Turkey’s “Tulip Revolution”?

Big things are going on in Turkey, where government has detained 49 top military officers and formally arrested 12. It accuses them of plotting a 2003 coup called “Sledgehammer,” which was to be proceeded by explosions at several mosques to create chaos and a pretext for overthrowing the Erdogan government and the AK Party.

The government has decided to force a showdown with the country’s military leadership. They have been antagonists for much of the last century. The military has been called everything from the “guardian of democracy” to the “enemy of democracy.” The army, which has long enjoyed full immunity from civilian law, has ousted four governments in the last 50 years without facing any challenges itself until the AK Party came to power eight years ago. Champions of the military fear that the success of the government will mean the end of secularism and Turkey’s slide toward Islamic government. Champions of the AK party and many liberals argue that democracy in Turkey is now mature, and the country no longer needs the military nursemaid to protect civil society from itself. Intervention into politics by the Army, they argue, undermines democracy and change.

Much of the Middle East, which is ruled by military rulers, is watching this confrontation with intense interest. Is Turkey undergoing its own brand of “velvet revolution,” which one could brand the “tulip revolution?” Is it paving the way toward a real democracy? Or is it tempting the dangers of chaos?

Addendum: A smart comment left by Vedat The Turk:

All this talk about a Erdogan’s political “revolution” in Turkey is a bit premature. Turkeys military is still held in high esteem by the general populace and any action the government takes will have to take this into consideration.

More importantly any action by the Erdogan government against the Armed Forces will have to be arbitrated by the Supreme Constitutional Court. This is the same court that forced erdogan out of office a few years back.

A better way to look at the modern Turkish body politic is to view it as a tripartite body with power evenly divided between the government, army and the judiciary. None of the parties can effectively govern without the assistance of at least one of the other branches. Right now the government is trying to force the court into action – whether it will enter the fray and on whose side they would rule is still yet to be determined. The most likely outcome will be that the court will find a way to maintain the status quo which the Turkish populace seems to favor.


I find it hard to believe that Damascus and Tehran have thrown their weight behind Iyad Allawi to unseat Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the March elections.” This is what UPI is saying that an unnamed source assures their reporter. Why would Iran back a secular government over an Islamic one?

Imad Mughniya is the subject of a long article in the Telegraph by Gordon Thomas, an author of a pot boiler and unreliable history of Mossad. In Mossad’s most wanted: A deadly vengeance, he claims to reveal the inside story of its most daring hit in great detail. Your guess is a good as mine if any of it are true.

Obama’s decision to appoint Ambassador Ford to the Damascus job which has been vacant since 2005 continues to incite heated criticism from supporters of Israel. See David Shenker, Tony Badran, or Matthew Brodsky.

Hillary Clinton was defensive about the State Department’s warming relationship with Syria and during a Senate budget debate. She tried to allay fears that she would not hold Syria’s feet to the fire for more concessions in its policies toward Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Iran.

US asks Syria to move away from Iran: Clinton
by Lachlan Carmichael Lachlan Carmichael

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Washington is urging Syria to move away from ally Iran as well as stop arming Hezbollah, cooperate in Iraq and resume peace talks with Israel, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.

In disclosing US demands for engagement with Syria, Clinton was blunter than ever about Washington’s bid to drive a wedge between Damascus and Tehran, the target of a US drive for sanctions designed to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Clinton’s remarks during a Senate budget debate come as Syria announced that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Damascus on Thursday for talks with Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

The chief US diplomat told a Senate committee that William Burns, the undersecretary for political affairs and third-ranking US diplomat, “had very intense, substantive talks in Damascus” when he visited there last week.

“And we’ve laid out for the Syrians the need for greater cooperation with respect to Iraq, the end to interference in Lebanon and the… provision of weapons to Hezbollah, a resumption of the Israeli-Syrian track…,” she said.

Clinton said Washington also is asking Syria to “generally to begin to move away from the relationship with Iran, which is so deeply troubling to the region as well as to the United States.”

The United States accuses Syria and Iran of supporting militant groups in the region, including the Lebanese political and guerrilla movement Hezbollah as well as the Palestinian radical group Hamas.

It also accuses Syria of turning a blind eye to militants crossing its border into Iraq.

Clinton also said she would study a senator’s proposal to consider ways to invite Syrian leader Assad and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in a bid to break the stalemate in talks between the two nations.

“I certainly will look at anything that might break the stalemate. I’m not sure that would be acceptable or do-able to all the parties involved,” Clinton told the senator Arlen Specter.

She repeated that the goal is to restart the formerly Turkish-brokered talks that Syria suspended after Israel launched a brief war in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

Obama last week announced that Robert Ford will be the first US ambassador to Damascus since Washington recalled its envoy after Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed in February 2005 in a bombing blamed on Syria.

The move is part of the Obama administration’s year-long campaign to engage a former US foe and energize its thwarted push for a broad Arab-Israeli peace, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians.

Analysts says engagement is more likely to produce modest benefits — like better intelligence cooperation and an improved climate for peace — than peel Syria away from a strategic ally like Iran or achieve a peace breakthrough.


“… Israel demands that Lebanon implement UN Resolution 1701. The weapons Iran and Syria transfer to Lebanon are offensive arms whose sole purpose is to harm Israeli civilians.” …. “Nuclear weapons in Iran will change the strategic balance in the region,” said Barak. “We must impose harsh sanctions, with a defined time frame, on Iran.”

Ban said he supported Israel’s position on preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and added that the UN would do everything in its ability to advance sanctions against Iran….”

Haaretz exclusive: Hamas founder’s son worked for Shin Bet for years
By Avi Issacharoff, 24/02/2010, Haaretz

The son of a leading Hamas figure, who famously converted to Christianity, served for over a decade as the Shin Bet security service’s most valuable source in the militant organization’s leadership, Haaretz has learned.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas founder and one of its leaders in the West Bank. The intelligence he supplied Israel led to the exposure of a number of terrorist cells, and to the prevention of dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures.

The exclusive story will appear in this Friday’s Haaretz Magazine, and Yousef’s memoir, “Son of Hamas” (written with Ron Brackin) will be released next week in the United States. Yousef, 32, became a devout Christian 10 years ago and now lives in California after fleeing the West Bank in 2007 and going public with his conversion.

Maj. General Dani Haloutz, the ex-IDF chief of general staff and architect of the war against Lebanon, gave an interview to Barabara Opall-Rome in which he said, among other things:

“I didn’t then — And I don’t think now — that you need to conquer territory to stop rockets, because operations of this sort are likely to fail.
“The solution to rockets and missiles is to operate in a manner that imposes an unbearable cost to the other side for the enemy and civilians, by way of severely damaging national infrastructure and exacting a price beyond expectations.”

“In this neighborhood, after you’ve tried all other options, you need to act in ways the other side understands. Restraint cannot be part of the vocabulary because the other side views that as a weakness. What ey understand if force …(and) it’s our challenge and obligation to employ it not [in] a brutal way, but in a very careful, selective, but very intensive way that generates maximum effects in minimum time.

“If you’re dealing with terrorists and their leaders, you have to cut their heads through constant targeting operations. But if you’re dealing with governments, you need to severely damage the country. No rational leader wants to be held accountable for severe damage to his country. …And by severe damage, I mean all infrastructure, bridge by bridge, power station by power station, communications center, airport by airport.”

For Israel, defiance comes at the cost of legitimacy
By Henry Siegman
Financial Times, February 23 2010

The Middle East peace process and its quest for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that got under way nearly 20 years ago with the Oslo accords has undergone two fundamental transformations. It is now on the brink of a third.

The first was the crossing of a threshold by Israel’s settlement project in the West Bank; there is no longer any prospect of its removal by this or any future Israeli government, which was the precise goal of the settlements’ relentless expansion all along. The previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who declared that a peace accord requires Israel to withdraw “from most, if not all” of the occupied territories, “including East Jerusalem,” was unable even to remove any of the 20 hilltop outposts Israel had solemnly promised to dismantle.

A two-state solution could therefore come about only if Israel were compelled to withdraw to the pre-1967 border by an outside power whose wishes an Israeli government could not defy – the US. The assumption has always been that at the point where Israel’s colonial ambitions collide with critical US national interests, an American president would draw on the massive credit the US has accumulated with Israel to insist it dismantle its illegal settlements, which successive US administrations held to be the main obstacle to a peace accord.

The second transformation resulted from the shattering of that assumption when President Barack Obama – who took a more forceful stand against Israel’s settlements than any of his predecessors, and did so at a time when the damage this unending conflict was causing American interests could not have been more obvious – backed off ignominiously in the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of his demand. This left prospects for a two-state accord dead in the water.

