Friday, November 30, 2007

I am excited; I am thrilled.
My article in Al-Akhbar: "Rafiq Al-Hariri and the Formation of Islamic Rule in Lebanon"
Fatwawawa USA: "During the luncheon, the Fiqh Council of North America will present a fatwa, or religious edict, against terrorism and declaring that it is Muslims' duty to help prevent terrorism directed at Americans." (thanks Junaid)
"Saudi gang-rape victim goes public with account of police complacency, judicial insults" (thanks Nadim)
"YouTube suspends Egyptian blog activist's account" (thanks Jerome)
"Hariri family increases share in Arab Bank via small contributors" (thanks Nicholas)
"Three Palestinians, including two sick children, have died recently while waiting for resettlement from Iraq, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday." (thanks Marc)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Ghadry, who heads a Washington-based group called the Syrian Reform Party, hopes to be the man in charge one day in Damascus. When I met him, he had already been granted audiences with David Wurmser, Vice President Dick Cheney's top Middle East advisor and Perle protege, and with Cheney's daughter, Elizabeth, who headed the State Department's Iran-Syria desk from 2005 until last June. I asked Wurmser about Ghadry. Was he another Ahmad Chalabi, the checkered Iraqi exile whom the United States backed as a Saddam Hussein replacement in Iraq?" (thanks Yasmine)
And this: "Not only is he a dues-paying member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington..."
Is he honeymoon between Israel and House of Saud over? ""The notion that there is a moderate camp and an extremist camp, and that the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] and Israel, together with others, are in the first, while Iran, Hamas, Syria and Hezbollah are in the second -- is false," Jamal Khashoggi, a political analyst, wrote in the Saudi daily Al Watan. "The Kingdom, Iran, Syria, Hamas, together with Egypt, Jordan and every other Arab state, are part of a single camp linked by history, religion, language and the East. Israel is something different altogether."" Or is Saudi government competing with its rivals for the support of Arab public opinion?
"The security personnel of El Al Airlines descended upon me at Newark International Airport like a flock of vultures." (thanks A.)
"Ten Reasons to Suspect "Save Darfur" is a PR Scam" (thanks Laleh)
This is the 60th anniversary of the lousy UN partition plan of Palestine. Read Kermit Roosevelt, "The Partition of Palestine: A Lesson in Pressure Politics," The Middle East Journal, II, no. 1 (1948).
In the 1960s, Sudan had one of the most liberal democratic systems in the Arab world (and one of the largest communist parties in the region). Look at it now: "Anger and dismay as Sudan court jails teacher for 15 days for insulting Islam."
If you don't know the unprincipledness of Walid Jumblat you would have been surprised at his shifts and flip flops. A few weeks ago, he was referring to Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. This week, he is referring to them as "resistance." Today, he praised the Lebanese commander-in-chief of the Army because he said he "protected the resistance." A reliable source in Lebanon tells me that Jumblat's recent shift has to do with a large number of "visitors" to the mountains. Apparently, thousands of people from the opposition conducted a munawarah that seems to have scared him.
I am told that the Lebanese contingent that used to work for the failed Hurra TV resigned and most of them are joining the new Hariri news TV.
Petty minded Lebanonese standards. An-Nahar (the right-wing, sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people) newspaper) is bragging today that Lebanon is ranked--and we know how much Lebanonese care about ranking--third in "economic freedom"according to a Canadian outfit. We know what high marks in economic freedoms mean? Kuwait and Oman ranked ahead of Lebanon, laments An-Nahar. Let me see who ranks first in petty-mindedness and racism against foreign maids. I am sure Lebanon is number one, by far.
PS I swear, after posting this I saw another item in that newspaper. Their obsession with Lebanese ranking and mythical greatness knows no bounds. They claims that a Lebanese ranked first among 168 countries in designing a poster. Let me advise all the Lebanese who live outside of Lebanon: if you ever feel nostalgia for Lebanon, just read An-Nahar or watch LBC-TV. It will inoculate you against nostalgia.
This does it. This explains a lot about my anger. This is a very symptomatic article from the Saudi-controlled Arabic press. It is written by a Lebanese journalist (who specializes in praise for House of Saud, and was one of the pioneers). You have to read it. It is a tribute to the chief of Saudi mukhabarat.
Dear Rami Zurayq on the responsibilities of the lousy Lebanese state.
Syria's ambassador to the US, `Imad Mustafa, is a very nice guy and a very competent person. He is--as I told him a few times--somebody whose regime does not deserve. But I just read some of his comments about Annapolis. He was expressing his pleasure that Rice shook hands with members of the Syrian delegation in Annapolis. What? That is a sign of a US shift in policy because the Syrian regime agreed to come to a conference that is intended to ignore Syria and its Golan heights? Ya `Imad. Slow down, please. This reminds me of `Imad Fawzi Shu`aybi, the Syrian Ba`thist analyst, who said after the passage of UNSC 1559 that the resolution is not aimed at Syria because it does not mention Syria by name.
"Roger Cohen: Viva Mubarak, Fuera Chavez!" (thanks Ken)
Good Arabs; good boys. Notice that two people from the Dahlan shop in DC are quoted in the New York Times today. That can only prove that the Dahlan shop in DC has been cleared by the Israeli government. And notice that this brilliant expert here absolves Israel of blame; it was merely a problem of interpretation. "Rafi Dajani, executive director of American Task Force on Palestine, a group in Washington that advocates a negotiated settlement and Palestinian state, said all the previous efforts had stalemated because of the failure to police their initial agreements."
Notice how editors of the New York Times insert sentences to justify Israeli wars and crimes: "Mr. Kissinger’s memo, written barely two years after the 1967 Middle East war and while memories of the Holocaust were still vivid among the first Israelis, implicitly acknowledged Israel’s right to defend itself, as subsequent American administrations have done."
Nothing like a balanced approach to the Middle East. (thanks Amer)
Notice that this "expert" from the Dahlan lobbying arm in Washington, DC is dismissing the significance of unconditional US adoption of the Israeli position. And notice that the this Dahlan shop considers its support for a Palestinian state as its "pro-Palestinian" credential. Hell. Bush and Dahlan support a Palestinian state. "“Surprise! The U.S. is more attuned to Israeli interests,” said Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian negotiator who is the director of advocacy at the American Task Force on Palestine, a nonpartisan group that supports a Palestinian state." Even the New York Times noticed the bias of Bush, but not this brilliant "expert": " Mr. Bush’s speech, while calling for a Palestinian state and promising that he would do whatever he could to help things along, was notable in that he explicitly took on only one of the core issues, the fate of Palestinian refugees, and, on that issue, sided with Israel."
Whiny Zionism: " "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand?" she asked. "Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?""
Today, I noticed that Al-Arabiya TV (the mouthpiece of the son-in-law of King Fahd) referred to the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 as "the Israeli war on Hizbullah." Does that mean that all the children killed were fighters for Hizbullah too?
US propaganda outlet. Do you notice those propaganda clips (they are rather several minutes long) on Al-Arabiya TV? They only note that they are "advertisement materials" but they don't identify their source. They deal with issues related to Iraq but they all clearly read like the words were translated from English. Innocently.
""I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian," she said. "I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."" Spare me your words of fake sympathy. You don't understand anything.
"In response, Faisal said that his country opposed the kind of violent excesses that had occurred in Khartoum and had stopped all aid to Fatah "until assurances were received that Fatah would cleanse itself of bad ideas and practices." But the Saudis said they would not announce that publicly because "our Palestinian brothers would attack us with much bitterness.""
"Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him"
I have always told Palestinians in refugee camps: don't despair. Your time will come. ""If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz Wednesday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Palestinian child was hit by an Israeli missile in Gaza. His crime? He is a Palestinian from Palestine. (Reuters)

Abu Mazen in Washington, DC: Day II. (Reuters)
"In July 1969, while the world was spellbound by the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, President Richard M. Nixon and his close advisers were quietly fretting about a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Their main worry was not a potential enemy of the United States, but one of America’s closest friends. “The Israelis, who are one of the few peoples whose survival is genuinely threatened, are probably more likely than almost any other country to actually use their nuclear weapons,” Henry A. Kissinger, the national security adviser, warned President Nixon in a memorandum dated July 19, 1969."
"A Palestinian man was killed Tuesday in Hebron on the West Bank as Palestinian Authority police officers loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas fired weapons to disperse protests against the Middle East peace conference taking place in Annapolis, Md. In Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamic group Hamas, crowds estimated at more than 100,000 came out to protest the Annapolis meeting. The circumstances of the man’s death were not immediately clear, but medical workers said he had been shot in the chest, news media reported."
The New York Times is filled with "analysis" and quotations and citations as to why the Arab governments decided to attend. Some were saying that it was due to fear of Iran, others said it was fear of global warming, and other insisted it was fear of ghosts. The truth is much simpler. Arab governments, including Syria, decided to attend because they were summoned by master Bush.
"Covering up the trail of dead Iraqis: How the Pentagon has used "tactical perception management" to obscure the killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces." (thanks Zacharia)
Your history, bourgeoisie, is written here (thanks May)
"Yet, only days later, Bumiller reports, Rice and W. were alone in the Oval Office when he surprised her by asking her point blank about the war: “Do you think we should do this?” “Yes,” she told the president. That’s not statesmanship. It’s sycophancy."
"The Bush administration is turning Iraq into a test tube for modern techniques of repression, from sophisticated biometrics that track populations to devastating weapons systems that combine night-vision optics from drone aircraft, heat resonance imaging and deadly firepower from the sky to kill suspected insurgents." (thanks Laleh)
Nothing upset the New York Times more than the lack of Israeli-Saudi handshake. Here is Thomas Friedman: " Is it too much to ask the Saudis to make our job a little easier by shaking an Israeli leader’s hand?" And here is the editorial: "The refusal of Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, to shake hands with Mr. Olmert was a worrying reminder of how far many Arab countries still have to go."
"Iraq declined to attend the conference here, said the State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Romney Denies Vowing No Muslims In Cabinet"
""There is a feeling that all of us are exhausted by this," one Saudi explained."
"Unwanted in Syria, hundreds of Iraqi refugees return home"
"The Netherlands' largest trade union has shelved its plans to hold a Palestinian solidarity conference Thursday, the 60th anniversary of the UN vote on the Partition Plan. Last week's annulment, which ended concerns of a boycott against Israel, came after the Histadrut labor federation insisted it be invited, Haaretz has learned."
I don't like Ian Black's coverage of the Middle East. An American correspondent in the Middle East told me that he has a son serving in the Israeli occupation army.

"There is an enormous amount of land in Arab control all over the Middle East. And to say that it has to be on the West Bank or that it has to be in the Golan Heights, I think, limits the capacity to bring some type of resolution...This conflict isn’t new. It has been going on since all the way to the time of Abraham." (thanks Shaker)

How the Hariri family took control of the Arab bank.
Walid Jumblat admits that he has shifted his position (he called it a "reading" of the situation).
I have much to say about Annapolis but don't have the time. Preparation for the International Year of the Potato is consuming all my free time.
Wahhabi gimmick. Saudi Arabia suspends all classes next Saturday for 90 minutes in solidarity with the Palestinian people. (I wonder if students will be forced to recite tribute to Muhammad Dahlan).
Let me explain to you the position of the Syrian government toward Annapolis. The Syrian government is in favor of Annapolis while it opposes Annapolis.
In a new poll of the displaced people of Nahr Al-Barid among the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, 63% say that "nobody" represents them politically. (Hamas came second, and Fath third).
"When the Israeli leader finished his speech, Prince Saud politely clapped." (thanks Mohsen)

Abu Mazen in Annapolis. (Reuters)
Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah issues a fatwawawa on domestic violence. He categorically rules against violence by men against women, and rules against rebuking of women by men. He also permitted the woman to use violence against the man in self-defense. His entire ruling, however, can't be said to be feminist because he interprets the Qur'anic wilayah (guardianship) of males over females to assign a "responsibility" of the man in "managing the domestic household."
Ibrahim Al-Amin analyzes the recent (yet another) shift in Walid Jumblat's position. Did you notice that Jumblat referred to Hizbullah this week in Al-Anba' (his silly party's mouthpiece) as "resistance"? Let me predict. Hizbullah is about to be fooled by Jumblat, yet again. Hizbullah's political skills match those of...Hamas: both are so easy to fool.
Today, I watched the PFLP's `Abdur-Rahim Malluh speak on Aljazeera TV. He sounded like Abu Mazen.
Abu Mazen's forces "dealing" with a protester against Annapolis in Hebron. How dare he? Neither Fath, nor Hamas. (Reuters)
Did you notice that when Olmert was giving his speech in Hebrew today, he spoke of "those Palestinians" when he was speaking about the Palestinian refugees. His words were dripping with contempt.
"And the UN has designated [2008] the International Year of the Potato." (thanks Samer)
You know that Brazil and Senegal were also invited to the Annapolis conference. I mean you add Slovenia and you guarantee historic success. It is over. You may announce the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"Mr. Ackerman said Mr. Olmert also told the group that he would talk to the Arab states forcefully, that he was thrilled that they were at the conference and that if they wanted to help the process, they should step up to the plate and start the process of recognizing Israel."
Fair and balanced: the New York Times. Who can accuse the New York Times of bias on Arab-Israeli issues? I mean, look at this "analytical" piece. They interviewed three neutral observers: Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and John Bolton. Oh, and they talked to an unnamed Israeli official. If this is not fair and balanced, nothing is.
Do you notice how patronizing Bush and Olmert are toward Abu Mazen? They treat him like a child. When Ben Gurion first landed in Palestine he said that Arabs remind him of children.
Abu Mazen is citing the Qur'an as we speak. What is most interesting is that he cited the same verse in the Qur'an that Anwar Sadat cited to justify his peace treaty with Israel.
"Syed Ali was in Dubai interviewing expatriate workers for a book. The day before he was due to leave, six strangers arrived at his flat and took him to the police compound. A 13-hour interrogation lay ahead ..." (thanks Maryam)
This is historic. I should not have mocked Slovenian participation in the Annapolis conference. It was just announced that the Israeli leader and the Palestinian puppet leader have agreed and discuss the issues. This is big.
Did you notice that several guests who appeared on AlJazeera today were immediately interrupted when they started railing against the Annapolis conference?
Robert Malley, speaking on Fox News, was way too charitable about Bush's statement on the Middle East today. He surprised me.
The Washington, DC correspondent for Al-Arabiyya TV, Nadia Al-Balbisi complained on the air that US newspapers are not paying "the necessary attention" to the Annapolis conference. Is she afraid that Bush's feelings might be hurt?

