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Posted on on August 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

From: Rabbi Michael Lerner  of Tikkun  –

Tikkun Editor’s note:  Uri Avnery, veteran Israeli peace activist and chair of Gush Shalom, combines personal recollections with political analysis to give us some idea of what might happen in Syria in the coming years. We in the Network of Spiritual Progressives pray for peace and liberation for the Syrian people, an end to all the violence and the oppression of the monstrous actions of those sending an army against their own civilian poulation (which would require not just the overthrow of Assad but also of the military/judicial/economic/political elites that shape the current regime), internal reconciliation between the many different communities of Syria, and reconciliation with Israel.  Avnery shows us how complicated that may be and how very different it might look from our expectations. –Rabbi Michael Lerner


Uri Avnery writes:

ONE OF the books which had a profound impact on me in my youth was Phillip Hitti’s “A History of Syria”.

Phillip Khuri Hitti, a Maronite Christian from what is now Lebanon, was educated in Ottoman Beirut and emigrated to the US, where he became the father of modern Arab studies.

His ground-breaking book was based on Syria being one country from the Sinai desert to the Turkish mountains, from the Mediterranean Sea to the borders of Iraq. This country, called Sham in Arabic, includes the present-day states of Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

He taught at Columbia, Princeton, Harvard, and more, and single-hand  pushed for inclusion of Arab studies as the Semitic studies of the culture of this Greater Syrian entity he called Sham while recognizing the great variety of communities that existed in that region.
I remember Arab students at Rutgers University in the end of the sixties clutching his book that went on to have many editions. The book traces back to his 1937 – 1943 History of the Arabs which then morphed after his encounters with zionism into a History of Syria 1957 – 1961 editions.

He contended that Palestine had no roots in history – it was invented so the British can turn over the land to the Jews.

His short biography is: Hitti was educated at an American Presbyterian mission school at Suq al-Gharb and at the American University of Beirut.  After graduating in 1908 he taught at the American University of Beirut before moving to Columbia University where he taught Semitic languages and got his PhD in 1915. After World War I he returned to American University of Beirut and taught there until 1926. In February 1926 he was offered a Chair at Princeton University which he held until he retired in 1954. He was both Professor of Semitic Literature and Chairman of the Department of Oriental Languages. After formal retirement he accepted a position at Harvard. He also taught in the summer schools at the University of Utah and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He subsequently held a research position at the University of Minnesota. Philip Hitti almost single handedly created the discipline of Arabic Studies in the United States.

In 1944 before a U. S. House committee, Hitti gave testimony in support of the view that there was no historical justification for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His testimony was reprinted in the Princeton Herald. In response, Albert Einstein and his friend and colleague Erich Kahler jointly replied in the same newspaper with their counter-arguments. Hitti then published a response and Einstein and Kahler concluded the debate in the Princeton Herald with their second response.[1] In 1945 Hitti served as an adviser to the Iraqi delegation at the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations. In 1946, Hitti was the first Arab-American witness at the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine. Bartley Crum, an American member of the committee, recalled that

Hitti.. explained that there was actually no such entity as Palestine- never had been; it was historically part of Syria, and “the Sunday schools have done a great deal of harm to us because by smearing the walls of classrooms with maps of Palestine, they associate it with the Jews in the minds of the average American and Englishman”… He asserted that Zionism.. was an imposition on the Arabs of alien way of life which they resented and to which they would never submit.[2]

Hitti was a distant relative of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher-astronaut who was killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986.[3] McAuliffe’s mother was Hitti’s niece.

We wonder how many of today’s self-declared Progressives of the Left have ever contemplated the meaning of Hitti’s Arabism?

It takes wise people like Avnery and Lerner to recover these intellectual assets in our effort to make sense of the internal conflict in the Muslim World and to realize the problems they have because in effect the Arabs are not one homogeneous bunch of people as the fast-food politicians dish out to us.


and here is the Avnery article as taken from the Lerner mail – though we had our own mail also:

*Uri Avnery*   *August 11, 2012 * * *

***Bloody Spring* * *

*ON A flight to London in 1961, I had a unique experience.* * *

*On the way, the plane made a stop in Athens and a group of Arabs joined us. That by itself was an experience. In those days, Israelis hardly ever met people from Arab countries.* * *

*Three young Arabs took seats in the row behind me, and I somehow managed to introduce myself and start a conversation with them. I learned that they were Syrians. I mentioned the recent breakup of the United Arab Republic, the union of Egypt and Syria under the pan-Arab leadership of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser.* * *

*My three neighbors were very happy about the split. One of them drew a passport from his bag and passed it to me. It was a shiny new document, issued by Syrian Arab Republic.* * *

*There could be no mistake about the immense pride with which this young Syrian showed me – an Israeli enemy – this evidence of Syria’s new-found independence. Here was a Syrian patriot, pure and simple.* * * * *

*ONE OF the books which had a profound impact on me in my youth was Phillip Hitti’s “A History of Syria”.* * *

*Hitti, a Maronite Christian from what is now Lebanon, was educated in Ottoman Beirut and emigrated to the US, where he became the father of modern Arab studies.* * *

*His ground-breaking book was based on Syria being one country from the Sinai desert to the Turkish mountains, from the Mediterranean Sea to the borders of Iraq. This country, called Sham in Arabic, includes the present-day states of Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan.* * *

*Hitti recounted the history of this country from the earliest prehistoric times to the (then) present, layer upon layer, including every period and every region, such as Biblical Israel and the Petra of the Nabataeans. Everything was part of the superbly rich history of Sham.* * *

*The book changed my own geographical and cultural view of our place in the world. Even before the State of Israel was created, I argued that our schools should apply this inclusive view to the history of Palestine throughout the ages.* * *

*(This would have enraged Hitti, who denied that there was a country called Palestine. In a long public controversy with Albert Einstein, a devoted Zionist, Hitti claimed that the entity called Palestine was invented by the British in order to fix in the mind of people that Jews had a claim on it.)* * * * *

*FROM HITTI I learned for the first time about the many ethnic-religious groups of today’s Syria and Lebanon. Muslim Sunnis and Shiites, Druze, Maronites, Melkites and many other ancient and modern Christian confessions in Lebanon; Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Kurds, Assyrians and a dozen Christian confessions in Syria. * * *

*The European imperialist powers, Britain and France, which broke up the all-inclusive Ottoman Empire after World War I, had scant respect for the diversity of their new acquisitions. However, they both adopted the principle of “divide et impera”. The French excelled in it.* * *

*Faced with a fierce nationalist opposition and an armed uprising led by the Druze, they carved up the rump Syria into small religious-ethnic-geographical statelets. They played on the animosities between Damacus and Aleppo, Muslims and Christians, Sunnis and Alawis, Kurds and Arabs, Druze and Sunnis.*

*Their most far-reaching venture, the division between a Christian-dominated “Greater Lebanon” and the rest of Syria, had a lasting effect. (It was called Greater Lebanon because the French included in it not only purely Christian regions, but also Muslim ones – Shiite in the South and Sunni in the port cities.)* * *

*WHEN THE French were finally kicked out of the region at the end of World War II, the question was whether and how Syria and Lebanon could survive as national states. *

*In both there was an inbuilt contradiction between the unifying nationalism and the dividing ethnic/religious tendency. They adopted two different solutions.*

*In Lebanon, the answer was a delicate structure of a state based on a balance between the communities. Each person “belongs” to a community. In practice everyone is the citizen of his community, and the state is but a federation of communities. * * *

*(This is partly an inheritance from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, but without an emperor or a sultan. It exists in Israel, too – Jews, Sunnites, Druze and Christians have their own courts for personal status affairs and cannot intermarry.) *

*The Lebanese system is a negation of “one person – one vote” democracy, but it has survived a vicious civil war, several massacres, a number of Israeli invasions and a shift of the Shiites from last to first place. It is more robust than might have been supposed. *

*The Syrian solution was very different – dictatorship. A series of strongmen followed each other, until the al-Assad dynasty took over. Its surprising longevity arises from the fact that many Syrians of all communities seem to have preferred even a brutal tyrant to the breakup of the state, chaos and civil war.* * *

*NO MORE, it seems. The Syrian Spring is an offspring of the Arab Spring, but under very different conditions.*

*Egypt is far too different from Syria to allow a comparison. The unity of Egypt has been unquestionable for thousands of years. Egyptian national pride is almost tangible. The question raised by Israeli commentators, whether the new President is first of all a Muslim Brother or first of all an Egyptian, sounds gratuitous to an Egyptian. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is, or course, first of all Egyptian. So are Egyptian Copts, the sizable Christian minority. (Their name, like the word Egypt itself, derives from the ancient name of the country.)*

*The unity of Egypt, like that of Tunisia and even Libya, after the overthrow of the dictators, is evidence of the national consciousness of these peoples. This is not a given in Syria.*

*If the Monster of Damascus is finally removed, will Syria survive?*

*All over the West, and in Israel, pundits gleefully foretell that the country will break into pieces, more or less on the lines of the French colonial precedent. *

*This is quite possible. One of the few options left to Bashar al-Assad is to gather the Alawis in his army and retreat to the Alawi redoubt in the North-West of the country, cutting it off from the rest of Syria. *

*This would lead to much bloodshed. The Alawis would certainly drive out all the Sunnis from their region, and the Sunnis would drive the Alawis out of all the other regions. It could resemble the horrible events in India during the partition of the sub-continent and the creation of Pakistan, if on a much smaller scale .*

*The Druze in the south of Syria would then found their own state (an old dream in Israel. The Kurds in the north-east would do the same, perhaps to join the neighboring Kurdish semi-state in Iraq, a Turkish nightmare. What would be left of Syria would be the eternally competing cities of Damascus and Aleppo.*

*Possible, but certainly not inevitable. It would be a supreme test of Syrian nationalism. Does it exist? How strong is it? Strong enough to overcome the separatism of the communities? *

*I would not dare to prophesy. I can only hope. I hope that the diverse elements of the Syrian opposition unite enough to win the present brutal civil war and create a new Syria.*

*Unlike most Israeli commentators, I am not afraid of the “Islamization” of Syria. True, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has always been more violent than the Egyptian parent organization. By their actions at the time they helped to provoke the terrible massacre in Hama perpetrated by Hafez al-Assad. But political power has a moderating effect, as we are seeing in Cairo. * * *

*FOR ME, one riddle remains. I see on the internet that many well-meaning people around the world, especially on the left, support Bashar.*

*This is a phenomenon that repeats itself. There seems to be a kind of leftist monsterphilia around. The same people who embraced Slobodan Miloševi?, Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Qaddafi now embrace Bashar al-Assad, again loudly protesting against American imperialist designs against this public benefactor. *

*Frankly, this seems to me a bit looney. True, Great Power politics do influence what’s happening in Syria, as they do everything else in the world. But the character and actions of Bashar, following those of his father, leave nothing to doubt. He is a monster butchering his people, and must be removed as quickly as possible, preferably under UN leadership. If that is impossible, owing to the Russian and Chinese veto – why, for God’s sake?! – then the Syrian rebels must be supported as much as possible.* * *

*I HOPE with all my heart that a free, unified, democratic Syria will emerge from this turmoil, another daughter of the Arab Spring.*

*In sha Allah, if God wills it, as our neighbors would put it.*


Posted on on July 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

FROM: Karimi-Hakuk, Mahmood

  • BtS'2012
  • Korhan Basaran
  • Rebeca Tomas
  • Rachel Erdos
  • Celli Contemporary Ballet
  • Olga Pozeli


Monday, Aug 20th Tuesday, Aug 21st Wednesday, Aug 22nd
6:30pm Dance:
Rachel Erdos / Ido Tadmor
Flusso Dance Project
The Glass Wall
7pm Dance:
Rachel Erdos / Ido Tadmor
Flusso Dance Project
9pm Theater:
Olga Pozeli / Noiti Grammi
Olga Pozeli / Noiti Grammi
Thursday, Aug 23rd Friday, Aug 24th Saturday, Aug 25th Sunday, Aug 26th
11am Family:
A Visit from Victoria
12pm Reading:
2pm Theater:
Lina Abiad / Amahl Kouri
Sabine Choucair / Chantal Mailhac
4pm Reading:
This Time
7pm Dance:
Noa Dar
Celli Contemporary Ballet
Noa Dar
Celli Contemporary Ballet
Rebeca Tomás / A Palo Seco
8:30pm Dance:
Korhan Basaran
9pm Dance:
Mancopy Dance Company
Sublime Dance Company
Mancopy Dance Company
Sublime Dance Company
Lina Abiad / Amahl Kouri
Sabine Choucair / Chantal Mailhac



Rachel Erdos / Ido Tadmor: And Mr (the choreographer’s cut) (Israel)

The international premiere of the work And Mr (the choreographer’s cut) is an extended version of the solo ‘and Mr’ commissioned and performed by Israeli dancer and choreographer Ido Tadmor which was originally premiered in August 2011. Since then the piece has been performed in New York, Israel, Korea and Cyprus with upcoming performances in Brazil, Budapest and Hong Kong. This extended version had its Israeli premiere as part of Intima Dance Festival and Summer Dance Festival, Tel Aviv.

Presented with the generous support of the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate of Israel in NYC. Additional support by Between the Seas Festival

(Monday August 20th at 7pm ; Tuesday August 21st at 6.30pm . USA premiere)

Vanessa Tamburi / Flusso Dance: Lost Rights (Italy/USA)

Lost Rights was created by FLUSSO dance project in collaboration with Visa2dance Festival and premiered at the Visa2dance Festival, Dar es Salaam in October 2010. The piece is specifically designed for four young dancers as a combination of movements taking roots in different cultures. The choreography articulates nine vignettes of the life of children in Africa: stories of lost rights and dignity. The piece is inspired by The sky of the last ones, a book that collects articles written by Maria G. Cutuli, an Italian reporter killed in Afghanistan in 2001. Her reporting brought her to Africa, the continent that she loved the most, then to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Her articles cover stories of life, and interviews with witnesses. Tales of women, children and war: “those that we forget because we do not belong to it.

(Monday August 20th at 7pm ; Tuesday August 21st at 6.30pm . USA premiere)

Celli Contemporary Ballet: Irritante (Vexatious) (Italy)

What is vexatious? Sometimes the ignorance is vexatious, the stupidity is vexatious, the arrogance is vexatious. The soul is vexed when is tied to routine. The soul is vexed when is destroyed, when it is abandoned. The man is vexed when he doesn’t know how to express himself, when he’s repressed. Vexatious is the repressed necessity to make art, the only way for hope in a better society. Vexatious deals with the story of an Italian artist who crossed the ocean in search of fame and fortune. The new world gave him a warm welcome and everything he wanted. But soon the success he gained became greed and he forgot what counts most in a man’s life: the capacity to love. After losing everything he had, even his talent, he learned that only love can make you build a bridge across the ocean.

(Thursday August 23rd at 7pm ; Friday August 24th at 7pm )

Noa Dar: Arnica (Israel)

Arnica is an observation of the fluctuating connection between the world of the mind and the reality outside of it in what becomes an intensely personal and intimate work. In its original form Arnica is a collage of 17 solos, each between one and five minutes long performed by three women. For its international premiere at Between the Seas Noa Dar will perform 4 solos set to music by Tom Waits. “In Arnica Dar turns inwards to create a retrospective of ten years worth of choreography, in which she is the centerpiece…The physicality of her movement vocabulary, combined with an incredible sense of composition and balance, marked her as an important force in the dance community.” (Ori J. Lenkinski , The Jerusalem Post).

Presented with the generous support of the Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate of Israel in NYC.

(Thursday August 23rd at 7pm ; Friday August 24th at 7pm . USA premiere)

Sublime Dance Company: [+=1] (Albania/USA)

A new dance work that revolves around a broad investigation of Life’s richness and abundance with respect to Relationships. Relationships here understood and investigated within an abstract level of consciousness. The work tries to explore its multifaceted realm and possibilities of consciousness by multiplication of perspectives.Finding ‘Life’ in the beginnings of relationships by exploring our drives, needs and capacities to maintain ourselves and survive within the constant fight for establishing a connection with the ‘Other’. Finding ‘Life’ in the endless transitional moments wherein two persons start to recognize each other and decide to share grounds. Finding ‘Life’ at the end of a relationship’s journey where emotions, passions, drives, and thoughts manifest themselves differently , and the need for a higher, richer, and more a meaningful experience is at the heart of Life.

(Thursday August 23rd at 9pm ; Friday August 24th at 9pm . USA premiere)

Mancopy Dance Company: EVERY last BREATH (Denmark/Egypt/Lebanon/Palestine)

Four dancers from the Arab world seek out freedom and identity whenever possible. Through their stirred up history, constantly shaken by social and political instabilities, each one of them reveals a personal physical and artistic reality. EVERY last BREATH is a reflection on living in a place where every breath risks to be the last. “The piece […] combines contemporary European choreography with the aspirations of those emerging from unending revolutions, wars and crises” (Sawsan Al Abtah – The Middle East Newspaper). Created in 2005 by Danish choreographer Jens Bjerregaard and open to cross-cultural research and collaboration, Mancopy’s repertoire is built on Bjerregaard’s choreography as well as that of acclaimed choreographers from around the world, including choreographers from Singapore, France, Hungary, and Italy and presenting both stage and site-specific productions.

(Thursday August 23rd at 9pm ; Friday August 24th at 9pm . USA premiere)

Korhan Basaran and Artists: RAu (Turkey/USA)

RAu: a work created to open a new door to the unknown and undefined. In this experimental work, acclaimed Turkish choreographer and dancer Korhan Basaran focuses on challenging and questioning the aesthetic idea of the day and uses revision to explore and invent a new vocabulary in a new language which is aimed to be accessible to all.

(Sunday August 26th at 8.30pm )

Rebeca Tomás / A Palo Seco: Tradiciones Nuevas (USA/Spain)

The phrase a palo seco refers to the “a cappella” style of flamenco music, typically consisting of singing or percussion alone. That stripped-down aesthetic characterizes some of the company’s biggest departures from tradition, featured in this production of Tradiciones Nuevas. While implementing typical Flamenco props, such as the bata de cola (long-train dress) and abanico (Spanish fan), the repertoire in this production will feature the company’s penchant for unconventional fare with an innovative and edgy New York

(Saturday August 25th at 7pm )


Olga Pozeli / Noiti Grammi: When the red Toyota went off the road and sank in black water(Greece)

A prominent politician meets, at a party, a young woman who works for his party’s campaign. After several drinks and a solitary walk on the beach, the politician expresses his interest in the woman. Towards the end of the evening they leave the party together. While driving his car, the politician loses control and the car falls into a dark swamp and immediately sinks into black water. He manages to escape the sinking vehicle, leaving the woman to drown. We follow the story through her eyes -an impressionistic jumble of memories and voices from the past intersected by images from the day of her death. These images, stretched in time and constantly repeated, try to give an explanation for the tragic accident that leads to her slow and agonizing death. A performance on the corruption of power, as well as on our attitude towards the absurdity of a violent and unjust death. Olga Pozeli is the founder of critically acclaimed Noiti Grammi theater company in Athens, Greece, and has directed original devised works as well as plays by Berkoff, Bennett, Mamet, Ives and more. This show is supported by the Greek Ministry of Culture.

