News Round Up (April 1, 2009) - Syria Comment

News Round Up (April 1, 2009)

Qifa Nabki gives us some April Fools fun: Failure to Coordinate Grand Gesture Ends in Embarrassment for Israel, Syria. The only clue I will give is this graphic.

Syria cut diesel fuel prices on Tuesday by 20 percent
, or from 50 cents to 40 cents a liter, as oil rates declined in world markets.

The move appears to be aimed at preventing the smuggling diesel fuel from neighboring Lebanon and Turkey where diesel prices dropped recently due to drop in global oil prices. Smugglers have been bringing diesel from Lebanon and Turkey to sell in Syria where prices had been higher.

Nadim Issa’s reporting has been invaluable on the Damsacus Stock exchange.  Damascus Exchange Grants Licenses to Six Brokerage Companies

2009-04-01. (bloomberg) — The Damascus Securities Exchange gave its approval for six new brokerage companies to start operating in Syria. They are Ahl Al-Sham Islamic Financial Services, Mega Investment-Syria Co., Daman Al-Sham for Brokerage & Financial Services Co., Sanabel for Financial Investments Co., Osoul for Brokerage & Securities Co. and Shuaa Securities-Syria, the exchange said today in a statement on its Web Site.

Greg Gause: On Prince Nayef and the Succession Greg gives us a good antidote to much overheated analysis.

Mark Lynch on the Doha summit. His Aardvark on Cable at the Foreign Policy website is consistently good.

John J. Mearsheimer: Please tell me, where is Israel headed?

Assyrian سليمان يوسف Sulaiman Yousef, an Assyrian activist has asked that Syria establish a ministerial position for Assyrian affairs because the Assyrians are the original people of Syria who are threatened with disapearing and being scattered. (in Arabic at Levant News)

Shamel Azmeh’s Blog on economic matters in Syria and the Middle East should make a very good addition to blogs on Syria. It is smart.

Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell is visiting Syria

on 1-2 April for a series of high level discussions with prominent Syrian politicians and opinion formers. During the visit Bill Rammell is due to have meetings with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Europe Minister Abdul Fattah Ammoura. He will also meet the Minister of Awqaf (Religious Affairs). Discussions will be wide ranging and will include cooperation on counter terrorism, the Middle East Peace Process and regional issues.

British Man’s plea for wife held in Syria: A mother has been missing for more than two weeks since her arrest in Syria.

Syria jails dissident despite detente with West
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters, March 15, 2009

A Syrian court sentenced a 64-year old dissident on Sunday to three years in jail for “weakening national feelings” after he published articles critical of the political system, human rights activist said.

The sentencing of Habib Saleh, who had already spent five years as political prisoner over two terms between 2001-2007, reflects a tougher approach by authorities in crushing dissent as Syria undergoes rapprochement in the West, they said.

“Saleh only wrote articles and he still got three years. He was not even active in any organisation,” said one activist who attended Saleh’s trial at the Palace of Justice. Mohannad al-Hassani, Saleh’s lawyer, said the law used against his client could only be invoked if Syria was officially at war….

فارس مراد بعد ثلاثة عقود في المعتقل – مازال فارسا

As Netanyahu takes Israel’s helm, Syria skeptical of peace prospects: Syrian diplomats say Damascus is serious about making peace, and hope Washington will lean on Israel’s new government. By Nicholas Blanford

Even if the Netanyahu government agrees to negotiate, any peace deal with Syria has to be put to a national referendum. And Israeli polls show that more than two-thirds of the Israeli public are against handing back the strategic heights.

George Mitchell, the Obama administration’s point man on the Mideast, is expected in the next two weeks to begin putting proposals into action once he has finished building his team.

US officials with insights into the administration’s thinking on the Mideast say that Obama is serious about striking peace between Israel, Syria, and the Palestinians, but question whether the parties themselves are ready to make the necessary commitments for peace. They warn that Obama is being pressured to focus on the domestic economy, not foreign policy, and will not waste time pushing for Mideast peace if the Israelis and Arabs procrastinate.

Israeli Military Closes Probe: Allegations of Troop Misconduct in Gaza Called ‘Hearsay’

Israel’s Covert War on Iran Faces Disapproving White House
By RICHARD SALE

Sarah Birke has three new articles on Tourism and the effort to Brand Syria; Let’s Get Physical“; “Controversial training for Iraqi refugees“.

American Language Center to reopen in Syria

Damascus set to receive MiG 31E planes: “”With regard to its external defense, Syria’s military remains in a defensive posture and inferior to Israel’s forces, but it is upgrading its missile, rocket, antitank, aircraft and air defense inventories,” Maples told the committee. “Recent Syrian contracts with Russia for future delivery include new MiG-31 and MiG-29M/M2 fighter aircraft.”

Buthaina Shaaban speaks with Fox News about US-Syrian relations under Obama



Syria leader explains failure of talks with Israel
By BASSEM MROUE

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s president said indirect peace talks with Israel failed last year because the Jewish state would not make an unambiguous commitment to return all the territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war, according to an interview published Wednesday.

The comments to the Lebanese daily As-Safir were Bashar Assad’s first on why the Turkish-mediated negotiations collapsed. Previously, Syrian officials said they suspended the talks in protest against Israel’s war in Gaza, which began in late December.

However Assad outlined another major point of contention. He suggested Syria insisted on the complete return of the strategic Golan Heights, while Israel wanted to keep some disputed land around the Sea of Galilee, its main water source.

Assad said Syria had “specified some points” of land on the Galilee shores and the Jordan River he wanted returned.

“We asked the Israelis to prove their seriousness on these points and of course they agreed in principle,” Assad said. “But when it came to drafting, they wanted to draft it in a way that is somehow ambiguous and obscure,” he added.

“We said no. We do not discuss. These points are either approved or not. … The discussions ended at this point and the talks failed,” Assad said. The president’s office confirmed to The Associated Press that the As-Safir report was accurate.

Syria and Israel held direct talks in the late 1990s and early 2000. They also broke down over the extent of a withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in 1967. Israel sought lines closer to the 1923 colonial border and insisted on retaining sovereignty over the strip of land also claimed by Syria along the Galilee shores.

The late Syrian President Hafez Assad, the current president’s father, also insisted on the return of all the Golan, including the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. At a meeting with then-U.S. President Bill Clinton in Geneva in March 2000, the elder Assad spoke nostalgically of his own visits to the sea.

“I would swim in the Sea of Galilee, I would have barbecues there, I ate fish,” he told Clinton.

Israelis have argued in the past that a 21-square-mile area along the sea was originally Palestinian, not Syrian, and therefore need not be returned to Syria with the rest of the Golan.

Bashar Assad was also asked in the interview what concessions Israel wanted for peace with Syria.

“No Iran, no Hezbollah and no Hamas,” he said, referring to Syrian alliances with Tehran and the Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups. He did not say how he responded to those demands.

The two Mideast foes held four rounds of indirect talks mediated by Turkey last year.

Recounting how the contacts came about, Assad he agreed to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s overtures after “we reached a point when Olmert was ready to fully return the Golan Heights.”

Olmert’s office did not immediately comment on the interview. Government spokesman Mark Regev said the “basis of the talks with the Syrians was a formula that we know exactly what the Syrians expect from negotiations and they know exactly what we expect.”

“No progress was achieved with the Turkish mediation unfortunately,” Regev said.

Comments (66)


Akbar Palace said:

QN, Professor Josh,

Just a small “nit”, but the graphic has some errors on it;)

April 1st, 2009, 5:38 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

Now that the skinheads are in charge in Israel, we are going deeper into nowhere.

April 1st, 2009, 8:11 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Ha HA AP… I was just about to comment on QN’s map, when I saw you..

Any way, congrats to the ‘Moqawama’ camp for bringing Netanyahu’s
new goverenment.

Proper disclosure: I did not vote for Bibi or for Lieberman, but
I cannot blame my Israeli brothers and sisters, who did vote for them.
When you hear president Asad during the Gadhafi circus in Doha, speaking
about forcing “peace” on Israel through the Moqawama ( isn’t it
contradiction in terms => “forcing” and “peace” ), you cannot but
have a sense of identification with the Israeli voter and his/her choice.
.

April 1st, 2009, 8:41 pm

 

Nour said:

Today’s “Assyrians” are neither necessarily of actual Assyrian origin nor are they the only group that may have Assyrian blood. They are merely a religious confession today who commonly claim they are the original Assyrians, and thus the original inhabitants of Syria. This is nonsense. The people of Syria, whether Christian, Muslim, or Druze, are all the “original inhabitants” and no group is more important than the other. Many muslim Syrians could trace their roots back to ancient Assyria, Canaan, Aram, etc. and many Christian Syrians may be more recent immigrants. The important thing is that the Syrian nation is one society made up of all the peoples who interacted and intermixed on and with the Syrian homeland. To claim that one Syrian group is the original inhabitant of the land is to create a discriminatory standard that cannot be the basis of any modern, effective state.

