July 09, 2007

Syria Invades Lebanon

By Michael J. Totten

A few days ago Lebanese daily newspaper Al Mustaqbal quietly reported a limited Syrian invasion of Lebanon. (Via Naharnet.)
Syrian troops on Thursday reportedly have penetrated three kilometers into Lebanese territories, taking up positions in the mountains near Yanta in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

The daily Al Mustaqbal, citing sources who confirmed the cross-border penetration, did not say when the procedure in the Fahs Hill overlooking Deir al-Ashaer in the Rashaya province took place.

The sources said Syrian troops, backed by bulldozers, were fortifying positions "in more than one area" along the Lebanese border, erecting earth mounds and digging "hundreds" of trenches and individual bunkers.
This happened immediately before I left town for two days. When I returned I was surprised to find no mention of this whatsoever anywhere else in the media. I assumed the story had to be false. How could Syria invade three kilometers into any region of Lebanon without triggering a diplomatic and media storm?

So I asked Michael Young, opinion page editor at Beirut’s Daily Star, if the story was bogus.

“It is true,” he said, “but the problem is that the 3 kilometers are in isolated areas, so that it isn't making headlines. However, the UN will be discussing border issues this week, I think, and that will be brought up. The Syrians are ratcheting up the pressure, but with the attack against UN troops in the south, they are, as one UN official put it, playing with fire.”

If Israel sent the IDF three kilometers into Lebanon and started digging trenches and building bunkers it would make news all over the world. But Syria does it and everyone shrugs. Hardly anyone even knows it happened at all.

Syria can, apparently, get away with just about anything. I could hardly blame Assad at this point if he believes, after such an astonishing non-response, that he can reconquer Beirut. So far he can kill and terrorize and invade and destroy with impunity, at least up to a point. What is that point? Has anyone in the U.S., Israel, the Arab League, the European Union, or the United Nations even considered the question?

Meanwhile, the Syrian government is evacuating its citizens from Lebanon in advance of…something they expect to happen after July 15, 2007.

It’s going to be an interesting summer.

Postscript: Later today I am flying to Kuwait and should be in Iraq by the end of the week. Keep watching this space for first-person narrative journalism from Baghdad, Anbar Province, and hopefully Baqubah.

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 9, 2007 12:06 AM
Comments

interesting summer indeed... Best wishes on your trip.

Posted by: Kelly G. Johnson at July 9, 2007 02:00 AM

Thanks for this!!

I blogged it: Lebanon On The Brink

Posted by: M. Simon at July 9, 2007 03:53 AM

Why isn't March 14 raising a ruckus about this? Thanks Michael, for getting this verified for us. Who knows? Perhaps March 14 can get their hands on some of these "spy squirrels", and place them along their border with Syria.

Posted by: Renée C. at July 9, 2007 05:57 AM

Two guesses:

1) Assad is calculating that the split between the US and ROW over forceful interventions gives him a lot of room to do things he couldn't otherwise (short of directly attacking US personnel)

2) Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah etc are more closely connected than the west realizes, and the Syrian incursion is tacitly supported by Hezb on the other side of Lebanon. The Lebanese government realizes it and this is why they are keeping their mouths shut about the Syrian incursion.

Posted by: Stacy at July 9, 2007 06:09 AM

Mr. Totten,

Syria can, apparently, get away with just about anything.

It should be noted that Israel can do just the same. Note the incursions into Gaza Strip recently, with little or no outcry from the media or the West. Note the assassinations of this or that Hamas leader with little or no outcry.

My basic point is that you are not the victim, Mr. Totten. Both sides do plenty of the same. It doesn't do you any good service to bemoan aggressive action from one side as if your own side is full of innocent angels.

That said, what incentive are we giving Assad that we are men of peace? At this point Mr. Assad is seeing nothing but violence in his future from the likes of the Americans and the Israelis. Why should he sit back and wait for it to happen? I certainly wouldn't. Neither would you.

Posted by: Dan at July 9, 2007 06:45 AM

*is NOT full of innocent angels. pardon my mistake.

Posted by: Dan at July 9, 2007 06:46 AM

Dan is a bit much.
Israel did raid Gaza and should do so more often. Dan should know that the Hamas has an openly mass murderous policy towards Jews which is set down in its charter [Article 7 relates the old Muslim fable that, at Judgement Day, the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them. Jews will hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will call out: O Muslim, a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him]. I don't see why Israel should show any hestitation about attacking and destroying Hamas members. So Israel has a good reason to attack Hamas in Gaza. Syria invades Lebanon in order to control it and exploit it. Syria also backs Hamas and promotes Nazi-like anti-Jewish propaganda, such as the blood libel, using the false charge against Damascene Jews in 1840 as an example.
If Dan doesn't see the distinctions here, then his mind is dominated by prejudice.

Posted by: Eliyahu at July 9, 2007 07:01 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/09/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at July 9, 2007 08:00 AM

It should be noted that Israel can do just the same. Note the incursions into Gaza Strip recently, with little or no outcry from the media or the West. Note the assassinations of this or that Hamas leader with little or no outcry.

Dan, your comparison falls flat. The Lebanese do not threaten or attack Syria; Gaza Palestinians launch missiles into Israel and send suicide bombers to cause murder and mayhem.

Further, the Lebanese who have been killed by forces controlled by Syria were journalists and politicians; liberals for whom democracy and freedom for Lebanon are paramount. The scum killed by Israel are leaders, gunmen and bomb makers for a fanatical terrorist organization that aims to destroy Israel.

Posted by: Zak at July 9, 2007 08:02 AM

"At this point Mr. Assad is seeing nothing but violence in his future from the likes of the Americans and the Israelis."

How in God's name can you ignore the fact that the violence Mr. Assad is seeing was started by his own government? Not only is Assad far from being an innocent victim in the Syria/Lebanese drama, his country is the initiator of it!!

And if he's worried about violence from Israel and America, why's he taking it out on Lebanon?

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at July 9, 2007 08:18 AM

By "isolated area" do you mean an area of no particular military value, the seizure of which is useful only to test Lebanese and world political resolve? (Obviously they flunked.) Or does Syria anticipate an Israeli thrust through Lebanon (perhaps aimed at arms interdiction) and wish to improve its chances in an all-out war?

Posted by: Seth Halpern at July 9, 2007 08:25 AM

What are they expecting - or planning - that is so serious that they need to prepare fortifications inside Lebanon? How many people are they expecting to flee the country?

Posted by: Matt at July 9, 2007 08:35 AM

Seems to me like the Lebanese (the government or the March 14th movement) don't care that Syria have "invaded". I use the quotation marks because if they just allow the Syrians to cross over, without an protests, it hardly qualifies as an invasion IMHO.

When is Lebanon going to take some responsibility for itself? And if its too weak to even protest, let alone deal with Hezbollah or the Syrians, how can anyone ever expect it to function as a normal country?

Posted by: jonorose at July 9, 2007 08:46 AM

If Israel sent the IDF three kilometers into Lebanon and started digging trenches and building bunkers it would make news all over the world.

Because the "media" are just a bunch of agenda driven Liberals.

Posted by: dcb at July 9, 2007 09:29 AM

Thanks, Michael, once again.

I have written a piece for blogolob

All the best for your trip to Iraq.

