Saturday, January 31, 2009

The tools to kill children

"U.S. military aid to Israel totaled $2.4 billion for fiscal year 2008, increased to $2.55 billion for fiscal year 2009 and is expected to reach $3.1 billion by fiscal year 2018.* The asterisk is at the end of that sentence because those numbers are from the “foreign military financing” portion of U.S. aid and do not include the value of other programs providing material or financial support that benefits Israel’s military and research-and-development program. A unique provision in their aid agreement allows Israel to spend a significant portion of U.S. aid in Israel; roughly 26 percent of the money (making up an estimated 20 percent of Israel’s defense budget)." (thanks Marcy)


Ashraf uploaded my latest AlJazeera appearance.


Hi. I am back. Hate planes and airports. It is against the stereotypes of Arabs, but I have a terrible fear of flying.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Obama Doctrine

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "The Obama Doctrine: An Analysis of a Foreign Policy that has Just started"

...UC Irvine to UC, Irvine. I am speaking tomorrow. Returning Saturday night.


"So, President Obama may have been fudging it when he told Al-Arabiya that Mitchell, "is going to be speaking to all the major parties involved". (In fact, Obama did not mention Hamas during the interview; strangely, was not asked about them; and had already made it clear that Mitchell would not be meeting with them)." (thanks Nicholas)

On the Turkish role

I received so many links about the scene of the Turkish prime minister in Davos. It would have been more impressive if the close political, military, and intelligence relations between Turkey and Israel are suspended. Short of that, the scene is a gimmick. Of course, you may say but it is better than the performance of Arab governments. That is true: but a monkey dancing while wearing a dress is a better performance than Arab governments. A potato would lead the Arab League better than the buffonish, Amr Mousa.

Registered in...phonebooks

"Israeli leftists have begun drawing up a "blacklist" of army officers involved in the recent operation in Gaza, in response to the military censor's decision to ban the publication of their names, pictures or other identifying details." I have an easier way: get the Israeli phone books.

This is Zionism

"“Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun” – that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days." (thanks Marcy)

Zionist playbook

"My terror as a human shield: The story of Majdi Abed Rabbo" (thanks Zaki)


"The US State Department today announced a formal investigation into how its consulate in Jerusalem sold a filing cabinet - containing hundreds of sensitive or secret documents - at a local auction." (thanks Olivia)


"But for a man who calls for a ban on the Koran to act as the champion of free speech is a bit rich."

Saudization of Pakistan: and the Pakistanization of Western stereotypes

"The Saudi-isation of a once-vibrant Pakistani culture continues at a relentless pace. The drive to segregate is now also being found among educated women. Vigorous proselytisers carrying this message, such as Mrs Farhat Hashmi, have been catapulted to the heights of fame and fortune. Their success is evident. Two decades back, the fully veiled student was a rarity on Pakistani university and college campuses. The abaya was an unknown word in Urdu. Today, some shops across the country specialise in abayas. At colleges and universities across Pakistan, the female student is seeking the anonymity of the burqa. And in some parts of the country she seems to outnumber her sisters who still “dare” to show their faces. I have observed the veil profoundly affect habits and attitudes. Many of my veiled female students have largely become silent note-takers, are increasingly timid and seem less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. They lack the confidence of a young university student."" That is such a wild generalization. This is like suggesting that dress--in whatever shape--can affect the level of confidence of a woman. This comes from the cliches of vulgar Western orientalism. I can attest that during my brief speaking tour in Islamabad I found that the burka in no way make female students lacking in self-confidence. As I reported at the time, I found that it was my problem and not their problem (I was the one who felt uncomfortable discussing ideas with a woman whose eyes I could not see). (thanks Nabeel)

Wahhabi rehabilitation: or Al-Qa`idah education

"Those in charge employ art therapy as well as religious and psychological counselling to try to alter the radical outlook of the participants. To qualify, ex-jihadists need to show a willingness to change and must not have Saudi blood on their hands." (thanks Mounir)

Sensitive information

"Ares speculated that the IDF is using weapons supplied by the U.S. Air Force; a spokesman told the site that "we cannot release sensitive information on foreign military sales."" (thanks Mai)

Protection for war criminals

"Spain announced on Friday its plans to amend legislation that granted a Spanish judge the authority to launch a war crimes investigation against senior Israeli officials in." (thanks Laleh)

The mother/father of all kooky conspiracy theories

"Today we can add another name to that list: Laurie Mylroie, the quintessential conspiracy theorist of the Iraq War era, wrote reports about Iraq for the Pentagon as recently as Fall 2007, years after she was discredited, according to documents obtained by TPMmuckraker."

Angry Appearance

Everybody who saw me on AlJazeera this week observed that I looked really angry. I realized they were right when I saw the picture on the site. Here is the transcript.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The propaganda wars in the Middle East are so intense that there are so many hoaxes being circulated in the media. For example, the alleged letter of resignation by Muhannad Al-Akhatib from Al-Arabiyya TV is a hoax. The man now works for Hariri TV for potato's sake, so obviously he did not write that letter.

Shoe statue

"In the town of Tikrit they raised a statue of a shoe in pure copper" (thanks Mats)


The poem circulating about Gaza and attributed to Iraqi poet, Mudhaffar An-Nawwab, is a hoax.

On my Bushama post

Several people I know did not like my Bushama post. Here what Maria (my second ex-wife--not to be confused with my first ex-wife) wrote to me (I cite with her permission): "We'll see. I hope you are wrong. But even if he is exactly like Bush on one thing, calling him "Bushama" this early in his career as president gives you no where to go if Obama starts acting more like Bush in the future. You've already used your heaviest club." Oh, no Maria. I can brandish even heavier clubs (and shoes).

Just think about it

If the standards that some leftists now want to impose on the Palestinian resistance were imposed on French resistance to Nazi occupation, there would have been no resistance whatsoever in France and all the fighters of the resistance would have joined Jean Cocteau in the cafes of Paris and would have chanted with him: "Love live this shameful peace."

Abba Eban on blockades

"What Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban said about blockades during the 1967 war:
"To blockade, after all, is to attempt strangulation--and sovereign states are entitled not to have their State strangled. The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through violence. Never in history have a blockade and peace existed side by side."
From "The Israel/Arab Reader" Second ed. Ed. Walter Laqueur (1971ed.) pp. 219. (thanks Joshua)

PS Joshua mistakenly identified him as "prime minister".

Friends of the Gemayyels

"A Spanish judge agreed Thursday to pursue a complaint of crimes against humanity against seven senior Israel army figures over a 2002 bombing raid on Gaza in which a Hamas leader and 14 civilians were killed, a judicial source said. The complaint, which includes former defence minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer as one of its targets, was lodged with the Madrid-based judge Fernando Andreu by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights." This war criminal was (is?) reportedly close to Amin Gemayyel.

The Obama Era

Saja kindly translated my lastest article on Obama which appeared on last week:

"The Obama Era: Arab hopes or Illusions?

