Sunday, January 31, 2010

NowHariri's journalistic standards

When NowHariri cites "Iranian military sources" it means they talked to a Shi`ite with a beard in Lebanon.

All Muslims, peaceable or savage...

"As many as 80,000 Muslims — men, women and children — were deported deep into the Christian heartland. Yet this provided no solution. Some contemporary writers had contrasted the “peaceable” Moors of Aragon and Castile with the “savage” Moors of Granada, but this distinction soon became irrelevant. All Muslims, peaceable or savage, were increasingly regarded by their Christian neighbors as malign and dangerous. What was a Morisco in their eyes? A murderer, highwayman or bandit. All Moriscos became pollutants of Roman Catholic Spain, with their secret Islamic rituals and contempt for the values of the majority. And like the Jews in 1492 they were impure, their blood self-evidently corrupting; their very presence in Spain was an abomination. Over the next four decades, Spanish officials planned the purgation of the Muslim threat. Every remote possibility was canvassed — drowning, castration, exposure on the icy shores of Newfoundland. As time passed, the government’s resolution hardened: it was no longer a matter of if but of when and how. Finally, from 1609 to 1614, an estimated 300,000 Muslims were marched to the coasts and put on ships for North Africa. Carr, the author of “A History of Terrorism,” charts this steady breakdown, though without demonizing either Christian or Muslim."

New TV

Now New TV went too far in headlining the newscast today with "Americans are stealing Haitian children." Now that is not right.

Not in the US press: Muhammad `Ali Zahrah

You will not read that Israeli occupation troops today invaded Lebanese territory and kidnapped a shepherd. His name is name is Muhammad `Ali Zahrah, 17.

Birmingham and the Yemen connection

"This so-called Sheik actually visited Birmingham, England in the 1990’s. And not only that - the Islah party ran it’s own Islamist schools in North Yemen from at least the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s. The schools had a totally different curriculum to the state schools. These ‘brainwashing’ schools were laughably called ‘Scientific Institutes’. The first ‘guadian’ of these schools (and co-leader of the Islah party) was Abd al-Majid al-Zindani who is now wanted by the Americans because they consider him to be a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” and a former mentor to Osama bin Laden.

It’s so not nice when old friends fall out with each other! But the really funny thing is that one of these ‘Scientific Institutes’ opened up in...Birmingham, England. One of the former head teachers of this ‘brainwashing’ school decided not to go to Yemen when the Islah party ‘institutes’ were disbanded in the mid 90’s but remained in England. Adnan Saif, a former head teacher of the ‘Scientific Institute’ in Birmingham, is now employed, according to this Guardian article, by Birmingham City Council as Chief Executive of Urban Living. Adnan Saif has nothing but the ultimate praise for Sheik Abdullah al-Ahmar. Indeed, on his personal website (when it is online) he compares the late gangster to Mandela and Gandi! The reason he thinks he can get away with this comparison is that, in my opinion, he thinks Yemenis are too stupid and brainwashed to know any better to challenge this assertion and the English are too ignorant of Yemen to know what he is talking about." (thanks Nu`man)

Look how the New York Times justifies the killing protestors in Afghanistan

"A volatile town in southern Afghanistan erupted Tuesday as rumors spread that American servicemen had desecrated a Koran and defiled local women in a nearby village. Taliban provocateurs on the scene whipped up a crowd and goaded it to violence, local officials said. When the riot was over, at least eight protesters were dead and about a dozen wounded, shot by Afghan intelligence officers. Much of the town of Garmsir blamed the Americans."

On the Taj Ad-Din who died on the Ethiopian plane

A lot of speculation outside Lebanon about the Taj Ad-Din who died on the Ethiopian plane. I checked and he is not the guy that some people here have in mind . David did further investigation for me and I cite (with his permission): "Thanks for checking. It is my understanding that Hassan is the brother of Kassim, whom the US Treasury designated last Spring. The announcement of that decision stated rather bluntly that the brothers, plural, were funding HA through their businesses in Africa. It also stated rather baldly that one of the brothers was a HA 'commander.' As for the deceased Ali, it is my understanding that he is not the same as the one who reportedly was buying land north of the Litani (according to Jumblatt), but likely a relative (nephew or maybe just cousin). Here's the US Treasury designation: Here's a related 'diamond intelligence' report: Here's a Greenpeace report on Tajideen logging activities in the Congo (Trans-M Bois): Here's Kassim meeting with officials in Myanmar: Here's an article on the Tajideen Group's role as the exclusive distributor of Tysons Food in Ghana:
Of course, a word of caution on any of these 'reports,' as they are dragged out by the WINEPers of the world to demonize/criminalize Hizbullah before the court of world opinion. However, it seems little attention is given to these activities. As you know, Hizbullah's opponents make the group out to be a pawn of Iran, but most of their money comes from Lebanese Shiites in the diaspora. This, as well as other factors, likely explains their relative decision-making independence from Iran on matters Lebanon. Moreover, shining too bright a light on these businesses would also expose the role of non-Lebanese (Israeli, South African, etc.) in some of these same activities. In a way, though, these guys are just middlemen for the big money, whose pockets are found in the US and western Europe, although this is slowly changing in some respects. That being said, it does put the lie to the Lebanese mythology of the 'la guerre pour les autres,' whose provenance was originally political maronitism, but this tale of victimhood (which has some merit given the role of foreign powers) now extends to all Lebanese factions (in my opinion). Further, I dont think you can tell the story of 'Lebanese racism' without at least some reference to these activities in Africa."

King PlayStation does not want to send troops to West Bank

"He emphasised that the Kingdom will not accept to replace the Israeli army in the West Bank with Jordanian troops, noting that what the Palestinians want is their right to enjoy their independent state." No, I wish he would send his army to the West Bank. The Palestinians would have fun with it. (thanks another anonymous)

Reuters' scandal

"Furthermore, Mr. Elsner’s name, and his Reuters affiliation, appears several times on the Israel Project’s website, which make his protestations in this instance sound rather odd. For example, one can read about an appearance on a conference call about becoming a published author, moderated by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the Israel Project’s founder and president, that he apparently participated in last December. On another page, one reads that Mr. Elsner has lectured Israel Project Media Fellows. On the same page, one finds the following information about the program:..." (thanks anonymous)

Don't ignore Mubarak, says Servitor of IKEA stores

The servitor of the two holy sites and the IKEA store in the Kingdom said: ""I support your stance that you can’t ignore Egypt because that would be immoral," King Abdullah told Abbas." (thanks Olivia)

Is there a secret Israeli plan for Sinai?

A story in Al-Masry Al-Yawm on possible Israeli plan for settlements of Palestinians in Sinai. (thanks Ali)

Stop the presses. Wake up the kids, and releas the pigs from the barn.

Flash. No, Major Flash. `Ala' Mubarak (who is identified in Egyptian media as "Citizen Mubarak" as in Citizen Cane--kid you not) who made his entry into Egyptian political life during the chauvinist craze that followed the football match with Algeria, yesterday called TV shows in Egypt and said that Husni (his daddy dictator) watched the recent football game and would hug his grandson, `Umar, when the Egyptian team (the MubarakPlayers) would score. Yesterday, I passed an Egyptian channel on TV and they were engaged in a most vulgar, most obscene festival of Egyptian nationalist celebration that I have seen.


"Despite what the document states, the investigation the IDF carried out cannot be seen as sufficient, not only to satisfy the world, but first and foremost to get to the truth. The IDF admits in the report to some instances of "intelligence and operational errors," most of which resulted in the death of innocent people, but the only soldier who has so far been tried is one who stole a credit card from a Gaza resident. It may be assumed that the world will snicker at this finding." (thanks Sarah)

Zionists accept criticisms of Israel and its war crimes

"Two days after Israel submitted its response to the Goldstone report that accused the IDF of possible crimes against humanity during last year's Operation Cast Lead, prominent lawyer and political commentator Professor Alan Dershowitz said that the jurist, someone he once considered a friend, was "a traitor to the Jewish people." Speaking to Army Radio, Dershowitz said the “Goldstone report is a defamation written by an evil, evil man.""

