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On Rescuing Syrian Christians

A nice piece by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, on the efforts of Lord George Weidenfeld, a British Jew, to save some Syrian Christians. Weidenfeld was himself rescued by Christians in 1938. A British Protestant group brought him to London from Vienna, thus saving him from the Holocaust. . . . . Continue Reading »

Interviewing Christian Sahner on Syria

At the Center for Law and Religion Forum today, I interview historian Christian Sahner about his recent book, Among the Ruins: Syria Past and Present. In the book—the subject of a First Things event last winter—Sahner recounts his time as a student in Syria before the Arab . . . . Continue Reading »

Remembering the Great Fouad Ajami

In a year replete with devastating news, the June 22 death of Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami hit especially hard. For decades, Fouad, a man of genius I was honored to call a friend, was an invaluable mentor in matters involving the Arab world and its often-lethal discontents. It was a cauldron of self-destructive passions he knew well, this Lebanese Shiite who came to the United States because he found here a model of the civility and tolerance he wished for his people. Continue Reading »

Mideast Christians, Dhimmis Once More?

Recently, an Islamist group in the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), captured the town of Raqqa and imposed on its Christian inhabitants the dhimma, the notional contract that governs relations with Christians in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christian communities to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya and submission to social and legal restrictions. In Raqqa, for example, Christians have “agreed,” among other things, to pay ISIL a tax of $500 per person twice a year—poorer Christians can pay less—and to forgo public religious displays. Continue Reading »

In Syria, the Dhimma Returns

This month, the conflict in Syria enters its fourth year. The latest news is that the government has recaptured the border town of Yabrud, an important opposition stronghold. In fact, Yabrud is where the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in the opposition, had been holding hostage a group of Greek . . . . Continue Reading »

Syria and What is Good

I thought John Kerry did a beautiful job, a presidential job, trying to convince the American people and the world that we ought to go to war against Syria.  Really brilliant, save one problem, that we would be siding with Al Qaeda in the conflict.  Or rather, not siding with them as much . . . . Continue Reading »

Syria Links

One of the best commenters to grace our site, Anymouse, mentions below the possibility of a genocide of Alawites and Christians if Assad falls. He mentions this in response to my thanking President Obama for the most upfront official U.S. prediction of Assad’s fall yet. The best overview . . . . Continue Reading »

Good for President Obama

This interview over at the Atlantic is worth reading, for two reasons: 1) Our president implies throughout that Iran won’t be allowed to complete a nuclear weapon. 2) Our president says outright that he and his team do not expect Syria’s Assad to remain in power. Yes, Barack . . . . Continue Reading »

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