Saturday, October 31, 2009

Michael Onfrey: a correction

Emilie sent me this: "One important correction on the quotes that I've just realized: the quotes I thought came from Onfray's preface (the ones from the link:) are actually the back cover summary of the book by the editor. Sorry about my misreading (I was in a hurry when I wrote and mistook the "préface de Michel Onfray" first line in the text for an indication of the source of the text quoted under it). So here it was in fact the "anarchist" editors who were racist...You can find actual quotes from Onfray's preface here in this book review though, and they aren't any better (yes, I double-checked and read slowly and I'm sure it's Onfray being quoted this time): « Le politiquement correct de notre temps transforme en islamophobe quiconque a l’audace de tenir pour juste la pensée des philosophes des Lumières sur les sujets de la religion, de la laïcité, de la démocratie, de la raison et de la philosophie, prévient Michel Onfray dans la préface [my underlining]. D’où le mérite de la parole rare de Hamid Zanaz. Car l’auteur nomme un chat un chat et dit clairement ce que toute intelligence bien faite devrait affirmer haut et clair : l’islam est intrinsèquement incompatible avec les valeurs de l’Occident [emphasis added] qui sont l’égalité entre les hommes et les femmes, l’égalité entre les croyants et les non-croyants, l’égalité entre les modes de vie sexuels, l’égalité entre les peuples, ce que valide la Déclaration des droits de l’homme à laquelle un musulman ne peut souscrire, non pas conjoncturellement, mais structurellement [emphasis added] parce que sa religion ignore la séparation du spirituel et du temporel, qu’elle pose dans le texte même du Coran une inégalité fondamentale entre l’homme et la femme, entre le croyant et le non-croyant, entre le musulman et le non-musulman, entre le fidèle et l’apostat, entre le disciple d’Allah et celui d’un autre Dieu. »
I apologize for the confusion. This quote is still just as terrible as the book cover though, and this time it is all Onfray's writing guaranteed... Sorry again for the misreading. All the rest, and especially the two critical analyses I linked to, remain valid."

American liberals: when they feign disgust

"AT THE height of the French-Algerian War, good American liberals were appalled and disgusted by revelations of torture by the French army. The pack was led by then-Senator John F. Kennedy, who called for every kind of sanction against France. In the event, possibly as much as any other single factor, it was the reaction against la torture, across the world and within Metropolitan France itself, that won the war for the Algerians—though, when it came to atrocities, their hands were by no means spotless. Yet, when 9/11 struck, out of horror at what had been perpetrated, many of those good Americans who had so vigorously opposed torture as practiced by the French in Algeria stifled their qualms and at best averted their gazes from excesses committed in Guantánamo, waterboarding within the homeland or rendition abroad for other less squeamish regimes to do what was necessary. Or they more actively supported the Rumsfeld-Cheney line for the extraction of information at any cost." (thanks laleh)

An Arab who insists on traveling with a concealed knife

He was asked if he was carrying any sharp objects or weapons, and he said no. And he smiled too. (thanks Noura--his wife)

Legal analysis of Israeli war crimes

"On December 27, 2008, Israel launched a 22-day military offensive against Gaza called “Operation Cast Lead.”1 Israeli forces killed some 1,300 Palestinians, including 280 children, and injured approximately 4,300 others, including 1,100 children.2 Civilians comprised nearly 70 percent of the Palestinian death toll.3 The aerial and ground offensive also destroyed 2,400 homes, 29 schools, 121 commercial and industrial workshops, 60 police stations, and 30 mosques.4 During the Operation, thirteen Israelis were killed including three civilians and four soldiers killed by friendly fire.5...Israel’s November 4th raid into Gaza marked the first significant breach of the ceasefire, which was then met by renewed Hamas cross-border attacks and ultimately Israel’s 22-day offensive against Gaza. Nothing in international law sanctions the provocation of an attack to justify the use of force in self-defense, which Israel attempts to do here. While Israel may be justified in its exercise of force in an existing or continuing conflict, that justification is not equivalent to the right to initiate force. The laws of armed conflict, jus in bello, govern the former category. The laws justifying the use of force, jus ad bellum, namely those acts characterized as self-defense, govern the latter and constitute the scope of this article. Israel professed that its initial attack was intended to prevent a threat of an attack, indicating the absence of a requisite armed attack necessary to meet the threshold of self-defense under a narrow reading in the modern Charter system. For the sake of argument, even if we were to accept that Israel’s provocation was of no consequence and therefore it was indeed responding to an armed attack, its response would still have to meet the threshold requirements of necessity and proportionality." (thanks Bassam--her husband)

Like Bush, Obama winning hearts and minds and feet

"Recently, while Pakistan's government may have been saying the things that the White House wants to hear, the country's media and public have often been openly hostile towards the United States."

Allies in torture

"Former Brit ambsdr Craig Murray says UK and USA sent prisoners to Uzbek to be tortured"

Supreme criticisms of the Supreme leader

"According to the reports, a student from Sharif University, named by some websites as Mahmud Vahidnia, criticized the Iranian leader, state broadcast media, the postelection crackdown, and the closure of the reformist press -- for a whole 20 minutes. The student reportedly told Khamenei that he had never seen criticism of Khamenei in the Iranian press. He said those surrounding Khamenei have turned him into “an idol.” He then went on to accuse state media of biased reporting and giving a false picture of postelection events. He added that since the supreme leader appoints the head of state broadcast media, he is responsible for its content and biased coverage. On a roll, the unnamed student then criticized “the cycle of power” in Iran, including the conservative Guardians Council and the Assembly of Experts. According to Khamenei’s website, the Iranian leader reacted by saying that he welcomes criticism and knows that there is a lot of it." (thanks Nader)

Turkey and Israel

"Turkish officials respond that they have no intention of breaking off relations with Israel, and think they can still be a useful interlocutor with the Jewish state." (thanks Khelil)

That thing called honor: from Hegel to now

"It is crucial, therefore, that we do not fall into the trap of seeing honour killing, for all its horrific nature, or rather because of it, as the expression of an alien culture, religion or tradition that has no resonance in the West. For that reason, both Wikan and Husseini cast their net wide, drawing examples from the United Kingdom, Jordan, Sweden, the United States, Pakistan. It is no less crucial to insist that honour killing cannot be equated with Islam. Both Wikan and Husseini work hard to break this equation. Wikan includes Christian examples and draws on her experience of honour cultures which do not oppress women from her fieldwork in Oman, ‘a Muslim society in which to be honourable means to honour others’." I must say that Husseini started her career playing to the Western expectations of the worst stereotypes of Muslims and women, but she gradually and slowly matured in her thinking as is evidenced by this book. (thanks Ibn Rushd)

PS Look how Hegal talks about Honor in section 164 of the Philosophy of Right: "It must be noticed in connection with sex-relations that a girl in surrendering her body loses her honour. With a man, however, the case is otherwise, because he has a field for ethical activity outside the family. A girl is destined in essence for the marriage tie and for that only; it is therefore demanded of her that her love shall take the form of marriage and that the different moments in love shall attain their true rational relation to each other." (Third Part: Ethical Life, The Family, (addition).

Robert Fisk against Western news agencies

Robert Fisk here attacks Western news agencies. Some of the criticisms may be valid. Now, I am not one to defend Western news agencies, but some of the Western news agencies' reporters do a much better job than Robert Fisk. I take Andrew Hammond of Reuters, for example, over Robert Fisk, any day. And I can even talk in Arabic with Hammond. (thanks Olivia)

This is quite touching:

Walid Jumblat praises his friend, Robert Fisk. Warning: it may bring tears to your yes and ears.

Those Palestinians

"No more tears: A bagged Palestinian protester throws a tear gas canister back at Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier in Bilin, West Bank." (AP)

4524 Palestinians arrested since the beginning of 2009

Since the beginning of the year, Israeli occupation soldiers have arrested 4524 Palestinians. 4524 more reasons why Israeli is doomed in our region.

