Friday, August 31, 2007
"Thousands of Fatah supporters and various factions from the Palestinian Liberation Organization held Friday prayers in several city squares rather than in the mosques to protest against what they call "incitement from imams who belong to Hamas in Gaza."
"Four people demonstrating against Israel's separation wall were slightly injured after a scuffle with Israeli forces in the village of Al-Ma'sarah, south of Bethlehem on Friday.
Dozens of people staged the demonstration before the Friday Prayer, demanding that the separation wall is removed."
"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is expected to issue a warning today, cautioning women against genital cosmetic surgeries with names like “vaginal rejuvenation” and “designer vaginoplasty,” the WSJ reports."
Monday, August 27, 2007
The film is directed by 29-year-old Awad Abu Al-Kheir. It's his first.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Al Jazeera site reports what happens, but I've been noticing how they try to soften things a bit. For instance, the headline is "Rivals Battle at Gaza Protest" thus making sure to equate both sides. Al Quds al Arabi's headline was less charitable "Executive Force Fires at a Fateh Demonstration and Palestinian Journalists Protest Being Targeted." (Al Quds al Arabi , btw, is not a friend to Fateh). Moreover, al Jazeera emphasizes that the journalists were quickly released. Does this make the beating less wrong?
Apparently, Palestinian journalists don't think so. They staged yet another protest against Hamas's repression.
In Bi'lin. Every Friday. Israeli army responds violently to non-violent demonstrators.
In al Walaja, a village near Bethlehem, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals demonstrated peacefully against land confiscations and occupation.
In al Walaja, the Israeli army responded with force.
Imagine Bi'lins. Every day. Imagine al Walajas. Every day.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The clip begins with these words appearing on the screen: "the events in this clip are based on a true story."
When he has the accident, the lead character is wearing a T-shirt with the world "Progressive" emblazoned on it. We get many shots of it, so clearly the director doesn't want us to miss it. Why this word in particular? Is it related to the debates inside Saudi society between conservatives and reformists (progressives?) Is there a "progressives beware" message here?
I believe the answer to the above questions is yes. Again, religion, a rather simplistic form of it, is being claimed by one group to score points. But that's an old story.
There is nothing in the article about the discrimination against women who do not veil. For some women, not wearing a veil, whether a head cover or a face veil, limits not only their work opportunities, but their freedom of movement and their very safety. Just as it is not right for states and businesses to discriminate against women who choose to wear a veil, it is not right to discriminate against women who choose not to cover. It's a simple point that I made before many times on this blog. But it is worth repeating.
Interestingly, the article instantaneously appeared in Arabic.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
According to this article, Arab internet surfers make a significant percentage of visitors to Israeli porn sites. What struck me is that the most popular porn for them is that featuring Israeli women as soldiers and Mossad agents. Some of them even inquire if these women are the real thing; i.e. real soldiers and agents and not just hired porn actors.
What's the psychology of desire operating here? Is it something along the lines of if you can't beat them, "do" their women? In the case of Palestinian men, who are apparently among the customers, is it a chance to reverse power relations for an imaginary moment? The female soldier that humiliates the man at a checkpoint is now available to be consumed, dominated, and objectified. Or does it simply reflect an attraction to the power of the Other?
Of relevance see my post "Sex and the Nation"
Yeah. If you look into it. But who is going to do that when it's much easier to bash Arabs and their language and culture.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
When he has the accident, the lead character is wearing a T-shirt with the world "Progressive" emblazoned on it. We get many shots of it, so clearly the director doesn't want us to miss it. Why this word in particular? Is it related to the debates inside Saudi society between conservatives and reformists (progressives?)
I think it does. Again, religion is being claimed by one group to score points. But that's an old story.
Gazans may not have enough to eat, no place to go, no job to do, no factory to run, but they can now surf!
This break through is thanks to a "surfing for peace" movement that donated surfing boards to Gazans. Israeli companies donated 12 surfing boards. Wow!! (update: NYT has a long article about it)
I really don't like to scoff at any gesture of solidarity no matter how small because we disparately need all. But this particular one I find it hard to stomach. There is something terribly condescending about it. Am I wrong?
An afterthought: In light of the fact that Hamas formed a "marine force" recently, a force that has no boats and no other equipment, which is meant to crack down on drug dealers and prostitutes (I didn't know we have ship loads of prostitutes infiltrating the Gaza shores!), maybe the surf boards will come in handy and tip the balance of marine power.
Update: 8/23/07: Israel shelled Palestinian fishermen on the Gaza coast, destroying 10 boats and arresting 8 men. Details in Arabic. In other words, there wasn't much surfing or much peace.