The disappearance of the two-state solution is triggering a third transformation, which is turning Israel from a democracy into an apartheid state. The democracy Israel provides for its (mostly) Jewish citizens cannot hide its changed character. A democracy reserved for privileged citizens while all others are denied individual and national rights and kept behind checkpoints, barbed wire fences and separation walls manned by Israel’s military, is not democracy.

At first, the collapse of the assumptions on which hopes for a fair and just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict rested triggered much despair. But that despair has begun to turn to anger, and options for resolving the conflict, previously dismissed by the international community as unrealistic, are being looked at anew. That anger is also spawning a new global challenge to Israel’s legitimacy.

Anti-Semitic opponents of Israel will undoubtedly celebrate this emerging challenge to Israel’s incipient apartheid regime……the government’s response has been to mount a campaign to discredit critics as anti-Semitic enemies of Israel, rather than abandoning the policies that are transforming it into an apartheid state.

Deputy FM: Israel will increase aid to S. America in return for support
02.24.10/ Israel News

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said “Israel intends to increase the aid it sends to South American and Latin American states, but in return it expects support from them in the UN.”

Speaking at a conference of the heads of Latin American Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Ayalon called on those present to “stop the Iranian advance into South American states.” (Roni Sofer)

Palestine Note: Blog Post » Syria Is reasserting Its regional authority

After lying low for almost five years, Syria is now standing tall, as is evident in its expanding relationships in the region and elsewhere. Even the Obama administration is now doing its best to win over Syria’s capable President Bashar Al Assad, …

Syria plans to increase public investment in next five years: official
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency)

Syria plans to increase public investment in next five year: official. Syria’s deputy prime minister for economic affairs Abdullah al-Dardari said the country’s next five- year plan will see a significant increase in public expenditure, the official SANA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The senior economic official affirmed on Monday that Syria will increase public investment, particularly focusing on infrastructure constructions and energy security in its 11th Five- Year plan, compared with the 10th plan.

He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of a branch of the Syrian Investment Commission in Suweida governorate.

“We have signed several contracts worth of 5 billion U.S. dollars to produce 5000 MW of electric power by the end of 2013, increasing the generation of electric power in Syria during the next five years to 70 percent.” the news agency quoted Dardari as saying.

The Ministry of Electricity earlier announced its plans to build new plants and accessories, which includes upgrade power stations and connecting lines, in addition to work on reducing wastage in the electricity transfer networks.

The demand for electric power in Syria increased for more than 20 percent during past three months, while the consumption of electricity in 2009 to 43.7 billion KWH and will rise in 2015 to 61 billion as the ministry estimated.

According to the earlier official reports, Syria’s next Five- Year plan will be ready by next March, which is planned to achieve a growth rate of up to 8 percent and an unemployment rate of 4 percent in the next few years.

According to Dardari, the plan will also focus on health and education sectors to meet the growing needs of Syrian people.

He said it will also encourage local talent who are capable of managing projects to achieve partnership between government and investors and creating comfortable investment climate, which he believe will provide more job opportunities and increase incomes for the Syrian people.

Report: Mabhouh aide arrested in Syria
Roee Nahmias, 2.23.10, 21:53 / Israel News

Fatah-affiliated website says Damascus authorities detained Muhammad Nasser, who arrived in Dubai before Hamas man’s assassination, for possible involvement in plot. Police uncover identity of four other people involved in operation

Syrian authorities have arrested one of the associates of assassinated Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh for possible involvement in the plot, a Fatah-affiliated website reported Tuesday.

The man, Mahmoud Nasser, was said to have been aware of all of Mabhouh’s movements and flights. According to an Arab diplomatic source, the Dubai police asked the Syrians to turn over Hamas members for questioning, including Nasser.

The Easiest Fix to Obama’s Mideast Woes
by Reza Aslan in The Daily Beast!

For its part, Syria wants to be taken seriously by the United States as an important regional power. More urgently, it wants an end to U.S. sanctions, which have badly crippled the country’s economy. Bashar al-Assad has also stated his willingness to pursue peace talks with Israel, as long as any agreement includes the return of the Golan Heights, the highly contested strip of mostly farmland that Israel seized in the 1967 war. Although international law recognizes the land as belonging to Syria, Netanyahu has openly rejected any land for peace deal and indicated absolutely no willingness to give up the Golan Heights.

These issues may seem intractable but according to Edward P. Djerejian, the founding director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, they are no more insoluble than the issues that divided Syria, Israel, and the United States two decades ago. Djerejian should know. He served as U.S. ambassador to Syria from 1988-1991, at a time in which the two countries had an extremely adversarial relationship. And yet Djerejian and his boss, Secretary of State James Baker, managed to engage the Syrian leadership in tough diplomatic negotiations that not only helped end the civil war in Lebanon but also led to the release of American hostages held in Beirut. Even more remarkable is the fact that Baker and Djerejian were able to get Syria to join the Desert Storm coalition against its fellow Baathist regime in Iraq. Djerejian, who also served as U.S. ambassador to Israel and assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, even convinced Damascus to engage in direct negotiations with Israel, which led to the Madrid peace conference.

“We got [Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Shamir to come to Madrid. We got Menachem Begin to shake hands with Yasir Arafat on the White House lawn,” says Djerejian, who writes about his experiences in the recently released book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. “The art of diplomacy is to create a situation in which it is difficult for the participating parties to say no. That’s what we did in 1991. I believe that the Obama administration can do the same in 2010.”

Of course, neither of those historic events led to a lasting peace agreement between the parties involved, though they did form a strong foundation for future negotiations. In any case, Djerjian believes that the Obama administration is in a unique position to take advantage of the profound changes in the region in the wake of 9/11. He thinks that Ford’s ambassadorship could prepare the way for a high level visit to Damascus by the secretary of State. It could even lay the groundwork for presidential summit to be held outside of Syria, perhaps in Ankara, though that depends in large part on political will in Washington, Ramallah, and Jerusalem.

“The president is a very intelligent man,” Djerjian says. “He has a very strong secretary of State in Hillary Clinton. [Obama’s Middle East negotiator] George Mitchell is a topnotch negotiator who knows the issues. But they have to be in lock step. There can’t be a shadow of difference between the three for these negotiations to work.”

George Schultz once said that much of diplomacy is merely “weeding the garden.” The problem is that Syria’s garden has been untended for five years and is overgrown with weeds. Whether Ford can be an able gardener remains to be seen. But at least the Obama administration recognizes that the potential harvest to be reaped from diplomatic engagement with Syria is too valuable to be ignored any longer.

Comments (48)

norman said:

Syria answers the US on Iran ,

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(AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi)This story was filed by CBS News’ George Baghdadi in Damascus.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Thursday said his country would be always ready at “every moment” to confront any Israeli assault as Damascus seems to ignore U.S. calls to end its relationship with Iran.

“We assume that we are basically in front of an entity that may undertake an aggression at any time as long as its history is founded on aggression. Regardless of latest Israeli statements, we are always preparing ourselves for any Israeli aggression, whether large or small,” Assad told a press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Our answer to these Israeli statements is obvious: we have to be ready at any time, in every moment, to confront any Israeli aggression that may be launched for any reason and under any justification,” Assad added in reply to a question.

“The outcome of the past period was in favor of the resisting powers in the region,” he said, adding that reinforcing ties among regional countries was the “only way” for an independent decision.

His words seemed a quick and an indirect reply to U.S. desires, only one day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told U.S. lawmakers that the Obama administration is urging Syria to move away from its “deeply troubling” relationship with Tehran.

Instead, Syria decided to strengthen its ties to Iran. Prior to the press conference, foreign ministers of Syria and Iran, Walid al-Muallim and Manouchehr Mottaki, signed an agreement to abolish visa requirements between the countries.

Under the agreement, citizens of both countries can stay in the country without a visa for 90 days and can enter and leave the country without a visa for six months.

“I am really surprised how they talk about stability in the Middle East, peace and other beautiful principles and they call two countries, any two countries and not necessarily Syria and Iran, to keep distance,” Assad continued.

“We need to further reinforce relations if the true objective is stability. We do not want others to give us lessons on our region, our history. We can determine how things should go and we know our interests… (but) we thank them for their advices.” the Syrian leader told reporters.

Iran’s president said the superpowers can no longer dictate and order other countries from oversees.

“(The Americans) want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that,” Ahmadinejad said. “We tell them that instead of interfering in the region’s affairs, to pack their things and leave.”

“Syria and Iran will stay together. We will remain so until the end and there will be no distance between us,” he commented, calling on the “Zionist entity not to repeat the mistakes of the past one more time as that would mean its doomed end.”