It has become legal for the US president to assassinate US citizens, as long as they are Muslim

" The CIA sequence for a Predator strike ends with a missile but begins with a memo. Usually no more than two or three pages long, it bears the name of a suspected terrorist, the latest intelligence on his activities, and a case for why he should be added to a list of people the agency is trying to kill. The list typically contains about two dozen names, a number that expands each time a new memo is signed by CIA executives on the seventh floor at agency headquarters, and contracts as targets thousands of miles away, in places including Pakistan and Yemen, seem to spontaneously explode. No U.S. citizen has ever been on the CIA's target list, which mainly names Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, according to current and former U.S. officials. But that is expected to change as CIA analysts compile a case against a Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico but now resides in Yemen. Anwar al Awlaki poses a dilemma for U.S. counter-terrorism officials. He is a U.S. citizen and until recently was mainly known as a preacher espousing radical Islamic views. But Awlaki's ties to November's shootings at Ft. Hood and the failed Christmas Day airline plot have helped convince CIA analysts that his role has changed." (thanks Dina)

Tarif Khalidi's translation of the Qur'an

Books, books, and more books. You thought that I busy with my jet lag, as I have been updating you on Facebook, but not too busy for book news. I have been reading and enjoying Tarif Khalidi's translation of the Qur'an. This is a major achievement. A landmark in Middle East studies that has barely gotten any attention at all. You are busy with news about lousy and silly books that are written by non-specialists and such. I am an Orientalist at heart (in my belief in real training in Middle East studies and not in the publication of books based on a few stopovers in Arab capitals). And this endeavor is quite something. The field of Middle East studies, especially in American popular culture, has been invaded by non-specialists to the point that there are no lines between specialists and invaders, or Middle East studies intruders, I call them. First, I am really bothered by the blurb on the cover jacket by Reza Aslan. I mean, Reza Aslan would not know a good translation of the Qur'an from a good translation of the Perfumed Garden, for potato's sake. To evaluate, judge and blurb a translation of the Qur'an requires a knowledge that is well beyond that of writers in US popular culture, and that is unrelated to whether I like their politics or not. Some professionalism please. Shame on Penguin for making that mistake. It is insulting on a book of such stature. I did not know what to expect, and I would not render judgment on this because I know and like Tarif (although I was never his student). I met him when I was in high school and I was trying to politicaly spoil (so to speak) all young people that I knew in my school, including Tarif's son. But that is another story. Back to the Qur'an. When my students ask me about translation of the Qur'an, I say: N.J.Dawood (the last Penguin translation) is workable and practical and usable. I have been favoring A.J.Arberry's translation because it is more poetic and literary (Taha Husayn commented once that in the Arabic language there is prose, poetry, and...Qur'an). Yusuf Ali is the most widely used translation among Western Muslims and Western specialists and it is by far the worst translation there is: it is a political translation intended to soften the impact of words on the Western white ear, and it has the poetic beauty of your Tax forms. It is simply inaccurate and should be scrapped although it is promoted by AlAzhar and Saudi Arabia. Enough said. The best thing that I can say about Tarif's translation is that it is accurate. Most accurate. Plus, I checked to see how Tarif handled the more poetic Meccan verses, and he did wonders with them. Look at his rendering of the Surat Az-Zalzalah (I erred earlier in putting Zilzal instead) (The Quake): "When the earth quakes--a shattering quake! And the earth casts up its loads! And man says: 'What ails it?' That Day it shall tell its tales, For your Lord will have inspired it!" Or listen to his translation of the Surat of Tin (The Fig): "By the fig and the olive, And by Mount Sinai, and this city, secure! We created man in fairest proportion, Then reduced him to the lowest of the low, Save them who believe and do righteous deeds, To Them a wage, unstinted." Compare that to Yusuf Ali and the latter sounds like a phone book. I think that Tarif did such an outstanding job because he truly inhabits both cultural (literary) worlds, of Arabic and of English, and it shows. Plus, Tarif (unlike Yusuf Ali) does not have a religio-political (as the French would say) agenda to promote. Tarif: congratulations for a work best done.


I want all writers in the New York Times, and most writers on the Middle East to be as upfront about their political biases as Aaron David Miller was in his book The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace. (First, I can easily make jokes about the title: don't you like the term "search for peace", like peace is an object left under a tree only to be found by a US representative in the region. As if the ingredients for peace are a mystery when we all know that once we demolish Zionism in the land of Palestine, peace shall prevail--and peace shall prevail, sooner or later). Anyway, Miller said this in his book: "As an American who happens to be Jewish, I had collected my own fair share of biases over a long period of time. Concern for Israel's well-being had ecome part of me, like some sort of ethnic DNA." (p.8) I mean, all should be upfront like that. But when I read that I laughed. Remembering all the various notions of "honest broker" with people like Miller being put in charge of Arab-Israeli peace issues.

Bashshar Al-Asad's stamps

I am sick and tired. I really am. I mean, since I came to the US, various Palestinian groups in Damascus send me their publications. And when Hafidh Al-Asad was alive, the stamps always carried his visage. And now, all the stamps from Syria has the image of Bashshar. I mean, really. Can you not think of other symbols to represent Syria other than members of the royal family? How sickening is that? What an insult to the Syrian people.

Shoring up fragile democracies in the Gulf, of course

"Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are also undertaking multibillion-dollar purchases of U.S.-made defensive systems. In the past two years, Abu Dhabi has topped the list of foreign customers for U.S. arms, buying $17 billion worth of hardware, including Patriot antimissile batteries and an advanced antimissile system known as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD. Three other Middle Eastern countries are considering buying the same systems. The UAE, which recently bought 80 American-made F-16 fighter jets, last year was invited for the first time to participate in the U.S. Air Force's Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The small Gulf country is in the process of negotiating a purchase of French Rafale fighter jets."

Obama's Middle East schemes are as crazy as those of Bush

"The Obama administration is quietly working with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies to speed up arms sales and rapidly upgrade defenses for oil terminals and other key infrastructure in a bid to thwart future military attacks by Iran, according to former and current U.S. and Middle Eastern government officials. The initiatives, including a U.S.-backed plan to triple the size of a 10,000-man protection force in Saudi Arabia, are part of a broader push that includes unprecedented coordination of air defenses and expanded joint exercises between the U.S. and Arab militaries, the officials said. All appear to be aimed at increasing pressure on Tehran." Yes, I am sure that Iran is terrified of the Saudi army which has been doing wonders against the band of Hawthi rebels.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fath Movement: the official arm of the Israeli occupation

"Netanyahu to U.S.: I'll free Fatah prisoners to boost Abbas"

Israeli massacre of books

This is a more detailed report on the Israeli massacre of Palestinian books. (thanks Sami)

Rape in Dubai

"But, recent events in Dubai suggest that this meeting place may not be quite as comfortable or cosy as one may think. On New Year's Eve, a young British woman of Pakistani descent was allegedly raped by a hotel worker at an upmarket hotel in Dubai Marina. She had been celebrating her engagement with her 44-year-old British boyfriend during a three-day romantic getaway to the city. But, based on news reports, their pleasant weekend apparently turned into a nightmare. She reported to the police that a hotel employee followed her into a restroom and raped her. A woman should be able to report a rape to the police anywhere in the world and to expect them to investigate the charge. In some parts of the world that will actually happen, even though police officials are not always as sensitive or responsive as they should be. But for those of us who live in the Middle East, it is really not that clear what we should do if we're sexually assaulted, abused, or raped. That is because in so many instances, officials either don't take us seriously, or – as this case frighteningly illustrates – we may even be charged with a crime ourselves." (thanks Olivia)

