Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
* To show you the ignorance of the Western AND Arab media. That Rome attack is still referred to as one of the "operations" of the PFLP when it was perpetrated by a Fath defector, Abu Mahmud (Ahmad `Abdul-Ghafur) who, under direction from the Libyan regime, formed a small gang, known as Arab Nationalist Youth for the Liberation of Palestine. Later, Arafat sent hit men after Abu Mahmud and he was gunned down in September 1974, in Beirut. If you are in doubt, would you kindly check the facts first? Or even call me. No, don't you ever call me. Never mind.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Cheap shot: Arab Neo-Conservatism in a word or two. Hazim Saghiyyah, the dean of former Arab leftists, in his regular column in a Jordanian newspaper, takes the opportunity of George Habash's death to....praise the Jordanian regime. (But don't get me wrong: Al-Ghadd is a serious newspaper, and has a special supplement (cover above) for the birthday of King PlayStation, under the headline "A Sun Illuminating the Future." There is a fundamentally juicy irony of bashing George Habash under this picture and this banner, no?)
"Bush in the laps of Arab Kings
They prostrated themselves to his majesty one by one, king by king and sheikh by sheikh. The oil sheikhs flocked to greet the beloved American as if meeting a date, their hearts throbbing with desire to set their eyes on him. As the Arab poet Al-Akhtal Al-Saghir wrote “they lowered their heads to perform prayer rituals.” The praise him day and night and seek his favor [mercy]. Even the king who prays only [from atop] a gold-plated throne sped to the airport adoringly. He hurried to the plane’s stairs and could hardly believe his own eyes. Bush in his flesh and bone and arrogance blessed the kingdom’s soil. But alas, if only the president had brought along his steadfast army. Like America’s other “democratically elected” allies in the area, the “democratically elected” king showed unprecedented excitement. At the airport he almost jumped out of his skin. The very earth shook beneath his feet. Nobody is too noble before his majesty.
We don’t know what they talked about, though it’s conceivable that Arab oil princes chanted “we sacrifice our lives and blood for you, Bush” (by the way, can you imagine a more hideous chant?) The dialogue between the two seemed warm. Did the custodian of the royal family request the honor of shining the president’s shoes? Did he encourage him to wage more wars? Did he ask him to issue [fatwas] for publication in Arab media?
Women became infertile after Bush’s birth, they told him. What an honor it was for Arab kings and princes to receive a visit from their peerless master. He came to bestow his greetings and issue his orders. “Normalize with Israel, lower oil princes and appear to be afraid of Iran,” he commanded. The orders were clear and direct. Those kings, princes and sheikhs were told “
Saudi media were ecstatic. They cheered, rejoiced and celebrated. Al-Arabiyya channel anchor Najwa Qasim, who graduated from the Hariri media school of thought, could hardly keep herself together. She repeated “Air Force One” in English more than once and invited viewers (only male viewers because they think of females as “pedunda”) to await the holy plane’s engines to turn off. It was a plane that, unlike any other place, descended from heaven. A flight of angels carried the plane to the kingdom’s soil, which became even holier and loftier when their lord set foot on it. If they could, Arab princes and kings would have toured Bush on a magic carpet and fed him manna and honey. It was a scene like we’d never seen before, with Arab kings and princes appearing as small as we’ve always known them to be. They rejoiced, for their worshipped lord came to them during the last days of his presidency to personally announce his intent to sell them weapons. They sprinkled rice, saphron and herbs on his head. They did even more to honor him; they laid down torn-off body parts of Palestinian, Lebanese and Iraqi children.
This is the hand of a child from
Bush praised the Dubai experiment, and why wouldn’t he?
