Saturday, March 31, 2007
Or at least made some Iraqis happy for a couple of hours. Shada Hassoun, the Iraqi contestant on the talent show Star Academy, won the title. That sent her supporters to the street of Baghdad in an imprompto celebration.
What I can comment on is the way the reviewer present Nuseibeh as practically the only Palestinian on the planet who does not "hate" Israel and the Israelis. So unlike the rest of the Palestinians, Nuseibeh is admired for his exceptionalism. "If only the Palestinians could stop hating poor Israel, things will become swell" is the moral of this review.
One reason that it is not easy for Palestinians to engage in public criticism of themselves is that there are always those waiting to use these criticisms to further dismiss the Palestinians and question the justness of their cause.
Once again we are told that Israel commits what the reviewer calls "blunders" such as the settlement movement in the West Bank and Gaza or the "sowing of the Southern Lebanon of cluster bombs in the final hour of last summer's war." But the Palestinians don't "blunder"; they commit suicide every time they make a mistake because their mistake becomes just another argument that negates them and Israel's responsibility for their tragedy. So if Arafat is autocratic, this means that the Palestinians are not worthy. If they shoot at each other, that means they are not fit to rule themselves. If they drown in sewage, that's divine proof that they are getting what they deserve.
The Palestinians, last time I checked, were no angels. They have never claimed that lofty status anyway. In fact, they have set their eyes on a more humble position: they've been clamoring to be treated as humans. Like all humans, they make mistakes, they disagree amongst themselves, they--gasp--blunder! But their blunders pale in the face of Israeli systematic policies of ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid.
The fact that Arafat was autocratic does not negate the fact that the Palestinians were displaced from their land and made into refugees. The fact that some Palestinians are shooting at each other does not negate the fact that the occupation and the settlements are illegal and have to go. Palestinian mistakes, in other words, do not a pretty Israel make. Israel should stick with the Bikini squad to make itself look better.
A final word: I find it ironic, although predictable, that in a review celebrating finding supposedly the one Palestinian alive who is expressing "sympathy for the other," as the title of the review announces, there is not one iota, not one drop, not one speck of sympathy expressed by the reviewer for the Palestinians.
I guess he's not in that business.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
While the protesters kept a safe distance from the gathering place, they should be warned that next time they need to wear masks, and even chastity belts, to guard against any accidental or intentional contamination by the lesbo virus, which, according to trusted sources, is known for the potency of its Arab mutations.
Could this be the reason why the AP report states that "homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam"? I mean, what is the difference between "forbidden" and "strictly forbidden?" Is it the difference between "thou shall not be a lesbian unless she's gorgeous" and "thou shall not ever be a lesbian?" Or is this "strictness" meant to distinguish Islam from, let's say, Christianity and Judaism, who forbid homosexuality but not strictly? And how can a "sickness" be "forbidden" anyway? I can see someone arguing that since alcoholism is a "sickness" we need to ban alcohol or restrict it. But if lesbianism is a sickness, what do we ban? women?
Strictly confused minds want to know.
So who is right? The prostitute or the ninjas?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Something like this was actually predicted by the Palestinian writer Sahar Khaliefeh, in her post-Oslo novel The Inheritance. A sewage project, presented as the fruit of Oslo, ends up drowning Wadi el Reehan with stench. The drowning there was metaphorical. What happened in Gaza is no metaphor, because Gaza, it seems, does not like poetry.
Update: here you can read the statement of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Five Palestinians drowned in sewage today in Gaza, three old women and two toddlers. Some are calling it a "sewage tsunami." But tsunamis are forces of nature, and this disaster is so unnatural: it's like all the disaters that befell the Palestinians--the "nakba," the "naksa," "Jarash," "Sabra and Shatila," "Oslo," to name a choice few-- it's "made": here it's Gaza's crumbling infrastructure after years of occupation and limbo.
One of the drowned women was 80 year old. I think of what she went through in her life, what history she witnessed and survived. Is it the cruelty of fate that made her go in this way? Or is it the cruelty of a world that turned its back on her a long time ago?
Moot questions, now.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
To me this is an example of bending out of shape and doing verbal acrobatics in order to come up with an acceptable interpretation that may be a good "public relations" gesture, but it's going to be of limited value, if not irrelevant, to the majority of Muslims.
