More on Turkey/Syria

On Monday, I blogged that I thought Turkey’s role in helping urge/midwife a successful push for reform in Syria could be key. I gave a few reasons for this– chiefly, the good relations between the two countries and the length (800 miles) of their common border.
Yesterday, Turkey’s intel chief Hakan Fidan was in Damascus, and reported to have been discussing the need for reform with his hosts. (Meanwhile, Turkish PM Erdogan was in the Kurdish-Iraqi capital of Irbil and the Shiite-Iraqi capital, Najaf. As I tweeted at the time: “It’s hard work running a neo-Ottoman empire!” But really: Erdogan’s outreach to neighbors all round, including to Kurds, has been very notable.)
I’ve written quite a lot about Turkey and Syria on this blog over the past two years– check out the archives, including for reporting from good trips I’ve made to the two countries since summer 2009.
Based on all this, I could summarize my views on what Turkey can “offer” to a democratizing Syria– and, perhaps, to a number of other truly democratizing Middle Eastern countries– as follows:

    * Between them, Turkey’s current AK Party government and its longstanding and increasingly sturdy democratic constitution offer a great model for how a country can both be an open, west-friendly liberal democracy and be ruled by a party that is intentionally mildly Islamist. Turkey’s political history– through the aggressive secularism and tight ethnonationalism of the Kemalists, to the point it has arrived at today– is fascinating. The Kemalists made several good contributions to the country’s political and economic development. But it took the AKP to transcend the boundaries of ethnonationalism that constrained Ankara’s ability to have good relations with most of its neighbors– and indeed, with all those of its own citizens who are not ethnic Turks.
    * Turkey offers a great example of a generally peaceful transition from a regime in which the military used to have a commanding sway (underlined by periodic coups and soft coups against the elected government) to one in which the democratic principle of civilian control of the military is now much more deeply entrenched and respected. For Syria, this could be a very valuable lesson– though we need to remember that Syria is still in a state of war with Israel, which continues to occupy (and indeed, has annexed) the strategic Golan region. So the military’s role in politics and society is more complex there than in Turkey. Of course, a truly engaged and fair-minded U.S. diplomacy could– and should– speedily bring an end to Israel’s occupation of the Golan. That would be one of the best contributions Washington could make to democratization in Syria! The record of the peace negotiations of the 1990s (about part of which, I wrote a book for USIP) is a great basis from to start.
    * Turkey offers a great economic model to Syria and other Middle Eastern democratizers. The Turkish economy has been booming in recent years– including during the period after the west’s financial collapse of September 2008. It seems to be sturdily structured; and Turkish business leaders (like many other Turkish institutions) have done a great job of extending their contacts, their contracts, and their influence into many areas of the former Ottoman space– as well as the former Soviet space.
    * Turkey has offered a great “social” model to Syrians and other Middle Easterners, as well. Syrians at different levels of society with whom I have spoken in recent years emphasize that they strongly welcome the Turkish model as much more attractive than the Iranian model of society, which is the other major pole of influence on governmental thinking.

