Aref Dalileh released

Posted by Alex

Syrian economist and highly respected reformer Aref Dalileh who has been serving a 10 years sentence in jail since 2001 has been released following a presidential pardon.

افرجت السلطات السورية اليوم الخميس "بموجب عفو رئاسي" عن المعارض عارف دليلة المعتقل منذ سبع سنوات حسب ما ذكر رئيس المنظمة الوطنية لحقوق الانسان عمار القربي لوكالة فرانس برس.

Dalileh's lawyer Mohhamad Alhosny told Reuters Aref Dalileh is now with his family at their home in Latakia.

First reaction from my friend Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy:

“He was one of the most inspirational people I met on that first trip to Damascus – I absolutely loved talking to him even though I usually hate economy and talking about it.”

 

Comments (175)


norman said:

Another good deed by president Assad.

August 7th, 2008, 3:12 pm

 

Atassi said:

Sure.. He can jail them and he is the ONLY one able to release them too…. He can do many other tricks and truly amazing actions too !! What a good deed indeed

August 7th, 2008, 3:26 pm

 

Alex said:

Reaction from my friend Mona Eltahawy:

“He was one of the most inspirational people I met on that first trip to Damascus – I absolutely loved talking to him even though I usually hate economy and talking about it.”

August 7th, 2008, 3:36 pm

 

Karim said:

Alhamdulillah

Here is the article from le Monde.

Syrie: une figure de l’opposition, Aref Dalila, libéré

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/depeches/0,14-0,39-36460264,0.html

August 7th, 2008, 3:58 pm

 

Jad said:

Good news, yet very LATE.
7 years is the only last period, he’s been in and out of jail many times before and for years, and I think it is too long, unfair and unjust.
I, as Syrian, do feel ashamed when I read about any persecution of any other Syrian men and women who are courage enough to say or write what they think of peacefully. If they do something wrong let the law work “properly” with an unbiased judge and good layers, and if they are guilty they will deserve the punishment, If not let them be free.
Our constitution have clearly given the freedom of speech in any possible way, if the government feels that afraid of it, just take that sentence out of the constitution and then jail everybody who open his/her mouth, otherwise, they must stop this ridiculous jail sentences.

August 7th, 2008, 4:27 pm

 

Alex said:

http://pomed.org/blog/2008/08/syrian-intentions.html/

Syrian Intentions

August 5th, 2008 by Adam

Alex & Qifa Nakbi at Syria Comment write on how Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can build up confidence in his intentions so that Israel-Syria peace talks are taken seriously by regional actors and are not undermined. One option would be to gradually implement political reforms so that Assad can lessen his isolation and make himself more palpable of a figure to the West. A second option would be to help push for a simultaneous, yet parallel Israel-Lebanon track. The final option would be for Syria to embrace the Arab Peace Initiative to smooth over relations with Saudi Arabia in order to limit their willingness to act as a spoiler.

August 7th, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

Zenobia said:

alex,
you always seem to introduce people, not as journalist, writer, blogger, scholar, economist, or diplomat, but as “my friend”.

why is this? is this supposed to make us listen up or like them more?

or is it supposed to make us like YOU more….?

August 7th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

I have also learned that Michele Kilo’s release is imminent, maybe within the next two weeks, Inshallah! Wishing all prisoners of conscious in Syria a speedy release as well as they are true heroes. We will not forget them.

August 7th, 2008, 4:43 pm

 

Alex said:

Zenobia,

I will continue to do so.

Sue me.

: )

August 7th, 2008, 4:47 pm

 

Zenobia said:

I am under no illusion that my chiding you would elicit a change in your ways… i am sure there is some satisfaction to you that would be too hard to part with despite the adolescent sound of it. the Middle Easterner remains in the Canadian, i suppose.

August 7th, 2008, 5:18 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex, I’ll be your friend… (sorry, Zenobia).

August 7th, 2008, 5:52 pm

 

trustquest said:

As Solzhenitsyn, Russia’s last conscience laid to rest, Syria great economic professor and its conscience, who tried to put a stop to future sectarian wars, has released from prison after 7 years. A great professor in a country which lack that many, taught in the University and well respected human being, was sentenced for 10 years in confinement for a single reason, he spoke his mind.

Professor Dalilah, criticized the Syrian regime because he shares the same love for his own people as with Solzhenitsyn who criticized Russian intelligentsia.
Syrian regime would not release Mr. Dalilah if not for his health condition, trying to release them from that responsibility, but harm has been already done and something like this can not be undone. It is written in the conscience of the all Syrian intellectuals, and the proof still hang with other intellectuals flocking the prison of the regime every time they speak their minds.
Dear Dalilah, we wish you recovery but we will never forget.

August 7th, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

Zenobia said:

yes, of course, Shai, because you reveal yourself likely to be almost as promiscuous as Alex with your claims of friendship. : )

August 7th, 2008, 6:14 pm

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I’m always willing to admit to my faults… having lots of friends may be one of them. I can never keep up all the contacts like I want, and I always forget to call/email on birthdays… 🙂

August 7th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

Zenobia said:

I wasn’t teasing him about “having lots of friends” , I was teasing him for taking every opportunity on the blog to announce what special people are his friends. (As well as frequent comments about who just personally emailed him today) That’s the part that seems sort of adolescent.

of course, i am also being adolescent to mention it, but… then again I am his “friend”. : )

August 7th, 2008, 6:33 pm

 

Shai said:

Hmmm… If I was more mature I’d understand what you mean… but I’m not… 🙂 Listen, if you’d be living in subarctic temperatures, closer to polar bears than to Texas, surrounded by people called “Quebecois”, you’d also want to share with everyone each email you get… think of it that way, and it makes sense.

August 7th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

Zenobia said:

lol.
you have a point there.

August 7th, 2008, 6:50 pm

 

Alex said:

I think I also called some unknown Californian called Zenobia “my friend” : )

Mona is a close friend by the way … we email each other everyday. So I can not mention her name without writing “my friend” before Mona.

Now, Zenobia … you realize you have diluted the wonderful news here by switching this post’s discussion to “Why does Alex need to call everyone his friend?”

Back to the news of Dalilah’s release.

Trustquest, I share your opinion. Damage is done. Seven years of his life.

But I think he was released now, and not two or three years ago because if he was released at the time it would have been interpreted by all the hostile media and powers as “Syria responds well to pressure, we should keep it up”

I have not written about releasing political prisoners much before. But The past couple of months I wrote twice:

Last week:
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=824

Potential reforms might include:
* Beginning to release certain widely-respected political prisoners

and in May:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=724

Please remember that President Assad mentioned a few times recently that by now there is zero international interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

This is the only way we can have a chance for the release of political prisoners. I hope whoever is reading this takes notes. Applying intensive pressure on Syria is counter productive… it will almost guarantee the continued detention of those prisoners.

August 7th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Shai said:

And by the way Alex, I personally find death-by-sniper far more humane than being beheaded, or having your limbs continuously wash ashore… as seems to be the common practice now, in certain civilized nations like… Canada! 😉

But on a serious note, if Ford Prefect’s info regarding Kilo is correct, that would be quite amazing, wouldn’t it?

August 7th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Karim said:

Photo of Dr Aref Dalila after his release.

http://www.daylife.com/photo/0fudbRZg7fbf9/syria

August 7th, 2008, 7:03 pm

 

Zenobia said:

“Mona is a close friend by the way … we email each other everyday.”

see, you did it again.

“So I can not mention her name without writing “my friend” before Mona.”

YES you can. You can resist this temptation.

but I am sorry i brought it up now and disturbed the real and important conversation. I just let my jealously get in the way. I will cease and desist now.

August 7th, 2008, 7:21 pm

 

offended said:

Alex my friend; this is such a great news. I am sure our mutual blogger friend is happier than ever!

😉

August 7th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

trustquest said:

Alex, human rights improvement is not going to happen your way only, ( Not by mentioning it couples of times) never did. But, I think many who read this blog, can recognize the inner sentiment of freedom lovers who speak their minds and allow people to speak their minds. It is your free well to choose the best way you think to support it. I not only admire Mr. Dalileh and others, but consider him the light that should burn to make things happen. So, weather you played offensive or defensive, I’m sure we are in the same boat. The society is changing and thing this year not like last year, It is a different world, lets see how long this hegemony of the regime will last.

August 7th, 2008, 8:04 pm

 

Atassi said:

Alex said,
“Please remember that President Assad mentioned a few times recently that by now there is zero international interference in Syria’s internal affairs.
This is the only way we can have a chance for the release of political prisoners. I hope whoever is reading this takes notes. Applying intensive pressure on Syria is counter productive… it will almost guarantee the continued detention of those prisoners”..

Alex Habibi.. What you are describing can also be called Tyranny, oppression, and nastiness acts. Holding a county hostage for a personal\clan gain can lead to an act of international crime. Please remember, the days of days of a “regime free hand” wickedness against its own citizens are long gone “My Friend”.. The World views and mode has changed, and this unpleasant ill behavior against the “born free” Syrians must be ceased

August 7th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

Karim said:

OTW,here is an interesting article from the Turkish writer Mehmet Akyol ,i share the same opinion.

Yes, Islam needs renewal, but secular fundamentalism doesn’t help that. That much-sought ‘reform’ will come, when Muslims engage in democracy, capitalism, globalization, and religious freedom

http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/editorial.php?ed=mustafa_akyol

August 7th, 2008, 8:51 pm

 

Majhool said:

لا يصح إلا الصحيح

August 7th, 2008, 9:40 pm

 

Alex said:

My FRIENDS Atassi and Trustquest,

Please set aside the question of “what is right and what is not”. Israel’s occupation of ALL of Palestine can be considered wrong … do you want to go on a crusade against Israel? … do you want to throw them in the Mediterranean? … I have not heard wither one of you call for this justice.

I really don’t think there is any use calling it “tyranny”

This is not addressed to you, it was addressed to John Bolton types … This administration, Jacques Chirac, M14 and Saudi Democracy lovers … trying to use human rights as a weapon against the regime was, knowing how the regime always reacts to pressure, guaranteed to prolong the time these prisoners were in jail.

I am sure that if today Chirac and Bush and Jumblatt and Asharq Alawsat were still doing their daily public Syria-pressure tasks then Aref would have been still in prison.

And to me, his release is more valuable than going in the comments section on some blog and writing about the regime’s non tolerance of political dissidents.

August 7th, 2008, 9:48 pm

 

Hind Kabawat said:

I spoke with Professor Aref today, he is well with a good spirit, and I will be visiting him tomorrow in Damascus before he goes to Lattakia.
Congratulation Syria! Let’s hope of the release of Michel soon…
Tahya Souria!

August 7th, 2008, 10:30 pm

 

Jad said:

It’s a bit strange that some comments are directed to Alex as if he is the one who put any of the political prisoners in jail!! Or that he is responsible about our government “mistakes” (regime sounds like they are stranger).
Alex is one of many of us, I’m one of them, who believe that changes can be done without having a bloody revolution or a civil war that some people want out of a personal preferences or may be ideology believes, yet all of those people doesn’t have an answer of what next, or the new face of Syria will be after if we went through the radical and quick changes they are asking for.
Is calling our president a Tyrant or any other name is a victory or make us feel better, is criticizing without giving solutions or ideas to improve our system ever work? Don’t you think that whatever we debate here might go directly to someone in the power back home, why don’t we give ideas and solution like Alex and other folks here do instead of purely criticising, we might be helping more than accusing each others of being from the opposite side.
Isn’t a dialogue with your opponent to get your right better than swearing at him all the time with or without a reason???
It is right that I’m against the persecution of any non violent and just cause free speakers but at the same time I’m putting the safety and welfare of Syria first, is that make me a hypocrite for some of you, SURE it does, but I’d rather be a hypocrite than driven by my own narrow personal preferences and not having the right vision.
After all we all have the same dream and we all want to have the best country in the world but without building the first brick of it together by pointing out the problems and weakness we have and “solve” them instead of just pointing at them and seeing nothing else, we could never finish our dream; we don’t need to destroy what we already got to achieve that, any good ideas toward a better Syria would work.

August 7th, 2008, 11:15 pm

 

Off The Wall said:

Karim
On this wonderful day of excellent news, I will read anything you send. Once I get home.

I think We all share joy today. Better late than never and it is a good step. But the real test, from a nuetral point of view, would be the margin of freedom of expression those released will be allowed now that there is no foreign interventioin. Let us hope that this would be Dean Dalila’s last visit to a a jail cell.

August 7th, 2008, 11:23 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Are we witnessing a Paradigm Shift?

We can only confirm that with the release of Kilo. Regime Lovers beware, of any false pre mature celebrations or adulations.

But we can temper that by saying “that the genie is out of the bottle”. Its amazing that no one here can see the connection with the regime coming out of the cold, and the low key announcement of Dallila’s release.

My particular interest here is watching his movements and statements in the next six months, this would be a tell tale sign of whether any conditions have been placed on him.

Anyway it reminds me of that old nursery rhyme ” One green bottle sitting on the wall, and if one green bottle would aciddently fall, there’d be nine green bottles standing on the wall……..

August 7th, 2008, 11:29 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

Why does SC publicize news about the release of prisoners but not those regarding new imprisonments?

What if the number if newly imprisoned is higher than those freed? Would that be worthy of reporting as an improvement?

August 8th, 2008, 12:07 am

 

Majhool said:

I personally will not be satisfied unless the reasons that put Aref in Prison are completely gone. This back and forth in and out from prison depending on the regional game is just disgusting.

I am confident that the freeing of Aref and maybe others in the future is part of a bigger deal struck with Franc.

Basically freedom advocate became a bargaining chip our beloved regime.

August 8th, 2008, 12:11 am

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

I’ll ask you a counter question:

Why do you always manage to spread negative energy no matter how good a day is?

I’ll answer you later. For now, I want you to remember that the majority of the “bad news” you and other opposition supporters posted in the comments section turned out to be false or highly exaggerated, or very temporary.

I am not saying none of it was right, I am just saying that a great majority of the bad news (including news about political prisoners) turned out to be very unreliable.

I also hear (from “friends”, Zenobia) a lot of pro-regime wonderful news that I refuse to post here… because I know hoe to discount information originating from highly biased and predictable sources with a unique agenda.

Do you remember your Yaseen Ba22oush story?

August 8th, 2008, 12:23 am

 

Alex said:

By the way,

Hind left a message above that was stuck in the moderation folder

Here it is again:

Hind Kabawat said:

I spoke with Professor Aref today, he is well with a good spirit, and I will be visiting him tomorrow in Damascus before he goes to Lattakia.
Congratulation Syria! Let’s hope of the release of Michel soon…
Tahya Souria!