April 1st, 2009, 8:42 pm

 

Chris said:

But Nour, the state is Baathist. It doesn’t embrace diversity as you do. The ideology of those in power is Arab Nationalism and Socialism. It elevates the status of Arabs in relation to Kurds and Jews (well that is before they had enough and went to New York). Hence, in Syria we have a state that very openly “create(s) a discriminatory standard,” which as you say “cannot be the basis of any modern, effective state.”

Ultimately, the Baathists will agree with you, and they won’t embrace the minorities within their society. Most likely, the state will either say that they don’t exist or that they are not Syrian (Kurds). I believe it might have been Ben Bella who said that a Berber is really just an uneducated Arab.

April 1st, 2009, 9:21 pm

 

jad said:

chris, Every sentence you wrote is wrong or a lie, either by your ignorance or by your full knowledge to spread ignorance.
How Socialism has anything to do with diversity?
What are the social/race/religion/sect ranks in your fantasy of Syrian ‘hierarchy’?
Even in the article calling for Syriaacs rights, there was not a single example of the discrimination he was talking about?
When the Syrian government / the baathis did ever say that Kurds/Syriaac/any other minority doesn’t exist in the Syrian society?
Is ALL Syrian Kurds doesn’t have a Syrian citizenship?
Is Ben Bella Baathist/Syrian?
Did the late president Hafez Assad or the president Bashar Assad call the Syrian Kurds any humiliating names or looked down at them?
Have you or any one of your kind read that our president called any Syrian minorities/majorities any names in any private or public meeting?
Don’t you know that the youngest person on this site know about Syria more than you do yet you keep giving us lectures of how to deal with our own problems. Go deal with your own, treat your first nation people well before preaching anybody else.
And finally, why you are going back to the country you despise that much; you shouldn’t. Just go Malaysia, Truly Asia! Or India Incredible, they are democratic and beautiful countries.

DON’T ANSWER ANY OF MY QUESTIONS, I’m not interested..

April 1st, 2009, 11:05 pm

 

Chris said:

Jad,

I’ll follow your orders (or would decree be more apropo?) and refrain from answering your questions. However, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t accuse me of dishonesty or being ignorant. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the relations between the Baathists and non-Arab minorities in Syria. Since “ignorance” is such a problem for you, I’d be curious to know when YOU were last in Syria?

April 1st, 2009, 11:25 pm

 

norman said:

Nour ,
I agree with you , I just want to add,

All people who live in Syria are Syrians, ((( Kurds Assyrians , Jews , Muslims , Shea, Sunni, Druz ,and all others ))), as all people who live in NJ are new Jerseyans (((( Hispanic , Mexicans Arabs , Jews Syrians , Egyptians , Italians , Kurds Assyrians , Irish and all others ))),

All people who live in Syria are part of the Arab nation as all people who live in New Jersey are part of the American nation .

People should worry about how to get a job buy a house , where to send the kids to school , these things are more important than what to call a state or who was there first , all this does not matter , what matter is how much people who live in Syria contribute for the advancement of Syria and the improvement of the lives of the Syrian people.

I want to add that all ethnic groups should be able to learn their own language as long as they learn the official language , that is Arabic , they should be able to celebrate their holidays .
Yes Jad , And that is my take.

April 2nd, 2009, 1:31 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

Jad,

You need to relax man, you cannot go on a rant on other commentators like that.

while critical, Chris was not writting in bad faith. I would even agree with his overall notion that the Baath party does NOT happily accept diversity in its ultimate goal of Arab unity. This is a fact and not some type of propoganda on Chris’s part.

That said the issue of the Kurds is not so black or white. Giving another 200.000 Kurds the Syrian nationality when many more kurds would like to break up part of Syria for their own Kurdish nation is a tough issue to overcome. Simply because it changes the demographics of the country and hence poses a threat to Syrian national security. And i would tell Chris that any nation would have a problem with that and not just Baathist Syria

April 2nd, 2009, 7:23 am

 

Shai said:

Two kids axed (one to death) in a Jewish settlement in Gush Etzion. From Ynet: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3696287,00.html

And here are My Immediate Impressions.

April 2nd, 2009, 11:35 am

 

norman said:

——————————————————————————–

Israeli FM: No withdrawal from Golan Heights
Israel’s new Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman ruled out in an interview published on Thursday any withdrawal by the Jewish state from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. “There is no cabinet resolution regarding negotiations with Syria, and we have already said that we will not agree to withdraw from the Golan Heights,” Lieberman told the Haaretz daily.

“Peace will only be in exchange for peace,” he added.

The interview came a day after firebrand Lieberman said the new government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not bound by the US-backed agreement to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians reached in 2007 at the Annapolis, Maryland conference.

© 2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

April 2nd, 2009, 12:11 pm

 

Nour said:

Chris,

Arab Nationalism in general, and not particularly Baathism, created a problem in that it never clarified, objectively and scientifically, the basis which makes a person an Arab. As such, various ambiguous definitions were floated around, the most common of which was that the “Arabs” were those people who originated from the Arabian peninsula, or those who spoke Arabic as a mother tongue. Thus, all those who were not of actual Arab origin and who did not speak Arabic as a mother tongue were left out of the national makeup, whether intentionally or not. Therefore, those people were treated either as “minorities” in an “Arab nation,” or as guests on “Arab” land. And this did indeed establish a discriminatory standard, which is why I am opposed to Arab nationalism, which in my opinion has no logical or scientific basis.

Having said that, I don’t believe Syria is exactly as you explained it. The Syrian state actually views all its citizens as “Syrians” under the law, who are equal in rights and duties (notwithstanding the flaws in the system). There are many Kurds, Armenians, and other groups who are full Syrian citizens, who have completely melted into Syrian society, and the state doesn’t discriminate against them. Of course, the Syrian state does have a lot of flaws and a lot of problems, as I believe it is not a truly secular, civic state, but to say that the state discriminates between various Syrian citizens I don’t believe is wholly accurate.

April 2nd, 2009, 12:26 pm

 

Jad said:

IC,
“on a rant on other commentators like that.” Thank you!

FYI, I’m not a Baathi/Socialist/Communist, or even belong to any political party in Syria, nor a government defender or a regime lover, I like to read any valuable critics on them.
I wasn’t defending the system at all, I was just clarifying facts from fiction.
Anyway, let commentators write whatever they want and pretend being specialists, from now on, I wont write anything on your blog.
It was a pleasure knowing some of the greatest people on SC.
Thank you and good luck.

April 2nd, 2009, 3:05 pm

 

Shai said:

JADman,

Please DO NOT leave SC! We need you here (Syrians, Arabs, and yes, even us Israelis). You are a voice of reason, a voice of open-mindedness, and a voice of hope. But you’re also (like me) at times too passionate. IC’s comment was basically “calm down”, and it is something that many of us need to hear every now and then. Please don’t take it personally, and please STAY!

(p.s. How are we going to plan our Chinese mission, if not through SC? 🙂 )

April 2nd, 2009, 3:17 pm

 

norman said:

Syria offers Israel chance to avoid war

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Israeli policies encourage “resistance”, which only ensures that the day will come when Syria will free the Golan Heights “through peace or through war”.

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 14:13:35 GMT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says all Israeli governments have pursued hawkish policies only to give rise to the philosophy of resistance.

In an interview with the al-Sharq newspaper on Thursday, Assad said there is enough evidence to assume that Tel Aviv will never seek peace.

“All Israeli governments are the same: Ariel Sharon carried out a massacre in Palestine, and [Ehud] Barak aided the war in Gaza in that there is no difference between the right and the left in Israel,” he explained. “This enemy does not want peace.”

Assad described how normal citizens have grown tired of the sixty years of Israeli efforts to grab more land and occupy other territories.

“From the war of Palestine (in 1948) to the occupation of the Golan (in the Six Day War in 1967) people are becoming more hostile towards Israel. There may come a generation that is unwilling to talk peace,” he said.

His remarks are considered a reaction to a Thursday announcement by Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman — who ruled out the possibility of Israel withdrawing from the Golan Heights.

“There is no cabinet resolution regarding negotiations with Syria, and we have already said that we will not agree to withdraw from the Golan Heights,” said Lieberman in an interview with Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

“Whoever thinks that he will achieve something by way of concessions – no, he will only invite more pressure and more wars. If you want peace, prepare for war,” he added.

Israel captured the Golan Heights following the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed the Syrian territory in 1981.

Under the auspices of Turkey, Israel and Syria last May launched peace talks aimed at reaching a comprehensive peace agreement.

Negotiations reached a stalemate in September after the resignation of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Syria then withdrew from the talks in protest at the latest Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip — in late December 2008 and January 2009 — where at least 1,330 Palestinians lost their lives to the three-week carnage.

“When a citizen loses hope – he will turn to the path of resistance, in one from or the other,” Assad reacted to the new Israeli stance.