(Tuesday August 21st at 9pm , and Wednesday August 22nd at 9pm . USA premiere)

Lina Abiad / Amahl Kouri: I.D. (Lebanon)

4 transgender people from around the Mediterranean set sail and dock in their own new bodies. I.D. is their voyage. With this new work that is haveing its USA premiere at Between the Seas Festival, director Lina Abiad and performer Amahl Kouri continue their mission of expanding the boundaries of Lebanese theater, bringing new works to communities outside of the mainstream. Presented with the generous support of the Lebanese American University.

(Saturday August 25th at 9pm ; Sunday August 26th at 2pm . USA premiere)

Sabine Choucair / Chantal Mailhac: Whispered Tales, from door to door (Lebanon)

A road trip from village to village, looking for Lebanese tales, ordinary people’s extraordinary stories. Stories of love, hatred, neighborhood, life and death. Although they capture details of people’s survival during tough times of the wars in Lebanon, the stories also reflect on the humane and humorous aspects of life. Whispered Tales is a 40min performance, with traditional music and songs, some thyme and oil and Lebanese coffee…

(Saturday August 25th at 9pm ; Sunday August 26th at 2pm . USA premiere)

Special Events

Screening: The Glass Wall

Between the Seas will host a free screening of The Glass Wall, a documentary by Iranian-American filmmaker, theatre artist, educator, and scholar, Mahmood Karimi-Hakak. In 2009 Mr. Hakak spent a year in Israel and Palestine, on a mission to create a theatrical collaboration with participants on both sides of the decades-old conflict in that region. What he discovered was a 760 km (472 mi) concrete Wall that currently makes any such artistic collaboration meaningless, if not impossible. Karimi-Hakak had theatre artists from each side, Palestine and Israel, express their thoughts and feelings towards The Wall, its effect on their creative work and their day-to-day life. They are also asked to imagine The Wall as transparent, hence The Glass Wall, and comment on what they see on the other side. With candid interviews of theatre artists,enhanced by footage of their theatre productions, this film takes us to the heart of one of the most impassioned cultural divides in our

(Wednesday August 22nd at 6.30pm )

Family: A Visit from Victoria

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum presents: A Visit from Victoria Based on the Life of Victoria (Confino) Cohen who grew up at 97 Orchard Street, currently home to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Meet Victoria Confino, a 14 year old Greek Sephardic immigrant who will take you through her immigration story and life on the Lower East Side in 1916. Written by Elly Berke.

(Saturday August 25th at 11am )

Staged readings


An ambitious international collaboration, Benedictus, brings together acclaimed artists from Iran, Israel and the United States: Motti Lerner, one of Israel’s most provocative contemporary playwrights, Torange Yeghiazarian, Artistic Director of Golden Thread, Iranian-American director Mahmood Karimi-Hakak of Siena College and American designer Daniel Michaelson of Bennington College, and dramaturg Roberta Levitow, founder of Theatre Without Borders.

(Sunday August 26th at 12 pm )

This Time

This Time is a new play written by Sevan Kaloustian Greene and directed by Kareem Fahmy. It was developed through a series of exploratory workshops beginning in the fall of 2011 as part of director Kareem Fahmy’s “Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship” at New York Theatre Workshop. The key source material was the memoir Not So Long Ago, by Zeinab Allam which tells the story of Zeinab’s departure from Egypt in the 1960s because of an affair she was having with an American professor.

(Sunday August 26th at 4pm )


Posted on on July 21st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UN Charter, the Responsibility to Protect, and the Syria Issue.

by Qu Xing

CIIS Time: Apr 16, 2012.…

Qu Xing is President of China Institute of International Studies. The article published in China International Studies ( March/April 2012).

Syria has been in turmoil since March 2011. Western countries have intervened in Syria in a high-profile manner since the beginning of the turmoil, first imposing unilateral sanctions on the Bashar al-Assad government, then presenting the Syria issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) twice through the League of Arab States (LAS), then submitting the issue to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), holding the “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunisia, and finally proposing a resolution concerning Syria at the United Nations Human Rights Council. China and Russia vetoed the UN Security Council draft resolutions twice and cast a negative vote at the UN General Assembly. Neither Russia nor China participated in the “Friends of Syria” Conference and both voted against the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Syria.

The stances of China and Russia have drawn much attention from both the international community and Chinese citizens. Some people say that it is easy to understand Russia’s veto of the Western and LAS resolutions since Russia possesses over $20 billion in investments in Syria and maintains a military base there which is the only one left outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Meanwhile, Syria is a huge export market for Russia’s military equipment and Russia remains deeply concerned about the security of its southern border, provided that the Syria turmoil extends to Central Asia.

However, China does not have too many interests in Syria. The two countries are thousands of miles apart and the China-Syria trade was worth only 2.48 billion US dollars (in 2010), accounting for only 0.08% of China’s overall foreign trade. Meanwhile, China’s imports from Syria were worth only $40 million dollars with almost no oil or gas products. The cumulative number of Chinese students in Syria since 1978 amounts to only 131. Chinese labor working and overseas Chinese living in Syria are very sparse and China’s investments there are negligible. Therefore, some people think China’s veto on the Syria issue eludes their understanding.

China does not seek selfish interests in Syria, but China’s attitude towards the UN Security Council resolutions is not perplexing.


“China exercised its veto power in the Security Council because the draft resolutions contained contents that violated the purposes and principles of the UN Charter (referred to as the “Charter” hereafter). These contents may be employed as the foundation for waging an interventionist war, making political dialogue over Syria completely at sea while further escalating the Middle East turmoil and posing negative consequences on global resource supply and economic development. As a result, what China vetoed were violations of the basic principles of the Charter. They were challenging the “foundation” used by foreign or international military blocs to wage war against Syria, the possibility that the West would bombard another Arab state, and the disastrous possibilities if the West were actually to become militarily involved in Syria. While opposing the West’s violations of the purposes and principles of the Charter, China has also been making active diplomatic efforts to promote a peaceful solution of the Syria issue.”

I. The UN Charter does not give the Security Council power to push for regime change.

The Charter is the basic norm governing modern international relations as well as the cornerstone for maintaining international order today. Chapter I of the Charter lays out the four purposes and seven principles of the United Nations. The essence of the four purposes is to bring about settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, to take collective measures for the suppression of acts of aggression, and to remove threats to peace. The core of the seven principles includes sovereign equality of all UN members, mutual non-use of military force, and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. Article 4 in Chapter II of the Charter stipulates that “all Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”. Article 7 in Chapter II states that “nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII.” The logic underlying these statements clearly demonstrates that the United Nations should not intervene in any state’s internal affairs unless it acts according to Chapter VII of the Charter.

What then are the provisions of Chapter VII of the Charter? It reads, “the Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Article 41 authorizes the UN Security Council to take any measure not involving the use of armed force, while Article 42 asserts that the Security Council “may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.” All these mean that the premise for the UN Security Council to take action is “the existence of a threat to and breach of international peace and security,” while the objective of such actions is to “restore international peace and security.” The military conflicts in Syria have caused significant civilian casualties, a fact that should attract the attention of the international community. The Syria issue, however, is a domestic one by nature, since Syria did not have disputes with its neighboring states, nor did it threaten to use force against its neighbors or wage a war of aggression against any states. Therefore, the Syria issue should not be discussed within the framework of the UN Security Council and the Security Council should not intervene based on Chapter VII of the Charter.

With respect to the functions of the Security Council, Chapter V of the Charter specifies that “its members confer on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” thereby establishing its fundamental duty of “maintaining international peace and security.” Chapter V also stipulates that “the specific powers granted to the Security Council for the discharge of these duties are laid down in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII,” meaning that besides the “purposes and principles” outlined in Chapter I and the provisions regarding the “Security Council” outlined in Chapter V, the duties of the Security Council are also illustrated in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII. The regulations of Chapter VII are already elaborated above. Chapter VI prescribes that the Security Council may call upon all parties involved in international disputes to settle their conflicts by peaceful means such as negotiations, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration, and may investigate any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute “in order to determine whether the continuance of the dispute or situation is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.” The character of such “international disputes” which the Security Council is authorized to mediate or investigate is very clear here. Chapter VIII of the Charter stresses that “nothing in the present Charter precludes the existence of regional arrangements or agencies for dealing with such matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security as are appropriate for regional action provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.” According to this, a regional organization (e.g. the Arab League) could take action (e.g. in the Middle East where members of the LAS are located) on the premise that international peace and security in that region are threatened, and these actions do not violate the Purposes and Principles of the Charter. Chapter XII of the Charter lays out provisions about the “trusteeship system” which is irrelevant to our discussion here.

In sum, in all the Charter’s articles regarding the Security Council’s functions, there is no mention of the power to make a member state’s government resign, let alone taking coercive actions to force the government to step down if it does not comply. In the draft resolution submitted by the West to the Security Council through the LAS but vetoed by China and Russia, one article reads as such: “Fully supports in this regard the League of Arab States’ January 22 2012 decision to facilitate a Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system, in which citizens are equal regardless of their affiliations or ethnicities or beliefs, including through commencing a serious political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States.” (Article 7) The true essence underneath this rhetorical maneuvering is to “fully support the LAS’ decision and implement the decision according to the timetable set out by the LAS.” Meanwhile, the most fundamental content of the LAS’ decision is that Bashar al-Assad transfer power within two weeks so that a national unity government can be established in two months.

For China, the problem is not about whether Bashar al-Assad will transfer his power. If the LAS can reach an agreement with all parties concerned in Syria so that Bashar will transfer power in two weeks and a unified Syrian national government could be set up within two months, China would have no difficulty endorsing such a decision since China welcomes any political arrangement supported by all sides in Syria. China does not have any diplomatic scheme aiming to sustain anyone’s leadership or prevent anyone from seizing power in Syria. Does so would go against the fundamental principle and diplomatic practices of “non-interference in others’ internal affairs,” which China has been upholding for over 60 years. If the Security Council passed such a resolution, the purposes and principles of the Charter would be endangered, particularly because another article in the “draft” resolution noted that the Security Council would “review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, […] consider further measures.” (Article 15) The so-called “further measures” here may include “taking actions by air, sea, or land forces” as outlined in Article 42 Chapter VII of the Charter.

Expecting Bashar al-Assad to resign due to the Security Council resolution is politically naïve. With the UNSC resolution, the opposition in Syria would be less likely to compromise while military clashes on the ground would be more intensive in the event that Bashar refuses to quit. Over a month has passed since the draft resolution was submitted for voting on February 4. If the resolution were passed then, the Security Council would have started negotiating whether to authorize the use of force against Syria based on the “timetable” set out by the LAS and contents of the resolution.

Western countries are keen on addressing the Syria issue by following the “Yemen model.” But in pursuing this objective, they seem to have forgotten that the “Yemen model” was not formulated by passing mandatory Security Council resolutions. If Western countries had propelled the Security Council to pass a mandatory resolution requesting regime change in Yemen, it would have caused the deterioration of Yemen’s political opposition and Yemen would not have achieved so much political development today. If we look back further, we find that the West also tried repeatedly to push the Security Council to take coercive measures against Myanmar but failed due to objections from China, Russia, and other states. China was under tremendous diplomatic pressure and was accused by Western media at the time, but it chose to uphold the principles of the Charter. Today, national reconciliation and democratic transition have been initiated in Myanmar. We can imagine, if the Security Council did pass resolutions sanctioning the Myanmar government as requested by the West, opposition parties would have been provoked while political turmoil, such as what occurred in Libya last year, would have occurred in Myanmar. This would have made it completely impossible to launch Myanmar’s political transition peacefully. Both theory and practice have proven that intervening in other countries’ internal affairs through passing compulsory Security Council resolutions will not lead to ideal outcomes. On the contrary, more problems and trauma may be caused in relevant countries. Without foreign intervention, all nations are capable of conducting reforms based on their national conditions,  in the process choosing development paths suitable to the situations in their country. What China has insisted on is that all countries leave enough space and time for the autonomous reforms of other countries throughout the world.

II. The “Responsibility to Protect” tends to be abused due to its extensive definition.

Western countries insist that the UN Charter was formulated more than 60 years ago, but the international situation has undergone tremendous changes since then. With globalization, military conflicts happening in one country impose threats on regional and even international peace and security. Meanwhile, with the development of international norms, humanitariandisasters that occur in one country no longer belong strictly to its own internal affairs. Because of this, reports regarding “the responsibility to protect” were included in the “World Summit Outcome Document” passed by the UN General Assembly in 2005.  Based on this, Western states assert that “the responsibility to protect” provides the legal basis for the Security Council’s intervention in the Syria crisis.

The concept of “responsibility to protect” was proposed at the beginning of the 21st century. Its background was the serious humanitarian catastrophes that occurred in Rwanda and Kosovo in the mid-1990s. In these cases, the international community failed to take effective measures to prevent recurrence, causing people to reflect criticize the system. The concept of“responsibility to protect” appeared thereafter, calling for the international community to intervene in the domestic affairs of countries in order to avert humanitarian disaster. In support of the concept of “humanitarian intervention,” former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote in the 2000 UN Millennium Report that “if humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica, to gross and systematic violations of human rights that affect every precept of our common humanity?” Since the concept of “intervention” was at odds with the principle of “non-interference in one’s internal affairs” specified in the UN Charter, “humanitarian intervention” gradually evolved into the “responsibility to protect.” There have been five important documents in the evolution of this concept. The first is a report entitled “the Responsibility to Protect” published by the “International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty” (ICISS) in 2001. This report stated that “sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe – from mass murder and rape, from starvation – but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the broader community of states.” The second came when the “High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change” submitted a report titled “A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility” to the UN Secretary-General in December 2004, endorsing the concept of the “responsibility to protect.” In the third, which was titled “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all” and submitted by Secretary-General Annan to the 59th UN General Assembly in 2005, Annan expressed that “if national authorities are unable or unwilling to protect their citizens, then the responsibility shifts to the international community to use diplomatic, humanitarian and other methods to help protect the human rights and well-being of civilian populations. When such methods appear insufficient, the Security Council may out of necessity take action under the Charter of the United Nations, including enforcement action, if so required.” The fourth document was the “World Summit Outcome Document” adopted by the General Assembly in 2005, which declared that “[w]e are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate, should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.” The fifth document, “Implementing the responsibility to protect,” was part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report to the 63rdGeneral Assembly in 2009, in which he outlined three pillars of the “responsibility to protect,”including “the protection responsibilities of the state,” “international assistance and capacity-building,” and “timely and decisive response” while suggesting “the time has come to implement the proposal of ‘the responsibility to protect’.”

The concept of “responsibility to protect” has been controversial since it was formulated. Many countries worry that the “RtoP” may become a tool for powerful countries to interfere in the affairs of the weak, or that it may be applied selectively and that its scope will be extended arbitrarily. Venezuelan President Huge Chavez has said that “the ‘responsibility to protect’ is a dangerous concept since it is a tool for America and other Western states to justify their infringement on others’ sovereignty.” Thomas Weiss, a political science professor at the City University of New York, also noted that the legal prospect of humanitarian intervention had been completely ruined by Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq, and that “taking actions irrespective of principles” had led to the irresponsible and selective use of interventions, weakening the legitimacy of the practice.

In the 2001 report titled “The Responsibility to Protect,” it was emphasized that humanitarian intervention aimed to prevent “avoidable catastrophe.” However, assessing what kinds of atrocities are “avoidable” is a subjective assessment that involves much individual evaluation. Another controversial point concerns when exactly the international community should conclude that “individual states are unwilling or unable to protect their populations?” “The Responsibility to Protect” Report outlined six thresholds to authorize military intervention, including “just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, final resort, proportional means and reasonable prospect.”

Regarding the criterion of “right cause,” genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and large scale natural disasters are defined relatively clearly based on relevant international treaties. However, “the threat or occurrence of large scale loss of life” and “situations of state collapse and the resultant exposure of the population to mass starvation and civil war” can be defined very widely. Foreign nations may criticize one state’s military actions against anti-government forces as “possibly causing the occurrence of large scale loss of life,” thus providing a rationale for intervention. The relevant state, however, may well argue that its crackdown on illegal military forces was an attempt to prevent mass starvation and civil war resulting from state collapse, which conforms to the first of the responsibility to protect’s  three pillars advocated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Therefore, its actions should be assisted rather than intervened upon. In fact, the international community granted understanding, sympathy, and support to the Sri Lankan government’s military attacks on the Tamil Tiger based on the “responsibility to protect.”

With respect to the threshold of “legitimate authority,” some Western scholars advocate that “relevant nations or temporary state alliances may take actions as a response to urgent and serious situations should the Security Council fails to fulfill its responsibility to protect.” But the ICISS Report did not endorse such a suggestion, reiterating that “all proposals for military intervention must be formally brought before the Security Council and Security Council authorization must in all cases be sought prior to any military intervention action being carried out.” The Report’s emphasis on the Security Council’s authorization is founded on its due concern that interventions may be initiated arbitrarily according to the “responsibility to protect,” hence why a Charter-based threshold should be set for them. According to this rule, no state or state group can enforce armed intervention in other countries unless they are authorized to do so by the Security Council.

As for the “right intention,” it is stressed in the “Responsibility to Protect” Report that the primary purpose of interventions is to halt or avert human suffering. However, since any military action involves budgetary costs and risk to personnel, it is thus imperative for the intervening state to claim some degree of self-interest in the intervention. In the ICISS Report, the primary purpose of interventions is set as “halting or averting human suffering,” meaning that any other purposes, such as promoting certain kind of values, establishing political systems, or supporting any nation’s pursuit of independence, should not be perceived as legitimate reasons to intervene. However, the notion of “claiming some degree of self-interest for the intervening state” can be interpreted much differently. “Some degree of self-interest” may be viewed as seizing oil and gas resources in the intervened state, demanding favorable investment conditions and market entry, or requesting the intervened state to follow policies that favor the intervening state. The most effective means to realize these goals, moreover, is to infuse values of the intervening state into the intervened, while fostering a regime that is in favor of the intervening state. In fact, traces of these “rewards” for the intervening states can be found in the interventionist wars that took place after the Cold War, which diverged largely from the “justice” of “humanitarian intervention.”

