Interviews, Syria

Muhanna and Otrakji talk Syria at Bloggingheads

Camille Otrakji and I recorded a segment about the situation in Syria for Bloggingheads, which you can see here. To read my interview with Camille from a few weeks ago (which generated 724 comments from the readership), click here.
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Discussion

254 thoughts on “Muhanna and Otrakji talk Syria at Bloggingheads

  1. How can a shameless Baathist continue to spread Baathist lies in this part of the world?

    وفي سياق متصل ذكر نشطاء أن قوات الأمن اعتقلت 12 من أعضاء الحزب الآشوري الديمقراطي في هجوم على مقر الحزب في القامشلي أمس الجمعة.

    وقال شاهدَا عيان إن قوات الأمن أطلقت النيران على محتجين وطاردتهم في الشوارع في حي برزة بالعاصمة دمشق. وقال أحد السكان إن الشرطة السرية قامت بعمليات اعتقال من منزل إلى منزل في الحي.

    في غضون ذلك بث ناشطون على الإنترنت مشاهد قالوا إنها التقطت أمس في منطقة الخالدية بمدينة حمص، تظهر عجز عدد من الأشخاص عن سحب جثة من الشارع بسبب إطلاق النار المباشر نحوهم.

    يأتي ذلك في وقت رجح فيه ناشطون سوريون مقتل مواطن من قرية البيضاء في بانياس، كان بين الأشخاص الذين يُعتقد أن قوات الأمن داستهم بأقدامها الشهر الماضي.

    وكان ذلك المواطن، الذي يدعى أحمد بياسي، قد ظهر في شريط مصور يؤكد أن صور البيضاء حقيقية وليست مزورة، وأنه كان في عين المكان، وأنه ضُرب خلال ذلك الحادث، الذي قالت مصادر سورية رسمية إنه لم يقع في البلاد أصلا.

    واتهم ناشطون في مواقع على الإنترنت مدير المخابرات السورية علي مملوك بالإشراف شخصيا على التحقيق مع أحمد، وأعرب المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان عن خشيته من أن يفارق أحمد الحياة تحت التعذيب، إن لم يكن قد فارقها.

    The person who is mentioned above to have died under torture is Ahmed Biasi who was one of those who were trampled upon by the security thugs in the famous video. He later debunked the official misinformation story about that video being an old one from Iraq. He was later arrested and now seems to have died while being torured.

    Shame on any one who still provides execuses and apologies to this criminal and hateful regime. Only thugs would engage in such activity.

    Posted by iceman | May 21, 2011, 4:56 pm
  2. the video is not working, the message error indicates that the server is not found (maybe the bloody Murder Inc and Asef Shawkat international creeps are freezing the whole internet)

    Posted by 3issa | May 21, 2011, 5:50 pm
  3. Ilias,

    This the corruption index for Syria and Lebanon, they are the same,2.5 you are not better than Syria, and about religous parties, Lebanon should follow Syria and ban them, for any party to represent all citizens it has to be open to all, By the way in Egypt religous parties are banned.

    Posted by Norman | May 21, 2011, 9:13 pm
  4. 3ammo Norman, is Hizbullah a religious party? If yes, should it be banned? If no, why not?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 21, 2011, 10:00 pm
  5. HP

    My friend, Yes Hezbollah and all the other religous parties like the future, Lebanese forces and the Marada and Aoun,all should be banned, have secular parties that all Lebanese can join and debate the economy, education defence policy and most of all have one man one vote rule and build a real modern Lebanon.with rule of law that applies to everybody.

    I hope that i made your day!.

    Posted by Norman | May 21, 2011, 10:33 pm
  6. Iceman, I hate to disappoint you, your dead after torture at the hands of the Syrian moukhabarat, Ahmad Biasi, is actually alive and not detained

    http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/90946

    It was another lie from your friends who are trying to manufacture anger that leads to demonstrations.

    Want another lie?

    Norman, Elias was joking, he knows that there is absolutely nothing in Lebanon that Syria can learn from : )

    Honest Patriot,

    I hope that as part of the comprehensive solution to the conflict in the Middle East, Hezbollah will morph into another party with another name and it will donate its weapons to the Lebanese army.

    Posted by Alex | May 21, 2011, 10:38 pm
  7. Disappoint me?
    Shameless Ba’athist?
    Why don’t you find a pit and bury your head?
    Champress? I am impressed.
    Next thing you’ll come and say no one was killed by your roaming thugs. And the prisons are empty.
    Go and lie to somebody else you…

    Posted by iceman | May 21, 2011, 11:08 pm
  8. It was obvious all throughout this dialogue that Mr. Otrakji seemed to be interested in
    creating false some nuances to present himself less than as an outright regime supporter but it did not work.
    Camille acted as an apologist for the system that he believes needs more time in order to deliver, yes Camille 40 years is not enough:-) But what was more disturbing was his constant determination to defend the indefensible even by telling half truths and by making patently false statements. For example he voiced strong support for preventing ethnic parties and religious parties by asking the question “you do not have Christian Parties in the us. Well Mr. Otrakji there are no laws to prevent one from forming a party for people from Mexico or a part for those who like swiss cheese. There are over 70 political parties in the Us, there is a Nazi Party, A peace Party a Socialist Party, a Marxist part… And then he raises another nonsequitor by saying why don’t the Lebanese revolt? The simple answer is that if the Lebanese decide to make a change then all what they have toi do is vote someone out of office without having to worry about being besieged by the army and bombed by the tanks. More importantly whether The Lebanese choose to revolt or not has nothing to do with the justification of brutal authoritarian ,personlity worship Syrian regime.
    Overall the responses, all of them, by Mr. Otrakji reminded me of the positions taken by many in the 1970’s and 1980’s in defence of the utter corruption and authoritarian Soviet regimes.
    I am glad that Mr. Otrakji did not have to cast a deciding vote in the abolishing of slavery because he would have voted for the maintenance of the cruel regime because he could not trust the behaviour of the slaves once they are freed. Go figure. 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 21, 2011, 11:46 pm
  9. Tsk tsk stk

    ok, I noticed you like you tube videos. Let me try again:

    Posted by Alex | May 21, 2011, 11:47 pm
  10. 3ammo Norman, with full seriousness I am 100% with you on this. Whenever I used to bring it up in the past, I used to be tagged a dreamer. At least now there are 2 of us 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 21, 2011, 11:51 pm
  11. Alex,

    I have the same hope, despite objections by others who place a very low likelihood on this happening.

    By the way, your bloggingheads performance was very impressive. Irrespective of the opinions expressed and whether one agrees or disagrees with you, the poise and thoughtfulness you display are truly exemplary. You are very articulate in making your points. This was the first time I have had the opportunity to see you in a video. Kudos!

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 21, 2011, 11:57 pm
  12. … the call for no religious parties allowed is a good one, but QN called you on the inconsistency in this position by anyone who would also be a supporter of Hizbullah (or Hamas). I don’t think timing is a valid excuse. If the principle of no religious parties is to be applied, it cannot have exceptions, neither geographically nor temporally.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 12:05 am
  13. Who is this liar to tell the Syrians which parties to have or not to have?

    What are his credentials? As far as I can see he’s an indefinite article.

    He builds stupid user interfaces? What an impressive feat for someone to waste time with?

    Go and burry your head in a deep pit and save yourself all this shame.

    Posted by iceman | May 22, 2011, 12:11 am
  14. easy, iceman, you’re letting your emotion get the better of you. You’re clearly much better than that and truly effective when you argue objectively.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 12:13 am
  15. Norman,
    It happens over and over again. Two parties pretend to be having a dialogue when in reality each side is discussing diametrically opposed ideas.
    You can be assured that this individual will never ever approve of banning of a political party on religious, ethnis, sectarian gender… In a democracy citizens have the right to congregate and express their views irrespective of whether the people in power approve of the views advocated by such groups or not.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 22, 2011, 12:14 am
  16. Alex,

    A key question that I don’t think was asked and that truly bugs a lot of us is how, if in 10 years, Pres. Assad has not succeeded in establishing himself in a way that overcomes the negative influences of bad elements in his surrounding and effect the much needed reforms, why would anyone trust or expect that he will do so now?
    I did hear of the excuses relating to the war in Iraq, to 9/11 and its consequences, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, etc., etc., but I am not convinced. 10 years is an awfully long time for someone smart, principled and determined, to make something happen.
    There is a true danger, as I think Prof. Landis has been hinting (actually, explicitly stating), that anything now is going to be too little too late. As a consequence, the reforms will be won by the power of popular revolt and it will be unclear how Assad will be viewed if, against all odds, he is still in power a year or two from now.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 12:17 am
  17. I’m not being emotional, HP, and I mean every word I say.

    This guy is a shame to argue with. He is a big liar and he MUST be told so straight to his hace.

    Actually, I feel I am doing every one (except you of course) a big favor by being blunt considering the circumstances.

    This is one of those we describe in Arabic as follows,

    بلا حياء وحرف نكرة ولا يستأهل اي اهتمام٠

    Posted by iceman | May 22, 2011, 12:32 am
  18. Once again, the utterly corrupt USA Pinning Iran To Al-CIAda, To Bin Laden, To 911. LOL
    American Psy-ops, obfuscations and utter lies, in your face, exactly like the Syrian thuggish Baathists. They seem to be more like twins lately 🙂
    9/11 was an inside Job Wall to Wall. No Government lies will ever change that proven fact. 87 % of Americans don’t buy the “official” narrative about 9/11, and 80 % Globally.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/middleeast/20terror.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    Once again, another case has been laid-out, implicating Iran in ZIOCON terror wars. When the opportune moment to attack arrives, will Obama have the balls to do what Bush couldn’t seem to finish? That question seems impossible to answer now in the middle of the Great Game…, until we first explain why Bush pulled back, at the last moment, denying Israel the regional war for its security that had been promoted for so long… What stopped Bush from sending in the B-52s, to bomb Hezbollah out of their bunkers in south Lebanon, or giving the IDF the needed bunker-busters and access to Iraqi airfields (or at least overflight rights)? Was it the fear of not being able to contain the war, or had Bush’s Zionist credentials began to fade away? More than likely, Bush had nothing to do with the decision, but his Daddy’s good friends probably did. Someone got cold feet. Which motivation will win-out in the upcoming contest being set-up by Obama’s boys–cold feet over losing control, or the boiling hot economic waters that US institutions are all rapidly drowning in? This will be the last roll of the dice, America’s “last hurrah,” strong incentive to make you forget about cold feet…

    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/160199-the-consequences-of-bahrains-kristallnacht-

    http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=240805

    http://www.socialjusticejournal.org/SJEdits/27-8Edit.html

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/scocca/archive/2011/04/28/exporting-american-values-military-tribunal-in-bahrain-sentences-civilians-to-death.aspx

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 1:15 am
  19. Once again, the utterly corrupt USA Pinning Iran To Al-CIAda, To Bin Laden, To 911. LOL
    American Psy-ops, obfuscations and utter lies, in your face, exactly like the Syrian thuggish Baathists. They seem to be more and more like twins lately 🙂
    9/11 was an inside Job Wall to Wall. No Government lies will ever change that proven fact. 87 % of Americans don’t buy the “official” narrative about 9/11, and 80 % Globally.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/middleeast/20terror.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

    Once again, another case has been laid-out, implicating Iran in ZIOCON terror wars. When the opportune moment to attack arrives, will Obama have the balls to do what Bush couldn’t seem to finish? That question seems impossible to answer now in the middle of the Great Game…, until we first explain why Bush pulled back, at the last moment, denying Israel the regional war for its security that had been promoted for so long… What stopped Bush from sending in the B-52s, to bomb Hezbollah out of their bunkers in south Lebanon, or giving the IDF the needed bunker-busters and access to Iraqi airfields (or at least overflight rights)? Was it the fear of not being able to contain the war, or had Bush’s Zionist credentials began to fade away? More than likely, Bush had nothing to do with the decision, but his Daddy’s good friends probably did. Someone got cold feet. Which motivation will win-out in the upcoming contest being set-up by Obama’s boys–cold feet over losing control, or the boiling hot economic waters that US institutions are all rapidly drowning in? This will be the last roll of the dice, America’s “last hurrah,” strong incentive to make you forget about cold feet…

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 1:18 am
  20. Thanks HP, you are always kind. I always apologize in advance for my limited vocabulary by mentioning that I am (as iceman correctly stated) just an Engineer. But you are an Engineer too (or a Physicist?) yet you write like a Ph.D. in social sciences.

    Ghassan:

    Whatever laws you have in the US … in reality you have the two main parties in power for ever. That Nazi party has zero chance of competing. If this was not the case, I assure you a new amendment would make it to the US constitution. This is not the case if we get the MB competing in Syria.

    As for Lebanon … you have most of the real power in the hands of the Junblatts and Jemayels and Chamouns and Hariris and Karamis, then Geagea and Aoun

    In other words … son takes after his father and the same family is in power for decades and they are all corrupt and ultra rich…

    As for those wonderful elections, please remember that in 2005 they all campaigned … designed nice posters, banners, TV ads … had interesting debates …

    Saad Hariri, the richest one among that group and the son of the previous prime minister got to lead his coalition (because he is incredibly qualified of course) and he then named Fouad Seniora as Lebanon’s Prime Minister.

    Right?

    Wrong.

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6640

    9. (C/NF) On a positive note, Hariri praised with seeming sincerity the performance of PM Fouad Siniora during this crisis. “If I had picked Bahije (Tabbarah, former Minister of Justice) a year ago,” he said, his voice trailing off as he shook his head. We think that this was a tacit acknowledgement, Saad-style, that the strong advice we (the Americans) and the French gave him to pick Siniora over his initial choice of Tabbarah was the right one. But what was encouraging in Saad’s praise for Siniora was the suggestion that the two of them will now be able to cooperate without the internal rivalries and jealousies that had plagued their relationship earlier this year.

