Skewed Balance of Power between Israel and Syrian Impedes Peace


Fred Deknatel in his article: Roadblocks to Damascus in the Nation does a wonderful job of exploring the politics around the Wall Street Journal’s recent first page article about Syria’s acquisition of a new radar defense from Iran. He quotes pundits on the left and right.

If the US is serious about wanting peace between Israel and Syria, it will have to allow Syria to improve its military. The terrible imbalance in power that exists today between Syria and Israel is an impediment to peace. So long as Israel can inflict the sort of damage on its enemies that it did in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 without paying much of a price, either militarily or politically, it will avoid the difficult choice of peace and returning the Golan. A stronger Syria and Lebanon would be good for peace.

One of Assad’s complaints that Deknatel brings out is that the US is not even handed or a useful broker because it sides with Israel. US diplomats who have been put in charge of the peace process in the past, such as Dennis Ross and David Miller, have argued that America’s bias in Israel’s favor has been good for peace.


For academic justification they turned to the work of Saadia Touval, who taught in Johns Hopkins University’s conflict management program, was a longtime dean at Tel Aviv University, and earlier a runner for the Hagganah. He propounded a theory of negotiated conflict management that favored Israelis and suggested that the US should not try to be an impartial broker. Here is an extract from his obit:

Starting in the 1970s, his work on “biased intermediaries” had an impact on prominent U.S. negotiators such as Aaron David Miller and Dennis Ross, who borrowed his ideas. Dr. Touval drew on concrete lessons from disputes in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans to assert that neutrality or impartiality were not as important as holding power.

Looking at the Middle East, he pointed out that Arabs viewed the United States as a reliable ally of Israel. This was not a problem, he wrote, because the Arabs knew that the Americans were in a better position to win concessions for them. It was considered a fresh concept when he first explored the topic in foreign policy journals and books such as “The Peace Brokers: Mediators in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1979” (1982).

Ross and Miller called Mr. Touval one of the more distinguished and helpful scholars in his field because of his vivid examples. “He came up with a reasonable and compelling look at theory for practitioners,” said Miller, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. “For a political scientist in a field just littered with jargon and unusable formulations and concepts, he came up with a very practical approach that was of great benefit to me.”

The unsubstantiated notion that Israel will only make peace when it is dominant power that can overcome its opponents combined goes back to Henry Kissinger. He helped push through the orders for the airlift of arms in 1973 against President Nixon’s instinct. He also stalled enforcing cease-fire orders in order to allow Israel additional time to destroy the Egyptian and Syrian armies.

But the proof that this argument has been a failure is in the US’ inability to broker peace. In 2000, when Assad flew to Geneva to sign a deal with Barak and Clinton, Barak decided to present a modified deal that he knew Assad would not take. Uri Saguy explained in his recently article on the “Missed Opportunity” with Syria that Barak wanted to cut off negotiations with his switch up on the deal. He didn’t believe that the Israeli public were ready to give up the Golan or that the political establishment would support it. The reason why they would not, one can only conclude, is because they believed that Israel could keep the Golan without paying a heavy price. Syria was too weak. Perhaps, Barak was correct. The price has not been high and the US is in part responsible for that. It failed to hold Israel’s feet to the fire politically and has helped to preserve its military hegemony.

Advert for Golan Settlement

Now, Netanyahu is promoting speedier settlement of the Golan Heights. See this excellent article, Unsettled, by Barbara Slavin in Foreign Policy. She received an email from the Jerusalem Post promising “Enhanced financial assistance for Aliyah to Israel’s North in 2010,” and up to $14,000 in cash and numerous other benefits for moving to the Golan.

Syrians have taken heart in the fact that Golan settlements have not been expanding as have West Bank settlements. They believed that this indicated that Israel might move toward peace and give it back. That is one straw of hope that can no longer be grasped.

Syrians believe that the Israeli government has neither the will nor the desire to engage Syria or to move toward peace. So long as Washington treats is relations with Syria as a subset of its relations with Israel, Israel has little to fear from Syria. Washington should engage Syria, improving relations where it can, without worrying whether Israel is please or not and without putting everything on hold every time there is news that Syria is acquiring a new radar system or improving its rocketry. By allowing US – Syria relations to expand independent of US-Isreal relations would send a message to Israel, that the US cannot put its Middle East policy on hold so long as Jerusalem refuses to make peace.

Syria is finding ways to strengthen itself despite Washington’s sanctions. Michael Jansen in his article, The rise of Syria, despite a US ban, describes this.

Of course, there are some in Washington who are genuine about engagement, such as Senator Kerry, but he is a lonely figure on the subject of engaging with Damascus and moving toward peace. Most US officials seem to have been overcome by paralysis on the Arab-Israeli issue, accepting the notion that the status-quo is livable even if it is not good for the US.

President Assad has promised to lead Syria into a major strategic realignment if Syria gets back the Golan Heights.  Hopefully, Obama will not sit on his hands as Israel ramps up settlements on the Golan.

New Round Up

WSJ [Reg]: Iran Arms Syria With Radar

JERUSALEM—Iran has sent Syria a sophisticated radar system that could threaten Israel’s ability to launch a surprise attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, say Israeli and U.S. officials, extending an alliance aimed at undermining Israel’s …

Argentina backs ‘return of Golan to Syria’, AFP

The presidents of Argentina and Syria Friday traded words of support for their respective territorial claims on Britain’s Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic, and the Golan Heights Israel annexed in 1967. The mutual back-patting came at the close of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s first tour of Latin America aimed at furthering friendly relations with Venezuela, Cuba, Brazil and – his last stop – Argentina, in the first visit here by a Syrian leader.

US-Iran dynamic: Why US effort to leverage Syria is flagging
Nicholas Blanford in CSM, 2010-07-02

In a bid to strengthen Washington’s hand in the US-Iran dynamic, President Obama has sought to woo Syria.  But as those efforts stall, Syria is drawing closer to Iranian-backed Hezbollah…. Far from loosening its ties to Hezbollah, … “This is the first time a [US-classified] state sponsor [of terrorism] has ever been essentially busted getting [Scud] ballistic missiles close to a terrorist organization,” says Andrew Tabler…. Although Obama seems committed to engaging Syria, the administration has been frustrated by what it considers the lack of positive response from Damascus. In particular, the US seems unable to persuade Syria to drop its support for militant anti-Israel groups such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian movement Hamas, also considered a terrorist group by the US and Europe…..

Nathan Brown critiques Washington’s plan to concentrate on building up Fayyad in Palestine.  “A Little Rain On the Palestine Parade

Qifa Nabki talks to Nick Noe about how to prevent the next Israel Lebanon war. He agrees with Noe.

