News Round Up (27 April 2008)

Qifa Nabki writes:

A few interesting discussions on the main Aounist blog, FPM Forum.

1. Analysis of the likely electoral outcomes of two different laws, i.e. 1960 vs. a proportional law like that of the Boutros Commission. (The first gives the opposition 59 seats; the latter would net 68). In either case, we’re not talking about a landslide: scenario 1 is not even a majority, and scenario 2 is a very slim one. Compromise will be the order of the day, no matter what.

2. FPM attitudes about Hizbullah’s arms. Interestingly, the recurrent theme is: we want them to disarm and integrate, but not before the Palestinian camps are disarmed.

3. Brief discussion of Saad Hariri’s off-the-cuff statement about his support for the 1960 law and his pledge NOT to nationalize the Palestinians. The originator of the thread says that he believes that if the majority can commit to these two points, the opposition would elect Suleiman as president. The nationalization issue is the big one for the FPMers, it seems.

In the meantime, Jumblatt has openly broken ranks with March 14 about joining Berri’s dialogue, so he must know something… He seems to be single-handedly trying to change the majority’s stance vis-a-vis a compromise with the opposition.

QN on Hizbullah's future as a political party:

I have a lot of hopeful optimism (and some confidence) in Hizbullah's future as a political party, provided that certain leaders in the movement remain alive, and that the relationship with the FPM proves to be an enduring one.

To give you an example of what I mean, after the Hariri assassination, the international media was glowing with coverage on the so-called "Cedar Revolution", and its gorgeous almond-eyed minxes with their red tanktops on the covers of the NYT, WashPost, etc. It was truly a made for TV revolution (which doesn't detract from the sincerity of its million-plus participants, in my opinion… it's not our fault if Lebanese women are good looking).

But to me, what is far more interesting was Hizbullah's response. The pro-Syria rallies were, at first, decidedly lo-fi in the way of marketing. The banners and publicity materials harkened back to the martyrdom poster school of self-branding (referred to in the article you posted). However, since 2005, Hizbullah has ramped up its publicity wing to the point that it seriously rivals that of March 14. Their materials now are much sharper, smarter, and embody a real nationalist flavor. To me, it seems clear that the ship has been pointed towards a new horizon.

But they can't just drop their guns and run. They need political guarantees, security guarantees… it's going to be a long transition period, and of course everything depends on the regional security situation.

Fatfat says Jumblatt won't break ranks  Daily Star

Test Hamas' offer of a 10-year truce
By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Hamas' offer of a 10-year truce with Israel sincere? Is it a plausible gesture that should be carefully studied as a possible prelude to a comprehensive peace?

Hamas clearly is sending strong signals that it is prepared to play the diplomatic game – but not at any price, as Fatah and Yasser Arafat did for years. Hamas' offer of a long-term truce with Israel is neither permanent peace nor recognition of Israel. Those might follow from future negotiations, but only if Palestinians enjoy their equal national rights simultaneously, and this requires rules of the diplomatic game that are more even-handed.

Two pertinent issues are involved here. The first is whether Islamist movements like Hamas, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood can be trusted and taken at their word when they speak of accepting democratic pluralism or negotiating with Israel. Many in Israel, the West and parts of the Arab world view these groups as insincere opportunists and deceitful tricksters who will speak the language of democracy and peace while actually planning to grab power and turn the region into one large Islamic theocracy or Iranian puppet theater….

Israel Open to Meeting With Syrians
By REUTERS, April 27, 2008

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel would be open to participating in a senior-level meeting with the Syrians brokered by Turkey to test the waters for renewed peace negotiations, Israeli officials said on Sunday.

Such a preliminary meeting between Israeli and Syrian representatives would be the next step in mediation efforts by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who held talks over the weekend with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the officials said.

That meeting could lay the groundwork for more formal talks in the future, Israeli officials said, though Erdogan could face an uphill task bringing the two sides to formal negotiations before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office next January…..

Assad says facility Israel bombed not nuclear-paper 
DUBAI, April 27 (Reuters)

The Syrian site Israel bombed in September was not part of a nuclear weapons programme, but was a military facility under construction, President Bashar al-Assad said in remarks published on Sunday.

Last week, Washington released intelligence alleging Syria had built a nuclear reactor with North Korean help before an Israeli air strike destroyed the facility on Sept. 6.

"Is it logical? A nuclear site did not have protection with surface to air defences? A nuclear site within the footprint of satellites in the middle of Syria in an open area in the desert?" Assad told Qatar's al-Watan newspaper in an interview conducted before the U.S. accusations were made.

At that stage, he was commenting on media reports that said the target was a nuclear site. "The truth is that the raid was at a military site under construction," Assad said in the interview. "We are against mass destruction weapons for Israel, Iran or others."

Assad said it was illogical for Syria to seek a nuclear bomb. "Where would we use it? On Israel it would kill the Palestinians. I do not see this as logical."

Assad accused Washington of ignoring a Syrian proposal to make the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction "because it included Israel".

In 2003, when Syria was a member of the United Nations' Security Council, the Arab state pushed for a ban on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East in what was seen than as a bid to shine a spotlight on Israel's arsenal.

Israel is believed to have about 200 nuclear warheads but the country's policy is not to discus the issue — which some diplomats say is an open secret.

Speaking after the U.S. accusations, Syria's ambassador to the United States dismissed as "a fantasy" the U.S. allegations.

Assad said he did not know why Israel, officially at war with Syria since the 1973 Middle East conflict, bombed the site.

"Why did they raid it, we do not know what data they had, but they know and they see through satellites; they have raided an incomplete site that did not have any personnel or anything. It was empty," he added.


Asked about Syria's response, Assad said: "Retaliation does not mean a missile for a missile, a bomb for a bomb or a bullet for a bullet … They (Israelis) understand what we mean. We do not say that we will retaliate, i.e. we will bomb."

"You have to ask a different question; had Syria not been harming Israeli policy would Israel have carried out an operation of this sort? The truth is that we have the means to respond, but in our own way."

"We understand Israel wants to provoke Syria and possibly to drag Syria into war while we do not seek war. We have been clear about this point. We have other means and we do not necessarily have to declare them."

Assad refused to answer a question about reports that Syria was seeking to acquire Russian missiles.

"If there was a door open, even if it was small, for peace you should not seek war but you should seek to defend yourself. Now are you prepared or not, psychologically we are always ready and constantly prepare ourselves, but in terms of results no one knows results until the battle itself."

Watan ran part of the interview on Thursday in which he said Damascus was ready to negotiate with Israel through Turkey to "find common ground" for peace, but any direct talks must wait until a new U.S. president is elected.

Syria says it received word from Turkey that Israel was willing to give back the occupied Golan Heights in full in return for peace with the Arab state — a key issue that led decade-long negotiations to falter in 2000. (Reporting by Summer Said; writing by Inal Ersan)

The Iraqi National Museum is welcoming home 701 artifacts stolen during the looting after Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003. Syrian authorities turned over items ranging from golden necklaces to clay pots that were seized by traffickers in the neighboring country. Iraqi officials say Syria is the first country to hand over a large quantity of stolen antiquities. They hope others will follow its lead as Iraq struggles to restore its rich cultural heritage after five years of war.

State moves to ban fake testicles on vehicles

Look no further! There is a color for your dually truck. There are two sizes to choose from! A small set of nutz and the wildly popular big bull balls. Not made in China yet! Truck Nutz are made in the U.S.A.

Netanyahu: PM promised Golan to Syria before talks ever began

Comments (156)

Qifa Nabki said:


So glad the Truck Nutz story made your news roundup.

Must be popular out in Okie country.

For a brief second, I thought that the “state” in question was the state of Syria. What would we call those things in Damascus?


April 27th, 2008, 10:07 pm


offended said:

QN, we’d call them ‘shabee7a’. Only the Shabee7as and the rednicks would do something like that!

Imagine this set of nuts dangling from the back of my Subaru and flailing around as I/it crawls in a traffic jam. Priceless!

April 27th, 2008, 10:14 pm


Zenobia said:

In Syria they would call those “micro-nuts”… or “epistazio nutz”, or “Ass add-on nutz” to go with your decal on the rear wind shield.

April 27th, 2008, 10:55 pm


T said:

I suppose the above is what you’d call ‘Syria subject matter’? since “this is not an Arab blog” as someone at SC scolded me.


On why the Israeli peace talks are hard to take seriously by some folks, no matter if presented in good cop or bad cop fashion. Because to a great extent, this policy has remained the same, though stylistically and PR wise it has undergone new twists over the past century-
“In this matter there is no difference between our “militarists” and our “vegetarians”. Except that the first prefer that the iron wall should consist of Jewish soldiers, and the others are content that they should be British. [though now it seems the Palestinians themselves are expected to protect the wall, my note]

We all demand that there should be an iron wall. Yet we keep spoiling our own case, by talking about “agreement” which means telling the Mandatory Government that the important thing is not the iron wall, but discussions. Empty rhetoric of this kind is dangerous. And that is why it is not only a pleasure but a duty to discredit it and to demonstrate that it is both fantastic and dishonest.”- from The Iron Wall documents

New York Times: October 13, 1911, Friday NOTE THE YEAR !!!
Page 18, 2126 words

ZION SEEKS NO MORE A SEPARATE STATE; Rather a Home in Palestine “in a Prosperous Ottoman Empire.” abs…9669D946096D6CF

April 27th, 2008, 11:32 pm


norman said:

T, Shai,

This seems promising ,

Envoy sees Syria-Israel accord soon
Publish Date: Monday,28 April, 2008, at 01:51 AM Doha Time

Staff Reporter
TURKEY is “really hopeful” that Syria and Israel will soon sign a peace deal that will ultimately “change the course of history”, Turkish Ambassador Mithat Rende told Gulf Times yesterday.
He said Turkish leaders had been fervently pursuing a proposal to make lasting peace between Israel and Syria by following the path of “quiet diplomacy”.
The proposal includes a deal wherein Israel will return to Syria the Golan Heights occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967. In return, Damascus and Tel Aviv will sign a peace treaty, it is learnt.
According to the ambassador, Turkish leaders have made many trips to Damascus carrying fresh proposals and new ideas.
“We have made it clear that it is not in anybody’s interest that Syria is isolated or alienated. The talks are being held at the highest levels, since the matter is of grave concern and the decisions have far-reaching consequences.”
Asked about the reasons for the high optimism in Turkish circles, the ambassador said Turkey “is considered a honest broker, who maintains equidistance between the two parties. We also have been consistent in our policies.”
Rende said peace efforts and development should go hand in hand.
“Durable peace is possible only with a change in the standard of living of the people. A poor population has a fertile mind, suitable for indoctrination by militant groups,” the envoy opined.

Back to Article

April 27th, 2008, 11:39 pm


T said:


What about the Hariri trial? Would that be dropped?

Regarding the latest IDF bombing of S Lebanon- In your post from prior page you said Hezb, Syria, Iran dont want to escalate. If Israel is really serious about Golan pullout- why do they keep up with these new, serious provocations which could easily escalate into war? How can we NOT be skeptical?

April 27th, 2008, 11:41 pm


norman said:


I think what Israel did last year of destroying the building in Syria was more to improve the morals of the Israeli Air force than destroying a nuclear reactor , if it was a nuclear reactor , the Us and Israel would have been more forthcoming ,I agree with Shai on this one , It might have been more related to North Korea than Syria ,

Israel needs to convince it’s people that it is strong and can defend itself without the Golan , even without all the West bank.

The Hariri Investigation will end with blaming Al qaeda if a deal is reached , we should remember that no direct blame at Syria so far and we are at our fourth year .

April 28th, 2008, 12:36 am


Qifa Nabki said:

This just in (thanks AIG)

North Koreans May Have Died in Israel Attack on Syria, NHK Says

By Tak Kumakura

April 28 (Bloomberg) — Ten North Koreans may have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Syria in September, NHK reported on its Web site, citing unidentified South Korean intelligence officials.

The 10 people, whose remains were cremated and returned to North Korea in October, had been helping with the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, Japan’s public broadcaster said. Some North Koreans probably survived the air attack, NHK said.

The U.S. government last week accused North Korea of helping Syria build a secret nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tak Kumakura in Tokyo at
Last Updated: April 27, 2008 18:48 EDT

April 28th, 2008, 1:37 am


Honest Patriot said:


Is it fair to say that Yigal Amir’s assassination of Yitzhak Rabin set back the peace date in the ME at least some 15 years? It may perhaps take more like 20 years before Bibi matures to the level of wisdom of Rabin and become a positive agent towards peace. I have always held hope that Netanyahu would evolve sooner, thinking even (perhaps too naively) that he could be the “Sadat of Israel” and surprise everyone with a masterful catalytic move towards peace. It hasn’t happened. At least not yet. And to believe AIG I’m just too naive to even think this could happen. Not for a while. What say you?

April 28th, 2008, 1:39 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Here’s the full story from NHK:

North Koreans reportedly killed in Israeli raid

NHK has learned that North Korean officials are thought to have been killed in the Israeli air strike on a Syrian nuclear facility last September.

Last week, the US government announced there is a high possibility the Syrian facility was intended for nuclear weapons development. The United States criticized North Korea for cooperating with Syria in its construction.

Experts in South Korea say that among the dead were officials of a military unit under North Korea’s Workers’ Party. Troops from another military unit that built nuclear facilities in North Korea are also said to have been killed. The sources say the remains were cremated in Syria and taken to North Korea the following month.

The party unit is said to deal exclusively with export of weapons and military technology, and takes its orders directly from North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Its activities are believed to be an important source of much-needed foreign currency for North Korea.

A few North Korean officials survived the air raid but their whereabouts are unknown. South Korean authorities are continuing to collect and analyze information on the case.

2008/04/28 06:36

April 28th, 2008, 1:42 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

After Rabin was murdered, Peres was the PM till the elctions 8 months later. Peres was committed to the peace process. He lost the elections to Netanyahu because in the 8 months there was a huge string of suicide bombings that Arafat did not stop. I voted for Rabin but lost all trust in the peace process in the intermin period after his death when Arafat proved that he wanted to reach a deal through terror and not negotiation.

Even if Rabin would not have been murdered, he would have likely lost the next election. His majority was just 1 MP but he actually lost in the popular vote. In reality the right had more voters but because two small right wing parties did not have an agreement for dividing extra votes (beyond what is needed for a full MP) the left got those votes.

There is 0 and I mean absolute 0 chance that the left can make a coalition in Israel in the next 10 years that is behind any thing resembling Oslo.

April 28th, 2008, 2:03 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

What do you all make of Franklin Lamb’s stuff? His recent three part article in CounterPunch contains some very detailed allegations about Israeli cluster bombs, in particular, that he seems to have got straight from a disgruntled inside source in the Pentagon.

April 28th, 2008, 2:08 am


T said:


There is another reason why this Syria peace deal rings foul. In addition to your highly plausible explanation that latest Israeli act of war against yet another country was “to up Israel’s morale” (completely outrageous and yet believable) is the escalating rate of settlements. And again- was the S Lebanon bombing last week to test air defenses of Hezb or what? Or another ‘morale booster’? The brazeness of these repeated outlaw actions is breathtaking. There seems literally nothing they can not get away with. (Maybe I should just “be positive” for the sake of certain airheads on the blog and not notice such major “negative” incidents, any of which could easily explode into regional war?) Especially as the risky bombings/violations keep happening.

Also- getting the Golan may flip Syria, but who is traded off? The Palestinians of course are always expendable, even by Hezbollah who uses them as much as everybody else, despite their Quds rhetoric.

But the crown on the cake it seems, would be that Iran soon stands alone, marginalized, isolated and ripe for attack. Hope I’m wrong, but NATO is in place.

April 28th, 2008, 2:20 am


norman said:


All this peaceful talks could be just talk for a surprise attack on Iran , i would not be very surprised if the US attacks Iran before the end of president’s Bush term ,

I do not think that Syria will never abandon the Palestinians , Hezbollah or Iran .

April 28th, 2008, 2:44 am


T said:


Wouldnt a condition of Golan retrieval be peeling away Syria from Hexbollah and Iran?

Ok, so if they are freed up for Iran attack. What then? We know it will be air/navy not ground invasion. Will the US troops in Iraq just be collateral write-offs? I really dont think Iran has much assymetric capability like they bluster about all the time. What would be the unmistakable red flags before hand?

If there actually is a troop drawdown in Iraq- could that be a sign of imminent attack?

Exclusive: First frank talk of potential war on Iran from top US soldier
April 26, 2008, Debkafiles

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Addressing a news conference in Washington, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday, April 25, the Pentagon is planning for “potential military courses of action” against Iran. He spoke of the Tehran government’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. A conflict with Iran would be “extremely stressing” he said, but not impossible and “it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability.” The admiral stressed the reserve capabilities of the Navy and Air Force.

Adm. Mullen’s statement came four days after US defense secretary Robert Gates said he favored keeping the military option against Iran on the table “given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat – either directly or through proliferation.”

DEBKAfile’s military sources report those remarks were underscored by news of large US naval, air and marine forces on their way to beef up the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources reported Friday that the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group has just taken up position in Persian Gulf waters. It consists of 12 warships led by the giant LSD-41 class USS Whidby Island landing craft, submarines and eight assault squadrons. The legend on their banner is: Give ‘em Hell.

Another nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, will soon set out for the region from the South China Sea, along with two more US naval strike forces: the USS Kitty Hawk and the USS Nimitz attended by strike groups.

Adm. Mullen went on to say: “I have no expectations that we’re going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future.” Our sources ask what time scale is indicated by the indefinite “immediate future” – the 8 months remaining to the Bush presidency or thereafter.

Mullen tied his remarks to Iran’s “increasingly lethal and malign influence” in Iraq. Of late, the US Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus pointed out that Iran is interfering increasingly in Iran and continues to arm insurgent militias.

The Tehran government is clearly not deterred by Washington’s warnings or its military movements

April 28th, 2008, 2:49 am


norman said:

T ,
I do not know what is going to happen but i doubt that the Bush will leave office with Iran able to master the nuclear Cycle,

I still think that Iran will not restrict it’s war to the US and Israel and might attack all the Gulf states , Iran has in it’s side the ability to fight for a long time that Israel and the US can not , the increase in the price of oil will destroy the world economy especially the US and the EU ,

Many bad things will take place but that will not prevent the US from attacking first and thinking later ,

Syria will leave a clause probably to prevent an attack on Iran or Hezbollah from Israel,

April 28th, 2008, 3:11 am


T said:


My gut instinct agrees with you totally on this. But those most affected still seem clueless.

In my talks with Iranians, many still seem to actually believe “it is too crazy/illogical for US-IS to attack Iran.” They still dont get it.

Well Israel has found a way to implicate Iran in the Deir Ez Zor nuke allegations afterall!! Maybe they’re taking suggestions from SC- where it was speculated that fake charges of “Iran nuke transfers to Syria could make a neat casus belli” ?!!?

“Tehran therefore funded the North Korean reactor in Syria.”
——Not satire, please read the following—-

Analysis: Assad’s one half-truth and three lies to al Watan
April 27, 2008, Debkafile

Elements of the Syrian-North Korean reactor’s cooling system
In an interview Sunday, April 27 with the Qatari daily al Watan , Syrian president Bashar Assad said: “We don’t want a nuclear bomb, even if Iran acquires one.” DEBKAfile’s military sources say that was only half true.

