Friday, March 31, 2006

Right-wing, sectarian Christian Lebanonese newspaper, An-Nahar is very pleased. Here, it reports that a French visiting delegation (and you know about the superiority of the "Western Mind") concludes that "the country is civilized." (Angry Arab, upon visiting An-Nahar, finds it uncivilized, especially in its racist campaigns against Syrians and Palestinians in Lebanon).
This is unprecedented: An-Nahar (the right-wing sectarian Christian Lebanonese newspaper which maintains its commerical supremacy in the Lebanese market by a variety of illegal manipulation (control of the distribution and advertising companies) prints a translation of a full text of a speech that US ambassador made last week. It is not printed as an ad mind you. I always wondered how An-Nahar paid for that expensive new building in downtown Beirut.
Do you notice that when the Turkish government engages in killing Kurds, the ostensible American champions of Kurdish rights, like Hitchens among others, don't say a word? And do you notice that this round of Turkish killing of Kurds is not getting any American press attention?
For US media, some human beings are more expensive than others: "March was the least deadly month in more than two years for U.S. troops in Iraq, but a surge in killings of Iraqi troops and civilians suggests that the overall death rate in the conflict is growing, according to military data."
"Thirty-five years after the US sprayed the jungles of Vietnam with toxic defoliant, thousands of babies are still being born with horrific defects. But unlike the American veterans, no one in the war-ravaged country has received any compensation."
Bush's promotion of "democracy" continues: "The Pentagon is preparing to set off a record-breaking bang, detonating 635 tonnes of high explosives and sending a mushroom cloud into the sky over the Nevada desert. The blast, on June 2, codenamed Divine Strake, is likely to be the biggest controlled conventional explosion in military history, experts said, and is designed to test the impact of bunker-busting bombs aimed at underground targets."

This only proves my theory: that civil war looms over a country when Bush uses it for his "democracy" experiment: "A commander of a militant Palestinian group accused of firing missiles into Israel was killed yesterday in an explosion which led to gun battles that killed at least two people."
I like Sultan AbuAl`Aynayn, the head PLO official in Lebanon. I am having lunch with him in the Rashidiyyah Palestinian refugee camp in June. But he went too far the other day when he called Rafiq Hariri the "messanger of the resistance." And then he praised the Sanyurah government for resolving the legal problem that he was facing (unfairly). The only reason that the Sanyurah government resolved the matter is because they want to use Fath Movement against the other Palestinian groups in Lebanon.
I was displeased when the Lebanese Communist Party started two weeks ago "a dialogue" with Jumblat's sectarian party. Yesterday, when Jumblat attacked the party, the party resorted to its belief in the official communication lines between the two parties. Jumblat asserted that there is no communication with the Lebanese Communist Party. The Communist Party deserved that insult.
Condoleezza Rice admitted that the US made thousands of mistakes in Iraq. Well, maybe she can start by listing them, one by one, and apolgizing for them, one by one.

Not only for ideological reasons, but I distrust and oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, in all of its formations and expressions and organizations. These groups served as mere tools of the US/Saudi alliance throughout the Cold War, and promoted the most reactionary agenda there is, and were used to undermine the Left. Look at the Jama`ah Islamiyyah in Lebanon: they don't even have principles. They served their Syrian patrons back when their brethren in Syria were being massacred, and now they (after being bought off) serve Hariri Inc. This is another reason, among many, that I so distrust Hamas. Muslim Brotherhood: is Religion for Hire. Can you name one good contribution of the Muslim Brotherhood? They even produced the likes of Bin Laden. Futhermore, look at the regimes that have been closest to the Muslim Brotherhood in their history: Anwar Sadat's, Saudi Arabia, Jordanian Monarchy, Moroccan Monarchy, and Israel. (In the picture above, Fadi tells me that As`ad Harmush of the Jama`ah Islamiyyah is seen negotiating with mini-Hariri to shine his shoes).
"Another soldier lay awake reading a book called "The Arab Mind."" (thanks Nir) (A friend who teaches at a Navy school tells me that the book is a required reading in the Navy).
Walid Jumblat (in his interview on LBC-TV's Kalam An-Nas) also slipped in two things: he told in a moment of cander how Sen. Joe Biden (when he had visited him in Mukhtarah) asked him to stop criticizing the US. Jumblat (who was meek under Syria and under the Israeli invasion of 1982 when he meekly hosted Shimon Peres) meekly agreed. Secondly, Jumblat's analysis of the Middle East is filled with Orientalist cliches: he keeps talking about "the Western Mind" and how the "Western Mind" would not accept the injustice in Palestine anymore. The Western Mind, o Jumblat, gave us Israel, clonization, Hiroshima, and the current "wars of liberation". But the Lebanonese Mind gave you Tabbulah. Bon Appetit.
Mr. Obscene Ba`thist is recalled back to Damascus. Syrian sites have been talking about the sudden recall of the director of Syrian Information Office in London. Apparently, frictions between him and the ambassador were responsible. But most agree that his performance vis a vis the head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood on Hiwar Maftuh on AlJazeera did not please the regime.
"A US soldier who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq says he was shocked by alleged atrocities committed by the American military." (thanks Tanweer)
"Harvard Expands Financial Aid Program" (This is a gimmick. It is not about giving aid to students with families of limited income. How many of those are admitted to begin with.)
"Expanding [on Arab lands] in Jerusalem" (The New York Times did not want to know that this was Arab lands, so I thought that I would remind them.)
"Certainly this has to be the only film from those reliable schlockmeisters Mario F. Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna — Mr. Kassar brought us the original "Basic Instinct," and together they had a hand in much of Sylvester Stallone's well-oiled oeuvre — to feature the word Lacanian." (And if you know how much Lebanonese media and culture, and even Lebanese media and culture, brag about this Kassar guy. He is talked about as if he is the next Fellini. He was featured, of course, on From Lebanon on LBC-TV)
For those who asked, this is a webcast of my talk at Rice University. (thanks Tony)
Paul Gauguin. Haystacks in Brittany. 1890. to Seattle to speak on Arabs in US movies at the Seattle Arab/Iranian Film Festival. (I may also talk about gender dynamics in Legally Blonde I and II).