“What is the alternative?” he asked. “The parallel route to the peace process is resistance. The Israeli will not come by his own will, so there is no alternative but for him to overcome fear.”

“There is no escaping the fact that the day will come when we will free the Golan, through peace or through war,” he explained.

MP/AA

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April 2nd, 2009, 4:09 pm

 

Observer said:

Avigdor announced that the current administration is not bound by previous committments how ironic when Abbas insists that for Hamas to join the unity administration it has to abide by all previous committments.
On a different note this article clearly shows that the new administration in the US if moving to undo the last 8 years

This is one of the reasons that the KSA is in such panic, they do not have a sponsor they can rely on any longer.

Is Iran the Better Ally?
Has Washington Lost Lebanon?
By FRANKLIN LAMB

Beirut

‘We anticipate that the shape of the US assistance programs in Lebanon will be evaluated in the context of Lebanon’s parliamentary election results and the policies formed by the new Cabinet.’

— Jeffrey Feltman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs and former Ambassador to Lebanon, briefing the House Congressional Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, 03/24/09.

Henry Kissinger, among others in the US foreign policy establishment, was reportedly aghast at how quickly and thoroughly the Bush administration botched US Middle East policy and handed much of the Near East and South Asia to Iran. Not just Iraq, Afghanistan, (plus the Af-Pak region) some of the countries bordering the Arab Gulf (increasingly referred to as the Persian Gulf) but the low hanging fruit of Palestine, ripe for picking.

As Iran rapidly expands its influence to South America, Asia and Africa, many observers in Lebanon think that their country may be next. Frankly, it is beginning to look that way.

Even before 1958, when US Embassy officials delivered suitcases filled with election buying cash to its favorite Lebanese politician, the incumbent, unpopular, corrupt, and anti-Muslim President Camille Chamoun, the Lebanese have looked favorably on America. Today, known Americans in Lebanon rarely skip a day without receiving a thumbs up, a ‘welcome to Lebanon’, or a puckering of the lips and a “mwwas” which translates locally more or less as “kisses to you.”
Yet it may be a case of unrequited love. Regardless of what President Obama personally wants, and though there are reportedly overdue new US Middle East initiatives being worked on at the National Security Council and the State Department, there is strong Israel lobby-enforced reticence in Washington to do anything for Lebanon that Israel may object to. And the Lebanese know it.

American policy statements towards Lebanon are frequently incomprehensible or contradictory to many Lebanese, among the most politically sophisticated around. With the approaching June 7 elections, now barely two months away, a barrage of press releases and pontifications from US government employees, including the US State Department and Congressional testimony, has left many in Lebanon with raised eyebrows.

Feltman on the Hill

Over the years, Congressional Hearings have strayed markedly from their original purpose of informing the country’s ongressional delegates about weighty policy matters in order to keep the American ship of state on an even keel. The past three decades have seen vast quantities of information organized in congressional libraries by the venerated Congressional Research Service. CRS research is available instantly to any member of Congress or their staffs and some of it, generally high-quality Issue Briefs, may soon be available worldwide on the Internet. Add to the CRS resource, the arrival of the Internet, plus burgeoning Congressional staffs, and the original purpose and even need for congressional “hearings” has drastically changed. Now they are mainly useful as tools to promote members’ images in their districts, and less and less for learning. As a former “Hearing Specialist II” on the Hill for the House Judiciary Committee, I can report that little is normally learned from Congressional hearings anymore. In most cases, staffers prepare carefully the members’ speeches, questions to witnesses, and answers the witness will very likely give, to each and every question from their bosses or even their bosses’ political adversaries and rivals on the panel.

Concerning many important but ‘sensitive’ issues that Congress certainly should investigate, members often cannot get hearings — even classified hearings — because Congress continues to outsource many of its constitutional prerogatives to an increasingly dominating Executive Branch.

This arrangement can be ideal for single-issue lobbies that make excellent use of Congressional Hearings to publicly advance their projects. None more so than AIPAC, coordinating as it does the 120-plus pro-Israel organizations that it quickly cobbles when the need arises to put together a fast hearing, forum, briefing, or Congressional Staff gathering, designed to keep the public in awe of important Israel-related “key information or insights”. So much the better for Israel if the committee chairman is committed to its policies, as is the case with congressman Gary Ackerman and the chairs of the other 10 key House and Senate Committees, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, and Terrorism that deal with Lebanon and the Middle East.

It is against this backdrop that Jeffrey Feltman was summoned last week to join Ackerman in signaling Lebanon to return pro-Israel election results on June 7 or pay the price.

This commentary is not in any way meant to be some sort of ad hominem broadside aimed at Jeffrey Feltman or his rather more attractive and charming successor at the US Embassy in Beirut, Michele Sisson, or even the arch Zionist, Islamophobe and Arab basher, Gary Ackerman, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Yet it must be admitted that this duos current speeches on US Lebanon Policy are often unfathomable when considered alongside President Obama’s expressed Middle East objectives and what Lebanon sorely needs.
Neither Feldman nor Ackerman minced words.

In his opening statement, Feltman, strongly discouraged any attempts by foreign powers to influence Lebanon’s elections, noting that “decisions on the shape and composition of the next government can and should be made by the Lebanese themselves, for Lebanon, free from outside interference, political intimidation and violence.”
His very next statement nullified what he had just said and he emphasized that the polls, with US help, “would provide an opportunity to continue the process of reinforcing Lebanon’s independence.” Feltman then labeled the US-backed March 14 group the “pro-independence” bloc, while highlighting March 8’s association with Hezbollah, Syria and Iran as the most serious danger to Lebanon and the region. He added that the US would support any dialogue between Lebanon and Israel.

Feltman then launched his zinger which shocked some people internationally but not many in Lebanon: “We anticipate that the shape of the United States’ assistance programs in Lebanon will be evaluated in the context of Lebanon’s parliamentary election results and the policies formed by the new cabinet.”

The House Subcommittee chairman who introduced Feltman, Rep Ackerman (D-NY), provided a similar analysis in his prefatory remarks, listing US interests in Lebanon as “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

“The US cannot and should not interfere in the election, but neither should we be impassive,” he added (read: ‘watch what we will do not what we say’): “There is much we can do and should do on the outside to demonstrate that Lebanon’s future is not dependant on either militias or mullahs.”

The term, with all its pejorative connotations in Ackerman’s Queens District, was surely the politically correct term for him to use regardless of what the Lebanese, a country with no mullahs, thought about it.

Ackerman also voiced support for the some military aid to Lebanon, noting the “pressing mission is battling terrorists activated and armed by foreign powers.” (read: it might be necessary to use them against Hezbollah).

Rarely missing a chance to expound on issues of interest to Israel, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) submitted her questions and comments in writing and rather hysterically opined: “what happens in Lebanon in June can affect the US in July. Iran is stepping up efforts to assist extremist groups, like Hezbollah, operating in the Western Hemisphere. It is no surprise that our military and defense officials are now confirming that direct connections exist between Hezbollah and narcotraffickers”.

Interestingly, Ros-Lehtinen holds the record in Congress for authoring or co-sponsoring the most resolutions adopted by the House which claim a direct threat by Iran’s presence in the region poses to U.S. security. She and Ackerman are essentially tied for the record of post-9/11 anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim House resolutions.
On hearing reports of Feltman’s comments, some Lebanese strongly objected. Maysam, a pro March 14 student at the American University of Beirut explained:

“How dare he (Feltman) try to bribe us! Each new Israeli aggression against Lebanon, every Israeli border crossing into Lebanon, harassment of shepherds along the blue line, mock aid raid, invasion of Lebanese airspace, theft of our fertile soil and our Wazzani river waters, each captured Israeli spy and threat to destroy Lebanon again or of more population transfers from Israel, every single new cluster bomb casualty and refusal to hand over land mine maps means more and more support for Hezbollah and their allies. If the Americans really cared about Lebanon or if they were smart they would put a stop to these Israeli crimes. But Washington is clueless. Lebanon does not need US Zionist projects anymore. As much as I care, let the Americans stop interfering in my country, pack up and go back and rebuild New Orleans! I am furious!”

As noted by Maysam, the US refusal to force Israel to provide cluster bomb and landmine maps returns almost weekly to the Lebanese public’s mind.

“I Am Not Able to Play Anymore”

On Sunday March 28, 2009 at the Marjayoun Public Hospital, 10-year-old Mohammad Jamal Abdel-Aal’s left leg and right hand got amputated after a US cluster bomb, left over from the summer 2006 war with Israel, exploded while he was playing in one of the fields near his home in the southern town of Hilta. Describing the few minutes that preceded the explosion, Abdel-Aal explained that he had gone out to a field near his house, “to take advantage of the spring time weather. I was walking between the yellow daisies when I heard an explosion and felt my body was being ripped apart,” he said, adding that he started feeling pain in his leg and was bleeding everywhere.”Then everything turned black.”

