Will US talk to Hamas? Many say, “Yes”

James Baker: Obama Has to Get Hamas Involved Peace Process, By Mehtap GUZEL, JTW

James A. Baker, former Secretary of State and former Treasury Secretary, told the Newsweek magazine that new American President Barack Hussein Obama must Hamas involved the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Baker said in the interview “you cannot negotiate peace with only half the Palestinian polity at the table. I would suggest an approach like we used leading up to the Madrid Conference in 1991. For the first time ever we got Israel’s Arab neighbors “all of them” to negotiate face to face with Israel. How? Back then, we nor Israel could talk to the PLO because, like Hamas, it was a terrorist organization. So we negotiated with Palestinians from within the territories whom we and Israel knew were taking their orders from [Yasir] Arafat in Tunis. But we both had deniability, and it worked!”

Baker further advised new president to engage Syria. “Syria’s marriage with Iran is one of convenience, and if we assured them they would get back the Golan and normalized relations with the U.S., we might wean them from Iran. Hamas has its offices in downtown Damascus. The Syrians claim that they can get Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. If they can do that, you would then have 100 percent of the Palestinian polity, with whom you might negotiate a peace accord” he added.

‘Inevitable’ that U.S. Will Have to Deal with Hamas
Richard W. Murphy, Adjunct Scholar, Middle East Institute
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
January 21, 2009

Richard W. Murphy, a veteran Middle East expert, says that just as the United States could have accomplished more in peacemaking between Israel and Palestinians if it had not banned talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization for some thirteen years, it is running the same kind of risk in not dealing at all with Hamas.

“I think we are now getting pulled into a more active position on the ground [in Gaza]. Whether this will lead to the opening of political contact with Hamas is the question. I don’t think it will happen quickly but I think it is inevitable. Hamas is, in my opinion, a legitimate representative of part of the Palestinian community.”

One of the problems, I would think, that the United States finds itself in is how to deal with Israeli-Palestinian issues when Washington will not talk to Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza. Is this problem the same as when you were in the State Department and the United States agreed with Israel not to deal at all with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)?

I do think there’s an analogy. We had explicitly pledged to the Israelis as part of the second disengagement agreement with Egypt in September 1975 not to “recognize or negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization as long as the Palestine Liberation Organization does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and does not accept Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.” That was a mantra which lasted thirteen years. In that time, we had no discussions with the PLO other than on security issues affecting our embassy in Beirut.

Were there efforts to alter the ban?

Throughout those years there were individuals encouraging us to have some contact with the PLO, to explore with them what possibilities there would be to include them in peacemaking. But we stuck very faithfully to that pledge.

“When we start playing intra-Palestinian politics, I believe we’re rather quickly in over our head.”

So did that hurt American diplomacy? Could the United States have done more in that period if we had dealt directly with the PLO?

I normally don’t play the “what if game,” but this is a case in which I’ve come to feel we would have been much better off and the region could have been better off had we engaged with the PLO in those early days. It would have been very controversial with Israel; it also would have been very controversial with Jordan since King Hussein did retain, in the 1970s, the belief that he could reassert his leadership over the West Bank. And the Jordanian option was very highly preferred by the Israelis. But it didn’t work. What happened in those years was the inexorable progress of the settler movement which has hamstrung the ability of the Israelis to make a deal with Palestinians and dented their credibility with the Palestinians. You can ask if there is any Israeli leader who is ready to tackle the settler movement and work out a deal which would meet minimal Palestinian expectations for a state of their own? So I’d say that our not engaging with the PLO delayed or limited our ability to influence it.

Yasir Arafat, the PLO leader, finally did go through the “striptease,” as he called it, and in one concise statement in December 1988 made the necessary statements. Within forty-eight hours, U.S. diplomats were talking to the PLO.

How does that relate to the United States not dealing with Hamas?

On Hamas, a group which has not, to my knowledge, ever launched a deliberate blow against the United States, such as the PLO did–even though some Americans have been killed in Hamas acts of terrorism in Israel. Right now there is a cease-fire. Israelis are determined to do nothing that will allow any degree of legitimacy to Hamas. There is the same strong Israeli opposition to this movement, as there was toward the PLO. But Israel found a way to deal with the PLO. Israeli Prime Minister [Yitzhak] Shamir with great unhappiness put up with the PLO presence within the Jordanian delegation at the Madrid conference in 1992. The PLO today, in the person of President Mahmoud Abbas, has been a favored negotiator. Ironically, in the 1970s, Hamas, which was seen by Israel as a counter to the PLO since Israel believed that Hamas would never have any serious appeal. There is now a defacto cease-fire in Gaza but you have the Israeli military spokesmen saying, “Watch out because it’s not so recently their rockets could reach only twenty kilometers; now they can go forty kilometers.” Israel is going to do it’s damndest to be sure that those tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are closed, and there’s going to be a lot of discussions and movement on the ground to see who will enforce the closing. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt does not want foreign forces on Egyptian territory, and Israel is going to be very insistent that those tunnels not become a conduit for weapons smuggling. Well, is Israel going to open the border crossing points? Is Israel going to open transit for food and medicine without restriction? Can that be done given their concerns about the weapons smuggling? I don’t know how that’s going to work out but I think we are now getting pulled into a more active position on the ground [in Gaza]. Whether this will lead to the opening of political contact with Hamas is the question. I don’t think it will happen quickly but I think it is inevitable. Hamas is, in my opinion, a legitimate representative of part of the Palestinian community.

Hamas did win the Parliamentary election in 2006.

Yes, it made us look foolish to be beating the drums for democracy and elections globally, and then to be turning our back on the Palestinian elections and endorsing a blockade that turned into a siege and forcing down the standards of living in Gaza. We fully endorsed the effort to cut Hamas off, to shut down contacts between American banks and banks in Gaza if they could be shown to be involved in getting money to Hamas. Our people were enjoined to not talk to any ministry representative in Gaza if the minister himself were from Hamas. So we endorsed the Israeli program and life got very hard for the Palestinians, and we’ll see how the story turns out on who broke the cease-fire. Was it Israel in November? What was Hamas’ intent in refusing to renew the cease-fire? They say it’s because the Israelis would not fulfill the commitment they had made last June on opening the border crossing points and allowing the food and medicines in unrestricted. And Israel said it would authorize, I believe, 15 percent of what had been flowing in a year earlier. That was not enough, and Hamas said, “We’re not going to renew the cease-fire.” And Israel said, “In that case, you’re breaking the cease-fire.” And the firing intensified and led to these last three weeks of bombardment.

Should the United States open talks with Hamas?

I don’t think we can, politically, move directly to open contacts with Hamas. What we can stop doing is endorsing a policy deliberately aimed at fighting the Palestinians and weakening Hamas. This is a delicate job because we have pledged our support to the PLO, to the Palestine Authority, we are training–and I gather the program is going quite well–Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. We’re saying Abbas should be accepted back in Gaza as the leader. Can we find a way to stop a devisive policy while not embracing Hamas? Can we manage to work through our role that’s been vilified strongly in a number of Arab states? Cairo got a cease-fire last summer, so it has the patience and it has the skills to get something again, indeed, with our support. But I think there are ways to signal that we’re not going to continue to blackball Hamas as a player in Palestinian politics.