Grandiose hopes about Obama's era have infiltrated Arab public opinion and predominant political education circles. Many of these illusions do not rely on Obama's own speeches, programs and promises, but on emotional factors and psychological relief resulting from the end of Bush's era.

Some in our countries take comfort in Obama's skin color, in spite of flagrant anti-Black racism in the Arab world. Others find solace in his name, which is one third Arabic (and one third Swahili).

Some in Arab media still insist on defining Obama as a Muslim even though the man spent about two years negating the accusation of Islam, just like someone defends himself against the accusation of committing some crime. Others yet hang on to the pettiest matters and weakest links to justify their illusions. For example, some see in his mere reference to the Islamic world during his inauguration speech proof of his friendship towards Arabs and Muslims and their causes. But actual evidence takes precedence, or should, over illusions.

Widespread disappointment in the Arab world generates varieties and colors of wishful thinking. The state of humiliation and indignity Arab regimes have experienced on the hands of Bush create exaggerated optimism to the point that some in Arab media have announced the end of American imperialism.

While it is still too early to judge Obama's era, there is some indication to make preliminary assessments about the direction of foreign policy in his administration.

The inauguration speech was comprehensive regarding domestic and foreign policy. It included general slogans, references and promises, but it would be hasty to conclude that Obama has divorced all Bush's policies.

Quite the contrary. He was perfectly clear and frank in his speeches and references to the Middle East during the electoral campaign. The higher his poll ratings, the closer he grew to Bush's policies and intentions towards Israel, which are the origin while Arabs are a secondary detail in a policy obsessed with Israel's security. Security is the right of only one people for them.

The inauguration speech included an insinuation towards the Islamic world, but it was met with exaggeration and reverence in Arab media. The series of wars and humiliation by the Bush administration has made Arabs easy victims of pretty talk, only comparatively.

However, Obama's "reference" towards the Islamic world came in the context of his speech about terrorism and his pursuit of terrorists. In other words, he made no methodical shift from Bush's administration's perspective (or that of Zionists), which links the Muslim to the terrorist.

He offered no meaningful initiative to causes which concern the Arab and Islamic worlds, such as American wars and traditional western orientalist hostility, the United Sates' support for tyrannical regimes in the Middle East, and Israel and its incessant wars and aggression.

Obama called on some regimes which "repress" their people, but everyone knows that those include only regimes which object to the American will. This means that Obama's politics won't be different from Bush's politics with regard to democracy. Violation of Arabs and Muslims rights are allowed and praised if the oppressor is supportive of US wars. The proximity of Obama's politics to those of Bush surface on more than one front, as he postponed his decision to shut down Guantanamo Camp, or he decided to shut it down within a year, after he had spoken about immediate closure. Torture may remain secretive, as the appointed Attorney General indicated.

The issue of withdrawal from Iraq has also changed. Today he speaks very vaguely about a "responsible withdrawal" from Iraq, after he used to promise complete withdrawal within a six-month period at the beginning of his electoral campaign.

As for Afghanistan, he promised to escalate the war there and increase the number of occupying troops. This means that Obama considers a policy of "surge" in Afghanistan in return for Bush's "surge" in Iraq.

Hence, the difference between the two men, Bush and Obama, is only with regard to the location of downpour of bombs and rockets, not about ceasing them altogether. Obama surpassed Bush by calling for violation of Pakistan's sovereignty under the rubric of "pursuit" of terrorists. And a number of Pakistani citizens were in fact killed on the first days of Obama's administration. This was termed "inauguration bombardment."

However, America's pursuit of terrorists has become a familiar issue for villagers in various places in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where American warplanes monstrously shell for the remotest suspicion of the existence of someone wanted or their brother or uncle or father. So the operations remind us of cowboys' adventures in American movies.

The Arab world anxiously awaited some kind of statement from Obama about Israeli aggression (with participation of some Arab regimes) towards Gaza. Obama's team excused his silence by pointing to Bush as president, albeit Obama issued a clear stance towards the Mumbai explosions in India and he certainly didn't take refuge in utter silence then.

Obama's fans didn't wait for long before he articulated a stance about the Middle East. He gave a speech at the State Department only two days after he became president. He said nothing new, though there were some in Arab media that insisted on clinging on to false hope.

Obama's speech was a series of the usual clichés used in American foreign policy towards the Middle East. "She" is the sweetheart in their opinion, and the state of aggression and occupation in ours. Obama's analysis of the barbaric aggression towards Gaza indicates his policies towards our region. He spoke as usual about Israel's security, to indicate everything stays the same, and everything else is secondary. Israel's security doesn't only mean defending Israel, but also preserving its military and technical superiority in comparison to all Arab countries combined. It actually also means Israel's right to attack, invade and aggress. Israel has enjoyed this right incessantly since Lyndon Johnson's administration. As for the suffering of Gaza's people, Obama spoke about it in the passive voice, so that you would imagine that the Strip had suffered a hurricane that destroyed everything.

The general talk, in his speech, about humanitarian suffering in Gaza fell within the context of previous points he'd said during the election campaign. Its essence was that the Palestinian people themselves bear the responsibility of their own suffering, and he named Hamas in this regard.Nobody in the media rushed to ask him about the reasons for the Palestinian people's suffering before Hamas was created. Pro-Israeli American political discourse cannot be rejected or questioned. Obama reiterated his words about Hamas's terrorism and expressed sympathy with the "victims" of terrorism in "southern Israel". This racist construct, which does not consider our civilian losses victims of terrorism, does not change throughout administrations.

It is no coincidence that no Palestinian women or children were ever considered victims of Israeli terrorism, because Israel has a monopoly over the characterization of victimhood. The disproportionate comparison between the number of Israeli victims (the state of Israel has resorted to deception, as usual, by counting those who suffered “shock” from Hamas’s rockets among the wounded, as if all the Strip’s people didn’t suffer shock from the Israeli aggression) and the number of Palestinian victims in Gaza was intended to exonerate Israel from war crimes. Obama reiterated the usual line of praising regimes that enjoy good relations with Israel. His acclaim of the Egyptian regime is noteworthy to say the least. He called on the Jordanian regime to continue training Palestine “security” forces, that is, Obama’s administration will continue the Dayton Accord for igniting civil war in Palestine.

Obama continued to stress the importance of preventing “smuggling” of weapons even though Security Council resolution 1680 addresses only prohibition of “illegal” weapons, so that Palestinian forces aligned with “moderation” take advantage of smuggling “legal” weapons.

While it is true that Obama demanded opening the crossings, this contradicts Israel’s tight grip on the Palestinian people’s neck in the Strip, with American cooperation and support. But some rushed to search for positive points in Obama’s address: some Arab and Islamic organizations (which celebrated Bush’s arrival in 2000) in Washington tried to assert that Bush’s foreign policy era is gone forever, and Arab media should be blamed for its haste since Obama is not Bush. There are other standards and criteria with which one can distinguish the two administrations. But the manufacture of American foreign policy is a complex process which involves various administrations, institutions and authorities. The American president’s shift of foreign policy, especially as it pertains to the Middle East, requires decisive decision making and courage that remains to be seen from the Obama administration as of yet, and unlikely to be seen as the man dreams of a second term. Also, why does the American president need to change his policies toward us if Arab regimes are obedient and complacent under all circumstances.

