News Roundup (August 20 2010)

I have returned from Vermont and having no internet. I thank Alex for helping keep SC hobbling along while I was off line. Here are a few articles of interest that appeared over the last two weeks. Best, Joshua


Iraq to Allow Iranian Gas Pipeline to Syria, VOA News 12 August 2010

Iraq says it has agreed to allow its neighbor, Iran, to build a natural gas pipeline to Syria through Iraqi territory.

The Economist’s latest Business summary of the MENA states includes this happy quote. – (See the entire summary copied below)

Aside from Qatar, the only country to improve it overall rating in the region was Syria, which has moved up over the past year to B from CCC. Syria ran into difficulties with its external debt in the 1990s and was obliged to restructure its loans from the World Bank. More recently it signed a deal in 2005 to reschedule about US$13bn in debts to Russia (much of which was written off). Consequently Syria now has a relatively small burden of external debt, and ac debt-service ratio of only 1%.The economy is showing robust rates of growth, and the role of the private sector is increasing thanks to recent structural reforms….

Is Syria the Next Hot Market? Watch this report by Lara Setrakian

Poverty in Syria is projected to reach 40% of population by 2015. See article at Syria Steps in Arabic.

Al-Hayat reports on a major corruption case

سورية تعلن اكتشاف فساد بقيمة 104 ملايين دولار خلال 19 شهراً

Syrians dissatisfied, survey shows
August 19, 2010|By Meris Lutz, Los Angeles Times

A survey conducted in secret because of a ban finds most of more than 1,000 respondents are unhappy with political and economic conditions and want emergency rule to end.

A survey of Syrians, conducted in secret because of government prohibitions, shows strong dissatisfaction with prevailing political and economic conditions. Though that may not be a surprise, the fact that any kind of opinion poll could be conducted in Syria, was certainly an eye-opener, the study’s authors say.

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood opposition activity still on hold officially, with internal discussions on dissolving the movement!


Elias Muhanna (QifaNabki) flagged this inteview with Robert Baer in NowLebanon: (Via FLC)

How did Iran’s role evolve in Lebanon over the last decade?

Baer: In 1982, the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] arrived in Lebanon with the express purpose of driving out the Americans and the French. Having forced them to withdraw their forces, Iran consciously turned its energy to driving out the Israelis. Currently, Iran is supporting Hezbollah’s shift to becoming a force for stability. Iran intends to prove that it is not only a revolutionary, anti-colonialist force but also one that can govern – or, in Hezbollah’s case, a backer of a local force that can govern.

You say in your book that Iran was able to win the hearts of the Lebanese and Palestinian people by adopting national causes they can relate to, i.e. the struggle against Israeli occupation. Did the end of Israeli occupation over Lebanon weaken the Iranian argument of legitimacy?

Baer: Yes, the Iranians have a reduced role in Lebanon now that the war is more or less over. But the point remains the vast majority of the people in the Middle East look at Israel as an occupying military power, and the irreducible fact is that Iran (and Hezbollah) took it on and won. Samson and Goliath; that distinction will serve Iran for a long time.

Do you believe that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to Lebanon with Saudi King Abdullah a few weeks ago is an indicator of Saudi’s attempt to curb Iran’s power over Lebanon? How successful was that?

Baer: The great divide in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia and Iran. If Saudi Arabia’s influence in Lebanon were to completely vanish, it would be a great loss. What Saudi Arabia is trying to do now is bring Syria back into its fold, counting on [it] for helping with Lebanon. Without Syria, Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a chance in Lebanon.

How far would such an alliance go? Is it threatening for Hezbollah?

Baer: Syria will never abandon Hezbollah. The Party of God is an integral piece of its armature of military defense, and no amount of Saudi money will change this reality.

In your book you spoke at length about Hezbollah military commander Imad Mugniyah, describing him as “freelancer,” someone Iran could not completely rely on. What type of relations did Iran maintain with Mugniyah before his death? What about his role within Hezbollah?

Baer: Mugniyah was a fighter. He bridled at Iranian caution and wanted to carry the war to the West Bank and Gaza – and even Western Europe. At the same time he was considered untouchable in Tehran, an icon of the Islamic Resistance.

What is your take on his assassination in Syria in 2008?

Baer: I’ve heard all the theories, but in all honesty I don’t have an answer.

How do you view accusations of the possible involvement of Hezbollah members in the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri?

Baer: Let’s wait until the evidence comes out.

Could party members be involved without the knowledge of Hezbollah or Iran?

Baer: I’ve been in and out of Lebanon for 25 years, and I have to admit there’s no better country in the world for making and hiding conspiracies. I can make a convincing case that Arafat assassinated President Bachir Gemayel [in 1982 through the Syrian Social Nationalist Party], but most people would scoff at the idea. Sometimes we never get answers.

Do you think that the argument of Hezbollah’s possible involvement in the Hariri assassination would serve Israel’s objectives? How would this translate across the Middle East?

Baer: I don’t see a clear case that Hariri’s assassination served anyone’s interests, neither Syria’s nor Israel’s. Both countries need a stable Lebanon, with a strong central government. Taking the decision to assassinate Hariri must have involved an extraordinary set of circumstances – ones I can only speculate on.”

Steven Heydemann has a smart assessment at the Channel: “The real deal for Lebanon.” He explains why a Saudi-Syrian-Hizb deal to keep Hariri in power and preserve Lebanon’s calm and economic growth as a winner for the US.

Israel’s Hidden Hands in Lebanon:
Who Killed Hariri?
By ESAM AL-AMIN in Counter Punch
Monday, August 16, 2010

FT [Reg]: Lebanese hopes for tourism bounty dented

This year’s tourist season in Lebanon has been even more hyped than most. Fadi Abboud, the tourism minister, predicted a 20 per cent increase on last year’s nearly 2m visitors, and pitched this summer as “probably the best in our history”. …

Lebanon Grants Palestinians Work Rights: Lebanon’s Parliament passed a law allowing the country’s Palestinian refugees the right to work in the same professions as other foreigners.


Economist Intelligence Unit – Business Middle East
Business Middle East

The world economy is well into recovery, albeit with some developed economies looking like they might slip back into recession (not our core forecast, however). The global financial system has received a severe battering, and analysis of the various risks within markets remains as important as ever. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Risk Ratings Review provides such information for 120 countries, using a rating system from AAA to D. Included in these monthly reviews are assessments of banking sector risk, currency risk, and sovereign risk, which feed into a rating for overall country risk. Also included are political and economic structure risk ratings, which inform the other assessments. Ratings for the MENA states vary considerably, with the Gulf Arab states and Israel figuring among the top-ranked countries, while the likes of Sudan, Iraq and Yemen are in the bottom cluster.