Posted by: Steve M at July 9, 2007 10:05 AM

MJT: Syria can, apparently, get away with just about anything.

Dan: It should be noted that Israel can do just the same.

Now that's funny!

Posted by: mertel at July 9, 2007 10:30 AM

It's okay. Nancy Pelosi told the Syrians in person she was down with it, and as soon as she removes the troops from Iraq, Syria can get on with it there, too. snarc.

These people have been sent the wrong message, and a correction, in force, is long overdue.

Posted by: twolaneflash at July 9, 2007 10:56 AM

> It should be noted that Israel can do
> just the same. Note the incursions into
> Gaza Strip recently,

Both of the previous responses to this missed the point. Gaza is not a sovereign anything, nor part of a sovereign anything. Israeli incursions are legal.

Posted by: ad at July 9, 2007 11:18 AM

So much for Nancy Pelosi, the diplomat

Posted by: ToddonCapeCod at July 9, 2007 11:29 AM

Given the nature of my past comments here, I feel the need to preface the following by saying I am absolutely not saying that the alleged Syrian incursion did not happen...

...but...

...every source I've read points back to the same Al Mustaqbal article (or else to Narharnet...which obviously just points back to to said A-M article). Since the Daily Star isn't even publishing anything about it, I am wondering what Michael Young's source is.

Again, I'm not casting doubt on whether or not this is happening, I'm just looking for more than one source on the incident.

Posted by: Naha at July 9, 2007 11:37 AM

Department of "Oh, sh*t":

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070709/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_turkey_1

Not Debka, this time.

Posted by: Asher Abrams at July 9, 2007 11:47 AM

I wonder why there is no other news source for this besides this blog and those who link to this blog...you'd think that this would be big news for those who favor attacking Syria. After all, Syria, according to Bush supporters, currently houses all of Iraq's contraband WMDs. Who's to say that Syria is not preparing to use all those WMDs on the poor Lebanese, or anyone who dares to get in Syria's way?

Posted by: Dan at July 9, 2007 01:30 PM

Dan: those who favor attacking Syria

You meant to say "protecting Lebanon," right?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 9, 2007 01:41 PM

Mr. Totten,

Where were those "protecting Lebanon" last summer?

Posted by: Dan at July 9, 2007 01:51 PM

Dan,

That said, what incentive are we giving Assad that we are men of peace? At this point Mr. Assad is seeing nothing but violence in his future from the likes of the Americans and the Israelis. Why should he sit back and wait for it to happen? I certainly wouldn't. Neither would you.

So you, as Assad (the man doesn't deserve a polite 'Mr') threatened by Israeli armour and American air power, would...

...invade Lebanon?

You don't give a shit about Hamas or Assad, and you clearly don't care about the Lebanese. If someone is doing something, it is because America and Israel left them no choice. That certainly makes things easier in terms of, you know, thinking.

Posted by: MattW at July 9, 2007 01:57 PM

Dan,

Please explain how Syria invading Lebanon is a rational response to any purported Israeli and/or American threat to Assad.

Posted by: MattW at July 9, 2007 01:59 PM

jonorose,

When is Lebanon going to take some responsibility for itself? And if its too weak to even protest, let alone deal with Hezbollah or the Syrians, how can anyone ever expect it to function as a normal country?

Given Lebanon's size, resources, population, Western allies and a lack of bordering neighbours, it ought to be able to fight off Syria.

The problem is the ethnic/sectarian divides. It hampers any major political move and makes even something as basic as uniting against a foreign aggressor impossible. That, together with the Hezbollah problem and all that entails, makes it hard to call Lebanon a sovereign state.

That being the case, it is foolish to expect Lebanon to function as a normal country because it certainly is not.

Posted by: MattW at July 9, 2007 02:15 PM

The problem is the ethnic/sectarian divides. It hampers any major political move and makes even something as basic as uniting against a foreign aggressor impossible.

Translated. HESBOLLAH is Assad's personal representative in Lebanon. Any Syrian incursion therefore is welcomed by Hesbollah supporters like Austrians welcomed the Anschluss.

Posted by: Carlos at July 9, 2007 02:27 PM

That certainly makes things easier in terms of, you know, thinking.

Indeed. Just blame whitey, and the Leftards will welcome you as some kind of grand political analyst and genius.

Posted by: Carlos at July 9, 2007 02:28 PM

Dan: Where were those "protecting Lebanon" last summer?

Why are you asking me? I think you're on the wrong blog. If you don't understand my response to you, you are definitely on the wrong blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 9, 2007 02:30 PM

Carlos,

Translated. HESBOLLAH is Assad's personal representative in Lebanon. Any Syrian incursion therefore is welcomed by Hesbollah supporters like Austrians welcomed the Anschluss.

Yes, it is currently Hezbollah. But Syria has been - at various times - friendly with factions from virtually every sect in Lebanon. Those divisions are easily exploited.

Posted by: MattW at July 9, 2007 03:10 PM

Syria will be laid waste - the Bible predicts it, so be it.

Posted by: Joanne at July 9, 2007 03:25 PM

Dan :
>> Mr. Totten,

>> Where were those "protecting Lebanon" last summer?

Protecting Lebanon from Hezbollah? Where indeed.

The disarmament of Hezbollah that was supposed to occur after Israel's withdrawal in the previous conflict?

No other nation in the world would allow a foreign body to consistently attack it across the border and then flee deeper into its host country while the government of said country did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent the attacks.

If right-wing neo-nazis from Arizona launched missiles across the border to Mexico on a daily basis and ultimately ended up crossing the border to kidnap and kill Mexican nationals and our government did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop it would you be surprised if the Mexican government perceived that as a hostile action?

Keep in mind that Lebanon never took the steps to disarm Hezbollah - providing safe haven and no prosecution of a group in your nation that attacks other nations is tantamount to attacking that nation yourself.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2007 03:37 PM

Poor Mr. Assad. What's a democratically elected president of a progressive democracy to do when the forces of evil--the U.S. and Israel--threaten him with violence for no reason whatsoever?

This man of peace has no choice but to defend his peace-loving nation by invading the aggressive, imperialist dictatorship of Lebanon.

We should all be ashamed that this honorable, perpetually vitimized man of peace has been forced to take such drastic steps, unprecedented in the history of Syria.

Posted by: Tom W. at July 9, 2007 03:38 PM

I'd like to try a different approach with Dan. He's worried about the poor unprotected Hamas leadership and Assad Junior's sensitivities. The poor, peace-loving fellow Assad Junior may feel threatened by Bush and Olmert. But Bush is under the influence of jim Baker, an admirer of the Assad clan and their good works in Syria. Olmert is clever about evading and cutting corners around Israel's laws, the better to enrich himself. But he has no understanding of diplomacy, international politics, grand military strategy, leading a nation, etc. He's thoroughly despised by thinking people here. I don't think that Olmert is much of a threat to Assad, unless he calls Assad: "Israel's friend." That might rouse the Muslim Brotherhood against their divine guide or Caudillo or Conducator.