Walid Jumblat was on LBC-TV. Could not believe that this man is considered “intelligent” and “intellectually sophisticated” by the standards of Lebanonese culture. He always brags that he subscribes to the Nation magazine and to NRB. Wow. Now, he also “finds” important documents on “the internet.” He now always mentions finding “documents” on the internet. He also thinks that he sounds quite profound when he mentions the internet. Only by Lebanonese standards would a war criminal, somebody who is responsible for the 2nd worst campaign of sectarian cleansing and mass expulsions (after the campaigns of the Lebanese Forces militia during the war), and who is responsible for the assassination of his critics during the war, and somebody who called all critics of the Syrian regime “traitors” over the 30 year period in which he was aligned with the Syrian regime, be considered a voice of democracy and "freedom." I watched him yesterday on Kalam An-Nas: and when he appears on that show, no call-ins are allowed, and the host asks him only Larry King-style soft ball questions that mostly pre-arranged. I also hate that in the superficial Lebanonese culture Jumblat is considered somebody who “understands” regional and international developments, and somebody who can predict future political developments (Hannah Arends used to say that politics is no more politics if we can predict). The intellectual limitations of Jumblat are such that he expresses himself always in the same words, and repeats them over and over again. But then again: my sources tell me that Hariri Inc, under the supervision of Saatchi and Saatchi, now produces talking points, that all the March 14th clowns are supposed to strictly adhere to. This explains why they all use the same words, just as Democratic and Republican operatives adhere to the RNC and DNC talking points. Jumblat yesterday made it impossible for Syrians, even those who fiercely oppose the Syrian regime, to accept him and his “movement.” He was quite unabashedly racist; at one point he stated that the Syrian problem with Lebanon is beyond the Syrian regime, and that it also applied to all Syrian governments since independence. At one point, he stated: “They [Syrians] have no civilization, no culture.” He then qualified that by adding: “except for the Sunni Syrian bourgeoisie.” (Jumblat’s current wife is from the Syrian bourgeoisie--Jumblat did not divorce his 2nd wife although Druzism prohibits polygamy.) There is no accountability so that somebody can ask the leader of the “socialist” and “progressive” party to explain this classism and racism in light of the “ideology” of this party—a mere sectarian/feudal tool for this man. It is ironic that this man calls for democracy while he does not exercises that in this silly party of his. Jumblat then talked about his trip to the US—a trip that required his escalation of his attacks on resistance-against-Israel in Lebanon. This petty man insisted that he wanted to meet with Rice (even for the 20 minutes in which she received him in) and he was told in no uncertain terms that he had to distance himself from his alliance with Hizbullah, and that he has to refrain from attacking Israeli occupation and American occupation—that is how it all started. He talked about some of his apologies here in the US; he did conceded that US “made some mistakes” in the past, but then added: “But there, they have dialectics. They engage you in dialogue, they don’t kill you.” How true. This explains the pacifist nature of successive US administrations. This also explains how and why the US government pursued pacifist policies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it also explains how the US drops tons of bombs and missiles infused with love, affection, and pacifism. Only Jumblat can explain US policies in the Middle East now. His references to Iran were borrowed from the playbook of Saddam Husayn: it is never Iran or Iranians anymore. It is only “Persia” and “Persians”—usages intended, as they were by Saddam, to reinforce nationalist and chauvinist tensions between Arabs and Iranians, and between Sunnis and Shi`ites. Jumblat’s leadership in his community and in Lebanese sectarian politics is merely due to his 1) inheritance of the leadership of a medieval dynasty; 2 his management of sectarian killings and mass expulsions during the War of the Mountain; 3) his “elimination” of his rival within the community, and within the party that he heads, which he inherited along with the leadership of the community. It is amazing that the Socialist International—an empty and silly outfit that sent a delegation to visit Hariri tomb—do I need to say more—takes this man seriously. But it is less amazing that the Socialist International, with its checkered past regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, likes Jumblat now more after he aligned himself with US/France/Israel. The history of this organization is quite clear regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict; just look at Michael Harrington’s role in defending Israeli wars when he represented the US, and lobbied for US role during the Cold War. Jumblat also attacked by name Joseph Samahah and Ibrahim Al-Amin several times. Hariri Inc owns ALL the newspapers in Lebanon (except Ad-Diyar which used to receive money from Hariri in the past), and they own most of the TV or have influence over them, but they are going crazy over one newspaper that will be launched to break Hariri monopoly in Lebanon. Jumblat said that Samahah, an avowed Marxist is “an ally of the Persian regime.” I would leave it to Joseph to respond to him, and will leave it to him to report on the contents of Jumblat’s phone calls to him in the past. This is a man (Jumblat) who still tells people that Maronites are better kept “taht as-Sirmayah” (under the shoe or under the sandal or slipper). And just as Israel was founded on the premise that Jews are superior to non-Jews, Lebanon was founded on the premise that Christians are superior to Muslims. And Jumblat, among other non-Christians in Lebanon, totally internalizes that. It explains why he said yesterday that Lebanon would not be Lebanon if Christians did not, presumably, contributed to his “civilization.” Was it not ironic that a Lebanese, of all places, would mock a country like Iran, which has a real (not imagined) long civilization and culture? It is interesting that when Jumblat talked about “the good face” of Iran, he would not name one poet or artist or thinker except `Umar Khayyam, and later had him confused with the former president of Iran. But he is an “inetelletual” by the standards of Lebanonese culture. Jumblat kept talking dismissively about the PFLP-GC. I never liked PFLP-GC, and they (and Ahmad Jibril in particular) served as a loyal tool of the Syrian regime. That is true: but this tool of Syria also saved his…neck, so many times, and fought his wars. And for that, I also blame PFLP-GC, and for that they deserve the kind of attacks on them from this former ally. Jumblat spoke about human rights violations of the Syrian regime, and yet conceded that he was aligned with them for 28 years. That requires not an “awakening of conscience” but resignation and withdrawal from political life. All those who aligned themselves and served as tool of the Syrian intelligence service in Lebanon should give full account of their services to the Lebanese people and then resign. But a country that does not ask war lords to stand trial, and reward them for their war crimes, is not going to ask for any accountability on any matter. It was most ironic to hear him address the Shi`ites in Lebanon, who genuinely detest him, and wanted to offer opinions about sectarian motives. To hear Jumblat speak against sectarian motives (always about another sect that is not his) is like listening to Bush speak about the virtues of pacifism.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Hypocritical Arab generosity on Darfur"
"In 1996, 18 percent of Egyptian women worked outside the home. By 2004, 31 percent did, according to a United Nations report."
For the love of humanity, don't pray for me...Argentina: "The largest study yet on the therapeutic power of prayer from strangers has found that it provides no benefit to the recovery of patients who have undergone cardiac bypass surgery. In an unexpected twist, patients who knew prayers were being said for them had more complications after surgery than those who did not know, researchers reported Thursday in the American Heart Journal."
"U.S. Reporter Released by Captors in Iraq" (Thousands of unnamed Iraqis are still held by US occupation in Iraq)
Tales of "liberation": "Mosul slips out of control as the bombers move in"
The double-dealings of `Arafat's successors: "A few days before the failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Jordan in 1997, King Hussein conveyed an offer from the Hamas leadership to reach an understanding on a cease-fire for 30 years. That offer, intended for then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed by a Mossad representative, reached Netanyahu only after the botched hit."
"Professor Walt's fellow Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz - criticised in the article as an "apologist" for Israel - denounced the authors as "liars" and "bigots" in the university newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and compared their arguments to neo-Nazi literature....Prof Mearsheimer said the storm of protest proved one of its arguments - that the strength of the pro-Israel lobby stifled debate on US foreign policy. "We argued in the piece that the lobby goes to great lengths to silence criticism of Israeli policy as well as the US-Israeli relationship, and that its most effective weapon is the charge of anti-semitism," Prof Mearsheimer told The Guardian. "Thus, we expected to be called anti-semites, even though both of us are philo-semites and strongly support the existence of Israel.""
Yesterday, Hummus was hitting the fan in all directions. Here, during a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Emile Lahhud rebuked Marwan Hamadi (seen standing). I was telling everybody as of late, given the daily clumsiness, blunders, and mishaps of the March 14th Movement: their best days are behind them. It is down hill for them from here on.
So apparently Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani received a hand-delivered letter from George W. Bush. He refused to open it, or have it translated it. Sistani always has the most weak responses to everything. He was weak in his opposition to Saddam, and he is weak in his opposition to US occupation. This is the man who told Shi`ites that they can sell products to US soldiers provided they tell them politely that they should leave Iraq. (My friend Salih does not like it at all when I say anything negative about Sistani.)
"The Hillel e-mail said third-year law student Fadi Kiblawi is considered a terrorist by Israel; has been convicted of crimes in the United States and Israel; and associates with Palestinian suicide bombers. Kiblawi, who first heard of the e-mail from The Hatchet late Wednesday afternoon, called the message's assertions "pure lies, libelous and extremely damaging." "I'm shaken up right now to be considered a terrorist, especially in a post-9/11 context," said Kiblawi, who is giving a speech on financial divestment from Israel at the Law School Thursday. He said Wednesday he would file a complaint with Student Judicial Services and consult a lawyer about what he termed defamatory statements." (thanks Fadi)
Many of you have read or heard about what happened during the meeting of the Council of Ministers. Where are those who spoke about the "unity" of the Lebanese people? Were are those who cheered the "Cedar" Revolution? Among the various insults exchanged, Lahhud addressed the Minister of Ping Pong, Ahmad Fatfat. Fatfat (the etymology is an Arabic verb, to crush into small pieces). So Lahhud told Fatfat, "Ana rah fatiftak." (I shall crush you into small pieces). Fatfat, I kid you not, immediately called the head of the UN committee that is investigating the Hariri assassination and told him that Lahhud wants to kill him just as he had killed Hariri.
