The Syria Comment Hall of Fame

Posted by Qifa Nabki

Well, the results are in. Using several supercomputers and a sophisticated algorithm, two researchers, Bala Manyake and Amtihke Jad, with the Stockholm-based think tank SADDANA (Society for Advanced Data Analysis) have been able to determine the addiction level of different contributors to Syria Comment's discussion pages. If you've ever wondered just how serious your habit is, you can finally put a figure on it. (Note that these figures only reflect levels of addiction since September 2006, when the site moved to its current home at WordPress. Prior case history cannot be ascertained.)

Category A: Total Number of Comments

Grand Order of the Mulukhieh (2300+)

1. AnotherIsraeliGuy = 2319 comments

Esteemed Order of the Shish Tawouq (2000-2300)

2. Alex = 2047

Noble Order of the Kafta bi-Tahini (1000-2000)

3. Ausamaa = 1396

4. Norman = 1372

5. Qifa Nabki = 1345

6. Shai = 1173 

Honorable Order of the Mujaddara (500-1000)

7. Akbar Palace = 962      

8. Offended = 752           

9. Ehsani2 = 712             

10. Enlightened = 668 

11. Naji = 613 

12. Why-Discuss = 605

13. T_Desco = 518

14. SimoHurrta = 517

15. Ford Prefect = 509 

National Order of the Falafel (100+)

16. Honest Patriot = 481

17. Wizart = 452

18. Atassi = 384

19. MSK = 374

20. Majhool = 334

21. Zenobia = 331

22. Observer = 311

23. Nour = 267

24. IDAF = 242

25. Nur al-Cubicle = 235

26. Innocent_Criminal = 181

27. Joshua = 172

28. trustquest = 131

29. Bashmann = 129

30. KingCrane Jr. = 54


Category B: Frequency of Comments (per day)

Benefactor (over 5 per day)

1. AnotherIsraeliGuy = 8.6

2. Shai = 7.8 

Patron (2.0 – 4.9 per day)

3. Naji = 4.8

4. Qifa Nabki = 3.7

5. Alex = 3.2

6. Ausamaa = 2.2

7. Norman = 2.2 

Sustainer (1.0 – 1.9 per day)

8. Akbar Palace = 1.5

9. Honest Patriot = 1.2

10. Offended = 1.2

11. Enlightened = 1.1

12. Ehsani2 = 1.1

13. Why-Discuss = 1.0 

Donor (0.5 -0.9)

14. Majhool= 0.9

15. Ford Prefect = 0.9

16. Nour = 0.8

17. SimoHurrta = 0.8

18. Wizart = 0.8

19.  T_Desco = 0.8

20. MSK = 0.7

21. Atassi = 0.6

22. Observer = 0.6

23. Zenobia = 0.5 

People who have a life (0.1-0.4)

24. Nur al-Cubicle = 0.4

25. IDAF = 0.4

26. Innocent_Criminal = 0.3

27. Joshua = 0.3

28. trustquest 0.2

29. Bashmann = 0.2

30. KingCrane Jr. = 0.1 

Comments (134)

Shai said:


Great Idea! Hmmm…. I wonder why no one’s commenting yet… Fearing it may say something about us? Perhaps… that we have no life??? 🙂 Please do not share these figures with my wife or daughters… They wouldn’t be amused.

But, like a diet, I think I’ll stop making more than one comment per day, for the next 2-3 months at least. Are those who made it into the “Noble Order of the Kafta bi-Tahini” members for life? I still have my Golden Key National Honor Society MasterCard, since 1990(!)… Any thoughts in this direction, Alex?

June 21st, 2008, 7:00 pm


Alex said:

Good job QN.

Sorry, I can’t write much … eh … I’m at work. Working on a weekend like I always do … Ya3ni, I’m busy.

: )

June 21st, 2008, 7:13 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What about all my posts that were erased?

June 21st, 2008, 7:24 pm


ausamaa said:

OH GOD, not only will “he” and “his” freind get both a salary raise, but they will be more motivated to contribute more and more.

Just what we need…

June 21st, 2008, 7:34 pm


Shai said:

Ausamaa, am I the “he” or the “his”? 🙂 And btw, we don’t get a salary raise, we get a bonus. A raise means higher taxes. QN, remind me the account details…

June 21st, 2008, 7:36 pm


ausamaa said:

OH GOD, not only will “he” and “his” freind get both a salary raise, but they will be more motivated to contribute more and more. But if they are sooo interested, what can one do?

Just what we need…!!!

Thanks go to QN everyone. Dont you people forget!

June 21st, 2008, 7:36 pm


ausamaa said:


When you finish being busy, any recommended sites on private banks and or articles and serious critique (appraisal) on opening of new banks and insurance laws in Syria for Gulf investors? International sources?! NGO sources?


June 21st, 2008, 7:41 pm


ausamaa said:


Of course not you. I find your analysis and approach very sensible and constructive.

Hint, hint, they both start with an A (and end nowhere!), and it is not Alex or Attasi..

June 21st, 2008, 7:50 pm


Shai said:

Ausamaa, please forgive me… it’s been a long weekend here with the girls… 🙂

June 21st, 2008, 7:52 pm


Alex said:


Sorry I did not reply last time. I thought Trustquest answered your question.

I’ll try, but I think IDAF probably can help you better… my specialtyis, as you know is mostly neocons, AIPAC, Saudi media, and formerly, M14 democracy advocates.

: )

June 21st, 2008, 8:02 pm


Alex said:


You forgot Wizart !

June 21st, 2008, 8:05 pm


offended said:

Great job. I didn’t think for a moment that you could find a better resource than bala manayakeh agency!

It’s time we start nicknaming each other!

And since I came up with the idea, I will start by imparting one to the head of the list of addicts; Another Israeli Guy:

AIG from now on is going to be nicknamed:

Drum roll please….




The Resident Katsa!

June 21st, 2008, 8:21 pm


Mazen said:

Alex, QN,

AIG was asking about all the comments that were not posted. Oh my God, 8.6 comments per day. Wow. Let’s just say 10 per day, counting in all the ones he’s complaining about, let’s just say you spend and average of 15 minutes per comment, reading and then writing your own comments. I think this is really not far off, because you have to read and then respond, and it takes me more than 15 minutes to do that, every time I enter the forum.

AIG, we’re talking 2.5 hours per day, man!! Day in and day out. Including weekends!! That’s 17.5 hours a week!! You really have such dedication to spreading democracy in Syria. Gotta hand it to you.

Hey, whoever is paying AIG, I really think he deserves a raise and a bonus.

June 21st, 2008, 9:10 pm


Innocent_Criminal said:

this is hilarious and a great idea. The post nearly cheered me up after watching Holland get their butts kicked by Russia.

June 21st, 2008, 9:34 pm


Zenobia said:

absolutely brilliant, and so hilarious.

but I have to say that I think that I really would be a Mujadarra except that I spent two thirds of the year 2007 over in Syria without internet or at maximum a crap connection – thus not commenting most of the time.

Very good work QN.

this is obviously AIG’s full time job, and he is clearly enjoying it.

June 21st, 2008, 10:51 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Shai, I promise not to tell your wife and family, if you don’t tell mine. 🙂

AIG, that doesn’t include the ones that were erased! And, we should keep in mind that your frequency count would be even higher if you weren’t banned for a total of about a month. Wow.

Everyone else, please remind me if I missed someone. I will add Wizart right away. Something tells me he will be up there….

Ausamaa, you’re welcome. 😉

June 21st, 2008, 11:57 pm


Majhool said:


You almost have a life.

June 22nd, 2008, 1:30 am


Enlightened said:


Walla enta Shater!

I had to sneak out of MY SC rehab to comment as I have been making fair and good progress in trying to cure my addiction, I have to commend you as Mujaddara is my favourite meal with either a salad or tabouli or Fatoush on the side, hence you were fairly spot on in your appraisal.

Congratulations AIG! ( The grand order of the Mulukhieh, my mum makes a pretty mean mulukhieh dish slow cooked for eight hours)
Although your commentary is interesting as it is provocative and entertaining.

Shai and HP (my soul brother in arms) wel have to try harder to beat AIG this coming year.

Akbar and Ausamma ( I think if you trace your lineage you will find that you two are related )

Alex the Keeper of the Keys to the Holy SC Gate.

Anyway back to Rehab I was going great for the last three weeks , back to square one!

June 22nd, 2008, 1:32 am


trustquest said:

I think the site of Dr. Nabil Sukker will be a good start for what you mentioned.
He has the Syrian consulting bureau for investment and development.
He has the necessary links for public sites.
He is a relative of my wife and he is very respected consultant, he might ease your excitement to a reasonable levels about investing in Syria ). But still I wish you luck. but who am I to tell you this, I’m somenone who has a life on QN list!

June 22nd, 2008, 1:50 am


why-discuss said:

Great idea!
As I prefer Mulukhieh to Mjadra, I’ll make a special effort for now on to improve my score

June 22nd, 2008, 3:14 am


Enlightened said:

Some Comedy: From Angry Arab

“A student from the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva built a crude rocket and fired it from a nearby hill at a Palestinian village in the West Bank, security officials said Friday. No one was wounded.” I would not be surprised if the student is offered a chair in Middle East studies at a U.S. university very soon.
Posted by As’ad at 9:05 AM

June 22nd, 2008, 3:24 am


Majhool said:

ياسين الحاج صالح : الخميس/19/حزيران/2008 النداء:

الجريدة الكويتية اليوم

ليست الضغوط الخارجية ولا وجود أراض سورية محتلة ولا وعورة البيئة الإقليمية هي التي تحول دون تقدم سورية أو انصلاح أحوالها السياسية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية والتعليمية. ما يشل البلد ويعوق تراكما مثمرا فيه هو التمركز المفرط لنظامه حول ذاته، أو أولوية النظام، أمنه وبقاؤه وسلامته وسيطرته الكلية، على كل شيء آخر. بمهمة عليا من هذا النوع سينظر إلى الاقتصاد والتعليم والإدارة والثقافة، والتسوية مع إسرائيل، من زاوية انعكاساتها المحتملة على المركزية المطلقة للنظام في الحياة العامة السورية. فإذا كان من المحتمل أن يتسبب إصلاح اقتصادي مثلا في تعريض أمن النظام واستقراره لخطر جدي اتجه التفضيل الغريزي للنظام نحو تأجيل أو إلغاء أو تعديل الوجهة الإصلاحية، ما يفقد الإصلاح اتساقه الضروري ومردوده المرغوب. فلا ينجز ما قد يجز إلا وقد استحال شيئا آخر، لا تأثير إيجابيا له على المشكلة التي يراد إصلاحها أو ربما ضاعفها.

وينبع من مبدأ أولوية السلطة أن الاقتصاد ليس قطاعا مستقلا، وأن الحاجة إلى الإصلاح الاقتصادي لا يجري تقييمها باعتبارات اقتصادية واجتماعية مستقلة عن المصلحة الذاتية والحصرية لنخبة السلطة العليا. هذا يعوق بلورة سياسة اقتصادية متسقة وذات مفعول تراكمي.

وقبل ذلك هذا ينطبق على الإصلاح السياسي، الأمر الذي يفسر أن النظام لم يكف عن الوعد بقانون أحزاب طوال السنوات الثماني الماضية دون أن يقدم على إصداره. يفسر أيضا الفائض الأمني غير العقلاني الذي تميزت به سورية طوال عقود ثلاثة على الأقل، نالت خلال عقدين منها (ثمانينيات وتسعينيات القرن الماضي) المرتبة الثانية في سوء السمعة عربيا بعد عراق صدام. بل إن مثل ذلك يقال على التفاوض السوري الإسرائيلي، الذي لا يرتاب معلقون كثيرون في أن دافعا مهما من دوافعه هو إعادة تطبيع النظام في المعادلة الإقليمية، والالتفاف على الأطراف العربية التي تدهورت علاقاتها بالنظام في السنوات الثلاث الأخيرة، السعودية ومصر بالخصوص.

وتفسر أولوية النظام على كل ما عداه أن بلدا متنوعا في هيكل موارده وتكوينه الاجتماعي، وكان من أكثر البلدان العربية تقدما، تعليميا واجتماعيا واقتصاديا وثقافيا قبل جيل واحد أو أزيد قليلا، هو بلد يتخلف اليوم عن أكثر البلدان العربية على مستويات متعددة. وجوهر المشكلة يتمثل في أن نوعية الأولوية المذكورة تمنع استقلال الصعد الاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية والتعليمية والإعلامية.. بعقلانيات قطاعية تخص كل منها. علما أن اختصاص الاقتصاد والتعليم.. بعقلانيات واستقلال ذاتيين هو شرط التراكم، وبالتالي التقدم، في هذه المجالات.

قد يقال إن الوضع اليوم مختلف قليلا. إنه كذلك بالفعل.

يتلامح اليوم مركزان للبلد لا مركز واحد: مركز سياسي أمني، ومركز اقتصادي اجتماعي. لكن عدا أن التغير الاقتصادي الجاري في سورية محاب للبرجوازية الجديدة التي تكونت في كنف النظام وتحوز نفاذا واسعا إلى مراتبه العليا، فإن المركز الاقتصادي لايزال ضعيف التشكل، وأكثر أيضا ضعيف الاستقلالية.

ورغم أن الطبقات أكثر ظهورا على العموم، فإنها معزولة سياسيا لاتزال. فهي «طبقات في ذاتها» وليست «طبقات لذاتها»، إن استعرنا المصطلحية الماركسية ذات الأصول الهيغلية. وتبقى السمة البنيوية للنظام سمة نظام تسلطي، ذي غريزة بقاء حساسة ومتضخمة. والخلاصة أن سورية لم تكد تتقدم لأنها طوال نحو أربعين عاما كانت تقف على قدم واحدة، النظام وأمنه الذاتي، الأمر الذي يجعل حركتها عسيرة كل العسر وبطيئة كل البطء. فإن كان لها أن تتقدم فعلا، اقتصاديا واجتماعيا وثقافيا، فسيتعين عليها السير على قدمين. وهذا يقتضي استقلالية أوسع للاقتصادي والاجتماعي والثقافي عن السياسي، وكذلك كسر المطابقة بين السياسي والأمني أو التمركز المفرط حول السلطة. ويبدو لنا أن الإصلاحات الاقتصادية الجارية في البلد ستصل سريعا إلى حد لا تتجاوزه دون مساس بهذه المركزية المتصلبة، فالنمو الاقتصادي ذاته يقتضي إصلاحا قضائيا جديا، أي استقلالا حقيقيا للقضاء عن النظام السياسي، وذلك من أجل البت المنصف في النزاعات المحتملة. ومعلوم أن في سورية تعددية قضائية تتعارض مع مبدأ العدالة (قضاء استثنائي وقضاء عادي ودور قضائي للأجهزة الأمنية)، هذا في حين أن العدالة وظيفة سيادية، ينبغي أن تكون واحدة حتما.