Ahmadinejad was expected to see in the Syrian capital Lebanon’s Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Palestinian Hamas Movement leader Khaled Meshaal amid rising tension between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Syria’s foreign minister Walid Mouallem publicly blamed Israel last week for “spreading an atmosphere of war,” and warned that Damascus would not hesitate to strike deep into Israeli territory if provoked. He said plainly that a conflict would be “all-out,” regardless of whether “it hits southern Lebanon or Syria.”

His remarks were a response to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s own comments a few days earlier that the absence of a peace agreement with Syria could trigger a new Middle East war.

Nasrallah recently stated that Israel cannot afford an unwinnable war and blithely threatened an eye for an eye with the Jewish state.

Bubbling accusations that Israel’s Mossad spy agency was behind the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mahbouh last month in Dubai have more spiraled regional anger.

Muallem, in the same press conference he gave with his Austrian counterpart, said his country was determined to help Iran and the West engage in a “constructive” dialogue over Tehran’s contested nuclear program.

Western governments suspect that the nuclear program in Iran — which earlier this month started higher grade uranium enrichment — is cover for a drive to produce a bomb.

Iran, which has already been slapped with three sets of U.N. sanctions over its uranium enrichment, denies it has any such ambition and insists the atomic program is solely for peaceful purposes.

Damascus has been Tehran’s major regional ally for the past three decades. Assad visited Tehran last August, and Ahmadinejad paid a visit to Syria last May.

Syria also plays a key role for any brokering of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and controls a long border with Iraq that used to be the main point of entry for foreign Iraqi insurgents.

Under President Obama, the United States started talking to Syria’s government, in contrast to a policy of isolation under former President George W. Bush. The U.S. road to dealing with Iran’s policy on Iraq, its nuclear program and much else may now be passing through Damascus.

Syria, in turn, argues that Washington should make every effort to force Israel to accept the Arab peace initiative. Damascus wants to regain the strategic Golan Heights, an enclave Israel captured during the 1967 Mideast War. It has offered peace in exchange.

Last week, William Burns, America’s most senior foreign service officer, held talks in Damascus with the country’s head of state, and Robert Ford, the current deputy chief of mission in Iraq, received an ambassadorial nomination to represent U.S. interests in Syria.

Such steps will formally reopen diplomatic relations between the two countries, which had been suspended in 2005. Last week, eight years after being lumped into the axis of evil and five years since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the U.S. State Department lifted an advisory that warned travelers about visiting Syria in hopes of warming relations.

After the press conference, both leaders went hand-in-hand to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohammed in a mosque in Damascus.
Tags: Iran , Syria , Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , Bashar Al-Assad
Topics: Iran
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February 25th, 2010, 4:46 pm


Alex said:

Going through the press conference in Damascus today, there are two things that one should try not to overlook:

1) President Ahmadinejad, who is widely quoted for his conditional prediction: IF ISRAEL DECIDES TO COMMIT ANOTHER “MISTAKE” (start another war) it will be its end, also said today in Damascus:

وأقول لهم إن الشرق الأوسط الجديد هو في طور التحول.. داعياً الصهاينة إلى العودة لرشدهم وأن يعترفوا بحقوق شعوب المنطقة ويحترموا شعوبها وأن يعلموا إذا ساروا في المسار الخاطئ للماضي فلا مكان لهم في منطقتنا.

“I say to them that the new Middle East is in the process of being formed … I call on the Zionists to go back to their senses and to recognize the legitimate rights of the people in the area and to respect those people and to understand that if they persisted along the same wrong path they have taken in the past, there will be no place for them in our region”

Unfortunately, no one will read this part and if they do read it, they will not understand that the President of Iran is indirectly inviting Israel to be an integral and natural part of the region … only if Israel decides to abandon its policy of aggression and to finally recognize the legitimate rights of the people of the region.

2) If Israel is not willing to change its ways:

إن الأخبار والأنباء تقول إنهم يكررون أخطاء الماضي ونعلم أنا والرئيس الأسد والشعبان السوري والإيراني يعلمان وشعوب المنطقة تعلم إذا أراد الكيان الصهيوني أن يكرر أخطاء الماضي مرة أخرى فهذا يعني موته المحتوم فهذه المرة كل شعوب المنطقة وفي مقدمتهم سورية وإيران ولبنان والعراق وجميع الشعوب سيقفون في وجه هذا الكيان

“all the news indicate that they (the Israelis) are about to repeat their past mistakes. President Assad and I know it, the Syrian and Iranian people in addition to the other people in our region know it, … if The Zionist entity wanted to repeat past mistakes one more time [go to war] that will lead to its inevitable death. This time all the people of the region, particularly the people of Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, and all others will stand against this entity”

The part that needs special attention is .. Iraq. It is now part of the Syria/Iran/Lebanon resistance group. In case Israel goes to war, the president of Iran is promising that Iraqis will be a part of the nations that will be fighting back.

I might be jumping to a conclusion, but it seems that the Iranians have agreed to bridge some of their differences with the Syrians regarding their individual preferences for the wisest direction Iraq should take in the future.

The serious escalation in Israeli and American threats to Iran probably pushed Ahmadinejad to try harder to reach a compromise with Syria and specifically its preference for a more balanced, more secular Iraqi leadership. If this is the case, the President of Iran would be walking in the footsteps of President Bush Sr. and secretary of State James Baker who in 1991 decided to reach an agreement with President Hafez Assad in order to get him more solidly on board the American coalition to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces from occupied Kuwait.

February 25th, 2010, 5:57 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

The Turkish military,find itself under civilian control,and with Erdogan injected his people in higher ranks,the military finds itself unable to stage a coup anymore.
As for Assad and Najad meeting,it is in response to recent Israeli provokative statements,Israel must consider the result of its action.

February 25th, 2010, 6:30 pm


Vedat The Turk said:

All this talk about a Erdogan’s political “revolution” in Turkey is a bit premature. Turkeys military is still held in high esteem by the general populace and any action the government takes will have to take this into consideration.

More importantly any action by the Erdogan government against the Armed Forces will have to be arbitrated by the Supreme Constitutional Court. This is the same court that forced erdogan out of office a few years back.

A better way to look at the modern Turkish body politic is to view it as a tripartite body with power evenly divided between the government, army and the judiciary. None of the parties can effectively govern without the assistance of at least one of the other branches. Right now the government is trying to force the court into action – whether it will enter the fray and on whose side they would rule is still yet to be determined. The most likely outcome will be that the court will find a way to maintain the status quo which the Turkish populace seems to favor.

February 25th, 2010, 8:32 pm


Shai said:


Ahmadinejad’s statements are, by all accounts, belligerent and threatening. His double-talk is useless, because the “sensible” parts (if you can find any) are quickly overshadowed by contradictions and threats. Unlike his Syrian counterpart, his isn’t an arm stretched out in Peace.

While his differential use of “Zionists”, “Zionist rulers”, “Zionist entity” may be of some interest to Arabs (ya’ani, maybe he’s not really talking about all of Israel, just the Zionist-part), we Israelis aren’t particularly interested in careful examination of his choice of words, just as Syrians aren’t particularly interested in Lieberman’s anti-Syrian-regime rhetoric. To Israelis, “Zionist Entity” means Israel and all its citizens, just as to Syrians “You (Assad) and your family” means Syria, its citizens, its sovereignty, and its pride .

When the Iranian President (and his boss) declare that the end of the Zionist Entity is coming soon, few in my country search for alternative meanings to this threat. Before Iran sought nuclear weapons, no one in Israel ever spoke of “hitting it”, despite the vehement anti-Israeli rhetoric that has been coming out of the Islamic Republic since the Revolution.

While I personally don’t believe Iran will ever use its nuclear weapon against Israel (given our own capabilities, that would be suicidal), I can certainly understand every single Israeli that still fears the Mullah regime’s “Grand Plan”, both for Israel and for the Region.

Having said that, I am the strongest supporter of “diffusing-the-bomb” by creating a Palestinian State, and making peace with our Arab neighbors.

February 25th, 2010, 8:47 pm


Alex said:


It is clear that Syria never goes near the Iranian President’s language which, I agree, is very offensive and can only be understood in the way it is understood in Israel and the west.

HOWEVER … You know that it has been decades (since the 80’s) that Mr. Netanyahu has been producing the most offensive, arrogant, humiliating statements mixed with mostly false accusations.

I remember as a teenager in the 80’s I used to be furious as I listened to Mr. Netanyahu pile his lies on ABC News defending Israel’s “defensive” invasion of Lebanon and reducing Syria to a headquarters of terror Inc…. “Israel will fight back the murderers based in Damascus” … was the typical statement he was happy to construct.

