Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Sort of like blogging.
One productive conversation I had was the day before with a New York City taxi driver. This city's taxi drivers, the immigrant variety in particular, are full of surprises. You never know what you will get. Hailing a taxi reminds you of what unwrapping a Christmas present used to feel like before the age of the Amazon.com wish list.
Because the driver of this cab had the new anthology of Arabic fiction lying on the front seat, I assumed he was an Arab (why would I assume that when the book is in English I have no idea!) "I know Arabic, but I'm not Arab," he said. When I asked him where he was from, he evaded me. Eventually, I learned that he was Sudanese. He identified as an African. He talked about Arab nationalism, Africa, the Islamist government in Sudan, the tribal leaders, his brother who was assassinated in 1996, and his mother and father who were still in Sudan. I mostly asked questions, and he was articulate but not bitter. He was interested in a solution and disappointed that the Sudanese government is uninterested in finding one.
He did say he liked Sudanese writer Al Tayeb Salih's novel Season of Migration to the North.
He gave me much to think about, more than the Arab press reporting on Sudan ever did. Which is amazing, considering what a short cab ride it was.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
"According to an annual B'Tselem report, from the beginning of 2006 to December 27, Israeli security forces have killed 660 Palestinians, a figure more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005, which was 197.
The data compiled by the human rights organization also indicated a significant decrease in Israeli casualties. Palestinians killed 23 Israelis in 2006 - 17 civilians, among them one minor, and six Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The figure constitutes less than half of the 50 Israelis killed in 2005.
B'Tselem also listed the overall figures for casualties since the beginning of the intifada, with Palestinian casualties at 4005 and Israeli casualties at 1017, 701 of which were civilians.....
According to the report, about half of the Palestinians killed, 322, did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. 22 of those killed were targets of assassinations, and 141 were minors.
The report says the majority of Palestinian casualties were killed in the Gaza Strip in the second half of 2006, following the capture of IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit. During this period, 405 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, of them 88 were minors and 205 did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed.
According to the report, the IDF demolished 292 Palestinian houses, 95 percent of them in the Gaza Strip. These were home to 1,769 people.
B'Tselem's report says the owners of 80 of the homes received advance warning to the demolition. Israel demolished 42 additional homes in East Jerusalem that were built without a permit. These were home to about 80 people, according to the report.
The report indicates that movement restrictions in the West Bank became more severe in 2006. Israel currently maintains 54 permanent checkpoints in the West Bank that are usually staffed, and 12 other checkpoints within the city of Hebron.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there is an average of 160 flying checkpoints throughout the West Bank every week.
In addition to the checkpoints, the report says IDF has erected hundreds of physical obstacles such as concrete blocks, dirt piles and trenches to restrict access to and from Palestinian communities. Palestinians have restricted access to 41 roadways in the West Bank, to which Israelis have unlimited access.
According to the report, as of November, Israel held 9,075 Palestinians in custody, including 345 minors. Of these, 738, including 22 minors, were held in administrative detention without trial and with no knowledge of the charges against them."
And they year is not over yet!
I say everybody must have seen it unless they only watch Hizbollah channel Al Manar. For although Hizbollah people like the song and must have officially given their tacit approval, they do not air it on their TV.
I wonder why?
Is Julia not covered enough? According to this article (in Arabic), Al Manar has recently started showing unveiled female guests who are modestly dressed, but not unveiled announcers. So Julia should pass. Her body is fully covered with a black robe and her hair is the only thing showing.
Or could it be that singing is not allowed?
I wonder what Julia herself think of all this? Or maybe she's too busy singing on the Hizbollah's bandwagon to think?
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"The Roman Catholic cathedral had originally been a mosque but was converted into a cathedral in the 13th century.
"The mosque itself was built on the site of the earlier cathedral of St Vincent which was demolished by Cordoba's Muslim rulers following the Islamic invasion and occupation of parts of southern Spain in the eight century."
I don't think the world is ready for this much religious mingling yet. Maybe in another millennium.
Also as Muslims and Arabs we should just really get over the loss of Al Andalus and move on. If we keep obsessing about Al Andalus and our glory days we risk missing on all the recent losses we've been enjoying. Do I need name some?
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
We can discuss how dictatorship, unemployment, sexual repression, religious discourse, Internet porn, Alissa, Nancy, and Haifa, the veil or the blue jeans contribute to this sorry phenomenon. But let us not use these factors to obscure what the root cause of sexual harassment is: SEXISM.
