Monday, December 31, 2007

My article in Al-Akhbar: "The Impossibility of Democracy."
"Benazir's last decision was in the same autocratic mode as its predecessors, an approach that would cost her – tragically – her own life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, even later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election she might still have been alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future. How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future." (thanks Laleh)
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? Al-Arabiya TV is leading with the "news" that Olmert wants to limit the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements.
We are a mere hours away from the official launching of the UN International Year of the Potato. Get ready NOW.
Do you notice that the Syrian regime treats any visit to Damascus by any US official, even a city council member from Kansas, as a victory for the Syrian regime, or as a vindication for the stance of the regime? The press treatment of the visit by Sen. Specter is only one example, but on a very grand scale. I saw the Syrian ambassador in DC brag on Syrian TV that Specter met with Bush for 4 hours a few months ago--to discuss Syria I am sure.
I have never seen Walid Jumblat challenged in an interview like he was by that Iranian journalist on Press TV. They aired a segment on New TV: and it was great TV moment. The guy asked him the obvious--and he asked his question without even hiding his contempt for the man sitting across the table from him: that Jumblat now accuses the Syrian regime of killing his father (which the regime did for sure), and yet he aligned himself with the regime for more than 27 years. Jumblat said that he was deceiving the Syrian regime all along, and that he did so to protect his community, the Arabism of Lebanon, and to confront Israeli designs in Lebanon. What do you know about Press TV? They often email me for interviews but I don't know anything about them.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dean of former Arab leftists, Hazim Saghiyyah, warns Lebanese Christians: if you undermine Harirism you will get Al-Qa`idah.
PS Let me guess: Saghiyyah also believes that we should not oppose the Saudi government lest Al-Qa`idah takes over.
A tribute to the first remote control.
Abu Mazen's representative in Lebanon, `Abbas Zaki, heaps praise on Saddam Husayn in a rally organized by Saddam's Ba`thists in Lebanon. That would not be translated by MEMRI as the Zionists now approve of the Dahlan gang in the West Bank.
Hariri newspaper reviews Hariri TV News channel and gives it very hight marks. In other news, all Saudi media agree: that King `Abdullah was the man of the year--just as they all agreed that King Fahd was the man of the year, every lousy year of his rule. And leave it to this Lebanese journalist, Samir `Atallah, to write the "appropriate" tribute.
Still "liberating" Ba`qubah. (AP)
Lebanese men are more likely to believe in astrology than women.
Damning. In two months, Hariri propagandist, Hasan Sabra (reportedly a former propagandist for Libyan regime before becoming a propagandist for Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s), changes his view of Michel Sulayman.
Julia Butrus banned from Al-Manar TV: ironies of religious media. Julia Butrus revealed in an interview on New TV that her song, Ahibba'i(My Beloved Ones, which is compiled from words used in a speech by Hasan Nasrallah--I don't like the song, I prefer her song, Lebanon has Won (Intisara Lubnan) has been banned from Al-Manar TV because they ban singing by women, from a religious point of view (is that due to the misogynistic view that the voice of the woman is a "`awrah" (pudendum), according to medieval (and present-day Wahhabi) theologians? She said that this ban displeased her. I am upset too: I have this new video clip in which I sing (accompanied by a `Ud a classical song, and it has not aired on any TV in the Middle East. (The song goes like this: "And From the Window. I shall throw off myself to you, and from the window....")
The military balance of force in the Middle East has been altered yet again. The Lebanese Army received 100 used trucks from the US government. 50 of the trucks will be used to supply the soldiers with their daily intake of Shish Tawuq.
Mounzer Sulayman on the most frivolous lawsuit by Fakhri Karim (the (un?)official intellectual of the American occupation of Iraq, and its puppet president) against Samah Idris and Al-Adab. You have to read the full text of his ridiculous lawsuit (in the last issue of Al-Adab magazine): it reads as an addendum to Orwell's 1984. He said--I kid you not--that Samah Idriss crossed the line of "permissible criticisms." It is up to Karim or his puppet Iraqi president to determine the lines of permissibility. He also bragged about his ties to Talbani in the lawsuit, and said that he is a "munadil" (struggler). potato. Hazulat.
PS This is the original article by Samah that annoyed Karim.
Khalid Saghiyyah on the New Year's Eve party at Sanyurah Palace.
"A 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee contains on average twice the amount of caffeine found in a similar cup purchased elsewhere (see The Journal of Analytical Toxicology, October 2006), sometimes approaching the amount in three NoDoz tablets. Starbucks in fact publishes the caffeine content of its brewed coffee: a venti cup has 415 milligrams." I was amused when I read this. The writer of this letter is a classmate of mine from childhood--we competed for 1st rank in class (and then we skipped grades together) until I hit puberty, and then I totally ignored school and grades. He is now a medical professor in the US. When we were in high school, we were organizing an Arabic book exhibit at IC (our high school in Beirut). I made it very clear that right-wing and fascist literature would not be permitted--I had told you I was never a liberal democrat, and this was during my Stalinist days. So he wanted to exhibit some literature of the Phalanges Party in Lebanon: I made it very clear to him that the position of the Lebanese and Palestinian Left at the time (to "isolate the Phalanges") would be strictly adhered to in my school, and that I would make sure to enforce it. He went and complained to his dad, as I subsequently learned. His father was the dentist of none other than George Habash (the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Habash, who I had not met before, talked to me about the matter. It is a long story, do you want to know?
Here, Michael Husayn Young--do people still remember his articles in 2005 predicting that Shi`ite masses in Lebanon are going to shift toward his neo-conservative stance?--laments the decline of the neo-conservative influence in the US administration. Don't cry for him, Lebanonesia. (thanks Amer)
Is there somebody to tell the owners of Lebanese culture industry that the Karakalla dance performances--like the Mansur Rahbani plays--are a joke? A very embarrassing joke.
"On the outer fringes of the throng around Benazir Bhutto that night in Larkana eight years ago were the local villagers who had somehow blagged their way in. They were welcome enough - as long as they stayed in their place. But one had a camera and took a picture. The flash had not even faded away before - with a ferocious imperious expression - Benazir Bhutto pointed in his general direction. Her minders, who had obviously been mingling in the crowd for just such an eventuality, wrestled him to the ground, grabbed his camera, ripped out the film and hurled him out of the door into the courtyard. I looked at her surprised, shocked. "I am sorry," she said, solicitous of my western sensibilities." Western sensibilities? Is that why the West has always adhered to the strictest standards of social and economic equality? Do they think before they write such drivel? (thanks Mal)
"Beginning early next year, U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units, according to defense officials involved with the planning." (thanks Yasmine)
"Evidence of extremism in mosques 'fabricated'" (thanks Kristoffer)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

In this presidential veto, Bush is not only protecting the Iraqi puppet government, but the government of Saudi Arabia as well.
"Saudi Arabian officials have reportedly detained a blogger whose writing has criticized religious extremism in the country, according to the two press freedom groups and a regional human-rights organization." (thanks Laayla)
"Thousands of foreign workers have come to the Kurdish districts in the last three years, a huge turnaround for a place that had hardly any before, making it one of the fastest-growing Middle Eastern destinations for the world’s impoverished. They come from Ethiopia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Somalia, supporting an economic boom here that is transforming Kurdish society. But nearly all foreign workers interviewed over a two-week period here said they had been deceived by unscrupulous agents who arrange the journeys. Unable to communicate, some arrive not knowing what country they are in. Once here, their passports are seized by their employment agencies, and they are unable to go home." (thanks Frank)
Latest Fatwawawawa: The Prophet Disapproves of Um Kulthum.
Question: Is it permissible to sell music (audio) cassettes, like cassettes of Umm Kulthoom and Fareed al-Atrash and that which is similar to them?
Response: Selling these cassettes is haraam; because of that which they contain of music and songs which is haraam, and listening to it is haraam. And the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
“Indeed if/when Allah has declared something haraam, then buying and selling it is (also) haraam”. (thanks Aida)
PS "Haraam" is Impermissible from the religious point of view.
