Arabic media has discovered an article written last year by Dr. Mordechai Kedar where he translated a letter co-written by Bashar Assad’s grandfather, praising the Jews of Palestine and expressing fear of what would happen to an Alawite minority in an independent Syria ruled by Muslim fanatics.
Elder of Ziyon The letter reveals the reason that the Alawite (Assad) rulers of Syria are willing to fight to the last man to remain in power is because the alternative is that they would be exterminated – they understand the Muslim mentality of how they deal with minorities quite well.
Here’s the letter, written in 1936, with Kedar’s comments in brackets:
Dear Mr. Leon Blum, Prime Minister of France.
In light of the negotiations that are being conducted between France and Syria, we – the Alawite leaders in Syria- respectfully draw the following points to your attention and to that of your party (the Socialists):
1. The Alawite nation [sic] which has maintained its independence over the years by dint of much zeal and many casualties, is a nation which is different from the Muslim Sunni nation in its religious faith, in its customs and in its history. It has never happened that the Alawite nation [which lives in the mountains on the Western coast of Syria] was under the rule of the [Muslims]who rule the inland cities of the land.
2. The Alawite nation refuses to be annexed to Muslim Syria, because the Islamic religion is thought of as the official religion of the country, and the Alawite nation is thought of as heretical by the Islamic religion. Therefore we ask you to consider the dreadful and terrible fate that awaits the Alawites if they are forced to be annexed to Syria, when it will be free from the oversight of the Mandate, and it will be in their power to implement the laws that stem from its religion. [According to Islam, the idol-worshiping heretic has a choice to convert to Islam or be slaughtered.]
3. Awarding independence to Syria and cancelling the mandate would be a good example of socialist principles in Syria, but the meaning of full independence will be the control by a few Muslim families on the Alawite nation in Cilicia, in Askadron [the Alexandretta Strip that the French cut off from Syria and annexed to Turkey in 1939] and in the Ansariyya Mountains [the mountains in the western part of Syria, the topographical continuation of the Lebanon Mountains]. Even having a parliament and a constitutional government will not ensure personal freedom. This parliamentary control is only a facade, lacking any effective value, and the truth of the matter is that it will be controlled by religious fanaticism that will target the minorities. Do the leaders of France want the Muslims to control the Alawite nation and throw it into the bosom of misery?
4. The spirit of fanaticism and narrow-mindedness, whose roots are deep in the heart of the Arab Muslims toward all those who are not Muslim, is the spirit that continually feeds the Islamic religion, and therefore there is no hope that the situation will change. If the Mandate is cancelled, the danger of death and destruction will be a threat upon the minorities in Syria, even if the cancellation [of the Mandate] will decree freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Why, even today we see how the Muslim residents of Damascus force the Jews who live under their auspices to sign a document in which they are forbidden to send food to their Jewish brothers who are suffering from the disaster in Palestine [in the days of the great Arab rebellion], the situation of the Jews in Palestine being the strongest and most concrete proof of the importance of the religious problem among the Muslim Arabs toward anyone who does not belong to Islam. Those good Jews, who have brought to the Muslim Arabs civilization and peace, and have spread wealth and prosperity to the land of Palestine, have not hurt anyone and have not taken anything by force, and nevertheless the Muslims have declared holy war against them and have not hesitated to slaughter their children and their women despite the fact that England is in Palestine and France is in Syria. Therefore a black future awaits the Jews and the other minorities if the Mandate is cancelled and Muslim Syria is unified with Muslim Palestine. This union is the ultimate goal of the Muslim Arabs.
5. We appreciate your generosity of spirit in defending the Syrian people and your desire to realize their independence, but Syria at the present time is far from the lofty goal that you aspire for her, because she is still trapped in the spirit of religious feudalism. We do not think that the French government and the French socialist Party will agree to the Syrians’ independence, since its implementation will cause the subjugation of the Alawite nation, placing the Alawite minority in danger of death and destruction. It cannot be that you will agree to the (nationalist) Syrian request to annex the Alawite nation to Syria, because your lofty principles – if they support the idea of freedom – will not accept the situation in which one nation (the Muslims) try to stifle the freedom of another (the Alawite) by forcing its annexation.
6. You may see fit to assure the rights of the Alawites and other minorities in the wording of the treaty (The French-Syrian Treaty, which defines the relationships between the states), but we emphasize to you that contracts have no value in the Syrian Islamic mentality. We have seen this in the past, with the pact that England signed with Iraq, which forbade the Iraqis to slaughter the Assyrians and the Yazidis. The Alawite nation, which we, the undersigned, represent, cries out to the government of France and to the French Socialist Party, and requests them to ensure its freedom and independence within its small boundaries [an independent Alawite state]. The Alawite nation places its well-being in the hands of the French Socialist leaders, and is sure that it will find strong and dependable support for the nation which is a faithful friend, who has rendered to Francea great service, and now is under the threat of death and destruction.
Aziz Agha al-Hawash, Mahmud Agha Jadid, Mahmud Bek Jadid, Suleiman Asad [the grandfather of Hafez], Suleiman al-Murshid, Mahmud Suleiman al-Ahmad.