Sunday, July 31, 2005

There is a new Angry Poll (below to the left). Vote NOW. (If you wish to be paid for your vote, you may contact Sa`d Al-Hariri in Beirut. It is perfectly legal in Lebanon. You will simply be registered as "electoral delegate.")
Dream of Return by Iraqi poet Baland Haydari (my translation):
"I dream, o my city, of return
to our house
with extinguished candles
I dream that I return
and wake up the lamp
and open the window for
the wind
and leave the keys behind
the door
for the thieves
and for guests
for promises
I dream, o my city, of returning
I dream of return
to all what there is in your
wounded heart of tears
to your night discarded
in the alley
a black newspaper like shame
carried by wanderers
and the pimp and the
tavern keeper
from tavern to tavern...
to a laugh at a bar
and hunger may wrap
in its darkness its shoes
with torn road
I dream, o city, of returning
I search for my eyes between
the pages of the book
that I had left...over
at the door
and on its paper
reproach has gotten green
"I wish he returns"
I want that he returns
before in the promises
its question about a missing
person dries up
in wind and fog
I dream, o city, of return
to all what is in your wounded
heart of tears"

South of Beirut. Posted by Picasa

Beach near Rawshah. Posted by Picasa

At Al-Jumhur. Posted by Picasa

On the road at Al-Jumhur. Posted by Picasa

Near Rawshah in Beirut. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A weather broadcaster on Al-Arabiyya TV ended her review of the weather by, "...Wa-Allahu A`lam." (And God is Most Knowing). This was how Muslim theologians used to end their treatises.
"Saddam hit in court attack" (no humiliation visited on Saddam is sufficient to punish him for his crimes.)
'My face was so awful I hid. I would have killed myself had it not been for my mother'
"Astronomers point out 10th planet using Palomar Observatory photos." As soon as the news was announced, a Jordanian "scientist" appeared on Al-Arabiyya TV to declare the news a confirmation of the Qur'an. (He was obviously referring to a verse of Surat Yusuf (12:4) which says: "إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ
أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ
(Behold! Joseph said to his father: "O my father! I did see eleven kawkaban [planets, but is sometimes translated as "stars"] and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me!"). OK.
"The world has turned away - but Darfur's misery goes on"
"The ugly side of beauty: Breast implants for 18-year-olds? Hymen reconstructions? Rape-themed fashion collections? Don't tell Sheila Jeffreys these are signs of female liberation." (thanks Julie)
Al-Balad newspaper is reporting today that the bomb that killed George Hawi and Samir Qasir was very similar to the ones that killed Jihad Jibril and two military cadres of Hizbullah two years ago--in three sepearte car bombings that did not receive the attention of Mr. Annan.
The pro-Saudi, pro-US elaph site, reported that some 32 Muslim Americans in Detroit alone, by one count, changed their names in the last few years due to difficulties and harassments. Jihad became `Imad (Jihad is a common male name with no religious connotation on the mind of the parents. Even Christian Arabs use that name) for example.
Walid Jumblat gave one interview after Hariri's assassination in which he validated (in his ever changing mind) the "Bush doctrine." Neoconservatives, like this guy, still cite it. But they will never tell you that Jumblat later denounced that interview and that view, and that last week he even seemed to defend the terrorist attacks in Sharm Al-Shaykh.
The House of Saud's Al-Arabiyya TV prides itself on being "objective." It is, but only in the same way that Fox News TV is "fair and balanced." (Of course, there are some great reporters at Al-Arabiyya, like Hadil Wahdan and Muna Shiqaqi, among others).
Mr. Obscene is now a Syrian diplomat. I was watching this program on Al-Jazeera today while working out, and there I saw "Dr. Yahya Al-`Aridi, the Director of the Syrian Press Office in London." I knew the guy. When I was a graduate student in the 1980s, a colleague and a friend, the wise `Abdul-Khaliq `Abdullah (who is now a professor at the University of the Emirates) wanted to revive the Arab Student Organization at Georgetown University. So he convened a few meetings. I, who avoid organizations and meetings, attended just because I believe in `Abdul-Khaliq's leadership and commitment. And then a Syrian politician was visiting Washington, DC, so the organization invited him to address the group, and this member of the group, this Yahya Al-`Aridi guy--introduced the guest by heaping praise on the Syrian regime, and saying things that only an oppressive government functionary would say about an oppressive government. I was quite displeased, as you may expect. I waited for the next meeting, to say this: "we, here, don't agree on politics. We don't know one another. Many of you are sent by Arab governments, and some may in fact be reporting to them about what other students do or say. For that reason, whatever is said on behalf of the group, should be agreed on by the entire group." And I addressed the guy, Al-`Aridi by telling him that his praise for the regime does not represent me, or the group, and that he should refrain from ever doing that again. The guy, went crazy on me, literally. He simply went on a rampage of obscenities and vulgarities, addressed to me and every member of my family, the likes of which my Lebanonese ears have not heard in one stretch. At that point, I said that I cannot talk to somebody like that, at that level, and left the room, never to attend any of those meetings again (remember that, Rima, Rania, and Rula?). So this guy is now in charge of the Syrian press office in London. Let's hope that he does not engage in obscene talk on live TV. Or maybe not.
When you shop for groceries, if you are asked "paper or plastic"? Don't provide a hasty answer. Just wait for a fatwa in that regard from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Ibrahim Hooper. Just tell them that Hooper will soon answer that question, once and for all. CAIR and Hooper will produce a fatwa next week to the effect that George W. Bush is the best looking and most intelligent person on earth. That's right. And if you are not sure what fruits you should bring home, wait for the fatwa. Diane Feinstein wanted fatwas, but she will now have more fatwas than she can handle.
PS: Ibrahim Hooper's fatwas are followed by some one billion Muslims worldwide (and even some Christian, Jews, and Buddhists).
Steps in Exile by Iraqi poet Baland Haydari (my translation):
"This is
--discarded--there are
two suitcases
and steps feeling a sidewalk
that does not belong to a place
from one thousand harbors I came
and to one thousand harbors
I am destined
and one thousand waiting
is in my sight
I have not finished
NO...I have not finished
your grapevines, oh road, are still
pregnant and the
wine jugs are still thirsty
and I fear
I fear that the sad and silent
nights wake up
And life
as life says to us:
A hand that salutes on a
sidewalk that does not belong
to a place
I have not finished
Behind all the nights of
this earth
I have a love and a house
and a love and a house
remain for me
despite her nervous and sharp
and despite what the wound contains
of hate and rancor
a house and a love shall remain for me
and time may go back for me
If it goes back for me
if the clarity of the blue sky
embraces my eyelashes
Will a heart in that house
beat for me, I wonder
Will the son of that past
remember a love, I wonder
Will two yes smile
or will they mock and ask
--Have you not finished
What do you want and why
have you come
I see in your glances a tale
of one thousand dead
and will yell:
Don't approach him
in his hands there is...
The morning will commit
and there will be no road
and no glow
Expel him. His steps
toward us have no clouds
to bring green to hope
and they will pass
two suitcases
and life
as life says to us:
a hand that salutes on a sidewalk
that does not belong to a place"

