“The US Censors Syrian Internet,” By Idaf

The US Censors Syrian Internet
By Idaf, January 24, 2010
for Syria Comment

Sourceforge just became the latest US-based entity to censor Syria along with five other countries. Despite being one of the leading proponents of “open source” and “free” software, Sourceforge has succumbed to pressure from the US government to deny access to its products to millions of people. It is betraying its own values and its promise to bring products that are produced by everyone to everyone.

Sourceforge is only the latest Internet company to join Washington’s call to target Syrian citizens with sanctions. A long list of US based businesses have already denied their services to Syria’s increasingly Internet savvy youth. Microsoft refuses to provide technical courses and certificates to Syrian nationals, whether they live in Syria or anywhere else in the world. Google blocked the ability of anyone living in Syria to download their software tools. Cisco blocked sales of its infrastructure networking devices to Syria, RIM (Blackberry) has prevented its services from reaching Syria. Godaddy (and similar Internet hosting services) took down websites hosted on their servers by Syrians, regardless of content. US companies in the Gulf have reversed their decision to hire Syrian engineers, after their US lawyers warned them that they might be vulnerable to law suits by the US Treasury Department.

Ironically, the US government has long since outstripped the Syrian government as the main censor of the web for tech savvy Syrians. The Syrian government is all thumbs when it comes to censorship of the Internet.  Any smart Syrian will tell you his government’s efforts to block websites is practically useless. The overwhelming majority of internet surfers in Syria can easily bypass the efforts of government blocking through the use of proxy sites and free tools. US businesses have oddly become the real censors of the Syrian web.

Does this serve American interests? It is hard to see how. The stated objective of the policy is to “stop US technologies from reaching terrorists.” The only problem with this lofty goal is that all the  “terrorist” organizations that America accuses Syria of supporting are based outside Syria:  Hamas is in Palestine; Hizbullah is in Lebanon; and Iraqi insurgents live in Iraq. The US sanctions none off these countries. On the contrary, US IT corporations pour money into these three countries under CSR, development and market expansion plans. And besides, the technology of these companies reaches Syrians through third parties. Of course, the restriction make the technology more expensive and it annoys us, but we get it. Cisco routers can be purchased in Damascus; they are brought from Lebanon. Cheap Chinese knock offs are also easily obtained in the Syrian market. One can also argue that Washington’s policy is also counter-productive because it will cause long term damage to US businesses in these region.

Even more damaging for the US is the anger it instills in Syrian youth — after all, it is overwhelmingly college age Syrians and young professionals who are affected by this policy. When they try to update a program or download software and are notified that they cannot because they are suspected of supporting terror, they get angry and feel that their dignity has been affronted.

Secretary Clinton recently delivered a speech in which she stated: “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” She mentioned China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt as countries that censor the Internet. But from the perspective of a young Syrians, the US is just as guilty.  Syrians hear US officials preach about “freedom of information,” but they experience a very different practice. To the average Syrian citizen, these policies seem to be unprovoked attacks on their rightful access to the Internet. They think of American restrictions exactly as they think about their own government’s efforts to block Facebook or YouTube.

US businesses are as guilty as the US government in the eyes of ordinary Syrians. These businesses are only playing it safe by following lawyers advice yet no federal lawsuit has ever been brought against any business making its online service available to Syrians. It strikes Syrians as completely hypocritical that Google is pulling out of the Chinese market because the Chinese government is requesting that it censor Internet search results, yet it thinks nothing of  “censoring” Syrians by banning them from hosting software projects on its servers, blocking downloads of its free software in Syria, such as the browser “Chrome,” and banning Syrian online publishers from receiving funds from Google’s  advertising services (AdSense), while allowing non-Syrian advertisers to target Syrians and encourage travelers to visit the beauties of our country. It just doesn’t make sense to us. Syrian youth believe that the US government and corporations are being capricious and mean.

All the same, Syrians manage to find creative ways to be active online in all fields despite the censorship of our own and America’s governments. See this article, for example: Founded by Syrian Entrepreneur, Google Acquires Admob for US 750 million.

Abdulrahman Idlbi, a Syrian student and entrepreneur, explains how Syria’s online community views America’s policy to be twisted in this article. American sanctions hurt US businesses, alienate Arab youth, and do nothing to combat terrorism.

[End]

Addendum: Here is a note I was forwarded by Alex

Subject: Open Souce Issue in Syria
Dear Mr. Alex,

I am the General Director of Advanced Tech company, one of the leading software companies within Syria. And I would like to share with you our point of view relevant to the act by SourceForge to block Syria and how that is hurting the private software development industry in Syria.

And since the proprietary software developed in the US is subject to export control which means that it is not possible to have it within the Syrian market, and hence not available to the Syrian private software development industry, the only other resource is open source. And such open source is widely used in several domains including education, health and finance sectors.

Consequently, it is unfair to deprive the Syrian private software industry from open source software, which might be developed any where in the world.

