Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Obama's Decision Disappointing to Syrians in Region

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Obama's Decision Disappointing to Syrians in Region

Article excerpt

Disappointment was the predominant reaction among Syrian- Americans in North Jersey willing to share their views on President Obama's decision to hold off on military action against Syria. But many others in that sizable community decided that not talking about, or at least not expressing an opinion about, the president's stance or the Syrian crisis was wiser, for a variety of reasons.

Joma Jalo was one of those who was disappointed. He said he had hoped Obama was preparing to present a compelling case for American involvement in the Syrian conflict.

Some agreed with him, but others among the 2,000 or so Syrian- Americans in Clifton, Little Falls, Paterson, Totowa and Wayne were reluctant to weigh in.

Jalo, a 27-year-old budding doctor from Haledon who came to the United States from Syria more than a decade ago, said that he knew firsthand the toll the years-long revolution in Syria had taken on the nation's residents.

Earlier this year, Jalo worked in a medical clinic in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, for three weeks as a student doctor. After he returned to the United States to continue his medical training at two hospitals in Brooklyn, he still had mental images of a country submerged in violent conflict.

"I would see what was going on," at the hospital he had worked at, he said, adding that many of the patients were civilians who were victims of shelling. Some of them had devastating injuries, and some came in covered with blood from head to toe.

That carnage, Jalo said, was why he was disappointed in Obama's decision, which the president revealed in his speech Tuesday night, to delay a strike on Syrian weapons depots to see if a diplomatic agreement with the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, for the Syrian government to destroy its weapons, could be worked out.

"I expected better action from the president," Jalo said, adding, "I expected him to announce a timeline for a strike."

Jalo's response was not uncommon. Speaking at a Syrian restaurant in Paterson, Fehmi Khairullah, who came to the United States in 1992, disagreed with the president's assertion that "America is not the world's policeman" and that it is "beyond our means to right every wrong. …

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