Friday, 31 August 2012

Syria: The Lies Being Told

Elizabeth Kendall is an Australian religious liberty analyst and advocate. Her front page article for  Evangelicals Now, "Syria: The Lies Being Told" corroborates interviews with Syrian Christian leaders.

Without a doubt, the greatest lie being told about the Syrian conflict is that it is being waged by President Assad against 'the Syrian people'.

This is pure propaganda. in December 2011, just three months into the crisis, the Qatar Foundation conducted a major poll inside Syria to assess the level of support for Assad…..the results revealed that 55% of Syrians supported President Assad and 68% of Syrians disapproved of the Arab League sanctions.  So the main division in Syria is not between Assad and the rest, but between Sunni Islamists and the majority of Syrians…..
Western governments are supporting the Islamists. What started out as a non-sectarian protest movement was quickly hijacked by sectarian Sunnis. Demanding regime change and Sunni rule, they rejected all talk of reform and refused to negotiate. The chaos in Syria presented all those interested in countering ascendant Iran with a golden opportunity to take a massive bite out of the strategic Shi-ite crescent.  The Syrian conflict evolved into a regional proxy war.  The US, NATO and Turkey have allied with Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pursue regime change in Syria believing it to be the best way to isolate and wound their grand nemesis: Iran.

The West has long known that the Syrian opposition was being inflitrated by international jihadists……. In April 2011 the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East warned that fundamentalist Muslims were calling for Jihad, Christian villages were being attacked and churches receiving threatening letters. ….. Who will stop international Islamists from establishing little emirates in towns they control, where sharia will be enforced and from where Christians will be forced to flee?  The battle for Aleppo is critical. It is home to swaths of loyalist Sunni Arab and Kurdish business elite as well as some 250,000 Christians. Jihadists will doubtless attempt to infiltrate Christian districts, not only to kill Christians but to draw the regime's return fire into those districts.  Great for propaganda.
A summary of her article has been re-posted on numerous conservative evangelical blogs such as American Anglican, Virtue Online and Anglican Mainstream.

See also Elizabeth Kendall Religious Liberty Monitoring

See also:

Syria: The Unpalatable Truth

Syria: The Proxy War

Five Syrian Nightmares

The Plight of Christians in Syria

Syria: The Next Yugoslavia or maybe Somalia?

Western 'Christian' Backed Opposition Targetting Syrian Christians?
Syrian Christians Catalysts for Peace

Syria: Its all about Oil

Pray for Syria

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

With God on our Side Q&A at Taylor University

Taylor University, Indiana hosted a showing of the film With God on our Side. This video made by the university is of the lively Q&A that followed. Taylor is a liberal arts Christian college near Indianapolis and is ranked number one in 'America's Best Colleges - Midwest.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aerial Photography

Check out my new album of photos taken of aircraft, above the ground and from the air around the world including Africa, the Arctic, Tehran and Texas.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Seamus goes to the Holy Land

Seamus has finally uploaded his photographs taken on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land recently. You can view his complete album here.

Seamus on the bus
  Seamus on Mount Tabor
 Seamus in Nazareth
Seamus at Caesarea
Seamus in Bethlehem
Seamus on the Dead Sea
Seamus by the Dead Sea
Seamus at Masada
Seamus on the Sea of Galilee
Seamus in Jerusalem
Seamus at Banias
Seamus at Megiddo

Seamus hopes to write a book with lots of pictures about his adventures soon.

Seamus is going on another pilgrimage in June 2013. He would like to invite you to come with him too. The tour is being arranged by McCabe Pilgrimages. For more information please download the Tour Brochure and the Booking Form

Pilgrimage Photography

Check out my new album of photographs taken on recent pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

Our next pilgrimage will be in June 2013.  The tour is being arranged by McCabe Pilgrimages. For more information please download the Tour Brochure and the Booking Form

Dr Salim Munayer of Musalaha

I took these photos last October during a presentation Dr Munayer gave to our pilgrimage group at Musalaha in Jerusalem.

Musalaha are doing important and unique work in  reconciliation between Jewish and Palestinian youth, women and pastors.
See more photos of Dr Munayer here

See here for more information on Musalaha.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Bahrain Freedom Movement Seminar in the House of Lords

Yesterday I attended a seminar in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Avebury, Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, entitled, "Bahrain: unreformable regime emboldened by Western silence."

The invitation stated "Despite claims to the contrary, the Alkhalifa regime of Bahrain has proven its inability to reform in any real sense. One year after Cherif Bissioni conducted his investigation, torture has now escalated to new levels of sadism. Young women and children have been raped and blackmailed into working for the security services. No political reform has been undertaken while the number of political detainees has reached new levels."

Speakers included:

Lord Avebury: Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group
Mohammed Al-Tajer: Bahraini human rights lawyer (tortured by the Bahraini regime)
Said Yousif Al-Mahafda: Head of Monitoring, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
Rodney Shakespeare: Chairman of the Committee Against Torture in Bahrain
Husain Abdulla: Director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain

A film was shown of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations being suppressed violently by the Bahraini authorities. It included interviews with Bahraini pro-democracy activists, human rights lawyers and torture victims. 

The audience were told that there are presently 90 Bahraini children in detention and that no senior officials have been held accountable for human rights abuses. A greater proportion of Bahrainis have participated in the pro-democracy Arab Spring than in any other Arab country. All of the Bahraini's present at the seminar claimed to have suffered torture. In explaining why the West is largely silent about human rights abuses in Bahrain, it was pointed out that Bahrain is home to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the United States Fifth Fleet.

