Asma Al-Asad: “Excuse me! I do not have “good relations” with Christians”

Asma al-Assad receives Italian Presidential Gold Medal

Asma al-Assad receives Italian Presidential Gold Medal

Wife of Syrian President Discusses Role in Syria
2008-10-20, BBC MidEast
Excerpt from report by Italian leading privately-owned centre- left newspaper La Repubblica, on 18 October.[Interview with Asma al-Asad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, by Alix Van Buren in Damascus; date not given: “‘I, the First Lady, Will Help Syria To Take On a New Appearance'” – first three paragraphs are La Repubblica introduction]

Damascus – One knew that Asma al-Asad, Syria’s first lady [previous two words in English in original], has a reputation as a modern woman, with a taste for going against the trend. And she did not fail to live up to her character, in turning up at the wheel of her metallic gray SUV: she plugged in her iPod, put the car in gear, and announced: “Let’s go into town, without a bodyguard. Nobody will notice.” On the back seat her young assistant, Leyla, smiled indulgently.

Al-Aqilatu[?] al-Rais, that is what the Syrians simply call her: the wife of the President. In the view of the Israeli daily, Haaretz, she is “the first lady who outshone Carla Bruni,” when she appeared this summer in Paris, alongside her husband, President Bashar al- Asad, marking Syria’s return after years of international isolation. In the view of Paris Match, she “conjures up the image of an eastern Lady Diana.” And a prestigious Jewish newspaper in New York, The Forward, ran the headline: “What Michelle Obama can learn from Asma al-Asad: a woman with a strong personality, in one of the toughest regions in the world.” These are surprising compliments, given the marked contrast with the gray image projected by Syria in the 40- year old Ba’athist Socialist regime, which has arrived at the difficult transition which the country is embarking upon. Despite the signs of an open approach on the part of Europe, Damascus remains on the US list of nations which support terrorism: chiefly Hamas and Hezbollah. [passage omitted: Asma al-Asad’s background]

It is perhaps no coincidence that the Syrian first lady has been in Italy since yesterday [as published: the interview apparently took place prior to her trip to Italy], a guest of the Pio Manzu International Study Days, where she is to receive a gold medal from Italy’s President [Napolitano] “for her role as an extraordinary ambassador of change, and of commitment to ensuring that economic growth in Syria is translated into benefits for the whole population.”

[Van Buren] Mrs Al-Asad, doesn’t that seem too ambitious a commitment?

 

 

[Asma al-Asad] What counts is asking ourselves where we are, and what route to embark upon. And two factors have an impact here: first, domestic conditions, and I refer to how far ordinary people are involved in the reform process, because the mental stance also has an influence on the timescale of implementation. The second factor relates to external circumstances: we live in a region which has not yet known peace. And this is an uncontrollable, ungovernable element which dictates our pace.

[Van Buren] How much of a part do you play in influencing the decision-making process?

[Asma al-Asad] One thing should be clear: the President is the President. That said, at home we are a team, composed of a husband and wife. Exchanging ideas is natural, in fact it’s healthy. My contribution comes from the experience which I have built up, from the initiatives which I support. I bring information gathered on the ground, in my direct contact with the people.

[Van Buren] It has been said that on your return to Syria you travelled the country incognito. Why?

[Asma al-Asad] I did that to establish a relationship on the ground with the people, founded on communication, which means rolling up one’s sleeves and trying to get something done together. For too long development projects have been drawn up at conferences or in offices which are distant from actual reality. And for too long the government has taken the responsibility for leading development, reform, and modernization. There is no reason for this: the private sector has an important role, as does society at large. And people get excited. They make criticisms. They offer suggestions. There is so much to do: every excluded individual is a waste of resources.

[Van Buren] This is a very different picture from the image of a Syria which is so impenetrable that, according to the Israeli press, the military intelligence services of that country have introduced a virus in the electronic mail, so as to monitor your correspondence with the President, who is judged to be a “mysterious” person. How did things really go?

[Asma al-Asad] My computer was penetrated, I found out from the press. But I am not losing my composure. It happened, period. In any event, I do not communicate with my husband via emails. I prefer the direct approach, and pardon me if I smile.

[Van Buren] The fact remains that the President is described in Washington as a dictator, the head of a state which promotes terrorism. What is your answer?

[Asma al-Asad] This: that I see a contradiction in what you say. What is the explanation for the fact that on the one hand we lead the life of an ordinary couple, who go out to dinner and to the theatre with friends, and to the playground with our children, who live in an apartment in a normal city district, with our children playing in the street with our neighbours’ children, while, on the other hand, the President is allegedly a tyrant, and distant from the people. The two
things cannot exist side by side. As for the President being “mysterious,” it is enough to observe, and to listen: our positions are clear, explicit, and consistent. Perhaps this very fact does not help us.

[Van Buren] And what is the President like in private?

[Asma al-Asad] He is a father who is present, and attentive. If you want to know what attracted me to him, I will tell you about his optimism, his open-mindedness, his readiness to explore every possibility. These are necessary skills for anyone, and all the more so at this historic time, which is full of obstacles. But I married him for what he is, not as the President.

[Van Buren] You are a Muslim, brought up in the Church of England, a Christian school, and here in Damascus you frequent the convent of the Salesian nuns. Have you retained good relations with Christians?

[Asma al-Asad] You must excuse me if I correct you: I do not have “good relations” with Christians, just as I cannot have “good relations” with myself, with my legs and my arms. We Syrians are a single body. Our history did not start yesterday: it is a history that is thousands of years old; St Paul and the Ummayad mosque are part of who I am as a human being. In Europe there is talk of coexistence, and that is a good thing. But that is why, in Britain for example,
Indians, Britons, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims are not part of the historical legacy, the roots of the country. Here we are one enlarged family.

[Van Buren] Mrs Al-Asad, you have lived in Europe, a long way away from wars. Does this give you a different perspective?

[Asma al-Asad] The culture of peace which exists in Europe does not exist in the Middle East. I have been fortunate. I hope that this generation can know the same peace which I lived in when I was growing up in England. If we are to allow our potential to thrive, as a region, then we deserve that same right.

Originally published by La Repubblica, Rome, in Italian 18 Oct 08 pp.
1, 46.

Sent by Ray Close:

This message was sent to me today by a Jewish lady friend whom I admire very much.   See what she says about the “Muslim issue” in these comments about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barak Obama:

Friends: 

If you missed Powell on Meet the Press today, it’s worth a listen. Powell concludes, with eloquence and gravitas, that Obama is a transformational figure; his comments about the McCain campaign (including the robocalls, which for the moment haven’t received nearly the coverage they deserve) were withering.  If you missed Powell on Meet the Press today, it’s worth a listen. Powell concludes, with eloquence and gravitas, that Obama is a transformational figure; his comments about the McCain campaign (including the robocalls, which for the moment haven’t received nearly the coverage they deserve) were withering.  

