“The March to War: Israel Prepares…” by Nazemroaya

The following article tries to make sense of the almost constant war scares emanating from Israel over the last two years. My bet is that the threats and psychological warfare will not escalate into full battle. Most sensible people in the US and Israel know that war would be foolish and self-defeating. Israel would not get the peace it hopes for. The Middle East would be further radicalized. Oil prices would go through the ceiling. These are the same reasons that the US and Israel will not bomb Iran.

US and Israeli analysts have tried to depict Syria as the low hanging fruit. But like the fruit that Tantalus wanted so badly, it is always out of reach. It is not as low as it seems.

In April 2003, Israel's ambassador to Washington, Daniel Ayalon, explained what conditions the US and Israel believed would cause Syria to abandon its claim to the Golan and its support for Hizbullah. He said:

The way to deal with [Syria] is to de-legitimize its regime and the way to do that is by applying political pressure and to really apply economic sanctions… this is the key element to pressure [it] into regime change… So, this is the direction – a lot of psychological pressure.

The bombing of Lebanon in 2006 was carried out so severely in order to signal to Assad that Syria could not resist Israel and the US. He would have to make peace on favorable terms with Israel or suffer Lebanon's fate. The neo-cons in the White House insisted that the only way to convince Asad to change was to bomb him. This is why the Wurmsers berated Israel for refusing to hit Syria directly. Unfortunately for the neo-cons, most Israeli analysts are not so stupid. They understand the futility of such action. As I wrote in March 2004:

The United States would be unwise to squeeze Syria to the breaking point. Regime change will present the U.S. with a number of immediate dangers and few clear advantages. The likelihood of Syria producing a fully democratic regime in the next ten to fifteen years is remote; it enjoys none of the recognized prerequisites for sustaining democracy: its elites are not committed to democracy, its population is not homogeneous, its national institutions are extremely weak and its per capita GDP is closer to $1,500 than the $5,500 commonly viewed as the democratic tipping point. Moreover, the strategy of promoting external opposition groups, such as Farid Ghadry’s Reform Party, is unlikely to succeed. Similar efforts to support exile groups to bring change to Cuba and Iraq have met with an unbroken record of failure. Should the Asad regime collapse, state institutions such as the army and police would likely disintegrate and the country would slip into chaos and inter-confessional violence…. By threatening Syria’s stability, the U.S. will elicit the opposite effect it desires. Syrians will rally around their government rather than demand change.

Global Research, April 20, 2008


The march to war: Israel prepares for war against Lebanon and Syria
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya *

By the start of 2007, reports about major upgrades to the Syrian military, including advances in missile technology, with Iranian help were widespread in Israel. [1] The impression of an imminent war existed across much of the Middle East. Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran were reported in Israel to be preparing for a war to spark in the Levant. [2]

It was also claimed in Israel that Damascus had sent secret messages to Tel Aviv that should Israel continue to reject Syria's peace overtures, a war would breakout in the Golan Heights and that Syrian reservists were forbidden from leaving Syria because of the possibility of combat. [3]

In June, 2007, an inner circle of the Israeli government that would form a "war cabinet" in a Middle Eastern war scenario was categorically informed that a war with Syria would absolutely involve Iranian military intervention. [4]

It is now 2008 and the spectre of war has remerged in the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad revealed that his country is uneasy and prepared for the worst once again. Despite Tehran's position that the U.S. would not dare launch a war against Iran, the Iranian military is on standby. The Lebanese military and Hezbollah have also been placed on alert.

"While war is not a preferable option, if Israel declares war on Syria and Lebanon or if America declares war on Iran, Syria would be prepared," the Syrian President told a gathering of Arab intellectuals according to Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper, on April 16, 2008. [5] "We should analyze the situation from the perspective of American interests, because the last war in Lebanon has shown that at some point Israel wanted to stop the fighting, but was forced by the [Bush Jr. Administration] to pursue it further," Bashar Al-Assad continued. [6] Thus the threat of war lives on in the Middle East in 2008…

"Miscalculations" in the Levant: Setting the Stage for War?

Hereto, Tel Aviv has been deliberately promoting tensions with Syria and Lebanon. In 2007, Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, the former deputy chief of staff for the Israeli military, stated during a press briefing that war between Syria and Israel was unlikely as an answer to growing rumours of war that started since late-2006 and the commencement of 2007. The Israeli flag officer however did not rule out an eventual Israeli-Syrian conflict. Major-General Kaplinsky along with many other Israeli commanders and officials repeatedly stressed that a "miscalculation on the border" could spark a conflict between Syria and Israel sometime in the future. [7]

Not long after the 2006 Israeli defeat in Lebanon, Tel Aviv started crafting the "justifications" for more wars in its surrounding neighbourhood, the Levant. [8] The Israeli definitions of "miscalculation" have been extremely vague and ominous.

Tel Aviv has been involved in the process of creating a military carte blanche, allowing for "flexibility" in its regional approach towards Lebanon and Syria.

"Miscalculations" in the eyes of Tel Aviv range from the domestic affairs of the Lebanese and the events in the occupied Palestinian Territories to the most audacious and bellicose of definitions, such as the reaction of the Syrians to Israeli hostilities.

The secretive air assault, later revealed by the codename Operation Orchard, made by the 69th Squadron of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) against an unheard of facility in Deir ez-Zoir Governorate of Syria on September 6, 2007 could have become a "miscalculation" on the part of Syria had it responded to Israeli provocations.   

The Israeli definition of a "miscalculation" also means any arbitrary fire into Israel.  The Jerusalem Post defined a "miscalculation" that could spark a war with Syria as an incident "along the border, in the form of a terrorist attack that escalates into a larger conflict." [9] Such an incident could easily be sparked through conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. 

A false flag operation could also bring such an incident about. On July 18, 2007 there was rocket fire from South Lebanon into Israel by an unknown group, something that could have been used as a pretext for war. In Syria, Lebanon, and the Arab World the incident was believed to be the work of the Israelis and their allies in an effort to justify a future war.

Tel Aviv's Orwellian talk of Peace

In May, 2008 the head of the Mossad, the intelligence service of Israeli, said that talks of peace with Syria would lead to war. [10] Le Nouvel Observateur reported in July 2007 that the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, ruled out the resumption of peace talks with Syria while stressing that she believed Damascus posed a problem that must be tackled on a regional scale. [11] When asked about the prospects of peace with Syria, Tzipi Livni responded, "Absolutely not. Syria is pursuing the dangerous game it plays in the region [Middle East]," and added that Syria "remains a threat" to Israel. [12] These statements reveal the conduct of Tel Aviv and its hidden agenda. Within the context of a public declaration of peace during the summer of 2007, they also reveal Tel Aviv's duplicity. 

While Tzipi Livni stated that there would be no peace between Israel and Syria, Ehud Olmert stated in a televised interview with the Al-Arabiya News Channel, that he personally wanted peace with Syria. Prime Minister Olmert addressed President Bashar Al-Assad, the head of Syria, directly, saying "you know that I am ready for direct talks with you" and added that "I am ready to sit with you and talk about peace, not war." Several days later, Ehud Olmert also stated in Orwellian fashion that he wanted peace with the Syrians, but that peace did not equate to immediate peace negotiations between Syria and Israel and could mean a continuation of the "status quo."

Olmert's statement is doublespeak. Hereto, according to the Israelis, the threat of war exists as a result of the status quo between Syria and Israel. This statement is very important to keep in  mind because it indicates that Israel did not want to return the Golan Heights, but wanted something else from Syria as the condition of peace. This is where Tehran comes into the picture.

Israeli officials were further incriminated by the fact that in 2007 Prime Minister Olmert also said he was not concerned by an imminent war with Syria, but that he was unhappy with the public discussion about peace between Syria and Israel. One should question the logic behind Ehud Olmert's "irritation" regarding public overtures of peace between Syria and Israel. [13] Realpolitik is definitely being played by Israel in regards to Damascus in a consorted effort to de-link Syria from Iran and its other allies. In this regard, Damascus publicly insisted that there be no secret talks between Syrian and Israeli officials as to the conditions for peace. [14] The rationale for the Syrian insistence on transparency was to deprive Israeli of any means to covertly try to divide Syria from its Middle Eastern allies by generating suspicions of betrayal. 

The international press extensively reported Ehud Olmert's statements in 2007 about wanting peace with the Syrians. Israeli officials also repeatedly claimed that the Syrians were the ones rejecting peace. [15] These claims are made despite the fact that all public records show exactly the opposite. Syria's leadership have been calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Syria since the premierships of Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. Israeli claims of pursing peace for the most part have been part of an international public relations campaign attempting to portray the aggressor as the victim. In the case of Syria peace means that Tel Aviv will not go to war with Damascus if it distances itself from Tehran.

De-linking Syria from Iran: Israel's Real Condition for Peace with Syria

The return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which was was formerly called the "Syrian Heights" in Israel, to Syria was always the recognized condition for establishing Israeli-Syrian peace.

Dr. Alon Liel, a former director-general within the Israeli foreign affairs ministry and a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa, who was heavily involved with previous Israeli negotiations with Syria, has indicated the real issue holding Tel Aviv from accepting peace. Dr. Alon Liel went on record: he confirmed that 85% of negotiations between Syria and Israel were agreed upon by both Damascus and Tel Aviv. [16] The major issues for establishing peace between Damascus and Tel Aviv were all resolved in 2000; water rights for Israel from Syrian territory, guaranteed Israeli access to the Golan Heights upon its return to Syria, and security guarantees between both parties. [17]

Peace, in the sense of an agreement by both sides, however was unachievable in 1993, 1995, 1996, and 2000 due to Tel Aviv's internal politics. The situation became more so after 2001 with the start of an aggressive U.S. policy in the Middle East. "Israel isn't going to hand over [or return] the Golan [Heights] to an ally of Iran," Alon Liel has insisted as being the problem in regards to peace between both sides. [18]

Tel Aviv has imposed broader demands on Syria as the price of peace. It is in the strategic interests of the U.S. and Israel to isolate Iran, even at the cost of peace with Syria. [19] In this regard, Syrian internal affairs and foreign relations are decisive factors for Israel in regards to negotiations.

Syria and Iran are part of a strategic alliance in the Middle East resisting the interests of America, Britain, Israel, France, and Germany. Other Middle Eastern players resisting the same foreign interests are additionally allied or associated with Syria and Iran within one tangible bloc, the Resistance Bloc. [20] It is in this context that one understands Israel is no pursuing peace with Syria, but is threatening the Syrians with war if they do not abandon Iran and their allies.

On the eve of major Israeli exercises in which Israel and Syria fought a fictitious war, the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Haim Ramon, stated on a radio interview that Syrian anxiety had no basis and that Israel was pursing peace with Damascus, but added "unfortunately Syria is stuck deep in the evil axis of connections with [Hezbollah]." [21] If this is not indicative enough, Haim Ramon also concluded that Damascus has made a strategic choice to preserve its alliance with Iran rather than "pursue peace," which to Tel Aviv would mean a termination of Syrian-Iranian ties. Furthermore, on March 23, 2003 Shimon Peres stated that "peace talks with Syria cannot begin while it keeps supplying Lebanon with weapons." [22] This was a reference to the important role of Damascus as a middle man between Tehran and the Levant.

Neutralizing Syria: Prerequisite for Neutralizing Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran

Damascus is pivotal to the framework of resistance in the Middle East against Israeli, Anglo-American, and Franco-German interests. Syria acts as a bridge between Iran and Iraq at one end of the Middle East and the Levant on the other. Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and Iran are all tied together through Syria. [23]

In this regard, Damascus serves as the central link that holds together the forces resisting a new regional order in the Middle East, also known as the "Project for the New Middle East."

What the Israelis have been trying to do, in coordination with the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany is to remove Syria from these alliances and thus splinter or break the link between Iran and the Levant. The main goal is to pressure Syria into making a peaceful political surrender (just as Libya did to Britain and the U.S. in 2003), and to distance itself from Iran and the Arab resistance within Palestine and Lebanon to Israel.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, a former Israeli foreign minister, hinted in October 2007 that if Syria would not dissociate itself peacefully from Iran, a military solution was inevitable: "Driving a wedge between Syria and Iran, drying up [Hezbollah] by cutting its lines of arms supply, allowing the vital task of stabilizing Lebanon to succeed [meaning empowering client forces in Beirut], and forestalling what now looks as a most realistic scenario of a triple front war of Israel against Syria, Hamas and [Hezbollah] are the strategic fruits concomitant to a Syrian-Israeli peace." [24]

Removing Syria from the "Resistance Bloc" is a prerequisite for Israel, America, and their partners for tackling Iran. With Syria removed from Iran's influence, the entire Levant could be controlled and the resistance in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon under such players as Hamas and Hezbollah could be significantly weakened. Under such a framework, the Levant could be integrated into the economic order of the so-called "Western Powers" under the Washington Consensus and within the Mediterranean Union: this is where Israeli, Anglo-American, and France-German Middle East interests merge.

In 2006, the ultimate objective of the Israeli attack on Lebanon was to remove Syria from its alliance with Iran and insert Damascus within the orbit of a new regional order. With this understanding in mind, the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon were revealed to have been planned to also target Syria.[25]

War however became a far costlier option for America, Britain, Israel, and their partners and that is why political channels were pursued with Damascus after the 2006 defeat of Tel Aviv in Lebanon.  Haaretz released a revealing report in August, 2007 about the true nature of the diplomatic mission of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to Damascus. The intentions of her visit to Damascus were stated to help establish peace between Syria and Israel and better ties with America, but the conditions were not fully disclosed.

Syria was being courted to abandon Iran, just as Italy was courted to abandon Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire by London and Paris before the First World War: "The chairman of the [U.S.] House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos, who accompanied Pelosi, said Assad should be given a final opportunity to disengage from the 'axis of evil.' According to Lantos, in a few years, Sunni Muslims and not Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in control in the region, and it is to the advantage of Damascus to know which side to be on." [26]

For Tel Aviv and its partners, if the goal of removing Damascus from its alliance with Tehran can not be achieved through diplomatic dialogue, economics, threats, or pressure then the original course of action, warfare, within a major three-front confrontation is the other alternative against Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories. These hostilities would also be linked to confrontation with the Iranians and could result in an broader conflict in the Middle East and Central Asia. Ehud Olmert declared "I believe that we can expect a calm summer, a calm autumn and a calm winter [which runs from November, 2007 to March, 2008]," when tensions were rising between Syria and Israel in 2007. [27] It is worth noting that tensions began to rise again in the Levant after Olmert's timeframe of calm.

The threats of war in 2007 were partly scare tactics to pressure Syria into yielding and conceding to the geo-strategic interests of America, Britain, Israel, France, and Germany. [28] Up to now, all efforts to remove the Syrians from their alliances have failed.

Clearly, Israel has been preparing for war on a broader regional level. Simultaneously, Tel Aviv has been preparing to shift blame for any possible outbreak of a regional war on the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Palestinians, even the Russians, and foremost on the Iranians.

Operation Orchard: Fabricating a Syria-Iran-North Korea Nuclear Axis

On September 6, 2007 Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace and mysteriously attacked an unheard of facility. The Syrian military reported that Israeli aircraft illegally entered Syrian airspace from over the Mediterranean Sea and headed towards northeastern Syria. "Air defense units confronted [the Israeli warplanes] and forced them to leave [Syria] after they drooped [sic; dropped] some ammunition in deserted areas without causing any human or material damage," the Syrian military initially claimed. [29] The Syrians immediately also stated that Israel was trying to create pretexts for another war in the Middle East. [30] The U.S. government also entered the commotion by claiming that the White House was aware of the operation and the Pentagon had assisted the Israelis. The White House also claimed that the Israelis had destroyed a facility that was linked to a clandestine nuclear program in Syria. Damascus also maintained that the attacks and the claims about a secretive nuclear program were preludes to U.S. involvement in an Israeli war against Syria. [31]

In this context, Syria restrained itself, fearing that Tel Aviv wanted to entice Damascus into a war. Professor Eyal Zisser, the director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, noted "Any misunderstanding could lead to conflagration. However, the Syrian announcement was surprising in its moderation." [32] The operation was also reported as being a possible test-run for an Israeli attack on Iran. The U.S. and Israel also asserted that the Russian-made air defence systems in Syria did not function. [33] The attacks could have also been a form of pressure to force the Syrians to go to the Annapolis Conference to detect if a war was intended against their country.

The attack was described as an Israeli success by the Bush Jr. Administration and the mainstream media. A propaganda campaign was launched: Through media disinformation and political statements, efforts were placed on establishing the threat of a "Syria-Iran-North Korea nuclear proliferation axis." [34]

The alleged nuclear facility was a Syrian project aided by North Korea and Iran according to the U.S. and Israeli governments. Trying to pin Syria for having weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs is not a fresh approach. In fact just barely a month after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq the U.S. and Britain actively started trying to portray Syria in an Iraq-like manner claiming that Damascus also had hidden weapons of mass destruction (WMD) stockpiles.

In early-April, 2008 it became clear that Israel and the U.S. had been planning on releasing details about Operation Orchard and the alleged nuclear facility attacked by Israel in Syria to further demonize Damascus and to further construct a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) link between Syria, North Korea, and Iran. [35] The Jerusalem Post subsequently reported on April 14, 2008 that Israeli experts suggested that the full disclosure about an Israeli attack in 2007 in the U.S. Congress could even "embarrass" the Syrians to the point of militarily responding against Israel. [36]

The Assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus: Antecedent to War?

On February 12, 2008 Imad Fayez Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah security official, was assassinated in Damascus by means of a remote detonated car bomb. The intelligence services of America, Israel, Britain, France, Germany, Jordon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia were all suspected of some form of involvement. According to The Daily Star, an English-language newspaper based in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia had helped Israel in assassinating Imad Mughniyeh and a Saudi military attaché was arrested in Damascus due to links to a Syrian collaborator in the assassination. [37]

More than a month following the Mughniyeh assassination, U.S. Vice-President Cheney made a regional tour of the Middle East. "We must not, and will not, ignore the darkening shadows of the situations in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria and in Iran and the forces there that are working to derail the hopes of the world," Vice-President Cheney vowed dramatically in a insinuation that conflict was brewing and the U.S. was prepared to aid Israel. [38]

It did not take long for pundits to point toward Mughniyeh's murder as being used in a ploy to launch war in the Middle East. Israel's intelligence and information apparatus started exerting themselves in a misinformation campaign to create doubts about the murder of Imad Mughniyeh. Tel Aviv's aims were to shift the blame on the Syrians in a psychological operation (PSYOP) intended to inseminate doubts and mistrust between Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, in order to strain their alliance and weaken the Resistance Bloc.

According to Israel's Channel 10, sometime after the assassination of Mughniyeh, Tel Aviv sent Hezbollah a letter through a third party, threatening another disproportionate war against Lebanon. Tel Aviv also wasted no time in threatening Syria if Hezbollah launched retaliatory attacks on Israel. [39] In this context, Reuters also reported that an unnamed senior Israeli official had spelled out conflict with the Syrians as a reprisal for hostile Lebanese and Palestinian actions against Israel. [40] The root of these so-called hostile actions by Lebanese and Palestinian groups are of retaliatory nature to hostile actions initiated by Tel Aviv. In many cases, these attacks against Israel are invited by Tel Aviv as a means to create the justifications of postponing peace, annexing territory, and launching war. 

In mid-April, 2008, Israeli jets and helicopters created insecurity among residents of Haifa when they scrambled across Israel to intercept an unidentified light plane entering Israeli airspace. [41] Tel Aviv's security and military forces have been on high alert since the Mughniyeh Assassination. [42] On March 18, 2008 an Israeli warship was also dispatched into Lebanese waters, where it was intercepted by an Italian warship, in a move that many in Lebanon saw as a taunt by Israel.

Israel has advertised very publicly that it expects retaliation from Hezbollah. [43] This "retaliation" could also give Israel an excuse for launching another war. The Israeli government also used the opportunity to raise domestic tensions amongst its own citizens. Israeli officials also warned about possible attacks from across the Lebanese border by Iranian-manufactured "explosive-packed drones" or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) sent by Hezbollah. [44]

Creating Pretexts for War in Lebanon

Israel has overtly claimed, as part of a concerted public relations campaign, that Hezbollah increased the range of its rocket arsenal. [45] The public advertisement of the increase in the rocket range of Hezbollah by Tel Aviv stands outside the standardized protocol of Israeli officials who consistently work domestically to keep public confidence in the strength of the Israeli military and security apparatus. Although there was a genuine probability of truth to the Israeli statements, the main objective behind their very publicly advertised declarations were to further build excuses for further Israeli aggression, such as pre-emptive strikes, in Lebanon or the so-called Israeli "Northern Front" and regionally in the Middle East.

In reality, Hezbollah's rocket range was probably upgraded or already capable of hitting deep into Israeli territory before Tel Aviv decided to divulge its knowledge. Hezbollah had already threatened to strike Tel Aviv in 2006 if Beirut were to be attacked by Israeli bombs. The timing of the information by Israeli officials about Hezbollah's rocket range is linked to painting the picture of a growing threat amongst its own citizens and to gain their support for combat.

In the case of Hezbollah, like those of the Palestinian Resistance and Syria, the increased range of their projectiles have been attentively linked to Iran, itself the ultimate target. Starting in March, 2008 the mainstream media in Israel and worldwide reported that the Israeli government had warned that most of Israel, up to the city of Dimona in the Negev Desert, was within the striking range of Hezbollah from Lebanon. Haaretz correspondents in addition reported that "Hamas militants who recently returned to the Gaza Strip after training in Iran [held] a detailed plan for upgrading the capabilities of the rockets being developed in the [Gaza] Strip, according to senior Palestinian Authority sources." [46] As a note, the Palestinian Authority sources being referred to are the unelected Fatah officials in the West Bank who themselves collaborate with Israel. These types of reports have also helped boost the case for war.

The basis for war against Lebanon is an intricate parcel of a broader conflict in the Middle East, which in turn is itself a component of an even larger conflict in Eurasia. The fact that various Palestinian resistance groups have trained in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran is also being used as a justification for war and as a means to tie all three republics closer together as a single enemy axis by Israel. Aside from those in the Palestinian Territories, in the event of a major war the Palestinian groups based in Lebanon and Syria have made it clear that they will fight alongside the Lebanese and Syrians. Palestinians in Egypt and Jordon have also elucidated towards such a course of action too.

With 2008 efforts to implicate Hezbollah in regards to attacks on American and British troops in Iraq have resurfaced. These reports were originally made by London in an effort to link Hezbollah to the roadside bombs in Basra at the start of the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq, but were dismissed. The main British objective of involving Hezbollah as an enemy in Iraq was the foreknowledge that Lebanon would be attacked by Israel in 2006.

On April 8, 2008 General David H. Petraeus, the commander of Coalition troops in Iraq, accused both Iran and Hezbollah of helping the Iraqi forces that attacked the "Green Zone" in Baghdad. [47] He testified to the U.S. Senate about Hezbollah's alleged involvement in killing American and Coalition troops: "Together with the Iraqi Security Forces, we have also focused on the Special Groups [meaning those forces fighting against American and Coalition forces]. These elements are funded, trained, armed, and directed by Iran's Qods [Jerusalem] Force, with help from Lebanese Hezbollah." [48] The allegations by General Petraeus were part of the conscious effort to justify a greater American role in the next conflict against the Lebanese.

The Mediterranean Front

It is clear to the Pentagon, NATO, and Tel Aviv that the Levant stands to ignite a Mediterranean battle-front in the event of a war against Iran. To this end, the marshaling of a relatively invisible NATO war fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean is rigidly tied to war plans against Tehran. [49] The naval build-ups in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean have been ongoing since 2001 with the strategic aim of preparing the logisitical framework for war against Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian resistance, Syria, and Iran.

Paris and Berlin have intense vested interest in the Anglo-American wars in the Middle East. As has been repeatedly uttered by French, German, and E.U. officials the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East are the "eastern borders of the European Union." [50] To this end Nicolas Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union is a declaration of these Franco-German interests that are very much tied to the wars in the Middle East and the establishment of a settlement between the Arabs and Israel in the Levant. [51]  

The 2006 Israeli siege against Lebanon, with the active support of American military personnel and planners in Israel, was a phase of this military schedule as well as a dress rehearsal by both sides for a larger Middle Eastern war. Both sides were given the opportunity to re-evaluate their tactics and strategies for such an upcoming war, should it spark. History will see what comes to pass. 

* Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a writer and geopolitical analyst based in Ottawa who specializes on the Middle East and is currently Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization. This article first appeared at globalresearch.ca

Also see: The March to War: Syria Preparing for US-Israeli Attacks


[1] Ze'ev Schiff, Syria rearms, moves troops closer to Golan Heights border, Haaretz, February 22, 2007; Ze'ev Schiff, Israel's message in talks with Gates: Syria is preparing for war, Haaretz, April 22, 2007; Yitzhak Benhorin, Syria arming intensely, minister says, Yedioth Ahronoth, May 4, 2007.

[2] Herb Keion, 'Syria, Iran, Hizbullah planning war,' The Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2007; Yakkov Katz, 'War with Syria this summer unlikely,' The Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2007; Roee Nahmias, Syria's top general to pilots: Be prepared for war, Yedioth Ahronoth, October 23, 2007.

[3] Smadar Peri, Syria plans war of attrition in the Golan Heights, Yedioth Ahronoth, August 2, 2007; Aluf Been, IDF, government preparing for possible Syrian strike on Golan Heights, Haaretz, April 2, 2007; Yakkov Katz, IDF prepares for Syrian attack on Golan, The Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2007; Smadar Peri, Arab official: Syrian general mulling war with Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth, August 14, 2007.

[4] Ronn Sofer, Syria not planning offensive, security officials say, Yedioth Ahronoth, June 11, 2007.

[5] Roee Nahmias, Assad: US wants Israel to declare war on Syria, Yedioth Ahronoth, April 17, 2008; Assad: Syria is preparing for war, The Jerusalem Post, April17, 2008; 'We are prepared for Israel war,' Press TV, April 17, 2008.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Amos Harel, IDF deputy chief: Summer war with Syria not likely, Haaretz, July 11, 2007.

[8] The Levant in its cotemporary definition is a geographic sub-region of the Middle East that includes Lebanon, Palestine/Israel, Syria, and Jordon. The Turkish province of Hatay, where the city of Alexandretta (Iskenderon) is located, has traditionally been considered a part of the Levant along with small portions of Turkey. The exact boundaries of the Levant are abstract, but the categorization of Levantine countries, in the geographic sense of the word, is unambiguous. The Levant is roughly bordered by Iraq to the east, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the mountain range of the Taurus in the north, and Arabia to the south.

[9] Yakkov Katz, IDF wary of possible war with Syria, The Jerusalem Post, July 11, 2007.

[10] Itamar Eichner, Talks with Syria could lead to war, says Mossad chiefYedioth Ahronoth, May 14, 2007.

[11] Tzipi Livni, Tzipi Livni : «Nous allons aider Mahmoud Abbas…», interview by Henri Guirchoun, Le Nouvel Observateur, July 12, 2007.

[12] Ibid.; Tzipi Livni:  « Absolument pas. La Syrie poursuit le jeu dangereux qui est le sien dans la région. (…) et demeure une menace… »

[13] Hern Keinon, Olmert: Israel, Syria don't want war, The Jerusalem Post, July 12, 2007.

[14] Assad sets Golan pullout as condition for future talks, The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 18, 2007.

[15] Syria dismisses Olmert offer to hold peace talks, The Jerusalem Post and Associated Press (AP), July 10, 2007.

[16] Yaakov Lappin, Israel-Syria pact '85 percent done,' Yedioth Ahronoth, July 18, 2007.

[17] Adam Entous, Syria may be flexible on key Israeli demand: UN, Reuters, July 12, 2007.

[18] Lappin, Israel-Syria pact, Op. cit.

[19] Adam Entous, Israel says awaits clear Syrian message on Iran, Reuters, July 18, 2007.

[20] The Resistance Bloc is a  group of players that can be categorized within one grouping for resisting foreign programs and interests in the Middle East. Iran, Syria, both the Lebanese Resistance and the Lebanese National Opposition, the Hamas-led Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Resistance, the Iraqi Resistance, and various elements of opposition in the Arab World all fall into this regional grouping opposed to Anglo-American, Franco-German, and Israeli interests.

[21] Deputy PM Ramon: 'Israel has no intention of attacking Syria,' The Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2008.

[22] Aviram Zino, Peres: Israel will not cede Golan Heights for Syria-controlled Lebanon, Yedioth Ahronoth, March 23, 2008.

[23] It is interesting to note that the outline of this bloc also falls within the perimeters of the so-called "Shia Crescent," an artificial and misleading concept about Shiite ascendancy in a crescent starting from Iran, going through Iraq and Syria, and ending in Lebanon and Palestine. This concept is a brethren-term of the very terminology that conceptualized the "Sunni Triangle" in Iraq, which did not exist until the campaign to occupy Iraq started. Both terms are psychological devices and concepts described as a means to re-categorize and divide the Middle East.

[24] Shlomo Ben-Ami, The way to Damascene conversion, Yedioth Ahronoth, October 21, 2007.

[25] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Premeditated Nature of the War on Lebanon: A Stage of the Broader Middle East Military Roadmap, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), September 10, 2007.

[26] Aluf Ben, Israel seeks to reassure Syria: No summer attack, Haaretz, April 3, 2007; it should also be noted that the grounds were paved for war against Berlin and Vienna in 1914 by London and Paris by first de-linking Rome from Germany and Austro-Hungary and this is precisely what Washington, D.C. and Tel Aviv have been trying to do in regards to Damascus and Tehran.

[27] Barak Ravid, Olmert: Israel, Syria have no interest in military conflict, Haaretz, August 11, 2007.

[28] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Détente in the Middle East or "Calm before the Storm?" Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), July 12, 2007.

[29] Air Defense Units Confront Israeli Aircrafts over Syrian airspace forcing them to Leave, Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), September 6, 2007.

[30] Syria: Israel Is Spreading False Reports In Order To Justify War, Reuters, September 30, 2007

[31] Syrian paper warns nuclear rumors may be prelude to US attack, Associated Press (AP), September 16, 2007.

[32] Alastair MacDonald, Syria-Israel bombing incident shrouded in mystery, Reuters, September 7, 2007.

[33] Report: Russia sent technicians to Syria, Jerusalem Post, October 2, 2007.

[34] Sarah Baxter et al., Israelis 'blew apart Syrian nuclear cache,' The Sunday Times (U.K.), September 16, 2007; Alexander Kogan, The secretive Syrian-N. Korean alliance, The Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2007.

[35] Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Israel, U.S. plan to release details on Syria attack, Haaretz, April 9, 2008.

[36] Yakkov Katz and Herb Keinon, Status of Syria strike hearing unclear, The Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2008.

[37] Riyadh accused of role in Mughniyeh assassination, The Daily Star (Lebanon), April 10, 2008.

[38] Cheney backs Israel over security, British Broadcasting Corporation News (BBC News), March 23, 2008.

[39] 'Israel threatened to attack Damascus,' The Jerusalem Post, March 15, 2008; Adam Entous and Daniel Williams, Israel secretly warned Syria about Hezbollah, ed. Dominic Evans, Reuters, March 14, 2008; Jon Brain, Israel calms fears of Syria conflict, British Broadcasting Corporation News (BBC News), April 3, 2008.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Hanan Greenberg and Ahiya Raved, Light plane causes scare in north, Yedioth Ahronoth, April 12, 2008.

[42] Ron Ben-Yishai, Revenge for Mugniyah could ignite conflict in north, Yedioth Ahronoth, April 3, 2008.

[43] Yoav Stern, Nasrallah: Mughniyah's blood will lead to elimination of Israel, Haaretz, March 14, 2008; Police to beef up forces over Purim, fearing Hezbollah strike, Associated Press (AP), March 17, 2008; Avi Issacharooff et al., Hezbollah deputy chief: We have proof Israel killed Mughniyah, Haaretz, March 23, 2008; IDF chief: Army prepared for any scenario, Yedioth Ahronoth, April 18, 2008.

[44] Yakkov Katz, 'Hizbullah may send bomb-laden UAVs,' The Jerusalem Post, April 6, 2008.

[45] Israel: Hezbollah increases rocket range, Associated Press (AP), March 27, 2008.

[46] Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Hamas gets Iranian plans for improved Qassams, Haaretz, March 31, 2008.

[47] Andrew Gray and David Morgan, U.S. sees Iran and Syria "Lebanon" gambit in Iraq, ed. Philip Barbara, Reuters, April 8, 2008.

[48] General David H. Petraeus, April 8, 2008 SFRC Testimony (Testimony, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, D.C., April 8, 2008).

[49] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The March to War: Naval build-up in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), October 1, 2006.

[50] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), February 10, 2008.

[51] Ibid.; Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Mediterranean Union: NATO's Role in Conquering the Middle East and North Africa, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), February 18, 2008.

Comments (170)

Rami said:

This article failed to mention the “continuous Palestinian call to international players to act against Israels largest ever military maneuvering in the north.” Just as we speak, Israel is mobilizing much of its troops towards the North, while sending Syria and Lebanon messages telling them this is a routine exercise.

I got this information from Ahmad Kabaha, the head of the press officer at the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, right after they finished meeting a key EU delegate, Swedish FM Carl Bildt.

I personally think this is yet another exaggerated attempt to tell us that we live in a dangerous world.

April 20th, 2008, 2:15 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


Josh Landis writes:
The United States would be unwise to squeeze Syria to the breaking point. Regime change will present the U.S. with a number of immediate dangers and few clear advantages. The likelihood of Syria producing a fully democratic regime in the next ten to fifteen years is remote; it enjoys none of the recognized prerequisites for sustaining democracy: its elites are not committed to democracy, its population is not homogeneous, its national institutions are extremely weak and its per capita GDP is closer to $1,500 than the $5,500 commonly viewed as the democratic tipping point.

Do you still stick to your 7-15 year estimate for democracy in Syria? It seems that Landis and I share the same view that the Syrian elites are not committed to democracy. Landis does not say this but they are committed to their own survival.

Landis’ argument is sincere. He does not say leave Syria alone and it will become a democracy. He just argues that the alternatives that will follow regime change will be worse. I wish he could spell them out more clearly and explain why the alternatives would be worse for Israel and the US.

Also, does Landis completely give up on a democratic Syria? How long will it take according to Landis for Syria to become democratic?

April 20th, 2008, 3:47 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Everytime somebody refers to the neocons’ ill-fated misconception of Syria as a “low-hanging fruit” I can’t help but wonder what kind of fruit it is.





Cuz I kind of think it’s important to know, strategically.


April 20th, 2008, 4:05 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria is so low hanging it is a peanut.

Josh at least admits that the way the regime protects itself is by making sure that there is no alternative to it except chaos. That is why it cannot let survive even the buds of democracy.

April 20th, 2008, 4:13 pm


Honest Patriot said:

I think it’s the Lebanese fruit “Akkee Dinye” (not sure what it’s called in English).

April 20th, 2008, 4:16 pm


Naji said:

Prickly Pear…

We have the best in Syria, but it is not easy to pick, peel, and eat even the ripest…! You can hurt yourself at each step… and then the injury is quite unpleasant, all over your body, and takes a lot of time and pain to remove…
Also, not only does the fruit protect itself, but the whole shrub protects that fruit…

That’s what I like about QN… always identifies the pertinent question…
Prickly Pear

April 20th, 2008, 4:22 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


The fruit is called loquat in English. I spent a few hours once trying to figure it out.

I think it’s called sheseq in Hebrew.


April 20th, 2008, 4:39 pm


Zenobia said:

Whatever kind of fruit it is, I can offer this advise: don’t follow your impulses in regards to eating it. Once you taste it- the desire is to eat more and more….

Syrian fruit is sooooooo good that inevitably, foreigners, are inclined to overindulge and seize upon this delicious fruit at every turn…

and the result is…..

well, (from having witnessed many complaints about this and even had some personal experience)…. A lot of time in the bathroom.

April 20th, 2008, 4:55 pm


Naji said:

QN, did you hack into my comment to show an already-picked fruit…??! Well, I guess that would be one way to do it…?! But they don’t look ripe or even real…!

April 20th, 2008, 5:01 pm


Alex said:

The lowest hanging fruit is the Syrian-Israeli peace treaty that the wonderful neocons were not interested in.

HP, QN, Naji .. thank you for educating us on those two types of fruits. Both absolutely delicious.

Qunfuz visited Syria this year, and he wrote:

“simple pleasures. Food, for instance. Not just the recipes but the quality of the raw materials. I swear a Syrian chicken doesn’t taste like the usual dry blandness; nor do Syrian eggs taste like any other eggs. The rich sweetness of a Syrian mandarin is unrivaled. (For all my British childhood it was a burdensome duty to chew fruit. I didn’t understand how fruit should taste until I came to Syria).”

April 20th, 2008, 5:07 pm


Joshua said:

Dear Naji, I hacked in. Hope you don’t mind. Sorry about the green fruit. Here’s another try.

I know what you are thinking, Naji.

April 20th, 2008, 5:08 pm


Alex said:

Naji, Joshua,

Here is the real thing … complete with a Syrian castle behind it


April 20th, 2008, 5:14 pm


Naji said:

Thanks Josh, that looks much better… I always thought you are one who knows what he is talking about… just look at how menacing these thorns look and how un-appealing the whole enterprise seems… especially to those who know the full potential of these little bumps on the fruit…

Great second picture, too… Luckily, the plant is made up of many many leafs, all just as menacing… you can etch and chop at it for a long time without it losing its deterrence… Alex’s picture-link is a good illustration of the whole effect…

… 😉

April 20th, 2008, 5:19 pm


Alex said:

I was wondering about the absence of any apparent feedback mechanism in their Syria strategy. Is it an adaptive strategy? … Is there any learning going on? is it possible at all to correct the thing, or is their strategy khalida ila al-abad?

In April 2003, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Daniel Ayalon, explained what conditions the US and Israel believed would cause Syria to abandon its claim to the Golan and its support for Hizbullah. He said:

The way to deal with [Syria] is to de-legitimize its regime and the way to do that is by applying political pressure and to really apply economic sanctions… this is the key element to pressure [it] into regime change… So, this is the direction – a lot of psychological pressure.


We are April 2008 .. a nice 5th anniversary to Daniel’s brilliant idea.

April 20th, 2008, 5:21 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Is there any learning going on in Syria? Years pass and Syria is still a third world country. When will it learn and improve?

Why do you demand learning only of others but not of Syria? Why is it always others that need to change but not Syria?

April 20th, 2008, 5:38 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is needed on Syria is years of pressure. Only that will lead to change. And if not, it will at least keep Syria very weak. Let Asad worry what will come first, the development of Syria or the Muslim Brotherhood. If he wants to take his chances, no problem. But remember, no complaining in the end.

April 20th, 2008, 5:42 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Ode on a Syrian cactus-fruit
By Elliott Abrahms

Orb of rapturous, nettlesome pulp, how I long
To pluck you and make haste to yonder castle to devour you
In the shade of my noble cross-bearing forbears’ walls,
Making ribbons of my palm-flesh as I squeeze
A levantine elixir to quench, if only sparingly,
A thirst for higher, less yielding fruits.
You taunt me, hanging low like the bosom of an old mountain gypsy,
Or the testicles of a fat valley ox,
How I long for you! But do I dare pluck this pendulous orb,
This prickly, persnickety grenade of desert nectar?
Alas, I trudge by, my eyes scanning the lonely path,
For a yet less lofty repast.

April 20th, 2008, 5:42 pm


Zenobia said:


April 20th, 2008, 5:49 pm


norman said:

Israel is using the crying wolf theory,

Drill and no war

Drill and no war

Drill and no war

Drill and war when nobody is expecting .

April 20th, 2008, 6:10 pm


Naji said:


If Elliot Abrahams had such wit, he’d be truely dangerous… I sure am glad you are on our side…! You are, aren’t you…?! (gulp!)

…such QUICK wit, too… 😀

April 20th, 2008, 6:11 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Thanks, Naji. I’m on your side, habibna. Nobody else’s.


April 20th, 2008, 6:22 pm


norman said:

Do we need an agricultural expert on the site.?

April 20th, 2008, 6:23 pm


Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Is there any learning going on in Syria? Years pass and Syria is still a third world country. When will it learn and improve?

ALEX: Yes. For example, Syria (the leadership) learned that revenge is foolish. Others are still not that advanced.

Why do you demand learning only of others but not of Syria? Why is it always others that need to change but not Syria?

ALEX: I wouldn’t want to disappoint you in the lack of reciprocity in my “demands”. Look at it this way: Syria should not put pressure on the United States, and the United States should not put pressure on Syria. That is all.

What is needed on Syria is years of pressure. Only that will lead to change. And if not, it will at least keep Syria very weak. Let Asad worry what will come first, the development of Syria or the Muslim Brotherhood. If he wants to take his chances, no problem. But remember, no complaining in the end.

“Syria VERY weak”… Maybe if you keep repeating it a million more times God will make it true? … like some prayers eventually get answered

April 20th, 2008, 6:27 pm


Joshua said:

Habibi Qifa al-Qays

This refined man of letters, the speculative philosopher, the great faqih, the adept man of medicine and the excellent master of theology was the late Hajj Eliott al-Abramski al-Washingtoni, sanctified by God, a man of truth and wisdom, who had attained deliverance from the finite self and selfhood and had merged with the Infinite Truth.

In spite of his high scholarly status and eminent social standing, his sense of commitment to society and his burning love for al-Imam al-Musa had impelled him to deliver sermons from the minbar about the low hanging fruit, the prickly pear of Sham.

His sermons, since they came from the heart, had a deep effect on the hearts. Whenever he visited Quds, the scholars of the first rank would persuade him to deliver sermons from the minbar. His sermons were charged with a passionate purity and sincerity that made them profoundly effective. They were not just words to be heard, but a spiritual state to be experienced.

Like the city on the hill, never reachable but always targeted, the low hanging fruit caused us to strive for the highest object. The freedom agenda, democracy on the Barada, or freedom al-fayha’ was never far from his thoughts and his strivings. He would lose his self in chaos, the great creator and source of all inspiration.

al-Abrams al-Washingtoni, the low hanger, the fruit of God’s loin, the plucker of prickly pears. He is an inspiration and a path.

Al Jahiz, in the al-Bayan wa al-tabyin, relates from ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali that Hajj Abramski once said:

We (the Ahl al-Suqur al-judud) are superior to others in five qualities: eloquence, good looks, forgiveness, courage, and popularity with women.

April 20th, 2008, 6:47 pm


Shai said:

Alex, QN, Zenobia, Naji, AIG, and any others…

First, the two fruit you described above also grow nicely in Israel, and are called “sheseq” and “sabres”. I happen to love them both.

Second, I’m surprised that in 17 comments, no one really took on anything the writer (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya) mentioned in his rather long article…

Third, while I will not attempt to tackle even most of his points, I will make a general statement of my own impression with it. Alex, I’m sorry, but I found it, how should I say it, quite full of… “sheseq”? Compared to other Mideast writers and articles thereof, this one seems to flow up and down, sideways and every which way, except for smoothly or logically. It is full of contradictions. It seems informative with plenty of source citations, but in reality it is a poor gluing together of a bunch of unrelated news bits, which create a horrific mish-mash of everything.

To give just a few examples, take for instance this: “In 2007, Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, the former deputy chief of staff for the Israeli military, stated during a press briefing that war between Syria and Israel was unlikely as an answer to growing rumours of war that started since late-2006 and the commencement of 2007. The Israeli flag officer however did not rule out an eventual Israeli-Syrian conflict.” What does that mean? Who could EVER rule out an eventual Israeli-Syrian conflict? Could Bashar rule it out? Could anyone? It’s a paragraph with 58 words, saying absolutely nothing!

Or take this one: “The Israeli definition of a “miscalculation” also means any arbitrary fire into Israel. … A false flag operation could also bring such an incident about. On July 18, 2007 there was rocket fire from South Lebanon into Israel by an unknown group, something that could have been used as a pretext for war. In Syria, Lebanon, and the Arab World the incident was believed to be the work of the Israelis and their allies in an effort to justify a future war.” So this event, according to the writer, was believed to be a work of Israel to justify response that would lead to war. In other words, Israel wants war, but since it can’t outright start one, it is looking for opportunities to respond to something initiated by others, and that would lead to war. And it is even ready to go through extra trouble to create such a scenario, as if initiated by the other side, such as this rocket fire in July ’07. And yet, Israel didn’t start war after this so-called “Israeli-initiated” event… Why then? Another long paragraph, saying nothing whatsoever.

Or how about this one: “In 2006, the ultimate objective of the Israeli attack on Lebanon was to remove Syria from its alliance with Iran and insert Damascus within the orbit of a new regional order. With this understanding in mind, the 2006 Israeli attacks on Lebanon were revealed to have been planned to also target Syria.[25]” So which is it? Remove Syria from its alliance with Iran (peacefully), or target Syria (non-peacefully)? Alon Liel mentioned in his lecture at the Middle East Institute in Washington that a number of days into the war (2006), he was rushed to Switzerland to meet with his American-Syrian counterpart, Ibrahim Soliman. The latter informed Alon that Syria, in order to help put an end to the quickly deteriorating war, is offering to have its deputy FM meet with Israel’s deputy FM immediately (the next day), in Vienna. Alon rushed back to Israel, informed the FM, and was basically told “out of the question”. Which means, that Israel was certainly not interested in any peaceful dialogue with Syria at this point, which might (only in theory) cause Damascus to even consider changing its alliance with Iran (I personally don’t think this could happen, but let’s assume some do). This certainly could not be expected to happen by force, or by targeting Syria. Again, a lot of words that seem informative, yet are either contradictory, or say nothing.

And one more, take: “Haaretz released a revealing report in August, 2007 about the true nature of the diplomatic mission of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to Damascus. The intentions of her visit to Damascus were stated to help establish peace between Syria and Israel and better ties with America, but the conditions were not fully disclosed.” This seems like a piece of information that reveals something which many would otherwise never guess – the actual intentions of a U.S. Congresswoman to Damascus! Well, is there anyone out there, who knows that an American visitor to Syria is either visiting Jerusalem just before, or right after, visiting Damascus, who would think that the visitor’s intentions were anything BUT to “help establish peace between Syrian and Israel and better ties with America”?? It’s like there’s a conspiracy out there, to try to hide real intentions from us, and yet certain newspapers (like Ha’aretz), occasionally slip us these amazing revelations, which shed so much light on what goes on behind the scenes… right? Terribly unimpressive… and boring… (sorry).

And last, but not least, why is this writer continuously referring to Israel’s seat of power as Tel-Aviv, instead of Jerusalem? The writer doesn’t need to establish his own embassy there, he just needs to acknowledge that Israel’s government sits in Jerusalem. While Army HQ is in Tel-Aviv, and so is the Defense Ministry, decisions like going to war, or “deliberately promoting tensions with Syria and Lebanon”, or “imposing broader demands on Syria as the price of peace”, most likely occur in Jerusalem, not Tel-Aviv. It’s like if the readers hear “Tel-Aviv” enough times, instead of “Jerusalem”, they might actually think that the latter is not Israel’s capital. Well, even those of us who know that the Palestinian capital will be E. Jerusalem, still recognize W. Jerusalem as our state capital, and not Tel-Aviv.

The article, expectedly, doesn’t suggest that war WILL occur in the Middle East. It merely describes every possible way by which it is being prepared for, mostly by the U.S., Israel, and their other Western Allies. But the writer claims that some of these preparations have been going on since as early as 2001. So the world’s strongest powers need 7 years to prepare for war in the region? And they still haven’t found the right opportunity to attack Syria? What are they waiting for? According to the writer’s suggestions that Israel might have arranged for some of these “miscalculations”, certainly the U.S. and Israel could have already “planted” tons of stuff on Syria (Hariri, Deir ez-Zur, etc.) and had plenty of “reasons” to attack. So why haven’t they attacked yet? Is better weather expected sometime in 2015?

Sorry Alex, but even Simo and Wizart impressed me much more than this particular writer, or this particular article… (sorry, no personal offense intended).

April 20th, 2008, 7:15 pm


offended said:

Reading that hilarious comment of your; I bet AIG will start wearing a jockstrap form now on.