Monday, November 26, 2007

"The Global Gender Gap Report 2007"
Orientalist Numerology. There is this piece by Bernard Lewis in the Wall Street Journal. At least he spared us his numerological analysis about the end of time. But he is so clueless, so out of touch: "There are signs of change in some Arab circles, of a willingness to accept Israel and even to see the possibility of a positive Israeli contribution to the public life of the region. But such opinions are only furtively expressed. Sometimes, those who dare to express them are jailed or worse." Do you notice that he still repeats Israeli propaganda claims from the 1960s and 1970s without realizing that even that propaganda was updated? They get jailed or worse for calling for peace with Israel? Arab leaders--all of them you brilliant numerologist--call for peace with Israel now. Unless Bernard Lewis meant to say that Arab leaders call for peace with Israel, and they they order themselves arrested and tortured or...worse. And Bernard Lewis is very original: he said that the return of the refugees mean 'the destruction of Israel." He forgot to add that Israel means the destruction of Palestine. Does Lewis think that we shall end our support for the right of the refugees to return AND be compensated because it may disturb him? (thanks Regan)
This is the peace process: "As peace negotiators meet in Annapolis, sanctions mean doctors in Gaza remain without medicine or equipment and 85% of the population rely on UN food aid."
"A British teacher is facing 40 lashes in a Sudanese jail if convicted of insulting Islam's prophet by letting children name a teddy bear Mohammed."
"His code name was “Carat,” and his working cover was as a cultural attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Beirut." (thanks Ziad)
I read that the Czech Republic has agreed to contribute $50,000 toward the formation of Rafiq Hariri's tribunal. I was just about to make a contribution of $1 to the tribunal, when I saw a vending machine--I was thirsty I must admit. So I did not alas make any contribution but may offer 50 cents later to defray some of the cost.
George W. Bush has the utmost respect for Abu Mazen. (Reuters)
Islam in the service of tyrants.
You will not read in the New York Times that Israeli ships shot at Lebanese fishermen in South Lebanon, and Israeli occupation forces continued to kill Palestinians. This is part of the Slovenian-sponsored festivities in Annapolis.
"First Israeli store to open in Dubai" (thanks Amina)
"Prince Bandar, the former Saudi ambassador to the US, who says there was no impropriety about a £1bn payment he received for brokering arms deals with BAE, has hired a former head of the FBI and a retired British high court judge to defend his position."
"That was the last Mr. Falah's family, friends, or colleagues would hear from him for the next 18 days. A gag order from an Israeli court forbade Mr. Falah to speak with his lawyer, his lawyer to speak with the press, and the Israeli press to cover his arrest." (thanks Amina)
""The Afghanis and Iraqis shaved their beards so as not to appear to be Middle Easterners.""
Israelis are taking lessons from silly Lebanese nationalists now. But let me tell those Israelis who were behind this gimmick: it is not the size of the flag that counts. (thanks Emily)
I can't stand the demagogue, Sa`ib `Urayqat (who tells members of his family that he will one day become president of Palestine--a member of that family told me). But he particularly annoys me when he refers to "President Bush's vision." This is like referring to the resistance efforts of Ahmad Fatfat.
"She was the messenger for Mr. Bush, who had adopted his hands-off policy in Middle East negotiations not only because of Mr. Clinton but because he was reluctant to make too many demands on Israel at that point in his term. So as Mr. Powell traveled from fruitless meetings with Ariel Sharon, then the prime minister, in Jerusalem and Mr. Arafat in Ramallah, Ms. Rice was constantly on the telephone admonishing Mr. Powell to slow down to avoid putting too much pressure on Mr. Sharon, Mr. Powell recalled....“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’”"
That is what I needed. Ignatieff, who supported the war on Iraq, now offers pearls of wisdom after a week in Israel: "After spending a week in Israel, listening to Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair and U.S. and Israeli security chiefs at the Saban Forum in Jerusalem and touring Israel's northern frontier with the Canada-Israel Committee, I think a deal is possible."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"If there was a single low point in American diplomacy in recent years, it may have been the Bush administration’s handling of the 2006 Lebanese war. For weeks, while Israel responded to Hezbollah’s abduction of two soldiers on July 12 by heavy bombing of Lebanon’s infrastructure and Hezbollah rained rockets on Israel, the United States blocked efforts to arrange a cease-fire. On July 21, asked why she had delayed going to the Middle East, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that the devastation represented “the birth pangs of a new Middle East — and whatever we do we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.” When the cease-fire finally came, on Aug. 14, more than 1,100 Lebanese and nearly 160 Israelis had been killed, and the pro-Western government of Lebanon had been badly weakened. There was no new Middle East."
"Stalin is, in fact, so cool that he’s often escaping from the secret police and Cossacks in drag, sometimes even in Muslim drag..."
This helped. Haytham found me a version of the song "From the Window, I will throw off myself to you....From the window." This version is so bad that it may cure me.
I wonder. Will the final communique from Annapolis contain a reference to...."From the window, I will throw myself off to you. From the window."
ومن الشباك لارميلك حالي ومن الشباك
"Dr. Asali is a leading Palestinian-American activist on Middle East issues...Dr. Asali is the author of numerous publications on the issue of Palestine and Israel." For some reason, these I could not locate those "numerous publications" on amazon. (thanks Yousef)
According to Syrian news agency, the Syrian president and the Iranian president agreed in a phone conversation that the Annapolis conference is destined to fail. In other news, the Syrian regime sent a representative.
""And she is also a Republican," he added. "That will enhance Stanford's public image, and in fact our image in our own eyes.""
Domestic violence in the Batata homeland.
`Umar Nashshabah on the "suicides" of foreign maids in Lebanon.
On the Ethiopian maid in Lebanon who tried to kill herself.
"Hussein had at least 55 secret meetings (all listed) with leading Israelis, including at least seven prime and foreign ministers." Shlaim is too sympathetic to the King. It bothers me. (thanks Amer)
""diplomatic consensus that a new Palestinian state should have a police force but no army"". Let me translate for you: this means that the new Palestinian petty state can shoot at Palestinians but can't shoot at Israeli invaders. (thanks Yasmine)
"James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, hailed the Arab decision to participate." In 1993, I read this clown praise the appointment of Martin Indyk to a high post in the US administration, and he added that Arabs don't have a problem with him. (Later Indyk returned the favor, and hired his son to work for him--how touching). I called Zogby and told him: Look. I respect your right to make a fool of yourself, and you do it with great regularity. But can you at least do it in your own name and not in the name of any Arab American? He said: can we meet and discuss this? I said: No. This man, it should be made clear, represents no more than himself---and the UAE dynasties.
I saw a short clip on the History Channel: it showed a CBS report from the 1960s from Vietnam. The reporter was Morley Safer. It was amazing. You compare the coverage then of US atrocities to the coverage today. You find the coverage of the press then in comparison to their coverage of present-day US wars to be so courageous and daring.
"Now Harris, author of "The End of Faith," is raising money to (putting it bluntly) keep Ali alive. It's an issue that unites Harris with evangelist Rick Warren, who offered to help after Harris e-mailed him." I wish that the civilian victims of US bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan get 1% of the coverage that Ali gets. (thanks Laleh)
Joan Baez said that whenever she used to go to protest events in the 1960s, people would ask her: Is Bob coming? And she would always say: No. Bob is not coming. He never came and he will never come, you morons. (This is in the Dylan documentary).
