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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Syrian official newspaper takes credit for Iraq bombings

Rather interesting that Syria more or less admits responsibility for bombings in Iraq.

MEMRI September 4, 2009
No. 2519

Following August 19 Baghdad Bombings, Syrian Daily Teshreen Warns Obama: The Syria-Iran Alliance, Which Is Cultivating the Resistance, Has Won a Great Victory– And Will Not Wait Until Hesitant Obama Reaches a Decision

In an August 22, 2009 article in the Syrian government daily Teshreen, Nasser Qandil, a former Lebanese MP who is close to Syria, wrote that some in Washington were acting to worsen the security situation in Iraq. Their aim, he said, is to extend the U.S. military presence in the country, which will harm U.S. President Barack Obama in his next election campaign; to promote the Biden Plan to partition Iraq into three regions; and to sabotage the relations among Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.

Qandil warned that although Syria and Iran had shown openness to the possibility of dialogue with the U.S., this was in now at risk due to the hesitancy that characterizes the Obama administration.

Following are excerpts from his article:

The Violence in Iraq Is Meant to Prevent U.S. Withdrawal, Harm President Obama

"The escalation of violence and bloodshed in Iraq in recent days came as the Americans were beginning to prepare for their 2011 troop withdrawal, and as the commanders of the U.S. forces tried to draw up understandings with the countries neighboring [Iraq], particularly Syria, to increase coordination at the border...

"Anyone who is following conditions in Iraq knows that the bloody operations against Iraqi civilians are designed to [reinforce] the call for U.S. forces to remain [in Iraq], and perhaps even redeploy in the cities that they have already left. The excuse given is that if the forces withdraw according to the timetable, the security situation could explode...

"These attacks took place just as many articles and studies were being published by the American and Israeli press, and by several institutes researching the Middle East, about the need to extend the U.S. forces' presence for another four years - or at least until after the next U.S. presidential election in 2012 - so that Obama will not be able to use the withdrawal as a card in his election campaign, and will not be able to claim that he kept his promises from his [first] campaign.

"Other studies link the demand to keep [U.S.] forces [in Iraq] to what they call 'the requirements for negotiating with Iran and guaranteeing Israel's security' prior to the U.S. military pullout. Still other studies hint at the possibility of a war on Iran or of an Israeli war on Lebanon - which, according to this approach, requires U.S. willingness to give Israel this opportunity prior to the [U.S.] troop withdrawal [from Iraq]...

"American research institutes are saying that the safest option for Iraq is a return to the three regions theory, presented by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden when he headed the [U.S. Senate] Committee on Foreign Relations. According to this model, encouragement of this track will help provide the safety net required for a troop withdrawal, [by keeping] Iraq stable."

"This Reveals Two Opposing Lines Among the Influential Circles in Washington"

"It was against the backdrop of this American political and media atmosphere that the recent attacks in Iraq took place. This reveals two opposing lines among the influential circles in Washington. While the president's team is acting slowly and hesitatingly on the negotiations track, and opening a window to cooperation with the countries neighboring Iraq - as he started to do with Syria and is about to start with Iran - there are those who are acting to worsen the Iraq security situation, so as to reopen the door to an extension of the [U.S.] troop presence in Iraq, and also to encourage the option of partitioning the country."

The August 19 Attacks Were Aimed at Sabotaging Assad's Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian Cooperation Plan

"...It seems that the [August 19] attacks were aimed at [sabotaging] Syria-U.S. contacts by fomenting suspicion between the allies Syria and Iran; at stopping the progress that had been made in Syria-Iraq relations on the security and economic level when the Iraqi prime minister visited Damascus; and at complicating the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian cooperation plan, proposed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad as a future strategic plan, to which he is devoting much attention, time, and effort...

"Those engaged in escalating regional conflicts - those who lose by, and are harmed by, the American openness to the new reality - are racking up achievements against the Obama administration - because it is hesitant, slow, and irresolute in translating this openness into making the required bold decisions, and because it continues to give the Israeli leadership the right of veto in security and political resolutions regarding the region.

"Further hesitation by the Obama administration would mean another blow to the hopes for change that were pinned on it following the U.S. presidential election... Indeed, there could be Israeli war adventurism, or increased bloodletting in Iraq. But the biggest loser of an escalation in the destruction and blood[shed] would first and foremost be President Obama - they [i.e. those who act against him] want him to end his first term exhausted, without the confidence of the voters or of any of those with whom he promised to turn over a new leaf."

"The Syrian-Iranian Alliance... Will Not Wait Until Those Who Hesitate Reach a Decision"

"The region can tolerate no more experiments with the blood of its sons. Thus, the Syrian-Iranian message was clear and resolute, when President Assad visited Iran - that many, from near and far, must read well the meaning of what is happening in the region. The meaning is that the Syrian-Iranian alliance, which is cultivating the resistance movements, has won an historic, significant victory. Despite its openness to the dialogue option, this alliance will not wait until those who hesitate reach a decision."

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Saudi op-ed protests against anti-Mickey Mouse crusade

This is not really about a mouse. It is about freedom:
This kind of hasty judgment reminds us that what we really miss in Saudi Arabia is the ability to discuss matters, and to have the right to disagree if we think differently on issues being discussed.
Amen brother!
Ami Isseroff
Death to Mickey Mouse!
Abeer Mishkhas |

A sheikh was recently on Al-Majd TV and spoke in great detail about rats. He went on and on about how bad rats and mice are, listing all the benefits gained by eliminating them. I don't know how informative that section of the sheikh's talk was but I am sure most people who were watching the program were either not listening or shaking their heads in disbelief. But the talk did not end with any obvious statements of harm caused by rats and mice; the sheikh continued by denouncing the fact that children these days are not getting the message about mice and rats because they have been influenced by Western cartoons that represent mice as funny and clever. Think Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse. To conclude and drive his point home he said, "They like Mickey Mouse whereas in reality Mickey Mouse should be killed." Thus ended the talk, and although it was as absurd as can be, it seems that such talks have become a normal thing on TV these days. As satellite channels proliferate, they pack their broadcasts with as much as they can of what they feel will attract viewers and religious programs are sure winners, especially in Ramadan.

The problem lies not only with the channels. Many of the programs often depend on people's calls and questions. Those questions can vary from asking for advice about a religious duty to asking the sheikh's opinion on any subject under the sun - hence the mouse question. On a panel of women scholars on an Egyptian channel last week, one of the interesting things the three women agreed upon was that some people ask for scholars' opinions on almost anything, whether it is a worthy matter or just a mundane everyday triviality. I have to say that those women's opinions were refreshing. They wanted people to stick to major, sensible and important issues. Which brings us back to the death sentence against Mickey Mouse.