The MENA region in general weathered the recession reasonably well. The main exception was the emirate of Dubai, which has been obliged to restructure about US$23.5bn in debts owed by Dubai World, a government-owned conglomerate with heavy exposure to the real estate sector. Thanks to the support of Abu Dhabi and of the UAE federal government, the Dubai debt crisis has been contained. Nevertheless, we maintain a cautious outlook, and we have kept the UAE’s risk rating at BB, the lowest in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). The ratings of three other GCC member states—Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait—also remain constrained owing to their banking sector risk, stemming from the Saad/Algosaibi defaults (see page 4) and the collapse of a number of Kuwaiti investments. Qatar, by contrast, has moved back up to an overall A rating, the highest in the region, mainly owing to the exceptionally strong position of the state’s finances. Israel has also edged up the ranking as a result of a marginal improvement in banking risk.

At the other end of the scale, Yemen has also seen a significant fall in its ranking, dropping from B to CC in the space of two years. This is in light of the country’s worsening fiscal position, mounting pressures on the local currency and the increased threat to security, with a rebellion in the north, unrest in the south and growing activity by al-Qaida. Yemen has now resorted to seeking financial support from the IMF (see page 3).

Aside from Qatar, the only country to improve it overall rating in the region was Syria, which has moved up over the past year to B from CCC. Syria ran into difficulties with its external debt in the 1990s and was obliged to restructure its loans from the World Bank. More recently it signed a deal in 2005 to reschedule about US$13bn in debts to Russia (much of which was written off). Consequently Syria now has a relatively small burden of external debt, and ac debt-service ratio of only 1%.The economy is showing robust rates of growth, and the role of the private sector is increasing thanks to recent structural reforms.

Other countries to have registered improvements to some of their ratings include Turkey (currency risk moving from B to BB as the economy has emerged swiftly from recession) and Jordan (sovereign risk up to B from CCC following signs that the economy was not as severely impacted by the recession as earlier feared). Algeria’s sovereign risk has slipped to BB from BBB, largely owing to an increase in its fiscal deficit and a worsening of the investment environment.

The countries in the middle of the regional rankings have remained relatively stable in our risk assessment, with Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia all retaining the BB overall rating that they had one year ago. This reflects the relatively effective way in which these countries have dealt with the global recession. In Egypt, for example, real GDP growth has steadily increased since it bottomed out at 4.1% in the second quarter of 2008/09 (July-June fiscal year), reaching 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2009/10, and 5.3% over the fiscal year as a whole.
Ranking by risk

Syria: Banks reaching new heights
Oxford Business Group, 18 August 2010

The Syrian banking sector appears to be in rude health, reporting record figures at a time when many banks in the region are still absorbing the impact of the global financial crisis. In July 2010, the Central Bank of Syria released figures showing that bank assets in the country have topped $40bn for the first time.

With banking expanding across a number of business lines, growth levels have outstripped neighbours in the region. Both state-owned and private banks have been performing strongly this year. While the former still dominate the sector, accounting for 74.5% of banking assets ($31.5bn), the most impressive growth has been witnessed among the latter. Indeed, year-on-year (y-o-y) asset growth increased by 29.04% among private banks, with an impressive expansion rate of 5% for the first quarter of 2010 alone. This compares to state-owned bank asset growth of 9.5% and 1.3% for annual and quarterly increase, respectively.

The uptick in private sector banking is welcome news as the government looks to encourage further competition in the sector and broaden the scope of private financing, for both government projects and private enterprise. The central bank signalled its intent in this regard in January 2010 when it increased the ceiling for foreign ownership stakes in local banks from 49% to 60%. The 14 existing private banks in Syria all have foreign participation, although none of this comes from outside the Arab world.

It is expected that the central bank’s new regulation will encourage additional foreign participation in the sector. A number of companies have already expressed an interest in the Syrian market, with particular and persistent attention from Turkish financial institutions. Türkiye İş Bankası, Ziraat Bank, and two state-owned Turkish banks, Halkbank and Vakıfbank, have all been eyeing the Syrian market this year.

However, the high cost of opening a Syrian affiliate is proving to be an obstacle for many foreign entities. Alongside the foreign ownership reform in January, the central bank also introduced a measure raising the minimum capital requirements of affiliates from S£1.5bn ($32.15m) to S£10bn ($214.4m) for conventional banks and from S£5bn ($107.2m) to S£15bn ($321.5m) for Islamic financial institutions.

The move, ostensibly aimed at making local institutions more robust, has made potential investors somewhat wary. Türkiye İş Bankası and Vakıfbank have said that the high capital requirements mean that they are only likely to open representative offices rather than full affiliates. Furthermore, in mid-July the general manager of Halkbank, Hussein Aydin, told the Turkish press that “Damascus was too expensive to invest in,” and that the bank would rather focus on the Balkans.

However, most private sector banks seem to be making healthy profits and all the indicators point to a thriving sector. Indeed, the banking industry has become increasingly aggressive and ambitious, helping to drive the whole Syrian economy forward. The total loan portfolio of the sector, excluding loans made to the central government, increased 14.7% y-o-y to $22.1bn, according to the central bank’s latest statistics.

The majority of this growth was recorded in the private sector, with private conventional banks’ loan portfolios increasing by 33% and private Islamic banks by 64%. This growth has impacted all sectors of the economy. With the exception of wholesale and retail trade, bank financing has increased across all economic activities, with agriculture recording the biggest jump in lending of 59.2% in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the same period of the previous year. Mining and manufacturing and building and construction also recorded double-digit growth in bank financing.

Such figures illustrate the growing confidence and ambition of the sector. They are also a reflection of government incentives and regulations to encourage banks to support economic development. For example, in May 2009, the central bank took a decision to encourage lending to the manufacturing sector by reducing banks’ reserve requirements based on increased lending.

Following the success of this measure, a similar regulation governing lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) went into force from July 2010. Under the decision, banks will be offered a discount in their reserve requirements on a sliding scale dependent on increased lending to SMEs up to a discount level of 5% of reserves for a lending ration of more than 45% to SMEs.

