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Dr. Josef Olmert

Entries by Dr. Josef Olmert

Syria's Independence Day -- What Went Wrong

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 2:32 PM

On April 17, 1946, French mandatory rule over Syria came to an end after 25 tumultuous years of a colonial rule which started with violence and ended with violence. For France, the granting of Mandatory rule over the Levant was the realization of a long expectation to extend its tutelage...
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Alawites Under Attack: A Syrian Update

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 12:32 PM

Some weeks ago there was an important victory for the Syrian Army in the civil war there, as the Alawite regime recaptured the Kalamoon area, a vital strategic territory dominating what was described as the last area along the Syrian-Lebanese border still controlled by the rebels, a fact which enabled...

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Syria -- Some Thoughts Three Years Later

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 9:40 AM

Three years later and the numbers are staggering, though figures published by the various Syrian opposition sources seem to be exaggerated. Still, the truth is that Syria of old is no more and will not be restored. Gone are the high slogans of "Heart of Arabism," Unity, Freedom and Socialism,"...
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Egypt Bans Hamas -- Possible Scenarios

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 1:35 PM

It was in the making for quite some time, and now it is official. Egypt declared Hamas a terrorist organization and outlawed its activities in the country. The terror organization, for its part, retaliated by objecting to any more Egyptian involvement in negotiations between them and Fatah over internal Palestinian...

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Boycotting Israel: Fiction and Reality

(3) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 4:55 PM

A few days ago, the GSMA, the world's leading organization of mobile users, held its big international event in Barcelona, and three Israeli companies were awarded prizes for their innovations. Just a small example of what happens in the REAL world when it comes to boycotting Israel. Those who know,...

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Martin Niemoller and the Current Campaign Against Israel and Jews

(1) Comments | Posted February 14, 2014 | 11:16 AM

Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) was a German Lutheran Pastor who, in the early years of Nazi Germany, was an enthusiastic adherent of the "new Germany." So much so that he was one of the founders of the Confessional Church, which was the Nazi anti-Lutheran Church, but then he got disillusioned and...

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Some Light in the Dark: The Israeli-Palestinian Talks

(1) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 8:43 AM

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have become such a feature of life in that troubled region of the world, that usual, standard definitions of "optimism," "pessimism," "breakthrough" or "crisis" seem somewhat out of place, as they are so often used. Still, it seems, and this is surely yet another "optimistic" observation, that...

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Pressure on Israel and Its Impact: The Question of Isolation

(6) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 8:24 AM

Worldwide pressures on Israel to move ahead with the American-mediated negotiations with the Palestinians are mounting, with the obvious expectations that somehow they will lead to a dramatic Israeli concession such that will enable the signing of an agreement, the distribution of a Nobel Peace prize and a sense of...

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Geneva and What Is Happening on the Ground in Syria

(0) Comments | Posted January 22, 2014 | 12:16 PM

Geneva has been a favorite place for Middle East peace conferences, but with a poor track record of success. Now it is Syria's turn; in the 1980's it was Lebanon's. There will be speeches, statements of intentions, many backdoor dealings and a lot of PR exercises; but NO Pax Syrianna.

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Israel and the U.S. -- Verbal Clashes and Policy Differences

(16) Comments | Posted January 17, 2014 | 12:33 PM

For a long time the American-mediated Israeli-Palestinian talks were kept under a veil of utmost secrecy. In a political environment known for its lack of discretion, being leak-infested, this was taken to be a sign of seriousness, of potential progress. If the parties are so discreet, so, the logic was,...

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Syria: 2013 Was Bad, 2014 Will Be Worse

(4) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 1:00 PM

The conventional definitions of tragedy and collective misery seem to be out of place when it comes to Syria. The extent of the catastrophe there far surpasses even the most pessimistic predictions about this poor country. From the beginning of the crisis, it was the firm conviction of this blog...

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Boycotting and Cooperating With Israel -- the ASA, EU and China

(8) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 11:38 AM

The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks continue, though sluggishly and without dramatic breakthrough, which is still not in the offing, but at least with one important, though hardly noticeable, positive result: the signing some days ago in Washington of the tripartite Israel-Jordan-Palestinian Authority agreement about the laying of a joint water pipe...

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Syria: 1,000 Days Later

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 9:32 AM

Yesterday was the 1,000-day anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian civil war. A reminder hardly getting any attention in the Western press, and not because of the wide and justified coverage of the death of the great Madiba in South Africa. Conflicts like this seem to attract world attention...

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Hezbollah, Syria, Iran AND Israel -- the Ticking Time Bomb

(71) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 10:05 AM

Watching the situation in Syria, with all the atrocities, human suffering and misery that comes with them, is a matter for people with a high level of motivation as well as a hard stomach. It is also a professional hazard to base assessments of the situation on the veracity and...

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The Iranian Agreement: A Possible Realignment of Middle East Politics

(47) Comments | Posted November 24, 2013 | 10:23 AM

The Geneva agreement between Iran and the group of six is already getting the usual title of "historic" but only time will tell how "historic" it really is.

Verification will be the key, and talking about that reminds those who want to be reminded that in 1994 another "historic" agreement...

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Iran and Domestic Israeli and American Politics

(17) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 1:48 PM

The Iranian nuclear program has not as yet produced any military confrontation, and hopefully will not also in the future, but It did ignite a war of words between the two allies, Israel and the US. The two have no joint diplomatic strategy for how to deal with the Iranians,...

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Kerry, Israelis and Palestinians: The Talks to No Where

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2013 | 9:27 AM

John Kerry is proving himself to be a tireless, frequent flyer to the Middle East. He is taking seriously his role as the chief American diplomat behind the Israeli-Palestinian talks, the Iranian nuclear talks, which are resuming today [7 November], and the dismantling of Syria's chemical arsenal.

He does what...

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The Iran Talks: Saudi-Arabia Is Getting Out of the Closet

(6) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 2:51 PM

The Iran nuclear talks are causing ripples in the Middle East and it is not in Israel where the level of concern and suspicion is at its height. Rather, it is in Saudi-Arabia, and it is being so disturbing that the usually secretive kingdom is going out of its way...

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Israel and the Iran Talks -- on Tactics and Strategy

(44) Comments | Posted October 17, 2013 | 3:30 PM

Media spin as opposed to actual diplomatic progress have long been interconnected, and so is the case with the current round of the talks of the group of six, led by the US and Iran, with regard to the latter's nuclear program. The only formal decision taken in the first...

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Egypt, the U.S. and the Limits of Foreign Aid

(2) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 12:01 PM

The Obama administration did not invoke the "coup" clause in the Foreign Aid Bill, so it does not have to automatically cut off all foreign aid to Egypt, yet it announced the withholding of cash transfer of $260 million and some military shipments. A message was sent, but what exactly?...

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