But in my previous response to Dan, I forgot to ask about the Syrians. How does Assad Junior treat his fellow countrymen, let alone Israelis or Lebanese or Iraqis?? Dan, for your information, the family estate called Syria has been part of the Assad clan's patrimony since 1967 [if I have the exact year]. Assad Junior, Bashar, inherited the family estate from his father. Assad Senior, let's call him Dad, brought several exciting and novel events to Syria. Consider the Palmyra prison massacre about 1980 [if Dan finds out how many were killed in that incident, I will give him a gold star]. Then there was the destruction of Hama in 1982. An estimated 20,000 were killed in three days of Assad Senior's benevolence to the peons on the family estate. Since Assad Junior took over, we have had about a dozen successful and unsuccessful assassinations in Lebanon of politicians, businessmen, journalists, the latter being the kind of folks that one would think that you, Dan, would sympathize with [I accept corrections regarding the number of assassinations]. So, Dan, after you get over your mourning over the trivial problems caused for Israel, Lebanon, and Iraq by the hypersensitive Junior Assad, you might give a thought, even just a fleeting thought, to the plight of the mass of Syrians.

Posted by: Eliyahu at July 9, 2007 03:40 PM

Incidentally Dan, where are those protecting the Palestinians FROM Lebanon? Or do the deaths of innocents not matter when the facts dont fit your blindered narrative?

Posted by: James at July 9, 2007 03:40 PM

Dan has left the premises and gone home to the Bekka Valley awaiting further instructions. Please be patient as "Dan" returns to answer your queries.

Nice work Michael on providing this information. From a military standpoint, I'm not clear on what the Syrian action represents but I would anticipate more of the same as the international investigation on the Assad killing in Lebannon approaches.

Michael perhaps you can write an updated story on what the ramifications of the international UN investigation means for Syria and their actions to forestall such.

Posted by: Romanesq at July 9, 2007 04:30 PM

I don't comment much anymore due both to my new adherence to the Cult of Inevitability, and to the 'limitations' of even quasi-reason which have been rather forcefully pointed out over the last few years.

That said, I have sent you a small donation to help you out in your efforts to inject some sense into the information landscape. Your work is invariably interesting and highlights areas that otherwise I would never see. And I personally very much respect your willingness to " boldly go where no man(well--- precious few anyway) has gone before".

I was watching a report today on the re-burial of some of the victims of the Srebrenitsa 'cleansing',and was as always revolted(AGAIN) more by the performance of the Dutch Military and the UN than by the murderous actions of the Serbian paramilitaries. The Serbs were just doing what people do when things are defined as US/THEM, and the leadership is a collection of demagogic thugs. The WEST --- not so much. What a great contribution to World Advancement ---- set up a 'safe area' so that you can get the potential victims all assembled in one place together, promise that you will be the Dedicated Protectors of the Helpless and then BUG OUT. With your shield or on it, redefined for OUR times. Another proud moment in post-modern History.

How very European . Nuance to the nth, don't you know ? About the same as the efforts in Rwanda now that I think of it.

That is why Syria can do whatever it wishes to do. Same attitudes - - - different locale. Much easier and clearly much safer to just sit things out, and then pontificate meaningfully on the distressing results. More 'civilized', don't you know ?

Things just have to go where they are wanting to go. Sometimes it takes a long while, sometimes not. But the destination is inevitable once the train is in motion. Which I guess is where I came in.

Stay safe and keep up the good work. Few others are.

Posted by: dougf at July 9, 2007 06:28 PM

What really sickens me is that in an interview with Saudi TV yesterday, Olmert basically invited Assad to Jerusalem for talks.

If Olmert thinks he's Begin, he's wrong.

Posted by: jonorose at July 9, 2007 09:27 PM

Thanks for the laugh. Playing with fire? The UN? Groucho would have enjoyed that line, especially since the one using it had no clue how humorous it is.

Posted by: typos_R_us at July 9, 2007 11:04 PM

Jonorose, olmert is sickening. We're anxiously waiting for him to get out. But the swine has the hide of a rhinoceros [both in the usual sense and the Ionescovian sense]. By the way, our overly political attorney general, Mr Mazuz, has finally decided to send one of the olmert scandals to the police for an official criminal investigation.

Combine this fact with Condi Rice's arrival here next week or the week after. One of the howdy-doodys in the State Dept, the spokesman, one MacCormack fellow, declared that now is just a fine time for making peace in the Middle East, thereby overlooking all of the facts on the ground that militate against any lasting peace. Maybe we could have more faith in Condi & Co. if she would focus her efforts on the mass murderous ophthalmoligist in Damascus. Further, if she and the State Dept admire democracy so much, how can they deal with a leader [olmert] who is despised by his own people and has no legitimacy to make any decisions whatsoever??

Posted by: Eliyahu at July 10, 2007 04:24 AM

These days Naharnet / Al Nahar is about as reliable as the:

"... Wouldjabelieveit? There's a guy I know from the bar, whose cousin Ike knows this guy from Dearborn, swears Syria just secretly invaded Lebanon... and, like, no-one even f_ing noticed. Not even the Lebanese.... yeah, thanks, another (hic) Bud Lite... sure...."

...school of journalism.

Posted by: Microraptor at July 10, 2007 07:10 AM

24 hours later and I haven't found a single other source, reputable or otherwise, reporting on this. My guess is A-M was reporting a rumor and Naharnet ran with it (and thus the rumor was regurgitated ad infinitem...including here).

Posted by: Naha at July 10, 2007 07:38 AM

Mr. Totten,

I am commenting on the right blog. Unfortunately it is near impossible to have an actual debate about the subject because the moment you say anything remotely critical of Israel, you are pounced upon by a whole bunch of people. I'd like to have a rational debate on the subject, but I think it really is impossible. No wonder there is no peace in the Middle East.

Posted by: Dan at July 10, 2007 09:06 AM

Also, if Syria was indeed so aggressive why would Ehud Olmert invite Mr. Assad over for peace talks:

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

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

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

Sure doesn't make any sense with what you are writing here, Mr. Totten about a possible war this summer.

Posted by: Dan at July 10, 2007 10:06 AM

Although I haven't seen them spelled out anywhere, I expect Michael has a policy about being civil to others posting here.

And I'd like to keep to that. Really.

But how can you say someone is an idiot and remain civil?

You can't, of course, so I won't.

Posted by: MattW at July 10, 2007 10:34 AM

Comparing the actions of Israel to those of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas is exactly like comparing the acts of our forefathers fighting the revolution to the Iran backed terrorist forces in Iraq: Terrorism goes to intent.

The intent of Islamic forces is subjugation, oppression, and death of anyone not Islamic. The intent of Israel is to defend their right to exist. The reason there is no peace in the middle east is because we keep wimping out and hoping that the Islamics will reign in their crazies (NOT GONNA HAPPEN!). We keep begging Israel not to "overreact". What a crock! The only thing the terrorist Islamofascists understand and fear is a heavily armed Israeli state and a US government with the cojones to back em up.

Posted by: jeffo at July 10, 2007 01:37 PM

jeffo,

The only thing the terrorist Islamofascists understand and fear is a heavily armed Israeli state and a US government with the cojones to back em up.

Really? What evidence do you have to support your claim that "the only thing the terrorist Islamofascists understand and fear" is a heavily armed Israeli state and a US government with the cojones to back em up? I mean, I keep running into Beirut '83 as evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: Dan at July 10, 2007 01:40 PM

In all due respect, how is threatening and committing an incursion upon Lebanon a response to US and Israeli "plots" against Assad? What does victimizing Lebanon do to lessen the threat against Assad from the Americans and Israelis?