August 8th, 2008, 12:26 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

OK, let me adjust then, I am very very happy to see Aref free.

Counter Questions don’t answer questions. I am still interested in your answer… I have genuine concerns about the state of freedom in Syria. I think it’s very logical to wonder why the ridicules laws that put Aref in prison are still in effect. and what about prisoners such as Kilo and Aref becoming bargaining chip ? Isn’t that a concern for you? It’s to me.

I am very positive that freedom will win in Syria, I have no doubt about it.

August 8th, 2008, 12:29 am

 
 

Alex said:

Majhool,

They are absolutely NOT bargaining chips. Any foreign visitor who tried to “bargain” with Bashar about Kilo or Dalilah heard the same answer … basically “This is an internal issue that we will deal with, thank you”

I did answer your question … I can not rely on “news” about political prisoners because most of those stories (which came from the million anti-regime sites and parties) turned out to be not accurate. I have no way of knowing what is worth posting or not.

But I know that there are prisoners in jail … without specifying names, I can call in many mild ways for the regime to consider releasing them.

Here is a sample of exaggerations from anti-regime sources:

July 03, 2006
Aref Dying?

Sources are reporting that Aref Dalilah’s health is failing quickly and that he is liable to collapse at any given moment.

And here is Aref today:

August 8th, 2008, 1:09 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Those pictures are quite a coup. 😉

And quite a security risk, I must say.

August 8th, 2008, 1:13 am

 

Jad said:

I like the pictures, they look like any family having vacation and it seems like they had fun…

August 8th, 2008, 1:18 am

 

norman said:

It looks like what Alex has been saying is true,

The more the Regime is secure the more they are inclined to have freedom of all kinds ,

So if the US and The EU want freedom and democracy in Syria , They should support Syria’s progress and lift all the sanctions.

Any thoughts?.

August 8th, 2008, 2:26 am

 

Majhool said:

Source: Al-Nahar

بموجب عفو رئاسي”، أطلقت السلطات السورية امس المعارض عارف دليلة المعتقل منذ سبع سنوات من أصل عشر سنين حكم بها عليه، والذي كانت المنظمات الدولية لحقوق الإنسان والرئيس الأميركي جورج بوش طالبوا بالافراج عنه.
وصرح رئيس المنظمة الوطنية لحقوق الانسان عمار القربي: “أطلق عارف دليلة بعفو من رئاسة الجمهورية بعدما امضى سبع سنوات في السجن”.
وقال دليلة لوكالة “رويترز” بعد اطلاقه إن “تمضية كل هذا الوقت في السجن من غير ان ارتكب اي جريمة يفوق تصوري. أوضاعي الصحية كانت في تدهور..)(،

Aref said it him self. unless he is an unreliable source on himself?

Who put him in prison to rott? It’s Bashar. Why does this great intellectual have to suffer while Bashar is Chilling in a yacht?

I don’t think Aref share’s Norman’s view.

As for Bashar statements, I would not take them all that seriously, Just few weeks he declared that ” there are no political prisoners in Syria”

Now that is a LIE, don’t you think?

August 8th, 2008, 4:40 am

 

Majhool said:

Also
وصرح رئيس المنظمة الوطنية لحقوق الانسان عمار القربي
وحذر القربي من توقع تحسن في التزام سوريا المعايير الدولية لحقوق الانسان نتيجة للانفتاح الديبلوماسي عليها، ذلك أنه “لو كان هناك تغيير، لكانت السلطات ألغت المحاكمات وأسقطت التهم. ليست هناك اشارات الى ان الاعتقالات توقفت”.
ويبقى في السجون المحامي أنور البني والكاتب ميشال كيلو.

Exactly what I was saying. I say we should trust “activisits” on their assessment of this move. They’ve been there done that.

August 8th, 2008, 4:45 am

 

jad said:

Why does Majhool “suddenly” overreact and sounds very angry and negative in his comments?
He also likes to call people LIARS? 3al6al3 we alnazle, LOL
Why is that? Just curious.

August 8th, 2008, 5:57 am

 

Majhool said:

Dear JAD,

Let me assure you that I am extremely content. I am listening to uplifting brazilin rhythms and enjoying a chilled glass of California wine. Tfaddal

I had wished that your comment had some content, instead of just “lol”

Please entertain my limited intelligence, and explain to me how Bashar isn’t telling a lie? Should we let our “leaders” tell lies and get away with it? You are not suggesting that we act like sheap and just accept it? I am assuming that you would not accept it given your very first statement above (The second one about violent revolution wasn’t as good)

Anger dear Jad had nothing to do with it. It’s a concept called transparency and accountability. You better get used to it. Trustquest got it right, we will continue to sing that freedom song that the regime hates.

August 8th, 2008, 6:07 am

 

offended said:

Majhool,
Was the release of Dr. Aref GOOD or BAD?

August 8th, 2008, 6:08 am

 

Majhool said:

Dear Offended,

It sure is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD

Was the release of the prisoners by Isreal good or bad?

August 8th, 2008, 6:11 am

 

Enlightened said:

norman said:

It looks like what Alex has been saying is true,

The more the Regime is secure the more they are inclined to have freedom of all kinds
————————————————–

Ammmo Norman:

The only security we can all feel is freedom of expression, and association. Before we start hearing “The regime was targeted, under pressure etc etc etc.

The silencing of the internal, NON Violent intellectuals through harassment and trumped up charges for voicing coherent and thoughful concerns regarding the status of freedoms and direction their country is taking is a blight, not only on those who rule, but all of us who “silently” accept this with out voicing any concern or raising our voice that this practice is unacceptable and a common breach of human rights.

Lets not kid ourselves, the Syrian regime or “government” uses the need for security as a pretext to silence dissent.

These dissidents should be applauded for the dignity and patriotism that they have towards their country for adopting a non violent approach for change.

The sooner all dissidents are free and the most prominent are Michel Kilo, Anwar Al Bunni, Mahmoud Eissa, Kamal Labwani and Riad Seif, the better and more secure the regime will feel.

Addendum: They can leave the Al Qaeda and Muslim brotherhood types in Jail ( no sympathy from me regarding that affiliation)

August 8th, 2008, 6:19 am

 

offended said:

what an outrageous analogy.

But sure, it was good for us. And it felt especially good because there were heros who fought Israel, capture some of its soldiers (actually DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT) to make the swab possible.

I find the release both hopeful and commendable. While you’re doing nothing but whine and whine and whine.

August 8th, 2008, 6:20 am

 

offended said:

Dear Majhool, i was addressing you in my ealier comment.

And I meant to say swap and not swab.

August 8th, 2008, 6:23 am

 

Majhool said:

Why outrageous? Alex in responce to Atassi and Trustquest used the same analogy for the opposite purpose

“Please set aside the question of “what is right and what is not”. Israel’s occupation of ALL of Palestine can be considered wrong … do you want to go on a crusade against Israel?”

We clearly differ on how we see things. It’s healthy no? I personally think so.

This concept of “one adversary” (Israel) is hideous.

I simply consider that who jails Syrians for simply speaking their mind, yet to be “another” adversary.

I told you we differ, and I respect your openion.

August 8th, 2008, 6:27 am

 

youngsyria said:

Arab Countries’ 1956 Olympic Boycott Over The Suez Crisis

“Yet seven countries had boycotted the Melbourne games: Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands, to protest the Soviet invasion of Hungary; and Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq, to protest Israel’s invasion of the Sinai and the Gaza Strip.”

and this is amazing:

“With the exception of Afghanistan, which has been an Olympic participant since 1936 , along with Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Turkey, no other Arab, Middle Eastern or North African countries had ready delegations to participate in the Olympics.”

http://middleeast.about.com/od/arabisraeliconflict/a/me080803d.htm

August 8th, 2008, 6:28 am

 

jad said:

I’m still against putting someone in jail for 7 years with an unjust reason but at the same time should’t I be a little bit optimistic seeing them out?
Does putting 10 of 100 person in jail worth loosing my country for and have a revolution for it, as u and people like u want? If u think it does then may be the Americans need to have a revolution too after bush big lies cost them thousand of their people and millions of others?
BTW I don’t think that all your cut and paste comments add that much better than my laugh at ur over reaction.

August 8th, 2008, 6:33 am

 

offended said:

Majhool,
You’re still not getting me, of course the imprisonment of intellectuals –because of something they said– is wrong. But the release of one of them is indicative that things are for the better. If i can’t do something substantial to push for their release, I would at least commend this step which may lead to more. I would capitalize on whatever GOOD (or less bad) that has lead to this.

August 8th, 2008, 6:35 am

 

Majhool said:

Dear Jad,

Again, you keep coming with these ridiculous assumptions, first I am an islamists, now I am pro-Violent revolution??!!

Habibi, try to overcome your paranoia. All what I, and other like me, want see is for Syrians to be free in peacefully expressing their political views.

Sho? Kaman Lol?

August 8th, 2008, 6:41 am

 

Majhool said:

Dear Offended,

I have no doubt in my mind that you are against jailing freedom activists.

We differ, I think, in what we consider to be an “adversary”. I think (please correct me if I am wrong) that the fact Bashar jailed Aref and Kilo did not turn him into an adversary for you. For me it did.

All said, I commend this step by Bashar. I also hope that he would guarantees that imprisonment cease to be like a switch that they can turn on and off as they wish. I hope that Bashar will not only free up the prisoners but also guarantee freedom of speech,

How is that?

Now, since I am reasonable, would you also condemn his statement that : “there are no political prisoners in Syria”?

August 8th, 2008, 6:49 am

 

offended said:

Majhool, you were doing fine untill and last paragraph.

August 8th, 2008, 6:54 am

 

Majhool said:

Why? shouldn’t our leader be accountable in what he says? Should we also commend him for that?

See my friend, being reasonable is a two-way street. If we all take sides how will we ever reach a middle ground?

August 8th, 2008, 6:58 am

 

jad said:

It’s not my mistake when u keep changing what u r accordingly.
Don’t ask politician not to lie when u lie most of the time.
Dada, I don’t have any paranoya of any kind. Keep drinking your matte and call it wine. And keep whining……LOL

August 8th, 2008, 7:02 am

 

Majhool said:

Jad,

You are so going to be moderated.

August 8th, 2008, 7:06 am

 

jad said:

It’s not my mistake when u keep changing you comments accordingly from left to right according to the subject and ur mood!!!!!!
Don’t ask politician not to lie when u lie most of the time.
Dada, I don’t have any paranoya of any kind. Keep drinking your matte and call it wine. And keep whining……LOL

August 8th, 2008, 7:08 am

 

Jad said:

For what? Telling who you realy are or calling you DaDa? Both things are truth. It will be worth it…
You’ve been moderated befeore and here you are again!!!!

August 8th, 2008, 7:24 am

 

Majhool said:

you are annoyed that it appears to you that I swing from the far left to the far right?

Well sorry if I don’t fit the mold. Maybe you should consider that maybe I am all for creating a balance and for the underdog be it on the right or on the left.

If someone like offended is jailed, I will be the first to rally his casue. If Christians or alawites are oppressed or in trouble ( I am sorry to hear your comment about matte) I will be the first to defend their casue.

Call me Side-less. For now I am with the underdogs (the freedom activists and the silent majority).

August 8th, 2008, 7:34 am

 

Alex said:

Majhool and Jad,

Khalas … please : )

Jad,

I made an agreement with Majhool … if he does not insult anyone here, I will make sure no one else insults him.

Majhool,

You say you are with the underdogs .. that’s why you sometimes show understanding towards the ikhwan, other times you support leftist political prisoners …

Fine. But …

Why do you rarely volunteer to state your support for the other underdogs? … The Palestinians under Israeli occupation … the Lebanese Shia population … the poor Iraqis suffering more than anyone else …

a) Do you only support Syrian underdogs?
b) When you frequently and consistently supported the Saudis here … do you consider them … underdogs?

The “underdogs” label does not encompass the highly variable traits of the group of countries, parties,a dn individuals you supported here.

I have another hypothesis … You support (or express understanding to) anyone who wants to get rid of the regime … including “underdogs” who are weaker than the regime .. such as Muslim Brotherhood members, Michel Kilo and Aref Dalileh, but also including the not very weak Saudi Arabia, AIG, Saad Hariri …

August 8th, 2008, 8:05 am

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

Let me re-word what you said, we agreed on a framework that guarantees consistency in moderation. So now please go ahead and be true to it, it’s not his first time.

OK, now let me answer your questions:

• Of course I am for all underdogs. Now practically and logically I am more concerned about Syria…
• Do you volunteer to condemn Bashar when he says “ there are no political prisoners in Syria”? I doubt it
• I supported Saudis? I never did. Do your repeated attacks on the Saudis annoy me? Yes, I feel it’s a distraction.

• Why should be supporting Shia acceptable when supporting sunnis is not (sectarian)? And to say Shia is the underdogs are not quite accurate in my mind, they are the most powerful in Lebanon.

• Parties and Individuals I supported? Could you please quote a comment I made on where I supported those individuals/Parties?

• As for Iraqis and Palestinians, what do you want me to say, of course I support them. But would I make a moral argument for the regime at their expense? I would not. I think Sami Mubayyad latest article clearly stated that our hospitality is a bargaining chip in the hands of the regime.

• Your hypothesis is wrong, I support whatever is leads to “rule of law” and Democracy, be it in Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and even Somalia. I completely against any military rule. What I advocate is not far off from what Kilo and Dalila say

Alex, Please let’s not throw blanket statements such as I support Hariri, MB, AIG, etc. You would not want me to call you a regime cheerleader every time you make an argument for the regime.

Fair?

August 8th, 2008, 8:36 am

 

Majhool said:

Kilo said

“وإن هذا الحزب –يقصد الإخوان المسلمين- ليس هو الذي أدخل العنف إلى السياسة السورية ، وإن كان قد عرف منعطفا خطيرا في نهاية السبعينات جعله يتبنى خطا طائفيا عنيفا ، أدى إلى كارثة سياسية نزلت بسوريا وطنا ومواطنين ، قتل خلالها عشرات آلاف الأبرياء لاعتبارات طائفية”.

Guess who who brought violence to Syria per Kilo him self? The Syrian Regime.

I totally echo Kilo’s stance.

August 8th, 2008, 9:09 am

 

trustquest said:

I would expect to read all views on this forum as Mr. Landis would expect.
I think some persons have to put up with contempt and insult for defending the idea of: we can do better and we should criticize, even autism is curable how about fascism, and state hegemony. Some would say, it is not curable and we should accepted as it is or otherwise the Armageddon.