Do you notice that Saudi prisoners from Guantanamo receive a hero's welcome upon return to Saudi Arabia? See this festive coverage in Saudi newspaper, Ar-Riyadh.
Does anybody know if this is true? Wi'am Wahhab told New TV that Shaykh Muhammad `Ali Al-Juzu was attacked by Walid Jumblat's dog during a visit to Mukhtarah, and that he was hospitalized.
Razzuk Al-Ghawi: his insights on US foreign policy. The guy is the Damascus correspondent for New TV. He was talking about the visit to Syria but Sen. Arlen Specter, and added--kid you not--that Specter is a critic of US Middle East policy implying that he is sympathetic to the Arabs. What this guy does not know is that Specter, one of the most staunch supporters of Israel, and other ardent Zionists, like Rep. Tom Lantos, regularly visit Syria regularly not out of sympathy for Syria but in order to push Syria to move toward "peace" with Israel.
Fifi `Abduh would be a much better choice as secretary-general of the Arab League than`Amr Musa. And Fifi is so tough: I can't see her taking orders from Rice or Mubarak. We should start a Facebook group Fifi-for-secretary-general-of-the-Arab-league NOW.
PS A group has just been created, Mazen informs me.
"The Pope has ordered his bishops to set up exorcism squads to tackle the rise of Satanism."
Ful or Meat?, by Rami Zurayq. (The answer is Ful, of course).
CSI Islamabad. The brilliant Interior Minister of Pakistan said that Bhutto died from hitting her head against the car roof, but in the same press conference it was said that Al-Qa`idah killed her. So are we being told that somebody from al-Qa`idah pushed her head against the car, now that the death is thus explained? Also, do you notice that Bhutto, in her movements and events in Pakistan since her return to the country, would surround herself with women--presumably some of her slaves from the Sind region--to protect herself from any assassination? She must have learned that trick from Muhammad Dahlan who never spoke in public in Gaza without surrounding himself with old women and children.
"Who killed Benazir?" (I thank its author (a Pakistani journalist) who wrote under a pen name to protect his identity)
Hariri News TV: Cry for Hariri 24 hours a day. So I was watching Hariri TV's show, Transit. It is a weekly show on Future TV devoted to a discussion of the media hosted by the able Najat Sharaf Ad-Din--she is one of the few TV journalists in Lebanon who does not annoy me because she is natural. The topic this time was the launching of Hariri News TV--a 24 hours news station (Future News TV). Her guests--to be fair and balanced--were: Nadim Qutaysh, of Hariri News TV, Dayana Muqallid of Hariri News TV who writes a weekly column for Prince Salman's mouthpice, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, and Muhannad Al-Khatib, formerly of Arabiyya TV and currently of Hariri News TV. The discussion was, well, fair and balanced. What do you expect from a discussion of a station that did not include one critic of the station? My mother asked me last week whether she should add the new Hariri News station to her cable channels. I said of course: you have to monitor it for me. She said that she was afraid. What are you afraid of, I asked. She said that she worries that she will be aggravated on a daily basis. She is not receiving it, and we don't get it here in the US. The word objectivity was thrown around the way Fox News throws "fair and balanced." The best part of the program was unintended: Nadim Qutaysh, who used to work for Hurra TV (which is still being watched by 3 people in different parts of the Arab world, and which is single-handedly responsible for turning Arab public opinion into staunch support for Bush and his wars), was asked how much leeway he has in the station. He said that it is not more or less than other experiences. Then he added this: I have to admit that I did not see a difference between my experience in Hurra TV and the new Future News TV.
Iskandar Mansur on Fouad Ajami.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A new Lebanese Maronite saint, Istifan Ni`mah. According to An-Nahar his performance of miracles continued after his death. He cured "completely" a person from cancer only 4 years ago.
Walid Jumblat sends a list of his greeting cards to newspapers to report on them. Did you know for example that he received a season's greeting card from the chair of the international committee of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party?
I am not making this up. Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, accuses Syria of murdering Bhutto. The newspaper quotes "Western sources" underling the similarities between the assassination of Hariri and the assassination of Bhutto. Does that mean that Rafiq Hariri died not from a car bomb, but that he also hit his head against the car?
Mini-Hariri offered his condolences to...the Turkish people. He said that Bhutto was an effective prime minister of Turkey, and that the people of Turkey will miss her. He reiterated his call for Iran to stop enriching potassium.
You have to read this pathetically sexist article by As-Safir's culture editor, Lebanese poet `Abbas Baydun, on Bhutto. He sees in her a body and a face.
"On Thursday night he told reporters in Orlando, Fla.: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”"
""She wrote me of how she admired Israel and of her desire to see a normalization in the relations between Israel and Pakistan, including the establishment of diplomatic ties," the ambassador told Ynet." It does not surprise me. She admired Israel and the Taliban.
""I knew her personally .... She was, as you know, glamorous, beautiful smart," he said."
"She said that as the leader of a Muslim party, she was not free to marry for love, which would have "destroyed my political career," she told The New York Times in 1994."
This John Burns' obituary of Bhutto does not mention her sponsorship of the Taliban--prove me wrong this time NOW--. But it has interesting information that you need to remember: "The younger of Ms. Bhutto’s two brothers, Shahnawaz, died mysteriously of poisoning in 1985, in an apartment owned by the Bhuttos in Cannes, France. French investigators said they suspected that a family feud over a multimillion-dollar inheritance from Zulfikar Bhutto was involved, but no charges were filed. Ms. Bhutto’s other brother, Murtaza, who along with Shahnawaz founded a terrorist group that sought to topple General Zia, spent years in exile in Syria beginning in the 1980s. When Murtaza finally returned to Pakistan, in 1994, he quickly fell into a bitter dispute with Ms. Bhutto over the family’s political legacy — and, he told a reporter at the time, over the money he said his father had placed in a Swiss bank when he was prime minister. In 1996, Murtaza was gunned down outside his home in Karachi, and his widow, Ghinva, blamed Asif Ali Zardari, Ms. Bhutto’s husband. Ms. Bhutto’s Iranian-born mother, Nusrat, sided in the dispute with Murtaza, and was dismissed by Ms. Bhutto as the Peoples Party chairman. “I had no idea I had nourished a viper in my breast,” she said of her daughter at the time...In “Daughter of Destiny,” her 1989 memoir, she rebuked reporters for calling attention to her dress, almost always the traditional loose-fitting robe favored by Pakistani women, saying she did not care about matters like dress. But among her aides and Pakistani diplomats, who often accompanied her on shopping trips abroad, she gained a reputation for buying expensive jewelry and shoes and at elite stores in Beverly Hills, London and Paris. Her critics often attributed her flushes of haughtiness and her expensive tastes to a sense of entitlement, as Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter and as the pre-eminent member of a wealthy land-owning family from the cotton-growing southern province of Sindh. The egalitarian credo Ms. Bhutto preached as a politician found little echo in the lives of the impoverished men and women, many of them indentured workers, who worked the family’s ancestral lands. After her second dismissal from office in 1996, a friend said Ms. Bhutto’s sense of herself as inseparable from the fate of Pakistan contributed to actions that led Pakistani investigators to accuse her and Mr. Zardari of embezzling as much $1.5 billion from government accounts..." One anecdote about her arrogance was not printed in this on-line version of the obituary that appeared in my paper copy of the paper.
So have the Arabs been demoted from thieves and beggars to terrorists in the coverage of the New York Times? A "news" article in the NYT on July 17th, 1884 had this headline--kid you NOT--: "Arabs dangerous around Banks."
An article in the New York Times on April 10th, 1884 had this headline: "Simple-Minded Arabs: A Party that Intends to beg its way from New York To Brazil."
The press conference of the Pakistani Minister of Interior was quite informative. He said that she did not die from the bullets, not did she die from the suicide bomber. She died because she hit her head getting into her car. OK.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"U.S. Brokered Bhutto's Return to Pakistan"
"This figure represents over 16% of the entire NIS 314 billion state budget for next year, which the Knesset approved yesterday after passing the accompanying Economic Arrangements Law the day before. It also represents about 7% of gross domestic product."