So I would appreciate if our problem can be heard and you can help in finding a solution to this as it is extremely important to develop the private software sector in Syria and help in turn to improve the standard of living for the Syrian people.

Yours truly,
Ammar ALALI: a.alali@advancedtech-sy.com

Tear down these virtual walls
Don’t let anti-freedom firewalls threaten the Internet’s impact on democracy.
(By Carl Bildt, The Washington Post)

Comments (51)


1. Off the Wall said:

Dear IDAF
Thank you for this article. I am appalled.

I believe that we should all write our representatives showing the hypocrisy of this policy. There is no freedom of information without freedom of access to tools of information.

I call on every Syrian in the US, Europe, and everywhere, especially the academics, to start a major campaign. The article IDAF wrote is an excellent article. It is well written and I think it makes an excellent “letter to the editor”. It should be circulated as a press release. I think we should start with some of the Arab American organizations.

Can we make it big, can we make it stink like the skunk it is.

Alex, you are the whiz, what is the best medium?

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January 25th, 2010, 9:23 am

 

2. Akbar Palace said:

IDAF states:

Does this serve American interests? It is hard to see how. The stated objective of the policy is to “stop US technologies from reaching terrorists.” The only problem with this lofty goal is that all the “terrorist” organizations that America accuses Syria of supporting are based outside Syria: Hamas is in Palestine; Hizbullah is in Lebanon; and Iraqi insurgents live in Iraq.

IDAF,

I don’t think you make a convincing case. When American commercial airliners are still being targeted, and terror alerts are climbing, I don’t think Americans are going to look favorably upon supporting contries like Syria. Also, what you didn’t mention is that the terror organizations you mentioned above all have offices in Syria.

Due to our open press and media, Americans are fairly knowledgeable about the Middle East, and I don’t believe they are going to fall for that.

Once again, it seems to me you want to “have your cake and eat it”. Good luck with that.

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January 25th, 2010, 1:23 pm

 

3. offended said:

When American commercial airliners are still being targeted, and terror alerts are climbing, I don’t think Americans are going to look favorably upon supporting contries like Syria.

Talk about non sequiturs.

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January 25th, 2010, 2:02 pm

 

4. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

“Once again, it seems to me you want to “have your cake and eat it”. Good luck with that.”

Speaking of having and eating too. check this out.

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/01/24/netanyahu-declares-portions-of-the-west-bank-eternally-part-of-israel/

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January 25th, 2010, 2:57 pm

 

5. Off the Wall said:

AP
when your beloved Israel was calling PLO a terrorist Organization. The PLO had offices in many European Capitals.

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January 25th, 2010, 3:20 pm

 

6. Akbar Palace said:

OTW,

True, except that IDAF’s thread is specifically concerned with American relations with Syria. If IDAF wants better US relations with Syria, IMO, Syria needs to be taken off that short list of countries that support terrorism. Of course, you may want to discuss what “terrorism” means from a US State Dept. representative. Or maybe Professor Josh knows, since he used to be a Co-Director of “Peace Studies”.

The US officially recognized the PLO after the Madrid Conference in 1991.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Liberation_Organization

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January 25th, 2010, 3:54 pm

 

7. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE’s views while somewhat condensending still comply with:-

Benjamin Netanyahu declaration that portions of the occupied West Bank are “eternally” part of Israel.

Attending a tree-planting ceremony in one of the settlements, Netanyahu proclaimed that “we are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel for eternity.” He added that the settlements were part of “sovereign Jerusalem.”

and a continuation of Sharon’s policies abetted by the US,

a).”Everybody has to move, run and grab as many (Palestinian) hilltops as they can to enlarge the (Jewish) settlements because everything we take now will stay ours…Everything we don’t grab will go to them.”
– Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, Nov. 15, 1998.

(b) “Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online

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January 25th, 2010, 4:08 pm

 

8. Observer53 said:

One should look at the persistent animosity between the current US amdinistration and that of Syria as token gesture on the part of Obama to garner the AIPAC vote in the upcoming elections.

One must agree that Syria has done an excellent job of positioning itself in the region by essentially insuring that Lebanon will not become an arena against it in the near or distant future. It forced France and Egypt and Saudi Arabia to acquiesce to its concerns. The proof is Jumps a Lot ( Jumblat ) and how he ate his own words and folded neatlty into the new situation. If the US or any other entity think that they can badger the Syrians to anything they do not agree with then they should look into the Israeli case. The Syrians have learned from the Israelis that they will not compromise on some of their red lines no matter what and they will try to hold to cards to bargain with.

Iran intervened in a big way in Iraq recently denying the Sunnis a representation promtping Biden to fly to Baghdad only to be rebuffed. Talk about a superpower being cut to size. The Sunnis will have to work with others than the US to defend their interests. They are in the same situation that the Kurds were in in 1975 when Kissinger sold them to the dealings of the late Shah and the late Saddam. Iran also occupied an oil field to show that they can bring border discussions to the fore. Creating tensions and showing the US that they can create hell for them as they are trying to draw down the troops and call the mascarade of a democracy that is Iraq now a success.

