Friday, October 31, 2008

My article in Al-Akhbar: "Thank you, Hani: I? Who am I?"
Amer sent me this email (I post with his permission): "I never tell you, like..., what "not to say", no? But I was surprised that you published that bullshit e-mail by the American student complaining about his predicament: had he been a Syrian in a legal bind or an Iraqi trying to cross in the 80s or an Arab trying to enter the US with the wrong name, he would have been treated much worse and made to wait, much much much longer. No one would have remonstrated no one for making the fucker wait, ask him if he knows what a "falka" means?"
Thomas Friedman. I know no one with more political and moral cowardice than Thomas Friedman. Here is a man who wholeheartedly supported Bush's wars, only to criticize the war when public opinion shifted. Here is a man who was a cheerleader for unregulated savage capitalism, only to offer criticisms of Wall Street when public opinion turned against Wall Street. And Thomas Friedman knew Rashid Khalidi (in Beirut and here in the US) well and yet he would not speak out to correct the record about what is being said about Rashid.
"Dr. Westen’s advice can be heard when Alisha Thomas Morgan, running for re-election to the Georgia House in a conservative suburb of Atlanta, uses the word “leadership” in place of “government” and speaks about the middle class instead of the poor."
"US election: If Iraqis could vote it would be for McCain". Read this article. The headline leaves you with the impression that the generalization was based on some survey or study. You will discover it it was based on one or two anecdotes. (thanks Ali)
You can't accuse Arab rulers of wasting Arab oil revenues. This is a car of Prince Al-Walid bin Talal. His Mercedes is covered with diamonds. If it is up to me, I would cover it with... (thanks Nabeel)
Another American student in Syria sent me this (I use with his/her permission): "I'm an American student conducting some research for my PhD in Beirut and traveled to Syria on Wednesday because my Lebanese visa was about to expire and I needed a new one. I traveled to the border with three friends, all British nationals. They all passed through without incident. I, meanwhile, was made to wait for eight hours before the Syrians let me through and allowed me to return to Beirut. To be fair, Americans were being forced to wait between one and four hours at the border to get visas *before* the attack last weekend because they have to fax our passports to Damascus and get approval. But it was clear, in this case, that the Syrians were heroically resisting the terrorist American aggression by ... taking out their frustrations on a lone American tourist. I sat through two shift changes, smoking cigarettes and talking with the guys ferrying Iranian tourists through (I even made friends with the tea boy!), and the guy in charge of the foreign arrivals desk (the third one to whom I plead my case) finally had some mercy on me and called his buddies in Damascus. I could hear him remonstrating them for making me wait so long. Anyway, I write because of the American student who wrote in from Damascus saying "the govt is so wonderfully distinguishing between the citizens and the govt of the US." Well, that's great if you're in Damascus. Alas, it's not true at the border. Anyway, I knew you would appreciate this tale of Syria's valiant resistance. If they keep it up, I'm sure they'll have the Golan liberated by Christmas."
"But the principle that the unequal distribution of wealth is a legitimate concern and government policies should mitigate it has been part of American democracy since at least the New Deal. In fact, it is a commonplace that the moderate wealth-spreading of the New Deal saved American democracy."
"An operation in 2004 meant to disrupt potential terrorist plots before and after that year’s presidential election focused on more than 2,000 immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, but most were found to have done nothing wrong, according to newly disclosed government data. The program, conducted by the Department of Homeland Security, received little public attention at the time. But details about the targets of the investigation have emerged from more than 10,000 pages of internal records obtained through a lawsuit by civil rights advocates. Parts of the documents were provided to The New York Times."
NYT: "A $50 Billion Bailout in Russia Favors the Rich and Connected." You see, the $700 billion bailout in the US favors the poor and the unconnected.
A Bangladeshi maid dies in Lebanon from apparent suicide.
Shoe resistance. (thanks Nizar)
"Algeria started constructing the biggest potato seeds laboratory in Africa in collaboration with South Korean agricultural experts, the project manager said Wednesday." (thanks Nouri)
Hummus traces were found on the shores of North Africa.
""There is a big percentage among Arabs," Palestinian political scientist Nader Al Said said, "who think both Obama and McCain are similar.""
"“For 34 years, I’ve been hot! And you want to be hot! Because when you are hot for Jesus Christ, there is nothing that is like that life!”"
"Women and children who fled fighting at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp are at risk of violence and abuse from within their community, but United Nations agencies are failing to coordinate a response to the problem."
"The Israeli military seized 15 students from the Palestine Technical College in the West Bank town of Al-Arrub, north of Hebron, after opening fire on the campus on Thursday morning, witnesses told Ma'an. The public relations officer of the college, Abed Al-Men'em Zahdah told Ma'an that "at least 15 students were arrested from the college and the agricultural school.""
"An Iraqi opposition lawmaker claimed Thursday that thousands of his countrymen are being mistreated in detention centers outside the official prison system."
This is Zionism: "In light of the rise in settler violence in the last year, the olive-picking is accompanied by fear of settlers attacking Palestinian farmers. In a grove belonging to Burin, for instance, near which the Yitzhar settlement has been built, settlers threw stones at farmers picking olives for over an hour, while soldiers stood by and did not intervene. One farmer was wounded in the head and hospitalized. In a grove by ‘Azmut, near which the Elon Moreh settlement was built, settlers attacked a family who were picking olives. The settlers stole the family’s sacks of olives, emptied the contents on the ground, and beat the father of the family."
"Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government, told The Times on Wednesday evening that he would be happy to host U.S. troops if the central government in Baghdad refuses to do so." I bet he would be happy to host. (thanks Raed)
"The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again – and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket."
""I know that the US has an interest in getting the detainees off their hands, and I know that Iraqis want to have detention powers," the executive director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, told IPS. "I also know that [the Iraqi authorities] don't feel equipped [to deal with a flood of detainees]."" Is Sarah providing the US occupation with yet another pretext to stay in Iraq indefinitely? And on what grounds? The great US care for prisoners. So Would Sarah like the US to occupy the world in order to provide better care for prisoners?
"The Palestinian Center for Human Rights has issued its weekly report for the week of October 23 - 29, 2008, documenting a number of human rights violations by Israeli troops operating in the Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip). In the last week, Israeli forces killed one elderly Palestinian and wounded 4 civilians, including 2 children." (thanks Olivia)
"Apparently Gen. David Petraeus does not agree with the Bush administration that the road to Damascus is a dead end." (thanks Marcy)
""I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over."" But the idiot wind will not blow over. It is part and parcel of the American political culture.
"Syria’s sentencing of a dozen leading democracy advocates to more than two years in prison is the latest evidence of Syria’s repression of opposition groups, Human Rights Watch said today. The democracy activists, including doctors, lawyers, writers, and an artist, were sentenced on October 29, 2008 to 30 months in prison on politically motivated charges." (thanks Nadim)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If you live in the West as long as I have lived, you realize a major paradox regarding Arabs. Nobody is more insulted and more humiliated in Western societies than moderate Arabs. It would be easier to be a self-identified radical--as I am.
"According to a poll by Gallup's Centre for Muslim Studies, 52 per cent of Iranians have an unfavourable view of the United States. But that figure is down from 63 per cent in 2001. And it's significantly lower than the degree of antipathy towards the United States felt in Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Two thirds of Jordanians and Pakistanis have a negative view of the United States and a staggering 79 per cent of Saudis. Sentiment has also turned hostile in Lebanon, where 59 per cent of people now have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, compared with just 41 per cent a year ago. No fewer than 84 per cent of Lebanese Shiites say they have a very unfavourable view of Uncle Sam."
An American student in Syria sent me this (I cite with his/her permission): " im still in damascus. so apparently the cultural center and american school are still open and running, as the order for their closing has not been "carried out" yet! ha. there was a masira in the city center today, but it didnt seem to last that long and seemed pretty staged. also i went to renew my visa today (wonderful timing) and it went even faster than normal, no problems or trouble. the govt is so wonderfully distinguishing between the citizens and the govt of the US. still some americans were "afraid" and did not go out today."