Indeed, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that for the past few years many Syrians have been deeply in love with Turkey– for a number of reasons. One of these, certainly, has been the straightforward, principled stance that the AK government has adopted toward Israel. Remember that in 2008, Ankara did a lot to spearhead and facilitate a very promising round of quiet peace talks between Syria and Israel. Then, in December 2008 Israeli PM Olmert abruptly broke off the proximity talks he was holding in Turkey in connection with that effort– and he returned to Israel to launched the assault against Gaza that was so appropriately named “Cast Lead.” The Turks felt completely betrayed and used by Olmert in that regard– a fact that led to Erdogan’s stiff behavior toward Israeli Pres. Shimon Peres at Davos shortly after. But Erdogan felt betrayed precisely because he had been deeply committed to the success of the earlier peace talks. That good motivation and good energy should certainly not be forgotten.
Syrians across the board also really appreciate the kind of lifestyle model they find when they visit Turkey– as, increasingly, they do in droves, thanks to the abolition of visa requirements across the long shared border. Syrian intellectuals wonder earnestly how long it would take their country to catch up with the kind of economy and life they see in eastern Turkey– and that they see portrayed on the many Turkish soap operas that now compete very well, along with their own, Damascus-produced soaps, across the whole Arab media market.
One notable thing that’s happened along the way is that the resentment that an earlier generation of Syrians still felt at the fact that colonial France had gratuitously (in their view) “given away” the whole ethnic-Arab province of Alexandretta to Turkey on the eve of WWII has now just about completely dissipated. That province, now Hatay in Turkey, is just another part of Turkey that Syrians like to visit.
… Well, I don’t have time to write more here about this. Democratizing this regime in Syria is not an easy prospect for anyone to undertake, even if Pres. Asad has the best of intentions. (And, as I noted, trying to do this while a belligerent Israel still occupies Mount Hermon and an additional huge chunk of Golan, and makes periodic belligerent declarations towards Syria makes it even harder.) But as I noted in my last blog post, Turkey has a strong incentive to try to undertake the task successfully. The suggestion I lightheartedly made there that Syria might benefit from having its own AK Party– a moderately Sunni-Islamist party that delivers good governance in a climate of great respect for ethnic and religious minorities, and that deals generally successfully with the complexities of disentangling the military from the reins of governance– is actually one that might be worth exploring further… Though we should note that Turkey’s AK (“Justice and Development”) Party took many years, and several rounds of serious problems, before it was able to come to power.
And what might Washington’s position in all this be? I am still very concerned that the State Department holds far too many people at high levels who furthered their careers under the aggressively Israeli-controlled parameters of the Clinton and GWB administrations, and who therefore harbor far more kneejerk opposition to this Turkish government than is warranted. (As we saw, indeed, with their disgraceful response to the Mavi Marmara incident last year.) But it is high time Washington overcame those biases and sensitivities. Indeed, given how deeply involved the Obama administration has now, willy-nilly, become in issues of hands-on governance in numerous Arab countries, those old-fashioned biases toward Israel are now much more of a burden than they ever were before. So let’s hope that– at least when dealing with decades-long NATO ally Turkey, and its role in the Middle East– they can figure out a different, more constructive way to proceed.

40 thoughts on “More on Turkey/Syria

  1. epppie

    Why must you join the rest of the Imperial minds of the US foreign policy establishment, in assuming that it’s always America’s ‘enemies’ that must change? Sure, Syria is far from perfect, but so are we far from perfect, as our world-leading wealth disparity and our constant war-making ought to suggest, no? Why must Syria, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Venezuela change towards us, and never us towards them? Is it possible that other countries with other ways of doing things actually have some good ideas? I think it is. I hope it is, because our way of doing things is a disaster. And that’s not saying that we don’t too have some good ideas. The point is that we need to stop with this tendency to put certain countries that the US foreign policy elites point out on the hot seat. In fact, maybe Turkey already learned something from Syria, about having a more straightforward policy of opposition to Israel’s crimes.

  2. bb

    Sad to see Assad choosing to declare war on Syria’s reform/democracy movement but guess it is not surprising his absolutist regime would mimick Gaddhafi.
    However the Syrian regime’s days must be numbered. I believe Helena is spot on citing Turkey’s growing ties with Syria and Iraq as being a possible determining factor.
    Turkey and now Iraq are great examples of representative democracies, the one Turkish/Islamic, the other Arab/Islamic, both with sizeable Kurdish minorities. More importantly, both their systems are parliamentary, not presidential, with significant legislative brakes on executive power being enshrined in their constitutions. Both their parliaments are elected by proportional representation. The parliamentary model + PR encourages the maturation and growth of political parties. Turkey and Iraq are the models the rest of the region should be following. I am afraid the Egyptians are going to find that keeping the presidential system will only entrench the “strongman” model which has led to all these absolutist regimes that have benighted the region for so long.
    But the reform/democracies movements, growing apace the Arab world, will not be stopped now, and especially not in Syria.

  3. Shirin

    bb, you never cease to amaze and amuse. Iraq as a model? Seriously? Whose Kool-Aid have you been drinking?

