Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Right and Left united against the Syrian revolution

Expand Messages
  • Danny Postel
    [image: Home] http://www.boell.de/en/node/277307 Dr. Ziad Majed Professor for International Relations, American
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 16, 2014
      Home


      Dr. Ziad Majed

      Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)

      Right and Left against the revolution

      24. May. 2013
      Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture: FreedomHouse2, Original: flickr.com, License: CC BY 2.0

      Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

      For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

      We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western”) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

      The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

      The “complexity”

      One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts” in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity”: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

      Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict”, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

      Islamophobia

      One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists”, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse”. To these we may add the “minorities” obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority”. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

      Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth” behind the surface appearance.

      The conspiracy-theory

      The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions” the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending” what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world” against “Western imperialism”, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects” them from “foreign attack”, even if he crushes them in the process.
       
      There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands” as they say.

      Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream” attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist” values they always claimed to take into account.

      We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts”) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

      The Syrian regime and the revolt

      All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

      To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists”. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it. 


    • les evenchick
      True in general but not likely to convince anyone he is talking about without the evidence (which is abundant).  Les Evenchick New Orleans
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 16, 2014
        True in general but not likely to convince anyone he is talking about without the evidence (which is abundant). 
         
        Les Evenchick
        New Orleans
        piratefish@...


        From: "Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft]" <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com>
        To: democraticleft <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 8:47 AM
        Subject: [DemocraticLeft] Right and Left united against the Syrian revolution



        Home


        Dr. Ziad Majed

        Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)

        Right and Left against the revolution

        24. May. 2013
        Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture: FreedomHouse2, Original: flickr.com, License: CC BY 2.0

        Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?
        For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.
        We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western”) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?
        The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.
        The “complexity”
        One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts” in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity”: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.
        Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict”, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.
        Islamophobia
        One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists”, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse”. To these we may add the “minorities” obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority”. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.
        Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth” behind the surface appearance.
        The conspiracy-theory
        The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions” the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending” what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world” against “Western imperialism”, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects” them from “foreign attack”, even if he crushes them in the process.
         
        There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands” as they say.
        Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream” attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist” values they always claimed to take into account.
        We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts”) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.
        The Syrian regime and the revolt
        All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.
        To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists”. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it. 





      • David McReynolds
        On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@gmail.com ... On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@gmail.com [DemocraticLeft]
        Message 3 of 7 , Oct 16, 2014


          On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
           

          Home


          Dr. Ziad Majed

          Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)

          Right and Left against the revolution

          24. May. 2013
          Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture: FreedomHouse2, Original: flickr.com, License: CC BY 2.0

          Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

          For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

          We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western”) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

          The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

          The “complexity”

          One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts” in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity”: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

          Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict”, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

          Islamophobia

          One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists”, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse”. To these we may add the “minorities” obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority”. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

          Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth” behind the surface appearance.

          The conspiracy-theory

          The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions” the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending” what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world” against “Western imperialism”, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects” them from “foreign attack”, even if he crushes them in the process.
           
          There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands” as they say.

          Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream” attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist” values they always claimed to take into account.

          We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts”) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

          The Syrian regime and the revolt

          All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

          To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists”. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it. 



        • Itzhak Epstein
          What revolution ? Itzhak At 11:49 PM 10/16/2014, David wrote: On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@gmail.com [DemocraticLeft]
          Message 4 of 7 , Oct 17, 2014
            What "revolution"?
            Itzhak

            At 11:49 PM 10/16/2014, David wrote:

            On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] < DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
             

            Home

            http://www.boell.de/en/node/277307


            Dr. Ziad Majed



            Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)


            Right and Left against the revolution



            24. May. 2013
            []
            Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture:Â FreedomHouse2, Original:Â flickr.com, License:Â CC BY 2.0

            Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

            For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

            We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western”) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

            The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

            The “complexity”

            One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts” in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity”: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

            Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict”, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

            Islamophobia

            One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists”, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse”. To these we may add the “minorities” obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority”. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

            Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth” behind the surface appearance.

