Weekly media digest

Wariness toward upcoming presidential election, education woes in Lebanon, and Israeli apartheid

SyriaUntold brings you the latest edition of our digest. We want to share with you the news, features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we're reading this week.

30 April 2021

Illustration by Rami Khoury

My Syrian past and the privilege of a vote in Scotland at next month's election (The National)

“In September 2012, I arrived at my university accommodation in St Andrews from war-torn Syria. Hardly, then, did I expect that I would be voting as a British citizen in the Scottish parliamentary elections in 2021.

Over the eight years I have spent living and working in Scotland, I have witnessed people going to vote for the Scottish referendum in 2014, Brexit in 2020, and three major UK general elections.” Read more

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A threshold crossed: Israeli authorities and the crimes of apartheid and persecution (Human Rights Watch)

“Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” Read more

Fearing reprisals, Syrian refugees wary to vote in election (Al Jazeera)

“‘The elections are just a vaudeville show,’ said Abu Ali al-Hamoui, 39, likening the election to the French farcical theatre genre.

Al-Hamoui told Al Jazeera he refuses to register for the vote as al-Assad is the guaranteed winner. ‘They indoctrinate you to support the Baath Party ever since you’re in the first grade,’ he said.” Read more

We should all be drinking more Lebanese wine (Eater)

“Contrary to the grainy, yellow filter deployed by Hollywood, Lebanon is not made up of sand dunes. What it does have are mountain ranges cresting at nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, a valley floor at 3,000 feet, a natural water table, predominantly limestone soils, and 300 days of sunshine each year. The overall weather and topography are ideal for the kind of diverse, low-intervention grape-growing that makes for truly great wine. The irony in this overview is the enduring need for it to be included here in the first place — or in any piece of writing on the subject of Lebanese wine.” Read more

Refugee students battle barriers to learning in Lebanon (Financial Times)

“Awad’s success so far is rare among Syrian refugees in the region, particularly in Lebanon, the country with the most refugees per capita in the world. And it is particularly unusual in the pandemic. Most of her Syrian classmates have dropped out one by one — to work, like her older brother, or to marry, as some of her school friends did aged 14 or 15. Others left because of problems accessing online classes. Many will not return when schools reopen.” Read more

‘Living in constant fear’: Life as a journalist in Syria (openDemocracy)

“I was 17 years old, had just finished my science baccalaureate and passed the first test to become an architect at Aleppo University. Instead, I decided to take another path.

At the time, I was the only girl from Idlib, a city in the country’s north-west, to study journalism at Damascus University, the only media faculty in Syria. Some say I was the first from the province to do so and to work as a journalist after graduation.” Read more

Coronavirus surges in northeast Syria amid oxygen shortages (Associated Press)

“Kurdish-led authorities in northeastern Syria announced Thursday they will extend a partial lockdown for another week amid a surge in coronavirus cases. The extension comes as an international aid group warned of oxygen shortages in the neglected region of the war-ravaged country.

Northeast Syria has seen a sharp increase in virus cases and deaths in recent weeks.” Read more

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