Thursday, November 30, 2006

"The Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces with some 11,000 mostly Sunni Muslim and Christian troops in recent months, and armed them with donated weapons and vehicles from the United Arab Emirates, a Sunni Gulf state."
Why `Allawi and Chalabi will be packing soon.
"An Israel Defense Forces soldier, who shot and seriously injured a Palestinian at a roadblock, was sentenced to 14 days in a military prison."
Why you should not swim if you are smoking crack.
"According to the study, 63 percent of the Arabic students in high school said they were studying it because they wanted to "serve in intelligence." Zuf Aragman, also of Rosh Ha'ayin, chose it because she wanted to study another language. "Pupils think that those who study Arabic do it only to get into intelligence, but that's not necessarily true. Languages are among the only things school gives you, because history, for example, I can learn from books," she says."" (thanks Maryam)
Somebody asked me why the protests in Jordan against Bush's visit were small. The answer is obvious: Arab and Muslims masses are busy expressing outrage over...Danish cartoons. Whenever you feel Muslim/Arab masses are sleeping, you can wake them up with...Danish cartoons.
From the demonstration that followed the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel in Beirut. (thanks Rami)
Who takes this man seriously, on anything he says: ""The appointment of Desmond Tutu as head of the fact-finding mission to Beit Hanun is an extension of the anti-Israel kangaroo court tactics used by the UN Human Rights Council," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman." In different times, and in different places, Foxman could easily qualify as the village...entertainer.
The slogans and goals that are guiding the agenda of the opposition movement in Lebanon are quite small, petty, and sectarian although I am fully in favor of bringing down the Sanyurah government. The movement should have started earlier, and should have focused on his collaborative role during the Israeli war on Lebanon, and on his economic/financial role (over the last decade).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My friend in Lebanon today told me that he went into an internet cafe in Beirut. On the door, there was a sign. It said: "It is strictly forbidden to discuss politics inside." That is how tense the situation is. At IC (a private high school in Beirut), students were instructed that they can't discuss political affairs.
"Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t."
Look at this guy. He offers what he thinks is his most brilliant foreign policy idea: "reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq’s institutions and political culture from scratch."
For those who care, I will speak tonight at 7:00PM at UC, Davis in Wellman 202.
""It is the first manifestation of a 'Who lost Iraq?' argument that will likely rage for years to come"
I don't believe this story; Bush and Feminist Majority have already "liberated" the women of Afghanistan.
"Five young girls were among six Iraqis killed by US forces yesterday after troops used tanks and machine guns to attack what they said was a house occupied by insurgents."
"Israel is said to have been the source of the intelligence regarding the munitions dumps. The units involved in the searches are Belgian, Spanish and French."
In yet another brilliant observation by Kofi Annan, the US secretary-general today said that the security situation in Iraq is not good. Prior to his statement, people around the world were under the impression that all is well in Iraq.
"Violence against Iraqi civilians, which is already taking between 60 and 100 lives a day, is likely to rise still further, Major General William Caldwell, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, conceded yesterday."
There is so much to talk about in this leaked memo. It contains so many obvious axioms presented as original policy ideas. So badly presented and argued by the National Security Adviser of the US. Look at this one: "Consider monetary support to moderate groups that have been seeking to break with larger, more sectarian parties, as well as to support Maliki himself as he declares himself the leader of his bloc and risks his position within Dawa and the Sadrists." Don't you like "monetary support to moderate groups"? Would you not want to know how they define "moderate groups"? How about this idea: "Engage Sistani to reassure and seek his support for a new nonsectarian political movement." This brilliant National Security Adviser wants to engage Sistani (the NSC adviser does not know that this not-grand-at-all Sistani has refused to meet with any American official) in order to form a non-sectarian group? Does he think that Sistani is a communist? Or how about this: "Step up our efforts to get Saudi Arabia to take a leadership role in supporting Iraq by using its influence to move Sunni populations in Iraq out of violence into politics." Notice that officials in this administration really think that the royal families of Jordan and Saudi Arabia are quite popular among the Arab people. This is quite hilarious.
Buried in the morning news broadcast on New TV was a news item that Sami Gemayyel (Pierre Gemayyel's brother) is being investigated for possible involvement in the assassination of Pierre. It said that the investigation stemmed from cellphone records. He was interviewed yesterday by judge Sa`id Mirza--the judge in charge of the investigation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Now we know where Yunus (who has engineered the best system for poor people to spy on one another) stands on welfare: "The welfare system is designed to keep people in poverty rather than take them out of poverty."
"Ad Blitz Satirizes Lebanon's Divides"
(I suspiciously noticed that those "non-sectarian" ads ran more in some sectarian media (Hariri Inc) over others. So those anti-Sectarians find some sectarianisms worse than others?)
I was reading the statements by Sulayman Franjiyyah and Talal Arsalan in the wake of their visit to Amin Gemayyel. I thought that they were visiting Nelson Mandela. And the Hizbullah delegation that visited Gemayyel spoke highly of the "family." It is a "family" alright--in the same way that Charlie Manson founded a "family."
"After fleeing violence and persecution in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis living in Jordan face a daily threat of arrest, fines and deportation because the Jordanian government treats them as illegal immigrants rather than refugees, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today." (But notice how mildly HRW expressed itself on the matter in comparison to its reports on countries that are critical of the US, for example. HRW even attached a PlayStation 3 to its press release to appease the king).
Lebanese Prime minister Sanyurah assumed that Bush's pat on his shoulder is sufficient to empower him. Sanyurah is now the prisoner of the prime minister's headquarters in downtown Beirut (he has not been to his home in months now): just like Karzai. Just like Karzai. Why can't people learn from history regarding the plight of puppets: do they not know what happened to Najibullah: a Soviet puppet at the time?
Look at the medals on his chest. For what? Courage under fire? Or great performances in video games?
The US administration thinks that John Bolton's daily dosage of wisdom on Lebanon is sufficient to tip the balance in favor of Hariri Inc in that country's conflict. This is like assuming that Bush's constant assertions that he is "making progress in Iraq" is sufficient to achieve progress in Iraq.
This is the first time ever that I read the expression "engaged in prayer"--notice that even prayer is a dangerous act for some Westerners when "perpetrated" by Muslims: "Muslim religious leaders removed from a Minneapolis flight last week exhibited behavior associated with a security probe by terrorists and were not merely engaged in prayers..."
The arrest of the armed militia men of the Lebanese Forces: make no mistake about it. LBC-TV's Pierre Ad-Dahir is trying to cover up for Samir Ja`ja` (or ga`ga` in Egyptian dialect). He will ask for a price: to control more of LBC-TV. I hear that the former head of the terrorist apparatus of Lebanese Forces, Ghassan Tuma, is now back in Lebanon. I had heard that he had relocated to Cyprus since the release of Ja`ja` (ga`ga` in Egyptian dialect).
The revelation in the Israeli media of secret negotiations between the Israeli government and Marwan Barghuti only confirms my early theory about him: that he can't be trusted. Didn't enjoy his work for Oslo, and don't trust whatever he is doing now.
"The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province."
"Violence and persecution follow Europe's downtrodden minority across the continent: Eight million Roma find political voice in face of evictions and mob attack"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Of course there are rumors floating all around Lebanon; people are saying that a ship of arms arrived weeks ago into Junyah and was divided between Jumblat and Ja`ja` (ga`ga` in the Egyptian dialect). Others talks of Israeli weapons found on the coast of Na`mah. I can't confirm. But I know names of Druze villages in which weapons have already been distributed by PSP. I also hear that pro-Syrian, Wi'am Wahhab, is distributing cash in some Druze villages. I would be able to confirm any of that if I can reach Abed (Robert Fisk's driver).
