By Barbara Amiel - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 0 Comments
A cautionary tale for those who move in the world of fashionable ideas—with Syria as its setting.
This is a cautionary tale for those who move in the world of fashionable ideas. They speak out and raise funds for their causes. Though they tend to work under the spotlight, especially the flashbulb, their little mistakes are generally overlooked. But on very rare occasions they pay the price of adhering to the fickle winds of fashion’s politically correct currents and get splattered. I give you Joan Juliet Buck.
If you have seen the film Julie & Julia, you will remember Madame Brassart, the horrid little Parisian in her constipated 1950s suit and pillbox hat who tries to prevent Meryl Streep’s Julia Child from taking Cordon Bleu courses. That role was played very competently by Joan Juliet Buck in her incarnation as an actress. She was also editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue magazine from 1994 to 2001, wrote a couple of books and had a long association with Condé Nast. In December 2010 she got a telephone call from a features editor at U.S. Vogue asking her to go to Damascus to interview Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad.
“Absolutely not,” replied Joan Juliet Buck, or JJB because space is limited. “I don’t want to meet the Assads, and they don’t want to meet a Jew.” Besides, she felt unqualified for the job. “Send a political journalist,” she said. But she went anyway and wrote a 3,600-word article about Mrs. Assad published in the March 2011 Vogue. The writing was glossy mag prose, so predictable it was practically prefabricated: “Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies” is the beginning and you can pretty much guess the rest.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, August 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA — The instability posed by the ongoing unrest in Syria was a major…
OTTAWA — The instability posed by the ongoing unrest in Syria was a major topic of discussion when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird met with Lebanon’s prime minister on Friday.
John Baird had praise for Prime Minister Najib Mikati for Lebanon’s acceptance of Syrian refugees trying to escape the violence in their country.
The two men discussed the potential threat posed by chemical weapons they say the regime of Bashar Assad has amassed, Baird said in a news release.
“We share a deep concern over the risk posed to Syria’s neighbours by the Assad regime’s stockpile of chemical weapons,” Baird said in the release.
“It is now more important than ever that the international community act decisively and in unison to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis before instability and chaos spread throughout the region.”
Baird also met with Lebanon’s opposition leader during his visit Friday.
Baird will get a first-hand look at the refugee problem on Saturday when he visits a refugee camp in Jordan.
The U-N refugee agency says some 10,000 Syrians had been living in four overcrowded transit centres near the Jordan-Syria border, with as many as 1,500 new refugees arriving each night.
Baird will also meet with his Jordanian counterpart.
Fighting continued unabated on Friday in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, but rebels indicated they were running low on ammunition and guns. They appealed to the international community to send weapons.
By Nancy Macdonald - Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM - 0 Comments
The instability that follows Assad’s fall will be felt far beyond Syria
The brazen, mid-morning bombing that struck Syria’s military command on July 18, taking the lives of several of Bashar al-Assad’s top advisers, may not have killed the Syrian president himself, but it is hard to believe he will survive the fallout. That stunning blow was quickly followed by a massive rebel assault on the capital, Damascus, the defections of several key generals and, this week, even the prime minister.
If Assad is toppled, his demise will be roundly cheered. But the consequences will be profound, and will echo beyond Syria, affecting the region’s volatile conflicts, those involving al-Qaeda—whose jihadists are now converging on Damascus—Lebanon, Palestine and Iran.
Sectarian bloodletting is possible in Syria. Lebanon and Iraq, with their complex divides—which know no borders—could easily be sucked in. Violence could drag in Israel.
That makes this Arab Spring revolt so different from Tunisia, Libya, even Egypt. The fight is not playing out in some corner of North Africa but in the heart of the Middle East. Syria’s revolt could be a game-changer. Syria, for decades a key player in the region’s geopolitical games, now finds itself a staging point for the ancient struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam, a fight currently playing out in Aleppo in northwestern Syria between Assad’s Shia loyalists and the Saudi-backed Sunni opposition.
Syria may be on the brink—Assad can no longer trust even his closest advisers. But the real fight has only just begun.