ومن جهة أخرى يستوجب النمو الاقتصادي أيضا درجة واسعة من حرية الوصول إلى المعلومات وتداولها للعموم، وهو ما تظهر السلطات السورية حذرا مفرطا حياله، يشهد عليه التضييق الشديد على شبكة الإنترنت. في الحالين تتعارض مقتضيات النمو الاقتصادي مع متطلبات النظام الذاتية، ولا نتصور أن هذا الشرط ممكن الاستمرار لزمن طويل، فإما يتجمد التحول الاقتصادي وتعود معدلات النمو المتحسنة في الأعوام الثلاثة الأخيرة إلى الانخفاض ويعم الركود مجددا، وإلا فلا بد من إعادة النظر في المركزية المفرطة لأمن النظام وبقائه. وأولا في ميداني القضاء وتداول المعلومات.

وإذا كان للتحول الاقتصادي الليبرالي الذي يستجيب لدواعي التنمية أن يستجيب أيضا لمقتضيات العدالة والتوازن الاجتماعي فلابد من تحرير المبادرة الاجتماعية وحرية التنظيم، النقابي والسياسي.

فهذا ما قد يمكّن جمهورا تتراجع سيطرته على شروط حياته اجتماعيّا واقتصاديّا بعد أن كانت متراجعة سياسيا منذ عقود، يمكنه من الدفاع عن نفسه.

أما المثابرة على الجمع بين تحرير اقتصادي وتسلط سياسي فهو وصفة للانفجار الاجتماعي. هذه عبرة يستخلصها المرء من أحول بلدان سبقتنا على هذا الدرب. لا خصوصية سورية في هذا المجال حتى لو كان كل شيء يوحي بالهدوء حالياً

June 22nd, 2008, 3:53 am


norman said:


I made the cut , I guess my wife is right to call me an addict to Syriacomment,

By the way QN ,

Do you think that the Doha agreement is dead?.

June 22nd, 2008, 4:53 am


Shai said:


Let’s make a deal – you won’t tell my wife, and I won’t tell yours… It’ll be easier to make peace, than to explain why I’m on SC so much… 🙂

June 22nd, 2008, 5:12 am


Alex said:

شيراك يقاطع احتفالات العيد الوطني الفرنسي بسبب وجود الأسد

باريس: لا قمة سورية إسرائيلية و الجانبان سيكونان على نفس الطاولة
باريس: ميشال أبونجم دمشق: سعاد جروس

دخل الرئيس الفرنسي السابق جاك شيراك امس على خط جبهة المعارضة لمشاركة الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد في الاحتفالات بالعيد الوطني الفرنسي، اذ نقلت وسائل اعلامية فرنسية عن مقربين منه أن شيراك لن يشارك في احتفالات الرابع عشر من يوليو، وربطت غيابه عن هذه المشاركة التقليدية العالية الاهمية الى حضور الأسد ولو ان الرئيس السابق لم يعلن ذلك مباشرة.

وقالت راما ياد، وزيرة شؤون حقوق الإنسان إنها «تتفهم» موقف شيراك الذي «كانت تربطه برئيس الوزراء اللبناني السابق رفيق الحريري علاقات شخصية». من جانب اخر، قالت مصادر فرنسية رئاسية إن باريس «لن تشهد لقاء قمة» بين الأسد رئيس الوزراء الاسرائلي ايهود أولمرت «رغم أنهما سيكونان الى الطاولة نفسها في القمة المتوسطية.

June 22nd, 2008, 6:56 am


Alex said:

Another excellent opinion piece from Zvi Bar’el

Just when we were tying our shoes
By Zvi Bar’el

There are short moments like these. Rare ones. As one turns the kaleidoscope, slowly and carefully, among the scenes we have seen hundreds of times, something surprising appears: a new shape, still flickering and not yet clear, but with promise. As long as our hand doesn’t shake and make the image disappear.

So these are the scenes in general terms: Israel is negotiating with Hamas; Egypt is minding the border with the Gaza Strip; the negotiations with Hezbollah are reaching a conclusion; there is “significant progress” in the Israel-Palestinian Authority dialogue, according to the prime minister; Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has made it clear that Bashar Assad will not shake Ehud Olmert’s hand in Paris, but they will sit around the same table; the head of the new government in Lebanon has declared that there will be no direct negotiations with Israel. In other words, indirect negotiations are an entirely different matter.

Even Shaba Farms, that troublesome sliver of land Hezbollah has used to make threats, may be lifted from the conflict.
The natural inclination under such circumstances is to offer warnings and be wary. With Hamas the deal is temporary, with Syria it is not yet mature because Damascus wants, at best, to receive better treatment from Washington.

Hezbollah will come up with a different excuse for war against Israel, the Palestinian Authority lacks a charismatic leadership capable of implementing agreements, and in Lebanon – get serious – who is there to talk to? But not only the future is hopeless; a look back suggests that for the past 41 years we have done fine – thank you very much – without peace with Syria, Lebanon or the Palestinians, and this does not even include the years before the occupation. So why change old habits?

Actually, the cease-fire with Hamas explains the need for change. Because, with the exception of Jordan and Egypt, Israel has been in a condition of temporary cease-fire with its neighbors. In a systematic way, the country’s citizens were trained to believe that this is the peak of expectations they can aspire to.

The lack of confidence in the neighborhood is so entrenched that it has managed to push into a dark corner the Arab states’ historic proposal to reconcile with Israel, normalize relations, and provide it with a safety belt. Six years after the signing of the Arab initiative in Beirut, Israel still believes in cease-fires more than in better relations.

The changes taking place in the Middle East are passing it by. The Arab states, like Israel, see Iran as a threat, Hezbollah is seen as hostile by countries that have no ties with Israel, the infamous “no’s” of the Arab League conference in Khartoum are disappearing from the Arab lexicon, and most Arab regimes are preoccupied with countering radical Islamic terror in their own territories, not with preparations for war with Israel. But all this is not considered to be genuine change, just camouflage for hidden agendas.

A cease-fire is not only the most stable and recognizable thing – it is theoretically also cost-free. It does not require recognition of Hamas, nor a pullout from the Golan Heights, or giving up territory in the West Bank.

The feeling of constant emergency and danger is perceived to be an acceptable price, especially when the public is blind to the terrible economic and cultural cost of a state of emergency.

For example, even if the cease-fire with Hamas lasts six months or five years, even if Syria does not fire a single shot toward Israel during the next decade – as it has not done for the past three and a half decades – in Israel the slogan “the IDF is prepared for any eventuality” will persist. This permanent state of alert costs a fortune, even though that same IDF is not really ready for war in the Gaza Strip, just as it was not ready for war in Lebanon. It is highly doubtful whether the people are ready for another war.

When cease-fire tactics replace political strategy, it is no surprise that just when events combine to create an opportunity for change, Israel is busy doing something else – like tying its shoes and not paying attention. Because whoever really wants to move forward on peace with Syria must prepare public opinion for a pullout from the Golan Heights, and the ones who are really intent on peace with the Palestinians must prove that they are determined to remove outposts, or at least prevent new construction in the territories or lift some of the roadblocks.

The truth is that there is no one to complain about. It’s as if it’s the devil’s work: Just when an opportunity appears on the horizon, there is no prime minister in Israel.

June 22nd, 2008, 7:08 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Ammo Norman

I don’t think it’s dead… yet.

June 22nd, 2008, 10:42 am


wizart said:


Thanks for keeping track although the quality of posts matter too.

452 comments for a freakin Falafel partly explains why there’s no peace just yet! We must put a higher value on peace to societies..

Foreign peace requires real food! I’m seeking a super-sized seafood paella with a red Golani bottle of wine and a month-long trip to Fjordland to further help me/us try to lubricate the peace process and/or to regenerate the creative energy needed for it.

Falafel is such a low ball offer. Good Mujaddara while exploring Scandinavia would be much more appropriate. I might settle for a Gold coast trip w/ Kafta in case peace doesn’t materialize soon.


Thanks for the Falafel;)


You deserve a good desert after the Moujadara since you often represent the only voice of women courageously reaching out across enemy lines trying to build safer grounds for all unborn children.


She has a life I believe although I can’t speak on others’ behalf.


A pressure cooker needed to cut down cooking time for mlukieh unless it’s made to be eaten AFTER a peace negotiation session with the Israelis in which case time wouldn’t matter as much 😉

Internet addiction may contribute to marriage difficulties only when there are no kids, otherwise blogging’s a safe escape route!

June 22nd, 2008, 1:08 pm


Akbar Palace said:


I think you might get a kick out of this article. I especially found the following statement a bit humorous:

“Poland is the 51st state,” one former CIA official recalls James Pavitt, then director of the agency’s clandestine service, declaring. “Americans have no idea.”

Where have I heard that claim before?;)

June 22nd, 2008, 1:12 pm


wizart said:

Healthy Returns – How to Live Longer (report from Barrons)

MY AUNT AND GREAT-AUNT were both pushing 102 when they died. I figure I stand a decent chance of getting there, too — and when I do, I’ll try not to gloat. As Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study, told me, living to 102 simply “won’t be as great an accomplishment for you.” That is, compared with my aunts I’ve lived a privileged life health-wise. In addition to my presumably good longevity genes, I’m enjoying the benefits of childhood vaccinations, anti-smoking campaigns throughout my school years, antibiotics and, of course, Lipitor. So are you.

The longer you live, the longer your life expectancy. At his birth in 1950, a white male had a life expectancy of 66.3 years. When that man turns 65 in 2015, his life expectancy will have stretched to 77.8 (nearly the same as a baby born in the United States in 2006). And if he makes it to 85, his life expectancy will be 89.4 years. A white woman born in 1950 may do even better and can expect to live to age 80 if she reaches 65 and nearly 90 if she reaches 85.

Boomers are hoping to keep their bodies and minds agile as they age. New tests, treatments and exercises can help.

Numbers like that have left baby boomers hoping to far outdistance their original life expectancies — and to minimize the chronic diseases of aging. Living to 90 or 95 with an agile mind and only a brief illness before death — that’s the ticket. It can make for either a glorious retirement or a fulfilling professional life after 65, as many are planning.

Get a Coronary Scan

“We can pick up coronary artery disease 20 years before you need bypass surgery or have a heart attack,” says David A. Fein, medical director at the Princeton Longevity Center in Princeton, N.J. While cholesterol levels can be telling, a coronary CT scan to determine your calcium score, or how much calcium is in the plaque that lines blood vessels in your heart, is a better predictor of heart disease and stroke risk, says Fein. By a certain age most of us have some plaque, and calcium specks in plaque suggest that a person is at higher risk for a coronary “event” than someone whose plaque contains no calcium.

The predictive value of coronary calcium scoring was demonstrated in a study of more than 6,700 men and women published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March. Compared with people who had the lowest (best) calcium scores, those with the highest scores had 10 times the risk of angina, a heart attack, or death from coronary heart disease. A coronary-calcium scan, runs between $300 and $600; insurance coverage varies. You’ll be exposed to X-ray radiation equivalent to the background radiation you’d normally get during the course of a year just walking around.

Exit the Road to Diabetes

Diabetes, which affects more than 20% of people over age 60, is the antithesis of healthy aging and reduces life expectancy by up to 15 years. Diabetes greatly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, eye and kidney disease, and limb amputations. A study of more than 5,100 people published in an early, online edition of the July 1 Annals of Internal Medicine demonstrated a link between diabetes and hearing loss, with 21% of diabetics experiencing at least mild hearing loss, compared with just 9% of non-diabetics of the same age.

Your doctor can tell if you’re at risk by determining whether you have metabolic syndrome — a cluster of problems including excess abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance or glucose intolerance, a tendency to make blood clots, and high blood levels of C-reactive protein, or CRP. Early medication and lifestyle changes can delay the onset of diabetes, or prevent it.

Find Your Inner Fat

Body fat comes up frequently in health discussions, but not all body fat is created equal. There is subcutaneous fat, which lies just under the skin and is harmful mainly because of the extra pounds it represents, and there is visceral fat, which packs the spaces around abdominal organs and has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

People with lots of visceral fat often have high levels of CRP, which is associated with heart disease. Visceral fat is very strongly associated with metabolic syndrome, according to results from the widely respected Framingham Heart Study that were published last year in the journal Circulation.

It’s impossible to tell the difference between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat from looking at a person; even slim people can carry lots of visceral fat. So doctors are increasingly ordering scans. “A single CT image through your abdomen is all I need to find out which type you have,” says Fein, whose center is renowned for its comprehensive “executive physicals.”

The remedy for visceral fat: a low-carbohydrate diet, an exercise program and possible dietary supplementation.

Parliamo Italiano!

We hear a lot about how aging brains benefit from “brain training” — learning a new language, or taking up a musical instrument, or playing certain types of video games. But does reality match the hype?

“I’m skeptical about these programs,” says Harvard-based geriatric psychiatrist Deborah Blacker. She explains that the evidence that they specifically prevent or delay dementia is flimsy. “Keep active doing something that you like rather than something that someone has marketed to you,” says Blacker. By all means learn Italian if you want to converse with the locals on your next trip to the Mediterranean, but don’t take up the violin if you don’t have a real desire to learn.

Cabaret artist Marilyn Maye is a case in point. She appeared on the Johnny Carson show 76 times, and at age 80 (looking 65), she still maintains a hectic performance schedule. She runs her own business — from contracts and travel to rehearsals, choreography and lighting. And that may help keep her going. “I live in the details,” she says.


Your internist has battered you with advice to help lower your risk of heart disease, but now Alzheimer’s experts are singing the same song. “The measures we take to improve cardiovascular fitness, including the control of blood pressure, cholesterol, body weight, and increased aerobic exercise, also prevent dementia. This is a win-win,” says Harvard’s Blacker.

“At a minimum, the damage done to your brain by Alzheimer’s is additive with the damage done by vascular disease,” she explains. “These processes may even be synergistic, with vascular disease worsening the changes caused by Alzheimer’s.”

“The evidence that cardiovascular fitness reduces the risk of dementia is so strong that I advise people to really push themselves in this area,” Blacker says. “Even if you don’t like to exercise, the benefits to your brain make the effort well worthwhile.”

