Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fatfat Update. Minister of Ping Pong and Youth, Ahmad Fatfat, met with the ambassador of Belgium today.
Do you notice that US puppets really look like...puppets when they meet with their master? (thanks Sara) (Make sure to click on the picture to enlarge NOW. And notice the shopping bag on the floor next to Hadley's desk (to the right of him); the Lebanonese delegation, it seems, brought gifts to Mr. Hadley. Is that not nice?) Really. Furthermore, I bet you that Mr. Bush entered the room, sat down for the picture, shook their hands, and left. And that was transformed in Jumblat's imagination into a 30 minutes meeting--a record of which does not exist in the White House homepage; and Jumblat's supporters in Lebanon extended the meeting into an hour--also in their imagination.) Lebanonese leaders--of all sects, and stripes--would sell their mothers and fathers to have their pictures taken with a White Man leader. And look at Hariri guy, Ghattas Khuri (who used to write reports to Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon, Rustum Ghazalah, when he used to visit the US when Rafiq Hariri was implementing orders from Ghazalah): why does he look so eager and ready to jump? He looks as if he is about to jump: to fix a tie, or probably shine a shoe.
"Whites in the ancient world rarely equated blackness with subordination, Dr. Snowden argued, because the black people they encountered were rarely slaves. (Most slaves in the Roman Empire, for instance, were white.) Instead, they met blacks who were warriors, statesmen and mercenaries."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The real motives of SEYMOUR M. HERSH. So Hariri propagandist (or one of many in Lebanon), Muhammad Salam, was on LBC-TV. He was asked about the recent article by Hersh in the New Yorker. He stated that Seymour (or Sighmoore, as he pronounced his name) is part of a large conspiracy web: According to Salam--I kid you not--Hersh is part of a conspiracy that begins with the Democratic Party (who are frustrated because ALL Congressional resolutions on foreign policy are non-binding--according to Salam again), and it involves Qatar, Hizbullah, Syria, and the opposition in Lebanon. This guy is considered a journalist in Lebanon, and Joseph Samahah is dead. The world is becoming almost uninhabitable.
For those who care: my radio interview on Saudi Arabia.
"The wife of the owner of a popular television station in Nablus's old city vowed yesterday that it would return to the airwaves despite the arrest of her husband and the seizure of vital broadcasting equipment by Israeli soldiers. Sanabel TV went off the air after troops took away computers, digital cards, cassettes, DVD, video and other equipment early on Monday during a three-day operation to hunt down militants and explosives caches in the West Bank city."
Fouad Ajami stumbles on an insight: "There is bigotry in Arab lands". As for non-Arab lands, all are free of bigotry. Good night.
"Innocent people across the world are now paying the price of the "Iraq effect", with the loss of hundreds of lives directly linked to the invasion and occupation by American and British forces. An authoritative US study of terrorist attacks after the invasion in 2003 contradicts the repeated denials of George Bush and Tony Blair that the war is not to blame for an upsurge in fundamentalist violence worldwide. The research is said to be the first to attempt to measure the "Iraq effect" on global terrorism. It found that the number killed in jihadist attacks around the world has risen dramatically since the Iraq war began in March 2003. The study compared the period between 11 September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq with the period since the invasion. The count - excluding the Arab-Israel conflict - shows the number of deaths due to terrorism rose from 729 to 5,420. As well as strikes in Europe, attacks have also increased in Chechnya and Kashmir since the invasion. The research was carried out by the Centre on Law and Security at the NYU Foundation for Mother Jones magazine."
"A group of Irish Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday called into question Ireland's commercial ties with Israel, saying Israel has made the Gaza Strip "little more than a large prison" for Palestinians. "Where there is evidence of systematic abuse of human rights on a large scale, as in the Occupied Territories, there are questions that must be asked concerning the appropriateness of maintaining close business, cultural and commercial links with Israel," said auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Raymond Field.""
I dedicate this news item to the March 14th Movement in Lebanon: "The United States and the Iraqi government are launching a new diplomatic initiative to invite Iran and Syria to a neighbors meeting on stabilizing Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday." (In other news, Jumblat, Hariri, and Ja`ja` (Ga`ga`) still think that they can shape US foreign policy in the Middle East).
"Negev desert nomads on the move again to make way for Israel's barrier"
Puppets in Conflict: `Adil `Abdul-Mahdi accuses another Shi`ite (puppet) official of responsibility for the assassination attempt on him.
Walid Jumblat: Iranian "civilization is characterized with some cunningness and vagueness." (I am translating from this Arabic version of his talk). Jumblat is working on a book titled, the Persian Mind.
Israeli occupation forces fighting..."terrorism."
My eulogy (in Arabic) of Joseph Samahah in Al-Akhbar. "He died just as he lived: Hands unbound, free".
Of all the eulogies about Joseph, Hanady's eulogy brought tears to my eyes. Hanady writes, as usual, with modesty, honesty, and sincerity. At times of distress, we write about our own suffering, but Hanady writes about the suffering of others, always. I know how much Joseph loved Hanady, and how much he wanted her to write, very regularly. When I kept urging Hanady to write regularly in As-Safir, I could tell that Joseph was very pleased. That was his plan too.
An Iraqi family expresses its joy over the new security plan for Baghdad.
Since the end of the Israeli war on Lebanon in the summer, Israel has been violating Lebanese airspace more than 5 times In other news, Walid Jumblat called from DC for an end to Syrian violation of Lebanon's sovereignty. Yesterday, a leader from `Awn's forces reminded Lebanese on New TV that Jumblat back in 1982, was urging Syria to fight against his enemies in Lebanon, and today he is urging the US to fight against his enemies in Lebanon. And do people remember when Amin Gemayyel called for bombing Damascus when he visited Washington, DC in 1982?
Hizbullah still foolishly thinks that Walid Jumblat and Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) operate independently of Hariri Inc.
Was it really necessary for Al-Akhbar newspaper to publish a picture of the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon writing his condolences when Joseph Samahah stood for all the principles that are contrary to the Saudi government? Was it really necessary?
Ziyad Rahbani: "What is To be Done?"
Did you notice how many times sectarian war criminal, Walid Jumblat, used the word "totalitarian" in his talk at American Enterprise Institute? What a scene, it was. He thinks that by using the word "totalitarian" he comes across as "the intellectual" that he thinks of himself--merely because he carries a subscription to the New York Review of Books. I mean, I have a life-long subscription to the National Inquirer but do you see me bragging? Was Michael Ledeen in the audience? Come to think of it. Walid Jumblat and Michael Ledeen should get along just fine. I recommend that they meet. And why would Jumblat meet with the US Secretary of Defense? What is that about? I am sure it was mostly a discussion of "libety" and "democracy". Also, another example of how the US State Department runs the UN secretary-general: notice that Jumblat flies to New York City and meets with the UN's secretary-general whenever he comes to US. I mean, would the esteemed secretary-general, with a busy schedule of following daily US orders, have the time for petty war criminals from small developing countries?
"At 10 a.m. I heard a loud boom"
I read that Lebanese political scientist, Elie Harik has died. He was professor of political science at Indiana University. He wrote a good book in Arabic on the Lebanese political elite (published in 1972, I believe). I have one story about him. Back in 1982 (around October), I was sitting with my MA's thesis adviser at American University of Beirut, Rashid Khalidi. After we discussed my draft, he asked me to join him at the faculty dining area at AUB. I went with him, and there was a group of professors. Harik was visiting Lebanon and he was there. As soon as Rashid and I sat, Harik bluntly asked Rashid why there were still resistance attacks on Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon. At the time, Palestinians in Lebanon were quite vulnerable, and it was quite rude that he would ask Rashid that question in front of others as if Rashid was personally responsible for the resistance. Back then, many Lebanese like Harik did not even think that the Lebanese themselves would mount resistance to Israeli occupation of their country. I had asked Rashid that day about his situation--as a Palestinian in Lebanon, and he told me that Elie Salem (who was then foreign minister) was helpful to Palestinian professors at AUB. I can't not believe that somebody French would wonder why there was French resistance to Nazi occupation. The question, I thought, was not why there was resistance, but why there would not be.
