by Andrew G. Bostom
Adnan al Aroor, moderate, peaceful icon of the Syrian rebellion: Syrian Christians will be dog meat.
While Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria in the early 1970s, these were the conditions under which Syrian Jews lived:
- Jews were required to live in ghettos and not permitted to travel more than 3 or 4 kiolmeters from their homes. (By contrast 500,000 Muslims visited Lebanon in 1971 alone.) Anyone attempting to flee the country could be jailed and tortured for three months or more.
- Jews were required to carry identity cards with the word Mussawi (follower of Moses) broadly scrawled in red ink.
- In Al-Qamishli, Jewish homes and stores were required to bear a red sign (the color connoting uncleanliness).
- Under a law drafted February 8, 1967, all government employees and members of the Syrian armed forces were barred from trading with any Jewish establishment in Syria. A list of boycotted businesses was supplied by the government.
- In some instances, Jews were barred from making food purchases themselves and had to rely on Syrian friends to keep them from starving. Jews could not own or drive automobiles or have telephones.
- Jews could not serve in the Syrian armed forces, but had to pay $600 to secure exemption certificates. Jews could not sell property. In the event of death or illegal emigration, property was transferred to the state, which disposed of it either through sale or grant to Palestinians. Members of saiqa, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) faction favored by the Syrians, openly strutted through the streets of Damascus ghetto, intimidating people with arms and beatings. Al Fatah also maintained an office in this ghetto where in one week in 1971 seven Jewish homes were torched.
The overall situation was so critical that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency of November 19, 1971 reported:
For the first time since the Russian Revolution of 1917, Soviet Jews have petitioned their government to aid Jews of another country. Russian Jewish sources reported that a group of Muscovite Jews wrote to the Kremlin's Big Three-Communist Party Chief Leonid I. Brezhnev, Premier Aleksei N. Kosygin, and President Nikolai V. Podgorny-to intervene with the Damascus government for a cessation of restrictions on Syrian Jews. The names of the petitioners were not disclosed, but the sources said they were all activist Jews, many of whom have applied for migration to Israel. The petitioners based their appeal on humanitarian grounds and on the fact of good Russian-Syrian relations.
Given the present absence of Jews in Syria -- pogromed, persecuted, and dispossessed to extinction, culminating in the 1970s, with the exploits of the Hafez al-Assad regime -- and consistent with the longstanding ecumenical Muslim Brotherhood Weltanschauung, "first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people" -- comes a report from the Middle Eastern Franciscan website Terrasanta.net (translation via ANSA Med) about the current plight of Syrian Christians, latest beneficiaries of the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
Adnan al Aroor, a Syrian sheikh who fled to Saudi Arabia following the massacres in his native Homa in 1982, orchestrated by Hafez al-Assad, is an iconic spokesman for the revolt against current dictator Bashir al-Assad. Despite recently being lionized by Al-Arabiya as a "moderate Sunni...symbolic figure...[of] peaceful and non-violent" rebellion, during televised sermons on the Islamic satellite channel al Safa, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, but very popular in Syria, al-Aroor incites his Syrian Muslim followers to "tear apart, chop up and feed to the dogs" current regime supporters-an explicit threat to Christians. Understandably, such Syrian regime opposition is denounced on Terrasanta.net, whose editorial staff reviewed al-Aroor's broadcasts. Terrasanta.net also reports the havoc this incitement has already wreaked upon Syria's Christian minority: churches have been burned down, while many Syrian Christians are terrorized-in some cities, like Homs, they are too frightened to leave their houses.
Delusive, uncritical, Arab Spring conservative enthusiasts recently (August 19, 2011) hectored President Obama to " take a series of actions that will hasten the fall of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad". Predictably -- and rife with hypocrisy -- they have not denounced the popular Adnan al-Aroor and his large Sunni following among the Assad regime opposition. Absent any such denunciation, these conservative policy advisers must be cynically content with Al-Arabiya's bowdlerized characterization of the Sunni Muslim bigot al-Aroor and his numerous Sunni Muslim followers in Syria
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