Why was it so popular? It must have touched a nerve. The visuals transformed the meaning of the optimistic, gentle, sentimental words into something else. They attempt to offer a narrative of Arab nationalism beginning with al Nakba of 1948 onward. Judging from the images, it's a history of one defeat after another.
You can watch the song below. I could only find it in two installments. The second video contains some graphic images, including the infamous bone-crushing scenes from the first Intifada.
I would argue that these few images from the first Intifada are the most powerful because they were the most hopeful.
The refrain of the song:
Perhaps the darkness of night will separate us for a day
But one ray of light will penetrate to the highest sky
This is our dream all our life
To be all united in one embrace
And my favorite part:
Love whose fire is a spark
and eyes full of promise
Remaking the world
Children with stones in their hands
Monday, August 20, 2007
With a dig at Al Jazeera, he maintains that what its "talk show" programs offer is the "illusion of democracy." I agree. You only have to watch "The Opposite Direction" to enjoy one of their entertaining shouting matches from which you learn nothing.
Another effect is opening the airwaves to religious culture, which now dominates. So if you don't want to watch politicians screaming at each other, you can watch sheiks issuing one fatwa after another about everything.
A third option is the cabaret culture of the video clip. Khouri rightly points out that both the religious shows and the cabaret clips originate financially and politically from the same source (hint: words "oil" and "money" are relevant here). He calls them two sides of one coin.
This source exercises monopoly. So we are not talking about free market competition. There is no competition because the democratic national media, which could counter this hegemony, no longer exists. Why? Because the national project is dead thanks to Egypt's coma, Palestine's new loss, and Lebanon's occupation by the sects and sectarians.
Read the whole article here in Arabic.
I wish such calls were issued when Arafat was alive about his own finances. What right did he have to have millions of dollars in his own name when they belonged to the PLO? The principle of I am the PLO and the PLO is me according to which Arafat operated should have been rejected and resisted along time ago.
So we can go after Suha instead. It's the least that can be done.
Another troubling issue is how the word "intifada" is now given a meaning that it didn't have a few years ago. When the word entered the English language after the first Palestinian uprising in 1987, it actually had positive connotations. People used it to refer to movements that seek to throw off shackles (e.g. LA Intifada). It definitely retained the David vs. Goliath connotations because the main image it conjured was of a skinny Palestinian kid aiming his slingshot at a tank! The militarization of the Al Aqsa Intifada is in part responsible for the erosion of this meaning, despite the daily and weekly efforts of courageous villages like Bi'lin that has been engaged in a non-militarized resistances, in their own Intifadas, for years. An ineffective Qassam missile, thanks to media representations--including Palestinian and Arab media--erases all the hard work of the villagers and their supporters.
Back to the RAWI statement:
RAWI Urges the City of New York to Reinstate Debbie Almontaser
RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers, is concerned by the recent "resignation" of Debbie Almontaser from New York City's Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public school devoted to Arabic language and culture.
Almontaser generated public controversy when she was spotted by a reporter wearing a tee-shirt with the phrase "Intifada NYC" at an event sponsored by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. Both the event and the organization are unrelated to the Gibran Academy. As Almontaser attempted to explain repeatedly, the shirt is not in any way an endorsement of violence; "the word basically means 'shaking off,'" she noted.
Almontaser was subjected to vicious and factually unsubstantiated attacks by neoconservative media and commentators such as Daniel Pipes, who published sensationalistic articles entitled "A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn" and "Stop the NYC Madrassa." ("Madrassa" merely means "school" in Arabic.) Rupert Murdoch's New York Post dubbed Almontaser "the Initifada Principal" and ran an editorial under the title "What's Arabic for Shut It Down?" Amid the brouhaha, Randi Weingarten, the president of Almontaser's union, The United Federation of Teachers, took a public stand in opposition to Almontaser.
Almontaser, an Arabic-speaking Yemeni immigrant, is the founding principal of the school and is a veteran public school teacher. Because of the intense pressure, she was advised to resign as principal of the Academy; Mayor Michael Bloomberg accepted her resignation and swiftly replaced her with Danielle Salzberg, a non-Arabic-speaking American Jew; according to The Post, Salzberg is "an ardent Zionist who considered moving to Israel."
RAWI views this intense pressure and Almontaser's subsequent resignation as symptoms of pervasive anti-Arab racism in the United States through which nonviolent, workaday Arabic terms have been stigmatized with sinister, albeit nonsensical, connotations. We correspondingly view New York City's move to replace Almontaser with a non-Arab Zionist as a profound insult to the Arab American community. The clear message to the Arab American community is that we cannot undertake any of our own affairs without continuous public scrutiny and external bureaucratic supervision.
We have also learned that in moments of crisis the fear and loathing of Arabs will supersede the commonsensical need to exercise basic civil responsibility.