April 20th, 2008, 7:23 pm


T said:

“The way to deal with [Syria] is to de-legitimize its regime and the way to do that is by applying political pressure and to really apply economic sanctions… this is the key element to pressure [it] into regime change… So, this is the direction – a lot of psychological pressure”

The killing of Hariri provides justification for all those key ‘elements of pressure’- possibly leading to conditions ripe for regime change… Hmm?

The red fruit with the polka dots looks the best. Are there different varieties like with apples? I never saw any of these in Syria, green or red.


This is an educated blog- remember yourself!! (and there are minors present)-wink.

April 20th, 2008, 7:24 pm


Alex said:


It was Joshua who posted this story .. it was too long for me to read, I was busy answering AIG : )

But from the segments you picked. I would partially agree with you that those paragraphs were not all very solid.

But there is a belief among most Syrians that Israel is planning something fishy … one of these days it will make use of “an excuse” or it will turn an exercise into a real war on Syria.

But in my opinion, most of the confusion stems from the fact that there is confusion and division in Washington and Tel Aviv …

April 20th, 2008, 7:53 pm


Shai said:


Sorry then, all my “babble” should be directed at Joshua!

There’s no doubt that if war will occur, each side will make maximal use of every excuse in the book. If Israel attacks Syria, it’ll say it’s because Syria is supporting HA and Hamas. If HA attacks Israel, it’ll say it’s because Israel is attacking the Palestinians. If Hamas attacks Israel, the same. All the excuses have already been there for years and eons. Do we really need to invent an Archduke Ferdinand, who’ll be assassinated by a Serb? If any of the sides want war, they could have started it already, why wait?

April 20th, 2008, 8:01 pm


T said:


From US-Is viewpoint: time is not on their side if they really want to deal with Syria and Iran’s nuclear threat. As time goes on, resistance will only grow among US public, Hezbollah military stash will only increase in volume and lethality, Iran knowledge-capability is escalating etc etc. etc.

Maybe they think it is their last chance before it is too late?

April 20th, 2008, 8:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Written like a true `alim.

Maybe you should compile a mock tabaqat work on the august school of al-fuqahaa’ al-neoconiyya. It would be a great service to the field.


April 20th, 2008, 8:12 pm


Shai said:


So why haven’t they done it already? What’s keeping them from doing it right now, or yesterday, or two months ago?

April 20th, 2008, 8:18 pm


Akbar Palace said:

This thread is titled:

“The March to War: Israel Prepares…” by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Then Professor Josh chimes in:

The following article tries to make sense of the almost constant war scares emanating from Israel over the last two years. My bet is that the threats and psychological warfare will not escalate into full battle.

I guess Mr. Nazemroaya’s 51 footnotes didn’t impress Dr. Josh.

April 20th, 2008, 8:31 pm


Shai said:

I tend to agree with Joshua (wishful thinking?), that escalation into full battle is unlikely, at least not by Israel or Syria. My fears, as I’ve mentioned them before on SC, are that either Hamas, or HA (who certainly have something to gain from Israeli-incurred violence), will miscalculate, and lead to a chain of action-reaction which will lead us into full-scale war. Years later, historians could call it “The Unwanted War”…

Having said that, the mixed message campaign by the media goes on…

April 20th, 2008, 8:39 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

French, Syrian FMs to discuss Lebanon crisis
By Hussein Abdallah
Daily Star staff
Monday, April 21, 2008

BEIRUT: As the 18th Parliament session to elect a new Lebanese president looked likely to face the fate of earlier sessions, reports emerged that the foreign ministers of Syria and France are expected to discuss the Lebanese crisis on Tuesday on the sidelines of an international conference in Iraq to be held in Kuwait.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora discussed in a phone conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Sunday the potential prospects of the Kuwait conference.

April 21st, 2008, 12:35 am


Qifa Nabki said:

The situation in Lebanon has gone from tragedy to farce to tragicomedy.

Maybe what is needed is a national roundtable to discuss the idea of whether or not dialogue is a positive thing, and then based on that, they can either choose to dialogue with each other or not.

Pretty soon, people will be arguing about whether or not “calling for a dialogue about potentially having a dialogue” is even constitutional. I can already hear Jumblatt trumpeting: “We reject your call to dialogue for dialogue about having a dialogue on the national dialogue! But, of course, our hand is extended in partnership.”

And they wonder why civil wars start. Walla di3aan al-balad.

April 21st, 2008, 12:41 am


Honest Patriot said:

Welcome to maturity QN. You’re not far from the last phase, which is “acceptance.” There’s hope though. It has a necessariy condition. That condition is humor.

April 21st, 2008, 1:15 am


Qifa Nabki said:


I’m staving off maturity! I hear it’s highly overrated.

As for your sentiment, I’m reminded of what Noam Chomsky said about Lebanon: “a vibrant, tragic, but ever hopeful country.”

April 21st, 2008, 1:35 am


norman said:

Report: Syria’s Assad confirms exchanging messages with Israel through third party

The Associated Press
Sunday, April 20, 2008
DAMASCUS, Syria: Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday that he has exchanged messages with Israel through a third party to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks, the country’s official news agency SANA reported.

During a meeting with ruling Baath Party officials, Assad commented on media reports about indirect contact between the two countries.

“There are efforts exerted in this direction,” he was quoted as saying.

An Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on Thursday quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying Israel and Syria have been exchanging messages to clarify expectations for any future peace treaty. He didn’t disclose the content of the messages or provide other details about the contacts.

The paper quoted Olmert as saying, “They know what we want from them, and I know full well what they want from us.”

Assad echoed those comments on Sunday, saying Israel “knows well what is accepted and not accepted by Syria.”

“Syria rejects secret (direct) talks or contacts with Israel… Anything Syria does in this regard will be announced to the public,” Assad was quoted as saying.

Negotiations broke off in 2000 after Syria rejected Israel’s offer to return the Golan Heights, which it captured in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed.

Syria wanted Israel to withdraw to the prewar line on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. But Israel wasn’t prepared to give up any control of the lake that provides about half of the country’s drinking water.

Despite the peace overtures, tensions have been high between the two countries in recent months, largely stemming from an Israeli air attack on a Syrian military facility in September. Some foreign reports have said the target was a nuclear installation Syria was building with North Korean assistance.

Damascus denies having an nuclear program, and North Korea says it was not involved in any such project. Syria did not retaliate for the attack.

Both Syria and Israel have expressed a willingness to renew talks since Israel’s war against the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia in 2006. Olmert has insisted that if Syria is serious about peace, Damascus must withdraw its support for Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.


Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune | http://www.iht.com

April 21st, 2008, 1:49 am


Enlightened said:

Cheney ‘Em All!
By Madeleine Begun Kane

The “F word” and the “C word” and the “S word” and the rest
Must make some room for “Cheney.”
As a curse word, it’s the best.

Instead of saying “f**k you,” just say “Cheney you” next time.
You’ll like it, I assure you.
As a curse word, it’s sublime.

And when perchance you want to tell some bastard where he stands,
Explain that he has “Cheney’d up,”
If “f**ked up” seems too bland.

April 21st, 2008, 2:05 am


Enlightened said:

Please notice my decorum for not typing the full words! (LOL)

April 21st, 2008, 2:07 am


Enlightened said:

Here’s a Better One!

Whoever once said
There’s an end to bad luck
Never met Dick Cheney
And had enough time to duck

He emerged from his cave
Dick’s castle pretend
And with a kilo of birdshot
Popped an old friend

Hallelujah, he’s fine
Harry’s back in the sun
Steve Tyler was right
Cheney’s got a gun

A heart attack later
Past a tablet or two
You’d think it was Cheney
Who abruptly turned blue

First it’s bin Laden
Now it’s a quail
“I just want one animal
That can’t make me fail”

Misfortune or ruse
Dick’s always had vigor
But this gives new meaning
To pulling the trigger

Dick says he was wrong
He said sorry to Harry
“It was an illusion, old friend
I thought you were Kerry”

The media took note
To no one’s surprise
How could they not
Harry barely has eyes

But why all the drama
Why the lampoons
This was bad aim
Not some Danish cartoons
CNN made a timeline
Of the whole silly case
As for Michael Jackson
And his new plastic face

Dowd had a fit
Nearly called him a liar
Maher blew a gasket
And demanded a pyre

“Why hold the news?”
The press corps inquired
“He’s silent, he’s shifty,
He must have conspired!”

They claim a strange ploy
That Bush had to know
They want an investigation
Just to put on a show

Boxer could grandstand
Kennedy would cry
It would be Alito all over
“Why did you lie?!”

A hearing for Durbin
A statement for Dayton
The awful conclusion:
“Cheney is Satan”

As much as Dems weep
It’s not like Dick tried
As much as libs sob
They can’t prove Dick lied
They cry, “What a scoundrel!
He pretends to have guts,”
But Dems are just jealous
That Cheney has nuts

Alas, it’s all over
Cheney’s stopped talking
If only this ended
The media’s sad squawking

He’s a little more broken
Dick has to be hurt
But even this can beat out
A Halliburton alert

Harry’s resting at home
A suit won’t be filed
The press again proves
It can act like a child

“So back to my bunker”
Dick said as he twirled
“Time to plan for ’08
When I take over the world”

If we were only so lucky
We can never foretell
Just keep it up, Dick Cheney
Keep giving ’em hell

April 21st, 2008, 2:12 am


Shai said:


I’m sorry, but QN, and now Enlightened, are seeking to plunge Syria Comment deep down into the realms of nothing-but-humor. How can we condone or accept this? What will come next? Singing make-love-not-war songs?

I say ban both writers, a week each, for starters!

April 21st, 2008, 4:37 am


Enlightened said:

I just wanted to put my twenty two cents worth in. And some chastisement must go to Josh and QN, for leaving out their odes to the great man, the True leader, The Hard uncompromising, Stiff necked, Weak Heart, the Irreplacable Dick #### Cheney!

For with out him, The testicles of a fat valley ox, (LOL) are still there waiting to be picked!

Alas How I long for you! But do I dare pluck this pendulous orb,
This prickly, persnickety grenade of desert nectar?
Alas, I trudge by, my eyes scanning the lonely path,
For a yet less lofty repast.

This is better than Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and worthy of publication for a FULLBRIGHT scholar”

April 21st, 2008, 5:00 am


Shai said:


I’ll put in my vote for Fullbright scholar the minute I end this comment. But you really must be banned for a week, or more, to calm you down… 🙂 What’s this sudden in-fat-uation with Cheney? Is he about to invest in some real estate Down Under? I think you’ve had too much Passover wine…

April 21st, 2008, 5:11 am


Enlightened said:

NO! we wouldn’t have him here in the land of Aus.

Josh and QN missed the main man in their poetry, its the Dick, not Elliot!

I forgot it was passover, compliments of the festival to you! I had too too much wine at Easter, haven’t had a drink since!

Had the weekend off, and all this talk of war???? sheesh

April 21st, 2008, 5:19 am


Alex said:


I don’t ban that fast. But if by next week Enlightened is still talking about D##k Cheney, then I will ban him.

April 21st, 2008, 5:40 am


Shai said:

Yeah, and what does that say about us? Either we’re extremely sharp at detecting subtle mood swings (and intentions) amongst world and regional leaders, or we’re particularly bad at remaining optimistic for too long…

Thank you Alex. I just want fairness… Enlightened really went way way too far with humor… 🙂 Too much humor can kill, you know… I heard there’s a sect in Japan of old men and women who, when nearing death, retreat into the mountains, and collectively laugh themselves to death… I guess their leader never goes all the way, in order to continue bringing up more next time around.

April 21st, 2008, 5:44 am


T said:

There are also cases of terminal cancer patients who have literally laughed themselves well. Please see Dr Norman Cousins who documented the phenomenon and opened a whole new area of medical inquiry as a result.

In one case, a guy was given his final expiration date. He decided to spend his final weeks doing his favorite thing- watching and laughing hysterically at every Charlie Chaplin movie ever made. End of that time, his cancer had disappeared.

And laughing till you cry is even better. There are certain toxins the body releases only through tear ducts, for example. (Its theorized that this is one reason for womens’ longer lifespans- they cry more.)

So AIG, get out your kleenex and start wailin’!! Its healthier than shooting all those little rock-throwers over there (which only messes up your spleen and endocrine system.)

April 21st, 2008, 8:44 am


Shai said:


I had never heard of that, but it makes perfect sense. I’m off to laugh, and then cry some… It sure beats killing and starving people.

April 21st, 2008, 9:07 am


T said:

See enclosed link. http://www.worldlaughtertour.com/

The corp world is mandating seminars for employee laugh conferences to keep down health costs. Now the procedure is recommended officially by immunologists etc.

That is why the emoticons are a biological imperative here at SC !!!!!

April 21st, 2008, 9:15 am


Naji said:

I hate to be quoting Bill Kristol, but he does, every now and then, make an interesting point or observation.

April 21, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Exodus Exegesis
Every presidential campaign has to produce a stream of appropriate statements for religious holidays, patriotic commemorations, and the like. Campaigns don’t expect to win votes with these messages. They produce them because there’s a risk of giving offense to some group or other if they don’t.

And candidates do it because it looks presidential. After all, a substantial portion of any White House’s output consists of official messages recognizing various national milestones, group anniversaries and dignitaries’ birthdays.

So, last week, in the midst of the excitement over the pope’s visit, the Clinton, Obama and McCain campaigns found time to issue Passover greetings. They were of course staff-produced, and somewhat formulaic. Still, differences among formulaic statements can be revealing.

The Clinton statement is the most personal of the three. She claims she has “always been inspired by the enduring words of the Haggadah: ‘In every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we personally came out of Egypt.’ ” Indeed, she affirms, “I am deeply moved by this timeless cry to stand up to oppression, tyranny and discrimination — wherever they are found.”

Now let’s grant that as first lady and senator from New York, Hillary Clinton has probably experienced more Seders than your typical non-Jewish politician. It may therefore be true that she has been inspired by those words of the Haggadah.

The trouble is that, as so often in her campaign, her greater experience hasn’t given her anything interesting or distinctive to say. The lesson she draws from the story of Exodus is that “it’s through remembering the past that we become strong and effective advocates for all who suffer the indignity and pain of servitude and injustice.”

The sentiments are conventional. But Clinton does manage to convey the impression that she’ll “stand up” and “advocate” in a “strong and effective” way — unlike, presumably, her allegedly all-talk-but-no-action rival, Barack Obama.

Sure enough, the Obama statement is talkier than Clinton’s. For Obama, Passover is a learning experience: “The Seder, with all its rich traditions, has much to teach us all.” Indeed, “its emphasis on teaching children, and letting them demonstrate their knowledge through the traditional asking of questions, embodies the great Jewish traditions of family and education.”

Now, there’s truth to Obama’s emphasis on the Seder as a teaching moment for those involved. But he’s not satisfied with that. The whole country has to listen up.

After all, as Obama says, “American Jews have always played a vital role in our national conversation.” So, Obama urges, “let us continue to engage in dialogue, and to ask ourselves and each other how the Passover story challenges us to question the world as it is, and to seek a future that is more just and more peaceful for all.”

Hillary Clinton’s statement sounds as if it were written by a serious and slightly old-fashioned Reform rabbi, full of the spirit of earnest liberal advocacy. Obama’s message has the feel of a slightly New Age, somewhat hip, multicultural, dialogue-friendly, college-town pulpit.

Not John McCain. He understands Passover as a time for reflection about sacrifice: “As families gather together for Seders, members of the Jewish faith reflect upon the painful sacrifices made by their ancestors, the joys of freedom, and the triumph of inherent goodness over evil.”

Sacrifices for the sake of freedom, the triumph of good over evil — if John McCain was at a Seder this past weekend, he surely would have liked this passage: “In all ages they rise up against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands.”

McCain’s statement is also the only one to mention current assaults on Jews. He asks us to reflect on three young Israelis — Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser — who were kidnapped in the summer of 2006 by Hamas and Hezbollah, and “who will celebrate this occasion, once again, in captivity.” McCain recalls his meetings with the families of two of these men in December 2006, reiterates his commitment to seek their swift release, and urges others to do the same.

So if Clinton’s Passover message is liberal, and Obama’s is multicultural, one might call McCain’s Zionist. There’s a clear choice of worldviews here — and not just for Jews, but for all Americans.

I might add that both Democratic campaigns missed an opportunity last week. They seem not to have noticed that the date of the first Seder, April 19, was also the 233rd anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord. So, a few days before Pennsylvanians vote, the candidates could have commemorated not just the Exodus from Egypt but also “the shot heard round the world,” thus identifying themselves all at once with political liberation, religious freedom and — yes! — the right to bear arms.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

April 21st, 2008, 9:21 am


Naji said:

Just to make up for the last article, this one, also from today’s NYT, is much more to my taste.

April 21, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Of Wine, Haste and Religion
I was dining the other night with a colleague, enjoying a respectable Russian River Pinot Noir, when he said with a steely firmness: “We’ll pour our own wine, thank you.”

This declaration of independence was prompted by that quintessential New York restaurant phenomenon: a server reducing a bottle of wine to a seven-minute, four-glass experience through overfilling and topping-up of a fanaticism found rarely outside the Middle East.

I know I’m being elitist here, a terrible thing in this political season, and quite possibly nobody in small-town Pennsylvania gives a damn how wine is poured. But I don’t care and, come to think of it, last time I was in small-town Pennsylvania — at Gettysburg — I drank rather well.

Acceptable cappuccino was also available throughout the commonwealth at Dunkin’ Donuts outlets, which makes one wonder if liberal elitism really begins and ends in Cambridge, Hyde Park and Berkeley these days. I even saw a Volvo somewhere west of Harrisburg.

But that’s another story, albeit important, of seeping American sophistication-cum-Europeanization.

The liberation I felt at my colleague’s I’ll-pour boldness was intoxicating. That’s right, I thought, we need to take our lives back. Drinking at your own pace is the best revenge.

It’s humiliating to pay through the nose and suffer at affronts to good taste. Wine should glide, not glug, from a tilted, not tipped, bottle. The time that goes into the making of it should be reflected in the time it takes to drink.

That’s so obvious that I got to wondering why wine glasses, even at fine New York tables, get filled almost to the brim, and refilled to that unseemly level, every time you’re distracted from Second Amendment-authorized armed guard of your receptacle.

As with many things, there’s a generous view and a mean one.

The kind interpretation would be that, through a gross misunderstanding of the nature of pleasure, servers and the restaurant managers behind them are convinced that solicitude is measured by the regularity with which a glass is topped up.

The uncharitable view would be that, guided by an acute understanding of the nature of commerce, servers are told by restaurant managers to hustle clients through a meal and as many bottles of wine as possible.

After long reflection, of at least 12 seconds, as measured on my elitist Rolex, I’ve decided the second theory is more convincing.

It’s more plausible partly because it tracks with another unhappy New York dining phenomenon at some remove from the languorous pleasures of Manet’s “Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe.” I refer to the vacuuming away of your plate, at about the speed of light, the second you are deemed to have consumed the last mouthful.

Just as you prepare to dab bread into the unctuous leftover sauce from those slide-from-the-bone short ribs, the plate vanishes. The fact that others around the table may still be eating — and to be without a plate is to feel naked in such circumstances — does not trouble the stealthy masters of this Houdini routine.

As usual, in such matters, the French have it right. If you deconstruct the leftover, you find something that’s yours, a little messy, even mucky, but yours. No wonder there’s pleasure in poking around in it a little. Manet’s revelers are surrounded by their picnic leftovers. Nobody’s whisked them away.

In the same way, that mix of soil, hearth and tradition the French call “terroir” is personal. You poke around in it and discover that some ineffable mix of the land, its particular characteristics, and a unique human bond has found expression in a wine – not a “Cabernet” or a “Pinot” or a “Merlot” but, say, a Chambolle-Musigny Derrière La Grange.

That’s because “derriere la grange” — behind the barn — a small parcel of land produces a Burgundy distinct from another 50 yards away. Discovering this takes time, just as it takes time after bottling — perhaps a decade — for fruit, tannin and acidity to attain their full harmony.

American wine is rushed onto the table, as well as into the glass. Most is drunk five to ten years too early. But, hey, this is a country in a hurry: Google’s founders made a couple of billion dollars overnight last week, an un-French achievement. This is a great nation.

Perhaps it’s so great I should wear an American flag lapel pin. Perhaps it’s so great I should put myself in a duck blind this weekend. Perhaps it’s so great I should join the great U.S. blood sport of anti-intellectualism. Perhaps it’s so great I should go bowling more often. Perhaps it’s so great I should stop praising France and conceal the fact I speak French.

But I don’t want to grow bitter. Maybe I’ll just cling — yes, cling — to my glass and the religion that’s in it.

Blog: http://www.iht.com/passages

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

April 21st, 2008, 9:23 am


T said:

An other side:

Jewish History & Myth
‘The Lion and the Gazelle’
By Uri Avnery Gush Shalom

Most interesting article written by a prominent Israeli peace activist, journalist and former member of the Israeli Knesset. He discusses the role of myth and the bible and how it relates to Jewish and Israeli history.

–Ed Corrigan


TONIGHT THE JEWS all over the world will celebrate the Seder, the unique ceremony that unites Jews everywhere in the defining Jewish myth: the Exodus from Egypt.

Every year I marvel again at the genius of this ceremony. It unites the whole family, and everyone – from the venerable grandfather to the smallest child – has a role in it. It engages all the senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching. The simplistic text of the Haggadah, the book which is read aloud, the symbolic food, the four glasses of wine, the singing together, the exact repetition of every part every year – all these imprint on the consciousness of a child from the earliest age an ineradicable memory that they will carry with them to the grave, be they religious or not. They will never forget the security and warmth of the large family around the Seder table, and even in old age they will recall it with nostalgia. A cynic might see it as a perfect example of brain-washing.

Compared to the power of this myth, does it really matter that the Exodus from Egypt never took place? Thousands of Egyptian documents deciphered in recent years leave no room for doubt: the exodus of masses of people, as described in the Bible, or anything remotely like it, just never happened. These documents, which cover in the finest detail every period and every part of Canaan during this epoch prove beyond any doubt that there was no “Conquest of Canaan” and no kingdom of David and Solomon. For a hundred years, Zionist archeologists have devoted tireless efforts to finding even a single piece of evidence to support the Biblical narrative, all to no avail.

But this is quite unimportant. In the competition between “objective” history and myth, the myth that suits our needs will always win, and win big. It is not important what was, the important thing is what fires our imagination. That is what guides our steps to this day.

THE BIBLICAL narrative connects up with documented history only around the year 853 BC, when ten thousand soldiers and 2000 battle chariots of Ahab, King of Israel, took part in a grand coalition of the kingdoms of Syria and Palestine against Assyria. The battle, which was documented by the Assyrians, was fought at Qarqar in Syria. The Assyrian army was delayed, if not defeated.

(A personal note: I am not a historian, but for many years I have reflected on our history and tried to draw some logical conclusions, which are outlined here. Most of them are supported by the emerging consensus of independent scholars around the world.)

The kingdoms of Israel and Judea, which occupied a part of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, were no different from the other kingdoms of the region. Even according to the Bible itself, the people sacrificed to various pagan deities “on every high hill and under every green tree”. (1 Kings 14:23).

Jerusalem was a tiny market town, much too small and much too poor for any of the things described in the Bible to have taken place there at the time. In the books of the Bible that deal with that period, the appellation “Jew” (Yehudi in Hebrew) hardly appears at all, and where it does, it clearly refers simply to an inhabitant of Judea, the area around Jerusalem. When an Assyrian general was asked “talk not with us in the Jewish language” (2 Kings 18:26), what was meant was the local Judean dialect of Hebrew.

The “Jewish” revolution took place in the Babylonian exile (587-539 BC). After the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, members of the Judean elite were exiled to Babylon, where they came into contact with the important cultural streams of the time. The result was one of the great creations of mankind: the Jewish religion.

After some fifty years, some of the exiles returned to Palestine. They brought with them the name “Jews”, the appellation of a religious-ideological-political movement, much like the “Zionists” of our time. Therefore, one can speak of “Judaism” and “Jews” – in the sense accepted now – only from then on. During the following 500 years, the Jewish monotheistic religion gradually crystallized. Also at this time, the most outstanding literary creation of all times, the Hebrew Bible, was composed. The writers of the Bible did not intend to write “history”, in the sense understood today, but rather a religious, edifying and instructive text.