But my favorite part (aside from the endorsement itself) was Powell’s discussion of the “Obama as a Muslim issue.” Obama, he said, is of course a Christian but, he added (unlike everyone else), what if he
were a Muslim? So what?  He then elaborated with a moving anecdote of a Muslim American mother mourning her son, killed in Iraq, at Arlington National Cemetery.  You can’t read it without choking up.

This is a position that the Obama campaign has felt unable to take (unfortunately), for the obvious reasons. To have someone of Powell’s stature (mainstream to the core) stand up and say this is most welcome. It’s time already to rewrite the hate script of the past seven years. Powell didn’t have to include that in his statement today, but he did

And I give him a lot of credit for using this occasion (in front of a huge national audience) to have his say. Let us not forget how many hundreds of Muslims John Ashcroft rounded up and jailed (with no justification) after 9/11. Muslims became just the latest in the right-wing arsenal of “hate” issues, part of the mother of all of today’s many “hate” issues that have poisoned our nation.  

Hear the statement from Powell by clicking on this URL.  It’s a short statement, but well worth listening to, especially the anecdote about the American Muslim soldier who died in the war.

A nothing government
By Gideon Levy, 19/10/2008, Haaretz

Tzipi Livni will be prime minister, Ehud Barak will be probably the most senior deputy and potential opposition head, and Israel will gain another nothing government….. Rivals Livni and Barak will act with the utmost vigor to prevent the tiniest bit of achievement from coloring the other’s name. If Barak wants to make peace with Syria, Livni will block him. If Livni seeks peace with the Palestinians, count on the defense minister to undermine her efforts.

Thus far in the coalition negotiations, they have only talked about who would conduct the talks with Syria, not their content – proving how little remains of the first Barak, the prime minister who appeared more daring than all of his predecessors.

The media will cite the confidants, who squabble over every semblance of an achievement, and bad blood will flow between the two bureaus, threatening to engulf us all. Livni and Barak will make us miss Olmert’s government, not to mention previous odd couples Rabin-Peres in Rabin’s first government and Shamir-Peres in the second national unity government. ….All they both want is to gather strength for the elections in two years. This is their purpose in setting up the government, and since it’s a zero-sum game, it will come at each other’s expense and at the expense of us all. …Together, these two will lead us to the brink of an abyss. …

Syrian Opposition Leader Flees Lebanon after Uncovering Assassination Plot
By Talhah Jibril, 19/10/2008, as-Sharq al-Awsat

Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat- Mamun al-Homsi, a leading figure in the Syrian opposition group known as the “Damascus Spring,” has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat the shocking reasons behind why he fled Beirut for the United States……

Iran, Hezbollah Order Agents Out Of Syria
By David Bedein, 10/20/2008

Jerusalem – The Middle East Newsline has confirmed that Iran and Hezbollah, amid a spate of assassinations, have ordered their agents to leave Syria.

Iran and Hezbollah have warned their representatives that they could become targets in Syria.

Over the last month, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sustained at least three major attacks in Damascus, including a car bombing outside the offices of Syrian intelligence as well as a shootout with Palestinian gunmen at a Palestinian refugee camp.

The Iranian intelligence community has recommended that senior officials stop visiting Syria. They said the warning was issued in August in wake of the assassination of Mr. Assad’s military adviser, Maj. Gen. Muhammad Suleiman.

The Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot said Maj. Gen. Suleiman secretly visited Paris in August and disclosed Hezbollah plans to abduct Israeli executives in Thailand and a Gulf Cooperation Council state. Several weeks later, he was assassinated.

Hezbollah also banned its representatives from visiting Syria. It assessed that its members could meet a fate similar to that of its late operational chief Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in a car bombing in Damascus in February.

Hamas has not yet ordered its members out of Syria. Hamas leaders have reinforced security for its headquarters and leadership in wake of the assassination of the aide to Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in September.

David Bedein can be reached at bedein@thebulletin.us. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com

Comments (46)


1. Jad said:

What a respected and great face for Syrian women is the first lady.
It makes you feel good.

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October 20th, 2008, 11:09 pm

 

2. Frank al Irlandi said:

You can of course sign up to the first lady’s fan club on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Asma-al-Assad/27123810587?ref=mf

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October 21st, 2008, 8:04 am

 

3. Alia said:

A statement full of contradictions. … The “domestic” conditions in Syria are abominable; the foreign politic is not in the least unpredictable. Abuse of power by the family of the President and nepotism are rampant in the country. Torture, human rights violations, unimaginable poverty, dire health indicators, failure of every single educational system are destroying what is left of the country after 40 years of a merciless dictatorship …….

….She has surrounded herself with a group of “advisers” who cajole her into believing that she is doing something positive for the nation. …

[some parts edited]

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October 21st, 2008, 10:17 am

 

4. Akbar Palace said:

Sent by Ray Close:

This message was sent to me today by a Jewish lady friend whom I admire very much. See what she says about the “Muslim issue” in these comments about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barak Obama:

It’s time already to rewrite the hate script of the past seven years.

Please tell Ray Close and his lady friend that there is no greater “hate script” than the one promoted by the Arab government controlled media, clergy, and their terrorist patrons.

http://www.memri.org/

Let us not forget how many hundreds of Muslims John Ashcroft rounded up and jailed (with no justification) after 9/11.

Dear Ray Close friend,

What about the hundreds of Muslims John Ashcroft rounded up, brought to trial, and convicted of terrorism against the United States? Does that register in your world view at all? (Not to mention the 9-11 terrorists).

The terrorist apologists are working overtime I see…

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October 21st, 2008, 10:45 am

 

5. Shai said:

John Ashcroft… another Bush administration genius. Isn’t he the Republican senator that lost to a dead man? 🙂 http://edition.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/07/senate.missouri/

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October 21st, 2008, 10:51 am

 

6. Shai said:

John Ashcroft… another Bush administration genius. Isn’t he the Republican senator that lost to a dead man in Missouri? 🙂
http://edition.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/07/senate.missouri/

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October 21st, 2008, 10:56 am

 

7. why-discuss said:

AP

Please tell Ray Close and his lady friend that there is no greater “hate script” than the one promoted by the Arab government controlled media, clergy, and their terrorist patrons….
and the Israeli government supporting religious terrorists settlers, sending its army to eradicate complete villages and threatening for more and denying expelled palestinians from their ancesters land of a decent life for 60 years etc.. etc.. Israel is the best hate scriptwriter of the last 60 years.

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October 21st, 2008, 12:54 pm

 

8. Leila Abu-Saba said:

You know, I just came back from Syria and I have been saying the nicest things about the country, its people, and my experience there. I’m planning to post even more nice things on my blog in the next week or two.

HOWEVER, Asma al-As3ad, if you are listening… you say that you and your family can travel the streets and live as normal people, so that proves your husband’s government is not a dictatorship… and your fan in comments above suggests we sign up for your Facebook page.

And yet this month when I was making arrangements to visit Syria, I found that the Syrian government had blocked Facebook all of a sudden, rendering communications difficult. A society in which normal communications such as Facebook can suddenly be blocked is not free, open and liberal.