The mighty Saudi army and air force with billions and billions of ardware cannot come to grips with the Rebels in Yemen. The Egtptians cannot control their own police as they are fully active in smuggling across all of its borders. Extremists have now established a base in Yemen or so we are led to believe and the Israelis who never forget and never forgive are itching and inching to war with HA.

Which brings me back to the first point. If Obama is trying to distract the population from his first 8 months of dithering by some foolish adventure in the ME, then he is more foolish than GWB. The cards have been reshuffled and the Superpower is no more.

Watch the end of the Sino American honeymoon and let us see what happens to this one term president.

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January 25th, 2010, 4:25 pm

 

9. Akbar Palace said:

Ghat,

I don’t think BB’s statements conflict with anything proposed earlier, whether is was Olmert’s Plan or Ehud Barak’s Plan (from Camp David). The 67 borders/green line is already ancient history.

Certainly, it would be nice to get a Palestinian proposal to respond to, but no one is holding their breath.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D171209/olmertmap.pdf

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January 25th, 2010, 4:35 pm

 

10. idaf said:

OTW,

Yes, this is a policy that is damaging to everyone, the US and Syria. To grasp the magnitude of its idiocy, you can compare it to a hypothetical policy where the US government decides to ban export of books to the United Kingdom because it does not want the IRA to access weapon-making knowledge in Ireland! It is exactly the same.

I agree with Observer53′s comment. The policy/law came to existence only because of electioneering politics in the US over time. It is one of those tokens that politicians running for office (or those wanting to keep their chairs) exchange with powerful lobbyists (AIPAC in the case of Syria, Cuban-American lobby in case of inclusion of Cuba in this policy, etc.) It does not consider the American interests in any shape or form.

If the US government’s objective was really stopping technologies from reaching the so-called “terrorist” organizations that Syria is accused of supporting, then one might have understood if it decided instead to stop major US players in the IT industry from pouring money, supporting universities or even doing business in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Palestinian territories. A Hizbullah technological warfare operative will not travel to Damascus to download a free internet tool from Google’s website! He will do this from his home in Beirut. If a Hamas member living in Jordan buys Cisco hardware or a Microsoft operating system he can request a Cisco or Microsoft engineer to come in person and install it in his office. He will also be entitled for free support. The Microsoft certified engineer himself can very well be a Palestinian member of “Islamic Jihad” or a former Iraqi “insurgent” taking refuge in Amman, and employed by a Microsoft partner in Jordan. An Iranian Basij member can walk to a US company showroom in Basra or Dubai and buy all the US made technical equipment his heart desires.

In a more blatant example, the number one enemy of the US as we’re being told is Al-Qaida. Who can deny an Al-Qaida member from walking into a US ICT business showroom in Karachi and purchasing highly sophisticated US gadgets or software in Pakistan that he can later use to design or manufacture explosive devices in Afghanistan?

The bottom line is that the policy is useless, counter-productive and even severely damaging to US standing and national interests, not to mention being a breach of a human right.

The US should be promoting technological and information knowledge sharing with every country. Access to information and knowledge is indeed a human right as many leaders are increasingly calling for. One needs more bridges not less.

Thanks OTW for being proactive. Letters to editors or representatives can help, at least in raising awareness. There are many many “freedom of information” activists in academia, scientific and online communities and business circles who are simply not aware of this policy. They can do something if they become more aware.

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January 25th, 2010, 5:20 pm

 

11. Ghat Albird said:

A foreboding of events to come to the Middle East?

Turkish, Afghan and Pakistani leaders are to gather in Istanbul for a regional security summit that focuses on Afghanistan, followed by meetings with the Iranian vice-president and the Chinese foreign minister.

The summit on Monday brings together Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president; his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai; and Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president.

The Russian deputy prime minister also expected to attend.

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January 25th, 2010, 6:13 pm

 

12. Jillian C. York said:

What this comes down to for me is: What interests does this application of the sanctions serve? Who does it affect? While the export and trade controls that prevent Syrian planes from entering US airspace certainly serve a purpose (even if one doesn’t agree with them), the restrictions on software only harm the very average Syrians, Iranians, and Sudanese the US is trying to make nice with. In Hillary Clinton’s Internet freedom speech, she stated that “We [the US] stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” If that’s true, then why limit Syrian users’ access to open source software? That’s absurd.

And Akbar Palace, don’t think for a second that the average American is remotely informed about the Middle East. Most can’t place Iraq on a map. Additionally, while Syria may or may not “fund terrorism,” please name the last time a civilian Syrian committed a terror attack anywhere remotely related to the United States. Didn’t think so.

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January 25th, 2010, 6:50 pm

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

Jillian C. York said:

And Akbar Palace, don’t think for a second that the average American is remotely informed about the Middle East. Most can’t place Iraq on a map.

