Syria’s Bourse – The Launch & Recommendations for Enhanced Liquidity

BY Ehsani2 (who works for a global financial institution in the area of bonds and derivatives)
For Syria Comment, March 26, 2009

Syria launched its stock exchange last week after years of delays in the latest step to liberalize the country’s largely state-controlled economy. The first step toward creating a legal framework for the exchange was taken in June 2005 with the promulgation of law No. 22 following the Presidential order to establish the “Syrian Commission of Financial Markets and Securities.” The second step was made on September 2006 with the announcement of Decree No. 55, known as the “Damascus Securities Exchange Law.” In July 2008, Decree No 36 amended previous laws to facilitate limited liability companies and local banks in offering general financial services.

Between June 2008 and January 2009, the DSE formalized and announced a number of regulatory resolutions covering items such as the code of conduct, market fees, and listing and trading rules.

The delay in the DSE launch can be blamed in part to the U.S. economic sanctions imposed on Syria which bedeviled efforts by officials to secure the computer system to run the exchange. Most platforms use U.S. technology which is proscribed by the US government. The Syrian government must also bear some blame for the delay, however. Not until the summer of 2008 was the legal framework established to support the exchange.

While delays were frustrating to some, most Syrians have grown accustomed to the slow and awkward crab walk that characterizes their government’s approach to policy formulation. Launching a securities exchange has required a revolution in economic thinking. For bureaucrats brought up within the strictures of Syria’s centrally planned economy, opening a securities exchange is an act of self-reinvention. The new laws and regulations have had to be tailored to work within a largely outdated legal and regulatory system. Even so, the revolution is not complete as the directors of the exchange insist that it will promote investment and not speculation.

The Launch:

On the first day of trading, March 10, 2009, only six companies were listed and only one traded. The total volume traded was 15 shares at an average price of SYP 1050 per share for a total value of SYP 15,750 or USD 342.

On the second day of trading, March 16, again, only one company traded (same company). The total volume traded this time was 25 shares in 2 trades at an average price of SYP 950 for a total value of SYP 23,750 or USD 516.

On the third day of trading, March 19, the shares of two more companies traded. A total of 5 trades took place. The volume traded grew to 1407 shares with a total market value of SYP 476,139 or USD 10,351.

On March 23, the volume of shares traded dropped back to only 2. The number of shares traded also dropped back to 800 shares while the value amounted to SYP 159,000 or USD 3457.

On March 26, the fifth day of trading, the number of shares traded was 129 shares for a total value of SYP 29,250 or USD 636.

Bank Audi Indices:

On March 17th, Bank Audi Syria announced that it would create its own “Audi Indices for DSE”. The various indices would help market participants track the activity of the market in terms of size, prices and trading volumes.

According to the bank and by the close of business on March 23rd, the market capitalization of all six listed companies was at SYP 18,588,750,000 or USD 404 million.

Why the lack of market volume?

While one can take comfort from the fact that the market is finally up and running, it is clear that the trading volumes are extremely disappointing.

There are several reasons for this severe lack of liquidity. While there are between 7500 and 10,000 shareholders who can potentially sell their shares to willing new buyers, there are reportedly less than 100 accounts open to date. In order to trade on the DSE, an individual has to open an account at one of the five approved financial brokers.

The other reason for the lack of liquidity concerns two particular aspects of the trading rules of the DSE as announced on January 7th of 2009. Section 24 of rule No 231 (trading rules) stipulates that a broker cannot sell a security on the same day of purchase. Section 25 of the same rule stipulates that the price change of a security one any one day cannot exceed a certain percentage both on the way up as well as down. While this percentage was not fixed by the ruling itself, DSE has announced that this percentage is currently pegged at 2%.

Personal observations:

The main government agency in charge of regulating the DSE is the Syrian Commission on Financial markets & securities. The Commission’s main stated mission is “to establish a fair market with a high standard of transparency, efficiency and depth”.

In its zeal to protect investors, the commission seems to have concluded that both sections 24 and 25 above are an essential part of its attempt to protect against volatile movements in daily security prices.

While this is understandable, the side effect of these measures has been a severe lack of liquidity and a lack of market depth that is supposedly part of the commission’s mission.

For the DSE to enjoy higher trading volumes and liquidity, the commission must revise its 2% daily price movement limit by raising it to 10.0% and it must also allow investors to buy and sell on the same day. The notion that waiting one day to sell a security turns a “trader” into an “investor” is not credible.

On March 23rd, Nadim Issa of Bloomberg News reported how the bourse struggled to attract volume as investors shun transactions because of the 2% limit on share movement. It was argued that this limit is impeding trading as the high volume of buy orders meant that prices had to move beyond the 2% limit to draw the sellers who refused to sell their shares 2% higher than the previous day’s close.

“There were a lot of buy orders but not enough sell orders on the other five companies,” said Omar Ghraoui, chief operating officer at Damascus-based Bemo Saudi Fransi Finance SA, the brokerage unit of Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi SA. The fluctuation limit is impeding trading and the brokerages are hoping the bourse will change the regulation, he added…. “We had many shareholders from Banque Bemo who were willing to buy Bemo’s shares but no one wanted to sell,” Ghraoui said.

The reason that many want to buy but none will sell is the 2% limit. Everyone believes that the Bemo shares are worth more than yesterday’s closing price plus 2% so they hold on to it. Let us suppose that new information causes the stock owner to believe that his stock is worth 10% more than yesterday’s closing price, he will refuse to sell until the market advances by 10%. This would take four trading days if it rises by 2% each day. But if no one is willing to sell stock, the market will not register a trade and the stock will become frozen at its low price. Broker’s will have to engineer a price rise by selling a single stock to a friend in an arranged transaction in order to get the market to move. In theory the market will constantly be running after a “true” price but rarely reaching it because “speculation” is prohibited. Markets are speculative by nature. Forbidding a price movement greater than 2% will lead to a frozen market, as we have seen happen in the first week of trading. Fortunately this problem is easy to solve by lifting the fluctuation limit.

The 2% daily price limit means that a stock worth close to USD 20.0 cannot go up or down by more than 50 cents a day. Since brokerage is set by the DSE at a range of 0.0034-0.0054 of market price, one expects to pay around 8 cents in brokerage alone. The market cannot possibly function with such a constraint if for no other reason than that the six brokerage companies will struggle to stay in business for long given the exceedingly low trading volumes. Also, there is no tax on profits made in the market.

Of the six companies that decided to list on the DSE, four are banking institutions. The other two are in the fields of transportation (Hama based) and publishing (Damascus based).

The latest financial disclosures of these companies will be announced in April. Based on preliminary data, the six institutions seem to have earned a combined after tax profit total of close to USD 37 million. The four banks make up nearly 96% of this total. Both the publishing and transportation companies combined seem to have earned less than $2.5 million. Given that the six companies have a market capitalization of $404 million, the current price to earnings ratio for the total market is near 11.20. This is attractive.

A number of the banks that dominate the market capitalization are enjoying healthy growth in earnings. In order to ascertain whether the current share prices are attractive one needs to calculate a forward price earnings ratio. Given the trajectory of the earnings, it is clear that on a forward basis, the price multiple is well below the 11.3 level. Were profits to rise by 20%, the forward P/E ratio drops to around 9.3 at the current share prices. The market is rather under priced and presents a buying opportunity.

While it is difficult to know the precise order book to ascertain the number of buyers and sellers at these prices, it is safe to assume that there are many more buyers than sellers. The 2% price limit has brought the market to a standstill.

Addendum: It is worth noting the volume of other regional stock markets:

  • Lebanon trades around 100,000 shares a day
  • Egypt between 50 and 100 million
  • Qatar’s average is 10 million
  • Jordan = 30 million.
  • Saudi and UAE = 300 million each
  • GCC Region – the top 200 companies trade between 500 million and one billion shares
  • Iran = 50 million
  • Israel = 150 million
  • The U.S. Trades an average of 1.5 billion a day in the S&P 500 and another 800 million on Nasdaq


The DSE and its regulators must take several urgent steps to improve market liquidity and encourage more public listings. The daily price limit of 2% must be increased immediately. Buying and selling on the same day must also be allowed. The DSE board must be given more authority to make recommendations and make changes as market conditions warrant. Large family owned businesses have yet to list on the exchange, which is a considerable weakness, given that most Syrian businesses are family owned. A committee should be formed to look for ways to accelerate this process. Tax laws are likely to blame for the low participation of this sector. Finally, procedures for opening accounts and encouraging public participation must be streamlined. Something is not working if less than 100 accounts have been opened to date.

addendum: See this NYTImes article by Robert Worth on the Stock Market – Syria Finds Right Ingredients to Start a Stock Market From Scratch

Aleppo Souq by Ketan Gajria 2009. Times are changing

Aleppo Souq by Ketan Gajria 2009. Times are changing (Click to enlarge)

Comments (112)

Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

Do you think the Israelis hit a REAL military arms convoy, or was it just another North Korean built baby-milk factory like the one in Syria?

March 26th, 2009, 7:55 pm


Nour said:

No it’s possible they could have hit a military arms convoy, but so what? Palestinians have a right to try to obtain arms in any way possible in order to fight the terrorist army of “Israel”.

March 26th, 2009, 8:19 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


Thank you for your knowledgeable report.
I’m not very optimistic regarding DSE. And Not because of the lack of the potential of the Syrian economy.

“….. The Commission’s main stated mission is “to establish a fair market with a high standard of transparency, efficiency and depth”.
This is not enough for a successful SE.

A functional and sufficient stock-exchange needs certain environment
to flourish: Political freedoms, TOTAL independence (within the set
of rules and fair regulations), freedom of the [economic] press, and more.

SE in present Syria, is like opening Hide-Park debate forum in a jail.

March 26th, 2009, 8:44 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Palestinians have a right to try to obtain arms in any way possible in order to fight the terrorist army of “Israel”.

OK Nour,

Good luck with that.

March 26th, 2009, 10:02 pm


SimoHurtta said:

A functional and sufficient stock-exchange needs certain environment
to flourish: Political freedoms, TOTAL independence (within the set
of rules and fair regulations), freedom of the [economic] press, and more.

Like in China and Russia Amir in Tel Aviv? 🙂

March 26th, 2009, 10:26 pm


norman said:


Good information and analysis, as usual,

can you tell me the average price of shares and the average salary in Syria , and if the poor income that most people have is one of the reasons that there are not more people buying ,

About the family businesses , do you thing that theses people are worry about the Government knowing their worth then start asking questions about where they got their money , , probably a tax amnesty on all preexisting money might help .
do you think that that will bring the money out for investments.

March 27th, 2009, 12:55 am


majid said:

Norman said, “Ehsani,

Good information and analysis, as usual,”

Surprisingly, your comment has better information and better analysis than the main article!!!

March 27th, 2009, 1:12 am


norman said:


Nice try , but

You are wrong,

March 27th, 2009, 2:08 am


EHSANI2 said:


1- The average share price is close to $20. The average Syrian salary is $300. People in this income group hardly have any savings to think about investing in the stock market. Please note that we are talking about less than 100 accounts thus far.

2- Most family businesses are indeed reluctant to show their net worth.

3- There is a tax amnesty already in place for underpaying in the past.

4- Most are not happy to pay the tax in the future (post the listing). Most would question the logic behind the paying of the tax. What services do we get is the question often cited.


Thank you

March 27th, 2009, 2:19 am


Ford Prefect said:

As usual, an excellent analysis from a real expert. I was particularly impressed by your honest and unbiased number-by-number analysis – away from the usual political innuendo.

With all of its delays, ineptness, and lack of support from a liberal political system, the establishment and the operation of the DSE is certainly a step in the right direction for Syria.

What I like about the DSE is not its potential for profit making (or loosing); but rather its symbolic antithesis of the policies that ailed Syria for the past 50 years.

Sooner than later, the snowball will get bigger and bigger and Syria will reach the tipping point towards liberalizing its economy – a huge first step towards a modern and liberal society.

Thanks Ehsani and keep up the great analysis.

March 27th, 2009, 2:22 am


norman said:


Thank you ,

Do you think that part of the problem is that companies list on the stock exchange to raise money for expansion and that is something many companies in Syria fail to see.Expansion out side and inside the country.

Ford Prefect,

It is good to see you here again , Please show up more often.

March 27th, 2009, 2:59 am


norman said:


One more question,

Is there a minimum net worth to open an account ?.
And are there brokerage firms and are forign stocks available to buy and sell.?

March 27th, 2009, 3:04 am


Ford Prefect said:

Thank you Norman. Though I am not writing often due to work pressures, I am always connected with my beloved SC and its Syrian patriotic commentators. I will be taking the Turnpike one day to connect in person 😉

I believe that Syrian companies, just like the political and economical systems in Syria, are experiencing genuine transformation from a mercantile, family-oriented non-competitive entities into commercial enterprises trying to compete on a global scale.

The idea of raising capital through the sales of securities is a concept that is not yet fully understood at the local scene.

Moreover, as Ehsani said, the regulators must take some bold steps to convince a cynical investor pool that reforms are here to stay and that Syria is transforming its economy into a market-driven one.

March 27th, 2009, 3:25 am


AL-SYASY said:

Basahar alassad interview with alssafir, now u can stop deal with the regional small players as if they are taking their own decisions.