Prince Khalid bin Sultan: Jihad Khazen is worried about his taxes

"In Davos another day, and in a meeting of media leaders with David Cameron, I asked him a specific question: would you say now that the conservative party will not increase taxes if they win the next general election?" (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Isabel Kershner and Ethan Bronner: the propaganda duet

Really. Why not Isabel Kershner and Ethan Bronner just save time and ink and just write daily something along the lines of: "with blood, with spirit, we sacrifice ourselves for you, o Israeli war crimes." Look at this piece. I mean, the New York Times has published more ink on Israeli official and non-official responses to Goldstone than the actual size of the Goldstone report. I mean, if an Israeli official says: F...Goldstone, the New York Times find it necessary to write a whole article analyzing the historical significance of this Israeli response. What I like about the New York Times--and I mean that--is that it has deteriorated to such an extent in its propaganda services to Israel that it is not even trying anymore. When I first arrived to the US, the New York Times used to feign a measure of professionalism--fake and bogus, but a contrived measure nevertheless--but now, with this team of Bronner and Kershner (and Taghreed who follows orders better than anyone since Chief Butheleze served at the service of the Apartheid regime) the paper is reduced to rephrasing official Israel press releases and propaganda brochures. The dispatches of those two should end with an invitation to visit Israel and "enjoy the sun."

The Low One

This has become a very popular poster in the streets of the Middle East and on the internet. It says (on top): "The High One Built the High Dam", and (bottom): "The Low One built the Low Dam." (thanks Kifah)

For Jamal Mubarak, and for Israel

"But what suits the West in Egypt comes at a huge price for ordinary people who live without relief from debilitating poverty, endemic corruption, and repression of human rights. Take the story of Ibrahim Abdel Rahman, 30, a blogger who was released from a prison south of Cairo in September after being held for 20 months without charge. Abdel Rahman's arrest and subsequent torture is common to those who dare to challenge Mr Mubarak's regime." (thanks Sultan)

From the Kingdom of horrors

"A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a Saudi mother of three to 300 lashes for visiting government departments without a male guardian escort and for filing a complaint to the Saudi King against government officials for corruption and misuse of power, Saudi daily Okaz reported yesterday." (thanks Laleh)

I knew that Totten is very boring and thougtless, but I never knew that he could be funny

"The Barney Fife of Middle Eastern “expertise” is at it again. With a couple of exceptions, I try to not write about Michael Totten, mostly because his ignorance makes my head hurt, and his childish worldview is depressing to me. Some things, however, cannot be ignored. Usually, Totten doesn’t allow himself to wander freely into undisguised racism — his “analysis” is generally of the patronizing paternalistic order, without being overtly bigoted. But this time he’s outdone himself. In a discussion with Lee Smith, whose book was panned recently by Max Rodenbeck in The National, these two luminaries of all that is Arab and Muslim sit down and have a chat about “why they hate us.” The gist of their logic is summarized here by Totten:..." (thanks Sean)

Orientalist imagination on crack

This is officially the ugliest hotel in the world, and it will be constructed in Baghdad. (thanks Hassan)

When Queen Youtube tweets about her PlayStation husband

"Feeling very proud at Davos, His Majesty:" If someone threatens my people I have the right to defend them". I bet he will. He will do what his father has done before him: when threatened, he will plead with Israel to save him. Kingdom? Are you kidding me? Call it a farm, it would be more accurate. (thanks David)

This is Zionism

"Six years after first collection of Breaking the Silence testimonies, organization releases booklet of testimonies from female soldiers who served in territories. Stories include systematic humiliation of Palestinians, reckless and cruel violence, theft, killing of innocent people and cover-up. Here are only some of testimonies"

This almost triggered sectarian conflict in Biqa` as Hariri supporters rushed to accuse Shi`ites of kidnapping him

"On late Thursday night, security forces located "the lost imam," as Majzoub has been dubbed by some media outlets, at his friend's house in a neighboring village in good health and sporting a different look. They found a clean-shaven Majzoub sitting among guests in the house dressed in ordinary clothes rather than clerical garb, news reports say. Suspicions that the sheik had duped the police and staged his own kidnapping soon emerged." Al-Akhbar has more information regarding the involvement of this cleric with foreign (read Saudi) money for the establishment of Salafite Sunni sectarian militia in Lebanon. This is the legacy of the Hariri family in Lebanon. There will come a day when the Lebanese will wake up and demolish all statues and posters of Rafiq Hariri for what he has done to Lebanon (and to other parts of the Middle East where he operated on behalf of Saudi intelligence).

When the poor commit suicide

"Suicide is on the rise in Egypt, where about 45% of the population lives on $2 a day or less. Gamal Zahran, a member of parliament, has blamed the government for unemployment and poverty that he says have caused thousands of Egyptians to kill themselves. He called for an investigation and told lawmakers that suicides rose from 1,160 in 2005 to 3,700 in 2007 to 4,200 in 2008. Figures for 2009 were not available." Of course, this will baffle the thelogocentric analysts of the Middle East who assume that Muslims can't commit suicide because Islam prohibits suicide. (thanks Dina)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Victimhood and skin color

My weekly article in Al-Akhbar: "Victimhood and skin color: The Ethiopian [female workers] on the crashed plane".

Tibi needs lessons of history

"Racism and hatred for anything that is different, including Arabs, have raised their heads here in Israeli society." Raised their heads, Mr. Tibi? Sit down in the Knesset and listen. It is part and parcel of this state. Since its founding. No, long before its founding.


"A thousand speeches against anti-Semitism will not extinguish the flames ignited by Operation Cast Lead, flames that threaten not only Israel but the entire Jewish world. As long as Gaza is under blockade and Israel sinks into its institutionalized xenophobia, Holocaust speeches will remain hollow. As long as evil is rampant here at home, neither the world nor we will be able to accept our preaching to others, even if they deserve it." (thanks Dina)

Australian Classification Board versus women

""Australian Classification Board (ACB) is now banning depictions of small-breasted women in adult publications and films. They banned mainstream pornography from showing women with A-cup breasts, apparently on the grounds that they encourage paedophilia, and in spite of the fact this is a normal breast size for many adult women. Presumably small breasted women taking photographs of themselves will now be guilty of creating simulated child pornography, to say nothing of the message this sends to women with modestly sized chests or those who favour them. Australia has also banned pornographic depictions of female ejaculation, a normal orgasmic sexual response in many women, with censors branding it as 'abhorrent.'""

New York Times gives free excuses to all of Israeli crimes

"Apparently concerned that the protests could spread, the Israeli Army and security forces have recently begun clamping down, arresting scores of local organizers and activists here and conducting nighttime raids on the homes of others." (thanks Ziyaad)

EXCLUSIVE…Blackwater’s Youngest Victim:

"Father of 9 Year-Old Killed in Nisour Square Gives Most Detailed Account of Massacre to Date"

This is exactly what the West have in mind when it speaks of reforms

"Yet beneath the kingdom's glossy surface lies an autocratic underbelly. Despite economic liberalisation, the political reforms of the early 1990s have stalled. While Abdullah talks the language of change, domestic supporters have grown frustrated at his inability or unwillingness to push reform past Jordan's entrenched elites. No international observers were permitted during the 2007 elections, amid recurring claims that electoral boundaries were re-drawn to ensure a pro-regime result, particularly at the expense of Jordan's under-represented Palestinian majority. Even this engineered parliament had restricted power, with the king legally able to rule for long periods without it. Furthermore, strict laws muted the fledgling independent press and Jordan recently slipped behind Egypt in its ranking for journalistic freedom. Human Rights Watch complains of regular prisoner abuse and of governors bypassing the judicial system to detain people without trial."