Claimants of piety and religiosity, who besides yourselves are you trying to fool? Your precious gifts are closer to your hearts than your prayer times, as Hariri in his Maqamat said, then you imposed on us the most stringent, conservative, intolerant and sexist creed. You are the ones who opposed enlightenment, open-mindedness, socialism, and class and gender equality among people. You imposed on us a form of fundamentalism that hardly existed or was otherwise on its way to oblivion. You trained, funded and armed Abdul Nasser’s and Communism’s enemies. You gave rise to Bin Laden and today you disagree with him only on foreign policy. Distributors of religious supremacy, don’t you realize that you’re losing legitimacy? What are you without your riches and your oil? Do you actually believe the homages recited about you? Your Mecca is in the west’s nightclubs, not in the Arabian Peninsula.
What have you done to us, oil kings and princes, what have you done to us? Like
How you have harmed the Arabs’ image in the west due to your never-ending quest for pleasure. The West’ nightclubs and brothels know you more than your own sand dunes do. You’ve exploited your own resources and holy sites for colonialism and you’ve made oil a toy in westerners’ hands, enriching them and impoverishing us. You don’t even control your own dates.
You buy weapons for the sole purpose of enriching the west’s treasuries. When foreign powers threaten your thrones you don’t fire a single bullet. Instead, you implore like children self-interested western governments to rescue you. When Sarkozy visits you he doesn’t represent the values of the French Revolution, rather he represents oil companies and latent colonial nostalgia. You’re powerful and tyrannical before your brutalized people but western rulers send goosebumps down your spines. You dance for them with your swords. The king of Bahrain presented the precious ruler who came from overseas with a gold-plates sword.
Arab oil princes and kings, may your oil deplete, may our oil deplete. You’ve used it only to serve old and new colonizers; to pursue pleasures that all religions forbid, and you even prohibit for your people permitted ones while you innovate means of pleasure known only in your bedrooms. You prohibit love between people but allow yourselves love for objects and animals. Leave us alone. Free your slaves and concubines and return to the desert with your camels. You’ve learned nothing from nomadic life besides shortcomings and sexism. Leave us and return to ages that are better equipped to suit your moods, mentality and fanaticism. When your oil vanishes you’ll hear, and the Arab public will be thrilled to hear, the true opinions of your influence in Lebanese politics and journalism. Only then will liberal Wahhabi Arabs alert Arab press to human rights abuses in the kingdoms of oppression. Only then will you abhor public beheadings and stoning of lovers from both sexes. Only then will they confront you and notice that your monarchies cannot be reconciled with notions of modernity. Leave us alone and let your people create their own path without you and your agency of colonialism that appointed you and kept you in power in spite of your people’s will. You’ve polluted our natural, political and moral environments. Go back to the desert and let us be because we can’t take you anymore. Haven’t you oppressed your people enough? Do you never get enough of oppressing your citizens and all Arab citizens, you allies of all dictators in the world? Idi Amin and Jafar Al-Nemeiri could find no other safe haven besides you, allies of Mobutu and Franco.
Oil kings and princes, if I could only tell you what Arabs and westerns alike say about you. Oh if I could only record the east’s and west’s words about you. When your oil disappears you’ll realize how the world despises you. You’re symbols of reactionary fanaticism and polygamy. You’re as far as possible from “the light of reason” as Ibn Al-Arabi termed it. You don’t exert influence on a country without corrupting it with your money and rendering it stricter and more authoritarian and oppressive. You practice repression and religious and sectarian exclusion while you preach coexistence to Lebanon. You produce nothing but oil and Bin Baz’s religious decrees. If the average Arab could access you, you would hear from him (and especially from her) the depth of the tragedy you’ve inflicted on us. You’ve been the best ally for Arabs’ and Muslims’ enemies, and your oil gave you the opportunity to speak for Arabs and Muslims. We’ve been in a prolonged coma because of your oil riches and totalitarianism and you’ve been in a prolonged coma because you have no connection to reality. If your oil were to disappear you’d know how people and even some religious scholars perceive Bin Baz’s religion decrees on photography, the sun’s orbit and prayer in outer space. If oil were to disappear anytime soon, revolutions and rebellions would probably break out at oil wells, and the Palestinian revolution would cleanse itself from your filth.