Simply because (bear with me for repeating myself on this issue) Muslim men who beat up their wives do not do it because this verse tells them to. Therefore, Muslim men will not stop beating their wives because the verse will tell them not to do it.
I'm not dismissing the Islamic feminist project which seeks to challenge patriarchal interpretations of religious texts and traditions. That is a worthy project mainly because it draws attention to the fact that religious texts are texts, therefore open to interpretation.
At the same time I'm wary of the limitations of this project. This approach can at the end of the day reinforce a fundamentalist perception of religion and contribute to the endless fussing about what this word means and what that verse says. We have plenty of that going around already. The Wahhabis have perfected that into a benighted science and are unfortunately superior in number and resources, although not in understanding, to the more enlightened Muslim women who are trying to counter them.
Perhaps another approach is to get away from any literal interpretation of scripture and to resist the fundamentalist (which is also the orientalist) urge to reduce religious texts to "conduct books." (Rayyan's pamphleteering syndrom). People lead complex lives and live their religion in complex ways.
Neither my grandmother nor my mother could read the Qur'an. Both, I know, thought of themselves as Muslim women (though I can hardly think of any occasions when they "declared" that). If you were to ask them if they were "good Muslims" they would have been puzzled. What does that mean exactly, they would ask? "Good" as opposed to what? Whatever disappointments or joys they've experienced in their lives they would not attribute to "religion," not because religion was not important to them, but because it was always part of the lived texture of their life, not something they needed to "apply" to it.
They didn't need Sheik Qardawi, Amr Kahled, Hirsi Ali, or Lali Bakhtiar to interpret their religion for them.
As their daughter, I make a case for their (non) interpretation.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Ok. I'm easing back into Fairouz. I kept her at an arm's length for years. The smells, sounds, and memories her songs evoked are just too ... everything. I can listen to her now because I like her less, I think.
thanks for reading my article and responding to it. Hijab is a sensitive topic, and I did what I could with the space and time I had to write the piece. I hope you will allow me to respond to some of the comments made here:
I see how you can be very confused by my article. I have to admit that being in Cairo is the first time for me to experience the pressures of wearing the hijab or even the sight of hijab at such a large scale. I by no means conclude the way I wear hijab or the ways I turned to hijab was the perfect or correct way and everyone else is wrong. If anything, I am too vague in my article. I should have taken my question far enough but it was more of a personal commentary on an observation rather than an academic paper.
I am sad my article has made some believe I look down on some women who wear hijab. My argument was actually for the freedom of hijab -that those women who wear it or do not wear it should be respected no matter what. I don't come from a culture of hijab, and all my friends who wear hijab in Canada did it because they chose to and because it took us a long time to think about doing it. So it was a culture shock to see the magnitude of women who wear it either due to force from family or for fashion reasons. I believe ultimately that thought and reason should be placed into it, because of the everyday difficulties of being veiled (discrimination, disrespect etc). I just argue that with thought and conviction it makes it easier to pull through those tough times.
And with regards to a real debate, that's exactly what my article calls for. I thank you amal a for posting about the topic of hijab and attempting to stir real debate.
At the end of the day, I have to admit this isn't the best piece of writing I have presented, but that's a lesson learned.
Thanks for writing. Your article, my post about it, and the comments that were made by some readers all attest to how loaded the hijab issue is and how important it is for women who hold different points of view about it to debate the issue. There is no need for you to be sad that we misunderstood your point or to apologize for your piece. I once wrote (borrowing an expression from an American feminist literary critic) that writing about Arab and Muslim women is like dancing through the minefields. And that was before 9/11, the Iraq war, and Hirsi Ali. So welcome to the fray. I personally look forward to reading more of your articles. Amal A
"من جهة اخري قالت مؤسسة فلسطينية تعني بشؤون التراث والفن إن مسلحين مجهولين اقتحموا مقرها، شمال قطاع غزة الجمعة ودمروا كافة الأدوات الموسيقية التي كانت داخله. وأكدت الجمعية الثقافية لحماية التراث الفلسطيني أن مجموعة من الملثمين اقتحمت مقرها في بيت لاهيا شمال القطاع بعدما أقدموا علي كسر البوابة الرئيسية للجمعية وأبواب المكاتب، وحطموا كافة الأدوات الموسيقية فيها مثل العود، وآلة الإيقاع، وغيرها من الأدوات الموسيقية البسيطة.