This is the Rawshah area in Beirut. Posted by Picasa

In the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

In the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

In the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

In the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

In the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa
"Israeli occupation forces killed a teenager and wounded eight others in Jenin, while another child was wounded in a shelling in Rafah, as the Israeli rampage continued throughout the occupied Palestinian territories."
"U.N. Charges Sudan Ignores Rapes in Darfur by Military and Police"
"On the city's streets, the daily reality involves death, random violence and routine deprivations for people who are beyond anger. But a different view has been presented in the Green Zone, the concrete-barricaded headquarters for U.S. troops, diplomats and contractors, and the interim Iraqi government. There, the situation is described as progressing toward a gradual handover from U.S. forces to Iraqi control."
"Iraq's transportation minister, a Shiite Muslim, has ordered a ban on alcohol sales at Baghdad International Airport, declaring that the facility is "a holy and revered" piece of Iraq, a spokesman said Friday."
"Uzbekistan formally evicted the United States yesterday from a military base that has served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon and State Department officials said yesterday. In a highly unusual move, the notice of eviction from Karshi-Khanabad air base, known as K2, was delivered by a courier from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, said a senior U.S. administration official involved in Central Asia policy."
"For hire: more than 1,000 U.S.-trained former soldiers and police officers from Colombia. Combat-hardened, experienced in fighting insurgents and ready for duty in Iraq. This eye-popping advertisement recently appeared on an Iraq jobs website, posted by an American entrepreneur who hopes to supply security forces for U.S. contractors in Iraq and elsewhere."
"'Apartheid' at Italian hospital"
"thousands of Brazilians gathered yesterday in Gonzaga for the funeral of Jean Charles de Menezes, killed by British police last week."

