"Syria and the Peace Process" by Landis - Syria Comment

“Syria and the Peace Process” by Landis

"Lots of blood was left on the floor" following debates in Washington over whether Syria should be invited to the Maryland Peace Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. That was how a Washington insider described the heated Washington battle over Syrian participation in the peace process to me while I was in NYC.

This battle between neocons (Cheney's people) and realists (the State Dept.), which has been raging ever since Washington placed Syria in diplomatic quarantine, was won by the realists. Syria is being invited to Maryland.

The big question is under what terms. Will Syria find the invitation interesting enough to say, "Yes?"

So far Syria is keeping its cards very close to its chest as it explores exactly what the invitation means. At first Syrian officials said that they would not accept an invitation to participate in the negotiations if Syria was merely going to be used for a photo opportunity to legitimize the humiliation of the Palestinians and sidelining of Hamas. Syria fears that it will be giving away its Hamas card for nothing in return.

Also, Syria is very mistrustful of the Bush administration. It has learned this mistrust the hard way. In May 2007, Walid Muallem was invited to Sharm al-Shaykh to talk with Secretary Rice. She assured Syria that relations could get back on track if Syria helped with Palestine and other things. Syria played a positive role in Palestine, helping to broker the Hamas-PLO government with Saudi. A week after the Sharm al-Shaykh meeting, President Bush renewed sanctions on Syria and added more. Rice was made to look like a donkey by the neocons who undermined State's entire policy. Bashar learned not to trust the realists. 

The French and British have been sending high level envoys to get Bashar to make concessions in Lebanon and promising all sorts of goodies if he does. The problem is that Washington must deliver these goodies and few people believe that Washington policy is functional or that there is one boss in Washington. Factionalism has run wild. I have described the factionalism in cartoon style as being Cheney versus Rice, but it is more complicated and Byzantine. This is because everyone is getting into the foreign policy business right now as the Senate and House Foreign Policy hearings demonstrate.

"We want to keep the door open to Syria," is how the effort to get Syria invited was described to me. But why keep the door to Syria open? In order to fool Syria into playing nice while Washington and Israel reward the PLO in the West Bank for good behavior and punish Hamas? Is this a bate-and-switch exercise that Washington strategists are so good at? Or, is it the beginning of real negotiations between Israel and Syria? Is the US prepared to begin dropping sanctions on Syria and normalizing relations? Is it prepared to help Syria get back the Golan Heights? After all, the only basis for a permanent end to fighting along Israel's northern border is a return of the Golan. Anything short of the Golan will be a bandaid. It will only be a temporary fix to the Hizbullah problem and Syrian support for Palestinian proxies in its efforts to hurt Israel.

Most Syrians have long since come to terms with Israel's existence. They want peace and normalcy in the region. They are tired of war, emergency rule, and bad relations with the West. But they do want the Golan back. Any effort by the US or Israel to squeeze concessions from Syria without returning the Golan in full will only fail in the long term.

Syria must decide whether it wants to play Washington factional politics with no guarantees that President Bush is prepared to make the concessions that his policy makers promise. Syria is delving into murky waters at a time when Washington may not be a reliable partner in peace and the government may be too weak to deliver. This is ironic. "Lack of reliability" is usually the reason given by Washington not to engage with Middle Eastern partners.

[Here are a few news clips that have bearing on the analysis offered above.]

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has renewed his secret peace overtures to Syrian President Bashar Assad, telling him Israel is willing to return the captured Golan Heights if Damascus severs its ties with Iran and militant groups, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Olmert hinted in a briefing to an influential parliamentary committee Monday that he was holding secret contacts with Syria. In response to a lawmaker's question on the subject, Olmert responded, "I don't have to tell you about everything that I do."

Yediot also said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has asked reserves Maj. Gen. Uri Saguy, a former chief of military intelligence, to review Israel's most sensitive intelligence reports and formulate recommendations for Barak about the prospect of renewing peace talks with Syria.

On Monday, Olmert told parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he was "ready for peace with Syria and prepared to conduct negotiations with no preconditions — on condition they (the Syrians) abandon the 'axis of evil' and don't support terror," according to participants in the meeting.

Olmert was replying to a question by lawmaker Ran Cohen on whether Olmert was talking to Syria. On Tuesday, Cohen said Olmert gave the clear impression contacts with Syria were already under way.

"This is his first hint that he is holding some sort of negotiations with Syria," Cohen said. "It was fairly clear to everyone sitting there that he is doing something and not saying anything about it."

Olmert added that the United States did not oppose the possibility of Israel's fully resuming talks with Damascus, Cohen said.

Barak reportedly does not believe Israel has a chance of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians because he considers Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas too weak. (AP)

Barak for Syrian participation in Peace Talks

HERZLIYA, Israel, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that Syria's participation in the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference later this month could be a positive progress and lead to the renewal of peace talks.

Barak made the comments during an International Institute for Counter-Terrorism forum at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Tuesday.

He, however, urged that Syria's attendance at the peace summit "needs to be based on the premise that the Syrians recognize the main topic for discussion is the Palestinian issue."

Syria has said it wouldn't attend the gathering in Annapolis, Maryland, unless the meeting would also discuss the issue of the Golan Heights, which was captured by Israel from Syria in 1967.

Syrian Assistant Secretary General of the Syrian Baath Party Abdullah al-Ahmar said on Monday that Damascus was still waiting to see if the conference's agendas include the issues of Palestinian territories as well as the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms.

Senator Hagel on the Peace Process: (Nov. 8 at Center for Strategic and International Studies) 

To succeed, President Bush must become actively invested in the negotiations. In the Middle East, Hamas cannot be simply ignored like before. We must not pursue again a policy premised on an illusory hope that Hamas will collapse through isolation. Nor can Syria be excluded. Serious focus must be given to the "Israel-Syria" track, as part of any peace process.

Comments (60)


Akbar Palace said:

The “Co-director, Centre of Peace Studies University of Oklahoma” describes the Syrian government line for the uneducated observer (those with no common sense):

Rice was made to look like a donkey by the neocons who undermined State’s entire policy. Bashar learned not to trust the realists.

Dear Professor Josh,

The US State department inherently resembles a donkey becasue they have the unfortunate task of squeezing negotiations from the depots and terror-supporting regimes of the world. North Korea may be an exception – it is still wait-and-see.

The US State Department has a long and embarrassing history of looking like a donkey; there probably isn’t enough disk space on your server to describe it all! Most of this history is due to American’s insistence in negotiating with thugs like Arafat, Assad (1 and 2), Saddam, and the like.

The only time they look like something else other than a doneky is when they let the US military do the talking.

Of course, thank you for your explaination of the Syrian government point-of-view. Many of us do not read Arabic and so there’s really no way else to understand what the esteemed government of Syria really wants. I know it is all about peace, the Golan, and co-existence….

November 13th, 2007, 4:51 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear Bashmann, I am answering your question on the previous post here.

Thanks for the counter-argument to engaging Syria. We have heard the argument for regime-change in Damascus frequently. This anonymous article you post claims that Arabs will begin to like America if it helps to change Syria’s regime. Isn’t this the same argument that got us into Iraq? Arabs hate us much more now.

Arab liberals have failed in Iraq. Convince me that they will win in Syria.

You want the US to isolate Syria and assist Israel to keep the Golan until Syria becomes democratic. This strikes me as tantamount to helping Israel acquire the Golan for good. Why not encourage the US to help Syria get the Golan back and continue working for democracy and liberalism in Syria? Wouldn’t such an agenda be better for a Syrian reform party? Isn’t democracy more likely to work in a Syria that is not at war with Israel and does not have an irridentist problem with its neighbors?

You do not explain why Syria supports Hizbullah and Hamas if it is not to pressure Israel for the Golan. I presume you believe it supports these “resistance” groups because it is Baathist and evil and will do so whether it gets the Golan back or not. I do not find this argument convincing.

How will a democratic Syria win the Golan back from Israel if it does not pressure it militarily? Are you convinced that Israel’s settlers will agree to leave the Golan once Syria has real elections?

November 13th, 2007, 5:00 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Joshua said:

“Arab liberals have failed in Iraq. Convince me that they will win in Syria.”

Gee, isn’t it a little difficult to be a successful liberal in countries like (pre war) Iraq or Syria, when you have a dictator running the country and when the Mukhabarat can arrest you at any given time?

It’s not a coincidence that these liberals didn’t manage to impress you, right Josh?

Now, if the US and Israel will do business with a tyrant like Assad, will it give a boost to Syrian liberals or will it actually be their Requiem?

How will Syrian liberals be able to evolve, make their mark and lead Syria to democracy if you strengthen the side that wish to see them gone?

November 13th, 2007, 5:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Joshua,
It is a no brainer that Israel will leave the Golan once there is democracy in Syria. Any Israeli government will be under immense pressure internally and from the US and Europe to do this. There will not be any need for military pressure since Europe and the US as well as most Israelis will back this move.

And why are you supporting the excuses of Asad that democracy requires peace? How come there is democracy in Israel without peace? And you seem to agree that Syria is a terrorist state that supports Hizballah and Hamas. At least on that we are on the same wave length.

And if Arab liberals failed in Iraq, is your argument that therefore democracy should not be attempted anywhere else in the Arab world? Do you real think that Bashar Asad is the best the Syrians deserve and can do?

