Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on Syrian protests, UAE education

Editorials in Arab newspapers comment on prospects for a Palestinian state and an Al Jazeera resignation.

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Syrian people now want the regime down

"What a bloody Friday in Syria!" commented the editor of the pan-Arab Asharq al Awsat newspaper in a column titled Syria, there is no need for 'resistance'.

"Unarmed citizens were repressed and killed on Friday. It just seems that the true meaning of 'resistance', a motto that the Syrian state has trumpeted for so long in every aspect of its politics, refers to the practice of resisting your own people and resisting their legitimate demands for reform, even if that meant opening fire at them," the editor said.

The Syrian regime has done all it can to try and convince the Syrians and the world that the events unfolding in the country are a "conspiracy", or "acts of terrorism", or a US-Israeli plot, or a cross between all these.

"But no one is buying any of that. Instead of expediting a genuine reform process, effecting palpable changes that the citizens can feel, the Syrian regime kept blowing one opportunity after another … It is no wonder that the bar of demands has risen exponentially higher, so the people are chanting the now-proverbial 'The people want to take the regime down'."

For his part, the editor of the London-based Al Quds al Arabi newspaper said demands for the regime to go were never heard that loud and clear.

"Until this Friday, all people wanted was political reform."

It's time to rethink education in the UAE

"If you take a retrospective look at the field of education in the United Arab Emirates over the past decade, you will find that it has been characterised by big ambitions and little achievements," observed Dr Khalifa Ali Al Suweidi in the opinion pages of the Emirati Al Ittihad newspaper.

In a workshop attended by the Minister of Education and the Director General of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, the consultancy McKinsey International drew everyone's attention to the modest level of education in the UAE. School performance levels ranged between low and middling, it said.

That is due to a number of factors, namely the multiplicity of regulatory authorities - private and government - the absence of a definite model for education, in addition to the inconsistency of the efforts to enhance the sector, the consultancy noted.

"These remarks give us reason enough to sound the alarm," the columnist said. "We do not suspect, for one second, the ambitions, good intentions and diligent efforts of the guardians of the education sector in the UAE.

"But it is high time we took stock of where we are; it's time to hold a dedicated conference to educational reform. The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research would be an apt venue. Let's examine the past and assemble a compass for the future, because financial resources are not enough to guarantee excellence in education."

Left Israelis declare Palestine independent

A ceremony held by hundreds of left-wing Israelis in Tel Aviv on Thursday to declare the "The Independence of Palestine" from Israeli occupation in the West Bank saw the intrusion of dozens of far-right Israelis, reported the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper on its front page.

Dozens of university professors, prominent authors and artists, in addition to 17 Israel Prize laureates ,gathered in the same spot where David Ben-Gurion declared the independence of Israel in 1948. The initiators of the move have circulated over the past weeks petitions against the "fascism that is poking its head out of the government and the Knesset", after Israeli legislation clamping down on the freedoms of Arab nationals in Israel was passed.

Dozens of far-right Israelis gathered in the same area holding Israeli flags, heckling the speakers and calling them "traitors" and "Nazis".

The organisers of the pro-Palestinian rally blamed the police for not being rigorous enough in keeping away the hecklers.

In their independence declaration on behalf of the Palestinians, the organisers purposely used the same introduction as the one found in Israel's independence document.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian president said after a meeting with the French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week that Paris backs the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Bureau chief resigns over Al Jazeera 'bias'

Al Jazeera Arabic's Beirut bureau chief, Ghassan bin Jeddou, has recently submitted his resignation due to the Qatari channel's increasingly felt "bias", sources told the Lebanese Assafir newspaper yesterday.

While Mr ben Jeddou refrained from confirming or denying the news of his resignation, the sources speaking to the newspaper asserted that he filed a handwritten resignation "days ago".

The senior Tunisian journalist's decision to quit was prompted namely because "Al Jazeera has put an end to a big dream of professionalism and neutrality, and standards of professionalism have hit rock bottom after Al Jazeera turned from being a media outlet to an operation room for incitement and agitation."

The newspaper's sources, described as "reliable", said part of the reason Mr ben Jeddou resigned was due to "the way Al Jazeera is currently treating amassed issues in the region in a way that undermines all the sweat that its journalists poured out in the field."

Mr ben Jeddou holds the Tunisian nationality, and his mother is Lebanese. He is said to be the only Arab journalist to have interviewed the Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006. Previously, he held the position of Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Iran.

* Digest compiled by Achraf el Bahi