    ___

    So … that democracy advantage, is not worth paying a high price for. We need to ensure Syria is strong before we make it democratic. Otherwise, Saudi Arabia will invest a few billions in Syria to ensure its favorite candidate (a Hariri/Khaddam type) will win and then the french and US ambassadors will provide the usual strong advise on how Syria should act or not act.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 1:30 am
  21. Alex,

    You do realize that you are recycling Nasser when you say the Arabs are one nation, therefore the oil belongs to all Arabs. It will have the same effect as it had in the sixties. It will make the gulf states weary of Egypt and Syria and will strengthen their cooperation with Israel.

    As for your assertion that Syrians are corrupt as a people. Why is this the case? Are they born this way? Is it because of the Syrian education system?

    By the way, what is a religious party? Is a party that wants a sharia based constitution but allows any religion holder as a member “religious”? You cannot put together a law that cannot be easily circumnavigated. De facto you will have religious and ethnic parties. For examples the Kurds will have a party open to everybody that is called “the minority protection party” whose aim would be to protect all minorities and will be open to anybody. How can such a party be outlawed?

    The religious and ethnic parties are a pain, but you got to learn to live with them as we do in Israel. This is what the people want and you need to learn to accept it.

    Posted by AIG | May 22, 2011, 1:31 am
  22. Alex,

    “So … that democracy advantage, is not worth paying a high price for.”

    You mean of course for the people who have it good under the current regime.

    Posted by AIG | May 22, 2011, 1:34 am
  23. HP,

    I think Elias did ask me that question and I answered that

    1) Assad had high resistance to change from the Baath party and from the security and army.

    2) Assad himself did not mind avoiding political reforms because it was easier to work with no opposition and free press questioning and criticizing everything he did, like they do in countries where there is democracy.

    3) He assumed (correctly probably) that most Syrians care more about economic reforms. But that changed when the winds of change started flowing over the Middle East. The Syrians were too slow to respond before the protests started in Syria.

    I believe it is not too late. But some outsiders will continue to make life difficult for Assad, even after reforms are introduced.

    We’ll see. None of us can read the future with all the noise in the system … very low signal to noise ration at this point.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 1:38 am
  24. AIG

    1) I meant to say that a democracy of a weak country that can be manipulated from outside is not worth paying a high price for (protracted internal conflict).

    2) I did not mean that I believe in the United Arab world… I meant to say that even though Qatar and Egypt are two separate countries, many people in Egypt still see themselves as part of a wider Arab world. When they are hungry and when they hear that Qatar is spending tens of billions on soccer stadiums that will be used only once (and same applies to other rich gulf states) at some point you might have another wave of protests in the region … against the rich Arabs.

    As for the religious and ethnic parties … if we absolutely have to accept them, let it be years from now. If we want the first experience with democracy to not fail, let us try harder to create an easier set of rules at first. Then we’ll see.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 1:53 am
  25. Alex,

    I guess we are back to “Syria needs 5-7 more years before becoming a democracy”. Nothing has changed in the last 7 years; in fact Syria has gotten more religious. Why do you think this regime can prepare Syria for democracy given their dismal failure so far?
    Who is to blame that Syria is so weak that if it becomes democratic it could easily be manipulated?

    As for ethnic and religious parties, you will have to accept them if you want any parties at all because you cannot write a law that they cannot easily circumnavigate. The MB can create a party under a neutral name, but everyone will now that voting for it is like voting for the MB.

    Posted by AIG | May 22, 2011, 2:04 am
  26. last comment before I go to sleep,

    Again, that is not what I meant to say.

    We can hopefully this year introduce reforms that were previously expected to be introduced slowly and gradually over 5 years.

    Not full democracy, but a very reasonable serious progress.

    As for religious and ethnic parties. Again … maybe later.

    You know that Turkey did not feel comfortable experimenting with religious (moderate) parties except after decades of experimenting with strictly secular democracy.

    Good night to you.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 2:22 am
  27. Comment removed by moderator

    Posted by iceman | May 22, 2011, 2:54 am
  28. GK, HP,

    maturity of the American voters took more than 200 years, women did not get the right to vote till the early 20Th century and blacks had to wait till the sixties, there is no chance in the US for an ethnic or religous party to reach power as that is not supported by the voters or the media , in Syria and Lebanon and because of our tribal system , we relate to our family and religion more than to our country. until individualism take over and people become responsible and accountable for themselves and do not cast a shadow on thier families for what they do, Syrians and Arab in general will have trouble if not directed in elected qualified people to lead.

    They laugh at me in the US when i tell that we should all vote for a certain party or individual because they are good for our business, so i and my wife end up voting for the opposite parties, in Syria , the whole tribe and family will vote for the same religous or ethnic party, but probably with time and freedom of movement and voting where people live instead than where people come from will make Syria more homogeneous.It will take some time to do that,

    Posted by Norman | May 22, 2011, 5:22 am
  29. Iceman

    Enough with the personal attacks. If you think it is beneath you to debate Alex in a respectful way, then please take a break from this thread.

    Thanks.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 22, 2011, 6:25 am
  30. Norman/Alex
    I imagine that the general public is never to be trusted and that the elite will decide about what is good for them (general public) 🙂 Is that democracy or is that dictatorship? lol

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 22, 2011, 6:52 am
  31. In Alex’s La La land of drawing parallels between Syria, the Syrian regime and the US or the West in order to defend the indefensible, does accountability ring hollow? How about this is no longer about reform or Assad’s willingness to reform or his ability to reform, how about this being about accountability and being held for killing a thousand or so Syrian people. HIS PEOPLE
    Shame on the hypocrites living in Canada yet asking others to remain under the yoke of tyranny.
    HP,
    awwwww aren’t you sweet ! You admire Alex? He is eloquent right? By the way are you a male or a female?
    Baldy,
    Nice interview, you were too easy on your esteemed guest. You should interview some of those honorable Syrians standing up to the killers of the Baath party.

    Does that sound better?

    Posted by V | May 22, 2011, 7:03 am
  32. Norman and Alex

    I was joking when I told Alex that Syria had a lot to learn from Lebanon when it comes to corruption. Obviously, corruption is a problem in Lebanon as well.

    But I would not go so far as to equate Lebanon and Syria when it comes to their proximity to a free and fair democratic system. Lebanon’s politics are deeply problematic, and this blog is all about documenting and discussing the political challenges it faces. (The continued presence of the same faces, election after election, is just one issue and it’s not even a major one…) However, I do think that despite all of this, Lebanon is still considerably ahead of Syria in the development of its political system. This is not because Lebanese are more democratic. Its simply because we have had more time to try and work out the kinks. We’re still very far from achieving a sustainable system, but the point is that we’re actually trying. Egypt and Tunisia are beginning their own trajectories along that path. It’s not going to be pretty, but as Norman pointed out, it takes time.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 22, 2011, 7:05 am
  33. Alex says,
    “I assure you that a new amendment would make it to the US constitution”.
    No one who knows anything about the US Judicial and political system will ever make such a sweeping generalization that has no basis in fact except to prop up a straw man.
    The American people are free to vote for whoever they choose to cast a vote for whether it be Barack Obama , Angela Davis, Ralph Nader or the KKK grand wizard.

    As for your explanation of the Lebanese system, it shows again your desperation to divert attention by creating nonsequitors. You cannot be a greater critic of the Lebanese structure than I am but that has nothing to do with the subject at hand. The Lebanese have chosen to vote the way that they do. They have chosen to pay allegiances to feudal lords. They do not have to do so with a gun pointed to their head and their homes shelled by the goivernment. If you cannot understand the huge difference between the backwardness of the Lebanese political structure that is freely embraced by the constituents and between the current situation in Syria where an illegitimate government rules through fear and brutality then I am afraid that we have nothing to talk about.
    I understand your concern about violenceand your preference for peaceful transition. Your position, however, suffers of a fatal flaw. It is based on wishful thinking only. Your hope to have dictatorship reform itself into its negation is what Marx would have called naive and utopian. He dismissed totally the socialists not because he disagreed with their goal but because their goal was only a dream that is not predicated on a real understanding of the dynamics of history. The only way for a dictatorship to be replaced by a democratic system is to force the dictators to pack up and leave. There is no time like now to start the journey to freedom, democracy and modernity.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 22, 2011, 7:32 am
  34. GK, # 32

    Excellent commentary, well done. 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 8:00 am
  35. Sorry, GK, # 33
    QN, # 32

    Both excellent commentary, fully agree with both. 🙂

    Anybody has been driving in Lebanon lately?
    Simply awful…, the Lebanese have lost any sense of decency in their driving style, just horrendous.
    QN, your buddy ZB has failed miserably in that regard, despite all the efforts!!!
    The first thing that the Lebs should be reminded of, is that we drive on the right side of the road… They simply do not care.

    🙂

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 8:08 am
  36. HK

    No minister can transform the habits of 3 million drivers within 3 years!

    Despite that, he’s made some important strides, in my opinion. The speed traps alone are a big step, and I hope that his successor continues to implement steps to make Lebanon’s streets safer.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 22, 2011, 8:43 am
  37. QN,

    The speed traps are a nuisance and a new revenue stream more than anything else…, just like Europe’s etc.!
    The main issue is that we have to start with the basics, Lebanese have forgotten about the basics of driving, like courtesy to others and being on the right side of the road… People are utterly irresponsible in the way they drive. The speed is an issue where streets are amenable to speed, but most of Lebanon’s roads are so awful that speed becomes irrelevant. The character of the Lebanese is utterly flawed because they simply disregard others on the road and put everybody at risk. The ISf has got to launch a massive campaign going back to basics. Then you have all sorts of foreigners with shady qualifications driving huge trucks killing dozens on the roads… It’s simply freighting to be on the very busy roads, because you are basically putting your life on the line every second of the day.

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 9:09 am
  38. Well great effort QN & Alex. If anything Alex you have confirmed what Ghassan has articulated above: That you are a shameless apologist for the Baath/Bashar murderous regime.
    You and Norman make comparisons on the evolution of democracy or freedoms. Both of you forget that we do not live in 1800’s. The internet age has everyone informed on what’s happening in the free countries. Your assertions that Syrians will learn and it takes time if utter Bovine Scatalogy and an excuse.

    Bashar who still is bombing his citizens can not be trusted to be a leader of a nation; never mind a ‘reformer”. Freedom is not easy or painless. Alex people like you who are educated have been holding your country back NOT the reverse. You live in Canada and enjoy everything that the world has to offer and yet wish the reverse to Syrians (Please don’t give me that Bashar line again and 5 year soviet plans).

    As for Lebanon; if your Bashar and his father stopped meddling n it’s affairs and demarcated the borders we will be along way into achieving mutual respect between two sovereign countries.

    “As for Lebanon … you have most of the real power in the hands of the Junblatts and Jemayels and Chamouns and Hariris and Karamis, then Geagea and Aoun”

    Not that it is important but FYI; Karami, Chamoun or gemals have inconsiderable power. I see conveniently you ignored your party of God militia’s control over its segment of society( and why would not you? they follow the same logic as Assad; that they can only protect them).

    Even this logic of MP’s inheriting seats is tired logic. Yes Lebanon is feudal society and the people with money control the votes as they own most of the land and businesses…However, in western society; not everyone in enamored about running for office. So you do see a generational political parties.

    Anyways. Thank you Alex for your candid remarks. You have again proven that fear grips your thinking and you are not free. Good luck in overcoming your issues.

    Posted by danny | May 22, 2011, 10:08 am
  39. oops…
    Not:
    “So you do see a generational political parties.”

    But:”So you do see a generational political families”.

    Posted by danny | May 22, 2011, 10:10 am
  40. #36 Qifa; you are assuming that “superman Baroud” will not be the minister of Interior in next cabinet. You are wrong my friend.
    Maybe as the next president of Lebanon ZB can have a more positive influence on the people. 😀

    Posted by danny | May 22, 2011, 10:14 am
  41. Back to the Lebanon missing government:
    Bravo, QN, your previous post figured it out before the Europeans!

    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/0/f001ab6afd5766f4c2257898001cf416/Body/0.82?OpenElement&FieldElemFormat=jpg

    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&F001AB6AFD5766F4C2257898001CF416

    “Paris Says Cabinet Deadlock Linked to Syria as West Expresses Readiness to Help
    The standstill in the cabinet is the result of the upheaval in Syria, western sources said, stressing they remain adamant that Premier-designate Najib Miqati was nominated after a coup by the new parliamentary majority against Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri’s government.
    Paris informed Miqati’s advisor Joe Issa al-Khoury that it insists on its stance that the nomination came after “a forceful coup that toppled the cabinet that had emerged from the Doha accord,” French sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday.
    Syria “is now busy with its local issues. That’s why the expected results from this coup have changed and are no longer in the interest of the majority as some had estimated,” the sources said.

    They said that Miqati was incapable of forming the cabinet due to the “new status quo in Syria.”

    “For the time being, Syria can’t exercise pressure” on Miqati, the sources told al-Hayat.

    Al-Mustaqbal daily also quoted western diplomatic sources as saying that the link between the situation in Syria and the formation of the new government in Lebanon would lead the country into more vacuum and reflect negatively on the economic situation.

    They expressed concern over the vacuum but stressed that the solution lies in the hands of the Lebanese. The international community is only ready to assist in the efforts to form the cabinet, the sources told al-Mustaqbal.

    “France has informed more than one side involved in the formation that it rejects putting pressure on the premier-designate,” they said. “It understands that he is in a difficult situation but it’s important for France that a cabinet that respects international resolutions and Lebanon’s commitments is formed.””
    Beirut, 22 May 11, 08:26

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 11:26 am
  42. I have a whole list of things to comment on, but then I realized this interview brought absolutely nothing new to the table.

    I’ve already stated in previous threads that I don’t buy Alex’s arguments at all. There is absolutely no evidence that Bashar would reform in the next 5 years (because 10 years wasn’t enough).
    Violence on protesters and repression remain an inexcusable offense that Alex continues to find excuses for.
    And essentially, his main ideology seems to be that people aren’t smart enough to make their own choices (the whole “religious parties” argument, the “look at Lebanon”, the “look at Iraq” arguments).
    As Ghassan as others already pointed out, that’s a terrible viewpoint to have.
    It took the USA 200 years to get the vote to blacks and women, the US had its own civil war, etc.
    I’d absolutely hate to think that had Camille or someone like him been in power in the USA back in the 1800s, they’d have implemented some kind of dictatorship to save Americans from themselves…

    There’s a very simple concept that is universally understood when it comes to individual: You have to let people learn from their mistakes. You have to let them make their own mistakes.

