Nazis had a consistent ideology or the one in which you claim that you don’t have to make sense to put forward an argument? The fact is that people like you have been putting forward ridiculous arguments for 60 years and for 60 years both logic and the facts on the ground have shown how wrong you are. All you can do is claim such things as:
1) Israel is a Nazi state even though Merkel and half the German cabinet visited Israel and said explicitly that it is a great democracy.
2) Very soon, Israel is going away even though in all aspects Israel is getting better all the time while the Arabs are falling behind.

And the list goes on. Your specialty is looking at the blue sky and saying it is green. Good luck in la la land.

March 24th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

wizart said:

Massacres Committed by the Jews in Palestine – A Partial List

The worst of the massacres were the King David Hotel, the Semiramis Hotel, Deir Yassin, Dawayma, Kibya, Kafr Kassim, the attack against the USS Liberty and the Libyan Boeing 727 Airliner, and the massacres against Sabra and Shatila and other refugee camps in Lebanon. Following are just a few of the many massacres committed by the Jewish/Zionists; specifically the Hagana, Irgun and Stern Gangs of Israel: The Massacre of

1. King David Hotel, July 22, 1946.
2. Sharafat, Feb. 7, 1951.
3. Deir Yassin, April 10, 1948.
4. Naseruddine, April 14, 1948.
5. Carmel, April 20, 1948.
6. Al-Qabu, May 1, 1948.
7. Beit Kiras, May 3, 1948.
8. Beitkhoury, May 5, 1948.
9. Az-Zaytoun, May 6, 1948.
10. Wadi Araba, May 13, 1950.
11. Falameh, April 2, 1951.
12. Quibya, Oct. 14, 1953.
13. Nahalin, March, 28, 1954.
14. Gaza, Feb. 28, 1955.
15. Khan Yunis, May 31, 1955.
16. Khan Yunis Again, Aug. 31, 1955.
17. Tiberia, Dec. 11, 1955.
18. As-Sabha, Nov. 2, 1955.
19. Gaza Again, April 5, 1956.
20. Houssan, Sept. 25, 1956.
21. Rafa, Aug. 16, 1956.
22. Qalqilyah, Oct. 10, 1956.
23. Ar-Rahwa, Sept. 12, 1956.
24. Kahr Kassem, Oct. 29, 1956.
25. Gharandal, Sept. 13, 1956.
26. Gaza Strip, Nov. 1956.

July 2, 1946: The King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed. Killing 91 people. Menachem Begin, who was recently given the so-called Nobel Peace Prize (It seems this prize is given to the people who can kill the most Christians and get away with it!), and is the same Begin who planned the destruction of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin. Ex prime minister, Shamir, was originally a member of the Jewish terrorist gang called Irgun, which was headed by none other than Menachem Begin. Shamir later moved over to the even more radical “Stern Gang,” which committed many vicious atrocities. Shamir himself has defended the various assassinations committed by the Irgun and Stern gangs on the grounds that “it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets.” The selected moral targets in those early days of the founding of the state of Israel included bombing of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin.”

http://www.christianparty.net

March 24th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

Naji said:

Wiz,
I don’t know where you copied the above from, but perhaps it was not the best source… I’d delete it if I were you, and look for a less fascist source… you do not want to emulate the Zionists… 😉

March 24th, 2008, 5:57 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji and Wiz,
Please explain, why did Merkel and half her cabinet come to Israel last week and proclaim that Israel is a great democracy? Is Merkel dumb or afraid? Does she not know history? Is she afraid of the Jewish Lobby? What is your conspirational explanation? Is all you are capable of is spewing falsehoods from racist sources?

Grew up and face the music.

March 24th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

QN,
What Shai and many of us are working on is not only peace between us, like-minded people. We have already accomplished that task; very successfully I might add.

Rather, we are working hard on influencing policy-makers of differing opinions, changing perceptions, and showing leaders that people on both sides are not as war-hungry as Cheney is, but would rather see peace instead.

Shai, I, and many others are convincing our own people that peace happens.

I Would be keen in hearing what others have to say about this important subject.

March 24th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

FP,
What are you saying to your own people? Could you elaborate?

March 24th, 2008, 6:10 pm

 

wizart said:

Naji,

Thanks for your suggestion.

While I appreciate your suggestion I think there’s nothing better than sunshine to expose the abuse that took place before this jewish nation was founded which AIG is so eager to market to the world while hijacking this blog and dismissing anyone and any argument he does not like. He reminds me of the American author who wrote about the necessity of boycott and how to deal with the fierce reaction to it. (i.e: ignore them and expell them because they distract from the real issues and absorb much needed energy.)

Plus if he can’t stand the heat I don’t see why he hangs around the kitchen. It’s like their way or the highway. Well the way to stop this abuse is to expose their tactics and the way they create fear.

March 24th, 2008, 6:27 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
If you didn’t notice I enjoy the heat and especially showing how ridiculous your arguments are just as you don’t have a clue about history.
Any explanation why Merkel thinks Israel is a great democracy?

March 24th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

Shai said:

FP,

Good to see you here again! It’s been quite a day today…

Wizart,

Can you name just one thing you, or your Simo-hero, have done here on this forum, to advance the cause of peace between Jews and Arabs? Exposing all the crimes committed by Jews and Israelis, and continuing to spew sheer hatred towards us, doesn’t really get us closer to one another, does it? Is there anything you plan to do, aside from alienating even the few moderate Jews that are still willing to listen to the Arabs? Is your search for justice going to help us achieve peace? How will that realistically happen – draw it out for us.

March 24th, 2008, 6:37 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

You create a problem and call it jewish nation and you ask us how to solve it? I asked you for a strategy and you say you can’t form one! you obviously have a strategy based on massacres and public relations.

Shai,

Is isn’t that the same question Simo just asked you for which you’re happy to discuss peace parks and now water canals?

very classic good guy / bad guy. No wonder hundreds of negotiations never worked.

March 24th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

AIG,

Glad you asked.

I am telling Syrians across the board that Israelis do want peace. I am telling them that not all Israelis are illegal settlers. Not all Israelis are extremists. Not all Israelis are colonialists. Not all Israelis are there to kill you as some leaders are telling you.

I am telling them that Israelis enjoy life, music, and Arabic culture – more than Syrians ever tried to understand Israeli culture. And that many Israelis sponsor and support soccer teams that have mixed players from Arab and Israeli villages.

I am telling them to open their minds and discover that the average Israeli citizen does not want war, but want liberty, security, and respect – just like any average Syrian would want.

I am telling them that there are people in Israel, with warm bodies and patriotism to their country and that there are many Israelis who think that peace with Syria is key to stability in the Middle East.

I am telling them that these Israelis do not want peace with Syria because they are weak and Syria is strong. They want peace precisely because they care about Israel, its people, and that peace is the only way to come out of this cycle of deadly violence.

I am telling them that peace does happen and will happen.

Finally, some readers here will be surprised to know that even Hamas and HA can change. Even they want peace. Surprise, surprise.

March 24th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart,
Well if your problem is the Jewish nation, you may as well have a problem with the sun and the moon. The Jewish nation exists, just as the moon and sun exist. Get used to it.

March 24th, 2008, 7:05 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG, Wizart,

Now putting all your “love” for me aside, give me one single reason why Israelis cannot do the same as Ford Prefect is doing with Syrians? Why must we always look at life in such a cynical way, suspecting, and disbelieving any and all of our rivals? We’re not ALL bad. We’re not ALL anti-peace, pro-occupation, pro-killing, criminals, blood thirsty animals. Some of us, many of us, really are good human beings. Why must we also do battle here, in this forum? Why can’t we embrace one another, understand one another, and finally develop enough empathy to try to change reality? We can, and we WILL succeed! There is no acceptable alternative.

March 24th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
I find the Nazi argument not consistent at all and therefore your “deep” observation that people accepted them because it was internally consistent is ridiculous and irrelevant.

Well, if you don’t think internally consistent arguments are required, then I can prove anything to you and there is no basis for rational discussion. Go have fun in la la land.