A polite comment from someone who is not anti-Syria.

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October 21st, 2008, 1:25 pm

 

9. a said:

Washington Watch
October 20, 2008

A Disturbing Episode

Dr. James J. Zogby (c)

President

Arab American Institute

It was a brief episode in what has been a long and grueling campaign, but it spoke volumes about an issue that has been percolating since this election began.

On October 10th, in Lakeview Minneapolis, at a rather raucous town meeting hosted by Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, one of his supporters, an older woman named Gayle Quinnell, was given the microphone to speak. Haltingly, she said, “I don’t trust Obama. I’ve read about him, and he’s an Arab.” McCain, clearly uncomfortable with the situation, grabbed the microphone from her and said, “No, ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is about. He’s not. Thank you.” It was an unsettling moment, for several reasons.

For almost two years now, emails and pamphlets have been widely circulated, saying not just that Barack Obama is a Muslim but, more ominously, charging that he is a “secret Muslim” and a “Manchurian candidate” planted in our midst to disrupt out democracy. As bizarre as it all sounds, questions have been raised about Obama’s place of birth, his beliefs, his associations, all suggesting that we don’t know who he is, what he stands for, or what he will do to America. These fantastic charges were echoed on talk radio and fueled by extremist preachers. As a result, they acquired some currency.

In ways both subtle and not so subtle, Obama’s opponents, first in the Democratic primary, and now even more harshly in the general election, have fed this slanderous effort. In the beginning, it was “He’s not like us,” or “We don’t know who he is,” or “He doesn’t believe in the same America the rest of us believe in.” By now, it’s become “He’s a liar”, “He pals around with terrorists”, or, as Rush Limbaugh continues to say, “He’s really an Arab.”

As late as this week, the Virginia Republican Party sent out a mass mailing featuring a cropped photo of Obama’s eyes, with the logo: “America must look evil in the eye and never flinch”; while North Carolina’s Republican Party made automated phone calls to people’s home linking the Democrat to terrorists. And a prominent Washington-based conservative newspaper featured an article with the headline “The Jihadist Vote”, making allegations about “Islamists seeking to destroy Western civilization from within” utilizing the Obama campaign as their vehicle.

Repeated often enough, even fantasies can find fertile ground amidst economic insecurity and “fear of the other” (a nicer way of describing racism and Islamophobia) and be believed. This is what found expression in the words of Gayle Quinnell.

Now, as unsettling as this was, I was also troubled by Senator McCain’s response. While he was, at first, widely credited by the mainstream media for defending his opponent, I found disturbing the implication conveyed by his awkward reply, that being an “Arab” and a “decent family man” were somehow mutually exclusive categories. And so my office issued a rebuke, and I posted a piece on Huffington Post, one of the U.S.’s most prominent blog sites, entitled “John McCain: I am an Arab and a Decent Man.” In it, I wrote: “Enough is enough! …while we are pleased to see that [McCain] is trying to dispel rumors about Senator Obama, we feel the need to point out that Arab Americans are also decent men and women with full rights and citizenship as enumerated under the Constitution. Arab Americans are part of the great melting pot that is this country’s strength. We raise our sons and daughters to be model citizens of this nation. We serve this country with honor. The suggestion that any ethnic group is treacherous and anti-American is unacceptable, dangerous, and unbecoming.”

The response I received was overwhelming and extraordinarily positive. Hundreds and hundreds wrote comments and/or emails, among them were these statements:

“These kinds of comments defame not only Arab American, or African Americans, but every American.”

“We are all Arab Americans. Since Friday, I have become one.”

“As an American of Japanese ancestry, I know full well the impact of hysterical mob mentality.”

“That hurt me as an American.”

Equally noteworthy was the slow but steady response by media commentators on CNN and MSNBC, as well as a delightful sketch on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” with John Stewart – all of which chided Senator McCain for failing to recognize that “Arab” should not be used as mud to sling at an opponent. The collective response was heartening, and reinforced my belief in the fundamental goodness of my fellow citizens.

This election has been long, and it has been difficult. It has exposed raw nerves at the core of the American psyche: race, and fear of Arabs and Muslims (long a problem, but exacerbated by the horrific terror of 9-11) are problems we must now address. As long as they remain unaddressed, they can be the fodder of incitement, used to prey off of fear and insecurity. No doubt, a dangerous situation. But there is a lesson to be learned from the Gayle Quinnell and McCain episode, and that is: If left unchecked, the hatred will grow, but when challenged, it can be defeated.

Washington Watch is a weekly column written by AAI President James Zogby. The views expressed within this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Arab American Institute.
We invite you to share your views on the topics addressed within Dr. Zogby’s weekly Washington Watch by emailing jzogby@aaiusa.org.

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October 21st, 2008, 1:32 pm

 

10. norman said:

News code:SPH – 05_HAILS.txt News date: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Print Documents
http://www.tehrantimes.com

Sleiman hails Sarkozy’s ‘brave move’ to repair ties with Syria

President Michel Sleiman described his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy’s openness toward Damascus as a “”brave move”” which helped end Lebanon’s 18-month political crisis, the state-run National News Agency said. Sleiman held a half hour meeting with Sarkozy on the sidelines of the 12th Francophone summit in Quebec, Canada on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, Culture Minister Tamam Salam, Minister of State Nassib Lahoud, and Sarkozy’s diplomatic adviser Jean David Levitt.

Sarkozy reportedly asked Sleiman about the situation in Lebanon, voicing his appreciation of the president’s role and expressing his “”definite will to help Lebanon.””

Sleiman briefed Sarkozy on “”recently achieved accomplishments which helped bolster stability”” in the country.

Sleiman also informed the French leader about the progress in establishing diplomatic ties between Lebanon and Syria.

“”The issue has reached the stage of choosing a venue for the Syrian embassy in Beirut,”” Sleiman told Sarkozy.

“”The two ambassadors would be accredited before end of the year,”” he added.

Lebanon and Syria first agreed on establishing diplomatic ties during the Mediterranean Union summit in Paris last July.

The decision, taken jointly by Sleiman and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad, was then announced by Sarkozy.

Sleiman later visited Damascus in September and agreed with Assad to establish diplomatic ties before the end of the year. Last week, the foreign ministers of the two neighbors signed an official agreement to establish such ties.

Sarkozy also inquired about the fate of the new election law and the shape and status of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Sleiman reportedly assured him that the law has been recently ratified by Parliament, adding that next year’s legislative election would be held on time.

Sleiman also assured Sarkozy that the Lebanese army was in good shape following the appointment of a new commander, General Jean Kahwaji.

The two presidents also discussed the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, stressing the need to prevent the resettlement of Palestinians in Lebanon.

Sarkozy concluded his meeting with Sleiman by inviting him to visit to France in February.

For his part, Sleiman also invited the French leader to visit Beirut in the aftermath of next year’s elections. Sarkozy’s first ever visit to Lebanon was a five-hour trip last June.