    The same goes for nations.

    The most advanced nations today got where they are by making their own mistakes.

    Overbearingly presuming to protect people from themselves for their own good by robbing them of freedom and self-determination (ie dictatorship) is NEVER an acceptable excuse.

    Sorry.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 22, 2011, 12:32 pm
  43. Elias beik,

    I know you were not very serious, don’t worry.

    But my point about democracy in Lebanon not being that superior to lack of democracy in Syria is based on reality. The example I gave you is a potent one. After campaigning, after forming political coalitions … talks … debates … banners …

    At the end someone like Saad Hariri (can’t speak Arabic) leads the nation just because he is the richest and the son of his father.

    THEN … he gets “strong advice” from the US and French ambassadors that the prime minsiter of Lebanon should be their choice, and not Hariri’s.

    What use was the whole thing then? … just skip to asking the foreign power in charge of running Lebanon this year.

    Ghassan, you want me to shut up and let you (a Lebanese American ideologue who can not understand those he disagrees with) to decide on behalf of the Syrian people? … what do you know about what the Syrian people want? … How many Syrians inside Syria do you know and talk to every day? … from how many cities and backgrounds?

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 12:51 pm
  44. Ziad Baroud is a Gentleman and a pleasure. He is a breath of Fresh Air. He is decent, smart, and far from being corrupt like many others in the body polity in Lebanon.
    He could have been more creative and assertive if he had better backing. He was unable to control the security apparatus, and had no real authority over Rifi…
    The services associated with the ministry of interior are still a big mess and much remains to be done.
    Ziad Baroud knew his time was up few months ago and said publicly that he was not interested in being chosen for any ministerial position, because he knew that Michel Suleiman was desperately trying to have his son in law chosen for that job. Ziad knows that much and has given up. Too bad!

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 12:59 pm
  45. Speaking about Lebanese parties, I believe what the Lebanese forces party is doing by ratifying by-laws, opening up for all Lebanese to join regardless of their religion and allowing elections for leadership is highly commendable.
    Whether you like or dislike what they stand for, you have to appreciate that in the midst of the chaos in Lebanon and the region, this party (ex-militia) is transforming into a proper political party.

    Posted by IHTDA | May 22, 2011, 1:02 pm
  46. Alex,
    My respect for the inherent rights of individuals to voice their opinions will not allow me to ask anyone to shut up. Where did I ask you to do that?
    So you think that your opinions about rights of individuals and abuses are more valuable because you know more Syrians than I do? You cannot be serious about this, or can you. If that is your yardstick then you should never have the right to say anything about Lebanon or theUS because I know more Lebanese than you do:-) That is a crock and you know it. By this weird standard you should never comment on Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia or China for that matter because there is always someone who knows more people from these countries than you do. I would have hoped that you had a better defense for your indefensible position about why a dictatorship should be allowed to continue its brutal crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. Maybe we can revisit this topic in a year or so.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 22, 2011, 1:09 pm
  47. # 45.

    The LF are still very much a thuggish Militia, headed by a criminal mass murderer who dumped 1500 young men at sea in 86. It is a Proxy CIA Militia wall to wall. No sparadra will change that FACT.

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 1:34 pm
  48. Another thing Elias, while I don’t see much value in “democracy” in Lebanon (being seriously flawed), I surely respect freedom of speech in Lebanese politics. There is no question in my mind that most Syrians want to fight corruption and they want freedom of speech … they want Syrian television to have the same lively political debates they see on Lebanese channels.

    Ghassan,

    you keep generalizing to score points. I am speaking fro a practical perspective. And I lived for 5 years in Egypt by the way.

    When I comment on Lebanon, I am not aggressively pushing the Lebanese to adopt my favorite dreams. Did I ever challenge you on your facebook page endlessly about your views on Lebanon like you challenge me endlessly everywhere I go? … Did I shame you for your opinions the way you try to portray me like some propagandist for a regime (that kills its own people)?

    I did not say that you have no right to express your views about Syria because you do not keep in touch with enough Syrians inside Syria … I was simply suggesting that just as I can not tell you about your family members or friends anything beyond what you know, you can not tell me about what Syrians inside Syria think… I am in touch and you are not.

    You live in your own ideology … you only pay attention to information that suits you. I am open enough to say “there are many things to hate about the Syrian regime”. You can not say “there are many things that make most Syrian like Bashar Assad and want him to stay their president”

    Anyway, I will leave you to enjoy the rest of the day strictly within your own ideology.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 1:34 pm
  49. HK, I knew you would comment 😉
    As I said, whether you like or dislike them, you have to appreciate the effort. Don’t you think that all parties should follow? Only then people will have a chance to participate in politics. What are the choices today?

    Posted by IHTDA | May 22, 2011, 1:40 pm
  50. Hk…Speaking of mass murderers…It takes one to know one. 😀
    We won’t forget Sabra & Shatilla…

    Posted by danny | May 22, 2011, 1:47 pm
  51. Alex & Elias
    Thank you both for your time and efforts.
    I have the following questions to you, that I feel both of you didn’t cover:
    – You didn’t speak about the media war against Syria, to distort the image of Baschàr, the same way they done with Ḥasan Naṣrallah since 2006. That unbelievable amount of fake news that is spreading against Syria. These very images used from the first week on media that this is what the mokhàbaràt are doing in Darʿà:
    http://www.syria-news.com/readnews.php?sy_seq=118910
    but as you can see, these images are one year old, on a complete different story. This is only one of hundreds, that either happened in other dates or other countries or other reasons, but they are being used freely everywhere, combined with unknown “eyewitnesses” that are calling from everywhere in and out of Syria. Who is creating these news, and why?
    – Do you think, that ALL who had been killed and wounded up till now in Syria, had been shoot by mokhàbaràt and Shabbeeḥa? Knowing that more than 100 police (security, soldier, etc.) had been killed, and more than 1000 of them had been injured and wounded. I hope no one use the prototype idea of that police are killing each other, or that they are killing whoever is refusing to obey the orders of shooting the peaceful demonstrators. They say that “Jesmnà Labbees”! But, that doesn’t mean to believe any fake news against the regime or Bachàr. Pasting every drop of blood on the government’s shoulders is not realistic anymore. Shooting people in funerals is unbelievable for me to be done by government or under orders of Baschàr. We used to hear such news from Israel against Palestinians. Syria is notorious with it’s jails and torture, but not killing people in funerals, and for many times within the last 2 months.
    – What is the secret of that combination of snipers & cellphone cameras, in Iran, Syria, and Libya (and Yemen), all the time, ready to shoot images of dead people and transfer it right away to the media and Internet? Why we didn’t see them in ʿOmàn or Saudi Arabia or Baḥrain, even that some killings happened in the first two, and massacres happened in the third one, but there was neither snipers nor media thirsty to broadcast their short clips?
    – Every Friday, the “peaceful” protesters are starting from scratch again; they want more concessions; that is not enough anymore; it’s too late; …etc. What do you think would end that? Because I think that this is not about legitimate rights anymore, this is about pure chaos. Also, it’s not a peaceful uprising, the killing against police officials was from the first day. By the way, you didn’t mention that 17 of whom had been killed last Friday were police. So, it was violent protest. Killing poor kids and children will demonising the image of the police, why would they do it in purpose?
    Finally, I supported this uprising the first few days, and was pretty confused for the first two weeks, but I don’t see it as “calls for legitimate reforms” anymore. This is a lot more than that. The only true news that hundreds of Syrians had been killed within the last two months, but who is killing them? Did the government kill ALL of them? 80% of them? 50%? only %20 as a reacting against gun-shoots coming from the people side? Who can say that this or that is the only truth? Who can give a real proof of whatsoever happening right now? I never believed that we can make fabricated news, but it seems that “Wag the Dog” movie has a lot of reality on how anyone can create wars with faked media.

    Posted by am231 | May 22, 2011, 1:50 pm
  52. Please, not Hobeika again

    Posted by 3issa | May 22, 2011, 1:53 pm
  53. Alex,
    Please feel free to comment on any thing that I post whether on FB or any other venue. I always thought that was the purpose behind such posts.
    BTW, I would never want to decide on behalf of the Syrian people or any other people for that matter. I only stand to support the rights of all people to free expression , demonstration and dissent. The Syrians are free to embrace dictatorship if that is what they want in the same way that the Lebanese have chosen to act as sheeple, regrettably. But both should be free to renounce these positions if they so choose. Enjoy the rest of the week end. I am going to go for a jog:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 22, 2011, 2:02 pm
  54. It’s time for the great American People to dismantle their utterly corrupt Government soonest. The U.S. has to start ‘resisting’ Israel’s desires, and put U.S. interests first. What the U.S. are founded on (Constitution, Bill of Rights), and what Israel is founded on (violent ethno-Police State) are diametric opposites…Once the US have been able to rid themselves of the Israel parasite and get on with U.S. business, we all (U.S. interests and the Mideast as a whole) can get on with our lives.Israel as it currently exists is a pariah and exceedingly presumptuous before Heaven. Time to dismantle it and let the Divine hand determine its course.

    http://www.bollyn.com/solving-9-11-the-book

    Posted by HK | May 22, 2011, 2:50 pm
  55. “It’s almost fun on a Friday to go and express your point of view.”

    “The fact they don’t want even to lose their job, it shows they’re not that angry with the government.”

    This isn’t commentary, it’s obscenity.

    Posted by Robin Yassin-Kassab | May 22, 2011, 4:09 pm
  56. Alex,

    Your response to Ghassan makes it kinda hard to take you seriously. Your arguments have zero merit (as Ghassan pointed out: Claiming to know more Syrians than he does should not be the yardstick for who is qualified to comment).

    I’ll throw another one at you. By your logic, because Syria would be a mess, Assad has to stay for the time being…Right? Even if this means cracking down on a few malcontents with methods unacceptable to the civilized world – the universal declaration of human rights is called “universal” for a reason. It does not vary from country to country.

    Well, then, by your logic, Israel is fully justified in its wars on Lebanon and Gaza, and its crackdown on the Palestinians for the past decades. I mean, the Palestinian are divided amongst themselves, unable to govern themselves (nevermind that Israel is in large part responsible for this, not unlike Assad towards the Syrian people, to take this analogy all the way). The Palestinians also have “religious parties” (Hamas), which by your standards is reason enough to crackdown on them and ban their freedoms, rule them by force and declare that they are not ready for democracy.

    Hypocrisy full circle, ladies and gentlemen.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 22, 2011, 4:30 pm
  57. And I gotta agree with Robin’s comment #55. Making light of Friday protests and claiming that one is not angry with the government because one is terrified of losing his job is obscene. I can’t think of a better word for it.

    I almost wish Mr. Otrakji’s job and livelihood were threatened in his adopted home of Canada, on account of his views here. That’s be ironic. “You will be fired if you keep posting nonesense on the Qifa Nabki website.” 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 22, 2011, 4:32 pm
  58. Robin

    Why? … here is one of the most outspoken supporters of many demonstrators (to the non secular ones at least) … look at him describing how fun demonstrating is, even funerals!

    I don’t think I was having 5% of the fun that gentleman there had describing demonstrations.

    For your information, I was speaking about those who are not angry enough to demonstrate and risk their job, their life .. their time.

    And my comment was mostly in reference to Wednesday …when the opposition called for a general strike in Syria and almost no one answered … So I accepted Elias’ suggestion that some would have liked to participate but did not because they were afraid of losing their jobs.

    Posted by Alex | May 22, 2011, 5:23 pm
  59. Elias,
    You body language told the real story 🙂 although you tried very much to suppress it. With not much success…

    Posted by Amir in Tel Aviv | May 22, 2011, 6:02 pm

  60. These are some of the “peaceful” demonstrators in last Friday, they are calling to free Idlib from the gangs of the Syrian government! And they are having roses and flowers in their hands!!!

    Posted by am231 | May 22, 2011, 6:05 pm
  61. Amir, don’t leave us hanging, at least those of us who are not good at guessing and/or reading minds. What is the real story that Elias’ body language told?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 6:17 pm
  62. All the arguments presented here and in the bloggingheads reciprocal interview — at least those of this thread presented with respect and logic — have merit.
    If I were to chose one argument/fact that undermines in a pretty definitive manner hope in Pres. Bashar Al-Assad, it is that if 10 years are not enough to begin a convincing process of reform that is satisfactory to the Syrian people (and thus leading the initial eruption of protests) then at the very least the President lacks the true leadership, competence, drive, and effectiveness to lead those needed reforms going forward. Regardless of the obstacles and regional issues complicating manners the President should have had the vision and courage to get something going. Having missed these opportunities for 10 years reflects on either his lack of will or on his inability to break from the hold of the old-timers who are holding back reform.
    A bold move is needed, and regrettably had been missed in a few recent opportunities for him to speak to the people in clear unambiguous ways.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 6:32 pm
  63. Well it seems that Alex has done it again… this has the makings of another 700+ discussion thread.

    I’ll try to respond later tonight.

    Message to HK: Please no Hobeika on this thread, ok? And everyone else, try to be respectful of each other.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 22, 2011, 7:01 pm
  64. Matters not manners, of course, in my post just above…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 22, 2011, 7:34 pm
  65. HK,

    I’m sorry to break the news to you, but a large percentage of Jewish and non-Jewish Americans are so pro-Israel, they’re climbing all over themselves to show their solidarity with Israel, especially in the face of Obama’s mention of the “holy” ’67 “lines”.

    You’ll have your work cut out for you if you think you’ll change people’s minds.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 22, 2011, 8:42 pm
  66. The “Palestinian State” Obama Describes in his latest speech packed with utter lies, Is NOT the West Bank and Gaza…
    “The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and
    contiguous state.”
    Obushma is referring to the silent knowledge shared by all Washington insiders when they speak of the “two-state solution,” they mean Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian Option has Always Been Zionism’s Plan and is still today.