What can we say about you? In any case, we won’t bid you farewell when you leave. The only ones who will miss you are those who received your and Saddam’s gifts (before he withheld them). You’re a group that breaches its promises, and backs out when it is supposed to advance (paraphrasing the classical Arab poet Al-Muhalhal). We won’t miss your oil, and your thrones and palaces will remain only in your memories. You dragged the Egyptian army in the Yemeni War into attrition and you supported right-wing movements around the world for the love of Ronald Reagan. Arab kings and princes, get away from us; you’ve given us nothing but syphilis, coughing and pus. If the classical Al-Hutai’ah were still alive, he would’ve known how to handle you. The Arabian Peninsula will reclaim its glimmer after you’re gone. Before you ruled it, Mecca was a city for dialogue; intellectual, philosophical and legal discourse; poetry and love, and you made it a place for fanaticism, intolerance and bigotry. Arab kings and princes, give the Arabian Peninsula back to the Arabs and release your citizens from bondage. The Empty Quarter Desert beckons you."
Monday, January 28, 2008
PS Mish`al himself was busy lying to Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, and denying that the Palestinians were angry with the Egyptian regime.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
"This opinion piece is crazy. 1) The civil rights movement was accomplished, in large part, by the threat of violence. Not only the Deacons for Defense (who were armed guards protecting many of the leaders of the civil rights movement, including King), but also the National Guard. Troops and jeeps with guns on the back were what it took to get those kids into the school in Arkansas. Pretending that King was some kind of a wuss who accomplished nothing is a joke. 2) Gandhi was distinguishing between nonviolent resistance, which he explicitly said requires trength and bravery, and therefore is NOT a weapon of the weak, and passive resistance, which is to go along with evil even if you hate it. The use of that quote is deeply misleading. He was wishing his movement were more truly based in his principles, rather than falling apart, as it seemed to be doing at the time. 3) If black people, who were not only a minority, but also a minority that was already stereotyped as "violent," had turned to primarily violent means to accomplish their goals, they would have been killed. Members of the Black Panther party, who threatened violence but in fact engaged in very little violence, were shot dead in their beds. 4) Some people are actually weak. Thoughtful, committed nonviolence may be the only practical strategy in some situations. I'm not a pacifist. I accept that there are times people need to engage in guerilla warfare or tactical assassinations. But I am deeply opposed to killing civilians, and there is no way that a violent civil rights movement wouldn't have led to the deaths of many, many civilians, most of them black."
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
"Femininity and Feminism...and Culture Industry in
There is an urgent need to study a phenomenon described by Theodore’ Adorno as “Culture Industry” in Lebanon and the Arab world in the age of Rotana (a popular Arabic satellite channel) and Al-Nahar newspaper’s institutional monopoly in the age of the rising Gulf (does anyone notice, by the way, the tremendous control a single Saudi prince commands over musical and artistic taste?) Many in the Arab world, especially oil sheikhs, suffer from the complex of Lebanese excellence, which is a lie Lebanese chauvinists created and some Lebanese and Arabs believe. This is why we find Lebanese (male and female) media personalities in oil media, while anchors from
What I term “Cultural Mafia” is apparent in
Without discussion, Al-Nahar decided in the sixties that it was able and qualified to decide the essence and definitions of the civilized and the sophisticated in art, culture and politics, contrary to other media outlets in
Al-Nahar newspaper promotes and demotes whomever it wishes according to its own random, arbitrary, personal and political standards. For instance Joumana Haddad, in her interview cited below, talks about “objective” standards in deciding poets and writers to decide to who “deserves” to be written about in the cultural section of Al-Nahar newspaper. Unfortunately, Al-Nahar newspaper’s standards spread in several publications in
Joumana Haddad and Challenging Sexism
Studying literature through a gender prism is not rejected in the post-modern school of literature, but it tends to formulize and restrict female literary scholarship. Viewing a woman, regardless of profession and rank, as a physical body is an expression of sexism, such as Abbas Baydoun’s focus on Benazir Bhutto’s beauty, posture, elegance and sexual appearance; he seemed happy that she wasn’t flabby before her death. In addition, the element of sexual repression influences marketing writings which are based on a popular desire for sexual excitement. Otherwise, what does it mean to find Nawal Al-Sa’dawi’s Woman and Sex book on the streets of several capitols surrounded by vulgar sexually provocative magazines? This factor adversely affects male writers as well: Nizar Qabbani’s Nahd’s Childhood was released and known several years before his post-1967 political writings. But Joumana Haddad didn’t want to explore sexist issues, probably because her host started the conversation with an expression of disgust with feminists because they’re “masculine” per his description, or “ugly” per her description.
