Who Won the War in Gaza?

With both Israel and Hamas having agreed to ceasefires, the analysis has begun.

No one can doubt that Israel won. It killed more people, wounded many more, and destroyed more than did the Palestinians. Also, only a few of the poorer and more inconsequential countries in the world got worked up about the lopsided killing. Only 10 Israelis lost their lives in the operation and about half were killed by friendly fire. Israel will be able to celebrate a handy win no matter how one counts it.

All the same, one wonders where the victory leads. A few post ago, I conjectured that Israel’s long term plan must be to drive the unwanted population centers and surrounding territory of Palestine into the hands of Egypt and Jordan. It is hard to imagine a two-state solution anymore.

John Mearsheimer in an article entitled, “Another War, Another Defeat” published in theAmerican Conservative argues that Israel believes it can retain control over the territories indefinitely. He believes the Gaza campaign is a foretaste of what will become an on-going Israeli police operation to pacify Palestinians and try to break their will – “so they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people.” He writes that the stated goals of the Gaza operation — to stop the rockets and restore Israel’s deterrence posture – are not the real objectives. He writes:

The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

If Jordan and Egypt can resist the logic of absorbing the Palestinian populations of Gaza and the West Bank, which it seems they can do, then Mearsheimer will be correct. Israel will have to teach every new generation of Palestinians to be supine. This is a difficult undertaking, but perhaps not impossible. many will point to the success the US has had in defeating its autochthonous peoples, but, of course the US was willing to absorb native Americans and permit them equal rights. Israel cannot do this, which makes it hard to see a final solution.

There are many other interesting articles in the same issue: By Avi Shlaim, How Gaza became a Palestinian prison. Operation Cast Ballot, By Tom Streithorst, Kadima seeks votes through violence. Picking Up the Peace, By Daniel Levy, What happens after the ceasefire? Unanimous Consent, By Glenn Greenwald,

See http://incoherenci.blogspot.com/ for a good overview of different analysis of Gaza.

Also read Mark Perry, “Questions for Barack Obama,” at Bitter Lemons. Mark is always smart.

Speaking in an interview with The Washington Post, Obama on Saturday sought to manage expectations of what his administration may initially be able to do in the Middle East. “Most people have a pretty good sense about what the outlines of a compromise would be, Obama said, noting that the problem is political weakness on both sides. Obama said he aimed “to provide a space where trust can be built” and pointed to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s suggestion “to build some concrete deliverables that people can see,” such as greater security for Israelis and economic benefits for Palestinians.”

Gaza: Grief and devastation as fighting abates

Syria’s Assad ready to cooperate with Obama
Sat Jan 17, 2009

BERLIN (Reuters) – Syria is ready to cooperate with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and wants him to get seriously involved in the Middle East peace process, President Bashar al-Assad told a German magazine.

In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Assad also expressed some caution about future relations and said he preferred to talk about hopes rather than expectations.

Ties between the West and Syria have been strained by U.S. accusations that Syria turned a blind eye to Islamist fighters infiltrating Iraq and in 2004 Washington imposed sanctions on Syria for backing anti-American groups in the region.

Syria has, however, regained a degree of approval in Europe after supporting a peace pact for Lebanon and forging diplomatic ties with its neighbor after years of dominating it.

Asked if he expected cooperation to be easier with Obama, Assad said:

“I would talk more about hope than expectation. The Bush government has bestowed two wars on us. The world situation has deteriorated in the last eight years in every way, everything has got worse, including economic developments.”

“The new U.S. government must get seriously involved in the peace process. We must help, together with the Europeans.”

Responding to a comment from Der Spiegel that Obama might ask Syria to stop Iran building a nuclear bomb, Assad said:

“We would like to contribute to the stabilization of the region. But we must be included, not isolated, as we have been until now. We are ready for any kind of cooperation.”

He added, however, that Syria would put its own interests first. “Good relations with Washington should not mean bad relations with Tehran,” he said.

Assad also said in the interview, which was conducted on Thursday, that he had been active in making suggestions to help end the conflict in Gaza.

Arab and Muslim states on Friday called on Arab countries to review their ties with Israel over its offensivein Gaza which has killed more than 1,200 Palestinians and to suspend an Arab peace initiative.

Assad also said many European officials had tried to communicate with Hamas. “The Europeans have learned. That is why they are talking to the Hamas leadership here in Damascus — of course not publicly. I won’t name names. But some are people who denounce Hamas,” said Assad.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers)

Syria Makes Its Mark on Regional Politics
Analysis by Helena Cobban*

DAMASCUS, Jan 16 (IPS) – The main artery of Damascus’s famous covered souk (market) sports a giant red banner expressing — in Arabic and English — the disgust and anguish of a nearby private business for the Israeli military’s attacks on Gaza.

In restaurants and other businesses, large-screen televisions that usually play sports are instead tuned to Al-Jazeera’s 24-hour coverage from Gaza. Syrians of all social groups voice sadness — and considerable anger — about Israel’s war on Gaza and the George W. Bush administration’s refusal to press for a speedy ceasefire.

But even amid these emotions, Syrians close to and outside the government expressed some confidence that their country might soon be able to realise two long-held national goals: The resumption of a serious, comprehensive peace process in which all the remaining tracks of the Arab-Israeli conflict — including their own — could finally be resolved, and their escape from the encirclement and multi-faceted pressure that Washington has subjected them to for many years.

On Jan. 14, President Bashar al-Assad told the BBC that he hoped for greatly improved relations with Washington following the inauguration of Barack Obama as president on Jan. 20. He urged the president-elect to work for the speedy resumption of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.