"Such displays of hagiographic rhetoric to persons in power may sit uneasily with the ideal of a free and critical press. But another question is: If Talabani is, as the newspaper asserted, “in very good health” and “stable condition”, and suffers of no serious ailments, why all the concern on the part of the newspaper? Lastly, the Iraqi academic Falih 'abd al-Jabbar wrote an article in the government-owned Al-Sabah al-Jadeed warning against the flight of the urban middle class from Iraq. The emigration of the educated and the skilled from the country, 'abd al-Jabbar argued, follows a more basic need than economic opportunity or future prospects, instead, middle-class Iraqis are leaving in order to save their lives. 'Abd al-Jabbar believes that this loss is irreparable, since most of the émigrés will probably never return. The analysis takes a more sinister approach when 'abd al-Jabbar establishes a formula of “quality vs. quantity” among Iraqis. The major problematic for 'abd al-Jabbar is that “authentically urban” Iraqis are being replaced by “rural” ones who are now flooding the cities. These newcomers, whom the author refers to as “the marginal and migrant groups,” carry in them the seeds of social ills, they are “pre-modern”, their society is “closed,” “hierarchical” and “has a strong tendency towards violence,” according to 'Abd al-Jabbar."" (thanks Amer)
You can't say that US media are not publishing investigative pieces on Iraq. Here is one on Iraq from the Christian Science Monitor (which long time ago used to be a good newspaper): "romance is blooming despite the proliferation of bombings" in Iraq.
"Iraq's cabinet approved draft legislation Monday that would enable the government to manage the country's vast oil resources and distribute revenue throughout the country, a step toward meeting a U.S. demand that the country's parliament pass such a law."
Cheney will personally put down the insurgency in Afghanistan. Taliban fled the country.
So Walid Jumblat is in DC. He released to Lebanese media that he met with Bush for 30 minutes. Later, his advisers in Lebanon said that his meeting with Bush lasted one hour. You go to the White House's website, and you find no record of that meeting. Most likely, when Jumblat was meeting with the National Security Adviser, Bush dropped in and shook the hand of Jumblat, and his companiaons, Ghattas Khuri (who used to write reports of his travel to Rustum Ghazalah) and Marwan Hamadi. Bush sometimes does that to loyal clients of the US around the world. The handshake--in Lebanonese imagination--becomes a full-fledged meeting. Like do you think that Bush knows who this Jumblat is? I mean, do you really think that Bush even knows what Lebanon is? (It has been announced in Lebanon that Samir Ja`ja` (pronounced Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) will be meeting with Bush--i.e., Bush will be shaking his hand soon).
Mini-Hariri yesterday put his name on a press release to deny the information in Hersh's recent New Yorker's article. Notice that mini-Hariri quibbled with one minor point only.
I read that at the airport in Dallas, people are offering hugs to all members of US armed forces. I now expect hugs from you all whenever I am spotted at US airports. (Stay away from me).
This is how the New York Times refers to the invasion of Nablus: "army’s third day of weapons searches and curfews in the city." Not to be outdone, AlArabiya TV (which has not interviewed Condoleezza Rice in a week) refers to the invasion of Nablus as "military operation." The Bush Doctrine: coming to a channel near you.
"Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came under fire from domestic critics yesterday for his uncompromising stance on the nuclear issue as the US and Britain launched a new diplomatic effort to agree harsher UN sanctions they hope will force Tehran to halt uranium enrichment. ohammad Atrianfar, a respected political commentator, accused the president of using "the language of the bazaar" and said his comments had made it harder for Ali Larijani, the country's top nuclear negotiator, to reach a compromise with European diplomats.""
"Tourism Minister-designate Esterina Tartman (Yisrael Beiteinu) does not hold any university degree, despite claims in her curriculum vitae to the contrary. Following reports earlier Tuesday in Yedioth Aharonoth that Tartman never received a masters degree, various media sources reported that the minister-designate had also never received a bachelors degree. In her CV and on the Web sites of the Knesset and Yisrael Beiteinu, Tartman claims to have received a bachelors degree from Bar Ilan University and a masters degree in finance and marketing from Hebrew University in Jerusalem."
"Evidence against Muslim charity appears fabricated: An official summary of an FBI-wiretapped conversation contains anti-Semitic slurs that do not appear in the actual transcript." (thanks Laleh)

More impressive than Lebanese police, are the sketch artists of Lebanese police. Yesterday, Lebanese police circulated a sketch of the suspect in the assassination attempt on Elias Murr's life more than a year and a half ago. Lebanese police confirms that the man has made sure to not change his appearance in a year and a half, and that he has kept his beard to help the Lebanese police identify him. So if you see him, please call fatfat police NOW. And in the last week, I have noticed that Lebanese sketch artists are now using computer images. It is clear that the US government has donated a new software to the Lebanese police--having donated 20 used and partially destroyed Humvees to help the Lebanese Army defend the borders of Lebanon.
The Lebanese: how they are always the best and the first: "The Lebanese police operation was the first ever reported bust of liquid explosives in the world." (But this is not accurate. Lebanese police last year reported a bust of liquid hummus in Zahlah. So there.) (thanks Emily)

Monday, February 26, 2007

A retrospective on Joseph Samahah (thanks Nicholas)
To my readers outside of the US: this is an actual headline from SF Chronicle (a liberal newspaper): "Afghans say NATO can bomb their town." (So now it is expected that other Muslims will also beg NATO to bomb their towns).
"Voters in Dakar lined up to vote for president yesterday in what was largely a referendum on the economic policies of President Abdoulaye Wade." (Wait. I am confused. I thought that people line up to vote only when Bush invades their country!)
"Rumsfeld was crafty enough to advertise his close supervision of the promotions process, interviewing all candidates for three- and four-star rank. That, combined with an aggressive personal manner, may have been enough to earn him the appearance of dominance. Every bully needs quiescent victims, and Rumsfeld found plenty at the Pentagon."
"When a Middle East discussion group organized a showing at New York University recently, it found that the distributors of “Obsession” were requiring those in attendance to register at, and that digital pictures of the events be sent to Hasbara Fellowships, a group set up to counter anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses. “If people have to give their names over to Hasbara Fellowships at the door, that doesn’t have the effect of stimulating open dialogue,” said Jordan J. Dunn, president of the Middle East Dialogue Group of New York University, which mixes Jews and Muslims. “Rather, it intimidates people and stifles dissent.”" (thanks Rania)
To prepare the way for the US invasion of Iraq, the Saudi Arab media, provided coverage of the tyranny and oppression of Saddam. To help the US in the current Sunni-Shi`ite conflict, Saudi Arab media are now providing favorable coverage of Saddam.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This tribute to Joseph captures him.
Finally. Israeli occupation forces were able to apprehend the man (boy, really) responsible for obstructing the Zionist project in Palestine.
"Iraq's minorities, some of the oldest communities in the world, are being driven from the country by a wave of violence against them because they are identified with the occupation and easy targets for kidnappers and death squads. A "huge exodus" is now taking place, according to a report by Minority Rights Group International. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says 30 per cent of the 1.8 million Iraqis who have fled to Jordan, Syria and elsewhere come from the minorities. The Christians, who have lived in Iraq for 2,000 years, survived the Muslim invasion in the 7th century and the Mongol onslaught in the 13th but are now being eradicated as their churches are bombed and members of their faith hunted down and killed along with other minority faiths."
"As protesters chanted and waved signs outside, roughly 250 American Jews were able to get information on buying homes in the West Bank during a Sunday event promoted as a way to help Jewish settlers. The sales pitch, organized by the Amana Settlement Movement, took place in Teaneck, New Jersey at an Orthodox synagogue, Congregation B'nai Yeshurun."