Discussions with Joumana Haddad take the same format as conversations in cultural cafes in
The Lebanese is a genius by nature, due to the high content of parsley in local foods. What does it mean to be “fluent” in seven languages? Anyone who has studied four or five languages ore more knows that identical fluency in several languages is impossible. Doctoral programs at universities here and in
In response to sexist questions, Joumana Haddad spoke about her “beauty” very comfortably and confidently, exacerbated by insulting observations focusing on her outside appearance from male and female guests on the program – and who said sexism was behavior limited to men? One may consult Simone De Beauvoir’s The Second Sex or Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, which has not yet been translated to Arabic, without considering beauty a relative issue. She went a step beyond and protested the burden of her “beauty” because there were those who assume that beautiful women are superficial and “ugly” women, to quote her verbatim, are intelligent. In the name of what she deems beautiful, she invites you to evaluate her inner and outer beauty equally. It is not necessary to elaborate here; the judgment is yours to make. But she added discourse about femininity and feminism that does not reflect depth of reading in such a philosophically and intellectually rich area, or any awareness thereof outside demeaning journalism. She says she objects to feminism because it demands equality instead of seizing it. The host did not seem at all familiar with feminism to be able to discuss. He can only listen mesmerized, with his mouth open. This is the summary of theories and movements in
Haddad criticized generalizations, but spoke about feminism in generalizing terms. Which feminisms did Haddad talk about in terms of clichés which lack knowledge, let alone accuracy? Did she mean liberal feminism, existential feminism, post-modern feminism, Marxist feminism, psychological feminism, separatist feminism, socialist or grassroots? Feminism’s theoretical production is vast and abundant, and the only part that Haddad extracted was to caution us from “ugly” women. Save us, Joumana, and set the discourse and dialogue straight. What is this feminism that you caricaturized? How are intellectual and philosophical currents reduced to simplistic notions? Also, feminist movements (such as liberal feminism in the United States, grassroots in Australia, existentialist in France, socialist in Iraq or in Yemen when it was prosperous) never demanded equality, but they seized it and forced changes in the law. Law professor and feminist scholar Catherine Mackinnon did not plead to be rescued. Rather, she brought about changes in the law in the seventies to outlaw all forms of sexual harassment.
Haddad added that she preferred femininity over feminism. Feminism is a stigma in
Of course, it is unfair to focus exclusively on Joumana Haddad, but she spoke against the consensus and logic of 99.99 percent. Isn’t the culture of Al-Nahar newspaper just an expression of 99.99 of culture and predominant consensus? In the sixties Al-Nahar used to timidly express limited liberal criticisms of state and society, but today it is a militant Hariri beacon. Discourse about rebellion on the pages of Al-Nahar newspaper is akin to talking about revolution from within a shopping mall in Dubai or talking about beauty among frogs or defending an innovative form of “leftism” (by Elias Zahra) in Al-Mustaqbal newspaper. If Haddad considers her “discussion” of God rebellion, where does she stand on Mihiar Al-Dimashqi’s songs about Adonis, or Amal Danqal’s writings about Sparticus’s Last Words (Danqal is neglected in