Photos of Bahrain Seminar

See also:

Bahrain Independent Commission of Enquiry chaired by Mahmoud Cherif Bissioni

Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
Bahrain Freedom Movement
Bahrain Watch

BCHR report on human rights violations since the BICI Report - June 2012
Bahrain Post BICI Report - Part II

BBC Report: David Cameron meets King of Bahrain
Guardian: Bahrain 'torture service' official to attend royal wedding

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Christianity Explored in Burundi

I have just uploaded photos taken of a visit to Burundi last January to help launch the Christianity Explored course in the Anglican Dioceses of Makamba and Matana. Seamus went as well.

View the photo collections here


New Zealand Photos

I finally uploaded photos taken on our lecture tour of New Zealand in May sponsored by Tearfund and Laidlaw College. You can view them here

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Syria: The Proxy War

has written a thought provoking piece for The Church of England Newspaper entitled, Analysis: The proxy war being fought in Syria.
First and maybe the most important question on the Syrian war: Does it have much to do with the people who are dying? No.

We are the witnesses of a proxy war in which Syria has become the battleground. The real culprits are Russia, Iran, Syria’s neighbours and the USA.

But let’s go back to March 2011. After the fall of Tunisian President Ben Ali in January and the Egyptian President Mubarak in February, Syrians took to the streets caught up in the wave of Arab unrest.

The first reaction of President Bashar al-Assad was to initially respond with hints of reform. But soon he launched violent crackdowns that could have dispensed with the opposition if not for outside support.

So, 17 months later, the situation has grown more intense. According to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Syria is engulfed in a civil war. The battlefield even spilled over the borders into Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.

Can we see light at the end of the tunnel? Not a clue.

The fighting continues because both sides have outside sponsors with different motives than preserving Syrian lives. Those sponsors fuel their Syrian-based proxies with the means to fight while seeking self-serving political aims.

Magro concludes pessimistically...
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told reporters on Sunday that “the fire that has been ignited in Syria will take the fearful [Israelis] with it.”

Four years ago, Barack Obama said that one of his great aims was to forge a better relationship with the Muslim world, until now we haven’t seen many efforts to support that aim.

Observers believe that this could be his greatest chance. But they argue that he needs to find a new strategy that is accepted among his allies to remove Assad soon, unify Syrians around a unity government, preserve as much of Syria’s security forces as possible and cut-off future Russian and Iranian influence.
And all before the November elections? Somehow I think Bibi will get his way first. See Netanyahu ‘determined to attack Iran’ before US elections, claims Israel’s Channel 10

See also:

Syria: The Unpalatable Truth

Syria: The Proxy War

Five Syrian Nightmares

The Plight of Christians in Syria
Syria: The Next Yugoslavia or maybe Somalia?

Western 'Christian' Backed Opposition Targetting Syrian Christians?
Syrian Christians Catalysts for Peace

Syria: Its all about Oil

Pray for Syria

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Pray for Syria

A prayer for the people of Syria 

Almighty and all powerful God, creator of the world and the nations, we bring before you all those caught up in the conflict in Syria.

We pray for an immediate ceasefire, for an end to violence against all civilians. Give humanitarian organisations the space to assess the needs of those living in poverty and insecurity. 

We pray for those who are experiencing the pain of personal loss, for families who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Comfort especially those who have friends and family members missing.

We pray for those caught up in the cycle of violence and bloodshed: give them a just peace.

We pray for those forced to flee their homes: keep them safe on their travels and may they find a place of refuge.

We pray for those in positions of power who have the means to make a difference: Guide the United Nations, and governments whose intervention might bring about peace.

We pray for the future of all countries where people have been willing to challenge unfair and unjust governments. We ask that the outcome will be a better future for all, and that the poor and marginalised will experience new lives of dignity and hope.

And we pray for ourselves, that we will not ignore their pleas for help.  May we play our part in bringing about the changes we would wish if we were in their place. Amen.

Adapted from: Christian Aid

Friday, 17 August 2012

Al Quds Day

What are your hopes for Al Quds? What is your vision for Jerusalem? What do you pray for Yerushaláyim? Is it for a return to 1967 and Jordanian rule? Or the British Mandate of 1917? The Ottoman rule of 1517? The Mamluks of 1250 or the Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin from 1187? Or do you long for the return of the Islamic Caliphate of 638? Or even earlier, the rule of the Herod, Alexander, Artaxerxes or Cyrus? Or is it to see a return to the kingdom of David or Solomon?

During its long 4,000 year history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jesus was not the first and will not the last to weep over Jerusalem. The Bible tells us,
“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side… They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)
Jesus prediction came true in 70AD when the Romans demolished the city and built their pagan Aelia Capitolina, to occupy, suppress and control its citizens. Today we weep too that Al Quds, the Old City and East Jerusalem remain, after 45 long years, under Israeli military occupation. An occupation in breach of international law, Geneva Conventions and UN Resolutions. That is why no country recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the city.

But what kind of Al Quds do you envision? What kind of Jerusalem are you marching for today? Is it for an open, inclusive city of faith? Or for one as exclusive as the Zionists are trying to create? Let me be frank. Is there a place in your Jerusalem for Jews, Muslims, Christians and those of no faith? Is there a place for Sunnis as well as Shias, for Salafists as well as Sufis? Is there a place for all those born there? All those who have found refuge there? All those driven out by fear or persecution?

What kind of Al Quds do you want? Perhaps we should instead ask ‘What kind of Al Quds does God want? Long before Jesus or Mohammed were born, God inspired David to envision a city whose residents would be identified by their faith not race.
“Glorious things are said of you, city of God:

“I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me - Philistia too, and Tyre along with Cush - and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” Indeed, of Zion it will be said,

“This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Ps. 87)
The Prophet Isaiah also envisions Jerusalem as a city where God teaches the nations, where swords are turned into plough shares and spears into pruning hooks.
 In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
That is why, quoting the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Jesus insisted Jerusalem must be a place of prayer for all nations.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers." (Mark 11:15-17)
Therefore if we wish to do God’s will, we will work and pray for Al Quds to become an inclusive city that reflects God’s vision, a city of justice, peace and reconciliation. Insha’Allāh.