Capitalism cliches

"Bolstering these cases with brief studies on Egypt and Pakistan, Nasr suggests that where capitalism flourishes, so, too, do tolerance and moderation." I mean, notions like that need to be substantiated and not repeated like cliches. It can be easily argued that the advent of capitalism in Egypt was accompanied with more intolerance and fanaticism. Under the socialist regime of Nasser, Muslim-Christian clashes were unheard of. Equally, Saudi Arabia is a capitalist country, and unless I am missing something there is no evidence of either moderation or tolerance, unless both are defined as the tendency to make peace and alliances with Israel. Also, don't forget that Pinochet's Chile was the epitome of the Chicago model of ultra-capitalism. And don't forget Lebanon up to 1975: a model of Western capitalism hailed right and left. (thanks Ziyaad)

Obama's surge

"More than 1,000 American troops have been wounded in battle over the past three months in Afghanistan, accounting for one-fourth of those injured in combat since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001." (thanks Dina)

Samir `Atallah

I had a long dream of me having long and amicable conversations with Lebanese journalist, Samir `Atallah, who excels in writing tributes to princes of the House of Saud. I mean, he is the epitome of the corruption of the Lebanese press, and yet he visited me in my dream and I did not express my views to him about what he does. What gives?

Asked why: a belligerent leader of a faction of a group of another

"Asked why Mr. Abdullah had not been charged with terrorism, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Terrence Berg, said, “The charges speak for themselves.”" But it was later explained: "A 43-page criminal complaint described Mr. Abdullah as the belligerent leader of a faction of a group."

Mustafa Barghuti

I received tons of emails from people protesting my post about Barghuti's appearance on the Daily Show. They were outraged that I described his interruption of the other guest, Anna, as "sexist". I am here to express my views and my impression, and not yours. So go fly a kite, NOW.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Our secrets and their archives

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Our Secrets and Their Archives: Looking for Lebanon in the American [Archival] Collection"

Dictatorships that you like

"The press is mute. Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based watchdog, ranks Tunisia’s press as one of the world’s least free. Many journalists who cheek Mr Ben Ali or his regime have been beaten, imprisoned, sued or intimidated. Naziha Rejiba, editor of a banned newspaper, Kalima(“The Word”), says her office was ransacked and locked, her telephone tapped and her e-mails blocked. But Western governments tend to keep Mr Ben Ali sweet. For one thing, he is tough on anti-Western jihadists. In Paris and elsewhere Tunisia is widely viewed as stable...Investors’ biggest concern is not to step on the toes of the ruling family. Leila Ben Ali, the president’s second and current wife, has long promoted the interests of her Trabelsi clan. Most prominent is her brother, Belhassen Trabelsi, and her son-in-law, Muhammad Sakher el-Materi, both of whom she fiercely protects. A new book by two French journalists which unravels Tunisia’s business web was banned in the country this month. Mrs Ben Ali tried in vain to have it banned in France too." (thanks Mohamed)


I am sure that you are proud. One of your favorite dictators, Zayn Al-`Abidin bin `Ali of Tunisia, won himself yet another term with 89.61 % of the "vote."

Look at this headline in Prince Salman's mouthpiece

This is the headline in Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Bush is funny and tells jokes, and stresses his faith in God."

Israel: disgrace unto the nations

"A Palestinian student has been handcuffed, blindfolded and forcibly expelled to the Gaza Strip by Israeli troops just two months before she was due to graduate from university." (thanks Suad)

Why is he a leader?

Look at this inflammatory headline: "F.B.I. Raid Kills Islamic Group Leader in Michigan." If he were Jewish or Christian, his religion would not have been relevant. He is a small town crook. Leader? Of what and of whom? Who among the Muslims in the US have heard of this dude? I mean, if there is a gang leader who is Jewish or Christian, the New York Times would not have said "Christian group leader".

Foreign workers in Israel

"Migrant workers in Israel’s agriculture sector are among the most exploited, according to a 28 October report by Kav LaOved, an Israeli NGO campaigning for the rights of disadvantaged workers in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ninety percent of such workers work more hours than allowed under Israeli law, without overtime payments, said the report, which has been presented to members of parliament." (thanks Marcy)

All that you have done to our people is registered in notebooks

"By year end 1,000 Palestinians will find themselves homeless. The Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights released information detailing the demolition orders of 150 homes in 12 Jerusalem neighborhoods. This number excludes 125 apartments previously slated for demolition." (thanks Olivia)

Coup Plot in Turkey?

"According to a letter written by the military officer who turned these documents in to prosecutors, the report, titled Information support work prepared by the junta, was only one of the many documents prepared by “the Information Support Department’s commissioned staff colonels Dursun Çiçek, Sedat Özüer, İlker Ziya Göktaş and Fuat Selvi … with the intent of directing public opinion under the auspices of then-General Staff Operations Commander Lt. Gen. Nusret Taşdeler with the support of several academics from universities and several politicians from the CHP [Republican People’s Party] administration, upon the order of Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun.” The military officer explained that the document in Addendum B lacked signatures because it was sent electronically. Below is an English translation of excerpts from the document." (thanks Joshua)

Judith Miller: still searching for Iraqi WMDs

"Bizarrely, Miller found hope in an official of the Saudi Interior Ministry -- an institution which tortures, executes, and holds people without charges or trial -- an official of the state which supports the very ideologies that lead to al Qaeda, the Taliban, hatred of Shiites, and the oppression of women." (thanks Nir)

Lies of Zionism--exposed

"We found no evidence that Hamas used civilians as hostages. I had expected to find such evidence but did not. We also found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions. Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion. Gaza is densely populated and has a labyrinth of makeshift shanties and a system of tunnels and bunkers. If I were a Hamas operative the last place I’d store munitions would be in a mosque. It’s not secure, is very visible, and would probably be pre-targeted by Israeli surveillance. There are a many better places to store munitions. We investigated two destroyed mosques—one where worshippers were killed—and we found no evidence that either was used as anything but a place of worship." (thanks Dick)

Karl Marx in Algeria

This is an interesting account of that trip. Whean in his biography glosses over the trip for some reason. It seems that comrade Marx was scared of us, Arabs. (thanks Moses)

This is Zionism

Israeli occupation soldiers are trying to destroy her crops. (AFP)

Anna Baltzer on the Daily Show

Anna (who appeared with Mustafa Barghuti on the Daily Show) circulated a message about her appearance. I am citing from it (with her permission): "Last night Dr. Barghouti and I were on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about Palestine. The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it's only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired..Many of you who watched the show on TV noticed that everything of real substance that I said was edited out. The major issues cut out were (1) the US role in aiding Israel, (2) the lack of adequate coverage in mainstream US media, and (3) the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott / Divestment / Sanctions (BDS) to nonviolently pressure Israel to comply with international law."

Are they fit for self-government?

"“A change of policy by turning the islands over to the coterie of Tagalog politicians will blight their fair prospects of enormous improvement, drive out capital, make life and property –secular and
religious- most insecure, banish by fear of cruel proscription a considerable body of conservative Filipino people, who had aided Americans in well-founded belief that their people are not now fit for
self-government, and reintroduce the same oppression and corruption which existed in all provinces under the Malolos insurgent government during the eight months of its control. The result will be factional strife between jealous leaders, chaos, and anarchy, and will require
and justify active intervention of our government or some other.” (Root, Elihu. 1970[1916]. The Military and the Colonial Policy of the United States: Addresses and Report. New York: AMS Press. p. 45)." (thanks Laleh)

Saddam's Memoirs: for those who ran out of sleeping pills

So the not-very-credible lawyer of Saddam, Khalil Dulaymi, has released through a Sudanese publisher what he says are the memoirs of Saddam. Saddam's daughter's Raghd, is now endorsing the publication. The account here, sounds like Saddam: full of bravado and tedious details and accounts. So much about his heroism: he explains why he did not fight the Americans. He said the reason is because he is "the commander". Where are your shoes when you need them.

Katib Yasin

Anniversary of his death.

Global Gender Gap Index and world tanking: where is the US?