Yes, sexual harassment is not about sex but about sexism. It's about power, overwhelmingly of men over women (and children and weaker men). It has one aim only: to humiliate.
So can we talk about that for a change?
أفادت دراسة رسمية أن حوالي 54% من الجزائريات يتعرضن لمختلف أنواع العنف. واعتبرت الوزارة المنتدبة للأسرة وقضايا المرأة أن نتائج الدراسة تدعو إلى "مضاعفة الجهود لتغيير بعض التصرفات والممارسات".
وجاء في هذه الدراسة التي أجرتها هيئة رسمية بالاشتراك مع الوزارة المنتدبة للأسرة وقضايا المرأة، أن أكثر من 25% من أعمال العنف التي تتعرض لها النساء, لفظية, و22% معنوية و6% جسدية.
A new perfume is being sold in Lebanon called "Resistance." Buy a bottle and you get a picture of Hasan Nasrallah and a sinking Israeli ship, along with this slogan: "You are the truthful promise ... and I have great faith in you and I promise you divine victory" from one of his speeches during last summer war with Israel.
It's a unisex perfume but is mostly popular with men.
While this is not a Hizbullah official product, the party has not discouraged selling it. I'm sure they don't mind anything that contributes to the personality cult of Hasan Nasrallah.
Can't wait to see what they will sell next.
"A petition to the High Court of Justice heard Monday states that the Israel Defense Forces has offered to "voluntarily transfer" the residents of two villages in the West Bank, in order to avoid disruption over the route of the separation fence . . .The term "voluntary transfer" was coined by slain cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi to describe a program of encouraging Palestinians to leave the West Bank and Gaza."
Update: The two villages are Al Ramadeen and Abu Farda (in Arabic)
let's fight side by side even if the enemy
is ourselves;and I am yours, you are mine. (Tommy Olofsson, Sweden)
I'm not interested in
Who suffered the most.
I'm interested in
People getting over it.
Once when my father was a boy
A stone hit him on the head.
Hair would never grow there.
Our fingers found the tender spot
And its riddles: the boy who has fallen
Stands up. A bucket of pears
In his mother's doorway welcomes him home.
The pears are not crying.
Lately his friend who threw the stone
Says he was aiming at a bird.
And my father starts growing wings.
Each carries a tender spot:
Something our lives forgot to give us.
A man builds a house and says,
"I am native now."
A woman speaks to a tree in place
Of her son. And olives come.
A child's poem says,
"I don't like wars,
they end up with monuments."
He's painting a bird with wings
Wide enough to cover two roofs at once.
Why are we so monumentally slow?
Soldiers stalk a pharmacy:
Big guns, little pills.
If you tilt your head just slightly
There's a place in this brain
Where hate won't grow.
I touch its riddles: wind and seeds.
Something pokes us as we sleep.
It's late but everything comes next.
Monday, December 25, 2006
"Tehran can hardly be said to have a tradition of Holocaust studies; the subject does not rate very high in Iranian academic priorities. And a conference in Tehran that was proceeded by a political speech denying the Holocaust cannot be said to be an academic conference; it was a political demonstration, one that harms the Arabs and Muslims and serves only the ultra-right and neo-Nazi forces in Europe and the Zionist movement...
"We raped Iraq. We began our action with forced, non-consensual penetration and despoilation of that country. Our Vice President publically imagined they wanted us and would welcome us, would love us and our intentions. Guilt followed, and more delusion, and stubborn refusal to admit the action. So stopping the rape, getting out, is where the figure flags. Rather than withdrawing and taking a shower, we've continued the rape and recast the story."
Excuse me! "Rather than withdrawing and taking a shower?????" What does this say about rape? What understanding of rape does this sentence offer? If only rapists take showers, fewer rapes will take place?
It's a bad metaphor. I wish people will just stop using it.
I'll ruin the poem if I translate it, so a paraphrase will do:
The speaker is wondering what he should give her as a Eid present. He goes through all the possibilities, but rules them out one after another: a bracelet? he doesn't like chains around her wrists. Wines? No wine on earth is as good as what she has in her eyes. Roses? the best is what he smelled on her cheeks...The most precious thing he has is his soul, but that she already has in her hands.
