Thursday, December 31, 2009 to Lebanon

I am off to Lebanon. I will return on Jan. 20th. I can be contacted telepathically. I am speaking (in Arabic) on January 13 at 7:00PM at the American University of Beirut in the Issam Fares Hall. The title of my talk is "Palestine in the Lebanese Context." I am speaking also at a closed event for Harakat Ash-Sha`b. If other public events are planned, I shall post.

AlJazeera versus Al-Arabiyyah TV (II)

I can explain to you this way: the difference between Aljazeera and Al-Arabiyya is like the difference between the Economist and Hustler.

US/Israel hearts Husni Mubarak

"Egypt, which was among the first Arab countries to apply for a domain names with Arabic letters, is ranked by Global Voices as one of the most repressive countries for bloggers."

I respect David Ottaway

I did not have time to write about David Ottaway's book, The King's Messenger. But I will publish a long article in Arabic about it in Al-Akhbar. I respect this man. He is the only one who covered Prince Bandar and Saudi royalty without being seduced by them and by their fancy banquets and extravagant lifestyles. Bob Woodward is a court jester for Prince Bandar, and his wife, wrote a most hagiographic profile of Bandar for the New Yorker in 2003. Ottaway is too serious a journalist to be seduced by power. When I was a graduate student in DC, I used to voraciously attend all seminars, conferences, and panels dealing with Middle East issues. I used to watch David Ottaway: he was always serious and diligent. He is careful and and always came prepared and asked sharp questions. There many books that deal with Prince Bandar (and there is an official biography of Bandar by a British member of his entourage), but this one is not an official biography. It is extremely critical and draws a picture of a compulsive liar and fabricator, and even raises questions about his mental health. When Bandar makes a claim, Ottaway (unlike Woodward and Walsh) checks and verifies. And he exposes the lies of Bandar at different places in the book, like when he claimed that Ronald Reagan as a campaigner endorsed Carter's sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia, or that Bandar was behind Reagan's recognition of the PLO. Interestingly, he reveals how King `Abdullah was so pissed at Bandar, how he nixed the special documentary on King Abdullah that started to air on Al-Arabiyya and suddenly without explanation, it stopped airing. Ottaway explains that `Abdullah watched the first installment and was disgusted that Bandar used the program to talk about...himself. I just wish that Ottaway spent time, more than a passing reference, to speak about the Yamama arms deal. Or that he inspected the false claim by Bandar that Saudi Arabia urged Arafat to accept the Barak offer at Camp David (this bogus claim first appeared in the article by Walsh, and it has no evidence. My information is that Arafat asked Saudi Arabia's king and Mubarak for advice, and both were too afraid to urge him to accept, so they did not speak one way or another. I checked this week with a source, who also verified from a Clinton's administration source that neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt urged Arafat to accept). There is more to say but no time alas and tomorrow I am leaving for Lebanon. Bye. Oh, those who want to know about US-Saudi relations, should read David Ottaway. And he is a good writer.

Iran protests: covering the other side

Prior to receiving the letter from a critical reader, I of course, was planning to see how the Western media were going to cover the Iran protests. The New York Times has moved her Iran correspondent from...Toronto to...New York City, to get closer to the story. If Sarah Palin can see Russia from her window, Nazila Fathi can see Iran from her window in Toronto. But notice this: it was clear that the demonstrations in support of the regime yesterday were massive, and most Western media reported hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. The Washington Post said: " Hundreds of thousands of government supporters rallied in several Iranian cities against the country's political opposition Wednesday..." But Ms. Fathi saw a smaller crowd from her window in New York City: "Tens of thousands of pro-government demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran..." Notice that Ms. Fathi reported only "tens of thousands" and notice that she only noticed demonstrators in Tehran, but not in other Iranian cities. But also notice that the Washington Post, outraged, noted that the pro-government demonstrators called for death of the opposition leaders. But the anti-government demonstrators have also been calling for "the death of the dictator". Why is one call for death more condemnable than the other? We know why, of course. I learned from watching the US media coverage of the events of Lebanon how one-sided they can be, even in leftist media (like MERIP or Nation, among others). I knew before that demonstrators who chant slogans that are consistent with US/Israeli foreign policy objectives (regardless whether they demonstrators are aware of the consistency or not) are far more praiseworthy than those who disapprove of US/Israel foreign policy objectives. One thing is clear: the developments in Iran today are not comparable to the time before the downfall of the Shah. Back then, the country was united against the Shah. There were no two sides to speak of. If there were two sides, the US would have conveniently arranged for a coup. Today in Iran, there are two sides. It won't be a simple transition of power. More likely, it will be a messy and bloody conflict between the two sides, and both will resort to violent to push ahead. Like in Lebanon, the US media wanted you to believe that there was one side in Lebanon, only. We now know it was not the case.

For you, Jamal Mubarak

Mubarak's stooges cursing in the Egyptian puppet parliament.

Kenneth Roth understands the pain of the oppressors

"Israel is understandably frustrated by the difficulty of fighting Hamas..." What else do you find understandable about Israel war crimes, o Kenneth Roth? And do you find Palestinians frustrations fighting against a racist colonialist entity, understandable? (thanks Dina)

Jordanian troops around the world

"The Jordanian Army announced Wednesday that one of its ranking officers was killed earlier in the day in Afghanistan." (thanks May)

Being civilized in Israel

"During the rally, Israeli Arab MK Jamal Zahalka directed harsh criticism at Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who he said enjoys "classical music and killing children in Gaza."" (thanks Marcy)

If this happened in Russia, the New York Times would have put it on the front page

"Two bloggers received home visits from Transportation Security Administration agents Tuesday after they published a new TSA directive that revises screening procedures and puts new restrictions on passengers in the wake of a recent bombing attempt by the so-called underwear bomber. Special agents from the TSA’s Office of Inspection interrogated two U.S. bloggers, one of them an established travel columnist, and served them each with a civil subpoena demanding information on the anonymous source that provided the TSA document." (thanks Laleh)

Praising a terrorist in the Washington Post: defining courtesy

""When Abdulmutallab spoke, he was courteous. He didn't publicly express radical thoughts, didn't lash out against U.S. policies in Iraq or Afghanistan. He didn't express core Muslim grievances such as Israel's treatment of Palestinians." (thanks Samuel)

Foreign maids in Lebanon

One maid from Bangladesh was hospitalized after she "fell" from a balcony, and another was hospitalized after she was run over by a car. The Cedar Revolution marches on.

Political wishes

Comrade Fawwaz sends wishes for a new year.

Foreign maids in Lebanon

"« Ginette, 25 ans, ancienne employée au Liban qui vient de décéder lundi dernier à l’hôpital HJRA suite à la maladie qui l’a rongée depuis le Liban. (...) Cette femme n’a subi que malheurs pendant son séjour au Liban. Elle est rentrée sans salaire au Pays. Nous sommes prêts à saisir la justice (...) La plupart des employées sont victimes de violences physiques, de négligence ou d’abandon par leur patron. Quelques cas de victimes de violences sexuelles sont aussi recensés."" (thanks "Ibn Rushd")

Al-Qa`idah terrorism: Israel's dirty hands, and the dirty hands of Arab intelligence services

Will we know one day that Al-Qa`idah terrorist structure was infiltrated by Mossad and Arab intelligence services? Well, we know already about the roles of Saudi intelligence and Pakistan's ISI in the founding and operation of Al-Qa`idah, at least up to Sep. 11. I was thinking about that the other day. Before Al-Qa`idah, the most famous and most sinister terrorist organization in the news was Abu Nidal's organization. And we know fully well not only that the lousy organization was infiltrated by Iraq and Libya's intelligence services, but that the Mossad and Jordan's intelligence services infiltrated all levels of the organization. Hell, former Jordan's mukhabarat chief, Sa`d Khayr (who recently died from a heart attack at 56 in his hotel room in Vienna) almost ran the Abu Nidal organization in its later years. So some conspiracy theories can shed light into events and political developments.

