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September 12, 2013

Syrian-Americans Live with Daily Worry for Family And Homeland

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How do Americans with family in Syria view the ongoing civil war and the debate over whether the U.S. should intervene? For their unique perspective on the conflict, the NewsHour’s online team talked to Syrian-Americans in the Washington, D.C. area about the challenges of witnessing their homeland’s civil war from abroad and how they think the conflict should be resolved.

Jomana Qaddour, whose mother’s family still lives in Damascus, said, “You sort of have to put up with the reality as it is, and just talk to each other and share photos and try to distract yourself from the fact that, God forbid, it may be the last time you speak to them again.”

“It’s hard because you are removed in one sense, in that you’re not living through it at all,” said Rama Kudaima, a Syrian-American who opposes U.S. military intervention. “But knowing that you have family who is being affected by it, knowing that there’s places that you went to when you were younger and you might not be able to go to ever again, or if you do go to them, they’re going to be destroyed, that takes a certain toll on you.”

Abdulmonam Alikaj was born in Aleppo and feared his sister was killed in an attack a couple of weeks ago. He is supportive of military intervention if it turns the tide of the civil war.

“If direct military intervention is crippling the regime and taking it out, completely out of the picture, then I am for it. But if it’s going to take a few missiles here and there and destroy some assets in the country, and the regime survives, then I’m against it.”


Warm up questions
  1. Have you ever been in a situation where someone in your family or close to you has suffered? How did it make you feel?
  2. If you lived in a different country than your family and they were in danger what could you do to help them? How would you personally deal with the situation?
Discussion questions:
  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often occurs when people have lived through wars or other horrific events. Considering that an entire generation of children is growing up during the Syrian civil war, how do you think it will affect their mental health and their lives in the short and the long term?
  2. Over the two years of the Syrian civil war 100,000 people have died and millions have become refugees. Despite the complex political situation in Syria, what do you imagine is the most important thing to Syrians on a daily basis?
  3. How do you think having family members in Syria affects Syrian-American’s views on whether the U.S. should take military action or not?
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