Delivered at the Al Quds March outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square in London, Friday 17th August. Watch a short Press TV interview here (I am interviewed toward the end).

View photos here

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bibi's Armageddon

Richard Silverstein published an article a few hours ago, Bibi’s Secret War Plan allegedly based on a leaked briefing document detailing Israel’s war plans against Iran. Here's a flavour...
The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders.  The internet, telephones, radio and television, communications satellites, and fiber optic cables leading to and from critical installations—including underground missile bases at Khorramabad and Isfahan—will be taken out of action.  The electrical grid throughout Iran will be paralyzed and transformer stations will absorb severe damage from carbon fiber munitions which are finer than a human hair, causing electrical short circuits whose repair requires their complete removal.  This would be a Sisyphean task in light of cluster munitions which would be dropped, some time-delayed and some remote-activated through the use of a satellite signal.

A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran.  300km ballistic missiles [R.S.-this might be a reference to the Popeye Turbo] would be launched from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf.  The missiles would not be armed with unconventional warheads [WMD], but rather with high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets.

The missiles will strike their targets—some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak–which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium—and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexaflouride.  Others would explode under-ground, as at the Fordo facility.

A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, and the residences of senior personnel in the nuclear and missile development apparatus.  Intelligence gathered over years will be utilized to completely decapitate Iran’s professional and command ranks in these fields.

After the first wave of attacks, which will be timed to the second, the “Blue and White” radar satellite, whose systems enable us to perform an evaluation of the level of damage done to the various targets, will pass over Iran.  Only after rapidly decrypting the satellite’s data, will the information be transferred directly to war planes making their way covertly toward Iran.  These IAF planes will be armed with electronic warfare gear previously unknown to the wider public, not even revealed to our U.S. ally.  This equipment will render Israeli aircraft invisible.  Those Israeli war planes which participate in the attack will damage a short-list of targets which require further assault.

Among the targets approved for attack—Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more.
Silverstein points out there is no mention of Iran's likely, nay, inevitable retaliatory strike. Read more here

Yesterday, in the Guardian, Harriet Sherwood wrote an article, Israeli speculation over Iran strike reaches fever pitch. Subtitled, "The talk is now of a timetable of weeks, rather than months, and before the US elections in November", Sherwood observes,
In the past few days, the Israeli public has been hit by a blizzard of speculative articles suggesting a military strike against Iran's nuclear sites is imminent.

The talk is now of a timetable of weeks, rather than months and some observers believe that Israel will act in the runup to the US presidential election – at a time when it could be difficult and damaging for President Obama to withhold his backing in the face of a hawkish and vehemently pro-Israel opponent, Mitt Romney, who has already indicated his support for unilateral action by the Jewish state.
She concludes,
There are still those who believe Netanyahu and Barak are playing a dangerous game of bluff aimed at forcing America's hand. But, for now, those who believe Israel is heading towards war are speaking with louder voices.
One such contrary view is expressed by Larry Derfner over on +972 who wrote last Friday  The miraculous antiwar uprising of the Israeli establishment Here's a flavour:
An uprising within the Israeli establishment is preventing an insane war from being started. In how many other countries could such a thing happen? This is a proud moment for Israel’s democracy.

People don’t realize what a miracle is taking place in this country. A revolt by the Israeli military/intelligence establishment and Israel’s best reporters, helped along by President Shimon Peres and ultimately enabled by the Obama administration, is stopping an insane war from being launched by Israel’s two ideologically insane political leaders, a war they’ve been planning for years.

The eight-member inner cabinet, or “octet,” which in recent weeks has been reported to be split evenly between pro-war and anti-war ministers, has now tilted anti-war, write Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer today in Yedioth Aharonoth. Not coincidentally, this shift comes as the heads of all the military and intelligence branches continue to stand solid as a rock against Bibi and Barak’s plans. They haven’t budged from their position that an Israeli attack without America behind it – and America isn’t – would do little damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities in return for a lot of death and destruction in this country, and end up strengthening Iran while weakening Israel, especially its relationship with the U.S.
But Derfner's measured optimism is countered on the same blog by Ami Kaufman who writes, The Iran war fear factor is starting to settle in
And I’m pretty scared these days, too. Everybody says something different every other day. We’ll bomb Iran, no we won’t, yes we will. As if everybody is an expert. You’d probably have more chances guessing it right by plucking the petals of a flower: “We bomb them, we bomb them not. We bomb them, we bomb them not. We bomb them!”
My mind says we probably won’t attack. But my heart? That’s a different story… Because my heart tells me that deep down inside, Bibi’s a nut job. He could actually do it.
Whether you are an optimist or pessimist, we only have about eight weeks to wait for the US Presidential elections to find out whether Bibi is bluffing. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Fatal lot of Christianity's homelands

William Dalrymple has written a moving account of the impact the Arab Spring has had on the Middle East's Christian minorities. Published in The Australian, this week, his article is entitled Fatal lot of Christianity's homelands. Dalrymple points out that:
"Wherever you go in the Middle East today, you see the Arab Spring rapidly turning into the Christian winter. The past few years have been catastrophic for the region's beleaguered 14-million strong Christian minority."
Elaborating on what he wrote in From the Holy Mountain, Dalrymple describes how:
"For much of the past 100 years, and long before the Assads came to power, Syria was a reliable refuge for the Christians of the Middle East: decades before the Iraqis arrived the people of Syria welcomed the Armenians escaping the Young Turk genocide of 1915. In 1948 they took in the Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, driven out of their ancestral homes at the creation of Israel; and during the 1970s and 80s their country became a place of shelter for Orthodox Christians and Maronites seeking a refuge during Lebanon's interminable sectarian troubles.
For while the regime of the Assad dynasty was a repressive one-party police state in which political freedoms were always severely and often brutally restricted, it did allow the Syrians widespread cultural and religious freedoms. These gave Syria's minorities a security and stability far greater than their counterparts anywhere else in the region. This was particularly true of Syria's ancient Christian communities. The reason for this was that the Assads were Alawite, a syncretic Shia Muslim minority regarded by Sunni Muslims as heretical, and disparagingly referred to as Nusayris, or Little Christians: indeed, their liturgy seems to be partly Christian in origin. Alawites made up only 12 per cent of Syria's population and the Assads kept themselves in power by forming what was in effect a coalition of Syria's religious minorities, through which they were able to counterbalance the weight of the Sunni majority."
He warns that unless the West changes its policy on Syria, the Christians in Syria could well suffer the same fate as their Iraqi brothers and sisters. 

