Coppola praises Assad and we all groan

Neo-conservative bible The Weekly Standard ran this curious story last week and, if true, highlights a sad reality of the Middle East; lies, delusion and outright bigotry:

With his new film Tetro billed to open Beirut’s recent International Film Festival, Francis Ford Coppola was diverted from landing in the Lebanese capital when it was learned that his private plane used parts manufactured in Israel. Fortunately, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose Lebanese ally Hezbollah controls security at Beirut International Airport, was able to overlook this minor indiscretion and permitted Coppola to land in Damascus, where he caught another plane to Beirut.

Coppola is revered in the Middle East, as in many other parts of the world, as director of The Godfather, and indeed a new version of the three-part epic has just been released in the region, dubbed into the Syrian dialect. (So how do you say “banana daquiri” in Syria? Banana daquiri.)

The director seemed to enjoy his time in Damascus in late October, where he was wildly impressed with Assad and his glamorous wife Asma. “We have felt so warmly received,” Coppola told Fox News correspondent Amy Kellogg. “The people you meet are kind and welcoming. [Damascus] is fascinating for so many reasons, relating to history. The food is fantastic. The president, his wife and family are lucid, appealing and able to speak on so many levels. In this way he convinces me he has a vision for the country which is positive.”