Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Syrian snake eating girls

Two years ago there was a minor kerfuffle in Miami when the Israeli Consul General in Miami sent out a flyer, apparently without authorization from Israel's Foreign Ministry:
Members of the Miami Jewish community were shocked last week to receive an official email from the city’s Israeli Consulate featuring an academic article describing Syrian "barbarism and cruelty," authored by the Consul General Dr. Yitzhak Ben Gad.

The essay, which Ben Gad sent without approval and which directly counters Israel’s official stance, demonizes Syria by graphically describing barbaric scenes which its author claims are typical Syrian practices: girls slaying snakes with their teeth and soldiers strangling puppies to drink their blood.

He alleges that at the time Syrian television showed adolescent girls training with the Ba’ath party militia caressing snakes while Assad and senior party members gazed at them approvingly. Ben Gad embellishes a graphic scene in which the girls bite the snakes and skin them with their teeth, blood dripping down their chins, and then the Syrian militiamen drink the blood. We certainly live in tough surroundings, the Consul General writes, as Syrians are well known for their barbarity.

The Foreign Ministry’s response avowed unequivocally that Ben Gad’s racist line contradicted Israel’s official stance. “If anyone else in the world raised such accusations against Israelis, people would decry them as anti-Semitic attacks. Israel’s line of publicity generally employs positive and updated messages and shuns demonization,” the ministry said.
A little searching finds corroboration of at least part of the story. From Time in 1983:
At graduation ceremonies for the "Revolutionary Youth" group, teen-age girls still demonstrate their newly acquired survival skills by biting live snakes behind the head to kill them and then cooking the reptiles over a campfire, to the delight of guests.
I remember seeing such a video many years ago on a Sunday morning Christian TV show, showing Syrian girls biting snakes in celebration of an anniversary of the 1973 war in front of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, but had never been able to find any video on line.

Until now: (Warning: very disturbing. You only need to see the first two minutes. )