    Posted by HK | May 23, 2011, 12:21 am
  67. QN, # 64

    Hi, Hi, Sir:

    I’ll have a scathing response ready for the next thread. 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 23, 2011, 12:36 am
  68. Alex: “For your information, I was speaking about those who are not angry enough to demonstrate and risk their job, their life .. their time.”

    The very fact that one has to weigh speaking one’s mind against being imprisoned and/or losing one’s job is a good illustration of the problem in Syria.

    Every time we talk with relatives in Yarmouk over the phone, we can never get past banalities and generalities, because they’re afraid to speak frankly over the telephone.

    I just don’t see this changing at all with this regime in power.

    Posted by sean | May 23, 2011, 4:10 am
  69. Honestly, the only reason I watched the video was to put a face on Camille. How old is this kid and what makes him qualified to discuss Syria?

    Nevertheless, here is how the video went for those not having the patience to watch the whole thing.

    Elias asks specific questions.

    Camille starts to answer and lets his mind wonder and wastes time, never really answering the questions while going off on needless discussions that prove he has friends in Syria that give him information. Question never answered.

    Elias asks another specific question.

    Repeat ad nauseum.

    If thats what makes him qualified, then I have a whole list of Syrians living abroad that can at least answer your questions, Elias.

    Posted by CultofAssad | May 23, 2011, 5:20 am
  70. I enjoyed listening to this, but Otrakji is about as convincing as the former military dictatorships in Taiwan or Brazil or Indonesia or Turkey or Argentina or Spain – the defence of totalitarnian regimes is always the manufactured fear of freedom and its risks. What recent events made must clearer is that Syrian state is an Alawi State – and the defenders of the Alawi State are saying that it is either (1) Maintain the Aparthied State where rights are determined by which community you belong to or (2) a Big War as the Alawi Army tries to kill relentlessly to re impose its order. But anyone can see the regime is dying and is doomed – as every other unsustainable racist oppression based on guns and tanks is also doomed. It isn’t just that it is unjust and horrible – it is economically not sustainable in a global economy, there just isn’t any chance of a long future for any apartheid regime – be it Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, Palestine – just so sad so many people suffer so much in the meantime…

    Posted by Jean Estiphan | May 23, 2011, 6:21 am
  71. I know exactly what you were saying, Camille, and it was disgusting. I don’t need a further explanation. The very best one can say for it is that it shows a collossal lack of imagination and an enormous class prejudice. Children are being murdered by your gangster friends. You can’t conceal your contempt for the victims. You are a little Syrian Goebbels.

    Posted by Robin Yassin-Kassab | May 23, 2011, 7:04 am
  72. Sorry Elias…No slight against your ‘amazing” interview; however your guest has exposed himself to be an empty suit. Every comment he has made has been atrociously biased and reeking of Bashar worship.

    There will be no 700 with Alex. He has not said anything of substance to convince anyone. He is in total denial and a shameless worshiper of a blood thirsty tyrant.

    Posted by danny | May 23, 2011, 7:56 am
  73. Another day of safety, security and prosperity, brought to Lebanon by The Party of God and its heroes.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 23, 2011, 8:37 am
  74. QN,

    This thread is not going to 700 comments because Camille’s position has finally emerged despite the obfuscation:
    I am highly risk averse and don’t think the situation in Syria is bad enough for those that concern me to justify the risks associated with serious democratic reform in Syria. I think the Syrian people value stability more than the paltry advantages and huge risks that “democracy” will bring (see Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt).

    Posted by AIG | May 23, 2011, 11:25 am
  75. Alex,

    You call this “stability”? ANYTHING would be a step up from the current regime…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 23, 2011, 11:33 am
  76. Alex,

    You probably realize by now that insisting on a “international law” solution to the Israeli-Syrian problem is a strategy that has severely backfired. You did not take into account the fact that the world now expects countries to adhere to “international law” also in their internal practices. Frankly, I am surprised at how quickly the Europeans have escalated their sanctions to include Bashar Assad. In the future, if you want “international law” as a basis for an agreement, only a Syrian government with clean hands would be a credible partner.

    Posted by AIG | May 23, 2011, 11:35 am
  77. An interesting take on the “demographic problem” facing Israel.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ME24Ak01.html

    Posted by AIG | May 23, 2011, 12:00 pm
  78. AIG,

    I don’t think that article is appropriate on these types of websites without a disclaimer warning Jihadist readers of the possible brain damage caused.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 23, 2011, 12:25 pm
  79. I have to say this:
    If you cannot make your point using logic, facts, history, and persuasion without resorting to personal attacks, then your arguments are worthless and betray either fanaticism or bumbling incompetence on your part. Enough already.
    Respect is owed to everyone.
    Those who don’t deserve it will have their words and actions so indicate. Nothing more is needed.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 23, 2011, 12:31 pm
  80. … addressed (obviously) only to those engaging in personal attacks and negative epithet-throwing

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 23, 2011, 12:34 pm
  81. hey, live from Dublin, the black-irish president of US is “back home”, dixit himself. This is ridiculous.

    Posted by 3issa | May 23, 2011, 12:57 pm
  82. Obama’s private genealogist is very gifted, tomorrow, he will proove that Obama’s has Tibetan, South-Sudanese and of course Ashkenazi descent 😉

    Posted by 3issa | May 23, 2011, 1:02 pm
  83. It’s about time to remind everyone of the most Infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant & Worldwide. This thread is getting Nowhere 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 23, 2011, 1:25 pm
  84. HP,
    Sorry, HP, but we can live without a pontificating attitude.
    Respect cannot be imposed. You have to earn respect. As many pointed out, the interview was a string of obscenities coupled with lies and half truths. As such, he forfeited any claims for earning such respect by his own actions from my pov.
    With all due respect to your opinion, I strongly disagree.

    QN’s gamble in this interview, on the other hand, is a step backward to his site which enjoyed popularity and appreciation not because of the number of comments that it can generate.

    Posted by iceman | May 23, 2011, 1:35 pm
  85. It seems that the Zionists are defaulting to the “eternal, insoluble conflict” meme. They really are getting nervous….Advice to the Palestinians: Return to negotiations with no preconditions and move forward with the September UN resolution. And state everyday, “Once borders are set, everything else can be worked out.” The Ziocons will shut up or zip up…. 🙂
    Furthermore, they might resort to the Jordanian option soonest…

    Posted by HK | May 23, 2011, 1:49 pm
  86. AP #78

    Is it Djihadist-like to consider that the article mentionned by AIG is not relevant, and to an extent, just cheap propaganda?

    Is it Djihadist-like to suggest you to read carefully this article…
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0108/1224287042487.html

    and p.10-11 of this report

    Click to access book1749.pdf

    Is it Djihadist-like to think that you have no clue of what Djihad is?

    Is it Djihadist-like to say that you are a moron?

    Posted by 3issa | May 23, 2011, 2:38 pm
  87. AIG;

    The demographic trends on the article you posted are not realistic. They assume current treads will continue linearly but of course non-linear effects will kick in…in the very least Israel’s birth rates will be reigned-in as the country becomes over-populated and the population more educated as is already happening to the Arab sector in Israel.

    I do agree Arab countries like Egypt and Syria are facing a demographic disaster, no running away from that.

    G

    Posted by G | May 23, 2011, 2:42 pm
  88. Ya 3issa, actually, Obama has Lebanese roots. How else would he find a way to make himself related to virtually everyone and every country?
    A Chinese angle will be a challenge for him but I’m sure he’ll think of something.
    Hey, this is an old trick…
    The Phoenecians invented it 😉

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 23, 2011, 2:57 pm
  89. Iceman, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of you, or at least not only of you. But ok, I agree to respectfully disagree, standing by my implied premise that a more powerful and effective/definitive rebuttal is one that wins on its own merit without the crutch of personal characterizations.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | May 23, 2011, 3:02 pm
  90. HP,

    Again I was not concerned whether you implied me or someone else. It is the least of my concerns

    Further, I stand by all the comments I made as relevant and necessary, including the one that QN removed as it mostly exposes the situation we’re facing. There was nothing worth rebutting in the interview, or even wasting time on. And also, I believe most participants’ time is valuable not to waste with such activity.

    And as QN advised, I’ll take break from this thread till it is over, as I have more important things to worry about.

    Posted by iceman | May 23, 2011, 3:12 pm
  91. G,

    You missed the point of the article. The secular Jewish population has a fertility rate of 2.6. They are already rich and the number has not come down.

    As for Israel being crowded that is true. So are Hong Kong and Singapore.

    Posted by AIG | May 23, 2011, 4:33 pm
  92. 3issa,

    I found the discrepancy in the article you linked to: it included both Israel and Palestine. The majority of Jews in Israel will remain for long time. Don’t hold your breath unless you’re suicidal.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 23, 2011, 8:02 pm
  93. AIG/AP/3issa…
    I would hate to deflate your ballon but the article that AIG linked to (The Asia Times) is totally and absolutely incorrect. It took only one look at the graphs to realize that something is very wrong.No population of 15 million can have more young people that that of 79 million.

    I have no idea where the author gets these figues when he specifically refers to the UN Population Division. My only explanation is that the writer must have transposed figures but even then common sense should have immediately raised a red flag.
    Here are the correct figures from the study that the article points to:

    Total Pop (2100) Turkey…79.2 million
    ……………..Iran…..62.1 million
    ……………..Israel…15.3 million

    Population aged 15-24:
    Turkey 8.333 million 10.5%
    Iran…6.572 million 10.6%
    Israel.1.697 million 11.1%

    (The above figures are based on the Medium scenario)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 23, 2011, 8:34 pm
  94. I was looking at all the exchanges and i thought to put in a story,

    If you have an old car that is bad on gas and not safe for you and your children ,(( The Syria regime system )),and you want to change that because your kids (( The Syrian people)) kept after you on how much they hate the car that wastes gas (( Corruption))and want a good car that is safe and good on gas (( New political system )),would you go out and get the neighbour’s old car (( The Lebanese or the Iraqi system))that the neighbour is trying hard to change or you would go to the rich neighborhood (( The US and the EU)) and look for a new safe car that is used and liked there, safe and liked by all the children, (( new political system that is good for all the people,))

    I would go West and get the right system,

    Syria’s political system needs change but Syria should not change one bad political system with another bad system, Syria and Syrians deserve the best system and that is in my opinion the American political, legal and economic systems.

    So Syria should seek help from non government agencies in the US to tailor fit a new system.

    Posted by Norman | May 23, 2011, 8:51 pm
  95. Norman,

    The challenge is for the syrian people to be able to get to the point where they can have the opportunity and be able to make a choice. As it stands right now the “old car” refuses to let go period, very afraid of being replaced with anything at all, let alone a new “safe new one”.

    On the flip side, that old car might run out of fuel with no gas stations in site for over hundreds of kms.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 23, 2011, 9:17 pm
  96. Norman,
    No one has made any suggestions either outright or implicit about what the Syrian people should choose . The only issue is whether people should have the right to dissent and whether the government, any government anywhere in the world has the right to use the armed forces to silence those that disagree with the dictator by force. Armies have no role to play in civil discourse.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 23, 2011, 9:18 pm
  97. Meant “sight” instead of “site” in the last sentence in #96.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 23, 2011, 9:19 pm
  98. GK,

    According to the study, it shows Israel will have a population of 24 million by the year 2100. Where did you get 15 million and where did you get the 1.697 million between 15-24? Reading off the graph it shows the 15-24 popl to be close to 4 million (say, 3.6 or 3.7 million).

    In any case, I don’t have the data to dispute his findings…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 23, 2011, 9:21 pm
  99. Ras Beirut,

    The Syrian president wants reform and wants to change the way the system works, but needs time and as you can not change the car in the middle of the highway you can not change the system in the middle of a crises that many Syrians want the president to tackle and restore safety first,

    GK,

    I do not know how much you know about the Syrian police , they have been traffic police only, The hated security cervices are the ones used in Syria to restore order and because of what they did in Dara and other places, the army became the only hope to restore order before changing the system.

    Posted by Norman | May 23, 2011, 9:30 pm
  100. AP
    That is my point. I have no idea where he got his figures. All what know is that he has mentioned the studies by the UN poulation division which supplies the figures that I have.

    Even if he has combined Palestine with Israel to get 24 million can you possibly buy into the fact that a 24 million people will have more inthe age bracket of 15-24 , in absolute terms than a poulation that is 4 times as large. The graphs and the conclusions make no sense what so ever but what is important they do not agree with the figures of the study that he is using as a source.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 23, 2011, 9:36 pm
  101. AP ,
    The more that I dig into what the author of the linked to article had in mind the more absurd the figures look.
    The total Israeli population of 24 million is based on the least likely scenario that no one takes seriously: a constant rate of growth. But it gets even more absurd. At constant rates then Turkey will be 116 million and the occupied territories 55 million.
    But even then if one is to combine the young Israeli and young Palestinians into one group (which is absurd) they would still be smaller than the young Turks. I am not a reader of this publication but if you are then I would suggest sending them a note asking them to either spell out their assumptions or correct their figures. This article is very misleading.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 23, 2011, 10:04 pm
  102. yeah look have to agree with most, just after the fourth or fifth major question in the interview, You get a strong sense of insecurity and hypocrisy from Camille Ortakji. Sean did a good job pointing out the absurdities in his example.
    Look its one thing to be persuaded by the facts, but its another to twist the facts to suit a selfish agenda. I’d refrain from giving my opinion as to where Camille belongs.
    I dont know what others are feeling when they see the you tube videos coming out of Syria showing people slain for protesting, ordinary folk, men,women, children killed indiscriminately.It is a crushing view to the soul and my heart goes out to the Syrian people.
    Thats all Im going to say about this….we all know Camille will say the same things and fall in many hypocritical pitfalls no matter how many interviews he sits.
    When obfuscation is cleared and everything is said, there is really nothing left to do but express your pain and anger towards the apologists in Syria and out, and especially to those Lebanese bastards who are defending the regime because it suits their narrow selfish interests.