  4. Helena

    Shirin is completely right. For peoples throughout the Middle East– and further afield– Iraq is the anti-model. It serves as a powerful object lesson in (occupation-forced) democratization gone completely awry: a case of extreme social breakdown to be avoided at all costs. As I noted in an earlier blog post, Syrians, who have hosted a million or more deeply disturbed refugees who have fled the fitna in Iraq, are as aware of these dangers as anyone.
    Even till today, Iraq continues to see acts of horrific intercommunal violence, and its government is unable to deliver basic services (of which public security is one of the most important.)
    I find it almost obscene that BB mentions Iraq as a possible model– though probably that stems from ignorance of the circumstances in the Middle East and above all of the experiences and views of the region’s people more than any actually malevolent feelings towards them.
    To me, what has been notable in the current wave of pro-democracy movements and uprisings is that their authors have engaged in them despite the depth of the repugnance (and great sadness and sense of hurt) that they feel towards what happened in Iraq under the US occupation. But then, most of them never did confuse what happened in Iraq with anything having to do with real, demos-fueled democratization.

  5. Jonathan Glassman

    I hate to say this Helena, because I’m usually
    one of your biggest fans, bur maybe this Alex
    Golden is right about you, at least a little bit. Have you turned permanently sour on the world or something? I know it’s terribly humiliating for you and spouse having to see people like Dennis Ross and Samantha Power sitting in the catbird seat at the White House with all that power and getting all that great media attention while the two of you get totally ignored by the world, but whoever said life was supposed to be easy.
    Your blog today was really the lowest of the low, with you coming right out and saying that Assad maybe has the “best of intentions.”
    Have you lost your mind? I mean the guy kills his own people just for opening an account on Facebook. Pull yourself together, things will eventually get better and even if they don’t, it’s gonna be Passover soon!

  6. bb

    Did not say, anywhere, that Iraq was the democratic model for Syria. I was agreeing with Helena that TURKEY was the model, inspired by her description of Turkey’s outreach to Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.
    Mentioned Iraq only in the wider context of the Arab democracy uprisings, as an example of an Arab democratic political system virtually identical to Turkey’s in every way.
    I assume Helena would not argue that Turkey and Iraq both have democratic parliamentary systems; legislative brakes on executive power enshrined in their constitutions; presidents who are only ceremonial; elections based on universal franchise by proportional representation; flourishing political parties representing the full spectrum of their polities, and an environment of free media, free social media, direct telecasts of their parliaments, and frequent media conferences by political leaders and government ministers. And I assume that Turkey, like Iraq, has the same democratic process at local and provincial levels.
    Looking at the map it is striking to see that from Turkey’s northern border to Kuwait more than 100 million people now live in constitutional parliamentary democracies and not under absolutist, military-backed regimes. It is no wonder the middle east are demanding the same opportunity, surely.

  7. bevin

    Iraq is not a “constitutional parliamentary democracy.” It is an occupied country, from which the occupying power is slowly disengaging its enormous military while retaining secure bases under the protection of local levies, armed and controlled by the United States.
    Maliki’s government is far less independent than the Vichy regime in France was. It is qualitatively different from the Turkish government and entirely dependent upon the United States.
    Only after the US has withdrawn its troops, ended its control, of the airspace and coastal waters and negotiated a treaty including indemnities, will Iraq be in a position to hold elections.
    It should not be forgotten that candidates for election in Iraq were vetted to ensure that they would not oppose the US, would not propose socialisation of the nations resources and would otherwise fit into the Quisling mould.
    It is disturbing to see such a travesty advertised, by as private person, as being acceptable, indeed exemplary. That it conforms with the atrocious example, being insisted upon by the US, in Haiti makes it worse.
    As to Jonathan Glassman fatuous comments: it is sad to see a man employing his capacity for critical thought employing it to the full in these fevered conjectures regarding celebrity careers whilst swallowing whole the propagandist talking point “Assad kills his own people.”
    No doubt he does, Jonathan, and so does Netanyahu, and the Abdullahs, Saleh and Maliki and Karzai, and these last kill people who are not their own as well, and so does your government, on an industrial scale.

  8. brian

    what ever does ‘democraticize’ mean?
    im sure i dont know, do you?
    it surely cant mean to do with putting control of the state in the hands of the people..can it?
    because if thats the case the most advanced democratised state is Libya!

