Sunday, April 30, 2006
It's about a Qatari woman, a sheikah, who ran away and married an Egyptian man. Her family had her arrested in Cairo and brought back to Qatar by force. The husband was offered two million dollars to divorce her, but refused. She's imprisoned in her family's compound and denied her human rights.
"During the eight years in which Mofaz headed the defense establishment - four years as chief of staff and four as defense minister - he did everything he could to derail any chance of an accord with the Palestinians. We are not only talking about his inhumane policy toward the entire Palestinian people, but also his systematic effort to destroy the Palestinian Authority and not leave a trace of it, lest Israel have a partner for peace. Mofaz is not only responsible for countless unnecessary victims, but also for the destruction of the infrastructure of moderate Palestinian leadership. From this perspective, the Hamas government and the impasse we now face are the direct result of his policy. The person who called for liquidating Yasser Arafat and ordered the bombing of the PA's installations bears heavy responsibility for the rise of the Hamas alternative. If only for this failure, Mofaz should have paid the price with his cabinet seat long."
The part in the article about "morality" and "purity of arm" is wishful thinking on Levy's part: there is no morality to the occupation.
The poster was created as marketing gimmick to boost business during the World Cup--the flags are of the participating countries. And as we all know, when it comes to whore mongering, it's equal opportunity.
Of course, this story is great fodder for the anti-Muslim grinding machine. It's talked about as an example of how Muslims are forcing their values on us enlightened westerners and as an example of Muslim violence.
Frankly, I think Muslims should move to Sweden. Prostitution has been made illegal there because those repressed Swedes decided that selling sex is dehumanizing.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Now, he just has to wait in the very very very long line like everyone else.
What I find odd about these threatening leaflets by supposedly supporters of al Zarqawi is that they appear only two weeks after one of Hamas leaders warned in his Friday political sermon that if Hamas's governemnt falls, al Zarqawi will be the alternative. These remarks upset lots of people who felt they were being threatened.
I'm sure some would say that Fateh is coming up with this gimmick to boost their popularity. Could be.
But the pro-Hamas, anti-Fateh propaganda has reached such an ugly and scary pitch that violence seems the logical conclusion. Dahlan, who is not innocent, is nontheless being portrayed as an evil figure of mythic proportion.
What a mess!
On a note related to Fateh/Hamas rivalry, Fateh defeated Hamas for the student council elections at Al Quds Open University (which is traditionally a Fateh stronghold).
It is important to remember that neither the settlers, nor the soldiers who are supposedly "protecting" the children should be there. In fact, if the soldiers weren't there to begin with, as occupying force, there would be no settlers.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Omar Sharif told the Saudi singer Waad that she's beautiful but she does not look Arab because she's too dark.
Where is he from again?
Here's another Waad song: "I'm not a toy in your hands." The vidoe clip for the song (not here) is interesting: in it Waad appears training in an army boot camp; she's the only woman. She said the idea of the clip was hers.
If change is coming at the hands of Rotana and Prince Walid ben Talal, so be it.
But before I have my feminist credentials revoked for saying that, let me add that I have no illusions. Rotana's bottom line is money, not the "ladies'" liberation. Some of the music and video clips produced and distributed by it is not advancing the cause of Arab women much. But here it seems we have a momentary intersection of interests between making money and social change. Sadly, in the age of Ben Ladens, the Ben Talals are revolutionaries.
Still, real, permanent, and meaningful social change will come at the hands of the "ladies" themselves. (Can I have my papers back, please?)
Two years ago I closely followed the publishing scandal of Norma Khouri, an Arab-American "writer." She wrote a book that was packaged as an autobiography, in which she exposed "honor killing" in Jordan by telling the story of a friend of hers who was murdered because she was a Muslim who fell in love with a Christian. Khouri, because she knew what happened, was supposedly on the run for fear for her life. And while in hiding, she came up with her gem Honor Lost. Well, a book by an Arab woman, an ethnic, about how horrible Arab men are to their women, is bound to be published, to win a prize, and to catapult its author to fame and fortune.
But it turns out that Khouri is a fake and that she invented the whole thing. She didn't grow up in Jordan, as she claimed, but in Chicago. She had more than 70 factual errors in the book that the editor or publisher didn't bother to check: things like the Jordan river flows in the middle of Amman, and Kuwait borders Jordan etc. It also turns out she had a criminal record and the FBI were interested in her for fraud schemes against the elderly. The book, of course, was pulled out of the market and Khouri disappeared into infamy.