Here’s our nifty infographic that illustrates the ripple effects of instability in Syria in the Middle East and beyond. Click on the image below to open up the full-size graphic:
By macleans.ca - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 6:23 PM - 0 Comments
Kofi Annan has stepped down as the UN’s special envoy to Syria, the Wall…
Kofi Annan has stepped down as the UN’s special envoy to Syria, the Wall St. Journal reports. At an impromptu news conference, Annan said he has lost confidence in the ability of the Security Council to enforce a cease-fire and end the violence
“When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council,” Annan told reporters in Geneva, referring to the ongoing stand-off between veto-holding members of the security council; while the United States, the United Kingdom and France favour more intervention, China and Russia have stood against that.
Annan has served as the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria since February. While the security council came up with a six-point peace plan, dubbed the “Annan plan” to bring about a ceasefire in Syria the violence has only increased, despite the presence of hundreds of UN workers on the ground.
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
Syria state television reports Syria’s defense chief is dead, as is the Intelligence Chief,…
Syria state television reports Syria’s defense chief is dead, as is the Intelligence Chief, according to the Guardian. They reportedly died in a suicide blast in a government building in the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Defence Minister Dawoud Rajha, 65, is the most senior government official to be killed in the escalating civil war. According to the Globe and Mail, there are also reports that President Assad’s brother-in-law and senior defense official, Assef Shawkat, was also killed in the Damascus bombing.
The blast struck during a Cabinet meeting. Others injuries have been reported.
Clashes between the opposition and the government have been occurring in Damascus for the last four days. Activists claim more than 17,000 have died since the beginning of the uprising last year.
The United Nations Security Council will discuss the situation later today. With Russia opposing a peacekeeping mission, new measures are unlikely.
By macleans.ca - Friday, July 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM - 0 Comments
The government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad suffered a ‘hard blow’ on Thursday, when…
The government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad suffered a ‘hard blow’ on Thursday, when a general from one of the country’s most famous families defected, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Brig.-Gen. Manaf Tlas, a senior commander in the Republican Guard and son of a former minister of defence, was a close personal friend of the Syrian dictator. His defection to Turkey, and subsequently France, suggests that some in Assad’s inner circle think his days in power are numbered.
Meanwhile, in Paris, the “Friends of Syria,” a group of forgien ministers and diplomats from over 100 countries, were calling for global sanctions against the Assad regime. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called upon other nations to pressure Russia and China to force Assad to step down.
“I will tell you very frankly, I don’t think Russia and China believe they are paying any price at all–nothing at all–for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime,” Clinton told the group. “The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price, because they are holding up progress–blockading it. That is no longer tolerable.”
While there are no official estimate of the number of casualties in Syria, activists say more than 14,000 people have been killed since the revolt began in the spring of 2011.
By Gustavo Vieira - Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
In the wake of reports of yet another massacre in Syria’s central province of…
In the wake of reports of yet another massacre in Syria’s central province of Hama on Wednesday, when activists say government forces and militia killed as many as 86 people in the village of Mazraat al-Qubair, including women and children, the UN says the government of Bashal al-Assad is blocking international observers from the site.
General Robert Mood, head of the UN’s observers in Syria, was quoted in the Washington Post, saying monitors were being stopped from reaching the area. The Syrian government decried the opposition claims to the mass killing, calling it “absolutely baseless” and reaffirming it’s helping the observers.
From the Washington Post:
General Robert Mood, the leader of the observer mission, said monitors were trying to enter in Qubair, near the central Syrian town of Hama, to see what had happened, but they were being prevented from doing so.
“They are being stopped at Syrian Army checkpoints and in some cases turned back,” Mood said in a statement. “Some of our patrols our being stopped by civilians in the area.”
The Associated Press quoted an eye witness to the massacre in Mazraat al-Qubair saying government troops shelled the village for five hours before militiamen entered the area “killing and hacking everyone.”
