“Asma al-Assad: A Rose of the Desert” in Vogue

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert
by Joan Juliet Buck | photographed by James Nachtwey
Vogue, February 25, 2011

Asma al-Assad

Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.

Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. ….

….The old al-Assad family apartment was remade into a child-friendly triple-decker playroom loft surrounded by immense windows on three sides. With neither shades nor curtains, it’s a fishbowl. Asma al-Assad likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit, comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t isolate yourself.”

There’s a decorated Christmas tree. Seven-year-old Zein watches Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland on the president’s iMac; her brother Karim, six, builds a shark out of Legos; and nine-year-old Hafez tries out his new electric violin. All three go to a Montessori school.

Asma al-Assad empties a box of fondue mix into a saucepan for lunch. The household is run on wildly democratic principles. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” she says. The chandelier over the dining table is made of cut-up comic books. “They outvoted us three to two on that.”

A grid is drawn on a blackboard, with ticks for each member of the family. “We were having trouble with politeness, so we made a chart: ticks for when they spoke as they should, and a cross if they didn’t.” There’s a cross next to Asma’s name. “I shouted,” she confesses. “I can’t talk about empowering young people, encouraging them to be creative and take responsibility, if I’m not like that with my own children.”….

….And then there’s her cultural mission: “People tend to see Syria as artifacts and history,” she says. “For us it’s about the accumulation of cultures, traditions, values, customs. It’s the difference between hardware and software: the artifacts are the hardware, but the software makes all the difference—the customs and the spirit of openness. We have to make sure that we don’t lose that. . . . ”

That brand essence includes the distant past. There are 500,000 important ancient works of art hidden in storage; Asma al-Assad has brought in the Louvre to create a network of museums and cultural attractions across Syria, and asked Italian experts to help create a database of the 5,000 archaeological sites in the desert. “Culture,” she says, “is like a financial asset. We have an abundance of it, thousands of years of history, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”

In December, Asma al-Assad was in Paris to discuss her alliance with the Louvre. She dazzled a tough French audience at the International Diplomatic Institute, speaking without notes. “I’m not trying to disguise culture as anything more than it is,” she said, “and if I sound like I’m talking politics, it’s because we live in a politicized region, a politicized time, and we are affected by that.”….. Read the article

Comments (122)


1. Majhool said:

Great shallow article.

Here is a website maybe useful in the future for finding Kitchen Democracy articles:

http://www.lahamag.com/

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February 25th, 2011, 11:39 am

 

2. Ghat Al Bird said:

A short news item that might be of interest to SC staff and forum reported by a Canadian reporter filmaker living in East Jerusalem.

EI, February 24, 2011

The Israeli military establishment is once again on the offensive, but instead of high-tech weaponry and missiles, it is using computer screens, keyboards and rapid wireless connections to fight what Israeli military representatives are dubbing a “new media war.”

In early February, military spokesperson Avi Benayahu announced that approximately $1.6 million would be invested to train more than a hundred Israeli “media warriors,” who would use social media tools to disseminate Israeli propaganda to audiences around the world.

“We need to ensure the confidence of the public, and assist the minister of foreign affairs to obtain that legitimization which is required for an army like ours to effect a military operation, whether it’s in the north or the south,” said Benayahu of this new media campaign during the 11th annual Herzliya security conference in early February.

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February 25th, 2011, 11:52 am

 

3. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Sweet image, but it does not change the fact that the regime is corrupt, repressive and unfair. Paid for magazine ads are not what Syrians needs, they need real reforms. The abstract art is dated 70ish. It is a fact, Bashar is the Baath Party life insurance policy. They will never be around if it were not for his image.

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February 25th, 2011, 11:54 am

 

4. AIG said:

Such a nice family! Such a nice man! Now, would this man order his military to shoot at protesters? Maybe things have changed…

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February 25th, 2011, 12:12 pm

 

5. trustquest said:

The subject and the timing is way off line. We suppose to be watching new age and all Medias are exposing dictators of their real face. What, is Assad is not a dictator, is his wife is not the Dictator wife. Are readers just a bunch of naives?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8v42UkDB9Y
Watch around you how people celebrate the freedom which Syrians deprived from for 50 years, or do you think Syrians have no feeling and they are lifeless people.
Millions of people are celebrating their freedom from dictators and other millions are fighting for their freedom from dictatorship. Syria is the worst of all, and someone should have some sense of decency towards his audience. Dictators at these moments are considered the trash of the world, without exception because people know that there is no favor between trashes.

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February 25th, 2011, 12:26 pm

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

The New Face of Despotism

Such a nice family! Such a nice man!

AIG,

He doesn’t look like a resistance fighter to me. Maybe he’s a Zionist in sheep’s clothing?

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February 25th, 2011, 1:10 pm

 

7. s. farah said:

A great article: Finally! A courageous western reporter was able to depart from the Israeli perpetrated narrative about Syria. This article depicts the President and First lady of Syria for what they really are- A Progressive, liberal couple who believes that peace will come to the Middle East through the embrace of its cultural and religious diversity. It depicts Syria as a beacon for religious tolerance a contrast to many of it neighbors..especially Israel that calls for a nation for one people only -a ghetto, that is at war with its neighbors. The article struck a good balance between explaining Syria’s rich cultural and ancient past while at the same time introducing the reader to the notion that Syria, and in particular Damascus, is now experiencing a modernization boom. As a visitor traveling to the region for the last decade, I’ve seen this evolution first hand.

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February 25th, 2011, 1:41 pm

 

8. Nafdik said:

I think that asma is doing her best given the situation she is in.

I would suggest that if bashar and asma want to preserve the goodwill they have and to do what is best for the legacy of their family and the future of their children, they should immediately declare an exit strategy whereby they leave power within a year or two.

Once they leave power if bashar is passionate enough about helping the country he can present himself for elcetions like any other citizen.

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February 25th, 2011, 1:53 pm

 

9. Ghat Al Bird said:

AIG said:

Such a nice family! Such a nice man! Now, would this man order his military to shoot at protesters? Maybe things have changed…

AKBAR PALACE said:

The New Face of Despotism

Such a nice family! Such a nice man!

AIG,

He doesn’t look like a resistance fighter to me. Maybe he’s a Zionist in sheep’s clothing?

Sarcastic comments above from admirers and supporters of a man who had several zionists ( names that come to mind like Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Wurmser and others ) propose a series of military actions like the invasion of Iraq ( over a million people dead ) the nuking of Iran and threatening Syrians and others.

its to be expected from a people with a long history of practicing selective amnesia.

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February 25th, 2011, 1:59 pm

 

10. Majhool said:

Great interview with the owner of an independent media outlet:

http://www.youtube.com/user/AllforSyria

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February 25th, 2011, 2:19 pm

 

11. jad said:

What all the whining about?
Since when any of you (who attacking the article) read and judge Vogue, Opera, Laha , Saidaty or any women’s magazine on regular basis, to be so judgmental about the article and questioning the timing of it??
Why this negativity on everything you read regarding the president and the first lady?
What is wrong of showing the good side of Syria and Syrians as open minded instead of the typical terrorist savages image ‘AP and AIG’ promote about us? The article was mostly about showing the good side of Syrians, how did you miss the passionate tone of the first lady talking about Syria and Syrians?
In the article there are many good points showing that the president and the first lady are well aware of what’s happening outside the walls of their apartment, they know the image of Syria outside, they know that the system is undemocratic and they know that they can’t change it easily, and for this couple to try is something I can’t ignore and decide not to see, it’s unfair.
Besides, what is the first lady position in the government and what are her powers to do for changing an authoritarian regime? Why can’t you see the fact that it is way easier and less work for her to act as a negative force and enjoy the lazy rich life she can get under such regime, instead she is doing huge efforts to bring positive energy and make good work all over Syria to everybody regardless of their religion or background? Doesn’t that mean anything to any of you?
(The household is run on wildly democratic principles. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” she says.) If a person is aware of such principle and encourage it inside the house wouldn’t you give her the credit for at least trying to be better and encourage such ideas in the Syrian youth by all means she could?
Fact that the president is the image of an undemocratic system but that doesn’t take away the fact that he is running a country in the middle of a horrible and dangerous neighbourhood and saving us Syrians lots of problems.
I’m against the corruption in Syria and against the unjust people are facing and I condemn all the security forces targeting citizens and I don’t believe in the one political party leading the country and I think the way we are treated by the government is horrible and we defiantly deserve a much better governing system and I’m 100% sure that if Syria is run on more democratic principles it will be the best in the middle east but I don’t believe a destructive criticism or personal attack on the president and the first lady will do my country any good.

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February 25th, 2011, 2:24 pm

 

12. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

“…….It depicts Syria as a beacon for religious tolerance a contrast to many of its neighbors..Especially Israel.”

Israel is by far more religiously tolerant than Syria. In quantity of sects operating in Israel alone, there is three times more than Syria. Don’t confuse aspirational religious freedom with those militant ones in Gaza and in Syria, the bomb vest laden type. Just because they plaster Allah-Wa-Akbar on their empty skull, it does not make one religious. In Israel any religion, party, sect, or person, no matter what his religious or political affiliation is, can legally operate any social or political group, as well as formally run for the Knesset, Arabs and Moslems included. That is not the case in Syria. It is restricted to Regime Clans, Baathists and low class opportunistic, Intihazi’s of the Socialist fraud type that is the cause of the notorious corruption in Syria, as well as the degeneration of the Social fabric of Syria and people intellect.

“……….in particular Damascus, is now experiencing a modernization boom. As an American traveling to the region for the last decade, I’ve seen this evolution personally…”

What Syrians needs urgently now is not a bunch more KFC’s and Starbucks and whatever you referred to as modernization. I showed my 10 years old girl Tube videos of Syria real life, not the fake Vogue commercial, you should see the shock on her face and the scared expression he conveyed. To her Syria, using own words, “Syria is a Dump, this is like Ancient time we read about in books”. It is embarrassing to present today’s Syria to your child. In Syria we need real modernization of people minds and country infrastructures and institution, the rule of law, Political, Social and Economic Freedoms, we need Freedom of Expression, the right to guide and rule our Nation, and the right to express our ideas. Not more American garbage called KFC on each corner.