On that very same day, Obama told CBS News said that he is going to work toward a comprehensive peace in the Middle East “on day one” of his presidency, and that this would include Iran and Syria. “We’re going to have to take a regional approach,” he said. “We’re going to have to involve Syria in discussions. We’re going to have to engage Iran.”…….

…The pro-Israel lobby in Washington and its many powerful allies in the U.S. Congress and the executive branch were at the forefront of the anti-Syria campaign. Syria has been subject since 1979 to stiff economic sanctions because of its place on the State Department’s — highly politicised — list of “state sponsors of terrorism”……

…Though President Assad does face some criticisms from his country’s citizens, on the core issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict and social equity he represents their views much more accurately than do the leaders of U.S.-backed Arab countries like Egypt or Jordan.

Many Syrians have also said in recent years that the mayhem and mass killings that flowed from the U.S. invasion of neighbouring Iraq made them appreciate the social and political stability of their own country much more than they had before. (Syria has been a generous host to some 700,000 refugees from post-2003 Iraq.)…

….So now — as the tragic events in Gaza drag on and the Bush administration enters its last hours — many influential Syrians are starting to feel cautiously optimistic. “There is a feeling that we backed the right horses in international politics,” one political scientist here said. “In 2005, a ’six-month scenario’ for the Assad government was openly talked of in the west. But now, there’s a good feeling here that we’ve overcome that… Those who bet against Syria did not win.”

He and a number of his colleagues in the political elite here pointed out that Syria, which has good relations with a broad range of actors in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese political scenes, could contribute a lot to any international push to build a stable peace in the region.

“But don’t ask us to break our relations with Hamas, Hizbullah or Iran,” one think-tank head warned. “Those relations are strategic ones for us. And anyway, we can use them to help broaden the base for peace throughout the region.”

If Barack Obama, once inaugurated, does push for a speedy and serious resumption of Middle East peacemaking, he will likely find a willing partner in Damascus.

*Helena Cobban is a veteran Middle East analyst and author. She blogs at http://www.JustWorldNews.org

London Times

“…If it is launched as a deliberate incendiary weapon aimed at burning civilians and homes, a war crimes case can be made on the basis that its use violates Protocol 111 of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Despite growing evidence, first revealed by The Times , that white phosphorus was being used by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) during attacks on Gaza, Israel’s military has denied firing shells with the chemical as a payload. Spokesmen for the IDF haverepeatedly stated that Israel has used only weapons that meet international rules on warfare, and that it has not resorted to any system that other countries, including Nato members, have not deployed in past battles. The evidence that white phosphorus shells have been fired into a densely packed urban is so compelling that the denials have increasingly lacked credibility…”

An ICG Report
Engaging Syria? Lessons from the French Experience

“However, President-elect Obama’steam can already garner important lessons from France’s always energetic, often impulsive and at times contradictory approach:

* To begin, in the wake of a long hiatus in bilateral relations – a feature of President Chirac’sand President Bush’s tenures – both sides likely will require a significant period of mutual observation and trust-building. Quick results, in other words, ought not to be anticipated. Next, any successful relationship must be based on clear and steady objectives rather than an endless list of demands.

* Patience during negotiations is as important as swiftness when opportunity strikes. Haste, when Sarkozy displayed overenthusiasm, at best was futile, at worst encouraged Damascus to harden its position and play for time. But by immediately welcoming and rewarding Syria’s first positive gestures, France bolstered its credibility while nudging Damascus to move. There should be no hesitation to halt dialogue if events warrant, while maintaining informalcommunication to allow quick reaction at the appropriate moment. For Washington’s new team, this entails immediately acknowledging and reciprocating positivesteps and penalising negative ones.

*Finally, there are lessons for those in the U.S. who bank on a Syrian-Iranian split. This will not occur, at least under current circumstances. However, the willingness to normalise relations with France suggests the regime wishes to diversify its strategic alliances. Washington should promote such a trend, which inevitably would dilute Iran’s importance in Syria’s eyes and facilitate a gradual reconfiguration of its regional alliances…”

Sunday morning, ICRC teams and ambulances of the Palestine Red Crescent Society rushed to areas that had previously been difficult or even impossible to get to because of the fighting.

By midday, approximately 100 badly decayed bodies had been retrieved from under the rubble.

Sadly, no survivors were found, raising fears that the actual death toll could climb in coming days.

Many people who had fled went to extract their own dead loved ones from what had once been their home.

Some were transporting bodies by whatever means they could find for immediate burial in the cemeteries.

“We saw the bodies of two old women being taken away by family members on a donkey cart.

Both had head wounds,” said Iyad Nasr, the ICRC’s spokesman in Gaza.

“It is almost impossible to describe the grief and devastation in that particular place.” A number of areas, including parts of Beit Lahiya, looked like the aftermath of a strong earthquake – entire neighbourhoods were beyond recognition.

Some houses had been completely levelled; others were still standing but were so badly damaged by shelling that it would be too dangerous to move back in.

Roads were completely destroyed, making it almost impossible for vehicles to move through them.

Friends and neighbours who had not seen one another for weeks hugged as they returned to their homes.

Others sifted through the rubble, looking for pieces of furniture or kitchen utensils that could still be used.

As the fighting largely came to a halt and civilians no longer had to concentrate on simple survival, they now tried to come to terms with their loss.

“An old man approached me as I was assessing destruction in a neighbourhood,” said Nasr.

“He told me that everything he had worked for all his life, everything he had achieved, had been destroyed: his house, his orchards of olive, citrus and palm trees.


Then he wept….