"As ever, the Christians here remain mystified by the actions of Christian America. When George W. Bush went into Iraq, he naively believed he would be replacing Saddam with a peaceful, pro-US Arab democracy that would naturally look to the Christian West for support. In reality, nine years on, it appears that he has instead created a highly radicalised and unstable pro-Iranian sectarian battleground. Now US support is being channelled towards opposition groups that may eventually do the same to the minorities of Syria.

As in 80s Afghanistan, a joint operation between the CIA and Saudi intelligence could end up bringing to power a hardline salafist replacement to a brutally flawed but nonetheless secular regime. If that happens in Syria, the final death of Christianity in its Middle Eastern homelands seems increasingly possible within our lifetime."
Read the whole article here.

Kate Ruth Book Signing at Waterstone's, Woking

Rabbi David Goldberg Defends Church Synod

An interview by Robert Cohen with Rabbi David Goldberg was published in the Church Times this week. Entitled, "An Insider on the Outside" the article was subtitled, "Rabbi David Goldberg's latest book challenges cherished attitudes in the State of Israel and the Jewish diaspora." In the interview, Rabbi Goldberg speaks frankly about his views of the Board of Deputies, the Council of Christians and Jews and the Church of England Synod. Cohen writes,

"On the day we met, the General Synod was about to debate its motion on Israel-Palestine. There was pressure from the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks (a second cousin of Goldberg), and the Board of Deputies of British Jews to moderate the motion by removing references to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, which they described as "anti-Israel". Reviewing the coverage of the debate in the Jewish Chronicle at the end of the week, Rabbi Goldberg sent me this response:
"Obviously, I was not there to hear the debate, but I thought that the JC's front-page headline, charging the Church with endorsing an 'Israel hate agenda', was an irresponsible incitement of Jewish paranoia; and its editorial, accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury of 'an explicit comparison' between the Holocaust and the deprivations of the Palestinians at checkpoints, was a scurrilous distortion of his carefully chosen words."
"Rabbi Goldberg has always been a champion of interfaith dialogue, but he now believes that the Israel question has contaminated Jewish-Christian relationships that have been built up over decades. He recognises that centuries of anti-Semitism, with its origins in Christian teaching, have left Christians in an ethical bind. Who are they to lecture Jews on morality? On the other hand, how can Christians stand by when they see an injustice being committed against the Palestinians?"
"Israel as a state has become politicised," he says. "When it comes to interfaith dialogue, it's become the elephant in the room, because those Christian organisations that have dared to voice criticism of what goes on in the Occupied Territories suffer the full force of the Jewish community bearing down on them, and risk the ultimate sanction, and ultimate deterrent, of being accused of anti-Semitism."
Cohen says, "He is "not optimistic" that the situation can be unlocked, "because it requires honesty on both sides, and I have to say that organisations like the Council of Christians and Jews are too timid to grasp the nettle. They always look for the anodyne consensus that will please nobody. Ultimately, they can't confront the situation, because there is a lack of real openness."

Read the complete interview here

After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine

After Zionism brings together some of the world's leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time has run out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different, unified future.

Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably.

This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, Diana Buttu, Jonathan Cook, Joseph Dana, Jeremiah Haber, Jeff Halper, Ghada Karmi, Antony Loewenstein, Saree Makdisi, John Mearsheimer, Ahmed Moor, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Phil Weiss.

"Nothing will change until we are capable of imagining a radically different future. By bringing together many of the clearest and most ethical thinkers about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this book gives us the intellectual tools we need to do just that. Courageous and exciting." --Naomi Klein

Antony Loewenstein is an Australian journalist, activist and blogger. He is the author of two bestselling books, My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution. He has written for the Guardian, the Nation, Huffington Post, Haaretz and other prominent publications. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American journalist, blogger and activist. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, the Guardian and Al Jazeera English. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

See also Ahmed Moor

Source: Amazon & In Books

Book Launch in London:

Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor will discuss their new book ‘After Zionism’ at SOAS on Wednesday August 22 (6.30pm , Khalili Lecture Theatre). Chaired by Frank Barat.

Book Launch in Palestine

Palestine News Network: Book Review

Journalists Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moore have succeeded in putting together an impressive collection of essays in their new book After Zionism: One State For Israel and Palestine. The essays all focus on the shift that is now taking place in many people's thinking about the Israel-Palestine conflict: from the two-state paradigm to the emerging one-state mode thinking. The essays cover a lot of ground both historically and politically and comprise a mixed bag of views, sometimes divergent, that are sure to spark much needed debate about the future of the conflict. With the fallout from the PA's UN Statehood bid fading and shifting dynamics across the region this book couldn't have come at a more important time!

The content covers a lot of ground. For instance, Ilan Pappe contributes a chapter to the Nakba and its legacy as it haunts the conflict today. There are essays here on American Jewish identity (Philip Weiss), the Oslo process (Dianna Buttu), joint struggles in the West Bank (Joseph Dana) and two attempts at outlining how a one-state solution could work (Jeff Halper and Ghada Karmi). As well as chapters on the development of Zionist thought as well as an analysis of Israel's discriminatory land laws.

