Peace talks no comfort for jaded Golan Druze

By Paula Slier, May 30, 2008

As Israel and Syria start talks, a community mulls its divided loyalties

In the central square of Majdal Shams, the largest of the four Druze villages in the Golan Heights, towers a large statue of Sultan Basha El-Atrash.

Engraved below the Syrian resistance hero who fought French colonialism are two lines in Arabic by the Tunisian poet Abu El-Qassem El-Shabi: “If one day the people desire freedom and life, then inevitably destiny will comply — and inevitably darkness will melt away, and inevitably the chains will be broken.”


Israel and Syria start talking

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 23, 2008

Amid cries of political spin from the opposition, the Prime Minister’s Office announced this week that Israel and Syria were conducting “indirect” peace negotiations under the auspices of the Turkish government.

The news was released simultaneously on Wednesday morning in Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara.


Syrians fondly recall time when Jews lived next door

By Heidi Kingstone, April 11, 2008

The houses stand empty in the abandoned Jewish quarter, Haret al-Yehud, just outside the walls of Damascus’s old city. Years of neglect have taken their toll and decay has seeped through. Plaster has fallen off in chunks and chicken wire has replaced glass where windows once opened on to vibrant streets. An antique shop owner delivers an impromptu history lesson when I ask about a brass object with silver inlay.