"US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran"
"Joseph Samaha, prominent Lebanese journalist, dies at 58"
"That's why Makiya insisted that an Iraq invasion do more than merely replace Saddam with a more pliant Baathist general. In deadly earnest, he was asking the United States to become what that South African exile could not even contemplate without laughing: a revolutionary democratic power. For Makiya's neoconservative allies, the idea was intuitive: In their air-brushed narrative, that's what the United States had always been. But Makiya knew better; he knew that the United States had intervened more frequently in the Third World to quash democracy than to spread it. He knew that the Bush administration had other, darker motives." (Oh, no he didn't. He had no clue. Or maybe he also shared those darker motives.)
"One person can tell you precisely how many Americans have been killed in Iraq. Another pays close attention to the names and hometowns of those who die each week. A third mourns for the families of fallen U.S. troops, but also figures it was their choice to enlist." (thanks Fatima)
The Political (and personal) Loss of Joseph Samahah's Death. I woke up, and glanced at my computer as I do when I wake up. Saw several emails about Joseph Samahah's death were in my inbox. Did not believe it at first, or did not want to believe it. I went to Al-Jazeerah's website, and saw it. Only then I believed it, reluctantly. I called my sister: she was sobbing. She already was at Al-Akhbar's office offering condolences. I immediately thought about my conversation with Joseph about health--his heatlh--back in the summer of 2005. I saw him smoking and noticed that he always ate meat. So I asked him whether he worked out. He laughed. I gave him a spiel about the benefits of exercise and vegetarianism, and he also smiled widely. The topic was so remote to him. He clearly did not seem to think about such matters, although his father and brother died very early--died at an age even younger than Joseph's age of 57. I first met Joseph Samahah in 1999, I think. My sister, Mirvat, has been friends with him. From the first time, he struck me as not like the Lebanese journalists that you meet. He was not a braggart, or a name dropper, and he was very low-key--a bit passive, I thought. He can be awkward at times; he can stay silent sometimes. He was very self-confident, but in his own way. He was an eccentric personality: I can't say that I was his friend, at the personal level: I would see him whenever I went to Lebanon, and always over food, and we discussed mostly politics--and sometimes his job. I liked him right away, but became a huge of fan of him after the assassination of Rafiq Hariri when he courageously charted an independent political line. Joseph Samahah grew up poor, and at the age of 26-27, he became the editor-in-chief of Al-Watan (a daily newspaper that was published by the Lebanese National Movement during the war when it was receiving millions from the Libyan regime). He started as a supporter of the Communist Action Organization, but over the years gravitated toward Nasserist Arab nationalism--or more accurately, he reconciled Marxism with Nasserist Arab nationalism (he kept a picture of Nasser in his office). I would never visit Lebanon without visiting him at As-Safir: he would always suggest that we go to lunch somewhere, but I personally preferred to watch him at the newspaper (As-Safir for years, and last summer at Al-Akhbar). We had different personalities: he was low-key, when I am loud; he was passive, while I appear (wrongly) to people to be on hard drugs due to high level of energy in my personality; he was democratic when I am combative. (He once told me that Samir Qasir disliked me so much because we both are intense and sharp in our personalities). He really was democratic: he can be friends--best friends--with people that he disagreed with. One of his best friends in the world was Hazim Saghiyyah (an Arab neo-conservative who specializes in promoting "liberalism" in Saudi publications, without uttering a word about Saudi oppression). In fact, Joseph died in London where he went to offer his condolences over the death of May Ghassub (Hazim's partner). Joseph also was a close friend with Samir Qasir: he told me that Samir, unbeknownst to people at the time and then, had to hide in his house when Jamil As-Sayyid was harassing him (when Rafiq Hariri was prime minister, following the orders of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon), and when Jubran and Ghassan Tuwayni were most unsupportive of Qasir. Joseph urged me two summers ago to interview Lebanese Forces' George `Udwan and Samir Franjiyyah. Ibrahim Al-Amin agreed. They gave me their phone numbers, and I stared at the numbers every morning for several days, but never managed to dial. I told them later that I seem to still adhere to the slogan of the Lebanese National Movement after the massacre of `Ayn Ar-Rummanah in 1975 regarding the "isolation of the Phalanges." They both looked at me, rather weirdly. I was most impressed with Joseph, and admired him a great deal. I liked how he operated in the office: he would never carry himself as a big shot. His office door at As-Safir was always open. People would come in even when he was eating his lunch, and some would even take a bite or two. He once in the late 1990s, left As-Safir and wrote for Al-Hayat. But he was bored. This last summer, I visited him at the Al-Akhbar offices. He was quite happy with the project, and very confident about its success. He gave me a tour of the place: office-by-office, and introduced me to every person there. He then talked to me about his ideas for Al-Akhbar. I told him that he was scaring me. He had Le Monde and the Independent on his desk. He showed me an issue of the Indpendent (tabloid size Independent), and it had a non-political cover. He said that we will not cover the statements of politicians' as Lebanese newspapers do; that is now left for TV news, he said. I said: "Joseph. You are scaring me." The Independent and Le Monde built up readers over years and decades: and when you have loyal readers, you can do alternative things, but not at first. You have to build readership first. Knowing about his frustrating experience at As-Safir, I asked him whether he will be allowed to serve as a real editor-in-chief, and he said yes. I asked him about the political line of Al-Akhbar on Lebanese affairs (I was concerned that it may be pro-Lahhud, or pro-Syria, etc), and he said that it will have his politics. And I said: I hope that to be the case. Joseph's articles in the year that followed Hariri's assassination, where most memorable. People would then describe their politics as "Joseph Samahah." How much I urged him to collect the articles in one book: I was even insistent. I even talked to Samah at Al-Adab publishing house about that. (I still think that it should be done now that he can't say no). He was stubbornly opposed. He told me that he hated to talk on TV: which explains why he rarely appeared on TV. Samahah's charisma was in his mind, more than in his style or his personality. Sometimes it would frustrate me how non-expressive Joseph was: I would ask him whether he was happy to write every day, and he would say: it is OK. He rarely expressed strong feelings or sentiments except when he would note a political irony. On those rare occasions, he would get very animated and excited--like when Ilyas Murr after his assassination attempt accused Sunni fundamentalists (although he has changed his tune in the last year) while Jumblat immediately accused Syria. I was at his office that day, and saw him laughing at Jumblat: that Jumblat made that accusation before knowing that Murr survived. I don't think that I explained it well: but Joseph said that Jumblat would have been able to run away with his accusations, had Murr not survived the assassination attempt. I asked him a year ago, whether he is subject to censorship. He said that at As-Safir, he was free to write what he wished, and that the publisher, Talal Salman, never interfered in what he wrote, and never pressured him in any way. But Joseph admitted to me that he did impose on himself certain parameters. I asked him to give me examples: he told me that he had taken a decision (this was a year and a half ago) to not write about Walid Jumblat anymore. After Hariri's assassination, Walid Jumblat threatened Joseph in an interview on ANB TV: he publicly said that he will not forgive Joseph for what he wrote about him in the year following Hariri's assination. So Joseph told me that he took that decision. He said: I imagined writing an article about Jumblat, and then having to deal with the consequences if Jumblat gets assassinated. Later, people intervened to reconcile Samahah and Jumblat: but Joseph told them that he no more wanted to see Jumblat. He told me that he decided to not see him anymore. I asked him for the reason. He explained that it was not only politics: he said that socially, it is not comfortable to be around Jumblat. He said that he did not like the ambiance. He said that Jumblat is quite annoying socially. He did not give me examples. Jumblat would often call Joseph to argue with him a point or another. It was clear that Jumblat respected his opinions--maybe because Jumblat thought of himself (and the Lebanese bourgeoisie thought of him) as an intellectual because he had a widely publicized subscription to the New York Review of Books--yes, in Lebanonesia this qualifies to make you an