I used to praise the Guardian newspaper. Here is its obituary of Bhutto: "People Magazine included her in its list of the 50 most beautiful people in the world." The article said nothing about Bhutto's administration sponsorship of the Taliban.
How silly. Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat leads with this headline about Bhutto: "She was a graduate of Oxford and Harvard." Who cares? George W. has degrees from Yale and Harvard: if that is not enough to disabuse you of any assumptions about "elite" schools, nothing would. Also, King `Abdullah did not graduate from any school whatsoever but do you see him brag?
The Muslim Brotherhood. One of the most consistent positions that I have adhered to over a lifetime is detestation and utter contempt for The Muslim Brotherhood, and all their offshoots. Take the Egyptian branch. They live under a ruthless dictator, class oppression is only getting worse, and the US and Israel issue orders to Mubarak, and the Brotherhood is railing against...movies that stimulate the sexual instincts of viewers. I kid you not. They called on the government to investigate.
And who comes to the rescue of the reputation of Ashraf Marwan? Well, former Arafat's lieutenant Amin Al-Hindi. How convenient.
Will the US/UN call for an international tribunal to investigate the assassination of Bhutto? Will 10 UNSC resolutions be passed in her honor the way they did with the Hariri guy?
"But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians."
This is Zionism. This Palestinian child is not royalty. She is not a darling of the Western media. She will not be on the cover of any Western magazine. You will not even read about her in your press. This Palestinian school child was hit by an Israeli missile in Khan Yunus on her way to school. (Reuters)
"Foreign Office papers, just released by the National Archives in London, show that defence sales to Iraq in 1976 amounted to an estimated £70m." (thanks Sinan)
Shoes in Arab culture: "À l'Élysée, Sarkozy indisposa le souverain saoudien en lui montrant ses semelles une injure dans le monde arabe et en lui demandant le nombre de ses enfants." (thanks Ziyad)
"Barack Obama backs Israel remaining a Jewish state". He added that any extra Palestinian children that could tip the demographic balance would be simply tossed across the racist separation barrier. (thanks Ali)
"Police opened an investigation Tuesday afternoon into claims that residents of the Palestinian village of Tal were attacked by masked Hebrew-speaking assailants, who the Palestinians believe were settlers." (thanks Mazen)
""The IDF checkpoint which separates the village from the rest of the West Bank is not manned during the night and thus women who go into labor are unable to reach the local hospital."" (thanks Yasmine)
"...the McCains do not allow Bridget to be interviewed". Why is this child the only one not allowed to be interviewed, one wonders?
George W. Bush called Mousharraf to offer his condolences. Truth be told, he found him inconsolable.
"Several American visitors have reported experiencing excessive drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, and nausea after drinking alcohol in public areas such as hotel bars and night clubs in several cities throughout the Netherlands. These effects may be the result of unknowingly ingesting drugs, such as flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), hydroxybutyrate (GHB), triazolam (Halcion), scopolamine, burundaga, ketamine and more recently MDMA (Ecstacy), surreptitiously placed in drinks. These drugs do not have a distinctive color, smell, or flavor and come in powder, liquid and pill forms. Never leave your drink unattended and do not accept drinks from strangers. If you believe you have been drugged, seek assistance immediately. Try to keep the container your drink was in, and any amount that may be left, in order to assist the police with their investigation."
In the dispute between AlJazeera (Arabic) and some in Algeria, I side with the Algerian critics. This all started when put a website poll on whether people supported or opposed Al-Qa`idah's bombings in Algeria. What kind of question is that? To put the matter of massive and indiscriminate bombing as a matter of an opinion difference is indeed offensive.
"At least a dozen policy advisers to Mr. Giuliani's campaign hail from or have active connections to Stanford's Hoover Institution, a number that appears to outpace other right-leaning research centers such as the Manhattan Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Heritage Foundation." (thanks Amer)
Whoever kept pressing Bhutto to return home to Pakistan is at least partially responsible for her death.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"The heart of their dispute, though, may not be over intellectual matters at all, but about something one of them said more than a quarter of a century ago about the other's ex-girlfriend (of which more later)."
On January 17th, 1888, the New York Times carried a "news" article titled "Arabs Not Wanted." It quoted a Collector Magone, and said: "in speaking of this case yesterday, [he] referred to the undesirable character of such immigrants, even if possessed of the means of self-support. The Arabs as a class, he said, were educated to steal, and when they become a part of any community they added just so many to the criminal population. It was their nature to steal an to expeact that every one else would steal if he got the chance...."
On February 21nd, 1888, the New York Times carried a story with this headline: "Masters of Mendicants: Syrian Arabs Infesting the Cities. How they squeeze through castle garden-pen; Pictures of the most filthy of immigrants." The reporter then noted the differences between the Swedish immigrants and Arabs: The Swedes, dressed in their best clothes, with earnest, honest faces, impatient to start for their destinations in the West and begin making capital for themselves by honest toil, and the dirty, ragged, shiftless Arabs without stockings, their hands in their pockets, and puffing away at cigarettes, which they roll up themselves from tobacco they managed to beg from their fellow immigrants. When a couple of these fellows were addressed by the reporter in their native Arabic they looked astonished, and then thrust their dirty paws into his hand to shake....the reporter went, and in opening the basement door he was...overpowered by a combination of different kind of stenches, the most pungent being the stench that arises from a crowd of people huddled together and who have not washed themselves or their clothes in which they sleep for at least 12 month..."
The New York Times carried this item on August 8, 1885: "Among the hundreds of immigrants who arrived at the port yesterday were seven rough-looking Arabs from the mountains of Lebanon, Syria. They said that they had brought with them beads and relics from the Holy Land and were going to Cuba, but they did not have enough money to pay their passage there. Superintendent Jackson suspected that they belonged to the class of Arab tramps that periodically come over to the US and make a begging tour through the country. When they see a policeman they pull out a bundle of beads and pretend to be selling. The new arrivals loudly declared that they were not going to beg, although no one had asked them about it. They were detained until further investigation."
The Obituary of Kahlil Gibran (we call him Jubran Khalil Jubran in Arabic). I looked up last night the obituary of Kahlil Gibran in the New York Times from April 1931. The headline went like this: "Khalil Gibran dead; Noted Syrian poet." The subtitle said: "Wrote in Arabic and English--Native of Palestine, He had lived there for 20 years." The text later said that "He was born in Mount Lebanon, Palestine."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Poll results show that 66% of Saudi women and 55% of Saudi men agree that women should be allowed to drive a car by themselves. In light of the ban on female driving, such relatively high levels of public support are remarkable. Recently, several Saudi women founded a group to raise awareness about this issue. This fall, the Committee of Demanders of Women's Right to Drive Cars in Saudi Arabia collected more than 1,000 signatures and sent the petition to the king asking him to rescind the driving ban, which has been official since 1990. Both sexes also support the right to work outside the home. More than 8 in 10 Saudi women (82%) and three-quarters of Saudi men (75%) agree that women should be allowed to hold any job for which they are qualified outside the home. As a point of comparison, in Iran, the gender gap on this issue is 17 points and in Egypt, it stretches to 21 points."
The Heirs of Zarqawi: the Hariri family in Lebanon. The Hariri rag carries a small news item about a never-heard-of-before group, called Sunni Islamic League.
Pretty ironic. Sari Nusseibah has spent a life-time trying to appease Zionism and earning the approval of the White Man. Now, he is being accused of anti-Semitism. (Of course, the moral authority of Campus Watch on matters of prejudice is akin to the medical authority of George W. Bush).
My mother and sister keep telling that Fadi R`aydi (of New TV) is so funny. I can't stand him. He is so annoying and painfully unfunny.