According to the Director of the Marjayoun Hospital, physician Mouenes Kalakesh, the lad is deeply depressed because his wounds “are going to affect his life forever.”

In a room next to Abdel-Aaal’s, 16-year-old Riad al-Ahmad is also recovering from a US landmine explosion that cost him a leg while herding his sheep in one of the fields of the southern village of Wazzani.

Given US opposition to the recent Cluster Bomb Convention, many politically active Lebanese believe the US bears responsibility for the continuing slaughter of unsuspecting civilians, and should at the very least organize a global political and media campaign and organize and international conference to support demining efforts. The recent 1.5 million dollars the US gave the Mine Action Group (MAG), one of the few demining teams still working in South Lebanon is seen as a drop in the bucket given the close to 15 million dollar combined US aid given to Israel each and every day of the year.

Feltman to Hezbollah

Regarding Hezbollah, Feltman said the US would not follow the United Kingdom’s example by opening contacts with the group’s political wing. He called the group a domestic and regional “threat,” adding “our position on Hezbollah remains as it was when the group was first designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997.”

Yet, he offered Hezbollah an opportunity for much better relations with the US declaring that if Hezbollah would “renounce terrorism—both in Lebanon and abroad—and submit to the rule of law and the authority of the Lebanese state, we would reconsider this status,” he said in reference to Britain’s decision to start contacts with the Hezbollah.
Presumably Feltman is aware that Hezbollah’s position has long been known regarding its theater of operations against Israel. They were repeated this week when Hezbollah vowed that it would deter any possible Israeli aggression but would not carry out any military operation outside the country. MP Mohammad Raad told a funeral gathering in Sujod that: “We will not carry out any operation outside our Lebanese territories, but we will not accept after today that the Israeli enemy stages any assault against our land,” adding that “they will pay the price for any possible attack on Lebanon, and will receive the proper response.”

As for the Western attempts to open dialogue with Hezbollah, Raad said “Hezbollah welcomes this gesture,” but “it is a mistake if we assume the United States will abandon Israel for the sake of the Arabs…The United States’ project is with Israel, and the US foreign policy will not change.”

Earlier Feltman had stated that there was no difference between Hezbollah’s military and political wing and wondered how the UK could possibly speak only with Hezbollah’s political wing since its leadership must be one for the whole Party. When asked about this point one Hezbollah member, who teachers at a high school in Haret Hreik advised:

“I think I can help American officials understand the difference. The military wing of Hezbollah, by which I mean, military resistance to Israel, is just about 5 per cent of what makes up Hezbollah. But that is all that westerners mainly know about from their biased media. The political, social, economic, educational and medical wing of Hezbollah makes up the nearly 95 per cent. Explained impolitely, the military wing is the wing that kicked Israel’s ass out of Lebanon and will keep it out until the political wing can help the Lebanese army do the job and, inshallah (God willing) achieve Middle East peace by returning the true owners to Palestine.”

Browbeating, threats, puffed promises, lack of respect, consistently advancing an Israeli agenda has tuned off many Lebanese from American overtures.

Increasingly people in Lebanon are wondering if Iran would make a better long term alley.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at: fplamb@gmail.com

April 2nd, 2009, 4:11 pm

 

Observer said:

I love these pronoucements of Avi Lieberman

Here they are

‘ # In 1998, Lieberman called for the flooding of Egypt by bombing the Aswan Dam in retaliation for Egyptian support for Yasser Arafat.

# In 2001, as Minister of National Infrastructure, Lieberman proposed that the West Bank be divided into four cantons, with no central Palestinian government and no possibility for Palestinians to travel between the cantons.

# In 2002, the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Lieberman in a Cabinet meeting saying that the Palestinians should be given an ultimatum that “At 8am we’ll bomb all the commercial centers … at noon we’ll bomb their gas stations … at two we’ll bomb their banks …”

# In 2003, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Lieberman called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide the buses to take them there.

# In May 2004, Lieberman proposed a plan that called for the transfer of Israeli territory with Palestinian populations to the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, Israel would annex the major Jewish settlement blocs on the Palestinian West Bank. If applied, his plan would strip roughly one-third of Israel’s Palestinian citizens of their citizenship. A “loyalty test” would be applied to those who desired to remain in Israel. This plan to trade territory with the Palestinian Authority is a revision of Lieberman’s earlier calls for the forcible transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel from their land. Lieberman stated in April 2002 that there was “nothing undemocratic about transfer.”

# Also in May 2004, he said that 90 percent of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens would “have to find a new Arab entity” in which to live beyond Israel’s borders. “They have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost,” he said.

# In May 2006, Lieberman called for the killing of Arab members of Knesset who meet with members of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.’

April 2nd, 2009, 5:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Observer,

Thank you for posting those atrocious comments by Lieberman. No doubt, this man is going to cause trouble for the coalition. Fortunately, Netanyahu is squarely behind “land for peace”. What “land” and what “peace” needs to be negotiated.

Meanwhile, you may have missed posting this headline:

Bat Ayin attack a “natural response” to the occupation

So murder is a “natural response”? Perhaps racism is a “natural response” to threats of terror?

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562892997&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

And what about this comment?:

‘Through war or peace we’ll free Golan’

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1238562888923&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Is it only news when an MK sbeaks?

April 2nd, 2009, 5:59 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Are bribery and corruption national sports, besides war, among political leaders in democratic Israel?

“Israeli police interrogated the country’s new hardline foreign minister for more than seven hours on Thursday in connection to an ongoing bribery investigation.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Avigdor Lieberman was questioned at the headquarters of the national fraud squad in central Israel on allegations of receiving bribes, money laundering and breach of trust.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090402/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_lieberman_3

April 2nd, 2009, 6:09 pm

 

Shai said:

Observer,

Let me get this straight, are you suggesting our new Foreign Minister is crazy?!? 🙂

Listen, he’s not the world’s first fascist, nor the last. But you gotta admit, it’s kinda “neat” that he actually thinks he can sell his beliefs across the world, as Israel’s foreign minister. You need a lot of self-confidence to think that. Or, to just be crazy.

Oh btw today, on his second day in office, he was already interrogated at the Police for nearly 8 hours… 🙂

April 2nd, 2009, 6:11 pm

 

Shai said:

Why-Discuss,

It’s not a national sport yet (interesting idea though), but it does seem to be a helpful prerequisite to getting ahead in politics. In the previous government, it was easier to list the MK’s, PM, and PRESIDENT, that WEREN’T under police investigation for corruption, bribery, theft, oh and… rape.

April 2nd, 2009, 6:17 pm

 

Shai said:

You know what the problem is, AP?

a) When hundreds of Palestinian children in Gaza are murdered by Israeli planes and artillery, you think of Israeli children dying at the hands of terrorists.

b) And when Israeli children are murdered, you think of Israeli children dying at the hands of terrorists.

See the problem?

April 2nd, 2009, 6:23 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

You are incredible. An ax-wielding Palestinian terrorist attacks two kids, killing one, and your first impression is to comment on how the Israeli media is unfair to Palestinian terrorists. Are you being satirical?

April 2nd, 2009, 9:08 pm

 

majid said:

Three Syrian officers suspected in Hariri murder go missing
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
April 1, 2009, 10:10 PM (GMT+02:00)

Monday, March 30, the international court prosecuting the four-year old assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri asked Lebanon to transfer its authority in the case, signaling the start of legal proceedings.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources disclose that two weeks before the request was received in Beirut, three Syrian generals suspected of a role in the murder disappeared from their homes.
They are Gen. Rustum Ghazale, Syrian military intelligence chief in Lebanon in the early 2000s, his deputy Gen. Jam’a Jam’a, and senior intelligence officer in Beirut Col. Jemal Abu Jemal.
They went missing shortly after Syrian president Bashar Assad received assurances from UN officials close to the tribunal and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s advisers that the court had decided not to summon Assad in person, or his younger brother Maher Assad and brother-in-law Gen. Asif Shawqat as suspects in the case. But they would demand the extradition of the three missing generals.
Monday, the Belgian pre-trial magistrate Daniel Fransen asked the Lebanese judiciary to release to the tribunal’s general prosecutor Daniel Bellemare all the documents and reports relating to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005 and a list of detainees.
Justice minister Ibrahim Najjar said that by this request, the tribunal is claiming exclusive jurisdiction over detainees, including the four Lebanese generals held since 2005 as suspected accomplices in the murder.
DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that Assad has apparently hidden the missing Syrian officers away in “protective custody” for the following reasons:
1. To make sure they do not escape and solicit the tribunal’s protection as prosecution witnesses. They know enough about the Hariri assassination plot to incriminate the Syrian president and the entire Assad clan and also bring down the Syrian regime’s mainstay, the intelligence service.
2. Or to use them as an insurance policy against the Assads’ incrimination. If the tribunal agrees to leave the Assads and their intelligence services out of the proceedings, the Syrian president may consider throwing the three Syrian officers to the wolves as the primary conspirators and perpetrators of the assassination of the anti-Syrian Lebanese politician.
This was how Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi wriggled out of indictment for the Pan-Am airliner’s terrorist bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1986. He handed the special Scottish tribunal two senior Libyan agents who were convicted for the atrocity.
3. If challenged to release the three Syrian officers to the tribunal, the Syrian ruler can say they have disappeared and he does not know their whereabouts.
The request to the Lebanese government to relinquish authority in the Hariri case marks the opening of the international tribunal’s proceedings.
The next step may well be a subpoena for the four Lebanese generals, incarcerated for four years in Beirut: They are Gen. Mustafa Hamdan, former head of the Lebanese presidential guard, Jamil Sayyed, former head of Lebanese intelligence, Ali Hajj, former head of Lebanese internal security, and Raymond Azar, former chief of Lebanese military intelligence.
They are suspected of acting on the instructions of the three missing Syrian officers and are in a position to incriminate figures at the top of the Syrian regime.