The quality of the essays varies and given the depth and breadth of the book and so reviewing all of them is beyond the scope of just one review. In order to be brief I will only address a portion of the book's chapters that concern themselves with advocacy. The chapters that are historical and literary in nature, which are dynamic and well worth reading, I will leave aside.
The two-state solution is dead, announce the books contributors, and it is time to start approaching alternatives. The alternative, the editors write in the book's foreword, is the one-state solution. The feeling amongst many is that the basic conditions that need to be addressed in order to bring a just peace to Israel/Palestine – the return of refugees, full and equal citizenship for Palestinians within Israel's borders, the end of the occupation – cannot be fulfilled by the two-state solution.

Editor Ahmed Moore, a young Palestinian-American journalist who's writing on the Middle East has appeared across outlets throughout the world and who consistently brings fresh insights into often-stale debates, pens the first chapter of the book. He recounts his earliest experiences of College life and the struggle to express a Palestinian identity. He writes eloquently about the Zionist narrative in American politics and its capacity to distort history and marginalise Palestinians, citing the latest string of slurs by Republican candidates claiming Palestinians don't exist. Reflecting on his return to Palestine and finding his old neighbourhood Al-Ram partially depopulated by the annexation wall he declares that he has borne witness to the death of the two-state solution. This narrative is a familiar one for many young Palestinians who have lived abroad and then returned to their home to find it deracinated by the occupation.

This thinking is heading in the right direction and is broadly representative of a growing number of young Palestinians and Israelis.

But the shift from the idea of a two-state solution to the one-state solution is not as easy to make as many of the contributors to this anthology assume. The usual thinking is that there are so many settlements that we should by-pass the idea of a Palestinian state and head straight for one state.

However, people need not see two states as a be all and end all. One can view a two-state settlement (note: not solution) as an intermediary stage toward a one-state solution. So the establishment of a Palestinian state need not be the end of the struggle. In fact this may be a necessary step toward a bi-national solution, which seems more feasible given the nationalisms that are by now firmly ingrained in both Palestinian and Israeli societies. Moore inadvertently touches upon this point perhaps without fully grasping it. He writes at the end of the chapter:
"It is very likely that before the one-state solution is fully developed, the Bantustan option will be established in the West Bank. But the Palestinian struggle will continue despite that."
The logical follow up to this question is if a two-state settlement isn't the end of the struggle then why not factor that in to advocacy? Why not see a real (not a bantustan option) two-state settlement as only an end to the occupation and to the fighting before proceeding to push toward a one-state solution after that?

This I think is a weak point of the Palestine solidarity movement as it stands today. The one-state/two-state debate is conducted entirely upon the dichotomous view that resolving the conflict must occur in one swoop and could not possibly move through phases.

Saree Makdisi is similarly guilty of this logic in his contribution. His chapter waxes lyrical about the power of symbols, the imagination and the realm of ideas to bring about a one-state solution without bothering to assess the harder problems of the conflict - those of nationalism, ingrained identity, time frames and public opinion. Instead he dismisses critics such as Mouin Rabbani as simply not being imaginative enough.

Countless arguments can be in made in favour of the moral superiority of the one-state solution and the moral poverty of its two-state counterpart. That these arguments show the moral superiority of the one-state solution is beyond doubt. However, what is more difficult, as Ghada Karmi writes in her essay, is marking out a strategy from how to get from the current dismal state of affairs to the end-goal of a single state. Karmi briefly runs through the various formulations of both the two-state solution and the one-state solution and argues that each one on the table is inadequate and then proceeds to present her path forward.

Her solution? Voluntarily annex the Occupied Territories to Israel and force it to accept full responsibility for the Palestinian population thus clearing the decks for a civil-rights style struggle effectively ending Zionism which, upon its victory will create a single secular democratic state in historic Palestine.

In her own words:
"Key to this new strategy is the idea of a voluntary annexation of the Occupied Territories to Israel, thus transforming the struggle against occupation into one for equal civil rights within an expanded Israeli state"
And that:
"Faced with such a situation, it is difficult to see what Israel could do. At one stroke, the Palestinians would call Israel's bluff over the peace process and its unrelenting colonization, which has benefited so well from the protracted and futile peace talks to date"

This approach calls for giving Israel the keys, so to speak. But there is a very serious problem with it. Namely, that Israel doesn't want the keys and sees no reason to take them. The Palestinian Authority also won't dissolve itself. Quite the opposite actually since the PA has recently shown itself willing to use armed violence in order to put down any challenge to its control. After all it is a collaborationist clique and has a job to do. So the strategy is a non-starter.

Jeff Halper is heading in the right direction. He offers a refreshing approach to the problem in his chapter. Seeing the insurmountable task of convincing an Israeli and International public to run with the one-state solution straight out, Halper advocates a two-stage strategy for meeting the requirements of a just peace, which he argues include the return of refugees and economic and environmental sustainability amongst others. The first step is to end the conflict along the lines of a two-state settlement (note: not solution) which would 'meet "the Palestinians' requirements for national sovereignty, political identity and membership in the international community". The second stage is for the international community to broker a "regional confederation among Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon". This would ensure the economic and environmental sustainability of both Israel and Palestine.

But what about the refugees? Halper argues that since "They could choose to return home to what is today Israel, but they would do so as Palestinian citizens or citizens of another member state". This would nominally mean that both Israeli and Palestinian nationalism would survive.

There is a lot to be said about the argument since it sensibly recognizes that the solution to a conflict that has now been roaring for more than a century will actually have to come in stages, even if it is only two stages, since there is no instant solution currently proposed that is both moral and practical.