What he omitted to mention was the division of labor agreed between Damascus and Tehran in a potential war against Israel: The Syrian reactor Israel destroyed last September would produce “dirty weapons,” while Iran would go for a nuclear bomb. Tehran therefore funded the North Korean reactor in Syria. The radiological weapons made there were to be distributed to the terrorist organizations fighting Israel and used as leverage to control them.

“How would we use it? And where? No nuclear bomb has been used since World War II,” the Syrian ruler protested in the interview – three days after intelligence of his plutonium reactor weeks away from operation was presented to US congressmen in Washington.

Our military sources stress that a single radiological bomb released by just one terrorist group against a major Israeli city would have been an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Assad’s first outright lie was his insistence that future Middle East wars would be conventional. DEBKAfile’s sources point out that Syria and Iran have recently supplied the Lebanese Hizballah with surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads. And Syria’s own air defenses are composed of Scud C and D missiles able to deliver chemical and biological weapons.

His second lie was that the site Israel raided last year was no nuclear site but a military facility under construction. To prove his point, he asked: “Does it make sense that we would build a nuclear facility in the desert and not protect it with anti-aircraft defenses?”

Our sources note that the deployment of air defenses batteries, especially in a desolate corner of the Syrian Desert would have attracted immediate attention and betrayed its presence – even before the top-secret facility was functioning.

Assad’s third lie was the real point of the al Watan interview, although the least obvious: The Syrian ruler, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources, decided last week to bury the results of the inquiry into the death of Hizballah commander Imad Mughniyeh in February. That report accused Saudi undercover agencies of involvement in the murder together with the Israeli Mossad.

Saudi ire forced Assad to back away from this allegation. This he did in the interview when he declared that “no Arab hand” was found to have taken part in the Mughniyeh slaying.

The interview was therefore aimed more at placating Riyadh than highlighting the Syrian ruler’s issues with Israel

April 28th, 2008, 3:22 am


Shai said:


Quoting from some historical text of 70-100 years ago is probably not a very safe way to move forward. Look instead at what Norman does, listing endless articles from the present, that suggest reasons for optimism.

You know, you keep suggesting that if Israel is sincere about peace, why is it continuing to bomb Lebanon, attack Syria, occupy the Palestinians, etc. Well, Israelis are saying the exact same about Syria for instance. If serious about peace, why continue supporting HA, Hamas, or Iran? This is a vicious cycle that must end with peace, not with arguments or court of law. Until that last “i” is dotted, and the last “t” is crossed, on the peace agreement, fighting will continue. There’s real fighting going on over there T, not just Israeli planes attacking poor little Arab targets. There’s actually a two-sided conflict out there, not one-sided as you’d like to believe. Yes, Israel is by far the stronger side. But it won’t stop, until it has a reason to stop. And the ONLY reason is peace, not justice, I’m afraid.

April 28th, 2008, 5:28 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

oh, well DEBKAfile, hahaha … people incessantly claim that they are a front for some sort of Mossad-based expert propaganda project, but to me they seem much more like a front for a project based in the IDF intelligence arm, ‘Aman’.

April 28th, 2008, 5:43 am


MSK said:

Ya QN,

Here a few things that makes one go “Hmmmm …”

Assad Not Worried about Hariri Tribunal

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he is not worried about the international tribunal to try suspects in the killing of former Premier Rafik Hariri.

“We are neither concerned nor worried about the tribunal,” Assad said in an interview published by Qatar’s Al Watan daily on Sunday.

Assad denied any deal over the Hariri tribunal.

On the assassination of top Hizbullah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Assad said that the “investigation is still underway and could take some time.”

Assad, however, assured that no Arab country is involved in Mughniyeh’s murder.

Assad announced that he will visit Riyadh and Cairo soon in his capacity as president of the Arab League, adding that there is “no dispute” between Syria and the pro-U.S. camp – Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“It’s a mere misunderstanding,” Assad said.

Israel: UNIFIL hiding info about Hezbollah from Security Council

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is intentionally concealing information about Hezbollah activities south of the Litani River in Lebanon to avoid conflict with the group, senior sources in Jerusalem have said. In the last six months there have been at least four cases in which UNIFIL soldiers identified armed Hezbollah operatives, but did nothing and did not submit full reports on the incidents to the UN Security Council.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry are reportedly very angry about UNIFIL’s actions in recent months, especially about the fact that its commander, Major General Claudio Graziano, is said to be leniently interpreting his mission, as assigned by Security Council Resolution 1701, passed at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Senior IDF officials said recently behind closed doors that Graziano is “presenting half-truths so as to avoid embarrassment and conflict with Hezbollah,” and that Resolution 1701 has been increasingly eroded in recent months.

A senior government source in Jerusalem said that, “There is an attempt by various factors in the UN to mislead the Security Council and whitewash everything having to do with the strengthening of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.” The source also said, “The policy of cover-ups and whitewashing will not last long and, hopefully, now that the concealing of information has been revealed, things will change.”

Israeli anger reached boiling point over a week ago after the release of a new report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with regard to another Lebanon-related Security Council resolution, 1559. The report briefly mentioned an incident at the beginning of March in which UNIFIL soldiers encountered unidentified armed men, and included no additional details. Officials in Israel, familiar with the incident, reportedly were aware that the Security Council had not been apprised of numerous details of the incident.

A day after the release of the report, Haaretz revealed that the incident described in the report had actually been a clash between UNIFIL and armed Hezbollah activists. The latter, driving a truck full of explosives, threatened the Italian UNIFIL battalion with weapons. Instead of using force as required by their mandate, the UN soldiers abandoned the site. A diplomatic source at the UN told Haaretz that senior officials in UNIFIL and in the UN Secretariat brought heavy pressure to bear to have the incident erased from the report or at least to blur it.

When the incident was made public, UNIFIL was forced to admit that it had indeed occurred and to request Lebanon’s assistance in investigating it. UNIFIL spokeswoman Yasmina Bouziane said that during the incident, which took place near the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, five armed men had threatened UNIFIL troops. Bouziane said the identity of the armed men was uncertain.

A day later, a second report was transmitted to the Security Council on the matter, this time including all the details. However, the report stated that this was the first incident of its kind. According to a security source in Israel, this was a misrepresentation; he said that in fact there had been many similar incidents in the past. A response from UNIFIL with regard to Israel’s claims was unobtainable.

French Delegate Tells His Kidnapping Story … Hizbullah Justifies Detention

A French delegate to a Socialist International meeting in Beirut described his captivity in a windowless cell by armed men who “spoke on behalf of Hizbullah.” Hizbullah justified his detention, saying it was motivated by security concerns.

At a press conference hosted by Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, French politician Karim Pakzad said he was kept isolated in a small cell for five hours.

“I banged against the walls so that maybe someone could hear me,” Pakzad said from the Bristol Hotel in Beirut.

He said that he was taken blindfolded to an unidentified location where his captors took away his cell phone, wallet and medicine.

Pakzad said the kidnapping happened as he was touring the capital in an open-top car with a Lebanese friend and taking pictures of a mosque along the airport road, near Hizbullah’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

“Armed men asked us ‘why do you have a camera?’ and ‘what are you doing here?'” before viewing the pictures he had taken with his digital camera, Pakzad said.

Hizbullah acknowledged the kidnapping, saying it was motivated by security concerns.

A statement issued by the group said Hizbullah militants had detained Pakzad and questioned him to ensure that he was not an Israeli.

“Once we were sure that the Frenchman and his companion were not Israelis we had no problems” with them, the statement said.

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is Israel’s public enemy number one and the movement operates stringent security measures in its Beirut stronghold, requiring even news photographers to seek prior permission.

So … it IS true what they say about Italian tanks: They have 6 gears – one for driving forward, and five for driving backward.

But then, nothing’s to worry: the Hariri tribunal got the OK from Duktuur Bashar, Mughniyeh was NOT killed by the Jordanian-Saudi traitors (still leaving Iran & HA as suspects, though, as the latter isn’t an Arab “state” ;)), and the Syrian-Egyptian/Saudi brouhaha was nothing but a misunderstanding. Phewwwww …

As for that kidnapping – no comment.


April 28th, 2008, 6:38 am


T said:


Quoting a text from 70-100 years ago – when it sounds like it came from the mouth of certain Knesset leaders and rabbis circa 2008, is quite relevant. The tactics, philosophy and aims have been adapted to contemporary use of course, though the PR has been buffed up substantially. In fact I copped the tactic from Israel, which relentlessly quotes hsitory from hundreds of years back or decades back, vis a vis Hitler, WW2 etc to win its points and get its way on the world stage. Learn from the masters, as they say.

But there are certainly many present day examples to varying degree, and daily. (One on the Golan, makes me especially nervous):

Hezbollah and Hamas were reactions to Israel’s repeated land stealing. Israel was the cause and they, the effect. Not the other way around. If Israel is serious on peace- why not cut the ground out from under the resistance? Why not stop the settlements and eliminate the cause of the predictable effect- people’s resistance to the stealing of their property?

“There’s real fighting going on over there T, not just Israeli planes attacking poor little Arab targets. There’s actually a two-sided conflict out there, not one-sided as you’d like to believe. Yes, Israel is by far the stronger side. But it won’t stop, until it has a reason to stop…”

Gee Shai, I guess I was too naive to get that?!!? But I also cant get how rock-throwing little Arab targets are a worthy opponent vs F16s?

But we do agree certainly that the stronger will not cede power until made to do so. That is where Hezbollah comes in. The suspicious car crash of Khaled Meshaal’s top aid is already being called another Israeli provocation in the Mughniyeh mold- one that Hezbollah/Hamas “will be forced to retaliate for.” Oh brother… Lets hope they dont take the bait.

Inshallah, there will never be another nasty conflict in the region again. And if Syria-Israel sign a peace deal that goes through- it’ll be great news for all! And then you can patronize me all you like- and gloat. I wont retort back.

April 28th, 2008, 7:38 am


Shai said:


I certainly never intended to patronize you, despite our huge differences. And I don’t think gloating is something I usually do here on SC. Is it? One day, in’shalla, you’ll be able to tell between your friends and your foes. In the meantime, I’ll try to be a little less “manipulative” and “good cop”-like towards you…

April 28th, 2008, 9:06 am


T said:


I am in the minority here, so dont worry. I dont take the bickering personally. It is good debate practice (I literally cut my teeth on these issues arguing against folks from the JDL! (Now you know why I’m used to waging combat on SC) Its all in the paramilitary exposure- as AIG can probably verify. You are doing what you need to do- win hearts and minds. Brash talk and confrontation dont suit that very well, you are right.


I have heard Debka is an admitted intel site of former Mossad, AMAN, shin bet types working post-retirement.

On Franklin Lamb- I met him in Lebanon a while back. Seemed like a really decent man- did very good work on the the weapons used in the last Hezbollah war of 2006. However, I am on a Palestine elist of his and he sometimes unwittingly includes bogus info included in his updates. (The Reagan quote I posted here that QN discovered to be a hoax was one such example). Or maybe it gets added on by others on the Palestine blog. I agree with his politics though, and he seems genuinely concerned about the Palestinians. He is really making a positive contribution to the situation there.

His contacts that you refer to are from Congress, not Pentagon (though possibly from Pentagon through Congressional staffers, not sure.)

April 28th, 2008, 9:54 am


SimoHurtta said:

There’s actually a two-sided conflict out there, not one-sided as you’d like to believe. Yes, Israel is by far the stronger side. But it won’t stop, until it has a reason to stop. And the ONLY reason is peace, not justice, I’m afraid.

Shai one can’t achieve peace if the other side doesn’t want it. Of course the conflict is several sided if we watch actions now at the present time, what else. Should Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, Persians etc lay on their back and wait for Israeli Jewish troops, Jewish nukes and Jewish settlers? Counter moves by Arabs and Iranians are only natural, what else can Israelis expect.

Would there be a Hamas office in Damascus if Israel would had solved the Palestine problem 30 years ago? Would there be “military Hizbollah” if Israel had not occupied Lebanon? Suicide bombers “emerged” after Baruch Goldstein’s act. Would there have been the war of 1967 if there would not have been the war of 1956? Or 1973 if there had not been 1956 and 1967 wars. Would there have been intifada without settlements? ETC.

Israel is training Georgian special forces and Kurd guerilla armies. Do you Shai think that Russians and Turks have not noticed that and will not react in some ways sooner or later? Certainly it increases their desire to help directly and indirectly those against Israel. When finally in Gaza “emerge” modern anti tank weapons which make Merkawas as mowing coffins, who then to blame?


Hmmmm again an IDF mistake (number 10.892), do not blame us says IDF:

Israel Gaza raids kill mother, four children 09:45
12:02 IDF sources say Israel not to blame for strike in Gaza (Army Radio)

Well Shai, our concentration camp guard, do you join your unit when it is commanded when the real big street fights in Gaza begin? And they will begin if this escalates any further.

It is really disgusting to read these kind of constant news from Israel and then “listen” to somebody with bright eyes explaining we Israelis want peace for our children – stop that negative talk, understand us we are normal people – we want peace.

It is “amusing” to read normal Israeli news. One qassam rocket hit near a house. Two women treated for shock. Israeli defence minister says we retaliate.

Then we read about the retaliation. Reporters, children, mothers shot in masses by tanks shrapnel ammunition intended to kill so many as possible on a large area, aircraft missiles etc. Mistake, sorry says IDF, but the terrorists use family eating breakfast in their own living room as a human shield. An other IDF spokesperson says we have nothing to do with that killing.

Shai seriously speaking what should Palestinians do. They offer you r country a truce. You say not interested we do not speak with you. The next day your tanks storm in “searching for terrorists”. Come-on Shai will soft talk and “understanding the Israeli/Jewish paranoia” resolve this madness.

April 28th, 2008, 9:59 am


T said:


“It is really disgusting to read these kind of constant news from Israel and then “listen” to somebody with bright eyes explaining we Israelis want peace for our children – stop that negative talk, understand us we are normal people – we want peace”

Thank God someone else here gets it, thought I was the only one here to see. (Though I remember you were characterized as “spewing hatred” for making these realistic observations. Your comment about Shai’s counting sheep over a fence -that hit landmines when they jump to the other side drew particular fire. I thought it was quite witty).

April 28th, 2008, 10:17 am


Naji said:

Pariah Diplomacy
April 28, 2008

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.

In 2006, six months after the oppressive monarch was stripped of his powers, a cease-fire was signed. Maoist combatants laid down their arms and Nepalese troops agreed to remain in their barracks. Our center continued its involvement and nations — though not the United States — and international organizations began working with all parties to reconcile the dispute and organize elections.

The Maoists are succeeding in achieving their major goals: abolishing the monarchy, establishing a democratic republic and ending discrimination against untouchables and others whose citizenship rights were historically abridged. After a surprising victory in the April 10 election, Maoists will play a major role in writing a constitution and governing for about two years. To the United States, they are still terrorists.

On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza.

The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials.

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace:

Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press.

When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held.

Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed.

Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases.

Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank.

Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates.

In addition, Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public.

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

April 28th, 2008, 10:24 am


T said:


The word bigot is too good for the one who engineered the first Israeli peace deal, and set the precedent for all others to come.

Jimmy Carter is another Hitler! Or THE next Hitler!
(and one of the AIPAC Congressman is working to revoke his passport for his terrorist links to Hamas.)

April 28th, 2008, 10:31 am


Naji said:

Simo, T,
You guys are not being fair about our PPP “friend”… you forget that he loves Syria and Syrians, not the Palestinians… he feels sorry and guilty about the Palestinians, but wants to make peace with the Syrians… counting sheep on their way to slaughter… never renouncing Zionism or agreeing to go to a UN conference in South Africa about combating racism… thinks it is OK for Syria to have nukes, but cannot discuss giving the Palestinians their freedom and dignity until Hamas & Fatah stop bickering with each other and recognize the jewishness of Israel….

A mother and her four children are obliterated by a tank shell in this morning’s breakfast massacre… the “liberal” Ha’aretz reports 7 “killed” in Gaza…one soldier lightly hurt…! The story does not even make it to any of the main news outlets outside Israeli & Arabic ones… The “civilized world” seems to have lost its mind… and soul…!!

Oh, I cannot stand to read this nonsense anymore… I am moving to New Zealand… maybe Antartica…

April 28th, 2008, 10:49 am


Naji said:

About Carter engineering the first “peace” deal, I do not think that he is the one to blame… he was gullible, misguided, and biggoted at the time, perhaps…, but he seems to have grown in his comprehension and his morality since then… and is genuinely trying to do some good work… Even when others (like Rice, Bush, Olmert, Abbas, and their cohorts) try to unscrupulously take advantage of his work, his intentions seem well placed…!

April 28th, 2008, 11:01 am


Naji said:

Turkish FM: Israel-Syria peace agreement still a long way off

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Monday that there was still much to be achieved before any peace agreement could be reached between Israel and Syria.

Babacan told reporters that an agreement between the longtime
enemies requires strong political determination from both sides.
“We are still at the very beginning of the process,”

Another “Peace Process”…! Well, yes, we are “still a long way off” from peace… as far off as a Palestinian peace…!

April 28th, 2008, 11:41 am


SimoHurtta said:

I respect Shai’s peaceful attitude and some of his intentions very much on personal level, much more than AIG, IG or Akbar views and style. But I do not understand how the frequent demands “limiting” Israel criticism will help peace efforts in the region. Equally one could say do not critizize Iran and the Arab dictatorships so they can be democratic and privatize their oil resources. Or do not critizize China so Chinese will treat Tibetans better.

The more Israelis and outsiders critizize Israel the nearer peace will be and Arab nations can concentrate in lifting their democracy level without excuses and political “suitability “. Qassams and suicide bombers are symptoms of a disease and that disease is not cured by eliminating Qassams and suicide bombers. Or by demanding Palestinians to “behave” for ten years so we (Israel) might discuss about peace if we have time left from planning new settlements. By the way there are over 220 Jewish settlements in Palestinian area. If settlement are “facts on the ground” so is Palestinians need and will for resistance.


Syria bristles at US charges
By Sami Moubayed

April 28th, 2008, 11:54 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Please stop referring to other SC contributors as airheads and bimbos.

It is obvious from your comments that you think you’re quite the spymaster. But I’d like to remind you that some of us have experienced, directly and personally, the Israeli crimes that you only read about in the news and get all red-faced and indignant about. It’s not news to us, and we have earned our right to be as positive or as negative as we wish.


I thought about posting those articles, but then I was sure that you would!


April 28th, 2008, 12:35 pm


Naji said:

I understand what you are saying about Shai versus the others, and it is always in my nature to give people the benefit of any doubt, but when someone keeps insisting that the judeo-fascists need a couple of generations more in order to feel secure and trust their arab neighbors… to trust their Palestinian victims…as they continue the slaughter…! The absurdity, the self-defeating logic, the madness of it all… just tragically invisible to these clever people blinded by their “patriotism”, bigotry, and the obscene impunity bestowed upon them by their previous tormentors …!