Then he shifts into his other great song "Samra" about his love as a Muslim for a Christian woman.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
I saw "Blood Diamond" recently. Don't worry, I won't spoil the ending. It's about the trading in diamonds from "conflict" zones. In other words, it's about first world complicity in financing wars in Africa. At the end of the movie, a message comes on the screen just in case between your soda and popcorn you may have missed the 'moral' of the story: as a consumer we should insist that the diamonds we buy are conflict free; i.e. not dripping with blood.
Oh, gosh. First I had to chuck out the fur and now the diamonds! Really, a girl has no best friends left in this liberal age.
But I'll bitch about that some other day.
Now, I want to talk about my problem with the way Africa is represented on screen. The message we get from this representation is not that liberal, I don't think. I felt it was a journey into the "heart of darkness." Throughout the film I was sitting at the edge of my seat dreading that at any moment one of the African characters will burst out with "Mista Kurtz, he dead!!"
This is a very violent film. The most horrific scenes are African on African violence. Ok, whites are complicit and they are villains, yet the film is first and foremost a visual medium and visually the scenes that will be remembered, that make an impression, are of black on black violence.
We mainly see two groups of Africans: Africans as brutes against their own people and Africans as victims of their own people. The movie is even self-conscious of the limitation of its victim discourse, when the American journalist who is trying to break the story about European complicity expresses her frustration that she doesn't want to write another victim story. But unfortunately the film doesn't seem able to break away from this paradigm: the African main character, Solomon Vandi (played by Djomoun Hounsou), who is sharing significant screen time with the DiCaprio character is never allowed to be more than a victim. It's hard for him to be convincing in any other capacity when the script hardly gives him any dialogue (compared to chatter box DiCaprio or the American journalist). He is allowed a very limited range of emotion, as opposed to the "hero" DiCaprio who is made into a complex human being. Because Vandi's character is not built up throughout the film, he is not convincing at the end. Ironically, even in his role as a witness, he is not allowed to speak. The film ends at the moment he opens his mouth. But, hey, he was allowed to act in a big one.
As to the obligatory Hollywood love story, it receives an AG on my "Gag Meter" for "Almost Gagged". It's hard for me to be moved by the unfulfilled love or lust of two white people in Africa when the bodies and limbs are piling up for two hours. Romance in the midst of mayhem never worked for me.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
No rush. It's only the 21st century!
Friday, December 22, 2006
BTW, we are yet to have those in the West Bank and Gaza. Hopefully, we will never do.
But why am I blogging this story?
1) In solidarity with the woman who was beaten.
2) As a reminder that Israeli women are not all the one blob (the bikini clad blob) that anti-Palestinian propaganda likes to portray, as in this ad below, which was distributed in Atlanta bars a couple of years ago.
caption: : "Free to be themselves, free to dress as they please, free to date who they want, free to drive, free to work, free to choose their own mates, free to study, free to travel abroad without the consent of a male relative, free to lead, free to write and publish, free to make reproductive choices. Just like American women, Israeli women have all of these freedoms. Women in the surrounding Muslim countries are still waiting.
3) The way the story is covered in this report: the woman is not presented as a helpless victim; Othrodox Jewish women are not represented as oppressed beasts of burden. On the contrary, the negative story is used to highlight women's resistance to oppression and patriarchy. After you finish reading it, you don't feel the urge to go out "there" to save some oppressed Jewish women from their brutish Jewish men.
Oh, and her "veil" is only mentioned once. That's why you probably missed it.
Now, can you ever imagine a story reported in a similar way in the American media about a Muslim or Arab woman who is beaten in public by Muslim and Arab men for her violation of their religious law?
And that, not the bikini, makes all the difference.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In the meantime in Gaza, the BBC reports that"Hundreds of Palestinians have rallied outside parliament in Gaza City, urging rival factions to stop violence and restart unity government talks."
To no avail, I should add. The fghting resumed today. But according to al Arabeya, the truce hold, because the latest fighting is between one armed family and Hamas, not between Fateh and Hamas.
Wow. So we now have armed groups, armed militias, armed wings, armed brigades, armed armies, and armed ...FAMILIES!
But no state in sight.
Tataristan (part of the former Soviet Union and an independent republic now, with a majority Muslim population. I had to look that up!) organized a Muslim beauty pageant for the first time to choose a Muslim beauty queen for 2006. The winner was Almira Grivolina, a 22-year old university student (if you ask me which one is she, on the right or left, I'll ban you from this blog). Instead of a crown, she was given a silk veil.The judges were all women and they asked the contestants questions about baby care, cooking, and other household matters. (Darn it! If I knew this would/could/might happen, I'd have payed more attention in my home economics classes! Oh, well.) (in Arabic)
Is this really that different from Miss Universe or Miss Lebanon?