TO UNDERSTAND the birth and development of Judaism, one must consider two important facts:

(a) Right from the beginning, when the “Jews” came back from Babylon, the Jewish community in this country was a minority among the Jews as a whole. Throughout the period of the “Second Temple”, the majority of Jews lived abroad, in the areas known today as Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and so on.

The Jews of that period were not a “nation” – the very idea did not yet exist. The Jews of Palestine did not participate in the rebellions of the Jews in Libya and Cyprus against the Romans, and the Jews abroad took no part in the Great Revolt of the Jews in this country. The Maccabees were not national but religious fighters, rather like the Taliban in our days, and killed many more “Hellenized” Jews than enemy soldiers.

(b) This Jewish Diaspora was not a unique phenomenon. On the contrary, at that time it was the norm. Notions like “nation” belong to the modern world. During the period of the “Second Temple” and later on, the dominant social-political pattern was a religious-political community enjoying self-government and not attached to any specific territory. A Jew in Alexandria could marry a Jewess in Damascus, but not the Christian woman across the street. She, on her part, could marry a Christian man in Rome, but not her Hellenist neighbor. The Jewish Diaspora was only one of many such communities.

This social pattern was preserved in the Byzantine Empire, was later taken over by the Ottoman Empire and can still be detected in Israeli law. Today, a Muslim Israeli cannot marry a Jewish Israeli, a Druze cannot marry a Christian (at least not in Israel itself). The Druze, by the way, are a surviving example of such a Diaspora.

The Jews were unique only in one respect: after the European peoples gradually moved on to new forms of organization, and in the end turned themselves into nations, the Jews remained what they were – a communal-religious Diaspora.

THE PUZZLE that is occupying the historians is: how did a tiny community of Babylonian exiles turn into a worldwide Diaspora of millions? There is only one convincing answer to that: conversion.

The modern Jewish myth has it that almost all the Jews are descendents of the Jewish community that lived in Palestine 2000 years ago and was driven out by the Romans in the year 70 AD. That is, of course, baseless. The “Expulsion from the Country” is a religious myth: God was angry with the Jews because of their sins and exiled them from His country. But the Romans were not in the habit of moving populations, and there is clear evidence that a great part of the Jewish population in the country remained here after the Zealots’ Revolt and after the Bar-Kochba uprising, and that most Jews lived outside the country long before that.

At the time of the Second Temple and later, Judaism was a proselytizing religion /par excellence/. During the first centuries AD it fiercely competed with Christianity. While the slaves and other downtrodden people in the Roman Empire were more attracted to the Christian religion, with its moving human story, the upper classes tended towards Judaism. Throughout the Empire, large numbers adopted the Jewish religion.

Especially puzzling is the origin of “Ashkenazi” Jewry. At the end of the first millennium there appeared in Europe – apparently out of nowhere – a very large Jewish population, the existence of which was not documented before. Where did they come from?

There are several theories about that. The conventional one holds that the Jews wandered from the Mediterranean area to the North, settled in the Rhein valley and fled from the pogroms there to Poland, at the time the most liberal country in Europe. From there they dispersed into Russia and Ukraine, taking with them a German dialect that became Yiddish. The Tel Aviv University scholar Paul Wexler asserts, on the other hand, that Yiddish was originally not a German but a Slavic language. A large part of Ashkenazi Jewry, according to this theory, are descendents of the Sorbs, a Slavic people that lived in Eastern Germany and was forced to abandon its ancient pagan creed. Many of them preferred to become Jews, rather than Christians.

In a recent book with the provocative title “When and How the Jewish People was Invented”, the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand argues – like Arthur Koestler and others before him – that most of the Ashkenazi Jews are really descended from the Khazars, a Turkic people that created a large kingdom in what is now South Russia more than a thousand years ago. The Khazar king converted to Judaism, and according to this theory the Jews of Eastern Europe are mostly the descendants of Khazar converts. Sand also believes that most Sephardi Jews are descendents of Arab and Berber tribes in North Africa that had converted to Judaism instead of becoming Muslims, and had joined in the Muslim conquest of Spain.

When Jewry stopped proselytizing, the Jews became a closed, ethnic-religious community (as the Talmud says: “Converts are hard for Israel like a skin disease”).

But the historical truth, whatever it is, is not so important. Myth is stronger than truth, and it says that the Jews were expelled from this land. This is an essential layer in modern Jewish consciousness, and no academic research can shake it.

IN THE LAST 300 years, Europe turned “national”. The modern nation replaced earlier social patterns, such as the city state, feudal society and the dynastic empire. The national idea carried all before it, including history. Each of these new nations shaped an “imagined history” for itself. In other words, every nation rearranged ancient myths and historical facts in order to shape a “national history” which proclaims its importance and serves as a unifying glue.

The Jewish Diaspora, which – as mentioned before – was “normal” 2000 years ago, became “abnormal” and exceptional. This intensified the Jew-hatred that was anyhow rampant in Christian Europe. Since all the national movements in Europe were – more or less – anti-Semitic, many Jews felt that they were left “outside”, that they had no place in the new Europe. Some of them decided that the Jews must conform to the new /Zeitgeist/ and turn the Jewish community into a Jewish “nation”.

For that purpose, it was necessary to reshape and reinvent Jewish history and turn it from the annals of a religious-ethnic Diaspora into the epic story of a “nation”. The job was undertaken by a man who can be considered the godfather of the Zionist idea: Heinrich Graetz, a German Jew who was influenced by German nationalism and created a “national” Jewish history. His ideas have shaped Jewish consciousness to this day.

Graetz accepted the Bible as if it were a history book, collected all the myths and created a complete and continuous historical narrative: the period of the Fathers, the Exodus from Egypt, the Conquest of Canaan, the “First Temple”, the Babylonian Exile, the “Second Temple”, the Destruction of the Temple and the Exile. That is the history that all of us learned in school, the foundation upon which Zionism was built.

ZIONISM REPRESENTED a revolution in many fields, but its mental revolution was incomplete. Its ideology turned the Jewish community into a Jewish people, and the Jewish people into a Jewish nation – but never clearly defined the differences. In order to win over the religiously inclined Jewish masses in Eastern Europe, it made a compromise with religion and mixed all terms into a one big cocktail – the religion is also a nation, the nation is also a religion, and later asserted that Israel is a “Jewish state” that belongs to its (Jewish?) citizens but also to the “Jewish people” throughout the world. Official Israeli doctrine has it that Israel is the “Jewish nation state”, but Israeli law narrowly defines a “Jew” as only a person who belongs to the Jewish religion.

Herzl and his successors were not courageous enough to do what Mustafa Kemal Ataturk did when he founded modern Turkey: he fixed a clear and sharp border between the Turkish nation and Islamic religion and imposed a complete separation between the two. With us, everything remained one big salad. This has many implications in real life.

For example: if Israel is the state of the “Jewish people”, as one of our laws says – what is there to stop an Israeli Jew from joining the Jewish community in California or Australia? Small wonder that there is almost no leader in Israel whose children have not emigrated.

WHY IS IT so important to differentiate between the Israeli nation and the Jewish Diaspora? One of the reasons is that a nation has a different attitude to itself and towards others than a religious-ethnic Diaspora.

Similarly: different animals have different ways of reacting to danger. A gazelle flees when it senses danger, and nature has equipped it with the necessary instincts and physical capabilities. A lion, on the other side, sticks to its territory and defends it against intruders. Both methods are successful, otherwise there would be no gazelles or no lions in the world.

The Jewish Diaspora developed an efficient response that was well suited to its situation: when Jews sensed danger, they fled and dispersed. That’s why the Jewish Diaspora managed to survive innumerable persecutions, and even the Holocaust itself. When the Zionists decided to become a nation – and indeed did create a real nation in this country – they adopted the national response: to defend themselves and attack the sources of danger. One cannot, therefore, be a Diaspora and a nation, a gazelle and a lion, at the same time.

If we, the Israelis, want to consolidate our nation, we have to free ourselves from the myths that belong to another form of existence and re-define our national history. The story about the exodus from Egypt is good as a myth and an allegory – it celebrates the value of freedom – but we must recognize the difference between myth and history, between religion and nation, between a Diaspora and a state, in order to find our place in the region in which we live and develop a normal relationship with the neighboring peoples.

April 21st, 2008, 9:30 am


Naji said:

One often wishes that the NYT had as much courage as Ha’aretz in what it publishes…! If it only published, on its second page, say, a collection of some of the main stories that Ha’aretz carried the previous day, much would be changed…!

Here is of headlines, copied at a random moment. At least Carter recognizes that the correct approach is to talk to Hamas, before even talking to the Syrians…! Israelis know this, but not their American supporters…!

Carter: Hamas willing to accept Israel’s right to ‘live in peace’
Ex-U.S. president says Hamas open to vote on peace deal initiated by Abbas, ready to release letter from Shalit. 12:57
Tags: Khaled Meshal, Israel, Hamas

Two Palestinians killed in IAF strikes on Gaza Strip
Air Force attacks Beit Hanoun, Rafah; 3 Qassams hit Negev, one exploding in field near regional council chair. 10:39
Tags: Gaza, Palestinians, IAF

Jewish ex-aide to Bill Clinton accuses U.S. of pro-Israel bias
Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official, says U.S. acted as ‘Israel’s lawyer’ in peace talks. 12:26
Tags: U.S., Aaron David Miller

Analysis / Talks with Hamas; What Carter can do for Israel
Hamas is becoming a strategic player among Arab countries, and is influencing Israel-Egypt ties. 12:04
Tags: Israel, Hamas

Analysis / Keeping Gaza quiet until Israel’s Independence Day
Hamas’ failed attack at Kerem Shalom crossing this weekend shows group ready to risk a lot to lift siege. 10:46
Tags: Israel, Hamas, IDF

Israeli Arab students take to the fields to learn green activism
Environmentalists in sector say their activism is based on Palestinian tradition of respect for nature. 05:27
Tags: Israel, Environment

April 21st, 2008, 9:48 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Would you please take Shai’s advice and ban me for a week? I have so much work this week (science projects, spelling tests, math quizzes, etc.) that the last thing I need is to be clowning around on Syria Comment.


April 21st, 2008, 12:43 pm


MSK said:

Dear Shai,

A while ago you asked about Hamas’ goals. I think today’s article in Ha’aretz pretty much shows them (& the headline is misleading):

Carter: Hamas willing to accept Israel’s right to ‘live in peace’



Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Monday that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to “live in peace” within 1967 borders. He also said the Islamist group would willing to accept a peace deal initiated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas if it were favored in a national referendum.

“There’s no doubt that both the Arab world and the Palestinians, including Hamas, will accept Israel’s right to live in peace within the 1967 borders.”

His comments come after he met after he met last week with the top Hamas leaders, including the group’s exiled political chief Khaled Meshal, in Syria.


A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip also referred to a series of preconditions raised by the Islamist group for assenting to a deal with Israel.

Sami Abu Zuhri said Palestinian refugees living in exile must be included in the voting – a condition that could complicate approval of a deal.

Abu Zuhri also noted that Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel, would regard any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War, as “transitional”.

Speaking later to reporters, Carter said Hamas leaders whom he met “didn’t say anything about transitional”.

Unlike Abbas, who sought a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel, Abu Zuhri said Hamas’s outstanding position not to recognize Israel’s right to exist remained unchanged despite of its acceptence of a state in 1967 borders.


Makes one wonder: Which one is it? Essentially, you have here two different factions within Hamas: Khalid Mash’al, who is technically the organization’s political head and who is more conciliatory, even willing to accept Israel within the pre-67 borders, and the Gaza faction, which doesn’t.

One could almost say that Mash’al has become the Abu Mazen of Hamas – he is conciliatory & technically the boss, but what he says matters less and less for Hamas inside Palestine. As long as Zahar & Abu Zuhri control the movement on the ground, any chats with Mash’al won’t provide results.

And just like others before him, Carter is falling into the “talk to the chief” trap. If you really want to talk to Hamas, you have to talk to the ones on the ground. (And yes, I know that Carter wanted to travel to Gaza & was prevented by the Israelis.) Maybe it’d be better if he didn’t rush into making grand statements & first have his people check on how solid of a ground they stand.


April 21st, 2008, 12:55 pm


Observer said:

If war is on the Israeli agenda, it is because they see that the region will be shared between Iran and the US. What role Israel has to play in this scenario is not entirely clear. As I argued before, the only way that the US can have a stable ME, especially since the people of the ME receive the highest percentage of subsidies for food than any other region in the world (think Egyptian riots and food prices at 150% increase in Lebanon already) is to allow for Iran to stabilize Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon. The Iranians have the US by the balls now, but still the US can be quite nasty and will make anyone pay a heavy price.
Here is some useful reading instead of the fruit cake comments that were really entertaining

April 21st, 2008, 3:12 pm


T said:

Will CAMERA.org, a close cousin of MEMRI, be used vis a vis the Iraq War too? Winograd? etc?

EI exclusive: a pro-Israel group’s plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 21 April 2008


April 21st, 2008, 3:38 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Start your own MEMRI and Camera. Why the complaining and no action? I mean, it is clear what you have to do, yet you do nothing, just complain. Start an organization to report on Israel from your point of view. Oh I forgot, Ha’aretz does a super job already. But give it a shot anyway.

Start an organization to monitor pro-Israel activity on campuses. But stop complaining already. There is a level playing field, it is clear what needs to be done but you won’t do it. Raise money from Wizart and Alex and go for it.

April 21st, 2008, 4:11 pm


Akbar Palace said:

From LGF:

Jimmy Carter is not only a terrorist sympathizer and an Israel hater—he’s also awesomely, mind-bogglingly stupid: Hamas open to peace deal with Palestinian backing.

Then, the update we’ve all predicted (except for Jimmah and his friends)…

Hamas leader says militant group won’t recognize Israel.


April 21st, 2008, 4:21 pm


T said:


Actually- there is not a level playing field. That is the problem. In the USA, a foreign government can get MY tax dollars (for agitprop like MEMRI etc) before I can get the same as a tax-paying American citizen. Same goes for dual-national “citizens” who put another country before the USA-no its not a level playing field.

Why don’t you all turn down our tax dollars? Start with the latest 30 billion. If not- then those footing the bill-the REAL US citizens- will continue to complain and act (which we are doing already, and in expanding numbers). We’ve paid for the privilege.

April 21st, 2008, 5:03 pm


Majhool said:

From Syria_news

قال رئيس مجلس الوزراء محمد ناجي عطري الاثنين إن الارتقاء بالأداء الاقتصادي في سورية يقتضي “الارتقاء بمستويات التأهيل والتدريب والتطوير الإداري والقضائي والتشريعي ومستوى الخدمات الاجتماعية للحد من الفقر والاهتمام بأوضاع المناطق الأقل نموا

“العمل المؤسساتي هو السبيل لتحقيق الطموحات في مشاريع وبرامج تنموية تتضمنها توجهات الخطة الخمسية العاشرة التي استمدت منطلقاتها الأساسية من مقررات المؤتمر القطري العاشر للحزب”.

Again, no mention for the root cause of the problem which happens to be that the Baath/Mukhabarat appoints everyone in public administration from the janitor to general managers.

April 21st, 2008, 5:03 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

All the money Israel gets is provided by Congress. The US is a level playing field. If you don’t like what you congressman votes for, write him a letter. If you don’t like your government, change it. Organize your fellow Americans and do it. Why are you complaining to me? If you can’t convince your fellow Americans, than either give up or relocate to some other country.

The US is a level playing field. Losers in the market place of ideas just like to find excuses. You are convincing few people because you don’t make sense, not because the game is rigged against you.

April 21st, 2008, 5:18 pm


T said:

We’re working on it pal, changes are coming.

April 21st, 2008, 5:47 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Good luck to you. I am happy to hear that you are doing something instead of just complaining. Its a level playing field and the best ideas will win.

April 21st, 2008, 5:52 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

This cancer patient really appreciates the clowning and parodying and versifying around here. Keep it up and this gang will be worthy of a real Arab sahra, with poetry competitions, bawdy verses, political points made through metered couplets, arak, sheesha, and lots of back-slapping. And don’t forget the bizr and fistook. You may have ikadinia, too – it’s ripening here in California this week and I’m happy to share the harvest.

Meanwhile I am indeed laughing … and choosing to focus on Joshua’s bet, which is my own – that war is just too dumb an option and the US and Israel can’t afford to choose it yet again.

April 21st, 2008, 6:02 pm


idaf said:

This is why the EU has more credibility in this region. They noticed that genuine reforms are taking place in Syria and immediately jumped to push this forward. Compare this to the US style of doing things: pressures, sanctions, threats which lead to more radicalization, tensions and possible conflicts. And people wonder why France is more popular in the Arab world compared to the US!

These 2 “schools of thoughts” could be compared to Shai and AIG’s way of addressing issues regarding Syria on this blog. It’s a no brainer that Shai’s (and the EU’s) way has more chances of succeeding…

Social Reform Efforts in Syria: The European Commission (EC) has granted Syria € 30 million (US$ 47 million) in support of social reform efforts. This is part of the EC’s National Indicative Program for the 2007-2010 period.

Supporting Political and Administrative Reform in Syria: The European Commission (EC) has provided € 35 million (US$ 55 million) in support of political and administrative reforms in Syria, as part of the National Indicative Program budget over the 2007-2010 period.

Strengthening Economic Reform in Syria: As part of the National Indicative Program for 2007-2010, the European Commission (EC) has earmarked € 60 million (US$ 95 million) to strengthen economic reform efforts in Syria.

April 21st, 2008, 6:19 pm


Shai said:


Now I’m even less optimistic… If Khaled Mashaal no longer represent Hamas, or the Palestinians in Gaza, then we’ve now got 3 different Palestinian leaders, and another couple groups of Palestinian Israelis. So who do we talk to? And who do we sign an agreement with? Do we sign one treaty with Abu Mazen, and hand over the West Bank to Fatah? And then sign a different treaty with Hanniyeh, and hand all control to Hamas? And then sign a third treaty with Mashaal, and reach an agreement with a Hamas-in-Diaspora? This is not looking good my friend… What do you suggest Israel do right now? Unilateral withdrawal was proven to be a mistake, given the cases of Lebanon and Gaza. So what do we do now?

April 21st, 2008, 6:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So why don’t you pre-empt the US and install a real democracy in some Arab country? Then the US will have no reason to attack it. I would begin with Syria.

April 21st, 2008, 6:50 pm


Shai said:


You haven’t considered the possibility that I have BOTH. I may have very little understanding AND be hoping to continue to deceive the gullible…

But seriously, besides verbal-spraying anything and anyone that moves, why are you here?

April 21st, 2008, 7:08 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Shai, AIG, with respect to Bondo boy, just follow this time-worn solution:

*smile* *wave* *ignore*

Everybody is happier that way.

April 21st, 2008, 7:47 pm


Shai said:


Well, I wish your posts were informative. But it does seem that you’re not terribly interested in discussing anything and, instead, just want to unleash deeply-seeded hatred towards Jews. I haven’t seen one comment you made (not even one) which doesn’t, in some fashion, attribute all evil in the Middle East to Jews and/or “what is termed ‘Israel’…”

If my “anguished posts” are a reason you like being here, then it is my true pleasure to provide you with these. Enjoy them as much as you can… 😉

QN, I know, I know… you’re right. Ok, maybe you shouldn’t be banned for a week… (Alex, I take it back… only Enlightened).

April 21st, 2008, 7:54 pm


wizart said:

Bondo & Shai are like the good cops of any bad conflict. They CAN still bond and drink tea after making peace over the Golan! Bondo has sense of humor like Al Bundy while Shai is more like Al Capone (slick, smooth talking & dangerous!)

April 21st, 2008, 8:17 pm


Shai said:

Wizart always hits it right on the nail (ouch).

April 21st, 2008, 8:23 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Blow by blow
The opposition loses its momentum
Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Staff , April 21, 2008

Member of Parliament Michel Murr’s break with the Change and Reform bloc some weeks ago certainly ruffled Christian feathers in the opposition. As for the Shia in the opposition, there seem to be very tangible divisions emerging, too, between Amal Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who recently returned from a regional tour to renew calls for national dialogue, and Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who has recently been altogether more concerned with the Israel-Lebanese border.

With the glue holding these disparate groups together clearly weakening, the March 14 coalition has rather effectively been able to employ a divide and conquer strategy, targeting one constituent element of this Change and Reform, Amal, Hezbollah alliance after another.

Aoun’s blow

Murr’s split with the Change and Reform bloc was a major turning point. The MP carries some significant political clout in his Metn home, and his influence is sure to be sought by both sides of the political spectrum in future elections or Christian power plays. Upon his departure from the bloc, he called for the immediate election of Amy Commander General Michel Suleiman as president without any preconditions. Doing so clearly distanced him from the rest of the opposition, which has been adamant about electing Sleiman only after a cabinet has been decided upon and an electoral law for 2009 chosen.

And while it might be too early to fully evaluate the consequences of Murr’s movement, it is undeniable that this is one indication of a wider Christian split. Opposition Christian leader General Michel Aoun has every reason to worry that his power base is crumbling. The Metn by-elections of last year were just a hint of splits – like this one – to come. Had Murr left Aoun at that point, as many then-hoped, the victory surely would have gone to March 14, Kataeb candidate Amin Gemayel rather than Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) candidate Camille Khoury.

“I have failed to convince the bloc’s MPs of the need to elect a president. This is why I have decided to create public pressure in this regard,” Murr told NBN Television on Thursday. He also expressed his regret for former President Amin Gemayel’s defeat in the 2007 Metn by-elections. “I voted for Camille Khoury, but my conscience was telling me, ‘You don’t have the right to elect anyone in Pierre Amin Gemayel’s place.’”

Aoun today is bogged down on a number of fronts. Another is the recent postponement of FPM internal elections. Although official FPM statements cited logistical and administrative reasons for the delay, many insiders have privately confirmed to NOW Lebanon that the postponement is directly related to the growing conflict between two increasingly divergent groups within the movement: Aoun’s inner circle and the so-called “FPM opposition.”

Murr must have read that the tide is turning in the favor of March 14, or at least against the opposition. Today, he is actively opening new communication channels with the Kataeb. Party official Selim Sayegh confirmed on Thursday that Gemayel and Murr discussed the latest developments in the presidential elections by phone.

On the 8th level

Likewise, the other two key parties of the opposition – Hezbollah and Amal – are suffering from their own setbacks. In the aftermath of Hezbollah operative Imad Mughnieh’s February assassination, the armed party has promised the Lebanese and the world that they plan to retaliate against Israel, the surmised perpetrator of the hit. Despite the ongoing, internal presidential crisis, Hezbollah has put resolving domestic affairs on hold once more.

Speaking to NOW Lebanon, March 14 General Secretary Fares Soueid said that Mughnieh was Hezbollah’s spine, just as Hezbollah remains the opposition’s spine. “In this sense, Hezbollah and eventually the opposition has taken a very strong blow with his assassination,” he argued.

According to Soueid, Hezbollah has now taken upon itself the impossible task of eliminating Israel through open war. “They are trying to compensate for this impossibility with internal issues. Berri, meanwhile, is trying hard to distance himself from Hezbollah’s hegemony, but he is incapable of changing anything,” he added.

The Syrian effect

There have been reports on new political moves in Syria, too. In an interview with As-Safir, former Prime Minister Salim Hoss said he had met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Wednesday. Hoss conveyed Assad’s willingness to delineate official borders between Syria and Lebanon and to begin diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Two days later, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported a possible visit by the Syrian president to Riyadh, a move seen as an attempt to restore bruised Saudi-Syrian relations. The paper also revealed that there have been a number of visits by high ranking Saudi officials to Syria.

And, despite Assad’s statements denying any communication between Damascus and Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday that Damascus and Tel Aviv have been secretly exchanging letters in an attempt to reach a clarification on a peace agreement between the two countries.

Are things finally moving in the right direction for Lebanon? That remains unclear. What is quite apparent, though, is that the opposition realizes that it’s in a serious bind. To obscure their failure to make any positive contributions to resolving the Lebanese crisis, the big three of the opposition have therefore set their sights on distraction. And so, Aoun goes looking unsuccessfully for mass graves and also revives the specter of Palestinian settlement, and Nasrallah warns the Israelis that he is bringing war to their own backyard. It’s time for these men’s followers to ask themselves if this is really where their parties’ priorities should lie.