Then in his speech on Capitol Hill, he was trying to rally his American allies to deal with Iran through … prevention! .. as in: no need for waiting for them to make a mistake and attack us, if we are convinced they are evil … we can initiate crippling sanctions and war if necessary.

Here is, again, part of his speech way back from 1996:

“The most dangerous of these regimes is Iran, that has wed a cruel despotism to a fanatic militancy. If this regime, or its despotic neighbor Iraq, were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind.

believe the international community must reinvigorate its efforts to isolate these regimes, and prevent them from acquiring atomic power. The United States and Israel have been at the forefront of this effort, but we can and must do much more.

Deterrence must now be reinforced with prevention — immediate and effective prevention.”

“Can and must do much more” than isolating Iran … you tell me how would you like to receive such a threat if you were sitting in Tehran.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Israel, and the United States messed up for too long with the feelings of some of the nations that did not play the perfect puppet role.

Decades of verbal abuse … using your media advantage to successfully portray your enemies as nothing more that terror supporters is going to backfire on you at some point.

The United States should have diffused that bomb back in 1979 … even though the Islamic revolution made some serious mistakes, the US should not have supported Saddam Hussein’ war against Iran in 1980 … a million people died there!

The Iranians had the right to be upset at American/Israeli backing of the Shah… the United States should have tried harder to absorb that reaction for a couple of years and to then promote new relations based on respect for true sovereignty of Iran.

Ahmadinejad’s exceptionally negative language today is to a large extent a reflection of identical language that we have been hearing from both the Bush administration and Likud’s Israel for the past ten years.

Shai … mistakes have been piling up in the region for decades. We need brave leaders to admit to past mistakes and to correct them .. Mr. Obama must show up soon, or else the region will go to war.

Mrs. Clinton’s “suggestions” to Syria (that it must damage its relations with Iran .. for peace!) and the general attitude in the United States that makes administration official almost embarrassed as they try to defend their decision to … send an ambassador to Damascus! (after almost two years of deliberating this courageous action on their part) … are also factors in the sarcastic tone from President Assad today… an overdue reaction to the non-sense surrounding any discussion involving Syria in the US.

Want more examples?

Read this story by CBS:

“Specter indicated that the prestige of an Oval Office meeting might be enough to convince the Syrian dictator to return to negotiations.”

Spector visited Syria 18 times … yet he still thinks that the Syrian “dictator” can be satisfied merely through a prestigious invitation to the White House! … and he is also implying that Syria refuses to return to negotiations!!

Then see how the editor of that CBS story ended it:

“Also, in 2005, Syrian intelligence agents murdered former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri”


I’m sorry .. it takes two to tango. If we want Ahmadinejad to stop using his offensive language, it is not too difficult to know what we need to do.

And I go back to my main old claim … Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are all dangerous for the region … any state that is custom made to be a citadel that protects its one religion is going to see itself constantly confronting others in the crowded Middle East.

We need to open up the region to all … Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia must all change …

February 25th, 2010, 10:00 pm


EHSANI2 said:

If it is true that every single Israeli still fears the Mullah regime’s “Grand Plan”, is that necessarily a bad thing?

I, for one, wish Israelis feared their neighbors more over the past decades.

February 25th, 2010, 10:09 pm


Ghat Albird said:


We need to open up the region to all … Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia must all change

After reading your commentary thought you might be interested in reading:


February 25th, 2010, 10:19 pm


almasri said:

I feel very jealous that we do not have a President like Nejjad in Egypt. When I hear Nejjad promising Israel’s destruction I feel that he is expressing the genuine desire of every Arab and all the civilized people of this earth.

We must get rid of the so-called Israeli ambassador from Cairo. His presence in the midst of our city is a constant reminder of the shame brought by Sadat upon us.

February 25th, 2010, 11:06 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You mean that you want real and not half-men at the helm, right? 🙂

February 25th, 2010, 11:08 pm


norman said:

The only thing left is for Secretary Clinton to ask the Syrian , sorry ,demand, that name their daughters , Chelsy ,

you know , when i want something from somebody , i give him something he wants then embarrass him in to giving what i want ,

The US Adminstartion does not get it ,

RSS Talkback Facebook Twitter Digg FARK Slashdot
Syria’s ties to Iran self-isolating, US says
Feb 26, 2010, 0:04 GMT

Washington – Damascus’ close relationship with Iran is undermining Syria’s position in the Middle East, the US State Department said Thursday, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Syrian capital.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters that the United States has expressed concerns to Syrian President Bashar al- Assad about his country’s relationship with Tehran.

‘This is ultimately a decision that Syria has to make,’ Crowley said. ‘But I think as President Assad assesses Syria’s long-term interest, he need only look around the region and recognize that Syria is increasingly an outlier.’

Crowley said that the US wants ‘to see Syria play a more constructive role in the region, and one step would be to make clear what Iran needs to do differently. And, unfortunately, there was no evidence of that today.’

Ahmadinejad and al-Assad held a joint press conference earlier Thursday. The Iranian president lambasted US ally Israel, declaring ‘the Zionist entity is heading for disappearance.’

For decades, Washington has been concerned that Iran uses Syria as a conduit to support Hezbollah and Hamas, two groups regarded by the United States as terrorist organizations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a congressional appearance Wednesday that there is a ‘slight opening’ for improved US-Syrian relations, but she wanted to see Damascus ‘begin to move away’ from its relationship with Iran she said was ‘deeply troubling to the region as well as to the United States.’

Clinton cited recent visits by US officials and congressional delegations to Syria as positive developments, along with the naming of a US ambassador to Damascus to end a five-year absence.

Syria still must provide greater cooperation in stabilizing Iraq, stop interfering in Lebanon, end support for Hezbollah and Hamas and resume peace negotiations with Israel, she said.

The White House announced February 17 that it had nominated Robert Ford to become the first ambassador to Syria since the February 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Suspicions of a Syrian role in the slaying prompted the Bush administration to recall the ambassador.

Syria denied any involvement in the Hariri slaying.

The nomination of Ford, a veteran of Middle East diplomacy, is awaiting Senate approval.

February 26th, 2010, 1:18 am


jad said:

واشنطن ترفع معارضتها عضوية سورية في “منظمة التجارة العالمية”

ابراهيم حميدي – الحياة
25/ 02/ 2010
علم ان نائب وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية للشؤون السياسية وليم بيرنز أبلغ المسؤولين السوريين خلال زيارته الاخيرة الى دمشق الاسبوع الماضي ان واشنطن قررت رفع معارضتها دخول سورية في مفاوضات للانضمام الى «منظمة التجارة العالمية» ضمن سلة من الخطوات الايجابية قررت ادارة الرئيس باراك اوباما اتخاذها لتحسين العلاقة مع دمشق.
وكان بيرنز زار دمشق على رأس وفد اميركي في 17 الجاري وأجرى محادثات مع الرئيس بشار الاسد قبل عقد جلسة عمل مع وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم واستكمال المحادثات مع نائب وزير الخارجية فيصل المقداد، وذلك تزامناً مع اعلان البيت الابيض قرار اوباما تسمية نائب رئيس البعثة الاميركية في بغداد روبرت فورد سفيراً لاميركا في دمشق.
وأعلن بيرنز بعد لقائه الرئيس الاسد انه نقل «اهتمام الرئيس أوباما المستمر لبناء علاقات أفضل مع سورية على أساس المصالح المشتركة والاحترام المتبادل»، مشيراً الى ان ترشيح فورد «اشارة واضحة لاستعداد واشنطن للتعاون في تحسين العلاقات بين البلدين واحراز تقدم على جميع مسارات عملية السلام وتحقيق السلام والاستقرار في المنطقة».
كما ان واشنطن ازالت اسم سورية من الدول التي تحذر الاميركيين السفر اليها لاسباب امنية.
وعلم ان بيرنز ابلغ المسؤولين السوريين قرار واشنطن دعم ترشيح سورية لعضوية منظمة التجارة العالمية.
وكانت سورية تقدمت بطلب لبدء المفاوضات في 2001، غير ادارة الرئيس الاسبق جورج بوش عرقلت الطلب السوري. وبحسب المعلومات، فان الحكومة السورية شكلت بعد تقديم الطلب قبل نحو عشر سنوات، مديرية خاصة بالتجارة الدولية ودربت عدداً من الخبراء لكيفية التعامل مع هذا الملف، اضافة الى تشكيل فريق تفاوضي رئيسي ومجموعات اختصاصية وأعدت ورقة تتعلق بسياسة التجارة الخارجية لسورية واثر الانضمام الى منظمة التجارة على الاقتصاد وعملية التطوير والاصلاح.