March 24th, 2008, 5:04 pm

Naji said:

AIG,
Now, I also know why everybody finds you so irritating and abhorrent… As clever as you sometimes appear to be, you lead one to fall for engaging you in a discussion, but then as soon as you start losing the argument, you start trying to twist its premises, body, and conclusion …and you go back to being the nasty little kid that nobody liked…

If your strategy for wining an argument is to repel the other side from any further response, then you have won… Enjoy…!! Luckily, you, and your type, are becoming completely irrelevant…

Alex said;

AIG … since you are an intelligent man, I willl have to conclude that you are asking for it: Take a week off to cool down and to read again the list I sent you … specifically the part about not insulting others with your frequent personal judgments about their “ridiculous” opinions.

Come back Monday March 31st. And when you do, try a bit harder to filter character attacks out of EVERY comment you leave here.

March 24th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

wizart said:

AIG,

Very good and the plan is to expose it for what it is just like the sun and the moon. As long as every kid in the classroom knows the truth about your nation they will grow up to deal with it accordingly.

March 24th, 2008, 7:17 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

FP,
Nice message. I wish you success and I hope people are listening.

March 24th, 2008, 7:18 pm

 

Observer said:

Mubarak and Abdallah are not goint to Damascus. This is going to be good, especially if many others do go. One may argue that KSA and Egypt are the true heavyweights, but on the other hand, Damascus can come of this leading a new way to deal with challenges to the Arab League and the Arab nations.

On a different note, the explanation as to why the European chiefs are so supportive of Israel can have two explanations: one is to reassure Israel that it has the EU support and therefore to discourage it from attempting a strike on Iran. In essence, they are saying to the Israelis, do not worry we will be there for you and therefore do not listen to Washington as it tries to encourage you to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The other explanation is that Israel is ready to truly attack Iran and/or Syria-HA and therefore the Europeans are shuttling to tell Israel that yes we will support you but only so much.

I believe that the Europeans are terrified of a US that is ready to turn inwards and that they will be left to deal with the Russian Bear, disaffected Muslims in Europe, and a chaotic ME.

I believe that as the West sees that military intervention in the classic terms such as the invasion of Iraq is no longer feasible for several reasons, they may very well resort to two different approaches: use of the local dictator to wage a vicious war in the former colonies and the use of tactical nuclear weapons if the former does not succeed. Use of gun boat diplomacy is no longer an option, the people of the region are no longer afraid and as their hopes for a better life dwindle they will be less amenable to deterrence.

How to make their public swallow a nuclear use, will be based mainly on the old humanitarian crusade. The need to use humanitarian invtervention for the sake of perpetuating the same old power division in the world will be the guise under which the use of nuclear force will be justified. Although far fetched, this is truly the last argument being used for ongoing intervention.

Now creeping into the discourse is the fight against Radical Islam as the following article below shows. This is a problem as the last thing the Europeans want to do is to raise the spectre of another crusade lest the Muslims rally together and overthrow their corrupt regimes. So here there will be slow and careful and nuted approach to the problem posed by a religiously based societal framework of thought in a Europe that is desacralized.

Here is the reading by Alistair Crooke

Alastair Crooke The Guardian, Monday March 24 2008 Article history
About this articleClose This article appeared in the Guardian on Monday March 24 2008 on p33 of the Comment & debate section. It was last updated at 00:02 on March 24 2008. The French philosopher Michel Foucault notes that in all societies discourse is controlled – imperceptibly constrained, perhaps, but constrained nonetheless. We are not free to say exactly what we like. The norms set by institutions, convention and our need to keep within the boundaries of accepted behaviour and thought limit what may be touched upon. The Archbishop of Canterbury experienced the backlash from stepping outside these conventions when he spoke about aspects of Islamic law that might be imported into British life.

Once, a man was held to be mad if he strayed from this discourse – even if his utterings were credited with revealing some hidden truth. Today, he is called “naive”, or accused of having gone “native”. Recently, the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) marshalled former senior military and intelligence experts in order to assert such limits to expression by warning us that “deference” to multiculturalism was undermining the fight against Islamic “extremism” and threatening security.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, in a recent interview with a German magazine, embellished Rusi’s complaints of naivety and “flabby thinking”. Radical Islam won’t stop, he warned, and the “virus” would only become more virulent if the US were to withdraw from Iraq.

The charge of naivety is not limited to failing to understand the concealed and duplicitous nature of Hamas and Hizbullah, Iran and Syria; it extends to not grasping the true nature of the wider “enemy” the west is facing. “I don’t like the term ‘war on terror’ because terror is a method, not a political movement; we are in a war against radical Islam,” says Kissinger. But who or what is radical Islam? It is those who are not “moderates”, he explains. Certainly, a small minority of Muslims believe that only by “burning the system” can a fresh stab at a just society be made. But Kissinger’s definition of “moderate” Islam sounds no more than a projection of the Christian narrative after Westphalia, by which Christianity became a private matter of conscience, rather than an organisational principle for society.

If radical Islam, with which these experts tell us we should be at war, encompasses all those who are not enamoured of secular society, and who espouse a vision of their societies grounded in the values of Islam, then these experts are advocating a war with Islam – because Islam is the vision for their future favoured by many Muslims.

Mainstream Islamists are indeed challenging western secular and materialist values, and many do believe that western thinking is flawed – that the desires and appetites of man have been reified into representing man himself. It is time to re-establish values that go beyond “desires and wants”, they argue.

Many Islamists also reject the western narrative of history and its projection of inevitable “progress” towards a secular modernity; they reject the western view of power-relationships within societies and between societies; they reject individualism as the litmus of progress in society; and, above all, they reject the west’s assumption that its empirical approach lends unassailability and objective rationality to its thinking – and universality to its social models.

People may, or may not, agree, but the point is that this is a dispute about ideas, about the nature of society, and about equity in an emerging global order. If western discourse cannot step beyond the enemy that it has created, these ideas cannot be heard – or addressed. This is the argument that Jonathan Powell made last week when he argued that Britain should understand the lessons of Northern Ireland: we should talk to Islamist movements, including al-Qaida. It has to be done, because the west needs to break through the fears and constraints of an over-imagined “enemy”.

Camouflaged behind a language dwelling exclusively on “their” violence and “their” disdain for rationality, these “realists” propose not a war on terror, nor a war to preserve “our values” – for we are not about to be culturally overwhelmed. No Islamist seriously expects that a “defeated” west would hasten to adopt the spirit of the Islamic revolution.

No, the west’s war is a military response to ideas that question western supremacy and power. The nature of this war on “extremism” became evident when five former chiefs of defence staff of Nato states gathered at a think-tank in Washington earlier this year. Their aim was not to query the realism of a war on ideas, but to empower Nato for an “uncertain world”.

“We cannot survive … confronted with people who do not share our values, who unfortunately are in the majority in terms of numbers, and who are extremely hungry for success,” Germany’s former chief of defence staff warned. Their conclusion was that the security of the west rests on a “restoration of its certainties”, and on a new form of deterrence in which enemies will find there is not, and never will be, a place in which they feel safe.

The generals concluded that Nato should adopt an asymmetrical and relentless pursuit of its targets regardless of others’ sovereignty; to surprise; to seize the initiative; and to use all means, including the nuclear option, against its enemies.

In Foucault’s discourse, he identified a further group of rules serving to control language: none may enter into discourse on a specific subject unless he or she is deemed qualified to do so. Those, like the archbishop, who penetrate this forbidden territory – reserved to security expertise – to ask that we see the west for what it has become in the eyes of others, are liable to be labelled as naively weakening “our certainties” and undermining national resolve.

But do we, who are brushed out of this discourse by the blackmail of presumed expertise, really believe them? Do we really believe, after so much failure, that Islamist alternative ideas will be suppressed by a Nato plunged into an asymmetrical warfare of assassinations and killings? The west’s vision for society holds power only so long as people believe it holds power. Do we really think that if force has not succeeded, that only more and greater force can restore belief in the western vision? If that is the limit to western thinking, then it is these “realists”, these armchair warriors fighting a delusional war against a majority who “do not share our values”, who are truly naive.

· Alastair Crooke is a former security adviser to the EU and founder and director of the Conflicts Forum conflictsforum.org

March 24th, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

Shai said:

AIG,

En brera. Anachnu ba’bayit she’lahem, lo hem etzlenu. Ha’yavim limtzo safa meshutephet, gam im ze me’atzben… Gam li lo tamid kal.