            The conspiracy-theory

            The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions” the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending” what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world” against “Western imperialism”, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects” them from “foreign attack”, even if he crushes them in the process.
            Â
            There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands” as they say.

            Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream” attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist” values they always claimed to take into account.

            We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts”) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

            The Syrian regime and the revolt

            All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

            To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists”. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it.Â




            Itzhak Epstein  New York,  NY
            < mailto:itzhak.epstein@...>

          • Danny Postel
            The revolution that began in March 2011 as a nonviolent popular uprising against 41 years of brutal dictatorship and its torture archipelago. It was a
            Message 5 of 7 , Oct 17, 2014
              The revolution that began in March 2011 as a nonviolent popular uprising against 41 years of brutal dictatorship and its torture archipelago. It was a revolutionary movement that aimed to topple the police state and tyrannical rule not just of one party but of one FAMILY, in the name of a democratic and pluralistic Syria, in the name of human dignity, self-determination, and social justice. These were the ideals and animating spirit of the first several months of the uprising, arguably the first year and a half. Tragically this emancipatory movement was engulfed by the rise of some very nasty forces -- foreign jihadis, salafis, al-Qaeda, and eventually ISIS. David McReynolds would have you believe that all of these various and antagonistic formations are part of the same blob, and that the emergence of these nefarious elements essentially poisoned the uprising, making it impossible to support it. I would argue the exact opposite: that the emergence of these reactionary and murderous forces -- which have in fact attacked and engaged in all manner of battles against the Free Syrian Army (the original rebels) -- make the case for solidarity with Syria's democratic forces MORE compelling, not LESS so. Those forces, assaulted daily by Assad's killing machine on one side and then by jihadi murderers on the other -- they therefore needed more support than ever, not abandonment.

              For anyone who doubts the existence of a genuinely democratic, emancipatory and indeed non-sectarian movement in Syria, have a look here:

              Syria Blog – The Seeds & the Harvest A blog exploring the early phase of the Syrian Uprising published by the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews


              Afra Jalabi

              Wendy Pearlman

              Syria: It's Still a Revolution, My Friends
              Mohja Kahf (Fellowship of Reconciliation blog)


              Firas Massouh

              On Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:28 PM, Itzhak Epstein itzhak.epstein@... [DemocraticLeft] <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
               

              What "revolution"?
              Itzhak

              At 11:49 PM 10/16/2014, David wrote:

              On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] < DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
               

              Home

              http://www.boell.de/en/node/277307


              Dr. Ziad Majed



              Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)


              Right and Left against the revolution



              24. May. 2013
              []
              Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture:Â FreedomHouse2, Original:Â flickr.com, License:Â CC BY 2.0

              Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

              For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

              We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western†) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

              The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

              The “complexityâ€

              One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts†in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity†: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

              Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict†, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

              Islamophobia

              One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists†, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse†. To these we may add the “minorities†obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority†. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

              Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth†behind the surface appearance.

              The conspiracy-theory

              The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions†the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending†what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world†against “Western imperialism†, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects†them from “foreign attack†, even if he crushes them in the process.
              Â
              There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands†as they say.

              Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream†attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist†values they always claimed to take into account.

              We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts†) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

              The Syrian regime and the revolt

              All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

              To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists†. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it.Â




              Itzhak Epstein  New York,  NY
              < mailto:itzhak.epstein@...>


            • les evenchick
              Thank you for posting but will David  bother to read and consider what you wrote. Les Evenchick New Orleans piratefish@yahoo.com From: Danny Postel
              Message 6 of 7 , Oct 17, 2014
                Thank you for posting but will David  bother to read and consider what you wrote.
                 
                Les Evenchick
                New Orleans
                piratefish@...