Does that need a statement by the U.S.? That would really touch off a political storm in the United States and Israel, wouldn’t it?…. (Read the rest)

Hamas: Obama does not represent change: A spokesman for Hamas says he expects Obama to fail in the Mideast if he sticks with his current positions.

Obama won’t talk to Hamas – Olmert adviser

“I don’t think that this administration … will deal with Hamas or will talk with Hamas,” the adviser told reporters, a day after Olmert and Obama spoke by telephone.

The adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Thursday, did not say whether Obama had told Olmert explicitly that he would not talk to the Palestinian group which rules the Gaza Strip.

“Talking to Hamas is first and foremost a Palestinian problem. If the international community start talking to Hamas, they will undermine the moderates,” the adviser said, referring to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “This is the fight between the moderates and the extremists in the region and I don’t think that anyone has an interest … to do it and will do it,” Olmert’s adviser said.

Obama camp ‘prepared to talk to Hamas’

Incoming administration will abandon Bush’s isolation of Islamist group to initiate low-level diplomacy, say transition sources.
Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, Friday 9 January

The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush’s ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.

The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency’s ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 ­Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.

The Guardian has spoken to three ­people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start ­contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.

A UN resolution was agreed last night at the UN, calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces in Gaza. The resolution was passed, though the US, represented by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, abstained.

Richard Haass, a diplomat under both Bush presidents who was named by a number of news organisations this week as Obama’s choice for Middle East envoy, supports low-level contacts with Hamas provided there is a ceasefire in place and a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation emerges.

Another potential contender for a ­foreign policy role in the Obama administration suggested that the president-elect would not be bound by the Bush doctrine of isolating Hamas.

“This is going to be an administration that is committed to negotiating with ­critical parties on critical issues,” the source said.

There are a number of options that would avoid a politically toxic scenario for Obama of seeming to give legitimacy to Hamas.

“Secret envoys, multilateral six-party talk-like approaches. The total isolation of Hamas that we promulgated under Bush is going to end,” said Steve Clemons, the director of the American Strategy ­Programme at the New America ­Foundation. “You could do something through the Europeans. You could invent a structure that is multilateral. It is going to be hard for the neocons to swallow,” he said. “I think it is going to happen.”

But one Middle East expert close to the transition team said: “It is highly unlikely that they will be public about it.”…

Syrian Leader Reaches Out To Obama, By George Baghdadi

In a congratulatory wire sent to Barack Obama, President Bashar al-Assad voiced his “hope for a constructive dialogue with the United States based on common interests and mutual respect, leading to a just and comprehensive peace in the region based on relevant U.N. resolutions.” United States Committee for a Free Lebanon Logo

Comments (45)

Observer said:

Haaretz today estimated that Hamas although battered has emerged stronger on the Palestinian scene, partly due to the fact that it did not wither away; partly because its forces refused to fight on unequal terms, and partly because the most corrupt Fatah have been shown to be collaborating fully with Israel.

They are now in a position to force their agenda on a national unity goverment.

The donors are in a dilemma; if they give the money to the PA, there is every indication that it will be stolen and/or will not be given to the people of Gaza lest it boosts Hamas as there no goverment organs for Fatah to do that.

The EU in my opinion have been blackmailed by Israel as it told them either you help in controlling the border and the sea lanes or we will do to Syria and perhaps even Iran what we just did to Gaza. The policy of ” the boss has gone mad” was aimed at striking fear of instability in the Europeans, and to a lesser extent the Syrians and the Iranians.

I wonder how much leverage the US EU will continue to have as the economic downturn is much worse than anyone is willing to admit, the prospect of a recovery is dismal, the likelihood that the rest of the world will lend trillions to the US is not good.

If China and others decide not to lend or to lend less than what is expected then the dollar as reserve currency is finished and we cannot monetize our debt and we cannot bail ourselves by sucking the reserves of the world.

Finally, all this talk of talking to Hamas is just a way of diverting the attention from the real talk: talking to Iran. This is where we stand, we are going to have to share the region with them and there is every indication that the Iranians will use US money and soldiers to further their aim as they did with the debacle in Iraq.

Stay tuned.

January 23rd, 2009, 6:40 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Dear Richard and James,

Talk to Hamas all you want.

When they’re ready to put down their weapons, give Israel a call:


January 23rd, 2009, 7:10 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Are you worried about their “nuclear weapons”?

January 23rd, 2009, 7:25 pm


offended said:

Alex, let me guess: the IDF will open an investigation into the behaviour of that soldier on the video. but they will find the poor soldier has conducted himself in utmost restraint in face of those arab terrorists.

January 23rd, 2009, 7:46 pm


jad said:

Watching this heartbreaking video of the way settlers treating the Palestinian inside their own cage and reading AP comments…. Surreal, it gives me lots of hope and terrible headache.
Those are AP people who he is standing for! Good choice.
Seriously, how can any human justify and defend this behavior and practice being done on daily basis.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:02 pm


Alex said:

Theodoros Pangalos, a 70-year-old Member of the Greek Parliament, received three bottles of wine as a holiday gift, with best wishes from Israel’s Ambassador, Ali Giachia. (Wikipedia lists him as Ali Yihiye.)

In a Trojan horse reversal, Pangalos returned this gift and thanked the Ambassador with the following letter:

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

Thank you for the 3 bottles of wine that you sent me as season’s greetings. I wish to you, your family and everybody in the Embassy a happy new year. Good health and progress to you all.

Unhappily, I noticed that the wine you have sent me has been produced in the Golan Heights. I have been taught since I was very young not to steal and not to accept products of theft. So I cannot possibly accept this gift and I must return it back to you.

As you know, your country occupies illegally the Golan Heights which belongs to Syria, according to the International Law and numerous decisions of the International Community.

I take the opportunity to express my hope that Israel will find security within its internationally recognized borders and the terrorist activities against Israel territory by Hamas or anybody else will be contained and made impossible, but I also hope that your government will cease practicing the policy of collective punishment which was applied on a mass scale by Hitler and his armies.

Actions such as those of these days of the Israel military in Gaza remind the Greek people of holocausts such as in Kalavrita or Doxato or Distomo and certainly in the ghetto of Warsaw.

With these thoughts allow me to express to you my best wishes for you, the Israeli people and all the people of our region of the world.

Athens, 30/12/2008

Theodoros Pangalos, Member of Parliament (Greece)

If you want to write to him and thank him, write to me and I’ll give you his email.