"Colombia’s government, the Bush administration’s top ally in Latin America, has been buffeted by the killings of Mr. Oviedo and dozens of other young, impoverished men and women whose cases have come to light in recent weeks. Some were vagrants, others street vendors or manual laborers. But their fates were often the same: being catalogued as insurgents or criminal gang members and killed by the armed forces." This story in the New York Times touched me deeply. No, really. I am not being sarcastic. You see the New York Times shows such concern for civilian lives. And the New York Times is certain that US occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan NEVER catalogue civilians as insurgents or terrorists. Never ever. And if the US occupation forces were to do such a thing, the New York Times would write about it on the front page. Oh, yeah.
"Israel removed cloths and shoes from the list of goods that were allowed into Gaza Strip." Don't be outraged, please. Shoes have been used by Arabs in the past as a deadly weapon agaisnt the Israeli state. The very survival of the Israeli state is threatened by Arab shoes.
"To whom could she go for help? Her family turned its back on her when she chose to divorce her ultra-Orthodox husband; her children were taken away from her; and the neighbors in her building cold shoulder her. Now it transpires that the authorities can't help either. The investigation that began with a great deal of media fuss, has ended in failure. That, of course, took place far from the public eye."
One of the most nauseating news item today is a brief statement that was released by the office of Not-Grand-at-All Ayatullah Sistani in which he expressed his attachment to Iraq's sovereignty. For Sistani to feign care about Iraqi sovereignty is like Bush expressing concern for civil liberties and peace.
"A survey conducted by the Palestinian central bureau for statistics revealed that the demographic impact of Israel's apartheid wall have doubled in the last three years, asserting that the wall led to the displacement of about 3,880 Palestinian families composed of approximately 28,000 people."
"In response, Ross described Khalidi as "a Palestinian-American who has a strong set of views" who doesn't advise Obama or influence his views." What about you, Mr. Ross. Do you have "strong set of views"? All those who have illusions about Barack Obama should note that this fellow (just read his long tedious memoirs to know where he stands) will be advising him on Arab-Israeli issues. Ariel Sharon's toes will have more influence on the Obama administration than all the Arab-Americans in this country.
""All Mickey Mouse films are founded on the motif of leaving home in order to learn what fear is," he wrote in an unpublished fragment of 1931. A shrewd observer of pop culture, who showed by turns sympathy and suspicion, Benjamin could see in Mickey Mouse what others would be more apt to attribute to Homer or the Bible."
"Muslim authorities expressed outrage on Thursday after the Israeli High Court gave the go-ahead for the construction of a Museum of Tolerance on the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem."
"In the activity of the Peres Center for Peace there is no evident effort being made to change the political and socioeconomic status quo in the occupied territories, but just the opposite: Efforts are being made to train the Palestinian population to accept its inferiority and prepare it to survive under the arbitrary constraints imposed by Israel, to guarantee the ethnic superiority of the Jews. With patronizing colonialism, the center presents an olive grower who is discovering the advantages of cooperative marketing; a pediatrician who is receiving professional training in Israeli hospitals; and a Palestinian importer who is learning the secrets of transporting merchandise via Israeli ports, which are famous for their efficiency; and of course soccer competitions and joint orchestras of Israelis and Palestinians, which paint a false picture of coexistence."
"Israel may be gearing up for its second woman Prime Minister, Tzipi Livni, but a bus company is refusing to put up posters of female contestants vying for city council elections. The Egged bus company is not allowing posters to be put up citing deference of the ultra-orthodox community."
Will Queen Youtube Youtube on that? "Migrant domestic workers in Jordan face physical abuse, long hours and poor conditions, human rights group Amnesty International has said in a report." (thanks Olivia)
"Lieberman: Mubarak can 'go to hell'". Who can disagree with that?
Yesterday, I watched the movie Obsession with my students. Are you kidding me? This was supposed to be effective propaganda? We laughed at several points of that lousy piece. My favorite part was when Pipes or other "guests" in the film reiterate that "Not all Muslims are bad: only 15 percent." And they all referred to that 15%. So I translated this to my students. They mean to say that only 200 to 250 million Muslims are bad. The rest are really good people. The amazing things about the Zionist establishment in its advocacy after Sep. 11 is the extent to which it is mimicking classical anti-Semitic trash in its campaigns against Muslims/Arabs.
The Syrian government today increased the level of its escalation in response to the US raid on Syrian territory. The government said that two Ba`thist speeches have been commissioned by the government to condemn the raid. It is not clear how the Bush administration will respond to the latest salvo from Damascus. Stay tuned. I will keep you updated about this developing story.
"23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim."
Just count the number of times Ajami uses the word "we" in this article. Some Arabs I know get so mad at Fouad Ajami. I don't. I remind them that opportunism punishes the opportunists: it kills their talents and skills, and they don't even notice. And then he says: "For all the talk about the rise of China and India, these societies, long mired in poverty and squalor and handicapped by dominant traditions of inequality and caste, are in no position to inherit the American place in the order of nations." This guy writes his typically sweeping generalizations without thinking or learning about what he writes. The US has had worse income inequality than China. In fact, China's income inequality was low until the country incorporated free enterprise. Will the US ever have a candidate who will proudly say: I am a socialist and a Marxist, and I am running for president. He then says: "The Chinese know Asia's bloody history. American hegemony has been benign." Oh, yes. American incineration of Japanese cities was quite benign, as was American colonization of the Philippines. But notice that this entire camapaign has been characterized with anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bigotry and somebody like him would not dare say a word about that: he is busy reminding the reader (seven times in one article) that he (or "we") is an American just like you. You see people like that have no dignity and pride: I imagine him at Zionist dinner party sitting and smiling while people around him are making fun of Arabs and Muslims, just as Henry Kissinger used to sit and smile when Nixon used to engage in his anti-Semitic diatribes in the Oval Office.
To readers outside of the US: this man (Thomas Friedman) charges tens of thousands of dollars for his speeches on foreign policy. Here is a sample of his sophisticated thinking on foreign policy issues: "I’ve always been dubious about Barack Obama’s offer to negotiate with Iran — not because I didn’t believe that it was the right strategy, but because I didn’t believe we had enough leverage to succeed. And negotiating in the Middle East without leverage is like playing baseball without a bat."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The (Lebanese) president's parliamentary bloc (by comrade Khalid)
US media lies and political propaganda. Sometimes you have direct experience with the US media that only confirms the perception that they--all of them: liberal and conservative alike--can't be trusted especially on Middle East issues. I woke up today to news coverage regarding that dinner which Obama in honor of Rashid Khalidi. Rashid has been described this week as "PLO spokesperson", "PLO functionary", "PLO official", "Palestinian activist", "adviser to Yasser Arafat", etc. Rashid was my teacher and adviser at the American University of Beirut from 1978 uintil 1982. And he had no official capacity with the PLO whatever. He left Lebanon and came to US in 1983: the same year I came to the US. He came to Georgetown as a visiting professor and I came as a graduate student.
"A Muslim cleric has caused public outrage in Indonesia after marrying a 12-year-old girl." (thanks Nabeel)
Firas sent me this picture with this comment (I deleted the smiling face only): "I thought of sending the picture of the new head of Gulf Bank , Qoteiba Al Ghanem .. who replaced his resigining brother after the bank lost around USD 900 million by buying failing derivatives.. A picture inspiring trust, no?"
"Inside Dubai's labour camps" (thanks Laleh)
"One in seven female soldiers who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and later sought healthcare for any reason reported being sexually harassed or assaulted during their military service, according to a study by Veterans Affairs researchers." (thanks Julie)
"“Why do you care about Arabs? You should care about Jews.”"