Almost the same case as Damascus Springs, they still been treated the same way. They are bad because they do not talk about Guantanamo or the Saudis, but if they did they suppose not to do that, it is the Sate business and no one, no one allowed to talk about foreign policy which are carried out by our beloved president and his group.

Enlightened, spoke of the same points and ideas, but he did not trigger any rejection. Why do you think this is the case? I could not find an answer.

They say you can not criticize the president, the key economic figures, the regime, the Baath party and the military. And you are saying: Stop me if you can.

I’m trying to understand, what authority the regime and his defenders have on people with Syrian origin even if they live in wak wak country.
I should leave the analysis to Lisa Wedeen and Kathleen Reedy.

Releasing political prisoners is a SOLUTION, and a positive one. It is our garantees against Chaos.

August 8th, 2008, 10:21 am

 

Nour said:

Majhool,

I agree that we should all have positions based on principle and we should all stand for what is right. As such, imprisoning intellectuals for speaking their minds (so long as they do not actively engage in behavior threatening national security) is condemnable. It is condemnable no matter who does it. But also, using violence against citizens because of your extreme religious beliefs is also condemnable. Unfortunately, many in the Syrian “opposition”, including Kilo, are quick to defend the MB for their violent and murderous actions during the late 70’s and early 80’s, while they pin the entire blame on the “regime.”

I do not agree that it is this “regime” that introduced violence into Syria. Syria had been plagued by violence, coups, and counter-coups for quite a long time before Assad came to power. In addition, the MB’s violence had for the most part no relation to attacking the “regime.” They targeted individuals and groups that had nothing to do with the “regime.” Those were crimes. And they committed those crimes simply because they felt they should have the right to impose their views on others. Just like it was wrong for the Baath to impose itself on the country, it is also wrong for the MB to use violent means to impose its strict religious interpretations on the civilian population.

Finally, the MB had violent tendencies long before Assad. I know this because my father, whne he was a young teenager, was beaten up by MB members for participating in a demonstration against the MB. I am sure you wouldn’t support such thuggish behavior if it came from Baathist members, so we should remain consistent and also condemn it when it comes from the MB.

August 8th, 2008, 12:16 pm

 

norman said:

The problem with the opposition or what is called opposition in Syria is that they talk a lot but do little to advance the lives of the Syrian people , while the problem with the government is that they put people in prison which increases these people status , They should instead show the Syrian people through the Media that these people who talk a lot and do little are not good for Syria,

August 8th, 2008, 2:05 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Majhool
Political violence and jailing of opposition did not start in 1963, or in 1970 as Michel Kilo, whom I duly respect, argued. Many “Tajheez” and university students were jailed in previous years for demonstrating against the series of military dictators. The rule of law, was being trampled on long before the Baathists took power. Naser intelligence services were known to be notorious during the brief unification period, and many credit him and his representatives in Syria including Abdulhamid Sarraj with the introduction of torture into Syrian jails. This is not baathist propaganda, I heard from many with different political affiliations including devout Naserites.

In the 50’s and during a graduation ceremony in the University of Damascus, one of the recipient of a degree in law threw his diploma on the floor and said, “they hand us degrees in law in a country where the sanctity of laws is violated every day”. The fellow went to jail and received some beating. I know of this incident because I know someone who attended that ceremony.

Finally, I would argue that the Ikhwan are not the underdog. Given their violent history, senseless killing, and disregard for the value of human life, it would take someone like me many more years, far beyond my natural life span, before accepting their claim of having been transformed into a non-violent political party. Just observe their current literature, as their various online newsletters continue to overflow with violent language, sectarian code words, and abject hate. Their alliance with one of the most despised figures in Syrian politics, a master of corruption, who is probably as responsible for jailing Dalila as any one, attest to their so-called “principled” stance.

August 8th, 2008, 3:22 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Karim

As usual, I really enjoyed that article. And I couldn’t agree more. The state does not have a duty to secularize individuals. Nor should it be allowed to treat secularism as the favorite religion of the state, which is sadly the case in Turkey.

However, my concern is not necessarily with Turkey. My concern is with the “renewal” of Islam. We have been hearing this for ages now. It was being discussed by Al-Kwakibi more than a century ago, followed by many. But since the 1980’s, the renewal has taken an odd turn towards worst fundamentalism, and in the direction of enshrining medieval traditions where they even did not exist before. I would partially blame KSA for that, the amount of money they put in spreading their interpretation of Islam, not necessarily by directly advocating wahabism, but by sponsoring ignorant imams everywhere they can find one. Turkey secularists are wrong in their anti-religion policies, but they are right in fearing the resurgence of a tortured Islam, which I would argue is hapenning faster than the spread of enlightened Islam. So the argument

If we had a reformed Islam, the secularism aspect of our official ideology would be much more liberal.

Is IMHO, a little more valid than the author argues. May be not with respect to Turkey’s secularism, but with respect to the general apprehension, secular humanists like me have of political Islam.

Yet, I must ask myself, what right do I have, as a secularist, to impose a correct Islam. Am i imposing my own vision on a religion and by that falling into the Turkish trap. I struggle with this contradiction, but I find solace in observing that in general, human thought evolves towards more individual freedom and equality. And with that i can have some ideas of whether practices such as religious policing in KSA or Iran, and now, brought to you by your nearest wahabi in Yemen, justified by interpretation of Islamic texts, are consistent with the evolution of humanity or not.

I know many women here and in Syria, who face tremendous pressures to put on the Jijab from their friends and relatives. Some may call that “Da3wa”, I call it psychological bullying. And it is inconsistent with freedom of choice and of freedom from pressure. It does not rise to illegality, but some of the pressures I have witnessed, are no less than brutal psychological manipulation.

August 8th, 2008, 4:13 pm

 

Majhool said:

OTW,

Now be balanced and please touch on the regime violent history as well. I would love a nice summary like the one you mentioned

FYI, I never supported the MB, but I tend to understand their sympathizers who don’t share the violent history of the MB. they constitute the majority of the Syrian people. I argue that alienating the majority of Syria is bad for Syria. I also argue that once they are part of decision making the MB will be marginalized.

August 8th, 2008, 4:25 pm

 

Jad said:

With all respect to Alex, who asked me to stop, I will, yet I need to clarify something majhool accused me of, that is not true,
(it’s not his first time.)????
I don’t think that I did write anything wrong to anybody, all my comments were my personal opinion and I’m consistent in all of them and it reflects what I truly believe in and stand for.
When I do debate with anybody here I want to understand where his idea came from since I grew up in Syria and I don’t understand why all this negativity some people have about their own country without giving any idea for solutions except asking for personal revenge instead of a dialogue.
I respect most people here, I’m not a politician, a historian or a financial advisor like most of you are, but I do have my humble opinion and when I think that I need to get into the discussion I do. However, I’m not going to let anybody to describe my assumption as “ridiculous” when they keep changing their positions, or calling me “paranoid” while they are liars or address me as “habibi’ while I don’t even know him/her and we all as Syrian know when is this word used!, SO don’t get offended and tell me that you get insulted and you asked for me to get banned like an elementary school student when you personally asked to read what I wrote to you.
Again, I apologise from Alex for writing back, but I think that I had to clear myself to all of you that nobody will misunderstand my argument with Majhool even himself.

August 8th, 2008, 4:26 pm

 

Majhool said:

Dear Nour

“of your extreme religious beliefs is also condemnable”

I strongly condem any violent act carried out against any Syrian.

Now please condem Bashar lastes statement ” There are no political prisoners in Syria”

We need balance. Don’t you agree?

August 8th, 2008, 4:29 pm

 

Alex said:

Majhool

1) regarding consistency in moderation, I explained to you that before I had to moderate you, I waited few months during which you

a- got into heated discussions (more than heated) with many (not one) other commentators
b- persisted for months, refusing to take my initial indirect “warnings” … until you started to escalate it into “hahaha … grow up Alex”.

I think what I wrote to Jad above is much more advanced than what I told you, given the two factors above.

2) regarding your denials about who you sympathized or supported … I leave it up to your memory (or maybe you can ask others here) if you supported AIG so many times against the rest of us. Your typical statement was:

“AIG … I’m afraid you are absolutely right” … “AIG, unfortunately everything you said is true” …

And the Saudis? … I will email you something that will convince you. Or simply go back to all your comments and see hoe many times you said “Not that I want to defend the Saudis BUT ….” … also check how many times you complained after people here criticized the Saudis … why? … underdogs again??

Majhool … You are a very smart man, but … the others you are disagreeing with here are not 10 year old kids …. I get the feeling you still think you can outsmart them. No one likes to be put in that situation … just be as straight forward as Akbar Palace, Karim or Norman … they do not hide what they feel and believe … You try too much to sound like “not that I want to defend the Saudis, … and AIG I’m afraid I have to support you here” …

August 8th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

norman said:

JAD,

I like what you write and I was called Ridiculous and Baathist ( like it is a crime to be for pan Arab Nation ) many time from some people here, They are just frustrated from their lack of achievements and want to blame Syria instead of themselves.

August 8th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Majhool
I am not absolving any side, and it is not my duty to touch on this or that. The objective of my argument was in fact to help identify weather political violence has historical roots in our modern history or not. If it does, then, we must guard against it now, and in the future no matter who is in power. That is why I have always argued for the role of civil society institutions and find it in this stage more useful than political parties and/or oppositional fronts. I find a lawyer taking a case to annul a forced marriage much more efficient way in establishing civil society.

The late Abdulrahman Munif argued that institutions of violence have no loyalty. Change the regime, and they will find a way to come back protecting the new regime. How many torturers did any regime in the history of Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, and other “republics” inherit from its predecessors. I would argue all of them. These are not political appointment or elected offices, these are professional thugs. It is rather interesting to speculate whether the Operator of the Guillotine who beheaded the King of France was the same one beheading Robespierre, only few years later.

August 8th, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

Majhool said:

Dear Alex,

a- got into heated discussions (more than heated) with many (not one) other commentators:

Habibi Alex, heated discussions do not violate moderation rules, I think we sorted this recently.

b- persisted for months, refusing to take my initial indirect “warnings” … until you started to escalate it into “hahaha … grow up Alex”.

In the time when I said “Grow up Alex” People like Norman and Offended, were engaging in far beyond more aggressive language. Mind you I did not expect that I would be singled out.

As for AIG, agreeing on what AIG has to say at times does not make me a supporter, I agreed with you and others many time, does that make me a supporter?

It’s not wither with us or against us, it’s about agreeing with those that present a sound argument ( Whether it’s AIG, Offended, or you)

As for the saudis, how many times do I have to repeat that I consider you repeated attacks against the Saudis to be a distraction. You keep linking the internal reform to the Saudi conspiracy, “once the Saudis stop……then …….)

I don’t share you views and we have to learn to respect that.

I am not trying to oversmart anyone; I am trying to bring balance. We are not dumb either you know.

August 8th, 2008, 5:01 pm

 

Majhool said:

OFW,

I grew up reading Munif’s works, and much of what I stand for is inspired by him personally, more so than anything else.

August 8th, 2008, 5:22 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Maybe when Bashar said “there are no political prisoners in Syria” it was kind of like when Ahmadinejad said , “we don’t have any homosexuals in Iran…like in America”
the key part that gives the meaning is the “like in America”… if you get my drift. Of course, it is nonsense.
But really, A of Iran was making a relatively true statement if ones thinks about it, whereas, B was purely playing with semantics.

August 8th, 2008, 5:39 pm

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

were the people in prison in Syria prosecuted and went to jail after they were found guilty of crimes that are probably not considered crime in other countries but are still crimes in Syria ,
If that is the case then Syrians should try to challenge these guilty verdicts in Syrian high court or the constitutional court if they have one.

He probably considers political prisoners only the people in prison without trial as they do in Egypt , KSA and Jordon, I do not know how many of these are there in Syria.

August 8th, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

norman said:

Assyrian International News Agency
Subtly and Determinedly, Syria is Taking Over Lebanon

——————————————————————————–

Posted GMT 8-8-2008 16:22:14

——————————————————————————–

Washington — Lebanese President Michel Suleiman is to visit Syria next week, to discuss the opening of diplomatic relations between the countries, a Lebanese official told reporters this week.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month hailed President Bashar Assad’s expression of willingness in principle to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon as “historic progress.”

The establishment of a first-ever Syrian Embassy in Beirut is probably not imminent, for various reasons. Nevertheless, the signs of normalization in relations between Syria and Lebanon are significant. They are the latest indication of Syria’s growing confidence, and far from being a harbinger of more peaceful times in the neighborhood, they offer clues as to the shape of possible further strife.

The formation of the new Lebanese government after the Beirut clashes in May represented a very significant gain for the pro-Syria element in Lebanese politics. Hizbullah now controls a blocking 11 of the 30 cabinet seats. With a Lebanese government of this type, there is no reason for Syria to be in dispute there. The short period when Damascus felt the need to express its will in Lebanon solely in a clandestine way is drawing to a close.

Still, Western hopes for the rapid establishment of formal relations between the two countries are probably exaggerated. Damascus is in no hurry. Syria’s return to Lebanon is a work in progress. Assad has listed the preconditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations to become a real possibility. These include the passing of an election law, and the holding of the scheduled May 2009 general election.

Behind Assad’s honeyed words, one may glimpse the contours of Syrian strategy in the next stage. The election of May 2009 will be conducted under the shadow of Hizbullah’s independent and now untouchable military capability.

Intimidation will go hand in hand with the real kudos gained by the movement and its allies because of recent events – including the prisoner swap with Israel, and the Doha agreement that followed the fighting in May. The result, the Syrians hope, will be the establishment of a government more fully dominated by Hizbullah and its allies, in which the pro-Western element will have been marginalized.

Such a government would mark the effective final reversal of the events of the spring of 2005, when the Cedar Revolution compelled the Syrian army to leave Lebanon. Damascus would then go on to conduct friendly and fraternal relations with the new order in Beirut. Mission accomplished.

If this strategy plays out, however, it will represent not the normalization of Syrian-Lebanese relations, but rather the enveloping of Lebanon into the regional alliance led by Iran, of which Syria is a senior member.

On the ground in Lebanon, this regional alliance is still engaged in consolidating its gains. The lines separating the official Lebanese state from the para-state established by Hizbullah continue to blur. The new government’s draft policy statement, which is still to be discussed by the parliament, supports the “right of Lebanon’s people, the army and the Resistance to liberate all its territories.”

This statement thus nominally affords the Resistance. i.e. Hizbullah, equal status with the Lebanese Armed Forces, and appears to consider it an organ of official government policy.