  9. Saul Harris

    Hey Bevin, thanks for that Great April Fool’s Day rejoinder to Jonathan! He probably will never catch on to the fact that you were only kidding
    about Netanyahu killing his own people, notwithstanding the fact that you and every Arab on the planet all know — but, of course, will never admit, most importantly to yourselves — that the man is responsible for leading the only free country in the whole damn Middle East . Think that is a ridiculous statement? OK, then tell me this? Why is it that you never hear about any Arab citizens of Israel fleeing
    the country to go live in the people’s paradise of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Turkey— or for that matter Canada, Sweden, Norway or Indonesia? Are the Zionists holding them back at gunpoint? Is someone threatening them into staying in Israel against their will? And why is it that you and the other
    pathetic losers who inhabit this sorry website continue to live in the evil USA, a country you despise almost as much as you despise Israel and on many days, even more? Can’t afford an airline ticket to any of the 23 great,freedom-loving countries that constitute the Muslim world?
    By the way, I have found an article that I believe may open up a new career opportunity for you and a way out of your present economic difficulties. It’s posted here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/nyregion/31tuition.html?src=recg

  10. salah

    Jonathan Glassman coming here as usual playing of massacres and killings of people in Syria carrying for them of course not defending tyrant regimes like Assad or Gaddafi, but Jonathan Glassman forgot those hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq after 2003 and millions of Iraqis suffered till today same acts that Assad or Gaddafi do or done .
    The difference here between to mascaras is associated tag to it, Iraq was bring freedom and democracy forgot how many killed, but in Syria and Libya let cry of massacres there and take action although no objections of taken off these ugly faces but hay, what behind that false cry Jonathan Glassman??
    Wonder if Jonathan Glassman is same Jonathan Glassman here how wrote about historical massacres in Zanzibar & Arab nationalism, but let read more about Zanzibar & Arab with US interests in that land may be were time more slaves needed to pour to the new-land?

  11. Jack

    It is good to see that the hasbara operatives are back on this blog to give us all some laughs with their ridiculous “facts” and “logic”.

  12. rosemerry

    saul harris-You very conveniently not only remove 800,000 “Arabs” from Palestine, but those who still live in your “free democracy” (ask them about their rights there) are now expected to leave so you can have an ethnically cleansed “nation” inviting Jews who already have a good life as citizens of real, varied countries to come and replace the genuine owners. The hatred and fear shown by Israelis (not the “Arabs” is pathetic.

  13. Clif Brown

    I just wanted to pop in here, Helena, and let you know that I have been editing the 2009/2010 CNI Jerusalem Calling programs to eliminate commercial content and make them compact for online listening. Tonight I was working on your interview of Zoughbi Zoughbi. It’s been a pleasure to listen to your work for CNI as you bring important knowledge to the programs that stimulates those interviewed to give their best.
    I’ve also noted your work with the hearings that have taken place in the US, the one in Chicago last year and DC this year. I believe things are turning around, I’m trying to add my part to the effort, and your contributions have been enlightening.

  14. annie

    i’m w/you jack, they never cease to amaze me.
    Iraq a great example of representative democracy?
    ha ha ha ha ha make my day!
    jonathan who?

  15. Salah

    To those who crying about human killing did you hear this by your master killer:

    Netanyahu delivered a short televised address to the media in both Hebrew and English in which he addressed Friday’s op-ed article in the Washington Post

    Throw Goldstone Report into dustbin of history

    Netanyahu delivered a short televised address to the media in both Hebrew and English in which he addressed Friday’s op-ed article in the Washington Post in which Goldstone said the findings of his investigation into Operation Cast Lead would have been different had he possessed all of the information.

    As always this will follow Muhamad Al-Dura killing story, or the massacre of The Sabra and Shatila massacre took place in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon between September 16 and September 18, 1982 more other massacres by Israelis a long 60 years>
    Jonathan Glassman pop-in rise your head here again our killer sympathizer were you hiding were your justice.

  16. Teliserg

    The first thing we need to do to help the people of
    Syria, Helena, is to ignore the sorry blather of people like yourself who for years have been fawning over Assad and wildly applauding his crazy animus towards Israel and his fellow Arabs. I wonder how it must feel to you to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror these days, now that it has been decisively shown in Egypt,Saudi Arabia,Libya,Jordan,Yemen and Syria, that Arabs do crave freedom and don’t hold Israel responsible for their lack of it. Do you say, “Oh my G-d, the neocons have had it right all along”? No, of course you don’t. For that, you would have to have an honest bone in your body.
    Posted by Alex Golden at March 29, 2011 04:34 PM

  17. Teliserg

    Helena denying that Iraq is generally free checkout their thriving press) and democratic (checkout their periodic open campaigns followed by elections) and where minority Kurds have their own sovereignty.
    To deny democratic reality and to desperately cling to deeply ingrained ideology is obscene.
    As Shirin says – whose Kool-Aid is that?