Mind Your Bones

Since exercise is so vital to continued good health, you’ve got to ensure that you can continue. Hip and other fractures sideline older people and often mark the beginning of a permanent decline. That’s why men — not just women — should consider getting tested for osteoporosis. “As many as 40% of our male patients aged 40 and older have low bone density that predisposes to fractures,” says Fein. “One third of these have low testosterone levels. We bring that up to a normal level, and we recommend calcium, vitamin D, weight-bearing exercise and weight training, just as we do in women.”

Pay attention to your joints, too. “Do flexibility, range of motion and joint-strengthening exercises so you don’t end up in a wheelchair or in need of multiple joint replacements,” advises Houston-based podiatrist Jeffrey A. Ross. He recommends yoga and Pilates, along with swimming, walking and biking. Runners and walkers, he adds, should have a foot or sports-medicine specialist analyze their gait for biomechanical problems that could lead to hip, knee or ankle damage. Wearing prescription orthotics now could prevent pain and disability later.

Your Choice: Eat or Drink Your Polyphenols

Evidence has been building for 20 years that at least in some animals, extreme caloric deprivation triggers a process that curbs degenerative aging. Most people would find the amount of required caloric restriction (about 30%) too hard to maintain. But scientists have found that a chemical called resveratrol, famously present in red wine, may mimic the effects of caloric restriction.

Earlier this month, Richard Weindruch, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute on Aging, and colleagues published a study in the online journal PLoS One showing that resveratrol may delay aging in mice at lower doses than previously thought. “No other nutrients that I’m aware of have the ability to increase maximum life expectancy in mice. It’s striking,” says Weindruch. The findings, he adds, suggest that resveratrol and other polyphenol compounds “have the ability to oppose multiple aspects of aging.” Some good sources of polyphenols: coffee, black tea, apples, wheat bran and cherries.

Lighten Up

What can we learn from the very old? Thomas Perls of the New England Centenarian Study, a Boston University project billed as the largest-ever study of centenarians, says people who live to 100 and beyond know how to keep their cool. “They use a lot of humor in their daily lives and are gregarious,” he says. “These characteristics help them develop important social networks, which do two things: They provide a social safety net and keep people mentally stimulated, which is incredibly important.”

A study to be published in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health supports this, showing that cognitive function is preserved when women have large social networks. “Men may not get quite the same lift, probably because women are better networkers,” says lead author Valerie Crooks of Kaiser Permanente, the nonprofit health-care plan. Women make up 85% of centenarians.

Gentlemen, start your networks. And we’re talking poker nights and bowling, not corporate computers.

June 22nd, 2008, 1:30 pm


Nur al-Cubicle said:

I applaud the Awards Committee for their tireless work!

June 22nd, 2008, 3:46 pm


Shai said:

I’ll second Wizart’s “wize” words. And he’s very right about blogging with kids (although I normally go online after they go to sleep…)

June 22nd, 2008, 4:44 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Hizballah is renegging on the prisoner swap deal. It seems they were scared from the Shebba farms issue and their weapons becoming a main issue in the Lebanese elections. This way they still have the prisoners. Even though this will not help them much. All Israel has to say is that it agrees to exchange all Lebanese prisoners for all Israeli ones and Hizballah will be in a bind.

In any case, by the 2009 Lebanese elections we will know where Hizballah really stand.

June 22nd, 2008, 7:43 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

The Two Israels
The New York Times
June 22, 2008

HEBRON, West Bank

To travel through the West Bank and Gaza these days feels like traveling through Israeli colonies.

You whiz around the West Bank on new highways that in some cases are reserved for Israeli vehicles, catching glimpses of Palestinian vehicles lined up at checkpoints.

The security system that Israel is steadily establishing is nowhere more stifling than here in Hebron, the largest city in the southern part of the West Bank. In the heart of a city with 160,000 Palestinians, Israel maintains a Jewish settlement with 800 people. To protect them, the Israeli military has established a massive system of guard posts, checkpoints and road closures since 2001.

More than 1,800 Palestinian shops have closed, in some cases the doors welded shut, and several thousand people have been driven from their homes. The once flourishing gold market is now blocked with barbed wire and choked with weeds and garbage.

“For years, Israel has severely oppressed Palestinians living in the center of the city,” notes B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, in a recent report. The authorities, it adds, “have expropriated the city center from its Palestinian residents and destroyed it economically.”

Rima Abu Aisha, a housewife in Hebron, has the misfortune of living in an area near the settlers. When she went into labor, an ambulance could not get the appropriate permissions in time and the baby died, she said.

Even if the Hebron settlement were not illegal in the eyes of much of the world, it is utterly impractical. The financial cost is mind-boggling, and the diplomatic cost is greater.

Perhaps greatest of all is the cost for any hope of a peaceful settlement: the barriers and checkpoints have undermined Palestinian moderates like President Mahmoud Abbas and have empowered Hamas. Polls show that two-thirds of Palestinians now approve of terror attacks against civilians in Israel, up from 40 percent in 2005.

The Palestinians are committing national suicide as well. By turning toward the zealots of Hamas, and toward the short-term thrill of sending rockets into Israel, they are building a tombstone for their state before it is even born.

Americans who haven’t toured the West Bank or Gaza recently may not appreciate how the new security regime of the last few years is suffocating, impoverishing and antagonizing Palestinians.

In the village of Ein Bani Salim, a farmer named Khalifa Danna pointed to his field, separated from his house by a barbed-wire fence that Israel built in 2004. Since then, he has been unable to get to the fields. Mr. Danna shows photos he has taken of Israeli settlers on his land — even using it to throw stones at him.

B’Tselem is giving video cameras to Palestinians to document the attacks and abuses they suffer. Just this month, a Palestinian woman near Hebron used a camera to record a group of four settlers clubbing her family in a field; two settlers were later arrested.

The settlers see the issue very differently, emphasizing the continuing Palestinian attacks on them and noting that the security steps were put in place only in reaction to Palestinian terrorism during the second intifada a half-dozen years ago.

“If people are trying to actively wipe you out and kill your people, then you have to take security measures,” says David Wilder, a spokesman for the settlers in Hebron. “If that antagonizes them, they should stop trying to kill us.”

So the chasm grows wider and peace more distant.

It is here in the Palestinian territories that you see the worst side of Israel: Jewish settlers stealing land from Palestinians (almost one-third of settlement land is actually privately owned by Palestinians); Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints because Israeli soldiers won’t let them through (four documented cases last year); the diversion of water from Palestinians. (Israelis get almost five times as much water per capita as Palestinians.)

Yet it is also here that you see the very best side of Israel. Israeli human rights groups relentlessly stand up for Palestinians. Israeli women volunteer at checkpoints to help Palestinians through. Israeli courts periodically rule in favor of Palestinians. Israeli scholars have published research that undermines their own nation’s mythologies. Many Israeli journalists have been fair-minded toward Palestinians in a way that Arab journalists have rarely reciprocated.

All told, the most persuasive indictments of Israeli actions come from Israelis themselves. This scrupulous honesty and fairness toward Israel’s historic enemies is a triumph of humanity.

In short, there are many Israels. When American presidential candidates compete this year to be “pro-Israeli,” let’s hope that they clarify that the one they support is not the oppressor that lets settlers steal land and club women but the one that is a paragon of justice, decency, fairness — and peace.

June 22nd, 2008, 8:08 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

My plan to blog less seems to be working, as my name appears nowhere on any of these lists. Yet I am disappointed. Why?

I guess I really wanted to win the Fatta Betenjan prize.

But I’m trying to finish writing a sprawling family novel about a bunch of Lebanese villagers and their American cousin (does it sound familiar?) so I have to blog less.

Glad you guys love “talking” to each other so much. I wish there were an ‘ahweh in a DMZ or neutral zone where you could all meet for sheesha and coffee with cardamom. I would go there, anywhere, just to listen in on the conversation. (and for the coffee – no sheesha for me, thank you)

We should all thank our kindly host, al-Ustaz ad-Doctor Joshua Landis, Abu-Kendall, for making his blog open to us all. He is as generous as a true Arab with his gracious hospitality. No other salon on the internet can boast of such warmth and tolerance and wonderful food. (Mjadderah, Kafta-bi-Tahini, shish-tawouq and so on). Alf shukr, ya Abu-Kendall!

June 23rd, 2008, 4:24 am


Alex said:


When I went to a real Ahweh with Abu-kendall, he pretended he is going to the washroom, but instead he went inside to pay the lunch bill… like a real Arab, as you said.

June 23rd, 2008, 6:47 am


Alex said:

Ready for peace? — Shlomo Ben-Ami

… peace with Syria could be a major building block in a wider Israeli-Arab settlement, and consequently of a more stable Middle East, though it is unrealistic to expect that Syria would automatically sever its special relationship with Iran in exchange for the Golan Heights. These are peace talks, not a defence treaty, and Syria would not abruptly disengage from its Iranian friends.

But good relations between an Arab state at peace with Israel and Iran are not necessarily a bad thing. Syria’s stance might limit, rather than extend, the reach of Iran’s strategy of regional destabilisation.

As always, much will depend on America’s readiness to move away from military solutions and rigid ideological imperatives and instead embrace the pragmatic culture of conflict resolution. A US-backed Israeli-Syrian peace could transform the strategic environment, potentially drawing other Middle East spoilers into a system of regional cooperation and security. —DT-PS

Shlomo Ben-Ami is a former Israeli foreign minister who now serves as the vice-president of the Toledo International Centre for Peace. He is the author of Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy

June 23rd, 2008, 7:10 am


Akbar Palace said:

Qifa Nabki cuts and pastes an article by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (I still don’t understand why links aren’t used for articles):

In short, there are many Israels. When American presidential candidates compete this year to be “pro-Israeli,” let’s hope that they clarify that the one they support is not the oppressor that lets settlers steal land and club women but the one that is a paragon of justice, decency, fairness — and peace.

In short, settlers aren’t stealing land and very few are clubbing women. Actually, Israel has withdrawn from land (Lebanon, Gaza and many parts of the West Bank, only to be rewarded by missile attacks from the areas she has withdrawn from.

This fact is always a bit undersold from the anti-Zionists and their anti-Jewish allies.

June 23rd, 2008, 11:30 am


norman said:


What do you think?.

ع حصيلة الاشتباكات في لبنان إلى تسعة أشخاص

ارتفعت حصيلة الاشتباكات بين الموالاة والمعارضة اللبنانية في شمال لبنان إلى تسعة أشخاص.


June 23rd, 2008, 12:34 pm


norman said:

06/23/2008 01:07 PM

Assad’s Risky Nuclear Game
Syria and Iran may be better friends than many thought. Reports indicate that the two might have been cooperating on nuclear weapons research. Now, though, Damascus may be rethinking those ties and looking for friends in the West.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad (L) in February 2007. Is Syria looking for new friends?
Things are taking a dramatic turn in Syria these days, just as a team of United Nations nuclear weapons inspectors arrive to probe allegations that Damascus is hiding secret atomic activities. And as information emerges that Syria may have been cooperating with both Iran and North Korea on the development of nuclear weapons.

Yet even as pressure increases on Damascus, many Western leaders see a chance that Syrian President Bashar Assad may sever contacts with Iran. Indeed, some say that Assad’s decision could determine whether or not new war in the Middle East could be on the horizon.

Assad, as a result, is being courted as never before. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is pursuing talks with the Syrian leader. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has invited him to Paris and even the usually critical Bush Administration would like to improve contacts. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has made it clear that he wants to intensify peace talks with Damascus, and is no longer refusing to discuss the issue of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel during the six-day war in 1967.

The background to this surprising flurry of diplomatic activity is the fact that, according to intelligence reports, Syria has been working alongside North Korea for years to support Iran in the development of a military nuclear program. However, there are strong indications that Assad is now rethinking this policy.

According to intelligence reports seen by SPIEGEL, the Syrian facility at Al Kibar that Israeli jets bombed last September was the site of a secret military project. The report states that North Korean, Syrian and Iranian scientists were working side by side to build a reactor to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Sources say that the Iranians were using the facility as a “reserve site” and had intended sending the material back to Tehran. While the Iranians had made great progress in the development of uranium, it is alleged that they required the help of the North Korean experts when it came to plutonium technology.

Iran, Syria and North Korea are also alleged to have cooperated on the production of chemical weapons. Indeed, in July 2007 an explosion near the Syrian city of Aleppo killed 15 Syrian military officials as well as dozens of Iranian rocket scientists and, according to information obtained by SPIEGEL, three North Koreans. According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the accident released quantities of mustard gas and the nerve agent Sarin.

Meanwhile weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Syria on Sunday to investigate whether the bombed site at Al Kibar was in fact a nuclear facility, something Damascus has vehemently denied. Although the inspectors face strict limits on where they can go, the fact that Syria is allowing the inspectors in at all is a sign of something of a thaw between Damascus and the West.

Assad’s attitude seems to have become far more conciliatory. As well as allowing in the IAEA team, he has used his contacts with Hamas to persuade the Palestinian militant group to call a six-month cease-fire with Israel in Gaza. And he has used his influence to rein in Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. The fact that he has said he would consider opening an embassy in Beirut is also a significant sign that Syria is at last recognizing Lebanese sovereignty after years of treating the neighboring state as little more than a province.

Assad’s moves are now being rewarded, with the West welcoming anything that would further isolate Tehran. Sarkozy has invited the Syrian leader to visit Paris for Bastille Day, when Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert will also be in attendance. The French president has one precondition: He has demanded that “Syria break as much as possible with Iran in its quest to develop a nuclear weapon.”


June 23rd, 2008, 12:36 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Slowly but surely many Lebanese are waking up to the true nature of Hizballah.

June 23rd, 2008, 12:40 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Once again, the reason for posting entire articles is because some links expire very quickly, esp. on the NY Times site.

June 23rd, 2008, 12:42 pm


norman said:

Syria is moving to help the people who need help not everybody,

مديرة صندوق المعونة الاجتماعي: الصندوق سيعين الأشد فقرا وليس المواطن العادي الاخبار الاقتصادية

“ليس من مصلحة العراقيين والفلسطينيين الاستفادة من هذا الصندوق لأنهم قد يخسرون منح أخرى”

قالت مديرة المشروع الوطني لصندوق المعونة الاجتماعية ليندا عبد العزيز في حديث مع سيريانيوز إن “صندوق المعونة سيستهدف الشرائح الأكثر فقرا والأقل دخلا الذين لا يستطيعون تلبية حاجاتهم الأساسية”, مشيرة إلى أنه “لا يجب أن يفهم أن الهدف من الصندوق, الذي سيبدأ تقديم الإعانات في العام 2009, هو رفع المستوى المعيشي للمواطن السوري عموما”.