Also on Saturday, Sleiman met with Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika on the sidelines of the summit.

He also received a phone call from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who congratulated him for the establishing of diplomatic ties between Beirut and Damascus.

“”Our people expect us to cooperate in order to achieve peace … and we are positive that the Francophone summit will not spare an effort to support a stable, independent, and sovereign Lebanon,”” he said.

The summit’s final statement later voiced its support for Lebanon’s freedom, sovereignty, independence and stability.

The president’s first challenge would be sponsoring an intra-Christian reconciliation between the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Marada Movement before preparing to host the second round of Lebanese national dialogue on November 5. The first round was held at the Presidential Palace in mid-September.

In a related development, Lebanese Forces lawmaker George Adwan said over the weekend that a reconciliation meeting between the LF and the Marada was due to take place this week.

Adwan said the meeting would be held under the auspices of Sleiman, grouping LF boss Samir Geagea, Marada chief Suleiman Franjieh and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun. Adwan added that Phalange Party head Amin Gemayel was also welcome to attend the meeting.

Meanwhile, Geagea told Al-Jazeera satellite news television that his upcoming meeting with Franjieh will focus on ending security tensions in the North. “”We need to put an end to the tension in the North … this is why I questioned the purpose of Aoun’s participation in the meeting since he has nothing to do with such tension,”” Geagea said, referring to a recent LF-Marada clash in the northern town of Bsarma in which two people were killed.

The LF leader commented on the ongoing reconciliation efforts between Hezbullah and the Progressive Socialist Party and said such rapprochement only aimed at restoring calm without implying the need to form new political alliances.

He was referring to a series of meetings that grouped Hezbullah and PSP representatives.

The reconciliation efforts could be later crowned by a meeting between PSP leader Walid Jumblatt and Hezbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Jumblatt, who visited Cairo on Sunday to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other officials, said last week that he preferred not to hold a senior meeting with Hezbullah officials until a meeting between Nasrallah and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri takes place. The meeting has reportedly been delayed by security arrangements.

(Source: dailystar.com)

Print Documents

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October 21st, 2008, 1:33 pm

 

11. Zenobia said:

Akbar, I would really like to know according to your stats- exactly HOW MANY muslims have been “brought to trial” and “convicted of terrorism” in the United States?
Do you have a number?

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October 21st, 2008, 1:36 pm

 

12. Off the Wall said:

Zenobia
Glad to see you back.

Jad
Agree with you. I hope that Asma will become the face of the next generation of Arabs (both men and women), not only of presidents’ wives. But for now, I have to be content by her outstanding presense as a first lady of Syria.

AP
Excuse me for syaing this, but do you have anything more substantial than “you are more hateful”. Comon body, this lady is an American citizen. She knows that she has inerest in a tollerant America and she is better for that. Most of my Jewish friends are fully against gunatanamo, the patriot act, and the Bush era. American Jews have been among the pioneers of our civil right movement, and have played a major role in building liberal thoughts in the US and for contributing to liberal causes and to our civic society. Ray’s friend is but an extension of this tradition with its positive thinking.

She is talking about the hate script here in the US. Not in thte arab world or in the middle east.

As for the Ashkroft successfull trials of hundreds of terrorists, I guess you have not been around recently. Several high level military prosecutors and JAG officers are talking out(what ever they can say without risking their own freedom), and what they say does not paint a picture of successfull and honest prosecutions. But needless to say, here is a rather new article in the LA times

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/12/nation/na-gitmo12

Darrel J. Vandeveld was in despair. The hard-nosed lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, a self-described conformist praised by his superiors for his bravery in Iraq, had lost faith in the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunals in which he was a prosecutor.

His work was top secret, making it impossible to talk to family or friends. So the devout Catholic – working away from home – contacted a priest online.

Even if he had no doubt about the guilt of the accused, he wrote in an August e-mail, “I am beginning to have grave misgivings about what I am doing, and what we are doing as a country… .

“I no longer want to participate in the system, but I lack the courage to quit. I am married, with children, and not only will they suffer, I’ll lose a lot of friends.”

MEMRI’s selective memory will not help in this matter, no?.

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October 21st, 2008, 2:12 pm

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia,

Here’s something from Syracuse University that I found. Seems to be one of the more factual links I could find.

http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/terrorism/169/include/graph4.html

http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/terrorism/169/

http://www.adl.org/terrorism/terrorism_db/default.asp?valuedb=ArrestsConvictions

…and the Israeli government supporting religious terrorists settlers, sending its army to eradicate complete villages…

Why-Discuss,

Assuming the “Israeli government supports/ed religious terrorist settlers [to] eradicate complete villages” is/was without provocation or with no regard for self-defense, how do you explain that there are statistically no Jews who have been convicted of terrorism worldwide?

Israel is the best hate scriptwriter of the last 60 years.

Feel free to show a hebrew translation of the Israeli press showing such “hate scriptwriting”.

Zenbia, Why-Discuss,

My purpose for responding to this is to counter what I see is a double-standard by people like Ray Close and his Jewish friend. They refuse to simply pick up the rocks to see what is underneath them. Placing the blame for “hate” on Bush, the neocons and Israel is simply a denial of fact. Hate is promoted in the Arabic government controlled press as a matter of choice, and the actual perpetrators are not surprisingly, mostly of Arab/Muslim decent.

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October 21st, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

She is talking about the hate script here in the US.

OTW,

Please feel free (or your Jewish friends) to show examples of US Government-controlled “hate script”.

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October 21st, 2008, 4:28 pm

 

15. Zenobia said:

Actually, I think the US “hate-script” is worse. Because it is not some government controlled transmission or contrived message, or published rehashed cliche.

Rather, here is a totally spontaneous expression- of our un-addressed hatreds and bigotries. the ones still acceptable somehow, or retained in the privacy of home and now spewed out on the internet.
And the government and the respected media is not condoning or imposing this language or expression, and yet it persists.

It is a must bigger problem actually than some recycled prescribed rhetoric that is not even generated by the demos.

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October 21st, 2008, 6:44 pm

 

16. Jad said:

AP,
I don’t understand why you always talk about to the same issue of Arabs and Muslims organized message of hate toward the peaceful Israel.
You obviously smart enough to take time and analyse every word every person here says. You must be smart enough to know that this “hate message” didn’t come from nowhere, there is a chain of actions that led to the message you see on the media which is not inclusive to the Arab and Muslim world, watch your state TV, you will see the same “hate message”, they don’t show a freaking white pigeon with an olive branch.
I also refuse to believe that you don’t feel some guilt and shame for the conditions your state put many people under and that you seriously believe the occupied SYRIAN Golan is your land either.

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October 21st, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

17. Alia said:

Leila,

I enjoy your blog immensely….

You state: [A polite comment from someone who is not anti-Syria.]

The question is: Is a critique of a dictatorship a critique of the country? I rather think not.