intellectual. On the day of the assassination attempt on Ilyas Murr (I now can say that because Joseph would often tell me something and warn me to not use it on my blog), I saw him. He told me about a bizarre phone conversation he had that day with Walid Jumblat. (Joseph would really do a good imitation of Walid Jumblat, by the way). That day, Murr's then father-in-law, Emile Lahhud was sitting in the hospital where Murr was being treated next to Marwan Hamadi--a close Jumblat adviser and confidante. Hamadi was joking and talking with Lahhud, and the TV cameras captured the moment. So Walid Jumblat called Joseph that day and told him: "Ustadh Joseph. I am calling you to ask you to write an article about the "corruption of the Lebanese politicians." You need to write about those people; you have to write something about somebody like Marwan Hamadi. This guy accused Emile Lahhud of trying to kill him, and he is now sitting next him and exchanging pleasantries. You need to expose those corrupt people." (The same Marwan Hamadi is now in the US accompanying Walid Jumblat on his visit to Washington, DC). Joseph said: OK, but obviously ignored Jumblat. Rafiq Hariri also would call Joseph and argue with him (politely, I have to say) over his articles. I remember once Joseph wrote an article comparing Rafiq Hariri to Michel Chiha. Hariri called him that day from Saudi Arabia saying: "I am not Michel Chiha." In 2005, I asked him whether Rafiq Hariri tried to co-opt him. He explained to me that Rafiq Hariri certainly tried to co-opt him but not in the traditional way. He used different methods with Joseph. With other Lebanese journalists, Hariri would simply send them envelopes of cash, and would pay regular sums. He knew that Joseph was not like that. So he never dared to send him envelopes (he once was offended when Ibrahim Al-Amin was the only journalist on a plane to Iran to refuse an envelope of cash that Hariri would routinely give to the accompanying Lebanese journalists on his private jet). So Hariri invited Joseph for a private meeting (this was early on--after Hariri became prime minister, and after Joseph returned to Lebanon). He told him that he would like Joseph to start an economic research unit headed by Joseph, and that it would produce research papers. Hariri told Joseph that budget is not a problem, and that it can start with $27,000.00 per month. Joseph ignored the offer, and Hariri tried a few more times, only to get to know first hand that Joseph is not for sale, unlike the rank of many Lebanese journalists who are on Hariri payroll. (Those tears that you see Lebanese journalists shed on TV screens over Hariri are paid tears). He also told me that whenever Hariri would initiate one of his cruel capitalist plans (he once had a plan to cancel the income tax, another time he suggested a flat tax), that Sanyurah would come to Joseph at his office and complain about Hariri. Sanyurah once asked Joseph: "Is Rafiq Hariri losing his mind?" (This was after a devious tax scheme that Hariri wanted to introduce in Lebanon to benefit himself and his corrupt, wealthy cronies). Joseph had high hopes for Al-Akhbar. He also knew how important the internet will be for newspapers; the last time I saw him in July, he asked me detailed questions about my site, about visitors and such. He wanted to know how many visitors I get per month. I did not know at the time, but gave him an estimate. He also really liked the field of media criticisms. He introduced the section Sawt wa Surah in As-Safir, and continued to devote attention to that field in Al-Akhbar. He was a pioneer in that regard. He loved to encourage and cultivate new talents--I will not mention names here to avoid embarrassment. He always wanted me to write critiques of Arab media: and he was quite happy when he told me that you can finally criticize reporters by name in Al-Akhbar because it reversed Lebanese media tradition by allowing criticisms of other journalists by name on its pages. Joseph Samahah was a bright spot in the most corrupt world of Lebanese media. Joseph Samahah never wrote praise for an oil prince or king; he never praised the Saudi royal family, and never felt the need to offer homage to any regime. Joseph was also an early critic of vulgar Arab writings on the Jewish question: he has a book on that matter. He offered (from his days in the pro-Arafat magazine, Al-Yawm As-Sabi`) critique of anti-Jewishness in the Arab world. On the Arab-Israeli conflict, Joseph was a supporter of Fath and its political formula; he supported the two-state solutions. (In fact, last summer, a Lebanese columnist--knowing what Palestine is to me--tried to make me appreciate Joseph less by reminding me about early articles by Joseph on the Palestinian question. It did not change my mind). Joseph has been playing a political role; I mean he was playing a political role. I am blunt in offering criticisms, and I am blunt in offering praise. I would ask Joseph after Hariri's assassination. Joseph: do you know that you are playing an important political role? A political role, I would emphasize. He would smile, and say that he heard that some people are pleased with his articles. I never mention a new book on US foreign policy or on Arab-Israeli issues that Joseph has not heard of it, or has not even read it. He followed politics very closely, and followed what is being written on different topics in French and also in English. He has a most amazing mind, and he wrote Arabic in a very unique way: his mind (and his style in Arabic) reminded me of Foucault. He never expressed ideas simply: not be cause he intended to sound sophisticated. No, he was not like that. But his mind worked in a very complicated and ironic way. This is how reading him offered a double treat. How much I will miss Jopseh's articles. For many people who follow Lebanon, Joseph was the barometer: or the compass. Joseph was my favorite Arab columnist. No, Joseph, was my favorite columnist. I used to love eating blueberries while reading Joseph's articles. Who do I have to read now: I have Thomas Friedman in English, and Wahhabi "liberals" in Arabic newspapers. No wonder I can't breath. I need to open the windows and doors NOW. Joseph was not tied to Saudi interests and princes: so no school of journalism will be named after him. But at least: pictures of Joseph will not show him paying homage to princes of the House of Saud. Joseph lived free. For atheists: your own death is easy to handle, but the death of others is less easy. My visits to Lebanon will be very different now.
Two days ago, Clovis Maqsud offered praise for Rafiq Hariri in Washington, DC. Here, he offers praise for Saudi King. Stay tuned: he may be offering praise for Kuwaiti royal family next week. How exciting.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"As'ad Abu Khalil Among the Missing" (thanks to my reader from Johannesburg, South Africa)
PS At the time of the debate, I was having a most delicious meal at an Afghan restaurant (Walter's) near Pomona College in Claremont. You have to try the eggplant and rice dish; and try the lentils salad too. And those spinach appetizers are just splendid).
"The relationship between current events and language study is particularly clear in the case of Arabic. The immediate increase in enrollment in fall 2001 illustrates students' attentiveness to the languages of politics. Near Eastern Studies professor Nancy Coffin linked the popularity of Arabic with the political significance of the Middle East. "Traditionally, something would happen, and you would get a little tick up [in enrollment]," she said. She added that she doesn't anticipate any decrease in the language's popularity since, "unfortunately, the U.S. is now deeply embroiled in the Middle East." "I think Arabic is the new Russian," she said."
"Delicate sensibilities, and the usual administrative incompetence, have made a shambles of efforts to contain the “monkey menace”, as newspapers have labelled it. Victims of Delhi's rapid sprawl, which has subsumed their forest habitats, the monkeys can indeed be irritants. Many locals deem them incarnations of the Hindu monkey-faced God, Hanuman, and so feed them, which has made them demanding. They have been known to terrorise food-sellers, get drunk on stolen whisky and break into public buildings—including the Defence Ministry, which they ransacked one night. Workers next door at the Foreign Ministry contracted jaundice after a monkey drowned in the water-tank."
You have to say this: Mr. Bush has not allowed his job as a thoughtful president to interfere with his duties as a respected chemist.
Read about the graphic details of Muslim threats against Hirsi Ali:
"Have you felt threatened here in America?
Not threatened, but I've been recognized by some Muslim individuals who let me know they are not pleased with what I'm doing. That also happened in Europe, just people walking up to you and telling you, "Oh, you're that woman, I can't stand you." I just say, "OK, look, I'm eating now, please leave me alone.""
"A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial"
"Reform" in the Middle East--US-style. "Serious new divisions have emerged between the Bush administration and its Iraqi allies over the Baghdad government's refusal to enact a reform that the White House considers crucial to its new strategy for bringing the country's violence under control." This is from the LA Times. Don't you like the word "reform" here? The "reform" in question is the invitation of Saddam's henchmen to join the puppet government in Iraq.