"John Howard, a staunch ally of Israel and America, has been swept from power after 11 years of conservative rule as Australians delivered a landslide victory to Labor on Saturday night." Did you notice that the New York times, upset about his defeat, attributed it to mere personality factors. When I hear silly commentaries like that, I only want to yell: "And from the window, I will throw myself off to you. And from the window...." (thanks Badis)
"While the personal and sectarian dynamics of Lebanese politics (including the declining role of Maronite Christians in Lebanon that has so incensed Michel Aoun and even the Maronite Patriarch) should not be underestimated in terms of prolonging the current crisis, it is the larger US project to reconfigure the Arab (as well as larger Muslim) region - and the resistance this has engendered - that has played the decisive role. In this sense, Lebanon's constitutional predicament and effective state of emergency reflects the US failure to impose its will, and mirrors similarly botched US interference in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."
The memoirs of Eric Hobsbawm. I was so eager to read the memoirs of this great Marxist historians that I could not wait to read it. Finished it on the plane last night. What a big disappointment. You can be a great historian and write a lousy memoirs. You don't even learn much about who he is from reading it. You learn some about the times but I would rather read his The Age of Extremes (a history of the 20th century). Now that is a fine piece of work. I think that the problems with this memoirs is this: to write a good memoirs 1) you need to think that you are somewhat interesting; 2) you need to be a good story teller; 3) you need to be comfortable talking about yourself. That does not apply here. Bobsbawm is too modest for this enterprise. But what a principled man he is. Several things struck me. First, I really enjoyed his attitude toward Israel and Zionism. He has utter contempt for Zionism, and his words drip with disgust when he writes about Israel. (He says: "I have no emotional obligation to the practices of an ancestral religion and even less to the small, militarist, culturally disappointing and politically aggressive nation-state which asks for my solidarity on racial grounds" (Interesting Times: A Twentieth Century Life, (NY: Pantheon, 2002, p.24). But he is such a powerful writer and eccentric in some of his views. He seems to have an aversion to sex: he at one point say that "rulers kept slaves adn the poor quiet by encouraging sexual freedom among them..." (p. 250). What was that? In fact, for much of history, the rulers enjoyed sexual freedoms and banned it for the masses. But look at him comparing demonstration to sex: "Next to sex, the activity combining bodily experience and intense emotion to the highest degress is the participation in a mass demonstration at a time of great public exaltation. Unlike sex, which is essentially individual, it is by its nature collective, and unlike the sexual climax, at any rate for men, it can be prolonged for hours. On the other hand, like sex, it implies some physical action--marching, chanting slogans, singing--through which the merger of hte individual in the mass, which is the essence of the collective experience, finds expression."(p. 73). Well, I can only say that in the few demonstrations that I have participated in, I did not experience that pleasurable sensation described by Hobsbawm. At times I felt that he holds that dogmatic Marxist-Leninist puritanical attraction to ascetism in the revolution. I am not for that at all; never was. Even his references to the 1960s (which he describes as the Golden Age in the Age of Extremes), are filled with disrespect for the hedonistic elements. It was hilarious to read that the owner of the Mars (the chocolate bar that is breaded and fried in Scotland) company called him and asked him to assist the company in its ad campaign.(p. 89). I liked what he said about Bob Dylan: "a potential major poet too idle or self-absorbed to keep the muse's attention for than two or three lines at a time" (p. 252). I always liked Dylan and was crushed when I learned about his funding fanatic Zionist groups. Did you see Scorsese's documentary about Dylan? Fascinating. He talks about visiting occupied Palestine: "The Israeli Jews made no secret of their contempt for "the Arabs", especially before 1987, when their intifada had not yet broken the passive acceptance of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. It was a strange but instructive experience to be treated as one of them on my visit to the West Bank in 1984, the only time I have found myself living under the rule of a foreign military."(p. 366). I recommend all the books of Bobsbawm but I don't recommend his memoirs unfortunately. And if you want to make sense of the ideological consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union, read his two essays in Robin Blackburn, After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism, Verso.) Oh, one more thing: "And from the window, I will throw off myself to you. And from the window..."
ومن الشباك, لارميلك حالي, ومن الشباك
There is an article in Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, on "Oprah Humphrey."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lebanon is without a president, Slovenia is getting ready to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and I can't kick this song out of my head: "And from the window, I will throw off myself to you.."
ومن الشباك, لارميلك حالي...
"Pope to purge the Vatican of modern music." But he promised to preserve the songs of `Ali Ad-Dik.
If Abed is afraid, I am afraid: "My driver, Abed, who has loyally travelled with me across all the war zones of Lebanon, is frightened to drive by night."
"For more than a decade, the writer Taslima Nasrin has been fighting; fighting against the courts, fighting to be heard and fighting for her life. Last night, the Bangladeshi-born author was struggling again as violent protests in one city – and the purported threat of further violent protests in another – saw her shuttling across India to avoid angry Muslims who have accused her of insulting Islam. "I have no place to go. India is my home and I would like to keep living in this country until I die," the Sakharov Prize winner told The Hindu newspaper. "Here in this country, I have got the love and sympathy of the people for which I am grateful."" (Unlike Hirsi Ali, American Enterprise Institute will not host her because she is not a right-winger.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Angry Arab crooner. When I was a child, I always sang. I memorized songs by Fayruz and others. My mother kept encouraging me by saying that I sing well. When I was eight, she asked me to join the singing chorus at IC (my school in Beirut). I went to the teacher, Ms. Kusa, and sang a bit. She said let me see you sing with the group. We started singing this song:
قديش كنا يا عيوني نلعب تحت الزيتوني
نغمض عينينا ونقول من نقفك يا زيتوني
(O my eyes, how we played under the olive tree; we would close our eyes and say: who struck [there is no way on earth you can translate the word naqafa--which only proves the richness of the Arabic language] o olive tree?). As soon as the chorus started singing, Ms. Kusa listened carefully and said that somebody is singing off, the whole tune. She asked us to sing again, and the same error was detected. This time she zeroed in on me and said: "As`ad. Leave the chorus. You don't sing well." I left home crying. I cried more at night--but not as much as Sanyurah cried when Israel invaded Lebanon).
I can easily imagine Lebanon without a president. But I can't--just can't--imagine Lebanon without a Minister of Sports and Youth, especially when the Minister is none other than Ahmad Fatfat.
""You can imagine how much people like you here and respect you," Peres told..."
"Israel welcomes Saudi Arabia's planned attendance at peace summit." Now you can all rest. Go to sleep NOW.
I swear: I received this in an email message. I started reading without noticing the byline. I thought for a second that this was from a speech by a US official until I realized it was an article by Raghidah Dirgham. Just read the first paragraph. (thanks Mounzer)
"Passage of the Land Acquisition Act in 1992 finally permitted a more flexible approach to land reform, but progress continued to be constrained by outside pressure. Despite real progress, by the time the latest round of land reform was launched, 70 percent of the richest and most productive land still remained in the hands of a mere 4,500 white commercial farm owners. Meanwhile, six million African peasants eke out a precarious existence on small farms averaging 3 hectares [1 hectare = 2.47 acres] in the "communal areas," formerly native reserves. Due to the historically imposed overcrowding in the communal areas, the already barren land was further depleted by deforestation and over-grazing. (4) Over one million landless blacks were engaged as hired labor on white commercial farms, condemned to work for low wages on the land their ancestors once owned. (5) Agriculture is the most significant sector of Zimbabwe's economy. Western news reports encourage the view that land reform is harming economic performance, implying that efficient farming is best left in the hands of 4,500 wealthy white farmers, while ignoring the millions of blacks barely able to survive. The unspoken assumption is that only white farmers are capable of efficiency. The concern expressed in the West for "efficiency" is in reality a mask for the preservation of white privilege. Temporary economic dislocation is an unavoidable byproduct of land reform, but genuine and lasting progress can only be achieved through land redistribution. In the West, the gross imbalance imposed by colonial theft is accepted as the natural order in Zimbabwe, with the indigenous population lacking any claim to the land. Fast track land reform is intended to rectify historical injustices and to ensure a more equitable division of the land." (thanks Tanweer)
"The sole recommendation that Jacques Chirac took from the Stasi commission was the law banning the headscarf." (thanks Alex)
The clown: "Kadhafi veut installer sa tente de bédouin à l'hôtel Marigny"
There is a classical Arabic song. It goes like this: "And from the window, I will throw myself off to you. I am sleepless from worrying about you."
