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We cannot fix the national problems of Syria

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Joshua Landis is a leading opponent of U.S. intervention in Syria. Last week we did a post faulting NPR’s Melissa Block for bringing up Landis’s marriage to an Alawite woman during an interview with him and Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. We argued that if Landis’s personal connections are fair game, then so are neoconservatives’ connections to Israel, which are never discussed in the mainstream media. Landis posted much of the following on Facebook, and sent the postscript to us. –Editor.

The correct answer to this question is that the ideas are what are important and the background and personal connections of the proponent are not important. If the ideas and argument make sense, they will persuade the majority and win out.

I believe America’s national interest should compel us to stay out. Any rational assessment of the Syria problem suggests that there is not an American solution. It is an intractable problem of basic national identity and a question of who should rule in Syria. The US has tried to decide these issues for two Middle East countries – Iraq and Afghanistan – without good results.

But, as we all know, it is important to know the background of those arguing and what informs their opinions. I find it instructive to know that Elliot Abrams is related to right wing Israelis. I am sure people are interested to know that I am married to an Alawite. I don’t hide it. I get emails everyday from people who tell me that because I am married to an Alawite, I should not talk about this subject, but most of them are married to Sunnis, I would imagine.

Of course, my being married to an Alawite has made me think long and hard about US intervention. I am aware that if the US destroys the Syrian military and drives for a total Sunni win, as they did in Iraq, where they gave the win to the Shiites, it could lead to the ethnic cleansing of the Alawites, which I think would be a bad thing. Bad for my relatives, bad for Alawites, in general, bad for Syria as a whole, and certainly bad for America, because it would destabilize the Middle East. The US has already participated indirectly in ethnic cleansing in the Middle East a few times before and it has cost America a great deal. We helped the Jews in Israel get a state in 1948, which led to the ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Palestinians. That displacement of the Palestinians destabilized the region for 5 decades and involved us in a series of wars and brought terrorism to the US with Sirhan Sirhan and the like. Even Bin Laden explained that the first time he thought about bombing the World Trade Center was when he watched US F15s and F16s bombing Beirut in 1982.

In Iraq, we are also responsible for the marginalization of the Sunnis from power. This is why they are so radicalized and joining al-Qaida and other militarnt organizations.

If the US tries to enter into Syria, we will surely screw it up and end up paying a high price. We have proven that we don’t understand the Middle East and cannot fix the national problems of its peoples.

The US can help Syria by supporting others, such as the Gulf Countries and Turkey to take the lead in helping Syria. They have much more direct interests in Syria and a better chance of helping.

I was against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was accused of being a Saddam Hussein sympathizer. Of course, I knew very well what a tyrant Saddam was, but I thought the US would not gain anything by invading. I think I was correct then, as well.

I am not an Assad supporter or sympathizer. I have always known how brutal the regime was. After all, my first year living in Syria was in 1981-82 as a Fulbright student, when Assad carried out the Hama massacre. I traveled to Hama two weeks after it was over and drove around the city and saw the destruction. I still didn’t believe the US should bomb or intervene. Syria has very deep problems on many levels. We should offer aid and help the regional powers and world powers mobilize to help, but we should not bomb or invade. It is bad for America and would probably only further hurt Syrians.

The fact that Tabler works for WINEP, a pro-Israel think-tank is also good to know. It is natural for Israelis to want the US to clean up Syria, particularly when it comes to chemical weapons. Israel is worried about Syria becoming a hotbed of al-Qaida radicals and salafist militias. It is also worried about CW. Why wouldn’t they want the US to clean up Dodge? Of course it would be better for Israel to have the US do the job. That doesn’t mean that it is good for the US.

But Tabler sincerely believes that the US can fix Syria. He does not make these arguments because he is paid by WINEP. His ideas are his. He knows a lot about Syria. He is articulate and a capable spokesperson. I happen to think that his arguments are not persuasive and would not work out the way he suggests.

In short, it is good to know about the background of the people who put forward political arguments and their connections, but ultimately, we have to judge their arguments on the merits. After all, how does one learn about a region and its people if he has not lived there, interacted with people, and become as close to the situation as he can?