Of course, this is not reason for absolute pessimism, unless we believed Anwar Sadat in that all affairs are in America’s hands. Change, lest we forget, can come from the Middle East, even if it doesn’t come from the US, but this requires determination and action."

Hamas bashing

I now can resume my Hamas bashing: "Senior Islamist group official Ghazi Hamad says Hamas wants to be part of international community, will agree renounce resistance in return for state in '67 borders." Can this organziation decide on what it really wants and tell us? It is cearly following the deceptive and lousy path of the dishonest Yasir `Arafat--who is never dead enough for me (although my mother does not like it when I criticize him).

The Tricks of MEMRI

This is quite amazing--or not given the source. But MEMRI put out a special bulletin that a Lebanese author (Farid Salman) made anti-Semitic statements on Lebanese Orange TV (belonging to the Gen. `Awn forces). First, I am known to follow Lebanese developments (and especially book production) extremely closely and I never EVER heard of a "Lebanese author" by that name. So sure, this kook appeared on that TV and made those statements. Secondly, it shows you that MEMRI when it comes to anti-Semitism is lacking in credibility on the subject of anti-Semitism just like American Zionists who cover up for the anti-Semitism of supporters of Israel. I mean, this month I saw so many anti-Semitic pronouncements in Saudi and Hariri media but MEMRI covered up (or ignored it completely) because they are part of the pro-US alliance in the Middle East which include the usurping entity of Israel.

Attack on gays in Lebanon?

I have received from Lebanon links to an article in L'Orient-Le Jour about an attack on two men who "appeared" to have been having sex. Of course, organizations of what my friend Joseph Massad calls "Gay International" would jump on the news to draw Western governments (and armies?) into a war of "liberation" or two, just as those armies--according to Feminist Majority--"liberated" the women in Afghanistan. (Is there anything that would discredit mainstream liberal feminism more than the disgraceful war-mongering position of the Feminist Majority on the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan, when it served as a propaganda arm of the Bush's White House?). But the story first appeared in L'Orient--a newspaper with zero credibility on all issues pertaining to human rights, and a platform for Lebanese racism against the Palestinian and Syrian peoples. And then the gay advocacy group in Lebanon, Helem, issues a release and it decided to absolve--for political reasons?--the Lebanese security forces from responsibility although the original L'Orient article identified them as perpetrators. Now, we learned last week that more than 8000 members of the Muslim Brothers were arrested last week in Egypt, and there was barely anything about them in the Western or Eastern press. Imagine if the 8000 were--say, gays and lesbians--can you imagine the international uproar? Don't get me wrong, I am in full support of gay and lesbian rights, but a perspective is important here. It is like I once heard the Human Rights Watch's official in charge of gay and lesbian issues tell me that Egyptian gays called his cellphone when they were being harassed by the police. I asked him: do members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who get arrested and tortured on weekly basis also have your cellphone number? Of course, I would report on this story if I receive credible information. L'Orient-Le Jour is hardly a credible source when it never cares about the abuse (and murder) of Syrian workers and foreign maids in the lousy homeland of Hummus. And Helem should not be in the business of covering up for Lebanese security forces which is the party most responsible for the harassment of Lebanese gays--only if they are poor of course.

The other side of Dubai

"There he discovered that dozens of sewage lorries carrying human waste from Dubai’s 1.3 million inhabitants emptied their tanks into storm drains such as the one leading to the sailing club. The drains, all connected, were built to carry excess water that falls during Dubai’s short rainy season. According to some truckers — mostly poor workers from southern Asia – illegal dumping of waste is a purely financial decision." (thanks Zainab)

Blogging followers of Zionist propaganda of terrorism

"Some 1,000 new immigrants and foreign-language-speaking Jews volunteer to army of bloggers set up by Absorption Ministry and Foreign Ministry with the stated objective of flooding blogs with pro-Israel opinions." If they are as boring and tedious and ill-informed as Michael Totten is, Palestine has nothing to worry about. (thanks Ali)

Walid Malouf: running for parliament in Lebanon

Likudnik neo-conservative servant, Lebanese-American Walid Malouf, is returning to Lebanon to run for a parliamentary seat. An-Nahar mentions that without mentioning his history of (revisionist) Zionist activism here in the US.

Every millemeter of Palestine

"In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, a group of American university professors has for the first time launched a national campaign calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel." Of course, I fully support this effort but I did not sign the petition because it did not go far enough for me. I can't sign any petition or support any effort that would recognize Zionist usurpation of any inch of Palestine. As the great George Habash used to say, the goal is the liberation of every millimeter of Palestine. (thanks Mirvat)

Beyond Gaza

I have signed this petition about Gaza.

Flowers and Chains

Molly sent me this: "The Marx reference is from "Toward a Contribution of the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right" which reads: "Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not in order that man shall bear the chain without caprice or consolation but so that he shall cast off the chain and pluck the living flower." "

Speaking at UC, Irvine

I am speaking on Saturday at UC, Irvine:
"1:15-3:00 pm — Panel 1: Regional Forces: Lebanon/Israel/Palestine with Nubar Hovsepian, As'ad AbuKhalil and Norman Finkelstein, moderated by Lina Kreidie. Norman Finkelstein will speak on Israeli policies that exacerbate the context of regional war; As'ad Abukhalil will look at the future of Lebanon as an independent state; and Nubar Hovsepian on the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel and the future of relations between Lebanon and Israel."

Voice of Wahhabiyyah

"As'ad AbuKhalil, professor of politics at California State University, Stanislaus, goes deeper into it: "Al-Arabiyya is run by the Saudi King Fahd's brother-in-law ... The administration selected al-Arabiyya because it is 'friendly' to US interests and because on al-Arabiyya, US officials get softball questions ... Obama chose this station because he wanted to appease the Saudi royal family. This president talks about how bad dictators are, but he is signaling that he, like Bush, will coddle Saudi Wahhabi dictatorship - a key ally of Israel today."" (thanks Olivia)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jimmy Carter and sterlization of Palestinian women

I saw the boring Jimmy Carter on CNN. He said that he fears increasing percentage of Palestinians in the holy land and that the transformation of the population in the area into a Palestinian-majority would be a "disaster." I am not sure I get it. Is he calling for the sterlization of Palestinian women? Is this like the Bush's stance when he declared an official American policy of supporting a permanent Jewish majority in Israel, which can only mean that additional Palestinian babies which would tip the demographic reality in Israel in favor of Palestinians would be tossed across the border?