Here is the rank. "Iceland (1) has claimed the top spot of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2009 from Norway (3) which slipped to third position behind Finland (2). Sweden (4) Completed the Nordic countries’ continued dominance of the top four. The report’s Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities. South Africa and Lesotho made great strides in closing their gender gaps to enter the top 10, at sixth and 10th position respectively. The latest data reveals that South Africa in particular made significant improvements in female labour force participation. Gains for women in parliament and women ministers in the new government also helped close the gender gap in the country. The Philippines (9) lost ground for the first time in four years but remains the leading Asian country in the rankings." (thanks Julie)


I posted this yesterday on Facebook/Twitter and thought that i should post here too: "A friend observed that my personality on the blog is different from my personality on Twitter/Facebook."

Prince Sultan's Health

This is an official word: Prince Khalid bin Sultan spoke about the health of Prince Sultan and said that he shall return to the Kingdom in two months. He said that "the health of Prince Sultan bin `Abdul-`Aziz, the crown prince, is in its best level and situation, and he has stopped around two month ago from using medical treatment." You know what that means, don't you? It only mean that he is so dead that his corpse is stinking bad, and it needs to be return to the kingdom for quick burial. It is over. Get the shovels and meet the Prince at the airport. (thanks Mirvat)


Luttwack has lousy politics but can be interesting sometimes. But notice how he assumes that the enemy is Islam and Muslims: "VI. Subversion is the cheapest path to victory. So cheap, in fact, as compared with the costs and risks of battle, that it must always be attempted, even with the most seemingly irreconcilable enemies. Remember: Even religious fanatics can be bribed, as the Byzantines were some of the first to discover, because zealots can be quite creative in inventing religious justifications for betraying their own cause ("since the ultimate victory of Islam is inevitable anyway …")."

Response to my criticisms

Sa`dallah Mazra`ani, assistant secretary-general of the Lebanese Communist Party, responds to my criticisms of Karim Muruwwah and of the LCP. (thanks As`ad--not me)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Get the ambulance: Isabel Kershner is shocked. She discovered that Arab women can play sports

"The Palestinians were playing the Jordanians. But more significant was that the women’s teams were playing..." No way. Are you sure? What if they are men disguised as women? I read that Arab women don't leave their houses. Check again. Ask one of the spokespersons of the Israeli occupation army that you cite regularly on all matters relating to Arabs.

Animals (like "inferior races") don't have rights in Israel (but PETA will not say a word)

""The proposed law is based on the unacceptable premise that animals have rights," Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) told the Knesset."

A digrace unto the nations

"About 30,000 migrant workers hired by farms in Israel pay thousands of dollars to middlemen for their jobs but earn less than the minimum wage and are cheated out of overtime, according to an Israeli rights group report. The rights group Kav LaOved says the workers come mostly from Thailand but also Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Palestinian Territories." (thanks Olivia)

American balance

"The State of Israel discriminates against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism and against Jewish-born believers in Christianity, while the Palestinian Authority has not been doing enough to combat Muslim violence against Christians, according to the US State Department's annual International Religious Freedom Report on Israel released this week." Look how they had to "balance" any criticisms of Israel with a criticism of the Palestinians. Now I detest both Fath and Hamas but neither of them can be accused of persecuting Christians (although Dahlan gangs may have engaged in some thuggery to blame to Hamas). (thanks Sarah)

This is Zionism

"Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says." (thanks Tarek)

Et Tu Brian Whitaker?

I have praised the reporting of Brian Whitaker: his expose on MEMRI and his critique of UNDP are classic journalism on the Middle East. But is this like the case of W.M. Watt? Watt spent his career being sensitive to Muslims and then very late in his life, published Islamic Fundamentalism and Modernity in which he lashed out against Muslims, I felt. I, however, did not like one bit Brian's book on gays in the Arab world: it was anecdotal and impressionable and veered toward sweeping generalizations. Look at this piece here: what do you say about a piece that begins with the views of Octavia Nasr. Octavia Nasr, for potato's sake who began her journalism career with the Lebanese Forces media department in Lebanon. He then says this about Iraq as if to blame the people themselves for what the Bush administration, Iran and Arab regimes have engineered in terms of the lousy system in place: "Iraq is emerging as a fairly typical Arab state with most of their usual negative characteristics – a government with authoritarian aspirations, institutionalised corruption and nepotism, pervasive social discrimination and a rentier economy that produces little besides oil – plus, for good measure, resurgent tribalism and sectarianism." He then reaches this conclusion: "Arab regimes, by and large, are products of the societies they govern and it is often the society, as much as the government itself, that stands in the way of progress." What an insult to the people of the region. If it was for the people of the region, without outside (largely American, but some Soviet at one point), none of those regimes would have survived. And if the people are the cause for the oppression, why did the regimes have to resort to mass violence to stay in power and to avoid overthrow? There is a matter of logic here, o Brian. And then Brian resorts to the oldest trick of Western journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg: to cite a token native who voices a racist or judgmental view against all natives. "Khaled Diab, an Egyptian who contributes regularly to Cif, summed it up pithily when he told me: "Egypt has a million Mubaraks." What is the evidence for that? Can you explain at least? And then the most pathetic section of the piece: "The Arab family as traditionally conceived – patriarchal and authoritarian, suppressing individuality and imposing conformity, protecting its members so long as they comply with its wishes – is a microcosm of the Arab state." Yes, Brian. Go ahead and believe that if it makes you feel better. Go ahead and believe that Arab parents electrocute the genitals of their children and pull their fingernails, when they misbehave. Go ahead and believe that the father of the family leaves dead bodies of his children hanging from electricity poles. Go ahead and believe that Arab parents starve to death their children. And you believe that the Western family is not "patriarchal and authoritarian"? Brian Whitaker: are you aware how you seem to be channeling Raphael Patai? Also, he seems too inclined to make sweeping unsubstantiated generalizations about the people of the region: "Contrary to popular opinion, most human rights abuses in the Arab countries are perpetrated by society rather than regimes." I mean, did you actually think for a second before writing that sentence? Once second?? You believe that the Arab people themselves have killed as the regimes have killed, and have administered torture as the regimes have? Where do you get those gems from? Not even Octavia Nasr. But Whitaker has hope: in blogger. As a blogger, I have no hope in bloggers. (thanks Chris)

Religion plus another factor

"Another allows agents to use ethnicity or religion as a factor — as long as it is not the only one — when selecting subjects for scrutiny." OK, so we can use religion plus the tendency of the suspect to buy Pita bread. Or his Islam and his beard. Easy.

Hooked on Haykal

My mother yesterday was pleased: she told me that she has discovered the Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal show on Aljazeera. She said that she finally found someone that she agrees with. But she said that she noticed that he starts to make strong and necessary criticisms of Arab regimes, but then appears as if he stops himself, or that he does not want to go too far.

Mubarak Ship is sinking, fast

There are signs that the Mubarak ship (or dinghy) is sinking fast. You know how I know: Al-Masir Al-Yawm is suddenly changing orientations and began to slowly distance itself from Mubarak (father and son).

Elie Wiesel Hearts Hagee

"Elie Wiesel addressed a crowd of 6,000 Christian Zionists at Pastor John Hagee's "Night To Honor Israel." According to the San Antonio Express News, while Wiesel sat by his side, Hagee trashed President Barack Obama, baselessly accusing him of "being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea."...In blessing Hagee while damning J Street, Wiesel and Oren chose an anti-Semitic group led by a far-right End Times theology preacher..." (thanks Max)

J Street: the conference (what do you expect from what Amos Oz endorses)

Yesterday, I decided to actually read the full schedule of the Conference. Leftists are praising the conference. And did you see how the J Street took an ad in the Washington Post to brag about Israeli endorsements? They were so thin, those few names. So J Street is now a key promoter of the lie that there is indeed a "peace camp" in Israel. You know what I mean? That J Street is not in fact bad for Israel, from a pure propaganda point. Now back to the conference: read it and share this conclusion: the Zionist premise is the same between J Street, Main Street, or AIPAC street. That the Palestinians are marginal and should not be allowed to speak for themselves unless accompanied by Zionist adults. Notice how marginal the Palestinians are in the schedule. And notice who they invited: the president of the Dahlan Task Force for Israel. You want to tell me that the organizers did not know that that outfit only speak for Dahlanists? Of course they knew and they knew that it cheered for Bush for during his war years, before they converted to Obama on the day that he took office. Oh, and they also invited PA Minister of Economy, Bassil Khuri: the guy who gave that horrific interview to Le Monde (I cited him last week or a bit more than a week) in which he basically called for more strangulation of the Palestinians in Gaza. And notice that they share the same outlook of AIPAC even if they use different language: like having a session on Iran, and then having a title about whether diplomacy will work, therefore giving legitimacy to Israeli war threats.

