Red Cross, Jackson Center To Host Law Conference In November


The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York and the Robert H. Jackson Center will host a humanitarian law conference on Nov. 7 at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown.

The conference introduce local teachers to the American Red Cross Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum and help local educators learn the skills for teaching International Humanitarian Law in their classrooms.

The event will feature several key speakers, including a live conversation with Ammar Abdulhamid, a leading Syrian human rights and pro-democracy activist. The event will also feature two American Red Cross speakers: Winnie Romeril, an International Humanitarian Law instructor and Kathy Burch, an Exploring Humanitarian Law master educator and assistant director of the Southwestern NY Chapter.

The Lionators of Syria!

No, this is not some fancy conspiracy theory that I am about to outline here, it is the reality we have been facing for many years now under the rule of this reform-minded president and his clique of brothers, cousins and in-laws. The Damascus Community School (DCS), popularly referred to as the American School, is currently being squeezed out of existence, or at least, its Syrian students are, so as to fill the empty seats in the Shoeifat School owned by, who else?, the President cousin, Rami Makhlouf, AKA, the Raminator of Modern Syria. Continue reading

The Heretic’s Son!

My son, Mouhannad (14), is afraid of the 9th Grade exams: he’s afraid he won’t pass. Yet, his father is too busy courting “death by media,” among other means, to give him the attention he deserves.


Mouhannad is, in many ways, a typical product of the Syrian school system, a system based mainly on rote memorization with minimal interest in developing analytical skills. As a result, Mouhannad knows all the rules of Arabic and English grammar and all the rules of math, but, and no matter how many private tutors we assign, he does not know how to apply them. He simply does not know how to analyze.  Continue reading

In Syria, Building a Civil Society Book by Book

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Damascus, Syria 

Leave it to others to devise grand programs for bringing democracy to the Middle East: Ammar Abdulhamid wants to lay the intellectual foundations of citizenship one book at a time.

Two years ago, with a small group of Syrian writers and academics here, Mr. Abdulhamid, a 38-year-old American-educated historian and novelist, founded DarEmar, a nonprofit publishing house dedicated to making canonical works of Western philosophy, social science, and literature available in Arabic. His goal, he says, is to print books that will foster “debate on a broad range of issues pertaining to civil society and democratization.”  Continue reading

Letter from Damascus: Superhighway to Damascus

BookForum – Jan/Dec 2005 

One of the most significant deficits in the Arab world today—and one which the highly publicized United Nations Arab Human Development Reports have so far failed to mention—is the staggering absence of young voices on the intellectual scene and in the public debate concerning societal and political reform. This is perhaps the starkest manifestation of the “knowledge gap or deficit” referred to in the reports, issued annually by the United Nations Development Program to monitor socioeconomic and political conditions in the Arab states. Arab countries, it seems, have somehow ceased to produce intellectuals—artists, novelists, poets, and political and social analysts—who could navigate new courses and harness popular sentiment to help lift their countries out of the morass in which they are mired.  Continue reading

The Dead Weight of History

What’s one to do with the dead weight of history and demographics? No, I am not about to embark here on some elitist complaint against the “ignorant masses,” or the “mob,” I am merely referring to the all-too real problem related, in part, to the confusion surrounding issues of identity and belonging, and, in other part, to the sheer pressure that population explosion exerts on the basic social services that a state should provide in order to survive in this world (its survival being of major importance to the well-being of, at least, the majority of its inhabitants, if not all). Continue reading