I'm afraid to say that making mention of peace talks between Olmert and Assad is a red herring. The point in Michael's article is that Syria is encroaching and threatening Lebanon at this point.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at July 10, 2007 01:42 PM

ElMondoHummus,

With all due respect, Mr. Totten is not saying that Syria is "encroaching and threatening Lebanon." He's is saying the Syria is invading Lebanon. That's the title of his piece.

Posted by: Dan at July 10, 2007 01:59 PM

And sir, once again, the red herring gets raised and the original issue is dodged. You keep on referring to Syria reacting to Israeli and US threats, but their actions - whether characterized as encroachment, threat, or invasion - are against Lebanon. Again, as Matt W succinctly put it:

"Please explain how Syria invading Lebanon is a rational response to any purported Israeli and/or American threat to Assad."

Splitting hairs about the terminology used dodges the question. This is about Syria's incursion/encroachment/invasion/border violation/expedition/whatever you choose to call it into Lebanon. Please explain how Syria invading Lebanon is a rational response to Israeli or US threats.

Posted by: elmondohummus at July 10, 2007 02:52 PM

elmondohummus,

Don't waste your time. It might appear to be a disagreement over big ideas like statecraft and the nature of warfare, but in fact it is one person unable to grasp relatively simple concepts and discuss them in a coherent fashion.

For instance:

What evidence do you have to support your claim that "the only thing the terrorist Islamofascists understand and fear" is a heavily armed Israeli state and a US government with the cojones to back em up? I mean, I keep running into Beirut '83 as evidence to the contrary.

What does that even mean? Is the American response to Beirut bombings an example of an administration with the cojones to use force against jihadi groups? Of course not. There isn't anything that happened after the attacks that anyone could consider to be a serious response. But there it is, right there in front of us.

Again, don't waste your time.

Posted by: MattW at July 10, 2007 03:05 PM

Try the fact that Syria goes in with buldozers.

Isreal goes in with tanks and guns blazing, aiming for UN PEACE KEEPERS!!!
Forcing them to stay in there headquaters so that they don't get to see anything that would be hazardous to their health, (USS Liberty)

Posted by: joe at July 10, 2007 03:55 PM

I'd like to have a rational debate on the subject, but I think it really is impossible. No wonder there is no peace in the Middle East.

You couldn't be more clueless. Read your way through Michael's archive going a couple years back.

Then you can talk when you know who you're talking to. But to say the things you do, my God you know nothing!

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 10, 2007 07:26 PM

Try the fact that Syria goes in with buldozers.

Syria is such a sweet, loving regime, aren't they?

Isreal goes in with tanks and guns blazing, aiming for UN PEACE KEEPERS!!!
Forcing them to stay in there headquaters so that they don't get to see anything that would be hazardous to their health, (USS Liberty)

Don't forget that the evil Joos were responsible for 9/11 as well.

Posted by: jonorose at July 10, 2007 10:06 PM

"Isreal goes in with tanks and guns blazing, aiming for UN PEACE KEEPERS!!!"

These Jews are just naturally evil.

It's a good thing Hizbullah built their bases next to or in UN peace keeper bases to protect them, isn't it?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 11, 2007 04:28 AM

ppl ppl

lets not beat around the (bush)here i think we all know that the secret societies, with the illuminati is backed by the vatican and the jesuits all have a part to play in this. revelations 13 discription of the beast look at prince charles of wales coat of arms and the speach the queen gave during HIS ceremony,in 1969 "this dragon gives you your power, your throne and your own authority" his reponse was " i am now your leige-man and worthy of your earthly worship". So in summary this is all one big plan put together by the new world order (coalition). wake up ppl start asking serious question's (terrorist) lol what a joke its funny how threw these so called terrorist the elite or the new world order have free reign over media you me and everything .....wake up the time is near remember look at the coat of arms of prince charles and look at revelations 13's description of the beast you will find an identical animal as descibed in the good book, the crowns and the dragon ...can someone it is threw jesus that we will be saved NOT THE VATICAN......DONT LET THEM TURN YOU AWAY FROM JESUS PLZ...... good luck and may god bless you and ur loved one ......

Posted by: the rev man at July 11, 2007 05:04 AM

dear, dan, although i highly respect your efforts on this "piece" i am afraid there is no point posting anything on a blog of a guy with "totten" in his name. the israelo-bots are just waiting for someone like you. and it doesn't matter if you are right or not. the israelo-bots don't care.

Posted by: schnuck at July 11, 2007 05:14 AM

Schnuck, what's wrong with the name 'Totten'?

- an israelo-bot

Posted by: Steve M at July 11, 2007 06:15 AM

With all due respect, Mr. Totten is not saying that Syria is "encroaching and threatening Lebanon." He's is saying the Syria is invading Lebanon. That's the title of his piece.

Being literal to the point of idiocy isn't an effective debating strategy.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at July 11, 2007 06:38 AM
<blockquoteSchnuck, what's wrong with the name 'Totten'?

You never heard of the great Rabbi Totten? The Tottenheim synagogue? The Israeli premier, Shmuel Tottencohen? The great Jewish thinker Yosef Tottenjewyname?

Okay, he might be reaching. But this is a thread in which Prince Charles is accused of being the devil, so I guess anything goes.

Posted by: MattW at July 11, 2007 06:58 AM

I love the fact that I get accused of being Antisemitic... But no one contradicts what I said.

Why is that? Why does every discussion about Isreal always end up been those who "hate jews" and "love jews"?

By the way my grand-fathaer was Jewish.

Posted by: Joe at July 11, 2007 07:06 AM
I love the fact that I get accused of being Antisemitic... But no one contradicts what I said.

Yes, your well-founded, highly articulate comment (the CAPS made it even more poignant) had us Zionist warmongers so terrified we played the antisemitism card. You can absolutely infer that secretly we admit and support your terrifying accusations.

And I'm not be condescending out of disrespect. I'm doing it out of fear.

Posted by: MattW at July 11, 2007 07:12 AM

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads and two ginormous ears.

Posted by: drlemaster at July 11, 2007 09:15 AM

Well, I'm off to the "Elders of Zion" meeting.
Matt, Steve, Josh, Andrew, et al, I'll see you guys there.

BTW, who's turn is it to bring the Christian baby's blood? I ask 'cause I'm out.

Posted by: jonorose at July 11, 2007 10:14 AM

This is truly sad exposure of the media bias against Israel. Thanks for blogging it sir.

Posted by: Beau Mccoy at July 11, 2007 10:52 AM

Joe,

I did not find your comment as being antisemitic nor I found anyone accusing you.

Am I missing something?

Posted by: leo at July 11, 2007 01:59 PM

Dan at July 10, 2007 10:06 AM asked and observed:

Also, if Syria was indeed so aggressive why would Ehud Olmert invite Mr. Assad over for peace talks:

...

Sure doesn't make any sense with what you are writing here, Mr. Totten about a possible war this summer.