Well, to paraphrase the late Edward Said (and Rime): I guess I am no longer in the mood to appreciate good intentions.

April 28th, 2008, 12:51 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Very interesting profile of Sami Gemayel, the heir apparent of the Kataeb Party. I’ve pasted some relevant excerpts below.

Heir Apparent
Gemayel scion reflects on his new role.
by David Kenner
NOW Lebanon

As the son of former Lebanese President and current Kataeb Higher President Amin Gemayel, nephew of President-elect Bashir Gemayel, and brother of former Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel, nobody can question his political pedigree. Nevertheless, for many of his formative political years, it did not appear to be a position that interested him.

Before the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon three years ago, Gemayel chose not to operate within the Syrian-controlled political parties. In 1998, he began organizing Kataeb students throughout Lebanon. The friends and networks created in these early years would eventually evolve into Loubnanouna. This organization, of which Gemayel was a member but not the head, maintained that Lebanon’s crises were grounded in systemic flaws within Lebanon’s political system. Loubnanouna members tried to take a broader, more intellectual approach to the challenges facing Lebanon, instead of confining themselves to the narrow political battles of the day. In doing so, they developed ideas that aimed to alter the heart of Lebanon’s political identity.

Loubnanouna faulted the concept of “consensual democracy,” enshrined in the Lebanese Constitution, for much of the country’s instability. Requiring a two-thirds majority to accomplish anything, they maintained, was a recipe for stagnation. In cases where no faction is able to achieve an overwhelming majority, the system breaks down – encouraging different groups to impose their will through force. The endless negotiations meant to resolve Lebanon’s presidential vacuum, and the violence that has accompanied it, has arguably proved Loubnanouna’s argument prescient.

…Like any son born into a powerful political family but nevertheless leery of political dynasties, Gemayel must face the paradox of fighting for liberal values – and being listened to primarily because of his last name. Much of his recent work has been focused on reforming the Kataeb’s internal structure. “We are working with a new team, to finally have this internal work done on all levels of the party – organizational, political, and theoretical levels,” he explained. “I think in a few weeks and months the Lebanese population will feel this change in the Kataeb.”

Gemayel has also not backed down on discussing the root causes of the Lebanese crisis, and being receptive to fundamental changes to the political system. “This destructive struggle is not going to end until we have a clear and courageous dialogue with each other on all important matters,” he argued. “We should acknowledge the results of this dialogue, and deal academically with these results…We should accept that we don’t have the same view of the state, and find a constitutional way to solve these problems.”

…The question remains: will Sami Gemayel change the Kataeb, or will the Kataeb change him? But there is also the chance that both parties can mutually benefit from their relatively new relationship. Politics, after all, is the “art of the possible” – a mixture of principles and pragmatism. If Sami Gemayel truly wants to reform the Lebanese political system, he will need the experience answering phone calls from distraught Zahle residents as much as he needs an intellectual understanding of the root causes of Lebanon’s problems. Perhaps both Gemayel and the Kataeb will change – for the better.

April 28th, 2008, 1:12 pm


Shai said:


Thank you for saying that, and I do agree with you. Look, I am not for limiting the criticism of Israel, I am merely suggesting that now is not the time to seek justice, because it won’t happen. If we push the “big criminal” too much into the corner, he’s not going to upon up, but rather, close and harden even further. Some here think that Israelis are just ready to hear criticism from everyone on SC, and change. Neither is true. Israelis are not ready to hear criticism, because they are insecure (justifiably or not), because they too have been demonizing the other side for too many decades, and because they lack any trust in their rivals. So people can scream “injustice” until they’re blue in the face, it’s still not going to change the situation. Peace might. We talked endlessly about how signing an agreement with a particular side will not bring peace, until the entire Israeli-Arab conflict will be resolved (and especially the Palestinian issue). I completely agree with this. But I prefer to get started with something superficial, which will hopefully lead to a better place, than trying to get Israel to show up at the International Court of Justice.


I never claimed (not even once) that I agree with Israelis’ insecurity, nor that I am particularly happy with the need to wait 10-20 years to see any real justice take place. I don’t like it. I disagree with it. But I’m trying to be pragmatic enough, to move forward. You want justice? It ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. Ask your friends around, don’t listen to me… I wish it was different, honestly Naji, I do. No manipulation, no good-cop, just an honest wish.

April 28th, 2008, 1:34 pm


wizart said:


I hope you had a great trip 🙂

I understand the moodiness and burning out feeling described here recently and I can assure you most people feel that way too despite the hesitation on the part of some to voice their real feelings and opinions as they might be afraid of appearing antagonists. Thanks for your reminder of what Edward Saeed Said which was quite fitting here.

As for Shai I consider him an Israeli diplomatic trainee/operative or something of that nature which doesn’t seem to bother most people to the extent they’re given equal opportunity to understand the context of most discussions and are then able to voice their honest opinions and be responded to with courtesy regardless of where they come from or what opinion or feelings they may hold.
Shai seems intent on selling the idea that peace must happen without justice at this time and that this blog should be dedicated to convincing Israelis that we all support Shai’s road to peace 🙂

On a side note, I dedicate this song to all living humans today!

April 28th, 2008, 2:14 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I think that Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” is extremely relevant, because it demonstrates the way in which racism can be woven into an ideological fabric that appears to be attempting to “right a historical wrong” rather than create a new historical wrong, and also because it is this sense of revanchism, for want of a better word, that underpins the alliance between secular bourgeois Jewish rightists and religious zionists, and, via them, with a completely theocratic tendency which is not zionist in any real sense at all, but is really just reproducing the ghetto on a state scale, and which therefore naturally allied itself more and more with the Christian evangelical rightists of the USA – as a matter of fact, when Jabo died he was busy recruiting and consolidating Betar groups in the New York area.

I know this sounds complicated and hard to grasp, but it is a unique constellation of forces that I don’t think could have occurred among any other people than the Jews, because of the peculiar relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish right-wing bourgeois cliques that had developed in the diaspora over the centuries prior to the emergence of political zionism as a mass movement.

In this sense, Herzl is a harder figure for me to really grasp than Jabo, and I know I am not alone in this – quite a few Jewish anti-zionists have expressed some relief that at least with Jabo you know where you stand!

Some very interesting historical studies of religious zionism here – don’t be put off by the fact that he lists the infernal protocols, it isn’t an anti-semitic site and literally nothing else on the site, which contains an entire mini-library, is of that sort:

April 28th, 2008, 2:24 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Is it just me, or are the links on that site I just recommended all broken? They used to work, all of them, but I hadn’t checked it for a while.

April 28th, 2008, 2:56 pm


wizart said:


This song is for when you feel a bit burned out with all the negativity. I’m optimistic there’s heaven out there somewhere 🙂


Would you stop turning away suffering Palestinians and be nice with anyone calling me funny names! I noticed you rarely criticize Israeli policies so you might end up crying in heaven alone if you continue to focus basically on Lebanese factions. By the way, the Syrians I know care passionately about Palestinian rights in practice not just in speeches and you probably want to speak for yourself when it comes to that not as noticed earlier. Just a thought.


April 28th, 2008, 2:59 pm


Observer said:

Juan Cole Blog Informed comment has an excellent analysis of the bombed site and why it is very unlikely to have been a nuclear reactor
Here is the comment
An informed reader writes:

What little information provided in the CIA videotape concerning the destruction of the purported Syrian reactor only provokes more questions.

The alleged reactor is described, because of its dimensions and shape, as a duplicate of the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon. The reactor at Yongbyon is a rough copy of an old British design. It is graphite-moderated and cooled with gaseous carbon dioxide. Its core is composed of a large number of highly-purified graphite blocks. For example, each of the first two Magnox reactors at Windscale in the UK used 2,000 tons of graphite. Even if this purported Syrian reactor vessel were half the size of one of the original UK reactors, it would require roughly 1,000 tons of graphite. That’s 14,400 cubic feet of highly-purified graphite. Would all official entities fail to notice the production and transfer of that amount of highly-refined graphite to Syria?

The voice-over on the CIA videotape asserts that the reactor in Syria was “nearly completed.” If the plant were “nearly completed,” those graphite blocks would have been substantially in place. Bombing and fire would have spread bits of carbon all over the site, or scattered whole blocks of graphite around the site. The “after” photos didn’t seem to indicate that this happened.

If the reactor were substantially complete, neutron-absorbing boron-10 carbide (or possibly cadmium alloy) control rods would have been installed. Had those been burned or exploded in the bombing, those, too, would have left a chemical signature on the hills surrounding the site and in the prevailing winds. As far as I know, this hasn’t been discussed.

Then, too, there is the matter of fuel rods. Syria is reported not to have uranium yellowcake stocks in appreciable quantities. (One particularly large phosphorite field, the Charkiet formation, is known to contain uranium, but the phosphate fertilizer plant built to process that ore was done by a Swedish company which would certainly alert the IAEA if there were non-compliant diversion. Moreover, Syria has cooperated with the IAEA in the past to develop its commercial uranium extraction processes, but those have not progressed, according to SIPRI.) There’s no evidence presented that Syria has built fuel processing and fuel rod assembly facilities. That would suggest production elsewhere, and such production can be tracked. So, if it was almost complete, where are the fuel rods?

The primary weapons benefit of such a reactor is its ability to be refueled on the fly, so to speak (it’s necessary to get the fuel rods out of the reactor before the optimum quantity of plutonium-239 is degraded by neutron capture to less suitable isotopes), so, why does U.S. intelligence say they have “low confidence” that the plutonium that might be produced is for nuclear weapons? It must be that Syria does not have the necessary fuel processing, fuel rod assembly and spent fuel reprocessing plants, and there’s no evidence of bomb-manufacturing facilities (all this infrastructure should ideally go forward concurrent with fuel production to produce a bomb in the shortest period of time); does this suggest that the purpose of the facility might not be nuclear in nature, or that it was nuclear, but would have had a non-weapons purpose? If there’s no evidence for the existence of the rest of a weapons-making complex, how credible is the claim of “near completion” of a reactor which is well-suited for producing plutonium?

So far, the government’s primary evidence seems to be a photo of a North Korean who is reputed to be NK nuclear scientist Chon Chibu, standing next to someone “believed to be his Syrian counterpart” (quote from the London Times). That photo, as well as others, likely was provided by the Mossad, so its provenance is in question. Given that the Israelis bombed the site, one can’t evade the reality that they’re an interested party in the matter.

What is shocking in this assertion is the lack of physical evidence available for independent inspection, and the apparent complete failure of U.S. authorities to seek international inspection via the IAEA before the Israelis bombed the site in question, despite the fact that the U.S. was apparently aware of Israeli intentions well ahead of time. Syria has been a ratified signatory of the NPT since 1969, making it obligated to accept inspections. If, as the CIA asserts, the Syrian facility has been under construction since 2001, there was more than ample time to inform the IAEA of a signatory’s possible failure to abide by the treaty. Repeated unannounced overflights of Syrian territory by Israeli jets in recent years indicates long-term planning of this mission.

Possibilities? The Bush administration might prefer to use this event to imply nuclear weapons production on Iran’s part, because it is an ally of Syria, or the claims of North Korean assistance might provide cover for eventually abandoning the six-nation talks involving North Korea and provoking them in some way. Suggestions that the Israelis wanted to use the bombing raid to penetrate and compromise Syria’s Russian-built air defenses preparatory to a future attack on Iran are not wholly out of the realm of possibility.

It’s possible that the Syrians were building a bomb-fuel reactor with North Korean assistance, and imagined, wrongly, that they could escape detection. Certainly, North Korea’s economy is so awful that they would be desperate for revenues. But, there’s no physical evidence of such activity which has been independently verified, and the Bush administration’s record on this sort of thing is, well, dubious, at best. Nor can one discount Syria’s previous cooperation with the IAEA, and the necessary evidence would have come from an IAEA inspection. It’s also possible that the Syrians were building something military in nature that they wanted kept secret, and which had nothing to do with a nuclear program, but which alarmed the Israelis, anyway, such as an early warning facility, ground-based laser, something along those lines.

The CIA video depends heavily upon computer models, and those models add substantial pieces of equipment not shown in the photos of the “nearly completed” facility. Remember that Colin Powell depended upon artists’ renderings of “mobile bioweapons labs” instead of physical evidence, and that Rumsfeld used cartoonish illustrations to show lavish al-Qaeda complexes, replete with living quarters, office space, truck parking and ventilating systems, like the Islamist equivalent of Cheyenne Mountain, buried inside Tora Bora. Those, too, were never found.

One more final consideration: the Yongbyon reactor, from the descriptions by inspectors in 1994, is a real hunk of junk, by contemporary standards. The inspectors could tell from the condition of the spent fuel rods that there were many operating problems and shutdowns because of problems. Nuclear safety at the site was marginal to non-existent. The bomb test using plutonium from it was very likely a fizzle yield. If the Syrians got a duplicate copy of the Yongbyon reactor, as the CIA claims, they were very likely wasting their money.

April 28th, 2008, 3:28 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Once again I can’t understand you.

April 28th, 2008, 3:45 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Observer : thanks for posting that, I shall go and read the whole lot, but let me just caution that “the U.S. was apparently aware of Israeli intentions well ahead of time” was itself, initially, only an Israeli claim. CIA may be pretending it is true, or at least not denying it, without its actually being true at all. I personally don’t believe they told the US before the attack. There is no evidence they did, and I think it’s implausible. There is an extraordinary strand in the current hasbara of exhibitionistic arrogance, which amounts in some cases to saying “The US told us not to do it but we went ahead anyway” – an absurd, truly absurd, claim. Here it is, in fact – Yossi Melman:

April 28th, 2008, 4:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:

T posts:

Analysis: Assad’s one half-truth and three lies to al Watan
April 27, 2008, Debkafile

Elements of the Syrian-North Korean reactor’s cooling system
In an interview Sunday, April 27 with the Qatari daily al Watan , Syrian president Bashar Assad said: “We don’t want a nuclear bomb, even if Iran acquires one.” DEBKAfile’s military sources say that was only half true.


Just a suggestion, but Debkafile is notorious for printing misinformation. They posted their opinion about the hypothetical Syrian Nuclear reactor hours after it was bombed, and we all know (including Professor Josh) this is pure BS.

April 28th, 2008, 4:54 pm


Shai said:


I still haven’t figured it out – is Bondo pro-, or anti-Israel?… 🙂

Wizart said: “As for Shai I consider him an Israeli diplomatic trainee/operative or something of that nature which doesn’t seem to bother most people to the extent they’re given equal opportunity to understand the context of most discussions and are then able to voice their honest opinions and be responded to with courtesy regardless of where they come from or what opinion or feelings they may hold.”

My response: huh?

April 28th, 2008, 5:05 pm


Shai said:


Sorry, I haven’t answered your question yet. Yes, Yigal Amir’s assassination of Yitzhak Rabin has definitely set us back 15-20 years. Rabin was ready to make peace with the entire Arab world. He managed to convince most Israelis that peace is our only alternative, and had he lived to present the idea of the Golan in return for peace with Syria, and the 1967 borders for peace with the Palestinians, I am convinced he would have succeeded, and you and I could have now been sitting in a cafe in Tel-Aviv, Damascus, Beirut, or even Gaza, exchanging family photos on our laptops. The act of one man, destroyed another generation of hope, and for many, of life. And now, we’re far worse off than we were then, with a clear majority in Israel against withdrawals from either the Golan or the West Bank. Most Israelis are pessimistic, or at best “numb” to everything around them. They distrust the Arabs, and they simply not interested in making any concessions in order to reach peace. It is this public opinion that we must now battle against. We need to change the views of at least 20-30% of Israelis, and that’s not going to be easy.

You know, your buddy Wizart said earlier that “Shai seems intent on selling the idea that peace must happen without justice at this time and that this blog should be dedicated to convincing Israelis that we all support Shai’s road to peace.” In a way, he’s right. I am trying to explain that much of the justice cannot be achieved at the moment. For instance, most Palestinian refugees will not be able to return to Haifa, Jaffa, or Ramleh, right now. But the West Bank can be returned to the Palestinians, as Gaza was. And the Golan can be returned to its rightful owner, Syria. And the demands of the Arab Summits of Beirut and Riyadh can be met, opening at last the door to peace between Arabs and Jews. I’m not trying to convince anyone on this blog, any more than Wizart is trying to convince others of his “wizdom”. He now calls me “an Israeli diplomatic trainee/operative”, which I guess is better than some other things he’s called me before. But what he doesn’t seem to understand is that I care more about showing people on this blog that not all Israelis are as Wizart depicts them to be, than I do about selling my “peace plan”.

In fact, I don’t have a peace plan. I only have a clear goal, of getting more Arabs aware of people like me in Israel, who are truly interested in peace, who are aware of the crimes Israel has been committing, who are capable of self introspection, and who are ready to do what’s needed right now. Mutual demonization has been going on for decades, and perhaps it’s time to change that trend. Empathy, is the first step towards peace and reconciliation. On a blog like this, we can begin to feel any level of empathy towards one another, even bitter enemy towards another. We must not let the Yigal Amir’s of the region, in their various forms, determine the fate of our children.

April 28th, 2008, 5:35 pm


wizart said:

Pretending to misunderstand is not considered cleverness in Syria.

Just trying to be 5% more understanding could probably reduce the suffering of some Palestinians or their families in Gaza. It’s more important to make them feel welcome expressing their opinions and feelings of frustrations than to shut them up allowing more people to blow themselves up as a result of the current state of occupation. It’s easy to pretend to misunderstand and much easier to preach peace when they’re not around themselves to speak of their rights themselves. Some of them don’t even speak English well, some have limited access to the internet and some are just enraged and might lash out in frustration which is another reason to practice discipline, patience and emotional intelligence when dealing with them especially on the part of Israeli bloggers here.

April 28th, 2008, 5:49 pm


Seeking the Truth said:


Do you really think the Syrian regime would agree to sign a peace treaty with Israel; assuming of course that one is reachable, while the Palestinian situation is more or less like what it is now?

April 28th, 2008, 6:10 pm


T said:


I know Debka is BS- just like Fox news or alot of the MSM in USA. That is why I referred to it- not for accuracy, but for the window it gives into what those types are thinking/doing/ possibly planning. I read the political websites of those at the opposite end of the spectrum I agree with for just that reason. Though I know both sides can be equally suspect/credible at different times for different reasons.


I was totally kidding about Carter. Unfortuately, I cant access those emoticons here that everyone else uses, so I couldnt do “the wink”. Carter is the opposite of a bigot- and I meant to satirically imply that he will be smeared as a Hitler next by Likud or whoever denied him defense protection on his last visit to Israel.


Wizart said-

“As for Shai I consider him an Israeli diplomatic trainee/operative or something of that nature which doesn’t seem to bother most people to the extent they’re given equal opportunity to understand the context of most discussions and are then able to voice their honest opinions”

This was my understanding as well Shai- that is why I directed my comments to you. They were not personal but directed to you as the “nice” Israel representative on the blog. And I know the soft-style you use definitely wins far more hearts and minds than the “hard” blunt style used by AIG, AP (and myself). Maybe I prefer the direct style- not the ‘manipulative’ style as I called it. But you are acting in some sort of state affiliation, no? That doesnt mean you are not a soft, nice person in life. You seem to be- I dont know you personally. Again the comments at you were not personal.