I won’t print it here, … Akbar, would probably copy it to Camera.org so that they can bombard him with automated complaints from their dedicated robots.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:04 pm


majid said:

OBSERVER said, “Finally, all this talk of talking to Hamas is just a way of diverting the attention from the real talk: talking to Iran. This is where we stand, we are going to have to share the region with them and there is every indication that the Iranians will use US money and soldiers to further their aim as they did with the debacle in Iraq.

Stay tuned.”

How about this other scenario OBSERVER: The US and/or Israel execute a clean surgical strike eliminating the minority unpopular Assad regime in Syria along with the top Syrian military brass? Stay tuned.

If Iran is causing military and financial losses to the US, then this would be a far less costly alternative. Wouldn’t it? If Syria is out of the Iranian camp, then Iran will continue to bark from afar without any real support from within the Arab world.

The real problem is with Assad who has to make very hard choices. It is not with Iran.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:16 pm


offended said:

Majid, that’s an interesting scenario, but how about this one: the Saudi people will conduct a surgical move to remove the royals who treat them like slaves?

January 23rd, 2009, 8:24 pm


Shai said:


These settlers are the scum of the earth. I am ashamed to share the same religion with these criminals. Besides the fact that they were born to a Jewish mother, I have nothing in common with these animals. Their place is in jail, or inside a cage in a zoo, but not amongst normal human beings. I am disgusted by these so-called “people”.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:27 pm


Milli Schmidt said:

Very intense video – thanks for posting Alex. The settlers are so disgusting and messed up.

With regards to Observer’s post at the top – interestingly, the German media keeps reporting how Hamas has lost credibility in Gaza. According to the articles, the population blames them and sees them as cowards, as they hid in people’s houses attracting bombs.

I wonder if somehow the German journalists are only talking to Fatah supporters, or if the picture is indeed that mixed. Hm. Indeed, watch this space, I guess.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:31 pm


Alia said:


I agree overall with you in term of the German coverage of the Gaza massacre. Very disappointing…

Here is an exception:


Hamas mag zerstritten sein und mehrere hundert Kämpfer verloren haben, doch die Mehrheit der 1,5 Millionen Menschen im Gaza-Streifen sieht Israel als den Schuldigen an Verwüstung und Zerstörung. Der angebliche Sieg Israels, von dem Olmert spricht, ist in Wahrheit eine Niederlage.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:53 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

I’m guessing here; Obama will not talk to Hamas (as Hamas is).

When Obama talks about abandoning “dogmas”, he means Religion.
He thinks (and I agree with him), that religion (any religion) and alcohol and drugs are
resort of bitter and frustrated individuals. He thinks that
religions have to be spiritual, rather then political.
Even when he goes to church, it’s for the social experience of being
among people who are in a spiritual mood. And not because he believes
in god, who command people to do nasty things such as holy wars.
( and yes, I read his book. He doesn’t say it explicitly, but one can
understand by reading between the lines).
So if he talks to Hamas, it will be to try to transform Hamas into
becoming spiritual and “community unifier”. But soon will understand
that it’s futile.

January 23rd, 2009, 8:55 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Eshani2 said:

Are you worried about their “nuclear weapons”?


Nuclear weapons have NEVER been introduced to the Middle East.

Yet, hundreds of thousands, if not, MILLIONS of Middle Easterners have been killed before their time by states other than Israel. The dead have mostly been Muslims.

So, right now, nuclear weapons do not concern me.

How about you? Are you worried about nuclear weapons?

January 23rd, 2009, 9:04 pm


Zenobia said:

London Review of Books

29 January 2009

Israel’s Lies
Henry Siegman

Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the six-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns; that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, part of a global jihadi network; and that Israel has acted not only in its own defence but on behalf of an international struggle by Western democracies against this network.

I am not aware of a single major American newspaper, radio station or TV channel whose coverage of the assault on Gaza questions this version of events. Criticism of Israel’s actions, if any (and there has been none from the Bush administration), has focused instead on whether the IDF’s carnage is proportional to the threat it sought to counter, and whether it is taking adequate measures to prevent civilian casualties.

Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res.) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division. In an interview in Ha’aretz on 22 December, he accused Israel’s government of having made a ‘central error’ during the tahdiyeh, the six-month period of relative truce, by failing ‘to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip . . . When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues,’ General Zakai said, ‘it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire . . . You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they’re in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing.’

The truce, which began in June last year and was due for renewal in December, required both parties to refrain from violent action against the other. Hamas had to cease its rocket assaults and prevent the firing of rockets by other groups such as Islamic Jihad (even Israel’s intelligence agencies acknowledged this had been implemented with surprising effectiveness), and Israel had to put a stop to its targeted assassinations and military incursions. This understanding was seriously violated on 4 November, when the IDF entered Gaza and killed six members of Hamas. Hamas responded by launching Qassam rockets and Grad missiles. Even so, it offered to extend the truce, but only on condition that Israel ended its blockade. Israel refused. It could have met its obligation to protect its citizens by agreeing to ease the blockade, but it didn’t even try. It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year. Bush publicly welcomed that decision, citing it as an example of the success of his campaign for democracy in the Middle East. (He had no other success to point to.) When Hamas unexpectedly won the election, Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel’s leaders as a ‘plucked chicken’. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas – brutally, to be sure – pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade.

Israel seeks to counter these indisputable facts by maintaining that in withdrawing Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, Ariel Sharon gave Hamas the chance to set out on the path to statehood, a chance it refused to take; instead, it transformed Gaza into a launching-pad for firing missiles at Israel’s civilian population. The charge is a lie twice over. First, for all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.

The greater lie is that Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was intended as a prelude to further withdrawals and a peace agreement. This is how Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass, who was also his chief negotiator with the Americans, described the withdrawal from Gaza, in an interview with Ha’aretz in August 2004:

What I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements [i.e. the major settlement blocks on the West Bank] would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns . . . The significance [of the agreement with the US] is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with [President Bush’s] authority and permission . . . and the ratification of both houses of Congress.

Do the Israelis and Americans think that Palestinians don’t read the Israeli papers, or that when they saw what was happening on the West Bank they couldn’t figure out for themselves what Sharon was up to?

Israel’s government would like the world to believe that Hamas launched its Qassam rockets because that is what terrorists do and Hamas is a generic terrorist group. In fact, Hamas is no more a ‘terror organisation’ (Israel’s preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland. In the late 1930s and 1940s, parties within the Zionist movement resorted to terrorist activities for strategic reasons. According to Benny Morris, it was the Irgun that first targeted civilians. He writes in Righteous Victims that an upsurge of Arab terrorism in 1937 ‘triggered a wave of Irgun bombings against Arab crowds and buses, introducing a new dimension to the conflict’. He also documents atrocities committed during the 1948-49 war by the IDF, admitting in a 2004 interview, published in Ha’aretz, that material released by Israel’s Ministry of Defence showed that ‘there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought . . . In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them, and destroy the villages themselves.’ In a number of Palestinian villages and towns the IDF carried out organised executions of civilians. Asked by Ha’aretz whether he condemned the ethnic cleansing, Morris replied that he did not:

A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.