"In my view the strongest force of all, one which grew and took fresh shapes and forms every day war, the force not of any one individual, but was that unmistakable sense of unanimity among the peoples of the world that war must somehow be averted. The peoples of the British Empire were at one with those of Germany, of France and of Italy, and their anxiety, their intense desire for peace, pervaded the whole atmosphere of the conference, and I believe that that, and not threats, made possible the concessions that were made. I know the House will want to hear what I am sure it does not doubt, that throughout these discussions the Dominions, the Governments of the Dominions, have been kept in the closest touch with the march of events by telegraph and by personal contact, and I would like to say how greatly I was encouraged on each of the journeys I made to Germany by the knowledge that I went with the good wishes of the Governments of the Dominions. They shared all our anxieties and all our hopes. They rejoiced with us that peace was preserved, and with us they look forward to further efforts to consolidate what has been done."
-- Neville Chamberlain, 1938. On the partitioning of Czechoslovakia according to the demands of Germany. Giving us concrete definitions of denial, wishful thinking and most importantly, appeasement.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to extrapolate how such lessons may apply to today.

Posted by: Michael in Seattle at July 11, 2007 02:15 PM

Why might Olmert invite Assad to direct negotiations over the Golan? I am no fan of Olmert, but there are perfectly rational reasons to do so, even if he is convinced that no reasonable solution is possible with Assad.

Consider one possibility. The Arab League is sending a delegation to Israel. The Arab League wishes to present a united front to negotiate broad Israelie concessions for some form of comprehensive agreement. This approach marginilizes Assad both in Syria and in Lebanon as the Arab League has been backing M14 in Lebanon (afterall, Hezbullah is Shia and Assad is, well whatever he is).

Olmert may be thinking that he can use the appearance of potential direct negotiations with Syria as leverage with the Arab League. If the Arab League is convinced that Israel may be willing to sell out Lebanon to Assad for peace and retention of a strategic portion of the Golan, then the Arab League has to sweeten the pot to lure Israel away from such a deal with Syria.

I'll admit that this thought only occured to me recently and I have not thought it through fully, but it is one rationale for leaving a door open to Syria (even as they meddle in Lebanon), at least in rhetoric. I'd appreciate other perspectives.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at July 11, 2007 02:40 PM
If the Arab League is convinced that Israel may be willing to sell out Lebanon to Assad for peace and retention of a strategic portion of the Golan, then the Arab League has to sweeten the pot to lure Israel away from such a deal with Syria.

Assad hasn't - as far as I'm aware - made any such offer. It is a very sensible one to make, but all of the talk from Syria (politicians, state media) is of a full withdrawal or war. Obviously he may be willing to accept such a compromise, but perhaps only after a display of force in order to convince himself and the Arab world that he stood toe-to-toe with Israel and did not blink.

As for Olmert, I very much doubt he is playing the Syrians off against the Arab League. This is a guy making gestures to the Arab League in order to convince them to oppose Iran's nuclear program. Except they already do, to the extent a half-dozen Arab states have announced nuclear energy projects in the last few months. There is, at the very least, parity between the Arab League and Israel thanks to the Iranian issue. Yet he thinks he needs to buy favour.

I guess the short explanation of Olmert's behaviour is the Syrian message: either give us the Golan Heights, or face war. Olmert is taking option one.

Posted by: MattW at July 11, 2007 03:33 PM

What is going on with the world????
what is it with this world you can see exactly what is going on .America is falling hard not military wise but economics wise all the investments are going to china India and they are now introducing European countries albania,kosovo,argentina, you get my drift so what does this mean?

with the world watching heavily on pollution the world's big bankers are looking for a new beginning a new world order .. so what they are doing is introducing test case's to see ppl's reaction to their policies e.g. introducing a military type of rule such case's that identify their recent goals are the aboriginals in the northern territory /London bombings/911 / did you know that London bombing helped with many things including public opinion and with the introduction of 4million new cctv cameras in London to make it a total of 5million now lol, so to me i see us (our world) moving towards military type of existence where the rule of LAW which is made up by a select few families rothschild,wales,rockefellers,bush's and Kennedy’s and Clinton’s all countries which are in peace talks or in the "coalition " . The truth is out there it's just we do not believe because movies/ fairytales are all associated to this sort of topic and ppl automatically presume that it's exactly that a fairy tale or fiction .THEY HAVE DONE IT SMART PPL. they control whats on the media what you listen to they twist everything to see ppl's reactions they recruit celeb's to introduce new things to you so you think it's cool or everyone thinks it's ok so it must be ok .. wake up smell the coffee if you think some Arab organised the whole 911 plot with box cutter knives and inexperienced pilots to fly a plane into a building that was built with that situation in mind /meaning it was able to with stand multiple impacts of airliners and still stand, that the furniture caught on fire and brought that building down in under 10sec basically free falling. At the same speed as it would take if you threw a billiard ball of the roof of the building. it would of landed at nearly the exact time a couple of sec's here or there not a whole one minute and 30 sec's that a scientist calculated it would of taken for a building of that size to pancake on it's self if it really did occur that way ....lol.. and that’s a fact....israel is supported heavily by america so america needs a another reason to enter another war. it's just to good to pass up on can you imagine the support americans would give if syria started a war against israel...lol that is perfect tell me they are going to pass up this oppurtunity ....no chance...it's starting and bush is loving it..he cannot belive his luck or should i re-word that, his happy with the job his secret society is creating for him ....

Posted by: the rev man at July 11, 2007 06:58 PM

Oh, great, a 9/11 truther pushing the same old lies about the buildings in freefall and trying to convince us that the hijackers didn't exist, and hijacking the thread at the same time. Rev's comment is way off topic, but in the interests of truth, I'm going to go off topic briefly myself. Here are some simple links for debunking the tired, old, and long disproven stuff he's trying to push:

http://debunking911.com/

http://911myths.com/

http://wtc7lies.googlepages.com/home

http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=64

... and that is all I'm going to say about that, no matter what the response. Judge those links on their own merits. BTW: The freefall myth is exactly that, a myth. So if you want to pay attention to him, read these links too. But if you have any common sense, you'll realize that someone willing to lie about the World Trade Center tragedy or claim the hijackers didn't commit 9/11 isn't worth listening to in other regards.

Now, let's get away from these few folks trying to derail the thread and move back to the topic, which is Syria's aggression towards Lebanon.

Posted by: elmondohummus at July 11, 2007 09:49 PM

"By the way my grand-fathaer [sic]was Jewish."

Whatever.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at July 12, 2007 01:37 AM

when you said thats all your going to say on the matter you continued why???
that's because you yourself have your own agenda whether your in support of current situation or your just one of them (zionist)trying to stray us from the truth.
im sad that you would of used the links you did i thought you actually had something that was independent and government backed regardless im sure the world in fact people in general are smarter than you would hope for.
One question im going to ask .
WHO HAS PROFITED FROM THIS WHOLE 911 TRADGEDY?
so inregards to returning to syria and israel,
i think this is a new world order agenda it just fit's everytime i look up one of the heads of state in the white house they all seem to be connected to secret societies why???
they are our leaders what is going on in the bilderberg conference that we cant have ourcamera's there, why did george bush refrain from talking about skull and bone's on meet the press,same with john kerry,
we need to know so in summary if they have already created a plan then all they have to do is carefully give to us in a way threw the media where we would say to them are you not going to do something about it .... problem reaction soulution is there way of life .....
so if an israeli syrian war is on there agenda then it's only a matter of time before they start because time is running out in iraq... they need a new war where is that going to come from yes thats right...the current issue we are debating ...... nwo is in progress deny it all you want im sure you will.