The first to blow the whistle on Khouri was a Jordanian women's NGO that work against honor killing. See these women are Jordanians, who lived in Jordan, and who knew, among other things, where the Jordan river flows. And they are not waiting for Khouri or her American readers to help enlighten them about honor killing. Of course, no one listened to them then and it was only after an Australian journalist ran the story that Khouri was exposed.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
So he won't be charged.
He will be released. With an apology for false arrest and endangering his life.
On Mars, maybe. But not in Israel. They will still try him on "security related offences."
These could be anything: from picking his nose to wearing boxer shorts. End result: Saadat will remain in jail because they want him in jail.
April 18, 2006
Math teacher arrested
New York City - (AP) At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.
At a morning press conference, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math's instruction.
"Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Gonzales said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'there are 3 sides to every triangle'."
When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math's instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes."
Monday, April 24, 2006
Now, that's ingenious. Why didn't anyone think about it before?
The reasons why women weren't allowed to be in stadiums varied: they didn't want women to watch men wearing shorts (and we all know how women go wild, simply wild, when they catch a glimpse of a man's nobby knee). Or they didn't want women exposed to the rude language sports fans use. In both cases, the ban was paternalistic to "protect" women.
The reason given now by the Iranian president for allowing women is sexist in a different way: women have a "civilizing" effect on men because, the underlying assumption is, their "nature" is different. I guess he never heard women curse. They can be pretty good at it.
He also said that the in re-enforcing the veil, the government will take the "soft" approach.
I wonder what that would be? A velvet-lined whip?
But Mu'taz has been to jail.
He was arrested by Israeli soldiers because, they claim, that he threw stones towards them and the Apartheid Wall that stands 50 meters from his house. The father of the child insisted on going with his kid, who was screaming in terror. The father was hand-cuffed and both were kept in detention for 5 hours.
My only hope is that Mu'taz is too young to remember this episode in his life.
I'm optimistic. I'm assuming that he will live long enough to have memory.
This is the kind of lazy feminist talk that drives me nuts! Maybe if Kuttab ventures a bit out of her insulated office into campus (I wouldn't suggest going outside the Ramallah-Jerusalem area because that may prove too much of a culture shock for her), she may see a different reality shaping up. She can keep saying we are "secular" from now till kingdom come, and that will have no effect on advancing women's rights. This is as wrong as saying that Palestinian society was and is and will always be "religious." Palestinian soceity and culture is not some reified thing that does not change. It's dynamic and subject to many forces and effects. Since the 1980s, the Islamist have been, and continue to be, the one major force which developed a coherent discourse about women; it is conservative if not reactionary, grounded in the "sacred" and effective in mobilizing women for the groups' political agenda.
When will feminists like Kuttab roll their sleeves up and counter the Islamists' social agenda head on? If they want Palestinian soceity to be secular, then they need to work on making it one, not assume that it is one.
And particularly because Hamas will not "force" the veil, it is crucial that feminists mobilize for good old fashioned grassroot work: this is were the fight is.
But that is dangerous work. We all know that.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Of course a woman showing a bit of ankle AND walking a dog is so subversive as to be unimaginable. That alone warrants developing the nuclear bomb.
Feryal Ghazzoul reviews Salma Khadra Jayyusi's latest anthology, Modern Arabic Fiction.
I value Jayyusi's efforts at translating Arabic literature into English; she is an institution in herself. I'm less impressed with her introductions, which tend to be on the conservative side (theoretically speaking).
Suhair Ramzi, who left acting 12 years ago, decided to come back. The actress,who was known for her "sexy" roles, is now wearing the hijab and going on about how much she regrets the old days.
I never liked her. I don't think I ever finished one movie she was in. She can't act.I think she should go back to retirement. (in Arabic)
Saturday, April 22, 2006
For this latest bloodshed, we have to thank Khalid Mash'al, the Hamas leader in Damascus. He gave a fiery speech yesterday, that was carried live on Al Jazeera for all to hear, in which he accused the Palestinian leadership (Abbas and co.) of colluding with Israel and the US against Hamas. He said many things that were inflamatory and pretty bad. I watched it and cringed. He was hyper and shrill. He used quite a bit of colloquial Arabic mixed with a heavy doze of Islamic language (quotes from the Qor'an, hadith, and stories from Islamic history). He taunted Abbas (without naming him) for condemning the latest suicide bombing, rhetorically asking: who is better, those who explode themselves in Tel Aviv or those who go there to eat and get drunk? He made the PA security sound as mercenaries who are bought and sold with money.