The true Yasser `Arafat. Former Arafat's interpretor (and a protege of the lousy Bassam Abu Sharif), Marwan Kanafani wrote his memoirs (somebody who is in the Middle East and is coming to US get me a copy, NOW). I saw him interviewed on it on NBN by Maria Ma`luf. She did a good job quizzing him. First, any book on Arafat that does not mention that he was autocratic, ill-tempered, closed-minded, authoritarian, slippery, shifty, unprincipled, intolerant (of dissent), deceptive, secretive, anti-democratic, hierarchical, and indulgent of corruption (even if he was not personally corrupt) does not have credibility in my eyes. He said that Arafat was willing to listen to others: so not true. He would listen to whatever agreed with his orientations, and he was willing to learn provided he took credit for himself for whatever he learned. During my college years, I once urged a person I knew in Beirut who had a access to Arafat to talk to him about the corruption of PLO and the misdeeds of Fath in Lebanon. He was reluctant but then relented at my urging. I saw him later, and he told me that Arafat exploded in anger when be broached the subject. I never met Arafat, and never had interest in meeting him. I detested him and despised him from my early teens, when I started following closely Palestinian politics. I saw in him then a great danger to the Palestinian revolution. And why should we give credit to Arafat for being ascetic in his taste and lifestyle? If asceticism is the standard, then we should give blenders to monks all around the world.
Colonial Grammarism. "Professor Sasson and his colleagues are quick to point out that they do not believe in disconnecting or isolating Arabic from Hebrew. "The idea is to give (the) Arabic (that's spoken in Israel) some 'self-confidence.'"" Oh, yes. Palestinians in Israel need Professor Sasson to teach them grammar and to instill confidence in them. Israel: the land where colonial myths and assumptions would never wither away. (thanks Amer)
Senator: are you, or have you ever been, a Muslim? This discussion of whether Obama was ever a Muslim is not different from Nazi discussion of the Jewish heritage of certain individuals. It is the same.
"Poverty, lack of information fatal for Chinese woman, baby"

Monday, December 24, 2007

High-tech Lebanese Council of Ministers. When the civilized Lebanese Council of Ministers first introduced laptops to council meetings, all the ministers used to pretend that they were using them for the meeting, although a source told me that the laptops would only contain a Word document of the agenda of the meeting, no more. In recent months, the ministers don't even bother to open the laptops. (Minister of Ping Pong is to the right of the picture.) Minister of Interior is at the center: he is credited for bringing peace, stability, and security to Lebanon.
Who can blame them? "Jewish immigration to Israel at lowest in 20 years" (thanks Leila)
My article in Al-Akhbar: "Before Unfogging the Vision: [What] they said about the Syrian Regime"
Correction: I have received a few emails and comments that the picture of the girl working on her homework (from a few days ago) was incorrectly identified: she is Syrian and not Palestinian. This correction should not be used to detract from my long record of infallibility.
"The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents."
The New York Times is up in arms: "Anarchists in the Aisles?"
"The unluckiest baby in the world"
""Uzbekistan is like the Soviet Union, but the wrong way round. Everything bad about the Soviet Union we still have. But everything that was good - like its welfare and education system - has disappeared," Nigara Khidovatova, leader of the opposition Free Farmers party, said. "Our economy is feudal. The situation for workers in the countryside is one of near-slavery. Corruption is rampant," she added."
Ode to Bush? "It served as the anthem, too, for the Rhodesian white supremacist regime of Ian Smith. One can imagine a fictional performance at which all sworn enemies — Hitler and Stalin, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush — for a moment forget their adversities and participate in the same magic moment of ecstatic musical brotherhood."
"Israeli military prosecutors have decided not to take any legal action over Israel's use of cluster bombs during last year's war in Lebanon, the army said Monday, closing an investigation into a practice that has drawn heavy criticism from the U.N. and international human rights groups. The investigation determined that Israel's use of the weapons, which open in flight and scatter dozens of bomblets, was a "concrete military necessity" and did not violate international humanitarian law." (thanks Maryam)
"“My plane was full of Lebanese flying home, and when it landed we all shouted ‘Beirut’ and clapped,”" How annoying. How annoying. This is why things Lebanonese start to irritate me as soon as I enter the MEA counter at whatever airport in Europe. At least they don't allow smoking anymore: so you don't have to watch them puffing on their cigars. Also, the reporter said: "But there is a corollary to this ritual of return: much of the middle class — including many of its best and brightest — no longer live in Lebanon." I hate this expression: "best and brightest"? How do you measure that? Does that refer to people with degrees and families they call "good"? And this classist notion is what terrifies Jumblat. He keeps lamenting that Lebanon will be left to the poor and "uncivilized." (thanks Mal.)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the "Final Victory of the Colonizer" by dear Amer.
"Mrs. Clinton’s current team was less prescient. Though it includes one of the earlier military critics of Bush policy, Gen. Wesley Clark, he is balanced by Gen. Jack Keane, an author of the Bush “surge.” The Clinton campaign’s foreign policy and national security director is a former Madeleine Albright aide, Lee Feinstein, who in November 2002 was gullible enough to say on CNBC that “we should take the president at his word, which is that he sees war as a last resort” — an argument anticipating the one Mrs. Clinton still uses to defend her vote on the Iraq war authorization. In late April 2003, a week before “Mission Accomplished,” Mr. Feinstein could be found on CNN saying that he was “fairly confident” that W.M.D. would turn up in Iraq. Asked if the war would be a failure if no weapons were found, he said, “I don’t think that that’s a situation we’ll confront.” Forced to confront exactly that situation over the next year, he dug in deeper, co-writing an essay for Foreign Affairs (available on its Web site) arguing that “the biggest problem with the Bush pre-emption strategy may be that it does not go far enough.”"
"A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty. Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons. Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau."
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? Look at the picture of the American soldier in Prince Khalid's mouthpiece, Al-Hayat. (thanks Amer). This is now a pattern: of those flatter pictures of US soldiers in Iraq. It is a surge alright.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lebanese are obsessed with rankings: "At the bottom of the table come Addis Ababa and Beirut." (thanks Jennifer)
Bilal Al-Hasan offers a polite (he has to--writing in Prince Salman's mouthpiece after all) but sound critique of the last speech by Abu Mazen (seen above).
Al-Arabiya TV has been touting a "study" published in a British Tabloid that "proves" that men are funnier than women. Notice that among the colonized, any opinion from the White Man, including from quacks, is considered authoritative. For a sample of funny men, look at those hilarious bunch above.
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? You have to look at the picture from Iraq on the front page of Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal.
"At lunch, when I asked him who influences his thinking on foreign affairs, he mentioned Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, and Frank Gaffney, a neoconservative and the founder of a research group called the Center for Security Policy."
`Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim, the leader of the Badr Shi`ite sectarian militia (which manages to receive the support of US and Iran simultaneously--because it believes in the Wilayat Al-Faqih (the faqih is both, Khamenei and Bush together), expressed reservations about the Al-Anbar tribal council. He said that only sectarian Shi`ite gangs should be allowed to roam the streets.
Whenever Al-Arabiya TV invites one of those tribal "sawha" council dudes--and they invite them quite regularly--you are struck that they all, I mean ALL, look and sound like thugs and criminals. But then again: it could be a coincidence. And those same people were allies of Zarqawi before they switched after reading John Locke.
Is it not indubitable that between the Taliban regime, the pro-US Karzai regime, and the pro-Soviet communist regime in Afghanistan the latter was by far the best (or least worst)--and the most favorable to women's rights?
This Palestinian girl is selling sesame to help support her family while doing her homework. (thanks Yun)
"And what about that scene where Charlie takes a sexy Texas belly dancer to Cairo and she does a sultry dance for the Egyptian defense minister while Charlie and an Israeli arms dealer try to convince the Egyptian to sell them weapons for the Afghan rebels -- that's gotta be a Hollywood fabrication, right? Wrong."
"President Shimon Peres apologized Friday for the 1956 massacre in Kafr Qasem, in which Border Police officers killed 47 residents of the Israeli Arab village." Apologize? Apologize? And how do you decide which Zionist massacre warrants an apology, and which does not? It is not an apology that the Palestinians are after. Of that I am certain. You may apologize all you want, it will not change a thing. And this was not the first or the last Zionist massacre on the land of Palestine: "The troops shot and killed 47 of the village's residents as they were making their way home from work, unaware of the newly imposed curfew. Among the dead were women and children."
For those who are outside of the US, and who may not know the real New York Times. The New York Times yesterday put the story of the pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears on its front page. But then again: what do you expect from a newspaper that has Thomas Friedman as its in-house foreign policy "analyst." (The word analysis next to Thomas Friedman is jarring).