I don't' think so. Same thing, different wrapping.
Which reminds me I have some wrapping to do.
Iranian university students are fed up with Ahmadinejad and are getting more vocal protesting his conservative internal policies and his strident rhetoric against the West. In related news, Iranian reformists have just scored a victory in local elections.
This is an important reminder that not all Iranians are Ahmadinejad and not all Muslims are a blob.
To deal with this internal protest, I'm sure Nejad will heat up his rhetoric against Israel and the West and in defense of Islam.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
"Israel maintains two sets of rules and regulations in the West Bank: one for Jews, one for non-Jews. The only thing wrong with using the word "apartheid" to describe such a repugnant system is that the South African version of institutionalized discrimination was never as elaborate as its Israeli counterpart -- nor did it have such a vocal chorus of defenders among otherwise liberal Americans..."
"Palestine should not be a reason for boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day, but a reason for participating. As the peace campaigner Uri Avnery, who organised a demonstration against the killing of Palestinian children on last year's Holocaust Memorial Day in Tel Aviv, put it: one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that you must not accept an ideology telling you "that other people are inferior and subhuman" or that loyalty to your country justifies "the occupation of another country and oppression of another people".
"Do you think my daughter is capable of destroying the wall? A little girl, to be killed and slaughtered by the wall."
"It's been one of the deadliest years that we have seen."
Now, I want him to go and say that to the parents of all the civilians who were shot in the past few days. Let's hear what they have to say to that.
"Israel's conscience is entirely black. Scandal follows scandal, and today's injustice wipes away yesterday's injustice in our consciousness. Israeli society's heart is so hard when it comes to Palestinians in the territories that it remains unmoved even when confronted with a scene of continuous injustice that strips individuals of their property. ...However, a society that is not shocked by the killing of innocent Palestinians will also not be moved even slightly by the sight of land stolen from any individual Palestinian."
I think it's a good thing.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Go to sleep, since these days a kid can close down a neighborhood
Is this a country? No, it's not a country
it's ....", sang Joseph Saqr about Lebanon, and about Palestine, and about god knows where else. Words and music by Ziad Rahbani (song from Hilal Shouman's odeo)
powered by ODEO
Ok, I haven't been following this story. But if I'm asked to decide whether the infection happened because of lack of sanitary practices regarding AIDS at the hospital or because of an international conspiracy of foreign agents working to undremine the state and the Umma, I'd go for lack of sanitary practices. What can I say? My imagination was always limited!
Any good news anybody? This blog is getting grim.
"But Israeli governments share a sizable portion of the blame for what happened in the years of the Oslo process. The Oslo Accords were perceived by Israel as a license to expand the settlements in the West Bank and to build new neighborhoods [illegal settlements according to international law Aa] in eastern Jerusalem. The facts are known: The number of residents in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem doubled during the 1990s. Hamas gained strength not necessarily because the Palestinians have become more religious, but because West Bank residents woke up in the morning and out of their windows, in front of their eyes, they saw more and more fences and roadblocks, and more bypass roads. "I get up in the morning and see my death approaching," wrote a resident of a village near Ramallah.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahoud Abbas' success in dealing with Hamas is dependent, therefore, not only on him. Nor is it dependent on American intervention, as some Israelis who welcomed the Baker-Hamilton report think. "President Clinton at Camp David in 2000 was the height of American involvement and we saw what happened," the Palestinian journalist Khader Khader wrote recently. In other words, if the government of Israel does not manage to forge a breakthrough via a diplomatic channel, Abbas and Fatah don't have a chance."
The children were on their way home from school. Schools are closed. They are deemed dangerous for Palestinian kids' health.
Monday, December 18, 2006
An Indian athlete, Santhi Soundararajan, has failed a gender test. Apparently, she passed it once before. I guess it goes to show how accurate these things are. A reporter explains who's involved in a gender test: "athletes were usually examined by a team of doctors, including a gynaecologist, endocrinologist and psychologist, and put through physical and clinical examinations during a gender test."
So we need a whole team to decide if a "woman" is a Woman? I thought it was obvious!