This is Zionism: armed Israeli occupiers versus Palestinian civilians. Posted by Picasa

Palestinian "Saleh still owns the key to his family's old house, but it is now occupied by a Jewish family that refuses to return the property." (Picture and caption by SF Chronicle). Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2005

The poem to My City by Iraqi poet Baland Haydari (my translation):
"It is said:
that our house is gloomy
it is said:
that our path
its green has been made
desolate by guilt
it is said:
that people in my city
the flame in their eyes
has dried up
It is said
the worst of what is said
Our house is gloomy
Shadows croak in its desolation
our path is strange
children have abandoned
its brownness
it is said:
the worse of what is said
that there are no men in my city
I know, my little city
oh, the sweat of men at noon
oh, the piece of bread on the mat
oh, little girl, a braid is woven in
its dreams
for a story of the prince to the princess
I know my city
how many wounds...bitter
bleeding under the broken
I know my city
what is behind our gloomy house
and what is behind its awful silence
what a future glittering in the roads
and that I
know oh, my city
that the eyes of men in my city
don't sleep
and that within their silence
a boiler is heating up
if it explodes
future will bow down before it"

The sea off Sidon. Posted by Picasa

Near the old suq in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

The sea off Sidon. Posted by Picasa

The fortress off Sidon. (I recommend that if you visit, you eat at the Istirahah next door, although the building was designed by Pierre Khuri (the Albert Speer of Lebanon). Posted by Picasa

According to Zionism: Nada Siyam (4) is a Palestinian terrorist child who posed a threat to the Israeli state. Thus, she was shot by Israeli occupation forces in the Rafah refugee camp, and is in critical condition in the hospital of Rafah. Posted by Picasa

This is Zionism: Israeli occupation forces destroy Palestinian houses in Al-Khudr in the West Bank. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 28, 2005