"Beleaguered [Iraqi] Premier Warns U.S. to Stop Interfering in Iraq's Politics" (And [American] President Bush Warns Iran to Stop Interfering in Iraq's Politics)
"If I had not been deadened by the reaction before, I would be astounded to read President Bush's message to the interim Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, communicated through the American ambassador, that Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister. Well, too bad, Mr. Bush. That is what democracy is all about. And if you were not so stubborn in refusing to realize such matters, we might not be in this mess, which you created, fostered and refuse to take any responsibility for."
"In addition, professor and author Dr. As'ad Abukhalil (who blogs as The Angry Arab) will attend the festival and speak on the political relevance, historical accuracy and cultural impact of recent Arab-themed films, both from Hollywood and the independent film world. His lecture will take place 5 p.m. Saturday."
Paul Gauguin. Bonjour, Monsieur Gauguin. 1889.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The "Arabs and Terrorism" project by my dear friend Bassam Haddad and co.
For those who care, this is a taping of my talk at (Basmati) Rice University last week. (thanks to the people at KPFT in Houston, and the Arab Voices program)
The speaker of the Lebanese parliament said last week that chicken are in fact pleased with the Avian flu because more of them get killed when there is no flu.
The Christian Science Monitor printed this caption under this picture: "After a Hellfire missile hit this girl's home in Mosul, the US Army has been visiting her family frequently and helping with repairs." Is that not nice? I mean, would an Iraqi family mind a missile over their head if this will lead to regular visits by US troops? I mean, really?
"The US propaganda machine: Oh, what a lovely war: The Lincoln Group was tasked with presenting the US version of events in Iraq to counter adverse media coverage. Here we present examples of its work, and the reality behind its headlines."
" The violent death rate for northern Uganda is 146 deaths a week or 0.17 violent deaths per 10,000 people per day."
Every time I hear a new statement by a Hamas official, I realize that they are on the footsteps of `Arafat (that is not a compilment).
"After years on the defensive, the Pentagon — with help from NASA and the Energy Department — is taking a far tougher stand in challenging calls for environmental cleanups. It is using its formidable political leverage to demand greater proof that industrial substances cause cancer before ratcheting up costly cleanups at polluted bases."
"UN demands Iran stops uranium enrichment" (UN demands Israel continues uranium enrichment)
No to the Peace that Amos Oz Wants. This is the most famous Israeli poseur/charlatan, Amos Oz: "Instead of Israeli disengagement - bound to leave many issues open and bleeding - we can work with Egypt and Saudi Arabia for a lasting peace." Things have not changed. Back in the 1960s, Israeli government offered to deal with the Palestinians by not dealing with them (through dealing with Jordan). Now, this darling of the US left, offers to deal with the Palestinians by not dealing with them (through Egypt and Saudi Arabia) as if they speak for Palestinians. Notice that this darling of the US left is not bothered by dealing with Saudi Arabia--darling of the Israeli left, I guess. Any peace that Amos Oz wants is a peace that I categorically reject.
""England has not appreciated or acknowledged the work I have done," he said."" (I have not appreciated or acknowledged the work he has done).
"She had just begun her first job in a photographic shop in Munich’s bohemian quarter. One October day, Adolf Hitler walked into her life."
The well-informed Damascus-based correspondent of Al-Hayat, Ibrahim Humaydi, said that the Syrian military is hosting, for the first time since the arrival--what a lousy arrival and stay--of the Ba`th to power in Syria, visiting clerics. They address (government-sanctioned) religious issues and interpretations.
"The government of the United Arab Emirates should take immediate steps to end the abusive labor practices that have helped spark recent unrest by migrant workers in Dubai, Human Rights Watch said today." (Well, at least a report from HRW on the Middle East that does not mention its beloved right-wing (and pro-Lebanese Forces) Lebaonese lawyer, Muhammad Al-Mughrabi).
Arab leaders notice the Iranian occupation of the islands of Tumb As-Sughra, Tumb Al-Kubra, and Abu Musa more than they notice the US occupation of Iraq, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Golan, and Shib`a Farms and Kfar Shuba hills.
Secular cells on Lebanese campuses.
The Maronite Patriarch (one of my least favorite Lebanese) came back from Vatican. I am sure that he lobbied for the cannonization of yet more Lebanese "monks." Wait, you need 3 miracles for the process. And the Vatican is very scientific about authentication and verification of miracles. Well, 2 great Hummus dishes count as 2 miracles, and one excellent tabbulah plate is a third miracle. There you have it. The Patriarch said that the Pope asked repeatedly about Lebanon. Ya. He cant sleep before asking about mini-Hariri.
Lebaonese media are treating the solar eclipse as if it is a special gift from "God" to the Lebanese people. As in: "o, Lebanese people. Please enjoy the solar eclipse as a special gift from me to the Lebanese people. But cancel all classes, as we don't want Lebanese students to melt. Bye Lebanese people."
Correction. I criticized `Abdul-Bari `Atwan because on the two occasions when I saw him on Tuesday on Aljazeera criticize Arab governments for their support of US war on Iraq he left out Qatar from the list of Arab countries that supported the US. Apparently, in a reference on the same show (which I missed at that particular point) he did mention Qatar. Again, this error does not, DOES NOT, detract from my long track record of infallibility.
Did you see mini-Hariri on Aljazeera TV? I did. It was awkward how Ahmad Mansur spoke to him in classical Arabic and he answers with his weird dialect (a combination of Saudi dialect distorted by recent private tutoring in Beiruti dialect to prepare him for the elections last year when Beiruti families complained that they could not decipher his Saudi dialect). He did not say anything new or interesting. But mini-Hariri is more confident now. I bet they he is now allowed to sit in his father's chair. He more than once referred to Lebanon as "great Lebanon." Great? For what? I mean what is great about Lebanon aside from showing the world one of the most savage civil wars in the 20th century?
Lies and Fabrications of LBC-TV: Lebanonese Culture. Back to From Lebanon segment about "rich and famous" Lebanese on LBC-TV. They today featured former US Senator Spencer Abraham. They said that he was voted "the best and most famous" this or that throughout his political career. They bragged about his role in founding the Federalist Society without mentioning the role that this right-wing organization played in fighting against the rights of women, minorities, and immigrants. They said that Abraham was the youngest Senator ever (not true). They also said that he was nicknamed, due to his great political influence, the "Legendary Senator." I kid you not.
Rupert Murdoch was on AlJazeera TV last week. He did not say anything new. But he pledged his allegiance to "fair and balanced" journalism. He also denied being friends with Bush or with Blair, but admitted that he used to have (candle light?) dinners with Sharon.
I have a way to know whether the US government is in favor or opposed to a particular Arab summit. When the US government supports an Arab summit, all leaders (especially the president of Egypt and the King of Saudi Arabia) attend. When the US is opposed to a summit (like this one), many leaders (nine in this case) just don't show up. In the Beirut summit in 2002, all Arab leaders attended (except Arafat) because they were required to endorse the Thomas Friedman Arab "peace" plan.
Israeli occupation soldiers holding an unarmed Palestinian.
