Only justice, not bombs, can make our dangerous world a safer place
This was the year the "war on terror" - an obnoxious expression which we all parroted after 11 September 2001 - appeared to be almost as endless as George Bush once claimed it would be. And unsuccessful. For, after all the bombing of Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Taliban, the invasion of Iraq and its appallingly tragic aftermath, can anyone claim today that they feel safer than they did a year ago?
We have gone on smashing away at the human rights we trumpeted at the Russians - and the Arabs - during the Cold War. We have perhaps fatally weakened all those provisions that were written into our treaties and conventions in the aftermath of the Second World War to make the world a safer place. And we claim we are winning.
Where, for example, is the terror? In the streets of Baghdad, to be sure. And perhaps again in our glorious West if we go on with this folly. But terror is also in the prisons and torture chambers of the Middle East. It is in the very jails to which we have been merrily sending out trussed-up prisoners these past three years. For Jack Straw to claim that men are not being sent on their way to torture is surely one of the most extraordinary - perhaps absurd is closer to the mark - statements to have been made in the "war on terror". If they are not going to be tortured - like the luckless Canadian shipped off to Damascus from New York - then what is the purpose of sending them anywhere?
And how are we supposed to "win" this war by ignoring all the injustices we are inflicting on that part of the world from which the hijackers of September 11 originally came? How many times have Messrs Bush and Blair talked about "democracy"? How few times have they talked about "justice", the righting of historic wrongs, the ending of torture? Our principal victims of the "war on terror", of course, have been in Iraq (where we have done quite a bit of torturing ourselves).
But, strange to say, we are silent about the horrors the people of Iraq are now enduring. We do not even know - are not allowed to know - how many of them have died. We know that 1,100 Iraqis died by violence in Baghdad in July alone. That's terror.
But how many died in the other cities of Iraq, in Mosul and Kirkuk and Irbil, and in Amara and Fallujah and Ramadi and Najaf and Kerbala and Basra? Three thousand in July? Or four thousand? And if those projections are accurate, we are talking about 36,000 or 48,000 over the year - which makes that projected post-April 2003 figure of 100,000 dead, which Blair ridiculed, rather conservative, doesn't it?
It's not so long ago, I recall, that Bush explained to us that all the Arabs would one day wish to have the freedoms of Iraq. I cannot think of an Arab today who would wish to contemplate such ill fortune, not least because of the increasingly sectarian nature of the authorities, elected though they are.
The year did allow Ariel Sharon to achieve his aim of turning his colonial war into part of the "war on terror". It also allowed al-Qa'ida's violence to embrace more Arab countries. Jordan was added to Egypt. Woe betide those of us who are now locked into the huge military machine that embraces the Middle East. Why, Iraqis sometimes ask me, are American forces - aerial or land - in Uzbekistan? And Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, in Turkey and Jordan (and Iraq) and in Kuwait and Qatar and Bahrain and Oman and Yemen and Egypt and Algeria (there is a US special forces unit based near Tamanrasset, co-operating with the same Algerian army that was involved in the massacre of civilians the 1990s)?
In fact, just look at the map and you can see the Americans in Greenland and Iceland and Britain and Germany and ex-Yugoslavia and Greece - where we join up with Turkey. How did this iron curtain from the ice cap to the borders of Sudan emerge? What is its purpose? These are the key questions that should engage anyone trying to understand the "war on terror".
And what of the bombers? Where are they coming from, these armies of suiciders? Still we are obsessed with Osama bin Laden. Is he alive? Yes. But does he matter? Quite possibly not. For he has created al-Qa'ida. The monster has been born. To squander our millions searching for people like Bin Laden is about as useless as arresting nuclear scientists after the invention of the atom bomb. It is with us.
Alas, as long as we are not attending to the real problems of the Middle East, of its record of suffering and injustice, it - al-Qa'ida - will still be with us. My year began with a massive explosion in Beirut, just 400 metres from me, as a bomb killed the ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri. It continued on 7 July when a bomb blew up two trains back from me on the Piccadilly line. Oh, the dangerous world we live in now. I suppose we all have to make our personal choices these days. Mine is that I am not going to allow 11 September 2001 to change my world. Bush may believe that 19 Arab murderers changed his world. But I'm not going to let them change mine. I hope I'm right.