ـ التهديدات لسوريا بدأت قبل الحرب. «إذا لم تسيروا معنا في الحرب فسوف تدفعون الثمن». كان الكلام واضحاً وكان جوابنا واضحاً نحن مستعدون لدفع الثمن ولكن إذا سرنا معكم بموضوع الحرب فسندفع ثمناً أكبر. الفرق هو دخول فرنسا على الخط بعد حرب العراق. كان المطلوب من سوريا أن تقدم الثمن للمصالحة الفرنسية الأميركية، وهذا ما رفضناه. وهنا بدأ الانقلاب الذي قادته فرنسا في الحقيقة وليس الولايات المتحدة، ولكن الولايات المتحدة كانت سعيدة، الولايات المتحدة أساساً انقلبت على سوريا قبل الحرب، وأتى الالتقاء الفرنسي الأميركي لكي تكتمل الصورة وتتوسع دائرة الانقلاب.
÷ لماذا فعلت فرنسا ذلك؟
ـ ارادت فرنسا أن تصالح أميركا، فالمطلوب منها ثمن. طبعاً لديها جوانب لبنانية في الموضوع مرتبطة بموضوع باريس ـ 2 وقد حصل صراع حول موضوع الخصخصة، وكان المطلوب من سوريا أن تكون جزءاً من هذا الصراع. رفضتُ، وقلتُ نحن لن نكون جزءاً من هذا الصراع، توجد مصالح وأموال، هذه ليست قضيتنا، نحن يمكن أن ندعم أية خطوة في لبنان إذا كان لها جانب سياسي، إذا كانت بحاجة لغطاء سياسي، أما أن ندخل في التفاصيل التقنية، أي شركة ستباع؟ وكيف وآلية البيع وما شابه… رفضنا أن ندخل في ذلك. الجانب الآخر له علاقة بشركات النفط في سوريا، كان المطلوب أن تأتي شركات النفط وتأخذ عقوداً في سوريا بشكل نحن نرفضه بالشكل والمضمون، أي مضمون العقد الذي هو فعلياً نسب التقاسم، وهو يضر بمصالح سوريا، وقد رفضناه. لكن أتى الشيء الأكبر وهو موضوع المصالحة الفرنسية الأميركية…
÷ في حزيران 2004 أم قبل؟
ـ لا، موضوع باريس ـ 2 بدأ عام 2002، ولاحقاً عام 2003 بدأ موضوع النفط وما شابه ذلك، وفي 2004 من خلال لقاء شيراك مع بوش في أوروبا، لا أذكر في أي مناسبة، لكن هو مذكور بشكل واضح في كتاب (لابيفيير)، عندها بدأ الانقلاب الفعلي من خلال هذا اللقاء.
÷ قرروا ) أنَّ سوريا يجب أن تخرج من لبنان؟ )
ـ تماماً.

March 27th, 2009, 7:26 am


Off the Wall said:

Once more, a good, sober analysis.

I believe that incentive is the way to bring about more action in the the DSE. One of he most important incentives is to establish retirement saving accounts similar to 401K, but with a smarter regulation that ballamces speculation and investment. I was very impressed with your rational argument of rasing thecap on stock fluctuation. Somehow I would have expected that you would argue form complete abandonment of the cap. But it seems I had the wrong impression.

Syria can and should seriously consider establishing retirment accounts incentives. I am not sure how can that be done and how should private employers and small businesses, who according to the deputy PM are the main job creators, contribute to such accounts. Eventually, professional money management will take hold and will slowly displace handing the money out to relative of relative of a friend to invest.

Surprisingly, Ehsani’s comment was the main article. Not surprisingly, you had no clue.

March 27th, 2009, 7:47 am


Alex said:


Thank you for demonstrating that excessive caution is not always a good thing.

I think the 2.5% was a safety valve … it can be opened gradually now that they realize that there was no flood, but a drought.

After addressing the above issue of the 2.5% limitation (that leads to not enough sellers), I think they should have learned a lesson from restaurant owners who ensure that for the first few days after opening night, they hire a number of attractive looking clients to sit by the restaurant’s window to give the impression to other passers by that the restaurant is popular already.

In our case, one would imagine that it is not difficult to ask/convince about 50 business leaders to start investing and to give them guarantees that the state will protect their investments (up to a specific amount) in case of losses.

Question: what kind of trading volume is necessary for the long term survival of the six brokerage companies?

What happens to the DSE if they give up and decide to get out of that business?

March 27th, 2009, 7:49 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

Another factor that will worry serious investors for time to come is corruption and lack of fair and independent legislative institutions. That doesn’t mean that Syria needs to become a democracy in all aspect to have a successful stock exchange (i.e. other Middle Eastern bourses). But they certainly need to be economically democratic.

The Syrian Commission on Financial markets & securities needs prove to investors that no one, not even a select few will be able to bend the rules in their favor. And in a culture that has been synonymous with corruption in every aspect of daily life for decades, it will be a tough challenge to accomplish.

March 27th, 2009, 11:07 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


Let’s play a small quiz I did for you. Answer YES or NO. Ready? Go:

The Quiz: Could you say the same sentence about Syria or Syrians? :

(a) Putin / Medvyedev never took the power by a military coup. they got elected in a democratic elections ( that the “west” didn’t like
it’s outcome ), and are being loved and admired by the Russian people.

(b) The Chinese are giving up [temporarily and with consent], their political
rights, for the benefit of fast economic build-up. The Chinese are
proud of the achievements of their country and of the Chinese undemocratic
government and communist party.
China is rapidly changing from a 3rd world poor country, into a 1st
and leading world superpower.

If your answer was “NO”, than there’s no place to compeer between
China, Russia and Syria.

March 27th, 2009, 11:47 am


EHSANI2 said:

Ford Prefect,

As usual, you touched on a very important point. Rather than concentrating on the negatives, one ought to view this launch as a “symbolic antithesis of the policies that ailed Syria for the past 50 years” as you put it. I am flattered by the compliments.


Selling equity (a stock) in a company is a corporate finance decision that every company makes anywhere. The decisions to sell equity, offer bonds, borrow from a bank or expand from retained earnings are some of the options that companies usually face before expanding. Syrian companies face challenges other than financing when it comes to expansion. Available and affordable energy, export incentives and weak domestic purchasing power come to mind.

There are five approved financial brokers on the DSE. Only domestic issues are permitted. Policies to open accounts are different for each institution. The telephone numbers for the companies is listed on the DSE site.

Off the Wall,

You are absolutely right in saying that I prefer no price limit at all. The reason I suggested the 10 % is because I think that it hard to go from 2.5% to no limit in one shot as far as the regulators are concerned. I love your idea on retirement accounts. I am sure that it will happen one day.


Lebanon trades around 100,000 shares a day
Egypt does between 50 and 100 million a day
Qatar’s average is 10 million
Jordan trades 30 million
Both Saudi and UAE enjoy a volume of close to 300 million
The U.S. Trades an average of 1.5 billion a day in the S&P 500 and another 800 million on Nasdaq

March 27th, 2009, 12:45 pm


SimoHurtta said:


Let’s play a small quiz I did for you. Answer YES or NO. Ready? Go:

The Quiz: Could you say the same sentence about Syria or Syrians? :

Amir in Tel Aviv you claimed originally

A functional and sufficient stock-exchange needs certain environment
to flourish: Political freedoms, TOTAL independence (within the set
of rules and fair regulations), freedom of the [economic] press, and more.

so your quiz is simply laughable. A functioning stock exchange needs besides the market place basically only an individual right to own and gather property and laws “around” that.

Amir in Tel Aviv there is a well functioning stock exchange also in Egypt, Pakistan (during military dictatorship), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc. There is even a relative big stock exchange in Iran. As of June 2008, 400 companies, with a market capitalization of US$70 billion were listed on Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE). Tel Aviv Stock (TASE) exchange had 660 companies listed.

Amir you Israeli propagandists and supporters of Zionism are amusing by trying to add that democracy dimension and demand to everything linked to Syria. Are Israelis really the right people to lecture to anybody about democracy?

March 27th, 2009, 1:39 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Amir you Israeli propagandists and supporters of Zionism … Are Israelis really the right people to lecture to anybody about democracy?


When you refer to Israelis as “propagandists and supporters of Zionism”, were you just referring to Jewish Israelis?

I wouldn’t want you to think Joos were the only “propaganists and supporters of Zionism”, because they aren’t!;o)

In the view of Fadal Tahabub, a member of the Palestinian National Council, an estimated 70 percent of the 200,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem preferred to remain under Israeli sovereignty.

Third, the percentage of Palestinians who would prefer to live under Israeli control cited in the estimates noted above—an overwhelming majority of 70 to 90 percent—point to this being more than a rarity among Palestinians.

March 27th, 2009, 4:10 pm


jad said:

I wonder if Pipes got his numbers from the same resource of his Iraqi ones!
AP, Next time you meet him, ask where his estimation numbers came from? When the censuses happened, precise dates? Who did it, what organization and how reliable/bias are they? Where can we see those ‘Censuses’ results?
We want to read ‘facts’ and ‘scientific’ proofs, otherwise what you quoted is distorted and ‘propaganda’ and I’m not interested in his imaginations or his distorted interpretations.
Just PROVE what you quote or don’t quote fictions!

March 27th, 2009, 4:39 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


Some notes about your comment above:

1) I’m not “supporter of Zionism” .. I’m Zionist.
2) About preaching democracy: it’s the responsibility of any people
(including the Syrian) to demand democracy. It’s certainly not my or
any-body’s business, if the Syrians aren’t striving to-wards democracy.
3) Furthermore… as a Zionist Israeli, I would prefer the current
situation, were Arabs don’t have democracy. Because when Arabs get
democracy, (I believe) it will lead to more wars. Arab people (unlike
Arab dictators) really hate Israel. So from my point of view:
democracy in the Arab region = means more wars with Israel.
Despite this, I hope that Arabs (and all people) could live in
democracy. For the long term, it’s the preferable kind of government.

March 27th, 2009, 5:29 pm


Akbar Palace said:


If you checked, the article included 55 footnotes when it was publiched in the Middle East Quarterly. Footnote 8 (Fadal Tahabub) is from the Washington Post.

Believe it or not, Professor Josh isn’t the only ME expert available.


Democracy is a universal human right. The Arabs can “handle” democracy just as well as any other people, and it will provide the best chance for peace in the long run.

March 27th, 2009, 5:31 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Akbar write to Google “Fadal Tahabub” and perform the search. I got 141 hits. When I scrolled them trough the amount of hits was limited to 45. 99% of the stories behind those links were made by people like you Akbar. That lack of real “links” raises the question is Fadal Tahabub even a real person or created by “Camera” for propaganda purposes. Surely there would be some Palestinian sources if he is real and for what he is said is “true”. This raises also the question how limited people you and those like you are. Do you ever bother to find out what is true even it is mentioned on your favourite propaganda sites?

By the way did you Akbar know that council member Baruh Goldsiverstein gave an interview to Signal (magazine) in 1942 that 70 percent of Warsaw ghetto inhabitants prefer that “arrangement” better as living in the Stalin’s “working class paradise”. 🙂

March 27th, 2009, 5:31 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Daniel Pipes, the infamous Harvard graduate bigot uses “anecdotal evidence” to derive his laughable statistics. These were his words when asked at State where he gets his numbers from.

FYI, Mr. Pipes currently lives in Dante’s 8th Circle of Hell, Ditch# 6 (Bolgia 6). Bolgia 6 is the exclusive residence of political panderers, hypocrites, and lairs.

March 27th, 2009, 5:47 pm


jad said:

AP, I went through that before writing my comments to you.
You can’t answer any of my questions about real censuses, because it isn’t facts or proven censuses, they don’t exist. Publishing an article on the WP/NYT or any newspaper and stating numbers and percentage out of someone’s view and assumption doesn’t make it true or fact, this is my point, nothing more, nothing less.

March 27th, 2009, 5:50 pm


Alex said:

Interview of Buthaina Shaaban on Fox

March 27th, 2009, 5:59 pm


jad said:

Dear FP, How can anybody not know the infamous D. Pipes, his lies, his words his articles, his views….they all are so famous being worthless. I’m just surprised that someone uses his articles as prove of anything. His articles are nothing but a bad jocks and ‘frank’ lies.
the address you gave him is hilarious, he deserve to live there, I’m sorry for other demons having him around.
Thank you

March 27th, 2009, 6:05 pm


Akbar Palace said:

By the way did you Akbar know that council member Baruh Goldsiverstein gave an interview to Signal (magazine) in 1942 that 70 percent of Warsaw ghetto inhabitants prefer that “arrangement” better as living in the Stalin’s “working class paradise”.


No, I didn’t know that. Perhaps you can post a link showing footnotes to major news sources like the Washington Post, Reuters, The Daily Telegraph, The AP, Ha’Aretz, Agence France-Presse, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times like Daniel Pipes did.

March 27th, 2009, 6:13 pm


jad said:

Dear Alex,
Thank you for the link, do you know where can we get the movie talking about Mm. Shaaban being a women from Syria?
I heard a lot about it and I highly respect her for what she writes and fights for.

March 27th, 2009, 6:17 pm


Ford Prefect said:

LOL Jad. Indeed, I feel sorry for all the other inhabitants of the 8th Circle of Hell.

Pipes lies would have been so hysterically funny if they weren’t coming from such a wicked and evil mind.

March 27th, 2009, 6:21 pm


norman said:

What do you guys think?.Egypt thinks that it is worth anything,What the US could not do the Stooges from KSA and Egypt think they can,

With eye against Iran, Arabs wooing Syria
Friday, March 27, 2009

By SALAH NASRAWI, Associated Press Writer

When the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt last had Syria’s president alone in a room, earlier this month, it was classic “good cop-bad cop.”