Concerning the threshold of “last resort”, it was noted in the “RtoP” Report that when humanitarian crises occur, armed interference can only be considered after every non-military avenue, such as mediation, arbitration and sanctions, has failed. Looking at the Syria issue now, we see that although the chance of initiating political progress is slim, it is not completely lost yet. The Syrian government has started constitutional reforms and taken big strides on issues such as lifting the ban on political parties and allowing direct presidential elections. About 57.4% of Syrian citizens participated in the referendum on constitutional reforms in which 89.4% voted in favor, indicating that adding up all those who didn’t vote, who abstained from voting and who voted against the reforms, the total took only 48.7% of Syria’s electorates. These figures demonstrate that over 50% of the Syrian public still supports the government’s reform plan while hoping to launch political transitions via reforms. However, whether the political process can be initiated depends largely on foreign influence in Syria. Western nations did not take the chance to promote political progress in Syria, they provided assistance to the opposition and supported their founding of a “Military Bureau” instead, thus narrowing the space for compromise and actually escalating the situation into a civil war. On the other hand, Western countries also sought to wage armed interventions against Syria by passing Security Council resolutions, claiming that they had exhausted all diplomatic endeavors. This is not a responsible option for most of the Syrian people.

As for “proportionality” and “reasonable prospect” factors, the ICISS Report claimed that the scale, duration, and intensity of any military intervention should all be kept to a minimum to secure that the humanitarian objective in question not be hindered. However, this rule was not observed in several intervention cases. According to reports by the U.S.-based “Time” magazine, over 5,000 Yugoslavian policemen and soldiers were killed and 1,500 civilians bombed to death in the Kosovo war, whose casualties were three times larger than those suffered during the Serbian-Arabian conflict prior to the NATO bombing. Resolution 1973 of the UNSC authorized member states to take “all necessary measures other than foreign military occupation to impose a “no-fly zone” and ceasefire in Libya. However, NATO turned “the ban on all flights” into extensive attacks on Libyan governmental forces while turning the “ceasefire” into assisting anti-government troops’ counter-offensives until they seized Tripoli the capital. NATO became involved in the Libyan civil war by helping the opposition’s air force, which went beyond the UNSC authorization of enforcing a “no-fly zone” and “ceasefire.” Prior to NATO’s bombings, thousands were killed in Libya’s internal conflicts. However, the conflicts escalated under NATO’s bombing and the death toll reached over 20,000 when the opposition took Tripoli. In the process, more than one million people became refugees. In Iraq, the U.S. waged war against Saddam and overthrew his regime without authorization from the UN Security Council or any concrete evidence, causing the collapse of Iraqi state institutions. The “rebuilding” of Iraq, however, has been slow and ineffective. More than a decade has passed, and stability has not been restored in Iraq. Meanwhile, ethnic and religious conflicts have been so aggravated that bombings have occurred almost every week, causing mounting civilian casualties. The U.S., however, has somewhat abandoned Iraq. Some impassioned Western “human rights fighters,” who have always been outraged by human rights violations, kept silent and turned a blind eye to humanitarian catastrophes in Iraq, with no one questioning or condemning the atrocities there. All these facts prove that once military intervention has been launched, all limits and rules set in the “RtoP Report” are completely ignored. Humanitarian disasters resulting from armed intervention tend to be worse than the pre-intervention situation, a fact that violates the principles of “proportionality in means” or “reasonable prospect” advocated in the ICISS Report.

To sum up, in theory, the “responsibility to protect” concept is apt to be abused due to its blurred and extensive definition and the arbitrariness of its application. In practice, various thresholds set by advocates of the RtoP to avoid its deviation from the correct path have been neglected and thus not performed their functions. All precedents ended with disastrous consequences, deviating largely from the original intention of the original concept of “responsibility to protect.” The situation should not be repeated in Syria or any other place in the world.

III. Russia’s attempt to promote a “balanced” resolution in the Security Council met with Western rejections.

The UN Security Council held intensive discussions over the Western countries’ draft resolution submitted by the Arab League on January 22, 2012. The key of the discussions surrounded whether to condemn all parties engaging in violence in a balanced manner, whether to impose equivalent pressure on all parties to immediately stop all violence, or whether to leave a door for the UNSC to authorize the use of force against Syria later. Russia proposed amendments to the draft in order to make it more balanced and fair, but most of Russia’s amendments were turned down by the West.

In the preface of the “draft resolution,” Russia proposed to add the phrase “Expresses support for the broad trend of political transition to democratic, plural political systems in the Middle East,” but the West denied this request. Their hidden concern was that, according to Western criteria, Syria or Iran were not the worst cases in terms of promoting democracy and political plurality in the Middle East. Instead, U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf, where it pursues substantial oil and geopolitical interests, have been the slowest to make democratic progress. The US wished to see earth-shattering democratic transitions in “dissident” states like Syria and Iraq, but it did not necessarily hope “the broad trend to go across the Middle East” in order to sustain the political survival of its resource-rich allies.

Article 1 of the original draft went like this: “Condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities, such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protestors and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill-treatment, including against children.” Russia asked to revise the clause “such as the use of force against civilians,” to become “especially the use of force against civilians,” but Western states rejected the request. The key point was, the draft sought to take all accusations against the Syrian government, which were filed by the opposition but not proven by any independent international investigative body, as facts that could be confirmed by the adoption of a UNSC resolution. All these accusations, meanwhile, used words describing “crimes against humanity” as outlined in existing international treaties. Once the accusations were confirmed, the Syria authorities could be viewed as committing one of the four crimes – “crimes against humanity” – upon which the UN could intervene based on the “responsibility to protect” which was illustrated in the “World Summit Outcome Document” adopted by the General Assembly in 2005. Therefore, it would be reasonable and legitimate to conduct “humanitarian intervention” against Syria.

Article 3 of the original draft read, “Condemns all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demands that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop all violence or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative.” Russia suggested reformulating the second part of the sentence to read, “immediately stop violations of human rights, including intimidation of civilians and attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States’ initiative.” The difference between the two was that the revised version implied that armed opposition groups in Syria also committed crimes such as “violating human rights and intimidating civilians.” Facing rejection from the West, Russia further suggested a reformulation of Article 3 as such: “Calls for all sections of the Syrian opposition to dissociate themselves from armed groups engaged in acts of violence and urges member-states and all those in a position to do so to use their influence to prevent continued violence by such groups.” In this way, Articles 1 and 2 of the draft would condemn the Syrian government’s acts of violence, while Article 3 imposed pressure on armed groups and sought to overthrow the Syrian government by force. The revised draft, which was more balanced in calling for the end of violence, was again completely rejected by the West, thus appeasing and even encouraging armed groups to engage in acts of violence.

Article 5 of the “Draft Resolution” demanded that the Syrian government fulfill six duties without delay. The original wording of the Third point was, “withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks.” Russia proposed to amend it to become, “withdraw all Syrian military and armed forces from cities and towns, and return them to their original home barracks in conjunction with the end of attacks by armed groups against state institutions and quarter of cities and towns.”  The West once again turned down Russia’s proposal, with the logical inference that the Syrian government must withdraw its military forces from cities and towns while other armed groups may not stop their attacks against state institutions and cities and towns. We could imagine what kind of situation would appear if such a resolution was adopted and enforced.

The Arab League’s decision on January 22, 2012 was reiterated in Article 7 of the draft resolution, “commencing a serious political dialogue…under the League of Arab States’ auspices, in accordance with the timetable set out by the League of Arab States.” Russia demanded to rephrase the article in the following way: “commencing a serious political dialogue…under the League of Arab States’ auspices, taking into account the timetable set out by the League of Arab States, without prejudging the outcome.” Russia changed “in accordance with” to “taking into account” while adding the condition of “without prejudging the outcome,” all aiming to leave more space for compromises through political dialogue. Again, their suggestions were not accepted by the West. Once the Western draft was adopted as a UNSC resolution, political dialogue would only be a superficial gesture, since the schedule and final result had been unilaterally predetermined by the opposition side. It is hard to imagine that the Syrian government would accept such a resolution.

Article 9 of the draft called for the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with the League of Arab States’ observer mission and to provide all necessary assistance to the mission. In accordance with Article 9, Russia demanded to add a phrase in Article 10. The West rejected Russia’s attempt to include the sentence, “stresses the need for armed groups not to obstruct the mission’s work.”

All amendments to draft resolution raised by Russia were rejected while all condemnations and mandatory requirements put forward in the resolution targeted the Syrian government rather than the opposition factions. Under such circumstances, Article 15 of the draft stated “decides to review implementation of this resolution within 21 days and, in the event of non-compliance, to consider further measures.” Russia finally demanded a three-day delay in its voting in order to grant time and diplomatic space for Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s mediation tour to Syria on February 7, but Western countries again refused. How could Russia not to veto the draft resolution under such circumstances?

IV. China strongly pushes for a political settlement on the Syrian issue.

China and Russia are strategic partners, and it is natural for the two to exchange views and coordinate their actions on key international issues. At the same time, the two are each other’s largest neighboring states and share many common viewpoints regarding international affairs, thus making it easier for them to understand and support each other. More importantly, the draft resolution vetoed jointly by China and Russia contained contents that violated the purposes of the UN Charter, as well as the basic norms that govern international relations. The principles governing international relations are not only guaranteeing the political independence and economic growth of developing countries. They also include determining whether general trends of peace and stability can be sustained in the world and whether China can continue taking the historic opportunity to maintain its momentum of rapid growth. Therefore, adhering to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms of international relations are attempts to ensure a friendly external environment for China’s peaceful development and to protect China’s national interests.

On one hand, China vetoed the draft resolution at the UN Security Council which may have provided a foundation for the West’s armed intervention in Syria. On the other hand, China has been making serious efforts to mediate and promote dialogue among various factions in Syria. Except for repeatedly urging the Syrian government to respect its people’s appeal for political reform and stopping all acts of violence, China has also established connections with factions on the opposition side which do not opt for the use of force in Syria.

China started contacting Syrian opposition groups as early as last August. In early February 2012, China received a delegation from the “National Coordination Body for Democratic Change,” the most influential opposition group in Syria. The Chinese government also sent a Special Envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, to Syria, who met with Syrian authorities and the opposition to push for an initiation of political dialogue. The Chinese government further issued a six-point statement for the political settlement of the Syrian issue via a talk given by a top Foreign Ministry official on March 4th. Ambassador Li Huaxin visited Syria on behalf of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on March 7th, exchanging views with the Syrian government and all parties concerned on the above-mentioned statement. China’s stance can be summarized in six key terms: ending violence, dialogue, assistance, non-military interference, coordination, and unity.

In order to “end violence,” China urges all parties concerned to immediately and fully cease all acts of violence in Syria. China has repeatedly condemned all acts of violence targeted at civilians, including those committed by the Syrian government, which controls the national military force, as well as those by various opposition factions seeking regime change by force. They especially condemn opposition factions engaging in terrorist activities such as the bombing of Syria’s state institutions. Only when all parties concerned abandon the use of force can violence really be stopped and civilian casualties reduced.

As for “dialogue,” China urges all sides to “immediately launch an inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions attached or outcome predetermined,” since this is the key to initiating Syria’s political change. “With no preconditions attached” means that the top priority for all parties concerned is to embark on negotiations instead of shedding blood on the streets and battlefield. “With no outcome predetermined” means that any faction can rule the country so long as there is an agreement reached among all sides. “Inclusive” indicates that all political forces should engage in the political dialogue. Only when no political party is excluded from the process can dialogue truly reflect Syria’s political reality.

With respect to “assistance”, China supports the endeavor of the international community in providing humanitarian assistance to Syria and is willing to contribute to such assistance as well. However, China emphasizes the UN’s leading role in coordinating humanitarian relief efforts, insisting that the UN, or an impartial body acceptable to all parties, should make an objective and comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian situation in Syria in order to ensure the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid. If this is properly implemented, the attempts by certain nations to impose a non-fly zone or enlarge a corridor by force under the banner of “humanitarian assistance” will become futile. Meanwhile, the possibility of turning a humanitarian relief act into a war against the Syrian government would be quite impossible.

Regarding “non-military interference,” China insists that the principles of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations should be strictly observed, and it calls for all relevant parties of the international community to earnestly respect the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Syria. China does not approve of armed interference or pushing for regime change in Syria. It believes that the use of sanctions does not help resolve this issue appropriately.

As for “coordination,” China calls upon the international community to enhance their cooperation in promoting a political solution to the Syrian issue. China welcomes the appointment of the Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis by the UN and the Arab League and supports the Special Envoy in playing a constructive role in bringing about a political resolution of the crisis. China used its veto power at the UN Security Council while casting a negative vote in the General Assembly, but this does not mean China negated the diplomatic efforts made by the Arab League. On the contrary, China endorses the propositions of the Arab states and the LAS on ending violence immediately, properly protecting civilians, providing humanitarian assistance, and avoiding foreign military interference. What China does not approve in the LAS resolution are those contents that may be utilized by the West to wage war against Syria.

Concerning “unity,” China maintains that based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter members of the Security Council should engage in “equal-footed, patient and full” consultation in order to safeguard the unity of the Security Council. This means that no one should force other permanent members of the UNSC to exercise their veto power by pushing a not-fully-consulted and thus apparently flawed draft resolution to vote. Putting a seriously divided draft resolution to a vote while knowing it will be vetoed embarrasses states vetoing it and does not help push for its adoption. This is not a constructive attitude towards problem solving.

Today, Syria is at the crossroads between peace and war. We see two trends developing in the international community. One involves various peace efforts taken to promote Syria’s political process, including the Chinese Special Envoy’s visit to Syria, the six-point statement issued by the leading Chinese Foreign Ministry official, the visit to Syria made by the Russian Foreign Minister, the increasingly rational voice inside the Arab League, some LAS members’ abstention from UN voting on resolutions concerning Syria, and the appointment of the Joint Special Envoy on the Syrian crisis by the UN and the Arab League. The other trend, however, has been contributing to the escalation of the military conflict. For example, some opposition groups in Syria set up a “Military Bureau” abroad while some states ask to provide military equipment and training of personnel to the opposition. Since there are only around 30,000 opposition militants who want to defeat the hundreds of thousands of Syrian soldiers and police by relying on foreign assistance, we can imagine that the intensity of the fights, the devastation wrecked upon state infrastructure, and the tragic casualties among the people.

China exercised its veto power at the UNSC and voted against a resolution in the UN General Assembly. It did this not for the sake of siding with one party or the other. Instead, China does not want to see the UNSC resolution become distorted again to provide a foundation for waging war against Syria, nor does it like to see the complete loss of a rare opportunity for political dialogue, nor does it hope to see another Arab state being shattered under foreign bombing and another group of Arab people, irrespective of their political beliefs, being slaughtered by foreign bombs. Frankly speaking, in today’s world, if the most powerful military alliance is committed “regime change” in a weak state via the use of force regardless of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, it is very difficult to stop. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and in an attitude responsible to the UN Charter, China has been promoting the start of political dialogue in Syria. China is making the biggest effort for peace-building in Syria, and we truly hope that these efforts are successful.





Posted on on June 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Syria’s Christian conundrum.

By Hind Aboud Kabawat, Special to CNN – a June 8th, 2012 article.

A CNN’s Editor’s note: Hind Aboud Kabawat is a Syrian attorney. She is also a conflict resolution specialist and senior research analyst at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, which is based at George Mason University in Virginia. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Hind Aboud Kabawat.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.

As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.

On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the only true guarantor of secularism in Syria and, with it, the acceptance of the Christians as equals to their Muslim neighbors. Further, many Christians firmly believe that what will replace the regime is a fundamentalist Muslim theocracy that will strip Christians and other minorities of their political and civil rights, including their right to practice their religion in peace.

I sincerely believe they are misguided in this belief, and one of the principal tasks of the Syrian revolution going forward is to convince the Christian community to forsake such fears in favor of building a new Syria, democratic and secular, with their Shia, Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Kurd brothers and sisters.

Of course, when Christians do “rebel,” the regime responds with particular outrage and violence: “How dare you Christians criticize us when we have protected you all these years?”

Take, for instance, the case of a young Damascene woman named Caroline, who said she was arrested earlier this year and imprisoned for 25 days in a two-square meter cell. Her crime? Giving children Easter eggs wrapped in paper containing verses from both the Koran and the Bible.

For this simple act of kindness and tolerance, Caroline was interrogated for hours by the secret police, she said. Why, they asked, did she include a verse from the Koran on an Easter egg? Why is she involved in this kind of work? Why is a Christian showing support for the Syrian revolution? Although they did not say it in so many words, their main message was: Don’t you know what would happen to Christian communities when you “lose” the protection of this present regime?

Christians do know what could happen. In the wake of Saddam Hussein’s downfall, the Christian community in Iraq has more or less been decimated; those who haven’t fled the country are confronted with systematic repression. After the civil war in Lebanon, which Christians are generally perceived to have lost, the Christian community remains on the defensive and is shrinking. And in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Coptic Christians – 10% of the population – remain vigilant about their rights and their security.

None of these events has been lost on the Christian community in Syria, which is why many of them have not enthusiastically embraced the revolution.

Many of those who are predisposed to support the revolution do not because of the weakness and division within the Syrian opposition. For a Christian community that is inherently skittish about confronting established political authority, a weak opposition movement does little to allay their fears about challenging an entrenched 40-year-old regime that has shown time and time again its willingness to use brutal violence to silence its critics.

More from GPS: The great Syria divide

There are, however, many Christian Syrians who are, in fact, playing a pivotal role in opposition to the regime. Some, like George Sabra and Michel Kilo, are politically out front and vocal. Others, including many women, prefer to work behind the scenes doing humanitarian work inside Syria’s besieged towns and cities.

Among the Christians performing this vital humanitarian work is Yara Chammas, a 21-year-old woman who is the daughter of a well-known human rights lawyer, Michel Chammas. When unrest erupted in Baba Amr, Yara organized the distribution of medicine, food, blankets and baby milk. Her courageous display of Christian compassion resulted in her being jailed for 60 days over the Easter holidays. Yet not one leader in the Christian community came to her aid. Why? Because many of them vilified her as a “traitor” to their community for deigning to help the “enemy,” i.e., the children of Baba Amr. So much for their sense of compassion and caring.