Abeer Allam, or The Female Version of Hassan Fattah: House Arabs in the New York Times. I admit it. I do read very closely what Arabs-in-residence at the New York Times write. I know the rules. Not only do those individuals have to adhere to the "standards" of bias at the Times, but they also have to--in order to stay and to proceed and be promoted--go even farther. They have to prove their political "loyalty." They have to prove that they are more supportive of US and Israeli wars and occupations, and that they are more opposed to US and Israeli enemies than the other "regular" writers at the Times. Notice now Abeer Allam. Notice what she wrote today in her dispatch from Sudan: "Analysts in the region feel that Iran is being rewarded for adopting a confrontational approach. Even though Iran has supported terrorist groups and defied the West's admonition to abandon its nuclear program, Arab countries fear that the United States may cut a deal with Iran that further weakens Arab influence in Iraq." What is noteworthy is this. First, she offers opinions that most other "regular" New York Times correspondents would generally refrain from making. They are too opinionated to be appear in a dispatch usually. Secondly, notice that she talks about "analysts in the region." They are unnamed, and thus can be used to offer whatever points of view. The analysts "feel" she tells you. It is "their feelings." And notice that Allam proceeds to render a categorical judgment about Iran's behavior: that Iran is adopting a "confrontational approach." That is an editorial and opinionated judgment. No regular foreign dispatch would say that US or Israel is adopting a "confrontational approach". I can't even imagine that a "regular" New York Times correspondent would get away saying that even Iran is "adopting a confrontational approach." But House Arabs can get away with more editorializing just as Fouad Ajami gets away with saying things and making generalizations about Arabs and Muslims that no other regional expert would be allowed to make about the people in the region that she/he studies. And then she says that Iran "has supported terrorist groups." She is talking, presumably, about Hamas and Hizbullah. This particular phrase got my attention. I will not get into what is terrorism and what is not, but her clear designation of those groups as "terrorist" in fact violates the very standards of The New York Times, which sometimes add that these groups are considered terrorist by the US or Israeli government. But Allam was permitted to settle the matter, to judge all those groups, Hamas, Hizbullah, and more, as terrorist. But the "indigenous experts" of the Times can get away with more. They can soon decide to call all Palestinians "terrorists". In that sense, I don't view the matter of hiring the handful of Arabs at the New York Times or the Washington Post (look at Nora Boustany and her fluff and horrible pieces) as progress, or as a step in some right direction. On the contrary, those hired will be examined (politically) and they will only be approved if they go beyond the "standards" of the New York Times. And then she adds that Iran "defied the West's admonition to abandon its nuclear program". How dare Iran? Israel of course did not defy "West's admonition" to abandon its nuclear program. And notice how defying "the West's admonition" sounds as if it is a crime, or a violation of international law. Such are the rules for House Arabs of the New York Times. Good night.
When Natalie Portman was a student at Harvard University, she wrote this piece.
Pablo Picasso. House in a Garden. 1908.
My friend Rami in Beirut tells me that the Lebanonese government closed off schools all over Lebanon today. They were afraid that the solar eclipse would melt the students. Mini-Hariri was pleased: he saved the students of Lebanon.
You have to play this New York Times video: it starts by saying that "many people know dimly that terrible things happen to women in the developing world." And the New York Times thinks that "terrible things" don't happen to women in the developed world. But "terrible things" in the developing world are always worse than "terrible things" in the developed world. (thanks Mike)
You have to see this: Israeli occupation soldiers versus unarmed Palestinian school children (thanks Omar)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Human (Some) Rights Watch: it happened again. I can't believe this. Over the last year, there has been numerous cases of of murder, beatings, abuse, and harassment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. I have noted that HRW has not said a word about that while Amnesty International, to its credit, issued a press release on that matter. Now, Human Rights Watch has spoken. And as we say in Arabic, the mountain gave birth to a mouse. Human Rights Watch gave a "human rights award"--whatever that is--to right-wing, pro-Israeli invasion, and pro-Bashir Gemayyel, crackpot lawyer Muhammad Mughrabi (who uses the same GYM that I use in Beirut--how dare he). Now, Human Rights Watch has spoken, and it is about a trial for Muhammad Mughrabi. This is just incredible. There was a poor person who died in Lebanese police custody in 2004, and the father of Abu `Adas (of the Hariri aljazeera claim of responsibility tape) also died in police custody, and not a word from HRW. But if the state bothers Muhammad Mughrabi, HRW gets into action.
"My father did not mean what to say what...he said." Saudi media are furious that former Syrian advisor to House of Saud, Ma`ruf Ad-Dawalibi, talked about King Faysal and the support for an internationalist anti-communist movement in coordination with the US during the Cold War. This deceased loyal servant of the Saudi government was attacked in Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. Here, the son of Dawalibi said that his father did not "see" the memoir before its publication. Don't be surprised if the son tomorrow claims that his father lied.
Dictatorships that you like: "Jordanian journalists stopped work for one hour on Tuesday in protest at the government’s adoption of an amendment to the country’s press law that allows the authorities to detain and jail reporters. “The work stoppage comes as a protest against the government’s failure to include clauses in the amendment that unequivocally exclude the imprisonment or detention of journalists,” head of the Jordanian journalists syndicate Tarek Momani said....The clause in question was apparently introduced after editors of two local weeklies were recently detained for reprinting blasphemous cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that were initially published by a Danish newspaper."
"Racisme au Liban: Un étudiant camerounais en fait les frais" (thanks Ziad)
"None of the Israeli Parties Talk of Peace"
"To see Iranian dissidents who want a fully democratic Iran not as Iranian advocates but as "ambassadors of Western values" would be to add insult to injury, aside from neglecting parts of Iranian history (including the practice of democracy in Susa or Shushan in southwest Iran 2,000 years ago)."
"A Model Democracy Is not Emerging in Iraq"
"A Summary of Remarks By George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on the Third Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

Our strategy for peace there
Is really working well.
It's just that all the killing
Can make it hard to tell"
I like George Corm: "An adviser to Israel’s prime minister, summing up its strategy after the Hamas election win, said the Palestinians should be ‘put on a diet but not starved to death’. They will be punished for practising democracy, and both the United States and the European Union endorse that punishment. Western double-talk about democracy and justice has provoked outrage in Muslim countries and encouraged resistance to foreign intervention."
"Can Turkey bridge the gap between Islam and the West?" (No).
"Sectarian violence has displaced more than 25,000 Iraqis since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine, a U.N.-affiliated agency said Tuesday, and shelters and tent cities are springing up across central and southern Iraq to house homeless Sunni and Shiite families."
"Revolt stirs as Dubai aims high"
"The Bush administration has poured millions of dollars into creating Western-style news media in Iraq, backing at least two television channels as well as training programs for Iraqi journalists on balance and ethics. The effort has helped launch more than a dozen Iraqi channels. But the result is hardly what the administration set out to accomplish. Most of the channels are increasingly sectarian and often appear to be inflaming the country's tensions, critics say."
Now AEI and Daniel Pletka want to reform Lebanon and Syria. They brought people from Lebanon for that. (thanks Mounzer) And notice that Hariri TV broadcaster, Najat Sharaf Ad-Din, is appearing under the title "Dissent in the Arab world."
I don't lament the decline of the Arab parties in the Israeli election. I am opposed to Arab participation in Israeli elections, but support Arab participation in the only democracy in the Middle East: in Cyprus.
Feminism---overseas. This American liberal is typical. Like Lord Kromer in Egypt (who wanted to "liberate" Egyptian women but opposed women's rights in England), he only supports women's rights away from home. Did this liberal NYT columnist need to travel to Pakistan to cover women's oppression? He could have easily walked a few blocks in New York City to cover stories of domestic violence, and various forms of abuse of women. But no. Those stories would not be sexy enough, and would not be as useful to justify colonial adventures. This same columnist has also turned the Darfur tragedy into kitsch: with tours, and travel excursions, and photo opportunities with the victims. My distance from liberals is as wide as my distance from conservatives.