From Egypt came angry ultimatums _ from the Saudi king, soothing and lucrative promises, according to an Egyptian official and a Saudi royal adviser. All with the goal of peeling Syria away from Iran.

The Arab world’s top powers are eager to block regional rival Iran’s influence in the Middle East. Their key for doing so is to woo Iran’s Arab ally Syria, so they have begun engaging Damascus after years of shunning it in anger over what they see as its role in fueling turmoil around the Mideast.

The administration of President Barack Obama is also starting to open up to Damascus, which Washington treated as a pariah for the past eight years because of its support for militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been enjoying the new attention. But Damascus has its own agenda, hoping in particular for an economic boost and a peace deal with Israel. It is also reluctant to give up its ties to Iran and Arab militants, because those alliances give it the power to influence events in the region _ from Lebanon and the Israeli-Arab conflict, to Iraq.

A gauge of Arab countries’ headway with Syria will come on Monday, when Arab leaders gather for their annual summit in the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar. “Arab reconciliation” will top the agenda at the Doha gathering, Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Heli said this week. The venue is notable because Qatar has also been at odds with Egypt and Saudi Arabia for its close ties with Syria, Iran and Hamas.

The Saudis and the Egyptians are deeply worried that Shiite-dominated Iran is seeking to fuel Islamic radicalism and establish itself as regional superpower. They blame Syria for helping Iran.

Egypt has been particularly angry because it has been trying to mediate a series of interlocking deals after Israel’s assault on Gaza this year _ for a truce and prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, and for a unity government between Hamas and U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. An agreement could open the door for negotiations on a final Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

But weeks of painstaking mediation have gone nowhere, and Cairo has accused Syria and Iran of encouraging Hamas to dig in.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have an ulterior motive. With Obama also pursuing dialogue directly with Iran, Washington’s Arab allies want to make sure their interests are not left out if the United States and Iran reach any reconciliation.

In early March, Saudi King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met Syria’s Assad in a mini-summit in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, hoping to patch up the rift.

During the meeting, oil-rich Saudi Arabia offered Assad a financial package to offset Iranian aid to Syria, if it breaks with Tehran, a Saudi royal adviser told The Associated Press. Abdullah also promised Assad that the kingdom will mobilize Arab support to back Syria in negotiations for a peace deal with Israel, aimed at winning back the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in 1967.

“What we said was, ‘Come back to the Arab fold, and after that everything you need can come,'” said the Saudi official, who was briefed on the March 11 meeting. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door talks.

Assad had a further condition: Arab help to ensure than an international tribunal does not name Assad or his close associates in the case of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Saudi adviser said. A U.N.-mandated court in the Netherlands is due to conduct trials over the assassination, though it has not yet named suspects. Many in Lebanon accuse Syria of being behind Hariri’s slaying, a charge Damascus denies.

Holding out, Assad proposed that the sides find a way to “manage their differences” _ basically, agree to disagree civilly.

But Egypt’s Mubarak took a tough tone, pressing for Assad to commit immediately to Egyptian and Saudi demands. He bluntly warned Assad that there would be no generous Arab overtures until Syria shows a real change of behavior, an Egyptian official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door talks.

The mini-summit appeared on the verge of collapsing. But the emir of Kuwait, who was also attending, stepped in and persuaded the two sides to continue talks in the coming weeks, said the Egyptian official, who was also briefed on the meeting.

So far, there has been no sign of a breakthrough. On Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem visited Iran and proclaimed that ties between Damascus and Tehran were “excellent.”

Furthermore, the Egyptian-mediated talks with Hamas have since broken up without an agreement.

“It’s very difficult for the Palestinian reconciliation to succeed with the ongoing Arab conflicts,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said last week, in a veiled criticism of Syria’s and Iran’s support for Hamas.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, took a tough tone when Iran’s foreign minister visted Riyadh on March 15, implicitly telling Iran not to meddle in Arab affairs. “Although we appreciate the Iranian concern in Arab issues, from our point of view, this should be conducted through the legitimate Arab doorways,” Saud said.

Many Arab countries share Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s worries that Obama’s outreach to Iran could end up boosting Tehran’s influence. The Saudis are urging Obama to be cautious _ and to keep Arab nations in mind.

“You can have a bargain with Iran, but you do not have a grand bargain without us. So you can talk as much as you can (with Iran) but can’t be sure how useful it is going to be. They (the Americans) need a lot of help,” said the Saudi adviser.

“They (Iranians) will milk you for everything until they start behaving in a way which is positive,” he said.

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March 27th, 2009, 6:28 pm


Alex said:


please tell me more about the movie you are looking for. I will see if it is available online.


Salah Nasrawi’s article above is generally accurate. The Saudis were very accomodating to us and they offered to respect our role and to provide any support we might need. The Egyptians were not as dramatic in their threats as described by the anonymous Egyptian official in this story, but they did indirectly remind the Syrians that they are the leader of the Arab word … by default I guess.

The part about Hariri is not accurate. Syrian officials never negotiate with anyone in exchange for guarantees that the Hariri tribunal will not be naming top Syrian officials. This part is always fabricated in any story you read. It is a Syrian policy not to provide any concessions in exchange for transient issues (like the Hariri tribunal in this case). Otherwise, Syria’s adversaries can easily create a long list of accusations that they can similarly use to get concessions from Syria. “Human rights” or the Nuclear issue is another such example. Syria will not even discuss those with other leaders.

March 27th, 2009, 7:45 pm


jad said:

The movie title is: ‘a women’, It’s couple years old movie, here are some links wrote about it.
It sounds interesting.

March 27th, 2009, 9:00 pm


norman said:

Alex , Thanks for the info , That was interesting,

I Think Egypt forgets that the Brain leads the body not the Liver , even if the Liver is bigger ,

Ford Prefect, let me know if you coming north , It would be nice to meet.

March 27th, 2009, 9:38 pm


jad said:

Norman, I agree on Syria being the brain but Egypt is no liver, it might be a stomach in its best but no liver, though they need to work really really hard on their ‘delicious’ cuisine since they have none…lol
So, you only invite FP and never the poor Jad…FINE! Be this way.

March 27th, 2009, 9:57 pm


Ford Prefect said:

Jad, you and I are both going to visit Norman. Deal?

Send me an email to and let’s arrange a trip.

Norman, your invite still stand?

March 27th, 2009, 11:37 pm


norman said:

FP,Jad ,

Yes and yes , I thought that Jad is on the West coast, Isn’t he.

That might be OTW.

March 28th, 2009, 1:38 am


jad said:

Thank you FP, will email you for sure.
I’ll be more than happy to join you but Norman’s invitation doesn’t sound very genuine, he is just throwing the excuse that I’m on the West coast as if it is an issue.
نورمان, هددينا
حاج تحط العصي بي الدوليب

March 28th, 2009, 2:22 am


majid said:

Palestinians will now deploy more potent weapons than the suicide bombers and the Qassams. This is the newly formed rap brigade:

March 28th, 2009, 5:29 am


Innocent Criminal said:

Jad & Alex,

Here is the trailer of the Shaaban movie WOMAN.

Jad – I respect the woman for having climbed the ladder well in such a sexist society. But I despise the way she reguritate the government’s tacky propoganda without the will to improve it. IMHO, Bouthaina Shaaban fails as government spokeswoman who should be portraying the best side of their policy. Damascus is in dire need of better PR specialists.

March 28th, 2009, 7:47 am


jad said:

Dear IC,
Thank you for the link, I like it; it sounds like a good documentary to watch.

I would’ve agreed with you if Dr. Shaaban has real power to do the changes she wants. In the undemocratic system we’ve got where it’s mostly a one man show, what can a woman in her position do? I’m not sure about the freedom she is getting, I only want to be fair, and I believe that she did the best she could or know. I do appreciate her works and her energy and I’m sure that she has more to offer but I think rules might be in her way. I personally don’t know, this is why I hesitate to criticize; I would only thank her for the good stuff she did and let history be the judge of her work.

I agree with you that we need a better professional PR but at the same time we need to tweak the system itself and make it a better machine and know that it works well enough before we do the marketing.

You know IC, I get optimistic when I go through all those great young Syrian bloggers, they are absolutely a great asset to Syria PR, those guys are amazing in the subject they discuss, the ideas they through (even those stupid and provocative homophobia week they were fighting about) at least it educates them and make them aware of the world outside their homes, it makes them smarter and more articulate, and know what they want, they are talking to the world through their blogs even the ones they don’t know English they are able to communicate through images and songs. I think that in this age those are our PR and they have more power that any politician we have in Syria today and they are learning faster than anybody can imagine. If I was the government I would defiantly work with those guys/girls and encourage them to write on all fronts.

March 28th, 2009, 8:48 am


norman said:

The American school to reopen,

American Language Center to reopen in Syria

Associated Press Writer


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American Language Center to reopen in Syria
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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — An American language facility in Damascus is reopening its doors following a forced five-month closure, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said Saturday, in the latest sign of improving U.S.-Syrian relations after years of animosity.

The American Language Center was shut by Syrian authorities in November along with an American school and a cultural center following a deadly U.S. raid on a village in the north near the Iraqi border.

U.S. officials have said the Oct. 26 raid targeted a top al-Qaida in Iraq militant. Damascus demanded proof, maintaining instead that eight civilians were killed.

The language and cultural centers as well as the school cater to the small American community in the Syrian capital and other foreign residents.

The embassy spokeswoman told The Associated Press Saturday that they were informed by the Foreign Ministry this week that the center, which is located on embassy grounds, can reopen. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.

“We consider this a positive step and look forward for more progress in bilateral relations with Syria,” she said.

Ministry officials were not available for comment on Saturday, a weekend in Syria. It was not clear whether the school and the cultural center would be allowed to reopen as well.

The language center was expected to reopen its doors Sunday.

The U.S. withdrew its ambassador to Syria and relations plummeted after the February 2005 assassination in neighboring Lebanon of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, for which many blamed Damascus. Syria denies the charge.

Both countries have said lately they wish to improve relations, despite lingering differences, such as Syria’s backing for anti-Israel militants and its alliance with Iran.

President Bashar Assad has said he noted a change in the U.S. tone toward Damascus under President Barack Obama and has welcomed recent overtures.

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March 28th, 2009, 12:22 pm


Alex said:

Report: U.S. mulling Obama-Assad meeting

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service

The United States is considering arranging a meeting between President Barack Obama and Syrian President Bashar Assad, a United Arab Emirates-based newspaper reported on Saturday.

The Al-Khaleej daily based its report on Arab diplomatic sources in Cairo. They told the paper the U.S. was weighing holding the meeting, the first of its kind in nine years, as a measure to advance the Middle East peace process.

According to the report, the Obama administration is considering the move in the wake of a number of recent meetings between senior American and Syrian officials.

The diplomatic sources were quoted as saying that should the U.S. decide to go ahead with the meeting, it would be part of a new approach to Middle East peacemaking that involves reaching out to Syria and Iran.

The meeting would likely be held on the sidelines of a G8 summit in Rome in June.

The last time U.S. and Syrian presidents met was in 2000, when Bill Clinton met with Hafez Assad, the current Syrian leader’s late father, in Geneva.

U.S.-Syrian relations have long been tense, particularly since the U.S. ambassador was pulled out by the Bush administration in 2005 to protest Syria’s suspected role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in neighboring Lebanon.

Damascus denied involvement but in the uproar that followed was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending a 29-year military presence.

The U.S. has also criticized Syria for supporting militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and has accused Syria of not doing enough to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq.

Syria has said it is doing all it can to safeguard its long, porous border.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese daily as-Safir published an interview with Assad in which the Syrian leader said a clear position by the United States on Israel-Syria peace negotiations was essential to progress in the talks.

In light of the absence of such a position, Assad told the paper, significant progress was unlikely in the near future.

