I have become dreadfully weary throughout the past two years of the rhetorical practices of apologists for the crimes of Mideast dictatorships. A particularly unnerving yet predictable example of this is the conspiracy theory that has been promoted since the very beginning of the Syrian Revolution.
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The images of murdered men, women, and children broadcast in snippets by Arab and world satellite stations from the battlefields of the Syrian revolution have become almost like a live “exhibition,” with images rolling in day after day uninterrupted... It is as if the charred and dismembered remains of human bodies are all identical, regardless of the region or neighborhood. The corpses, particularly those of women and children, cannot be “re-made,” “rectified,” “adjusted,” or edited. They are bodies of children killed in Aleppo, Homs, Al Rastan...the place is not important.
Two interviews with Father Paolo Dall' Oglio on Al Arabiya and MTV television led me to recall an exchange I had on a Southern California Listserv almost a year ago. The exchange was spurred by a celebratory post about the Syrian Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Assistant, Bishop Luca al-Khoury, who expelled the American Ambassador Robert Ford and his French counterpart, Eric Chevallier, from the church. I asked at the time: is this Christian behavior? Do Christians not claim that God's house is open to all?
To the young Syrian filmmaker
I do not like parallel montage--this is just how god of cinema designed me
And who can argue with the gods?
But I do not like the parallel montage...for another reason:
While I was speaking at the other end of the world
(at the Museum of Modern Art in New York)
The young filmmaker Ali al-Sheikh Khudr was thrust into
A museum of torture in Damascus.
Ali al-Sheikh Khudr disappeared a week ago,
His body and soul abused in an anonymous prison
When I picked up the phone that Monday evening in August of 2011, I thought I was hearing the voice of my hero, Ghalib, Mirza Assadullah Khan (1797-1869) oboing across the half-night, “Ghalib, I think we have caught sight of the road to death now. Death is the string that binds together the scattered beads of the universe.”
One might wonder about the title of this article at a time when Syria is paying a heavy human cost on a daily basis. The environment of killing created by the Assad regime is producing a culture of death, as many of us have witnessed via graphic images on satellite TV, Facebook and YouTube, video which amounts to some sort of terrible Reality Television.
In the midst of the Syrian uprising, Fadwa Sulayman has captured popular attention in both Arab and world media. Her pictures together with her actions and remarks are all over facebook, sattellite TV, youtube and other new media outlets. This attention has shown her to be a remarkable individual within the Syrian revolt.
Hama is a city in Syria.
I have read a sizable part of the literature on the Arab Spring, in addition to having watched scores of documentaries and what seems like hundreds of hours of news footage of this most unprecedented event in modern Arab history. In my Middle East politics class, I used to tell my students that, aside from the 1979 Iranian case, there had been no genuine popular revolution in the modern Middle East. Now, I can lengthen that list to include the Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, Yemeni, and Syrian revolutions, regardless of whether they are ultimately successful or not.
In his article “Ethnic Identity and Imperative Patriotism,” eminent Arab-American literary critic and scholar Steven Salaita explores the question: “How has the pedagogy of Arab American Studies changed?” Salaita suggests that it has changed considerably, and that Arab- American Studies now receive the sort of attention for which its scholars once clamored. However, he is quick to point out that attention alone is not the goal of Arab-American Studies.