Syrians and Lebanese Respond to Statement that “Syria Needs to Articulate a Clear Lebanon Policy”

Here are the many trenchant and, I believe, representative views of both Syrians and Lebanese to the previous post, in which I wrote: "Syria needs to make a clear statement about its Lebanon policy, explaining on what terms it will normalize relations."

Georges said:

What a bunch of horse manure. Syria no more needs to articulate its long-term position on Lebanon than Egypt needs to articulate a long-term position on Sudan or Saudi Arabia on Qatar. As a Syrian, I reject the very notion, and refuse to continue to prove our innocence over and again. Syria has repeatedly expressed its recognition of Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty, and more recently, its willingness to establish diplomatic relations with Beirut once the current cloud is cleared. Why should Syria go any further? Indeed, she shouldn’t.

During the Lebanese civil war, Syria (unfortunately) intervened in Lebanon at the behest of the Lebanese, and with full diplomatic cover by the Arab League. During that time, Syria had every right to safeguard its national interest when there is a failed state whose war can easily extend to its own territory. It took a little longer for the Syrian government to pull its troops out (we now see the reason why). But, thankfully, we’re OUT now, and Syria is all the better for it – economically and politically.

Three years on, after repeated demands to leave Lebanon alone, Syria is now requested (indeed pressured) to actively intervene to influence one group (who is friendly to it) to vote for a President/Government/Agenda that is hostile to its own national interests. Does anyone see the irony and stupidity here?

In my opinion, Syria should:

1. Refuse ANY attempt to articulate a long-term position on Lebanon beyond the standard recognition of sovereignty when appropriate.

2. Reiterate its willingness to establish full diplomatic relationships, including opening of embassies once the current hostile government refrains from the constant accusations and attacks.

3. Reject any and all calls for intervention or influence with its friends in Lebanon to pass (or block) the vote on President Suleiman or any other agenda. This should be the free choice of the opposition alone. Let demographic (and other factors play out here). Syria can provide moral support based on the position taken by Lebanese players and their consistency with its own national interest.

4. Treat Lebanon as any other state with similar hostile political climate (as exists today), by cutting electricity and fuel subsidies, charging more competitive fees to trucks and transit passing through our territory, as well as reviewing contracts unduly awarded to Lebanese companies.

To me, this is pretty simple, straightforward, and surprisingly normal.

ausamaa said:

No matter how diplomatic we want to be about it and let no one fool himself,; Lebanese “Independence” stops where Syria’s National Security starts.

norman said:

Enlightened one ,

These are my thoughts,

Lebanon has many problems , Syria only kept them under wrap during it’s stay , now that Syria is out everybody is trying to correct the wrong that is practiced in Lebanon , from Christians seeing their representatives elected by Muslims and Shia not having full representation and Sunnies hijacking the government and power and making the Christian presidency a joke ,

The government people try to use Syria as an scapegoat for the lack of political reform that will make the Lebanese feel that they are well represented.

The way i see a solution in Lebanon is to have small districts and have primaries to chose candidates from the opposition and a candidate from the ones in power then have an election to chose one of the two, redistricting could be done by an American university and no matter what the mix of people in these districts , with free movements and anti discrimination laws in housing and jobs , that mix will change having small districts will make it easier for people to elect people they know and like , each county in Lebanon can elect 4 senators to the upper house and like in the US , laws are made after passing by both houses .

The president would be elected by the total population after a primary that will chose the candidates for the opposition and the Government and can be of any religion , the time has come to have real democracy so the people can feel that they can be anything they want if they want to be in politics .

I think Syria just want Lebanon to stop being a tool to attack Syria,
We all know that Syria went into Lebanon because as Hafez Assad said that Jumblat did not want to eat grapes from the vainer he wanted to kill the keeper ( Christians ) and that he could not let happen , so the Lebanese of the government , they do not want to get rid of Syria’s influence in Lebanon they want to destroy Syria and that , the Syrian people will not allow to happen.

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

The realistically cynical view:
– Syria made a huge mistake in assassinating Hariri
– Tried to do damage control by withdrawing from Lebanon
– Tried to reclaim influence through HA
– Is scared beyond reason of the international tribunal convincingly implicating Senior Syrian leaders, and reaching or coming close to Bashar
– All maneuvering by Sryia is driven ultimately by this survival need to dissolve or at least diminish and deflect the tribunal
Hence the insistence on HA’s veto in the Lebanese government, refusal to recognize the tribunal, and all other Syrian positions.

I know I’ll be asked for “proof” etc., as I’ve read in so many posts here. Instead, I ask you to consider that there are 2 possibilities: (1) Syria did kill Hariri and (2) Syria did not kill Hariri.

If (1) is true, all my statements above are validated

If (2) is true, what a lousy defense by Syria to proclaim its innocence. In that case you really have a bumblingly incompetent regime.

Alex said:

When there is a peace settlement between Syria and Israel, Syria will not mind recognizing Lebanese borders and sending an ambassador …etc.

Syria has no secret plans to integrate Lebanon … Ausamma is right, Syrian national security is Syria’s priority … Syria will require guarantees that Lebanon will not be used by anyone against Syria. Syria will probably require a solid guarantee from the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel, that none of them will interfere in Lebanon

That’s all.

The rest will fall in place naturally … Lebanese and Syrian business people will invest in the two neighboring countries almost as if they are one country … there will be a return to warm relations … and the Lebanese will find out that Syria really does not want to send its army back in, and really does not want to destroy their “democracy” … The Lebanese can also expect that “Syria will not be governed against Lebanon” … etc.

ghassan said:

I never seen any Lebanese who likes Lebanon to be part of Syria, even the Hizballah people! Lebanon is an independent country and will never be part of Syria!

I agree with “TheOtherPointOfVieW” that Syria did a big mistake with killing Hariri and someone will pay the price.
Sooner or later the Syrian will wake up and overthrow its Asad Mafia regime. Then Lebanese and Syrian people will live in peace and harmony, and mutual respect.

offended said:

I don’t think we need to philosophize much about Syria’s policy toward Lebanon. It’s too futile at this point of time, me thinks. Simply because Lebanon is changing dynamics. Hence, the Syrian short term policy will have to be dynamic and flexible. Otherwise we’d fall in the trap of committing our self to a plan and then getting trapped within its confinements.

Long term policy? ….. the Al Ba’th party charter says it very clear:

“Arab unity is the ultimate goal of the entire struggle for freedom and independence”

…and I totally agree with it!

Mr President said:

Lebanon is not a nation state. The Lebanese people know that. For you to know that you just have to pass by beautiful and rich Zahleh on your way to a ghetto called Balabek. the Sunnis and Christians robbed the so called Lebanon for so many years for their own self interests. They did that because they never thought and still never thinks that it is a country for everyone. it is really just a collection of warlords and their crowds. Also, economically it cannot sustain itself and survive on its own. It always needed the help of Syria in term of labor force, major food (grain,…), electricity, defense, law and order… also, Syria was and still the shopping center for all the poor people of Lebanon. Hence, Syria provides subsidies to Lebanese poor. That tells you that the two countries are so close and so interconnected. In fact, I have yet to find a Lebanese or Syrian family, yourself included, that does not have major extended networks of cousins and uncles in both countries. Syria is not interfering in Lebanon. It is the Saudis with the help of Bush and the king of Jordan the ones interfering in it. As always the warlords of Lebanon are asking outsiders to come and help them win, by force, against their own Lebanese brothers and sisters. This time the Druze and Sunni warlords of Lebanon ran to the Saudis/Bush to help them steal the country. In return, these warlords are offering to be the center for taking over Syria for the Saudi. …

The solution for Lebanon is One-man One-Vote democracy. Everything else will fall into place between Syria and Lebanon on its own. Just like everything else fell into place for the last couple of hundred years due the strong social, economical, and educational connections between the two areas.

wizart said:

I visited the new, ultra modern and beautiful Lebanese museum at the American University of Beirut recently and looked at the historical map of Lebanon from the early days of the Phoenicians.

What stuck with me is how the country was always reliant on trade to sustain itself and it’s only natural for Lebanon to have an interdependent relationship with the country that surrounds it the most. Let’s not forgot Lebanon until very recently was actually a nice part of Syria before the French decided to divide and concur the area and create a separate Lebanon as an independent state which is very romantic although pretty stupid and unpractical in retrospect. Surely easier to control. Imagine if an imperial Germany or a colonial force had a chance to cut off California from the rest of the union, manufacture false pride, nationalism and hunger for independence among the California population and then wonder why they can’t live in peace and be governed independently!

Cutting off Los Vegas from California is a very bad idea. Cutting off Lebanon from Syria is a far worse idea for both countries.

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

All this talk about Syria withholding the establishment of an embassy in Lebanon until some future event or development is precisely the kind of blatant evidence of Syria’s arrogant hegemony over its smaller neighbor.

“GEORGES” is a proud Syrian nationalist and should be commended for that. So is Norman. Commendation and respect for both. But the fact is that they are blinded by this pride to the point that they fail to have the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the Lebanese. The Lebanese are just as proud and are asking for just as much respect.

“Mr. President” says “Lebanon is not a nation state.”

“Offended” spells it out frankly “Arab unity is the ultimate goal of the entire struggle for freedom and independence.”

You all probably mean well, but you unconsciously dismiss the inevitable momentum of the creation, through evolution, of a new Lebanon, completely severed from Syrian control. This does not mean a Lebanon that is the enemy of Syria, nor a Lebanon that will not deal with Syria. It simply means a Lebanon that will interact with Syria – cooperate, mutually support, jointly develop economic ties – from a position of mutual respect and complete independence.

Until and unless such respect is extended – including the establishment of an embassy and the halting of subversive actions of enabling illegal weapons flow through the border – Lebanon is and should be free to defend itself in the court of world opinion and claim the full airing and accounting of the true culprits in its assassination strings.

The US is treating Syria to no more than Syria is treating Lebanon. At least the US still has an embassy in Syria (even if the ambassador has been withdrawn) and periodic attempts are made by some US politicians (as well as Europeans) to re-connect with Syria. What has Syria done? Persistently insult the democratically elected government of Lebanon and call its Prime Minister a slave.

Georges said:


I am Syrian, and yes, I am proud. I also know and appreciate that a Lebanese (or a person from Mali or Denmark, for that matter) would also be proud of their country. This concept is not lost on me. So, I don’t appreciate you playing a psychologist to decipher what I may be “blinded by”, just because you may have read a couple of newspaper articles.

You got it wrong. I have ABSOLUTELY no problem with Lebanese independence, and I would offer my respect to ANY country and people, near or far, that respects itself. I didn’t want Syrian troops in Lebanon a long time before the assassination of Hariri and don’t want Syria to rule the Lebanese anymore than I want to be ruled by anyone else. That said, I do support a Syrian policy that actively supports those whose agendas and vision is shared by me and my country, particularly when they’re up against another group whose agenda is to spread chaos in my region.

So, I don’t “unconsciously dismiss” the blah blah blah. Please try to read before responding, and stop parroting the same thing. It is you and others who live in this endless paranoia about Syrian hidden designs on Lebanon. I know I speak for a lot of people in Syria who don’t give a damn. I actually mean this nicely. Since our troops’ withdrawal, Syria has adopted more (but not enough) of a Syria-first policy: With even the shy and inadequate reforms that have been made in the last 3 years, billions of dollars have been repatriated into Syrian banks from Lebanon, Syrians are now shopping in Damascus instead of Beirut….and foreign investment has been flowing.

If the Lebanese want my (and others’) respect, they need to demonstrate that they’re worthy of it…or at least that they’re not deserving of me withholding it. Over the last 3 years, they have failed to earn my respect…and I suspect that of so many others, in the region and elsewhere. Among the few characteristics that the Lebanese share with one another is mistrust, suspicion and agency to one foreign country or another against each other. I would not respect that – not in Lebanon…or Somalia!

TheOtherPointOfVieW said:


Thank You! Nothing in what you just wrote is disputed. Nothing. The Lebanese do have a LOT of problems and a LOT of evolution to go through to get their house in order.

The specific policy actions from Syria are what’s at stake:

– arguing against establishing at this time an embassy (the arguments don’t hold water and lead to the suspicions and accusations I level, or more accurately, I forward)

– refraining from controlling the border and hence enabling illegal weapon transfers

– denigrating the government of Lebanon by insulting its Prime Minister

Isn’t that interference? Everyone applauds a Syria-first policy and a strong, competitive, advanced Syria. The re-emergence of Syria as a beacon for the Arab world and culture is celebrated by all except the rotten extremists or bigots on the other end of the spectrum. These will be drowned if/when objectively valid cases are made for Syria. The Syria cultural exposition in Canada a few years ago was a resounding success and lauded by all.
Therein does NOT lie the problem. The problem lies in the actions and positions of the Syrian government vis-a-vis Lebanon.

Qifa Nabki said:

In all seriousness, though, I would invite Georges to consider that almost EVERYTHING that has been said by our Syrian colleagues on this thread could have been said by a Jumblatt supporter on a M14 blog, substituting the word Syria for Lebanon.

The Lebanese aren’t paranoid about Syrian designs on Lebanon. Paranoia implies an undue anxiety about an external threat. These anxieties are not undue! You guys like to imagine that what the Lebanese are worried about are ancient Syrian tanks lumbering back into the Bekaa, and bored 21 year-old Syrian troopers standing guard at checkpoints in the Chouf. This is not the issue.

As Alex said very clearly:

When there is a peace settlement between Syria and Israel, Syria will not mind recognizing Lebanese borders and sending an ambassador …etc.

This is not a secret position, and so the anxiety about it is not undue, and so does not represent paranoia. What Alex is saying is that Syria will continue to exert its control over Lebanon via its proxies until its own objectives are met. Forgive me if I am not thrilled about this, given the track record of the past several decades.

If Syria is serious about peace and about establishing proper diplomatic relations with its neighbors in the context of mutual security guarantees, then it needs to be clear about its policy. Anything less than a stated policy which conforms to reality will not be good enough for the Lebanese. You see, we also have our national security to think about.

And unlike Syria’s national security [which depends overwhelmingly on a Lebanese resistance group], we don’t have anyone but ourselves looking out for our interests.

Anybody who accuses Lebanon of being disconnected from regional realities is completely insane. Lebanon is the epicenter of regional realities. It is also, ironically, the only semi-democractic country in the region. I would prefer that the rest of the region become more like us than the other way around.

And I think the millions of Syrians who work, study, get medical treatment, and go on vacation in Lebanon would agree, deep down.

ausamaa said:


1- Lebanon unfortunately does not have ONE national interest but at least two. Always had. The national interest of almost three quarters of the Lebanese is aligned with Syria’s and the overall Arab cause.

2- You claim:” we don’t have anyone but ourselves looking out for our interests.”

Ecexuse me, but what exactly do you call the continued support and interest of Bush, Olmert, Larsen, Koshner, and King Abdullah in supporting the Feb 14 gang? Not to mention the USS COLE and USS Philippines etc, etc? Unless you realise that they are just using part of the Lebanese chiftains and people to further their own interests which are not necessearily alligned with the intersts of the majority of the Lebanese in the long term.

BTW, since an Embassy is so important to Lebanon’s existance, why ddoesn'taudi have an Embassy in US Occupied Iraq yet? And Syria has repeatedly said an Embassy, a demarcation, and a… whatever would be done but not under pressure from the outside.Bashar al Assad made a State Visit to quell your imagined anexity early during his term, but even that is forgotten. You can not cherry pick what you want from Syria, actually, given the size and nature of both countries, reality dictates that the opposite should be the norm.

So please, realize the relative size and importance of Lebanon and act according to it, and do not keep counting on either drawing the outsiders in to counter-balance Syria’s weight, or to induce temporary additional ppressuresn Syria. It has not worked in the past, it is not working now, and it will not work in the future.

You first define what your policy towards Syria should be. Check it out with three quarters of the Lebanese and obtain their agreement, then take a taxi to DDamascus see what adjustments Syria requiers, integrate those into the plan and then implement a Lebaneses Syrian policy that benifit both. And be very Modest while you at it. Very!

The Prima Donas of the Arab World; Guess who fits this discription best?

Qifa Nabki said:


1- Lebanon unfortunately does not have ONE national interest but at least two. Always had.


The national interest of almost three quarters of the Lebanese is aligned with Syria’s and the overall Arab cause.

Disagree. (And by the way, you equate Syria’s cause with the overall Arab cause. But who’s in the dog house in the Arab world, allying with the Arabs’ current enemy? Yes, you guessed: it’s Syria!)

Excuse me, but what exactly do you call the continued support and interest of Bush, Olmert, Larsen, Koshner, and King Abdullah in supporting the Feb 14 gang?

Actually, amazingly, we agree on this point. Bush and co do not have Lebanon’s best interests at heart. Did he come to Lebanon’s defense while Israel was bombarding us? No. Did Syria? No again. (Syria was offering to sell Hizbullah out, if you believe Alon Liel).

There is no question that we are the prima donnas of the Arab World. Keep fawning secretly… it does wonders for our complexion.

mslevantine said:

This blog is suffering form a serious firehouse syndrom: the same 6 guys convincing each other of strange ideas. Some of my favorites are:

-”Lebanon” has always been part of “Syria” until the nasty Frenchies came along. Has any of you bothered to look at maps of the M-E before making such an elightening comment?

-Lebanon has always been a source of destabilization for Syria: Landis came up with 100 guys training in the Chouf in the 50’s. Any other insights you care to share?

Sorry for disturbing the self-congratulatory ciclejerk.


Qifa Nabki said:

It’s so refreshing to hear the female perspective on things.  🙂

I’m so ashamed.

wizart said:

Ms Levantine,

Merci for bursting some limited circulation bubble here as Mars and Venus do speak different languages sometimes and I appreciate that.

If someone lied to me, and the French never meddled in Syrian/Lebanese politics, please feel free to reorient my views.

Bon Voyage!