The new organ of government policy, meanwhile, is building its strength. Ostensibly for the mission of “liberating” 20 square kilometers of border farmland, Hizbullah has built a capability of 40,000 missiles and rockets, is frenziedly recruiting and training new fighters, and is expanding and developing its command and logistics center in the Bekaa.

The latest talk is of Iranian-Syrian plans to supply Hizbullah with an advanced anti-aircraft capacity that would provide aerial defense to the investment in rockets and missiles. Such a move would represent a grave altering of the balance of power. Serious moves towards it could well prove the spark for the next confrontation.

In all its moves, the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah alliance has known how to combine brutal military tactics on the ground with subtle and determined diplomacy. Its willingness to throw away the rule book governing the normal relations between states has been perhaps its greatest advantage. While the West sees states as fixed entities possessing certain basic rights, Iran and Syria see only processes of rising and falling power. They see themselves as the force on the rise, and the niceties of internationally fixed borders as a trifle unworthy of consideration.

The region has known the rise of similar systems of power and ideology in the past. Experience shows that such states and alliances have become amenable to change and compromise – if at all – only after experiencing defeat, setback and frustration.

The Syrians and their allies, of course, are far weaker in measurable military and societal terms than their rhetoric would suggest. Western (including Israeli) actions over the last years have tended to blur this fact. The general acceptance of the transformation of Lebanon into a platform for this alliance – and the lauding of it as ‘historical progress’ – is the latest example of this. The reacquaintance of rhetoric with reality on all sides is long overdue.

By Jonathan Spyer
Jerusalem Post

August 8th, 2008, 6:18 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Norman,
exactly. that’s exactly why he probably says that there are no “political prisoners” in Syria. Because the validity of the statement depends on how you define political prisoner. so, maybe such a statement doesn’t qualify as lying, but it is still rendered meaningless if one considers that by any outside standards these types of imprisonments would be deemed political, as the ‘crimes’ are political ones, under laws instituted for political reasons.

August 8th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Majhool said:

“If that is the case then Syrians should try to challenge these guilty verdicts in Syrian high court or the constitutional court if they have one”

Do you really think that anyone can challenge these rulings in court? Do you understand what “emergency laws” are there for? They suspend the law and the constitution all together.

August 8th, 2008, 6:23 pm

 

Majhool said:

Zen,

You are not suggesting that it’s ok for a leader of a nation to talk semantics? I hope not. I think you would agree that the he should use language that most people understand when it comes to the definition of a political prisoner, no? I believe most people here including those who support the regime, all agreed that yes he is a political prisoner.

I think consensus is important thing in linguistics. wouldn’t you agree?

August 8th, 2008, 6:35 pm

 

Zenobia said:

No, i am not.
consensus is not the right word. : )

but, yes, we have to have defining of terms made at every turn because otherwise there is no meaningful communication. but playing with semantics and rhetoric for the purpose of manipulation of public opinion is something that politicians across the globe engage in quite frequently if not most of the time.

anyway, we all know that there are indeed political prisoners in Syria, so its not even a debate.
There is not even a debate about whether this is bad. Everybody knows it is wrong.
The question is to what degree is leadership to be criticized for committing this wrong, and what should be the consequences for it. Also, there is the question is how wrong is this wrong relative to the supposed justifications for it (assuming that we accept the idea that the justifications are the real reasons, which many people also are not in agreement about)

So, there are the grounds for disagreements.

I myself don’t think there is any justification for it.
However, I probably diverge from someone like yourself on the issue of … therefore, the consequences should be X.
Complaints and condemnation are fine. We should speak up. However, more than this I do not know.

here are some more thoughts. I am not sure how I weigh the relative horribleness of it.
for example, I condemn the US administration for Guantanamo, and I certainly think they should be held accountable. However, I wouldn’t throw my whole government out as a result of this wrong.

On what grounds we criticize Syria is up for debate. I am not certain about it.
How do we measure such harms?
In Syria, the gov’t has imprisoned some very valuable and noble people, and perhaps the harm is measured to be greater because these people are so significant and important people who could be bringing value and benefit to the country instead of being accused of harming it.

In america, if you are a person with status, it is much harder to throw you in prison.
However, one in three black men over the age of twenty have spent time in jail or prison. That is immense. Utterly, indefensible.
70% of the prison population in California, which is one of the largest in the US, is in prison because of drug offenses.
This is outrageous.
Most European countries would judge such laws (these mandatory sentencing laws passed in the 80’s and 90’s) that put that many people, most of whom are minorities (because middle class and wealthy people do their drugs behind closed doors), in to prison for long stretches, to be totally unjust and de facto racist as well.

Most of Europe all thinks that America is barbaric for legally executing so many prisoners. There are people being lethally injected in Texas practically every other week.
Is this ok, given that these people are not famous intellectuals and political activists, or people with status. They have committed crimes, yes. But perhaps the punishment is cruel and unusual.

so, because Europe would likely call our laws tyrannical, are they?
I, personally, think they are.
But, I am not sure I would want Europe to take action against America for all the laws of ours that they judge to be morally wrong.

I also am not sure I think it is reasonable to thrash on the leadership of Syria all the time about these harms, when there are so many unjust laws and punishments being committed in the USA too.
How can I rightly cast the first stone.

Syrian people themselves however, do have the right to critique their government night and day if they want that to be there cause.

August 8th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Majhool said:

No disagreement. I fully agree. I am not expecting that they drop their support. But if they want to be balanced then nonsense statements should be noted and rejected…

I really wish that people on both sides in SC leave their trenches and reach out to one another. It will not happen if we continue to add a positive spin on everything whether right and wrong. No one, I mean no one, on the other side criticized Bashar for what he said.

I want to be able to criticize Kilo’s positions, but given the current no-compromise attitude on the other side. It will be ridiculous to do so.

August 8th, 2008, 7:56 pm

 

Off The Wall said:

Thank you Zenobia for putting things in perspective

August 8th, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Majhool said:

OFW,

Bare with me, Do you find Bashar statement acceptable, yes or no?

August 8th, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

Jad said:

Dear Norman, thank you for understanding.
Thank you Zenobia for your input, it’s very rational and “putting things in perspective” as OTW wrote.

August 8th, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

May I remind you that “Two Wrongs Make a Right” is a fallacy.

August 8th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

Majhool said:

Greet Point Seeking the Thruth

Source Wiki

Two wrongs make a right is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out. Like many fallacies, it typically appears as the hidden major premise in an enthymeme—an unstated assumption which must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion. This is an example of an informal fallacy.

It is often used as a red herring, or an attempt to change or distract from the issue. For example:

Speaker A: President Williams lied in his testimony to Congress. He should not do that.
Speaker B: But you are ignoring the fact that President Roberts lied in his Congressional testimony!
If President Roberts lied in his Congressional testimony, that does not make it acceptable for President Williams to do so as well.

The tu quoque fallacy is a specific type of “two wrongs make a right”. Accusing another person of not practicing what they preach, while appropriate in some situations, does not in itself invalidate an action or statement that is perceived as contradictory.

August 8th, 2008, 9:38 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Nobody said anything about “Right”. I think the bible says, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

August 8th, 2008, 9:50 pm

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

Jesus said that not the bible.

August 8th, 2008, 10:01 pm

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

– Of course heated arguemtns are fine, and of course you should express your opinion. When I said “heated discussions” I meant the not-very-healthy type … and the emphasis is on “with many others” … with Norman, Ausamaa, me, Offended, Jad …

Trustquest in comparison, does not have this problem … even though he does not miss an opportunity to make a pro democracy statement or to remind us that the regime is not as amazing as we sometimes think.

But having said that, this time I think Jad started it.

As for Bashar’s statement … of course it is a generic official answer designed to avoid discussing the real issue.

Bush spokesman McClellan was not telling the truth every day he opened his mouth … and this is the greatest democracy on earth.

So … why is there this surprise and shock on your part? why is this the most urgent discussion topic in your opinion?… is it perhaps your need to catch something negative to mention on a day when the regime did a long-awaited good thing? … Keep the pressure on the Syrian regime .. they respond best to pressure.

And may I remind you that it was AIG who tried through his objection to the two wrongs make a right fallacy, for few months to stop all of us from reminding him that Syria is not as “evil” as Israel and its neocon friends who worked hard to start the Iraq war and destruction …

Sometimes, when one mentions the other wrong it is for the purpose of putting things in perspective, not to claim that the first wrong is not wrong.

August 8th, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

Alex said:

Hmm … this is by Gary Gambil, from Mideastmonitor.com

Gary is usually very good, but here I think he is relying too much on unreliable sources.

The Mysterious Downfall of Assef Shawkat

In recent months, there has been a whirlwind of regional and international speculation regarding the fate of Brig. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the head of Syrian military intelligence and brother-in-law of President Bashar Assad. Long considered to be the most powerful member of the regime, Shawkat’s influence has declined over the past six months, though the extent of and reasons for his fall from grace are not yet clear.

Shawkat’s troubles came in the wake of two spectacular intelligence failures. The first was Israel’s bombing of a Syrian nuclear facility in September 2007, followed by the Bush administration’s release of damning photographic evidence of a reactor gathered by spies on the ground. The second incident was the February 2008 assassination of notorious Shiite terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, an operation that almost certainly required the complicity of someone in the Syrian intelligence apparatus.

It was soon evident that Shawkat had lost favor with his brother-in-law. He was excluded from the investigation into Mughniyeh’s assassination, which Assad put under the charge of his cousin Hafez Makhlouf (the brother of Rami Makhlouf). In early April, exiled former Syrian Vice-president Abdul Halim Khaddam told the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal that Shawkat was under house arrest.[1] There were also credible reports that Shawkat’s wife, Bushra Assad, and children had left Syria for Paris. The London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted a high-level French source as denying that Bushra had requested asylum and saying that she was residing in an unidentified Arab country (widely believed to be the UAE).[2]

There were numerous reports in the Arab press that Shawkat was under suspicion of being involved in the assassination of Mughniyeh, though this claim was initially confined to press organs known for publishing hearsay as fact, such as the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa.[3] Some, such as the Algerian daily Ech Chorouk, reported that Shawkat had been arrested for plotting a coup.[4] According to the Lebanese weekly Al-Shiraa, two Syrian military intelligence officers were executed for their involvement in the plot.[5] In June, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that Shawkat had plotted to overthrow Assad and was arrested in February after Mughniyeh tipped off the Syrian president to the plot. Mughniyeh was killed a few days later, according to the report, possibly by associates of Shawkat.[6]

Other explanations have been offered for Shawkat’s fall from favor. In early June, French journalist Georges Malbrunot reported in Le Figaro that Shawkat was under house arrest, though he argued that the likely cause had more to do with Shawkat’s alleged involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and outside pressure on Assad to demote him.[7] According to Syrian sources cited by Basel Oudat, Shawkat’s downfall was due to non-political reasons.[8] It’s possible that Bushra departed Syria because of her own personal dispute with Assad. Having risen to his position largely due to her influence, Shawkat’s downfall may have been the result (rather than the cause) of her estrangement from her brother.

Since the revelations came out, Syrian state television has broadcast footage of Shawkat attending military graduation ceremonies at least three times (most recently on July 3) and there are some reports that Shawkat has been seen going to his office frequently,[9] However, there is a fairly solid consensus among informed Syrian observers that he has effectively (if not yet officially) been removed as head of military intelligence, with his second-in-command, Maj. Gen. Ali Younis (who is not close to Shawkat), effectively running things. According to the opposition Reform Party of Syria (RPS), Shawkat has been appointed head of a newly created (and toothless) National Security Council.[10] If so, it would appear he has merely been obliged to take an early retirement.

August 8th, 2008, 10:32 pm

 

norman said:

I find this interesting ,

EU favors ending Syria’s isolation – Poettering
Parliament chief weighs in on Lebanon, Iran, Hizbullah, fickle us friends
By Michael Bluhm
Daily Star staff
Saturday, August 09, 2008

BEIRUT: The European Union (EU) wants to end the international community’s isolation of Syria, but Damascus must prove itself to the EU by taking specific measures toward recognizing Lebanon, such as the exchange of embassies and demarcating the common border, said European Parliament head Hans-Gert Poettering. Poettering is on a three-day visit to Lebanon, and he gave The Daily Star an exclusive interview late Thursday evening, from which the transcript below is taken.

Q: What did you discuss with President Michel Sleiman?

A: I’d like to put it this way. The points of discussion with President Sleiman – [and] with Prime Minister [Fouad] Siniora, with the President of Parliament Mr. [Nabih] Berri, with the foreign minister, with the representatives of the political groups – were the questions of the peaceful development in the country, institution-building and then the relations with Israel, the Middle East peace process, the question of the Palestinians here in the country – 400,000 – what will happen to them when there is an overall peace agreement [and] then the relations with Syria. So it was the whole range of challenges here in the region.

Q: The EU – and France in particular – helped to lead the drive to isolate Syria after the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, however, in July invited Syrian President Bashar Assad to the EuroMed summit in Paris on July 13. What is the stance of the European Union (EU) toward Syria?

A: Generally speaking, we are very much in favor of bringing Syria nearer to the international community. So we in principle agree to the approach of the French president – who is now the president of the European Council – and the invitation of Nicolas Sarzkoy to the president of Syria to come to Paris. The main invitation was for the [Euromed] summit on July 13, and so this was agreed by everybody, of course, and it’s a natural part of the development of the Union for the Mediterranean. And President Sarkozy invited all heads of governments and the presidents of the European institutions, that means President [Jose] Barroso of the [European] Commission, then Javier Solana and myself for the celebration – what you call Bastille Day, the national day, July 14 – and excluding the president of Syria and inviting all the others to stay in Paris would not have been a positive start of bringing Syria nearer to Europe and to the international community.

But now it’s important that Syria makes concrete steps, and so, if I understand it correctly, there were indications that Syria wants to recognize Lebanon, and now here must be concrete follow-up: The exchange of ambassadors and so on. This is our expectation of Syria, that concrete steps are following now, and if there are concrete steps from the Syrian side, this would make easier to have an association agreement between Syria and the European Union.

Q: Which concrete steps would you like to see?

A: One I mentioned already: Diplomatic recognition, the recognition of Lebanon and the exchange of ambassadors. Then concrete steps of border controls. I’m not here to say what the steps must be, but you’re asking me, so I give you these two. It’s a question now of Lebanon and Syria to develop confidence-building measures, and we want in the European Union to see these very concrete confidence-building measures.

Q: How does this engagement square with US policies?