  18. Salah

    While most of attentions in ME which is very understandable from the neocons point view as they orchestrating them to world let be close to Ivory Coast problem which far human disaster that all ME protesters and killing if we counting them all:

    If certain countries around the UN table have learnt nothing else, they should have learned to be a little less hasty at passing resolutions without looking further ahead at the end game. Ivory Coast has had a long and unstable decade already, it has cost many lives, ruined their economy and displaced a vast amount of their population. We need to aid their road to peace, stability and democracy, not try and determine it. As Ban Ki Moon told the United Nations on 31 March 2011, The people in Ivory Coast have already demonstrated though the election in November, he(Gbagbo) has to step down. Let us hope that the situation ends very soon and a country that should be affluent both financially and culturally finds it’s way into our holiday brochures and out of the news.

    So were is No-Fly-Zone, and were US/Nato intervene in this human suffering which passed in its size what in syria were tens asking for their rights although they have all my support and sympathy.

  19. Teliserg

    Helena says: Even till today, Iraq continues to see acts of horrific intercommunal (sic) violence, and its government is unable to deliver basic services (of which public security is one of the most important.)
    What a mindless non-sequitur. You can always find sectarian violence in a democracy. And you can find dearth of public service including security in a democracy. Any polisci major can explain that democracy has to do with political organization of the state, its constitution, etc. and not with the level of services which is a civic or government matter.
    It does NOT follow that Iraq does not have a free press, or that it does not uphold human rights. Iraq unlike what you claim has free and periodic elections for a parliament. Sorry, but I find it repugnant for one to claim that due to some islamists blowing up churches or city halls, that Iraq is a one-man dictatorship.
    Have you turned permanently sour on the world or something? I know it’s terribly humiliating for you and spouse having to see people like Dennis Ross and Samantha Power sitting in the catbird seat at the White House with all that power and getting all that great media attention while the two of you get totally ignored by the world, but whoever said life was supposed to be easy.

  20. Salah

    Iraq unlike what you claim has free and periodic elections for a parliament.
    Iraq is an occupied land whoever call it a “democracy” he is “obscene”
    These words by Iraqis

    Laith Saud said
    sectarianism emerged as a major social and political problem only after the 2003 invasion. But I think it may have been a political problem before that. There are still things that need to be reconciled in terms of Islamic political theology. You see ‘Sunnis,’ if I may generalize, are essentially secular in their theological outlook. The state has never been the ultimate source of religious authority, the jama’a is. For the Shiis, however, the ideal ruler is both political and religious in his authority so the possibility, and I stress only possibility, of theocracy is there. And since ’79, the more theocratic vision became preponderant in some Shii circles. But this vision cannot work in Iraq, so a theoretical reconciliation must take place. Unfortunately, Iraq has been so dismembered, disrupted and dominated by foreign forces (western and eastern), the requisite stability is not in place for Iraqis to engage these important philosophical questions rigorously. They are really not even on the table; the Americans set the table and never knew, understood or cared for what they were serving. This is why western lawyers should not be writing constitutions in Islamic countries. And, ultimately, Iraq’s entire constitution will need to be restructured to reflect Iraq’s true nature, which is multi-ethnic and multi-’sect’ but cosmopolitan and centralized. The current constitution reflects an Iraq that is the figment of imperial imaginations, one that is sectarian and federal.

    Ready or Not

    “Democracy is not just elections, of course,” said Allaa Talabani, a Kurdish lawmaker. “Democracy is belief. It is practice. Elections are just a mechanism.”

    has faced widespread protests aimed not at upending the government, but at improving it. Still, as it takes its place on the stage of world affairs it does so at a time when its own version of democracy seems to many to be creeping backward toward authoritarianism.