                From: "Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft]" <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com>
                To: democraticleft <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Friday, October 17, 2014 4:39 PM
                Subject: Re: [DemocraticLeft] Right and Left united against the Syrian revolution



                The revolution that began in March 2011 as a nonviolent popular uprising against 41 years of brutal dictatorship and its torture archipelago. It was a revolutionary movement that aimed to topple the police state and tyrannical rule not just of one party but of one FAMILY, in the name of a democratic and pluralistic Syria, in the name of human dignity, self-determination, and social justice. These were the ideals and animating spirit of the first several months of the uprising, arguably the first year and a half. Tragically this emancipatory movement was engulfed by the rise of some very nasty forces -- foreign jihadis, salafis, al-Qaeda, and eventually ISIS. David McReynolds would have you believe that all of these various and antagonistic formations are part of the same blob, and that the emergence of these nefarious elements essentially poisoned the uprising, making it impossible to support it. I would argue the exact opposite: that the emergence of these reactionary and murderous forces -- which have in fact attacked and engaged in all manner of battles against the Free Syrian Army (the original rebels) -- make the case for solidarity with Syria's democratic forces MORE compelling, not LESS so. Those forces, assaulted daily by Assad's killing machine on one side and then by jihadi murderers on the other -- they therefore needed more support than ever, not abandonment.

                For anyone who doubts the existence of a genuinely democratic, emancipatory and indeed non-sectarian movement in Syria, have a look here:

                Syria Blog – The Seeds & the Harvest A blog exploring the early phase of the Syrian Uprising published by the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews


                Afra Jalabi

                Wendy Pearlman

                Syria: It's Still a Revolution, My Friends
                Mohja Kahf (Fellowship of Reconciliation blog)


                Firas Massouh

                On Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:28 PM, Itzhak Epstein itzhak.epstein@... [DemocraticLeft] <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                 
                What "revolution"?
                Itzhak

                At 11:49 PM 10/16/2014, David wrote:

                On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] < DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                 

                Home

                http://www.boell.de/en/node/277307


                Dr. Ziad Majed



                Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)


                Right and Left against the revolution



                24. May. 2013
                []
                Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture:Â FreedomHouse2, Original:Â flickr.com, License:Â CC BY 2.0

                Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

                For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

                We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western†) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

                The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

                The “complexityâ€

                One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts†in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity†: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

                Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict†, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

                Islamophobia

                One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists†, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse†. To these we may add the “minorities†obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority†. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

                Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth†behind the surface appearance.

                The conspiracy-theory

                The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions†the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending†what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world†against “Western imperialism†, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects†them from “foreign attack†, even if he crushes them in the process.
                Â
                There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands†as they say.

                Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream†attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist†values they always claimed to take into account.

                We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts†) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

                The Syrian regime and the revolt

                All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

                To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists†. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it.Â




                Itzhak Epstein  New York,  NY
                < mailto:itzhak.epstein@...>





              • David McReynolds
                *Not to worry, Danny, I have read this, and your other more personal attackon me and will respond as time permits.You do not represent any form of* *a
                Message 7 of 7 , Oct 18, 2014
                  Not to worry, Danny, I have read this, and your other more personal attack
                  on me and will respond as time permits.You do not represent any form of
                  a democratic secular "third camp" but are comfortable with those who favor
                  "humanitarian intervention" as we saw in Libya.

                  David McReynolds (being sent also to the Middle East list)

                  On Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 5:39 PM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                   

                  The revolution that began in March 2011 as a nonviolent popular uprising against 41 years of brutal dictatorship and its torture archipelago. It was a revolutionary movement that aimed to topple the police state and tyrannical rule not just of one party but of one FAMILY, in the name of a democratic and pluralistic Syria, in the name of human dignity, self-determination, and social justice. These were the ideals and animating spirit of the first several months of the uprising, arguably the first year and a half. Tragically this emancipatory movement was engulfed by the rise of some very nasty forces -- foreign jihadis, salafis, al-Qaeda, and eventually ISIS. David McReynolds would have you believe that all of these various and antagonistic formations are part of the same blob, and that the emergence of these nefarious elements essentially poisoned the uprising, making it impossible to support it. I would argue the exact opposite: that the emergence of these reactionary and murderous forces -- which have in fact attacked and engaged in all manner of battles against the Free Syrian Army (the original rebels) -- make the case for solidarity with Syria's democratic forces MORE compelling, not LESS so. Those forces, assaulted daily by Assad's killing machine on one side and then by jihadi murderers on the other -- they therefore needed more support than ever, not abandonment.

