Specifics Surface On
Possible Syria-Israel Deal
The Obama administration has drawn up a plan for Israel to give much of the strategic Golan Heights to Syria, according to informed Middle East security officials speaking to this column.
Last week, this journalist first reported in this column and at WorldNetDaily that Dennis Ross, an envoy for the White House in the Middle East, visited both Israel and Syria in recent weeks to discuss specifics of a deal in which Syria would eventually take most of the Golan. The specifics of the plan, however, were not disclosed.
Days after this reporter’s article appeared, similar reports surfaced in the Israeli and Arab media. Those reports also did not cite specifics of the plan.
Now this column has learned that Ross proposed that Israel give Syria large swaths of the Golan Heights. Areas of the territory that house Israeli industrial zones will not need to be evacuated, but Israel is expected to lease the land from Syria, according to informed Middle East security officials.
The U.S. plan has Syria declared the owner of most of the Golan while Israelis leasing land from Syria would be expected to pay direct taxes to Syria, the security officials said.
The officials said Ross initiated the process of reaching out to both Israel and Syria in November. The Israeli government apparently neither approved nor rejected the plan.
The officials said Ross is trying to get Syria to pay a price for the deal, such as scaling back its relationship with Iran and its support of Hizbullah.
Thy also hinted that the delay of an international probe investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is related to regional political dealings, including the talks with Ross.
Syria has been widely blamed for Hariri’s death, although the Iranian-backed Hizbullah is expected to be directly blamed if the probe results are ever released. The results were supposed to be released months ago.
Syria has twice used the Golan Heights to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.
Syria is in a strategic and military alliance with Iran and has been accused of helping fuel the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq. Syria is a state sponsor of Hizbullah, reportedly helping it arm itself with more than 10,000 missiles and rockets. Also, leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are based in Syria.
The U.S. plan for the Golan comes as President Obama last week bypassed the U.S. Senate by using a Congressional recess period to directly appoint new ambassadors, including the first U.S. envoy to Syria since 2005.
It marks the second time President Obama bypassed another agency or government branch to appoint a new ambassador to Syria.
This column reported in July that Obama bypassed Hillary Clinton’s State Department in his announcement to send a new ambassador to Syria, even disrupting agency negotiations with the Syrian government aimed at extracting concessions from the Damascus regime for the stepped-up diplomatic relations between the two countries.
How Accurate Are Reports About
The ‘Arab’ Golan Heights?
News media accounts routinely bill the Golan Heights as “undisputed Syrian territory” until Israel “captured the region” in 1967. The Golan, however, has been out of Damascus’s control for far longer than the 19 years it was within its rule, from 1948 to 1967.
Even when Syria shortly held the Golan, some of it was stolen from Jews. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland on the Golan were purchased by Jews as far back as the late 19th century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire kicked out some Jews around the turn of the century.
But some of the Golan was still farmed by Jews until 1947, when Syria first became an independent state. Just before that, the territory was transferred back and forth between France, Britain and even Turkey, before it became a part of the French Mandate of Syria.
When the French Mandate ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria, which quickly seized land that was being worked by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Jewish Colonization Association. A year later, in 1948, Syria, along with other Arab countries, used the Golan to attack Israel in a war to destroy the newly formed Jewish state.
The Golan, steeped in Jewish history, is connected to the Torah and to the periods of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Golan Heights was referred to in the Torah as “Bashan.” The word “Golan” apparently was derived from the biblical city of “Golan in Bashan.”
The book of Joshua relates that the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus.
The book of Kings relates that King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan, and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.
In the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid-2nd century B.C.E., Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.
The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple’s destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism’s most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.
Recent State Department Appointee
Wants ‘Net Neutrality’
“Net neutrality” rules must be implemented for content control while the government should quintuple federal funding for public and community broadcasting, argues Ben Scott, the State Department’s recently appointed policy adviser for innovation.
This argument appears in an article co-authored by Robert W. McChesney, an avowed Marxist activist who has called for the dismantlement “brick-by-brick” of the U.S. capitalist system, with America being rebuilt as a socialist society.
McChesney is the founder of the George Soros-funded Free Press, which petitions for more government control of the Internet and news media.
Scott and McChesney also recommended that the U.S. impose ownership limits on local radio, TV, and cable channels while pushing for more control of the media by the FCC.
The article appeared in the January/February 2009 edition of Tikkun Magazine, run by avowed Marxist Michael Lerner.Lerner has been accused of using the magazine to justify Palestinian terror and has written articles in which he suggests the 9/11 attacks were a response to U.S. policies.
“Net neutrality” refers to government demands for a principle for users’ access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.
Just last week, FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve controversial “net neutrality” rules, with the content of those rules, about 100 pages, still being rolled out.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.