Commentary: Syria Must Be Contained, Not Engaged
Michael J. Totten – 2010-07-01

Nibras Kazimi suggests in the pages of the New Republic that the Middle East’s violent Islamists might go after the Syrian government after they’re finished in Iraq and Afghanistan. “On jihadist online discussion forums,” he writes, “they have been authoring what amount to policy papers calling on the jihadist leadership to take the fight to Syria.”

It would make a certain amount of sense if they did decide Syria ought to be next. Most of the country’s leadership is from the Alawite minority sect, which branched off Twelver Shia Islam in the 10th century and became something else almost entirely. Both Sunnis and Shias have long considered them heretics. When French Mandate authorities ruled the area after World War One, many, if not most, Alawites yearned for their own sovereign homeland along the coast of the Mediterranean apart from Damascus and the largely Sunni interior…… “Islamists arguing for a jihad in Syria believe that they have hit the trifecta,” Kazimi writes. “In the Syrian regime, they have an enemy that is at once tyrannical, secular, and heretical.”….

If Assad were to work with the United States by promoting stability instead of terrorism, freelance jihadists all over the region would have every reason to bump him to the top of their to-do list. A secular non-Muslim Arab government at peace with Israel and the West and an enemy of the “resistance” movements would make an obvious next stop for roaming insurgents. That’s why Assad won’t likely ever do what Washington wants unless the region as a whole changes drastically or the United States threatens his survival more than the Islamists do. All we can really do in the meantime is try to contain him.

Maariv: Netanyahu to meet Obama, but not Clinton; ‘sources’ say she “isn’t relevant”
Didi Remez | July 1, 2010

Do they honestly think that publicizing a quote like this, on record or off, works to their advantage?
Israeli diplomatic [euphemism for Prime Minister’s Office — DR] sources said: “Clinton isn’t relevant and is out of the circle of influence. Mitchell has taken over the peace process to a great extent and Obama, in any event, is the important person in this story because he is the one who decides.”

Netanyahu to meet Obama, but not Clinton
Eli Bardenstein, Maariv, July 1 2010 [page 7; Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to leave next week for Washington, where he will meet with US President Barack Obama. Rather curiously, he is not scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the course of his visit to Washington.

Contrary to his previous visit in March, this time the US administration intends to create the impression, outwardly at least, that the severe crisis in the relationship has passed and that the relations between the two countries are as strong as ever. In order to bolster that impression, the two leaders will meet the media together and will be photographed. As opposed to the previous time, Netanyahu will also be put up at Blair House, the official White House guesthouse, and not at a hotel.
That said, officials in Washington are waiting apprehensively for the answers that Netanyahu will provide in the course of the meeting, which is expected to address the transition from the proximity talks that are at an impasse to direct negotiations. Obama, apparently, will demand that Netanyahu agree to extend the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria beyond the September 26 expiration date in hope of securing PA Chairman Abu Mazen’s consent to begin direct talks with Israel. For the time being, the forum of seven is divided over this issue.

Commentary: Iran Arms Syria

Obama’s efforts to engage Syria continue to produce evidence that Syria wants not to be engaged by us, but to move ever closer to the rising power in the region — Iran. This report explains: Iran has sent Syria a sophisticated radar system that …

How is this not Apartheid? – Andrew Sullivan

Toilet-trained Nick Kristof observes ethnic cleansing and collective punishment first-hand :

On one side of a barbed-wire fence here in the southern Hebron hills is the Bedouin village of Umm al-Kheir, where Palestinians live in ramshackle tents and huts. They aren’t allowed to connect to the electrical grid, and Israel won’t permit them to build homes, barns for their animals or even toilets. When the villagers build permanent structures, the Israeli authorities come and demolish them, according to villagers and Israeli human rights organizations.

On the other side of the barbed wire is the Jewish settlement of Karmel, a lovely green oasis that looks like an American suburb. It has lush gardens, kids riding bikes and air-conditioned homes. It also has a gleaming, electrified poultry barn that it runs as a business. Elad Orian, an Israeli human rights activist, nodded toward the poultry barn and noted: “Those chickens get more electricity and water than all the Palestinians around here.”

These Palestinian Arabs were subject to constant harassment and violence from the Jewish settlers nearby. Kristof adds every caveat – about security, about double-standards, etc. But I fail to see how this kind of governing system, brutally punishing people for being the wrong ethnicity and religion and using the apparatus of the state to impoverish and marginalize them, is somehow in a different moral zone than apartheid. Could a reader mount a case for a clear difference? I think even parts of Soweto were allowed to access the national grid.

And how is the US supposed to engage the moderate Muslim world to help defuse Islamism and Jihadism, if we are also partly financing this kind of brutal sectarian and ethnic discrimination against Muslims?

Iran sanctions ‘must not hit’ Russian trade
June 26, 2010

Russia’s co-operation with Europe in the Iranian nuclear standoff could be curbed if unilateral EU sanctions on Tehran hit Russian companies, a top envoy said yesterday…. Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, slammed decisions last week by the EU and US to impose sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector that go beyond new UN measures backed by Moscow.

“We do not support them. We think they are totally wrong in substance and in tactics,” Chizhov told reporters in Brussels.

“The sanctions contained in (UN Security Council) Resolution 1929 are clever sanctions, the follow-on measures by the European Union are not,” he said.
“If you want to dissuade Iran from pursuing a nuclear programme … then why the hell are you banning the supply of equipment for the oil and gas industry?” ….

POMED Wire: On Thursday (6/24), Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (H.R.2194). The bill passed unanimously in the Senate with a vote of 99-0, and 408-8 in the House. The final version of the bill can be found here in a pdf version. Josh Rogin writes that Congress is confident that President Obama will sign the bill into law, but some are worried about its implementation. NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi expressed his disappointment with the bill, characterizing its passage as a missed opportunity to support the Iranian people, and arguing that the shortcomings of the sanctions package are overwhelming and “will ultimately impose further pain on Iranians and do more damage than good.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday called a CIA report that Iran had sufficient uranium to build two bombs “worrying,”

“This information has to be checked, but such information is always worrying – and all the more so because the international community does not recognize the Iranian nuclear program as transparent,” Medvedev was quoted as saying at the G8 summit.

CIA Director Leon Panetta said Sunday that Iran probably has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons, but that it likely would take two years to build the bombs.

Panetta told ABC television’s This Week that he is doubtful that recent UN penalties will put an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

He said the penalties could help to weaken Teheran’s government by creating serious economic problems. But he added, “Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not.”

Jumblat’s Palestinian Rights’ Proposal Came Following Meeting with Assad

A proposal by MP Walid Jumblat to give Palestinian refugees in Lebanon their civil rights was reportedly discussed during a visit by the Druze leader to Syria.
Pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Monday, citing sources in Jumblat’s Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc, said the offer was discussed with Syrian President Bashar Assad during Jumblat’s first visit to Syria following a five-year hiatus.