Comments (117)

zenobia said:

Isn’t the more accurate history… half way between Wizart and MsLevantine.
I am not sure why she is implying that if you looked at map- what is present day Lebanon was NOT part of greater Syria…. of course it was. And both Syria and Lebanon were part of the French mandate territory, and were subject to french control and decisions.
However, I think it misleading the way a lot of Syrians and others characterize the severing of Lebanon from Syria as some French act that they forced upon the people of Lebanon. To know the full social history of this story probably requires a whole book. But it is clear that the Christians of Lebanon were attempting to separate themselves and were ecstatic about having a separate state…. and they asked and applauded the French separating Lebanon into its own political territory to someday become a full independent state.
they kind of messed up only because they wanted a lot of extra territory besides the mountains… ….. the coast, the bekaa, southern lebanon to all be part of their new lebanon, but they didn’t think about what will be the dynamics between themselves and the non-christian people living in these other areas.

or maybe i should say they assumed that these other lebanese would remain content to be disenfranchised and without equal political power or economic advancement.

Basically, I don’t think Syrians want the Lebanese back in Syria, nor do the Lebanese want to be part of a larger Syria.. As someone else said already… this included HA and even all the groups who seek Syrian support at this time.

But until the Lebanese come up with a new political system that is fair to all in their country, and until the ruling parties and the gov’t agree to power share in a more equitable way – a way that gives the opposition equal power to run the country…. (this has been the issue from the beginning of lebanon)… then these parts of the population will continue to look for support and leverage from Syria and even Iran.

At the same time, it is clear that the Syrian gov’t – will continue to hold on to its influence and benefit from relations with Hezbollah – until it no longer needs the regional leverage it gains from having these alliances.

March 20th, 2008, 6:41 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

The Lebanese are ready to come up with a political system that is fair to all. They are keenly aware of their diversity and are ready to turn it into a strength wile rallying about a single Lebanese identity.
The folks who made the following commercial are Lebanese:

The problem is foreign interference getting in the way of allowing the Lebanese enough breathing room to do so. Syria is first on the list, and it’s true that it is not the only one. To many Lebanese though, it is the most damaging and it is the one (interferor) which, if removed, will yield to a harmonious agreement evolving into the most prosperous true democracy in the ME.

March 20th, 2008, 6:57 pm


zenobia said:

Syria is not blocking any agreement that the opposition has said it was willing to accept and has agreed to.
I have seen no report or news that says that the opposition and the ruling gov’t came to an agreement and that the only problem was Syria objecting to it or preventing it.
And that is the only scenario in which you could blame Syria for ‘interfering’. Or perhaps you could claim that Syria is preventing an agreement from being made. but that is not the case. IF an offer was made that was to the oppositions satisfaction and met their demand, Syria would be very pleased indeed.

the opposition is thusfar unsatisfied with what the ruling coalition has offered. And I haven’t heard that the ruling party has offered the opposition a defined cabinet to go with a president that gives equal representation and veto power…… so…

where is this information that says there has been agreement but if only for Syria butting in to the resolution. It is simply not true.
Nor do i think a US battleship off the coast is the main interference that makes it possible for the ruling party to stubbornly refuse to make concessions to the opposition….but I think that is just as manipulative as anything the Syrians do… to signify or represent their self interest in the outcome.

March 20th, 2008, 7:13 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Maybe the following reasoning is naive, and maybe it’s wrong, but I have to come to believe that it is the KEY concern in the minds and hearts of those in Lebanon who so adamantly are refusing to give in to a veto for the opposition in the government.
The one concern which, if removed, would probably significantly reduce the support for the Lebanese government and M14 position is this:
– Rightly or wrongly, many Lebanese consider the assassination of Hariri and the string of assassinations that followed (and the attempt that preceded it) as being events that determine whether or not there ever will be an independent Lebanon.
– They are convinced (again without irrefutable proof yet) that the Syrian regime is involved in these.
– They believe that the Syrian regime views any proof of its involvement in these assassinations as equally fateful for its future.
– They believe that, given a veto to the opposition, they will act to reverse all options for the tribunal (for example by requesting motions to reject it and paralyzing the country if it’s not passed)
– They believe this plan is payback to Syria for its support of the opposition
– They believe, further, that HA will be used by Syria to fight Israel on Lebanese soil [They sure have evidence that when Lebanon is being destroyed by hostilities with Israel Syria is simply helpless to help]. The Golan front is as quiet as a whisper.
This is why they support the Government and tolerate the extremism that comes with Junblat and Geagea extrapolating this support to vitriolic attacks on Syria. This is only tolerated, not subscribed to, nor supported.
So, with all these considerations, there is a strong belief that Syria is the real agent behind preventing a solution. It is really the tribunal and its implications. It is really the danger the Syrian regime sees in having the big fiasco mistake they may have made in being part of the Hariri assassination come back to have fateful consequences.
That’s it in a nutshell. Even Aoun had indicated early on his belief of the culpability of the Syrians:
Then Aoun “flipped” while maintaining some following through the earlier reputation he had of being honest and straightforward. Maybe true but he has proven himself to be (a) a coward by surrendering in 1990 and accepting exile after having promised to be the last man to leave, and (b) a lunatic blinded by ambition through his willingness to forgive the assassination – whose aftermath M14 revolution enabled him to return.
Whether one agrees with it or not, this is a view held by enough of a majority of Lebanese that the current Government is able to survive despite the subvertive actions of HA.
Put it all together and this line of reasoning explains how Syria is accused by so many of being the real roadblock to a solution in Lebanon.
Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m not weighing in on whether I agree with these positions. My reading, however, tells me they are very strongly held by many inside and outside Lebanon.

March 20th, 2008, 8:31 pm


why-discuss said:


The Museum at the American University of Beirut. You know who is the curator? a syrian lady..

March 20th, 2008, 8:54 pm


ausamaa said:

Do we Syrians and Lebanese have to get into such arguments, counter arguments, poisoness accusations and justifications?

Are things not simple enough? When every one have finished using part of the Lebanese “system” to their own benifit, only two lone Players will remain in the field: The Syrian and The Lebanese People.

Apart from History, Language, Social Ties and Economics, at least Geography is a very difficult thing to change, can we not try to learn to live with its dictates.

March 20th, 2008, 9:33 pm


zenobia said:

these are certainly the consideration of many people. whether that is most lebanese is another question. i found in my own experience….within Sunni lebanese – families where the different members of the family had completely contrasting sentiments.
it is that complicated.

i think there is little question that most Lebanese (therefore including many Shia) are opposed to the Syrians having political power in lebanon. They want this to be an internal fight.
but, it is i believe hard to know what is motivating on a deep level…as the most important thing….for two reasons. Nobody knows for certain how culpable the Syrians are in the assassination of H. We may only be able to say with some certainty what was motivating everyone…. when we can have hindsight.

Second, it is impossible to say convincingly that the main reason that HA and the opposition is primarily interested in having veto is for the purpose of circumventing the tribunal….if in fact there is a historical reality of a political power imbalance that has existed since the beginning of Lebanon as a State… and is only now being challenged by the fact that a large sector of the population has now created a political demand backed by the threat of force. (although they thankfully have not used that force of weapons in a direct way against their own government or the M14)
It seems to me that this problem with the system and the political tradition in Lebanon has to be rectified and massively reformed in order to really see clearly what is happening and to have credibility to any accusations that this is all about outside influences. We all know that there are outside actors…but if the system is not fixed….every accusation loses credibility and there is no clarity as to who is actually spoiling progress.

finally, i find it unconvincing to talk about Syria using HA to fight Israel.
Syrians certainly take pleasure in HA’s power to resist Israel and provoke it.
however, Syria itself has no intention of committing suicide to fight Israel. And at the same time- Hezbollah came into being and grew – precisely in response to Israeli occupation and aggression. so, it is hard to point to Syria as if it is controlling HA. It is not.
Even if Syria made a peace agreement with Israel tomorrow, that does not mean that Hezbollah will cease to be in conflict with Israel.
It would be a very interesting situation indeed. and I can hardly imagine it. but it is clear to me that the actual people of South Lebanon are not taking their orders from Syria.
They have their own feelings of not wanting to make peace with Israel that will last a long time. And for good reason are they wanting their political representatives to prevent (and have the power to prevent) any peace treaties between Israel and Lebanon.
In that regard- I would love to know what percentage of the population as a whole is interested in peace with Israel.

I once heard Charlie Rose say something to Dennis Ross to the effect that if these other conflicts were resolved with Syria and such and such… then well “of course”…Lebanon would have “no problem” to have a treaty with Israel… as if this was a no-brainer. I was completely confused by that.
I didn’t meet any Lebanese…including Christian lebanese who were talking about their enthusiasm for peace with the Israelis. And on a social level -they certainly seemed as racist as anyone else in the middle east… against the ‘jews’….who as one Christian soldier told me… matter of factly… ‘are back stabbers’ who ‘killed jesus’….

March 20th, 2008, 9:33 pm


Naji said:


Naji said:

…”self-congratulatory ciclejerk”…!! Wow…, I wonder how long has this naughty levantine miss been voyeuristically lurking there…??!

Georges has given as rational, obvious, and self-evident a position as can possibly be given on this subject. Indeed, the rest is mostly all jerking off, but I don’t understand why Ms Levantine has to be so judgmental and derogatory about that…!? She could just avert her gaze…! One often has to…!

…and look who else is here: …the coolest Wiz, young QN, and honest TOPOV…!! It’s alright…!

Happy Mo’s B-day, Mom’s Day, Nairuz, Purim, Easter, …whatever… Happy Spring Equinox to all…!

Btw, …don’t you think that the oriental focus on celebrating the resurrection of the Christ is much more hopeful than the rather morbid occidental obsession with the crucifixion…?! As the “birthplace of [western] civilization”, perhaps our little corner could also be the place of its re-birth…!?

March 20th, 2008, 9:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Simple question that could help clarify Syria’s view of Lebanon:
Why won’t Syria officially declare that Sheba farms are Lebanese? Why won’t it send a letter to this effect to the UN?

March 20th, 2008, 10:13 pm


Friend in America said:

The comments Joshua posted is the best articulation of the S-L problems I have read in years. I ask a point of clarifacation:

Ausamaa –
I take it the common thread (the driving concern) in Syria’s policies as expressed here is national security. Assurances of Syria’s security (in form of a treaty I suppose) would be needed from Arab countries, Israel, U.S., France and maybe others. Does Syria’s national security also require dismissal of the Hairiri assassination?

It is clear that to get these countries as signatories, Lebanon’s security would have to be included and Hezbollah (as a NGO) will have to assure Israel its security on the Lebanonese border and agree to disarm. Is this obtainable?

March 20th, 2008, 10:35 pm


norman said:


Security for all is good and that is called peace which is Syria’s goal and should be the goal of the US for our own long term interest,

About Hariri assassination , Syria does not care and actually wants the investigation to continue , What Syria fears is using the investigation and fabricate the evidence to blame Syria as they did as you must agree to blame Iraq for 9/11 and AL qaeda , weapon of mass destruction only to justify a war that is bankrupting the US and making us enemies in the Mideast.

March 20th, 2008, 11:46 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

AIG – for some reason what is so blantantly obvious to some of us (refusal to assign Shebaa to Lebanon, refusal to establish an embassy [even if they would temporarily withdraw the ambassador]) as a sign of guilt and an active role in perpetuating conflict in Lebanon is dismissed by many here and rationalized in ways that vindicate the Syrian regime and assign it the best of intentions and the cleanest of records. It does not compute for me and many others, but then again I have no emotional attachment whatsoever to Syria and so I’m not blinded by a higher loyalty calling.

Let’s take for example Norman’s argument that Syria has legitmate fears from a subversion of the Hariri investigation and tribunal:
“What Syria fears is using the investigation and fabricate the evidence to blame Syria as they did as you must agree to blame Iraq for 9/11 and AL qaeda , weapon of mass destruction only to justify a war that is bankrupting the US and making us enemies in the Mideast.”

I’m sure Norman is sincere and really finds justification for the Syrian regime in having such fears. But I ask: is this fear logical or is it simply phobia? I argue the latter on behalf of Norman. But only on behalf of Norman. I argue that the Syrian regime fears are grounded in a much more sinister reason: culpability at some level, which level is TBD.

“Fabricate evidence” ? Who, may I ask, is going to do the fabricating? The UN investigators? Doctored satellite photos?

I find it amusing that so obvious a game is being bought lock, stock and barrel by so many. But then again, ok, let’s not put the cart before the horse. Wait for the evidence. Never mind the obvious conclusions by Mehlis. To many, even if the Syrian regime was behind the Hariri murder, well, too bad, that’s how things happen sometimes. WRONG. Not this time. There is concordance of circumstances here that elevate this political mistake to a much higher deterministic level. Those responsible know it. Behind the facade of calm and serenity portrayed by the jolly Syrian foreign minister is a dark fear, powerful, deep, all-consuming.

It is this fear that drove Bashar to call Siniora a slave. Yes, this was denounced by many here who otherwise support Bashar, but they also cited that supporters of Siniora similarly insult the Syrian regime. Well, maybe, but not Siniora. Emerging from the rough as a true statesman and a shining diamond, Siniora, by any objective observer’s assessment, is someone who commands the respect of every decent person worldwide, whether politically influential or just a simple citizen.

March 21st, 2008, 1:03 am


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

The assassinations happened. The perpetrators should be brought to justice, whoever they are.

What does the Syrian regime find faulty in the following?

March 21st, 2008, 1:13 am


Zenobia said:

saying that someone who is guilty acts like Syria and that someone who is innocent would defend themselves… doesn’t constitute ‘evidence’ either.
think of the Saddam situation..just in terms of the issue of the WMD. Here, he had everyone accusing him, and he just kept bluffing in some sense…or not defending himself, or not showing his hand.
And after the WMD couldn’t be found… people said ‘why didn’t he act more proactive to show what they had…cause he was acting guilty’ in some sense.
but the truth is…that he underestimated the US gov’t and he felt he needed to continue to appear very strong. There are other dynamics at play as well.
but i think the Syrian gov’t is very similar, and i have said so before in regard to the response..or lack of response to the Israeli bombing of the facility.
there is a lot of pride and bluffing and refusal to bow to a demand to defend one’s self. I think they see it as a big F U.. to say, no, you (the west and Israel) started this.. and we aren’t going to play ball or defend ourselves. … It is actually a correct stance to take.. innocent until proven guilty.. accept that they might get their ass kicked before any proof is provided.
I personally hope the tribunal now goes forward at this point, if only to get an end to the annoying accusations and denials and guessing and claims of certainty…. the truth is better at this point, no matter what it is.
but it had better be the truth. It has to have credibility internationally. and then we can all say …and so??

Until then, i think it is ridiculous to speculate and assume anything.. because you are drawing all further conclusions about Syria’s motivations on something that we don’t know for sure.

If it is all so ‘obvious’, then why hasn’t the UN investigation put anything definitive on the table… ? if it is going to take years to establish anything….then it isn’t ‘obvious’ what the thing is going to reveal if it can reveal anything….

i think what Norman is saying is that there is severe mistrust on all sides… and a significant reality was that the US administration has already in some instances twisted evidence or presented the parts of evidence that serves a political purpose etc etc…. and not been fair in their assessments of evidence.
the state department is guilty, the intelligence community has been guilty, and the administration has been guilty of this… in the past.
Again, language comes into play. “Evidence” sounds so concrete and definitive, however, many kinds of evidence are based on someone’s interpretation of data, and/or on testimony. and someone decides which testimony to enter or not and whether something has enough credibility to be used. on and on. so.. these decisions are not just based on FACTS, as you like to say.. they are open for manipulation and potential bias.
that is the understanding everywhere and in the Middle East. They are understandably skeptical…as well as being of a paranoid type mindset, conspiracy theories being the norm.

and yes, eventually, the facts can be revealed…but as in the case of the Iraq war and the WMD, the true facts get revealed too late for anyone to reverse the course of action if they want to (the congress i mean who now say they would not have authorized the war given subsequent information)… they are stuck with it…
so, when we are talking about potential military actions or bringing down a gov’t over ‘evidence’ collected… by any bias party… i think it is a very dangerous situation.

thankfully, at least we are talking about European investigators and the United Nations… who i think are less biased or perceived to be less biased than the US gov’t. However, the UN security council is still powered in large part by the USA and therefore…has less credibility. After all, it wasn’t the entire UN that authorized this tribunal. It was only certain members…so this is a problem when we talk about impartiality and therefore credibility.

March 21st, 2008, 2:10 am


Enlightened said:


Just got through reading the posts, Il have my easter lunch and post a response later on in the evening.

Whatever you might be celebrating from easter to Nayrouz, enjoy your day.

March 21st, 2008, 2:23 am


Friend in America said:

Norman –
All on this site could debate whether Syria’s fear of “illegitimate” evidence is valid, but I see no constructive benefit in doing so and I do not encourage it. It is not that the international tribunal is without procedures or precedent. The Justices are open to requests for changes in procedure. If there is a lack of confidence in its objectivity, it is time to express that concern as Syria’s only objection and be willing to participate in an examination with the world. One of the few things I can assure is that the U.S. government nor France will have any participation. It will be up to the Justices as individuals.
As shown in the Serbian trials the Justices are selected from all around the world and are independent, even from the United Nations. But it’s not for me to persuade. May I encourage some progress on this issue?

March 21st, 2008, 2:40 am


norman said:


Believe or not I have more faith in the American justice system than international judges who will be obliged to their prospective governments and their relation with the American government , while the American court is in the US ,It is not under the thumb of the American government and that is the difference.

March 21st, 2008, 3:00 am


why-discuss said:

“Emerging from the rough as a true statesman and a shining diamond, Siniora, by any objective observer’s assessment, is someone who commands the respect of every decent person worldwide, whether politically influential or just a simple citizen.”

I am sorry to disagree. Siniora is a good accountant but certainly not a good prime minsiter. He is very confused and made mostly wrong decisions. He has no charisma at all and is surrounded by arrogant and stubborn people who have a strong influence on him. His obedience to the infamous Rice and his tears during the July war will mark him forever as a pathetic US puppet.

March 21st, 2008, 3:36 am


Qifa Nabki said:

TOPOV said:

Emerging from the rough as a true statesman and a shining diamond, Siniora, by any objective observer’s assessment, is someone who commands the respect of every decent person worldwide, whether politically influential or just a simple citizen.

TOPOV, you’ve just outed yourself!

HP, come out from behind the mask!