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has been quoted in the Guardian saying UN monitors had been shot at while trying to reach the town of Mazraat al-Qubair. He called the killings an “unspeakable barbarity.” Moon’s comments came as he and the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, began two key meetings in the UN to brief its members in what’s expected to be a last-ditch effort to save a peace plan to deal with the 15-month conflict between the government of Syria and the opposition that has killed more than 10,000 people.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM - 0 Comments
The Foreign Ministry of Syria said Tuesday morning that more than two dozen western…
The Foreign Ministry of Syria said Tuesday morning that more than two dozen western diplomats — including representatives from Canada — are no longer welcome in the country.
The move is a formal response to the co-ordinated withdrawal from Syria last week by 11 western nations.
The New York Times quoted Syria’s state news agency, SANA: “The Syrian Arab Republic still believes in the importance of dialogue based on principles of equality and mutual respect. We hope the countries that initiated these steps will adopt those principles, which would allow relations to return to normal again.”
By Michael Petrou - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM - 0 Comments
Domestic unrest is taking a toll on the country’s economy
More than a year into a popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria that has killed more than 9,000 people, international sanctions and domestic unrest are taking a toll on the country’s economy.
Syria’s pound has fallen from 47 per U.S. dollar before the revolt began to about 62 per dollar today, and the cost of staples, like coffee and cheese, is soaring. Syrian banks, which hold a lot of foreign currency, initially profited from the Syrian pound’s depreciation but are now struggling as customers smuggle their savings to neighbouring countries. Deposits fell by an average of 35 per cent last year at three Syrian banks.
Syria is a religiously fragmented country made up of Christians, Sunni and Alawite Muslims, among others. Assad is Alawite. Those fighting him are mostly Sunni. Until now the country’s Sunni business class has stayed loyal to Assad. But blows to Syria’s economy have punished businessmen. Their support for the regime may begin to crumble.
So far, though, damage to Syria’s economy hasn’t blunted the brutality of the government’s response to the rebellion against it. Security forces and pro-regime gunmen attacked student protesters in Aleppo earlier this month, killing at least four and injuring many more.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
The Russian government is stepping up its defence of the Syrian regime, says the…
The Russian government is stepping up its defence of the Syrian regime, says the BBC. Today Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov reiterated Russia would block any attempts by the UN to authorize an intervention to stop the ongoing bloodbath carried out by President Bashar al Assad’s security forces, declaring:
We have always said that we are categorically against any outside interference in the Syrian conflict because this will only exacerbate the situation for both Syria and the region as a whole.
Russia has the power to veto any UN resolution calling for military intervention in Syria. The statement above comes as international pressure is increasing for the UN to do more to stop al Assad.
Yesterday several countries, including Canada, expelled Syrian diplomats in protest over a massacre carried out last Friday against civilians in the town of Houla.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM - 0 Comments
As news is coming in that many of the more than 100 people killed…
As news is coming in that many of the more than 100 people killed last Friday in the Syrian town of Houla were executed after the town was shelled by state security forces, several countries, including Canada, are asking Syrian diplomats to leave their posts.
The Globe and Mail says all Syrian diplomats and their families still living in Canada have been given five days to exit the country, and quotes Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird as saying today:
Canada and our partners are speaking loudly, with one voice, in saying these Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts.
The BBC says France, the UK, Italy Germany, Spain, and Australia are also expelling Syrian diplomats from their respective countries in protest over the gruesome massacre.
Among the fatal victims of the attack were 49 children and 34 women, UN staff have confirmed. UN-Arab League Kofi Annan is in Damascus today trying to salvage a peace deal that has been all but mocked by Syrian President Bashar al Assad and his government.
By Richard Warnica - Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM - 0 Comments
At least 55 people were killed and hundreds more injured after two car bombs…
At least 55 people were killed and hundreds more injured after two car bombs exploded in downtown Damascus Thursday. The attacks, which tore the front off a major intelligence compound in the Syrian capital, could signal the end of a fragile cease-fire.
From the New York Times:
Two suicide car bombs laden with more than 2,200 pounds of explosives erupted at the busy Qazzaz intersection, completely destroying 21 nearby vehicles and damaging more than 100 others, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry read on state television.