"Saudi King Abdullah has green-lighted Israel's participation in a meeting at the United Nations next month to discuss his initiative to promote interfaith dialogue, marking the first time the Jewish state has been invited to a conference held under the auspices of the kingdom." It is not clear whether the Saudi king and his brothers will provide dance entertainment. (thanks Marcy)
"This week, Sheikh Abdel Hamid Al Atrash, who heads the committee for fatwas, or religious edicts, at Al Azhar University in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s highest institute, ruled that women are entitled to use violence to defend themselves from abusive husbands."
Joe: the Zionist plumber.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saudi Ayatullah? You may ask: who is this dude. A legitimate question indeed. This Iraqi man has been chosen by the House of Saud to be the Grand Ayatullah of Iraq, and Saudi media has been promoting him. In this interview with the website of King Fahd's brother-in-law TV (Al-Arabiyyah Al-Bushiyyah), he brags that he is the only anti-American cleric. It is estimated that he has sevearal princes in Saudi Arabia among his supporters although he has no supporters in Iraq. (thanks Amer)
"These proposals could be the subject of Mr. Baer’s next book. Perhaps he could begin it by explaining why he seems to hold the Iranians in such awe and the Arabs in such contempt. As he writes at one point, the Arabs “lack the spiritual and intellectual depth of Iranians.” How does he know?"
This Palestinian scholar, Anis Sayigh (I wrote about him before), received a letter bomb from Israel in the early seventies because he dared Israel and Zionism.
Syria offers a most tough response to the US raid on its territory. The Syrian government said that it will suspend the showing of reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond for two weeks. No comment from the US on this high level of escalation.
"The 255th death due to lack of medical treatment resulting from the seige on Gaza passed away, Monday."
"A high-ranking American diplomat, Jacob Walles, confirmed that the Israeli settlers' attacks on Palestinian farmers in the West Bank are unacceptable." Who wrote this? The Diplomat "confirmed" that it was "unacceptable"? The US diplomat is an authority of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable?
"Leviev's companies Africa Israel and Leader have recently built homes in at least four Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2007, New York Magazine reported that Angolan security companies employed by Leviev were accused of torture, sexual abuse and even murdering Angolans. In Namibia Leviev recently fired 222 striking diamond polishers. And in Brooklyn and at the Apthorp in Manhattan, Leviev's construction of luxury apartments threatens to displace low- and moderate-income residents."
This is Zionism: "Six decades on from his death, she has never been allowed to visit his grave in Galilee and lay a wreath for the father she never met."
"Peres: Israel is closer to peace than ever before". And I am closer to winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry than ever before. (thanks Marcy)
"Rapes of women and girls are common in western Côte d'Ivoire and generally go unpunished, said residents of the region." Rapes of women and girls are common in the US too, and generally go unpunished. Justice Department reports that most rapes go unreported.
Yesterday, I watched a CNN report on US attack on Syria by its correspondent at the Pentagon (who is more dull than John Kerry). He said that US will not be hindered by borders in its defense "of US and Iraqi lives." I kid you not. After Sep. 11, US correspondents are often indistinguishable from Arab regimes' correspondents.
"An Iraqi court on Tuesday sentenced a militant to death by hanging for the grisly 2006 killing of three U.S. soldiers south of Baghdad." ("Grisly" is a word used when the white man soldier is killed by native.)
Everywhere except in the US: "Foreign Ministry officials have recently voices their concern over the growing anti-Israel mood in Germany. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered one of the most prominent pro-Israel leaders in the European Union and in the world, the public opinion in her country appears to be completely different."
"An Egyptian teacher at a primary school in Alexandria is alleged to have beaten an 11-year-old pupil to death." He may get a job an Israeli occupation settlement. They seem to specialize in this.
Some good news out there: "Palestinian PM says two-state solution threatened"
I am thinking of having Arafat's picture on my door mat. (Shoes are highly offensive in Arab and Thai culture as is well-known).
"Israeli soldiers shot and killed three young Palestinians in the Ramallah district of the central West Bank last week."
"Earlier this week, police arrested the couple who and had allegedly set up a wife-swapping club on the internet using the pseud-onyms Magdy and Samira. About 44 couples were members of the club, according to security sources. A human rights group in Egypt slammed the police for snooping on couples accused of wife-swapping."
The Palestinian version of South Lebanon Army: "The Israeli-deployed PA security elements in Al-Khalil city stormed at dawn Monday a civilian house in the Yatta town, south of the city, and opened fire at a 12-year old Palestinian child in the house, while the PA alleged that this deployment is intended for preserving the security of Palestinian citizens." (thanks Olivia)
I will be providing commentary on the US elections live from AlJazeera (Arabic) studios in Washington, DC. (My sister asked me not to wear a dark shirt). If asked, I shall also sing that famous Syrian song: The plums. The plums. From where? From where?
القراصية منين, منين.
I will then speak on Wednesday night at Northeastern University in Boston, and on Thursday night at University of Virginia.
It is really hilarious to watch Fox News these days. The anchors are just about to yell obscenities at the American people for supporting Obama. They are about to crack under stress. I want to be there when that happens.
Please get ready for a lousy and boring film, just like the Message.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Muslims in Malaysia may be barred from the ancient practice of yoga if they engage in Hindu "religious elements" during the exercise, a top Islamic cleric said Wednesday." (thanks Hamizah)
"Palin greeted Ambassador Sallai Meridor and apologized for not being able to meet with him sooner. Somewhat enigmatically, she told the ambassador: "We look forward to ... working with your Jewish agency.""
"Local banks in the United Arab Emirates have stepped up pressure on Iranian firms by freezing their assets and refusing to deal with merchants doing business with Iran, a newspaper reported on Monday." (thanks Amer)
"Syrian diplomat: Syria reserves right to respond to U.S. attack". Has this Syrian regime no sense of shame whatsoever? Has this regime any sense of its lack of credibility? Do they provide those official commentaries for comic relief? Does the Syrian regime think that there is any sane person anywhere around the world who takes seriously the utterances of this lousy regime? And will this "reserve-the-right-to-respond"-bullshit be added to previous "reserves-the-right-to-respond"- bullshit offered on previous occasions?
I am NOT making this up. The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Al-Mu`allim, said that IF Syria is attacked again, it will defend itself. I kid you not.
"A cleric's call to ban partying and dancing in the Shiite holy city of Karbala has triggered a heated debate among residents, just when they had begun living without fear of hardline militias."
""The blockade and the closure of the checkpoints have greatly affected my work. I've had to cancel plans to participate in international workshops and conferences to exchange information and represent Palestine.""
"For some reason, all Lebanese smoke cigars when they are talking about financial folly." No, Mr. Fisk. Not all Lebanese. These are the wealthy March 14 Lebanese (Hariri cheerleaders like you) that you talk to. Maybe your driver, Abed, should take you to areas where poor people can't afford to smoke cigars. Get around a bit, Mr. Fisk. Maybe then you can start making sense about Lebanon.
"In the early 1960's, Israel funneled more than $5 million into US propaganda and lobbying operations. The funding, equivalent to more than $35 million in today's dollars, was laundered from the the quasi governmental Jewish Agency into an Israel lobby umbrella group, the American Zionist Council. This two page master plan was subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and discussed in the 1963 hearings on Israel's US foreign agents." (thanks Karim)
"The common denominator to all these operations is that nobody takes the Syrians seriously anymore, given the repeated violations of their sovereignty. It is doubtful the domestic security situation there has ever been this unstable." (thanks Matthew)
"A Palestinian schoolgirl was injured on Monday when Israeli forces opened fire at her school and the surrounding farms in southeast Gaza Strip, witnesses and medical sources said."
""The public got as much truth as we could squeeze out, given that we told downright lies.""
""We need quotas for the next eight to 12 years," al-Obosi says." We need quotas here in the US too.
"Stinking sewage runs through rutted and pocked streets in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. It was four years and nearly $100 million ago that Americans promised to take care of the problem, in perhaps one of the most wrong-headed rebuilding projects ever attempted in Iraq."