March 21st, 2008, 5:41 am


ausamaa said:

Just another point of view by Ali Salman from

لا.. ليس خلافا سوريا سعوديا

شعور غريب يتملكك وانت في الطائرة تحلق فوق ارض الجزيرة العربية رغم رتابة المشهد الصحراوي الا انك تشعر ان هناك رابط ما يربطك بتلك الارض بكل ما تحمله من معاني وذكريات كيف لا وهذه الارض المباركة هي التي حملت راية التوحيد تشعر ان لكل حبة رمل حكاية فتفاصيل هذه الارض محفورة في ذاكرتنا نعرف مدنها رغم ان اقدامنا لم تطاؤها يوما تلك الاحاسيس يتشارك فيها كل من انتمى الى الاسلام دينا من اي جنسية كان عربيا او اعجميا اوربيا او امريكيا رابط خفي تجعل الانظار دائما تتجه الى تلك البقعة المميزة . لا بد ان اهل الجزيرة يعرفون تماما كم يحمل المسلمين من حب لهذه الارض ويحز في نفوسهم انه رغم كل تلك الجاذبية الا ان اهل الجزيرة لم يستطيعوا يوما توظيف تلك الاحاسيس الفياضة في مشروع قيادي على مستوى الامة حيث وبعد وفاة النبي الاكرم بقليل تناوبت على قيادة الامة ثلاث عواصم هي دمشق بغداد والآستانة واصبحت بلاد الجزيرة العربية مجرد ملحق صغير في امبرطوريات شاسعة دون ان يكون لها اي تاثير في مسار الاحداث .

لم يكن الشريف حسين الا واحد من رجالات الجزيرة الذين شعروا ان الغبن الذي لحق باهلها لا بد ان يرفع وان يعود الحق لاصحابه وخاصة انه من ذرية الرسول الكريم وانتهت الثورة العربية مجرد امارة فقيرة في شرق الاردن فرفع آل سعود من بعدهم راية التوحيد ولكن اتفاقيات سايكس بيكو اجبرتهم على عدم تجاوز الخطوط الحمر التي فرضتها الدول الكبرى آنذاك الى ان تم اكتشاف النفط والذي تزامن مع اشتعال الحرب الباردة مما سمح للسعودية ان تمتلك حيزا من الحرية في ان يكون لها سياساتها الخاصة وان كانت في الاغلب متناغمة مع بريطانيا ومن ثم امريكا .

وفرة المال من جهة والبعد الديني للمملكة سمح لها بالنفوذ الى المجتمعات العربية الاخرى حيث شكل موسم الحج فرصة ذهبية لنسج علاقات عديدة مع قوى اساسية وشعبية ولكن المزاج الشعبي العام لم يكن مستعدا للقبول بدولة دينية حيث ان ذكريات المرحلة العثمانية ما زالت راسخة في اذهانهم اضف الى ذلك بروز الحركات الاشتراكية والعلمانية والشيوعية التي انتشرت في مختلف البلاد العربية انتشارا واسعا فاهتزت العروش وشعر السعوديون ان الخطر اصبح داهما .

لم يكن عبد الناصر الا شاب صغير ومن عامة الشعب يصل الى الموقع الاول في بلده ليقود مصر بكل ما تحمله من بعد ثقافي وفكري وفني تمتع الرجل بكاريزمية ساحرة ومميزة دون اغفال ان النهضة السينمائية والفنية والادبية قد لعبت دورا مهما واساسيا في الترويج للفكر الناصري فكان صوت حليم وثومة يلهب الجماهير من المحيط الى الخليج فتمكن ناصر من ان يجعل من القاهرة العاصمة الرابعة في سلسلة العواصم التي حكمت او تحكمت بالامة . كتم السعوديون غيظهم على عبد الناصر الذي بلغ تاثيره ان ظهر في العائلة نفسها تنظيم الامراء الاحرار الذي تبنى بالكامل طروحات ونظريات عبد الناصر فبدات حرب ضروس ابتدا من اليمن وليس انتهاء باقناع شمس البارودي بلبس النقاب واعتزال الفن .

لم يكن عصر الفضائيات قد بدا فكان الفنانون والفنانات يملكون تاثير كبيرا في مجتمعاتنا العربية لقد درس السعوديون جيدا نقاط ضعف وقوة مصر ولكن كما اسلفنا كاريزمية الزعيم جمال عبد الناصر منعتهم من تحقيق اي اختراق الى ان سمح السادات لتلك الماكينة الدينية الضخمة في الولوج الى المجتمع المصري الذي كان معروف عنه تدينه ولكن بدون تزمت وكلنا يذكر شركات جمع الاموال التي نهبت المليارات من ابناء مصر وتعرف المصريون لاول المرة على زبيبة الصلاة التي اصبحت الطريقة الفضلى لشفط اموال الناس دون ان ننسى كيف بدأ مسلسل اعتزال الفنانات وكيف انتشرت شرائط الكاسيت التي تتحدث عن عذاب القبور كان شكل مصر قد بدأ بالتغير لقد احدث استخدام المال الديني انقلابا في المفاهيم واصبح التزلف للسعودية وتوابعها الطريق الاسرع للكسب والترزق وترويج الافكار السلفية بين العموم ودخلت مصر في صراع مرير بين اصولية دينية متزمتة ولكن مؤيدة لامريكا في البداية والسبب العداء المشترك لدولة السوفيات الملحدة وليبرالية متامركة هي ايضا وانكفات مصر عن لعب اي دور واصبحت درة الشرق القاهرة مجرد عاصمة متواضعة لدولة فقدت بريقها وقدرتها على ان تكون دولة رائدة وجائت اتفاقيات كمب ديفيد لتزيد من تقوقع مصر وان تصبح فعليا فاقدة للقدرة على خلق اي تغيير في محيطها ولكن ما يثير الدهشة حقيقة ان حليف الشيوعيين عبد الناصر كان معاديا لاسرائيل اكثر بكثير من خليفته الرئيس المؤمن السادات

كانت دول المشرق العربي بنظمها العلمانية سدا منيعا في وجه الحركات السلفية الوهابية التي اعتبرت ان تلك الانظمة ما هي الا بوكيل لأصيل هو القطب العالمي الثاني اي الاتحاد السوفياتي فتقاطعت المصلحة السعودية مع المصلحة الامريكية في حسم الصراع لصالحها وكانت المفاجآة الكبرى ان الوهابية وجدت في شعوب باكستان وافغانستان التي تحمل الكثير من الود للاسلام والمسلمين ارضا خصبة للتمدد والسيطرة على عكس بلاد المشرق العربي التي لم تكن تنظر الى الخليجي الا في اطار الصورة النمطية عن البدوي محدث النعمة والباحث الابدي عن المتعة كان يكفي ان يتكنى البعض منهم باسم احد الصحابة ليسطع نجمه في تلك البلاد ففتحت مكاتب دعم المجاهدين في كل انحاء الجزيرة العربية وبدأ الالاف من المتطوعين زحفهم المبارك لنصرة الدين حرب لم تنته الا بافول نجم الروس وانهيار دولتهم .

لا بد من دراسة تلك المرحلة بكل تأن فهي بحق مرحلة محورية كان لها الاثر الكبير على مجمل الاوضاع في منطقتنا وخاصة انها كانت بداية لتشكيل مدرسة فكرية وجدت ان مشاكل المسلمين ليست فقط محصورة في فلسطين لا بل ان القضية الفلسطينية هي مجرد تفصيل حيث ان امة الاسلام تواجه حربا ضروس في جبهات متعددة وكان تبني السعودية لتلك المجموعات حجة تعفيها من المساهمة في الصراع العربي الاسرائيلي حيث ان لديها مهمات شائكة بحكم تقلها الاسلامي وان افغانستان والشيشان وغيرها لها نفس الاولية في الاجندة السياسية السعودية وخاصة انها لم تعد تطيق تلك الفوقية التي مورست عليها من قبل النظم العلمانية العربية التي كانت لا تطلب الا المال دون ان تسمح لها باي دور سياسي او قيادي او فكري لا بل ان تلك الدول نعتبر ان السعودية وتوابعها ما هي الا مجرد نظم رجعية متخلفة انتهت صلاحيتها منذ امد بعيد .

كانت العلاقات بين امريكا او الغرب والنظم الاسلامية المتحالفة معها استراتيجية لدرجة ان الهند الهندوسية كانت اقرب لدول عربية مسلمة مثل العراق ومصر وسوريا من باكستان المسلمة ولكن انتصار الثورة الاسلامية الايرانية قلب الموازين كلها وخاصة ان النظام الجديد تبنى فكرا اسلاميا متشددا اي يشبه تلك النظم الاسلامية ويستخدم نفس شعاراتها ولكنه اعاد توجيه البوصلة بشكل رئيسي الى فلسطين والصراع مع اليهود ارتعد الخليج رعبا من تلك الثورة المنفلتة وكان الاصعب هو عدم القدرة على المزايدة عليها اسلاميا كما فعلوا مع الدول العلمانية فليس بالامكان ان يتهموا تلك الثورة بالتشدد مثلا او التزمت او الالحادية او انها خارج العصر لانهم عندها سيصبحون مادة للسخرية والتندر بسبب انهم هم الاوائل في تبني تلك الافكار ولكن لاهداف أخرى تختلف كليا عما طرحته تورة ايران . لقد جائت الثورة بتوقيت قاتل بالنسبة للمشروع الامريكي الذي كان يتحضر لتسديد ضربات موجعة للسوفيات عبر تحريك الاصوليات المسيحية والاسلامية في البلدان الواقعة ضمن ما كان يسمى الكتلة الشرقية فكان لا بد من حل ما مع ايران التي اعتبرت كحالة شاذة عن تلك النظم الاسلامية المتحالفة مع امريكا

بغداد ودمشق عاصمتان عربيتان لدولتين لو قدر للميثاق الوحدوي الذي كان سيجعل منهم دولة واحدة ان يبصر النور لتغيرت الخارطة العربية كلها ولكن انقلاب صدام حسين اجهض تلك الوحدة لا بد ان السعوديون قد تنفسوا الصعداء فمصر في خبر كان معزولة ومنعزلة وسوريا منهكة يصراعات داخلية وخارجية في لبنان اما العراق فها هو يتحضر لبدء حربه الضروس مع ايران كانت الساحة قد اصبحت خالية تماما للسعودية ولاول مرة نسمع عن فكرة سعودية اومشروع سعودي اسمه مشروع الامير فهد للسلام مع اسرائيل مر المشروع دون اي معارضة فعرفات لا يستطيع ان يستغني عن الدعم المالي السعودي والعراق بحاجة للاموال في حربه مع ايران وكذلك الامر في سوريا رضخت تلك الدول لاول مرة منذ 1400سنة لمشروع قادم من تلك الجزيرة عينها وبدأ الكلام عن دور السعودية الاساسي في المنطقة العربية دورا سيتعزز حتما مع اشتداد الضغط الايراني على العراق فكان للسعودية الدور الاساسي في تامين مستلزمات الدعم لصدام والذي تمكن اخيرا من هزيمة ايران وانهاكها فاعلن الخميني قبوله الهدنة واصفا ذلك القبول كمن يتجرع السم .

ما لم يكن في الحسبان ابدا ان صدام قد جير النصر لنفسه الشارع العربي بغالبيته الساحقة اعتبره بطلا وقائدا عظيما لعاصمة اعظم هي بغداد ومرة اخرى يشعر السعوديون بالحزن والانكسار فالنصر لم يكن ليتحقق لولا عشرات المليارات التي دفعت لصدام ولكن كالعادة العرب وخاصة المشرقيين لهم راي آخر سطع نجم صدام وخاصة عندما نطق بالجملة السحرية ( ترى انا هالسع احرق نص اسرائيل )جن جنون الجماهير العربية ومشت خلف ابو عدي بثقة وايمان مطلق بقدرته على تحرير فلسطين .ولكن اسعار النفط اصبحت في الحضيض ودول الخليج الناقمة من استهزاء صدام بها تطالبه بسداد ديونه الاقتصاد العراقي يترنح و السفيرة الاميريكية تعتبر ان الخلافات العربية شان داخلي ……….

امير الكويت يدعو العالم لتحرير بلده السعودية مرتعبة وجدت نفسها لاول مرة مهددة بوجودها كنظام ودولة , اليمن والاردن(!!!!!) والسودان وفلسطين ومن خلفهم غالبية الشعوب العربية ايدت صدام لم ينفع كل مال السعودية والخليج الذي اغدق على تلك الدول البعض يتكلم عن قدر محتوم لم يعد ينقص السعوديون الا القول كالاميركان لماذا يكرهوننا . ولكن الحقيقة تقال ان توريط صدام بغزو الكويت لم يكن الا في سياق مشروع وضع اليد الامريكية بالكامل على المنطقة واعلان مبكر لانتهاء الدور السعودي الذي لم يبدأ بعد وخاصة ان الغرض منه قد تحقق وها هي امريكا المنتصرة في الحرب الباردة تاتي بنفسها مزهوة وتضع يدها على منطقة الخليج بالكامل . وانتهى صدام محاصرا معزولا يتسابق رؤساء امريكا على توجيه الضربات له كلما تطلب الامر استعراض ما للقوة .

كان لا بد ان ينتهي الدور السعودي تماما وخاصة ان منفذي اعتداءات ايلول بغالبيتهم العظمى سعودييون فتم طرد نفوذها من آسيا الوسطى بعد ان تبين لامريكا انه لم يعد له اي تأثير هناك لا بل ان الفكر السلفي الوهابي انقلب عليها واصبح له مشروعه الخاص . المطلوب الآن تغيير المناهج بكاملها ما دأبت السعودية على ترويجه لاكثر من نصف قرن يجب ان يتغير على الفور اصبحنا نسمع في امريكا من يطالب بقصف الكعبة وتدميرها مشهد يثير الرثاء فضائيات السعودية اصبحت كالبطة العرجاء دين ورقص وفقش وفتاوي ودعاة مودرن واغاني وعري وعود على بدء ( تجري مفاوضات لاقناع شمس البارودي بتقديم احد البرامج ) ولكن دون جدوى المطلوب تغيير بالكامل ولكن لا بد ان يكون هناك حل ما يلمع اسم بندر بن سلطان يترك منصبه ويعود الى بلده ستلعب السعودية احد اخطر ادوارها على الاطلاق .

يقول جوني عبدو رئيس المخابرات اللبنانية السابق والصديق الحميم لرفيق الحريري في مقابلة له على ال بي سي ان الاخير قبل شهرين من وفاته سقط ميتا توقف قلبه ولكنه اسعف في اللحظة الاخيرة لقد شائت العناية الالهية ان يموت على ارضه لينقذ بدمائه لبنان ويحرره . انتهى الاقتباس.

سيكون للجهادية الوهابية وظيفة جديدة بعد اغتيال الحريري فبعد ان نجحت في تشتيت المقاومة العراقية عبر استهداف المدنيين مما افقد تلك المقاومة الدعم الشعبي المطلوب لنجاح اي مقاومة وجدت في لبنان ارضا خصبة لتسعير الخلافات المذهبية السنية والشيعية فظهر تنظيم فتح الاسلام بهدف اوحد خلق جهادية سنية منافسة للجهادية الشيعية كمدخل لاشعال نار فتنة شبيهة بتلك التي حدثت في العراق وتكون النتيجة القضاء على الجهاديتين ولكن تدخل ما في جينات ذلك التنظيم حول مسار الامور الى وجهة اخرى وعندما انفضح امر ذلك التنظيم وتاكد ممولينه انه خارج عن سيطرتهم المباشرة تحول الامر الى ما يشبه الفضيحة فتم تدمير المخيم على رؤوسهم وتم تحميل سوريا المسؤولية بالكامل وجن جنون السعودية كيف لا وسوريا اصبحت تمثل محورا اصوليا جهاديا في وجه ما سمي محور الاعتدال العربي ومرة اخرى تجد نفسها السعودية ان دورها وقيادتها للمنطقة مهددة فهي تواجه نظام علماني في الظاهر ولكنه داعم وبقوة لجهاديات اصولية تعتبر السعودية انها هي الوحيدة صاحبة الامتياز او الملكية الفكرية لهكذا جهاد وهي الوحيدة التي تمتلك حق اختيار ساحة المعركة واهدافها والتي كانت في الاغلب خارج الصراع العربي الاسرائيلي .

العالم العربي ليس منقسما بين محورين سوري وسعودي كما يشيع البعض المسالة كلها ان السعودية تجد انها فرصتها الاخيرة لاعادة انتاج دور لها دور يحميها من السقوط ويعيد ثقة امريكا باهمية نظامها بعد كارثة 11 ايلول وليس افضل لها من ان تلعب دورا لم يجروء نظام عربي على تبنيه الا وهو اعلان الحرب على كل قوة ممانعة في هذه الامة بحجة محاربة النفوذ الايراني لتمهيد الارضية لاقامة سلام مع اسرائيل يعيد خلط الاوراق نحو صراع آخر عنوانه حرب مذهبية مع ايران نقطة البداية كانت لبنان عبر محاولة ضرب مقاومته ولكن انتصار تموز اجهض تلك المحاولة اكتشفت السعودية ان الحاضن الاكبر لتلك المقاومات المختلفة هو النظام السوري وهذا هو جوهر الاختلاف السعودية لا يعنيها ديكتاتورية النظام او ديمقراطيته او احترامه لحقوق الانسان ما يعنيها بالتحديد هو اصرار هذا النظام على تبني مفاهيم تعيق عملية التمذهب الجارية على قدم وساق وعبر ضخ المليارات من الدولارت في انتاج ثقافة تقول ان ايران هي الخطر الاساسي وليس اسرائيل ومن الاقدر على تاكيد ذلك الا الفلسطينيون انفسهم ومن هنا تلك النقمة السعودية على حكومة حماس ودعمها لمحمود عباس ولكن هل نجحت تلك المحاولة . لا بد ان القادة السعوديين كان واجمين وهم يشاهدون اعلام حزب الله ترتفع فوق خيمة عزاء الشهيد علاء ابو دهيم .