                  For anyone who doubts the existence of a genuinely democratic, emancipatory and indeed non-sectarian movement in Syria, have a look here:

                  Syria Blog – The Seeds & the Harvest A blog exploring the early phase of the Syrian Uprising published by the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews


                  Afra Jalabi

                  Wendy Pearlman

                  Syria: It's Still a Revolution, My Friends
                  Mohja Kahf (Fellowship of Reconciliation blog)


                  Firas Massouh

                  On Fri, Oct 17, 2014 at 1:28 PM, Itzhak Epstein itzhak.epstein@... [DemocraticLeft] <DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                   

                  What "revolution"?
                  Itzhak

                  At 11:49 PM 10/16/2014, David wrote:

                  On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM, Danny Postel dannypostel@... [DemocraticLeft] < DemocraticLeft@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                   

                  Home

                  http://www.boell.de/en/node/277307


                  Dr. Ziad Majed



                  Professor for International Relations, American University (Paris)


                  Right and Left against the revolution



                  24. May. 2013
                  []
                  Support to Syria revolution against Assad regime in Yemen. Picture:Â FreedomHouse2, Original:Â flickr.com, License:Â CC BY 2.0

                  Why is it that the far Right and certain far-Left groups in a number of Western nations agree in their hostility to the Syrian revolution?

                  For a while now this question has nagged at a number of Syrian friends, who have been shocked by the positions and commentary of various writers and journalists, all of whom criticize the revolution from an overtly hostile perspective, or even defending the regime.

                  We may go further: Why is it that the Syrian revolution fails to mobilize activist circles within global (or “Western†) civil society, despite the media’s near constant coverage of events and the consequent fact that there exist thousands of images and films depicting the tragedies that Syrians are living through?

                  The answer to this question appears to be complex, dependent on a set of factors, which are governed both by aspects of the political and cultural perspective on the Arab region as well as the political and ethical standards that guide stances and written opinions on the region’s affairs. These influences contrive to make sympathy or solidarity with the revolution very timid, at least when compared with the zeal with which attacks on the revolution are expressed.

                  The “complexityâ€

                  One of these factors is the fact that many political parties and movements are afraid of taking positions on “conflicts†in the Middle East. They sidestep the issue by pleading their “complexity†: too much wars and conflicts, and increasingly divisive religious sectarianism, many of whose effects might reach out across the Mediterranean to its northern shores.

                  Another factor is the culturalistic approach employed by researchers whose task is to compare and categorize global issues and conflicts, especially those associated with the Arabs and their countries. To these culturalists, Arabs appear to be a people who “favour violence as a means of resolving conflict†, drink deep from the well of extremism and whose ability to shrug off the burden of Oriental despotism and move to democracy or liberation is ever in doubt. Seen in this way, the violence that accompanies the revolution is not exceptional, not in a broader context of perpetual civil war, and neither does it call for outrage or urgent action.

                  Islamophobia

                  One more important issue is Islamophobia, embraced by the extreme Right for racist reasons, and by certain Left-leaning groups on the pretext of espousing secularism, freedoms and women’s rights. So it is that the wordsmiths of the far-Right find common ground with certain individuals on the far-Left in their support for the Assad clan, the first motivated by hostility to “Islamists†, the second by their “secularizing and modernizing discourse†. To these we may add the “minorities†obsessives, whose constant, wretched refrain is the threat posed by the “majority†. To summarize or translate, all of the above might justify the murder of Syrians on the basis that they are socially conservative Islamists and prefer tyranny because it oppresses the majority to keep the minority safe and sound.In this they commit a grave moral failing and give voice to a religious racism and assorted stereotypes diametrically opposed to the human rights and progressive values they claim to respect.