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February 25th, 2011, 2:37 pm

 

13. Nour said:

SNP,

How many religious sects operate in “Israel” vs. Syria? Keep in mind that “Israel” is essentially a Jewish state; meaning it is a state for Jews only, the superficial facade they have built to put a nice face on what is a criminal, cancerous, racist system notwithstanding. Moreover, “Israel” continues to occupy more Palestinian land and bring in Jews to live on that land while denying the Palestinians basic rights to live as humans only because they are the wrong kind of people. So your attempt to spin the reality of “Israel” into something attractive is quite astonishing.

As for modernization in Syria, yes of course development should not be confined to new cafes and restaurants but should reach all levels of social life. This is happening slowly in Syrian and we would all like to see it accelerated. But to call Syria a dump based on youtube videos that you’ve shown your daughter is nonsensical to say the least. Of course Syria is not as developed as western, more advanced nations, but in comparison to Syria 10 or 15 years ago there is a large difference. Moreover, calling all of Syria a dump is indicative of your total ignorance of what is going on in the country.

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February 25th, 2011, 2:59 pm

 

14. idit said:

It’s hard to imagine that a Vogue editor woke up this morning and decided it wouldn’t be hugely embarrassing to publish a puff piece today, at the moment of the greatest upheaval in the Middle East in two generations, about Syria’s ruling family.

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/25/Vogues_ridiculous_puff_piece_on_Syrias_ruling_family

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February 25th, 2011, 3:21 pm

 

15. AIG said:

Jad,

These puff pieces are counterproductive, especially in the current climate. See link in Iprevious comment.

Nour,

Your knowledge of Israel and the sects that freely operate here is very superficial.
Have you ever been for example to the Ba’ahi temple and gardens in Haifa?
http://www.ganbahai.org.il/en/

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February 25th, 2011, 3:26 pm

 

16. Jad said:

AIG, Stay away from me.

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February 25th, 2011, 3:37 pm

 

17. AKbar Palace said:

Alex, Professor Josh, I guess you answered the question I’ve been waiting for NewZ

It’s hard to imagine that a Vogue editor woke up this morning…

IDIT,

What ISN’T hard to imagine is that our Baathist sympathizer owners actually used it.

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February 25th, 2011, 3:43 pm

 

18. Nafdik said:

Jad,

You say that destructive attacks on president are not good.

Hoe about constructive attacks? How about telling him to stop all forms of violence against political demonstrators?

You read from last post that girls were beaten a few days ago because they demonstrated against kaddafi.

Here are some questions for you:

– is that justified?
– is it the duty of president to stop such acts?
– is he capable of stopping these acts?

You horrified that people are talking negatively against the first lady. Are you not horrified that our sisters and daughters are beaten like animals by baltajia?

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February 25th, 2011, 3:53 pm

 

19. Alex said:

Nafdik,

Vogue serving cold soup too?! : )

I’m joking. But I’m sure they are uncomfortable with the timing too.

Fluffy article or not, Syria has the smartest and hardest working Arab leader and first lady.

Now, let’s see how (and how fast) they can convince young Syrians to continue to believe in them instead of finding the revolutionary road more attractive.

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February 25th, 2011, 3:54 pm

 

20. AIG said:

Alex,

What would you advice Assad to do in order to convince young Syrians to continue giving him a chance?

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February 25th, 2011, 4:26 pm

 

21. darius said:

As much as I appreciate Asmaa, this is a silly PR piece.

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February 25th, 2011, 4:29 pm

 

22. jad said:

Dear Nafdik

“You say that destructive attacks on president are not good.”
No I wrote this “I don’t believe a destructive criticism or PERSONAL attack on the president and the first lady will do my COUNTRY any good” it’s a bit different from what you wrote since personal attack won’t solve any issue, I can curse anybody days and night but if I don’t communicate with him/her to solve the conflict nothing will happen.

“How about telling him to stop all forms of violence against political demonstrators?” defiantly I’m all for that.
“- is that justified?” NOT AT ALL, I wrote this in my comment, I think you missed this part:
“I’m against the corruption in Syria and against the unjust people are facing and I condemn all the security forces targeting citizens and I don’t believe in the one political party leading the country and I think the way we are treated by the government is horrible and we defiantly deserve a much better governing system”

– is it the duty of president to stop such acts? OF COURSE, it’s his job to do that, it’s his job to be part of the changes we all asking for.

– is he capable of stopping these acts? That I’m not fully sure of since the Syrian system is not run by one person and I’m not sure that the president by himself can do the change. President Bashar is not his father, I don’t see him as a dictator in anyway, I only see him as one element of a whole so how much power he can do is all not clear to me.

“You horrified that people are talking negatively against the first lady.”
I don’t think i wrote that I’m ‘horrified’ about people talking against the first lady, they can talk as much as they want, I’m asking for us all to be a bit more objectives in our views and judgments instead of being emotional dreamers and be absolutely blind of seeing facts. Do you think it was too much for me to ask people to be fair?

“Are you not horrified that our sisters and daughters are beaten like animals by baltajia?”
Yes I’m horrified to see any Syrian man or woman being beaten or hurt or humiliated by anyone anywhere for no reason.

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February 25th, 2011, 4:33 pm

 

23. Alex said:

AIG,

Beyond hoping for starting political reforms very soon and providing a clear-enough road map for the next few years, I don’t need to advice him … he understand his country better than anyone.

But I can advise others around him who are still mostly focused on security and not enough on progress… bravo for doing a great job despite all the regional chaos or violence… But the country has many more hopes beyond living in a secure place… take some chances … this is not 2005 when Syria was surrounded by enemies. Now Syria is much more comfortable. Time might be right for some more confidence in our ability to change.

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February 25th, 2011, 4:50 pm

 

24. Majhool said:

Jad,

Here in the US, Michelle Obama came under “media attack” when she went to here Spain vacation while many Americans were getting laid off.

This should not be taken as “personal attack”, this is merely, an act of “checks & balances”

Instead of appearing on “Vogue” for a western audience, many argue that she should appear and show solidarity with the Libyans (similar to her appearance on Gaza)

Alex,

Believing in, trusting, and glorifying an individual a couple, is hardly effective in safeguarding a nation’s future. People would rather put their trust in functional institutions with effective leaderships in all level in government.

The sought after reforms are not risky and not that costly, I believe the president should immediately
• Eliminate emergency law.
• Establish law for political parties. (No ethnic or religious parties allowed)
• Change the constitution (Eliminate the requirement for the president to be Muslim; put a 10 year limit on the presidency, eliminate the monopoly of power by Baath and Co. President to be elected by the parliament and ratified by the people; The army must be the Guardian of the new constitution)

Painless reforms in the big picture, and guess what, I would vote for him if he implement them .

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February 25th, 2011, 5:10 pm

 

25. Nafdik said:

Jad,

Thank you for your response and i think we agree on many points.

You have a curious position that i would love if you can elaborate on or correct me if i am mischaracterizing it.

You hate dictatorship but you quite like the dictator.

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February 25th, 2011, 5:33 pm

 

26. Akbar Palace said:

And I thought Zionists were Paranoid

… this is not 2005 when Syria was surrounded by enemies

Alex,

Israel doesn’t surround Syria. Which enemies are you referring to?

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February 25th, 2011, 5:34 pm

 

27. Nour said:

Majhool,

I agree with you that there needs to be more concrete reforms and at a faster pace, as the situation will not be forever sustainable. However, I don’t think we can assume that President Bashar al Assad can easily turn switches on or off on any of the issues you brought up. Elimination of the emergency law is an issue of top priority in my opinion, and I believe, whether or not I am misguided, that Bashar agrees with us. I believe he really does want to cancel the emergency law. However, this decision is not something he can make on his own, in my opinion. I believe the regime is bigger than Bashar and is made up of more complicated elements. If Bashar attempted to undo everything overnight it would probably cause serious instability within the regime itself. This is definitely not a healthy situation, but this is the situation that Bashar inherited. He didn’t create it, but now has to deal with it.

As for other reforms, there are multiple factors that Bashar, along with the regime as a whole, take into consideration. Do you really think Bashar minds if the constitution was changed to allow non-Muslims to become president? The problem, as the regime perceives it, whether they are right or not, is that such a change would cause an uproar within certain sectors of society, and it’s not something the regime is willing to risk at this moment. The idea is that with time, when people become more educated, more open-minded, and enjoy a higher standard of living, such changes become more easily achievable. Again, I would agree here that whatever time frame they have in mind, it better be sooner than later, because people cannot tolerate such a situation forever.

I do believe that there is a current campaign against corruption, but we cannot deny that the eradication of corruption will take at least a generation to achieve, as an entire generation was brought up on a corrupt lifestyle. Even if the entire regime was to fall right now, corruption would still manifest itself.

Most importantly, I fully agree that we need functional institutions to run the country and provide for the people. This, however, does not negate the fact that sometimes leaders are needed to lead the country toward developing better, more efficient institutions. Many Syrians feel that Bashar can serve as such a leader. Whether or not their feelings are justified remains to be seen.

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February 25th, 2011, 5:38 pm

 

28. Nafdik said:

Alex,

It is not a question of young syrians believing in any particular person. It is a question of syrian people believibg in themselves. Even washington, lincoln, de gaul and churchil had a time when they were not required to perform their services any more.

If you want people to keep bashar because they believe in him and curiously in his wife, then all they have to do is to present themselves as candidates. I think they have reached an age that the constitution would allow for.

But you want people both to not have the choice and to be happy with the choice they do not have.

As for vogue i agree that thier timing is sickening but in general the article is in line with what is published about any public rich persona.

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February 25th, 2011, 5:46 pm

 

29. majedkhaldoon said:

Corruption starts from top and then spread to the people around the dictator then spread to the security officers and then to the common people ,who became corrupt because they need to live and survive. corruption never start from bottom and then goes up. It will not take a generation to correct it once the top goes, corruption will disappear, it is a shaddow of dictatorship.
Never a dictator will lead reform, and we can not hope,or say if or when,dictators are rotten and will loose,
There is no good dictator they all bad
I doubt very much Gaddafi will last another week, he threatened to fight ,to kill , to burn , but what did we see ? he seems powerless,and his threats are empty,just words no action.
What we saw today in Iraq and Jordan is just great.
The Arab are revolting, they want freedom, and they want to unite

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February 25th, 2011, 6:09 pm

 

30. Nour said:

Majed:

In Iraq the top went, but the corruption stayed. Why do you suppose that is?