لا بد ان يعرف السعوديون ان في داخل كل انسان عربي بوصلة قادر من خلالها ان يميز بين من يبيع دمه للحفاظ على كرامته والثبات على مواقفه وبين من يظن انه قادر ان يشتري الكرامة ببرميل نفط اسود او بمقالة صحافية مسبقة الدفع لا ندعي اننا كنا منزهبن عن الاخطاء لا بل ارتكبنا كوارث ولكن الا يسالوا انفسهم دول الخليج العربي لماذا هم مكروهين , يقولون ان السبب هو انهم اغنياء ونحن فقراء حقد طبقي ولكن اليس القذافي غنيا هو الآخر لماذا رغم كل المآخذ عليه اكثر شعبية عندنا من بندر بن سلطان وابيه وعمه . لم يكن جمال عبد الناصر هذا المفكر الملهم ولكن هل يستطيع هؤلاء ان ينكروا اننا بكيناه دما حتى صدام حسين واريد هنا ان اذكر قصة غريبة جدا ابان حرب تحرير الكويت كان بجانبي صديق كويتي وكان يرقص من الفرح لتحرير بلده كانت السي ان ان هي نجمة الحرب آنذاك ظهر عليها بعض الجنود العراقيين يرفعون الرايات البيض ويركعون امام المارينز مقبلين اقدامهم فاذا بصديقي الكويتي تذهب فرحته و يهز راسه متحسرا قائلا ( الله يغربلك يا صدام بهدلت العرب ) رغم ان الامريكيين يحررون ارضه الا انه شعر ان شيئا ما في داخله يهزم ويكسر هل فهمتهم مشاعرنا نحن لسنا مطبلين لانظمة او مهاجمين بشكل اعمى لانظمة اخرى المسالة ببساطة اننا لا نصدق ان السعودية تكدس سلاحها لتحارب به اعداء الامة لا نصدق ان صفقة اليمامة لتحرير القدس وصفقة القرن لتحرير العراق وان طائرات الاواكس التي اشترتها السعودية في اوائل الثمانينات لم تكن الا لتغطية ضرب المفاعل تموز العراقي حيث ان الرادارات المخصصة للضباط السعوديين لم تظهر الا جمال عابرة للصحراء بدل الطائرات الاسرائيلية لا نستطيع ان نصدق ان حزب الله هو معادي للامة العربية لان ايران تدعمه وهي بلد رافضي صدقنا في السابق انه علينا ان نكون مع امريكا لان روسيا بلد ملحد ومن يتحالف معها يكون ملحدا هو الاخر لذلك صلى البعض ركعتين حمدا وشكرا مع الوهابي محمد متولي الشعراوي لهزيمة عبد الناصر الشيوعي الكافر في حرب 67 وحتى لو كان من انتصر علبه هم اشد كفرا( وفخار يكسر بعضه) ولكن ما الحجة اليوم روسيا اصبحت اكثر مسيحية من امريكا فلماذا لا نكون معها على الاقل هي المزود الاول لنا بالسلاح الذي يمكننا ان نقاتل اسرائيل به وليس مخزنا في مستودعاتنا بحراسة امريكية وبشرط ابدي ان لا يوجه لاسرائيل المسالة ليست غرام وانتقام او حب وكره المسالة ليست شيعي او سني او زيدي او اباضي هي بكل بساطة انكم لستم فقط تابعين لامريكا بل شركاء حقيقيون بمشروعها للهيمنة على المنطقة وضرب اي محاولة للنهوض بالامة اما بلاد الشام ففيها شعب لا يختلف ابدا عن بقية الشعب العربي الشريف ولكننا نحن في عين المعركة لحمنا منشور ودمائنا تفور على ارضنا المقاوم والخائن , المستسلم والصامد, المحب للحياة اي حياة والكاره لحياة الذل والهوان , نساؤنا تقتل واطفالنا تذبح لا نطلب من اخواننا العرب لا الدعم ولا حتى الصلاة لنا ولو في قلوبهم ولكن لا يتآمروا علينا لا يزيدوا من خلافاتنا باموالهم لان بلادنا ليست كبلادهم ففيها التنوع الديني الطائفي والمذهبي تنوع يغنيها ويعطيها تلك الفرادة والتميز ولكن في الشحن الطائفي تتحول الى حالة مرضية مدمرة فتطير وحدتها وتتشظى الى دويلات تافهة تابعة لاسرائيل .

ولكن انها الشام لمن لا يعرفها على ارضها هزم الصليبيون والمغول ووقف في وجه الفرنسيين سني اسمه يوسف العظمة وقاد ثورتها الكبرى درزي اسمه سلطان باشا الاطرش وحمى جبالها علوي اسمه صالح العلي ونطق مسيحي اسمه فارس الخوري بالشهادتين عندما قالت فرنسا انها موجودة لحمايته وهزم الصهاينة شيعي اسمه حسن نصرالله وفيها شعب باكمله على مذهب اهل السنة يواجه على ارض فلسطين و بلحمه العاري العالم كله دون ان تضعف عزيمته وبصبر وايمان لا مثيل له

لهؤلاء نقول لهم انهم حقيقة لا يعرفون بلاد الشام ولمن لا يعرفها عليه ان يقرأالتاريخ جيدا

March 21st, 2008, 7:31 am


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia, hats off (or is tarboush) to you! I don’t think I’ve ever read before as clear and deep an analysis that comes close to make one change their mind about going with the flow of accusations towards Syria and simply wait patiently for the tribunal to finish its work. And I do think you put your finger on the key button when you said: “there is a lot of pride and bluffing and refusal to bow to a demand to defend one’s self.” From a pragmatic point of view (which I know is not a strong point in the ME genetic composition), isn’t it better to be flexible and somewhat pliant when that (a) avoids conflicts, (b) builds up your economy by encouraging investement and support from the West, (c) ultimately regains you respect. A good attorney is often key in clearing an accused of a false accusation. If the accused adopts “pride and bluffing and refuses to bow to a demand to defend one’s self,” trouble lurks, doesn’t it?
When Nasser lost the war with Israel, he was modest, humble, and offered his resignation. He was then hailed and asked by his people to stay on. Had he bluffed and refused to bow to the admission of reality, what would the reaction of the Egyptian people have been ?
I hear you clearly and I’m almost tipped over by such persuasion. I can’t help but lament, however, that if indeed Syria had nothing to do with any of the assassination, what a lousy way for the regime to help themselves. It sure isn’t working.

FIA and Norman, you’re both right, me thinks, even this seems contradictory.

Why-Discuss: one can criticize Siniora for a lot of things, including lack of charisma, but he clearly navigated one of the most overcronstrained crises that anyone can face. HA folks know full well that he was instrumental in finally stopping the bloodshed in the summer of 2006. Could anyone else have done it sooner? The point I make is that when you listen to Siniora he is respectful, he makes sense, and always keeps an open mind while defining with clarity the principles he follows. Yes, he is surrounded by less than ethical folks, some of them former thugs, but that’s not his fault. He cannot really choose on that front but rather has to work with the hand he is dealt.
As far as being a “US puppet,” well, I suppose he could have just barked protests about the Israeli offensive in 2006, joined hands with Nasrallah to continue the fight until all of Lebanon gets really destroyed completely, not just pushed back 30 years. Then, out of the rubble, with Israel occupying all of Lebanon, we would have chanted the glory of a Siniora hero. Is that what you had in mind? It is easy to criticize and it is easy to have 20-20 hindsight. I respect your opinion Why-Discuss and your right to hold it and defend it, but boy do I disagree with it with a position at the antipode of yours. As far as charisma, the mother-of-all-charismas is of course held unquestionably by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. But charisma can be dangerous. Guess who else had charisma?

Qifa Nabki: Are you going to start that religion so we can all shed whichever one we’re following now and rally around you?

Enlightened: You are the most decent, friendly, sincere, and I bet successful in real life, voice I’ve read on this blog. Sincerely.

Now I have to refill my reservoir of SSRI, shed my bipolar disorder, and maybe adopt a multiple-personality disorder!

March 21st, 2008, 9:35 am


why-discuss said:


Siniora is a business man and as such you may find him well mannered and trying to keep good relations with his opponents as it is the customs in business. Yet, Lebanon’s situation is far for being a business, it is a jungle with no respects, no scrupules and most of all violent. This is not a place for a man like Siniora and if I critizize him, it is not as a human being but as a prime minister. His political stand were far too influenced by the thugs around him and he did not have the guts to oppose them or to resign. Onmar karame did just that while Siniora with the artificial pumping of ‘well intentioned’ foreign powers has lead the country to an impasse. If he had resigned, there would have been a national unity governement and the presidential would have gone smoothly. Instead under the ‘smart’ advices of the 14 mars warlords too sure of the support of foreign powers, he brought the country where it is now.
If the war stopped after 33 days, it is not because of him but because the ‘friendly’ foreign powers realized that Israel had missed its 1559 target and that they would have been responsible of the disaster in lebanon if they had not stopped. Please spare me the heroism of Siniora…

March 21st, 2008, 4:52 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Why-Discuss, OK, I understand your point of view and your interpretation, but it’s far from being a definitive forgone conclusion. For one, there is a finite possibility that giving in to the veto would have forever buried the real truth about the assassinations. On another note, we all know too well that it is not the inherent scruples of Israel that would have stopped them from the utter destruction of Lebanon. I’m not saying Siniora is a hero either. I see in him beyond just a savvy and smooth businessman. I see a person who grew to fill a very large political role. I’m not saying you couldn’t be right. I just believe that History will judge all these players a couple of generations from now. I’m betting on Siniora being judged as a true statesman.

But remember, I might be crazy. That’s because I’m also betting that History will be much kinder to G.W. Bush than an easy joining of the crowd that despise him would lead one to believe.

In the final analysis, there is quite a bit of contradiction between always referring to politics as a dirty business, a violent, scrupuless endeavor, which in a very subtle way tends to want to excuse the assassinations in Lebanon by just moving on, and then demonizing Bush and Israel. Of course if we could all warp forward 50 years form now when the real truth of what is happening and has happened is revealed, it would be easy for any of us to make the right choice and triumph with the right opinion. This luxury we have not.

So we end up in a blog where, for the most part, all even those with antipodal opinions are sincere decent folks. If it were up to us, we’d have long reconciled and moved on with the business of living and prospering the ME. Alas, we’re not in control. Unless, that is we manage to get Qifa Nabki and Georges in positions of power in Lebanon and Syria respectively. Enlightened will be appointed the minister of “Al-kayf wal insheeraah” for both countries and thus be subjected to the risk of having Jihad declared against him for causing the debaucherie of the youth with his prodding to alcohol consumption.

March 21st, 2008, 5:09 pm


Zenobia said:

TOPOV gets an A+ for presentation today. Conciliatory, qualifications,and humor… quite an accomplishment…

not that i am the judge really,…but since i gave him such hard time, i had better give credit where credit is due.

March 21st, 2008, 5:35 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia, you made my day and I can now celebrate a rebirth and renewal at Easter 🙂
Maybe it’s true what they say that you only get a real friend after a fight 😉

March 21st, 2008, 6:13 pm


wizart said:

Zenobia gets an A+ for giving TOPOV A+ for both ladies might be qualified to lead our transformation into the Chinese century.

What we may need to change is our culture.. emulating what works and discarding what doesn’t. Trying to promote the ability to intellectually debate real issues regardless of who wins or loses.

We need to build more personal connections by embracing foreign cultures and best practices. We need access to more intellectual capital and to build bridges to the outside world through blogs and otherwise. We need to keep an eye on what’s happening around the world and how we measure up against other countries while still being realistic. We need to set and focus on clear priorities.

What else do we need besides me perhaps getting out of the way?

“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” Perhaps a Chinese saying.

That’s culture. 🙂

March 21st, 2008, 6:34 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Ya Wizart, you used “we need” six times in a dozen lines. There was an old Lebanese wiseman and comic – Najib Hankash – who called people who did that “Jama3at yajeb wa yanbaghi,” i.e., them who do the talking (and by inference who don’t do the doing). But then again, there’s a total of 18 instances of “need” on this page. So I guess we’re all needy at some level. We need to get off our butts and go outside to smell the roses. Spring in the air (exept for Enlightened who’s probably drowning his sorrow because of the melancholy of autumn down under).

March 21st, 2008, 7:03 pm


Shai said:


While of course you may be right about how history will judge today’s leaders 50 years from now (to know, we’ll have to chat again in 50 years…), I’m betting that both Siniora and GWB will not be looked upon by historians with much respect. Personally, though I have no particular pro or anti towards Siniora, I found his tears a pitiful unstatesmanlike behavior during the 2006 war. He seemed almost like a child grasping on to anything, or anyone, just to stay in power. I can’t think of many great leaders who did such a thing, even when their cities and nations were bombarded by an enemy. As for Dubya, although historians may one day judge the overall global effort by the U.S. and other Western nations to be of the highest moral motivation, responsibility, and sacrifice, I can’t imagine much credit will be given to him personally. No means of disrespect (to you), but the guy’s just too much of a comic character. I remember Americans in the 1980’s ridiculing Reagan for his acting moments with a monkey, but with Dubya, there’s just endless amounts of embarrassing moments, which really brought little respect for America, as the world’s last remaining superpower. If you now had a 21st century version of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in fact, let’s for the heck of it imagine it’s a nuclear Iran versus a nuclear Israel situation, suddenly discovered, etc. Of all the U.S. presidents you know, in the past 100 years, could you imagine anyone worse fit to handle such a crisis than Dubya? I know Carter screwed up big time with the hostages in Iran, but heck, at least he got Begin and Sadat to make peace. I think Dubya has survived these 8 years, much more due to factors having nothing to do with him, than because of his talent, charisma, or character. Like with Olmert here in Israel, I can’t think of another leader in modern times I was less impressed with… (sorry Dubya!)

March 21st, 2008, 7:38 pm


offended said:

The Syrian Elector news feed didn’t hesitate to mention the three Kurds who were killed by the security forces after Nerooz celebration in Qamishli.

What they failed to mention is that those guys (and others) WERE CARRYING TORCHES AND TRYING TO SET A POLICE STATION ABLAZE!

March 21st, 2008, 7:58 pm


offended said:

They’ve also burned tires and threw stones at the riot police.

March 21st, 2008, 7:59 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Shai, I hear you. Very well. I think it’s really too soon to tell. Dubya brought a consistency and persistence – which maybe are due to stupidity – but which will, in the end, have had a definitive impact. History will judge if it’s good or bad. Yes, he sounds stupid, but you have to realize that there’s more than IQ that matters in the world, there’s EQ and who knows what other xQ will be analyzed in the future. I grant you that it’s an awkward position to take in trying to be an advocate for Dubya, but what the heck. This is the fun of debate on this blog, isn’t it? So, continuing on, you will know there’s a good percentage of Americans who really appreciate the simple language and analogies Dubya uses. They feel he is one of them. They feel he is not one of those stuck-up intellectuals who speaks above their heads and who, in the lingo of a colleague who likes to clown around, challenges them to “integrate the polynomial of transcendent functions” in order to understand his thoughts. Recently, Dubya gave an analogy on the subject of avoiding overcorrection of the economy in which he alluded to driving a pick-up truck over uneven terrain whereby overcorrecting throws you in the ditch (I’m paraphrasing). Well, it may be superficial, but this is the kind of straight talk that appeals to many ordinary folks and endears the president to them. Similarly, GW is trusted in his sincerity when he explains that, notwithstanding mistakes along the way, his goals of protecting the homeland are clear and his actions are sharply focussed towards those goals. Anyway, there are folks who subscribe to this, and they are many. We’ll have to see how the next national election in the US turns out to really measure where the silent majority is swaying in this. Again, I’m playing the debate game here, presenting “The Other Point Of VieW,” so no one please get excited and start hurling accusations at me. Think it through logically and see if you can counter at the same level.

Now, speaking of tears, it’s OK for real men to cry. Those who don’t, well, they just don’t… or do they? Only God knows for sure.
and this one is for Alex (no hidden message here, just his style of music):

March 21st, 2008, 8:10 pm


wizart said:

LOL ya TOPOV we the global citizens who are disciplined enough to do the Yajeb and Yanbaghi need the right people to be in the right places no matter where they are down under or above 24/7. I for one totally appreciate humor and would love to see comic Lebanese as they must have plenty of politics to laugh about now. Gawar was hilarrious2!

March 21st, 2008, 8:18 pm


Shai said:


I do agree that real men should be able to cry. But when you’re standing in front of your nation, as their leader, and especially when your people are being bombarded day and night, and are looking for some inspiration, crying doesn’t seem to be the “most admirable” option… I think. Anyway, this is a silly discussion. I just used it as a little case against Siniora being remembered as a bold and courageous leader. But again, maybe I’m wrong.

As for Dubya, I obviously think he’s much less of an “idiot” than he may seem to be sometimes. But that’s the problem – he doesn’t seem too smart, at least to many around him, both in the U.S., and abroad.

March 21st, 2008, 8:22 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

OK ya Shai, ma3lesh, I’ll concede these to you this time, with a downswing of the hat/tarboush/kippah.
I still like Siniora and would have a beer (= many many) any day with Dubya at Mory’s while being serenaded by the Whiffenpoofs and their kins and finishing it up with “For God For Country and For Yale.”
Take that Enlightened, and eat your heart out.

March 21st, 2008, 9:23 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

You too QN 😉

March 21st, 2008, 9:24 pm


Enlightened said:

TOPOV said:

Qifa Nabki: Are you going to start that religion so we can all shed whichever one we’re following now and rally around you?

Enlightened: You are the most decent, friendly, sincere, and I bet successful in real life, voice I’ve read on this blog. Sincerely.

Now I have to refill my reservoir of SSRI, shed my bipolar disorder, and maybe adopt a multiple-personality disorder!

Man it was a Hunch, but look Topov Bi polar is curable and I like the name better than HP (LOL) I had Gods punishement this morning, my son got us up at 530, and still up. And that headache.

Lets get back to some discussion; later in the day.

Georges, Horse manure aside Do you honestly believe in the efficacy of Syria’s government strategy in the Long term? Given the Lebanese penchant for never forgetting anything, can Syria tweak its strategy?

Or was what I implied earlier that the regime views this as an existential struggle?

March 21st, 2008, 10:26 pm


Majhool said:


First, do you still have that Jetta? Second, I have to admit you are becoming a Syria expert and quite an objective one.

One quick note, on the history of the whole thing let me share with you this brief history on the creation of Lebanon although I have a feeling that you have read it

For a long time (sine WW I) the two conflicting national identities in Lebanon were Arabism and Lebanism. This has recently changed with the Sunnis and Druze adopting lebanism along with the fact the Arabism (in the political sense) took a back seat for notions such as (Jordan First) and (Syria First)etc.