Through this combination of government oversight and private sector involvement, the Syrian banking sector is building momentum. With deposits to the sector also increasing dramatically, the financial industry is buoyant. All indicators are moving in the right direction, and while the record peak in assets is currently seen as something of a landmark, it is likely to be soon forgotten as it is surpassed and new heights are reached.

Monday, August 16, 2010 12:40 PM


Israel’s Hidden Hands in Lebanon
Who Killed Hariri?

Syria: Luxury Rentals With a Turkish Backstory.
By Matthew Stevenson’s

Syria, while a rich tourist area, has much of its reconstruction wealth devoted to apartments, which can cost about $2 million. While Syria and its neighboring countries have had their conflicts in the past, this money should go to a transnational rail line to not only increase tourism, but regional trade as well.


U.S., Israel Build Military Cooperation
Amid Fitful Diplomatic Relations, White House Fosters Defense Ties to Reassure a Pivotal Ally, Advance Mideast Peace

TZEELIM, Israel—While the U.S. and Israeli diplomatic relations weather their choppiest phase in years, behind the scenes, military commanders from the two countries have dramatically stepped up cooperation.

The intensified partnership is part of the Obama administration’s broader policy of boosting military support for American allies in the Mideast amid heightened tensions with Iran and its allies such as Hezbollah and Hamas, according to U.S. officials. The Obama administration believes it may also help induce Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make concessions in talks with Palestinians, these officials said.

U.S. military aid to Israel has increased markedly this year. Top-ranking U.S. and Israeli soldiers have shuttled between Tel Aviv and Washington with unusual frequency in recent months. A series of joint military exercises in Israel has included a record number of American troops.

This month, about 200 U.S. Marines joined a battalion of Israeli soldiers for an all-night march through the Negev desert, the culmination of three weeks of joint drills. As dawn approached, they crept up on a mock village, an Israeli military-built recreation of a typical Palestinian hamlet, used for combat training.

Explosions, triggered by pyrotechnics engineers, shook the night. Soldiers from another Israeli unit, playing the role of Arab guerrillas, crouched in the fake village’s narrow allies and empty cinderblock homes. They rattled off rounds of blank ammunition from machine guns at the invading U.S. and Israeli forces.

Behind a dune on the village’s edge, a U.S. Marine company commander conferred with his Israeli counterpart before the two barked orders—the Marine in English, the Israeli in Hebrew—to soldiers scattered behind them. As dawn gave way to the Negev desert’s grinding August heat, the forces battled house-to-house in mock battle, as Israeli and Marine generals watched on from the sidelines.

The exercise was the biggest U.S.-Israeli joint infantry exercise ever, according to officials. By comparison, at the same exercise last year, there were only around 20 U.S. Marines involved. In the fall, there will be an even bigger joint infantry exercise involving tanks and armored vehicles, officials said.

Two joint U.S.-Israel committees, the U.S.-Israel Joint Political Military Group and the Defense Policy Advisory Group, which were established years ago and had fallen into disuse, have been beefed up with senior officials, including Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy, the top-ranking civilian at the Pentagon, Israeli and U.S. officials said.

The military cooperation began to intensify even as diplomatic relations between Washington and Israel frayed. The effort stems from policy directives the White House gave the Pentagon early in Mr. Obama’s presidency to “deepen and expand the quantity and intensity of cooperation to the fullest extent,” according to a senior administration official.

Officials in Washington and Israel continue to say they haven’t ruled out a military strike against Iran amid Tehran’s nuclear standoff with the West. But the new cooperation appears to be part saber-rattling at Iran and part reassuring Israel that the U.S. is fully committed to its security.

The senior U.S. official said President Barack Obama felt the increased military support is necessary to assure Israel’s security against mounting regional threats, including Iran and its allies: Syria, the Gaza-based Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. “History has shown that Israel is more willing to take risks for peace when it feels it is capable of addressing its security needs,” the official said.

U.S. military aid to Israel reached a high of $2.78 billion in 2010, up from $2.55 billion in 2009. It is slated to jump to $3 billion in 2011. The Obama administration has also requested an additional $205 million to fund a short-range rocket defense shield.

Washington’s stepped-up military support comes amid similar moves to strengthen military ties with America’s Arab allies in the region, including those that don’t maintain ties with Israel.

This week, the Obama administration said it intended to provide new Patriot missile batteries to Kuwait. And Washington is readying a $60 billion sale of advanced F-15 fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia.

Back to Basics on Israel’s Security Needs
Elliott Abrams
Vol. 10, No. 7 19 August 2010 The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

* The letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon of April 14, 2004, was a return to the key elements of U.S. policy since 1967 developed under President Johnson – the idea that there would be no return to the situation before June 1967; that the so-called ’67 borders were incapable of providing Israel with adequate defense and would change. The Bush letter makes no reference to the ’67 borders. It refers to “the armistice lines of 1949.”

* President Bush stated U.S. policy in a speech in the Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, where he called for “new Palestinian leadership.” It included the understanding that peace was not going to be made as it had been made with Jordan and Egypt, because Israel and the Palestinians were more deeply intertwined. Security for Israel depended also on what happened inside Palestinian society.

* The “incitement” issue is not trivial or marginal. In the case of Israel and the Palestinians, the location of the border and what is on the other side of that border are equally important. President Bush said that the Palestinians needed institutions of statehood where those who are in charge of education policy are not nursing ancient hatreds. Israel should not back away from the incitement issue because it is a security issue.

* Similarly, those who back away from the idea of defensible borders are making a huge mistake. Presumably they think defensible borders are too much to ask for. But there will be no peace with the ’67 lines, as has been understood since 1967. Clarity about the fact that those lines will change actually promotes peace. The point is to reflect the reality on the ground and establish the basis for a peace that can last. We need to stick to the basics and what is most basic is security. Click here to read the full article.

Pulse Media Reports

A huge trove of newly declassified documents subpoenaed during a 1962-1964 Senate investigation reveals how Israel’s lobby pitched, promoted, and paid to have content placed in America’s top news magazines with overseas funding. The Atlantic (and many others) received hefty rewards for trumpeting Israel’s most vital – but damaging – PR initiatives across America. The relevant documents are now online.


NPR has a good conversation with both Goldberg and Jon Lee Anderson who have major articles on Iran: Jon Lee Anderson’s “After The Crackdown” is in the most-recent issue of The New Yorker, and Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Point of No Return” is The Atlantic‘ cover story.