(apologies to all for the use of Hebrew).

March 24th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

AIG, I share your hope. I am amazed by the number of people who are listening from my side.

March 24th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

March 24th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

Shai said:

Wizart,

Listen to Ford Prefect. If only more people in our region were like him, on both sides of the conflict, we would have had peace decades ago. People like FP are the true heroes of our peaceful future, as they are the ones fighting to make it happen. As an Israeli, when I see that, I cannot but do my utmost to achieve the same.

March 24th, 2008, 7:43 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

Ok, but you see my point, right? I actually believe that people like AIG and AP do want to see peace; they are just far more suspicious than you are and have far more conditions, in the same way that Asad and Nasrallah would like peace but have far more conditions, etc.

This is what I mean about choosing peace partners. You and Alon are almost completely powerless in this regard – in terms of guaranteeing peace, just like me and FP (as wonderful as he is!) My only argument is that if the Asads and the Nasrallahs are the ones who will guarantee a lasting peace (not the QN’s and FP’s), then the same must be true of the Israeli side.

But what do I know?

March 24th, 2008, 8:30 pm

 

ausamaa said:

So Mubarak and King Abdullah would be reduced to watching the proceedings of the Arab Summit on TV? If they have a convincing case, why not go and push it forward in front of their other Arab brothers?

It is gonna look to the Arab street as if two or more collaboraters are afraid of facing the music during the summit! What are they hiding from behind the execuse of “Lebanese” deadlock? Is their unpresence gonna help solve it or complicate it more?

Maybe complicating things “more” is what is requiered of them now? Who the hell knows? They been acting pretty funny lately.

I used to like the signs posted on Texas highways declaring: Dont Mess With Texas. The Syrian Foreign Ministry should order a version of those saying: Dont Mess With Damascus. With some more saying: Dont bet on losers!

March 24th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

I believe that the Europeans are terrified of a US that is ready to turn inwards and that they will be left to deal with the Russian Bear, disaffected Muslims in Europe, and a chaotic ME.

Hmmmm I suppose Offended that Europe is more terrified of US Bald Eagle (and Israeli Cobra) than the Russian bear. EU needs in the end Russia more than Russia needs EU. Also Russia has for decades to come enough problems in developing its society, economy, military etc. EU needs desperately Russian raw materials, energy and markets. USA not so much. Can you Offended explain why would Russia be threatening EU if EU is not threatening it.

The disaffected Muslims in Europe certain do not be tamed by unlimited support for Israel or allowing Israel to attack with or without nukes Iran.

PS:
Before the IG’s begin to accuse me for choosing cobra as the Israeli national animal lets make clear I picket it from Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_animals

The animal was a huge surprise to me, though I must say it describes good the present realities.

What comes Merkel’s polite words in Israel AIG should remember that she is the leader of Germany, which has some moral debt to Israel and secondly European politicians normally use polite language on state visits. Certainly Merkel and majority of Germans do not see Israel as example among democracies (God help us all if they do and adopt Israeli style of government). What other options Merkel had and did she say her honest opinon? Any real criticism against Israel by the German Bundeskanzler, would create an unseen anti-Semitic shouting.

March 24th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

AIG and AP, from what I understand of their views, cannot be your partner for peace, not because they don’t want peace, but because their preconditions are such that you could never meet. They are not ready to talk to Assad tomorrow morning. In fact, they’ll talk only to a democratically-elected President of Syria. So as much as you’d like to negotiate with them, it simply won’t work, unless they’re willing to change their own preconditions.

I’m not here to negotiate peace between Israel and Syria – that’s something the negotiators will do elsewhere. I’m here to reach out to Arabs, to hear and understand their views and concerns, and then to go back to “my people” and do the same as Ford Prefect is doing. My goal is to influence our decision makers, not Wizart or his Simo-hero. I can bring back ideas with me, that have been tossed around here, after hearing your views. The park on the Golan was such an idea (initiated by Syria, as you’ll recall). The Peace Canal Plan was another. Not all ideas will work, or will be accepted. But perhaps some might, and that could be very useful.

I view Assad as my enemy, yet I believe that he and I want peace just as much. I also believe that he is ready to fight for his nation’s best interests just as much as I am, and that neither one of us plans to give the other any “free gifts”. But he, unlike AIG/AP, is more pragmatic, and understands that he probably cannot have everything he wants either. I, at the same time, understand that I also cannot have everything I want. So you and I are much more likely to find a compromise, than perhaps you and AIG might. I would certainly not like to rule out anyone and, in fact, am hoping that I’m wrong about AIG/AP. But there are pragmatic enemies that can meet at the table, and less-pragmatic ones, that cannot. It is probably fair to say that the past three prime ministers of Israel, did not achieve peace with Syria, either because they weren’t pragmatic enough, or their counterparts weren’t (or both). Yet all of them were Syria’s enemy, and vice-versa.

March 24th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
In wikipedia the animal of Israel is the deer. There are no cobra’s in Israel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_animals

And of course, your response is that Merkel is lying. How typical. She didn’t have to bring half the German cabinet not to be called an antisemite and could have been less generous with her praise.

March 24th, 2008, 9:04 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai,

Fair enough… but Asad needs to take into account the feelings of his allies as well, notably the “calm” Nasrallah. Boy, do I feel reassured… what about you?

Calm Nasrallah Reassures Followers that Israel Would Cease to Exist

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday pledged that Israel is heading towards “more defeats”, reiterating that the Jewish state would be “punished” and would cease to exist.

[And from the Daily Star…]:

Nasrallah said that a poll conducted by clerics after Mughniyeh’s murder showed that most Lebanese – be they Sunni, Christian, Druze or Shiite – wanted to see Israel disappear.

“Back in 1982, some people used to doubt the resistance’s ability to fight Israel, but the resistance’s answer came very fast when different groups started launching attacks against Israeli occupiers,” Nasrallah said.

“At a later period, they doubted our ability to achieve victory, and then the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000 came to prove that the resistance is capable of defeating the Israeli Army,” he added.

“Now we are left with one question: Will Israel cease to exist one day?

“I would like to tell you that the resistance started answering this last question when it defeated the Israeli Army again in the July 2006 war.”

“Yes. … Israel will cease to exist,” Nasrallah told a crowd of several thousand at the ceremony in the southern suburbs of Beirut via video link.

—-

March 24th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

Alex said:

QN,

Actually, Nasrallah’s words are a downgrade from last month when he promised Israel that he will retaliate very soon for Mughniyeh’s assassination. So, he is telling his supporters that he will not be finishing Israel soon .. it will happen by itself with time ..etc.

Here is another interview that ALon gave to Elaph

http://65.17.227.80/ElaphWeb/Politics/2008/3/315337.htm

ليئيل لإيلاف: الإسرائيليون لن يكتفوا باتفاقية سلام مع سوريا

GMT 20:00:00 2008 الإثنين 24 مارس

إيلاف

أكد بأن السياسة الاسرائيلية الحالية تنساق خلف مخططات بوش
ليئيل لإيلاف: الإسرائيليون لن يكتفوا باتفاقية سلام مع سوريا

نضال وتد من حيفا: اعتبر المدير العام السابق لوزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية، ورئيس اللجنة من أجل السلام بين إسرائيل وسوريا، ألون ليئيل، في حديث خاص لإيلاف، أن تصريحات الرئيس الإسرائيلي شيمون بيريز الأخيرة، خلال لقائه بتشيني، بشأن رفض إسرائيل إعادة الجولان لسوريا خشية ألا تتحول إلى قاعدة لإيران، وأن النظام في سوريا هو نظام يجري في فلك السياسة الإيرانية، تؤكد انسياق السياسة الإسرائيلية في ظل القيادة الحالية لإسرائيل خلف سياسة بوش، دون أن يملك أي من القادة الإسرائيليين الحاليين الجرأة للوقوف في وجه الإدارة الأميركية والإصرار على موقف إسرائيل مغاير، رافض للتوجه الأميركي القائل بأن “على الأسد أن يثبت أولا أنه ولد صالح، قبل الحديث معه والتفاوض معه.