Naser el Deen al Sha'er, a Hamas minister, tried to distance the government from Mash'al (nice try) by saying that Mash'al is not an official spokesman for the government. Fateh accused Mash'al of fermenting a civil war.
On a related note, Fateh lost the Birzeit University Student Council elections to Hamas. Abbas's word "despicable" seemed to have played a part.
And the Jerusalem Post reports that Abbas has plans now to fire Haneyah and his cabinet.
Things do not look good.
A Palestinian woman trying to prevent Israeli soldiers from arresting her son during protests against the apartheid wall in Hebron.
Haartez, a liberal Israeli paper, calls the wall "a separation fence," which makes it sound harmless. I mean how bad can a "fence" be?
The more rightist Israeli establishment call it the "security fence." Not only it's an inoffensive, little "fence," it is beneficial for "security."
Friday, April 21, 2006
Does this mean that men can't buy clothes from women's stores? Can women buy clothes from men's stores? I'm sure the vigilant government will guide its people regarding all these crucial details.
I know some women like this ruling because it will make it more comfortable for them to shop and will open up employment for women. But the philospophical basis for this ruling is conservative: the aim is to "protect" women who are seen as minors. And this I don't like.Instead of legislation to "pretect" women (and infantalize them in the process), let's have legislation that gives them equal rights.
Growing up in Ramallah, I always bought my clothes from male shopkeepers because there were hardly any women in that field then (now there are more). In my experience, all shopkeepers were polite and professional but of course some were better than others at what they did. Perhaps the absence of negative experiences has to do with my Mom who had her own radar and would blacklist any merchant who didn't "look" right.
I think the domination of men in this line of work had more to do with class than gender. Shopkeeping, an urban job, was exclusively a male profession. Things were different with peasants. Farming women were the ones who went to market to sell their produce and their job was very public: they will sit in the middle of the Hesba (the vegtable market) or at the sidewalks in Jerusalem or Ramallah calling for their produce.Peasntn men hardly did that. Women were also the ones who went around selling milk and yogurt drink from house to house. I have fond memories of Salma, the woman who came around this time of the year with her "laban". God, that was tasty!!
I saw Ensler's Vagina Monologues when she performed it in DC and I liked it, except for the sketch about Afghanistan.That was lame. And then I read about the performance in Madison Square Garden during the Afghanistan war, when Oprah Winfrey perfomed the Afghanistan sketch. At the end of the verbal part she walked up to a burka-clad figure standing in the shadows behind her. Dramatically, Oprah unveils the silent Afghani woman, who emerges liberated from under her covers.
Ok, the unveiled woman was Afghani. But she was a Maoist activist with more radical views about women than anything Oprah has. But she played along.
That performance put me off Ensler and her play.
Manal al Dowayan is a Saudi woman photographer whose subjects are Saudi women. These are well-informed subjects, who have given their consent, discussed the concept the photographer had in mind, and posed.
Some of her pictures are part of the "Common Grounds" exhibit in London. Here are two articles: one in English and one in Arabic.
I think it is good that Arab women are being photographed by other Arab women; historically, they have been objects of the western gaze that de-humanized and exoticized them.
There is nothing new here. But this kind of article is another example of the fascination with the "motive" and "profile" of the suicide bomber (Western, Israeli, and Arab), and the lack of attention to the political groups that employ suicide bombers.
Some people may choose to praise hamas's pragmatism (to make the organization more palatable to the West). I prefer to point out their opportunism, which, according to my dictionary, is taking "advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end, often with no regard for principles or consequences" to make them unpalatable to the Palestininas.
The same article in the Palestinian daily Al Hayat al Jadeeda reports that Israeli soldiers have been entering Palestinians homes in such a way that terrorized the women and chidren.
مما أدى إلى إصابة عدد من الأطفال والنساء بحالة من الهلع والخوف
Only the women and children? I'm pretty sure that men too were terrorized by such searches. There is nothing shameful in saying that. Men, too, can be terrorized and are in fact every single day.
This is too much. Too much.