At last there is an opposition party in Syria that makes a lot of sense and you are trying to discourage them. Your criticism is always destructive. Well then, pray tell us what is your plan to achieve democracy in Syria in the next 10 years?

November 13th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why would the Muslim Brotherhood be complaining about the Iranian and Syrian governments?

This is a mystery.

http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=syria&ID=SP170707

Professor Josh,

cc: Bashmann

Please allow be to respond to the questions you posed for Bashmann:

You want the US to isolate Syria and assist Israel to keep the Golan until Syria becomes democratic. This strikes me as tantamount to helping Israel acquire the Golan for good.

How did Sadat get Sinai back? Why not employ the same methods?

Why not encourage the US to help Syria get the Golan back and continue working for democracy and liberalism in Syria?

Perhaps because the US DID help:

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/2002

Work for democracy and liberalism in Syria? You have a good sense of humor!

I presume you believe it supports these “resistance” groups because it is Baathist and evil and will do so whether it gets the Golan back or not. I do not find this argument convincing.

Because the Baathists, the Assads, and their cronies want to stay in power. And they will.

How will a democratic Syria win the Golan back from Israel if it does not pressure it militarily?

The same way King Hussein of Jordan did. The same way Anwar Sadat did. Are we still “not convincing”?

Are you convinced that Israel’s settlers will agree to leave the Golan once Syria has real elections?

I heard the same questions about the Sinai, Yamit, and Gaza. In each case, it wasn’t an issue.

Professor Josh, find some different books and periodicals to read. It will make you “well-rounded”, in a professional sense.

November 13th, 2007, 5:39 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Joshua,
To see how far fetched the peace requirement is for democracy, consider Lebanon. Syria apparently demands that democratic elections take place in Lebanon without outside interference. Why can Lebanon have democracy before it has peace with Israel and Syria can’t?

In the end, Asad will always find excuses to stay in power. Hafez did not join the peace process in 73 and in the early nineties was treated well by the West. He did not move Syria one inch towards democracy. Bashar has proved to be no different than his father.

The only chance that the forces of freedom in Syria have, is that the West maintain constant pressure on Asad and not give him legitimacy. I know that you are worried about what will happen to the minorities in Syria in the process of democratization. But that is why you should be supporting a real democratization process instead of supporting leaving Bashar in power. Because in your scenario, there is a good chance that Bashar will fall in a crash and then the probability that minorities will suffer is much greater.

November 13th, 2007, 5:44 pm

 

fadal said:

the major problem with the analysis offered here is that the fact that syria is no longer holding cards (real cards) in their hands. the real card is the internal power which has been slowly weakened by a weak performance. the reality and myths of syria are being uncovered unlike the period of Asad the first. Syria is a joke now. syria using lebanon as a card is the last resort or battle. we will see what will happen. Palastinians are no longer very effective in syria after the Israeli threats. Iraq looks to be recovering. so no real cards are available for syria to play with. until the regime regains its support internally-which looks like travelling to the moon on a bike- they will be losing the game quickly-very quickly.

November 13th, 2007, 8:22 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Syria was a democracy few decades ago but the United States did not like that … so they arranged a coup to bring America’s own friends to power … a coup that started a trend of many other coups at the rate of twice a year sometimes.

so … now, Syria is not a democracy … Lebanon and Israel are … semi-democracies… whatever you want to call their political system which has free elections.

The answer to your question of why Lebanon and Israel can have peace while being democracies but Syria can’t is:

Change.

Let me start with a quote from Woodrow Wilson:

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.”

If we were to ask for changing Lebanese “democracy” .. upgrading it to a true democracy for example (one man one vote) … the Shiites will govern Lebanon … this would create chaos for Israel and would make the Saudis, Americans and the French very unhappy.

Making Syria a democracy requires CHANGE … and change is difficult … Iraq’s similar change was a disaster … Syria must go through that change .. GRADUALLY … over the next 10 years for example … maybe less if America and Israel and Saudi Arabia help Syria instead of trying to weaken Syria.

And we can not afford to keep the Middle East in this state of semi-war with Iraq burning and Israel doing a yearly “operation” inside of the borders of one of the neighbors and the United States and Syria testing each other mom stop.

So we will have peace or war. But your solution of waiting 10 years for “democracy” is not going to be popular. You are free though to believe in it as a principle … you know … that you should not make peace with a tyrant … and many Arabs on the other side do not want Bashar to make peace with criminals in Israel.

But some of us prefer to save lives than to make statements.

November 13th, 2007, 8:45 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

the fact that syria is no longer holding cards

Fadal,

Syria is holding LOTS of cards:

– Lebanon
– Hezbollah
– Iran
– Baathist, Assad rule

I’ll agree with you when Syria begins to resemble Pakistan. Until then, the Poker game will continue.

November 13th, 2007, 8:45 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
When was Syria a democracy? I may have missed that somewhere.

And as usual you prove my point. If many Arabs or Syrians do not want peace with Israel, then Asad should not force them into a peace with Israel. That is why true peace can only come when there is democracy in Syria.

Wow Alex! Change is difficult. Good to know. So what? Of course it is, that does not mean you do not have to make the effort to change. For some reason you view Asad as constant and everybody else has to change around him. I really don’t get it. You keep repeating this argument but it makes zero sense. Of course Asad wants to stay in power and not change. Is that a reason to give in to him? Of course not.

November 13th, 2007, 9:19 pm

 

Peter H said:

“It is a no brainer that Israel will leave the Golan once there is democracy in Syria. Any Israeli government will be under immense pressure internally and from the US and Europe to do this. There will not be any need for military pressure since Europe and the US as well as most Israelis will back this move.”

I know somebody who has a career in comedy!

November 13th, 2007, 9:28 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Peter H,
State your argument why this will not happen and I will respond.
It is clear that this will happen. By making peace with a democratic Syria and giving it the Golan, Israel will strengthen this democracy and most Israelis would support such a move. It is a necessarry step to normalization with the whole Arab world.

November 13th, 2007, 9:41 pm

 

why-discuss said:

How can anyone trust the present US administration? They change their mind by the day. One day they will attack Iran the next day they want diplomacy, then they want to attack again. One day they support the election at the majority in lebanon, the next day they don’t. This admnistration seems totally paralyzed by its internal rifts and Bush and the remains of his dwingling team is weaker by the day. Rice’s continuous diplomatic failures is not very encouraging as she seems less and less representative of the US governement (Even the pope snubbed her..)
Syria would really be foolish to attend Maryland, they better rebuff the invitation, at least they will have the satisfaction of humiliating Bush until the next administration hopefully more ‘realistic’ will come on 2008. Syria has not much to loose in waiting, while Israel and US have a lot to loose, having to live with continuous attacks in Israel and the mess in Palestine and Iraq that is costing more on the US treasury . Israel will cease to receive the billions of dollars from the US in 2008 ( except for weapons) let see how they would deal with much less pocket money. Maybe that’s why Olmert accepted to appear in that theatrical meeting, promising peace in 6 months and leading nowhere..
In Syria, Bashar is perceived as a savior as he has protected the country from the Iraq chaos. I don’t agree he needs the return of the Golan to boost his popularity.
The only “imminent” threat on Syria is the possible indictment of important elements of the Baath in the Hariri tribunal but in view of the low key Canadian nominated by the UN, who seems to lack Brammertz’s experience, one wonders when that investigation would bring results. In any case I doubt the US would compromise on that, so what’s the point in pleasing this administration.
Aware of the very few carrots and sticks they have in hands the US and Israel are multiplyimg create artificial pressures ( bombing of the ‘nuclear site’, new US economical sanctions, promises of european rewards etc..) Nothing seems to be working…
Time is playing against the US and Israel, why would Bashar not wait?

November 13th, 2007, 9:53 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Right Why-Discuss, for 60 years the Syrians have been going backward and not forward but time is on their side. You have a weird way of looking at things. If you mean that time is on Bashar’s side, well that is something else. Maybe you are right since he does not care about his people. In the same way time is on the side of Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

November 13th, 2007, 10:05 pm

 

Peter H said:

State your argument why this will not happen and I will respond.
It is clear that this will happen. By making peace with a democratic Syria and giving it the Golan, Israel will strengthen this democracy and most Israelis would support such a move. It is a necessarry step to normalization with the whole Arab world.

(1) Israel has lots of reasons for holding on to the Golan Heights rather than returning it to Syria – strategic depth, water, the Golan settler lobby, the rest & relaxation the Golan offers for ordinary Israelis. How would these calculations be affected by the type of government Syria has?

(2) There’s no reason to believe that a democratic Syria would adopt a more accomodating attitude to Israel than Asad has adopted. If anything, a democratic Syria would be probably be more rigid on certain issues than the authoritarian Asad is. For example, I seriously doubt any Syrian polticans would agree to hold negotiations with Israel without preconditions (e.g. an Israeli commitment for a full return of the Golan Heights), something Assad has done. So why would Israelis would care about strengthening this Syrian democracy?

(3) When has democracy affected Israel’s negotations with other countries? Last time I checked, Jordan & Egypt aren’t democratic, yet that didn’t prevent Israel from making peace treaties with them.