© 2005 Independent News and Media Limited
31 December 2005
Only justice, not bombs, can make our dangerous world a safer place
30 December 2005
Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.: Matthew 7:12
Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what which he desires for himself. Sunnah
Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.: Udana Varga 5:18
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.: Talmud, Shabbat 31:a
Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.: Analects 15:23
Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.: T’ai Shag Kan Ying P’ien
Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself. : Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5
Thanks to Georgianne & Tom
26 December 2005
He was in Liberia, one of the few countries he went to seeking work. He was one of the thousands of young Lebanese who left their families and country to find work elsewhere. Why?... because of the absurd sectarian, pseudo-feudal, God-knows-what economic and political system we have here.
He was larger than life, very active, optimistic, fun loving and compassionate. Nothing could make him feel low. Only death did. He was 47. It is difficult to write about him in the past tense.
He loved life because he loved freedom.
His body fell but his spirit engraved itself on this world.
His memory lives on through his two children and those who love him.
On his tombstone is inscribed:
ء 23 تشرين الثاني 1958 - 13 كانون الأول 2005 ء
أحب الحياة لأنه أحب الحرية
وأحب الموت متى كان الموت طريقا للحياة
فرضت حقيقتها على هذا الوجود
فالحياة له هي كلها
12 December 2005
Condemning these cyclic acts of political assassinations is becoming like a refrain from some lousy song. And this blog is becoming more and more like the obituary page in some low circulation newspaper.
The scenes from the blast site that killed the prominent journalist Gebran Tueni are reminiscent of sites from the civil war back in the seventies, as if showing us the shape of things to come.
I usually listened to Gebran and read his editorials. Although I did not agree with him on most of the issues and arguments that he raised, he was respected for his boldness and for the changes that he initiated at Dar Annahar, the publishers of An Nahar newspaper and Naharnet news web site.
Nobody deserves this. Lebanon does not deserve this. Every time we recuperate from a shock we get another. The situation is becoming very fragile.
My heart goes to Gebran’s father, Ghassan Tueni – a man for whom I have high regards – and to his wife and children. May God have mercy on his soul.
Another assassination attempt happened three days ago (on Friday) in the Bekaa. About 25kg of TNT was planted in the car of Hussein Assaf, a leading member of Hizbullah. The attempt failed and Assaf was unhurt because he left his car a few seconds before the bomb went off.
08 December 2005
04 December 2005
Arabic version at http://electroniciraq.net/news/2210.shtml
Sign the petition at http://freethecpt.org/
Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), identified as James Loney (Canadian), Harmeet Singh Sooden (Canadian), Tom Fox (American) and Norman Kember (British) were taken as hostages this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government.
They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.
Mehlis refuses to continue as the head of the investigation team into the murder of late P.M. Rafic Hariri. The person on the street here is saying that this is because of the witnesses, Siddiq and Husam on whose testimonies he based his report and indictment and who turned out to be liars. Not to mention the other witness who (maybe) died in a car accident. People in the street are saying it was a successful act of counter intelligence on the part of the Syrians.
The troubling news is that the investigative team were warned by western intelligence not to depend on either Siddiq or Husam but the advice was not heeded.
In fact the word on the street is that the team was “swayed” into using these potentially “devastating” testimonies by some Lebanese who are seekers of “the truth” behind the murder of P.M. Hariri.
I think Mehlis now knows why no prophet ever lasted long in this “land of prophets”.
Mass graves in Lebanon. This was the last item missing in our collection. We needed this to make us in perfect homogeneity with the “third world” the so called “developing” nations. We expect more to be found. We expect some of them to go back to as far as 1975 civil war. But the shame is some are expected to date to the nineties.
The media here stated a few weeks ago that thousands are expected to be found in mass graves around the country and that the government is seeking the help of the UN to find them. But all this time I was wishing that this will turn up to be false.
Well it does not seem to be so. Maybe I was not a good boy last year, because Santa did not grant my wish this Christmas.
None of the officials of the government went to the site discovered in Anjar, nor did any of them comment. Only the mayor of Anjar who claimed that he reported his suspicion to the authorities two years ago, but nothing was done. Damn it man, mass graves in Lebanon, what can a person say!
*Update: Investigations showed that these were not "mass graves" but ordinary graves 50 to 350 years old.