“…If someone will ‘do’ Iran, it will be the US, not israel…”
… Says Martin Indyk …In the Atlantic:

“…My interpretation of the facts, for what it’s worth, is a little different:

President Obama came into office determined not to use force against Iran — partly because he faced two other wars in the Middle East, but mostly because he was determined to engage Iran and saber-rattling would have been inconsistent with that approach.

By the end of his first year, however, he reached the conclusion that engagement had failed and that it was time to put force back on the table. In January he began to do so. That’s when Gates traveled to the Gulf and delivered a message from the President to the leaders there: “The President is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

This shift in rhetoric was backed by the deployment of missile defense systems to the Gulf and a bolstering of the U.S. force presence there. The rhetorical shift was made public by NSC Adviser Jim Jones in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in the spring.

It was also backed by a Pentagon study of the requirements for a U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities (foreshadowed in David Sanger’s New York Times’ article about Secretary of Defense Gates’ memo to President Obama). The conclusion of that study was that, in the words of one senior White House official, “The Iranians are not ten feet tall — we can do this.”

And it was backed by what Denis McDonough (the chief of staff of the National Security Council) said to you – that Iran’s nuclear program poses a grave threat to Obama’s vision of a new multipolar world order based in part on the twin pillars of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The Israelis started to pick up on this shift, approving of the fact that “the Pentagon had done its homework” and noting the change in Obama’s rhetoric. Their focus now shifted to putting salt on Obama’s tail. Hence Defense Minister Barak’s multiple visits to Washington in the last four months.

The Israelis today are more relaxed than your article allows. This is in part because of the shift in Obama’s posture but also because the sanctions are beginning to bite and the Iranians are having real problems with their centrifuges. One of the same generals you quote explained to me at the end of June how far the Iranians were from achieving their objective of a robust breakout capacity.

My interpretation doesn’t change your bottom line that if all these efforts fail and Obama doesn’t take action then the Israelis likely will. But it does lower the odds of Israeli action in the next year substantially below your “better than 50 percent” estimate. Indeed, I would argue that, if current trends continue, it’s actually more likely that the United States will bomb Iran than Israel. …”

Comments (25)

majedkhaldoun said:

even that the recent poll shows strong dissatisfaction and wants freedom and better economy, even then the popularity of Assad up till now is high

August 20th, 2010, 5:34 pm


friend in America said:

2 of the above articles suggest there is an interconnection, which offers Syria opportunities it has not had for 50 years. Consider: the implications of a possible Saudi-Syria-Hiz concurrence on the near term future of Lebanon and the article on Iran (note just last week U.S. officials settled down apprehensions in Israel about the speed of Iran’s nuclear development (this counters the militarists in Israel who also oppose any agreement that will end new settlement development). There is a third element: the pending Israel-Palestine peace talks in Washington. Frequently writers on this site have stated the issues in the Mid-East must be settled by a comprehensive agreement that involves all the instabilites in the Mid-East. Maybe, just maybe, that day is arriving.
An express peace agreement for Lebanon, however fragile, will allow Syria to extend its influence and expand its trade. It should be consistent with principles implicit in the peace settlement. Regional trade and economic agreements wil become possible which will produce more results for the people of the countries involved than military and political coercion.

August 20th, 2010, 6:25 pm


why-discuss said:

Syrian Economy addendum…

Syrie: 4,7mds $ de recettes touristiques
18/08/2010 | Mise à jour : 14:52 Réagir
Plus de cinq millions de touristes ont visité la Syrie durant les sept premiers mois de 2010, générant quelque 4,7 milliards de dollars, soit une augmentation de 55% par rapport à la même période en 2009, a indiqué mercredi le ministère du Tourisme.

Depuis le début de l’année, 5,1 millions de touristes ont visité la Syrie contre 3,3 millions sur la même période de 2009, selon les chiffres officiels du ministère, rapportés par les médias locaux. Parmi ces visiteurs, figurent 2,9 millions d’Arabes, 1,3 million d’étrangers et 912.000 Syriens résidant à l’étranger.

Les revenus touristiques des sept premiers mois de 2010 s’élèvent à 4,7 mds de dollars.

En 2009, six millions de touristes avaient visité le pays générant 5,2 milliards de dollars. La contribution du tourisme au PIB avait été de 11,2%.

Selon le ministère du Tourisme, ce succès s’explique notamment par “l’annulation des visas d’entrée pour les ressortissants turcs et iraniens”, ainsi que par “les campagnes touristiques lancées durant les deux dernières années”.

August 20th, 2010, 7:14 pm


Jihad said:

…and acceptance by Saad Hariri of Hezbollah’s claims that to the extent its operatives were associated with the assassination, they were acting as rogue elements-perhaps under Israeli control — and not on behalf of Hezbollah’s leadership.

Steve Heydemann is both comedic and delusional. And he knows nothing of Lebanon and especially of Hizbullah. Parroting Ynetnews is not that convincing.

August 20th, 2010, 11:51 pm


Norman said:


This is for you and the kind of country you try to tell us that it wants to live in peace , they are a racist country and only force will force Israel out of the Golan ,


Original Content at

August 21, 2010

The secrets in Israel’s archives: Evidence of ethnic cleansing kept under lock and key

By Jonathan Cook

History may be written by the victors, as Winston Churchill is said to have observed, but the opening up of archives can threaten a nation every bit as much as the unearthing of mass graves.

That danger explains a decision quietly taken last month by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to extend by an additional 20 years the country’s 50-year rule for the release of sensitive documents.

The new 70-year disclosure rule is the government’s response to Israeli journalists who have been seeking through Israel’s courts to gain access to documents that should already be declassified, especially those concerning the 1948 war, which established Israel, and the 1956 Suez crisis.

The state’s chief archivist says many of the documents “are not fit for public viewing” and raise doubts about Israel’s “adherence to international law”, while the government warns that greater transparency will “damage foreign relations”.

Quite what such phrases mean was illustrated by the findings of a recent investigation by an Israeli newspaper. Ha’aretz revisited the Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel seized not only the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, but also a significant corner of Syria known as the Golan Heights, which Israel still refuses to relinquish.

The consensus in Israel is that the country’s right to hold on to the Golan is even stronger than its right to the West Bank. According to polls, an overwhelming majority of Israelis refuse to concede their little bit of annexed Syria, even if doing so would secure peace with Damascus.

