Who Will Be the Next US Ambassador to Syria? - Syria Comment

Who Will Be the Next US Ambassador to Syria?

Who will be appointed the next ambassador to Syria? Two names have been mentioned by Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy.com – Jake Walles and Daniel Kurtzer. They are both career diplomats, but what else do we know of them and who would be more effective?

Jacob Walles is not well known (here is his official bio), but from Googling him one finds that as Consul General in Jerusalem, he was in the thick of the Bush Administration’s efforts to get the PLO to confront Hamas in 2007. See this memo, entitled, “Abbas Coup Talking Points,”

While reporting “The Gaza Bombshell” for Vanity Fair, David Rose acquired an extraordinary trove of documents showing how the U.S. pressured its Palestinian allies to take on Hamas—a strategy that proved disastrous when Hamas staged what appears to have been a pre-emptive coup in Gaza in June 2007.

These “talking points” were left behind in Ramallah by a State Department envoy. Palestinian and American officials say they formed the basis for State Department official Jake Walles’s discussions with Palestinian president and Fatah party leader Mahmoud Abbas in late October or early November 2006. According to the memo, Walles urged Abbas to dissolve the Hamas-led government if Hamas refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist, promising that the U.S. and its Arab allies would strengthen Fatah’s military forces to deal with the likely backlash from Hamas.

Jake Walles explained to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he would get Western and “Arab” monetary and military aid, as well as political backing if he took on Hamas decisively and created a “new P.A. government” that “fully and clearly accepts the Quartet principles.” When Hamas failed to comply with Abbas’ proposals, Abbas was to “declare emergency rule and form an emergency government” in order to take on Hamas and rule Palestinians.

It must be remembered that Welles is in no way the author of this terrible Bush administration policy. He was merely carrying out orders, as they say. There are also complaints by Israelis that Walles acted in a pro-Palestinian manner during his service as U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, a post which has ambassadorialal rank and seems to be designed to serve the Palestinians in contrast  to the office of Ambassador to Israel, which is designed to serve Israelis. See this and this.

Daniel Charles Kurtzer, we know much more about. I met him at a Council on Foreign Relations conference during the presidential campaign, where we talked about making peace between Israel and Syria. An orthodox Jew, he was Dean of Yeshiva University in New York, from which he graduated. He was U.S. ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005 and before that ambassador to Egypt. He is considered more even-handed than Dennis Ross. He is a visiting professor of Middle East policy studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. See his Wikipedia blurb, and also this excellent recent article in the Washington Post explaining why there is no US agreement with Israel for limited expansion of settlements, contrary to Israeli claims. He concludes:

The Obama administration is pursuing policies that every administration since 1967 has articulated — that settlements jeopardize the possibility of achieving peace and thus settlement activity should stop. This does not diminish the Palestinians’ responsibilities, especially their commitment to stop violence and terrorism and uproot terrorist infrastructure. President Obama emphasized this in his Cairo speech. But Palestinian failures in no way justify Israeli failure to implement their road map commitments with respect to settlements and outposts. It is time for Israel to freeze all settlement activity and dismantle the unauthorized outposts.

He has written a book on US diplomacy of peace: and believes that the US should create opportunities for peace in the Middle East. “Why wait for an opportunity to present itself? Why not go out and try to create an opportunity for Arabs and Israelis to talk to each other?”

Kurtzer was a firm believer that the Palestinian track should be solved first before the Syrian track and Golan issue.

Martin Indyk writes in his book on the peace process (P. 24) that

Daniel Kurtzer and Aaron Miller … felt keenly that the United States could not hope to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict unless it treated the “core” Israeli-Palestinian problem first.

Indyk believed and still believes that Israel should make peace with Syria first. Kurtzer and Miller “felt that it was clearly the wrong one.”

Indyk mentions that he, Dennis Ross, Kurtzer, David Miller and Robert Malley were dubbed the “five rabbis” by an Arab journalist because “all the members of Clinton’s peace team were Jewish.” He argues that it is untrue that their Jewishness and relationships to Israel or the “Israel lobby” prejudiced the talks or contributed to the failure of the talks. On the contrary, Indyk argues that it helped. He writes, “Behind the stereotyping lay the reality that our Jewish identities generated a deep desire in all of us to make peace since we all believed that Israel’s security depended on ending the conflict with its Arab neighbors…” (p. 25).

David Aaron Miller disagrees with Indyk. He argues that America’s peace team acted as “Israel’s lawyer,” causing the failure. He writes,

For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker on the Arab-Israeli issue, than surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the needs and requirements of both sides.

I do not know who would make a more effective US ambassador in Damascus, Kurtzer or Walles. Kurtzer has more clout in Washington, he campaigned hard for Obama within the Jewish community and thus Obama would be obliged to give him a hearing. He is much better known than Walles. He would give Damascus a higher profile in Washington and could do an effective job of selling any agreement to Israelis and Americans. His Jewishness and close relationship to the Jewish community in the US will undoubtedly make many Syrians believe that he may act as “Israel’s lawyer.” All the same, many, if not most of Washington’s top envoys for negotiating peace have been Jewish since Kissinger was Secretary of State. Syrians have gotten used to it even if they are not happy about it. Would Kurtzer’s obvious strengths out weigh his baggage? It is hard to say. What is more, we know too little about Jake Walles to say anything about his abilities or politics. In the mean time, we can be content that an ambassador will be returned to Damascus.

[end]

The following is Washington gossip on appointments:

Kurtzer to Syria? [Via Capital J]

Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy.com reports on some possible choices for the new ambassador to Syria, and a former ambassador to Israel is one of them. She says Dan Kurtzer, who was an early surrogate for President Obama in the Jewish community during the campaign, is a possibility. The other name she mentions is Jake Walles, currently serving as the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem.

Rozen also has news on positions possible being filled at the State Department’s Near East Affairs department, and some moves for some familiar names at the Brookings Institution:

Ronald Schlicher, a career Foreign Service officer who previously served as the consul general in Jerusalem, is expected to be named principal deputy assistant secretary of state, diplomatic and Washington Middle East hands say. The Brookings Institution’s Tamara Cofman Wittes is a candidate to be the deputy assistant secretary who oversees Middle East democracy issues. The job, which was previously held by Liz Cheney and J. Scott Carpenter, has been fashioned to focus on “Arab reform.” Wittes declined to comment, and Schlicher couldn’t immediately be reached. …

Brookings Institute:

Because Brookings’ director of Foreign Policy Studies, Carlos Pascual, has been nominated to be Obama’s ambassador to Mexico, some shuffles are expected at the think tank. As previously reported, Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel and current director of Brookings’ Saban Center for Middle East Policy, is expected to succeed Pascual. Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst, is expected to be named director of the Saban Center. (He didn’t respond to a query.)