Walid al-Omari, head of the Al Jazeera office in occupied territories
Sunday, December 17, 2006
" خط أحمر.. وسلاح أصفر
كلكم كذابون، حين تقولون بالدم ـ الخط الأحمر ـ لأنه لا يوجد في جعبتكم غير ثقافة الكراسي التي استبدلتموها بثقافة المقاومة، وصارت الانجازات الوطنية لفصائلنا وقياداتنا، من يشحذ أكثر، ومن يوزع على مرتزقته أكثر، ولأنه أيضاً لا يوجد عندكم سوى ثقافة التعبئة العصبوية الحاقدة ضد بعضكم بعضاً بعد أن استبدلتموها بثقافة التعبئة لمقاومة الاحتلال، وهذا مضمون اجماعكم على التهدئة مع الاحتلال، وبذلك أنتم غير مختلفين على مقاومة الاحتلال وسلاحكم، ليس سلاح مقاومة، بعد أن حولتم المقاومين الى ميليشيات ووجهتم هذا السلاح نحو الداخل تحت ما شاء من العناوين.
أنتم بتعبئتكم العصبوية الحاقدة ضد بعضكم، وبعشقكم للكراسي وباسقاطكم للاحتلال، وبميليشياتكم، وعصاباتكم، دمرتم السلام الاجتماعي والسياسي الداخلي وخلقتم فوضى الفلتان الأمني، والسياسي، والفصائلي، وحولتم حياة الناس الى جحيم بعد أن وصل قتلكم حتى للاطفال، وأخرجتم سلاحكم، لتقولوا هذا سلاح من أجل فرض النظام والأمن الداخلي ومواجهة الفلتان والفوضى فكيف يستوي ذلك يا مجانين؟!.
كيف يمكن للخط الأحمر أن لا يكون في مواجهة السلاح الأصفر، سلاح العصابات المنتشر أكثر من أرغفة الخبز التي يحتاجها الإنسان؟!.
سلاح مقاومة.. أم سلاح قمع وقتل
فصائلنا وقياداتنا، تنفق على شراء السلاح أكثر بكثير مما تنفق على شراء الغذاء والدواء، وهي بذلك تسير على خطى الاتحاد السوفياتي والفرق في النتيجة الأكثر كارثية والتي بدأت مقدماتها الصارخة حاضرة، وكيف يستوي هذا الانفاق مع قرار فصائلنا بالاجماع على التهدئة مع الاحتلال، وعدم اتفاقها على التهدئة فيما بينها؟
Almost at the same time, Dahlan was denoucing Hamas at a rally in Jenin organized by Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in support of Abbas! (in Arabic)
I guess I'm not the only one who's confused!
The failure of Palestinian leaders from both Fateh and Hamas is astounding. They should all get lost.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"Amid the growing chaos in the West Bank, [ a Palestinian human rights group] estimates that approximately one person a day is killed having been accused of collaborating. No-one has been arrested following any of these killings and many Palestinians say that the charges are normally false. However, with the breakdown in law and order, the accusation has become the excuse for revenge and bloodletting."
For more views on what some non-armed Palestinians are saying about early elections, click here.
Friday, December 15, 2006
As I said in my comment on her post, how you understand her choice of words depends on who she is speaking to and why. In other words, if she's speaking to her countrymen and government, challenging their treatment of women and yelling: "you can't treat us as beasts of burden," I'd say she's courageous and her metaphor is rhetorically effective.
But she's not doing that, is she? She's writing in The Post, not about "us" but about "them." She cannot be including herself in the "beasts of burden" designation because beasts of burdens can't write column in foreign newspapers. Judging by who responded to her post, she, in my opinion, failed rhetorically in her choice of language: she has not told her western readers anything new. They've known all along that Muslim women are "beasts of burden." After reading her article, they just shake their head and shrug their shoulders and, if they are women, thank their lucky stars they are not Muslims or Pakistanis.
The other group who responded to her post consisted of Pakistanis and Muslims. Well, they didn't not like her metaphor and went into defensive mode. Many acknowledged the mistreatment of women, but objected to her generalizations. Some went into super defense mode and denied that Pakistani women suffer any ill treatment.
So I'm sorry to say that Samina Ali's metaphor bumped--as far as the Pakistani women on whose behave she's writing are concerned.
But, hey, she got to write for The Washington Post.
وأكد هنية أن فوز حركة حماس في الانتخابات الأخيرة أدخلت المنطقة في معادلة جديدة وخلقت ثلاثة ظواهر وهي محاصرة الشعب الفلسطيني، وهزيمة الجيش الإسرائيلي في لبنان وهزيمة أمريكيا في العراق، مشدداً علي أن حكومته لن تتنازل عن أي شبر من ارض فلسطين.