وأوضح ليئئل أنه وفقا لمعلوماته، فإنه لا تجري حاليا أية محادثات أو اتصالات بين إسرائيل وسوريا، وأن جل ما كان هناك هو نقل رسائل بين الطرفين قامت بها تركيا مؤخرا، لكن ذلك لا يعني إطلاق تصريحات كتلك التي أطلقها بيرس.

وأشار ليئيل الذي كان كشف في مطلع العام الماضي أنه أجرى سلسلة اتصالات مع رجل الأعمال الأميركي إبراهيم سليمان، المقرب من النظام السوري، في سويسرا، بمعرفة جهات رسمية إسرائيلية، وإن لم يكن ممثلا رسميا للحكومة الإسرائيلية، أشار على أن العقبة الرئيسية التي تعترض اليوم إطلاق محادثات حقيقية بين إسرائيل وسوريا تتمثل بالموقف والتوجه الأميركيين، إذ تصر الإدارة الأميركية حاليا على ألا تبدأ إسرائيل أية مفاوضات مع سوريا، لأنه لا يوجد أي قائد إسرائيلي ممن يتابعون التطورات و”المواد” المتعلقة بالملف السوري لا يعرف أنه لن تجري أية مفاوضات مع سوريا دون الخوض في مسألة إعادة هضبة الجولان أو ما اصطلح على تسميته ب”وديعة رابين”.

وأشار ليئيل في هذا السياق إلى أن هذا يشمل كل القادة الإسرائيليين الذين يمكن أن يشغلوا منصب رئاسة الوزراء بمن فيهم براك ونتنياهو وأولمرط وليفني. مع ذلك لفت ليئيل على أنه في ظل التطورات الإقليمية في السنوات الأخيرة وظهور إيران كلاعب رئيسي في منطقة الشرق الأوسط وتحديدا في سوريا ولبنان وغزة، فإن أي محادثات جدية لا يمكن لها أن تقتصر على إبرام اتفاقية سلام سورية إسرائيلية مقابل الجولان، وإنما يجب أن تشمل المحادثات كل الملفات الساخنة، مثل علاقة سوريا بإيران، وملفات لبنان وحزب الله والعلاقة مع حماس.

واعتبر ليئيل أنه طالما ظلت سوريا (من وجهة النظر الإسرائيلية) ضلعا رئيسيا في المحور الإيراني، فإنه لن يكون بمقدور أية حكومة إسرائيلية أن تروج اليوم اتفاقية سلام ثنائية مع سوريا مقابل الجولان، ما لم تلتزم سوريا بالابتعاد عن المحور الإيراني، وتبني سياسة مغايرة كليا تقترب من السياسة المصرية والأردنية.

وأكد ليئيل انه على الرغم من القناعة شبة التامة في أوساط الجمهور الإسرائيلي بأن الانسحاب من الجولان هوة شرط أساسي لسلام مع سوريا، إلا أن الشارع الإسرائيلي لن يقبل بأي اتفاقية ثنائية مع سوريا لا تلتزم سوريا بموجبها بترك محاور السياسة الإيرانية، والانتقال للمحور المعتدل من وجهة النظر الإسرائيلية.

وقال ليئل إنه على ضوء قناعة أخرى ترسخت في أوساط السياسيين الإسرائيليين، والتي لن يكون بموجبها التوصل خلال الأعوام القادمة لاتفاقية مع الفلسطينيين بسبب حماس، فإن هناك حاجة لجو من المسيرة السلمية والمفاوضات، وبالتالي فإن الوصول إلى المسار السوري، هو عمليا نتاج عملية نفي لواقعية الخيار الفلسطيني، وبالتالي فإن البديل هو المسار السوري، ولكن حتى على هذا المسار إذا لم يكن الحديث عن صفقة شاملة تشمل ليس فقط الجولان وإنما تمتد لتطال الملفات الساخنة في لبنان أيضا، وقطع التحالف مع إيران، فعندها سيكون ممكنا التوصل إلى اتفاق مع سوريا ولكن أيضا بعد زوال العقبة الرئيسية المتمثلة بإدارة بوش.

يشار إلى أن ألون لئيل شغل في السابق منصب مدير عام وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية، كما أنه أسس قبل ثلاثة أعوام لجنة من أجل السلام مع سوريا، ونشط في مجال الاتصالات مع عناصر وجهات سورية، آخرها سلسلة المحادثات والاتصالات التي أجراها في سويسرا خلال العام 2007 مع إبراهيم سليمان، بوساطة سويسرية، حيث أعلن آنذاك أنه وخلال الحرب على لبنان، فقد أبدت القيادة السورية استعدادا لإجراء اتصالات ومفاوضات مع إسرائيل لكن الحكومة الإسرائيلية رفضت المقترحات السورية بفعل الضغوط الأميركية على إسرائيل

March 24th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

Golda, Begin, Sharon, and Netanyahu said the same thing about Palestine. Yet the last three (all from the Likud), not only spoke with the Arabs, but indeed ordered Israeli settlers and the army out of Sinai, Gaza, and parts of the West Bank. I believe, like Alex said, that one day HA, Hamas, and even Iran, can and will change. Today, they must say and act the way they do. I don’t like it, but they don’t like the things Israel does either. Yes, Bashar will take these things into account. And when I said that he too will have to compromise, we’re probably talking about his military alliances (not political ones) with these. I don’t know what will come out of these negotiations, but I have a funny feeling that he’s already thought well about his red-lines. I trust that he understands our position quite well, and if only Israel shows him that we too understand Syria’s needs and concerns (not just vis-a-vis the Golan), we will find the common middle ground, and we will achieve peace.

March 24th, 2008, 9:43 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

QN,
Needless to say that the statements you listed from the HA leader against Israel are nothing new. One can find similar ones from many leaders who are at peace with Israel today – including Mahmoud Abbas (who even denied the Holocaust sometime ago). Does anyone remember what Sadat said about Israel in the early 70’s leading to the 1973 War? His statement would make Nassrallah sounds like mother Teresa.

History is full of such examples where statements are made (nice for public consumption) and then things happen.

March 24th, 2008, 9:45 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Is this the one where he bashes Peres to pieces? We’ve been looking for the English version… He, like so many of us, are extremely upset at the dinosaur-politician-president who proved yet again that he is more dedicated to banquets and cocktail parties in DC, than to peace.

March 24th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

Alex said:

yes, Alon started this interview by criticizing Mr. Peres.

March 24th, 2008, 10:04 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Nasrallah’s message was less inflammatory (or more conciliatory) than the inexact translations imply. Whereas there is no doubt about Nasrallah’s wishes and sentiments, his words were carefull chosen. He did not say “Israel will cease to exist.” Rather, he posed the question: “Is it possible for Israel to cease to exist?” and answered “I tell you, yes, it is possible for Israel to cease to exist.” You may think it’s mincing words, but I don’t think so.

Also, after talking about hostilities with Israel and how, in his words, Israel is now in “reverse gear” and cannot and will not go forward again, he later stated, in colloquial Lebanese …”now, does that mean I’m telling you we’re going to attack Israel tomorrow from Lebanese soil? no, I’m not saying that, nor am I saying that it is Lebanon’s own responsibility to defeat Israel.”

This choice of words and this attitude are very telling. Some may think they are only to buy time and reassure the Lebanese, but I read through them much more than that. Shai may be right here in seeing a future where Hamas, HA, and Iran come to an accommodation with Israel. It sure seems possible with Nasrallah.

Nasrallah also pointed out that despite all the hostilities, despite HA’s planning to pay Israel back for Mughnieh’s assassination at a time, place, and method of HA’s choosing, the negotiations for prisoner exchange with Israel is continuing.

Hmmm… telling, very telling…

I’m disappointed in the way The Daily Star failed to clarify these nuances. The press does a disservice to its English readership by failing to report on such important subtleties, which, for some of us, are really not subtleties at all: they speak plenty.

“Think outside the box, adopt The Other Point of VieW”

March 24th, 2008, 10:46 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:


Sim,
In wikipedia the animal of Israel is the deer. There are no cobra’s in Israel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_national_animals

And of course, your response is that Merkel is lying. How typical. She didn’t have to bring half the German cabinet not to be called an antisemite and could have been less generous with her praise.

Well AIG lucky that Wikipedia has the history page. Have you changed the cobra to a deer – that is amusing but not unexpected. When I used the page there was cobra. 🙂 🙂 🙂

The page was changed 21:00, 24 March 2008 by 69.248.82.240.