"Federal prosecutors counted immigration violations, marriage fraud and drug trafficking among anti-terror cases in the four years after 9/11 even though no evidence linked them to terror activity, a Justice Department audit said Tuesday." (thanks Malang)
The news of the arrest of `Ammar Al-Hakim (son of `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim who was in the oval office a few weeks ago) only confirms my theory: the US puppets in the Middle East will continue to be puppets even if they are humiliated and harassed by US government and US troops.
Bragging about Lebanese "talents." Following in the footsteps of An-Nahar newspaper (the right-wing, sectarian Christian, ultra-Lebanese nationalist, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people) daily), Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal prints this item on its front page: that US military command in Iraq appointed a Lebanese-American, Peter Mansur, as commander of the Baghdad area. The nation of Lebanon is proud, it seems. Let the Hariri family celebrate.
"Arabs' hero 'should be Lawrence of Judea'". Look at this headline from the Daily Telegraph. The problem with it is the falsehood of the premise. Lawrence was NEVER a hero of the Arabs: he was the hero of the White Man, always. People in the West may not know that this figure is a cult figure in the West, and not in the East. Historical accounts in Arabic of the period, barely give him a footnote, Hollywood versions of history notwithstanding. (thanks Laleh)
"Conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated markedly since 2005, with rising violence, government corruption and misguided U.S. efforts contributing to growing unease among the population, according to a report released yesterday based in part on 1,000 interviews with ordinary Afghans."
Queen Rania: Saudi king "corrected the image of the Saudi women globally." (thanks Haytham)
" Sir Martin, who plans to back up his myth-challenging claim in his next book, declared here this week that TE Lawrence, long regarded as the unrivalled prototype of the British Arabist, "had a sort of contempt for the Arabs, actually. He felt that only with a Jewish state would the Arabs make anything of themselves."" (thanks Mahmoud)
"When Yaakov Peri stepped down as chief of the Shin Bet, in 1994, Jibril Rajoub, then head of Preventive Security Services in the West Bank, called Peri to express his sorrow. "This is a terrible blow to the security of the state!" said Rajoub. The state he was talking about was Israel. And the fact of the matter is that Rajoub, in his day, did work hard to prevent the second Intifada."
"The US military secretly used landing strips in eastern Ethiopia to launch air strikes on suspected Islamists in Somalia last month, it was reported yesterday. Quoting anonymous army officials, the New York Times also claimed that the US diverted spy satellites to provide intelligence to Ethiopian troops as they swept across the country to drive the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC) out of the capital, Mogadishu."
"The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high, millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line and the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen."
Walid Jumblat (his shifts in two years)
"Tocqueville and his companion Gustave de Beaumont failed to pay enough attention to the Congress, or to political parties. They talked to too many lawyers and not enough women."
"Godard once said that he wanted to make films with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order."
Saudi clerics `Uthman Al-Khamis and Sa`d Al-Ghamdi issued (in Nov. 2004) a fatwawawa that prohibits the use of the internet by women due to their "sinister nature." The fatwawawa added that women are forbidden "to open the internet except in the presence of a [male] guardian due to the [propensity of women to] prostitution and their wickedness." (thanks Ziad)
"The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified." Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent. Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers? (thanks Ali)

Friday, February 23, 2007

I hesitated before linking to this. It has been around for a while--circulated widely in Lebanon among supporters of the "Cedar Revolution". You need to read it to see the blatant racism and sectarianism of this "revolution" that captured the imagination of Nation Magazine, Mr. Bush, Robert Fisk, among many others.
PS It is important to note that the March 14th Movement is the one that prides itself on being "civilized." Please, may the people of Lebanon be spared the civilization of Jumblat, Hariri, Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent), `Atallah, Hariri, and the rest.

Mubarak Advising Putin (thanks Ziad):
With those same binoculars, the Israeli Minister of Defense was able to spot the three Iranian soldiers in South Lebanon during the Israeli war on Lebanon.
World Bank: "Over the two years covered by this report (which ended on June 30th last year) the department fully investigated 236 allegations of corruption in the bank's projects. It was able to make charges stick in just 71 cases (and dismissed them in another 53). Those two years saw 58 firms and 54 people barred from getting bank money. The blacklist included a couple of big names, including Thales Consulting and Engineering of France, which got a wrist-slapping one-year ban. The department also turned its lens on its colleagues, fully examining 92 allegations of fraud and corruption against the bank's staff, and substantiating 33. Some cheats fiddled taxes; others doctored expenses. One staffer charged phone-calls from one place, while claiming to attend training in another. The investigators still cite the “cancer of corruption” denounced by James Wolfensohn, an ex-president of the World Bank, in 1996. Since then, they have gained a better fix on the malignancy, they say: the same scams pop up everywhere. But they do not know their extent. Fraud may well be rare among bank people, but endemic in its projects. Many invite bids for a contract to build a road, say, or provide tractors. The bank stumps up the cash, but the borrowing government picks the winner. In a paper published in 2005, Nathaniel Hobbs, a political scientist, shows how bids were routinely rigged. His sources had handled about 90 bank contracts, worth $90m in total, for firms in over 20 countries. In every contract, one source said, local officials sought a kick-back, typically of 10-15%."
"A moderate leader of the Islamic courts, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, has since been given asylum in Yemen, possibly with the backing of America, which thinks he could be useful too."
"In a survey late last year, America scored more than twice as badly as the next region (the Middle East) on traveller friendliness."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did you see the damning HBO Documentary on Abu Ghraib? I am watching it as we speak. I did not even think that something as powerful and critical would even air on US TV. You all need to watch it.
"The latest Iraqi government purchase for its U.S. mission is a $5.8 million mansion at 3421 Massachusetts Ave. NW in Observatory Circle, across the street from Vice President Cheney's official residence. The three-story, 1920 Tudor-style structure, with more than 7,000 square feet of space, will serve as Iraq's temporary embassy during renovations to its fading Dupont Circle mission. Plans are to eventually turn the Dupont Circle building into a cultural center for the exhibition of Iraqi art."
"VOA Says Goodbye to Uzbek, Other Tongues: Agency to Shift Resources to Audiences in Mideast, North Korea, Somalia, Cuba"
"Three-quarters of Israelis want to be in the European Union and more than a tenth would actually leave Israel for Europe if they were granted EU citizenship, according to an opinion poll published yesterday."
"The partial British military withdrawal from southern Iraq announced by Tony Blair this week follows political and military failure, and is not because of any improvement in local security, say specialists on Iraq. In a comment entitled "The British Defeat in Iraq" the pre-eminent American analyst on Iraq, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, asserts that British forces lost control of the situation in and around Basra by the second half of 2005."
"A UN human rights investigator has likened Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories to apartheid South Africa and says there should be "serious consideration" over bringing the occupation to the international court of justice. The report by John Dugard, a South African law professor who is the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, represents some of the most forceful criticism yet of Israel's 40-year occupation."
This is Zionism. "The High Court of Justice ruled Thursday that it is permissible for the Israel Defense Forces to build security fences around West Bank settlements, even if the barriers cut into agricultural land owned by Palestinians."
"A Sikh student in Scotland was punched and kicked by a group of thugs who accused him of having a bomb in his turban." (thanks Badis)
"Suspicion of UN troops grows in south Lebanon: International forces are favouring Israel, say locals"
"Much of the intelligence on Iran's nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by American spy agencies has turned out to be unfounded, according to diplomatic sources in Vienna."
The leader of the "Cedar Revolution" (sectarian war criminal, Walid Jumblat) said in an interview with LBC-TV that he only trusts the guarantees of the Saudi King. Western correspondents praised Jumblat for his democratic credentials. Robert Fisk hailed his honesty, and Abed cheered. Nation magazine found him "glamorous."
"Edward Zwick, the director of “Blood Diamond”, argues that it would be “disingenuous” to pretend that he could have got the same financial backing and publicity if he had tried to make a film with a black storyline and a black star instead of one centring on a white mercenary and a (pretty) white female journalist. Hollywood's parameters have expanded a bit, but they are still there."