Time magazine and Arab media

"The channel is seen as a prominent voice of moderation in the Middle East, preferring calm analysis to what many see as rival al-Jazeera's more sensational coverage." First, it really amuses me that American correspondents who don't know Arabic--like this dude here--don't feel any hesitation in rendering judgments and making observations about Arab media--media that they can't really watch or read or understand. So basically they ask somebody who ask somebody who was told that by somebody. Secondly, voice of moderation? A station owned by the brother-in-law of King Fahd can't be a voice of moderation unless you call public beheadings, rigid gender segregation, Wahhabi indoctrination, and stoning of lovers as "moderation." Thirdly, the statement is false. Al-Arabiyya is far more sensational and shallow than AlJazeera which takes itself seriously--too seriously at time. Fourthly, AlJazeera does a far better job than Al-Arabiyya in bringing diverse and opposite points of view. Diversity of opinion on Al-Arabiyya TV means you bring representatives of the various Saudi princes. I really feel sorry for American readers who rely on such media for their education on Middle East affairs.

Winning hearts and minds

"Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September." (thanks AZ)

Streicher at the Times

"The justification put forth by Friedman in the pages of the Times for targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure amounted to apologetics for state terrorism. It might be recalled that although Hitler had stripped Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher of all his political power by 1940, and his newspaper Der St?rmer had a circulation of only some 15,000 during the war, the International Tribunal at Nuremberg nonetheless sentenced him to death for his murderous incitement."

Is this guy for real?

"Say what you will about the style -- and practice -- of the Bush years, the autocracies were on notice for the first five or six years of George. W. Bush's presidency." Oh, yeah. The Saudi king was put on notice and he was terrified--especially when Bush held his hands and took him on a private tete-a-tete walk under the moon light in his ranch in Texas. But do you notice that he now writes in the style of New York tabloids' columnists?

First act of courage in his life

"The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has cancelled interviews with the BBC over its decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza. Mohamed ElBaradei believed that the BBC's decision broke "the rules of basic human decency", his spokeswoman said." (thanks Electronic Ali)

The ABC of Zionism

"Israeli troops killed Gaza children carrying white flag, witnesses say"

Bushama's surge in Afghanistan: rely on criminal warlords

"President Obama intends to adopt a tougher line toward Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, as part of a new American approach to Afghanistan that will put more emphasis on waging war than on development, senior administration officials said Tuesday...They said that the Obama administration would work with provincial leaders as an alternative to the central government, and that it would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents."

Severly reprimanded my....potato

"The IDF said it has "severely reprimanded" an officer for distributing a religious booklet urging soldiers to show no mercy to their enemies." Let me translate the Zionist lexicon for you: "severely reprimanded" is when a person receives a golden blender for his/her services to Israeli terrorism.


"And in addition to being an excellent source of soluble fiber and a good source of protein, manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1 and potassium, lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum, a mineral important in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron."
I am surprised that the New York Times did not claim that lentils were invented by Zionist "pioneers".

La vache qui rit

"But, despite her urgent need for surgery, Amira has been turned away at the border each time, said her aunt, Mona Ghirim. “Each morning we arrived at the crossing and the Egyptian soldiers cursed us and told us to go away.”"

Do you want to guess what will happen to the complaint?

"Seven Israeli human rights groups file complaint with military advocate general chief, attorney general regarding what they describe as IDF's 'inhumane, appalling treatment' of Palestinian detainees during Gaza op."

Registered in notebooks

"Israeli soldiers beat a 70-year-old resident of a village near Ramallah on Wednesday morning, witnesses said. The elderly man was identified as Sharif Abed Ahmed Abu Hayya, 70, a Palestinian shepherd."

Israeli victories

"Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: “Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?” sang the crowd. “Because all the children were gunned down!” came the answer. Aside from its sheer barbarism, this chant reflects the widespread belief among Israeli Jews that Israel scored an impressive victory in Gaza — a victory measured, not least, by the death toll."

Hardcore Arab

"Professor Asad Abu-Khalil, a.k.a. The Angry Arab, is a hardcore, old-school Arab Marxist (albeit one who enjoys The Economist), but don't let either of those things frighten you away. Swallow his invective as if it were medicine, because he's great - look at his outstanding analysis of Obama's interview's significance. He also explains why Al-Jazeera devoted as much airtime to Obama's Al-Arabiya interview as local American news devotes to wars in the Congo: they'rejeallll-ooous..."

Bombs and cash

"U.S. commanders on Tuesday traveled to a poor Afghan village and distributed $40,000 to relatives of 15 people killed in a U.S. raid, including a known militant commander. The Americans also apologized for any civilians killed in the operation." (thanks Karim)

When Saudi Wahhabis rehabilitate

""The state has provided all the moral and material support to these repentants" in the five rehabilitation centers which were created in 2003 and hosted more than 3,200 patients surrounded by a hundred specialists, including psychotherapists and theologians." (thanks Olivia)


The letter that was ostensibly written from Prince Salman to the Saudi King and printed on the first page of Al-Quds Al-`Arabi is a hoax.

Footprints of Zionism

"Gaza residents returning to their homes in Zeitun neighborhood find their houses covered with slogans such as 'Death to Arabs,' and 'One down, 999,999 to go.'" (thanks Marcy)

Shocking Kebabs

Shocking Kebabs. (thanks Julie)

De bekende blogger

"Maar lang niet iedereen was zo positief. De bekende blogger the Angry Arab, een Libanees-Amerikaanse prof politieke wetenschappen aan onder andere Berkeley, schreef dat Obama's "speech over het Midden-Oosten evengoed geschreven kon zijn door de (ultrarechtse politicus) Benjamin Netanyahu". Hij vergeleek die toespraak ook met "zuur strooien in de wondes van de kinderen van Gaza." 'Angry arab' professor Asad Abu Khalil vindt het ook ongehoord dat de "Palestijnse autoriteit" plots de enige spreekbuis van de Palestijnen blijkt - dat terwijl Abbas in de gehele Arabische wereld als een quisling wordt gezien en Fatah door jarenlange corruptie zijn geloofwaardigheid onder de Palestijnen is kwijtgespeeld."

Al-Akhbar newspaper

Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon is really breaking new grounds, and breaking old taboos. And I am not saying this because I write in it. But I am saying this because they published a report on masturbation: this is the first non-kooky (and rational) article on masturbation that I have read in the Arabic press. And it is the first one which does not rely on the views of kooky clerics and priests.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Zionist standards

"Some of the rising popularity of Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Lieberman may be a result of the frustration among those Israelis who believe that the war in Gaza did not go far enough."

How true

"Three O'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do." Sartre in Nausea.

The Ron Reagan show

I will appear live at 8:30PM (Pacific) on The Ron Reagan show on Air America. I forgot to ask about the topic.

PS The producer, thinking that I was on the east coast, told me the interview was at 8:30PM. So they called me at 6:00PM my time and I was running.

"Your Era, O Bin Baz"

Saja (who kindly translates some of my Arabic articles--and she does that on volunteer basis) kindly translated my article on Bin Baz (published in Al-Akhbar a few months ago):

"Your Era, Bin Baz

It is said that Abdulaziz bin Baz is only one man, and that his death would mitigate the influence of his fatwas (religious creeds). Those who say that forget that Islamic schools around the world follow educational curricula based on his exegesis and fatwas. He followed only Ibn Taymiya and Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah’s fatwas, both of whom were extremely fundamentalist.