Jillian C. York,

Frankly, you have no data to support your conclusion. So it seems to me your statement only reflects your anti-American bias.

Because hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have been to Iraq, I think related families, communities as well as schools are teaching quite A LOT about these regions. This is my opinion.

Additionally, while Syria may or may not “fund terrorism,” please name the last time a civilian Syrian committed a terror attack anywhere remotely related to the United States.

BTW, one can commit terrorism whether one is a civilian or combatant.

Syria not only funds terrorism, she gives terror organizations safe haven and supplies them with arms.

Lastly, as you may or may not know, state sponsors of terror are IMMENSELY careful not to have the terrorist trail lead back to the state sponsor. Syria is quite public about their support for these organizations as well as supplying them with arms. However, implicating a single terrorist back to a state sponsor is lethal politically. Perhaps you remember the Hindawi affair or the more recent Harriri assassination.

http://www.danielpipes.org/1064/terrorism-the-syrian-connection

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January 25th, 2010, 10:37 pm

 

14. jay said:

Mr. Landis,

Your utter blindness to the crimes of the Syrian regime, whether against the Lebanese, Iraqis, Palestinians or its own people, and your obsolete defense of this bankrupt regime are beyond reason.

This Syrian that you’re so fond off been imposing a state of emergency on its people for more than 40 years. We don’t see you calling for the rights of the Syrian people or the political descents who are decaying in Syrian jails. I’d think that would be much worthy and conscientious of your efforts.

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January 25th, 2010, 11:53 pm

 

15. just asking said:

Why do the Syrian people when they can’t download a certain piece of software get mad first and foremost at the US government and not at their own government? There are two sides in this issue. The US and Syria. The aim of the sanctions is to put pressure on Syria to stop supporting terrorist organizations.

Why is it not the case that Syrians ask themselves if supporting these organizations is really worth it? Why IDAF do you only blame one side?

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January 26th, 2010, 12:18 am

 

16. Ghat Albird said:

Lets summarize name callings.

When was the last time Syria or its socalled allies terorized and/or killed 1600 men, women and children and finally called a racist state by the UN?

Which nation on this planet has more individuals in prison than any other?

Which nation has tortured individuals in the manner used in Guantanamo?

Which nation has had close to a hundred UN Resolutions “condemning” its
actions?

Which nation continually threatens its neighbors with nuclear war?

Which nation continually overflies the air space of its neighbors?

Which nation on a daily basis robotically kills 10/16 men, women and children?

How the Syrian leadership/government governs itself is the sole concern of its
population. The same protocol is the privy of every state.

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January 26th, 2010, 1:47 am

 

17. Peter said:

Actually AP, I think Jillian was referring to a specific study in 2006 which did indeed demonstrate that Americans more often than not cannot find Iraq on a map: http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/02/geog.test/

So there is, in fact, data to support her conclusion.

I hope we’ve made progress since then, but I’d be more than a little worried that a study done in 2010 might yield similar results.

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January 26th, 2010, 1:48 am

 

18. Jillian C. York said:

Akbar Palace,

I was born and raised in the United States. I live there now. I spend my time in one of the U.S.’s most educated cities, and I can guarantee you, some of the smartest people I know couldn’t name the president of Syria, or the king of Morocco, or whether or not Morocco even has a king. Perhaps I was exaggerating with my prior comment, but I still don’t believe that the American populace is educated about the Arab world.

As for the sanctions, you lost me when you said “Daniel Pipes.”

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January 26th, 2010, 2:18 am

 

19. Jillian C. York said:

Oh, and you want proof that Americans know little about the Middle East? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/11/1120_021120_GeoRoperSurvey.html

Only 17% of students surveyed can identify Afghanistan on a map.
11% couldn’t even locate the United States on a map.

And just a few months ago, FOX News misidentified Iraq on their map: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/wealthofnations/archive/2009/07/29/fox-news-middle-east-map-fail.aspx

So don’t tell me I’m anti-American. I fight for better education in my country, but I also know how to call a spade a spade.

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January 26th, 2010, 2:26 am

 

20. Off the Walll said:

Jillian
I think AP meant to say that we are educated “enough” about the ME for Israel to pass what it wants.

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January 26th, 2010, 2:44 am

 

21. just asking said:

The discussion has not advanced in 40 years. The same thought processes that have led to the failures in the Arab world continue. Ajami (page 41 in the canto edition) quotes Kamal Yusif al Hajj a Lebanese professor of philosophy that wrote 40 years ago that the West was merely deceived by Zionism and once the Arabs were able to show the West that it is wrong things will change. This view was widely held then.

The “great illusion” persists. The West are stupid and ignorant. That is why the Zionists are strong. After so many years, isn’t it time to admit that this is just not true? The West supports Israel because Israel, warts and all, is seen by the West as part of the West.