"Haniyeh emphasized that the Hamas win in the last election thrust the area into a new equation and created three new phenomena: the blockade on the Palestinian people, the defeat of the Israeli army in Lebanon, and the defeat of the US in Iraq..."
If he really said that (and I say if because I haven't heard the speech myself), he'd be suffering from a serious case of megalomania.
Another curious turn of phrase came from Khalil al-Hayya, the head of Hamas's faction in parliament, who, according to Al Jazeera, "told 100,000 of the movement's supporters in Gaza City: "What a war Mahmoud Abbas you are launching, first against God, and then against Hamas."
A war against God? How did Abbas launch a war against God? And who won?
It's about a Muslim American woman, Fadwa Hamdan, who joins the US army (this is what's the big deal narrative).
Or, it's about the archetypal Muslim Arab woman who escapes her oppressive religion and culture (the escapee narrative).
Or, it's about an oppressed Muslim/Arab woman who is saved by America (saving brown women from brown men narrative).
Or, it's about a disempowered woman who struggles against Arab Patriarchy and American patriarchy to find herself (the feminist narrative).
Or, it's about a woman who wants to be a man, so she joins the army and go around yelling: "“I’m gonna be a shooting man, a shooting man! The best I can for Uncle Sam, for Uncle Sam!” (the get me out of this box and put me in another narrative).
Or, it's about a vulnerable woman who is recruited by the US army because she knows Arabic and had not much of a choice (we don't like army recruiters narrative).
Or, it's about the army is really good for women. It liberates them, you know. (the army as feminist space narrative)
Or, it's about a woman who made a choice and reinvented herself (Be all you can be narrative).
Or, it's about a woman who is used by the American media which "discovers" her then trail her for months, photographing her and documenting her encounters with lowlife family members (e.g. the "film hindi moment" when Fadwa confronts her brother in his store (action), storms out in tears (close up), then reporter enters shop to interview brother (Cut).
Or, it's an informative story about the similarities between Islam and the army: I learned, for example, that in both, women stand in attention, eat separately from men, and with one hand. All of you out there who were raised Muslim and never knew these crucial facts about your religion, you must feel much gratitude for the NYT taking the time to explain your religion to you. Now, subscribe. (It's the Islam by Dummies narrative)
Or, it's really a story about how many times a writer can use the word "hijab" in an essay before this reader slashes her wrist (it's the torture by hijab narrative).
Or, it's a story about a woman who survived arranged marriage, a slimy husband, a loveless life, segregation in Saudi Arabia, the hijab and niqab, polygamy, a father who disowned her, a brother who kicked her out, homelessness, losing her children, an army boot camp but was finally broken by an English test she could not pass (English teachers are the real villains narrative).
It's a sob story.
It's a feel good story.
It's a sob, feel good story.
It's a sob, feel good, propaganda story.
It's incomplete: some things don't add up. Too neat. Don't know. (the I-was-burned-by-Norma Khouri's narrative).
It's also a story of a mother who feels she had to give up her children and who misses them. I don't know Fadwa Hamdan. But I don't doubt for a single second that she misses her daughters and that her tears are sincere.
Everything else becomes ... insignificant.
Maybe I'm a sucker. So be it. Call it the sucker narrative.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I doubt Haniyeh will ever leave Gaza again. Not only he had to cut short his first trip abroad as primeminister to attend to the deteriorating security situation in Gaza, he was made to wait at the border for hours before he was allowed in by Israel. Thousands of people went to the Rafah crossing to protest the delay in Hainyeh's re-entry including armed Hamas men, who then exchanged fire with Fateh armed men guarding the terminal. Haniyeh was fired at the moment he emerged from the terminal. He made it home in one piece, but minus the 35 million dollars he collected and his bodyguard, who was shot dead in the firefight with Fateh. Haniyeh's son and his political advisor were injured.
Later Haniyeh said, " we" know who fired at us and we know how to deal with them." Doesn't sound good.
Mahmoud Abbas denounced the shooting. Of course.
The New York Times had a revelation: it writes, "Thursday’s episode demonstrated Israel’s ability to shut down the border even when its security forces are not present." No kidding!
Here's an update on the assassination of the three children: an arrest was made of a member of the Executive force that answers to hamas's interior minister Sa'eed Siyam. Immediately, a Fateh intelligence officer was kidnapped by a group that belongs to the Popular Resistance Committees (now we have groups within committees within wings within brigades). Their purpose is to exchange the kidnapped Fateh man with the arrested Hamas man.
