Syria is the last place I expected to see any protesting against the oppressive government of Basher Al Assad. After all, Syria is the place where Basher’s father, Haffez Al Assad had his army machine gun all 25,000 residents of the village of Hom in the 1980’s because one of their native sons made an assassination attempt on him. Haffez was able to do this without a peep being heard from any quarter in any part of the World. A most shameful event for European liberals who claim to care about “little people” for all of the victims were the quintessential little people. But now the Syrian people seem to be uprising, to my great delight as well as surprise. I have traveled in Syria and, without any diminution of my loyalty and love for Israel, I found the Syrian people to be accommodating, intelligent and likable. English is widely spoken. I met many who were quietly defying their oppressive government by smuggling televisions into Syria from Lebanon to get around Basher’s 100% tax on a stinking little 13-inch black and white TV. Any red-blooded American would have to find this charming given that our founding fathers were notorious smugglers.*
What’s going on in Syria today may be of little interest to the average American, but for those who are curious the preeminent British scholar of all things Arab, Mr. David Pryce-Jones has a piece up at National Review Online that you can read. Mr. Pryce-Jones is the author of The Closed Circle, a classic book on the Arab mind. Here is how he begins at National Review Online:
Syrians in the town of Deraa have overthrown a statue of the late dictator Hafez Assad, father of the present dictator Bashar Assad. This heroic feat brings to mind the tremendous moment in Baghdad when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled. The difference is that American forces brought down Saddam, while the Syrians themselves have smashed this vainglorious statue. Their bravery is immense. This is a moment which Syrians will speak about to their children and grandchildren.
This may be Syria’s moment. Do read it all.
Here a couple of photographs from my travels in Syria:
Below is the temple at Palmyra. Some people believe this is the place where Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple. There is no way to know that but there is one curious thing that is certain. The spoken language in the nearby village is Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.
* Unlike modern day smugglers who smuggle vile and illegal drugs that destroy the lives of their customers, our founding fathers and their co-horts smuggled essential commodities such as rum, tobacco and molasses. These were legal products that had been subjected to repressive taxes by a despot king in the manner similar to that levied by the present Syrian regime on its desperate people.