The point is that the top doesn’t come from outer space. It comes from the people. I see corruption manifested in all levels of society from top to bottom. Take a look at Lebanon where corruption is the rule of law everywhere you go, yet there is no single dictator with security officers.

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February 25th, 2011, 6:18 pm

 

31. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

@NOUR
“………..How many religious sects operate in “Israel” vs. Syria? Keep in mind that “Israel” is essentially a Jewish state; meaning it is a state for Jews only, the superficial facade they have built to put a nice face on what is a criminal, cancerous, racist system notwithstanding…”

No, Israel is not essentially a Jewish State, as you would define religion. Jewish State, means a State for the Jews, a homeland, this is essential to the continuity of a Jewish nation, as the rabbis for millennia’s worked very long and hard on creating this concept and instill it in Jewish Tribal mind. Without it, Judaism will have long disappeared off the earth just as Aramaic Nation of Syria, language and culture did when a vicious intolerant nomadic Bedouins came out of Arabia and attacked Syria. Jews were scattered all over the earth and that concept of Judaism, the Rabbi invented really, with so much fakery, borrowing and emblemizing is what kept the focus on restoring Nationhood for the Jews, It was not Zionism that did that, these just hijacked and corrupted the noble mission, used it to rob-nations.

In Israel, even if you are Christian, Buddhist, Sunni or Jew, communist, Socialist, Capitalist, Zionist or whatever, can legally get elected to Kensett and even hold a Ministerial portfolio. Arabs do hold Ministries and serve in the Diplomatic corps in Israel now. While in Syria, unless you are a Baathists, you cannot run for ant position in Syria, not even local janitor at elementary school. You cannot become an ambassador, a University President. Unless you are nominated by the Baath Party, you may not nominate yourself for Presidency; you cannot hold sensitive or important Military position or rank. That is not the case in Israel, where even Druze can hold top military command post in Israel.

In Syria, unless you are one of Seven Front scam, so called Socialist and Arab Socialist parties, a fraud font really (MURTAZAQA-INTIHAZIYEH) that was set up by Assad to rubber stamp his ill policies, you have no right to exercise anything Westover. According to Syria Baathists Law, you are not a human basically, in fact Baathist Security treat you as such.

You cannot even compare the outstanding level or representation and democracy available in Israel to any other country, it is one of the best ever implemented, despite the fact that is a Jewish State. Most of Europe is Monarchy owned you can still have a democratic and reasonably modern state. You may hate what they did in Lebanon and Gaza. If you do, if you are the type of person that is concerned about these war crimes, you may want to first voice your complaints about the war crimes and genocides committed by Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the files in my position is beyond war crime level. You may also voice your complaint about the Hijacking of Revolutions in the Middle East, now in progress through puppeteers and hired agents. You may want to demand transparency in disclosing all the gold and wealth amassed by the deposed tyrants that the West confiscate their assets and accounts, demand that it be transparent and do return to the nation’s treasuries that was stolen from, not back into the pocket of the new puppets and hired ones. There are a lot you can voice your concern about than a fictitious or in comparison, superficial in nature, Israeli abusive policies. Western support to dictators and nation robbers should be your first priority, as this is the main reason the Middle East and Syria are under impoverished conditions, except for the ruling clicks that are supported by the devious Westerners. Israel joining the fray of despotism support will, in the end, deliver to it the final judgment promised to them by their own Prophets.

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February 25th, 2011, 6:28 pm

 

32. Nour said:

SNP,

We all know that the Baath party is a dictatorial party that has brought a corrupt system to Syria. But that is a political matter tied to a larger social issue which is part of Syria’s overall development. The fact is Syrians are not robbing someone else’s land and denying those people the right to live there. They are not forcefully evicting an indigenous people from their land and they are not expropriating land that does not belong to them in order to implant in it their kind of people.

You are impressed by a facade in “Israel” that does not tell the real story of the Jewish state. Let’s not forget that this is the same state in which its own foreign minister stated that the non-Jewish “Israelis” will have to find their future outside of “Israel”. It is a state that occupies land the people of which are refused the right to live there as citizens because they are not the right kind of people. So yes, it is a Jewish state and a state for the Jews only. The fact that non-Jews can run in the Knesset is totally immaterial as it doesn’t change anything in the overall reality of the Jewish state. Jews enjoy more rights than non-Jews, they have more money spent on them by the state, and are allowed to live on and purchase property that non-Jews are simply not permitted to own. There is a clear and blatant social and institutional racism in “Israel” that is part and parcel of the state. So if you see this is the greatest example of democracy I don’t know what to tell you.

As far as American crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, who says we don’t speak out against it. The US has committed numerous egregious crimes against other peoples and other nations. However, the US system allows for anyone, regardless of race, religion, or national origin to become an American equal in rights and duties to all other American citizens. This is also true in European nations, where the concept of nationhood and citizenship is not based on racist or tribal understandings, as it is in “Israel”.

Syria is a natural society made up of many origins which have come together and formed a single society. While the Baath is controlling the country in an oppressive manner, it is still true that all Syrians are treated equally by the state, regardless of race or religion. Furthermore, the Baath is not a race, religion, or tribal group. It is a political party that has attempted to impose itself and its ideology on Syrian society over many years. There is no doubt that their hegemony over Syrian political life must end, but this in no way compares to an entity who is built on the destruction and ethnic cleansing of another people.

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February 25th, 2011, 6:50 pm

 

33. Shami said:

What a despicable hypocrisy from bashar and asma. Syria Will be in need of the billions stolen by bashar , father , uncles , cousins , mother ..bashar will pay for the crimes done by his protectors,if his aim Is to struggle as dictator for life.
Nour again , the majority of syrians are not corrupt people, those are the most corrupt and criminal not only in Syria but on earth.

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February 25th, 2011, 6:59 pm

 

34. jad said:

Dear Majhool
“Instead of appearing on “Vogue” for a western audience, many argue that she should appear and show solidarity with the Libyans”

Good point, however, I personally don’t see the first lady as a true politician, therefore I won’t judge her words and actions according to the political realm and I won’t ask her to take such stands when true politicians in Syria are sitting back and watching, what political gain would she get doing such move of supporting Libyans while she is not doing the same for Syrians on that subject. I’d rather be more reasonable and support her effort on education, culture and empowering women in Syria than listening to couple empty emotional words of support.

Dear Nafdik
“You quite like the dictator” if that what you got from my comments of asking people to be objective not emotional (Love/Hate) in their judgment then you need new pairs of reading glasses my friend 🙂 because in all my comments for three years now I never mentioned that I like anybody, especially politicians, I’m more of emotionless person toward them, icy cold that is 😉

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February 25th, 2011, 7:05 pm

 

35. Shami said:

As for the interview of abdelnour of all4syria , ,i’ m positively impressed by his objectivity.
Chapeau!

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February 25th, 2011, 7:13 pm

 

36. majedkhaldoon said:

Nour;
In Iraq the top are very corrupt,and they came with american occupation it is equivalent to dictatorship, As far as Lebanon it is a dictatorship of war lords,However I have never been stopped in Lebanon by a police requesting bribe,and you do not need to bribe an official to build a hotel or build a factory.
Syrian people are not corrupt by nature, when there is just judicial system,corruption will be down to minimum, in Syria corruption is rampant,and they are not ashamed of it,they say it publicly,Hafez Asad stole too much money from oil revenue and said it is in safe hands,in other word he admited that he took those billions

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February 25th, 2011, 7:21 pm

 

37. jad said:

Dear Shami,
Are you seriously impressed with Mr. Abdelnour ‘cut&paste’ views and ‘objectivity’?
He is no more than wannabe politician opportunist, besides, his website front page has a special place for the First Lady activities that you just bashed 2 seconds ago who is the real hypocrite you think?

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February 25th, 2011, 7:25 pm

 

38. Mossad Watch said:

In US, a country where the mainstream media is almost completely controlled by zionists, this piece is a breakthrough. Part of that breakthrough is precisely because it IS puffery. Pure Apple Pie America. Portraying Assad and his wife as not only NOT arab terrorists, but as a normal, modern, smart, progressive, indeed SYMPATHETIC couple is exactly what all those years of zionist paid shills on internet, million dollar Megaphone fake commenters etc have tried so hard to suppress. It is soft power extraordinaire.

Years ago, a very chic Palestinian lady sat me down in class in Ramallah and explained how getting a new image for their leader- instead of Arafat’s alienating scruffy dirty look- would go infinitely farther than alot of guns and powder. (Said loudly with a Hamas teacher clearly hovering and listening in.)

She intuited the “power of hearts and minds”, to use the perp’s own lingo. My guess is this Vogue item is a one-off, novelty piece just for those reasons. Many more articles like this, and the long running “Arab terrorist” delegitimization ad campaign run for decades by Israel & Co (which ends up justifying constant war on “arab terrorist” countries), could be tossed out with the dish water. A Damascene Donna Reed would be Herzliya’s worst nightmare.
Not all battles can be fought in the same way. This Wurlitzer has a broad range of keys.

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February 25th, 2011, 7:25 pm

 

39. Alex said:

Nafdik, Majhool,

Please note that the interview was done Christmas time … “…There’s a decorated Christmas tree”.

That was before Libya or Egypt. It was probably planned a couple of months earlier … maybe September or October.

So when I questioned the timing, I was referring to Vogue’s decision to publish the story this month, which also is a decision that was probably taken before Libya … sometime last month.

As for Majhool’s suggested list of “immediate” reforms … I obviously generally like it, since I already suggested most of them many times on this and other forums, but the “immediate” part is subject to what “the regime” … or the different centers of power, would find manageable. I really do not think they will go that far on March 8th this year.

I don’t mind if they start with “sufficient” reforms as long as they produce a road map for the rest over the next few years.

There are two main areas of interest … internal reforms, and the peace (war?) process.

Netanyahu: If Syria wants peace, we will be a genuine partner

http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=209806

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February 25th, 2011, 7:40 pm

 

40. Alex said:

Will Syria become more democratic?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022505001_pf.html

By David Ignatius
Friday, February 25, 2011;

DAMASCUS, SYRIA

The rise and fall of a protest demonstration here recently shows that Syrians share the yearning for dignity that’s sweeping the Arab world – and also illustrates why President Bashar al-Assad so far hasn’t been threatened by this tide of anger.