April 21st, 2008, 8:27 pm


Friend in America said:

The fruit is the photos are cactus fruits. The loquat grows on a low bush type tree. It originated in SE China, has been cultivated in Japan for over 1,000 years (the Japanese stew it in a sweet sauce and serve it as a desert) and it grows well in the entire Palestine/levant area. It is not red, but yellow or orange.

April 21st, 2008, 8:36 pm


idaf said:

Qifa Nabki,

On a previous post, you asked me the following, responding to an argument I made:

QN said :
“On a previous post, you responded to one of my comments about Bashar, saying that Syria had now changed its approach in Lebanon, going the secular route, unlike the Saudis, Hariris, and other Lebanese who are still stuck in their sectarian ways.

I’d like to understand your argument, because it’s unconvincing as stated. I’ll accept that the Lebanese zu`amaa’ are still desperate to hold on to power, and this includes the old guard like Jumblatt and the arrivistes like Saad al-Hariri. However, I personally don’t see how the opposition is behaving any differently, or how Syria is acting in a way that could be called “secular” or “non-sectarian”.

The current standoff began when Hizbullah left the government, and used this move to claim that the government was therefore illegitimate. Why illegitimate? Because it violated Ta’if and the Constitution. In other words, HA explicitly used a sectarian strategy to attempt to bring down a democratically elected government. The subsequent crises have all stemmed from this decision. Hizbullah’s departure from the government, however, had nothing to do with the rights of their constituents (the Shi`a) and everything to do with providing cover for the Syrian regime by preventing the election of a pro-March 14 president.

All of this was achieved with Syria’s blessing. So, how is it non-sectarian, in your view?”

Idaf answers:

I did not say that HA is not sectarian. Of course it is. I mentioned in my comment that Syria -while tending to support more secular Lebanese politicians since Bashar came to power- it still supports some sectarian allies for regional reasons (I meant HA).

This said, HA did not leave the government because it “violated the Tai’f and the constitution”. HA ministers resigned to use the Tai’f (which the Zu’ama in Lebanon refer to it as a sacred text) as an excuse to give them a taste of their own medicine. HA’s message was.. “Oh Jumblat and co. you cling with your teeth to this Ta’if “constitution” (that does not give us, as shi’a enough rights), then why don’t you dissolve the government as we the Shi’a will not be represented in the government for the first time since it was made up in Saudi”. Of course, Jumblat and co. refused to taste the bitter medicine.

However, the real reason behind the opposition’s resignation from the government was the perceived “stab in the back” that the M14 directed at HA during the war with Israel in 2006. Publically, this was the view. All interviews with Nasrallah’s after the war were filled with various versions of the following question: “If this government stabbed you in the back during the war, then why are you still in it?”.

Your continued claim that HA is acting just to satisfy the Syrian regime is becoming a bit repetitive. I thought we agreed before that the opposition does not act by remote control from Damascus. It has its own objectives that might -or might not- coincide with Syria’s.

More importantly, after the war, HA felt obliged to give Aoun full and complete support for the presidency after the national courageous stance that Aoun took during the war, that effectively might have prevented a sectarian civil war in Lebanon (if Aoun would have followed the same sectarian inflammatory language that Jumblat, Geagea and Hariri against the Shi’aa while they are under Israeli fire).

Syria on the other hand, since day one, did not want to see Aoun as a president. Michael Suleiman was Syria’s favorite secular strong man for the job (and this is why M14 did not want him). Aoun is no friend of Syria, but it could not say no to HA’s push for him as a president.

Seeing this, M14 immedietly acted Machiavellianly and started to support General Sleiman (who they were vehemently against weeks ago). Jumblat, Geagea and co. knew for sure that Aoun as a president would mean among many things, changes of the sectarian system and a major anti-corruption drive. They bit on their teeth and were forced to accept Sleiman, just to avoid Aoun.

This was actually, Syria’s preferred scenario.. seeing Sleiman back not Aoun. Things are way too complicated than the boring media generalization of pro-Syria anti-Syria divide among Lebanese fractions. I hope you agree.

Btw, the Saudi Al-Arabiya tonight had a 2 hours special on “Why Aoun lost his popularity in Lebanon?” (yes that assertive!). They had 3 guests. To keep with its reputation of media objectivity, Al-Arabiya made sure that ALL of them are vehemently anti-Aoun Christians, repeating the same 3 sentences for 2 hours. It was as interesting as watching a football match with only one team playing.

April 21st, 2008, 8:38 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Even Carter thinks Syria needs to flip for peace:
‘While Mr. Assad has an alliance with Iran, Mr. Carter believes that the relationship is as an alternative to one with the United States and the West, rather than his first choice. He said he expected Mr. Assad would be willing to separate from that alliance because he wants full peace with Israel.

“He’s willing to put his eggs in that basket of peace with Israel, no matter what Iran thinks,” Mr. Carter said in the interview of Mr. Assad.’

The passage is at the very end of this article:

I hope it is clear to all by now that without a flip there will not be peace and therefore since there will not be a flip, there will not be peace.

April 21st, 2008, 9:14 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

Loquats are trees in California and Lebanon, not low bushes.

April 21st, 2008, 9:47 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Hold on, hold on, you misunderstood me. I didn’t say that HA left the government because it violated Ta’if. Rather, it left for other reasons (and we can agree or disagree about them), and THEN CLAIMED that the government was illegitimate because it violated Ta’if (because there were no Shi`a in it). As you said, it was using the same “medicine” against Jumblatt and co., but it didn’t work.

The reason it didn’t work, in my opinion, was because Hizbullah’s reason for leaving had nothing to do with the rights of the Shi`a. Hizbullah has NEVER claimed that their reasons for leaving the government were related to the problems in the Ta’if accord. You and I both agree that the Ta’if system needs to be changed. But this was not the wheel that Hizbullah wanted to re-invent.

As you correctly state, Hizbullah’s departure had more to do with their realization that they were “stabbed in the back” during the 2006 war. That’s one very biased way of expressing the situation. Somebody else might argue that a very large section of the Lebanese population (NOT JUST Walid Jumblatt) was completely opposed to Hizbullah’s action in the first place, and completely opposed to being dragged into a war. Now, we can agree that Israel’s response was completely out of proportion, cruel and inhumane, etc. and I have spent hours debating AIG on this issue. However, just because Israel acted inhumanely doesn’t mean that Hizbullah’s actions were exonerated, in my mind, or in the minds of millions of Lebanese. Idaf, many many many people in Lebanon are sick and tired of militias, no matter how “noble” they are, and no matter how well-spoken their leaders are. We are sick of being cannon fodder, and we’re sick of being the lions in the fight while everybody else is a mouse. Surely you can understand that.

I believe that Hizbullah left the government because it could read the writing on the wall, namely that after a few months had passed and the memory of the “divine victory” was in the rearview mirror, Hizbullah was going to suffer from the blowback in public opinion, within Lebanon. Under those circumstances, responding by pointing to the corruption in government wasn’t going to cut it. They had to take a stand.

Now, I sympathize with the anti-corruption platform, and even more with the anti-sectarianism platform. I have more respect for Nasrallah, in many ways, than I do for everybody else on the national scene. But this, to me, is not what the struggle in Lebanon is about. It is about, in short, power. Hizbullah stood to lose a great deal from its miscalculation, as did Syria. The paralysis we are witnessing is an attempt to even the odds again by galvanizing the public against the evil, disloyal, corrupt, American-sponsored government. To me, I just don’t buy it. Let’s change the system, by all means. But changing the system requires working from within, not bringing the country to a griding halt and playing a game of brinkmanship.

That said, I have all but lost my patience with most of the M14 leaders.

April 22nd, 2008, 12:16 am


SimoHurtta said:


Well, I wish your posts were informative. But it does seem that you’re not terribly interested in discussing anything and, instead, just want to unleash deeply-seeded hatred towards Jews. I haven’t seen one comment you made (not even one) which doesn’t, in some fashion, attribute all evil in the Middle East to Jews and/or “what is termed ‘Israel’…”

Shai you are to sensitive and demanding – or is it in reality controlling? If Arabs would take all the criticism targeting their religions, culture, democracy achievements, technological level etc. as sensitive as you IGs, the whining would be beyond endurance.

You Shai can’t deny that Israel’s and its client state’s USA actions reflect to the whole Middle Eastern situation and how the region can develop.

Also the criticism targeting Jewish influence in USA is more than justified. It is simply astonishing that and how the US president candidates are forced to “lick the Israeli ass” in all possible instances. Why must Obama to have a Hebrew language blog? Has Obama a Mormon blog or a Russian language blog? Isn’t that simply unheard that a foreign nation and relative small religious / ethnic group has managed to achieve a such influence in a giant super power’s politics. The situation can’t be explained by the “important” Jewish votes, because Jews represent 2 percent of the population. So the reason in elsewhere. Money and media control?

Shai as an Jew and Israeli you must get used to criticism targeting Jews and Israel, so long as Israel behaves as it does and more importantly so long as Israel continues to claim it “represents” world’s Jews. Most probably that criticism by Arabs and us others is only getting worse and more sharp, if the situation escalates further and no real peace efforts from Israel’s states side are shown.

When somebody writes his/hers opinions about Israel, using terms Jews, Israelis or Israel he/she naturally doesn’t claim that 100 % of Jews and Israeli Jews “represent” the “bad thing”. The majority of US citizens nowadays are against Bush’s policy. Still in discussions and articles are used terms Americans and USA to describe the actions of the country. Everybody knows that Americans and USA doesn’t mean in that context every single American person or could be described as deeply-seeded hatred towards Americans.

Put Shai that old anti-Semitism (=stop criticising) card finally aside.

April 22nd, 2008, 12:19 am


Qifa Nabki said:


One more thing (and Nour too, if you’re listening).

I feel like we are all much closer in our reading of events than it often seems, but like most human beings, we tend to draw attention to our differences rather than our common views, so as to set ourselves apart.

Instead of playing this game, let’s try something else. Why don’t we have a discussion about principles, describing the kind of system that we would ideally like to see emerge in Lebanon, and then build up from there.

Once we have reached agreement on principles, we should be able to move to realities, and debate them with a great deal more clarity, honesty, and goodwill.

As it is, we are getting stuck in little squabbles that don’t really mean anything and distract from the principal issues.

To my mind, these issues are:

* Strengthening Lebanon’s state institutions
* Reforming the electoral law
* Dismantling sectarianism via a bicameral legislature, one-man one-vote system, etc.
* Enfranchising the Shi`a, politically
* Disarming Hizbullah and all other militias

What about you?

April 22nd, 2008, 1:30 am


norman said:


The only reason to discuss Lebanon is that you consider Lebanon as part of Syria , This is Syria comment after all isn’t it ?.

April 22nd, 2008, 3:35 am


Majhool said:

حاج عارف: المعونة الاجتماعية تصرف عام 2009 والأسر الأكثر فقرا 11.3%
قالت وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل ديالا حاج عارف إن الوزارة تدرس حاليا مشروع المعونة الاجتماعية التي تستهدف الأسر الأكثر فقرا في سورية وسوف تصرف عام 2009 “عند تلقي إشارة البدء بذلك”.

وكانت الحكومة أقرت في شباط الماضي مشروع قانون لإحداث الصندوق الوطني للمعونة الاجتماعية والذي يستفيد من خدماته المواطنون السوريون وأفراد أسرهم ومن في حكمهم من المقيمين في سورية.

ونقلت صحيفة “الثورة” الرسمية عن الحاج عارف أن نسبة الأسر الأكثر فقرا هي 11.3% من الأسر السورية حسب هيئة تخطيط الدولة.

ويهدف هذا المشروع ,حسب المصادر الحكومية, إلى المساهمة في الحد من الفقر من خلال تقديم إعانات دورية أو طارئة لفئات معينة من المواطنين المستحقين وفق معايير محددة وذلك لرعاية الأفراد والأسر المستهدفة من خلال تقديم الإعانات النقدية أو العينية المتكررة أو الطارئة وفق معايير تضمن الشفافية والمساءلة.

وأوضحت الوزيرة أن أمام الوزارة عدة خيارات لتحديد نطاق استهداف هذه الأسر, وأن تحديد هذا النطاق يقوم على 225 مؤشرا تتم من خلالها عملية اختبار أوضاع الأسر بدقة.

واعتبرت أن “النجاح في تطبيق معادلة الاستهداف لا يعني أنه لن تكون هناك نسب تسرب” بمعنى وجود نسبة من الأسر المستحقة لا تتلقى المعونة , مشيرة إلى أن “ما يحدد مدى صحة التوجه هو أن تكون هذه النسبة في حدود المعقول, ونحن نتوقع أن تكون لدينا بحدود 28 %”.

ورأت أن نسبة التسرب هذه هي نسبة “جيدة مقارنة بنسب التسرب لدى دول طبقت مثل هذا البرنامج, ففي أميركا كان 32 %, وفي تركيا وصل إلى 40 %”.

وأضافت بالقول “من هنا تأتي أهمية توسيع الشريحة (المستهدفة من الأسر) للحد من التسرب, وعندما يبدأ التنفيذ الفعلي للبرنامج, فإن الحكومة ستكون حريصة على تحقيق البرنامج لغاياته

April 22nd, 2008, 3:56 am


Enlightened said:


“Syria is really part of Lebanon” Lebanon is the better part, lets not digress with the issues at hand! (lOL)


I hope that was only the starting point,I might add a few more issues.

Interestingly what system would our brother Syrians (and sisters sorry Zen almost forgot you) like to see emerge on their side of the Lebanon mountains???? (lol)

Bondo: ( And Simmo)

This anti Jewish, anti Israel thing is really really getting tiresome (yawns).


When are the elections scheduled in Israel?

April 22nd, 2008, 4:11 am


Shai said:


Morning. You’ve been following my comments on SC for at least two months now, and you know my views. You know that 9 out of 10 comments I receive are harsh criticism of Israel, of Judaism, of Zionism, of AIPAC, of Jewish-controlled media, of our crimes in the region, you name it. And you know that with the exception of you, Wizart, Joe M. (who after a while found common ground with me), and now Bondo, I don’t tend to pull out the “anti-Jewish” card. I do pull it out, when I feel (subjectively I admit) that the comment has strong racial “odour” to it.

How would you feel if you’d hear a comment about Finns in America that says this (from Bondo): “they steal coupons from sunday papers, distribute ecstasy, cocaine. #### is increased. gun running, auto theft, basic crime syndicate stuff and other good things every society needs to function.”? Would you consider this to be simple criticism of a few Finns Bondo happened to experience in his Florida surrounding? Or a more likely plain hatred of all Finns?

Simo, you know me by now. You know that I’ve never run away from criticism of my nation, my people, my religion, negative influence in the region, puppet-like behavior vis-a-vis the U.S., rejection of certain parts of our history, viewing ourselves as the victim, you name it. And In 9 out of 10 comments I get, I don’t even argue back. I tend to agree with the criticism. You know this. So there’s really no need to continue telling me “Shai as an Jew and Israeli you must get used to criticism targeting Jews and Israel…” But when someone like this Bondo-character show up, and make the kind of comments that he does, you must have an appreciation also for my need to minimal self-respect, and to not take such crap.

April 22nd, 2008, 4:46 am


Shai said:


Elections are not scheduled for another two years. But I have a strong suspicion that the current Kadima-Labor coalition will not last another year in power. The Israeli public (left, right, and center) are sick and tired of them. The two parties are actually considering joining up and forming one, large, left-center-left party. If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if Netanyahu and Likud receive even more votes in the next election. Which, as I’ve suggested on a few occasions here, I’m not sure isn’t a good thing for Israel and the peace process.

April 22nd, 2008, 4:53 am


Shai said:

Dear Bondo,

A wise man on this blog once said to me “Do not argue with a madman – others may not know the difference…” This time, I’m going to follow his advice.

April 22nd, 2008, 4:55 am


Enlightened said:

I know that the Likud have made peace with one Arab state, but to be frank with you, I dont trust the ability of Netanyahu to deliver on peace. Heres why.

After Oslo, he went about trying to systematically destroy the process. Not even trying to hide the contempt for signed, processes prior to his ascencion to power.

Tell me, you are there in Israel, you know the mood on the ground, why is it going to be different this time if he wins?

Can he deliver? I have my doubts and see him as a obstructionist, with a very snide, and contemptible view of Arabs, and in particular the Palestinians. Sorry for the terse language, I am calling it as I see it. I have very similar views of the politicians on our side.

April 22nd, 2008, 5:03 am


Shai said:


You may well be right, I can’t claim to be 100% sure that Bibi’s changed or will change. But I do know this:

1. Barak, despite 7 years of being out of politics, making millions of dollars, having plenty of time for introspection, has not changed one bit. He is the same useless politician we had a decade ago. He treats his subordinates, his colleagues, his party (of which he is the leader), in the same terrible ways he did before. He does not act like a man with a mission. He switches back and forth between wishing for peace, and justifying strangulation of Gaza and maintaining hundreds of road-blocks in the West Bank. He seems today FAR MORE interested in power and in maintaining his volvo and leather seat, than in his people’s future. I’ve lost much respect for the man, who once seemed to champion our cause.

2. Olmert, is a political dinosaur. He knows best how to survive in politics, but not how to lead a nation. I don’t need to say much about him, because we’ve seen on record how he talks to the wrong parties (Abu Mazen), doesn’t talk to the right ones (Syria, Hamas), acts as a puppet of the U.S., approves horrific military operations (Lebanon 2006, Gaza), and brings upon his people no safety, no peace, and no hope. Just to remind ourselves, he was number 34 on Likud’s list before joining Sharon’s Kadima party! His OWN party, where he had spent a good part of 30-40 years of his life, thought he was that worthy of being a leader…

3. Netanyahu, while indeed proving in the past that he is perfectly capable of ruining any chances for peace, also proved the opposite. His rhetoric is not much different from that of Menachem Begin, or Ariel Sharon’s. And, like them, he too did a complete-180 at times. He swore he would never shake the hand of “that terrorist” Arafat. He not only shook it, he kissed the man on numerous occasions. He withdrew the army from several key cities in the West Bank, and gave control back to Arafat. He negotiated with the Syrians, despite their support of HA and Hamas (at that time their alliance with Iran was less highlighted). And why has he done these things, if he is truly against peace? Just to hold his power? Perhaps. But maybe also because he DOES wish to be written down in the history books of Israel (and the world’s?) like Begin, Rabin, and Sharon were. Netanyahu, like most politicians and leaders, tends to suffer from good, healthy, narcissism. If he could, he’d love to have just one day of Bashar-like posters of himself all over our capital… 🙂 He’d also love to get a Nobel peace prize, but more importantly, to be the man who officially ended the Arab-Israeli conflict. He, like his predecessors, knows that this conflict will not end in Israeli military victory, but rather in peace. And I have a feeling, that if he is elected for a second chance, he’ll do his best not to miss it this time around.

Again, I may be wrong. I have no record of omniscience. But I think I’m not too far off in recognizing what Netanyahu’s all about. Course, only the future will tell… In the end, does it really matter if Bibi loves Arabs, or if Assad loves Jews? No, it’s sufficient that both will be pragmatic enough to make peace, for the sake of future generations. I couldn’t give a rat’s-ass what Netanyahu really believes deep down inside. Or, Bashar, for that matter.

April 22nd, 2008, 5:31 am


Enlightened said:

Shai said:

“I couldn’t give a rat’s-ass what Netanyahu really believes deep down inside. Or, Bashar, for that matter.”

My God shai; you do have a bit of Aussie in you!

Ok If he is the only man on your side, that is the best option for peace, then sorry Shai , to use another Australian Term ” We are Stuffed”.

Granted that Netanyahu is narcisstic, I don’t think he has the credibility of a Rabin, Begin or Sharon. Granted Netanyahu has only his good looks, when you compare him with Meir, Dayan, Begin or Gurion or my favorite Shamir (****************), the thing he lacks is the hard military backround which I think is a persistent requirement for trust with the Israeli public.

Of the candidates Olmert is a goose! Barak still thinks he is in the army, and if Netanyahu is the goods then Shai, The Kadima needs to empower Tzipi Livni and fast track her to fight the next election. This should be done now, if peace is a chance, I cannot see it under those three wise monkeys (Olmert, Barak, Netanyahu)

Have to fly talk tomorrow

April 22nd, 2008, 6:05 am


Shai said:


Incase you open your laptop at the airport… Our politicians are indeed quite ugly, and Shamir is also my personal favorite (seems like a furry ewalk from Star Wars). But Bibi doesn’t need the military credibility you speak of. Today, he is by far the most popular politician, far ahead of Barak or Olmert in the polls. The entire Right will vote for him next time, and quite a few on the Center and Left, because of their disappointment with the Kadima-Labor government. This is also why he can deliver (if he chooses to) – because most of Israel will stand behind him. Tzipi Livni, as much as she seems less ewalk-like, and is indeed not tainted by the same corruption and failure that the others are, is simply too inexperienced both as a politician and certainly as a leader, to sit at the helm of the Israeli armada, in this terribly dangerous waters. I’m not even sure she’s so good at representing Israel as a FM (Bibi was far better as a diplomat, by the way). Maybe in another 8 years, she can run. But if she does now, it’ll take only 30 seconds of airtime to portray her vast inexperience. She’ll lose the election, before it even begins.

So… we might indeed be “stuffed”, but aren’t we already? 🙂 No, but seriously, if Bibi wins, you may find yourself sitting in a Tel-Aviv cafe far sooner than you’d ever imagine… in’shalla.

April 22nd, 2008, 6:29 am


Alex said:


I do agree with your first point, that many Israelis are very uncomfortable with criticism, even valid criticism. Their “effective” media watchdogs protected them from criticism until they forgot how to deal with it.

Too bad.

But please, please do not add more negative general comments about Jews in general, even if you don’t actually type the J-word.

This one is not fair:


April 22nd, 2008, 7:07 am


SimoHurtta said:

Shai how on earth could Bibi end the Israeli-Arab conflict considering that the only way to end are the 1967 based borders and establishing the second state? The conflict hardly ends by making peace with Syria and giving back Golan (without its water).

If Palestine is created, there would be the problem of re-settling hundreds of thousands of settler Jews (assuming that they do not want live as a minority in an Islamic sate). The more severe problem is water. The pre 1967 Israel simply can’t cope with its own ground water reserves. The third problem would be what to do with Israeli Arabs.

There is simply no “rational” reason for Bibi or any Israeli politician to make any real moves with Palestine so long USA supports de facto the occupation and slow ethnic cleansing. Only if USA commands in an determined way Israel to create Palestine, a real functioning Palestine, not that Israeli bantustan dream, “Bibi” will act and “Bibi” gets his Nobel Peace price.

So it fair to say the future peace is decided in Washington (as it was done also before), not in Jerusalem or in Israel elections. If USA ends its direct and European countries their more ore less indirect silent support the Israeli PM’s person or party simply doesn’t matter in that peace making.

“Israel” knows perfectly well that everything depends from the USA card. That is the reason why US elections are followed in Israel probably more close than own elections and more importantly why Israeli “supporters” have managed to make Israel as one of the core issues of US politics.

The only way USA will change its Israel policy is the emerging new financial reality. The deeper USA will fall, and it will, in financial difficulties, the less it can avoid the temptation to change its Middle East policy. That development will take time, but the worlds financial might is now fast shifting to those countries with oil reserves and wast trade surpluses. Especially when US and many western financial institutions committed a “suicide” (an “equal” financial meltdown caused in Nordic countries a loss of 10 &% of the GDP).

11:38 Oil sets all time record as single barrel sold in New York for $117.40 (Army Radio)

Mossad analysing:
Report analyzes Muslim anti-Semitism

According to the report, by educating generations of Muslims with a deep animus toward Israel and Jews, this anti-Semitism, actively promulgated by many states in the region, holds back the peace process and normalization efforts between Israel and Muslim countries. It also forms the intellectual justification for an eliminationist political program.

It is also an insight into the perception of the threat within the Israeli intelligence establishment. The ITIC operates under the aegis of the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC), the official commemoration agency for the fallen of Israel’s intelligence services. The IICC is chaired by former Mossad head Efraim Halevy and maintains close contact with Israel’s intelligence community. The ITIC’s reports are widely read among Israeli policymakers.