Here we go: a conspiracy theory without evidence

"We do know a couple of things. Dad, back in Nigeria, ran the national arms industry (DICON) in partnership with Israel, in particular, the Mossad. He was in daily contact with them. They run everything in Nigeria, from arms production to counter-terrorism. Though Islamic, Muttalab was a close associate of Israel. He has been misrepresented. His "banking" is a cover." But how do you know that he was in daily contact with them? How do you know that Muttalab was a "close associate of Israel". I am for resorting to conspiracy theories but only when we have evidence. (thanks Dale)

Taking issue with Iran coverage

A reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent me this: " I'm a - almost - loyal reader of your blog, and share many of your views, so this is not an angry mail or anything, but I think that your coverage of Iran could use more of the same standards that you apply to other fields... Thanks in advance for considering my point of view openly. This post for example:
Seems to be the exact kind of writing (from journalism standards point of view) of syrian, saudi, Israeli papers, NYT, etc.. that you would make fun of ... When I read i couldn't but laugh at it... "part of the plan", "more focused on schools", "they are going to work on (or "islamize") the universities" (that one was 1984-ish in its prediction of future plans and judgement based on them) "TV series are more anti-women than ever" (on which planet ever does the previous statement qualify as anything?)....With all my respect to your source, but you hold the responsibility of publishing here. Just one more comment, your opinion about the courage of Iranian people... As much as i agree about the courage, values, heritage and resolve of the Iranian people, and respect, I think that your comparison of this courage with that of Arab peoples is totally out of place... These people have been running in the streets, protesting, burning (BURNING) the vehicles of the basij and guards, disrupting public life for 6 months now, and almost no effort has been done from the part of the security forces to stop them (100 people dead in 6 months)... I am not saying that what happened is OK, but please have a same-level comparison.. When you said "why aren't there such protests in the streets of damascus, amman, riyadh, and cairo" when you know that any similar thing done by Arab masses would result in a mass-murder (many historical examples)... I even had a friend commenting, in our countries, if there is a protest of 10 people, 11 would be killed by the security forces - not to mention their friends and families going into prisons! Also you didn't post anything about the much-larger number of people who demonstrated in favor of Nijad yesterday, but that can be understood. I hope it isn't because all the people around you (elites, liberal) are anti-government anti-regime, and its normal because the poor people (majority of Iranians, majority of Nijad supporters) can't be expected to have the same coverage as the more photogenic, english-speaking, twitter-using rich kids (please compare with the Lebanese uprise of cauliflower here)
PS. Just to explain one more thing, I am never amused by the supreme leader (big brother) and hope that one good thing coming out of this very healthy movement in Iran is diminishing his strength and vitalizing the political life... Wilayat Al Faqih has always been one of the points that I hated the most about Hizbollah. I am not criticizing here, and wrote sincerely with the hopes of giving a positive advice.."

AlJazeera versus Al-Arabiyyah TV

I have been watching more Aljazeera as of late because it has been suggested to me that watching Al-Arabiyyah TV (the private TV station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) is bad for one's mental and physical health. But forget about politics, Aljazeera is so much more informative and sophisticated as a news organization. The reporters of Aljazeera take what they do seriously (some too seriously), and the round up of the news is a very nutritional source on world affairs. AlArabiyya's formula is simple: ignore all the news that bother Zionism (Palestine and American occupations) and focus on Iranian conspiracies (real and imagined) and give a lot of attention to fluff: sleaze, entertainments, and sports. Just compare the websites of the two networks and you see what I mean. Yesterday, I wanted to see their coverage of Gaza: and for Al-Arabiyya TV there is only one revolution and one injustice in the entire world, and it is in Iran. But the propaganda of Al-Arabiyya is becoming more and more crude and vulgar, by the day. And if you see the most-read-items on Al-Arabiyya, it is rarely politics: sleaze and crime is what they do to lure readers. But that only confirms what polls by Zogby and the University of Maryland have shown: that when there is a news story, Arab viewers flock to Aljazeera and not Al-Arabiyyah.

The Moral Cowardice Award: Karen Abu Zayd

Yesterday, on Aljazeera's Bila Hudud, Karen Abu Zayd (the UNRWA's commissioner) was the guest. She was quite reprehensible: in what she said and what she did not say. Don't get me wrong. I was never a fan of this woman, and I know how appointment to the position of commissioner of UNRWA are made at the US Department of State. I knew Ambassador Eagleton (some) when he was appointed to that position, and he was less bad than Abu Zayd, for sure. The host, Ahmad Mansur, was livid with her: he kept telling her. This is the last day of your service in that position. What are you afraid of? Why are you so scared to speak against Israel? Why can't you say a word about the Egyptian wall around Gaza? And she was exactly that: cowardly in every sense of the word, but I was pleased for Arab viewers to watch this lousy leader--in theory--of an organization that in name speaks on behalf of the Palestinian refugees and cares for them. At one point, she was asked about taking Israel to an international court for war crimes. She said: there is no need for that, because Israel has already apologized for bombing UN buildings and expressed willingness to even pay for reconstruction. So according to this representative of the White Man among the natives, the only crime that can be pinned on Israel is that it bombed buildings of the UN in Gaza. Frustrated by her cowardice, Mansur repeated again, that she was scared and terrified to make the most basic and elementary form of criticisms of crimes against the refugees that UNRWA supposedly care for. Karen Abu Zayd is a disgrace to the position that she holds, and Joe Lieberman would not have been worse in that job than Karen Abu Zayd. When the history of the (victorious) Palestinian resistance movement will be written, her name should be added to the list of people who have been disgraceful in the history of the conflict.

Relying on the Yemeni dictator

Relying on the Yemeni dictator to fight terrorism is like relying on Hamid Karzai to fight corruption.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mashallah Shamsolvaezin

"The Iranian government, struggling to silence the many critical voices in the country, has arrested at least 11 journalists since Sunday, including former International Press Freedom Award recipient Mashallah Shamsolvaezin and the prominent writer Emadeddin Baghi. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrests and called for the release of all detained journalists, who now number more than 30." Now, of course, it is axiomatic to condemn Iranian press restrictions of any kind--or the even harsher press restrictions among US puppets in the Middle Eeast--but I want to say something about Mashallah Shamsolvaezin. The man was an avid propagandist of the Iranian regime for years, but in the last two years he has become a favored propagandist for Saudi media. I find nothing courageous about him. (thanks Lilia)

PS I have commented on his name before. It translates thus: Whatever God wishes (that is the first name only), The Sun of the Preachers (the last name). So the full name is: Whatever God wishes the Sun of the Preachers.

Principled foreign policy

""We have to be deft at this, because it matters how the Iranian people interpret their isolation -- whether they fault the regime or are fooled into thinking we are to blame."" So it is not about whether they suffer or not, it is about whether they blame us or the regime for their suffering.

Iraq and its oil

"Under the new terms, Statoil will eventually hold 18.75 percent of the consortium, with Lukoil holding 56.25 percent and a partner from the Iraqi state holding the remainder, said Ola Aanestad, a spokesman for Statoil." So why not say that Iraq holds no more than 20% or so?

Sexism and segregation in the Ahmadinajad Republic

Here is what a source in Iran said about this matter that I was inquiring about: "Segregation and more restrictions on women have been part of the plan of Ahmadinejad-Khamenei. Yet their plan has been affected (temporarily stopped) by the recent people’s uprising. Religious police are not seen in the streets as they were when they used to harass and bother people during the four years of the presidency of Ahmadinejad. The government is now more focused on the schools. After schools, they are going to work on (or “Islamize”) the universities, in case they win to defeat the movement. Fewer women, already, run the TV shows and programs, compared to some months ago. TV series are more anti-women than ever....(TV series have been freely showing men with two wives or men who want to enter mut’a or temporary marriage.)"

PS For Iranian matters, you may do what the New York Times does: just ask people in....Toronto.

Ethan Bronner: never misses an opportunity to justify Israeli wars, murders, and...racist segregation

Look at this. He is here justifying the racist segregation on Israeli roads: "But once the uprising began, there was stone-throwing and shooting on the road."

David Levine is dead: a most original artist

This is a great political cartoonist. He invented an original and unique style, and he was imitated by cartoonists worldwide. A Lebanese cartoonist, Stavro, became famous in the 1960s and 1970s with cartoons (that I later realized) that copied the style of Levine. When I was a kid obsessed with political cartoons, I was most impressed with the style of Stavro, and tried to copy it. I later was disappointed to learn that I was copying the style of somebody who was copying the style of somebody else. Now, I am not in any way endorsing the political views of Levine. That is another matter altogether. This is like assessing Bob Dylan: an arch Zionist whose CD, Bob Dylan Desire is one of the best collection of songs of all time.