The nightmare continues. ( read more in Arabic and English)
A reader of this blog posted a link to such an amazing article that I'd hate for it to be buried in the comments sections. So here it is. (thanks anonymous)
We always somehow knew that tofu is a sissie food, right? And we always had our suspicions that something was not right with those vegetarians. As to vegans, well, what can I say! A very sad lot indeed!
The difference is now all our suspicious are proven right. Scientific evidence shows that soy causes homosexuality. So it's simple folks: if you don't want to be homosexuals, don't eat soy. If you want to be homosexuals, consume as much as you can. How much depends on how fast you want to be transformed into a homosexual, and on what kind of a homosexual you want to be. It's a tricky formula that scientists are still developing.
Update: Carter interviewed by Riz Khan.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Kuloud Tourky is an amazing athlete. She is a Palestinian who grew up in Australia. She's an Olympic gold medalist in diving. Please read more about her here. You will be really impressed by this young woman's determination and achievement. A real inspiration.
(thanks Rabee for finally sharing the information about your sister)
The Palestinian novelist Sahar Khaliefeh won the Naguib Mahfouz literary price for her novel Soura, Wa Ayquouna, wa 3ahd Qadeem (A Picture, an Icon, and an Old Promise). The novel tells of a love story between a Muslim Palestinian man and a Christian Palestinan woman in Jerusalem under occupation. An impossible love. A lost love. All that good stuff. As if a Palestinian love story could have any other ending. (read more in Arabic)
I'll write a review of the novel later, but I was a bit surprised at the choice. The politics of the Naguib Mahfouz prize is getting quite interesting. I would love to know more how books get nominated, who is on the panel, and what the criteria are. Sounds like a good research project, doesn't it?
As a result of this mess, Ismail Haniyeh decided to cut short his month-long trip abroad, his first ever as a Prime Minister (I always feel silly typing these inflated titles), and get back to attend to the deteriorating situation in Gaza. He was heard saying under his breath: "Ya far7a ma tammat." (translation: I never get to have any fun!)
Update: You can read the questions and answers here.
"A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.
The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.
It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India."
About another Indian disgrace, sexual harassment there is called eve teasing! How cute! It's common and can be pretty aggressive. Do you think there is any connection between disgrace # 1 and disgrace # 2?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Guess who showed up among the "intellectuals" in Tehran? David Duke. Remember him? He's a former Ku Klux Klan leader is now a Louisiana Republican representative (why, Louisiana, why?). He had this to say:
"There must be freedom of speech, it is scandalous that the Holocaust cannot be discussed freely,...It makes people turn a blind eye to
Now, with friends like these, why do the Palestinians need enemies? As if he gives a damn about crimes against Palestinian people and as if to denounce these crimes you need to be a holocaust denier. I'd put it simply: Duke, go to hell. We don't need your trash.
Hassan Khader, a Palestinian columnist put it better than me. Writing a column in the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam on the nutjobs gathered in Tehran, he makes it clear that he thinks its a bad and disgraceful idea. You can read the whole thing here (in Arabic). Here is my translation of his conclusion:
" The holocaust is a fact that must be accepted. There is much evidence to prove it and there is no point in questioning. ...But the problem has been in the political uses to which the holocaust is put. The European right is questioning the Holocaust in its attempt to rehabilitate an ideology that killed millions of people and became bankrupt in mainstream Europe. Israel uses the holocaust to justify its colonial policy and occupation, insisting, especially in the US through its supporters, that any anti colonial and anti occupation stand is anti Semitic. The fundamentalists too, Arab, Iranian and others, try to use the holocaust in a battle that they see as a clash of civilizations. It's a battle that is being fed every day with new reasons that strenghen it. So it seems as inevitable as it is absurd and tragic ...Because its results are going to be a disaster for Arabs and Muslims, which does not enter Mr. Najad's academic preoccupations."
Beyond the conference, but still in Tehran, pro-reform students chanted anti Najad's slogans at a university where he was speaking. They called him a fascist dictator. (in Arabic)
Monday, December 11, 2006
Ruqaya al Ghasara, a Bahraini women, won a gold medal in the 200 meters race at the Asian Games. The first for a Bahraini woman. Mabrouk ya Ruqaya. Congratulations.