The compound housed two major branches of the military intelligence, one known officially as the Palestine Branch but ironically nicknamed the “Sheraton” by prisoners because detainees from so many nations had been incarcerated and tortured there over the years, activists said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the running commentary on the official media was that it was the work of “terrorists” being financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The opposition blamed the government of President Bashar al-Assad, claiming it was trying to frighten ordinary Syrians over the cost of opposing the government by proving its own claims that Al Qaeda was bent on destabilizing the country.
A cameraman filming the aftermath of the first explosion caught the second blast. Via Al Jazeera:
By Gustavo Vieira - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM - 0 Comments
At least four people have been killed during a crackdown on an anti-government protest…
At least four people have been killed during a crackdown on an anti-government protest at a university campus in Syria’s second city, Aleppo, according to activists quoted by the Associated Press.
The crackdown on the protest happened late on Wednesday, in spite of the Syrian government’s declarations that it is abiding by a peace plan brokered by former United Nations’ secretary general Kofi Annan as a special UN-Arab League envoy. The plan includes a cease fire and a permission for peaceful protests. The incident in Aleppo came as another reminder to UN observers in Syria that a truce supposed to have started on April 12 may have been jeopardized.
A crowd of 1,500 students had been protesting outside their residences next to Aleppo University’s main campus on Wednesday night when security forces and militia men fired tear gas then live ammunition to disperse the protesters. One student in Aleppo, Thaer al-Ahmed, speaking to the Associated Press, described the students’ panic amid the chaos during the incident.
From the BBC:
“Some students ran to their rooms to take cover but they were followed to their rooms, beaten up and arrested, others suffered cuts and broken bones as they tried to flee.”
Mr Ahmed said raids and intermittent gunfire had continued in the area for about five hours until Thursday morning.
The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an activist network, said troops had later warned anyone still inside the student accommodation to leave. Entrances to faculty buildings were also said to have been closed.
The LCC said five students had been killed, while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four people had died.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 10:02 AM - 0 Comments
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has stepped forth with a somewhat bold call for…
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has stepped forth with a somewhat bold call for the use of military force against Syria. A BBC video shows the minister saying, “Either the mediation is working or it isn’t. And if it doesn’t work, we can’t continue being defied by the regime in power.”
Syria and leader Bashar al-Assad have nominally accepted a cease fire brokered by the joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. But Annan himself has denounced continued violence by state forces against civilians.
Juppé says he has been discussing with peers the use of force under the UN’s Chapter VII, which deals with “Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Agression.”
The minister’s statement came just hours before a massive explosion killed as many as 70 people in the Syrian city of Hama, according to unconfirmed report from activists. State media refers to 16 fatal victims, and has called the house where the explosion took place a bomb factory used by “armed terrorist groups”.
By Emma Teitel - Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
This week marks a big I-told-you-so for people who’ve long doubted the usefulness of the UN. After all, it was this Monday, April 16th, that the United Nations, excuse me–the wives of the British and German ambassadors to the United Nations —revealed their master plan to topple the Syrian regime. Everything you need to know is in this Youtube video, right here:
By Gustavo Vieira - Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
United Nations ceasefire jeopardized with casualties along the two borders
The Syrian conflict spilled into neighbouring Turkey and Lebanon on Monday. Gunfire originating in Syria hit a refugee camp for Syrian civilians in Turkish territory, wounding at least five people; while along the Syria-Lebanon border, a Lebanese journalist was killed while filming in Lebanese territory.
The shootings happened just hours from a Tuesday ceasefire deadline brokered as part of a UN peace deal accepted by Syria in the hopes of ending a crisis that has killed more than 9,000 people in just over a year, according to UN estimates.
In the wake of the shootings outside of Syria’s borders, fuelling fears that neighbouring countries could be dragged into the Syrian crisis, the UN deal seems to be in jeopardy. Turkey’s foreign minister has reportedly said the April 10 deadline is now void. The deal had already taken a major blow on Sunday when Syria’s opposition rejected an additional government request for the rebels to provide “written guarantees” that they were laying down their weapons in exchange of an army retreat from the cities.