Here’s what happened on Feb. 19, according to accounts provided separately by a Western diplomat and a Syrian official: A policeman insulted a driver in downtown Damascus; when the man protested, he was beaten by the cop, who was joined by two others. It was the sort of harsh encounter with authority that Arabs swallowed, bitterly but passively, until the surge of anger in Tunisia and Egypt.

A crowd of hundreds quickly gathered in the Damascus street and began chanting. According to a diplomat who has reviewed tape recordings of the incident, the chants roughly translated: “We are the people. The people don’t want to be humiliated.” People in the crowd videotaped the action with their cellphones and posted the drama on the Internet.

It was a volatile situation. Then something interesting happened, which shows how closely the authorities are monitoring events: The minister of the interior arrived on the scene about 30 minutes after the protest started, apologized to the beaten man and took him away in his car. The police officers were reprimanded. The crowd eventually dispersed, and some (perhaps with official encouragement) began chanting in favor of Assad.

The government did another sensible thing: Rather than try to suppress information about the event (which would have been futile, in any event), the government allowed the videos to circulate widely on the Internet. People shared their anger about police abuses, but the rage doesn’t seem to have focused on the leader, as has been the case in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Syria is a paradox in this Arab season of revolt. It has an authoritarian regime dominated by a corrupt Baath Party – a relic of the age of dictators that is being swept away in so many other countries. But President Assad, relatively young at 45 and wrapped in the popular banner of resistance to Israel and America, hasn’t yet been affected.

Is Syria next? That’s impossible to predict at a time when, as an Arab proverb puts it, “the artery of shame has ruptured.” The answer depends on whether the Assad regime is able to make reforms – and move as quickly as it did a week ago in responding to that street demonstration.

The French, who probably know this country better than most outsiders, view Assad as relatively secure. “In the short to medium term, the probability of revolution is extremely low in Syria compared to other countries,” is how one official describes the French perspective.

An intriguing debate is underway among Assad’s advisers about whether he should allow more democracy and openness – something he has long claimed he wants – or keep the controls fastened tight. The reformers argue that change will enhance Assad’s popularity, while the security establishment counters that concessions now would be a sign of weakness – and empower the Muslim Brotherhood.

Assad must decide soon whether to allow real parties – other than the Baath and its various fronts – to compete in elections this year. Syria has both municipal and parliamentary elections scheduled for this year, and the question is whether there will be real, open balloting for candidates and parties, or a Soviet-style, rubber-stamp version, as in the past. Another opportunity for a shake-up is a congress of the Baath Party also planned for this year.

Reformers hope that Assad will amend the constitution so that it doesn’t require Baath rule and instead allows inter-party competition. “If we have different political parties, it’s healthy for the Baath, which is slowing down and getting distanced from the people,” argues one Syrian reformer.

Corruption is also a volatile issue here. The regime is vulnerable because Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhluf, is the dominant shareholder of the lucrative cellphone franchise known as Syriatel. Assad is considering whether Makhluf should reduce his interest to make way for foreign investment, according to two knowledgeable people. But that reform move could trigger a rift within his family.

The debate among Assad’s inner circle mirrors the wider political battles that are rocking the Arab world. For now, the streets of Damascus are mostly full of shoppers, not protesters. But if the experience of other countries over the past two months shows anything, it’s that delaying reform too long in a one-party state like Syria is potentially a fatal mistake.

davidignatius@washpost.com

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February 25th, 2011, 7:58 pm

 

41. Mossad Watch said:

Vogue is a FASHION Magazine, it is not meant to be political, or Nat Geo or Foreign Policy. In the Vogue article, the Assads are being deliciously mainstreamed counter to all the zionist’s arab-hate baiting propaganda. This positive puff piece hits an ‘average American’ demographic that is usually never allowed to perceive Axis of Evil Doer’s in any other way. It springs a leak; it opens a door.

Vogue layout is a Win in the PR goodwill game, no doubt about it. If we could get a great Syrian rap group on the top 40, we’d really be in business.

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February 25th, 2011, 7:59 pm

 

42. Mossad Watch said:

.

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February 25th, 2011, 8:02 pm

 

43. Nafdik said:

Jad,

Hypocrite, wanna be politician, opportunist, cu paste views!!!

These are strong words from somebody who does not like to engage in personality politics.

As for your response to my questions you seem very fond of defensive parsing of language to avoid real discussion.

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February 25th, 2011, 8:03 pm

 

44. Majhool said:

Alex,

There are two kinds of risks to the reforms above.. and lets be frank here:

1) Radical Islamic movements that if in power could potentially suppress individual freedoms in religion and day-to-day behavior.
2) Corrupt and powerful people may lose income and power.

Now, the list of basic reforms above mitigate Risk 1. A Strong Army lead by the existing establishment and a limiting party law that will force radicals to soften their aspirations.

Risk 2, is real since freedom of speech and press will cut their wings a bit. However this risk does not concern the citizenry. In fact that is what we want.

To wait 3-4 years is asking for street protests and a blood bath. Inability to act now will demonstrate lack of leadership let alone conspiracy against the well being of the syrian people.

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February 25th, 2011, 8:20 pm

 

45. Shami said:

Dear Jad , i dont know Abdelnour well and if opportunistic he is ,under the current syrian context it’s understandable because such behavior is likely motivated by the necessity more than by the conviction.

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February 25th, 2011, 8:21 pm

 

46. Syria1 said:

It’s really frustrating to see the fervor against this article and need to tie Syria into the unrest sweeping the region. Why does Syria, who has always marched to its own drum, have to be the next to fall? Granted the country isn’t perfect and there are major faults with the government but isn’t 2011 better than 2001 better than 1991 better than 1981? Isn’t that the real reason that the day of wrath is wishful thinking?

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February 25th, 2011, 9:00 pm

 

47. Alex said:

Majhool,

Your two types of risk are not the only ones, but they are among the more serious.

There will be people who resist change … no matter what you change. Not only the powerful resist. For example, reducing government’s subsidies causes unhappiness and might lead to demonstrations… cutting down the army’s budget will make many officers unhappy (and not only because of corruption related reasons) … improving the legal system should scare every corrupt businessman, and not only the ones who are close to the regime…

I would be very surprised if a road map for reforms over the next few years would necessarily lead to blood bath as you suggested. And again, I really hope there will be one.

Read David Ignatius’ opinion piece above. He estimates Syria would not be next for a few more years at least.. he is quoting French experts.

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February 25th, 2011, 9:12 pm

 

48. Atassi said:

I am not a French expert!! But the article has a clear warning from a known expert to the regime to reform, a warning to the Baath reinvent itself, and an advice for the leader to support the aspirations of ALL citizens.
Will the future of this regime existence be depended on its excellent record of successfully maneuverings while suppressing the opposing side?maybe not this time

Will we ever recognize the fact that a true democracy and tyranny can’t coexist in one place!!

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February 25th, 2011, 10:27 pm

 

49. Majhool said:

Alex,

You spoke of the manageability of reform from the point of view of the regime

This manageability assessment is also two parts: legitimate and illegitimate

If the regime is saying we can’t manage the reform/change because we will no longer steal billions or we will have to share some power, obviously that’s illegitimate.

one the other hand, if the regime have concerns and managing risks similar to those i mentioned, then obviously the risk is low.

controversial non-political reforms such as reducing the size of the army or eliminating subsidies are easier to carry out when the government is more democratic.

When Bush was threatening Syria in 2005-2006, The Syrian Ambassador to the US was selling the promise of gradual reforms as well. He spoke of new Party law and promised it will be signed into law soon.

As the pressure eased the talk of political reform came to a halt.

If interested I can post Mr. Mustapha’s speach.

A road map should look like that

1) Announce the road Map April 2011
2) End of emergency Law June 2011
3) Change the constitution October 2011
4)Party Law January 2012

People’s assembly Elections Late 2012
Presidency elections 2013
Bashar would be elected again for 5 years for the last time. This is 18 years in power !!

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February 26th, 2011, 2:33 am

 

50. why-discuss said:

AIG, AP, Shai

I would love to see Netanyahu or Peres or Barak “first” ladies, why are they so secluded? ?
We only hear about extra marital scandals in the political world.
Is the Israeli society reluctant to see the family life of its leaders, why?

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February 26th, 2011, 3:40 am

 

51. Nicholas92300 said:

There is news from back home (Aleppo), that the president is planning to physically spend more time in the city – some talk about him permanently moving there but. This is the famous Aleppo exaggeration. This is also linked to the recent sacking of the head of the municipality in the city over accusations of corruption. The ex-head was considered close to the president and even a personal friend by some accounts. Anyone heard something similar? It would be an interesting development, as those who know Aleppo, know that corruption is quite a major issue there even more than other places given the amount if wealth and influence of merchant families there. Could this be the president’s way of calming the masses instead of the major reforms announce,net which can even be seen as concessiosn at this criticalvtime in the region?? A suivre…

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February 26th, 2011, 4:51 am

 

52. Parent said:

I wonder how Ms Asma Al Akhras would feel or do, if her young daughter were to be arrested, charged, sentenced, and prisoned, without having a decent legal recouse to defend her, and then her family name to be denigrated by an official statement from the foreign ministry.
Shame on you Asma, and more shame on your pedantic husband to let such an atrocity be committed, in the name of respecting “state of laws”.
A nation is a group of people who share common human values and share respect for each other. State laws should be subservient.
My heart goes to the mother and father of Tal Al malluhi.
God is greater.

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February 26th, 2011, 6:28 am

 

53. Nafdik said:

Any gradual reform program will be interrupted by a revolution.

Bashar & co understand this, that i s why we had no reform in 10 years and we will not in another 10.

The reason gradual reforms are impossible are:

– reforms imply gradual shift of power to the people
– once the power balance arrives at slight advantage to the people over the dictator a revolution will occur

Calling for reforms is a drug that we have been injecting for the last 10 years, it is time to call for the immediate departurebof the regime.

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February 26th, 2011, 7:26 am

 

54. MONTAGNARD said:

Talking about reform.
Egyptian cleric Ousama Kousy answering questions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXt_V386Tnw&feature=player_embdded

My question to all: Should the constitution be amended to allow all Syrians to hold office including Presidency and Prime Minister posts, and serve their country in public office regardless of their religion and ethnicity?
What other amendments do you suggest?