This intransigence is not surprising. For decades, Israelis have been taught a grand narrative in which, having repelled an attack by Syrian forces, Israel then magnanimously allowed the civilian population of the Golan to live under its rule. That, say Israelis, is why the inhabitants of four Druze villages are still present there. The rest chose to leave on the instructions of Damascus.

One influential journalist writing at the time even insinuated anti-Semitism on the part of the civilians who departed: “Everyone fled, to the last man, before the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] arrived, out of fear of the ‘savage conqueror'” Fools, why did they have to flee?”

However, a very different picture emerges from Ha’aretz’s interviews with the participants. These insiders say that all but 6,000 of the Golan’s 130,000 civilians were either terrorized or physically forced out, some of them long after the fighting finished. An army document reveals a plan to clear the area of the Syrian population, with only the exception of the Golan Druze, so as not to upset relations with the loyal Druze community inside Israel.

The army’s post-war tasks included flushing out thousands of farmers hiding in caves and woods to send them over the new border. Homes were looted before the army set about destroying all traces of 200 villages so that there would be nowhere left for the former inhabitants to return to. The first Jewish settlers sent to till the fields recalled seeing the dispossessed owners watching from afar.

The Ha’aretz investigation offers an account of methodical and wholesale ethnic cleansing that sits uncomfortably not only with the traditional Israeli story of 1967 but with the Israeli public’s idea that their army is the “most moral in the world”. That may explain why several prominent, though unnamed, Israeli historians admitted to Ha’aretz that they had learnt of this “alternative narrative” but did nothing to investigate or publicise it.

What is so intriguing about the newspaper’s version of the Golan’s capture is the degree to which it echoes the revised accounts of the 1948 war that have been written by later generations of Israeli historians. Three decades ago in a more complacent era Israel made available less sensitive documents from that period.

The new material was explosive enough. It undermined Israel’s traditional narrative of 1948, in which the Palestinians were said to have left voluntarily on the orders of the Arab leaders and in the expectation that the combined Arab armies would snuff out the fledging Jewish state in a bloodbath.

Instead, the documents suggested that heavily armed Jewish forces had expelled and dispossessed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians before the Jewish state had even been declared and a single Arab soldier had entered Palestine.

One document in particular, Plan Dalet, demonstrated the army’s intention to expel the Palestinians from their homeland. Its existence explains the ethnic cleansing of more than 80 per cent of Palestinians in the war, followed by a military campaign to destroy hundreds of villages to ensure the refugees never returned.

Ethnic cleansing is the common theme of both these Israeli conquests. A deeper probe of the archives will almost certainly reveal in greater detail how and why these “cleansing” campaigns were carried out which is precisely why Mr Netanyahu and others want the archives to remain locked.

But full disclosure of these myth-shattering documents may be the precondition for peace. Certainly, more of these revelations offer the best hope of shocking Israeli public opinion out of its self-righteous opposition to meaningful concessions, either to Syria or the Palestinians.

It is also a necessary first step in challenging Israel’s continuing attempts to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, as has occurred in the last few weeks against the Bedouin in both the Jordan Valley and the Negev, where villages are being razed and families forced to leave again.

Genuine peacemakers should be demanding that the doors to the archives be thrown open immediately. The motives of those who wish to keep them locked should be clear to all.

Author’s Website:

Author’s Bio: Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is


August 21st, 2010, 9:27 am


Shai said:


It is probably safe to assume that those archives include a lot of material that demonstrates ethnic cleansing was carried out by Jewish armed forces in 1947-48. But we don’t need access to the archives to know this – we have the stories of 600,000 refugees that were forced out, and have since become several million.

The reason for not opening the archives now, is the embarrassment to Israel’s attempted “holier-than-thou” image over the past 62 years. But if not with this PM, then through a future PM, who will be brave enough, and understand that Israel can only move forward, if it faces its real short-history, not its mythical one. It’s not foreign nations Netanyahu fears will read this history, but it’s his own people he fears.

August 21st, 2010, 1:11 pm



Ramadan Kareem: From the Netanyahu and Obama Administrations

The Message of the Bulldozers


On the day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began, at 2:30 in the morning, workers sent by the Israeli authorities, protected by dozens of police, destroyed the tombstones in the last portion of the Mamilla cemetery, an historic Muslim burial ground with graves going back to the 7th Century, hitherto left untouched. The government of Israel has always been fully cognizant of the sanctity and historic significance of the site. Already in 1948, when control of the cemetery reverted to Israel, the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry recognized Mamilla “to be one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin’s] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars. Israel will always know to protect and respect this site.” For all that, and despite (proper) Israeli outrage when Jewish cemeteries are desecrated anywhere in the world, the dismantlement of the Mamilla cemetery has been systematic. In the 1960s “Independence Park” was built over a portion of it; subsequently an urban road was built through it, major electrical cables were laid over graves and a parking lot constructed over yet another piece. Now some 1,500 Muslim graves have been cleared in several nighttime operations to make way for…..a $100 million Museum of Tolerance and Human Dignity, a project of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. (Ironically, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s Director, appeared on Fox News to express his opposition to the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, because the site of the 9/11 attack “is a cemetery.”)

The month-long period between Netanyahu’s July 6th visit to Washington and the start of Ramadan has provided Israel with a window to “clear the table” after a frustrating hiatus on home demolitions imposed by the “old,” mildly critical Obama Administration – although there is no guarantee that Israel will not demolish during Ramadan, especially if it wants to exploit the period until the November elections, knowing that until then Obama will not overtly oppose anything it does in the Occupied Territories. In fact, the process of demolishing Palestinian homes never ceased. On June 6th, for example, a year after the demolition of more than 65 structures and the forced displacement of more than 120 people, including 66 children, nine families of Khirbet Ar Ras Ahmar in the Jordan Valley, totaling 70 people, received a new round of “evacuation orders.” A week later the Israeli High Court ordered the Civil Administration to “step up enforcement against illegal Palestinian structures” in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control.