A: The policy of our friends in the United States changes once in a while as well. To take the point of the Taliban question in Afghanistan, the Taliban at one stage were supported by the United States. Now the United States – rightly so – are strong opponents to the Taliban, as we are all, and my understanding is that the approach of the American administration vis-a-vis Syria is different now, as well and more open. The United States are more in favor of bringing Syria back into the international community. And even as far as Iran is concerned, the American position is much more open then in the past. So America is changing as well.

Q: What is the EU position regarding the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon?

A: For us it’s important in the European Parliament that we have an international inquiry in the murder of Prime Minister Hariri and in that connection perhaps an investigation for other assassinations as well. So we have to insist that these assassinations are investigated on an international level. So there is a commitment of the European Parliament to this.

Q: Will you tell this to Syrian President Bashar Assad?

A: I might speak with him in the sense that we have to investigate in this question.

Q: What is the EU position regarding the Shebaa Farms?

A: I think that Lebanon has a legitimate right to get the Shebaa Farms back, and the secretary general of the United Nations has asked Syria and Israel to answer questions. So far neither side has done it, but I think that Lebanon has a legitimate right to get these farms back, and if they are given back to Lebanon, then Hizbullah has one argument less for the existence of its own military organization.

Q: Will the EU do anything to press Israel to stop violating UN Resolution 1701 with its near-daily overflights of Lebanon?

A: We are in favor of the applying the resolutions of the United Nations, and everything that violates the resolutions of the UN will find the opposition of the European Union.

Q: How does the EU view developments in the region, such as Syrian-Israeli talks and negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program?

A: We in the European Union and European Parliament – and especially myself – it must be clear for everybody that we always will defend the integrity and security of Israel. People who take the existence of Israel into question will find our strongest opposition. Having said this, we must find solutions, and the Israelis must take steps as well. We in the European Union and in the European Parliament welcome that there are now negotiations or contacts or dialogue between Syria and Israel with the support of Turkey. So we should use all diplomatic means to find solutions [so] that the states in this region accept each other and that we find of course a solution for a viable Palestinian state as well.

Q: How will the EU push Israel to make concessions, such as to stop the building of new settlements in the Occupied West Bank?

A: We as Europeans want to be a fair broker. We want to be fair to Israel [and] we want to be fair to Palestinians. The dignity of the Palestinians is the same as the dignity of the Israelis. All human beings are equal, and we have to defend the human rights of everybody – of the Israelis, and of the Palestinians. We have to find solutions which accept the dignity of the human being.

For instance, it’s the clear commitment of Israel in the framework of the Annapolis agreement not to build new settlements. Then when settlements are built, it’s against Annapolis and it will never find our support. We need to have confidence-building measures from all sides.

And only if we have confidence-building measures from all sides and we obey bilateral or international commitments, then we can find solutions.

Q: What is the EU’s stance in talks with Iran?

A: I am not dealing with this question in detail, but Iran has to prove to the international community, the United Nations, to all of us, that it’s not preparing to build nuclear bombs. And as long as we have no proof in that direction, we have the strongest doubts in the Iranian policy – and Iran has now to deliver.

Q: How does the EU view the place of Hizbullah in Lebanese society?

A: It’s totally contrary to our European beliefs to have organizations in a state that occupy the use of legitimate power for themselves. The monopoly for legitimate force should always lay in the hands of a state, and so the ambition of the dialogue in Lebanon must be that this principle finally will be realized.

Q: What can Lebanon expect specifically in terms of support from the EU?

A: There is already now great support from the side of the European Union in the framework of institution-building, in the framework of advice [and] as far as election laws are concerned. And, of course, if there is an overall agreement on Middle East peace, we will economically, financially be helpful for the solution of the Palestinian question – I mean the Palestinians living here in Lebanon. So we want to be helpful, to have a safe Middle East in which the state and the human being can live in peace and dignity.

Q: How close is a wider Middle East peace agreement, in your view?

A: What I have learned here [is] it would be very ambitious if we still would sign an agreement in the time of President [George W.] Bush. We will have elections in Israel, we have elections in the United States, so if we could sign an agreement in the time of President Bush, I would be very happy, but I think this is very, very ambitious.

August 8th, 2008, 10:37 pm

 

Jad said:

Thank you Alex, 🙂
I do agree, I initiate the argument, my mistake.
J.

August 8th, 2008, 10:39 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex,

“I meant the not-very-healthy type … and the emphasis is on “with many others” … with Norman, Ausamaa, me, Offended, Jad …”

Have I attacked Jad? He forced this unhealthy exchange. Same applies to Norman’s takhween comments and the ultra aggressive comments of Offended and Asuamma. Have you ever moderated them?

Look how you diluted the issue, instead of addressing the issue at hand (Jad’s inappropriateness) it all revolves around Majhool now. And then comes AIG, and suddenly I have to explain how I agreed with some statements he made?!! Not only AIG, now I have to answer for Kilo, Hariri, King Abduallah and God knows who.

But since you mentioned Trsutquest, Here is what he said “I think some persons have to put up with contempt and insult for defending the idea of: we can do better and we should criticize”

Can we just stick to our agreement and enforce it instead of diluting it? I would be thankful if we would.

August 8th, 2008, 11:01 pm

 

Alex said:

Majhool,

If you read above, I put the blame on Jad already.

But this is the first day I did so, and he immediately accepted.

And I agree that it was Norman and perhaps who accused you of many things … I think I also expressed my disapproval about twice and since then Norman is not attacking you the same way. I don;t need to go after other people here if they stop after few times. It is only those who persist that force me to EVENTUALLY interfere.

Majhool … I will write you an email. Let’s keep this place for the original discussion topic.

Are there any more news today from Aref?

August 8th, 2008, 11:33 pm

 

norman said:

Alex,

It is easier to ignore some people here as long as they do not attack Syria and it’s president while sitting in their comfortable home in the West .

By the way Alex, I do not have to accuse anybody of anything , their words will tell who they are .

You can tell when many people have the same problem with only one Pearson.

By the way he called my note ,, ( Ridiculous ) and called me the worst of the regime defender , I did not to take that title without the approval of the others defenders so i had to defend Syria and it’s government.and i will always do that.

August 8th, 2008, 11:41 pm

 

Majhool said:

Alex, Agreed.

August 8th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Why was my comment earlier ignored? (apart from Trustquest)

August 8th, 2008, 11:45 pm

 

norman said:

Enlighted one , My nephew ,

Nobody can ignore you , How can anybody ignore the Sun in the middle of the day , I just thought you made a good point so i let it be .

August 8th, 2008, 11:52 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Ammo Norman.

Im not attention seeking, but I thought I made some very good valid points, that no one retorted with answers or put forward alternatives to my point of view.

Strange from the SC community (the silence) that is!

August 9th, 2008, 12:24 am

 

norman said:

They know how to intice you to write more ,

I want to ask you about the education system in Australia,

Are the books the same in all schools or every school district has it’s own curiculum ,

Are the schools supported by local ( prperty taxes ) like the US or supported by the central government.

August 9th, 2008, 12:36 am

 

Zenobia said:

Norman, if jesus said it, then it’s in the bible.

August 9th, 2008, 12:40 am

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

It is the new testament ,Isn’t it?.

August 9th, 2008, 12:44 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman a very complex question.

They are moving towards a national curriculum, both at Primary school (5yr olds to 12 year olds) and High schools (12-18 year olds).

Currently the States have their own curriculums that they teach, I think the time frame is within the next five years.

The Federal government provides money to the states for Education Budgets. It is relatively free, unless your parents decide to send you to a private school (whether religious based or secular). There are also Selective based High schools for high achievers which you have to sit a test for to enter.

To enter University you have to do pretty well and get graded against all matriculating students and achieve a high mark to gain entry for the course of your choice (similar to SAT in the states). When I graduated from high school i got into Economics at Macquarie Uni minimum was 82/100 I got 85, medicine was 98/100 that year) I later transferred and did a Commerce degree at another university in second year.

University since 1989 is no longer free and you have to pay a deffered tax once you start working (my degree cost $32,000) which is still relatively cheap when you compare it to the states, my sister who is a lawyer/business major degree cost her $80k for a comparison)

There is currently a Government Board looking into making Education more standard across Australia (each state has its own education board) and we wont know its recommendations for a while.

Il keep you posted when it comes out.

August 9th, 2008, 1:44 am

 

norman said:

Enlighted one,

So we can say that each state in Australia has one curriculum , In the US each district has it’s own books which are different from the one next to it .when you say state what is the population we are talking about .

August 9th, 2008, 2:14 am

 

trustquest said:

Thanks Alex,
Alex, you are OK, the thing about me is like this. I find the civil society phenomena in Syria as the only thing exciting that attracts my attention and deserve it. When I visited the country after 20 years, I found nothing change, the same old thing but worse, (on all levels, social, values, architectural, environment, resources, taste etc..) the only thing changing was that they keep changing the pavements tiles with different colors but still the same oppression and hegemony and more backwardness. Have you traveled outside Damascus and saw those arches of victories for the Baath party and the leader, what a piece of art, I mean trash all over?. This is was not only my opinion but the opinion of the Syrians intellectuals friends (writers, high office people etc..). The new dictator changed couples of things but the hegemony and culture of violence still the norm but there is good effort from civilized people to change this and this is encouraging. I do not dispute your effort in pushing for positive change especially on the foreign policy, keep the good work.

Three are too many factors forcing change, the new technology which overrides the static of the system, the emigrants, the national and regional scene in addition to the bad economy. But still the system is holding strong and the mafia is active and hurting the development and the real change. First, please let me be clear, I’m full hearted with the peaceful change and I admire the new president for his courageous steps especially in foreign policy, but still I think I should keep hammering the system because exposing it is in my view one of the ways to influence it. Don’t you see how Mr. Aref Dalila left prison after 7 years in confinement to hear him say that he will continue voice his opinion about the regime and the system. Do not forget that he is the one who rang the bell regarding the Billions of Dollars thiefed by the echelon who in the end are hurting the regime, the country and who actually were behind his imprisonment. I love this guy and I will try to give him the support he deserves. This economy professor knows about number and the discrepancy here in my opinion is in the amount not the act. If it is ten of millions, it should not be a problem, but not billions for the size of budget for the country in question. It is beyond crimination, it is treason. I think Mr. Dalila is helping the president and I think many other people should too. The president needs opposition and a real one, the sooner the better, without it, it is chaos. He can-not do it by himself alone and especially now, he has to face Rami and his brother Hafez is gaining more power while Asef power is fading. This guys life is in danger, I feel for his life.

Kathleen Reedy and Lisa Wedeen cover the emotional feeling for the public quite admirably and no need to bring more proof about how people feel and express hegemony. But I know you know and you think the best way to contribute to positive change is to encourage positive changes and not to criticize the regime since it will bring his sensitivity and his bad reaction. I do love this attitude and it is really help, but it is not going to be the only one to contribute to change. The collection of all forces pioneered by the good people and the bad people is what is going to feed the fire of change. The situation in MHO is mafia kind of governing and it seems to me that most on this blog know that and they have different attitudes to deal with it. I love to see each one on this forum hold to his arm and it does not make sense to ask anyone to give up his arm and agree with the other point of view. It is not a corporate meeting and we need to make decisions we are here to exchange views.

Look how the smart lady Zenobia ( hi Zenobia, you are great) explained in a very eloquent way the lie concept. Any forum you go to you read views and give your and no one will stop you, debating you to prove you are wrong, except when here on this form two Syrians one regime supporter and the other regime hater engage in debate. They attack each other literally.

My other interest is to attack the taboo built in the last 40 years, which says, that president, or that sect or the regime is red lines you can not cross. Here I think I can contribute well so the taboo can be broken. And please try to see the difference between attacking the president and attacking the country. I think, we have to apply a standard that if I as US citizen with Syrian birth place can attack the president of US, it is not wrong to attack on the same standard the president of Syria, it does not matter if at my comfort or standing up. By the way usually I do not do any of the aforementioned, but standard should be applied.

Why don’t you go and read syrianews, or Syrian blogs, there is nothing of value there and even if you go read what called the opposition, they are also pathetic they can not make a good report or do decent analysis. Man the people in Syria still living the stone age and scared to death. They still think that Mukhabarat can hunt all of them even when they are now counts in hundreds of thousand and they can use alliance names.

Majhool is bringing a healthy breath to Landis forum, as well as regime supporters, but not as much as neutral thinkers like Shai, OTW and Zenobia. You have to believe that there are some people of Syrians origin do not like the regime and think of them as thieves and they look for bad news to expose them. You do not want to end up dancing in the same room with the same family all the time, it is boring isn’t it.
Karim also brings fresh ideas regarding the Turks and he is not shy on saying his mind, I would like to record that I do not agree with some of his views, but I, as they say, I will give my live to make him express his views. And a reminder, people who burn the flag, they do not hate their country they hate its action. So, I agree, I disagree.

August 9th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman FYI

read, State name, (total population of state), % population of Total in Australia, Capital City name, Population of city, Population of city as percentage to total population in State) per line.

New South Wales 6,889,072 ,32.8 ,Sydney (4,336,374) (62.9)

Victoria 5,205,216 ,24.8 Melbourne (3,806,092) (73.1)

Queensland 4,182,062 ,19.9 ,Brisbane (1,857,594) (44.4)

Western Australia 2,105,783 ,10.0, Perth (1,554,769) (73.8)

South Australia , 1,584,513 ,7.5 ,Adelaide (1,158,259) (73.1)

Tasmania 493,341, 2.3 ,Hobart (207,484) (42.1)

Australian Capital Territory , 339,865 ,1.6 ,Canberra(339,573)(99.9)

Northern Territory (214,975) ,1.0,Darwin ,117,395 (54.6)

Australia3 (21,017,222) Total population

I was a stats fanatic got two distinctions in stats and stat methods at uni (don’t know how as i did poorly in maths at school)

August 9th, 2008, 2:53 am

 

norman said:

Interesting .

August 9th, 2008, 3:51 am

 

Zenobia said:

Norman,
yes, New Testament. but what Jesus said is recorded by his followers, the apostles, to tell us his teachings.

August 9th, 2008, 3:55 am

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

Got it.

August 9th, 2008, 4:08 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened

Forget about education and statistics. These are frivolous pursuits. What is really important is the following question:

Are you going to support Australian swimming in the Olympics or Lebanese? Come on, show your true colors. We have two swimmers in the Games: Nibal Yamout and Wael Kobrosli. I am expecting them to bring home two golds.

As you know, the Phoenicians were a maritime people, so we should have swimming excellence encoded in our DNA.

😉

August 9th, 2008, 11:47 am

 

Innocent_Criminal said:

why is the comment section closed in the latest post???

August 9th, 2008, 4:51 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

IC

I also tried submitting a comment twice today on this post, but nothing went through.