In other words, when Jews target and kill innocent civilians to advance their national struggle, they are patriots. When their adversaries do so, they are terrorists.

It is too easy to describe Hamas simply as a ‘terror organisation’. It is a religious nationalist movement that resorts to terrorism, as the Zionist movement did during its struggle for statehood, in the mistaken belief that it is the only way to end an oppressive occupation and bring about a Palestinian state. While Hamas’s ideology formally calls for that state to be established on the ruins of the state of Israel, this doesn’t determine Hamas’s actual policies today any more than the same declaration in the PLO charter determined Fatah’s actions.

These are not the conclusions of an apologist for Hamas but the opinions of the former head of Mossad and Sharon’s national security adviser, Ephraim Halevy. The Hamas leadership has undergone a change ‘right under our very noses’, Halevy wrote recently in Yedioth Ahronoth, by recognising that ‘its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future.’ It is now ready and willing to see the establishment of a Palestinian state within the temporary borders of 1967. Halevy noted that while Hamas has not said how ‘temporary’ those borders would be, ‘they know that the moment a Palestinian state is established with their co-operation, they will be obligated to change the rules of the game: they will have to adopt a path that could lead them far from their original ideological goals.’ In an earlier article, Halevy also pointed out the absurdity of linking Hamas to al-Qaida.

In the eyes of al-Qaida, the members of Hamas are perceived as heretics due to their stated desire to participate, even indirectly, in processes of any understandings or agreements with Israel. [The Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled] Mashal’s declaration diametrically contradicts al-Qaida’s approach, and provides Israel with an opportunity, perhaps a historic one, to leverage it for the better.

Why then are Israel’s leaders so determined to destroy Hamas? Because they believe that its leadership, unlike that of Fatah, cannot be intimidated into accepting a peace accord that establishes a Palestinian ‘state’ made up of territorially disconnected entities over which Israel would be able to retain permanent control. Control of the West Bank has been the unwavering objective of Israel’s military, intelligence and political elites since the end of the Six-Day War.[*] They believe that Hamas would not permit such a cantonisation of Palestinian territory, no matter how long the occupation continues. They may be wrong about Abbas and his superannuated cohorts, but they are entirely right about Hamas.

Middle East observers wonder whether Israel’s assault on Hamas will succeed in destroying the organisation or expelling it from Gaza. This is an irrelevant question. If Israel plans to keep control over any future Palestinian entity, it will never find a Palestinian partner, and even if it succeeds in dismantling Hamas, the movement will in time be replaced by a far more radical Palestinian opposition.

If Barack Obama picks a seasoned Middle East envoy who clings to the idea that outsiders should not present their own proposals for a just and sustainable peace agreement, much less press the parties to accept it, but instead leave them to work out their differences, he will assure a future Palestinian resistance far more extreme than Hamas – one likely to be allied with al-Qaida. For the US, Europe and most of the rest of the world, this would be the worst possible outcome. Perhaps some Israelis, including the settler leadership, believe it would serve their purposes, since it would provide the government with a compelling pretext to hold on to all of Palestine. But this is a delusion that would bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Anthony Cordesman, one of the most reliable military analysts of the Middle East, and a friend of Israel, argued in a 9 January report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the tactical advantages of continuing the operation in Gaza were outweighed by the strategic cost – and were probably no greater than any gains Israel may have made early in the war in selective strikes on key Hamas facilities. ‘Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal, or at least one it can credibly achieve?’ he asks. ‘Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process? To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes.’ Cordesman concludes that ‘any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends.’

15 January


[*] See my piece in the LRB, 16 August 2007 .

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, is a visiting research professor at SOAS, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America.

January 23rd, 2009, 9:34 pm


idaf said:


The video you posted only shows a tip of an iceberg. Palestinians who have been living in Jerusalem, Hebron and most areas in the west bank have been pressured, insulted, stoned, their homes vandalized, their water and electricity cut repeatedly, their phone ringing all night with settlers on rotation who shouts at whoever picks up the phone “leave you whore”. Add this to the fact that any damage inflicted by the settlers to these Palestinian homes is irreparable as the Israeli authorities will not give them permits for restorations.

But wait, this is only at home. When the adults go to work they spend 5 hours everyday on checkpoints, insulted and humiliated. The farmers have to deal with similar inhumane criminality by settlers who attack them while they are farming and uproot their groves.

All this of course, under the watchful eyes of the IDF who normally cheer the settlers while they do this.. and many times participate in this Israeli settlers pastime.

Of course, the Abu Ayesha family are the lucky ones who do not get shot or bombed in one of the Israeli endless savageries.

Complaints to police are as useless as a Kansas black person complaining to the sheriff about his white neighbor in 1920. And people wonder why some Palestinians resort to violence! Wouldn’t you if were put under the same inhumane pressures since the day you were born?

However, this is not the first time this thing takes place. The exact same treatment used to take place too in Europe when European Jews were treated the same way under the watchful eyes of Nazi soldiers. This took place as well in southern US states decades ago when the KKK and other racist groups treated blacks exactly the same.

Nowadays, this only takes place in democratic Israel.. and maybe a couple of remote tribal villages in Africa.

January 23rd, 2009, 9:54 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

“Talk to Hamas all you want.

When they’re ready to put down their weapons, give Israel a call:”

Israel will never get this call.

Nuclear power has not been itroduced to the middle east
False,Israel has it

January 23rd, 2009, 11:22 pm


offended said:

Names of Palestinian children killed during the recent aggression on Gaza. Yes, I know it’s a long list. But the least we could do to honor their death, since we couldn’t preserve their lives, is to remember them for once.