Bashiti points out what he calls "ideological terrorism" that deploys words like "martyrs' blood" and "jihad" to silence any critical examination of forms of resistance.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I liked Ahdaf Soueif's novel In the Eye of the Sun (thought it could have been 300 pages shorter), but could not finish The Map of Love (which could have been 400 pages shorter). The love story at the center of the second book, between an Egyptian man and an English woman, was too uncomplicated and boring for my taste. I wanted to smack the characters to get some tension going. I also think she worships Edward Said a bit too much: she recreated him in her novel as the ultimate romance hero.
This is what reminded me of Soueif.
ps. Kim Jensen, as far as I can tell from her photo on her website, is not African-American (unlike what this essay says).
From an interview with Abdul- Aziz al Duwaik, Hamas speaker of the Palestinian Parliament:
Question: "How will Hamas implement Islamic (Sharia) Law?
Answer: We began by implementing Sharia law in our own way, and we will continue. Eighty per cent of women have a cover on their heads according to the principles of Islam. We did not force anyone, we just preach according to the principles of Islam and the people accept it. Concerning alcoholism, it is forbidden in Islam, and even the West says it is wrong to be addicted to alcohol. Experience in Germany, the United States and Switzerland proves that what Islam taught us 1,400 years ago is still valid."
So Islam is against alcoholism as opposed to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and all other religions that are FOR alchoholism? Or maybe it is seculars and atheists who are hardened supporters of alcoholism?
Now, I feel enlightened.
This line of argument is typical. It is very effective at silencing any and all criticism of suicide bombings. How dare we debate whether it is right or wrong or question its efficacy when someone has just committed the ultimate sacrifice? It also obscrues the obvious: that the suicide bombing is not about the suicide bomber. It is about a political group who recruited and trained and decided to dispatch this man at a certain time and place hoping to achieve particular effects. Everyone knows that the Islamic Jihad and the Aqsa Brigades are using suicide bombings now for the same exact reasons Hamas used them before: for factional political gain. Make no mistake about it: this young man, who according to some reports is 16, gave his life and took the lives of others so that a couple of political factions/militias improve their political standing in the West Bank and Gaza in relation to other groups.
It is this that we the Palestinians should scrutinize. All other talk about the suicide bomber himself is distracting and irrelevant.
Similarly, the Israeli focus on the suicide bomber is a distraction from occupation and colonial repression.
The story is brutal in its exposition of the way the ideology of motherhood (constructed by religion, tradition, and nationalism) is manipulated to exploit the bodies of poor women.
So when I saw this story in The LA Times, I immediately thought of Devi's Jashoda. These poor Indian women are now renting their wombs for wealthy couples who want kids. The women are doing it for money, with the encouragement of the husbands; and for the American couples they go to India because it's "cheap."
Why don't rich people just chop up poor people and eat them. I heard it's good for the health.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
No one. I mean NO ONE is as delighted by the latest suicide bombing as Abdel Bari Atwan. The man is going to pop a vein from all that excitement. I mean if he's so impressed and so convinced that these are the most glorious acts of resistance, why doesn't he volunteer himself? (in Arabic)
The man is such a hypocrite that in the middle of his "Ode" to the bombings, he insults the reader by saying that he is against killing civilians and does not support sucide bombings. I guess he only praises and celebrates them, but he does not support them. There is a difference and if you don't get it, it's because you lack the eloquence and liguistic acrobatics that Atwan possess in abundance.
I find it curious that this picture is the one chosen to go with his essay, which is titled "The Palestinians Will Not Kneel). Why this photo in particular?
In the meantime, Palestinian president Abbas, who is not known for his eloquence (which is fine by me), seems to have touched a nerve when he called the bombing "despicable." Some militias are asking him to apologize.
Although the Germans are angry, a Third World War was NOT declared. Those Germans!!
Monday, April 17, 2006
In one of these Friday sermons, one of the Hamas parliamentary representatives threatened that if the Hamas government fall, bad things will happen, such as the Zarqawization of Palestine. According to him, if the moderate Hamas fails, then be ready for the Zarqawi-style of only suicide bombings and exploding cars.
Several Palestinian commentators didn't like that threat one bit and came out against it in the local newspapers. But is that enough?
Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East is a new book edited by Brian Whitaker, The Guardian Middle East editor, and published by Saqi.
I won't judge a book by its cover; I'm planning on reading it and will post again then. So stay tuned.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
What we have here is a classic case of the uderdog bashing the underdog in the struggle to get a slice of the American pie. It seems that these days bashing Arabs has become a requirement for proving citizenship.