Israel’s Barak gains in polls, Netanyahu stays ahead
18 Jan 2009, Reuters
(Adds fresh poll data, edits) By Ari Rabinovitch JERUSALEM, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Just before Israel launched its surprise offensive in the Gaza Strip, Defence Minister Ehud Barak appeared on a top- …

Hamas’s Gaza leader declares “victory” over Israel
18 Jan 2009, Reuters
GAZA, Jan 18 (Reuters) – A Hamas leader said on Sunday Israel’s three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip was a failure and had not cowed the Palestinians. “The enemy has failed to achieve its …

Comments (34)

MAJID said:

Dr. Landis says “All the same, one wonders where the victory leads. A few post ago, I conjectured that Israel’s long term plan must be to drive the unwanted population centers and surrounding territory of Palestine into the hands of Egypt and Jordan. It is hard to imagine a two-state solution anymore.”

So Joshua, was Mubarak right all along? That’s what he has been telling the Palestinians all the time.

And what did Assad and Nejjad do all this time to help the Palestinians when they were massacred? It seems they only paid lip service to the poor Palestinians and did their utmost to prolong the suffering. I’m also curious about the so-called resistance of Hezbollah. It seems they were resisting through speeches and empty talk just like the other Arabs!!

Just like Olmert who sat in Sharm al-Sheikh proud of his ‘achievement’, Meshaal and Assad sat in Doha with equal pride celebrating their impotence at the expense of massacred children, women and the elderly in Gaza. What a pathetic bunch of retros!!

Was it really worth it? Or was it just pure sheer madness?

January 19th, 2009, 12:28 am


ugarit said:

On balance: Evaluation of the Israeli festival of slaughter and butchery in Gaza

From war to war (which is a title of a book by Nadav Safran), that is the context in which we need to evaluate our century-old conflict with Israel. You can’t isolate each chapter or war or slaughter and analyze it without the larger context of the conflict. The press conference by the Israeli prime minister and his defense minister was remarkable: less triumphalist than usual, and certainly vague about goals and successes. Now we can evaluate the goals within the context of Israel’s declared goals, and within the context of Israel’s strategic plan. For somebody of my age, I can say this at first: that from 1948 until the 1990s, every Israeli military success more smashing the one before: the 1973 was a different story because it was the only Arab-Israeli war that was initiated by the Arab side (remarkable when you think about the propaganda of the “beleaguered Israel”), and it was bungled by the Egyptian (Nazi) dictator, Anwar Sadat (Jimmy Carter’s favorite personality and friend), and Israel (contrary to present-day Arab states’ propaganda) wound up winning overall at the end. So Israel’s strategic posture was predicated on intimidating 1) the armies of the enemy; 2) the population of the enemy. Israeli psychological warfare succeeded for decades in convincing the enemy that Israel is way too mighty and way too invincible to be damaged by any military effort. Arabs reached a mood of defeatism that permeated the political culture, and helped in securing the survival and propaganda of the ruling regimes. Israel’s tactic was meant to discourage any political violence or even defense from the other side. You also need to compare to the times when Israel faced non-state actors: we have different episodes: from Al-Karamah battle in 1968 (a crucial watershed in fida’iyyin recruitment), to the various chapters of Israeli invasions of Lebanon culminating in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I am quite familiar and witnessed the responses to Israeli invasions of Lebanon. It is in that context that I find Gaza (under siege and cut off from the world with Egypt playing the role of the ally of Israel) to be an utter failure for the Israeli side. I never expected much from Hamas in terms of military effectiveness, and I think that the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi-Dahlan plan was based on a low estimation of Hamas’ military effectiveness. In previous confrontations in the West Bank or in Lebanon in the 1980s, the Israeli military would bomb from the air for a day or two, and then advance swiftly. And that was exactly what happened in the invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982: now, the lack of stiff resistance back then had to do with many factors, including the lousy leadership of `Arafat (who cared about preserving his little empire more than about resistance and who is not dead enough as far as I am concerned, and may his grave deepen), the gap between people of the South and the resistance, and the financial regularization of the PLO’s fighting force, and the psychological factor that often curtailed the ability of the fighting force, all helped the Israeli plan. True, there was stiff resistance in some places: like Rashidiyyah and `Ayn Al-Hilwah but it was sporadic and disorganized. Only in West Beirut, a strong fighting force was prepared and they were ready for a confrontation with Israel, and that is why Israel never invaded the city: it only waited until the evacuation of the fighters and then supervised the butchery of the women and children in the Sabra and Shatila camps–slaughter of women and children is a classic specialty of the Zionist forces even before the establishment of the state. But Hamas performed far better than the expectations of its enemies and even of its leadership in Syria and Lebanon. Israel would have succeeded if it achieved what it wanted: to achieve an unconditional surrender of Hamas. That’s what it used to get from Fatah in the West Bank: Arafat would negotiate the terms of his surrender with third-parties and that would be that (like in Bethlehem). Yet, Hamas defiance and the launching of rockets continued to the last day–in fact it continues as I write this from what I see on the screen. Hamas leaders did not leave as Fatah leaders and fighters would (in the era under Arafat-Dahlan-Rajjub in the West Bank bantustan after Oslo), but continued in stiff resistance and defiance to the very last end. So Israel failed in 1) achieving a total surrender of Hamas; 2) in propping up the Dahlan-Abu Mazen gangs who are more discredited today than ever. Early in the campaign, Dahlan appeared on Al-Arabiyya and on Egyptian TV and was quite bombastic because he was expecting that the matter would be over in the first week. When that did not happen, he disappeared, and some say that he went back to Montenegro–his news base. 3) Israel failed in achieving a victory that it needed: a victory that would once and for all put to rest the humiliating defeat of Israel in 2006. Hamas knew that its performance was extremely influential in possibly dramatically altering the image of the Israeli soldiers in the eyes of all Arabs: fighters and lay people alike, and it knew that expectations were in building on the performance on Hizbullah in 2006; 4) Israel failed in creating a rift between the Palestinian people and Hamas, just as it failed to create a rift between the population of the South and Hizbullah, its silly SMS messages notwithstanding; 5) Israel failed in putting an end to the rockets; 6) Israel failed in smashing Hamas; 7) Israel failed in creating a new psychological climate in the Middle East: it was expected that Israel would use more massive and indiscriminate violence than before, and that it would try to “shock and awe” more than before because it wanted to kill the image of its humiliation in South Lebanon. That was not accomplished despite the high number of casualties among the civilians. 8) Israeli prime minister today bragged about intelligence successes: but that was inflated. It is true the killing of two Hamas leaders (along with tens of innocent civilians but that is how Israel “assassinates”) was a success for Israel but there are other Hamas leaders. Plus, Israel policy of assuming that an organization would die by killing the leader has always been one of the many dumb Israeli miscalculations. The most recent case was in 1992 when Israeli terrorist leaders killed Abbas Musawi (and his family) and they got…Hasan Nasrallah instead. I have no doubt that they probably now regret killing Musawi. And Hamas now operates on the assumption that all leaders may die and they have most likely structured the organization on that assumption, unlike the centrally run, say, DFLP or Fatah under `Arafat. 9) Israel failed to build on the years-old Saudi policy of mobilizing Arab public opinion against Iran, instead of Israel. That clearly failed miserably. If anything, Arab public opinion is more mobilized against Israel than any other time in memory. 10) Israel failed to sell its slaughter as a legitimate contribution to the “war on terrorism”. Clearly, the scenes of carnage offended public opinion around the world with the exception of the US and the UN embassy of Micronesia. But there are successes: if Israel was aiming to kill a very large number of women and children, that was achieved to a large measure. Very knowledgeable sources in Beirut tell me that only 5% of Hamas’ fighting abilities were damaged in this war thus far, and there will be another round no doubt. But think about Karamah battle. In Karamah: a lot of the lore was built by Arafat’s bombast and a unit of the Jordanian army fought with the Palestinian resistance. This time around, Arab and particularly Palestinian public opinion will look with admiration at the performance of Hamas during this 22 days. It is commonly estimated that some 20,000 Palestinians volunteered in the resistance movement after Karamah, and I expect a region-wide campaign of recruitment to the benefit of Hamas. Israel’s choice of Palestinian leadership (supported by Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt), i.e., Dahlan gangs, are discredited beyond repair. I mean, when I read in Saudi newspapers description of Dahlan as an Israeli stooge, you know how Palestinian opinion will regard him–and the fleeing of his men in their underwear did not help either. From 1968 to 1978, the Fatah movement transformed from a band of fighters in Jordan to an army (badly run to be sure by Arafat) with all sorts of heavy weapons. There is now a point of no-return: Arabs are no more afraid of Israeli soldiers. From that loss, Israel shall never recover and it will expedite the inevitable process of the elimination of Zionism from Palestine. The confrontation with Israel is cumulative, and this culmination is now not in the interests of Israel. Many Arabs now talk about the defeat of Israel: I rarely heard those sentiments before 2006.
Posted by As’ad at 2:20 PM