Michael Totten: The Ghosts of Martyrs Square

The Ghosts of Martyrs Square Michael Young, opinion page editor at Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper and assistant editor at Reason magazine in the U.S., is one of the finest analysts of the modern Middle East working in English. He was born in …

It said Assad, at the time, urged Jumblat to act as assistant to Change and Reform Bloc leader Gen. Michel Aoun by carrying out direct contact with him or through his ally, Hizbullah.

The Damascus Exchange
August 1-15/Application deadline extended to July 4

Two slots remaining., in partnership with The Syria Report, is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for the first Damascus Exchange. The two-week program August 1-15 will engage students from around the world in a multifaceted discussion of some of the key issues facing Syria and the region. Topics will include: Economic reform challenges; The evolving relationship between Syria and Turkey; Syria’s role in the Middle East peace process; Arab nationalism; Hydro-politics in the Levant; and, Doing business in Syria: Barriers, opportunities and practices.

Jerusalem Post: Arab World: An oppressed, luckless, forgotten minority

On March 21, 2010, the Syrian security forces opened fire with live ammunition on a crowd of 5,000 in the northern Syrian town of al-Raqqah. The crowd had gathered to celebrate the Kurdish festival of Nowruz. Three people, including a 15-year-old …

Syrian Lawyer, 79, Sentenced to 3 years in Jail New York Times

Syria must reveal the truth about 2008 prison disappearances Amnesty International USA –

Comments (36)

almasri said:

… And how is the US supposed to engage the moderate Muslim world to help defuse Islamism and Jihadism, if we are also partly financing this kind of brutal sectarian and ethnic discrimination against Muslims?

By providing tax deductible contributions to newer outposts to be specifically erected in the WB:

”… HaYovel is one of many groups in the United States using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanence in the Israeli-occupied territories — effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.
The result is a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.
A New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade. The money goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law. But it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.
In some ways, American tax law is more lenient than Israel’s. The outposts receiving tax-deductible donations — distinct from established settlements financed by Israel’s government — are illegal under Israeli law. And a decade ago, Israel ended tax breaks for contributions to groups devoted exclusively to settlement-building in the West Bank.

The full story:

July 6th, 2010, 5:40 pm


husam said:

Perhaps the US has already realized that “A stronger Syria and Lebanon would be good for peace”. It is not without merit that the current Obama administration, while maintaining its excellent marriage to Israel, gave Turkey behind closed doors, the green light to change the balance power in the M.E through its alignment with Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

It is also possible that this move by the US was unilateral in order to achieve a much more important goal decades later; sort of like a skilful game of chess! The US cannot bring about change directly due to its up to the knee entrenchment with Israel, so Turkey became an excellent proxy to achieve this objective, since Turkey is the best candidate due to its strong position and status in the region.

July 6th, 2010, 9:45 pm


Norman said:

In the case of war and peace , the winning formula is not how many planes a party has as if that is the case The US would have won in Vietnam and the Russian in Afghanistan , It is not the party that has the most Tanks as if that is the case the German would have won against the Russians and the Americans in WWII , wars are won by the determination of the warring parties , In Vietnam the Vietnamese won against all odds , In Afghanistan the Afghans won against the most brutal Russian Army , and the Russians won against the almighty German Army in WWII , in the conflicts between the Arabs and the Israeli , the Arabs have not shown a resolve to fight and fight a long war that is needed and essential to Winn against Israel , what Syria needs is simple , low tech weapons they can make not buy , like AK 47, bullets , yes Bullets, Explosives and other weapons that are used in Iraq and Afghanistan , what Syria and the Syrian needs most is the perseverance to last a long war as that is the only to destroy the Israeli economy and with it the Israeli population who will be fast to leave if a war lasts few months and will all leave is it lasts years , the question is will the Syrian put up ,

Syria should prepare and prepare as war is the only way ,

July 6th, 2010, 10:12 pm


Norman said:

Do you think that this is possible ,

Philip Giraldi, a former respected CIA agent who specializes in the Middle-East and particularly Iran.
Very scary analysis!!!!
May God save the world

A Timetable For War
by Philip Giraldi, May 06, 2010

Readers of my articles will know that I am extremely pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the Middle East . I do not believe for a second that the leaders of Israel actually consider Iran to be an “existential” threat but the fact that they have cried wolf so often has convinced the Israeli public that it is so. Worse still, Israel ’s friends in the US have convinced the American public of the same thing even though Iran does not threaten the United States at all. Relying on a complaisant media that has fully embraced the fabricated narrative of fanatical Mullahs brandishing nuclear weapons shortly before handing them over to al-Qaeda, a majority of Americans now believes that Iran must be dealt with by force and that it already has a nuclear weapon. As in the case in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq , the fictitious threat has taken on an ominous reality because the lie has been repeated often enough to appear to be truth.
I believe several things must be understood in relationship to the likely formula for initiation of such a conflict.

First, in spite of the increasingly bellicose language coming from Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, I do not believe that the Obama Administration wants a war. On the contrary, I believe that the language is designed to convince Tel Aviv that the US is getting tough with Iran to preempt any possible military action. The principal advocates of war in the United States are not in the White House. They continue to belong to the Israeli lobby as given voice through its acolytes in Congress and the media.

Second, the Israeli government having sold the “existential threat” fiction does want a war, but its options are limited. It knows it can only do temporary damage to Iran and wants the United States to do the heavy lifting. That will require contriving a situation that will bring about US entry into the conflict, otherwise an Israeli attack will have only limited value, possibly slowing down Iran ’s nuclear program but not stopping it while also guaranteeing that the Mullahs will make the political decision to develop a weapon.

Third, Washington has no real ability to put pressure on Israel as the White House has already made clear that it will not cut aid to Tel Aviv and will continue to use its veto to protect Israel in international fora like the United Nations.

Fourth, once the shooting begins, even if Israel starts it, both Congress and the media will demand that Washington intervene to support brave little democracy Israel . One can be sure that on the day after Tel Aviv starts a conflict Congress will overwhelmingly pass a motion approving the Israeli action and also calling on the White House to have American forces join in. The Washington Post, FOX news, and The New York Times will be beside themselves with joy.

Putting the four premises together, what does it all mean? It means that Israel will seek to start a conflict with Iran and pull the United States in. It will ignore any US calls for restraint and will attack the Mullahs with or without a pretext, whether or not Iran remains in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime (which I believe it will), and whether or not Tehran does anything aggressive. In the lead-up to such an attack, Israel will intensify its propaganda efforts and is quite prepared to lie to make a case against Iran and its friends in the Middle East region.

The recent total fabrication of a case that Syria had given Scud missiles to Hezbollah is a case in point. Israel sees everyone in the region as an enemy or a potential enemy and it works very hard to make Washington see things the same way. Once the fighting starts, Washington will inevitably be drawn in with Congress and the mainstream media cheerleading the process.