    Posted by maverick | May 23, 2011, 10:14 pm
  103. GK,

    Why did you have to rain on our “Zionist” parade?:o(

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 23, 2011, 10:40 pm
  104. AIG;

    See this very thorough UN report on the population growth trends for the next 100-300 years:

    Click to access WorldPop2300final.pdf

    It makes a very interesting read, world population is predicted to stabilize at 9 billion while Europe’s decline will supposedly stop and begin to grow back in the year 2100.

    As for Israel vs. the surrounding countries, in 2100 all countries in the region will have stable populations, with median age at 45:
    Iran: 100million
    Israel: 10million
    Syria: 35million
    Turkey: 90 million

    As for percentage of youngsters, they do the statistics but only globally and regionally, but the median age is, as I said, similar for all the countries I listed.

    Sorry man, the article you posted just doesn’t make any sense.

    G

    Posted by G | May 23, 2011, 11:28 pm
  105. Robin,

    Wow, I really used to like a lot of your previous writings, but your comments here are hateful and outright hysterical.

    Alex has a point of view that he is offering in a civilized and peaceful way. He is not shy to criticize the regime when he sees fit, and I think that his posts and interview have been as informative and balanced as one can hope any person to be.

    Taking things out of contest and chasing every letter and every pause and every gesture Alex makes with severe and savage attack like what you’ve been lately doing can only mean that you have no real argument. People with rational and meaningful arguments to make do not need all that steam to cover up for the lack of substance.

    I’ve been getting similar attacks that use guilt, shame, and utter rage for daring to voice my opinion (which is similar in many ways to that of Alex). The “democratic,” “peaceful,” “civilized,” and “non sectarian” “revolutionists” (yes, all in quotation marks) all seem to want nothing more than to shut us up. I received an email from a friend saying that “95% of Sunnis want the regime toppled”. I asked him well why isn’t Halab and Damascus rising with you then, and he said that they were “cowards”. Well, sorry, you are delusional when you can clearly see that the two largest cities in the country, both predominantly Sunni are not buying into your “revolution” and then you claim to be talking on behalf of the Syrian People.

    I think you should calm down, Robin, and let’s all keep to our sanity and rationality. We have a lot at stake and a lot in common so let’s not blow it all up.

    Posted by Averroes | May 23, 2011, 11:29 pm
  106. Posted by HK | May 24, 2011, 12:19 am
  107. G
    with all due respect the UN study that you link to is already 7 years old. The general trends have not changes much but nontheless the UN has updated the statistics a number of times since then. The 2010 update is the most recent and the population will surpass the 9 billion mark easily.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 24, 2011, 12:41 am
  108. Averroes,
    You seem to confuse two separate ideas. The right for a people to demonstrate is an intrinsic right that is even more sacred when the protesters/demonstrateres/ dissenters are a minorityWhether the protesters represent 0.01 % or whether they represent 80% is immaterial. They have the right to express themselves without any fear. Whenevr that right is violated by anyone anywhere in the world we have a moral duty to stand up for the abused.
    The other point is simply whether one should support an authoritarian dictatorship that is brutal and that is based on personality worship and that is willing to violate every single clause in the UDHR. Again I submit that we have the right to denounce in the strongest terms such illegitimate governance.
    Believe me no one has an interest in silencing you or Alex or anyone else for that matter. The more you articulate the position that is anti history then the greater and the clearer are the anomalies. So go at it. But remember that I have the right and the duty to (1) support the right to dissent and (2) I have the obligation to oppose totalitarianism by every fiber of my being.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 24, 2011, 1:09 am
  109. GK,

    Averroes is just an example of the hypocritical stance of some Syrians. He is for democracy and freedom of speech everywhere except Syria.

    He is against Islamic parties but supports the Iranian regime and Hamas. These guys have lost even the shame of being incoherent.

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 1:43 am
  110. http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1958502435802&oid=156870137707089&comments

    AIG, you and your “country” are the very definition of hypocrisy.

    Posted by Averroes | May 24, 2011, 4:03 am
  111. AIG,
    Consider yourself to be lucky that you do not understand Arabic because if you did then you would have had to listen to the self serving interpretations of history all over the world . All developments in the world since 1948 have been the result of Zionist and American conspiracies.
    I wonder whether there was history prior to 1948? Maybe it was the Jews that had plotted for Arab colonization of vast people and lands spread over three continents? And what about the rise of the nation state? Who do you think benefited from that? Why of course it was the Jews that did it. They were already working to establish Israel.lol.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 24, 2011, 4:35 am
  112. GK;

    You have no idea how deep the conspiracy runs. In fact, we Jews rebelled against the Romans and did the entire exodus thingy during the 1st millennium with the sole purpose of dispossessing the Palestinians in the 2nd millennium.

    We exist only to spite y’all.

    G

    Posted by G | May 24, 2011, 5:14 am
  113. This article in The National might suggest an explanation for the deaths of Syrian security forces:

    In the two months since an anti-government uprising began in Syria, more than 120 members Syrian police and soldiers have been killed, authorities say.

    If that number is correct, the Syrian government has lost as many security forces since March as the US military has in Afghanistan since the start of the year – 127 killed in action – and more than the British army has lost in any single year during the decade-long Afghan war.

    Officials say that scale of violence is clear evidence that Syria is facing an insurgency by Islamist terrorists.

    Civil rights activists in Syria acknowledge religious militants are likely to have been involved in some killings. They cite a handful of well-publicised atrocities in which the bodies of soldiers were mutilated. There have also been claims of mosques calling for jihad as security units face off against demonstrators.

    But residents say the reality is typically far more mundane, especially in the tribal regions where many of the attacks against government forces appear to have occurred.

    Rather than a conspiracy of Islamic fundamentalists, supplied with weapons and cash by Syria’s enemies, local inhabitants and tribe members say many of those shooting at the security services are motivated by traditions of tribal justice and dignity, self-defence, a sense of powerlessness and years of pent up anger and frustration.

    …”If you kill someone from a tribe and the government doesn’t deliver justice, then the tribe will see justice is done in its own way, which means blood-for-blood,” a member of one of Syria’s major clans said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his remarks. “My people believe in revenge,” he continued. “If one of the tribe is shot by a member of the security services and the killer is not properly punished by the government, then another security man will be killed to settle the score. It’s simple: an eye-for-an-eye.”

    Posted by sean | May 24, 2011, 5:44 am
  114. hey HK, finally, Shawkat is in the loop

    The 10 join another 13 regime heavyweights who were hit with EU sanctions on May 10 over the brutal repression of anti-government protesters.

    “””
    Assad headlines the list published in the EU’s Official Journal one day after EU foreign ministers approved the measures at a meeting in Brussels.

    The new figures include Dawud Rajiha, chief of staff of the armed forces, who is accused in the Official Journal of being “responsible for the military involvement in violence against peaceful protesters.”

    Asif Shawkat, the deputy chief of staff for security and reconnaissance, is said to be “involved in violence against the civilian population.
    “””

    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=274355

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 9:16 am
  115. Halleluiah…, it’s about time that the assassin in Chief Asef Shawkat is singled out. I hope he will be indicted by STL soonest, and when he is finally convicted, vintage Dom Pérignon Galore will be the order of the day…

    🙂

    Posted by HK | May 24, 2011, 10:12 am
  116. HK,

    Make up your mind dude! Do you trust the STL or NOT?
    Do you think STL is a CIA tool as well as Asef but he is sanctioned as well. Make up your freaking mind!

    Posted by danny | May 24, 2011, 10:44 am
  117. Looooooool

    Good spot, danny.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 24, 2011, 10:59 am
  118. dontgetit, I’m waiting for your update for 8 hours now. Is there something wrong with the glorious resistance? Are they facing any trouble in wiping out evil from Lebanon?

    Not sure if I will be able to sleep without your confirmation…

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 11:30 am
  119. QN,

    I am so glad that danny Boon makes you laugh 🙂
    Don’t you think that some “Halvallah” friends never had a falling out before?
    You should go and visit the Halvallah Cemetery, you will be very very surprised! 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 24, 2011, 11:35 am
  120. You know, I’m normally not one to indulge in hyperbole about Zionist conspiracies and the such, but how does the US Congress expect us to take it seriously, and think of the USA as a fair arbiter for peace when one sees the ridiculous displays these Senators and Congressmen indulge in whenever an Isareli PM comes to visit.
    I cringe when I read a headline like “Rapturous reception for Netanyahu in Congress”, and descriptions that involve “Over 2 dozen standing ovations”.
    Seriously?

    I mean, I fully understand that Israel and the USA are close allies. But this sounds more like adulation and prostration. It’s not like Netanyahu killed Bin Laden in single-handed combat, or signed a peace treaty, or single-handedly brought the US economic downturn to an end, or cured cancer or someshit…

    I mean come on!

    And then, when the President makes a speech in which he even remotely appears to sound somewhat grounded and realistic, people get up in arms.

    I expect this kind of BS from the followers of Hassan Nassrallah or Bashar Assad. Ridiculous “he can do no wrong” adulation.
    But not from the US congress.

    Shameful.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 12:45 pm
  121. The Lebanese economy has hit the roug spot that I have been warning about for a while. All metrics are pointing south and the future does not look good.
    It is next to impossible to envision a scenario where the Lebanese economy will grow at a faster rate than the rate of interest that has to be paid on the sovereign debt. This simply means that Debt?GDP will only grow and that there will never be any adequate funds to spend on the vast social needs of the country.
    Lebanon needs to take some very painful economic measures if the country is to stand a chance of avoiding major dislocations. Unfortunately very few , if any, of our politicians have either the interest or the knowledge to tackle tis most important of issues.

    Those interested in specific simple projections about what the future holds might want to look at my recent post on this matter:

    http://rationalrepublic.blogspot.com/2011/05/can-lebanese-politicians-save-economy.html

    The above can also be found on Yalibnan.com and as of tonight as a podcast on ramblings11.mypodcast.com

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 24, 2011, 12:52 pm
  122. All developments in the world since 1948 have been the result of Zionist and American conspiracies.

    GK,

    Thanks for being a free-thinker. Does it hurt?;)

    BTW – Are Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad still good pals with Assad Jr?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 24, 2011, 1:03 pm
  123. Obumbler And Netenyahu are cynical, it is just another piece of theater with Washington and Jerusalem co-authoring the script…and Congress is utterly corrupt and beholden to AIPAC cash…
    Obama is reverting to his standard game of making dramatic verbal gestures that he has NO intention of following up with action…
    He is simply buying time. Utterly Cynical? Yes. Strategically viable? – No. Sellable politically at home? – Yes. Will it get him through the Arab Revolution and the 2012 election? – he surely presumes ‘Yes.’ Does it carry grave risks for the US national interests, ones that grow as time elapses? – Yes, of course. But when has Barack Obushma ever shown signs that he loses sleep over such concerns. It’s yet another Non-event in the long history of the virtual Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process.’ Yet another non-event in the endless floundering that for decades has been American ‘strategy’ in the Middle East; except now the rip tides have greatly strengthened….

    Posted by HK | May 24, 2011, 1:10 pm
  124. GK,

    Since you’re more open-minded than most, what do you think of the following speech?

    I respect your opinion.

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/93438/Full-Text-Of-Speech-By-PM-Netanyahu-To-A-Joint-Meeting-Of-The-U.S.-Congress.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 24, 2011, 1:31 pm
  125. BV,

    You should watch the Bibi speech. As they said on CNN, it was a “love fest”. It really warmed my cynical heart.

    I think you do not appreciate the depth of the special relationship between Israel and the US. You cannot expect the US to be fair or impartial. Israelis did not attack the Munich Olympics or the Achille Lauro or blow up the Marines in Beirut. Nor have they criticized the killing of Bin Laden.

    In the same way, I do not expect any Arab country to be a fair arbitrator also.

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 1:44 pm
  126. I’m not GK, but I’ll offer my 2 cents on Netanyahu’s speech.

    Aside from the silly displays from the US Congress (which really is their own doing and fault), I think there really isn’t much new in the speech itself.

    Netanyahu has re-stated his position that:
    1- No on 67 borders.
    2- No on Jerusalem.
    3- No on Refugees.
    4- PA must recognize Israel as a Jewish state (with all the demographic implications thereof).

    And he’s stated before (and again today) that Israel is willing to make painful concessions, in the name of peace (although, he has yet to list out what these concessions are).

    I have argued before that now is the best time for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to come to the table (in light of the Arab spring and some other factors) and make something happen.
    Sadly, I don’t think the 2 sides really see that opportunity the way I do. Or if they see it, they prefer the status quo, thinking it is in their advantage (it’s not, IMHO).

    But back to the speech. If you boil out all the diplomatic-speak, reaffirmation of friendship, Al-Qaeda talk (you and I both know Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with the Palestinians for the most part), the 4 or 5 points I listed above are really the same as Netanyahu has stated over and over in the past few years.

    Neither him nor Abbas have brought any kind of groundbreaking proposals to the world. Something earth-moving, or even some kind of big change in position, or whatever you wanna call it.

    Do you agree?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 1:49 pm
  127. The Swiss government announced tonight the freezing of Bashar Assad’s assets in the CH.
    IAEA announced today that the Deir El-Zour structure bombed in 2007 was a nuclear reactor…
    What’s next? 🙂

    Posted by HK | May 24, 2011, 1:55 pm
  128. AIG,

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not “expecting” the US to be fair. I stated that I understand fully that Israel and the USA are allies. Very solid allies.

    I do not speak here as a kind of bitter arab, believe me. There are plenty of those who will rant and rave about Americans being beholden to AIPAC or Zionist conspiracies. That wasn’t really my point at all. I don’t care about that.

    I was looking at it from a decorum point of view. The “Love fest” as you so rightly pointed out is kind of disproportionate. Don’t you think? I mean, look at it as a neutral observer. Do the PM of Britain get that kind of rousing reception? The UK has been the US’s closest ally since before the state of Israel was founded. Yet I don’t see this ridiculous groveling when Cameron is in town.