News about Dennis Ross: Read Harper at Col. Pat Lang’s blog, who writes that Washington sources are telling him that Ross’s move from the State Dept. to the NSC will not give him more authority. He writes:

[Ross] did something that clearly crossed the line, and was working at cross-purposes to Secretary of State Clinton and special envoy Mitchell. Maybe he also crossed Richard Holbrooke. I hope to get more of the inside details soon, but for now, I am convinced by these sources, that Ross was dumped, and that it was the AIPAC/WINEP crowd that had to be somewhat appeased, by giving Ross a desk at the National Security Council, somewhat equivalent to a cell with a view at one of those old Soviet gulags.

Comments (58)


norman said:

Haaretz said that Kurtzer is the next US Ambassador,

The border delineation may occur after a new American ambassador is appointed to Syria. One of the leading candidates for the post is Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

July 5th, 2009, 12:48 am

 

norman said:

It looks like KSA is playing it’s role of a traitor , as usual,

I wonder if Iran will lash out at KSA and destroy their oil fields ,

‘Saudis give Israel green light to attack Iran’

By Haaretz Service

Tags: Saudi Arabia, Mossad

Saudi Arabia has indicated to Israel that it would not protest use of its airspace by Israeli fighter jets in the event the government resolves to launch a military assault against Iran, according to a report which appeared in the British Sunday Times.

According to The Sunday Times, Mossad chief Meir Dagan held secret meetings with Saudi officials who gave their tacit approval to Israel’s use of the kingdom’s airspace.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” The Sunday Times quoted a diplomatic source as saying last week.
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The report also quoted John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as saying that it would be “entirely logical” for Israeli warplanes to fly over Saudi Arabia en route to bombing nuclear targets in Iran.

Though any Israeli attack would be roundly condemned by Mideast leaders at the UN, Bolton said Arab leaders have privately expressed trepidation at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn’t trumpet it as a big success,” Bolton told The Sunday Times

July 5th, 2009, 2:03 am

 

majid said:

I’m disappointed Norman.

How can you believe those liars in the Mossad? You know what this is. They’re trying to create fitna. They’ve been trying to do it since the time of Bush. Do you remember Rice’s so-called plan to create an Arab front against Iran? At that time KSA told them to get lost. These guys, the zionists, are desperate.

KSA can never do such a thing. You should know better.

Actually you should be saying instead, “I wonder if Iran would lash out at the zionists and destroy them.”

July 5th, 2009, 2:18 am

 

norman said:

Majid ,

I hope that you are right on KSA and Iran , what worries me is that KSA supported the US and with Egypt they helped and facilitated the Invasion and the destruction of Iraq which was for the pleasure and the benefit of Israel.

My friend , Deeds are stronger than words and what they said to Rice were words and what they did to Iraq were deeds.

July 5th, 2009, 2:32 am

 

majid said:

Norman,
KSA and Egypt never supported Bush on invading Iraq. This is also another lie. Don’t believe everything you hear.

July 5th, 2009, 3:52 am

 
 

Avi said:

Majid the one who is deperate is you!majid the one who believes in his own lies is you as usual!Iran is a threat to regional peace and only you majid and people like you deny that!!!Why don’t you make a film on how the arabs destroyed israel and then claim this really happened you rasist!!And by the way the only fitna i see is the one peole like you create with your “resistance” movements and with the mother land of terrorism which is called iran!

July 5th, 2009, 10:35 am

 

SimoHurtta said:

These people with long hats in a parking lot is not representive of all israelis not even 1/5 of israelis actually they are far from the majority SimoHurtta , but at least they are not blocking regional peace like the good cleric dictator khomenei and the good old resistance he so dearly loves !!plus khomeni is so good to iran…..these people will never restore pride only peace will!

Well,well Avi do you claim that “khomenei” represents the majority of Iranians? These your people with “long” (I would say large) hats and beard represent a considerable and fast growing part of Israeli society, settlers and IDF. Any analyst, even some of Israelis, would say that those settlers etc radical (religious) elements in Israel are the greatest block for a regional peace. As you Avi know, but do not want to admit, the Palestinian (and Lebanese) resistance exists because of Israel’s actions. Not because Iran and others finance them. Equally stupid it would be to claim that the South Sudanese and Kurd resistance exist because Israel finances, trains and arms them.

By the way Avi Khomeini died 20 years ago. Today in Iran 60 percent of university students are women. It is not a Taleban country, not even a Saudi Arabia. Iran is not more religiously “driven” than Israel is.

Avi who do try to convince with your Iran propaganda? Surely the readers of SC are to well educated and aware of the facts that they do not swallow such clumsy propaganda of yours. When an pro-Israeli extremist “complains” of the religious dimensions of Iran that is simply hypocritical and laughable. Surely you can continue to convince yourself that Israel is a normal secular democracy where the secular Jewish nation lives. The bad thing is that nobody besides people like you do swallow that.

Imagine Avi what would be the response in international press if the Iranian housing and foreign minister would publish such opinions which your ministers in Israel express constantly? I must say that as a western “observer” I do not encounter in news such level of racism and hate in the opinions of Iranian politicians and religious leaders which I can read daily from the news coming from Israel. Surely Iran is no model democracy, but it is not much worse than Israel is. In Iran they almost elected a member of the minority as a president. In Israel that would be impossible, the “large hats” would make a military coup.

PS
Avi I question that has been bothering me. Are the religious Jews allowed to demonstrate on Shabbat? Isn’t that one of those numerous prohibited actions?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat#Prohibited_activities

July 5th, 2009, 11:29 am

 

Innocent Criminal said:

Totally off topic but i just realized one thing. When you search for Syria in Google News you dont get all those crappy SANA articles that regurgitated the garbage over and over again about some unknown politician’s support for Syria or acknowledging its Role etc. which was rampant 3-4 years ago.

I wonder if they finally realized it was counter production? Even the content on their website has slightly improved.

July 5th, 2009, 1:24 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

IC
Thank you for the off topic comment, I visited SANA’s site after reading your comment, and it is now a reasonable site with real news of local interest especially in the various sections beyond the main page. Not a bad re-start.

