“The Lens of History and Assad,” by David W. Lesch & Carey Latimore

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.17.49 PMThe Lens of History and Assad
by David W. Lesch and Carey Latimore
For Syria Comment, 28 April 2016

Abraham Lincoln and Bashar al-Assad. Yes, we know. These two names should probably never appear in the same sentence. One is a revered American icon and the other is a brutal Syrian dictator who plunged his country into a devastating civil war.

Let’s be clear. We are in no way, shape, or form equating a giant historical figure such as Lincoln with Bashar al-Assad. But history is a funny thing. It is alive and malleable depending upon perspective, context, and circumstances. Contemporary commentaries of Lincoln in both the North and South often described him as a dictator or, ironically, a racist, the latter due to the fact that before he decided it was prudent to free the slaves, he reflected the tenor of his time by advocating—among other things—the removal of African Americans from the US and shipping them off to some remote land. After all, John Wilkes Booth, when he jumped on stage after shooting Lincoln, shouted out, “sic semper tyrannis,” which is a shortened form of a Latin phrase that essentially means “death to tyrants.”

We have now lived and worked in a southern state for years, and it is still sometimes difficult to find native southerners who can muster up a few kind words about our 16th president. Potent symbols from the civil war, such as the Confederate flag, are still divisive issues some 150 years later. The war that many feel Lincoln waged killed over 700,000 soldiers and civilians. A number of cities in the South, such as Richmond, Charleston, and Atlanta, bombed by both sides and looted, were pretty much completely destroyed.

But perspectives changed with the passage of time. Since the Civil War, Lincoln, for the most part, has been mythologized and is regarded as our greatest president, having preserved the union and played the primary role in eradicating slavery. The United States became a prosperous and powerful country. What Lincoln did mattered because of this. Had the country, following Lincoln’s death, essentially flat-lined, never coming close to reaching its potential or eventually breaking apart, his actions—and his standing—would no doubt be viewed today through a quite different lens.

Bashar al-Assad, on the other hand, is someone who most believe should be dragged off in chains to the International Criminal Court for numerous war crimes. He has made terrible, tragic choices. Most importantly wScreen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.21.11 PMas his decision—and he did have a choice–in the initial stages of the uprising in Syria in 2011 to revert to the dictator’s survival handbook and sanction a harsh crackdown on the protestors instead of implementing necessary reforms, pushing an uprising into a destructive civil war now five years hence with some 300,000 dead and half the country’s population internally or externally displaced.

But with enhanced Russian and Iranian military support, the Syrian regime has experienced quite a bit of military success of late, to the point where some believe it is on the precipice of something resembling victory. At the very least, the Syrian regime isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So whether we like it or not, it appears Assad will survive and continue as president. As a result of this turn of events, Assad might actually get a second chance. What will he do with it? How can the best be made out of this bad situation?

Despite an enraged and battered South, over a month before he was assassinated (and before Appomattox), Lincoln set a remarkable tone of reconciliation in his 2nd inaugural address, highlighted by the memorable phrase, “…with malice toward none, with charity for all…to bind up the nation’s wounds.” Even with the clumsiness of Reconstruction that most historians believe Lincoln would have handled much better had he lived, the country, despite its long and tortured racial climate, eventually recovered and entered a long healing process.

The apparent differences between someone like Lincoln and someone like Assad—or their comparative situations–are too numerous to mention. Most importantly, Lincoln was a brilliant politician and strategist who astutely knew when he needed to shift 180 degrees for the good of the country; Assad has not shown anything close to this type of foresight, flexibility, or courageous leadership. So if there is to be a political settlement at some point with Assad remaining in power, can he, with appropriate self-awareness, re-set his country in a positive direction? Despite what will certainly be long-lasting animus against him, he may have an opportunity to re-caste (or re-invent) his legacy, but through a healing rather than vengeful process. Realism, not triumphalism. Countries coming out of national traumas need leaders. If you end up on the right side in a way that creates a foundation for national prosperity, historical narratives can be very forgiving. Can he begin to restore the dignity of a nation and a people? Is he finally willing to change the nature of governance in Syria and launch a period of transition and reconciliation? Can he face the reality of a Syrian population that has largely moved on from him and his cronies? The answer is most likely a resounding “No.” So how bout it, Mr. Assad? Prove us wrong. Malice toward none and charity for all.

David W. Lesch is the Ewing Halsell Distinguished Professor of History at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and author of Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad; Carey Latimore is Chair of the History Department at Trinity and author of The Role of Southern Free Blacks During the Civil War Era.