Michel Ofrey (the "post-anarchist") as a racist?

Emilie sent me everything I need to know about Michel Ofrey (I cite with her permission):
"I've just read your blog entry about Michel Onfray and as a French leftist, I have to react: Michel Onfray might have started off (a loooong time ago maybe ?) as a true anarchist, i.e. someone radically opposed to religion but also to any kind of social domination. That would have led him to criticize Islam as a religion but 1. not to become an atheist bigot looking at Islamic history and Muslims as vile or looking at Islam as more dangerous than any other religion, 2. to be able to analyze trends toward emancipation within Muslim social groups themselves and to be intelligent / knowledgeable enough about social movements to know that when we get on the path toward justice and fighting for radical equality, we all start from somewhere, and that somewhere doesn't have to be White, male, atheist, French and anarchist... I strongly believe that he uses the overall libertarian guise of "ni dieu ni maître" / "I dislike and criticize all religions" to actually specifically target Islam and Muslims. Or... a thought has just crossed my mind as I'm typing. Maybe, like some stupid anarchists I've heard, he actually says dumb, ignorant or racist things about all religions equitably, he's as uneducated about Christian or Jewish histories, and this time he happens to write about Islam ??? Who knows ? Either way, if he's an ignorant or dumb anarchist, to me the only part of it that sticks is the adjectives, not the "anarchist" part... I'm all for criticizing and mocking faith, religion, superstitions and rites in each and every variant of them. But I never find blanket statements like "Muslims are this" or "Islam is that [with no time frame or geographical reference or theological reference]" acceptable.
Long story short, here are links to a preface Onfray has recently written about Islam and then two leftist-anarchist websites that demolish the guy's imposture (and do so with arguments, mind you, not with the same kind of messy, sweeping generalizations as Onfray's).
1. Onfray's preface to an anti-Islam book:
Enjoy sentences like: "ce livre assassine l’idéologie islamique comme jamais encore." (what is "the islamic ideology" ??? Not islamist, no, really islamic !) and
Critiquer l’islam, aujourd’hui, en France, relève du devoir pour tous les esprits libres et pour tous les révolutionnaires. (okay, phrasing is ambiguous, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and not assume that he meant specifically criticizing Islam compared to other religions...)
Comme le dit l’auteur, il faut appeler un chameau un chameau, et, donc, ceux qui adhèrent à l’amputation, à la circoncision, à la flagellation, au statut inhumain des femmes…, des obscurantistes religieux fascistes." (Ha ha ha, you have to call a camel a camel - the original is to call a cat a cat - because you, Islam, Arabs... well, the next image is camel, of course; nothing orientalist about that, right, because no anarchist could harbor orientalist prejudices, right ? And these last two sentence come
straight one after another, making for nasty implications and generalizations, so here no benefit of the doubt !!!).
Once you read about the contents of the book he so praises (see last article I mention below), any ambiguity left will have been lifted about Onfray's racism.
The book in question was published by this house:
2. Now two critical views of Onfray by true leftist anarchists (e.g. they strongly opposed the exclusion of female students wearing a hijab from French public schools on anarchist grounds, i.e. "we still don't like religions, but it is totally sexist, classist and racist to exclude them, plus it is wrong to claim to emancipate people forcibly - people emancipate themselves through education, economic independence and common struggles, all things we deprive these women of when we exclude them from schools").
- Great website "Les mots sont importants" (search results for Onfray):
Key article on the issue you wrote about:
Full disclosure: I am acquainted with the two website owners (through common activism).
You should know that Onfray gets invited on mainstream TV quite a bit and seems to enjoy the attention. He is also very popular with anti-Muslim leftist movements, i.e. the failing, traditional left (and sadly traditional feminists who help defeat the Vatican and now think the next big threat is Islam...) in France (the article I suggest above deals with that:
- Funny anarchist columnist Sébastien Fontenelle in one of the last leftist weeklies with a readership of more that 3 people:
I copied the full blog post below.
By the way, your and his writing style and political ideology are very close, I think you would really like that guy's blog (he also likes to post pictures of "serious" people and make something funny out of it, like you !). He is great with ironical understatements and destructive flattery. His thing is also to mix everyday, sometimes rude language and old-sounding or very formal, very educated French to talk about current events, which makes the persons he attacks seem even more ridicule than they already are (case in point: instead of writing "Musulmans" for Muslims, he sometimes uses the weird, pre-20th century "Mahométans", which makes for hilarious effect and makes Sarkozy and the coward left sound like the backward colonialists they are).
Hope all this clarifies the Onfray thing..."

Foreign maid in Lebanon

Another Ethiopian maid, 26, "fell" to her death near Sidon in South Lebanon.

Plagiarism in the Daily Star?

Robert sent me this: "Read the fourth paragraph of this article from the Daily Star:
"Le Gray is located in the historic heart of Downtown Beirut, a 15-minute drive from Rafik Hariri International Airport, in the smart Beirut Central District. It offers cool, modern interiors, with 87 wonderfully spacious rooms and sensational suites, exciting restaurants, all accompanied by warm and highly professional service."
It's plagiarized.
See the original here:
I've noticed plagiarism in other Daily Star articles in the past, but never one so blatant and self-serving for the subject of the article."

The Longevity of Arab Regimes

Marwan kindly translated my article on the longevity of Arab regimes from Al-Akhbar:

"The Longevity of Regimes: An Examination in the Causes of the Arab Ordeal"

Arab leaders dream of immortality. They don’t spare anything in their search for potions and herbs, and they seek the help of charlatans to obtain the secret of immortality. Hassan Touhami, Anwar Sadat’s advisor (who had an ill-fated role in the early relationship with Israel), was a medium who communicated with the dead to advice Sadat for protection from evil. Some astrologers in Lebanon built palaces they paid for by providing «prophecies» for this ruler or that. One lifetime of oppressing their people is not enough; they prolong it through their descendants who render their names immortal. Some of them ruled us for decades, others for centuries.

King Fahd started early in his search for the protection from disease, assassination and conspiracies. He learned of a skilful fortune-teller. He hurried to have her brought to him. The rest of the story is well known: how she advised him that it was impossible for him to be cursed if he kept his then infant son, Abdul-Aziz, by his side. His son never left his side in his life, and the king introduced The Ministry of Ministerial Affairs so he can stay with him wherever he went. British Foreign affairs tried once to object when the king insisted to bring «Azzouz» along to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth. And we know today that Saddam was like «Himmler», mesmerized by magicians and charlatans, and how he was obsessed with personal security and the security of his two sons.

But what is the reason behind the longevity of the Arab regimes and their sustainability? Recourse to the Orientalist theories of «Oriental despotism» or Arab exceptionalism, or authoritarianism inherited from Islam does not meet the purpose of analysis, and they are invalid from a sociological perspective. The political purpose of those theories is to justify Western support for authoritarian Arab regimes, and absolve the colonizers from all responsibility. We must not attribute the prevalence of the Arab exception theories to the vulgar American-Israeli Orientalism (which does not rise to the level of classic, serious and abundant European Orientalism, regardless of its methodological and political problems) only, but there are propagandists in the Arab world who promote sweeping stereotypes about Arabs and Islam: What is the meaning of the repeatedly cited statement in Abdullah Algosaimi’s book, «Arabs are a vocal phenomenon»? And does the book include anything but thoughts and projectile generalizations which insult the Arab element as much as the racist writing insults the African element? Abdul Rahman Al Kawakibi’s book “Characteristics of Despotism” contrary to the banality of Orientalism, adopts a closer approach to modern sociology, because the author does not restrict it to one environment, one component or one people: on the contrary, he tries to follow the principles of political science of the time, despite the book’s elitist tendency that gives an utmost importance to science and knowledge as if they were to guarantee the absence of tyranny (Al-Kawakibi says that tyranny and science are «opposites» and describes the «common people» as «ignorant and stupid» ( «The Characteristics of Despotism» in «The Complete Works of Al-Kawakibi», p.459) despite the fact that tyranny in Germany prevailed in a nation that was advanced in science and knowledge.