With due respect, many articles and discussions in this valuable blog have led me to wonder whether the people have forgotten completely that Syria is under dictatorship…or is it that the omnipresence of this dictatorship itself has led to a censoring of the content resulting in this slanted image which the blog seems to project.

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October 21st, 2008, 7:59 pm

 

18. Alex said:

Dear Alia,

Syria is indeed under an authoritarian political system. I chose to not put too much energy in this direction because I believe that empowering Syria’s current leadership is a clear net plus for Syria at this point.

And it is not all one-dimensional. If you search by the word “prisoner” or “corruption” in this blog you will find quite a few posts about corruption or political prisoners.

there is no fear of “the regime” .. but you are right that most of us here are more focused on the regional picture.

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October 21st, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

19. Seeking the Truth said:

there is no fear of “the regime”

Whom are you kidding?

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October 21st, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

20. Zenobia said:

he is saying there is no “fear of ‘the regime'” on this blog.

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October 21st, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

21. Alex said:

Ghadry is still working hard : )

Mideast and South Asian Americans For McCain

“LET’S VOTE AGAINST JIHAD IN AMERICA”

For Immediate Release

Washington DC, October 21, 2008

We, American activists for freedom from Middle East descent declare on
this day that we commit to support the election of Senator John McCain
and Governor Sarah Palin as President and Vice President of the United
States of America. In this statement we are calling on our relatives
and friends in our communities to vote for McCain-Palin as an
expression of our vote against all forms of Jihadism in America.

As Arab-American Reformers from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, the
Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, the Sahel countries,
Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman and other
countries, we reject Senator Obama’s policy of cozying up to the
dictators and cutting deals with the Jihadists. We support Senator
McCain’s backing to the reform minded Arabs in their quest to spread
democracy.

As Lebanese-Americans, the single largest American ethnic community
from the Middle Eastern descent, we refuse Senator Obama’s policy of
cutting deals with the Assad regime in Syria and reject his plans to
recognize Hezbollah’s domination of our mother country Lebanon. We
support Senator McCain’s commitment to free Lebanon from Iranian
control and to disarm Hezbollah.

As Iranian-Americans we oppose Senator Obama’s reckless suggestion to
sit down with the murderous regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran and cut
deals against the interests of the Iranian people. We reject this
irresponsible and inhumane attitude regarding the youth and women in
Iran and strongly support Senator McCain’s backing to democracy in
Iran.

As Muslim-American Reformers from Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Indonesia, Afghanistan and central Asia we do not agree with Senator
Obama’s policies of accommodation with the Taliban and other radical
Islamists in our mother countries. We support Senator McCain’s
platform which sides with the moderate and reformist Muslims around
the world.

As Syrian-Americans, we reject Senator Obama’s policy of partnership
with Dictator Bashar Assad, whose regime has been persecuting our
communities in the mother land and we support Senator McCain’s backing
of democratic reforms in Syria.

As US citizens from Assyrian-Chaldean and other Syriac-speaking
ancestry we oppose Senator Obama’s pressure to pull out US and
Coalition forces from Iraq before our minority communities in Iraq are
secured under international protection. The killing of Christians in
Iraq should be stopped. We support Senator McCain’s call for victory
in Iraq against the Jihadists of al Qaeda and the Iranian-backed
terrorists.

As Coptic-American citizens, we reject Senator Obama’s projected
partnership with the Muslim Brotherhoods, the persecutors of our
mother community and we support Senator McCain’s defense of Coptic
Christian rights in Egypt.

As Iranian-Americans we oppose Senator Obama’s reckless suggestion to
sit down with the murderer regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran and cut
deals against the interests of the Iranian people. We reject this
irresponsible and inhumane attitude regarding the youth and women in
Iran and strongly support Senator McCain’s backing to democracy in
Iran.

As African-Americans from Southern Sudanese and Darfur ancestry we
resent Senator Obama’s unwillingness to save our brothers and sisters
in our mother country from Genocide. Senator Obama should know better
than any other American politician that Africans in Sudan are being
massacred by a regime he plans on cutting deals with. We support
Senator McCain’s unwavering support for Darfur and Southern Sudan
against the Terrorist regime in Khartoum.]

As US citizens from Berber ancestry we do not agree with Senator
Obama’s policies of accommodation with lobbies representing regimes
oppressing our North African identity. We support Senator McCain’s
platform of spreading Democracy in the region.

As Hindu-Americans we disagree with Senator Obama’s partnership with
the Islamists who are terrorizing our mother country India and we
support Senator McCain’s campaign to counter the Jihadi Terrorists.

We, representing the aspirations of millions of Americans, call on our
relatives, friends and members of our communities to deliver their
vote to Senator McCain so that the next White House would not be
directing US resources against democracy in our mother countries but
against the Terrorists.

We call on our communities to support Senator McCain so that the
radicals among us would not seize American Foreign Policy towards our
mother countries and grow their Terror ideologies inside America.

We call on you to deliver millions of your votes to Senator McCain in
every state and county you’re residing in, and particularly in
Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and
Missouri.

Your votes are the contribution to America and the best help you can
provide to your brothers and sisters suffering in your mother
countries. So deliver them to John McCain and Sarah Palin and vote
against Jihad in America.

For more information, please contact:

Farid Ghadry, Syrian-American, Spokesman for the American Arab Muslim Community

Tel: 301-346-5000

John Hajjar, Lebanese-American, Spokesman for the American Lebanese
Christian Community

Tel: 617) 216 5445

Middle East and South Asian Americans for McCain

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October 21st, 2008, 10:33 pm

 

22. SimoHurtta said:

Dear Ray Close friend,

What about the hundreds of Muslims John Ashcroft rounded up, brought to trial, and convicted of terrorism against the United States? Does that register in your world view at all? (Not to mention the 9-11 terrorists).

The terrorist apologists are working overtime I see…

Akbar I repeat Zenobia’s request of telling us actually how many Muslim terrorists have been convicted in USA (and in Europe). Compared to the vast resources and efforts in that Muslim terrorist hunting the results have been almost none. Many of the few cases which have arrived to the court rooms have been “laughed out” by the jury and judges.

What the Bush and Blair regime have managed has been to radicalise and piss of millions of Muslims.

I must put your claim of success with Ashcroft’s rounded terrorists to same category as Saddams’s strangely disappeared WMD’s.

By the way Akbar it looks bad for USA in Iraq. It seems that you will be kicked out without gratitude and oil contracts. Hmmmmm…

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October 21st, 2008, 11:22 pm

 

23. norman said:

Alia,

We Syrians on this blog direct our energy to improve Syria not to blame anybody in particular , The opposition will be better off working to improve Syria by showing how much they care by doing instead of talking , so if they think that there is a lot of illiteracy then they should start an NGO that will improve literacy, if they are not happy with health care in Syria then they should use that NGO to spread vaccination and provide new technology to public hospital instead of going to the EU or the US for health care , If they are not happy with education , they can open private schools with better education and give scholarship to to the poor , provide forign scholarship to Syrian students in economics, constitutional law , engineering , accounting and other specialities not available or advanced in Syria .

