Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category


While all eyes are on Obama as he walks the tightrope between his foolishly drawn “red line” and the lack of good options for intervention in Syria, it’s worth examining the predicament Israel finds itself in with regard to the ongoing Syrian civil war. I do so at LobeLog today.

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It seems there’s an awful lot of surety around when it comes to action, or non-action, on Syria. But a deeper look at what is happening there does not lead to simple solutions, or even to a whole lot of clarity on the nature of who the “good guys” are. I examine the dynamics in this week’s column at Souciant.

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In this week’s piece at Souciant, I analyze Israel’s attack this week on a Syrian target, perhaps in Syria, perhaps on the Syria-Lebanon border. Much remains unknown but the act itself tells us something.

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[NOTE: Updating now that the Syrian government has cheerily started reporting on this: "MacMaster's hoax aimed at enhancing continuous fabrications and lies against Syria in term of kidnapping bloggers and activists."

MacMaster claims he is trying to "educate" others about the conditions in the Mideast. Yet he didn't think of how the Syrian government could use his charade for their purposes if it was ever discovered? One really has to wonder if his motives were as pure as he'd like us to believe.]

I freely admit to being one of the many people around the world who was taken in by the hoax perpetrated by the blog “A Gay Girl In Damascus.” I applaud Ali Abunimah for his dogged efforts at exposing this sham, and thank him for doing so.

Any of you who have followed my bursts on Twitterabout this know I’m angry about it. Perhaps it’s because I hate being suckered. But I think the reasons are much deeper

Tom MacMaster, perpetrator of "Gay Girl In Syria" hoax

than that.

Tom MacMaster, the charlatan who perpetrated this hoax, initially issued a very thin apology, where he blamed “liberal orientalism” for the controversy. He later posted a much more sincere and convincing apology.

OK, what more could he do? He can’t be expected to rake himself over hot coals or something. But we should still take a long, hard look at this and understand just why so many activists were angered at what he did.

The real-life Syrian activist Sami Hamwi sums it up nicely in his blistering attack on MacMaster: “I say shame on you!!! There are bloggers in Syria who are trying as hard as they can to report news and stories from the country…We have to deal with more difficulties than you can imagine. What you have done has harmed many, put us all in danger, and made us fearful about (pursuing) our…activism…Your apology is not accepted, since I have myself started to investigate Amina’s arrest. I could have put myself in a grave danger inquiring about a fictitious figure.”

Sami Hamwi himself uses a pseudonym to edit the web site GayMiddleEast.com. And I’m sure more than a few of you are now saying “How can we believe that Hamwi is a real person? If Amina was a hoax, why couldn’t Hamwi be as well?” (more…)

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According to reports on Syrian television, 23 people were killed along the border with Israel as they tried to go across the border with Israel.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) disputed the numberand the circumstances.

Syrian President Bashar Assad

Considering the sources of both the accusation and the denial, both highly dubious with long track records of dissembling, I’m keeping my mind open on this. But there are some very important points to be made about the violent confrontations on the northern border.

Let’s start with this: Uri Avnery was right when he said the IDF used disproportionate force. The IDF itself said all the injuries were on the Syrian side of the border—this is why they say they cannot confirm any casualties. The IDF also says they shot live fire at the legs of protesters heading toward the border fence, but still on the Syrian side. Hard to see how that can be called proportionate force. And at least one witness, a journalist, said that the Israelis are understating the severity of their response.

Let’s also be clear about another point: Israel is not defending its borders here. The Golan Heights, which is the area Israel is defending in these incidents, is occupied territory, internationally recognized as Syrian. Unlike the West Bank, which is claimed by the Palestinians but was not previously part of any sovereign state (it was occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967 and part of Mandatory Palestine before that), the Golan is Syrian, and Israel’s annexation of it in 1981 is illegal and recognized by no other country, including the United States.

So, Israel is not defending its borders here, but is defending its occupation. And herein lies the problem, because what is happening on the Syrian border, though certainly heartfelt and significant, is counter-productive for the Palestinians. (more…)

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Dear Friends,

My latest blog piece is now live on Allvoices.com. You can check it out by clicking here.

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I have a new blog piece at http://www.allvoices.com examining the results of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. Click here to read the piece.

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