Shai said:

“I only have a clear goal, of getting more Arabs aware of people like me in Israel, who are truly interested in peace, who are aware of the crimes Israel has been committing, who are capable of self introspection, and who are ready to do what’s needed right now. Mutual demonization has been going on for decades, and perhaps it’s time to change that trend. Empathy, is the first step towards peace and reconciliation. On a blog like this, we can begin to feel any level of empathy towards one another, even bitter enemy towards another”

That is the technique I am referring to as manipulative (if done on the state’s behalf). Wouldnt you be far better served volunteering in the refugee camps?


I used the word bimbo, airhead etc to refer to her after she got personal with me by calling me words like “wacko, paranoid” etc. I dont know her personally and cant draw those judgements about her- these were said to make a point only. It was not personal. But she really knows nothing about me. Most of the stuff I post is just others’ articles- many without personal comment. I dont hear too much response on this blog -never from you- about the US-Israeli culpability in this whole mess and it is important. You mentioned some on the blog being victim of violations- yourself included? (unclear) If so- it is odd that you find harping on these lines of discussion ‘self-righteous’, offensive etc. And never seem interested in them yourself.

To find Americans who are concerned about the crap their gov did overseas against their ‘axis enemies’ is not that common. Maybe it would be better if those of us who do just tuned in to Paris Hilton like the majority. Unless of course, you are on the side of the Geagea/Gemayel/SLA faction. Then it makes a bit more sense.

But each to his own. I usually skip your posts, I dont learn anything new from them, just surface logistics on factions etc I can read elsewhere. I dont know your age, but you are very cocky (on what grounds is a mystery) but “waste of time” is still how I feel. (you are the only person on this blog I HAVE made a personal dart at, sorry).


Interesting thing is I had first heard that the Protocols were written by the Jesuits- not the jews. Did you ever hear this?


I dont know you- but we seemed to be linked in the minds of others here due to style and political persuasion. This blog seems to be regime-change/conversion Syria or the Syria flip- not a human rights blog. I suggest we both stop fighting the uphill fight, take the hint and go elsewhere for the harmony of all involved.

April 28th, 2008, 6:13 pm


Shai said:


Please, for the umpteenth time, please hear this: I am NOT representing ANYONE other than myself. I am not even representing Alon Liel’s group (Israel-Syria Peace Society), although I very clearly agree with most of their stances. I am NOT acting in any sort of state affiliation. I hate politics, and god-willing will never be persuaded to join it. I am “nice” because I think being “not nice” doesn’t get you very far in life, especially when you’re trying to communicate with your “enemies”. True, it isn’t always easy for me. Imagine yourself trying to last this many months on an Israeli blog, almost daily. Could you do it? Not easy, I promise you, to be in such a minority (I’m even in a minority within the 3 main Israelis here!) But I’m not asking for sympathy, I’m not asking for love or affection. I am hoping to make many of you aware of the existence of different Israelis out there, not just ones that hate you. In order to be “nice”, and achieve these goals, must I manipulate, or act as good-cop? Some here say yes. I don’t think so.

April 28th, 2008, 6:20 pm


Shai said:


Good question. It’s been asked before on SC. I don’t really know the answer, but my guess is yes. That is, Syria understands that peace between us can actually help tremendously with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Syria is in a unique position, unlike Egypt or Jordan were in the past. Syria can be an honest broker between us, and can help us solve our biggest problems – mutual distrust and fear. But, as I’ve said before, peace with Syria will only be superficial, until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solved. By the way, Abu Mazen and some of his cabinet members have stated numerous times (and yesterday I believe) that from their point of view, Israel can proceed with trying to make peace with Syria. They too understand the impasse we’ve reached at the moment.

April 28th, 2008, 6:26 pm


wizart said:


It’s normal for a new blogger to encounter resistance here which is what makes it quite attractive and well read so at the risk of making more enemies for myself I think more people with diverse opinions should be represented here and the Palestinians are an integer group of people with tangible and authentic insight into regional politics.

Who cares what anybody represents anyway. As for Zenobia I doubt she meant to insult you personally just for the heck of it. She’s quite aware of the social dynamics and wide divides among different factions and usually does a great job acting as a liaison to smooth out occasional bumps on difficult issues with the Israelis. It doesn’t mean she’s a traitor. She practices various skills to help produce something positive and perhaps to avoid fruitless fights.


April 28th, 2008, 6:42 pm


Shai said:

Here are two parts of the recent Al Jazeera interview with Alon Liel, Samir Al-Taqi, and Alastair Crooke. Very interesting.

April 28th, 2008, 6:55 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

T – I am really sorry the site I mentioned has gone – and I am a bit suspicious at the thoroughness with which it seems to have been cleaned out of the Internet Archive, too. It seems to me that the site owner was very stupid to include anything to do with the Protocols. It had copies of some really classic documents from religious zionist thinkers, and historical analysis of same. For religious zionism, though, there is always Ian Lustick’s site with a copy of his book “For the Land and the Lord” on it:

As to the origins of the Protocols, well, they are based on a French satire written during the reign of Napoleon III called “Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” and a trashy nineteenth-century German novel called “Biarritz” (the famous Jewish cemetery scene) and so forth. They were certainly assembled by a right wing Christian, not a Jew, though he may have been either Roman Catholic or Russian Orthodox.

April 28th, 2008, 6:58 pm


Friend in America said:

Thanks QN

There are times when one wishes his assessments were inaccurate. This is one. In Qifa Nabki’s reprint of the news article from a Tokyo news source, we have a confirmation of the worst aspect of the Dar az Sawr nuclear facility story. My premise is this information was leaked by South Korean intelligence, which has the best contacts in North Korea.

Reading the article from Tokyo carefully, the reader will understand America’s reasons for keeping the pressure on Syria. The type of weapon contemplated to be made in Syria will raise terrorism to a higher level – it is the #1 terrorist concern world wide. That pressure will not be relaxed by the next administration in Washington. This is not a self defense weapon. It is difficult for me to understand the reasoning in Damascus for this project when there are other easier and less costly policy alternatives.

There is an opportunity for leadership here. Syria will do much for itself, and for its ME neighbors, by inviting its ME neighbors to join Syria in declaring the middle east a nuclear free zone. The only thing Syria would be giving up is losing bin Laden as a customer. But with the air strike that customer was lost anyway.
I hope Josh and Alex will invite a discussion on what it will take to make the entire ME a nuclear free zone – and how Syria could lead in that.

April 28th, 2008, 7:17 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I would rephrase that as, this latest piece of nonsense was concocted by the South Korean CIA, which has the greatest interest in feathering its nest with the US government (though not with the original US CIA, which is sick to the back teeth with being politicised and forced to generate false intelligence to suit the political appointees the White House sets over it – I copied large parts of an excellent article on this to my blog … as always I have picked out the bits I find most straightforward, but there is a link to the entire, very long, original as well:

April 28th, 2008, 7:29 pm


Honest Patriot said:

Dear Shai,

Thank you for confirming my understanding in your post above .

Please do not be discouraged by the negative comments you read. There is a good number of us SC readers and occasional contributors who greatly value your e-friendship and your sincere outreach. You are succeeding in your efforts far beyond what you can conclude from just reading the posts.

Dear AIG,

Thanks for your explanations also in
I appreciate the sincerity and straightforwardness with which you express your opinions, even if I disagree with some of them. In fact, I think you left the door open by putting a 10-year span on your expectation of no conciliatory government. I suggested “in the next 20 years…” something good might happen. So starting from year 11 we may both be right 😉
It is certainly a fact that the best peace will be achieved by the fiercest warriors. My opinion is that Rabin was such a person and would have been successful if not assassinated. Netanyahu has the potential to do the same. He may surprise you.

April 28th, 2008, 9:56 pm


Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley,

The “spring 2007”-Theorie [But according to U.S. media reports late last week, the Americans caught on only in Spring 2007, after receiving photographs of the reactor and its environs, which were taken by Israeli agents. + wait until September] can not ruled out, because in spring 2007 …

He is the missing link in all specualations about the time of the attack. [“but let me just caution that “the U.S. was apparently aware of Israeli intentions well ahead of time” was itself, initially, only an Israeli claim.”] Several analysts said that they were watching the site “for years” and discussed it with CIA/Pentagon. In the latest statement the CIA talks about 2005 and that they knew not exaclty where the site was located. They can escape the question why the USA did attack Iraq and wants to attack Iran but did not attack Syria. The Admin declared it should be seen as a “regional problem” of Israel, job sharing: Israel + neighbours and Saudi-Iraq + neighbours. Robert Gates [“even without Nukes Iran is a regional threat to its neighbours”] and his great ideas of “regional pece summits” in Annapolis.

April 28th, 2008, 10:34 pm


SimoHurtta said:

There are times when one wishes his assessments were inaccurate. This is one. In Qifa Nabki’s reprint of the news article from a Tokyo news source, we have a confirmation of the worst aspect of the Dar az Sawr nuclear facility story. My premise is this information was leaked by South Korean intelligence, which has the best contacts in North Korea.

Friend in America NIS formerly KCIA says what US regime commands. Who on the other say what the Israeli “lobby” commands. 🙂

Isn’t it strange that South Korean intelligence releases these kind of stories through a Japanese media. Which on the other hand is using citing of unidentified South Korean intelligence officials. And you believe that Friend in America? Well, well, no wonder that it is so easy to sell you Americans new wars. By the way now USA uses more for its military and wars as the rest of the world combined. And the money US uses is borrowed money (= future taxes). Sad isn’t it FIA. An other by the way. USA has now three aircraft carrier groups cruising near Taiwan. Are they soon going to the north (North Korea) or to the west (Iran)? Chinese were asking about the reason for those three aircraft carrier groups cruising there.

This reactor story is a “traditional” media campaign where the story is made “stronger” by frequent anonymous leaks. Next we hear that the Iraqi intelligence service (probably the name is ICIA 🙂 ) tells anonymously in Egyptian press that 123 Syrian nuclear scientist were killed in the attack and the location of the rest 1634 Syrian nuclear scientists working under the direct control of President Assad is unknown. These scientists form an elite technological unit in order to earn desperately needed foreign currency to president Assad from Saudi Sunni terrorist groups. Saudis have money you know. (Wow it is easy to work as an anonymous intelligence source, lets see if I am quoted tomorrow in the worlds press.)

Reading the article from Tokyo carefully, the reader will understand America’s reasons for keeping the pressure on Syria

Sorry Friend in America, the original story was in NHK. So you can read Japanese. Did you read it carefully. 🙂

All the “flesh on bones” in international media about this North Koreans killed is based on a short translation of NHK’s story added with rumours from previous “stories”.

The only thing Syria would be giving up is losing bin Laden as a customer. But with the air strike that customer was lost anyway.

Are you joking FIA? The same insane propaganda about bin Laden links were heard with Saddam. Nothing proved ever and the report about the subject “banned” in USA. Now some US sources even claim that Al Qaida is training in Iran. It would more likely that Jewish militias would be training in Iran with IRCG than Sunni extrimists Al Qaida. Actually Israel has a long history with weapon development and WMD’s with Iran. Even with the present Iranian regime.

There is an opportunity for leadership here. Syria will do much for itself, and for its ME neighbors, by inviting its ME neighbors to join Syria in declaring the middle east a nuclear free zone. The only thing Syria would be giving up is losing bin Laden as a customer. But with the air strike that customer was lost anyway.

I hope Josh and Alex will invite a discussion on what it will take to make the entire ME a nuclear free zone – and how Syria could lead in that.

I support your initiative FIA. A nuclear free Middle East is in the worlds interests. However there is a small problem FIA for you as an obvious pro-Israeli. Israel has nukes and is in Middle East. So FIA how do you solve the existing Israeli nukes problem? By “transporting” Israel on the geography to lets near Cuba or taking in US custody Israel’s nukes. FIA the problem is not Iran, Syria, Egypt etc willing to be “nuclear”, the problem is Israel already being “nuclear”. Or do you prefer the present reality where Israel has the aerial nuclear monopoly?


Shual maybe it was Bush himself gathering the intelligence

Or Clinton before him

April 28th, 2008, 10:38 pm


norman said:


I agree , Mideast free of nuclear weapons,

Let us start with the one that has more than twenty of them and almost bombed Syria in 1973 . ISRAEL .

April 28th, 2008, 11:00 pm


SOL said:

Rowan Berkeley -FYI

The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, the most notorious and
most successful work of modern antisemitism, draws on popular
antisemitic notions which have their roots in medieval Europe from
the time of the Crusades.Tales were circulated among the masses of secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the Christians, and motifs like these are found in early antisemitic literature.

The Protocols were written in Paris sometime between 1895 and 1899 by an agent of the Russian secret police Pytor Ivanovich Rachovsky, who is known to have forged other documents for the various intrigues in which he took part. In 1903 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were serialized in a Russian newspaper, Znamya (The Banner). The version of the Protocols that has endured and has been translated into dozens of languages, however, was first published in Russia in 1905 as an appendix to The Great in the Small: The Coming of the Anti-Christ and the Rule of Satan on Earth, by Russian writer and mystic Sergei Nilus.

As a side note In November/December 2002, Television stations across the Middle East aired a 41-part historical drama entitled “Horseman Without a Horse”, in which the Protocols were a major element in the plot. The series was produced in Egypt and aired on Egyptian state television, as well as numerous satellite stations across the region, and starred the famous Egyptian actor Muhammad Subhi.

April 28th, 2008, 11:24 pm


Enlightened said:

Opinion Article In Sydney Morning Herald Today Titled:

Redress the balance on Palestine

Peter Manning
April 29, 2008

Australia’s a remarkable country. Cambodian, Yugoslav and Vietnamese Australians who once shot at each other now live in the same city, sometimes the same suburb. The same goes for Arab and Jewish Australians. There are Jewish fighters from 1948 who successfully established the state of Israel and there are Palestinian refugees living in Sydney who were driven from their homes.

But you should have heard the groans of disapproval when Kevin Rudd’s paean of praise for Israel’s 60 years of democracy in Federal Parliament on March 12 was mentioned two weekends ago at the Arab Film Festival in Parramatta. In this swinging federal seat, the largely Arab-Australian audience was not impressed.

I suspect it wasn’t disapproval of Rudd’s perceived romance with Israel (they’re used to that with John Howard and Bob Hawke). It was the seeming insensitivity of a new Prime Minister so intent on collecting brownie points.

Mention was made of Rudd’s highly popular acknowledgement in his February 13 address to Parliament of the sufferings of the indigenous people of Australia. But how could he congratulate the Israelis without even a mention of the dispossession of 78 per cent of the land of the Palestinians, an event that saw 700,000 of them (most of the population) driven out of historic Palestine?

Palestinians call it “the nakba” (the catastrophe). Today, 5 million Palestinians live in refugee camps in surrounding Arab countries, unwelcome visitors waiting to return to their homes and villages. The continuing reality of “the nakba” poisons Western-Islamic relations around the world.

This month has a particular ring to it. It is the height of “the nakba”. Whereas Israelis and Jewish people everywhere may celebrate May 8 as the day Israel was created 60 years ago, for Palestinians the catastrophe of the loss of their land spread over months. It began when the United Nations voted on November 29, 1947, to partition Palestine, and it continued throughout 1948.

For many decades afterwards it was the Israeli propaganda narrative that the Palestinians had simply abandoned their country, not fought enough for it and left for friendly Arab countries. The narrative conveniently defined the Palestinians as ignorant and cowardly.

But since the opening of the Israeli archives in the past decade, that narrative has been demolished by a younger band of Israeli historians – Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe, Tom Segev and others – who have argued that the period from December 1947 to May 1948 involved a series of massacres designed to terrorise the native population into abandoning their homes and fleeing to safety.

And in Pappe’s latest book, The Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2006), he draws from the archives of David Ben-Gurion, Haganah and Irgun papers and other sources to reveal how deliberate and articulated was the famous Plan Dalet of March 10, 1948 – the plan by Jewish leaders to ethnically cleanse Arab cities (like Haifa and Jaffa) and villages getting in the way of the creation of the Jewish state.

The result was a series of massacres during April and May 1948, the most important in Deir Yassin on April 9. Jewish soldiers burst into the village and sprayed it with gunfire. Those not dead were gathered together and shot. A number of the women were allegedly raped and then shot. Ninety-three villagers were reported to have died.

The Herald of April 10, 12, and 13, 1948, reported the horror as “Jewish terrorism”. In such attacks, many were robbed by Jewish troops of their jewellery, furniture and goods.

Today, many Jewish Australians remember this war firsthand, even if many did not witness the sort of horrors alleged at Deir Yassin.

Equally, many Palestinian and Arab Australians have their own stories. I have spoken with some. Their memories are as sharp as a tack. One man from Jaffa recalls as a boy being fired on as he tried to board a ship to leave his home town. Further up the coast, refugees from the Holocaust were arriving on boats that were “illegal” in the terms of the British Mandate.

Jewish Australians were made to feel, once again, acknowledged and proud by their federal Christian leaders on March 12. Arab and Palestinian Australians, also damaged by their history, were left feeling outsiders, abandoned, in exile, just as a new government arrived so full of hope and promise.

It would be good if Rudd in May could redress the balance.

Peter Manning is adjunct professor of journalism at UTS and the author of Us And Them: A Journalist’s Investigation Of Media, Muslims And The Middle East (Random House, 2006). He is completing a PhD on “The Creation Of ‘The Palestinian’ In The Sydney Press”.

April 28th, 2008, 11:41 pm


Enlightened said:

Article on “The time for peace has come”

Australian Professor Colin Rubinstein

Colin Rubenstein
April 29, 2008

Next week, Israel will mark the 60th anniversary of its founding. Israel’s story in that time has been an amazing and inspiring one, a fact too often forgotten in the debate over terrorism and violence, peace plans and peace processes, accusation and counter-accusation.

A scattered, dispossessed people, suffering oppression and having just emerged from history’s most heinous genocide, accepted the newly formed UN partition plan and built an enviable society in part of their ancestral homeland, which now serves as a vibrant cultural centre and beacon for Jewish identity worldwide, including for the Australian Jewish community.

Importantly, Israel remains virtually the sole democracy in the Middle East, with full protections for the democratic and human rights of all its citizens, including the nearly one-fifth of its population that is Muslim or Arab. Israeli Arabs are represented in Israel’s parliament and at the highest levels of the judiciary and government. Arabic is one of the state’s two official languages.

Australia’s Jewish community can be proud the unique Australia-Israel relationship has been an important dimension of Israel’s remarkable story. This relationship began in World War I at Gallipoli, where Jewish Zionist volunteers from what was not yet called Palestine fought alongside Australian diggers.

Following World War II, Australia helped midwife Israel’s creation, through foreign minister Dr H. V. Evatt’s possibly decisive role in securing the passage of the UN General Assembly’s Partition Plan in 1947 while serving as chairman of the UN General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine.

Since then, almost all Australian governments of both political persuasions have sought to cultivate positive Australia-Israel relations. The relationship between the countries reached new heights under the Howard government. Kevin Rudd is committed to maintaining this strong relationship, as evidenced by the bipartisan resolution celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary he introduced in parliament in March.