  21. salah

    Iraq unlike what you claim has free and periodic elections for a parliament.
    Iraq is an occupied land whoever call it a “democracy” he is “obscene”
    These words by Iraqis

    Laith Saud said
    sectarianism emerged as a major social and political problem only after the 2003 invasion. But I think it may have been a political problem before that. There are still things that need to be reconciled in terms of Islamic political theology. You see ‘Sunnis,’ if I may generalize, are essentially secular in their theological outlook. The state has never been the ultimate source of religious authority, the jama’a is. For the Shiis, however, the ideal ruler is both political and religious in his authority so the possibility, and I stress only possibility, of theocracy is there. And since ’79, the more theocratic vision became preponderant in some Shii circles. But this vision cannot work in Iraq, so a theoretical reconciliation must take place. Unfortunately, Iraq has been so dismembered, disrupted and dominated by foreign forces (western and eastern), the requisite stability is not in place for Iraqis to engage these important philosophical questions rigorously. They are really not even on the table; the Americans set the table and never knew, understood or cared for what they were serving. This is why western lawyers should not be writing constitutions in Islamic countries. And, ultimately, Iraq’s entire constitution will need to be restructured to reflect Iraq’s true nature, which is multi-ethnic and multi-’sect’ but cosmopolitan and centralized. The current constitution reflects an Iraq that is the figment of imperial imaginations, one that is sectarian and federal.

    Ready or Not

    “Democracy is not just elections, of course,” said Allaa Talabani, a Kurdish lawmaker. “Democracy is belief. It is practice. Elections are just a mechanism.”

    has faced widespread protests aimed not at upending the government, but at improving it. Still, as it takes its place on the stage of world affairs it does so at a time when its own version of democracy seems to many to be creeping backward toward authoritarianism.

  22. Salah

    Tunisia, Egypt Libya Syria YES for Facebook and MSM to make the drums louder BUT for Palestinians NO
    What a joke of Human Rights and Justices?

    Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and a US Senate candidate in 2004, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for their role in furthering a “radical” Facebook Page called “Third Palestinian Intifada,” which openly advocated another uprising against the citizens of Israel. The complaint reserves the right to be amended into a class action suit and prays for compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $1 billion.

  23. rosemerry

    Helena, people like Teliserg and alex golden do not conform to your rules. With all the outlets hasbara spouters have, why must they infect your well-informed, well-expressed lines? So Netanyahu wanted Goldstone to have the full facts? Theend of his report includes many letters from Dr Goldstone begging the Israeli authorities for their input, but they refused.
    The US idea that elections means democracy, even though their own experience with lobbies and money deciding candidates and winners, followed by the government ignoring the wishes of the population once in power, show the falsity of this assumption.

  24. Salah

    even though their own experience with lobbies and money deciding candidates and winners, followed by the government ignoring the wishes of the population once in power, show the falsity of this assumption.
    All of them Thugs, lairs and criminals
    1-Ahmed Galbi – Money laundering and back looter
    2- Ibrahim Jaffrey- Social welfare beneficiary while he holding Medical degree faking that he is mentally/ physically unfit to do the job, but he is fit to be PM in Iraq?
    3- Nuri al-Maliki a small employee (typewriter/ doc keeper) in with Babylon City education centre, now a party leader with Phd Degree?
    And so one and so forth
    All in all the most corrupted and thuggish officials in the world they are now ruling Iraq who been forced and supported by powerful country in the world on name of freedom and democracy.
    Shame on all of those calls what in Iraq today is a democracy.

  25. Mark Dinowitz

    Day 1 of the Helena Watch:
    Approximately 24 hours have now passed since Judge Richard Goldstone, writing in the Washington Post, retracted major portions of his accusations against Israel in the Goldstone Report, finding among other things that Israel did
    not deliberately target civilians in the Gaza War, while Hamas has “done nothing” since the conclusion of the war to investigate its own conduct.
    Goldstone now admits: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a
    different document.
    Helena “of Arabia” Cobban, the proprietress of this website — a long-time Israel-basher and an avid backer of Hamas — has yet to comment here on Goldstone’s retraction or issue any kind of apology to Israel for her own enthusiastic support for the now discredited Goldstone Report.
    WHEN WILL HELENA APOLOGIZE?
    Stay tuned for further developments as they occur, or (much more likely) as they
    don’t occur.

  26. Shirin

    Part of what is so fun and amusing about your contributions here, bb, is the way you consistently utter absolute rubbish with such complete authority.