Excuse me, `Abdul-Bari. `Abdul-Bari `Atwan was on Aljazeera's Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis. He listed the Arab countries that provided military support for the US war in Iraq. But he conveniently left out Qatar from his list.
"Fifth Avenue, Easter Sunday," a 1912 work by David Milne.

Monday, March 27, 2006

"the Dalai Lama said he considers himself a "friend" of Israel (he has visited the country three times and was a 1994 honorary fellow of Hebrew University"" (The Dalai Lama is of course noted for his wisdom. Among his profound sayings is this: "As free human beings we can use our unique intelligence to try to understand ourselves and our world.") OK. Good night, Dalai Lama.
The "New" Lebanon.
What is amazing about Lebanonese advocates is that they are the worst violators of their own slogans, without them even noticing. Take the issue of "sovereignty." Those who shout the loudest in Lebanon about the need for "sovereignty" are the most willing to compromise sovereignty for petty sectarian interests. The other day, I heard a Daily [Neo-Conservative] Star reporter, Majdoline Hatoum, ask Larsen during his press conference in Beirut a question on whether the "international community"--how much I hate this silly term--will help Lebanon in disarming the Palestinians in Lebanon. Ms. Hatoum, do you want the "international community" to also beat up your Sri Lankan maid for you too? Please let them know.
I don't want to offend Lebanonese--I do, in fact--but how come the half a million demonstration in LA looked so much bigger than the so-called one million people demonstration in Lebanon? Something is suspicious there.
This former Republican-Democratic Official settles the matter: "There is no Israel 'Lobby'." And to confirm his credibilty, he says this: " Over the course of four tours in the White House, I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America's interest.... I was there when Ronald Reagan, a great friend of Israel, was so repelled by pictures of victims in Lebanon that he insisted the Israelis call off their assault on Beirut (they did)." (I was there too--not in the Oval Office, but in Beirut. Israelis called off their assault for several hours.)
The Arab Summit. Commenting on one Arab summit in Rabat decades ago, the Syrian poet, `Umar Abu Rishah, said: "They feared for the plight of Shame; so they held a conference to preserve shame in Rabat." (It sounds great in Arabic. Take my word). I watched the opening session of the summit last night. What a scene. But it pleased me to realize this: the Arab people see through their governments. Not a single Arab leader, it hit me, is liked or respected by his people. Not one. In fact, every one of them is despised, deeply despised, by his people. And to watch the Sudanese military dictator calling on Iraqis to pursue "dialogue" was more than ironic. Or to watch `Abdul-`Aziz Butufliqah (the Algerian president) proclaim a message of free trade and capitalism. This was a guy who was friends with Carlos and Wadi` Haddad, and look at him now. What a convenient transformation.
During my recent travel, the superb Lebanese journalist, Doha Shams, wrote an important article in As-Safir in which she debunked the myth of the "million demonstrators" during the Hummus festivities that followed Hariri's assassination. She proved that crowd estimates were highly inflated.
"Migrants and the Middle East: Welcome to the other side of Dubai"
" Imperial overreach is accelerating the global decline of America: The disastrous foreign policies of the US have left it more isolated than ever, and China is standing by to take over"
Bush continues to make progress in Iraq, and his "skillful diplomat", Zalmay Khalilzad, continues to win hearts in minds in Iraq: "Senior ministers from the three main Shia factions united yesterday to denounce an American raid on a Baghdad mosque complex in which at least 20 people died, opening the biggest rift between the US and Iraq's majority Shia community since the toppling of Saddam Hussein."
Mini-Hariri has pressured at least one Lebanese journalist, Niqula Nasif of An-Nahar, to discourage him from joining the new Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar (to be edited by Joseph Samahah). Unsi Al-Hajj will join the newspaper too. Other names will be announced soon. There is a thirst for a new newspaper in Lebanon.
The Arab ideological war: a conflict is brewing in the Washington, DC-based association of Arab journalists. On the one side are those who have agreed to sponsor a talk by Khayr Ad-Din Hasib (Director of the Center for Arab Unity Studies and editor-in-chief of Al-Mustaqbal Al-`Arabi journal) during his visit to the US, and on the other side are those pro-US journalists who disapprove of Hasib's positions.
The US ambassador in Lebanon went to visit the Lebanese American University. He was met by those angry students.
This is from a documentary called Maid in Lebanon, about the plight of Sri Lankan maids in Lebanon. The quotation above is from an account by a maid whose employers cut her hair to punish her. I told a Lebanese audience in Beirut last year, and I say it again: go free your Sri Lankan maids before talking about freedom for Lebanon.
Hummus Hit the Fan: A group of supporters of Michel `Awn in Lebanon clashed with Lebanese Forces' supporters at the School of Economic Studies at the Lebanese University (Second Branch).
Hassan Fattah: willing to report what he is expected to report. Now I have been critical of AlJazeera, on Aljazeera and on this blog. But now I have to deal with Hassan Fattah (who finds the New Republic objective but not Aljazeera). Here he says: "Al Jazeera delivers its news and talk programming (there are separate channels for sports and children's programming) with a clear editorial slant toward pan-Arabism: staunchly pro-Palestinian, skeptical of the intentions of the United States and increasingly Islamist leaning. When insurgents snatched some prisoners from an Iraqi prison on Tuesday, for example, Al Jazeera's report announced, "Prisoners liberated in Iraq."" I have never seen a more desperate Arab trying to please his anti-Arab benefactors than this guy. He says that there is a slant toward pan-Arabism and then ends the passage by talking about an "Islamist leaning." Which is which, o Hassan Fattah, graduate of the New Republic Higher School for Objective Reporting on the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Now, o Hassan Fattah. We know that you cut your teeth learning the tricks of the trade at the New Republic which accepts no political slants whatever. And then you edited a bulletin under US occupation of Iraq that did not notice that there was foreign occupation. But come on. Tell me whether the slant is pan-Arab or Islamist? It can't be both. Those trends, for anybody who knows anything about contemporary Arab politics, have been in conflict. Do you mean by pan-Arab that they cover the entire Arab world? And what does "staunchly pro-Palestinian " mean? I know, that Fattah's standards are the New Republic which is "staunchly neutral" I assume. Is the New York Times "staunchly pro-Israeli"? Of course, it is. Every publication in the US or the Arab world takes sides in the Arab Israeli conflict. Just as the New York Times takes the side of Israel, many Arab media support the Palestinians. But I argue that the New York Times is more pro-Israeli than Al-Jazeera is pro-Palestinian. Al-Jazeera goes out of its way to cover the Israeli points of view, and hires a bureau chief who is fluent in Hebrew, and regularly interviews Israeli guests and propagandist, and that is something that you can't say about the New York Times or the New Republic. (I personally am opposed to Arab normalization with Israel, and thus oppose the placing of Israeli guests in Arab media). I mean aside from the "acceptable Zionist Arabs" like Fattah and Kanan Makiya, the New Republic does not even allow Arabs on its pages. So by what neutral standards is Fattah measuring the "objectivity" of Al-Jazeera. Now, I am proudly and unreservedly "staunchly pro-Palestinian" but don't think that Aljazeera is "staunchly pro-Palestinian" enough for me. His reference to the freeing of prisoners in Iraq is quite untruthful. The Arabic word used "freeing of prisoners" (not liberation) is quite neutral in Arabic. It merely means release from jail by an outside group. Hassan Fattah: you are trying too hard. "They" really are pleased with you. Stop trying too hard. You really proved your submission to US and Israeli wars. They like you; they really do. I don't, but they really do.