July 5th, 2009, 3:28 pm

 

majid said:

Good Jews are seeking ways to destroy zionism, and are asking the Arabs for help:

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/9721BD22-9FE8-4FFB-9A08-34AD62DD70CF.htm

The Arabs must help this good cause. It provides the solution for the ME problem. May be the only solution.

July 5th, 2009, 4:00 pm

 

majid said:

More good Jews are succeeding in defending their faith against getting hijacked by the evil zionists,

July 5th, 2009, 6:52 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Ha HA .. no really.. “Good Jews are seeking ways to destroy Zionism”!

We feed them, we protect them, they enjoy the best medical treatment (ours),
they contribute nothing. Parasites. This is what they are. Very good Jews indeed.
And fortunately, they’re not more than 1% of us.

And BTW, If you knew what they wish you (Muslim & Christian) in their
Jewish ‘End Of Days’, you wouldn’t have loved them so dearly.

Small advise for you precious Majid, don’t count on your ‘Good Jews’.
.

July 5th, 2009, 7:15 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Majid,

Is it also a lie that Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel?

July 5th, 2009, 9:01 pm

 

majid said:

Thanks for pointing that out AP. Many people were confused.

July 5th, 2009, 9:27 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

AKBAR,

Yes. This is a total lie that “Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel”.

It’s king (dictator) Husein and president (dictator) Sa’adat who signed
and not the Egyptian or Jordanian people, that no one asked.
In Israel, it’s the people of Israel represented in the Knesset,
who approved the deal.

When the Hashamite dictatorial dynasty and the Egyptian junta are thrown from powers,(that will happen sooner than later), the people will demand to be
heard and to be asked.
I’m not sure if they will approve a “peace treaty” signed over their heads.
.

July 5th, 2009, 10:15 pm

 

norman said:

I think that this is important ,it could a way to have two states without declared borders,

Fayyad: Jews can be equal citizens in Palestinian state

By Haaretz Service

Tags: palestinians, peace process

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday said that Jews would enjoy freedom and full civil rights in a future Palestinian state, according to a report in the Aspen Daily News.

“Jews, to the extent they choose to stay and live in the state of Palestine, will enjoy those rights and certainly will not enjoy any less rights than Israeli Arabs enjoy now in the state of Israel,” Fayyad said in response to a question from former CIA director James Woolsey at the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival.

According to the report, the crowd at the festival’s Greenwald Pavilion applauded enthusiastically after Fayyad’s remarks.
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Fayyad told the audience that the Palestinians seek a “meaningful political process that is capable of ending the occupation,” according to the newspaper.

The report said that Fayyad had also attended a panel discussion that included U.S. former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who said that Hamas is a problem.

“I don’t pretend to know how the Palestinian Authority should deal with it,” Feinstein said, according to the report.

Fayyad replied that the answer is to get Palestinians to support “that which is done to affect a meaningful change for the better in people’s lives. I think we stand a much better chance of winning that debate than going about it in a war of words, which has typified much of the argument over the divide.”

July 6th, 2009, 12:22 am

 

majid said:

Did you miss this one Norman? Related to your article, but it doesn’t mean a breakthrough. There is a guy by the name of Keith Dayton who is playing a very mysterious role along with a team of about 30 people – mostly Canadians with few Americans and other Europeans.