Having said that the idea of a regional confederation is quite convoluted and relies upon other nation states, such as Syria, Lebanon and Jordan all agreeing to it and consistently enacting policies that push the development of the confederation forward. As Halper himself notes, Israel sees itself as a kind of Singapore, a wealthy and cultured nation amongst a sea of antitheses. For this reason many Israelis would not accept being part of a confederation with Arab states. Convincing them might not be an insurmountable task though and would certainly be more achievable than coercing them into abandoning zionism.

That said, a confederation need not encompass all of the countries in the region, rather it could be between the two nations Israel and Palestine, which would lay the groundwork for integrating to two and eventually dissolving the already artificial borders.
The best elements of the book are the breadth of vision and creativity that Halper and others present, as well as the razor sharp analysis of Saray Roy, the leading academic specialist on Gaza, who uses her chapter to trace the changing dynamics in the region.

The low points of the book on the other hand come when it is derivative and clichéd.

Omar Barghouti, who is fast becoming the most recognizable face in Palestinian solidarity today, attempts a philosophical treatise as his contribution to the book. It reads like a pretentious attempt at literary theory and sticks out like a sore thumb between the magnificent Zionist myth-debunking chapter by Antony Loewenstein and the honest but misguided one-state strategy of Ghada Karmi mentioned above. The crux of Barghouti's essay is that through assessing the power relations between various theoretical constructs such as ethnic identity and zionisation we come to the conclusion that a secular, unitary, democratic state of Palestine is the morally superior way to end the conflict.

The worst aspect of Barghouti's chapter is its tendency toward armchair philosophy. By ignoring the obstacles that exist in reaching a one-state solution he conjures up the sort of thinking suitable of any coffee shop revolutionary. One particular instance of this is his careless dismissal of bi-nationalism on the grounds that it doesn't gel with UN Resolution 194. He doesn't explain why. Instead he just asserts the point and leaves his reader guessing. He also leaves many of his own questions unanswered but they aren't worth pursuing here.

By addressing the question of ethnic and national identity at a level of abstraction his philosophizing is entirely ignorant to the long history of violence that has resulted from forcing different ethnic and religious groups to assimilate into one another within state borders. For somebody who has claimed that there is nobody as violent as 'the white race' Barghouti seems to have forgotten that Europe was for several hundred years the most violent place on earth due in no small part to the concerted attempts to forced different ethnic, religious and national groups into the narrow confines of the nation state (usually for the benefits of capital).

A second drawback to the book is that certain clichés of the current political discourse are never properly examined. The term Bantustan, which is used at the core of Dianna Buttu's essay and appears frequently in the chapters of the other contributors, is all too common amongst activists and commentators of this conflict.

The reason this concept becomes problematic in Palestine is because the intention of the Israelis is different from the intention of the Afrikaners. The intention of the Bantustans was the maintain segeregation and a flow fo cheap back labour. This was because black South Africans made up the overwhelming majority of the workforce and so they couldn't bare to part with them. However, the intention of the Israeli occupation is, as Moshe Dayan said when the occupation first began in 1967, to make the Palestinians live like dogs and if they want they can leave (the crucial word being leave). The goal is to drive the Palestinians off the land – ethnic cleansing. The goal is not to keep them on the land and use them as cheap labor like the Afrikaners did.

It is not that there aren't glaring similarities between the two situations. Of course there are. But terminology has a point to it and if it is misleading, distracting or both then it won't advance one's argument anywhere and in fact bogs it down in moslty pointless debates about historical similarities and dissimilarities.

There is one crucial similarity to South Africa that isn't often mentioned but that is instructive nonetheless. And that is the role that the US played in propping up the Apartheid regime even after it was a pariah state. The is happening with Israel.

The lack of attention paid to US Imperialism and the role that has in shaping America's policies of hegemony throughout the region is a definite shortcoming in all of the chapters. For this reason it would have been worth, in my opinion, including a chapter on America and Imperialism/Anti-Imperialism as it relates to the Middle East since this is a crucial determinant in whether the conflict will even end at all let alone end in one-state of two.

The omission of any analysis of this relationship also gives the uninformed reader the impression that Israel is a lone ranger of sorts and in control of its own foreign policy.

It is not.

Israel's policy must fall in line with US policy since Israeli is wholly dependent on the US for survival.

This incorrect framing has damaging consequences for advocacy since it distracts people's attention away from US support for Israeli crimes, without which such crimes as the blockade of Gaza, occupation of the West Bank and settlement enterprise could not occur.
These criticisms aside there is a lot here that will breath new life into a stale debate. All in all this is an ambitious book that captures at the right time the paradigm shift that is happening within debates about Israel-Palestine. Its contributors consist an all-star lineup of commentators and scholars who have played a prominent role in shaping public debate and the chapters mostly reflect this. The breadth of the book is ambitious and, the criticisms that I've raised aside, it is quite comprehensive. The editors state in the introduction that naturally they do not agree with everything in the book's diverse chapters and so the book itself is really a debate.

Where will the debate lead? How will the Palestinian national project respond? Only time will tell. But this collection is bound to have an impact one way or the other.

Source PNN

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Route of Hope: Katie Ruth

Our daughter Katie is signing copies of her charming, inspirational poetry collection, A Route of Hope, at Waterstones, in the Peacock Centre, Woking, tomorrow, Saturday 11th August at 11:00am.

"Anyone who struggles, feels alone, suffers with anxiety or stress; I want to inspire these people to persevere and rest in the knowledge that we are never alone. I hope that my simple poems bring you a smile for the moments you feel unable to. ” – Katie Ruth

Suffering anxiety attack during her early twenties, locked in her room, often with suicidal thoughts, Katie Ruth wrote her way from the pits of despair to a full recovery. Now able to face the world head-on. These poems trace her journey back. Here you will find a disarming charm and sincerity that allows grace to take you unawares. the truth is simple - God is very close and He loves us. His love is what our hearts need to be healed. Katie's poems remind us of these most essential truths and they make us smile....because suddenly we know - this is true and she has lived it. In her mother's own words:

"The gift of writing enabled her to track a route of hope on the journey to recovery." If you've ever wanted proof that there's truly a light at the end of the tunnel - Katie Ruth is it!