Abdulaziz Bin Baz: We never took this man seriously. We never took Saudi Wahhabism seriously. They represented intolerance, extremism and bigotry. There were initiatives during the twentieth century for tolerance, plurality, secularism and female’s liberation before King Faisal managed to quell them, following the horrendous 1967 defeat. The slogans of that era were progress, liberation and enlightenment. Saudi Wahhabism was receding and put on the defensive. It did not win people’s hearts and minds. Instead, it resorted to the position of defending the US and colonialism during the Cold War. During the fifties and sixties (until the 1967 defeat), Saudi Arabia had a difficult time buying off newspapers and consciences. Only the Beirut-based “Al-Hayat” followed Saudi policy in the region, and never deviated from it. Gamal Abdul Nasser was not in a position to clash with a regime that was viewed as leftovers of the Middle Ages. Arab parties (both loyal and deceitful ones) competed to offer programs for growth, modernization, progress and even liberation. But the oil sheikhs and Wahhabi sheikhs were viewed as men of the “tarboosh” and mocking them was necessary in Arab political literature, even in café discussions. This is what Yasin Al-Hafith meant by his term “Shakhboutism” in Saudi political ascension: it indicated their extreme backwardness (some in liberal Saudi media today rely on Yasin Al-Hafith’s traditions to defend “moderate” Salafism. Discourse about moderate Salafism is akin to talking about dry swimming). But the Saudi mufti (religious authority) (who did not descend from the Al-Sheikh family, meaning Wahhabism’s founder’s family), was very eminent in Saudi government since the beginning. He crystallized twentieth century Wahhabism, under which we still succumb in the twenty first century. A Saudi judge said a week ago that killing of owners of “deviant” satellite channels was permitted. Like other jurists of darkness and backwardness, he relied on Bin Baz for authority.

Here is a noteworthy scene from the sixties: King Faisal attends an opening ceremony to fundraise for King Abdulaziz University, but he notices the presence of Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Baz and says “I seize the presence of our big brother, Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Baz, whom I consider a father figure … and Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Baz bears great responsibilities and important tasks to serve Islam and Muslims, not only in this country, but all over the Islamic world. I beckon him to honor us with just a few words on this happy occasion” (Al-Bilad, 16 October, 1964). This was the influence of Bin Baz on Faisal. King Fahd described him at his death as “the dearest of people” and called him “the father”. (An American ex-ambassador to Saudi Arabia told me that King Abdullah was careful not to smoke in public, to abide by Bin Baz’s teachings). Today we see his influence more than any other time. This is his era, his generation, and his fatwas flood us from every direction. They target the individual and mount increasing constriction on women. Saudi media tries to distract us with Rotana’s channels of decadence and debauchery so that we may forgive their fatwas of intolerance. They change their discourse from channel to channel.

Bin Baz represented the Wahhabism founded by Muhammad Bin Abdulwahhab and made it even more intolerant, extremist and hostile to women. He became a judge at the age of twenty seven, which entitled him to issue a large enough number of fatwas for generations to sink under after him, both in Saudi Arabia and those countries which follow Wahhabi Islam in return for more than a handful of dollars, such as Al-Azhar, which Muhammad Abduh, and later Gamal Abdul Nasser, tried to reform. Abdul Nasser deserves acknowledgement for adopting a reformist, tolerant model of Islam, especially in women’s issue, which comrade Mervat Hatem termed “state feminism,” without one’s full adoption of the Nasseri program. The extremist Bin Baz, who was an extremist in Wahhabi extremism, and made it the country’s official religion and policy foundation for spreading the message around the world by (reactionary) collaboration with the United States. Osama Bin Ladin held him in high esteem and didn’t criticize (gently) until recently. Bin Baz called for discarding all Sunni schools of thought. He denied in a rare interview with the Saudi Al-Majalla magazine that he had allowed following the Hanbalis (or others). He called for returning to Hadith (Prophet’s sayings) and his commentary. The more intolerant the commentary and extremist the exegesis, the closer it was to his thought and taste. He had no inclination towards jurisprudence books, and admitted that he never finished reading the books of Abi Dawud, Ibn Maja and even Imam Ahmad’s book. He only relied on Quran and Sunna, as he repeatedly stated. He objected to the broadcast of four schools of thought’s teachings because they resulted in “abhorred traditions” (P. 349, Aspects of Abdul Aziz Bin Baz’s Biography).

The influence of pro-ruler jurisprudence

Bin Baz might be women’s worst enemy in the twentieth century. His writings, declarations, speeches and fatwas with regard to women were repugnant. A woman was entirely vice in his opinion, which explains official animosity towards women in the Kingdom of Saudi Oppression. This appears in both intolerant Saudi religious media and lewd Saudi media that commercializes women. Bin Baz said in an interview with Ukath newspaper “as for publishing pictures of women on covers or inside of magazines and newspapers, that is a great abomination and serious evil which invites degeneration and falsehood. The same goes for misleading secular calls, or those which invite prohibited acts. All this is a great abomination.”

The current program of dispute between Sunnis and Shiis, which has become official Saudi policy (with American blessing at the beginning even though the United States, measured with a Tripoli yardstick, was cautious of the risks of spreading dispute because Salafism could easily get out of control), can be blamed on the Wahhabi creed and Bin Baz’s fatwas specifically, which in turn follow Ibn Taymiya’s fatwas. Saudi closed-mindedness was not temporary or casual, but calculated and blessed by religious institutions in the kingdom. Bin Baz decreed that “connecting refusniks [derogatory term for Shiis] and Sunnis is unacceptable because the theology is different. As it is unacceptable to bring Jews, Christians and idolaters together with Sunnis, it is similarly disallowed to bring the refusniks and Sunnis due to the theology differences we mentioned.” (Collection of Various Fatwas and Essays, Fifth Volume).

Another part of his legacy is superficiality, or giving branches precedence over the fundamentals of religion. When asked why he never combed his bushy beard, he answered “I fear any of it might fall off,” which contradicted sunna (prophetic teachings) in his opinion. He issued a fatwa, for example, that women were not allowed to wear high heels “it is prohibited to wear high heels because it exposes the woman to the risk of falling, and people are legally mandated to avoid dangers. It also exaggerates her height and her posterior, which is deceitful, and exposes beauty that faithful women are prohibited from displaying.” (Fatwa number 1678, recorded in Salih Al-Wardani’s book, Bin Baz’s Fatwas). He also proscribed wearing “the atheists’ distinct clothing” (Fatwa number 1620). As for hijab, he was clear in his letter on “Beautification and Hijab” when he declared that a woman’s face and hands were “vice”. In matters of marriage and divorce, he gave no room for emotions according to a hagiographic biography “the couple may say ‘we have children’ and he would say ‘even if you have a hundred, they won’t get lost’. The wife may say ‘I’ll die’ and he’d respond ‘many died before you in obedience to God and His commands.’” (p. 289 of Bin Baz’s Biography). Bin Baz dedicated a special pamphlet for prohibiting photography.