Syria needs doers not talkers , the opposition so far have been talkers ,

We Syrians on this Blog love Syria so much that we are trying to be doers .We are open to helpers.

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October 22nd, 2008, 1:51 am

 

24. Rumyal said:

Alex,

I posted something (non-important) in response to our conversation yesterday on post #1142. Seems to be stuck somewhere. Is this by design? i.e., do older posts become closed for comments after a while or something like that?

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October 22nd, 2008, 4:43 am

 

25. Alex said:

Rumyal,

It was in the SPAM filter … I think the link to that Pink site looked like a spam comment to our anti spam plugin.

I read it and released it.

And, I loved the FAQ page of that blog : )

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October 22nd, 2008, 5:06 am

 

26. Rumyal said:

The spam filter might have been right after all in this case…

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October 22nd, 2008, 5:20 am

 

27. alia said:

Alex,

Thanks for your response- actually, going over the archives, I found Ehsani’s reports of his visits to Syria of particular interest and relevance esp. the one describing his visit of December 2007. The discussion following it as well…The present unveiling of the woes of free market economy should probably nuance some of the responses that were overly optimisitc and implied a trickle down effect is soon to follow this period of increasing economic disparity..
Your statement of the stand of the blog, prioritizing the regional and international functions of the regime, does’nt it in essence replicate the stand that Syrians have had all along with Asad father and which has effectively depoliticized Syrians and deepened the sense of helplessness that all felt? This reminds me of a couple of visits I made to moribond East germany and then shortly after the fall of the Wall- People there were anything but passive. The geopolitical differences between East Germany and Syria notwitstandng, I see clear dangers in dichotomies of this sort.

Norman,

From personal experience, I can tell you that a non-governmental organization in Syria will have to be under complete control of the government and no matter how much you try to work under those conditions and adapt your goals and function, there comes a time when your hand is forcibly immobilized or removed completely from the projects that you have put in place. We have worked in the domain of health care, establishing satellite clinics and areas of medication destribution with untold bureaucratic woes; we have received generous gifts of hospital components from overseas that have been rejected without explanation. My offers to one of the universities to spend several weeks, of my personal time coming from overseas, without pay, each semester, in order to offer an essential course which is not taught because of the lack of qualified personnel has met with blocks of all sorts until it was politely declined as “unnecessary”…I and close family members have had a few other fairly dramatic experiences in this regard, and believe me we did have “support” and “Wasta” to no avail.

It is good to call a spade a spade every once in a while= it prevents cognitive distortions from creeping up. That is one way of looking at things.

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October 22nd, 2008, 8:41 am

 

28. Akbar Palace said:

Actually, I think the US “hate-script” is worse. Because it is not some government controlled transmission or contrived message, or published rehashed cliche.

Zenobia,

I’m not here to you or anyone else to change your mind. If that is how you feel, then that is how you feel. I am here to counter information that I think is false and not factual.

To me “hate-script” is anything a government published to promote hate. It’s just that simple. Now in the case of the US government, there are TONNES of speeches, government information bulletins, websites, that are issued everyday. And fortunately, there are no US government controlled (mass-produced) newpapers.

I challenge anyone here Zenobia to find “hate script” in any of these US government information sources.

Why isn’t there a “MEMRI”-type Arab website showing the vile anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment throughout US and Israeli government information sources?

Rather, here is a totally spontaneous expression- of our un-addressed hatreds and bigotries. the ones still acceptable somehow, or retained in the privacy of home and now spewed out on the internet.

I’m not sure what you’re referring to, so please take this opportunity to provide as many links as you can to help me see what you are seeing.

And the government and the respected media is not condoning or imposing this language or expression, and yet it persists.

What persists Zenobia? Again please enlighten me. Let’s see the “hate script” the US Government is guilty of.

I don’t understand why you always talk about to the same issue of Arabs and Muslims organized message of hate toward the peaceful Israel.

JAD –

I’m not saying Israel is peaceful. I am specifically taking issue with Ray Close’s Jewish friend’s (as he described her) comment:

It’s time already to rewrite the hate script of the past seven years.

I am questioning her about what “hate script” she is referring to. I also would like her to comment about the “hate script” in the Arab government-controlled press.

You obviously smart enough to take time and analyse every word every person here says. You must be smart enough to know that this “hate message” didn’t come from nowhere, there is a chain of actions that led to the message you see on the media which is not inclusive to the Arab and Muslim world, watch your state TV, you will see the same “hate message”, they don’t show a freaking white pigeon with an olive branch.

I’m not claiming to be smarter than anyone here. The posters on this website are clearly intelligent as well. Where are all the Arabs and Muslims getting beaten up across the United States? Where are all the politicians claiming Arabs and Muslims can no longer be US citizens anymore? Where is the “hate script” in US news sources, websites, and speeches? I am sure there are isolated instances, but for the most part, and in light of the horrible terrorist attacks against our country, I think our democracy has held up pretty well. Certainly much better than how the Jewish communities held up in Arab countries such as Syria and Iraq

I also refuse to believe that you don’t feel some guilt and shame for the conditions your state put many people under and that you seriously believe the occupied SYRIAN Golan is your land either.

I will tell you how I feel: I do not feel any guilt or shame defending Israel. I do not believe Israel could have done anything better to avoid the ’48 war, the ’67 war, the ’73 war, and all the wars with Lebanon. I am proud that Israel made peace with Eygpt and Jordan, and I am looking forward to more peace treaties with other countries as well.

AP

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October 22nd, 2008, 11:29 am

 

29. Nour said:

I would like to know by what right Farid Ghadry claims to speak for all Syrian-Americans, Lebanese-Americans, Iraqi-Americans, Iranian-Americans, and all Arab-Americans. The fact is that the vast majority of Syrian-Americans and Arab-Americans in general support Barack Obama, and not John McCain. If Farid Ghadry wants to express his own support for McCain and make an argument for his position, he has every right to do so, but to claim to speak for a large group of people, when most of those people disagree with you is downright dishonest and disingenuous.

In addition, Farid Ghadry’s whole argument is bankrupt and is a repetition of the tired, and discredited neocon line of spreading democracy and defending freedom. This is all nonsense and contrary to the actions of this administration on the ground. Apparently people like Ghadry do not have any problem with “cozying up” to dictators like King Abdallah of KSA, King Abdallah of Jordan, Mubarak of Egypt, or Musharaf (former dictator) of Pakistan, but suggesting that you would sit down and talk to Bashar al-Assad and Ahmadinejad is clearly crossing the line. In addition, while opposing any appeasement of the Taliban, Mr. Ghadry seems to forget that the current Afghan government, with the support of the US is engaging in negotiations with the Taliban.

All in all, Farid Ghadry is a loser who is seeing his chances of being another Ahmad Chalabi disappear with every passing day.