Comments (50)


1. Jasmine said:

If
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master; If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

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April 29th, 2016, 12:44 am

 

2. ghufran said:

Not sure what was the purpose of the piece by David other than filling pages and suggesting that Assad will have one or two things in common with Lincoln like getting assassinated or infected with a sudden desire to reconcile with his enemies. Either way, I did not learn anything from the post. Syrians failed on many fronts and the world has failed them too, that was not entirely unpredictable, this is why I said repeatedly that this dirty war should not have started, I knew that Syrians will pay the ultimate price, foreign powers will utilize them as useful idiots and they did. Academics and “scholars” should not be afraid to be politically incorrect, I hope David agrees, I sensed a real effort to stick to common threads knitted by the western media in relation to Assad and the war which when overdone can easily diminish the value of any article.

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April 29th, 2016, 1:24 am

 

3. ghufran said:

Not sure what was the purpose of the piece by David other than filling pages and suggesting that Assad will have one or two things in common with Lincoln like getting assassinated or infected with a sudden desire to reconcile with his enemies. Either way, I did not learn anything from the post. Syrians failed on many fronts and the world has failed them too, that was not entirely unpredictable, this is why I said repeatedly that this dirty war should not have started, I knew that Syrians will pay the ultimate price, foreign powers will utilize them as useful idiots and they did. Academics and “scholars” should not be afraid to be politically incorrect, I hope David agrees, I sensed a real effort to stick to common threads knitted by the western media in relation to Assad and the war which when overdone can easily diminish the value of any article.

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April 29th, 2016, 1:24 am

 

4. UnBiased said:

All this article proves is one thing- history is written by the winners or at least those who have the power to influence the media and history textbooks. If Assad wins- which I believe he will- and opens Syria to foreign investment (such as thru privatization which seems to be in the works), he will be Lincolnized. Believe me and David Lesch will be the first to write that article!

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April 29th, 2016, 5:38 am

 

5. Alex Hausa said:

Assad is the saviour of the Syrian people and Syria who created terror who funded terror who supports and protects the terrorist state of Saudia Wahhabis Arabia and fundamentalist Islamic brother hood Qatar and Turkish ottoman genocide empire that exterminated all Christians Armenians allawites and Shiites moniroty groups there , who and who , one billion question to Usa and the western powers and Israeli Mossad they all have answers and hidden adgendas in the Mid East they are terrible collaborators with the terror mercenaries that they create for their own be benefits and intentions obviously to stir conquer and dismantle Arabism and dumb Islamic Arab so called world or countries that portray or play along with this world conspiracy against their own existence on this universe as ,quoted and stated many times by the brilliant and honourable president of the Syrian Arab Republic dr Bashar al Assad ,the only voice of hope truth and solidarity of the Syrian and Arab people . Please wake up mr David lesch I dint understand where and how Yu read history and where did you get yur education from as we read yur outrageous publication and the one before this is only based on prejudice and hatred remarks of the truth and Yu are a one way Vision supporter of terror and terrorist founded groups by the above mentioned states and a joint conspirator again the will of the good Syrian people government army and 1000% elected president of the Syrian state president Bashar al Assad whether Yu like it or not he and his govt and army are the representative of the Syrian state and its people now today and Tommorow .

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April 29th, 2016, 8:31 am

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

Lincoln was a promoter of freedom. Don’t be silly. Lincoln had term limits and won two presidential elections. Bashar Assad? Give me a break!

Back to the Middle East:

“This promotional clip first of all manifests the anti-human nature of the regime which seeks to even mobilize the children of its own loyalists as cannon fodder,” said Shahin Gobadi, an NCRI official based in Paris.

Iran touts Israel invasion to recruit teenage boys to fight in Syria

“We monitor the Iranian regime’s state media thoroughly. Our people noticed this on the state media, and then our people were able to download it from one of the regime’s websites.”

Iran is already sending unconventional fighters to Syria to protect its ally, President Bashar Assad.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/28/iran-touts-israel-invasion-to-recruit-teenage-boys/

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April 29th, 2016, 11:10 am

 

7. Sami said:

Silly post. Juxtaposing Lincoln with Bashar? Really?

What’s next comparing MLK’s famous speech with Besho’s infamous one?!!!

The sad part, it took two people to write this…

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April 29th, 2016, 11:30 am

 

8. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

The only good thing that can be said about Assad is that, so far, he manages to save his country from falling into becoming a black hole of a miserable 7th century Islamist nightmare. But Abraham Lincoln? ooh No.

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April 29th, 2016, 11:53 am

 

9. Ghufran said:

It looks like Turkey and KSA finally agreed to give their back to Nusra in Aleppo and Idleb in return of reducing pressure on their other allies in Damascus country side and few pockets in north Latakia ( reports from latakia cast doubts on whether the Syrian side will stop after bringing 90% of the province under government control). The new cease fire, if finalized, will not include Aleppo, that probably means intensifying the military campaign in Aleppo in addition to pushing isis east of Homs and in other areas. Iran and Pro regime loyalists are not thrilled that Russia supported a new cease fire but Putin is in charge now, Assad’s ability to call the shots was further reduced by the russian intervention, iran wants him to stay and Russia is intentionally vague on the subject. It is almost certain that Iran has less influence now.