November 13th, 2007, 10:25 pm

 

Peter H said:

By the way, I want to make clear that I use the term “return” the Golan Heights deliberately. The various rationales offered by Akbar, Israeli Guy, & Another Israel Guy ignore the fact that the Golan Heights belongs to Syria; it is not Israel’s to keep or bargain over. The fact that Syria is intimidating Lebanon or Asad is a dictator in no way affects Syria’s right to recover the Golan. Of course, Israel probably the power to hold on to the Golan as long as it pleases, but let’s not accept this is any legitimate. Might doesn’t make right.

November 13th, 2007, 10:55 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Oh man .. don’t you have another discussion tactic? … you are just like Netanyahu on ABC … attack and ridicule the Arab opponent .. preferably after you distort everything he said so that you can look good.

Please … please … if you don’t have a proper answer, don’t add another silly comment.

I have to remind you again you are incredibly rude … when someone takes the time to answer one of your questions in real life … did your teachers at school in Israel teach you to come back at him with accusations and ridicule?

In Syria we reply by first saying “thank you” … at least the educated ones and those who come from good families.

As for the only part of your last comment which was new … Here is the info about when Syria was a democracy

November 13th, 2007, 11:05 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Peter,
1) If the democratic Syria does not want peace with Israel, there will of course be no peace but this just strengthens my point that it is best to let the Syrian people decide and not make a false peace with Asad.
2) Of course the type of government will affect the considerations. Giving back the Golan to a democratic Syria as part of a comprehensive deal with the Arabs is something most Israelis will support.
3) The peace with Egypt was done in another era. It was strategically useful but in the end it is a sham and the Egyptians are not really behind it. Once there is democracy in Egypt, the Egyptians may well decide that they don’t want this peace.

November 13th, 2007, 11:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
In Israel we say it like it is. When we see BS we don’t call it choclate pudding. In Israel we come from simple families. Most of us come from families of refugees either from Europe or from Arab lands. We are not as refined or educated as the Syrians who are all graduates of first rate universities and have Nobel prizes.

November 13th, 2007, 11:22 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

This democracy talk by AIG, IG and Akbar is pathetic. What has democracy to do with making peace with the enemy? Israelis are making astonishing demands: we speak with Palestinians when they quit terror, we make peace with Syria when it is democratic.

Palestinians would be idiots if they would demolish their resistance organizations, which are the only cause that Israel is even willing to discuss. Would Israel give the whole West Bank and East Jerusalem back if Palestinians would destroy all their weapons and elect a government which Israel approves? Come-on, lets be realistic. Did Israel build with government money all that infrastructure and settlements to West Bank to “punish” militant Palestinians? Why does Israel always target and destroy the Palestinian civil administration and their equipment, if it wants a solution with an emerging “democrat” Palestine? Has in human history any occupied “nation” became democratic before the occupation ended? Would Saddam have given the Kurds “independence” if they had had no weapons and been democratic?

The Syria democratic excuse is even more funnier. Would Israel had in her own legislation made Golan as a part of Israel in 1981 if it would have any intention to give it back to any kind governed Syria?

In a region where water means everything, why would Israel give Golan’s and West Bank’s crucial water resources voluntarily away? Naturally the only explanation is that the outside pressure to make solutions has grown so strong, that Israel has to make a decision which is not in her “democratic interests”. USA and EU have realized that they need Arab oil and money more than they need a Greater Israel. Saudis arms deals with Russia were a signal to the West that there are other solutions and the huge Airbus orders were signal to USA. The reality is that Arab nations have the crucial natural resources and the capital these resources generate. Middle East is the next “China”.

What has Israel in the end to offer the West. Israel can’t bring any military solutions, only make new troubles and worsen relations with the Arab/Muslim nations. The idea that the west could control Middle East through Israel is wishful thinking. Israel has only the ability to nuke Middle East but no other means to influence to the development of the region. Israel’s strategic mistake was to build a fortress with no relevant links to the neighbourhood.

Israeliguys do you seriously think that Olmert is doing happily what he is now doing? He is doing because there are no other options. A new big war would not resolve anything, only make things much worse.

November 13th, 2007, 11:33 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
Democracy has everything to do with peace. There will be no real peace for Israel, if at all, until there will be democracies in the Arab world. Otherwise, it is just a sham forced by the dictator on the population. We already have several examples of that. The Palestinians do not like Oslo that Arafat decided for them. The Egyptians are not happy with what Sadat did. I also believe most Jordanians do not support the peace treaty with Israel.

I will not support a new agreement with the Palestinians, if one emerges, unless they have a referundum and most support it. If most Palestinians believe in the Hamas line, then talking to them is a waste of time.

And as usual, your analysis is delusional. The Gulf states including Saudi Arabia need the US to protect them. Where would Kuwait be without the US? Who would protect the UAE from Iran? Why does the US have huge bases in those countries?

And yes, the Golan is part of Israel and does not need to be returned to Syria, but it should be returned to a democratic Syria nevertheless if a democratic Syria chooses to make peace with Israel. That is an appropriate sacrifice that Israel should make to encourage democracy in the middle east.

November 13th, 2007, 11:55 pm

 

why-discuss said:

AIG

The Gulf states including Saudi Arabia need the US to protect them. Where would Kuwait be without the US? Who would protect the UAE from Iran? Why does the US have huge bases in those countries?

Historically Iran has never invaded any country in ther region. It is the arabs who invaded Persia and recently Saddam Hossein with the benediction of the USA. Clearly Iran wants to influence and create an autonomous order away from the leeches of western countries. They don’t want and don’t need to invade militarily. It is the americans who are crying wolf to frighten the weak saudis. If Iran joins the GCC, USA and its basis are out! Where are the ennemies that the US will protect the weak arab countries from??? The US is also using Iran to have bases in eastern europe, a totally absurd reason. This strategy of crying wolf will not stand and they know it. This is why the US have invaded Iraq as they wanted to get a new oil-rich ally other than Israel who has nothing to offer except troubles. But Iraq has turn out to be another bad surprise, and if it unites, as the US are wishing , it will certainly be a bigger threat to Israel than Saddam was. More doors are closing on Israel past freedom to do what they want while ignoring the UN resolutions. Time is also running out, as Simortha is mentionning, and it now Israel who will have to run for peace, while trying to play hard to get. They now count on this crippled administration to push for peace…

November 14th, 2007, 12:37 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG,

Your points are all valid except for one thing, the GOI doesn’t care “2 Figs” if Israel makes peace with a democracy or not. History has shown this. Of course the US government, you and myself would prefer a peace with a democracy. That’s clear. But I don’t see any sign of that happening.

Responding to SimoHurtta:

This democracy talk by AIG, IG and Akbar is pathetic.

Yes, freedom will have to wait until the Zionist Entity is no more.

What has democracy to do with making peace with the enemy?

Nothing. Israel will be glad to make peace with any entity, especially those who hold their people by their gonads.

Israelis are making astonishing demands

Yes, land for peace IS astonishing.

we speak with Palestinians when they quit terror, we make peace with Syria when it is democratic.

The reality is the Israelis have been negotiating with terrorists while being terrorized since the famous Clinton-inspired White House handshake. Who are you kidding?

Palestinians would be idiots if they would demolish their resistance organizations, which are the only cause that Israel is even willing to discuss.

Yes, it would take an idiot to stop the violence and focus on a government that included “rule-of-law”, peace, and a half-way decent economy. Heaven knows (or those living in Finland) that eradicating the Zionist Enterprise is of utmost importance.

Would Israel give the whole West Bank and East Jerusalem back if Palestinians would destroy all their weapons and elect a government which Israel approves?

Certainly that question was already answered in the final days of the Camp David negotiations. We still haven’t broken new ground Sim.

Come-on, lets be realistic.

No, I’d rather continue with your Utopian Jihadist dogma. It’s more fun.

Did Israel build with government money all that infrastructure and settlements to West Bank to “punish” militant Palestinians?

If the Palestinians took all the money they’ve received from the from the Europeans and Muslims over the years, each Palestinian family today would be living better than the average Finn. Something to ponder the next time you call for “resistance”.

Why does Israel always target and destroy the Palestinian civil administration and their equipment, if it wants a solution with an emerging “democrat” Palestine?

Beats me. I think the Israelis should write a check to Hamas each time a Qassam lands within Israel. Perhaps they should double the amount each time it kills someone or destroys a building. What answer were you looking for Sim?

Has in human history any occupied “nation” became democratic before the occupation ended?

Yes, Germany and Japan.

Would Saddam have given the Kurds “independence” if they had had no weapons and been democratic?

No, because:

– Saddam had no conscience
– Believed only in raw power
– Believed that Kurdistan is part of Iraq
– Had no Arab or Finnish opposition to contend with

The Syria democratic excuse is even more funnier.

It is no excuse. It just a dream I’m afraid. And not very funny, unless you aren’t Syrian maybe.

Would Israel had in her own legislation made Golan as a part of Israel in 1981 if it would have any intention to give it back to any kind governed Syria?

Why not? Israel gave LOTS of land back to Eygpt and Jordan that was once “part of Israel”.

In a region where water means everything, why would Israel give Golan’s and West Bank’s crucial water resources voluntarily away?

For peace, as strange as that may sound.

Naturally the only explanation is that the outside pressure to make solutions has grown so strong, that Israel has to make a decision which is not in her “democratic interests”.

Israel is pressured to make peace when it is within reach. Israel isn’t pressured when peace in NOT within reach. Generally, Israel isn’t expected to do anything no other country wouldn’t be prepared to do.