January 19th, 2009, 1:07 am


Off the Wall said:


Am i to assume that you believe that Israel was reacting to Hamas-Syria-Hezbulla and not simply ocntinuing a policy of terrorism and violence to subjugate the palestinians. This murder has been in planning for 18 months, as was the war on Lebanon. Is it worth it?, Ask the Israelis, not their victims. And on your way, Ask Mubarak, who along with the two Abduallas, and some others have drank the fear of Shia cool aid to a point that blinded their already thin morality.

I do not care what Asad, Mashal, or Nejad did or said at Doha. But i hope you recognize that the past thee weeks have demonstrated that either Egypt, KSA, and Jordan can not make a soverign decision when it comes to Israel, or it showed that Israel is a pupet of the three stooges as it sent its soldiers on a murder rampage to save their throwns. The latter is abviously not true, and we are left with the former as the only explanation.

I understand the bind in which egypt finds itself, but the $3 billion US and EU aid does not cover much of Egupt’s needs, unless, and the amount jordan gets is as meager. The two have much better chance avoiding the Israeli plan with a legitinate palestinian government, not a government which refused to abide by the results of election.

Robert Fisk noted that al-Arish meeting comes on the 90th anniversary of the Paris conference that started the whole tragedy. The countries present are almost the same, with the exception of the three ….., you fill the blank.

No single drop of a child, Israeli or Palestinian is worth maintaining these monarchs and presimarchs, not Assad, not Mubarak, or the two abudls. Not a single drop should be worth an electoral victory, or paving the road for yet another heriditary president, infested with the virus of corruption.

Egypt is in dire situation, Mubarak’s policies are unsustainable, and the country is heading into an abyss. And what does he do, he spends his time defending the so-called egypt leadership role of a bunch of corrupt fossils. I wonder how much will he get for the photo op with the leaders of the Colonial powers. Or perhaps he paid the cost of hosting them. Funny though, his heroism was manifested by not inviting Israel to the meeting. I say, what a victory. I wonder, was it worth it?