He would also encourage Muslim males (as Muslim females were vice in his opinion) to abandon countries of “polytheism” and return to Muslim countries. This took place within the old framework of separation between the house of Islam and the house of war (which some orientalists, like some Bin Ladinites, believe still dictates the essence of international relations between Muslims and others). Science had no place in Bin Baz’s jurisprudence; charms were a substitute for medicine, as “his grace used to use charms on himself and utter them on points of pain in his body.” (p. 511 of his biography). Some of his fatwas stemmed from pre-Islamic polytheistic practices, such as asking for forgiveness during times of drought. We have no idea how to reconcile the House of Saud’s celebration of their national holiday and Bin Baz’s insistence that “Muslims have no holidays aside the ones God legislated for his creation.” (p. 346 of his biography). But since when does the House of Saud consult religion, logic or science in its policies?

Bin Baz is responsible for advocating (with oil revenue support) for the culture of intolerance, backwardness, closed-mindedness and dejection. He warned “against attending assemblies of amusement and singing, and listening to malignant broadcasts, and gatherings for gossip.” He added “even graver are cinema theatres, and the like, watching lewd films which infect the heart and distract from the mention of God and reading his book, and provoke vile character, and abandonment of decent character.” (Bin Baz’s Biography). This is exactly the culture the Hariri family (whether deliberately, stupidly or foolishly) tries to spread to Lebanon. We remember the campaign that the scholars of Qretim waged against Marsel Khalifa’s song, which was a poem by Mahmoud Darwish. They were partners of Al-Azhar’s book burners who maintain silence about the suffering of the Palestinian people and the participation of the mummified president’s government in Sharm Al-Sheikh during the siege of Gaza. Instead, they monitor books which include secular thought, liberation and feminist thought, and they provoke the masses against cartoons that arrive from Denmark.

Bin Baz was influential in the Cold War in Arabic and Islamic context around the world. He issued fatwas against “destructive ideologies” in reference to leftist and progressive thought generally. There is a word of Latin origin (the root means to block enlightenment), which we often translate as “darkness”. It points to animosity towards thought and the era of enlightenment. This applies exactly to Saudi Wahhabism which flees progress and modernity, even their appearance, and in this regard it meets with the darkness of Christianity and Judaism. The Egyptian writer Ahmad Baha’uldin accused Bin Baz in the sixties of denying that the earth was spherical, based on an article the latter had written. However, in his response to Ahmad Baha’uldin, Bin Baz said he did not state either “affirmatively or negatively” about the earth’s sphericity, but he did reiterate the familiar tune (which mimics King Faisal’s speech) about destructive ideologies and socialists and their “apostate, Jewish leader Marx” (see the response on Bin Baz’s official website online). But Bin Baz was frank about denying the earth’s sphericity while he proves it indisputably. As for denying man’s landing on the surface of the earth, it is likely that Bin Baz waited spent his whole life awaiting proof.

However, Bin Baz’s usefulness to the House of Saud was political, par excellence. He had said that obedience of the prince was obligatory (“and he who obeys the prince obeys me”). Bin Baz’s obedience to the House of Saud continued in spite of the various phases that the kingdom went through politically. The princes of Saud didn’t consult him on all religious and educational matters; the import of Muslim Brotherhood scholars and their leaders to the kingdom, appointing them to high offices, and their contribution to devising educational programs and school curricula all occurred without Bin Baz’s approval. Bin Baz wasn’t enamored with the Brotherhood because they were not Salafist, which is enough to deem for a Wahhabi apostasy ruling. Bin Baz obeyed the House of Saud and called for Muslims to obey them. In the most dangerous decision the kingdom took, of inviting American troops (even though American troops started moving before Dick Cheney, American Defense Secretary at the time, received the official invitation), Bin Baz supported them and called on Muslims to support the war on Iraq (without referencing the identity of the foreign troops involved, which Saudi press described as “Arabic, Islamic and friendly troops.” The American friend in Saudi need is a friend indeed.

There was a Salafi revolt against Bin Baz that year, from Al-Qaeda to some reform currents in the kingdom which condemned Bin Baz’s agreement with the ruling family about all matters. Bin Baz changed when the House of Saud’s kings and princes started to publicly state their policies towards America and Israel, which had been secretive. Today we know that everything Abdul Nasser accused them of the fifties was right, and emphatically so. The Saudi scholar who used to foam at the mouth at Jews and “crusaders” (using Al-Qaeda’s language) and threatened against “the disreputed morals of the apostates among the children of Israel” and call for cursing them, spent his final days settling for peace with Israel, following the example of Al-Azhar’s sheikhs. But Bin Baz’s supplication was more comprehensive; he would call Muslims to “curse infidels including communists, Jews, Christians and all remaining polytheists.” (P. 320 of Bin Baz’s Biography). We don’t forget, and we shouldn’t forget, Bin Baz’s role in encouraging “jihad” in Afghanistan. When he stopped receiving Gulf money in the nineties, Yasir Arafat would mention the colossal figures of Saudi support for extremist Islamist groups which resisted communist rule in Afghanistan. (Who can deny today that communist rule there represented a golden era in the history of Afghanistan, at least as far as women’s rights and separation of church and state were concerned, even if it were repressive, exactly like the regimes of “American liberation” per the Bush doctrine?) Bin Baz marketed the House of Saud’s policies, which were an extension of American politics during the Cold War; the Saudi government used to pay travel expenses for every Saudi who desired to fight America’s enemies. These are your fatwas, bin Baz, your war and America’s war, you shakhbouti adviser to the sultan. Nothing moved the House of Saud and its jurists like they were moved for Afghanistan’s cause because it represented common ground with their allies in Washington (the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” hints to that and to the House of Saud’s pliability to Ronald Reagan’s will during King Fahd’s rule).

The American ex-ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Hume Horan, who was fluent in Arabic (and later served the occupation authority in Iraq) knew Bin Baz’s significance and made an effort to meet with him. But King Fahd was uncomfortable with this meeting and asked the American president to withdraw his ambassador, and that is what happened (consult sources such as The Arabists by Robert Kaplan for other various reasons for King Fahd’s objection to Ambassador Horan). Some may say that extremism is an attribute shared by all religions, creeds and ideologies, and this is true. However, Wahhabi extremism relied on oil resources to incite hostility and hatefulness between people, destroy all possibilities for peaceful coexistence among Arabs and play a destructive role in fighting progressive thought. An ex-leftist (who was recently promoted to General Secretary of locals, tears and marxisms in “The Future of Salafism” – thanks, Hani - , meaning he was the right or left hand for Faris Khashan, who uses the internet to publish cheap sexual slurs to describe his opponents and doesn’t republish his essays praising Emil Lahhoud and Bashar Al-Asad thinking that we forgot about them) who tried to give excuses and justifications for the idea of Wahhabi apostasy rulings by referring to writings about uncleanliness among Shiis (the ex-leftist became a party to the ideological war between Islamic schools of thought). But the mufti of Tyre, Ali Amin, quickly responded live and silenced him because he had higher rank in the Hariri political establishment. Wahhabi hatred shouldn’t be confronted with another hateful ideology, of course.

