You lose ability, when you lose credibility, S. Farah

S. Farah, for Syria Comment

In a recent interview with the BBC, President Bashar al Assad cautioned the European capitals that they stand to lose their ability to exert influence in the Middle East if they lose their credibility.

European credibility
and its commitment to the values it professes are being tested today in Gaza. The majority of the 1.5 million Gazans who are crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip are not there by choice. They came from towns and villages outside Gaza from places like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were farmers and landowners who were driven off of their lands and out off their homes into refugee camps in Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

Europe’s commitment to democratic reforms in the Middle East was questioned when it joined the boycott of the democratically elected Palestinian Government when Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006.

Europe’s commitment to human rights was also questioned when it supported Israel’s blockade of Gaza which has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports as well as the movement of people in and out of the strip are choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation. The blockade has resulted in massive unemployment, and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment of a civilian population.

Europe’s stand against extrajudicial punishment is being questioned now as Israel assassinates in broad daylight Palestinian activist without regard to human life such as in the recent assassination of the Hamas activist Nizar Rayan. According to the Associated Press The missile “hit on Nizar Rayan’s home obliterated the four-story apartment building and peeled off the walls of others around it, creating a field of rubble in the crowded town of Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip… Eighteen other people, including Rayan’s wives and nine of his 12 children, also were killed”.

While Israel should have full right to defend its citizens, it should also be held to account when its soldiers commit atrocities and possibly war crimes. No one would have expected or accepted England to target civilian in its efforts against the “terrorist” Irish Republican Army even if it had intelligence that the most militant and wanted elements of the IRA were barricaded in a civilian areas. Yet Israel was given a free hand to target homes, schools, and places of worship for over three weeks as the body counts of civilians, women and children, continued to mount day after day. Children like the three daughters of Dr. Izz el-Deen Aboul Aish’. Dr. Aboul Aish, an obstetrician works in a hospital in Israel and lives in Gaza. Since his wife’s death from cancer, his girls were all he lived for. He was a strong believer that Arabs and Jews should live side by side. His home was shelled just minutes before he was scheduled to speak to Israeli television about life is Gaza under blockade and bombardment. All three of his three daughters, Bisan, Mayar and Aya, were killed instantly. In all more than a thousand Palestinians were killed in this indiscriminate shelling and more that five thousands were injured by the end of Israel latest assault on Gaza.

It is not just the credibility of Europe that is at stake here. It is also the credibility of all of us in the Arab world, the reformers, who point to Europe as an example of prosperity, liberty and human rights.

Europe should shoulder its responsibility and keep the light shining bright on its shore as a beacon for us to guide the Middle East to a better tomorrow. To let that light out is to leave the Middle East sailing in the dark led by extremists and violence.

Comments (117)

AIG said:

You lost me when you mentioned that Bashar Asad was lecturing the Europeans about upholding human rights.

It is not the europeans and the Americans that will dictate the rules in the middle east. It is the Arabs and Israel. The rules were laid down by Hafez and these are the rules we will play by: Hama Rules. Once I see Bashar willing to denounce these rules, I’ll be open to change. Otherwise, why not use what works?

Bottom line, if you want to see the rules change, lead by example. Otherwise, do not complain that Israel is playing by the same rules as the Arabs. After all, we are doing our best to integrate into the middle east…

PS It is the Arabs that need to sail the middle east to a better tomorrow, not the Europeans. Point the finger inward, not outward.

January 27th, 2009, 10:29 pm


jad said:

Beautifully written article with an excellent and straightforward message.

January 27th, 2009, 11:10 pm


qunfuz said:
The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network statement for Holocaust Day 2009

January 28th, 2009, 12:14 am


Nick Khoury said:

I very much enjoyed this well written article. The problem here is that the Europeans have been sidelined on the Israel/Palestine Question for some time. Israel has recognized this a long time ago and concentrated its focus on Washington. We can only wish for the days of the Madrid Peace Conference where the centers of power where more decentralized.

Unfortunately, just today we heard from Louis Michel, the most senior foreign official to visit Gaza who said “Hamas has enormous responsibility for what happened here in Gaza” as he stood in the ruins of the UN aid compound devastated by Israeli shelling. He went further to echo Israeli govt. statements that Hamas was using civilians as “human shields” by fighting in populated areas.

With 6 people (50% children) per square kilometer in Gaza , perhaps if the Israeli’s would open up the border crossings they could go into the Negav desert and fight from there. The Europeans have no credibility and sinking.

January 28th, 2009, 2:50 am


majedkhaldoun said:

The Holocaust,is what we saw Israel did in Gaza

January 28th, 2009, 4:17 am


offended said:

Dr. Aboul Aish, a believer in peace whose daughters were killed. The other days I saw on clip on youtube titled “Israeli public get a first glimpse into Palestinians suffering”, it featured Aboul Aish and his daughter who barely escaped death. The guy was a wreck. Talking to a reporter. The first time Israeli public gets a glimpse into Palestinian suffering? Are you F kidding me? is it a shortcoming on Israeli media part? A shortage of humanity? Scarcity of Hebrew speakers among Palestinians? Is it a case of ears perpetually plugged?

January 28th, 2009, 4:50 am


offended said:

AIG said:
“After all, we are doing our best to integrate into the middle east…”

And who are “we” in that case?

January 28th, 2009, 4:52 am


Alex said:

S. Farah … excellent article.

But don’t expect much from the Europeans anymore. They are followers, not leaders… If president Obama decides to speak to Iran or to recognize the Palestinian suffering, you can be sure they will all follow him gladly …

The only Europeans who are free to promote and respect human rights are the ones in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greece …

Here is a blunt letter to President Obama from an Israeli woman:

January 28th, 2009, 5:06 am


Joe M. said:

The politics of Europe is the most sickening continent. Their hypocrisy and stupidity are unmatched in the world. No one in their right might can respect the Europeans. They are the most racist, most colonial, most useless, most spineless, most hypocritical… We could go on forever explaining how pathetic and disgusting they are.

Here is an excellent (and long) article describing just how ridiculous the europeans are. It is well worth reading if you have time. and if you don’t have time, here is a key paragraph about the european relations with the Arabs:

“In the wider Middle East, the scene is the same. Europe is joined at the hip with the US, wherever the legacies of imperial control or settler zeal are at stake. Britain and France, original suppliers of heavy water and uranium for the large Israeli nuclear arsenal, which they pretend does not exist, demand along with America that Iran abandon programmes it is allowed even by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, under menace of sanctions and war. In Lebanon, the EU and the US prop up a cabinet that would not last a day if a census were called, while German, French and Italian troops provide border guards for Israel. As for Palestine, the EU showed no more hesitation than the US in plunging the population into misery, cutting off all aid when voters elected the wrong government, on the pretext that it must first recognise the Israeli state, as if Israel had ever recognised a Palestinian state, and renounce terrorism (read: any armed resistance to a military occupation that has lasted forty years without Europe lifting a finger against it). Funds now flow again, to protect a remnant valet in the West Bank.”

January 28th, 2009, 6:22 am


offended said:

Dear President Obama:

I just watched portions of the interview you gave to the Arabic cable network Al Arabiya.
It was truly a great step towards rehabilitating our nation’s image in the Arab world – but I must say – respectfully – your interview could have been better.

I’m sure you are thinking: Who am I to say your interview could have been better? Well, I’m a mid-level comedian who has performed numerous times in the Middle East over the past year including just three days ago in Dubai. Impressed now?! I thought so.

So in the spirit of being helpful, Mr. President, here are my suggestions for your future appearances in the Arab media:

1. Dress like a hip Arab guy. I know Arab professionals and leaders tend to dress in a suit and tie – but for your next interview, wear an outfit that says I want to reach out to the common Arab man. I’d suggest slacks and a polyester blend shirt with the top four buttons open – maybe throw in a gold chain or two. That look will get the “Arab Street” to stop and listen.

2. Smoke during the interview. Mr. President we all know you enjoy smoking but are trying to quit. Here is a chance to justify your smoking as well as creating a bond with the average Arab man. To give you an idea how much Arab men smoke, I went to a gym in the Middle East and there were ashtrays on the treadmills. Arabs view it this way: Anyone can run five miles, lets see you run five miles while smoking a Marlboro.

3. Throw in a few Arab phrases like Salama Alaykum, Inshallah (God willing) or even a “My friend.”

4. During the interview take out a lamb kebob and offer some to the interviewer. This helps for two reasons: 1. Arabs love lamb; 2. It shows you are being hospitable by offering to share your food. Arabs are among the most – if not the most – hospitable people in the world and would love the gesture.

5. Keep bringing up that your middle name is “Hussein.” I know here in the US you want to keep that name on the down low, but over there flaunt it! Most of us have a “cousin” named Hussein so it will be very endearing.

6. If an Arab interviewer asks a question you don’t like, take off your shoe and throw it at him. That will show everyone in the Arab world that you really understand us.

7. I know you are a very cool, relaxed person – but Arabs love to see some emotion. So in your next interview get mad a few times. Arabs love to yell and love to see people yelling. We understand it’s not personal, it’s just part of the show.

Overall, Mr. President I think you are truly on the right track – not only with the interview but also with your selection of the immensely fair Senator George Mitchell as a Middle East peace envoy.

In closing, I just want to add that you have inspired me and I’m ready to continue to offer my assistance to you in any way you need, such as – and I’m just throwing this out here – if you need a comedian to open for you at any of your events in the Middle East. I can do a strong twenty minutes and then introduce you. “Obama and Obeidallah” – has the sound of a great team and I’m here for you. (Subject of course to you reaching terms with my agent at William Morris.)

Dean Obeidallah

January 28th, 2009, 8:13 am


why-discuss said:

Since when Europe is fair? Who killed the jews? Who condoned the expulsion of palestinians to make place for the survival of the killings they did? Now Europe think they are clean from the blood of the jews but now they are dirty with the blood of the Palestinians, as France was of the blood of the Algerians.
Europe is even more hypocritical than before as they could have said “we did not know” Now they know and for 22 days they let innocents massacred because it did not fit their grand view of democracy. Human rights have left its place to Israel Rights.
When there will be some revenge killings in Europe on the Israelis criminals that evaded criminal courts, who would they invoke human rights? It will be pure justice There will satisfaction on many faces: eye for eye.
All Israelis should be afraid to travel anywhere in the world. After all they supported by 90% the massacres in Gaza. I hope they will soon be confined to their narrow country and the occupied lands of Palestine.

January 28th, 2009, 8:52 am


ugarit said:

A critique of Obama’s interview and the choice to be interviewed on Alarabiyya.

January 28th, 2009, 12:04 pm


Akbar Palace said:

You lost me when you mentioned that Bashar Asad was lecturing the Europeans about upholding human rights.


I’m just as confused as you are. One the one hand the clerics in Iran think there wasn’t a “Holocaust”, and on the other hand the clerics in Egypt WANT another Holocaust. Who’s right?;)

In any case, I think President Obama needs to talk with these people (and the governments that air their strange opinions in the media) so we can finally have peace;)

Iran: Holocaust “Big Lie”

Egyptian cleric on government-controlled TV:

Then, saying, “Let’s watch what Germany did to Israel – or rather, to the Jews,” he screened footage of torture and killing of Jews in Dachau, Mauthausen, and Belsen, providing running commentary, and stating, “This is what we hope will happen, but, Allah willing, at the hand of the Muslims.”

January 28th, 2009, 12:34 pm


Alia said:


The difference between the Muslim clerics and the Israelis is that the clerics talk about what they wish to do to the Israelis while the Israelis just go ahead and do it …you have no leg to stand on after the Gaza massacre…if I were you I would drop this line of thinking.

If you people want to be “loved” or even tolerated you just have to be “nicer”; a new idea for you…?

BTW, greetings to your wife!! you did say she finds you irritating..