January 19th, 2009, 1:11 am


norman said:

To All,

I think we should stop crying and start doing and preparing for a long term war , Rights are taken not given , Israel never gave the weak Arabs anything , they only left Lebanon and Gaza because it was costly and that is how we can get the Golan and the West bank.

January 19th, 2009, 1:31 am


Joachim Martillo said:

Shlaim does not have a finance background and apparently missed Jabotinski’s ideology of ethnonational financial warfare when he was researching The Iron Wall.

January 19th, 2009, 2:23 am


Akbar Palace said:

Who Won the War in Gaza?

Hamas: 3 Zionists: 30

It was a hard fought game, but the Zionists caused more death and destruction.

I wonder if they’ll play again? I’m thinking Hamas wants another rematch.

Apparently, Norman agrees.

No single drop of a child, Israeli or Palestinian is worth maintaining these monarchs and presimarchs, not Assad, not Mubarak, or the two abudls.


How did Assad’s name get into the mix. I thought he was “special”!

And what did Assad and Nejjad do all this time to help the Palestinians when they were massacred? It seems they only paid lip service to the poor Palestinians and did their utmost to prolong the suffering. I’m also curious about the so-called resistance of Hezbollah. It seems they were resisting through speeches and empty talk just like the other Arabs!!


Has it ever occurred to you that maybe these despots don’t want to turn their countroes iinto antoher Gaza??

January 19th, 2009, 3:27 am


jad said:

(It was a hard fought game, but the Zionists caused more death and destruction.)
Sick comment…Keep dancing!

January 19th, 2009, 4:02 am


Majid said:

Akbar said,

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe these despots don’t want to turn their countroes iinto antoher Gaza??”

Akbar, are you referring to the Assad exchange with the Moroccan delegate at the Doha meeting?

The Moroccan delegate ridiculed Assad for continuing to use proxy groups to conduct his wars from afar while his so-called Golan front has been quite for 40 years. Assad’s reply was very pragmatic and realistic as a matter of fact: “We will not risk destroying 180,000 Sq. Km. (area of Syria) for the sake of 1000 Sq. Km. (the area of the Golan).” I think the guy knows what he is talking about.

January 19th, 2009, 4:47 am


Alex said:


AP, AIG and Chris, support is on its way!

“05:41 Israel forms `army of bloggers` to combat anti-Zionist Websites (Haaretz)”

January 19th, 2009, 5:18 am


Off the Wall said:

Add to that list the racist regime of Israel. I did not write explicitly, but you seem to have missed my reference to “electoral victory”. This is the most dirty election campaign and all participants including their enablers should be tried for this crime.

One day, your descendents will curse you and your ideology for it will cost them and ours very very dearly.

January 19th, 2009, 5:31 am


offended said:


Don’t worry dude, I understand your hang-ups about proxy war tactics. You’ve sent your Mujahedeen to Afghanistan in the 80s to fight the Jihad akbar (not palace) against the soviets but the whole thing has backfired.

Except that here Syria is not fighting through proxy. There is an indigenous resistance movement (not like the Mujs who were shipped to Kabul under the auspices of the CIA). And Syria does nothing but support this indigenous movement. How could Syria force the people of Gaza to die for Syria? Sounds illogical no?

January 19th, 2009, 5:36 am


Alex said:

Livni’s press conference at the press club in Washington.

January 19th, 2009, 6:12 am


offended said:

Alex, did I hear her correctly? Did she say there are arab states supporting Israeli war on Hamas because they don’t want to embolden extremist elements back home?

January 19th, 2009, 7:06 am


SimoHurtta said:

Who Won the War in Gaza?

Hamas: 3 Zionists: 30

It was a hard fought game, but the Zionists caused more death and destruction.

I would say
Hamas: 30 Zionists: short term 0 long term -300

Israel lost its Capo organizations influence to which it invested millions and much time and hopes.
Israel lost the support of Turkey.
Israel lost the so called “moderate Arab leaders” ability to support Israel in future.
Israel lost hundreds millions of supporters and neutrals around the world. Moderate Arabs became less moderate against Israel.
Diplomatically Israel has to show fast results with the “road map” or it is in great difficulties.

Hamas showed like Hizbollah that Israeli Attack Forces are rather poor in fighting against guerilla armies. Three weeks without any real results for Israel. Tunnels are back in business, rockets are flying, tens of thousands of new candidates as soldiers are queuing behind Hamas doors.

Hamas got international respect and most probably new “financial opportunities”.

January 19th, 2009, 7:11 am


Naji said:

Having only heard the IDF’s side of the story, perhaps everyone should have waited for this morning’s Qassam Brigades’ press conference, before pronouncing their final judgement and score of the war…!

The multitude of summits, conferences, and initiatives… and what actually sticks out of all that, has to also be counted into any final assesment.

January 19th, 2009, 8:51 am


ebw said:

This is a difficult undertaking, but perhaps not impossible. many will point to the success the US has had in defeating its autochthonous peoples, but, of course the US was willing to absorb native Americans and permit them equal rights. Israel cannot do this, which makes it hard to see a final solution.


First, we’re Indians or Native Peoples or something but not “autochthonous”.

Second, the Contact Period with Europeans didn’t just bring human agency, it also brought non-human agency (dual-host pathogens in particular, along with pigs and cows and horses and sheep and goats, etc), and independent of the intent of the dominant classes of the Iberio-Catholic, or the Franco-Catholic, or the Anglo-Puritan and subsequent Anglo-Protestant colonial enterprises, benign or malign, we lost 9/10ths of our population to germs.

Third, these colonial enterprises had the greatest depopulative effect, via disease and via human agency, in the temperate regions of the Americas, where European food culture, cereals in particular, could be transplanted.