Egyptian artist George Bahjuri.
"The last time Lebanon was without a president was in 1988, toward the end of the civil war. Then the candidate was Mikhail Daher, and U.S. efforts to get him elected were led by Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy. A line attributed to him remains famous here: "It's Mikhail Daher or chaos." In the end, it wasn't Daher, and it was chaos for two more years, as rival governments claimed legitimacy amid some of the war's bloodiest episodes. (Murphy has never claimed the quote. "Too pithy for me," he said.)" But I once asked Murphy if he had actually said those words and he said yes.
PS It is such a small world. Murphy later worked as a "consultant" for Rafiq Hariri, and his wife worked for Hariri Foundation. (thanks Mick)
Samir `Atallah: in his own words. Typical Lebanese media hypocrisy. Look how this Lebanese journalist (one of the early propagandists of House of Saud) wrote about the Syrian regime in 2001--defending the regime against his critics--and look how he writes now--when new orders arrived.
A tribute to Ian Smith from Saudi Wahhabi liberal, `Adil Darwish (in the mouthpiece of Prince Salman bin `Abdul-`Aziz--not to be confused with the mouthpieces of other royal princes). I can only imagine how this guy talks about black people in private.
There is an old saying in Texas: Diddle [fool] me once, shame on you. Diddle me twice, shame on me. I read that Nabih Birri is mediating between Walid Jumblat and Hizbullah. Let me guess. Walid Jumblat is about to diddle Hizbullah thrice.
The Dubai miracle: "On November 17, the Dubai authorities summarily gave Geo Television and ARY Digital two hours to halt broadcasting after persistent pressure from the Pakistani government. Both channels, which are registered in Dubai, have been off the air in Pakistan since November 3, when cable operators were instructed to end transmissions. But the channels had continued to broadcast on satellite and the internet until they were shut down on Saturday by the Dubai government."
Look at this crime page of the Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal. They manage to insult the Syrian and Palestinian people in their headlines. They also printed the news of the suicide (by rope) of a maid from Bangladesh. Usually, this rag makes a joke about such suicides.
Lebanon's real problem. The problem of Lebanon is not that there is no president. The real problem is that there is no republic and no homeland.
Flash. This is why I read Hariri media. Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, reports that Russian officials were so impressed with mini-Hariri's "stance, positivism, amicability, and flexibility." But were they not impressed with his intellectual brilliance?
"When Suri asked Kissinger, in an interview for his book, to state his ‘core moral principles – the principles you would not violate’, Kissinger said he was ‘not prepared to share that yet’." (thanks Amina)
Say hi to Nuri Al-Maliki. He thinks he runs Iraq. (Don't tell him the truth. It will hurt his feelings.) (AFP)
Ibrahim Al-Amin explains the yet another shift in Walid Jumblat's position.
Try the Fraisier and bless me.
The Fatwawawa Industry. " "I didn't issue a fatwa then. It was just an answer to a question in a lecture at a university where I was talking to the youth." He added that the Dar will always be Egypt's highest authority on Islamic law. He said it issues around 1,000 fatwas a day, denying that its rulings are influenced by politics and that they never raise issues but instead answer questions. "There is no basis for what is called politicising fatwas." (thanks Hicham)
"A 15-YEAR-old girl was put in a Brazilian jail cell with more than 20 men, and for a month was raped relentlessly and forced to have sex for food, human rights groups say." (thanks Sarah)
"A few days before Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte traveled to Islamabad last week to impress upon General Pervez Musharraf the need to restore democratic rule in Pakistan, another American envoy quietly landed in the capital to chat with the Pakistani president and army chief. With the blessing of Washington, Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress’s Council for World Jewry, traveled halfway across the globe for a face-to-face meeting with Musharraf, who he had hailed two years ago as a courageous leader and driving force in Jewish-Muslim dialogue." (thanks Laleh)
"An Egyptian Christian woman has been jailed for three years because her father's brief conversion to Islam 45 years ago made her legally a Muslim while her official papers said she was Christian, her lawyer said Thursday."
Slovenia and the End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Why did not anybody think of this before. On the brilliance of Bush's foreign policy team. So I wanted to read the list of 45 invitees to the useless Annapolis conference next week. I learned that Slovenia was invited. That really changed my outlook about the conference. I mean, with Slovenia present, how could the parties fail to reach an agreement. As I told my class last week: it is fair to expect the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict with Bush presiding. I mean with his brain powers and the attendance of Slovenia, how could they not agree on everything. Expect people in the Middle East to dance in the streets by next Friday. Also, the Saudi foreign minister said that Saudi Arabia will attend only because of Arab consensus and that his government had "reservations." Reservations? When you are willing to increase oil production according to the wishes and interests of the US administration even if it goes against the interest of your country, you talk to me about "reservations"? I can speak of Arab popular reservations regarding the very existence of your kingdom. Finally, I was thinking of this last week. Would any of you be surprised if it turns out that Bin Laden is hiding in one of the royal palaces in Saudi Arabia? Really. Finally (II), now that Sudan is also invited to the silly conference, does that also mean that Darfur crisis will also be resolved also due to the presence of Slovenia? And why can't Slovenia intervene in the Lebanese presidential crisis?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

" Giuliani, Robertson, Israel and Thanksgiving"
"Around 60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya, according to files seized by American forces at a desert camp."
"The Taliban has a permanent presence in 54% of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into Taliban hands, according to a report by an independent thinktank with long experience in the area." (thanks Sean)
There are no good French patisseries in the US. There is one in Georgetown in Washington, DC and it is not any good. Well, I discovered one. Paul in Sunrise, Florida (near Plantation, Florida near Fort Lauderdale, Florida).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My article in Al-Akhbar: "The Left and Religious Movements"
"Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi, a lawmaker and the secretary-general of the Palestinian national initiative, on Wednesday said that the IOA is exercising the policy of "revolving doors", explaining that the number of Palestinian people kidnapped by its troops during the last two months was more than the number of prisoners it promised the PA to release." (thanks Yasmine)
"At Jets Game, a Halftime Ritual of Harassment" (thanks Ema)
Ericcson paid Jamal Khaddam, son of `Abdul-Halim Khaddam, 4 millions to help them in Lebanon. (thanks anonymous)
You have to read the New York Times' obituary of Ian Smith. Read the last two paragraphs. You clearly get the impression that the writer is sympathetic with the racist argument of Smith.
I heard the Jordanian Interior Minister, `Id Al-Fayiz, speak. What a gifted man. He said that the parliamentary "elections" in Jordan were characterized by "smoothness, honesty, and transparency" and that they were conducted at the "highest level of neutrality and precision"--whatever that means. Jordan is a country where I harbor the same hostility and contempt for both: the government and the Islamist opposition. to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Returning on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy.""
Today, mini-Hariri visited Moscow. He called for a peaceful resolution to the Cold War. He called on the Soviet leadership to remove the nuclear missiles from Cuba, and praised the reforms of chairman Nikita Khrushchev. He wanted to visit Lenin, but said that he could not find his house.