This is the best article I have seen on the Sunni-Shi`ite conflict in the Middle East. Naturally, or naturlich as they say in German, it is from the best magazine there is, the Economist: "Some of the alarm appears to be orchestrated. In the culmination of a month-long barrage of innuendo against Iran in Egypt's state-owned press, a recent editorial in the staid Cairo daily, al-Ahram, charged the Islamic Republic with undermining chances for peace in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. The goal, it suggested, was to weaken Sunni Arab states so as to realise “Safavid dreams” of Shia expansion, a reference to the 16th-century dynasty that enshrined Shiism as Iran's state religion. Citing unnamed Egyptian officials, the same newspaper floated charges that Iranian intelligence agents were responsible for the kidnap and murder of Egypt's ambassador in Iraq in July 2005. A similar campaign has unfolded in Saudi Arabia, where increasingly internet chat sites, several of which are widely believed to be infiltrated by police agents, are rife with spurious tales of Shia perfidy. A typical item affirms that, when told of Sunni fears of a “Shia crescent” spreading across the region, Iran's president said he envisioned not a crescent but a full moon. While a columnist in one Saudi daily asserted, falsely, that Shias believe they must perform ablutions if they happen to touch an “unclean” Sunni, 38 senior Saudi clerics issued a call to arms in defence of Iraq against the “Crusader-Safavid-Rejectionist plot” that seeks to uproot Sunni Islam."
"Apart from Corporal Charles Graner, sentenced in January 2005 to ten years' imprisonment for his lead role in the Abu Ghraib scandal, almost no other American found guilty of the murder or abuse of Iraqi and Afghan civilians or detainees has received more than a couple of years in prison....According to American civil-liberties groups such as Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch, only about half the hundreds of allegations against American troops and personnel have been adequately investigated. The groups claim to have documented more than 330 credible cases of torture, killings and abuse of some 460 detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. But of the 600 or so American soldiers and officials they say are implicated, only a tiny fraction—40 at the time of their report last April—had been given custodial sentences."
"In 2002 George Bush issued an executive order saying that non-citizen soldiers would in future be eligible to apply for expedited citizenship after serving one day on active duty. Previously, they had to wait several years. Since then, thousands of soldiers have been naturalised, and more than 80 have received posthumous citizenship. The armed forces have tried to bridge the language and culture gaps that can thwart recruitment. During last year's World Cup, for example, the army advertised on Arab Radio and Television."
"Mr Huckabee retorts, proudly, that he has carried out more executions than any other governor in Arkansas history."
"A second US soldier's plea of guilty to the gang rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of her and her family has been accepted by a judge." (thanks Fatima)
An interview with dear Sinan Antoun (did not like the last two questions in which the interviewer pushed Sinan to praise Beirut. Sinan should have praised Mogadishu just to irritate the Lebanese nationalist interviewer).
Another CSI-Beirut. Again, notice the CSI dogs of Lebanon. Their handlers are always having difficulty making them...move. (thanks Assaad)
"Magnificently sophisticated geometric patterns in medieval Islamic architecture indicate their designers achieved a mathematical breakthrough 500 years earlier than Western scholars, scientists said on Thursday. By the 15th century, decorative tile patterns on these masterpieces of Islamic architecture reached such complexity that a small number boasted what seem to be "quasicrystalline" designs, Harvard University's Peter Lu and Princeton University's Paul Steinhardt wrote in the journal Science." (thanks Nasser)
PS Can somebody send me the full text of the Science magazine article to my email? Thanks. Oh, and I want it NOW.
(thanks Steve)
In memory of Husayn Muruwwah: the Lebanese communist thinker who was assassinated by fundamentalist fanatics in Lebanon in 1987. Amal accuses Hizbullah, and Hizbullah accuses Amal of his murder.
"The Times Appoints a Chief Dance Critic". He wrote his first review here.
Real courage, according to Lebanese right-wing writer, Khayrallah Khayrallah, is exemplified by Sa`d Hariri. (He wrote this opinion in Hariri's newspaper, Al-Mustaqbal. Now that takes courage--real courage).
Can somebody do a count of the times the name of the Saudi ambassador in Lebanon appears on the front page of Al-Akhbar newspaper--and Al-Akhbar is supposed to be pro-Hizbullah? That tells you something.
Samples of Arab "liberalism." Bilal Khubayz is a liberal writer whose name appears in An-Nahar and elaph, among other places. He is known as a "liberal" writer. Here, he pays tribute to Saudi policy in Lebanon, and beyond. A paid ad would be less crude.
This is an actual headline, not from an opinion piece or an editorial but from a news dispatch. Do you think that the New York Times, which loves to feign objectivity and detachment, would EVER print such a headline about a pro-US dictatorship? "Mugabe Gets Ready to Eat Cake While Fellow Zimbabweans Can’t Find Bread on Shelves" And Mugabe is far less corrupt and more austere than most pro-US tyrants around the world.
"A paid FBI informant was the man behind a neo-Nazi march through the streets of Parramore that stirred up anxiety in Orlando's black community and fears of racial unrest that triggered a major police mobilization. That revelation came Wednesday in an unrelated federal court hearing and has prompted outrage from black leaders, some of whom demanded an investigation into whether the February 2006 march was, itself, an event staged by law-enforcement agencies." (thanks anonymous)
"US: Iran has not met nuclear obligations". (And Israel has?)
"Seven Saudis released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, returned home and were held to see whether they had terrorist ties, the official Saudi Press Agency reported." The last part of the sentence was inserted by the Saudi government for PR purposes. The seven Saudis will shortly return to their jobs at the Ministry of Interior.
"Whenever the central government builds a new industrial area, it gets located in a Jewish town instead of an Arab town," he said. "The Israeli towns get the local tax revenue and the jobs. Look, this highway separates our reality from theirs." Central government allocations for public services further skew the income gap. In public education, for example, the state invests about twice as much per Jewish pupil as per Arab pupil. Nearly half of Israel's Arabs live below the poverty line, and their rates of unemployment and infant mortality are twice the national average. They face obstacles securing residency permits for Arab spouses who are not Israeli. Exempt from military service, they do not qualify for thousands of higher-paying jobs reserved for veterans. They make up only 10% of Israel's university undergraduates. Arab leaders also chafe at limits on local autonomy, such as the Education Ministry requirement that all public schools use textbooks that teach history from a Jewish perspective."
"California's prisons are jammed with thousands of mentally ill inmates who didn't get help before their incarceration and aren't likely to get much while locked up. Not only is that like a chapter out of the Dark Ages, but the high rate of repeat crimes among parolees is costing taxpayers a fortune." (the last phrase is intended to get the attention of readers).
The body of a Sri Lankan woman was rescued from a building destroyed by Israeli bombing last June in Tyre. Her body was removed EIGHT MONTHS after she died.
Alberto Fernandez (who has been released from Guantanamo following remarks he had made in Arabic on AlJazeera in which he sounded critical of US policies) is back on the air. To prove his loyalty to the Bush administration, he was asked yesterday to argue to Arabic viewers--I kid you not--that the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq is a sign that the US is making progress in Iraq. He concluded his appearance by chanting (in Arabic): "With Spirit, With Blood, I sacrifice myself for you, O Mr. Bush." White House officials were pleased; they sent him a blender.
"U.S. officials say they were surprised that Abbas struck the deal, which angered Israeli officials and cast a pall over a summit that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brokered in Jerusalem this week between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert."
Yesterday, while driving to St. Louis Obispo, I listened to the forum of the Democratic candidates in Nevada. I heard Hillary Clinton. She basically lashed out at the Iraqi people for what is going on there. She basically blamed the Iraqi people for the horrors that her country has brought to them. She added that Americans should not die for the sake of Iraqis. Oh, yeah. That is why the US invaded Iraq: to help the Iraqi people. With that help, Ms. Senator. Please, please, please. Stop helping Arab people NOW. And always spare us your help.