August 9th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

Shai said:

OTW,

The closed comments section reminds me of a joke once told by Yakov Smirnov, a Jewish ex-Soviet comedian that defected to the U.S. in the early 80’s. He said that in the U.S.S.R. they also had more than one channel on TV, in fact, two. The first was government propaganda, and on the second, you saw a KGB officer pointing at you and telling you to switch back to channel one… 🙂

August 9th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Shai

Nice one, I remember Yakov. 🙂

How are things, did you watch of the opening of the Olympiad?

August 9th, 2008, 6:00 pm

 

Shai said:

OTW,

Yes, I did. It was spectacular. Every Olympics I get the same feeling again and again (and I’m not going to go into details here), because it entails… peace (what a novel idea). Tomorrow there’s supposed to be the Iran-Russia basketball game, and guess who’s the Russian team’s coach? Yep, an Israeli-American guy (played and coached in Israel). So will they shake hands with him? I certainly hope so.

I love watching the games, and since Beijing is ahead of us, it’ll be easier, because most games will be during daytime, not in the middle of my night. I still remember the Olympics when the Syrian female athlete won a gold medal for Syria! Israel hasn’t had too many, but we did in the High jump, Windsurfing, and two silvers in Judo. Let’s see what happens this time… Good luck to all nations!

August 9th, 2008, 6:08 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

SHAI
The Israeli team seemed to be at ease and I might say jovial. Syria had a smaller contingent than what hoped for, but let us hope again that one day the players from the two teams will be able to shake hands and compete in a brotherly/sisterly manner.

When I was in Syria, ages ago, Judo and Karate were very popular. I do not know if that remains, but I can think of some sports where the two teams might compete, which include weight lifting, which was also popular in Syria and I heard that it is popular also in Israel, no?

But the opening was as you describe it fantastic. I still remember the tearing bear in the closure of the Moscow Olympic That was an unforgettable moment, and I think last night there were quite few unforgettable moments.

Join my voice to yours, Good luck to all nations. Back to you

August 9th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Random, and somehow incoherent thoughts On Reforms, Civil Society, Opposition, and Leadership
There was a very interesting program on PBS last night about civil society in China. In one segment of the program, a human rights activist was talking about the role of courts in bringing about changes and in challenging corrupt officials, mainly at the local level. Her argument was that human rights advocates have to chose their cases very carefully, because they do not want to force judges into the position of having to chose between their career and their conscious. She asserted that as a civil society advocate, she welcomes conscientious judges, but at the same time, she can not, and would not want to force anyone to take risks they are not ready for.

Her statements highlight an alternative attitude towards the building of civil society. Almost every one on the show mentioned Judicial independence as the first step towards building civil society, especially in countries where the culture of denying the other is very much and entrenched reality.

On several occasions over the past few weeks, the issue of judicial reforms was brought up here, and every one who participated seemed to gravitate towards acknowledging and advocating for that.

One can learn a lot by observing human rights organizations worldwide, while they never stop arguing for increased political freedom, they avoid getting sucked into generalizations and blanket condemnation. They pick up individual cases, develop campaigns, and pursue their goal of releasing said prisoner and become single issue advocates.

It is here where I find the tactics of some within the so called Opposition to be ineffective, at best. So far, all I hear are blanket condemnations of every thing. Every opposition group and its sympathizers want to fix everything at once. And they want to start top-down by demolition. Even when they use words like regime there is no explanation, whatsoever of what a regime is?. Is it a group of people, is it a set of institutional arrangements, is it laws, is is the various ministries, or is it relationship between the governing and the governed? very few have articulated what and who is the regime beyond mentioning a couple of names, which I dare say, is not helpful, nor informative.

Politics is not different from diplomacy. It is the art of the possible. Most enduring successes are built incrementally, and sometimes with baby steps. Occasionally, revolutions were successful in creating a paradigm shift. But at the same time, internal revolutions have proven to be the most fertile soils for opportunism. So are sudden changes, even when they are attempted by a reform minded leaders who are already in power. At the same time, very slow baby steps have the risk of being preempted and sabotaged by entrenched interests, as well as of being marginal. True leaders are those visionaries, who are so well connected to the daily lives of their people and are capable of striking the balance by identifying a cause that is recognizable, doable, and most effective in getting them closer to their ultimate goals. Take for example a visionary civil rights hero Cezar Chavez, who did not go after the entire establishment, but rather identified a single issue, which he spent his entire life advocating. He did not build his credentials in a think tank, or in a fancy apartment in Paris (pun intended ). He lived in the trenches. Fasted and built a movement from scratch and changed the lives of millions.

August 9th, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear All

There is nothing notorious going on the comment section of this post. I made a mistake in trying to embed formatting in my post. I was trying to provide a link to an article on Cezar Chavez. That is probably why my post titled Thoughts on reform did not go through the first time over.

My bad. 🙁

TQ.

I am humbled by your comment about contributions. I am also very pleased that you recognized my attempts to be neutral. Thank you. I agree that we all try our best to bring thoughtful ideas and I share your commitment to Karim’s freedom of expression. In fact I learned much by following some of the links he provided and find my interaction with everyone on this forum to be thought provoking. For years, i have avoided the challenge of having to think clearly about Syria, But on this forum i find myself challenged. Thanks to all for making Syria relevant again in my life.

Ps. I am also committed to others’ freedom of speach, not only to my friend’s Karim 🙂

August 9th, 2008, 6:36 pm

 

Alex said:

Did anyone notice the seven members of the Syrian team right ahead of the slightly larger American team?

I was looking at the achievements of

Syria (3 medals)

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/BIO/NOC/SYR.shtml

and

Israel (6 medals)

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/BIO/NOC/ISR.shtml

And then comparing them to another small country … Finland
(294 medals)

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRM/ENG/BIO/NOC/FIN.shtml

If we are to have peace in the Middle East … it would probably be very useful if the Israelis and Syrians find different national teams to cheer … sports teams! … instead of our current champions … the IDF for Israel (in war games), and the Assads (regional competition champions)

If we reach a peace settlement, Syria and Israel will not be able to play their respective favorite games anymore … makes it not a very desirable destination.

August 9th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

norman said:

Mahmoud Darweesh, The Palestinian poet died this morning .

August 9th, 2008, 7:01 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

My wife just informed me that one of our team’s participants is competing in sharp-shooting. I told her that I very much hope he will NOT win a medal… 🙂 (last thing we need, is for people to say “of course, we know why this Israeli is so good at sharp-shooting…”)

August 9th, 2008, 7:04 pm

 

Shai said:

The Palestinian Authority confirmed Mahmoud Darwish passing away just now…

Here’s what Ynet wrote about him: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3579984,00.html

August 9th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Shai

One of Lebanon’s athletes is also a shooter. 🙂

Maybe they will share the podium. Wouldn’t that be interesting.

August 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Alex said:

OTW,

Please email me at my creative syria email so that I can reply without ending int he spam filter next to the daiy email from your Nigerian prince friend.

Trustquest,

Thank you for everything you wrote. I agree that we need to have all kinds of opinions. Actually … I have an essential modification:

I think that those who ALWAYS have the same extreme opinion and who have the same enemy and same agenda, end up being:

1) boring and predictable
2) not considered as neutral, reasonabe, objective or reliable, and therefore
3) Often ridiculed or despised by the people on the other side they are supposed to challenge and influence.

So, while I am all for wide perceivable variations in opinions, I think the two extremes (on both sides of any issue) are counter productive.

I like opinions that cover the whole spectrum from minus 7 to plus 7 range … not from minus 10 to plus 10.

August 9th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Revered as the Palestinians’ national poet, Darwish was born March 13th 1941 in the village of al-Birwa in the Galilee. Following the establishment of Israel in 1948 the family relocated to Lebanon. The destruction of his childhood home and the evacuation of his village were themes Darwish revisited often in his writings.

Interesting that Ynet would publish such an even-handed piece devoid of the usual political rhetoric.

I don’t think an Israeli icon would receive such an obituary in any Arab newspaper.

August 9th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Alex said:

جئتُ قُبيَل ميعادي
:فلم يظهر ملاك واحد ليقول لي
“ماذا فعلتَ، هناك، في الدنيا؟”
ولم أسمع هتَافَ الطيَبينَ، ولا أنينَ الخاطئينَ
أنا وحيد في البياض
أنا وحيدُ…
لا شيء يُوجِعُني على باب القيامةِ.
لا الزمانُ ولا العواطفُ. لا أُحِسُّ بخفَّةِ الأشياء أو ثقل الهواجس
لم أجد أحداً لأسأل
أين “أيني” الآن؟ أين مدينة الموتى.
وأين أنا؟ فلا عدم هنا في اللا هنا… في اللا زمان، ولا وُجُودُ
وكأنني قد متُّ قبل الآن…
أعرفُ هذه الرؤية وأعرفُ أنني أمضي إلى ما لستُ أعرف
رُبَّما ما زلتُ حيّاً في مكان ما، وأعرفُ ما أريدُ…
سأصير يوماً طائراً، وأسُلُّ من عدمي وجودي
كُلَّما احترقَ الجناحانِ اقتربت من الحقيقةِ. وانبعثتُ من الرماد.
أنا حوارُ الحالمين، عَزفتُ
عن جسدي وعن نفسي لأكملَ رحلتي الأولى إلى المعاني،
فأحرقني وغاب. أنا الغيابُ، أنا السماويُّ الطريدُ.
سأصير يوماً ما أريدُ
سأصير يوماً شاعراً
والماءُ رهنُ بصيرتي. لُغتي مجاز للمجاز
فلا أقول ولا أشيرُ إلى مكان.
فالمكان خطيئتي وذريعتي
أنا من هناك. “هُنايَ” يقفزُ من خُطايَ إلى مُخيّلتي…
أنا من كنتُ أو سأكون
يصنعُني ويصرعُني الفضاءُ اللانهائيُّ المديدُ.
سأصير يوماً ما أريدُ
سأصيرُ يوماً كرمةً،
فليعتصرني الصيفُ منذ الآن،
وليشرب نبيذي العابرون على ثُريّات المكان السكّريِّ!
أنا الرسالةُ والرسولُ
أنا العناوينُ الصغيرةُ والبريدُ
سأصير يوماً ما أريدُ
هذا هوَ اسمُكَ
قالتِ امرأة
وغابت في ممرِّ بياضها
هذا هو اسمُكَ، فاحفظِ اسمكَ جيِّداً
لا تختلف معهُ على حرف
ولا تعبأ براياتِ القبائلِ
كُن صديقاً لاسمك الأفقَيِّ
جرِّبهُ مع الأحياء والموتى
ودرِّربهُ على النُطق الصحيح برفقة الغرباء
واكتبهُ على إحدى صُخور الكهف،
يا اسمي: سوف تكبرُ حين أكبرُ .
يا اسمي: أين نحن الآن؟
قل: ما الآن، ما الغدُ؟
ما الزمانُ وما المكانُ
وما القديمُ وما الجديدُ؟
سنكون يوماً ما نريدُ (…)

محمود درويش

August 9th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

As long as there’s no “Cluster Bomb Competition”… There, I’m afraid Israel would win hands-down. Did I tell you btw that one of my Everest-heroes is Maxime Chaya?

About the Ynet article, yes, it’s nice to see things like this every now and then… But what good is freedom, when people also have the right to be numb?

August 9th, 2008, 7:22 pm

 

Alex said:

Just when oil prices started declining comes another war

Putin defends Russia’s Ossetia incursion, slams Georgia over ‘genocide’

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday defended his country’s military actions in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, saying what was happening there was “genocide,” news agencies reported.

Georgia, which has close ties with the West, and Russia came into direct conflict over the pro-Russian rebel region after Tbilisi launched an offensive earlier this week to regain control over it.

“Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO… is driven by its attempt to drag other nations and peoples into its bloody adventures,” Putin said during a meeting in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz. Parts of the meeting were shown on television.

Georgia called for a cease-fire earlier on Saturday after Russian bombers widened their offensive to force back Georgian troops.

U.S. President George W. Bush said Russian attacks on Georgia marked a “dangerous escalation” of the crisis and urged Moscow to halt the bombing immediately.

August 9th, 2008, 7:33 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

I just heard the sad news from my wife on the phone. I read yesterday that the great poet had a surgery in Houston. What a loss.

Alex

Thank you for the wonderful poem. What an appropriate memorial by the poet himself. I am at loss for word, because i loved his poetry, and admired him tremendously. I never read his poems silently. They are very enjoyable if vocalized.

On a second note
The Syrian team came a head of the US team because the Chinese arranged the team based on the number of strokes in the Chinese character representing the country’s name, as said by the NBC anchors. So I guess Syria has one less Chinese stroke than the US.

I will send you an email in the next few minutes.

August 9th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Shai said:

Alex,

Wait until tomorrow’s results from the Iran-Russia basketball game… talk about the feared effect on oil prices… 😉

On a serious note, did you notice in the Ynet article that Yossi Sarid, while Minister of Education, tried to insert some of Darwish’s poetry into our high-school curriculum in Israel. And guess who blocked it? Yep, Ehud Barak…

August 9th, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

norman said:

Russia is answering the West support for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia.,

August 9th, 2008, 7:52 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Alex,
Before I push the button, is that the contact us address?

August 9th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Off the Wall said:

Norman

Do you think that Georgia would have started the attempt to regain control with out a wink from Washington?, I am curious.

Also since you are interested in education, I am curious to know what do you think about the way we fund our schools here in the US, I personally think it is obscene.

The timing is strange and soon we’ll probably see higher oil prices and people will tell McCain, just come and dig in my backyard,

August 9th, 2008, 8:01 pm

 

Alex said:

OTW

Yes.

I will receive that email… besides whoever else likes to monitor CS emails : )

August 9th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

norman said:

OTW,

I am not sure that the US has anything to do with that , I think Georgia felt that everybody is busy with the Olympics , so they felt that a surprise attack will bring that province under control , they did not expect the massive counter attack by Russia,which i believe meant for Russia to show the West that it will not be pushed around any more especially on it’s border , I think Georgia has no chance now to be in NATO , They do not want to fight Russia for the sake of Georgia,

From what i learned is that the province that they are fighting over was part of Russia until Stalin during the Soviet union era made it part of Georgia and now they want it back

OTW .

I actually like the system of funding schools in the US , between local , state and federal funding , most schools get the same amount per child , I like the fact that if a district want to have more services they can put the plan to vote in the school district ,

What i do not like is that there is no curriculum for the schools from 1 to 12 grades even at the state level , apparently they do that so schools can have lay way in deciding what is needed in the area,
One other thing i do not like is having different level in the same class , I believe that by doing that they are assuming to know who will succeed and who will not , I think they should teach the same curriculum in the same class and finish the books and let the people who want to work hard to shine.