وذكرت أن المسلحين أقدموا علي تمزيق وإتلاف كتاب تراثي صادر عن جمعية إنعاش الأسرة في رام الله
How to make them?
Get out the Israeli big guns!
Noooo. Not those big guns. Keep those for Gaza.
Get out the women.
Nooooooo. Not these women. These you hide. You don't want to confuse the world and make Israelis look like Arabs!
Get out the "beautiful" women:
Yes. That's more like it:
"The Israeli Consulate in New York has come up with an ingenious idea to promote tourism to Israel in the United States: officials there have managed to twist the arms of the most popular US men's magazine, Maxim, to write a feature about stunning Israeli models."
Yes, the bikini-clad Israeli woman, an icon of Israeli nationalism, has been deployed once again as a weapon of mass national construction to give the state a face and butt lift, by convincing American men that Israel is "a modern, lively, young and dynamic
A video shoot is in the works. I assure you it's not going to look anything like this one or this one.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Judge's justification: the woman is Muslim!
The judge decides that since the husband and wife are Muslims of Moroccan origins, the wife is not eligible for the speedy divorce because the Qur'an has a verse allowing the man to beat his wife. In other words, there's nothing to worry about here: it's just your typical Muslim man beating to a pulp his typical Muslim woman because the Qur'an orders him to do so. No cause for alarm. It's in their religion and their culture and probably their blood.
If the woman was a non-Muslim German, the judge would worry because violence against non-Muslim women is intolerable. But she's Muslim and violence in this case is seen as "culture as usual." Muslim women, everybody knows, have thicker skin.
So this German judge who is more Catholic than the Pope--so to speak-- considers it her legal duty to remind a Muslim woman who believes that her husband's abuse of her is intolerable that she is mistaken and that there is nothing out of the ordinary here. In other words, the judge is saying to the plaintiff: you are not a woman, you are a Muslim.
In my non-legal opinion, when you start seeing the people of a particular culture as creatures from outer space (or Muslim for short), then what you're practicing is not multiculturalism. It's called racism.
Now, you'll excuse me. It's time for my daily beating. It's in the Qur'an you know and as a Muslim woman I got to submit. If you don't believe me, ask the judge. She knows. She's German.
Afterthought: This post goes well with an earlier one "Do You Beat Your Wife?"
After Afterthought: those who can read Arabic may want to check the comment section on Al Arabiya. I'm glad to see that a healthy majority of respondents are horrified at the judge's interpretation.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I first read this on Kabobfest and for a moment I thought the guys were joking. But apparently not.
Khalifeh got in trouble with the religious police once before for singing Mahmoud Darwish's poem "Ana Yousef Ya Abi" (I'm Yousef, Father), which some thought offensive because it "sings" verses from the Qur'an.
But this is different. This has SEX and FATWA written all over it!
Haddad and Khalifeh reportedly distributed pictures of themselves to emphasize that they were NOT Nancy Ajram and Haifa Wahbi, respectively. But to no avail.
Frankly, it all sounds subversive to me. Love, joy, and life??? All in one show with music and dance? Come on. We must protect the youth from joy, life, and love. Particularly love. Warden: away with both of their heads!
As Um Kulthoum once said: "7ob eeh elli enta gayy t'oul 3alaih"!!
Palestinian journalists have been demonstrating and are suspending work to protest the kindnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston. They are demanding more efforts to protect all journalists, Palestinian and foreign, from attacks and threats. They are threatening to sue the PA for not offering better protection.
Oops!! Sorry. Wrong religion. Wrong women. I thought they were . . . you know who!
Illiteracy: 14% (my guess this residual because of the older generation)
Education: 10. 9% have diplomas and higher education (which is surprisingly low considering how much we Palestinians brag that we value education)
As to political decision making, forget it. Men are the deciders if one is to judge by who held portfolios in the Palestinian "government" (ok, allow me a bit of make-belief here). Only two women held posts compared to 24 held by men. At the level of local councils, the Numbers are better at 17% but that has to do with the quota system the feminists insisted on.
When it comes to domestic violence, almost 34% ever married women report being subject to physical violence. Those subjected to sexual violence by husbands are 15.5%. Nothing about the other kind of violence Palestinian women are subjected to, which is mystifying.
There are 112 women political prisoners including 32 mothers. 7 prisoners spent a quarter century behind bars.