This was not the first - and will not be the last - of verdicts that will make us question the person who issues it, or the stream of religious verdicts that almost everyone comes up with everyday and which have to be countered with questions, debates and discussions. We cannot just sit and listen and accept anything. When people hear these opinions, they rightly ask and question and criticize if need be. That is what reason dictates and it in no way contradicts faith. But this is not what a prominent Saudi scholar said last week. He actually demanded that journalists and writers who criticize or object to prominent Saudi scholars' pronouncements and fatwas be punished, and eventually sacked from their jobs. The punishment he asks for ranges from lashes to long imprisonment to firing them from their jobs.

I certainly understand that if a writer has insulted or lied about a sheikh or any other person, he must face the legal consequences of his actions. The offended party has the right to sue the offender and this is how it should be. But what the sheikh has asked for is simple punishment for even criticizing and questioning the opinions of religious scholars. With all due respect to the sheikh, I beg to differ. Criticism and debate does not mean that writers are crossing any lines; writers and journalists are citizens and are affected - like everyone else - by religious discourse, and if they choose to discuss a religious issue, or differ with a scholar that does not warrant that they be lashed, imprisoned or lose their jobs.

This kind of hasty judgment reminds us that what we really miss in Saudi Arabia is the ability to discuss matters, and to have the right to disagree if we think differently on issues being discussed. And as a reminder we mention a small incident from Islamic history. When the second caliph, Omar, said in one of his sermons that women should not ask for high dowries, a woman who was present raised her voice and disagreed with him and provided proof from the Qur'an in support of women's rights for dowries. What did Omar do? He acknowledged his mistake in front of everyone. Just a reminder!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rice: "Hamas is the main impediment to peace"

Good Ole Jimmy Carter is going to visit with Hamas, to learn more about the evil Zionists for his next book. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice notes:
"I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," Rice said at a press event with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The same question, "What is to be gained by having discussions with Hamas?" should be directed at those Israelis who favor talking to Hamas.
Ami Isseroff

Last update - 13:09 12/04/2008
Rice criticizes Carter over planned meeting with Meshal
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized former President Jimmy Carter on Friday for his reported plans to meet Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal during a visit to Syria.
Carter has not confirmed the plans to meet Meshal but the Palestinian militant group has said the former Democratic president sent an envoy to Damascus, where the Hamas leader resides, requesting a meeting with the militant group's officials.
"I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," Rice said at a press event with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Rice was responding to a question about Carter's plans but did not mention him by name.
"Hamas is a terrorist organization," she said, repeating the Bush administration's explanation for why it will not meet with members of the group.
The State Department says it twice advised Carter against meeting any representative of Hamas. A Carter-Mashal meeting would be the first public contact in two years between a prominent American figure and Hamas officials.
A press release from the Carter Center said the former president was to lead a study mission to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as part of his ongoing effort to support peace, democracy and human rights in the region.
Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his decades of work in mediating conflicts and his humanitarian travels for the Carter Center since he was in office. One of his mediations was the 1978 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel, for which Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin were awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize.
Earlier Friday, Rice said the U.S. will consider fresh incentives and sanctions to persuade Iran to rein in its nuclear program but major changes in either are unlikely now.
"We will always continue to consider refreshing both tracks but this is not the time, I think, to expect major changes,"
Rice told reporters. "We have just passed a (UN) Security Council resolution (imposing additional sanctions) and we will see how Iran responds."
Report: Secret Iranian missile site revealed in new spy photos
A series of recently released spy photos have uncovered the secret location where Iran has allegedly been developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Europe, The Times reported on Friday.
The satellite pictures pinpoint the facility where Iran launched its Kavoshgar 1 "research" rocket in February, according to the report. Iran has claimed that rocket was tested as part of its space program.
Analysis of the Digital Globe QuickBird satellite taken just days after the launch show details indicating that the site of the research rocket is the same location where Iran is preparing a ballistic missile with a range of 6,000 kilometers, the report said.
The site is located about 230 kilometers southeast of Tehran. The connection between the research rocket and Iran's long-range program was exposed by Jane's Intelligence Review following an analysis of the photos by a former Iraqi weapons inspector, said The Times.
Analysis of the photos suggest that Iran is pursuing a space program similar to that being developed in North Korea, with a focus on long-range missile technology, according to the report.
An analyst at the Institute of Technology, Geoffrey Forden, said that a structure on the Iranian site - roughly 40 meters in length - closely resembled a Taepodong long-range missile assembly facility in North Korea, The Times reported.
The editor of Janes's Proliferation has said that based on examination of the Iranian site, Tehran may be just five years away from developing the long-range missile, according to the report.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Are there Israeli secret talks with Syria?

Are Israel and Syria talking?

Israel hinted at secret talks with Syria.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday that he wants to resume peace talks with Syria that stalled in 2000, though Jerusalem has balked at preconditions by Damascus such as the complete return of the Golan Heights.

"I hope that the Syrians are prepared to make peace with Israel, and I hope that the circumstances will allow us to sit together," Olmert told foreign reporters on Wednesday. "That doesn't mean that when we sit together you have to see us."

The suggestion that secret contacts already are under way followed media reports that Turkey has been trying to bring together senior Israeli and Syrian officials for discreet and preliminary exchanges of ideas.

Olmert's comments were echoed Thursday by Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who told Army Radio: "I know that the Israeli government, and he who is empowered by it, are doing everything possible to create a dialogue with Syria."

Expanding on the unidentified emissary, Ben-Eliezer said that "anyone who meets him, and there are such people, is told in spoken Hebrew that the State of Israel is prepared to sit down tomorrow and talk."


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Anti-terorist investigator assasinated in Lebanon - what it means

Free World: Rescue Lebanon before it is too late
By: Elias Bejjani

A Lebanese top anti-terrorism investigator was murdered along with his escort and three other civilians in a powerful car bombing that ripped through a neighborhood of Beirut on Friday January 25/08. Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb, of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), were killed along with three civilians, and forty two other people were wounded. Eid was a key member of the ISF and was involved in many investigations related to terrorist bombings in Lebanon in recent years. He was involved in sensitive probes and this is a major loss for Lebanon. Eid was on his way back from a meeting of the UN commission investigating the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri when he was killed. Those who decided to murder Eid obviously feared that he had information linking them to one, if not all nine, other assassinations of members of the anti-Syrian movement. Eid had already provided the international enquiry into Hariri's murder with valuable information and this was not the first attempt on his life; two years ago a grenade was thrown at his house.

From The Lebanese Canadian Coordination Council (LCCC), we extend our warmest heartfelt condolences to the victims' families and friends who lost their
beloved ones in Lebanon on Friday, January 25/08, in the "Chevrolet heinous crime" that led to the death of Maj. Wissam Eid and Aspirant Officer Ousama Mireeb and three innocent civilians pedestrians: Joe Sarkis, Elie Fares and Alan Sandouk.

We ask Almighty God to grant all those bereaved families the needed faith, patience and solace.
We pray that the souls of all the new innocent victims rest in peace in heaven alongside with the saints and the righteous.