I remember in Syria , we had the same books and had the same test in the last year of high school so there is no discrimination in my eyes to who can succeed and who can not , I like this kind of system more.

OTW ,

I actually trying to think of a system for Syria.

August 9th, 2008, 11:16 pm

 

Majhool said:

Trustquest,

First I have to admit that i enjoyed not only the content of what you wrote to Alex, but also the style and spirit radiating from it.

You have touched on key points ( civil society and rule of law)that had captured my attention ever since I started writing on the internet. Alex and through private discussion is fully aware of my passion when it comes to these issues. you said all so wonderfully:

“but still I think I should keep hammering the system because exposing it is in my view one of the ways to influence it”

And this is exactly what my role is; Alex among all the rest knows very well how positive my previous non-political contributions were( I cannot disclose what it was) . but I believe the two roles focusing on the positives in the regime (Alex) on one hand and exposing and hammering the system (my role)on the other can go hand in hand and both are necessary and healthy. It creates a healthy sense of checks and balances in this forum. And although I agree with you that this is not a corporate meeting where all have to agree on a course of action, I still believe that we can manage some level of intellectual honesty in this forum.

My attempt to reach this medium ground has failed thus far. I approached the “other” side many time saying things such as

“I want to be able to criticize Kilo’s positions, but given the current no-compromise attitude on the other side. It will be ridiculous to do so”

“I really wish that people on both sides in SC leave their trenches and reach out to one another. It will not happen if we continue to add a positive spin on everything whether right and wrong. No one, I mean no one, on the other side criticized Bashar for what he said.”

This brings me to what Alex has said recently, where he touched on what he considered to be extreme opinions (on both sides) and how they are boring, not reliable and often ridiculed.

I am personally bewildered by this assessment, for few reasons

1) To start with, SC analysis and the original posts themselves are more favorable of the regime, and by no means are neutral (at least to me) and actually became very predictable at least by me.
2) On the other hand, criticizing an outrageous statement made by the president is considered an extreme?
3) The real extreme in Syrian politics on the opposite spectrum from the pro-regime are not really represented in the forum, conservative Syrians for example. It’s kind of awkward that a pro-civil society and pro-rule of law contributor such as my self is now considered an extreme in the spectrum of the public opinion in Syria.

I just wanted to share my thoughts with you, I am growing very fond of your take on things. I pride my self of being open minded and being able to change course when necessary.

August 10th, 2008, 12:27 am

 

Off the Wall said:

NORMAN
Thanks for the response. I agree with you but it seems that the Georgians have completely screwed up any chance of getting into NATO and that Russia has finally decided to demonstrate, with brute force that they are tired of being pushed. The problem is as usual, the loss of lives, mostly civilians. It is painful.

Since I do not have children, my knowledge of K-12 educational system in the US is rather superficial. Yet, I am concerned about the disparity of school facilities between affluent and poor areas, especially in areas where there are significant minorities. I am not sure what percentage each of the various funding sources represent for each school district (Federal, State, Local), but It seems to me that the local part is the largest, which allows for such disparities based on the property tax values in affluent areas. I believe that it would be better is these taxes are pooled at state level and redistributed to district on per capita basis. Even if I live in an affluent area, my real interest is for all kids to have good opportunity in public school system. The local decision making, school boards, and PTAs are simply manifestation of democratic society, where democracy at the basic local level is most effective. Yet it produced scenarios in some localities where school boards have managed to force the educational system to give pseudo-science equal weight to that of science and by that do in school what should only be done in churches, temples, or mosques. I reject that totally and find it an abuse of democratic values.

However, and as someone on this forum said, there is always a however, I think that your idea of a unified curriculum is brilliant and as an educator, albeit at university level, i find it not only worthy, but essential. I grew up in a unified curriculum like you did and find that system to be much more effective and efficient. When I was living in another town with a large Mexican American community, a friend of ours came one day crying foul, her high school daughter, a brilliant kid, attended a so-called vocational preparation program, which expose the kids to future professions. She was angry because all the examples were “food service”, hair styling, doctors’ assistant, clerks, and so on. Never these kids had an engineer visitor, a doctor, a lawyer or for that matter any other professional visiting them, and the worst part was that the administrators felt that It was OK to assume that these kids will only have opportunities to land low-end jobs. Of course no society will function without all spectrum of jobs, but give the kids a chance. Again, I digress, and going back to our topic, a unified curriculum will facilitate honest standardized testing. The strongest reason I felt for unified curricula was when I taught freshmen courses. The wide differences between the preparedness level amongst students was staggering. Granted, by the time they are seniors, the university would have equalized these differences, and made the bright hard working shine like suns.

Your project of envisioning an educational system for Syria is commendable. Good luck with it.

August 10th, 2008, 1:02 am

 

Majhool said:

relevant and a must see

http://tayyar.org/Tayyar/Multimedia/Video/VideoPlayer.htm?ID=386571

Takhween=Takfeer

unfortunately Syrians allies in Lebanon are introducing Syrian tactics and ways into the Lebanese parliament.

August 10th, 2008, 1:11 am

 

Enlightened said:

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened

Forget about education and statistics. These are frivolous pursuits. What is really important is the following question:

Are you going to support Australian swimming in the Olympics or Lebanese? Come on, show your true colors. We have two swimmers in the Games: Nibal Yamout and Wael Kobrosli. I am expecting them to bring home two golds.

As you know, the Phoenicians were a maritime people, so we should have swimming excellence encoded in our DNA.

😉
———————————————————–

LOL QN:

My wifes 83 year old aunt asked me the same question last night.

To answer your question(s)

Forget education and statistics as being frivolous ( actually my late father used to drill in to me forget professional sport and focus on education)

But in all seriousness, I would cheer the Lebanese contingent (but primarily because of the phonecian dna), as I would cheer the Syrian as well as the Palestinian and Israeli Teams. You can take the Levant out of the boy, but the boy can never take his heart out of the Levant.

On a side note, The Australian swim team is one of the weakest we have sent over to the games this year and there are a lot of youngsters 16-19 year olds and the team is in a transition phase. One thing I forgot to mention about the education system in Australia is that every child is exposed very rigorously to sporting activity of some sort during the education process and this mandatory, we also have a very good system for identifying and training those that excel in their chosen sporting fields through dedicated academies and sporting schools. For a country of 21 million Australia excels at sport.

——————————————————-

Are are you planning to go back to Lebanon during the summer break?

August 10th, 2008, 1:59 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear MAJHOOL

I would like to think of this site as a place for all of us, where we can have a frank discussion of issues that matter to us, if only by emotional attachment. After all it is our brothers and sisters, their children, and in most cases, our parents who share our Syria more so than we do. I will not take an idealist point of view and say, we are all one side, first because this is non-sense, and second because life would be colorless and less exiting if we all are on one side.

I try to be neutral, and the reason is not becasue of being less opinionated than others, for all I know, i can be arrogant and rather opinionated. But I enjoyed our discussion on means for reform against corruption, which happened just few weeks ago. If i recall right, your blueprints and and Alex’s own were more mutual than exclusive. So there are areas of joint understanding. My concern is with persistence in the notion of exposing. OK, so what after that? I think you know, and I believe that you have demonstrated willingness to engage in that more fundamental and effective discussion than the discussion of whether a statement uttered is a lie, a half truth, or “damn” statistic :). Yet, if you chose to engage in the former discussion, or if you argue that it is more fundamental than a mere word, I will support your right to do so, as well as the right of those opposing your point of view to argue against your point. I may interject, pontificate, and try to look and sound more wise than I truly am. For you can not imagine how much I agree with TQ on our need to break taboos not only in political discussions but also in others as well including religion, social issues, science, and culture. Without breaking taboos, we’ll stay where we are.

At the same time, most people try to be in the middle. It is more comfortable and less confrontational. They will be challenged every once in a while when someone pushes the extreme point for it forces them to think a little harder. I for one, find the news of Dalila’s release enthralling. I would thank the Syrian authorities ( i do not really like the word regime, it is a little too loaded for my taste), for that release and I would feel happy for at least the first step in redressing an injustice has been taken. Now, when you forcefully ask, why would someone like him spend 7 years in jail, you challenged my cozy feeling and forced me to think of the validity of your argument. And I am better for that because a reality check is always useful and welcomed. When Alex asserts that this may be a first step of things to come, and that we should give the Syrian government a chance, I would like to say, excellent, let us hope that more comes sooner, and if there is anything we can help with, please lets us know, but we can not wait for ever. Baby steps are OK with me, as long as they are consistent and not interrupted by giant leaps backward. Alex would argue that if the regime (here you go, i am using that word), feels threatened, those giant leaps backward may become a reality. I think that is true, and whether it is the right thing or not, it is rather logical. So now the question goes back to the example from the Chinese human rights advocate on whether individually, each one of us is willing to take the responsibility for increased anxiety, or the responsibility for encouraging the anticipated direction, which may or may not materialize. It is not an easy choice for every one and it is much more complex than black and white.

But rest assured, I believe those willing to see positive things are no less committed to civil society and to the rule of law than those asking for faster change. These things captured my imagination as much as they did yours and Trustquest’s. We may differ on how to get there, and sometimes we may differ on the reasons for their anemic conditions not only in Syria, but in most of the Arab world, but i think that we all share a vision of a civil society where the rule of law is not only sacred but a way of life.

August 10th, 2008, 2:02 am

 

norman said:

OTW ,

In New Jersey there is a law which does what you wanted and each school in New Jersey will get almost the same amount per child , actually the poor area districts get more per child , The problem there as i see is the lack of parents who can help their children either because of lack of education or lack of time because of working more than one job to make ends meet , That can be corrected with after school programs where children finish their homework at school and can go home ready to have fun and enjoy their family .

By the way i can not influence the education system in Syria but i thought it might be worth while to discuss real problems in Syria and hopefully have some kind of agreement that can be a road map for Syria.

Other things which are related include illiteracy , infant mortality ,health care screening , there are many things that can be improved.

I agree with What you said about the lack of opportunity for poor children because of poor expectation by the schools , That should be corrected .

I think you mentioned something about evolution and intelligence design as they call in religious circles , I personally do not think that there is a contradiction , GOD created the world in six days but they are not 24 hours days and if you look at the sequence of the creation , I believe will match the evolution sequence .So everybody should be happy, If you believe in GOD then GOD directed it and if you do not then it happened by itself.

August 10th, 2008, 2:09 am

 

Zenobia said:

Unfortunately, the creationist and the scientific time frame of the age of the world and of humanity do not match up.

I was watching some stand up of Bill Maher, who like to make fun of the religious right a lot, where he was talking about a creationist museum he stopped at in the south usa. He described how they had these life size model dinosaurs with saddles on them. I guess this was to show that man was ridding the dinosaurs?

August 10th, 2008, 2:24 am

 

norman said:

OTW,

I agree with you , We all want change in Syria but not at the price of safety for the Syrian people ,

Children crawl before they walk.

August 10th, 2008, 2:26 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear Norman
Again thanks for the response. I agree with most of it. You probably guessed where I do not.

Whether there is a contradiction between evolution and intelligent design, resolving such contradiction is not an issue to be done in science class as you risk mixing belief with hard science. It is not in the interest of either to do so. Your honest answer is exactly the argument I would use against teaching intelligent design alongside evolution for it violates the basic principles of science and it is not a theory. Because in science, a theory is not proven, it fallacy is rejected. And intelligent design is not falsifiable, which puts it outside the realm of scientific theories. As argued by Sir Karl Popper
after discussing the 7 characteristics of scientific theories

One can sum up all this by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or rfutability, or testability (1)

Once faith enters the picture there is no way of testing, refuting, or falsifying a hypothesis, and as such intelligent design does not qualify for scientific theory. Its place is not in science class. (Majhool, here you go, I am very opinionated on this one :))

(1) Popper, Karl (Sir), Science: Conjectures and Refutations. in Introductory Readings in the Philosophy of Science, Ed. E.D. Kelemke, R. Hollinger, D. W. Rudge, and A. D. Kline, 3d Edition, Prometheus Books. 1998.

August 10th, 2008, 2:30 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened,

I’ll be in Lebanon for several months, beginning in September. You should visit.

😉

August 10th, 2008, 2:32 am

 

Majhool said:

Dear OTW,

Your words have brought joy to my day. I salute your objectivity and intellectual honesty; you have raised the bar for the rest of us.

I stand in support for most of what you said. But there are some technical difficulties that I want to share with you

• Original posts are part of the problem. The selection of content, wording, and even authors is carefully made to present ONE point of view. From one-side Economic news, to lack of Opposition perspective, to selection of mostly regime supporters or soft critiques to write there. All this challenge my neutrality and push me into attempts to achieve balance. Maybe this is something for Joshua to consider. Because this imbalance results in much energy on my part and others being spent to achieve balance especially for foreign readership.
• Correcting this imbalance is usually faced with orchestrated and relentless ridicule from few individuals (the defenders) that go unchallenged unless I scream “help” this needs to stop. Alex has been forthcoming in correcting this. Thank you Alex

I think addressing these issues will help this forum be a better one. Any thoughts?

August 10th, 2008, 2:45 am

 

Enlightened said:

Ya raht!

Sue is due in November, but we are planning a trip in summer 2010, taking in Syria (to visit her cousins there) and possibly Turkey as well. Hopefully if there is a peace i might do a three day trip and visit Shai as well.

The finances do not allow a trip this year, as we have spent up plenty on a investment.

Enjoy your trip and keep us posted on what is happening on the ground, my cousin just came back after spending two years there, and wasting a lot of money- he didn’t paint a rosy picture economically or socially!

August 10th, 2008, 2:46 am

 

norman said:

Zenobia, ( My friend ),if i may say that,

I am a doctor ( scientist ) and I believe in GOD and I believe in evolution , would i fight and argue if somebody does not agree with me , NO, NO , God can defend himself , there are a lot more important things in life than argue something nobody can prove or disprove .

I am an oncologist and i can have two patients with same disease and stage , i would give both the same treatment , one will live more than two years while the other will die within three month ,

GOD must have something to do with this , at least i believe so.

August 10th, 2008, 2:47 am

 

norman said:

OTW ,

I do not think you went to school in Syria , In Syria we studied religion at school Christians study Christianity and Muslims study Islam , we learned creatism there then we we went to science class and learned evolution, in the tests we answered according to subject , in science we believed in evolution and in religion we believed in creatism , everybody was happy and we had good grades in both.