دمشق وواشنطن تتفقان على تنظيم رحلات للشركات السياحة الأمريكية إلى سورية
الاخبار المحلية

اتفقت سورية والولايات المتحدة يوم الأربعاء على البدء بتنظيم رحلات اطلاعي للشركات السياحية والصحفيين الأميركيين ودعوتهم إلى ورشات عمل مع شركات السياحة السورية ابتداء من العام الجاري لبحث سبل تنشيط السياحة بين البلدين.

جاء ذلك خلال المباحثات التي اجراها وزير السياحة سعد الله آغة القلعة مع رئيس جمعية السياحة الأميركية فيل اوترسن سبل تفعيل التعاون السياحي بين البلدين وخاصة فيما يتعلق بالترويج لسورية في أميركا.
واستعرض اغة القلعة رؤية الحكومة للسياحة كأحد أعمدة الاقتصاد الوطني وجسرا للحوار بين الشعوب, مبديا “استعداد الوزارة لتقديم كل ما يسهم في بناء تعاون سياحي جيد بين الشعبين”.
من جهته, أشار رئيس جمعية السياحة الأميركية إلى “ما نشرته وسائل الإعلام الأميركية مؤخرا عن السياحة في سورية وعراقتها”, معبرا عن “اهتمامه بما تمتلك سورية من مقومات تاريخية وثقافية غنية يجعلها مؤهلة لتكون مقصدا سياحيا للأميركيين”.
وكانت العديد من وسائل الإعلام الأمريكية تحدثت عن المواقع السياحية في سورية منها ما جاء في صحيفة نيويورك تايمز في كانون الثاني الماضي حيث أشارت إلى أن دمشق هي سابع مدينة سياحية في العالم, وينصح بزيارتها في عام 2010, لافتة إلى أنه يوجد فيها منازل, ومبانٍ قديمة جداً تتمتع العديد منها بحدائق خلفية أو بباحات على أسطحها.
يشار إلى أن جمعية السياحة الأميركية التي تأسست عام 1989 تضم 100 من وكالات السفر والسياحة وشركات الطيران والملاحة البحرية وهيئات سياحية داخلية وسلاسل فنادق حيث تعتبر من أولوياتها اكتشاف المقاصد السياحية الجديدة والتي لها أهمية خاصة.
يذكر أن مساهمة قطاع السياحة في الناتج المحلي الإجمالي إلى 156 مليار ليرة سورية في عام 2007 (14.2 % من الناتج المحلي) مقارنة بـ 130 مليار ليرة سورية في عام 2006.

February 26th, 2010, 1:19 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


No people in the ME and across the world is threatened with annihilation, but Israelis.
Even when Lieberman is threatening Syria, he focuses on the Asad family, and may be on the Alawis grip on power. Bibi, Lieberman or Israel does not threat you with annihilation. Of any kind.

February 26th, 2010, 1:27 am


EHSANI2 said:

No people in the ME and across the world is threatened with annihilation, but PALESTINIANS.

“Bibi, Lieberman or Israel does not threat you with annihilation. Of any kind.”….Sure…Tell that to that Palestinians of this world.

February 26th, 2010, 1:47 am


norman said:


I think that Israel is doing that (( not just threatening )) to the Palestinians every day ,

February 26th, 2010, 1:50 am


almasri said:

I mean we need a full cow first not half cow. We may then hope to have half men next. It is the step by step approach that we learnt from K.

February 26th, 2010, 2:15 am


Shai said:


“… mistakes have been piling up in the region for decades. We need brave leaders to admit to past mistakes and to correct them .. Mr. Obama must show up soon, or else the region will go to war.”

I can’t agree with you more. We must be led by courageous new minds that look to the future and bring hope, not fear.

Must humans clash time and again, before they understand how stupid they are?

February 26th, 2010, 11:28 am


offended said:

Yeah, maybe the language of Najad is a little crude, but offensive? I’ll tell you what’s offensive: the cultural genocide of Palestine is offensive. Taking for granted the historical sites of Hebron is offensive. Encroaching on the sanctity of Islamic and Christian graveyards in the west bank is offensive. Harassing Palestinians day and night is offensive. A Hasbara ad suggestive of fellatio; a map that includes Gaza and west bank in Israel is offensive. Raiding homes and kidnapping Palestinians is offensive. I can go on and on. But you get the picture. Najad, as crude and unsophisticated as he might sound , knows that he’d have ears relishing his harsh words towards Israel amongst the people of the middle east.

February 26th, 2010, 11:39 am


qunfuz said:

what is Israel if it is not a Zionist entity? Perhaps 5% of Israeli Jews are genuine anti-Zionists, being optimistic. Zionist Israel is a colonial settler state that has brought only tragedy to the region (and increasingly, to the world). A non-Zionist Israel, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians lived as equals, with guaranteed individual and communal rights for all, would be an entirely different matter. It could even be a model for the region and ‘a light unto the nations’. But we are nowhere near that. What we have now is a state which oppresses the Palestinian people, occupies Syrian and Lebanese territory, and organises large-scale massacres of civilians every few years. As Nasrallah said the other day, threats must be met by threats.

I do think Ahmedinejad’s clumsy and even racist comments on the Holocaust are appalling. When he attacks the ‘Zionist entity’, however, I support him completely.

February 26th, 2010, 2:21 pm


qunfuz said:

Obama is not going to show up. Perhaps he’d like to, on a personal level. But the strength of the Israel lobby, its money and occupation of key positions in government, finance and media, and the Christian Zionist vote block, mean that Obama is not in a position to do anything useful in the Middle East. We’d better realise this. It makes much more sense to appeal to/ work with civil society organisations in the US, and to build a strong, intelligent and principled resistance (both armed and non-violent) in the region. Much more could be done here. Why not, for instance, organise a million-man march from Damascus to Quneitra? Or from Palestinian camps in Lebanon to the border fence? Middle Eastern regimes have been notoriously unwilling to mobilise the people, lest the people turn against the regimes. But a large majority of people in the region are in complete agreement with Syria’s current positions on Israel.

February 26th, 2010, 2:27 pm


Shai said:


Most Israelis would disagree with your definition of Zionism and, therefore, will fear any suggestion to the sound of “the end of Zionism”.


Welcome Back habibi!

February 26th, 2010, 5:08 pm


qunfuz said:

That’s because they’re Zionists, Shai. My definition is based on observation of historical facts and the discourse of Zionists. As for fear, I think it’s a very good idea to instill fear in the minds of those who did what they did in 2006 and last winter. We aren’t dealing with a state which genuinely wants to come to terms with its neighbours and the people it has displaced. On the topic, I very strongly recommend “Israeli Exceptionalism – the Destabilising Logic of Zionism” by Shahid Alam. At some point there will be a cheaper paperback edition. A fascinating history of Zionism.

February 26th, 2010, 5:23 pm


Shai said:

Dear Qunfuz,

What I’m trying to suggest is, that many of us Israelis see ourselves as Zionists, but not as the Zionists we have become. While most if not all of my dearest friends would call themselves Zionists, none support the Occupation of Palestine, and most recognize the crimes committed against the Palestinian people ever since 1947. Most absolutely want to come to terms with our neighbors, and with the Palestinian people.

February 26th, 2010, 6:04 pm


nafdik said:


Do you think that Israel should be a Jewish state? and not a Jewish-Arab state?

Do you support the right of return of Jews worldwide to Israel?

Do you refuse the right of return of Palestinians to Israel?

If you say yes to all three above then you are the kind of Zionist that most Arabs object to.

February 26th, 2010, 6:29 pm


qunfuz said:

Dear Shai

I second Nafdik’s questions. Although I know you to be a humane, peace-loving and reflective person, I can’t believe your friends are representative of Israeli Jews. I know I keep quoting this statistic, but I can’t get over it: 94% of Israeli Jews supported the Gaza massacre.

And I oppose Zionism even if we forget the occupations of the WB and Gaza. I know many Jews see Zionism as a national liberation movement. I would argue that Jews weren’t a nation before the establishment of Israel – at which point Israeli Jews became a nation – although I accept that if a people (Syrians, Arabs, Jews, Frenchmen) imagine themselves to be a nation, then perhaps they are (because any nation is an ‘imagined community’). But (a big but) you can’t have a national liberation movement in somebody else’s country. Even somebody else’s continent. A national liberation movment which chooses to express itself in a land where 4% of the people are Jews (before the big 20th c Zionist immigration), and which establishes itself by massive ethnic cleansing, is a very strange national liberation movement.