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

وأضافت عبد العزيز أن “هذا الصندوق جزء من شبكة الأمان الاجتماعي التي تعتزم الحكومة تطبيقها لتقليل الآثار السيئة للانتقال إلى اقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي”, مشيرة إلى أنه “جرى تحديد 110 معايير مرتبطة بالواقع المعيشي للمواطن السوري سيتم من خلالها تحديد الفئات المستهدفة من الصندوق”.

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.

واستبعدت عبد العزيز أن يكون هناك أي تحديد “مزاجي” للفئات المستفيدة من الصندوق, لكنها أشارت إلى أن “هامش الخطأ وارد, ونحن نسعى إلى تضييقه قدر الإمكان من خلال وضع المعايير الموضوعية للفئات المستهدفة”.

وحسب هيئة تخطيط الدولة, تبلغ نسبة الأسر الأكثر فقرا حوالي 11.3% من الأسر السورية.

وفي ما يلي الحديث الكامل مع مديرة صندوق المعونة الاجتماعية:

ما الهدف من تأسيس صندوق المعونة الاجتماعي وما هي الفئات التي يستهدفها؟

هو عبارة عن شبكة أمان اجتماعي ضمن حزم الأمان الاجتماعي التي تعتزم الحكومة تطبيقها للتقليل من الآثار السيئة لتطبيق اقتصاد السوق الاجتماعي على الشرائح الأشد فقرا والأقل دخلا وبالتالي تمنع تدني المستوى المعيشي لهذه الشرائح التي لا تستطيع تلبية حاجاتها الأساسية, وأريد أن أشير إلى شيء هنا أن اسم الصندوق تغير من الرفاه الاجتماعي إلى المعونة حتى لا يفهم منه أن الصندوق سيتوجه إلى غير الشرائح ذوي الفقر المدقع, ومع ذلك لا زال الكثيرين يظنون أن مهمة الصندوق رفع المستوى المعيشي للمواطن السوري بشكل عام.

ما هي آليات الاستهداف وكيف سيتم تحديد المواطن المستحق للإعانة؟

إن تحديد آلية الاستهداف يعني من هو مستحق الإعانة وكيف يمكن الوصول إليه, ونحن درسنا في هذا الصدد التجارب الدولية لآليات الاستهداف المختلفة وتمكنا من تحديد أكثر الآليات موضوعية بما يتناسب والواقع السوري حيث تمت أقلمتها مع هذا الواقع بالنظر إلى مستوى المعيشة وخارطة الفقر بحيث تمكننا من تغطية أكبر نسبة ممكنة من الفئات الأشد فقرا, وقد وصلنا إلى أكثر الآليات أهمية وهي آلية اختبار محددات الدخل التي يتم من خلالها تحديد مجموعة العوامل المرتبطة بالوضع المعيشي مثل مستوى التعليم مكان السكن الوضع العائلي الوضع التشغيلي وما إلى هنالك من هذه العوامل.

كما تم اعتماد حوالي 110 من المتغيرات الأكثر ارتباطا بالمستوى المعيشي حيث سيتم إعطاء كل هذه المتغيرات أوزان على أساس أنها تعكس المستوى المعيشي للأسرة ثم يتم حساب معدل الإنفاق في الأسرة.

وهذه الآلية هي الأكثر موضوعية من خلال استبعاد أي تقييم مزاجي قد لا يوصل الإعانات إلى مستحقيها.

كيف وجدتم الواقع المعيشي في سورية من خلال دراستكم له؟

إن خارطة المستوى المعيشي في سورية بينت أن هناك تفاوتا كبيرا في المستوى المعيشي حسب المناطق والتوزع الجغرافي للسكان في سورية, فقسمنا سورية إلى أربع مناطق وأخذنا بعين الاعتبار الاختلاف بين أهل المدن والريف, مثلا من لديه مستوى تعليمي معين في الريف ليس كمن لديه نفس المستوى التعليمي في المدينة لأن فرص ابن المدينة للعمل دائما أكثر وأكبر, لذلك فإن التباين الجغرافي بين المناطق السورية أخذ بعين الاعتبار.

هل تعتقدون أن المعايير والآليات التي وضعت كفيلة بإلغاء التدخل “المزاجي” والوصول إلى المستهدفين؟

هناك دائما هامش للخطأ بحيث قد تصل المعونة إلى شخص لا يستحقها أو أن شخصا يستحق لكنه خارج تغطية الصندوق إلا أننا نسعى لتضييق هذا الهامش إلى أقل حد ممكن من خلال تشكيل قائمة بالمستهدفين بحيث لا يكون القرار من أي شخص حول من هو المستحق بل يكون التدخل الإنساني فقط في عملية التحقق من صحة البيانات حول هذه العائلة وإذا ما كانت تستحق الإعانة وذلك من خلال زيارات ميدانية لعمال اجتماعيين, ونحن في صدد إصدار القائمة النهائية لمستحقي الدعم من الصندوق.

ما هي مصادر تمويل هذا الصندوق؟

إن تمويل الصندوق كاملا سيكون من ميزانية الدولة بحيث تحدد الحكومة حجم ميزانية الصندوق ويتم على أساسها وضع سيناريوهات الاستهداف بما يجعل هذا الصندوق يتميز بالمرونة, لكنا في المقابل نستطيع تقديم تصور لاحتياجاتنا وفقا للبيانات التي وصلنا إليها إلى الحكومة بحيث يتم أخذها بعين الاعتبار عند تحديد الميزانية, وليس بالإمكان وضع ميزانية مفتوحة من قبل الدولة فالصندوق وجد من أجل التوجيه الأفضل للموارد إلى الناس الأفقر وهناك أموال تدفع من قبل الدولة على الدعم وبهذه الطريقة يتم إيصال بعض من أموال الدعم الحكومي لمستحقيه الفعليين من الناس الأشد فقرا والأكثر هشاشة.

لماذا لن يتم إطلاق الصندوق قبل بداية العام 2009 على الرغم من تصريحات رسمية حول جهوزيته؟

إن الصندوق جاهز من حيث الأدوات, لكن حتى ننفذ آلية الاستهداف يجب أن نحضر آلياتنا التقنية قبل البدء بالعمل ويجب أن نعلم أن الأمور ليست ميسرة كثيرا بسبب بعض الممارسات البيروقراطية, إلا أننا نلمس بالمقابل المتابعة اليومية من قبل الحكومة لهذا الصندوق والمراحل التي وصل إليها.

وحسب تصريحات وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل ديالا الحج عارف المبالغ سيتم توزيعها في العام 2009, لكن يجب أن ننتهي أولا من تحديد الشرائح المستهدفة.

ما هي طبيعة الإعانات هل ستكون نقدية أم عينية؟

وفقا لمرسوم الصندوق من الممكن أن تكون الإعانات نقدية أو عينية لكن ما يخطط له أن العائلات المستحقة سيصرف لها مبلغ معين بشكل شهري أو ربعي أو نصف سنوي, مع إمكانية تحديد إعانات عينية عند الحاجة.

كيف سيتم تحديد مستفيدي الإعانات الدورية والإعانات الطارئة؟

يمكن تبيان ذلك من خلال أهداف الصندوق الثلاثة وهي أولا حماية ورعاية الأسر المستهدفة من خلال تقديم إعانات دورية أو إعانات طارئة حسب سياسات الدولة وبذلك نقدم المساعدة للمستهدف على المدى القصير والهدف الثاني هو الاستثمار في رأس المال البشري على المدى البعيد حيث نتعرف على الأسباب التي جعلته ضمن الشرائح الأكثر فقرا ثم نقوم بربط الإعانات بشروط تنموية بحيث لا يحصل المستهدف على الإعانة حتى يحقق متطلبات تنموية, أما الهدف الثالث هو تمكين المستفيدين القابلين للتمكين وجعلهم منتجين وبالتالي إخراجهم من الصندوق, أما المستفيدين غير القابلين للتمكين هم بحاجة للمعونة بشكل دائم ولا يمكن إخراجهم من الصندوق مثل المسنين جدا والمعوقين فيتم رعايتهم بالصندوق بشكل دوري.

من هي الجهة المسؤولة عن إدارة الصندوق؟

الصندوق له شخصيته الاعتبارية واستقلاله المالي والإداري كهيئة أو كمؤسسة يرأسه مجلس إدارة برئاسة وزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية والعمل.

هل سيكون الاستهداف للأسر أم للأفراد أم أن هناك وحدات اجتماعية أخرى؟

النظام مصمم أساسا لاستهداف الأسر بالاستناد إلى وجود دفتر عائلة لدى الأسرة لكن يبقى هناك هامش للحالات الخاصة التي تحدد وتدرس في وقتها من قبل القائمين على الصندوق.

هل الاستفادة من الصندوق حكر على السوريين أم يحق لغيرهم الاستفادة منه؟

يستفيد من الصندوق السوريون ومن في حكمهم أما حالات الاستفادة من جنسيات أخرى تترك للحكومة ولمجلس الإدارة, لكن في شكله الحالي هو موجه للسوريين ومن في حكمهم فقط.

ماذا بالنسبة للفلسطينيين والعراقيين المقيمين إقامة شرعية في البلاد؟

إن الفلسطينيين والعراقيين المقيمين في سورية يتلقون الإعانات من جهات دولية مانحة ومن وكالات الغوث المختلفة وتوجيه الإعانة لهم من خلال هذا الصندوق لن يكون في صالحهم لأن الجهات المانحة لهم ستعتبر أنهم يتلقون الإعانة ولا داعي لإعانتهم.

لوركا خيزران-سيريانيوز

2008-06-22 19:57:40

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June 23rd, 2008, 2:35 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

I want to add a category to “Frequency of Posting”, next to People Who Have A Life.

The Category is called Bil Mish-mish, for sweet-tart and juicy comments appearing intermittently. I nominate myself for this category.

Bil Mish-mish Comments

1. Leila Abu-Saba – when does she post? Bil Mish-mish!

June 23rd, 2008, 5:03 pm


Shai said:


Shlomo Ben-Ami is a smart guy, and I agree with much of what he says. But unfortunately he, like many others, are too heavily identified with “The Left” and, at the moment, that’s not a good thing. I’m glad to see Ma’ariv publishing a fair bit of pro-peace articles in recent weeks, because that newspaper speaks to the “average Israeli” much more than Ha’aretz does. What we need to see are a lot more people not easily identifiable with a particular camp come out and speak. Ex-generals, former heads of Aman, Shaback, etc. It looks now as if Olmert might be preferring new elections over stepping down and letting another Kadima member head the government (Livni, Dicther, etc.)

If that’s the case, then unfortunately we’ll probably see the talks coming to a stop in the near future, hopefully to be restarted by the next PM (Netanyahu?) But if the talks do proceed well, and both sides continue to feed the media with positive impressions, then I imagine more “experts” will come out and express optimism and their beliefs in the reasons for peace. At the moment, they’re probably adopting a wait-and-see stance, so as not to show their face too soon. Barak’s Labour party today met and voted for dissolution of the current Knesset, and they’ll vote on this bill next week in Knesset. Olmert threatened to fire any minister that votes “for”. So we’ll see what happens. The coming days and weeks will be crucial for our continued peace talks…

June 23rd, 2008, 5:40 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I’ve checked, and you are a member of the Order of the Falafel as well. (29 comments, 0.1 frequency)

Mabrouk! 🙂

June 23rd, 2008, 7:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

I came across this comment from my friend Alex, in the archives:

Time to go back to the old script that existed under Hafez Assad, Mubarak and King Fahd … three equals… Iran’s role can be limited to moderate influence in its neighboring Iraq at most (arguably a natural role to play), if the three Arab sides (Syria Egypt and Saudi Arabia) can go back to cooperating… hint hint to those who are investigating ways for reducing Iranian influence in the area.

Credit should be given where it is due, and so I’d like to recognize Alex’s reading for being more or less on point back in 2006. Syria is in the process of rejoining the Arab fold, with Bashar in a stronger position than he occupied when he first came to power.

Is he, today, on equal footing with Mubarak and King Abdullah? This is a difficult question to answer. What are we measuring? Strategic influence? Power-brokering ability? Military strength? Economic power?

June 23rd, 2008, 7:20 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

We are measuring the ability to agitate the Arab street and destabilize neighboring countries. Unfortunately, no one has yet been able to explain to me what are the other sources of Syria’s power.

June 23rd, 2008, 9:20 pm


Shai said:

AIG, to Israel, they are: political, financial, and military support of hezbollah, hamas, alliance with Iran, and possible nuclear aspirations. I think that makes Syria a serious enough player in the region, don’t you?

June 23rd, 2008, 9:39 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

As I said destabilizing its neighbors. The mafia in many places is also a serious player. So what?

June 23rd, 2008, 9:52 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The sources of power in the modern world that matter are economical. Syria has no economic power. This whole view of seeing Syria equal to Saudi Arabia is delusional.

June 23rd, 2008, 10:00 pm


Alex said:


Thanks for tolerating all of us here who are delusional.

June 23rd, 2008, 11:38 pm


Leila Abu-Saba said:

Qifa – thank you for checking. I am arrogant enough to create my own category and nominate myself for it (sort of like publishing one’s writing on a blog) but I am still humbly relieved to be included in the group here. Order of the Falafel it is! I secretly hate to be left out of things….

June 24th, 2008, 12:18 am


Qifa Nabki said:


I would agree that there is a difference between cooperation and parity. One the one hand, it does seem ludicrous to compare Saudi Arabia (in terms of its economic power and its investment targets) with Syria. On the other hand, despite all of this strength, it was unable to get its way entirely in Lebanon.

It’s not entirely clear to me what Syria “wants”. It is one thing to say that it wants to go back to being an equal partner with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but what exactly does this mean?

June 24th, 2008, 12:19 am


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Things changed.

Egypt’s role is not what it used to be… can you tell me what is that role?

I asked some old Arab journalists who still consider Egypt “Umm Eldunya” …. I asked them to point to Egypt’s leadership in the Arab world the past few years…. where is that leadership? … how did Egypt influence things in one direction or another?

Egypt is out.

But it can, and it probably will, be back.

Saudi Arabia has a leadership role (unfortunately) .. it is a role that is in constant state of confusion between the sectarian/liberal extremes … you can see it in the kind of TV stations and newspapers they own

Here is one type:

And here is another

The Kingdom is powerful … but when you are pulling in two opposite directions, things do not move anywhere no matter how powerful you are.