USA and EU have realized that they need Arab oil and money more than they need a Greater Israel.

How did you reach that conclusion Sim?

The reality is that Arab nations have the crucial natural resources and the capital these resources generate.

The other realities are that the Arab nations have crucial markets and investments and they aren’t all decided by Palestinian Resistance machinations. My intuition tells me the Saudis are getting a little tired of the Palestinians (their infighting, their lack of discipline, their continued “armed struggle”), the Syrians and the Iranians. As much as I rally against Saudi Arabia’s domestic policies, I do have to say that they do SEEM to be promoting peace and stability to the Middle East. That’s a far cry better than some of the other “prized” regimes in the area.

What has Israel in the end to offer the West.

– Technology (medical, pharmiceutical, military, electronics, computer, irrigation)
– Intelligence
– Tourism
– Flowers
– Hope

Israel can’t bring any military solutions, only make new troubles and worsen relations with the Arab/Muslim nations.

This is certainly a valid opinion that many agree with including Pat Buchanan, Zbniew Brezinski (sp), James Baker, etc. However, Americans, overwhelmingly, do NOT agree. Even after 9-11 and the War in Iraq.

The idea that the west could control Middle East through Israel is wishful thinking.

Of course this is YOUR idea, so may that is why it is a silly concept. Israel “controls” the Middle East as much as my little pinky. I think the US is doing a much better job without Israel even being involved.

Israel has only the ability to nuke Middle East but no other means to influence to the development of the region.

Israel, China, Russia, Pakistan, France, the UK, and India also has the ability to “nuke the Middle East”. Interestingly, most world governments, the US and the Europeans are more concerned about Iran and North Korea.

Israel’s strategic mistake was to build a fortress with no relevant links to the neighbourhood.

Israel is doing fine. Lots of links. Lots of internet. Lots of freedom. Lots of shekels. Lots of opportunity.

Thanks Sim. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give you another view of the Middle East. You’re lucky you have me around. Just think what it would be like to go around misinformed and ignorant for the rest of your life?

November 14th, 2007, 12:43 am

 

why-discuss said:

AKBAR

Israel is doing fine. Lots of links. Lots of internet. Lots of freedom. Lots of shekels. Lots of opportunity.

and …lots of anxiety, lots of governement corruptions, lot of fear from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.. lots of worries about the future.
Shekels and flowers won’t buy you peace of mind.

November 14th, 2007, 1:30 am

 

Peter H said:

AIG,

Thanks for your response. Hwoever, you ignored my point about the cost-benefit calculations that influence Israel’s decision to return the Golan Heights to Israel. There are lots of reasons that influence Israel’s decision to keep the Golan – need for so-called strategic depth, water, the Golan settler lobby, rest & relaxation. Syria’s type of government is irrelevant to these calcualations.

As Alex says, this “no-peace-without-democracy” is an convenient excuse: since there is no prospect of democracy emerging in Syria in the near-future. this basically provides justification to Israel to hold on to the Golan indefinitely. And, if, by chance, a democratic government does emerge in Syria, we can be sure Israel will find another justification to keep the Golan.

You are totally wrong when you say that the Golan belongs to Israel. The Golan belongs to Syria. International law makes clear that no state has the right to acquire territory by war. Israel has the right to demand that Syria recognize its right to live in peace in exchange for return of the Golan. Any other demands, including the demand that Syria democratize, is illegitimate.

November 14th, 2007, 2:45 am

 

Peter H said:

Why-Discuss,

As much as I hate to say it, Akbar Palce does have a valid point. As I see it, Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world have very little leverage over Israel. Israel can live quite prosperously with the status quo. It’s going to take some creative strategies to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinians & Syrian land.

November 14th, 2007, 3:00 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss states:

and …lots of anxiety, lots of governement corruptions, lot of fear from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.. lots of worries about the future. Shekels and flowers won’t buy you peace of mind.

One day, perhaps, the Israelis will have “peace of mind” like the jihadists in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama, the Lebanese and the Palestinians. Until then, there is no hope in Zion.

November 14th, 2007, 3:03 am

 

norman said:

Without Peace there will always be forign ,Israeli , US or other countries interference in Syria , stopping the interference in Syria’s internal affair could be a precondition to peace so until Israel return the Golan Heights and settle the Palestinian problem with minimum level of fairness there will be no democracy in Syria.

November 14th, 2007, 3:42 am

 

why-discuss said:

Peter H

I agree totally that the arabs have no leverage at all on Israel and they have not succeeded in anything else than to give Israel opportunities to expand.
Arabs actions are only nuisances and won’t force Israel out of the illegally acquired territories. Yet, Israel remains fragile: without the US support both politically and financially it cannot survive. As such it is totally dependent on the US foreign policy that until now has given Israel the highest priority in the region as the only ‘ally’. Is that a sustainable fact in view of the growing pressure on the US to deal with Israel’s ennemies to guaranty continuous supplies of oil ressources.
Israel may appear to develop economically in a prosperous country but I cannot believe that a country under constant threat from resistant terror acts from neighboring countries, and of a growing non-jewish demography that will ultimately disrupt the core rule of the jewish supremacy, is a stable country.
South Africa was also prosperous during apartheid.

November 14th, 2007, 3:56 am

 

norman said:

It is sad to see that the Syrian opposition would rather have the Syrian people suffer under sanctions just to make them stand against the Syrian Government so the opposition can reach power , they forget the major reason to be chosen to lead people and that is to care about them more than themselves and in that test it looks like the Syrian people figured the opposition for what they are , self centered people think of themselves not of the poor Syrians who only want leaders who will care about them , the opposition should know that helping the Syrian people does not require being in politecal power , Ha mas and Hezbollah proved that by charitable organizations that showed their their care for them.

November 14th, 2007, 4:03 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

putting the above ,non interesting discussion,aside,I think there is very good probability that president Lahoud is going to do something friday or saturday.

November 14th, 2007, 4:06 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Peter H,
You are very wrong. The Golan is very beneficial to Israel, but who says that under Syrian rule, Israelis will not be able to go there, just like they go to Sinai? And who says they will not be allowed to live there? Why not? Aren’t there English living in France and vice versa? As for the water, Israel got by without it before 67 and can get along without it now. You put too much weight on it.
There is no reason Israel could not return the Golan to Syria in a way beneficial both for Syria and Israel.

And as for the legal status of the Golan, for me Israeli law trumps international law and therefore the Golan is Israeli. It is as simple as that.

November 14th, 2007, 4:29 am

 

ziad said:

Dichter: Syria is our only neighbor that nixes smuggling
By Cnaan Liphshiz

Syria is the only country among Israel’s neighbors that keeps a quiet border and meets its obligations to prevent smuggling from its side, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya yesterday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who also spoke, said Washington and Jerusalem agree Syrian participation in the peace conference in Annapolis would be “positive.”
Advertisement

The conference on combating global terror was held at the center’s International Institute for Counter Terrorism yesterday.

Dichter added, “There were two countries responsible for Hamas’ takeover in the Gaza Strip last summer, and those are the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.” Dichter said Egypt could have put an end to Hamas’ amassing of weapons “at any given point in time.”

According to Dichter, “genuine negotiations with the Palestinians depend on the formation of a functioning law enforcement system” in the Palestinian Authority.”

Barak said the U.S. and Israel “see eye to eye” on the subject of Syrian participation in the summit later this month. “However, the Syrians must recognize that the main issue at Annapolis is the Palestinain issue,” Barak said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, speaking on the Iranian issue, said the Islamic republic had not been handed stricter sanctions over its alleged nuclear weapons program because “each country has its own agenda and interest.”

Livni, who attended the event with Russia’s former minister of internal affairs, Anatoliy Kulikov, said “each country must pick a side. It is not acceptable for countries to say one thing in public, and then another when no one is looking.”

Infrastructures Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, calling for more action against Iran, said that when it came to Tehran, “too late is actually very soon.”

November 14th, 2007, 4:36 am

 

Peter H said:

AIG,

I agree that, in a peace deal, Israelis would be able to travel to the Golan Heights, although I’m not sure about Israeli settlers being allowed to live there (I’m also not sure that the Golan settlers would want to live under Syrian control) However, judging from the comments left here by Israeli Guy and Akbar Palace, it’s seems clear to me that many, if not most, Israelis would rather have the Golan than any peace deal with Syria.

November 14th, 2007, 4:41 am

 

Alex said:

What was that?

AIG and IG were right … Dichter is making more “mistakes” regarding Syria! … just one day after Halevy had his share of naive opnions!

Today Dichter is saying

“Syria is the only country among Israel’s neighbors that keeps a quiet border and meets its obligations to prevent smuggling from its side, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya yesterday.

Dichter added, “There were two countries responsible for Hamas’ takeover in the Gaza Strip last summer, and those are the Palestinian Authority and Egypt.” Dichter said Egypt could have put an end to Hamas’ amassing of weapons “at any given point in time.”

What’s wrong with Dichter?? … Those can not be facts!! .. those were “mistakes” … good thing Dichter can not fool AIG who is alert and will make sure no peace is signed between Syria and Israel for at least the next 10 years.