This brilliant idea is one of many that Kaitlin Flanagan has desigined particularly to bash working mothers. She may be a failed novelist, but she is the American media's darling, including The New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly where she is given a regular forum to dissiminate her originality.
I don't care how witty or pretty she is. She is a basher of working mothers, which puts her pretty much at the bottom of my reading list--right there with Friedman and Brooks. (and to get as far down I have to be a voracious reader when I'm 170 years old).
There are problems with the argument. Some women did well under Saddam, but not all. Saddam dragged his country into a war with Iran and later Kewait, and his regime benefitted from the sanctions, all of which were devastating for the majority of women of Iraq. His totalitarian regime was bad for men and women. So to say that women did well under Saddam is a one tenth of a truth. Yes, if they supported the regime, they could be elected. Women could move around more freely then than now because it was a totalitarian police regime that imposed internal 'stability' which came at a high cost. So they didn't have the chaos that they have now, but that has nothing to do with "respect."
What I mean to say is that I find articles and surveys like this meanigless under scrutiny. Yes, Iraqi women now are experiencing such violence that makes their conditions at any other point in history seem better. But that is not saying much.
So stop the talk about how good Saddam was to women.
Friday, April 14, 2006
With the sad rain
Drenching my sad face,
I dream of a ladder of dust,
Collected from hunched backs
And hands clinging onto knees,
To mount to highest heaven
What becomes of our prayers and sighs.
O my beloved,
All the prayers and sighs,
All the laments and cries for help,
Millions of lips and hearts,
Through thousands of years and centuries,
Must be gathered somewhere in heaven,
These words of mine
Are now close to those of Jesus.
So let us await the tears of heaven,
Mohammad al Maghout
Translated by Mounah Khouri and Hamid Alger
from, Treasury of Arabic Love. Editor, Farid Bitar. New York: Hippocrene Books.
How can you prove that democracy has finally arrived in a country?
The bikini-clad woman on display in the free meat market place of the beauty pageant.
Granted, it's not a perfect democracy yet: the contestants had to wear an Abaya over the bikini and the event wasn't televised. And true, the winner (pictured above) abdicated her crown and moved to Jordan for fear for her life. But still it is a sign of hope. Who knows maybe the Iraqis will even have a Primeminister one day. No, he does not need to be in a bikini--thank God. (in Arabic)
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
In my school days in El Bireh in the West Bank, we didn't go on many field trips. And when we did, it usually was to Jericho: to Ein Jedi and al Fashkha. Although we didn't swim (because none of us knew how and our sneaky teachers didn't tell us that we would not sink), we enjoyed looking at the sea, playing with the water, and having a picnic.
Now, this kind of field trip is no longer possible for the Palestinians because choking points make it easier for them to take field trips to the moon than to Jericho. In a few years, this field trip will be no longer possible for both Palestinians and Israelis because the Israelis are drying up the sea. Must be part of their plans to "make the desert bloom."
Some people are using DNA testing for all the wrong reasons.
I was getting annoyed reading the above article, then I remembered a Pete Seeger's song that I haven't listened to in a while (misplaced the CD in the latest move). Below are the words, and you can listen to a snippet here.
Finally, here's a little story that Seeger tells:
"A man asked where he could find a restaurant serving pizza. He was directed down the street, and when he got there, it was a Chinese restaurant. He went in anyway, and sure enough, they had very good pizza. He asked the waiter, 'How come a Chinese restaurant serves pizza?' The waiter replied 'Well, you see, we have a large Jewish clientele.'"
ALL MIXED UP
You know this language that we speak,
is part German, Latin and part Greek
Celtic and Arabic all in a heap,
well amended by the people in the street
Choctaw gave us the word "okay";
"Vamose" is a word from Mexico way.
And all of this is a hint I suspect of what comes next.
I think that this whole world
Soon mama my whole wide world
Soon mama my whole world
Soon gonna be gettin' mixed up.
Soon mama my whole world
Soon mama my whole wide world
Soon mama my whole world
Soon gonna be gettin' mixed up.
I like Polish sausage, I like Spanish rice,
and pizza pie is also nice
Corn and beans from the Indians here
washed down by German beer
Marco Polo traveled by camel and pony,
he brought to Italy, the first macaroni
And you and I as well as we're able,
we put it all on the table
There were no red-headed Irishmen
before the Vikings landed in Ireland
How many Romans had dark curly hair
before they brought slaves from Africa?