    Like I said, I’m all for applauding a speech if one agrees with it. I’m all for standing ovations when the recipient has contributed something major (killing Bin Laden, curing Cancer, signing a peace accord). But come on! What has Bibi done to deserve this? Even the US president doesn’t get that kind of applause from his own congress. Neither does anyone else that I can tell (no American and no visiting dignitary, as far as I can tell).

    Isn’t that kind of weird?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 1:55 pm
  129. PS: As I said above, I expect that kind of ridiculous behavior from the adoring fans of Bashar, Khamenei or Nassrallah.
    The old “With our blood we serve you ” adulation and silliness.
    I have always found that kind of behavior ridiculous. NO single man is that perfect that adoring fans should prostrate themselves at his feet. No religious leader, no supreme ayatollah, no resistance leader, and certainly not Bibi…

    But again, this is no knock on Bibi per se. It’s more an observation about the US Congress….

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 1:58 pm
  130. BV,

    The Congress was not “loving” Bibi. Olmert got the exact same reception several years ago. They were loving Israel. Bibi is just its representative. “Israel” is a concept that the US congress adores, like “liberty” or “freedom”. The concept they have one can argue is simplistic but it is the following:
    1) Extremely loyal allies
    2) Western and democratic
    3) Do not burn American flags
    4) A small state surrounded by angry and America hating Arabs that survives in spite of all its problems.
    5) If the US had a 51st state in the middle east, it would look like Israel

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 2:09 pm
  131. Sorry. I didn’t mean Bibi personally above. As you said, any representative of Israel gets that “love fest”.

    My point applied to Israel in general and how congress seems to react to it with adulation, when they don’t seem to give anyone else this kind of reception (not even their own, or any other visiting allies).

    There are other “liberty and freedom” concepts out there embodied in other countries. I fully understand your explanations. I am not disagreeing here. Just making an observation. The US congress doesn’t even heap this kind of adoration on our own 50 states. But that 51st seems to be “special”. I understand all this “root for the little guy, David v Goliath” mentality. I really do. Americans love to support the underdog. But I find this conduct unbecoming of a US Congress.
    As I said, I expect these kinds of behaviors from “ignorant” fanatics, chanting at a Nassrallah rally. There is something undignified about it, in my humble opinion.

    But let’s move on. It was a silly observation. Not really something to discuss. I am more interested in you and AK’s take on Bibi’s speech (as mentioned earlier). I offered a bit of my take on it. Curious if you think different. See above.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 2:39 pm
  132. AP
    The short answer is that there was nothing in the Netanyahu speech that was unexpected either the first half or was it 2/3 or the later part about the Palestinian Israei question. There were no new offers but there were no new conditions , he has simply failed to advance the ball.
    BTWI thought that the weakest part is the argument presented in terms of facts on the groud and the issue of security. The facts on the ground argument is the most circular if I have ever heard any. Is he really saying that the 1967 war was planned by Israel in order to establish new facts on the ground that it will later on use to defend its position:-)
    I am no military person but I think that it is laughable when in the age of smart bombs, drones, missiles and supersonic jets one makes an argument about security in terms of a mile here and half a mile there.
    The question of trust is essential but trust is a two way street. Why should a sovereign Palestine entrust its borders to Israeli soldiers in the Jordan valley?
    On a personal level I have never had any problem with demiliterized states provided their security is guaranteed. Hell why waste valuable resources on the military? The rub is who is going to be the guarantor?
    Overall the speech was forgettable. It has failed to break new grounds.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | May 24, 2011, 2:51 pm
  133. Going back to the speech.

    And going back to the conversation I had with AIG a week or so ago, about how I felt the Palestinian reconciliation was actually an opportunity (not a closed-door) for negotiation…

    Just read this:
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress imposed “impossible conditions” on the Palestinians, Gaza’s Hamas rulers said on Tuesday.

    Hamas government spokesperson Taher al-Nunu told AFP the speech proved that Netanyahu “doesn’t want any peace process in the region and that he is setting impossible conditions for the Palestinians to meet.

    Aside from the basic platitude, I find it somewhat interesting that the unspoken implication here is that Hamas WOULD or MIGHT talk to Israel if there were “possible conditions”. Not to mention an implicit acceptance of the 67 borders…

    Am I reading too much into this?

    I mean, maybe I am. But it immediately struck me that here was Hamas, talking about 67 borders and about impossible conditions set by Israel, as opposed to “Our goal is to reclaim ALL of Palestine” and “We don’t recognize a state of Israel”.

    Am I wishful-reading here? Maybe. I don’t know. But just maybe there is something to my theory that with Syria in turmoil, Hamas is looking away from Iran/Syria and towards a more reasonable Palestinian national agenda?

    I see several subtle signs so far:
    1- Hamas did criticize Assad’s crackdown. Which surprised me (unlike, say, Hezbollah).
    2- The reconciliation with Fatah and acceptance to stay out of government itself, and acceptance of the PLO/Abbas being in charge of negotiating with Israel.
    3- The implicit recognition of an Israeli negotiation in the above statement (only the conditions are impossible, so far).
    4- The implicit recognition of the ’67 borders in the statement above.

    It’s only been a couple of weeks. Let’s see if more signs of the above theory continue to surface…Or maybe I haven’t had my morning coffee yet and need a solid wake-up!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 2:55 pm
  134. Oops. Forgot to quote the part about the ’67 borders in the Hamas quote above:

    Nunu said Netanyahu was “trying to deceive the world by speaking of the possibility of recognizing a Palestinian state while destroying its foundations by refusing to withdraw to the 1967 borders or to withdraw from Jerusalem, and by refusing the return of the refugees.”

    I guess my point was that the items this guy is listing are not the usual “Hamas” points, but rather sound a lot like the Abbas/PA points (even if those are still miles apart from Israel’s): 67 borders, refugees, Jerusalem.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 2:59 pm
  135. This orgy at the congress was aimed to show that the free world is united. Any international law, any justice or any sense of ethics can’t challenge this unity.

    Obama/Bibi speeches have sent a strong message to those who still believe that US and Israel are looking for peace. For me, they are deluding themselves , the same way Camille and others delude themselves by believing in reforms of the Syrian regime.

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 3:15 pm
  136. I don’t think also that there was anything new in what Bibi said.

    Let’s be precise. Israel wants peace, but not at any price. Same goes for the Palestinians. The problem is finding a price that both sides can live with. I personally think it is probably impossible but I am willing to keep trying. I think that the refugee issue is intractable. There is no compromise that I can think of that both sides can accept.

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 3:45 pm
  137. 3issa,

    Once “justice” and “ethics” are inserted to any discussion, it becomes dead in the water. These are subjective terms that for all practical purposes are meaningless and useless in solving political disputes. We can maybe agree where the border between Israel and Palestine should be, but we will never agree on what a “just” solution is.

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 3:53 pm
  138. Find a creative formula along the lines of learning to live peacefully next to each other for some time to come, with the hope that one day in the future you could live with each other.

    Posted by Badr | May 24, 2011, 4:29 pm
  139. I agree with AIG on the “fairness” comment. I made the exact same comment last week (I forget who it was I was arguing with…Maybe it was Issa?) on the refugee issue.

    My argument was that fairness and justice aside, at the end of the day, the refugee issue will be solved eventually when the Palestinian diaspora is essentially cut out of the negotiation process. If and when the PA/Hamas (forces on the ground) do agree to a settlement with Israel that foregoes the refugees in return for some compensation, that will be that.

    Unlike AIG, I do think it’s doable (not fair, mind you, but doable). I think agreement on borders can be done fairly easily. I think Palestine recognizing Israel as a Jewish state can be done relatively easily too (once the refugee issue is addressed and the demographics are no longer an issue of concern for an independent Palestinian state).
    I think the refugee issue, while thorny, will eventually be resolved with some compensation of some kind.

    Again, I am not speaking to whether this is fair or not. But it can and probably WILL happen eventually.

    The problem has never been in WHAT the solution is. The solution has always been right before our eyes. The problem has been that neither side is willing to accept said solution.
    It’s a matter of will, not a lack of solution.

    Both sides want what they consider “just”, which, in reality is not practical or realistic. Both sides want their cake and eat it too. Neither side is willing to accept that they have to give on SOMETHING (even though both claim they are ready to compromise).

    These are cards that you have to be willing to trade, no matter how unjust or unfair they are.

    It goes something like “You give up this card and I will give up that card”.
    Israel cannot continue asking for Palestinian cards without giving any in return (so far it hasn’t budged on a single “card”).

    The only tit for tat transaction that has occured so far was the PLO recognizing Israel in ’93, in return for Israel essentially recognizing a Palestinian state’s right to exist in the WB and Gaza.

    Those 2 things may seem like nothing nowadays, but at the time, both sides made huge compromises to what they considered fair. From Israel’s perspective, the WB (mostly) was to be part of Israel. From the PLO’s perspective Israeli land was stolen Palestinian land. Both views seeming just as intractable as today’s ’67 borders question, refugeee question and Jerusalem question.

    I don’t see why the latter can’t be negotiated in a similar fashion eventually.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 4:54 pm
  140. AIG,

    Personal question. And I don’t mean Israelis in general here, but you specifically.

    – Are you willing to compromise on Jerusalem? (Joint custody, joint capital, that way the Jews holy city is still technically your capital and under your control, but shared).
    – Are you willing to compromise on the refugees and allow them back (thus messing up Israeli demographics)?
    – Are you willing to compromise on the ’67 borders, with land swaps, and without Israeli presence in the Jordan valley (the indefensible argument doesn’t stand, as mentioned above, as any kind of peace means trust).

    Yes or No on each question please.

    Now if you have to pick 1 out of those 3 and compromise on it. HAVE TO. No “abstain” choice. Gun to your head, you HAVE to give up one of those 3. Which one would it be?

    I’m curious.

    Same for AK or any other Israelis reading this. Consider this a poll. 🙂

    Again, there is no “None of the above” option for the purposes of this exercise. You MUST choose one, no matter how horrifying it is.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 4:58 pm
  141. BV,

    Yes
    No
    No

    The Israeli presence on the Jordan is critical. Even if I believe that most Palestinians have the best of intentions, Iran will easily find a group of them to fund and to smuggle weapons to. Unless Israel makes sure no weapons will be smuggled into the Palestinian country, there will be rockets on Tel-Aviv daily. Just like the Lebanese and the UN could not stop the smuggling to Hezbollah, the Palestinians and the UN will not stop the smuggling to the West Bank Hezbollah. You can say that the Lebanese are responsible for this demand.

    Posted by AIG | May 24, 2011, 5:07 pm
  142. GK,

    Thanks for your opinion. Basically, you are saying that it was “nothing new” and “didn’t break new ground”.

    Excellent. This means the status quo will continue:

    – Jews will not get kicked out of the Old City

    – Israel will continue to get the adoration of Americans for his willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians

    – Hamas will continue their rejection of Israel

    – The PA will continue their rejection of negotiations without preconditions

    Sounds like a WIN-WIN to me!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 24, 2011, 5:16 pm
  143. AIG,

    Interesting. You totally surprised me. I thought for sure you wouldn’t be willing to budge on Jerusalem (or the refugees) and I expected of the 3, some kind of security arrangements could be achieved regarding the borders, even without the Jordan valley.

    I wonder how many other Israelis share that “priority list” with you…Hopefully we’ll get more than 3 answering the question here.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 5:45 pm
  144. AIG #137 BV#140, this is precisely why in my comment I first refered to something that leaves no place to subjectivity, i.e. International Law. So either you abide by the law, or you let your subjectivity decides that the law is not fair (or impossible to apply according to Bibi).

    BV, I heard and understood your argument concerning the diaspora that needs to be cut from the negotiation.
    But I repeat my argument that you can’t cut the Palestinian diaspora from the Palestinians on the ground, because it is the same people (be it in Jericho or Ottawa…).

    Again, don’t waist our time, and let’s agree to disagree on that point. Is it “fair” enough to you? 😉

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 5:50 pm
  145. please read:
    Again, let’s not waist our time, and let’s agree to disagree on that point. Is it “fair” enough to you? 😉

    my English definitely sucks

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 5:52 pm
  146. Your english is just fine Issa. I understood you.

    For what it’s worth, I have no quarrel with your argument about international law. If it were up to me, that’d be fine.
    Sadly, international law does not appear to work all too well in our neck of the woods.
    So I’m at the very least hoping that people can agree to SOMETHING realistic.

    Another problem with international law is that while it may seem cut and dry TODAY, how far back do you go? Where do you draw the lines? Are there statutes of limitation?

    (All interesting questions)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 6:27 pm
  147. for sure, interesting questions…And I don’t have the answers to them, just a feeling about them. I mean that the line is very difficult to draw, even impossible. To avoid too much speculation, it is better to apply the last legal verdict on a given matter. And if this verdict has been ruled out by an institution to which you belong to (in this case the UN), you are binded to respect the verdict (242).

    And concerning the unfortunate non-application of the international law in this part of the world, you know that back in 1990, Iraq has been forced to abide by the law. So the rule of law can be ensured (ideally speaking)

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 7:11 pm
  148. Ideally yes.

    I think we both know that is not going to happen in reality. I’m a pragmatist. As much as I like to abide by the rule of law, I know when the deck is stacked against me.

    It is not a fair world we live in. Sadly.

    Also, you have to remember that the “law” is not entirely objective. It SHOULD be. But it’s not. Some universal “rights”, in my opinion, are absolute (freedom, etc) and extend to all humans. But after that, the rest of our laws are essentially created and made-up by the “Winners” and usually to suit their needs. This means laws can be biased and flawed. Iran has laws that punish adulterous women with stoning. That does not mean I support that law or wish to see it applied.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 24, 2011, 7:53 pm
  149. YOU don’t support this law. From your point of view, this law is biased and flawed. Thus, if we continue in that relativist clichés, YOU think that there are rights that are universal when for some people they are not.

    Anyway, nothing new here.
    I close that freakin laptop… night night.

    Posted by 3issa | May 24, 2011, 8:24 pm
  150. I read excerpts of the Netenyahoo speech. It is not encouraging and simply stated a non starter. The US should be viewed by the Arabs from now on as a party to the conflict and not as an arbiter. Obama is simply a failure seekig re-election like every other US imbecile President before him.