So let us assume that Israel will attack Iran . After all, it is a win-win situation for them in that they will demonstrate once again to the Muslim world that they are not to be trifled with and will leave the serious fighting to the United States . I believe they will attack Iran by the shortest route, which is over Iraqi airspace. Iraqi airspace is controlled by the United States Air Force, which would undoubtedly be under orders not to shoot down the Israeli planes lest Obama find himself facing a furious AIPAC, Congress, and the press immediately thereafter. A shoot down order is just not possible given Congressional democrats’ fear of how Jewish political donors would react, not to mention the danger that the usual voices in the media would turn against the Obama administration on the eve of the midterm elections. Unless the Iranians were to react in an extremely restrained fashion, they would consider the US complicit in the attack due to the passage over Iraq and their retaliation would bring Washington into the war, which is precisely what Israel expects to happen.
The only joker in the deck for Israel is the possible unintended consequences. If the war were to go badly, with Iran, for example, using its Chinese supplied cruise missiles to sink a US aircraft carrier, the role of Israel in starting the conflict might well be challenged by many in the US, so many that even the media and Congress would have to take notice. But Israel probably considers that a remote possibility given the huge military advantage that the United States enjoys over Iran so they likely believe it to be it a risk worth taking. Also, one must consider that the hard right Israeli government of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is not necessarily a rational player that will weigh up all the pluses and minuses. Netanyahu is driven by racism, intellectual arrogance, and a belief that he can control events in the United States, all of which will be part of his decision making.

Which leads to the question of timing. There has been some talk in the media that Israel would likely “do something” by November. Why that date is being selected is not completely clear, but I believe it will be sooner and this is why: as noted above, the United States controls Iraqi airspace currently. But that control will be ceded to the Iraqi government in August when the US presence in Iraq is due to be reduced to a “garrison non-combatant” level of 60,000 soldiers and airmen. At that point, the US Air Force will no longer have autonomous authority to engage in Iraqi airspace, but the Iraqi government will be empowered to request US assistance to do so.

Imagine for a moment what it would do to US credibility in the Arab world if Baghdad were to ask the US to help defend its airspace against an Israeli incursion and the US were to refuse to do so. So I think the Israelis will make their move before August. They want to entangle the United States into fighting on their behalf but they will not necessarily want to humiliate Obama while doing so.

So what can Obama do to stop this? There has been some speculation that he might send a private emissary to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu with the message that the United States does not support an Israeli attack and that Washington will both denounce the action and not back Tel Aviv.

I believe that Obama has already told Netanyahu both privately and through diplomatic channels that the US opposes military action but the Israeli government no doubt regards such a warning as toothless, particularly as both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton have asserted that Israel has a right to make its own security decisions. Any move to punish or pressure the Israelis would be blocked by Congress, so the Obama warning can be brushed off. The only option that I believe would actually work is for Obama to go public preemptively on the issue and proclaim that there is no casus belli with Iran, that any Israeli attack will not be supported by the United States and that furthermore the United States will take the lead in condemning such an act in the United Nations and in all other appropriate international fora.

Is that likely to happen? I think not.

And that is precisely the reason why I think a new war in the Middle East is inevitable and will take place this year, probably by August.


Hotmail: Powerful Free email with security by Microsoft. Get it now.

July 6th, 2010, 10:42 pm


almasri said:


The AK-47 scenario is the best workable scenario that could achieve meaningful results, as supported by your historical evidence and should have been going on for decades, even at the cost that Damascus may come under Israeli fire. You’re right the Arabs did not show the resolve and that is why we are in this pit. Under this scenario, there would be no room for moderate half men, no Jihadis, high price for Zionists seeking the promised land, no settlements and most importantly no outsiders hijacking your own case. It is the trump card that forces everyone’s hand. That is why Hafiz was so shrewd to refuse to give in to Arafat’s control of the cause. But he failed to pick the AK-47. That, I do not understand.

Giraldi’s scenario is scary. His timing is even closer than many would expect. I thought things should wait until the Iron Dome is in place. But He still could be right. There were what seemed like pre-planned skirmishes with UNIFIL recently. The pre-planning seems to have been the work of UNIFIL itself insisting on conducting some provocative manoeuvres. The aim would have been to force withdrawal of UNIFIL and set the stage for war – same atmosphere as in 67. This also seems to coincide with the UN sanctions.

The attack on Iran may also take place from Azerbaijan. Israeli planes are already in Azeri fields. They arrived there after conducting training manoeuvres with Turkey just before the recent breakup which closed Turkish aerospace. The US is also in Azerbaijan. If an attack takes place from those quarters, it would be a joint attack. The US also sent new aircraft carrier to the gulf a week or so ago.


Realignment of Turkey was possible only after Ocalan was handed over to the Turkish government by the Syrians. This move was followed by another Syrian reconciliation with Turkey over Iskenderun. But it was neocon America which forced the Turks to look after their own interests. Turkey refused to open its aerospace to the US during the Iraq invasion because Turkey knew the fall of Iraq will open Pandoras box in the region leading to ethnic and sectarian fragmentation. So the realignment is in fact to protect Turkey’s eastern flank and Turkey’s integrity – a lesson the Turks learned over a period of hundreds of years.

Before AKP, Nejm Edin saw Turkey’s interests lying solely in the Muslim world. The military wouldn’t buy it and he wasn’t able to hold to power. AKP proposed the middle ground and seemed to have worked to every one’s advantage in Turkey.

There was a school of thought in the US promoting Turkey as the Islamic model to emulate in the Muslim world. This happened in the eighties out of fear of the spread of Khomeinism.

July 7th, 2010, 12:49 am


almasri said:

This is also related to your post Husam,

Two simultaneous events happened just today:

1) US commander in Iraq proposes UN force in northern Iraq to prevent ethnic conflict after US departs.

2) Turkish Minister of Interior sends strongly worded message to US and Baghdad: TIME FOR ACTION AGAINST KURDISH FIGHTERS.

July 7th, 2010, 1:38 am


Badr said:

Anyone who is itching for a war in the region, while enjoying the comfort and safety of the West is a hypocrite.

July 7th, 2010, 3:18 am


idit said:

I second Badr

July 7th, 2010, 7:11 am


Husam said:


I agree, but partially. Many of us are in the west due to circumstances of our parents, or destiny. Yes, we can individually choose to change that, but it is not that easy as we are cemented with life, family, and work; many of us are born here.

I think when our well being, when our families (in the other home) are under attack, and when our faith is assaulted, the brave will rise and put their differences aside.

The 60’s and 70’s war with Israel were different times than now. A war today escalating beyond one territory will bill bring catastrophic consequence not only to the Arabs but to Israel beyond imagination.

Norman: You are right, determination is key, but so is strategy and unification. No double plays and back stabbing that we are accustomed to in our region.

July 7th, 2010, 7:43 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


And what about the determination of the Jews?