Walid Jumblat has been summoned to Washington, DC for further instructions. This two weeks after the visit by Amin Gemayyel. Yet, Robert Fisk is busy writing about an Iranian conspiracy in the Middle East, but not about an American-Israeli-Saudi conspiracy. Is it because he has private dinners with the leaders of that conspiracy in Lebanon?
"Many in the war-ravaged villages of south Lebanon have struggled through the winter with intermittent electricity and running water, and there is a continual threat from the unexploded cluster munitions that still litter large swaths of the Lebanese countryside. More than 30 people have been killed and 180 wounded by unexploded bomblets since the war. Recently, in the southern village of Marake, a 16-year-old girl had her leg blown off. Her mother and brother escaped with less serious injuries.Residents complain of continual Israeli over flights, as well as limited incursions."
"An Egyptian blogger was today sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and the country's president, Hosni Mubarak, in the country's first prosecution of a blogger." (I wonder. By Egyptian laws' standards, how many insults am I guilty of?)
By the way, Pentagon's propaganda is not only published in US newspapers. It is also published in the UK's Guardian.
"Around 46 per cent of Gaza and West Bank households are "food insecure" or in danger of becoming so, according to a UN report on the impact of conflict and the global boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority." (thanks Mouin)
Last night, Rashid Fayid was on Naharkum Sa`id. He is the news director at Hariri TV (Future TV). He was objecting to the use of the term "civilized" by the opposition in Lebanon--and both sides in Lebanon love to refer to themselves as "civilized" in the hope of getting the attention of the White Man. So Fayid said that some people may be backward and civilized. He said that there are backward countries that are civilized, but that it is a different kind of civilization. He said that there is "civilization in Africa, but it is a backward civilization." This is the movement that captured the hearts of the Western press. Wait. It makes sense. It makes full sense that Western reporters (Nation magazine, Robert Fisk, Washington Post, etc) are supporters of this racist movement.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I am speaking at this event on Friday, not that you care.
Satloff lectures (or hectors?) Arabs, with `Amr Musa hosting: "Over three intense days, I spoke at such celebrated state institutions as Cairo University, al-Ahram newspaper and the Diplomatic Institute of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. I did four nationally televised interviews on networks ranging from Egyptian state TV to popular satellite channels. The most sensational event occurred at the headquarters of the Arab League, one of the last redoubts of Arab nationalism. There, Secretary-General Amr Moussa convened a meeting of Arab ambassadors and I delivered an address, in Arabic, on the Arab role in the Holocaust and the importance of including Holocaust education in Arab educational curricula. If Arabs learned more about Auschwitz, I said, perhaps their response to Darfur and Halabja -- mass killings of non-Arabs in Arab lands -- would have been different." Also, I don't buy the notion that education about the holocaust (which I do agree is important for all--not only Arabs) would deter people from committing atrocities and massacres. I mean, I am sure that Israelis are quite educated about the holocaust, no? (thanks Hannah)
"Explosion of strikes rocks Egyptian firms: Thousands have walked off their jobs in a nation where such work stoppages are illegal -- and many have won raises, benefits"
ًOn the real rulers of Egypt (by Galal Amin). (I am sorry that I linked to the lousy, sleazy Saudi site, Elaph. The site of Al-Masri Al-Yawm is not working).
Like Golda Meir, the New York Times spends sleepless nights worrying about the number of Palestinian babies being born: "With Palestinian frustrations rising — and demographers predicting an eventual Palestinian majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan — just saying no is not a viable option for Israel. The responsibility of the United States, as Israel’s most vital ally, is to keep that uncomfortable reality firmly in Israel’s sight."
"Cheney Says British Troop Withdrawal Is Positive Sign" (Is there any disaster or calamity that Mr. Cheney does not see as a "positive sign"?)
There are now many references to this in some Arab media; as if this was not common and known before. As if women did not love other women before. (thanks Laleh)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I did not like the new Ziyad Rahbani's CD for Tunisian singer, Latifa. My mother and sister loved it. But Tariq An-Nahl song in the musical by `Asi Rahbani titled Naturat Al-Mafatih is great--and the musical arrangement of the song (not in the version on the musical's CD) even imitated the sound of bees. The musical (in lyrical and musical cliches, not to mention messages and themes) is as vapid and silly as all the other `Asi Rahbani's musicals. (Notice that I don't use Rahbani Brothers anymore. I took the decision today. Let us end this charade NOW. It was all `Asi. You can attach Mansur's name to the immemorable songs that he wrote after `Asi's death, and that nobody can cite. (thanks Mirvat for sending me the books and CDs. Sometimes I feel spoiled and pampered. But then again: I deserve no less. Never mind.)
"Rice calls Mideast meeting 'productive'" (Angry Arab calls his last 2-hours visit to the dentist 'pleasurable').
"Study Shows 607% Rise in World Terrorism Post-Iraq War" (thanks Richard)
Dancing is illegal in Saudi Arabia, except for members of the royal family. (He is a good dancer, you have to admit, politics aside).
Reform in Saudi Arabia. The punishment of prisoners who violate prison rules in Saudi Arabia may be reduced to TEN LASHES ONLY. (But the number of lashes can still be increased).
"Israel could be on its way to resembling Sicily, retired judge Vardi Zeiler told Haaretz in an interview following Sunday's publication of a damning report on police and prosecution malfeasance by the inquiry committee he headed."
"IDF worried Hamas may have advanced missiles" (Arabs worried Israel ACTUALLY has a massive arsenal of WMDs).
Bush Doctrine in Somalia.
This is a particularly proud and glorious moment for the Israeli occupation army.
Fatwawawawa just in. An official Saudi mufti issues a fatwawawawa that women should not cut their hair. Good night. (thanks Haytham)
For those who care, I am speaking tomorrow at Cal Poly at St. Louis Obispo. My talk is at 7:00PM in Business Building 03, Room 213. On Thursday, I am flying down to Pomona College. I am speaking on the Israeli war on Lebanon at 1:00PM in Hahn 108 (420 N. Harvard Ave.). Beware: Pomona College only allows rich white students on campus.
"Three American women briefly kidnapped in West Bank"
Saudi newspaper, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, is thrilled. US diplomat (above) has converted to Islam to marry the Saudi director, Hayfa' Al-Mansur. The diplomat will now have to sign an authorization for his wife to be allowed to travel, according to Saudi laws.
"Rice invited security and intelligence chiefs from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to Amman for the talks to ask their advice on what, if anything, can be done further to persuade Hamas to back down. Tuesday's session at the government security headquarters in Amman included some of the region's wiliest and best-connected heavies, fixers and go-betweens, including Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman."
This just in. Mr. Bush accuses Nora the cat of masterminding the Iraqi insurgency.
In October 1987, Maronite Patriarch Sfayr visited France. He met with then prime minister, Chirac. Chirac (discussing Lebanese presidential politics with Sfayr), asked: "What do you think of Gen. (Johny) `Abdu? [Sfayr:] I hear that he is a good man, intelligent and educated; and that he is of Palestinian descent. His father came to Lebanon [from Palestine]..." Chirac sunk into noticeable silence and stared intently at Patriarch if the answer of Sfayr did not appeal to him." From Sa`d, Antoine, The Seventy Six, (Beirut: Jabalna, 2006), vol. 1, p. 121. This biography of Sfayr is authorized, and he made available to Sa`d his detailed, hand-written notes of all his meetings, and his diary. (He did not give him his hat collection though). `Abdu hosted in his own house meetings with Ariel Sharon during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and was quoted in some Israeli accounts as urging more massive bombing of Lebanon in 1982. He was hired by Hariri from the 1980s, and was a favorite presidential candidate for Rafiq Hariri, as Muhammad Hasanayn Hakal reported on AlJazeera. Notice in the funeral of his son in Paris two days ago, the entire Hariri family showed up to offer condolences. `Abdu's resume includes sending car bombs into West Beirut during the administration of Ilyas Sarkis.