The identity of the perpetrators who executed this new crime against the Lebanese people, (the "Axis of Evil") is well known, as well as their destructive goals. Syrian and Iranian officials alongside with their Lebanese mercenaries, fundamentalists, militias, and Mafiosi rudely announce their venomous intentions and threats on a daily basis. Meanwhile the role of the local Lebanese tools spearheaded by "Hezbollah" in targeting Lebanese pro freedom leaders and supporters of the "Cedars Revolution", ministers, members of Parliament, clergymen, journalists and intellectuals, is exposed and extremely prominent.

Eid was targeted by the "Axis of Evil", because he played major roles in analyzing mobile telephone and e-mail contacts related to the assassinations of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, the twin bus bombings of Ein Alaq in 2007, and the assassination of Gen. Francois Hajj, the army's chief of military operations, on Jan. 12, 2007. His work, according to ranking security officials, also managed to detect "established links" between Fatah al-Islam terrorists and Syria's intelligence apparatus. Such evidences compiled by the late Eid could help implicate Syria in the serial killings that have targeted Lebanon since Oct. 1, 2004, when Minister of Communications Marwan Hamadeh suffered serious wounds in a car bomb assassination attempt.

Many Lebanese citizens and dignitaries believe that Hezbollah is playing a major role in executing most of the assassination crimes. The Sunni Muslim Mufti of
Mount Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Jouzou, on Saturday January 26/08, blamed the Hezbollah-led opposition for "every drop of blood that has been shed." in Lebanon. Jouzou said in a statement: "The opposition is considered responsible for every drop of blood shed on the land of Lebanon. The opposition is responsible for the victims of serial assassinations. The opposition is responsible for bombing crimes here and there." Since March 8 (2005) and the declaration of loyalty to the Syrian regime, the opposition indirectly said it approves the assassination of martyr ex-premier Rafik Hariri," Jouzou added. He noted that "March 14 leaders have been targeted, one after the other, and the threats were made from here and there by spokesmen for Hezbollah and the opposition, only to be followed by implementation, implementation of the death sentence by blowing off March 14 men. "Jouzou said attacks targeting the Army and Internal Security Forces are "sort of terror that accompanies efforts to foil all international, Arab and Lebanese initiatives and the opposition is considered responsible for them." Should we charge the opposition with high treason?" he asked. Addressing the opposition, Jouzou said: "You are conspiring against the homeland under the slogan of partnership, consensus and dialogue. You don't want partnership, you do not want consensus, you do not want dialogue." He added: "You want to kill Lebanon and you want to destroy Lebanon … for the sake of the Syrian Regime." (Naharnet/January 25/08)

The irony in Lebanon lies in the sad fact and in the bizarre status quo: Hezbollah has its mini-state and cantons inside the state of Lebanon, with its own army
which has thirty thousand missiles, its finances, jails, institutions, etc. Syria is still in control of three military bases under the Palestinian disguise, one near the capital Beirut and two others in the Bekaa Valley, adjacent to its border with Lebanon. In addition, there are 13 Palestinian refugee camps scattered all over Lebanon. These are 13 cantons and mini-states over which the Lebanese authorities have no control.

Below are two verbatim quotes from the testimony of ex Prime Minister General Michel Aoun before the US House Subcommittee on International Relations/September 18/2003. They describe exactly the ongoing Syrian destructive, criminal and terrorist role in Lebanon.

1-"Following a Syrian withdrawal (from Lebanon), it is quite conceivable that the Syrian regime will leave behind many of its instruments of terror and destruction as well as its paramilitary/intelligence apparatus. Therefore, it is imperative that a Syrian withdrawal be accompanied by a complete disarmament of all armed elements. Only the legitimate armed forces of Lebanon can be entrusted with providing security to the Lebanese people. They are certainly capable of doing so when provided with a strong political leadership duly elected by the Lebanese themselves, rather than appointed by an occupying power as is the case today. Equally important, Lebanon will need certified tribunals to investigate and bring to justice all criminals who committed war atrocities and crimes against humanity."

2-Under Syrian occupation the human rights of the Lebanese people have been systematically violated. An exhaustive description of the crimes committed by the
Syrian Regime and its goons in Lebanon would take thousands of pages and dozens of hearings. Two Lebanese presidents - both of whom can be accurately
described as unwilling to take their orders from the Syrian intimidators - were assassinated immediately upon their elections. Ambassadors, elite journalists, and political and religious figures from all denominations who dared to oppose Syria were kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned, and/or assassinated. And this is in addition to the tens of thousands of Lebanese who perished in countless massacres, in months upon months of random Syrian artillery shelling of civilian areas, and in countless booby-trapped and bombed cars.

N.B: It so sad to learn that Aoun, who is now an MP and after his return to Lebanon from exile in 2005, has negated all his patriotic and pro Lebanese stances, and joined the Syrian-Iranian, Hezbollah axis of Evil.

Who stands behind all the crimes that Lebanon has been encountering for the last three years? With no shred of doubt, and without any kind of hesitation, one can freely say: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and their Lebanese-Palestinian local armed tools-instruments are fully accountable for each and every assassination crime that took place in Lebanon since 2005.

We strongly believe that the Lebanese Government, Lebanon's security bodies, judicial authorities and all its other institutions are currently unable to either deter or abort the Axis of Evil's serial organized and systematic killings of Lebanese patriotic leaders, nor to put an end to its destructive scheme targeting the country's
institutions, freedoms, democracy, stability and peace.

The government's failure lies in the fact that Hezbollah and the other Lebanese-Palestinian armed mercenaries of Iran and Syria are hindering all local, regional and international peaceful initiatives, endeavors and civilized plans.

In the face of this organized and intentional evil deadlock that Lebanon and its people are facing alone, we call on the Free World democratic countries, the moderate Arab countries, the United Nations and the Arab League to step in militarily under a UN Security Council Chapter Seven mandate and take over Lebanon for a rehabilitation interval as was the situation in Afghanistan, East Timor, Kosovo and some African countries. It will be even more effective and deterrent if NATO forces can assume this mission and not the UN.

Meanwhile an international probe and court needs to be set as soon as possible to put on trial all countries, especially Syria and Iran, as well as Lebanese individuals and groups that are hindering through crime and murder the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people from reclaiming their peace, independence, security and sovereignty.

The whole world ought to be cautioned that letting Lebanon be an easy prey for the "Axis of Evil" and its armed tools to devour, simply means an astounding
defeat for all principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, peace and stability, not only in the Middle East, but all over the globe. We call on the
Free World to step in and rescue Lebanon and the Lebanese before it is too late.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Syria rebuilding site that Israel bombed

Syria Rebuilds on Site Destroyed by Israeli Bombs

Published: January 12, 2008

The puzzling site in Syria that Israeli jets bombed in September grew more curious on Friday with the release of a satellite photograph showing new construction there that resembles the site's former main building.


New construction at a disputed Syrian site that Israeli and American analysts judged to be a partially built nuclear reactor.