November 14th, 2007, 4:54 am

 

ausamaa said:

Why should Syria go to a two-star rated movie? Just because Bush thought it is the thing that he needs? And, the smart man is making it look as if inviting Syria to attend is should be considered by Syria as some sort of a reward??!! As if desperate beggers CAN be chosers! For when all the external and regional players can not fix little Lebanon without Syria’s involvement, can they be expecte then to fix the larger issues of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict without addressing the Golan and without Syria’s input?

Syria and the PEACE ACT should have been the title of this post. Go there to do what? Rubber stamp a lost Bush roadshow? Or is it to allow a drawning and disoriented Olmert to start a Normalization Fiasco with the Arab Moderates, or to draw Abbas into a doubious slippery ally, in exchange for little tricky compromises?

Thank you very much, but Syria should take a rain check on this one. Actually, Damascus weather is nicer than Annapolis this time of the year. Show us some positive results and some good intentions -if any are left- and Syria may look at such “unique opportunities” in the future.

And good luck to all the highly Popular and truley Representative would-be participants…

November 14th, 2007, 5:35 am

 

Zubaida said:

I had the opportunity of a brief discussion with Faisal Miqdad recently on the protocol of Annapolis. He made clear that if the invitation to Syria came as part of the collective invitation to the Arab League group following up the Riyadh summit peace plan, Syria would not be interested. If, however, Syria received a separate invitation, it would go.

November 14th, 2007, 9:46 am

 

t_desco said:

After mystery raid, the prospect of Syrian-Israeli talks

Israel’s reported new secret peace feelers to Syria have deepened the mystery over the countries’ relations and the reason why Israeli warplanes bombed a target inside Syria two months ago.

The United States has unofficially said that Israel’s target was a nascent Syrian nuclear program. But outside analysts and the U.N. maintain there isn’t proof of that, and say the Syrian site could well have been something else, including possibly a radar station.

Meanwhile, many in the region and in Europe remain skeptical about what proof the United States or Israel have that the bombed Syrian site was nuclear-linked.

“There hasn’t been anything that constitutes a definitive smoking gun proof that this facility the Israelis attacked was indeed a nuclear facility,” said David Hartwell, Middle East and North Africa editor for Jane’s Country Risk in London.

Syria has denied any nuclear ambitions and the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has asked the United States and Israel to show proof.

A diplomat familiar with IAEA affairs, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said one theory being considered within the agency is that the bombed site may have been a forward radar system, and not a nuclear site. …
AP

Russian citizen arrested in Lebanon may face death penalty

Russian citizen Sergei Vysotsky, arrested by Lebanese authorities on charges of terrorism, may face death penalty, his lawyer Jalal al-Jurdi told Itar-Tass on Tuesday, who was present during Vysotsky’s interrogation.

Al Jurdi said Vysotsky embraced Islam two years ago, and was studying in Damascus, from where he was lured to Tripoli, northern Lebanon, by Abu Abdalla, a native of the Russian republic of Dagestan.

As it turned out later, Abdalla engaged in recruiting youths for militants. Vysotsky, instead of practice at Islamic charity foundations and studies of cultural monuments, found himself among bellicose Islamists and mercenaries from a number of countries.

Lebanese authorities charged Vysotsky with “participation in illegal paramilitary formation, involvement in terrorism and illegal staying in the Lebanese territory” in October.

Similar charges were brought in absentia against Dagestani national Abu Abdalla, whose last name and date of birth are unknown, Timur Khudzhukov, 20, and Aslan Yamkudzhayev, 20. Their whereabouts are unknown at present. …
Itar-Tass

November 14th, 2007, 11:38 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
What was what? Dichter like Halevy, wants a Syrian flip, what you think can never happen. So why are you praising Dichter? See my post above about the two Israeli positions.
Very few people in Israel support your position Alex, very few.
You just keep quoting ISraelis out of context trying to prove a point that just isn’t true.

November 14th, 2007, 11:41 am

 

Observer said:

From Avi Shlaim
Israel, free speech, and the Oxford Union

Avi Shlaim

Mirrored here with the author’s permission from Alternet.

Israel is often portrayed by its supporters as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. But these very same supporters, in their excessive zeal for their cause, sometimes end up by violating one of the most fundamental principles of democracy — the right to free speech. While accepting free speech as a universal value, all too often they try to restrict it when it comes to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. The result is not to encourage but to stifle debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Britain prides itself on its tradition of free speech and civilised debate on all subjects, including Israel. The great majority of British Jews are part of this tradition. Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, is a notable example of this fair-minded, liberal, and pluralistic tradition. One of his sixteen books is called The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations. On the other side of the Atlantic, on the other hand, the public debate on the subject of Israel is much more fierce and partisan, leaving relatively little space for the dignity of difference. The passion with which many prominent American Jews defend Israel betrays an atavistic attitude of “my country, right or wrong”.

One example is Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and crusader on behalf of Israel. One of his books is called The Case for Israel. As the title suggests, this is not an objective, academic treatise but a lawyer’s brief for his client. The lawyer in question is no friend of free speech when it comes to criticism of Israel, however well substantiated. Recent events in Oxford suggest that those of us who thought that attempts to stifle free debate about Israel are confined to American campuses need to think again.

A debate dissolves

The Oxford Union is one of the world’s most illustrious debating chambers and a bastion of free speech. It was founded in the 19th century to uphold the principle of free speech and debate in England at a time when they were being severely curtailed. Recently, however, the union failed to live up to its lofty ideals. A debate was scheduled for 23 October 2007 on the motion “This house believes that one-state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict”. Ilan Pappé, Ghada Karmi and I agreed to speak for the motion; Norman G Finkelstein, the American-Jewish academic, David (Lord) Trimble, the Northern Irish politician, and Peter Tatchell, the gay-rights activist, accepted the invitation to speak against. In the end the debate took place without any of the scheduled speakers after an ugly and acrimonious, American-style row over the make-up of the panel.

Various friends of Israel complained to Luke Tryl, the president of the Oxford Union, that the debate was “unbalanced” because it included Norman G Finkelstein, a well-known critic of Israel, on the “pro-Israel” side. What they failed to grasp, or deliberately chose to ignore, was that the motion was not for or against Israel but about alternative solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Professor Dershowitz was the first and the most aggressive of the protesters. He himself had been invited to speak but he replied that he would participate only if he could dictate the motion and approve the other speakers. These preposterous conditions were rejected and Dershowitz stayed away. But he did not simply sulk in his tent: that is not his style. He wrote to Tryl that it was outrageous for the union to give Finkelstein a platform but, once again, he met with a rebuff. Dershowitz then turned his polemical blunderbuss directly against Finkelstein, calling him “an anti-Semitic bigot” in an article he posted on FrontPageMag.com on 19 October 2007 under the title “Oxford Union is Dead”.

Peace Now-UK co-chair Paul Usiskin not only added to the pressure on Tryl to drop Finkelstein but offered to take his place. On 14 October a small delegation of Oxford undergraduates went to see Tryl to question the inclusion of Finkelstein and Tatchell on the “pro-Israel” side and to argue that the whole debate was unbalanced. It is perfectly legitimate for members of the union to communicate their concerns to their president. But the insistence on balance in relation to an unbalanced international actor like Israel raises more questions than it answers.

Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians surely cannot be described as balanced by any stretch of the imagination. The Biblical injunction of “an eye for an eye” is grisly enough, but Israel goes even farther by its habitual practice of exacting an eye for an eyelash! As Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians becomes more heavy-handed and violent, the very notion of balance needs to be re-examined. Luke Tryl displayed neither wisdom nor courage in dealing with these broader issues and he eventually caved in to the pressure. On 19 October, four days before the debate, he curtly informed Finkelstein that his invitation was rescinded. Paul Usiskin realised his burning ambition to be included in the debate as a member of the team opposing the motion.

On 21 October I wrote to Luke Tryl: “I understand that you have been subjected to a lot of pressure recently. You have my sympathy. But perhaps it was a mistake to give in to the pressure. Some people are never satisfied. In any case, I cannot see how dropping Norman Finkelstein can be squared with the principle of free speech.”

Paul Usiskin greatly inflated his own part in this sorry saga in the hopelessly distorted account he gave to the correspondent of the Jerusalem Post. He even claimed the credit for having prevailed on Tryl to drop Finkelstein, although Dershowitz has a stronger claim to this dubious distinction. Usiskin told the Post that the proposers of the one-state solution were disgruntled at his inclusion in the debate and demanded Finkelstein’s re-invitation. The truth of the matter is that it was not of the slightest interest to me whether Usiskin took part in the debate or not. My only concern was with the infringement of the principle of free speech at my own university by excluding an academic expert from the debate on solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The fact that Finkelstein and I were on opposite sides of the debate was irrelevant. Finally, Usiskin told the Jerusalem Post that I am a key figure in the campaign for the academic boycott of Israel. In fact, I strongly oppose the boycott because it would infringe the freedom of Israeli academics.

Démarche and diminuendo

In the two days before the debate was due to take place, all other five of the original speakers pulled out. David Trimble, not unreasonably, was fed up with all the controversy. So was I. Luke Tryl invited me to take part in the debate as far back as 11 July. Although I did not like the motion, I made no attempt to modify it out of respect for the student officers of the union. Nor did I try to influence the line-up of the speakers. Tryl left me the choice to speak either for or against the motion and I hesitantly opted to speak for. I have in fact always been a supporter of the two-state solution but I planned to argue that that since Israel is systematically destroying the basis for a genuine two-state solution by its constant expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, the one-state is the only remaining alternative. These nuances were lost in the media reports and spin that came to surround the collapse of the debate.