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January 26th, 2010, 5:01 am

 

22. Alex said:

Akbar I posted this clip before but I’ll post it again for you. A large percentage of Americans who can vote to elect the most powerful man (or woman) on earth are not qualified to do that. If they were electing a leader of a country with no global responsibilities then it is perfectly fine if they did not have the time to learn much about the rest of the world. But the last President of the United States that had no clue about most of what was going on on the planet, Mr. George W Bush, is the revenge-seeking man that was manipulated into invading Iraq where millions paid a heavy price for his ignorance and his terrible personality traits.

He is also the man who took the decision to place more sanctions against Syria.

I understand that you might think that it is not my business to interfere in internal American affairs … but in return I would expect the President you chose to elect to not interfere in Syrian or Iraqi affairs.

Here is the clip for your enjoyment

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January 26th, 2010, 5:25 am

 

23. just asking said:

Alex,
Obama continues the sanctions on Syria. So were the people that voted for him stupid? Almost all the Democratic congress people support continuation of the sanctions on Syria. Almost all of them also supported the war in Iraq and kept funding it through continuous votes over several election periods. It wasn’t Bush alone that went to Iraq. He had very strong support from the Democrats. So there is not just a problem with some American voters. It seems there is a problem with all American voters.

Do you really believe that the Americans are not qualified to choose their Congress and President?

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January 26th, 2010, 5:45 am

 

24. Shai said:

OTW,

That was a good one… :-)

Akbar,

Suggesting that the average Israeli knows next to nothing about Syria (besides the fact that it supports our enemies), is not being anti-Israeli, it’s being realistic and honest.

Suggesting Israeli education is deteriorating in such horrific rates that we now score at the bottom of the list of developed nations, instead of on top, is also not being anti-Israeli.

In fact, I would argue that for an American citizen or resident to suggest Americans are quite uneducated when it comes to world history, geography, and science, is being very PRO-AMERICAN, not anti.

I know it’s difficult for you to conceive, but recognition and honesty are the first step to correction. We don’t fix our societies by continuously patting each other on the back.

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January 26th, 2010, 6:18 am

 

25. Syria: Netizens Discuss SourceForge Ban | India News Blog, Latest News From India, Latest Blogs From India said:

[...] Comment, guest blogger Idaf questions whether or not the sanctions against Syria are helpful, and questions who they serve: Does this serve American interests? It is hard to see how. The stated objective of [...]

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January 26th, 2010, 6:43 am

 

26. Ghassan Shannan said:

I was wondering whether any of these companies and/or the American Administration would dare take any action against any Israeli who spied on the most sensitive American installation?? . Could the American Administration count how many Syrians were involved in any terrorist acts against the US, I believe there is no n or perhaps very few. What a shame from a country claim to be the guardian of liberty and freedom all over the world. This action will create more hate and anger towards the American (I am sorry to say this, but it is true), everybody in Syria feel that such action is purely racist one and it is against the Syrians not against their Government.

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January 26th, 2010, 6:47 am

 

27. offended said:

Just Asking,

American unconditional and blind support of Israel isn’t an illusion.

34 US vetoes in the UN SC, over the period of 60 years, to save Israel’s backside from global shaming, isn’t an illusion.

American unconditional support of Israel’s unjust and unlawful conduct is harming American interests in the Middle East.

The west supports Israel because of powerful lobbies. America didn’t give jackshit how culturally similar her allies in the Middle East have been over the years. It supported the monarch against the democratic and the theocratic against the secular. The ‘Great Illusion’ is your own inability to see the blatant hypocrisy.

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January 26th, 2010, 8:57 am

 

28. Syrian Marxist-Leninist Nihilist said:

Long live Lenin!

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January 26th, 2010, 11:25 am

 

29. Akbar Palace said:

Perhaps I was exaggerating with my prior comment, but I still don’t believe that the American populace is educated about the Arab world.

Jillian C. York,

cc: Peter

You stated that:

And Akbar Palace, don’t think for a second that the average American is remotely informed about the Middle East. Most can’t place Iraq on a map.

There are no statistics showing how well “informed” one nation is.

Peter’s links show about 1/3 of US kids can point to Iraq on a map.

I guess good education is a continous process and we should never be satisfied. But is the “average American” less astute about the Middle East than they were before or compared to other countries? I doubt it.

Judging from the literacy rates of Americans vs. Syrians (99% vs 80%, ref: CIA Factbook), I’d say American kids are significantly more knowledgeable than Syrian kids.

I think AP meant to say that we are educated “enough” about the ME for Israel to pass what it wants.

OTW,

I think the more educated the person, the more pro-Israel that person is likely to be. Being well-educated usually means the person is open-mided. This is probably why Hamas and al-Queda recruit the less-educated and psychologically vulnerable to do their dirty work.

He is also the man who took the decision to place more sanctions against Syria.

Alex,

President Obama is VERY well-educated. He decided to extend the sanctions against Syria. Do you have another excuse, now that education didn’t work? We can always fall back on AIPAC. I wouldn’t want to make this too complicated for you.