To deal with domestic violence, Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, rules that women can learn boxing and bear arms to deal with men.
Zionism is also scroogism. "Israeli guards beat five demonstrators, including one dressed as Father Christmas, during a protest on Friday against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank, organisers said." (thanks Badis)
"Professor Joel Beinin, who teaches at both the American University of Cairo and Stanford University, specializes in the history of labor movements. He says most people, when measuring whether Egypt is democratizing or not, are looking at the wrong things. "There is nothing whatsoever in the formal political arena, or even in the arena of the NGOs, which would support the notion that this is a society which is becoming more democratic in any meaningful way whatsoever," he noted. "In fact, the opposite. It's becoming more repressive as we speak." But, he says, if one adopts the view that democracy comes from the people, and that rights are won and not given, then the massive labor strikes are a sign of real potential for democratic change. "That's huge! There hasn't been anything like this in Egypt since before 1952," he added. "So it's the future of that movement which is the possibility of democracy in Egypt.""" (thanks Joel)
"“There was a shocking silence of the Jewish community on the issue of torture, and there is still a lacuna on this vital issue, to my eye,” said Felice Gaer, director of the AJCommittee’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. “All Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, need to be more vocal on this matter… Jews particularly know that torture is antithetical to everything in our tradition, ethics and outlook.” The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress, long leading advocates for civil liberties, have not weighed in on the pending anti-torture legislation, nor has the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella body of Jewish communal organizations." (thanks May)
"In September 2006, British novelist Martin Amis told the Times of London: "There's a definite urge--don't you have it?--to say, 'the Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.' What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation--further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan.... Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children." Far from being the principal purveyors of racial animus in Europe, Muslims are its principal targets. Between 2000 and 2005 officially reported racist violence rose 71 percent in Denmark, 34 percent in France and 21 percent in Ireland. With few governments collecting data on racial crime victims, it has been left to NGOs to record the sharp rise in attacks on Muslims, those believed to be Muslims and Muslim targets." (thanks Laleh)
The dean of former Arab leftists, Hazim Saghiyyah, has a new idea. He says that anybody who opposes imperialism or Hamid Karzai is basically supporting the Taliban. I kid you not. He actually said that.
"A lesbian high school student says she was asked by a teacher to cover up a lesbian-themed T-shirt or face suspension, and now a civil liberties group has taken up her cause." (thanks John)
I saw Ghassan bin Jiddu on New TV with Ghadah `Id. He is able to say "the martyr prime minister Rafiq Hariri" 20 times per minute, when asked any question about Hariri. At one point, he was explaining why people in the opposition should understand (the fananticism?) of the Hariri camp. The courageous `Id (the presenter of the great show, Al-Fasad (corruption)), stopped him. She had to remind him that there were other people who died in Lebanon besides Hariri, and that those people were also loved by their families and friends.
How many of you know that Israeli occupation troops have killed 24 Palestinians in three days?
"The papers reveal how Blair put enormous pressure on Lord Goldsmith, his attorney-general, to force him to put an end to the embarrassing investigation into a huge Saudi arms deal." (thanks Ali)
A well-deserved damning critique of the founding declaration of the League of The Arab Rationalists. Personally, I wish to found a League of Arab Irrationalists. And what a lame, cliche-ridden statement.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mini-Hariri, Fatfat, and Sanyurah praying. This picture should be used by unbelievers to turn people away from God.
"Saudi authorities will deport 246 mostly Pakistani truck drivers from the kingdom after they took part in an illegal 10-day strike, Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan reported on Thursday."
Is this a press release from the Saudi embassy? (thanks John)
The fruits of the Saudi-Qatari reconciliation. I have mentioned how AlJazeera programs have been avoiding domestic developments and dissent in Arab countries as of late. Another example: Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis will next week deal with internal developments in...Venezuela.
This is a great find A musical rendition on youtube of And From the Window. I shall throw myself off to you, and from the window. We need a good one with the lyrics NOW. (thanks Ibrahim)
"Courtyard walls have replaced barbed-wire fences, and Al-Dossari has completed what the Saudi government describes as a "soft approach" rehabilitation program to cleanse his mind, find him a wife, buy him a car and keep him happy so he doesn't drift back toward Islamic fanaticism and jihad."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Two years after helping to bring to power a government led by Shiite religious parties, Iraq's paramount Shiite clerics find their influence diminished as their followers criticize them for backing a political alliance that has failed to pass crucial legislation, improve basic services or boost the economy."
In a speech today, Lebanese Army commander, Michel Sulayman, paid tribute to the Lebanese Army for its "steadfastness against the Israeli enemy during the July aggression." Did I miss something then? What did the Lebanese Army do against Israel then?
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? Do you notice that all Arab media--and I mean all--now refer to Israeli bombings and shootings in Gaza and West Bank as "`amaliyyah `askariyyah" (military operation)?
"What will life be like if people stop reading?" (Just ask George W. Bush. He can tell you).
"'I did not do this book about Jesus just to piss off Martin Amis.'" (thanks...I forgot who)
Yet another lesson in Arab culture. ""We're humans here, not donkeys," said Nasri Canavati, a restaurater. "This is insulting. I'm glad it was painted over." To be called a donkey in Palestinian society is similar to being called an idiot." (As is well-known, it is considered flattering to call somebody a donkey in Western societies).
What was the this tribute to Saddam written by `Abdul-Bari `Atwan in Al-Quds Al-`Arabi yesterday? He wrote about him as he if he was some ascetic living in a tent in the desert.
Adonis on Hariri TV. I watched Adonis on Hariri TV. It was quite a show. He did not say one interesting thing. And it is not his politics that makes me say this: I don't like Mahmud Darwish's politics, but when he speaks, I am riveted. Every word is chosen carefully, and he expresses himself in the most original and interesting way. Adonis speaks in cliches: like, poetry is "the essence of society" or that "art is poetry" or whatever. For 2 hours, he sounded as if he memorized lines from Hallmark cards, I kid you not. There were a few interesting things: he said that he does not care about awards, and does not seek Nobel. He added that if you are known to seek Nobel you are excluded from the running. That made me think: you have really studied the situation carefully, O Adonis. He then said that he respects literary critics in the Arab world. At that point, I felt the urge that my father felt every time then Lebanese president, Charles Hilu, appeared on TV when I was a child. My father would literally throw his shoe at the screen--as you who are educated in Arab culture know--this is very insulting in Arab culture. Respect critics, I yelled out?? This is somebody who can't tolerate criticisms of any kind. Once after reading a critical article by Jihad Fadil, he yelled in the office of Kifah Al-`Arabi in Beirut: "His name is George, and he wants to teach me about Arab nationalism" (Jihad Fadil's real name is George Fadil). He then said that he is a harsh critic of his poetry. He said that he never exercised authority, and that he is against authoritarianism of any kind. He was asked to name three female poets that he likes: he named his sister-in-law, and stopped. He was asked to name three female novelists that he likes, and he did not name one. But he did call for an end to women's oppression. He makes these very general and bland criticisms without offending any regime. Finally, he talked about his last meeting with "martyr prime minister" Rafiq Hariri. He said that Hariri had a "vision." He once had made a speech in which he was very critical of Beirut, and when he was attacked by Lebanese intellectuals (many of them anyway), he retracted and never repeated what he said. (He was mercilessly attacked by Paul Shawul in Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal). Now, he praises Beirut but criticizes its inhabitants--whatever that means.
Raghida Dirgham tells Bush to support March 14 in Lebanon in order to "make peace in Palestine." As is well-known, Bush never pursues a policy before reading the columns in Al-Hayat.
"Yediot Ahronot had claimed that workers at Olmert's official Jerusalem residence were thickening walls, digging, and installing air purification equipment capable of countering chemical agents."
Today, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mahmoud Ahmadinajad said that Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia are "friendly and amicable." Is it surprising? Not at all. What is surprising about two lousy religious regimes getting along?
Impersonating Husni Mubarak.
"101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less." Prepare them and bring them to me NOW.