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April 29th, 2016, 8:22 pm

 

10. Ghufran said:

Aksalser now is openly condemning the ” silence” of Turkey, KSA and Qatar as Aleppo gets pounded by regime jets (and rebels rockets). Go back to 2012 and read what was written on this blog on the subject. Thawrajiyyeh were fools when they decided to try to match regime’s violence and were foolish to believe that the ” guided” kingdom and the “godly” ottoman sultan will come to their rescue. Ksa wants to punish assad and attack iran thru Syria and Erdogan wanted to extend his influence, steal oil (and aleppo) and territories (if possible) and stop the kurds. Nobody cared about you my fellow Syrians and nobody gave a da.n about democracy and freedom for Syrians. Syrians who used violence regardless of their affiliation were a mix of useful idiots and common criminals.
يا امة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

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April 29th, 2016, 8:54 pm

 

11. Akbar Palace said:

The only good thing that can be said about Assad is that, so far, he manages to save his country from falling into becoming a black hole of a miserable 7th century Islamist nightmare. But Abraham Lincoln? ooh No.

Amir,

I humbly disagree. The Assad family is responsible for the police state they created for over 40 yrs: the massacre of 1982-3, the disappearances, the lack of freedom, the horrible economy and they are responsible for not protecting the Syrian borders.

In all other countries he would’ve tried for treason.

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April 29th, 2016, 10:41 pm

 

12. Ghufran said:

US Army Col. Steve Warren, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, was asked whether Russian airstrikes on Aleppo, the current epicenter of the war, meant that Moscow was preparing to end the cessation of hostilities (CoH) agreement between government forces and the opposition signed on February 29.
Warren responded that it was “complicated” because al-Nusra “holds Aleppo” and is not party to the agreement.

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April 30th, 2016, 1:02 am

 

13. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Akbar,

I agree with you that Assad is terrible.

With this said, you cannot ignore the fact that 5 years ago Syria was safe, people had food, children went to schools, their parents enjoyed free education for their kids, free higher education, free medical and other services.
Syrians didn’t have freedoms, but they had the living basics. Today they don’t have freedom AND basics.

Syria was heaven compared to 5 years later. And compared to the Islamist vision that “rebels” want to impose on this wretched piece of land.

I have no sympathy for the Assad mafia. I have even less sympathy for the alternative.

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April 30th, 2016, 7:31 am

 

14. ghufran said:

Amir’s post is a proof that people who use their brain and leave ideology home can talk sense. The Middle East is a very difficult place to rule and be ruled, it is often a choice between bad and worse and that is where the opposition to Assad failed miserably, the reason for their failure is Wahhabi Islam and the “friends” they chose. Political Islam is an enemy to the average Muslim not just minorities. Why did we end up with a choice between Dictatorships and Islamist thuggery ? because we do not have democratic traditions and we do not embrace tolerance, tribalism runs in our blood, I call it the T-blood type. Cunning Baathists and the Assads knew all of that and decided to sell Arabism but that was tainted with dictatorship and the whole thing was based on a fantasy any way.
Pity the nation if there was ever one !!
(amir, I think you have a level of affection for Arab culture and history)

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April 30th, 2016, 12:01 pm

 

15. Akbar Palace said:

With this said, you cannot ignore the fact that 5 years ago Syria was safe, people had food, children went to schools, their parents enjoyed free education for their kids, free higher education, free medical and other services.
Syrians didn’t have freedoms, but they had the living basics. Today they don’t have freedom AND basics.

Syria was heaven compared to 5 years later. And compared to the Islamist vision that “rebels” want to impose on this wretched piece of land.

Amir,

Using your analogy (and speaking of Lincoln again) the US should have adopted slavery instead of fighting the Civil War. As much as Syria has suffered, about twice as many Americans died in the US Civil War than this Syrian Civil War. 600,000. Look it up.

ISIS is the same shit the Assad family hussled on Syria. Ghufran makes a good point about the Middle East, but I am not that pessimistic. Given the opportunity, Arab countries can live free and they can protect themselves.

If the average annual per capita GDP under the Assad regime was $5000, u can believe a LOT of Syrians were living day-to-day and going hungry.

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April 30th, 2016, 2:22 pm

 

16. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Akbar,

I understand your point and fully respect it.
I’m not as optimistic. Problem with political Islam is once they have the control, they make it very difficult if not impossible to uproot them. See Gaza see Iran. Priority should be given to eliminating any chance of Islamists setting up any sort of control.
As to “Arab countries can live free”, I tend to agree with Ghufran; they will have to deal with the malignant tribalism, only then they can live free, and let other live free as well. This day is still far away.

The American civil war was over high and universal ideals. What ideals you see in the Syrian civil war? what are they fighting for? universal freedom? Islamism will not bring them that.