I watch with great interest the conflict between Hariri Inc and Al-Walid Bin Talal.
This is an article in the New York Times about the new AlJazeera International channel. As usual, you don't learn anything from an article in the New York Times. I learn more from a short article in the Economist than from a very long article in the New York Times. I mean, how much do you learn from a journalist who does not know Arabic to report on Arabic media. Oh, he did learn (from MEMRI) that Wafa Sultan was on AlJazeera. Then he says: " The English-language channel has been filling out its staff with Arab and Muslim journalists." Now, I, of course, have been following AlJazeera very closely. I am supremely interested in what they plan to do. I have spoken with two people involved in it. But what the NYT reporter writes is not accurate. In fact, I have heard complaints that the new channel is avoiding hiring Arab or Muslim (or Muslim American or Arab American) journalists. I know this first hand from people who applied or who attempted to negotiate with the station. I heard that the Washington, DC-bureau hired 100 people, and that only 3 of them are Arab or Muslim American. I am watching, very closely.
The Iraqi Minister-of Interior-under-occupation told Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that some 3000 terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the Security Apparatus. But he did not make a mention of Badr Militia's terrorists who comprise Iraqi security forces.
"In Dubai, an Outcry From Asians for Workplace Rights" (thanks Ema)
"Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein."
This used to be a good newspaper. Now, the Christian Science Monitor refers to Kadima as a "moderate" party.
Freedoms (Bush's Style). "A court in Irbil sentenced a writer to 18 months in prison Sunday for an accusatory article about Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, in a case that has raised doubts about the judiciary's independence here."
"The FBI, while waging a highly publicized war against terrorism, has spent resources gathering information on antiwar and environmental protesters and on activists who feed vegetarian meals to the homeless, the agency's internal memos show."

Followers of Nadim (Bashir) Gemayyel shown in a training camp somewhere in Lebanon. Nadim can be seen in both pictures. (thanks anonymous)
"The battle of ideas" (Battle? What Battle?)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

" US forces killed 22 people and wounded eight at a mosque in east Baghdad in an incident likely to lead to increased tensions with the Shia community." (Notice the spin in the coverage by the Washington Post)
""As much as the president relies on Rove," Barnes tells us, "he has occasionally interrupted a meeting at the White House to suggest that Rove take Barney, the Bush dog, outside.""
This is not Islam or Arab world: "'Honour' attack leaves woman fighting for life"
"Ukraine's Orange revolution turns blue" (And "Cedar Revolution" Turns Potato)
Arab Regimes' Orientalism. So Bernard Lewis' book, The Crisis of Islam, was just issued in an Arabic translation in Cairo by State-controlled the Al-Majlis Al-A`la li-th-Thaqafah (The Supreme Council of Culture). But the Mubarak's government, in promoting the book, had to make it more palatable for Muslim readers. So the title was simply changed to Islam and the Crisis of the Age. So while Lewis makes Islam the reason for the crisis, the Egyptian Council (of culture, no less) makes Islam the solution of an unidentified crisis.
Cumulus Clouds, East River, 1901-02. Robert Henri.
Samir Ja`ja` is keeping firm control of the LBC-TV. Several people will be fired, and others will leave to protest his heavy-handed intervention. Some of the personalities who are close to `Awn (like Marcel Ghanim and his brother George--the latter is director of news at LBC-TV) may leave the station soon. Gabriel Al-Murr's MTV TV will resume broadasting in Septemeber. `Awn's Orange TV will start broadcasting next year.
The new Lebanese newspaper, Al-Akhbar, (to be run by Joseph Samahah and Ibrahim Al-Amin) should have its trial issues launched on a new website by April. The first print issues should be out by September. I will keep you updated.
Religious demagogues reconcile. So the two religious demagogues--who never met an Arab oil royal that they did not admire--Yusuf Al-Qardawi and `Amr Khalid finally met and reconciled. One account said that Khaled kissed the forehead of Qardawi. Religious demagogues of the world, unite! And Qardawi thinks that he has now come up with a brilliant idea to solve the problems of the Arab and Islamic worlds. After holding a special--oh, ya, special--conference to support Muhammad, Qardawi launched a new special website to support Muhammad. The website, it is widely believed, will go a long way to solve the problems of poverty and oppression that are suffered by Muslims.
It is amazing how hard AlArabiyya is trying to appease the US. And US officials are quite grateful; they seems to be happy, genuinely happy, to be on AlArabiyya as of late. AlArabiyya is doing the job, and I wish that they save us the money and end the Al-Hurra venture which is only being watched by its director and his friends. Also, do you notice that AlArabiyya interviewers--all of AlArabiyya interviewers--get really nervous when a guest criticizes Israel or US in strong language? They get really uncomfortable, and they always, ALWAYS, talk over the guest, or they say: "oh, we are running out of time." Also, on Aljazeera they really try to bring different points of views, but not on AlArabiyya. On Al-Arabiyya, they had a show on the Israeli elections, and they had Ahmad Tibi and an Arab member of...Kadima, as if the latter equally represents the Arab (inside Isarel) point of view. That is balance by Fox News' standards. This is like AshSharq Al-Awsat's idea of balance: they have scores of columnists, and then Fahmi Al-Huwaydi who seems to serve as the token critical-of-the-US perspective in many Saudi publications.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A profile of ignored Egyptian artist George Bahjuri.
"Class war in the middle east"
I am not that demanding.
Would somebody kindly send me an article in the Financial Times titled "Arabic tongue flourishes in the new world order". Thanks. Oh, and I also like the Aleppo dessert, Karabij, if you want to send me that with the article as an attachment. (But my friend Amthal, knowing how much I like Karabij, got me the authentic Karabij from Aleppo. I did not like them. The cookies were not sweet enough for me, and the natif was too thick, way too thick. So I like the inauthentic karabij). And does anybody know why this dessert is called karabij halab (Handcuffs of Aleppo?)
This picture only proves one thing: the King of Saudi Arabia is a very funny man. He really is. Yes, he can't complete a sentence: but he is witty. Really. He seems to always make his visitors laugh. He tells jokes, that king of Saudi Arabia. Foreign visitors and leaders like him for his sense of humor, and not for his barrels of oil. Really. Oh, you are cynical. All of you. And what is that look on `Azzuz's face (behind the king)?
Brammertz versus(?) Mehlis. I have not commented on the last UN Hariri Investigation (Brammertz) report, not that you have asked. But reading it, you reach the following conclusion. He is not as stupid as Mehlis. Mehlis was so clumsy and so eager that he may have hurt his case, even if he had a solid case. This one is more cautious and more sensitive to the legal-judicial process. But that could be part of deliberate dissimulation. He could be more cautious to gain the confidence of the Syrian regime, to obtain more evidence, and to make a stronger case. And the Syrian government, which has a long record of foolishness and stupidity--not to mention gross human rights violation--, is easily duped. And then there is the possibility that the investigation is getting nowhere: there are signs in this very report: about new lines of investigation or about Al-Madinah Bank, etc. I think that the absence of new arrests is not a sign of progress. I was skeptical early on whether the killers of Hariri will really be found and apprehended--not that I am losing sleep over the matter. Please. I am much more interested in finding the culprits of the killers of Syrian workers in Lebanon. Those are the invisible victims--those who die with no private jets behind them. Those victims did not make cash donations to the campaigns of European presidents, and Kofi Annan does not care about their plight, just as he did not care about the plight of the victims of Rwanda.
Tell that to Spielberg. "But, as with all the other highly controversial policies he implemented during his five-year stewardship of Mossad between 1998 and 2003, Mr Halevy has no regrets about the uncompromising tactics he adopted against his enemies. "This is a wartime situation, and in war you need to take drastic measures to defeat the enemy," says Mr Halevy"
"A new study of an economics thesis written by Putin in the mid-1990s has revealed that large chunks of it were copied from an American text."