Pro-state jurisprudence is not limited to an ideology, a sect, an era or a current. There are ruler’s advisers in Iran even though Khomeini (before taking office, of course) condemned them in his book about Islamic government. There are jurists in Najaf who support the American occupation of Iraq and yet never receive criticism from Hezbollah. It is difficult to explain this as anything but sectarian solidarity. There are reactionary jurists like Ibn Hanbal who refused (or refuse) to modify their beliefs and fatwas even if they had to endure torture. Those, even if you disagree with their perspective and logic, might be among the hundreds whom Al-Hayat newspapers was proud of the Saudi government for firing from their jobs after September 11. Some may have sinned by calling for the liberation of Palestine or gathering donations for its besieged people. As for Al-Qaeda’s ideology, it remains the official creed for the Kingdom of Oppression, in spite of Bin Ladin’s recent differences with the House of Saud (whom he knows, king by king and prince by prince) about foreign policy. Bin Baz enables the kingdom’s ideology that controls the official Arab system on behalf of America and its ally Israel. Although this is his era, his time, and his fatwas encumber women (and men) throughout the Islamic world, darkness will inevitably end, as it cannot last forever."

Wahhabi anti-Semitism

Al-Arabiyya website (yes, that famous station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) decided to insult (in Wahhabi minds) Iranian president by peddling a story that he is originally Jewish.

Lebaonese anti-Semitism: and proud Lebanese corruption

So LBC-TV had a show on Lebanese greatness--I am not making this up. Lebanese Forces anchor, May Shidyaq, invited a handful of Lebanese to celebrate Lebanese greatness. One of the guest is Ron Seikaly. He was asked about the "Lebanese lobby" and he went on to talk about "the Jewish lobby" and how it controls "the media, sports, entertainment" as he said. They also celebrated and honored Sam Zakem. But they did not tell the viewers that "In a federal indictment in Denver, former Ambassador to Bahrain Sam Zakhem and two associates were charged with accepting $7.7 million from Kuwait in 1990 to help win American public support for military action against Iraq. Zakhem, 56, who made an unsuccessful bid this year to become the G.O.P. Senate nominee from Colorado, was accused of failing to register with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and of avoiding U.S. income taxes."

PS If you really want to understand my hostility to Lebanon, watch this show. They later mentioned on the show that there is a brillian Lebanese who "invented" a cure for cancer in France (I mentioned that dude before). They also said that it is "internationally known" that Lebanese men are handsome--but I think that they were talking about Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga`), the idol of May Shidyaq. They said that in philosophy, Gibran is a landmark. It was Jubran who said that there are "rotten teeth" in the mouth of that nation.

Standards of the Nation magazine

"Anger is boiling over in the Middle East over Gaza, and -- exactly as I predicted -- the result of the war has been to boost radicalism throughout the region, to strengthen the terrorist-inclined fanatics of Hamas, and to enhance the muscle of terrorist-inclined Israelis, including far-right parties such as Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu and, of course, Likud's bombastic Benjamin Netanyahu." Look at the standards of the Nation magazine. Only the far right of Israeli body politics are characterized as terrorist-inclined. Netanyahu is merely "bombastic". (thanks Sousan)

Sultan bin Fahd

The scandal of Sultan bin Fahd.

Watch where you get your praise

"Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal praised Obama for "his desire to have a strong and fruitful relationship with the Arab world" and said his stance was a "positive development" in Washington's policy towards the Middle East." This is the same minister who praised George W. Bush for his "patience" weeks--literally, as Joe Biden would say--before Bush invaded Iraq.

Zionist music

"It's quixotic, being a peace activist in Sderot, an Israeli town that has borne the brunt of rocket attacks from Gaza. When Israeli air strikes on Gaza began last month, hundreds of people from Sderot swarmed to a vantage point known as Horseman's Hill to watch the fiery spectacle and cheer. Nomika Zion was not among them. "I listened to one of my neighbors telling Israeli TV that the sound of the bombing was like a symphony, that he's never heard such powerful music before," she says. "And I was thinking, How many people are dying because of that 'music'""

Signs of Anti-Semitism in Venezuela

"a Palestinian flag was waved during a parliament session." (thanks Hammouda)

The Economist

I have been behind in the Economist--the best magazine there is. But I must confess that their coverage of Gaza has not been good.

Dahlan speaks (Dahlan also likes Al-Arabiyya TV)

"All my positions and conduct are in the interests of the Palestinian people." He added that even his corruption and collaboration is in the interests of the Palestinian people. (thanks Badar)

Democracy technique

"According to a L.A. Times story on September 8th, Cambone was crowing that the new Army Field Manual instructions would give interrogators "what they need to do the job." The article noted:
The new manual includes one restricted technique that will only be used on so-called unlawful combatants – such as Al Qaeda suspects -- not traditional prisoners of war.

That technique, called "separation," involves segregating a detainee from other prisoners. Military officials said separation was not the equivalent of solitary confinement and was consistent with Geneva Convention protections."" (thanks Mai)

Fanatics of the world, unite--under Israel's flag

"Police claim Abhinav Bharat, the Hindu radical group blamed for the blasts, which killed seven and wounded more than 100 in Malegaon, had designed a flag and written a constitution and was preparing to form a parallel Hindu government in exile operating out of Israel." (thanks Laleh)

Lebanon's war on the Palestinians

"While Lebanese officials were publicly denouncing Israel's war on the Palestinians of Gaza, the Lebanese cabinet was busy making sure the Palestinians of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon never recover from the war waged on their community more than a year ago." (thanks Marcy)

A poem about the great George Habash

A beautiful poem by Ibrahim Nasrallah about the late George Habash. I don't have time to translate but it says: "This land, they said: is a field of death. You said: Life, it is." (thanks Mirvat)

Change you can believe in--if you are brainless

"Clinton: Israel has right to respond to Gaza rocket attacks" (thanks Olivia)

Change you can't believe in

" George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s special Middle East troubleshooter, was chairman of a law firm that was paid about $8 million representing Dubai’s ruler in connection with a child-trafficking lawsuit." (thanks Ali)


It is quite funny, in fact. First, it is really petty and silly that AlJazeera is ignoring the interview with Obama on Al-Arabiyya. But it is really annoying the extent to which Al-Arabiyya is indulging in self-congratulation. They interviewed Saudi propagandists in the Arab world asking them why did Obama select Al-Arabiyya. And they all said in unison that he selected Al-Arabiyya because it is "objective." In reality, Al-Arabiyya was chosen because it serves US propaganda interests around the world. And just as keen Al-Arabiyya was in serving Bush and his wars, it is enthusiastically keen now in serving Bush. It is funny how quickly the station adjusted and only this week the reporters and anchors now slip cracks against Bush.

That was quick

"A Jordanian Foreign Ministry official says the country's ambassador has returned to Israel after an absence of several weeks that was widely interpreted as a protest over Israel's offensive in Gaza."