American unconditional and blind support of Israel isn’t an illusion.

Offended,

That’s right. And it goes way beyond 2% of the American population and AIPAC.

What you’re all failing to see is that even with a non-sympathetic administration (I recall George Bush the elder and his Secretary of State James Baker), no US government will cut off relations with Israel, force Israel back to the ’67 borders (with no presence in Old City), or not support Israel if attacked.

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January 26th, 2010, 1:20 pm

 

30. Jillian C. York said:

Judging from the literacy rates of Americans vs. Syrians (99% vs 80%, ref: CIA Factbook), I’d say American kids are significantly more knowledgeable than Syrian kids.

Interesting that you’d bring that up. You do know that literacy rates indicate only a basic ability to read and write, don’t you? So what you’re saying is that an American child who can read at a 4th grade level must be more knowledgeable about the world than a Syrian child who can’t? That’s just silly, AP, literacy has nothing to do with global knowledge.

In fact, I would argue that the United States is far more insular than Syria (as is its media), thus children aren’t taught to care about the rest of the world. I know I wasn’t. I went through 12 years of public school in a suburban/semi-rural town, and had absolutely no required education on global geography or world history. The two required semesters of high school history focused on American history only, up to World War II. In fact, I don’t remember a single mention of the Middle East in school, ever. Or Israel, for that matter, except for the semester in English class when we read “The Diary of Anne Frank.”

And I highly doubt education has improved that much since the ’80s and ’90s.

But I know I can’t win with you, because you’ll come back with yet another inane, meaningless argument about how Americans are so smart, despite all anecdotal and factual evidence to the contrary.

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January 26th, 2010, 1:40 pm

 

31. just asking said:

Offended,
The “great illusion” is not that the US and the West support Israel. It is the notion that they do so because they are stupid and ill informed and are somehow manipulated by Zionism. You believe that when it comes to Israel, the US acts against its interests because AIPAC or some other Zionist lobby is able to deceive or influence the US public and elected officials to do what is bad for the US. That is the “great illusion”.

At the bottom of this view are two assumptions:
1) Americans are really dumb and can easily be deceived by Zionists.
2) Zionists are super human communicators that can manipulate the world’s superpower to act against its interests.

I find the assumptions to be clearly wrong, but we can disagree.

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January 26th, 2010, 2:20 pm

 

32. Akbar Palace said:

…meaningless argument about how Americans are so smart

Jillian C. York,

Please don’t put words in my mouth. I never said “Americans are so smart”.

In fact, I would argue that the United States is far more insular than Syria (as is its media)…

The US is “far more insular than Syria” when our media is free and open compared to a Syrian media that is sanitized and censored?

Sure argue all you want.

Not without risk

Blogging on political issues in Syria is, however, not without risk. Tarek Baiassi, 24, was sentenced to three years prison in May last year after posting comments online criticising the state. Baiassi, from Tartous, had originally been sentenced to six years, but had the sentence cut in half. In another high-profile case, Kareem Arabji, 30, was arrested in June 2007, allegedly for moderating a popular online forum for Syrian youth covering social and political issues.

Not representative

The number of Syrian blogs may be increasing, but most bloggers concede their online community is still tiny and does not reflect the diversity of their society.

“Syrian bloggers represent a very narrow social class,” Sasa said. “It’s also quite insular in that it’s a group of people talking amongst themselves and not sharing anything with anyone outside.”

http://www.syria-today.com/index.php/january-2009/108-focus/390-finding-their-virtual-voices

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January 26th, 2010, 2:23 pm

 

33. idaf said:

Interesting reaction from the open source community to Sourceforge official statement on this. It seems that many people are closing accounts with Sourceforge after it decided to betray its own values. Another example of ill-advised US laws working against US businesses. Read the comments below the statement:
http://sourceforge.net/blog/clarifying-sourceforgenets-denial-of-site-access-for-certain-persons-in-accordance-with-us-law/

Here’s a quote of a comment by a German Sourceforge user: “I am sorry sourceforge, but there is ALWAYS the way NOT to obey.
I am a german and a lot of people here died because the mass of the people obeyed what a certain group told em. After a while a lot of people believed in it, even helped it and everyone knows whats happened.”

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January 26th, 2010, 2:39 pm

 

34. Alex said:

Akbar Palace

If those Sarah Palin supporters did not impress you, I would like to remind you of millions of Americans who love Israel because wonderful human beings, who regularly meet with Israeli Prime ministers, lead them in that direction:

http://www.patrobertson.com/Speeches/IsraelLauder.asp

“Iran announced in advance they are going to use their nuclear weapons against Israel!”

And you wonder how brainwashing works?

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January 26th, 2010, 6:00 pm

 

35. Nour said:

Just Asking,

American politicians pursue and vote for particular policies because they have personal interests in doing so. The power of the Lobby isn’t that it can easily deceive “dumb” American politicians, but that it can affect their ability to get elected and their political standing in such a way that they see it as being in their interest to support “Israel.” I have dealt with individual politicians and I know what they look for. If you have no ability to get them elected (or unelected) then they really have no reason to listen to you or to address your concerns.