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February 26th, 2011, 8:25 am

 

55. Ghat Al Bird said:

While individual expressions may contribute to understanding and/or rejectiono of a point of view it is criminal to promote certain civil actions in one society while living in another or confined to an air conditioned office.

These types of personal expressions reminds one of a certain Podhoretz (aka the father in law of Elliot Abrams ( both Zionists ) an advisor to President Bush who publicly demanded in the WSJ from Bush to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

The emotional times the Arab world is experiencing while in most instances is overdue it behooves all to be sensitive and cautious as the actions they propose “must happen” in country S while living in country A or propagandized in some manner by country I or other.

To all actively working within their own country, Khalil Gobran’s quote may be applicable “ask not what your country can do for you its what you can do for your country”. Salams to all.

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February 26th, 2011, 8:41 am

 

56. Jad said:

Nafdik #43
You sound as if you are more interested in arguing than having a discussion. I already answered all your questions.
Regarding Abdelnour; I judge his hypocrisy through personal experience so spare your sarcasm to somebody else.

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February 26th, 2011, 8:45 am

 

57. Parent said:

NAFDIK,
I share your pessimism.
Gradual reform is a feature of democratic societies. It results from piling up of public pressure on obliging, elected bodies.

Dictators, like late Asad Sr, and his heir Asad Jr start as reformists. They gradually become prisnors of their self righteousness, which is further reinforced by the cheering inner circuit.

I have seen it again and again. Ceausescu’s wife, prior to her excusion, could not comprehend how the revolting people were not appreciative of her family’s “contributions” to Rumania.

Dictators only way out has been aptly, virtually and literally dmonstrated, by the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

Is it comming to Syria? The latest transient stand-off between the police and youth of the business quarter of the old city in Damascus, traditionally known for being conservative, and highly accommodating speaks of a volatile situation.

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February 26th, 2011, 9:21 am

 

58. Nafdik said:

Thank you montagard. You made my day.

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February 26th, 2011, 9:36 am

 

59. Norman said:

Ghat,

I thought Kennedy said that , You lived in Libya at one time , that is my understanding, it must be hard for you see what is happening there ,

To all of you,

What are the things that make minorities fear Democracy?

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February 26th, 2011, 9:42 am

 

60. Norman said:

MONTAGNARD,

Ethnicity and color and religion blind constitution , no set aside or quotas,
one more , adopt the US constitution apparently everybody in the Mideast wants to come to the US ,so bring the US to them,with all it’s laws,they work here in a country as diverse as the Arab world , chose a state and take it’s local laws and political system.

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February 26th, 2011, 9:47 am

 

61. Parent said:

Ghat Al Bird,
People from country S happened to live in country A because they could not find a decent job or a way of life for their families or parentas in country S.
Money transfers of hard working Syrian exapts to their families back home, is what keeps the lid on a 40% jobless rate. It is not the freak economic reforms or the oil money that goes to Asad’s account.
Yes I have the both a right and obligation.

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February 26th, 2011, 9:58 am

 

62. Ghat Al Bird said:

NORMAN: Thanks. Kennedy did say it. But Khalil said first in one of his books.

Libya is really made of 3 separate identifiable regions. The Fezzan (southern part) Cyraniaca ( eastern part ) and Tripolitania ( western part ) According to some experts there are over 120 different tribes. So in many ways its a special and different kind of country than its neighbors.

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February 26th, 2011, 10:13 am

 

63. sami said:

is it only me or what…the PR is used so much these days by the president and his wife. soon it will worn out and reality will show when the nice and educated president starts killing his own people. what i can understand is that the president is changing his image to the peaceful father. he is left then with two options: either to turn around to his real nature (Gaddaifi like) or get thrown out by his criminal brother and his in laws.

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February 26th, 2011, 10:23 am

 
 

65. Nafdik said:

Norman,

I am not sure if minorities fear democracies in the general case. But they certainky do in syria and other arab countries.

The fear is from an islamist ideology party that will be democratically elected.

In the worst scenario the following will happen:

– the islamists change the constitutio as to hijack the democracy and prevent future democratic elections as was the case with communist russia and iran.

– the islamists will create laws that will hamper personal freedoms so that the people move from political serfdom under a secular dictator to personal serfdom under a populist theocracy.

Examples will be closing of night clubs, churches, artistic freedoms, women freedoms, religious freedom, etc.

I think that this is a real risk but that the chances of this are too low and we should take that gamble as a nation rather than keep waiting for ‘reforms’ from a family mafia. And this applies to all non-liberated arab countries,

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February 26th, 2011, 12:08 pm

 

66. Norman said:

Nafdik,

What are the things, if any, in your opinion that the Islamic parties have to do to decrease that fear .
I think that the Christian democratic parties of the EU are open to all to join, should that or that will be the case for the Islamic parties of Arabia.

Can the army play as the guarantor of the constitution and the protector of minority rights or not.

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February 26th, 2011, 1:00 pm

 

67. Badr said:

Nafdik @ 51,

Didn’t Turkey go through a long gradual reform process overseen by the army?

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February 26th, 2011, 1:13 pm

 

68. Aatssi said:

CAIRO (Reuters) – Future presidents of Egypt will only be allowed to stay in office for eight years according to constitutional amendments that will open up competition for the position held for three decades by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.

The proposed amendments outlined on Saturday by a judicial committee appointed by Egypt’s ruling military council will be put to a referendum ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections that will hand power back to a civilian government.

Mubarak was serving in his fifth, six-year term when he was toppled on February 11, forced from office by a mass uprising driven in large part by demands for reform to put an end to the one-man rule that has defined Egyptian government for decades.
=================================================================

This should be a number one amendment in syria…NO MORE for life president. DONE with that

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February 26th, 2011, 1:13 pm

 

69. Akbar Palace said:

Aatssi said:

This should be a number one amendment in syria…NO MORE for life president. DONE with that

Really? Whose going to break the news to Bashar?

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February 26th, 2011, 1:31 pm

 

70. Shami said:

Habibi Jad,
Regardless of the real character of Abdelnour ,do you agree that the answers he gave to France 24 shows objectivity that contrasted with usual bad excuses used by Bashar in order to avoid the needed reforms ?

Opportunismim is understandable(corruption is not) under the context imposed by the regime,we can not ask the people who want change and live in Syria to be as brave than Antoun Makdissi,Michel Kilo ,Riad Seif ,Riad Turk ,Aref Dalila…

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February 26th, 2011, 1:55 pm

 

71. shirin said:

Hi all. I just want to clarify something. A Muslim veil is not forbidden in the Syrian universities. What is forbidden is only the face’s cover inside the university. ( some Muslim women like to cover their faces besides covering their hair )
All people in Syria of different religions and beliefs are free to practice their religious practices as long as they respect the law and respect other people.
People of different religions respect and love and help each other, and above all they love their beloved country. Because of all that and for many other reasons I like to say: I’m very proud to be Syrian

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February 26th, 2011, 1:59 pm

 

72. Shai said:

Why Discuss,

Re: Your Comment #50.

Peres’s wife just passed away. Netanyahu’s Sarah is well-known in Israel, usually very negatively criticized by the media, and looks nothing like Asma Assad… 🙂

Barak recently divorced, and married his high-school sweetheart. She too has come under media attack, mostly for hiring an illegal (foreign) worker, and for influencing former clients to donate to her husband’s campaign (she’s a business consultant).

Israeli media would be very happy to talk about our first lady, but unfortunately, we don’t have our own Asma…

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February 26th, 2011, 2:08 pm

 

73. Shami said:

Thank you Montagnard,

Please notice :THERE SHOULD BE NO RELIGIOUS STATE ACCORDING TO ISLAM.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXt_V386Tnw&feature=player_embdded

Clerical theocracy is an heresy according to Islam.

And this stupid requirement that the president of Syria must be a muslim will be amended.

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February 26th, 2011, 2:52 pm

 

74. Ghat Al Bird said:

AP asks in #64.

Whose going to break the news to Bashar?

It will take someone who definitely believes in the inequality of humans and are committed to the belief that they are a lot, lot smarter than the Arabs Say some one like Rabbi Fischer. Who is quoted as having said, “If we Jews are anything, we are a people of history … Our history provides the strength to know that we can be right and the whole world wrong.”

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February 26th, 2011, 2:56 pm

 

75. Akbar Palace said:

Freedom of the Press NewZ

Israeli media would be very happy to talk about our first lady…

…as long as it’s negative.;)

Hi Ghat,

I’m not sure who Rabbi Fischer is? Is he someone you know? I hope he’s not a racist like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other “jihadists” you love so much.

Instead of focusing on some rabbi you don’t know, I would focus on the Government of Israel, where freedom of speech, religion, and voting are guaranteed for all Israelis.

BTW – Ghat, when do you predict Israeli Arabs will start demonstrating against the Israeli government? Why do you suppose they haven’t?

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February 26th, 2011, 2:56 pm

 

76. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Help… Does anyone here know the name of that brave hero, Tunisian grad student/ street vendor who set himself on fire? in the start of it all. Any info about him, his parents address etc. will be helpful please. We like to find out if his parents need any support.

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February 26th, 2011, 4:23 pm

 
 

78. Nafdik said:

Norman,

I think that the fear from islamists will be tested in egypt. If egypt moves to a democracy and the mb keeps its moderate stance then the fear will drop.

One thing that is very important in syria is to have a clear religious concensus from trusted authority that the allawis are not kuffar and that they will be allowed to live in peace and have full religious freedoms guaranteed. Ideally the mb should have a clear position on this.

Beyond that there needs to be a religious philosophy that makes islam compatible with a modern liberal state:

– allow muslims to change religions
– freedom for athiests
– rights of non-muslim women who marry muslim men
– rights for muslim women who want to marry non-muslim men
– equality between men and women in all matters
– freedom for cartoonists 🙂

Can a modern interpretation nof islam allow all of the above? I am sure it can.
Are there enough people who both belive in these ideas and are capable of having moral sway over the population. I am not sure.

So what i suspect will happen is that we will have a moderate religious party that is mid-way between a theocracy and the liberal views above and as long as this party does not modify the constitution to block other ideas liberals will have to fight that party for votes and the govenrment policies will be a compromise.

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February 26th, 2011, 4:34 pm

 

79. Nafdik said:

Badr,

I do not have anough knowldge of turkish history so my answer below could be mistaken.