I sent the interview in the NYT with Walid `Idu to As-Safir and to Al-Akbar newspapers in Lebanon. I noticed that the Lebanese media (from what I have seen thus far) ignored it. Only Al-Akhbar mentioned it on the first page. (An-Nahar's correspondent in DC also cited the remarks by `Idu and the report was on the first page of An-Nahar). (Do you know that this buffoon `Idu's daughter is now married to the son of my first cousin (on my mother's side)?)
We need a source for regular updates on Lebanon. I recommend contacting Robert Fisk's driver, Abed. In fact, if we can set up an Abed hot line. Something along the line of 1-800-ABED. Let me know.
I am about to board the plane, but there are so many developments in Lebanon. Not only regarding the arrest of the Lebanese Forces' special "Collision Force"--which was notorious during the war for its responsibility for car bombs, assassinations, and torture. But there have been many clashes around Lebanon--many of them not even reported in the press. `Imad Marmal in As-Safir mentions briefly what happened in Tariq Jadidah between Sunnis loyal to Hariri and opponents. In East Beirut: there were clashes between `Awnis and Lebanese Forces all day today. There were other security developments but one source asked me to not to report on the blog. All this is bound to escalate. Hariri Inc is acting too self-confident merely due to US support, not knowing that US ability to help them in Lebanon is very limited, with the exception of statements of support that can be cashed in any Lebanese bank. The Israeli option (of support for Hariri Inc) was already tried and it led to nowhere: if anything, it wound up reinforcing the line of demarcation between Hariri Inc and opposition, and it led Hizbullah to be more emboldened. The war shattered illusions of friendship with Hariri Inc on the part of Hizbullah. I predict that Hariri Inc will blink first: they don't have much choice. The opposition side is gaining momentum. Clashes, when they occur ,will be far from the classic Muslim versus Christians: they will be Sunni versus Sunni and Christian versus Christian, plus other forms of conflict. Where are all those US reporters (especially on the pages of the Washington Post) who acted all giddy about the Cedar "revolution"? If you need to examine the low state of affairs for Hariri Inc, look at the face of Walid Jumblat these days. He does not look victorious.
Lebanese Army intelligence arrests Lebanese Forces' men training on arms in Kisrawan.
Let me know if you are interested. I am arranging for Robert Fisk's driver, Abed, to do a speaking tour in the US.
Neo-slavery. "At a Wharton Business School conference on business in Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt announced the creation of a WTO initiative for "full private stewardry of labor" for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500 years of Africa's free trade with the West. The initiative will require Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their workers outright. Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome. The WTO's "full private stewardry" program will extend these successes to (re)privatize humans themselves. "Full, untrammelled stewardry is the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory," Schmidt told more than 150 attendees. Schmidt acknowledged that the stewardry program was similar in many ways to slavery, but explained that just as "compassionate conservatism" has polished the rough edges on labor relations in industrialized countries, full stewardry, or "compassionate slavery," could be a similar boon to developing ones." (thanks Beshr)
PS: somebody suggested that it is a spoof. Is it? I noticed that the Wharton website has a disclaimer about one of the speakers.
"Washington's "Three Fronts of Attack" on Venezuela" (thanks Ben)
"Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates" (But HRW promises to praise treatment of workers once UAE establishes diplomatic relations with Israel).
This is what you read in Saudi wahhabi sites: The Sunni Mufti of Syria denies that he is Shi`ite.
I wonder. When I go to Lebanon, can I ask Robert Fisk's driver, Abed, to give me a ride?
A foreign editor of the New York Times was interviewing a candidate for a job. She is a Muslim. He asked her if she was a practicing Muslim.
So the US administration wants to avoid talking to Iran and Syria; the administration is relying instead on the policy that puts faith in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the hope that the popularity of the Jordanian and Saudi kings among the rebels in Iraq will be sufficient to calm them down. OK. I will not be surprised if the US talks to Israel and urge its government to help calm down the insurgency.
I am only posting this to irritate readers who support the March 14th Movement in Lebanon. Enjoy: "Panel to Weigh Overture by U.S. to Iran and Syria"
"“The army will first protect us, but if we find ourselves obliged we will take to the streets, and a peaceful confrontation will be faced with a peaceful confrontation, and clashes will be faced with clashes,” said Walid Eido, a judge and member of Lebanon’s Parliament in the governing coalition, speaking of the challenge from Hezbollah. “We will sell our blood to buy weapons and confront them. We will never let them control the country.”" (This Hariri deputy used to give special dinners for Syrian mukhabarat men in Beirut. During the Lebanese civil war, he was a member of the leadership of the militia, Murabitun. He used the code name Rudwan Sa`adah at the time because he could not as a judge join a political part--a militia here.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"Poisoned spy visited Israel with oil dossier"
You can't say that the White Man does not care about Africa. You can't.
I am not making this up. The other day, a narrator for Al-Arabiya TV was trying to sound eloquent. He said: "where there is no agreement, disagreement prevails." I heard that and left learning of Saudi media what I knew not before.
I see signs of retreat of Empire: "Nato urged to plan Afghanistan exit strategy as violence soars"
"Report: 33 percent of Sderot kids suffer post-traumatic stress" (Report: 100% of Palestinian kids suffer post-traumatic stress).
This man lately has been coming up with many original ideas and he expresses them also originally: "Jordan's king calls Israeli-Arab conflict 'core' of Mideast issues." I don't recall ever hearing anybody saying that before. I never heard that before. But notice that Israeli and US media, knowing that he is so despised in the Arab world, always try to prop him up, to make him look respectable and deep. If he sneezes, they portray it as a sophisticated act on his part.
When you hear Hariri followers from Tariq Jadidah chant: "O Sa`d Ad-Din, don't worry; you have goons who drink blood (Sa`d Ad-Din La Tihtam. `Indak Zilm btishrab Dam)" you want to laugh. They don't know that they sound funny, not fearsome or awesome.
For over a century, Zionism has preached that the only language the Arabs understand is the language of force. Yet, Arabs don't seem to understand. Lately, I notice in the Arab political culture a new trend: many Arabs have reached the conclusion that the only language that Israel understands is the language of missiles. to LA. I will give a talk on Lebanon at UCLA on Tuesday. The talk will be held at 2:30 pm in the Center's library/conference room, Bunche Hall 10383.
Al-Akhbar newspaper has turned itself into a daily outlet for the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon. Enough.
Singer Wadi` Murad accuses rival Singer George Wassuf of conspiring against him to undermine his stardom. Now this is NOT a Zionist conspiracy.
There are three Left(s) in Lebanon:
1) A rightist movement funded by Hariri inc, but is too embarrassed to admit it is actually Rightist (the Yasar Dimuqrati, so-called).
2) A Leftist movement that is embarrassed by its Leftism (Lebanese Communist Party).
3) Individuals and groups who are embarrassed by Yasar Dimuqrati and embarrassed by the Lebanese Communist Party--like Bila Hudud who are getting closer to Hariri Inc these days. The most abstract theoretical text of this group is Che's Motorcycle Diaries. Oh, yeah. Those really like Che and love to wear him on their t-shirts. They think he is cool.
How can you not be hopeful about peace in the Middle East? This week alone the brain of George W. Bush and the brain of King `Abdullah of Jordan are meeting. I expect miracles from this meeting. Just think of the brain power in the room.
Did Charles Glass venture outside of East Beirut? "Many Lebanese were grateful in 2005 for American and French support of UN Resolution 1559 that forced the Syrian withdrawal." I also think that talking to Ghassan Tuwayni merely exaggerates the external dimensions of the unending civil wars of Lebanon.
Palestinians marching...
"But Abrams has one powerful advantage. "Bush has enormous regard for him," says a senior administration official who would not speak about their relationship on the record. "One, because he knows Elliott is keeper of the flame. And also, he's the only one who doesn't draw any attention to himself." (Abrams has been somewhat press-shy ever since he admitted to withholding information from Congress about the Iran-contra affair two decades ago; he was later pardoned.)"
Ziyad Rahbani reveals who is really behind Al-Akhbar newspaper.