Despite such hardships, the political engagement of Christians like Chammas hark back to a period in Syrian history when the Christian community was critically important to the political life of the country. Indeed, Christians founded both the Baath Party and the Syrian National Party. One of Syria’s greatest political leaders, Prime Minister Fares Khoury, was a Christian.

But since the advent of the Baath regime, Christians have played a much less visible role in the country’s politics. Minister is the highest position ever held by a Christian since the 1960s, and no Christian has ever held a serious leadership position. Even under the present proposed constitution, no Christian can be elected president.

Given their relative lack of status, why do Christian Syrians remain so loyal to this regime? It likely revolves around their fear of Islamic fundamentalism and their belief that the so-called secular state will be replaced by an Iran-style theocracy. There is also a fear that what will ensue from the collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s repressive police state will be Iraq-style chaos and sectarian civil war.

How can such fears be addressed and allayed? It is time for all Syrians, no matter what their faith, to begin thinking like citizens of a common state rather than just members of a sectarian religious community. Our focus should be on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free press, free markets, democratic elections and an accountable government. Those will be the bulwarks of a free, independent, secular and inclusive Syria.

I am a devout Christian, proud and respectful of the church’s teachings. But in the political realm, I am first and foremost a citizen, a citizen of the new free Syria. I believe that my fellow Christians will come to feel the same way. I also believe the same should be true for our Sunni, Alawite, Druze and Kurdish sisters and brothers.

Recently, a rather extraordinary scene unfolded at the funeral for young Bassel Chehadeh, the young Christian filmmaker gunned down by the regime in Homs.

As thousands from all religious faiths gathered at a church in the Christian Kassaa district of Damascus, security forces bolted the church doors shut and began beating and terrorizing the mourners. The parishioners responded by reciting Christian and Muslim prayers and chanting “Syrians are one people.” It was a beautiful sight.

We are one people, and citizens of one state. Not a Christian Syria or a Sunni Syria or an Alawite Syria. Just Syria, the homeland of all of us.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Hind Aboud Kabawat.


Posted on on June 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN chief: Syria forces shot at monitors trying to reach scene of latest massacre.

Ban Ki-moon condemns massacre at Mazraat al-Qubeir as ‘unspeakable barbarity’ and calls on Assad to implement Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

By Reuters and Natasha Mozgovaya | Jun.07, 2012 | 6:24 PM

UN monitors seeking to reach the site of a new reported massacre of Syrian villagers by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad were shot at with small arms, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday.

Ban, speaking at the start of a special UN General Assembly session on the Syrian crisis, condemned the reported massacre at Mazraat al-Qubeir and called again on Assad to immediately implement international mediator Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.

“Today’s news reports of another massacre … are shocking and sickening,” he told the 193-nation assembly. “A village apparently surrounded by Syrian forces. The bodies of innocent civilians lying where they were, shot. Some allegedly burned or slashed with knives.”

“We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account,” he said.

Ban said UN monitors were initially denied access to the site. “They are working now to get to the scene,” he said. “And I just learned a few minutes ago that while trying to do so the UN monitors were shot at with small arms.”

A short while afterward, a UN spokeswoman said that the United Nations monitors were unable to visit the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir on Thursday where activists say at least 78 people were massacred, and will continue efforts to reach the site on Friday in daylight hours.

“They are going back to their base in Hama and they will try again tomorrow morning,” spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh said. Chief observer General Robert Mood said earlier they had been turned back by Syrian soldiers and also stopped by civilians.

Ban was addressing the General Assembly on Thursday ahead Annan’s expected presentation to the UN Security Council on Thursday of a new proposal in a last-ditch effort to rescue his failing peace plan for Syria, where 15 months of violence have brought it to the brink of civil war.

Speaking to the General Assembly after Ban, Annan also condemned the new reported massacre and acknowledged that his peace plan was not working.

The U.S. administration also condemned the massacre in Hama.

“The United States strongly condemns the outrageous targeted killings of civilians including women and children in Al-Qubeir in Hama province as reported by multiple credible sources”, the White House spokesman said in a statement. “This, coupled with the Syrian regime’s refusal to let UN observers into the area to verify these reports, is an affront to human dignity and justice.”

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, issued a statement to the Syrian people on behalf of Israel.

“We hear your cries. We are horrified by the crimes of the Assad regime,” Prosor said. “We extend our hand to you. Assad is not the only one with the blood of the Syrian people on his hands. Iran and Hezbollah sit on his advisory board, offering guidance on how to butcher the Syrian people more efficiently. It is high time for the voices of the victims in Syria to finally unite the voices of the world against the tyrant of Damascus.”

The Syrian opposition and Western and Gulf nations seeking the ouster of President Bashar Assad increasingly see Annan’s six-point peace plan as doomed due to the Syrian government’s determination to use military force to crush an increasingly militarized opposition.

The core of Annan’s proposal, diplomats said, would be the establishment of a contact group that would bring together Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and key regional players with influence on Syria’s government and the opposition, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

By creating such a contact group, envoys said, Annan would also be trying to break the deadlock among the five permanent council members that has pitted veto powers Russia and China against the United States, Britain and France and prevented any meaningful UN action on the Syrian conflict, envoys said.

It would attempt to map out a “political transition” for Syria that would lead to Assad stepping aside and the holding of free elections, envoys said. One diplomat said the idea was “vaguely similar” to a political transition deal for Yemen that led to the president’s ouster.

The main point of Annan’s proposal, they said, is to get Russia to commit to the idea of a Syrian political transition, which remains the thrust of Annan’s six-point peace plan, which both the Syrian government and opposition said they accepted earlier this year but have failed to implement.

“We’re trying to get the Russians to understand that if they don’t give up on Assad, they stand to lose all their interests in Syria if this thing blows up into a major regional war involving Lebanon, Iran, Saudis,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “So far the Russians have not agreed.”

Apart from lucrative Russian arms sales to Damascus, Syria hosts Russia’s only warm water port outside the former Soviet Union. While Russia has said it is not protecting Assad, it has given no indications that it is ready to abandon him.

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice suggested that if Russia continued to prevent the Security Council from putting pressure on Syria, states may have no choice but to consider acting outside the United Nations.

Diplomats said the West has been pushing Russia to abandon Assad in a series of recent meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with their European and U.S. counterparts.

An unnamed diplomat leaked further details of Annan’s proposal to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who said that if the contact group agreed on a transition deal for Syria, it could mean Russian exile for Assad. The Post article said another option for Assad would be to seek exile in Iran, Syria’s other staunch ally.

Annan’s peace efforts have failed to halt the violence, as demonstrated by a recent massacre in Houla that led to the deaths of at least 108 men, women and children, most likely by the army and allied militia, according the United Nations.

Opposition members said there was a similar massacre on Wednesday in Hama province, with at least 78 people killed. UN monitors were prevented from reaching it, though a pro-government Syrian television station said the unarmed monitoring force did reach the village of Mazraat al-Qubeir.


Majority of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than in other countries.

68% of Israeli Arabs would rather live in Israel than they would be living in another country.

This shows a survey by the University of Haifa.

60% also agree that the state has a Jewish majority.

56.5% accept the country as a Hebrew-speaking

and 58% of the Sabbath as a day of rest.

Prof. Sami Samuha, who conducted the study says, the question is whether Arab Israelis are more representative of the state or they feel connected to the country feel:

“On the one hand, the connection to the land, but on the other hand, there are benefits, freedom, and stability of the  State of Israel.
Israel provides the opportunity for a modern life and economic and political stability, he said. You can not compare the lives of Arabs in the Galilee to the Arabs in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Egypt. But he found among the Arabs that even in Israel there is the danger of a takeover by the Islamists. “

71% of respondents in the survey believe that Israel is a good place to live. Similarly, many also stated, however, they felt discriminated against as an Arab.

(Ynet, 06:06:12)


Posted on on March 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


Project description

The Academic Council on the United Nations System, in close cooperation with the United Nations specialized agencies in Vienna (CTBTO, UNIS), the Czech and Hungarian United Nations Associations, the University of Vienna, the University of Economics (Prague), the University of Szeged, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the European Peace University, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic is proud to announce the launch of the Regional Academy on the United Nations. This international project aims to assist students of international relations their knowledge of United Nations’ mission, values, and work.

The program will offer 40 students from Central European countries the possibility to attend lectures covering the wide range of United Nations activities, held by high-ranking practitioners, who will share their rich experience. It will be organized in form of international lecture sessions for students in participating countries and in addition, students will make field trips to the United Nations institutions in Vienna. This unique opportunity will enable them to talk to well-known experts and practitioners directly collaborating with United Nations. Moreover, students will be required to work in team and do research on topics relevant to the United Nations throughout the year. At the end of the program, they will present the outcomes of their collaboration before a jury of experts at the UN headquarters in Vienna.

Eligibility criteria

The program is open for Bachelor and Master students who study international relations, world politics and diplomacy in the partner universities. Applicants to the program will be selected based on their knowledge and interest in the United Nations. Eight to ten students from each country (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia) will be chosen to participate in the program. After completing the program, students will be awarded a certificate of participation. Those who bring an outstanding contribution will be offered the opportunity of an internship at the UN office in Vienna.

Costs of the program

Participants of the program need to cover all their costs of transportation, accommodation and meals, however the sending institutions might provide funding for some of the costs. Organizer of each session will offer budget accommodation and meals for reasonable prices for the participants.


Preliminary Program:

9th -11th May 2012: session in Prague, Czech Republic

– “getting to know each other”, teambuilding activities, discussion about the UN system and their tasks throughout the year

– Topics: outer space, nuclear safety and security, UN peacekeeping missions

– Partners: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, United Nations Information Centre Prague, State Office for Nuclear Safety, academia

– 3-day programme: lectures, case studies, visit at the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

– Host organizations: Jan Masaryk Centre of International Studies, University of Economics, Prague, and Czech United Nations Association


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11th – 13th October, 2012: session in Szeged, Hungary

– Topics: migration, refugees

– Partners: UNHCR Regional Representation in Budapest, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Immigration Office, academia

– 3-day programme: lectures, case studies, visiting a refugee camp

– Host organizations: University of Szeged and the United Nations Association Hungary


January, 2013: closing session in Vienna, Austria

– Topics: international organizations in practice, career opportunities workshop

– 3-day programme: visiting the UN organizations in Vienna International Center (including “A day with the CTBTO”) – introduction and insight into their work; meeting national representatives from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia; presentation of research outcomes of the teams of students at the Annual Academic Council on the United Nations System Conference; career opportunities session hosted by both the United Nations Information Service and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna; closing ceremony and awarding the diplomas.

– Host organizations: the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.



For Austrian applicants:

For Czech applicants:  


Posted on on March 20th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The UPDATE is for two reasons:

1, on March 13th we had looked at the appointment of former UN Secretary Kofi Annan with hope that his persona could influence events, then we realized that the UN Department of Political Affairs burdened him with a very bad team that we called tainted because all its members were tainted one way or the other. Among them was also Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, former UN representative of Palestine and former Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority.

2. We had also personal misgivings with the inclusion of retired UN employee Ahmad Fawzi who seemingly had a close contact to politically active UN Arab partisans. Mr. Nasser Al-Kidwah was not let in by the Syrians.

Today we learned that  though al-Kidwah was appointed as Deputy to Mr. Annan, now someone who was not an Arab, but part of The Kofi Annan UN Administration – his Under-Secretary-General for Peace-Keeping Operation during the whole eight years two terms – 2000-2008, Columbia University Professor and Frenchman, Jean-Mariw Buehenno, got to be a second Deputy Special Envoy to this Joint Mission of the UN and the Arab League.

Otherwise, it is clear that nothing has been done todate by the UN to help the Syrian citizens who are under siege from their own Government.


We posted earlier:

The 2011 class of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna will be known as Class Kofi Annan in recognition of the 1997-2006 UN Secretary General.…

Kofi Annan was UN Secretary General 1997-2006. Under him the UN put forward the concept of  the “RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT” – which means that it is a Government´s  responsibility to protect its citizens – the most revolutionary idea at the UN since the days of Eleanor Roosevelt championing the concept of HUMAN RIGHTS and her managing the UN Declaration on the subject. Just think of the many dictatorships that are UN member governments and their treatment of their own citizens.

Kofi Annan, among other interests, was also a champion of issues of the Environment and the neeed to do something about air pollution from burning fossil carbons and the resulting effects on the Climate.

The Students of the class of 2011 of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna  recognized the visions of UNSG Kofi Annan by deciding to name the 2011 class after Kofi Annan. We see in this a recognition of the truth, that with with good people on the top, the UN can provide leadership even in the present world condition.

That was BEFORE the UN appointment of Mr. Kofi Annan as negotiator in the Syria internal conflict that bares worries in other UN Member States were governments do not want to lose out to an uprising of their own people like Hosni Mubarak lost out to the people of Egypt. In the case of Libya it was the people plus external intervention by France and Britain that cleared the country of its leading pest, that is why China and Russia do not want any part in international intervention in case of internal strife – they just think of their own regimes – would you expect them to allow external involvement in what they consider their own affairs? How far can you indeed push the idea that democracy ought to be the way of government? Do you expect them to adhere to the two UN niceties of The Declaration on Human Rights and The Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

In the case of Syria these issues come to the forefront and it was Mr. Kofi Annan who was chosen to be the UN standard bearer to confront Mr. Bashar al-Assad with his responsibilities to his own citizens who rightfully detest him.

We liked Mr Annan when he was UN Secretary General, and indeed think he was the best Secretary General since Dag Hammarskjold. We also agree that with his understanding of R2P he is the best man to confront the Syrian establishment, but is he the best negotiator when coming in with a 100% understanding of the truth? Can he reach the needed compromise that stops the shooting? We know he is a skilled negotiator – but here he comes in with all the cards open on the table and this just cannot convince the Syrian regime that time has come to find a way out – something like assuring Mr. al-Assad a datcha in the Caucasus and ranches in Brazil to his Alawite henchmen.

With fighting going on – who will chase out whom? Syria has become home to Sunnis that escaped Iraq, but Syrian Sunnis are now themselves an endangered species even that they are in the majority and not like in iraq where the Sunnis were the minority. If they lose will it mean a strengthening of an anti-Sunni situation or rather a continuation of a secular situation where religious extremes from both ends – Sunni and Shi’a  – present danger to the rest of Islamic Western Asia? Is Saudi Arabia really interested in clearing out the Alawites who are sort of a secular Shi’a group that held Syria together until now?

With above thoughts in mind we read our friend – Anne Barnard’s report from the Middle East and decided to post our doubts that Mr. Kofi Annan can pull it off, and our feeling that he was sent there not with the intent to succeed, but rather as a way to allow the UN to continue to sit on its hands, while the Syrians go on killing their own, and eventually force more people to flee – this as the only way to attempt to quiet down this pesky event – the peace of the dead and gone.

Anne Barnard writes from Beirut for the New York Times:

Massacre Is Reported in Homs, Raising Pressure for Intervention in Syria.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 12, 2012 — Syrian opposition activists said on Monday that soldiers and pro-government thugs had rounded up scores of civilians in the devastated central city of Homs overnight, assaulted men and women, then killed dozens of them, including children, and set some bodies on fire. Syria immediately denied responsibility.

The attacks prompted a major exile opposition group to sharpen its calls for international military action and arming of the rebels. Some activists called the killings a new phase of the crackdown that appeared aimed at frightening people into fleeing Homs, an epicenter of the rebellion that the Syrian government had claimed just a few weeks ago it had already pacified after a month of shelling and shootings.

The government reported the killings as well but attributed them to “terrorist armed groups,” a description it routinely uses for opponents, including armed men, army defectors and protesters in the year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s restrictions on outside press access made it impossible to reconcile the contradictory accounts of the killings, which appeared to be one of the worst atrocities in the conflict. But accounts of witnesses and images posted on YouTube gave some credence to the opposition’s claims that government operatives were responsible.

An activist in Homs, Wael al-Homsi, said in a telephone interview that he had counted dozens of bodies, including those of women and children, in the Karm el-Zeitoun neighborhood of Homs while helping move them to a rebel-controlled area in cars and pickup trucks. He said residents had told him that about 500 athletically built armed men, in civilian clothes and military uniforms, had killed members of nine families and burned their houses, adding, “There are still bodies under the wreckage.

“I’ve seen a lot of bodies but today it was a different sight, especially dismembered children,” Mr. Homsi said.
“I haven’t eaten or drunk anything since yesterday.”

In a video posted on YouTube, a man being treated for what appeared to be bullet wounds in his back said he had escaped the killings in Karm al-Zeitoun. “We were arrested by the army, then handed over to the shabiha,” he said, using a common word for pro-government thugs. After two hours of beating, he said: “They poured fuel over us. They shot us — 30 or 40 persons.”

Both activists and the Syrian government described the attacks as “a massacre,” a day after a special emissary of the United Nations and the Arab League, Kofi Annan, a former United Nations secretary general, left the country without reaching a deal to end the fighting.

News of the killings came as the United Nations Security Council debated in New York, where the United States and Russia, Syria’s main international backer, tangled over how to address the Syria crisis.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Russia and China, which have vetoed previous resolutions aimed at holding Mr. Assad accountable and beginning a political transition, to join international “humanitarian and political efforts” to end the crisis, which she attributed directly to Mr. Assad.

Mrs. Clinton added, referring to shelling and other government military action in Syrian cities over the weekend, “How cynical that, even as Assad was receiving former Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Syrian Army was conducting a fresh assault on Idlib and continuing its aggression in Hama, Homs and Rastan.”

Her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, agreed that any solution in Syria “requires an immediate end of violence.” But he said armed elements of the opposition in Syria were also responsible for the crisis there, and that the Security Council must act “without imposing any prejudged solutions.”

Mrs. Clinton had a separate meeting with Mr. Lavrov, calling it “constructive.” She told reporters he would deliver to Moscow her “very strong view that the alternative to our unity on these points will be bloody internal conflict with dangerous consequences for the whole region.”

The Syrian National Council, the main expatriate opposition group, held a news conference in Istanbul and issued a statement that intensified longstanding calls by some of its members for outside military action. George Sabra, an executive board member and a spokesman for the council, told reporters that it was a moral imperative for the international community to stop the killing and to arm the opposition Free Syrian Army.

“Words are no longer enough to satisfy the Syrian people. Therefore, we call for practical decisions and actions against the gangs of Assad. We demand Arab and international military intervention,” he said. The council, however, does not represent the entire opposition, which has struggled to agree on a unified message and includes people who oppose further militarizing the uprising, which has come to resemble a civil war.