March 28th, 2009, 6:58 pm


Alex said:

قلق في اوساط الليبراليين.. وحظوظ الامير سلمان تتراجع.. ومخاوف على صحة الامير سلطان
السعودية: الملك عبد الله يقترب من حسم مسألة ولاية العهد
تعيين الامير نايف نائبا ثانيا لرئيس الوزراء يخلط الاوراق في الاسرة

لندن ـ ‘القدس العربي’ ـ من احمد المصري:
أصدر العاهل السعودي عبدالله بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود أمرا ملكيا بتعيين الأمير نايف بن عبد العزيز وزير الداخلية نائبا ثانيا لرئيس مجلس الوزراء السعودي.
ولم تذكر وكالة الأنباء السعودية ‘واس’ التي أوردت النبأ ونص القرار مساء الجمعة المزيد من التفاصيل.
ويرى مراقبون ان هذا التعيين جاء عشية مغادرة الملك عبدالله الى الدوحة للمشاركة في القمة العربية، مما يجعل هناك حاجة لتعيين نائب للملك ينوب عنه في تسيير امور الدولة، خاصة وان الامير سلطان ولي العهد والنائب الاول يعاني من مرض عضال وموجود خارج المملكة منذ اكثر من اربعة اشهر.
ويقول اخرون ان الاميرين نايف وسلمان كانا بصحبة ولي العهد ووزير الدفاع الامير سلطان الذي ابتعد كثيرا عن المملكة وعن الحكم في الفترة الاخيرة لاصابته بمرض عضال، وربما كان هذا التعيين محاولة لارضائه ولكسب السديريين ومحاولة لتجميع الصفوف، واعطاء رسالة الى الداخل والخارج ان الاسرة موحدة ومتضامنة.
ويقول مهتمون بالشأن السعودي ان هناك تفسيرين لهذا القرار المفاجىء:
الاول: ان هذا التعيين هو اعادة لمنصب النائب الثاني الذي الغاه الملك عبدالله من خلال تشكيل هيئة البيعة، والنائب الثاني يصبح آليا وليا للعهد في حال حدوث شيء لا قدر الله للامير سلطان ولي العهد الحالي.
الثاني: هذا التعيين محاولة امتصاص لحالة الغضب في اوساط ‘السديريين’ ولا يعني ان مسألة ولاية العهد قد حسمت للامير نايف ، وانها مجرد مرحلة انتقالية ولا تلغي وظيفة ومهام هيئة البيعة، وخاصة ان الدولة بحاجة لشخص يدير شؤون الحكم في حالة غياب الملك، خاصة وان الامير سلطان النائب الاول وولي العهد خارج المملكة.
ويقول مراقبون ان هذا التعيين ربما يحسم التنافس بين الامير نايف وشقيقه الامير سلمان ويقلل من حظوظ الاخير في تولي ولاية العهد.
ومن المتوقع ان يثير هذا التعيين حالة من الاحباط في صفوف شباب الاسرة الحاكمة، او الجيل الثاني من الامراء الذين يتطلعون الى دور اكبر في ادارة شؤون البلاد واخذ دورهم بفعالية في دائرة صنع القرار ، مثل الامير تركي الفيصل والامير الوليد بن طلال والامير خالد بن سلطان والامير بندر بن سلطان والامير عبد العزيز بن عبدالله.
وكان العديد من الترشيحات قد ابرز حظوظ الامير مقرن بن عبد العزيز رئيس الاستخبارات في تولي منصب ولاية العهد لانه اصغر ابناء عبد العزيز، وتولى مناصب عديدة في الدولة وتلقى تعليمه العالي في الخارج وخاصة الولايات المتحدة الامريكية.
وقد يثير هذا التعيين بعض الاحباط في صفوف الجناح الليبرالي في المملكة والذي كان يتطلع الى اصلاحات جذرية في الحكم واعطاء المرأة حقوقها.
وكان الامير نايف وهو وزير الداخلية ورئيس المجلس الأعلى للإعلام اضافة الى مناصب عديدة اخرى قد صرح مؤخرا ان بلاده ‘لا تحتاج الى تمثيل للمرأة في البرلمان ولا تحتاج الى اجراء انتخابات’.
وقال الامير نايف معلقا على مطالب بانتخاب أعضاء مجلس الشورى بدلا من التعيين ‘التعيين يختار الافضل دائما ولو كان الامر بالانتخاب لم يكن الاعضاء بهذا المستوى من الكفاءة’.
وحين سئل عن مشاركة المرأة في المجلس قال ‘أرى أنه ليست هناك ضرورة’.
ويأتي ذلك فيما وجهت الجمعية الوطنية لحقوق الانسان في السعودية في تقريرها السنوي الثاني الاحد الماضي نقدا لاذعا للمرة الاولى لوزارة الداخلية ومجلس الشورى وهيئة الامر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر، اضافة الى العديد من الاجهزة بالمملكة.
ودعت الجمعية في تقريرها الاجهزة الحكومية للأخذ بتوصياتها التي وردت في التقرير.وطالبت الجمعية بتوسيع صلاحيات مجلس الشورى وخاصة مراقبة الميزانية وحق مساءلة الوزراء واختيار أعضائه عن طريق الانتخاب ولو بشكل جزئي في المرحلة الراهنة.
وطالبت بانشاء هيئة رقابية عليا للاشراف على المشاريع التنموية، والمبادرة بتمكين هيئة مكافحة الفساد من مباشرة اعمالها وديوان المراقبة العامة لحماية المال العام والضيفة العامة من الاستغلال.
وكان العاهل السعودي أصدر في 19 من تشرين ألاول (أكتوبر) الماضي نظام ‘هيئة البيعة’ الذي يتألف من 25 مادة تنظم مبايعة الملك واختيار ولي العهد.
ونص نظام هيئة البيعة على أن أحكامه ‘لا تسري على الملك وولي العهد الحاليين’، ولكن الصحافة المحلية اعتبرته ‘تأطيرا مؤسسيا للحكم ، وآلية واضحة تضمن انتقالا سلسا للسلطة’.

March 28th, 2009, 7:13 pm


Majid said:

I noticed that some commentators are day-dreaming about Syria being some kind of brain for the Arabs. No one disputes that Egypt is the leader of the Arabs. Actually without Egypt there are no Arabs. Day dreaming is only good for one thing: it helps you avoid looking at a reality you acnnot accept. But the reality is real and sooner and later you’ll have to face it. Syria cannot survive without a second country as its partner. Sometimes it is Egypt. Sometimes it is Iran. If no partner is available then tiny Lebanon will have to do. Syria has never been the master of its destiny.

March 28th, 2009, 9:25 pm


Nour said:

ha ha ha ha. Yeah, and Egypt is a master of its own destiny. All countries have relations with other countries; this is normal. No country can really survive without other countries.

March 28th, 2009, 9:30 pm


norman said:

Majid ,

About day dreaming , I hate to tell you but you have all the symptoms,that is of day dreaming.

March 28th, 2009, 9:41 pm


majid said:

Norman and Nour are unhappy with my comment. That is expected.
Nour should agree that Syria in its present form is quite a bit dowsized considering the fact it is not as great as she and her SSNP comrades would like to see their century-old dream of so-called greater Syria – that’s quite a long time for day dreaming, I’d say. Sure every country needs relations. But with Syria, it is a lot more than that. Hahahaha…

Norman, I suggest you seek medical care as soon as possible. Your case is very acute – Particularly, your continued copying and pasting of blah, blah, blah.

March 28th, 2009, 10:04 pm


jad said:

I think Oscar Wild was talking about you Majed when he said:
“some people brings happiness wherever they go others whenever they go”
t’s funny how hard you’ve been trying for days now to attack people on SC and nobody is giving you any attention yet you keep barking.
Why don’t you take a vacation of SC and seek some stupid management therapy, and get out of your pathetic condition looking for attention, any attention, to make you feel that you actually exist forgetting that people give a S*** about what you write and think.
All your comments are meaningless, pointless and worthless as you, so stop trying, you are going nowhere with them but the garbage bin you live in.

March 28th, 2009, 11:06 pm


norman said:


From what I understand from your note that the brokerage firms in Syria are allowed to deal only with Syrian securities ,Isn’t the Syrian government worry about these brokerage going out of business with such a low volume .

March 28th, 2009, 11:28 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Yes. They should be worried that they may go out of business. This of course means that the exchange itself may not survive. I am hoping that the regulators will make the required adjustments before then.

March 29th, 2009, 12:00 am


norman said:


Do you think that it would be useful to list forign stocks on the exchange as they do in the US , I think they call them ADR ,and do you think that Syria is not giving that option because they worry that most Syrians will invest in forign stocks instead of Syrian ones ,but don’t you think that investing in forign exchange at this time will be a great opportunity for Syrians to build wealth as forign stocks especially American ones have never been cheaper.

I agree about the retirement account but as you know it should make financial sense , In the US we put money for our employees to keep good employees and because by doing that we save a lot more for ourselves before tax, with most Syrians not paying taxes , I am not sure how much saving on taxes having pension plans will offer .

Any thought Ehsani about a way to encourage companies to provide retirement plans ?.((( without counting on their morals and obligations .)))

I look forward to your answers.

March 29th, 2009, 1:09 am


ehsani2 said:


The decision to list on a certain exchange is that for the issuer to make. Most foreign companies list on the NYSE due to the market’s size and depth. An exchange cannot list the stock of a certain issuer without the consent of the company issuing the paper.

As for retirement accounts, the US system is a private one. Whether you decide to invest your retirement in stocks, bonds or money markets is that for the individual to make.


You don’t have to be sorry about commenting on other matters. I am sure that there are more interesting things to life than the Syrian Bourse.

March 29th, 2009, 5:04 am


Alex said:

Zvi Bar’el / A comprehensive Mideast peace is a fantasy

Pieces of a puzzle that do not fit together but are being forced together so some sort of picture can emerge – this is how the Arab League summit in Doha is looking. Host Qatar, is not getting along with Egypt. Jordan is furious with Qatar because Al Jazeera, owned by the emirate’s ruling family, reiterated the claim that the late King Hussein was a CIA agent. Sudan, whose participation was still unclear as of Saturday afternoon because of the international arrest warrant for its president, is trying to rally Arab support. Egypt and Syria are still not reconciled. Saudi Arabia has embarked on a pan-Arab reconciliation effort, but with limited success. The Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, have not reached an agreement. And Iraq is still considered suspicious, in part because it is under Iranian influence. In short, it looks like the Arab Disagreement League.

On the face of it, this scene is not uncommon. It’s a joyous moment for anyone seeking proof of a divided Arab Middle East, in which even the lowest common denominator is being destroyed. But it’s also a scene that should raise thoughts about the concept of the Arab initiative, which passed during the 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut.

At that time the Arab countries unified on an issue they had never been asked to agree on. The enormous efforts of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with cooperation from Jordan and a number of Gulf states, spurred a new sort of Arab unity: to grant Israel security, declare an end to the conflict, and hold diplomatic ties and normalize relations. This would be in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state and a just solution to the refugee problem. That was the summit that officially replaced the Arab strategic outlook toward Israel formulated at the Khartoum summit in 1967 − the three nos: no recognition, no peace and no negotiations.

However, the strategic change the initiative offers depends entirely on across-the-board Arab support. Without it, there is no point.

Theoretically, the initiative is still alive and kicking, but after seven years of stagnating in the frozen sauce of diplomatic inactivity, we can agree to put the initiative in a folder along with the road map, the Mitchell and Tenet reports and the other beautiful documents that hit the rocks in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

After we said Israel had lost another historic opportunity for peace, also because of the cold shoulder it gave the initiative, it would not be terrible sacrilege to argue that comprehensive peace was just too ambitious, and not only because of Israel. Will Iraq, which follows Iranian dictates, make peace with Israel just because of a peace agreement with the Palestinians? Will Lebanon, whose policy is dictated by Hezbollah, agree to peace with Israel even if a peace agreement is reached with Syria? And will fundamentalist Sudan be in any hurry to shake hands with Benjamin Netanyahu?

And what will the Palestinians propose? Peace in Ramallah and war in the Gaza Strip? Even the Gulf states will find it hard to form a uniform policy on Israel. The view claiming that the Middle East is only waiting for an order – a peace agreement between Israel, Syria and the Palestinians – to march together toward Jerusalem and lay down its swords, was appropriate for the Middle East when there were no Arab states.

Nonetheless, the crumbling summit in Qatar, which is calling itself the “Arab reconciliation summit,” does not merely prove that the Arab initiative is no longer valid because there is no longer accord among the Arabs. It requires the adoption of a new political paradigm that considers individual agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel, Syria and Lebanon, as essential interests even if Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Algeria do not join such a peace with Israel the next day.

The question before the Israeli government and its critics is not what would have happened had Israel and the Arabs adopted the Arab initiative, but how can talks with the Palestinians and Syrians make progress as if there were no Arab initiative. This realistic approach is now necessary instead of the endless debate over what the Arab initiative includes or excludes, and certainly instead of that fantasy of comprehensive peace.

March 29th, 2009, 5:36 am


Alex said:

Syria Calling
The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace.

by Seymour M. Hersh

March 29th, 2009, 5:56 am


majid said:

[majid, I removed the last few comments by both of you]

March 29th, 2009, 6:06 am


why-discuss said:


There is no point in waiting for arab unity. It is an utopia considering the regimes that are in place in these countries: monarchies, dictatorships etc.. Whether they are united or not, it seems there is no difference, if we see the results of the last 60 years in dealing with Israel.

I think their disunity is triggering the intervention of other more powerful countries in the region and this may get more results that the 60 years of the Arab league. Let see the interplay of Iran and Turkey with the EU, Russia and the USA in the region and ignore the numerous arab failed strategies.

March 29th, 2009, 8:05 am


norman said:

No Arab initiative will succeed without the threat of force and as long as the Arabs are begging for understanding and for their rights there will be no peace , peace can only be achieved with the threat of force , that is why Israel left Gaza and Lebanon ,while is staying in the West Bank and the Golan, Syria should not wait for others like Turkey and Iran to make a difference but it should improve it’s militery and prepare for a long war , That is the only way to get the Palestinians and the Arabs their rights.

March 29th, 2009, 1:18 pm


Shai said:


I don’t believe Syria should squeeze its economy further, to build and strengthen its military in preparation for war with Israel. First, it cannot win that race, nor the battle. Second, there are alternatives.

In general, I think it is far wiser for nations to prepare for battles the CAN win, not for ones they cannot. And Syria CAN win on at least one major battlefront – the one of world public opinion. I am convinced that Syria must invest all her energies and talents in this area. We’ve seen how successful Bashar has been, but now add to that another 30 or 50 Makdissi’s and Moustapha’s in major world capitals, in Congress, in the U.N., in the E.U. Let your PR-machine work overtime, and you will see results.

This is the only arena where Syria can have real results.