The New York Times and its Israeli propaganda standards

The Israeli government has not yet released an official response to the Goldstone report. Yet, the New York Times has printed tens of articles in which Israeli military commanders and propagandists were allowed to respond to the Goldstone report. There was a big article just the other day. Look at the space that the paper gives to Hamas' response to the Goldstone report (it is not even by the New York Times's foreign service). Taghreed El-Khodary is busy checking on the plight of collaborators in Gaza. Was that not her mission during the Israeli war on Gaza?

Israel's dirty feet

"Liberia awarded Israel’s Elenilto Mineral Mining Ltd. the rights to develop the $1.6 billion Western Cluster iron ore project, the West African country’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said." (thanks Hani)


If the New York Times could snicker it would have: "A conventional historical account held no allure; he concentrated on what he saw as the genocidal depredations of Christopher Columbus, the blood lust of Theodore Roosevelt and the racial failings of Abraham Lincoln. He also shined an insistent light on the revolutionary struggles of impoverished farmers, feminists, laborers and resisters of slavery and war."

Anthony Shadid

I am not sure that I am happy that a fine foreign correspondent, Anthony Shadid, is working for the New York Times. I have a feeling that he won't be allowed to touch the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The worst puppet your money can buy

"Moreover, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which Mr Abbas heads, depends on American cash." (thanks Olivia)

Winning hearts, minds, and buttocks of Muslims

"Saudi Arabia's Civil Aviation Authority has reportedly received a list of instructions from Washington, saying travelers may be subjected to random manual inspection that includes sensitive body parts like the buttocks. The decision applies not only to Saudi Arabia, but also to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Cuba." I am not sure but is An-Nahar bragging that Lebanon was included in this category? (thanks Marc)

Zionists: occupiers and book burners

"Israel plundered and destroyed tens of thousands of Palestinian books in the years after the State's establishment, according to a doctoral thesis to be submitted next month by a Ben-Gurion University researcher." (thanks Ibrahim)

Hizbullah and Iran

I was watching a news show yesterday in which Lebanese journalist, Rafiq Khuri was talking. I really like this man: he is knowledgeable, funny, erudite and is a great conversationalist. He knows Arabic poetry very well, and was a sounding board (at a very early age) for `Asi Rahbani, regarding his plays and songs. He was a staunch Arab nationalist (his family is Syrian) and later changed like most in the Lebanese press. He now edits Al-Anwar: which is a Lebanese mouthpiece for the sons of Zayid. It does not sell in Lebanon but the sons of Zayid are loyal to the Furayhah family which peddled UAE propaganda early on. But politics aside, I always like to listen and read Rafiq Khuri. He was analyzing Iran and Hizbullah and it struck me how many people don't get the exact nature of relations between Hizbullah and Iran. Let me explain: up until Hasan Nasrallah (in and in the late 1990s to be exact), Hizbullah was a mere arm of Iran in Lebanon. Under Subhi Tufayli and even `Abbas Musawi, the party was a mere tool of Iran. But that has changed with the rising stature of Nasrallah. I mean, in the equation between Hizbullah and Iran, Nasrallah is a much bigger figure than Ahmadinajad. Can you imagine Ahmadinajad issuing orders to Hizbullah? I can't. The relationship has changed and Hizbullah under Nasrallah has a much bigger room of maneuver than is widely assumed. It is clear (and this is based on analysis and on information) that Hizbullah is left to decide what it wants to do. It is not that Hizbullah just waits for orders from Iran, which it used to do in much of the 1980s. The notion that if Iran is attacked, Hizbullah would immediately start launching missiles at the Zionist entity is absurd. Hizbullah will decide largely on its own calculations. The relationship has become much more complicated. Nasrallah in Iran is considered by all to be senior to the Iranian president himself (but not necessarily to the Supreme Guide). Get that?

Ethiopian delegation in Lebanon

There was an official Ethiopian delegation in Lebanon. I worried about them in officially racist Lebanon. I imagined that some Lebanese official would order them to go to the kitchen and make coffee.


I want to visit the town of Davos but I am talking here about the Davos forum. Have there been more boring and silly exercises than those gatherings?

Obama: the Middle East has obviously plagued the region for centuries

"The Middle East has obviously plagued the region for centuries." If Bush came up with this dumb observation, he would widely mocked. Obama should be equally mocked for this dumb statement. But play the whole clip and see how awful, cowardly, nervous, and stupid he sounds in the answer he gave. Every day, Obama provides me with justifications to oppose him from the very beginning. I wonder how all those leftists I know feel about him now, domestically and internationally.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mary Daly

I suspended my New York Times during my trip but my delivery person insists on saving all copies for me until I come back. So I was going through them and just today I learned that Mary Daly died. I feel guilty for not noting that on this blog. She is an important radical feminist voice in this country, and that is important when people assume that there is only liberal feminists in the US. I also should state that she--just like Catherine MacKinnon--has been defined by her enemies who caricatured her positions and not by her own writings. And note (like in this lousy obituary) that people refer to her exclusion of male students from her feminist classes but they don't mention that she offered to tutor them privately.

Charles Mathias

Nowhere in this NYT obituary is there a reference to his criticisms of the Israeli lobby.

Celebrity worship

Abdullah sent me this (displeased): ""A People's History" had some famous admirers, including Matt Damon and Affleck. The two grew up near Zinn, were family friends and gave the book a plug in their Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." When Affleck nearly married Jennifer Lopez, Zinn was on the guest list.""

A tribute to Howard Zinn

"Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove." (thanks Mina)

The festival of Lebanese racism

""Un homme, venu avec Ali à l'hôpital, affirme calmement : « Il y a eu déjà deux crashs à bord desquels ont péri des Libanais travaillant en Afrique... Il est temps que la Middle East Airlines desserve correctement ce continent. »"" (thanks Marilyn)

Lebanese marriages

"But the study has proven the argument to be out of touch with the facts: slightly more Lebanese women are married to Syrians than Palestinians (22 percent compared to 21.7 percent), with those married to other Arabs or foreigners forming the majority (56.3 percent). “The Palestinians or the Syrians are not from one [religious] denomination, just like the Lebanese,” the study said. Looking at national figures shows that only two percent of all Lebanese women are married to Palestinians." (thanks Sami)

This should be a national emergency in Lebanon

"Abused, humiliated and deprived of the most basic rights, foreign maids in Lebanon are starting to fight back against their employers in court and, in rare cases, they are winning. Nanda, from Sri Lanka is one of the few to break the silence. The 22-year-old arrived in Beirut in 2009 to work as a housekeeper, hoping to help support her eight-year-old daughter and soldier husband back home with her meager monthly salary of 180 dollars (127 euros). Instead she found herself trapped in an abusive household with no way out. Nanda's employer confiscated her passport and forced her to work seven days a week, although her contract stipulated eight-hour workdays and a recent decree adopted by the Lebanese government that calls for domestic workers to be given one day off a week. "I worked from 5:30 in the morning until midnight, non-stop and without pay," she recalled. "And what's worse is I was never allowed to call my family." Nanda was particularly shocked when her employer's six- and 12-year old children took to beating her when she did not cater to their whims. "I did not understand Arabic and now I know I was often being treated as a 'sharmouta'," the Arabic word for whore, Nanda said, fighting back tears. "For my first two months in Lebanon, my boss gave me one slice of bread a day to eat because she said I was too fat, and sometimes leftovers. I was always hungry," she told AFP, sitting in a shelter at Caritas Lebanon, a charity group that offers refuge to victims of domestic abuse. But today, Nanda has joined a growing number of foreign workers who are filing lawsuits against their employers in a bid to improve their lot."