My understanding is that the turkish army while being anti-democratic was generally working for the interest of turkey since ataturk days.

In syria the army is the source of the problem and the assads have collaborated with it on looting the country and murdering its people. So the syrian army is the problem and i doubt it can be the solution.

Having said that we saw the army playing a very positive role in egypt and tunisia even though especially in egypt the army was a party in the dictatorship.

In syria we have the additional complication that the army is mostly allawi and that makes it a very biased institution that does not represent the majority of syrian people.

(i am not saying that allawis do not have a role in building the new syria, but that an institution that practiced sectarian discrimination is not a trustworthy one)

To contradict myself again, in the final analysis, if we want to avoid civil war, we need to neutralize the army. A model can be developed where the army keeps some privilages and protects the minorities especially the allawis from counter discrimination. In exchange the army has to join the people in throwing out the dictatorship.

From a practical prespective how can we divorce the army from the regime? There does not seem to be any strong leadership in the army that can conduct independent action. There is no political movement that can galvanize the officer class.

The only way to get this from the army seem to be through bashar himself. Then we are back to square 1 where we are asking the dictator himself to plan the revolution.

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February 26th, 2011, 5:12 pm

 

80. majedkhaldoon said:

I tried to call Syria today,around 4pm newYork time and I was told that all phones were blocked for several minutes,did anyone else had the same problem?

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February 26th, 2011, 9:16 pm

 

81. Norman said:

Majid,

I thought that everybody uses Skype, don’t you?.

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February 26th, 2011, 10:13 pm

 

82. NK said:

Nafdik

# 72

You can’t compare the societies in Egypt and Syria, Syrians are way more secular than Egyptians. And while the MB might represent 20-30% of the Egyptian society, in Syria, I think 10% is a much more realistic number.

The idea that minorities in Syria will be repressed if the current regime is to fall is blown way out of proportions.

Also, the idea that Islam is not compatible with a modern liberal state is not true, and people should stop spreading this kind of Fox-news propaganda. The west keeps depicting Iran and Saudi Arabia as a model of what Islam and an Islamic state is and will look like. Most Muslims will agree that those two are not a model to be followed, and both are way off when it comes to Islamic teachings and values. Just because they call themselves Islamic doesn’t mean they really are.

– allow Muslims to change religions
A lot of Islamic scholars talked about this, I’m not going to start a debate here, but you can google it and find out for yourself that Muslims are indeed allowed to change their religion. Anyways, it might be of interest for you to know that, in Syria, Christians are not allowed to change their religion aswell, in Syria religion is not the problem, laws are not the problem, culture and traditions are the problem.

– freedom for atheists
I personally have few atheist friends in Syria, as far as I know they enjoy the same rights as anyone else under the law, I’m not sure about this point, but I think the Syrian law will not recognize them as atheists but will label them as whatever religion they or their ancestors had at some point. Anyways, in Islam, Atheists are not to be harmed in any way shape or form just because they’re atheists, you can google this aswell and read for yourself. And once again, in Syria, religion is not the problem, laws are not the problem, culture and traditions are.

– rights of non-muslim women who marry muslim men
This right is a given, and Islam gives them equal rights to muslim wives. However, those poor women will most likely be murdered by their families for marrying a Muslim. Culture and Tradition!.

– rights for muslim women who want to marry non-muslim men
Even though this is prohibited in Islam, the government should not stand in the way of such a marriage. I’m not sure there’s any laws in Syria that prohibit such a marriage and sadly there’s no way for me to find out any time soon, but I really hope there isn’t one. But regardless, our society have to come a long way in order to accept this marriage, because just as the previous case, if such a marriage is to take place, the poor woman will most likely end up being murdered by her family.

– equality between men and women in all matters
I’m pretty sure Syrian women already enjoy equal rights in pretty much everything, I’m pretty sure most Syrians wouldn’t mind extending those rights to cover ALL matters. Again the Saudi Arabia style of Islam is exactly what Islam is not, and is rejected by the majority of Muslims in Syria.

– freedom for cartoonists
I think you’re referring to the cartoonist that depicted prophet Mohammad as a terrorist, In that case those cartoonists have absolutely no rights when it comes to this issue for the following reasons :
1- In 1942, the Supreme Court sustained the conviction of a Jehovah’s witness who addressed a police officer as a “God dammed racketeer” and “a damned facist” (Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire). The Court’s opinion in the case stated that there was a category of face-to-face epithets, or “fighting words,” that was wholly outside of the protection of the First Amendment: those words “which by their very utterance inflict injury” and which “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas.”
2- Those cartoons didn’t only depict the prophet as a terrorist, but they meant to depict Islam and all Muslims as terrorists, which is not only derogatory, but also promotes prejudice against 1.5 Billion Muslims world-wide.

So in this case this wasn’t a freedom of speech issue, this guy should be persecuted for committing a hate crime. Islam in itself has no laws regarding those cartoons, those cartoons were just disrespectful to Muslims and Islam, to say the least.

So, the tldr version, in Syria, Islam and religion is not the problem, culture, tradition, and the society as a whole is what needs to evolve. All those theories about sectarianism, and the danger the regime is protecting minorities from, are just a bunch of lies that the regime planted to ensure its own survival.

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February 26th, 2011, 11:44 pm

 

83. Akbar Palace said:

Time to Throw Up NewZ

And now for the “Irony of the Day”:

Erdoğan Accepts “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights”

or my translation:

How the UN and their accomplices made a terrorist whole again

(Just a mere 3 months ago)

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2011/02/erdogan-accepts-al-gaddafi-international-prize

http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/05/13/libya-wins-seat-on-un-human-rights-council/

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February 26th, 2011, 11:54 pm

 

84. NK said:

Majhool

#49

The road map you suggested looks good and all, however, how do you think Bashar can stay in power in 2013, for another term, after a change to the constitution?.
Any meaningful change to the Syrian constitution should change the way the president is elected, reduce the duration of the term, and limit the number of terms a president can serve. Bashar in 2013 will most likely violate all of these conditions !!! ( I’m assuming the change is meaningful and is not something like, the president is elected every 10 years, and can run 3 times ).

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February 27th, 2011, 12:15 am

 

85. majedkhaldoon said:

UN resolution #1970 is certainly a good one for freedom,it means that if a regime kill civilian while demonstrating against the regime, the dictator assets will be frozen,and he will not be able to travel, and he will be turned to the criminal court at the UN.,this apply to him and his family and the people supporting him,.This apply to Gaddafi only now.
While this will not prevent civilian killing,it will deter the dictators,if they think rationlly,it will diminish the FEAR factor among the people.
Anything that help the cause of freedom is welcomed.

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February 27th, 2011, 5:08 am

 

86. why-discuss said:

Shai
re: Asma Al Assad

Thanks, I think Syrians are lucky !

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February 27th, 2011, 6:01 am

 

87. Shai said:

WD,

Yes they are…

But a great first-lady isn’t enough. The waves that seem to be moving through the region aren’t “favorable” to a regime that still withholds certain basic freedoms from its people. In no book is it mentioned that Syria will be immune from these revolutions, and I hope for Syria that Assad will find the way to more quickly prove his vision and his goals can become a reality.

I don’t know if anything is going on behind-the-scene, but if Netanyahu and Assad want to last much longer, they’d better get something up and going, before the alternative to peace will overtake both of them.

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February 27th, 2011, 6:20 am

 

88. Off the Wall said:

Majed
I read the entire resolution. One needs to distinguish when reading UN or for that matter any intergovernmental body, resolutions between preamble paragraphs which start with words such as (taking note, considering, concerned, noting) and between binding decisions that start with words (decides), and non-binding but authorizing paragraphs, which start with words such as (urges, encourages).

For the said resolution, the preambles in themselves condemn the action of Qaddafi and his gang and show great sympathy for the Libyan People and send clear warning to everyone that attacking civilian protest is a red line the international community will no-longer tolerate.

The US State Department put a fact sheet summarizing the essence of the decision paragraphs of the resolution. The resolution itself is not yet published on the Security Council Resolutions pager because it still has to go through editorial process since member states insert and remove and modify paragraphs during the discussion. (You should see the track change documents just as they get out of session). That said, the full “unofficial” text is available at other sites. Bare in mind that it would be very minor editorial as no one in the secretariat has the right to change any wording of the resolution no matter how bad the text is. It is simply cleaning up.

The entire resolution is available here

Below is the text from the US state department fact sheet (which is very accurate depiction of the decision paragraphs)

Fact Sheet: UN Security Council Resolution 1970, Libya Sanctions

The UN Security Council has adopted a comprehensive resolution to respond to the outrageous violence perpetrated by Muammar Qadafi on the Libyan people. This resolution imposes immediate measures to stop the violence, ensure accountability and facilitate humanitarian aid.

The Security Council has demanded an end to the violence and urged Libyan authorities to respect human rights, ensure the safety of foreign nationals allow the safe passage of humanitarian supplies and lift restrictions on all forms of media.

Significantly, the resolution:

1) Refers the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC)

A. The Security Council referral gives the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed in Libya after February 15, the day of the first
protests in Benghazi. The ICC may investigate crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

B. A referral the ICC is necessary because Libya is not a party to the ICC Rome Statute.

C. The ICC Prosecutor will report regularly to the Security Council.

2) Imposes an arms embargo and other arms restrictions

A. All states are prohibited to provide any kind of arms to Libya.

B. All states are prohibited from allowing the transit to Libya of mercenaries.

C. Libya is prohibited from exporting any arms to any other state.
States are called upon to inspect suspicious cargo that may contain arms. When such arms are found, states are required to seize
and dispose of them.

D. All states are called on to strongly discourage their nationals from traveling to Libya to contribute to human rights violations.

3) Imposes targeted sanctions on key regime figures

A. Seventeen Qadafi loyalists are subject to an international travel ban.

B. Six of these individuals, including Qadafi himself and his immediate family members, are also subject to a freeze of their assets.

C. The Security Council commits to ensure that any frozen assets will be made available to benefit the people of Libya.

D. A Sanctions Committee is established to impose targeted sanctions on additional individuals and entities who commit serious human rights abuses, including ordering attacks and aerial bombardments on civilian populations or facilities.

4) Provides for humanitarian assistance

A. All states are called upon to work together to facilitate humanitarian assistance and support the return of humanitarian agencies.