US Military Press Release: if this is not liberation, nothing is

" BAGHDAD-An American cultural awareness class started at the Baghdad Police College here Dec. 22. The American cultural awareness class is a small part of the three-year police college curriculum, but it plays a major role in shaping the hearts and minds of the students here, said Col. Randall Twitchell, Iraq Training and Advising Mission-Police Training and Qualification Institute Director. The goal is to teach the more than 6,000 students who now flow through the institute that there is more to Americans than what they see here. "The course teaches students an overview of American history, the process of our government and historical figures," said Twitchell. Included in the 90-minute course is a brief summary of the types of homes American live in and the kind of cars Americans buy. "This course is significant because these officers will go out to every province in Iraq and the impression we leave will go with them," said Twitchell. Students ask questions throughout the course and most of them want to know how much a house in the U.S. costs and at what age most Americans get married." (thanks anonymous-in-Baghdad)

The new Walid Jumblat

"Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader MP Walid Jumblatt expressed relief on Monday over the decreasing number of Druze enrolling in the Israeli Army. Speaking to reporters following a
meeting in Cyprus with Druze Member of Knesset Said Naffaa and other representatives of the Druze community in Israel, Jumblatt said that the percentage of Druze who are not enrolled in the Israeli military has reached 63.7 percent compared to a past rate of 9 percent." (thanks David)

Zionism and infant formula

"Gazan resident Muhammad Abu Shabab appealed to the Palestinian Ministry of Health to put pressure on Israel to allow the import of Galactomin 19 infant formula for his 4-month-old nephew."

Dictators that you did not like, but then you suddenly started liking

"Libyan authorities should immediately release and drop all charges against Jamal el-Haji, a political prisoner arrested on December 9, 2009, for publicly criticizing human rights violations in Libya, Human Rights Watch said today. The case highlights the need to reform oppressive criminal laws curtailing free expression, Human Rights Watch said."

Huffington Post: praise

I am sometimes accused of not writing praise. But I do praise, some times. Like the Huffington Post. When it first started, I was expecting a vigorous liberal voice with the typical standard blind spot on Israeli crimes. I must confess that I have been pleasantly surprised. They don't--unlike American liberal media--seem to be covering up for Israel crimes and they do cover and post links to news of Israeli repression and Palestinian misery. Hell, the Nation which is supposed to be to the left of Hunffington Post is far less courageous. But then again, the Nation magazine has not been courageous in 20 years.

Moral Cowardice

In the entry on Moral Cowardice in any political dictionary there should be a picture of the smiling Jimmy Carter.

Israeli apartheid defined:

"This highway has told the whole story. They pave a road, expropriate Palestinian land and the High Court of Justice approves the expropriation, in its words, "provided that it is done for the sake of the local population." Afterwards they prevent the "local population" from using the road, and finally they build a wall with drawings of creeks and meadows so we don't see and don't know that we are driving on an apartheid road, that we are traveling on the axis of evil." (thanks Olivia)

Repression that you find delightufl

"Authorities have similarly stopped a number of Americans from marking the first anniversary of the Gaza bombings by renting boats on the Nile River. Another commemoration of the war in Gaza was broken up by police at the Kasr El Nil Bridge near downtown Cairo. Meanwhile, organizers of the freedom march announced that 38 participants were briefly detained by security forces at their hotel inside El Arish (30 miles away from the Gaza border) and at the city's bus station on Sunday afternoon."

Supreme Censorship in Iran

It has come to my supreme attention from supreme readers in Iran that the supreme ban on my supreme blog remains in supreme effect. I call on the supremely lousy Supreme Leader to let the supremely courageous Iranian people to supremely be able to read the views and musings of the Supremely Angry Arab. Supreme no thanks.

Saudi Arabia's foreign policies

I have argued before that there is no central Saudi foreign policy under King `Abdullah. There are foreign policies for each of the "prominent" princes. Read the full text of this speech by the dead Prince Sultan, and you will understand what I mean. He does not seem to be echoing the views of his half brother, the King. And notice that he calls on all Yemenis to point their guns against "our enemies."

It is official in Riyadh: Israel is no more the enemy

Look at this cartoon and you can understand Saudi Arabia's foreign policy. (thanks Abu AbdulRahman)

Sons of Zayid: on their priorities

"So Rihanna’s team is now said to be working around the clock to somehow figure out a way to make Rihanna's daring stage outfits go along with the local traditions in Abu Dhabi, which prides itself as the more mature and conservative brother of neighboring, freewheeling Dubai." (thanks Dina)

You would not know about this from reading the US press

"M. Karzaï a parlé avec les familles des écoliers. "Le président leur a assuré que le gouvernement enquêterait sérieusement sur cet incident et traiterait les coupables conformément à la loi", précise le communiqué. L'incident a provoqué ces derniers jours un émoi croissant dans le pays, où des manifestations contre les troupes étrangères étaient organisées mercredi. Des centaines d'étudiants ont ainsi manifesté mercredi à Jalalabad, la grande ville de l'Est afghan, brûlant notamment un drapeau américain et une effigie du président Barack Obama. Ils ont bloqué des rues de la ville et défilé aux cris de "Mort à Obama" et "Mort aux forces étrangères". (thanks Karim)

The Middle East in Western Archives

Don't hold your breaths. I have said before: Western governments are so protective of their clients in the Middle East that there has been no explosive (and candid) declassification of documents in the post-WWII era. They cover up to keep their interests, and the legitimacy of their puppets in the region. Look at those new British documents: the interesting stuff remains locked up in the archives. This is chit-chat, really. The interesting and really damning stuff will come out in no less than 200 years, at least. And if the House of Saud is still around, it may take longer. (thanks Michel)

Marc Ginsberg: all that he knows is from Wikipedia (and plagiarism????)

He would be on my list of people in the US media with least knowledge of the Middle East region. He is a favorite commentator on Middle East affairs at Fox News. You get the point. And he has an annoying smile, to boot. Look at this jumbled piece here: he assembled the first part from Wikipedia to show his knowledge of Yemeni history, and the second part is the reflection of his jumbled and confused mind. Note his analysis of the Yemeni conflict, and his identification of the exact identity of external support for the Huthi rebels. With people like Ginsberg, we can count on the preservation of public ignorance about the world in the US. And notice that he is trying to be grand in the title.

PS I am not done, I decided. I googled one sentence in this text: "unique translucent alabaster windows known as gammariyas, which trace their origins back to the Sabaean rulers who built the skyscraper palace of Ghumdan 1,800 years ago..." And I found this in the New York Times: " the translucent alabaster windows known as gammariyas... This country has been famous for its unique architecture ever since Sabaean rulers built the skyscraper palace of Ghumdan 1,800 years ago..." Robert Worth of the New York Times can sue, I think.

For you, Jamal Mubarak

"Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit offered rare praise for Netanyahu, commending him for raising various new ideas for advancing the peace process." (thanks Rime)

Gaza Freedom March

"“What Egypt has done to us here, this is collective punishment,” says Amar. “We started to call this the Giza Strip.”"

Goldstone Report and Gaza

"(Thus far, the State Department has been claiming the report is actually an obstacle to peace.) And Obama should use his moral authority, while there's some left, to open the way for peaceful protest in Gaza, instead of allowing Israel and Egypt to shut it down."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anis Sayigh

Nice tributes to Anis Sayigh in As-Safir.

Repression that you really like

"A Yemeni reporter is being held without charge after being arrested on Sunday while covering clashes between security forces and separatists in Yemen’s southern province of Dhala, according to local news reports. The arrest is the latest attempt by the government to silence media outlets and journalists covering civil unrest in the southern part of the country." (thanks Lilia)

Blame the Lebanese for this: wanting to be white, literally

"This fight to be white appears to make a mockery of ethnic pride. It turns modern notions of political correctness on their heads. But it won’t stop a Palestinian college student like Hanadi Suleiman from spending her limited spare change on over-the-counter whitening creams. “I admit it. I want to change my complexion,” Ms. Suleiman, a sociology student at Al-Quds Open University, explains with a sheepish smile. She and a classmate sport Islamic head scarves and a significant coat of makeup, also aimed at a lighter-skinned appearance. “Palestinian men like brunettes,” she says, “but they want light skin.”"

This is the kind of repression that you like

"In an unprecedented move, the Palestinian Authority prosecutor-general on Monday issued an arrest warrant against the chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Naim Toubassi, on charges of financial corruption and slander." (thanks Olivia)

A real hero

"85 year old Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein Begins Hunger Strike to Open Gaza Borders" (thanks Ali-not Electronic)

Attacked by an Israeli drone

"In a short film by Medical Aid for Palestinians, Wafa al-Radia tells how she and her sister were attacked by an Israeli drone last year during the Gaza conflict." No peace with the Zionist entity, ever. (thanks Zaki)

Cute propaganda

"U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a "neutron initiator" for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official." (thanks mh)

Are some Westerners aware how they sound like Nazis?