27/12/2008 Ibtihal Kechko Girl 10
Ahmed Riad Mohammed Al-Sinwar Boy 3
Ahmed Al-Homs Boy 18
Ahmed Rasmi Abu Jazar Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Halabi Boy 18
Tamer Hassan Al-Akhrass Boy 5
Hassan Ali Al-Akhrass Boy 3
Haneen Wael Mohammed Daban Girl 15
Khaled Sami Al-Astal Boy 15
alaat Mokhless Bassal Boy 18
Aaed Imad Kheera Boy 14
Abdullah Al-Rayess Boy 17
Odai Hakeem Al-Mansi Boy 4
Allam Nehrou Idriss Boy 18
Ali Marwan Abu Rabih Boy 18
Anan Saber Atiyah Boy 13
Camelia Al-Bardini Girl 10
Lama Talal Hamdan Girl 10
Mohammed Jaber Howeij Boy 17
Nimr Mustafa Amoom Boy 10
29/12/2008 Ismail Talal Hamdan Boy 10
Ahmed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Ahmed Youssef Khello Boy 18
Ikram Anwar Baaloosha Girl 14
Tahrier Anwar Baaloosha Girl 17
Jihad Saleh Ghobn Boy 10
Jawaher Anwar Baaloosha Girl 8
Dina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Samar Anwar Baaloosha Girl 6
Shady Youssef Ghobn Boy 12
Sudqi Ziad Al-Absi Boy 3
Imad Nabeel Abou Khater Boy 16
Lina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Mohammed Basseel Madi Boy 17
Mohammed Jalal Abou Tair Boy 18
Mohammed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Mahmoud Nabeel Ghabayen Boy 15
Moaz Yasser Abou Tair Boy 6
Wissam Akram Eid Girl 14
30/12/2008 Haya Talal Hamdan Girl 8
31/12/2008 Ahmed Kanouh Boy 10
Ameen Al-Zarbatlee Boy 10
Mohammed Nafez Mohaissen Boy 10
Mustafa Abou Ghanimah Boy 16
Yehya Awnee Mohaissen Boy 10
Ossman Bin Zaid Nizar Rayyan Boy 3
Assaad Nizar Rayyan Boy 2
Moaz-Uldeen Allah Al-Nasla Boy 5
Aya Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Halima Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
Reem Nizar Rayyan Boy 4
Aicha Nizar Rayyan Girl 3
Abdul Rahman Nizar Rayyan Boy 6
Abdul Qader Nizar Rayyan Boy 12
Oyoon Jihad Al-Nasla Girl 16
Mahmoud Mustafa Ashour Boy 13
Maryam Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
01/01/2009 Hamada Ibrahim Mousabbah Boy 10
Zeinab Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Sujud Mahmoud Al-Derdesawi Girl 10
Abdul Sattar Waleed Al-Astal Boy 12
Abed Rabbo Iyyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 10
Ghassan Nizar Rayyan Boy 15
Christine Wadih El-Turk Boy 6
Mohammed Mousabbah Boy 14
Mohammed Iyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 13
Mahmoud Samsoom Boy 16
Ahmed Tobail Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 17
Hassan Hejjo Boy 14
Rajeh Ziadeh Boy 18
Shareef Abdul Mota Armeelat Boy 15
Mohammed Moussa Al-Silawi Boy 10
Mahmoud Majed Mahmoud Abou Nahel Boy 16
Mohannad Al-Tatnaneeh Boy 18
Hani Mohammed Al-Silawi Boy 10
01/01/2009 Ahmed Al-Meshharawi Boy 16
Ahmed Khodair Sobaih Boy 17
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 18
Asraa Kossai Al-Habash Girl 10
Assad Khaled Al-Meshharawi Boy 17
Asmaa Ibrahim Afana Girl 12
Ismail Abdullah Abou Sneima Boy 4
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 18
Aya Ziad Al-Nemr Girl 8
Ahmed Mohammed Al-Adham Boy 1
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 13
Hamza Zuhair Tantish Boy 12
Khalil Mohammed Mokdad Boy 18
Ruba Mohammed Fadl Abou-Rass Girl 13
Ziad Mohammed Salma Abou Sneima Boy 9
Shaza Al-Abed Al-Habash Girl 16
Abed Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 12
Attia Rushdi Al-Khawli Boy 16
Luay Yahya Abou Haleema Boy 17
Mohammed Akram Abou Harbeed Boy 18
Mohammed Abed Berbekh Boy 18
Mohammed Faraj Hassouna Boy 16
Mahmoud Khalil Al-Mashharawi Boy 12
Mahmoud Zahir Tantish Boy 17
Mahmoud Sami Assliya Boy 3
Moussa Youssef Berbekh Boy 16
Wi’am Jamal Al-Kafarneh Girl 2
Wadih Ayman Omar Boy 4
Youssef Abed Berbekh Boy 10
05/01/2009 Ibrahim Rouhee Akl Boy 17
Ibrahim Abdullah Merjan Boy 13
Ahmed Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Aya Youssef Al-Defdah Girl 13
Aya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Ahmed Amer Abou Eisha Boy 5
Ameen Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Hazem Alewa Boy 8
Khalil Mohammed Helless Boy 12
Diana Mosbah Saad Girl 17
Raya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Rahma Mohammed Al-Semouni Girl 18
Ramadan Ali Felfel Boy 14
Rahaf Ahmed Saeed Al-Azaar Girl 4
Shahad Mohammed Hijjih Girl 3
Arafat Mohammed Abdul Dayem Boy 10
Omar Mahmoud Al-Baradei Boy 12
Ghaydaa Amer Abou Eisha Girl 6
Fathiyya Ayman Al-Dabari Girl 4
Faraj Ammar Al-Helou Boy 2
Moumen Alewah Boy 9
Moumen Mahmoud Talal Alaw Boy 10
Mohammed Amer Abu Eisha Boy 8
Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Kamar Boy 15
Marwan Hein Kodeih Girl 6
Montasser Alewah Boy 12
Naji Nidal Al-Hamlawi Boy 16
Nada Redwan Mardi Girl 5
Hanadi Bassem Khaleefa Girl 13
06/01/2009 Ibrahim Ahmed Maarouf Boy 14
Ahmed Shaher Khodeir Boy 14
Ismail Adnan Hweilah Boy 15
Aseel Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Adam Mamoun Al-Kurdee Boy 3
Alaa Iyad Al-Daya Girl 8
Areej Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 3 months
Amani Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 4
Baraa Ramez Al-Daya Girl 2
Bilal Hamza Obaid Boy 15
Thaer Shaker Karmout Boy 17
Hozaifa Jihad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Khitam Iyad Al-Daya Girl 9
Rafik Abdul Basset Al-Khodari Boy 15
Raneen Abdullah saleh Girl 12
Zakariya Yahya Al-Taweel Boy 5
Sahar Hatem Dawood Girl 10
Salsabeel Ramez Al-Daya Girl 6 months
Sharafuldeen Iyad Al-Daya Boy 7
Doha Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 5
Ahed Iyad Kodas Boy 15
Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah Boy 10
Issam Sameer Deeb Boy 12
Alaa Ismail Ismail Boy 18
Ali Iyad Al-Daya Boy 10
Imad Abu Askar Boy 18
Filasteen Al-Daya Girl 5
Kamar Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 3
Lina Abdul Menem Hassan Girl 10
Unidentified Boy 9
Unidentified Boy 15
Mohammed Iyad Al-Daya Boy 6
Mohammed Bassem Shakoura Boy 10
Mohammed Bassem Eid Boy 18
Mohammed Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Eid Boy 18
Mustafa Moeen Deeb Boy 12
Noor Moeen Deeb Boy 2
Youssef Saad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Youssef Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 1
07/01/2009 Ibrahim Kamal Awaja Boy 9
Ahmed Jaber Howeij Boy 7
Ahmed Fawzi Labad Boy 18
Ayman Al-Bayed Boy 16
Amal Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 3
Toufic Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 10
Habeeb Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 12
Houssam Raed Sobeh Boy 12
Hassan Rateb Semaan Boy 18
Hassan Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 2
Redwan Mohammed Ashoor Boy 10
Suad Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 6
Samar Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 2
Abdul Rahman Mohammmed Ashoor Boy 12
Fareed Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 13
Mohammed Khaled Al-Kahloot Boy 15
Mohammed Samir Hijji Boy 16
Mohammed Fareed Al-Maasawabi Boy 16
Mohammed Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Nasseem Salama Saba Boy 16
Mahmoud Hameed Boy 17
Hamam Issa Boy 1
08/01/2009 Anas Arif Abou Baraka Boy 7
Ibrahim Akram Abou Dakkka Boy 12
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Baraa Iyad Shalha Girl 6
Basma Yasser Al-Jeblawi Girl 5
Shahd Saad Abou Haleema Girl 15
Azmi Diab Boy 16
Mohammed Akram Abou Dakka Boy 14
Mohammed Hikmat Abou Haleema Boy 17
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Matar Saad Abou Haleema Boy 17
09/01/2009 Ahmed Ibrahim Abou Kleik Boy 17
Ismail Ayman Yasseen Boy 18
Alaa Ahmed Jaber Girl 11
Baha-Uldeen Fayez Salha Girl 5
Rana Fayez Salha Girl 12
Rola Fayez Salha Girl 13
Diyaa-Uldeen Fayez Salah Boy 14
Ghanima Sultan Halawa Girl 11
Fatima Raed Jadullah Girl 10
Mohammed Atef Abou Al-Hussna Boy 15