The biggest participation in economic activity is in agriculture at 41.4% which includes "foresting, hunting, and fishing."
Monday, March 19, 2007
How about that for tribalism!!
Then someone must have told them to behave themselves and look more "civilized" so they cheered him when he sang. Poor guy. You could see how uncomfortable he looked through it all. As to the segment they had about him, it was tasteless. They had him working at a gas station looking like a "loser." Get it. Syrian. Loser. Elias Rahbani felt apologetic about that and had to go on for five minutes explaining that all jobs are respectable blah blah blah and the segment should not be misunderstood. Ya right!
The other low point in the show was the Lebanese female contestant Ilian B3ainy, who I'm convinced is in the wrong contest. She flattened Fairuz out of existence. But, hey, she's pretty. We heard about her beauty more than we heard about her voice. When Lebanese women complain that no one takes them seriously and they are seen as "pretty faces" only, they need to blame their own media before they blame anyone else.
I liked all the other voices. But the high point for me was by the best: Yusra from Tunisia. She sang Sayyed Makkawi's classic "Khalli Shwayya," which is below:
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While "secularists by design" hold their summits in the US bashing Islam, real life secularists on the streets of Egypt are being threatened, jailed and tortured by a government that has a green light from its democracy-loving friends to eat the opposition alive.
Real secularists are on Cairo's streets and in its jails, not on CNN.
What I like about Shadid's reporting is that he talks to real flesh and blood people instead of writing his articles from his office in Washington DC. He tries to communicate, even if in a snap shot, the texture of life in the Arab world. What we have here is the opposite of generalizations, of trend reporting, and the "I'm going to tell you what you already know" kind of journalism that we get shoved in our faces everyday.
On a totally trivial note, why do I get the impression that Shadid does not like Abdel Halim Hafez?
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Oh, I can't wait to read about another defeat!
One of the people interviewed describes the Egyptian regime this way: "The government is, of course, not a democracy, he said; that implies freedom. But it's not a dictatorship, either, he added; that requires strength. "It's more like the rubble, the debris left behind."
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Hence her advice that instead of trying to convert Muslims to secularism and instead of supporting the small minority of secularists that held a Secular Summit recently, the US should try to listen to the majority of Muslims who are becoming more Islamic as we speak. The representative in the US of this majority is CAIR.
There are several problems here:
First, she is falling for an either/or logical fallacy: There is the secular West on one side and there is the Muslims on the other. The Muslims are not part of the secular West (they are visiting on temporary visas; no wonder people tell them to "go home" whenever they are angry with them). The West is all secular and there is a western consensus as to where religion belongs. Christians and Jews can embrace their religious symbols in the West without being seen as anti-secular. Christian kids in the US can attend Christian summer camps without anybody thinking twice that maybe they do not belong to this country. Only Muslims are the odd ones out. Her essay reinforces this faulty perception big way.
Second, she is giving me two options; no wonder I feel I'm suffocating: either Ibn Warraq and co. or CAIR. Frankly, I don't care for either group. Ibn Warraq and co. don't represent secularism as much as they do a political agenda that uses secularism to bash Arabs and Muslims, and CAIR doesn't represent all Muslims in America as much as they would love to believe they do.
Third, she takes the neo-conservatives as representatives of the "Western attitude to Islam." In reality, things are more complicated, and the neo-conservatives are being challenged in the US and in other parts of the western world. Unlike Bin Laden, I don't believe there is a western conspiracy against Islam. ACLU is western, those demonstrating against the war are western, the first amendment that protects CAIR is western, and Rachel Corrie is western. On the other side, some of the closest allies of the US are self-identified Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Forth, while she feels confident making glib generalizations about were the Arab world is heading (what are her qualifications exactly?) and how Muslims are becoming more Islamic, she doesn't bother give any explanations for any of this. It's all happening in a historical vacuum. But who needs an explanation for what everybody always already knows: i.e. the Muslims are becoming more religious!! When did they really stop being that when seen through "western" eyes? Muslims, by definition, are religious and can't be anything else. This is why no explanation is offered. Just her advice: give it up; these people will never change. Hence the precious conclusion:
"What all this means is that Western hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western."
There is nothing original here. E. M. Forster said it many years ago: "East is east, and west is west, and never the twain will meet."
Well, they've been meeting, clashing, embracing, screwing, and breeding for centuries.