If you think that “(the Israeli population) will be fast to leave if a war lasts few months”, then I’m sorry to tell you, that you (and most of SC Arab readers) have no idea about Israel, about Israelis or about the Israeli society.

July 7th, 2010, 8:03 am


norman said:

So far the Hebrew have had the upper hand in that regards but not tested in a long war , will see ,

July 7th, 2010, 8:42 am


norman said:

husam ,
Badr and idit just want Israel to continue the occupation and settling the land ,

July 7th, 2010, 9:00 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Is that so, Norman ?

1947-1949 War of Independence (‘Nakba’). The Jews lost some 6000 men and women, that is about 1% casualties of the Jewish population at that time.

March 1969 till Aug 1970 War of Attrition (Harb al Estenzaf). The Jews lost some 710 men and women.

I suppose that what you meant, is that Israel never experienced a long war, when rockets and missiles keep falling on Israeli cities.
Well, during the second Arab Intifada, for about 4 long years, Israelis suffered from continues stream of suicide bombers. In my eyes, a suicide bomber is more devastating than a rocket or a missile: it’s more accurate, much more deadly, it comes with no early-warning, and it spreads real terror.
Total casualties, around 1300 citizens and soldiers.

Jewish Israeli society survived all this.

You ask for more of the same? I believe that Israelis are ready for you.

July 7th, 2010, 10:26 am


alamsri said:

Badr, You think expatriates living in the West are itching for war?

What’s wrong with Norman’s point of view criticising Arab failures and shortcomings in retrospect?

Most of the expatriates are mere observers that may see things differently from where they are. They may also see clearer which party to the conflict is in fact itching for war. That is all.

Husam: you made it very clear.

July 7th, 2010, 10:28 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

A reality that no one seems to want to admit or face is that Israel and its neighbors have been at and are at the present in a non- active war.

The one state whose politicians admit to this reality is Israel. Its policies and actions are based on its logic that it is at war with its neighbors. Such a reality is either suspended or ignored completely by a number of its neighbors.

American foreign policy in the past five or six decades have both encouraged and abetted whatever policies and or actions the Israelis have taken.

Which leaves a rational and logical person to conclude that there is little if anything to be gained by Israel’s neighbors, to consider any policy or actions but their own and by what ever means they consider justified to fit their own reality.

Six decades of talking has not contributed one iota to a just peace for all. concerned.

July 7th, 2010, 12:22 pm


Husam said:


I think Badr and Idit have a point, if sh*t really hits the fan, will Arab expats, only if a couple of thousands, drop everything and go and fight back home? I think not. It is easier to call for war when you are not there?

I can tell you that all Israelis with dual citizenship will be the first to leave within 2 weeks if a “REAL” war breaks out. I am not talking Scuds, but crude korean/iranian missiles, troops, etc… The question is will Israel use its nuclear arsenal as a last resort? I will not be surprised Israel’s Nuclear Warheads are modified in such a way that the damage is constrained to 25kms radius, in order to minimize damage on its own people, but I am no expert.

Also, people don’t just pick up and go, Jews have been there for 70-80 years…some longer.

July 7th, 2010, 12:25 pm



Dear Norman

Amir is bringing up a good point. In the future Syria must be able to turn the tables on Israel in any war, if it is planning on winning the war.
Israel built and maintained a fighting force that was unmatched by the Syrian force. Yet that same Israeli force was bogged down by Huzballah’s tactics and strategy. Syria should be able to develop a winning strategy with its own tactics that will allow it to win the war. Had Syrian war plans included the possibility of being left alone in the battle in 1973 and that Egypt might stop at the Suez canal, then maybe the battle would have been waged differently by the Syrian forces.
Like you have said many times, Syria must prepare, as it has no choice but to fight to get the Jolan back, and check Israel’s hegemony and arrogance. Syria should be prepared that Israelis will not run, like Amir said, they will fight hard, especially when they feel that they are cornered. If Syria plans for all possible scenarios, and is well prepared to respond to changing contingencies in the middle of the battle, then we can expect that Israel will have no choice but be the subject of a new world reality.


No one is itching for war, not Syrian expats nor Syrians living in Syria. But Syria has a well known history with Israel and Syria better be well prepared for the next war. How many war-games did Israel practice so far this year that we know of? and was that because it is a national Israeli sport, or to prepare for the next war?

July 7th, 2010, 12:35 pm


Husam said:


Your points are valid, but do you think that the US is sleeping with Turkey behind closed doors while being married to Israel? Or, is it that the US is letting this happen on its own (like allowing terrorist to enter the US, support them indirectly for a bigger event 🙂 )?

From your comment, I understood that you think Turkey is acting on its own due to circumstances, events, and regional strategy rather than an understanding through the back door with the US.

July 7th, 2010, 12:37 pm


norman said:

you are going to love this ,

Published 01:42 07.07.10 Latest update 01:42 07.07.10 A responsible neighbor
First of all, by easing the blockade of Gaza after the flotilla incident, Israel admitted in retrospect that its previous policy was wrong. No international commission will justify the blockade after Netanyahu has renounced it.
By Aluf Benn My man of the week is Syrian President Bashar Assad. His call to calm the crisis in Israeli-Turkish relations seems like a serious attempt to cool the mutual invective between Ankara and Jerusalem. “If the relationship between Turkey and Israel is not renewed, it will be very difficult for Turkey to play a role in negotiations to revive the Middle East peace process,” Assad said on Monday in Spain. And he added that failure to mend these ties would “without doubt affect the stability in the region.”

Assad’s balanced position was a surprise. Instead of getting up and cursing Israel for its “aggression” against a Gaza-bound flotilla in May, he acted like a responsible neighbor by trying to calm the dispute. His remarks are being interpreted as a diplomatic warning to Turkey’s leaders: If you continue quarreling with Israel, you will lose your influence and encourage the extremists who undermine stability. Cool it.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, have turned out to be talented diplomats. The flotilla that set out for the Gaza Strip under their aegis resulted in the easing of Israel’s blockade on Gaza. And Davutoglu’s recent meeting with Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer did more to undermine the unity of Israel’s governing coalition than any other incident to date. Even U.S. President Barack Obama, for all his efforts, was unable to so threaten the stability of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule.

But the Turks are not resting on their laurels. They are presenting the discord with Israel as an issue of national honor. They demand that Israel apologize for the killing of Turkish civilians during its boarding of the Mavi Marmara, or alternatively, that Israel allow itself to be investigated by an international commission and pledge to accept its conclusions. Otherwise, Ankara will cut its ties with Israel. Netanyahu, however, has made it clear that Israel will not apologize “for our soldiers being forced to defend themselves.”

The moment the run-in becomes an issue of honor, it is difficult to find a solution. How can one compromise on national honor and look like a dishrag to the rest of the world? And Turkey’s alternative demand, that Israel agree to an international probe, is less humiliating than the demand for an apology, but still very problematic.