January 28th, 2009, 1:14 pm


idaf said:

Latest IMF outlook on Syria:

-Economic growth in Syria rose from 4.2 per cent in 2007 to 5.2 in 2008.

-Inflation rates, which were 5 per cent in 2007, rose as high as 20 percent in 2008, although they are now declining since the final months and are 15 percent on average.

-The IMF “encouraged the authorities to prepare the ground for a gradual move toward greater exchange rate flexibility over the medium term”.

-“The impact of adverse global and regional developments on the Syrian economy is expected to be relatively mild in the short term.. The effects are likely to be through weakening foreign direct investment, remittances and demand for Syrian exports from the Gulf region.”

-The country’s fiscal deficit steadied around 3.5 percent of gross domestic domestic product in 2008, the IMF said, after the government phased out fuel subsidies.

Two articles on this..

IMF: Syria will be less affected than others by the global economic crisis

IMF says Syria should improve currency flexibilty

January 28th, 2009, 1:17 pm


Akbar Palace said:

…you have no leg to stand on after the Gaza massacre…if I were you I would drop this line of thinking.


Most of the governments who have commented on Gaza have said that Israel indeed has the right of self-defense. I’ll sum their declarations up as Israel’s “leg to stand on”.

If you people want to be “loved” or even tolerated you just have to be “nicer”; a new idea for you…?


I’m not sure who gave you the impression Israel wants “to be loved”. I think wants “to be left alone” is more accurate. If have “to be nicer” means allowing her cities and towns to be bombed without a response, then I guess we’ll have to remain “mean”.

BTW, greetings to your wife!! you did say she finds you irritating..


January 28th, 2009, 2:20 pm


trustquest said:

There are discrepancies in the IMF report regarding the inflation rate. I could not find any report support the 5% inflation rate for 2007.
The Oxford Business Group has his figures from the government of Syria which said it falls from previous year to 11% in 2007.

January 28th, 2009, 3:19 pm


Alia said:


Government functions not according to moral ethical rules rather according to political alliances. Even you should know that. For every government that has said yes to Israel, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have protested the crimes in Gaza. You are and have been a corrupt society, your Sharon, an indicted mass murderer ended up becoming prime minister. What kind of standard is that?
Democracy ?? what a joke, your settlers have your politicians by the throat.

Left alone ? really in order to steal, plunder and dipossess a people, committ genocide, create the monster characters of the settlers.. The million and half dispossed, treated like cattle, humiliated every minute of the day should just sit quietly and wait to see what kind of torture the sadists can come up with ?

January 28th, 2009, 3:21 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Left alone ? really in order to steal, plunder and dipossess a people, committ genocide, create the monster characters of the settlers..


Yes, left alone. There are no settlers in Gaza. They’re all gone.

However, if you and your Hamas heroes’ objective is to “Free Palestine” instead of negotiating with Israel, then what is there to discuss?

I’m not saying Palestinians do not have serious or justified grievances against Israel, I’m just saying that at some point you have to stop resisting and come to the negotiating table. By continuing their resistance and refusing to recognize Israel, Hamas is doing much more harm to themselves than good.

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt aired its grievances against Iran, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, saying they worked together in the fighting over Gaza to provoke conflict in the Middle East.

“(They tried) to turn the region to confrontation in the interest of Iran, which is trying to use its cards to escape Western pressure … on the nuclear file,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview with Orbit satellite channel broadcast Wednesday.;_ylt=AoXStqhkFRGWCWk6d19BPnZm.3QA

January 28th, 2009, 4:20 pm


idaf said:

Syria and the new Arab ‘cold war’

By Catherine Miller
BBC News, Damascus

It was standing room only at Damascus Opera House this week. Middle class Syrians packed the hall for a concert called We Shall Endure – a message from Damascus to Palestine.

Many had come for the star attraction, Marcel Khalife, one of the most famous musicians in the Arab world.

But they were also there to express their grief and anger about the war in Gaza.

“We have the same blood as the Palestinians,” said one young woman. “Any drop of blood they shed, we feel it too.”

That sentiment has prompted an overwhelming response from Syrians.

The opera house audience paid five times the normal price for a ticket with all proceeds going to Gaza.

And the Syrian Red Crescent has gathered more donations than any other Arab country.

Regimes out-of-step

The Syrian Government is authoritarian, and critics say it has little regard for the opinions of its citizens.

But during the war in Gaza it spoke for people here and many across the Arab world when it threw its weight behind the militant group Hamas and denounced Israel as a terrorist state.

That put it at odds with so-called moderate Arab countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Some say the bitter dispute between Arab governments made it easier for Israel to pursue its own agenda.

“The Arab people are more developed than the Arab governments and regimes,” said Khalife after the performance.

“There is no problem with any Arab from the Gulf to Morocco. The problem is with the regimes not with the people.”

On their knees

Syria is home to about 500,000 Palestinian refugees, who were displaced in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967.

In Palestine Camp, the neighbourhood where the majority live, the green banners of Hamas flutter over the market place and the walls are plastered with posters of Palestinian gunmen brandishing their weapons.

“The Europeans and the other Arab states hate Syria because it stands with the resistance,” said one man, seething with anger.

“They want Syria to be on its knees like those other Arab countries who eat and drink with the money of the West.”

A crowd gathers and everyone agrees.

“If the rest of the Arab world was like President Assad,” said another, “the Palestinians would have won long ago.”

Proven wrong

Egypt is seen as the villain here. It is condemned for failing to open its border to Gaza and relieve the besieged people there.

“They cannot understand why Egypt has no leadership in the region and is choosing to go against the wave,” says Tarek, an Egyptian working in Damascus.

He says he tries not to give away his accent to avoid discussions about Egypt’s perceived betrayal.
The political elite is in tune with the street.

Samir al-Taqi, director of Orient Centre for International Studies, a think tank close to the Syrian government, says Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other countries who put their faith in the good intentions of Israel and the US have been proven wrong.

He believes Syria’s role in the region has been strengthened.

“The Israelis and the Americans have weakened the arguments of their allies and empowered those of their enemies.

“There is disappointment from those regimes who had followed them and there’s a certain hope about the resistance.”

Whipped up

But others say it is too early to say who has won what has been described as an Arab Cold War.

“This struggle is far from over. It’s a vicious and bitter struggle being played out,” says Peter Harling, an analyst in Damascus for the International Crisis Group.

In recent months, Syria has been working hard to come in from the diplomatic cold and had opened indirect negotiations with Israel. After the war in Gaza, it suspended those talks.

“It’s very difficult having whipped up the Arab street and Syria’s population in particular to move back towards any kind of dialogue with Israel.”

Arab governments have now made some attempts to patch up their relationships. But the mood in Damascus is uncompromising.

For people here, the ruins of Gaza are proof that the Syrians and their militant allies who kept their weapons and their distrust of Israel were right.

Sooner or later, they feel, the rest of the Arab world will have have to join them.

January 28th, 2009, 4:23 pm


Alex said:

And the video that goes with the BBC article IDAF posted

January 28th, 2009, 5:20 pm


SimoHurtta said:

However, if you and your Hamas heroes’ objective is to “Free Palestine” instead of negotiating with Israel, then what is there to discuss?

Akbar how can Gazans (and Palestinians) in general negotiate when Israelis do not want to negotiate with the party which did win a perfectly democratic elections?

On the otherhand what is the reason/benefit to negotiate with con men like you, Madoff and Israeli government. Settlement growth up 69% in 2008. Abbas and PA must be crazy when they participate in this negotiation deception.

January 28th, 2009, 5:23 pm


idaf said:

More on the Syrian economy and political stability:

Political Risk-survey: Syria is less risky today than a year ago

Aon Corp, the world’s largest insurance broker said on Wednesday the credit crisis had prompted a general decrease in global stability and that it had put eight European countries into a higher risk category as a result.
The firm did note, however, that it had decided 13 countries were less risky than a year ago, including Algeria, Kuwait, Cameroon and Syria.

Countries had mostly moved up because of increased political stability, it said. But Syria was upgraded to ‘medium high’ risk from ‘high’ risk because it was more engaged with the rest of the world.

January 28th, 2009, 5:47 pm


Alex said:

A critique of Obama’s interview on AlArabiyya and the choice of being interviewed on AlArabiyya (paragraph breaks are mine)

There are several things to be said about this interview, and I don’t believe that there is anything new in it whatsoever. I mean, CNN is lauding it as an example of how Obama (or Bushama) is willing to reach out to the Muslim world. I listened to it on my way from SF last night and CNN aired it in full.

First, if the Bushama really wants to be different from Bush he would have selected AlJazeera and not al-Arabiyya. I mean, CNN does not know that Bush spoke to Arabic TV stations regularly, and Rice was a fixture on Al-Arabiyya TV. And they selected Al-Arabiyya because it is “friendly” to US interests and because on Al-Arabiyya TV US officials get softball questions. If Obama wanted to be different he would have chosen Al-Jazeera because it is the Arabs’ favorite channel. Al-Arabiyya is the US government’s favorite channel, and the US under Obama does not seem to want to respect the choices and preference of the Arab population.

Secondly, Obama chose this station because he wanted to appease the Saudi royal family especially after the moping remarks of Prince Turki–the midwife of Al-Qa`idah and a key ally of the US. This president is signaling that he will be no different than Bush in coddling the Saudi Wahhabi dictatorship–a key ally of Israel today. Do you notice that Israel does not even make token noise about Saudi arms sales? It used to prod its lobby here in the US to put stiff resistance to any arms sale to Saudi Arabia, and then they deny the existence of a Saudi-Israeli conspiracy. Apparently, the Saudi King was not pleased that Obama or Bushama called Abu Mazen (the usurping president of the puppet PA) and Mubarak–and of course Olmert–on his first day on the job but not the Saudi autocrat. The president then called him the next day and the Saudi news agency reported that they discussed ways to even “strengthen and expand” the Saudi-American relations. Don’t ever believe the promises of any presidential candidate regarding human rights or democracy when it comes to the Middle East: look at the example of the disgraced and failed president, Jimmy Carter who can’t stop producing boring and insignificant books on the Middle East.

Thirdly, there is nothing that Bushama said that was not said by Bush. The CNN guest, Aslan something who always impresses me with his lack of knowledge on the Middle East when he speaks on the Middle East, kept saying in awe that the president spoke respectfully about respect in his address to Muslims and Arabs. But so did Bush, and Bush went to a mosque in Washington, DC–in order to prepare for the bombs and missiles to fall on Muslim and Arab heads.

Fourthly, Obama in talking about the Middle East–the Palestine question and beyond–suffers from an acute case of “economism” or economic reductionism. He has the tendency to reduce all Arab and Muslim issues to job and medical care. It is NOT only the economy–stupid. It is also about pride and dignity and Palestine AND about freedom from the severe oppression that people suffer under governments that are coddled and armed by the very same US of A. So the words fall hollow here.

Fifthly, Obama as a representative of the White Man (and he can also be referred to as the White Man, analytically speaking just as Margaret Thatcher was a representative of the White Man) did not deviate from the deep racism that characterizes US foreign policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean when he refers to Israel’s security as “paramount” he is basically saying (like previous US president) that the security of the Palestinians is inferior because they are seen as inferior people. There is no question about that. It means that and the racism is reflected clearly in the disregard of Israeli WMDs. It never comes up in any interview with US officials on Al-Arabiyya (it is featured regularly in AlJazeera as yesterday’s interview with Brent Scowcroft showed). Karl Marx wrote somewhere about the danger of covering up the chain with flowers. Obama is no different than Bush but American bombs and missiles under his administration will be decorated and covered with flowers. If that is a reason to celebrate, please open the champagne bottles NOW.

January 28th, 2009, 6:41 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Akbar how can Gazans (and Palestinians) in general negotiate when Israelis do not want to negotiate with the party which did win a perfectly democratic elections?


I think if Hamas stopped “resisting” and recognized Israel, negotiations would start immediately.