The fact that I have been traveling to Syria for over 30 years as an adult, helps me gain perspective on the people and the country. I lived in Lebanon for eight years, two of which were during the civil war. That has given me some perspective on sectarian civil wars and how intractable they are.

Should the rebel armies eventually defeat the Alawite-led, Syrian Army, and attack the villages of the Alawites, killing some and driving the remainder into Lebanon, I will not call for the US to bomb the Sunni militias. If al-Nusra gains a strong foothold in Syria, I will decry the use of drones to kill Salafist Syrians. Only Syrians can find a solution to their own conflicts.

P.S. Melissa Block and her producer Carol Klinger – just got the voice of an Alawite woman from Latakia on NPR.

I helped put her in touch with a friend, whose sister speaks – Reem. The other voice is of a woman leader of the revolution.

So Melissa Block did get an Alawite voice on NPR, much to her credit. The testimony of the two women demonstrates how their different world views are and how intractable the situation in Syria is.

About Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His website is Syria Comment,

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28 Responses

  1. Joshua Landis
    May 8, 2013, 10:59 am

    Dear Phil, Many thanks for posting this. I love NPR and think that Melissa Block has the most transfixing voice on radio – a Siren of the sound waves.

  2. American
    May 8, 2013, 11:08 am

    Syrian Rebel General Admits Fighters Remain Badly Fragmented
    Leader Has Little Influence Over Rebel Fighters
    Gen. Salim Idriss, the head of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) “Supreme Military Command,” has been endorsed repeatedly by Western officials, and is constantly courting more weapons, more money, and more supplies for the rebellion.
    Yet Idriss admits that nearly a year after he defected the rebels remain badly fragmented, a problem he blames on the number of civilian-turned-fighter groups. He also conceded that as it stands the force lacks the skill to actually win the ongoing civil war.
    US aid has been focused through Idriss’ group, and in April the $123 million aid announcement made by Secretary of State John Kerry came in the form of supplies straight to his command.
    Yet as Islamists gain power in the rebellion, Idriss admits he has little influence over a lot of the rebel fighters on the ground, and only indirect control over even some of the brigades operating under the FSA label.
    Idriss insists he does not, and will not, work with Jabhat al-Nusra, a large militant faction openly allied with al-Qaeda. Officials have presented that as a reason to endorse his group as a moderate alternative, but as the war stagnates, his limited influence leaves open the question of whether the aid is simply about grandstanding about regime change as opposed to backing real Syrian rebel leaders.

    I am curious who Gen. Salim Idriss consulted with before he defected from the Syrian Army—-who assured him of support for the rebellion. Was it only Saudi or is this another example of ‘western’ regime change meddling from the beginning?

    • Reds
      May 8, 2013, 12:40 pm

      While the U.S. uses the line “We must support the moderates because the islamist are winning” seems to always leave out that We the U.S. supports Sunni Islamist in Saudi Arabia who themselves fund the Sunni Islamist in Syria. Also the hidden truth that the U.S. is selling arms to the Saudi’s who then give arms to the same group we claim to be against.

      I agree with Landis that Turkey would have more clout both moral and ethical than the U.S.

      As for Mr. Tabler listening to him on NPR and the amount he’s brought on and what he says clearly points out he has a agenda and it’s inline with WINEP and AIPAC both pro-Israeli groups. Maybe Mrs. Block apologized to Mr. Landis for now standing up to Mr. Tabler but by NPR having Tabler on a few days it seems NPR didn’t care.

      Glad Mr. Landis took the high road with Tabler.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 8, 2013, 1:29 pm

        re tabler. Landis writes: But Tabler sincerely believes that the US can fix Syria. He does not make these arguments because he is paid by WINEP. His ideas are his.

        i agree with that, but he would not be paid by WINEP if he did share their ideology and make these arguments.

        NPR is making a choice to host israeli lobby voices as the counter voice on the syria issue. why? we are inundated with israeli lobby voices. one could make the argument WINEP was not part of the israel lobby, but that would be foolish.

  3. Joshua Landis
    May 8, 2013, 11:18 am

    And, just to say it first, I didn’t provide the title of this article. It is provocative.