"He has tried to play down the religious element in the debate, but he has also urged Muslims to show “humble discretion” and avoid “ostentation and provocation”; a junior minister, Nadine Morano, said young Muslims should dress better, find jobs and stop using slang and wearing baseball caps backward." (thanks Khaled)

`Abdullah `Ayyad bin `Awwad

The murder of a Syrian worker in Lebanon. (thanks Mivat)

Some miiltary humor from Lebanon

"The Lebanese army on Tuesday opened anti-aircraft fire on four Israeli warplanes flying over southern Lebanon, the National News Agency reported." Lebanese anti-aircraft fire can't kill birds, for potato's sake. Enough embarrassment, please. (thanks Evan)

Saudi Wahhabi architecture: destruction

"Also, the Washington-based Gulf Institute has estimated that, in the past two decades, 95 percent of the millennium-old buildings in Mecca have been demolished." (thanks John)

If this one in any other country in the Middle East?

"Mordechai Vanunu is suspected of violating parole by meeting with foreigners. He spent 18 years in prison after leaking information on an Israeli nuclear plant."

Ruling family feud in Yemen

"My own field research in addition to unconfirmed news reports points to a power struggle between President Ali Abduallah Salih and his half-brother, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the commander of the first armoured division and of the Northwestern Military Flank. He is seen as an obstacle to a smooth transition of power to Salih's son. The struggle burst into the open when some Yemeni online newspapers and blogs reported in 2008 armed clashes between troops loyal to the son of the president and those of Ali Mohsen." (thanks Dina)

Al-Qa`idah in Yemen

Question: And who has invited and hosted Al-Qa`idah terrorists in Yemen?
Answer: none other than staunch US ally, Yemeni dictator `Ali `Abdullah Salih.

The Maid at the Lebanese ambassador's House in Vienna was killed

A reader in Vienna sent me this: " I do not know if you have heard about this. Here in Vienna it is a major affair. In the cellar of the residence of the Lebanese ambassador the corpse of the Philippine 30-year old maid was found with several stabs from a knive. German story [Austrian Broadcast]. Here is an Arabic version. (thanks Abd-al-Nur for the German link, and Raed for the Arabic link)\

For an English version, see here. (thanks Rashid)

Political Humor in Jordan

I wrote last week about the piece in the New York Times (by Michael Slackman) about political humor in Jordan. A Jordanian graduate student wrote to Slackman and and she allowed me to cite her letter (I deleted personal references): "I am writing with regards to your recent piece in Amman Journal/ Middle East section of the NY Times entitled "Jordanians Can Take a Joke, Comics Find" and dated December 23rd, 2009. I couldn't help detecting a condescending tone underlying your reporting on the Amman Comedy Festival. You made it seem as if Jordanians did not know what laughter, or indeed comedy, are before the advent of the Great North American Comics. You seem to be arguing that Jordanians never really "laughed at themselves" before the Amman Comedy Festival, while the contrary is true and would have been easy to discover with a little bit of research on your part. Jordan has had, and still has, very well-known local comedians such as Nabeel Sawalha, Hisham Yanes, Amal Dabbas, and Musa Hijazin, to name but a few. These local comedians who performed on TV and in live plays were extremely popular in the country and they still are (Sawalha has a radio show on Mazaj FM, Hijazin an animated comedy sketch on Jordan TV). Moreover, Jordanians are used to "laughing at themselves" if their reception of these comedians is anything to judge by. As a matter of fact, even the late King Hussein "laughed at himself" when Hisham Yanes impersonated him on stage. While you mention en passant that "Arabs are not new to comedy," you somehow still fail to acknowledge that Jordanian comedy has already done everything you claim the "American stand-up" has brought to the country for the first time: the "emphasis on self-deprecation and crossing red lines." And it's ironic how the "crossing of red lines" said to have been delivered to the Jordanian audience contains "No cursing. No making fun of religion. No making fun of the king (or his family). No sex jokes. No drug jokes. And, of course, no alcohol allowed." What red lines do you exactly mean, then? What redder a line can there be than posing as the late King Hussein on stage in the 90s (as Hisham Yanes did), or posing as the Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen doppelgänger after he was assassinated (as Yanes, again, did), or posing as a bitter, home-bound Jordanian women from Salt-Jordan in America (as Amal Dabbas did), or even making fun of the Quranic story of Adam, Able and Kane (as the Yanes, Sawalha, Dabbas trio did)? Examples abound of Jordanian comedians crossing red lines, and they are available on YouTube and in Arabic. Quite bold, eh? As a Jordanian, I felt that your piece made sweeping judgements about Jordanians' sense of humour, perhaps relying on the stereotypical belief that "Jordanians are too serious." The piece contained an implicit patronizing undertone that would steer the reader to believe that A) Jordanians did not know what comedy/laughter is until the arrival of the North American Gods of Stand-up Comedy, B) Jordanian comedy never crossed a red line, as crossing red lines is the speciality of American stand-up comedians, C) Jordanians can't express their minds without the help of the Missionaries of Laughter, American and Canadian alike. I hope this e-mail was a response to your piece's condescending, comico-orientalist grand finale delivered by Russell Peters. One Jordanian kid had something to say and she said it without the aid of comedic workshops or North American stand-up comedians, and -- haha-- that's the punchline."

When Hariri media cover Iran

Amer sent me this from Lebanon (I cite with his permission): "Future news has been broadcasting non-stop documentaries on Iran and the opposition. The people they interviewed as representing the opposition were of three kinds: a small minority of religiously-inspired activists, who are even more messianic than Khamenai, a good chunk of middle-class and rich kids who want more social freedoms; and the "thinking" types (who are likely to lead) were Bushists. They went to the polytechnic institute where the brightest are chosen to study, several of them voiced opinions against Najad, a student followed them outside to tell them that the regime is a threat to the world, "it does not accept Israel, it supports terrorists in Lebanon and Iraq."

A view from an Iranian reader

An Iranian reader sent me this (I cite with her permission): "I agree that social uprisings, like the current one in Iran, are generally unpredictable...The movement in Iran focuses on political goals rather than any particular parties or figures. The protesters have already moved beyond what the reformists can offer. I don't think the scenario of 1979, where Khomeni stole people's minds and hearts, can be repeated. In the current movement the protesters have no desire for a leader, and are instead focused on justice, and their civil rights. It's more individual frustration that has led to a collective movement. I agree that a progressive outcome is not inevitable but many radical institutions and ideas are growing. No option has been left for the people except to rebel against the government. The people don't seem to be satisfied with choosing from the "lesser-evil" options. Some people think that the current movement might produce a regime that is submissive to US-Israel or is reactionary, so protesters should go back to their houses and not fight; I take issue with that position. Why do some commentators think that Iranians have two options: either stay with their ugly reactionary government or be a client of US capitalism-imperialism? In this view, Middle Eastern people are deemed incapable of bringing radical change to their society. There are different groups of people in the movement such as women's rights activists, student's activists, worker unionists, human rights activists etc. To understand what the movement is asking for, why can't we look at each of these groups' agenda? I don't think one can discredit the movement in Iran because of the support and advocacy of some political groups or organizations, in Russia, Israel or the US, who have no effect or influence on protesters. If, for instance, Zionists support the movement, that doesn't mean that the movement in Iran is pro-Zionism; if monarchists support the movement, that doesn't mean that the movement is pro-monarchism. People in Iran don't even know some of these groups and have never even heard of them. Mousavi, Karoubi, and Khatami do not collectively reflect all aspects of the movement. Although they were to some extent responsible for the movement's emergence, they do not own it. Just as the liberal pacifist Martin Luther King does not reflect all aspects of the US civil rights movement, neither do Mousavi or Karoubi reflect the Iranian struggle. The government claimed that some Basij members have been killed or injured but no one knows their names or has seen their photos. Tell me their names. Show me their photos. There are many photos of Sohrab, Kianoush and others who were murdered by the regime. I honestly think that this is just fabricated propaganda of the Kayhan newspaper, which is unfortunately repeated by some progressives in the West. More than a hundred of people have been killed, thousands of people have been imprisoned, hundreds of people have been tortured, executions occur daily. Why do some in West worry about the murder of an amed Basiji without even investigating the accuracy of the news? Some Western commentators treat Basijis as Zionist media would treat Israeli soldiers, and Iranian protesters as Zionist media would treat Palestinians. The accusations of violence among Iranian protesters is largely fabricated by the Iranian state media. Some commentators think the movement is pro-capitalism and US imperialism because they believe the protesters to be mostly students or members of the middle class, and rarely poor. I once asked such a commentator to consider an analogous situation in which university students in the US protested, say, the Vietnam war. If the students' protests are oppressed by primarily working class police, it does not imply that the students' cause is pro-capitalism and imperialism or it doesn't mean that the war with Vietnam is a good thing. Alternatively, consider the gay rights movement, which is mostly supported by the middle class, but is not pro-imperialism, Zionism, interventionism, or capitalism and doesn't mean that their cause is not important....thinks that people in the Middle East are capable of bringing two kinds of government to their societies: reactionary hardliners who will be on the US bad guys' list or dictators who are submissive to US-Israel*. I think people are capable of shattering this false dichotomy and through their struggle they will come up with more socialist secular progressive institutions. Better to rebel than to submit to tyranny, regardless of the outcome. Don't you agree? *Each one of these governments people in Middle East have, are warned of the danger of the other one. If your country is run by US-Israel puppets, you will be warned of hardliners. If the country is run by reactionary hardliners, you are warned of the danger of a government that submits to US-Israel. Thus Middle Eastern people are asked to do nothing.
I don't know what you mean by sexist revolution. Women were a big part of the 1979 revolution but were told to not concentrate on women's rights issues since they had more "important" causes to fight for. People thought that gender equality will happen in the context of a just society, thus they should fight for social justice and not focus on "bourgeois" causes such as women's rights. The women's issues were not the main focus of the 1979 revolutionaries and post revolution government's rules were sexist and caused gender disparities but that doesn't mean women did not participate in the revolution or revolution itself was sexist. Even after the revolution, women protested against the mandatory hijab and stoning. Here is a video of one of them: Women are very active in the current movement too. In most student demonstrations, many of the protesters are women, which makes sense since women are 62% of the university population. There is also a movement of mourning mothers whose kids are murdered or are in jail. Women's rights activists are a very important part of the movement too. They have been imprisoned and tortured, and they protested alongside men. Here is a video of a young woman who is leading the protesters. She is standing on a chair, I think. Her slogan is: the one who claims to be just (meaning Khamenei) is lying, he is a murderer. I also think that it will be beneficial to attach Iran's movement to the Palestinian's struggle and show these two as the same instead of putting them into competition. I constantly compare the Iranian government and their supporters to Zionists in my Persian blog. It pisses them off more than anything and also causes Iranians to think that they have the support of Palestinians and identify with them, which is very important, I think. Yesterday I wrote this comment for someone who was asking not to compare the movement in Iran with Palestinian's cause since there is no ethnic or racial differences between the two camps in Iran. This is what I told him: Aren't the ethnic and racial differences a human construction? Can't we consider the notion of khodi (insiders) versus gheir khodi (outsiders) in Iran as the basis for the so called "ethnic differences"? Palestinians struggle to decolonize themselves from their occupiers, like the ghire-khodi-ha in Iran struggle to free themselves from the hegemonic dichotomy between khodi and gheire- khodi.""

