VOTE NOW: Will Golan Heights return with Obama?

"What? Syria?"

How can you allow people, journalists, opinion writers, and decision makers from other nationalities, better understand Syria, to see the true fabric of this society, the different dimensions that this country has, the different kinds of attitudes, mentalities and opinions Syria harbors? The key is: Media & Communication.

Do you think Barack Obama’s Middle East policies will help restore the occupied Golan Heights to Syria?

To cast your vote, please visit . Go to the right-side column to visit our online Polling center.

Forward Magazine will be sharing the outcome with readers in our upcoming print edition (as well as on our website and blog). If you have extra comments you’d like to make about the matter, please do so here, and we will be quoting you in our article-in-the-making about The Golan Heights. We are conducting off-line surveys to complement the off line ones through different mediums.

Why vote?

Our magazine reaches crucial decision-making hubs around the country, the region, Europe and the USA. We believe the media machine elsewhere in the world has smeared Syria’s image for long. Many people (bloggers included) have a defeatist attitude towards an English-speaking magazine published in Syria. Some question English publications by saying things like: “Who will read an English Magazine? How many Syrians read English?”

"How charming? Is it Urdu?" "Huh?"

Aha, well.. The important thing is to have publications that talk to the World, with the same language, professional standards and commitment that other World publications have. Dubai, Amman, Beirut, Cairo (and most of the Arab capitals) have English publications dedicated for creating bridges with the world, communicating the country’s cultural, political and personal stance. Those countries have started with state-owned newspapers that come out in English, and then opened up the market for privately-owned English publications that helped create many mirrors through which the country is reflected. Many state-owned publications have succeeded in creating false images about their country portraying it as a democratic, economically brilliant states – when in reality it is Marshal-Law-ruled with collapsing economies – all because they have started to master the global media game. We, on the other hand, don’t plan to deceive, but to “communicate” and get Syria’s many voices heard.

Western Media

Syria is not one dimensional, it is not backwards, it’s not the tight-fisted, narrow-visioned country that the West portrays us as – in every single news piece about Syria. On the contrary, Syria has a generation of people with great potential, and very plausible achievements on so many fronts – the least of which are cultural. Syrians are misunderstood all over the world. There are world-adopted stereotypes about Syrians (and Syria) that we want to break, influence and change. You can help us get your views across by being part of the change we aspire to achieve. Yes, there are flaws, like everywhere else – local, personal flaws… Those don’t make us the monster that Western media likes to portray us as.

Syrian Flag UK Flag Here is an example of how one blogger’s website is getting Syrian views heard. Sasa, an active blogger, was recently quoted in the Telegraph (one of the major publications in the UK). Click here for more about “Syria News Wire makes it into the Telegraph.”

Wishing you all a good day.

"Can't hear you, dear!" "Excuse me? I don't understand what you're saying?" "What?"

Ruba Saqr (Associate editor-in-chief, Forward Magazine, Damascus, Syria)


5 Responses

  1. Ruba, you’re too kind! Thanks for the mention. Interestingly, he did a Q&A with me about Syria, which is being published, I’ll send you the link in a couple of days. The important thing is the Daily Telegraph is a right-wing newspaper, with right-wing readers, so these are the people who need their opinions changed.

    Also, I’ve just put up a post about Buthaina Shaaban’s talk – she spent most of her time talking about communication, and how Syria needs a media onslaught in the West.

    Best wishes,


  2. Do you mean that Obama will give back the Golan. Shouldn’t you have to rely on your president to get it back, what happen here?
    Doesn’t this look weird?

  3. Sasa… I read your interview with the Telegraph, liked it. Didn’t like some of the questions though… I have no idea why foreign journalists can’t see how biased they are (a question that “assumes” something about your country, is always like a bate to lead you to answer in a certain way). With regards to communication Arab v.s. west, true, Syria needs to better communicate itself to the West. Not to spin-doctor itself as much as “show” what it has. This is a beautiful country with so many stories to tell. Mass media in the West plays every role to damage an image that could have been more balanced.

    Ali… I hope you are aware that the Golan Heights matter is a complicated one with more than one player. Negotiations, foreign policies, the international scene as a whole… are all players that decide on the direction of so many issues in the region. From a journalistic and political point of you, we pose a very legitimate question that happens to be on the minds of so many other people. Your idealism is obvious, and unlike you, we think it’s not weird.

  4. Thanks for the compliment!

    Which questions didn’t you like?

    In terms of the communication – we need to learn to play their game, their way. Our media (national and regional) is too defensive – reacting to an American statement or American action.

    I’ll give you an example – after 9/11. the Israeli media started referring to Palestinian attacks with reference to 9/11. So, phrases like “avoiding our own 9/11”. They used that method so vigourously that even the American media started referring to Palestinian attacks in those terms. Now, following the Indian terror attacks, you can hear the Israeli Ambassador saying “we know what your suffering feels like”. It’s very simple – attach our values to theirs (it’s a normative trick called grafting, if you care!).

    Syria – on the other hand – is seen as different, exotic, barbaric. “We” have nothing in common with “their” values.

    So, that’s what we have to work on. A very simple first step – tell Americans that there are Christians in Syria. We practise your religion. We believe in “your” god. We celebrate “your” Christmas.

    I know it seems crude, and we shouldn’t need to, and it ignores the Muslims, blah blah blah – but it’s just all about finding very obvious – but overlooked – similarities to show that we are one of them.

  5. Sasa is right. I have been an American for eighty years, and I think I know them, or at least how so many of them think.

    the way to their understanding is to show that you are similar… illustrate and identify the points on which you coincide.

    Nothing frightens Americans more than someone whom they perceive to be “different,” and therefore threatening to them.

    It matters little whether the likenesses and differences are real or not… it is a matter of their perceptions, and too many of them ar too ignorant and unexposed to the rest of the world to make the distinctions.

    Aiman bin Abdullah

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