On the otherhand what is the reason/benefit to negotiate with con men like you, Madoff and Israeli government.

I don’t think anyone needs to negotiate with me or Madoff, but you can if you want to!

BTW Sim, are there any “con men” in Finland?

Settlement growth up 69% in 2008.


Settlement growth in Gaza was high too. That is, until the GOI moved ALL THE JOOS OUT.;)

I would focus on negotiations and recognition of Israel more, and less on settlement policy (which has shown can change once an agreement is signed).

Abbas and PA must be crazy when they participate in this negotiation deception.

Maybe crazy for a Finn living several thousands of miles away, but if Egypt and Jordan can make peace with Israel, the Palestinians can to.

January 28th, 2009, 7:03 pm


Idit said:

What’s the Point of Talking?
Can you trust President Obama to deal with Iran and Syria?

January 28th, 2009, 10:56 pm


Mark said:

Hi Norman,

You wrote on :

“I want to add that Syria’s friendship is of the US strategic interest and that Syria as the center of Arab-ism it can do a lot to advance the US interest in the region if the US moves to solve the Palestinian/ Israeli problem depending on international law”

I agree with you, except for the “if” statement. Syria has a strategic agenda with the US outside the Palestinian/ Israeli problem. Why does Syria have this as a preconditions to talk with the States? It is east for the detractors of Syria to paint an old stereotype of a Syria that is inflexible and one dimensional.

What would be the reaction if Syria was to announce that it wants to meet with George Mitchell urgently to discuss issues of mutual interest and peace, e.g.
– measures for reducing violent religious extremists,
– sharing of intelligence about terrorist as happened shortly after 9/11,
– measures to reduce tensions between the factions in Lebanon,
– measures for the return of Golan and a peace treaty with Israel,
– inspection of all countries in the Region by the IAEA,
– etc.

Syria doesn’t have to give in; it could state its position clearly and simply. Return of the whole Golan (with security arrangements for Israel), stopping nuclear proliferation (reminding everyone of who actually has the bomb), stopping all violent religious extremist (all being Muslim, Christian and Jewish alike), etc.

A simple question, who is Syria’s ally right now? Russia, Syria’s tradition super power ally isn’t a super power any more. A year or so ago there where pictures of Assad with Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiling away, back when both had piles of money to give away. At $35/bbl oil Syria needs to look elsewhere if they want more than moral support (Russia, Venezuela and Iran can’t pay their own bills at home so they won’t be sending significant money to support Syria economically). In fact the entire oil exporting Arab world (and the rest of the oil exporting world that that matter) will be hurting economically. Once again Syria has ended up with the wrong economic powers to be allied with.

A simple solution, turn to the States. Most Presidents turn to foreign affairs in their second term. However, Obama needs a victory badly now as the US economic is turning even more sour. Syria could play a constructive role, gain a friend in Obama and advance their cause. Israel will become a millstone for Obama. At least start they could start talking.

January 29th, 2009, 4:31 am


why-discuss said:

Israel’s Kadima shamelessly continue their blackmail on the lives of the Gazans.
Now it is “Shalit or die!”

January 29th, 2009, 9:09 am


idaf said:

Not sure how accurate this is coming from a Kuwaiti source:

-The new US ambassador to Syria will be George Mitchell’s right hand in 2001 and the head of “Mitchell Report” team..
-Jeffrey Feldman will take David Welch’s post in the State Department?!
-Disagreements between Obama and Clinton on when to start talking with Syria.
ما لم تطرأ تعديلات في اللحظة الاخيرة، من المتوقع ان تعلن ادارة الرئيس باراك اوباما، تعيين فريدريك هوف سفيرا لها في سورية، حسب ما افادت مصادر في العاصمة الاميركية.
هوف سبق ان تقلب في مناصب حكومية حتى العام 1993، والتحق بعد ذلك بمؤسسة «ارميتاج»، التي تعمل مع حكومات على تدبير شؤون تراوح بين حل نزاعات وتطوير اعمال.
وفي العام 2001، قام رئيس لجنة ميتشيل لتقصي الحقائق في عملية السلام الفلسطينية – الاسرائيلية، في حينه، مبعوث السلام الحالي جورج ميتشل، بتكليف هوف بترؤس الفريق الذي قدم تقريرا عن عملية السلام الى الكونغرس. واشتهر النص باسم «تقرير ميتشيل».
هوف سبق ان خدم ايضا في الجيش الاميركي، واصدر عددا من المؤلفات اهمها كتاب بعنوان «الجليل المقسم: جبهة اسرائيل – لبنان بين 1916 و1984». ويعتبر من اكثر الخبراء الاميركيين المتابعين لملف مفاوضات السلام بين سورية واسرائيل.
واللافت في مسيرة هوف ايضا، انه شارك خلال لقاء في بيروت في اكتوبر 2005، جمع عددا من الخبراء الاميركيين والبريطانيين وجها لوجه مع نواف الموسوي، مسؤول العلاقات الخارجية في «حزب الله»، وموسى ابو مرزوق، ممثلا لحركة «حماس».
وفي خضم حرب يوليو بين اسرائيل و«حزب الله»، اي في 25 يوليو 2006، شارك هوف في ندوة في واشنطن وصف فيها قيادة «حزب الله» بالارهابية. وقال: «اذا وصل (الامين العام لـ «حزب الله» حسن) نصرالله والمقربون منه الى نهاية عنيفة في هذه الازمة الحالية، فلن تروني من بين معلني الحداد عليهم».
في الندوة عينها، اعتبر ان «الانسحاب الاسرائيلي من لبنان في العام 2000 كان انسحابا كاملا»، وان «المطالبة بمزارع شبعا تم اختراعها لتبرير سلاح حزب الله، ولاعطاء سورية الفرصة للاستمرار بسياستها الفاشلة في محاولة الضغط على اسرائيل، في مرتفعات الجولان، من خلال لبنان».
ومن المعروف ايضا عن هوف، انه كان من اصدقاء الكولونيل الاميركي ريتش هيغينز، الذي اختطفته مجموعات مسلحة من مكان عمله مع قوات الطوارئ الدولية في جنوب لبنان في الثمانينات، وقامت بتعذيبه وقتله. ولطالما ردد هوف، الذي عمل مع فريق البنتاغون في حينه على اطلاق زميله، اتهامه «حزب الله» بقتل هيغينز.
المصادر في العاصمة الاميركية اكدت ان «مهمة هوف ستكون العمل على رعاية التوصل الى سلام سوري – اسرائيلي، بالتنسيق مع معلمه السابق ميتشيل، الذي سيجوب عواصم المنطقة للتوصل الى الهدف نفسه». كما اعتبرت ان هوف من الملمين بتفاصيل الشأن اللبناني، وهذا ما دفع بالادارة الحالية الى السير في تعيينه سفيرا في دمشق، «للتأكد من ان سفيرنا في سورية سيحافظ على استقلال لبنان وسيادته».
الا ان المصادر لم تكشف عن وقت الاعلان عن تعيين هوف سفيرا بل تحدثت عن تباين بين البيت الابيض، المندفع الى فتح حوار فوري مع سورية، ووزارة الخارجية ومجلس الامن القومي، اللذان يبدوان اكثر تريثا في هذا الاتجاه.
كذلك علمت «الراي» ان عددا من اعضاء الكونغرس ومساعديهم يستعدون للقيام برحلات الى سورية. وحتى الساعة، تأكدت زيارة هاورد برمان، رئيس لجنة الشؤون الخارجية في الكونغرس، الى دمشق.
على صعيد متصل، استمرت بورصة الترشيحات للمناصب الشاغرة في الخارجية. وبرز في هذا الاطار الاتجاه الى تعيين السفير الاميركي السابق لدى لبنان، جيفري فيلتمان، مساعدا لوزيرة الخارجية هيلاري كلينتون لشؤون الشرق الادنى، وهو المنصب الذي كان يشغله ديفيد وولش في الادارة السابقة.

January 29th, 2009, 11:14 am


Alia said:

Another instance of the Humanitarian being hijacked by the Political….A behind the scene understanding.

From the Lancet
January 27th 2009

There are many good reasons that the BBC could have given for saying No to a DEC appeal on Gaza.

They could say no because they were unconvinced that the very strict criteria for launching such an appeal had been met by the 15 aid agencies asking for the appeal under the umbrella of the Disasters Emergency Committee. My memory from being involved in DEC appeals whilst Head of Press at CAFOD was that such appeals could only take place when the agencies could prove that the humanitarian need was huge, that there wasn’t enough money in their coffers to meet that need, and that they had strong evidence that the funds raised could translate into real aid delivered to the right people on the ground. The latter was one of the reasons initially given by Caroline Thomson and was bewildering to those of us who know the agencies would never have submitted a request for a televised appeal unless they could guarantee delivery on the ground. Bizarrely even this potentially good reason was promptly withdrawn.

Another good reason would have been that the Humanitarian aid sector is becoming increasingly political. While I was at CAFOD there was a battle afoot between those who wanted to stick with the traditional Red Cross model of neutral, humanitarian aid based on need and others who favoured a more political approach which linked relief to good governance, peace-keeping and other more political goals. My understanding however is that the unconditional humanitarian wing have triumphed so far and anyway this potentially good reason to say no wasn’t even mentioned by the BBC.

So no good reasons and lots of bad ones.

I agree with Mark Thompson that BBC news journalism must be impartial and I love the fact that reporters discuss and dissect every aspect of this at great length in news rooms. But this decision should never have had anything to do with journalistic impartiality. These DEC appeals are effectively free adverts for a charity appeal negotiated many years ago in a unique deal with newspapers and broadcasters for use only at times of exceptional humanitarian disaster. The fact that they are carried in newspapers or at the very end of the news does not make them journalism and to my knowledge no-one watching Stephen Fry or Fiona Shaw popping up in a clearly badged DEC appeal has ever mistook this for an extension of the news. The BBC news must be governed by journalistic rules about impartiality. DEC appeals are governed by an entirely different set of criteria and the two should never have been merged in the way they have this week. So the impartiality argument is a bad one

In an extension of the bad impartiality argument BBC bosses say that BBC can’t proceed because of controversy over the conflict which triggered the appeal. Well if that’s the case the BBC should be honest and announce a review of all humanitarian appeals which result from conflicts – ruling out many of the biggest DEC appeals of recent years.

And in one of the worst arguments of all, Thompson argued on the Today programme that impartiality applies to whole of the BBC’s output not just news, prompting my friend to say he looks forward to the dramatisation of Mein Kampf to balance the recent success of Anne Franks’s Diaries.

The other bad argument was that a BBC report recently criticised the corporation for undermining its independence by joining forces with today’s populist campaigns. If that means I don’t have to watch any more all day concerts interspersed with celebrities who have flown in from LA to tell us about their recycling habit I for one will rejoice. But again DEC appeal adverts which have taken the same format for many years have no link to such campaigning. And if you think I’m getting overly negative here – just don’t even get me started on the line that the Beeb may reconsider running the appeal some time down the line when the political conflict has died down!!!

The widespread anger at the BBC’s decision has allowed the bosses to retrospectively cast this as an example of the corporation taking a strong brave and principled stance on a tough issue. I can’t tell you how much I would love to believe that. I spend a large amount of my life with BBC journalists and the one thing they do not report in the post-Hutton and post Sachs-Gate BBC is a culture of bold and brave decision making. This decision was made by a defensive BBC management who have lost their way and are consumed by uncertainty and self doubt about how to deal with criticism of impartial reporting. There are many good reasons to say no to DEC appeals. I am still waiting to hear one from the BBC.

Fiona Fox

Director, Science Media Centre

January 29th, 2009, 1:54 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Looks like the Hamas victory is working wonders …

Hamas officials signal willingness to negotiate

January 29th, 2009, 2:07 pm


Innocent Criminal said:


It’s a futile exercise to attempt to argue with you because you are incapable of EVER criticizing yourself or your point of view. Simply because you are a very delusioned individual. Honestly man, how spaced can a man be?