My colleagues and I did not withdraw from the debate when we realised that we were going to lose, as our detractors told the media. Our démarche was intended as a protest against the shabby treatment of our academic colleague and the violation of the principle of free speech at the Oxford Union. Even at the eleventh hour we were still ready to rejoin the debate but only on condition that Norman G Finkelstein was re-invited. He was not re-invited, so we stayed away. The debaters on the night were the ubiquitous Paul Usiskin and five students. The motion was defeated by 191 votes to 60. Groucho Marx once said to his host: “I had a great evening but this was not it!” I feel somewhat the same way about this particular Oxford Union debate.

Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Among his books are The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (WW Norton, 1999) and (as co-editor) The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (Cambridge University Press, 2001). His most recent book is Lion of Jordan: the Life of King Hussein in War and Peace (Penguin, 2007)

Posted by Juan Cole at 12:03 AM

Labels: Avi Shlaim, Israel/Palestine

November 14th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 

annie said:

“Syrians who are all graduates of first rate universities and have Nobel prizes.”
Gosh AIG or IG what do you expect with an attitude like that ?
Peace ? Love ? Respect ? Dealing with people on an equal footing ?
Syrians might not have many Nobel prizes but they have the art of living and relating and that is priceless because it is life itself.
With your brutal assaults, what are you ? A ben adam ? an Insaan ?
It all depends on what is important to you.
And what I find in Syria is unique; a way of being to my liking.

November 14th, 2007, 2:49 pm

 

Joshua said:

Zubaida,
Thanks for the Miqdad protocol. Very useful. I guess Syria will be going. I think this is good. It cannot help the Palestinians or itself by staying away.

By participating, Syria will make it easier for any Democratic presidential candidate (or Republican) to join Obama in arguing that Syria must be part of any regional peace process.

It does Syria no harm to participate and maybe some good.

Peter H,
Thanks for explaining my argument in a rational way. You have done it better than I could. Israel and the US insisted that the Palestinians had to have democratic elections before negotiations could be undertaken in earnest. The Palestinians did have elections and promoted democracy. It only made matters worse for the Palestinians.

Thanks to everyone else for bringing interesting content that I can copy to the front page. SC is a group effort.

Best, J

November 14th, 2007, 3:10 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, as someone who monitors Israeli news quite well, you probably know that there are supporters and opposers to any possible position, view or idea in Israel – all the time : )

Regarding the Syrian track, every week or month you’ll be able to find Israeli current or former politicians, former high ranking military officers, security or political experts, senior researchers and analysts, etc – who advocate for engaging Syria.

Not exactly ‘Breaking News’ material.
It has been going on forever : )

However, it’s worth mentioning the following:

1. On every speaker that supports peace with Syria, you’ll easily find (at least) another one, with equally impressive credentials, experience and weight, who opposes it.

2. Most Israeli speakers who talk in favor of peace with Syria, support the idea in the context of flipping Syria and making her switch sides.

Excluding the Arab MKs, it’s very rare to find Israeli speakers that support the skinny option of “we’ll give them the Golan and in return we’ll sign a peace agreement”.

Most of the supporters present it as a mean to extract Syria from the ‘axis of evil’ and move it to the ‘Arab moderates’ club.

They usually present an equation where we will have peace with Syria (which includes the handover of the Golan) and Syria will have a 180 degree policy change with regard to Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, etc.

However, you seem to agree with me that their equation is unrealistic.

3. The Israeli public doesn’t support giving the Golan to Syria.

Today, NRG, the news site of the 2nd largest daily newspaper in the country – Maariv, had a web survey.

The question was: “Negotiations with Syria:”.

The 2 options were:
* Not now – 63%
* This is the perfect timing for them – 37%

Number of web voters: 1253

Not a scientific survey, I know, but it gives you a direction regarding how the Israeli public feels about the idea.

November 14th, 2007, 3:18 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Joshua

I see your point, but:

First: I do not believe Syria’s attendance will do Syria any good or score it any goodwill points. Why? Past experience tells us why. Look at what resulted from all the help Syria extended during the first stages of the “war on Terror” and how Syria was treared afterwards. Look at how Syria helped reach the Mecca Accord and how it was “used” to make it happen and how it was treated afterwards. Look at the current drop of attacks in Iraq and tell me if Syria is being treated any differently than it was before. Let us not forget that Syria is a major “target” of the neo-cons approach after all and the presuure on it will continue until either Syria and its allies collaps, or until the other side realizes that such a collaps is not only un-possible but also capable of irreversably recking larger designs. So as president Bashar said a few years ago: No matter what we will do, they will still say: Not Enough! And events had proved that his words were correct. So why should Syria go out of its way to prove that its a “nice” guy to a “crowd” who is intent on containing Syria anyway?

Second: What are the true intentions behind convening the Annapolis thing? Peace? I doubt it. If anyone is keen on reaching peace in the Middle East is this the way to approach it? Golan Hights not on the serious agend, half the Palestinans are not represented, the Lebanese are not there, and if they are going, then less than half of them will be represented. Why dont we admit that this Annaplois party is at best a way to show that Bush is making a try to put a better face on his failed policies, and at worst, a venue thru which they can trick Palestinian Delegation into a begining of compromise regarding the Refugees Issue, and a venue thru which the shy and vergin Arab states can be officially “introduced” to the Israelies so that to make the Arab refusal to sit with Israel something from the past.

So, I really disagree here. Syria should not attend under those uncertain and untrusted circumstances and intention. Do you really smell a scent of Peace in the air? Unfourtunately, I dont! I smell trickery and a badly produced scenario for a low budget movie. So, I am not big on Syria attending the circus to do people favours and to legetimize and exonrate the culprits from the havoc that they have recked upon the area.

Finally, how could Syria attend a “peace” meeting to which the welcoming invitation came through the intrusion of four Israeli fighters into Syrian airspace just a few weeks ago!! And dont tell me Bush did not approve sending the “real” invitation in that manner.

November 14th, 2007, 4:23 pm

 

Bashmann said:

Dear Josh,

I read your reply on the other post and answered it there. It seems to me you threw a few more things for me to answer here.
I’ll try to do my best later today. For now, I’ll post this here and come back with more answers for you at a later time.

I’m glad to have finally gotten the interest of the esteemed professor. I would be more than glad to put forth an argument for regime change, however, my article do not call for such action. Although a regime change would be the preferred method on how to deal with Syria, yet the realities on the ground dictate for a wiser action by the US which I’ll do my best here to highlight here. But first let me introduce myself to you and your readers as I’m sure I’ll be the recipient of some just and plenty of unjust criticism.

I’m the Vice President of Alenfetah Party of Syria, a liberal party that was established over two years ago in the lovely setting of South Florida. Our members reflect the desires of Syrians ex-patriots in bringing democracy, freedom, and the rule of law to our beloved Syria and establishing a true republic that stands for justice, liberty, and an institutional democracy where true separation of powers and accountability are the cornerstones for the republic.

Now to get back to your comment regarding Arab liberals failing in Iraq a statement which I find to be the source of your misconception and to the dilemma in Washington over Syria. I beg to disagree with you on such a statement. As much you would like to believe to be the case for the initiation of hostilities against Iraq, Arab liberals were not the ‘cause of the invasion or the war. Saddam Hussien was ultimately responsible for his aggression against his people, neighbor states, and the West which eventually led to his final demise. Many other factors also played part, mainly oil resources, and personal vendetta which I find to be the main reason we are in Iraq. All others such as, WMD’s and terrorist links have been proved to be smokescreens. I’m surprise you seem to blame the US invasion on Arab liberals! If you are referring to the Chalabi affair, we can count it as an opportunist seeking to capitalize on events that were beneficial to his ‘cause.

As for the second part of the statement “convince me that they will win in Syria”, well we are certainly trying. Arab liberals are the only ones in the Arab world that are prepared to bring all sectors of Syrian societies into their fold. Sunni, Shi’a, Alawi, Druze, Christians, Ismaelis, Kurds, Assyrians, and the rest of the mosaic that makes Syria such a diverse country which has proved to be an example of sectarian tolerance in a tough neighborhood. In fact Alenfetah party is a microcosm of this; we have a Sunni, Alawi, Druze and Shi’a in our presidential and executive bodies. It’s strange to me that a US academic such as you would think negatively of Arab liberals. In fact we are hoping that Arab liberalism would do exactly what American liberalism did during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century in America, mainly improving the well being of all people. Since Arab Nationalism proved to be a failure, the vacuum in ideologies left us with corrupt authoritarian regimes that seem to be the problem and the cause to the popular anger which created religious radicalism that reverberated with violence throughout the Arab world during the past century and eventually reached the West.

Now you can argue that the Ba’ath secular and socialist messages are already in Syria doing the same, yet the difference between the two is widely evident. Ba’athist ideologies tend to be streaked with socialist agendas which are proving to be the source for the economic mess Syria is in currently. In fact, the economic reforms proposed by prime minister Dardari are designed to torpedo the socialist programs which have proved to be the biggest burden on the economy, therefore he is going against many die hard Ba’athists. On the other hand Arab liberalism embrace capitalism and free market economy, in fact you can hardly find an Arab liberal who would disagree with this.