By Alex Ballingall - Monday, April 2, 2012 at 3:34 PM - 0 Comments
The BBC is reporting that Syria has agreed to a UN-sponsored peace plan put…
The BBC is reporting that Syria has agreed to a UN-sponsored peace plan put forward by former Secretary General Kofi Annan, even as reports of violence continue to flow out of the restive cities of Homs and Idlib. Syria has allegedly agreed to start implementing the six-point plan on April 10.
If the regime of President Bashar al-Assad follows through on this commitment, Syria will soon let international observers in to help maintain a ceasefire and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. News that Damascus has agreed to the plan come one day after a group of more than 70 countries agreed to supply Syria’s rebel forces with millions of dollars, and communications equipment at a “Friends of the Syrian People” meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. “If Assad continues as he has, to fail to end the violence, to institute a cease-fire, to withdraw his troops from the areas he has been battering … then it’s unlikely he is going to ever agree,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the meeting, quoted by the Associated Press.
The UN estimates that over 9,000 civilians have been killed in Syria during the government’s violent, year-long crack down on protesters.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM - 0 Comments
Showing the world was right to be skeptical about President Bashar al Assad’s reported…
Showing the world was right to be skeptical about President Bashar al Assad’s reported acceptance of a peace plan to end the bloodbath in Syria, the United Nations human rights chief is now saying that authorities are targeting children in their gruesome campaign to crush rebel forces.
In an interview with the BBC, the UN’s Navi Pillay says, “They’ve gone for the children—for whatever purposes—in large numbers. Hundreds detained and tortured… it’s just horrendous.”
It’s not the first time children are reported to be a specific target of Syrian government authorities. But, as the BBC’s Fergal Keane argues, Pillay’s comments hold a special heavy weight:
Navi Pillay is one of the most experienced international war-crimes experts. Before taking up her UN role as high commissioner for human rights, she served as a judge on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the tribunal investigating the Rwandan genocide.
As a lawyer of more than 45 years experience Mrs Pillay has learned to choose her words carefully. That is why her forthright comments on President Bashar al-Assad will arouse interest.
Whether her comments prompt any further action by the international community to stop Assad’s bloody campaign, however, remains to be seen.
By Gabriela Perdomo - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 11:42 AM - 0 Comments
Syria’s president Bashar al Assad has reportedly accepted a peace plan offered by United…
Syria’s president Bashar al Assad has reportedly accepted a peace plan offered by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The six-point plan proposes a cease-fire to be verified by the UN, says the BBC. But the plan imposes no deadline for its implementation and it doesn’t mention whether Assad should leave office or not.
While Annan is calling it “an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed,” the main opposition coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), worries that this will just buy Assad more time. Some of the group’s representatives are meeting in Turkey to discuss their strategy.
Meanwhile, clashes between government security forces and opposition fighters continue and have spilled over the Lebanese border, Reuters reports: “Syrian troops advanced into north Lebanon, destroying farm buildings and clashing with Syrian rebels holed up there, residents said.”
Foreign Policy analyses the current situation citing a few skeptics:
“This is a plan which, if it had been put on the table six weeks ago, would have offered Assad a way out for the regime. But it has much less reason to bargain at a time where the regime is scoring successive military victories,” said Richard Gowan, an expert on the United Nations at New York University’s Center for International Cooperation. “The problem is that the Syrian military is continuing to create facts on the ground and Annan and the Security Council are inevitably struggling to keep up.”
The Washington Post editorial page put it more bluntly on March 22: Annan’s initiative, it reasoned, “will likely provide time and cover for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to continue using tanks and artillery to assault Syrian cities and indiscriminately kill civilians.”
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
Report released today.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM - 0 Comments
Mr. Mulcair has talked about the need to “renew” and “modernize” the NDP, but much of what he has had to say about said change has involved nothing more than the party’s rhetoric and what he has proposed in terms of policy seems uncontroversial in the NDP context.
So where might Mr. Mulcair represent potential differences? Let’s throw out a few possible points of interest.