Israel's air attack was directed against what Israeli and American intelligence analysts had judged to be a partly constructed nuclear reactor. The Syrians vigorously denied the atomic claim.

Before the attack, satellite imagery showed a tall, square building there measuring about 150 feet long per side.

After the attack, the Syrians wiped the area clean, with some analysis calling the speed of the cleanup a tacit admission of guilt. The barren site is on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, 90 miles north of the Iraqi border.

The image released Friday came from a private company, DigitalGlobe, in Longmont, Colo. It shows a tall, square building under construction that appears to closely resemble the original structure, with the exception that the roof is vaulted instead of flat. The photo was taken from space on Wednesday.

Given the international uproar that unfolded after the bombing, "we can assume it's not a reactor," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that has analyzed the Syrian site.

If international inspectors eventually get to the site, he added, they will have a more difficult time looking for nuclear evidence. "The new building," he noted, "covers whatever remained of the destroyed one."

Skeptics have criticized the nuclear accusation, saying the public evidence that has so far come to light was ambiguous at best. They noted, for instance, that at the time of the attack the site had no obvious barbed wire or air defenses that would normally ring a sensitive military facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna recently became aware of the new construction, a European diplomat said Friday.

"Obviously, they're keeping an eye on the site," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the issue's diplomatic delicacy.

As a signer to an agreement with the atomic agency, Syria is obligated to report the construction of a nuclear reactor to international inspectors. Nuclear reactors can make plutonium for the core of atom bombs, and therefore secretive work on reactors is usually interpreted as military in nature.

Senior Syrian officials continue to deny that a nuclear reactor was under construction, insisting that what Israel destroyed was a largely empty military warehouse.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who directs the atomic agency, this week told Al-Hayat, an Arabic-language newspaper based in London, that his agency wanted to inspect the site.

"So far, we have not received any information about any nuclear programs in Syria," he said, according to a transcript posted on the newspaper's Web site. Dr. ElBaradei said he had asked for the Syrians' permission "to allow the agency to visit the facility and to verify that it was not nuclear."

He added: "The Syrian brothers did not allow us to visit and inspect the location."

While some analysts have suggested that the new building might slow down international inspectors, Dr. ElBaradei said in the interview that his agency had sensitive "technologies to assure that the location did not host a nuclear facility."

The satellite photographs, he added, led experts to doubt "that the targeted construction" was in fact a nuclear reactor.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

BESA: The Middle East Axis of Destabilization

BESA: The Mideast Axis of Destabilization

Ely Karmon

Perspectives Paper No. 36, December 26, 2007

"[T]he only vital and effective axis in the region is that between Tehran and Damascus. They are the two capitals which enjoy a degree of strength and a measure of independence that allows them to remain unaffected by direct political pressure." Hizballah Voice of the Oppressed (radio station), 27 April 1991.

The "Axis of Destabilization" in the Middle East

The Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas alliance has acted during the last 15 years as an "axis of destabilization" in the Middle East, achieving major strategic victories at the expense of moderate Arab states, and US, European, and Israeli interests.

The Damascus regime, weakened by the withdrawal of its army from Lebanon and international pressure after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, still maintains a firm grip on the Sunni majority population at home, plays a strong hand in Lebanon, and supports radical Palestinian groups.

With Syrian support, Hizballah (Tehran's closest ally) has become a state-within-a-state potentially able to become Lebanon's arbiter if not actual ruler. Syria is actively involved in the destabilization of the Palestinian arena and has a growing role in supporting the Shi'a anti-American forces in Iraq. Iran also flexes its muscle in the Iraq arena, as most of Iraq's territory and major oil resources are controlled by Shi'a movements with historic and ideological links to the Tehran regime.

The "Axis" significantly influences Israel's relations with its neighbors. The inconclusive results of the Second Lebanon War of July-August 2006 and the continuous bombing of Israeli cities and villages from Gaza have diminished Israel's deterrence versus Hizballah, Hamas, Iran and Syria. Similarly, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, despite the Annapolis gathering, is essentially paralyzed. Hamas is in control of the Gaza Strip, threatens the Fatah-controlled West Bank, and is able to derail any negotiation in the peace process by terrorist attacks.

An Unnatural Alliance: What Makes it Work?

The alliance should hardly function due to Sunni-Shi'a historical rivalries:

1. Iran's Shi'a theocratic regime allied with Syria's Baathist secular "socialist" regime, a country where some 80 percent of the population is Sunni.
2. Syria's Baathist secular regime cooperated with a Shi'a radical Islamist movement, Hizballah, while the natural ally of Syria in Lebanon is the Shi'a Amal secular organization.
3. The Palestinian Hamas, a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is allied with Iran's Shi'a theocratic regime.
4. The Palestinian Hamas is allied with Syria's Baathist secular regime, which killed some 20,000 Syrian MB members in 1982.
5. The Sunni Palestinian Hamas cooperated with the Shi'a Hizballah (in the Palestinian Authority and in Lebanon, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live) while in Iraq the Sunni and Shi'a radicals fight each other ferociously.

This alliance works because of the strong religious ideologies that shape the strategy of three of the actors: Iran, Hizballah and Hamas. The Tehran regime, based on the revolutionary doctrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, has implemented its creed through an aggressive strategy after silencing all internal dissent. The apocalyptical overtone of Mahdism in its leadership circles makes this ideology even more dangerous. Hizballah, as proven by its covenant and the open declarations and deeds of its leaders, closely follows the religious ideology and the strategy of export of the Khomeini revolution. Hamas, as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Sunni Islamist movement, sees jihad as a general duty of all Muslims and is the only MB group involved in systematic warfare against Israel and "world Zionism." Different from the other three, Syria is still driven by Pan-Arabism and the concept of Greater Syria.

The alliance has a strong determined leader: Iran. The country serves as the conductor of the "quartet." Iran, a major regional power, has a leadership with a regional hegemonic vision, a huge oil resource, a large army, and an advanced military industry. Most importantly, Iran is to acquire a nuclear arsenal.

The alliance has succeeded in obtaining most of its objectives because its members have no moral constraints in using terrorism and subversion against their adversaries, challenging the same major enemies: the United States as a global and regional power but also as epitome of Western liberal values; Europe as a democratic bloc; Israel; and Iraq until Saddam Hussein's removal from power. At the same time they have displayed tactical pragmatism and skills of manipulating leaders of great powers and heads of international organizations.

The US, Europe and Israel Didn't Challenge the Alliance

However, the victories of this alliance are not only the result of the robust and durable cooperation between its four members, but also in great measure the consequence of the US, European and Israeli leaderships' lack of strategic vision and political courage.

The United States and France (the major European country challenged by the axis) did not inflict any serious damage on Iran and its operational arm Hizballah, for the long series of terrorist attacks against their citizens, soldiers and interests. Nor has Syria paid a real price for the direct and indirect support to Iranian and Hizballah anti-Western terrorism. Not only has Iran not suffered any consequences for 20 years of lying about its nuclear program, but the West is still willing to offer ever-greater incentives, strengthening Iran's leaders' sense of self-confidence that they can achieve nuclear military capability.

