Support Syria's secularism
Thank you for your publication of Ahmed Salkini's commentary of July 19 titled "Syrian secularism: a model for the Middle East." I've just returned from two months in Syria, living with a Syrian Christian family in Damascus, and I could not agree more with Mr. Salkini's remarks regarding the notability of Syria's "brand of secularism" and the freedom it affords all religious minorities in this diverse and tolerant country.
I was especially struck by the stark contrast between the experience of Christians in Syria and their poor kindred in neighboring Iraq, where I served a two-year tour and learned firsthand of the horrors experienced by that country's fast-dwindling Christian population. Syria's open, inclusive, secular model is a bulwark against extremism, and America's policies should focus on supporting and encouraging it, rather than pushing it into the hands of our enemies.
Founder and president, Euphrates Institute
As someone who has read the Monitor for decades, and as a journalist who has taken 19 trips to the Middle East (in war and peace), I was astounded that you would carry a commentary about the "peaceful intent" of Syria, as written by a staff member of the Syrian Embassy in Washington.
The Monitor is well aware that Syria is a major sponsor and conduit for weapons to the terrorist organization Hezbollah.
And for decades it has been engaged in undermining Lebanon's struggle to be a functioning democracy. Syria is an outspoken ally of Iran, and is strengthening its ties with an increasingly Islamist Turkey. Syria's policies are reflected in the fact that the city of Kuneitra, atop the Golan Heights, has no population!
The city was built to support Syrian troops attacking Jewish farm settlements at the foot of the Heights. In the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967, the Israelis scaled the Heights and the entire population (other than some snipers) fled. Ever since the city lost its raison d'être, it remains an emptied symbol of Syrian aggression.
Thank you for the July 19 article "Heard the one about the layoffs?" I remember the Great Depression. I have always been grateful to Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and all the other comedians of that era. We all welcomed comedy to relieve the awful reality of starvation and general gloom of the rest of the nation.
No one wants to poke fun at individuals for their circumstances, but each of us can laugh at the comical experiences that are involved at times.