June 24th, 2008, 12:52 am


Qifa Nabki said:


First of all, I’m not entirely sure what “leadership” means in the Middle East. And this is not a rhetorical question. What does it mean, seriously?

Secondly, I don’t buy the argument that “when you are pulling in two opposite directions, things do not move anywhere no matter how powerful you are.” The U.S. and European societies are constantly pulled in myriad directions, and this has not affected their ability to “move” and be influential.

What does “leadership” mean, to you?

June 24th, 2008, 1:13 am


Alex said:

Lak ya Zalameh …. if you want to find answers, use the same two supercomputers that gave you the SC stats.

Ok, I’ll try to answer.

First, I just realized that I don’t really have a claer answer handy. But I’ll come up with one.

Back in 10 minutes.

June 24th, 2008, 1:18 am


Qifa Nabki said:


As you said, “things change”. 🙂

The supercomputers give me old answers… ya3ni answers that were current only when Egypt was still part of the troika leading the Arab world… ya3ni ancient history. 😉

June 24th, 2008, 1:31 am


Alex said:


First, I’ll quote from the Marsh 2007 edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit:

“The development of the three-cornered relationship between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria will have an important bearing on how the region’s various crises evolve.”

Most people agree that (if we put Israel’s special case on the side) Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran are today’s heavyweights in the Middle East’s various conflicts. Turkey is relatively influential too, and it will increasingly play a central role in the future (in my opinion at least).

But this is not enough to make them leaders.

Leadership has more prerequisites.

First, you need a vision … a direction. Especially a direction that appeals to enough people in the Arab world… maintaining national dignity for example.

Leadership can also be established when you can see things before everyone else can … Hafez Assad had a monopoly on that. He did not move an inch when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United States, France, Jordan, and all the Gulf Arabs put tremendous pressure on him for years and years because he did not stand behind their darling Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran.

Leadership comes also from demonstrating your ability to take on the perceived leader and win …When Sadat went to Jerusalem in 1977, Assad stopped the Arab world from following Egypt’s “leadership” … and he succeeded. Egypt was kept outside the Arab world for a decade .. until Assad accepted to let Egypt (the largest Arab country) back, in 1989


Leadership comes from being able to achieve results in the region … Syria was part of many different projects … like the coalition that liberated Kuwait … or like Ending the Lebanese civil war … at the beginning of that intervention, troops from many Arab countries took part next to Syrian troops .. but a year later they all disappeared. Only the Syrians tolerated 13,000 casualties before the civil was was over.

And fighting the 1973 war against Israel …

And supporting Hizbollah and Hamas .. winners, while the Saudis and Egyptians supported all the losers.

The Saudis have one vision … the wahabi sectarian anti-Shiite vision. This vision is appealing to some Sunni Arabs… but it does not reach a majority anywhere as we realized from different opinion polls… the Saudis are never popular.

Then you have the other Saudis … the “moderate” ones .. the liberals … like late King Fahd who wrote to Ray Close, CIA station manager in 1973 when he “had to” send Saudi troops to “help” Syria in the Golan. Here is what Ray said:

Similarly, I recall when Prince Fahd bin Abdal Aziz called me to a meeting very late one evening in the early days of the 1973 war and asked me to send an urgent personal message from him to Richard Nixon informing the president that he had felt obliged to contribute a brigade of Saudi troops to the Golan front to support the Syrian offensive there, but that he had personally instructed the commander of the unit not to fire a single shot. That, Fahd told me with considerable emotion and obvious sincerity, was his solemn promise to his American friend. Again, prudence, wisdom, and desire to maintain a traditional and mutually valuable relationship — motives that were not, I regret to say, received in Washington with the respect and appreciation that they deserved.

This is NOT leadership.

June 24th, 2008, 2:18 am


Qifa Nabki said:

First, you need a vision … a direction. Especially a direction that appeals to enough people in the Arab world… maintaining national dignity for example.

So what is Syria’s vision and direction?

Leadership can also be established when you can see things before everyone else can… Hafez Assad had a monopoly on that.

Ok. What about Bashar?

Leadership comes also from demonstrating your ability to take on the perceived leader and win …

This is a problematic definition for me, because it is circular. Leadership is about challenging the perceived leader and winning… Ummm, ok. What are the grounds on which you win?

The Saudis have one vision … the wahabi sectarian anti-Shiite vision. This vision is appealing to some Sunni Arabs… but it does not reach a majority anywhere as we realized from different opinion polls… the Saudis are never popular.

This also doesn’t make sense. I agree that there is a lot of zealotry in KSA and I’m not a fan of the Kingdom at all, but it’s not true to say that they have one vision.

I guess what I’m confused by, Alex, is: why would you want to be a leader? Who cares? Turkey is a good example. You say that it will play a central role, but that it is not a “leader”. But why should the average Turk care if his president or PM is a regional leader or not? Isn’t it far more important to him that his country and its political, economic, and social conditions prosper?

In an ideal world, increased regional clout would somehow translate into better internal conditions, but did this take place under Hafez?

June 24th, 2008, 2:39 am


Alex said:


1) Good things can not be achieved overnight : )

Since you still did not finish your Ph.D. … Can we say that you did achieve what you want?

2) Bashar also had vision … and he also predicted the right outcomes, and bet on the right players. He also managed to withstand unbelievable level of pressure for years …

3) When there is no regional competition, and when we have (one day) a settlement to the Arab Israeli conflict … I’ll be very happy to see Syria not being busy with regional power games… just like Turkey.

I AM a fan of Turkey if you noticed.

And Qatar too .. and Dubai.

The Emir of Dubai is another leader … he is admired by many Arabs… he is a visionary man … He is everything that the Saudis are not.

Money is not enough.

Wait and see what Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Dubai .. and hopefully Lebanon, will do … They can lead the region to prosperity and peaceful coexistence much better that the other failed “leaders”.

June 24th, 2008, 3:17 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Overnight results? How about 40 years? Is that enough time?

QN is asking good questions that you are sidestepping. Let’s assume that Syria and Israel sign a peace agreement and Syria gets the Golan back. What is Syria’s plan after that? What is its vision? And why does this vision have to wait till there is peace?

A leader is a person who takes care of his people. Has Bashar done that?

As for national dignity, would you accept a Candian prime minister that says: We will not have growth in Canada but we will stand up to the Americans? How long would such a prime minister last?

National dignitiy comes from GDP per capita and from development, both of which Syria is severly lacking for no good reason except failed leadership.

June 24th, 2008, 3:41 am


Shai said:

In this modern day of technology and high speed internet, the role of the middleman could be overrated. Many consumers and suppliers could reach one another directly, or via cyberspace, without the use of someone in the middle. True, there will always be a requirement for the middleman, but in many industries, his/her role is being minimized.

In Politics, however, the opposite may be perhaps be true. In days when the world is described as a global island, the political reality of nations is ever more complex, more interlinked and intertwined with other realities on the local, regional, and global levels. It is here that middlemen are needed, in brokering talks, in securing agreements, in breaking impasses, indeed in changing reality. In our region, Turkey and Qatar seem to be playing this role quite well in recent days. But there is another middleman that may soon be called upon, as it may be the only party capable of helping end the Israeli-Arab conflict. Syria is the only nation that may be able to deliver peace almost instantaneously on a number of crucial fronts – Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and, perhaps, Iraq and Iran. Syria, unlike anyone else, is trusted by most sides and can therefore bridge between parties that previously could never imagine such a possibility.

Syria could make peace talks between Israel and Hamas, and Israel and Hezbollah, possible. Syria could help limit Iran’s control in the region, by helping it get closer to the West. It can help calm the situation in Iraq, by brokering between the various warring parties, including America and Iran. But just as any middleman can indeed prove useful and essential, he too must be rewarded for his role. Making peace with Syria, and embracing rather than isolating it, should be the goal not only of Israel, but indeed of Europe and the U.S. A particularly useful middleman need not necessarily be rich (economically), sophisticated (technologically), or even politically up-to-par (democracy). But he does need to be persuaded to help play his role. Carrots and sticks are not the best way to do so. Carrots and carrots are a better way.

June 24th, 2008, 4:03 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria has the ability to support Hamas but not stop it. It can help Al-Qaida in Iraq but not stop it. And the fact is that Syria is not trusted by Israel, the US or March 14. So how can it play a middleman?

Furthermore, the middleman usually can give carrots to the participants, (that is why Syria wants the US as middleman and not turkey). Syria cannot give carrots, only threaten, and that is why, among other things it is not trusted.

If anyone can, only the US can solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, just as it brokered the peace treaty with Egypt.

June 24th, 2008, 4:17 am


Alex said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Overnight results? How about 40 years? Is that enough time?

hmm … I’m not sure. it depends how patient you are.

QN is asking good questions that you are sidestepping. Let’s assume that Syria and Israel sign a peace agreement and Syria gets the Golan back. What is Syria’s plan after that? What is its vision? And why does this vision have to wait till there is peace?

This vision can also move forward, at a slower pace, before peace with Israel. It is a vision for a secular, open Middle East where people can travel, trade, study or work wherever they want. If Israel is ready to get out of its fortified castle, then great. Otherwise, we’ll try to live with the rest of the people of turkey, Lebanon, Iraq …

A leader is a person who takes care of his people. Has Bashar done that?


As for national dignity, would you accept a Candian prime minister that says: We will not have growth in Canada but we will stand up to the Americans? How long would such a prime minister last?

National dignitiy comes from GDP per capita and from development, both of which Syria is severly lacking for no good reason except failed leadership.

You are speaking for yourself. The Saudis have the “GDP per capita” to your liking… But near-zero vision.

The same answer I gave QN … You can’t usually achieve good things overnight.

And Syria’s national identity is not as stupid and simplistic as “standing up to the Americans” .. that’s only the way AIPAC types like to portray it.

Sarkozy spoke to Bashar few times. Sarkozy was very impressed and influenced by Bashar’s advice …

The Saudis are furious (again) .. here is their leading journalist (Abdel Rahman ElRashed) today … he is telling Sarkozy: you idiot … “the Syrian Fox” tricked you.

Finally .. I am glad you mentioned Canada.

This Canadian prime minister was probably the most popular and most respected (and best known) of all Canadian leaders the past 50 years.

He was best known (and loved) for his ability to “stand up to the Americans”

I’ll leave you with the concluding paragraph from the link above:

“What remains unchallenged are Trudeau’s readiness to question widely held assumptions, his dedication to an independent foreign policy for Canada, and his commitment to peace.”

Sounds like Bashar’s “vision”.

June 24th, 2008, 4:23 am


Shai said:

AIG, Alex,

Boker Tov… Trusting Syria is a matter of decision, just as isolating or embracing her is. True, the U.S. is indeed necessary, to help Israel trust Syria and Syria trust Israel. But not so much as a middleman, as like a bank, serving as guarantor, and source of possible financial incentives. The U.S. will not negotiate on behalf of anyone. That’ll be done directly between the sides, as they have started to do so recently, and have in the past reached 80% of the way.

We can choose to continue the merry-go-round ride if we like, demanding Syria first meet up to our expectations (democracy, departure from “axis-of-evil”, etc.) but that does not serve Israel’s best interests because, in the meantime, we are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by forcing Syria to continue to side with our enemies. This is why Syria is powerful – it can either be a cunning and dangerous enemy (even if indirectly), or a successful and interested peace partner and middleman. Given that we have the “payment” (the Golan), it is up to us to decide. Syria is ready, and has been for some time now.

June 24th, 2008, 4:45 am


Alex said:


Europe is leaning more towards Shai’s way of seeing things. Obama is also going to give Syria a chance to prove its ability to get things done.

This does not guarantee that everything will go smoothly of course… your friends will try their best to work as “a spoiler”… making sure that peace can only take place at the expense of Syria.

But I am relatively optimistic about next year.

June 24th, 2008, 4:50 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

No problem, have it your way. Hold your leaders accountable over 1000 years. If that makes sense to you, what can I say?

Yes, you take care of your people by posing for a photo with them. Got it.

The fact is that you are not willing to articulate the Syrian vision because then it could easily be shown that Asad deliverd nothing of the vision. For example, Syria is less secular than it used to be. But maybe I am wrong, instead of being vague how about specifying the Syrian vision instead of dancing around the issue?

As for Trudeau, he was defeated because of ECONOMIC failure. What does that mean for Asad?

June 24th, 2008, 4:54 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Syria is a terror supporting country. As you have agreed, most Israelis do not trust it and do not believe that it is ready or willing to make peace. The Golan will solve non of Syria’s problems and therefore it is not the real issue.

On the one hand, Syria and the regime supporters are obsessed with their regional standing, on the other hand peace will completely sideline Syria as a regional player. It will be just another poor third world country with dismal education trying to compete in a global world for foreign investment with China and India. Therefore, Syria cannot be sincere about its peace intentions.

June 24th, 2008, 4:59 am


Alex said:


I sat next to Trudeau in a downtown cafe where he used to have lunch after he retired. People loved him when he was 80 year old.

I also watched newer Canadian prime ministers in similar situations … no one cared to look twice at them.

And .. you probably know that most leaders (in democracies) get “defeated” at some point … Trudeau served long enough I think.

As for the 40 years without achieving Assad’s vision (Hafez and Bashar)… I want to remind you that you find it perfectly alright for Israel not to rush into a peaceful settlement with the remaining enemies (Syria and the Palestinians) … Peace is not a priority for you, money is.

You can wait another 60 years to have peace … I can wait another few years to have prosperity.

June 24th, 2008, 5:07 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What do you mean you can wait for prosperity? You are in Canada after all. In your position most Syrians could wait.

And why is peace not a priority for me? Of course it is. There are just many ways to get to peace. There is already peace with Syria and peace with Hizballah from my point of view. No shooting is peace and that Israel has achieved on its northern front and maybe even in Gaza for now (but I doubt it will last).

And by the way, a FEW more years for prosperity? Even for the Chinese it took 30+ years to get to where they are. The Syrians are going to do it faster with the population growth out of control and with an education system vastly inferior to that of the Chinese? Asad’s current policies could easily mean 100+ years before prosperity in Syria.

June 24th, 2008, 5:16 am


Alex said:


Good night : )


Good morning!