I wish Israeli Jews could get to a point where they could say ‘our fathers arrived here as a result of a nasty, destructive ideology based on false premises. We don’t blame our fathers – we understand that they were responding to the ideas of their time and context, as well as to virulent antisemitism. We realise that most of them genuinely wanted to help their own people. But now we have moved on. With the passage of time, and with the great successes of Jews in the United States, it is possible for us to move beyond Zionism. We are Israeli Jews. We are a nation because we grew up here, eating this place’s food, listening to Israeli pop music, sharing cultural and political experiences. Now let us live as equals with those we displaced and occupied. Let’s give up being a ‘Jewish state’ in the heart of the Islamicate. This idea cannot survive long term, or even short term without the continued application of great violence which only amplifies the hatred against us. This idea has no more going for it than the idea of a Gypsy state in France which excludes the French, or a Bahai state in England which excludes the English.

February 26th, 2010, 7:56 pm


qunfuz said:

I mean last winter’s Gaza massacre. There have been so many. http://qunfuz.com/2010/02/24/the-spinning-wheel/

February 26th, 2010, 8:07 pm


Shai said:

Dear Nafdik and Qunfuz,

I am thankful to my grandparents that they found a place where Jews could finally call “home”, which was supposed to be, safe (in reality, of course, it is far less safe than Akbar Palace’s safe-shore of the Eastern United States). I am ashamed of the fact that my grandparents’ generation established this safe-haven for my people at the cost of another. I wish the Arabs around us accepted the UN Partition Plan, but I also understand why they didn’t. I wish half the generals in the 1947-48 war didn’t wipe out (cleanse) so many hundreds of Palestinian villages. I wish Israel withdrew from the Occupied Territories weeks or months after the 1967 War.

So do I consider Israel (or want Israel to be) a “Jewish State”. Not in the sense that it will, by law, always maintain Jewish majority. I don’t believe any state on Earth has the right to establish such laws. They are, by all accounts, racist. Do I see a future for Israel with Jewish majority? Only in the short term – if and when a Palestinian State is formed. At the moment, the Israeli Central Bureau for Statistics actually reports (just recently) that under Israeli rule there are now more non-Jews than Jews. So already, by definition, Israel is not a “Jewish State”. Having said that, I believe the way to my people’s hearts, the same people that still fear antisemitism and still remember their grandparents’ horrific stories of just 65-70 years ago, is not by rejecting the notion of a “Jewish State”, but rather by re-defining that concept.

I definitely think that it is important that Israel be able to serve a safe-haven for Jews worldwide. I do think that it must be reciprocated towards the Palestinians that were here before 1947 and 1967, but I realize that an influx of millions, or even many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians right away, is an impossibility. Eventually, I certainly see Israel as accepting back Palestinian refugees. I realize that would mean the Jewish population of Israel becoming a minority. It’s not easy for me to see this happening overnight, as fear, suspicion, and distrust exist everywhere, to be perfectly honest also within me. Unlike most Israelis, however, I do see a different future.

But it may shock you, that despite essentially 3 no’s to your questions (or 2.5 no’s), I still see myself as a Zionist. But a very different kind of Zionist. One that believes in the Zionist dream that was to establish a home for the Jewish people. Not one that believes that dream should come at the expense of others. To me, Israel can be called a “Jewish State”, with 70% Muslim & Christian population. To me, Israel can serve a safe haven for Jews worldwide, and yet take back Palestinian refugees from 47 and 67. To me, Israel can be a free and democratic state, and have Peace with all its neighbors in the region. To me, Israel can and will one day be a proud part of the UME…

February 27th, 2010, 7:21 pm


qunfuz said:

Shai – I think the fear of antisemitism has been delibaerately encouraged in Israel, as has what Baron called “the lachrymose version” of Jewish history. (Have you seen the excellent film ‘defamation’?) It’s also important to remember that Zionism worked with antisemites, including the Nazis, and lobbied against America opening its gates to displaced Jews/ survivors after WW2.

Having said that, I feel very happy because for the first time I have heard (from you, in your comment above) from an Israeli Jew who does not define himself as an anti-Zionist a vision (if I can ‘hear’ a vision without the aid of LSD) of the future which I can accept and work with. I wish you were representative of the Jewish Israeli majority. If you were, I think we could have peace tomorrow, and a truly multicultural Israel-Palestine at the heart of the UME a decade or two down the line.

Have you thought of engineering a military coup? (that’s a joke).

February 27th, 2010, 11:22 pm


qunfuz said:

In fact, Shai, I am saving your comment to a word document, to look at whenever I despair of ‘you lot’ entirely (which is a daily occurrence). Thank you for bringing me a gleam of optimism.

February 27th, 2010, 11:25 pm


qunfuz said:

and of course the ‘safe haven’ is what appeals to Jews worldwide, including those who are not racist, colonialist and Islamophobic. I think an appeal to the arabs/ muslims on the basis of a need for a safe haven, coming from a state which refrains from massacring people, would have a good chance of success. But it does require an Israel which is not constantly threatening apocalypse on the region, and it requires some gentle education on Jewish history for the Arabs, again not coming from a position which accuses arabs/ muslims of antisemitism because they resist their dispossession and oppression. and it would take time. this is the tragedy of it: we do not have time, and Israeli society seems to become more extremist as time passes.

now i must go to bed before the smile fades from my lips.

Thank you, Shai.

February 27th, 2010, 11:32 pm


qunfuz said:

and you lobbies and money people and christian zionist loons and ‘geostrategists’ in the west who claim to care about israeli jews (i know you aren’t listening) – you should be doing your utmost to let people like Shai prosper and his voice be heard, and not backing the lunatics in the Labour and Likud and Kadima parties.

I am going to bed. I am.

February 27th, 2010, 11:38 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Shai, you said:

I am thankful to my grandparents that they found a place where Jews could finally call “home”…

and the in the very next sentence you said:

I am ashamed of the fact that my grandparents’ generation established this safe-haven for my people at the cost of another.

So it seems to me you are both simultaneously “thankful” and “ashamed” at the creation or Israel.

Please tell me, Qunfuz and the rest of the forum if you would work to create Israel again if you were in your grandparent’s shoes.



February 28th, 2010, 12:31 am


nafdik said:

Thank you Shai for the honest and detailed reply.

Even one no to the three questions opens a lot of room for reasonable debate.

I fully understand the Jewish psyche and do not think that the holocaust was manipulated or exaggerated more than it should have been.

On the contrary I believe it is part of the human story and should be remembered and taught to every child on earth to remind us of the dangers of hate and of the need to speak against injustice at any cost.

In particular, understanding the holocaust in the Arab world will facilitate the peace process and will help the Arabs in their dealings with Israel. As Arabs will start seeing the Zionists as humans rather than an ‘entity’.

On the opposite side Jews will be able to deal with Arabs with more trust if they can realize that the Arabs understand this part of their history.

Both sides are looking for the other to treat them like humans and equals and this is much more important than any kilometers of land.

This was the genius of Sadat when he went and addressed the Knesset, no other leader Israeli or Arab had the courage, wisdom or grace to do anything comparable.

And this is precisely why the Sharon disengagement from Gaza failed because he did it with contempt. Had he done the same thing with kissing, food banquets, building a few hospitals, etc, the result would have been very different.

February 28th, 2010, 2:14 am


Shai said:


Your question is, I find, rather idiotic. If I’m thankful that Israel is a safe-haven for Jews, then of course if I were in my grandparents’ shoes I would also work hard to create this nation. By the way, it may come as a surprise to you, but also “peace-loving” Israelis are and have been working hard to help create a safe Israel and one they and their children can be proud of. Patriotism, and hard work, is not only the domain of Palestinian hill-settling Jewish immigrants from New Jersey. I served and continue to serve my country no less than your Efrat-buddies do.

But, because I would work hard to create an Israel in 1948, does not mean I would accept the destruction and the cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian villages in the process. I does not mean I would not take in the hundreds of thousands of refugees that were forced out or left as a result of our War of Independence. Like it or not, Akbar, this land belongs to them “no less” than to me and my grandparents. If we were a little honest (not a lot), it may actually belong to them even more. I know it’s a weird concept for you to understand, how an Israeli can say such a thing, and not be a “self-hating Jew”. After all, FOX-News and the Neocons tell us this is the case. A Jew ready to accept Palestinians as equals must either be a lunatic, or a self-hating Jew, right? Course, there’s always the option he’s… both!