If you compare Syrian dubbing of foreign TV serials to Lebanese dubbing of foreign TV serials you can only reach this conclusion: the Syrian people are so much more likable and adorable and charming.

It is all for you, Jamal Mubarak: you will be blessed by Israel/US

"Food aid from the United Arab Emirates entered Israel en route to Gaza on Thursday morning, including 500 tons of flour and 200 tons of sugar."


Who am I to disagree with George Habash at whose feet I learned about Palestine. But the notion that a shower a day is the same as a shower a month is rather not true. (And the man in real life was very clean).

Why Israel's years are numbered

"Danish Bank (Danske Bank), the biggest financial group in Denmark, has excluded Elbit Systems, Magal and Africa Israel from its investment portfolio because of their involvement in providing equipment for the Wall and in settlement construction. The Danish Bank is normally not quick to divest, and its list of excluded companies has now risen to only 24 companies around the globe."

Meet the military genius of the 20th century

"Nearly three months of fighting between Saudi Arabian troops and Shiite Muslim rebels along the Yemen border has ended, the Saudi government announced Wednesday, declaring victory two days after the rebels offered a cease-fire." The victory really is a tribute to the military genius of the man above, Prince Khalid Bin Sultan. I often read in his mouthpiece, Al-Hayat, that he is sought after by military colleges around the world to give lectures on military strategy. I mean, sure a band of Hawthi rebels humiliated his US supplied, trained army, and sure he lost more than a 100 of his men, but look how he salutes his soldiers. (Thanks Dina)

Israel's dirty feet

"According to the new American report, due to his standing in Angola Leviev came to know the Chinese companies and began to form business ties with them. These ties produced several huge deals involving the prestigious Manhattan real estate owned by Leviev and the companies owned by Africa Israel and Memorand. China Sonangol purchased the JP Morgan building on 23rd Street opposite the New York Stock Exchange for $150 million; for another $150 million it purchased 49 percent of the Met Life clock tower apartment building on Madison Avenue; and for about $400 million (including the purchase of the building's debts) acquired the old New York Times building, the jewel in the crown of Leviev's real estate empire."

Mere $40 billion

The Yemeni prime minister may have arrived at a magical solution to the problems in his country. He tells Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his kids) that the solution to Yemen's problems requires a mere $40 billion. Kid you not. He asked for a milk shake and fries with that.

Deeply involved? Really? We had no idea.

"U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials."

militarization of aid

"Leading aid agencies working in the region say the "militarisation of aid" is putting ordinary Afghans on the frontline because insurgents will target any reconstruction work associated with armed forces." (thanks Olivia)

Prince Al-Walid wants to help the Lebanese Army

Now Prince Al-Walid (certainly with the approval of his boss, Rupert Murdoch) wants to help the Lebanese Army. He will supply the army with anything that does not harm or pose a threat to Israel. (thanks Zainab)

Al-Hayat newsroom: what Khalid Bin Sultan can do for you

I spoke to a former writer/editor of Al-Hayat (the mouthpiece of Prince Khalid Bin Sultan--the most brilliant mind since Haniba`l). He was explaining to me the forms of censorship in the paper. He said that there are five different layers of censorship. The last layer, is performed by a religious Egyptian fellow, who reads the entire paper and makes sure that every word conforms to the doctrine of Wahhabi Islam, or else. He said that the culture of the paper is so polluted, that the layer of Lebanese right-wing editors who implement Saudi wishes sometimes goes beyond what is expected because they are so scared of the Saudi censors. Some people get dismissed without knowing why and how. So to be careful, the Lebanese editors go beyond the call of propaganda duty, and it shows. He said that the newsroom is always filled with awe about Jihad Al-Khazin: they all talk how "Prince Khalid bin Sultan personally purchased a house for him in Kensington. That could be me." This is the culture of an Arabic newsroom. Get me the puke bucket, please. The sick bag would do, but I need three of them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two Tanslations of George Habash's letter to his wife

First, Saja kindly translated this letter from George Habash to his wife:
" A letter from George Habash to his wife, which he sent from Jarash Heights in Jordan, January 1971
Dearest Umm Maysa[1],
My greetings, yearning and love.
I’ve received your letter. I’d sent you, my dear, a first letter with Widad. I believe you’ve received that. This is the second letter. I’ve been here for only two weeks.
I’ll send you a letter every week as we’d agreed. As you know, I’m very disciplined and obedient in my relationship with you.
Hilda, my longing for you is burning me. Life in the mountains is great. Every iota of my being is dedicated to work and the struggle’s unity. I think about nothing private. Nothing here, except the struggle, has any value. Chicken is the same as dry bread. The palace is the same as the tent. The most beautiful Hamra Street garments are the same as khakis. Bathing once a day is the same as once a month. I swear to you, Hilda, I mean this. I’ve been liberated from everything except for one thing I cannot and will not be free of, and perhaps I do not desire to be liberated, which is you my dear. You’re with me every day. You’re with me every hour. I think about you, your loneliness, your worries, your responsibilities … I think about your hair, your smile, everything about you. I think about your beautiful clothes, your taste, your concern, your kindness, your love, your attachment to me and mine to you, everything about you.
This is the only bond that restrains me now. Truly a painful bond, Hilda. But I love it and want it and almost feel like I surrender to it.
How are you doing my dear? How is Lebanon? I was deeply moved the night you told me Lama thinks about me. I’ve spent many nights thinking about you and Maysa and Lama. I want the girls to love me, Hilda. Please. I have nothing for myself in this world except you and the girls and the few guys who live with me.
When are you joining me in the mountain?? As a revolutionary, not as a visitor of course. You always ask when we’re going to meet. To be honest, I can’t tell you when. I only want you to know, and I’m being serious, that I think about that more than you do.
Thank you and until we meet,

[1] Umm Maysa means literally Maysa’s mother, a respectful way of addressing someone in Arab culture.

Secondly, Sarah kindly translated the letter:

"A letter from George Habash to his wife, sent from the heights of Jarash in Jordan, January 1971

Dearest Um Maysa’,

Greetings, my burning longing and love,

I received your letter. I have, my dear love, sent you a first letter with Widad. I think it has reached you. This is the second letter. I have been here for two weeks only; a letter per week according to the agreement. As you know, I am very disciplined and obedient in my relationship with you.

Hilda, longing is eating me away. The life of the mountain is great; everything in me is focused on work and on the battle. I do not think of anything in particular. Everything loses its meaning here except for the issue of the battle. Chicken and bread are the same. The castle and the tent are the same. The most beautiful shirts of al-Hamra Street and the Kaki uniform are the same. A daily shower and a monthly shower are the same. I swear, by your life, that I mean what I am saying. I have been freed of everything, except for one thing, that I could not be freed from, and I will not be able to be free from, and perhaps I do not want to be free from and that is you, my sweetheart.

Every day, you are with me. Every hour, you are with you. I think about you and your loneliness, your concerns and your responsibilities...I think about your hair and your smile and everything about you. I think about your beautiful outfit, your taste, your care, your kindness, your love, your attachment to me, and my attachment to you, (I think) about everything about you,

This is the only chain that shackles me now. It is a painful chain indeed, Hilda, but I love it and I want it and I am almost surrendered to it.

How are you sweathert? How are the girls? You sentence about Lama and how she thinks about me made me very emotional that night. I walked long thinking about you, Maysa' and Lama. I want the girls to love me, Hilda. Please, I do not have anything special for me in this life, apart from you, the girls and some guys who live with me.

When will you join (come to) the mountain? As a revolutionary not as a visitor of course?

You are always asking about our meeting. To be honest with you, right now, I cannot tell you when. I only want you to know, really Hilda, that I think about this more than you do.