I wonder what the 8000 enlightened people who approved the burning of the book would say if they were asked, "Do you support the burning at the stake of Sharif Kana'neh and Ibrahim Muhawi, the editors of Speak Bird, Speak Again?"
Actually, I don't want to know.
Friday, March 16, 2007
"Reaching for peace, a French artist this week hung the same huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians making silly faces across the cities of the two warring peoples. The artist, known simply as JR, hoped his oversized portraits - hung in public squares and on both sides of Israel's controversial West Bank separation barrier - would send a message of coexistence, understanding and humanity." Or as the subtitle of the article tellingly puts it, the attempt was to "humanize Israel's separation barrier."
Who can blame them? From their point of view, not only did the Israelis built a huge wall around them that took a good chunk of their land, imprisoned them, and blocked their literal and metaphorical horizons, they now come to make larger than life faces at them as if to taunt them in their prison.
The Israelis, on the other hand, seem more open to the humor. While some people may choose to see this as a sign that Israelis have a better sense of humor than Palestinians or that they are more open minded than their neighbors, I believe it has to do with location. The Israelis are looking at the pictures from a different place--i.e. from the other side of the wall. True, the wall has two sides, but the two sides are not equal.
The French artist meant well; his good intentions, however, led him into the "both sides" trap: both sides have a story to tell, both sides have a legitimate claim, both sides need to get along with each other, both sides have a wall between them. He forgot that one side built the illegal wall and the other side was trapped behind it.
The well-meaning French artist ended up doing what Vasco de Gama did when he went to China. According to the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe in his essay "An Image of Africa," the Portuguese explorer wrote about all the things he saw during his visit down to the smallest detail, but forgot to mention the great wall of china.
JR saw the two sides but, like De Gama, missed the wall, which is why the Palestinians missed the joke.
But the real moral of the story is that no matter how French or artistic you are, there is no way to "humanize Israel's separation barrier." It's made of concrete. Concrete can't be human.
"Mr. Abssi said he derived much of his spiritual guidance from Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Bukhari, a ninth-century Islamic scholar. A recent study by the Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, N.Y., listed Mr. Bukhari among the 20 Islamic scholars who had greater influence today among militant Arabs than Mr. bin Laden."
It's like calling Thomas Aquinas Mr. Aquinas!
It's an interesting slip: comes out of lumping people together and collapsing past and present so history itself is erased: so now we have Mr. Abssi, Mr. Bin Laden, and Mr. Bukhari!
Makes perfect orientalist sense!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
On a related note, I'm sorry to see that Naser el Deen al Sha'er, the Hamas Minister of Education, has retained his post in the new unity government. He should have lost it after the fiasco of the banning and burning of Speak Bird, Speak Again. I know he is meant to be one of the nice guys--at least pragmatic--. But he still should have not been rewarded by staying in place. Here's why:
One: Even if he himself has not issued the order to ban and burn the book as he says, he is still responsible for being ignorant.
Two: He is guilty for initially defending the banning of the book on the grounds that it's in colloquial Arabic while we teach only standard Arabic.
Three: He is guilty for not punishing those who were responsible. No such thing happened because neither al Sha'er nor Hamas believe that they really did anything wrong. The timing may have just been bad. That's all.
At least in the new cabinet, the Ministry of Culture is not with Hamas. They prefer to work on the micro level, so the Ministry of Education is more to their liking. They are probably saying let the leftists arrange Dabke and film festivals all they want (we can always use these to hackle them and show how trivial and immoral they are); we, in the meantime, will be shaping the curriculum one book at a time.
Another good thing is that Al Zahhar is out and is no longer the foreign minister. He was a disaster. I guess his plans for discovering new countries, like China and South Africa, have to be put on hold for now. He can now play Christopher Columbus or Ibn Batouta on his own private time.
Two Arabs were among the five recpients of the annual Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards, which salute people who have contributed to the defence of freedom of expression. Jailed Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Soliman received the award for journalism and assassinated Lebanese writer Samir Qasir received the Literature award for his book Being Arab.
On a related note, an Iranian blogger has been released from jail.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish won this year's Golden Wreath Award. Former winners of this award, given by the poetry evenings of Struga in Macedonia, include Pablo Neruda, Alan Ginsberg, W. H. Auden, Yehuda Amichai, and Adonis. (in Arabic)
Darwish concludes his address to the awarding festival with these words:
"I never dreamt of receiving this honor, of accepting your venerated prize: the Golden Wreath, thus joining the register of poets who have been my mentors. I consider it an honor to Arab poetry and an expression of moral support of the right of my country, Palestine, to join the family of free and independent nations."