So, looking at the colonial and post-colonial colonies south of New France and north of the valley of Mexico for guidance on a conflict between colonizers and colonized assumes a mortality and morbidity process without an actual parallel outside of isolate populations during the contact period.

Finally, US policy in your lifetime and mine, has been to terminate the Federal-Tribal relationship, and with that, any legal status of indians to land, water, minerals, etc., until Nixon restored the peer-to-peer relationship. If you want to portray Federal Indian Policy as benign, go ahead, just bear in mind that no one who works in Federal Indian Policy holds that view.

The right to vote was imposed on us, and states didn’t allow Indian voting until after you were born. My wife’s grandfather was only allowed to vote in Maine in the sixties.

I suppose it was only a moment’s thought that lead you to write the sentences I’ve quoted, and your intent was to solve for conditions in Palestine.

Wow! A click-to-edit time-window feature for comments. That is ultra-kwel!!!

January 19th, 2009, 8:52 am


idit said:

Who won the war?

What a stupid question.

Nobody wins. All sides lose.

January 19th, 2009, 9:02 am


Alex said:

I’m listening to Mubarak at the Kuwait summit … wow!!!

Bad actor trying to read a difficult script … he is pretending he is a genuinely nationalistic Arab leader who really cares about the Palestinian cause

Farouk Sharaa is staring at him waiting for the closed session to tell him what he thought of his acting.

But style aside, Mubarak passed a number of indirect threats and warnings to Syria and Hamas. He is reminding them that Egypt is the largest Arab country.

Bashar suggested calling the Zionist entity the “Terrorist entity”. He said “we do not hesitate to call any terrorist a terrorist, why should we shy from calling Israel what it is?”

January 19th, 2009, 10:20 am


Alia said:


What difference does it make what we call Israel? You referred earlier to the “maturity” of Assad. Does maturity include attempts at conflict resolution between the Arab and Muslim (Turkey&Iran) countries?
There must be a way they can come back to a common goal, which is presenting a common front to Israel, being one partner in a potential peace initiative that Obama is hinting to; that is where maturity shows itself. Why those hard lines ( I am aware of the politics)? Can someone act to bring them closer? Those are our eastern ways…why are we acting like barbarians? Then I will believe in “maturity”.

Israel has won the battle but not the war. The tide has turned but people who do not want to see that will not see it until it is too late.

For one, those pictures of murdered children have made it much much easier to speak against Israel. I intend to take full advantage of the matter, I am having them printed and making a poster, I have already one scheduled appearance at a church gathering in a couple of weeks to speak on the matter. My children will be using them in their schools…we will see Inshallah.

January 19th, 2009, 11:03 am


Naji said:

Wow… I think Josh, and everyone else, will dramatically revise their assessment of the Gaza War score after this Kuwait summit (beyond Mubarak’s pathetic bravado bit)…!! The “Moderates” are very conciliatory and groveling at Hamas/Syria’s feet, I could exaggerate.

January 19th, 2009, 12:11 pm


Naji said:

Another Wow for EBW @ #16 above… amazing blog ( http://wampum.wabanaki.net/ )… very learned, informed, astute, eloquent, and elegant. I guess I am recommending it to all…!

January 19th, 2009, 12:25 pm


Akbar Palace said:

One day, your descendents will curse you and your ideology for it will cost them and ours very very dearly.

My “ideology” (aka “self-preservation”) will enable me and my people to to have descendents.

Then they can curse or bless me as they see fit.;)

Majid you asked:

And what did Assad and Nejjad do all this time to help the Palestinians when they were massacred?

Then you added:

Assad’s reply was very pragmatic and realistic as a matter of fact: “We will not risk destroying 180,000 Sq. Km. (area of Syria) for the sake of 1000 Sq. Km. (the area of the Golan).” I think the guy knows what he is talking about.


You seem to have answered your own question, moreover, you seem satisfied from Assad’s reply.

I would say
Hamas: 30 Zionists: short term 0 long term -300


So you think Hamas “won” the war? Do you think Hamas should continue fighting, stop where they are, or just wait and attack Israel at a later date?

For one, those pictures of murdered children have made it much much easier to speak against Israel. I intend to take full advantage of the matter, I am having them printed and making a poster, I have already one scheduled appearance at a church gathering in a couple of weeks to speak on the matter. My children will be using them in their schools…we will see Inshallah.


Will you be constructing a poster of the 8000 or so missiles flying out of Hamastan into Israel, the damage they incurred and the disruption of life in Israel?

I know, it doesn’t matter. It’s just the Zionist Entity.

January 19th, 2009, 12:35 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Mubarak is not Stupid. Asad says that he will not destroy Syria for having the Golan. But Asad is willing to destroy Egypt.
Mubarak understand the risk of the MB. He knows that impoverished Egypt will not get any support from the west, when the MB takes Egypt.
He knows that Egyptian economy will suffer big time. No foreign tourist would go to MB-Egypt for vacation.
Mubarak knows that the MB wants to destroy Egypt ( to replace it with the Islamic Umma ).
Mubarak understands that the first to be slaughtered in the newly established MB-Umma ( ex-Egypt ) would be the present Egyptians who struggle bravely to bring some bread to Egyptians. With them gone, Egypt will starve to slow death.

Before disrespecting Mubarak, Salute him. For reading the grim Egyptian future, correctly.

January 19th, 2009, 1:14 pm


Naji said:

Huh… the Saudi, Egyptian, and Jordanian kings have just kissed and made up with our Bibo… how about that…!? This summit is turning out to be quite a turning point…!