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April 30th, 2016, 7:46 pm

 

17. Silex said:

Sorry David W. Lesch and Carey Latimore, are you two professional historians? This text had a terrible mistake at methodological analysis. Never different individuals can be compared at different times because the circumstances and contexts change; comparative history need criteria, which I have not seen here. This two never read the classic books of Marc Bloch, Febvre, Ranke, Benjamin and others? Second, very superficial text to analyze such a complex situation that Syria is, how the Salafism it is set in the background since the 80s, different sources of analysis on Assad, the Syrian society, the state, et cetera. Is more an opinion of the author that an analysis.

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May 1st, 2016, 2:28 am

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

what are they fighting for? universal freedom? Islamism will not bring them that.

Amir,

Yes. Of course, whether that can come about is another story. I do agree that the forces of Islamism and despotism are very hard and next to impossible to defeat. That is why I believe the UN should undertake a mission to intervene just like after WW2.

What a mess.

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May 1st, 2016, 10:46 am

 

19. Hopefully said:

#13 Amir

Dictatorships are dictatorships – be it military ones like in Syria, or islamic ones like in Iran. Peace will not come to the region (Israel included) until a transformation to democracies takes hold. It may take years or decades, but it will happen. Look at Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

We can keep going back and forth between bad and worse, but neither is the solution. We need the world to help the region make the transition to democracy. That is the only viable solution.

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May 1st, 2016, 3:40 pm

 

20. Hopeful said:

#13 Amir

Dictatorships are all the same – be it military ones like in Syria, or islamic ones like in Iran. Peace will not come to the region (Israel included) until a transformation to democracies takes hold. It may take years or decades, but it will happen. Look at Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

We can keep going back and forth between bad and worse, but neither is the solution. We need the world to help the region make the transition to democracy. That is the only viable solution.

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May 1st, 2016, 3:42 pm

 

21. Akbar Palace said:

Hopeful,

I think you said the same thing I did in my previous post. In addition, the UN isn’t very reliable. They’re good at attacking Israel, otherwise not much. Look at the 5 permanent members: anti-democratic nations like Russia and China. They have no interest promoting freedom anywhere.

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May 1st, 2016, 3:53 pm

 

22. Majedkhaldoun said:

What are they fighting for , universal freedom ? Islamist will not bring them that.
,
This means that Syrians do not deserve freedom,
It means that they should stay under dictatorship, it means that Amir ! the Israeli, decided the fate of Syrians, so he chose Assad the criminal dictator to rule Syria
Would he accept the Israelis to be ruled under criminal dictatorship?
To him , freedom and democracy is not a principle ,
To him the interest of Israel is for Syrians to stay under criminal ruler that he will not accept for Israelis
To him hate of Syrians is much more deep in his principles and religion than love freedom and human dignity, what kind of religion is that? Religion of hate and evil, religion of inhumanity, religion of evil,
This is not human , this is not a man of principles, this is not improvement, this is a return to the time where there is no civilization , this is Amir from Tel Aviv way ,
Disgusting , criminal

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May 1st, 2016, 4:06 pm

 

23. Akbar Palace said:

Majedkhaldoun,

My impression is that nearly everyone here wants Syria to become a free, democratic country, but, like so many other Arab countries, nearly impossible to create.

Egypt, Yemen, the Gulf states, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Libya? Who will be first?

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May 1st, 2016, 6:36 pm

 

24. Majedkhaldoun said:

Akbar
It may be difficult but not impossible , Syria in 1954 had true democracy,
It is not true that every body here wants Syria to be free, I wish that

On another subject, here in US we have election time, and I am republican , but I have hard time who should we vote for , may be you can advise, thanks

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May 1st, 2016, 7:46 pm

 

25. Akbar Palace said:

Majedkhaldoun,

I believe in miracles, so I am sure one day Syria and the rest of the Middle East will be free for everyone. I like you Mr. Majedkhaldoun because you are an honorable man. And smart! As you are a conservative Republican!

Right now the talk with my friends and family varies between the front runners Cruz and Trump. Any of the two are better than Hillary (who could/should have been indicted already).

Hillary represents the same appeasement foreign policy as Obama, which has let Iran advance in the region and let Assad off the hook. Their decision to do nothing with Assad gave ISIS all the time they needed to settle in. Now Russia calls the shots. Thanks, but no thanks Hillary.

And who does Obama have the strength to denounce? Well, none other than the PM of our closest ally, Netanyahu.

So I voted for Cruz in my state’s primary. Not to say that I trust politicians, but he seems to me he has a history of voting conservative. He is also a more vocal Christian. Which is fine by me. Trump has been all over the map. He a salesman by nature and will say anything to get what he wants. He’s not very tactful. Some think that’s good, others do not. I take either one over Hillary.

Pray for the USofA. We need it. :o)

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May 1st, 2016, 8:24 pm

 

26. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Majedkhaldoun,

First we have to agree on the terminology. The meaning of “freedom”.