The promoters of the exception of «Arab despotism» need to review the huge work of the adept Theodor Adorno (and colleagues) on the «Authoritarian Personality», which was based on field studies in the United States. The study included nine psychological components that render a person susceptible in terms of falling victim to authoritarian control. The analytic approach is purely psychological, applies to all societies, does not limit itself to one society and does not tend to go for cultural and religious generalizations like the book «The Arab Mind» or the writings of Arab liberals that follow in Raphael Patai’s footsteps. There was a lot of fuss in this country when Adorno’s book was published in 1950 because the American society was under the influence of political propaganda that assured the Americans they are far from falling victim to an authoritarian regime. The American sociologists would insist that tyranny is a characteristic of Germans or Russians or other non-Americans. Adorno let them down, and they sought to prove that the book contained errors.The subject must be researched from a sociological perspective in order for us to explain the continuation of the Arab rulers, suffocating their peoples, unwelcomed and uninvited. We now long for the year 1949 when three successive military coups took place in Syria alone. And coups today are non-existent except in Mauritania. The regimes found a way to be invincible to plots. We must mention in this regard, the capabilities of Arab intelligence agencies that are ineffective against the enemy, but succeed in domination and protection of the regimes against danger.

We can first classify three types of regimes in terms of longevity: The first category is legacy regime where governing families reign. And Lebanon belongs partially to this category in some sects (where the rule of the families of leaders dominates, some of which had prevailed for centuries). The second class is the class of rulers born from within a previous regime, such as Tunisia where the director of intelligence got to power through a medical coup, or Egypt where the ruler left behind another ruler he handpicked, who in turn was handpicked (Abdel Nasser’s second mistake is unforgivable) by a previous governor. The third category is the new regimes category, which are trying to build their own new strains, to which belongs the regimes in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq (before 2003). All three categories succeed in coming up with the means to stabilize the regime and pass the power along as inheritance.

The reasons of longevity are multiple, and they include:

First, the end of the Cold War. The Cold War allowed plots that facilitated coups and regime changes. The coups executors found it too easy to visit the U.S. and Soviet Embassies to request assistance with their plots. The intensity of the Cold War would increase the appetite of the two superpowers for regime changing, as long as it hurt the opponent’s interest. The Cold War encouraged or plotted to overthrow governments.

Second, the United States is fully satisfied with the prevailing regimes in the Arab world, and considers that the survival of regimes contribute to the safeguarding of American interests. For this, Walid Jumblatt discovered that even the Bush administration was not seeking to overthrow the regime in Syria. This factor may be the most important factor in explaining the reasons for the continuation of the Arab regimes that receive the most military and/or financial to ensure their continuation. The Western democratic regimes supported the authoritarian regimes whenever they’re exposed to instability and shocks (such as Saudi Arabia during the “Haram” uprising (in Mecca), Black September in Jordan, Oman during the Dhofar revolution, or Yemen against the revolution in the north and south today). The United States does not seek to change even those regimes it opposes, such as Sudan. The U.S. discovered after the Iraq war (or even before that in the U.S. State Department before the reign of Bush) that a change in the Arab regimes will bring immeasurable scourge on America's interests, even if the arrogance of the American empire prevented them from admitting it. And do not forget that the American forces (deployed in more than 130 countries around the world) are present with their weapons and their intelligence apparatus in the Arab world. (There's a huge intelligence base in Dubai, for example, which was exposed by coincidence during the deliberations of the Congress three years ago on the issue of «Dubai Ports» and the subsequent discussions about the role of Dubai in America's wars). Bahrain is the headquarters of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, and the United States has also maintained an unspecified number of «military advisers» after the formal withdrawal of its troops from Saudi Arabia. Dahlan gangs and internal security forces in Lebanon receive direct U.S. «sponsorship».

Third, this tremendous growth in the structure of oppressive military intelligence helped Arab regimes survive. And the Arab intelligence, only a few decades ago, used to rely only on informants in neighbourhoods and people-watching in a blatant manner (and they did it without the slightest guilt). Intelligence agencies became one of the most sophisticated devices of the state. When I visited the University of Mohammed the Fifth in Rabat, in the mid-nineties, I only saw two or three computers, while many computers were deployed in the passport control at the airport in Rabat. The computer entered the Arab world outside of universities in the sixties: in the Jordanian intelligence building and the Lebanese Ministry of Defense. A comrade who was arrested and tortured in the eighties in Oman was surprised by the strict regulation and classification of files: Every Palestinian organization has a special section that «takes care» of it, and takes care of torturing its activists. Arab intelligence agencies also used the help of academics. Fadel al-Barrak ran the Iraqi intelligence service after he earned some advanced degrees (I remember when Hanna Batatu visited Iraq in the eighties he ran into a friend of his who told him that he had read his book on Iraq. Batatu was surprised and asked him how he could get the banned book. He replied that he borrowed a copy from Fadel al-Barrak). Intelligence agencies have specialists now (one specializing in electric shocks, another is skilled at severe beatings, and a third at extracted finger nails) as well as medical trainees who contribute to the torture (The same way American doctors and psychologists assisted with the torture carried out by U.S. intelligence after September 11). This advancement in the intelligence community, and the establishment of intelligence services to spy on other intelligence services, have strengthened the pillars of the authority. Military coups were easy in the fifties and sixties: a few tanks were sufficient to capture the radio station and the Ministry of Defence and the presidential palace (which was not a fortified fortress like today). Saddam Hussein's palaces were huge compounds so that nobody would know his place of residence at a given moment. The regimes knew how to well use the air force to undermine any revolutionary act: we recall the terrible threat by Hafez al-Assad against Mustafa Hamdoun’s coup. The purchase of any advanced weapons on behalf of the liberation of Palestine contributed to the protection of regimes, and did not provide any help in the wars against Israel.

Fourth, family control of regimes and the trust of family members only helped in the consolidation of power. They all became a model for” “Shakhboutism”: the father holds the reins, brothers and sons take control of the different arms of the government. Only if Michel Foucault devoted a special chapter about us in his book «Discipline and Punish». The ruler only trusts the sons, in-laws and cousins. And killing family members was not prohibited: as Saddam did with a number of his relatives. What is important is to maintain power. Defections, isolation of Brothers, fratricidal conflicts and the splintering of red princes in the sixties did not prevent the continuation of the rule of Al-Saud.

Fifth, the rulers became experienced in governing and preventing coups. This is due to external support, in addition to the arrival of a number of Arab rulers to power through coups and plots. Hafez al-Assad, for example, participated in more than a coup and a plot to overthrow the government, and Saddam Hussein experienced conspiracy and assassination at an early age. Rulers gained experience and skilfulness in the affairs of coups and plots.

Sixth, the public fear of the unknown. People nowadays do not rely on promises of change: the disappointments accumulated and the dream faded. Maybe it’s the 1967 war, or perhaps it’s the failure of Nasser or the fall of ideologies ... People are accustomed to their rulers, but maybe they feared the worse: This explains how some people in Syria preferred Hafez Assad to his brother, Rifaat (today, he’s a Democratic crusader backed by the Saudis ). And regimes deliberately exploit fear and warn of calamities if the regime was to be brought down.