First of all, by easing the blockade of Gaza after the flotilla incident, Israel admitted in retrospect that its previous policy was wrong. No international commission will justify the blockade after Netanyahu has renounced it. Second, there is no “objective” commission. An international commission headed by Alan Dershowitz will rule completely differently than a commission headed by Richard Goldstone, even if they are shown the same evidence.

Clearly, the third option, cutting off ties, would be very bad for Israel, and Netanyahu must make every effort to prevent it. He seems to understand this, and therefore dispatched Ben-Eliezer to meet with the Turkish foreign minister. But the meeting was fruitless.

There is another way out of the entanglement: Move the disagreement from the field of honor to the field of interests, and thereby give both sides an opportunity to emerge from the corner into which they have painted themselves. This is where Assad comes in.

The Israeli establishment, which admired Assad senior, tends to disparage his son and depict him as a confused, bumbling child. But that is foolishness and conceit. In his 10 years in power, Bashar Assad has maintained Syria’s internal stability and secular character, retaken control of Lebanon and nurtured Hezbollah as a strategic deterrent against Israel. That is quite a bit.

Assad’s decision not to respond to the 2007 bombing of the nuclear reactor he built in the desert shows that he is a rational and restrained leader. It is not hard to imagine how Israel would respond to an attack on a military base in its territory: with strategic bombing, all-out war and anxieties about holocaust and destruction. Assad showed that sometimes, it is better to sit quietly. The bombing may have destroyed the reactor, but Syria’s strategic standing in the region has only grown stronger since then.

After the attack on the reactor, in which Israel once again violated Turkish sovereignty, former prime minister Ehud Olmert was quick to renew talks with Syria, mediated by Erdogan and Davutoglu. The Turks restrained themselves over the flight across their airspace and set to work to lead a diplomatic effort that calmed tension in the north.

Now, Assad is proposing the same deal, in the opposite direction: Let’s renew talks on the Syrian channel and give the Turks and Israelis something important to deal with instead of mutual recriminations over the flotilla. Instead of competing over who has more honor, it would be better to work to improve the region’s situation.

Erdogan and Netanyahu should listen to their responsible neighbor. They might discover that the road from Ankara to Jerusalem can also run through Damascus.

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Aluf Benn

July 7th, 2010, 12:52 pm


Ghat Al Bird said:

To quote NORMAN some will really love this.

The war Israel can’t win

by Paul Woodward on July 6, 2010

Historian Thaddeus Russell writes:

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House Tuesday, President Obama will have the chance to be the first American president since the founding of Israel to ask The Question.

The Question is never addressed by Israel’s supporters and rarely raised by Israel’s detractors. But for those of us who are taxpayers in a nation that has been the state of Israel’s chief benefactor for 42 years — or those of us with Jewish ancestry — it is becoming the only question to ask. It is simple, self-interested, and fundamental: Does the existence of Israel make Americans and Jews safer?

And here is the paradox: Though support for Israel among Americans, and especially Jewish Americans, remains high according to recent Gallup polls, historical evidence says the answer to The Question is “no.”
“There was not a single act of Arab terrorism against Americans before 1968, when the U.S. became the chief supplier of military equipment and economic aid to Israel.”

The history of Israel and its relationship with the U.S. is infinitely complex, but there’s one damning fact that’s ignored as often as The Question: There was not a single act of Arab terrorism against Americans before 1968, when the U.S. became the chief supplier of military equipment and economic aid to Israel. In light of this fact, it’s difficult to credibly sustain the argument that Arab terrorism is spawned by Islam’s alleged promotion of violence and antipathy toward American culture or by a “natural” Arab anti-Semitism. It also suggests that no matter what policies Israel enacts to protect itself — even a withdrawal from the occupied territories or a two-state “solution” — it must be a perpetual wartime state.

Very few Americans today are aware that the question of American and Jewish self-interest was first raised at the time of Israel’s founding by officials in the highest levels of the U.S. government. In 1948, several members of Harry Truman’s Cabinet predicted that the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East would spur Arab violence against Jews and Americans, advising the president to shun Israel.

These included Secretary of State George Marshall, Defense Secretary James Forrestal, and George Kennan, then the leading policy strategist in the State Department. They argued that if the United States helped to set up an independent Jewish nation it would provoke terrorist attacks on Americans and inaugurate an endless war between Arabs and Jews. “There are 30 million Arabs on one side and about 600,000 Jews on the other,” Forrestal told those in the administration who favored recognizing Israel. “Why don’t you face up to the realities?”

Israel apologists will plead that Thaddeus Russell’s commentary is one more instance among international efforts — rapidly gaining steam — to delegitimize Israel.

Strangely, in response to what is perceived as a campaign of degitimization, there is, as far as I’ve seen, no Israel legitimization campaign. Those mounting a defense, do nothing more than attack their critics — and usually do so with an unbridled viscousness.

For instance, Robin Shepherd, writing in the Jerusalem Post about a decision last week by the Methodist Church of Britain to launch a boycott against goods emanating from settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, says:

Overall, a church that behaves in the manner of the Methodists has buried its credibility under a gigantic dunghill of intransigence, pedantry, lies and distortions.

But let us not allow this matter to rest with a mere recognition of whom and what they have chosen to become.

If the Methodist Church is to launch a boycott of Israel, let Israel respond in kind: Ban their officials from entering; deport their missionaries; block their funds; close down their offices; and tax their churches.

If it’s war, it’s war. The aggressor must pay a price.

While it’s often said that attack is the best form of defense, that principle does not hold in the art of persuasion (and rarely for that matter in national security). The ranks cheering an attack such as Shepherd’s are small and shrinking.

Indeed, the more venomous Israel and its supporters become, the less sympathy the Jewish state will evoke and the closer we will move to a critical juncture: where the world has given up on Israel and Israel has given up on the world. At that point, Israel’s isolation becomes the world’s nuclear peril.

July 7th, 2010, 1:45 pm


almasri said:


“Your points are valid, but do you think that the US is sleeping with Turkey behind closed doors while being married to Israel? Or, is it that the US is letting this happen on its own (like allowing terrorist to enter the US, support them indirectly for a bigger event )? “

I still maintain that the realignment causes were dictated by reasons I outlined in 5 above. I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting “the US is sleeping with Turkey behind closed doors while being married to Israel”. This suggestion falls under the category of conspiracy theories that we Arabs are so fond of because our rulers are dictators.