نتنياهو ينطق بتعبير «دولتين لشعبين»: حكومة لبنان مسؤولة عن تسويغ حزب الله

حلمي موسى

أجمل رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيلية بنيامين نتنياهو قرب انتهاء المئة يوم الأولى لولاية حكومته بالإعلان عن أنه «للمرة الأولى حققنا توافقاً وطنياً على مفهوم دولتين لشعبين». ووجه نتنياهو، بعد أن عدد إنجازات حكومته الأمنية والاقتصادية في هذه الفترة القصيرة، تحذيرات للحكومتين الفلسطينية واللبنانية. غير أن الحديث عن الإنجازات لم يخف الخلافات التي عبرت عن نفسها بشأن الموقف من تجميد البناء في المستوطنات.
وأوضح نتنياهو في اجتماع الحكومة الأسبوعي يوم أمس ما بدا أنه استكمال لخطاب بار إيلان أن «على الفلسطينيين الاعتراف بدولة إسرائيل دولة للشعب اليهودي, وأن تحل مسألة اللاجئين خارج إسرائيل. فإسرائيل بحاجة وسوف تحصل على حدود قابلة للدفاع تشمل النزع التام لسلاح المنطقة الفلسطينية».
وعدد نتنياهو إنجازات حكومته في هذه الفترة، معتبراً أن إنجازها الأول هو «تشكيل حكومة وحدة. وتوصلنا لتوافق وطني واسع حول «دولتين لشعبين». وهذه هي المرة الأولى التي يستخدم فيها نتنياهو صراحة تعبير «دولتين لشعبين» وهو التعبير الذي كان يرفض استخدامه.
وأشار إلى التهدئة القائمة في الجنوب مع قطاع غزة فقال إن «عملية الرصاص المسكوب وفرت أساساً واسعاً للتهدئة، غير أن الهدوء تحقق أيضا بفضل سياسة متصلبة من جانبنا. فقد أمرت بالرد بشدة على كل إطلاق للنار. ونحن في صراع دائم على أمن مواطني إسرائيل». وكان قد حذر حماس من «أننا لا نفلح في سماع الهدوء من الجنوب، وسوف نرد بشدة إذا ما تم انتهاكه».
وأطلق نتنياهو إشارات تهديد لبيروت عندما قال أن «لبنان يستعد حالياً لتسويغ حزب الله، ولكن هذا لن يحدث من دون أن يتحملوا العواقب. فالحكومة في بيروت هي الجهة السيادية في الدولة, وكل فعل هجومي من هناك سيعتبر من الحكومة وبمصادقتها». وقال إن إسرائيل ترى في الحكومة اللبنانية الجهة المسؤولة عن كل عمل هجومي يخرج من أراضيها.
وفي مستهل جلسة الحكومة قال نتنياهو إنه «لم تتوفر لنا مئة يوم سماح. بل لم يتوفر لنا يوم سماح واحد». وتحدث عن الإنجازات الاقتصادية وقال: «بلورنا وحدة وطنية في الاقتصاد وفي الأسبوع المقبل سوف نقر، للمرة الأولى في إسرائيل وفي معظم دول العالم، ميزانية لعامين وهي مقوم استقرار في مناخ عديم الاستقرار. كذلك فإننا نعمل في مجال الإصلاح الاقتصادي وانتهينا من المرحلة الأولى في إدارة أراضي إسرائيل مما يسهل عمليات البناء لمن يريد».
وقبل يوم واحد من اللقاء بين وزير الدفاع الإسرائيلي إيهود باراك والمبعوث الأميركي الخاص إلى الشرق الأوسط جورج ميتشل دار نقاش بين الوزراء حول ما يسمى باقتراح التجميد المؤقت للبناء في المستوطنات. وطلب عدد من الوزراء من الليكود علناً من نتنياهو عرض القرار بهذا الشأن على الحكومة. وقال وزير الإعلام يولي أدلشتاين، وهو أحد الوزراء المطالبين بعرض القرار على الحكومة، إن «رئيس الحكومة أوضح في جلسة اجتماع وزرائنا أنه ليست هناك اتفاقات أو تعهدات بتجميد البناء في يهودا والسامرة. فتجميد الاستيطان يعني تجميد الولادات, وهذا يناسب نظام ماو في الصين». ومع ذلك شدد أدلشتاين على أهمية مواصلة الحوار مع أميركا «لاستيضاح المعطيات الحقيقية».
كما أن الوزير أردان من الليكود أعلن أنه «بحال من الأحوال لن نسمح بتجميد ولو مؤقت في المستوطنات القائمة. وأنا لا أعتقد أن للحكومة حقاً أخلاقياً أو قانونياً بالمساس بالمستوطنات».
وفي الجلسة أعلن وزير الدفاع إيهود باراك «أننا نطور تفاهماً واسعاً مع الولايات المتحدة بشأن التسوية الإقليمية التي نؤيدها بشدة، وحول سبل ترجمة خريطة الطريق التي وافقت عليها إسرائيل مع تحفظات وتفاهمات، إلى طريق مقبولة لنا، وللولايات المتحدة ولبقية الأطراف».
وكان باراك قد أعلن قبل الاجتماع «أنني سأسافر اليوم (أمس) للقاء ميتشل وجهات أخرى في لندن لتحقيق تفاهم أكبر مع الولايات المتحدة بشأن الخطوات السياسية والتسوية الإقليمية الشاملة.
ومن المقرر أن يبحث باراك، الذي خرج إلى لندن برفقة رئيس الطاقم السياسي الأمني في وزارة الدفاع الجنرال عاموس جلعاد والمبعوث الخاص لنتنياهو اسحق مولخو، مع ميتشيل اقتراحات إسرائيلية جديدة بشأن نقاط الخلاف. وكانت «هيئة السداسية» التي تضم إضافة إلى نتنياهو وباراك الوزراء أفيغدور ليبرمان وموشيه يعلون وبني بيغن ودان ميريدور قد بحثت يوم أمس الاول قضايا الخلاف ووفرت لباراك عدداً من الردود على الأسئلة الأميركية التي طرحت على باراك في لقائه مع ميتشيل الأسبوع الفائت في نيويورك.
وبحسب الصحف الإسرائيلية فإن باراك سيسلم هذه الأجوبة التي تشمل الخطوات التي لدى إسرائيل استعداد للإقدام عليها من أجل التقدم بالحوار. وحسب مسؤول في ديوان باراك ليس بين هذه الخطوات تجميد للاستيطان. ويشدد الإسرائيليون على أن الحوار مع ميتشيل يشكل مدخلا للسلام الإقليمي، وأن المبعوث الأميركي سيجلب معه ردوداً على أسئلة إسرائيلية.
وكانت إسرائيل قد طلبت من أميركا ردوداً على أسئلة حول الأهداف النهائية من السلام الإقليمي، والعملية السياسية مع الفلسطينيين والتطبيع مع الدول العربية. كما تطالب إسرائيل ببادرات حسن نية من جانب الدول العربية التي لا تقيم علاقات معها.

July 6th, 2009, 12:42 am

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Norman,

I agree, even if it has little practical bearing at this point, it’s very constructive from a declarative perspective to say that the settlers are welcome in a Palestinian state.

This message needs be reiterated until it is understood beyond doubt that the Palestinians are serious about it. I believe it will immensely strengthen the Palestinian position in multiple ways. First, it demonstrates that there is no merit to Israelis claims that the settlement blocks need to be annexed to Israel in order to avoid the uprooting of people. This gives the settlers the opportunity to stay at their homes. (Although handling those cases where they sit on stolen private property are problematic. Hopefully a creative solution could be found.) So the settlers need to decide whether they prefer to live on their “ancestral lands”, in dignity, in the Palestinian state, or whether they prefer to live in the Jewish state. Second, it creates a healthy equation of balance between how Israel treats its Arab citizens and how the Palestinians treat their Jewish citizens. It gives incentives to both sides to treat the respective minority the way it wishes to be treated. In other words, it fosters empathy. Third, it will prove to whomever still requires the proof that the Palestinian society is pluralistic and not at all a potential clone of the Taliban as some neo-cons would have the world believe. Finally, it will prove that the conflict was never a religious conflict but a political and ethnic one.

July 6th, 2009, 1:26 am

 

norman said:

yossi,

Our town in the US has 7000 people , Mostly Arab, Jewish and Indians , we have a Mayer , city council , schools , we are practically self rule ourselves , and that can be done there too , as long as ther is no discrimination policy in housing and employment , about confiscated private properties , that can be solved by generous compensations ,
One important note that we should take is that he admitted the right of the Jews to live in Palestine.

Decentralization is the solution .

July 6th, 2009, 2:26 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Yossi,

What makes you believe Salam Fayyad? Since 1993, the PA has always publically required all Jews to leave returned Palestinian land. And their safety has never been guaranteed. I would wait until negotiations start again.

July 6th, 2009, 3:01 am

 

t_desco said:

So the rumors now have the face of Wi’am Wihab. Whatever that means.