Seventh, the traditional doctrinal intimidation about the strife. And we must warn here from going too far in relying on the religion factor (which the proficient Maxime Rodinson warned of in his dangerous work “Europe and the Mystique of Islam” ('La Fascination de l’Islam’ ) which he called it “theologo-centrism” in reference to the intolerance in the Orientalist studies which blame all phenomena among Muslims on religion. But we can consider some of the theories of Islamic political conservatism, such as the ones contained in the writings of al-Ghazali, which are supportive of religious totalitarianism. The warning from «sedition», which occupied Al-Ghazali, helped the call for obedience to the unjust ruler for fear of chaos and civil war. And the scholars of the sultans in the Arab countries update their theories of political thought in support of the governor no matter how unjust he becomes.

Eighth, oil revenues and foreign aid reduced the need to use the «extractive capacity», of which Nazih Ayoubi spoke in his book «Veneration of the Arab State». So the Arab states made revolutions less likely through the use of oil revenues and foreign aid to alleviate the curse of the people (Wasn’t the slogan of the American Revolution «No taxation without representation»?). This helps to subsidize food (which Rafic Hariri wanted to completely “liberate”, and he was not afraid of the revolution because sectarianism and religionism protect the regime from the revolution).

Ninth, a mood of despair and fear played down the possibility of armed opposition. Arab peoples have lost a lot of their hopes and desires through decades of defeats, disappointments, conspiracies, oppression and wasted dreams. And the «Arab Dream» musical is closer to a tragedy and the melody is funeral, but expresses the popular mood of today, which is tainted with a lot of dismal Karbala mood.

Tenth, the equation of «C. Wright Mills» in his book «The Power Elite» about the recipe of «entertainment, deception and praise» to stay in power, applies to the Arab world. Mills considers that the ruling elite in America has tightened its control through the exploitation of a combination of entertainment, deception and praise (The ancient Greeks despised «commending the public» which is the origin of the word «demagoguery») to adapt and hypnotise the public. How can one explain the massive explosion in the Arab satellite channels, which is the real opium of the people, whose biggest calamity lies in the sports programs, serials, and programs along the lines of «Superstar» aimed at strengthening national enmity as leaked in a document on Iraq by the U.S. Department of Defense? But unlike the rulers of America, the Arab rulers do not praise their people. They stick to self-praising their royal and republic entity.

Eleventh, the rule of the Saudi era and the protection of pro-Saudi governments (in agreement with the U.S. and Israel). The United States tightened its control in most of the Arab world by supporting a regional political system under the leadership of Saudi Arabia (under the name of «moderate camp», whose moderation includes beheadings in public squares, stoning of lovers and flogging rape victims, which took place recently in Saudi Arabia). Arab regimes are scrambling today to defend each other: The war of the Yemeni regime against the Houthis received American-Saudi support, and the perpetual regime of Hosni Mubarak issued a quasi-military statement about the war in Yemen, even though there was no evidence of Israeli support.

Twelfth, the widespread violence and the use of massacres for intimidation and to undermine the opposition. This may be the most important factor, which is contrary to all the Orientalist allegations (ruminated today in the so-called Arab liberalism, which calls for individual freedom one hour, and then chants for the lives of oil Sheikhs the next hour, or writes a book on the Poetry of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, as did Shaker Al-Nabulsi who recently came up with a theory which states that the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia is the action of women themselves, not the ruling family) on Oriental despotism, or the Arab inclination toward submissiveness and resignation. It can be noted that the Arab regimes in Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Oman, Yemen and Sudan committed a huge number of massacres against their own people in order to consolidate their command. Massacres are also evidence that people dot not yield. The regimes did not need these mass murders and the mass imprisonments if there was a meek and public acceptance of tyranny. One cannot underestimate the size of this repression: the Egyptian regime held 7588 people on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood last year alone (according to a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood). A regime that needs to imprison 7588 people in one year does not benefit from a climate conducive to tyranny, or from a genetic tendency to accept repression, at all.

Thirteenth, the effectiveness of the coordination of Arab suppression. The meetings of Arab interior ministers can be considered as one of the most important and uniting Arab meetings. Arab regimes oppose all efforts to unite and integrate, but they cooperate with definite effectiveness in the Arab joint suppression. Ashraf Rifi (Director of the Lebanese security forces) sits on the Governing Council of the “Arab” University of Prince Nayef for Security Sciences. We do not know if the curriculum includes lessons in the electrification of genitals, skin peeling and nail extracting.

Fourteenth, we must not overlook the factor of self-repression that Foucault warned us against (and the brilliant artist Ali Farzat): namely the search for deposits of despotism in every place outside the State, from family to religion to traditions and the tribe.

We cannot address the question of the continuance of regimes without talking about the nature of colonial domination that did not leave the Middle East for a single moment. The United States insisted after World War II on controlling the Middle East and tightening its grip on Latin America (this is why America did not forgive Cuba’s rebellion). This means that the relationship between the continuity of the regimes in relation to internal factors and direct or indirect external interference is controversial.

We can also add that the Iraqi model of change achieved the opposite of what the U.S. colonial forces promoted in supporting the domination of Arab regimes, because the change model in the popular psyche became associated with violence, civil strife, foreign domination, corruption, the rule of armed militias and rolling back historically and socially in terms of strengthening tribal ties and clergical control (with all its implications in the decline of the status of Arab women, which means that the Arab liberalism supports the Arab regimes and the wars that increase the oppression of women, but that is not the only contradiction that besets this frail movement).

This analysis should not be perceived as an invitation to further despair. On the contrary, the refutation of Orientalist theories must rely on the ability to overcome the political and economic factors that influence the Arab suppression. Therefore, the power of the weak is more important than (waiting) for the weakness of the powerful, to quote Marx. But change requires you to abandon the remote control for a while, even if it means missing a soap opera or two.

Note: This article is drawn from a lecture I gave at the University of Montana a few days ago (which is a part of the study that will be published in a book in English on the causes of the continuity of authoritarian regimes in the Arab world)."

Mustafa Barghuti on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

So I watched it. First, it was interesting that he came accompanied with a (nice) Jewish woman activist for peace. But it came across as awkward: as if the Palestinian could not be brought before the audience without the approval and blessing of an American Jewish person. As if to say: he is OK. This one is a human being. Secondly, the tension was felt as soon as Barghuti began to speak: when a member of the audience yelled: liar. And Jon Stewart, who repudiated and mocked Rep. Wilson for yelling "liar" to Obama, treated the yelling but the audience member as a healthy or normal expression of the intensity of passions on both sides. He almost sounded: as if the words of Barghuti are equal to the rude yelling but that dude. Thirdly, Barghuti was quite rude and sexist: he would interrupt the woman as soon as she would try to talk. It really bothered me. She did not have a chance to speak. Fourthly, as is the case when it comes to Israel, Jon Stewart was not himself during the segment: he was not funny or witty, and he was nervous and felt (it seemed to me) an obligation to parrot the cliches of MEMRI and AIPAC without even intelligent review of those cliches. He said that Jews were expelled from Iran in 1948. Just like that. Fifthly, Barghuti kept repeating that his "movement" stand for non-violence. Yet, another attempt to show that he--unlike other Palestinians--is a human being. Sixthly, Barthuti was dragged into giving assurances about "the security of Israel." Here was a visitor from an occupied land invited to a TV show to give assurances to the occupying state. A theater of the absurd, for sure. Seventhly, Jon Stewart (who is usually smart and well-informed about politics) sounded as ignorant and as ill-informed about the Arab-Israeli conflict as the average American. He cracked a joke about Palestinians and Israeli, implying that all Palestinians are Muslim. At least Barghuti corrected him on that one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mufti Juzu: and the "pro-Western" March 14 Movement