Well, well. The problem in peace making is not occupation and started wars. The problem is anti-Semitism.

April 22nd, 2008, 8:53 am


Naji said:

A ‘Surge’ for Refugees
April 22, 2008
Op-Ed Contributors

IT is a grave humanitarian crisis: 1.5 million Iraqi refugees living in deplorable and declining conditions in Syria and Jordan.

They are clustered not in camps but in overcrowded urban neighborhoods, crammed into dark, squalid apartments. Many have been traumatized by extreme violence. Their savings are dwindling; many cannot afford to pay for rent, heat and food; few have proper medical care.

After meeting with refugees, leaders in both Syria and Jordan and United Nations experts, we came to the inescapable conclusion that this crisis could endure for years and that much more help is needed now.

There is absolutely no denying that the United States has a special responsibility to help. The sectarian violence these Iraqi refugees have fled is a byproduct of the invasion and its chaotic aftermath — yet America has paradoxically done far less than its traditionally generous response.

But while the United States must lead, the scale of this humanitarian emergency and its uncertain duration require international contributions, including the active participation of European and Gulf Arab states.

The refugees face three alternatives: return, remain or resettle. None is a good option. It is too dangerous to go back, they will become increasingly destitute if they remain where they are, and yet only a few will be resettled in other countries.

The United States and the international community must therefore take three actions to ease the plight of displaced Iraqis until the day comes when they can safely return home.

First, these refugees simply need more aid. We estimate that to serve this population a minimum of $2 billion is needed annually for at least the next two to four years and it is fitting that the United States cover at least half of this cost.

Contributions from the international community have been woefully inadequate. So far this year the United States has given only $208 million in direct humanitarian assistance for displaced Iraqis. The gulf states have given $11 million since last October. And with its significant oil funds, the Iraqi government must do better in assisting its own uprooted citizens: the $25 million it has allocated in this year’s budget is grossly insufficient. Host countries must also allow nongovernmental organizations better access to Iraqi refugees and affected local communities.

Second, because a sizable population of Iraqis will not return home under any circumstances, more refugees must be resettled in more third countries. Unfortunately, many doors have closed or are being closed. Again, the United States must lead, and it is failing: our government has resettled fewer than 5,000 Iraqi refugees since the war began.

This year America should at a minimum meet its target of resettling 12,000 Iraqi refugees and fulfilling its commitment to admit 5,000 Iraqis (and their dependents) who have worked for the United States and are eligible for special immigrant visas.

In the years ahead, the United States can realistically admit at least 30,000 Iraqis annually. European countries — especially Britain, which, like America, bears a particular responsibility — should be taking in larger numbers of vulnerable Iraqis like single women with children and those who worked for the coalition.

Third, it is important to bring attention to the Iraq refugee problem. To this end, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, should organize a high-level conference of regional countries and interested donors.

The conference should examine the plight of Iraqi refugees and pledge concrete help. Because there is also an urgent need for actions that can improve conditions in Iraq and facilitate the safe, voluntary return of many refugees, the conference must include foreign ministers who can grapple with the diplomatic and political aspects of the crisis, not simply the humanitarian ones.

Discussions about Iraq both here and abroad inevitably focus on the surge and on timelines for troop withdrawal. Missing is any realistic assessment of the fate of Iraqi refugees, 1.5 million people who have a crucial role to play in ensuring the long-term stability of the region.

Morton Abramowitz is a former president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. George Rupp is a former president of Columbia. John Whitehead is a former deputy secretary of state. James Wolfensohn is a former president of the World Bank. They are members of the International Rescue Committee’s board.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

April 22nd, 2008, 9:15 am


Akbar Palace said:

Alex agrees with Bondo:

I do agree with your first point, that many Israelis are very uncomfortable with criticism, even valid criticism. Their “effective” media watchdogs protected them from criticism until they forgot how to deal with it.

Alex –

Do you think Arabs are less “uncomfortable with criticism, even valid criticism” than Israelis are?

Bondo said:

europe is also getting flooded as israelis return to their real roots – russia, ukraine, hungary, poland, khazaria.

Can you tell us how many Israelis have returned to russia, ukraine, hungary, poland and khazaria?

I am trying to muster the energy to prove Alex is wrong. You see, despite being “uncomfortable with criticism”, I am willing to debate this seemingly embarrassing fact you claim about Israel with you;)

April 22nd, 2008, 11:10 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Please, let’s hear your additional issues.


Of course, that’s what I meant(!) Which is the same reason that we often discuss Israel, Palestine, Jordan, (northern) Saudi Arabia… it’s all part of Greater Syria.


An additional piece that would fit under the latest News Roundup:

Is the West being overtaken by the rest

by Ian Buruma
The New Yorker

Read it here

April 22nd, 2008, 12:50 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The West will have been overtaken when given an option an immigrant would rather go to China than to the US or Europe. That will not happen any time soon.

April 22nd, 2008, 1:21 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Ian Buruma (and QN) agree.

April 22nd, 2008, 1:34 pm


T said:

Can anyone please post the last Report analyzing “Jewish Anti-Semitism” (Jews’ hatred of the ‘other’, unacknowledged Semites- namely Palestinian Semites and other Arab Semites from non-judaic background).

There isn’t one?

Funny how the word ‘Semite’ has itself been cannibalized by the Colonizers.


Are you Syrian?

April 22nd, 2008, 2:31 pm


Naji said:

Really helpful talk… prepare for another 4 years of Ahmadinejad if this old witch wins the nomination…! Trying to outdo Bush at Bushism, I suppose…! When will the Democrats learn…!? Well, I still have faith in America and I think Obama will be the next prez…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned Tehran on Tuesday that if she were president, the United States could “totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.

On the day of a crucial vote in her nomination battle against fellow Democrat Barack Obama, the New York senator said she wanted to make clear to Tehran what she was prepared to do as president in hopes that this warning would deter any Iranian nuclear attack against the Jewish state.

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel),” Clinton said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them,” she said.

“That’s a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic,” Clinton said.

April 22nd, 2008, 3:02 pm


kingcrane jr said:


Excellent article.

The main reason that Syria cannot go to a multi-party system of “democracy” is that such elections would be very cheap to buy: the KSA klepto-oligarchy could elect anybody, and a vote would only cost them up to $100 as compared to up to $1,000 in Lebanon (500,000 votes in Lebanon would thus only cost $500,000,000 and 5,000,000 votes in Syria would cost the same); this could be one of the “best democracies money could buy” for colonialists and imperialists; in case you have been asleep, there is an empire out there, and it is not Czarist Russia).

As to loquat (EKKI DUNIEH in colloquial Arabic and in the original Turkish name, NEFLE in French), there are areas of Florida where you can find some; my cousins there send me some on occasion; the leaves of the tree have an indirect anti-cholesterol activity: they bind biliary acids necessary for fat absorption in the gut; I knew a Beiruti guy who made an infusion of fresh leaves and drank it like a herbal tea, but it never appealed to me.

The Prickly Pears (SUBBEIR in colloquial Arabic, FIGUES DE BARBARIE in French) of today are not as good as those we had in the past; I wonder if it is the fact that less water is used today in these cultures.

And I always have trouble finding top grade Toot Shami.

April 22nd, 2008, 3:15 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Bondo said:

jews as a power group are the only ones to go to the extremes to deny, to stifle, to try to destroy the messenger absolutely and everywhere to include jews in israel, eg professor toaff, prof finkelstein in america.


No one here is “stifling” you. Alex is happy to post your comments. And no one, as far as I know, has “destroyed the messenger” in your case.

That being said, you still have not asnwered my question:

Can you tell us how many Israelis have returned to russia, ukraine, hungary, poland and khazaria?

Is there any reason why you can’t answer this question. You did assert that europe is also getting flooded as israelis return to their real roots.

April 22nd, 2008, 3:25 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

KingCrane Jr. said:

The Prickly Pears (SUBBEIR in colloquial Arabic, FIGUES DE BARBARIE in French) of today are not as good as those we had in the past; I wonder if it is the fact that less water is used today in these cultures.

KingCrane, don’t discount the possibilty that everything we had in the past was better than what we have today!

In other words, hindsight might not always be 20/20, but when it isn’t, the rose-tinted glasses are readily at hand.

But I’m sure that the more mundane irrigation explanation you offer is close to the mark as well.


April 22nd, 2008, 3:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Bondo presents an article about Holocaust survivor restituiton:

“More than 80,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel are living below the poverty line with very few services offered to them. They need basic medical care, money for glasses and false teeth.”

“the state of the jews? which jews?”

Bondo –

How many Palestinians are living below the poverty line?


April 22nd, 2008, 4:05 pm


Alex said:

bondo said: Edit

sorry our posting israelis and their accomplices are upset re some of my comments.

Dear Bondo,

In ideal cases, everyone here is supposed to discuss the topic(s) of the main post. For this particular post, it would be whatever was featured in the news roundup.

In reality, all of you end up discussing other issues. Some paste articles that he/she would like to share with others. Some make comments about whatever politicians said today about the Middle East…

That’s OK. We can’t force everyone to stick to the topic of the post.

But when you consistently use the comments section to attack Jews, and when AIG consistently use the comments section to insult Syrians (while calling for democracy supposedly) … it becomes impossible to maintain any focused discussion in the comments section.

This blog’s value is mostly in this comments section where all of you are contributing. If there are no Israelis, it will often be one sided… it will be a boring monologue of us supporting each other.

I do not need to hear from you a semi-hidden accusation like “and their accomplices” … I have called Israel the most outlaw state on earth, I have often called Israeli actions “crimes”.

But I want to see Syria and Israel reach a peaceful settlement that specifies the next few steps of settling the more difficult Israeli/Palestinian … there is no other way if we do not want a destructive war in the region. I am actually hoping that Israel will change when it makes peace (meaningful peace) with Syria and Lebanon … then they will know what they are missing living in their current fortress protected by the mighty IDF, and protected from criticism by the “successful” yet stupid AIPAC and camera.org.

To conclude. This is not the best forum for consistent attacks on Syrians (AIG) or Jews (you). You wouldn’t like people to do the same to Italian Americans I’m sure.

But your comments, critical of any deplorable actions from Israel and its friends in Washington, are welcome, especially if they are more relevant to the topic we are discussing, or at least to current topics.

April 22nd, 2008, 4:09 pm


wizart said:

I think it was Mark Twain who would write insulting letters to the people who put him down. They’d send letters insulting his writing, and he would write a response. But while he slept, his wife would take Twain’s responses and dispose of them. Twain never knew, but got to vent.

On a different note, if America is losing the war on drugs and there are over a million regular addicts there already, I wonder how another war in the Middle East would be helpful, enticing more and more teenagers to join the army instead of getting them hooked on some of the hard drugs available to them might help a bit although that alone would not win any of these two dangerous wars.

April 22nd, 2008, 4:41 pm


wizart said:

Meth: America’s Most Dangerous Drug

It creates a potent, long-lasting high—until the user crashes and, too often, literally burns. How meth quietly marched across the country and up the socioeconomic ladder—and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. As law enforcement fights a losing battle on the ground, officials ask: are the Feds doing all they can to contain this epidemic?
By David J. Jefferson

Aug. 8, 2005 issue – The leafy Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge is the kind of place where people come to live the American dream in million-dollar homes on one-acre lots. Eight years ago Kimberly Fields and her husband, Todd, bought a ranch house here on a wooded lot beside a small lake, and before long they were parents, with two sons, a black Labrador and a Volvo in the drive. But somewhere along the way this blond mother with a college degree and a $100,000-a-year job as a sales rep for Apria Healthcare found something that mattered more: methamphetamine. The crystalline white drug quickly seduces those who snort, smoke or inject it with a euphoric rush of confidence, hyperalertness and sexiness that lasts for hours on end. And then it starts destroying lives.

Kimberly tried drug rehab but failed, and she couldn’t care for her children, according to divorce papers filed by her husband, who moved out last year. She was arrested three times for shoplifting—most recently, police say, for allegedly stealing over-the-counter cold pills containing pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient used in making meth. By the time cops came banging on her door with a search warrant on June 1, Kimberly, now 37, had turned her slice of suburbia into a meth lab, prosecutors allege, with the help of a man she’d met eight months earlier in an Indiana bar, Shawn Myers, 32. (Both Fields and Myers pleaded not guilty to possessing meth with an intent to distribute, though Kimberly told police that she is addicted to the drug.) Dressed in a pink T shirt printed with the words ALL STRESSED OUT, Kimberly looked about 45 pounds thinner than when police first booked her for shoplifting two years ago. Her leg bore a knee-to-ankle scar from a chemical burn, and police found anhydrous ammonia, also used in cooking meth, buried in a converted propane tank in her backyard. As officers led Kimberly away in handcuffs, her 6-year-old son Nicholas was “only concerned that his brother had his toys and diapers,” recalls Detective Mike Barnes. Meanwhile, police evacuated 96 nearby homes, fearing the alleged meth lab might explode.

Once derided as “poor man’s cocaine,” popular mainly in rural areas and on the West Coast, meth has seeped into the mainstream in its steady march across the United States. Relatively cheap compared with other hard drugs, the highly addictive stimulant is hooking more and more people across the socioeconomic spectrum: soccer moms in Illinois, computer geeks in Silicon Valley, factory workers in Georgia, gay professionals in New York. The drug is making its way into suburbs from San Francisco to Chicago to Philadelphia. In upscale Bucks County, Pa., the Drug Enforcement Administration last month busted four men for allegedly running a meth ring, smuggling the drug from California inside stereo equipment and flat-screen TVs. Even Mormon Utah has a meth problem, with nearly half the women in Salt Lake City’s jail testing positive for the drug in one study.

More than 12 million Americans have tried methamphetamine, and 1.5 million are regular users, according to federal estimates. Meth-making operations have been uncovered in all 50 states; Missouri tops the list, with more than 8,000 labs, equipment caches and toxic dumps seized between 2002 and 2004. Cops nationwide rank methamphetamine the No. 1 drug they battle today: in a survey of 500 law-enforcement agencies in 45 states released last month by the National Association of Counties, 58 percent said meth is their biggest drug problem, compared with only 19 percent for cocaine, 17 percent for pot and 3 percent for heroin. Meth addicts are pouring into prisons and recovery centers at an ever-increasing rate, and a new generation of “meth babies” is choking the foster-care system in many states. One measure of the drug’s reach: Target, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid and other retailers have moved nonprescription cold pills behind the pharmacy counter, where meth cooks have a harder time getting at them.

The active ingredient in those pills is pseudoephedrine, a chemical derivative of amphetamine. The “pseudo” is extracted from the cold pills, and cooked with other chemicals like iodine and anhydrous ammonia—using recipes readily available on the Internet—over high heat. The resulting compound, when ingested, releases bursts of dopamine in the brain, producing a strong euphoric effect.

And, amid the wreckage, a pressing political debate: are we fighting the wrong drug war? The Bush administration has made marijuana the major focus of its anti-drug efforts, both because there are so many users (an estimated 15 million Americans) and because it considers pot a “gateway” to the use of harder substances. “If we can get a child to 20 without using marijuana, there is a 98 percent chance that the child will never become addicted to any drug,” says White House Deputy Drug Czar Scott Burns, of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “While it may come across as an overemphasis on marijuana, you don’t wake up when you’re 25 and say, ‘I want to slam meth!’ ” But those fighting on the front lines say the White House is out of touch. “It hurts the federal government’s credibility when they say marijuana is the No. 1 priority,” says Deputy District Attorney Mark McDonnell, head of narcotics in Portland, Ore., which has been especially hard hit. Meth, he says, “is an epidemic and a crisis unprecedented.”

Indeed, few municipalities, especially in rural areas, have the resources to deal with the drug’s ravages: lab explosions that maim and kill cooks and their families; the toxic mess (for each pound of meth, five pounds of toxic waste are left behind); the strain on social services; the increase in violent crime. “All the social and environmental issues surrounding this drug affect society more than any of the other drugs,” says Bill Hansell, president-elect of the National Association of Counties. In its survey of local law enforcement, 70 percent said robberies or burglaries have increased because of meth, as have domestic violence, assaults and identity theft; 40 percent of child-welfare officials reported an increase in out-of-home placements last year due to meth.

State and local officials generally give high marks to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which has increased its meth budget from $127.5 million in fiscal 2001 to $151.4 million in fiscal 2004 (though these figures exclude major expenses like training costs and overtime pay for local task forces)—and sends Mobile Enforcement Teams to areas of the country with limited resources or experience in dealing with meth. The Justice Department is turning up the heat; in a July 18 speech to district attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that “in terms of damage to children and to our society, meth is now the most dangerous drug in America.” And the drug czar’s office has started to wake up to the problem: last year, for the first time, it took a serious look at meth and outlined what needs to be done to fight it. Its Web site for parents, http://www.theantidrug.com, now prominently features information like how to “Talk to Your Teen About Meth.”

But a growing number of officials around the country want to see more concrete action from the White House. The drug czar’s office hasn’t made any legislative proposals, or weighed in on any of those coming from Capitol Hill; officials there say they want to get a better sense of what works before throwing their weight around. Members of Congress whose districts have been ravaged by the drug are forcing the issue: the ranks of the House’s bipartisan “meth caucus” have swelled from just four founding members in 2000 to 118 today, and the group has been fighting the administration’s efforts to cut federal spending on local law enforcement. (The House has voted to restore much of the funding; the issue awaits action in the Senate.) “To the extent that we have to choose between fighting meth and marijuana, we need to be fighting meth,” says Sen. Jim Talent, Republican of Missouri, who along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, has introduced the first big federal bill to address the problem, which would put strict restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine-based products.

On the Hill last week, the deputy drug czar walked into a buzz saw, as members vented their frustration over his office’s level of attention to the problem. “This isn’t the way you tackle narcotics,” said GOP Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana. “How many years do we have to see the same pattern at an increasing rate in the United States until there’s something where we have concrete recommendations, not another cotton-pickin’ meeting? … This committee is trying desperately to say, ‘Lead!’ ” Despite the congressional clamor, the White House has been loath to just throw money at the problem. “Meth is a serious priority for us, as evidenced by programs like drug-endangered children, access to recovery, drug courts and community coalitions, among others,” says Tom Riley, spokesman for ONDCP. “I’m afraid there’s also an element of people ‘crying meth’ because it’s a hot new drug.”

The policy debate doesn’t mean much to Terry Silvers, who is one of the victims in this war. Silvers, 34, worked for 19 years at Shaw carpet mill in Dalton, Ga., dreaming of the day he could open his own body shop. He had a wife, three kids and a 401(k), and he’d never missed more than a few days of work his entire life. The only illegal drug he’d tried was pot, which he used twice. One day when he was drinking with his buddies they talked him into doing some meth to wake him up for the drive home. “I snorted a line and within five seconds it was like I’d had 12 hours of sleep and wasn’t drunk anymore.” Soon, Silvers was snorting once or twice a week. Then someone taught him how to smoke it. When the thrill wore off, he started injecting: “firing” or “slamming,” addicts call it. “Golly, it’s the best feeling you ever had. It’s like your mind is running 100 miles an hour, but your feet aren’t moving.” His weight dropped so drastically—from 180 pounds to 140—that his wife, Lisa, thought he had cancer. He grew increasingly hyperactive and began having seizures and hallucinations. When his wife figured out what the real problem was, she called the carpet mill and tried to get him into its drug- treatment program. He decided to quit his job rather than get help. Fed up, his wife confronted him one Sunday in May and told him she was leaving. “He hit me and knocked a hole in my eardrum,” his wife says. His daughter Heather called 911 as her father was dragging Lisa down the steps of a neighbor’s house. When NEWSWEEK met with Terry Silvers earlier this summer, he was in Whitfield County Jail, wearing leg shackles and handcuffs. “I’m not as hardened as all this looks,” said a gaunt and embarrassed Silvers, who is charged with manufacturing the drug. “I think meth is one of the plagues the Bible talks about,” his wife says.

In urban gay communities from New York to Los Angeles, the meth plague has been linked to an even deadlier one: AIDS. Meth makes many users feel hypersexual and uninhibited, and in the gay community that has meant a sharp increase in unsafe sex. The link between meth and HIV is undeniable: in L.A., nearly one in three homosexual men who tested positive for HIV last year reported using crystal, and that percentage has tripled since 2001, according to a new study of 19,000 men by the Los Angeles Gay Lesbian Center. As in the early days of AIDS, the gay community is fighting to get men to change their behavior: in L.A., activists hand out buttons that declare dump tina (one of meth’s many nicknames). But the entreaties fall on ears deafened by meth’s siren call. At this spring’s annual Black Party in Manhattan, one of the big bacchanals on the gay party circuit, volunteers from Gay Men’s Health Crisis handed out condoms to a crowd shaken by recent reports that a meth user had contracted what might be a new, supervirulent strain of HIV. Not 10 feet away, two revelers high on crystal were having unprotected anal sex.

Meth-fueled sex is hardly the exclusive province of gay men. Dr. Alex Stalcup, medical director of New Leaf Treatment Center in Lafayette, Calif., sees plenty of straight high school and college men who use meth to have “speed sex.” “They’ll get a bunch of speed and go up to a cabin with some girls on Friday night and just have sex all weekend,” Stalcup says. The irony is that meth can cause impotence. For many women, weight loss is an even bigger draw. Stalcup tells of one 5-foot-8 patient who weighed less than 90 pounds when she came to him. “People call it the Jenny Crank diet,” says Patrick Fleming, head of the Salt Lake County Division of Substance Abuse Services, which now sees more women with addictions to meth than to alcohol.

A lot of people never saw the meth epidemic coming. Unlike crack cocaine, which erupted in the nation’s urban centers in the 1980s and quickly gained the attention of media and government, meth took hold in rural areas far from America’s power brokers. “It does not have the same hold on policymakers that crack did 20 years ago. I think that’s one of the things that has helped the epidemic build in severity, kind of under the radar,” says Jack Riley of RAND Corp., the Santa Monica, Calif., think tank. Methamphetamine isn’t a new drug, though it has become more powerful as the ingredients and the cooking techniques have evolved. It was first synthesized by a Japanese chemist in 1919, and was used by both Axis and Allied troops in World War II to keep them alert and motivated; kamikaze pilots were said to have taken high doses of the stuff before their missions. In the 1950s, it was commonly prescribed as a diet aid, to fight depression and give housewives a boost. The federal government criminalized the drug in 1970 for most uses (it’s still legally available in low doses for the treatment of attention-deficit disorder and narcolepsy). But by then it was illegally being manufactured and distributed by motorcycle gangs in the West. In the early ’90s, Mexican trafficking organizations began taking over production, setting up “superlabs” in the California countryside that were able to crank out 50 pounds of meth or more in a weekend. To put that in perspective: an “eight ball” of meth, one eighth of an ounce, is enough to get 15 people high.

Back when bikers controlled the trade, legislators tried to restrict supplies of the core ingredient they were using to make crank, so nicknamed because they would hide meth in their motorcycles’ crankcases. So the cooks simply changed the recipe to use ephedrine, a chemical then found in cold medications. Lawmakers got wise, and clamped down on ephedrine; the cooks switched to a related compound, pseudoephedrine. When the United States began restricting bulk sales of “pseudo” in the mid-1990s, meth manufacturers turned to Canada. They also began buying hundreds of thousands of boxes of Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine-based drugs (“smurfing,” cooks call it, when they go from store to store buying or stealing pills). When Canada strengthened regulation of large sales of pseudoephedrine in 2003, production jumped south to Mexico, where pseudo has been arriving in ever-larger doses from Asia. Today about half the meth in the United States is made in Mexico, smuggled across the border and ferried around the country in cars with secret compartments that would make James Bond proud. “It’ll be the kind where you turn on the windshield wiper, hit the brakes, hit the door lock and then the compartment will open up,” says the DEA’s Rodney Benson, special agent in charge of the four-state Seattle Field Division. The DEA is working with its foreign counterparts from Mexico to Hong Kong to intercept pseudoephedrine shipments from overseas and prevent cross-border trafficking into the United States. “I think, increasingly, meth will be seen from our point of view as a smuggled drug,” says the agency’s Mike Heald.