It's been a long time since Palestinians got any good news. Darwish brought us some today.
Oh,yes, before I forget, a unity government has been agreed on and will be announced soon. I personally know two people in it, so it can't be all that bad.
(To read some of Darwish poems or hear him recite them, click on the "Mahmoud Darwish" tag at bottom of this post).
You gather your family and block the main road. This is what one Gaza family did to protest the bombing of their ceramic story in Beit Hanoun. I'm sure they would like to hear from anyone with a better idea of how they could be heard.
But the Israeli government and the majority of Israelis have convinced themseleves that Ma'leh Adumim is not a settlement, but a suberb of Jerusalem. It even has an ACE hardware store there. They made clear that this is the kind of settlement they will not give up.
So Ma'leh Adumim's numbers change.
what are the new numbers? (oh, take a wilde guess!)
Where did Peace Now get this number?
From the Israeli Civil Administration.
This is the problem with Peace Now. They buy into the world of make believe that their government creates. They are up in it to their necks. As one of them says, he can't prove that the numbers are wrong and the data base is manipulated. God forbid that they ever talk to the Palestinians and see what they have because their frame of reference is their government and the laws of their government--the unjust laws of their government.
But why even talk to the Palestinians. Whether the settlements are built on private Palestinian land or state land, they are illegal according to international law. It is illegal for an occupying force to change facts on the ground in the land it occupies. But Peace Now is not concerned here about international law, but about Israeli law. Private land is not good, but state land is kosher.
Although I'm desparate for any sign from the Israeli side of real support for Palestinian rights, I can't get excited over what's coming out of Peace Now.
As to this New York Times article about the new report, forget it! It will only confirm the average NYT's reader's view that things are "unclear" and "messy" and "complicated" when it comes to Israeli settlements so one is better not get too overexercised morally about it all and just hope the Palestinians appreciate how much the Israelis are agonizing over all of this mess that they just "found" themeselves in! In short, leave it to the Israelis. They'll do what's best.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Hasan Khader has some good suggestions, including stripping Palestinian women of their traditional embroidered dresses and shipping them (the dresses, not the naked women) to a neutral country like Switzerland for protection. Meanwhile we can import a shipment of Gulfi Abayas from Taiwan to keep the women looking decent. (in Arabic)
Some 700 Palestinian children (minors under 18) were arrested by Israeli soldiers over the course of the year, Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI) reported in its 2006 report, issued on 4 March 2007.
According to the report:
"Palestinian child political prisoners routinely face violations of their human rights during the arrest through imprisonment process. They are exposed to physical and psychological abuse, often amounting to torture. They are denied prompt access to an attorney and often denied contact with their families and the outside world. Many are held without charge or trial. They face substandard, often inhumane, conditions of detention, both in the facilities where they are initially held and interrogated and in those where they await trial and serve their sentence."
Monday, March 12, 2007
The article only scratches the surface. Nothing here about those in prison, or have been maimed permanently by their injuries. Palestinian society still doesn't know how to deal with this latter group.
But at the end of the day, it's the Israeli occupation that is imprisoning, maiming, and killing those men and women. The most terrible of the Israeli crimes has been killing hope in young people's hearts.
To be young and hopeless is the most unnatural state of being.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
The statement by the Islamists called on ""all respectable people from all communities and streams to stand up against preaching sexual deviance among our women and girls" and cautioned that "We must not let this fatal cancer spread in our community.""
Islamists love the "cancer" metaphor. In my college days, the "cancer" the Islamists were mobilized against was communism, not the occupation (I remember when they papered the Birzeit University campus with a little book called The Red Cancer) . Now, it's lesbians who are the cancer. As we all know, lesbianism spreads by preaching and eating too much soybeans. In fact, I've been told that some previously unknown group has been offering women and girls who convert to lesbianism free pedicures, bikinis, and a year supply of tofu. Quite tempting, no?
Lucky lesbians are not books that can be "destroyed." But then people stood up for books. Would they stand up for lesbians?
Oh, and the non-existing group has now a non-existing "Amir": Abu Suhayb al Makdisi. As to the damage to the shops they bombed and burned, it is also non-existent. I guess with the starvation and stress, Gazans are hallucinating!