Thank you and goodbye (until we meet),"

Ethiopian plane

Typical. It seems that the Ethiopian passengers had their seat belts on, while the Lebanese passengers did not.

On the 2nd anniversary of his death

George Habash's letter to his wife in 1971. Can you imagine the lousy Yasser `Arafat capable of writing a letter like this one?

PS I want a volunteer to translate this into English. It is worth it. Our readers would appreciate it.

Book reviews

I know that you are paying me (NOT) big bucks to maintain this site, o readers, enemies, and jerks but my jet lag and grumpy mood has prevented me from writing about books I have been reading. In breif. Al-Hakam An-Nu`aymi's book on the movement of Wadi` Haddad is a failure. It does not add to what we already know and it is based on already published materials. I prefer the account of Adnan Badr: which is a personal/witness account. Somebody in Beirut mysteriously sent me a booklet by Habib Ash-Shartuni: it was undergroundly published and has no place of publication or publisher. Of course, I carefully read and studied every word. If you know about Lebanese history, you would know who Ash-Shartuni is. I find it very curious that he refers to Solange Gemayyel as Solange Tutunji. I did not understand why. Thirdly, I am writing a review of Yitzhak Reiter's National Minority, Regional Majorty: Palestinian Arabs versus Jews in Israel (Syracuse University Press) for Choice. Th author has an original approach to the subject that has been studied before: he places the plight of Arabs in Israel in the regional context of the Arab-Israel conflict. Why does he do that? In order to rationalize and justify Israeli decades of persecution, discrimination, and brutal oppression. Back to the jet lag.

The US is in charge: exclusive

Lebanese military sources report that the US has now taken over the plane search area off Beirut and the Lebanese navy is not allowed to enter the search zone.

List of Names of Victims of ET 409 Crash

List of Names of Victims of ET 409 Crash (thanks Beniam)

Expression in Jordan

You may not curse Mubarak or praise Saddam in Jordan. And you are supposed to forget that Saddam was closest to Husayn, and that Uday (or Uuuuuday in American pronunciation) Saddam Husayn was best buddy with King PlayStation. (thanks Dina)

Yes, it is an Arab contribution to world civilization now

""Shoe throwing is a strong insult in Arab culture, and has become a popular sign of protest around the world."" (thanks Jeff)

The state with the short shelf-life

"According to a testimony given to B'Tselem by Ahmad Abu ‘Alia, a 21-year-old resident of al-Mughayir and a student at a-Najah University, on Wednesday, 25 November 2009, while he was waiting near the Za’tara checkpoint for a transportation to the university, soldiers came over to him and requested his identity card. After checking it, one of the soldiers took his school books and papers and threw them to the ground. The soldiers then pushed him hard, knocking him to the ground, cuffed his hands behind his back, and blindfolded him with a piece of cloth." (thanks Olivia)

Lebanese immigration

Comrade Fawwaz on the political economy of Lebanese immigration. (thanks Mirvat)

Another Obama war

"Yet though the offensive against al-Qaeda shows a new determination, it also carries risks. America has admitted to providing only intelligence and logistical support for the bombing raids. But local witnesses say they have also sighted American drone aircraft or cruise missiles. As in Pakistan, reports of foreign interference anger many locals, particularly since women and children were among the victims of the Abyan raid."

What students in journalism schools should read

Politics aside, this foreign dispatch about Waziristan in the Economist, the best magazine there is, should be used in journalism schools as example of outstanding foreign dispatches.

Male and Female employment rates

Swedish work ethic?

thanks you for your interest

" “Thank you for your interest in our student association. However we would like to inform you that we have no interest in answering your inquiry.”"

road accidents

"In 2009 the political climate in Kyrgyzstan deteriorated drastically. Not just journalists, but also politicians and commentators critical of the president’s family have been attacked by unknown assailants. In March the bodies of the former chief of Mr Bakiyev’s bureaucratic machine, Medetbek Sadyrkulov, and two other men were found in a burned-out vehicle in a mountain gorge. They were driving home from Almaty. The authorities said it was a road accident."

colonial apologist

"When he famously declared that “I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice,” he was denounced as a colonial apologist."

political pressures

"Certain areas of study, such as climate change, stem-cell research and work on the Middle East, are particularly vulnerable to political pressure. Professor Cole tells how two respected scholars, Joseph Massad at Columbia and Nadia Abu El-Haj at Barnard College, were harassed by the Jewish lobby—and asks what would have happened had American universities given in to rampant institutional anti-Semitism and “resisted hiring the Jewish scientists and scholars from Nazi Germany”?"

Heaven and hell and Zionism

"“If Iran gets nuclear weapons, the Middle East will look like hell,” says one senior Israeli official. “I cannot imagine that we can live with a nuclear Iran.”" And does the Middle East look like heaven with Israel possessing nuclear weapons? And you imagine that we can live with a nuclear Israel? Hell, you imagine we can live with Israel per se?

You got that one right, you apartheider

"Israelis see a global campaign of “delegitimisation” akin to efforts to isolate white-ruled South Africa. “I’m sure the Afrikaners felt like we feel now,” says Mr Raz."

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

Just don't forgive, and don't forget. And when the time of liberation comes, restrain yourselves.

Blame the black man

A lousy Lebanese demagogic politician claims without evidence that two MEA pilots refused to fly while the Ethiopian pilot (he did not call him `Abd (slave) to be fair, as is customary in that potato homeland) insisting on flying. As if the decision to fly belongs to the pilot and not to airport control authority. (thanks Ziad)

PS Amer tells me that the decision belongs to the pilot, but what does Amer know?

Lebanese racism against Ethiopians

Houssam sent me this (I cite with his permission): "In reference to the subject “ Lebanese Racism” ; I work in Tanzania , and I always take this plane , from and to Lebanon. When boarding the plane , the Ethiopian workers are called upon , shouted and searched like inmates , being boarded and transferred to prison ( I kid you not). Their boarding passes are always booked in the rear side of the plane, while the Lebanese and other nationalities share the front side of the plane, usually two to three seat lanes ( if available), separate both parties. And this is on an “Ethiopian” plane. I recall one time , a security agent making fun from one Ethiopian female, she had a big picture of her husband and family , and she was so happy going back home. The security guy ( immigration aw chi); was making fun how her husband was looking old in the pic, and she should give him her number , to see her when she’s back in Lebanon. “Sexual harassment within airport premises “. Lebanese treat Ethiopian hosts on board of the plane as bad as they treat their maids at home. I really admire those Ethiopian workers and hosts for tolerating this discrimination and treatment. I wonder how would they be treated if the plane was an MEA plane. "

Ethiopian victims in Lebanon

Here is a report on the mistreatment of Ethiopian victims.

UC Davis Law School

I did not tell you about my talk at UC, Davis law school. I don't know whether it was because I just freshly came from Lebanon where I spoke to an Arab audience who share my passion on Palestine, but I was more intense than usual, and even more angry than usual. I felt that the tension in the room was very high. By the end of my talk I really felt that most members of the audience had a strong urge to throw staplers and sharp metal objects at me.

Ethan Bronner

One wonders. When NYT's Ethan Bronner now meets his son who serves in the Israeli occupation army, does he ask him: so son. How many Palestinians have you shot today?

54 House members write to Obama on Gaza (not that Obama cares)

54 members of Congress write to Obama on Gaza.

Letter to an Ethiopian

Comrade Ibrahim Amin writes a letter to an Ethiopian (I disagree with his desire to hug Sa`d Hariri)


I was not pleased with the coverage of the plane crash in Al-Akhbar the day after the disaster. The second day coverage is much better and has accounts of the Ethiopian victims and their relatives.

Racicst coverage of the Ethiopian plane crash

Comrade Khalid notes the racism of the coverage of the plane crash.

Lebanese Racism: you can't hide it.