"Too tired, to begin with, to check his facts. Rights of Man (not The Rights of Man, as Hitchens persistently calls it) was written as an answer to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Hitchens tells us that among others who wrote replies to Burke, along with Joseph Priestley and Mary Wollstonecraft, was William Godwin, which he wasn’t. He says that, unlike Paine, Wollstonecraft advocated votes for women, which she didn’t. Paine himself, Hitchens says, was not discouraged from writing Part One of Rights of Man by the rough treatment he received at the hands of a Parisian crowd following Louis XVI’s flight to Varennes. Nor should he have been, for Part One was published several months before the king fled and Paine was manhandled. According to Hitchens, Part Two was produced partly to explain to Dr Johnson the need for a written constitution, and partly to endorse Ricardo’s views on commerce and free trade, but when it was written Johnson had been dead for seven years and Ricardo, not yet 20, had published no views that required endorsing. Paine was charged with seditious libel for publishing Part Two, and to escape arrest he fled to France, accompanied by the Wykehamist gentleman-lawyer John Frost, described by Hitchens as secretary of the London Corresponding Society. The LCS was a society of radical artisans, not a gentleman’s club, and its secretary was in fact the shoemaker Thomas Hardy. The trial proceeded in Paine’s absence, and according to Hitchens the future prime minister Spencer Perceval ‘opened for the prosecution’; in fact, though Perceval read the indictment to the court, the prosecution was much too important to be left to so relatively junior a barrister, and was opened by the attorney general himself. In 1794 Paine published The Age of Reason, ‘probably’, thinks Hitchens, in reaction to a sermon by Richard Watson, the bishop of Llandaff, though, as Paine himself tells us, he had not heard of the sermon until it was advertised in Watson’s reply to The Age of Reason, An Apology for the Bible.