Posted by: the rev man at July 12, 2007 01:58 AM

elmondohumus
your a joke..... you really must be blind,
i feel sorry for you. please wake up....

people plz look into it for yourself ask as many question's as possible....
before it's to late.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcHHl_m8ocg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqX8xFbLVTE

Posted by: the rev man at July 12, 2007 03:21 AM

"One question im going to ask.
WHO HAS PROFITED FROM THIS WHOLE 911 TRADGEDY?"

Good question!

Another question would be who has not profited from this tragedy.

Osama Bin Laden's popularity has gone up in the Arab world and his heresy is now widely accepted as the tru Islam. He probably didn't expect the British and Americans to invade his puppet country Afghanistan though.

The American government was the big loser, what with the tragedy costing it immensely in money and respect. The attack proved that America is/was very vulnerable.

The American people were losers too, obviously, since they had to pay for the tragedy.

The airline companies lost customers.

The Jews, Zionists, and Israel were immediately identified as the power behind the attacks by white supremacists.

More "moderate" terrorist groups like the PLO were among the victims because suddenly their terror attacks looked different to the world, although many people still excuse them because they target Jews, not Americans.

George Bush is the big loser, becoming the most unpopular president in some time for his handling of the war started by the attack.

Tony Blair lost votes and support in his party for standing with Britain's ally.

The French president then, Jaque Chiraq, became very popular for trying to slow down the American reaction to the attack.

The German chancellor then, Gerhard Schroeder, didn't have the support for the Afghanistan mission in his coalition and had to risk his post to get it. (He coupled the question of whether Germany should fullfill its treaty obligations with the question of whether he should remain prime minister. Only then did his parties, the Social Democrats and Greens, support the war.)

The Iraqi Ba'ath party lost because they were also Arabs, had just recently started to associate more with Islam, and has stopped UN inspectors from verifying that their weapons program was no longer active. Suddenly what was a good bluff once became a HUGE disadvantage because it attracted British and American forces.

Iran lost a lot of influence in the Muslim world because Al-Qaeda were so much more effective. It took the election of an experienced nutter and several threats against Israel to come back to the forefront of the "resistance". (But Iran profited from the American war against Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Ba'ath party.)

You are asking the right questions, but realise that the difference between you and us is that we have asked the questions AND found the answers.

They say it is a sign of wisdom to ask questions. What they mean is that you can find answers if you do.

Who profited:

Osama Bin Laden
Wahabiism
Jaque Chirac

Who lost:

US government
US people and country
George Bush
The PLO and other smaller terrorist groups
The Iraqi Ba'ath
Iran

The Taliban would have profited had the American and British reaction not been as effective as it was.

Good question... very good question...

But you seem to think that it takes somebody of your intelligence to ask it. Perhaps it does, because it's the obvious question.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 12, 2007 05:32 AM

Andrew Brehm,

Thank you

Posted by: leo at July 12, 2007 08:31 AM

The Taliban would have profited had the American and British reaction not been as effective as it was.

Well guess what, the Taliban are back and so is Al Quaeda.

Very effective, all that.

Posted by: novakant at July 12, 2007 10:15 AM

"Well guess what, the Taliban are back and so is Al Quaeda."

So are you saying Taliban and Al-Queda are profiting from 9/11 after all?

Posted by: leo at July 12, 2007 01:05 PM

the american government has lost ?
yes this is true but let's refrase that and call it the people have lost...
everyone know's george bush dick cheney and all the warmonger's in the usa have considerable tie's to military contract's dick cheney's wife is one of the director's of the most powerfull weapons company in the world,and we all know they never lose they just continue to profit
bin laden is working for the usa why do you think no one has given him up or he has not been found
you see america needs to prove to it's ppl that they need a war on terror and bin laden need's to make the arab world identify with his strugle so like i said before problem reaction solution,
im not even going to elaborate on the matter further because i feel you are one of the zionist in deniel....however ppl are not stupid they are just mislead with the media controlled heavily for zionist agenda's.....and that's a fact plz denie that...
taliban are back oh you think????
how else is george bush going to put more troop's in iraq by identifying the increased need for more soilder's in afghan so they funnel them into iraq...and for to even think iran has lost out of this is a joke they now have a platform where the world will take notice...e.g iraq cannot be governed ...democracy will not work in the middle east.. they want an iron rule over it and america love's that e.g meaning bush cheney rumsfeld past and present.... so in summary the war was a manufactured war for profit he lied to us all why?? for his and his secret societie's gain, who is the carlye group what do they do who is involved with them find out the answer's to these question's and you will see a heavy connection bush senior is one of the senior ppl at carlye ....so the american ppl have lost but dont you even dare suggest that bush really care's how he look's to the ppl his term is finished they are ushering in a replacement to continue his work there is no election's in america only selection's ....this is a fact listen to jfk speach on secret societies before he was executed by his own secret service/ cia ask yourself why?
because he went to the ppl not the hidden big boy's in the white house...
why has no other president acted on kennedy's law where he order's the closure of the reserve bank it is still in congress as we speak ....
yes thats because they all shit them self's and are just puppet's who are told what to do ...
i love the way you say the taliban are back and alquaeda are back it must be true ...lol
you serious read between the line's of course they want them back so they continue to brain wash you and congress to fork out more money...billion's upon billion's have gone to haliburton and carlye boing and the rest who all have ties to either bush cheney or rumsfeld...
i know ppl know your just one of there supporters
so when it all come's out in the wash and it will you will hopefully learn that what they tell you is not alway's the truth.....
but can you explain what the bilderberg conference is for ??
i noticed you did not address what i said about secret societies could it be your one of them?
i have the clip from meet the press where george bush was asked about his secret societies and his reply was i cannot talk about it it's a secret ....his own word's...maybe if you address that i will take your comment's more seriously.

Posted by: the rev man at July 12, 2007 02:38 PM

I assume rev's comments will be deleted soon enough, but they have lead me to propose a new appendix to Occam's razor:

Occam's internet razor: when presented with two otherwise equal arguments, one should give more weight to the argument that capitalizes the pronoun "I".

Posted by: drlemaster at July 12, 2007 03:28 PM

"the rev man",

Please try to write in a more coherent and readable way. While I see the relation between your opinions, your knowledge, and your writing style, I am sure that you can improve at least one of them.

Everybody knows that George Bush is a member of a secretive society. In fact it is well known that John Kerry is a member of the same society. It doesn't mean anything. It means that they studied. I was/am a member of a student association as well. I guess we could make it a "secret society" if we had the time to waste.

What exactly is the "Zionist agenda" that you are talking about? Is it the Jews' right to a homeland and their fight for survival? What is so bad about that? Just leave them alone and you won't have a problem with them.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 12, 2007 03:30 PM

"Occam's internet razor"

I have always followed that principle.

It turns out that bad writing style and ignorance are very related indeed.

If he doesn't pay much attention to how he writes, how can we tell that he pays much attention to what he writes or where he gets his information?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 12, 2007 03:33 PM

NEW TOPIC +++ NEW TOPIC +++ NEW TOPIC

Enough conspiricy already!!!