As for the mass public, it is fairly easy to sway their thinking with a heavy dose of propaganda, which the US media regularly practices. We all know now that the justifications used to prop up the war against Iraq in the media were all lies and fabrications, yet most of the US populace believed it. Is it because they are dumb? No, but it’s because exploiting people’s emotions and sympathies in a propagandistic manner is a devious but useful tool in shaping overall public opinion and perception. Most Americans only see one side of the struggle, as lies, fabrications, distorted facts, and misinformation are continually infused into their minds through the nationwide media network.

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January 26th, 2010, 6:16 pm

 

36. robinson said:

can’t anyone just stroll down to البحصة and pick up Windows 7 for like $1.50?

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January 26th, 2010, 6:21 pm

 

37. just asking said:

Alex,

For you consideration: Is posting what Pat Robertson says really helping your cause?

If what Pat Robertson says is evidence for anything, is what Al-Qardawi says evidence also? The latter is much more influential in the Arab world than Pat Robertson is in the US.

There are radicals everywhere, but to claim that the Americans are simpletons and influenced more by radicals than any other people is in my opinion unfair and not historically supported.

What you need in my opinion to explain in order to convince is why both Democrats and Republicans have supported Israel. How is it that almost all politicians and voters in the US have for decades voted against US interests? At least for me, the idea that Americans by and large are ignorant or dumb is not convincing. It is much more likely that the interests of the US and Israel are aligned.

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January 26th, 2010, 6:26 pm

 

38. offended said:

Just Asking,

The powerful Israel lobby exists. And it’s real. I wonder if you’d read The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer, he has a pretty interesting definition for it. He shows evidence for its power, and narrates anecdotes ( like the one about 2/3 of the senate reflexively approving whatever the AIPAC proposes, or that lobbyist who claim he could get 60% of congressmen’s signature on a blank piece of nabkin).

To deny the powers of the lobby is illogical.

Now you’re telling me that in my scenario it’s a case of either or. I’d say no, Americans aren’t stupid, but they elect people whom the lobby hold some sort of a sway over. And Zionists aren’t superhuman, but they are powerful and resourceful. (media, business, finance..etc..)

And I don’t mean that in the menacing, anti-semitic way some people might speak of; like a secret cabal meeting and deciding what US foreign policy is. The power of the lobby, as is its formation, is loose and sometimes inconsistent. But it is still powerful vis-a-vis the core issues: settlements, condemning Israel war crimes..etc..

On the other hand, your case for ‘US supports Israel because it’s part of the west’ is, mind my French, full of crap. Why didn’t the US support Apartheid Africa? it also claimed to be part of the west, and harbored traces of the western colonial policies. In fact, now that I think about it, Reagan was supportive of Apartheid south africa for a while. Wasn’t he?

Why didn’t the US continue to support SA?

The case for support of Israel on moral basis is fatuous too: Israel has the power to nuke the middle east to stone age, its air force can overwhelm all arab armies combines, its navy can stave off an invasions by all arab navies combined.

Where is the moral case for the support of Israel?

There’s none. Nothing. Nada. And I suspect you already know that.

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January 26th, 2010, 6:30 pm

 

39. Akbar Palace said:

Most Americans only see one side of the struggle, as lies, fabrications, distorted facts, and misinformation are continually infused into their minds through the nationwide media network.

Nour,

Thanks for the information. We’ll keep your post archived so “most americans” can get both sides of the story. In fact, we’ll let Indymedia, Daily Kos, Antiwar.com, Normanfinkelstein.com, Chomsky.info, ISM, NPR, CNN.com, stormfront, and al-Jazeera to broadcast their views as well.

Alex,

I’ll try to take a look at the clips later tonight.

And Zionists aren’t superhuman, but they are powerful and resourceful. (media, business, finance..etc..)

Offended,

C’mon Offended, go out just a tad longer on the limb. We ARE superhuman. We control your brainwaves. Just ask Jim Baker, Pat Buchanan, and Ron Paul. We control their brainwaves too!

Actually, I wish we as awesomely powerful as the Europeans, Saudis, Japanese, Russians, or Chinese. Oh well!

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January 26th, 2010, 6:40 pm

 

40. Off the Wall said:

AP
and just remember, these good friends of Likud (Robertson et. al.) who want to initiate WW3 have only one aim, to gather all the Jewish people in the holly land in order to accelerate the big battle that will eliminate all infidels, including Jews.

With friends like these, who needs enemy?

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January 26th, 2010, 7:12 pm

 

41. Akbar Palace said:

OTW,

OK thanks for the update on Christian Zionism and their ulterior motives.

