My friend Yetish and I visited Jordan and Syria in November 2010, just a few months before the Arab Spring broke out in Tunisia and Egypt, followed by the uprising in Jordan and Syria in the spring of 2011. Especially in Syria the revolt against the autocratic rule of Bashar Al-Assad has intensified in the recent months, resulting in organized demonstrations by the general public and often-violent repression by the government forces.
This came as a surprise to Yetish and me, for during our travel we did not suspect any signs of unrest and had no idea that a revolt was brewing under the surface. The Syrians especially had made an impression as people who were at peace with the world and with themselves. How misled we were by their apparent look of contentment and humor! Or perhaps what we witnessed was the calm before the storm.
But we were genuinely touched by the warmth, curiosity, curtsy and dignity of people whose politeness to us was a clear reflection of the long tradition of hospitality in the Arab culture. Almost everyone in the two neighboring nations we had a conversation with greeted us with the words: welcome to our country.
I therefore dedicate this book to the people, particularly the young people, of Jordan and Syria and wish them peace and success in their struggle for freedom, prosperity and individual liberty.
New York, October 2011