April 2nd, 2009, 11:36 pm

 

Shai said:

No Chris, I am dead serious.

When do you think it would be better to point this out? By the way, I’m not surprised you didn’t get it. It’s not the Palestinian TERRORISTS that don’t get enough Israeli media coverage, it’s the Palestinian kids, the victims! Read a little more carefully next time.

April 3rd, 2009, 4:30 am

 

majid said:

SHAI said, “It’s not the Palestinian TERRORISTS that don’t get enough Israeli media coverage, it’s the Palestinian kids, the victims! Read a little more carefully next time.”

I think you’re one-sided in you criticism Shai. At least AP keeps bringing up views from both sides. With regards to Palestinian kids, AP always brings in their stories, particularly the way Hamas and the other terrorists make use of them by indoctrinating them to become human bombs. Shouldn’t you also investigate this aspect of the kids’ abuse by their own so-called leaders? Shai you should understand there’s always two sides to the coin. You keep insisting on looking on one side and ignoring the other. I don’t think you’ll be able to achieve much in this conflict aside from, of course, offering meaningless sympathies. Otherwise your arguments can be easily dismissed as naive and lacking in objectivity.

April 3rd, 2009, 5:23 am

 

Chris said:

Shai you wrote:
“When do you think it would be better to point this out?”

I think if after an incident in which Palestinians are killed and you believe that the Israeli media has not devoted appropriate attention to it, that would then be a better time. On the other hand, when two Israeli kids are attack by an ax wielding Palestinian terrorist, it seems a bit odd for your first impression reflecting on how the Israeli media is unfair to Palestinians.

My first impression was to recall the shockingly brutal nature of the violence in Iraq around 2006-7. Not only the scale, but the gory nature of the violence was unusual. People were being beheaded left and right. Bodies were appearing with holes drilled in their feet. The thought that someone could try to kill two kids with an ax reminded me of that kind of violence.

April 3rd, 2009, 10:16 am

 

Shai said:

Majid,

“I think you’re one-sided in you criticism Shai.”

Do you prefer my comments sound like this: “Some 1300 Palestinians were killed in the recent operation in Gaza, many of whom were innocent children… but let’s not forget the two kids that were hacked by a Palestinian terrorist…”? Do you always require balance in life, also when clearly there’s none to compare with?

“With regards to Palestinian kids, AP always brings in their stories, particularly the way Hamas and the other terrorists make use of them by indoctrinating them to become human bombs.”

Exactly! Don’t you understand the problem?

“Shai you should understand there’s always two sides to the coin.”

Really? I thought Arabs are born terrorists.

“Otherwise your arguments can be easily dismissed as naive and lacking in objectivity.”

I think most on SC know that I, as a semi-intelligent Israeli, know the type of ruling system Syria has (dictatorship), the freedom Saudi women enjoy (very little), and the type of judgement Hamas sometimes passes over people it deems traitors (execution).

Majid, my role as I see it on SC, is not to portray the balanced picture, but rather to exhibit honesty and courage and understanding of my side! I’m not a 60-minutes reporter, writing about a conflict that has nothing to do with me. If I was, then “balance” or “objectivity” would be required, if it even exists. But I’m a part of the conflict, I represent one side of it, and a side that has and continues to commit horrific crimes against another people.

I think by NOT being “balanced”, I’m actually achieving quite a bit. What do you think would make this audience (you included) think more about their own problems – if I stress their shortcomings, or if I exhibit a deeper understanding of my own? It’s really quite simple Majid, try it sometime. By the way, the best negotiators are precisely the kind of people that show an ability to understand the other side’s concerns (I’m talking about empathy, not necessarily agreement).

April 3rd, 2009, 11:01 am

 

Shai said:

Chris,

The operation in Gaza, and its aftermath, received almost no coverage (from within) in Israel. We saw almost no pictures of the devastation and carnage. I had to hear about it from friends that are still on reserves. I had to read about it from Palestinian reporters. I had to see pictures from Arab blogs. Very few Israelis discussed it, reported about it, portrayed it in any fashion. For all practical purposes, Israel ignored or hid the results of its own operation.

So when I hear the entire country and its media almost “mobilize” within minutes, to cover the horrific death of a single Israeli child, I can’t help but think that there’s something a bit “funny” going on. I’m not even going back to Lebanon 2006. I’m talking about a few months ago, and 1300 dead Palestinians and some 5000 injured later. I want to know why it is important enough for Israelis to hear every last detail about the terrorist that axed to death this poor kid, but NOT about what the army did in Gaza.

Sorry the “timing” didn’t seem right for you. But then again, I don’t exactly set my watch according to other’s needs, do I?

April 3rd, 2009, 11:10 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Our “Objective” Reporter

Shai,

Well, apparently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t agree with your “world view”.

Why is an objective (non-Jewish, non-Arab) poster like Chris and a moderate Arab poster like Majid both claiming that you aren’t objective and too critical of Israel?

The operation in Gaza, and its aftermath, received almost no coverage (from within) in Israel. We saw almost no pictures of the devastation and carnage.

Shai, that’s a bit disingenuous. We all know the conflict was covered, in detail, all over the internet. Via the internet, everybody has the same news.

Majid, my role as I see it on SC, is not to portray the balanced picture, but rather to exhibit honesty and courage and understanding of my side!

Exactly. That is why I will portray the acts of violence perpetrated against Israel, many of them financed and supported by Arab governments. This is also why your lack of objectivity may deter from your credibility as an honest proponent for peace.

Some 1300 Palestinians were killed in the recent operation in Gaza, many of whom were innocent children…

For whatever it’s worth, the casualty figures were over-stated. Also, remeber “Holy Jenin”? The initial reports stated 1500 or so civilians were killed. Meanwhile, the final death toll amounted to 45 armed terrorists killed out of a total of 54 deaths.

http://mideast.blogs.time.com/2009/02/18/gaza-body-count-were-we-duped/?apage=2

The bottom line:

Israel is not responsible for civilian casualties caused by Palestinian “heroes” fighting from among the civilian population.

April 3rd, 2009, 12:03 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Israel is not responsible for civilian casualties caused by Palestinian “heroes” fighting from among the civilian population.

Well doesn’t it work Akbar in two directions. Why do the extreme settlers, which Bat Ayin is full, do bring their children to danger. So Israeli Jewish “heroes” are fighting among the civil population.

Let us remember if there would be no settlements the acts of terrorism would be much smaller in numbers. If there had been established a independent Palestine 15 years ago there would be no terrorism. The settlements were created “voluntarily”, Gaza and the West Bank bantustans not. The difference between Israeli terrorists and Palestinian terrorists is that Israelis are trying to steal others land, the Palestinians are defending what is theirs.

Akbar you should also remember what the wounded boys father was planning and why he is still in prison. What would you say if he and his fellows had managed to murder tens of Palestinian girls. When the two state solution will one day created the real problem will be Jewish terrorism not Palestinian. Only a fragment of the present Jewish terrorism are reported. Poisoning wells, destroying agricultural resources and naturally murders….

Why is an objective (non-Jewish, non-Arab) poster like Chris and a moderate Arab poster like Majid both claiming that you aren’t objective and too critical of Israel?

Akbar the April day was already two days ago. Chris is as objective and learned as Bush junior and Majid is as objective and constructive as Dick Cheyney.

PS Akbar news from Israelistan:
12:09 Some Haredi newspapers blot faces of women ministers from cabinet photo (AP)
Hmmmm the only “democracy” in Middle East …

April 3rd, 2009, 2:35 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Sim’s Sneaking Suspicion’s, Con’t

Why do the extreme settlers, which Bat Ayin is full, do bring their children to danger.

Sim,

Silly question really. No one fired any Qassams from Bat Ayin, nor did the terrorist “aim” at any military target. His “ax” was aimed at the body of a 7 and 13 year-old. Therefore, the use of the term “terrorism” can be used.