As that resolution made clear, Israel’s achievements over the past 60 years are cause for celebration and commendation. This is underlined by the long odds Israel has faced, from being attacked by five of its much larger Arab neighbours at its inception, to having not known a day of peace since. Sadly, had the Arab states not rejected the UN’s partition plan and opted to launch a war instead, we could be celebrating the 60th birthdays of both Israel and Palestine.

While it is understandable that Palestinians remember the suffering of 700,000 Palestinians who fled or otherwise lost their homes in 1948, it is worth remembering that this tragedy was completely avoidable had Palestinians and the Arab states heeded the UN’s resolution calling for two states for two peoples. Instead, a war to ethnically cleanse the area of Jewish inhabitants was launched.

Nor was 1948 the only time that the Palestinian leadership and Arab states spurned the opportunity to achieve the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for an independent homeland of their own in favour of clinging to maximalist demands for the destruction of Israel.

One such demand is for the so-called unlimited and legally unprecedented “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. This would lead to the demographic destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

Moreover, the Palestinian and Arab leadership have perpetuated the Palestinian refugee crisis by refusing to integrate them, preferring instead to use them as political pawns.

The decades of violence and attacks on Israel are even more regrettable since they have achieved nothing. Sixty years on, the only palatable solution to the conflict remains two states for two peoples. This is the model being pursued by the Israeli Government, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the international community.

Significant obstacles to realising this goal remain. Foremost among them is the fact that Hamas, a terrorist organisation, continues to deny Israel’s right to exist. It uses its control of the Gaza Strip to launch daily attacks on Israeli civilians with the aim of scuttling the peace process.

Yet just as clearly, Australia’s unique friendship and steadfast support for a fellow democracy, which has helped nourish Israel throughout its first 60 years, will remain a crucial and much-valued asset in the peace process as Israel continues to seek its final crowning achievement: a Jewish state whose citizens are at last able to live in peace and security with its neighbours.

Dr Colin Rubenstein is the executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He previously taught Middle East politics at Monash University.

For those that are interested here is a link to how The Sydney Morning Herald reported the events at the time:

April 28th, 2008, 11:45 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I dont hear too much response on this blog -never from you- about the US-Israeli culpability in this whole mess and it is important.

The reason that you don’t hear as much as you would like about US-Israeli culpability is because it’s so obvious to everyone else and some people are interested in talking about other things. It’s like the first step of a logical proof: very important but also not very interesting if you don’t try to see where it leads on the level of “surface logistics”. I think I’ve told you this before: you remind me of one of these Americans who comes to the Middle East, speaks to some regular folks on the ground and discovers that, oh-me-oh-my, things are mighty different than they let on in grade school.

And so you decided to make it your duty to go around educating everyone about America’s crimes and those of its little Middle Eastern surrogate, Israel. That’s great, if the people you’re educating are gun nuts from the Bible belt. The thing is, that’s not the demographic on SC. Most of us here get our news from the Arabic media. So you don’t need to preach to us (let alone impugn our credentials) on the culpability of the US and Israel. We learned that while you were memorizing the faces on Mt. Rushmore.

I usually skip your posts, I dont learn anything new from them, just surface logistics on factions etc I can read elsewhere.

Great, glad to hear it. Keep that eagle eye of yours trained on the more important stuff.

April 28th, 2008, 11:58 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I’m sorry I still don’t understand what you’re saying, and I’m not being clever. What does this mean:

Would you stop turning away suffering Palestinians and be nice with anyone calling me funny names! I noticed you rarely criticize Israeli policies so you might end up crying in heaven alone if you continue to focus basically on Lebanese factions. By the way, the Syrians I know care passionately about Palestinian rights in practice not just in speeches and you probably want to speak for yourself when it comes to that not as noticed earlier.

Are you referring to the comments about the Palestinians posted above? Those were a summary of attitudes found on a Aounist blog. I’m not a Aounist. Their point of view on the Palestinians is not mine. Please make yourself clear.

April 29th, 2008, 12:05 am


Alex said:


It is one thing for Mr. Netanyahu to make some outrageous statement (or accusation) on CNN or Fox, knowing he will probably get away with it. But … A blog like this one, is open for everyone to respond.

If you and AIG both make accusations which are often wrong or questionable, then there will be many here who will come back to respond to those accusations asking “how do you know?” … then the discussion turns into a match for sarcasm and insults.

It might be fun, I understand … but I’m sure we can find other ways to enjoy our discussions without the insults.

April 29th, 2008, 12:21 am


norman said:


Can you summarize to us how you think MR Netanyahu will solve the problems in the Mideast and what is the ultimate solution that Israel likes and think the Arabs can except.?

April 29th, 2008, 12:56 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Look like Saad got a green light in Riyadh:

Hariri Sets Presidential Election Deadline for May 13

Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri on Monday pledged that Majority MPs would elect a president on May 13.
Hariri made the remark to reporters after talks with Druze Spiritual leader Sheikh Naim Hassan at the latter’s seat in Beirut.

“We haven’t received any guarantees, but we are in a path that leads to the election of a president on May 13. All March 14 MPs would go to parliament to elect a president,” Hariri announced.

“We have a real chance to elect a president on May 13,” Hariri added.

“If we decide to engage in dialogue (called for by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri) we want to know that we would elect a president on May 13,” Hariri added.

He set the rule: “As long as no one is against dialogue, no one should be against electing a president on May 13.”

Hariri said Lebanon is “the only country in the world that does not have a president. This is a major crime committed against us and against the country.”

“We support a county-constituency elections law and we support the formation of a national unity government as well as any other proposed settlements, but we cannot achieve all that without a president. We should focus on electing a president on May 13.”

April 29th, 2008, 1:04 am


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki


Assad announced HE will visit Saudi Arabia, even though the Saudi king did his best to not help make the Damascus summit a success.

But usually the one who does the visiting is being courteous to the one who accepted to compromise.

But no predictions of course. When it comes to Lebanon .. only God knows.

I did not follow the news in Lebanon the past two days. Geagea is still opposed to dialog?

April 29th, 2008, 1:17 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Yes, the news is looking up somewhat. I saw that Assad insisted that the Syria-KSA issue is not a crisis, just a “misunderstanding”. So maybe there’s a thaw in the works.

As for Lebanon and dialogue… Jumblatt has basically turned the ship around. He spoke with Berri at the parliament last Tuesday, and it seems that it was a productive meeting. My guess is that Berri confirmed to Jumblatt that he could deliver on a specific set of demands (whether it is a veto or the 1960 law, we’ll have to wait and see, my guess is the latter). Hariri was next, and then Gemayel had to get on board. I don’t know about Geagea. It doesn’t really matter at this point; he’s not as important as the rest of them.

Let’s hope for a breakthrough on May 13. It will be interesting to see the next set of alliances crop up.

April 29th, 2008, 1:23 am


norman said:


My son , keep dreaming , I probably know the Lebanese longer and more than you do.

April 29th, 2008, 1:45 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ya Ammo Norman

I’m sure you’ve known them longer! What’s your diagnosis, doctor?

April 29th, 2008, 1:49 am


norman said:


Bipolar , ( Manic depressive ) , It fits don’t you think?.

April 29th, 2008, 1:53 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

Shual, It’s 0243hrs here, I do not want to start messing about with the directory tree of the URL you gave to find out what story it is associated with, but certainly the mere fact that (some) Israelis know how to remove the lens caps from their binoculars doesn’t get us far.

Norman, I can tell you from sad experience with 9/11 Truthlings, as they are cynically known, that photo manipulation theories have gone from the ridiculous to the more ridiculous, and disinformationalists have used them to promote the stupidest theories, discrediting the whole area of 9/11 studies.

Right now I am more concerned with the ridiculous claims that men carrying explosives past the house in Gaza where the family died yesterday somehow caused the deaths when their explosives were hit by gunfire and went off. This is ridiculous because it hasn’t been denied that whatever killed the family came through their roof before exploding. The fundamental problem in all these cases is not the physics of explosions, but the control of the mass media, which incessantly exploit the natural unwillingness of publics to believe that their mass media systematically and consciously repeat propaganda lies on command.

April 29th, 2008, 1:58 am


norman said:

Rowan Berkly ,
It is obvious that the media which supposed to be an independent branch of government is more and more part of government run campaign to push policies that they want, If the media and the congress did their jobs in 2002 , we would have not had the Iraqi war in 2003 , it is negligence pure and simple.

April 29th, 2008, 2:09 am


norman said:

المعركة الآن: إما انحسار نفوذ سورية وإيران أو اندلاع حرب ستطول دول الجوار
سفراء غربيون وعرب أكثر حذراً وحماية من قادة 14 آذار
واختطاف »حزب الله« النائب الفرنسي ينبئ بمرحلة مأساوية

لندن – كتب حميد غريافي:
لم تعد بعض السفارات الغربية والعربية أقل حذرا وقلقا في بيروت وضواحيها من قادة الرابع عشر من آذار ووزرائهم ونوابهم والعاملين في وسائل اعلامهم, من ان تباشر القوى التابعة لسورية وايران حملة ارهابية ضد مصالحها ورعاياها الذين لم يبق منهم في لبنان سوى النذر القليل, بعد بيانات التحذير والدعوات الى مغادرة الاراضي اللبنانية والامتناع عن السفر اليها تحت اي ظرف من الظروف, وتأهب الاجهزة الامنية والديبلوماسية في تلك السفارات لاجلاء من تبقى من رعاياها مع تعاظم المعلومات والتقديرات حول وجود استعدادات لتفجير الاوضاع الداخلية بعد فشل الجماعات الايرانية والسورية – اللبنانية في تحقيق اهدافها في قلب نظام ثورة الارز القائم منذ نحو ثلاث سنوات والسيطرة على البلاد برمتها لتحويلها الى رأس حربة »الممانعة« ولكن بأنياب »صاروخية« مسلحة, وليس ك¯ »ممانعتي« دمشق وطهران السياسيتين المختبئتين وراء اكياس الرمل في العراق وفلسطين وحتى الان في لبنان.
واكد ديبلوماسي عربي في بيروت امس ان السفارات الاميركية والفرنسية والبريطانية والاسبانية والايطالية والسعودية والكويتية والاماراتية والبحرانية في بيروت وضواحيها »باتت اكثر تحصينا وحماية من منازل ومكاتب سعد الدين الحريري ووليد جنبلاط وسمير جعجع وأمين الجميل ورفاقهم من قادة 14 اذار, كما باتت اكثر عزلة من مقرات قيادة حزب الله في الضاحية الجنوبية من بيروت وخصوصا المقر السري الذي يعيش فيه أمينه العام حسن نصر الله منذ نحو عشرين شهرا, ومقر ميشال عون في الرابية ومبنى رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري في عين التينة, ومعاونيهم وقادة كوادرهم الحزبية من ساسة وميليشياويين«.
وقال الديبلوماسي ان عدد موظفي هذه السفارات الغربية والعربية الذين يعدون بالمئات من الديبلوماسيين والموظفين المحليين, »تناقص بشكل حاد وسري« خلال الاشهر الخمسة الماضية, ولم يتبق منهم سوى العناصر الضرورية جدا لتسيير شؤون المصالح القنصلية خصوصا, وذلك منذ تلقي السفارتين الاميركية والفرنسية وسفيري السعودية والكويت تهديدات بشن عمليات ارهابية ضدهم او ضد كبار موظفيهم ومصالحهم الاخرى المنتشرة في مختلف الاراضي اللبنانية, اضافة الى مخاوفهم ومخاوف دولهم من استهداف رعاياهم تفجيرا او اغتيالا او اختطافا, تماما كما حدث السبت الماضي لممثل الحزب الاشتراكي الفرنسي النائب كريم باكزاد الذي اختطفه مسلحون من عناصر »حزب الله« الى الضاحية الجنوبية للتحقيق معه طوال ساعات خمس, ما اعاد الى اذهان العالم واللبنانيين مأساة اختطاف الرهائن الغربيين في الثمانينات على ايدي الجهة نفسها (حزب الله) بقيادة عماد مغنية, وكما ذكرت بعد ذلك وسائل اعلام اميركية نقلا عن وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية (سي اي ايه) »بمشاركة حسن نصر الله نفسه التي كان لنجاحها دور كبير في وصوله الى رئاسة الحزب بعد اكثر من عشر سنوات«.
وكشف الديبلوماسي العربي ل¯ »السياسة« امس النقاب عن »انحسار هائل« في تحركات السفراء والديبلوماسيين العرب والاجانب في لبنان في الفترة الاخيرة »بعدما كانوا عمموا مذكرات داخلية حددت مناطق الجنوب والبقاع وطرابلس وصيدا والضاحية الجنوبية من بيروت والمخيمات الفلسطينية, كأماكن يجب تجنبها وعدم زيارتها اذ ادخلت على تلك المذكرات اخيرا منع زيارة زحلة وشمال لبنان والمناطق الساحلية الممتدة من بيروت الى صيدا ومنها الى طرابلس, كما جرى نصح الديبلوماسيين والرعايا المتبقين بتجنب الانتقال من »كانتون الى كانتون« اي من المناطق المسيحية الى المناطق السنية والدرزية وخصوصا الشيعية, وعدم ارتياد المراكز المكتظة بالمواطنين الا عند الضرورات والتصدي والحفاظ على حد ادنى من الظهور العلني فيها«.
ونقل الديبلوماسي العربي في بيروت عن مصادر غربية فيها تأكيدها على ان »الوضع الهش في لبنان الان امنيا وسياسيا وعسكريا يقف على مفترق طريقين وان هناك سباقا محموما بين الدول الغربية والعربية من جهة وسورية وايران من جهة اخرى باتجاه اما القضاء المبرم على نفوذهما في لبنان اذا اندلعت حرب اسرائيلية جديدة, او اذا نشبت حرب داخلية استدعت تدخلا عسكريا خارجيا لم تعد الولايات المتحدة والدول الاوروبية المنضوية تحت راية حلف شمال الاطلسي, تعارضه في المبدأ حفاظا على مصالحها ليس في لبنان فحسب بل في منطقة الشرق الاوسط بكاملها«.
واعربت المصادر الغربية عن اعتقادها »ان حظوظ خروج لبنان من ازمته المستعصية الراهنة بحل سياسي داخلي واقليمي ودولي, ضعيفة جدا, والدليل الاجراءات الغربية والعربية الديبلوماسية الامنية في لبنان التي بلغت الحدود القصوى من الاستعداد للاقفال والرحيل, ما يعني ان البديل هو الانفجار الامني او العسكري الذي ستتطاير شظاياه الدامية الى دول الجوار اللبناني مثل اسرائيل وسورية والاردن, بل ابعد من ذلك اذا اقتضت التطورات حدوث تدخل عسكري خارجي«.


April 29th, 2008, 2:28 am


Enlightened said:

Alex, Norman, QN

The Knefeh is on me if its resolved!

All we need now is a Dabke troup on standby!

April 29th, 2008, 2:39 am


norman said:

Enlighted one ,

Inshallah, I doubt it though .

April 29th, 2008, 2:42 am


Enlightened said:


There is some room for hope, I think a deal has been done already behind closed doors, I think Bashar’s trip to Damascus might be the give away indicator.

But you never know a lot can happen between now and then!

April 29th, 2008, 2:54 am


norman said:

Good night ,

April 29th, 2008, 3:12 am


Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley,

they had to wait for the demission of Amir Peretz. In the week of the picture [Golan with quite new chief of staff Ashkenazi] Peretz “said that Israel should refrain from making further statements regarding Syria, and urged officials to avoid a verbal escalation of tensions”. The focus was on the maneuvers of the Israelis in the Golan and Syrian reactions and in times of emerging reports of Syrian strenghening of all army parts including successful Scud-D-tests with a range of 400KM. Peretz looked like the last “appeaser” in the government.

If you add that now with Mossad-photos at a nuclear facility made early January 07 or something, some time left cause the facility was not near operating and polls that indicated a close race between Ayalon and Barak as successors of Peretz, both experts and not amateurs, you have the range of time between informing the US about a possible strike and the strike. The missing link is defense minister Peretz.

April 29th, 2008, 4:36 am


Shai said:


As usual, in merely 1-1.5 sentences, you manage to ask the best questions…

First, I’ll say that I am merely hypothesizing about what Netanyahu would be like, on a 2nd term as Prime Minister of Israel. I am, however, basing my thoughts on things he’s done in the past, so it’s a bit more (hopefully) than just wishful thinking…

As for peace with the Arabs, I believe Netanyahu long ago decided that this was not only possible, but indeed necessary in his lifetime. He has three little children, I believe, and they too will have to serve in the army, and they too might die in battle, during his lifetime, if there’s no peace. He, unlike many of his predecessors, spent a good part of his life abroad (mostly in the U.S.), and has tasted what freedom and peace are like. He doesn’t want this dream to be a reality only for others, but also for his own people. This I am sure of.

As for what he’s willing to give up in return for peace. Netanyahu, we must understand, is the leader of the Right. In essence, of the entire Right in Israel, including the extreme Right. As such, he cannot, by definition, be voted into power by suggesting he’ll ever be willing to make concessions to the Arabs. The people who will elect him to power are, mostly, either plain Arab haters, or at best strongly suspicious, distrustful, and Arab-fearing. So his rhetoric before elections, like last time around, is very anti-Arab. One doesn’t have to like it, or agree with it, but at least I understand it. But, once in power, Bibi has shown the ability to do what I called “complete 180’s”. He has, for all practical purposes, suggested to Hafez Assad through an businessman friend, that he’d be willing to give up on the Golan in return for peace. He would never admit this to his voters, of course. He used to say he would never shake the hand of “that terrorist”, Arafat. When in power, he not only shook his hand on numerous occasions, he also kissed him! In fact, he often referred to Arafat as “friend”. He has ordered IDF troops out of some major West Bank cities, and handed control to Arafat (not Abu Mazen!).

So Bibi is capable, and has the record, of doing essentially what any leader on the Left would do. Except, that he can do it far better and faster, because if/when he presents such an initiative to his electorates, quite a few will support it (many won’t, and will label him a “traitor”, like with Begin and Sharon), but by definition, almost the entire Left will support him! So in terms of getting majority support, he’s far more likely to achieve this than anyone on the Left, including Barak, Olmert (center), or Livni (quite inexperienced). HP suggested that Netnayahu may become Israel’s next “Rabin”. He may well be right, and that’s my hope as well. He doesn’t have the same military credentials, but Israelis, at least, are becoming quite tired of the old general-politicians. There are still quite a few around (funny enough, most are on the Left), but his ability to deliver (market) his ideas when the time comes, and his contacts abroad, and quite frankly his “leader-like aura”, will do the job.