With this said, lets get back to the rest of your comment;

“You want the US to isolate Syria and assist Israel to keep the Golan until Syria becomes democratic. This strikes me as tantamount to helping Israel acquire the Golan for good.”

I look at things from different perspective. My argument in the article was to not engage Syria now as it will only prove to be detrimental to US policies in the long run and I’ll try to elucidate this as much as I can.

First, we all know that getting the Golan back is the Holy Grail for the Syrian regime as it will bring legitimacy to it and erase from memory the abusive manner in which Bashar came to power. Israel knows this and does not seem to be willing to give up land for the sake of Bashar popularity. Israel also knows that Bashar is weak now and has only few weak cards to play, what incentive does Israel have to give up the Golan back? In fact Israel is content with the current arrangement and would not want it to change for the time being. What benefits would Israel have by giving up such a strategic piece of land that seems to be the best line of defense for future wars? A friend of mine, had a father who served in the Syrian Army and led “Alsa’eka” company during the ’67 war. Upon a casual conversation with him, he pointedly told me that he will be utterly surprised to see Israel give up the Golan in the future. His skepticism comes from experience in the geographical importance of the Golan to Israel and to Syria. The location is every military admiral dream in terms of advantage in conventional warfare.

Second, the argument that Israel can keep the Golan for good is a hoax. In part this is because we should give thanks to the late Asad, and this is the only time you will hear me praising him, every country in the world knows the price for a peace deal between Syria and Israel is the Golan. There are clear UN resolutions to this effect. Both Syria and Israel know this and will have to work out a compromise on the details in order to carry this through.

Third, just like the Iraq and Lebanon issue, the US should play the democratic reform card and move it to the top condition in order to engage Syria which would put the ball in the regime court. If the US is serious about democratic reforms in the Arab world then Syria should be the first example for the rest of the Arab leaders who are considered republics in terms of liberalizing their rules and relaxing the grip on power for alternatives. US foreign policy should hold these ideals as sacred and never compromise. If the US helps bring Israel and Syria to the table now, wouldn’t you think we would end up with another friendly authoritarian ally the likes of Egypt and Libya and the rest? Do you really think reformers and liberal’s democracy advocate’s would have a chance then?

My dear professor, the US is great country and the people of the Middle-East know this and love it. The problem is not Arabs hating America, the problem is America’s past policies for the ME. It is American lack of fairness and vision that have created such animosity in the Arab street. If America stands up for the common man on those streets, the results would be a change from within and that is the true spirit of Americanism that we must export.

One more thing which I must add, it is our belief without a doubt that Israel WILL return the Golan in full to a democratic Syria.
Without war and without proxi support to backwarded militant groups that are hell-bent on keeping the cycle of violence going for generations to come.

Israel knows the price for a true and lasting peace with all its neighbors especially Syria is the return of the Golan in full.

Cheers.

November 14th, 2007, 4:33 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Joshoua,

As if I needed the below article in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper to support some of the points I made earlier!

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/923918.html

Flip-flopping toward Damascus

By Uzi Benziman

tags: Israel, Syria

Israeli politicians have two beat-up old rabbits in their hat when they want to mock citizens harboring hopes for peace: Secret negotiations with Syria and new possibilities for an agreement with the Palestinians.

Every time they reach a dead end in one track, they pull out of their hat the dove of the other channel. At the end of the performance they stuff the two handkerchiefs back in the hat – until the next show.

Ehud Barak’s exploits as prime minister proved wonderfully how the method works. Immediately after his election in May 1999, he took his first trip to the U.S., bringing with him great tidings: He intended to reach a permanent settlement with the Palestinians as soon as possible, and at the same time to arrive at an agreement with the Syrians.
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In September of that year, Barak signed the Sharm al-Sheikh agreement with the Palestinian Authority, which was meant to implement the Wye Agreement signed by his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu. That agreement established an outline for intensive negotiations intended to lead to a framework agreement within five months, which would in turn lead to a permanent settlement within a year.

In short time, the negotiations over the permanent settlement ran into serious problems, but amazingly a new hope appeared: negotiations with the Syrians.

Barak showered praise on Hafez Assad, and at the beginning of January 2000, the prime minister went to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, to meet with Farouk Shara, then Syria’s foreign minister, in talks held under the auspices of president Bill Clinton.

Those negotiations produced no practical results, even though a draft agreement was drawn up. As the chances for an agreement faded away, Barak reincarnated and then accelerated the talks with the Palestinians, which culminated in his meeting with Yasser Arafat at Camp David in July 2000. This move also failed, and Barak disappeared from the political center stage.

So when Barak once again calls for talks with the Syrians, it is as if he is declaring that the upcoming Annapolis summit is fated to end with little in the way of practical results.

The loud and clear signal to Damascus, only two months after Israel’s air force attacked Syria, can only be interpreted as a sleight of hand – offered as an alternative to the diplomatic process now underway with the Palestinians; or as a distraction for the public from its anticipated failure. And when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert picks up Barak’s chorus, it’s as if he is giving his official approval to the forecast that nothing will come out of Annapolis.

After all, only a few months ago, Olmert refused calls to give in to Assad’s attempts at courtship, dismissing them with the observation that they were only intended to end American pressure on the Syrian leader.

A tendency to zigzag is not the exclusive property of our present prime minister. Since the Madrid Conference in 1991, Israel and Syria have a number of times exchanged messages intended to ascertain the chances of their reaching an agreement that would put at end to the state of war between them. Prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon all did it. Rabin even handed the U.S. government his agreement to a full pullback from the Golan Heights, and both Netanyahu and Barak also agreed to returning the territory.

This potential was never translated into an agreement for various reasons, but the root cause was the failure of the Israeli leadership, in its various incarnations, to achieve internal agreement within Israel on a withdrawal from the Golan.

During the tenures of Rabin, Netanyahu and Barak, the flip-flopping back and forth, from the Palestinian to the Syrian channel, and back again, was obvious and out in the open. It was based, on the hand, on serious political considerations – Rabin thought that it was impossible to offer the public two peace plans at the same time; and in the case of Netanyahu and Barak, it stemmed from public relations considerations.

The present attempt to tango with Assad, Jr., if it is serious at all, is also doomed to fail.

Either it is a tactic addressed to the Palestinian Authority, whose purpose is to improve Israel’s bargaining position; or it is a public relations gambit meant to distract the Israeli public. Or perhaps it is actually a trial balloon whose address is Assad himself, in which case it is likely to be popped by the winds blowing from America.

In any case, Olmert is not a stronger leader than his predecessors were, in his supposed readiness to negotiate over the future of the Golan. This fact should be our starting point as we attempt to draw conclusions about the seriousness of reports on a new dawn on the Israeli-Syrian horizon.

November 14th, 2007, 4:43 pm

 

t_desco said:

US, Israel refuse to cooperate with inquest into Syria strike: diplomat

The International Atomic Energy Agency – the United Nations nuclear watchdog – has not been able to conduct an investigation into the events surrounding the Sept. 6 Israeli bombing of a Syrian military installation because neither the Bush administration nor Israel are cooperating.

A diplomatic source close to the Vienna based IAEA told Raw Story that both the United States and Israel have been approached by the organization requesting supporting evidence of a nuclear reactor which media sources have cited, based on anonymous sources in both governments, as the reason for the Israeli strike.

The source also explained that the satellite footage, which the IAEA obtained through commercial channels for lack of any “credible evidence,” does not show a nuclear reactor in the early construction phase.

Another source, close to the IAEA, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the topic, told RAW STORY last week that based on satellite imagery, evidence that “it was nuclear related is shaky” and pointed out that even basic security for such a facility – such as “security fences” – is missing.

The diplomat close to the IAEA also confirmed the lack of radiation signatures, but explained that a reactor still under construction would not yet be fully loaded with the necessary materials and would not therefore give off any radiation. The diplomat, however, again pointed to the satellite images, which do not show a nuclear reactor under construction in any case, explaining certain geometric configurations are necessary for such a facility, including certain height indicators as well as the lack of security such as armed guards.

Larisa Alexandrovna/Raw Story

(my emphasis)

November 14th, 2007, 4:53 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Bashmann said;
it is our belief without a doubt that Israel WILL return the Golan in full to a democratic Syria.
there is one answer;YOU ARE NAIVE

November 14th, 2007, 5:01 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG, IG

But the point I am making is that “flipping Syria” means different things to different people.

The way you, and many Americans and Israelis define it is: Syria does a 180 degree flip on its relations with Iran, Hamas, and Hizbollah so that you can weaken them and hopefully get rid of them or at least get rid of them as any kind of threat to Israel.

Halevy defined flipping Syria as something compatible with the other parts of his interview with David Ignatius … helping Iran instead of fighting Iran.

Dichter defined flipping Syria in a way that made it clear that there is no value added for Israel in negotiating for a Syrian flip on Hamas since it is Egypt and the Palestinian authority who are the real military backers for Hamas.

The above two points I hope you’ll agree that I was making here and you were rejecting for weeks now. So all I am saying, is that this are valid points … they are not an Alex trying to sell you a used Toyota of peace agreement.

The only part of flipping Syria that might make a difference for Israel is Hizbollah which is more dependent on Syria than Hamas or Iran.