This is only a selection of the many errors in this book, and they are not trivial; they misrepresent matters of fact that are essential to an understanding of the context of Paine’s writings, and it is in the course of Hitchens’s attempt to describe that context that they occur. It is the more surprising to find these errors, as none of them occur in John Keane’s biography of Paine (1995), on which Hitchens depends heavily – it must have been lying open on his desk as he was writing this book. Here for example is Keane on Watson’s Apology:

Watson . . . went so far as to admit that parts of the Pentateuch were not written by Moses and that some of the psalms were not composed by David . . . Paine took particular pleasure in some of the Bishop’s curious admissions. For example, The Age of Reason questioned whether God really commanded that all men and married women among the Midianites should be slaughtered and their maidens preserved. Not so, the Bishop indignantly retorted. The maidens were not preserved for immoral purposes, as Paine had wickedly suggested, but as slaves, to which Christians could not legitimately object.

And here is Hitchens: Watson, he tells us,

was willing to admit that Moses could not have written all of the Pentateuch and that David was not invariably the psalmist. But he would not give too much ground. Paine was quite out of order, wrote the good bishop, in saying that God had ordered the slaughter of all adult male and female Midianites, preserving only the daughters for rapine. On the contrary, the daughters had been preserved solely for the purpose of slavery. No hint of immorality was involved.

Or here is Keane on the problems Paine encountered in his efforts to publish Part One of Rights of Man:

Paine finished the first part of Rights of Man on his 54th birthday, 29 January 1791 . . . The next day, Paine passed the manuscript to the well-known London publisher Joseph Johnson, who set about printing it in time for the opening of Parliament and Washington’s birthday on 22 February. As the unbound copies piled up in the printing shop, Johnson was visited repeatedly by government agents. Although Johnson had already published replies to Burke’s Reflections by Thomas Christie, Mary Wollstonecraft and Capel Lofft, he sensed, correctly, that Paine’s manuscript would attract far more attention and bitter controversy than all of them combined. Fearing the book police, and unnerved by the prospect of arrest and bankruptcy, Johnson suppressed the book on the very day of its scheduled publication.

And here is Hitchens again:

Having completed Part One on his 54th birthday, 29 January 1791, Paine made haste to take the manuscript to a printer named Joseph Johnson. The proposed publication deadline, of 22 February, was intended to coincide with the opening of Parliament and the birthday of George Washington. Mr Johnson was a man of some nerve and principle, as he had demonstrated by printing several radical replies to Burke (including the one by Mary Wollstonecraft) but he took fright after several heavy-footed visits from William Pitt’s political police. On the day of publication, he announced that The Rights of Man would not appear under the imprint of his press." (thanks Rosa)

"STEPHANOPOULOS: You say, “something dramatic.” What could that be?
KING ABDULLAH: Well, we have to get me PlayStation 3. We need that; it is important for peace in the Middle East. I can't wait any longer. This has been painful for all of us in the region."
Why did people not come up with this brilliant idea before? The King of Jordan offers his plan for a new strategy for Iraq: "There needs to be a strategy. There needs to be a plan that brings all the parties together, and bring them today and not tomorrow."" He added that bringing them on Tuesday would not be good; but Wednesday is OK.
This counts as balance in US media coverage of the Middle East: you have to quote somebody from the Saban Center whenever you quote somebody from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Gen. Hummus is back. He left his restaurant, Byblos, to pontificate. Notice that Israeli media treat Gen. Hummus as an "objective analyst" of Middle East affairs.
Somebody should start a website dedicated to US puppets in the Middle East. We can have a weekly rating, to see who is up and who is down, and who is doing a better job of pleasing the Bush administration. I give high ranking to this ruler.
"POLICE and councils are considering monitoring conversations in the street using high-powered microphones attached to CCTV cameras"
The last every-ten-minute report on Lebanon received--according to Hariri rag--by Bush said this: mini-Hariri went to bed. He had a light dinner. He watched some cartoons before retiring.
The best advertisement against the clergy (in Lebanon and elsewhere) are the three top clerical leaders of Lebanon: the Maronite Patriarch, Sfayr, the Sunni Mufti, Qabbani, and the Shi`ite Mutfi, Qabalan. I mean, look at those three. They validate what Robespierre said: "clerics are to virtue what charlatans are to medicine."
Orientalism of Uri Avnery. People always send me articles by Uri Avnery. I never ever post them. Never was a fan--and I didn't admire his war years on behalf of Israeli occupation forces. Here, Avnery, reproduces generalizations from the Arab Mind--almost word-for-word: "As in almost all Arab societies, the Hamula (extended family) plays a vital role in all communities. Loyalty to the Hamula precedes even loyalty to the community, according to the ancient Arab saying: "With my cousin against the foreigner, with my brother against my cousin."
(I can't believe that some Arabs sent me this piece today. Did they read it, or they just endorse whatever he writes?)
Today, King `Abdullah of Jordan was interviewed on ABC News.
"In recent years American press freedom has eroded. Many other countries are now ranked freer than the United States -- all of the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand and many others. In the most recent survey by Freedom House, an independent* American-based organization that assesses liberties around the world, the United States tied for 17th place, with the Bahamas, Estonia, Germany and others. The international free-press advocates Reporters Without Borders ranked us 53rd, tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. These rankings may not be scientifically valid, for a lot of subjective judgment is involved. But it is sobering to see the consensus that the United States is no longer anywhere near the top."
*Freedom House is not independent. It is a right-wing, anti-communist organization which ranks countries on the basis of their subservience to the US. Just notice the discrepancy between the ranking of Freedom House and that of RWB.
"In 1892, Kipling wrote:
And the end of the fight is a
tombstone white with the name of
the late deceased, And the epitaph
drear: "A Fool lies here who tried
to hustle the East."
The story of Jalal Kishk. Jalal Kishk was a struggling hard-core Marxist writer who lived in Beirut in the 1960s. He fled the Nasserist campaign of persecution of Egyptian communists. He settled in Beirut's At-Tariq Al-Jadidah neighborhood, not far from the old offices of Hawadith on Corniche Al-Mazra`ah. When Al-Hawadith magazine was enjoying its dramatic rise as the most widely read publication in the Arab world (Israeli Orientalists still think that Hawadith is still widely read--they always quote it although it is now read by four people if that) in the 1960s, its publisher, Salim Al-Lawzi, heard about this meticulous and most knowledgeable researcher, Jalal Kishk, who has created his own archives about Arab politics in his little aparatment. Kishk was hired as a roving Arab correspondent, and he quickly became a hit. He was prolific, and he knew about many things, and read widely, and wrote interesting articles. It did not hurt that he was so submissive to Lawzi. As Al-Hawadith continued to grow, and as Lawzi moved from dogmatic Nasserism to King Fahdism after the death of Nasser, Kishk moved along. He became a staunch defender of House of Saud and of Islamic fundamentalism. He moved to London. To underline his break with his communist past, he bought a Rolls Royce and hired a driver. He also made it a point that his uniformed driver rush to open the door for him at all time. Kishk is dead but I recommend his books. He was an interesting writer. That reminds me: Is Robert Fisk's driver, Abed, uniformed?
So the stupid report in Hariri rag Al-Mustaqbal to the effect that Bush receives reports on Lebanon--he who is known to detest reading--every ten minutes, makes you wonder. What kind of reports are those? Like: mini-Hariri just had lunch. Walid Jumblat has just opened a bottle of Vodka. Samir Ja`ja` (ga`ga` in Egyptian dialect) is remembering fondly his glory days as a notorious war criminal. Ahmad Fatfat is reviewing a report on the status of basketball games in Lebanon. Prime minister boo hoo hoo, well, just--boo hoo hooed, etc.
"As a young lawyer struggling to make a living in Las Vegas, Harry Reid never failed to buy Israel bonds to benefit the United Jewish Appeal. "I'd say, 'Harry, you can't afford to give that much,' " close friend Neil Galatz recalls. "He'd say, 'I can't afford not to.' "" (thanks Laleh)
"The motorcade of Iraq's prime minister was pelted with stones on Sunday by fellow Shi'ites in a Baghdad slum when he paid respects to some of the 200 who died there last week in the deadliest attack since the U.S. invasion."
I want to start a campaign to increase the salary of Robert Fisk's driver, Abed. Abed deserves a raise.
I bet you that Robert Fisk's driver, Abed, is a more reliable source on Lebanon than Robert Fisk.
"A l'annonce de la mort de Pierre GEMAYEL, Jean-Marie LE PEN s'est immédiatement rendu devant l'Ambassade du Liban pour présenter ses condoléances à la famille du défunt et au Président AMINE." (thanks to all of you who sent it to me)
I always wondered what terrorism experts study to become terrorism experts. Well, in this case, at least we know. It is math. You need math skills to pontificate about terrorism, as in: one terrorist plus one terrorist equals two terrorists. This guy once in the 1980s was on the Newshour on PBS. While on the air, there was a claim of responsibility for some act by a group that used the name `Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam. He was asked on the air whether he knew who Qassam is. Without a pause, he said: "Oh, yes. `Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam is a close aide to George Habash." Angry Arab was watching. He finished watching having learned about terrorism expertise what he knew not before.
Today, Robert Fisk's driver, Abed, had a delicious meal. I thought that you should know.
So this guy reviewed a new book on modern Arabic fiction for the book section of the NYT. Why was he selected to review the book? Is he an expert? He is not an expert, but he has reported on the war in Iraq for the New York Times. So he lives in that fortress that is owned by the New York Times in Baghdad and is protected by tens of armed bodyguards, and John Burns, who was more enthusiastic about the war than Judith Miller, is in charge of that operation. Here, the correspondent who does not know Arabic or Arabic literature generalizes about Arabs and makes things up as he goes along: "In societies where religion dominated all aspects of life, the notion of authors creating a separate fictional world was widely viewed with suspicion. Many Arab writers saw “A Thousand and One Nights” — revered as a masterpiece in the West — as a frivolous work unworthy of their emulation." As if Arabs needed the White Man to tell them about the One Thousand and One Nights. Where do they come up with that stuff? Also, he says this: "The author, Ghassan Kanafani, was himself a Palestinian advocate killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 1972." Car bomb? Would you care to say who planted the car bomb? Or do you think that car bombs just fall from the air in Lebanon? Even the Israeli media now coldly and casually mention Israeli responsibility. Hell, Israelis are proud when their forces kill Palestinian artists, writers, and poets, among others.
New TV just aired a report about abuse and torture of Syrian workers in Lebanon by Lebanese Internal Security Forces. It showed pictures of bruises on the bodies of abused Syrian workers. I thought that I would tell you about this since neither Human Rights Watch (which has been recently urging Palestinians to just sit back and let Israel kills Palestinians) nor Amnesty International will report on this.
"America has launched a week-long, high-stakes diplomatic offensive for control of the Middle East, rallying allies against Iranian influence sweeping through the region."
Notice. She refers to the Hizbullah camp as "Syrian-backed" (and it is Syrian backed) but does not refer to the March 14th as US-backed or France-backed or Saudi Arabia-backed. Even the New York Times writes: "Lebanon’s American-backed government..."
"Ferocity of Iraq attacks leaves US troops helpless"
"My driver, Abed, mourns for the French mandate of Lebanon under which he was born."
"He also notoriously ill-treated his staff and close friends and was a ferociously right-wing anti-communist during the Forties and Fifties."
This is just to show you the utter stupidity of Lebanonese media: how they still think that insignificant Lebanon is at the center of the universe. This is a verbatim translation from the Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal: "Diplomatic circles have revealed that the head of a super power asked that he be provided with reports on the situation in Lebanon every ten minutes." Bush does not get updated on American affairs every ten minutes, let alone on Lebanonese affairs.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