March 29th, 2009, 2:04 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


I agree with Shai, and feel it’s about time to pick up this topic again. You have no chance in the battlefield, and it will devastate Syria. On the other hand if Bashar did a “Saadat” and showed up in Jerusalem you would have the Golan tomorrow. If Bashar is not able to do a “Saadat” then smaller CBM’s are possible, as we have discussed many times before.

I can see that after Gaza any Syrian initiated CBM can be seen as inappropriate, therefore I think that maybe Israel needs to make a CBM soon, and maybe Bibi would be interested in doing that to jump-start the Syrian track. What could Israel do that could be reciprocated by a small Syrian CBM, such as inviting an Israeli journalist to Syria?

Anybody please feel free to respond…

March 29th, 2009, 3:43 pm


norman said:

Shai, Rumyal , I saw your note after i finished , so this for you too,

You are wrong my friend this time , public opinion got the Palestinians and the Arabs nothing , for 60 years they got public opinion and international law and security council resolution but nothing happened , Israel is still in the Golan even though no Israeli killed in the Golan since 1974 , while Israel is out of Lebanon By Hezbollah that it got everybody to consider a terror organization , Public opinion was in Israel side but Hezbollah got Israel out , we can say the same thing about Hamas and Gaza , Even Sharon , the famous terrorist Sharon got out of Gaza when he felt that he could not continue to pay the price ,

In a conventional war . yes Israel has it’s Air Force to count on but in a close proximity war and a long one Israel can not fight and waist billions of dollars , It’s economy will be destroyed , you might think that Syria will be destroyed in the process , Israel might be able to destroy some buildings but there is nothing that can not be rebuild , the bombs that Israel will use costs more than the buildings they destroy , Israel also will get major damage ,The only reason Israel still violating international law is because the Arabs so far lacked the determination to fight and fight until there is a solution , Israel on the other hand can not Winn the war with Syria, Israel so far won battles but not the war ,Israel needs only to lose one battle to be defeated , Israel should know to continue to be belligerent and continue to think of the Idea that ((( What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine or at least share ))) will not last for long.

You know , I was looking at the Israeli soldiers in the West bank , and i thought , (( What kind of life are these people living , )) they do not know when there are going to be attacked , the future generation of your people are going to live in a paranoid state for a long time , That explains why many are leaving , It is a miserable life to be an Israeli ,

at least that is my take.

March 29th, 2009, 3:59 pm


Shai said:


Syria is already playing its strategic cards well, via Hezbollah, Iran, and even Hamas. There is no need for Syria to fight Israel directly, and hurt its own people and its own economy in the process. The days of “close proximity war” are over. It’s now about missiles. And while Syria certainly has many of these, so does Israel. The Israeli air force is capable of inflicting severe damage upon major infrastructure, not only military, also civilian. But, do you really want Syria to risk leading some trigger-happy Israeli Generals to feel backed against some corner, and recommend using the only weapon we have in case of a real or perceived existential threat?

If Syria starts a war with Israel, you only know how it begins, not how it ends. If I were Syria, I believe I would also consider war. But quite likely a very limited one (if it’s even possible to control), only to get the world to intervene in a way it hasn’t up until now. But I would also realize that Syria would suffer greatly from this. I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay that price.

The amazing effectiveness that Hezbolla’s rockets have had upon Israel is unique to that organization, precisely because it is not a regular nation, like Syria. Israel did punish Lebanon, but not nearly as it would have had it been Lebanon that declared war on Israel. Some in Israel (including the military) did differentiate between HA and Siniora. But no one will differentiate between Assad and his army or his missiles.

I must say, however, that I do not believe Syria has fought hard enough on the PR-battlefield. It can do far more, and far better. If after running up and down world capitals for a few years, with diplomats as talented as Makdissi, nothing changes, then maybe. Maybe then you’ll know that there’s no alternative but war. But you have to first try it. Bashar has already achieved very impressive results for Syria. Now its time to add in your “army” of diplomats. Alex said it best – if there’s no peace within a year, you will see Syria waging its PR-war. I think that’s the way to go, Norman.

March 29th, 2009, 5:58 pm


idaf said:

Biberman & Co.: Interview with Uri Avnery

–IS THIS the government of Biberman (Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman) or perhaps of Bibarak (Bibi and Ehud Barak)?

Neither. It is the government of Bibiyahu.

Binyamin Netanyahu has proven that he is a consummate politician. He has realized the dream of every politician (and theatergoer): a good place in the middle. In his new government he can play off the fascists on the right against the socialists on the left, Liberman’s secularists against the orthodox of Shas. An ideal situation.

The coalition is large enough to be immune from blackmail by any of its component parties. If some Labor members break coalition discipline, Netanyahu will still command a majority. Or if the rightists make trouble. Or if the orthodox try to stick a knife in his back.

This government is committed to nothing. Its written “Basic Guidelines” – a document signed by all partners of a new Israeli government – are completely nebulous. (And anyhow, Basic Guidelines are worthless. All Israeli governments have broken their agreed Basic Guidelines without batting an eyelid. They always prove to be rubber checks.)

All this was acquired by Netanyahu on the cheap – a few billions of economic promises that he would not dream of fulfilling. The treasury is empty. As one of his predecessors in the Prime Minister’s office, Levy Eshkol, famously said: “I promised, but I did not promise to keep my promises.”

He also bestowed ministries on all and sundry. This little country will have 27 ministers and six deputy ministers. So what? If necessary, Netanyahu would have given a ministerial chair to each of the 74 members of the coalition.

–THE PINNACLE of his achievement was the acquisition of the Labor party for his government.

In one stroke he turned a government of lepers, which would have been viewed by the whole world as a crazy bunch of ultra-nationalists, racists and fascists, into a sane and balanced government of the center. All this without changing its character in the least.

The most ardent supporter of this feat was Liberman, the new Foreign Minister of Israel. This extreme racist, this spiritual brother of the French Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Austrian Joerg Haider (I hope both, the living and the dead, will not feel insulted), was very anxious about what was awaiting him. In his imagination he saw himself extending his hand to Hillary Clinton and being left with his arm dangling in the air. Leaning forward to kiss Angela Merkel only to see her draw back in horror. Unpleasant.

The addition of the Labor Party solves everybody’s problem. If the social democrats are joining the government, all this talk of fascism must be nonsense. Obviously, Liberman has been misunderstood. He has been misrepresented. He is not a fascist at all, God forbid. He is not a racist. He is just a traditional right-wing demagogue who exploits the primitive emotions of the masses to garner votes. Which elected politician could object to that?

Indeed, the whole government has been given a kosher certificate by Ehud Barak. He continues the glorious Labor Party tradition of political prostitution. In 1977, Moshe Dayan entered the new government of Menachem Begin and gave it a kosher certificate, when the entire world considered Begin a dangerous nationalist adventurer. In 2001, Shimon Peres entered the new government of Ariel Sharon and gave him a kosher certificate, when the entire world saw in Sharon the man responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

— WHY DID Barak do this? And why did the majority of the Labor Party support him?

Labor is a government party. It has never been anything else. As early as 1933 it took over the Zionist movement, and since than it ruled the Yishuv (the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine) and the state without interruption until Begin’s ascent to power in 1977. For 44 consecutive years it held unchallenged power over the economy, the army, the police, the security services, the education system, the health system and the Histadrut, the then all-powerful labor federation.

Power is encoded in the party’s DNA. It’s much more than a political matter – it’s its whole character, its mentality, its world view. The party is unable to be an opposition. It does not know what that is, and even less what to do with it.

I observed the Labor members in the Knesset, during the short periods they were stuck in opposition. They were downcast and mournful. Dozens of them were wandering forlornly around the corridors, like phantoms, lost souls. When they went up to the rostrum, they sounded like government spokesmen.

The Likud suffers from the opposite syndrome. Their predecessors were in opposition throughout the days of the Yishuv and during the first 29 years of the state. Opposition is in the blood of Likudniks. Even now, after many years (with interruptions) in government, they behave like an opposition. They are the eternal discriminated-against, miserable and bitter, people from the outside looking in, full of hate and envy.

Ehud Barak personifies the syndrome of his party. Everything is owed to him. Power is owed to him, the Ministry of Defense is owed to him. I would not have been surprised if he had insisted on a clause in the coalition agreement appointing him Minister of Defense for life (and his yeoman, Shalom Simchon, Minister of Agriculture for life). Governments come and governments go, but Ehud Barak must be the Minister of Defense – be the government rightist or leftist, fascist or communist, atheist or theocratic. It does not matter how he functions in his job – his appraisal can be nothing less than perfect.

— SO WHAT will this government do? What can it do?

As far as the most important matter is concerned, there is complete unanimity. Liberman, Netanyahu, Barak, Ellie Yishai of Shas and Danny Hershkovitz of the “Jewish Home” party are in total agreement about the Palestinians. All of them agree on the need to prevent the establishment of a real Palestinian state. All of them agree not to talk with Hamas. All of them support the settlement enterprise. During Barak’s stint as Prime Minister, the settlements grew even faster than during Netanyahu’s tenure. Liberman is himself a settler, Hershkovitz’s party represents the settlers. All of them believe that there is no need for peace, that peace is bad for us. (After all, it was Barak, not Netanyahu or Liberman, who coined the phrase “We Have No Partner for Peace”.)

So what will be the real platform of this government?

In four words: Deception for the fatherland.

— ON THIS government’s chosen path there lies a huge rock: the United States of America.

While Israel made a big leap to the right, the US has made a big leap to the left. One can hardly imagine a greater contrast than that between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Or between the two Bara(c)ks – Barack Obama and Ehud Barak

Netanyahu is conscious of this problem, perhaps more than any other Israeli leader. He grew up in the US, after his father, a history professor in Jerusalem, felt himself deprived of his rightful place in academia because of his extreme right-wing views and went to America. There Binyamin attended high-school and university. He speaks the fluent American English of a traveling salesman.

If there is one thing that unites practically all Israelis, from right to left, it is the conviction that the relationship between Israel and the US is critical for the security of the state. Netanyahu’s main concern is, therefore, to prevent a serious break between the two countries.

Barak was admitted to the government precisely in order to avoid such a clash. Netanyahu wants to visit the White House with Barak, not Liberman, at his side.

The clash seems inevitable. Obama wants to create a new order in the Middle East. He knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poisons the atmosphere against America in the Arab, and indeed in the entire Muslim world. He wants a solution to the conflict – exactly what Netanyahu and his partners want to prevent at any price, except the price of a breach with the US.

— How to do this?

The solution is written in the Bible (Proverbs 24:6): “For by ruses thou shalt make thy war.”

(In the King James version, the Hebrew word Takhbulot is translated as “wise counsel”. In Modern Hebrew it means ruses, tricks, ploys – and that is the way it is understood by all Hebrew-speakers today.)

FROM THE beginnings of Zionism, its leaders have known that their vision necessitates a large measure of make-belief. It is impossible to take over a country inhabited by another people without disguising the aim, diverting attention, hiding the acts on the ground behind a screen of flowery words.

All states lie, of course. 400 years ago, a British diplomat, Sir Henry Wotton, observed: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” Because of the special circumstances of their enterprise, the Zionists have had to use deceit perhaps a bit more than usual.

Now the task is to present to the world, and especially the US and Europe, a false picture, pretending that our new government is yearning for peace, acting for peace, indeed turning every stone in search of peace – while doing the exact opposite. The world will be submerged by a deluge of declarations and promises, accompanied by lots of meaningless gestures, conferences and meetings.

People with good ears are already hearing Netanyahu, Liberman and Barak starting to play around with the “Arab Peace Initiative”. They will talk about it, interpret it, accept it ostensibly while attaching conditions that empty it of all content.

The great advantage of this initiative is that it does not come from the Palestinians, and therefore does not require negotiations with the Palestinians. Like the deceased “Jordanian Option” and others of its kind, it serves as a substitute for a dialogue with the Palestinians. The Arab League includes 22 governments, some of which cooperate on the sly with the Israeli leadership. They can be relied on not to agree among themselves on anything practical.

— BUT DECEIVING, like dancing the tango, takes two: one who deceives and one who wants to be deceived.

Netanyahu believes that Obama will want to be deceived. Why would he want to quarrel with Israel, confront the mighty pro-Israel lobby and the US Congress, when he can settle for soothing words from Net\anyahu? Not to mention Europe, divided and ridden by Holocaust guilt, and the pathetic Tony Blair moving around like a restless ghost.

— Is Obama ready to play, like most of his predecessors, the role of the deceived lover?

The Biberman/Bibarak/Bibiyahu government believes that the answer is a resounding yes. I hope that it will be a resounding No.

March 29th, 2009, 6:22 pm


norman said:

As long as Syria is not willing to fight back and i am not saying to start a war but to fight back when Israel attacks like in 2007 and during Sharon when they attacked an area near Damascus ,
As long as Israel does not feel that it’s security will be threatened if it does not reach an agreement with Syria , Israel will stay there , how about i will give two years not one , there will be no peace Israel , and Syria , I do not think that will ever happen without Israel being forced ,

Look at Abbas for God Sake , he has been the Lap dog for Israel and the US for the last at least 4 years , What did that get him ,


I want to add something I feel strongly about , The existence of Israel is not in the balance it is the Israeli compliance with international law .