"Arab members of parliament have upped their criticism of Kurdish militia practices in provinces bordering their semi-independent enclave. Latest accusations include the forcing of 13,000 Arab families to flee the restive Province of Diyala of which Baaquba is the capital."
Only fair. "The most controversial article in the draft agreement is on troop immunity. While the U.S. gives up immunity for U.S. troops who are "off duty and off base" if they commit major or intentional crimes, the U.S. retains the authority to determine whether they were off duty."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"The U.S. military has warned Iraq that it will shut down military operations and other vital services throughout the country on Jan. 1 if the Iraqi government doesn't agree to a new agreement on the status of U.S. forces or a renewed United Nations mandate for the American mission in Iraq." (thanks Olivia)
President Obama? Or how to really REALLY Piss Off Fox News. If Obama is elected president he can easily piss off Fox News and the Drudge Report. He can for example address the nation and say the following: "My real name is Hasan Husayn Obama, and I am really a Muslim Arab but did not want to admit that because I would not have been elected. I hereby announce that William Ayers shall be appointed as Director of FBI, and Dennis Kucinich will be appointed as Secretary of Defense. As for Rev. Wright, he shall serve as director of CIA. I would also like to appoint Angry Arab as my special Tsar for the Dismantlement of the Zionist Entity. And Immanuel Wallterstein will serve as Secretary of Treasury. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have been a committed Marxist-Leninist all my life. Good night."
"A joint Iraqi-US committee will decide whether Iraqi or US jurisdiction will be applicable to crimes committed by American soldiers off post and off duty, said a top Iraqi diplomat." I don't want to interfere in delicate negotitations but I have consulted with Grand Ayatullah Sistani, and he recommended the following: if US soldiers commit their crimes on duty, they shall be given 4 kgs of Arabic sweets. And if they commit their crimes off duty, they shall be given 2 kgs of Arabic sweets. Matter is settled. Good night.
"Security forces in Natanz have arrested two suspected "spy pigeons" near Iran's controversial uranium enrichment facility, the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper reported on Monday." (thanks Wassim)
Iraqi oil workers stage a sit-in. (thanks Amer)
"Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian man harvesting his olive trees in the village of Talluza north of the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday."
The purpose of the Egyptian Army: "Egypt reinforced its forces on the border with Gaza Strip after two days of cracking down on underground smuggling tunnels, local residents and Palestinian sources said on Saturday. Egyptian troops, backed with military vehicles and armored personnel carrier, deployed heavily on the Egyptian side of the borders, according to residents of Rafah, the Palestinian city the shares the borders with Egypt."
Don't cry for them Phoenicia: "As George Rezk, a former SLA colonel who now works in the Nahariya City Hall in charge of Lebanese affairs said bluntly, "It's a big mistake how the government has treated us." Rezk said the Lebanese community in Israel is now at a crucial juncture because government financial subsidies to have been tapering off and are expected to stop completely by November 2009." The Jerusalem Post would like to feel sorry for those killers, torturers, collaborators, thieves, rapists, and executioners. And look at this collaborators feeling sorry for himself: ""Everyone, and not just high-ranking SLA officers, should be connected with the Defense Ministry," Diab said. "It's a matter of our honor and an acknowledgment of what we've done.""
The report by Robert Fisk on Abu Nidal is not as the headline of the article advertises. If you read it and re-read it: you can only learn of the allegations and claims of Saddam's intelligence service. And Fisk is correct to raise doubts about Abu Nidal's infiltration through Iran. And why would Abu Nidal who started his offshoot organization in Baghdad, under the auspices of Saddam's intelligence apparatus, need to infiltrate into Iraq? And the accusations regarding his links to Egyptian, Kuwaiti, and American intelligence services is typical of Saddam's intelligence service's accusation vis-a-vis whoever is in custody. Abu Nidal may have started as a man of principle who rebellled against Arafat's capitulationist policies and corruption. But that is also doubtful because he quickly emerged as a gun-for-hire and he followed the fluctuations of Iraqi foreign policy, or Libyan, or whatever master he selected. He also negotiated with Abu Iyad in later years which only casts doubts about his motives. Patrick Seale's biography of him is useful but it is based on the files of Abu Iyad. And Abu Nidal (regarding what was said in the article) always executed members of the organization. I have copies of his underground mouthpiece from the 1980s and every issue contains news of execution of members for being "traitors". And Fisk should have mentioned that Habbush (Saddam's chief of intelligence who handled the news of his "death") had been working for American intelligence as we recently learned from Ron Suskind's recent book. The one thing that we know for sure about Abu Nidal: is that he really really shot himself--as was claimed by Saddam's regime--thirteen times in the back from an AK-47 after subjecting himself to merciless torture and then dragging his own body from the bedroom to the living room.
"State security police have kept journalists under pressure despite King Abdallah II’s promises of democratic reform. A new government after parliamentary elections in November 2007 did not produce major changes for the media and self-censorship continues." (thanks Shihadeh)
"Israel is rewarding the Palestinian Authority for its work in detaining militants, Barhoum said." (thanks Mal)
"And so quiet negotiations alongside the framework of the larger security deal seem set to allow the United States military to continue confining some dangerous detainees at the Iraqis’ request." (thanks Olivia)
"In fact, the army was deliberately kept weak by the country’s Syrian overseers, who did not want a strong alternative force." Oh, yes. The US government wanted to supply Lebanon with the most advanced weaponry but the Syrian government prevented the US from supplying the Lebanese Army. Oh, yeah.
He is back.
"Clarion refuses to reveal the identity of donors who funded the making of the "Obsession" in 2006 and paid for the costs associated with its distribution."
A reader sent me Neve Gordon's reaction to my review of his book (see below). I only have one comment: why do some authors have the habit of accusing their critical reviewers of not reading their books, or not "carefully" reading their books? Also, did Gordon not understand that my point about Khalil Sakakini was ironic? And he mentioned some of the Palestinian sources he cited in the book, but he proves my point: that he mentions them if they spoke in English. (Oh, and I am reviewing the book for Choice too).

"Thanks. Yes, you can forward my mail. Yes, I understand his point, and I added a sentence to what I wrote you earlier. See below..
Thanks for alerting me to this. First, I am happy the book was reviewed and would like to thank the reviewer. Unfortunately, though, it seems to me that the reviewer did not read the book carefully and wanted me to write a different book (perhaps the book he would have liked to write). For instance, in the Preface (that is posted on my site), I emphasize that one cannot solve the occupation without taking into account the "ethnic cleansing" that took place in 1948, but I explain that 1948 has been discussed at length and that I want to concentrate on how the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has ticked. That is the objective of this book and I think it should be judged according to what it sets out to do and not according to what other people would have liked it to do. Therefore, the critique about not citing Khalil Sakakini is out of place because he wrote at the beginning of the previous century. I do, however, use -- quite extensively -- the human rights reports of Al-Haq and testimonies given by Palestinians to the United Nations (not to mention Said, Tamari, Khalidi, Hamami and others that are cited), so I think that it is too harsh to claim that I do not cite Arab or Palestinian soures. Also the claim that I portray the occupation as benign because I claim that Israel aimed to secure the livelhood of Palestinians during the first years misses the whole argument. I claim that securing the livelihood was a form of control that aimed to normalize and perpetuate the occupation and was not carried out for humane reasons. So while I am very grateful for the review, I think the book deserves a more careful and generous reading.
Thanks, Neve"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said Friday." This makes it more urgent than ever. There is a need to issue the mother of all fatwawawas. I want to issue a final fatwawawa to end all fatwawawa once-and-for-all. (thanks Toufic)
"As the economy continues to unravel, we can expect women and children to become even more vulnerable than they are right now. Women are more likely to live in poverty, work minimum wage jobs, work part-time, and thus receive fewer benefits despite also shouldering childcare and eldercare responsibilities. To boot, women overall earn less than men for the same work, and Black and Latina women earn even less."