This is a major development and it puts only the Shia in opposition to Lebanism. Many Christian politicians such as Sami Jumayyel are already advocating for the separation of Bekka and South from the rest. With the Sunnis and Druze on board a viable Lebanon is more doable than ever.

March 21st, 2008, 11:57 pm


wizart said:

If Lebanon was governed in a secular way according to merits and not according to religious lines then a beautiful country could emerge. It’s time to slowly dismantle this failed system for good.

“All that Lebanon needed to be a success was political accord and an even social development among the different communities which had come to form its population and in the different regions it had come to comprise. However, for two reasons, it was exactly these conditions that proved hard to reach. First, the Maronites in Lebanon were determined to maintain their own paramount control of the state, and were fundamentally unwilling to have Christians and Muslims share in the country as political equals; their argument was that the Muslims were naturally susceptible to the strong influence of their co-religionists in other Arab countries, and could therefore not be trusted with the more sensitive political and administrative positions in Lebanon, such as those which involved national security and ultimate decision making. Second, the prevalent nationalist mood in the Arab world, especially in Syria, was against Lebanon achieving political success; and within the country, the Muslim sector of the population could easily be swayed by external Arab nationalist influence, and could be used by other Arab countries as political leverage to keep the Lebanese state perennially unstable. For the duration of the French mandate in the Levant, Lebanon was adequately protected against such destabilizing Arab interventions in its affairs. The real problems of the country, however, were to come blatantly into the open as soon as the French mandate came to an end, leaving an independent Lebanon at the mercy of external and internal forces acting in the name of Arab nationalism with which the Lebanese state, in the long run, was unable to come to reasonable terms.” Kamal Salibi

March 22nd, 2008, 8:34 am


Zenobia said:

how is it that you know that i used to have a Jetta…..??

what you say may be true, but we can hardly say “only” the Shia are anti-Lebanism. that is a quite a lot of people.

separation or secession is hardly likely. the mountain cannot survive without the Bekaa… and a good portion of the southern in South Beirut half the time.

I thought i recognized that paragraph from Salibi’s book, which is excellent, and i think a perfect articulation of these dynamics and history.

March 22nd, 2008, 10:47 am


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

If I may don a French kepi and continue the last sentence from the passage quoted from Salibi above (with my words)…

‘Which is why the biggest mistake committed by the likes of Gemayel and Beshara-El-Khoury was to turn against the French and against Emile Edde (and later his son Raymond), siding with complete Lebanese independence at a premature time. The French did wonders to the economic and cultural development of Lebanon. This was not North Africa for the French. They not only redeemed themselves but showed to the world how a civilized mandate is conducted to the benefit of the people. Nor did the French have ambitions to remain there forever. With time, the whole Lebanese population would have been brought forward economically and culturally and the wave of Arabic nationalism, which ultimately failed, would have passed. Lebanon’s prosperity would have permanently cemented the country as well-grounded democracy with a strong National identity and a readiness to full independence. But the hot heads prevailed, France left, and the rest, as they say, is history.’

You’re right Wizart, complete elimination of confessionalism coupled with the re-establishment and cementing of a Lebanese identity as well as a sense of social justice (not socialism) seeking methods to enhance the standard of living of the “dispossessed” is indeed what Lebanon needs now – has always needed. But we kid ourselves when we – again – use these words “needs” and “needed.” We may well be romantics dreaming of a reality that, if it ever happens, will take decades. Others like Qifa Nabki are far more pragmatic in their approach. [Although the bastard keeps claiming he’s a high school kid and refuses to enter the real arena of politics.] Indeed, so many tansformations are needed, not the least of which is an eventual self-control of the huge disparity in birth rates between the various communities. With up to four wives, and anywhere between 12 and 24 people per household, children bused to different areas to sell chewing gum for a living, a segment of the Lebanese population must undergo a fundamental change before the forces it brings onto the scene can have a chance at moderation. The optimistic will see in all the conflict, all the anxiety, the birthing pains of a new nation. I pray that they are right. Still, my heart aches.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:26 am


wizart said:

Nice insight TOPOV despite the anxieties you mentioned and since we both agree on the need to eliminate Lebanese confessionalism may I suggest you do something pragmatic about it?! How about sponsoring a national drive through the local media forums demanding your suggestion be implemented thru a related national referendum where all Lebanese citizens vote on this referendum so it becomes law?

Wouldn’t that be pragmatic enough or have (we) become used to instant gratification in our thinking that as soon as a president gets elected then our anxiety will be over? Have (we) become so used to a state of semi-paralysis by analysis because the system has become too complex to serve the people and instead it is now a fertile ground for abuse of power?

Before encouraging political talent or adult wizkids to get into politics to carry dreams of nationalism may I suggest that, my honorable Lebanese friends, invest in a few newspaper ads to raise awareness and capitalize on the desire for real change by fixing the system which you readily and correctly admit doesn’t work.

On a side note for the benefit of those taking (ssri’s) in Lebanon due to elevated levels of anxiety I hope they’re adequately aware these drugs are known to have very adverse side effects such as falls, fractures and difficulty with sleep. These drugs are often being used more for the convenience of medical staff or other caretakers than for the real needs of the patients. One of the unjustifiable uses of these drugs is in controlling chronic anxiety according to a book on toxic relief available through Amazon.

March 22nd, 2008, 2:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I just love it when some Syrians recommend democratic reforms in Lebanon as a solution to Lebanon’s problems but do not think that such reforms are good for Syria. Beyond the hype, that is the main reason the Arab world is quite hopeless.

When Wizart writes:
“If Lebanon was governed in a secular way according to merits and not according to religious lines then a beautiful country could emerge. It’s time to slowly dismantle this failed system for good.”

How can Wizart write such things with a straight face when being an Alawite and being related to Asad are the main criteria for advancement in Syria for decades? I am looking forward to hearing why what Wizart recommends for Lebanon is not applicable for Syria at least in the next 20 years or till there is peace or some other excuse.

March 22nd, 2008, 3:51 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Insightful AIG, Wizart is Lebanese no? He sure recently sounded like one. I was getting ready to open my wallet and send it to whomever starts a fund for those ads he’s talking about…

March 22nd, 2008, 4:16 pm


ugarit said:

Zenobia said: “and he [Saddam] just kept bluffing in some sense…”

He was not bluffing. Iraq clearly stated that they no longer have WMDs. Remember the huge report Iraq released to the UN and the US government whisked it away from public view?

March 22nd, 2008, 4:18 pm


wizart said:

I just love it when some Israelis get in the middle of a rock and a hard place not realizing that what works in America may not work in China and visa versa. Syria has had years of stable and secular government even while Israel is infiltrating the region to destabilize, divide, concur and sing democratic songs; brainwashing the masses and all while playing innocent bystander, flying over Lebanese and Syrian territories, cruising up and down our shores while working on nukes and sabotaging the American congress. Exploiting the Lebanese “democratic” system has never been easier to the “peaceful” Israelis.

March 22nd, 2008, 4:23 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Ugarit, yes you’re right in what you said but you probably know that – while public concrete proof was absent – many intelligence agencies (Europe as well as US) were convinced otherwise. Saddam could have done what Kaddafi ended up doing and create a truly unambiguous proof. In reality, it is said that he (Saddam) was being fooled by his own staff into thinking that he indeed had secret programs and weapons. It all comes down to the “pride” thing that Zenobia talked about. It do think it’s in our genes. I’ve been guilty of it myself in business/legal dealings and learned the lesson to shed it the hard way. So did Saddam. Except his lesson was lethal. Give credit to Kaddafi for having come around. This is an often ignored success of GWB.

March 22nd, 2008, 4:40 pm


TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

From Naharnet:

Berri: Parliament Cannot Legislate

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday reiterated that he would not call the house to legislate as long as Premier Fouad Saniora’s government remained in office.
Berri made the stand in a statement released by his press office.

“The absence of any legitimate (executive) authority prevents the convening of parliament in a law making capacity,” the statement said.

It was responding to charges by the March 14 majority alliance that Berri was rejecting efforts to convene parliament in a legislative capacity, thus blocking the house duties.

The statement called the March 14 majority alliance to “implement the Arab initiative, crystallize partnership and agree on an election law.”

Beirut, 21 Mar 08, 19:41

I have the feeling nothing is going to happen in Lebanon until it’s time of the next parliamentary elections in 2009.
[And his excellency QN is safely keeping his tarboush out of the ring.]

March 22nd, 2008, 4:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wizart has just made my point for me. This happens without fail. The “democracy is important but to other countries” seems to be a leading ideology in some Arab circles.

March 22nd, 2008, 4:43 pm


Naji said:

When you say “The “democracy is important but to other countries” seems to be a leading ideology in some Arab circles”, of course you are completely right about the “Arab circles” you know best…those friendly to, and thus protected by, Israel (against the “Crescent” of Evil)… namely the unpopular despots of Jordan, Saudi, Egypt, etc…! I hope you enjoy their company, for you have to be careful you don’t one day get what you are wishing for…!

March 22nd, 2008, 5:19 pm


Friend in America said:

Norman –
I have been away for a few days. Thank you for your remarks about the justice systems. I will hold them in my thoughts for the next time I have a discussion on systems of international justice.
I have not examined the transcripts and motions in the Serbian war crimes trial but I am unaware of any concerns that were expressed other than a few Serbs who were sour about losing Milosavitch.

March 22nd, 2008, 6:04 pm


wizart said:


AIG sounds like an active psychological warfare operative so it’s probably better to ignore what he says and he’ll get paid anyway!

Prior to Israel’s Statehood

The Mossad was a small, unorthodox Zionist organization whose mission in 1938 was to bring Jews to Palestine. This was done to subvert the British quotas on Jewish immigration. The Mossad’s modes of operation, its ideology, and politics resulted in the creation of the intelligence agency for the Israeli government once it was established in 1948. The agency consisted of several of the existing members that had worked to establish Israel as a nation and to bring the Jewish people to it.

The Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection, counter-terrorism, covert operations such as paramilitary activities and assassinations, and the facilitation of aliyah where it is banned. It is one of the main Intelligence Community entities in Israel (along with Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security)), but its director reports directly to the Prime Minister. Its role and function is similar to that of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) in their respective countries.

Executive Offices

From its headquarters in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, the Mossad oversees a staff estimated at 1200 personnel, although it may have numbered up to 2000 in the late 1980s. The Mossad is a civilian service, and does not use military ranks, although most of its staff have served in the Israel Defense Forces as part of Israel’s compulsory draft system, and many of them are officers. It is assumed to consist of eight different departments.

The largest is Collections, tasked with many aspects of conducting espionage overseas. Employees in the Collections Department operate under a variety of covers, including diplomatic and unofficial. Their field intelligence officers, called katsas, are similar to case officers of the CIA. Thirty to forty operate at a time, mainly in Europe and the Middle East.

The Political Action and Liaison Department is responsible for working both with allied foreign intelligence services, and with nations that have no normal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Among the departments of the Mossad is the Special Operations Division or ‘”Metsada” (see Kidon), which is involved in assassination, paramilitary operations, sabotage, and psychological warfare.

Psychological warfare is also a concern of the Lochamah Psichologit Department, which conducts propaganda and deception activities as well.

Additionally, the Mossad has a Research Department, tasked with intelligence production, and a Technology Department concerned with the development of tools for Mossad activities.

March 22nd, 2008, 6:38 pm


Naji said:

Of course you are always the Wizest…, but AIG a Mossad PsyOp agent…??!! …more like a little Hillel chapter at some mid-western community college, I think…!! The Mossad is a lot more devious, sophisticated, and ultimately stupid and self-defeating…!

March 22nd, 2008, 6:49 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As usual, after deep and thoughtful debate, the Syrians have come to the conclusion that the reason Syria is not a democracy is because the Israeli Mossad is using psychological warfare against Syria.

These Lebanon-Syria debates are so predictable. They end up with the Syrians recommending democratic reforms in Lebanon which they would never adopt at home or with the Syrians saying outright that they would not respect a democratic Lebanon that would make peace with Israel before Syria does. Instead of going around in circles, I would suggest starting with these two issues and saving a lot of time.

March 22nd, 2008, 6:53 pm


wizart said:

Naji my fellow peacemaker!

You might be quite right and I wonder if he could be volunteering his time now on a Sabah (Saturday.) it’s kind of cute he now seems concerned about saving his time after repeating the same pitch on this blog for as long as I can remember. oh well, thanks for explaining 🙂

March 22nd, 2008, 7:10 pm


Naji said:

Mellowest Wizz,
More and more, I think the only VIABLE path to peace is as expressed in the following essay (as a good example)… Anything else, despite all the good intentions of the likes of Alex, Alon Leil, Shai, etc…, would be immoral accommodation of a doomed racist regime…!

I think that if people like our Alex would dedicate their seemingly unbounded energies to such efforts, we could have real peace within our life-time…

I just cannot imagine any well-meaning person arguing against such an approach, regardless of what else they think…!?

(Btw, the following happens to be an excellent essay and worth reading carefully!)

The Case for Boycotting Israel
Boycott Now!
August 5 / 6, 2006
Johannesburg, South Africa.

It is finally time. After years of internal arguments, confusion, and dithering, the time has come for a full-fledged international boycott of Israel. Good cause for a boycott has, of course, been in place for decades, as a raft of initiatives already attests. But Israel’s war crimes are now so shocking, its extremism so clear, the suffering so great, the UN so helpless, and the international community’s need to contain Israel’s behavior so urgent and compelling, that the time for global action has matured. A coordinated movement of divestment, sanctions, and boycotts against Israel must convene to contain not only Israel’s aggressive acts and crimes against humanitarian law but also, as in South Africa, its founding racist logics that inspired and still drive the entire Palestinian problem.

That second goal of the boycott campaign is indeed the primary one. Calls for a boycott have long cited specific crimes: Israel’s continual attacks on Palestinian civilians; its casual disdain for the Palestinian civilian lives “accidentally” destroyed in its assassinations and bombings; its deliberate ruin of the Palestinians’ economic and social conditions; its continuing annexation and dismemberment of Palestinian land; its torture of prisoners; its contempt for UN resolutions and international law; and especially, its refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. But the boycott cannot target these practices alone. It must target their ideological source.

The true offence to the international community is the racist motivation for these practices, which violates fundamental values and norms of the post-World War II order. That racial ideology isn’t subtle or obscure. Mr. Olmert himself has repeatedly thumped the public podium about the “demographic threat” facing Israel: the “threat” that too many non-Jews will – the horror – someday become citizens of Israel. It is the “demographic threat” that, in Israeli doctrine, justifies sealing off the West Bank and Gaza Strip as open-air prisons for millions of people whose only real crime is that they are not Jewish. It is the “demographic threat,” not security (Mr. Olmert has clarified), that requires the dreadful Wall to separate Arab and Jewish communities, now juxtaposed in a fragmented landscape, who might otherwise mingle.

“Demographic threat” is the most disgustingly racist phrase still openly deployed in international parlance. It has been mysteriously tolerated by a perplexed international community. But it can be tolerated no longer. Zionist fear of the demographic threat launched the expulsion of the indigenous Arab population in 1948 and 1967, created and perpetuates Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, inspires its terrible human rights abuses against Palestinians, spins into regional unrest like the 1982 attack on Lebanon (that gave rise to Hezbollah), and continues to drive Israeli militarism and aggression.

This open official racism and its attendant violence casts Israel into the ranks of pariah states, of which South Africa was the former banner emblem. In both countries, racist nationalist logic tormented and humiliated the native people. It also regularly spilled over to destabilize their surrounding regions (choc-a-block with “demographic threats”), leading both regimes to cruel and reckless attacks. Driven by a sense of perennial victimhood, they assumed the moral authority to crush the native hordes that threatened to dilute the organic Afrikaner/Jewish nations and the white/western civilization they believed they so nobly represented.

A humiliated white society in South Africa finally gave that myth up. Israel still clings to it. It has now brought Israel to pulverize Lebanon, trying to eliminate Hezbollah and, perhaps, to clear the way for an attack on Iran. Peace offers from the entire Arab world are cast aside like so much garbage. Yet again, the Middle East is plunged into chaos and turmoil, because a normal existence — peace, full democracy — is anathema to a regime that must see and treat its neighbors as an existential threat in order to justify the rejectionism that preserves its ethnic/racial character and enables its continuing annexations of land.

Why has this outrageously racist doctrine survived so long, rewarded by billions of dollars in US aid every year? We know the reasons. For too many Westerners, Israel’s Jewish character conflates with the Holocaust legacy to make intuitive sense of Israel’s claim to be under continual assault. Deep-seated Judeo-Christian bias against Islam demonizes Israel’s mostly Muslim victims. European racist prejudice against Arabs (brown-skinned natives) casts their material dispossession as less humanly significant. Naïve Christian visions of the “Holy Land” naturalize Jewish governance in biblical landscapes. Idiot Christian evangelistic notions of the Rapture and the End Times posit Jewish governance as essential to the return of the Messiah and the final Millennium (even though, in that repellent narrative, Jews will roast afterwards).

All those notions and prejudices, long confounding international action, must now be set aside. The raw logic of Israel’s distorted self-image and racist doctrines is expressed beyond confusion by the now-stark reality: the moonscape rubble of once-lovely Lebanese villages; a million desperate people trying to survive Israeli aerial attacks as they carry children and wheel disabled grandparents down cratered roads; the limp bodies of children pulled from the dusty basements of crushed buildings. This is the reality of Israel’s national doctrine, the direct outcome of its racist worldview. It is endangering everyone, and it must stop.

Designing the Campaign

Much debate has circulated about a boycott campaign, but hitherto it has not moved beyond some ardent but isolated groups. Efforts have stalled on the usual difficult questions: e.g., whether a boycott is morally compulsory to reject Israel’s rampant human rights violations or would impede vital engagement with Israeli forums, or whether principled defense of international law must be tempered by (bogus) calls for “balance”. Especially, recent debate has foundered on calls for an academic boycott. Concerns here are reasonable, if rather narrow. Universities offer vital connections and arenas for collaboration, debate, and new thinking. Without such forums and their intellectual exchange, some argue, work toward a different future is arguably impeded.