March 29th, 2009, 6:25 pm


Shai said:


Uri Avnery is an amazing, courageous and wise man, that came 50 years too early. The “market” wasn’t ready for him, and still isn’t…

March 29th, 2009, 6:38 pm


Shai said:


I was actually very surprised that Syria didn’t react to the attack in 2007. It would have been the perfect opportunity to lob a few tens (or hundreds) of missiles into Israel. That could have led to a mini-war or a serious enough crisis that would bring in the U.S., perhaps others, to force the two sides together.

But where Syrian pounds would now be best invested, I think, is in PR, not in tanks.

March 29th, 2009, 6:58 pm


Alex said:

King Abdullah’s dog dies in Israel

After falling seriously ill during IDF offensive in Gaza, Jordanian royal family’s pet secretly rushed to Jewish state for medical treatment at Beit Dagan veterinary hospital. Doctors regretfully fail to save beloved pet’s life

Published: 03.29.09, 10:05 / Israel News

The Jordanian royal family’s dog was secretly rushed to Israel for treatment in the midst of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.

Relations between the royal palace in Amman and the Beit Dagan veterinary hospital have been good for many years now.

The Israeli medical team’s expertise has served Jordan a number of times, almost always under a heavy veil of secrecy, as per the royal court’s request.

During the fighting in the Gaza Strip, the Jordanians once again called on the Israeli veterinarians for help. King Abdullah and Queen Rania’s beloved dog had fallen ill.

In a secret operation, the pet was transferred to the hospital in Israel in very poor condition.

A few days later, despite the veterinarians’ dedicated treatment, King Abdullah’s pet passed away.

The dog’s body was returned to Jordan, along with a sincere apology from the hospital’s vets for being unable to save him.

The Beit Dagan veterinary hospital refused to comment on the report.

March 29th, 2009, 7:00 pm


Shai said:


Do you think that the Royal Dog was rushed in an ambulance driving on the regular Palestinian-roads, or the Jewish-only ones AP drove on in his recent visit to Israel? Because if the latter, then as AP himself noted, the roadblocks are “easy to navigate”, and therefore the Dog would have made it to hospital still alive… (This reminds me of my friend Mahmoud’s words: “If you treat someone like a dog long enough, he’ll begin feeling like a dog…” Yes, Mahmoud, but not like a Royal Dog!)

March 29th, 2009, 7:10 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Shai is right: if you want to wage a war like Hamas or Hizballah you need to be prepared to make your country a failed state. I’m sure this is not what you wish for Syria.

You keep on bringing Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank as precedents that we can learn from on how Syria can retrieve territory but the Golan and Syria question is radically different from the other three. With Lebanon, Israeli occupation was just a matter of inertia (e.g., the relationship with SLA) and we stood to gain nothing from staying there. With Gaza, everybody on this blog agrees that the occupation continues, just with different means. I personally believe that Hamas’s strategy may have irrevocably caused the separation of Gaza from the rest of the Israel/Palestine problem. In the West Bank, Israel has much higher stakes to risk compared with the Golan (e.g., rockets paralyzing the only international airport in the country and a massive settlement movement to deal with) and that’s why we’re there, not because Abbas is so mellow.

The Golan problem seems much easier to solve in a peaceful manner compared with the other problems you cited and if that’s the case then we definitely need to explore this keenly. The Golan situation is much more similar to Sinai and Egypt which has been back with Egypt for thirty years now…

Is it possible that Turkey will tomorrow return Iskandarun to Syria, just like that? No. Countries do not give back something for nothing, even if it’s something they do not own. Did you really expect Israel to unilaterally withdraw from the Golan? This is a faux pas. No country would have done that.

This is well understood and accepted by Assad. The reasons we didn’t have a deal so far are twofold:
1. The deal doesn’t seem attractive to the Israeli public, given that Syria actively wages indirect war on Israel.
2. Negotiations keep on getting interrupted (e.g., by the Gaza massacre).

I think that a series of CBM’s can help with both problems. You seem to be most pessimistic about the plausibility of successful negotiations, so let me ask you again, what first step can the new Israeli government take to show that it’s serious about reaching a deal in its term?

March 29th, 2009, 7:37 pm


Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:


Thanks for the coverage on the initial steps of the DSE. I was dismayed to hear it didn’t start out more impressively. I think it hints that the DSE is providing a particular service that isn’t really required at this point, and this entire investment may be a white elephant. As a way to focus and forcing it to provide a service for which there is demand, how about requiring the DSE itself to be profitable, or it least sustainable? In particular, what can the DSE do that would make it a viable competitor to the Beirut exchange? In the US new exchanges open only when they can offer unique financial instruments, better trade characteristics or some other differentiating factor. The leaders of the DSE should find their differentiator and appeal broadly, also to people outside Syria (especially that there are many well-off Syrians abroad). Here is one crazy idea: in the US there was a new market for weather-based derivatives opened recently. This seems like a financial instrument that even medium-sized farms should have an interest in, as a way of hedging against drought. More traditional agricultural futures also seem adequate.

On the issue of 2.5% price fluctuation limits, the restrictions may result actually in inability to list securities on the DSE and other exchanges simoultanously, since the incompatibility will result in weird situations. This would further dissuade companies from listing in the DSE. I think that calls for completely lifting the limit.

March 29th, 2009, 8:08 pm


Alex said:

Good point Yossi.

Hi Shai … Yes, the Royal dog story is a silly one but stories like that circulate by email and end up on Arab blogs everywhere … I get tons of these.

But the king asking his Israeli friends for favors to treat his dog, and failing to do the same for the Palestinians in Gaza, is not anything but trivial.

March 29th, 2009, 8:40 pm


norman said:

Israel controlled Arab land for the last 40 years by installing fear in the Arab psyche that they can never win , that is just to paralyze the Arab from doing anything ,

Israel continue to think that Syria is Egypt and Assad can be like Sadat , that will never happen , for a simple reason that sooner or later Syria will find out , without trying to get the Golan by force Israel will not give back for peace , i watched the area before you were born , I Was there in 1967 and 1973 and after the disengagement agreement only to consolidate the occupation of the Golan,

Alex ,

You seem to give too much credit to CBM , The conflict is not psychological , It is about Israel taking what is not theirs then trying to give half of it as a major sacrifice,

For peace to take hold , Israel has to accept it’s responsibility for the plight of the Palestinians and to return the land occupied in 1967,
From i see taking place i see no chance of peace without some kind of war to force the Israeli leaders to convince their people of the benefit of peace , I hope i am wrong and peace can be achieved without that ,

I doubt it,


About the royal dog , It is typical, even the Royal dog will not get medical care in Arab countries were most Arab get care and like their leaders they go abroad for medical care , what an embarrassment.

March 29th, 2009, 10:13 pm


norman said:

Shai, Rumyal ,

Look at this,

Damascus set to receive MiG 31E planes

Mar. 29, 2009
Damascus will take receipt of advanced MiG 31E fighter jets in the near future, the outgoing head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency Lt.-Gen. Michael D. Maples told the Senate earlier this month.

Reports of the sale surfaced in 2007 but were quickly denied by Moscow and the official state arms-trading monopoly Rosoboronexport, which issued a statement saying “Russia has no plans to deliver fighter jets to Syria.”

In his testimony “annual threat assessment” to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maples provided the first official confirmation that the advanced fighter jets will be delivered to Damascus soon.

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

Israeli defense officials said they were not surprised by Russia’s intention to sell Syria the advanced jets but expressed concern that if the deal went through it would alter the balance of power in the region.

“Syria currently has an obsolete air force based on outdated MiGs,” one official explained. “If Syria gets new MiG 31s then this will pose a definite threat to our air force.”

The contract will be the first export deal for the MiG-31E, a heavy twin-engine interceptor fighter capable of flying at nearly three times the speed of sound and simultaneously shooting several targets at ranges of up to 180 km.

The aircraft was designed in the 1980s for tackling low-flying cruise missiles and other difficult targets and remains the mainstay of Russia’s air defenses. The MiG-31 was considered a key component of defenses against a possible US attack.

Damascus will also receive a number of MiG-29M fighters – a version that features a significantly improved range, has an improved radar and carries a broader array of weapons compared to basic MiG-29 model.

In his testimony, Maples also referred to Syria’s development of chemical and biological weapons. He said that Damascus did not have a biological weapon but was at the stage where it knew how to manufacture one.

“Based on the duration of Syria’s long-standing biological warfare program, we judge some elements of the program may have advanced beyond the research and development stage and may be capable of limited agent production,” he said. “Syria is not known to have successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, but it possesses a number of conventional and chemical weapon systems that could easily be modified for biological agent delivery.”

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1237727563406&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post –

March 29th, 2009, 10:33 pm


EHSANI2 said:


The DSE and its Board is does not fully support the limits. It is the commission (chief regulator) that does.

The purpose of the DSE was to help transform family owned businesses into listed companies. For a number of reasons, the response has not been overwhelming thus far.

March 29th, 2009, 10:43 pm


Chris said:

This story about the Syrian stock exchange is too funny! Do they think people from the Gulf are going to bring money into Syria to trade on an exchange within which they cannot buy and sell the same stock on the same day? If not the Gulf, then where is this capital supposed to come from? Syrian personal savings? This is a ridiculous and pointless excercise.

About the Sudan story: it is really difficult for me to feel sympathy for arms smugglers who aim to deliver weapons to a terrorist group such as Hamas. Moreover, the regime of Omar Bashir (who the Assad family regime defends) is committing genocide. In so doing, it is forfeiting its sovereignty. No principle of sovereignty can protect the genocidaires.

March 30th, 2009, 12:04 am


trustquest said:

I agree with you Chris, actually any investor from any place (even from Arab States) in the world would not touch foot in Syria when he knows that he cannot buy a house without security involvement, long paper work and with limited space also he can not sell except to Syrians.

March 30th, 2009, 1:53 am


Shai said:


Forget the MiGs, they’re not enough. Next time, when a “reactor” is bombed on Syrian soil, instead of confirming or denying its purpose, simply state the following: “Syria will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East”. This ambiguity (which Israel has used throughout the years) will win Syria far greater deterrence than a few MiGs. And, also lob a few hundred missiles, to indicate you still have strategic capabilities. Instead of Israelis talking about a potential nuclear Syria that is offering us peace time and again, we’re talking about a weak and fearful regime that seeks protection under an Iranian umbrella.


What about foreign investors? In the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange, a good part of investment comes from abroad. Is it possible to jump-start the DSE using outside investors as well?

March 30th, 2009, 3:56 am


Akbar Palace said:

Do you think that the Royal Dog was rushed in an ambulance driving on the regular Palestinian-roads, or the Jewish-only ones AP drove on in his recent visit to Israel? Because if the latter, then as AP himself noted, the roadblocks are “easy to navigate”, and therefore the Dog would have made it to hospital still alive… (This reminds me of my friend Mahmoud’s words: “If you treat someone like a dog long enough, he’ll begin feeling like a dog…” Yes, Mahmoud, but not like a Royal Dog!)

Shai, et al.,

Good questions. Just FYI and so the audience here knows, the roads I drove on were not “Jewish-Only”.

This falsehood is something you obviously made up in order to score “points” with your Arab friends.

As far as the Jordanian dog is concerned, and Shai’s “swipe” at his favorite “punching bag” (the State of Israel), Shai didn’t mention that Palestinians are routinely cared for in Israeli hospitals.

I’m just here to clarify the misinformation Shai likes to spread around on this website.

March 30th, 2009, 11:22 am


norman said:

From Monsters and

Middle East News
Syria’s al-Assad: Israel is not a peace partner to the Arabs (Extra)
Mar 30, 2009, 10:40 GMT

Doha – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said Israel’s new right-wing government was a reflection of the direction the Jewish state was taking, making it an unsuitable peace partner for Arab states.

‘What is changing in Israel is superficial, the core remains the same – against peace,’ al-Assad told the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar.

‘Israel’s right is like the left and like its middle. Israel is not a peace partner to the Arabs,’ he said, adding that Arab initiatives for peace could not be effective when ‘the other party is not serious in reaching peace.’

‘We have to depend on our selves because peace will not be accomplished with an enemy that doesn’t want peace,’ said al-Assad.

© Copyright 2007 by
This notice cannot be removed without permission.

March 30th, 2009, 12:10 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Strict Foreign Exchange transfer rules makes your suggestion very hard to meet. Money cannot be transferred freely outside Syria. You cannot simply buy a stock, sell it and ask a bank to transfer your money back.

March 30th, 2009, 12:24 pm


Chris said:


Thanks for posting that CAMERA article on the falsehood that is the notion that there are “jewish-only” roads in Israel. It was an interesting read and they refuted the “jewish-only” roads idea quite well.

March 30th, 2009, 12:37 pm


Akbar Palace said:


No problem. This is a free service sponsored by AIPAC;)

March 30th, 2009, 1:27 pm


Shai said:


You make me laugh. Your attempts are, at best, pitiful.

You think that by giving us an example of some road, where some Arab-Israeli taxi drivers transport Arabs from one place to another, that this disproves the fact that in the West Bank there are things called “Jewish-Only Roads”? No one suggested that ALL roads are Jewish-Only. In fact, most roads are NOT Jewish-Only. Most roads are, in fact, used predominantly by Palestinians.

However, your buddies will not report on everything they’ve seen and know about the West Bank, because if they did, they would be supporting the inescapable conclusion – that Israel is in fact carrying out an Apartheid rule over the Palestinian people, on their territory.

