May 30, 2011 Border Between Gaza and Egypt Opened- Fascinating Letter From Assad Grandfather

This weekend marked the opening of the border between Gaza and Egypt. The border opening received extensive coverage, and not a little hand wringing by Israel. However, I have to agree with with the article written in today's Ha'aretz by Shlomo Avineri. "Israel should thank Egypt for opening Gaza Crossing" I believe Israel should say to the world, there is no longer a blockade on Gaza. The border from Egypt is now open. At the same time, we should make it clear that if missiles start landing again in Israel from Gaza, the consequences will be massive. There is one element of Egypt's decision that is problematic. The opening of the border without international observers violates a signed agreement Israel has with Egypt.

While the American media has mostly taken their eyes off of events taking place in the Arab world, these events continue to evolve rapidly-- and not neccessarily for the better. Events in Yemen have taken a particularly troubling turn, as Islamists have gained control over a number of the cities in Yemen. In Syria, the government continues to kill demonstrators. The demonstrators continue to risk their lives, and do not seem willing to be cowed.

There was a fascinating excerpt in a book Review featured in the current issue of the New York Review of Book. The article, called: "Storm Over Syria", by Malise Rutheven, makes use of the book "The Other Side of Mirror: An American Travels Through Syria" as a jumping off point to explain recent events in Syria. In the article the writers quote a memorandum sent by six Alwaite notables to French Premier Leon Blum in 1936. One of the six points in the letter was: "We can sense today how the Muslim citizens of Damascus force the Jews who live among them to sign a document pledging that they will not send provisions to their brothers in Palestine. The condition of the Jews in Palestine are the strongest and most explicit evidence of the militancy of the Islamic issue vis-a- via those who do not belong to Islam. These good Jews contributed to the Arabs with civilization and peace, scattered gold and established prosperity in Palestine, without harming any one or taking anything by force. Yet the Muslims declare holy war against them and never hesitated in slaughtering their women and children, despite the prescense of England in Palestine and France in Syria. Therefore, a dark fate awaits the Jews and other minorities in the case the mandate is abolished and Muslim Syria is united with Muslim Palestine, the ultimate goal of Muslim Arabs." One of the signers was, Sulayman al-Assad, the Father of Hafez Assad, and grandfather of Bashir Assad.