It is always amusing when Western reporters describe March 14 as "pro-Western." This Mufti of Mount Lebanon is a key Hariri cleric and champion of March 14. This translation is from Mideast Wire: "On October 25, the Lebanese News Agency reported: "In a statement today, 25 October, Shaykh Muhammad Ali al-Juzu, mufti of Mount Lebanon, said: "Israel is America and America is Israel. The Zionist lobby in America, and not the US President, is the one ruling America. The US president is only a number in the US Administration." He said: "Since Clinton,America has been waving the two-state solution without implementing it because the Zionist lobby did not allow this. This is what happened to Bush and what is happening to Barack Obama. They all wear the Zionist cap on their heads, and each one of them puts his head between the hands of the Zionists to turn it as they want. That is why we saw Netanyahu challenge Obama and not accept his desire to halt the construction of settlements. Mitchell's trips to Israel, the West Bank, and Ramallah are only a smokescreen.""Mufti Al-Juzu went on: "The whole US Sixth Fleet came yesterday to flex its muscles to the countries in the region, especially Iran. It came with its advanced, sophisticated weapons in confrontation of the Iranian ballistic missiles on the borders of Lebanon and in Tehran. Despite the fact that Iran has been tempted by its current power to challenge the Arab and Islamic nation, so it started inciting the
Shi'is against the Sunnis all over the region; Iran is trying to interfere in the internal affairs of the countries of the Arab world; and Iran is committing many mistakes, especially in Lebanon - despite all this, we do not accept threatening it by Israel with the US missile shield and we do not accept this absurd, racist show by America. Despite all the mistakes made by Hezbollah in Lebanon and in the region, we do not allow Israel or America to attack Iran or to threaten Lebanon on the pretext of the existence of the Iranian missiles on its borders.""...If America's claim that Al-Qa'idah is the one that was fighting America on the land of Iraq, then this means that Bin Ladin has achieved victory over the US army and that terrorism is becoming stronger and America is becoming weaker. Therefore, we tell America: Stop making these threats to the Arab and Islamic world. The tiger in Iraq has turned into a 'cat.' The peoples of the Arab world, despite its weakness and fragmentation, can defeat America and defeat Israel in the end. We tell America: Stop committing brutal crimes in Afghanistan. Stop committing massacres! es in Pakistan. Stop supporting Israel by all means of international terrorism. The end of America is coming, God willing.""He added: "Had it not been for Iran's fatal mistakes and had it not been for its adoption of the approach of sectarian discrimination and racial and ethnic incitement against the Arabs, we would have all stood behind it in the face of the US-Israeli threat. Iran should repent. It should, once again, heed reason and wisdom with its Arab neighbours - and I am not saying its brothers in Islam - because Iran's understanding of Islam differs from our understanding of it. Its understanding is based on historical hostility, sectarian enmity, and rancour against the Arabs. This prompts it to play this negative role in our Arab arena. This role serves Israel and America, weakens
Iran and cancels the power that it claims."" (thanks Nicholas)

Arab liberals

Now of course, I have always said that Arab liberals (supporters and tools of the Arab authoritarian regimes and fans of Mubarak, `Abdulallah and `Abdullah) who champion peace with Israel are almost always rabid anti-Semites (in Arabic). But of course, Israel and Zionists worldwide welcome anti-Semites and shower praise on them if they oppose Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.

Nasser and Egyptian Jews

"Until Egypt's Jews were expelled by Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and '60s, Egypt had a millennia-old, thriving Jewish community." What? When did that happen? See how Zionist operate? If Jews stay in an Arab country, the Zionists in the West scream: look. They are holding Jews hostage. Let them go, now. And if Jews voluntarily leave an Arab country, Zionist propagandists scream: Look. They are kicking the Jews out. They are expelling all Jews. I mean, really. What do you want? (thanks Nader)

Why not 2 million more troops? Or 10 million?

"There are already more than 100,000 international troops in Afghanistan working with 200,000 Afghan security forces and police. It adds up to a 12-1 numerical advantage over Taliban rebels, but it hasn't led to anything close to victory. Now, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan is asking for tens of thousands more troops to stem the escalating insurgency, raising the question of how many more troops it would take to succeed." (thanks Moustafa)


Now really. Between the Sahwah tribal gangs in Iraq, and the Qandahar Strike Force in Afghanistan, is it not fair to say that liberation of women and men is guaranteed?

Lashes, lashes, and more lashes

"Abdul Jawad was sentenced to five years in jail and 1,000 lashes earlier this month. Three friends who appeared on the show with him got two-year terms and 300 lashes each. And LBC, which is owned by the Saudi billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, had its license from the Ministry of Culture and Information suspended and had to close down its offices in Riyadh and Jeddah in August because of the show." Notice that LBC does not dare say a word against Saudi bans, censorship, and rule. (thanks Sarah)

Chronicle of Zionist occupation

"Israeli police raided and dismantled on Wednesday a sidewalk tent set up by a Palestinian family evicted by Israeli orders from their East Jerusalem home in August."

Salam Fayyad

A colleague (who does not want to be identified) sent me this (I cite with his/her permission): "My parents are here on a visit and I was talking to my father yesterday and he told me that he knows salam fayyad's father and grandfather quite well. On one occassion fayyad's father was telling my father "can you believe people are criticizing my son for taking up his post instead of praising him for serving his country?""

Destroying homes

Israeli occupation forces destroyed nine Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem. (AP)

As usual: "terrorist" schemes that you read about originate with an FBI informant

"The men, Patrick Nayyar of Flushing and Conrad Stanisclaus Mulholland, agreed to sell guns, ammunition, vehicles, bullet-resistant vests and night vision goggles to a man who represented himself as a member of Hezbollah but was an F.B.I. informant, officials said." They seek kooks and crooks to entrap them, it seems to me.

John Brown a terrorist?

This is the first time I see a reference to John Brown as a terrorist.

For all of you Obama fans

"America's commitment to Israel is not just a slogan and not something we signed on easily.""

The freedom to kill and massacre: disgrace unto the nations

"Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Wednesday said he is "willing to forgo visits to European capitals and to allow the Israel Defense Forces the freedom to act."" (thanks Olivia)

The French ambassador in Lebanon

A Western reader sent me this from Lebanon (he/she does not want to be identified): "right wing only begins to scratch the surface. YOU DIDN'T HEAR THIS FROM ME but apparently the word at soirees hosted by the embassy is that Ras en-Nebaa is to be an "Achrafieh II"; the shari3 ish-sham was a "gift" from France that they want to "take back"; France is going to "revitalize" the neighborhood. So far this means knocking down every other building in the mantaqa....I swear real estate criminals have destroyed more of Beirut than both the 2006 war and the Civil War combined."

If you can't defeat them, pay them

"The US military in Afghanistan is to be allowed to pay Taliban fighters who renounce violence against the government in Kabul." (thanks Raj)

Foreign maids in Lebanon

Jihad Bazzi in As-Safir. (thanks As`ad--not me)

The PA buffoon has spoken

""You're presenting us as 'untrustworthy bastards,' while the fact of the matter is that you're the ones foot-dragging and refusing to end the occupation," Saeb Erekat told Army Radio." I am surprised that in this interview he did not offer his typical series of questions and answers that he lately has been resorting to, as in: Do we want US intervention? You bet. Am I a national joke? Absolutely. Do we serve as tools of the occupation? You bet, etc. (thanks Jasser)

Suicie of foreign maids in the Middle East: the case of Kuwait

A reader sent me links regarding suicide of foreign maids in Kuwait: "A Sri Lankan maid sustained injuries and fractures after a failed attempt to commit suicide in Mubarak Al-Kabeer due to cruelty inflicted on her by her Kuwaiti employer, reports Al-Watan Arabic daily."
And there is this and this and this and this and this and this. (thanks FT)

Politicizing Goldstone

A group of students at Berkeley Law School were (and are) preparing a panel on the Goldstone Report. Some students wanted to invite me to be on the panel. Others protested saying that I would "politicize" the panel. I was amused: as if the Goldstone report deals with a dispute between two brothers or neighbors.

Prince Sultan

I received queries by readers about the health status of Prince Sultan bin `Abdul-`Aziz. He is quite dead, and is getting more dead by the hour. I thought that you should know.