No race of man is completely pure,
nor is anyone's mind, that's for sure
The winds mix the dust of every land,
and so will woman and man.
This doesn't mean we will all be the same,
We'll have different faces and different names
Long live many different kinds of races
It's difference of opinion that makes horse races
Just remember the rule about rules, brother
What could be right for one could be wrong for the other
And take a tip from La Belle France: "Viva la difference!"
Words and Music by Pete Seeger (1960)
© 1965 (renewed) by Stormking Music Inc.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Really? I wonder why! Could it have anything to do with winning the elections? Nay! That would be too... (what's a polite word? Damn the English language!).. calculating? No way. They can't be so cynical and manipulative, can they now?
Needless to say, these same Hamas leaders will never say such things to their own people.To the Observer, to Kofi Anan, to my mother in-law, maybe. But never ever to their own people, in whose name and flesh and blood they carry out these attacks.
But regardless of their motivations and intentions, it's a good thing that they are giving up suicide bombings. I'm beginning to think that maybe something good will come out of them winning the elections.
Hadeel is dead and except for her mother and father and brothers and sisters and a few neighbors, she will be forgotten. Another martyr. Her death will not stop the Israeli shelling, and it will not stop those who are launching the rockets. The occupiers and the "liberators" will carry on with their deadly game, their only concern is to score political points against their political rivals.
In this article (in Arabic) in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam, Hani al Masri is calling on those launching the Quassam rockets to stop. He has more reverence for them than I do. But I'm happy he is subjecting their actions to some scrutiny. About time.
Although I don't agree with all her views, I do take her seriously and listen to what she has to say. She is light years better than those who trash her (Camille Paglia, Kate Roiphe, and Noami Wolfe).
Saturday, April 08, 2006
"Playboy" is now available in Indonesia. Muslim leaders are attacking it; they condemn it as a form of "moral terrorism" and vow to remove it from the markets by force. Other readers are disappointed and want their money back because they didn't find "naked" centerfolds as they were expecting--just women showing their thighs and bellies. But I'm sure others were delighted by the "great articles" (to quote a friend). (in Arabic)
Speaking of good articles, I wonder what "Always Happy Early" is all about.
I'm sure he can be quite persuasive.
It's a shame that the Islamists are the only political group that has this broad understanding of "culture." Who is going to stand up to them? Who is going to risk the accusation of being pro "moral decadence"? Who is going to question their definitions and classifications?
When I taught at Al Najah University, I tried to show some films to my students--films like "Pride and Prejudice" "Emma." But I was told by the Chair that I can't show certain scenes: for instance, no kissing scenes, and no scenes showing women in those low-cut empire style dresses. My dear students even designed a special cardboad cutout that I could put in front of the projector to block out the offending scene. I protested, called it censorship, and refused to show the films altogether.
The point of the above story is that when they are talking "moral decadence" and "nakedness," they are not talking about strip clubs, nude colonies, and porn industry (non of which exist in Palestine). They are not talking about sexual abuse, domestic violence, lying leaders (all of which exist in Palestine). "Moral decadence" can be listening to un-Islamic music, giving an un-Islamic wedding, and wearing un-Islamic color.
What worries me is that people like to say that Palestinian society is "secular" and will never embrace such an agenda. This is how these people, mostly men, justify their passivity, silence, and, eventually, complicity.
Enough to say that in Gaza, an unveiled woman is referred to as "3aryaneh," which translates into "naked."
Friday, April 07, 2006
"Kullena Insan" "We're All Human" is a new Sameera Saeed song. It's in Arabic with a bit in English and French at the end. The words celebrate the unity of humanity despite differences of language, color, religion, etc. It's also a song for Egypt, Africa, soccer and dark-colored people.
It's nice seeing images of black and brown people in Arabic video clips.
A rare study in Syria about violence against women found that 1 in 4 women are beaten by the husband.(in Arabic)
Most common reasons given for the beatings are women's neglect of their household duties or asking the man too many questions.
Picture is of Ghada Shouaa, Syria's first Olympic gold medalist (heptathalon)
An article in Arabic about how Saudi women are re-designing and personalizing their Abayas (the garment worn over their clothes).
I will be more enthusiastic about this when wearing the Abaya stops being a patriarchal "law." If Saudi women love their Abayas so much, why does the state feel the need to legislate wearing this piece of clothing?