June 24th, 2008, 5:19 am


Shai said:


It’s amazing how similar you are to Simo. What you say about Syria (becoming sidelined and irrelevant after peace) he says about Israel, becoming a Denmark or some other less-significant nation. If true in either case (though I doubt it), is that something to fear? What is it about us Israelis that makes us so omniscient? Have we a record of omniscience? How do you feel when you hear a Syrian minister saying that “Israel is not ready for peace…”? What right does anyone have to determine whether and when the OTHER side is ready for peace? Are Bashar’s almost endless gestures, both direct and indirect, over the past 4 years, not enough? Voting in favor of all Arab League decisions favoring normalization with Israel and an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not enough???

What else has to happen? Why don’t we demand that after Syria becomes a democracy, we also want its Prime Minister to be under 6 different investigations on corruption charges, its President on rape charges, its Finance Minister on theft of millions, and that it first fights and loses an idiotic war against an armed militia of a few thousand? Why not go farther still, and demand that Syria prove its loyalty to the Jewish people, by lobbying worldwide against antisemitism? When is there a limit, when we say, “You’re my enemy, I’m yours, and now we both try to join hands and embark on a different path, on the path of peace”? When do we realize that peace means trusting your partner will change AFTER you make peace, not one second beforehand?

June 24th, 2008, 5:34 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

But Israel is quite insignificant now and will be so also after peace. We are like half a major city in China or the Boston area in the US. We know our place and have no delusional visions of leading the middle east or anything. Just like Denmark and Finland we are and always will be technologically advanced but insignificant nation on the global scale. Every Israeli knows this and thinks it is quite normal.

What RIGHT do I have to decide if the other side is ready for peace? Every right if I have to pay a price for peace and pay the price for a peace gone wrong. Hafez and Bashar have been playing the same game for years. Talking peace while supporting terrorism. I strongly believe that after a “peace” agreement they will continue to support terrorism against Israel. Why wouldn’t they? It has worked well for the regime.

June 24th, 2008, 5:49 am


Shai said:


What are you talking about? You could have said exactly the same of Sadat. In fact, you probably would have, just like Olmert did back then. Has Egypt or Jordan supported terrorism after signing a peace agreement with us? Have they funded or trained Fedayeen? Have they continued to support Palestinian terrorist cells? If you were Syria, would YOU stop supporting Hamas or Hezbollah before getting back the Golan? Isn’t the ONLY reason Israel is even contemplating giving back the Golan over the past two decades, exactly BECAUSE Syria is our enemy and we know it has ways of hurting us, via Hezbollah and Hamas? No one here is a philanthropist. We’ll give because it is in our best interest to give back that land. Why is it in our interest? Because it’ll give Syria a reason to stop being our enemy. You want that to happen first without giving back the Golan. That, my friend, is utterly unrealistic.

Israel will not even contemplate giving back a single square centimeter of the Golan, if it doesn’t believe Syria will stop supporting (militarily) Hezbollah and Hamas. And Syria will not do so, if it doesn’t believe Israel will give back the Golan. To achieve this “belief system”, we need a peace agreement. It’s really quite easy to understand, once we put our minds to it. But, of course, we don’t have to. We can leave that to our children. Or to theirs.

June 24th, 2008, 6:13 am


Nour said:


Recently a group of Iraqi Christians traveled from the US to Halab to celebrate St. Jacob of Edessa. They came back very impressed with Syria. They said they had no idea tha Syria was this open and this free. They were particularly surprised that Christians able to practice their religion and hold events so freely and openly. They also said that they were greatly satisfied with the level of service there. This goes to show you that people who go to Syria and see for themselves rather than listen to AIG-type propaganda, will find a place completely different than what they had been spoon-fed about it.

June 24th, 2008, 10:49 am


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

After 73 Sadat did not support terrorism against Israel, unlike Asad now.

And the difference between us is that I would not support killing civillians intentionally for any cause. You think it is natural for the Syrians to support killing civillians to get back the Golan. I think it is not and I would not do it. How easily you forget the second intifada and the daily suicide bombing brought to you by sponsorship of your favorite Syrian regime. Even in war there are rules. I would not even start talking to Syria until they start fighting by the rules. I have no problem with the attack in 73. I have a serious problem as do most Israelis with supporting terrorism. There are all kinds of enemies, and Syria is the ruthless kind. Such enemies deserve zero trust. Shoot at our army, not our civillians and then let’s talk.

June 24th, 2008, 1:42 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


Wait and see what Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Dubai .. and hopefully Lebanon, will do … They can lead the region to prosperity and peaceful coexistence much better that the other failed “leaders”.

You forgot Iran. 🙂

I guess I don’t really share your point of view on this because I don’t see how Syria can decisively influence the region after there is peace. Syria is being taken seriously as a “heavyweight” because of its ties to those groups that are considered trouble-makers. Basically, Syria’s strategy during the past three years has been to start as many small fires as possible, with the hope that it will be asked to sell water to the U.S. and Israel to put them all out. Once the fires are out… what is Syria to do?

Note that I’m not making the same argument as AIG. I don’t think that Syria is doomed after a peace settlement, and therefore they can’t possibly want peace right now. I actually feel the opposite way: Bashar has recognized that resistance cannot continue forever, so he’s trying to strike a deal now while his cards are strong, a deal that would be as beneficial to “Greater Syria” as possible. In the aftermath of this deal, Syria will be better off… its economy will grow, its society will prosper, etc. However, this doesn’t mean that it will continue to be a regional “leader”…

But, as I said before, who cares? If it’s good enough for countries like Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, etc. to be strong non-leaders, it should be good enough for Syria.

June 24th, 2008, 2:18 pm


Alex said:


I think you can convince yourself of anything if you want to.

1) The Intifada was not started or sponsored by Syria.
2) Israel killed more civilians while taking revenge for attacks on Israeli civilians… that’s alright in your opinion I’m sure.

Since you are back to AIPAC propaganda tactics.

Here is a real life video of your humanitarian regular army playing by the rules and targeting regular enemy armies as you reccomend:

June 24th, 2008, 2:27 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is not even controversial that Syria funded and helped Hamas during the second intifada. It did not start the second intifada but it certainly helped keep it going and gave Hamas a safe place from where to plan its suicide bombings. Mesh’al is still having a good time in Damascus.

Yes, yes, continue denying the obvious. Show me ONE case that Israel attacked an only civillian target on purpose. That is what Hamas did throughout the intifada. They took PRIDE in killing as many civillians as possible and this is what Syria supported. When Israel kills civillians it is a dismal failure and we certainly are not proud of it.

June 24th, 2008, 2:37 pm


Shai said:


When you know you can’t defeat your rival’s army, you have two choices:

1. Accept this, and the “rules of war”, and hope your rival will get tired of occupying your land, perhaps because taxes are too high there… or basalt rocks are too sharp to step on… etc.

2. Don’t accept this, nor the “rules of war”, and find other indirect ways of convincing your rival that by continuing to occupy your land, his present and future are much less secure than he’d like.

If you were Syria, you’d choose option 2. I don’t believe for a second that because you, AIG, so highly respect the “rules of war”, you’d choose option 1, and hope Allah would come to your aid. Both of us would choose option 2. We’d fight under-the-belt, over-the-belt, through-the-belt, and in any way possible, to regain back our land.

You know, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean accepting your enemies ways and means. It means placing yourself in his shoes, and look at yourself through his eyes, and then understand the rationale behind the action he chooses to take against you. I believe that if you were capable of empathizing with Syria, you too would come to understand them better. I don’t love, or accept, Syria’s military support for Hezbollah. In fact, I rather hate it. But I understand the rationale behind it. And I do believe, that after returning the Golan heights to Syria, and signing a peace agreement with her, Syria would have no reason to continue to support HA militarily. It would have no reason to continue to be our enemy.

Calling Syria a terror-supporting state, so as to get our emotions kicking in, instead of our rational thinking, is a very successful tactic. It has worked forever, and might continue to work in the future. Personally, I don’t value a civilian’s life any more than a soldier’s. Both are a terrible loss.

June 24th, 2008, 2:38 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

Excellent comment, Shai.

June 24th, 2008, 2:41 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Structurally, the Syrian economy will be the same after a peace as it is now. The only difference is that Asad will not have any more excuses for his failures. How can peace be good for the regime? I agree it is good for Syria.

June 24th, 2008, 2:43 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

You are wrong. I would choose option 1 and build my economy and army until I am strong enough to fight. I would not support terrorism. That is for example what Finland did with the issue of land Russia took from it. And there are many historical examples.

I understand the ruthless Syrian rationale but I reject it. The Syrian regime will support terrorism when it fits its interests. It will do so after a peace process also and of course you Shai will be first in line to justify it and ask me why I don’t understand.

Of course a civillian’s life is worth as much as a soldier’s. But if you don’t understand the difference between attacking soldiers and attacking civillians then our discussion is pretty much useless. Most Israelis do and that is why your view is not prevalent among Israelis.

June 24th, 2008, 2:52 pm


Alex said:

Shai, me too I value human life equally … a 20 year old soldier’s life is worth protecting as much as a 20 year old civilian’s life.

And I find it equally repulsive when Hamas or the Israeli army kill civilians… AIPAC’s justifications make it even more disappointing… American business men who AUTOMATICALLY and CONSISTENTLY justified any killing by the Israeli army over the years.

AIG … Syria did not finance Hamas … Rich Arabs finance Hamas, and lately Iran does that too.

Syria did not help Hamas kill civilians .. Syria’s hosting of Hamas leaders is meant to protect the existance of effective resistance to Israeli/Arab moderates settlement efforts … Syria does not want another Oslo or “road map” mistake.

Syria moderated Hamas … Syria will be the country that can convince Hamas to not resist a comprehensive peace agreement … Hamas will practically recognize Israel’s right to exist within the 1967 borders … and to some extent, this will be becasue Syria wants them to.

As for peace not being good for the regime … maybe they don’t know what is good or bad for them like you seem to know … but according to Carter, Nixon, Kissinger, Baker, Clinton .. Assad was very serious and eager to reach a peacefull settlement with Israel based on UN resolutions 242 and 338.

Maybe Halevy and Dichter are too naive .. not as wise and not as experienced in Israel’s security as AIPAC’s robots in New Jersey and in Florida.

June 24th, 2008, 3:07 pm


Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

They don’t discuss only the Golan and Israel’s security in those peace negotiations … Syria’s role after settlement is an integral part of those negotiations… and it was part of the disagreements in past negotiations.

When you hear that they reached an agreement, be sure that they also agreed that Syria will continue to play a leading role in the neighborhood, you’ll see.

June 24th, 2008, 3:17 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Halevy and Dichter again? These guys are talking about trying to flip Syria in the interest of Israel. That is the important part of peace for them, the part you totally reject.

I do not know about AIPAC. I am speaking as an Israeli that supports AIPAC but is not affiliated with it. But a few Israeli soldiers have done awful things and I have always supported puting such soldiers on trial and would never justify what they did.

Yes, the Asads keep talking peace, but for all who are not blind, it is obvious that they do not really mean it because it is clearly against the interest of the regime. One minute after peace is signed they have no excuses as to why Syria is a failure and cannot give the usual excuse that even you buy:”we have to suffer for the struggle”. Without the “struggle” what will the regime say?

The most important thing for a terror organization is a safe place to plan and work from. That is the most important thing Syria is providing Hamas. It also provides funding and knowhow to Hamas. Why does it do it? As QN explained, it is just another fire it lights and trys to bargain by offerring to put it out. These tactics work with Shai, but not with most Israelis. For most of us, they just make us resent the Syrian regime even more and want even less to discuss the Golan with it.

June 24th, 2008, 3:17 pm


Alex said:

“Yes, the Asads keep talking peace, but for all who are not blind, it is obvious that they do not really mean it”

Again … you are considering Nixon, Baker, Kissinger, Clinton, and others who negotiated for long hours with the Syrians … blind. In what way are you more knowledgeable than all of them combined about Syria’s intentions?

And Halevy and Dichter know what flipping Syria means … I am ok with the way they understand that flipping.

Halevy wants Israel to help Iran, not destroy Iran.

June 24th, 2008, 3:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

If a country is a leader in the region, it is not because this role was agreed upon by others. It is because that country’s economy dominates the region. That is how the leadership in Asia is moving from the Japanese to the Chinese. It is not something that is “agreed” upon. It depends on how well economies perform and what their absolute size is. That is why Syria has a very small chance of being a leader in the middle east.

June 24th, 2008, 3:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What results have all those people that negotiated with Syria achieved? No results or like Baker negative ones. The Syrians like to be courted and like to negotiate. Western politicians fall into this trap often of not understanding the true intentions of Syria. On the one hand Syria keeps the West at bay by negotiating without any intention of making peace and on the other hand they support “resistance”. The Israeli public is not buying this any more.

June 24th, 2008, 3:28 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

He could not bear the thought that Carla Bruni was leaving…

June 24th, 2008, 5:22 pm


Shai said:


Please don’t put words in my mouth – I’ve never justified terrorism, nor its support by anyone, Syria included.

Where does your holier-than-the-pope approach come from? Suddenly you’re against harming civilians? In what war that you know of, were civilians NOT targeted? What do you think happened when the U.S. and Britain recognized they couldn’t defeat Hitler’s infantry and armored divisions on the ground? They decided to give the German people, not the German army, a chance to reconsider. They did so, by endlessly bombarding and destroying civilian population centers, including the largest cities, towns, and villages. They did the same in Japan, completely destroying between 50%-90% of 67 of Japan’s largest cities, and all that before using the two nuclear bombs on, as you know, civilian populations. So suddenly you, AIG, are championing the Geneva Convention, and standing up for the “Rules of War”? What makes you wiser than all those before you? Why is it that Begin spoke with Sadat, who supported Palestinian terrorists and Fedayeen, who targeted ONLY civilians? Why did he make peace with such a regime, and give back the entire Sinai? Using your rationale, Egypt would have continued to support terrorism against Israel. So why didn’t it? Why didn’t Jordan?

Why is it okay for Benjamin Netanyahu to talk to the terror-supporting Hafez regime about returning the Golan, but not for you? Why is it okay for Netanyahu to shake the hand of that murdering terrorist Arafat, and to try to make peace with the same Palestinians that swore to drive us to the sea? Why is it okay for Sharon to talk to the terrorism-sponsor Bashar, through Alon Liel, but not for you? Are they so blind, like I am, and most Israelis aren’t, like you? You must teach me this ability to see things, which clearly myself, as well as former heads of government, former heads of Aman, Shaback, Mossad, who are in charge of knowing and estimating and analyzing even more than you and I are, have called endlessly to talk to Syria. And to make peace with this same Syria you and I are discussing right now. Why AIG, why is it that you’re adopting the holier-than-thou approach, clinging on to it for dear life, for fear it may send you down the abyss of immorality should you, god-forbid, give in to these blind wishful thinkers, who clearly demonstrate little if any omniscient abilities, unlike you.