  27. bevin

    So far as the Goldstone remarks are concerned, the casualty figures speak for themselves.
    There is no doubt that the IDF is an extremely ill-disciplined force. That is inevitable when conscripts, drawn from a deeply racist population, are turned on people they are inclined to hate.
    Similar pogroms have taken place in Ireland, for example and,Indonesia; they are not at all unusual. Selma in 1965 is a more local example.
    In so far as Goldstone might have overestimated the professionalism of the IDF and inferred, from the facts of massacres, a General Staff policy to massacre, his review of the report is reasonable.
    But the report is not his, he was the chair of a commission including two other sentient beings, whose conclusions were almost certainly toned down by the Judge, himself a zionist. And now the report is the UN’s.
    Should Israel want to re-visit it, and to show good faith by co-operating by allowing the Commissioners access to Israeli records and witnesses, nobody is likely to object.
    But to take Goldstone’s remarks out of context and claim that the report is now discredited is a shabby misrepresentation, not only of the report but of a crime whose exposure should act as a lesson to humanity.

  28. Salah

    The hasbar asking for apologies as always when they renovate their crimes for the last 60 years.
    Could Mark Dinowitz in same talk’n be motivated and truth lover/seeker to ask for apologies and compensations for Iraq and Iraqis after The United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegalact that contravened the UN charter?
    Obviously no doubt that he was and still support the invasion as always other hasbra.

  29. Mark Dinowitz

    Helena (of Arabia) Update:
    At the time this is being written, Helena of Arabia is continuing to maintain total radio silence on the Judge Goldstone turnaround. This is really very sad. There was a day and time not too long ago in the world when professed Quakers had a reputation for honesty and a willingness to
    engage in self-examination; and, where apprpriate, to repent and make amends for harmful acts directed against others. Apparently, we are to get none of this from Ms. Cobban.
    One of the great unnoticed tragedies of the last 25 years of upheaval in the Middle East is tha extent to which once useful and even noble organizations on the political left have damaged
    themselves seemingly beyond repair through hostility and hate directed against Israel.
    Today a new generations of young people
    is coming along in places like Egypt, Syria and Libya, which thus far at least, has not totally emulated the full-throated anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist biases of their elders. Hopefully, this gives us some reason to believe that websites like Just World News will eventually dry up and disappear and be replaced by more rational and even-handed ones. Judging by the quality of thought and writing ability on regular display on JWN and the small number of people who bother to respond to Helena’s posts, I would say that JWN is already on its last legs and ready to go down for the count.Poor Bevin, poor Selah, poor Annie, poor Rosemerry, poor Brian!
    STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS ON THE HELENA WATCH AS THEY OCCUR.

  30. annie

    Day 1 of the Helena Watch:
    eee gads. something tells me this op ed from goldstone has massively inspired the hasbarista community. do they really think the war crimes will dissolve because of this op ed or israel investigating itself?
    there people are delusional. your well earned fame is undeniable when your capitulation becomes their goal.
    never tire! the magnificent helena rules!

  31. Salah

    Today a new generations of young people
    is coming along in places like Egypt, Syria and Libya

    Mark Dinowitz,
    You miss one generation… the Palestinians for the last 60 years they fighting for their right of return which they are more deserving to from those scattered refugees collecting from around the world and give them Palestinians land. Theغ are those who set Facebook for “Third Palestinian Intifada,” which ignited your hasbara to ban there page these are the generation you talking about.
    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
    لتُفسدن فـي الأرض مرتين و لتعلن علوًا كبيرا [4] فإذا جاء وعدُ أولاهما بعثنا عليكم عبادا لنا أولي بأس شديد فجاسوا خلال الدِّيار و كان وعدا مفعولا[5] ثم رددنا لكم الكرَّة عليهم و أمددناكم بأموال و بنين و جعلناكم أكثر نفيرا [6] }[الإسراء]
    و قضينا إلـى بني إسرائيل في الكتاب لتُفسدن فـي الأرض مرتين و لتعلن علوًا كبيرا (4) فإذا جاء وعدُ أولاهما بعثنا عليكم عبادا لنا أولي بأس شديد فجاسوا خلال الدِّيار و كان وعدا مفعولا(5)
    وَ إن عُدتُّم عُدنا و جعلنا جهنَّم للكافرينَ حصيراً (الإسراء :8)
    صدق الله العظيم