What is freedom in Islam? can minorities be free in an Islamic freedom? No. Women? No. GLBT community? No. Jews? NO. Atheists? No. Ordinary Muslims who aren’t so religious? No.

There is no freedom in Islam, but for the few religious zealots. And I can hardly call it freedom, it is domination of the few religious Sunni men over all who are not religious Sunni men.

Democracy and Islam it is like oil and water. They can never mix. Islam is a political platform that opposes democracy.

So next time that you blame me for being anti democrat, Anti Syrian, we’ll have to agree first on the basics, which is – the meaning of words.

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May 1st, 2016, 9:05 pm

 

27. Akbar Palace said:

Amir,

If there can be a secular, democratic Jewish state, there can be a secular, democratic Muslim state. Lebanon sans Hezbollah?

Looks like “liberalism” is turning on joos again. First Obama, now the Labour Party inGreat Britain. I hope Prince Charles and the Queen don’t lose any sleep….

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4798065,00.html

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May 1st, 2016, 9:39 pm

 

28. Tara said:

Amir,

@What is freedom in Islam? can minorities be free in an Islamic freedom? No. Women? No. GLBT community? No. Jews? NO. Atheists? No. Ordinary Muslims who aren’t so religious? No.”

Same can be said I regard to Orthodox Judaism . Women have no freedom. They cover hair with wigs and sit in the back seat and have sex with husband in certain funny ways where she is in full clothing or something like that. Minorities are second class in Talmud . Gay community is not acceptable in Torah . Muslin and gentile are supposed to be enslaved be Jews, etc etc etc

Yet , no one comes out and say Israeli do not deserve freedom or democracy. Israel manages to provide freedom and democracy for Jews despite being the Jewish state.

I do not see you as having any affection to Arab as Ghufran . He stated what he stated because you support his cause . You will become the devil in his eyes if you want Assad thrown out

It is sad. You’re the first Israeli I met. And I see nothing but visceral arrogance that crosses to pure prejudice if not uncincuois hatred. You just could not liberize your self from Israeli anti-Arab tradition

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May 1st, 2016, 11:11 pm

 

29. Ghufran said:

I met many Jews,especially Sephardics, who distrust arabs but have an affection for arabic culture, that includes food, music, architecture, certain traditions,etc. Jews and Arabs worked together in Andalusia and lived together in the Middle East until 1948, then Zionism created Israel. Assad should not have been crowned “president” in 2000 and he should leave office as part of a larger deal that protects the rights of minorities and moderate Sunnis. Most of the Syrians I talked to who oppose the rebels want a more representative and less oppressive government in Syria but they do not believe they can sign a blank check for rebels and their supporters who “halalize” the imprisonment and enslavement of Syrians who are not a copy of them. The essence of freedom is accepting others and that means an islamist regime can not give freedom to its citizens. We talked about this in 2012 and warned that replacing assad regime with an islamist regime is not acceptable to millions of Syrians and the world at large. A lot of people inside and outside Syria hate the assad regime but they are scared to death of those who want to replace the regime using GCC money and Wahhabi ideology. The opposition created by Turkey and KSA is not equipped with what it takes to end this war and improve life for Syrians, they befriended terrorists and failed to unite the country, it is a resounding failure, my friends.
For the war to end the UN needs to step in, that has not happened yet. There is no military solution to the war in Syria but the militarized opposition wants it all and they can not have it all, they should have listened to Haitham Manna and Mouaz Al-khatib in 2012 and 2013.

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May 2nd, 2016, 1:18 am

 

30. SimoHurtta said:

Here is how Wikipedia defines a secular state:

A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state is or purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.[1] A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/nonreligion over other religions/nonreligion. Secular states do not have a state religion (established religion) or equivalent, although the absence of a state religion does not necessarily mean that a state is fully secular; however, a true secular state should steadfastly maintain national governance without influence from religious factions; i.e. Separation of church and state.[2]

The claim that a state can be Jewish or Muslim and on the same time secular is absurd. Both are religions and state founded and run by religious “believes”. The majority of citizens can be Jews or Muslims, but if religion is mixed with the governance and rights the country is not secular.

One must be nuts if one claims that Israel is a secular state (or democratic). Israel has some 50 laws which give Jews (followers of Judaism) superior rights compared to those fellow citizens which different religion. Equally idiotic would be to claim that Saudi Arabia and Iran are secular states (or that ISIS, Al Qaida and other Islamists will establish a secular democratic Syria when they win).

* There is no separation of religion and state in Israel.
* There is no equality of citizens in Israel. Jews have better rights.

Can Amir in Tel Aviv change his religion to Islam and keep his superior rights which he has had as an Israeli Jew. Well, he can change religion, but not keep the rights. So much of the freedom of religion, equality and democracy in Israel.

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May 2nd, 2016, 4:09 am

 

31. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Tara,

As always with you, it resorts to personal attacks. Never self-criticism and soul-searching.