The West has forced Bashar al-Asad to withdraw the Syrian army from Lebanon, but it has stopped short of endangering his regime at home or curtailing his influence in Lebanon. The continuous political killings there are designed to intimidate those working courageously to end Syria's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.

Since 1982, Israel has permitted Syria to support Hizballah attacks and Palestinian proxy against its territory. Israeli leaders did not have the courage to challenge Damascus. Even during the July-August 2006 War, when Hamas leader Khaled Mashal was running the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier from Damascus and Syria continued to provide heavy military hardware and ammunition to Hizballah, the Israeli government sent the message that it had no intention to bother Syria.

By giving Hizballah the credit for the Israeli disgraceful withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, by permitting its consolidation as a state-within-a-state and the building of a small modern guerrilla-army, the various Israeli governments have preferred tactical political gains at home to real strategic long-term interests. In the 2006 war in Lebanon, Israel paid a high price not only in human lives and material damage, but also in its regional standing and its deterrent power versus its enemies.

The Israeli leadership also failed to recognize the real long-term goals of Yasser Arafat when signing the Oslo agreements and did not challenge his double game, which led to the violent Second Intifada.

Moreover, the United States and the West permitted Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, to take over the government in the Palestinian Authority through democratic elections.

The Threat of a Nuclear Iran

The dangerous destabilizing effect of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas alliance on the Middle East and beyond and the leadership role of the Tehran regime in this coalition place the prevention of the Iranian nuclear military program as first priority for the international community.

The US, the international community and Israel face a daunting challenge: how to prevent a nuclear Iran. After 20 years of futile diplomatic dialogue and a year of mild international sanctions, three options remain: severe economic sanctions, military operation against the Iranian nuclear facilities, or laissez faire tactics that allow the Iranians to achieve their goal and devise a deterrent strategy for the future.

As a global power, the Bush Administration needs to find a grand strategic compromise with Russia to display a common front against Iran and thus considerably enhance the success of the sanctions. Russia could have a crucial role in convincing the ayatollahs of the seriousness of their situation. Russia has redefined the limits of its nuclear cooperation with Iran: it has halted Russian work on the construction of the Bushehr nuclear reactor and is procrastinating in transferring the nuclear fuel required for its activation. However, in light of the growing tension between the US and Russia on important strategic issues, such as the building of the missile defense system in Poland and the radar station in the Czech Republic or the expansion of NATO into the old Eastern Bloc on Russia's western border, President Putin is less willing to cooperate on the Iranian file.

There is the possibility to isolate Tehran by breaking the alliance with Syria, which is key in isolating and disarming Hizballah and reducing the influence of radical Palestinians on the peace process with Israel. Israel cannot defeat Hizballah if it does not occupy most of Lebanon, which it is reluctant to do. Therefore, the best way to change the equation in Lebanon is to challenge Syria. The carrots the European leaders proposed President Bashar al-Asad have not convinced him to join the moderate Arab camp. These incentives should perhaps be improved, but the stick should be waved higher. Currently, there is no reasonable hope that negotiations or economic sanctions can turn Tehran's rulers away from the dream of great-power status and Islamic revolution.

Iran and the Alliances' Retaliation Capabilities

In the case of a US or Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, Iran and the alliance can retaliate in force. Iran could stage an immediate missile counterattack on Israel and on US bases in the Persian Gulf with its 500 Shihab ballistic missiles, with ranges varying from 300 to 2,000 kilometers and capable of carrying warheads of up to 1,000 kg.

Iran can also retaliate against energy targets in the Gulf and the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. Ayatollah Khamenei warned the US that "if the Americans make a wrong move toward Iran, the shipment of energy will definitely be in danger, and the Americans will not be able to protect energy supplies in the region." Consequently, oil prices would increase dramatically.

One of the strongest cards against the United States is Iran's capacity for wreaking havoc in Iraq and provoking a confrontation between US troops and the Shi'a majority. Tehran has already activated this option; currently it is on a low burner. The regime is also preparing an army of suicide bombers to be sent to Iraq, on the model of the Basij suicide soldiers used in the Iraq-Iran war.

Hizballah will be the main tool to attack Israeli territory with rockets and guerrilla commandos. Iran and Syria have rearmed the organization and Nasrallah boasted that Hizballah has 20,000 rockets. Iran can target Israeli and Jewish targets abroad, as it did in 1992 and 1994 in Buenos Aires. As for the Palestinians, Khaled Mashal declared that "if Israel attacks Iran, then Hamas will widen and increase its confrontation of Israelis inside Palestine."

A US or Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites could enhance the appeal of extremism in the Muslim world, at the expense of the moderates. It would be perceived by Muslims worldwide as another assault on Islam, as was the case in Iraq and in Lebanon. The promised retaliation by Iran must be taken very seriously.

A Nuclear Iran?

There is also no doubt that a nuclear Iran would provoke nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, as already hinted at by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

A recent collective study by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy investigating the challenges posed by deterring a nuclear Iran in the case diplomacy might not succeed suggests that deterring Iran might prove much more difficult than deterring Russia during the Cold War, because of the nature of the regime in Tehran, the regional security environment, and the challenges of coalition formation. Moreover, Iran's nuclear weapons could be controlled by some of the most radical elements in the regime and some of these weapons might find their way into the hands of terrorists.

A nuclear Iran will strengthen the radicalization/Islamization process. In Iraq, at least in Shi'a-controlled areas, the potential for radicalization/Islamization could quickly materialize and result in a more bloody sectarian war involving neighboring Sunni countries. This could be a major step in the formation of the dreaded Shi'a Crescent. In Lebanon, Hizballah would have an influence on accelerating a more radical population. The process of radicalization/Islamization in Palestine, which begun by the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, would also be accelerated, with immediate influence on the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups in Egypt and Jordan and even the Islamist movement in Israel.

A nuclear Iran, with Hizballah and Iraqi Shi'a radicals' support, could open a new front in the Gulf countries by inciting the Shi'as who live in the oil rich provinces in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Yemen, to revolt against their governments.

Similarly, a nuclear Tehran would be tempted to spread its revolutionary message towards the Muslim republics in Central Asia and in Turkey.

There is No Happy End in Sight!

President Bush said that the international community must keep pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. To this end, the US is working with allies to send a consistent message to the Iranians. Bush has not ruled out the possible use of force against Iran, but believes it is still possible to resolve the dispute diplomatically. This is true even after the release of the recent US National Intelligence Estimate.

Israel's air raid on Syria on September 6, 2007 has broken the immunity of the Damascus regime without provoking a European or Arab outcry. Israel should decide on a more forceful Syrian strategy, based on the Turkish example of 1998 (and 2007), and seek US and European support for it. Israel's air raid also proved that if a country does act against a clear and present danger, the Muslim world will not erupt. Moreover, Iranian aspirations should be viewed in proper proportion. Iran is not an international superpower and it has its own domestic, economic and military vulnerabilities.