    • Philip Weiss
      May 8, 2013, 11:21 am

      I’ll change it, Joshua.
      PS. Thanks much for the argument re Sirhan Sirhan. I have long argued just this point, that Americans have never fully considered the costs of supporting establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, which include the attack on the USS Liberty, 911, the killing of Rachel Corrie, and the rage toward RFK. This of course leaves out the endless wars that the State Dep’t also predicted in ’47-48

      • W.Jones
        May 8, 2013, 12:07 pm

        Excellent point, Phil.

        This is putting aside whether this was Sirhan’s actual motivation. There’s the business about the non-Arab characters seen with him at the hotel.

      • RoHa
        May 8, 2013, 8:35 pm

        It seems probable that Sirhan’s motivation was at least partly derived from the I/P situation.

        Since RFK was shot in the back, and Sirhan was in front of him throughout the shooting, it also seems highly improbable that it was Sirhan who actually killed RFK.

      • Citizen
        May 8, 2013, 12:39 pm

        What is the argument re Sirhan Sirhan? I never read it or heard it discussed.

      • W.Jones
        May 9, 2013, 1:10 am


        According to the official story, Sirhan’s motive was that he heard that RFK wanted to send military planes to Israel.


        the TV documentary he cited as provoking him was seen in L.A. on May 20, and Kennedy’s speech supporting fighter jets to Israel wasn’t given until the 26th. But it was on May 18 that Sirhan wrote “RFK must die” over and over in his notebook.

      • Sumud
        May 9, 2013, 10:41 am

        Citizen – recommend the documentary “RFK Must Die”, sheds a lot of doubt on official story of RFK’s assassination; there was likely more than 1 gunmen…

        There are some shorter documentaries on same subject on YT also, by the same filmmaker.

  4. Justpassingby
    May 8, 2013, 11:22 am

    I often appreciate your comments Joshua although it feels you have to censor yourself. On one thing you are are wrong and that is this quote:

    “The US can help Syria by supporting others, such as the Gulf Countries and Turkey to take the lead in helping Syria. They have much more direct interests in Syria and a better chance of helping.”

    Turkey, and Gulf countries are the REASON for the chaos in Syria, they are the ones arming the terrorists. Syria is for Syria.

    • W.Jones
      May 8, 2013, 12:05 pm

      Yeah, I agree Just Passing By.

      The US CAN fix a national problem of Syria- it can stop bankrolling fundamentalists like the So-called “War on Terror” would have you believe they would not do in the first place. Then it can tell its allies to stop bankrolling them too.

    • Citizen
      May 8, 2013, 12:42 pm

      @ Justpassingby
      Yes, it sure seems so. I don’t know what to make of Turkey. If Turkey ever needed a clue as to how Israel perceives it, the murder of its citizens on the flotilla boat makes it clear. Regardless how Turkey tries to manipulate the US to gain influence, it seems Turkey folks must see the negative writing on the wall for Turkey, re Israel?

      • American
        May 8, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Don’t know what to make of Turkey and Israel?

        Maybe there was a deal…..quit aiding the PPK and maybe we’ll have relations..curtailing Israel’s practice of destabilizing it’s ME neigbors with it’s shit stirring by proxy terrorist groups.

        ‘PPK Pulling out of Turkey’