Except that history is kind of repeating itself here! Toward the end of the first Intifada (not that we ever acknowledge the "end" of any of our intifadas), guns started appearing in the hands of teenagers and they turned inward, targeting "immoral" citizens such as homosexuals, alcohol drinkers, and non-veiled women.
So could it be that the same thing is happening again?
Or are we just hallucinating?
Saturday, March 10, 2007
راح عالجبل الثّاني ما لاقى هالغول، وعمل مثل ما عمل لَأخوه وقالُّه: >السلام عليكم< قالّه الغول: >وعليكم السلام. لولا سلامك سبق كلامك كان خلّيت أختي إللّي في هظاك الجبل تسمع قرْط عظامك. شو بدّك<؟ حكاله. قاله: >روح عند أختي على هظاك الجبل بتدلّك<. راح، لاقاها رادّة بزازها على ظهرها، وقاعدة بتطحن. قدّم، مصّ من بزّها اليمين واليسار ولَهم (أكل) حفنة من طحيناتها. قالتلُه: >مصّيت من بزّي اليمين صرت أعَز من أخوي إسماعين، ومصّيت من بزّي اليسار، صرت أعزّ من أخوي نصّار. إلْهَمِتْ من طحيناتي، صرت أعز من وليداتي. هالقيت شو بدّك<؟ قالها: >بدّي حبتين رمّان أطعمهن لهالنسوان على شان يحبلن<] (مهوي إبراهيم، كناعنة شريف، >قول يا طير< نصوص ودراسة في الحكايا الشعبية الفلسطينية، مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية - أيلول 2001 ص89).
According to the associated press report, 1500 copies have been destroyed.
I hope Hamas' s cultural agenda will be challenged every step of the way. Challenging this one was easy because it was so stupid as to defy comprehension. But it's a step in the forward direction.
Friday, March 09, 2007
The burning of music stores in Gaza in the name of religion reminded me of the historical fact that some of the great musicians of Arabic music were religiously-trained sheikhs. I'm thinking here of Sheikh Salamah Hijazi, Sheikh Imam, Zakariya Ahmad and the ever popular Sheikh Sayyid Darwish.Those artists didn't see a conflict between their religious training and beliefs and their making music.
Sheikh Sayyed Makkawi, blind since childhood, is among them. Here's one of his songs. It's called "Balash Me3anda" (don't be stubborn)
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I actually like Jeff.
How many times did they have to say "Islam says this and that" and "Muslims do and Muslims don't"? Why can't Rayyan just say "I don't date." This is a little sit com about a little mosque in a a little town. Why the constant urge to speak IN The NAME OF Islam and Muslims? Lose the big head little mosque.
What was the point of collapsing all dating with a Muslim woman dating a non-Muslim man and making that the taboo of all taboos? Why didn't they re-define dating? Especially when the flirting and sexual tension between the Imam and Rayan is used to drive the episode forward?
There are mosques that organize a "Muslim" version of speed dating. There are Muslims "dating" on specialized internet sites. The Muslims I know go on all kinds of dates, some with physical contact of varying degrees (I'll spare you the sports metaphors) and some without. People dated in college (and I don't mean only the leftists. Actually some of the best Habbeebeh (love birds) of my college days were Samer and Maysoon, two leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood on campus).
On this note, in pre-Intifada days many parents from my hometown used to ship their daughters (and sons) home when they reached puberty to protect them from the loose morals of American society. Those kids sometimes are living with their grandmothers or the mothers since the fathers are too busy working in their grocery stores in New York or Dearborn. So in effect the family is split and most of these kids hardly have a relationship with their fathers. The kids usually attend the American school in town and a couple of other private schools that were established to cater specially for them.
Whether the parents want to believe or not, these kids date. Probably more so in Ramallah than in Dearborn.
In short, Muslims date.
But wait--maybe that's the whole point of the episode: that those dating Muslims are not really Muslims or are bad Muslims that need to reform their ways.
In other words a sermon. "I'll get you a pamphlet" kind of non-argument.
Wake up little mosque. You're sounding too provincial even for a little mosque on the prairie.
Sheikh Yazid Khader, who is the director-general of the PA's Ministry of Education, has a few gems to justify the banning of the book Speak Bird, Speak Again from Palestinian schools
"The book was withdrawn because of the problems with offensive language which contradicts our beliefs and morals."