And so, on July 13th, upon Netanyahu’s return (Palestinian homes are not demolished without an OK from the Prime Minister’s Office), three homes were demolished in the Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, followed by three more homes in Beit Hanina. The Jerusalem Municipality also announced the planned demolition of 19 more homes in Issawiya this month. In the West Bank, the Israeli “Civil” Administration demolished 55 structures belonging to 22 Palestinian families in the Hmayer area of Al Farisiye in the northern Jordan Valley, including 22 residential tents and 30 other structures used to shelter animals and store agricultural equipment. According to the UN’s Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): “This week [July 14-20, the week of Netanyahu’s return from Washington] there was a significant increase in the number of demolitions in Area C, with at least 86 structures demolished in the Jordan Valley and the southern West Bank, including Bethlehem and Hebron districts. In 2010, at least 230 Palestinian structures have been demolished in Area C, forcibly displacing 1100 people, including 400 children. Approximately 600 others have been otherwise affected.” Two-thirds of the demolitions for 2010 have occurred since Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama. More than 3,000 demolition orders are outstanding in the West Bank, and up to 15,000 in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

The demolition of homes is, of course, only a small, if painful, part of the destruction Israel wreaks daily on the Palestinian population. Over the past few weeks a violent campaign has been waged against Palestinian farmers in one of the most fertile agricultural areas of the West Bank, the Baka Valley, steadily being encroached upon by large suburbs of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, in Hebron. Israel already takes 85% of the West Bank’s water for its own use, either for settlements (settlers use five times more water per capita as do Palestinians, and Ma’aleh Adumim is currently building a water park in addition to its four municipal swimming pools and the huge fountains constantly flowing in the city center) or to be pumped into Israel proper – all in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an Occupying Power from using the resources of an occupied territory.

Accusing the farmers of “stealing water” – their own water – the Israel water company Mekorot, supported by the Civil Administration and the IDF, has in recent weeks destroyed dozens of wells, some of them ancient, and reservoirs used to collect rain water, which is also “illegal.” Hundreds of hectares of agricultural land have dried up as irrigation pipes have been pulled out and confiscated by the Civil Administration. Fields of tomatoes, beans, eggplants and cucumbers are dying just before they can be harvested, and the grape industry in this rich valley is threatened with destruction. “I’m watching my life dry up before my eyes,” Ata Jaber, a Palestinian farmer who has had his home demolished twice, most of whose land lies buried under the Givat Harsina neighborhood of Kiryat Arba and whose plastic drip irrigation pipes are destroyed annually by the Civil Administration just before he can harvest. “I had hoped to sell my crop for at least $2000 before Ramadan, but all is gone.”

Settlements continue to be built, of course. The much-trumpeted “settlement freeze” amounted to no less than a temporary lull in construction. (Indeed, Netanyahu never used the word “freeze”; in Hebrew he refers only to a “pause.”) According to the August report of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch, at least 600 housing units have started to be built during the freeze, in over 60 different settlements – meaning that the rate of construction is about half of that during the same period in an average year when there is no freeze. Given that the approval process has never been halted – the Israeli government announced the planned building of 1600 housing units in the settlements when Vice President Biden was visiting, if you recall – making up for lost time when the “freeze” ends in late September will be an easy task. According to Ha’aretz, some 2,700 housing units are waiting to be constructed.

The fact that the so-called settlement freeze did not really end settlement construction is obvious. The American government seems ready to accept lip-service only from Israel, as against overt and brutal threats towards the Palestinians if they do not acquiesce to the charade. Palestinian negotiators revealed last week the Obama Administration threatened to cut all ties with the Palestinian Authority, political and financial, if they continued to insist on a genuine freeze on settlements or even clear parameters on what the sides will negotiate. (Netanyahu refuses to accept even the elementary principle of the 1967 borders being the basis of talks.)

Just as destructive of any real peace process, however, is the fact that the focus on settlement freeze deflects attention from attempts by Israel to create “irreversible facts on the ground” which will defeat the very process of negotiation. Even if Israel did respect a settlement freeze, there is no demand, no expectation, absolutely nothing to prevent it from continuing to build the Wall (the enclosing of the Shuafat refugee camp inside Jerusalem and the town of Anata is being completed in these very days, and the village of Wallajeh, some of which spills into Jerusalem, is losing its lands, ancient olive trees and homes even as we speak). Nothing is preventing Israel from continuing to impoverish and imprison the Palestinian population through its twenty-year economic “closure,” including the siege on Gaza, having reduced the Palestinian economy to ashes. Nothing stands in the way of completing a system of parallel (though not equal in size and quality) apartheid highways, big ones, going through Palestinian lands, for Israelis; narrow ones for Palestinians. Nothing keeps Israel from expelling Palestinian from their homes so that Jewish settlers can move in – on July 29th nine families living in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, returning home at night from a wedding, found themselves locked out of their homes by settlers and prevented from entering by the police. (Palestinians, of course, have no legal recourse to reclaiming their properties, whole villages, towns and urban neighborhoods, farms, factories and commercial buildings, confiscated from them in 1948 and after.)

Nothing prevents Israel from terrorizing the Palestinian population, whether by its own army or the surrogate militia founded by the US and run by the Palestinian Authority to pacify its own population, whether by settlers who shoot and beat Palestinians and burn their crops with no fear of arrest, or by undercover agents, aided by thousands of Palestinian forced to become collaborators, many simply so that their children could receive medical care or so they could have a roof over their heads; whether by expulsion or the myriad administrative constraints of an invisible yet Kafkaesque system of total control and intimidation. Nothing opposes Israel’s boycott of the Palestinian people, isolated from the world by Israeli-controlled borders, or policies that effectively boycott Palestinian schools and universities by preventing their proper functioning. And nothing, absolutely nothing, stops Israel from demolishing Palestinian homes – 24,000 in the Occupied Territories since 1967, and counting.

Perhaps this way of welcoming Ramadan comes at no surprise in terms of the Occupied Territories. It took on an entirely different cast when, on July 26th, more than 1,300 Israeli Border Police, the shock-troops of the police’s Yassam “special operations” unit and regular police, accompanied by helicopters, descended upon the Bedouin village of al-Arakib, just north of Beer-Sheva, a community within Israel inhabited by Israeli citizens. Forty-five homes were demolished, 300 people forcibly displaced. One of the most grotesque and dismaying parts of this operation was the use of Israeli Jewish high school students, volunteers with the civil guard, to remove the belongings of their fellow citizens from their homes before the demolition. Besides reports of vandalism and contempt for their victims the students were photographed lounging in the residents’ furniture in plain sight of its owners. Finally, when the bulldozers began demolishing the homes, the volunteers cheered and celebrated. Over the next week, as Israeli activists helped the residents pick up the pieces and rebuild their homes, the Jewish National Fund, the Israeli Land Authority, the Ministry of the Interior and the “Green Patrol” of the Ministry of Agriculture (established by Ariel Sharon to prevent Bedouin “take-over” of the Negev) sent in police and bulldozers and had the village demolished twice more.