Hamas never was against a unity government genius, it was Fatah that broke it off. And the fact that they seemed humbled by the barbaric and criminal IDF onslaught only proves they are human, albeit too religious to my taste, but not that they were the villains.

Anyways, the story can be read from another point of view. That the EU are now considering accepting a unity government. Which is something Fatah refused to accept and Hamas always wanted

January 29th, 2009, 2:22 pm


norman said:


Turkey urges Obama to redefine Mideast terrorism

2009-01-29 14:10:02 –

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – Turkey’s prime minister had a message Thursday for U.S. President Barack Obama: redefine terror and terrorism in the Middle East and use it as the basis for a new American policy.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country has played a key role in trying to mediate among Israel and Syria and the Palestinians, said Obama’s new Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, will be in Turkey for talks Sunday.
«President Obama must redefine terror and terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and based on this new definition, a new American policy must be deployed in the Middle East,» Erdogan told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Turkish leader appeared to be referring to the U.S. position toward Hamas and Hezbollah, which the United States considers terrorist organizations. While both have military wings, Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and remains in charge following the recent Israeli invasion. Hezbollah is a major political force in Lebanon.
As a secular Muslim country that belongs to NATO and is seeking membership in the European Union, Turkey has been a bridge to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Alluding to Turkey’s unique position, Erdogan prefaced his message to Obama, saying that «compared to the Western countries, we speak best the language of the Middle East.
Before the Dec. 27 attack on Gaza, Erdogan said Turkey had been deeply involved in mediating between Israel and Syria and was awaiting a response from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when the bombs started falling in the Palestinian territory.
«I saw this as a lack of respect for us and also a shadow cast over peace,» Erdogan said.
Even though there’s now a shaky cease-fire in Gaza, the Israeli-Syria talks appear to be on hold, Erdogan said.
«I see right now that this is shelved,» he said. «But if the parties request it, we as Turkey would be willing to take part, to play a role in those discussions.

Press release:
Kontaktinformation: e-mail

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January 29th, 2009, 2:51 pm


offended said:

“I don’t like Lieberman but at least he has a clear plan. If someone hurts us, bomb them out of existence. None of this listening to international diplomacy rubbish. What a waste of time!”

January 29th, 2009, 5:45 pm


Akbar Palace said:

It’s a futile exercise to attempt to argue with you because you are incapable of EVER criticizing yourself or your point of view.


Maybe. So when, pray tell, was the last time you criticized yourself?

Simply because you are a very delusioned individual. Honestly man, how spaced can a man be?

I think Hamas’ victory is “delusional”. Do you agree?

Hamas never was against a unity government genius, it was Fatah that broke it off.


Who speaks for the Palestinians, Fatah or Hamas? And if it is Hamas, how should Israel make peace with an organization that doesn’t recognize her?

(Speaking of delusional…)

And the fact that they seemed humbled by the barbaric and criminal IDF onslaught only proves they are human, albeit too religious to my taste, but not that they were the villains.


Yes, it takes more than just words to get an organization who brainwashes their infant young to murder themselves together with Jewish civilians to humble themselves. I agree.

January 29th, 2009, 6:36 pm


why-discuss said:


Do you think your elected leaders, Livni, Olmert and Barak together with IDF commanders may end up in a turkish or european jail for their crimes?

January 29th, 2009, 7:02 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Ordogan left Davos club after stupid comment by Perez

January 29th, 2009, 7:20 pm


norman said:


Syria’s stock exchange kicks off

2009-01-29 19:39:02 –

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – The Syrian capital’s long-awaited stock exchange began its first operations in Damascus on Thursday, giving what investors hope will be a much-needed jolt to the country’s sluggish economy after decades of socialist-style policies.
The fledgling market is due to trade on a tentative trial basis for three weeks before being officially inaugurated in early March.
The interim operations of the Damascus Securities Exchange included five large Syrian companies: the International Bank for Trade and Finance, Bank of Syria and Overseas, Arab Bank-Syria, Banque Bemo Saudi-French, and Al-Ahliah Company for Transport.
The companies and others that hope to list their stocks have yet to obtain final government approval to trade once the stock market becomes officially operational.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree establishing the bourse’s operator in October 2006. It is meant to operate as an independent entity responsible for regulating and developing financial markets and related activities.
The official inauguration of the stock market will be on March 9.
Assad has taken some steps toward liberalizing the economy since taking power in 2000, including allowing private ownership of banks and currency exchange bureaus.
Rateb Shallah, head of the bourse’s board, praised the tentative operations, calling the stock market «a big chance for ambitious businessmen.

Press release:
Kontaktinformation: e-mail

Disclaimer: If you have any questions regarding information in these press releases please contact the company added in the press release. Please do not contact pr-inside. We will not be able to assist you. PR-inside disclaims contents contained in this release.

January 29th, 2009, 8:14 pm


norman said:

وفد من الكونجرس الأمريكي يصل الجمعة إلى دمشق الاخبار السياسية

يصل غدا الجمعة وفد من الكونجرس الأمريكي برئاسة ممثل ولاية واشنطن في مجلس النواب الأميركي آدم سميث برفقة عدد من أعضاء لجنة القوات المسلحة في الكونجرس إلى دمشق في زيارة رسمية يبحث خلالها العلاقات الثنائية.

ونقلت وكالة الأنباء الألمانية (د ب أ) عن مصادر دبلوماسية قولها إن “دمشق ستشهد زيارات عدد من الوفود الأمريكية إلى المنطقة، منها إضافة إلى وفد سميث وفدان سيأتيان إلى دمشق في شهر شباط المقبل وسيترأس الأول السيناتور بنجامين كاردن، وسيترأس الثاني السيناتور هوارد بيرمان”.

وتعتبر هذه الزيارة لسورية الأولى من نوعها منذ تسلم الرئيس الأمريكي باراك أوباما منصبه كرئيس للولايات المتحدة في العشرين من الشهر الحالي.

يذكر أن العلاقات السورية الأمريكية سادتها منذ سنوات توترات شديدة، حيث فرضت الولايات المتحدة على سورية عقوبات اقتصادية منذ عام 2004، كما أدرجت اسمها على قائمة “محور الشر” حسب ما تسميه. حتى وصلت إلى أسوء حالاتها في الأشهر الأخيرة بعد اعتداء طائرات أمريكية على عمال سوريين في مزرعة حدودية سورية مع العراق ما أدى إلى مقتل ثمانية أشخاص

January 29th, 2009, 8:31 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Here is a summary of the incident:

Of course, history repeats itself…

Why-Discuss said:

Do you think your elected leaders, Livni, Olmert and Barak together with IDF commanders may end up in a turkish or european jail for their crimes?


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m American (like Professor Josh), so none of these people are my elected leaders. But as far as answering your question, NO, I do not think any Israeli will wind up in jail because they committed no crime.

But, hey, the Arabs throw everyone in jail, so anything is possible.

January 29th, 2009, 8:33 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

All Peres said was a lie. It was unacceptable,” she said, eyes glistening.
I agree,All what Israel is saying are lies,Israel killed many innocent civilian,they did not respect U.N. school,This is a holocaust,they did it in Gaza,and they did it in Lebanon in 2006.
Thanks to Erdogan

January 29th, 2009, 9:38 pm


Shami said:

Great Erdogan ,here is the video with arabic translation :

January 30th, 2009, 12:41 am


nafdik said:

“Syria’s stock exchange kicks off”

This is really great news. Can we buy stocks online?

January 30th, 2009, 1:39 am


Akbar Palace said:

Thanks to Erdogan


I don’t know about you, but getting a lesson on the civilian consequences of war from the Turkish PM is a little ironic if you ask me.

Outside of the Holocaust, the Turkish genocide of the Armenians comes next. Not to mention thousands of Kurdish civilians the Turks have killed.

Peres could have reminded Erdogan.

January 30th, 2009, 1:43 am


Alex said:


1) The Turkish genocide of the Armenians was in 1915 … Israel is murdering and injuring thousands of people every couple of years… 2006 and 2008 …

2) Turkey is not illegally occupying South eastern Turkey where the Kurds are trying to establish their independent country, and the Kurds are not prisoners in a Gaza-like prison with no food, no medical supplies and no education …


Besides, when will you take responsibility for your baby-Israel’s barbaric savagery instead or always replying “what about Darfur? … what about the 1915 Genocide…”

January 30th, 2009, 1:54 am


Shami said:

Akbar ,you the zionists have no other choices than to creat problems between the people that you consider as a treat.
Alex ,has answered you very well, whose ancestors are from South Turkey that were probably forced to escape their homeland.
These events that decimated the christians populations in Anatolia and also the muslim populations in the Caucasus were result of several factors internal and external ,first of all ,the work of international intelligences in order to exacerbate divisions between people who lived in peace for centuries and the reponse by ottoman minorities and communities to the turkish nationalism and turkization policy led by the young turks who were prior to the genocides also allies with the armenian nationalists of Tashnaq against the powerless sultan.So it was a war of nationalists in what we called the dying man ,and we can not generalize these sad events to the whole Ottoman era which was characterized by a relative and most of the time a great tolerance towards the great number of different communities,the jews of Spain and other than Spain included who were rescued by a special sultanian firman.

January 30th, 2009, 2:26 am


SimoHurtta said:

Peres could have angered the Turkish PM a bit more.

Akbar without doubt Israel will have to pay in future a high price for angering the Turkish PM. Do you Akbar know what Turkey is? Area 783,562 km2, population 71 million, GDP $937 billion. Israel, area 22,072 km2, population “loyal” about 5 million, GDP $188 billion.

The Turkish Armed Forces is the second largest standing armed force in NATO, after the U.S. Armed Forces, with a combined strength of 1,043,550 uniformed personnel serving in its five branches.

IDF maintains approximately 168,000 active troops and an additional 408,000 reservists.

After these Wikipedia facts we could consider what this development means. Seem that Erdogan is really pissed off and has large national support to make Israel’s life really difficult.

Let’s consider if Erdogan forces USA (and EU) choose between Israel and Turkey. I suppose Israel will loose. Turkey is far more important, politically, economically and militarily. If Turkey warms its relations with Syria, Iran and others who US/Israel do not see as moderate it will force Egypt and Saudis reconsider and fast. Turkey has many cards to play, Nabucco, entry to the Black sea etc, Israel only the nukes.

The cost of supporting Israel is becoming more and more expensive for western powers. Soon they have to change their policy.

Netanyahu: I won’t evacuate settlements, keep Olmert’s promises

Akbar did you know that over 400,000 your fellow countrymen who have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have needed medical help. Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield injuries and deaths number 81,361.

January 30th, 2009, 2:29 am


norman said:

Turkey is working on moving from the tail of the NATO and the West to be the leader of the Islamic world , What Erdogan did today will only advance his leadership.

January 30th, 2009, 2:55 am


majedkhaldoun said:

the armenian killing is an old hstory,we are talking about current events,we are seeng it now,Israel and the one who support it like you,are murderous,and criminal now,otherwise if you bring an old history, you may talk about Joshua crimes against the palastinian,or soloman crimes,the history is full of massacres.

January 30th, 2009, 3:29 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Thousands waiting for Erdogan return,in the airport,to support him,our hearts with him too.

January 30th, 2009, 3:45 am


Innocent_Criminal said:

It really says a lot about the pathetic state of the Arab leaders and public when Leaders such from Turkey and even far away countries such as Bolivia & Venezuela have the spine to do things that Egyptian, Jordanian and even Palestinian leaders won’t dare to do.

January 30th, 2009, 6:37 am


offended said:

I am inviting Mr. Erdogan to come take over the Arab world.

January 30th, 2009, 7:16 am


why-discuss said:

Amr Moosa and David Ignatius performance in Davos.