Give women the choice, then I'll promise I will wax lyrical about the beauty of the Abaya.
I was right (I love to say that). When news of that letter leaked, al Zahhar's office distributed copies to Palestinian reporters. When I say "copies" I'm using the word loosely. It's my way of engaging in some constructive ambiguity of my own. Doctored copies is more like it. And surprise, surprise, in these "copies" there is no mention of the two state solution or of living in peace with our neigbors (what neigbors? we live in a bubble). This copy is the one sent to Anan, it was said. Or, even better, this is the copy that we intended to send to Anan but you know "mistakes were made." The Hamas spokesman explained without blushing, which really shows you what a good spokesman he is, that the one Anan received was an earlier draft that al Zahhar revised but it was sent out by mistake. Yeah. Al Zahhar is really a careful writer who loves to revise his work. (I wish my students would learn from him).
He's as careful a speaker as he is a careful writer. The one-before- last mishap illustrates that really well. When he recently met with Chinese officials, he emerged from the meeting saying he was invited to China. He must have been really excited, because as we all know he loves to discover new continents and explore new countries so as to put them on the Palestinian map. But as we say in Arabic "ya farha ma tammat," or his joy was short lived. For it turns out that he wasn't invited. And the Chinese said so. We have no plans to receive a Palestinian delegation right now, they said, blushing profusely. Either al Zahhar's Chinese is not very good or the Chinese official's Arabic is iffy.
All I have to say is that as we all know the Chinese were always lazy about learning foreing languages.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Arab male singers have been at it lately. Pictures later.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
One interesting bit of information in the article: most kinds were banned in Sudan till the Islamist came into power and repealed the laws prohibiting it. They even issued a fatwa saying that the "Sunna" kind, which involves cutting off the clitoris or part of it, is a good deed. They made posters and printed books to publicize that fatwa.
Of course when female genital mutilation takes place in the US, in a Beverly Hills clinic, and costs $10,000, it's called "intimate makeover."
The Syrian poet and dramatist Mohammad al Maghout died recently. Below are two of his poems (from When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry: 1945-1987, ed. M. Asfour):
The Postman's Fear
send me all you've seen
of horror and weeping and boredom--
Fisherman on every shore, send all you know
of empty nets and whirling seas--
Peasants in every land,
send me all you have
of flowers and old rags,
of torn breasts,
and wrenched-out fingernails.
Send them to my address
in any cafe on any street in the world:
I am preparing a huge portfolio
on human suffering
to present to God
as soon as it is signed by the lips of the hungry
and the eyelids of the waiting.
But oh, you miserable ones everywhere,
I have a fear
that God may be 'illiterate.'
Oh, the dream ...
My glittering carriage smashed,
all of its wheels scattered like gypsies
to the world's end!
I dreamt of spring one night
and when I awoke
my pillow was heaped with flowers.
I dreamt of the sea once
and in the morning
my bed was filled with fish fins and seashells.
But when I dreamt of freedom,
spears encircled my neck
like the morning's halo.
You will never find me again
in the port or awaiting trains ...
You will find me up
in public libraries
sleeping on the maps of Europe
the sleep of the orphan on the sidewalk,
where my mouth spans more than one river
and my tears flow from one continent to the next.
I can't say I've had a hard life, but simply different.
My parents were always saying I was fat and that my clothes were way to tight. However, I was completely normal, if not underweight to start with.
I became bulimic when I was around 11. I can never really remember when the first time I threw up was. I know I was considering it way before 11 though.
I was raped right after I turned 13. I never ever told anyone. The guy raped me a few more times. I told him to please leave me the fuck alone. He stalked me for 5 months until he finally gave up. During that time period I grew very depressed. I started cutting many times a day. I would burn myself with matches, lighters, anything I could get ahold of.
I met this other guy a few weeks before I turned 14.
I started dating him. I thought I loved him.
I started having sex with him.
I got pregnant. I never told. I had a miscarrige. He never knew.
He stopped calling me in July. We would have been going out for 2 years this November. He only hit me once, but he was always saying I was worth nothing more than my mouth and my pussy.
I seem to attract people like that. I don't know why. It's like I'm too fat to get anyone good for me.
I'm trying to renew my self a little bit. I started teaching Yoga last year. I stopped this year to take dance. As of now I'm loving dance as much as I can. I take Ballet and Lyrical. Next year I'll be en pointe in ballet. I'm so happy!
