Have you heard? The United States is on… The Road to Damascus.
Yes, that road; the road on which Paul – the synagogue-purging firebrand who set out to disabuse any soft-headed Jews of their Jesus-loving ways – saw the light and embraced the new faith. It’s the spiritual road of inner renewal, the road of understanding and truth, the road of epiphany and wisdom. And just as Paul was, so has U.S. policy towards Syria been reborn. (Do you get it? The parallels are mind-blowing.)
So mind-blowing, it seems, that it’s evidently impossible to write an article about the Syrian-U.S. rapprochement these days without using the phrase “road to Damascus” in the title. Here’s a sampling just from the past two weeks.
“On the road to Damascus” (Washington Times, Feb 26); “Rush Hour on the Road to Damascus” (National Review, February 23); “Road to Peace Via Damascus” (Khaleej Times, 20 February); “In the city: on the road to Damascus” (The Times, February 19, 2009); “Assad urges U.S. to rebuild diplomatic road to Damascus” (The Guardian, Feb 15).
See, the nice thing about this metaphor is that it is flexible. If Obama’s gambit fails, count on a plethora of articles with cheeky titles like “Gridlock!”, or “Detour…” or “Ten Car Pileup On the Road to Damascus.” If he succeeds, on the other hand, you’ll see things like “Scenic Road to Damascus Turns into Superhighway,” etc.
But sooner or later, news editors are going to start scratching their heads and looking for some other pithy phrases to replace this chestnut. That’s where Qifa Nabki comes in! I’ve pulled out my concordance and come up with a list of other Biblical verses that mention Syria or Damascus. I’ve also grouped them into categories based on different editorial lines, for your convenience. Just sprinkle one of these fellows above your by-line, and presto! Instant Biblically-flavored erudition…
1. For Arab/Iranian Naysayers:
“Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought tribute.” (2 Samuel 8:6)
“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.” (1 Kings 19:15)
“The burden of Damascus: “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1)
2. For Israeli Doves:
“Aren’t … the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:12)
3. For Israeli Naysayers:
“Damascus has grown feeble, she turns herself to flee, and trembling has seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken hold of her, as of a woman in travail.” (Jeremiah 49:24)
“The servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their god is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” (1 Kings 20:23)
“The king of Israel asked his staff, “You know that Ramoth in Gilead belongs to us, and we are doing nothing to take it back from the king of Syria?” (1 Kings 22:3)
4. If Obama Succeeds…
“He prepared great feast for them. When they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. The bands of Syria stopped raiding the land of Israel.” (2 Kings 6:23)
“The report about him went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them.” (Matthew 4:24)