"Senior British officers, who until recently regarded themselves as experts in counter-insurgency, marvel at the speed with which the American army is learning imperial policing. “It is a case of the son surpassing the father,” says one British officer." (thanks Wassim)
"10 humanitarian crises forgotten"
Arab wealth. "But presidential foundations are free to accept unlimited and anonymous contributions, even from foreigners and foreign governments. Indeed, the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a foundation linked to the United Arab Emirates, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar have made contributions of unknown amounts to the Clinton Foundation."
This the work of Shi`ite sectarian militias (and their Ayatullah guides): "Hundreds of Palestinian refugees who've been forced out of their homes in Iraq are stranded in a remote stretch of the Syrian desert, where they're living in tents that offer little shelter against blinding sandstorms and the biting cold of winter nights, according to humanitarian aid workers and refugees."
"It was a politics that she scathingly denounced as a return to ‘the traditional methods of shtadlonus’—Zionists now ‘knew no better place politically than the lobbies of the powerful, and no sounder basis for agreements than their good services as agents of foreign interests.’ Their hope was that ‘if Palestine Jewry could be charged with a share in the caretaking of American interests in that part of the world, the famous dictum of Justice Brandeis would come true: you would have to be a Zionist in order to be a perfect American patriot.’ [27] In another major paper at the time of the 1948 War, Arendt denounced the massacre of Deir Yassin and the killings in Jaffa and Haifa as deliberate measures of terror by the Revisionist wing of Zionism to drive the Arab populations out of Palestine. The building of a separate Jewish economy by the mainstream labour wing of Zionism—which had been its pride—she saw as the curse that made possible the expulsion of the Arabs (‘almost 50 per cent of the country’s population’) without loss to the Jews. [28]" (thanks May)
"Lax safety on Abu Dhabi building sites" (thanks Laleh)
I am not making this up. Lebanese Hariri guy (former MP), Ghattas Kuri, today called on the US to intervene in Lebanon to end foreign intervention. An NBN TV reporter noticed the irony.
This is left-wing Zionism: ""I'm very left-wing, but I think Arabs should live in one place, ultra-Orthodox Jews in one place, secular Jews in one place and so on," Garmi said. "If you want a good neighbor, you have to have a place for everybody. It's best not to mix too much.""
Pierre Abi Sa`b responds to the lies of Al-Arabiya regarding the Dubai Film Festival.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

If you want to watch the news--just the news--tune in to Al-Iraqiyyah (the puppet) Iraqi station. Today, in the first segment of the newscast, the reporter said: "And thus the Iraqi [puppet] security forces are planting happiness by distributing sweets and nuts among the people." With sweets...and nuts.
From the Arab Mind, again and again: ""Aim low," read a memo prepared last month by a departing unit that characterizes the "Arab personality" as one that discourages long-term efforts. "Aim to achieve just two or three small, even tiny, improvements each day at most; any more, and you will surely go mad."" (thanks Nir)
Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, has this caption under this picture: "The Servitor of the Two Noble Sites [Excluding the IKEA store here] supervises the comfort and movement of the pilgrims yesterday in Mina." How do we know he is doing that? He could be watching wrestling or porn for all we know. Also, do you see the three remote control devices next to him? Is there a better sign that this is a learned and advanced and enlightened king? (thanks Amer)
Can Burhan Ghalyun write on something other than democracy? Is there anything that is said about democracy that we have not read before? And are there problems in the Arab world that democracy will NOT solve?
This is why AlJazeera and Al-Arabiya TV invite Israeli guests. Al-Arabiya TV's Muntaha Ar-Ramahi asked an Israeli guest today: Does Israel want peace? What did she expect him to say. What kind of question is that? Basically, it is an invitation to the guest to offer basic propaganda cliches. Sometimes I feel I want to switch the channel and watch the Ping Pong Channel.
The chairperson of the Hajj Committee in Saudi Arabia spoke to Al-Arabiya TV. He denied that there was any political activity during the Hajj. Prior to the House of Saud's takeover of Hijaz, the Hajj was a place were people exchanged religious views and debated and protested.
David Welch during his visit to Lebanon offered a stinging rebuke to Nabih Birri. He spoke about what Lebanese should do, and sounded like a 19th century colonial viceroy. Nabih Birri responded with the most lame and most weak statement. It was along the lines of: I am doing my job, I swear. Tell the others.
Prior to giving my comments on AlJazeera last night, I heard the correspondent of Aljazeera (for the first time) give his impressions of the Hajj this year. He was quite favorable in evaluating the role of the Saudi security services. Next on AlJazeera: a weekly show on the wisdom and reading abilities of the Saudi king.
Regarding the Hajj and the Black Stone: to kiss or not to kiss. `Umar Ibn Al-Akhattab (the second "rightly-guided caliph) disliked the practice of kissing the black stone. He said the stone does not harm nor does it benefit. To him is attributed the saying: I would not have kissed you if I did not see the Prophet kissing you. Ibn Taymiyyah said that the Black Stone is the only object on earth to be kissed and saluted. What if the Black Stone was not there (as it was removed and taken by the Qaramatians during their revolt? The theologians ruled that its empty location should be saluted but not kissed in that case. Most theologians argued that the Black Stone should not be kissed loudly, but softly.
Muhammad Hasan Hamzah, 35, was killed near Tyre, Lebanon today. Another victim of Israeli cluster bombs in South Lebanon. How many US newspapers will mention that? (thanks Mazen)
What is next? A link between Orientalism and Al-Qa`idah? ""'Orientalism,'" Mr. Warraq writes, "taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity … encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s..." (thanks Maria)
The New York Times identifies the name of its Baghdad bureau's dog. (Dead Iraqis are never identified by name, notes Nir). "Staff at the newspaper's Baghdad bureau said Blackwater bodyguards shot Hentish dead last week before a visit by a U.S. diplomat to the Times compound."
It is the Arab Mind after all: "And now that he has cracked Fallujah's cultural code." (thanks Nir)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Israel does not have "smoking gun" intelligence that will force an American reassessment of its National Intelligence Estimate that Iran halted its nuclear weapons plan in 2003, a government official told The Jerusalem Post Monday."
For those who care, I shall make brief remarks on Al-Jazeera (Arabic) regarding the UN renewal of the mandate "of the multinational force" in Iraq.
"C-SPAN Favors Conservative Think Tanks 3-to-1 Over Left-of-Center, Study Finds" (thanks Sam)
Some Lebanese artists suffer some much from the complex of "international recognition." Ever since the brief success of Omar Sharif, every Lebanese expected to be the next Omar Sharif. And when they don't get international recognition, they just make it up. Ilyas Rahbani said that his music is now heard at "US and European airports." Yes, Iylas. Next time I hear the tune Hanna As-Sakran (Hanna, the drunk) at Denver airport, I shall let you know.
PS Can somebody find me the link to the long political interview with Omar Sharif in Al-Ahram (Arabic)? I could not find it. Please find it NOW for me.
There was this children show on Lebanese LBC-TV. And do you notice that they talk to children as if they are eternal morons on Lebanese TV? So they were talking about the invention of the wheel. These two anchors were saying that the wheels were always for thousands of years found in "the East." The guy then added: here, in the East, "like in Lebanon and Jordan".
The displaced people of Nahr Al-Barid are staging a strike (only covered well in As-Safir and Al-Akhbar). But they seem to focus their anger at UNRWA: they seem afraid of expressing their anger at the Lebanese government.
The entire Middle East region was nervous today. You see, the Lebanese Army was conducting military maneuvers. They simulated a confiscation of a smuggled potato. Exercises went perfectly. The Lebanese war on terrorism continues.
"People in Saudi Arabia deeply dislike countryman Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, yet have only lukewarm views about the United States, one of the kingdom's allies, a poll showed Monday." (thanks Kumar)
The speaker in the Grand Mosque in Mecca spoke during the Hajj. His speech contained a warning to Muslim women to resist temptations. Beware.
"Saudi King Pardons Rape Victim Sentenced to 200 Lashes." The Western media are full of praise for the king for this "pardon." Are we supposed to send him a golden blender? We are supposed to praise him for forgiving a rape victim for her rape? What is next for this magnanimous king? Will he forgive a murder victim for his murder too?