Come on, you know you’ll find the rationale for accepting peace with Syria the minute Bibi does it. But for some reason, you can’t accept it while anyone outside of “your camp” is trying. You know already that there’s a very good chance I’ll support Bibi in a future election, if I sense that he’ll talk to the Syrians as well. But do you honestly believe Bibi will first demand to see democracy in Syria? Will he first demand a 5-year cessation of support for HA or Hamas, before he’ll be willing to talk? Will he, like that other buffoon Mofaz, also threaten to move to the Golan? Or will he, like Begin, Rabin, Barak, and Sharon, talk to the Syrians unconditionally, like a wise statesman would? Though you may not like it, I think you know the answer.

June 24th, 2008, 5:54 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I can only speak for myself. I take it personally when someone enters a Seder or a restaurant or discotheque and blows himself up and then is considered a hero. When this repeats about a 100 times and causes about 1000 of my compatriots to die, I really do not give a damn about Hamas or your excuses. I understand when one country is at war with another and two armies fight. In 1973 Israel could have leveled all Syria’s infrastructure but didn’t.

If Netanyahu gives the Golan back to a non-democratic Syria he will lose my support and that of many other Israelis. So far he has clearly stated that he won’t return the Golan. If he is lying, he will pay a political price.

I am not against talking to Syria, I am against giving a terrorist backing regime the Golan back. Terrorism should not be rewarded. Full stop. Sadat did not support terrorism against Israel for quite a few years before the peace process. Jordan expelled the PLO and made its utmost effort to be sure that terrorists would not operate from its land. Syria on the other hand has made its living from supporting terrorist organization and destablizing its neighbors. And after the second intifada, I have no patience for Hamas or Asad. And neither do most Israelis.

Syria has delusions of grandeur and wants to be a “major player”. Based on its economy it just can’t. I therefore think it will keep using terrorism also after peace as a means to be important and to keep the regime in power.

June 24th, 2008, 6:42 pm


SimoHurtta said:

If a country is a leader in the region, it is not because this role was agreed upon by others. It is because that country’s economy dominates the region. That is how the leadership in Asia is moving from the Japanese to the Chinese. It is not something that is “agreed” upon. It depends on how well economies perform and what their absolute size is. That is why Syria has a very small chance of being a leader in the middle east.

If you Israeli businessman AIG would use little brains and less time in writing those thousands of useless propaganda comments you might change your opinion.

Israel will never be the leading economical force in Middle East, because it is not connected to the local economies, nor it wants and most importantly others do not need or even want real co-operation with Israel. Syria on the other hand has an excellent location and it is a big country with enormous potential (young population, raw materials etc). Also the the unseen capital accumulation in Middle East oil producer countries will most probably lead to “China effect” in the region. Syria has an excellent future potential as a tourism destination, petrochemical hub etc.

AIG it would be interesting to exchange comments after lets say 20 years. Maybe you then live in a “Taleban” Israel, where the all “honourable” traditions of Judaism are obeyed by the letter. When the amount of orthodox Jews had exceeded 50 percent the national economy had collapsed when the liberal chosen people decided that they are not so chosen and moved to EU and USA. When bicycling with wife (the wife is naturally doing the heavy work the bicycle needs) from the Baruch Goldstein memorial ground in Tel Aviv with your JTA buddies, you have time to watch the skyscrapers of East Jerusalem in Palestine. The former businessman, now a orange picker, is silently dreaming how nice it would live in the prosperous Lebanon or in Syria where people people can take a shower daily, not once a week like in AIG’s Stern Gang – Baruch Glodstein kibbuts.

AID news flash in Haaretz
20:12 Knesset approves law allowing property owners to open fire on intruders (Haaretz)

Does it mean that Palestinians can shoot robbing settlers or settlers can shoot Palestinians after the settlers have robbed their land. Can Israeli Arabs shoot on Jewish intruders? Are Israeli Arabs entitled to have firearms at home? I suppose the law allows only those who have arms (=Jews) to shoot “intruders”. Some disgusting “democracy” you have.

June 24th, 2008, 6:56 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

I understand when one country is at war with another and two armies fight. In 1973 Israel could have leveled all Syria’s infrastructure but didn’t.


June 24th, 2008, 6:56 pm


Shai said:


I’m sorry you don’t give a damn about my excuses. I didn’t know I was making excuses for terrorism, but I’ll watch myself more carefully in the future, lest I be misunderstood.

For the record, your same Bibi also said the same stuff before becoming PM, and yet he spoke with Hafez about giving back the Golan, not about Major League Baseball. I think you’ll agree that Hafez wasn’t exactly “dovish” when compared with his son, and didn’t exactly “reject” terrorism as a means of resisting Israel.

You know, you can continue to wish for wars between nations only through their armies, but if you haven’t noticed, Israel hasn’t fought such a war since, at latest 1982. That’s 26 years ago. In the meantime, Israel certainly has been at war, and has lost many a lives. Why has Syria chosen to support Hezbollah? Because it cannot pressure Israel to give up the Golan in any other way. Does that mean it’ll continue to support it after getting back the Golan? You’d be a fool to say yes. Why? Because we would immediately re-conquer it in a real war, and not give it back for 100 years. What example do you have, of a nation making peace with Israel, and not living up to its peace agreement? But we have two examples (out of two), in which the opposite it true. Yet most Israelis, like you, were against the return of the Sinai for the same reasons. And, they were proven wrong. Their “omniscience” proved wrong. Logic won out, not their emotion-driven rationale.

June 24th, 2008, 6:58 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

The Irgun mostly fought the British Army and when they comitted acts against Arab civillians they were shunned by the rest of the Jewish population. Ben-Gurion in principle would not talk to Begin ever till his death.

June 24th, 2008, 7:06 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

So you shun them too?

June 24th, 2008, 7:08 pm


Shai said:


Now you’re using Ben-Gurion as an example of morality as compared with Begin? My god man, decide where you belong. Are you a Mapainick, or a Likudnik? 🙂 That same Ben-Gurion, gave the order to drive hundreds of thousands of Palestinian CIVILIANS out of their towns and villages. 400 such towns and villages were erased. But that’s not terrorism. That’s war, right? Come on…

June 24th, 2008, 7:12 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Yeah right. If Syria supports terrorism after the peace agreement Israel will take back the Golan. The Syrians are masters of plausible deniablity, like in the case of the Hariri murder. How will Israel ever prove that Syria is behind these attacks? It can’t and Syria knows this. Israel would be viewed as an aggressor in such a war unless we can produce strong evidence but this is usually impossible.

Don’t worry, what you wrote now people have also written 20, 40 and 60 years ago. Welcome to the club of people clueless about Israel.

June 24th, 2008, 7:12 pm


Shai said:


I’m sorry. You’ve made sense in the past, but not now. Look at what you’re doing – you’re closing everything up real nice and tight, so that you can’t possibly be wrong. Syria will continue to support terrorism, also AFTER we give her back her Golan, but it will do so in a “plausibly deniable” fashion, so that no one will REALLY know or be able to prove it’s her? What?!? Maybe next you’ll say that we can’t possibly trust anyone, including Egypt or Jordan, because they’re quite likely doing the same, quietly and stealthily. Sorry… no go. That, my friend, is not sound logic. That’s paranoia. I don’t know about you, or most Israelis, but personally, I don’t wish to subscribe to it. It does my children’s future no service to be paranoid.

June 24th, 2008, 7:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Many things the Irgun did were immoral and stupid and I wouldn’t do them.

Ben-Gurion faced an awful choice but he did the only thing that could guarantee a viable Jewish state. I am glad I will never have to make such a decision.

June 24th, 2008, 7:25 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Get serious. Has Syria used terrorism in a plausibly deniable fashion in the past? Yes, both when it comes to Lebanon, Israel and Iraq. Why wouldn’t it use it in the future if it is in the regime’s interest? If the Syrians had not used it in the past, then I would certainly be paranoid. But they have consistently used this strategy over decades. I am not paranoid, you are just engaging in wishful thinking by ignoring the evidence in front of you.

June 24th, 2008, 7:29 pm


Shai said:


I spelled out earlier why I thought Syria was supporting HA and Hamas. It did (and is doing) so because it is in her interest to do so. Why in her interest? Because it needs to pressure Israel indirectly to achieve the return of the Golan. What I claim, is that I find no logical reason for Syria to continue to have in its best interest the support of these (militarily) also AFTER getting the Golan back. I can’t find any good reason why it would still benefit from supporting these two after we make peace with her. If you can find a good reason, please spell it out.

As a general note, I’d always rather participate in wishful thinking, than in paranoia. Btw, if Syria successfully used terrorism in a plausibly deniable fashion, how do you know it was Syria? 🙂 Come on, we’re not talking about Syria BEFORE an agreement. You wouldn’t need an agreement, if Syria wasn’t doing what it’s doing!

June 24th, 2008, 7:37 pm


Shai said:


Take your words about Ben-Gurion (with which I agree), and superimpose with Bashar Assad:

“(Bashar Assad) faced an awful choice but he did the only thing that could guarantee a viable (return of the Golan)…”

The Palestinians today condone Ben-Gurion’s acts no more than you or I Bashar’s. But if Ben-Gurion’s rationale works for the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and erasing hundreds of their towns and villages, I suppose Syria’s indirect resistance of Israel via support of armed militias (and terrorists) might have its own rationale as well. We don’t have to accept it, but we’d be wise to understand it, so that we can help bring it to an end. And especially when your rival is almost begging you to.

June 24th, 2008, 7:48 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Look at the other thread, I answered offended exactly as to why Syria will likely continue using these tactics after a peace agreement.

In “plausible deniability” it is quite clear to all those that want to see that Syria is behind the action like the Hariri murder or the fact that syria allows Hizballah to smuggle weapons from Syria, but there is no evidence of the quality that you would need to convict Syria in a court of law. In most cases it is impossible to get such evidence or explain how you got it. As for witnesses, they are even more problematic. Syria is a master at playing this game. You see it now repeated with its nuclear program. And the sad thing is that many Syrians buy into this.

June 24th, 2008, 7:51 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Which awful choice was Asad facing? Ben-Gurion had to decide between evicting many civillians and a Jewsish state. The Golan is not that important to Syria and in fact it is perfectly fine without it as 40 years have shown. The dillemas of the two do not even come close and do not help me understand Bashar’s actions.

If in your last post you are not justifying terrorism then please explain to me again your argument.

June 24th, 2008, 7:58 pm


Shai said:


Don’t you understand? Forget what “many Syrians are buying…” I take it for granted that Syria is supporting terrorism against Israel. I take it for granted that it has substantial chemical and biological weapons capabilities, and that it is actively seeking nuclear ones as well. I assume so, because that’s precisely what I WOULD DO if I were in her shoes, and the Golan which belonged to me, was still in Israel’s hands. As long as I knew I couldn’t defeat Israel’s army, I’d develop any and all other means of resisting and pressuring Israel to give back my land.

But in parallel, I too would seek a peaceful solution with Israel, rather than war. I, as Syria, would prefer to receive the Golan back, without a single shot fired, and without a single SCUD armed with WMD’s launched in war. But until I have the guarantee that this will happen (through a peace agreement), I cannot and must not stop any of my efforts. To me (being Syria), I am fighting an indirect war with Israel nonstop, since 1967, when it took over control of my Golan. And the only way to make me stop wanting to fight, is to make peace with me by returning my land.

Is it truly that difficult to understand?

June 24th, 2008, 8:02 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Do you understand that the end does not justify the means?
Is that too difficult for you to understand?

Because YOU would use terrorism if you were in the Syrian shoes it does not mean most Israelis would. I wouldn’t and neither would most Israelis. Let’s say Lebanon took the Galilee from Israel. Would you fund or support a campaign of suicide bombers to kill Lebanese civillians in order to pressure Lebanon? I wouldn’t. But you would. So there is a fundamental difference between us.

June 24th, 2008, 8:09 pm


Shai said:


When I say that if I were Syria, I would also do what she’s doing, I’m not saying “It’s ok to murder innocent Israelis”, am I? I know that’s what you hear, because you’re not capable of empathizing with your enemy. To understand does NOT mean to accept, condone, or justify. I strongly resent this argument by those who disagree with me, who find this label useful for some odd reason. It’s almost like suggesting anyone who understands his enemy is a traitor. Well, how do you make peace with an enemy, if you don’t first come to understand him, and him you?

Yalla, I’m getting tired of this argument. I have a suggestion – watch a documentary called “Fog of War” with Robert McNamara, and then let’s talk. It’s absolutely amazing. It WILL change your mind about a lot of things… And that’s a promise!

June 24th, 2008, 8:15 pm


Shai said:


If it wasn’t for Jewish terrorism against the British, and for Ben-Gurion’s order to force hundreds of thousands out of their homes, you and I would not be called Israelis, but rather Palestinians. What worked for us, can’t work for others? It was legitimate enough for us, but isn’t for them?

By the way, you’re right about most Israelis. Most wouldn’t use terrorism, and most wouldn’t make peace. To do either, you need leadership capabilities, boldness, and resolve. Most people don’t have these characteristics. Most people are followers, not leaders.

June 24th, 2008, 8:20 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:


When you say you would do what Syria is doing that means that you think that what Syria is doing is ok. How else can I understand you? Or do you mean it is ok for Syria but not for you? Why, because your morals are different than those of Syrians? I understand what the Syrians are doing and why they are doing it but believe it is ruthless and immoral. So just make yourself clear: Why would you do what the Syrians are doing?

I have seen “Fog of War” and read McNamara’s books on the discussions with the Vietnamese. It is not relevant to this discussion. The Vietnamese truly believed that the Americans wanted to colonize them like the French and the Americans overestimated how much control China and Russia had over the North Vietnamese.

June 24th, 2008, 8:24 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

First, fighting the British Army was not terrorism. Did Jews go to the UK and murder British civillians? NO. Big difference.
Second, do not compare the issue of the existence of the state of Israel to getting back a small part of the country that is not important for its existence. If Syria’s existence depended on the Golan, then your argument may have had some merit. But it doesn’t and your argument makes no sense.

June 24th, 2008, 8:27 pm


Shai said:


McNamara’s Lesson Nr. 1 was “Empathize with your enemy”. In all of your arguments, I’ve yet to see any kind of understanding of your enemy.