Amr Moosa’s mere presence in a forum with an Israeli leader and his confusion after Erdogan left (Ban Ki moon invited him by a sign to sit after Moosa stood up, confused, almost ready to follow Erdogan) says clearly that the arab league is dead as it represents only the arab states who made peace with Israel. I believe most arab states should withdraw from that dead body, that, by its impotence, has become a laughing stock and a delight to Israel.
David Ignatius, jewish-american journalist was the “moderator” of this forum in Davos. (Most newswires avoid to name him, why?). He allocated 25 minutes to Peres who dumped his lies on a “sympathetic” audience and his acrimony on Erdogan while Erdogan was allocated 10 minutes. When Erdogan tried to reply to Peres, Ignatius disrespectfully interrupted him repeatedly by saying “Time is finished, I must take our guests for dinner”. Dinner???? Was he serious?
Many say that Erdogan should have shut up like Moosa to preserve the Israeli-Turkish relation. I think Erdogan expressed the anger that arabs and many europeans feel. Shutting up would have made him a accomplice to these crimes.
Ignatius wrote “Body of Lies”, what an irony.
While a news came up that Peres apologized by phone to Erdogan, Israel categorically denies it. Of course how can the president of the jewish superpower of Israel apologizes to a moslem turk!

Israeli leaders in jail???
Sorry, your vehemence in defending Israeli leaders actions made me think you were a faithful Israeli citizen, sorry for the mistake. Don’t you think Olmert may end up in jail, not for killing innocent palestinian children, but for misusing state money. It says a lot about the moral priorities in Israel.

January 30th, 2009, 9:52 am


why-discuss said:

Israel said that Peres did not apologize.. He and Erdogan had a ‘friendly’ conversation”
About what? the dinner menu?

“Cette allégation n’a pas le moindre fondement”, a déclaré à l’AFP la porte-parole de la présidence, Ayelet Frish.

Elle a confirmé en revanche que M. Peres avait appelé M. Erdogan, affirmant que les deux dirigeants avaient eu une “conversation amicale”.

January 30th, 2009, 10:16 am


Akbar Palace said:

Sorry, your vehemence in defending Israeli leaders actions made me think you were a faithful Israeli citizen, sorry for the mistake.


I know how you feel. I once thought Professor Josh was Syrian.

Don’t you think Olmert may end up in jail, not for killing innocent palestinian children, but for misusing state money. It says a lot about the moral priorities in Israel.

The first moral priority for Israel is to protect her citizens. I know some people feel Israel should be the only country in the world to have no right to defend herself, but I’m just saying that Israel will continue to have the same standards as any other country. In most cases the standard is better.

I’m not sure how many Qassam and Grad missiles the Armenians lobbed into Turkish villages, or how many tonnes of relief aid the Turks provided to dying Armenians fleeing the “fighting”, but since you asked me, IMHO Israel has a record and a moral standing she can be proud of.

January 30th, 2009, 12:14 pm


SimoHurtta said:

The first moral priority for Israel is to protect her citizens. I know some people feel Israel should be the only country in the world to have no right to defend herself, but I’m just saying that Israel will continue to have the same standards as any other country. In most cases the standard is better.

Well a serial murderer or rapist has as also the right to defend himself when being attacked. Though most of us (minus Akbar) understand the motivations of the murderers or rapists victims and relatives for seeking revenge. An action creates mostly a counter action.

Sure Israel has the same moral etc standards and obligations as all other countries have. That is seen for example Akbar in UN where the whole world (minus USA and those couple funny Island nations) demand Israel to obey those standards and obligations. The problem Akbar is that Israel is not willing to obey the international rules. It only obeys part of the standards when it is fit to it. In Israel’s “mind” Israel has the right to defend, Palestinians have not the same right. Akbar if a Jewish settler has the right to shoot a burglar why doesn’t a Palestinian farm owner have the same right and opportunity to shoot a bunch of settlers destroying his olive trees?

The key question for you Akbar is that would there be need for Israel to defend itself if there would not be a cruel occupation? Well I know that kind of more complex two dimensional reasoning is to difficult for you Akbar.

Some reading for evaluating Israel’s moral standards
Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement

IMHO Israel has a record and a moral standing she can be proud of.

Like what? Numerous self started wars, occupation of millions, stealing, deliberate humiliation of others, building nuclear bombs and demanding that others do not etc. Israel’s record and standing with human rights (Akbar Jews are not the only humans even you obviously seem to believe so) and moral is as thin as the book of Italian military victories in WW2.

January 30th, 2009, 1:23 pm


qunfuz said:

Britain made a huge mistake appeasing fascism in the 30s. The reasons for appeasement are understandable: Europe had still not recovered from the first world war, and any attempt to take on fascism threatened an even greater conflagration. Indeed, the second world war completed the fall of Europe from global predominance, and Britain remained an economic disaster zone until the 60s. But very few people today would dispute the inevitability of war with fascism, and the fact that the war was worse because Hitler had been given years to build his forces.

If the internet had been around in the 30s anti-fascists and fascists would no doubt have spent a lot of time debating with each other on blogs.

January 30th, 2009, 2:01 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Well a serial murderer or rapist has as also the right to defend himself when being attacked.

And so does an anti-semite. Fortunately, Israel is neither.

Though most of us (minus Akbar) understand the motivations of the murderers or rapists victims and relatives for seeking revenge.

Glad you understand.

The problem Akbar is that Israel is not willing to obey the international rules.

I’m sorry Sim, what rules is Israel “not willing to obey”? Your rules?

It only obeys part of the standards when it is fit to it. In Israel’s “mind” Israel has the right to defend, Palestinians have not the same right.

According to “the rules”, the Palestinians have no right to fire missiles indiscriminately into Israel population centers. Furthermore, they have no right to attack Israel from civilian areas and schools. The Palestinians DO have the right to defend themselves, and Israel has never challenged that.

Akbar if a Jewish settler has the right to shoot a burglar why doesn’t a Palestinian farm owner have the same right and opportunity to shoot a bunch of settlers destroying his olive trees?

They both absolutely have that right. But this hypothetical situation does not describe the situation in Gaza (if that’s important to you).

The key question for you Akbar is that would there be need for Israel to defend itself if there would not be a cruel occupation?


You are full of “key questions”. I keep answering them, and you keep repeating them. I don’t know how “key” they are any more.

So to answer your “key question” again, and judging from recent history, Israel would definately need “to defend itself if there would not be a cruel occupation”.

Check out the date on this cartoon:

Like what? Numerous self started wars, occupation of millions, stealing, deliberate humiliation of others, building nuclear bombs and demanding that others do not etc.

Like our peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan. Like defending ourselves against forces who don’t recognize us under any circumstance and who are trying to “wipe us off the map” by lobbing missiles into Israeli population centers. You know – your heroes Sim.

I didn’t know “building nuclear bombs” was immoral. I guess we’re as immoral as Great Britain.

Israel’s record and standing with human rights …

Yes, I hope one day Israel’s human rights record is as good as Turkey’s;)


Please let me know if you have further “key questions”. This is fun. I call it “Stump the Jew”.

January 30th, 2009, 2:05 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Erdogan is outraged.

Please send check or money order to:

“Help Erdogan and his noble fight against Zionist Aggression™”
POB 43920
Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10034

January 30th, 2009, 2:50 pm


Alia said:

Hey A.P.,

Sorry I don’t have much time to spend but do you remember bragging to me a couple of weeks ago about the great admiration Turkey has for israel implying that that was a guarantee for an enduring alliance ? You see things can change rather rapidly.

Another point, kindly leave the association of the word “moral” with israel, there is no such thing as morality in israel.

And about your cries of “here you are stump the jew”- we are not impressed- whatever happens to israel and to its supporters they brought on themselves. Missiles are a legitimate way for an occupied terrorized population to defend itself – and you and all the israelis cannot change people’s perception of right and wrong- one day people wake up to the deceptions they have been fed-

And look at that even the GERMAN POPE is not that impressed with what your Rabbis may think and rehabilitated a holocaust denier among his own close circle.

The Gaza massacre was the beginning of the end of israel.
Let the history books show.

January 30th, 2009, 3:15 pm


norman said:

مصادر:واشنطن تدرس إمكانية تعيين سفير جديد لها لدى دمشق

أعلن مصدر مقرب من الخارجية الأمريكية أن “واشنطن تدرس إمكانية تعيين سفير جديد لها لدى دمشق”.

January 30th, 2009, 3:21 pm


why-discuss said:

Money for Erdogan? maybe Israel would need some too

I guess Israel who gets billions of dollars from you, americans, to sustain their “miraculous” and “successful” economy, their phosphorus bombs and the building and feeding of the tumors-settlements creeping on Palestine stolen lands, do not need money. Or maybe now they do? Why don’t you make an ad in the US media to help defenseless Israel to pay the fees of the lawyers against the 300 organizations planning to sue Israel for war crimes?

January 30th, 2009, 3:21 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Missiles are a legitimate way for an occupied terrorized population to defend itself


Not according to “the rules”. There is NO “legitimate way for an occupied terrorized population to defend itself” if they fire missiles into population centers especially from areas within their own civilian population.

Unfortunately Alia, you and your jihadist heroes can’t have your cake and eat it. As much as I would love for your jihadist heroes to kill as many Jews in Israel without Israel able to respond, I am sorry to say it doesn’t work that way here on Earth or within international law. I think it only works within Islamic law, but we don’t subscribe to that. Sorry once again.

Regards to Mahmoud, Khalid, Hassan, Bashar, and Osama. Please tell them that victory is right around the corner.

January 30th, 2009, 3:43 pm


Alex said:

United States Mideast envoy George Mitchell said on Friday the new U.S. administration’s push for Israeli-Palestinian peace after the war in the Gaza Strip faced substantial hurdles, and he predicted further setbacks.

January 30th, 2009, 3:43 pm


Alex said:

AND .. Aljazeera is reporting that President Obama’s envoy to the Middle East is “postponing” his visit to Turkey … for technical reasons.

January 30th, 2009, 3:51 pm


trustquest said:

The correction is needed:
“Missiles are a legitimate way for an occupied terrorized population to defend itself”

It should be:
“ Milliles are a legitimate way for an occupied terrorized population to defend itself from Starving”

Do you still have an argument?
Do you remember Warsaw Uprising atrocities and the burning of patients alive, is there a similarity here

Here an excerpt,

“Similar exterminations took place in October 1939 in a hospital in Owińska, near Poznań, where 1,000 patients (children and adults) were killed[citation needed].”

Killing over 500 children in defending Israel from killing couple of Israelis, is a crime against humanity.
AP, please wake up to your conscious and save your logic from being hypocrite.

January 30th, 2009, 4:05 pm


SimoHurtta said:

Akbar news about Israel’s moral from today (Shvat 5, 5769)

17:37 France: Israel blocked attempt to get water purification station into Gaza (Reuters)
18:41 EU spokesman: 120 supply trucks enter Gaza daily, compared to 500 in 2007 (AP)

Is a water purification station a dangerous “weapon”????????
Or is it simply a question of torturing more the people of Gaza? Unbelievable.

January 30th, 2009, 5:06 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Thanks for the “crimes_in_Poland” link.

“Approximately 6,000,000 Polish citizens” sure is a lot of dead people!

Perhaps if these Polish citizens only fired few thousand mortars, Qassams and Grad missiles into German population centers, the Germans would have killed only 1,300 innocent people like the Zionist Hoodlums are guilty of.

It’s all coming together now and making better sense to me.

Kudos on the link and piecing together this eye-opening comparison.

January 30th, 2009, 5:10 pm


offended said:

I think Mitchel has realized that there is no point in pursuing peace unless it becomes clear who’s going to become the next PM in Israel. It’s also worth noting that he’s made those announcements right after he met Netanyahu.