 Israel is a secular democracy, its leadership is mostly secular, the law is secular, civic and universal. Indeed, There is constant tension between cecular-civil on one hand and religious on the other. So far the secular democratic principle prevails.

I never said that Arabs do not deserve, or aren’t capable of having a democracy. Look at Tunisia. They are struggling , but so far they manage to continue with the building of democratic state institutions. It became possible only after the Islamist party AnNahda gave up power and decided not to drag the country into a Jihadi civil war. I salute AnNahda for this.

The AnNahda way isn’t adopted by other Middle Eastern Islamists. They are determined to take over through imposition of sharia, and keep their power for ever. Democracy is the last thing they want.

As an Arab (you), who supposedly wish good for his/her people, you should fight them to death. Like Assad is doing. Instead, from the safety of living in the free Amrica, Majed and you continue to advocate “freedom”.

Problem with you, most Arabs, is that you hate more than you love.

You hate Assad more than you love your country and your people.

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May 2nd, 2016, 4:22 am

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

I met many Jews,especially Sephardics, who distrust arabs but have an affection for arabic culture, that includes food, music, architecture, certain traditions,etc.

Ghufran,

I am glad you have met jews and have come to realize they are regular people just like Arabs. Like I said before, my ex-father-in-law’s father was Syrian and came to Israel in the late 1930s from Halab. My ex father-in-law speaks fluent Arabic and enjoys speaking Arabic whenever he gets the chance. His wife was born in Yemen. All their kids are well educated and successful Israeli citizens.

Perhaps the pessimism you, Amir and many others have is the inability of moderate Arabs to effect change in the Middle East?

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May 2nd, 2016, 8:21 am

 

33. Ziad Abu Fadel said:

An article as remarkable for its imbecility as it is for its presumptuousness. Lincoln killed over 800,000 of his own people. Now, that makes Dr. Assad a mere amateur when it comes to mass murder. Lincoln was trying to preserve the unity of his country. Dr. Assad is doing the same thing but on a smaller scale – after all, Syria is much smaller. Referring to our government as a regime is pure propaganda by a duo of degenerates who clearly cannot read original sources. They can’t even read sources in English which have exposed the initial uprising in Der’ah as a planned NATO-Saudi-British plot hatched in 2007 and pursued criminally by Obama and Robert Ford. This was revealed by the Pentagon and by a very well-known French foreign minister. Landis, you are a treacherous weasel publishing garbage like this. Our army is about to trounce the rodents in Aleppo and our president will win any election – despite all this, you continue your charade.

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May 2nd, 2016, 10:22 am

 

34. Ghufran said:

The success of israel and the failure of arabs do not mean that israel policies have to be accepted by arab states and the world at large, look at GCC states and their movement to embrace israel just because they hate iran, they are acting like the Syrian opposition following an ancient arab tradition, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and in the process they made it official that they want nothing to do with the Palestinians. There are real institutions in Israel and a society consensus to give the judiciary system the upper hand when there is a dispute or a suspicion that the laws were breached by officials. Compare that to Syria and the GCC for an example where government pimps and connected people act with impunity and collect millions while ordinary citizens are required to accept poverty and/or oppression and still abide by existing laws.
Learn from Israel but do not condone its policies, forgive but never forget.

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May 2nd, 2016, 11:30 am

 

35. Akbar Palace said:

Lincoln was trying to preserve the unity of his country.

Ziad,

That’s true. It is also true,that he fought the war realizing that the US could not continue to enslave human beings of a certain ethnicity.

Dr. Assad is doing the same thing but on a smaller scale – after all, Syria is much smaller. Referring to our government as a regime is pure propaganda by a duo of degenerates who clearly cannot read original sources.

Propaganda? Really? Dr. Assad never held free elections. Dr. Assad never had free speech. Dr. Assad had a network of thugs to intimidate average people and throw naysayers in jail or into torture chambers. Dr. Assad instituted complete government control of all state business and “welfare” which wrecked the Syrian economy for decades as international investment was zero. Lastly, Dr. Assad failed to protect Syria’s borders.

Dr. Landis was actually a rather vocal Assad apologist. Don’t be too hard on him, lol!

Ghufran,

No Zionist here requires arabs to fall in love with Israel or be pro-Zionist. But if you or others feel the need to go to war with Israel, that is your decision.

Learn from Israel but do not condone its policies, forgive but never forget.

Will you forget Assad, Mubarak, Sisi, the Saudis, the Supreme Leaders of Iran, Hezbollah? Just wondering…

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May 2nd, 2016, 11:40 am

 

36. Ghufran said:

Idiocy is doing the same thing again and again expecting different results.
Rebel groups in north Syria decided to unite with Nusra, again, under the banner of Jaish Al-fat’h.
Good luck getting any support or sympathy from anybody outside Turkey and KSA. When you ally with Alqaeda you can not scream for help when you get bombed.

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May 2nd, 2016, 12:54 pm

 

37. SANDRO LOEWE said:

GHUFRAN

Do you still believe the story of anything called ALQAEDA?