If the military option is the last resort, it is imperative to dissuade the Tehran regime from retaliation. Ex-French President Jacques Chirac gave the example when he said that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. "The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using . . . weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part."

The US, the European Union and Israel have the duty to protect their citizens and interests, as well as those of their allies in the Middle East. They must stand firm against the "axis of destabilization" and the apocalyptic plans of the radicals in Tehran.

Dr. Ely Karmon is a Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC. He lectures at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and at the National Security Seminar of the Galilee College. This article is a summary of a monograph under the title "Iran - Syria - Hizballah - Hamas: A Coalition against Nature. Why does it Work?" forthcoming in the Proteus Monograph Series Fellows Program, US War Academy, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Did the Israeli FM meet with the Syrian Foreign Minister?

FM Livni denies report she met with Syrian counterpart in N.Y.

A Nazareth-based publication reported on Thursday that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had met with her Syrian counterpart Walid Moallem in New York this week. Livni's camp denied the report.

The Arabic-language weekly publication Al-Sinara reported that Livni and Moallem had met at the New York home of the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The publication, which cited Arab diplomatic sources in the United States as the source of the report, said that the emir surprised the two foreign ministers with a proposition to arrange a meeting.

According to the report, Livni received special authorization from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to meet with the Syrian official. The Israeli and Syrian ambassadors to the United Nations were also present at the meeting, Al-Sinara reported.

The meeting revolved around the urgent need to calm the escalating tensions between Israel and Syria, the report added.

The report is a bit thin, but it is not impossible. Topics for conversation in the alleged meeting might include the upcoming peace conference, the "alleged" Israeli air attack in Syria, the "alleged" Syrian support for Hezbollah and many others. Perhaps they even discussed Rami Khouri's intriguing offer to trade Lebanese land for Israeli peace with Syria.
Ami Isseroff

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Israel Military Intelligence on war with Syria

According to IDF military intelligence as quoted in the Jerusalem Post,  War with Syria would be 10 times worse than Hizbullah
Predicting that war with Syria could erupt if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does not begin peace negotiations with Damascus, the latest IDF assessment also states that such a conflict would be "at least 10 times worse" than last summer's conflict with Hizbullah.
IDF has other work too:

Military Intelligence is also identifying and pinpointing targets for the IDF in the event that a strike is launched against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Notwithstanding, the government is busy cutting the Israeli defense budget again. "Your money or your life," said the bandit.
"Take my life, I need my money for my old age."
The post article also has these nuggets:
According to IDF assessments, Syria is not interested in an armed
confrontation, but has stepped up its preparations for war since last year's
Israel-Hizbullah conflict.
If Syria is not interested in a war, why does it keep announcing that it is about to try to liberate the Golan with guerrilla warfare?
And then there is this piece of intelligence:
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah remains a target for the IDF, although the assumption within the defense establishment is that the guerrilla group would respond harshly if he were killed.

Well yes, I would tend to think they would not like that at all. After all, there is a reason why "Military Intelligence" is said to be an oxymoron, isn't there?
Ami Isseroff


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Monday, July 9, 2007

Olmert to Assad: 'I am ready to hold direct talks with you'


Olmert to Assad: 'I am ready to hold direct talks with you'

'Come to Jerusalem to talk' was the message of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an historic interview to Saudi satellite station Al Arabiya, aired by Channel 10 Monday evening.

In his first appearance on a major Arabic news station in over six years, Olmert, speaking in an office adorned with the blue and white Israeli flag, told his Hebrew-speaking interviewer: "Bashar Assad, you know … You know I am ready to hold direct negotiations with you and you also know that it's you who insists on speaking to the Americans. The American president says: 'I don't want to stand between Bashar Assad and Ehud Olmert. If you want to talk, sit down and talk."

Assad has "heard many things from me already," Olmert added.

When asked where he would hold such talks with Assad, Olmert said "any place he [Assad] would agree to meet," hinting that Assad would even be welcome in Jerusalem.

Channel 10 analyst Zvi Yehezkeli remarked that Al Arabiya's broadcasts are transmitted following approval from the Saudi government. He added the network was planning to follow up on Olmert's interview with interviews with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal and eventually, Assad himself.

Several weeks ago, during Olmert's visit to the US, American President George W. Bush, in Olmert's presence, was asked if he would mediate between Israel and Syria in an attempt to warm the truce the two countries observe since 1973 into a full-blooded peace treaty. Bush's response was that Olmert "is plenty capable" of achieving such a goal without US help. The Syria Accountability Act, isolating Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism, was passed during Bush's tenure. Despite visits to Damascus by house speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressmen earlier this year, Bush keeps contacts with Syria cool. However, the US still keeps an embassy in Damascus.

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Syria and Israel: The fire next time

World Net Daily tells us about a ' Mideast war this summer.':
If Israel doesn't vacate the strategic Golan Heights before September, Syrian guerrillas will immediately launch "resistance operations" against the Golan's Jewish communities, a top official from Syrian President Bashar Assad's Baath party told WND.
The Baath official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, said Damascus is preparing for anticipated Israeli retaliation following Syrian guerrilla attacks and for a larger war with the Jewish state in August or September. He said in the opening salvo of any conflict, Syria has the capabilities of firing "hundreds" of missiles at Tel Aviv.
"Syria passed repeated messages to the U.S. that we demand the return of the Golan either through negotiations or through war. If the Golan is not in our hands by August or September, we will be poised to launch resistance, including raids and attacks against Jewish positions (in the Golan Heights)," the Baath official said.
This is the latest in a mountain of reports that Syria is preparing to start a war, just as was announced last summer by Bashar al-Assad. These reports are greeted with equanimity by Israel, and seem to be ignored by the United States and everyone else. Of course, they could be a bluff If the war comes, everyone will be asking "what were we thinking?" It is doubtful that Israel has an effective defense against the missiles Syria is preparing, which may be armed with biological or chemical warheads.
What Syria wants, evidently, is not the Golan Heights, but rather negotiations over the Golan Heights that must be mediated by the United States. The United States doesn't want to 'engage' Syria, Therefore this route, which would probably yield nothing, is blocked. On the other hand, it doesn't want to really confront Syria either, over its role in the insurgency in Iraq, its role in the "accidents" that keep happening to its opponents in Lebanon or its role in fomenting problems in the Palestinian authority.
Israel should be actively offering and pursuing peace through direct negotiations, while at the same time preparing for war. Very likely, Israeli war plans revolve around the same failed "strategic bombing" policy of the Lebanon war. Bombing poor countries doesn't work. They don't manufacture their own weapons or industrial equipment. They import them from abroad. Bombing them only produces an international outcry about "civilian casualties."
The United States and the EU should make it clear that any Syrian attack on Israel will be considered a violation of Chapter 7 of the UN charter, and will be met by international sanctions and force if necessary.
Ami Isseroff

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Israel using Syrian water


Water experts say Israel pumping water from Golan Heights springs whose natural stream leads to Syria
Amir Ben-David Published:  07.09.07, 09:31 / Israel News
For years Israel has been pumping water from springs in the Golan Heights to the shrinking Sea of Galilee, depriving Syria of major water resources, experts said Sunday.
 Water from some springs exploited by Israel would naturally stream downhill to Syria had it not been to human intervention on the Israeli side of the border, they added.