There’s the Palestinian reconciliation too, but I doubt if the americans are too concerned about it, since they seem to be comfortable talking to darling Abbas only. (not to be confused with QN’s friend from Hezbollah ; ) )

January 30th, 2009, 5:11 pm


Alex said:


What difference does it make who will lead Israel next?

There will be another war.

January 30th, 2009, 6:02 pm


offended said:

Israel ‘hides settlements data’

Israel has concealed key data detailing illegal settlement-building activity, reports Haaretz newspaper.

January 30th, 2009, 6:15 pm


offended said:

I think Mitchel found out few significant differences amongst the lot. For instance, while Barak would accept two states and desmantling of some settlements, Netanyaho would want to bomb Iran before wrapping it up with the Palestinian (and that’s only my guess).

So he thought better to wait until it becomes clear who would win.

How sure are you about the war? :/

January 30th, 2009, 6:22 pm


offended said:

I am becoming increasing annoyed at BBC. Frist, they would not air a Humane Appeal saying it is against their impartiality, Second: whenever they report something slightly against Israel they would put it between quotation marks: like they’re not sure.

for example:
Israel “hides settlements data”

January 30th, 2009, 6:26 pm


norman said:


January 30, 2009

U.S. May Forge New Ties With Syria

This story was written by CBS News’ George Baghdadi in Damascus.


(AP)A U.S. Congressional delegation was to arrive in Damascus Friday night in what could be the start to a new chapter in Syria – U.S. relations.

After years of disregard by George W. Bush, President Bashar al-Assad is hoping Barack Obama will bring Syria into the diplomatic fold, genuinely engaging Israel’s neighbor in the effort to bring lasting stability to the Middle East.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wa., was heading the delegation of House Armed Services Committee members dispatched by the Obama administration, which seems keen to push the Mideast peace agenda, according to diplomats in Damascus.

They said the delegation was to hold talks with senior Syrian officials on how to further bilateral relations between the two countries in advance of a visit next month by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Ca., the chairman of the of House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus confirmed that the delegation was to arrive Friday evening.

Syria, which has good relations with a broad range of actors in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese political arenas, could contribute a lot to any international push to build a stable peace in the region.

Syria’s relations with the U.S. struggled under President Bush, who frequently accused Damascus of allowing people and weapons across their border into Iraq to fight American troops.

However, since the American change of power, Assad has shown cautious optimism, telling Al-Manar television (operated by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militant group) that a “serious” joint dialogue has already been initiated.

(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)(Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attends the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 16, 2009.)

“We have positive indications, but we learned to be careful. As long as there are no tangible results, we have to assume that things have not changed,” he said.

Damascus suspended its indirect talks with Israel to protest the Jewish state’s 22-day military operation in the Gaza Strip aimed at Hamas militants. The assault left about 1,300 Palestinians dead, half of them women and children, and many more wounded.

Neither side has ruled out a resumption of the talks, which focused on the future of the occupied Golan Heights, but they remained on hold Friday.

The Gaza offensive also brought increased calls from voices in the West to engage Hamas, which has the backing of Syria, although that group still refuses to abandon its armed resistance or to recognize Israel. Those conditions must be met before the U.S. or the E.U. are even willing (officially) to speak to Hamas.

Syrian officials have indicated that the international community would need Syria’s help if it wished to engage rather than shun the militant Palestinian group.

“It is true Hamas should be engaged; there are new realities on the ground. The Islamic group has managed to stick to its commitment to resist and clinch to its stances despite the apparent heavy losses it sustained, it is still able to fire rockets into south Israel and the Israeli soldier it kidnapped three years ago is still in captivity,” says Syrian political analyst Ahmad Fathi.

France, in fact, has started the ball rolling. Former Foreign Minister Jean Francois-Poncet and another Parliamentarian recently met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, behind closed doors, according to Western diplomats.


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January 30th, 2009, 6:27 pm


qunfuz said:

the BBC ’embedded’ a journalist with the terrorist Givati Brigade in Gaza. This is the same Brigade that murdered the British peace activist Tom Hurndall.

January 30th, 2009, 8:08 pm


qunfuz said:

Philip Slater (author of The Pursuit of Loneliness)

A Message to Israel

I can understand that after centuries of persecution it’s satisfying for a Jewish state to be the aggressor for a change, but there’s a codicil that goes with that role. You don’t get to act like a victim any more. “Poor little Israel” just sounds silly when you’re the dominant power in the Middle East. When you’ve invaded several of your neighbors, bombed and defeated them in combat, occupied their land, and taken their homes away from them, it’s time to stop acting oppressed. Yes, Arab states deny your right to exist, threaten to drive you into the sea, and all the rest of their futile, helpless rhetoric. The fact is, you have the upper hand and they don’t. You have sophisticated arms and they don’t. You have nuclear weapons and they don’t. So stop pretending to be pathetic. It doesn’t play well in Peoria.

(Yes, I know, we Americans should talk–always trembling in our boots about terrorists and ‘rogue states’ and ‘evil empires’ when we have enough nukes to blow up entire continents, and spend more on arms in an hour than most of the world’s nations spend in a year. But just because we’re hypocrites and Nervous Nellies doesn’t mean you have to be).

Calling Hamas the ‘aggressor’ is undignified. The Gaza strip is little more than a large Israeli concentration camp, in which Palestinians are attacked at will, starved of food, fuel, energy–even deprived of hospital supplies. They cannot come and go freely, and have to build tunnels to smuggle in the necessities of life. It would be difficult to have any respect for them if they didn’t fire a few rockets back.

The Israel lobby has a hissy fit when anyone points out that Israel has been borrowing liberally from the Nazi playbook, but to punish a whole nation for the attacks of a few–which Israel has been doing consistently in Gaza–is a violation of international law–a law enacted in response to the Nazi practice. And please, spare us the hypocrisy–borrowed, I’m ashamed to admit, from my own government–of saying ‘every effort is made to avoid civilian casualties’. When you drop bombs on a crowded city you’re bombing civilians. Bombs don’t ask for ID cards. Bombs are civilian killers. That’s what they do. They’re designed to break the spirit of a nation by slaughtering families. They were used all through World War II by all sides for that very purpose. And that’s what they’re intended for in Gaza.

And please, Israel, try to restrain yourself from using that ridiculous argument, borrowed again from Bush (how low can you get?), that Hamas leaders “hide among civilians”, by living in their own homes. Apparently, in the thinking of Israelis, they should all run out into an uninhabited area somewhere (try to find one in Gaza), surround themselves with flares and write in the sand with a stick, “Here I am!”

Yesterday you shelled three UN-run schools, killing several dozen children and adults, despite the fact that the UN had given you the precise coordinates of all its schools in Gaza. So much for ‘taking every care to avoid civilian casualties’. You seem to feel you can kill whomever you like, whenever you like, and wherever you like, just because you have a blank check from the United States. Every day this assault goes on you’re demonstrating contempt for the UN, the international community, and human life. Talk about a rogue state.

You might also pay attention to the fact that your outdated policy of macho bullying–the policy you’ve been following for decades–isn’t working! The Palestinians are human. They’re not dogs you can beat into submission. The worse you treat them, the more they’ll fight back. That’s what it means to be human. The more you oppress people, the more people resist. We dropped more bombs on Viet Nam than all the bombs dropped by all nations in World War II. Not to mention napalm, herbicides and all kinds of sophisticated land mines. But did they bow down and kiss the feet of their conquerors? They did not.

You’ll have to kill them all. And when you do, you may finally lose the support even of the United States.

Remember that American support is based entirely on the notion that no politician can win without the Jewish vote. But not all American Jews think Israel is on a divine mission from God. A great many American Jews believe in international law and justice.

I can understand how Israel could resent this lecture coming from an American. After all, isn’t this what we Americans did? Came into someone else’s country, slaughtered 95% of its inhabitants and took over? And didn’t we go all Nervous Nellie whenever they fought back, accusing them of aggression to justify even more genocidal slaughter? And didn’t we get away with it?

Yes, but I’m sorry to tell you, Israel, you came on the scene too late. Genocide just doesn’t fly any more. I know it isn’t fair, you have every right to feel aggrieved about this, but the world’s smaller, cowboys are passé, and bullies aren’t heroes any more.

January 30th, 2009, 8:11 pm


Shami said:

AP ,here is the answer from the sons of Salahadin al Ayyoubi,the kurdish liberator of Jerusalem.

Other thing,in the last elections ,the majority of the kurds of Turkey have voted for Erdogan’s party that came ahead of the kurdish nationalist party DTP ,the political wing of PKK.

January 30th, 2009, 8:44 pm


Alex said:

How CNN covered Erdogan in Davos yesterday

1) Playing politics (he is currently competing in municipal elections in Turkey)

2) He often loses his temper

Oh .. and those who greeted him at the airport were his party officials.

January 30th, 2009, 9:36 pm


Alex said:

January 30th, 2009, 9:46 pm


nafdik said:

Thx Alex,

– Peres is calling for Arab unity
– He thinks that Iran has “colonial” ambitions in the Arab world

Is he a Baathi by any chance 😉 ?

January 30th, 2009, 10:55 pm


SimoHurtta said:

This Peres is simply a poor quality propagandist.

Seems that Peres has not been speaking with Wolfensohn lately. Here is Wolfensohn’s view of the events, opinions which has very little common with Peres’ propaganda.

Israel did not give Gazans the glasshouses, part was transported to Israel, part of the glasshouses were sold. And Israel took care that everything was dead when the new owners started by cutting the water. On the other hand what is the use of glasshouses if the products can’t be imported.

January 30th, 2009, 11:28 pm


nafdik said:

The day our leaders will be elected they might be able to take a stand like this.

January 31st, 2009, 12:45 am


Alex said:

That’s right Nafdik.

But it also helps when your country has one of the largest armies in the world and you are a member of NATO and when, most importantly, Israel and its helpers are not trying to discredit your country.

I remember when Farouk Sharaa dared to speak his mind at the security council (2005?)… when he simply asked “How can you assume that Syria killed Hariri simply because Syrian troops were in Lebanon at the time? … If we use this logic then we are also forced to assume that the American administration was behind 9/11 since it took place in the United States where the US army ad security forces are in control”

The British and American foreign secretaries replied and they both said that they were shocked at the total lack of civility from the Syrian minister.

He really made a good point, but they own the security council so they can act shocked and everyone else will imitate them and be shocked at the backward Syrian minister …

Erdogan can get away with it without being portrayed as a weirdo.

Although CNN did try to

January 31st, 2009, 1:08 am


alia said:

Such stands make us all feel good, but the whole situation needs to get infinitely more serious, urgent…The pro-Palestinian camp (for lack of a better name) has been so chronically deprived of victories that it becomes drunk on the simplest of gestures.

Yes, Alex I remember that incident with al-Shaaar…lacking civility is really no big deal. it could even be a compliment in certain instances. CNN and the israeli media trying to neutralize Erdogan’s stand by imputing ulterior political motives to him is much more upsetting.

I wonder where Chris is… we have to keep our enemies always in sight to make sure they are not up to no good : )

January 31st, 2009, 2:03 am


majedkhaldoun said:

أبو الغيط: مصر أفشلت مؤتمر الدوحة حفاظًا على الوحدة العربية
This is strange,it is the opposit,it reminds me of how perez think.

January 31st, 2009, 2:58 am


jad said:

Dear Alia, your last sentence is hilarious…very funny

January 31st, 2009, 3:36 am


nafdik said:


A few comments on your comments 😉

– Could it be that Turkey is successful is because it is a democracy?

– The reason he is not portrayed as weirdo is because there is no indication that he is. All our dictators are weirdos, and any digging into their biography is quite a horror show. The fact that we do not see the weirdo-ness is because we have been accustomed to it. However the outside world has not been.

– Sharaa comment is actually very weird, if you don’t see how weird it is you have to test it on neutral observers.

– When Assad says “We will teach our children to remember the massacre” and he does not see the horrible irony, I have to assume he is a weirdo. The same sentence said by a normal person would not be weired.

