I’ve compiled a list of rebuttal’s Max Blumenthal’s repulsive article in AlterNet entitled “Inside the Shadowy PR Firm That’s Lobbying for Regime Change in Syria“. Will probably be adding a few. For the record, none of these people were asked to be put here. I simply gathered the Tweets and Facebook Posts available online. It is part of a series of critiques on the topic of the Left’s multilayered failures on Syria.
Where are the Syrians in Max’s Article?
I read Max’s article which aims to open our eyes to the dangerous hidden reality behind The Syria Campaign. I read it over and over and all I felt was a combination of patronisation and humiliation in detail after detail… Beginning with the focus on who took the photo of Omran and who published it and neglecting the fact that what happened to Omran did actually happen and the boy really was bombed. But of course this detail is marginal… just as marginal as all other Syrian men and women in that piece of writing. All of us are marginal details.
More important now is how to help the killer escape by spreading doubts around all the human rights violations they committed.
My organization is one of the 73 organizations that signed on to suspending cooperation with the UN. The decision was taken and planned as per the following steps. Months and days of dysfunctional coordination with the UN as a result of the political ties of the UN’s offices in Damascus. Let alone the grave failure, that the UN admits to, of dealing with the sieges. The Syrian anger towards this topic was portrayed through many responses, actions, banners and campaigns such as United Nothing. All those are purely Syrians but it seems not important enough for Mr. Blumenthal to mention.
We internally shared the statement, which was drafted by Syrian humanitarian organizations, for endorsement. We even objected to the mild language of the statement which some described as nice and friendly. After the internal agreement of the drafting organizations, which apparently it’s not convincing to the writer that the Syrian organizations have a decision-making mechanism, we shared the statement publicly for wider endorsement.
Of course Mr. Max is able to judge and knows better than all of us that we as Syrians have been influenced to shape our opinions! We have been “spurred” to sign!
We are mislead, absent, easily manipulated.
This is how Syrian organisations are portrayed in the article.
On the no-fly zone and regime change. Here comes a more irritating speech. Early 2012, I wrote a “silly’ blog under the title “10 reasons why I am against no-fly zone”
I wrote all possible and expected reasons in relation to sovereignty, imperialism and so on
I was “naive” back then to think there were global civilian protection mechanisms that will prevent us from tending to such solution ie; no-fly zone. I used to think that airstrikes will never be part of the regime response against people. I had the luxury to do so as by then we were not bombarded at from the sky yet.
Until today I regret that feeling of luxury
Yes Max, The Syria Campaign say we need a no-fly zone and it is because it echoes what Syrians call for day and night.
Yes we want the shelling to stop. We want the aerial bombardment to stop. Which is until this moment just a small detail in your article.
Yes the Russian and Assad airstrikes target Syrians, their hospitals and schools.
But this article is not about that small detail that takes the lives of hundreds every day
This one is about how dare an “advocacy” project for syrians to convey syrian messages to the world!!
Yes Max we do want a no-fly zone because two of our education staff were injured last week. Maybe because the manager of our education office in Aleppo has to face a decision whether to close schools and deprive children of their right to education or open schools and risk their safety and lives.
Because once we had to discuss a real decision, and not imagined, on what is the “normal” ij number of airstrikes where we would continue to operate civil and humanitarian activities and when do we cross the “Ok” number
Because hospitals are underground. Because schools are now underground.
They brought us bunker buster bombs you know. I looked this word up in your article. It doesn’t sound that important
Bunker buster bomb that destroys schools and hospitals and even shelters.
But what I found in your article that foreigners want a No Fly Zone. How dare they!!!
Dear Max, if you had listened to Syrians. If you just had assumed that we exist and do have opinions, maybe you would have figured out how we reached this point.
How do we live every day based on Whatsapp ringtone bringing the news of the location of each attack and who are the casualties.
Syrians there live on military air forces planes rhythm, wondering are we going to be bombed during the day only? Shall we work at night? Instead. No shall we do early mornings.