July 6th, 2009, 10:13 am

 

Avi said:

. SimoHurtta you are right the history of my people is strange and complicated but you simply brushed away my point which is not the fact that khomeni is representative of the iranian people in its majority but it is the people that love khomenis theoris that have the power in iran!I’m sorry you were wasting your time with your essay…..plus religious jews that wear hats in paking lots at shabat are blocking peace right…….a lot can be said also about another argument that comes to mind…..How can you judge a culture or a people if you think you are above them…plus when you generalize the religious jews that live in jerusalem don’t want peace….do really believe what you are writing?Or that land that was taken in the six day war was not for jews protection right…so then you blame the people that live in them tell them they are settlers and really despise them specially if they wear a hat well what is your peace then ?to kick them out?Why don’t you check out your history and your facts

July 6th, 2009, 2:47 pm

 

Avi said:

Oh yeah and i forgot when i used the argument some men feel superior to others i am sure you are going to apply that on the jews or the settlers themselves….or that in their religion jews beleived to be the chosen people or that only jews can live in israel, well,and all the other hater false propaganda that you can maybe think of !And to that i answer check out your facts check out your history and stop trying to judge people that are different from you or making them what in majority what they are not…check out your history and check out your facts!

July 6th, 2009, 3:03 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

Avi,

>>> 10 x check out your history and check out your facts!

I wonder Avi, what is your reference history book? What books should Simo read to “get the facts”?

July 6th, 2009, 4:05 pm

 

Alex said:

Letter from an Israeli Jail
By Cynthia McKinney

This is Cynthia McKinney and I’m speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies – and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel’s Operation `Cast Lead’ [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day’s notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16’s rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs – new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel’s onslaught that Gaza had become Israel’s veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel’s despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water … It’s a miracle that I’m even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime … I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else’s children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza’s children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza’s children could color & paint, that Gaza’s wounded could be healed, and that Gaza’s bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I’ve learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it’s incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream … like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better … The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn’t cheap. Many of them represent their family’s best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them “there is no UN in Israel.”

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world’s first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle’s detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and `yes we can’ were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel’s marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they’ve done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people’s children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I’m experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I’m lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let’s change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State’s Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I’ve met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.


Cynthia McKinney is a former U.S. Congresswoman, Green Party presidential candidate, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and social justice. The first African-American woman to represent the state of Georgia, McKinney served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1993-2003, and from 2005-2007. She was arrested and forcibly abducted to Israel while attempting to take humanitarian and reconstruction supplies to Gaza on June 30th. For more information, please see http://www.FreeGaza.org

July 6th, 2009, 4:19 pm

 

Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Mrs. Cynthia McKinney is able to send a letter from a Ramle detention
center ( NOT prison ) after 2 or 3 days, while Gilad Shalit is unable
to do so after 1107 days in a Hamas prison.

Human rights is not a one-way road.
.

July 6th, 2009, 5:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Amir,

What does one have ANYTHING to do with the other? In North Korea, the two American journalists that were recently arrested are probably treated EVEN worse than Gilad Shalit. So what? Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Representative from the state of Georgia, is describing her affair at the hands of your (and my) IDF, police, Interior Ministry, and prison/detention officials. Must Gilad Shalit first be returned for us to acknowledge and FIX this abuse of basic human rights?

What are we achieving, when we continue to point at another side’s wrongs? Does it in any way justify ours?

July 6th, 2009, 6:14 pm

 

Yossi (AKA Rumyal) said:

AP,

I believe Fayyad because:

1. Until proven otherwise, I trust people as honest.
2. Fayyad in particular is an honorable person and I never read anything from him that seemed disingenuous.
3. He has no motive to lie about that.
4. This was a position expressed by Abu Alaa recently too.

Whether they’ll stick to it or not is to be seen. I think it’s logical that they will retract it if they see they are not offered full sovereignty. This is an offer that can only be made from a position of equality, not less.

July 6th, 2009, 6:16 pm

 

Alex said:

Amir,

I did not post that letter to imply that ONLY Israel violates human rights, but for people like Akbar Palace and “Israel’s friends” in the United States who insist to see the conflict as a good and democratic Israel fighting a bunch of evil Arab neighbors, it helps to reminds them that they have no moral superiority.

Here is another one for Akbar and his friends:

July 6th, 2009, 7:33 pm

 

Alex said:

And here is President Peres playing with words again

> Jerusalem (dpa) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must
> understand that Israel will not return the Golan Heights to him
> on a “silver platter” if he continues to support Iran and its
> radical Islamist proxies in the region, Israel’s president said
> Monday.
> Shimon Peres asked visiting German Foreign Minister
> Frank-Walter Steinmeier to deliver a “clear” message to
> Damascus, saying Israel was willing to start immediate,
> non-mediated peace negotiations with Syria, without
> preconditions.

With Mr. Netanyahu’s lovely government now in power, the correct and more honest statement would be “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must understand that Israel will not return the Golan Heights to him … Not on a “silver platter”, and not even if Assad comes begging and agrees to all our conditions.

July 6th, 2009, 8:00 pm

 

majid said:

It is becoming obvious day by day that these so-called settlers are nothing but parasites. Actually, it looks like the whole zionist entity is an entity of parasites.

July 6th, 2009, 8:30 pm

 

Alex said:

Majid,

It is usually never fair to generalize … there is a difference between the ex-soldier who is in “Peace Now”, and between the settler who was attacking him.

July 6th, 2009, 9:24 pm

 

majid said:

Thanx for the advice Al. However, it is difficult to follow in this case. Can you say one Nazi is good and one is bad? A Nazi is a Nazi. Similarly, a zionist is a zionist (parasite), as long as he believes in the mythical law of return and lives off US tax payers’ money.

July 6th, 2009, 9:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

As a parasite President, of an entity of parasites, what do you expect Peres to say…

Now on a serious note, it’s quite obvious that Nobel peace prize has gotten to Peres. For some odd reason, he genuinely believes people appreciate his patronizing attitude. I can’t understand why his advisers aren’t asking him to tone it down. Does he really believe Bashar is going to respond favorably to this “not on a silver platter” attitude? (Advisers – wake up!)

July 6th, 2009, 9:34 pm

 

Shai said:

I wish this “Majid” knew just how similar he is to some of those settlers. They use the exact same terminology and phraseology when referring to the Arabs. Funny how this ex-soldier who acknowledged he fears the Settlers more than the Palestinians, is deemed the same as any racist settler. He goes there, endangering himself and his colleagues, to report to the whole world on Israeli settlement activity, and yet he’s the same – “A zionist is a zionist (parasite)”

Maybe I’m missing something…

July 6th, 2009, 9:55 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Can the zionist entity attacks Iran?they have three submarines with nuclear capabilty,and soon will get two more,one of them passed through Suez Canal recently,with Mubarak knowledge and approval,I believe King Abdullah II,of Jordan,and Husni Mubarak must go away

July 6th, 2009, 10:07 pm

 

Alex said:

Majid,

I am not a fan of zionism, I assure you. I agree it was a bloody mistake.