Anybody can compare the pages.

Well amusing the agressive, dangerous, lethal animal is changed to the wide eyed, peaceful victim animal. Real bambis. The previous version had picture of Egyptian cobra, which I suppose could also live in Israel. Well, now I have no time to check. Bed calls. 🙂

Do you have deers in Israel? Why do Ireland and Israel have the picture of the same animal. Were you to lazy to hunt a better picture?

To your Merkel comment. As I said before WW2 explains it all, not the present German’s “admiration” of Israeli religious “democracy”. The Israeli provocative attacks against their (Germany)(spy)ships were widely reported in Germany.

March 24th, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

AmericanGuy said:

I am just hopeful that future Israeli leaders will be so nice to the future Palestinians, as Chancellor Merkle has been.

Will there be a memorial in Gaza for the shoah some so fervently desire against the Pals?

March 25th, 2008, 3:29 am

 

Naji said:

It is a sad commentary that Haaretz carried more honest translations of the Nassrallah speech than did Lebanon’s Daily Star…!!

March 25th, 2008, 5:59 am

 

Alex said:

Good morning Naji.

Where is the Nabih Berri interview summary??

: )

March 25th, 2008, 6:10 am

 

why-discuss said:

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are snubbing the arab summit, probably because of the presence of Mottaki that Syia invited ( after having tried to get Ahmadinejad). This presence is one more irritant to KSA’s King and “King” Mobarak who feel they are going to be watched by a ‘Persian Shia” while debating. Syria is bringing its powerful ally in to show: “Watch it, I am strong without you. You need Syria and through it Iran more than I need you because you can’t solve Palestine or Iraq without both of us”. Big slap on the face of the ‘Kings’. KSA and Egypt seem weak and in dissaray more than ever. They may also want to avoid a Conference that will emphasize the failures the arabs have been facing under the leadership or these 2 countries ( Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq…). Syria may will come out stronger from this defection, but Lebanon will pay the price.

March 25th, 2008, 6:11 am

 

Naji said:

Why-discuss,
Syria WILL come out of this summit stronger , and I don’t think the Egyptian and Saudi “kings” know why they are not coming… they probably would like to, but were simply told they couldn’t… they will find out why not later, like everybody else…! 😉

March 25th, 2008, 6:21 am

 

Naji said:

Here is something funny from this morning’s Syria Bulletin:

هلوسة :
هي ويلا لبنان طلاع برا..!!
يامن حسين : ( كلنا شركاء ) 24/3/2008
لست عنصرياً ,لا بل حتى مصاب بداء الأممية ,و متهم أمام المحاكم الليبرالية بالقومجية ,ولكن مع ذلك أطالب الأخوة اللبنانيين بالانسحاب الغير مشروط, والفوري من نشرات الأخبار والبرامج السياسية في تلفزيون (ديانا جبور) العربي السوري , ومن تلفزيون فؤاد شربتجي (تلفزيون الدنيا) , فليس من المعقول أن يفرد الإعلام السوري الرسمي والشبه رسمي ساعات بثه لقضايا لبنان فقط ,وتهريب أخبار سورية إلى (النيو تي في) و(الجزيرة), وكأن المواطن السوري ليس عنده أزمات بدءاً من الخبز والمازوت ,وصولاً إلى سعر البصل
وأسعار العقارات ,وحوادث السير على طرقاتنا النضالية , كما أنه ليس من المنطقي أن تستضيف برامج التلفزيون (إيميل رحمة رئيس حزب التضامن اللبناني) ,و كوميديات (وئام وهاب) ,وتغيّب عنه أعضاء مجلس الشعب ,ووزراء حكومة العطري لمناقشة أزماتنا المعيشية وخاصة أنهم كوميديين أيضاً. وعليه نتمنى من الأخوة في لبنان إعادة التموضع في مواجز الأخبار السورية , وأن يفسحوا المجال قليلا للمسئولين السوريين ..(يعني إذا بيتكرمو علينا) …!؟
هذه الملاحظات موجهة إلى الشجعان الثلاثة ( بلال و جبور و شربتجي
)
ما يسمى مجازاً المواطن السوري يعرف نواب ووزراء وسياسيين لبنان أكثر من نظرائهم في سورية.!!

For QN 😉

March 25th, 2008, 7:44 am

 

Shai said:

Important article on Ha’aretz today:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/968092.html

March 25th, 2008, 8:54 am

 

Naji said:

…sounds like something YOU wrote, Shai…!?
Congrat’s… 😉

March 25th, 2008, 9:32 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai said:

AIG and AP, from what I understand of their views, cannot be your partner for peace, not because they don’t want peace, but because their preconditions are such that you could never meet.

Shai,

Fortunately, the Syrian government has to make peace with the government of Israel, not AIG or AP. So let’s see what the GOI has to say about peace with Syria (from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs):

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace%20Process/Guide%20to%20the%20Peace%20Process/Israel-Syria%20Negotiations

The Israeli negotiators have stated to the Syrians that Israel accepts the principle of withdrawal on the Golan Heights, in the context of a peace settlement which simultaneously addresses four key issues:

– the depth of the withdrawal;
– the schedule and duration for withdrawal;
– the stages of the withdrawal and the linkage between them and normalization;
here, as with Egypt, we insist that there be a protracted phase of normalization — open borders and embassies — before we complete our withdrawal to a yet undetermined line, and;
– agreement over security arrangement.

Anyway, this it what the “hardline” Israeli government is saying;)

March 25th, 2008, 10:51 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

That’s a good one. What can I say, we’re self-obssessed people. 🙂

But just you watch: the crisis will be solved and you’ll all be missing Jumblatt on your TVs… he’s much more entertaining than the price of onions!

March 25th, 2008, 11:48 am

 

norman said:

Egypt and KSA are not comming to Syria for a simple reason , Cheeny told them so.

March 25th, 2008, 11:48 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

What good is the Arab League, really?

It’s always been something of a joke, but now — with the first summit in Damascus’s history being boycotted by some of the most important members — it is clear that it has officially come apart at the seams.

People keep talking about a KSA-Syrian understanding. Berri, for example, has said on numerous occasions that if Syria and KSA are reconciled, the entire crisis in Lebanon and in the region as a whole would evaporate.

I’m curious to hear from the Syrians on this blog: what shape do you think this reconciliation needs to take? During the 90’s and early 2000’s, when Syria ruled Lebanon, KSA was not shut out by any means. To the contrary, Hariri was practically KSA’s ambassador to Lebanon, and he facilitated billions of dollars worth of lucrative investments in the country. At some point, however, when Syria felt that it was being muscled out of its influence by an increasingly independent Hariri (who had Syria’s Lebanon intelligence chiefs in his pocket), Syria decided that enough was enough. [This is my reading]

What do people imagine to be the necessary conditions of a reconcilliation between KSA and Syria? Obviously, Lebanon cannot be “handed back” to Syria… those days are over. So then, what?

March 25th, 2008, 11:57 am

 

Naji said:

QN,
…you are right, but a lot of Lebanese I know are hoping their “elected” politicians would start worrying about the price of onions and stop playing around with the “International Community”, the wheels of creation, …and other favorite past-times of the rich and famous…! 😉

March 25th, 2008, 12:04 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,
on your last question, …it is the other way around: KSA expects Syria to deliver Lebanon to KSA’s lap, and Syria is not ready, willing or able to do so…! When the KSA understands that, there will be reconcilliation… That’s all…!

I think you better hope that this reconcilliation happens on “Syria’s terms”, because that is the only way the Lebanon will finally get its independence… Lebanon’s national-interest works to the benefit of BOTH Syria and Lebanon this time…!

March 25th, 2008, 12:28 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

You’re right. I hope you didn’t take it personally about negotiating with you or AIG. I meant to say to Qifa Nabki that in the end, he’ll have to negotiate with people willing to negotiate with him, without too many preconditions. The fact that Israel is publicly placing ridiculous preconditions on Syria (ridiculous not because they’re not good for Israel, but because they’ll never be met in advance), will lead to no-peace, rather than peace. Certainly requiring first a democracy in Syria, regardless of its sincerity (and I do believe that you/AIG are sincere), will simply delay peace to a point that may be too late. In the end, the main difference between us, is that I believe time is not on our side, and that therefore we must compromise on what enemy we’re willing to talk to (the free, democratically-elected one, or the dictator), and especially when the offer is on the table as it still is right now. Windows of opportunity do not open up every other month in our region, unfortunately, and they also close. I don’t want to see us plunged into a catastrophic regional war, with thousands of missiles raining down on Israel from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, because we missed the opportunity to talk to Bashar, regardless of his history, the way he exercises power, or the music he has on his iPod.