Experts fear Israel's continuous exploitation of water resources in the Golan Heights will irk Syria and up the chances of a war breaking out this summer between the two enemies.

Water disputes triggered military confrontations between Syria and Israel in the past. In 1964, Syria diverted the Hasbani and Banyas rivers, depriving Israel of major fresh water resources. Israel retaliated by launching airstrikes at Syrian constructions.

Three years later the Six-Day War broke out and Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria. The Golan Heights was officially annexed in 1981 when the Knesset voted in favor of making it Israeli territory.

Since last summer's war with Hizbullah, tensions have been running high between Israel and Syria, whose president recently threatened to free the Golan Heights by force if diplomacy failed.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Muddled thinking about Israel, "Leftists" and Gaza

I generally like Bradley Burston's analyses, even if I do not always agree with them. They evince an intelligent, unhysterical, undogmatic and pragmatic humanism, reminiscent of the intellectual posture of Mark Twain.

Sometimes, though he is way wide of the mark. For example, here is a "legitimate" reason for hating Israel according to him:

"4. Because Israel, even in withdrawing from Gaza, has left it to die"

Perhaps Bradley has inadvertantly stumbled upon the root causes of anti-Semitism here. He is really on to something. For 2,000 years the Jews neglected the Holy Land, and left all those poor folk to fend for themselves. Palestinian Arabs lived here in peace and harmony, enjoing the benefits of illiteracy, trachoma, malaria and typhus. With no Jewish doctors and hospitals around, many of the poor Arabs lived lives that were short, nasty and brutish. There was no work other than agriculture, because there were no Jewish investors either. There were no Zionist irrigation works either, so there was no water. No wonder everyone hates those cruel Jews.

Consider the facts, friend Bradley. Palestine was traditionally the armpit (or an unmentionable part) of the Turkish Empire. The Jews of Jerusalem were the poorest among all those who dwelt in the land, and their main industry was begging. Even in 1920 the Jews of Palestine were so poor that they were leaving in droves. By 1936, greedy evil colonialist imperialist Zionist investment had made the Jewish community richer than the Arab Palestinian community, but the Arab community by then was also among the richest in the Middle East. Wages of Arabs in Palestine were higher than in most neighboring countries.

When the Peel plan proposed to give 25% of the land to the approximately 450,000 Jewish inhabitants, it was proposed seriously that the much larger and more populous Arab state would not be economically self-sufficient, and that therefore the tiny Jewish state with its small community, that was also expected to absorb millions of immigrants, would need to subsidize the Arab state in perpetuity! All this was due to Zionist investment, since except for a bit of money spent on the port of Haifa, the British did not invest anything in Palestine. All the wealth had to come from taxes. By the year 1948, the Arabs of Palestine had improved their status quite a bit more, thanks also to British investment during WW II. However, the Jews of Palestine now produced four times as much as the Arabs, and paid four times as much taxes, even though the Arabs were twice as numerous!

The Zionists built the national water carrier. British experts insisted that it would never be economically feasible to pump irrigation water from the Sea of Galilee. "Never" was about 30 years in coming. In onde day, the national water carrier pumps more water than was used in all of Palestine in the entire year of 1948. Without that water, it would not be possible to maintain 7 million people in Israel at a near-Western European standard of living.

Consider the next crime of the evil Zionists. In 1967, the per capita income of the West Bank and Gaza was in the neighborhood of $360. By 1993, it was over $2,400. Then the evil Zionists gave the Palestinians self rule. By 2000, the per capita income of the West Bank and Gaza was only $2,000. Still, it is a fact that Palestinian Arabs were crossing the border illegally from Jordan in order to live in the oppressive and evil Zionist occupation and work in Israel. I met some of those Arabs. Then the Intifada started. The evil Jews did not permit the Palestinians to import suicide bombers into Israel, and the Palestinian GDP plumetted.

Now the evil Zionists committed the crime of withdrawing from Gaza. Jewish philanthropists paid so that Palestinians could own the green houses that the greedy evil Zionists left behind. The Palestinian Arabs trashed the green houses or used them as termini for arms smuggling tunnels. Then the Palestinians voted for the nice progressive Hamas, which wants to make a nice progressive Islamic state in all of "Palestine." According to Bradley Burston, the Zionists have an obligation to encourage subsidy programs for purchase of Qassam rockets and pay the salaries of the people who launch them. As Bradley wrote:

It is not lost on leftists that many Israelis reap a distinct satisfaction from the Palestinians' inability to help themselves, govern themselves, save themselves.

I don't know many such Israelis. There are a few. Maybe Bradley moves in different circles. Mostly I found that the misuse of the green houses, the internecine fighting, the lost opportunities for peace and development, are all causes for alarm and concern. It may mean we can never have peace with our neighbors, and that would be really terrible.
Bradley continues:

Leftists may note that Israel has done everything in its power to convince the world to deny much-needed aid to a democratically elected government, and that Israel has not acted as a neighbor whose primary concern is an eventual peace.

According to Burston's logic, the Palestinian Arabs democratically chose genocide for the Jews, so the Jews must encourage subsidies for this program, because it is a democratic choice. Presumably, in World War II, the Jews should have encouraged Roosevelt to send railway cars to Eichmann to expedite the transport of Jews to Auschwitz.
How could subsidizing the Hamas bring eventual peace? Didn't the allies blockade Germany in World War II? Does that mean that they were not interested in eventual peace? Right now, the primary concern is immediate survival. If you are dead, eventual peace doesn't matter. Therefore, stopping the suicide bombers and the rockets is the first order of business.
The implications are clear. The assumptions of Bradley Burston and the unnamed "leftists," which are racist assumptions, are that if the Jews leave, the economy of Palestine will inevitably degenerate into something like that of Syria. The fate of the glass and steel towers in Herzliya Pituach and Ramat Gan will be as the fate of the green houses in Gaza, or as the fate of the farm buildings of Gush Etzion in 1948 or the Ruttenberg electric plant and the potash works in the north of the Dead Sea. The national water carrier will cease to function. It will all rot in the sun and be ravaged by vandalism, like the grandeur of Rome after the invasion of the Goths and the Vandals.

Under Arab rule, in the present state of development of Palestinian society, and under the racist assumption of Arab Palestinian helplessness that is built in to the viewpoint of the so-called "leftists," it is questionable whether this land could support more than one or two million Palestinian Arabs, just as the British experts predicted in the 1930s. Therefore, the course of action is clear. The evil greedy Jewish sons of apes and dogs will not be allowed to leave the Islamic Paradise. We will have to stay here and create wealth for our Islamist masters.