"An advocacy group is hiring students as on-campus promoters of Israel." (thanks Yasmine)
"The White House said Tuesday that democracy would "soon" come to Cuba." As soon as it has come to Iraq?
"Bill Clinton's presidential library raised more than 10 percent of the cost of its $165 million facility from foreign sources, with the most generous overseas donation coming from Saudi Arabia, according to interviews yesterday. The royal family of Saudi Arabia gave the Clinton facility in Little Rock about $10 million, roughly the same amount it gave toward the presidential library of George H.W. Bush, according to people directly familiar with the contributions." (thanks FLC)
HRW: "Jordan: End Unneeded Restraints on Civil Society"
A man died in Bahrain during a demonstration.

Monday, December 17, 2007

$7.4 billion to prop up a collaborationist regime; $7.4 billion to kill off the Palestinian revolution. Let me guess: it will not work. Not even for $10 billion. Not even for $20 billion.
The Damascus Winter continues. Human Rights Watch said: "Syria should immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Ahmad Tohme, Jabr al-Shoufi, Akram al-Bunni, Dr. Fida’ al-Hurani, and `Ali al-Abdallah from detention, Human Rights Watch said today." (thanks Nadim)
Al-Arabiya TV is covering the withdrawal of British troops from Basrah as if Muslim rule has been returned to Spain.
I called my mother to say hi, and she was up in arms. She was furious with my last article (today) in Al-Akhbar, as are other members of the family. They were quite unhappy that I am criticizing "everybody." My sister did not like it that I criticized AlJazeera and Nasser. I had to reiterate that I can only write what I feel. My mother is also concerned that I will not be able to visit any of the Arab countries. She was quite angry but I diffused the situation by breaking into song: "And from the window, I will throw off myself to you, and from the window."
"As if political instability and rampant insecurity in the Middle East are not worrying enough, Israeli experts are warning that a major earthquake could strike the region at any time."
Who but the New York Times would humanize this notorious bigot? "Mr. Savage can be surprisingly unintimidating in person, standing 5-foot-7 and looking, on this day, like he had sprung from an L. L. Bean catalog in a bright orange corduroy shirt, black fleece vest and tan chinos, with a miniature poodle at his feet. He can also project charm, insisting that a visitor just off a cross-country flight pause to have a turkey sandwich with potato salad." And the Goebbels' children loved uncle Hitler who used to give them candy.
"While the movie was cut to a tight 97 minutes, the creators still found space to deliver a political primer on Afghan tribes, Pakistani dictators and sub-rosa cooperation between Israel and its Islamic enemies."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Senior Saudi clerics warn against inflation.
"Fayyad, a respected economist, has won the support of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for his three-year development plan, including promises to trim the oversized public payroll and reduce hundreds of millions of dollars in utility subsidies. The IMF has said the plan is ambitious, but doable." (thanks Yasmine)
According to Arab banker, Ibahim Dabdub, GCC countries will become the biggest foreign lenders of the US by 2010.
Mark my words. Egyptian Islamist intellectual, Fahmi Al-Huwaydi, may soon be banned from writing in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. In an interview on Al-jazeera he made some critical remarks about the Saudi government--and he is not known for taking decisive positions, which explains why he is the most syndicated writer in the Arab world.
I am not making this up. This is from a military parade by Saudi police. Don't they resemble Zarqawi's men (I mean, in more than in ideology?) (Reuters)
Ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah rules against suicidal attacks on civilians.
The people of Nahr Al-Barid speak out.
The Lebanese Army tries to intimidate a reporter at Al-Akhbar.
PS For Lebanon to brag about its army, is like for Israel to brag about its human rights.
"Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said he is seeking Saudi King Abdullah's permission to sell an expensive set of jewelry the royal gave his wife at an OPEC summit in Riyadh last month. In his weekly radio address to the nation on Saturday, Correa said he wanted to sell the jewels — which include earrings and a necklace made of diamonds and emeralds and set in white gold — to finance social programs in Ecuador." (thanks Hedayat)
Amer sent me this link with this comment: "What a dirty article: From the terms employed, to the reporting, al-'arabiya is the most insidious media outlet that ever existed in the arab world."
Flip-flop of the Faqih. I have never been selected as a "spiritual guide" for anything (I once was asked to serve as a spiritual guide for the local IKEA store but I turned it down), although I once played the role of spiritual guide on the soap opera the Bald and the Beautiful, but I don't know much about the qualifications of the Iranian spiritual guide, who is supposed to the most grand of all Ayatullahs (and Ayatullahs are "grand" and dandy by defintion). But how can the Iranian Ayatullah switch his position from opposing the American occupation of Iraq, to supporting to that occupation, and back and forth?
My article in Al-Akhbar: "Return to the "No"s of Khartum: For the Revival of the Wooden Language."
"Ashenburg focuses on Western Europe and the United States, covering everything from fear of hot water (the Visigoths believed it was emasculating, while the French later saw it as a disease spreader) to British suspicion of bidets (which they thought would encourage oral sex)...Cleanliness certainly had its dark side: the soap-averse Inquisition used the fact that Jews and Moors were “known to bathe” as evidence against them, while at least one 18th-century British doctor dismissed warm baths as a “luxury borrowed from the effeminate Asiatics.”...The Romans spent hours at their elaborate bathhouse complexes, but not everyone equated cleanliness with virtue: Seneca rebuked shvitz lovers for not smelling “of the army, of farm work and of manliness,” while early Christian ascetics embraced filth as a sign of godliness. In the Middle Ages, the struggle between Christians and Muslims sometimes resembled a battle of the bathhouses. “One of the Spaniards’ first actions during the Reconquest,” Ashenburg writes, was to destroy the baths that had made Arab Spain “the cleanest corner of early medieval Europe.” The Crusaders brought bathhouse customs back from the Middle East, but the plague soon put an end to their resurgent popularity...(Even now, Ashenburg reports, 40 percent of Frenchmen and 25 percent of Frenchwomen do not change their underwear daily.)"
Dahlan and Mofaz (thanks Hicham)
Who but this genius can come up with such sensible and specific plans to save the planet? Ditto for all of us. If you want to help preserve the Indonesian forests, think fast, start quick, act now. Just don’t say later." And do you notice that he talks and writes like a school teacher talking to toddlers? No, he sounds like a toddler.
NBN (Nabih Birri Network) has been running constant propaganda ads on behalf of US AID. Somebody was paid good money for those ads.
When you read books of classical Arabic literature and poetry, you learn that Muslims used to fall in love and have sex during the Hajj. Now, they are only allowed to express their love for Prince Nayif.
On Sundays in Lebanon during mass: the audience is constantly reminded that it is illegal to pelt the Maronite Patriarch with eggs. So if you find yourselves traveling in Lebanon, please remember that it is illegal to pelt the Maronite patriarch with eggs.
"The survey's results suggest that only 2% of Basra residents believe that British troops have had a positive effect on the province since they helped the US overthrow Saddam Hussein in March 2003." (thanks Amer)
Silly Lebanese ranking, again. You are supposed to be impressed here: "The World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked Lebanon 33rd globally and sixth regionally in terms of ease in paying taxes." What about the ease in coming up with silly rankings? That should put Lebanon first.
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? "Israel is becoming increasingly concerned with the deadlock in Lebanon over the election of a new president and the possibility that Hizbullah will gain a third of the seats in the cabinet, granting it the power to veto major government decisions." (thanks Marian)
When a candidate advances in a US political race, his/her pro-Israeli pronouncements increase in frequency and intensity.