January 23rd, 2009, 11:28 pm


Alex said:

In the Wake of Gaza, Arab Hard-Liners Gain Upper Hand

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia invited three feuding Arab leaders to a reconciliation lunch this week. The rulers of Syria, Qatar and Egypt, in Kuwait for an economic summit, turned up at King Abdullah’s residence in Kuwait City for some Saudi hospitality. But it will take more than meze and grilled lamb to heal the gaping divisions in the Arab world. “If these breaches are so easy to solve by having lunch, then they should be having breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Center of Lebanon at the American University of Beirut. As Palestinian survivors of the three-week military onslaught in Gaza scooped out the dead from the rubble, Khouri says the Arab world’s squabbling rulers have never looked more “collectively mediocre.”

Disputes among Arab leaders are nothing new, and the current rift was evident long before the war in Gaza. But the bloodshed and destruction wrought by Israel’s offensive against Hamas has sharpened those differences, and will continue to shape regional dynamics in the months to come. At its most simplistic, the divide pits a so-called moderate camp, backed by the United States and led by Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, against a “resistance front” group that includes Syria along with powerful political and military movements such as Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizballah — all of which oppose Israel and U.S. policy in the Middle East. (See pictures of heartbreak in the Middle East.)

When Israel struck Gaza in December the Arab moderates initially backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, head of Fatah, while the resisters supported Fatah’s bitter rivals, Hamas. Egypt and Saudi Arabia criticized Hamas for triggering the conflict by refusing to extend a six-month cease-fire. But as the death toll climbed and anger rose on the streets of Arab capitals, Saudi Arabia fell silent and Egypt scrambled to find a diplomatic solution.

That left an opening for Hamas’ supporters. On Jan. 16, as the Israeli assault on Gaza still raged, Qatar, which has forged a role as regional mediator by deftly balancing relations with Syria and Iran as well as the U.S., stepped in to host a summit. Saudi Arabia, which resents being upstaged by its tiny neighbor, refused to attend. Egypt and Jordan stayed away too, ensuring that most of the participants were firmly in the Hamas camp.

At the summit, Syrian President Bashar Assad demanded the scrapping of the Arab peace initiative, a seven-year-old Saudi plan that offers collective Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for the return of occupied territory and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Assad’s call was intended to signal anger toward Israel, but it also served as a swipe at the Saudi architects of the initiative, with whom he is feuding.

With the conflict over, at least for now, the squabbling between Arab capitals continues. Pointing to the 1,300 Palestinians killed and $2 billion worth of damage to homes and infrastructure, Hamas’ allies say the camp of Arab moderates has been thoroughly discredited. Calls for peace with Israel have never sounded so hollow, they say. “The settlement process [between Arabs and Israel] is gone,” Nawaf Mussawi, Hizballah’s chief of international relations, told TIME. “The resistance [against Israel] has become the mecca of everyone in the region.” (See pictures of Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza.)

In an apparent nod to that sentiment, King Abdullah struck a conciliatory note on Monday when he told the Kuwait summit that the Arab peace initiative, his own brainchild, could be withdrawn, a shift that indicates the moderates may be losing the argument. “Israel has to understand that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open and that the Arab peace initiative that is on the table today will not stay on the table,” he said.

Abdullah blamed Israel for the Gaza crisis and pledged $1 billion in reconstruction aid. The fence-mending lunch followed, but it didn’t get very far. While Saudi supporters hailed the reconciliation bid as “historic,” the Arab media noted that the atmosphere at the table between Assad of Syria and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt remained “cold,” with the latter leaving early to return to Cairo. In a speech before the lunch, Mubarak had delivered a veiled jab at Syria’s close ties to Iran, spelling out the suspicions of some Arab countries about the Persian state’s influence in the Middle East. “It’s regrettable that we allow the ambitions of foreign forces to impose their hegemony on the area, to penetrate our Arab world and trade with the blood of Palestinian souls,” he said.

Iran is central to the regional polarization because of its alliance with Syria and backing for Hizballah and Hamas, which the rival moderate camp interprets as Persian meddling in Arab affairs at its expense. “In the past, the Arabs showed their disagreements by closing borders, interrupting trade and massing troops on borders. Today, they use handshakes and lunches to put a civil face on their disagreements,” said Mustafa Hamani, chairman of Jordan’s weekly newspaper Al-Sijill. “But the Arab rift always remains.”

January 23rd, 2009, 11:37 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Sure I worry about nuclear weapons. But, I also worry about apartheid, racism and arrogance.

January 24th, 2009, 12:04 am


alia said:


Pressrelease: Veolia looses 3,5 billion EUR contract in Sweden

Today the Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia, which has been the current operator of the subways in Stockholm County for the past ten years lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation.

The contract for the coming eight years is worth 3,5 Billion Euro and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe.

Although the board for the Stockholm county’s public transportation (SL) ensured that the decision was based solely on commercial factors, the debate about Veolias involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.

The tramway connecting the Israeli west Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory has triggered discussions about Veolia’s ethical policy. Public protest in Sweden against Veolia has brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services when you at he same time are involved in politically controversial activities.

As late as the day before the decision the Stockholm community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding the council to choose an operator who was not associated with violations against international humanitarian law.

– This is clearly another sign of the importance for commercial actors not to have their brand associated with unethical behaviour, in the case of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory we can already see a trend of international companies who are moving out their operations from settlements, says Joakim Wohlfeil at the Swedish development organization Diakonia.