But my dear AP, I don’t know whether reporters have spent as many hours of truthful reporting about the West Bank as I’ve spent as a soldier there. Ask any soldier that has ever spent more than a minute in and around Kiryat Arba, Hebron, Beit-Hanina and Givat Ze’ev, whether an Arab can enter some of the super-highways that were built for… Jewish settlers. At times, a 10 km road has been built to connect between two settlements that are but a few kilometers apart, only so that settlers don’t have to go through Arab villages. Do you know what will happen to an Arab caught on such a road? I’ll leave it for your imagination, but suffice to say that his good fortune will be if only the army catches him, and not the settlers.

It’s truly admirable of you to attempt to disprove things some Israelis say that don’t fit the skewed-reality AIPAC has taught you in the U.S., and the one is doing in cyberspace. But do yourself a favor – go talk to some real Israelis, ones that have been to the territories not on a Safari-tour, but as soldiers and “defenders” of holier-than-thou Jewish settlers. Don’t believe Shai, a liberal Israeli with clear intention of “swiping at my punch dog (State of Israel)”. Talk to soldiers that voted Bibi, and Lieberman. Heck, contact some Kiryat Arba folks, and ask them how they get to and fro. Tell them you’re afraid of Arabs, and just want to know if there’s a way around them.

By the way, it is true that Israel receives, every once in a while, a few Palestinians for treatment in Israeli hospitals. And when that happens, it truly is a miracle. But how many Palestinians are stuck in ambulances for hours at checkpoints, or turned back, while trying to get treated in their own hospitals? How many Palestinians were taken in to Israeli hospitals in the latest Gaza operation? And yes, Israel even let truckloads of basic supplies into Gaza, also before the operation. That’s a fact that can’t be argued (nice try liberals). Except, that won’t tell you that at most, only 1/7 of the basic requirement of the Gaza population have ever been allowed in at a given moment. Why not? That’s a good question. Maybe you have an answer.

Akbar, you started out well, in seemingly accepting the inevitability of Jews and non-Jews living together on this one land called Israel-Palestine. Your conclusions seemed to suggest you understood that it was just a matter of time, before a one-state solution will become not only a de facto reality, but also a de jure one. You took some time to observe how Arab-Israelis live (well, SLA-Druze) and, although you got your conclusions wrong, you did make an effort.

If your purpose is to provide a “balanced picture”, and to remind us all that there are ALSO Non-Jewish-Only roads in Palestine, fine. But if you’re trying to erase a reality that has not only been encountered by Israelis who’ve been to the Territories, but also a reality that is experienced every day, every week, every month and every year, for over 40 years, by a people living under our rule, then you’re indeed entering dangerous waters. Not because they may endanger you specifically, but because doing so will necessarily turn you into a blind-supporter of a state and a policy that is slowly turning more racist and more cruel towards a population of millions of people, that have the same rights that you and I do.

Yes, we have rights too. We have a right not to have Qassam rockets flying over our children’s heads. But as I sit in my yuppie-cafe, typing on my WIFI-netbook while sipping a double espresso, I’m somehow led to considering their misery, even more than mine…

March 30th, 2009, 2:38 pm


norman said:


This will make you and me happy,

Syria president: We still seek peace with Israel

Assoacited Press Writer

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Syrian president said Monday that he is still interested in pursuing peace with Israel but insisted that “resistance” by militants must continue to force the incoming Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate.

Bashar Assad has repeatedly expressed his readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel over the past year. His speech Monday to a summit of Arab leaders suggested Assad still hopes for talks but was taking a tougher tone to confront what he expects to be a hard-line stance from Netanyahu’s government coalition, dominated by right-wing parties.

The “real aim of Israel’s recently elected government is against peace” and that the composition of the incoming Cabinet is a “clear, unsurprising message to us,” Assad said.

“This doesn’t demand we change our strategic option regarding peace,” Assad said. “But (our) tactics and mechanisms must change, not with the changing the governments of Israel but with … the aggressiveness Israel shows toward us.”

Assad underlined the need for continued “resistance,” a reference to anti-Israeli militant groups like the Palestinian Hamas, which Damascus supports.

Resistance is a “national and patriotic and moral duty and it is the only option,” he said. “Peace cannot be achieved with an enemy who does not believe in peace without it being imposed on him by resistance.”

Israel and Syria held four rounds of indirect talks mediated by Turkey last year, but Syria cut off the negotiations in protest over Israel’s offensive against Hamas in Gaza in December and January.

In any peace deal, Syria demands the return of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel in turn demands Damascus ends its alliance with Iran and its support for the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Assad has said in interviews since that the Turkey-mediated talks had stalled because Israel wouldn’t make an unambiguous commitment to return all the territory captured in 1967. The outgoing Israeli government of Ehud Olmert has not commented on details of the talks.

Direct talks between the countries broke down in 2000 over a similar issue of the extent of an Israeli withdrawal.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Assad’s speech Monday showed that Damascus’ intentions on peace remain unclear.

“Once again Assad contradicts his own statements. Just recently he went on record saying that he had been on the verge of signing a treaty with Olmert and that Syria hopes peace talks will continue with the next government,” Palmor said.

Speaking to Arab leaders on Monday in the Qatari capital, Assad also denounced as ineffective a comprehensive Arab land-for-peace offer to Israel, which has been on the table for seven years.

The Doha gathering is expected to endorse a resolution renewing Arab nations’ commitment to the offer, known as the Arab peace initiative, but also warning Israel that this offer will not stay on the table for too long.

The initiative, first proposed by Saudi Arabia, offers Israel recognition by all Arab countries in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from territory it occupied in 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.

Israel initially rejected the initiative in 2002, but in the past year has said it could be a starting point for discussions.

AP correspondent Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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March 30th, 2009, 2:48 pm


Shai said:


And this will make you happy… “Whenever Israel stands before peace-seeking Arab leader, it follows and answers the call,…”

Said in a speech before Knesset today, by Netanyahu. Yes, maybe he doesn’t mean it. Maybe he’s lulling Washington to sleep. Or, maybe he does mean it. Maybe he means it more than we know…

“… The Likud leader praised late prime minister Menachem Begin and the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for “their wisdom in making the impossible possible.” “

He’s not addressing Abu Mazen here. He’s addressing Bashar Assad, or Barack Obama, or both.

March 30th, 2009, 2:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Shai adamantly refuses to accept the truth:

You think that by giving us an example of some road, where some Arab-Israeli taxi drivers transport Arabs from one place to another, that this disproves the fact that in the West Bank there are things called “Jewish-Only Roads”?


Despite your loathsome Zionist military training and your pleas to the contrary, there is no such thing as a “Jewish Only” road. The roads are distiguished as “Israeli-Only”. MANY non-Jewish Israelis use these roads every day. Consider me as an eye-witness.

In fact CNN and other news agencies have already CORRECTED their articles because of this. When will you correct yourself Shai?

March 30th, 2009, 5:23 pm


Shai said:


You didn’t get your tail close enough to see Ramallah on a map, let alone real life, so don’t tell me about your “eyewitness” experience. You don’t know the first thing about Palestinian-roads, Israeli-only roads, or Jewish-only ones. Saying there are no such thing as “Jewish-only” roads, and that it’s really “Israeli-only”, so that any Israeli, be it a Jew, Muslim, Christian, or Shinto, can travel on them, is your and’s deceitful attempt at hiding the racist truth behind such roads. It is like saying that the Palestinian roads, the ones going through villages and towns in the West Bank, are also free and open to Muslims and Jews alike. Except, that on most Palestinian roads, no Jew would dare drive.

And on some of these “Israeli-only” roads, no Arab would dare drive, because as you know, dark and bearded men all look alike, and settlers tend not to tell the difference well. By the way, let’s assume there is no such thing as “Jewish-only” roads. Let’s assume there’s only “Israeli-only” ones. But these roads are in the West Bank, not inside Israel. Israel itself doesn’t consider the West Bank part of Israel, otherwise it would have annexed it. So to most in Israel, still, the Territories are an amoeba – a yet-to-be defined entity. But if it isn’t Israel, how can Israel create “Israel-only” roads?

And if by “Israeli-only” roads, you AP mean that any Israeli citizen (Jew, Arab, Budhist) can travel on them, but not Palestinians, then isn’t that quite a racist policy? Or at the very least an Apartheid? Since, if 20% of Israelis who are Arabs can really drive there as well, then it can’t be a race-issue. It’s like “Some-Blacks-Only Roads”.

Although might send you their annual medal for your efforts, you ain’t gettin’ one from me so quickly. But it was a nice try, AP.

March 30th, 2009, 5:44 pm


jad said:

Dear Shai,
Thank you for being that honest and showing the reality that most of the world already know without bothering checking or the likes propaganda websites.
It’s quite impressive yet annoying to see an American trying that hard to convince an Israeli, (who lives, has a family, a house and works in Israel all of his life), that what he saw in couple weeks is the only truth and there are no other layers are hidden under the crisp he is bragging about since he came back.
Some people doesn’t like to go out of their distorted bubble, they are afraid to catch the ‘truth’ virus.

March 30th, 2009, 6:40 pm


Akbar Palace said:

More Resistance, Less Voltage NewZ

President-for-Life Bashar ASSad said:

Resistance is a “national and patriotic and moral duty and it is the only option,” he said. “Peace cannot be achieved with an enemy who does not believe in peace without it being imposed on him by resistance.”*

Thank you President Bashar for that piece of information.

I’ll relay it to the Obama administration just in case they’re too busy to read it.

*strange, Israel already made peace with Egypt and Jordan. What is this chinless wonder talking about?


If Camera is distorting the “truth”, why did CNN and AP correct their articles? Why don’t you and Shai write back to them requesting them to recant and change their articles back showing the opposite is true? The fact is, Shai is wrong.

March 30th, 2009, 7:43 pm


jad said:

Yes AP, Shai is wrong, and I despise him for laying, he is a shame to be an Israeli and a human at the same time, what a looser he is.
From now one I won’t believe him I’ll believe you.
I think the whole Palestine occupation, the bad treatment, the wars, the killing, the walls, everything is a big scam and those Palestinians are living in their large villas, extremely happy, well educated, with great health and very well treated, yet they like to whine, what an ungratefully ‘race’ they are.
Hopefully, with you and other ‘trust worthy’ organization/civilization help they will shut up soon.
Keep the good work AP!

March 30th, 2009, 8:23 pm


Shai said:

I don’t care if CNN, BBC, Canale 5, ARTE, or STAR-AIPAC changed their wording from “only for Jews” to “only for Israelis”, fact remains, it’s a racist policy. I haven’t read about it, I haven’t dreamed about it, I was there. I saw it with my own two eyes. Do I have to bring a ‘fricken Settler on SC to suggest how many Arabs drive on some of the roads he uses?

But let’s play AP’s idiotic game for a moment. Let’s assume that the U.S. invades and occupies Somalia. And that over the next 40 years, it establishes American towns for some American “settlers” (colonialists) throughout Somalia. And, naturally, it connects these towns with a road-system. Some roads within this system are declared “American-Only” roads (ya’ani not “Christian-Only”). So some liberal Americans start to complain, and of course also the Somalians, claiming that America is practicing a racist policy on their territory – an Apartheid.

So what does America’s lawyer, in the form of one AP, say back? “Untrue! This is not a racist policy, because American-Blacks are allowed to drive on these roads…” And CNN changes the title from “only for Whites” to “only for Americans”… I feel better already. Don’t you, AP?

(Do please remind us all again of how much you believe in the rights of the Palestinians to statehood…)

March 30th, 2009, 8:35 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Yes AP, Shai is wrong, and I despise him for laying, he is a shame to be an Israeli and a human at the same time, what a looser he is.

cc: Shai

I wouldn’t accuse Shai of lying or being some sort of bad person or a “loser”.

From now one I won’t believe him I’ll believe you.

I wouldn’t believe anyone. I would believe in your own research.

I think the whole Palestine occupation, the bad treatment, the wars, the killing, the walls, everything is a big scam and those Palestinians are living in their large villas, extremely happy, well educated, with great health and very well treated, yet they like to whine, what an ungratefully ‘race’ they are.

I think the whole Palestine occupation, the bad treatment, the wars, the killing, the walls, everything is very unfortunate. Many Israeli Palestinians and Jews are finding it very hard to make ends meet, and many Israeli Palestinians and Jews are doing rather well.

Hopefully, with you and other ‘trust worthy’ organization/civilization help they will shut up soon.

I’m not sure who is “trust worthy”. Read the news articles carefully, because even the media is prone to error.

Keep the good work AP!

Thank Camera. They’re the ones who contacted CNN and the AP.

I don’t care if CNN, BBC, Canale 5, ARTE, or STAR-AIPAC changed their wording from “only for Jews” to “only for Israelis”, fact remains, it’s a racist policy.


Please explain how it is a “racist policy” allowing any Israeli with a clean record to use an Israeli road?

I haven’t read about it, I haven’t dreamed about it, I was there. I saw it with my own two eyes. Do I have to bring a ‘fricken Settler on SC to suggest how many Arabs drive on some of the roads he uses?

I leave it up to you to convince me and the audience here that the the roads in question are “Jews Only”, and that Israeli Christians and Muslims are, therefore, prohibited from using these “Jews Only” roads.

A few reliable links would be a good start.

But let’s play AP’s idiotic game for a moment. Let’s assume that the U.S. invades and occupies Somalia. And that over the next 40 years, it establishes American towns for some American “settlers” (colonialists) throughout Somalia.