But this argument has exploded along with the southern Lebanese villages, as Israeli university faculties roundly endorse the present war. As Ilan Pappé has repeatedly argued, Israel’s universities are not forums for enlightened thought. They are crucibles of reproduction for racist Zionist logics and practice, monitoring and filtering admissible ideas. They produce the lawyers who defend the occupation regime and run its kangaroo “courts”; the civil planners and engineers who design and build the settlements on Palestinian land; the economists and financiers who design and implement the grants that subsidize those settlements; the geologists who facilitate seizure of Palestinian aquifers; the doctors who treat the tortured so that they can be tortured again; the historians and sociologists who make sense of a national society while preserving official lies about its own past; and the poets, playwrights, and novelists who compose the nationalist opus that glorifies and makes (internally, at least) moralistic sense of it all.

Those of us who have met with Jewish Israeli academics in Israeli universities find the vast majority of them, including well-meaning liberals, operating in a strange and unique bubble of enabling fictions. Most of them know nothing about Palestinian life, culture, or experience. They know strangely little about the occupation and its realities, which are crushing people just over the next hill. They have absorbed simplistic notions about rejectionist Arafat, terrorist Hamas, and urbane Abbas. In this special insulated world of illusions, they say nonsense things about unreal factors and fictionalized events. Trying to make sense of their assumptions is no more productive that conversing about the Middle East with the Bush administration’s neo-cons, who also live in a strange bubble of ignorance and fantasy. Aside from a few brave and beleaguered souls, this is the world of Israel’s universities. It will not change until it has to – when the conditions of its self-reproduction are impaired and its self-deceptions too glaring.

The Real Goal: Changing Minds

The universities represent and reproduce the bubble world of the Israeli Jewish population as a whole. And no people abandons its bubble willingly. In South Africa, Afrikaners clung to their own bubble – their self-exonerating myths about history, civilization, and race — until they were forced by external sanctions and the collapsing national economy to rethink those myths. Their resistance to doing so, while racist, was not purely vicious. Many kind and well-meaning Afrikaners simply didn’t believe they had to rethink ideas that manifested to them as givens and that shaped their reality. (One valued Afrikaner friend here recalls her life during apartheid South Africa as being like The Truman Show, a film in which a man unknowingly grows up in a television show, set in an artificial dome world designed to look like a small town.) When their reality fell apart, suddenly no one would admit to ever having believed or supported it.

The Zionist worldview is an even more complete system. All historical and geographic details are provided to create a total mythical world, in which Jews have rights to the land and Palestinians have none. It is a fully realized construction, like those Hebraized maps carefully drawn by the Zionist movement in the 1930s to erase the ancient Arabic landscape and substitute Hebrew biblical references. It is also very resilient. The “new historians” have exposed the cherished national historical narrative of 1948 and 1967 as a load of fictions, but the same fictions are still reproduced by state agencies to assure Israeli and diaspora Jews of their innocence and the righteousness of their cause. The vast majority of Israelis therefore remain comfortable in their Truman Show and even see any external pressure or criticism as substantiating it. We need no more graphic evidence of that campaign’s success than the overwhelming support among Israeli Jews for the present catastrophic assault on Lebanon, reflecting their sincere beliefs that nuclear-power Israel is actually under existential threat by a guerrilla group lobbing katyushas across the border. Staggering to observers, that belief is both sobering and instructive.

To force people steeped in such a worldview to rethink their notions, their historical myths, and their own best interests requires two efforts:

(1) Serious external pressure: here, a full boycott that undermines Israel’s capacity to sustain the economic standards its citizens and corporations expect, and which they associate with their own progressive self-image; and

(2) clear and unwavering commitment to the boycott’s goal, which – in Israel as in South Africa – must be full equality, dignity, safety, and welfare of everyone in the land, including Palestinians, whose ancestral culture arose there, and the Jewish population, which has built a national society there.

That combination is essential. Nothing else will work. Diplomacy, threats, pleading, the “peace process,” mediation, all will be useless until external pressure brings Israel’s entire Jewish population to undertake the very difficult task of rethinking their world. This pressure requires the full range of boycotts, sanctions, and divestment that the world can employ. (South African intellectual Steven Friedman has observed wryly that the way to bring down any established settler-colonial regime is to make it choose between profits and identity. Profits, he says, will win every time.)

What to Target

Fortunately, from the South African experience, we know how to go forward, and strategies are proliferating. The basic methods of an international boycott campaign are familiar. First, each person works in his or her own immediate orbit. People might urge divestment from companies investing in Israel by their colleges and universities, corporations, clubs, and churches. Boycott any sports event that hosts an Israeli team, and work with planners to exclude them. Participate in, and visit, no Israeli cultural events – films, plays, music, art exhibits. Avoid collaborating with Israeli professional colleagues, except on anti-racist activism. Don’t invite any Israeli academic or writer to contribute to any conference or research and don’t attend their panels or buy their books, unless their work is engaged directly in anti-racist activism. Don’t visit Israel except for purposes of anti-racist activism. Buy nothing made in Israel: start looking at labels on olive oil, oranges, and clothing. Tell people what you are doing and why. Set up discussion groups everywhere to explain why.

For ideas and allies, try Googling the “boycott Israel” and “sanctions against Israel” campaigns springing up around the world. Know those allies, like the major churches, and tell people about them. For more ideas, read about the history of the boycott of South Africa.

Second, don’t be confused by liberal Zionist alternatives that argue against a boycott in favor of “dialogue”. If we can draw any conclusion from the last half-century, it is that, without the boycott, dialogue will go nowhere. And don’t be confused by liberal-Zionist arguments that Israel will allow Palestinians a state if they only do this or that. Israel is already the only sovereign power in Palestine: what fragments are left to Palestinians cannot make a state. The question now is not whether there is one state, but what kind of state it comprises. The present version is apartheid, and it must change. However difficult to achieve, and however frightening to Jewish Israelis, the only just and stable solution is full democracy.

Third, be prepared for the boycott’s opposition, which will be much louder, more vicious, and more dangerous than it was in the boycott of South Africa. Read and assemble solid documentable facts. Support each other loudly and publicly against the inevitable charges of anti-Semitism. And support your media against the same charges. Write to news media and explain just who the “Israel media teams” actually are. Most pro-Israeli activism draws directly from the Israeli government’s propaganda outreach programs. Spotlight this fact. Team up to counter their pressure on newspapers, radio stations, and television news forums. Don’t let them capture or intimidate public debate. By insisting loudly (and it must be sincere) that the goal is the full equality of dignity and rights of everyone in Israel-Palestine, including the millions of Jewish citizens of Israel, demolish their specious claims of anti-Semitism.

Finally, hold true to the principles that drive the boycott’s mission. Don’t tolerate the slightest whiff of anti-Semitism in your own group or movement. Anti-Jewish racists are certainly out there, and they are attracted to these campaigns like roaches. They will distract and absorb your energies, while undermining, degrading, and destroying the boycott movement. Some are Zionist plants, who will do so deliberately. If you can’t change their minds (and don’t spend much time trying, because they will use your efforts to drain your time and distract your energies), denounce them, expel them, ignore them, have no truck with them. They are the enemy of a peaceful future, not its allies – part of the problem, not the solution.

Boycott the Hegemon

This is the moment to turn international pressure on the complicit US, too. It’s impossible, today, to exert an effective boycott on the United States, as its products are far too ubiquitous in our lives. But it’s quick and easy to launch a boycott of emblematic US products, upsetting its major corporations. It’s especially easy to boycott the great global consumables, like Coca-Cola, MacDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC, whose leverage has brought anti-democratic pressures on governments the world over. (Through ugly monopoly practices, Coke is a nasty player in developing countries anyway: see, for example, Think you’ll miss these foods too much? Is consuming something else for a while too much of a sacrifice, given what is happening to people in Lebanon? And think of the local products you’ll be supporting! (And how healthy you will get).

In the US, the impact of these measures may be small. But in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Arab and Muslim worlds, boycotting these famous brands can gain national scope and the impact on corporate profits will be enormous. Never underestimate the power of US corporations to leverage US foreign policy. They are the one force that consistently does so.

But always, always, remember the goal and vision. Anger and hatred, arising from the Lebanon debacle, must be channelled not into retaliation and vengeance but into principled action. Armed struggle against occupation remains legitimate and, if properly handled (no killing of civilians), is a key tool. But the goal of all efforts, of every stamp, must be to secure security for everyone, toward building a new peaceful future. It’s very hard, in the midst of our moral outrage, to stay on the high road. That challenge is, however, well-known to human rights campaigns as it is to all three monotheistic faiths. It is what Islam knows as the “great jihad” – the struggle of the heart. It must remain the guiding torch of this effort, which we must defend together.

Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005). She can be reached at

March 22nd, 2008, 7:40 pm


Alex said:


Funny! .. read my new post while I read what you posted.

March 22nd, 2008, 7:57 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think what Naji proposes is a great idea. Syria should support a boycott of Israel and the US and in the meantime Israel and the US should boycott Syria and convince other countries to boycott it. It will be interesting to see which regime disappears first, the Asad one or the “zionist” one. Go for it!

In the end, when the Baathist hypocrisy is brought to light, the only card they have left to play is “let’s attack Israel” and “Israel is the real problem”. Suit yourself and enjoy a few more years of Asad followed by decades of the Muslim Brotherhood.

March 22nd, 2008, 8:14 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I just love it when some Syrians recommend democratic reforms in Lebanon as a solution to Lebanon’s problems but do not think that such reforms are good for Syria. Beyond the hype, that is the main reason the Arab world is quite hopeless.

AIG I can imagine what kind of anti-Semitist shouting would begin by IGs if I would write “the home country of Jews is quite hopeless” or “Jewish world is quite hopeless”. AIG how can you say like you said? 🙂

Seems that the Arabs have a better self-confidence as you IGs (you know whom I mean). They did not begin the anti-Semitist shouting, which you “Israeli” guys start always from the slightest reason.

What I can’t understand is how people who openly support religious discrimination and favour one religious group’s domination over others are lecturing of democracy or even condemning others.

Lets imagine Lebanon (or any other Arab country) would reach democracy in the Israeli style. There would be different legal systems to block the “others” rights, a religious foundation to control the land ownership for the benefit for the “chosen” people, women sitting in back of buses, religious courts etc. Undoubtedly most of us would consider that a huge step back to the Middle Ages.

This Tibet episode has put many western leaders in a tight spot. How can they condemn China for what they have allowed Israel to do for decades. Saying that well Israel is a democracy but China is hmmmm a non-democracy makes them even look more stupid. For a (self declared) democracy as Israel should be tolerated much less than for the less democratic China.

China should now use the Israeli example. Help creating some shady Tibetan terror groups and make them perform few terror acts. Then they could use the excuses we have the right to protect Chinese and we speak after to violence stops. Naturally no Tibetan would be suitable “partner” for talks. Some safety walls and thousands of roadblocks for “safety” naturally. The lands should be made mostly as military zones. The rest controlled by a China National Fund. All Tibetan towns and villages should be put in a legal limbo. Later to be demolished as illegal unauthorized buildings. ETC. China should fast send administrators and military men to Israel to learn how to rule a modern “democracy”.

March 22nd, 2008, 8:36 pm


Naji said:

You know that I was not suggesting merely a “Syrian” boycott of Israel… After all, this has been solely Syria’s burden for far too long, while the “founding racist logics” of the current State of Israel are an affront to the whole of humanity…!

March 22nd, 2008, 8:37 pm


Naji said:

…and do not forget the “demographic threat” that the Chinese may be feeling… 🙂


March 22nd, 2008, 8:45 pm


SimoHurtta said:

…and do not forget the “demographic threat” that the Chinese may be feeling…

Yes indeed. Tibetans have many children. “Real” Chinese only one (in theory).

Chinese could also start a massive information campaign that Dalai Lama’s terror group is trying to create dirty bombs and other terrorists favourite “tools”. They could even help in inventing a mystic Osama Bin Lama figure who would enlighten us with videos from caves around Mount Everest. A couple of missiles by Dalai Lama’s terror groups form Nepal etc would give good excuses for summer “campaigns” and regime change demands. The ultimate “reward” in this information strategy would be that China could blame Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia etc for supporting the terrorists and make “Israeli” style over flights and bomb some “nuclear installations”.

The world has so much to learn from Israel. All countries should be acting like Israel. Then there would peace or would there be?

March 22nd, 2008, 9:59 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Saying that the Jewish state is doomed is not antisemitic, just as saying that the Arab countries are doomed is not racist. It is just an opinion of the future, not a generalization about Jews or Arabs.

Given the inability to grapple with democracy, I am very pessimistic about the Arab states. The demography and religious revival are going to lead to decades of islamic regimes and civil wars in the Arab world.

If the Arabs think that Israel is doomed then we will just have to wait and see who is right. Based on the last 60 years and the backwardness of the Arab world, I am quite optimistic.

I have explained to you many times that the Jews are a nation in addition to a religion. I am an atheist Jew. I know it is difficult for you to understand, but that is your problem.

March 22nd, 2008, 10:27 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


It is the Syrian regime that is an affront to most humanity except Iran. Both the US and Europe view Syria as a state that supports terrorism and both are very strong allies of Israel.

Where did you get the ability to look at a the blue sky and say it is red? Does reality not play any role in your reasoning?

March 22nd, 2008, 10:30 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


What do you think of this speech?

And what about this cooperation?

Could it be true that most Finns view Israel as a technologically advanced western democracy? Why doesn’t Finland have such cooperations with Syria?

March 22nd, 2008, 10:40 pm


Naji said:

Of all people, I would have thought you new best just how malleable “reality” is…! Are you completely sure what “reality” is going to look like a few years from now…?!

March 22nd, 2008, 10:41 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am completely sure that it will take the major Arab countries decades to change and become technologically advanced nations in which liberal decmocracy reigns. Until then expect more Mubarak or Asad type rule or more likely Hamas or Ayatollah type. Until the Arabs make the change, they will remain extremely weak and prone to inner fighting.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:06 pm


SimoHurtta said:

I have explained to you many times that the Jews are a nation in addition to a religion. I am an atheist Jew. I know it is difficult for you to understand, but that is your problem.

Hmmmm I ask you again is a Jew who did choose Islam or Christianity and her/his offspring still part of your Nation. You never explained it to me/us.

Aren’t the Jews’, who stayed in Israel 2000 years ago, offspring who became Muslims and Christians equally part of your “nation” if Jews can be atheistic or have other religions. Finns and Swedes can have what ever religion they choose.

Couldn’t the Mormons or the other numerous religions also claim to be a “Nation”? Yes they could with equal reasons as the Jews. It only needs massive propaganda.

Could it be true that most Finns view Israel as a technologically advanced western democracy? Why doesn’t Finland have such cooperations with Syria?

Finland has much co-operation with Arab countries including with Syria. In cultural and technological fields. Do not flatter your self. Israel is a tiny rather irrelevant market. By the way the bomb shelter in Baghdad which USA bombed (and killed hundreds) in the Gulf War one was made by Finns.

Western democracy – Israel. Are joking AIG. If Jews were treated as Pals in Israel we would not be a western democracy.

By the way a Finnish researcher Heidi Huhtanen is just starting as as an adviser of prince Hassan bin Talalia. 🙂

March 22nd, 2008, 11:15 pm


Naji said:

Don’t you think that it is very morbid to bet the continuation of your existence on the persistent detriment of others’…!?

I wish you a more positive outlook…!

March 22nd, 2008, 11:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

For me it is a win win situation. Unless the Arabs democratize, they will remain weak. And if they democratize, which I hope will happen, and have really accountable governments, there may not be peace, but there will certainly not be war. The Arab people would be much more interested in advancing their economic conditions then fighting useless wars.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


It is really very simple. Anyone who agrees to tie his future to that of the Jewish people is part of my nation and anyone who does not, is not. What is so difficult to understand? Any member of the Jewish nation can have any religion he chooses be it Budhist or Christian or whatever.

So if there is a Budhist or a Christian or whatever that agrees to tie his future to that of the Jewish people, to me he is part of the Jewish nation. I know several Druze that I am proud that they are part of my nation even though they do not share the same “religion” as me (I am an atheist). But we share enough common values and our future is shared that it is clear to us that we are part of the same nation. That is what “self determination” means. The Jews have self determined themselves as a nation as is the right of any people.

March 22nd, 2008, 11:33 pm


kingcrane jr said:

I do not see any problem with both the Syrian governement and the Lebanese cabinet articulating mutual policies regarding each other.

The Syrian authorities should:
-Allow the Lebanese to move on to a fully non-confessional system, with the future in Lebanon clearly in the hands of the anti-Zionist popular majority. I presume that the Syrian authorities are in agreement with the popular majority in Lebanon.
-If the “international community” ever asks the Syrian authorities to send a contingent to help any party or to keep the status quo in Lebanon, Syria will only do so if mandated by the UNSC. So, no more acting on behalf of the USA or of the KSA. Syria will only send educated soldiers who mind their manners. Do you want French fries or freedom fries with that?
-Deal with the Hariri assassination objectively. Mehlis, who accused Qadhafi to cover for the Mossad when the Berlin disco was bombed, is (along with his successors) now accusing some high-ranking Syrians to cover for other perpetrators. That should not frighten the Syrian authorities, even if some parts of the security apparatus were infiltrated so to have a “false flag” operation.

The Lebanese cabinet should:
-Allow the Syrians to move on to a fully non-confessional system, with the future in Syria clearly in the hands of the anti-Zionist popular majority. I presume that the authorities in Lebanon are in agreement with the popular majority in Lebanon.
-Refrain from internationalizing racist policies against Syrian people. Syrian workers, not Hariri, rebuilt Beirut.
-Look into relocating the Lebanese cabinet to New York, Riyadh, or somewhere else. Since it is difficult to relocate all of Lebanon, relocating the cabinet should do. Do I want freedom fries or French fries with that? Absolutely not.

On behalf of the Syro-Lebanese Patriotic Committee, kingcrane jr.

March 23rd, 2008, 6:44 am


kingcrane jr said:

I meant Syria, 8 lines from the bottom in my previous comment.

March 23rd, 2008, 3:28 pm


wizart said:


Thanks for the excellent article explaining why boycotting Israel should be considered within the realm of possibilities on the road to achieving a one state solution in present day Israel/Palestine according to the American lady describing the tactics which finally lead to the dismantling of the South African apartheid regime.