At least 10% of the profits from the book are being donated to Umthombo and their work among homeless street children in Durban, South Africa.

Introduction from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

View some videos of Katie reading her poems around Virginia Water lake here

Friday, 10 August 2012

Better the Devil you Know: Syria’s Crumbling Pluralism

Kapil Komireddi, a freelance Indian journalist, who occasionally writes for the Guardian, this week has written a perceptive op-ed article in the New York Times entitled Syria’s Crumbling Pluralism in which he criticises US policy toward Syria and Iran. He points out that it is the indigenous Christians and other minorities who are suffering the consequences.
Syria’s 2.3 million Christians, constituting about 10 percent of the country’s population, have generally known a more privileged existence under the Assad dynasty than even the Shiite Alawi sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs. Yet their allegiance to Assad was never absolute. Some Christians openly clamored for political change in the early months of the anti-government uprising. But as the rebellion became suffused with Sunni militants sympathetic to or affiliated with Al Qaeda, Christians recoiled. 
A churchgoing Syrian told me that he used to see himself primarily as “Syrian” and that religious identity, in political terms, was an idea that never occurred to him — until an opposition gang attacked his family earlier this year in Homs. “It’s a label they pinned on us,” he said. “If their revolution is for everyone, as they keep insisting it is, why are Christians being targeted? It is because what they are waging is not a struggle for freedom, and it’s certainly not for everyone.” 
As Saudi Arabian arms and money bolster the opposition, the 80,000 Christians who’ve been “cleansed” from their homes in Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan in Homs Province in March by the Free Syrian Army have gradually given up the prospect of ever returning home.
The rebels’ conduct has prompted at least some Sunnis who had supported the rebels and once-wavering Syrians to pledge renewed loyalty to Assad. Many who once regarded the regime as a kleptocracy now view it as the best guarantor of Syria’s endangered pluralism.
He concludes,
Washington is aware of the scale of the problem. As early as June 2011, Robert Stephen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda’s penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia’s effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States.
Read the whole article here

See also Reuters, Insight: Syria rebels see future fight with foreign radicals

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Five Syrian Nightmares

Tony Karon wrote an important if depressing article in Time last week, entitled, "Five Syria Nightmares: The Middle East Can’t Live with Assad, but Living Without Him Won’t Be Easy" He lists five things that could (and probably will) go badly wrong when (not if) the Assad regime falls

1. The Sectarian Bloodbath Continues, or Intensifies

Renewed Arab offers of safe passage for President Bashar Assad if he agrees to abdicate miss the point: his isn’t simply a personality-cult regime; it survives because many thousands of Syrians remain willing to kill for Assad — or at least, to hold the rebellion at bay. Assad runs a system of minority rule that has empowered the Alawite minority, supported by Christians, Druze and other minorities and an elite from within the Sunni majority. And the reason the regime’s core forces remain intact, able and willing to fight on despite the defection of many thousands of Sunni conscripts and even senior officers, is fear of their fate if the rebellion triumphs. The 18 months of violence that has killed as many as 19,000 Syrians and seen many thousands more wounded, tortured, raped and displaced may have helped make protracted violent retribution a self-fulfilling prophecy... read more

2. Jihadists Fill the Post-Assad Vacuum

The presence of an al-Qaeda-inspired element in the Syrian rebellion has long been established — U.S. intelligence concluded that some of the spectacular suicide bombings early on in Damascus were the work of such groups. And in response to a question in the German Parliament last week, it was revealed that Germany’s intelligence service estimates that about 90 bombings in Syria over the past six months were the work of “organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups.” Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in February called on supporters in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to join the fight against Assad, and a number seem to have responded, with opportunities expanding as the Syrian state frays at the edges. Last weekend, AFP reported that a border crossing near Turkey had been taken over by some 150 foreign fighters proclaiming themselves loyal to al-Qaeda... read more

3. Chemical Weapons Let Loose?

The Assad regime’s stocks of chemical weapons — developed decades ago ostensibly as a strategic hedge against the presumed nuclear capability of its prime enemy, Israel — have become an urgent focus of discussion among Western powers and Israel as the regime has begun to teeter. Fears that Assad would use such weapons to suppress a domestic rebellion may be overblown — they don’t exactly lend themselves to urban combat, and Assad’s conduct until now has suggested a keen sense of keeping the level of violence his regime unleashes below a threshold that would bring direct foreign intervention. Chemical weapons would not only cross that threshold but also almost certainly result in him seeing out his days in a prison cell at the Hague. President Obama on Monday warned Assad that he would be “held accountable” should those weapons be used... read more

4. Syria Breaks Up

Given the sectarian lines on which Syria’s power struggle is being waged, it’s widely assumed that the regime won’t simply shatter into smithereens when the rebels arrive at the gates of Assad’s home. Instead, it’s assumed that those fighting to keep Assad in power will, when forced by overwhelming odds to do so, retreat to more defensible lines from which they can protect themselves and their core communities. It’s been widely noted that Alawites are moving in large numbers to their coastal heartland and that the pattern of communal violence in Sunni villages and towns that abut it suggest a process of ethnic cleansing to prepare the way. An Alawite coastal ministate that folds in the port cities of Latakia and Tartus, home to the Russian navy’s key warmwater port, may not be viable in the long run, but that doesn’t mean the regime’s core won’t try for one. Even before that, though, a scenario could emerge in which rival armed formations control adjacent territories, as occurred in Lebanon during its 17-year civil war and during Iraq’s civil war in 2006 ... read more