"Rumsfeld Urges Iraqis to Act Fast." OK: Iraqis (very fast) Urge US forces to leave Iraq, FAST.
What kind of a Middle East will the Bush Doctrine bring? "Iraq's constitution will enshrine "a significant role for religion in the state," the Shiite Muslim Arab who is leading the drafting of the charter said Wednesday."
Is Campus Watch amused or bemused by the LA Times' profile of Angry Arab?
This is Zionism: "Israel plans triple-fencing of Gaza after pullout"
Prince Sultan, the Saudi Minister of Defense, was visiting a Saudi air base yesterday. He said: "...and we have begun developing our air forces, and our old planes that performed its duties completely, will be soon replaced by new planes from different countries." Take notice.
If your product is not selling, just change its name and people will not notice. "The 'rebranding' of the war on terror"
"Jefferson, Hitchens and Atheism" (thanks Lenni)
After deep thoughts, and careful deliberations between himself and...himself, Husni Mubarak has settled on his favorite choice for president of Egypt. Himself. He asserted that there was no nepotism in the choice, and that the selection was based purely on merit and qualifications. He did admit that he considered his son, but feared that the choice may have smacked of nepotism. This choice, he added, will be seen for what it is: a choice of the best person to lead Egypt. He also added that he will be inviting Arab leaders for a summit meeting next week. He said that he may invite Abu Mus`ab Az-Zarqawi to join the gathering of bloody Arab tyrants.
Fatwas for Sale. Fatwas to Buy. Fatwas to Go. Diane Feinstein wanted Muslim fatwas. You want fatwas? You want fatwas? CAIR and Ibrahim Hooper will give you fatwas, although Hooper is not known to have an appeal among the Muslims of the world, I am afraid. But it must be nice; Muslim American organizations took time of their busy schedule of propagandizing for Gulf ruling dynasties (and advocating for House of Saud's version of Islam), and of their daily ritual of condemnations of any and every act of violence by any Muslim anywhere in the world thereby only reinforcing the clouds of suspicions over every Muslim in the US, to produce a fatwa. Fatwas, fatwas, and more fatwas. And while you are at it, I want fatwas too. I want a fatwa to compel fast food restaurants to cater to vegetarians; and I want a fatwa to improve the taste of soy milk. OK? Is that too much to ask. What I find comical about the discourse about fatwas in the US (especially by members of congress including the well-known scholar of Islam, professor Diane Feinstein, the author of a definitive history of Islamic theology) is that little known about fatwas. People talk about fatwas as if they are binding on Muslims, and as if they will change the behavior of anybody, including those who issue them. Fatwas, in Islam, are only binding on those who agree with them. Do you understand the process now? It is entirely voluntary. OK. You can go now. Go and issue your own Fatwas, NOW.
Exchanging kisses: Hizbullah and Lebanese Forces. I noticed that in the Lebanese parliament yesterday Hizbullah member `Ali `Ammar exchanged kisses with Lebanese Forces member George `Udwan. This is Lebanese politics: no group adheres to principles.
I took a cab in Beirut to go to a downtown cafe. The cab driver started talking to me about something I had said on TV, and he then started to express his political opinions and his agreement with my revulsion at developments in Lebanon. He then revealed to me his political past: he was, it turned out, a member of the now defunct ultra-secretive organization named The Arab Communist Organization, and did not think that I would know of it. This organization was founded by `Ali Al-Ghadban (nicknamed Che) who hailed from the village of Qana near Tyre and split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Al-Ghadban first joined the splinter organization Revolutionary Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (headed by Abu Shihab). Al-Ghadban then split off from the Revolutionary Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to form the New Resistance in 1973. Al-Ghadban then split off from the New Resistance and formed the Arab Communists, which later transformed into Arab Communist Organization (adhering to Trotskiest communism). They were very much like the Red Brigades in Italy in style and organization. In 1974, the organization started its activities in Lebanon and Syria. They staged a number of armed robberies that remained unresolved. In one failed attack on the Bank of America in Beirut in the same year, an upper class member of the group (Yumna Shahruri who attended the same French school as my sister) was apprehended. With some torture, she revealed enough information to lead the authorities to the rest of the group. Al-Ghadban, who maintained a day job as a civil servant, was then arrested. He was surrendered to the Syrian government, which quickly executed him. The rest served prison sentences, but the chaos of the civil war brought about their release. The cab driver was one of those who served time in jail. He described to me unspeakable torture that he was subjected to while in jail. It displeased him that most people do not know of this little known organization.
From the poem You Came at Dawn by Iraqi poet Baland Haydari (my translation):
"You came at dawn
...and there was here
a massacre growing with
no pretext
and behind the gates of prison
there was hope
living in weakness
and there was for betrayal
a thousand hands stealing from
my mind
and from my free blood
the longing of dark nights
for dawn
You came at dawn
and we were here
being killed silently
and not knowing it
Do humans get crucified
do fires devour our houses
our little ones
just because we dream
of the dawn...?
But you came
and we were here
wondering where hope
will come from
from where...
It will not come
The sun will not rise
and in my house
the feet of my children
sink in death without sound
from where?..
It will not come
Our prison is blind with
no window
and our path is sinking
in the hole
and we are with no strength or power
but you came and
we were here
a story about our bitter past
and a convoy of glow
in our free dawn"
Let me get this straight: the US wants Syria to tighten the border with Iraq, but to loosen the border with Lebanon. OK. Thanks.

A section of Sidon. Posted by Picasa

How did you know? Yes, the fortress in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

The fortress in Sidon. Posted by Picasa

This is the (sea) fortress in Sidon. It was constructed by the Crusades in the 13th century, but was later damaged and rebuilt by the Mamluks. Posted by Picasa

This is the mosque that Rafiq Hariri had built for his father in Sidon. Why do rich people think that their God appreciates concrete and cement, and monuments to their wealth? Posted by Picasa
I was reading the draft of the Iraqi constitution which is co-written, as I read this morning in the New York Times, by the US ambassador in Iraq. What a lousy document. It refers everything to the authority of religious laws, and it stipulates on the appointment of clerics in the Federal Constitutional Court which determines the constitutionality of all laws promulgated in the country. On the gender question, it says: "the state guarantees the basic rights for women and their equality with men in all spheres according to the terms of Islamic laws, and helps them to reconcile their duties toward the family and their work in society." And Iraq is supposed to be "liberated"?
When you think about the rejuvenation of the Lebanese fascist militia, the Lebanese Forces (which combines the cross, the Cedar and a Hummus plate in its emblem and which promotes the slogan, God=Quwwat (in reference to itself, the Lebanese Forces) it is important to remind oneself that voters from different sects should be blamed. In fact, if you take the electoral "victory" of Lebanese Forces crackpot George `Udwan, you realize this: he received 59% of Sunni votes--paid for by Sa`d Hariri, 82 % of Druze votes, and 40% of Christian votes.

This is Zionism: This boy, Yusuf Husays, was shot in his head by Israeli occupation forces only minutes after this picture was taken, when he was trying to resist an Israeli occupation invasion of Jenin. Posted by Picasa