Plus, there’s the good ‘ole narcissism that Wizart brings up every now and then. Bibi, like many other leaders in this world, absolutely LOVES himself. It is very likely, that he has already run through in his mind, many times, scenarios where he receives (with Assad?) a Nobel Peace prize, endless honorary doctorate awards in Harvard, Yale, and Cambridge, is hailed a “true hero in the pursuit of peace” everywhere around the world, and in fact is written up in the history books of Israel as THE leader who brought an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I may be exaggerating things a bit, but I bet I’m not that far off… And that can be understandable. He’s no fool, this Bibi. He reads the map at least as well as most do. Question is not what goal he sees at the end, but how he wants to achieve it. And for those who only believe in war, no, Bibi is not that stupid to believe that Israel can force its neighbors to accept peace only on our terms. He may believe that war is inevitable and, perhaps he’s even right the way things are moving nowadays. But either before it, or after, he will be willing to give up the West Bank and the Golan. He will order troops to vacate settlers, if necessary. His best mentors, and people he respected perhaps more than anyone, Begin and Sharon, did no less, and so can he.

To end this, I simply say that Netanyahu can almost without a doubt, do a far better job than Barak, Olmert, or Livni. Sad maybe, for those who hate to hear his anti-Arab rhetoric (myself included) … but true.

April 29th, 2008, 5:11 am


Alex said:

Rowan Berkeley said:

The fundamental problem in all these cases is not the physics of explosions, but the control of the mass media, which incessantly exploit the natural unwillingness of publics to believe that their mass media systematically and consciously repeat propaganda lies on command.

I am happy to find out that I am not the only one who is alarmed at the performance of “the media” … because of the media’s almost total failure to report “the truth” we are having to live with lies that often lead to wars and to lost opportunities.

I am not into conspiracy theories … I believe that only part of this failure is due to fundamental biases, “pro Israel” in many cases (like in ALL the Murdoch owned media for example).

But the rest are simply either

1) LAZY … reporting from the comfort of their home in Ohio and Texas on Lebanon’s complex political situation for example. How do you expect them to pick what side they are on in that case? … the side that their country (or their president) likes.

2) PATRIOTIC … standing by their country’s foreign policy objectives, as stated by the president and by state department, especially during the past few years when the country is at war.

3) … and another group repeats lies and impressions established intentionally by the biased group (Murdoch’s plus many, many others) because if The WSJ or The times of London say that what Israel attacked was a nuclear weapons factory, then .. it must be, right? .. surely they made sure the story is true before they both published it.

“The media” in America is very good at covering, and analyzing, any of the old classics … election campaigns, government spending, what happens on Capitol hill, or in the Supreme court …

But these days, what happens outside the borders of America can be as important as what happens inside America’s borders … yet “the Media” is far from qualified or willing to play the role it must play.

And it won’t get any better in the near future …

Here is what he is planning to do (from Newsweek)

This week the Murdochian Era of the Proper Newspaperman has its debut. When readers open their newspapers Monday morning, they will discover a Wall Street Journal fashioned to the tastes of the man who revolutionized media markets from Australia to North America. With its increased focus on politics, international news, culture and sports, Murdoch’s reconceived Journal represents nothing short of a formal declaration of war on that most venerable of journalistic institutions, The New York Times. Not since William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal challenged Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World in the late 19th century has there been such a clash of newspaper titans. As was the case when Hearst took on Pulitzer, Murdoch-the son of an Australian journalist-still believes newspapers are the most influential media for shaping the public discourse, even in this new-media century. The fight could escalate in unknown ways if billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ends up acquiring the Times. As Newsweek has learned, top associates of the onetime information executive are encouraging him to do just that.

April 29th, 2008, 6:10 am


Shai said:


Glad to see you online at 02:13 am Canada time! 🙂 I sent you an email yesterday… have a look after you wake up… In the meantime, another Qassam direct hit on a house in Sderot (no one killed). It is just a matter of time, it seems… This damn thing is getting out of control, and we’re doing everything wrong, as usual. At least on the Syrian track we might see some progress soon.

April 29th, 2008, 6:15 am


Alex said:


2:13 is nothing … I will be around for another hour : )

I’ll check your email next.

April 29th, 2008, 6:20 am


Shai said:


In the movie “13 Days” (about the Cuban Missile Crisis), one of the advisors to JFK was heard saying “Sleep is for the weak, Mr. President.”…

April 29th, 2008, 6:29 am


Zenobia said:

Stop talking for me or in my place. I don’t appreciate it.

As for T, he takes his time… trying to slip in(without directly naming me) some sexist insults – interestingly, when I wasn’t even around… that he thinks will pass by under the radar…

And, who told you I was a psychologist or trying to be one. Apparently, you were misinformed by someone trying to give you some “insider” tip.

I do think you are both kind of paranoid actually… (non-strictly speaking) with these strange references to Shai’s semi-“official” role or status as a, “diplomatic trainee” “operative”…It is simply bizarre.

April 29th, 2008, 7:25 am


Alex said:


I edited your last comment as well as three comments by T.


This blog is neutral. It is not pro regime change (as you suggested), and it is not pro regime (as AP suggests) … anyone is welcome as long as there are no insults and no personal attacks on other commentators and no attacks on religious groups in general and no general criticism of whole nations and no excessive and repetitive propaganda …

April 29th, 2008, 8:43 am


Alex said:

Head of Damascus think tank handling Israel track for Syria
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Israel, Basher Assad, Syria

The Syrian official in charge of the Turkish-mediated contacts with Israel is Samir Taqi, head of a Damascus-based research institute, Israeli officials told Haaretz Monday. The officials said Taqi was very close to decision-makers in Damascus and enjoyed the confidence of the Turkish government. People who know Taqi personally said Monday they believed he was very well-connected to the Syrian intelligence services.

Taqi served for years as an adviser to the previous Syrian president, Hafez Assad. In recent years he received the official title of adviser to the prime minister, and heads the Center of Oriental Studies, a political think tank.

Prior to taking up his advisory posts, Taqi, who is a Christian, was a cardiac surgeon, who studied medicine in London. In recent years he has has frequently met with journalists and academics to discuss political issues.
Last year, the Turks welcomed Taqi’s visit to northern Cyprus at the head of an unofficial Syrian delegation, when he met with with the foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. His act aroused the ire of Greek Cypriots, who oppose recognition of the Turkish part of the island as an independent state, which only Ankara recognizes.

Haaretz has learned that Taqi was the bearer of Israel’s main message to Syrian President Bashar Assad more than a week ago, following his visit to Ankara. Taqi’s principal contact in Ankara is Ahmet Davutoglu, a close associate of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Taki, in an interview broadcast on Saturday on Al Jazeera, spoke from Damascus and said Syria was interested in moving ahead in talks with Israel even during the present American administration. He said now was the time to prepare for for the pre-negotiation phase, to declare intentions and points of view, until the parties reach the point at which the Americans would be prepared to intervene.

Also interviewed was the head of the Israel-Syria Peace Society, Alon Liel, speaking from Ankara.

Taqi also said that a 10-kilometer drive from the offices where the interview was taking place, the first Israeli positions came into view.

He said that no one could rule Damascus without making the liberation of the Golan a top priority. In interviews to newspapers elsewhere in the world, Taqi has said in the past that Damascus is perturbed by the Israeli threat.

However, Taqi declined to pledge that a peace agreement with Israel would entail Syria’s breaking off relations with Iran and with terror organizations, as Israel demands. Taqi said that in the framework of a comprehensive peace, the Palestinian organizations and Hezbollah would have no reason to attack Israel.

Sources say that the fact that Taqi is handling negotiations is convenient for Syria, because it can present Taqi as an unofficial representative.

If Israel demands that an official Syrian representative be appointed opposite its representative, Yoram Turbovich, the Syrians might appoint the adviser to the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Riad Daudi

April 29th, 2008, 9:14 am


Alex said:

Go for it, Olmert
By Yoel Marcus
Tags: Bashar Assad, Syria

It seems too good to be true. But when the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes out of a meeting with the president of Syria with the news that Bashar Assad is prepared to work out a peace agreement with Israel and make the region a safer place, it’s worth a try.

We haven’t even digested this proposal from the man responsible for supplying most of the missiles that Hezbollah fired at us in the Second Lebanon War, and Assad has already revealed in an interview to a Qatari newspaper that Erdogan told him Olmert was prepared for a complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.

As is to be expected, this has thrown the whole country into a tizzy: He’s serious, he’s not serious; it will work, it won’t work. But what does it really matter? Isn’t talking better than shooting?
Our practice with Arab leaders has been that we never pay attention to what they say publicly. We didn’t take Sadat seriously when he declared he was willing to sacrifice a million soldiers to recover land in Sinai. We didn’t believe him, and got zapped with the Yom Kippur War. We didn’t believe Sadat when he declared that he was willing to appear in person in the Knesset to bring peace. He surprised us again: He came and addressed the Knesset.

Our luck was that Menachem Begin was the prime minister at the time, and not Golda Meir, who never believed a word that came out of an Arab leader’s mouth. If Golda was in power back then, the first question she would have asked was what he planned to say in the Knesset. The visit would never have happened.

Begin didn’t care what Sadat would say in the Knesset. What was important in his mind was the historic breakthrough of a peace treaty with Israel’s greatest and most powerful foe. For better or for worse, the peace treaty with Egypt, which brought in its wake a peace treaty with Jordan, has held up for 30 years.

To the credit of Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, let it be said that they all strove to make peace with Syria with varying degrees of enthusiasm so we could finally become a country with recognized and viable borders, and they did so in the belief that it would be easier to solve the Palestinian problem when Israel was at peace with countries that had plotted to destroy it.

All these endeavors failed, both because then president Hafez Assad played tough and because Israel fell in love with the Golan Heights and its charms, not to mention the defense establishment’s refusal to give up the Golan for strategic reasons.

According to Erdogan, Assad wants the talks to start at a low level, and only when positive results are achieved to have the leaders of the two countries meet. This low-level approach is doomed from the start. The greatness of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was that the end was known in advance. Sadat knew he would receive all of Sinai, and Israel knew there would be a contractual peace agreement.

Working out the nitty-gritty was indeed a nightmare that dragged on for a year and a half, until a formal treaty was signed on the White House lawn. In retrospect, if the process had begun with low-ranking officials haggling over the details without knowing what lay at the end, the talks would have gone bust. Ultimately, that is what has happened in various encounters with the Syrians.

Assad’s proposal is the sort of thing where you need to find out the end first. Syria has formal rights to the Golan Heights in the same way that Egypt had formal rights to Sinai. From our perspective, the Golan – like Sinai – is not part of the Greater Israel dream. We are not sentimentally bound to it as a holy place. What we have are bitter memories of bloodshed caused by Syrian aggression and infiltrating tanks.

Our experience with Syria’s keeping its promises with respect to military activity along the border has been satisfactory. The trouble is that while Syria may not be involved in any incidents outright, it has become a lifeline for Hezbollah, providing patronage, money and missiles, from Iran and its own arsenals. Syria plays host to the masterminds of Palestinian terrorism in Damascus and, above all, threatens us with its strategic alliance with Iran.

A peace agreement with Syria is the kind of thing that Israeli leaders need to examine under a microscope. It must include evicting Palestinian terror chiefs from Syria, an end to arming Hezbollah and, most importantly, severing strategic ties with Iran.

There is nothing that could create a more positive change in the Middle East than a peace accord between Israel and Syria. If Assad understands what is required of him, and he really wants it, that is stronger than any Israeli leader afraid that concessions on the Golan Heights will be rejected by the Knesset opposition or Israeli public opinion.

Go for it, Olmert.

April 29th, 2008, 9:18 am


ausamaa said:

“A peace agreement with Syria is the kind of thing that Israeli leaders need to examine under a microscope. It must include evicting Palestinian terror chiefs from Syria, an end to arming Hezbollah and, most importantly, severing strategic ties with Iran.” …and start using the Israeli Shekel instead of the Syrian Lira perhaps!

Then, Israel is better off forgeting about the whole thing. This is not going to happen. It did not happen in the past, it would not happen now. Syria’s issues are much bigger than merely regaining the Golan. There are things as, or more important than just that.

Don’t they get it?

Are they playing dumb, or is everyone just trying to cool off Bush-Chenny-Abrams during their last days in office??!!

April 29th, 2008, 9:55 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

As to the next figure-head for the Israeli political circus, my money would be on Livni, because the whole point about Kadima is that it has already absorbed half the Likud’s cadres, half of Labor’s cadres, and intermittently even Meretz (a party of exceptional vapidity), so it really controls the major part of the Israeli political spectrum. Livni herself is a strange character, up to her eyeballs in Mossad business – look at this marvellous photo and tell me she won’t sweep the networks when she gets going:
I called it “Cat’s Cradle” because of the hand gestures she is making.

April 29th, 2008, 10:13 am


Shual said:

Rowan Berkeley,

shes famous for the [hand-] gestures. One of my favorites, the “security threat”-gestures: [Iran].

April 29th, 2008, 11:28 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

hmm.. same fingers, too… maybe its a co-masonic sign.

p.s. – you can call me just “rowan”, people.

April 29th, 2008, 11:36 am


Shai said:


I agree with you. They’re not acting dumb, they’re doing the best they can, publicly. When it’s time to sit down at the table, they’ll voice very different demands and understanding. You must look at it from their point of view (and their need to stay in power vis-a-vis their electorates). And, you may also be right, a lot of it may have to do with the Bush-Cheney gang, and not causing them to stop the ball rolling even now, as they did for the past 8 years!

April 29th, 2008, 11:41 am


Shai said:

Rowan Berkeley,

Sorry to ruin the party, but although Tzipi Livni does look far better than Golda Meir did, she is still no leadership material at this stage. She is inexperienced, both in politics, as well as in leadership. While Kadima, Labour, and Meretz are discussing merging options now, creating a very strong Leftist bloc, Livni cannot be its leader. And, even if by some miracle she was chosen, she certainly cannot defeat Netanyahu in general elections. It would take a mere 30 seconds of airtime to show her inexperience. But, she may be ready to take up the challenge 4 or 8 years from now (probably the latter). Bibi, despite his anti-Arab rhetoric, is still a far better option… and a much more likely one.

April 29th, 2008, 11:46 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

right, MISTER SHAI, sorry to have invited you to be over-familiar with me. I shall bear in mind that you prefer to preserve your hauteur.

April 29th, 2008, 11:56 am


Shai said:

Did I miss something here? Oh, do you mean to call you “Rowan”? I just saw that now… sorry! 🙂

April 29th, 2008, 12:37 pm


norman said:


I sort of agree with you , I hope we are both right, The region can not take too many wars,

April 29th, 2008, 1:08 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

Ok, Shai, thanks for apologising

Great digging by Jim Lobe on the Likud networks:

April 29th, 2008, 1:45 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


What’s Bibi’s game plan vis-a-vis Syria, should he be elected?

I can guess that his hammering of Olmert about the “promises” made to Asad was mostly just politics, but what do you think he will demand in exchange for peace with Syria?

April 29th, 2008, 2:18 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

I would love to see some polling data that even remotely suggests that Likud might win the next Israeli general election. This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I could understand Hebrew really fluently – at the moment I am at a sort of early-intermediate stage, but I have a lot of good learning materials, and I am getting along OK. The relevance of this is as follows. The only ‘Israeli newspaper’ I am aware of that consistently pushes the Likud line is the JPost, which, as far as I know, doesn’t even have a Hebrew edition. There is a joke about this, which says that the only reason the JPost was created to give the US Ambassador something to read over breakfast.

If Shai were to tell me that Ma’ariv is solid Likud and the biggest seller in the domestic Hebrew-language newspaper market, for instance, I would be completely unable to check his statement’s accuracy, because it dropped its English-language pages some time ago. I think Yediot is closer to the religious parties than to Likud, but again, I am judging by the English-language edition. As for TV and radio, I think it is fair to assume the spread is similar : you have lots of Kadima-oriented, ‘centrist’ channels, and a few hard-core religious channels, but no Likudnik channels AFAIK.

Another point is that within Likud the Feiglin faction acts as the transmission belt between the old-line secular Likudniks and the newer, more religious tendencies, and if Bibi smashed or expelled the Feiglins, then they would go straight to the National Union/ National Religious Party bloc. Ten years ago, Bibi had a very effective alliance with the Lubavitchers, which wouldn’t be true now. I think he is a has-been.

But if you read those Jim Lobe articles, you will see how the Likud connections with the US-centric neocon machinery are thriving, extremely well funded, and quite professional at gaining niches in the US-centric power structure worldwide. That in itself brings no Israeli votes, but it creates a pont of entry for large injections of cash, which can derail the democratic political process by creating ‘facts on the ground’, a la Irving Moskowitz. Correct me on all this, Shai, but I hope that for a non-Hebrew reader, it isn’t too pathetically off-beam.

April 29th, 2008, 2:54 pm


norman said:

An Israeli Concept of a New Role for Syria
Mostafa Zein Al-Hayat – 29/04/08//

The James Baker Institute issued a study in 2000 on Syrian-Israeli negotiations, which were almost crowned by a peace agreement between the two sides. But at the last minute, the then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is now defense minister, pulled back for many reasons. Most importantly, he was facing Benjamin Netanyahu in an upcoming election and was unable to sell the idea of an agreement among settlers and the extreme right political parties.
The study was written by the head of the Israeli negotiating team, General Uri Saguy, while the former US ambassador in Damascus, Edward Djeredjian, wrote the introduction. The Syrians say today that the negotiators cleared 80 percent of the obstacles to the agreement. A few months ago, they were even asking for a resumption of the process, based on the results that were reached in 2000.
In the study, General Saguy said that the conditions for signing an agreement with Syria had become ripe. Damascus was convinced that an all-out Arab war was no longer realistic, after the exit of Egypt and Jordan from the equation. It was also convinced that Israel was an invincible regional power, while Damascus shared common interests with Arabs, most importantly confronting radicals (who have now become Islamic extremists).
Saguy, after his description of these ripe conditions, moved on to discuss the necessity of signing a Syrian peace agreement that would return the Golan Heights, with Israel retaining sovereignty over water sources. For this purpose, he proposed the 1923 borders (of the Mandate) instead of the 1967 borders, since the latter are “unrealistic.” In his view, Syria would agree to this, in exchange for Tel Aviv and Washington’s acknowledgement of its tutelage over Lebanon. He saw this tutelage as being important during a time of peace, because it prevented extremist movements from acting against the two states.
Many things have changed since the 2000 negotiations. Syria has continued to support the resistance. It has altered its domestic equations. The elder Assad, who could have sold a peace agreement, is gone. Lebanon, which was a strong card in the hands of Damascus, may become a card to be played against it. Israel withdrew from the south and fought a losing war against the resistance, which has become practically a regular army, with a considerable capacity to take on any confrontation. Iran has entered the war game. It has strong influence, via Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine as well. The US, which was the sponsor of the negotiations, now rejects even dialogue with Syria. Therefore, what has prompted the government of Ehud Olmert to agree to Turkish mediation in resuming the negotiations at this time?
Israel believes that it can now get Syria to make important concessions, in exchange for a withdrawal from the Golan. Some of these concessions are in line with US demands, such as breaking the ties between Damascus and Tehran, which in Washington’s view, has become a real threat. If an all-out Arab war against Israel has become practically impossible, due to the absence of any Arab solidarity, the Syrian-Iranian alliance poses a new threat if Syria remains outside the equations drawn up by the US administration. The July War of 2006 demonstrated that a comprehensive war without the Arabs is possible if Iran, Syria and Hezbullah, not to mention Hamas, take part. More importantly, peace with Syria, and its joining the moderate camp in the region, would keep the specter of fundamentalist movements away from Israel, as Damascus would take up the task of combating such groups, with this alliance.
In 2000, Barak preferred withdrawal from Lebanon over forging peace with Syria. This put Syria before two choices: support the resistance or confront the Lebanese. Damascus took the side of the resistance. Today, Barak and Olmert are trying to use negotiations with Syria to split it off, along with its allies, from the Palestinian issue. However, domestic conditions in Syria and Damascus’ own image of itself and its role do not indicate that it is prepared for such a change.