"Usurping Entity"

Regarding my appearance on AlJazeera yesterday, I told people I know that I took particular pleasure in referring to the Israeli advocate as "the representative of the usurping entity."
(ممثل الكيان الغاصب)

Bushama Speaks: Pitfalls of Economism

This exchange from the interview with AlArabiyya TV (the station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) summarizes it for me:
"THE PRESIDENT: Well, here's what I think is important. Look at the proposal that was put forth by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia --
Q Right.
THE PRESIDENT: I might not agree with every aspect of the proposal, but it took great courage --
Q Absolutely."

There are several things to be said about this interview, and I don't believe that there is anything new in it whatsoever. I mean, CNN is lauding it as an example of how Obama (or Bushama) is willing to reach out to the Muslim world. I listened to it on my way from SF last night and CNN aired it in full. First, if the Bushama really wants to be different from Bush he would have selected AlJazeera and not al-Arabiyya. I mean, CNN does not know that Bush spoke to Arabic TV stations regularly, and Rice was a fixture on Al-Arabiyya TV. And they selected Al-Arabiyya because it is "friendly" to US interests and because on Al-Arabiyya TV US officials get softball questions. If Obama wanted to be different he would have chosen Al-Jazeera because it is the Arabs' favorite channel. Al-Arabiyya is the US government's favorite channel, and the US under Obama does not seem to want to respect the choices and preference of the Arab population. Secondly, Obama chose this station because he wanted to appease the Saudi royal family especially after the moping remarks of Prince Turki--the midwife of Al-Qa`idah and a key ally of the US. This president is signaling that he will be no different than Bush in coddling the Saudi Wahhabi dictatorship--a key ally of Israel today. Do you notice that Israel does not even make token noise about Saudi arms sales? It used to prod its lobby here in the US to put stiff resistance to any arms sale to Saudi Arabia, and then they deny the existence of a Saudi-Israeli conspiracy. Apparently, the Saudi King was not pleased that Obama or Bushama called Abu Mazen (the usurping president of the puppet PA) and Mubarak--and of course Olmert--on his first day on the job but not the Saudi autocrat. The president then called him the next day and the Saudi news agency reported that they discussed ways to even "strengthen and expand" the Saudi-American relations. Don't ever believe the promises of any presidential candidate regarding human rights or democracy when it comes to the Middle East: look at the example of the disgraced and failed president, Jimmy Carter who can't stop producing boring and insignificant books on the Middle East. Thirdly, there is nothing that Bushama said that was not said by Bush. The CNN guest, Aslan something who always impresses me with his lack of knowledge on the Middle East when he speaks on the Middle East, kept saying in awe that the president spoke respectfully about respect in his address to Muslims and Arabs. But so did Bush, and Bush went to a mosque in Washington, DC--in order to prepare for the bombs and missiles to fall on Muslim and Arab heads. Fourthly, Obama in talking about the Middle East--the Palestine question and beyond--suffers from an acute case of "economism" or economic reductionism. He has the tendency to reduce all Arab and Muslim issues to job and medical care. It is NOT only the economy--stupid. It is also about pride and dignity and Palestine AND about freedom from the severe oppression that people suffer under governments that are coddled and armed by the very same US of A. So the words fall hollow here. Fifthly, Obama as a representative of the White Man (and he can also be referred to as the White Man, analytically speaking just as Margaret Thatcher was a representative of the White Man) did not deviate from the deep racism that characterizes US foreign policy to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean when he refers to Israel's security as "paramount" he is basically saying (like previous US president) that the security of the Palestinians is inferior because they are seen as inferior people. There is no question about that. It means that and the racism is reflected clearly in the disregard of Israeli WMDs. It never comes up in any interview with US officials on Al-Arabiyya (it is featured regularly in AlJazeera as yesterday's interview with Brent Scowcroft showed). Karl Marx wrote somewhere about the danger of covering up the chain with flowers. Obama is no different than Bush but American bombs and missiles under his administration will be decorated and covered with flowers. If that is a reason to celebrate, please open the champagne bottles NOW.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Today in History: a year ago

"Radical PLO leader George Habash died in Amman, Jordan, at age 81." The great George Habash.

One-sided carnage

"Over the last four weeks the powerful Israeli propaganda machine has been churning out lie after lie about Hamas in order to excuse its own inexcusable onslaught. Israel stopped journalists going into Gaza, preventing any independent reporting on the war crimes its forces were committing. Truth is usually the first casualty in war. Gaza was not even a war in the conventional sense of the word; it was one-sided carnage." (thanks Green)

Obama wants more of that

"But the two young men who lay wincing in a hospital ward here told a different story a few days later, one backed up by the pro-American provincial governor and a central government delegation. They agreed that 13 civilians had been killed and 9 wounded when American commandos broke down doors and unleashed dogs without warning on Jan. 7 in the hunt for a known insurgent in Masamut, in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan. The residents were so enraged that they threatened to march on the American military base here."

They will serve two hours in jail

"Nine young Jewish men, most of them under the age of 18, were arrested Sunday night on suspicion of torching property belonging to Arab residents of the northern city of Nazareth Illit over the past few months." (thanks Olivia)

Registered in notebooks

""We all put our hands up and yelled, 'We're women and children. We're not the resistance,' " recalled Sherine Helw, Fuad's daughter-in-law. The soldiers opened fire on Fuad, said Sherine, and he died in front of his family."

Cows or...goats and chicken

Now this is not a cow but it is something. But we need the cows or the.....goats and chicken to be comfortable inside the tunnels. I did not like how squeezed this one (goat?) looks. (thanks Waqaas) (B'Tselem--but why is B'Tselem taking pictures of the tunnels? That is what I want to know.)

Embedded "philospher"

"Bernard-Henri Lévy, bien calé dans le char israélien qui le transportait - comme il l’a raconté si fièrement - n’a sans doute rien vu." (thanks Mirvat)

Colonial feminism in Denmark

"While the mother was sentenced, the father of the girls was found not guilty." (thanks Gabriela)

Lessons from Lebanonesia

"Visiting Georgian Deputy Premier Giorgi Baramidze said his country has a lot to learn from Lebanon." Look at those stupid stories that you find on An-Nahar website. I am sure that Georgia can learn from Lebanon: especially in the area of civil wars and sellling the country to outside powers, but the Georgian president is doing a good job already in that regard. (thanks Nir)

Dahlan o Dahlan

A reliable source in Palestine sent me this: "apparently, samer huwairah from al quds television was arrested by the pa on saturday because he put abdel sattar qasim on television".

The Palestine question

It is not Arab regimes that keep the flame of the Palestine question alive among the Arab people. Regular and constant Israeli brutality and savagery that does that.

US media covrage of Israeli terrorism

My comments on media coverage of the Israeli terrorist attack on Gaza in the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Badil.

Arab hopes or illusions?

My article on Al-Jazeera net: "The Obama Era: Arab hopes or Illusions?"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scenes from Gaza

"Palestinian schoolchildren attend a lesson under a tent at the yard of their Islamic school which was destroyed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on January 25, 2009. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)