I can't tell you much about Ruqaya: I know nothing about her winning time, her training regiment, her ambitions, or her background. But I can tell you about her hijab. Al Jazeera reports:
She said that there was no handicap to her in running in the traditional dress. "I have no problems with the hijab," said Al Ghasara, who showed her talent in winning the West Asian 100m title last year also in Doha. "I have a great desire to show that there are no problems with wearing these clothes. Wearing a veil proves that Muslim women face no obstacles and encourages them to compete in sport."
I doubt it that Ruqaya volunteered these comments about the hijab the moment she crossed the finish line. She must have been asked about it. I can imagine the reporters:
"So, Ruqaya, is the hijab a handicap? "
"Does the hijab slow you down?"
" Does the hijab prevent you from seeing the finish line?"
"Does the hijab obscure your peripheral vision?"
" Does the hijab block your hearing a bit, which might explain what we thought was a hesitant start?"
"Aren't you afraid that the hijab may slip off your head in the middle of a race?"
"Aren't you worried the hijab might trip you?"
"Do you use special anti-friction material for your racing hijab?"
"How do you reconcile the gold medal with the hijab?"
"I asked Osama to give me a towel to clean the blood from my head, but he didn't respond."
"The children's schoolbooks were out of their satchels so maybe they had been reading in the car."
"تقول ليندا: "أنا لا أحمل المسؤولية لأي فصيل فلسطيني، بل أحمل المسؤولية للمجتمع الفلسطيني بأكمله، الذي يقف صامتاً أمام قتل أطفال فلسطين كل يوم برصاص الفرقة والصراع على المراكز والمواقف من أجل لا شيء"
The mother: "I don't hold one particular Palestinian faction responsible. I hold all of Palestinian society responsible for remaining silent while Palestinian children are getting killed everyday by the bullets of division and struggle over positions for nothing."
An article from The Wall Street Journal on the alliance between leftists and Islamists.
You an call it the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" theory of international relations. Come to think of it, such unholy alliance makes sense, only if you have one item on your agenda, which seems to be the case for many leftists these days. Organizations like Hizballah, however, have multi-item agendas. But, hey, who cares. They won, and everybody loves a winner. Especially losers.
Update: Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade issued a statement saying killing the children is crossing all red lines and calling on all military wings to "strike with an iron hand." (Arabic)
So a military group is calling on all other military groups to strike militarily in response to the gunning down of children on their way to school! That's exactly what Gaza needs, more action by military wings and thighs!!!!! As if that isn't THE Problem.
Not only that, but during the funeral, there were lots of firing of guns in the air to protest this incident.
وقد شيع الآلاف من الفلسطينيين جنازة القتلى الأربعة في موكب جنائزي كبير وسط مشاعر من الغضب والسخط الشديدين ووسط إطلاق النار الكثيف في الهواء استنكارا وتنديدا بهذه الحادثة.
.Sometimes I think I'm going crazy. In fact, I wish I could just go crazy
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Al Sharq al Awsat reports that the Yemeni government fights terrorism by... arranging marriages for the captured terrorists. (in Arabic)
According to the head of Yemeni intelligence, speaking recently at a conference, this is proving an effective counter terrorism technique because marriage provides the terrorists with the familial and social stability that they need in order not to return to their old bad ways.
Nothing like a wife to break a man.
Come to think of it, using the venerable institution of marriage in this way can even discourage terrorists from becoming terrorists to begin with. What is scarier for a man than the prospect of a wife at the end of the road? The thought alone should bring him to his non-terrorist sense.
As to the rehabilitators, nothing is said about where and how the government recruits them for this impressive mission. Do they put ads in the local papers saying "Wives for Terrorists Needed? Those interested please submit a passport size picture with a "shahadet 7uson sulouk" ("good behavior" certificate)?
Or maybe they use the more personal approach, most favored by most governments.
Maybe they say "Ya binti (daughter), zel ragel wala zel 7eta" (translation: being in the shadow of a man is better than being in the shadow of a wall. An even better translation: a man, even a convicted terrorist, is better than no man." (I just noticed how close the Arabic word for "Shadow" is to the Arabic word for "humiliation"? hummm).
Or maybe they use the national argument with her: "Ya Ukhti (sister), this is your duty in the service of our great nation. Do it and a poem or two will be written about you."
Or maybe they use the honest, straightforward approach: "Marry him or else."
I don't know. The article, you see, doesn't say. Which might explain why I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Not enough data is provided for me to react properly.
So maybe I'll sing with Ella
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