I've somewhat given up on going so fast with guys and actually having a boyfriend. I'd rather have a boytoy. lol... There is this guy that has the great body I'm in love with. He's like 21 or something though. He likes me too, but I can't go anywhere with anyone that's older than 18 (parents rule). C'est La Vie I suppose...
Right now my stats are:
Age: 15 (almost 16)
Body Fat %: 13.4
Body fat %: 11
Monday, April 03, 2006
I love how Al 'Arabeya net never talks about similar "sensational" issues in Dubay. It definitely picks on Saudi Arabia. Intersexed, transsexual and transgendered people exist everywhere (or in the case of the second group would like to). And the interpretation given, that women do that because they believe men have a better deal in that society, is silly. What about the men who want to become women? And of course nobody is interested in what the people concerned say about why they want their sex changed: we are so busy analyzing and judging and being scandalized.
The tabloidy way these issues get reported convinces me that it's better not to report than to report in this way.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
According to this article, people in the Middle East spend over 2 billion dollars a year on weddings. Gulf countries are in the lead but also lots of middle class families. At the same time, in poorer countries like Egypt and Algeria, marriage is becoming beyond the finanical reach of many young couples. (in Arabic)
I hate weddings. I think people should marry quietly.
I'm glad to see that he is a proponent of "personal freedoms" in society. This, I must admit, is a fundamental change.
The writer of the article continues: وعندما يبكي الرجال، فان الأمر جد جلل، والمصيبة عظمى، وحجم الدمار كارثي., which translates as: "When men cry, then the issue is very serious, and the disaster huge, and the destruction of immense proportions."
I guess when women cry, it's less serious. They usually cry when they break a nail, or lose a son.
Why can't you report what happened, lament the destruction of the field, sympathize with the weeping man without putting women down?
He is so happy that Israel does not want to negotiate that he can hardly contain himself. "we told our people and tell them that there will be no negotiations." When did they do that? I don't remember reading anything about it in the Palestinian press. The Palestinian people are frustrated that Israel is not negotiating, which implies that they do want a negotiated solution. But Israel's rejection of negotiation got Zahhar off the hook. Now, he can just focus on building his Islamic State.
Al Zahhar was speaking his jems to a Chinese newspaper. I guess the opening up of new continents has begun.
Did you know that a quarter of all congressmen are evangelical Christians? Well, I didn't! And supposedly a quarter of all US voters are evangelical Christians (this makes US voters more religious than Palestinian voters: only %18 of Palestinians voted for Hamas because they support its religious ideology).
I always thought that Israelis should find these evagelical Christians scary. Because they really are scary. The reason they support Israel is that they want it destroyed for the Second Coming of Christ. Jews will be destroyed too. Unless they convert. Only 144,000 unconverted Jews will be saved.
If I were an Israeli, I would be scared out of my mind by these people. But I'm a Palestinian, which means that I'm really scared out of my mind by these people.
The movie, however, is mildly sexist. (I heard that groan: here she goes again, the humorless, killjoy feminist!) Well, it's mild. The boy woolly mammoth rescues the girl woolly mammoth, who, of course, was too stubborn to listen to his good advice and got them all in trouble (women!!).
On the other hand, there seems to be an attempt to counter the "Hottentot Venus" racist discourse (huh?!): the boy woolly mammoth pays the girl woolly mammoth the highest compliment a mammoth can pay: "Your Butt," he says, "is huge." Considering that the girl woolly mammoth is "played" by Queen Latifa, an African American,I thought that was interesting. Or maybe I'm just seeing things? Academics are often accused of that, you know.
"The Hottentot Venus" was a South African woman, Sara Baartman, who was brought to England and France in the 19th century and was exhibited naked to the public as a "freak" because she had big buttocks (which was characteristic of women in her tribe). Often described as "sullen," Baartman was miserable, became an alcoholic and died, probably of syphilis, 5 years later, at age 26. But Napoleon's Surgeon General dissected her, and cut out her sexual organs and pickled them in a jar. He also pickled her brain. The two jars and her skeleton were displayed in France until 1976. Post-apartheid South Africa asked for the remains of Baartman, who finally was given a decent burial in her homeland.
How the heck did I get from The Ice Age into "The Hottentot Venus"?!
Anyway, all the kids in the theatre cared about is that "he said 'butt'". That was hilarious.