Kids of Syria

December 2, 2010

The more time that I spent in Syria, the more friendly, warmhearted, and smiling individuals I came across. Contrary to the negative, foreboding impression conveyed by the American media, there can hardly be a more welcoming place to visit in the world. It's important to distinguish between the actions of a government and the soul of a people, and I've learned that this is especially true in the Middle East. So, I was happy to have my initial impressions overturned and to acquire a fuller, more positive image of the people of Syria. I hope that these portraits I captured of Syrian children can go a little way towards eroding the unreasonable fears that many harbor towards a people that always seem to end up on the wrong side of the news. As always, comments are appreciated!














  1. Adam -

    Thanks for keeping your journals going. I have been enjoying them immensely. I wanted to make one comment on your post where you write, "It's important to distinguish between the actions of a government and the soul of a people". If you are still in Syria, I would be interested to hear responses from these smiling, happy kids (and their parents) to this question: Do Jews in Israel have a right to live as free and secure citizens in their own homeland? Then ask them if Israel even appears on their maps and in their textbooks.

    I'm sure you know that Lebanese kids can be just as happy and warm and friendly even as they are taught from day one by their Hezbollah teachers that Israel - meaning, the Jews living in their own sovereign state - is illegitimate and needs to be destroyed. In other words, promoting endless war in pursuit of genocide. I'm curious to know if it's any different in Syria. I know for a fact that in Gaza and in the Palestinian territories this is what's been happening for generations, decades before the 1967 war and the 'occupation' ever happened.

    When you get to Israel, please ask the same questions to Israelis about their Lebanese and Syrian neighbors, and then write about the differences in attitudes.

    My point is that yes, the average citizen and his government are not the same thing, but some ideologies - malignant and otherwise - are shared between the two, and are promoted, believed, and defended by both. Perhaps it's a cultural phenomenon, or simply the effect of lifelong propaganda and incitement, or both. I'm sorry to say that smiling, happy people can somehow manage to live their lives harboring and promulgating the most destructive of ideas about others. What, exactly, IS the "soul of a people" in Syria? And in Lebanon?

    I don't mean to lecture you. I'm really more interested to hear your thoughts and observations should you feel comfoprtable enough to ask these questions.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventures.

    Safe Travels,

    Judah Organic

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Judah. Israel does not appear on maps in Syria. Syria does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state, and it's citizens generally either view Israelis are occupiers of Palestinian land, or, are apathetic towards the issue and just wish for peace. I did not discuss much politics with's generally best not to discuss that subject because many citizens are informants to the government.

    But I do feel comfortable saying that most Lebanese and Syrians do not wish to wage war on Israel, and certainly do not wish for genocide. Sure, those under the spell of Hezbollah may think differently. But the majority do not follow their extremist ideology, even if they sympathize with their cause of standing up to what they perceive as an invalid entity which is aggressive towards Arabs.

    It will be very interesting to hear Israeli's view towards their Syrian and Lebanese neighbors. I'll certainly write about what I find.

    What is the "soul of a people"? Obviously, that is difficult to define. What I meant was, what characteristics do people within this society share? And, by in large, those who have spent time in Syria know locals to be extremely friendly, welcoming, and generous people. Contrary to the impression one might form from the US media, Syria is not teeming with terrorists and, in regards to petty and violent crime, is actually a much safer place to live than our own country.


  3. Amazing pictures and such insightful messages! good job Adam! It's really nice to see that some people do take the initiative to break away from the stupid rat race we're all occupied with in north america and travel to learn more about the people and places we've been misinformed about for so long!

    I'd like to make a comment about Judah's. I usually tend not to make comments on issues regarding Palestine and Israel, since they're such heated topics and people feel too strongly about their positions. so from my experience those have mainly been endless convos without much compromise from either side. anyway, but this time I decided to write something and shed light on this irony inherent to Judah's comment. He insists throughout the paragraph that she's curious to hear the answer to the question she's posing...such an objective and intellectual take on the matter (really listening to what people have to say and not prejudging them)
    However, the complete opposite is what you see being conveyed by his message. It seems like he has his mind set about these people:
    "I'm sorry to say that smiling, happy people can somehow manage to live their lives harboring and promulgating the most destructive of ideas about others."
    "When you get to Israel, please ask the same questions to Israelis about their Lebanese and Syrian neighbors, and then "write about the differences" in attitudes."

    I mean I just have one question for you Judah, which you do not need to answer me. I just wish you would actually think about it for a bit. Do you really wanna read what Adam would have to write about in his future blogs regarding this subject? or you'd rather read what you already believe in order to confirm your existing thoughts?

    I have traveled quite a bit in middle east...been to Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. and my experience has been very similar to Adam's. Of course, I've met extremists from both sides, however much to my surprise I've met a lot more moderate people longing for peace in all these countries.
    Having said that, there was one thing that bothered me immensely. Well, it's no surprise that literacy rate is a lot higher in Israel mainly due to economic prosperity, so you meet more educated, well-read people in Israel than say in Palestine, Lebanon or Syria. These people have attended secular schools and colleges etc. so they've learned how to debate and they know the basics of logical reasoning. so I personally expected them to have a more objective view on things and be less influenced by the state propaganda. However, in many cases it was quite the opposite. It was even more bothersome that they would like to think of themselves as moderate and impartial. Just like Judah in this case (no offense intended here) they'd start off with an open mind and appear to be eager to hear what the other party has to say, but as they'd go on you couldnt help but to notice the irony in their point of view. What's quite astonishing is that a lot of them have never even set foot in Lebanon or Palestine. Some told me that they've barely ever had a conversation with an Arab guy, yet they talk about them like they know them all.

    At the end of the day like a great Israeli director put it one time this war is just like two falafel stands on either side of the border fighting against each other. This beautiful analogy just goes on to say how these people have more in common than not. If he's right, Adam wouldn't have much to say about "the difference of attitude" between the people in his future blogs. That is, he wouldn't have much choice to write about the commonalities.


  4. Wonderful images, Adam. Thank you for sharing these. I cannot and will not speak to the political questions raised, but I will say that these images are nothing if not striking. Keep up the fantastic work!



  5. gracias por compartir esto porque siempre es dificil ver mas alla de lo que parece evidente, y creo que solo alguien que puede ver mas profundo puede mostrarlo, gracias : )