For that matter, if Ahmedinejad suddenly offered to invite you, AP, to Tehran to discuss recognition of Israel with him – would you not go? Would you really first question his sincerity? We’ll never know the real intentions of anyone, just like they won’t know ours. Are we any more ecstatic about visiting the Damascus souq than they are Tel-Aviv’s? Are we so genuinely in love with Arabs suddenly? No, of course not, but we ARE interested in ending the 60-year long war with our neighbors. We want the cycle of violence to end, we want to be rid of our own Apartheid-style rule over the Palestinian people, and we want the Arabs to at last accept us in this region, just as we accept them. This can only happen if we withdraw to the 1967 lines. We don’t need to wait for human rights and freedom in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt. We can, and must, act now.

If you will agree with me about the urgency, and be willing to remove those preconditions, then I would be the first to support your (AP’s) going to represent Israel in the negotiations. And I mean that.

March 25th, 2008, 12:47 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji

I am one of those Lebanese you’re talking about. Almost all of our “elected” officials are a joke. In case it hasn’t been made crystal clear, I am in favor of replacing the entire lot of them via fair and free elections. But that will take eons, at this rate.

Naji, how is it that Lebanon will get its independence by staying in Syria’s lap?

March 25th, 2008, 1:15 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,
Most Syrians think that the Lebanese love “sitting in our lap and pulling our beard”… 😀

…but, seriously, not to belabor that metaphor any further, Lebanon is no longer in Syria’s lap, or those buffoons would be barking with us not against us…! The fact is, Syria believes (rightly or wrongly) that an independent and democratic Lebanon is our best bet at this point… they believe that in an independent and democratic Lebanon many of its Lebanese friends and natural allies would have a bigger say, …that HA, Aoun, Frenjieh, etc. would have a greater share of power, if not full control… even benign (honest) adversaries would be better than fully sworn enemies…!

In other words, having somehow jumped out of our lap, we would rather see Lebanon hop around on its own until it learns to walk, rather than jump into somebody else’s lap… particularly a #@$%# Saudi lap…! 🙂

As unlikely as it seems, Syria is earnestly trying to extend a regional cooperation model that even Israel could sign up to…!!

March 25th, 2008, 1:59 pm

 

norman said:

Saudi king to boycott Arab summit

Saudi Arabia is a strong supporter of the Lebanese government
Saudi Arabia has said King Abdullah will not attend a forthcoming summit of Arab leaders in Syria.
The Saudi delegation will only be led by its Arab League ambassador.

The Saudis had already indicated that King Abdullah might not attend because of a rift with Syria over the current political crisis in Lebanon.

The crisis has seen Lebanon politically paralysed, with the government and opposition in Beirut unable to agree on a new president since November.

Lebanon has also been gripped by a political violence, including a string of assassinations of anti-Syrian figures.

Saudi Arabia supports the Western-leaning majority in the Lebanese parliament, while the Lebanese opposition is backed by Syria and Iran; each side blames the other for blocking a deal.

It is still unclear if Lebanon will boycott the summit, but on Monday, Beirut’s delegate to the Arab League did not attend a preparatory meeting.

The heads of state of the Arab League meet annually – this year’s meeting is scheduled for 29 and 30 March.

Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005, after a presence of nearly 30 years, under strong Lebanese and international pressure.

March 25th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai responds; I reply…

I hope you didn’t take it personally about negotiating with you or AIG.

Nope.

The fact that Israel is publicly placing ridiculous preconditions on Syria (ridiculous not because they’re not good for Israel, but because they’ll never be met in advance), will lead to no-peace, rather than peace.

I believe boths sides are placing pre-conditions. Perhaps talks without pre-conditions should follow, and that is exactly what occurred at Shepardstown.

Certainly requiring first a democracy in Syria, regardless of its sincerity (and I do believe that you/AIG are sincere), will simply delay peace to a point that may be too late.

I’m NOT requiring this, and I’m not sure AIG is, I just think it would be preferrable.

In the end, the main difference between us, is that I believe time is not on our side…

Perhaps this is why Nasrallah continues to tell his followers that Israel will come to an end. In which case, what incentive do the Arabs have to make peace if Israel’s end is right around the corner?
Personally, I would hope the Israeli government does what is necessary to remind Nasrallah and his followers that time is not an issue, not even the slightest.

I don’t want to see us plunged into a catastrophic regional war, with thousands of missiles raining down on Israel from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, because we missed the opportunity to talk to Bashar, regardless of his history, the way he exercises power, or the music he has on his iPod.

Shai, is it remotely possible, that Israel will be “plunged into a … regional war” no matter what she does?

For example, what if Israel negotiates with Syria (with no preconditions) while Syria continues to support Hezbollah? Is that an impossibility? And while the heat is off Syria’s back (becasue they’re negotiating), what if a heavily armed Hezbollah starts another war? What would you say about that? Isn’t that what Arafat was doing during the Oslo facade? The Left was sure QUIET during those lovely years – weren’t they?

For that matter, if Ahmedinejad suddenly offered to invite you, AP, to Tehran to discuss recognition of Israel with him – would you not go?

I would go. I would also go to visit Hamas and Hezbollah under the same circumstances. So I think the only thing missing is the invitation;)

Would you really first question his sincerity? We’ll never know the real intentions of anyone, just like they won’t know ours.

We disagree here. We know everyone’s intentions by their actions and their core beliefs none of which is a secret. And interestingly, only YOU, Shai, seem to be the only one “in the dark” regarding the intentions of Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and even Syria.

We want the cycle of violence to end, we want to be rid of our own Apartheid-style rule over the Palestinian people, and we want the Arabs to at last accept us in this region, just as we accept them.

I don’t consider Israel’s “rule” to be “apartheid-style”, especially when Israeli-Arabs have equal rights as Israeli Jews.

This can only happen if we withdraw to the 1967 lines. We don’t need to wait for human rights and freedom in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt. We can, and must, act now.

I disagree. Unilateral withdraw brought more violence on Israel from Gaza. I would wait for a formal peace treaty or deal with the status quo. Moreover, Israel didn’t “wait for human rights” in Jordan or Eygpt, so I’m not sure what you’re concerned about.

If you will agree with me about the urgency, and be willing to remove those preconditions, then I would be the first to support your (AP’s) going to represent Israel in the negotiations. And I mean that.

Thanks. Not being in the Israeli cabinet, I don’t really know what the “urgency” is nor do I know whether the enemy is sincere like, say, Sadat was. I trust Olmert and the chevrai know a bit more about this than we do.

Kol Tov,

AP

March 25th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

Here’s a “blast from the past”. Feel free to elaborate…

“Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it,” he said in an interview on Lebanese TV.

He added that neither side was “heading towards a second round” of fighting.

More than 1,000 Lebanese died in the 34-day conflict which left much of southern Lebanon in ruins.

The Israeli offensive began after two Israeli soldiers were seized, and eight killed, during a cross border raid by Hezbollah militants on 12 July.

Annan visit

“We did not think that there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war of this scale and magnitude,” Sheikh Nasrallah said.

“Now you ask me if this was 11 July and there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war like the one that has taken place, would you go ahead with the kidnapping?

I would say no, definitely not, for humanitarian, moral, social, security, military and political reasons.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5291420.stm

March 25th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

Thanks for the reply. You said a lot of things, I’ll try to respond to most if not all.

1) I think you’re right, Syria and Israel should sit down and start talking without any preconditions.

2) Of course, democracy would be preferable in Syria, but it isn’t about to happen, not in the near future. I believe AIG views it as a necessary condition to peace. Here I disagree with him.