I paraphrase what she said that without boycott the dialogue is going nowhere. The need for the boycott is to build external pressure to undermine their capacity to sustain economic standards. The goal of the boycott is full equality, dignity and welfare of everyone on the land. If you can’t change their mind, ignore them.

Also I quote what the president of Finland told his Israeli counterpart in 1999 about the “hoped” for peace dialogue at the time.

“Drawing borders as part of a permanent solution is important, but an even more essential precondition for real security is to be able to cross them. President Urho Kekkonen said during the worst period of the Cold War that security does not mean erecting fences, but rather opening doors. I agree.

The premises on which the European Union bases its approach to finding a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East are well known. They were most recently confirmed at the highest political level in Berlin last March and again three months later in Cologne. A prerequisite for peace is that collectively accepted principles and agreements that have been entered into made are respected and implemented. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 remain the foundation for a lasting and just peace settlement.”

The boycott is not retaliation or vengence, it’s a principled action for a long term solution. The boycott opposition would be louder and angrier than the one against South Africa but the just and stable solution to the Israeli’s current apartheid is worth it.

How about cutting off oil supplies to Israel for a start. It doesn’t have to be a boycott of everything. Water and essential medicine is ok but I don’t see why oil should continue to flow to power their tanks and airforce while they dodge international laws.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:03 pm


Georges said:


“It is the Syrian regime that is an affront to most humanity except Iran. Both the US and Europe view Syria as a state that supports terrorism and both are very strong allies of Israel.”

I have made a point to ignore you and your posts in the past, because your comments are generally off the mark, and do not contribute to meaningful dialogue. That said, I feel like I need to jump in here with a blunt response to your comment above.

I don’t give a damn what lip serivce and PR the governments of the US and some European countries pay Israel. This is all driven by various political and economic interests, and certainly is not reflective of the opinions of many people (particularly in Europe). Poll and after poll have proven that. Indeed, it was only a few years ago that these governments voiced support for the Apartheid regime of South Africa, before they turned on it, when it became toxic. Israel is next.

The government of Israel, and even the Israeli people – insofar as Israel is a “democracy” whose government policies reflect the will of its people – is indeed a blight on the Western world and is an offense to human decency. Spin it as you want, Israel’s factual record as a country is irrefutable.

Quite simply, you are a ‘bunch of people’ not one people, no matter how often you repeat your “Jews are a nation” line. You are a bunch of people who have never been united in history, even in biblical times (I can cite numerous Israeli academic sources to support this). You have STOLEN a land that never belonged to you through terrorism – even using today’s definition (think back to the Irgun and the Stern). You have practiced the worst ethnic cleansing in modern history; uprooting and displacing a population (millions of people) that has lived and flourished in Palestine for thousands of years, and instituted a religiously-discriminatory and ethnically-racist state with a constitution and a set of laws that are offensive to any decent human being (Law of Return, Taxation structures, etc.). In your ever-so-short history, you’ve committed crimes of biblical proportions against the people of Palestine, and the region.

Now, I happen to be Syrian who is agnostic and secular. I don’t give a crap about your, or anyone else’s, religious or other beliefs. I am open (indeed I welcome) a historic reconciliation to the problems of the Middle East, but I believe that for that to work, it has to acknowledge (and repent for) the wrongs of the past and address them in a fundamental way. As such, I refuse to accept a “Jewish nation”, any more than I’d accept an Islamic or a Christian one. As I see it, the only viable resolution to the Middle East lies in a secular nation (or nations) that guarantees equal rights and obligations for all its citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Unlike Syria, you have an existential challenge coming up: Within the next 30 to 50 years, given the demographic realities, Israel will have to choose between being a democracy or being a “Jewish state”. This is not in question. Furthermore, as economic, political and military power continues to shift from the US to a multi-polar world with power centers in the East (China, Russia, and later India), Israel will lose its main pillar of support. Unlike the simple, naive, uni-dimensional Americans, the Chinese, Russians and others are neither politically nor theologically invested in Israel and the “Jewish people”, and will enact a Middle East policy that is based on their interests, not on some dumb-ass scriptures. THEN, you, in Israel, are on your own.

So, in short, I invite you to change your perspective for your own good, and the good of your (and our) future generations. I invite you for a little introspection, to see what your peopleS have done since you were brought here, and why your actions have caused such resentment for you. Today, in the current balance of power, Israel, and the Jewish peoples, have a window of opportunity to make peace with Israel’s neighbors based on just terms including recognizing your peoples’ crimes against the Palestinians, returning Syrian occupied lands, and modifying your constitution and laws to transform Israel into a secular nation. In return, you will find a people (and government) who are willing to forgive, and who will welcome your peopleS politically, socially and economically, and weave them into the fabric of our region forever.

So, instead of continuing to spew vitriol and venom against Syria and others to justify what anywhere else would be unjustifiable, you’d have a higher ROI (Return on Investment) if you turn inward and start working to promote a different mindset within Jewish Israel based on what I outlined above. Therein lies your long-term security and salvation.

March 23rd, 2008, 4:20 pm


Naji said:

Well… Georges has done it again… he has said it all, and he has said it well…! Now, all we can do is go back to the “circle-jerk”… where is that naughty Ms Levantine…!? 😉


March 23rd, 2008, 5:49 pm


Shai said:


Though reading your words was far from easy for me – they included much of the same vitriol and venom you mentioned AIG was accustomed to using – I must say that I agree with your conclusions. Indeed the only way Israel will exist long term in this region, is to become a secular state, not a “Jewish” one, to truly accept all its citizens as equal (that goes also for Spharadic Jews, who have been deemed almost forever as a-bit-less-than-Ashkenazi Jews), and to recognize and admit to our crimes. I believe that true peace and reconciliation will not occur until all of these take place. And, deep down inside, I truly hope I get to see this happen in my lifetime. But clearly even you must agree that in order for this to happen, peace must first be reached (even if only superficially) between the nations of the region. The first, and easiest, peace to be achieved should be between your nation and ours. Since we cannot, at the moment, hand over the West Bank to anyone (Abu Mazen?), we must at least start with the Golan, back to Syria. When we do that, a more positive atmosphere can be found again, which will hopefully push us and the Palestinians to find the way to a final agreement.

But please do address the issue of the necessary pragmatic steps to be taken now, before justice can be had. I don’t believe that you, or most Arabs, will find justice for at least another generation or two, after we’ve lived in peace long enough for Israelis to not fear having a secular state, and to be confident enough to introspect as you suggested. Most of us, unfortunately, do not have the confidence and trust you (justifiably) ask us to have right now. There’s nothing rational about it – it is purely emotional, and is still linked back to the Holocaust. Whether you or I like it, or not, that’s a fact here in Israel, and we need 10-20 years to “get over it”. But these have to be quiet years, where Israelis know that they’re living not in a state of war with their neighbors, but hopefully peace. If we are not capable of reaching this temporary state, I’m afraid our conflict will lead us to more bloodshed, and very likely to a large scale catastrophe. None of us want that, and therefore we must seize any opportunity to traverse a different path. To your credit, Syria has done more than it can to reach out to Israel. It is now our turn to realize what we might be missing, if we don’t accept Syria’s overtures.

March 23rd, 2008, 6:48 pm


Alex said:


Great to have you here. I always read your excellent comments.

What are the chances that Israelis, who do not share this pessimistic view of their country’s expectations in the future, will accept to reform in the dramatic way you proposed?

To them it is more like:

We did great the past 60 years, every new US administration is more committed to Israel than the one before, and … you want ISRAEL to be the one who makes all those CONCESSIONS while the murdersous and weak Syrian regime will not change?

To you, what you proposed are good ideas … good for everyone, including Israelis. To them, what you described is “concessions” … the type they would be forced to accept if they were invaded by Syria for example and their army surrendered … this did not happen … in their minds, the opposite happened .. they only remember the following successes

1) destroying Egyptian and Syrian armies in 1967
2) downing 90 Syrian MIGs in 1982 in Lebanon without losing a single Israeli fighter.
3) Successfully destroying “Syria’s nuclear plant”
4) Successfully assassinating Mugniyeh in Damascus.

To them Israel continues to be the unchallenged power in the Middle East … Israel is the IDF and the IDF’s continuing success in its recent operations is indicative Israel’s continuing invincibility.

The rest … what you talked about, is soft issues … they are simply wishful thinking on the part of Arab intellectuals … Israelis heard the same warnings for decades … nothing bad happened to them.

What would you tell them to convince them to look beyond the IDF?

March 23rd, 2008, 7:06 pm


Shai said:


It’s really all about marketing. Theoretically, I would say to Syrians, look, if you find that we Israelis don’t understand the language of words, then it’s quite clear what you have to do… namely, fight to make us understand. But in practice, it seems the Syrian regime is not ready to do battle with Israel directly (only indirectly through proxies). So the only remaining options entail better marketing. Perhaps Syria needs to speak a little louder on podiums around the world, presenting Israel as the one unwilling to have peace, pointing to all the peaceful gestures by Bashar, etc. There is no public discourse inside Israel about Syrian overtures. Most Israelis only hear about Syria’s support of Hezbollah and Hamas, about Syria enabling Iran to arm Hezbollah, about Syria’s wishes to control Lebanon, etc. Nothing about Syria’s wishes to have peace with Israel. It’s time for Syria to find smart ways of showing our true colors. Surely Bashar can find some talented marketing people in Damascus, or subcontract elsewhere, no? Problem is, that he’s afraid to look like he’s begging Israel to make peace. I can understand that. But the alternative is not great for Bashar either. If he was ready, I’d be willing to be his PR advisor… 🙂

March 23rd, 2008, 7:29 pm


Shai said:


I’m not getting too excited by Peres’s appalling comments today regarding Syria. It could also be in response to Muallem’s recent remark that all options are on the table, not just the peaceful ones. For the politicians, this is a game. They play with words, just as they play with us. One day they’re anti, the next day pro, and the day after, neither one. They constantly have their personal reputation as priority number one, they love to be loved, and they’re willing to strike deals with the devil just to stay in power. So I’m not overly concerned. Peres hasn’t changed his skin. He still believes in the “New Middle East”. He probably, though, doesn’t want to see Netanyahu win the next election, and then cut him out of the peace loop, so he’s sounding now more hawkish, hoping voters will support Labor or Kadima, and then he’ll be able to appear on White House lawns, and in Scandinavian capitals, to sign peace treaties, and accept awards.

What’s important now, more than ever, is that Track II continues. Syria is still willing to support it, on our side we have plenty of talented men and women who are working hard at it, and now when we’ll add some Americans as a third side, things will hopefully move forward again. We just need to pass these next 9-12 months, see who’s in Washington next, and perhaps even in Jerusalem, and then I believe things will change for the better. In a cruel kind of way, the worse this interim period will be, the greater the chances the aftermath will bring about change… Kind of sad, no? But that’s reality, and that’s what we have to deal with. We mustn’t give up!

March 23rd, 2008, 7:50 pm


wizart said:

Simo has had excellent suggestions for quite a while and recently observed there’s no Osama bin Lama in China despite recent violence 🙂 I quote his earlier exchange which I just came across wishing for Syria to emulate Nordic nations in its ongoing development.

“To explain my opinion Ehsani2 I am not against USA as a country, but I do not like its present foreign policy neither I do consider USA as a perfect example to the world. However USA is presently so bound in Middle East problems, that avoiding discussing about USA is impossible, especially when Americans are suggesting American medicines. We in the Nordic countries have managed to create with rather few natural resources well balanced extremely wealthy societies, even it has meant high progressive taxes and many other tricks US “free trade” economists consider “socialist”. Maybe Syria and others Arab countries should turn their eyes to north when searching forms in developing their economy and society.

At 5/29/2006 03:01:16 PM, EHSANI2 said…

If you can prescribe a course that can make future Syria look like Finalnd rather than America, I would be a very happy camper.

At 5/29/2006 06:14:52 PM, Zenobia of the East and West said…

Yes! lets use Finland as the model rather than the USA. I will be a happier camper too.”

March 23rd, 2008, 8:04 pm


Shai said:


Glad to see so many happy campers here tonight… 🙂

But do recall that Finland also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, not just an amazing super-successful model society. Depression is almost the state-bird in Finland, though I’m not sure many know why (including psychiatrists).

March 23rd, 2008, 8:14 pm


Naji said:

… 😀

That was a little below the belt, Shai…!

March 23rd, 2008, 8:20 pm


Shai said:


Compared to the massive crap-upon I’ve had to deal with from that Simo-hero of Wizart’s, I’d say that was one visit to the gynecologist even the patient couldn’t feel… 🙂

March 23rd, 2008, 8:37 pm


Georges said:


Though I am not in full agreement with you, I appreciate your comment. Your words carry a genuine and sincere desire for peace, which I think will be met in kind on the Syrian side. If what you mention is practically possible, then I think we could have something to build on. That said, I have some comments/questions about what you suggest:

First, I didn’t (and don’t) dispute the Holocaust. But, what we all (Syrians, Palestinians and others) continue to struggle with is: Why are we made to pay for the eggregious sins of the Germans and others against you? Assuming you still need 10-20 years to ‘get over it’, are you suggesting that then, you’d be ready – emotionally and materially – to return ALL of the Golan including all shores of Lake Tiberius back to Syria so that we can reach that superficial peace between the nations? Or, are we to expect a round of negotiations over what is rightfully and clearly ours?

What about the Palestinians? You say that we should have a peace, even a superficial one, in order build toward a more real peace. I do agree that a peace agreement with Syria is relatively easy. However, a superficial peace with Syria would not deliver (or pave the way for) any real solution, as long as the main problem (namely, Palestinian-Israeli peace) is not addressed. You have agreements with Egypt and Jordan to prove this. For your approach to work, in addition to a superficial peace agreement with Syria, you’ll need a ‘superficial’ peace agreement with the Palestinians, where the entire occupied territories must be returned and settlements dismantled completely. Whether it’s Abu-Mazen or someone else is not up to me or you; it’s a matter for the Palestinians to determine, if you believe in democracy.

And even if we can expect to be handed the Golan and Occupied Territories, in their entirety, within 20 years, the above implies that for about a generation, we’re supposed to offer you “quiet”. Does that mean that the people of the Golan, the West Bank, and Gaza must not resist the status quo in any way? What are we to tell our people….spend yet another generation of racism, occupation, subjugation, checkpoints, dispossession, humiliation and unemployment so the Israelis can grieve through wrongs done to them 60 years ago that we had nothing to do with?

And, what guarantees do we have that a generation from now, you’re going to be ready…and that you’ll be “over it”? How do we know that a generation of quiet does not serve to reinforce your claim to the land, particularly in light of the continuing settlement in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan?

Your tone is positive; if there were more of you who are open-minded and willing to find a solution based on a recognition of the past injustices, I feel confident that we can. Over the past 60 years, we (Arabic-speaking countries) have come a long way toward accepting our new reality. Now, it’s time for Israelis (and Jews) to do the same on your side, and realize the price you have to pay and the compromises that you have to make to reach true, long-lasting peace.

March 23rd, 2008, 8:37 pm


wizart said:


Cold long winters over there could be depressing.

Finland is also home to Nokia which is the largest mobile cell phone manufacturer in the world. Perhaps if there’s peace in the warm middle east more of them will enjoy warmer weather.

By the way I don’t want them to stop selling Nokia phones to you right now although that might change in case oil keeps flowing to your tanks:)

March 23rd, 2008, 8:40 pm


Alex said:

Shai … in the winter the sun rises at 10am and its set at 2pm … Finland takes some getting used to.

As for Peres … the Syrians don’t trust him at all. He is totally committed to weakening Syria and to pursuing the “Arab Moderates” option.

If you look at the last 5 times a high Syria official mentioned anthing related to keeping all option open, or to fighting Israel, 4 out of 5 times it was responding to pressure (or ridicule) from “Moderate Arabs” media saying that Syria is begging Israel to talk while the Palestinians or Lebanese are suffering as a result of Syria’s diabolic plans …etc.

So the Syrians feel the need to mention that they are not afraid to fight Israel … etc.

March 23rd, 2008, 8:47 pm


Georges said:


I agree fully with your comment about Syria’s poor marketing. I look at Syria’s diplomats; by and large they are inadequate. Syria has a strong case to make – whether regarding Lebanon, Iraq or Israel, but we don’t have the PR strategy, people and tools to do it. In some (most) cases, our diplomats actually do us more harm than good.

March 23rd, 2008, 8:49 pm


Shai said:


You said a lot of things in relatively short space, so I’ll start with the end – yes, it is indeed our time to accepting certain realities, including our responsibility for the suffering of millions of Palestinians (mainly) in our region.

It’s not your fault, because you don’t visit SC every day, nor read all my comments, so I can’t expect you to know my views on the issues you discussed. But of course I do not think that Arabs should pay any price because we’re still living with our Holocaust complexes. Also, I believe that Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines both in the West Bank and the Golan. These territories are not ours, and should be given back to their rightful owners, period. I also do not believe there will ever be peace between Jews and Arabs before ALL the conflicts are resolved, including and especially the Israeli-Palestinian one. We should start with the Golan, and continue in the West Bank.

When I say 10-20 years to “get over it”, what I mean is that once we sign peace agreements with our neighbors, and once Israelis see that Syrians and Lebanese, and Palestinians, really do not wish to “throw us to the sea”, and that we can indeed live in peace with one another, then our innate fears will begin to disappear. It is then that we’ll be able to see ourselves truly a part of the Middle East and, as I’ve suggested on many occasions, consider Israel not as a Jewish state, but as a secular one, and begin the process of reconciliation and introspection that you talked about. There are no guarantees to anything. Just as you cannot guarantee that Arabs will one day forgive us for our crimes, I cannot guarantee that Israelis will be strong enough to take responsibility for their actions. I do, however, believe that there’s a good likelihood of both these happening, if we finally withdraw to the 1967 lines, make peace with Syria and Palestine, and begin living in a region full of hope, rather than desperation.

March 23rd, 2008, 8:51 pm


Shai said:


Yes, I do understand that. Peres has disappointed me, and most Israelis actually. He is much more of a dinosaur-politician, willing to do and say just about anything to continue to appear in political parties, and to receive the “red carpet” in various world capitals (especially Morocco… for some reason they think he’s God).