"DNA databases that will be used to identify mangled corpses are only being compiled from Lebanese blood samples. No Ethiopian has been asked to participate, even if relatives were on board.A normally well-respected broadcaster conducted a live piece to camera outside a hospital with their Beirut correspondent on Monday night. An Ethiopian, wracked with grief, unwittingly wondered into shot only to be literally hauled out of view by the Lebanese crew. Had she been Lebanese, it is unthinkable she would have been treated like this. Much has been written on the plight of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. The relatives of one Ethiopian victim said that their daughter was on the way home to Addis Ababa for good after years of being beaten by employers. To witness the neglect of friends and relatives left behind in Lebanon will offer Ethiopian families no comfort." (thanks Marilyn)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mubarak courts

Have you ever seen an Egyptian court in action? I have. Today, I watched scenes from the trial of the Hizbullah cell in Egypt. Egyptian court proceedings are very much like TV parodies of court proceedings. They are rather unreal. And the government-picked prosecutors are like street thugs. And they speak like Mafia characters in a Scorcese film.

The New York Times' sinister language

Why did the New York Times find it necessary to insert this sentence at the end of this article: "He has been an outspoken critic of American policy in the Middle East." Is the implication here that those who criticize US foreign policy in the Middle East tend to be sexual predators?

The Israeli propaganda hospital is closed

"Israeli field hospital in Haiti closed" after saving Haiti. (thanks Electronic Ali)

History of Haiti

"In the 18th century, Haiti was France’s imperial jewel, the Pearl of the Caribbean, the largest sugar exporter in the world. Even by colonial standards, the treatment of slaves working the Haitian plantations was truly vile. They died so fast that, at times, France was importing 50,000 slaves a year to keep up the numbers and the profits...France did not forgive the impertinence and loss of earnings: 800 destroyed sugar plantations, 3,000 lost coffee estates. A brutal trade blockade was imposed. Former plantation owners demanded that Haiti be invaded, its population enslaved once more. Instead, the French State opted to bleed the new black republic white. In 1825, in return for recognising Haitian independence, France demanded indemnity on a staggering scale: 150 million gold francs, five times the country’s annual export revenue. The Royal Ordinance was backed up by 12 French warships with 150 cannon.The terms were non-negotiable. The fledgeling nation acceded, since it had little choice. Haiti must pay for its freedom, and pay it did, through the nose, for the next 122 years...Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, is calling for a “reconstruction and development” conference. “It is a chance to get Haiti once and for all out of the curse it seems to have been stuck with for such a long time,” President Sarkozy said.This seems uncomfortably close to Mr Robertson’s insulting suggestion that Haitian slaves made a “pact with the Devil” to free themselves from Napoleon’s grip. The original curse was economic, not religious, and laid on Haiti by imperial France." (thanks Nu`man)

Migrant domestic workers in the UK

"Less than a week after arriving in the UK from Africa, Rose realised that she had made a terrible mistake. First, her passport was taken from her at the airport by her new employers. Then the promises that her employers had made began to disappear. Insults turned into slaps. One day she missed a call from her boss. “She beat me from upstairs to downstairs, dragging me. I was just crying and crying,” she says. “The more I cry, the more she beat me. She said, ‘Keep quiet, keep quiet. In this country you are not allowed to cry. The police will come’.”" (thanks Sultan)

The Palestinian upper bourgeoisie

This is a sinister story of the Palestinian upper bourgeoisie. Their story has to be told: how people like Hasib Sabbagh, Basil `Aql, Munib Masri, Shuman, Sa`id Khuri among others were instrumental in propping up the leadership of Yasir `Arafat when his role was in dispute within the leadership of Fath in the late 1960s. They also steered the Fath movement in the direction of Saudi Arabia, and pushed Arafat to do his best to appease every US administration. They also were the ones who played a mediating role between Fath and the Phalanges during the civil war, when a boycott of the Phalanges was ostensibly observed by the Lebanese National Movement and the PLO. (There were individual Palestinian capitalists who invested in the left but I won't name them here because it may be bad for their businesses). "Mr. Sabbagh was also a member of the Palestine National Council and a donor to the Carter Center, founded in 1982 by former President Jimmy Carter." Spending money on the Carter Center? For what? To reward him for Camp David?

Many Africans say openly how much they hate the Lebanese. I wonder why.

"The Lebanese have discovered that the best way of surviving, where the regime you're doing business with could be overthrown tomorrow, is to court the powerful - whoever they are. And an aspiring West African "big man" knows he has to do business with the Lebanese if he has any hope of getting rich. Many Africans say openly how much they hate the Lebanese in their respective countries." (thanks Nabeel)

Ethan Bronner will write a 40-part series on this

"A UN report on Israel's 22-day offensive against Hamas-controlled Gaza is anti-Semitic, an Israeli government minister said, as the Jewish state prepares to formally respond to its allegations of war crimes." (thanks Sarah)

Polygamists that you like and support

"The announcement of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif's second marriage was not taken lightly by many young Egyptians, especially those in their mid-twenties, whose financial burdens are denying them from fulfilling their dream of tying the knot." (thanks Dina)

PS My error. His first wife had died. Blame the jet lag.

Watch. He will be rebuked.

"A senior American diplomat recently told representatives of the Israeli Defense and Foreign ministries, "I don't want your security officers to check our cars. What if there are settlers among them? I will not have my people end up like (slain Prime Minister Yitzhak) Rabin." (thanks Olivia)

Blame the Black Man

Look at this lousy headline from An-Nahar: "Until Black Box is Found, Ethiopian Pilot Blamed for Ignoring Control Tower Warning!" And until Lebanon is dissolved, An-Nahar and other racist publications shall be blamed for taking the country to ruin. (thanks Marc)

Nannies and servants in Beirut

"In Lebanon, nannies and domestic servants take care of households while their owners listen to Black artists who speak of their exclusion from American society." You are generalizing about class here. Not all Lebanese of course. Families in `Akkar, South, and Biqa` don't all have nannies and servants. (thanks Daniel)

A sure sign that An-Nahar's days are numbered

Of course An-Nahar (the racist, right-wing Christian sectarian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people), white supremacist newspaper--some Lebanese think they are white) is now considered a joke in Lebanon. The articles of its publisher, Nayla Twayni, provide fodder for humor in drunken parties. As a sign of how this paper is now in its last stretch of life, it has now resorted to providing translation of a long article of Michael Totten. Michael Totten, for potato's sake. "Ibn Rushd" sent me the link with this subject title: "New Talented Progressive Witty Writer at An Nahar." Although I am willing to bet my farm that this one was not done as a favor. You know what I mean?

Lebanese Navy divers

I heard on one of the Lebanese TV stations that the Lebanese Navy divers were dispatched to the location of the crash in the sea but that the divers refused to dive. They said that they would only diver when the weather improves. I kid you not. It is estimated that the divers will begin their diving around mid-March.

The Ethiopian plane

I have many comments about the Ethiopian plane crash off Beirut and the media coverage but they can't fit here. That requires a whole Arabic article.

Ethan Bronner: he offers his pen AND son to the Israeli army

So the story is out now. Here are the details. I have received various messages about this matter, but they were general. Until a few days ago when I received a very detailed message (from Israel?) about the son of Ethan Bronner joining the Israeli army. The message had phone numbers and details that made it more reliable. I passed it on to comrade Electronic Ali, knowing that he would obtain verification. Here are the results. I wish to thank the anonymous person who sent me the tip in the first place. He/she does not want to be identified. (He addressed me as "Dear Mr. Angry"). Now the New York Times will assert daily that Bronner will adhere to the highest standards journalism that are practiced in the paper--standards that are best exemplified by the career of Judith Miller among many others. But to understand the situation, pose this question to the Foreign Editor of the Times: if the son of Taghreed El-Khodari (and I don't know if she has a son, but go along with the apt analogy) were to join the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, would she still be permitted to write for the paper? I can now see the propaganda articles by Ethan Bronner beginning with a refrain: my son is a hero among heroes. Oh, let me tell you about the killing adventures of the Israeli occupation army....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bohsali shop

I have been a loyal customer of Amal Bohsali sweet shop (not sweatshop) in Beirut since the civil war. I always liked its karabij--one of my favorite sweets. But in this trip, the old Bohsali (different from the Amal Bohsali chain) re-opened for the first time since 1975 and in the same Riyad Solh* square. I now consider it my favorite, and the Karabij are superior to those of Lebanon. They will soon open an on-line delivery service.