3) When I say that time is not on our side, I don’t mean on Israel’s side, I mean on ALL of us. With time, the region is becoming less and less stable, and the likelihood for war is increasing substantially. While it is true that Israel, Syria, and maybe even Iran, do not have an interest in starting a regional war, I’m not sure we can say the same about Hamas, or HA. Plus, even if they too aren’t interested in a large scale conflict, I’m not sure they won’t miscalculate again (like Nasrallah did in summer 2006), and won’t lead to a process of action/reaction that’ll plunge us all into war. That’s my fear, when I say time is against us.

4) It is absolutely more than “remotely possible” that Israel will be plunged into war no matter what she does. I agree with you. Hence my fear about not taking advantage of the opportunity that may exist now, and letting time pass, as I mentioned above.

5) I disagree about the way you measure intentions. If intentions were measured purely by actions on the ground, neither you nor I could EVER convince a single Arab that Israel is interested in peace with the Palestinians. Because they would simply point to the continued settlements in the West Bank, to further building in E. Jerusalem, to the ongoing “choking” of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, etc. To you and I, some of those may be attributed to other reasons, while we view ourselves as peaceful people. But to the Arabs, all of those are the clearest indication of our “true intentions”, which are the opposite of peace. I don’t mean to say that Nasrallah is really trying to send us peaceful messages with each missile, or that Ahmedinejad is meaning to say “let’s wipe Israel’s floors”. But to assume that Assad is not interested in peace because of his support of Iran, HA, and Hamas, could be a mistake. I believe he can do both – opt for peace, but also prepare for war. In fact, if you or I were in his shoes, I’m not sure we would act any differently, even while we would be hoping for peace.

6) My use of the term “Apartheid-style” was not meant towards the Arab-Israelis, though I do believe we’re often treating them as second-rate citizens. I meant the way our army is treating the Palestinians in the occupied territories. I was there, and unfortunately I saw and felt it. And it is continuing while I type these very words… It has to end, so that you and I can look ourselves in the mirror, and not be ashamed.

7) I completely agree with you about unilateral withdrawals. I too am against them, as we’ve seen in Lebanon, and in Gaza. I’m not suggesting in the least that we should repeat these mistakes. That’s why we need to start with the Golan, returning it only when we sign a peace treaty with Syria, and when we can do the same with the Palestinians (i.e. when there’s someone that can deliver peace, not only receive territory), with the West Bank.

8) While you may not be a member of Knesset right now, do not rule out future possibilities… 🙂 The fact that you are obviously concerned about the future of this region, and of your country, and are putting in so much effort trying to work it out, very likely demonstrates your ability to very much represent at least a part of our people. Unfortunately, many in our Knesset don’t do half of what you’re doing… and that’s a real shame.

March 25th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

AP and Shai,

Very interesting discussion.

Two comments below followed by queries of your opinion.

C1. Based on widespread news reports in Lebanon following the July 2006 war, reports reinforced by constant repetition to the point that they seem to be accepted (rightly or wrongly) by many in Lebanon (including the followers of General Aoun), the claim is that Israel had long been preparing for a major offensive against HA to try and permanently disable its military capabilities. According to those reports, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers was but a convenient excuse to launch this planned offensive. The implication, of course, is that it was not self-defense by Israel that led to the July war but a premeditated plan that was simply waiting for a convenient trigger.

Q1. What is the opinion in Israel on this? Do you think it’s a valid claim?

C2. If the public pronouncements of HA that their own issue with Israel is threefold and not more:
(a) liberation of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails
(b) return of the Shebaa farms to Lebanon
(c) providing the map of land mines placed in Southern Lebanon

Q2. What does Israel have to lose in calling their bluff — if indeed a bluff it is — and satisfying those conditions in a fair manner by
(a) effecting the liberation in exchange for full release of any and all Israelis or Israeli remains in HA’s possession
(b) agreeing to cede the Shebaa farms to a UN administration until their identity (Lebanese or Syrian) is determined
(c) — this is a humanitarian request and should be honored regardless of other conditions unless those maps don’t exist (in which case an admission and a pledge to assist in landmine clearing should be offered) ?

March 25th, 2008, 7:16 pm

 

Shai said:

TOPOV,

A1: In the period since summer 2006, I was out of Israel only once or twice. During this entire time, from what I heard and saw, essentially no discourse existed on the notion that this war was a premeditated plan. While it is true, and known, that the IDF has always had (and always has) “plans in the drawer”, including offensive ones, as far as I know, the interpretation of most here in Israel of events as they unfolded was that incursion into Lebanon was purely defensive, in reaction to HA’s kidnapping of our soldiers. Having said that, the minute we started bombarding Lebanon proper, hitting Lebanese infrastructure, Beirut suburbs, roads, etc., there was a beginning of public pressure demanding an explanation as to the offensive (no longer defensive) nature of these acts. Though most readers here will not believe, or be terribly impressed by this fact (and I can understand them), there was actually real concern amongst many Israelis as to the suffering of innocent Lebanese. Course, that didn’t help stop the killing of some 1,500 of them, unfortunately.

A2: I completely agree with your idea of “calling HA’s bluff”. I think, however, that it needs to be done in conjunction with talks with Syria. There’s no doubt that Syria has influence over HA (even if not total), and if Syria has an interest in quieting things down, so that we can restart talks, then HA will most likely play along. We need to return the prisoners, to return Shebaa Farms, and of course inform the Lebanese about any and all land mines within their territory. The sooner we can do these things, the better.

March 25th, 2008, 7:31 pm

 

Observer said:

KSA and Egypt not going to Damascus and the Lebanese are not going either. The summit is going to be very good for Syria as the absence of these players will open the field to economic discussions and avoid politics.

Now while 4 million Iraqis are refugees and displaced, more than 600 000 have perished since 2003, the KSA confers the highest honor on Darth Vader. It is very good that the king and the laughing cow are not going to Damascus.

March 25th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

Majhool said:

As far as I know there is only one 5 star hotel in Syria (The Four Season) So I am not sure where Massoud came with 1500 rooms number.

March 25th, 2008, 10:25 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji said:

The fact is, Syria believes (rightly or wrongly) that an independent and democratic Lebanon is our best bet at this point… they believe that in an independent and democratic Lebanon many of its Lebanese friends and natural allies would have a bigger say, …that HA, Aoun, Frenjieh, etc. would have a greater share of power, if not full control…

Naji, I don’t buy this. I think Syria would like to see its allies in control in Lebanon, and perhaps this would come about through free and fair elections, this time around. It’s impossible to say. If a parliamentary election were held tomorrow, who knows? Hizbullah and Aoun might come out on top, or we might end up with a parliament split down the middle. No way of knowing.

However, the immediate outcome of an election is beside the point, if we’re talking about “an independent and democratic Lebanon.” Why? Because such a Lebanon provides no guarantees that it will continue to be as useful to Syria in the future.

Let’s imagine that what you’re proposing comes to pass. Hizbullah and Aoun acquire a stronger share of power. Four years go by in a heartbeat. Syrian-Israeli peace talks have made some headway, but they are nowhere near an agreement. Israel isn’t offering enough; another intifada has erupted in Gaza. Syria can’t be seen to be negotiating under the circumstances, etc (In short, business as usual in the Middle East, i.e. stagnation). Meanwhile, in Lebanon, people are growing uneasy again about Hizbullah’s weapons, as they did between 2000 and 2005 (and this includes the Aounists, who are perpetually uneasy about HA’s weapons). A parliamentary election is looming, and Syria’s former “allies” are not so diehard anymore. In the meantime, the cards have been reshuffled and new alliances are cropping up, as they constantly do in Lebanon. What will Syria do then?

As I said to Georges, an independent and democratic Lebanon is not what Syria wants right now. Syria wants a Lebanon that is coordinating perfectly with Syria’s strategy, and who could blame her? Nobody likes a spoiler.

March 26th, 2008, 2:02 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hoss for Ranking Arab Participation in the Damascus Summit to Engage Syria

By Dalia Nehme

Ex-Premier Salim Hoss on Tuesday urged Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Lebanese government to take part in the forthcoming Arab Summit to “confront … and corner” Syria.

If Syria is truly blocking the presidential election and playing a pan-Arab role that is not in the interest of Lebanon “then these are reasons that urge us to participate (in the summit) … because dialogue is among foes and not among allies or friends,” Hoss said.