So Israeli Jewish “heroes” are fighting among the civil population.

What fighting? See response above.

Let us remember if there would be no settlements the acts of terrorism would be much smaller in numbers.

That’s been proven false with Gaza and even before 1967.

If there had been established a independent Palestine 15 years ago there would be no terrorism.

Of course, that’s conjecture that isn’t supported by any data, however, it is never to late to negotiate a peace treaty and find out. Does this imply you are for a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine Sim, or are did you want an “indepedent Palestine” w/o and independent Israel?

The difference between Israeli terrorists and Palestinian terrorists is that Israelis are trying to steal others land, the Palestinians are defending what is theirs.

What is Palestine’s land>? What is Israel’s land? Whatever you come up with, Hamas and Hezbollah will disagree with you and the GOI.

Akbar you should also remember what the wounded boys father was planning and why he is still in prison.

Why should I “remember” the wounded boy’s father?

What would you say if he and his fellows had managed to murder tens of Palestinian girls.

Any person who murders innocent people deserves an extreme penalty or death.

When the two state solution will one day created the real problem will be Jewish terrorism not Palestinian.

In light of of today’s news and the events of the past few decades, I find your conclusion “flawed” (putting it kindly).

Only a fragment of the present Jewish terrorism are reported.

OK, we’ll have to depend on you for what isn’t reported. We know how AIPAC has such a large affect on the BBC and the rest of the Western media.

Poisoning wells, destroying agricultural resources and naturally murders….

Lay it all out Sim. I can take it!;)

Akbar the April day was already two days ago. Chris is as objective and learned as Bush junior and Majid is as objective and constructive as Dick Cheyney.

Sim,

It doesn’t make sense does it?? We rely on you for the truth habibi!

PS Akbar news from Israelistan:
12:09 Some Haredi newspapers blot faces of women ministers from cabinet photo (AP)

Oh God, how did this slip through AIPAC’s sensors! I hope no Palestinians got hurt from this miscarriage of justice!

Hmmmm the only “democracy” in Middle East …

Hmmmm, you forgot Iraq….

April 3rd, 2009, 4:28 pm

 

Shai said:

Akbar Palace,

“Why is an objective (non-Jewish, non-Arab) poster like Chris and a moderate Arab poster like Majid both claiming that you aren’t objective and too critical of Israel?”

To remind you, both you, Chris, and Majid, are about as far away from this conflict, from Palestinians and from Israelis, as I am from the moon. Your own “objectivity” is fed more from CAMERA.org, than from people right here, who have to live through the conflict, from both ends of it. Go talk to someone else about “objectivity”. You know nothing about what is happening here, and your little “Safari Tour” of the Zionist Entity was as enlightening as George W. Bush’s State-of-the-Union speeches. Gosh I miss him… don’t you?

By the way, if you’re suggesting we should listen to what two AP-like supporters say (about me), how about the 20+ regular commentators here that often tell you you’re full of s##t? If Chris and Majid are “objective”, then so is Simohurtta.

Regarding the widespread coverage of Gaza on the internet, you might want to check with your little Settler friends just how much coverage was given on our television sets, or on Israeli websites. No journalist was allowed into Gaza on this operation (unlike Lebanon 2006), and the State Censorship (yes, we still have one of those) checked carefully anything that was even reported verbally. Most Israeli reporters were standing outside Gaza, and couldn’t even show a single image of the inside. Even after the operation ended, the only images that came out were of foreign journalists. The stories, by soldiers mainly, started coming out weeks afterwards. Next time check with people who actually live here, before you doubt things you hear.

April 3rd, 2009, 6:06 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

“To remind you, both you, Chris, and Majid, are about as far away from this conflict, from Palestinians and from Israelis, as I am from the moon.”

It’s an English language blog. Few of the people writing here, including those who claim to be Syrian, are actually in the Middle East. So if physical proximity to the conflict is a prerequisite to participation on this blog, then most of the people presently posting here would be unable to do so.

April 3rd, 2009, 6:23 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

I’m not suggesting you (or anyone else) should not write on SC, because you’re not living here. But there’s a word in Hebrew that also American Jews know well, called “Chutzpah”, that is sometimes deserved of some blind-AIPAC supporter, who visits Israel once in 5 years, goes on some “Safari-Tour” of the country, and thinks he can be more “objective” about reality in the region than someone who, not by chance, happens to live and breathe here day and night. “He knows” that there are no Jewish-only roads in the West Bank. How does he know? He reads CAMERA.org, and sees that CNN changed its wording to “Israeli-only” in an article or two. Does he think of asking his settler-friends about the reality? No. Has he asked a single soldier who’s ever served in the West Bank, and knows this reality better than he knows his government ministers’ names? No. But he knows.

He knows that racism in Israel is just like anywhere else. He knows the Arab-Israelis are well-off, enjoying equal and fair treatment. He knows that Israel didn’t kill 1300 Palestinians. He knows.

I don’t particularly give a rat’s-a## whether anyone here finds me “subjective”, or my comments less-than “balanced”. I’m not here to support dictatorships, nor am I here to support even in the slightest way the Occupation. I find it far more useful to criticize the one regime I know best – my own – than to “balance” my comments with “But hey, your own ruler is a piece of s##t, and Palestinian terrorists are cowards for murdering little children…” What will I achieve? Fairness and objectivity? Will that help me build bridges between Arabs and Israelis? Will that build trust? Will that make MORE Syrians want to engage me and my countrymen, or LESS? I (and you) will gain more respect when we exhibit courage and honesty about our own regimes, than when we prove our knowledge of someone else’s. And god knows, most Israelis certainly do not exhibit either one. Nor do most of Israel’s blind-supporters abroad.

April 3rd, 2009, 6:41 pm

 

majid said:

Shai said, “To remind you, both you, Chris, and Majid, are about as far away from this conflict, from Palestinians and from Israelis, as I am from the moon. Your own “objectivity” is fed more from CAMERA.org, than from people right here, who have to live through the conflict, from both ends of it. Go talk to someone else about “objectivity”. You know nothing about what is happening here, and your little “Safari Tour” of the Zionist Entity was as enlightening as George W. Bush’s State-of-the-Union speeches. Gosh I miss him… don’t you?”

Dear Shai, I don’t know about AP or Chris. But you’re assuming too much about my proximity or lack thereof to the conflict you’d like to claim as having all the answers to. Now, that adds additional doubts to your ability to judge soundly after you’ve admittedly chose to be non-objective (Comment 28, “Majid, my role as I see it on SC, is not to portray the balanced picture”).

I also recall that you never objected to some SC commentators who claim to be of the same mind like you who a while back applauded an intruder who came all of a sudden calling for the dismantlement of Israel. Is this out of fear not to antagonize them or is this what you want? Where do you draw the line between your duty and what may border on collaboration or may we say outright ‘treason’. I also recall you advising someone that Syria should fire few hundred missiles towards Israel as retaliation in case Israel destroys some WMD manufacturing facilities in Syria?

I believe your lack of sense of judgment is alarming!!!

April 3rd, 2009, 11:21 pm

 

miso farah said:

Avigdor Lieberman looks exactly like Hitler 2009 model !!!

April 4th, 2009, 3:14 am

 

Shai said:

Majid,

I don’t know where you reside (and I don’t particularly care), but where I live, engaging in harsh, at times endless criticism of my country and its policies past and present is not considered “collaboration”. And in my book, “traitors” are precisely those who blindly-support any regime in any country, and go no active campaigns (such as visiting SC on a regular basis) selling their propaganda.

April 4th, 2009, 4:12 am

 

majid said:

Shai said, “I don’t know where you reside (and I don’t particularly care), ”

Dear Shai, I do care when you make false assumptions like “To remind you, both you, Chris, and Majid, are about as far away from this conflict” and build false arguments around falsehoods. I hope you respond in context and not out of context.

Your subjective definition of “traitor” doesn’t matter and no one cares about it. Treason is a well known behavior subject to a well defined objective definition and it is not as you subjectively defined it in you last comment # 37. Actually your definition is as laughable as your other arguments.

You failed to respond properly to the issue of dismantlement of the State of Israel to which you kept silent either out of fear to antagonize certain bodies of yours or you actually support it (that is very close to be labeled traitor). Even worse, your advice to one of your bodies that Syria should fire few hundred missiles on Israel is a clear cut case of treason. So what do you have to say to that? You childishly come up with a subjective definition of treason? A clear proof of utter lack of judgement!

I understand that you chose not to be objective. But to come around and state your subjective opinions as facts and definitions is plain dumb arrogance. And that is a clear proof that you are the last person who will be able to contribute positively either to the plight of your own people or to that of the Palestinians.

So my sincere advice to you is to look at realities with an objective eye. And if you cannot do it then your subjectivity is your own world and it would be wise to keep it to yourself.