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October 22nd, 2008, 11:43 am

 

30. Shai said:

Akbar,

People might “forgive” certain wars, mainly because most have lasted but days or weeks. But few can forgive what happens between the wars. Which do you think is the extraordinary event – the IDF soldier defending the Palestinian, or the Rightist extremists coming to beat up on the Palestinian (i.e. to “deter the terrorists”)? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1030476.html

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October 22nd, 2008, 12:02 pm

 

31. Shai said:

Akbar,

I’m sorry I’m “bombarding” you today. I just can’t understand why the Arab world is so full of hatred towards us. I mean, do they really take an article like this seriously…? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1030418.html

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October 22nd, 2008, 1:07 pm

 

32. Off the Wall said:

NOUR
Thank you for the excellent comment on Ghadry (oops, Chalabi Jr)
I just want to warn that scoundlers like this guy never disappear. They only hide in the shadows under the desks of their AEI offices waiting for a new opportunity.

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October 22nd, 2008, 3:32 pm

 

33. Joshua said:

Dear Alia, many thanks for your comments. I think all of us constantly struggle with the trade offs between refusing to deal with an authoritarian government in the hope that our boycott will force change and the desire to participate in public debate to do something constructive despite the political realities.

Clearly, you have been struggling with this same problem for a long time as you have tried to play a role in bringing important knowledge, money, and medical advances to Syria.

How would you recommend this blog to proceed? Should it become an opposition site? Should it go silent and join the many other depoliticized Syians? How have you decided to proceed?

Best, Joshua

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October 22nd, 2008, 5:14 pm

 

34. Abasi said:

this philosophy of engaging and negotaiting with others even if they are ‘bad’ with the hope they will change one day is only part of the process which will come to the real truth that those people will never change even if you engaged with them for 100 years…why? because -I quote Quran- “God never change people until they chnage what’s in their souls” (إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ)

therefore any change should be the product of those who are inside who are for the very reason you are fighting for are being suppressed. Look at the Irony: Mrs Assad had a face book page which is blocked in Syria. those people talking for just talking without engaging into real action on the ground do not need to stop at what they say…

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October 22nd, 2008, 10:41 pm

 

35. norman said:

Dear Alia,

I am very sad about your experience , It is hard for me to understand why people in the Syrian government will act like this, They try to get forign investments in while rejection free investments ,
The Ambassador should explain , I might put it on his interview and see if he can explain,

Dear Joshua,

Please do not change your mind about Syria and you Blog and do not give up , They ( The people in the Syrian Goverment ))do not know more than they do not care

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October 23rd, 2008, 1:04 am

 

36. Alia said:

Dear Joshua,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Yes, we do struggle to find the most useful stance and we do not give up easily.

The blog should proceed based on your own assessment of your initial and continuously updated goals and the impact that you estimate you are having. Who is engaged in here? What is the likely outcome of their engagement?

I am not able or qualified to recommend to anyone the road of open opposition to the regime. I do however strongly advise against any compartmentalization of knowledge and of subjects of discussion that would lead to an open or a tacit acceptance of the status quo- Articles and contributions may have to be selected to represent a broader and more comprehensive reality of what Syria is about nowadays and depoliticization is definitely not an option…

You asked about my plans: I have moved to an indirect role in my attempt to offer what I can. At this point, we continue to fund 2 full-time physicians who spend their time between several rural clinics in the North of the country from Halab to Bou Kamal; we also continue to support a fund for free medications for needy patients in those clinics and in one private practice ….this includes funds for surgery as well. There are no problems involved in this type of support since individuals do it informally.

For more direct engagement, we are hoping to move on to Africa. Mali seems to be a worthy and welcoming destination…but of course the heart is in Syria and if conditions should become more inviting, any expertise gleaned in the field of social activism would be at the service of the “beloved country that is also crying”.

Last, I wish to bring up an irony of a sort. If there was anything valuable that I learned from the years of dominance of Hafez al-Asad, it is the virtues of socialism. Not the ugly political variety rather the principle of social cohesion, the necessity of guarantying a social net, the universal right of humans to a dignified standard of life regardless of other social determinants. The lesson has stuck and has combined well with the Muslim and Christian ethos that we grew up with and this is what spurs me on.

Wishing you and the Comment all the best,

Alia.

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October 23rd, 2008, 3:19 am

 

37. jed said:

AP
(I’m not saying Israel is peaceful.)
Good start, I agree with you that Israel is an aggressive country.
(I also would like her to comment about the “hate script” The Arab government-controlled press).
Do you seriously want to compare the Arab-controlled press to the American-free press? You do that when they become democratic countries with no illiterate population and when there is “true” free press.
(I’m not claiming to be smarter than anyone here.)
You wish!
I said: you are “smart enough”
(The posters on this website are clearly intelligent as well.)
They are the best and most intelligent Syrians you will ever talk to.
(Where are all the Arabs and Muslims getting beaten up across the United States? Where are all the politicians claiming Arabs and Muslims can no longer be US citizens anymore?)
When the word “Arab” and “Muslim” labeled as negative allover the free American media that is bad enough.
(I think our democracy has held up pretty well. Certainly much better than how the Jewish communities held up in Arab countries such as Syria and Iraq)
How much do you know about the Syrian Jewish community? Please put us a link for the Syrian Jewish community, I didn’t read any article about how bad the Syrian Jewish communities treated. The Synagog in Damascus is untouched.
The only thing they weren’t allowed to do as Syrian citizens was the Military service and the LONG 5year’s compulsory engineering civil service…BTW, we all envy them for that 🙂
(I will tell you how I feel: I do not feel any guilt or shame defending Israel.)
SO, stop asking us to attack our authorities, government and our beloved Syria for its flaws every time you give us a lecture, at least we admit that we have plenty of flaws unlike you.
We are Syrians, and we are 100 times prouder about our Syria than you about Israel, not mentioning the fact that Syria and its government is not occupying anybody’s land.
(I am looking forward to more peace treaties with other countries as well.)
No you are not.

Abasi,
The first step to resolve a dispute, you need to talk to your opponent/enemy, not stay in the corner close your eyes and curse them wishing that they disappear, because they wont and you wont get your right either

Dear Alia
I’m neither a regime lover nor hater, but I don’t have to announce that every time I want to write, otherwise my comments sound repetitive and empty.
Your experience in “private” Syria doesn’t sound as bad as “public” Syria, don’t you think that worth making you optimistic like most of us here? if I’m not going to be optimistic in a better tomorrow for Syria, THAT better Syria won’t exist. Good luck.

J.