From the Sunday Times: "Iraqis killed by US troops ‘on rampage’: Claims of atrocities by soldiers mount."
All of them are promoting "democracy" in the Middle East. Tell them to...stop.
Vulgar Journalism: The Washington Post links Mersheimer and Walt to...David Duke.
"Oh, no, not at all -- the Lincoln Group does not do propaganda. Sure, the firm's been tarred by some in Congress, the media and the defense establishment for paying Iraqi newspapers to publish hundreds of "news" stories secretly written by U.S. troops."
Sharon is not alive enough for the New York Times to write about him, so the paper here profiles "Sharon's Spirit.""
"US military investigators are examining allegations that Marines shot unarmed Iraqis, then claimed they were "enemy fighters", The Independent on Sunday has learned. In the same incident, eyewitnesses say, one man bled to death over a period of hours as soldiers ignored his pleas for help."
"A Palestinian teenager was shot [by Israeli occupation troops] to death early Sunday in central Gaza Strip near the border with Israel"
"Israel is the number one foreign destination of privately funded congressional trips, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Washington's powerful pro-Israel lobby, is the second largest underwriter of such overseas travel." (thanks Amer)
"Schools fight over access to Mideast book" (thanks Naseer)
Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal, today had this item: "US institutions are working to support media institutions and civic bodies to energize their movements in some Lebanese areas."
This is important for those who follow Lebanese/Syrian developments. I have heard this account before from former Lebanese Minister, Mishel Samahah. Here, is the story of Chirac's early attempt to appease the US after the US war on Iraq: "The message to Assad was: The war has changed things in the Middle East, and you have to show you have changed, too -- by visiting Jerusalem or taking some other bold step for peace with Israel. The French were probably hoping to gain diplomatic leverage with Washington by acting as a peace broker, but that's not how Assad took it. "Are you the spokesman of the Americans?" he asked Gourdault-Montagne."
Lies and Fabrications of LBC-TV. So back to the From Lebanon segment that runs before the daily evening newscast and which features "wealthy and famous" Lebanese (and many non-Lebanese as we have seen before). Today, they ran a segment about Charles Boustany. I mean, how many of you know that he event exists? And the segment said this about him: "He has entered history from its wide door." I kid you not. They really said that about him. And notice how proud Boustany is of his Lebanese heritage: his official biography makes no mention of it but probably because he is more proud that "He was named the Vice-Chairman of Bush-Cheney Victory 2000 Campaign for Lafayette Parish."
Munch's "Spring in the Elm Forest III," 1923.
" "The task," President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, "is nothing less than to enrich the hope and existence of more than a hundred million people." The United States transferred $2.9 billion in economic aid to South Vietnam between 1961 and 1968 alone. In 1967, allied forces distributed more than half a million cakes of soap and instructed more than 200,000 people in personal hygiene. By then, thanks to U.S. pressure, elections at all levels of government had taken place throughout South Vietnam. The plan was to undermine the Vietcong by improving the lives of the South Vietnamese through economic development and political reform. Of course, the counterinsurgency was about more than winning hearts and minds; it was also about fighting. At first, following Congress' decision in 1965 to commit large-scale U.S. ground forces, Americans did much of South Vietnam's defensive work. But in 1969, the Nixon administration changed course and decided to transfer responsibility for ground combat to the South Vietnamese. "We have adopted a plan which we have worked out in cooperation with the South Vietnamese for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. combat ground forces and their replacement by South Vietnamese forces on an orderly scheduled timetable," Richard Nixon declared. "This withdrawal will be made from strength and not from weakness. As South Vietnamese forces become stronger, the rate of American withdrawal can become greater." The strategy, which became known as "Vietnamization," led to the complete withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Vietnam by 1973. After that, South Vietnamese troops who had been trained and equipped by the Americans conducted all ground operations.""
"Number of people whom Coalition forces have imprisoned in Iraq at some point since March 2003: 48,526

Percentage of these who have been convicted of a crime: 1.5"
Sahar Mandur of As-Safir who wrote about the plight of an abused Syrian worker in Lebanon (at the hands of the goons of Jumblat's "Progressive" and "Socialist" Party) defends her article after a vulgar response from the PSP (thanks Amer). When will Human Rights Watch notice the abuse of Syrian workers in Lebanon? Hello!!??? Oh, I am sorry. Human Rights Watch only follows Muhammad Al-Mughrabi in Lebanon. He is their hero. A champion of the Lebanese Forces' death squads in Lebanon is the hero of Human Rights Watch.
"...affirmative action for boys. As the share of the boys in the applicant pool keeps shrinking — it will soon be down to 40 percent nationally — colleges are admitting less-qualified boys in order to keep the gender ratio balanced on campus."
Hassan Fattah (who rehearsed for the New York Times at the New Republic where he earned his "good Arab" credentials from Marti Peretz) should go back writing about and promoting the US occupation of Iraq. He has this article on Lebanon. And Hassan Fattah does not know (or knows but does not dare mention) that Israel holds Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, and that Israel has held more Lebanese prisoners (and killed more Lebanese) than the Syrian regime has. Of course, I don't mind opening the books on the bloody record of Syrian oppression in Lebanon (provided that we also open the files of Syria's allies during the bloody years: Jumblat, Hariri, Birri, Murr, etc) but we should also open the files on the long decades of Israeli oppression in Lebanon. I am also of the view that we should not forget and forgive the massacres in the Lebanese civil war: I am in favor of trials for all war criminals, from all sects. (thanks Jenny)
"Budget cuts affecting US forces in Iraq." (thanks Faysal)
"Israeli media condemn, discuss report on US-Israel ties"
An interview with George Saliba in As-Safir.
"A U.S.-owned hotel that expelled Cuban guests under pressure from the U.S. Treasury Department must pay $112,000 in fines for violating Mexico's commerce laws banning discrimination on the basis of nationality, the Mexican government said."
Chat with Chomsky
Dick Cheney's travel demands.
"A federal judge on Friday questioned the constitutionality of a law under which two former lobbyists with a pro-Israel group have been charged with receiving and disclosing national defense information."
"Fidel Castro has his underwear burnt after use, and sends aides across the Atlantic to spend a small fortune on Spanish cured ham."
"Battle for Baghdad 'has already started'"
I was distressed to see Salim Huss visit mini-Hariri. Why? I mean, it would have been different if mini-Hariri visited Huss. But why the visit? This only proves Angry Arab theory on Lebanon: never pin hopes on any party or leader in Lebanon, as you will surely be disappointed.
A seasoned US diplomat in Washington, DC was telling me about Walid Jumblat's recent visit to the capital. He said that his visit left a very bitter taste, even among his neo-conservative WINEP supporters. He said that he came across as rude, abrupt, and nervous, and that he never answered a question that was posed to him. He told me that people openly wondered whether he was "on something."
"Sun, sea and scalpels"
"Abbas tells Hamas it must cooperate with Israel or fail" (Angry Arab tells Abbas that he cooperated with Israel and failed)
"United Nations nuclear and health watchdogs have ignored evidence of deaths, cancers, mutations and other conditions after the Chernobyl accident, leading scientists and doctors have claimed in the run-up to the nuclear disaster's 20th anniversary next month."

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Harvard, the observer said, had received "several calls" from "pro-Israel donors" expressing concern about the Walt-Mearsheimer paper. One of the angered contributors is said to be the donor who underwrote the chair occupied by Dean Walt, Robert Belfer. Mr. Belfer, a 1958 graduate of Harvard Law School, endowed a faculty chair as part of a $7.5 million gift to the Kennedy School in 1997. In addition to bearing the title of academic dean of the Kennedy School, Mr. Walt is also the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Politics. According to the observer, "Since the furor, Bob Belfer has called expressing his deep concerns and asked that Stephen not use his professorship title in publicity related to the article.""