This is a Lebanese tradition--call it folklore: Lebanese factions and sectarian personalities ready for war as they rule out the possibility of civil war.
I never understood why Lebanon has a Ministry of Defense. When did Lebanon ever defend itself? When?
"An earlier WHO study puts the number of women physically abused by their partners or ex-partners at 30 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 22 per cent in the United States."
I don't like "friendships" between countries. Nor do I like "brotherhood/sisterhood" between countries--which reminds me: whatever happened to the treaty of "friendship, cooperation, and sisterhood" between Lebanon and Syria? But no friendship irks me more than the declared friendship by France toward Lebanon. Please, spare me. Merci.
I like the Saudi Arabia-based correspondents of Al-Arabiya TV (my least favorite "news" station). No, I really do. You see they don't even try to be "fair and balanced." I greatly enjoyed the report from the Riyadh correspondent today reporting on the visit to Saudi Arabia by Dick Cheney. He kept talking about how the visit was to discuss "the Palestinian cause." I can see the conversation between Cheney and `Abdullah (not to be confused with PlayStation 3 `Abdullah of Jordan) proceeding as follows: "Well, o great guardian of the two things, you know how much I care about the Palestinian cause...." Oh, and the correspondent--without even smirking--added that the two also discussed "Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs."
Can somebody find me the link in the French media in which Jean-Marie Le Pen, the well-known racist advocate, referred to the Gemayyels as his "friends"?
I noticed that no news accounts, not even in the Lebanese press--not even in Al-Akhbar--, mentioned that the Gemayyel family--and Amin Gemayyel personally--was behind many assassinations and assassintion attempts in the history of the Lebanese civil war. Certainly, Amin Gemayyel was (allegedly) behind the assination attempts on Walid Jumblat (who used to refer to Gemayyel as the Somoza of Lebanon) and on As-Safir's publisher, Talal Salman, among many others. Gemayyel's chief of Army Intelligence, Simon Qassis, was a specialist in assassinations and car bombs.
The Jumblat Doctrine. From p. 10 (Nov. 24th) of the Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Rumsfeld, says Mr. Jumblatt, recalled the incident: "He told me: 'You were firing at me'...I told him: 'I'm sorry. At that time I was a warlord. Now I'm a democrat.'...The former warlord says he now shares Washington's view that Iraq and the rest of the Middle East needed shaking up with a dose of democracy. "There was no way but for the Middle East to change," he says." (thanks Muhammad)
In the Egyptian dialect, Samir Ja`ja` is pronounced Samir ga`ga`.
Since Alberto Fernandez has been presumably banned from the Arabic airwaves by the US State Department for accusing the US of stupidity and arrogance, I notice that Adam Ereli (a fanatic Zionist who has a lousy command of the Arabic (and English) language) has been doing the rounds on Lebanese TV stations.
So with the curfew imposed on Baghdad, are we to conclude that the Iraqis have been "liberated" but they can't leave their houses? So they are "liberated" but inside their homes? OK.
So Hizbullah is not pleased with the monopoly of power that is being exercised by Hariri Inc in Lebanon. Hizbullah forgot that it helped put Hariri Inc in power in the last parliamentary election.
Right-wing Lebanese "journalist", Sij`an Qazzi (who ran the Voice of Free Lebanon during the Bashir Gemayyel era) was on LBC-TV last night. He said: "Who said that we, the Christians, are not armed?" Well, I never said that any sect in Lebanon is not armed. Not me.
Ghassan bin Jiddu (Beirut bureau chief for Aljazeera), who is related to the the Gemayyel family, has been paying non-stop tributes to the Gemayyel family in his coverage of Lebanon in the last week.
"At a conference on the subject in the Egyptian capital Cairo, the scholars said governments should enforce existing laws against the practice. Earlier, the top religious authorities in Egypt said religion offered no justification for the procedure. Female genital mutilation is widespread in parts of Africa and the Middle East. It is relatively unknown in most other parts of the Muslim world, including South and South-east Asia, North Africa and Saudi Arabia."
It is somewhere between hilarious and absurd when this man talks about Lebanon. And who takes him seriously except mini-Hariri and Lebanese Forces?
Maureen Dowd explains the Arab world to Americans: "...failure to comprehend that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity."