Iran is a big story

There are two sides to the notion of intervention in Iranian affairs. One side (the regime's side and its Arab supporters) contend that what is happening in Iran is the result of an outside conspiracy engineered by the US/Israel/Saudi Arabia. Another side (the side of the supporters of the "reformers"--and I use the word reformer with the same conviction that I describe Hamiz Karzai as a reformer--contend that Iranian protests are purely and exclusively domestic and internal and that the outside world is only watching. Hell, some among the CNN-saves-Iran crowd, believe that Obama only extends his wishes to the protesters. Here is my take: I woke up thinking about it. While I want every Middle East regime overthrown and the Zionist racist state dismantled altogether, I am sure that in 50 years, when the documents are declassified we will learn that the US/Saudi Arabia/Israel played a very big role in the affairs of Iran, and that billions of dollars were spent toward the goal of destabilizing the regime. You need to read David Ottaway's latest book to learn about Saudi services to US covert operations. But of course, if the regime does not have its own genuine dissident movement, and if it has not alienated segments of the population, there would not be anything to exploit. But to deny that there are US/Israel/Saudi hands in the affair, is to deny the obvious. Supporters of the Iranian protests will now write to me in disapproval. I am not impugning the national credential and motives of the protesters themselves, especially as they grow in size, but we know from Operation Ajax from more than 50 years ago, US covert operations have handled demonstrations and coups in the Middle East all along. Of course, some of those operations are comical, like the staged removal of the Saddam statue in Firdaws Square.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The PA collaboration regime offers its services

""...The PA on Saturday complained to the U.S. that during the raid Israel had unjustly invaded area A, for whose security the Palestinians are solely responsible. The PA demanded that the Americans voice their own position on the matter. Over the weekend, the Palestinians also protested to the coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, that IDF soldiers had entered area A in Nablus and had not allowed PA security forces to arrest the wanted men". " (thanks M.)

This is Israeli occupation

"Amid the endless, horrifying statistics a few stand out: of Gaza's 640 schools, 18 were completely destroyed and 280 damaged in Israeli attacks. Two-hundred-and-fifty students and 15 teachers were killed. Of 122 health facilities assessed by the World Health Organization, 48 percent were damaged or destroyed. Ninety percent of households in Gaza still experience power cuts for four to eight hours per day due to Israeli attacks on the power grid and degradation caused by the blockade. Forty-six percent of Gaza's once productive agricultural land is out of use due to Israeli damage to farms and Israeli-declared free fire zones. Gaza's exports of more than 130,000 tons per year of tomatoes, flowers, strawberries and other fruit have fallen to zero.
That "much of Gaza still lies in ruins," a coalition of international aid agencies stated recently, "is not an accident; it is a matter of policy." This policy has been clear all along and it has nothing to do with Israeli "security.""

Haaretz finds methods of killing "exciting"

"Military censorship prevents disclosure of the Israeli arms industries' most exciting and futuristic devices, but a good picture of what can be expected can be compiled using what is already in the public domain." First notice, that Israeli media never complain about military censorship (and notice that they call it "military censorship" to make it more benign than "censorship" as if military censorship is not censorship, it is as offensive and illogical as the term "date rape"), and then notice that Haaretz finds new weapons system "most exciting." I bet Haaretz reporters and columnists are excited and exhilarated when they see pictures of butchered Palestinian children. (thanks Mai)

Saudi media and their love affair with Bin Laden

When Bin Laden family members were held in Iran, Saudi media said that this is evidence of cooperation between Iranian government and Al-Qa`idah. Now, Saudi media (especially the mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his sons, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) are pressing for the release (and hero's welcome) of Bin Laden family members. "A daughter of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has taken refuge in the Saudi Embassy in Tehran after eluding guards who have held her and five brothers under house arrest for eight years, a Saudi-owned newspaper reported Wednesday." (thanks Laleh)

He wants to liberate Palestine with a beauty pageant

"The Palestine beauty pageant would have been a powerful statement to the world that Palestinians will not surrender to the occupation nor allow the suffering to dictate how they live their lives. It also would have been a powerful statement to themselves to energize their inner spirit and allow them to find strength just when strength is needed most." Forget about his irrelevant and useless political views--if that is what they are--but somebody needs to break the news to Ray Hanania. You are not funny, man. Not funny at all. And notice that when he speaks about zealotry in the Jerusalem Post, of all places, he is only talking about zealotry among Palestinians because he won't be permitted to speak against Israeli zealotry. I wonder if he has an unfunny joke about that.

Three fatal deficits of Empire

"As I reflected on the rise, and probable fall, of America’s empire, it became clear to me that there were three fatal deficits at the heart of American power: a manpower deficit (not enough boots on the ground in Iraq), an attention deficit (not enough public enthusiasm for long-term occupations of conquered countries) and above all a financial deficit (not enough savings relative to investment and not enough taxation relative to public expenditure). Back in 2004 I warned that the US had imperceptibly come to rely on east Asian capital to stabilise its unbalanced current and fiscal accounts. The decline and fall of America’s undeclared empire might therefore be due not to terrorists at the gates nor to the rogue regimes that sponsor them, but to a fiscal crisis at home." (thanks Nabeel)

selling eduction in Dubai

"George Mason, one of the first American universities to open a branch in the United Arab Emirates, closed its Ras al Khaymah temporary campus in May, having never graduated a single student." (thanks Dina)

This is the US-constructed "model" in Iraq

"Strict traditions and social conventions are back in the spotlight in Iraq with the decision of Iraq's Education Ministry to separate boys and girls in Sadr City schools."

Obama also kills school children

"At least 10 Afghan civilians, mostly school children, have been killed in an air raid by Nato-led forces in the east of the country, the office of Hamid Karzai, the president, has said." When I read these items, I remember all the leftists I know who berated me because I refused to support Obama.