But for many good people in Israelis “zionism” means something very different than what it means to us. Same way our “resistance” is considered “terrorism” there … and a terrorist is a terrorist according to most Israelis.

Let’s forget all these misleading terms and concentrate on reality … There are Israelis we can make peace with, and others we can’t… what I don’t like is that the second group is getting larger and it is electing representatives who are pushing the region slowly to a couple of likely military confrontations.

Another fact … we have to make peace with Israel. Israel is not going away .. its 300 nuclear weapons are not going to disappear.

July 6th, 2009, 10:09 pm

 

Alex said:

Shai

The president is too old … and he is convinced that he is an excellent PR face for Israel. He used to be when Prime minister Rabin was leading Israel… it was easier.

But with a Netanyahu government like today’s, if I were in President Peres’ shoes, I would simply drop it … No make up artist can project a peace loving image for Israel these days, no matter how hard he tries … And Mr. Peres is trying too hard.

He is not thinking of convincing President Assad .. he is simply doing his PR job for Israel .. damage control… to hide the fact Netanyahu is saying he will not give the Golan back (up), Mr. Peres found the slickest way to make a Golan related Statement “we won’t give it back on a Silver platter”

Tell us if you are willing to give it all back and how, keeping in mind Syria is not about to take orders from him.

That would be interesting to hear.

July 6th, 2009, 10:17 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

I can understand why people hate Zionism, especially the Palestinian people. If I was a Palestinian, or an Arab, I would hate it just as much. But it’s when we start using terms like “parasites”, that I shut down all ability and motivation for understanding or empathy. That’s what causes us to seek an irrational and emotional haven (fear and hatred) instead of hanging on to the last remaining shreds of hope and sanity.

If we reduce ourselves to that level, God himself may not even be able to help us.

I agree with you about Peres. He is trying too hard, and cannot provide positive PR to Israel nowadays. But what worries me now about Bibi isn’t his statement about not giving back the Golan (that’s to be expected, even if he means otherwise). What worries me is his tactical, rather than strategic, day-by-day decision making style. He is “flipping” on just about everything, on a moment’s notice, quite likely based on his public ratings at the time.

July 6th, 2009, 10:25 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

SimoHurtta you are right the history of my people is strange and complicated but you simply brushed away my point which is not the fact that khomeni is representative of the iranian people in its majority but it is the people that love khomenis theoris that have the power in iran!

Hmmmm Avi people who love Zionism have power in Israel and considering your voting system I suppose I can say that the majority of Israeli Jews also love Zionism, its theories and its “personal” history writing. If I would collect some quotes what your Rabbis have said and what reads in your religious texts the result would be at least equal to “khomenis” theories. So it really is not the best strategy for an Israeli extremist to criticize other’s religion and governmental system and on the same time defending Israel. You have too much “religion” in your own system to make such criticism convincing.

Avi you must be “a newcomer” in Israel because you English and spelling make it almost impossible to understand what you try to say. I remember seeing an Israeli news that the children of the new immigrants succeed in the school below the average and Israel is not on the top in general the school ranking.

Surely my English is far from perfect, but I try articulate opinions in the best way I can and write decent sentences and I use chapters. Not like your stream of consciousness which “looks like” you have been drinking two bottles of whiskey (after beating Palestinian children near your settlement) before taking the keyboard (see comments 23 and 24).

———-

Israel is making diplomatic success and friends on all frontiers:
Israel summons EU envoy over settlements criticism

Well Israel doesn’t own EU’s political system in the way it does USA’s. Israel also obviously hasn’t noticed that the EU presidency has shifted from the loyal Czechs to considerably less loyal Swedes. EU will not take kindly Israel’s diplomatic message = Shut up and continue paying.

EU and Arabs should finally realize that stopping the payments to Palestinians is the best and fastest strategy to achieve peace. Israel has to pay the costs of the people under its rule, its image can’t tolerate let them starve. And the Jewish “nation” in known for understanding the value of money. Let Bibi pay the costs of Haredis and Palestinians’ “economical peace” for one or two years. After that economical lesson there will be peace.

July 6th, 2009, 11:05 pm

 

majid said:

A parasitic zionist is someone who lives on someone else’s land and on the hand outs of foreign governments particularly the USA. There is no better description for a parasite than a zionist in this case. It is that simple. If a zionist wants to gain applause by photographing few zealots to show to the rest of the world then that doesn’t do us any good. This so-called peace activist must first look back into himself and ask himself why does he feel obliged to act in such a manner, i.e. so-called peace activism? He will immediately discover that he is a worse parasite than this so-called settler. Because he partook in the zionist project and yet even after he discovered its faults and falsehoods he continues to believe in it. His attempt to voice opposition to such zealots is nothing but an attempt to absolve himself of guilt while he continues to support the falsehoods of parasitic zionism, i.e. the so-called myth of law of return. Only when he bases his opposition on a clear denunciation and rejection of zionism in this particular aspect of a false edict, and seeks to build his life not on the handouts of other countries tax payers’ money then this so-called peace activist can prove himself as genuine and not deserving of being called a parasite. He cannot for example come to Palestine from Siberia and just because he happened to cause two of his progenies to be born in Palestine then he should feel entitled to the sympathies of those he caused to become dispossessed. This is worse than the parasitism of the zealots. At least the zealots are not seeking parasitic sympathies and they are doing what they’re doing without adding hypocrisy to their acts.

July 6th, 2009, 11:21 pm

 

Joshua said:

Dear Alex, I agree with your analysis of Peres’ “silver platter” remark. It is designed for a Western and Israeli audience to make it look like Israel is ready for negotiations, which it may be, but we all know that without the Golan on the table, Syria is not interested. There isn’t much to talk about, it would seem.

Magid, Why engage in such inflammatory generalizations and comparisons? They seem pointlessly provocative and cannot lead to constructive dialogue or anything else useful.

July 6th, 2009, 11:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Joshua,

I hope you had a nice visit to Syria. I fully agree with your comment (both points). It seems Peres just doesn’t know what to say, so he’s reverting to his old and rather useless patronizing comments. I hope he is targeting Israelis more than Syrians.

July 6th, 2009, 11:32 pm

 

SimoHurtta said:

Another fact … we have to make peace with Israel. Israel is not going away .. its 300 nuclear weapons are not going to disappear.