The #1 Mediterranean Gourmet Foods Brand in the Middle East and Africa is now available in SPACE!

(Lake Forest, CA) – Hungry Sultan, Inc., a division of California Garden Products, headquartered in Lake Forest, CA, will send its all-natural hummus to the International Space Station on the next Discovery shuttle launch currently scheduled for December 7, 2006." (Salim sent me a copy of the press release. I will provide link when I obtain one).

Friday, November 24, 2006

"But if you ask anyone on the street in Beirut". Dickey forgot to add: "...anyone who speaks English--since I can't speak Arabic, and who lives on my street in Jummayzah, the Green Zone of the press corps in Beirut." (Dickey is one of those Western correspondents in Beirut who reproduces the talking points of the Hariri family.)
"Do you think the world would be much different if R.F.K. had lived?
I do. We would have been out of Vietnam a lot sooner. There would've been a better chance for peace in the Middle East, since that was on his agenda." Oh, yeah, Mr. movie director. Indeed. Bobby Kennedy was planning on sending more fighter jets for Israel. That would have guaranteed peace for the Middle East. For sure.
David Ignatius has yet another column with complex and sophisticated ideas: "Why can't they all get along."

From Gaza: what you don't see in US media. Without a hint of exaggeration, I dare say this: an Israeli with a toothache gets more US media coverage than a murdered Palestinian.
Lebanese police is taking matters in its hands. Al-Akhbar newspaper reported that members of the Hariri militia (known as Internal Security Forces) spotted a highly suspicious man on a motorcycle. He was quickly chased and arrested. But alas it turned out he was one of their members. In other news, Lebanese prime minister continues to affect a British accent in English language interviews. Today he pronounced actually as: actuallaaaaaaaaaaaay."
Was it not Frank Zappa who observed that the Discovery Channel (or was it the History Channel) is a mere front for the secret agencies of the US government?
An-Nahar (the right-wing, sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian) newspaper has translated this article from Haaretz but it did not translate the title lest its readers get upset.
I am not making this up. Police is providing escorts to shoppers at WalMart in Ceres, CA who leave the store with PlayStation 3. There have been reports that the King of Jordan has attacked shoppers and stolen their PlayStation 3.
This is a new low for Human Rights Watch. HRW urges Palestinians to not interfere (not even peacefully) with Israeli occupation troops when they are engaged in killing Palestinians. "Just let them kill Palestinians and destroy their houses," urges HRW. (thanks Amer)
"The Syrian State Security Court (SSSC) sentenced on November 19 the activist Nizar Restanawi to four years imprisonment, Syria Today has learned. The 48 year old engineer was arrested by Syrian authorities in April 2005, and accused of "publishing fake news and insulting the Syrian President.""

" Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others, forcefully criticized the book. "It is wrong," she declared, "to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously."
"An excerpt from yesterday's speech by that inarticulate imbecile, Saad a-Hariri"
(The Arabic word "wahm" should be translated as "illusion" not "fantasy".)
Karim Pakraduni said again on NBN-TV that Pierre Gemayyel hated to read and to write. And he added that Pierre was a close friend of mini-Hariri. Well, at least they have one thing in common. He added that mini-Hariri found Gemayyel to be very funny--maybe he thought it was funny that Gemayyel thought that Muslims are inferior to Christians. Pakraduni also reminisced about the friendship between Rafiq Hariri and Ilyas Hubayqah (the master mind, on behalf of Israel, of the Sabra and Shatila massacres). Do you now understand the Hariri family better?
to·ken: a member of a group (as a minority) that is included within a larger group through tokenism; especially : a token employee. This is my favorite part of the interview: "But Khaldi, while conceding that the situation of Arabs in Israel "is not perfect.."
When the French foreign minister and the French ambassador in Lebanon were seen entering the church were the funeral of Pierre Gemayyel was held yesterday, the March 14th crowd outside started chanting: "Vive la France." See how charming they are? See how much they love the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon?
If you want to meet the King of Jordan: he is camping outside Best Buy waiting to get his hands on PlayStation 3.
Excessive "Liberation". "The Air Force has conducted more than 2,000 airstrikes in Afghanistan over the past six months, a sharp increase in bombing that reflects the growing demand for American air cover since NATO has assumed a larger ground combat role, Air Force officials said." I like how NYT inserted the word "demand." Oh, yeah. There is a huge demand in the Arab world among the people for US bombs over their heads. "Thanks America"--is that not what Kanan Makiya wrote after the invasion of his country? Also, is it odd that you still bomb a country from the air 4 years after "liberating" it? Is that not excessive "liberation"?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

This guy didn't like our panel on Lebanon at MESA.
I have to admit: Slate is also "fair and balanced."
So much for the Bush Doctrine: "When elections lifted reformers to power in Lebanon early last year, Bush administration officials hailed it as a showcase example of the "Arab spring" they saw sweeping through the region. Now, with the Lebanese government teetering on collapse, U.S. officials are braced for another — and some say final — blow to the administration's campaign for its vision of reform in the Middle East." (thanks Kamal)
"On Wednesday, the Security Council moved with uncommon speed and expanded the investigation to include Mr. Gemayel’s death."
The Syrian regime deserves the mess that it finds itself in: not only because it is a tyrannical regime that has harmed the Palestinian cause and smashed the revolutionary movement in Lebanon back in 1976, but it also installed Hariri Inc in Lebanon.
This passes as eloquence in the Daily Star: "Amin Gemayel has lost a son, but Lebanon has gained a father." And I gained a potato.
I only placed this link to irritate Lebaonese readers. Enjoy.
The largest and most outlandish estimate of the crowd in Lebanon was given by this Israeli reporter who claimed that the funeral was the biggest ever in history. I mean, I understand that the enthusiasm of Zionists for Gemayyel militia but come on. It was not bigger than 100,000 from what I understand, and even Hariri propaganda is claiming one million. And the funerals of Nasser and Khumayni were much bigger of course. And notice that the western media bias is always revealed in the coverage of mass demonstrations in Lebanon: not only in terms of the quality of the coverage, but also in the keen interest in providing estimates of the crowd. In the "victory rally" by Hizbullah weeks ago, Western media typically avoid giving estimates of crowd. They diligently do that for March 14th demonstrations. And Blanford among others find the the demonstrators more telegenic.
"But nothing became Gemayel like his courage yesterday as he told the vast mass of Lebanese in front of him that, yes, there would be a second revolution in this country which would end only when the pro-Syrian President had been removed. The knightly St George gave his name to the great Italianate basilica - yes, he is supposed to have slain the dragon in Beirut - but Amin Gemayel's bravery was one of the few moments of humanity on this brightly sunny, politically overcast, disturbing day." How brave is it to attack Lahhud in Lebanon? Half the country is doing, Mr. Fisk. Fisk is really ready to retire now. He described Walid Jumblat as "eloquent." And Nasib Lahhud is related to Emile Lahhud. And notice that he does not say one bad word about Jumblat, although he "bravely" mentions the murderous background of Samir Ja`ja`. Notice that not a single negative word is said about mini-Hariri. I am willing to buy a new watch as a retirement gift for Robert Fisk. And notice that unlike some other articles in Western newspaper, like Shadid in the Washington Post, Fisk does not even mention the presence of another side in Lebanon. He does not know. How could he? He is either having lunch in Quratim or dinner in Mukhtarah. And please don't compare Majda Rumi to Fayruz: nobody does. I know that the statement makes you sound native, but it is untrue.
"Her oldest daughter, Fatheya, said she decided to become a bomber because her grandson had been killed. "They [the Israelis] destroyed her house, they killed her grandson - my son," she told the Associated Press."
Why did `Amr Musa fly to Beirut? He let Iraq get devastated, and watched from a distance as Palestine suffers in silence. But the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel really moved him, I guess.
The Hijazi King of Jordan today called on the Bush administration to help push for peace in the Middle East. He urged the US government to locate PlayStation 3 for him. Today, he took 3 minutes away from his PlayStation 2 to drink a beverage.
During the demonstration today in Beirut, there were many signs with new logos of a the "second intifada" (I shudder to see the glorious Palestinian intifada name being tainted by the sectarian and financial war criminals of Lebanonesia). These were designed by Saatchi and Saatchi, and have been prepared in advance of (and in opposition to) the expected demonstrations by Hizbullah against the boo hoo hoo government ("democratically-elected" as Robert Fisk enthusiastically puts it--Fisk needs to know that the government in Lebanon is not "elected". It is nominated by the deputies, and officially designated by the president, and thus formed.). They were rolled out earlier, and they sounded as bland and silly as the slogans of the first round of Hummus revolution. Most are signed I love life, or Lebanon is the homeland of life. I should design new posters for the crowd. It will read: Get a life.
There is a strong elitist tendency in this article by Dima Wannus.
If you had doubts about the political role of Detliv Mehlis, this should put it to rest. So the man is back. He gave an interview on Al-Hurra TV (still watched by 3 people around the world), and he went on to elaborately discuss Lebanese political developments, and offered his strong support for the--you guessed it--Sanyurah government.
Nazik Hariri solves the Gemayyel crime. Here, she offers her theory of the assassination; she thinks that Gemayyel was targeted because he had "an innocent smile."
When Walid Jumblat addresses a crowd he sounds like Michael Richards addressing hecklers.
From today's demonstration in Beirut: Lebanonese demonstrators typically force their domestic servants to demonstrate. (thanks Nir who took the picture)
"a new survey published in the US Wednesday says that Israel is suffering from the worst public image among all countries of the world.