"The Kennedy School of Government (KSG) removed its logo from a controversial paper published last week by Academic Dean Stephen M. Walt and the University of Chicago’s John J. Mearsheimer. A disclaimer stating that the views expressed belong only to the authors was also made more prominent on the working paper’s cover."
"la violence, l’enfermement, le régime alimentaire constitué uniquement d’eau, de labné et de thym une seule fois par jour, le réfrigérateur bouclé, les nuits passées dans la salle de bains, le travail sans arrêt jusqu’à trois heures du matin, le non-paiement de son salaire." (thanks Hodie)
Oppressive governments that you like: "The United Nations refugee agency said Friday it was concerned about deteriorating conditions for Palestinians in Iraq, citing death threats
against Palestinian families in one Baghdad neighborhood."
"John Mearsheimer says that the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful that he and co-author Stephen Walt would never have been able to place their report in a American-based scientific publication." (I hate the word "scientific" in academia.) (thanks Sami)
Brain "liberation": The Iraqi brain drain
Arab Chicken and the Mukhabarat: Poor Arab chicken. Now that there is fear of Avian flu, the Arab intelligence services must be hard at work. They must be interrogating and torturing chicken to get to the bottom of this case. There must be torture of chicken taking place as we speak: secret police want to know how the chicken got the flu. They want to know who they met and who they talked to. They must be threatening the poor chicken with McNugget fate if they don't report on other chicken. IT is not easy being a chicken in Arab lands. The Jordanian mukhabarat must be grilling the chicken about their links to Palestinian organizations; the Syrian mukhabarat wants to know if the chicken ever said a nasty word about the Ba`th; the Lebanese mukhabarat wants the chicken to report about the presence of dangerous Syrian chicken among them; the Egyptian mukhabarat wants to know if there are chicken who sympathize with the Muslim Brothers; Israeli mukhabarat wants to know the location of "terrorist" chicken; the Saudi mukhabarat wants to know if the chicken adhere to Wahhabiyyah standards. Poor chicken of the Middle East.
I like Brian Whitaker. He is one of my favorite Western journalists who write on the Arab world. He has a great critique of the Arab Development Report, and of the Western exploitation of it. He also authored that famous article on MEMRI. I never met the man, but today was most disappointed to read his profile of King `Abdullah. But Brian: this piece does not measure up to your long record of first-rate articles on Middle East politics and society. It borders on the hagiographic. You did not cite one single Saudi or Arab critic of this king. And this "man-who-takes-his-religion-seriously" stuff is so overdone, and so based on the entourage of the king himself. And it is not true: the man smokes in private (against the rules of Wahhabiyyah), and lived a free life in Beirut and Europe before the assassination of King Faysal. He was a party regular in Beirut up until the civil-war. But he takes his religion seriously in one regard: to not violate the Islamic rule of no more than four wives, he always remains married to three women at a time so that the vacancy allows him "acquaintances" during his foreign travel.
Radical feminists are correct. Gender appointments under patriarchy are useless and meaningless. I thought about this as I listened to an interview on CNN with the only female minister at UAE, Lubna Al-Qasimi. She sounded so pro-Bush, that I expected her to deny the torture at Abu Graib. She denied that there are any negative consequences to the UAE-US relations.
The Arab Female vice-President: The Ba`th Party and Culture. So the Syrian government wishes to convince us that this was a coup, an impressive gesture intended to put the Syrian government in a favorable light. Najah Al-`Attar, 74, (shown above with her wig which she wears instead of the regular veil because the Ba`th frowned upon the veil at one point), who served for years as a Minister of Culture, was appointed as vice-president for Culture Affairs. The Ba`th regime selected her in her prime age to let her do services to culture for years to come. You remember what Goring said about culture in this context. I was distressed over the news because some writers from Syria were quoted praising the appointment, and praising her past tenure as Minister of Culture. This sister of `Isam Al-`Attar, who led the Muslim Brotherhood from Germany while his sister was a token Sunni face of the regime, served in the most cruel years of the regime. Culture? She was Minister of Culture when a Syrian writer with a PhD from London university was forced to teach at a high school because he dared to criticize the regime? Culture? While she served as minister of culture, Syrian writers and intellectuals were being tortured in a tire (the famous dulab torture technique for which the regime became famous). Culture? While she served as minister some Syrian culture figures had their testicles electrocuted. And you speak of culture? I always get angry when I think about what the Ba`th Party did with and to culture, in Syria and Iraq and in other countries where the Ba`th culture of assassination was transported. Spare us an appointment.
PS On the day of her appointment, a Syrian writer, `Ali Al-`Abdullah, was arrested (with his son).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Samuel Palmer's "In a Shoreham Garden." to Pomona College. Information here. Return on Friday night. Dizzy.
High school pictures. Salim (2nd from your left, front row) sent me this picture today from Beirut. Angry Arab is front row, 1st to the left. Salim is now part of Hariri Inc. Salim: how could you???!!
"Blaming the lobby" (by my dear friend Joseph)
"The Angry Arab and others critique Mearsheimer & Walt"
"Keeping Anarchism Alive: In Remembrance of Professor Paul Avrich"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

This is an amusing article on sleepiness by Lebanese columnist Samir `Atallah.
"In the wider region, we will continue to support efforts for reform and freedom in traditional allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia." (The report is referring to the "reforms" of the House of Saud and of Mubarak)
"FBI, police spying is rising, groups allege"
The minister in question denied the charge today. But do you trust something that a Saddam minister says? I sure dont. They lied for Saddam, and they would lie for anybody else.
Those who think that Israeli occupation soldiers can intimidate Palestinians should look at this picture.
A Palestinian climbs on an Israeli occupation tank trying to halt its advance.
"U.S. moves to halt infrastructure development aid to Palestinians"
Workers of Dubai Unite!
List of airlines banned from EU (but why are most of them African airlines, I ask?)
"Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative."
"Lifting of a four-year ban has opened an unexplored job market for Bangladeshis in Lebanon, but overseas employment promotion officials say the opportunity may be lost if Bangladesh fails to maintain the required standards." (thanks Robin)
`Abdul-Halim Khaddam has admitted that he built "a barrier" to prevent the sea waves near his castle in north Syria. But he denied other corruption charges.
"A Givati Brigade officer will receive NIS 80,000 in compensation from the state after he was cleared of all charges in relating to the death of 13-year-old Palestinian girl, Iman Al Hamas, in the much-publicized "confirmed kill" affair." (thanks Mouin and Maryam)
State of occupation (Notice the last item) Click to enlarge.
For those who are impressed by fancty titles, "prestigious" names, and designer brands: the man who wrote those silly words is a well-known professor of political science at Harvard University. ""Though it's clear that women can be manly, it's just as clear that they are not as manly or as often manly as men.""
"Aids threat grows for Arab women" (thanks Ema)
"Poll: Israeli Jews shun Arabs: The poll presented Wednesday showed that 68 percent of respondents said they do not wish to live next to an Arab neighbor, compared with 26 percent who said they would agree."
"Nearly every foreign group working in Iraq has felt it necessary to hire a PSD, or "personal security detail," from more than sixty "private military firms" (PMFs)—Triple Canopy, Erinys International Ltd., and Blackwater USA—now doing a brisk business in Iraq. In fact, there are now reported to be at least 25,000 armed men from such private firms on duty in the country today. Led mostly by Brits, South Africans, and Americans, these subterranean paramilitary PSDs form a parallel universe to America's occupation force. Indeed, they even have their own organization, the Private Security Company Association of Iraq."
"Meat-Industrial Complex"