First woman

"But she admits the chance to be the first woman in Turkey to be in charge of building a mosque was the opportunity of a lifetime. "When I was offered this project I cried," Ms Fadillioglu said. The mosque was commissioned by a wealthy Arab Turkish family, as a memorial to their mother "I think what is exciting is that I am a woman," she said." (thanks Zeina)

If there is a group that will bring democracy and feminism to Afghanistan, it is the Kandahar Strike Force

"The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said." (thanks Dina)

This really sumarrizes Goldhagen

"The problem, whether when he was doling out praise or blame, as the historian of Nazism Christopher Browning (Goldhagen’s bête noire in Hitler’s Willing Executioners) pointed out more than a decade ago, is that Goldhagen has shown a tendency in his work to claim to be blazing new trails in understanding when, in reality, his own views are not so far as he imagines from the conventional wisdom he so excoriates and about which he claims to be writing to correct and reform."

Syrian ban

I signed this petition against the ban of Al-Adab by the lousy Syrian regime. Speaking of the lousy Syrian regime, Al-Quds Al-`Arabi is reporting that the fanatic cleric who appeared on AlJazeera's Ittijah Mu`akis show (I even mentioned the episode this week), has been arrested as was members of his family. The Syrian government was offended because he attacked Al-Azhar and Bashshar Al-Asad has been trying to reconcile with the lousy Egyptian regime.

Have you ever seen a more humane colonial power?

Seven years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the US has stumbled on a brilliant idea: "U.S. to Protect Populous Afghan Areas, Officials Say". And it is a headline.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jeffrey Feltman

The new French ambassador in Lebanon (who I am told is rather right-wing), spoke in Arabic to the press in Beirut today in comprehensible full sentences. I just watched him on New TV. In his entire service in Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman only spoke one Arabic word--kid you not--: "Shukran" (for "thank you", and he managed to corrupt its pronunciation). I have not heard the current US ambassador in Lebanon speak one Arabic word.

Right Wing bad ass

"She was even odder to live with. Ms Burns points out that she obliged her long-suffering husband to wear a bell attached to his shoe so that she could hear him come and go. She all but obliged her leading acolyte, Nathaniel Branden, to meet her for sex twice a week, informing both her husband and Mrs Branden that the arrangement was rational. She picked fights with “frightened zombies”, as she called her fellow intellectuals, and yet was mortally offended when anybody dared to criticise her writing."

Ethan Bronner in Gaza

So Ethan Bronner went to Gaza. Oh. Is that not sweet. You don't need to read the article as I will summarize: 1) he wants you to know that the misery in Gaza is related to this outrage: "A new sign on the Gaza side of the Israeli border bars even foreigners from bringing in alcohol." He believes that this is the worst aspect of what is going on in Gaza. 2) he believes that the siege and strangulation of Gaza by Israel and Egypt is effective (and thus should continue): "Israel allows about 100 trucks a day to pass into Gaza bearing food, medicine and other humanitarian goods. But it has closed off commerce in the hope of alienating the population here from their rulers. That seems to be happening." OK, Ethan. You may go back to Israel now. Thanks for the report. Without you, the world would not know of the misery in Gaza.

More Saudi-Israeli collaboration

"The investment has come from Israeli property developer Levi Kushnir and his Hong Kong-based business partner Balram Chainrai. The money is believed to be in the shape of a short-term loan to new Pompey owner Ali Al-Faraj rather than an acquisition of a stake in the club." (Mohamed)

The collaborationist puppets are falling: don't give them a hand

"A senior political source who was privy to the State Department report noted that in it Clinton had stressed the significant setback to Abbas in Palestinian public opinion because of the initial decision not to press ahead with bringing the Goldstone report on the Gaza Strip to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. Days before the report was delivered to Obama, Erekat went to Washington, where he warned of a potential nightmare scenario as a result of the difficult domestic situation faced by Abbas and the overall desperation in the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Authority government over the stalled peace process."

Muwaffaq Ar-Rubay`i: Shi`ite sectarianism in Lebanon

When Shi`ite Iraqi puppets go to Lebanon, they are welcomed by Hariri Inc and by Shi`ite sectarian forces, like Amal and sometimes Hizbullah. Today, one of the worst Iraqis, Muwaffaq Ar-Rubay`i, visited Nabih Birri and showered praise on him. And Shi`ite sectarian forces in Iraq and Shi`ite sectarian forces in Lebanon have one thing in common: they both persecuted Palestinians.

Amin Gemayyel

Amin Gemayyel has the oratorical skills of Harry Reid.

Michel Onfray

Comrade Raed sent me this: "in this interview, french writer Michel Onfray that was interviewed today for al-akhbar by dima charif says that he is a zionist. although in the same time he says that he is pro-palestinian. (read passage in red) Now he distanciated himself from Sine who is a hard core pro-palestinian for some reason that isnt stated, but he is also critical of the "shoah epxloiters" in france. Hates Bernard Henri Levy etc. And he advocates Sine Hebdo, which is in my opinion a journal that tries to transcend to local "jews VS arabs" quarrel in France while being loudly pro-palestinian and anti-holocaust denial and anti-islamist. Is he like hannah arendt, zionist meaning some kind of "pro-juish"? what does he mean by Zionist? But anyway, he says he is Zionist, just thought you should know. just watch out, this seems like a very nuanced position, doesnt mean its not sincere. (i dont know of the author's opinions in other interviews so feel free to search further about him). read in red.
PS I am so not crazy about Onfray's "post-anarchism". And between Proudhon and Bakunin, I would never choose Proudhon.

Blame the silly Lebanese for this

"Palestinians in the West Bank town of Hebron have sewn what they believe is the world's largest embroidered dress." (thanks Sousan)

Change will come: but not from the US

"Key findings on Israel and the Palestinians -- 67%, the highest figure in recent years, see Israel as a country to be counted on as a strong, loyal U.S. ally.-- By a 3-1 ratio, the American people express more sympathy with Israel than with the Palestinians -- 64% of Americans continue to believe that Israel is serious about reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians-- Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as difficult to resolve." Any peace process led by the US should be rejected.

This is Zionism

"Israeli authorities demolished two Palestinian homes near Arab East Jerusalem on Tuesday, ignoring international concern about the practice."

Double standards

Notice that no report on Goldstone fails to cite Israeli responses. Notice that no US media EVER cite what Hamas says about its own response to Goldstone, like this from Mish`al, even if they are propaganda words--not different from US talk of "collateral damage": ""Hamas does not aim to kill civilians. Hamas does not want to target the civilians," he said. "Hamas defends itself, but because it has simple abilities and its rockets are inaccurate in targeting, so it reaches the civilians, but we do not intend to do that."" (thanks Olivia)

All that you have done to our people is registerd in notebooks

"Human rights lawyers and pro-Palestinian activists in a number of European countries hold lists with names of Israel Defense Forces soldiers allegedly linked to war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Existing legislation enables arrest warrants to be issued against these officers if they enter those countries."

Arab media and I

I can't be hosted in Arab (or Iranian) media. The Aljazeera fellow who called me yesterday to invite me to offer a few opinions by phone (on US foreign policy, as always), he said that my voice has not been heard on AlJazeera in four months. I said: of course, not as I became a victims of their "sulhah" (reconciliation) with Saudi Arabia. And this morning a reporter for Al-Quds radio in Damascus called me for an interview. I told him: for your sake and not mine, don't host me. I told him that Syrian media and Iranian media invite me to speak against their enemies but that I can't spare the Iranian and Syrian media from criticisms of Syrian and Iranian regimes. I once warned Syrian TV host, Nidal Qabalan, that I would be criticizing the Syrian government on live TV, and he urged me not to. I did of course. Nidal is now Syria's ambassador in Turkey: I hope this is a promotion. I did the same with an Iranian radio interview. But I would not mind at all appearing on an episode of the Family Guy (my favorite TV show): and I would not criticize Mayor Adam West.

Israeli Taliban: or fanatics that you find cute

"An activist in Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit community was conditionally released from prison Monday, a day after his arrest for allegedly spraying an ultra-Orthodox woman with tear gas in the capital's Mea She'arim neighborhood. Yoel Kraus was arrested after the woman filed a police complaint. The alleged attack occured about two weeks ago, during the Sukkot holiday, as the woman was walking on a "men only" sidewalk, and refused Kraus' demand that she move to the women's side." (thanks Nizar)