January 19th, 2009, 1:20 pm


Qifa Nabki said:

What, exactly, are all of the anti-Egypt/KSA/Jordan protests really calling for? What do the Doha Summit attendees have in mind, in the way of an actual plan?

I know that we all derive endless pleasure from playing the which-is-the-top-Middle-Eastern-country game, but apart from stupid regional politics, is there really some kind of substantive alternative being offered by Syria/Iran/etc.?

Assad, Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, etc. want the ‘modarabs’ to abrogate their treaties with Israel, withdraw the peace initiative, and devote themselves fully to resistance.

Ok, I’m listening… And then what?

Haven’t got that far? I thought not.

We like to pat ourselves on the back and feel incredibly self-righteous about the fact that the modarabs would never actually follow through on our noble suggestion because they are stooges, puppets, etc. Just for the sake of argument, let’s consider another alternative: the modarabs are not following Assad’s “hardline” approach because it represents a complete strategic dead end, both for the regimes themselves as well as for the Palestinians.

It is wonderfully therapeutic to imagine a day where Egypt and Jordan cut their diplomatic ties, and the OPEC states issue a warning to the world that they intend to use the oil weapon unless an immediate solution is found. But has anyone tried to imagine what would happen on the following day? What would the solution consist of? What would we be demanding? A two-state result? A one-state result? How would we decide this? Who would represent the Palestinians? What about the refugees and all of the thorny issues of the right of return versus compensation, etc? A million questions bubble to the surface, questions that will not be answered by the bravado of a thrown gauntlet.

The resistance option is not much of an option until it can address these questions. Otherwise, it is just as improvisatory, reckless, and short-sighted as the ‘containment’ option pursued by the other side.

My two cents.

January 19th, 2009, 2:14 pm


Tom S said:

Cheeky use of the phrase “final solution” in the blog post…

January 19th, 2009, 3:03 pm


Naji said:

Perhaps the idea of the “resistance camp” is to make these “million questions” the other side’s problem… they can be creative enough when they have to… if they are denied the “easy” unjust, vicious, and hopelessly barbaric solution they are pursuing… and which the world had once sworn “never again”…!

January 19th, 2009, 3:12 pm


trustquest said:

Is great blog, neat, documentary and bold. I wished for Syrian Bloggers to get to this level, but every time they reach higher level in number and quality, the authority push them back years by blocking.
This blog: http://www.almarfaa.net/
Has contributed greatly to the recent war in Gaza, have a look at it. He is productive, smart, has initiative and great organizer. But, he has independent views from authorities in Syria.
That’s no good, what they did, they blocked his blog: http://www.almarfaa.net/?p=428
The real war of Gaza was through the domination of Media and blog sphere. There was over 250 post each day from http://www.israelforum.com/blog_archives.php , while Syrian bloggers did not reach 30 a day.
Which bring back the words used above, Maturity and Barbarians.
I wonder who think that despotic mind and behavior can anyone win anything?

January 19th, 2009, 3:13 pm


Alia said:


You are equating the “disruption of life of civilians” with the murder of children and are clueless enough to utter such horrible comparisons in front of others. Shame on you and on the people you represent!

January 19th, 2009, 3:27 pm


Joshua said:

Dear EBW – Many thanks for you critique and explanation of US-Indian policy. You are correct that I use the Native American experience as a gloss for Palestine. Sorry it was so ham fisted.

Of course, you are right that the comparison between Palestinians and Native Americans does not work because of the great difference in the balance of power and disproportionate number of European settlers.

All the same, the fact that Native Americans have the vote – even though imposed and in an effort to turn Indians into Americans and relieve them of “their legal status to land, water, minerals, etc.,” Indians can find success and material advancement for their children within a US context. This is something that Palestinians in the occupied territories cannot do. It means that Palestinian suffering will continue from one generation to the next without foreseeable end. I am sorry if it seemed that I wanted to “portray Federal Indian Policy as benign.” It has been anything but benign.

Tom S.. Yes, the use of final solution at the end of my post was cheeky.

January 19th, 2009, 3:33 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Alia states:

You are equating the “disruption of life of civilians” with the murder of children and are clueless enough to utter such horrible comparisons in front of others. Shame on you and on the people you represent!


There is no equating, and there is no comparing. The Palestinians suffered a great deal more than the Israelis.

That being said, I hope Hamas will not provoke the Israelis into further fighting. Israelis will NOT tolerate another 8000 missiles being fired into Israel from Gaza.

Will the Israelis tolerate 10, 100, 1000? I really don’t know. We can ask this question to the other 170 countries that make up the UN and get an average if that helps you.

January 19th, 2009, 5:33 pm


offended said:

You know Akbar, despite all your bias, it’s a courageous move on your part to admit that the palestinians are suffering more than the israelis. I’ve always known that deep down you’re not a bad person.

and no, that wasn’t sarcasm.

January 19th, 2009, 5:56 pm


Akbar Palace said:


If it matters to you, the Palestinians have ALWAYS suffered more than the Israelis. I am sorry they suffer.

That being said (TBS), I fault the Palestinians and their Arab cheerleaders for “the politics of martyrdom”.

Actually, I have visions where Arab and Jew can work together to make the ME an economic powerhouse that could surpass China and everyone else.

However, where this is a dream, the road to get there is really impossible with the terror-supporting regimes and their supporters.

For example, a few weeks ago a question was asked if Syria was a help or a hindrance with respect to ME peace. (I believe this question was asked when Chris started posting here.) As I recall, both Chris and I termed Syria to be an “instigator” of terror, not a supporter of peace. This was evident at Doha.