Well, at least they recongize Israel as a Jewish state. Let’s give them some credit;)

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January 26th, 2010, 7:50 pm

 

42. Ghat Albird said:

AKBAR PALACE said:

“I wish we as awesomely powerful as the Europeans, Saudis, Japanese, Russians, or Chinese”

AP. Youse forgot to add the Sharon’s brainwaves too. Oh well!

“Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 25 March, 2001 quoted in BBC News Online

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January 26th, 2010, 7:57 pm

 

43. Off the Wall said:

AP

You said,
at least they recongize Israel as a Jewish state

Yes, but only as a “Transient” Jewish state. What shocks me is that I am appalled by their intention towards your people, who happen to be my neighbors and my distant cousins, and you are not. Really disappointing.

When I visited the Holocaust museum few months back, I understood, and internalized the “Never Again” shout, and in my understanding, these people are much more dangerous to Israel’s safety as well as to Syria’s than Hamas or anyone else. Your problem with Hamas can be resolved with sincere negotiation, our problem with Israel can be solved with sincere negotiation, but our problem with these guys can only be resolved when we both accept their religion or when we both die in the fire of their Armageddon. I feel strange having to tell you that.

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January 26th, 2010, 8:17 pm

 

44. offended said:

AP,

If you feel like a superhuman, I can’t stop you. Have it your way ; )

(to be honest, you’re quite ***** for a zionist, let along a propagandist. is that you here? http://bit.ly/4DEqa )

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January 26th, 2010, 8:37 pm

 

45. Shai said:

OTW,

What a fantastic demonstration of understanding and differentiation between reality as-it-is on the ground, and as-hoped-for by Israeli and pro-Israel supporters of Christian “Zionists”. I couldn’t imagine anyone on the “Jewish-side” describing it better!

Akbar,

Listen well to those wise words of OTW’s. He, and the rest of the people in our region, are far closer to us (in almost every sense of the word) than those Evangelical Christians or Christian Zionists, who indeed “need us” for certain apocalyptic battles to take place, and are quite unapologetic about it…

I had a barber once, back in College, who also did a little preachin’ on the side, who used to tell me how necessary it was that “my people” have that last-battle, which would bring about the anti-Christ, who’d bring about the return of Christ himself. I never quite knew whether that was a good thing, or not… :-)

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January 26th, 2010, 8:44 pm

 

46. Global Voices Online » Syria: Netizens Discuss SourceForge Ban said:

[...] Comment, guest blogger Idaf questions whether or not the sanctions against Syria are helpful, and questions who they serve: Does this serve American interests? It is hard to see how. The stated objective of [...]

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January 27th, 2010, 12:31 am

 

47. rchakaki said:

Only education and access to free press break down barriers and foster understanding, peace, collaboration and a better world. One people, one knowledge base, one human kind. Nothing else works!

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January 27th, 2010, 7:22 pm

 

48. annon said:

Hello

Thanks for this. However, people might disagree with your “Does this serve American interests? It is hard to see how.”
It seems to be the new policy is implementing harsher umbrella restrictions, which are targeting normal citizens.

An interesting analysis in Arabic here (http://all4syria.info/content/view/21273/161/ )

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February 10th, 2010, 9:28 am

 

49. چرا واشنگتن به کاربران اینترنت سوریه هم چراغ سبز نشان نمی‌دهد؟ « دالبا said:

[...] شده، به عنوان مثالی درخشان از دورویی آمریکا مطرح شد. [مقاله‌ی دیدگاه سوریه توسط Idaf را مشاهده [...]

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March 20th, 2010, 12:22 pm

 

50. Naji said:

This is very interesting board, I love the lively discussion. I also understand the frustration of the normal Syrian citizen when it come to the sanctions on companies like Google and Cisco. It’s easy to point the finger and blame president Obama for the sanctions, but these sanction were in place prior to him taking office. My opinion as a dual citizen of both Syria and America is to be patient with president Obama, he face great pressure from the right wings and the Fox networks. Looking back at the election and all of us who stood and supported the president in his election bid, the past year we had a difficult road but we accomplished great deal thanks to the president. The citizen of the world should unite and support president Obama even if he seem not to move fast enough for some of us. Just think of the alternative if senator McCain and Palin won the election, the sanction on American companies like Google would seem like nothing to the alternatives

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April 14th, 2010, 11:27 pm

 

51. ydoom said:

Hello all
i think most of people in here are clueless about syria and syrian regime.
Syrian authorities follow very complicated policy specially when its related to America and Israel.
the root cause for terrorism in the world i think are Israels and their act in the occupied lands in syria , lebanon and palestine.?( i dont justify terrorism under any condition)
Syrians support blindly any one who are against Israel either they are extremists or any other groups.
too many organizations that Syria support actually Syrians are against in ideology.
it is the secular regime policy and these organizations are not allowed to be active in syria.
as example: Syria in ideology against Iran regime but they are strategic alliance simply because Iran against Israel. and let us remember that Syrians were against Iran before the revolution simply because the Shah regime at that time was American and Israel ally.

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May 28th, 2010, 2:38 pm

 

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