5. What Happens in Syria Doesn’t Stay in Syria

Look at the map of the modern Middle East and what jumps out are the number of ruler-straight lines that describe the borders defining Syria and its neighbors Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel. These nation-states were all invented less than a hundred years ago, on the drawing boards of France and Britain as they gerrymandered what became a series of minority-ruled states out of what had been a series of Ottoman provinces. The Sunni minority came to rule Iraq; the Alawites came to rule Syria; Lebanon was created to give Maronite Christians a state of their own, but they too were reduced to a minority and then lost power; Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy ruled over a state whose majority today is Palestinian; and in the British colonial entity of Palestine, Jewish immigrants from Europe (who comprised about 45% of the population in 1948) emerged in control.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq ended Sunni minority rule and sent sectarian political shockwaves across the region. Shi’ite majority rule may have been the democratic outcome, but it was never accepted by Iraq’s Sunnis or by their patrons in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Sunni-Shi’ite tensions have simmered across the region, flaring up in Lebanon and Bahrain — but Syria could prove to be a game changer... read more

Friday, 3 August 2012

What good friends are for

Matthew Gould is the British ambassador to Israel. You don't get the job unless you are tactful and diplomatic in your use of language. And you won't keep the job for long unless you are seen as a 'friend of Israel'. Being the first Jewish British ambassador helps. Which is why Mr Gould's comments this week, reported in Haaretz, are significant. Indeed, if they don't exactly reflect a sea change in UK policy toward Israel, at least they provide a sober warning delivered by a committed friend. 

The Haaretz headline is "World might lose patience with Israel within 10 years, says U.K. Ambassador". The subheading is a lesson in how to an ambassador should deliver bad news if they want to keep their head. "British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould says anyone who cares about Israel, should be concerned about the erosion of international support."
The British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said on Thursday that anyone who cares about Israel, should be concerned about the erosion of international support for the country.

Speaking on Channel 10 news on Thursday evening, Gould said, "Israelis might wake up in 10 years time and find out that suddenly the international community has changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced."

"Support for Israel is starting to erode and that's not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift."

"The problem is not hasbara. The center ground, the majority, the British public may not be expert but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcement about new building in settlements, they read stories about what's going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza. The substance of what's going wrong is really what's driving this," he said.

He also said that there is "growing concern" in the U.K. over the lack of progress towards peace with the Palestinians.
I suggest Mr Gould's coded language indicates the British government is seriously worried. Ten years is a long time. The full article is here

See also British envoy tells Israelis some un-diplomatic truths, and U.K. Jews should also listen in

Anshel Pfeffer reports,
Matthew Gould, Britain's ambassador to Israel's interview this evening on Channel Ten, was surprising in his willingness to tell some undiplomatic truths to Israelis on primetime. Not that there is anything new about Britain's foreign policy positions; they have been in favor of a Palestinian state and against West Bank settlements for decades. But Gould wasn't talking about Britain's policy. He was talking about the positions of ordinary British citizens who don't see much to like nowadays in Israel. He warned "anyone who cares about Israel's standing in the world" and Gould certainly is one, "should be concerned about the erosion of popular support."
 Pfeffer observes,
He refused to respond to Israeli accusations of British media bias, but he had and explanation, it was simple. "Israel is now seen as the Goliath and it’s the Palestinians who are seen as the David" and if Israelis don’t absorb that, they "might wake up in ten years time and suddenly find that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed. That the level of patience for continuing the status quo has reduced.

Gould, it almost doesn't need reminding, is also the first Jewish ambassador to represent Britain in Israel. And while he was addressing himself to the Israeli public, the last section of the interview could also have been directed at the Jewish community back at home.

Ironically, this is also the only part of the interview in which he used a word in Hebrew. "The problem is not hasbara," and seemed to be talking not just to Israelis, but to those Jewish supporters of Israel back in London who always complain that Israelis just don't explain themselves well, that their hasbara isn't good enough. Israel's real problem says Gould is with "the center ground, the majority. The British public may not be expert but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcement about new building in settlements, they read stories about what's going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza. The substance of what's going wrong is really what's driving this."

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Syria's Christians can be the catalysts for peace

Revd Nadim Nasser has written an important article in today's Guardian about the plight of Christians and other minorities in Syria: Syria's Christians can be the catalysts for peace
What if the regime fell today? This is the question that occupies all Syrians, especially Syrians who are in one of the minorities.

In Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, western allies admitted that they had no postwar plan and many have paid the price for this – especially the Iraqi minorities; since Saddam fell, hundreds of thousands of Christians as well as Muslims have fled Iraq in the face of sectarian violence and terrorism. Now, people are calling for a regime change in Syria without a clear plan for what should happen next. Should the minorities pay the same price in Syria?
He warns,
Most Syrians fear what will happen after the regime has fallen. Religious fanaticism is growing across the Middle East and Syrians of every religion dread the establishment of a radical Muslim Syria.

Despite what you might read in much of the western media, Syria is an enlightened, secular society with a deeply spiritual core and the common belief is that Syria is for everybody. A fundamentalist state would destroy the traditions of co-existence and religious harmony that have existed here since the fall of the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. Syrian independence was won with the blood of all Syrians – Muslim, Christian, Druze, Alawite and Kurdish.

Although most Syrians fear radical Islam taking power, our greatest worry is that we have no alternative political system to replace the regime when it does fall. We know from our neighbours in Lebanon, Libya and Iraq that countries can descend into chaos and sectarianism when one government goes and there are no institutions to replace it.
Read the full article here

See also:

Syria: The Unpalatable Truth

Syria: The Proxy War

Five Syrian Nightmares

The Plight of Christians in Syria
Syria: The Next Yugoslavia or maybe Somalia?

Western 'Christian' Backed Opposition Targetting Syrian Christians?
Syrian Christians Catalysts for Peace

Syria: Its all about Oil

Pray for Syria