For me, what Syria is doing in providing HA with Iranian-made rockets is not ok. But if I remain fixed in this position, and am unable to understand her rationale for doing what she’s been doing, I cannot ever achieve peace with her. If I understand it, there is a chance I’ll be able to trust that she will not continue to do so after we make peace. As long as I do not understand her reasoning, I can’t achieve a level of trust, that is a prerequisite to making peace. That is why, perhaps, so few of us can make peace. While the majority tend to stick to fear.

June 24th, 2008, 8:31 pm


Shai said:

AIG, Lyla Tov!

June 24th, 2008, 8:32 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Here, see if I don’t understand Syria: Syria provides Hizballah with funding and rockets and Hamas with funding and knowhow because it feels that this will pressure Israel and Israelis to give back the Golan to Syria in exchange for Syria controlling Hizballah and Hamas.

There, do I understand the Syrian reasoning? It uses terror to influence Israel and there is no reason it will not use terror in the future if it fits its interests.

Is your understanding of the Syrian reasoning different?

June 24th, 2008, 8:35 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Your argument is just not clear. You say that what Syria is doing is not ok. But, since you want peace, you think about it a little and then it is ok. What exactly happens when you “understand” Syria? What exactly do you “understand” that makes what Syria is doing ok?

June 24th, 2008, 8:38 pm


Shai said:


Forgive me for saying so, but I think your view of life is a very naive one. You honestly believe in right-vs-wrong. You think it’s right to kill soldiers, and it’s wrong to kill civilians. I think it’s wrong to do both. You want to fix the world, before fixing yourself. It makes no difference to you what Bashar says or does, as long as he’s a dictator. You refuse to do what’s right, because you fear that perhaps Syria won’t have a 50.1% majority in favor of receiving the Golan in return for peace. You fear that Syria might have interests to continue supporting Hezbollah militarily even after receiving the Golan. Your excuse to not trusting Syria, is Bashar, and democracy.

Your emotional fear-tactics may work on most Israelis, but not on me. Unlike you, I am capable of hating my enemy for how he is fighting me, condemning it until I’m blue in the face, but at the same time, ready to end it all, and head down the path to peace. You’re not. You want justice first. You want the terrorists of the world arrested and put away. You want the dictators of the world tried for their crimes. You want democracy to rule the streets and alleys of the Middle East, before you’ll give up a grain of sand under your control. In short, you think the game is played according to your rules, and your rules only. You’ve got morality on your side. Justice will prevail! And until then, we’ll fight to the last drop, to stand up for what’s right.

That’s naivety. And that, my friend, is why we’re still in the West Bank, still occupying the land and subjugating the lives of another people. Because, you see, we’ve got justice under our belt. Until “those people” figure out how to talk to us without using terrorism, we won’t let them loose. How irresponsible of us it would be, to hand such terrorists their own land, and their own nation? God knows what they’ll do, if we only let them out of their cage! They are to be mistrusted. And so are the Syrians. Their interests are to maintain war, regardless of whether they get back the Golan, or not. You know this to be reality. You’ve got them figured out. And the good news is, so do most Israelis. It’s us blinded ones, the Shais, the Ephraim Halevys, the Avi Dichters, the Uri Sagis, the Zeevi Farkashes, the Ehud Baraks, the Yitzhak Rabins, all of them… all blinded.

It’s those basic instincts of yours AIG (and of the majority of Israelis), that I admire so much. What is it about all of you, that I, and the rest of the blinded clan I mentioned, don’t seem to have? Foresight? Hindsight? Clarity of mind? Objectiveness? What is it? We see terrorism, but call it love? We see an Israeli die, and smile? We pat the backs of Nasrallah and Bashar, even if only in a dream? We wake up in the morning, thinking “Now what piece of land can I give away today?” Is that what differentiates us? Or is it perhaps that you, and most Israelis, wake up each day saying “The truth is so plain, it is staring me straight in the face, just as it always has. No need to think. No need to change my mind. It’s elementary. Only a fool couldn’t see it. And, best of all, most people think like me! Thank god… If they didn’t, where would I be? What would I do? How could our future be safe?”

AIG, I admire you for one thing which I personally don’t seem to have. Quietness. Peace of mind. You go to sleep at night feeling ok. You’re not bothered by the past 60 years, because you know justice is on your side. Because you know your enemy is worse than you. I, unfortunately, don’t enjoy that feeling about myself, or about Israel. I can’t sleep quietly at night, while 1.5 million Palestinians are barely eating. While young men and women are being recruited to blow themselves up, so that we’ll one day end our Apartheid. While I know Syria is seeking nuclear capabilities, while I’m sitting on my ass contemplating whether Bashar knew the ones that murdered Hariri. While Iran is passing huge sums of money to Syria, in return for free passage of long range rockets to Hezbollah, so that the Islamic Revolution will find its way into the hearts and minds of children also living along the Mediterranean. I, unlike you AIG, fear the future far more than my past. What we do now, or don’t do, will dictate the well-being of my two daughters far more than I (or you) can understand. And while people like you, and most Israelis, are perfectly happy sitting on their asses becoming experts at how NOT-to-do, I’m watching my region become more dangerous than it has ever been.

You, like most Israelis, assume a clash is inevitable. In a way, such a thing would finally legitimize everything you’ve always stood for, and proclaimed. It does you no good to consider an alternative. It would mean years of being wrong. But of course, Israel (and most Israelis) cannot be wrong. We’re a democracy. We seek justice. How can we be wrong? We won the Golan through war, not by stealing it. Why should we give it back? Really, why should we? And if we really have to, let’s give it to someone we can trust, not to some terrorist-supporting dictator. Oh, and if 50.1% of Syrians voted in favor of this ex-dictator, then fine. I’ll trust him then. But not before. Or, on second thought, maybe I won’t trust him then either. I want a new guy. A Syrian “Obama”. Someone I, and you, could clearly trust! It is, after all, about trust, isn’t it? Syria, let’s see you do a few things first, before WE should trust YOU! Stop supporting anyone that fights anything other than uniformed soldiers, okay? And when you stop, we’ll talk. Or maybe not right away. Maybe when it’s a good time for me. I’m busy now… And maybe later.

When, AIG, when will the timing for peace fit your schedule? Don’t tell me, tell yourself. And try not to laugh… 😉

June 25th, 2008, 5:54 am


Qifa Nabki said:

Interesting article in the Washington Post. What is especially curious to me is how old rumors end up turning out to be true.

The channel opened in the fall of 2006, just after the summer war in Lebanon that had made both Damascus and Tel Aviv nervous about the destabilizing role of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon. Syria proposed indirect “proximity” talks and insisted on Turkey, a rare friend of both countries, as intermediary.

There was speculation about channels opening up between Damascus and Tel Aviv, back in 2006 in the months falling the war. Everyone pooh-poohed it.

June 25th, 2008, 12:34 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

When your arguments fail you resort to your emotive bull shit and to simplification of my argument. Your weak arguments and emotional outbursts explain well why the left in Israel is bankrupt.

The difference between you and most Israelis is that most Israelis make sense while you spout gibberish. You on the one hand view Iran as rational and on the other fear the Islamic Revolution. You talk about future horrors but fail to acknowledge that they already happened. Your non-chalant attitude towards the second intifida is unfathomable to me.

You seem to think that peace is going to solve any problem. It will not make Israel safer in the long term, which is what you are worried about, but only will make our situation more precarious. Breath deeply and accept the following: The Arab countries and societies have to change before peace and prosperity in the middle east arrives. This will take decades. If you don’t have the patience or want to be a useful idiot and give our enemies false hope that this will discourage us or make us go away, it is your right but don’t expect people not to point out the folly of your ways.

Arab societies will become much weaker before they become stronger because they refuse democratic reforms. See for example: Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan (and all the rest of the Arab countries)

When they finally emerge as cohesive societies with accountable regimes, that will be the time to make peace. Until then, the Arabs will wallow in their own misery and there is not much Israel can do about it. I sleep quietly at night because it is clear to me that the Arabs need to be worried about their Palestinian brothers and their societies much more than me. If the Arabs do not really care, why should I?

June 25th, 2008, 2:38 pm


Shai said:


So I not only had the recent honor of becoming noble member of the Order of Kafta bi-Tahini, now I’m again your “useful idiot”… Thank you. Coming from you, it is truly an honor.

The emotive “bull shit” is not mine, my friend, it’s yours. You use fear-tactics, not I. You speak of a horrible future, not I. You distrust Arabs, not I.

You sleep quietly because it is clear to you that “the Arabs need to be worried about their Palestinian brothers… much more than me.” Hmmm… last I checked the first and second Intifadas were aimed directly at you… not at the Arabs. But I guess you slept just fine through them. In a nonchalant kind of way, right? The Left is bankrupt? My whole fricken country is bankrupt if you haven’t noticed. Where did Olmert, Katzav, and Hirshezon spend the majority of their adult lives? In the thriving Right I believe… remember? In your very own 13-seat Likud.

So my dear AIG, you keep sleeping well. Our future is safe, as long as people like you are at the helm, that’s for sure. After all, silly people like me (and some of the less-than-respectable clan I mentioned earlier, with a record slightly less than yours in working for the security of the state) are only trying to encourage our enemies, so that “this will discourage us or make us go away”. Make us go away… That’s a new one in your fear-tactics. I guess I missed this in my own rhetoric. But I’m sure it was there.

Remind me, AIG, why are you here? If you’re so set on the fact that “The Arab countries and societies have to change before peace and prosperity in the middle east arrives. This will take decades.”, why are you here? Do you plan to speed up this process of change? Are you winning over the hearts and minds of our Arab non-friends here? Will you remain on SC during these decades, while change is taking place? Are you here to encourage someone? To help them understand themselves better? And for what reason?

I’ve heard a lot of bullshit from you over these past 5-6 months. But I have yet to hear why you’re REALLY here. Why AIG? Why do you make 8.6 comments per day here? Why do you stay up late at night, and wake up early in the morning with SC? Do tell us.

June 25th, 2008, 2:53 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Fear tactics? It is you who are trying to sell the “peace” because otherwise Israel faces an horrible future. Who is peddling fear?

Of course I distrust the Arab regimes. Even their citizens distrust them. Only useful idiots trust oppressive regimes with a “brilliant” 60 year track record.

In our future there may be a major war but there certainly will be much low intensity warfare. That is the price of the Jewish state. If you do not like it, you have many options.

You are not part of the “respectable” clan that you mention because the aim of that clan is to flip Syria from Iran. You do not even think that is required.

I am here because it is fun and occasionally interesting. You are here to accept anything any Arab dictator does and then say that you “understand” it and would do the same. No?

June 25th, 2008, 3:05 pm


Shai said:


No, I’m here to listen to “useless idiots” like you (as opposed to useful idiots like myself). This is the price of the Jewish state? YOU determine this price? Since when? If I don’t like it, I have many options? Last time I checked, it was YOU who was spending most of your time in the comfort of the U.S., not me.

Being here is “fun” for you? When 99% of the people here disagree with you? Well I’m glad for you, I really am. Enjoy this “fun”… But if you’re going to discuss things with me, I’d appreciate it if you lose the personal insults. Despite what I find to be your stubbornly foolish attitude, I try not to call you an idiot too often… (even when I think you’re being one). Let’s go back to at least being somewhat respectful of one another, shall we?

June 25th, 2008, 3:16 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is reality that determines the price. We have to accept it.
The more people disagree with me the more fun it is. What is the use of arguing with yourself or having discussions with people that agree with you?

PS How do you know how much time I spend where? You are just mistaken

June 25th, 2008, 3:21 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

AIG & Shai

You guys have already humiliated the rest of us with your frequency counts! Are you trying to kick us while we’re down, with this latest shameless attempt to consolidate your positions?

Let’s take a break, give the rest of us a chance to catch up. In other words, some CBM’s are in order.

I will have a brief spat with Ausamaa… that will be good for, oh, maybe 5 comments each. Then Alex and I can go after each other for a good 9-10 comment round. Hmmmm… then I guess we could all post a few articles and videos on the Euro tournament…

No, I guess we’d still be way behind the both of you.

Oh well. *sigh*


June 25th, 2008, 3:22 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

First Solar Car in Arab Region Made by Lebanese Team

A team of fourth-year engineering students and their professor have successfully built the first solar-powered vehicle in the Arab region, the American University of Beirut announced Wednesday.
The team named their car Apollo’s Chariot, in reference to the Greek god of the sun, the AUB press release said.

It said the steel-and-fiberglass, one-seater vehicle measures 5.5 meters in length and 2 meters in width. It weighs about 700 kilograms, or almost double the weight of an average sedan.
Led by Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Daniel Asmar, the team of Elie Maalouf, Amin Kanafani, Ahmed Hammoud, and Rawad el-Jurdi, took almost nine months of dedicated work to build the “Chariot,” AUB said.

It said that with its aerodynamic design, the futuristic-looking vehicle glides over the road quietly.

“It looks like a rocket, but moves like a swan,” said Kanafani. “We actually built a car that runs on a new kind of energy. It’s almost like magic!”

Professor Asmar admits, however, that solar-powered vehicles are still years from becoming commercially available. Right now, building one that can be safely driven on the streets would cost more than a million dollars. Nevertheless, they are important for research purposes.

Apollo’s Chariot cost about $25,000, the press release said.

It said that through 36 small and eight large photovoltaic cells, the car converts solar energy into 1000 watts of power. The components of the car include the cells and batteries, which capture and store the solar energy, and a DC (direct current) motor which converts energy from the batteries into a uniform source of energy. A maximum power point tracker device also maximizes the amount of power delivered from the cells.

Beirut, 25 Jun 08, 16:58

June 25th, 2008, 3:26 pm


Shai said:


That’s what followers do – they accept things. The few courageous ones, however, don’t accept things as they are. They change them. Creating a safer future is not only our children’s responsibility, it is also ours. Aside from “having fun”, it’s such a shame of an opportunity you’re missing on this forum. Haval.

June 25th, 2008, 3:33 pm


Shai said:

Qifa Nabki,

I will respectfully accept your suggestion, and take a break for a while. Although obviously emotionally-driven, both AIG and myself should not hijack this wonderful forum. If we want to have an endless go-at-it, we could find a different arena I’m sure… Sorry. I did get carried away, I must admit.

June 25th, 2008, 4:08 pm


Qifa Nabki said:


I was just teasing. I’m actually enjoying this debate.

But it doesn’t look like either of you are!


June 25th, 2008, 4:10 pm


Shai said:

After a while, the “fun” turns into something else… at least for me…

June 25th, 2008, 4:23 pm


AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Seriously, I am having a lot of fun. Everyone should feel free to chime in on it.

June 25th, 2008, 7:03 pm


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