Although al-Arakib is one of 44 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev – of which only eleven have even rudimentary education and medical services, no electricity, extremely limited access to water and none have paved roads (see – it is nevertheless populated by Israeli citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli army. While demolitions of Arab homes within Israel is not a new phenomenon – last year the Israeli government demolished three times more houses of Israeli (Arab) citizens inside Israel as it did in the Occupied Territories (the destruction of up to 8,000 homes in the Gaza invasion aside) – it signifies that the term “occupation” cannot be restricted to the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (and the Golan Heights) alone. The situation of Arab citizens of Israel is almost as insecure as that of the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories, and their exclusion from Israeli society almost as complete. While around 1,000 cities, towns and agricultural villages have been established in Israel since 1948 exclusively for Jews, not a single new Arab settlement has been established, with the exception of seven housing projects for Bedouins in the Negev where none of the residents are allowed to farm or own animals. Indeed, regulations and zoning prohibit Palestinian citizens of Israel from living on 96% of the country’s land, which is reserved for Jews only.

The message of the bulldozers is clear: Israel has created one bi-national entity between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River in which one population (the Jews) has separated itself from the other (the Arabs) and instituted a regime of permanent domination. That is precisely the definition of apartheid. And the message is delivered clearly in the weeks and days leading up to Ramadan. It is papered over with fine words. Netanyahu issued a statement saying: “We mark this important month amid attempts to achieve direct peace talks with the Palestinians and to advance peace treaties with our Arab neighbors. I know you are partners in this goal and I ask for your support both in prayers and in any other joint effort to really create a peaceful and harmonious coexistence.” Obama and Clinton also sent their greetings to the Muslim world, Obama observing that Ramadan “remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.” Both the White House and the State Department will hold Iftar meals. But the bulldozers and other expressions of apartheid and warehousing tell a much different story.

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He can be reached at

August 21st, 2010, 7:52 pm


Shai said:


The Palestinian leadership must immediately stop negotiating with Israel over solutions of separation, and instead over solutions of inclusion. The dream of a separate Palestine is dead – it was never a reality, and it will never become a reality. There is only one state between the river and the sea, no matter what its name might be, and it is time the Palestinians demand their equality and their rights within that single-state. Succumbing to pressure from the US, Israel, the EU, is not going to give the Palestinians more freedom, only less.

Let the Palestinians announce the end of Palestine, and the beginning of a State of Israel from the river to the sea.

August 22nd, 2010, 2:41 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

THE ONE STATE advocates IN ADVANCE OF THE CREATION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE are betraying the intent and legality of a people.


A one state solution before any of the above is a further subservience and acquiesence Israel’s demands.

If the Israelis can dream of a DEAD Palestinian state why deny the right of all the Palestinians having the same dream about a DEAD Israeli state.

August 22nd, 2010, 11:44 am


Norman said:

Shai, OTW , Elie ,Ghat,

You have to divide it then unite it , having one state now will make the Jews to want it Jewish state where the Palestinians are second class and the Palestinians feeling that they were robbed of their choice , while dividing first then looking at the situation having one state is the logical end for both of them to survive ,

August 22nd, 2010, 12:17 pm


Husam said:


“The dream of a separate Palestine is dead – it was never a reality, and it will never become a reality.”

In Aparthied Israel, only the Jews have the right to dream. One state, two states, inclusions, human rights, soft peace, hard peace, etc… are all nothing but dreams as well.

Israel will not give up an inch of land, inch of equality, nor an inch towards peace unless it is by force (not pressure), unfortunately.

History speaks for itself.

August 22nd, 2010, 12:29 pm


Shai said:


I used to think so too. Lately I’m beginning to question this. With each new Jewish home in the West Bank, we are getting farther away, not closer, to a two-state solution. What’s the point in trying to force a Banthustan between the river and the sea?


I wish Israelis were engaged more in “dreaming” (as you called it), about the future of this region, than in shaping it the way we are. But for the Palestinians to hope for the disappearance of millions of Jews was always as much a dream as it is today for certain Jews to dream of the disappearance of million of Palestinians. I don’t know what the Future has in store for Jews in the region, but the Past certainly already established that a Palestine was not created after the British left. The Jews had the upper hand, and formed the State of Israel.

While it will be difficult for most Israelis to accept 4 million new citizens into Israel, at the moment at least, it seems far more likely than creating two separate (feasible) states. If Israelis are interested in this option, why are we continuing to build in the West Bank? And if we’re not interested in this option, then we’ll have to choose between an Apartheid Israel, and a democratic one.

But like I mentioned above, I was also hoping for a two-state solution before a single-state one. I just don’t know if it’s any longer realistic.

August 22nd, 2010, 2:14 pm


norman said:

Shai ,
A one state will defy the reason to have Israel , If Israel is going to be a multi ethnic multi religious state then the US is a better dream land than Israel , Israel is created to be a sanctuary to the world Jewry therefore it has to start as two state then go into confederation of some kind , that does not mean that the settlers have to move they just have to pay taxes in the Palestinian state and abide with their laws which Israel should help draft , decentralization can help to let everybody rule themselves and as long as there are laws against discrimination in housing and employment , everybody should be happy to have their own home and a future for their kids , Israel can do alot to show the Palestinians that it cares by providing higher education and job training , especially to the people of Gaza who hear now only from Hamas .education in Israel will affect the way Palestinians think , as education in the US is an asset for the US ,

August 22nd, 2010, 2:54 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:


It should be quite apparent even to a blind person that the sudden interest in ONE STATE is nothing but a pretext by the Israelis to propagandize their claims of being a democracy and the Palestinians troublemakers for not agreeing to a one state solution.

If this was the true intent why not have started it back in 1950 0r 1960 0r 1967 or 1970,1980, 1990. ?

By acceding to this sham proposal the Palestinians ipso facto give up their claim to all the lands that have been taken from them, their rights to Jerusalem as a joint capital.

In short this is another continuation of Israel’s objective not to give up one centimeter of occupied territories.

Without belittling the principle and the importance of the equality of people one is reminded of the story of a Polish office during the late parts of WW II who after spending an evening with a working woman from the area around the Champs Elysee in Paris began to put on his uniform in the morning after and when asked by the Parisian woman to settle the price for the night responded that, “a Polish officer never accepts money for enjoying sex”.