B. The Security Council expresses its readiness to consider additional measures to achieve the delivery of such assistance.

5) Commits to review the measures

A. The Security Council will keep these sanctions under review and strengthen, modify or lift them in light of the situation.

###

Although carefully phrased, the resolution establishes, in the preambles and decisions a decent foundation for future resolutions against deranged people, Arabs and/or Moldavians alike.

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February 27th, 2011, 6:51 am

 

89. Nafdik said:

Nk,

1st i agree with you that the islamic threat has been blown out of proportion to scare the population into inaction.

But the reason this propaganda works in neutralizing the minorities is that it is based on some real facts.

Your answer includes many references to syrian practices today but syria like iraq a few years ago is under secular dictatorship. The fears are from on a populist democracy that removes some of the rights minorities have today.

In order to stage a successful revolution the opposition has to convince a good portion of the allawis that there will not be an existential threat to their way of life. Slogans and wishful thinking will not work.

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February 27th, 2011, 7:05 am

 

90. why-discuss said:

Shai

I agree with you but I believe Syria’s revolution will be more a slow and smooth evolution. While Tunisia, Libya and Egypt are not threatened by Israel, Syria is still at war and part of its land occupied. Its citizens perceive Israel as more dangerous to their welfare than the current regime.
In fact because of the protection it has provided to its citizens during the decade of war and violence in the region ( Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Gaza) the present regime is tolerated and somehow respected, despite the economical relative hardship and its overzealous security apparatus.
Add to this,the popularity of the president. I trust the president is looking at allowing some forms of democratic participation without weakening the country and exposing it to its enemies, be it Israel or extremist Islamists. Not an easy task in view of the possible sectarian fragmentation of the Syrian society. Syrians see clearly what ‘democracy ‘ has brought to Iraq: Religious sectarism, emigration of christians and collapse of the society. This must be avoided at any cost in Syria.

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February 27th, 2011, 9:23 am

 

91. MONTAGNARD said:

Israel’s bounty hunters.

http://mwcnews.net/focus/politics/8914-barak-bullahs-blackwater.html

Blackwater mercenaries vying for a contract (bounty) to hunt and turn in suspects named by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

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February 27th, 2011, 10:03 am

 
 

93. Shai said:

GHAT,

Thank you for continuing to share with us these reports. That particular one, I hope you noticed, was made available to you by ADALAH – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Could you apply your obvious research abilities to locating such an organization in, say, the Arab World, which was established specifically for reporting on the treatment of minorities in those countries?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest there’s equality between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, unfortunately. I am suggesting, however, that it is somewhat hypocritical of you, on THIS forum of all forums, to highlight only Israel’s side. An outside observer might actually think minorities (or even the majorities!) are treated far better in the Arab World… Is that the idea?

We in Israel have a long way to go, I’m the first to admit. Let’s not pretend the rest of the ME is much better off.

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February 27th, 2011, 11:11 am

 

94. MONTAGNARD said:

Shai,
No minority or the majority in Syria is treated the way the Palestinians are treated under the occupation by Israel by far.
The injustices that the Syrian citizens experience are nowhere near what the Palestinians have to endure.
A lot of what the problems that Syrians face in Syria stem out of the inefficiency, backwardness of the bureaucracy, entrenched old ways, burdensome red tape, lack of and bad planning, limited resources, old or non existing infrastructure, etc.
Nowhere else in the world today, a whole population is subjected to the like of what the Palestinians are subject to by Israel.
So for you to accuse Ghat of hypocrisy, I say that was an unfair, unjustified and untrue accusation.
I am glad that Ghat linked that report to help us know more about the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
I would rather hear you say, we need more of such organizations such as ADALAH, and that not enough is being said and done about the plight of the Palestinians, than you attack Ghat and his activity.

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February 27th, 2011, 12:03 pm

 

95. Ghat Al Bird said:

SHAI said:

Ghat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to suggest there’s equality between Jews and non-Jews in Israel, unfortunately. I am suggesting, however, that it is somewhat hypocritical of you, on THIS forum of all forums.

Lets see now. A forum dedicated to Syria and its accepted posture as an enemy of Israel it would seem “apropos” that any informatiom relating to Israel would be welcome. One would think that as far as information about other Arab states that that would be well known in Syria.

As far as being somewhat hypocritical is not everyone to a degree? Or do you believe you are purer than all others?

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February 27th, 2011, 12:06 pm

 

96. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

What has Shai written

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February 27th, 2011, 1:44 pm

 

97. Shai said:

Montagnard,

You put words in my mouth that I did not say. I never suggested ADALAH was “enough”, and that we don’t need more said or done about the Palestinians. Perhaps you haven’t heard my views enough on this forum – I don’t blame you.

I also never suggested minorities or majorities in Syria are treated worse (or the same) as the Palestinians are under Israeli Occupation. But the report isn’t about the Palestinians under occupation – it’s about Israeli Arabs and how they’re treated unequally as Israeli citizens. My point was about the way certain minorities, and even majorities, are also treated unequally in certain Arab countries. It is true, that in most Arab countries the ruling minority does not treat the majority (or other minorities) equally. There is no democracy or most of the freedoms we’re accustomed to, anywhere in the Middle East.

From that stems the hypocrisy. For Ghat to point out this report (which, again, speaks of Israeli citizens), and never mention a word about all the other Arab countries, seems hypocritical to me. He does “his share” of pointing only to Israel, to Jews, to Zionists, and I contribute “my share” pointing to his hypocrisy.

As a final note, since you brought up Syria and its treatment of its own citizens, if there WAS ever a comparison between Israel and an Arab Occupier, it would almost certainly be Syria, and its occupation of Lebanon.

As for the Palestinians, of course I believe they’re suffering under Israeli Occupation, and of course I believe they deserve their freedom and independence no less than any other human being does, including us Israelis.

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February 27th, 2011, 1:47 pm

 

98. Shai said:

Ghat,

I’m sure you’d like nothing better than to further suggest we Jews believe we are “purer” than thou, so I’m sorry to disappoint you yet again.

No, we are all hypocritical at times. And when we are, it’s good when there’s someone around to point it out to us, and perhaps also to others.

It’s not the point of the apropos, it’s the notion of “contribution”. Do you think you’re contributing something to SC, each time you link yet-another article about Israeli crimes? And if you believe you do, isn’t it no-less crucial that you also demonstrate the same about other Arab States, perhaps even Syria?

I don’t see how I’d be helping the participants of an “Israel Comment” forum, with articles against Syria. Do you?

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February 27th, 2011, 1:54 pm

 

99. Norman said:

Shai,

AP and AIG are doing what GHAT is doing, what goes around comes around .
Don’t you think ?.

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February 27th, 2011, 1:59 pm

 

100. Shai said:

Norman,

I point it out to them as well. I’ve always been more impressed with those who can self-criticize, before criticizing others.

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February 27th, 2011, 2:04 pm

 

101. Norman said:

Shai,
Yes you do and for that you are a ((mensch)) and i see hope .

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February 27th, 2011, 2:07 pm

 

102. Parent said:

Hi Nicholas92300
It could be a wishful thinking on my part, but, if this were to be true, it could indicate that either he or his family have decided that they can be safer away from Malki area.

The latest solidarity gathering in front of the nearby Libyan embassy, harmless as it me seemed to anyone, was probably a nightmare to the president security command.

Actually, should demonstrations erupt in that residential area, the roads can be easily blocked by demonstrators and the lion den would be surrounded.

Why choose Aleppo? It can be justified for the curious by claiming that it is the commerical capital. But come on, security and options for escape are much better afforded by staying in a seclusive villa, at the outskirts of the Aleppo, perhaps close to the highway to Latakia and the mountain.
He can run, but he can not hide!

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February 27th, 2011, 3:14 pm

 

103. NK said:

Nafdik

When there’s no existential threat to the Alawite way of life to begin with, I don’t see why the opposition have to prove there is not existential threat to the Alawite way of life!. Actually most Alawites are oppressed just as much as the rest of the Syrian population.
You want the opposition to PROVE there will be no discrimination against minorities if a revolution is to take place, but then that’s absolutely impossible under the current regime, since the opposition has no access to these minorities. So in other words, you want the regime to give the opposition more freedom to reach out to minorities, to convince them to rise up against the regime. Well I want a billion dollars too!.

MONTAGNARD #94

What you said bring tears into my eyes, when you write things like this, you’re obviously oblivious to the fact that all the inequality present in that report, is the general rule for the entire population in Syria, yes there is no discrimination, the entire population is subjected to the same level of very low standards, and looks like, over the years, people don’t see these low standards as low anymore, they became the norm. What a tragedy.

– Legalized Inequality
I guess you’ve been living on another planet, it’s called EMERGENCY LAW.
المادة الرابعة: للحاكم العرفي أو نائبه أن يصدر أوامر كتابية باتخاذ جميع القيود أو التدابير الآتية أو بعضها وأن يحيل مخالفيها إلى المحاكم العسكرية.

أ- وضع قيود على حرية الأشخاص في الاجتماع والإقامة والتنقل والمرور في أماكن أو أوقات معينة، وتوقيف المشتبه فيه أو الخطرين على الأمن والنظام العام توقيفاً احتياطياً، والإجازة في تحري الأشخاص والأماكن في أي وقت، وتكليف أي شخص بتأدية أي عمل من الأعمال.

ب- مراقبة الرسائل والمخابرات أياً كان نوعها، ومراقبة الصحف والنشرات والملفات والرسوم والمطبوعات والإذاعات وجميع وسائل التعبير والدعاية والإعلان قبل نشرها وضبطها ومصادرتها وتعطيلها وإلغاء امتيازها وإغلاق أماكن طبعها.

ج- تحديد مواعيد فتح الأماكن العامة وإغلاقها.

د- سحب إجازات الأسلحة والذخائر والمواد المقابلة للانفجار والمفرقعات على اختلاف أنواعها والأمر بتسليمها وضبطها وإغلاق مخازن الأسلحة.

هـ- إخلاء بعض المناطق أو عزلها وتنظيم وسائل النقل وحصر المواصلات وتحديدها بين المناطق المختلفة.

و- الاستيلاء على أي منقول أو عقار وفرض الحراسة المؤقتة على اشركات والمؤسسات وتأجيل الديون والالتزامات المستحقة والتي تستحق على مايجري الاستيلاء عليه.