Al Qaeda used to be the CIA
ISIS is the creation of Russia´s Putin and Syria´s Assad

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May 2nd, 2016, 4:50 pm

 

38. Tara said:

Amir,

(@What is freedom in Islam? can minorities be free in an Islamic freedom? No. Women? No. GLBT community? No. Jews? NO. Atheists? No. Ordinary Muslims who aren’t so religious? No.”

Same can be said I regard to Orthodox Judaism . Women have no freedom. They cover hair with wigs and sit in the back seat and have sex with husband in certain funny ways where she is in full clothing or something like that. Minorities are second class in Talmud . Gay community is not acceptable in Torah . Muslin and gentile are supposed to be enslaved be Jews, etc etc etc)

That was the comment That you tried to evade. Talmud and other holy books are worse than Qur’an for matters related to Freedom for all. Why are then, you deserve to enjoy freedom and Syrians don’t ?

You started with ” freedom in Islam and went on…” My response was “freedom in Judaism ?” Compare the books and Talmud is much worse . If you are giving the Jews in Israel the right for freedom despite their religion, Why aren’t you giving Syrians the same right?,

Answer or not, your choice. But if you decide to answer , let it be About this point .
You hide behind “self search and hating Assad and being in America”. You can’t use this response anymore.

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May 2nd, 2016, 7:07 pm

 

39. Majedkhaldoun said:

Amir ,
You are far from the truth, you ask questions and answer it according to your wrong prejudice impressions , but the worst thing about your comment is that you avoid answering what I said and turn the discussion away from supporting political freedom and toward attacking ,Islam
I can quote several verses in Quraan supporting freedom, but you supported Assad knowing that he is criminal dictator , I asked you would you live under dictatorship like Assad in Israel , or you would like a political system that is based on freedom and democracy, you avoided the answer completely , I asked you your support a dictator over freedom in Syria , you support dictator , by that you imply that Arab do not deserve freedom and democracy , in other word you do not support freedom and democracy as a human principle , you are a prejudice person who has no principles, you talk out of hate and prejudice and not as a decent man support people who revolted against a dictator , butcher, ,you were not ashamed to support Assad who killed half million as long as they are Syrians ,
As for Islam there are several verses in Quraan support freedom and speak against dictators , و ما ارسلناك عليهم حَفِيظًا ، it means we did not sent you to be dictator on the people , لا اكراه في الدين ،لكم دينكم و لي ديني، no coercion in Islam , you have your religion and I have my religion , و ما انت تكره الناس ان يكونوا مؤمنين ، do not force people to become Muslems , the prophet stood up and prayed for a Jewish guy as his funeral ,of the Jew ,passed by, Quraan said Jews , Christians and people of Noah they will go to heaven if they do good deeds. And God will judge them , Quraan mentioned that Faroah was a tyrant and his people who followed him were bad and corrupt , Quraan said do not coerce women , give them their rights that God provided for them , be nice to women they are like glass easy to break , love your mother three times more than your father, Islam forbade put an infant girl to death after birth
There are several rebels groups signed for democracy and rule of law, they signed paper that they will abide with democratic system , the Tunisian rebels pulled back as secularist won the election , in Turkey the system is democratic , the rebels in Syria are fighting ISIS
You are a prejudice ,person full of hate , and not a man of principles and I have no desire of wasting my time further , until you change.

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May 2nd, 2016, 9:05 pm

 

40. Akbar Palace said:

Majedkhaldoun,

Thank you for the Koranic verses with your explanation. I only hear bad things, so I appreciate hearing the good things from the Koran.

Look, Baathism as I understand was fairly secular. I really don’t get it. If Assad had instituted elections and an open government, Syria could have been a shining example. The question is, could it have succeeded or would some other force within or outside of Syria scuttled this possibility? Iran, Muslim Brotherhood, etc.

Meanwhile, Israel guarantees freedom of/and from religion for all its citizens. Very much like the US. The Talmud is only important to those that believe it to be important and not the Israeli government.

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May 2nd, 2016, 10:23 pm

 

41. Aquinas said:

Majedkhaldoun let me quote the medieval sheikh al islam who is misunderstood by all sides today :This is a lesson of humanism to the essentialist haters of Islam :

Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said, “Allah will support the just state even if it is led by unbelievers, but Allah will not support the oppressive state even if it is led by believers.”

Source: Majmū’ Fatāwá 28/63

قال ابن تيمية رحمه الله اللَّهُ يَنْصُرُ الدَّوْلَةَ الْعَادِلَةَ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ كَافِرَةً وَلَا يَنْصُرُ الدَّوْلَةَ الظَّالِمَةَ وَإِنْ كَانَتْ مُؤْمِنَةً

28/63 مجموع فتاوى ابن تيمية

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May 3rd, 2016, 4:51 am

 

42. Tara said:

Akbar

Brilliant!