An alternative to consider is that left to their own devices, the Palestinians will in time become a people like any other. They will learn to stand on their feet. They will stop making suicide bomber belts and Qassam rockets, and start manufacturing goods and services that the world, including Israel, want. With freedom and democracy, come responsibility.

Here are two other reasons why "Leftists" are right to hate Israel, according to Burston:

1. Because Israel's policies are frequently marked by gratuitous
humiliation of and disdain for the Palestinians.
2. Because Israelis can live with this.

I have to dispute both assumptions. A great part of the humiliation suffered by Palestinians at checkpoints, or at the hands of settlers, is due to individual loutishness or to incompetence of IDF and border police officials. It is not policy. And many Israelis cannot live with it. That is why there is Peace Now, and Gush Shalom, and the Machsomwatch movement that reports on doings at checkpoints, and that is why there is the "Breaking the Silence" group, soldiers protesting against the occupation, and that is why there is Betselem, that is why there are refuseniks, that is why Zionist Kibbutz members go out to protect Palestinians harvesting olives from settlers, and that is why there is a very long list of other groups protesting the occupationn. What is peculiar, and what Bradley doesn't mention, is that no "leftists" are upset by the fact that Palestinian policies are often marked by gratuitous murder of Israeli citizens and by the fact that many Palestinians cannot only live with it, but rather celebrate the death of every suicide bomber who kills Israelis. There is no Palestinian "Shahid watch" that reports when a suicide bomber kills innocent children in a supermarket "gratuitously." There is no Palestinian Peace Now movement to protest against Palestinian incitement. How do we explain the fact that this does not upset any of these so-called leftists?

Ami Isseroff

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Please link to this article and cite it. Do not copy it to your Web site without express permision.

Ten reasons the left hates Israel - five good, five bad
By Bradley Burston

A few thoughts engendered by the controversy over Alvin H. Rosenfeld's article "'Progressive'" Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism."

Five of the following are reasonable. Five are not.


Why does the left hate Israel? Here are five good reasons:

1. Because Israel's policies are frequently marked by gratuitous humiliation of and disdain for the Palestinians.

2. Because Israelis can live with this.

If the policies hinted at in 1. above are associated with a status quo which Israelis find tolerably calm and Palestinians find unbearable, even lethal, Israel's leaders often view this as a viable and even optimal outcome.

3. Because Israel, in practice, values settlements more than it values social justice.

The right will tell you that there is [Bradley meant to write "no" here A.I. ] contradiction between settlements and social justice. Which would be true if there were no Palestinians, and if the Palestinians did not view the land occupied by settlements as theirs, historically, legally, and morally. And which would be true if the same consideration offered settlers in fixing the route of the West Bank fence were applied to Palestinians, that is, were farmers not cut off from their fields, pupils from their schools, and close relatives from one another.

The right will tell you that the settlements are no obstacle to peace. But that same right will also argue that the settlements are the only real bulwark between the Palestinians and an independent Palestine.

4. Because Israel, even in withdrawing from Gaza, has left it to die.

It is not lost on leftists that many Israelis reap a distinct satisfaction from the Palestinians' inability to help themselves, govern themselves, save themselves. Leftists may note that Israel has done everything in its power to convince the world to deny much-needed aid to a democratically elected government, and that Israel has not acted as a neighbor whose primary concern is an eventual peace.

5. Because of the propensity of Israel's leaders to demonstrate arrogance, claim a monopoly on the moral high ground, set non-negotiable demands to which Palestinian politicians cannot agree, then condemn Palestinians for intransigence.


Here, then, are five bad reasons:

1. The Palestinian cause is inherently progressive.

As currently constituted, Palestinian governance is marked by institutional graft, widespread human rights violations, curbs on press freedoms, tribalism, blood feuds, murders of women on the basis of contentions of preservation of family honor, and celebration of the targeting and killing of non-combatants as a legitimate form of resistance to occupation.

2. Israel remains the sole root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the reason it remains unresolved.

As root causes go, both sides have demonstrated profound intransigence, both sides have violated agreements with abandon, both sides suffer from extremists whose power to destroy a peace process far outweighs their proportion of the population.

In addition, the contention that Israel is solely responsible suggests that the solution of the Mideast conflict is the dissolution of Israel. This brings us to:

3. Israel is a Jewish state.

For a vocal minority of leftists, this fact alone - coupled with the following two arguments - is enough to call into serious question Israel's right to exist. This argument, which holds that the formally Jewish nature of the state enshrines an unconscionable level of racism, dovetails with:

4. Israel is an apartheid state.

Occupation: It's horrid, but it's not apartheid

5. Israel's actions are comparable to those of Nazi Germany.

This contention may be the genuine litmus test for anti-Semitism on the left.

In the end, the compulsion to accuse Israel of genocide, while turning a blind eye to wholesale slaughter in Darfur and elsewhere, tends to say a great deal more about the accuser than the accused.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Druze of the Golan Heights- do they want to return to Syria?

The Golan Heights has been part of Israel for more time then it was part of independent Syria. The Druze who live in the Golan are not so anxious to be "returned" to Syria, where they suffered persecution. This is obvious from talking to people off record. Here is what an article in Daily Star notes:
Most worrisome to Golan residents when it comes to a future return to Syria are economic issues. While not as rich as the bon vivants of Tel Aviv, the inhabitants have a standard of living vastly surpassing that of their counterparts on the Syrian side of the border. "Life is all about the shekels," one resident of the largest village, Majdal Shams, told me on a recent visit. The locals work hard - whether in agriculture, construction, or services - and have little regard for Syrians who, in many Golanis' minds, "drink tea and sleep all day." In Syria, working hard rarely ever translates into making more money - unless you have government connections.
The students from the Golan - a younger generation that may not have been born during the political turbulence of the 1980s - understand that they are linked to Syria by blood and to Israel by economics; however, they have found that their identity, as time has passed, is tied mainly to their small parcel of land located between Israel and Syria. They feel stuck: a part of both states, yet a part of neither. While most identify themselves as Syrian and take Syria with both its grandeur and its faults, once in Damascus these students can see how the Golan has become a rhetorical tool that has not trickled down into Syrian public consciousness. This and the fact that they can earn more in Israel are why many young Druze, as well as their parents, fear a return to Syria.
Peace between Syria and Israel will allow the people of the Golan Heights to be reunited with their families, a paramount concern on both sides of the border. However, without domestic reforms in Syria that allow people to profit from their hard work, the return of the Golan to Syria will hardly alleviate the concern the Druze have for what might come afterward.
There is little likelihood of course, that economic conditions in Syria will match those in Israel in the foreseeable future. There is also the matter of the uncomfortable status of minorities in Syria, particularly Druze, that is not discusses in this article.
Ami Isseroff

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