April 4th, 2009, 5:02 am

 

why-discuss said:

Majid

Yawning…

April 4th, 2009, 6:21 am

 

Shai said:

Majid,

You make me laugh. If you weren’t so full of yourself and your “definitions” (objective, treason, judgement, …) I’d actually take you seriously. But if you don’t like my subjectivity and my world, you don’t have to force your cerebral cortex to command your fingers to type “https://joshualandis.com/blog”. You can just go elsewhere.

Funny, just the other day I told Yossi how I thought you, Chris, and AP were almost too-identical in thought and style. Almost to the point of considering all three of you the same person… 🙂 I certainly wouldn’t rule that out, when it came to AIPAC and its blind-supporters.

As for your idiotic comments:

“You failed to respond properly to the issue of dismantlement of the State of Israel to which you kept silent either out of fear to antagonize certain bodies of yours or you actually support it (that is very close to be labeled traitor).”

Do you think it is necessary for me to state the obvious, that I’m AGAINST the dismantlement of the country I live in? Alright, for you, just this once: “I am fully against the dismantlement of the State of Israel.”

“Even worse, your advice to one of your bodies that Syria should fire few hundred missiles on Israel is a clear cut case of treason. So what do you have to say to that? You childishly come up with a subjective definition of treason? A clear proof of utter lack of judgement!”

I differentiate between supporting the enemy (treason), and being honest (not treason). I don’t believe Ehud Barak was a traitor, when he said that had he been a Palestinian, he would have also belonged to a “terrorist group” that targeted Israelis. But with all due respect, who the hell are YOU to judge me or anyone else as a traitor of my country?

“I understand that you chose not to be objective. But to come around and state your subjective opinions as facts and definitions is plain dumb arrogance. And that is a clear proof that you are the last person who will be able to contribute positively either to the plight of your own people or to that of the Palestinians.”

A word of advice – think before you speak, then speak. I assume your definition of “fact” would be: “something most people can agree on”. If so, then the crap you bring up here quite often is certainly farthest from being “fact”, as judged by the overwhelming majority who disagree with you. First convince most on SC of your “objective facts”, and then come talk to me.

Majid, I understand it’s not easy for you to get the satisfaction you seek. I know what your goal is on SC – it is the same goal that is shared by AP and AIG. You’re not here to tell the truth “as it is”. You’re here to divide. You’re here to sow anger, hatred, and to reinforce division. You haven’t been kicked out of this forum yet, so you’ll continue as long as you can. Well, I wish you all the luck. But in the meantime, and as a personal request from me, please get off my back, and go climb someone else’s.

April 4th, 2009, 11:06 am

 

Shai said:

The English version referred to her as “Gunwoman”. The Hebrew version as “Female Palestinian Terrorist”. So why is a woman who comes to shoot at soldiers called in Israel “terrorist”, but an Air Force pilot who drops his Latte (as Yossi called it) to go blow up a neighborhood in Gaza isn’t?

Do you see a problem there, AP?

English: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3696995,00.html
Hebrew: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3696998,00.html

April 4th, 2009, 11:37 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Speaking of treason…

AP & Chris, you are committing treason against America, since your blind support of the Israeli regime is resulting in the compromise of American interests, including American lives. Your mothership AIPAC is not even capable of articulating how it would deal with a “hypothetical” conflict of US-Israeli interests and we all know this is not at all a hypothetical matter and your operators in AIPAC are actually knee-deep in espionage against the US.

All the Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinian nationals who live in the US and Canada are committing treason against their homelands since they sponsor military campaigns against their countries with their tax money.

As for the “dismantling of Israel”, usually this is a cover-up term for genocide against Jews in Israel but if we were to look at it objectively, as it is theoretically defined, as an effort to redefine the polity in this geographical unit where Israel resides today, then it is as treasonous to consider this proposition as it was treasonous for a South-African to call for the dismantling of the Apartheid system. I personally want Israel to be redefined, peacefully, with a new constitution and symbols of statehood. If this is treasonous then so be it, who gives a fig.

By the same token, Lieberman’s plea to cut-off the “triangle” with its Arab towns and residents and make it part of Palestine is also treasonous because it seeks to redefine what Israel is in terms of constituency and territory. And just to demonstrate that I’m not “one sided” I’ll grant you this: it may not be a bad idea. If we’re going to a two-state solution then let’s look at the entire “pie” and divide it such that each resulting state is as close as it gets to uni-national, and gets a fair share of the natural resources. This is not my dream solution but if that’s what the peoples want, then we have to look at it objectively and optimize the result and not stick to some book of PC definitions.

April 4th, 2009, 2:56 pm

 

majid said:

Shai said, “But in the meantime, and as a personal request from me, please get off my back, and go climb someone else’s.”

It was such a nice ride.

April 4th, 2009, 4:17 pm

 

Shai said:

Majid,

Sorry for the disappointment. I’m already married. 🙂

April 4th, 2009, 5:57 pm

 

Chris said:

Yossi,

It is quite a leap to equate treaon with support for a policy that is not the country’s interest. What is in the interest of the United States is debateable. Reasonable people do disagree about the issue of whether America’s closeness to Israel results in a net positive. However, the elected political leadership of the country has come to the conclusion that the relationship as it stands is in the interest of the United States. Moreover, a recent Pew Research Poll, found that only 11% of Americans have more sympathy for the Palestinians ( http://people-press.org/report/482/israel-hamas-conflict ). Certainly, the political leadership of the United States and 89% of the American population can’t all be committing treason. It is more likely that you are simply labelling those with whom you have political differences as being guilty of treason. This is very problematic. Questioning people’s loyalty is a particulary pernicious way of engaging in political discussion. After all, treason in the US is an offense which is punishable by death. To so easily declare a person guilty of treason reminds me of takfir.

For American Jews this is a real problem. As is well known some of Israel’s most vocal supporters are Jews. Equating support for the relationship between the United States and Israel with treason then puts there position within American society in real jeopardy. It is questioning the loyalty of Jews. Historically, anti-semites first questioned the loyalty of Jews to the country, portraying them as rootless people who have no concern for the well-being of the country.

You also characterized my views as “blind support of the Israeli regime.” My support for a two-state settlement and my opposition to violence against civilians is not blind. I am a graduate student of Middle Eastern studies who has been to the region a number of times. If a grad student is blind, then what is the overwhelming majority of the population? However, questioning the intelligence of your interlocutors is probably going to derail the conversation away from anything of substance.

Shai,

You are an interesting character and I often like reading your posts, but I’d also appreciate it if you kept things civil and respectful on this blog about politics. Ridiculing other people with a response like “You make me laugh” or characterizing their comments as “idiotic” or “crap” is not going to lead us to a productive or interesting political discussion. Moreover, it is highly disrespectful and not in keeping with the rules of the site. From the SC Rules page “…commentators should maintain a respectful tone with others and be tolerant of opinions that may differ from their own.”

April 4th, 2009, 6:05 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Chris,

I was trying to be a little bit sarcastic and show that accusations of treason to whomever is objecting his government’s policies are very easy to manufacture (as Majid did to Shai). Voicing your opinions on the Net should never be considered treason, so you’re “clean”, based on what I know of you (which is nothing at all).

As you know some of AIPAC’s members have been accused of espionage including Mr. Rosen of the Freeman affair. The fact that they portray themselves as “representatives of all Jews in America” puts us all indeed in a precarious state and that’s why there is a ground swell in support of more rational organizations such as J Street. It’s the same type audacity that allows Israel to decorate its F1-6’s with stars of David as a “Jewish State” such that when they bomb kids in Gaza they tarnish the reputation of all Jews by linking our sacred insignia with their murderous behaviors.

April 4th, 2009, 6:24 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

Thank you for the lecture. I usually try not to get down to that level, before the opposite parts start themselves. Have a look at some of your compatriots’ comments, and please lecture them first.

April 4th, 2009, 6:24 pm

 

Majid said:

SHAI said, “Sorry for the disappointment. I’m already married.”

I’m not gay either. I meant it literally. There is always a problem with people who assume too much. You have to be very explicit. Now you go and search for a gay one like you. Sorry, man.

April 4th, 2009, 6:40 pm

 

chris said:

“Have a look at some of your compatriots’ comments, and please lecture them first.”

This is a smart tactic. It would shield you, as an Israeli, from criticism. It also implies that others engage in the same style of commenting, namely, “Ridiculing other people with a response like “You make me laugh” or characterizing their comments as “idiotic” or “crap.” So you would be just one among many. However, it is very rare that I see such blatant disrespect voiced for fellow commenters on this blog. Your comment also would imply that I know who the Americans are on Syria Comment. Nationality is really not important to me. So, I haven’t been keeping track of where each person is from. Nationality also has little to do with whether or not people are being disrespectful on an internet forum.

April 4th, 2009, 6:55 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

Just from comment 38:

“Actually your definition is as laughable as your other arguments.”

“You childishly come up with a subjective definition of treason?”