* If you have read the private papers and letters of Chaim Wiezmann as I unfortunately have, you will see that the editor, on the basis on Zionist archives, states in footnotes that Riyad Solh was on the payroll of the Zionists. What a nation.

70 laps in Lebanese pool

Today I timed it. 70 laps in a Lebanese "olympic" swimming pool equals 60 laps in an American olympic swimming pool. Why do they rig things in Lebanon?

Nationalizing AUB

Jean Dayah writing in SSNP's Al-Bina`, does not like my criticisms of AUB (see p. 8).

Except those crimes committed by Americans of course

""The United States is determined to hold to account anyone who commits crimes against Iraqi people," Mr Biden added." (thanks Nasser)

They want white heroes

"US actor Danny Glover, who plans an epic next year on Haitian independence hero Toussaint-Louverture, said he slaved to raise funds for the movie because financiers complained there were no white heroes." (thanks Hicham)

Conspiracy theories

As a believer in conspiracies and in conspiracy theories (when warranted and proven), I feel obligated to rebut kooky conspiracy theories. There is a conspiracy theory being peddled in the Arab world (and attributed to Chavez media in Venezuela) to the effect that the US military caused the earthquake in Haiti. This is an official kooky and dumb conspiracy theory. OK? Another conspiracy theory attributes my protracted jet lag to a Zionist plot. That one I believe.

Tawfiq's recipe of ginger beverage

Tawfiq who runs the cafeteria at Al-Akhbar's offices in Beirut, heard that my beverage drink did not work. He sent me the detailed recipe:
" أشكرك على ذكرك لي في المدونة الخاصة بك، واتمني ان أراك مرة أخرى
كي نشرب الزنجبيل معا و اما طريقة تحضير الزنجبيل فهي كالتالي:

-يبرش الزنجبيل الاخضر برشا ناعماً
-يغلى ابريق من الماء قبل ان نضع الزنجبيل فيه
-(لكل ليتر واحد يجب ان نضع 50 غرام من الزنجبيل المبروش)
-نضع الزنجبيل المبروش في الماء المغلي لمدة نصف ساعة
-ثم يصفى ويغلى من جديد
-ثم يضاف ملعقة صغيرة من العسل لكل كوب.
ومن ثم صحتين!

جريدة الاخبار"
Now I wonder what green ginger is?

A non-sectarian profession

""Most of my clients are Lebanese but I also have many English speaking clients," he says. "I dance for Christians, Muslims, Druze and women of all ages from 18 into their 60s."" (thanks Olivia)

The Economist

As you know, I proved scientifically that the Economist is the best magazine there is. I read something in the Economist, and then I read the same story in the New York Times a week or more later. Some originality of coverage, please.

UAE miracles

"While Sheikh Issa went free, the 23-year-old British woman was barred from leaving the country while awaiting trial. On New Year’s Day she told police she had been raped the previous evening by a waiter at a five-star hotel. Remarkably, the charges against her are not connected to that claim. Rather, the police arrested her after she revealed during questioning that she had drunk alcohol and had sex with her fiancé, with whom she was on holiday."

Liberation and bribery

"A survey conducted by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime found that half of the 7,600 Afghans interviewed had paid a bribe in the previous year (see chart), handing over on average $160 each time, about a third of average annual GDP per head. This extrapolates to about $2.5 billion worth of baksheesh nationally every year: roughly as large as Afghanistan’s opium economy, and a quarter of licit economic output. For most Afghans, corruption outranks insecurity and unemployment as the country’s greatest challenge. Corruption corrodes Mr Karzai’s legitimacy; if he does not curb it, other problems may prove insoluble."

This passes as intellectual analysis of foreign policy in the US press

Look at this guy. Forget about politics and about my views of this most nimble of minds, but look at the quality of foreign (and economic) analysis: "You want more good jobs, spawn more Steve Jobs. Obama should have focused on that from Day 1. He must focus on that for Year 2." I mean, William Safire and Flora Lewis and Anthony Lewis did not write like this.

The crash of the Ethiopian plane off Beirut

Just last night, I was reading the latest issue of the Economist (and I encountered two or three uses of the word "reckon"). And I encountered this sentence: "It runs one of Africa’s biggest airlines." And I remember pausing after reading it and thinking: would I trust Ethiopian airline? And why do I seem (as somebody with terrible flight anxieties and fears) to trust the airlines of advanced rich countries? I know it is a matter of cash and spare parts and training, but I really get nervous in the airlines of developing countries. On my flight back, I have no trust of Lebanese Airlines and yet I am more trusting of American airlines European airlines. This crash today is not going to assuage (I think it is the first time I use this word on this blog, but it is a good GRE word) my fears. And regarding the crash: I thought. Were the Ethiopian citizens on board ever abused by their Lebanese employers? Probably yes.

If she was the wife of an Arab politician, it would be front page story in the US

"Three days earlier Yediot Ahronot, the country’s biggest-circulation daily newspaper, split its front page, half with a report on Haiti, half on a lawsuit filed against Mrs Netanyahu by a former housekeeper of her weekend home for allegedly making her life a misery. “She demanded that I address her as Mrs Sara Netanyahu,” the plaintiff’s suit asserted. “If I called her Sara she would scream at me…Whenever I saw her I had to tell her how clever and pretty she was…She phoned me at home at two in the morning to complain about a cushion cover…She insisted I bring four sets of work-clothes: for doing the laundry, for cleaning the loos, for cleaning other rooms and for working in the kitchen.”

“Every word rings true,” said a secretary who worked for Mrs Netanyahu during her husband’s first term as prime minister (1996-99). “She would shout at me six times a day, at the press secretary three times, and at Bibi once…I’m still traumatised.”"

Ethan Bronner's propaganda services

It has reached new lows: the propaganda services of the Ethan Bronner on behalf of Israel and its war crimes. You need to do a search: the New York Times devoted more space to Israeli and Zionist criticisms of the Goldstone report than to the report itself. And now, every two weeks, Ethan Bronner interviews Israeli war criminals who tell him that the Goldstone report was inaccurate. Here is a very long article from yesterday's NYT about how Israel plans to respond to the Goldstone report. I mean, Bronner could have waited for the Israeli bogus report to be issued, but he could not wait. He wanted to cite Israeli responses before they even have official responses. Of course, once the Israeli whitewash report is issued, Bronner will have yet another article about it.

Obama: the neo-cons' president

"But obituaries can be premature. At the moment, in fact, the neocons seem resurrected. One of their own, Frederick Kagan of AEI (Robert's younger brother), helped turn around the war in Iraq by devising and pushing for the surge there. More recent-ly, President Obama—whose foreign--policy pronouncements (nuanced, multi-lateral, interdependent) and style (low-key, self-critical, conciliatory, collegial) were a repudiation of neoconservative assertiveness—has swung their way, or so they believe. First, he's sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, nearly as many as leading neocons had sought. Then came his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which, with its acknowledgment of the need for force, its nod to dissidents in Iran and elsewhere, and its talk about good and evil, was surprisingly congenial." (thanks Laleh)