On the suicide of Iraqi writer, Mahdi `Ali Ar-Radi. (Notice that this Saudi website felt obligated to note that he drank alcohol as if that leads to suicide).
Lebanese civilization update. Fu'ad Sanyurah (prime minister of little Lebanon) announced in the beginning of the cabinet meeting today (according to LBC TV) that the demonstration on February 14th was "civilized." He added that his tears are always civilized.
The PFLP was correct in deciding (finally) to refuse to join the new Hamas-Fath government. The PFLP has been acting very dizzy as of late (and quite incompetent too).
Flash. A new Fatwawawa: "It now seems that the issue will cause another very sensitive dispute this time, especially after Egypt's mufti sheikh Ali Gomaa came up with very bold opinions about hymenoplasty. Gomaa stressed that Islam dictates that we do not expose others, "which makes it legal for a girl who has lost her virginity, whatever the reason is, to have her hymen repaired, if this will help her safeguard her reputation". Despite the strong opposition to this fatwa, some people support it provided that it meets some Sharia conditions and that the issue is discussed at the jurisdictional level. This fatwa may help many girls, some of whom are repentant while others have lost their virginity because of rape or abduction. In such cases, hymenoplasty would safeguard their reputations and save their lives and futures." (thanks Diana)
"A news item appeared in the Iraqi Az-Zaman daily on Monday. The report will probably not receive wide coverage in the Western Press, but its contents may indicate a critical turn in the shape of the post-Ba`thi Iraqi state. The news item states that the “High Commission for National Reconciliation” will distribute forms to Iraqi state employees who lost their jobs due to the de-Ba`thification policies. The forms will allow these employees to return to service, be re-assigned, or receive pension benefits. The report also enumerated the institutions whose employees will be offered the re-assignment package. According to Az-Zaman, these included:

“The members of the Republican Guard, the Special Guard, the 1st Army Corps, the Office of the Presidency, the Military Intelligence, the Apparatus of Special Security, the members of General Security and other institutions.”"" (thanks Amer)
King of Jordan meeting with Rice today. The shining object between them is PlayStation 3.
There are some real technologically informed people on this site. So help me. I got that regular message where Outlook Express compacts your messages. So after replying yes, and when it was over, all the messages from 2007 in my inbox disappeared. Only the ones from 2006 and 2005 remained. How to restore the 2007 messages? Help NOW.
Martin Indyk was invited on Al-Jazeera's Ittijah Mu`akis. He is as interesting a guest as...watching Tony Danza on the Fishing Channel. And did you know that the Arab peoples have been appreciative of Bush's democracy efforts in the Middle East--that is according to Indyk?
4 Sri Lankan executed and then crucified in Saudi Arabia. This is the official announcement by the Ministry of Interior (bragging about the deed). (thanks Haytham)
PS The English version of the article in Saudi Gazette deleted any reference to the crucifiction.
"The Israelis take the view that Mr. Abbas arrived at Mecca weakened by the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip, in which forces loyal to Hamas took over northern Gaza and large parts of Gaza City. Fatah forces did not collapse, but they did not defeat Hamas and were perceived as weaker."
The Bush Doctrine: Mr. Bush continues to extend Taliban rule in Afghanistan: "Taliban insurgents seized control of a district in southwestern Afghanistan on Monday as the Afghan police abandoned their post and fled, officials said. The district is the second to fall into Taliban hands this month, and its capture underlines the precarious hold of the government and NATO troops in the remote districts of southern Afghanistan."
It is like magic. According to Saudi media, 690 persons from Saudi Arabia and from other countries of the world who "used to carry tafkiri thoughts and deviationist ideas" have abandoned takfiri thought after engaging in dialogue with (fanatic) Saudi Wahhabi clerics...on the internet. I am not making this up.
"Hunt for al-Qaida overshadows repression in Ethiopia, some fear" (thanks Laleh)
The dogs of Prince Turki bin `Abdul-`Aziz attack the face of a seven-year old Egyptian girl. Father sues. (thanks Haytham)
This is hilarious. Bush relying on Bandar to rescue him, is like mini-Hariri relying on Ahmad Fatfat to rescue him. Who will rescue whom is the question. "Can Bandar bail the United States out of the multiple crises it has stumbled into in the Middle East? Maybe not, but Washington's old friend may be one of the best bets a desperate Bush administration has going at the moment." (thanks Haytham)
"There's clearly an audience for Hirsi Ali in America too. The recently released "Infidel" (titled "My Freedom" in the Netherlands) has climbed to No. 6 on the New York Times best-seller list...But her facts are often subjective: at one point she characterizes "every devout Muslim who aspires to practice genuine Islam" as a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood. That may have been true in Hirsi Ali's experience, but it hardly speaks for the globe's 1.3 billion other followers. It's ironic that this would-be "infidel" often sounds as single-minded and reactionary as the zealots she's worked so hard to oppose."
"Among the Middle Eastern publics surveyed, the Lebanese are the most optimistic that Muslim and Western cultures can find common ground. More than two out of three (68%) Lebanese hold this view while only a quarter (26%) believes that violent conflict between Muslim and Western cultures is inevitable. The Lebanese overwhelmingly (78%) attribute current tensions between Islam and the West to conflicts over political power and interests rather than differences in religion or culture. Similarly, most Lebanese (59%) blame the tensions on intolerant minorities, whether such minorities are from both sides (24%), Western (20%), or Muslim (15%). Only about one-third (35%) of Lebanese believes these tensions are rooted in “fundamental differences between these two cultures.”"
"A generation of very young girls is being psychologically damaged by inappropriate "sexy" clothing, toys and images in the media that are corrupting childhood, leading psychologists warn today. They say marketing takes unfair advantage of children's desire for affection and the need to conform, leading to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression."
"But this month Cheney stayed out of the way as a top State Department negotiator wrapped up a nuclear agreement with North Korea -- a deal that many of the vice president's conservative allies consider foolhardy and that some of his own staff are said to find hard to swallow."

Monday, February 19, 2007

"In the Arab world, this hilly North African city is about as far as you can get from Iraq. But for many young men here, the call to join what they view as a holy war resonates loudly across the 3,000-mile divide.About two dozen men from Tetouan and nearby towns in the Rif Mountains have traveled to Iraq in the past 18 months to volunteer as fighters or suicide bombers, according to local residents and officials."
Nora, playing the piano.
"An Iranian website fiercely critical of the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been shut down in an apparent fresh crackdown on anti-government dissent on the internet."
"The opportunity to participate in the US-led effort to reconstruct Iraq as part of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq's government from April 2004 until June 2004, attracted all manner of Americans: restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon. To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for defence department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration. The selection often followed a call from a well-connected Republican on behalf of a friend or trusted colleague. Some people were personally recruited by the president."
"Fears of a "clash of civilisations" between the west and Islam may be exaggerated, according to a global survey that shows a majority of people see positive links between cultures and believe that politics rather than religion is the primary cause of international disputes. A Globescan poll of 28,000 people in 27 countries for the BBC World Service found the most common view to be that tensions between Muslims and the west arise from "conflicts about political power and interests" - endorsed by 52%. Three in 10 (29%) blamed "differences of religion and culture"."
"Nearly a century after it was founded, Israel's first and most famous kibbutz has voted to give up its early socialist ideals and to privatise itself." (And if you want to experiment with (bogus) socialism or with privatization, please try it on your own land.)
" One in six Europeans is living below national poverty thresholds, with children particularly vulnerable, according to the results of an official study."
"US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned."
Today, Iraqi writer, Mahdi `Ali Ar-Radi, hanged himself in his apartment in Damascus.
Saudi reformers sign a petition calling for elections. Three of the signatories were accused of funding terrorism.
I don't know why I remembered it today. I have posted this before, but wish to repost: The Story of an Iraqi boy who looks like George W. Bush.
Look at how they both are looking at Abu Mazen. Such appreciation--not admiration.