Unfortunately, our diplomats are doing the same for us as well… Also, I meant to say that you’re addressing issues in a rational way (again), but do understand that much of the innate fears Israelis have are purely based on emotion. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why an average Israel would still fear his/her existence today, given the military balance in the region, and our own (apparent) strategic capabilities. I can understand the concerns when it comes to Iran, but certainly not existential ones. Still, I lived to see my grandmother’s sister’s arm with those terrible numbers tattooed on it, courtesy of Nazi officers in Auschwitz. Many Israelis cannot get that image out of their minds, also when they think of Hamas, HA, Syria, Iran, you name it. These same Israelis, also haven’t had more than 5 minutes in their entire lives across from an Arab. But the same I suppose also goes for the average Arab in the region. That’s perhaps the worst thing… we simply haven’t interacted with each other, to know we’re both humane people, not just blood-thirsty soldiers.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:00 pm


Shai said:


As we speak, I am charging up my Nokia N95 phone. I was proud to buy it, though I’m not sure I would have felt the same way, had I known of your Simo-hero beforehand… 🙂 Maybe I would have bought a Wizart-phone instead.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:01 pm


wizart said:


You must be on a mission to disrupt the boycotting campaign and absorb our energies in pursuing illusions of peace. You should join the goal of stopping the flow of oil to Israel and switch to solar energy only.

Feel free to sell your car now and shop for a bike real soon.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:03 pm


Shai said:


Fine. I’ll do that. By the way, I’m completely with you on switching to solar energy, especially here in this region. For crying out loud, that’s one natural resource we ALL have an abundance of, and are wasting approximately 100% of it! What a shame, eh?

March 23rd, 2008, 9:16 pm


wizart said:


Fantastic. Thanks. I hope you reorient your research from nukes to solar and fly solar made spy planes in broad daylight. Please make sure you switch to a jewish phone too w/ special advanced warning system for all potential peace processes and ramifications. Cheers:)

March 23rd, 2008, 9:23 pm


Shai said:


We’re currently working on something called “Zionano technology”, which is using tiny Zionist molecules in a multitude of appliances, which give us early warning of any anti-Zionist using them. We can of course apply this to Jewish phones, Jewish spy planes, etc. I hear KSA, Kuwait, and the M14 are interested in investing in this… Cheney is here to close the deal, taking a 15% cut for himself, and for Dubya (“got to feed the kids…”)

March 23rd, 2008, 9:31 pm


wizart said:


Your Zenano tech has been sighted in china and already been mass produced at a fraction of your cost so and by the way don’t think about any cheap chinese bikes coming to your shores so you can use chainsaw cheney money to buy made in the USA Treks built to last.

March 23rd, 2008, 9:36 pm


Shai said:


I happen to own a Trek (purchased in Europe, though), but the rest of my house appliances are probably made in China. I’ve had a number of colleagues who have done business in China and, odd as it may be, they all say the same thing: that the Chinese think Israel is a nation of 100 million… Following the Oslo Accords, China essentially opened up to Israel, and there’s tons of business going on between the two countries. Yes – they are experts at copying or mass producing just about anything. Did you know that there are more web pages in Chinese than in English online? Chances are, there’s already a Chinese mini-Wizart, and mini-Shai out there, sitting on a shelf, waiting to be mass produced at a fraction of the cost. Come to think of it, is that a good thing? 🙂

March 23rd, 2008, 9:47 pm


wizart said:


oh ya. that’s a very good thing. Trade is good to improve quality of lives and the Chinese rely on Middle East and African oil quite a lot so as to act as the world’s factory. I can imagine the Saudi Wahhabis one day deciding to stop oil production over the holy month of Ramadan in order to see that there’s a nation in Israel that can be self sufficient and at peace with its important oil supplying neighbors.

Good Night!

March 23rd, 2008, 10:01 pm


Shai said:


Israel has traditionally received oil from: Mexico, Egypt, Norway, Columbia, Angola, Russia, and Kazakhstan. I don’t think we’ve ever imported oil from the Saudi Wahhabis…

Good Night.

March 23rd, 2008, 10:08 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

First, Alex said it very well. The only thing he forgot to mention that in 48 the economic situation in Syria and Israel was similar. Now the average Israeli is 6-7 times richer than the average Syrian and Israel is about to join the OECD.

Second, since 48, we heard the exact same arguments that you are raising now. Does Arab Nationalsim not innovate one bit? In the end, you are just plain wrong. You cannot face reality and will therefore keep on losing well into the future.

You main problem is that you do not view us as a nation just as a “bunch of people”. But then, this does not stand up to any scrutiny. How is it possible that a bunch of unrelated people were able to produce a vibrant democracy and economy and be able to stand to all the “real” nations in out region? Why is it that most bloggers believe that democracy in Syria would lead to civil war like Iraq and in Israel there is no fear of civil war?

You see Georges, your main problem is that you do not understand the Jewish people. What I suggest is that you read well what Azmi Bishara has to say. He at least lived most of his life in Israel and really understands it, unlike you who practices just wishful thinking:

An excerpt:
“Israel, on the other hand, did develop a unified national identity as a tool to use against the Arabs, but rather because, for the Zionists, it was the only way to organise a modern state. Transforming the Jews into a single people like other peoples, as Herzl put it, was a Zionist ideal. Israel did not choose democracy and the sovereignty of law for its society because the Arabs were out there, but because democracy, as a political-cultural system that regulates the relationship between the individual, society and the state, was perceived as the optimum way to produce the type of human being a modern society needs.”

March 23rd, 2008, 11:42 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Another important excerpt:
“The diversity of the Zionist polity is not a sign of weakness but of strength. It is indicative of the ability of a people, in spite of their diversity, to organise themselves on the basis of the rules of the democratic game and consensus over an established set of national principles, forged into a cohesive, working entity. The odd thing is that those people who came to Palestine did not come from a single national background or even, frequently, from a democratic culture. Yet, they succeeded in creating a national bond to serve as a basis on which to ground a democratic system for Jews in Israel while more than half a century after the nakba Arab countries are loath to respect the rules of democracy for fear of factionalism.”

Georges, how about facing reality once and for all? Of course you won’t listen to me, but at least listen to Bisharaa who knows Israel inside out.

March 23rd, 2008, 11:55 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Not to change the subject, but since you did take the trouble to respond to my comment a few days ago on the other post, I thought I’d let you know that I responded back. I’ve pasted my response below. Cheers.



Here’s a response to your post from yesterday.

1. I don’t have an innate contempt or any kind superiority or inferiority complex toward Lebanon or the Lebanese… So, in principle, we have the raw ingredients to have an exceptionally close relationship, if we can neutralize the political issue…


2. … In other words, let us each take responsibility and admit culpability for our own problems. To get ahead, let’s each clean house (and we both have much to clean) and come to the other with a clear and objective understanding of our issues and our baggage.

Again, agreed. Georges, I am actually much more interested in finding faults within Lebanon than in Syria, the reason being that I personally (as a Lebanese citizen) have a much better chance of having an effect on my own government than Syria’s government. However, while I recognize your frustration with knee-jerk anti-Syrianism (and I have criticized this behavior on the part of M14 leaders), I reserve the right to be extremely vigilant with respect to Damascus’s game plan for Lebanon… more on this below.

4. Though I refuse to continue to plead my innocence and repeatedly prove that I’m not interested in annexing Lebanon or otherwise destabilizing it, I will offer that I don’t believe in the annexation, occupation, or subjugation of any territory or people.

Ok, but you are also not the President of Syria, Georges. You may be against subjugation, but what makes you confident that the regime isn’t?

It is telling, in my opinion, that you used the words “my innocence” and “I’m not interested in annexing Lebanon.” Unfortunately, Georges, it’s not up to you. I wish it were. A few weeks ago I wrote a commentary for SC that argued for giving the Lebanese opposition a veto in the cabinet in order to solve the short-term crisis in the interests of long-term political reconciliation … But did the majority take my advice? No. Why? Because it’s not up to me. Similarly, your analysis — though well-meaning and intelligent — has little to do with reality. Why? Because unlike you, Syria’s rulers are … Baathist dictators… That’s reality.

To my mind, the crisis in Lebanon today is very serious for Syria, and it will refuse to lose. Losing in Lebanon is simply not an option for Syria. As Ausamaa said, quite rightly: Lebanese independence ends where Syrian national security begins. This is exactly right. Syria cannot afford to take any chances, and it will do anything necessary to ensure that Lebanon will not be a threat. From reading your own commentary, I think that you would agree with this point.

Where we fundamentally disagree, it appears, is on the question of what constitutes a Lebanese “threat”. To my mind, anything less than the pre-2005 levels of Syrian influence in Lebanon would constitute an intolerable threat to Syrian national security and its regional interests. And so, entertaining the prospect of an independent Lebanon — given the regional dynamics at the present time — is simply out of the question for Syria, even if there were some way to prevent the influence of other foreign powers in Beirut.

Without the Lebanese card, Syria’s bargaining position at the negotiation table with Israel is extremely weak indeed. And quite apart from the Israeli issue, an independent Lebanon next door, with strong and stable institutions of governance, a fair electoral law, independent judiciary, bicameral legislature, strong internal security forces, electoral commission with oversight on campaign finance and media practices, (in short, a real democracy!) is as intolerable to Syria at this stage as a popularly elected Hamas government is to America. Under such a system, the Lebanese might wake up and realize that they have far more in common with each other than their divisive feudal leaders once told them, and that they have common interests as well. Unfortunately, those common interests may not mesh with those of Syria’s regime.

That’s the problem with democracy… it’s like a box of chocolates.

Anyway, that’s my qirshayn.

March 24th, 2008, 12:44 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your view will never fly because it is not internally consistent.
You say the West Bank and the Golan should be returned because they do not belong to us. But why then shouldn’t Yafo and Lod and Haifa and hundreds of Arab villages that do not exist today not be returned? What is the difference between the Golan and Lod? For me there is no difference. Both were taken legally in a war of self defense. I may, out of pragmatic reasons, agree to give back the Golan to a democratic Syria but there is no prinicipled difference between the Golan and Lod.

So, please explain, how is Lod different from the Golan except that they were taken 20 years apart? Why should one be returned and not the other? Why is the Golan not ours but Lod is ours?

March 24th, 2008, 12:51 am


Shai said:


Your comments strike me as somewhat surprising. Are you on the Israeli side, or the Palestinian’s? You’re right, from the Palestinians’ point of view, there’s absolutely no difference between the West Bank and Lod, Haifa, or Jaffa. But since Israelis today still prefer a two-state solution over a single-state one, the right-of-return will take place apparently only to the West Bank territories (and Gaza), and not to cities inside the green line. As I mentioned in the past here, if Jews and Arabs can live in peace for a generation or two, I see it as a possibility for Israel to want to incorporate itself into a sort-of UME (United Middle East), a mix of U.S.A. and the E.U., where citizens can pretty much live and work in any state they wish. If or when that happens, Palestinians will essentially be able to return to any place they choose within this modern-state Israel. Of course, Israel will then lose its “Jewish State” status, but in the long run, I’m not sure it is either necessary, smart, or even possible to maintain, if it is to remain a democracy.

At the moment, there is no possibility to enable millions of Palestinians to return to their homes inside Israel, but only to the West Bank and Gaza. I see no reason to wait for the Palestinians to become a model democratic society (like Israel?…), nor the Syrians, and we should move forward in returning these lands. If one day Jews want to go live in Poland, Germany, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, etc., they can vacate their Haifa and Lod homes, and from my point of view, be replaced by Palestinians. I have no problems with either one, or both.

March 24th, 2008, 5:11 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I am on the side of talking sense and truth to one another.
You say the Golan does not belong to us. Does Lod belong to us from your point of view?

March 24th, 2008, 5:42 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My point is simple. If you want to convince people, at the very least your point of view has to be internally consistent.

You could either believe Lod does not belong to us and then you will have to advocate returning it just like the Golan or your position is that Lod does belong to us but then you have to explain how Lod is different than the Golan. You may have a good explanation, I would like to hear it.

March 24th, 2008, 5:51 am


Naji said:

…that’s why, as much as they loath him, most commentators on this blog cannot refrain from continuing to engage AIG…!! No matter how abhorrent, an internally consistent logic is always very compelling. Think of how robust and compelling tens of millions of people found the Nazi logics…!!

March 24th, 2008, 6:39 am


Shai said:


Okay, let’s try to summarize. I believe that the Golan and the West Bank are territories that do not belong to us. Before 1948, Lod, and Jaffa, also didn’t belong to us. So in theory, if justice was to prevail, Palestinians should be allowed back into all their towns and villages, just as Syrians will be allowed back onto the Golan. But there’s theory, and there’s practice. To be pragmatic, Israelis today (you and I included) are not ready to lose our “Jewish State” status just yet. We cannot, even if justice would have it so, receive 2 million Palestinian refugees into the green line. We can, and should, at least give back the West Bank, and the Golan. If I thought there was a chance in the world to live in peace with the Arabs by not giving back these territories, maybe I’d consider keeping them, and maybe having a one-state solution. But we’re just not there yet. We are, however, doing a whole lot of killing and getting killed, because we’re not withdrawing to the 1967 lines. The entire Arab world, in Riyadh two years ago, demanded of Israel to withdraw to the 1967 lines, not to the 1948 ones. They didn’t have to do this. They could have remained with the Khartoum “3 No’s”. We’d better understand, and take advantage, of that change in spirit, before it disappears. If we flex our muscles now, instead of open our arms and minds and embrace such opportunities, this compromise on the part of the Arabs will evaporate, perhaps not to return for decades. Time is not on our side, my friend, though I know you think otherwise…

March 24th, 2008, 7:39 am


oil for food said:

Our political views
– Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who are we?

‘Boycott Israel’ was initiated by a group of Palestine sympathizers in February 2001. We were many that had had enough of the scandalous and hostile policy towards the Palestinians, a line of politics that led to the Al-Aqsa intifada that broke out in September 2000. A lot of people in Norway participated in the demonstrations and campaigns, but we feel it is necessary to take it one step further.

Earlier in the nineties the Norwegian Palestine Committee started a boycott campaign of Israeli products, especially Jaffa oranges. The last years this campaign has not been organized centrally, but has functioned more as individuals have kept it going on their own. We wanted to breathe new life into the organized boycott.

As for now, a long list of parties, political youth organizations, trade unions and solidarity organizations have joined us. Since the list is continously updated and in Norwegian, we don´t have it here on the English pages.

Do you want to join?
If you are a member of an organization, we encourage you and your organization to join ‘Boycott Israel’. This can be done by sending an e-mail to or sending a fax to Boycott Israel c/o Fellesutvalget for Palestina – nr. 22 17 05 51.

Contact persons on the local level
Check out “Hvem er vi?”

March 24th, 2008, 10:30 am


Akbar Palace said:

Shai stated:

If I thought there was a chance in the world to live in peace with the Arabs by not giving back these territories, maybe I’d consider keeping them, and maybe having a one-state solution.


Have you ever “thought there was a chance in the world” that war would continue by GIVING BACK these terrortories?

Say, like Gaza?

March 24th, 2008, 2:26 pm


Shai said:


You’re right. Unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza has proven to be a mistake. I don’t think we should repeat it with the West Bank or the Golan. We should only withdraw, when we sign peace with those who receive it.

March 24th, 2008, 2:35 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In the end your arguments are not principled but pragmatic. You advocate doing the best we can under the given circumstances.
The problem is that pragmatic solutions reflect the balance of power on the ground, something which Arabs that are seeking “justice” will not accept. So basically, you are wasting your time and I am sad to say lowering the chances of true democratic reform in the middle east.

But don’t listen to me. Listen to what others on the blog are telling you.

As for boycotting Israel, why don’t you give it a shot? I also think it will not work but I also think that giving back the Golan to a dictator will not help. So why not try boycotting first? I’d like to hear you declare that you will stop buying Israeli goods. Why not give it a try? Why not be “flexible”? I feel that you are not being “flexible” enough and open to ideas. If it can perhaps stop the war you predict then why not? I am really disappointed in your conservative thinking about this issue.

March 24th, 2008, 3:24 pm


Shai said:


I can’t tell anymore when you’re being funny, and when you’re not. Yes, my arguments absolutely are meant to be pragmatic, not principled. I do advocate doing the best we can under these circumstances. You’re right, Arabs that seek justice today will not be satisfied with my solutions. Hopefully, there will be enough Arab leaders that are pragmatic as well. In fact, I think Bashar is pragmatic, as he does not place a condition of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict BEFORE making peace with Israel. I therefore disagree with you – I’m not wasting my time. I might be wasting yours…

I’ve stated before that I’m not concerned (right now) with democratic reform in the Middle East. We don’t have time for that right now, nor is it our responsibility to make it happen. I am listening to others on this blog, like Alex, Qifa Nabki, Norman, Offended, Enlightened, Honest Patriot, Zenobia, and others I failed to mention, who very much believe peace is doable, and now, not when everyone’s nice and democratic 30 years from now.

Boycotting Israel? Why would I do that? Israel is my country. I can, and should, find better ways of battling our Apartheid-like behavior the past 40 years. Although I prefer the “GAP” over Israeli-made shirts and jeans, I will still continue buying tons of Israeli products, as it is my Industry and economy as well. I’ve mentioned above that a boycott will not stop war, nor solve any of our problems. I’m sorry you’re disappointed in me…

March 24th, 2008, 4:00 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Shai, many of us here are not disappointed in you. We are continuing the march that is inevitable for the sake of everyone.

March 24th, 2008, 4:09 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

My argument is of course tongue in cheek but I appreciate your honesty.

Why are we both making assumptions about how many Arabs are pragmatic versus “justice” seeking? Let’s ask outright each person you engage and mention: Are you for a pragmatic solution, or for a solution based on “justice”? I think your assumptions are incorrect but let’s wait and see. What I think you will hear is that a peace based on a pragmatic solution is not a real peace.

About Bashar, it seems you are wrong. He does want a solution to the Palestinian problem before peace with Israel.

March 24th, 2008, 4:11 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Really? You are not even a little disappointed that Shai does not support boycotting Israel?

March 24th, 2008, 4:12 pm


Yehhia Helmy said:

POOR Raed Soboh of Memes Lebanon is dead.

March 2nd, 2011, 3:18 am



Thank you for the notice. But it was his brother Mokdam Soboh who died. May he rest in peace.

March 2nd, 2011, 5:53 pm


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