As a community of writers, scholars, and artists, RAWI is concerned about the consequences of the Almontaser imbroglio to the freedom of intellectual and cultural expression. If the City of New York can be cowed into taking action against a decorated principal who had done nothing other than wear a tee-shirt emblazoned with a cultural slogan, then groups whose purpose is to restrict public freedom will be inexcusably empowered. The effect of such groups on the Arab American community has already been substantial and has the potential to become pernicious.
Almontaser was the victim of a sensationalistic and premeditated media attack. She was then the victim of cowardice by her union and employers. RAWI urges the City of New York to reinstate her forthwith as principal of the Gibran Academy, a position from which she had no legitimate reason to resign.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
New and more widely available technology, the engine of India's relentless economic growth, is also fuelling female foeticide."
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Unlike Almontaser, Salzberg is not at risk of being brought down by any Arabic words because she, safely, does not know any.
"The Israeli forces on Wednesday began to raze hundreds of forest trees belonging to the Cremisan monastery near Beit Jala, in the southern occupied Palestinian West Bank.... The area to be destroyed includes around 2,150 forest trees, some of which are over 200 years old. The trees are being razed in order to erect the illegal separation wall, which is located near the border of Jerusalem. The Cremisan Monastery was founded in 1883 on the ruins of a seventh century Byzantine monastery. It is well-known for producing Cremisan Wine from local grapes."
The most recent educational piece their genius produced means well. They want to teach kids not to be cruel to animals. Excellent idea. But the way they go about it is anything but excellent: it's stupid. They have Nahoul, the bee character, go to the zoo and abuse some animals. This is meant to show what not to do. Back in the studio, he's told that what he did is wrong and the kids are encouraged NOT to follow his example.
It doesn't work. If the comedy part, the fun part, is of Nahoul swinging a cat by the tail or throwing stones at a lion in a cage, the "lesson" part, delivered in a stern moral tone in the studio, will not make an impression. The kids are more likely to remember the fun part with their favorite character.
This is obvious enough. But it seems the people producing this program on Al Aqsa TV are clueless. On so many levels. I beg them to leave the kids alone and not educate them. Make ads for halal cola instead! Please, guys! Have mercy!
Of course this post can't end here. There is more to be said.
The reason you and I know about Nahoul's unfortunate visit to the zoo is an anti-Palestinian propaganda group that makes sure to watch lots of bad Palestinian TV, translate it, and distribute it widely. Believe me, they don't give a fig about the well-being of Palestinian cats, both domestic and wild. Their agenda is proving that the Palestinians are subhumans who do not respect life and are not part of the civilized world. Like Al Aqsa TV they are criticizing, they are in the business of propaganda, but with more resources and outreach.
In fact, in this case, Al Aqsa TV, which I don't have any sympathy with (after all it did broadcast in celebration the street assassination of at least one Fateh man), has the high moral ground over the people who put the Nahoul episode on u tube. They did not intend to be cruel to animals; their crime is being ignorant. They, not the kids they address, need to be "educated."
However, the distributors of anti-Palestinian propaganda have very bad intentions indeed: they aim to dehumanize human beings who have been dispossessed and occupied. You only have to read comments on the video to see how well their education of their audience is paying off.
So let us keep things in perspective: what they are doing is the real crime.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Hamas is rejecting these "confessions" as forced.
They are right, of course.
The man is innocent till proven guilty. And for that to happen you need charges, lawyers, evidence, and trials.
Whether true or not, the story the man tells of his recruitment is a familiar one of sexual seduction and blackmail:
"Later, I met the Israeli intelligence officer, Raviv. He offered me collaboration with them and threatened me and I refused. He left me and an Israeli soldier entered and tried to seduce me. I couldn't resist the seduction, so I slept with her twice. After that she walked out.
"After that Raviv returned and threatened me by showing me pictures of me having sex with the Israeli soldier. I had to agree to their deal."
I have a problem with the sex part: why would this man not resist the "seduction" considering the context in which it is happening? For crying out loud, it's happening in an interrogation room! He surly grew up on stories of how sex is used to blackmail men like him into collaboration. I'm supposed to believe that all it takes to recruit a decent Palestinian man into becoming a traitor of the lowest kind is presenting him with the body of a woman!!!
Something is not right!
"Executive Force members attacked two cameramen of Abu Dhabi TV channel and Ramattan New Agency and stormed the Gaza bureau of Al-Arabiya, the pan-Arab TV channel."
All this in an attempt to break up a protest rally against its Gaza rule. Hamas is demanding that people get permits so they can be "protected."
One of the participants in the rally, who is not Fateh,but must be a secular infidel zionist-lover devil, has this to say:
"What happened today was an ... attempt to suppress and terrorise people who have the right to hold peaceful demonstrations."