Thank you for the kind words despite our differences of opinion on the conflict. I have an emotional stake too, and so I don’t promise to be the perfect gentleman.

January 19th, 2009, 7:50 pm


why-discuss said:

Bleak assessment of the Gaza war by Israeli officials:
half the tunnels were destroyed… they can rebuild them easily..
Hamas under shock but well alive ..
” If this is victory so damned the victorious”, writes Ofer Shelah dans Maariv…

Opération “Plomb durci” : quelle “victoire” pour Israël ?
LE MONDE | 19.01.09 | 09h37 • Mis à jour le 19.01.09 | 09h37

‘opération Plomb durci a atteint ses objectifs et même au-delà”, a assuré le premier ministre israélien, Ehoud Olmert après l’annonce d’un cessez-le-feu israélien unilatéral. Le quotidien populaire Maariv a titré en “une”, sur la “Victoire”. Les tankistes de Tsahal, juchés sur leurs Merkava ont fait le “V” de la victoire en quittant leurs positions avancées. Mais le cessez-le-feu israélien était à peine entré en vigueur que des roquettes tombaient sur Israël, avant la trêve du Hamas.

Youval Diskin, chef du Shin Bet (sécurité intérieure), a indiqué que “le Hamas pourra reconstruire les tunnels en quelques mois et recommencer à faire de la contrebande d’armes”. Et l’armée estime que seulement la moitié d’entre eux (environ cinq cents) a été détruite. “Nous n’avons rien obtenu des objectifs annoncés lors du déclenchement de l’opération lancée le 27 décembre”, a aussitôt proclamé le numéro deux du Likoud, Silvan Shalom, un parti qui a annoncé son hostilité à la décision unilatérale de mettre fin aux combats.

Nombreux sont ceux qui ont déjà reproché au gouvernement de n’avoir pas pu libérer le caporal Gilad Shalit, séquestré depuis le 25 juin 2006 dans la bande de Gaza. Comme l’a fait remarquer Nahum Barnea, éditorialiste d’Yediot Ahronoth : “Le consensus national qui a prévalu en Israël pendant vingt-deux jours est mort le soir du cessez-le-feu.”

A quoi donc a servi l’opération “Plomb durci” si, au bout du compte, aucun des objectifs recherchés n’a été accompli et si, en plus, le prix payé par l’Etat juif sera beaucoup plus élevé qu’il ne l’imagine en terme d’image ? Outre le Vénézuela et la Bolivie, la Mauritanie a décidé de suspendre leurs relations diplomatiques. Le Qatar va fermer le bureau commercial israélien à Doha. Bachar Al-Assad, le président syrien, a affirmé qu’un plan de paix saoudien adopté par les vingt-deux Etats arabes, en mars 2002, à Beyrouth était désormais caduc. La Turquie, dont le premier ministre Racep Tayyip Erdogan, a tenu des propos très durs vis-à-vis d’Israël, a décidé de ne plus jouer les bons offices dans les pourparlers avec la Syrie.


Mahmoud Abbas, président de l’Autorité palestinienne et partenaire de négociations d’Israël, a été considérablement affaibli par cette guerre meurtrière et destructrice qui, si elle a amoindri les capacités militaires des islamistes, n’a pas permis d’en éliminer les cadres, à part deux d’entre eux. Si les chiffres de 15 000 à 20 000 combattants sont exacts, 500 à 600 d’entre eux auraient péri dans les combats, le reste étant constitué par des victimes civiles. La plupart étaient retranchés au cœur des villes, là où Tsahal ne s’est pas vraiment aventuré.

Si le Hamas a été ébranlé par cette offensive, le mouvement de la résistance islamique est toujours bien vivant. Sa capacité de résistance en fait, plus que jamais, une organisation incontournable, même si les Israéliens et le monde occidental refusent toujours de parler avec ses dirigeants. En saluant le cessez-le-feu israélien par une salve de roquettes avant d’appeler par la suite à une trêve d’une semaine pour faciliter l’acheminement de l’aide humanitaire et la poursuite de négociations pour aboutir à une solution concertée pour la réouverture des points de passage, le Hamas a d’ailleurs voulu signifier qu’il ne pouvait y avoir de solution durable à Gaza sans lui et que la fin du blocus du territoire restait pour lui une priorité.

N’en déplaise à Ehoud Olmert, qui a affirmé que “la force du Hamas allait décroître”, ces trois semaines de guerre risquent d’accroître son audience au sein de la population palestinienne, même si beaucoup de commentateurs estiment qu’il a commis une grossière erreur en ne reconduisant pas la trêve qui prévalait depuis juin, le 19 décembre 2008.

M. Olmert se dit fier d’avoir restauré la capacité de dissuasion de Tsahal après les manquements révélés par la deuxième guerre du Liban de l’été 2006. Mais Ahmad Aboul Gheit, ministre égyptien des affaires étrangères, critiquant le 17 janvier “l’intransigeance israélienne”, a dénoncé pour sa part “un pays ivre de puissance et de violence”.

M. Olmert a eu beau s’ingénier à dire “qu’Israël avait démontré une grande sensibilité en exerçant sa force de manière à éviter, autant que possible, de toucher les victimes civiles non impliquées dans la terreur”. L’usage de canon de char et de l’artillerie lourde sur des zones surpeuplées, a contredit cette affirmation. “Israël, qui voulait être une lumière pour les nations, est aujourd’hui fière d’avoir adopté l’échelle de valeurs de Vladimir Poutine. Si c’est cela la victoire, malheur aux vainqueurs”, écrit Ofer Shelah dans Maariv.

January 19th, 2009, 9:34 pm


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