Here's an interesting story that I think could spark a good debate on this website. It's from The Guardian (a leftwing UK paper, but a generally reliable one for news.)

The headline was:

"Iran's Jews spurn cash lure to emigrate to Israel"

...and the story is basically that Iran's remaining Jewish community has rejected money from an Israeli foundation to move country, even after the cash incentive was doubled. The Society of Iranian Jews said their cultural identity as one of Iran's oldest communities was not up for sale....

http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2125486,00.html

it is based on an articel in Ma'ariv, apparently... tho I've not looked for that one.

So is Iran not as mad and bad and anti-Semitic a place as we thought, or are these Iranian-Jewish people secretly being held prisoner, or are they all Self-Hating Israel Threatening idiots who should be stripped of their Jewish identities.... or what's going on?!

Posted by: Microraptor at July 13, 2007 03:57 AM

From Wikipedia:

"Today, the largest groups of Persian Jews are found in Israel (75,000 in 1993, including second-generation Israelis)1 and the United States (45,000 (first-generation only); especially in the Los Angeles area and Great Neck, New York).By various estimates, between 30,000 and 40,000 (most sources say 35,000) Jews remain in Iran,"

What's going on?

Nothing is going on.

Most Jews left Iran after the revolution and those who stay are being discriminated against. Maybe they want to stay, maybe they don't want to risk anything.

I know an Iranian Jew who fled Iran via Turkey. I don't know if he would have admitted that he wanted to leave before he left.

From the article:

"Hostility between Iran's government and Israel means Iranian Jews are often subject to official mistrust and scrutiny."

The Guardian should try not to interpret facts it reports. There is hostility between the Israeli government (who do not want to do anything to Iran) and the Iranian government (who want to see Israel destroyed). But whether that is a SYMPTOM or the CAUSE of Iranian mistrust of Jews is an interpretation.

But I am sure that if these were any other two countries, the Guardian would interpret it differently. If Germany wanted to destroy France and began mistreating ethnically French living in Germany, would the Guardian argue that German mistreatment of French people is due to the hostility between the countries? I doubt it.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 04:35 AM

TO ALL YOU JEW'S

i do not have anything against your religion i am jewish, or the state of israel, the only thing that i do have a problem with is the secrecy that is put upon us by our government... in fact i support the state of israel financialy and i travel there quite often, and i must say i still have a problem with violence all together i think we need more love in this world...
Now if the only thing that andrewBrehm can comment on was my writting style, then i take that as a complement...really i do (lol) i think that was just a way of saying i have nothing educated to say in defence and i'm going to mock your writing style....lmao...
simple message to you ...
get a life instead of making me look like i am against israel why dont you address the issue's i raised oh sorry you did say you were or are part of a student body.. (oook!) and what does a student association with no member's in congress or a current president as a member have to do with the price of fish .your comparing hi-5 with commando and claiming they are the same thing.lmao.

Posted by: the rev man at July 13, 2007 05:49 AM

Microrapter

they are orthodox jew's and they should not be stripped of their jewish religion... what a joke you serious?
for 5000 years we have lived with the arab's or which ever country, christian/muslim whatever.. the point is we have never had a problem with anybody. Infact we have been good citizen's of which ever country.., why should that change because people want's us to completley turn on each other NO!
IT'S GOOD THAT THEY ARE STICKING THERE GROUND it will show the world the truth we can live side by side and they will except the state of israel...I THINK YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY READ THE TORAH MORE..

Posted by: the rev man at July 13, 2007 06:13 AM

Microraptor

This you must see...
view's expressed are the people on the video's view's and not mine...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuSlsiW9hT8

Posted by: the rev man at July 13, 2007 06:18 AM

"Now if the only thing that andrewBrehm can comment on was my writting style,"

It takes guts to ignore a long response and then claim that it was only about the writing style.

It also takes ignorance or the assumption that everybody else is ignorant. Is it not clear to you that everybody here can see that I wrote a long reply to you???

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 06:32 AM

"for 5000 years we have lived with the arab's or which ever country, christian/muslim whatever.. the point is we have never had a problem with anybody."

For most of the time where there was no trouble, the Jews had their own country and did not live among Arabs, Muslim or Christian.

Ever since the 1930s no minority, Jewish or otherwise, had a very good life in an Arab country.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 06:34 AM

"it will show the world the truth we can live side by side and they will except the state of israel..."

Hm... Israel is the only country I have seen so far where mosques and synagogues stand next to each other.

OTOH synagogues in France and Switzerland are burned down occasionally and I don't even want to imagine what would happen in an Arab country, if there were still many Jews left there.

"I THINK YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY READ THE TORAH MORE.."

Some of the most interesting parts of the Tora tell of stories that are also told in the Qur'an. Perhaps if more Muslims remembered that both Judaism and Islam claim that G-d gave the "disputed land" to the Jews, there would be no conflict?

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 06:48 AM

"So is Iran not as mad and bad and anti-Semitic a place as we thought, or are these Iranian-Jewish people secretly being held prisoner, or are they all Self-Hating Israel Threatening idiots who should be stripped of their Jewish identities.... or what's going on?!"

I know nothing about Iran and Jews living there but it very much reminds me of former Soviet Anti-Zionist Comity consisting of Jews (imagine that) coerced in to participation. It also begs the question, why so many Iranian Jews have left the country despite this rosy picture and whether those people speak for each and every Iranian Jew.

Posted by: leo at July 13, 2007 07:48 AM

"It also begs the question, why so many Iranian Jews have left the country despite this rosy picture and whether those people speak for each and every Iranian Jew."

There are certainly more Jews moving from Iran to Israel than vice versa. Israel's Muslims also don't feel like moving from Israel to Iran.

It seems that in general there are more people who want to move from outside Israel into Israel than there are people who want to move from Israel to other countries.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 08:11 AM

In response to Leo....

It seems from what I've read that the ones (Iranian Jewish people) who wanted to leave left, and the ones who wanted to stay stayed.

What I am interested in is whether the many very pro-Israeli posters who come here - an dthey are legion - think that these Iranian Jews are somehow being "bad Jews" or race traitors for opting to stay in Iran at a time of tensions with Israel.

Or do you take a longer term view, and think that having a Jewish community in Iran will help bilateral relations between Tehran and Tel Aviv in years to come.... maybe when Israel bashing is no longer fashionable in Iranian political circles....

Or are there other more divergent views.

When I read stories like this, it makes me think that both sides in the "With us/Against us" nexus are over-playing the dire nature of the situation in the ME for political capital: ie, a sense of impending crisis suits actors in the security establishments of BOTH Iran AND Israel?

What do you think?

Posted by: Microraptor at July 13, 2007 08:14 AM

"What I am interested in is whether the many very pro-Israeli posters who come here - and they are legion -"

Pro-Kurdish anti-Ba'ath Web sites tend to attract pro-Israeli posters, I suppose. :-)

"think that these Iranian Jews are somehow being "bad Jews" or race traitors for opting to stay in Iran at a time of tensions with Israel."

A Jew who supports a regime like the current Iranian regime is as good or bad as anyone who supports a dictatorship that oppresses minorities. The ethnicity doesn't matter, only what people do matters.