"The Arabs48 news website reported on Friday that a group of extremist Jewish residents of Akka (Acre) attacked on last Tuesday a pregnant Arab woman as she was on her way to an Arab school in the town where she works as a teacher." (thanks Olivia)
"The report, Holmberg said, accused the company of acting in an "unethical" manner and of "violating international law" by having a subsidiary in the West Bank." (thanks Marcy)
I was looking forward to reading Neve Gordon's Israel's Occupation (University of California Press). Gordon has written critical pieces about Israeli occupation before and I was expecting the treatment to be sharper and tougher. I was rather disappointed. First, there is a tradition in the so-called Israeli peace camp where Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is treated separately and apart from the history of Zionism and from the injustice that the very creation and continuation of the Israeli state represent. Had he put the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the context (in a first chapter for example) of Zionist history and doctrine, it would have made his book more acceptable politically. But the notion that you can discredit and delegitimize Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, while refraining from delegitimizing the Zionist project as a whole is like offering partial condemnations of cruelty and aggression. And the author--typical of Israeli scholarship, on the left and on the right--totally disregards what the Palestinians have to say in Arabic about the Israeli occupation of their lands, unless they wrote that in English. I was expecting him to cite the diaries of Khalil Sakakini (which were published in Hebrew) because Israeli scholars seem to think that this one token reference fulftil the quota of references to the opinions of the natives. I also was rather disturbed by his references to the West Bank and Gaza as "OT"--short for occupied territories. Again, it leaves the reader with the impression that this is a technical term for an Israeli mistake--no more. But there are things that are far more disturbing: on three or four occasions in this book, Gordon states that "Also worth notins is that the number of Palestinians who have been killed is relatively small in comparison with those killed during other military occupations." (p. xviii) Gordoan makes that point several times in the book. You want to ask him: so what is your point? Is this a call for Israel to kill more Palestinians? Furthermore, this argument is very weak but is consistent with his methodology whereby he separates the West Bank and Gaza from what is going on around them. You can easily say that as much as Israel never was reluctant to kill Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the comparison to other military occupations is falacious. Israeli subjugation of the West Bank and Gaza relied on killing Palestinians not only in the West Bank and Gaza but also in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and around the world. In other words, while Israel was occupying the West Bank and Gaza, it was also bombing refugee camps outside of the West Bank and Gaza, and it was invading and occupying and assassinating. And the author's failure to link developments togehter is a reflection of the shortsighted Israeli "peace camp" perspective. More disturbing, or equally disturbing is the author's claim that Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza was benign at first and then deteriorated, or to put it in his own words, it went from aiming "to secure the existence and livelihood of the Palestinian inhabitants" to imposing the "politics of death" (p 2). He even refers to the Israeli crimes during the first Intifada as a combination of "trials and legal interventions" (p. 21). So the Palestinian civilians who were killed and injured in that Intifada were harmed by trials and court proceedings? He later tells you that restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were "not nearly as harsh as in later years" (p. 36). The author credits whatever economic development that occurred in the occupied territory in the early years to deliberate Israeli policies without relating economic conditios to the region as a whole (p. 51). I was quite apalled that the author refers to an Isareli policy of "restraint" in dealing with the occupied territories (p. 54). And when cattle is examined for tuberculosis, the author does not fail to credit the occupation (p. 63). And then Gordon said this about Israeli practices during the Intifada: "Nowithstanding the fact that more Palestinians were killed in those five years tahn in the previous twenty, it is important to emphasize that Israe adopted police-style methods to confront the Palestinian protestors."(p. 157) Do you see what I mean? And why does he have to say "it is important to emphasize"? But having said all this, and despite serious methodlogical problems that weaken the political value of the book, it does contain a useful cataglogue of Israeli Zionist methods of control and surveillance and subjugation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. So I recommend this book with caution and with the qualifications mentioned.
Michael Bonner's Jihad in Islamic History (Princeton University Press) is a serious book that deserves to be read. It is written in the meticulous tradition of old-fashioned Orientalism--and I mean that as a compliment. But he mistranslates a few key terms from Arabic. For example, he mistranslates "baghy" as "outrage" (p. 6) and that really misses the whole meaning of the jurisprudential treatment. Baghy should have been translated as injustice or corruption, and that makes a whole difference because the section was trying to compare the treatment to the theories of Just War in Christianity. Similarly, "ta`awun" is cooperation and not "solidarity" (p. 145). I will have more to say about the book, time permitting.

Friday, October 24, 2008

How could anybody blame Arabs for resorting to conspiracy theories? "Iraqi secret police believed that the notorious Palestinian assassin Abu Nidal was working for the Americans as well as Egypt and Kuwait when they interrogated him in Baghdad only months before the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Hitherto secret documents which are now in the hands of The Independent – written by Saddam Hussein's brutal security services for Saddam's eyes only – state that he had been "colluding" with the Americans and, with the help of the Egyptians and Kuwaitis, was trying to find evidence linking Saddam and al-Qa'ida." (thanks Mouin)
My article in Al-Akhbar: "The Bubble of Dubai: Behind the Glitter"
"Throwing shoes is particularly insulting in Thai culture, which considers feet the dirtiest part of the body." (thanks Jamie)
An Ethiopian maid "fell" from the balcony of the house where she works in Lebanon. (thanks Wassim)
"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Tunisian government’s decision to seize the latest issue of an opposition newspaper and to summon an independent editor to appear before a public prosecutor." (thanks Mariwan)
I will write hopefully later today a review of Neve Gordon's new book on Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza.
"But the inescapable fact is that the Arabs of Palestine never got the state the UN promised them, and those in the West Bank and (until recently) Gaza have spent the past 40 years under Israeli military occupation, with no citizenship rights at all. That, the authors imply, is another story, separate from the one that interests them". (thanks Marcy)
"Levels of economic disparity in major US cities, including New York and Washington DC, are comparable to those of African cities, a United Nations report has concluded."
"Mubarak rolls out red carpet for Peres" (thanks Olivia)
Cat Stevens deserves the humiliation. (thanks Omar)
"A typical "return to normal life" piece appeared October 11 in the New York Times under the headline, "Schools Open, and the First Test is Iraqi Safety." Featured was a Baghdad schoolteacher welcoming her students by assuring them that "security has returned to Baghdad, city of peace"."
"In the last week, Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and wounded 16, including 3 children. 13 of the wounded were hurt during peaceful demonstrations against the construction of the Annexation Wall."
"Yet with stocks around the world tumbling and credit markets frozen, Dubai's heavily leveraged building binge is starting to raise concerns. A recent Moody's report found that Dubai's leverage now exceeds its GDP, and is likely to continue to outpace growth for another five years. That makes access to international credit markets particularly important. Unfortunately, loans are hard to come by these days. It doesn't help that Dubai's real-estate prices seem to be cooling somewhat (even if average returns are still in the double-digits). Finally, and perhaps most troubling, slumping world stock markets and rising unemployment are likely to keep non-Gulf tourists at home, just when those revenues are needed most."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Only Lebanon can turn a campaign on breast cancer into a sleazy campaign.