        Israeli drones have been detected spying on Turkish military units in southern Turkey for the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party), according to Today’s Zaman, Turkey’s English version of the mass-circulation Turkish daily Zaman. The PKK is considered by the US and EU to be a terrorist organization.
        The Jerusalem Post is also on the story. First, TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
        Turkish intelligence agencies prepared a report after the detection of two Israeli Herons in Hatay and Adana roughly two months ago, claiming that the Herons are collecting intelligence on Turkish military units in order to aid PKK operations in those regions.
        The report asserts that the PKK’s training camps in northern Syria, near Turkey’s Hatay border “where Turkish military border posts are relatively weak,” were established in those locations based on intelligence collected by the UAVs.
        The report also claims that Kenan Yıldızbakan, a PKK member who commanded an assault against a Turkish naval base in İskenderun in 2010, has made repeated trips into Israeli territory, reinforcing suspicions of a possible link between Israel and the PKK.
        Today the same publication reported there were “increasing indications” that Israel and the PKK were “uniting against the Turkish government” in an analysis by Dr. Othman Ali titled “Possible consequences of PKK-Israeli union:”
        If this alliance is to take place, it will have serious and far-reaching consequences for Turkey and the Kurdish question. It is our contention that the Kurds and the PKK, in particular are going to be the most adversely affected by this alliance. How and why did this union between PKK and Israel come up and what can be done to deny Israel this leverage in its conflict with Turkey? Starting in the early 1950s, the Israeli intelligence service (Mossad) developed what was known as “the “periphery policy” of the Middle East in which it planned to establish ties with ethnic and religious minorities in the area in order to break the Arab embargo and the isolation Israel feels. Thus, Israel cemented close ties with some Maronites, Druze, Copts, the shah of Iran and Kurdish leaders and groups….
        Consequently, Mossad managed to penetrate the Kurdish movement in the early 1960s. The story of Kurdish-Israeli ties has been detailed in “The Mossad in Iraq” by Shlomo Nakdimon. It suffices to say that the relationship was very exploitive and had harmful consequences for the Kurds. It was Zionist circles which in response to then-Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s request to end the war in Iraqi Kurdistan asked the shah of Iran in 1975 to cut support for the Kurdish revolution. So Kurds have experienced Israel, with tragic consequences in the last century, and the PKK needs to take this into account.
        The Jerusalem Post is following this story under the title ‘PKK using Israeli drones to attack Turkish troops’
        The party, known by its acronym PKK, has a long history of violence in pursuit of Kurdish-self rule and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union.
        The report also claims that Kenan Yıldızbakan – a PKK member who led an assault against a Turkish naval base in Hatay in 2010 – has visited Israel on numerous occasions, further raising suspicions of his organization’s ties to the Jewish state.
        Seymour Hersh reported in 2004 that hundreds of Israeli agents, including Mossad agents, were conducting covert operations in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Iran and Syria. PKK militants have confessed to having received training from Mossad officials.”

    • Reds
      May 8, 2013, 12:45 pm

      I think Turkey’s the exception to the other gulf states and the U.S. limited it’s options while promoting the more extreme actions of the gulf states and than the U.S. using those extreme actions(arming sunni Islamist linked to AEQ) to get more involved.

      Much like Turkey’s effort with Iran the U.S. sunk it as it has with Syria

  5. biorabbi
    May 8, 2013, 11:46 am

    Assad opponents constantly bringing up Professor Landis wife’s religion is an example of vilification by association. Their is a tremendous amount of vilification and stigmatization of the Alawite faith as the bogeyman of Syria, almost displacing the eternal bogeymen, the Jew. Bringing up the religion of Professor Landis wife is akin to bringing Nazis bringing up the faith of FDR advisors in the 1930’s. The argument is not made to merely question his fairness, but to tar him with evil itself. It is ironic that vilification of Alawites is starting to mirror vilification of Jews.

  6. Blaine Coleman
    May 8, 2013, 12:01 pm

    U.S. intervention did a lot to destroy Syrian democracy since the 1940’s.

    Note especially the U.S.-backed overthrow of President Shukri al-Quwatli (شكري القوتلي‎), whose party won the elections in Syria. He was overthrown in March 1949. This led to more coups and had a ruinous effect on the nation. See

    The cumulative ruin caused by U.S.-backed coups and wars in the Middle East is incalculable, from the 1940’s until today.

    Just one example: the 1953 U.S. coup that destroyed Iranian democracy.

    The U.S. and Israel were both gunning for Yemen in the 1960’s.

    In March 1963, U.S. President Kennedy agreed to deploy a squadron of U.S. Air Force F-4s to Saudi Arabia, to fly near the Yemeni border, and to train Saudi pilots, as a demonstration of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, as it fought to restore the overthrown Yemeni monarchy.
    (See “Uncle Sam, Supreme Guardian of the Saudi Crown”, By Herman F. Eilts, U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1965 to 1970), in the Spring 2000 issue of American Diplomacy.)
    On top of that, the Israeli Air Force intervened to oppose the Yemeni republic and support the royalists.