After the realignment, which could be traced to at least 2001, the rest is realpolitiks. In this case America’s role depends on who is running the White House. The neocons would go as far as endorsing the creation of the so-called Nortehrn Tier” in order to counteract it by another supposed “Southern Tier” consisting of Egypt, KSA and behind the scene Israel. Please note that I phrased it as supposed Southern Tier. This will create the necessary polarization that would serve the neocons strategy according to the well known colonialist rule of “divide and conquer”. After the fall of communism, the neocons immediately replaced Islam as the next target to create world polarization because they know they cannot survive without such polarization. If this were to happen, the proper approach is for the Northern Tier to act in a way to absorb the so-called southern tier out of the American orbit based on public pressures and ideologies that are naturally aligned to the “Northern Tier” and opposed to Zionism and neocon-controlled America.

If the White House is ruled by sanity then your scenario would be applicable but there is no need for a behind the doors agendas in this case.


July 7th, 2010, 2:48 pm


Husam said:

Ghat Al Bird:

I haven’t seen you for a while, welcome back.

So long as the media is conrolled by Jewish Americans, so long as Washingtion is corrupt, yes corrupt, so long as the vote is a fraud (Google: Diebold voting machines fraud), so long as the “precieved threat of Islam”… “they’re coming to get us” :)… America will continue to bleed for Israel.

July 7th, 2010, 3:20 pm


t_desco said:

Hello all, I hope you are well. 🙂 I am not so well, so I will be brief, but I thought that this is very interesting news:

“Death sought for three in failed Lebanon assassination

BEIRUT — A Lebanese military court on Wednesday sought the death penalty for three Palestinians fugitives over the attempted murder of the police intelligence bureau chief, the National News Agency reported.

“Prosecutor Fadi Sawwan is seeking to put Fadi Zeidan, Abdel Nasser al-Duwali and Oussama Shehabi on death row for a 2006 terrorist attack that aimed to kill Lieutenant Colonel Samir Shehadeh,” the head of police intelligence at the time, the state-run agency reported. (…)”

At the time of the assassination attempt Colonel Shehadeh was involved in the Hariri investigation.

The link between Oussama Shehabi and Badih Hamadeh (cf. “Who Killed Hariri? The Simplest Theory”) is surprisingly direct:

“Palestinians ready strike force to seize militant wanted in Lebanon
by Mountasser Abdallah
AIN HELWEH, Lebanon, July 15 (2002; t_d) (AFP)
The document was later approved by about 300 camp leaders who also met during the night, Palestinian sources said. It called for a systematic search of all suspected hideouts in the camp and  warned Shreidi, who heads the Islamist grouping Osbat al-Nour, and his deputy Osama Shahabi to hand over Hamade “as soon as possible, or face arrest warrants themselves.”

The factions in the camp issued a 24-hour ultimatum for Shreidi to surrender Hamade, and the Palestinian groups formed a seven-member committee to supervise the operation.”

Very interesting, as I said. However, regarding the STL, I fully expect the assassination to be blamed on Iran, but perhaps that is just my cynicism…

July 7th, 2010, 4:07 pm


Hassan said:

Octavia Nasr’s cheerleading for Hizballah’s leading cleric has just cost her her job. CNN made the right decision here. Perhaps she should keep her terrorist leanings to herself rather than compromise the credibility of her employer. In any case, she displayed poor judgement, but what Hezbollah supporter doesn’t?

Good job CNN for cleaning house.

July 7th, 2010, 4:55 pm



I know of many people who stopped watching CNN since the 2006 war waged by Israel against Huzballah and Lebanon. Many Arab Americans thought that the CNN coverage was very biased towards Israel during that war. The main CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was an AIPAC employee/activist prior to working for CNN. His bias is obvious. If CNN were to clean house, it better start with the zionists and zionist cheerleaders on its roll.
But that is maybe why Al-Jazeerah, both Arabic and English, is gaining such a wider influence and audience every year.

July 7th, 2010, 5:33 pm


Hassan said:


Given recent events it is hard to believe that CNN is biased in favor of Israel. After all, their Middle East editor expresses that she is “sad” that Fadlallah has died. She believes that he is “one of Hezbollah’s giants.” That doesn’t sound like someone who is biased in favor of Israel. But if you want to keep parroting that line go ahead.

July 7th, 2010, 5:47 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Easy Question NewZ

It is simple, self-interested, and fundamental: Does the existence of Israel make Americans and Jews safer?

Speaking for Israel (I’m not Israeli): Yes.

Speaking as an American: Yes

If Israel were not around, Americans would be in deeper “do-do” than they are now. I can only imagine how US forces would have kicked Iraq out of Kuwait if Saddam had the Osirak nuclear facility up and running for over 10 years.

The main CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer was an AIPAC employee/activist prior to working for CNN.


For objective news, I would stick to al-Jazeera, or WAFA.

July 7th, 2010, 6:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Zionist-Controlled Media NewZ

CNN Editor fired for her “respect” for Hezbo cleric:

Whoops…I see Hassan already reported on this…

July 7th, 2010, 7:16 pm


Hassan said:

Akbar Palace:

Its nice to see that in America at least cheerleading for terrorist leaders is not acceptable. Fadlallah supported Hezbollah in its killings of many people. The group turned its guns against its own people and drew Lebanon into a war with Israel in 2006. He is also famous for his support of terrorism against Israel. The fact that she would express her “respect” for him and expect to keep her job is baffling.

July 7th, 2010, 7:27 pm


jad said:

Firing Octavia Nasr for saying what she said is another prove for you cheerleader ladies (Hassan, Akbar and their ilk) that the American propaganda regarding freedom of speech they talk about day in day out is actually nothing but a mirage. Keep dancing!
What a sad and miserable state your Zionist friends lead the US to.

Can SC go back to write about our religions at least we didn’t have those clowns around, it was SOOO good 🙂

July 7th, 2010, 7:49 pm


Husam said:

It looks like the stern gang are back with more of the same B.S. newZ.

July 7th, 2010, 7:59 pm


Norman said:

Israel won many battles and might win some more but the story on how the war will end is still is not written ,

Israel can win many battles and call them wars to improve the moral of it’s people but will never win the war if the Arabs don’t let it ,the only way Israel can win the war is for the Arabs to give up or for Israel to reach an agreement before too late and I doubt that the Arabs will give up or that Israel will get smart enough to achieve peace before too late ,

July 7th, 2010, 9:20 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Glad Night for R.E.S.P.E.C.T


Yes, the US has not quite Islamized like the UK and Europe, so we can still formulate (objectively) which TV announcers support terrorists and which do not.