But meth is a two-front war, and Mexican drug dealers are only part of the problem. Because the drug is relatively easy to make, thousands of labs manned by addicts or local dealers have sprung up around the country. Legislators are now trying to make it harder for these mom-and-pop labs to get their hands on pseudo. Last year Oklahoma became the first state to put pseudoephedrine pills behind the counter; as a result, “meth labs have all but disappeared in Oklahoma,” says Mark Woodward, press aide for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, which reports a 90 percent drop in lab seizures since the legislation was enacted. Seventeen other states have followed Oklahoma’s example, and a total of 40 states put some sort of restriction on the sale of pseudo. Drug manufacturers, having fought hard against such laws, have started reformulating their cold medicines using a different chemical—one that cannot be used to make meth.

Still, there will be no easy victory. As law enforcement is all too aware, Anytown, U.S.A., can be turned into a meth den almost overnight. Take Bradford County in northeast Pennsylvania, a place law-enforcement officials nationwide now refer to as Meth Valley. Five years ago a cooker from Iowa named Les Molyneaux set up shop in Towanda, a town of 3,000 along the Susquehanna River. Hardly anyone in Towanda had heard of the drug, but by the time Molyneaux was arrested and pleaded guilty in 2001 to conspiracy to manufacture meth, he’d shared his recipe with at least two apprentices. From there, “it just spread like wildfire,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Casey. Today police have identified at least 500 people who are using or cooking the drug in Bradford County, and the actual tally is probably “significantly worse” than that, Casey says. The drug has seduced whole families and turned them into “zombies,” says Randy Epler, a police officer in Towanda. “I see walking death.”

The sobering fact is that, like addiction itself, this epidemic can only be arrested, not cured. “There are a lot more regular people doing it than society has a clue,” says Dominic Ippolito, who for a decade dealt meth to doctors, lawyers, designers, accountants and working moms across California. He also smoked the stuff—every day for 10 years—even as he held down a job as a claims manager for a big supermarket chain. But then he lost his job and started dealing drugs full time. He finally got caught on his 42nd birthday, after a customer fingered him in a plea bargain. He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession with intent to sell. He wound up serving 9 months behind bars, where he got to see firsthand the impact of the drug he dealt. “The whole meth-mouth thing is true: I saw hundreds and hundreds of guys with no teeth. A lot of them couldn’t even chew the prison food.” Some inmates would grind up antidepressants and snort them, attempting to replicate the high of speed. “They were total meth heads. That’s what everybody is in prison.”

Now off meth (“that’s part of the parole”), the 46-year-old Ippolito says that whatever the government is doing to fight this epidemic, it’s failing. He paraphrases a bit of dialogue from the movie “Traffic,” in which a defiant drug dealer mocks a DEA agent about the futility of the drug war: “You think you guys are making a difference?!,” Ippolito says. They had better. Hundreds of thousands of lives depend on it.

With Hilary Shenfeld, Andrew Murr, Arian Campo-Flores, Sarah Childress, Catharine Skipp, Susannah Meadows, Dirk Johnson, Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Anne Underwood

April 22nd, 2008, 4:51 pm


Akbar Palace said:

palestinians are in poverty because of the state of the jews.


I guess I could have predicted your answer. Thanks;)

So I guess Arafat’s hording of hundreds of millions of dollars (perhaps over a $billion) from the Palestinian people couldn’t be a reason for the Palestinian’s poverty.

You are doing a great job proving AIG correct. The superhuman Israelis are to blame for everything including bad-weather;)

BTW – I’ve known plenty of Holocaust survivors in Israel. Although Israel’s mean life expectancy is one of the highest in the world, it is troubling that the Israeli government has not done enough to distribute survivor’s funds back to the survivors. I know one thing, Israel does have socialized medicine and the elderly are taken care of by the state. The survivors I knew had their own room in a government supplied old age home replete with doctors and nurses.

Personally, I think American health care is the best in the world.

BTW – Did you find out how many Israelis moved back to Khazaria? We’re eagerly waiting your answer.

Re: Ben-Ami Kadish


You mean AIPAC, CAMERA, the ADL, Wolfowitz and Cheney weren’t able to silence the FBI? What gives?

April 22nd, 2008, 5:27 pm


Seeking the Truth said:

Saying that any future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be transitional, does not prevent a person from striving to have one state afterwards through peaceful means exclusively.

April 22nd, 2008, 5:58 pm


offended said:

Bondo, can you please (after Alex’s permission) send me an email at:


Would like to ask you few question… thanks.

April 22nd, 2008, 6:01 pm


Alex said:


I think the 10 year could become 25 when they sit and negotiate. And after 25 years … everything changes.

Here is Sami Moubayed’s take on Carter:

Sami Moubayed

The Arabs first heard of Jimmy Carter when he was elected president of the United States in November 1976. They were skeptical at first, thinking he would pursue Middle East policies no different from those of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, which were very sympathetic to Israel.

Making things more worrying was that Carter confessed that prior to his election, he had never met an Arab. The new president, however, promised to be different from previous American leaders. From day one, he made it loud and clear that he did not see the world through the narrow alliances of the Cold War; the world was not “you are either with us or with the Soviet Union”.

That is why he invited Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, Hafez al-Assad of Syria and Anwar Sadat of Egypt to visit him in Washington.

All of them – with the exception of Syria’s Assad – responded promptly. Rabin, himself a Washington insider for nine years, was furious at the new US president. Carter was taking Middle East initiatives without clearing them first with Israel. Even worse, he was promising statehood to the Palestinians and calling for an end to Syrian-US tension.

Unlike what many Arabs believed, he was never anti-Israeli but believed that just like the Israelis, the Arabs had the right to live and hope. They too suffered. They too existed and feared. They had legitimate interests, he claimed, that needed to be respected to bring peace to the Holy Land. These views were shared by his new secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

This year, Brzezinski (who is now a foreign policy advisor to Democratic presidential challenger Barack Obama) visited Damascus and met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He then visited one of the private universities in Syria and spoke to students of the Faculty of International Relations. Most of them asked questions about the Carter era. They wanted to know why was it that America’s number one ally in the region, Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, had been toppled by the Islamic revolution of 1979, despite assurances of support from the Carter White House?

They asked him about the arming and training of jihadis to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in December 1979. They asked him what could be expected in Syrian-US relations if Obama made it to the White House? That visit was frowned on by decision-makers in Washington, who accused Brzezinski of visiting a nation “that disrupts regional peace and supports international terrorism”.

The psychological shock of seeing Brzezinski in Damascus was nothing, however, compared with what happened when Carter landed in the Syrian capital on April 18 to meet not only Assad but also Khaled Meshaal, the head of the political bureau of Hamas, a Palestinian military group that the US brands a “terrorist organization”.

The Carter Center explained the trip, saying it aimed to “support and provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East”. Carter said, “I feel quiet at ease in doing this. I think there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process.”

Carter’s Middle East tour had three main objectives: 1) Ending hostilities between Hamas and Israel, either through a peace deal or a truce. This would build on an earlier offer made by Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin for a truce (hudna in Arabic) with the Israelis. 2) The release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held in Hamas captivity since 2006. 3) The release of Palestinians from Israeli jails. On another level, the trip aims at finding common ground, and improving relations, between Syria and the United States.

It has been over 15 years since Carter last visited Damascus as a private citizen, during the era of former president Hafez al-Assad. Before that, when Assad turned down the Washington invitation, the two men had met in neutral Geneva at the Intercontinental Hotel on May 9, 1977. That seven-hour meeting was opened with a one-hour speech by the Syrian president, on reaching peace in the Middle East, to which Carter nodded and attentively took notes. At the press conference, Carter reaffirmed his support for a Palestinian homeland, and praised cooperation with Syria.

In his book Peace Not Apartheid, Carter wrote:
When I became president, one of my primary roles was to persuade Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to … cooperate with me on a comprehensive peace effort. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and others who knew Assad had described him to me as very intelligent, eloquent and frank in discussing the most sensitive issues. I invited the Syrian leader to come and visit me in Washington, but he replied that he had no desire ever to visit the United States. Despite this firm but polite rebuff, I learned what I could about him and his nation before meeting him.
The two men last met at the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan in 1999.

Generations of Syrians grew up hearing good things about Carter; they remembered him as an honest US president – although his signature graced the much-loathed Camp David accords between Egypt’s Sadat and Israel, in 1978.

Needless to say, they were thrilled that he decided to visit Syria in 2008, despite all the high-alert warnings he received from both the White House and the US Department of State. Carter had tried to visit Syria in 2005, but relations had soured between Syria and Washington, and he was advised not to but then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice. He explained, “I made a visit to the Middle East early in 2005 and planned to visit the young Syrian president in Damascus. As usual, I notified the White House well in advance of my itinerary and immediately received a call from the national security advisor, who informed me that I would not receive approval for this portion of my trip.

“I tried to explain that I would be glad to use my influence to resolve any outstanding problems. In a somewhat heated conversation, I also expressed my view that refusing to communicate with leaders with whom we disagreed was counterproductive. Despite this effort to embarrass and weaken Bashar al-Assad, he has survived … When an international effort is launched to end the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Syria may once again play a major role.”

Carter believes the time has come to re-engage the Syrians and to talk to Hamas. Speaking from Jerusalem on April 21, he said Hamas was willing to accept Israel and live as a neighbor “next door in peace”. After meeting with Meshaal, he also heard that Hamas was no longer going to try to undermine current Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and his efforts to reach peace with Israel.

Earlier, they had seized power from Abbas in Gaza and harangued the Palestinian leader for taking part in the Annapolis peace conference in the US last year. This stance – delivered to the US leader from Damascus – had Syria’s fingerprints all over it. These were important extractions from the Islamic group, which earlier refused to negotiate any peace with Israel or recognize its right to exist.

The charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, something that it refused to amend when elected to power in 2006. While Hamas was saying all that to the aged US president, Israel launched a series of attacks over the weekend, killing seven Hamas guerillas, after two jeeps packed with explosives were detonated at a border crossing in Gaza.

Why now?
Why has Carter decided to brush aside all official warnings and go to Damascus, whereas he had received similar requests to refrain from making the trip in 2005? A logical answer would be that Carter went to Syria to listen, take notes and convey his findings (as a private citizen) to think-tanks and decision-makers in Washington.

Nobody asked him to do so; he is doing it at his own will, hoping it might bring about a breakthrough in Palestinian-Israeli talks. Carter realizes this is close to impossible in what remains of President George W Bush’s term at the White House. This tour is aimed at whomever comes next, Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

Additionally, Carter is also worried about the prospects of a new war in the region, either between Syria and Israel, Hamas and Israel (already taking place), or Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Tension is rising on the Syrian-Israeli border after the Israelis carried out their largest military maneuver since 1948 on their border with Syria in April.

Many in Washington and Tel Aviv are convinced the only way to get Syria to change course and distance itself from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas is to bomb it. While it prepares on the border with Syria, Israeli officials come out with assuring statements, saying that they don’t want war with the Syrians.

This was repeated by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who went further in July 2007 and addressed the Syrian leader in an interview on the Saudi channel al-Arabiyya, saying: “You know that I am ready for direct talks with you … I am ready to sit and talk about peace, not war.”

Other Israelis, such as then-deputy chief of staff Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, sent other signals, saying provocations could lead to “miscalculations on the border”. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in July 2007 responded to a question about peace with Syria with the blunt, “Absolutely not!”

For its part, Syria says it remains committed to peace, by abiding to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (land-for-peace) and returning to the June 4, 1967, line with Israel. The September 2007 Israeli air intrusion into Syria and the latest maneuvers of the Israeli Defense Force have alarmed the Syrians. This week, while speaking to a gathering of Arab intellectuals, Assad said, “While war is not a preferable option, if Israel declares war on Syria and Lebanon or if America declares war on Iran, Syria would be prepared.”

Each side accuses the other side of not being interested in peace. This is what Carter heard both from Assad and Olmert. But both sides are prepared should something go wrong or a “miscalculation” take place on the border.

Will Carter’s diplomacy result in any breakthrough? Apart from symbolic moral lifting to the Syrians and Hamas – and headache for Carter himself – the visit will not produce any tangible results, neither on the Syrian nor on the Palestinian track, because at this stage neither the Americans nor the Israelis are ready. Carter is yet to write or convey his impressions of the Middle East, over 30 years after his election as president of the United States.

Not much has changed. Syria was at odds with Egypt in 1976. It still is. Then, it was over Egypt’s walkout on the Syrians in the October war of 1973 and its attendance of Kissinger’s famed Geneva conference. Now its over Lebanon and Egypt’s no-show at the latest Arab conference in Damascus.

Lebanon was in the early months of its civil war. It looks dangerously close to another today, with no president and a sharp divide between political parties. The Syrians don’t trust the Americans for what they did to the Arab world after 1973. Kissinger had distanced Syria from both Iraq and Egypt. The honeymoon with Cairo was disrupted when Kissinger got Sadat to go to Geneva without the Syrians. He then turned to Iraq and encouraged the Kurds to riot against the central government to divert its attention and drain its strength, so that it did not venture into any new Middle East adventure, such as coming to the aid of Syria.

Whereas today, the Bush White House has distanced Syria from Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. In 1976, there was still a Soviet Union to keep relative control on US actions in the Arab world. The US is now free to act as it pleases. Back then, the US had a friendly neighbor in Tehran. It now has President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Then, the US was not occupying Iraq and sharing a 605-kilometer border with Syria. More importantly, then Carter had power to make things happen.

He was the sitting 39th president; a man with vision, authority and character. He is now a private citizen, old and ailing, whose views are not so well received at the White House. And unless a Democrat makes it in the US elections, Carter will remain persona non grata both at the White House and State Department from 2009 onwards. By the next time elections come around and possibly bring about a Democratic president, it would be 2013. Carter would be 89.

So if the current visit were to result in any breakthrough, it needs to be done in the next administration, not this one. In 1980, the ex-president issued his famous Carter Doctrine, in response to the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He stated the US would use military force if needed to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. This was after the Truman Doctrine, saying the US would send aid to countries threatened by communism. Then came the Eisenhower Doctrine for the containment of communism in the Arab world. Finally there was the Nixon Doctrine, providing military aid to Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Carter no longer has the authority to issue doctrines. But regardless, his breath is one of fresh air for the Syrians.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst. This article appeared in Asia Times on April 22, 2008.

April 22nd, 2008, 6:16 pm


Alex said:


You reminded me of the “arts students”!

I received three visits! … over three years roughly.

Each time, a polite young “art student” from Israel will be waiting for me in my office for an hour to show me his paintings for sale.

I remember one of them “Adam” had about ten paintings … each with a very different style from the other. I asked him about that and he said “They are not all mine .. we are a group of artists from Israel”

I have a friend who has a “sensitive job” here in Canada. An Israeli artist visited his home during working hours. My friend’s wife wouldn’t allow the artist inside, but he insisted and insisted to go in … “the colors of the paintings will not look right under sunlight”.

April 22nd, 2008, 6:23 pm


Naji said:

Ken Silverstein makes intersting observations about, and beyond, the Hillary story on his blog http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/04/hbc-90002864

Hillary: We’ll “totally obliterate” Iran

DEPARTMENT Washington Babylon
BY Ken Silverstein
PUBLISHED April 22, 2008

A reader from England called my attention to this item from today’s Haaretz, in which Hillary Clinton–seeking to outdo Barack Obama in the candidates’ frenzied bidding war to be the most “pro-Israel”–promises to essentially wipe Iran from the map if it nuked Israel.

It goes without saying that an Iranian nuclear strike against Israel would prompt a major international crisis, however, as Luca Menato, the reader from England, writes:

“This [story] from Haaretz reports a response to a question posed to Mrs. Clinton during a breakfast TV interview yesterday. It follows on from the equally unsettling interrogation of both Democratic candidates during the televised presidential debate held last week. Both candidates reassured their audience and the audience further afield that they considered the security of Israel to be paramount and central to their world vision.

Yet that such a chilling question should be posed so regularly and considered so unremarkable by political commentators in the United States is very unsettling indeed. It would suggest that the American public would more readily entertain even more war over their cereals in the morning–even nuclear war–than witness any significant threat to the security of this very particular Middle Eastern nation…

Finally, can you imagine any nation in the world where such a question would be considered reasonable and appropriate during an election debate? Can you imagine the reaction in the West if candidates in Russia, China, India, Japan or Germany responded with this kind of martial rhetoric to media questions over breakfast? ”

Incidentally, after reading the Haaretz story, read this story as well:

“Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal on Monday said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip along Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and would grant Israel a 10-year hudna, or truce, as an implicit proof of recognition if Israel withdraws from those areas. Meshal’s comments were one of the clearest outlines Hamas has given for what it would do if Israel withdrew from the territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. He suggested Hamas would accept Israel’s existence alongside a Palestinian state on the rest of the lands Israel has held since 1948.

However, Meshal told reporters in Damascus that Hamas would not formally recognize Israel. “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” he said. He said he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during talks Friday and Saturday in the Syrian capital.”

The Israeli government and some of its supporters in the United States are already belittling Meshal’s remarks, but they are fairly astonishing nonetheless. Does this mean that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is immediately reachable? Of course not, and there may well follow a hardening of rhetoric from Hamas. But the very fact that Meshal made such statements is significant, and suggests that the group recognizes it will ultimately need to make compromises in order to reach a political settlement. Unfortunately, there seems to be no senior Israeli officials ready to do the same, and no American political figures, from the Bush Administration to the major candidates, willing to seize such an opportunity and try to make something of it.

April 22nd, 2008, 6:25 pm


Shai said:


Of course Israel won’t make peace with Syria unless the Americans are somehow involved. And, Syria has also demanded American participation in brokering this peace. But what does this have anything to do with Bibi? How do you conclude that he cannot make peace with the Arabs? Wouldn’t you have said the same before Begin did so with Egypt? Or before Sharon withdrew all settlers and the IDF from Gaza? I mentioned on a few occasions here that one of the absurdities in Israel is that precisely those who always preach against peace, are those best positioned to make it. Labor, nor Kadima, will ever have the amount of support that Likud will, should a peace initiative be brought before the people. That is why Likud has succeeded more than Labor in this task.

If you study Bibi up close, you’ll see how he’s always been anti-peace, anti-withdrawing, anti-Arab, yet he’s compromised more with the Arabs than Barak has! Also, Bibi is viewed very positively in Washington, of course by the neocons and other Republicans, but also by many Democrats. If anyone can convince Washington that it is time to change her policy vis-a-vis Syria, it is Bibi, much more than Olmert. Why would Bibi do it? If he believed that Bashar was sincere, and saw a real possibility to close a deal, he would do it in a second. He’d be Syria’s number one marketing guy (quietly, behind the scene). As for the Palestinians, he thinks like I do (or the other way around), that now we cannot close a deal with them, while Fatah and Hamas are at odds. Still, if he becomes PM, I would certainly not rule out direct engagement with Hamas, much as he did with his arch-enemy Arafat.

Don’t give up on Bibi so quickly, he may yet surprise us all…

April 22nd, 2008, 6:48 pm


T said:


Could I email you too (privately) regarding the Israeli art students spy ring?

April 22nd, 2008, 8:03 pm


SOL said:

Bondo you wrote.

“palestinians are in poverty because of the state of the jews. the holocaust survivors are in poverty because of the state of the jews.”

I agree with you 100%. The Palestinians live in poverty because of the jews. It is very obvious that the state of the jews is solely responsible for this situation and need’s to rectify the situation immediately. But with a barrel of oil at $120 couldn’t the Arab nations take a little of their oil profits and help their brother Palestinians? At least until we can force the state of the jews to take responsibility.

The Holy Quran declares “ provision must be made to help the kindred, or orphans, way- farers, widows, who are in bondage or in debt, those who are expelled from their homes and deprived of their property, and, in general, needy” (Holy Quran, 59:7-8).

Why doesn’t the Arab League demand that a refugee fund be establish to improve the lives of those Palestinian refugees living in Syria, Lebanon and Jordon? (Only, of course, until we can force the state of the jews to pay up).

“They give food, out of love for Him (Allah), to the poor, the orphan, and the slave, saying: We feed you only for Allah’s pleasure – we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.” (Holy Quran,76:8,9)

April 22nd, 2008, 8:23 pm


idaf said:

Ya ibni ya Qifa Nabki,

I will respond to your challenging questions on Lebanon after few days. I’m now very busy helping my grandchildren with their science projects, quizzes and exams. I’m sure a chap like you is familiar with these nuances.


Sorry I have to leave you now and go teach that brat how to treat his grandparents.


April 22nd, 2008, 8:52 pm


Alex said:


I’m not sure I understand why Offended involved me. you can surely email him directly to hte email he posted here, I don’t need to be involved : )



please email me at my creativesyria email … click on “ALEX” it will take you to creativesyria (my site) and on the top you can click on “contact us” … I will receive your email.

I don’t like to type it here because spammers scan online pages (like this one) to capture emails.

April 22nd, 2008, 9:19 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I love Bondo. He makes the conflict simple. We either kill him or he kills us. Clarity is what people need and Bondo provides it.

April 22nd, 2008, 10:41 pm


SOL said:


“zionists of the world need to help: palestinians wherever they are, iraqi refugees, iraqis period, and lebanese. zionists are the ones responsible.”

I read, I understand and I agree with you, I AGREE WITH YOU. How many times do I need to tell you? All I’m saying is until the jews and the zionist step up to the plate can’t the Arab nations take a little of their oil profits and help their brother Palestinians?

According to Saudi American Bank’s latest economic analysis on the Kingdom, oil revenues this year are expected to reach $163 billion. Can’t they take 1% of this and improve the lives of those Palestinian refugees living in Syria, Lebanon and Jordon? Again I know it is untimely the jews responsibility but sixty years have past and the refugees are still suffering. Can’t the Arab nations help their brothers?

April 22nd, 2008, 11:02 pm


Enlightened said:

QN: You said

To my mind, these issues are: (Main issues)

* Strengthening Lebanon’s state institutions
* Reforming the electoral law
* Dismantling sectarianism via a bicameral legislature, one-man one-vote system, etc.
* Enfranchising the Shi`a, politically
* Disarming Hizbullah and all other militias

The other issues (sub issues, important but not as important as the main ones)

* Embassies and ambassadors
* Delineating the Borders
* The Shebaa Farms
* Political prisoners (This issue will not go away)
* A (fair ) new economic agreement
* A new mutual Defence agreement (although this might be a thorny issue)

April 22nd, 2008, 11:06 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Shai why on earth would / could Bibi want to “solve” the Palestine problem which is the core issue of peace with Arab nations, if there is no serious outside pressure which doesn’t leave Israel any other option. Syria peace is only a sideline. Peace with Syria doesn’t mean peace with Arabs. It is only an attempt to legalize the Palestine occupation for “forever”. I seriously doubt that Arab nations would satisfy to that Syria peace as a peace with Arab Nations. The public opinion in Arab and Muslim countries would not let leaders to forget Palestinians.

Begin made peace with Egypt because USA wanted / needed it to keep Saudi oil flowing. Not because he / Israel wanted it. The same decision making path will apply with solving the Palestine problem. Syria is a somewhat different case, but in any case Israel will not make peace if USA doesn’t bless it. Gaza was a naive political deception and a clear cost cutting decision by making it as a giant isolated ghetto. Israel in fact did not give up there anything besides some miserable settlements. Well people of Gaza have now better chances to train a big guerilla army, but what comes to their liberty they are even worse off than before. And that liberty lack is not caused by Hamas.

Sure Bibi or some other future PMs would like to make peace with Syria in order to isolate Palestinians and to calm the northern frontier. That would make some political sense for Israel, but it doesn’t mean that Israel can join the local “club”. Also the “Israel under danger” image to keep the US Jews to send money and support needs clear stronger enemies than occupied militants, so I am not so sure that Israel in reality wants peace with Syria more than in speeches.

Speaking about we can’t make solve Palestine problem while Hams and Fatah are at odds is simply naive. One thing is certain that there will be more or less militant groups among Palestinians so long the occupation continues. It is naive to think that Palestinians could speak with one voice. Not even Israel can do it. The majority of Palestinians wanted clearly to speak through Hamas, but that did not suite Israelis.