But the best approach with Hizbollah is also the same approach Halevy suggested for Iran. Hizbollah should be, and it can be, accommodated within the new Lebanon. Lebanon’s political will need to be fine-tuned .. gradually. Hizbollah will easily turn into a political party after peace with Syria and Lebanon. So discussing flipping Syria in the case of Hizolah is also unnecessarily negative and difficult … the easy road is to simply ask Syria how Hizbollah will give up its arms after a peace treaty.

So again … why flip Syria?

Is it to make “the Arab moderates” happy? … that Syria is not an ally of Iran anymore?

Syria was an ally of Iran in the 90’s while closely cooperating and plannning regional issues with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Everyone was happy with that arrangement. That’s the degree to which Syria should be “flipped” in relation to Iran… go back to the happy 90’s balance.

Then Israel and the United States listen to Halevy’s advice regarding their approach to Iran … so that Israel can also be Iran’s friend.

And as we all agree … Israel will need to be serious about a solution to the Palestinian issue. That solution is much more complex than the Golan treaty, so it will take longer to finalize … but concrete steps can be taken at the same time to make Hamas neutral (and unofficially supportive) of the peace process.

That part Syria can promise … provided of course it is not asked to “flip” on Hamas.

Finally regarding Israeli opinion polls … If you remember, I quoted you the last poll I read on the issue .. it was not an online poll but a scientific one conducted by Haaretz last year. It also said that about 40% of Israelis wanted peace with Syria in exchnge for the Golan Heights.

I have no problem with 40% support now. The process did not start yet. We need 20% of Israelis who currently are soft opponents of the process (one in three who answered “not now”) to be convinced that now is a good time to go for it.

I am convinced that this, and even more, is quite possible. Because I am convinced that there is a clear win-win-win-win-win way out of today’s madness in the Middle East.

Israel wins, Syria wins, Lebanon wins, Iran wins, and the Palestinians win.

You want the perfect example? … look at Turkey, Israel and Syria. In 1999 most Turks had very negative opinions of Syria (and the Assads). Today, Bashar and his wife and his family are the most popular foreign leaders in Turkey. Syria and Turkey are becoming closer allies year by year… and Turkey is still a good friend of Israel.

Iran will take time, but it can be “flipped” … and Peace with Syria and Lebanon (without trying to destroy Hizbollah) can help you flip Iran.

And that’s what Halevy and probably Dichter have in mind.

When there is an easier way, why not? … The Middle East can be as open and compatible as the European Union.

And democracy, which can only materialize gradually, will find the healthiest environment in a peaceful Middle East.

November 14th, 2007, 5:03 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Bashmann,

Thank you for your post and your vision which are both, truly something that belongs at a “Centre of Peace Studies”.

I found your website very interesting.

http://www.alenfetah.com/en/02.asp

As we say in hebrew: “Yashar Ko’akh”

November 14th, 2007, 5:31 pm

 

fadal said:

the US peace conference will be like a temporary, but strong, anaesthetic for the PA to reduce their effectiveness when US and Israel attack Iran. this is history repeating itself before the war with Iraq. syria will go there with or without getting an individual invitation. let them get one first through the Arabs!!!

beleive it or not, the decision to attack Iran is taken and it is only a matter of time before we wake up one morning to the news.

November 14th, 2007, 5:49 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Bashmann,
I whole-heartedely support what AP wrote and would like to add that I admire your courage. Standing up to tyrants is not easy.

November 14th, 2007, 5:50 pm

 

abraham said:

I come back after two weeks and the same batch of people are arguing over the same things with the same misinformed perspectives and the same misguided ideologies.

Akrood Pal-ass linked to MEMRI *and* Daniel Pipes in one posting! If he’d only quoted from Bernard Lewis he’d have accomplished a trifecta!

BAHAHAHAHAHA!

The anti-Semitic Israeli zealots write the same libelous cannards against the Arabs, which receive the same responses they always do. Talk about the definition of insanity. It seems Israelstan breeds insane people. It’s just one big insane asylum of people who think the whole world is out to get them, and then they do terrible things to Palestinians to turn those delusional fears into self-fulfilling prophecy.

What ever happened to Syria’s nascent nuclear program that Israel bombed in a heroic and daring mission?

http://rawstory.com/news/2007/US_Israel_refuse_to_cooperate_with_1114_af.html

November 14th, 2007, 6:10 pm

 

abraham said:

Peter H:

As much as I hate to say it, Akbar Palce does have a valid point.

I’m sorry, have you been here long? I’ve never seen him make a valid point.

As I see it, Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world have very little leverage over Israel. Israel can live quite prosperously with the status quo. It’s going to take some creative strategies to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinians & Syrian land.

Yes, as long as I keep paying my taxes here in the U.S. My taxes are their prosperity. They are the world’s welfare queens.

The way I see it, I OWN Israel and everything they have. And I want my stuff back.

November 14th, 2007, 6:15 pm

 

ausamaa said:

I say ;

It is our belief without a doubt that Syria will liberate the Golan by peace or by force.

November 14th, 2007, 7:36 pm

 

ausamaa said:

P.S.

So would the Lebanese and the Palestinians!

November 14th, 2007, 7:40 pm

 

IsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Flipping Syria may indeed mean different things to different people, however, let me tell you what it means to the vast majority of Israelis, without sugarcoating things or remaining vague.

It means that Syria totally switches sides, which also means that Syria will betray its current allies and will practically stab them in the back.

Now, you may feel that you have an alternative recipe, a one which benefits all sides – which includes NO major Syrian flipping, but just some minor flipping (or even none).

The ‘problem’ is that most Israelis will not agree to accept your recipe.
They have a recipe of their own regarding what’s good for them and what’s not.

We have a situation where the Golan is the ultimate holy grail of the Syrian leadership and people.
The parallel holy grail for Israelis is a 180 degrees Syrian flip (as I described above), which will lead to major geopolitical changes in our region.

If Israel won’t feel it got a good barter, according to its standards – not yours, there will be no deal.
The way I see it, Israel will never give the Golan to Syria for less than a full flip.
Holy grail for holy grail.

You may like it, you may hate it, you may suggest your own alternatives for a full flip, but just as Syria won’t have peace with Israel unless it will get the Golan, Israel will never give the Golan for nothing less than a full flip.

Ausamaa brought an interesting article from Haaretz.
If you’re asking me, here’s the most important piece from it:

“This potential was never translated into an agreement for various reasons, but the root cause was the failure of the Israeli leadership, in its various incarnations, to achieve internal agreement within Israel on a withdrawal from the Golan”.

You see, if most Israelis won’t tell themselves “Hey, this is a great deal and I’d be crazy to reject it” – there won’t be one, regardless of Halevy, Dichter or any other figure who advocates for a deal with Syria.

Breaking the glass ceiling of 35%-40% is extremely difficult.

Almost all of the non Jewish Israelis (Arabs, Druze, Christians, etc) will automatically vote for any peace deal between Israel and Syria – regardless of the actual terms and the specific details.

Then you have the Israeli Zionist left wing (Meretz party supporters).
They will also back ANY deal, anytime

This brings you to about 25%-30% of support – an automatic support that you can expect at any given time, regardless of current events, atmosphere, public mood, etc.

Then, you have SOME of the labor and Kadima parties supporters.
Yep, some of them will also back a deal and vote for it.

So getting 40% is doable, but getting over 40% is pretty difficult (although not impossible).
Getting 50% approval is extremely difficult (and perhaps impossible) but for this to happen, the Israelis will have to think that this is the deal of their lifetime.

If the Israelis won’t get their holy grail, they won’t give Syria’s one either.

Personally, I believe that Syria can’t flip the way the Israeli government(s) and the Israeli public expects it to.
Therefore, I believe that the odds that a deal will actually materialize during the Assad rule are extremely low.

November 14th, 2007, 8:11 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Abraham retorts:

It seems Israelstan breeds insane people. It’s just one big insane asylum of people who think the whole world is out to get them, and then they do terrible things to Palestinians to turn those delusional fears into self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes our Israelstan “delusional fears” are a lie.

Recent history has shown that everyone wants Israel to succeed and thrive, including Abraham;)

Israel at 50

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/jan-june98/israel_4-30.html

Prelude to the Six Days

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/17/AR2007051701976.html

1973: Arab states attack Israeli forces

http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/6/newsid_2514000/2514317.stm

Ahmadinejad: Destroy Israel, End Crisis

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080300629.html

Hezbollah’s unexpected firepower

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/19/news/missile.php

Israel town anger at school attack

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6977346.stm

Abraham adds:

The way I see it, I OWN Israel and everything they have. And I want my stuff back.

If you don’t want your taxes going to Israel (or Eygpt), you’re free to live in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Syria. Just a suggestion.

November 14th, 2007, 9:03 pm

 

abraham said:

If you don’t want your taxes going to Israel (or Eygpt), you’re free to live in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Syria. Just a suggestion.

What an expectedly idiotic reply. It’s easy for you to be so crass and cavalier from your bungalow in Brooklyn, isn’t it? Why don’t you move to Israelstan yourself since I’m paying for it?

[deleted by admin]

November 15th, 2007, 12:09 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Why don’t you move to Israelstan yourself since I’m paying for it?

Abraham,

I’m content with the US, where my taxes go, and life in Brooklyn. I have spent years in beautiful Israelstan, and I plan to return many more times in the future. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t feel like anyone owes me anything.

November 15th, 2007, 11:56 am

 

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