Isn’t it “funny” that 1,500 nukes are now enough for the big powers and Israel “needs” at least 20 to 30 percent of that amount. The new Israeli Jericho 3 has a range up to 11,500 kilometres. So it gives Israel nuclear strike capabilities within the entire Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia and almost all parts of North America, as well as within large parts of South America and North Oceania.

A really “defensive” weapon system for a country with regional “enemies” and interests. Lets see if Jericho 5 will be able to strike the “regional enemies” in Mars.

And we are demanded to worry about Iran. Hmmmmm….

July 6th, 2009, 11:35 pm

 

majid said:

“Magid, Why engage in such inflammatory generalizations and comparisons? They seem pointlessly provocative and cannot lead to constructive dialogue or anything else useful.”

Thanks Mr. Dr. for the observation. However, I still fail to see how a constructive dialogue can ensue without putting things in proper perspective. I see your valid point about inflammatory language. In some cases, however as in this case, a dialogue may turn out to be counter productive with or without inflammatory language. Nevertheless, what is more inflammatory than hypocrisy?

July 6th, 2009, 11:58 pm

 

jad said:

Majid, Please hear me out:
Regardless of our previous attacks at each other I believe that you are a smart and polite man but very sensitive and emotional person who need to lead his emotion not the opposite.
You are a man with a strong believe as many of us that our Palestinian brothers and sisters rights and land has being taken away from them by force and it didn’t stop at that but it gets to a point where some Israelis are trying to deprive the Palestinians and Arabs under their occupation from any basic human rights of being HUMAN but still there are lots more of Israelis like Shai are trying to help which we need their help more than they need ours and believe me it’s as hard to do that for an Israeli inside Israel as hard as being a right activist in our undemocratic Arab countries.
The issue here is not your believe of right or wrong the issue is that we are going nowhere when we loose our sight for how to solve the problem, what are the accepted solution at hand and how can we use our mind not our emotion to get to the middle of this tragedy we stuck in for the last 60 years and counting.
This is why we all understand your frustration and your anger of the ugly occupation but almost all of us disagree with your tactics and the word you use. That’s all, not one of us here have any personal issue whatsoever with you but the opposite we appreciate every true dialog that lead us to the middle point not pulling us back to the beginning.
I know very well that you understand my point clearly and I honestly hope that you can be part of a productive dialog without the need for any insult or personal attack on anybody, you obviously don’t need that at all, you have the right at your side, beside, you are way better, more educated and defiantly higher than any radical from any religion or political background and I hate when someone like you be put side by side with some true hardcore radical character because it’s so very unfair.
That was a very honest words to you Majid, and I hope that you listen, but be sure that I’ll keep disagreeing with you though.
Thank you*
*you know why I put the sign for (I mean it)

July 7th, 2009, 12:42 am

 

norman said:

Israel will not return the Golan to Syria unless Syria is willing to fight for it and Israel has the feeling that their losses can be huge if it does not , as president Bush told Olmert , why do you want to give him the Golan , syria should show Israel what she can lose a Lott if it doesn’t.

Israel will not return the Golan to because Syria honored it’s commitment in the last 40 years it will do that only under pressure and the threat of war, they never gave anything without war.

July 7th, 2009, 12:53 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Israel will not return the Golan to Syria unless Syria is willing to fight for it…

Norman,

It would help if you could tell the whole story. But no one on this website wants to discuss the obvious.

I will.

Syria was willing to fight for the Golan back in 1973. So, what you are saying has been true for a long time. It is now 36 years later. Why doesn’t Syria fight for the Golan anymore?

Also, you haven’t touched on what the State of Israel will get in return for giving up those fine vineyards and the strategic high ground that overlooks all of Northern Israel (aka the Golan)? What will Israel require in this little “land for peace” deal, and why doesn’t Syria comply?

July 7th, 2009, 1:36 am

 

norman said:

Good Reading ,

Analysis: Syria’s way out of the ‘Shi’ite Axis of Evil’

Jul. 7, 2009
moshe maoz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Monday’s news that Saudi Arabia will appoint an ambassador to Syria signifies a gradual effort by the western world and moderate Arab nations to extract Syria away from the “Shi’ite Axis of Evil” and to strengthen relations with the West under the aegis of the American administration.

Reports of the appointment come amidst the backdrop of the Syrian-Saudi-Lebanese summit, set to convene in Damascus next week, and US President Barack Obama’s announcement that the US will also appoint an ambassador to Syria.

The Saudi ambassador appointment and the combined effort of the United States and other western nations to foster better relations with Syria stem from a legitimate Iranian threat to the region’s interests and oil resources. A nuclear Iran has the capability not only to threaten Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations with war, but also to demand oil concessions in the hope of dominating the Middle Eastern market.

The Americans hope that their push for better relations with Syria will force the Syrian government to better patrol the Iraqi border and stop the infiltration of foreign fighters into Iraq. In addition, the Americans are likely to demand that Syria reject North Korean military aid. In exchange, it is possible that the United States will replace North Korea as the major arms provider to Syria, similar to the Americans’ replacement of Soviet aid in Egypt.

Iran’s inexorable isolation from the world and its disputed nuclear program threaten to isolate the much more moderate Syrian regime. If Syria chooses to sever its relations with Iran and Hizbullah, new doors may open up for a possible détente with the West and Israel, including the return of the Golan Heights. In the event of a Syrian-Western alliance, Syria could receive economic-military aid from the Arab Gulf States and the United States.

Despite the opposition of the Israeli public to returning the Golan, the political establishment is willing to do such in an agreement that would pass muster with the Israeli public. This would include a major change in Syria’s relationship with Iran, and a cessation of Syrian support to Hizbullah.

In fact, most Israeli prime ministers, with the exception of Ariel Sharon, have had no major objections to relinquishing the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, which was never part of the “Greater Israel” vision. Moreover, Israel would find it much easier to have a satisfied Syria manage a Palestinian peace agreement, rather than deal directly with Hamas or Fatah.

Syria’s relationship with Iran is becoming increasingly onerous and while Syrian President Bashar Assad wants to maintain his Iranian ties, he cannot afford to play both cards. In the event that Israel attacks Iran or vice versa, Syria would be drawn into a regional war, from which it would have nothing to gain. A conventional army like Syria’s, unlike the forces of Hamas or the insurgency in Iraq, would lose in a military conflict with Israel or the West.