By Gustavo Vieira - Monday, March 19, 2012 at 12:24 PM - 0 Comments
The capital city is seeing some of the fiercest fighting of the past year
Fierce firefights broke out in Damascus in one of the most violent clashes in the Syrian capital during the year-long crisis in the Arab country. For three hours, machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades hit the heavily-guarded Mezze area of Damascus, home to several security installations, according to witnesses quoted by Reuters.
Monday’s conflict follows earlier bomb blasts in the capital Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo over the weekend, which combined have killed 29 people and injured 130 others. According to Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press, the opposition is trying to bring the conflict closer to the government’s senior officials, after Assad’s regime’s gains against the rebels in other parts of the country in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, travelled to Russia in an effort to convince Moscow to reach out to Syria for the government to allow humanitarian aid to flow to parts of the country trapped in conflict areas, warning that he expects the humanitarian crisis in Syria to worsen. Also on Monday, a report released by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says Russia supplied 78% of the weapons to Syria’s government in the last five years, during which Assad’s regime shopped for 580% more guns than previous years. According to the U.N., more than 8,000 people have died in the conflict between anti-government protesters and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled Syria four more than four decades.
On first anniversary of Syria’s uprising, more flee to Turkey and opposition loses town to Assad’s forces
By Gustavo Vieira - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
Thursday marks the anniversary of the uprising in Syria, as the government of Bashar…
Thursday marks the anniversary of the uprising in Syria, as the government of Bashar al-Assad continues a tough crackdown on anti-government protesters. Neighbouring Turkey said in the last 24 hours, more than 1,000 people seeking refuge from the intense fight have crossed the border into Turkish territory. The United Nations calculates that more than 8,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past twelve months, while another 230,000 have been displaced and 30,000 more fled the country altogether.
The anniversary of the conflict comes in the wake of a trip by former U.N. secretary-general Koffi Annan as a special UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, in which he tried to broker a deal with Assad, whose family has ruled the Arab country for decades. Annan is expected to report to the U.N.’s Security Council on Assad’s response to his trip on Friday. On Wednesday, the Guardian newspaper posted a series of scathing emails showing that Assad sought advice from Iran on how to handle the uprising, that he made light of promised reforms and that his wife spent thousands on jewelry and furniture, even as the conflicts went on in Syria. The opposition to Assad, whom he accuses of being “terrorists” took another blow from the government’s forces on Wednesday, losing control of the town of Idlib.
By Emma Teitel - Monday, March 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM - 0 Comments
IAW activists hate Israel more than they hate oppression itself
March is upon us, which means the Oscars have been awarded, and that other harbinger of spring is around the corner: Israeli Apartheid Week. Ordinarily, both events are masterpieces of predictability, with the Academy Awards ushering the usual suspects to the podium (Meryl Streep anyone?), and Israeli Apartheid Week featuring the usual anti-Zionist suspects on megaphones (among them the now famous IAW sub-group, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, which I’d argue is largely composed of gay Jewish girls who didn’t have fun at summer camp.) This year the Oscars have come through in predictability, but Israeli Apartheid Week is shaping up quite differently. It’s traditional at Passover seders for the youngest member of Jewish families to ask the “four questions,” which inquire why “this night is different from all other nights.” This year it might be prudent to ask a fifth: why is this Israeli Apartheid Week different from all the others?
The answer is just northeast of Israel, in Syria. In the past 11 months, almost 9,000 civilian protesters and nearly 3,000 anti-government rebels have been murdered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath party dictatorship. Approximately 400 children have been imprisoned and tortured. Meanwhile, Assad’s government claims that 89.4 per cent of Syrians had approved a new constitution that could keep Bashar in power for another 16 years, along with the 12 years he’s already ruled, and the 29 years his father Hafez held power before him. You’d think that anyone committed to the cause of justice in the Middle East would put the atrocities in Syria at the top of their to-do list. But the Canadian organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week—loudly devoted to ending oppression and achieving social justice for all—won’t be talking about Syria this year. Instead, they’ll spend March 5-9 railing exclusively against the “Zionist regime” at a university campus near you. Events will include slam poetry renditions, hip-hop shows, and an apartheid poster contest with a top prize of $400.