1 January 2005


Nabil Fayad strikes again

Zvi Barel

In August of this year Nabil Fayad, a Syrian intellectual and a scholar of comparative religion, wrote the following: "Nationalism for us means four or five people holding a monopoly on Syria's capabilities at all levels ... That the citizen must belong to an ethnic community or to a family in order to be considered a Syrian ... It is shameful that our studies can be found in the universities of Bar-Ilan, Haifa and Jerusalem, yet are completely banned in our homeland. It is even more shameful that after 40 years of being wrapped in something resembling Ba'ath in our hearts, under the title of (threatening) Zionism, we feel that people like Avi Shlaim, Ze'ev Herzog or Israel Finkelstein are incomparably closer to us than self-styled intellectual terrorists such as Ahmed Dargam [the Ba'ath party official in charge of censorship in Syria] and the other members of the wise leadership. It is shameful that we should feel that wonderful women such as Shulamit Aloni or Yael Dayan or Tamar Gozansky are incomparably closer to us than the female sheikhs of thought terrorism who move about like night beetles in all the back alleys of Syria."*

The Syrian authorities have forbidden Fayad to publish his major work on the Passover Haggadah and its sources, and on the Talmud and the Mishna in Syria. But Fayad is not only an academic. He is a publicist whose comments appear on an Internet site of his own and can also be found on liberal Arab sites. Amid all this he continues to be a Syrian citizen even when he is in prison.

Last month he was released from prison after being held in custody without being charged for 33 days, and he continues to write on Internet sites. To judge by what he declared in August, he has no intention of stopping: "Someone may comfort us by saying that the domination of the Ba'ath [the ruling party in Syria] and its leadership will end happily in the era of freedoms, and that all this is going to collapse into the historical wax museum, but we see that the duration for which Ahmed Dargam and his ilk imposed spiritual liens on us 10 years ago is being extended unmercifully. Therefore, it is our right, when we see the military, economic and national achievements made by these people, to cooperate with whoever we want without fear or psychological complex. We are now writing to the whole of humanity, not to the Syrians or the Arabs or the Muslims only. They used us as currency in what they called `the campaign' [against Israel] ... The battlefields of this campaign were five-star hotels and the bedrooms. It is our right to liberate ourselves by means of the peace that we all want. It is our right to write wherever we are permitted, to use our computer where we are not supervised, to live in a place without pollution or corruption."

Fayad republished this article on his Internet site, and two weeks ago allowed it to be posted on the liberal Web sites that operate in Europe and are a new platform for the Syrian opposition. Expect him to launch additional red-hot barbs at the regime of Bashar Assad in the near future.

"People like Fayad exist abundantly in Syria," says a Lebanese journalist. "They are only waiting for the moment when some in Israel will finally pick up the gauntlet and start conducting political negotiations with Assad."

Haaretz, January 1, 2005



        The article mentioned by Zvi Barel has been published on metransparent in Arabic. Link : http://www.metransparent.com/texts/nabil_fayad_going_to_israel_to_work.htm




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