Buh bye Octavia…

July 7th, 2010, 11:11 pm


almasri said:

Norman @32,

You may have company,

“Israel has never lacked enemies but now it risks losing its friends
Netanyahu went into his meeting with Obama believing he has time on his side. But he’s wrong: the clock is ticking

o Jonathan Freedland
o, Tuesday 6 July 2010 21.06 BST
o Article history
The advance word was that this was to be a “holding meeting” and not much more. Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu would not launch some grand initiative for the Middle East. Instead they would sit together, chat chummily and pose for photographers – particularly important given what happened a couple of months back, when an angry Obama kept Bibi waiting for hours in the West Wing, only to cut their meeting short without so much as posing for a souvenir snap.
Accordingly, today’s summit was all warm hugs and making nice. Obama spoke of the “special bond” between the two nations – even if there did have to be the occasional “robust discussion”. Bibi nodded, adding that disagreements were what you got in a close “family” relationship like this one. Reports of any strain between them were “flat wrong”, and to prove it Bibi invited the Obamas to Israel; Michelle showed Sara round the White House; and reporters were kept waiting during a long Bibi-Obama lunch, surely proof that the two men just couldn’t get enough of each other.
For all that, the advance billing of a holding meeting was not so far off the mark. The US president was certainly in no rush to make waves: he is four months away from midterm elections, in which support for Israel threatens to become an issue, at least in the handful of states where Jewish voters might make a difference. In several congressional contests Republicans are making mischief over the administration’s recent relative firmness towards Israel, with one candidate accusing Obama of “browbeating” the Jewish state, while others suggest the Democratic administration is fraying the historic ties that have bound the two countries. Small wonder, then, that Obama was and remains keen to be all smiles with Bibi – at least until polling day on 2 November.
The Israeli PM does not face imminent elections, but he too has been happy to go along with a strategy of pause and delay. For Netanyahu inaction is always preferable to action: only a demand for tricky concessions – say an extension of the current, partial moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank – might imperil his fragile coalition, by prompting the ultra-hawkish parties to bolt. So long as the Americans are not asking anything of him, Bibi can stay comfortably in his seat.
There is a larger explanation for why the prime minister might be fond of stasis and inertia. The operating assumption held by both him and the nationalist right he leads is that Israel has time on its side. This is a belief deeply ingrained, one that draws sustenance from a century of Zionist history. The first Jewish settlers in Palestine pushed the boundaries of the possible, establishing themselves in places that initially seemed insanely ambitious, only for time to reward their daring. The Jews accepted a UN partition plan in 1947 that gave them 56% of Palestine, only to see their share leap to 78% by the end of the war of 1948-9. Playing the long game has worked before and, the Israeli right assumes, it will work again.
You can see why Bibi would be drawn to such thinking. Each day that passes entrenches the Israeli presence in the West Bank. Consider that there were no Jewish settlers in 1967, around 120,000 in 1994 and more than 300,000 now – those numbers alone, which exclude East Jerusalem, constitute a powerful argument for playing it long, letting time change the facts on the ground until they are unalterable.
Besides, what’s the urgency? The Israeli economy is ticking along nicely, defying the global trends; the beachside cafes are full; Tel Aviv is even becoming the hot destination for gay tourism. Why risk change when the status quo is so tolerable?
And yet the underlying assumption is almost certainly wrong. Israel does not have time on its side. On the contrary, time is running out fast.
Israel is surrounded by evidence that it is, in the words of one Ha’aretz columnist, The Gaza flotilla episode exposed that fact most starkly, as Israel found itself isolated diplomatically, chastised by those it normally relies on as friends.
First among those has always been the US. Israel has long been able to depend on rock-solid support from a Washington that saw merit in a loyal, semi-dependent state in a region that was unreliable at best and hostile at worst. But now that calculus has been shaken. Note the 54 Congressmen who issued a statement rebuking Israel over the flotilla. Note the paper by Anthony Cordesman, a fixture of the US foreign policy establishment, asking if Israel has become a for America. Note too the comments of David Petraeus, now Nato commander in Afghanistan, warning that Israeli intransigence was adversely affecting US interests in the Middle East. This adds up to a new climate of opinion in which Obama can afford to be firm with Netanyahu because he knows he is not alone.
The second source of previously iron support has been the mainstream Jewish diaspora, especially in the US. For decades, the official voices of American Jewry have uttered only words of unity and support; criticism was confined to the fringes. But now that too is changing.
The institutional manifestation has been J Street, which in three short years has signed up some 100,000 supporters for its alternative to the dogmatic Israel-right-or-wrong stance of American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A key recent text is an essay by Peter Beinart that appeared in the New York Review of Books, castigating the US Jewish leadership for failing to condemn the ever-rightward drift of Israeli policy.
Of course there is nothing new about Jewish opponents of Israel: they are older than the country itself. But what makes these interventions different is that they come from those who are avowedly Israel’s friends. J Street’s slogan is that it is “pro-Israel, pro-peace”; Beinart is a former editor of the staunchly Zionist New Republic.
There are echoes outside the United States, too. In Europe, JCall, an online petition, has rapidly attracted the signatures of those who have previously devoted themselves to public defences of Israel, including the French glamour-intellectuals Bernard-Henri Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut. Even the head of Britain’s biggest pro-Israel charity last month insisted on the right of diaspora Jews to speak out, and bemoaned the lack of a peace strategy from the Israeli government.
It is this that should shatter any Israeli complacency. For these are stirrings from deep within the pro-Zionist mainstream. They cannot be dismissed as the words of implacable enemies of Israel or the Jews; they are palpably nothing of the sort. Nor can they be ignored. Beinart’s essay began with survey evidence showing young American-Jewish youth alienated and remote from Israel, with many expressing “a near-total absence of positive feelings”. That sentence should strike fear into all those looking to Israel’s long-term future.
Until now, the chief long-range concern of the Israeli right was demographic, the fear that eventually Israel would rule over more Arabs than Jews, given the combined populations of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Now they have another concern: “delegitimisation”, what they perceive as a global campaign to ostracise, or boycott, Israel, until it is banished from the family of nations. It is undeniable that Israel has bitter enemies. But the longer the occupation endures, the more Israel risks losing its friends. Netanyahu has to realise that Israel does not have time on its side: it needs to end this conflict – and with the utmost urgency.”

July 8th, 2010, 12:27 am


Innocent Criminal said:

this is big(ish) news, Gorillaz are playing in Damascus in a couple of weeks

July 8th, 2010, 7:39 am


almasri said:

RE: Octavia Nassr’s dismaissal and her boss Parisa Khosravi.

“”We believe that her credibility in her position as senior editor for Middle Eastern affairs has been compromised going forward,” Nasr’s CNN superior Parisa Khosravi said in a statement.”

“Parisa Khosravi: Senior Vice President and Managing Editor, International Newsgathering
When Parisa Khosravi started at CNN in 1987, she says she needed the experience more than the money. “As an Iranian who left Iran just before the revolution, news was a big part of my life,” she says.”

Khosravi may have some personal grudges against the Iranian revolution from her own personal life. She probably doesn’t know Sayyid Fadlallah does not abide by the authority of the Supreme Leader.

As a vice President, she can use CNN to settle personal grudges.

Slowly but surely CNN would lose popularity and AlJazeera would steal the show. No wonder the US declared AlJazeera recently an enemy of the US. They want you to switch to biased reporting.

July 8th, 2010, 12:56 pm


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