The Mossad: in the dark. I sometimes recommend a bad book. One such book is Efraim Halevy's Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man who Led the Mossad. Former CIA director, Stansfield Turner is right. The Mossad is not an excellent intelligence agency but that it is excellent in PR. It has been able to mislead Arabs (and specifically Palestinians) to think that it knows everything and can do everything. In reality, the knowledge and abilities of the organization were much more limited. And whatever it was able to do was due to the absence of human rights constraints (so sure it can kill and torture, right and left), and to the cooperation that it has received from Arab regimes. You read this book and you are so unimpressed. I mean, the former head of the Mossad, who claims that he knows Arabic, only refers to Hamas as "Khammas." The first time I saw the word I assumed that he may be referring to some other word. There is a scene in the book in which this Mossad expert is talking to the CIA "legendary figure," Jim Angleton (who loved Israel) and both are wondering whether Arafat knew German, and Angleton offered that Arafat had studied engineering in Munich. They could have asked any Palestinian to tell them that their information was wrong, and Arafat knew not one word of German. (pp. 7-8) (Hani Al-Hasan had studied in Germany--but Mossad experts always confuse Palestinian leaders (they all have "Abu" in their names, and sometimes they confuse Palestinian leaders with innocent bystanders and waiters, so they simply try to kill all of them). But you read about a few things here and there: "Israel had made repeated efforts to bolster Jordanian-supported groups and individuals but to no apparent avail."(p. 15) And he casually mentions that Israel "was allied with the white regime of South Africa." (p. 17). I like the Mossad's reference to "the then extremist Libyan leader." (p. 18). Once you serve US interests, you lose your extremism. How magical. He also hints at an Israeli presence in Afghanistan (p. 21) on the side of those fanatical fundamentalist groups who later produced Al-Qa`idah. We have heard of that before: that Israel even (he does not say that) diverted some of the PLO's arms after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon into the various religious fanatics who were fighting the communist regime in Afghanistan. But the book is really a tribute to King Husayn (or King Khuuuuuusssaaayyyn, as Shimon Peres calls him) and his brother. I mean, the Hashemite monarch did not do a thing without consulting with the Mossad first. And Prince Hasan was also very close to them (after his ouster from power, Prince Hasan has been trying to pose as a militant Arab nationalist). It was fascinating to read about the origins of the sectarian plan for the regime: King Husayn was speaking about Sunni-versus-Shi`ite apparently as far back as 1990, and he justified his love affair with Saddam Husayn in those terms. Now we know why his son was the first to speak in such blatant sectarian terms after the American invasion of Iraq.(p. 24) You also read about Israeli relation with Qatar and Qatari pressures on Palestinian groups, including of course Khkhkhkhammmmmmmaaaas. The author has the narration skills of a phone book, but I can't wait to read the book by the current head of the Mossad who will tell us about the daring Israeli raid that captured Hasan Nasrallah, the grocer, during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. Don't you all want to read about that?
"When the Iraqi government last month invited home the 1.4 million refugees who had fled this war-ravaged country for Syria -- and said it would send buses to pick them up -- the United Nations and the U.S. military reacted with horror. U.N. refugee officials immediately advised against the move, saying any new arrivals risked homelessness, unemployment and deprivation in a place still struggling to take care of the people already here. For the military, the prospect of refugees returning to reclaim houses long since occupied by others, particularly in Baghdad, threatened to destroy fragile security improvements."
This article by Hani As-Siba`i confirms my suspicions: that the "recantations" by leaders in Jihad and Al-Jama`ah Al-Islamiyyah (including the recent one by Dr. Sayyid Imam) are insincere and part of a dissimulation campaign. (And of the culprits in the recent bombing in Algeria was one of those who had previously repented).
"Sarkozy denounced 'those who excessively and irresponsibly criticised the Libyan leader's visit'. Kouchner added: 'Libya has moved on. Are we not to encourage countries that evolve?'" Evolve? How I would like that you define evolution to me.
And this from the Guardian, not Fox News: "...which included his troop of beautiful virgin female guards." How did the correspondent know that they were "virgins"? Or is that only to evoke the images of virgins in "paradise"?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Iyad Jamal Ad-Din is a member of the puppet parliamentary bloc of Iyad `Allawi (the former puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/confirmed fabricator/Saddam's henchman) and is a pro-Saudi Shi`ite cleric. He is very eloquent and media savvy. He was on Saudi TV, as he is favored in Saudi media. He is known for saying that the Iraqi people ought to kiss the hands of the American occupations soldiers in gratitude. He claims that he survived five assassination attempts although nobody can find evidence of any of them. To confirm his religiosity, he said that he recites to himself Surat As-Samad 1000 times a day (among other Suwar from the Qur'an). Hell, I recite Jingle Bells 5000 times a day but I never brag about that.
I read that Muqtada As-Sadr wants to advance in his study to become an Ayatullah. I kid you not. Is this what the Arab world needs? Another Ayatullah?
"Lawmakers in Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region approved a measure that would allow charges of "vague offenses" relating to terrorism or disturbing security to be brought against journalists, drawing protests Friday from Kurdish journalists and an international media advocate."
This is reportedly a tape of a meeting between US officers and a leader from Al-Anbar (a leader from that same Abu Risha family). Fascinating: it shows the behind-the-scenes dynamics. So much for the public praise of the "revival of Anbar councils". (I wish they don't have the annoying headlines and the annoying editing and repetitions). (thanks Amer)
"Sealed off by Israel, Gaza reduced to beggary: Crisis grows as import of medicine, gas, and other basic items is restricted"
Thanks to anonymous for sending me (from Damascus?) the 5-volumes documentary history of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It has the mark of Qays `Abdul-Karim (Abu Layla). It is a useful reference work. I have an article on Nayif Hawitmah planned for Al-Akhbar, so it arrived at a good time. One sentence in volume 1 (Al-Jabhah Ad-Dimuqratiyyah: An-Nash'ah wa-l-Masar) got my attention. It says: "The organizational structure of the Democratic Front is horizontal circular in principle." (p. 41) What the potato is that??
"Bank Hapoalim and Israel Discount Bank are facing charges in New York federal court that they violated American anti-terrorism finance laws by allegedly serving as a conduit for Hamas. The accusations come from the Arab Bank of Jordan, which was first accused of similar charges and is now striking back by throwing the charges at the Israeli banks." (thanks Yasmine)
PS That reminds me. For the hitherto best and most thorough critique of the "financial war on terror," see Ibrahim Warde, The Price of Fear: The Truth Behind the Financial War on Terror. (Berkeley: UC Press, 2007). Warde's critique should be integrated into the mainstream debate, but it will not. Not in the US and nor in the Saudi (and Qatari) Arab press.
This is a link to the Kuwait newspaper, As-Siyasah, in which Francois Al-Hajj was accused by Hariri propagandists of loyalty to Hizbullah and Michel `Awn. (thanks N.)
This is destined to change the course of the war. "U.S. calls on Mongolia to continue sending soldiers to Iraq" (thanks Bill in Kabul)
"The media were not permitted in, and most Lebanese outlets ignored or denied the outrages. When I managed to slip inside, I was shocked by the scope of the damage. The buildings were crumpled, windows broken, electrical wiring yanked out, water pumps destroyed, generators stolen or shot up. All the gold jewelry had been stolen, as had been the cash that so many Palestinians had stored in their bedrooms. Insulting graffiti were scrawled on the charred walls, as were threats, signed by various Lebanese army units. Every car in the camp that I saw had been burned, shot or crushed by tanks or bulldozers. The ruination had been strikingly personal; I saw photo albums that had been torn to shreds. Palestinians told me that they had seen their belongings on sale in the main outdoor market in Tripoli. Like all institutions in Lebanon, the army is sectarian, a fact that helps explain the devastation. Most of the soldiers fighting in Nahr al-Bared had been Sunnis from northern Lebanon; the Sunnis had once seen Palestinian militias as friendly, but now they blamed the Palestinians for the outsiders of Fatah al-Islam and unleashed their fury on the camp. By contrast, refugees told me, Shiite soldiers from the south had been far kinder and more supportive after the fighting." Yes, but don't assume that those sects stick to any position on principles. Back in the 1980s, Shi`ite soldiers and militia men were most ruthless and merciless in their mistreatment of Palestinians. They led--at the behest of the Syrian regime--the war of the camps--or, more accurately, the massacres in the camp. Back then, the Amal movement and the Shi`ite brigade of the Lebanese Army banned food to the Palestinians in the camp. A fatwa was obtained to permit residents to eat rats and mice. These are the sects of Lebanon.