The Obama White House Finds this cute

"Jerusalem resident Rifat Sayeed said a minibus he was travelling in on Monday overturned and crashed into a ditch after Jewish settlers threw stones in its direction." (thanks Olivia)

The Saudi-Israeli honeymoon

I normally avoid linking to the Saudi sleaze website, Elaph. It lures visitors with sexist and sleazy pictures and then promotes Saudi and Israeli propaganda interests. And I find more evidence of Israeli-planted propaganda stories in Elaph than I find in any other Saudi propaganda outlet. It is very clear that there is a presence of Israeli propagandists at the site. And when you see an Israeli propaganda story, lie, or opinion it is always signed by what appears to be a fake name. Here, there is an article headlined "Israel: the state of economic miracles." And in Israeli propaganda in Elaph, there is no subtlety. If Israel is such an economic miracle, why do successive Israeli governments come groveling and crawling in Washington, DC begging for more financial aid? (thanks Pierre)

Obama's other big war

Look at this headline in the New York Times: " U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion." Do you need to read any further? The headline simply and briefly provided you with a justification for the Obama war in Yemen. As if the issue of Al-Qa`idah summarizes the complex issues of the Yemeni conflicts--in the plural for sure. Absent from this is the major issue: the failed and corrupt and oppressive rule of `Ali `Abdullah Salih. And then this: " In the midst of two unfinished major wars, the United States has quietly opened a third, largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen. A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said. The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels." Nowhere does it say that many of the conflicts in Yemen, like the Huthi rebellion and the Southern separatist movement have nothing to do with Al-Qa`idah. And the US is involved in the Yemeni wars not only against Al-Qa`idah. Patraeus admitted to Al-Arabiyya that the US navy is imposing a blockade to prevent Huthi rebels from importing weapons. That is not about Al-Qa`idah either.

Iran: Revolution versus Revolution

Yesterday, I was expecting to be mad at Aljazeera. I was expecting that the relations between the Qatari Emir and the Iranian government would produce lame reports that would downplay the significance of the protests in Iran. Aljazeera--yet again--pleasantly disappointed me. It is not in any way covering up what is going on in Iran, and it is even citing--in the tradition of the journalistic standards of the New York Times--opposition websites. Al-Arabiyya TV (the private station of King Fahd's brother-in-law which now is largely run by the entourage of Prince `Azzuz) is going crazy. The propaganda work of AlArabiyya is out of all bounds now: there is no attempt even of covering news anymore: not in Iran, not in Yemen, and not in Palestine. It is really naked and vulgar House of Saud propaganda all day long, 24 hours a day. Aljazeera's coverage has been straightforward although it would have liked more discussion and lengthy reports. What can I say: many Arabs like Ahmadinad because he is the opposite of their leaders in standing up for Palestinians and sounding defiant against Western governments. But people--if you believe the trends in social science--follow the analytical recipe of Rational Choice Theory. They decide their own self-interest, first and foremost on the basis of what they know, or what they think they know, and based on their estimate of their own self-interests. I am quite impressed with the courage of the Iranian people: these are people who were courageous against the Shah dictatorship, and they are now being courageous against the clerical dictatorship. In fact, I was so impressed with the courage of the Iranian people that I felt most jealous. Why can't we see those scenes in Damascus, Cairo, Riyadh, Amman, etc? Have Arabs become that numbed and that tranquilized and that domesticated by their oppressive regimes? Or is that a sign of hope, and you need a measure of hope to rebel and protest? Or is this the impact of more than 300 TV satellite stations approved by the House of Saud? But the Iranian people will not take no for an answer, and it does not matter anymore whether Ahmadinajad won or did not win the election. People are rightly fed up with the lousy Revolution itself, and with those stale slogan, and with that Guardianship of the Jurisconsult (as Hamid Enayat translated in that excellent chapter on it in James Piscatori's edited book, Islam in the Political Process) doctrine, which should be opposed, whether it appears in Iran or in Lebanon. At least in Lebanon, Hizbullah read the writings on the wall a few years ago, and the party has become largely embarrassed by the doctrine--or so it seems to me. Guardianship of the Jurisconsult is sectarianism within sectarianism. I remember as a college student being frustrated with the enthusiasm that some leftists like Adonis (yeah, he was a leftist, believe it or not back then), Anour Abdel Malik, and Michel Foucault. And of course many Arab nationalists and fake Arab liberals (like Hazim Saghiyyah) were praising the "authenticity"---don't you hate that word?--of the Islamic Revolution. If Ahmadinajad has any sense or respect for people he would resign. Hell, if there is any respect for people on the part of the leaders, the Supreme Leader would submit a Supreme Resignation. Of course there are creeps who are trying to hedge their bets and see how things turn: I really worry that corrupt Khumayniyite, like Rafsanjani or Moussavi, would seize power and betray the aspirations and dreams of the young. I saw footage of the demonstrators and they were very young, although I noted the absence of women among them. But then again: it would not surprise me if a sexist revolution is replaced by a sexist revolution. But the people may now be leading Moussavie and other lousy leaders, and not the other way round. Personally, I find it hard to not applaud the protests by the young against a corrupt and oppressive revolution, which carries the banner of religion to boot. The Iranian government now is at a crossroad: it can either cracks down more and more, and arrests and kills as Khumayni was fond of doing, or it can open it and submit concession. The latter course is the Gorbachev course would eventually lead to the dismantlement of the regime. So I am hoping for the worst for the regime, while I have no hope for next government in Iran, if the regime is overthrown. I can see the situation descending into civil wars of sorts: there are basis of support for the regime and those can get the support of the regime to go against their rivals in the streets. But I saw an interview with deputy chief of Tehran police and I was struck by his defensive and subdued tone. When the elements of the regime start to backtrack or start to change tone, it is a sign that people are scrambling for cover. And for any supporter of the Palestinians and their support for their protest against savage Israeli occupation, can't but extend sympathy to the students who simply want to remove the heavy hand of the government from their lives. Having said all that, it is just dumb at this point, as I read about Obama's new war in Yemen in the New York Times, to discount the dirty hand of US/Israel/Saudi Arabia in Iranian affairs. This does not stigmatize the protesters but it stigmatize their leaders and some members. Just read All the Shah's Men and know what I mean. Of course, Abbas Milani in his article in the New Republic--what a choice to write about revisionism of Iranian history--now absolves the US government of responsibility for the coup and blames Khumayni for the coup. For him, Roosevelt of the CIA was working for Iranian cleric. Now let us go to the coverage: now while I respect the practice of the New York Times to cover Iran from Toronto, I believe that we don't have a clear picture of what is happening. This is why I am not sure that we can announce the death of the regime. And I read in the first section of the Iran article in the paper edition of the New York Times (from Toronto of course) a reference to witnesses cited by website. So the New York Times relies in its coverage on its correspondent in Toronto who relies on Websites who rely on unnamed witnesses in Iran. That is called journalism. Can you imagine the New York Times following that formula in covering Israeli crimes against the Palestinians? And to my surprise, the New York Times added this today (not in the paper edition but in the web version): "Foreign journalists have been banned from covering the protests, and the reports could not be independently verified." It is time for that caveat, and it should be added to every article on daily basis. Now let us turn to another element of the coverage. Let us face it, the protest movement in Iran is no more peaceful. Yet, I don't see those Western liberals calling on Iranians to stick to peaceful protests the way they hector Palestinians on a daily basis. Look at this: "In some parts of Tehran, protesters pushed the police back, hurling rocks and capturing several police cars and motorcycles, which they set on fire. Videos posted to the Internet showed scenes of mayhem, with trash bins burning and groups of protesters attacking Basij militia volunteers amid a din of screams. Onevideo showed a group of protesters setting an entire police station aflame in Tehran. Another showed people carrying off the body of a protester, chanting, “I’ll kill, I’ll kill the one who killed my brother.”" I don't know about you, but that does not sound like the Gandhi style protest that Palestinians are requested to emulate. Also, can you imagine the reactions of the US government is such protests are mounted against the Saudi or Egyptian government? Just two weeks ago, Jeffrey Feltman (the fanatic and rabid Zionist who runs the Middle East at the US Department of State, and who assumes that sampling of Middle East food is all that training in Middle East studies that one needs) said in Bahrain that his government supports the ugly war by the Yemeni government against rebels in the South AND in the North because he said that a government can't stand by while a protest movements takes place within its borders. Just two weeks ago. And did you read the statement by the White House yesterday? Nauseating. Of course, no one believes that US government cares one bit about the people of Iran, except of course those who are eager to appear on CNN to see their faces while they praise Obama and hail his leadership and expect him to liberate Iran for them.

PS I apologize that I was not able to be in Toronto. As is known, Toronto offers the best view of Iran from anywhere around the world.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saudi-Yemeni-US massacres in Yemen

I have been receiving links and pictures claiming to show scenes from victims of Yemeni-Saudi-US bombings in Yemen. I can't verify the authenticity of those pictures. (thanks Xavier)

A new category of crime in Israel: the digrace unto the nations

"In addition to charges of incitement and throwing stones, Abu Rahma was charged with illegal weapons possession due to his alleged possession of M16 rifle bullets and gas and concussion grenades - which, the indictment said, "the accused and his associates used for an exhibition that showed people the means used by the security forces.""

