Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Syrian Front

Some very brief, related and unrelated thoughts on the news from today about peace talks with Syria.

1. Contrary to the claims of Shelly Yachimovich this is not a diversion. Neither the talks nor their acknowledgment have been orchestrated to save Olmert's political career. If anything, these talks put Olmert in an even more precarious position domestically than he is now.

2. We do not know what the Americans think about all this, but the agreement goes entirely against the spirit of Bush's policy since 2003. Did the Turks keep the Americans apprised of developments in the process?

3. These negotiations cannot extract Syria from the Iranian embrace. They will not deliver Hizbullah or Hamas to Israel. All they can aim at is the formalization of the relative calm that has existed on the Syrian-Israeli border since 1973 - in itself hardly be an insignificant feat.

4. The recent Doha agreement, engineered by Qatar, formally delivered Lebanon into the hands of Hizbullah and the Iranian-Syrian-(Qatari?) axis. It diverges radically from the US-Saudi policy on Lebanon that has endured until now.


Danny said...

Not on topic but a"review" of Morris's new book on 1948 by someone who has been covered on this blog.

Interesting to see the comments Mearsheimer makes. To my mind it only buttresses my view that this man and his colleague are deeply cynical frauds who have latched onto this subject as a quick and painless way to make money and notoriety.

Mearsheimer claims that palestinian forces had been "decimated" by the British in 1936-1939 - never mind that that was a decade before and that the overwhelming majority of deaths where arabs killing arabs - but as a simple fact these people who "were in no position to put up a fight", killed nearly 2,000 Jews between December 1947 and May 1948. The only force to kill more Jews were the Arab Legion and in pro rata terms these people who "had little fighting power" killed more Israelis than the Germans killed Russians in 1941. I wonder what reaction Mearsheimer would get if he claimed Barbarossa was "essentially a riot", and if to prove his cynicism he quotes Khalidi as a reliable source(note in M&W's book he relies more on Morris...).

Nur Massalha and Illan Pappe are both prominent and well-known frauds - Pappe isn't even ashamed of the fact he simply makes stuff up and is perfectly happy to lie about events. As for Finkelstein, at least Pappe has a passing acquaintance with an archive, Finkelstein basically writes glorified book reviews.

As for there being "no way that the Zionists could create a Jewish state without transfer", Jews were an absolute majority within the borders of the proposed Jewish state under partition - this is before the 150,000 odd refugees from Nazi camps came in. So this is patently and obviously a lie - and I have absolutely no doubt Mearsheimer knows it, especially given he quotes Morris in the next line saying that arabs were a minority.

As for the "myth" of Arab broadcasts, Morris provides archival evidence - you can check the footnotes. Also Naffez Nazzal - hardly a Zionist - provides plenty of evidence of exorbitant rumours that arab leaders spread about what Zionists would do to Arabs who remained(my favourite was the imminent use of an atomic bomb on Sfad).

As for the claim that Zionists "stole" Arab land, it seems strange that in one breath you can say that Jews only had a tiny percentage of the land - which was bought in a free exchange - and in the same breath say that Arabs were cleansed.

What Mearsheimer fails to mention is the "resistance" to Zionism amongst Palestinians it rose exactly with the rise of Hajj Husseini and his brand of "resistance" was by no way a "popular" or majority movement, just a violent nasty one.

If by "experts" who "disagree with Morris" he means Pappe, Finkelstein, Masalha, Said and Khalidi then I think that is a compliment to Prof Morris in the same category as when Libya wants to condemn Israel's record on human rights.

I think this just confirms Mearsheimer as a premier scumbag with zero self-respect who is willing to resort to any lie to strip what little respect Modern Middle Eastern History has and helps to finish off the "Lysenko-isation" of MMEH that Said started. Well if it worked for Pappe and Said why not? Far more profitable and far less effort than doing any real research.

Anonymous said...

Danny well said
The Palestinians fought well in 1936-9. The results of the 1936-9 war against the Brits and the Jews brought major Brits political concessions to the Pal. Also in large areas the Jews were cleaned out, no Pals. were clean out from any Pal. site in 1936-9. On the contrary, 1936-1946 were the best economic and cultural period in the history of the arab Palestinian people. Even after the 1936-9 war, more books, more papers, more students, more scholarly activity, better health etc. However the Pals. lost the war it self militarily !!! because they allied themselves with Nazi Germany and the Brits have had to take care of them. Mearsh. is pobably also sorry for the fact that Nazi Germany an outspoken ally of the Pal. revolt-war was "decimated" in the same war.
Pappe left Israel because he used his grad. students as cannon fodder in his political games. Other university people, much more antizionist than him, are doing fine because they are scholars and are doing their academic jobs honestly. Now that Pappe is in he UK we will be able to see his great academic performances. By the way, has any body lately hearded about the academic performances of Azmi Beshara the gratest Palestinian scholar after Said?