The Russians and the regime which you are discomforted with our will to topple are now working full time job. Day and night. We die. The simple logic is that we want to live. They attack us using air force. We want airstrikes to stop. Don’t you think this is logical?
It is not because we are emotional people. All people across the world, I believe, don’t want to be attacked by air force. This is something common, no?
While discussing toppling the Regime it seems that you are missing some points dear Max. Let me make things clear for you. In 2011 we revolted against one of the toughest dictatorships. We called for freedom and for democracy. We as syrians, for sure if you managed to believe me, want democracy, we want the end of arrests, incommunicado arbitrary detention and shooting at peaceful demonstrations. We want the end of chemical attacks and Bunker buster bombs. We dream of change. Changing this regime, the same regime you referred to revolting against as a coup over a democratically elected government and not as a people’s will to restore its rights. Wait maybe you know better than us about our affairs.
Yes sir, The Syria Campaign as an advocacy group in support of us Syrians does say a lot of what we say over and over which no one listens to. Maybe this is considered political to you but I can see you are trying to take things to a level that is very dangerous for us Syrians. Not only as Syrians but you are undermining the activist movements across the world by painting democracy as a political issue. Hence justice, equality, freedom, and impunity become political issues that civil society activist should not get invloved in. This makes dictators happy while we work like doves of peace.
Yes Mr. Max, we syrians suffer daily from patronization over our advocacy as when we say Bashar Al Assad is killing us, our “supporters” rephrase to “ Syrians are being killed, Syrians were attacked, Syrians are starved”. The perpetrators are passive in that discourse.
Another example that comes to mind. We say:
“We want the shelling to stop so we can move on with our struggle for democracy”. Becomes “Syrians want the war to end so they can go back to peace.”
Our askes are trimmed or toned so we don’t disrupt anyone with such an ugly form of patronization. This what has forced us to see the need to define advocacy. Is it teaching Syrians what they should want while they face death everyday? Or conveying Syrian messages and voices to the world?
I will not even bother to comment on the White Helmets accusation. They have enough of the hallelujah of Syrian women every time they reach an airstrike site rushing to save people. In addition to cheers from children that they have saved and those are even more honoring than Nobel peace prizes even if I really hope they get it. We are just happy and proud as the White Helmets are from us.
Ah wait who are we? We are invisible in your article at the end. So no worries.
Lina Alsaafin from the West Bank, Palestine:
Budour Hassan from Nazareth, Palestine
Max Blumenthal, your Alternet article is beyond disappointing and shameful. I had for long considered you a friend and an ally, but you have irreparably hurt the Syrian people, and me, with what you’ve published here. When Palestinians seek amplification, you rightly channel their grievances. As Egyptians are wilting-away under Sisi and his goons, you stand on the side of justice. But do you think that just because you hold morally conscientious positions on these causes that I will ignore the fact that you are a sounding board for the Baathist amen corner in Syria? In the face of Syria’s tragedies, you have done nothing but echo the exact same propaganda against revolutionaries, aid-workers, and their allies that the likes of Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett constantly spew. Whether you realize it or not, you have committed a great injustice. You have contributed to the online compendium of propaganda against Syrians that continues to provide intellectual cover for their suffering. There is nothing morally courageous or intellectually novel about rehashing the exact same nonsense pro-Baathist outlets like Global Research have been spreading for years, and which Syrians and their allies in support of the revolution have been persistently discrediting.
I remember when you quit your job at Al-Akhbar over their pro-Assad work. What a principled thing to have done. And now look at you. One step forward, one-hundred steps back.
You talk about the dangers of regime change without taking into consideration the fact that the Syrian revolution is completely dependent on regime change, and that the overwhelming majority of Syrians are in favor of regime change, precisely because of the danger the continued existence of the status quo poses. You only inspect the merit of regime change, and the Syrian revolution more generally, through the prism of US interests. The proximity of the US government’s activities–whether real or imagined–define the extent of your interest in Syria, and inform your horrendous biases. You speak about the potential disasters of regime change while you mitigate the severity of the current disaster on Syrian lives brought about by the continued existence of that very regime. Hundreds of thousands dead, and you want to talk about “potential disasters?”