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April 29th, 2008, 3:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai is exercising a large amount of wishful thinking. Since the left cannot bring peace, he hopes that Bibi does not really mean what he says and that the right will do what the left can’t.

Bibi will have to bring any peace deal about the Golan to a referundum before signing. I am sure this will be a condition for the other right wing parties to join his coalition. So even if Bibi becomes Shai’s fantasy politician, he will never get a majority of Israelis to vote for a deal in which Syria does not flip and there are iron clad guarantees for Israel’s security, a deal which Syria will never agree to unless Asad’s regime was in real jeopardy.

Peace with Syria will have to wait. Let’s see how the commodity and food shortages of the next few years play out. I am sure why-discuss can explain to us why this is good for Syria.

April 29th, 2008, 3:21 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

The typical thing the Likudniks will do to try to beat the mass media spectrum I described is produce lots of free newspapers. This has been effective in Europe, to some extent, and I have become so cynical now that I can imagine another sort of ‘transmission belt’ whereby disinformation is planted in the free newspapers and then picked up by the commercial ones.

April 29th, 2008, 3:43 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Ok, so I’ll ask you. What will it take for “a majority of Israelis to vote for a deal”?

Syria will not “flip”… that’s just not realistic. Or, at least, it will bend over backwards to make sure that it is not SEEN as flipping. So, then, what kinds of iron-clad guarantees will be tempting enough for Israelis to feel good about peace with Syria?

My suspicion is that the Israelis will not be satisfied with Asad speaking for Hizbullah. They will want to hear guarantees from the horse’s mouth.

April 29th, 2008, 3:45 pm


Shai said:


I have two seconds, and I’ll be back in an hour… Bibi HAS already offered the Golan to Assad, without flipping, tossing, or kissing. Even Itzik Mordechai, his previous Defense Minister acknowledges this – despite Bibi’s current dismissing of this fact, while crucifying Olmert for being “irresponsible”. QN, I’ll go into more detail later, but Bibi certainly CAN deliver. AIG, we all exercise wishful thinking, that’s probably a good thing every now and then, no? 🙂

April 29th, 2008, 4:11 pm


ausamaa said:

What will it take for “a majority of Israelis to vote for a deal”?

A majority of Syrians selecting to join the Feb 14 “vision” perhaps!!

April 29th, 2008, 4:21 pm


Boaz Wachtel said:

From one Israeli to anotherIsraeliguy:
When PM Begin returned Sinai to Egypt he did not conduct a refferandum, and went to the Knesset for a vote, so why should Bibi conduct one when Israel gives back the Golan Heights?
The Israeli political right (you, and some centrists I admit) are in the (bad) habit of proposing delay tactics in order to maintain the region in a prepetual conflict because they know that if peace will break one day in the Middle East the right wing parties will have nothing to offer to the Israeli public and their entire power base will be diminished. They also suffer from what I call the “more disease” – take as much as possible from the Arabs (land, water, rights etc.) and give as little as possible in return. Hope for the best, (a republican US president) delay negotiations, creat facts on the ground that are almost unreversable (settlements), find excuses why not to negotiate (Assad the father is too old, Assad the son is too young, he is too weak etc), make preconditions (drop your allies immediately and become a swiss), humiliate the other side and so on. This simplistic, but diseasterous modus apparatus of the Israeli right wing parties brought the region grief, wars and blood shed throughout the years, (with Begin being the exception) pulling Israel into spiral of coccupation and a number of wars that could have been prevented if strategic thinking and not emotional or religious feelings was the dominant decision making mode.
The time has come to change that mode of thinking and use realistic policies that take into account Arab rights and dignity and the desire of most people to live a war free lives. This requires us to take calculated risks, with proper security measures in order to defuse the danger of war and bring peace to this region of the world.

April 29th, 2008, 4:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We fundamentally disagree on why there is no peace. I strongly believe it is because the Arab states are not democracies and not cohesive societies. The Israeli public including myself have heard your spiel and weighed it against actual things that happened on the ground and we are not convinced. The first major flaw of many in your argument is that until 1977 it was the LEFT that ruled Israel, not the right.

Another major flaw that you have to overcome is that we are making our decisions based on facts on the ground not emotions as you strangely believe. No wonder the left has grown so weak in Israel.

April 29th, 2008, 5:02 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

At this stage it would take a miracle for Israelis to accept a deal with Asad. If Asad leases the Golan to Israel for 99 years, that would be a deal Israelis would vote for, but that will not happen.

Another impossibility is that the Golan remains completely unmilitarized and the residents there are allowed to stay and keep their property. Also highly unlikely.

Or perhaps the Saudis give Israel 1 trillion dollars for the Golan.

But this is all in the realm of fantasy. After the second intifada, the Gaza and Lebanon withdrawal there is zero trust towards the Arabs by most Israeli voters. They will not be willing to take any chance on a peace deal.

Even Shai acknowledges that no peace deal can bring “justice” as most Arabs perceive it. That means, that many Arabs will find any deal injust and that means radical organizations a la Hizballah that will keep the fight with Israel going. No thank you.

April 29th, 2008, 5:11 pm


norman said:

Saudi FM: We don’t need any mediation between us and Syria
Published: Tuesday, 29 April, 2008 @ 6:32 PM in Beirut (GMT+2)
Beirut/ Riyadh – Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said yesterday that the Kingdom and Syria were in direct contact with each other and denied that relations had come to a halt.

“Relations have not been cut. They are still ongoing and communication between us continues,” Prince Saud told reporters yesterday, while addressing a joint press conference with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who arrived in the Kingdom on Sunday at the head of an official delegation.

Prince Saud expressed surprise at Iranian suggestions that it was ready to mediate between the Kingdom and Syria. “I do not think there is any need for a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Syria. We are surprised by offers of outside mediation between us,” he said.

Speaking about the Norwegian foreign minister’s visit to the Kingdom, Prince Saud said he and Store discussed ways of boosting bilateral ties, and the signing of a free trade agreement between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“We are hopeful of a final signing of the trade agreement. This (the agreement) would boost economic relations, and increase mutual trade and investment,” he said.

On his part, Foreign Minister Store said his visit was aimed at boosting bilateral relations with the Kingdom. “We are in a stage of cooperation in (oil) carbon injection… There is new advanced technology which can be used in this aspect,” Store said.

“Our factories could do an ideal job in this regard. And we can cooperate with the Kingdom in this matter. We call on the Kingdom to invest in this,” he said, adding that Norway is the world’s third largest producer of natural gas and the fifth largest producer of oil.

Carbon injection for improved recovery has been applied since the early 1970s in many oil fields, mainly in the US and Canada. Output from large natural carbon sources is piped to relevant oil fields for injection. Some industrial sources in the region also contribute to carbon deliveries.

Prince Saud said that other topics relating to oil, such as the protection of the environment of which Saudi Arabia pledged $300 million for research purposes in the last OPEC meeting in Riyadh, were also discussed.

On regional issues, the two ministers discussed the situation in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Darfur, as well as the Iranian nuclear issue.

Prince Saud said Saudi Arabia was hopeful Norway would play a role to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. He also lauded the efforts played by Norway to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people via communication channels.

“We appreciate Norwegian humanitarian efforts to ease the suffering of the Palestinian people. We look forward to more of these efforts,” Prince Saud said, adding that the international community should demand that Israel lift its siege on Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to enter.

Even though the Norwegian foreign minister agreed with Prince Saud on the issue of lifting the siege on the Palestinian people, he recognized Israel’s right to defend itself from rockets fired into Israeli territories. “This complicates the problem,” he said. “We are a middle player. And the only thing we can offer is humanitarian services.”

Assad’s visit to the kingdom

Reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad is planning to visit the Saudi kingdom are not true, Saudi Arabia said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said the kingdom had not received a request for Assad to visit.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Damascus have soured over the past couple of years, primarily over the crisis in Lebanon. Riyadh accuses Syria of perpetuating the political gridlock in Lebanon, which has been without a president since last November. Syria and Iran support the opposition bloc in Lebanon.

Also, Syria is seen as being behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Saudi Arabian king Abdullah boycotted the Arab League summit in Damascus last month and decided to send a low level delegation.

The recent beheading of three Syrian nationals in the Saudi Kingdom further strained these relations. Riyadh denied there were any political motives behind the execution of the Syrians, who were accused of drug trafficking.

Meanwhile, the Qatari-based Al Watan newspaper quoted unnamed Arab leaders as saying “the relations between Syria and other Arab countries are on the verge of a deep abyss.”

“Assad himself is responsible for his isolation, because of the destruction he wrought on Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine and because of the alliances he struck with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas … Assad’s biggest problem is that he refuses to mend the mistakes he made and insists that Lebanon will be seen as a Syrian area. This is something that all Arab states oppose,” the unnamed sources told Al Watan.

The sources warned that so long as Assad remains an ally of Iran and other extremist forces, Arab states would continue to refrain from forging relations with Damascus.

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April 29th, 2008, 5:14 pm


Shai said:


Bibi Netanyahu is a pragmatic person. This is why he will opt for peace with the Arabs, as he’s done in his previous term as PM. He will try to close a deal with Syria this time around, especially since Bashar is in power and not his father. He will stop talking to Abu Mazen, and will await to see what happens amongst the Palestinians (closing of the Fatah/Hamas rift, civil war?, etc.) And he will hope to get the rest of the Arab world to pressure the Palestinians to come to reasonable agreement with Israel about the West Bank, and about the refugee problem.

But, Bibi is also a politician, and the leader of the Right. He cannot possibly get elected if he says today any of the things I just mentioned. He must talk tough. He must sound “smart and uncompromising” to his electorates. He must remind them of the Bibi who wrote the book “How the West Can Win” back in the 1980’s. And he will. And he’ll get elected, most likely.

And then, if and when the opportunity arrives, assuming for instance that Bashar will still be extending his hand in peace, Bibi will be there to receive it. In his first term as PM, Bibi sent a good friend (an American businessman) to Hafez Assad, and passed the message along that he is willing to give back the Golan. This happened BEFORE even starting to negotiate! Bibi-supporters out there who don’t like to believe me, can go ask Itzik Mordechi, his previous Defense Minister, who’ll acknowledge this fact (let alone Bashar himself). So Bibi’s not the problem. AIG may be right about the referendum issue, BUT only IF this law will be passed. It has been suggested, and now the entire Right is hurrying their a**es off trying to pass it quickly, so that indeed the Golan cannot be returned without a national referendum. Boaz is right in that today, Olmert, or Bibi, or even Bondo (if he was Israeli PM), could give back the Golan without a referendum. Of course, most will say it’s not that easy, and in many ways it’s not, but Begin did it “just like that”, without the support of most Israelis. In fact, many in his own party labeled him a “traitor”, no less!

So the safest thing to assume, is that this law WILL pass soon, and that indeed 50.1% of Israeli voters will need to be for returning the Golan to Syria. If I took a poll this evening, chances are that 70% would vote against it, even in return for peace. Indeed the battle for public opinion will be an uphill one. But, we don’t need to convince 100% or 95% of Israelis to support it. We don’t even need to convince AIG… (though I would very much like to). We need 50.1%, which means another 20%-30% (just in case). Is it easy? Absolutely not. As AIG correctly stated, most Israelis strongly distrust the Arabs. They are, at best, “numb” to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and don’t seem to be in a particular hurry to end their apathy. Something is needed to “rudely” awaken them. It could either be unexpected war or, better yet, unexpected peace.

That sounds all soft and emotional, and it really cannot happen without a lot of hard work. What Bashar and Olmert are doing now (with the help of the Turks, thank god), is the beginnings of this laborious task. They are planting, once more, the seeds to the possibility of trust and readiness to hear the other side. Eight very bad years have to be overcome in the next few months, and that’s no easy task, especially amongst the public, who are normally not exposed to 1/1,000th of what is going on behind closed doors. Olmert’s (or Bibi’s) greatest task will indeed be to slowly convince Israelis that they have no better alternative, than to give up the Golan in return for peace. That this opportunity did not exist always, and may not exist forever. That he (and his cabinet) find a new and different spirit in Syria and its leadership. That if we miss this historic moment, we may endure decades of further bloodshed and violence.

It’s one thing to read words like I’ve just mentioned in the paper, or to even hear them spoken by some analyst on TV, or even by Dr. Alon Liel in an interview. It’s a whole other thing to hear your Prime Minister speaking and looking directly at you, on national TV, at 20:00 in the evening. The effect is very different. At the end of the day, we elect our leaders to… amongst other things, lead us. And although quite rarely (unfortunately), at certain junctions in Israel’s history, these leaders have been called upon to make a decision for the Israeli people. Indeed, for Olmert this will not be easy, because the entire Right will be against him, almost by definition. But if Bibi uttered the exact same words, I’m willing to bet almost anything that at least 50.1% of Israelis will be behind him the next morning.

That’s what’s so strange, and in a way amazing, about the political reality in Israel. Those who lead one side, essentially carry out the policy of the other. It is also true about the Left. AIG is correct. In fact, more settlements were built under Leftist governments than under Rightist ones! The 1967 war, and occupation, began under the Left. Today, under Barak and Olmert, stagnation (or moving backwards). This is the reality, whether we like it or not. Perhaps one day, if and when there will be a system much closer to a two-party system like in the U.S., perhaps things could be different. But for now, Bibi has a much better chance to withdraw from the Golan, because his opposition will only come from within, and most will support him. AIG, you don’t need to find this so terrible, the idea of a politician changing his/her platform 180 degrees is not foreign to other nations. How was JFK elected? A senator wanted to actually call for re-election in the U.S., once the Bomber and Missile gaps became known in 1961.

But we don’t need to go that far away or back in time. Best examples are Begin and Sharon. In both cases, AIG (as most Likud supporters) would have said the same about giving back the Sinai, Gaza, and the West Bank. In fact, they did. By the way, as a nice little ending note, when Menachem Begin brought the idea of the Sinai in return for peace with Egypt before the Knesset, guess who voted against it? That’s right… Mr. Ehud Olmert! My friend AIG, times change, and people change. And now, it’s time for peace. Democracy, and the much desired true freedom for the people of the Middle East, will have to wait just a bit longer. The first step to reaching these, seems to be via the cessation of war. And if that means the return of the Golan and the West Bank, and the beginning of a superficial peace and an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict, then that’s what we must do. Bibi understands that no less than you and I do. Perhaps even better.

April 29th, 2008, 6:26 pm


Rowan Berkeley said:

The zionist “Left” is no less colonialist than the zionist “Right.” It has a different rhetorical style, and a preference for slightly lower-profile action, or less grandiose action, sometimes the reportage is so poor it’s hard to tell which. For instance, it is only quite recently that it has been demonstrated in english-language analyses that the growth of West Bank settlement activity was more or less unchanged whichever party was in power. What changed was the rhetoric, that’s all. So, the way that the “Left” is painted by the “Right” as barely on this side of liquidating or surrendering the entire zionist enterprise is really just a rhetorical illusion, comparable to the “tough cop, con cop” tactic in which an arrestee is yelled at by one policeman and then apologised to by the other, the two alternating to play on the arrestee’s weakness.

Also, the claim that “democracies don’t make war on one another” is so easily exploded that as with other neocon rhetorical strategies it can only be maintained in circulation by literal control of the mass media, especially the pseudo-scholarly mass media, like the Weekly Standard for instance. Even the choice to use this rhetorical strategy as public propaganda is switched on and off opportunistically, as even ordinary mass media consumers without internet access probably notice – you may recall when Bush lionised Sharansky and touted his book around at photo ops, then a week or two later completely forgot about him.

April 29th, 2008, 6:28 pm


T said:


Sorry to hear your censoring. The pro-Israeli pressure here got to be too much for you? I figured it would be a matter of time!
I wouldnt want them to sue and close down the site or threaten a cut-off in Josh’s funding. (Do calling people wacko, nuts and paranoid qualify in your book as insults?)
Odd neutrality you have going here. Or maybe it is actually routine.

April 29th, 2008, 6:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why argue? You vote for Bibi and I’ll vote for Bibi and we will see what happens.

April 29th, 2008, 6:34 pm


Shai said:


I always added that little parenthesis comment “(AIG, don’t get too excited…)” 🙂 We’ll see. A lot will depend on how things develop in the next few months. If there are no major breakthroughs or surprises, chances are quite good that I’ll be doing just that. I don’t love the idea, but I think given the circumstances today (and my extreme disappointment in Barak and Olmert), that it will be a better choice for Israel, and for the region.

April 29th, 2008, 6:40 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

What will it take for “a majority of Israelis to vote for a deal”?

A majority of Syrians selecting to join the Feb 14 “vision” perhaps!!


Are you against a peace deal between Syria and Israel? Do you think that this would represent a selling out to the West (like March 14)? Just curious.

April 29th, 2008, 6:49 pm


Shai said:


I haven’t fully answered your question about Bibi’s game plan – sorry… Of course I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that he’ll try to get as close as possible to having Syria dismantle its alliances with Iran/HA/Hamas. He knows he won’t be 100% successful, but he has to “sell it” to his people, or else (if there is a referendum in the end), they won’t vote “FOR”. But this is where I trust Bibi much more than, say, Barak. Bibi is both a great politician, as well as a great salesman. He knows how to market himself, and his ideas. He knows how to ask Syria to help him sell this deal. And together, they’ll find the “winning formula”. Bibi will ask Bashar to come to Jerusalem (or Tel-Aviv), to stand aside him, and to say that Syria is willing to change the page in our horrific history together, for the benefit of the future and all the children of this region. And every person will hear in that what they want to hear. Syria will never agree to end its political relationship with Iran, and will not sell out the Palestinians. I believe Bibi knows this very well.

April 29th, 2008, 7:01 pm


Alex said:


The vast majority of your, and others’ comments were never censored … There is no censoring of ideas as long as they are backed by facts or they are clearly identified as personal opinions, in that case I hope anyone who is expressing his personal opinion would be a bit less assertive and protective of his personal opinion.

For example, Akbar Palace (above) is again so sure that now we have a proof that Syria was building nuclear weapons. Akbar habibi … if you decide to believe the CIA presentation, good for you, but relax on making fun of people who do not believe it.

And T, don’t worry, no one will sue Joshua. This is a blog, not a commercial newspaper. But that does not mean that we should tolerate anyone who calls all Muslims “terrorists” or all Jews “greedy”.

Zenobia wrote to me last night. She was very upset at what you called her. We really should not joke with people we do not know personally. I joked with QN (making him 17 year old) but I know he will not mind it.

Personal insults are fun, but they are not very useful for most of the readers. Thousands of visitors read these comments every day. Let’s do our best to spare them our occasionally childish dialog.

And let’s not insult anyone’s religion.