From the UN:

Toll of Syrian conflict: 8,000 deaths, 230,000 displaced

The ongoing conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people, according to UN officials, and forced at least 230,000 Syrians to flee their homes.

Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to the country, said he was expecting a response today from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that included “concrete proposals” to end the violence.


From the Turkish Ambassador:

His estimate is that more then 10,000 is the number of the dead.


Posted on on January 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The New York Times
January 26, 2012
The New York Times

Kiryat Shmona is about two miles from the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Small City Is Home to Israel’s Unlikely Top Team

By JAMES MONTAGUE in The New York Times of January 26, 2012

A soccer team from Kiryat Shmona, a city with a population of 23,000 in the north of Israel, is on course for its first league championship and a qualifying spot in the UEFA Champions League.

KIRYAT SHMONA, Israel — This city is one of Israel’s smallest, a hardscrabble place with a population of 23,000 that is less than two miles from the Lebanese border and through the decades has repeatedly found itself caught in the crossfire of Arab-Israeli strife.

In 1974, Kiryat Shmona was the scene of a terrorist attack in which 18 Israelis, many of them children, were killed. Rockets have clobbered the town during cross-border fighting. Underground shelters are as familiar to the city as traffic lights. And jobs can be scarce.

Yet somehow, Kiryat Shmona’s professional soccer team has become the runaway leader of Israel’s top league, has captured a separate tournament that concluded this week and has begun to turn perceptions of this often-beleaguered community upside down.

For now, the king of soccer in this country is a team that plays in a 5,500-seat stadium, has a diverse 23-man roster that includes six Israeli Arabs and is still adjusting to the curiosity it is creating.

When The New York Times recently contacted Adi Faraj, ( by name – he is an Arab- our comment) the club’s 26-year-old press officer, about doing an article about the team, he was initially convinced the phone call was a hoax.

“Why would The New York Times want to write about us?” he said.

But as its remarkable run of victories mounts, more and more attention will come its way. On Tuesday, a sizable contingent of the city’s residents traveled south to Petah Tikva to watch its team take on a traditional Israeli power — Hapoel Tel Aviv — in the final of the Toto Cup, the first major tournament of the season.

In a grueling contest, Kiryat Shmona surrendered a late goal that tied the score but prevailed in a penalty-kick shootout.

More impressively, the club has an 11-point lead at the top of Israel’s 16-team Premier League, putting it on course for its first league championship and, remarkably, a qualifying spot in the world’s richest and most prestigious soccer club competition, the Europe-based UEFA Champions League.

If Kiryat Shmona gets that far, it will become one of the smallest clubs to qualify for the Champions League and will find itself, at least technically, alongside powerhouse clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid. For comparison, think, perhaps, of a community college somehow showing up in the N.C.A.A. Division I basketball bracket in March.

That this long-shot team — officially known as Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona — has been able to get this far has already shaken up Israeli soccer, which is normally dominated by clubs from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, with their bigger budgets.

Beyond that, the team has given a city that has often felt marginalized and neglected a sense of pride.

“Today, it’s like a dream,” Almorg Moryoussef, a 23-year-old student (by name an Arab – our comment), said as he stood outside Ironi Stadium in Kiryat Shmona last Saturday as the team prepared to play Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon and local fans — nicknamed the Blue Lions — gathered with drums and banners.

“This is the very first time since Kiryat Shmona was established that the city was in the news not because of the connection with missiles, attacks and war, but football,” he said.

The team’s rise can largely be traced to one man — Izzy Sheratzky, a millionaire from Tel Aviv who made his money in Global Positioning System devices that help track stolen cars and who founded the club 10 years ago.

Sheratzky, a native Israeli, began investing heavily in Kiryat Shmona after being moved by images of its being pounded by Katyusha rockets 13 years ago. Eventually, he decided to buy two local clubs and merge them with a dream of taking his new team to the highest level of European soccer.

“In 1999, I saw the wars and the Katyushas and many bombs,” he said in an interview last Saturday an hour before his team took the field. “Many people left Kiryat Shmona. The situation was very bad. There was no work and there was the bombs. I decided to take care of Kiryat Shmona and to help them.”

At first, Sheratzky looked to the city’s immediate needs: a soup kitchen for the poor, a children’s dental clinic, an English-language school. But he concluded that the city’s residents needed something else to bolster their morale, namely soccer. He bought the two teams, one in Israel’s fourth division, the other in the fifth, and began thinking big.

“We were 11th in the fourth league and now I hope we take the championship, and maybe next year I am coming to London for the Champions League!” he said, laughing.

When Sheratzky first arrived, the players thought his talk of rising through the divisions and of one day winning the Champions League was fanciful at best, deluded at worst.

“Izzy came here when I was a player and said we’ll be in the national league, that we’d be champions and after that be in Champions League,” said Yossi Edri, the club’s 39-year-old general manager. “I thought: Who is this man? We thought he was cuckoo.”

But as the team rose steadily, not by spending lavishly on players, but by investing in an academy to nurture young players, Sheratzky’s vision slowly started to become more realistic. Last year, Kiryat Shmona won the Toto Cup for the first time. Now it has repeated, and if it can capture the State Cup tournament and the league title, it will do something no Israeli team has done before.

It will try to do so with a combination of journeyman players, young prospects, a handful of foreigners — including a 27-year-old Argentine-American midfielder, — and, perhaps most significantly, a mixture of Israeli Arabs and Jews.

“For us, this is very important,” Edri said of the roster’s makeup. “With football you can do peace, the Arab and Israeli living together.”

By the time the referee blew his whistle to start the match last Saturday, 2,000 fans had arrived to cheer on their team, despite biting cold. By the end of the match 3,500 were there, still not enough to fill the stadium. Although that would seem to suggest lingering fan apathy amid all the growing success, it might also illustrate the difficulties such a small city faces in operating on a big-league level.

Sheratzky watched the match unfold, smoking a Cuban cigar as the fans chanted in Hebrew, “Kiryat Shmona, the empire of the north!” In the end, Kiryat Shmona won easily, thrashing Ramat HaSharon, 4-0.

Much of Kiryat Shmona’s fan base is of Sephardic descent, reflecting a population that consists primarily of Jews whose heritage is North African and Middle Eastern. But there are other fans, too, like Jay Abramoff, 41, from the United States, who immigrated to Israel 15 years ago and recently moved to the outskirts of the city.

“I fell in love with the whole atmosphere and started coming to soccer games for the first time in my life,” Abramoff said at Saturday’s game. “I’ve been involved with teams that came out of nowhere to win a division. I was in Atlanta 20 years ago when the Braves went from worst to first. It feels the same.”

As soon as the final whistle blew, the whole team linked arms and ran toward the stands where the fans had sung continuously through the match. The players bowed in appreciation.

Appreciative, too, was Coach Ran Ben Shimon, 41, who once played internationally and has presided over the team for the last six years.

“Sometimes when we played the big teams we would be shaking,” he said. “But I have smart players.
Stars — it is not that they are found in the sky, they are also found in groups. So this big superstar in this club is the team and the team spirit.”

Meanwhile, Moryoussef, the student who is a Kiryat Shmona fan, and the rest of the Blue Lions packed up their drums and rolled up their signs, as car horns honked loudly outside in celebration.

Sheratzky stood and observed it all as the stadium’s floodlights were turned off one by one. “Look, over there is Lebanon, over there is the Golan,” he said, pointing at the dark hills that rise around the stadium, highlighting the city’s precarious geography. “No cinema here, they all closed. But football is enjoyed by the people.”

Three days later, his players handed him the Toto Cup after their victory in Petah Tikva and again went over to the stands to thank the fans — some of them singing, some of them crying.

Moryoussef was present, too, just as he had been Saturday. “This is my dream,” he said, beaming. “Izzy Sheratzky is right. We are only happy through football.”


Posted on on December 30th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Uri Avnery’s Column

Shukran, Israel

IF ISLAMIST movements come to power all over the region, they should express their debt of gratitude to their bete noire, Israel.

Without the active or passive help of successive Israeli governments, they may not have been able to realize their dreams.
That is true in Gaza, in Beirut, in Cairo and even in Tehran.


LET’S TAKE the example of Hamas.

All over the Arab lands, dictators have been faced with a dilemma. They could easily close down all political and civic activities, but they could not close the mosques. In the mosques people could congregate in order to pray, organize charities and, secretly, set up political organizations. Before the days of Twitter and Facebook, that was the only way to reach masses of people.

One of the dictators faced with this dilemma was the Israel military governor in the occupied Palestinian territories. Right from the beginning, he forbade any political activity. Even peace activists went to prison. Advocates of non-violence were deported. Civic centers were closed down. Only the mosques remained open. There people could meet.

But this went beyond tolerance. The General Security Service (known as Shin Bet or Shabak) had an active interest in the flourishing of the mosques. People who pray five times a day, they thought, have no time to build bombs.

The main enemy, as laid down by Shabak, was the dreadful PLO, led by that monster, Yasser Arafat. The PLO was a secular organization, with many prominent Christian members, aiming at a “nonsectarian” Palestinian state. They were the enemies of the Islamists, who were talking about a pan-Islamic Caliphate.

Turning the Palestinians towards Islam, it was thought, would weaken the PLO and its main faction, Fatah. So everything was done to help the Islamic movement discreetly.

It was a very successful policy, and the Security people congratulated themselves on their cleverness, when something untoward happened. In December 1987, the first intifada broke out. The mainstream Islamists had to compete with more radical groupings. Within days, they transformed themselves into the Islamic Resistance Movement (acronym Hamas) and became the most dangerous foes of Israel. Yet it took Shabak more than a year before they arrested Sheik Ahmad Yassin, the Hamas leader. In order to fight this new menace, Israel came to an agreement with the PLO in Oslo.

And now, irony of ironies, Hamas is about to join the PLO and take part in a Palestinian National Unity government. They really should send us a message of Shukran (“thanks”).


OUR PART in the rise of Hizbollah is less direct, but no less effective.

When Ariel Sharon rolled into Lebanon in 1982, his troops had to cross the mainly Shiite South. The Israeli soldiers were received as liberators. Liberators from the PLO, which had turned this area into a state within a state.

Following the troops in my private car, trying to reach the front, I had to traverse about a dozen Shiite villages. In each one I was detained by the villagers, who insisted that I have coffee in their homes.

Neither Sharon nor anyone else paid much attention to the Shiites. In the federation of autonomous ethnic-religious communities that is called Lebanon, the Shiites were the most downtrodden and powerless.

However, the Israelis outstayed their welcome. It took the Shiites just a few weeks to realize that they had no intention of leaving. So, for the first time in their history, they rebelled. The main political group, Amal (“hope”), started small armed actions. When the Israelis did not take the hint, operations multiplied and turned into a full-fledged guerrilla war.

To outflank Amal, Israel encouraged a small, more radical, rival: God’s Party, Hizbollah.

If Israel had got out then (as Haolam Hazeh demanded), not much harm would have been done. But they remained for a full 18 years, ample time for Hizbollah to turn into an efficient fighting machine, earn the admiration of the Arab masses everywhere, take over the leadership of the Shiite community and become the most powerful force in Lebanese politics.

They, too, owe us a big Shukran.


THE CASE of the Muslim Brotherhood is even more complex.

The organization was founded in 1928, twenty years before the State of Israel. Its members volunteered to fight us in 1948. They are passionately pan-Islamic, and the Palestinian plight is close to their hearts.

As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict worsened, the popularity of the Brothers grew. Since the 1967 war, in which Egypt lost Sinai, and even more after the separate peace agreement with Israel, they stoked the deep-seated resentment of the masses in Egypt and all over the Arab world. The assassination of Anwar al-Sadat was not of their doing, but they rejoiced.

Their opposition to the peace agreement with Israel was not only an Islamist, but also an authentic Egyptian reaction. Most Egyptians felt cheated and betrayed by Israel. The Camp David agreement had an important Palestinian component, without which the agreement would have been impossible for Egypt. Sadat, a visionary, looked at the big picture and believed that the agreement would quickly lead to a Palestinian state. Menachem Begin, a lawyer, saw to the fine print. Generations of Jews have been brought up on the Talmud, which is mainly a compilation of legal precedents, and their mind has been honed by legalistic arguments. Not for nothing are Jewish lawyers in demand the world over.

Actually, the agreement made no mention of a Palestinian state, only of autonomy, phrased in a way that allowed Israel to continue the occupation. That was not what the Egyptians had been led to believe, and their resentment was palpable. Egyptians are convinced that their country is the leader of the Arab world, and bears a special responsibility for every part of it. They cannot bear to be seen as the betrayers of their poor, helpless Palestinian cousins.

Long before he was overthrown, Hosni Mubarak was despised as an Israeli lackey, paid by the US. For Egyptians, his despicable role in the Israeli blockade of a million and a half Palestinians in the Gaza Strip was particularly shameful.

Since their beginnings in the 1920s, Brotherhood leaders and activists have been hanged, imprisoned, tortured and otherwise persecuted. Their anti-regime credentials are impeccable. Their stand for the Palestinians contributed a lot to this image.

Had Israel made peace with the Palestinian people somewhere along the line, the Brotherhood would have lost much of its luster. As it is, they are emerging from the present democratic elections as the central force in Egyptian politics.

Shukran, Israel.


LET’S NOT forget the Islamic Republic of Iran. They owe us something, too. Quite a lot, actually.

In 1951, in the first democratic elections in an Islamic country in the region, Muhammad Mossadeq was elected Prime Minister. The Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been installed by the British during World War II, was thrown out, and Mossadeq nationalized the country’s vital oil industry. Until then, the British had robbed the Iranian people, paying a pittance for the Black Gold.

Two years later, in a coup organized by the British MI6 and the American CIA, the Shah was brought back and returned the oil to the hated British and their partners. Israel had probably no part in the coup, but under the restored regime of the Shah, Israel prospered. Israelis made fortunes selling weapons to the Iranian army. Israeli Shabak agents trained the Shah’s dreaded secret police, Savak. It was widely believed that they also taught them torture techniques. The Shah helped to build and pay for a pipeline for Iranian oil from Eilat to Ashkelon. Israeli generals traveled through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they helped the rebellion against Baghdad.

At the time, the Israeli leadership was cooperating with the South African apartheid regime in developing nuclear arms. The two offered the Shah partnership in the effort, so that Iran, too, would become a nuclear power.

Before that partnership became effective, the detested ruler was overthrown by the Islamic revolution of February 1979. Since then, the hatred of the Great Satan (the US) and the Little Satan (us) has played a major role in the propaganda of the Islamic regime. It has helped to keep the loyalty of the masses, and now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using it to bolster his rule.

It seems that all Iranian factions – including the opposition – now support the Iranian effort to obtain a nuclear bomb of their own, ostensibly to deter an Israeli nuclear attack. (This week, the chief of the Mossad pronounced that an Iranian nuclear bomb would not constitute an “existential danger” to Israel.)

Where would the Islamic Republic be without Israel? So they owe us a big “Thank you”, too. HOWEVER, LET us not be too megalomaniac. Israel has contributed a lot to the Islamist awakening. But it is not the only – or even the main – contributor.

Strange as it may appear, obscurantist religious fundamentalism seems to express the Zeitgeist. A British nun-turned-historian, Karen Armstrong, has written an interesting book following the three fundamentalist movements in the Muslim world, in the US and in Israel. It shows a clear pattern: all these divergent movements – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – have passed through almost identical and simultaneous stages.

At present, all Israel is in turmoil because the powerful Orthodox community is compelling women in many parts of the country to sit separately in the back of buses, like blacks in the good old days in Alabama, and use separate sidewalks on one side of the streets. Male religious soldiers are forbidden by their rabbis to listen to women soldiers singing. In orthodox neighborhoods, women are compelled to swathe their bodies in garments that reveal nothing but their faces and hands, even in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius and above. An 8-year old girl from a religious family was spat upon in the street because her clothes were not “modest” enough. In counter-demonstrations, secular women waved posters saying “Tehran is Here!”


Perhaps some day a fundamentalist Israel will make peace with a fundamentalist Muslim world, under the auspices of a fundamentalist American president.

Unless we do something to stop the process before it is too late.


Posted on on December 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

A Beirut-headquartered bank is being closed after the US drug enforcement agency’s six years of investigation provided proof that it contained a Hezbollah outlet used to move drugs-money and Conflict-diamonds money wrapped under all sorts of blown-up figures from otherwise legitimate business. In effect this was a financial river that supplied funds to organizations using terrorism as an extension of political  methods. Lebanon, Syria and Iran were involved directly, so were officials and businesses in many parts of Latin America and Africa. Drug money from Europe and the United States also found the way into these financial funnels and direct Caracas – Damascus flights carried some of the goods, as were flights via Africa. The saddest part in this story is that some in the US enforcement agencies were afraid to disclose these findings earlier, as there was the thought that the US will be accused of political motivation. This comes to show that really it does not make sense to protect the criminals from that the Western Press might be inclined to misrepresent.
The article, as per following link, says that eventually those who won were those  that thought to expose a good find in order to get good people on the side of truth.

Funding takeover of important real estate in Lebanon became a means to conquer the State for the Shiia Hezbollah, and form new pressure points  against Israel. This was the opposite of what we consider as Sustainable Development.


Posted on on September 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

“It is a moment of truth, and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world.”

QUOTATION OF THE DAY – MAHMOUD ABBAS, the Palestinian leader, in a speech formally requesting full United Nations membership for his as yet undefined country.


Full Transcript Of Netanyahu Speech At UN General Assembly.

(Friday, September 23rd, 2011)

United Nations Headquarters, New York City, New York
Friday, September 23, 2011

PRIME MIN. NETANYAHU: Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the           Jewish people, I  extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with                                                                                                                    whom we have made peace. I extend it  to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was braided — branded, rather — shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the — the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide — they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.

That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have.

Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents — in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.

Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday — can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.

This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.

And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous. Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza. It’s determined to tear apart the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan. It’s poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the West. It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.

Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times — if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises. And this theory sounds simple. Basically it goes like this: Leave the territory, and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay. And don’t worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself; international troops will do the job.

These people say to me constantly: Just make a sweeping offer, and everything will work out. You know, there’s only one problem with that theory. We’ve tried it and it hasn’t worked. In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands. Arafat rejected it. The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed a thousand Israeli lives.

Prime Minister Olmert afterwards made an even more sweeping offer, in 2008. President Abbas didn’t even respond to it.

But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers. We actually left territory. We withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from every square inch of Gaza in 2005. That didn’t calm the Islamic storm, the militant Islamic storm that threatens us. It only brought the storm closer and make it stronger.