James Zogby's shop (an (allegedly) unofficial outlet for UAE dynasty) praises the efforts of Gary Ackerman, one of the most fanatic Zionists in Congress.
"U.K. left wing sees one-state solution to Israel-Palestinian conflict"
I swear. Some in the British media are nostalgic to the days of Ian Smith.
The US government and human rights in Saudi Arabia: strong words.
"QUESTION: Sean, do you link that case to sort of the broader issue of reforms in Saudi Arabia which you've been pushing for in the past several years, not only in Saudi Arabia but in the whole region, in Egypt and other countries? You've talked about democracy. This is more about human rights, I suppose. But do you link these -- this case to the broader issue of the reforms in the Kingdom at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: The process of change in Saudi Arabia is one that's going to take place over time. And we have talked about the importance of changes within the -- changes in the ability of all citizens of the region, including Saudi Arabia, to participate in the formulation of the laws, the direction that the Kingdom will take, the direction that countries in the region are going to take. Once you have that, once you have the able for all the citizens to participate and have a say in that, then they are going to have to really navigate the various issues that are before them. And they're going to have make some -- make decisions about very basic societal issues and what their norms are. It's going to vary from country to country. So we're not going to try to dictate social norms to various countries. We think it's essential that every individual enjoy basic universal rights that we believe every person on the planet should enjoy, and those include freedom of expression, freedom to choose freely one's leaders. The Saudi Government has committed itself to a pathway of reform, as have other states in the region. That pathway of reform is going to -- each of those states is going to go down that pathway at its own pace, though.
QUESTION: Is your comment about this particular case, though, driven by a desire not to offend Saudi Arabia as a close ally, particularly on the eve of the --
MR. MCCORMACK: No, it's -- no, that's not it at all. Look, you have a situation that I think most individuals, for example in our country, just don't understand. We don't understand how something like this could happen. That said, these kinds of decisions are going to have to be decisions that the people of that country, in this case Saudi Arabia, are going to have to take for themselves. We can express our views about that, but ultimately it's going to be up to the individual countries to decide whether or not they are going to take into account the views from the outside world.
QUESTION: When you say, Sean, we have expressed our astonishment, does that -- is that just from you from the podium or has a representation been made to the Saudi Government that --
MR. MCCORMACK: I am not aware of any direct contact with the Saudis on this issue.Yeah."
Walid Jumblat appreciates US support for "Lebanon."
A report in As-Safir on foreign domestic workers.
Jihad Bazzi on abuse of foreign maids in Lebanon (thanks Hicham)
A clown who wants to be taken seriously is very annoying. Steve Martin, for example.
"Scientists often note that an ant’s strength to lift many times its weight actually depends on its small size, not on any special muscular equipment. With an exoskeleton, the smaller the insect is, the less burden it has in supporting its own tissue, and thus it can routinely lift proportionally larger burdens."
"Three decades ago, adjuncts — both part-timers and full-timers not on a tenure track — represented only 43 percent of professors, according to the professors association, which has studied data reported to the federal Education Department. Currently, the association says, they account for nearly 70 percent of professors at colleges and universities, both public and private."
The BBC asks: "Does Islam have a sense of humour?" Imagine if that question is asked about another religion. And who is funnier? Islam or Judaism? (thanks Ema)
Ziyad Rahbani offers his advice.
"Still worse, the editorial does not mention the most “peculiar” outcome of his legacy — the squandering by subsequent leaders, at home and abroad, of the historic possibilities he created for Russian democracy and American-Russian relations. And, not surprisingly, you are equally silent about The New York Times’s past enthusiasm for the post-Gorbachev policies of the 1990s, in Moscow and Washington, that wasted those opportunities."
New York Times and the validation of the Bush Doctrine. I have not read such a piece of propaganda since I read about that humanitarian gesture when the Saudi King helped a man to the stage during the OPEC summit. I grew up in a civil war-torn country and you learn that civil war is not a non-stop event: it has its ups and down, and people do menage to get married and drunk and celebrate while the civil war is going on. The article said that this was based on "more than 50" interviews (that means 51 interviews to be exact). How did the New York Times find them? Were they arranged by the Abu Risha family, or where they located by a security firm based in the US? So if people eat desserts in Iraq now, it is proof that Bush is making progress in Iraq. We will live in a time in the future when people will look back and regard the New York Times the way we today regard Saudi media. And notice this: "The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says."

Monday, November 19, 2007

"The military can indefinitely hold suspects considered security risks in Iraq. "Even if he comes out the other side with an acquittal — as we certainly hope and trust that he will — there is not guarantee that he won't go right back into detention as a security risk."
"THE United States has far more juveniles serving life terms than any other country — 2387. Israel, the only other country that imprisons juveniles for life, according to a new study by the University of San Francisco's Centre for Law & Global Justice, has seven..." (thanks Badis)
"Is it possible that Israel is really planning to build a road on the border of Jerusalem that is half-Israeli and half-Palestinian, with a wall in the middle? No, it is not just planning to do so. The truth is that the highway with the wall in the middle is already in an advanced stage of construction. Last Friday, attorney Danny Seidman of the Ir Amim association took me to see the Defense Ministry's latest innovation: a binational highway with an ethnic divider." (thanks Yasmine)
"Despite the fact that Iraq and U.S. officials have made water projects among their top priorities, the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war, according to an analysis by Oxfam International last summer. The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation was even worse -- 80 percent." (thanks Laleh)
"Iraqi soldiers detained two US security guards along with other foreigners in a private convoy after the guards opened fire in Baghdad, wounding one woman." Let me guess. The US security guards will be free before the end of the week.
"mardi 20 novembre"
"When will the US and the UK tell the truth about Israeli weapons?" Ehhhhh, never?
But I have to admit that such an article would never appear in a US newspaper.
This is a new feature on the indispensable Electronic Intifada. Hicham provides a reliable selection and commentary of Lebanese newspapers. (This one includes a translation of a section of my article on social justice in Lebanon).
On Fox News, I watched Bill O'Reilly talk to a person with deep "strategic knowledge". The expert called for bombing "the Biqa` valley in Syria." O'Reilly said that he agreed that the US should "bomb the Biqa` valley in Syria." These are the people who probably order King Pao Chicken at Indian restaurants.
Chutzpah. Now nobody mocks Lebanon and Lebanonese more than me. But give me a break NOW. This propagandist of House of Saud, `Abdur-Rahman Ar-Rashid (director of Arabiya TV), has the audacity to mock elections in Lebanon. Yes, Mr. propagandist. We have a lot to learn from the way Saudi Arabia picks its leader. Teach us, please.
I have been critical of Abu Mazen. But I have to say this: if I were to cast somebody in the role of puppet of Israeli occupation, I would not find a better candidate than Abu Mazen. Really. Just look at him. And look at the expressions on the face of Olmert: I can even read them. He is saying: Good boy. Good boy. Now sit NOW.
Tomorrow, Gen. Musharraf will visit Saudi Arabia and meet with the Saudi King. According to Hariri media, the Pakistani dictator will take few tips about the construction of democracy from the Saudi royal family.
"Parliamentary" elections in Jordan are as unpredictable and suspenseful as elections in Saddam Husayn's Iraq.
The Hariri Center for Shi`ite Studies. (Formerly, Hani Fahs ran the Yasir `Arafat Center for Shi`ite Studies).