April 29th, 2008, 7:05 pm


norman said:


Amen to all.

April 29th, 2008, 7:13 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


You are the model moderator. Walla, you belong in politics. If you were Lebanese you’d be Berri (I mean that as a compliment).

T, let’s bury the hatchet, begin a new chapter, turn over a new leaf, pass the peace pipe, hug it out, wipe the slate clean, start afresh, forgive and forget, let bygones be bygones, go back to the drawing board, kiss and make up, shake on it, etc.

Or, as we like to say,



April 29th, 2008, 7:19 pm


Shai said:


Will an Israeli leader have to recite all that before signing a peace treaty with his Syrian counterpart? 😉

April 29th, 2008, 7:22 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

All that and more, Shai. All that and more…


April 29th, 2008, 7:29 pm


norman said:


He just has to sign.

April 29th, 2008, 7:29 pm


Shai said:


If that’s the case, then Bibi can do it. In’shalla.

April 29th, 2008, 7:35 pm


Alex said:


Thanks for the Berri compliment. Of course I take it as a compliment and hope to be like him when I am his age.

I would be even more impressed if after all his maneuvering of the past few months, Lebanon does manage to elect General Sleiman as its new President and everyone agrees to reform Lebanon’s election laws. That would be worth all the wait and chaos which was mostly free of large scale violence … thanks in part to Berri’s skills.

April 29th, 2008, 7:38 pm


wizart said:


Just a final note for your future reference.

I’ve been around the blog enough to have a studied opinion about what’s considered respect and what’s considered verbal abuse. I agree we’ve all had enough of this argument already so I’ll be clear and more direct with you since you were asking me.

If none of the list below applied to you before you decided to hit back at T for at least three times then perhaps I was wrong and in that case I would gladly offer my apologies to anyone I offended.

Categories Of Verbal Abuse

Blocking and diverting
Accusing and blaming
Judging and criticizing
Name calling
Abusive anger

Palestinians are a sensitive and traumatized group of people and they have every right to be paranoid about anything Israelis say given their history with them. So for you QN to be seen actively encouraging the Israelis to voice their opinions while discouraging two new Palestinian supporters from expressing their views on a blog about Syria is frankly outrageous in my opinion. I’m sure it’s not your intention to do so although that has been my perception recently and I thought I’ll bring it to your attention and I did.

April 29th, 2008, 7:42 pm


Shai said:

Hi Rowan,

You asked me earlier about polls. Here are two sources I found, in English, which are of the past 3-4 months. Both indicate a very clear win for Bibi, and for the Likud. Only exception is if Kadima-Labor-Meretz merge (which is being discussed right now), thereby creating a strong Left bloc, but I imagine the Right would counter that easily with its own, and then win.

As for the newspapers, none of the top-3 are geared towards the “religious”. Ha’aretz is of course deemed Left. Yediot is more Center-wise. And Ma’ariv is probably more towards the Right. As far as I know, there isn’t a major paper that is clearly geared towards the Right. AIG can correct me if I’m wrong.

April 29th, 2008, 8:00 pm


T said:


I was having a converation with Shai that was quite frankly- none of her business. And it wasnt even directed at Shai personally, but at Shai’s position as the Israeli state rep. It was only after she jumped down my throat that I responded likewise. I’m sure she didnt mention that.

“I shouldn’t have to forfeit this blog to the likes of you. YOU are the ‘thug’ actually. And I should be less ill if you would go to your own wacko…blog and be the stereotyped antagonist that you obviously like to be.”

I was discussing with Shai and she jumped in uninvited. (This was on prior thread headed by Scott Ritter’s piece- not this one) I have explained to Shai my comment “manipulative” (that touched off this cyclone) was directed at his state position as an Israeli rep where I thought they had a hidden agenda- was not personally directed at him the person. Did you read the entire thread? Maybe you should if you havent.

I have never called “all Jews greedy”. Bondo said that. I dont have any affiliation with Bondo- tho she lumped us together (blunt style, anti-Israel views maybe?) but I am not responsible for what he says. And some of his comments were crass/gross. Is that my fault?

I did say jews control the media- and I can back that w/ demographic stats if you need, tho the dig will take some work. Maybe I’ll just submit a list of links.

And where did I insult her religion?
(Not trying to be contrary, but some of the charges? I think she just doesnt like my viewpoint.)


On the neocon media issue- the circle is quite elect- I’m sure you know. For ex: Top CNN honcho Wolf Blitzer is former AIPAC spokesman and Jerusalem Post honcho. Media-wide the spectrum is quite narrow- and that includes the “Left” gatekeepers also.

April 29th, 2008, 8:06 pm


Shai said:


If haven’t had a chance yet, please read my comment:

Alex, will you please tell T that I’m no “state rep”? Alon Liel was Israel’s Director General of the Foreign Ministry. He served in the diplomatic corp for over 30 years and, as such, is getting a state pension. If I was a state rep, I too would be getting a state pension. I wish I was one… but I’m not…

By the way, Wolf Blitzer from cnn is also an Israeli…

April 29th, 2008, 8:26 pm


T said:


Please calm down. You have started to use all capitals in your punctuation in a way that worries me for your health!?

I was referring to what I said/thought on a prior thread-only. I get it that you are NOT an employee- we are covering prior threads’ melodramas, not the present. Trying to clear up the need for any future blog babysitting by Alex?! Too time-wasteful.

April 29th, 2008, 8:32 pm


Shai said:


I was using capitals, because I don’t know how to use bold or italics on this blog… Until your comment just now, I still did not understand that you had changed your mind. You never responded to the comment I made about it. Anyhow, no worries about my health (just yet). And no melodramas, from my point of view.

Just in case, I removed the capitals, even from “CNN”. 😉

Lyla Tov! (Not “Lyla Kafta”)

April 29th, 2008, 8:35 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I’m still scratching my head about this, but no need to pursue it further. Apologies for any offense caused.

April 29th, 2008, 8:38 pm


SimoHurtta said:

No offence Alex, but haven’t Zenobia and Shai several times in the past became “personal” and used personal insulting. Actually I do not remember anybody using against me such personal non relevant “bullshit” as Shai did. Also Zenobia got extremely personal and begun swearing when I suggested that she doesn’t use that modern text messaging style in her writings (it makes it difficult to read), not at least to keep up her “modern image”. I would have suggested the same to this Bondo guy, but after the “queen zenobioa” experiences I did not dare to do that. 🙂

You Alex seem to be very “protective” when it becomes the “human rights” of Zenobia and Shai. But you did not react much as a moderator when Shai commanded me to stick my head in the place where the Finnish sun doesn’t shine, delivered with those several “relevant” Sauna and Nokia etc comments. I have also notices that these two commentators are the first in complaining of personal insults, but are also often the first to deliver them.

I am not personally loosing my night’s sleep for personal insults against me, I can defend myself. But Alex do not judge T or any others without being balanced and forgetting the others personal insults.

April 29th, 2008, 8:41 pm


T said:


Well I cant bold or italicize or underline either. And I still cant use the emoticons, which means I should no longer joke around here as it may be taken at face value. Maybe someday blogs will be voice-access and that sort of thing will be easier.

what is Tov? like mazel tov?
kafta? like kafta kebab? Please explain.

April 29th, 2008, 8:42 pm


Shai said:


And I was trying to teach you emoticons back then… I was hoping at least you’d teach me the bold/italics…

“Tov” means good. Ya’ani Lyla Tov = Good Night. Mazal Tov = Good Luck.

“Kafta” must be a word in Turkish, not in Hebrew.

April 29th, 2008, 8:48 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

I’m taking this opportunity to change the subject to something much more controversial, polarizing, potentially conflict-producing:

Haifa banned from Bahrain

Bahrain’s Islamist-dominated parliament on Tuesday approved an urgent motion asking the government to ban a performance by Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, known for her sexy looks and revealing outfits.

Sunni and Shia Islamist lawmakers joined hands to push through the motion, which requires the government to take the necessary measures to stop the show, timed to coincide with Labour Day on Thursday, a parliamentary statement said.

The move by the 40-member parliament, where Islamists hold three-quarters of seats, came despite assurances by organizers that the Lebanese superstar would dress modestly during the show, which would be reserved for families and respect Bahrain’s traditions.

Islamist MPs regularly campaign to stop shows and other forms of entertainment deemed to violate Islamic tenets in Bahrain, which has traditionally been relatively liberal by the standards of the conservative Gulf region.

Four years ago, Sunni Islamist lawmakers, who are close to the government, forced Saudi-owned MBC satellite television to suspend the production of an Arabic version of the reality TV show Big Brother that was being filmed in Bahrain, charging that the show flouted Islamic traditions.

QN asks: “What’s the problem??”


April 29th, 2008, 8:50 pm


T said:


I hear you need a special program to do emoticons, that is why it wont work. You gave me MAC instructions- I have PC. I am going to get my workman to install them. I also cant cut & paste pics like I used to- must have pushed some wrong button here somewhere and cancelled it out.

April 29th, 2008, 8:57 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

T, try this:

Type : then – then )

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t in my experience.


See, that time it didn’t work.

As for bold and italics, just go to Google and type “html tags”, and you can find a million primers that explain the method.

April 29th, 2008, 9:00 pm


Shai said:

T, Ok. Also ask him about bold/italics, and then teach me.

April 29th, 2008, 9:01 pm


ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

Yessssss, exactly.

I am against a peace DEAL between Syria and Isarael, but I am for a just and comprehensive peacefull agreement that includes Golan, Lebanon, and the Palestinians.

There is a difference, you know!

April 29th, 2008, 9:01 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I think you are right (about the difference, I mean).

April 29th, 2008, 9:07 pm


Shai said:


Are those comments really from 2006? How do you still have them? Well, I don’t suggest digging up from the past, because that causes others to dig up as well, and then this whole exercise becomes very unhealthy. I agree though that we should be fair with everyone, not just with pro-Israelis… 🙂

April 29th, 2008, 9:08 pm


Alex said:


I support banning Haifa Wehbe. But if they ever ban Nanci Ajram, they will hear from my Baathist friends back there in Damascus.

T, Simo

I apologize, I agree. But I personally invited Shai to participate here, so I feel a bit uncomfortable when he few people here treat him like they did. And Zenobia also felt very uncomfortable for the way Shai is treated here sometimes. If you look at Wizart’s list … it was perhaps not right for those of you who JUDGE Shai’s role without knowing … I might be wrong and you might be right (that Shai is an “Israeli government” agent) .. but until we KNOW, it is not polite to call him names.


In the future, if you feel the need to speak louder to someone here, then please speak just a bit louder … don’t take it all the way to 11

April 29th, 2008, 9:32 pm


SimoHurtta said:

QN asks: “What’s the problem??”

Don’t worry QN. Christian movements, our Christian Democrat party aided with secular feminist organizations frequently try to get noticed by complaining of to naked women in commercials etc. Without doubt the “Christians” would complain if we would send to Eurovision song competition a women in bikini and big breast implants. These religious groups did not like our Lord named band which won the competition some years ago. Why because they use devil like costumes. Moral conservatism is the lifeblood of all religious movements/parties all around the world.

A funny tale from Finland. Here is established an Islamic party, which demands Sharia law among other things. The Christian Democratic Party (Suomen Kristillisdemkraattinen puolue) before Christian Union (Kristillinen liitto) representative said that we do not like religious parties like that Islamic party. When she was asked that isn’t their party also a religious based party. She said no we have in our name the word democratic. 🙂



Are those comments really from 2006? How do you still have them? Well, I don’t suggest digging up from the past, because that causes others to dig up as well, and then this whole exercise becomes very unhealthy

Unhealthy why? Your are completely free to search if I have started to make personal insults.

I had not saved that quote, actually I did not even remember it. I wrote to google zenobia simohurtta and that was in the third link. The first and only one I opened. You are free to check the “authenticity”.

April 29th, 2008, 9:46 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


That story is priceless.

Personally, I have no problem with Finnish women in bikinis.

Does that make me a democrat?

I’ll have to think about that one… hmmm.

April 30th, 2008, 12:15 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

Shai, I read all the english-language Israel sites, pretty much, and it is a direct observation on my part that they are targeting religious audiences rather than classic Likudnik ones, except for the JPost, where you can still see the old realpolitiker – i.e. secular but exploitative – adaptation to the religious that you find in Jabotinsky’s own writings, and that in fact is Bibi’s own position (if Bibi claimed to be religious he would be laughed offstage). However, since I talk so much about “rhetorical strategies”, I have to accept that this targeting of religiosity may also just be a sort of feint. The poll data is fascinating, and to some extent I think it confirms my own analysis rather than yours! viz., it reports on polls conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Winograd Report, and is presented in such a way as to obscure or confuse three different questions – one, whether Kadima would be more desirable without Olmert, the second, whether Kadima is undesirable whoever leads it, and the third, whether particular coalitions would be considered acceptable – you have to disaggregate these three questions, which I can’t do from those newspaper reports.

April 30th, 2008, 2:55 am


Shai said:


I didn’t question the “authenticity” of the comments – I trust you completely. I was merely wondering why or how you went that far back, to 2006. As for the “unhealthy” bit, I meant that if you recollect bad moments (personal insults) from the past, then it almost begs a reciprocal recollection, which is something I am not interested in doing. I don’t think our bad exchanges were one-sided, and I do believe we both showed maturity in “burying the hatchet”, so-to-speak. Let’s move forward, as I believe we can learn a good deal from one another.

April 30th, 2008, 5:50 am


Shai said:


It’s an interesting comment you’re making, because I have noticed a slight difference between the English and Hebrew versions of Ynet and Ha’aretz. Sometimes, certain stories aren’t translated or found in one of the versions (usually the English one), which may be due to lack of quick-enough translation ability for the volume of articles, or something else. It is quite possible that English-versions are more targeted at American-Jews, than at Israelis. I don’t recall the breakdown of American-Jewry, in terms of the percentage of religious Jews (Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform), but perhaps there are more religious undertones in English. In Hebrew, however, you can rarely see that. In fact, on the whole, Journalism in Israel is considered very secular, and quite often blatantly anti-religious.

April 30th, 2008, 5:56 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

absolutely, Shai, that is precisely what I am getting at, thank you.

April 30th, 2008, 6:06 am


zenobia said:

New York Times

April 25, 2008
U.S. Jews Create New Lobby to Temper Israel Policy

WASHINGTON — Several prominent American Jews have formed a new pro-Israel lobby as an alternative to traditional organizations that, they assert, often impede progress in the Middle East because of their generally reflexive support of Israel.

Officials of the new group, called J Street, say they believe the best way to bring security and peace to Israel is to help political candidates who support that country but will occasionally question some of its policies like maintaining or expanding settlements in disputed territories.

For many who follow the intense and complex world of lobbying on Middle East issues in Washington, there is little doubt as to the role J Street hopes to play in American politics — upsetting or at least diluting the influence of groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, the formidable lobby that has long been the dominant voice of American Jewry with regard to United States policy in the Middle East.

“They’re trying to be the un-Aipac,” said Shmuel Rosner, who follows the issue closely as the chief United States correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The executive director of the new venture, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in an interview that “a large number of American Jews and their friends have dropped out of the discussion about how to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors because they don’t have a home politically.” He argued that there was a need for an alternative to the traditional groups who say, “to oppose any Israeli policy is to be anti-Israel.”

The new group’s name is a multiple play on words. Not only does the letter “J” suggest a Jewish cause, but “K Street” has come to be shorthand for the Washington lobby industry because many lobbyists’ offices are there. Although downtown Washington’s streets are named for letters in the alphabet, it is also a quirk that there is no J Street to be found between I and K.

The group’s founders say they will provide something else that does not exist: financial support from American Jews for political candidates whose views are not in line with Aipac’s. J Street has established its own political action committee to donate to candidates on the basis of their views about Middle East policy.

So far, according to the most recent quarterly statement filed at the Federal Election Commission, the group has brought in only a handful of contributions, ranging from $250 to $5,000.

Aipac does not have a political action committee and does not donate to candidates but exercises significant influence in other ways. Its prominent members donate heavily as individuals to candidates, and it mobilizes influential supporters in lawmakers’ home districts.

Mr. Ben-Ami, a former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration, said his group intended to select a handful of Congressional candidates to support this fall with donations of about $50,000 each.

He said they would choose candidates in June who are willing, for example, to express forcefully their support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue and for aid to the Palestinian Authority.

One race that has the potential to provide such a demonstration is the Senate campaign in Minnesota, in which Norm Coleman, the incumbent Republican who is a staunch Israel supporter, is likely to be opposed by Al Franken, a Democrat who might take some positions more in line with those of J Street.

Underlying the formation of the group is a fundamental question that has long vexed the American Jewish community: What is the most effective way to support Israel? Many people involved in Aipac have long argued that American Jews have limited standing to criticize Israel’s policies because they are not themselves facing difficult questions of safety and survival.

Aipac would not comment on the formation of J Street. But some people involved in Aipac noted with satisfaction the vast difference in the size of the two groups: J Street is planning for an operating budget of about $1.5 million, compared with Aipac’s $100 million endowment, membership of more than 100,000 and annual lobbying expenditures of about $1 million.

Victor A. Kovner, a prominent New York lawyer and former corporation counsel for the city who is one of the principal fund-raisers for J Street, said the group’s aim was to undo the notion that “Aipac speaks for American Jews on issues affecting Israel and Middle East.”

He said candidates would also be able to use the group’s endorsements as a shield against accusations that they were anti-Israel. The group’s principal fund-raisers are Mr. Kovner, who supports Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, and Alan Solomont, who supports Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy.

A principal theorist behind the group, J Street officials said, is Daniel Levy, the son of Lord Levy of Britain, who was the Labor Party’s main fund-raiser under Prime Minister Tony Blair.

So far, J Street has raised about $750,000 for its lobbying arm. It is organized as a nonprofit and is not obliged to detail its donations, although Mr. Ben-Ami said that a few people, whom he would not name, had each given gifts of $100,000.

April 30th, 2008, 6:42 am


Shai said:


Good Morning/Night. While I’m very glad to see some opposition to AIPAC finally (which may cause it to moderate its almost blind pro-Israel stance), like Alex mentioned before, I agree that it’ll take quite some time before “J Street” will pose a real challenge to AIPAC. Still, a very positive development, and I believe it is very much in Israel’s best interest.

April 30th, 2008, 6:54 am


Rowan Berkeley said:

I just wrote a comment to Gary Kimiya’s story in about JStreet, which you can find on my blog or on Salon. I argue that JStreet is basically a Kadima front, and very necessary given that AIPAC is pretty close to being a Likud front.

April 30th, 2008, 7:21 am


wizart said:


Just wanted to respond to your earlier post addressed to me and T.

I never mean to speak on your behalf in my introductory comment to T a couple days ago when he got into an argument with Shai and you.

My reference to you and Shai was only in the context of my post to T and I never provided anyone with inside tips about anyone else.

While I appreciate friendships among all bloggers I also appreciate everybody’s right to express his/her opinion about what they think without resorting to name calling or irresponsible judging. Trust is something people can earn on their own, it’s not something we can impose on others. Shai is welcome to earn that trust and so is T and everyone else as Alex and Josh may have suggested earlier.

April 30th, 2008, 8:32 am


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