January 31st, 2009, 4:28 am


Alex said:


You know by now that I am a fan of Erdogan and his best friend, the president of the country to the South of Turkey. I think they are both doing a great job.

Your logic is similar to that of Akbar Palace earlier where he said that it is funny to hear erdogan lecturing Israel about killing when his country was responsible for the killing of 1.5 million Armenians and many Kurds.

If you want to find a statement to call a political leader a weirdo, then they all are … I’m sure you will be able to find similar statements coming from almost every democratically elected leader as well … did you check the French, Italian, and previous American leaders to start with?

and .. do you know how Turkey became a democracy? .. what did Ataturk do to the fundamentalists in his country?

And finally … at the time Farouk Sharaa was saying those words at the Security Council, the American secretary of state and the other European diplomats were complaining that Syria was interfering in Lebanon … by last year they were complaining that Syria was NOT interfering in Lebanon (to pressure its allies, half the Lebanese people, to accept Michel Sleiman as President) … isn’t that weird?

: )

January 31st, 2009, 5:19 am


Alex said:

‘Palestine Today Is an Open-Air Prison’

Saturday, January 31, 2009; A15

Tensions between Israel and Turkey broke into the open at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Israel for its offensive in Gaza. Excerpts from Erdogan’s interview with Newsweek-The Post’s Lally Weymouth:

Q: You’ve been so critical of the recent Israeli operation into Gaza. Some say it’s because Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came to Turkey just before the operation started and didn’t tell you about it. Why have you pushed the Turkish-Israeli relationship to its limits?

A: [That’s] the wrong view.

What is the correct view?

At the request of Syria, we entered a phase of working together with Israel and Syria indirectly to get them to talk with each other. We are mediators in that process. This was an example of how much importance we put on peace in the Middle East. We had done this before with Pakistan and Israel. . . .

During the tenure of [former Pakistani president] Pervez Musharraf, we brought them together in Istanbul: the foreign minister of Israel and the foreign minister of Pakistan.

And what happened?

The meetings took place for two days in secret about two years ago. We also took part in the peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

Between Israel and Fatah or Israel and Hamas?

I’m referring to the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas. On December 23 we had a meeting with Prime Minister Olmert in Ankara. On that day we had the fifth round of the unofficial talks between Syria and Israel. That night . . . I was talking on the phone to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and I was talking to Olmert in person and also to the Syrian foreign minister.

Were you trying to move the process to direct talks between Israel and Syria?


And did Bashard Assad agree?

President Assad from the start had a very positive attitude toward these talks. On that night, we were very close to reaching an agreement between the two parties. It was agreed they were going to talk until the end of the week to come to a [positive] outcome.

So you felt you were close to coming to an agreement?

These talks on that night went on for five or six hours. . . . When I was talking with Prime Minister Olmert, I said regarding the Palestine-Israeli talks it would not be correct not to include Hamas in the negotiations. They entered the election in Palestine and won the majority of seats in the parliament. But Prime Minister Olmert said he could not do something like that. Moreover during that talk, I said . . . that I believed I could be successful in freeing the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In order to release the Israeli soldier, did you ask the Israelis to do something for Hamas?

I said to Prime Minister Olmert that if you want us to mediate in order to get the Israeli soldier freed, we can do this and we believe we can achieve something. But . . . once the soldier is free, Israel should [release from jail] Hamas’s speaker of parliament and its members of parliament.

Why do you have such a close relationship with Hamas, which is an arm of Iran and is run by Khaled Meshal, who lives in Damascus?

First of all, Hamas is not an arm of Iran. Hamas entered the elections as a political party. If the whole world had given them the chance of becoming a political player, maybe they would not be in a situation like this after the elections that they won. The world has not respected the political will of the Palestinian people. On the one hand, we defend democracy and we try our best to keep democracy in the Middle East, but on the other hand we do not respect the outcome of . . . the ballot box. Palestine today is an open-air prison. Hamas, as much as they tried, could not change the situation. Just imagine, you imprison the speaker of a country as well as some ministers of its government and members of its parliament. And then you expect them to sit obediently?

It sounds like you and Prime Minister Olmert were on the eve of an actual breakthrough between Israel and Syria.

I’m sharing my excitement with you.

The Israelis have been frustrated that they couldn’t talk directly to the Syrians.

We were trying to be their hope. Olmert’s last sentence [as he left] was, “As soon as I get back I will consult with my colleagues and get back to you.” As I waited for his response, . . . on December 27, bombs started falling on Gaza. There had not been any casualties in Israel since the cease-fire of June 2008. The Israelis claim that missiles were being sent [from Gaza]. I asked Prime Minister Olmert, how many people died as a result of those missiles? Since December 27 there have been almost 1,300 dead, 6,000 injured, no infrastructure left, no buildings left, everything is damaged, Gaza is a total wreck. It’s all closed, under total siege. The United Nations Security Council makes a decision, and Israel announces it does not recognize the decision. I’m not saying that Hamas is a good organization and makes no mistakes. They have made mistakes. But I am evaluating the end result.

Starting now, do you see a role for Turkey? There was a discussion about Turkish troops being part of a peacekeeping force in Gaza.

This is totally out of the question. Only maybe as observers. It would be a major mistake for us to send security forces. There are those who try to claim that my attitude toward Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza is because I’m anti-Semitic or against the Jewish people.

And many American Jews are very upset about it.

And I’m very upset at them. Beginning with the Jews who live in my country, they are witnesses to my attitude toward Jews. As an individual, I have always declared that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity. As a prime minister I have always been against anti-Semitism and my frustration is against the current Israeli government because they did not act fairly toward us.

But I’ve seen the anti-Semitic signs around Turkey recently. . . .

These are individual attempts.

But they’re very extreme. The Israeli Consulate has been picketed. It’s been ugly.

There have been democratic demonstrations. . . . There are demonstrations in the United States, even in Israel. Everything we have said is against the current Israeli government, nothing against Jews. In my speeches I have stated very clearly that anyone who even thinks about doing anything against the Jews in Turkey will find me against them. Of course, I’m not going to ask Olmert to write my speeches.

Is your relationship with Israel over?

We have a serious relationship. But the current Israeli government should check itself. They should not exploit this issue for the upcoming elections in Israel.

Do you expect President Barack Obama to play a more even-handed role between the Palestinians and the Israelis?

There is no justice right now. We expect justice from now on.

January 31st, 2009, 5:35 am


nafdik said:


As far as irony is concerned, AP has a slight point, but his point would be much more relevant if Erdogan was a Young Turk, the nephew of Enver Basha and the son, and successor, of Talaat Basha.

As far as weird leaders are concerned there is a large difference between those who hate broccoli and others who regularly order the murder and torture of their citizen in bulk.

I hope you are not going to bring up Bush 2.0 as an example of the latter because then I will have to waste loads of pixels to point out the painfully obvious.

January 31st, 2009, 5:49 am


Alex said:


– So should we jail President Bush’s daughters for their father’s war crimes?

– Erdogan (like most other turkish leaders before him) ordered a few raids on Kurds … why not call him a murderer too? besides, he respects Attaturk’s legacy … you did not answer my question about Attaturk’s way of building his nation … do you know how he did it?

Nafdik .. it is 1 AM in Montreal now. Let us not spend the night arguing … we strongly disagree on this part, we already know.

It’s ok.

January 31st, 2009, 6:07 am


nafdik said:

ok, but I will keep bugging you until you become a freedom lover 🙂

January 31st, 2009, 6:21 am


Alex said:

LOL : )

Ask Ehsani and Qifa Nabki about my allergy to freedom lovers … especially this week.

January 31st, 2009, 6:47 am


jad said:

I came to a valuable conclusion from SC: commentators like AP and Nafdik who lecture us about freedom whenever they have nothing to talk about are actually have nothing to add…they don’t have any single idea of how to fix and improve the situation, they hide behind a loose and unclear vision of freedom… Just ask anyone of them to explain how they interrupt freedom and what it means for them…..we’ll be amazed with the answers we get, if we get any…a link to Wikipedia definition of freedom is a must from AP..
We all capable of finding out problems and make them bigger, the challenge is to fix them but those guys have no clue of how to do it, a useless argument is what they are after, no more.

January 31st, 2009, 7:36 am


norman said:


You said (( We all capable of finding out problems and make them bigger, the challenge is to fix them ,))

I like that , let us see how we can fix things,

January 31st, 2009, 3:02 pm


nafdik said:


We have to cure you for sure.

I myself am allergic to serfdom.

January 31st, 2009, 4:51 pm


nafdik said:


I just read your nugget about how I hide behind an empty rhetoric of freedom.

I agree with you that I find myself repetitive.

But every time I see intelligent members of the Syrian Apologencia discussing the intricacies of international politics and debate the finer details of US politics, I have an uncontrollable urge to scream “WAKE UP”.

It is as if the animals at the slaughter house are debating the hairdos of the butchers.

The fundamental fact of Syria is the dictatorship. Any debate that does not start from that premise is a diversion.

Our dictatorship sits on 3-legged stool. The legs are: Hama, Mukhabart and the Apologencia. I will keep attacking these three foundation at every opportunity.

I respect some commentators who say that they support the dictatorship, and I am very interested in their opinion. But those who run around hanging to any distraction to make us forget our existence as serfs are either dishonest or delusional.

January 31st, 2009, 5:07 pm


EHSANI2 said:


I don’t think that the dictatorship label is something that is open to debate. I don’t recall many who call it otherwise.

But so?

Yes, Hama and the Mukhabarat are part and parcel of the country’s current and recent history.

Again so?

January 31st, 2009, 5:23 pm


nafdik said:


Since we all agree that we live under dictatorship, we have a number of major discussion points:

– Should we get rid of the dictatorship or collaborate with it to improve the country?

– Should we support the dictatorship to avoid invasion by: Israel, US, Islamic fundamentalists?

– Should we remove the dictatorship with violent means or peaceful demonstrations?

– Can the dictatorship reform itself?

– Can we have a good economy under a dictatorship?

– Why is the Arab world particularly prone to dictatorships?

I believe these are the interesting policy topics about Syria.

My ranting and raving is probably driven by the lack of intelligent conversation about these issues and the incessant focus on distractions that are part of how the Apologencia contributes to the dictatorship.

January 31st, 2009, 5:37 pm


trustquest said:

Jad, you said: “We all capable of finding out problems and make them bigger, the challenge is to fix them but those guys have no clue of how to do it, a useless argument is what they are after, no more.”

I wonder if you have in minds one guy who represent other than the Syrian regime who is arguing on this blog.

Sir, I really disagree with you premise, I don’t think you can find the problem if you do not have representation to the other side views. You wouldn’t be writing a single line on this forum if not for the other views and the opposite views. You render all arguments on this forum as useless because it does not match your views. Please do not insult other people views because you do not like it, and let us get the benefit of with and against.

And in defending AP, Syria when going to negotiate with Israel, is not going to find the human rights activists like Shai to sit down to talk to, they will meet a guy like AP, and may be you will be on the negotiation team and by then have enough experience in dealing with them.

January 31st, 2009, 5:45 pm


EHSANI2 said:


This is a better and a more specific way to discuss the issue.

I have a suggestion for you:

Since you took the time to pose the questions, why don’t you offer your own answers first? That will elicit a very interesting discussion for sure.

January 31st, 2009, 5:46 pm


nafdik said:

Thank you Ehsani for asking the question.

My answer is this:

Syrians must unite to get rid of the dictatorship now

I will give more thoughtful answers to the questions above later.

January 31st, 2009, 5:53 pm


offended said:


I think we’ve covered these questions gazillion times before. Whether we’ve reached a conclusion on each or not, this is irrelevant.

The word ‘support’ is a bit heavy though don’t you think? I mean, let’s say you support the regime, or the toppling of the regime, what have you got to support that with?

I believe this forum’s objective is to exchange ideas and comments about current events AND about the long term outlook for Syria.