    Add to that the catastrophic U.S. support for Israeli violence and racism throughout the Arab world for so many decades.

    It’s a spectacle of one nation after another being shattered, the spinal column of political discourse broken in country after country, by coup after coup, war after war. The basics of human survival — even a national infrastructure of schooling, medical services, public health, public utilities, the ability to walk tranquilly down your own street, have been incinerated by U.S. and Israeli interventions across the Middle East.

    We have not even discussed the analagous ruin of the Congo, the destruction of African unity and civil society, caused by the assassination of Lumumba.

    Nor have we discussed the choking of the Latin American continent, under the weight of so many U.S.-backed coups in the 1960’s and ’70’s.

    Think about that, whenever the U.S. government throws its military and diplomatic force against the Middle East, pretending that “democracy” will be the outcome.

  7. W.Jones
    May 8, 2013, 12:02 pm

    Actually, I think the views of a journalist of an Alawite minority are important. If a major minority is worried about an AlQaeda affiliated “Free Syria Army” taking over their country, it should be a major red flag. Look at what has happened to Iraq’s Christian population due to Operation “Iraqi Freedom”. This is nuts.

  8. Reds
    May 8, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Thanks for having Landis on. Sad NPR allowed Andrew Tabler to slander him on ATC. You will be proud to know that NPR had Andrew Tabler on a few days later on TOLN.

    Seems the guy can say whatever he wants without recourse.

    Thanks for the piece and insight.

  9. Citizen
    May 8, 2013, 12:27 pm

    ” If the ideas and argument make sense, they will persuade the majority and win out.”

    While I agree that who the messengers are married to, etc–are not what to look at, I don’t think ideas and argument, no matter how sensical, win out–world history appears to me to show that the ideas and arguments that make sense to the elite power network, are the ones that win out. How many wars would have happened in the last few centuries if the masses that became involved (as cannon fodder) actually were fairly informed on the factual details allegedly supported by the ideas and arguments that won out?

  10. piotr
    May 8, 2013, 12:44 pm

    There is nothing disqualifying in having a “personal connection”. You may have some scientific interest in checking if a fly can walk with 5 legs, or with 4 legs, or with 3 — can she still crawl with 2 legs? But having a personal connection gives you a different perspective. You may oppose such experiments like ripping legs off even if some label it “dangerously naive”.

    Our humanitarian interventions are about as ethical as the experiments I mentioned above.

  11. DICKERSON3870
    May 8, 2013, 1:06 pm

    RE: “The US can help Syria by supporting others, such as the Gulf Countries and Turkey to take the lead in helping Syria.” ~ Landis

    MY COMMENT: I appreciate Mr. Landis’ generally constructive comments, but I tend to see the potentates of the “Gulf Countries” (including Qatar*) as “the head of the snake”.

    “Britamgate: Staging False Flag Attacks in Syria”, [original source – Oriental Review (Russia)], 2/04/12

    [EXCERPTS] On January 22 a telling leak cropped up in the Internet. British defense contractor’s BRITAM server was hacked and megabytes of classified internal files of the firm were released to the public. . .
    . . . The key finding is a mail dated December 24, 2012 sent by Britam Defence’s Business Development Director David Goulding to Dynamic Director of the firm Phillip Doughty, who is a former SAS officer:

    We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington. We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.
    They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?
    Kind regards

    To clarify the things, CW is a standard abbreviation for Chemical Weapons; ‘g-shell’ is a bomb consisting of an explosive projectile filled with toxic gas.
    Taking into account the memorable Barack Obama’s warning that the ‘use or even transportation of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would represent a “red line” that would precipitate military intervention’, a message he reiterated last month after the election to the second term, the plotted operation, if carried out, would provide an ideal pretext for the foreign intervention into Syria. Israel has voiced the same warnings last week.
    Who would perpetrate the video-recorded delivery of CWs to Homs? The text of mail clearly indicates that they would use Britam’s Ukrainian personnel for forging videos. . .
    . . . Summing up these facts we can conclude that a provocation in Syria is the only option left for the war-mongers. Having exhaustive information on the real situation in Syria and being aware of inability of the corrupted rebel group to make any significant change in Damascus, they have nothing to do but hire a second-rate British PSC for another round of dirty job. We have no doubt that numerous tragic ‘revelations’ of atrocities committed by ‘pro-Assad army’ that were repeatedly hitting YouTube for the last two years, were also ‘ordered’ for enormous fee to the former British ‘berets’. The latest leakage deserves thorough investigation and consideration on the top international political level. . .