Hezbollah and Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated. See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn’t defeat the radicals, the moderates were devoured by the radicals. And I regret to say that international troops like UNIFIL in Lebanon and UBAM (ph) in Gaza didn’t stop the radicals from attacking Israel.

We left Gaza hoping for peace.

We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don’t think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of — out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even — we even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn’t get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day — in one day.

President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams. Yeah, hopes, dreams and 10,000 missiles and Grad rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.

Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities. So you might understand that, given all this, Israelis rightly ask: What’s to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank? See, most of our major cities in the south of the country are within a few dozen kilometers from Gaza. But in the center of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers away from the edge of the West Bank.

So I want to ask you. Would any of you — would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we’re not prepared to have another Gaza there. And that’s why we need to have real security arrangements, which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.

Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza. Many of Israel’s critics ignore them. They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again. Your read what these people say and it’s as if nothing happened — just repeating the same advice, the same formulas as though none of this happened.

And these critics continue to press Israel to make far-reaching concessions without first assuring Israel’s security. They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen. They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out, or at the very least jam an iron bar between its gaping jaws.

So in the face of the labels and the libels, Israel must heed better advice. Better a bad press than a good eulogy, and better still would be a fair press whose sense of history extends beyond breakfast, and which recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed, but they will not be addressed without negotiations. And the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide.

I want to put it for you in perspective, because you’re all in the city. That’s about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. It’s the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University. And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

So how do you — how do you protect such a tiny country, surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran? Obviously you can’t defend it from within that narrow space alone. Israel needs greater strategic depth, and that’s exactly why Security Council Resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure and defensible boundaries. And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long-term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.

I explained this to President Abbas. He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements. Why not? America has had troops in Japan, Germany and South Korea for more than a half a century. Britain has had an airspace in Cyprus or rather an air base in Cyprus. France has forces in three independent African nations. None of these states claim that they’re not sovereign countries.

And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed. Take the issue of airspace. Again, Israel’s small dimensions create huge security problems. America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours. To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes. So is Israel’s tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?

Our major international airport is a few kilometers away from the West Bank. Without peace, will our planes become targets for antiaircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state? And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank? It’s not merely the West Bank, it’s the West Bank mountains. It just dominates the coastal plain where most of Israel’s population sits below. How could we prevent the smuggling into these mountains of those missiles that could be fired on our cities?

I bring up these problems because they’re not theoretical problems. They’re very real. And for Israelis, they’re life-and- death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared, not afterwards, because if you leave it afterwards, they won’t be sealed. And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.

The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this. After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. We will be the first.

And there’s one more thing. Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier Gilad Shalit captive for five years.

They haven’t given even one Red Cross visit. He’s held in a dungeon, in darkness, against all international norms. Gilad Shalit is the son of Aviva and Noam Shalit. He is the grandson of Zvi Shalit, who escaped the Holocaust by coming to the — in the 1930s as a boy to the land of Israel. Gilad Shalit is the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. If you want to — if you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass.

Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel in Bar-Ilan University, this year in the Knesset and in the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state. Yes, the Jewish state. After all, this is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago. Now, don’t you think it’s about time that Palestinians did the same?

The Jewish state of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than 1 million Arab citizens of Israel. I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day — in fact, I think they made it right here in New York — they said the Palestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew-free — Judenrein. That’s ethnic cleansing. There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death. That’s racism. And you know which laws this evokes.

Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state. We just don’t want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state. (Applause.) We want to give up — we want them to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.

President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that’s odd. Our conflict has been raging for — was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the — I guess that the settlements he’s talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva. Maybe that’s what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn’t say from 1967; he said from 1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict. (Applause.)

The settlements have to be — it’s an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border.

I think it’s time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in 1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state.

President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises. We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects. They should live in a free state of their own. But they should be ready, like us, for compromise. And we will know that they’re ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel’s security requirements seriously and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.

I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem. That’s like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London. You know why we’re called “Jews”? Because we come from Judea.

In my office in Jerusalem, there’s a — there’s an ancient seal. It’s a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there’s a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That’s my last name. My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin — Binyamin — the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria 4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.

And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back: Jews in Spain, on the eve of their expulsion; Jews in the Ukraine, fleeing the pogroms; Jews fighting the Warsaw Ghetto, as the Nazis were circling around it. They never stopped praying, they never stopped yearning. They whispered: Next year in Jerusalem. Next year in the promised land.

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace. I’ve worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples. He still didn’t respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas; this facilitated a fantastic growth in the Palestinian economy. But again — no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months. No prime minister did that before, ever. Once again — you applaud, but there was no response. No response.

In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks. There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn’t like. There were things there about the Jewish state that I’m sure the Palestinians didn’t like.

But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.

President Abbas, why don’t you join me? We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace.

I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield. I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion. President Abbas, you’ve dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause. Must this conflict continue for generations, or will we enable our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it? That’s what we should aim for, and that’s what I believe we can achieve.

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’ve both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations. Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?

And I suggest we talk openly and honestly. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s do as we say in the Middle East: Let’s talk “doogli” (ph). That means straightforward. I’ll tell you my needs and concerns. You’ll tell me yours. And with God’s help, we’ll find the common ground of peace.

There’s an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand. Well, the same is true of peace. I cannot make peace alone. I cannot make peace without you. President Abbas, I extend my hand — the hand of Israel — in peace. I hope that you will grasp that hand. We are both the sons of Abraham. My people call him Avraham. Your people call him Ibrahim. We share the same patriarch. We dwell in the same land. Our destinies are intertwined. Let us realize the vision of Isaiah — (speaks in Hebrew) — “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.” Let that light be the light of peace.


At the end of the day we learned from the UN:

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent Palestine’s application to become a United Nations Member State to the Security Council for its consideration after receiving the bid from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier today.

Mr. Ban said he sent the application to Ambassador Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, which holds the Council presidency this month, in line with the provisions of the UN Charter. Palestine currently has observer status at the UN.

Any application for UN membership is considered by the Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission to the 193-member General Assembly, which then has to adopt a resolution for the admission of a Member State.

Mr. Salam said he would convene Council members on Monday to hold consultations on the Palestinian application.

Members of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States – met today in New York and took note of the application.

In a statement issued after their meeting, the Quartet members reiterated appeals to the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct bilateral negotiations without delays or preconditions.

Saying it accepts that a meeting will not in itself re-establish the necessary trust for formal negotiations to succeed, the Quartet proposed a series of steps and a timetable with the aim of reaching a lasting Middle East peace agreement by the end of next year.

A preparatory meeting between the two sides would be held within a month to agree on the agenda and method for negotiations, and then within three months the Israelis and Palestinians would be expected to produce “comprehensive proposals… on territory and security” and to have made substantial progress on those issues a further three months later.

To support this plan an international conference will be convened by the Quartet in Moscow, while a donor conference to generate financial support for Palestinian State-building will also be staged.

Earlier, in his address to the Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Abbas said the application for full membership of the UN is on the basis of the so-called 4 June 1967 borders.

“Palestine is being reborn. This is my message,” he said, adding that he hoped it did not have to wait long for the application to be approved.

Mr. Abbas said that Israeli Government policies were responsible “for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process.”

He cited the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the refusal of permits for Palestinians to build in East Jerusalem, and the extensive number of military checkpoints limiting Palestinian movement and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip as examples of such policies.

“All of these actions taken by Israel in our country are unilateral actions and are not based on any earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation.”

He stressed that over the past two years Palestinian authorities have worked hard to implement a programme of building up State institutions, as well as strengthening civil society, increasing government accountability and promoting the participation of women in public life.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the Assembly today, saying that lasting peace in the Middle East will only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and not through any UN resolutions.”


Cheers for Mahmoud — silence for Bibi.

by Benny Anni, The New York Post, September 24, 2011

The United Nations — minus the US and Israeli delegations — erupted in rounds of applause yesterday as an uncharismatic Palestinian leader mercilessly attacked Israel. Turtle Bay was almost stone silent a bit later, when one of the best orators in Israel’s history called for Middle East peace and for negotiations.

Rather than negotiating with Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looked for what President Obama had called earlier in the week a symbolic “shortcut.” Shortly before addressing the UN General Assembly yesterday, Abbas handed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a request to admit the state of “Palestine” as a member of the United Nations.

Read more:


Celebration erupted in Ramallah and elsewhere in the Arab world. Was it premature? Even Palestinians acknowledge that a real state will need to come to terms with Israel. So, late yesterday, a group of American, European, Russian and UN diplomats, known as the “Middle East Quartet,” issued a statement calling on the two sides to resume direct bilateral negotiations.

But Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath told me shortly before the Quartet issued that statement that calling for Abbas to negotiate with Bibi is “useless” — unless Israel completely freezes all settlement activities in the West Bank first.

So expect delays and preconditions.

Abbas, never known for his public-speaking skills, was nevertheless the hero of yesterday’s UN session. The Palestinian quest for UN membership, opposed by Obama, consumed world leaders gathered in Manhattan for their annual gabfest like no other topic before.

Every other line in Abbas’ lackluster speech, starting with a tribute to his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was a reason to celebrate. He rehearsed old lines (“occupation,” “colonialism,” “apartheid”) that could have been uttered years ago — and will likely be repeated years hence.

Netanyahu didn’t come to Turtle Bay, however, to fight over land claims. His main task was to turn the tide: Until now, the Western press and much of the world blamed only him for the lack of peace progress.

Yesterday, he started out his speech by “extending [a] hand in peace” to Egyptians, Jordanians, Turks, Libyans and Tunisians, as well as to those in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, who are fighting against oppression. “But most of all,” he said, “I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.”

Netanyahu detailed his own attempts at reigniting negotiations, including — yes — an unprecedented freeze of construction in West Bank Jewish neighborhoods.

He also explained Israel’s security needs, saying that after leaving Gaza and receiving missile attacks in return, “We’re not prepared to have another Gaza” in the West Bank.

But those issues, he stressed, will be resolved only in one way: negotiations with no preconditions. “President Abbas, why don’t you join me?” he challenged (as Abbas boarded a plane out of town, leaving a lone Palestinian note taker at the assembly’s hall).

Judging by the scant applause during his masterful speech, Netanyahu’s critics are unlikely to be convinced. But perhaps in time they’ll start recognizing Abbas’ grandstanding.

And if public opinion continues to haunt Israel, well, as Netanyahu told the UN yesterday, “Better bad press than a good eulogy.”


Posted on on September 9th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

AP – Turkish PM to visit Egypt, Tunisia, Libya.

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press – September 7, 2011.

An official says Turkey’s prime minister is planning to visit Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, where popular uprisings have ousted autocratic leaders.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was already scheduled to visit Egypt, starting on Sept. 12. But a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday trips to Tunisia and Libya “are also on the agenda.” He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s rules.

Erdogan has said he intends to also cross into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, but it was not clear if that trip would go ahead.

Erdogan’s tour comes at a time as ties between Turkey and its former ally Israel have deteriorated further over Israel’s refusal to apologize for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.


Turkey: Warships Will Back Next Gaza Flotilla – Sami Aboudi
“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorized to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Prime Minister Erdogan said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday.
Erdogan also vowed to stop Israel from exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean. “You know that Israel has begun to declare that it has the right to act in exclusive economic areas in the Mediterranean….You will see that it will not be the owner of this right, because Turkey, as a guarantor of the Turkish republic of north Cyprus, has taken steps in the area, and it will be decisive and holding fast to the right to monitor international waters in the east Mediterranean,” he said. (Reuters)


Posted on on September 3rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

As Lebanon Heads UNSC, Salam Riffs on Palestine, Doesn’t Defer to NATO

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 2 — With the UN Security Council presidency being taken over by Lebanese Permanent Representative Nawaf Salam for September, the month of the General Debate and when Palestine might ask the Council to join the UN, many of wondered if Lebanon’s complex politics might impact the Council’s plumbing, if not its ultimate decisions.

Lebanon, for example, blocked the first proposed Press Statement on Syria, then disassociated itself from the Presidential Statement adopted  August 3.

While the two dueling Syria resolutions now pending in the Council may pose a problem for Salam — on Friday he said his “good offices” to mediate haven’t been requested — an issue he clearly feels passionate about is Palestine.

During his press conference on Friday, his longest answer concerned the questions of Palestinian statehood. He recalled that Palestine declared itself a state in 1988. He cited the 1933 Montevideo Convention and said that Palestine has all the attributes of a state.

On the question of undefined borders, he compared it with South Sudan, which is still in a dispute with Khartoum for Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.

Palestine is not, however, listed on the Council’s program of work for September, even in the footnotes.

Inner City Press asked Salam about Kordofan and Blue Nile. He said they could be addressed at the September 8 consultations on Sudan and South Sudan, and said he would come speak to the press after those consultations.

On Libya, Inner City Press asked Salam about a statement by French president Nicolas Sarkozy on September 1, that the so-called “Group of Friends of Libya” had decided that NATO can keep bombing.

The same is implied in the UN Secretariat’s Libya plan written by Ian Martin, which Inner City Press exclusively obtained and published. Inner City Press asked Salam, but isn’t that the Security Council’s decision?

Salam said that yes, the Council can consider and decide on NATO’s mission, at its Libya consultations scheduled for September 26. That seems late, but at least Salam said it’s not just up to NATO.


Salam & his political coordinator with then PGA Treki, of whom we’ll have more soon


June 10, 2010 — As Libya moves to expel the UN’s refugee agency, Inner City Press has asked the office of UN General Assembly President Ali Treki, former foreign minister and senior adviser to the country’s longtime leader, if Treki is doing anything to avoid a cut of in assistance to refugees and involuntary migrants in Libya.

Rather than describe any efforts, his spokesman said that Treki “is not representing the Government of Libya. He is in his capacity as President of the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.” But UNHCR is a organ of the General Assembly. Shouldn’t Treki try Something?


Salam is an intellectual, having for example edited and written a chapter in the 2003 book “Lebanon in Limbo.” His review copy inscription says, “Best wishes from a region (and not only my country) in limbo.”

We will be reviewing the book during his month; we’ll see where he comes out between the mere three media stakeouts held in May by French Ambassador Gerard Araud, and the eight full blown stakeouts conducted by Hardeep Singh Puri of India in August.

* * *

At UN on Syria, An “Attempt to Break the BRICS,” To Leave Russia & China Solo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 2, updated — With dueling Syria resolutions and philosophies competing in the Security Council, the Western side has invited India, Brazil and South Africa to consultations on Friday afternoon. 

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong told Inner City Press that his county and Russia would not be attending. We had a meeting yesterday of the BRICS, he said with the smile.

Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin added: the BRICS, you build with them.

Later Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin, when Inner City Press asked him if the BRICs would be broken, said with bravado, “Never!”

Churkin & Li Baodong, between IBSA & the BRICS

Friday afternoon’s session will follow a Thursday afternoon meeting at the UK Mission at which all parts of the European and US draft were discussed except the sanctions provisions. Some have dubbed these faux negotiations; others see an attempt to peal off the so-called IBSA.

Will the BRICS hold?


Posted on on May 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Uri Avnery

Tel Aviv, May 7, 2011


                                             “Rejoice Not…”


“REJOICE NOT when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, / Lest the Lord see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”.


This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (Proverbs 24:17-18), and indeed in the Hebrew language. It is beautiful in other languages , too, though no translation comes close to the beauty of the original.


Of course, it is natural to be glad when one’s enemy is defeated, and the thirst for revenge is a human trait. But gloating – schadenfreude – is something different altogether. An ugly thing.


Ancient Hebrew legend has it that God got very angry when the Children of Israel rejoiced as their Egyptian pursuers drowned in the Red Sea. “My creatures are drowning in the sea,” God admonished them, “And you are singing?”


These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street. Natural, but unseemly. The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.



THE REJOICING may be premature. Most probably, al-Qaeda did not die with Osama bin-Laden. The effect may be entirely different.


In 1942 the British killed Abraham Stern, whom they called a terrorist. Stern, whose nom de guerre was Ya’ir, was hiding in a cupboard in an apartment in Tel Aviv. In his case too, it was the movements of his courier that gave him away. After making sure that he was the right man, the British police officer in command shot him dead.


That was not the end of his group – rather, a new beginning. It became the bane of British rule in Palestine. Known as the “Stern Gang” (its real name was “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), it carried out the most daring attacks on British installations and played a significant role in persuading the colonial power to leave the country.   


Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea. The Christians even took the cross as their symbol.



WHAT WAS the idea that turned Osama bin Laden into a world figure?


He preached the restoration of the Caliphate of the early Muslim centuries, which was not only a huge empire, but also a center of the sciences and the arts, poetry and literature, when Europe was still a barbaric, medieval continent. Every Arab child learns about these glories, and cannot but contrast them with the sorry Muslim present.


(In a way, these longings parallel the Zionist romantics’ dreams of a resurrected kingdom of David and Solomon.)


A new Caliphate in the 21st century is as unlikely as the wildest creation of the imagination. It would have been diametrically opposed to the Zeitgeist, were it not for its opponents – the Americans. They needed this dream – or nightmare – more than the Muslims themselves.


The American Empire always needs an antagonist to keep it together and to focus its energies. This has to be a worldwide enemy, a sinister advocate of an evil philosophy.


Such were the Nazis and Imperial Japan, but they did not last long. Fortunately, there was then the Communist Empire, which filled the role admirably.


There were Communists everywhere. All of them were plotting the downfall of freedom, democracy and the United States of America. They were even lurking inside the US, as
J. Edgar Hoover and  Senator Joe McCarthy so convincingly demonstrated.


For decades, the US flourished in the fight against the Red Menace; its forces spread all over the world, its spaceships reached the moon, its best minds engaged in a titanic battle of ideas, the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness.   


And then – suddenly – the whole thing collapsed. Soviet power vanished as if it had never existed. The American spy agencies, with their tremendous capabilities, were flabbergasted. Apparently, they had no idea how ramshackle the Soviet structure actually was. How could they see, blinded as they were by their own ideological preconceptions?


The disappearance of the Communist Threat left a gaping void in the American psyche, which cried out to be filled. Osama Bin Laden kindly offered his services.


It needed, of course, a world-shaking event to lend credibility to such a hare-brained utopia. The 9/11 outrage was just such an event. It produced many changes in the American way of life. And a new global enemy.


Overnight, medieval anti-Islamic prejudices are dusted-off for display. Islam the terrible, the murderous, the fanatical. Islam the anti-democratic, the anti-freedom, anti-all-our-values. . . Suicide bombers, 72 virgins, jihad.


The US springs to life again. Soldiers, spies and special forces fan out across the globe to fight terrorism. Bin Laden is everywhere. The War Against Terrorism is an apocalyptic struggle with Satan.