Your innate racism does not allow you to see a future where Jews and Arabs live equally in this land of Milk-and-Honey, with whatever demographics dictate. You cannot envision a safe Israel, with majority non-Jews. You know deep inside, that you as a Jew will be safe on the East Coast. But you fear for your Jewish friends in the Efrat Settlement, if and when Israel becomes more non-Jewish than Jewish. Or, you calm your fears by saying something like “Whatever the majority of the Jews in Israel decide, is good enough for me…” That absolves you from accepting the right of the Palestinians to this land. It leaves the problem with “us”. And that’s fine. The problem is indeed ours, not yours.

I’d like to hope that you are proud of being an American. That you’re proud of the fact that a bunch of ex-Europeans decided one day, less than 300 years ago, to cross the ocean and create a new nation based on freedom and democracy. That you’re proud of the fact that this nation opened its doors to your family and to you, and enabled a minority Jewish population to live and thrive as equals amongst a majority non-Jewish population. But I also hope you’re not proud of the fact that Americans destroyed and cleansed native populations, and kept Slavery going years after it had been eradicated in modern nations throughout the world. I’d also hope you don’t convince yourself that America could only have been created “at that price”.

Yes, Akbar, man can be both proud and ashamed at the same time. It does not indicate weakness, or schizophrenia. It might hint at some sense of morality, maybe.

February 28th, 2010, 8:15 am


nafdik said:


The problem with people like Akbar and his mirror images on the Arab side is that they are more interested in creating a ‘mental safe heaven’ for themselves that allows them to live in a black and white world were they are on the white side. They want to have their perceived purity protected from the inconvenient and ambiguous reality.

The safety of their constructed self-image is much more relevant to them than the safety of Jews (or Palestinians).

Their happy thoughts are to be pursued at the cost of the happiness of the people they claim to defend.

I salute your conception of the history and your ability to understand the duality of situation whereby Jews want to be safe while acknowledging that there is a deep conflict with the safety and rights of the Palestinians who had the original claim on the land.

The story as you and Qunfuz described can bring a truly common narrative that a majority on both sides can come to accept. It also has the unique benefit of being true.

Of course religious nuts on both sides will cling to their beliefs but if we provide a solid alternative for a future based on a common reading of the past the fight becomes between reason and un-reason rather than between US and THEM.

February 28th, 2010, 3:29 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Shai’s Zionist State for all Palestinians Syndrome

Your question is, I find, rather idiotic.


That was a fairly long detailed answer for such an idiotic question. But hey, us conservatives have never been as “enlightened” as the liberal do-gooders.

But, because I would work hard to create an Israel in 1948, does not mean I would accept the destruction and the cleansing of hundreds of Palestinian villages in the process.

Thank you for telling the forum that you would have repeated your grandparents quest to create Israel. Maybe some of the current participants on this forum will wonder how such a nice pro-Palestinian such as yourself would do such a horrible thing.

I does not mean I would not take in the hundreds of thousands of refugees that were forced out or left as a result of our War of Independence.

Why not?

Like it or not, Akbar, this land belongs to them “no less” than to me and my grandparents.

Seems to me you’re speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You won’t take back refugees, yet it’s their land?

A Jew ready to accept Palestinians as equals must either be a lunatic, or a self-hating Jew, right?

Again, if you “accept Palestinians as equals” Shai, why wouldn’t you “take in the hundreds of thousands of refugees that were forced out or left”?

Also, now that we know you would create another “Israel”, how would your creation of Israel have prevented 5 Arab armies from attacking your newly created state?

(Please accept my apology in advance if you find this to be another idiotic question)

Your innate racism does not allow you to see a future where Jews and Arabs live equally in this land of Milk-and-Honey, with whatever demographics dictate.

Shai, you may think I am racist, and that’s OK. Alex has already stated he didn’t think I was. And he’s an Arab. The Israeli-Arab conflict, to me, is just a border dispute. As AIG mentioned a few days ago, you just can’t force two warring parties together and say “make peace”. It will take years after a peace treaty to heal the wounds. Only the “yefeh nefesh” like Yossi Beilin can be stupid enough to believe Hamas and all the terrorists organization can live with Jews.

But you fear for your Jewish friends in the Efrat Settlement, if and when Israel becomes more non-Jewish than Jewish.

I fear radical, suicidal Islam. I can live in a democracy where the majority of Israel is Arab. Just as Israel is slowly becoming more attuned to Arab needs as the arab population is increasing, an arab majority state will still need to address Jewish concerns when Jews are 49% or less of the population. A stable democracy allays my fears. My fears are Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian missiles, which are all external to Israel.

But I also hope you’re not proud of the fact that Americans destroyed and cleansed native populations, and kept Slavery going years after it had been eradicated in modern nations throughout the world.

I’m well aware of American history. The good and the bad. With the peril Israel has endured over the years, I would say Israel has acted on level of “morality” 1 notch higher than that of the US.

It does not indicate weakness, or schizophrenia.

Considering your answers Shai, I would check your medication.

February 28th, 2010, 3:38 pm


nafdik said:


“I fear radical, suicidal Islam.”

This is the new song of the pro-israeli-expansionism group (it is the song of the pro-dictators in the Arab world too). Here are a few answers:

1- This is similar to “I fear the manipulative racist Jewish cabal”, “we can not trust the Jews living in our midst because their allegiance is to their God and race rather than to our community”

2- There was very little radical suicidal Islam 10 years ago, in fact Arafat was calling for a bi-national secular state. The man baptised his daughter in church, and he was the most popular Palestinian leader by far, proving that Islam had a minor role in Palestinian resistance. So were was the love and peace when the resistance movement followed a classic left leaning national liberation ideoligy?

3- There is nothing more radical or suicidal than leaving your home in the 1st world and taking your whole family to live in somebody else’s land in the 3rd world where you are risking your life every day. Doing so because God promised it to your mythical ancestors a few thousand years ago gives you 10 extra loony points. No people in history have gone to so much trouble to get in trouble.

February 28th, 2010, 4:04 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Headline on a web site, “Nethanyahu formally requests that Obama not send an Ambassador to Damascus. Whether Mr. Obama complies to israel’s demands or not it does in no way “change” existing long held beliefs that reflect the American’s view of the Arabs/Muslims.

For example:

a) that they are all full or quasi terrorists.

b) that when CBS reporter Stahl asked Madeleine Albright

“We have heard that a 500,000 children have died. I mean, that’s more
children than died in Hiroshima. And – and you know, is the price worth it?”

Madeleine Albright (at that time, US Ambassador to the UN):
“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth

c) Bernard Lewis’s views of Arabs/muslims have been called by American historian Joel Beinin, “perhaps the most articulate and learned Zionist advocate in the North American Middle East academic community …” Lewis’s policy advice has particular weight thanks to this scholarly authority.

Vice President Dick Cheney remarked: “…in this new century, his wisdom is
sought daily by policymakers, diplomats, fellow academics, and the news

Doubt very much that Mr. O can “change” any of the above.

February 28th, 2010, 5:11 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Headline on a web site, “Nethanyahu formally requests that Obama not send an Ambassador to Damascus.


Can you post a link to that website?



February 28th, 2010, 6:05 pm


Ghat Albird said:


Headline on a web site, “Nethanyahu formally requests that Obama not send an Ambassador to Damascus.


Can you post a link to that website?


As requested.


February 28th, 2010, 6:18 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai

The early Zionist literature may have pointed to the notion that whatever happens, it should not come at the expense of the indigenous population. While I recognize that wholeheartedly, the solution to this complex issue was not accomplished by acknowledging the rights of the indigenous or that the immigrants are in fact going to be guests (at least in first generation), but by denying the indigenous completely. That same early Zionist literature painted the whole enterprise as “Land Without People for People Without Land” . This denial, which continues to be the base of government encouraged theft of Palestinians land, history, resources, and even cuisine, is what defines Zionism to Arabs and Muslims as basically a racist colonialist movement, despite of its undeniable roots in the liberation movements of the 19th century.

The early resistance to Jewish Immigration had much less to do with the immigrants being Jewish and much more to do with them being European colonialists. Very few middle eastern Jews immigrated to Palestine then, and the largest majority were European Jews immigrating to a region already suffering colonialism. You have to also recognize that the colonialist powers in the fertile crescent did not rely on immigration to boost their control such as they did in Algeria, but more on the presence of strong contingents of armed forces. The Jewish immigration was the first full scale colonialism Greater Syria knew since the crusaders. So Israel project was and will continue to be to many Arabs as a colonialist enterprise which has only one choice to survive and that is to expand by overwhelming force. After nearly a century, the continuing insistence that Israel is a home to all Jewish people, along with immigration practices, murderous policy, racism (both in words and actions) against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, and Israel regional and international alliances, make Israel an existential threat to the majority of the region, and make Zionism a natural enemy to these people. As Israel continues to sanction and expand settlements on Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands, what prevents any resident of the region from asking herself/himself the simple question of when is my turn?. All protestations to the contrary are useless for people look at what Israel does not at what it says or what an enlightened few argue.