Presidential Election: Tabbulah Style. Lebanon is having a presidential crisis. I don't know who the next president will be. But I know this: the Lebanese people are the least influential in the selection of their president. As usual: foreign powers will decide who the next president will be. In fact, why not have an official election in which the real voters cast their ballots: Syria, US, Saudi Arabia, France, Iran, Italy, and Egypt?
Najwa Qasim is now a prominently featured anchorperson at Al-Arabiya TV. Al-Arabiya TV has a problem that has been pointed out in Arab media: unlike Aljazeera, the network has not produced one star. Muntaha Ar-Ramahi (formerly of AlJazeera) is the most well-known but she does not compare to Aljazeera's "stars"--without commenting on whether it is good or bad to have stars. So Al-Qasim (formerly a Hariri TV reporter) tries to distinguish herself by these constant chit-chats and attempts at humor. She is very unfunny. Somebody needs to tell her that. She jokes in every news hour and she has never once been funny. If I were her, I would suspend all attempts of humor at once. Or, she may warn viewers that she is about to joke and then we can flee. Yet, she was dead serious when she "reported" on the humanitarian gesture of King `Abdullah when he helped a man to the stage at the OPEC summit. Where is the oxygen mask when you need it?
Looting in Nahr Al-Barid. (thanks Emily)
Bush Doctrine Update: "Islamist insurgency grows in Somalia"
"The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees launched a scathing attack today on a new Israeli plan for a system of checkpoint terminals across the occupied West Bank. Karen AbuZayd, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said Israeli authorities had told them of plans to install six specially built terminals to check people and cargo, including aid deliveries. She said it would hamper the agency's work and dramatically raise costs. "An insidious new regime to limit freedom of movement is threatening to further stifle economic activity and smother social interaction between villages and towns in the West Bank," AbuZayd said today at a meeting of UNRWA donors in Amman, Jordan."
Al-Arabiya TV news today is beginning with this headline: "Normal life is returning to Baghdad." This must be an exclusive scoop for this Saudi station.
Look at this main headline in the New York Times: "U.S. Says Attacks in Iraq Fell to the Level of Feb. 2006." This is like an alcoholic bragging: I have not had one drink since early morning.
"Fifty-six percent of Americans view Israel as a strong and trusted ally of the U.S., with a similar number agreeing that Israel is serious about wanting to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Among Americans who believe that the chances for peace have declined, 47 percent blame the Palestinians, whereas 23 percent say that Israel is responsible." (As is well-known, the American public is known for its wide and deep knowledge of world affairs, and for its close attention to foreign news.) (thanks Sellam)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"In Praise of the House of Saud" (in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat by a UK Times reporter).
For some reason, the marathon in Lebanon is 10 km only.
The Syrian government today banned But the Syrian government has not yet banned
Kuwaiti Emir was warmly received by a Saudi official upon arriving for the OPEC summit. (thanks Kamal)
Talal and I were talking about this in LA last week. We need somebody to do a PhD dissertation on the Beirut's Intra Bank crisis of 1966. I still can't believe that there has not been an in-depth academic study of the story. This is a most interesting story with so many dimensions, and so many local, regional, and international players. I remember as kid when Lebanese TV ran the propaganda series, FBI. Lebanese joked at the time (yes, Arabs do joke on occasions when they are not throwing shoes at one another) that FBI stands for "fallas bunk intra" (Intra Bank Has gone Bankrupt).
Kamal responds to Nayif Hawatimah's lies and fabrications.
Those two are hilarious, no?
"After being refused entry to Israel for four months, young Palestinian cancer patient dies Saturday. 'Shin Bet's policy means death,' say Physicians for Human Rights"
Today, Al-Arabiya TV reported that OPEC leaders held a discussion on climate change and global warming. I would like to see and hear the Saudi King discussing environmental issues. Hell. I would be impressed if I see for myself that the Saudi King is able--without assistance--to pronounce the word environment. That would be mightily impressive indeed.
Today, many Lebanese TV stations are reporting that Michel Iddi is being promoted by the Maronite Patriarch as a candidate for president. You may learn about my encounter with him at the house of Talal Salman 3 years ago.
PS But he is one of the most impressive experts on Arabic cuisine. He can describe to you in great detail how Mulukhiyyah should be prepared.
"MTV says it hopes to respect local culture without diluting its brand."
"If Larsen's influence on the SG prevails in tandem with the US's continued reliance on military confrontations and divisive diplomacy, then the region will be at war for years to come and the UN as a whole will continue its dangerous spiral towards illegitimacy in a region whose people increasingly identify the UN with US policies."
""When Musharraf has made decisions and given his word, as he did after 9/11, he has been true to his word," national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley said. "So there is a track record we have with this man.""
"PA to U.S.: We'll accept..." ANYTHING.
"'Washington is 200 per cent behind me,' Musharraf claims during crucial talks." This really surprised me. I thought that Washington was 300 per cent behind him.
"The Turkish delegation that visited Jerusalem in March to inspect the excavations at the Mughrabi Gate near the Temple Mount has concluded that the work is destroying artifacts from different historic Islamic periods" (thanks May)
"It has now been largely forgotten that the Giuliani-supporting Fox News and the Wall St. Journal Op-Ed Page actually spent weeks and weeks last year hysterically warning everyone that August 22, 2006 was some secret, special date in 12th Imam Islamic theology when Iran might be planning to attack the U.S. and end the world. The title of one of Sean Hannity's Fox segments: "Could Aug. 22 Be the End of the World Thanks to Iran?" And here is what "Islamic scholar" and revered neocon "historian" Bernard Lewis wrote in the WSJ:" (thanks Frank)
"Her “saviour” Debbie Rodriguez, an American hairdresser who founded a salon in Kabul and turned the story into a best-selling book, had rescued her from death threats in the Afghan capital and promised her a new life in San Francisco. However, according to Hossein, she has been abandoned in India while Rodriguez, who drew on the private suffering of her salon girls for the book, has gone on to make a fortune." (thanks Laleh)
"My faith is in the power of people to write history." I agree. And the Palestinians have written you out of their history. But look at what impressed the British reporter: "With an English wife and a fancy foreign education..." (thanks Kamal)
"The result is a documentary that dares to journey into waters seldom treaded by other filmmakers, by traveling right to the core of the ideological debate that lies behind the war on terror and investigating what the Arab people actually think, believe and desire -- independent of media bias."
"Up to two-thirds of the 77 people killed and 100 wounded in a suicide bombing last week were hit by bullets from visiting lawmakers' panicked bodyguards, who fired on a crowd of mostly schoolchildren for up to five minutes, a preliminary U.N. report says."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"The first lady was happy when she received the gift." A Saudi woman on Al-Arabiya TV on meeting Laura Bush and giving her a Saudi head cover (not to be confused with the Persian carpet head cover that was donned by Karen Hughes in moments of acute cultural sensitivity to Muslims).
"Lebanon remains an important part of the Middle East mosaic...."
Lebanese singer `Azar Habib died. I liked his voice. His songs were similar in tunes but they were sweet. He was a Lebanese civil servant who sang on the side. In the era of Prince Walid's control of Arab taste, there was no room for Habib. I have his CDs.
Khalid Saghiyyah skillfully defines the leftist outlook of Al-Akhbar. To his pride, he states that the paper has never ever praised any Arab or Middle East leader. Never.
This is from the lead of Al-Arabiya TV's main newscast: "And in a noticeable humanitarian gesture, the Saudi King was seen helping Walid Khadduri to the stage." I kid you not. Video footage did indeed show the Saudi King touching the arm of Walid Khadduri, who received some OPEC award. (Is Walid Khadduri not a former Arab nationalist?)
