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Syrian civil war

  • The silent occupation: Bringing pre-1967 Golan Heights back to life

    With war raging over Israel's border with Syria, it's easy to forget that the Golan Heights — a buffer between the two countries — is occupied territory. But occupied it is, and the landscape bears witness to a history of violence and expulsion. "The sky fell to earth, the stars turned to stones..." — Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun I’m standing at the top of a crumbling minaret, looking into Syria. The tower belongs to a mosque in the destroyed Circassian village of Sur’aman, whose ruins are gradually being consumed by the woods around them. In the distance lies…

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  • The Syrian child who became a symbol in Beirut — and Germany

    Twelve-year-old Fares al-Khodor sold roses in West Beirut for five years until he was killed in an airstrike during a visit to his hometown in Syria. Touched by the massive outpouring from people who knew him in Lebanon, artist Yazan Halwani brought his memory all the way to Germany. By Avi Blecherman Yazan Halwani, a Lebanese street artist known as “the Banksy of Beirut,” went all the way to Dortmund, Germany in order to paint a portrait of Fares, a refugee Syrian child who was killed recently in the ongoing war. Fares al-Khodor, 12, charmed business owners and passersby with…

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  • Refugee crisis: Stranded at Hungary's barbed wire border

    Thousands of Syrian, Afghani, and Iraqi refugees are stranded on the border with Serbia after the Hungarian government refused them entry. The refugees, however, aren’t giving up so fast. By Oren Ziv HUNGARIAN-SERBIAN BORDER — On Tuesday at around midnight, dozens of reporters and cameramen stand together on the Hungarian side of the border with Serbia. A representative of the Hungarian government, Zoltan Kovacs, steps away from the border crossing and tells the reporters: "Starting tonight the border is closed. Today almost 10,000 migrants crossed here, and we are determined to bring back Europe's borders. "Unfortunately the Greeks are not…

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  • 'Water filled our boat, we saw death staring us in the face'

    Thousands of refugees sleep in tents, waiting to receive a permit to travel to Athens; women suffer from dehydration while the children re-enact the treacherous journey from their war-torn home countries to Western Europe. A special report from the Greek island of Kos.  Text and photos by Oren Ziv and Irene Nasser KOS, GREECE — Syrian children are playing in the water on the beach in front of the police station. The beach is occupied with tents and wooden shacks where refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan sleep every night. Afraid to get any further away from the police station,…

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  • UNRWA funding crisis puts 500k Palestinian children at risk

    A budget deficit of $101 million threatens to delay the start of the academic year in UNRWA schools. At a time of rising extremism, such an outcome could have consequences for states across the Middle East, the agency says. UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, is facing a budget deficit of $101 million for the coming year, the agency says. The shortfall threatens to delay the start of the academic year for UNRWA-run schools. At risk, too, are psychosocial support programs that are administered within UNRWA schools (those offered in health centers will continue to run). The scale…

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  • First, do no harm: Israel and the Druze in Syria

    Some Druze in Israel are campaigning for intervention to save their kin on the Syrian side of the border, but the Druze in Syria reject the idea out of hand. Instead, they are demanding that Israel stop supporting the people threatening to massacre them. By Rabah Halabi ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra are fanatical religious movements that pose a danger first and foremost to moderate and enlightened Islam, then to the Arab world, and humanity itself. These same dark forces are threatening the wellbeing and very existence of the Druze in Syria, because of their religious beliefs, which they have held…

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  • Finding my family in Yarmouk — then losing them again

    Six decades after the Nakba forced us into different corners of the world, social networks allowed us to reconnect with our families and villages. In Yarmouk, I found the people I should have grown up around—the ones who looked like me and my immediate family. And then war broke out in Syria, Facebook went dark and people disappeared, once again.  Those who do not have family members in Syria's refugee camps can watch the atrocities taking place on the news from far away, as if it were all just one big Hollywood horror movie: one that causes deep anguish for…

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  • Trapped between Assad and 'IS': Inside the capital of the 'Islamic State'

    Following a long period of quiet, the Syrian city of Raqqa is once again being shelled — this time by Assad’s forces. Residents have been forced to flee the shelling, along with IS’s extremist agenda. An interview with a resident of the 'Islamic State.' By Elizabeth Tsurkov Raqqa, the capital of the “Islamic State” in northern Syria, for the past two months has been forced once again to deal with a devastating phenomenon — indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian Air Force. According to reports from the local coordinating committee, a Syrian air force bombing of a bakery on Saturday took the…

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  • Syria: The moral imperative to act

    Some left-wing writers and spokespeople look to Syria and see Vietnam. They are terribly wrong. The moral and historic duty of any progressive person is to stand by the Syrian people's struggle for freedom and help them topple the genocidal Assad regime. By Assaf Adiv (translated from Hebrew by Ann Lavi) The U.S.-Russian Geneva agreement on disarming Syria of chemical weapons, signed in mid-September, has postponed the showdown with the Assad regime. As the world watches how this new collaboration between Putin and Obama works out, the real question for the Syrian people remains as before: how to end the killing.…

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  • Tel Aviv to Lake Wobegon: My heart is in the East

    Today is one of those days where I remember a poem by the famous Jewish poet of medieval Spain, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi. The first line of Libi Ba’Mizrach, probably his most famous work of art, is: “My heart is in the East, and I am in the uttermost West.” Rabbi Halevi, of course, was speaking then of his yearning for the Holy Land. I, on the other hand, yearn for my family in Bat Yam. As I was driving alongside the never ending fields of corn in southwest Minnesota this morning, all I could think of were two things: in…

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  • Why Obama should stay out of Syria

    It's a mission impossible. Because of the severe (and understandable) limitations it’s placing on a possible military intervention in Syria, the Obama administration would do better to pass on the idea. The U.S. shouldn’t try to play the humanitarian in a civil war like that one under such self-imposed restrictions; it’s much more likely to end up doing harm than good. Since last Wednesday’s chemical weapons attack that killed at least many hundreds of Syrian civilians, and which the U.S., Britain, France, Israel and others are convinced was carried out by Assad’s forces, Obama has been gearing up for some…

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  • Open the Syrian border

    The web is full of horrifying pictures of dead civilians in Syria, including dozens or even hundreds of dead children following an alleged chemical attack near Damascus. Watching them is simply unbearable. It's still unclear who is behind the attack and what weapon was used, and maybe it's not that important at this point. Analysts are once again discussing Western military intervention in Syria, which still seems unlikely. But before asking the U.S. to send its bombers, there is one thing Israel could do in order to actually help save lives: opening the borders and allowing in a substantial number…

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  • Us and Them: Breeding racism in the Jewish Establishment

    In their haste to unify Jewish youth in support of Israel, American Jewish institutions have bred an often unrecognized racism among the next generation of community leaders. By Roi Bachmutsky Demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah have come alive again as of this past Friday, aiming to show solidarity with the Shamasneh family who have appealed the impending eviction from their home. Unbeknownst to many, the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah reaches far beyond the borders of Jerusalem. In fact, it affects ethnic tensions half a world away by influencing how American Jewish youth internalize the separation between…

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