The study, called the National Brands Index, conducted by government advisor Simon Anholt and powered by global market intelligence solutions provider GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.), shows that Israel is at the bottom of the list by a considerable margin in the public’s perception of its image."

Husam `Itani evaluates the March 14th rally.
"He did not object to satire, he said, but the spoofs “offended men of the church.”"
"NYT: A man who was caught taking a dirt bypass around this closed road near Jenin waited for Israeli soldiers’ permission to proceed. The wall protects the Shavei Shomron settlement."
"Palestinians wait to have their ID checked at an Israeli-monitored crossing on Road 60 at Hawara, one of many such checkpoints along the road."
Saudi media is not reporting this: that the crowd today in Beirut was much smaller than expected. I was not surprised: the Phalanges Party is a washed up party. It is a memory of the glory of Lebanese fascism.
The man to the right is Lebanese Minister of Tea, hospitality, and Ping Pong.
Who Killed Pierre Gemayyel (not that the matter is keeping me awake)? There are several questions about the assassinations of Pierre Gemayyel. If you review the list of the victims of the assassinations and assassination attempts over the last two years, you clearly come up with a list of people who--no matter what you thought or think of them--were most effective in actions and propaganda against the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon. Until the assassination attempt on Ilyas Murr, and now this one, all were clearly people who did a service to the anti-Syrian cause in Lebanon. Gemayyel was not a prominent figure; far from it. And the timing--if Syria or its were allies were behind it--was most beneficial for March 14th movement, and most inopportune for the opposition. The only thing that was significant about Gemayyel's background was his famous speech at a rally last year in which he talked about "quality versus quantity." That really angered many Muslims and others and that was similar to a speech that Jubran Tuwayni made in which he compared Shi`ites to sheep. But if these assassinations were perpetrated by people who wanted to exact revenge for perceived insulted and offenses, the execution of this assassination reveals a high degree of professionalism and effectiveness. So the question remains whether this was one of the same series of assassinations or a different one. The other thing that raised questions in my head was the text of the statement by a group that claimed responsibility for the assassination. The statement was drafted in the most awkward phraseology: it was written by somebody who was making an effort to sound--he/she was not sure--either an Islamic fundamentalist or an Arab nationalist or even a Syrian nationalist. The statement did not get much attention, but I read it more than once and it sounded more odd with each new reading. And then my friend Amer added another twist: he wondered whether the assassination had anything to do with Iraqi developments. Only two or three weeks ago, Amin Gemayyel was criticized for paying a surprise visit to Kurdistan where he met with Mas`ud Barazani. AANS reported that at the time.
It was revealed today that mini-Hariri and Pierre Gemayyel were really close friends. Amin Gemayyel disclosed that they used to spend time in long phone conversations. No information on the contents of the conversations, although it is widely known that both share a passion for Greek philosophy and calculus. We are not sure what happened to the friendship--or followership to put it more accurately, between mini-Hariri and `Azzuz--the favored son of King Fahd. In fact, when `Azzuz was an avid watcher of Baywatch, and he developed an obsession with Yasmeen Bleeth, it is said that mini-Hariri was the one who arranged for `Azzuz to meet Bleeth in LA, where he presented her with a $2 million gift. See how refined Arab dynasties are?
AlArabiya's Beirut correspondent, Rima Maktabi, is the daughter of a mil-level official of the Phalanges Party, Tawfiq Maktabi, who died during the civil war.
This is a revealing video of Bashir Gemayyel. It is one of his last speeches. It was taped but not intended for public release. The full text contains a lot of blatant sectarian agitation. This clip also contains some comical moments: here, he talks about why the "Lebanese civilization" is better than all civilizations, and why the Lebanese are "more gifted" and "smarter" than everybody else. He also denies that Lebanese are Arabs: "we don't have camels," he said. (thanks Nicolas)
On LBC-TV, Karim Pakraduni said this of Pierre Gemayyel: "He didn't like to read, or write. He just liked to talk." Well, it showed.
It is hilarious. Lebanonese think that occasional international attention to Lebanon and its affairs is a sign of some greatness of Lebanon and its people. It is in fact the reverse. Foreign intervention and attention to Lebanon is based on the premise that the Lebanese are naive and gullible and can be easily fooled and deceived. But please send whatever you can to Fu'ad Sanyurah. New York Times is really worried about him. I looked into my closet: I found an old t-shirt, which I will send to him. It has a picture of Karl Marx on it.
BBC Arabic on Lebanese blogging and the Gemayyel's assassination.
Send fruits and vegetables for Fu'ad Sanyurah. This is a bizarre editorial in the New York Times. I mean, the paper wants so bad to express support for Fu'ad Sanyurah, but did not know how to express it. Look at this: "The United States and the international community must now rally to support Prime Minister Fouad Siniora — with cash, security advisers, and anything that might help him and his government survive." What else should we wend him? Does he like snacks? How about new shoes? And then the paper offers a threat to Hizbullah: "Hezbollah must be told that it will be shunned if it tries to grab power through further violence or intimidation." Shunned? Hizbullah is not shunned already by the US? What does that mean, and why would the threat of shunning really influence Hizbullah? And then the writer seems to be thinking aloud: "We would urge Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to go immediately to Beirut, except we’re not sure she would be welcome after President Bush’s failure last summer to restrain Israel’s disastrous air war." So do you want her to be sent or not, o writer of the New York Times?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nicholas Blanford here turns Misbah Al-Ahdab into a hero. Left unmentioned is that Ahdab is now even discredited among March 14th Movement after the fiasco (search the site below) in which he allegedly ordered his own bodyguard to shoot at his house in Tripoli to attract attention and sympathy. The bodyguard was later found dead in his cell. Blanford does not know any of this. He is busy writing quasi press releases for Hariri Inc. And notice what impresses Mr. Blanford: "Still, Ahdab, a multi-lingual businessman from a prominent Tripoli family." That says it all. After all; he once praised the looks of March 14th demonstrators. (thanks Manar)
""Homegrown bananas!" one vendor shouted."
"The number of civilians killed in Iraq reached a record monthly high of 3,709 in October, mostly a result of sectarian violence, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday." (Will the UN Security Council investigate their murder? Will the Pope, who was praying--whatever that means--for Pierre Gemayyel today--be praying for them too?)
Robert Fisk is now reduced to writing propaganda lines on Lebanon: "Israelis abused Siniora's democratic government..." This man is now unreadable on Lebanon. And notice his last why-can't-they-all-get-along line at the end. How insightful and original.
"Palestinian sources have claimed that Saudi Arabia has severed relations with Hamas in recent weeks, and the Saudi government is consequently refusing to meet with senior Hamas officials."
"UN okays Lebanon request to add Gemayel slaying to probe" (I request to add Bayt Hanun to probe)
"The assassination of Pierre Gemayel could not therefore have come at a more opportune moment for the March 14 alliance. Just two days before the planned start of mass public protests, the assassination halted the opposition's momentum."
Can somebody kindly make Saddam stop writing poems in his jail cell? Thanks.
What Western AND Arab media have not reported: like with every assassination in Lebanon, Syrian workers in Lebanon were subjected to physical and verbal abuse. Lebanese media are not permitted to report on that. One newspaper printed a picture of Lebanese Forces' thugs trying to stop a car full of Syrians.
Harakat Al-Yasar Ad-Dimuqrati promised to contribute three demonstrators to the demonstration today. They tried to send four, but they were not able to find a fourth supporter.
A Hizbullah official calls Walid Jumblat a "spotted snake."
Another sign of the genius of mini-Hariri. Jan `Aziz reveals that Sa`d Hariri wanted Pierre Gemayyel to be president of Lebanon.
The Hijazi King of Jordan: a rare moment away from his Playstation.
Tony Blair: distraught over the death of Pierre Gemayyel.
I was reading the statement by Harakat Al-Yasar Ad-Dimuqrati (a mere tool of Hariri Inc). What is Left about this movement, tell me? I know it is rather comical for a movement that has some 12 members (if that) to speak on behalf of its "masses." It also called right-wing Pierre Gemayyel "a promising man." In a statement, I call this movement "non-promising."
Walid Jumblat, brags that he can surf the internet. Today, he said that the elaph site is Syrian. It is in fact Saudi and is known for being the most anti-Syrian site there is. But Jumblat subscribes to the New York Review of Books. Is that not something?
CSI: Beirut.
The American government (with great fanfare (the last word is etymologically originally Arabic) in the Hariri media) has announced a substantial increase in US military aid to Lebanon. Who knows: maybe the US government will also get to train Lebanese military officers and police too. And we know how helpful that has been for the stability and peace in Iraq. Brace yourselves. Bush is now making simultaneous progress in Iraq AND Lebanon.
Amin Gemayyel was talking to Mayy Shidyaq on LBC-TV. He said that when his son Pierre was made Minister of Industry, he did not "know anything about the ministry." How nice.
The Lebanese government assigns special agents from the Security of the State apparatus--there is such an apparatus, I kid you not--to protect high government officials. As soon as the attackers showed up, the highly trained special agent...fled the scene. He later claimed that his revolver did not work.
I am not making this up. The prime minister of Lebanon yesterday said that he is "a statesman." I am not making this up.
Aghrab. This got my attention. The March 14th Movement yesterday issued a statement about the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel. It accused "al-aghrab"--foreigners of the assassination. This word was the standard word used in racist phalangist propaganda during the war to refer to "inferior" non-Lebanese Arabs, namely Palestinians and then Syrians. The word (and the ideology) is now internalized by the entire March 14th Movement. Pierre Gemayyel was himself born in Egypt.
Gemayyel family squabbles. There is no question that the Gemayyel family has played a very important role in the contemporary history of Lebanon--a lousy role, but a role nevertheless. I even acknowledged yesterday that the family has made the greatest contribution to the formation of Lebanese fascist ideology and practice. The great grandfather, Amin Gemayyel (the grandfather of Amin Gemayyel, the former president) was a peaceful man though (although most people don't know who he is and he was not known and wrote Arabic well) who founded an early conservation club in Lebanon. And then...Pierre Gemayyel went to Berlin. This highly uneducated and ill-mannered man was inspired by his own account by the Nazi movement. He felt that Lebanon needed something similar. He returned to Lebanon and founded the Phalanges Party, as a sectarian Maronite party, with the motto "God, Homeland, and Family (the Gemayyel family?)". Pierre was a pharmacist who lacked language skills and spoke Arabic like a foreigner. He was always mocked for his use of Arabic although the Phalanges Party had commanding orators (Ilyas Rababi (the key contact person with Israel since at least the 1950s), Joseph Al-Hashim, Edumund Rizq, George Sa`adah, etc). Gemayyel strongly supported the French colonization of Lebanon, although he turned against the French in the last week of the Mandate in order to save a place for himself in the future "independent" Lebanon. I met Pierre Gemayyel at my father's office as a child and shook his hand--I was too young to know better. My father knew Pierre well, and became friends with Amin when my father met him in 1970 when Amin won a seat (in a by-election) that was vacated by the death of his uncle, Maurice Gemayyel. When the war broke out in 1975, Amin hand wrote three lessez-passez forms for me and my brothers to let us move freely in East Beirut, at a time when people were being killed on the basis of their identity cards--Phalanges militia men killed Muslims at random. I never used that permit as I did not visit East Beirut--except once under circumstances that I will not discuss here. And in 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon and after our neighborhood was bombed by indiscriminate Israeli bombing, Amin invited my father and the family to stay at the (luxurious) Bustan Hotel East of Beirut in areas under Phalanges and Israeli control. My sister and I declined, and we relocated to the village of Qulaylah south east of Tyre, while the rest of the family settled in Al-Bustan. My sister went once and visited the family in East Beirut. I could not get myself to step foot in those areas. And when I was writing my dissertation, and Amin was president, my father arranged for me to interview him for research purposes. My father insisted on coming along just in case I get out of hand, I felt. I still have a picture somewhere that the presidential photographer took with me, my father, and Amin--but I misplaced it. I remember that I had the look of somebody sitting in a dentist's chair. When