He noted that the Arabs are urged to go into dialogue with Israel “the enemy of the homeland and the nation to achieve some sort of a settlement, so why don’t we go into dialogue with Syria?”

“I’m not defending Syria, maybe it is responsible for hampering the situation,” he explained.

Hoss, in an interview with Naharnet, declared support “for electing a president and implementing the Arab initiative … to the letter.”

read the rest

March 26th, 2008, 2:15 am

 

norman said:

QN,

Do you think that Lebanon is not coming to Syria because it thinks that Syria will be representing Lebanon , so there is no need for the expense.

March 26th, 2008, 2:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai’s answers/comments, my reply:

3) When I say that time is not on our side, I don’t mean on Israel’s side, I mean on ALL of us. With time, the region is becoming less and less stable, and the likelihood for war is increasing substantially.

Unfortunately Shai, whereas this may be true, it hasn’t been proven (to my satisfaction) “the likelihood for war” has anything to do with George Bush and/or Israel. I think we part on this point/issue. I believe the “likelihood for war” has more to do with the Arab governments, their clergy, and their government controlled media. I know I’m the lone voice in this regard, but I stand firm in my opinion.

While it is true that Israel, Syria, and maybe even Iran, do not have an interest in starting a regional war, I’m not sure we can say the same about Hamas, or HA.

I don’t buy your claim that Syria and Iran “do not have an interest in starting a regional war”.

Plus, even if they too aren’t interested in a large scale conflict, I’m not sure they won’t miscalculate again (like Nasrallah did in summer 2006), and won’t lead to a process of action/reaction that’ll plunge us all into war. That’s my fear, when I say time is against us.

In a world of anger, despotism, rule-by-force, no freedom-of-speech, poverty, government controlled media, and terrorism, miscalculations happen ALL THE TIME, because no one is accountable AND, chaos always benefits the despot du jour. Ma la’asot?

Hence my fear about not taking advantage of the opportunity that may exist now, and letting time pass, as I mentioned above.

Tell me what Israel needs to do Shai to avert the impending doom. Israel, sometimes, doesn’t always have the answer.

Because they would simply point to the continued settlements in the West Bank, to further building in E. Jerusalem, to the ongoing “choking” of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, etc.

How many settlements were there in Gaza? How many are there today?

Frankly, the settlement issue is a “red-herring”. They can be dismantled in weeks. The question (as you mentions before) is what CBM (confidence building measures) should both sides be doing to reach a point where a final solution can be reached?

Israel’s evacuation of Lebanon and then Gaza was answered by more war, the opposite of CBMs. If Israel withdraws from land, what could be a better CBM? Takhlis…

But to assume that Assad is not interested in peace because of his support of Iran, HA, and Hamas, could be a mistake. I believe he can do both – opt for peace, but also prepare for war.

OK, please inform me how you came to that conclusion.

I meant the way our army is treating the Palestinians in the occupied territories. I was there, and unfortunately I saw and felt it. And it is continuing while I type these very words… It has to end, so that you and I can look ourselves in the mirror, and not be ashamed.

I travelling in the West Bank and Gaza years ago before the intifadas. In the 70s and 80s. Now it is 2008. There is mutual recognition despite whatever the PLO Convenant states. The notion of two states is the present reality. But we’re not there yet, and unfortunately the dangers are equally real. Half of the Palestinians want to continue their jihad until your “Zionist Project” is no longer.

Therefore, I suggest our opinions much closer than you once thought. And so I wonder if you really need to convince ME of anything. Perhaps you need to convince that half of the Palestinian people that they shouldn’t waste their money, their children, and the hope on eradicating Israel.

Good Luck.

I completely agree with you about unilateral withdrawals. I too am against them, as we’ve seen in Lebanon, and in Gaza.

Tov.

That’s why we need to start with the Golan, returning it only when we sign a peace treaty with Syria, and when we can do the same with the Palestinians (i.e. when there’s someone that can deliver peace, not only receive territory), with the West Bank.

Tov mispar schtiyim.

While you may not be a member of Knesset right now, do not rule out future possibilities… The fact that you are obviously concerned about the future of this region, and of your country, and are putting in so much effort trying to work it out, very likely demonstrates your ability to very much represent at least a part of our people. Unfortunately, many in our Knesset don’t do half of what you’re doing… and that’s a real shame.

The Knesset is a sad thing. The political parties care more about their money and influence more than the safety of their country. So many things I would do to correct this sad state of affairs (if I were Israeli). I can only pray that brave and honest Israelis will replace the assholes that congregate there today.

Regards,

AP

March 26th, 2008, 4:47 pm

 

Shai said:

AP,

Again thanks for taking the time with such an in-depth response. I must tell you that I very much respect and commend you for the way you are discussing these issues with me, someone whom you’d otherwise call a “dreamer”, or a “liberal”, etc. This is exactly the way discourse should be conducted between parties that truly care about peace, and want to achieve it one day.

Now to the heart of it. I agree, there now seems to be less of a reason to convince each other. Two last comments, therefore:

First, I agree, Israel doesn’t always have the answer. The only thing we might be able to do, in order to avert this possible impending doom, is to grab what seems to be the only promising opportunity that exists as we speak – Syria. Never in the history of nation has an enemy reached out asking to make peace, like Syria is, without first going through a terrible war. Must we wait for Bashar to board a plane and come to Jerusalem only 4 years AFTER we fight a catastrophic regional war (i.e. 1973-1977)? Why can’t we do everything possible, to invite him NOW? Or at least to start talking to him, and maybe by some miracle of god, sign a peace treaty with him 12 months from now?

Second, how did I reach the conclusion that Assad is indeed interested in peace, but is also preparing for war? Simple – firstly, because he essentially says so himself, and secondly, because if you or I were in Syria’s shoes, we’d do exactly the same. The only way to accept that, is to truly look the glass through our enemy’s eyes. If the entire world was isolating me, if the last remaining super-power was undermining my role in the region, and was doing everything it could, together with its moderate allies in the region to topple my regime, and if my strongest enemy was sending mixed messages, while preparing his military for war, and violating my own sovereignty by attacking sensitive installations and assassinating my allies on my territory, I too would be preparing for the worst. And, since Syria’s army is not equal to that of Israel’s, and missiles are pretty much the only strategic threat I could pose upon my enemy, I would most certainly add to my capabilities also alliances with Iran, HA, and Hamas. That way, I can always “hint” to my enemy that while he may be able to destroy my cities and towns, I too can bring upon him terrible suffering, both in conventional ways, as well as unconventional ones (terrorism, for instance).

Until that last t is crossed, and the last i is dotted, on the peace agreement between Israel and Syria, no side can be expected to even consider ceding any of its strategic or tactical capabilities. Though this doesn’t sit well with our wishes and dreams, we must be realistic enough to understand it, and therefore accept it and work with and around it. That’s what it’s like having a formidable enemy. And that’s what making peace with one will entail. Still, it is Syria that is reaching out to us now (our dream for almost 6 decades), and we cannot afford to wait. That offer could be rescinded, let’s not forget.

March 26th, 2008, 7:25 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Again thanks for taking the time with such an in-depth response. I must tell you that I very much respect and commend you for the way you are discussing these issues with me, someone whom you’d otherwise call a “dreamer”, or a “liberal”, etc. This is exactly the way discourse should be conducted between parties that truly care about peace, and want to achieve it one day.

I agree. I think our discussion is going better, because we are finding common ground. You are willing to defend your right to a Jewish State called Israel, and I am promoting that Israel make difficult decisions for peace.

Of course, how we eventually get there….well, that’s open for discussion.

Never in the history of nation has an enemy reached out asking to make peace, like Syria is, without first going through a terrible war.

I disagree. Eygpt and Jordan both “reached out” miles more than the Syrians have.

Must we wait for Bashar to board a plane and come to Jerusalem only 4 years AFTER we fight a catastrophic regional war (i.e. 1973-1977)?

No. Israel and Syria both “felt each other out” not so long ago, and each side came to the conclusion that the price was not worthwhile. The peace treaty with Syria will be quite different than the peace treaty with Eygpt. There is no natural land barrier like the Sinai desert to help isolate the two countries.

In any case, I don’t have the time to discuss this in further detail, so I will try to provide my observations on a more recent thread.

March 27th, 2008, 10:54 am

 

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