                  Yet another aspect is the ease with which many political activists have surrendered to conspiracy theories, out of fascination, the desire to give an impression of understanding the way things really work and a conviction that international relations are essentially malevolent in nature. Some on the Left are pretty much addicted to this kind of thing, though they lost their monopoly on their production some time ago now. Bolstered by such beliefs, they refuse to look at the Syrian people, their aspirations and their sufferings and instead make do with clichéd claims about international relations and regional conflicts in terms that explain the “hidden truth†behind the surface appearance.

                  The conspiracy-theory

                  The conspiracy-theory is closely linked to another matter: the condescending attitude displayed by certain progressive writers and opinion-makers in analyzing issues that affect populations in the Arab world. They tend to ignore questions such as human dignity and individual freedom, and they rarely touch on aspects of political sociology in their analysis. What concerns them are borders, oil, geo-strategy, the influential roles of regional states and the “decisions†the West makes about them. Some, of course, look to China and Russia, hoping a return to the Cold War. In this they too touch on racism, albeit from a position of “defending†what they consider to be “the interests of Arab world†against “Western imperialism†, dealing with whole nations as if they were abstract entities devoid of flesh-and-blood people with rights of their own, or as if these populations were mindless, mute monoliths whose progress must always be plotted for them, misled by Western lies and mobilized by the media (as if by remote-control). The only solution? To rally around the one who “protects†them from “foreign attack†, even if he crushes them in the process.
                  Â
                  There are also those intellectuals and thinkers, many of whom have bravely championed the Palestinian cause, who have steadfastly refused to back the Syrian revolution pleading their fear of Syria’s fragmentation and the spread of chaos, a situation which would “play into Israel and America’ hands†as they say.

                  Finally, we have those western writers whose fame and credibility rests on decades spent resident in Arab countries criticizing their home countries’ policies towards the region, who are now ready to lie and deceive just to keep their place in the spotlight, stir controversy and counter what they portray as complacent “mainstream†attitudes in their media. Now of course, these mainstream attitudes are no longer in conflict with the “humanist†values they always claimed to take into account.

                  We could add other factors, of course: the viewer-fatigue and boredom displayed by large segments of Western public opinion towards Arab revolutions, particularly in the wake of the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral triumphs in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and the protracted nature of the Syrian revolution itself. We could mention the geographical location of the Levant, the US’s failure in the post-Saddam experience in Iraq, the (legitimate) doubts over roles played by Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria and the region, and concerns over the impact of Syrian instability on the region as a whole (Israel first and foremost). No must we forget the exertions of the Syrian regime and its allies (Lebanese and Arab, plus a few European “experts†) who disseminated articles and information (sometimes fabricated and sometimes correct but taken out of context) about the revolutionaries, their activities and the horrors awaiting Christians in Syria and the Levant as a whole.

                  The Syrian regime and the revolt

                  All these factors combine to efface the underlying truth, which is uncomplicated and demands no great effort to take a reasonable moral and political position on it: the majority of a population in revolt against a regime that has ruled Syria since 1970, in which time it has shown not the slightest hesitation to commit massacres, to imprison citizens, to rob and exile them, all for the sake of holding on to its (dynastic) power and (mafia-like) privileges. As for talk of regional and international conflicts, of interests and political manifestos and alliances and fears, it certainly has a place in forming positions on this revolution (whether on the Right or Left) and should be expressed, but only after a firm position on the original issue has been stated: the Syrian people’s right to fight until they turn the page of 43 years of tyranny.

                  To conclude, the Syrian revolution today is not just fighting a brutal regime like the Assad regime, but it is also fighting this regime’s allies - Russia and Iran especially - and furthermore it is dealing with the putrid concepts, alternately racist, indifferent and immoral, bandied about by many Leftists and “anti-imperialists†. Until now, and for many reasons that should be looked into, it has not possessed a political leadership or media office responding regularly to all its enemies and their arguments. To make up for this lack so far, it is counting on bravery and perseverance, on exceptionally courageous and creative intellectuals, artists and activists, and on a great store of patience and hope which has allowed it to soldier on; a store not likely to be exhausted even as the pressure grows and difficulties mount, both within Syria and around it.Â




                  Itzhak Epstein  New York,  NY
                  < mailto:itzhak.epstein@...>



                Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.