January 24th, 2009, 12:47 am


Alex said:

Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister who ordered the invasion of Lebanon (over 1000 dead, mostly civilians) and the destruction of Gaza (1330 dead, mostly civilians), said that he cried when he heard a Palestinian man speaking on the phone on Israelis Television after he lost his three daughters in an Israeli attack on Gaza.

Ehud Olmert also insisted that using the Phosphorus bombs in Gaza was legal.

في تصريح مثير للسخرية، قال رئيس الوزراﺀ الإسرائيلي ايهود أولمرت امس انه بكى لدى مشاهدته استغاثة أب فلسطيني عبر لقطات تلفزيونية حية بعد مقتل اطفاله خلال العدوان الاسرائيلي الاخير على قطاع غزة والذي اودى بحياة 1330 فلسطينيا بينهم 894 مدنيا منهم 437 طفلا و110 نساﺀ و123 مسنا و14 مسعفا.

وقال اولمرت لصحيفة “معاريف” في مقابلة دافع خلالها عن تركته السياسية التي سيسلمها عندما يترك منصبه بعد الانتخابات التي ستجري في العاشر من شباط المقبل “بكيت عندما شاهدت ذلك. من منكم لا يبكي لذلك”؟ . واضاف إنه بموافقة حكومته على العدوان بزعم ضرب حركة “حماس” التي تسيطر على القطاع فان حكومته كانت على يقين من اصابة مدنيين فلسطينيين نظرا للكثافة السكانية العالية في الجيب الساحلي.

وقال اولمرت للصحيفة “عندما تنتصر فانك تلحق تلقائيا الضرر بقدر أكبر مما يقع عليك من ضرر. لم نكن نريد ان نخسر هذه الحملة. ماذا كنت تريد.. أتريد مقتل المئات من جنودنا”؟

January 24th, 2009, 1:01 am


majedkhaldoun said:

He will visit another arabic capital,by invitation,he will go, because he is eager to improve relations,there he will be arrested,it will happen at a time the tribunal issues an order for his arrest.

January 24th, 2009, 1:10 am


Abu Guerrilla said:

Open question to Baker:

Yeah, I think Hamas–most likely its pragmatic wing–will come to accept Israels right to exist. And, I agree that Obama can wedge the Syria/Iranian relationship.

But is the best launching pad for a Arab-Israeli solution to start with the regimes or the local leaders? Should Obama go to Tehran/Damascus/Cairo/Tel Aviv and start there? Or, go find some Palestinians who carry weight and the Israeli cabinet and try to get an agreement?

From the sound of it, you favor buying a plane ticket to Tehran.

Good post,
Abu Guerrilla


January 24th, 2009, 2:45 am


norman said:


Now i hope to find Arab countries as honorable as the Swedes.

I doubt it .

January 24th, 2009, 2:54 am


jad said:

Thank you very much for the name list that was a great gesture for humanizing all the victims we only know and hear about by numbers.
Excellent post.

January 24th, 2009, 4:29 am


Joe M. said:

this one says it all:

January 24th, 2009, 7:10 am


Akbar Palace said:

Eshani2 said:

Sure I worry about nuclear weapons. But, I also worry about apartheid, racism and arrogance.


If you are really worried about apartheid, racism and arrogance (which I doubt), you need not look beyond the border into Israel. There is more apartheid, racism and arrogance in Arab countries than in Israel.


Personally, I’ve never seen so many crybabies on this forum.

Hamas has been BEGGING for martyrdom by shelling Israel for years. They have taught their infants, toddlers, and children to become martyrs, and now they got what they dreamed for.

January 24th, 2009, 1:09 pm


EHSANI2 said:


Yes, Arabs and Moslems BEG to die. They teach their children to love to die. It is in their genetics. Arabs and Moslems have a different DNA than you and the rest of the civilized world.

Your last sentence is nothing but ignorance, idiocy, racism and arrogance all wrapped in one.

January 24th, 2009, 1:42 pm


Akbar Palace said:


If you look at my post, I said “Hamas”. I didn’t say “Arabs and Moslems”; those were YOU’RE words. And I didn’t say anything about DNA.


Did the Mossad and AIPAC stage the following pictures?:






January 24th, 2009, 2:18 pm


EHSANI2 said:


You are right. I have always wondered why Hamas, Hizbollah and the rest of the Arab and Moslem world do not use the services of
1-800-flowers when it comes to the State of Israel.

January 24th, 2009, 2:29 pm


offended said:

أبلغ جرحى فلسطينيون تلقوا العلاج في مشاف مصرية وعادوا إلى قطاع غزة الجزيرة نت أن قوى الأمن هناك حققت مع بعضهم، وطالبتهم بمعلومات عن أماكن تصنيع الصواريخ وكيفية تهريب الأسلحة إلى القطاع.

وقال عدد من الجرحى للجزيرة نت إن قوى الأمنية المصرية حققت في المشافي مع عدد منهم بشكل عنيف، وهددت الرافضين للتحقيق بالملاحقة وعدم السماح لهم بإكمال العلاج في المشافي المصرية.

وأوضح المصابون أنهم بعد أن تماثلوا جزئيا للشفاء خضعوا للاستجواب من قوى الأمن المصرية الذين طلبوا منهم الإدلاء بمعلومات عن المقاومة، كما طالبوهم بعدم العودة لمساعدة حركة المقاومة الإسلامية (حماس).

وقال أحد الذين بقوا للعلاج في مصر باتصال هاتفي مع الجزيرة نت إن قوى الأمن طلبت منه إبلاغ المقاومة في غزة بأن القاهرة لن تسمح لهم بتهريب السلاح إلى غزة، ولن تسمح لحماس بإعادة بناء قدراتها من جديد.

وأوضح الجريح أنه فور تعافيه من الإصابة طلب منه الطبيب الانتظار في غرفة جانبية بالمشفى، ومن ثم جاء إليه محققون من المخابرات وتعهدوا له ببقاء ما يدلي به من معلومات طي الكتمان.

وأضاف “سألوني عن المقاومة وكيف تخزن أسلحتها وكم يمكن أن تصمد فصائل المقاومة في غزة في وجه إسرائيل، مشيرا إلى أنهم طلبوا منه معلومات عن حركة حماس وقياداتها “المختفية”.

وقال أيضا إنه في البداية كان التعامل معه “لطيفا للغاية” لكنه حين أنكر معرفته بالمقاومة ضربه أحد المحققين على مكان الجرح، وقال له “لا تكذب أنت من حماس وكتائب القسام، ويجب أن تتحدث وإلا فلن نسمح لك بإكمال العلاج وسنرميك كالكلاب”.

January 24th, 2009, 3:47 pm


offended said:


You claim you’re talking only about Hamas, and yet one of your link says ‘palestinian child abuse’, next one shows angry Iranians. and then there’s this study about places as far as Kashmir and Afghanistan. I couldn’t access the Israeli link (thankfully, ‘il’ sites are banned in the UAE), but in the last link I could read this: “Cartoons and Hypocrisy in the Arab and Muslim World“.