“But to come around and state your subjective opinions as facts and definitions is plain dumb arrogance.”

When Majid says this, you’re fine with it. I don’t remember hearing you lecture him. Did you?

Ok, Chris, Majid, can we stop this? It’s not only boring me, I’m sure it’s also boring everyone else. Why-Discuss gave us the hint earlier on in comment 39…

April 4th, 2009, 7:06 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

I don’t know Majid’s nationality. So, his nationality has nothing to do with why I called your attention to the disrespectful nature of your comments. Nationality isn’t the issue. I have only recently noticed his participation on this blog. I’ve seen you on this blog for quite some time. My decision to call attention to this has more to do with the nature of your comments overall.

More importantly though, calling attention to someone else’s behavior is a poor defense. It’s an attempt to distract people away from the issue and signals an unwillingness to deal with the issue at hand.

If you wish to return to politics though, we can.

April 4th, 2009, 7:16 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

I don’t know where you get the nationality issue from. I don’t care if Majid is Saudi, or if you’re American, or if AP is a Jewish-Martian. That’s fine with me.

But do me a favor, if you’re going to pass judgement, at least be fair enough to pass it first on ones who preceded me with the same type of comments. Funny that you haven’t said a word about Majid’s comment 38. Figures, I guess.

And please refrain from being my psychologist. If I feel I need one, I’ll ask, I promise you.

April 4th, 2009, 8:26 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

In post 50, you wrote “Ok, Chris, Majid, can we stop this? It’s not only boring me, I’m sure it’s also boring everyone else,” yet you continue with the questions. Fine. I’m more than happy to answer them.

I got the nationality thing from what you wrote, in post 47. You wrote “Have a look at some of your compatriots’ comments, and please lecture them first.” A compatriot would be someone from the same country, thus one of the same nationality. So, when you wrote of “compatriots” it appeared that you thought nationality has something to do with who I should’ve and should call attention to disrespectful when they comment in a disrespectful way.

In post 51 I referred to why I called attention to you “ridiculing other people with a response like “You make me laugh” or characterizing their comments as “idiotic” or “crap.”

April 4th, 2009, 8:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Chris, Majid,’

Thank you for the support.

It looks like I missed a “tag-team” effort between you both and Shai and Yossi.

Skimming through the dialogue, the question of “what is a traitor” came up. I vaguely remember Shai calling on Syria to send missiles into Israel, but I’m not sure. If Shai had a position in the Knesset, I’m afraid if he said these words, he could (theoretically) be tried for treason, although the GOI is known to ignore “hot-headed” comments from other MKs, especially Arab MKs. MK Kahane was thrown out of the Knesset due to his racist ve=iews. Lieberman is (IMHO) walking a tight-rope in this regard.

OTOH, verbally supporting an ally like Israel could never be considered treason. In fact, verbally supporting an enemy state like Iran could not be considered treason.

What we say matters depending who were are, where we are, and what position of responsibility we possess. IN Syria or Iran both Chris AND Shai would be traitors because none of these countries have freedom of speech.

Yossi said:

I personally want Israel to be redefined, peacefully, with a new constitution and symbols of statehood. If this is treasonous then so be it, who gives a fig.

Why would this statement be treasonous? Your sentiments are shared by the new female, Arab MK (the name escapes me). Calling for an enemy country to fire missiles against Israel is something different altogether. Me? I want what the majority of Israelis want – today that’s a Jewish state.

As I said before, if and when the majority of Israelis do NOT want a Jewish state, then I would have to go in that direction. I think most Israeli Jews would go in that direction. The wonderful thing about voting and changes in the electorate is that change comes gradually and not very suddenly.

I only worry about the fanantics on both sides who may try to use the instability of a 50-50 electorate to cause some violent reaction. However, if and when this occurs, we may be surprised to find a peaceful transfer of power. Who knows?

Last point:

Shai, with the advent of the internet, etc, there is very little that we can’t learn about. My “Safari Tour” included.

My favorite blog during the war was Muqata. They did a great job.

http://www.muqata.blogspot.com/

April 4th, 2009, 9:01 pm

 

norman said:

Shai,

I do not think that you should care about what they say about you , You have a good heart and you aim for the advancement of all people in the Middle East, and that is noble enough to get my support and admiration, Keep the good work ,

And that is my take.

April 5th, 2009, 12:48 am

 

Shai said:

Dear Norman,

Of course I do not care about what (they) say about me, or anyone else. I just find it funny that, Chris for instance, has the audacity to criticize my use of language, when his buddy Majid is first to introduce it. Believe me, even AIPAC-supporters like AP, Chris, and Majid, can’t shake my resolve. When I see characters like them try to destroy bridges, rather than build them, I am even more determined! 😉

April 5th, 2009, 3:41 am

 

norman said:

I am glad,

April 5th, 2009, 4:19 am

 

Shai said:

Norman,

I said to Yossi the other day, that although I do not know what thoughts reside in Netanyahu’s head, if by some miracle he IS planning to become the next Begin, then everything we’re seeing now does make sense. What better way to “prepare” the Israeli public for peace, than to raise their anxiety-level as high as possible, to bring them as close as possible to war (without engaging in one), and then to “drop it on them”. If he plans to make peace with the Arab world, he knows the price, and he knows he must have the entire Right rallying behind him before he can introduce any such Begin-style ideas. So to rally, you do what you have to, for a while.

But unfortunately, if he doesn’t plan to be the next Begin, and instead wants to maintain the “status quo” (believing, like AIG, that time is on our side), then everything he’s doing also makes sense…

That’s the funny thing about the Right – they use anti-rhetoric, adopt anti-policies, and eventually do what the Left wanted to do, but couldn’t. Or not.

April 5th, 2009, 4:57 am

 

Shai said:

Looks like Israel won’t be enjoying its new Foreign Minister for long… Shame, and I was beginning to like him. If he’s replaced, we’ll again deceive everyone. At least Lieberman was honest.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1076401.html

April 5th, 2009, 5:30 am

 

norman said:

Shai, Yossi ,

If Netanyahu is trying to secure a place in history he would look for a comprehensive peace that would secure Israel’s future .

April 5th, 2009, 12:37 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

“Believe me, even AIPAC-supporters like AP, Chris, and Majid, can’t shake my resolve. When I see characters like them try to destroy bridges, rather than build them, I am even more determined! ”

What nerve! What gall! What chutzpah! After we have a dialogue about you’re decision to ridicule other people with a response like “You make me laugh” or characterizing their comments as “idiotic” or “crap you then turn around and say that I am here to “destroy bridges.”I’ve never seen confident self-rightousness. You make it sound as if you’re here to “build them” by ridiculing people and telling everyone how you laugh at them!

Moreover, the adhominem attack was unnecessary. You have no reason to believe that I am a supporter of AIPAC or any other organization.

April 5th, 2009, 6:49 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

Do you not support AIPAC? (If your answer is going to be “On some things I do, on others I don’t”, please tell us on what you don’t.)

April 5th, 2009, 6:59 pm

 

christopherwilken@yahoo.com said:

Shai,

First of all, regarding the ad hominem attack. Ad hominem attacks are attacks directed at the person making an argument rather than the argument itself. This is done so as to damage the credibility of the person making an argument rather than formulate a counter argument. It is very easy, but it avoids substantive discussion. This is what you have done. You have tried to discredit me by associating me with an organization that I am not a part of so as to marginalize me. Great way to build bridges rather than “destroy bridges” as you so self-righteously put it earlier.

“Do you not support AIPAC? (If your answer is going to be “On some things I do, on others I don’t”, please tell us on what you don’t.)”

No. Nor do I know what their position has been on specific pieces of legislation or political candidates.

April 5th, 2009, 7:10 pm

 

Chris said:

Shai,

First of all, regarding the ad hominem attack. Ad hominem attacks are attacks directed at the person making an argument rather than the argument itself. This is done so as to damage the credibility of the person making an argument rather than formulate a counter argument. It is very easy, but it avoids substantive discussion. This is what you have done. You have tried to discredit me by associating me with an organization that I am not a part of so as to marginalize me. Great way to build bridges rather than “destroy bridges.”

“Do you not support AIPAC? (If your answer is going to be “On some things I do, on others I don’t”, please tell us on what you don’t.)”

No. Nor do I know what their position has been on specific pieces of legislation or political candidates.

(Alex, please delete that other comment with the email address visible 🙂 Thanks.

April 5th, 2009, 7:23 pm

 

Shai said:

Chris,

While I admit that engaging in conversation with you is almost as fun as licking frozen door knobs, I actually prefer to end it for a while if you don’t mind.

I found it a bit hypocritical of you to psychoanalyze and criticize me, when your buddy Majid started attacking me with “laughable”, “childish”, “dumb arrogance” comments, before I had said anything similar to him, and yet you said nothing to him.

Like a true Zionist, I’m used to attacking back when attacked… 😉

April 5th, 2009, 7:46 pm

 

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