Hi. We came to win your hearts, minds, and livers. Smile, damn it.
"Some witnesses say that Fatah partly provoked the violence. Soma Abu Aisha, 40, a Fatah supporter who was at the rally, said that what first angered the police was the removal of a Hamas flag from the top of a mosque minaret and its replacement with four Fatah flags. Also, she said that there was “shooting in the air from Al Azhar,” the university affiliated with Fatah, and that “once they shot, Hamas responded, then Fatah shot toward the Islamic University,” which is affiliated with Hamas. But many Gazans said they were shocked by the reaction of the Hamas policemen, which included the indiscriminate use of live fire to disperse the crowd."
"A tribal group tapped by American forces to root out extremists here said Friday that more than four dozen of its members were killed during United States air and ground strikes north of the capital this week."
This is the Saudi press: a tribute to Anwar As-Sadat. (Notice that Zionists, when they talk about Sadat, ignore his Nazi and anti-Semitic ideology, and they ignore the fact that he was a dictator).
"Law professor Alan Dershowitz has become notorious since 2001 for his advocacy of legalizing torture and his insistence that it is fully constitutional as long as it is not used to compel self-incrimination. He has also been arguing since 2004 for a pre-emptive attack on Iran" (thanks Nader)
Lessons in Arab culture: "THE lowly shoe is considered a degrading weapon in Egypt. To be beaten with a shoe adds insult to injury." What is it with Western obsession with shoes and Arab culture. I mean, I admit I am obsessed with socks and Western culture but I try to hide that obsession.
"The shopping list is lavish, including a BMW, a thermal night vision kit for a Hummer, ivory tusks and two karaoke machines. A British court released details of the list and ordered Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf to pay $6.3 million to reimburse a personal assistant for hundreds of items bought on the Saudi royal's behalf." (thanks John)
"Prouty was assigned a sensitive post in Baghdad, NBC News has learned" (thanks Laleh)
"The suit claims that during the brief meeting with the doctor, Farah and her escort were not asked a single question and did not receive any explanation about the method of treatment. There was no physical examination. This week, Walach said: "I don't remember the case that well."" (thanks Ashraf)
This is an actual headline from Haaretz: "Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them" (thanks Alaa)
"Military regimes in Pakistan have largely suceeded in controlling student activism. But will it last?" (thanks Basim)

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Milson is today chairman of the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)." This long expose leaves out any mention to Milson's "service" in the West Bank. (thanks Laleh)
"AMY GOODMAN: To sign on the King of Jordan as a client?
WAYNE BARRETT: Yes. Well, that’s what the King of Jordan says, yes." (thanks David)
""As long as the U.S. gives diplomats immunity for enslaving their domestic workers without taking any steps to protect them or provide redress, diplomats can continue to exploit their domestic help," said Claudia Flores, an attorney with ACLU Women's Rights Project." (thanks Sara)
"I'm not a selfish or greedy man. I am doing this for"...the US.
"Israel's economic blockade stops Gaza's strawberry-farmers selling their crop"
"Israeli companies are using UK property shows to sell housing in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank"
"One posed for a photo as she scrubbed a Palestinian corpse. Another stripped a man to his underwear and then beat him. A third helped cover up the abuse of a young boy." Notice that they manage to make the torturers as victims in anguish. Typical of such media. (thanks Nicole)
"Senior aides to Britain's Prince Charles said there is "no chance" the prince would ever visit Israel as such a visit would boost Israel's international image." (thanks Sellam)
"Gulf maid abuse" (thanks MH)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Norman Podhoretz’s depiction of the war against Islamist radicalism as World War IV is apt. I have no quarrel with the description..." (thanks Laleh)
"Egypt's highest authority on Islamic law said on Thursday that drivers cannot be blamed for killing people who stand in front of their vehicles, just days after a police van ran over a woman who tried to stop it." (thanks A.)
Privatization of water in Lebanon by Rami Zurayq.
"Professor resigns abruptly: Berlin and other students in the class said they were concerned that Diskin taught the class with a bias toward Israel. He said the main textbook in the class focuses on the history of Israel, with no counterpart book about Arab states. "We would learn about so much about Israel and specific institutions, but we learned very little about the other states, the Arab states, the Palestinian people … it has to be especially at GW," said Berlin, who is Jewish. "People here are not going to sit down and let professors just tell them how things are if kids think it's another way. Eventually kids just stood up to her."" (thanks Leila)
My article in Al-Akhbar: "The Biggest Missing [Factor]: Social Justice in Lebanon."
Sahar Burhan is a very talented artist. I never met her in my life but got to know her work through Al-Akhbar. She unfortunately does not work for Al-Akhbar anymore. She sent me this piece of her work: it is called Rahil (Departure or Flight). If it is up to me, she would still be working for Al-Akhbar. In the potato homeland they prefer the sophomoric and childish sarcasm in the cartoons of Pierre Sadiq and others like him. Irony and subtlety are not in demand in the potato homeland.
Decline of Campus Activism. I was walking to the library in Berkeley yesterday, and I passed by a rally against US torture in Iraq. I counted the people in attendance. There were 12 students.
"America and the world's executioners join efforts to block UN moves to end death penalty"
AlJazeera is now officially avoiding any news that would upset Arab governments. They still air reports that may upset US government, like a report on the rise of attacks on African-Americans in New York City (Khalid Dawud did an excellent report, by the way). But there is a marked change. No news of dissent or oppression from Saudi Arabia anymore. AlArabiya continues its policy of reflecting the news preferences of the royal family: like critical reports on Iran, Syria, and Libya, but not on any other Arab countries. Week after week, its news shows cover stories that are not likely to disturb Arab regimes. I knew that this would happen; I was hoping for an eternal Saudi-Qatari conflict.
"A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday. The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News"
""It's funny how it's different. It's just not a scary place at all," said University of Illinois student Anne Shivers, whose worried older brother offered her $400 not to come to Cairo." (thanks John)
"Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have bought a man-made island in the shape of Ethiopia that is part of an ambitious luxury development off the coast of Dubai, a newspaper reported today." (thanks Sophie)
"Israel is often portrayed by its supporters as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. But these very same supporters, in their excessive zeal for their cause, sometimes end up by violating one of the most fundamental principles of democracy - the right to free speech. While accepting free speech as a universal value, all too often they try to restrict it when it comes to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. The result is not to encourage but to stifle debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." (thanks Rania)
"Someone smashed into a Dearborn Heights mosque early Tuesday and stole its donation money, police said." (thanks Bilal)
"Hebron settlers filmed harassing city's Palestinian residents" (thanks Ashraf)
"This came to the fore at the store opening, when a group of protesters showed up behind the velvet rope that barred the entrance to the store. The protesters were most vocal in criticizing Leviev’s involvement in developing the Palestinian territories. But they also denounced his trade with the Angolan government, widely regarded as repressive, and his real estate holdings in New York City, which have come under fire from tenants’ rights groups." (thanks David)
"For the last 20 years, the U.S. government has accused me of being a terrorist. Along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan, we were dubbed the "Los Angeles Eight" by the media. Our case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court." (thanks Laith)
"THE US military is experiencing a "suicide epidemic" with veterans killing themselves at the rate of 120 a week, according to an investigation by US television network CBS." (thanks N).
"Before she escaped, Chandra worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week — cooking, cleaning and running a household for a Lebanese family. The only time the Sri Lankan maid could leave was to throw out the garbage." (thanks D)