  32. bb

    Hi Shirin.
    In my original comment I was agreeing that Turkey would be a democratic model for Syria. You misread this, apparently. Wouldn’t have occurred to me to suggest Iraq would be.
    The rest of what I wrote describing the identical political systems and political environment shared by two great Islamic countries, Turkey and Iraq, was factual. Perhaps that makes it sound authoritative.
    Actually – to do abit of opining if H doesn’t mind – wouldn’t be surprised if it were Syria who leads the way the most substantively to a Turkey (Iraq) style constitutional democracy when the time comes. The country strikes me as having a pretty politically literate and sophisticated polity, and Assad and his wife come across as modern, outward looking, and what’s better, seemingly unostentatious. My daughter teaches Maths at the school in London where Asma was educated. Before her, their most famous alumni was Gertrude Bell.
    Bashir has the military/security regime he inherited to contend with, so it probably won’t come soon. But when it does ….. whole new world over there, I reckon.

  33. A. Jew

    Dinowitz the dinosaur:
    “Today a new generations of young people
    is coming along in places like Egypt, Syria and Libya”
    Yes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du5emnvGgvg
    ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-4051939,00.html
    “Former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously announced his intetions to run for the presidency of Egypt, said Monday that “if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.” In an interview with the Al-Watan newspaper he said: “In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza – as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.” He also stated that “Israel controls Palestinian soil” adding that that “there has been no tangible breakthrough in reconciliation process because of the imbalance of power in the region – a situation that creates a kind of one way peace.””

  34. Mark Dinowitz

    A. Jew, I was writing fast and probably should have
    qualified what I said about changing attitudes in
    the Middle East better than I did. I am under no
    illusions about the dangers facing Israel in the
    immediate future and the need for permanent vigilance against her enemies. I had not seen the
    video you sent, but I do remember the cries of
    “Kill the Jews” a few weeks ago when the female
    reporter for one of the American TV networks was being attacked in Egypt.
    Long Live Israel!

  35. Salah

    ,ه.,لا.I had not seen the video you sent, but I do remember the cries of”Kill the Jews” a few weeks ago when the female reporter.
    In Israelite for the last 60 years the “”Kill the Arab/Muslim)” every day so can you tell about these stories and bring your Video.
    However many things in MSM and Videos have more suspicious of there creations and goals.
    Lately some Videos on the youtube items appeared be created from out ME regions and deeply involved in the turmoil in ME so who is the creator leave it to your imaginations.
    Back to Iraq ware youtube was blocked many for years any video about the crimes inside Iraq is that forgotten dod.
    Anyway crimes is crime whoever done it against nay human without differences in believes or color

  36. Teliserg

    Hi Mark Dinowitz and BB – thank you for keeping the feet of HC to the fire and exposing the moral vacuacy of this blog. Looks like Stalinism (or is it leftard postcolonialism) has infected the Quaker (sp) community. The events of Libya will get them out of the woodwork. It is refreshing to know that Juan Cole has not succumbed to such cowardice. Thanks again.
    Funny thing is that the Libyan Transitional Council and the rebel forces are dominated by Islamists. Same for the Syrian opposition forces. Funny that HC has yet to clued on this. Expect her to throw her support behind Islamists sometime soon.

  37. A. Jew

    The reporters in Cairo were attacked my Mubarak’s thugs. Western reporters were also attacked by settlers when they covered the killings in Itamar. And of course there were christians chanting too in Cairo.
    Zionism is a failure. The days of “Israel” as you define it -the Jewish state- are numbered.

  38. Shirin

    In my original comment I was agreeing that Turkey would be a democratic model for Syria. You misread this, apparently. Wouldn’t have occurred to me to suggest Iraq would be.”
    Oh, really, bb? I misread your plain and clear statement that “Turkey and Iraq are the models the rest of the region should be following” as meaning that Iraq is a model the region should be following? Really?
    bb, girlfriend, you are once again busted. Making a nonsense statement clear as crystal, and then denying it completely on the very same page where that statement sits for all to read.

  39. Shirin

    More from bb:
    …the school in London where Asma was educated. Before her, their most famous alumni was Gertrude Bell.
    Please tell me you are not seriously making a comparison between the wife of the President of Syria and the arch-imperialist Gertrude Bell!
    Bashir has the military/security regime…
    You are such an expert on Syria that you don’t even know the name of its President?

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