American freedoms have to be restricted, the US military machine grows by leaps and bounds. Power-hungry Intellectuals babble about the Clash of Civilizations and sell their souls for instant celebrity.


To produce the lurid paint for such a twisted picture of reality, religious Islamic groups are all thrown into the  same pot – the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ayatollahs in Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Indonesian separatists, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere, whoever. All become al-Qaeda, despite the fact that each has a totally different agenda, focused on its own country, while bin Laden aims to abolish all Muslim states and create one Holy Islamic Empire. . . Details, details.


The Holy War against the Jihad finds warriors everywhere. Ambitious demagogues, for whom this promises an easy way to inflame the masses, spring up in many countries, from France to Finland, from Holland to Italy. The hysteria of Islamophobia displaces good old anti-Semitism, using almost the same language. Tyrannical regimes present themselves as bulwarks against al-Qaeda, as they had once presented themselves as bulwarks against Communism. And, of course, our own Binyamin Netanyahu milks the situation for all it is worth,  traveling from capital to capital peddling his wares of anti-Islamism.


Bin Laden had good reason to be proud, and probably was.



WHEN I saw his picture for the first time, I joked that he was not a real person, but an actor straight from Hollywood’s Central Casting. He looked too good to be true – exactly as he would appear in a Hollywood movie – a handsome man, with a long black beard, posing with a Kalashnikov. His appearances on TV were carefully staged.


Actually, he was a very incompetent  terrorist, a real amateur. No genuine terrorist would have lived in a conspicuous villa, which stood out in the landscape like a sore thumb. Stern was hiding in a small roof apartment in a squalid quarter of Tel Aviv. Menachem Begin lived with his wife and son in a very modest ground floor apartment, playing the role of a reclusive rabbi.


Bin Laden’s villa was bound to attract the attention of neighbors and other people. They would have been curious about this mysterious stranger in their midst. Actually, he should have been discovered long  ago. He was unarmed and did not put up a fight. The decision to kill him on the spot and dump his body into [or “in”] the sea was evidently taken long before.


So there is no grave, no holy tomb. But for millions of Muslims, and especially Arabs, he was and remains a source of pride, an Arab hero, the ”[]“lion of lions” as a preacher in Jerusalem called him. Almost no one dared to come out and say so openly, for fear of the Americans, but even those who thought his ideas impractical and his actions harmful respected him in their heart.


Does that mean that al-Qaeda has a future? I don’t think so. It belongs to the past – not because bin Laden has been killed, but because his central idea is obsolete.


The Arab Spring embodies a new set of ideals, a new enthusiasm, one that does not glorify and hanker after a distant past but looks boldly to the future. The young men and women of Tahrir Square, with their longing for freedom, have consigned bin Laden to history, months before his physical death. His philosophy has a future only if the Arab Awakening fails completely and leaves behind a profound sense of disappointment and despair.


In the Western world, few will mourn him, but God forbid that anyone should gloat.


Arabian Business website reports – Five days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death, vows to continue attacks, and quotes them by saying:

“In a historic day the Islamic nation … the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Abdullah, Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, God have mercy on him, was killed on the path taken by those before him and will be taken by those after him.”

“Congratulations to the Islamic umma (community) for the martyrdom of its son Osama.”


But also carried:

Arab revolts turn bin Laden death into bloody footnote.

Osama bin Laden, slain by US forces in Pakistan on Sunday, seems curiously irrelevant in an Arab world fired by popular revolt against oppressive leaders.

“Bin Laden is just a bad memory,” said Nadim Houry, of Human Rights Watch, in Beirut. “The region has moved way beyond that, with massive broad-based upheavals that are game-changers.”

The al Qaeda leader’s bloody attacks, especially those of September 11, 2001, once resonated among some Arabs who saw them as grim vengeance for perceived indignities heaped upon them by the United States, Israel and their own American-backed leaders.

Bin Laden had dreamed that his global Islamist jihad would inspire Muslims to overthrow pro-Western governments, notably in Saudi Arabia, the homeland which revoked his citizenship.

He espoused jihad largely in anger at what he viewed as the occupation of Muslim lands by foreign “infidel” forces — the Russians in Afghanistan, the Americans in Saudi Arabia in the 1990 Gulf crisis, or the Israelis in Palestine.

But al Qaeda’s indiscriminate violence never galvanised Arab masses, while his networks came under severe pressure from Arab governments helping Western counter-terrorism efforts.

“Bin Laden’s brand of defiance in the early days probably excited some imaginations, but the senseless acts of violence destroyed any appeal he had,” Houry said.

Nowhere was this change of heart more marked than in Iraq, where anger at Muslim casualties inflicted by al Qaeda suicide bombings – and the Shi’ite sectarian backlash they provoked –  eventually drove Sunni tribesmen to ally with the Americans.

Popular sympathy for al Qaeda also evaporated in Saudi Arabia after a series of indiscriminate attacks in 2003-06.

If the ideological appeal of bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who advocated the restoration of an Islamic caliphate, was already fading, the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world have further diminished it.

“At some stage Arab public opinion looked on bin Laden as a hope to end this kind of discrimination, the West’s way of dealing with Muslim and Arab nations, but now these nations are saying, we will do the change ourselves, we don’t need anyone to speak on our behalf,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, of Qatar University.

He said bin Laden’s killing would affect only a few who still believe in his path of maximising pain on the West.

“The majority of Muslim and Arab nations have their own choice. They are moving towards modern civil societies,” Zweiri argued. “People believe in gradual change, civil change, they don’t want violence, even against the leaders who crushed them.”

Peaceful Arab protests have already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia and are threatening the leaders of Yemen and Syria, while a popular revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has turned into a civil war with Western military intervention.

These dramas appear to have shocked al Qaeda almost into silence. Even its most active branch, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has mounted no big attacks during months of popular unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Martin Indyk, a former US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, described bin Laden’s death as “a body blow” to al Qaeda at a time when its ideology was already being undercut by the popular revolutions in the Arab world.

“Their narrative is that violence and terrorism is the way to redeem Arab dignity and rights. What the people in the streets across the Arab world are doing is redeeming their rights and their dignity through peaceful, non-violent protests – the exact opposite of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have been preaching,” said Indyk, now at the Brookings Institution.

“He hasn’t managed to overthrow any government, and they are overthrowing one after the other. I would say that the combination of the two puts al Qaeda in real crisis.”

Bin Laden may have become a marginal figure in the Arab world, but the discontent he tapped into still exists.

“The underlying reasons why people turn to these kinds of violent, criminal, terroristic movements are still there,” said Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri, alluding to the “anger and humiliation of people who feel that Western countries, their own Arab leaders or Israel treat them with disdain”.

Nevertheless, he predicted a continued slide in al Qaeda’s fortunes, particularly as US troop withdrawals from Iraq and later from Afghanistan remove potent sources of resentment.

“The Arab spring is certainly a sign that the overwhelming majority of Arabs, as we have known all along, repudiated bin Laden,” Khouri said. “He and Zawahri tried desperately to get traction among the Arab masses, but it just never worked.

“People who followed him would be those who would form little secret cells and go off to Afghanistan, but the vast majority of people rejected his message.

“What Arabs want is what they are fighting for now, which is more human rights, dignity and democratic government.”




Posted on on March 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Qatif region of Eastern Saudi Arabia is only half an hour from the Bahrain small island State. Bahrain has a Shiia majority under a Sunni monarch. Qatif has a Shiia regional majority within the larger Sunni Wahabi Monarchy.

In Bahrain there is clear rebelion and the Saudi regime sent its military to help the Bahraini rulers. In Katif, young Shiia organize in nightly protests and we know of the first two casualties from their side.

Saudi official school books treat Shiia as deviants and as not true to Islam. Children are warned not to eat food from Shiia because they spit in the food or even poison it.

The Shiia get their news from Arab speakers on the Iranian radio. Being born in Qatif is a give-away for young Saudis who are Shiia, and thus targets for descrimination. They will never be accepted into the police or the military and can only dream of government positions.

Reports from the  week-end nights of  protests by young Qatif Shiia, dressed in black and hidden behind black face masks, show the rebelion of underdogs in a system that has not heard of democracy as a whole. Qatif is the main oil-region of the Saudis and what happens in Qatif will have global ramifications as the price of oil has global implications. king Abdullah of Saudi arabia wants to answer the rebeling youth by establishing a comittee to deal with their complaints – but today, with the Arab world in turmoil this will not do. The Shiia youth will not retreat by commission but want to see direct action which they understand as democratization.

Will the US and the UK allow any acts against the safety of those Bahrain and Sadi Arabia – which they equate to the safety of regimes that deliver the oil and help create a regional security base? Is this corner of the Gulf to be kept out of the string of turmoil?


Posted on on March 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Dienstag, 12.  April 2011, 20.00 Uhr,  BURGTHEATER, Dr. Karl Lueger-Ring 2, 1010 Wien
Eine Frau flieht vor einer Nachricht. Aus dem Hebräischen von Anne Birkenhauer, Carl Hanser Verlag (2009).
David Grossman erzählt in seinem jüngsten Roman vom Krieg zwischen Israel und Palästina, gespiegelt in menschlichen Schicksalen. Das Leitmotiv des Romans ist eine Reise, eine Fußwanderung durch Galiläa, unternommen von Ora und ihrem Jugendfreund und Geliebten Avram. Es ist die Geschichte einer Mutter und ihrer beiden Söhne, eine Geschichte von Menschen und ihrer Ohnmacht gegenüber dem Krieg und vom Versuch, Handlungen und Taten zu setzen, um gegen die Maschinerie von schlechten Nachrichten zu rebellieren.
David Grossman liest in hebräischer Sprache aus seinem Roman Eine Frau flieht vor einer Nachricht, die deutsche Übersetzung wird von Elisabeth Orth gelesen. Anschließend führt Danielle Spera das Gespräch mit dem Autor, dann signiert David Grossman auf der Bühne.
Ab sofort
–          an allen Vorverkaufsstellen der Österreichischen Bundestheater oder
–          unter;
Kartenpreise: 20€/15€.
In Kooperation mit dem Burgtheater, der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde und  dem Jüdischen Museum Wien.
Bruno Kreisky Forum in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Carl Hanser Verlag. 
Melitta Campostrini
Bruno Kreisky Forum
for International Dialogue
Armbrustergasse 15
A-1190 Vienna
tel.: ++43 1 3188260/11
fax: ++43 1 3188260/10


Our comment: David Grossman lost a son in the Second Israeli Lebanon war, and in many respects, in this book, he identifies with the woman who lost her son. Can wars solve the Middle East differences? Can human suffering help bridge over the problems?


Posted on on November 23rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We saw an announcement in The Forward – put there by The American Friends of Israel Civic Action Forum.

It spoke of two meetings in New York City, with Rabbi Michael Melchior, a political figure from Israel, as well as Chief Rabbi in the oil-state of Norway.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2010, 6 pm, at the Anshe Chesed Synagogue at 252 West 100 Street, near Columbia University, NYC.

MONDAY NOVEMBER 22, 2010, 7 pm, at The Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, New York University, 53 Washington Square South, between Thompson & Sulivan Streets, NYC Downtown.






We clearly subscribe to every word in above manifesto – I had only the question in my mind about the involvement in this by the distinguished Rabbi-turned-politician who has a strong ego that interferes sometimes with his visions.

In effect, it was Rabbi Melchior who in 2008 joined a group of University Professors from the Ben Gurion University led by Professor Alon Tal in a new Green Movement and bad-mouthed Peer Visner, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, the head of the existing Green Party – with the foreseeable result that the vote was split and neither faction entered the Knesset. Had they instead joined forces, there would have been a three member green faction in the Israeli Parliament and Israel would have had a different Government. Why did this happen? Clearly – the egos involved.

Further, in December 2009, in Copenhagen at the Climate Change convention, I looked for Rabbi Melchior – who is Danish, his father the former Chief Rabbi lives there, he was born there, and in disbelief, the new Chief Rabbi, at an event with global religious Greens, told me that Michael Melchior did not come home.

So, I went to the advertised events, first to the one organized by Professor Jonathan Shorsch of Columbia University, listened to the amiable Rabbi – and could not agree more.

I will not get involved with the figures and history of the drilling beyond saying that the quantities found will make the entrepreneurs multi-billionaires beyond their present status. Further, the way they skinned the State of Israel is nothing short of what is done to any third world country. In effect much worse. To top this there is the overhanging cloud of US oil interests – and to this purpose Noble calls itself a US company. Sure, there are hints of Israeli government favoritism that allowed concessions to individuals who sold them to the two major partners – The Noble Company interests or the Tshuva Group. There is a spaghetty structure to all of it – untouchable and hard to unravel – not different then any third world country that oil was found in its territory.

OK, some of the money – it would involve in practice 10.5% in royalties and taxes that in theory are 22% but with terrible loopholes. This instead of Government income  that in the US are in theory at a 70% level and in the World at large move between 50% and 90%.

But then even if Israel gets 33% of the income – in light of the Dutch disease that showed how easy money from oil and gas was a course that destroyed the country’s agriculture and some manufacturing industries by pushing up the currency, something that was avoided later by Norway, a country that understood the income is better placed in a fund and only the interest from that Fund is used to cover the Country’s expenses. What the Rabbi suggests is that Israel establish such a fund, as he learned from his Norway experience, and uses the money only for education, pensions, and the environment. Thus we talk here about raising the Israeli government take from the oil income to 80% and use the money for above noted social and future oriented purposes. GREAT!

He amassed a serious coalition – stretching from the Communist member of the Knesset Dov Khenin who is another person in Parliament with Green and Social real credentials – to some of the leaders of the Settler movement who regard this as a National issue, and individuals from the religious parties.

On the other side there are Knesset members from the Foreign Minister’s Russian immigrants party and an army of lawyers and oil lobbyists. The Government decided to create a Commission headed by Hebrew University economist Professor  Eytan Sheshinsky.…)

Committee members:

Prof. Eytan Sheshinski Committee chairman

Prof. Eugene Kandel head of the National Economic Council

Mr. Shaul Tzemach director general of the Ministry of National Infrastructures

Dr. Yaakov Mimran petroleum commissioner, Ministry of National Infrastructures

Mr. Yehuda Nasradishi director of the Tax Authority

Dr. Udi Nissan budget director, Ministry of Finance


Attorney Avi Licht assistant attorney general (economic fiscal)

Dr. Amit Friedman Bank of Israel

and according to… of November 17, 2010.

They concluded: “The Committee found that the oil and gas exploration industry was given significant tax benefits that are not consistent with international practice. The main tax benefit is the depletion deduction, which offsets and neutralizes the remuneration demanded by the state by virtue of its ownership of the oil and gas deposits, which, at present, is comprised solely of royalties. Depletion deduction is a tax break that enables holders of oil and gas rights to significantly reduce their taxable income. The depletion deduction was intended to reflect the depletion of the resources in the deposits, and thus a decrease in the value of the asset. However, since no payment for the resource in the deposit was made, and the depleting asset is owned by the state, this cannot be used as a justification for the deduction and, therefore, it is actually a subsidy that is given for operations in the industry by means of a tax benefit.”

According to Rabbi Melchior, the recalculated part the government should receive according to the conclusions is 66% – or double the amount at present – this is still low considering other OECD countries – well bellow the 80% figure.


Considering the Intervention by the US Ambassador, and the fact that the US is backing Israel on other levels, above becomes a political football with serious implications and the Rabbi is here to bring this to the attention of the Jewish lobby – with the possibility to bring about a clash of right vs. the American Right. Strange indeed if you do not understand how countries stay in the Third World for ever – even when money is on the horizon.


The two meetings Rabbi Melchior had in New York brought out a mainly older religious crowd – obviously more so at the Synagogue Synagogue site then at the NYU student site. As the students were already away for the Thanksgiving week – only about 5-6 students out of a total of 20 attendees, showed up – most others older people – nevertheless the questioning was very much to the point. At the NYU site there were also questions involving the environment, US interests, geopolitics, the European market for the gas and how this will play with Russian interests whose gas sales to Europe will be hurt. One young lady asked afterwards the Rabbi about how all of this plays out in Jewish law. At the Synagogue the questions were mostly about Israel internal politics.


Rabbi Michael Melchior is a DanishNorwegian rabbi, an Israeli politician – leader of the left-wing religious party Meimad, which he represented in the Knesset.

Melchior was born in Denmark into a family whose members had served as the country’s chief rabbis for seven generations. He studied in Jerusalem and in 1980 received rabbinic ordination after which he returned to Scandinavia to serve as Chief Rabbi of the Norwegian Jewish Community. In 1986, he Immigrated to Israel where he served as International Relations Director for the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. He is still Chief Rabbi in Oslo, and his son is filling in as he spends most his time in Israel.

Melchior became involved in politics when the Meimad party was formed shortly before the 1999 elections from the movement founded by Yehuda Amital in 1988. The party joined Labor (with which it was friendly, Amital having served as a non-parliamentary minister under Shimon Peres in the early 1990s) and Gesher in forming an alliance called One Israel. In 2000, he hosted the Pope John Paul II‘s visit to Israel and said he was “very moved” by the Pope’s gesture.

The alliance won 26 seats, with Melchior taking the one reserved for Meimad. He was appointed Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs in Ehud Barak‘s government. After Barak lost a special election for Prime Minister to Ariel Sharon in 2001, Melchior lost his post, but was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, though he lost his new job in November 2002 when Labor pulled out of the national unity government Sharon had formed.

He was re-elected to the Knesset in the 2003 elections as Meimad’s sole representative, and was appointed Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, and Sport when Labor joined the coalition government in January 2005. In June 2006 he became Deputy Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs, but again lost his position when Labor pulled out of the coalition.

He retained his seat again in the 2006 elections and chaired the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee and the Social-Environmental lobby in the 17th Knesset.

After Meimad left its alliance with the Labor Party, it ran a joined list with The Green Movement in the 2009 elections, with Melchior at the head of the list. However, the party failed to cross the electoral threshold of 1.5% and Melchoir lost his seat.



The web pages as suggested by Rabbi Melchior are: and

Further –

The Noble Corporation: By the early 2000s, Noble Drilling changed its name to Noble Corporation as a result of its change in domicile from the United States to the Cayman Islands.

On December 19, 2008, Noble, incorporated in the Cayman Islands and operated from Sugar Land, Texas, announced plans to reincorporate in Switzerland. In March 2009, Noble Corporation redomesticated to Switzerland. At that time it was removed from the S&P500 Index.