"Our society depends on Islamic values and has for hundreds of years. Our most important objective is to make curriculum adhere to our social values."
"This new generation is unable to distinguish between what is harmful and what is beneficial, so we have to protect them from these harmful influences. The Israeli occupation is interested in introducing us to Western values that work to destroy our Arab and Muslim values."
Dig for more gems here.
Frankly, I think the book should be banned because Shareef Kana'neh (pictured above), the co-editor of the banned book, has a very messy office. After all, neatness is one of our cheriched values.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I guess Sandra was right! The equipment definitely was not enough.
The Libyan government has decided that any Libyan woman under 40 can't leave the country without being accompanied by a male guardian. (in Arabic)
This new law has been vehemently criticized in the Libyan press.
Does this mean that Gaddafi no longer will travel with his female bodyguards? But wait a minute! How the heck did we go from him using women as bodyguards to them now needing male guards when they travel?
Or maybe the county has adopted "one step forward, two steps backward" as its national jig!
Update 3/11/2006: Libya cancelled the travel ban decision against women after much protest from women groups and others. Now Gaddafi can have his bodyguards back.
"* Two-thirds of the world's 800 million illiterate adults are women as girls are not seen as worth the investment, or are busy collecting water or firewood or doing other domestic chores.
* Two million girls aged from five to 15 join the commercial sex market every year.
* Domestic violence kills and injures more people in the developing world than war, cancer or traffic accidents.
* Seventy per cent of the world's poorest people are women.
* Violence against women causes more deaths and disabilities among women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.
* Women produce half the world's food, but own less than two per cent of the land.
* Of the more than one billion people living in extreme poverty, 70 per cent are women.
* Almost a third of the world's women are homeless or live in inadequate housing.
* Half of all murdered women are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
* Every minute a woman dies as a result of pregnancy complications.
* Women work two-thirds of the world's working hours, yet earn only a tenth of its income.
* One woman in three will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
* 43 million girls are not able to go to school.
* Last year, one million HIV-positive women died of AIDS-related illnesses because they could not get the drugs they needed."
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
The most disturbing thing in the review is the news that Ali wants to stay in America! Wants a green card so she can be a "regular American." There are plenty of sleazebags in this country, she'll fit right in. Or me be she'll be drowned. Bashers of Islam these days are a dime a dozen. Maybe she can buy a place next to Ann Coulter and Bill O'reilly. Wafa Sultan and Nonie Darwish will be among her circle of "friends." They can giggle over manicures all they want.
This woman thrives on controversy. She wouldn't be the celebrity she is today without the crime committed against the film director and the threats against her life. She has every right to speak and not be threatened, but she should be ignored. Her book should be reviewed and torn into shreds. Every single review that blindly praised her book should be torn into shreds. Sadly, the book is number 7 on the NYT bestseller list.
Stupid review. Stupid book. Should have written this at the beginning to save you the trouble of reading.
Interesting how the last cowardly word in the article is given to Dr Miriam Salih, the Hamas Minister of Women's Affairs, who had this to say about the honor killing law:
"Our main priority is to face occupation. When we have an independent state, we will put the law before the people to decide."
In other words, no rush.
But confiscating Palestinian folk tales, lecturing women about wearing the veil, and campaigning for an Islamist cultural agenda cannot be put off. It has to happen NOW. Under occupation. It's urgent business.
But honor killing crimes can wait. And wait. And wait.
In the meantime, women die, and die, and die.
The honor killing law should be, and can be, thrown out now. Because as far as I know, no political group, not Hamas, or Fateh, or the leftists, support it. So why wait?
Hamas will want to wait on this issue because they don't want to simply criminalize those who kill women. They want to replace it with another law that criminalizes women (and men) for sexual infractions.
Of course, the seculars wouldn't dare challenge them on that one.
Moreover, it's a myth that after independence we can attend to these issues. If you don't work on them now, after independence, if that ever comes, will be too late.
And as the banning of the Palestinian folk tales demonstrates, these people leaving the threats and planting the bombs have not come from outer space. They are home grown al right. It's the same ideology that unites all of them, but they may use different methods: Hamas will use the powers they got through democratic process to impose their social agenda, while the "swords of bateekh el sham" will use bombs and acid. The result is the same: the talibanization of Palestine.
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