THE UN created both Israel and a Palestinian state in 1948 its time the UN enforced the 2 Resolutions it as a world organization enacted. The decision to create a Palestinian State is as valid a the one creating Israel.

August 22nd, 2010, 4:40 pm


5 dancing shlomos said:

robert baer views iran through the israeli and israeli-american deception lens.

August 23rd, 2010, 1:36 pm


why-discuss said:

Iran, Syria sign free trade agreement

Iran has signed a draft agreement on free trade with Syria in a move which can boost the country’s economy in the face of Western sanctions.

The deputy commerce ministers of Iran and Syria inked the draft on Friday and a final agreement is expected to be signed by Iranian Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari and Syrian Economy and Trade Minister Lamia Assi.

The 23-article document applies to a wide variety of commodities in the fields of industry and agriculture, and is applicable to any product as along as 50 percent of it is produced in either country.

“This agreement can increase the 400-million-dollar volume of commercial exchange between the two countries to USD 2 billion,” IRNA quoted Ghazanfari as saying.

He added that the promotion of commercial relations with Syria will give Iran access to new markets, given the imposition of sanctions by the West against the country.

The Iranian minster said under the agreement, all existing tariffs would be reduced to four percent within a five-year period, adding that the deal does not interfere with the partnership of either side in economic cooperation with other states.

Meeting national standards, preserving genetic and historic repertoires, facilitating transit services and creating a joint committee are among the other issues included in the agreement.

The meeting between the Iranian and Syrian commerce and economy ministers in Tehran was also attended by Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.

August 24th, 2010, 5:42 pm


Norman said:

Shai ,

I agree with you that Netanyahu is probably the best chance to make peace , do you think that he has to make a deal with Kadima for a unity government so he will not be flanked by his extreme rights ,

August 29th, 2010, 9:02 am


Norman said:

Shai , Look at this ,

updated 13 minutes ago

JERUSALEM — An influential Israeli rabbi has
said God should strike the Palestinians and
their leader with a plague, calling for their
death in a fiery sermon before Middle East
peace talks set to begin next week.

“Abu Mazen and all these evil people should
perish from this earth,” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
spiritual head of the religious Shas party in
Israel’s government, said in a sermon late on
Saturday, using Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas’s popular name.

“God should strike them and these
Palestinians — evil haters of Israel — with a
advertisementadvertisement Yannis Behrakis / REUTERS A campaign poster depicting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual head of the religious Shas party, is seen on a public bus in Jerusalem in this March 21, 2006 file picture. The influential Israeli rabbi has said God should strike the Palestinians and their leader with a plague, calling for their death in a fiery sermon before Middle East peace talks set to begin next week. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis/Files Abbas and Palestinians should die: Israeli rabbi

plague,” the 89-year-old rabbi said in his
weekly address to the faithful, excerpts of
which were broadcast on Israeli radio on

The Iraqi-born cleric has made similar
remarks before, most notably in 2001, during
a Palestinian uprising, when he called for
Arabs’ annihilation and said it was forbidden
to be merciful to them.

He later said he was referring only to
“terrorists” who attacked Israelis. In the
1990s, Yosef broke with other Orthodox J
ewish leaders by voicing support for
territorial compromise with the Palestinians.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator,
said Yosef’s latest comments were tantamount
to calling for “genocide against Palestinians.”
The rabbi’s remarks, he said, were “an insult
to all our efforts to advance the negotiations

Arriving at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu’s office for a weekly cabinet
meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai of
Shas declined to comment when asked by
reporters about Yosef’s sermon.

Netananyu and Abbas are due to resume
direct peace talks in Washington on Thursday,
the first such negotiations in 20 months in a
peace process that commits both sides to
avoid incitement, which has included anti-
Jewish sermons by Palestinian clerics.

Copyright 2010 Reuters. Click for restrictions.


August 29th, 2010, 9:09 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Israel is what it is today due to what the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvai Lumi accomplished primarely by terrorizing several hundred thousand Palestinians into moving in Lebanon and ther adjoining states.

Sixty years later the Israelis still maintain their rule and dictates to their rights to the lands they have conquered as the principle defense against the Hamas and the Hezballah.(Syria, Iran).

Like they say in Ole Alabmma “what goes around eventually comes around again”.

Which makes one wonder if the Irgun Zvai Lumi, and the Stern Gang’s way of doing things is not an option for others to do the same?

August 29th, 2010, 12:14 pm


Shai said:


That’s a good question, but my gut feeling is that a deal with Kadima will not serve Peace well. The current government is plenty strong for Netanyahu to pass any deal. But he does have to convince his hawkish administration to support a withdrawal to the 1967 lines, including E. Jerusalem, and that won’t be easy. This is why I’m hoping certain Arab leaders will “help him” (and I’m not talking about Egypt, Jordan, of the PA). Kadima has already proven itself quite useless, except for starting wars, that is.

As for the “influential rabbi”, that is Ovadia Yosef, head of the Shas party. This isn’t the first time he comes out with these venomous racist comments against the Palestinians and Arabs. He has referred to them in the past as dogs, monkeys, you name it. He is a racist bigot, and deserves no place in our society.


You are absolutely right! Whenever my friends would say to me (especially back in the 90’s) “look at these terrorists…”, I would say back “well guess where they got their inspiration from?” We wrote the book on fighting a modern-day occupier, on justifying terror as a necessary means to achieving independence, and we have since long “forgotten” this chapter in our history.

August 29th, 2010, 2:31 pm


norman said:

shai ,
Do you really think that he can convince hi partners to go along , i really doubt that , then you know more about Israeli politics ,
i hope that you are right , make a deal with Syria in secret and Syria will invite Netanyahu to Syria , then things will role

August 29th, 2010, 3:08 pm


Shai said:


He first has to convince himself. If he’s ready to pay the price, we could have peace tomorrow morning. We’ll soon find out if he has the will, or the courage, to do so.

August 29th, 2010, 3:17 pm


Shai said:

I understand there’s fury in the U.S. over those who (incorrectly) think Obama is a Muslim. Most are really angry at these people. But are they angry for the right reasons? Reminds me of the McCain slip-up – “No, he’s a good family man…”

Is it because some dare call Obama a Muslim (God-forbid he should be a Muslim), or because to some it matters what religion Obama belongs to? Who cares if he’s a Christian, Muslim, Jew, or Shinto?

August 30th, 2010, 2:43 am


Post a comment