If an Iranian Jew supports the Iranian president, he is supporting evil. Whether or not he is Jewish doesn't come into it.

Are they race traitors? Yes, they are. They commit treason against the human race.

I think, Microraptor, your question is an interesting one. However, you have yet failed to understand that (most of) we Israel supporters don't think of ethnicity as a moral value.

It is the act of supporting the Iranian dictatorship that is morally wrong, the ethnicity of the agent has nothing to do with it.

However, I do realise that Iranian Jews are probably under more pressure by their government even than other Iranians.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 08:30 AM

"a sense of impending crisis suits actors in the security establishments of BOTH Iran AND Israel?"

Why are you assigning a bad quality to both sides of the conflict when only one side is creating the conflict? Is that some kind of logic that says that there must be moral relativism, or else...?

Yes, I think a sense of impending crisis suits actors in Iran.

But I don't see why one would assume that it suits anybody in Israel unless you want to assign a bad quality to someone for reasons other than what he said or did.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 13, 2007 08:34 AM

I recently saw a video on Iranian Jews produced by an Iranian filmmaker. The Jewish synagogues were in a purposely nondescript building (there were 2) and had no outside identification. Apparently Jews from different parts of Iran have different views regarding their security, but it was apparent that they generally hid their religion from their neighbors and were largely politically dispossed. I see no reason to believe that an Iranian Jew living in Iran is a supporter of Ahmedinejad, nor would I assume that they are disloyal to the Jewish people, just careful of what they would say.

As for why they might wish to stay, I can imagine any number of reasons from attachments to one another and their communities, to fears it was a ruse to draw them out or they would not be allowed to leave, to older relatives who can't leave and they would not like to leave behind, to a simple matter of identity. The remaining Yemeni Jews show many of these same characteristics.

Frankly, I think this is an odd question and your stated assumptions based on it are strange. I don't really think any broad assumptions about the political climate between Israel and Iran can be drawn from the example of the remnant Jewish community in Iran. It is certainly in Ahmedinejad's interests to have a small Jewish community in Iran that he can point to and say, "look, I have no problems with Jews, they even have a representative in the legislature," while he holds Holocaust denial conferences and threatens the imminent end of Israel's existence.

The Persian people have had a long and complex relationship with Jews and Israelis. A recent poll suggested that about 70% of Persians would be inclined to recognize Israel if it involved the end of UN sanctions and US economic aid. There is a substantial disconnect between the Persian people and the Irani government, but the power, for now, lays in the hands of the government, and I am unable to read the trends regarding sincere support of the government by the population versus support due to intimidation and fear.

I have seen enough "man on the street" interviews from Iran to be convinced that an uncomfortably high percentage of Iranians buy into many of the anti-semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israeli myths, but I am also convinced that their is a strong independent streak in the Iranian psyche that helps them to keep an open mind. Nevertheless, my concern is not with the Iranian people, per se, but the government and its ability to commandeer its people to do as it sees fit. At present, the government is strongly supported by that fanatical part of the population that sacrificed 100s of thousands of children in the Iran/Iraq war with great religious fervor and that element remains in great tension with the modernists that are often featured in Western news stories to put the friendlier face on Iran.

With regards to a "longer term view," I don't view the Iranian Jewish population as an asset. I view them as Jews, practicing their religion in the place of their birth, to the best of their ability. I can only guess, but I would guess that like most believing Jews, they would like to visit or even live and Israel, but like most feeling human beings, they would want to have the ability to return to their birth homes and fear the uncertain future. Since they might well fear that if they were to move, they wouldn't be able to return and may not be allowed to take their most treasured items or ever again be allowed to visit the graves of the family (this has been a serious problem for Iranians jews who have left the country), that they are incapable of making the break. That does not undermine their identities as Jews, it just makes them human.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at July 13, 2007 11:32 AM

MR,

Yourish discusses the story you reference in the Guardian. Apparently it was taken directly from the Iranian press and its credibility is in question. Please see the below link and follow her links:

http://www.yourish.com/2007/07/13/3421

Apparently, Jews frequently are not allowed to emigrate or denied the opportunity to take their families, thus, for those who do leave, family members are often held back as a sort of hostage. I would point out that this policy is not strictly reserved for Jews. I had an Iranian roommate, a nice pre-med student, at University and he indicated that while he would be allowed to stay if he obtained his medical degree, his parents would have to stay behind. That also seems to be the case with several of the current American university professors held by Iran who went back to visit family. I would imagine that it would be especially chilling to a Jew who wanted to leave for Israel to see a Muslim Iranian living in the United States treated in this manner when they came back to visit family.

Posted by: IMFink'sPa at July 13, 2007 03:38 PM

"the rev man",

Please try to write in a more coherent and readable way. While I see the relation between your opinions, your knowledge, and your writing style, I am sure that you can improve at least one of them.

Everybody knows that George Bush is a member of a secretive society. In fact it is well known that John Kerry is a member of the same society. It doesn't mean anything. It means that they studied. I was/am a member of a student association as well. I guess we could make it a "secret society" if we had the time to waste.

What exactly is the "Zionist agenda" that you are talking about? Is it the Jews' right to a homeland and their fight for survival? What is so bad about that? Just leave them alone and you won't have a problem with them.

It takes guts to ignore a long response and then claim that it was only about the writing style.

It also takes ignorance or the assumption that everybody else is ignorant. Is it not clear to you that everybody here can see that I wrote a long reply to you???

(oook!) where in the above post did you address the issue's i raised of secret societies and secret agenda's. Was it the part where your were claiming your part of a STUDENT association.hmmm ? (lamo)
anyway,long live israel....

Posted by: the rev man at July 13, 2007 08:11 PM

"where in the above post did you address the issue's i raised of secret societies and secret agenda's. "

Rev man, you are a loony. You need a new brain.

Long live Monty Python!

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 14, 2007 06:25 AM

andrewbrehm

i need a new brain at least you admit that i do or did have one however in ur case i think your left with a small green pea inbetween your ears long live monty python...seriously when i read that icouldnt belive my eye's lol me and 6 other scholars were waiting to see your reply and you actually proved us right and i won the bet so thankyou for coming threw with your bullshit, i am $50 richer.. have you heard his message's lol you are a hypocrite hard....you need to grow up and stop trying to push mainstream media uppon us ....honestly my colleges and i can honestly say you are a JOKE! the trouble with you is that you mistake your knowledge for wisdom!!! and trust me your word's which have been forwarded to people of proven education have all come to the same agreement which is; that you must be 21-22 who has been shelterd all his life. you have no experince first hand, which would explain your chidish mainstream view's you need to travel more son ,,or just get out amongest the ppl a bit more to see what is really going on, you KID grow the f@8k up....

Posted by: the rev man at July 16, 2007 09:18 PM

Michael J. Totten .... this is the first and hopefully last article I will read that's been written by you. I don't know how you can call yourself a Journalist when your opinion is as BIAS as any you can possibly see or hear. NO JUSTICE NO PEACE

Posted by: Nas at July 18, 2007 09:32 AM

i could not of said it better... see how they all go quiet when they have no ammunition...guys we need more love not biased reporters feeding there agenda driven boss's so they can earn brownie point's...

Posted by: the rev man at July 18, 2007 04:03 PM
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