August 10th, 2008, 2:55 am

 

Off the Wall said:

NORMAN

First, I was very tempted to ask you if you are an oncologist after seeing the (business) conversation between you and Alex, I thought you must be an Oncologist for Alex to be that scared of giving you his business.

I did go to school in Syria and I attended the Islamic religion classes and exactly as you experienced aced both Religion and Biology in the final HS exam. And this is precisely my Idea. These religion classes are the place for discussing creationism, its intellectual ground, and its ramification on spiritual matters. I am all for that. And I can see and respect that the two can be reconciled at personal level and your experience with your patients is an excellent way of describing how faith works. My argument was that creationism is based on faith, and as a scientist hailing from a field that has in fact pushed all other sciences including the notorious hypothesis testing tools, you know that faith can not be tested with the same tools. Let us leave science classes for scientific methods, for we need a generation well equipped with those methods to survive the competition, and let us discuss issues of faith in their proper place where their spiritual value is best realized. I try to use the Jesuit’s approach to base such recommendation on.

August 10th, 2008, 3:43 am

 

norman said:

OTW,
You are a smart person , I agree , faith is not science and can be proven the same way.

August 10th, 2008, 3:57 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Dear MAJHOOL

I wish you are next to me to share with me a glass of California Wine and to toast SC and all of its community (Merlot).

Thank you for the very kind words. I have noticed the validity of your technical concerns. But the way I approach it is from a slightly different perspective, and I would like to ask your opinion on that.

This site has an owner. While it is a site enjoyed by the community, and for many of us has become a necessary daily pilgrimage, the owner and operators (i.e., Moderators) do have the right to set its editorial policies, and we should expect that the original posts, which I would call (seed articles) would reflect their point of view and their way of seeing things.

Yet, being a forum, I must say that it has been one of the most free forums i have seen, especially on contentious issues such as those we discuss here. How to address the deficiency you described. There are several ways, and I think we all are doing a pretty good job addressing that by letting our conversations branch into details, go on tangential areas, and carry on with the discourse without limitations except when the site rules are being violated. A second way is to ask for volunteers to write the seed article every once in a while, but I think we have a site like that in CreativeSyria, although the frequency of seed topics ideas is a little slow. For now we can ask Alex, Qifa, and most importantly Joshua to consider that, but whatever their decision, I am willing to accept. Again, it is an ownership issue.

In the past few weeks, and especially on Saturdays (Sabbath for our Friend Shai), I have been probably acting as a self appointed “must respond to everything” guy :). This has allowed me to recognize how hard it is to moderate a site like this. The posts are nothing like the standard one liners smart-ass posts common on many other sites. And even if Alex or Qifa do not read or scan the entire posts the way a censorship guy does, it does take time and efforts.

I do not want to go OPRAH or Dr. Phil on you here, but Ridicule is a standard response, we do that when we are angry and when we feel that our point is not receiving the attention it deserves. I can tell you my response, a little dose of self deprecation is a healthy way to calm down, and most importantly, to disarm your tormentors.

I am as eager as always to hear your point of view on this

August 10th, 2008, 4:10 am

 

Shai said:

Enlightened,

Peace or no peace, you invited in my home 24/7/365! It would be my greatest honor and pleasure to host you and show you around.

OTW,

Since I see there’s yet another thing we seem to think alike on (Philosophy), have you read the book “Proofs and Refutations” by Imre Lakatos? If not, it’s a must! He’s a Hungarian Jew who writes as if talking to his students in class. Very enjoyable, and of course supports the notion of advance in (anything really) by continuos searching for refutations, rather than reinforcements.

We should be aware, though, of the fact that this against human nature. Most are always looking for reinforcements to their hypotheses, not understanding that such a thing is not possible. As a mathematician, this is one of the reasons I never liked Statistics… 🙂 It gives people a wrong sense of comfort… rather than cause them to search for refutations.

August 10th, 2008, 4:30 am

 

Off the Wall said:

Alex Habibi and Habib aljamaheer (alghafoura)

Did you receive my email?

August 10th, 2008, 4:55 am

 

Majhool said:

DEAR OTW,

Thank you, I opened up a vintage merlot bottlt (1994) in appreciation to your gesture.

I respect the ownership, but let me remind you that much of the creditability of SC relies on the freedom of the forum. Imagine if much of the forum discussions were about how great the original posts (seeds) and were like: ” super”, “another good deed by Bashar” “ oh how great it is to be Syrian” “Syria’s education is great” etc…it would be a great loss to SC and its creditability.

I agree with your suggestions, I preferred Creative Syria because it allowed different views to be represented. Great critics such as my friend Abu Kareem used to write there as well, I think the current structure of SC frustrated and pushed away people like him.

From my own experience in publishing on the internet, I found out that the best way to spark a healthy discussion was to compare and contrast opposing viewpoints. Commentators did not feel the urge to ridicule anything and instead engaged in discussions right from the center.

August 10th, 2008, 5:04 am

 

Off the Wall said:

SHAI

What a delight

Thanks for the book hint. I will head to nearest Boarders book tomorrow and get it. I love the class lecture writing style and I will read the book.

The search for refutation is the core of scientific methods. So many papers I read in respectable journals reek of search for confirmation and the authors somehow go in lengthy, and sometimes tortured arguments to show that 0.4 correlation coefficient is good enough. I have returned quite few papers in review asking for the CI around the correlation coefficient as the minimal test not just the CI about model estimates.

The fact that search for refutation is against human nature is probably why it is avoided. Some of our Center’s incoming Ph.D students look puzzled when I meet with them the first time and tell them that their job is not to prove their method, but failing to reject it with the most rigorous tests they can imagine, would indicate its probable validity, for now. I find it disheartening that a course on the philosophy of science is not mandatory for every graduate student. They are taught advanced mathematics and advanced statistics, and trained to use these tools in search of proof. But it is rather common, especially in engineering graduate programs where the focus is on application and on design. I think such a course would make adequate experimental design a second nature to these young scientists. The problem gets harder for earth sciences (my field) where the system is so complex that it is not observable or quantifiable at the process scale. We turn to regression, as well as to conceptual models. And in that case, I believe that ANN is as good as any model, because the search for proof of (match) is done a little more objectively and without interference from someone looking for the proof.

So you are a mathematician.

August 10th, 2008, 5:20 am

 

Zenobia said:

Norman,

god and evolution, ok. But creationism is still problematic. there is science to show how long the earth took to be “created”…evolved, and that goes for human kind too. Maybe god created evolution, i don’t know. but the stories of the old testament should not be taken literally.
I have this uncle that once was telling me about Abraham etc., and he says something about him living 900 years. I look blankly. Then my uncle in perfect seriousness tells me that people lived a long time back then. (!)

I mean faith is something that has nothing to do with science. but it is a subjective characteristic of human thought and feeling, even love. Is it reducible to a brain function? No, although a feeling can be represented in brain scan by some activity we can monitor. Weird huh.
Does that mean a feeling or a belief IS the thing on the scan? Of course it is not.

Religion to me- is the world of emotional life of human beings, perhaps in relation with some higher being or perhaps only to our imagination of a higher being.
But even if I believed this being to be ‘real’ and exist outside of my thought of him/her, I would not explain events and the concrete earth by attributing it to the being.
At least not in the way my uncle did. Human beings never lived 900 hundred years. Ever. I think this is a scientific fact that cannot coexist with a belief in a story, as in a document of facts. Stories can have ‘truth’ that is not about literal interpretations that simply contradict completely scientific possibilities.

Why is it possible for the two seemingly identical patients not to survive the same amount of time?
We simply do not know. We cannot account for every single variable of life. This doesn’t mean a supra being intervened.
One thing that has been documented is that emotions of patients, their optimism or lack of, their depression or lack of it, actually impacts their survival.
How is this explained? We have theories. Emotions affect stress hormones that affect the immune system. We already know that, but not at all completely.

How is it that a husband and wife who have been married for forty or fifty years and are so entirely bonded with each other will often die with six months to two years of each other?

What about the stories of placing one stable infant inside the incubator of another infant whose life is failing and finding that the failing infant starts to revive as its heart beat comes into tune with the healthy baby.
What is this phenomenon? Do we know how this happens?

There is some scientific explanation, but we may not be able to discern it within our current understanding of human functioning. But this doesn’t mean god’s hand is in it.

If it did involve god, I would certainly wonder: why is god so arbitrary?

August 10th, 2008, 5:21 am

 

norman said:

OTW ,

you are a university professor aren’t you , and have been in the US for a long time , i think i can tell from the way you approach things.

August 10th, 2008, 5:32 am

 

Off the Wall said:

MAJHOOL
Cheers, and thanks for the kind response.

From my own experience in publishing on the internet, I found out that the best way to spark a healthy discussion was to compare and contrast opposing viewpoints. Commentators did not feel the urge to ridicule anything and instead engaged in discussions right from the center.

You hit it right on. Fully agree. It sounds like an excellent start. And I see where I overlooked a key point in your concern, which is the efficiency where we can jump right into debating ideas. Is that doable?

August 10th, 2008, 5:34 am

 

Off the Wall said:

NORMAN

Right on, Keen and smart, I am Adjunct Professor, not on tenure track, 1/3 teaching and 2/3 research. Gives me more flexibility,and puts a lot of pressure in the area of proposal writing as I have to come up with a sizable portion of my salary. But I love and enjoy teaching.

Yes I have been here since 1985. Long time isn’t it. I guess you also have been here for a while, no?

BTW, why do they call you with such an affectionate prefix Ammo, i get a little jealous 🙂

August 10th, 2008, 5:40 am

 

norman said:

OTW ,

I have been here since 1980 , i got off the plane at JFK July 25th,

I studied English at university of Miami in Florida actually that is for you Shai , My room made was Jewish and he was an electrical engineer doing master in biomedical engineering ,

I was going to tell you that they call me Ammo because I am their rich uncle , the truth is probably because they know my age .

August 10th, 2008, 6:00 am

 

norman said:

Zenobia,

I still believe in GOD , and that brings comfort to me , You know i rarely and actually only few time in my life that i went to church , I do not think that i need to go to church to be a believer , I grew up in a place where there was no churches.

August 10th, 2008, 6:04 am

 

Shai said:

OTW,

I studied Mathematics and also History, but today I’m more of a businessman… Most of my work is on the internet. I think if I was living in the States, there’s a very good chance I’d be in academia, as the salaries are quite reasonable (relatively speaking, to Israel). But here, as is the case in many countries, it’s just not serious enough to enable one to save money for a reasonable retirement. So I had to make a decision early on, and I chose the business world… I miss the academic world very much, but at least I keep reading, and maintain a good circle of friends who are still in academia. Maybe one day I’ll go back, in’shalla.

Norman,

Some of my best Arab friends were made in college, in the mid-80’s. These were some of the best years of my life. Learned more than I ever could, had I stayed my whole life in Israel. Perhaps we’ll do something similar with our girls. If at all possible, I think studying or growing up part of the time abroad is a life-shaping experience.

August 10th, 2008, 6:44 am

 

Zenobia said:

Shai, so are you the guy making the electric cars?

: )

August 10th, 2008, 7:32 am

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

Ah… that be nope. I’m not that smart. But I am younger, and better looking, than that Shai Agassi guy. But I am jealous of him. At the age of 34, he was already a President in SAP AG – a small software company… 🙂 And an owner of a few very successful startups.

August 10th, 2008, 8:17 am

 

Zenobia said:

better looking!
i just checked out a video of him that was on his blog, and he is pretty handsome.
you must be stunning…. : )

i don’t think you are younger either. ok, one year… ! that’s not much to go on.

well, i was going to be shocked if you said yes. You should be jealous! That guy isn’t probably worried about his retirement now.

but i thought it was funny, cause you are almost the exact same age, and both work in tech, and he was giving testimony in the US at around the time – you were on “vacation” in the US…. so… i don’t know…it all fit together. Except … not.
: )

August 10th, 2008, 8:28 am

 

Shai said:

Zenobia,

I’m sorry… it almost fit… 🙂

August 10th, 2008, 10:20 am

 

trustquest said:

Majhool, thanks for the kind words,
You said: “but I should keep hammering the system because exposing it is in my view one of the way to influence it.”
Of course, you should be, my goodness all sincere people duty is to do that. There is no question that the system failed big time and this by the admition of the regime itself and by its leaders, otherwise why this new direction in open market and all this talk about change. The deference I think, it is about how far to push and when, ask Ehsani for that.

Looking on the positive aspects of the regime from some on this blog is in a way like the cheering fans encouraging their athlete to do more. But also being a coach to a boxer telling him where to hit is also a positive role. In real world, smart corporate leader hired people to criticize their product to get the best results. My theory is all works, things will advance by the influence of all these types.
And I second OTW that this forum belongs to its owner and up to him to put the rule and make changes.

Asking both sides to leave their trenches is something I don’t think it is beneficial, because it is part of the System which we are trying to get rid of. Understanding that if we set on the edges of the trench and discuss mater in civilized way and also keep our difference is much better way we should dream of.

All these positive spins are kind of light humor, what positive spin you can put on dictatorship who witnessed the same similar neighboring castle crumbled down and now struggling to keep up standing, should notion at least it should put a little smile on your face. On the next page for example, Norman said to Georgians recent fighting: “They are fools either way. you can not fight a supper power , Iraq proved that and they should have learned. “ Which I completely agree with.
The lasted article by Ysin Elhaj, who spend time in prison, talking about oppression and the West, http://www.alsafahat.net/blog/?p=3640
is worth reading regarding this matter.

My hope is to see the time when we do not have to use alias names and can speak openly about issues without fearing the System.
Small note: I did distinguish I hope, between the System and the regime. Now when to use authority instead of regime, this is something Am not good at it yet.
Your observation about SC makes sense. Look the last two posts, how many comments relate to the subject which contentious and what comments not related.
So, go figure, you are on the money my dear ), cheers.

August 10th, 2008, 4:37 pm

 

Majhool said:

Thank you TQ for the link to Yasin’s article.

For those who don’t know the story behind this great intelectual

ياسين الحاج صالح- كاتب: اسمي ياسين الحاج صالح كاتب، مواليد 1961، دخلت على السجن سنة 1980 كان عمري 19 سنة، قضيت عشر سنين وشوي بسجن المسلمية بحلب، بعدين أربع سنين بعدرا جنب دمشق وبالـ 1993 حاكمتني محكمة أمن الدولة 15 سنة، بعد ما خلصت أرسلوني على تدمر قضيت سنة إضافية.. يعني كملت 16 سنة وطلعت بآخر سنة 1999.

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/6CC58BFC-091F-4E91-86F5-C8D87C1FD923.htm

August 10th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

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