“The Talmud is only important to those that believe it to be important and not to…” I totally agree that it is only important to those that believe it.

In the same token, The controversial verses in Quraan are only important to people who believe in its literal interpretation ( and of course to haters) and not to the vast majority of Syrians or Arabs

So Why denying right of freedom and democracy to the Syrian people although we already showed that controversial verses are present in all religion. Isn’t that prototype arrogance at its best if not bigotry and visceral hatred.

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May 3rd, 2016, 2:28 pm

 

43. Akbar Palace said:

Tara,

I guess my point was that the Talmud and the millions of nuances, laws and opinions have NOTHING to do with Israeli law. None.

The Talmud is a series of commentaries by old, almost ancient “luminaries”, sages and rabbis that the orthodox take very seriously, but NOT THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT. My wife has a religious cousin who has the full volume of the Talmud. He studies it. Many religious Jews do, but it is only for their edification, not for any legal purpose.

Israel’s use of religion is relegated to ensuring kosher restaurants are really kosher, holidays and marriage. Other than that, anything goes. There is no Jewish Law forced on anyone. If I want to eat pig in Israel, I can, and no one can do anything about it.

In Muslim countries, especially theocracies like Iran, I can get the death penalty for a number of infractions against Islam. Am I wrong? Indeed, some muslim/arab countries are liberal (Lebanon?) and some are quite rigid like Iran and Saudi Arabia.

BTW, I guess you heard about the Israeli murderer who killed a young Palestinian? He will NOT see the light of day for the rest of his life. Most Israelis are quite pleased. Not all, but MOST. Nothing is ever black and white. In this case, its so white, you couldn’t tell the difference.

As you know I want EVERY arab and muslim country in the Middle East to be free. That would be a WIN-WIN for everyone.

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May 3rd, 2016, 4:19 pm

 

44. Alan said:

Blog of chattering continue to false reality dirty undeclared war against my country.

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May 3rd, 2016, 4:34 pm

 

45. Alan said:

Blog of chattering continue to false reality of dirty undeclared war against my country.

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May 3rd, 2016, 4:35 pm

 

46. Alan said:

Blog of chattering continue to false reality of dirty undeclared war against my country.

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May 3rd, 2016, 4:35 pm

 

47. Tara said:

AP


I guess my point was that the Talmud and the millions of nuances, laws and opinions have NOTHING to do with Israeli law. None.”

I totally understand your point .

My point is not about you or Israel. My point is that controversial verses exist in all religion and Assad should not be protected because some people believe in it . My point is that those who support him (outside his beneficiaries) support him out of bigotry and hatred, convincing themselves that they are “loving” and protecting Syria from the “evil Muslim revolutionists .

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May 3rd, 2016, 5:33 pm

 

48. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Tara,

As Akbar said “the Talmud have NOTHING to do with Israeli law. None”.
You can take a glimpse into Israel’s basic laws, which serve as a future constitution https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Laws_of_Israel
You will see that there’s nothing to do with the Talmud or the Torah.

This is my point: if there were Jewish Jihadis who tried to impose the Biblical laws on my political existence, I would have fought them. This is, in my eyes, what Muslims should do with their Jihadis.

Majed,

I have no intention of arguing with the Koranic verses you posted. There are also Biblical verses that are horrible, cruel, nasty and racist. We in Israel don’t adopt them as the law of the country.

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May 3rd, 2016, 5:37 pm

 

49. Majedkhaldoun said:

It is well documented by sky news , a British news that there is complete co ordinations between ISIS and Assad, and the withdrawal from Palmyra was one of those deals , it is clear now that what we said proved to be true, that ISIS is not Islamic terrorist entity , it is a branch of Assad intelligence agency, Mukhabarat , all who criticised ISIS , now must now criticised Assad and his regime
I said before that get rid of ISIS is half way to get rid of Assad,
I remember that one person who is responsible in this Syria comment ridiculed us when we said that ISIS is coordinating with Assad

Kerry news conference today made clear plan , it implied an ultimatum

Akbar
Trump won the republican nomination

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May 3rd, 2016, 9:54 pm

 

50. Ghufran said:

Islamist terrorists are the fighting prostitutes used by all since the afghan war which led Reagan to arm those terrorists to kill soviet soldiers. The only regime that consistently stood behind Islamist terrorists is that of KSA, any “analysis” that picks and chooses and ignores the beef is a mere cows po.p. Assad did not survive because he is good, he survived because he has few loyal friends and many enemies that are worse than him. Spare us the hallucinations about universal hatred and universal good, the Middle East is a pool full of sharks and predators with many small fish that get eaten to benefit the fat fish. Stop the war and kick ALL foreign fighters and things will get better, slowly but steadily. Syrians want to live and will not fight forever. Assad is now an excuse used by both sides to prevent a grand bargain, that bargain is a national necessity.

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May 4th, 2016, 12:46 am

 

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