John sent me this message:
"Hi As'ad: please print in full exactly as is without changes, or not at all -- many thanks, JB
STARTSAs'ad: Kindly allow me to respond to your critique of my book Inside Egypt: The Land fo the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution. I don't want to get into a slanging match (as you know, I admire your blog), so I will stick to respectfully pointing out your factual errors, and then leave your readers to decide how much they should therefore trust your general assessment of the book: 1. You wrote: "You say that King Faruk was rehatbilitated when you should have said Saudi media have tried to rehabilitate him." But As'ad: I make it VERY clear that this was all done and exploited by the Saudis (pp. 18-19): "The serial was produced by the Saudi-owned satellite channel MBC, and also aired on the equally popular Saudi-funded Orbit channel... It is difficult not to speculate that MBC's decision to produce it, despite Egyptian officials' efforts at hindrance by refusing to give the crew permission to film on location in the royal palaces and other real-life locations, might also have been at least partly political. Columnists at Saudi-funded newspapers wasted no time in holding up the supposed virtues of the monarch while praising their own Gulf dynasties, which survived Nasser's attempts to undermine them." 2. You wrote: "You express shock that some Egyptians you met wanted to emigrate to the West when they are politically opposed to Western governments (p. 171). No, it is only surprising because you miss to learn that the underlying causes of their hositlity to West are political and not cultural or religious." In fact, I argue AT LENGTH and VERY CLEARLY the EXACT point you claim I ignore on pp. 171-2, and AGAINST what you claim I write (in other words I'm in full agreement with you): "Many in the West have also drawn attention to a mass obsession with emigration among so many different sections of Egypt's imploding society, to the millions who long to leave not only for France, Germany, and other European countries but also, indeed perhaps especially, for... America. This is proof, some have further argued, that Egyptians are not as anti-Western as often perceived by outsiders, which is to say not so angered by American policies in the region as is typically thought to be the case. But this kind of political point scoring largely misses the point. The real question is: Why do so many young Egyptians, despite [emphasis in original) their abstract hatred of the effects of U.S. regional hegemony and their personal anger at Washington for propping up their own dictator (all obvious to anyone who has spent any time in the country), still prefer to take their chances in the West? The obvious answer is that the hatred they hold for their own country is deeper than that which they hold for the foreign policies of the country they will be moving to: Culture and politics, personal ambition and political conviction, are not entwined as one in their minds." 3. "You quote some Kuwaiti racist who claims that "torture is a way of life" in the Middle East? (p. 144)." This is in fact an Egyptian writer, not a Kuwaiti writer, as is made clear in the second half of the sentence you quoted from: "'In the Middle East today, torture is a way of life,' Kuwait Times staff writer Rania El-Gamal, herself an Egyptian, wrote in a powerful response to the allegations." If you are going to call someone a racist, at least get his or her nationality right. 4. You wrote: "You were so offended that an Egyptian spoke to you in classical Arabic (p. 57) that you claimed (falsely) that Egyptians are not able to speak it, and that they don't like it, when fusha is still highly appreciated." This is just plain silly. Most Egyptians do NOT speak (as opposed to understand) fusha fluently, and the vast majority much prefer to be spoken to in their own Egyptian Arabic. On this point, I just can't believe that you of all people could be so out of touch. 5. You wrote: "You say, actually say, that all what was done under the Nasser regime was bad." I don't. I say the long-term consequences were bad. I in fact write (on pp. 10-11): "There were considerable short-term benefits of Nasser's rule: the final liberation of Egypt from foreign dominance; the expansion of the education system; guaranteed civil service jobs for university graduates; the nationalization of the Suez Canal and building of the High Dam; fairer land redistribution." 6. You wrote: "You are so obsessed with Nasser that you forgot that he died back in 1970." It doesn't at all matter when Nasser died. What matters is that the system he created is still in place, which is basically a military dictatorship, which is the root causes of Egypt's problems. Meanwhile, you imply that I have an unqualified love for the colonial period. If so, then why on earth did I write this in Inside Egypt? "Similarly, Ismail's decision to refashion Cairo on the Parisian model in preparation for the celebrations surrounding the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 may have impressed his European guests and his own pampered circle; but the downside was that it bankrupted the Egyptian treasury, leading to his being deposed and the British occupying Egypt in all but name. When the British and French consuls ordered Ismail to abdicate, Mostyn writes, he "could not call on his people because his taxes and tyranny had made him hated by them." Stories of Ismail's sexual promiscuity abounded, not to mention the possible murder of various unfaithful mistresses; even liberal-minded Egyptians who were unconcerned with their ruler's private life, but who considered themselves equal to the British and French, bristled at the latter's special treatment as guests of the khedive. Their own exclusion from the upper-class lifestyle of the new European quarters of Cairo, from which all but the best-connected and most Westernized Egyptians were banned, was a continuous source of humiliation."ENDS"
An-Nahar (the right-wing, Lebanese sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people)) printed an item on its second page the other day in which it claimed that leaders of the world are "studying" the Lebanese financial model as "the successful model" for solving the world financial crisis. I kid you not. (thanks Khalil)
I don't like flags, and I don't like nationalisms, but...for Palestine and the Palestinians anything and everything. (thanks Bakira)
"Say you misplaced $185,481 somewhere? Just expense it — Iraq style! A U.S. contractor hired to teach Iraqis about good government physically lost that amount in cash, then claimed the loss as "an expense.""
"Ultra-Orthodox youths rioted in Jerusalem overnight, throwing stones at passing cars and beating Arab taxi drivers, Israel Radio quoted an eyewitness as saying on Wednesday."
"West Bank Settlers Complain That Checkpoints Make Them Late For Work" (thanks Emily)
BBC loves this Shi`ite cleric. But the Iraqis mock him and remember him for insisting on kissing the cheeks of Paul Bremer. (thanks Ali)
Another victory in the "war on terrorism": "A suspected US missile strike has killed at least eight students at a religious school in north-western Pakistan, witnesses say."
"They are lured into Lebanon to work as models, masseuses or dancers in nightclubs. But some of these young Eastern European women, especially from Moldova, are sold by criminal networks to brothels, where they are forced to work as prostitutes."
This is Zionism: "The woman, who is blind and diabetic, was sentenced to community service when she was found guilty of harboring a Palestinian man without a residency permit."
"Perceived as ineffective and corrupt, the Afghan president faces an uphill battle to reelection."
"A former Army soldier accused of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and slaying her family was a "chatterbox" after his arrest, voluntarily making nearly two dozen statements while in custody, prosecutors said in court documents filed Wednesday."
"The Iraqi [puppet] government has criticised US military chief Mike Mullen for warning of "major security losses" if Iraq does not pass a key security deal."
Global Electoral College. (thanks Julie)
This dude regrets that the US did not "stay the course" in Lebanon in 1984.
Comrade Fawwaz on the Lebanese (fake) reconciliation festivals.
What is the eytomology of the word "boursa"? It is certainly not Arabic although the word is used in modern Hebrew and Arabic to refer to the stock market.
PS Anindya tells me: ""bursa", Mediaeval Latin for 'purse', which in turn comes from "bysra", the Greek for ox-hide."
Israeli dancing on Muslim graves, literally. (thanks Olivia)
Sari Nusseibeh and his Al-Quds Dukkan. Every person I know who taught at Al-Quds University has a story to tell. And they all complain about not being paid. One professor told me this story: he flunked this student in his class. The next day, this person called him. He said: I am Tayyib `Abdur-Rahim, and how dare you flunk that student? Don't you know that she works in Arafat's office. The professor did not know who this Tayyib was (we know him from his more thuggish days, when he ran Arafat's thuggish Force 17 in Lebanon, which was the enforcer for Arafat, although it was founded as Arafat's security detail). The professor did not react. The next day, the president of the University, Sari Nusseibeh, called the professor and exclaimed: Don't you know who `Abdur-Rahim is? Flunking that student is going to cause us problems.
Uffe sent me this from Sweden: "I have to tell you a cuple of stories about shoes. It is not very interesting. The first one, comes from back in the nineties when the british band Oasis came to Stockholm to play. Oasis has this singer Liam Gallagher that is quite a cocky person. At one moment at the concert something happened that made him a bit irritated. He said: "Shoes on stage, band go home". So some people had apparently thrown shoes on stage! And I actually know this much. Neither Liam Gallagher nor his bandmates are arabs. Maybe it is a swedish thing too. From a blog that I stumbled upon, I could read that women should try to throw shoes at their boyfriends. Preferable highheels. And in this article from the northern part of Sweden, a man have just been convicted (article from 21:st october 2008) for violent resistance against a policeofficer by throwing his shoe at the police. He received a fine. "På polisstationen kastade mannen en sko mot en av poliserna och sedan blev han så aggressiv att poliserna använde pepparspray. "From the article, roughly translated: "At the policestation the man threw a shoe against one of the policeofficers and then he became so aggressive that the police had to use pepperspray."