In the case of a future Syrian-Western alliance, Iran and Hizbullah will be more isolated than they currently find themselves. Hizbullah would lose a major economic and military supporter, and Iran would lose more ground to the Sunni Arab alliance. While this may push Hizbullah further into the Lebanese political arena, the group may also turn to terrorist action against their former sponsors.

Moshe Ma’oz is professor emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at The Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He was interviewed by Alex Sorin.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1246443737432&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2009 The Jerusalem Post – http://www.jpost.com/

July 7th, 2009, 3:10 am

 

majid said:

Thanks for the kind words JAD. I too don’t have grudge relating to the past. Some points I agree, some I disagree. But this is what you want. So in reality there is no disagreement.

Alex,
Same thing applies to your comment in 38. Disagree on the last part. No, We don’t have to specifically because of the reason you mentioned.

July 7th, 2009, 5:27 am

 

Avi said:

Majid you see what a rasist person you are,”zionists are parasites” in other words the jews that came to israel are just parasites with absolutly no right to israel!i hope the devil swollows you with your hate your lies and your propaganda.Israel has a right to exist and just because our people have a peculiar history they were exiled and then came back does not make us less a people than palestinians syrians or lebanese and as for war well because you are too rasist thats the only thing you give us and then when israel survives you cry out against occupation !stop your aggression and oppression of israel!and as for the human rights of palestinians what do you prefer to be palestinian in syria lebanon or israel?where are there human rights you liars!

July 7th, 2009, 10:13 am

 

Shai said:

Avi,

I don’t like racists of any type, be they Muslim, Christian, Shinto, or Jewish.

But please do not confuse feelings of an “historical right” to this land with human rights abuse carried out continuously over the past 40 years, against a people who unequivocally belong to this land as well. An argument such as “where would you rather live, in North Korea, or here?” does not absolve you from your crimes.

And to be fair, I would certainly rather live as a Palestinian in any of the Arab states today, than to be starving in Gaza. And so would you.

July 7th, 2009, 10:35 am

 

Avi said:

but shai is it a crime not to let a people destroy your nation??is it a crime to be israeli?or to be a zionist?who is the oppressed?and gaza of coarse i would not like to live in…but who’s fault is it in gaza?? the israelis or the gaza people themselves or the people that follow the iranian model in gaza ….And what life is their to be a palestinian in lebanon or syria??how can you compare it to a palestinian in the west bank or israel??why is it so easy to spit on israel when reality suggests that the arabs treat even worse the palestinians?So the same question again shai….who is the oppressed the israelis that are trying to survive or the stateless palestinians or both??i do not agree from the beginning the defenition that most people give in this blog to zionism or even israel…i find it disgusting rasist and full of lies!

July 7th, 2009, 12:50 pm

 

Shai said:

Avi,

Most people on this forum believe in peace and, therefore, accept that such a peace will have to be made with Israel and with Israelis. Most believed in a two-state solution, but as time passes, that option is becoming a non-option which, oddly enough, seems to be right in line with what many in Israel prefer as well… So you needn’t fear that the Arabs’ definition of “Israel” is very different from yours (assuming you don’t believe in a “Greater Israel”).

As for Zionism, I don’t think it is useful to argue here what it’s true definition might be, and quite frankly because what Israel has done over the past 60 years and certainly over the past 40, on behalf of Zionism, is illegal and unacceptable. This is not only something the Arabs believe, this is something the rest of the world believes as well. No one, with the exception of Micronesia maybe, has ever accepted the West Bank, Gaza, or the Golan as Israeli territory. And yet we have settled these territories, while suffocating and subjugating its native population. And what has been the excuse? “They want to throw us to the sea…”

I certainly hope you don’t seriously consider us Israelis “the oppressed”, and the Palestinians “the oppressors”. If you’ve ever served in the Territories as a soldier, you know which is which.

By the way, I know the fear-industry is selling well (I wish there was a Fear Stock Exchange in Tel-Aviv – I’d have made millions by now), and phrases such as “destroy our nation” are selling super-well. But would you please take a moment to describe how precisely “they” are about to destroy our nation? Do you mean that thousands of $10 Qassam rockets lobbed at one or two Israeli towns, 99.9% of which land in open fields, and which kill about 30 people in 9 years, pose an “existential threat” to Israel? Have the hundreds of G’rad missiles fired from S. Lebanon destroyed Israel? Will an Iranian nuclear bomb destroy Israel?

In fact, what does “destroy Israel” mean exactly? I think it’s time us normally-paranoid readers finally heard, once and for all, a clear definition. So that we better understand what we’re supposed to be afraid of, that is…

July 7th, 2009, 2:08 pm

 

Avi said:

Really shai we are not in danger why don’t you go to south lebanon or in poor gaza and tell them that you are israeli lets see who will be sufficating then?why don’t you shai accept also this reality that we live in a very cruel neighboorhood and that we must be prepared for war or peace??why don’t you accept also the fact that conquered territories were taken so that the arabs would stop attacking us so easily specially the west bank gaza or the golan!wake up shai people like majid do not want peace they do not want to build they want to destroy!and they also represent the majority in our neighboorhood and you know what ask majid if you don’t believe me!

July 7th, 2009, 2:30 pm

 

Shai said:

Avi,

I agree that people like Majid do not want peace. I am not talking about people like Majid. I am talking about the majority of Arabs who DO want peace, and peace with Israel, not with a figment of some imagination.

I don’t know what history books you’ve read, but no Israeli politician planned to conquer the West Bank, the Golan, or Gaza for strategic purposes. Who exactly will “attack us so easily” from the West Bank? The 1st Fatah Armoured Division? The 29th Palestinian Naval Armada? What Syrian tank is going to roll off the Golan Heights, on its route to Tel-Aviv, in this day and age when our satellites can read the numbers off license plates in Damascus, Riyadh, and Tehran?

Who, Avi, who is this evil enemy you’re so afraid of? Who is going to “destroy our nation”? And you still haven’t defined what it means to destroy our nation. Please do so, for our benefit and for yours.

July 7th, 2009, 2:37 pm

 

Avi said:

Shai the generals that planned to attack in 1967 were ariel sharon and itzhak rabin!and no most arabs in the middle east because of the education at home or at school simply hate jews and do not understand the history of our people at all (zionism) and yes shai these people are the majority if not peace there would have been allready since in israel as you know most of us are for peace!and the enemy shai are those who want to destroy the nation like it or not believe it or not..if you think they have a moral right to do so why don’t you just hang yourself it would go quicker and the enemies would just love it…but i will hate it!

July 7th, 2009, 2:41 pm

 

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