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October 23rd, 2008, 5:22 am

 

38. jad said:

AP
(I’m not saying Israel is peaceful.)
Good start, I agree with you that Israel is an aggressive country.
(I also would like her to comment about the “hate script” The Arab government-controlled press).
Do you seriously want to compare the Arab-controlled press to the American-free press? You do that when they become democratic countries with no illiterate population and when there is a true free press.
(I’m not claiming to be smarter than anyone here.)
You wish!
I said: you are “smart enough”
(The posters on this website are clearly intelligent as well.)
They are the best and most intelligent Syrians you will ever talk to.
(Where are all the Arabs and Muslims getting beaten up across the United States? Where are all the politicians claiming Arabs and Muslims can no longer be US citizens anymore?)
When the word “Arab” and “Muslim” labeled as negative allover the free American media that is bad enough.
(I think our democracy has held up pretty well. Certainly much better than how the Jewish communities held up in Arab countries such as Syria and Iraq)
How much do you know about the Syrian Jewish community? Please put us a link for the Syrian Jewish community, I didn’t read any article about how bad the Syrian Jewish communities treated.
The only thing they weren’t allowed to do as Syrian citizens was the Military service and the LONG 5year’s compulsory engineering civil service…BTW, we all envy them for that J
(I will tell you how I feel: I do not feel any guilt or shame defending Israel.)
SO, stop asking us to attack our authorities, government and our beloved Syria for it’s flaws every time you give us a lecture, at least we admit that we have plenty of flaws unlike you.
We are Syrians and we are 100 times prouder about our Syria than you about Israel, not mentioning the fact that Syria and its government is not even occupying anybody’s land.
(I am looking forward to more peace treaties with other countries as well.)
No you are not.

Abasi,
The first step to resolve a dispute you need to talk to your opponent/enemy, not stay in the corner close your eyes and curse them wishing that they disappear because they wont and you wont get your right either

Dear Alia
I’m neither a regime lover nor hater, but I don’t have to announce that every time I want to write, otherwise my comments will be repetitive and empty
Your experience and work in “private” Syria doesn’t sound as bad as “public” Syria, don’t you think that worth making you optimistic like most of us here? if I’m not going to be optimistic in a better tomorrow for Syria, THAT better Syria won’t exist. Good luck.

J.

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October 23rd, 2008, 5:29 am

 

39. Jad said:

What a smart and well educated MP we have in the parliament!
دمشق ..
أقر مجلس الشعب قانون سلامة الغذاء في جلسته التي عقدت مساء أمس برئاسة الدكتور محمود الأبرش رئيس المجلس وبحضور الدكتور يعرب بدر وزير النقل حيث اعترض النائب عمار بكداش في بداية الجلسة وبعد تلاوة محضر الجلسة السابقة على كلام لوزيرة الشؤون الاجتماعية في الجلسة السابقة والذي طالبت فيه بتخصيص مقاعد في مجلس الشعب في الدور التشريعي القادم في للمعاقين واعتبر النائب بكداش أن هذا الكلام مخالف للدستور وقال : ” هل تريد الوزيرة أن يكون هناك أشخاص منغوليين أو مصابين بالزهايمر ليناقشوا قضايا المواطنين والقوانين والقرارات ورد رئيس المجلس مؤكدا ً أن هناك بعض البرلمانات تضم أعضاء معاقين سواء بالحركة أو غيرها وضرب مثالا ً النائب صالح الملاح والذي أصيب بإعاقة نتيجة حادث
(champress)

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October 23rd, 2008, 6:02 am

 

40. Joshua Landis said:

Dear Alia,

Why don’t you write up your experiences in Syria trying to bring aid. I think it would be very instructive to others what want to do the same. Many doctors, who have tried to do similar things, read Syria Comment. Of course, the Syrian-American Doctors Association must deal with this all the time and have doubtlessly found ways to get around some of this. You may start a health conversation if you write up your experiences and advice?

Perhaps you could help to explain what the most effective way to make a contribution to Syria is? Also give us some of the horror stories. As you say, Syrians don’t hear enough about the nitty gritty of these things, which is one reason why outrage and reform is so slow to mobilize and get acted on.

Read this post by Haytham Abed who tried to donate books to Syrian universities. It generated quite a bit of interest and others donated with Abed’s help. The post actually helped the universities cut through some of the red tape.

See
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=772

Best, Joshua

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October 23rd, 2008, 2:05 pm

 

41. norman said:

Alia,

Were you and are still part of a Christian or other faith based group, If that is the case , that might be the reason.

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October 23rd, 2008, 2:44 pm

 

42. Alia said:

Dear Joshua,

I am definitely interested in a health series and the nitty gritty on what it is like to practice Medicine, receive care, provide aid etc.. welcoming input from others. It could be really helpful. But before I tell any stories, I would need to consult with the people, in Syria, who have been involved and see what they think of this. Despite the population boom, there is no way one can remain blessedly anonymous there for very long.

Jad,

Neither an optimist nor a pessimist…just a realist- That is the greater achievement, I think.

Norman,

I was not and am not involved in any faith based Aid-(yet:)) Is there evidence that it is more difficult for them to operate in the country? After all, there are still quite a few hospitals and charities that are run by Catholic Missionary orders and quite a few district clinics dependent for their financing on local Mosques. I am very curious to hear what you know about this.

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October 23rd, 2008, 10:35 pm

 

43. norman said:

Alia,

i do not have first hand experience but from what i remember during my time in Syria in the late seventies , the Syrian government was always worry about the western Christian aid worker who try to convert Syrians mostly Christians into born again Christians , I believe the Christians in Syria are more concerned about these groups that the Muslims ,and the Syrian government tries to protect the feeling of the Syrians Christians and Muslims.

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October 24th, 2008, 2:25 am

 

44. jad said:

Alia,

I totally agree with you, being realist is the greatest achievement, however, expecting Syria with it’s bureaucratic, unprofessional and ‘haret kil min eido ilo” system, not to mention it’s political one, to work as Switzerland or even East Germany and being open and accepting everything you may experiment on, regardless of your good intension, doesn’t really fit under realistic, I call that being so very optimistic, therefore I think we all are in the same boat of optimism.

I know that Dr. Landis knows how to help you in writing any article about your experience in Syria, but I think that you don’t have to write any names, location or timeframe, everything can be vague, what people care about here is to know the way to improve the situation and to learn form each other experience how to overcome the obstacle that might face us doing good for the average Syrians.

J.

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October 24th, 2008, 4:39 am

 

45. Alia said:

Jad,

I am using the adjective realistic to mean seeing the nature of things as they really are without the deforming effect of habit or wishful thinking. It seems that you are using it in the sense of not having unreasonable expectations.

The former East Germany had an authoritarian regime and a notoriously omnipresent security system- we can certainly learn something by looking at the history of that country. We can also use it as a model to define ourselves better in our difference.

All of this is not additional activity, we already have the models in our head, we are operating according to them, we would benefit from looking at them clearly and challenging our own notions.

Switzerland ???I don’t think so 🙂

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October 25th, 2008, 3:03 am

 

46. Asma al-Assad: Maverick of the Middle East | The Making of the Middle East said:

[…] Italian 18 Oct 08 pp.
1, 46. If you’re are not Alida, and you speak English, you can read this slightly modified BBC version from a blog call Syria Comment. Since the English version of the […]

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November 1st, 2008, 3:37 pm

 

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