Israel continues to act as a racist colonialist power. The demands that Israel and only Israel has nuclear energy option is racist. The insistence on setting the price of one Israeli life to be thousands of Palestinians or Lebanese is also racist. Netanyahu’s rhetoric, polished for western Islamophobic ears, is no less racist than that of Nejad, and I would argue that it is much more, for he had past preventative actions to back his rhetoric and Iran has none.

That said, I am afraid that very few of us interact with benign zionism (no pun intended). I believe it exists but I am under no illusion as to with which zionism the Arabs will have to negotiate. They will have to negotiate with militant-colonialist zionism (that of the settlers and their backers) not with the zionism of the cosmopolitan Tel Abib who continue to live isolated from the ramification of Israel’s national agenda and from the religious radicalization permeating the periphery in Jerusalem-Alquds, further south, north, and along the coasts.

Until your honorable zionism becomes the prevailing “nation forming” philosophy in Israel backed by actions, I am afraid my dear friend that zionism will continue to conjure, in the mind of most Arabs and Muslims, images of racism, killing, land theft, of denial of rights and history, and not an image of the liberation movement it sets out to be. It is not far different from the nihilist image the word Jihad conjures in western minds.

February 28th, 2010, 6:19 pm


Shai said:

Dear OTW,

I don’t think that Zionism needs to change, I think the Israeli people need to change, and not by that much. If tomorrow morning 70% of Israelis (those same Zionists you fear) once again support a withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for Peace with Syria, then no definition of Zionism will matter. Facts will speak louder, and you and other Syrians will, hopefully, begin to look at Israelis differently. The same will apply to Palestine.

Look, at the moment we don’t have the luxury of “sincerity”, or even of deep-rooted changes. Ariel Sharon did not change his mind so late in his life because he suddenly became a “different Zionist”. He changed his mind completely into recognizing the need for a Palestinian State, because the demographic alternative scared the living daylights out of him. He didn’t become a person who believes in the Palestinian rights over this land, he became a person interested in Palestinian rights over the West Bank and Gaza, so that they won’t demand also Jaffa, Haifa, and Ramla. And so that Israel will not be forced into an Apartheid situation by continuing along our historic course.

Just as Zionists were able to return the Sinai, to evacuate screaming and kicking Jewish settlers from Yamit, and 25 years later from the Gaza Strip, so too will Zionists return to the rest of the 1967 borders. That’s the Peace I seek at the moment. True Peace, as we’ve discussed in the past, will occur only later, when generations of both sides see that we can live together.

Historians will judge what Zionism was, what types of Zionism there were and when. I can tell you very honestly that most of my “Zionist Friends” would not define themselves as anything close to what you and most other Arabs would ascribe to Zionism.

Btw, as a final note, I seriously doubt you’ll be negotiating with the Settler-Zionists. The ones that will show up at the table will not be the Liebermans and the Ayalons. They’ll be, hopefully, the Meridors and Eitans (super-moderate, and very smart, Likudniks).

February 28th, 2010, 7:04 pm


Off the Wall said:

It is ironic that the phrase land without people was conjured by the earlier incarnations of Christian Zionism, and was used more to allay the concerns of some europeans, and to establish “claim by efficiency” than to enlist Jewish immigrants into the project. The latter needed no justification but their legitimate dream of a homeland.

It is also ironic that in trying to establish its legitimacy in the eyes racist Europe, Zionism may have introduced racist philosophies and claims into its enterprise.

February 28th, 2010, 7:26 pm


Shai said:

Akbar said: “The Israeli-Arab conflict, to me, is just a border dispute. As AIG mentioned a few days ago, you just can’t force two warring parties together and say “make peace”. It will take years after a peace treaty to heal the wounds.”

If the Israeli-Arab conflict is merely “a border dispute”, why would it take “years to heal the wounds”? What wounds? Do you REALLY think it’s only about a border, or are you trying to avoid some of the tougher questions asked, such as:

“Don’t the Palestinian refugees that were forced out or left as a result of the War of Independence, have a right to this land “at least” as much as we do?”

Let’s start with just one question at a time, since I’ve noticed you’re back to your one-comment-per-line style.

February 28th, 2010, 8:26 pm


Off the Wall said:

Dear Shai
To start with, I am not arguing against the legitimacy and humanity of the Zionist dream in establishing a safe haven for the persecuted Jews. I was merely trying to explain how and why the other side sees zionism the way they do.

I do look at Israel and Israelis very differently, I see Israel as a nation at a cross road. A nation given one opportunity after the other, specially over the past 15 years to correct a grave injustice, but confounded with both justifiable and irrational fears, continues to deny the inevitable and maneuver for yet one more acre after the other with no regards as to how unstable the punctured, humiliated, and inviable the so-called Palestinian state would be. I see people, presenting a dominant voice in Israel and in countries backing it, trivializing the Palestinians suffering, the rights of Syrian’s to get their lands back, and the right of all people to live safe and secure from the excessive violence and rage Israel has exhibited more often than not. I see it in disingenuous peace for peace declaration, in the insistence that Jews in Israel have an exceptional rights to emotional safety and security even if that “feeling” comes at the expense of the rights of others.

At the same time, I see Israel as a nation with potential for far greater good than even many Israeli’s perceive. Establishing a stable multi-ethnic secular democracy in Israel is more important than what you, in your great optimism can imagine. Resolving the conflict in just manner will launch our region into heights we can’t even dream of not because of the “superiority of the Jewish mind or Israel’s technological contributions, which is a racist argument”, but mainly because we finally will be able to get the region free of interferences under one mantra or another and we will be free to pursue our economic, cultural, spiritual and intellectual potentials without the evangelists in Texas, the powerful in new Jersy, and the tribalists elseshwre. It is my recognition at the wasted opportunities, in the far past by the Arabs, and now by Israel is what fuels my anger.

That said, any political movement is not merely the sum of its philosophy, it is the sum of the actions of its members, the means it choses to implement its philosophy, and the implication of that both on others. I agree with you that historians will judge Zionism and will make to prediction as to what the judgement would be.

In late December 2008, i wrote that the Gaza war will have huge ramification. My friend, I never imagined how far these ramifications would be to me personally. I wrote then that I lost all hope in Israel, and I am afraid that with what’s going on now, I see no reason to gain that hope back in the near future. I hope that Israelis recognize the impacts of that crime, for which the majority of them cheered, on people like me, particularly as they and their elected leaders now cheer, advocate, instigate, and even beg for yet another, far wider regional war.

February 28th, 2010, 8:40 pm


Shai said:

Dear OTW.

I was about to retire for the night, but took another peek, and will now respond to your (as always) great comment.

It pains me to see how you, my “enemy”, can develop such empathy towards me, my nation, my people, my history, and yet I know I cannot come close to reciprocating. I wish, if it was the last thing on earth, that I could take your words and broadcast them over every channel in Israel. I wish Israelis could hear more of your words. They would shed this irrational fear and suspicion (that have also turned into hatred) once and for all.

But my friend, please do not give up all hope. 1977 was also a surprise, and I very much hope that 2010 or 2011 will be the next one. I still sense (contrary perhaps to all rational thinking) that Netanyahu can surprise us all. If there’s a man in Israel that can, if he wanted to, deliver the 1967 borders, it’s him. I hope he won’t disappoint all of us, and either do nothing or, worse, bring us all into a huge catastrophe in the region and probably worldwide. Iran today threatened Europe, hinting that if it wished it, Europeans would remain cold in winter… These statements don’t help take us away from war.

I will never forget December 2008/January 2009, and also our dialogue at the time. It was a long time since I felt so ashamed, as I did in those terrible days. And I am forever grateful to you, for not giving up on some of us, peace-loving and peace-seeking Israelis. I don’t know what the future holds for us all, and I pray it’s not war. But I can tell you this – that no matter how many more wars the people of this region will have to endure, no matter how much more suffering will take place, in the end, we will prevail.

Our fantasy UME is an inevitability. We must have faith in it, and do what we can to make it happen.

Good Night!

February 28th, 2010, 9:46 pm


epppie said:

in what whacko bizarro world is what Assad said a provocation, while what Clinton said is not a provocation?

This is the childish thinking we get from socalled experts on Syria. Good Clinton, bad Assad. Total Bs.

March 2nd, 2010, 2:58 am


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