I expressed my views about Gemayyel's administration, he was most restrained because the presence of my father made it into a "family" visit of sorts. That was not how I viewed it. At some point, my father would look at me with polite requests to "cool it." Gemayyel at one point said that I was "influenced by Western propaganda against his government." He specifically mentioned the US press knowing that I was studying in the US. I most remember how he spoke about Walid Jumblat during that meeting. He specifically told me that Walid Jumblat does "not amount to dust on my shoes." He used that expression which is familiar to those who speak Arabic. The relation between Amin and Bashir was most strained during the war years. There were tremendous competition and rivalry between the two. Read the account of the Phalanges killer, Joseph Sa`adah, to realize the extent to which the two brothers had rival camps. I remember that once my father called Pierre (the father of Amin and Bashir) to ask him for some thing from Bashir (Bashir's people had kidnapped some people from South Lebanon at the time, and their relatives asked my father for help) (my father later met Bashir when he became a candidate for the presidency). I remember Pierre told my father that "Bashir does not listen to me." Now the new generation of Gemayyels also face a new level of rivalries. Pierre has one surviving brother, Sami. Sami was not pleased with the prominence of Pierre, and he was clearly emulating the path of his uncle, Bashir. He played the out-of-control role. He wanted to sound as the militant and uncompromising one. In a recent account in a column by the well-informed Jan `Aziz in Al-Akhbar, Sami was seen slamming the door at his father's house, and storming out with his back pack. It was at the time when Sami resigned from the Phalanges party and started his own group, Our Lebanon (Lubnanuna). How comical it sounded. It was a reminder of the famous comment by Marx who was quoting Hegel about history repeating itself first as a tragedy and then as farce (Marx quotes Hegel (although nobody has ever been able to find the quotation in any of Hegel's writings--and I even looked one time and the closest you will find is this in his Philosophy of History: "A coup d'état is sanctioned as it were in the opinion of the people if it is repeated. Thus, Napoleon was defeated twice and twice the Bourbons were driven out. Through repetition, what at the beginning seemed to be merely accidental and possible, becomes real and established.") in his book the 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."). Sami officially launched his Our Lebanon movement a few weeks ago, and declared himself independent of the March 14th Movement. He also made it clear that he (and all 30 of his followers) supports federalism for Lebanon. But the Sami and Pierre rivalry is not all among the new generation of Gemayyels. Solange Gemayyel (widow of Bashir) has not been happy watching Amin's sons totally marginalizing her own son, Nadim, who has not been able to chart a political space for himself. He has been taking some young people for training in the mountain, but has not been able to attract a following. He also does not handle the media well. Finally, some questions. The area where the assassination took place is very close to the Judaydah headquarters of the Phalanges Party where members have been receiving training every weekend for the last year. Also, why did Pierre keep an AK-47 and an M-16 in his trunk? Thirdly, Samir Ja`ja` spoke of assassinations last week. What was he referring to? Just asking. But the involvement of the Syrian regime can't be ruled out although I am busy finding "the truh" behind those who supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and those who covered up the massacre of Bayt Hanun.
The family: Pierre Gemayyel (in militia uniform and sunglasses) walking with his grandmother in 1986.
Nicholas Blanford has a new book on Lebanon. Basically, it compiles the accounts of Hariri family members. But mostly, it is an English language version of the accounts contained in the interviews with `Abdul-Halim Khaddam. And that title!
Bush called Amin Gemayyel twice today to offer his condolences. I wonder. Does Bush call the families of Iraqi victims of his brutal occupation to offer condolences?
Mini-Hariri has rejected all offers to vulgarly exploit the assassination of his father for cheap political ends. Above is a good example from yesterday.
Did you see the interview with mini-Hariri on AlArabiyya? It was a long series of "ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" sprinkled with a few words about Lebanonesia here and there.
Don't get me wrong. I am most distressed over the murder. I really would like that the killers be brought to justice. The massacre of Bayt Hanun should not go unpunished. Wait. What did you think I was talking about?
"Reform" in Saudi Arabia: "A presenter from King Saud University at an international medical seminar at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center caused a stir yesterday when he insisted that all women — including medical and media professionals — leave the room before he would enter the room to give his presentation. Initially some women expressed consternation at the request, but later relented and left the room so the doctor and orthodox man could give his presentation about Islam and the ethics of organ donation and end-of-life issues." (thanks Victoria)
CNN discovers that Walid Jumblat is Christian (thanks Marc)
All those obituaries of Milton Friedman. Did they forget to note the "sound advise" that he had given to the Pionchet's regime?
The Guardian (but not the NYT or the WP) mentions that the Phalanges are a fascist party.
"Lebanon Cancels Celebrations on Independence Day" (I did not even notice that Lebanon is independent).
Anthony Shadid is wrong here: Pierre Gemayyel did not make his notorious statement to the effect that "we have quality, and they have quantity"--in reference to Muslims in a TV interview. He made that remark in a rally speech in East Beirut.
Robert Fisk has a new cause: to support unconditionally the Sanyurah government. Do you notice that he uses the same language of the Bush administration when he talks about Lebanon? And Fisk says this about Gemayyel: "a hard-working unmarried Christian Maronite minister". In fact, his father kept pushing him to be less lazy, and he was married with two kids.
A Maronite summit. A meeting of top Maronite right-wing leaders took place in Bikfayya today: it comprised Amin Gemayyel, Samir Ja`ja`, and the US ambassador in Lebanon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who writes his speeches? Mini-Hariri just released a statement in which he called the funeral of Pierre Gemayyel a "wedding".
The UN Security Council today condemned the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel and considered it a "violation of Lebanon's sovereignty" (!?). The same Security Council did not condemn the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and did not consider it a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty.
I received many emails about Aljazeera's Ittijah Mu`akis today featuring Canadian-based activist, Khodr Awarki, and Hariri propagandist, George Bkasini. Everybody agreed that Awarki was most effective against Hariri propaganda. He produced non-stop salvos against prime minister boo hoo hoo and mini-Hariri. I had criticized Awarki in the past for praising Kuwait. He did not do that today.
CNN is treating the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel as if it is akin to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
If you want a very accurate, English language version of Hariri family propaganda, please tune in to Brent Sadler of CNN. In fact, my sources tell me that Sadler travel in Hariri private jets (since Rafiq's days).
"The number of cosmetic procedures performed on Americans has risen roughly 500 percent over the past decade, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and last year 11 million procedures were done."
"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livini, who is also currently in Los Angeles, met with actor John Voigt, Angelina Jolie's father. Voigt told Livni that Israel is very dear to him and that he is willing to assist in any way he can. During the tour of the Fox studios, the Foreign Minister also met with senior representatives from the American film industry, including Steven Spielberg." (thanks Maryam)
"Colorado attorney general in Saudi Arabia to discuss slavery case" (thanks Muhammad)
A Lebanese leftist friend of mine gets mad at those assassinations in Lebanon. He thinks that they help turn very unsavory characters into "martyrs."
A Syrian official is visiting Iraq. He said that Syria is not trying to please anyone--anyone except the Bush administration he forgot to add.
The Egyptian Minister of "Culture", Faruq Husni (whose "art" work is similar to greesy stains on a pizza box) is facing strong criticisms for his statement on the veil. He would have been credible in speaking (on anything) had he once spoken about the tyranny of his regime.
Ghassan Bin Jiddu (Beirut bureau chief) is going too far in his analysis of Pierre Gemayyel. He described him as "symbol of the youth" among Lebanese Christians. Not true. Jubran Twuayni was (until his alliance with Sa`d Hariri0--and Hariri family is despised by Lebanese Christians) but not Pierre. He really had no standing as much as his daddy wanted to make him a leader. I have to stop writing and get ready to fly back to CA now.
"Six Muslim imams were removed from a US Airways flight at Minneapolis- St. Paul International Airport on Monday and questioned by police for several hours before being released, a leader of the group said."
The US government stated that the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel is a "terrorist act." US officials added the Israeli massacre of Bayt Hanun was a "charitable act."
This is not Anthony Shadid's best work, for sure. He does not mention what the ideology of the Phalanges Party was about, he does not mention how Bashir Gemayyel was installed as president by Israeli occupation troops, and he was quite inaccurate when he stated that Pierre Gemayyel "swept into power." He certainly did not. He was losing his seat until the last-minute intervention minute by `Awn to give one seat in the district to a non-`Awn candidate. And the shooting outside of the church in `Ayn Ar-Rummanah in 1975 was NOT an assassination attempt on Pierre Gemayyel.
"40 percent of settlements were built on Palestinian land" (90 % of Israel is built on Palestinian land)
If you really like eggplants on your pizza, I strongly recommend this place in Boston.
I heard `Awn official `Isam Abu Jamra say that assassination with a revolver is the ugliest form of assassination. Was he suggesting that a car bomb is less ugly?
By the way, in the last parliamentary election of 2004, Pierre Gemayyel was going to lose his seat. The `Awn list was winning in the Northern Matn district with a landslide. But at the last minute, a deal was struck between Amin Gemayyel and Miche Al-Murri (who had aligned himself with `Awn) to allow one non-`Awn candidate (Pierre Gemayyel) to win one seat.
It is only fair that I say a word about the Lebanese Gemayyel family. No one family in Lebanon has made more contributions to the formulation of a Lebanese version of fascism than this family. Really. In this respect, one has to note that Pierre Gemayyel (the grandfather), and his son Bashir has made great efforts (with the help of Israel) to create a fascist movement for Lebanon modeled after the Nazi party. (As you may recall--search the archives below--Pierre Gemayyel (the grandfather of the assassinated minister--created the Phalanges Party after being impressed with the Nazi party when he observed it during the Olympic games of 1936.) The grandson, Pierre, had no influence in Lebanese politics, and his party, the Phalanges, has become marginal and insignificant. In fact, he was brought into the cabinet by the Harriri dynasty because they were trying to avoid appointing ministers who have bigger standing among Lebanese Christians (like the `Awn movement).
I am amazed how much attention CNN is giving to the news of Gemayyel's assassination. CNN should just turn its Middle East news organization to the Hariri family. The CNN Beirut correspondent is a Hariri functionary in all but in name.
I am still in Boston; I have no time to write elaborately on the assassination of Pierre Gemayyel. But it is rather odd. Pierre Gemayyel is now part of a tiny political movement, and has no influence in Lebanon. Of course, he engendered a lot of resentment among Muslims two years ago when he made a speech in which he talked about "quality versus quantity" which was interpreted by Muslim Lebanese as an indication of his belief in the genetic superiority of Christian Lebanese. Of course, this belief has been a cornerstone of the ideology of the Phalanges Party which was founded by his fascistic grandfather, Pierre, and is now headed by his corrupt father, Amin. Now the method of this assassination is different from the previous assassinations in Lebanon. One wonders whether the assassins are the same, or whether this is somebody who was taking matters in his/her own hands to punish Pierre Gemayyel for his his notorious speech. Of course, the Bush Doctrine and the sudden discovery of Lebanon by the US administration, the Israeli humiliation in Lebanon and the consistent Israeli sabotage in Lebanon, and the desire by Syria to restructure Lebanese politics to reward friends and to punish enemies, all that make the slide of Lebanon into instability more certain. But Lebanon may remain in a state of on-the-verge-of-civil-war for months and years to come without actually getting into civil war. I expect clashes and assassinations, but not an all-out civil war as such.
Why does the death of Pierre Gemayyel generate more attention--and certainly more sympathy--than the death of hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese who have been killed by Israeli occupation troops?
"The top UN human rights official said yesterday Palestinians living in the Gaza strip had suffered "massive" human rights violations." (As if the Palestinians who live outside of the Gaza strip have not suffered "massive" human rights violations.)