Israeli (in)justice system: and the propaganda media of Israeli murders

"There is serious concern that IDF troops acted as executioners in the Friday night operation during which three Fatah terrorists involved in a West Bank shooting attack were killed, Human rights group B'Tselem stated Saturday." Look at the language of the Jerusalem Post: it talks about "terrorist involved". It is not in doubt. There are no suspects. Israel manages to accuse, try, convict, and sentence Palestinians without even bothering with a legal due process.

Israel has permitted the Palestinian forces

"Israel has permitted the Palestinian forces deployed in the area of Nablus to continue their activity beyond regular hours in order to allow them to continue their search unhindered. Under normal circumstances, PA security forces work until the early evening hours."


If every Palestinian forgives Israel for its crimes, I won't. Never.

This is Zionism

"In a report marking the first anniversary of the war, the Dameer Centre for Human Rights reported "high levels of deformed births and miscarriages", and that the use of radioactive and toxic ammunition by the Israeli army on Gaza resulted in significant deterioration in the health of Palestinians. The report was based on a survey that found that health and environmental conditions in the Gaza Strip are worsening by the day as a result of Israel's aggression and border closure by occupying forces for the third consecutive year." (thanks Marcy)

The lies of the New York Times: and the sneaky correction and editing of headlines and articles on the website

This should be a regular feature: how the New York Times now regularly changes headlines and texts after they appear in the paper edition of the Times. The headline of the article of Ethan Bronner (the chief justifier of Israeli killings and murder for the paper, assisted by a couple of token natives who sign their names to articles, before they complain in private about the articles themselves) as it appeared in my morning edition of the Times was: "Israeli Army Kills Suspects in Jewish Settler's Death". Now the article was quite outrageous on many levels. So even when the Palestinians are killed, the story feature an Israeli "victim". But the headline was also outrageous on another level: Israel killed six Palestinians in total: three in the West Bank and three in Gaza, but the headline makes a generalization about the killing of the six, as if it was one "operation" in response to the killing of an Israeli "victim". Another level is the use of the word "suspect". So for the Times, if you are a suspect, it is justifiable to kill you. The headline was later changed on the website to read: "Israel Kills Six Palestinians." But the damage has already been done despite the sneaky changing of the headline. But it does not end there. The text reads: " The Israeli military killed six Palestinians on Saturday, three in the West Bank whom it accused of killing a Jewish settler and three in Gaza who it said were crawling along the border wall planning an attack." Look at the last phrase. "Planning an attack"? How did Ethan Bronner know that? Did Ethan Bronner interview the dead bodies and they told him that they were planning an attack? And notice that a day when six Palestinians were killed in cold blood by Israeli terrorist soldiers, the entire article basically is based on accounts and justification by Israeli military sources. So when Palestinians are killed, the New York Times does not really cover their killing as much as it writes a long article to justify the killing by Israeli terrorist soldiers.

Ban on Minarets

It is quite amazing, if you think about it. A popular ban on minarets in Switzerland passed without a whimper or opposition in the West. In the Arab East, it also went down without a whimper, stories to the contrary in Zionist media notwithstanding. Arab governments were clearly under instructions from Washington to shut up, and they did shut up and shut off their propaganda media which they unleashed against Danish cartoons. But think about the historical significance of the ban. Imagine if this was a ban on stars of david or of synagogues in a European country? There would be official bills of boycott for that country in the US congress. Can you imagine the liberal US press if this bigoted ban was directed against a Jewish minority in a European country?

Caldwell: a hero for the New York Times

I knew that this would happen. Ever since Caldwell published his book of hostility against all Muslims, I knew that he would become a hero for the New York Times and its editor. I knew that he would become a favorite reviewer for the Book Review section. Today, he was on the cover page.

A war on a civilian population

"Another key Israeli goal, evident in both the ongoing blockade as well as the brutal military assault of Operation Cast Lead, is to punish the civilian population in the hope of turning them against Hamas. In early 2006, an advisor to Ehud Olmert, the then Israeli prime minister, said that "the idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet" in order to pressure the elected Hamas-majority government. In September 2007, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported on the Israeli military's plans "to limit services to the civilian population in Gaza" in order "to compromise the ability of Hamas to govern". It was this logic that shaped Israel's military operations which, in the words of the UN's Goldstone report, were "directed by Israel at the people of Gaza as a whole, in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population"." (thanks Ben)

What is not fit to print

The massive demonstration for `Ashurah in the southern suburbs of Beirut on a winter day was quite unprecedented. I don't know of an official estimate of the crowd, but they were hundreds of thousands. Much smaller demonstrations in Iran or around the Hariri tomb get so much Western press coverage. This one will be ignored in the Western media. The secular New TV began its news broadcast by noting about the massive size of the crowd.

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

"Few Israeli leaders showed any empathy for the Palestinian tragedy. But early in 1956, the Israeli chief of staff Moshe Dayan made a famous speech at the funeral of an Israeli commander killed on the border with Gaza. What, Dayan wondered, explained the Palestinians’ “terrible hatred of us”? Then he answered his own question: “For eight years now they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.” He added that Israelis needed to be “ready and armed, tough and harsh.” What this meant in practice became clear as Israeli troops took over Gaza six months later. The killings in Khan Younis were relatively straightforward, according to eyewitnesses and a few survivors. The men of the town were told to line up in the main square and were then systematically shot so their bodies lay in a long row. Some who stayed in their homes were killed there." It is not only Israeli leaders who did not show empathy: it is entire Israeli public. (thanks Olivia)

PS Sacco needs to send me a copy of his book NOW.

Now Western governments speak of "moderate Taliban": tomorrow they will speak of "moderate Al-Qa`idah"

"German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg says democracy according to western ideals cannot be achieved in Afghanistan and that moderate Taliban members should be represented in the Afghan government." (thanks MH)

The Journalistic standards of the New York Times Spread to Arab media

We know how the New York Times has been covering Iranian developments from Toronto relying on websites as in " the Web site said." Now other news sources are following. Reuters quoted "Iran website" (it thinks there is only one website in Iran; Al-Arabiyya (the site of the private station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) cites two "reformist" websites; and Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat (the propaganda mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his kids) cite "reformist" websites--and who knows about reform and its definition more than Saudi princes--and "text messages." (thanks Osama)

Remembering Tiberias

In memory of Anis Sayigh who died the other day, I am posting an interview with him regarding his memory of Tiberias. When Palestine is liberated, we need to name a library or a university after him in Palestine. (thanks Sami)

Saudi media: romantacizing Bin Laden

By the way, you need to note a trend I have been observing in Saudi media. There is a new cult romanticization of Bin Laden in Saudi media. There is an effort to focus on Dhawhiri and to spare Bin Laden the negative press. In fact, the (vulgar) propaganda mouthpiece of Prince Salman and his kids (Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) have been printing various magazine-style pictures of Bin Laden family members. This is not surprising: remember that all Saudi media have moved away suddenly from negative portrayal of Saddam because their agenda of sectarian agitation required it. And remember that I have always been of the view that Bin Laden may be hiding somewhere that is not Pakistan or Afghanistan. And remember what a footnote of the official Sep. 11 Report said: that a House of Saud prince whisked Bin Laden out of the kingdom when he left for Sudan. And if you link that to the open alliance between the House of Saud and the Taliban, you understand. Even Western press admitted that members of Karzai government have met with Taliban representatives at dinner parties hosted by House of Saud.

Saudi Wahhabi Physiognomy: this man should be teaching at KAUST

Comrade Tarif Khalidi sent me this (I cite with his permission): "I didnt want your blog to miss out on one of the funniest stories in years. It appeared on p.1 of yesterday's Al-Hayat (26/12/09) and concerns a Saudi physiognomist (!!), a certain Dr (!!) Mubarak al-Ashqar, who is quoted as having analyzed the photographs of two Qa`ida operatives, Sa`id alShihri and `Abdullah al-`Asiri, to reach the following conclusions: "People with a cleft nose like the nose of Sa`id al-Shihri pursue wealth irrespective of means, are avid for power and control, and harbor a deep malice while their daily dealings are characterized by cunning. Such people possess a strong influence on others and can persuade others through diverse means. This is shown by the regions of the face and its divisions, where the upper lip is thin. They are also eloquent and this is shown through the length of the lower lip." Dr al-Ashqar also pointed out that " the forehead of this wanted man al-Shihri appears in the photo to be square in shape which means he does not possess a high degree of concentration and sustained thinking." As for `Asiri (who carried out the failed assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad bin Nayif)the diagnosis is as follows: "His nose, short at the top and long at its end, indicates a person without ambition who executes whatever is asked of him. It also indicates a person of no culture who bears a grudge against society, shown by the cleft in his chin. His forehead is square in shape which means that the stupidity ratio in him is high."God save us from cleft noses, thin upper lips, square foreheads and cleft chins...But while we're at it, perhaps you might ask Dr (!!) Mubarak al-Ashqar to supply us with his photo."