    • Bandolero
      May 8, 2013, 4:17 pm

      The “Britam leak” was debunked as fabrication soon after it appeared. The proof is in the PIDs of the fabricated mails.

      But that does not man that the recent claim of proof for Syrian CW use by Israeli general Brun is true. Quite the contrary: the evidence points now to at least a false Israel WMD claim, but most likely an Israeli CW false flag, to drag the US into Syria to serve Israel’s interest to break up the axis Syria-Hezbollah-Iran.

  12. Bandolero
    May 8, 2013, 4:51 pm

    From Joshua Landis:

    The US can help Syria by supporting others, such as the Gulf Countries and Turkey to take the lead in helping Syria. They have much more direct interests in Syria and a better chance of helping.

    This is outragous and it’s exactly what the US is doing. And those countris are directly responsible for spurring the bloodshed and the sectarian hatred in Syria.

    To understand what Saudi Arabia is doing one has just to have a look to Saudi media.

    Find here a “sermon” given by “Sheikh” Muhammad Al Zughbey which was broadcasted on Saudi TV station Safa TV – a station designed for Syria:

    He calls to murder people who believes in religions he don’t like – and there is no Saudi authority banning such hate speech. In fact, most senior clerics in Saudi Arabia are also engaged in hatespeech against other faiths themselves:

    There are currently about 10 satellite channels from GCC states engaged in little else then inciting sectarian hatred in Syria.

    To understand more on Saudi Arabia’s role in the bloodshed in Syria – and US support for it – I recommend an article at the Saudi media channel Al Arabiya featuring the role of Bushs old buddy Bandar Bin Sultan:

    Turkey is no much different. Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu today tried an old hasbara trick to enflame more sectarian hatred in Syria:

    Davutoglu claimed Syrias army is not ethnically cleansing Banyas because it’s losing elsewhere in the country.

    It’s a total lie – and a deliberate one to spur sectarian hatred in Syria.

    1st lie: Syria’s army is not losing but winning currently on all fronts – day by day. Reuters today:

    2nd lie: Syria’s army is not ethnically cleansing Banyas but rebels started an offensive there – and Syria’s army was victorious with a counter offensive. I can proof it with western media claims.

    See the first message from dpa: “Activists said troops attacked al-Bayda after a bus carrying pro-regime militants, known as Shabiha, was attacked, killing at least seven and wounding more than 30.”

    And after the rebels attacked a bus and killed many “Shabihas” there were battles betweend the army, as AFP joyfully reported: “The village is the scene of fierce fighting between the army and rebel battalions — the first of its kind in the Banias area.”

    After the rebels lost the battles they started themselves in Banyas they made the massacre and ehnic cleansing claims to transform battlefield defeat into propaganda victory – and Davutoglu is leading the charge.

  13. Mike_Konrad
    May 8, 2013, 5:52 pm

    I believe America’s national interest should compel us to stay out. Any rational assessment of the Syria problem suggests that there is not an American solution.

    I totally agree with that.

  14. Rusty Pipes
    May 8, 2013, 10:55 pm

    Landis may not begrudge Tabler’s privileged treatment at NPR, but its listeners who care about balanced coverage should. In the past year, Tabler has been interviewed on NPR 23 times, while Landis has only been interviewed 14 times. Other prominent non-neocon commentators or reporters are hard to find at NPR on Syria, while Israel Lobby-affiliated pundits get plenty of NPR air-time. Pundits from WINEP alone have been on NPR 46 times in the past year, 30 of those in stories with Syria in the title.

  15. DavidK
    May 9, 2013, 9:35 am

    as i understand it, sirhan sirhan was a refugee and exile from the 1967 war and saw relatives killed and murdered by the idf. when he saw rfk give a campaign speech promising more f-4 phantom jets for israel, that is when he decided to kill rfk.

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