In June 2010, Noble Corporation entered into a definitive agreement to buy Frontier Drilling for US$2.16 billion.

Noble completed the purchase of Frontier in late July 2010. As a result, Noble’s fleet grew by seven units to a total of 69 offshore drilling units (including five drilling rigs currently under construction), which are located worldwide, including in the Middle East, India, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asian Pacific. Noble also owns and operates the dynamically positioned floating production, storage, offloading vessel, FPSO Seillean.

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. is doing the drilling in the sea area between Israel, Lebanon and Cyprus and Noble Energy Mediterranean is the operating company based in Israel.

Delek and Noble Energy are part of the Yam Tethys consortium, which has discovered natural gas in commercial quantities offshore Israel. The partners in Yam Tethys are Noble Energy (47%), Delek Drilling (25.5%), Avner (23%), and Delek Group Ltd. (4.44%).

In July 2009, Israel’s state-owned Israel Electric Corp said its directors had approved a plan to buy 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Yam Thetis consortium for $1 billion over the next five years.

Delek-controlled companies and partners led by Noble Energy in January 2009 announced a find at the Tamar prospect that may hold 7.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (218 billion cubic meters), according to a survey by Netherland, Sewell & Associates Inc. That’s more than twice the annual output of Norway, the world’s second-largest gas exporter. The partners have secured about $11 billion in domestic gas commitments and expect output by 2012.

In August 2010 the consortium announced even a larger find – the Leviathan gas field discovery that might hold also 4.2 billion barrels of oil.

The legend has it that when the Noble interests started their first search for oil in Israel, they did this with the Bible in their hands and that it was the Bible-belt in Texas that spurred their interest in the Holy land.

The Levant Basin, where he original Tamar is located, and which stretches the length of Israel and Lebanon, may hold 227 trillion cubic feet of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a report released April 8, 2010, its first review of the region.

Yitzhak Tshuva, a self-made Israeli billionaire  whose father immigrated from Libya, was listed at No. 214 on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people in 2007 with $4 billion, but in the 2010 listing he comes up only as 463 and $2.1 billion. He owns real estate in the US including the old Plaza Hotel in New York City, but also the Delek Oil company in Israel which owns 4% of Noble Energy Company. He owns gas filling stations in the US, Israel and Europe. In France he bought up recently  the BP stations. His recent losses were in real estate.


Developments in Natural Gas and Oil Explorations. – From an Israeli Government site.
See more: USGC report – The Land of “Milk and Honey”… and Natural Gas.

Following the developments in the last few months, Israel is on the verge of absorbing impressive amounts of local extracted natural gas into its energy market. The updated map of Israel’s offshore gas potential include 3 major fields: Mari-B field located offshore the towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon, Dalit and Tamar fields located offshore the city of Haifa and the town of Hadera, and the Leviathan field, south-east of Tamar.

The Mari-B field is operated by Yam Tethys, a consortium comprised of Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) and Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG), since 2004. The Tamar field is operated by Noble Energy, which was given in August an approval by the state to develop and deploy gas from Tamar via Yam Tethys’ infrastructures on Mari-B. The third big field is Leviathan, which received major optimistic assessments for its huge potential this late May, enough to probably transform Israel into a natural gas exporter.

Noble Energy owns 36% of Tamar, Delek Group subsidiaries Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) and Delek Drilling LP (TASE: DEDR.L) each own 15.625%, Isramco Ltd. (Nasdaq: ISRL; TASE: ISRA.L) owns 28.7%, and Dor Alon Energy in Israel (1988) Ltd. (TASE:DRAL) unit Dor Alon Energy Exploration Ltd. owns 4%. Noble Energy and Delek Group jointly own Yam Tethys, and both companies are partners in the Leviathan structure, together with Ratio Oil Exploration (1992) LP (TASE:RATI.L).

Regulation and the Sheshinsky Committee:

Due to these encouraging findings and calls from the public to reassess the tax regulation on profits from these natural resources, the ministry of finance assembled a committee to examine this issue, headed by Prof. Eytan Sheshinsky. The committee is due to hand in its conclusions this October.

Oil Explorations:
In addition to latest developments in the natural gas market, there are also signs for oil in Israel. Givot Olam is a public partnership devoted to oil search in Israel. Positive signs for oil were found in Givot’s search areas, near the towns of Rosh Haayin and Kfar Saba in Central Israel.

All this hullabaloo is strange to Israel, a country not known for its natural resources. Being placed between the great water sources of Mesopotamia and the Nile, Israel had to pray for water throughout history and until new technologies for drilling for gas and oil came about – had neither. Will it insist now to live up to its intellectual power, or it will bow to the oil curse? Will the World Bank and the UN institutions tell the African countries to learn also from the Norwegian example and use funds for their National Development? Could this be a case in point for OPEC countries also? Is here a new world in the making – based on fossil fuels – no less? The stranger it gets?

In answer to my two public questions to Rabbi Melchior at the Sunday meeting, one dealing with his being instrumental in splitting the Green movement in Israel, and the other why he did not come to the Copenhagen meeting, the honorable Rabbi was kind to answer in what amounts to his having been interested in the social movement he was trying to establish as an extension of his Meimad party. In effect this is not a Green Movement as such, and as he knew that nothing was going to come out from the Copenhagen meeting he decided against coming to Copenhagen.

He likes rather to go to places that turn out results, and that is why one months before Copenhagen, part of the tun-up to Copenhagen, he went to the Windsor Castle religious-leaders meeting that was organized by the UN Secretary-General, and where he represented the Jewish Green leadership.

We clearly understand his feelings about Copenhagen, but are hard pressed about his evaluation of the Royal Windsor/UN pomp. I wish he spent some learning days at the UN in New York. Also, I was astonished how the Lady Rabbi of the Synagogue where Rabbi Melchior spoke on Sunday did not grasp that the questions and answers had significant value indeed. We hope that the present effort will have more positive results.


Noble Energy CEO: Will Lobby Vs Israel Raising Energy Taxes …
Nov 12, 2010 … HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) Chief Executive Charles D. Davidson said Friday he will lobby against the possibility of ……

Noble Energy Moves Forward With Israeli Project
Nov 1, 2010 … Noble Energy made good progress on its Israeli offshore portfolio of assets and increased its acreage position in a key onshore play in the ……

News for noble energy
Noble Energy (NBL) Approaches New Downside Target of $80.33? – 5 minutes ago – November 23, 2010
SmarTrend has detected shares of Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) have bearishly opened below the pivot of $82.26 today and have reached the first level of support …


Posted on on November 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

A cactus fruit has sweet matter beneath its thorns, so it turns out that land taken by Israel from Syria, but deemed by the UN as part of Lebanon, under the old border that was established by the the French and the British when they organized what became the modern Middle East, can it help normalize relations in the region, a century later, in the second decade of the 21st century?

Ghajar is a village populated by Alawites, who coincidentally are the Syrian minority sect that governs Syria. Strangely, when Israel conquered the village in the 1967 war the Ghajarites applied for Israeli citizenship and their wish was granted. In 1978 when Israel conquered southern Lebanon the Ghajaraites expanded their village into Lebanese territory and when Israel withdrew from Lebanon it continued to hold on to that extra sliver of land – so the Hezbollah contends that the withdrawal was not complete. To make things worse, a UN commission studying old maps declared that the whole village, including the Syrian part, is actually on the Lebanese side of the border according to the Franco-British maps – the only legally binding maps in existance. But what to do – the people living there are Israeli citizens?

Now – at a very appropriate time – and right for the world to see the in-fighting in Lebanon – with the court case of the killing of Prime Minister Rafik Haririri to prove that heads of Hezbollah were responsible – Israel decides to turn over the Ghajar village to Lebanon and requests the world to make sure and guarantee the life of its Israeli Alawite citizens.

Don’t you think that this could be the missing example needed to tackle the larger settlement of the Middle East conflict?
To get anywhere – the guarantee for cross-border citizenship is a plain must for a successful solution.
The 2300 Ghajarites are now the test-lab for peace – #1.


Posted on on October 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

October 28, 2010

Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, after Security Council Consultations on Resolution 1559

Good morning everybody.  I am going to deliver a statement on behalf of the U.S. Government.

The United States welcomes the Secretary General’s most recent report on resolution 1559, particularly its candid portrayal of the continuing threat to Lebanese sovereignty and security posed by the presence of Hizballah and other armed militias in Lebanon. We continue to have deep concerns about Hizballah’s destructive and destabilizing influence in the region, as well as the attempts by other foreign players, including Syria and Iran, to undermine Lebanon’s independence and endanger its stability.

We understand that certain actors within and outside Lebanon – including Syria, Hizballah, and Iran – may believe that escalating sectarian tensions will help them assert their own authority over Lebanon. However, these actors serve only to destabilize Lebanon and the region.

Syria, especially, has displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Lebanese government, as affirmed in resolution 1559.  For example, Syria has issued 33 arrest warrants for senior Lebanese officials and foreign nationals, which directly undermines Lebanon’s sovereignty as well as Syria’s stated commitment to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.

Additionally, Syria continues to provide increasingly sophisticated weapons to Lebanese militias, including Hizballah, despite Resolution 1680, which calls on Syria to undertake measures against the movement of arms into Lebanese territory.  The Secretary General’s report again cites no progress in the disbanding or disarmament of militias since the last report.  Hizballah remains the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia.  It could not have done so if not for Syria’s aid and facilitation of Syrian and Iranian arms, which also violates UN Security Council Resolution 1747.  While Hizaballah appears to be attempting to exercise control over parts of Lebanon, Hizballah itself is not accountable to Lebanon’s democratic institutions.

The United States urges all friends and neighbors of Lebanon to play a constructive role in supporting the Lebanese government in good faith.  We remain firmly committed to a sovereign, stable, and independent Lebanon, with strong Lebanese institutions.  This is the only way to secure the best interests of the Lebanese people and the region as a whole.


Posted on on October 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2010 / 30 Tishrei, 5771

Ahmadinejad’s target audience

By Caroline B. Glick |

By Iranian and Hizbullah accounts, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon next week will be a splendid affair. The man who stole his office and then killed his countrymen to protect his crime will be greeted as a conquering hero. Billboards bidding him welcome and Iranian flags will line the roads from the Beirut airport down to the border with Israel.

Ahmadinejad’s visit to southern Lebanon will be the highlight of his two-day visit. In preparation for his arrival, in the border town of Maroun A-Ras, Hizbullah has built a replica of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem festooned with an Iranian flag. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to stand outside the structure and throw stones at IDF forces patrolling what he has reportedly referred to as “Iran’s border with Israel.”

Many Israelis are rattled by Ahmadinejad’s trip to our neck of the woods. It is unsettling that the man who personifies the Islamist goal of eradicating the Jewish people will be literally standing at our doorstep, provoking us.

Before we lose our composure it is far from clear that Israel is Ahmadinejad’s primary audience. By throwing stones at Israel Ahmadinejad will not be telling us anything we don’t already know about his sentiments towards the Jews and our state. He won’t be signaling anything we don’t already know about his proxy force Hizbullah’s capacity to make war on us.

So what new message is Ahmadinejad bringing with him? Who is he communicating with?

Ahmadinejad’s visit must be seen within the regional context that it is taking place. Specifically, it must be seen against the backdrop of Lebanese politics. It must also be seen in the context of waning US power and influence in the region. Finally it should be evaluated in terms of Iranian domestic affairs and Ahmadinejad’s ongoing struggle with his people who reject his leadership. While Iran’s ill-intentions towards Israel remain static, all of the other developments in the region are dynamic.

One aspect of Ahmadinejad’s visit is abundantly clear. It is the diplomatic equivalent of a victory lap. Iran’s ruler is using his trip as an opportunity to flaunt his position as the colonial overlord of Lebanon.

That means that Iran now believes it is in its interest to expose that Lebanon today is nothing more than an Iranian colony. Lebanon’s independence is a mirage that Iran no longer believes it is in its interest to maintain.

Moreover, not only does Ahmadinejad’s triumphalist visit show that Lebanon has lost its independence and serves as an Iranian vassal state. It exposes as a myth the popular Western tale that Hizbullah is an independent Lebanese political and military force.

Ahead of Ahmadinejad’s visit, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have deployed in force throughout Lebanon. Hizbullah is operating openly under the Revolutionary Guards Command. This is not the behavior of an indigenous, Lebanese entity. It is the behavior of a wholly owned and operated franchise of Iran.

Over the past week, many regional commentators and officials have warned that Ahmadinejad’s visit may be the prelude to the consolidation of Hizbullah’s control of Lebanon. Recent events lend credence to these warnings.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not had a day of peace since he bowed to Hizbullah pressure and formed a government in November 2009 in which the Iranian proxy was given veto power over all government decisions. Hariri’s move put him into the unenviable position of having to bow and scrape before the Syrian and Hizbullah assassins who murdered his father, former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Syrian and Hizbullah culpability for Hariri Sr.’s murder in February 2005 has been the focal point of the UN investigative tribunal charged with investigating the crime. The latest reports indicate that the UN’s investigators will name Hizbullah officers as responsible for the hit. The UN tribunal is scheduled to announce its findings in the coming weeks.

So Ahmadinejad’s visit comes just before his Lebanese proxy force is set to get some serious egg on its chin. A UN pronouncement of Hizbullah culpability would diminish both Hizbullah’s standing in Lebanon and its international reputation. Iran has a clear interest in neutralizing the impact of the expected announcement.

To this end, Syria and Hizbullah have steadily escalated their demands that Hariri and his associates in the March 14 movement disown the UN investigation and denounce all their colleagues who implicated Syria and Hizbullah in the 2005 hit. Ratcheting up the pressure, on Monday Syria issued arrest warrants against 33 senior Lebanese officials allied with Hariri for what Damascus alleges are their false testimonies before the UN commission. Hizbullah and its underlings in Lebanese politics have followed suit, demanding that the government disown the UN tribunal and refuse to fund it.

As of the end of this week, Hariri and his allies are refusing to bow to this newest round of pressure. They recognize that if they submit, it will destroy the March 14 movement as an independent political force in Lebanon.

Unfortunately for the March 14 forces, the fact of the matter is that if they take a last stand, it will likely be an exercise in futility. Arabic media reports this week claimed that Hariri and his allies may be seeking Saudi and Egyptian support for Christian and Sunni militias that may be attacked by Hizbullah in the anticipated post-Ahmadinejad visit showdown.

But the official responses to these stories indicate that no one is willing to do more than express rhetorical support for the Lebanese. Thursday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit denied that Egypt is aiding the militias but he also pointed an accusatory finger at Iran. After calling the reports “a lie,” Gheit added, “Some people in Lebanon want to have a single control over the country and this issue is linked to Iran.”

This lack of Arab support for Hariri and his allies is a direct consequence of the US’s effective abandonment of the March 14 forces. While the Bush administration arguably did the most damage when it forced Israel to seek a ceasefire in 2006 and then did nothing to defeat Hizbullah’s coup in May 2008, the Obama administration has exacerbated the damage with its abject fecklessness.

First there is the administration’s stubborn maintenance of its massive support for the Lebanese military despite overwhelming evidence that today the Lebanese army acts as a Hizbullah proxy. In order to maintain that support, the administration faced down a wave of Congressional pressure after the Lebanese military’s assassination of IDF Lt. Col. Dov Harari in August.

Then there is the administration’s preening and scraping before Assad. The administration’s obsession with the so-called peace process between Israel and its neighbors has made it impossible for Washington to take a concerted stand against Syria which it hopes to convince to negotiate with Israel. Even as Assad visited Teheran and declared his undying devotion to Iran, the administration hosted his deputy foreign minister Faisal Moqdad in Washington and cooed that Syria is “absolutely essential” for “comprehensive peace” and regional stability.

And on the subject of US strategic incompetence, there is US President Barack Obama’s senior counterterrorism advisor John Brennan’s laudatory comments on Hizbullah from this past May to consider. In a public lecture, Brennan referred to Hizbullah as “a very interesting organization.” Ignoring completely the fact that Hizbullah is controlled by Iran, Brennan said that the US seeks to “build up the more moderate elements,” of Hizbullah at the expense of those “elements of Hizbullah that are truly a concern to us.”

The US descent into strategic imbecility has convinced Arab leaders that they should avoid getting on Iran’s wrong side. With the US even standing aside as Iran paralyzes Iraq’s post-election government, no one can take US guarantees seriously anymore. And if anyone had any doubts about this state of affairs, the fact that the US has no leverage with which it can compel the Lebanese government to cancel Ahmadinejad’s visit reinforces the glum reality.

The last target audience for Ahmadinejad’s visit is the Iranian people. As some commentators have noted, his victory lap in Bint J’Beil and Maroun A-Ras is a message to his own people. On the one hand it shows the Iranian people, who seek the overthrow of their despotic regime that Ahmadinejad is a rising star regionally. On the other hand, Hizbullah’s expected violent consolidation of its control over Lebanon is a signal that the Iranian people should be very afraid. Just as its Lebanese proxy will not hesitate to murder its fellow Lebanese to advance the interests of the Iranian regime, so the Iranian regime will not hesitate to use all force necessary to quell any domestic opponents.

If indeed, Ahmadinejad’s target audiences are Lebanese, pan-Arab and Iranian, then should Israel be concerned about his visit? The answer to this is yes, and not because his visit, in and of itself increases the likelihood of war. With its complete control over southern Lebanon and its 40,000 missiles, Hizbullah can open a war with Israel at any time. Ahmadinejad’s visit neither adds nor detracts from this grim reality.

The reason that Israelis should be concerned is because Ahmadinejad’s visit can negatively impact perceptions of the likely political outcome of a war with Israel.

In October 1973, Egypt knew that it did not have the wherewithal to defeat Israel militarily. Israel’s strategic advantage over Egypt was clear. But events preceding that war — including Egypt’s move from the Soviet to the US side of the Cold War — convinced Egyptian president Anwar Saadat that he could use a limited military victory to gain a strategic political victory against Israel. His gamble paid off as a year later, the US forced Israel to withdraw from much of the Sinai Peninsula.

The insecurity of the Arab states, the rise of Iran in Lebanon and throughout the region, the waning of US regional power, and the voices of sympathy for Hizbullah in the Obama administration all form a political climate that increase the likelihood that Iran will wage another war against Israel though Hizbullah. Israel’s options in this context are limited. Obviously, it must prepare for war and commit itself to defeating Hizbullah as a fighting force and delivering a paralyzing blow to Syria in the event that war breaks out. Israel must also take what political steps it can to impact the political calculations of various regional actors.

Having Ahmadinejad on the border is unsettling. But to properly prepare and contend with the threat he poses, we must understand what he is doing there.