Sunday, August 12, 2007
A government ban alone will not do much to stop the practice. But if men start saying that they absolutely refuse to marry any woman who is circumcised, parents may stop putting their daughters through this mutilation. If Al Azhar and Amr Khaled tell people that women's bodies are not Fitna (sources of threat and anarachy) that have to be covered to protect men, perhaps barbers and doctors who perform this operation will go out of business. If a man's honor no longer lies between a woman's thighs, but in his own actions, perhaps no 13-year-old girl will die in circumcision.
It may also help if we stop cursing women's vaginas every time we don't get a good night's sleep.
We should try. What would we lose?
Really? Tens of thousands?? At a conference in Ramallah? Wow!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
What wouldn't women do to please a man? Apparently, to make a good impression on men these days, women now are ordering steak even on first dates (Shock and Awe!!!). Not only that, they are, in fact, eating it too!
Salad is out. Way way out! And if you are still a vegetarian, you'd better reconcile yourself to a life of rejection and loneliness. For vegetarianism now indicates you are high maintenance, too fussy, neurotic, and have food issues. And of course a lesbian.
What will happen when steak ceases to impress? Ladies, don't panic: there's always tripe.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
It will be really a shame if Hollywood ends up taking over the Indian film industry.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Wilders is widely known for being as intelligent as my coffee table.
But seriously, what's with those Dutch? Every time a politician is bored and wants a career change all he or she needs do is say something stupid about Islam, get police protection, then land a job with the American Enterprise Institute?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
(Great job, Sa'd!! I'm so proud of you!)
Here's Shadia and Faten Hamama for a little celebration:
For now, I would like to thank Delia, who invited me to participate, and to wish her a great vacation with her family.
I must say it was fun!
I forgot to say that Khouri is still against imperialism, Zionism, and dictatorship. It can be done! Just need to control that jerky knee more.
Bravo mightt army! You defeated kids with kites.
Notice that if the practice is going to stop, it is because some soldiers (the least delusional I guess) are unhappy with it. The villagers can complain from now to eternity that they don't like this scary game in which they are always captured when they are already captured but nobody will listen.
Yes, I'm talking about the twilight zone!
Monday, August 06, 2007
I wonder why they are being punished! Maybe they are too noisy, too whiny, too moody, too needy, too colicky, or even too cutesy.
Or maybe they just pooped too much.
For you see Ghada is 10 months old and Bara' is 13 months old.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
According to The Wall Street Journal:
"...some women disillusioned with routine use of drugs and medical interventions during labor are turning to an unusual solution -- belly dancing. They're restoring the titillating dance of seduction -- frequent entertainment fare in night clubs and Middle Eastern restaurants -- to what they say were its origins in childbirth, while enhancing maternity wards with swirling motions and mesmerizing music."
I see. Now American women are "restoring" belly dancing to its origins. They are rescuing it from the degradation it has fallen into, becoming a "titillating dance of seduction" at night clubs and Middle Eastern restaurants and taking it back to its origins as a child birth technique. For apparently many of the belly dance moves are preparing for child birth.
Damn! I had no idea!
Neither did my mother and grandmothers before me!
If they only knew! If I only knew! For you see, I did give birth once and I belly danced more than once. I just never thought of combining the two activities. Till now. Had I known, I would have just said no to that epidural (which until this morning I thought was the best thing invented since mjaddara) and just shook my hips till my baby made a grand theatrical entrance, kicking his heels in some great dabkeh moves.
I have no problem with women delivering their babies to Amr Dyab music (on second thoughts maybe it's not a good idea). But can we please be spared the heroic tales about "restoring" belly dance to its lofty origins?
And to prove that I'm not being peevish, territorial, or closed minded, here's one of my favorite Egyptian belly dancers, Taheya Carioka, with some cool birthing tips (please consult your doctor before trying at home):
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Do You Love Me?
A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more
than you love me?
The beloved replied,
I have died to myself
and I live for you.
I’ve disappeared from myself
and my attributes.
I am present only for you.
I have forgotten all my learning,
but from knowing you
I have become a scholar.
I have lost all my strength,
but from your power
I am able.
If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.
I haven't read news over the past week and I avoided CNN like the plague, so I have a bit of catching up to do. Or I can just ignore whatever happened and assume that what the coming days will bring is more of the same: mostly bad news.
I've been dreading what my first post after a week's silence is going to be. In a way, I didn't want it to be about war, death, or misery. So I'm glad to find this story which I would like to link to as the first post. It's about using mules to take books to remote mountain villages in Venezuela. The story cheered me up, gave me hope that as bad as things are most of the time, there are good things happening. I want to remember that.
So I'm back on the back of a mule, so to speak.