At Slate, Christopher Hitchens has a nice takedown of Rick Warren’s bizarro Syrian foray in 2006.
I’m still not sure what the preacher meant by the Saul of Tarsus reference – the conversion took place 600 years before the advent of Islam, and, yes, you would find oases of coexistence in just about any corner of the planet if your frame was 2,000 years. (I hear political corruption was virtually absent from Chicago circa 40 C.E.)
As I’ve reported earlier, it’s true that in recent years the specific persecution of Jews in Syria has been much less of an issue – but that by no means makes the Assad regime a paragon of human rights virtues. Lots of people are still languishing in prison just for saying what they think, Lebanon still suffers from the Assads’ aspirations to droit de seigneur, and Hamas still feels plenty comfy there (although Hezbollah, maybe not so much.)