    The right of return is non-negotiable from the point of view of any Plaestinian (diaspora or resident) and so is Jerusalem (non-shared). If the Palestinians somehow agree universally to the 1967 borders than they would have shown extreme generosity to outsiders who have no real legal or HISTORICAL claims to the land of Palestine (we know you guys originate in Khazara). In this case there would be no room to any so-called settlers in that area unless they fully abide by Palestinian rules. In addition Israel must have no say whatsoever on military issues or other matters of the Plaestinian State.

    Other than that there is no hurry to solve the Palestine problem. It may take still a generation or two and perhaps few intifadas, possibly wars, unless the Israeli public somehow gets inspired to put in a place a reasonable government and a reasonable PM.

    Posted by iceman | May 24, 2011, 8:52 pm
  151. Nothing new in Netanyahu’s speech. In his political career he never showed any real interest in an acceptable peace deal. Given his history, his positions are not surprising.

    It’s ironic that on the one hand he keeps on badgering the palestinians to come to the table without any “pre-conditions”, yet in his speech he lists out a bunch of NOs. No this, no that, as if these NOs are no pre-conditions.

    Maybe his goal is to have the palestinians accept and legitimize the occupation. Sort of like having a happy colony.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | May 24, 2011, 9:12 pm
  152. Long live the Valiant Resistance of Hezbollah.

    Hurrah’s Hurrah’s to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Sayyed Al-Mouquawama Al-Sharifa. Kudos to all the fighters and our prayers to the fallen since 82, and our deepest Thanks to all their sacrifices in the defense of Lebanon. The best is yet to come…

    هم لم ييأسوا حتّى عندما كان توازن القوى لا يميل إلى كفَّتهم ، أحبّوا نضالهم و تابعوا جهادهم و حافظوا على ايمانهم بأنَّ الوطن باقٍ و الأرض تبقى لناسِها و ناسها هم ناسهم وأهلهم. 25 أيّار الباطل ينكسر والحق ينتصر ، 25 أيّار فرح وانتصار و دماء شهداء تروي الأرض برائحة الورد و تملأ السماء أرواحاً طاهِرة ، 25 أيّار رسالة لن تنساها إسرائيل و لا العالم لأنَّها تاريخيّة بعنوانها و مضمونها و أهدافها، 25 أيّار الشهداء في القلوب و في السماء ، ينامون بسلام حيث لا حرب و لا موت ولا نسيان ، 25 أيّار كانت التضحية و النضال فانتصر لبنان

    Posted by HK | May 25, 2011, 12:11 am
  153. Perhaps someone needs to explain to Benjamin Netenyahu that “land for Peace” does not mean Israel grants the Arabs & Palestinians “peace” if they give up all the land…
    The utterly corrupt US Congress has lost its relevance, and the WH is home to the cowardly Neo-Ziocons. The crumbling Empire is almost off the cliff.

    Posted by HK | May 25, 2011, 1:28 am
  154. BV;

    Assuming you want to hear more Israeli opinions, I will throw in my 2-cents on the three questions you asked AIG.

    I agree with him no 3(Jordan valley) is critical. This is not because it’s the 1st on the list for most Israeli Jews, a religious Jew is most likely to put question no 1 (Jerusalem) on top as a “No” while a large % of Israeli mainstream will put the 2nd (return as refugees) as the top “No”.

    What makes the subject of “defensible” (i.e. Israeli presence on the Jordan border) critical is because unlike the two others, there is no ‘grey’, which can compromise between the Israeli “no”, and the Palestinian “yes”.

    I mean, for example, 100,000 refugees returning to Israel limit + compensations will not compromise Israeli demographics significantly (Israeli “No”) but (perhaps) can satisfy the Palestinian demand for recognition of their plight (Palestinian “Yes”).
    The same type of ‘grey’ compromise can be reached for Jerusalem, while eastern Arab neighbors mean nothing religiously of historically to the Israelis but will allow Palestine to have east Jerusalem for its capital (granted some sort of bending backwards is required to satisfy both sides on the old city).

    However, the subject of “defensible” borders is in fact much more black/white because of the experience Israel has had in the last decade with Lebanon and Gaza, as AIG described. Much less ability to compromise here, since Israel knows outside guarantees (another UNIFEL and such) are worthless.

    I, personally, consider myself one of the disillusioned ones, I think iceman’s response a couple of comments above about sums up the Palestinian view.

    G

    Posted by G | May 25, 2011, 1:51 am
  155. Meant east Jerusalem neighborhoods, not neighbors, although they are that too 🙂

    Posted by G | May 25, 2011, 1:53 am
  156. Most of the Torah Jews were killed in the Holocaust, leaving the rest prey to the nationalistic atheistic evil that was Zionism, that was plotted over a hundred years ago. Only the Torah Jews revere God and His commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.

    The Israel regime and its Zionist supporters all across the world have carried out violent attacks on Neturei Karta rallies and gatherings and have killed and wounded many of these anti-Israeli Jewish Rabbis, always demonizing them as if they are insane. One of the rabbis makes it crystal clear that Zionism is NOT Judaism…

    Strauss-Kahn’s global support network of corrupt Ziocons begins to take action.
    Strauss-Kahn’s associates try to buy off sex assault victim’s family in Guinea. Strauss-Kahn’s DNA found on maid’s clothing.

    Sarkozy and his choice for IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, want governments to impose tougher regulations for Internet.
    The “little Ziocon dwarf” now wants to march his tin soldiers into cyberspace.

    Russian Supreme Court upholds Khodorkovsky’s conviction.

    Khodorkovsky, Strauss-Kahn, Berezovsky, Ariel Sharon, David Halevy, Meir Dagan, David Yaakov etc., all Kosher Nostra, all the time…

    More “change” from Barky the Eared Circus Seal: Justice Dept. and SEC allow companies to investigate themselves. Fascism: it’s not just for Colombia anymore….

    Posted by HK | May 25, 2011, 3:02 am
  157. The Jihadists Wear no Clothes

    G –

    Just in case you care,

    I vote the same way as AIG on the 3 questions.

    – Are you willing to compromise on Jerusalem? (Joint custody, joint capital, that way the Jews holy city is still technically your capital and under your control, but shared).

    Yes, having access to half the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall would be OK if there was an “end to the conflict”.

    – Are you willing to compromise on the refugees and allow them back (thus messing up Israeli demographics)?

    No, the two state solution means the Palestinian diaspora woould be able to immigrate to Palestine, not Israel. “Messing up Israeli demographics” runs counter to accepting a Jewish state.

    – Are you willing to compromise on the ’67 borders, with land swaps, and without Israeli presence in the Jordan valley (the indefensible argument doesn’t stand, as mentioned above, as any kind of peace means trust).

    Here I’m not sure. Per the Camp David Agreements, some settlements were left under Israeli control and some areas within the green line were given to the Palestinians. The Jordan valley issue may be hammered out in a peace agreement.

    In any case, the above would not be accptable to the PA/Hamas. So this in just an excercise in futility.

    BTW – BB got 29 standing ovations during his speech to the US congress, mostly, IMHO, because he sounded reasonable, and the Hamas charter isn’t.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 25, 2011, 6:50 am
  158. I am humbled by iceman and HK’s clear and coherent support for the Heroes of the Resistance and the justice of the Palestinian cause. They know who keeps the marauding zionists at bay and why there can not be peace in the ancient and historic homeland of occupied Palestine as long as jewish invaders pretend it is their land.

    Posted by dontgetit | May 25, 2011, 7:53 am
  159. AIG –

    The former intelligence head of Rabin, in his book Profits of War and on page 122, admits that the Achille Lauro was a Mossad black op designed to deflect sympathy from the Palestinians. Israelis did not attack the Munich Olympics but they blow up zoos and farms in Gaza. They commit massacres in Lebanon and the West Bank. They did not blow up the marines in Beirut but they did attack the USS Liberty unprovoked in 1967, killing 34 servicemen and wounding many more.

    There is no excuse for the asskissery displayed by the US congress.

    Posted by Nasser V | May 25, 2011, 7:58 am
  160. Nasser V,

    Here’s a short account of the Achille Lauro murder…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Achille_Lauro

    The terrorists who committed this attrocity were caught and (mostly) brought to justice thanks to Ronald Reagen.

    This fellow Ben-Menashe seems to be a great story-teller. I can understand why anti-semites and anti-Zionists are attracted to him…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ari_Ben-Menashe

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 25, 2011, 8:57 am
  161. The utterly corrupt ZOG and Congress have been completely offshored….
    The Netenhayu trip is all about killing any last chance of “peace”, which is what his administration is all about from inception.
    There will be no coverage whatsoever about the “Whys” when suicide bombers start exploding again in major cities and towns
    in Israhell. Instead the rhetoric will be loudest anew on Fox and all the MSM creeps, about how inhumane ” those people” are…
    and add Fabricated material “evidence” against the IRI too…., in the vain hope of igniting new wars in MENA 🙂

    The Resistance is steadfast and will be as valuable as ever, until the Zioconnish criminals are soundly defeated!

    Posted by HK | May 25, 2011, 9:33 am
  162. To BV 144
    You asked a question, here is my respons:

    I and all my extended family and friends, about 8 out of ten born in the ME some 4th generation and more, share AIG 142 priority list. I would even go for a joint Palestinian – Israeli supervision of the Jordan valley. Also we realy dont care that much about governing Arab Jerusalem. There are many like us.

    I read much of what is written here and think about it. Often I wonder. How many of you know that in 1945 there where about 3/4 million Jews in the Arab world? do you know what happened to them?

    Posted by Rani Hazbani | May 25, 2011, 11:43 am
  163. It doesn’t change the fact that Israel is responsible for countless atrocities in this world, ones involving America. Also, if I am a racist than you are something much worse AP.

    Posted by Nasser V | May 25, 2011, 12:34 pm
  164. Egypt has decided to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. 🙂

    …مصر تقرر فتح معبر رفح مع غزّة بشكل دائم

    Posted by HK | May 25, 2011, 1:42 pm
  165. V, AP & Rani,

    I appreciate your taking the time to take my “poll”.
    Yes, I do realize it is an academic exercise and no more. I was curious as to the thinking on these matters. And in fact, I learned from your responses (even though it’s only 3 people). As I said above, your responses were not at all what I expected. So in my mind, it’s already something to take away from this discussion (at least for me) that I learned something new that I didn’t know yesterday.

    If you had asked me, an Arab, what most Israelis think (granted, I only got 3 replies from you guys), I would have guessed that Israelis would be completely against some kind of compromise on Jerusalem (We’ve heard the official Israeli position on this so many times over the years “indivisible, eternal, etc.”). I am surprised that all 3 of you were willing to work out a compromise on that.
    And frankly, I find that encouraging. And it’s actually quite an easy “doable” and practical thing as long as both sides are willing to share the old city, have access to all holy sites for everyone, and be able to claim the “capital” (East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, West for the Israelis, or whatever). Doesn’t seem so hard to me.

    I was NOT surprised that none of you would be willing to accomodate the refugees (barring some kind of symbolic gesture of 100,000 or so). This is a pretty obvious one to everyone. For obvious reasons. No surprises there.

    I WAS surprised that the Jordan valley came up so high on the list for all 3 of you. It makes sense in retrospect. But for whatever reason, I was under the impression that the Jewishness of Israel and Jerusalem would rank higher and be less “negotiable” than a territorial matter.

    Personally, I do think that AP comes closest to my view that a security (joint) arrangement can be reached regarding the Jordan valley. While I certainly understand that the past decades make Israel distrustful when it comes to security, I think we do go into a vicious circular logic if Israel isn’t willing to compromise on that side. A final peace agreement SHOULD be the security guarantee for Israel, in the end. Imposing peace by military force isn’t really “peace”, in the end. I wonder if some kind of settlement can be reached where the Jordan valley is simply demilitarized (and somehow guaranteed to remain so).

    Anyway, lots to think about…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 2:00 pm
  166. BV;

    I have many talks with people in the office, for example, and most, whether they are religious or secular, have opinions similar to what you heard here from myself, AP and AIG.

    BUT, the most distict ‘vibe’ you get from talking to Israeli Jews about politics is that the level of trust in the Palestinians keeping their end of the bargain, any bargain, isnt just zero – its sub-zero, Nada, Zilch.

    And the sad thing is – they are probably right.

    G

    Posted by G | May 25, 2011, 2:13 pm
  167. To BV
    Thanks for the chance to say what I did. All that shows that there is very little understanding or communictions between the two sides. Also some people here tend to make too much of what I call the Al-Jazira Jews on one side and the crazy extreme ones on the other side.

    Posted by Rani Hazbani | May 25, 2011, 2:38 pm
  168. I had no intention whatsoever of making you look humble, dontgetit.

    This kind of so-called ‘resistance’ of your bunkered HNA was not by any means what I meant in my post. So keep your head straight up and never feel humbled. After listening to some of what HNA had to say today, I became convinced more than ever that he is fake and urgently needs to be indicted to the Hague for trial as a murderer along with his friends in Damascus.

    ……………

    Right of return 101 for the ignorant…

    It means the return of ALL the Palestinian refugees anywhere in the world and/or their descendants to pre-1947 Palestine along with compensation for lost/destroyed properties and ruined lives as well as a sincere and honest apology from the outsiders who were responsible for their plight.

    Short of that there is no solution now or in the near future, even if that takes centuries. The ‘Khazari’ invaders and/or their descendants in this case will continue to be looked at as outsiders.

    Posted by iceman | May 25, 2011, 2:46 pm
  169. iceman,

    The right of return by your above definition is simply never going to happen.
    Not only that, but there is no precedent for it in history (which is full of invasion and displaced people).
    Monetary compensation is one thing. Return of “some” is one thing.
    But show me one instance of an entire people, displaced, and then repatriated 50 or 100 years later or longer…
    If something like that were even remotely possible or realistic, you’d open up a very interesting can of worms.
    American-Indians would be wanting to reclaim their lands from the white man in the USA. Native populations in most of Africa and South America, ditto.
    The Armenians would have a nice little beef with Turkey/Iran/Russia as well.
    So would every descendant of every group or sub group ethnic/religious/racial/nation that’s ever been invaded/persecuted/displaced.
    What about the moors? Maybe they have a claim to Andalusia. Well, then again, they were also invaders at one point.