To American foreign correspondents: please stop referring in all your articles relating to women in the Middle East or Africa to "male-chauvinist" societies, or to the "patriarchal societies of Africa". What do you mean by such designations? Who are you comparing them to? To the US? Are you implying that American society is not male-chauvinist or patriarchal? Am I living in a gender-equal society without even noticing? In fact, when you refer to American society, you should add: in the patriarchal and white-supremacist....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Saudi ambassador in Lebanon met with the representative of Grand Ayatullah Sistani in Lebanon. They mostly discussed gender, human rights and sexual liberties.
Comrade Hicham on Canadian foreign policy
`Awn's movement, At-Tayyar, published pictures of flooding in Lebanon under the heading: "This is not Bangladesh". (thanks Raed)
""I get my funding from many countries in the Gulf, but this money, I use to spread the ideology, not to buy weapons. We are not a militia," Shahal said. Many of Shahal's supporters were arrested in 2000 following clashes with the Lebanese army in the Dinnieh area, where the Salafis had set up a training camp tied to al-Qaeda, according to Lebanese security sources."
The lies and distortions of MEMRI. Today, MEMRI (the Israeli propaganda arm with bad and unrepresentative translations) came out with a bullet about "Arab columnists" blaming the financial crisis on an "international Jewish conspiracy." What MEMRI did not tell you is that two of the three columnists selected are Saudi propagandists and the third is a Mubarak propagandist who also doubles as a Saudi propagandist. So Saudi propaganda now speaks for Arab public opinion?
"A crowd of angry protesters threw shoes and plastic bottles at the Thai prime minister's entourage after cornering him in an underground parking lot Wednesday." Why did the report not give credit to Arab culture from which Thia crowds derived the notion of shoe-as-insult? (thanks Band.)
"Israel, whose armed forces killed a Palestinian journalist this year for the first time since 2003, was 149th on the list for press freedoms beyond its frontiers, compared with 103rd place in RSF's 2007 rankings." Notice how the article tries to bring the US in order to imply that this low ranking is due to bias against US and Israel. And notice how this well-known international organization is referred to as "French group."
"A man who fellow committee members said has served well for nearly four years is drawing intense criticism for suggesting world governments recognize and negotiate with the Palestinian group Hamas." (thanks Toufic)
"Lebanon's top Shiite cleric criticized Tuesday a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact, saying the Baghdad government has no right to "legitimize" the presence of foreign troops." In other news, Sistani spoke on the more important issues of the day: he banned chess and orgies.
"Christie Murphey said she was upset when she shot herself in the thigh at a McDonald's drive-through Wednesday, not because of the wound, but because she didn't get her large chicken McNuggets meal." (thanks Bert)
Finally: "An Egyptian man has been jailed for three years with hard labour for sexual harassment of a woman in the street."
"The kingdom on Tuesday injected up to $3bn into local banks to meet a shortfall of dollar funding in the domestic banking sector, as demand for loans from the private sector to finance lined up projects increased, bankers said."
"The top brass in Tel Aviv are right to be worried. "Israel’s brand image does not serve its interests right now,” warns Ido Aharoni, head of brand management at the Foreign Ministry." (The brand image was fine among whites in Apartheid South Africa).
"The State Department suddenly canceled a contract for eight private investigators to assist U.S. officials in Iraq in "extremely complex and sensitive investigations," after a senator raised questions about whether the department had outsourced oversight of security contractors."
"An Afghan appeals court overturned a death sentence Tuesday for a journalism student accused of blasphemy for asking questions in class about women's rights under Islam. But the judges still sentenced him to 20 years in prison." (thanks Jamal)
It is trendy that Lebanese fascists refer to themselves nowadays as "human rights activists". (thanks Olivia)
"Karl Marx is back in fashion, says one German publisher, who attributes his new popularity to the economic crisis."
This is the darling regime of the US/EU: "Jordanian law bans publication of any material seen as harmful to Islam."
Hobsbowm speaks (thanks Nabeel)
Read the last paragraph of page 2. (thanks Laleh)
By the way, just because I criticize certain newspapers or certain editors does not mean that I am opposed to all the people who work in those newspapers. I have met wonderful people who work at the Daily Star in Lebanon for example. (I will make an exception in the case of Fox News or The Washington Times--although I used to know James Dorsey at the Washington Times. Whatever happened to him?).
News of "liberation" from Afghanistan: "An Afghan court sentenced Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, a reporter with the Jahan-e Now daily paper, to death on Tuesday after he was found guilty of blasphemy, a court official said." (thanks Richard)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Inside Egypt: Nostalgia for Colonial Rule. I finished reading John Bradley's Inside Egypt. Well, John, you asked me to read the book, and I have. I could not believe it. There is so much racism and contempt for the Egyptian people in this book. And you need to really get over your obsession (and hatred for) Nasser. You are so obsessed with Nasser that you forgot that he died back in 1970. I know, I know. He really ended that wonderful colonial order (you kept referring to it as "belle eopoque") that you kept praising, but did you forgot that Sadat ruled for 11 years? You barely mention that guy. And even Mubarak is marginal compared with the stress on Nasser. You even speak about the Egyptian people as being deranged: you say the "deterioration of the mental health of the Egyptian masses" (p. 39) and I don't care if you always manage to find some Egyptian to "substantiate" or "validate" your theories about the decadance and inferirority of the Egyptian people. You generalize and generalize without any evidence or data: you say that "at least half of the local youths would, without a second thought, sell their bodies to a Western man."(p. 195) Do you see what I mean? Do you realize why I was fuming as I was reading this on the plane? And is one not expected to provide the results of an empirical study for such an outlandish statement? And your references to women (Western in particular) are so sexist and insulting: you describe Western women in Luxor as "decent looking" (p. 185) and then add other generalizations, like "Some of these women slept with half of the men in Luxor before they settled on marrying one."(p. 178) What was that? Did the editor not raise alarm about such assertions? You express shock that some Egyptians you met wanted to emigrate to the West when they are politically opposed to Western governments (p. 171). No, it is only surprising because you miss to learn that the underlying causes of their hositlity to West are political and not cultural or religious. You dare to say that "not a single tear" was shed by Arabs for Saddam's victims.(p. 145) Do you know how many Arabs helped and funded Iraqi opposition groups since the 1960s? You quote some Kuwaiti racist who claims that "torture is a way of life" in the Middle East?(p. 144) Are you suggesting that there is more violence in society in Kuwait than in US? You even speak of the "acceptance of torture" in the Arab world. You need to advance in your reading of Arabic to be able to read the contemporary Arab body of literature where the horrors of (and from) torture loom large. You speak about state punishment for relatives of wanted men (p. 128): you compare that to Nazi Germany but forgot to add that Israel consistently employs that method, as has the US occupation authorities in Iraq. You say that women refrain from reporting sex crimes, but that is also true here in the US according to Justice Department studies. You were so offended that an Egyptian spoke to you in classical Arabic (p. 57) that you claimed (falsely) that Egyptians are not able to speak it, and that they don't like it, when fusha is still highly appreciated. Your obsession of Nasser is so out of whack: you complain that the Egyptian Free officers are not "sophisticated" like Faruk's cronies (p. 13). You say that King Faruk was rehatbilitated when you should have said Saudi media have tried to rehabilitate him. And your evidence is the success of the TV serial on Faruk. Let me surprise you: this year's TV serial on Nasser is yet a bigger success. And I am willing to entertain all the criticisms of Nasser but compared to what? To Faruk? Mubarak? To the Nazi dicator, Sadat? You say, actually say, that all what was done under the Nasser regime was bad. Does that include state feminism, relative secularism, mass education, nationalization (and Nasser--to be fair--enacted nationalization long before Bush, Obama, and McCain discovered the virtues of nationalization), welfare benefits, and land reform? Of course, Nasser's rule desrves to be criticized, but more so in the ase of Sadat. And you really are unaware of the state of culture and arts in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s, despite censorship and restrictions on expression. You clearly are appalled at Arab popular hostility to Israel, and you basically refer to that as "hatred." You so gloss over the Israeli running of a terrorist ring in Egypt in 1950s, and you even justify it. And on and on. You really sound bitter about Egypt and the Egyptians, which is your right, and I am bitter about this book, which is my right.
