Extracts from Hands of Syria Teach-In
Jane Stillwater: I have never seen anything in the States that matched the enthusiasm and outright joy that I witnessed, while observing the elections, in Syria. Do I think they were a valid election? You bet!
After being an election observer in Syria, I see ISIS from a whole new perspective. Every time I hear the phrase Islamic militant, I cringe. ISIS members are not Muslims … let’s get this clear, they are not Muslims no more than Adolf Hitler was a Christian even though he claimed to be. Muslims believe in compassion and justice, these ISIS guys are pirates. ISIS main modus operandi in Syria was to move into a city or town, kill or drive out the civilian population and move to slash and burn. They were pirates and the same thing happened in Mosel where the first thing ISIS did was to loot the Central Bank of a half a billion dollars.
Judy Bello: The single largest group of people killed in this war are Syrian soldiers….
[Judy’s translator] Actually I used to be a rebel, my husband and my brother both died quite awhile ago, my brother in particular died in a Syrian prison and we were never able to get his body back and it was heartbreaking for our family. And I said wow and now your translating for this trip are you actually going to vote for Bashar al Assad and she said well, actually I am. You know I came here from Hama and I was able to go to school for free and I became an English teacher and now I am the supervisor for all of the English teachers in Tartous and she said I’ve never been so happy in all my life because I’m a respected member of the community. I still feel heartbroken when I when I think about what happened to my brother but right now I have a good life, my children are in college and they have prospects for a good life and I really want to see security and civilisation restored because those are working for me and my family.
Joe Losbaker: We have been told in the United States that Syria is a one Party State, you’ve all heard this expression one Party State. Well, I happen to live in a one Party State, it’s called Chicago. In the city of Chicago, no it’s true, there has not been, every Mayor has been from the same Party, the Democratic Party, Barack Obama’s Party, since 1931, almost 90 years the same Party in power. In Chicago there are 50 members in the City Council, guess how many there are that are Republicans … none. Guess how long it has been since there were any Republicans in the City Council … 1948. There are 25 Members of the State Council, all Democrats, 6 Members of the Federal Congress, they call them, there are … all Democrats. There has not been a Republican elected in Chicago in anyone’s lifetime. So, what you see from that, it is a joke of course to call it a one Party State. What it is, is that the people of Chicago, they’re Democrats. And what I saw in Syria is that the vast majority of the people came out to vote for the man they felt represented their interests. And what were their interests? First and foremost was to end this war and second to restore the Syria they knew 3 years ago. A prosperous, a secular country where everyone belonged. So, I came away from Syria with this hope that this election would mark the beginning of the end of this war.
Paul Larudee: What would be the best outcome for Syria as far as Israel’s concerned, what’s Israel’s interest? And his name I think was Pynchon or Pinchas or one of these, anyway he said the the best outcome as far as Israel’s concerned is no outcome … no outcome. Now that is honesty because Israel, and this is quite reflective of the United States and that’s not an accident that Israel and the United States coincide in their view, it’s eternal conflict and death and destruction. This is the future for Syria, Iraq and Libya and all of these, let’s be honest about it, this is what the purpose is this is what it is. In order to create weakness among a group that are considered allies and to show nations of the world that if they do not do exactly what the United States and NATO says there will be hell to pay. This is what it’s about. What is Syria’s sin? It has no foreign debt, it doesn’t permit other companies to come in there and own half the country and to export it’s wealth, this is the problem for Syria. This is why Syria has to be destroyed. And yet the American people, don’t feel this way, they are ashamed of causing death and destruction.
So, I want to thank the Syrian people for showing us in this election, that we went to as observers. And we have to come out with an observation and our observation is that the Syrian people that travelled from across the world, we met Syrian, when we were in Syria. We met people from the United States and from many other countries who travelled there in order to vote … who does this? And they voted in massive numbers in foreign countries, when they could, when they were not prevented from doing it. Who is going to do this? And yet the outcome was certain … we knew what the outcome was going to be, we knew, why would they do this? Well, I’ll tell you why, they were sending a message, what is an election if it is not sending a message to the entire world and to their leadership about who they want. And they did. They did in massive numbers.
Compare that with the election in Egypt where 92% of the people voted for al Sisi, well 92% of what people? You know, how many people showed up? And there were at least twice as many who showed up in the Syrian election as in the Egyptian election. That is the difference … that is the difference. Because they, what the Syrian people wanted was very clear, and what, and that is the purpose of an election and that’s what we saw. Joe and I were together in Homs and we saw the same things that everyone else has reported. Just jubilant celebration. It was, it was a way people said as much outside the polling booth, as they said inside the polling booth. And it was magnificent.
And who are the Syrian people, what about the occupied areas of Syria where no one could vote? Well, those people voted with their feet. They left those occupied areas, 6 million of them are living inside government controlled areas of Syria because they prefer that to living under the regime of terrorists, basically. So, they voted and they voted a second time by casting their vote in the ballot in those government areas and furthermore they voted not to become refugees outside Syria. Because twice as many of them are displaced persons inside Syria as their are outside Syria. Twice as many preferred to live inside government controlled areas than to go to Lebanon or Turkey are anywhere else. That’s impressive.