    You get the idea.

    As I’ve said time and again, let’s be realistic here. There are somethings that just are not going to happen. And no single population in history has ever prospered or moved forward by putting all their efforts into pipe dreams.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 3:02 pm
  170. I’ve just read the interview of Zyiad Clot, ex-member of the Palestinian negotiation squad, the guy who leaked the minutes of PA/Israel talks, later called the Palestine Papers.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/05/201151432144832519.html

    Very interesting to see how people like him who decided to sit with the Israelis, are just hopeless vis-a-vis the negotiation, they fell they are talking to a wall. So my question is quite simple, if theses guys didn’t manage to negotiate anything with Israel, why some are still talking about negotiation?
    I mean, there is no negotiation. Period.

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 3:19 pm
  171. Ah, a poll!

    The answers are easy: No. No. No. 1st is weakest, but this entire poll is a formality since any likely would-be peace deal is bad for Israel.

    Posted by Y. | May 25, 2011, 3:42 pm
  172. 173#, thanks dude. You wrapped up my point. Peace is bad for Israel.

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 3:58 pm
  173. 3issa,

    Of course there is negotiation. What you mean is that the Palestinians are negotiating from a very weak position, which is true. You cannot keep making huge mistakes for 63 and maintain a strong position.

    Posted by AIG | May 25, 2011, 4:03 pm
  174. for 63 YEARS

    Posted by AIG | May 25, 2011, 4:03 pm
  175. BV
    Our history is our guide. The crusaders colonized Palestine for 200 yearsmp. When they were defeated most of them were sent back to Europe. I can say to you we’ll talk in 200 years. It’s only been 60 now.
    Anyway your academic exercise is a non starter. I cannot elaborate now as I’m on a mobile network.

    Posted by iceman | May 25, 2011, 4:07 pm
  176. My academic exercise was just that: academic.
    To satisfy my own curiosity, since I don’t get to hear Israelis opinions on the matter all that often. Don’t read too much into it.

    As to Issa and Y.: Well, you guys/gals seem to be of the “We both want war camp”, which in my mind is quite ridiculous. But it’s nice to see that there are some of you who think that war is the answer.

    I happen to believe that peace is the answer. I don’t know that negotiations are happening today, or tomorrow. But ultimately, SOMEDAY, this WILL have to be resolved by compromise. There is no alternative. War is not an alternative.

    Iceman,
    Your argument is mostly bullshit. The crusades were limited in scope and never displaced an entire people. Try a better example.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 4:22 pm
  177. BV

    I don’t advocate war, I just made a simple observation that negotiations are useless, and that as our friend Y pointed out, peace is bad for Israel (probably because their very existence depends on a constant tension with its neighbours and Palestinians, and the “Assada fortress” complex amongst its citizens)

    Concerning the crusades comparison, it is definitely valid to me. Not that all the aspect of the crusade invasion are identical to the zionist project, but still there is some HUGE stricking similarities:
    Violent invasion made by foreigners culturally/ethnically at odds with the existing population and claiming unilateral rights on the land.

    I don’t understand your criterion to dismiss the crusade comparison, when you mention the limited scope…

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 4:53 pm
  178. AIG,

    I think it is very arrogant from you and just not true to say that Palestinians are making errors for 63 years.

    Also, please leave me the liberty to mean what I mean, I don’t need to be rephrased.

    What I mean is that there is no negotiations (i.e. discussions between the 2 sides to agree on concessions-> I see only one side making concessions, so this is not negotiations)

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 5:11 pm
  179. BV,

    Your knowledge of history seems primtive.
    You should study that period more rigorously. Each Crusader campaign comprised 100000’s of thousands and the massacres they committed were horendous. You also need to check the Mongolians which happened almost simultaneously.

    In any case, if it is war then so be it. The right of return is sacred and so is the land of Palestine from river to sea. The only peaceful solution I can think of right now is for the Khazaris to agree to live by our rules. In this case we’ll forgive them as we forgave some of the crusaders who chose to abide by the rules.

    Posted by iceman | May 25, 2011, 5:24 pm
  180. TThe comparison with the crusaders, which so many Palestinians seem to love, is completely irrelevant. Putting aside for a moment the questions of historical rights, etc – we won’t agree on that anyway, here are some facts about the crusader kingdom in Palestine:
    – At no point were the crusaders more than 15% of the population
    – The crusaders continued to view themselves as belonging to their country of origin
    – Most of the crusaders simply ‘went home’ after making their riches in loot and plunder – to be replaced with fresh knights from the over-burdened feudal system in Europe. They never saw this place as their home.

    Those who cling to the Crusader example to convince themselves The Jews will simply fade away back to Europe will not be convinced by the points above, to be sure. But it is a pipe dream. The Jews see themselves as indigenous as can be, and they are not going anywhere. These aren’t a hundred thousand crusader knights, but 6 million people – which by 2050 will probably be 10million.

    I just hope it won’t take a nuclear war to prove the point.

    G

    Posted by G | May 25, 2011, 5:29 pm
  181. Actually, I wrote any _likely agreement_ is bad, not peace as a rule. The current terms of reference are far from what Israel requires, nor is there any chance of peace actually arising.

    Now, I do not think Israel should seek war – Israel should wait until the Arab world collapses under its own weight.

    Aside, I find treating this as an academic excerise (with “solutions”, “answers” etc.) to be a poor metaphor. Historical conflict are not test questions with one right answer. If one would assign X as the ‘right answer’, than either side could obviously demand X+1. This I think leads to a more correct conclusion: Historical conflicts typically resolve when one or both sides has had enough, or when the underlying conditions have changed. Clearly, neither is the case as of yet.

    Posted by Y. | May 25, 2011, 5:36 pm
  182. “Now, I do not think Israel should seek war – Israel should wait until the Arab world collapses under its own weight.”

    In which world are you living in?

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 5:40 pm
  183. Good onservation 3issa. These guys are pathetic. If more like Netenyahoo are their front ends I would give them 10 to 20 years. By then they would not count more than a million in the whole area.

    These guys don’t know what peace is.

    Posted by iceman | May 25, 2011, 6:10 pm
  184. Y explained best why the crusader example is irrelevant. It was never about a people being displaced and replaced by europeans.

    A more apt example to the Palestinian cause, would be in my opinion, the Armenian people. These are people who were forcibly removed from their native land, and driven abroad into a diaspora.
    According to iceman’s definition of full right of return, the Armenians have the right, to this day, to ask to be repatriated to their villages and homes and cities of origin.
    It’s an EXACT parallel to the Palestinian refugees.

    The crusaders on the other hand, was a conquering army, interested in plundering a foreign land and heading back home. They never displaced an entire native population who then spent generations abroad.

    The fact that they massacred people is not relevant to this discussion. You are confusing 2 different things. I am not passing judgment here. Massacres are a terrible thing, for different reason. But the topic at hand had to do with right of return, not massacres. I brought up statutes of limitations in a previous post for that reason. At what point in time does a people who’s been displaced cease to have a claim on the lands of origin? I mentioned the American-Indians before, for good reason. They were massacred AND displaced. By all your definitions, the white men in the Americas have no right to that land even today. Americans and Canadians should pack up and go home. How realistic is that?
    I could go further back in time: The Romans and Greeks and Persian empires drove people from their homes and settled in new places.
    Or should we also kick the Normands from the UK and give it back to the Anglo-Saxons?
    History is full of such examples…
    History also moves forward at some point. Maybe 60 years is not enough. but 200, 500, 1000 years…Nobody distinguishes Normands from Anglo-Saxons anymore…you think the former did not oppress the latter when they first invaded and within the first 60 years?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 6:17 pm
  185. Y

    My point about the academic exercise was not to say answer X is correct or incorrect.
    Nor was it one of solutions.

    I wanted to gauge the way Israelis think about this stuff. And the admittedly small sampling (AIG, Rani, AP and yourself) gave me some new insights that I wasn’t aware of. That is all.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 6:34 pm
  186. Iceman,

    I wish there was some facility where I could bet against the predictions people like you make. I would be a billionaire by now. For 63 years many Arabs have kept repeating these jokes and Israel has only gotten stronger.

    Y is right. Look at the Arab world. Lebanon cannot get a government in place and as GK observes is in dire financial problems. Syria is a mess. Egypt is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Libya is in a civil war. Jordan is not far behind. Israel will grow 5% this year. But Lebanon does make a better hummus.

    Posted by AIG | May 25, 2011, 6:35 pm
  187. Interestingly enough, I just came across this, on the topic of the “indefensible” borders.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110525/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_indefensible_borders

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 6:44 pm
  188. Be carefull iceman, a dummy in this blog may understand that your kind words are part of an alliance between the Djihadist that we are, to take over QNs blog, and turn it into a harbour of terrorist full of “bin ladens of the middle east” lol

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 7:28 pm
  189. AIG and al (i.e. the folks lucky enough to support or live in the only democratic country in the ME, even in the whole world)

    May I ask you what is your vision of Israel in 15-20 years?
    Internaly, will it be a democratic and secular state where all its citizens will be equal?
    Externaly, will it be a sovereign state integrated in the region, and recognize as such by its neighbours?

    tx

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 7:41 pm
  190. sorry, I forgot to mention that the “recognition” term refers to the real recognition of Israel by the neighbouring/Arab countries. What I mean by “real”, is a recognition allowed democratically by the people of these countries (not the recognitions that we have today)

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 7:48 pm
  191. Good question, Issa.

    In other news. Anyone see the transcript or watch Nassrallah’s latest diatribe?

    I can’t decide if he’s maddening or just ridiculous. I don’t even know where to start…
    He denies HA is involved in any of the Arab spring and claims that when HA does send fighters abroad, it proclaims it loudly. I don’t recall him proclaiming he was sending fighters to Egypt to infiltrate Gaza until after they were caught…

    “We in Lebanon have democracy and freedom” (in response to Netanyahu’s assertion that 300 million arabs have no democracy). Really Hassan? That democracy where you pointed your weapons at ordinary Beirutis because they didn’t agree with you, or your vision? That democracy where your thugs burned various Media offices and TV stations? That one? Yes, please, tell us more.

    I could go on…But I think I need to go throw up a bit first…

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | May 25, 2011, 7:57 pm
  192. 3issa,

    In 15-20 years Israel will be among the 5 richest countries in the world. This is because it is a world leader in research and development, because of the huge gas finds and because of favorable demographic trends (young population).
    The political system will be very similar to the one now.
    It will not be integrated in the region and who cares what its neighbors think of it. Probably in the next 15-20 years we will have one major war, after all, this is the middle east.

    Posted by AIG | May 25, 2011, 8:01 pm
  193. thanks AIG,

    Me too, I wish there would be a bet recording machine.

    It remind me the king of kings, the Shah, watch out, and enjoy this short clip, from 0:20 to 0:40.


    It is late on Obama’s ancestors celtic island. Bye.

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 8:28 pm
  194. oops, just forgot to say that Apartheid South Africa in the 60s was the fastest growing economy in the world(+8% to +9%) just behind Japan I guess.

    So please, no more braging about the R&D, the gas, dynamic youth bla bla bla

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 8:38 pm
  195. O’ I wish there was such a facility AIG boy. I would even bet that you would die in S. America.

    BV,

    You are making fool of yourself by exposing your total ignorance about the Crusader era. It was a full colonization effort organized and supported by the ignorant church of the time to liberate what it considered to be the holy land. There were in total over 12 campaigns each comprising at least 200000. Further there were several kingdoms that were established on the coast and in Palestine. People were displaced and Europeans were being settled in their place until they were finally defeated and were given the choice to submit to the rule or be put back on boats to Europe and most of them were seven or eight generation born in those kingdoms. Majority of them were sent back.

    There is no parallel between the Armenians and the Palestinians. I take it that you have some Armenian background and you keep harping on that. Now, if you feel that the Armenians have no more will or means to continue to ask and struggle for what could be their right, I can assure you that the Palestinians and the Arabs in general have not and will not give up on Palestine. Even if takes centuries. FULLSTOP.

    3issa,

    Do not worry about that brainless.

    Posted by iceman | May 25, 2011, 8:54 pm
  196. Totally agree with you Iceman, Arabs will not give up on Palestine, and I would just add that we are also talking about Jerusalem-> Al Quds As Sharif… so more on more, you will also have to deal with tons of Muslims, be they Indians, Ouighours and the +250M Indonesian etc… Good luck.

    Posted by 3issa | May 25, 2011, 9:17 pm
  197. “I can assure you that the Palestinians and the Arabs in general have not and will not give up on Palestine…”

    Ice; that statement is so full of hot air! Arabs have given up on everything Palestinians!! Prove it otherwise!..ooops I guess bashar’s divine and righteous regime is the only one left to defend the Palestinian rights!

    As for the Armenians they you seem to be the ignorant one here as your ultra conservative religious beliefs is tainting your thinking. Read about them before you make off the cuff proclamations! and you are right Armenians and Palestinians should not be compared! Most Palestinians sold their lands to Jews while Armenians were massacred in the first Genocide of the 20th century and marched through the desert and systematically murdered. Armenians have not quit but rather have legitimate rights…

    Just for your reference!

    Posted by danny | May 25, 2011, 9:18 pm
  198. A final peace agreement SHOULD be the security guarantee for Israel, in the end.

    BV,

    I appreciate the above words. Another reason why this website is light-years ahead of the SC/jihad site.

    And yes, hopefully Palestine and Israel will no longer need walls and security zones because they will be too busy working and building together a peaceful life in their own respective states.

    Anyway on FOX News tonight, Juan Williams disagreed with Sean Hannity that Obama “sand-bagged” BB with his ’67 border speech before he arrived to Washington.

    Crazy man!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 25, 2011, 9:23 pm

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