Jeha said...

It's wedding season, it seems. I'd hate to see the bastard children that will result from those unions.

But I have only a couple of note on the comments;

1- The issue was not whether there was "no way that the Zionists could create a Jewish state without transfer", but what was considered to be the optimal method. And the optimal method led to Deir Yassin... I recall reading something Begin or Shamir said about this.

2- The broadcasts were many, but they were not orchestrated; most of it was rumour mongering, as in following the crowd.

We Arabs were far from organized when it all started. We still aren't, in many respects.

Danny said...

Hi Jeha,

I only came across your blog as Amos pointed to it on the issue of cluster bombs. I noticed you spotted the same issue with Rapopport's report as I did. I remember the surprise when the headline started "IDF chief says...", thinking they were talking about Dan Halutz not some 2nd lieutenant or sergeant. It is interesting how this gossiping became "fact".

on your comments, Mearshiemer isn't talking about the optimal method he is talking full-stop. It seems to be something that is considered "obvious" that Israel HAD to expel Arabs in order to exist, just like it is considered "obvious" that the UN/British/US/West "gave" "Palestine" to the Jews. As for what Begin said, he said that Deir Yassin was that the effect was "worth several battalions" in the sense of scaring arabs - which the arab broadcasts did a far better job of doing than he did. Note that the war was nearly half-way through by that time.

This whole issue of broadcasts has really been blown up to something it is not. Anti-Israelis will claim there were NO such broadcasts and some other people claim it was ONLY broadcasts. I have read the earliest Israeli books on the subject of the war - the best one is "Both Sides of the Hill", written in the early 50s - and they all offer a multi-causal explanation for the exodus as well as pretty much all the information about the meetings between the Yishuv and Transjordan and the disunity between the arab foes, some 30+ years before Shalaim "discovered" it.... It also mentions the expulsion of the arabs from Ramle and Lydda, some 30 years before "Revisionists" "overturned the Zionist myths". Note one of the writers of this book was David Kimche, possibly better known to you as the leader of the pro-Phalange faction of the Mossad in 1982. So hardly a "non-establishment" work or that of an "anti/post/non-zionist".

What I object to is the out and out lying of Mearsheimer - amongst others. I use the strong word lying because what he says is demonstrably false and I cannot believe he is dumb enough not to be aware of the fact.

On a more related note, I saw the Syrians are demanding a "full pullback" to the 1967/6/4 lines and not international borders. This is because they conquered parts of the mandate in 1948 and now claim it is "Syrian". Guess what is good for the goose ain't good for the gander.

Anonymous said...

In my view the rushed “Lebanese solution” the “Miracle’, is a direct reaction by the Iranian puppets in Lebanon to consolidate gains while taking cover from recent Bush’s treats, at least until after the next elections. If Obama wins, they will renew their assault with vigour. They are also passing a message to Syria that peace with Israel will make it loose ground in Lebanon. In fact all these peaceful solutions that are happening will help Obama in his foreign affairs initiatives against McCain.
On the southern front, Hamas is doing well politically if one understands their “historical” ambitions. Hamas, in fact a militant Egyptian brotherhood wing first time in power, is playing hard with Egypt. It is pushing the Israelis for an attack while already portraying the Egyptian regime as an Israeli/US puppet. This will be followed by Egyptians riots after such an invasion of Gaza by Israel, putting more pressure on Mubarak waiting for the day to take over there. We must always remember that the western objectives are measured in days or month; the horizon is a US election. Islam has a sense of a long historic destiny that is counted in Millenniums. Disasters are temporarily set backs.
As to Olmert’s Peace; it is a fact that as a lawyer, he is playing all the possibility in the book for his political survival, even for another month. Historically prosecutors in Israel never bothered a Prime Minister that is in power. This was the case of Sharon with Gaza for example. But Olmert is taking his profession to new level of sophistication/prostitution. Peace with Syria is definitely needed but not by giving territories but by planning a regional future of co-habitation with Syria, the only relevant and pivotal power in the region. Syrians will talk to Israel because they need Israel, for now the only guaranty for the survival of the regime from US and Saudi onslaught. They are the only guaranty that Israel could have for a quite neighbourhood. The Golan is just a slogan. If they take the Golan and do not resolve their predicament (Saudi solution Backed by the US) we will have Hamas in Syria too like I predict it for Egypt sooner and later. The Americans using the “democracy” buzzword are playing the Saudi game for reasons of a combined ignorance and probably underlining compensation for some tendencies from the deep Saudi pockets. Rest to see what this summer will bring from Iran and DC…
Saul Cohen