In your “idiotic game”, you forgot to add that the “colonialists” have been a member state of the UN for over 60 years and that this new “un-named” member state (not “Somalia”) won land during a “Six Day War” that the emeber state didn’t ask for and that the said state unified their capital it has yearned for 2000 years, and thus is entangled in a border dispute.

And, naturally, it connects these towns with a road-system. Some roads within this system are declared “American-Only” roads (ya’ani not “Christian-Only”).

And, ya’ani, the 20% of the non-American population is allowed to use this road-system whenever eh/she wants to.

So some liberal Americans start to complain, and of course also the Somalians, claiming that America is practicing a racist policy on their territory – an Apartheid.

However, the facts do not support there is any “Apartheid” or “racist policy”, nevertheless, one can “complain” or file a “claim” whenever they want. Legally, there is no case either way.

So what does America’s lawyer, in the form of one AP, say back? “Untrue! This is not a racist policy, because American-Blacks are allowed to drive on these roads…”

Thus, showing there is not “Apartheid” or “racist policy”.

And CNN changes the title from “only for Whites” to “only for Americans”… I feel better already. Don’t you, AP?

You lost me. If blacks are allowed on “Americans Only” roads, where is the “racism”?

Do please remind us all again of how much you believe in the rights of the Palestinians to statehood…


March 31st, 2009, 12:04 am


Sean A said:

I don’t know enough about economics to speculate on the future of the DSE, but the low numbers seem on par with Ukraine when it struggled to get its stock exchange up and running (see Matthew Brzezinski’s “Casino Moscow” for more details).

March 31st, 2009, 2:14 am


Shai said:

Sometimes I wonder whether he’s pretending, or if he’s just naturally that way.


The United Nations does NOT recognize the colonialists (settlers) in the West Bank as living on a part of Israel. In fact, neither does the U.N. recognize the Golan as being part of Israel.

Have another look at your question, and maybe you’ll discover the answer therein:

“Please explain how it is a “racist policy” allowing any Israeli with a clean record to use an Israeli road?”

(Hint: Replace “Israeli” with “American”, and place roads in Mexico.)

(Further Hint: Not allowing Mexicans to drive on American-Only roads in Mexico, is exercising racial/ethnic discrimination, even if Americans of Spanish origin are allowed to drive on them.)

(Last Hint: Not allowing 2.5 million Palestinians to drive on Israeli-Only roads in the Palestinian territories, is exercising racial/ethnic discrimination, even if Israelis of Arab origin are allowed to drive on them.)

You’ll note that to make it easier for you, I never used the term “Jewish-Only”.

March 31st, 2009, 3:57 am


Shai said:

Here are some links for you:

But in case these don’t seem reliable enough (I’m sure you’ll discount the Aloni piece), here’s your very own trusted B’tselem:

Note especially: “This system of restrictions enables Israel to designate some of the roads in the West Bank for primary or exclusive use by Israelis, mainly settlers living in the West Bank. Israel prohibits Palestinian vehicles from even crossing certain roads. As a result of this prohibition, Palestinian traffic is restricted to those roads that remain open to use. Upon reaching a prohibited road, Palestinian drivers and passengers have to leave their vehicles by the side of the road, cross it by foot, and then find alternate transportation on the other side. Palestinians are forbidden to use, or are restricted in their use of, more than 300 kilometers of roads in the West Bank; Israelis are free to use these roads with no restriction whatsoever.”

To put the “Jewish-Only” vs. “Israeli-Only” argument to rest, once and for all, consider the following:

If the United States government constructs certain roads in Alabama (its own territory, not even occupied territory), and forbids all Alabama blacks from driving on them, then that government is exercising a racist policy, EVEN if it allows Georgia, Florida, and Nantucket Blacks to use them.

March 31st, 2009, 4:42 am


jad said:

You are a big phony Shai, you should learn how to become a better Israeli, would you? 😉 and please stop trying to convince me, I’m not going to believe you whatever you write or link, so, DROP IT!

BTW, add this to your links, it’s a very interesting and ‘real’ with picture testimony blog if someone asks for a proof of something someday somehow somewhere in Mehico.
Please read the story
Lest I Look on the Death of the Child

March 31st, 2009, 5:47 am


Shai said:

Mr. JAD,

Let’s go back to talking about Syria. Yossi has asked earlier what kind of minimal CBM should Israel (the Netanyahu government) do, to earn a similar CBM by Syria (like allowing an Israeli journalist to interview Assad)?

If progress can only be made via small steps, what can the next step be?

March 31st, 2009, 6:36 am


jad said:

Mr. Shai
Arabic mentality hasn’t change much since its early tribal days; Syrians in general appreciate honesty, courage and generosity, or at least they like to think they do.
The first step in my opinion should be an honest public apology statement from the Israeli to all and everyone under their occupation and an honest promise to go straight into a meaningful peace process not into 100 years of empty and endless negotiations.
Doing that is the first and most important step any Israeli PM can do to go forward, otherwise it’s like an alcoholic man refusing to admit his addiction and he keeps fighting and beating his wife day and night.
This step won’t happen with your right gov. they doesn’t have ‘IT’.
Have a great day Mr. Shai the honest 🙂
P.S. Your honesty get you most of the Syrians support and admiration, can you imagine how much admiration any HONEST Israeli PM might get by just doing what you are doing, we all here jumped in to support you whenever we feel that someone is attacking you…this is a small example of what I meant.

March 31st, 2009, 7:20 am


Chris said:

It sounds like some on this blog are critical of the fact that Israel has built roads for its people in the West Bank. How long do you think an Israeli, or an American jew for that matter, would survive on roads that Palestinians use? I can imagine the headline now. The point is, barring Palestinians from these roads serves to protect Israelis, and anyone in an Israeli car, from attacks by Palestinian terrorists. And that, protecting its citizenry, should be the first priority of any state.

March 31st, 2009, 1:24 pm


Akbar Palace said:


They would last about 5 seconds.

Uh, yes Chris, security is a “small” concern Shulamit Aloni and others like her don’t seem to comment on. The people I stayed with in Efrat almost got killed by a terrorist bullet. The car in front of them wasn’t so lucky.

The Oslo Accords stipulate that not only are Palestinians (governed by the PA) prohibited from driving on Israeli roads (unless they get permission), but equally, Israelis are prohibited from using Palestinian (PA) roads.

This law is strictly enforced. For example Israelis are PROHIBITED from entering Bethlehem. This means Jewish, Christian, and Moslem Israelis. I’m sure special accomodation is made if a request is made to the government authorities in either direction. As an American, I am allowed to enter Bethlehem if I show my American passport.

But please remember, the issue isn’t “international” (between Palestine and Israel), the issue is Israeli. All Israelis can use Israeli roads no matter which religion, color, or political persuasion. Period.

Much of what you see on the internet are complaints that “Palestinians” (under PA rule) can’t enter Israel or use Israeli roads. Hence the wild claims of “Apartheid”. Of course, Israelis are prohibited from entering Palestine, but that’s OK.

Anyway, once a peace agreement is signed, perhaps one day, the borders between Palestine and Israel will be open like they are between the US and Mexico and Canada (which, still, employs evil checkpoints at the border).

March 31st, 2009, 1:48 pm


Nour said:


What’s striking in your comment is how you brush aside the fact that these settlements are illegal and illegitimate. They are built on PALESTINIAN land and the roads are made for JEWS only. Yes JEWS, not “Israelis”, because it is effectively used by only Jews regardless of the argument over semantics. These settlements are inhabited strictly by Jews. There are no non-Jewish “Israelis” living in any of these settlements on the West Bank. So what you are saying is that the Jewish state of “Israel” has the right to build settlements on someone else’s land for Jews only and then has the right to build roads strictly for the use of these settlers in order to protect them from the natives who may not like the fact that they are settling their lands.

March 31st, 2009, 2:29 pm


Nour said:


You seem to forget that the “Israelis” are the settlers and the occupiers, not the other way around. “Israel” is the one controlling Palestinian land, not the other way around. “Israel” is building settlements on Palestinian land for Jews only and refusing to treat Palestinians on land that it controls as equal citizens. So, yes this is apartheid. Palestinians are not controlling areas of Jewish inhabitance and refusing to grant them equal citizenship, so to accuse Palestinians of engaging in “apartheid” is utterly ridiculous. And “Israelis” enter Palestinian land all the time; they’re called soldiers and settlers. No one can stop them, because “Israel” exercises military power over the Palestinians.

March 31st, 2009, 2:35 pm


Chris said:


The existence of the settlements ought to be dealt with through a negotiated peace agreement. Not by killing people because they live in the West Bank. If Israeli civilians are subject to murder by Palestinian terrorists because they are living in the West Bank then it would seem logical to me that the Israeli government would protect them by building roads for them. The best way of protecting them would be by keeping non-nationals off the roads.

You referred to “the natives.” It seems appropriate to remind you that these are large population centers. Many of the people living in these communities were born and raised there. They too are native.

March 31st, 2009, 2:38 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Palestinians are not controlling areas of Jewish inhabitance and refusing to grant them equal citizenship…


You must be joking, right? Palestinians, and more specifically, the PA, has NEVER allowed Jews to remain in land under their control, nor have they guaranteed their safety.

This is why ALL JEWS were forced to leave Sinai (at Egypt’s request) and Gaza (the PA’s request). Both these governments “refused to grant [Jews] equal citizenship”.


The existence of the settlements ought to be dealt with through a negotiated peace agreement. Not by killing people because they live in the West Bank.

Exactly. There NO instances (ZERO, NONE, NADA), past and present, showing if Jews do not “occupy” Arab land, they will even be left alone:

– Before 1967, Israel was still at war.
– After Israel left Lebanon, Israel is still at war with Lebanon.
– After Israel left Gaza, Israel is still at war with the defacto government in Gaza, Hamas.

This is one strong reason why the liberal parties faired so poorly in the lastest elections. They’re “out of touch”.

March 31st, 2009, 4:06 pm


Nour said:


You clearly have no regard for Palestinian life or Palestinian rights over their land. “Israel” has no right to control any part of Palestine; it has no right to build settlements there; and it has no right to establish an exclusively Jewish state on Palestinian land. The Palestinians are reacting to “Israeli” oppression. The Palestinians never left their land looking to cause trouble anywhere; they were living on their land and were forced out and turned into refugees on their own land only because the land was desired by Jews.

The Jews living in settlements are NOT natives, in any sense of the meaning. They are foreign elements that came from various different countries around the world and set up camp on land that belongs to others. “Israel” continues to build these settlements and eat up more Palestinian land while forcing Palestinians to live under occupation and humiliation. But you expect Palestinians to just sit and allow “Israel” to continue to take their land until a “final settlement” is reached in “peace negotiations.” This is nonsense; no people in the world would accept to be treated like the Palestinians have been. To be terrorized on a continuous basis by a criminal, racist, terrorist entity is not something anyone is willing to put up with.

March 31st, 2009, 5:05 pm


Nour said:


This is all nonsense. The problems started when a state was created exclusively for a particular group of people that were shipped from all over the world to settle on land inhabited by others. This is the essence of the problem, all the rest is meaningless jargon. The majority of Jews living in Palestine are illegal, illegitimate settlers who were transported, according to an ideological agenda, to a country they never knew or saw in order to establish a racist, exclusive state there that excluded the natives of the land. Everything the Palestinians have done was in reaction to a grave injustice committed against them.

March 31st, 2009, 5:13 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Since you do not accept Israel, what is there is nothing to discuss.

Like I said, “Good luck with that”.

I’ll let BB, Barry, Abbas, and Bashar hash it out. You can play the “spoiler role”.

March 31st, 2009, 6:02 pm


Chris said:


While I don’t have the time to point out the numerous errors of fact in each one of the sentences of your last post, I would like to point out the most glaring problem. The notion that one is reacting to something does not justify their behavior. Simply because the Palestinians are reacting doesn’t justify killing civilians or settlers. This notion that “they started it” really doesn’t get anyone anywhere nor does it justify killing Israeli civilians simply because they live on the wrong side of the Green Line. Oh, wait, you’ve put Israel in quotes. So, it seems that the Green Line is meaningless to you.

April 1st, 2009, 12:23 am


Nour said:


That’s right the “green line” is completely meaningless to me. The very inception of the so-called state of “Israel” was illegal and illegitimate. And your bias and disregard for basic human rights is evident in every word that you spew. You go out of your way to defend “israel” when it is massacring innocent civilians, but you find it objectionable that Palestinians would dare use force against their occupiers. Not once have I seen you condemn settlers for consistently and continuously attacking Palestinians and intimidating them, but your feigned “humanity” comes out when they are at the receiving end of a normal reaction to their criminal behavior.

The settlers are criminals, plain and simple. They are not “innocent civilians.” They didn’t innocently stumble upon land in Palestine and innocently build homes there to lead a normal life. They came as part of an ideological agenda to cleanse this area of its indigenous inhabitants and take their place on the land because they believe that Yahwa promised them this land and commanded them to annihilate the people on it. Their everyday actions and behavior demonstrate exactly how these people think and why they are there. But you don’t mind of course because you don’t care about Palestinian land being taken and Palestinian life being destroyed. Until every inch of Palestinian land is liberated the Palestinians have the right to use every means at their disposal to defend their land and restore their rights. If the settlers don’t like it, they can leave. No one invited them in the first place to take someone else’s land. I can’t take over your house, attempt to throw you out, and then complain if you use violent means to defend your right to your own home.

April 1st, 2009, 11:04 am


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