Ex-Mossad Agent with pictures of his servants

Look at the pictures of his servants behind him.

PS I have posted this picture before when it first appeared in the Israeli press two years or so ago, but I am re-posting because some of you have not seen it before. For those who asked me, the Mossad servant to the right, is none other than Mustafa Barazani.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A threatening letter to Santa Claus

Omar Nashabbah sends a threatening letter to Santa.

Freedom of Expression: Lebanese style

Today, the Lebanese president, Michel Sulayman, offered his opinion on freedoms of expression. He said that democracy allows for differences of opinion, provided that opinions are not "biased" or "extremist." Kid you not. Sulayman is working on volume two of John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.

Friendliest to Israel?

Who devises the criteria? (thanks Matt)

A former correspondent of the New York Times shows his ignorance (or his malfeasance): he just wants to absolve Israel

Look what he says here: "Israel and Egypt have locked the gates to Gaza. Israel's closure is more understandable than Egypt's, given that Cairo pretends to be the Palestinian's greatest friend and protector." What? You are surprised about Egyptian regime's behavior? When the US and Israel arm and finance and support and order this regime? And who ever said that Mubarak's regime is the "greatest friend and protector" of the Palestinians? Are you confusing Mubarak with Nasser? And to feign innocence as Brinkley does is not cute at all. As if Brinkley does not know that Egyptian imposes the siege by order of the US/Israel. (thanks Christopher)

A Mossad agent shows the knowledge of the Mossad

""We asked ourselves, 'How can this be?"' Tsafrir said. "We concluded that the Shiites, as an extreme sect, were more likely to do things of this kind. We asked ourselves if it was possible the Palestinians would follow their lead, but thought there was no chance because the Palestinians were Sunnis and more moderate." "We were wrong," Tsafrir said."

A retired Lebanese general shows his racism

Elias Hanna will sound like an Arab nationalist when speaking to Al-Manar or NBN and he can sound pro-Hariri and pro-Phalanges in Saudi media. That is how principled he is. But look at this racism regarding the shooting at a bus of Syrian civilians: "Retired Lebanese Army General Elias Hanna told The Daily Star that incident was a relatively minor security breach. “I don’t think this is too important, maybe the timing is important but the damage could have been more,” he said. “The weapons used should have killed more people, so maybe this is a marginal incident.”... “The person killed is not of high use, it is not a mass demonstration or a large explosion that killed many people.” " (thanks Khalil)

Snoop Dogg and Hummus

Lebanese can celebrate. Snoop Dogg approves of Beirut. (page 9). (thanks P.)

The collaborators are "determined and impressive"

"Sources in the IDF lauded Saturday the Palestinian security establishment for its conduct following the shooting ambush Thursday, in which Meir Avshalom Hai was killed, calling it "determined and impressive."" (thanks Olivia)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: supporter of Israel wars and Cedar and Batata Revolution

"By now there is little doubt that hypocrisy has become Washington's standing policy on foreign affairs. What is astounding is the lack of shame in such overt duplicity as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-Fla.) accusations in her Dec. 14 Times Op-Ed article that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorists -- when she herself has a track record of supporting terrorists." (thanks Dina)

Virgin Mary in Botox

In Beirut, where else.

Major Israeli military operation: a terroirst weapons' cache was found

Haaretz was doing what Israeli media always do: provided justifications for Israeli murderous sprees. So to justify that Israeli killing raid in the West Bank, Haaretz posted this picture of the find. You will find more weapons at a peasant's house in South Lebanon. Hell, you will find more weapons in the house of any farmer here in the Central Valley. (thanks Sarah)

Anis Sayigh: and Israeli history of letter bombs

Anis Sayigh is a most gentle yet fierce individual. This Palestinian (brother of Fayiz Saghigh and Yusuf Sayigh and Tawfiq Sayigh) studied at AUB after the Nakbah and later earned his PhD in Islamic history from Cambridge University. He (like his brothers) was an early supporter of the SSNP, but later left the party. People may not know that one of his earliest books is a critical study of the Lebanese sectarian system (Lubnan At-Ta'ifi): the book has been long out-of-print and I was only able to find a copy of it in the US at Widener Library at Harvard. When I told him that I had a hard time locating the book in the US, he said that it is also hard to locate in the Middle East. He quickly turned his attention to the Palestinian question, and devoted a lifetime for that question. He was very militant--like me--on Palestinian issues and did not believe in compromise with Israel, and would not accept the two-state solutions. He was a rejectionist--and proudly so--regarding the final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I did not know him over the years, but six years ago, I received a message at my hotel that Anis Sayigh wanted to meet with me. He then visited me at my hotel and then invited me to his house. I was rather surprised at his condition. He can barely see and needs to be held by the hand when walking in the street, and when you shake his hand, you feel that his hand is missing fingers. You see he was instrumental in the work of the Palestine Research Center and ran it tightly like a professional think-tank. The Israeli invading army in 1982, stole all the contents of the center and photocopied them before they returned some of them. But then again: Israeli occupation soldiers steal everything: people in South Lebanon were aghast at the level of theft by Israeli occupation soldiers. They stole candy, cigarettes, money, and food from peasants' houses, but I remember people commenting that they never stole books. Of course, they also specialize in stealing lands from their rightful owners. The reason why Anis Sayigh's fingers are missing and his eyes badly damaged is because the terrorist regime that is Israel engaged in obsessive terrorist campaign of letter bombs especially in the 1970s, including against people like Anis who never held a gun in their lives. On Junly 18, 1972 a Bank employee in Beirut, received a letter bomb that exploded in his face. The very next day, Anis Sayigh who was then director of the Palestine Research Center in Beirut, recived a letter bomb from the Mossad. On October 25th, 1972 Mustafa Zaid was paralyzed in Tripoli, Libya from an Israeli letter bomb. On October 26th, 1972, two employees of another bank in Beirut were seriously wounded by an Israeli letter bomb. The same day, an Egyptian police officer was was injured from Israeli letter bombs. On November 29th, 1972, Omar Sufan, representative of the Red Crescent in Stockholm, lost his finger from an Israeli letter bomb. On the same day, a Palestinian student leader in Germany, Adnan Hammad, was seriously injured from an Israeli letter bomb (notice that they send them to arrive at different targets on the same day, or within a day or two). The very same day, three employees at the Tunis post office sere seriously injured from an Israeli letter bomb. On November 30th, 1972, Ahmad Awadallah, a Palestinian student leader in Denmark, lost his arm to an Israeli letter bomb. And there are tens upon tens of letter bombs that Israel has sent over the years, beginning with the 1940s, when they were sent to British targets. Israel is the natural mother/father of Al-Qa`idah and of all other terrorist groups in the 20th century. And you want me to ever forgive Israel for its crimes to ever accept making peace with that terrorist entity? But...Anis Sayigh survived and continued to work despite his injuries and permanent disabilities. His lifetime project was the Palestinian Encyclopedia but Yasser `Arafat (the worst Palestinian leader, ever and the natural father/mother of Muhammad Dahlan and other collaborators of recent years) obstructed the effort at every level. Sayigh wrote his memoirs two years ago and I wrote about it here and I recommend that you read it (you may look up my review here). His memoirs has quite a bit about his conflict with Arafat. Sayigh invited me to speak to a group of mostly retired Palestinian professionals in Beiurt, and he was interested in thoughts about the future of the Palestinian cause, and the orientations of the US Congress on Palestine. Sayigh never wavered over the years, and he made sure when I met him to express to me his disagreements with the political positions of his newphew, Yazid Sayigh. Like me, Anis Sayigh was very critical of Yasser `Arafat (the man who is not dead enough) and he blamed him for many of the setbacks that afflicted the Palestinian cause in the last few decades. Sayigh is one of those principled Palestinians whose principledness made life more difficult for him. Today, I received the news that Anis Sayigh has died. I kept thinking: no matter how many of us die, there will be new rejectionist Arabs who will devote their lives to the lifetime goal of liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea. That is why, Israel's years are numbered no matter how many jets they accumulate and how much they add to their WMD arsenals.

Israel's killing spree: Al-Arabiyya TV provides legitimization

So Israel killed five Palestinians today, including members of Fath--the surrogate militia that is now controlled by Israel. Al-Arabiyya TV (the private station of King Fahd's brother-in-law) referred to the murders as "a military operation."