This is called racism monsieur Akbar, pure and simple.

January 24th, 2009, 4:02 pm


Ras Beirut said:


If Israel has done the right thing in allowing for the establishment of a viable palestinan state, instead of building illegal settlements and instituting a morally corrupt occupation, the situation would be much different.

January 24th, 2009, 4:30 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Akbar do you have an opinion of Jewish Zealots and Sicariis?

All religions have an element of teaching martyrdom during difficult times. During WW2 the Finnish protestant and Greek orthodox priests and some rabbis lectured endlessly to soldiers how honourable it is to scarify one’s life for the country and nation. Our history is full of persons who gave their life in attacks that could be considered as suicide attacks. So has every country “behaved” and so is their history. Even the Israelis as we did see before as the Zealots and Sicariis, later as partisans and finally now as Ûbermenschen in Israel/Palestine.

Akbar do not forget that also Christian religion promises paradise, which is thought to our children and endlessly repeated to our soldiers. I can’t see any difference. Do Jews have a paradise belief in Judaism?

What comes to terrorist attacks is a Jewish terrorist who leaves a suitcase full of explosives to a market place more honourable as a Palestinian terrorist who goes with an explosive belt to a restaurant. There is no difference, besides that the Palestinian punishes himself, the Jewish terrorist not.

Akbar if I would be you, I would be much more worried about what the Jews in Israel “feed to their children” so that it produces what we did see in Gaza and see in the settlements. A system that makes soldiers shoot cold-blooded small children, let civilians bleed to death in front of them, smear carpets with excrement etc doesn’t give not a very good picture of the Jewish religious education and so of the religions present state in modern days Israel. No wonder that some American Jewish individuals and organizations are now reluctant to be seen as “Israelis”.

January 24th, 2009, 4:49 pm


alia said:


This is a follow up on the activities of Veolia in the service of Israel. It is an illustration of how companies are working in the global world. Indeed the Swedish people are informed and courageous in this case.


I continue to think that economic sanctions, divestment and isolation are powerful tools to use against Israel.

I am very fearful of what the rage that is created by watching the worthless settlers can do to us. It took me the whole night to calm down from watching the video Alex provided.


is an immature fool and a coward. This is not an insult, it is a statement of fact, as I would tell someone you have diabetes. I have never read one original thought coming from him.

January 24th, 2009, 5:05 pm


Yossi said:

Obama is intelligent enough to see the correct path but probably not courageous enough to follow it. His first three actions should have been:

* Declare a temporary embargo on offensive weapons to both Israel and Hamas to show he is humane and to win the Muslim world sympathy

* Order crush FBI investigation of the big lobbies in Washington to force Congress and Senate loyalty to their country interests

* Nationalize all large productive companies and declare a debt moratorium then let the finance sector fall to pieces

Obama seems afraid of the big lobbies who put the US in this crisis. Seeking consensus with the enemy usually doesn’t help.

The good side of this crisis is that a US collapse may be good to the rest of the world. The world will probably go in a direction of more cooperation, less hypocrisy and less self-righteousness. The UN should be moved to a neutral country and the general assembly given power over the Security Council. A Golden Age may be awaiting us just around the corner.

January 24th, 2009, 6:04 pm


jad said:

Did AP go through the link he/she send regarding how racist we are?
Just a reminder that you are on a ‘Syrian Comment’ site and most of us are proud Syrians, did you all notice that from the first 50 incidents starting from Feb 2006 to Jan 2009, only 2 are from Syria, TWO in 3 years, is that an indication of our racism against people who occupy our land, what do you call Israelis who does that every day for the last 60 years or the settlers treating their neighbours in that shameful way we watched, I’m still recovering from the headache that cause me?

January 24th, 2009, 6:14 pm


S.A. said:

To Simohurtta,

Thanks for your post(#33). I enjoyed reading the origins of the words on Wiki. Very informative indeed. YOur posts are such an asset to this blog. Thank you.

To A.P.,

Most of the things you write are an insult to the intelligence of people participating in this blog. Could you please write something new or different from the old propaganda that you’re trying to sell to the uninformed people in the world and which is losing it’s effect anyway ?

January 24th, 2009, 6:18 pm


alia said:

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung :

To ensure the goodwill of the population in Gaza, Hamas has promised to pay the family of each Palestinian killed in the recent massacre around 1000 Euro, to the owner of each completely destroyed house up to 4000 Euros and for each partially destroyed house 2000 Euros. According to the speaker in the name of Hamas Taher al Nono each wounded person will receive 500 Euros.

The compensation payments should start on Sunday. Hamas has set aside aprox 28 Million Euros for the compensations. Al-Nono did not give any information as to the provenance of the money, but in Israel it is assumed that Iran is behind the
financing of Hamas.


Um sich die Gunst der Bevölkerung im Gaza-Streifen zu sichern, hat die Hamas den Hinterbliebenen von jedem der im Krieg getöteten Palästinenser umgerechnet rund 1000 Euro versprochen. Für jedes vollständig zerstörte Haus sollen die Besitzer bis zu 4000 Euro erhalten, für jedes teilweise zerstörte Haus 2000 Euro. Nach Angaben von Hamas-Sprecher Taher al-Nono sollen Verletzte rund 500 Euro erhalten.

Am Sonntag soll mit der Auszahlung der Beträge begonnen werde. Insgesamt stünden der Hamas für die Kompensationszahlungen rund 28 Millionen Euro zur Verfügung. Al-Nono machte keine Angaben darüber, woher das Geld stammt. In Israel geht man davon aus, dass Iran hinter der Finanzierung der Hamas steckt.

January 24th, 2009, 8:44 pm


Ghat Albird said:

Why is acceptable by human beings that $13 million dollars from US taxpayers go to Israel everyday of the year and Iran is crticised for providing assistance to the human beings in Gaza in rebuilding their lives?

January 24th, 2009, 11:59 pm


norman said:


Thank you for your response , as long as there are Arab leaders who do not act on their people’s intentions,Israel will stay and try to change the Mideast to city kingdoms as it was in the old ages during the Ara-means.

January 25th, 2009, 2:43 am


Soul of Sydney said:

nice post thanks for sharing, its some good insight reading political commentary on blogs like yours.. peace from Sydney, Australia

January 25th, 2009, 3:24 am


Rumyal said:

>>> Offended: I couldn’t access the Israeli link (thankfully, ‘il’ sites are banned in the UAE),

What can I say offended, you’re so lucky, free access to the Internet can be so dangerous.

January 25th, 2009, 4:11 am


Alia said:


I did not quote the article in a spirit of criticism. It was just information that I shared. I am in full support of anyone giving directly to the Palestinians themselves, we heard of the Saudis donation but who is going to get it ?

If Iran wants to give that is great – I have no fear of a Shia takeover of the Arab world. Here we were on our own with our Saudi brothers…what have they done for the Palestinians? when they could have done so much more in a decisive way.

January 25th, 2009, 4:29 pm


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