"The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported Monday that the Yediot Ahronot newspaper refrained from publishing a report disclosing the execution of an Arab prisoner carried out by Israeli soldiers during the 1948 war despite it already announced its intention to do so."
When people in the McCain-Palin crowd start chanting "USA. USA." it really reminds me of rallies and chants in...Germany in the 1930s.
"He has admission, and a visa to the U.S., but the Israelis will not let him leave." (thanks Marcy)
"Iraqi security forces raided the home of a provincial leader of U.S.-backed patrols on Tuesday, an incident that could raise tension at a time when the Baghdad government is taking over the programme from the U.S. military."
The goons of occupation: ""Sheik Jassim," as his tribesmen call Sweidawi, is among a new generation of tribal leaders asserting influence across Sunni areas. They have won their respect by fighting Sunni insurgents of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group. With American money and support, they have brought a fragile order to Anbar province, once Iraq's most violent theater, accomplishing in months what the U.S. military could not do in years."
A Letter from the talented Layal Haddad to her Palestinian friend.
Ask Queen Youtube if she plans to comment on this. "Amman: Police have arrested a local writer for incorporating verses from the Quran into his poem, the Jordanian prosecution said on Tuesday." Note to Self: make sure that you incoporate verses from the Qur'an, Bible, and Phone Book in all your poems. (thanks Olivia)
I was watching LBC news yesterday and they made a reference to a Lebanese Atomic Agency--I kid you not. But upon reflection I realized that the Lebanese Atomic Agency tests all samples of Hummus and Baba Ghannuj before they are released in the Lebanese market.
Fox News sent one of their anchors to Baghdad: he of course reported on the great "progress" made from 3 years ago. But this same man reporting also had said that things were great last time he went although now he says that things were bad. He said this morning that things are so calm that he found Red Bull in Baghdad. I kid you not.
I am not kidding. There is a mental ailment afflicting many in the Lebanese press--and it has only been getting worse. Talk of "Lebanese" genius has been increasing to no end. Here, this Lebanese dude is convinced that the world--yes, the WORLD--is following a financial recipe derived from the governor of the Lebanese Central Bank--who every year tells the Lebanese people that he was awarded the highly coveted prize of "Best Central Bank Governor", which is as competitive a prize as the Ms./Mr. Potato award. (thanks Elie)
"A prominent Palestinian human rights group says it has found evidence that 68 children were killed in the Gaza Strip in the 12 months to June this year as a result of "disproportionate and excessive lethal force" by the Israeli military." Shame on the "prominent Palestinian human rights group" for using the language of the armed colonizers. "Disproportionate"? "Excessive"? Are you kidding me? (thanks Omar) to Washington, DC. Returning on Thursday.
This is an actual job addvertisement from the official job placement bulletin at the American University of Beirut:
"Job Title: Information Desk Officer (Female Preferably Single)
BRIEF FIRM PROFILE/ DESCRIPTION: … The mission of the College is to provide a Christian Evangelical educational community for students of all nationalities and religions…. City: Beirut - Kafarshima Country: Lebanon..." (thanks Osama)
We are NOT the ones we have been waiting for. That is for sure, poetic claims to the contrary not withstanding.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Her search for Iraqi WMDs continues: "Award-winning journalist and best-selling author Judith Miller has joined FOX News as a contributor, announced John Moody, Executive Vice President of News Editorial. In this role, Miller will provide commentary and analysis on national security issues, counterterrorism, and international affairs, including the Middle East. She also will write for"
"The financial crisis had claimed no casualties in the UAE. But as much as Dh200bn ($54bn, £31bn, €40bn) of foreign deposits had fled the system and rumours were circulating that at least one institution in Dubai, the federation’s strutting business hub, was in trouble. Across the Gulf, equity markets were in free fall as foreigners pulled out; interbank lending was drying up, most acutely in the UAE; and investors, both state and private, were seeing the value of international equity holdings plummet. As oil prices, the main driver of the Gulf boom, slid sharply towards $70 a barrel, Dubai’s high levels of debt reinforced concerns over the bubble forming in its property market. Local bankers were becoming anxious."
"Reporters Without Borders condemned an assault on photographer Abdelhafiz al-Hashlamouni, of the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) two days ago under the noses of soldiers in Hebron. Israeli settlers in Ramat Yashi beat him and tried to snatch his equipment as the journalist covered western and Israeli peace activists demonstrating their solidarity by helping Palestinian farmers to pick olives. He was left covered with bruises."
We need to reiterate: neither Hamas nor Fatah. The Palestinian people deserve better--much better. "De facto government forces detained 1,000 striking teachers, confiscated 130 vehicles of teachers, prevented the children of 120 teachers from going to school, and prevented 30 striking teachers from continuing their studies at university, said secretary general of teachers’ union in Ramallah Jamil Shihadah."
"Abbas: I was promised almost all of West Bank." Angry Arab: I was promised almost all of China.
"Bloodshed and years of unrest are harsh teachers, especially in Sadr City, where 30% of children have quit school, according to a Baghdad human resources office. That estimate is probably low. A United Nations report found that 94% of boys in Iraq attend elementary school, but that drops to 44% by high school. For girls, 81% start elementary school; 31% go on to high school." (thanks Olivia)
The American Left and the Middle East: Part N. Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, is so impressed with the embedded journalists practice that he called it "genius." He in fact considers US journalists' support for and identification with the US troops "understandable." He also said this: "Sectarian strife in the Middle East, while acute in the aftermath of the invasion, is not timeless, and in Iraq it cannot be separated from the legacies of British colonial intervention, pan-Arab nationalism, authoritarianism, the oil boom, the Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War and the 1990-2003 UN sanctions." Notice that he lists all those factors with the exception of the most determining factor: deliberate policies of the US war authorities (see the ICG report a year ago on Iraq) in collaboration with the Saudi government. Toensing needs to explain how sanctions and and pan-Arab nationalism contribued more to Sunni-Shi`ite conflict more than the Saudi-US plot in the Middle East. Notice how favorable he is to the book by Dexter Filkins: the gun carrying, war cheer leading New York Times correspondent. (Toensing refers to his "journalistic integrity or resourcefulness" of Filkins but perhaps he was referring to Filkins' admission to cursing at an Iraq who dared to offend the occupiers). This man (Filkins) who had served in the U.S. military expresses annoyance at Iraqis for not welcoming US troops with "sweets and flowers." But Toesing is most impressed with the "sacrifices" of the US occupiers--although he does not mention the sacrifices of Mongolian and Georian troops in Iraq. He also talks about "the price the soldiers have paid" in Iraq: I thought he was referring here to aerial bombardment of Iraqi towns and neighborhood, and the shootings at civilians at checkpoints. But the criterion for Toensing is the heroism of US occupiers and he just wants you to know that the troops "persevered" against great odds, and that they were initially "well-received"--with sweets and flowers he forgot to add. (thanks Sousan)
Classist prejudice against people from the southern suburbs in the Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal. (thanks Ziad)
"Japan's young turn to Communist Party as they decide capitalism has let them down". (thanks Ali)
"“The UAE is active in the reconstruction of Afghanistan,” he said. “We appreciate this friendly and peaceful presence of the UAE." That UAE does what US asks it to do.
Iyad `Allawi (the former puppet prime minister/Saddam's henchman/embezzler-in-Yemen/car bomber) has been criticizing the Permanent US Occupation Pact. He said that the Arabic text is different from the English text. How much room do the puppets have in pre-election times?