And don’t forget there’s a broad spectrum of opinions here in this forum, so don’t expect everyone to agree with you.

I resent your using of the word ‘apologencia’. There has been very critical opinion of the regime here in the past. Not everybody is an apologist. I for one got nothing to apologize for. If someone has done something bad they can apologize for it themselves. We are not all propagandists. We don’t recite the mandate of the Ba’th party everyday and cheer the life of the president every morning at the ta7iet al 3alam.

Besides, ‘apologencia’ gives the impression that some of us are hired, bought and paid for, to ‘support’ the regime. Something I can assure you is quite not true. In fact, if anyone does really sound like recruited in this forum, it’s the zionists’ apologists who flood this forum with Memri videos and selective photo albums from Little Green Football and other similar forums.

Hmmmm, am I distracting you again?

January 31st, 2009, 6:00 pm


nafdik said:


I have no expectation that everybody will agree with me. Nor do I plan to pollute the discussion with irrelevant calls for revolution at every corner.

I apologize 😉 if the term apologencia offends you:

– I did not intend it to include all forum members nor anybody in particular

– I did not intend it as an insult, more as a condition that has inflicted a large portion of the Syrian Intelligencia

– It does not mean that those inflicted are guilty, dishonest or paid.

– I think that the apologencia have a legitimate but mistaken point of view. They believe that the best way to improve the situation is to collaborate with the regime to help it improve and to protect Syria from foreign intervention.

– I believe that this condition is a major hurdle for reform, since most revolutions have an intellectual components, by co-opting the Syrian intellectuals the regime has created another defence front against change

January 31st, 2009, 6:32 pm


jad said:

(Please do not insult other people views because you do not like it, and let us get the benefit of with and against.)!!!!!?

DUDE, I was referring to AP and his way of tackling the Arab/Israeli dilemma and my point was that he is not looking for any solution.
Next time, don’t lecture me! and be very sure that when I want to insult yours or anyone’s views on here, I’m capable of doing it and it will be very obvious and directed to whom I’m writing to.

January 31st, 2009, 6:34 pm


Alex said:

Dear Nafdik,

I understand that Jad’s comment might have been unfair to you, grouping you with AP for example. I think you sounded much more reasonable than many democracy advocates i debated on this blog … you are more pleasant, and you have a good sense of humor.

But it seems Jad pushed you to state what is really on your mind .. you seem to (tell me if I am wrong) have the opinion that “if you are not with us, you are against us”

“us” in this case, is those who love Syria and therefore must believe that “the dictator should be overthrown NOW”.

or “us” can be (also according to the way I read you) those are smart enough to not fall for the baathist slogans, versus the idiots who believed in those revolutionary hypocrisies.

“against us” are all the “regime apologencia” …

Please let me tell you one thing I am allergic to … democracy and freedom lovers who think it is surely greener on the other side.

And let me tell you about another thing that I am allergic to … fighters for “democracy now” in the middle east who do not listen, and if they listened, they do not understand, and if they understood, they will automatically refuse to accept any opinion that does not fit their existing opinion… then they will forget the whole thing and ask “why don’t we discuss democracy instead of discussing distractions?”

Again, you are not exactly the source of my allergies here … but you have a mild case of the Freedom fighters as your comment above indicated how you generalize the analysis of the motives, or intelligence level, of those you disagree with.

You suggested that “we must all unite” … and I will ask you back: “unite on what”? … throw away the dictator now?

Then what?

– Khaddam’s followers will unite with me, but they want to be in power after, and they will continue to be as corrupt as what we have now, and probably worse.

– the Brotherhood supporters will unite with us now, but they really (forget the PR talk they learned) want a Sunni Syria, everything else is “a distraction”, and they really want to punish those responsible for Hama … and many other people in “the regime”.

No thank you.

“unite” is a big word Nafdik … look at the West Bank and Gaza … people in Gaza did not even manage to count on their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank to “unite” with them by at least demonstrating in the streets in large numbers …

The current political system in Syria is not like Gaza under Israeli attacks … so, there will be no uniting.

Most Syrians are united against Israel’s behavior … against what the Bush administration was doing in Iraq … for helping refugees from Iraq or Lebanon when their countries are under attacks …

But on “democracy now” .. please be realistic. Most Syrians today do not want the “now” part.

But i will be happy to discuss democracy in about ten years from now.

January 31st, 2009, 6:40 pm


nafdik said:


There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ classification in what I am saying.

We are all ‘us’, but we disagree on what is best for us to do.

But I repeat that those of us who appease the regime, are helping it stay alive.

Again I think your logic is legitimate but wrong. In the same way that Chamberlain was wrong when he made peace with Hitler. Chamberlain was an honest, experience, peace loving and patriotic man, his motives and intelligence were not in doubt, his judgment was.

I agree with you that if we can do this thing peacefully in 10 years it is better than doing it otherwise now.

But what is going to change in 10 years?
What is the benefit of another 10 years of serfdom?

January 31st, 2009, 7:21 pm


jad said:

I think I mistaken you for an Israeli who comes here and brag about his democratic achievement without acknowledging what his democracy did and still doing to our region and our people.

My points are simple and short:

Democracy alone doesn’t do much and it doesn’t happen in one day, but with economic, education and social development it does miracles

Write facts about the problems you see in your own speciality field and give some ideas of how to fix them, don’t just point out the problems.

Personalizing, Blaming and Revenge is not a start nor an answer

The whole society is a partner in a dictatorship

Panning and education is the only way out of our misery

BTW, You can add this choice to your list;

Should we analyze our dictatorship and have a dialogue with it?
By analyzing I mean:
Is that dictatorship open to discussion? Is that dictatorship capable of delivering what we ask for by itself?

January 31st, 2009, 7:23 pm


offended said:

I wrote this note on my facebook wall, and I thought I’d share it with you. It’s good to remember Iraq every now and then:

“On Iraqi Elections:

The election committee has done good by deciding to not allow Mullahs and Imams to peddle candidates during Friday sermons or religious preachings. But the reality is different: the Turbans continue to enjoy public support (albeit a declining one) because:
1- No one could control what’s said in all the speeches of hundreds of Imams all over Iraq.
2-Word will get around whether publicly or through the grapevines about who’s the favorite candidate of a certain Mullah, and even if he doesn’t speak up himself, some will come to ask him for ‘guidance’.
3- Iraqi people are still very much polarized after the sectarian strife that has been going on for years now.
4-Poverty and unemployment are still rife in Iraq, and people under such conditions are known to make un-educated choices.

I have an Iraqi colleague at work who is a Sunni, I asked him about the previous elections and he smiled sarcastically, he said that his province where 300,000 sunnis live either didn’t vote or didn’t get their votes counted because ballots didn’t reach there on time. I asked him how did that make him feel, he said that like Christian Amanpoor who was crying on CNN while watching hundreds of Iraqis queue up at the elections centers, his eyes were also watery but not for the same reason: “it was because they’re robbing me of my vote under the blanket of democracy, at least at Saddam’s time we knew we had a dictator and we got on with our lives, but now we don’t know what to make of this new system the Americans have brought us”

My colleague fled the violence in Iraq in 2006 and came to Dubai, united arab emirates. More than 2 millions, mainly Sunnis, fled the sectarian violence too. My friend, like all other displaced Iraqis, will not get a chance to vote. I asked him whether he’s sad that he won’t be able to vote, he told me he doesn’t really care anymore. He went on a ‘vacation’ to see his parents few months ago, only to find out his brother was arrested under the charge of belonging to an armed group, a charge his parents had assured him wasn’t true. They couldn’t get any information about the brother through the interior ministry. “It’s like Saddam’s time” he told me. “People will get arrested and then they disappear”. Eventually, the brother was released but not until the entire family went through an agony searching and appealing for every figure they know of in the country. My friend himself was not sure he will be allowed to exit the airport in his way back to Dubai. “I was afraid they will arrest me too, since there are precedents in which they arrest all siblings of a suspect as a precautionary measure”.

My friend breathing has become noticeably easier when he checked out of the passport control at Baghdad airport, he told me he won’t go back unless he’s forced to. He grimaced at the one occasion I mentioned the elections for him. He said it was all a joke, one big, fat, ugly and deceiving joke which is not funny to say the least.

We don’t discuss the elections anymore.”

January 31st, 2009, 7:47 pm


nafdik said:

A whole more interesting facet of you is revealed Jad.

Again, I am not interested in blaming, personalization, takfir or revenge. I am interested in debating ideas.

“The whole society is a partner in a dictatorship”

This is one of the wisest comments I heard on this blog. I agree 100%. My modest goal is that as intellectuals we stop lazy thinking that makes us a partner.

“Democracy alone doesn’t do much and it doesn’t happen in one day, but with economic, education and social development it does miracles”

I think that democracy is such a good catalyst for development, justice and improvement of human condition, that I see it as the both the end and the beginning.

The end as it should be our primary objective now and the beginning because once we reach we will be still left with all the problems we have and even more since a lot of hidden problems will emerge.

“Planning and education is the only way out of our misery”

I am not so sure. Cuba has a very highly educated society and has a fair amount of planning going on. I think we get hold of our destiny first and then plan what to do with it.

“Is that dictatorship open to discussion? Is that dictatorship capable of delivering what we ask for by itself?”

I think the question is very fair, and it would be a great way to end the problem.

I believe that the answer is no, but I am open to other ideas.

The reasons I think this road is not open is:

1- There such a reservoir of hate against the regime that if the regime allows a minimum amount of dissent all hell will break loose

2- I can not think of any example in history where this was done. Except perhaps British monarchy that turned constitutional, but then again I am sure the story is very complex and the end was a lot of concessions to the monarch that Syria might not want to give to the Assads.

3- The regime is supported by a whole infrastructure financed by theft from the Syrian people this where the power base of the regime lies. Assuming Assad decides to transfer power to the people his actual power base will revolt.

Note that the last point has a glimmer of hope where if we find areas where the interests of Syrians and the Assad power base are not in conflict he has proven quite ready to provide freedoms.

We have seen this in the liberalization of the economy which is an amazingly positive step for all involved.

The same can not be applied to reform the judiciary, stopping torture, etc.

I suspect that Assad himself might be a good man (whatever that means). The realities of power however will force to act like any other dictator good or bad.

January 31st, 2009, 7:48 pm


trustquest said:

Jad, Dude, you were referring to Nafdik since your comments came after his mentioning of Baath, and I gave you the extreme example of opposite view of AP.

You said “I came to a valuable conclusion from SC: commentators like AP and Nafdik who lecture us about freedom whenever they have nothing to talk about are actually have nothing to add….”

I’m glad you change your mind about debating dissent views by engaging again and I hope there will be always place to views other than “Yes” for all Syrian policies. I noticed you waved the flag of insults, and I know you are capable of doing that. But I hope you will give chance to “others views” so we can treasure marinate our brains in diverse ideas to build better thoughts.

January 31st, 2009, 8:22 pm


Shami said:

Jad ,these datas are vastly exagerated and not accurate at all.

January 31st, 2009, 8:29 pm


jad said:

Those numbers are not mine. It was an interesting numbers to share.
Do you have the right ones to dismiss the exagerations.

Trustquest, Dude, you have a problem in understanding my points.
I didn’t change my mind and I didn’t wave to insult anybody. Even if the ba’ath party is paying me to write on this site, is that any of your buisness?
So, and before you address me on any issue or comment I write. Read it well, understand it, then intervene and give me your lecture, otherwise I’m not interested the least of arguing with you.

January 31st, 2009, 11:24 pm


norman said:

There are many shapes of governments , Dictatorship and Democracy are examples .

All shapes of government are to improve the lives of the citizens ,, so dictators like the rulers of Dubai or Qatar are probably much better than the rulers of today’s Israel who are leading their people to self destruction.

And that is my take.

February 1st, 2009, 12:05 am


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