What happened to internationalism? What happened to looking at popular liberation struggles through the eyes of those who define them? Or are the only causes worth supporting the secular ones, absent of all the beardy-weirdy Islamists and “jihadists” you seem to now fear so much?
Just have a look at who is proudly sharing and endorsing your article on social media. Every single pro-Assad scumbag is lauding your piece with great enthusiasm. What does that say? More importantly, how should I interpret your close colleague Rania’s sudden agreeability on Syria with Max Abrahms, that filthy apologist for Israeli crimes? Or are you now willing to forget about that because he slanders Syria with the same fervor as you?
You must remember, Max, that you can never, at any moment or under any virtual circumstance, ever be anything more than an ally in the struggles of Arabs and Muslims–and even that designation now seems too much for you. By virtue of your White, secular, privileged identity, you will never be a mainstay of our causes no matter how much you desire to. You are not Palestinian, Syrian, or Arab, and you never will be. We are the gatekeepers of our causes and narratives, we decide who stays in and who stays out. Evidently, you have, through this horrendous article of yours, decided to willingly show yourself out. Good riddance. I swear to God Almighty and on the honor of Arab and Muslim liberation, when Palestine and Syria are finally free, your name will go completely unremembered–you will not have a place among us. I will sip tea on the shores of Yaffa, prostrate in the abode of Damascus, and take comfort in the knowledge of your absence.
Mariam Barghouti from Ramallah, Palestine
Max Blumenthal has reached serious lows in his latest piece. Rather than address a universal phenomenon on how international aid abuses areas of need and conflict for instance, he has chosen to vilify and demonize human rights organizations that try in any way possible to preserve life in a region constantly bombarded by Russian and Regime bombs.
What Max has done, is build a career off of the Palestinian cause and in return he neglects our Syrian brothers and sisters in the most sinister manner he managed to muster. I am exhausted and sick of having our voices (those of us from the region and in the region) be condensed into soundbites and short quotes so journalists like Blumenthal can build a name for themselves only to betray our Arab brothers and sisters.
His piece is exemplary of what lack of nuance and stripping of agency looks like. It is not courageous investigative journalism reporting, rather a cop out article that whitewashes the crimes of oppressors. I’m too appalled to even link the article here.
What on earth have we done?
Jehad Saleem from Gaza, Palestine:
Shame on all those Western activists who built their fame on Palestinian pain and now advocate for Assad and justify the mass-murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrians
Remember: the worst Syrian regime Military Intelligence Branch is also known as the “Palestine Branch.” For decades, Arab criminal dictators and demagogues took the word Palestine and tirelessly used it to wash the blood of those they tortured and murdered in their narrow and dark torture chambers. For decades, under pro-Palestine slogans, millions of people were hijacked by narrow-sighted socio-paths who suppressed democracy, workers movements and unions, made a joke out of our countries, expelled and executed thinkers and intellectuals, and built more jails than parks and hospitals, and invested in strengthening their power at the expense of the people who were subject to their rule. There is no reason, no reason at all, that can justify why these regimes surpassed all boundaries of excessive use of power and coercion. What does being anti-imperialist have to do with suppressing millions of people, stealing their resources, and force them to live in the hell of a worst-than-Orwellian scenario of fear and misery? No my friends. We do deserve better, our people deserve better than Saddam, Ghaddafi, and Assad, and if you think this is the maximum we deserve, then you are a racist piece of shit who still hasn’t cured his or her supremacist world-view.
Talal Alyan from Gaza, Palestine:
Leila Al Shami from Syria/UK:
Kareem Chehayeb from Beirut, Lebanon
James Sadri of the Syria Campaign (the object of Max’s obsession)