Sorry Shai but I can’t see there any difference with Israeli politicians skills in achieving peace or that the “right” person/party matters. All of them want to keep West Bank and Golan, some want even more land from Lebanon. All of them also love Israel’s present role as a mini superpower. The peace will come when US regime really decides it is time for that. Israelis and Jewish pressure groups do everything in their power (which they have much) to push the time of that decision so far in future as possible. But when Americans make the decision, then the Israeli government must sell the solution to Israeli Jews. Certainly some Israeli politicians could sell that solution to the “nation” better than others. But that future PM has high probability to suffer the faith of Rabin in the aftermath.


I love Bondo. He makes the conflict simple. We either kill him or he kills us. Clarity is what people need and Bondo provides it.

AIG Bondo is an American. Why would you kill him or any other Americans who doesn’t like Zionism or Israel’s acts? There are plenty of them in USA and much more in Europe. AIG USA is not Gaza or West Bank. Has Bondo threatened your life?

If you AIG begin more or less directly to threaten publicly peoples lives that is rather serious.

April 22nd, 2008, 11:19 pm


Enlightened said:


Question: “Did I get edited for saying some Israeli politicians have been really ugly”?

April 22nd, 2008, 11:37 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Now you’re messing with me. You’re a grandfather?! Lah ya zalameh. Alex, is that true?


Alex said to Bondo:

“This is not the best forum for consistent attacks on Syrians (AIG) or Jews (you). You wouldn’t like people to do the same to Italian Americans I’m sure.”

Frankly, I believe that we don’t engage in ENOUGH criticism of Italian-Americans and other pepperoni-loving goombahs, on this blog. After all, aren’t they responsible for all the world’s ills? Take the mafia, for example. “The real power within” the mafia is Italian-American. Hence, all Italian-Americans (and other spaghetti-slurping paysans) are virtually indistinguishable from mafia thugs.

Thank you, Bondo, for teaching me the fine art of sledgehammer logic. I don’t know how I got this far without it.

April 23rd, 2008, 12:41 am


Qifa Nabki said:


Me too. It works wonders for the complexion.

April 23rd, 2008, 1:13 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Look out Bondo, the Joos are after you. We control everything and we will deal with you. We are really evil and will soon take your blood and make Matzah from it. If I were you I would sleep with the lights on.

April 23rd, 2008, 1:27 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What Bondo is doing has cost the lifes of millions of Jews throughout history. The founder of your church, Luther, said similar things about the Jews and there is good evidence that it was a basis for the pogroms and the holocaust.

This time around we are not going to take any shit. You want to play this game, be prepared to suffer the consequences. This is not a threat, it is a promise.

April 23rd, 2008, 1:37 am


Akbar Palace said:


I’m not much for Blood Matzah. It’s very messy (the crumbs get everywhere) and not very tasty. I much prefer the special “Purim Cookies”. There’s a very good recipe toward the rear of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. I’ll have to the nearest Saudi funded madrassa to find a copy. That means a long trek to DC.


April 23rd, 2008, 1:48 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What blood do you prefer in your Matzah, that of a boy or that of a girl? Perhaps we should ask Tlass what he thinks we Jews prefer.

April 23rd, 2008, 1:53 am


Enlightened said:

Another Israeli Girl:

I commend you for using wikipedia

“This time around we are not going to take any shit. You want to play this game, be prepared to suffer the consequences. This is not a threat, it is a promise.”

So is this part of your promise of not taking any shit?

EI exclusive: a pro-Israel group’s plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 21 April 2008


On a personal note, here is my recommendation, if your employers are watching and reading, I just want to tell them to please don’t waste their money paying you! Please send someone else along, who is far more articulate and intelligent, he has regressed to issuing threats over the internet!! (LOL) There was a time when some of us here had some respect for you AIG. That is slowly diminishing!

April 23rd, 2008, 2:01 am


Alex said:

Enlightened said:


Question: “Did I get edited for saying some Israeli politicians have been really ugly”?

: ) … yes.

I know you are joking, but most readers do not know who you are and they probably would have the wrong impression about you.

Qifa Nabki,

IDAF is indeed a grand father. But he is a Yogi, tennis playing grand father. Don’t underestimate him.

April 23rd, 2008, 3:54 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your whole “enlightened” schtick is worth nothing once you cannot see the difference between raving antisemitism and a rational discussion.

Let me spell out my promise so that even you can understand. You want to bad mouth the Jews and start blood libel agains? We are not going to shut up.

You seem to think I am threatning violence. That is just your antisemitic imagination. Who is talking about violence? But we are certainly going to organize to show that the people spouting these hateful messages are shown for what they are.

All this crap about the media in the US not showing a true picture or the Jews shutting people up is just another form of antisemitism. You are used to Jews accepting all the crap thrown at them without reacting. Well forget about it. Jews are going to use every legal means to show what the other side really is.

So stop complaining and hiding behind your “enlightment”. You are a drawer racist and you let loose your antisemitism when you are off guard. You are also of course a woman hater since you think calling me a girl is some kind of offense. You are enlightened as the Taliban.

April 23rd, 2008, 4:06 am


Enlightened said:

AIG: ( And you are as enlightened as Charles Manson)

You have just shown your idiocy! Truly!

AIG said:

Your whole “enlightened” schtick is worth nothing once you cannot see the difference between raving antisemitism and a rational discussion.

Yes My heart bleeds for you, you start fights with others, then label them anti semitic, you are quick draw Mcgraw!

Alert SC Contributors:

AIG is going to start his Anti Semitism Rant again for the umpteenth Time.

Looks like another banning on the way, any one care to place bets?

AIG: When it comes to being rational , lets be clear on one point, you are the least rational person on this blog! period

April 23rd, 2008, 4:27 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Care to explain why you tried to insult me by calling me a girl? Care to explain why you would think I would be insulted by that? Of course you won’t care because you can’t. All you can do is throw personal insults and hope I will be banned.

Oh, why don’t those Jews shut up? Don’t they know their place? Let’s ban them.

April 23rd, 2008, 4:36 am


Enlightened said:

Check several posts ago why you were labeled a girl!

I will answer your question when you answer why you have labeled me Anti Semitic!

April 23rd, 2008, 4:41 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You do not even understand that trying to insult somebody by calling him a girl shows what you really think about girls. It shows you are a woman hater which it seems you don’t even realize. I would be proud to be a girl. I appreciate the women I know just as much as I appreciate men I know.

You are apparently also in the dark about why you are an antisemite. You use arguments about some Jews to draw a bad picture of all Jews. You did not even check with other sources if the SPECIFIC wikipedia article was accurate. You could have asked for another reference. But no, you decided to attack Jews with a questionable article that has much less credibility than the wikipedia entry.

April 23rd, 2008, 4:51 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Did you read the article you referenced and its supporting material?

There is nothing secret about the project and its about ACCURACY. These are the instructions:
“Since people here have strong views and strong ties with CAMERA my
advice is: Stay away from this article for at least 6 month – work on other articles, slowly go into Israel realted articles, in these
articles present a view that has to do with Accuracy and for keeping Wikipedia policies in order to make the Wikipedia project BETTER.”

This is another completely legitimate organization of Jews that you are demonizing. Anybody can organize such a group. Do it yourself. There is nothing secret or illegal about it. Yet you demonize it, care to explain why?

April 23rd, 2008, 4:59 am


Shai said:


If Enlightened’s comments regarding ugly Israeli politicians was edited, why weren’t mine??? You are treating us unfairly again! 🙂


Good Morning (we never seem to be online at the same time…)

Look, let’s assume that you’re 100% right about Israeli intentions, and that at its core, our leadership, our government, and even our people, don’t really want peace. That we’re still after more land, more resources, etc. And that indeed Israel and its leaders will only make peace if the US pressures us to do so. I’ll go along with that.

But then, why can’t Bibi be pressured or forced to make peace, just as you claim Begin was? What I’m suggesting, is that a hardline politician on the Right (Likud) is more likely to get 50.1% of Israelis to support any such (U.S.-based) initiative, than someone on the Left. By definition, if Barak, or Olmert, or Livni bring up the possibility of withdrawing from the West Bank or the Golan tomorrow morning, the entire Right will be against them, and some on the Left as well. But if Bibi was to suggest exactly this, almost by definition the entire Left would support him, and quite a few of the Right. So he’d achieve majority support far sooner than any other leader might. The Israeli people still listen to Israeli leaders first, before listening to George Bush, or Barack Obama. So it has to also happen here, to our public. All I’m suggesting, is that Bibi can probably deliver any such “peace” better than his political rivals can.

As for peace with Syria first, sidelining the Palestinians, legalizing the occupation “forever”, etc. I think this argument is completely irrelevant. As I’ve mentioned before, you’ll recall, no peace will occur between Jews and Arabs until the Palestinian issue is resolved (in its totality, including the refugee problem). So this so-called “peace” with Syria is clearly a superficial peace, or a formal end to war with Syria, as a positive step in the right direction. I’ve said before that if I thought we could deliver right now with the Palestinians, I would be for that before Syria. But since we can’t, and please believe my Israeli perspective that we, right now in Israel, can’t and shouldn’t deliver anything to/with Abu Mazen, then why wait with the obvious remaining step of withdrawing to the 1967 lines on the Golan as well? There is an opportunity that’s knocking on our door for the past 3-4 years, our own leaders aren’t taking it, Assad is almost “begging” us to take it, and you’re also against it? Are you more on Olmert’s side, than on Bashar’s?

Peace with Syria will NOT legalize anything about our occupation, or about the Palestinian problem. Many thought like you, with regards to peace with Egypt and with Jordan. Have those two made the Palestinian problem forgotten, or legal? The opposite – Israelis see what kind of “peace” we have with both nations, and know why it is the way it is. Plus, unlike Egypt or Jordan, Syria and Bashar at its helm, have REAL abilities to influence both sides, Israel and Palestine, in our conflict. He, unlike Sadat or Hussein, really CAN help bring us together and solve our issues once and for all. So why not enable that to happen? Why be so afraid? Why not seize the moment? Because behind all this “peace talk” there is no sincerity, no intention to really deliver? Then like Assad said, “Call My Bluff”! Let’s let Israelis and Syrians and Palestinians sit together, and let’s call their bluff (or Shai’s).

Btw, ask Alex, or many others here, what they think about this. I dare say most agree with me, on this issue. Most do not see a superficial “peace” with Syria as a first step sidelining the Palestinians, or legalizing our occupation.

April 23rd, 2008, 5:34 am


Enlightened said:

You idiot!

The link was posted earlier by T! Read further up!

I repasted it!

Why don’t you read the emails properly! Before You start spitting out your usual Anti Semite Diatribe! Anyone to cares to disagree with you and your methods gets labeled.

You were equally quick on the pasting of: at:

April 23rd, 2008, 1:37 am


But you are right AIG: The only demonizing of Jews on this site is really done by you. You are the one doing them a diservice NOT ME!

April 23rd, 2008, 5:40 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Personal insults again?
Why did you repaste it then? Care to explain? So what if T pasted it. By repasting you showed your support for it and you are as muck on the hook for it as T.

What I pasted is an ACCURATE wikipedia article that anyone with basic knowledge of history would not dare dispute. What you pasted is an article that demonizes a legal organization of Jews.

And what about your woman hating? Do you now understand why calling me a girl shows that you are a woman hater?

April 23rd, 2008, 5:47 am


Shai said:


Don’t mean to reign-in on your engagement with Enlightened, but starting a back-and-forth argumentation that uses mutual generalizations is probably not very useful. Of all the people you’ve come across on SC, I’d say Enlightened is certainly not an antisemite. He might be a woman-hater, though I doubt that as well… He is, like many others, fed up with Israelis and Jews who are quick to the draw with the “antisemitism” card whenever they hear something negative about Jews. You cannot possibly compare Enlightened to, say, Bondo.

If we really are going to “not take any shit” from anyone, let us at least be able to tell who’s friend and who’s foe. Enlightened, as much as he lives Down Under (a land created for and by… criminals…) is no foe.

April 23rd, 2008, 5:54 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I disagree with you. Enlightened has clearly used specific examples of certain Jews doing something to reach conclusions about all Jews, very much in the same way as Simo. He also denies the Jews the right to organize and voice their opinions based on what he repasted.

Show me where I made a generalization in my argument with him, and I will retract it.

How is it not clear to you that since he views calling someone a girl as an insult, that he does not have a very high opinion of girls? That he views them as lesser to men?

April 23rd, 2008, 6:00 am


Enlightened said:

Sorry AIG:

“And what about your woman hating? Do you now understand why calling me a girl shows that you are a woman hater?”

I forgot to answer your question, if you imply that you are a woman, yes I am a woman hater”

I will seek counselling!

Furthermore this more accurately reflects you:

“The word “martyr” is also used ironically in casual conversation to refer to someone who seeks attention or sympathy by exaggerating the impact upon himself of some deprivation or work”

Henceforth You shall be Known as AIG The Martyr (someone who seeks attention or sympathy by exaggerating the impact upon himself of some deprivation or work”)


True a land created by criminals for criminals (lol) your lucky I have a sense of humour!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:02 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Just to be clear, I don’t want him banned or censored. I just reserve the right to point out his racism.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:02 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Closet antisemitism is hard to hide for long just as woman haters are exposed eventually. Your insincere jokes are not enough to hide the qualties anybody reading your posts will easily find.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:05 am


Shai said:


I actually didn’t go into the articles to see what they say, and even if Enlightened used an article that seemed clearly antisemitic to you, at best it was insensitive, at worst, foolish. But he may have meant something else as well – ask him. I don’t think that by bashing CAMERA to high heaven one is necessarily generally against Jews organizing. I don’t particularly find AIPAC’s or Peace Now’s actions and policy beneficial to Israel on many occasions, yet I’m not against their existence.

And this “girl issue” is a silly comment he keeps teasing you with, based on an earlier comment you made, nothing more. Both of you are quickly sinking into the realm of personal insults, of which it is almost impossible to withdraw. I suggest just ending with either a clarification on both sides, or just “G’day” and “Yom Tov”. But Enlightened is no antisemite, “trust me”… 🙂

April 23rd, 2008, 6:08 am


Enlightened said:


“The only percieved closet anti semitism is a figment of your imagination, no matter how many times you say it, it is not fact!

# Emergence of surprising or warded-off memory or fantasy images
# Frequent reality checks
# Last vestige of insight as hallucinations become “real”
# Fantasy and distortion elaborated upon and confused with actual perception
# Internal-external boundaries destroyed and possible pantheistic experience

take some anti hallucinatory tablets, you might find they might help in your condition!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:09 am


Shai said:


What are you gonna do – throw a Koala at me? 🙂 I love the Aussies, and their “criminal” mind. And for all those who thought I was serious about by-and-for criminals… I wasn’t! It was a joke!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:10 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You think he is a fool, I think he is an antisemite. You know what? We may both be right.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:11 am


Enlightened said:


I know I am kidding!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:15 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I don’t say that you are an antisemite, I argue for it based on what you repasted and your arguments. It is clear for anyone to see.

Shai patronizes you and tells me you didn’t understand what you are pasting. I disagree with him. You understood and decided to repaste it anyway.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:15 am


Shai said:

Yalla both of you – take chill pills – and call me in the morning!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:16 am


Enlightened said:


You are a Idiot of the highest caliber. Seriously! End of Conversation!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:17 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

So now you are going to tell the Jew when the conversation is over because you cannot make a reasonable argument? Let me remind you that those days are over. I know accepting that for closet antisemites is hard but maybe one day you will get used to it.

Accept responsibility for what you paste and be prepared to defend it. If you can’t, then retract it. But not willing to do either just shows your prejudice.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:22 am


Enlightened said:

I don’t say that you are an antisemite,

I know accepting that for closet antisemites is hard

Closet antisemitism is hard to hide for long !

Enlightened( thinking)

Is he in the closet? or out of the closet? or just a cross dresser who goes in and out of the closet? Or just a cross dressing Anti semite?


No AIG is confused! Uses Anti Semite quite frequently with out any justification.

Ok! Bondos’ and Simmos turn next when they turn up!

Thanks for the entertainment AIG!

April 23rd, 2008, 6:33 am


Alex said:


I have a better idea. Come back next week… and when you come back I won’t tolerate your “Syrians are cowards, and Syrians treat women like shit”, and Enlightened hates women, and Enlightened is an anti Semite …

Today you just displayed the most incredible talent for acting in the most repulsive way… forbidding people here from criticizing a a propaganda organization. In my personal opinion, you are acting like an online thug … trying to scare people from criticizing your favorite propaganda groups by implying that criticizing them is equivalent to antisemitism:

“What you pasted is an article that demonizes a legal organization of Jews.”

This is equivalent to some Arab here telling you:
“What you pasted is an article that demonizes a legal organization of Muslims.” … after you link one of the many article syou and Akbar Palace regularly link to show the Arabs here how backward and evil they are.

I won’t bother with your other threats above because those were simply silly, not serious.


Please joke with people who have a similar sense of humor. I don’t think you and AIG are successful joking partners.

Bondo (when you wake up)

Sorry, but … No more criticizing “Jews”. Period.

Not directly, and not indirectly. As I told you before, you can criticize Israel or any other country’s actions as much as you want. But this blog is not the place to tell people stories about Florida Jews stealing newspaper coupons.

I really don’t have the time these days to monitor the blog except for a couple of hours per day. If I see more aggressive statements against people from any religion or ethnic background, I will simply ban whoever is doing that.

Unless if Joshua has the time to monitor the comments section and can take one comment at a time .. 24 hours a day.

Until then … all of you, please send me an email if it gets out of control again.

AIG, come back April 29th after you calmed down.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:45 am


Alex said:

At least some good news … seems a bit more serious this time

مصادر دبلوماسية لـ شام برس : نجحت الوساطة التركية واردوغان ابلغ دمشق ان اولمرت يقبل بانسحاب اسرائيلي كامل من الجولان مقابل السلام مع سوريا
مصادر دبلوماسية لـ شام برس : نجحت الوساطة التركية واردوغان ابلغ دمشق ان اولمرت يقبل بانسحاب اسرائيلي كامل من الجولان مقابل السلام مع سوريا

شام برس.. خاص..
افادت مصادر دبلوماسية لـ شام برس أن رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب اردوغان أبلغ دمشق أنه تلقى
موافقة رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي أيهود أولمرت بالانسحاب الاسرائيلي الكامل من الجولان مقابل تحقيق السلام مع سوريا. وكان الرئيس بشار الأسد قد أعلن في كلمة له أمام اللجنة المركزية لحزب البعث أمس الاول ، أن بعض الأصدقاء يبذلون جهوداً لإعادة المفاوضات بين سوريا وإسرائيل. وأكد الأسد أن سوريا لم ولن تدخل في أي مفاوضات سرية ولن تقوم إلا بالتفاوض بشكل علني ليعرض كل شيء على الرأي العام السوري.
واشترط الأسد أن يكون معيار أي تفاوض هو الجدية والإعلان المسبق عن الالتزام بتنفيذ قرارات الشرعية الدولية.

Translation (for Shai): according to diplomatic sources, Champress (Syrian online news site) Turkish prime minister informed the Syrians that Prime minister Olmert now is willing to return the Golan Heights in full in exchange for peace with Syria.

But we’ll see if it gets denied in Israel tomorrow : )

April 23rd, 2008, 7:03 am


Alex said:

Report: Olmert tells Assad Israel will cede entire Golan for peace
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Israel, Golan Heights, Syria

Syrian news agency “Sham-Press” reported Wednesday morning that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has relayed a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad affirming that he agrees to a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for peace with his nation.

According to the report, the message was passed on by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose mediation met with great success.

Sharm-Press is an independent Syrian news agency affiliated with the Damascus regime, and is believed to be a relatively credible source.
The report comes after a series of recent signals from Damascus relating to ongoing contacts with Israel. On Sunday, Assad said that, “friends are making efforts to renew negotiations between Israel and Syria,” speaking before the Bath party’s central committee. He repeated that Syria’s position is that it will not hold secret talks with Israel.

On Monday, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said Assad is “eager” to restart negotiations with Israel over the Golan Heights and believes that 85 percent of the differences between the two countries have already been resolved.

Speaking to reporters following talks with officials in Syria and Egypt, Carter said: “In all my conversations with President Assad, whom I’ve known since he was a college student, I was impressed with their eagerness, complete the agreement on the Golan Heights.”

According to Carter, Assad said that “the only major difference in starting good faith talks was that Israel insisted that there will be no public acknowledgement that the talks were going on when Syria insisted that the talks would not be a secret.”

April 23rd, 2008, 7:20 am


offended said:

I wonder what’s the use of this ‘bala ta3meh’ meeting in Kuwait on the Lebanese issue?
Wasn’t there an Arab initiative in the first place? Why deviate from that and create confusion and alienation? Oh, maybe this is the alternative, more moderate Arab summit that should address the American concerns in the region?
And of course, Syria was not invited to the meeting. And I don’t think the Syrians were distressed that they were kept away.

April 23rd, 2008, 9:22 am


offended said:

Foreign secretaries of : USA, France, Italy, UK, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi and the UAE attended the meeting.

You know what, I think this thing will backfire; if the Lebanese issue gets too much exposure to the international community. We might end up with pressure for the (one person, one vote) solution. Not quite the one the 14 marchers want….

April 23rd, 2008, 9:25 am


Shai said:


Thank you for the translation, and the article. Indeed, the past 24 hours have been quite dramatic here in Israel. Just about every type of media is reporting extensively on the leak. Tons of politicians, analysts, reporters, you name it, are interviewed on radio, TV, online (including Alon Liel), and here’s the breakdown, more or less: Without exception, the entire Right is crucifying Olmert. On the Left, some are calling it irresponsible. And, in his OWN party, Kadima, at least one MK came out saying that Olmert has no right to do so. In other words, a general outcry which at best calls Olmert “irresponsible”, and at worst… you know. In the meantime, Olmert is vacationing with his wife and another couple on… the Golan – how appropriate – and until this very moment, is not denying it. My guess, he’s waiting to see how key politicians will react, knowing full well that 70% of the public is currently against the idea. He won’t be able to escape talking to the media for long, and will likely formulate his response in the coming day or two.

If true, my guess is we’ll see substantial developments on the direct-talks realm. And, likewise, the tough battle of changing public opinion will now begin. Personally, I’m not very optimistic (given that’s it’s Olmert at the helm), but we have to give it a chance.

April 23rd, 2008, 4:10 pm


Alex said:

Thanks Shai,

I agree with you.

Opposition from Washington is not the only thing holding Olmert from starting those talks. A majority in Israel is still against this peace deal with Syria.

Trial balloons perhaps.

April 23rd, 2008, 4:23 pm


Alex said:

Top MK seeks immediate referendum bill on Golan pullout
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
Tags: Israel, Golan Heights, Syria

Head of the Knesset House Committee MK David Tal on Wednesday said he intends to accelerate the passage of a bill requiring any withdrawal from the Golan to be dependant upon a national referendum.

Tal spoke after a Syrian news agency reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered Damascus a full Israeli withdrawal from the territory in return for peace.

Tal, a member of Olmert’s own Kadima party, said he would push for the bill to be legislated immediately after the Knesset plenum returns from its current recess.

“Evacuating the Golan Heights will pump Hezbollah forces into the region, who will make the lives of the residents of the North miserable,” Tal said.

April 23rd, 2008, 6:19 pm


Enlightened said:


The situation yesterday did test my patience, but this is the favourite tool of people Like AIG, no amount of sincere criticism can be tolerated, and this criticicsm does not invoke any form of racism, but only dialogue, and he is quick to pull out the anti semitism card.

They try and cower people into submission when they have lost an argument, I have never been one here to falsely accuse any religion or ethnic make up of anything.

It is best left alone. However lets not let the actions of AIG, cloud any of us as we have two good commentators from the other side who are not going to pull out the anti semitic label, if they here valid criticism (Shai and Akbar).

Anyway I asked my wife, if she thought I was a woman hater last night, she looked at me perplexed and then burst out laughing! Oh well no need to waste money on therapy then!

April 23rd, 2008, 11:17 pm


Shai said:


I think AIG meant to say that you’re a womanhater-hater (ya’ani, hater of those who hate women). I am one too… And when my wife bursts out in laughter, I usually know I’ve done something wrong… 😉

April 24th, 2008, 5:09 am


Post a comment

Neoprofit AI Immediate Venture