ز- تحديد العقوبات التي تفرض على مخالفة هذه الأوامر على ألا تزيد على الحبس مدة ثلاث سنوات وعلى الغرامة حتى ثلاثة آلاف ليرة سورية أو إحداهما. وإذا لم يحدد الأمر العقوبات على مخالفة أحكامه فيعاقب على مخالفتها بالحبس مدة لا تزيد على ستة أشهر وبغرامة لا تزيد على خمسمائة ليرة سورية أو بإحدى هاتين العقوبتين.

– Citizenship
Syrian women don’t have the right to give citizenship to their children!

– Income/Poverty
http://www.syria-today.com/index.php/may-2010/558-business-news/7746-syrias-average-monthly-salary-at-syp-11133
I hate to be the one to break this news to you, but most of Syrians are poor, you know things are messed up, when physicians have to work 2 jobs to support themselves let alone a family.

– Redistribution of Resources and Social Welfare
We all know this story goes …….

– Employment
Let’s say two applied for a job, one have a PHD from Harvard, the other know a Mukhbarat lieutenant, who do you think will get the job ?

– Land
I hope I don’t have to list all the public ( and sometimes private ) property that the Syrian government “rented for 99 years”, or in some cases flat out sold for cents on the dollar to influential people ( one person to be exact ) in the past few years.

– Education
Not only there’s discrimination against minorities in public schools, but also the whole system is underfunded in general, it’s actually inferior to what Syrians had during the FRENCH MANDATE, if that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.

– Arabic Language
Oh, pardon me, I forgot that Syrian minorities don’t want to teach their languages to their kids.

– Health
0.3% of Syrian population is over the age of 60, I don’t need to say anymore.

– Political Participation
It’s a number, it’s round, it has a big hole in the middle.

So, please don’t say that Syrians are in any way better than their Palestinian or Israeli Arabs counterparts. We are actually way worse, and to see that our standards of decent living has dropped so low that we can’t see that anymore is sad in every way imaginable. I’m not saying that Israel is an example to follow, hell no, they have a lot of problems themselves, but it’s about time for people in Syria to stop being content with what is, and start asking for what could be and should have been.

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February 27th, 2011, 4:11 pm

 

104. trustquest said:

Asma Al Assad,
It seems in this atmosphere Truth does not take long to surface.
Here is the article that expose the Vague writer or propagandist:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlantic.com%2Finternational%2Farchive%2F2011%2F02%2Fvogue-defends-profile-of-syrian-first-lady%2F71764%2F&h=842fd

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February 28th, 2011, 3:04 pm

 

105. Zenobia said:

Wow. the whole SC family came out to debate that fluffy article. Clearly got everybody riled up.

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March 3rd, 2011, 2:06 am

 

106. why-discuss said:

National healthcare in Syria. What are the facts?

How does it compare to other arab countries?
In wikipedia, only Algeria, UAE and Syria are briefly mentionned, anyone aware of a comparaison study?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_system#Syria

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March 3rd, 2011, 5:15 am

 

107. Off the Wall said:

WHY-DISCUSS

Wikipeida’s article is well written, but the source of most information is in WHO reports. Here is the link to the most recent WHO Stats Report, which are mandated to also consider status with respect to accomplishing the UN Millennium Development Goals as well.

http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Full.pdf (English)

http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/AR_WHS10_Full.pdf (Arabic)

and in Spanish, French, Russian, and Chinese as well. (All 6 UN Languages)

The full series (for other years) is available at
http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/en/
http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/ar/

If you are interested in the issue of education, then there are two key reports from UNESCO, one that was issued last year on the status of secientific research from UNESCO’s Natural Science Sector/Division of Science Policy. The chapter on Arab States is found at

http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/SC/pdf/sc_usr10_arab_states_EN.pdf

A very recent report on education was released only two days ago, with the theme of impacts of conflicts on education. But more important than the full report is a recent blog by the report’s team leader on the education failure of Arab States, and its role in recent events

http://efareport.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/education-failures-fan-the-flames-in-the-arab-world/

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March 3rd, 2011, 6:16 am

 

108. Joshua said:

Zenobia, Welcome back. We have missed you -the true Queen of the Desert

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March 3rd, 2011, 11:32 pm

 

109. Zenobia said:

: )) thanks, that’s so sweet.

well… I came out of my blogging retirement and got in my two cents (or more) over on the comments under the nasty rebuttal by Max Fisher at the Atlantic about the Vogue piece …over here…

http://www.theatlantic.com/preview/blog/vogue_defends_profile_of_syrian_first_lady/01/01/71764/?u=atlantic&p=media&c=?215547#comment-158439196

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March 4th, 2011, 1:56 am

 

110. Malik Al-Abdeh said:

The Vogue piece on Asma Al-Assad is not a one-off. It’s part of a well-organized and well-financed image makeover executed by corporate lobbyists and image consultants, not unlike that which The Monitor Group has been doing for the Gaddafis. Read more:

http://syriaintransition.com/2011/03/05/in-the-post-ideological-age-arab-regime-go-for-image-makeover/

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March 5th, 2011, 5:05 pm

 

111. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Going out of fashion, fast… said:

[…] but where does that leave the lovely Asma al-Assad [in Vogue this February] […]

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June 9th, 2011, 1:01 am

 

112. mICHAEL said:

IF THIS MAN BACHAR IS A REALLY PRESIDENT, HE SHOULD NOT APPEAR IN THIS PICS WITH HIS CHILDS WITH A TOY “CAR” WHICH WORTH THE ANNUAL SALARY OF
ONE FAMILY OF MEDIUM INCOME IN SYRIA
SHAME ON YOU BACHAR.
AND YOU WIFE WHICH IS SAYING THAT SHE IS THE ONE WHO TAKE CAR OF SYRIA CHILDREN , BUT AT THE SAME TIME DO NOT DOING ANYTHING TO SAY NO FOR STOPPING THE CONTINUOUS MURDER IN THE STREET FOR THESE SYRIAN CHILDREN
VIVA LA SYRIE WITHOUT AL-ASSAD FAMILY

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September 25th, 2011, 8:43 pm

 

113. LATEST NEWS - asma syria november 2011 - LATEST NEWS said:

[…] by James Nachtwey Vogue, February 25, 2011. Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic …http://www.joshualandis.com/bl ..Babalfaqeer: Asma al-Assad First Lady of SyriaFirst Lady of Syria Asma al-Assad Asma al-Assad […]

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December 13th, 2011, 1:09 pm

 

114. Assad and the Cult of Personality | EthioLeaks said:

[…] as good as his local Arabic. His mother is a knock-out, a “rose in a desert” according to a Vogue profile. Reluctant to take over a family business from his father, he interrupted his medical training in […]

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January 26th, 2012, 5:01 am

 

115. D. Lynn Carmichael said:

Asma al-Assad’s father, Dr. Fawaz Akhras, spoke to the U.K.’s Express, and his comments ran yesterday (Sunday, 03/04/12). He says his daughter is a ‘virtual prisoner’ and he is worried for her safety and wants her to return to London. But he says nothing about his younger son, also a surgeon, who was working at a clinic in Syria at the time of the now-infamous Vogue feature.
According to yesterday’s story, Asma’s father is “horrified” by his son-in-law’s violent crackdown, and he and his wife have been the target of vandalism by rebel supporters in their largely Syrian neighborhood in Acton, so they moved out.
Are we to believe that Asma Assad is a victim of the regime, too? That’s as mind-bending as Bashar’s two hour-long interviews with Charlie Rose, where Assad, on both occasions, years apart, inexplicably giggled, grinned, and nervously waved his arms around, tipping the Hinky Meter. But at least Asma’s father makes sense, after all, their family is Sunni — and from Homs.

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March 5th, 2012, 2:18 am

 

116. FACEBOOK WAR: ASSAD SON TAUNTS OBAMA! | Nwo Report said:

[…] Damascus, a detail of the Assad children’s lives that Vogue magazine reported in a February 2011 profile of their mother, Asma al-Assad. That article portrayed them as typical suburban children who […]

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August 30th, 2013, 12:05 pm

 

117. The Lede: Facebook Post Said to Be by Assad’s Son Dares Americans to Attack | Treilo News said:

[…] Damascus, a detail of the Assad children’s lives that Vogue magazine reported in a February 2011 profile of their mother, Asma al-Assad. That article portrayed them as typical suburban children who played […]

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August 30th, 2013, 1:17 pm

 

118. WAR DRUMS: Facebook Post Said to Be by Assad’s 11 Year Old Son, Dares Americans to Attack | END TIME HEADLINES said:

[…] Damascus, a detail of the Assad children’s lives that Vogue magazine reported in a February 2011 profile of their mother, Asma al-Assad. That article portrayed them as typical suburban children who […]

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August 30th, 2013, 1:38 pm

 

119. Syrian President’s Son Posts Anti-U.S. Facebook Rant? | Political Ration said:

[…] The profile references a Montessori school in Damascus. According to a controversial 2011 Vogue profile on the family, all three Assad children — Zein, Karim and Hafez — attend a Montessori school. […]

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August 30th, 2013, 1:48 pm

 

120. Did Syrian President’s Son Hafez Assad Post Anti-U.S. Facebook Rant? ,Vancouver Island, Canada said:

[…] The profile references a Montessori school in Damascus. According to a controversial 2011 Vogue profile on the family, all three Assad children — Zein, Karim and Hafez — attend a Montessori school. […]

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August 30th, 2013, 2:17 pm

 

121. Facebook post supposedly written by Assad’s son invites Americans to attack Syria » ConservativeWatchNews.org said:

[…] The New York Times have noted several details in the Facebook profile that suggest it may be genuine. Firstly, the owner of the account says he went to the Montesorri school in Damascus, a detail of the Assad’s family life that was reported in a Vogue profile of Bashar al-Assad’s wife in February 2011. […]

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August 30th, 2013, 3:48 pm

 

122. El hijo de 11 años de Assad habría amenazado a EE.UU. por Facebook | AdriBosch's Magazine said:

[…] Damasco, un detalle de la vida de los niños Assad que la revista Vogue informó en febrero 2011 el perfil de su madre, Asma al-Assad. Este artículo les presenta como niños suburbanos típicos que […]

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August 31st, 2013, 3:16 pm

 

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