02 December 2005
People who know they are HIV positive in Lebanon keep very quiet about the matter to avoid becoming social outcasts.AIDS is taboo. Anyone suspected of having the disease risks total rejection by their friends, family and colleagues at work.Sara, a 40-year-old office worker in Beirut, knows all about that. She has been living with AIDS for the past 15 years and manages to keep going with the help of life-prolonging anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs. But the only person she has told about her condition is her sister... more here.
Statistics regarding the number of HIV-positive people in Lebanon are incomplete and unreliable because of the negative attitude that surrounds it. However, UNAIDS estimated that there were 2,800 people living with the HIV virus at the end of 2003, and that the real number is even three times more. What is worse is that the majority of persons with the virus -about three quarters - are not receiving treatment.
HIV awareness is still in its primitive stages here, this is why awareness campaigns are necessary. HIV patients are discriminated against at work at in the society, so some simply do not seek help, preventing them from having access to health care. Today patients with HIV can expect to live long and well because doctors have learned to combine drugs into regimens that successfully attack the virus at multiple places in its life cycle.
Some ngo's and other organizations are doing a lot in the area of campaigns of awarness. The ministry of health has proposed laws in the interests of the patients. Awarness forums at universities and in schools and other community based activities are taking place, but a lot is still needed on the ground to change the people's attitude.
Help fight AIDS by spreading awarness about this killer disease.
01 December 2005
Support a Free Press in the Middle East. Stand with the men and women of AlJazeera...
Visit Don't Bomb Us , A blog by Al Jazeera Staffers.
Heard the Word of Blog?
And if you are prepared to pay for the price of freedom then go here, join us and pledge to publish the Al Jazeera memo. ...
Heard the Word of Blog?
30 November 2005
"Lubnan Al-Akhdar" (Green Lebanon) is the famous song (by Fairuz), usually aired a lot during "independence day" celebrations, claiming that the world is now more beautiful because of our paradise on Earth: Lebanon. But the fact is we are now facing desertification at an alarming rate. The situation would have seemed hopeless if it were not for the appreciated efforts of a few local organizations like the green line, protection of nature, shouf cedars and the local branches of some international organizations. Although we are highly politicized, it seems that we are not so aware when it comes to environmental issues. Environmental clubs in universities and schools are not that popular yet, and environmental activists are looked down upon. The activities of the Ministry of Environment have yet to show their fruits. "Lubnan Al-Akhdar" is more than just a perfect photo for a post card. It is the livelyhood of the Lebanese. It is our source of income as well as good health. We should all be held accountable.
26 November 2005
The Liberians have elected a new president. She is Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. By this Liberia has added another first in its history. In addition to being the first African country to gain independence, it is now the first African country to have a woman as a president. Congratulation Ms. President, congratulations Liberia.
25 November 2005
Fairuz chants in favor of immigration
Fairuz longs for a small peaceful house in Canada "bayt sghir bi Canada". This is the theme of one of her latest songs. It wouldn’t have caught my attention had it not been the Fairuz of the Rahbanis’ who is singing. Actually this is a red alert.
Fairuz is a symbol of Lebanese nationalism. (She is also a symbol of Palestinian struggle and of Syrian nationalism too. Have fun figuring that out.)
The echoes of her chanting call “sa narja3u yawman illa hayyinna” (we shall return someday to our neighborhood) still reverberate today. So for her to sing and support leaving and immigrating to as far away from Lebanon as Canada reflects the darkness looming in the horizon of the land of the cedars.
It seems that the prophecy voiced in the play “natourit al mafateeh” (the keeper of the keys) by the Rahbanis, in which Fairuz played the major role, is being fulfilled.
In the play, all the dwellers of a kingdom decide to leave as a result of the corrupt and unjust rule of their king. So they leave the keys of their homes with “the keeper of the keys” played by Fairuz. The king wakes up and finds that he rules empty houses and only one person. The plot then goes on.
Our politicians should be warned that they might end up ruling “nobody” if the political hypocrisy, “racist” sectarian splits, economic divide, ugly bullshit, etc. continue.
Quoting Ali: “Talking about the immigration of brains, (hijrat al admigha) I think I should immigrate too, this will prove I have a brain.”
23 November 2005
Lebanon needs to be independent from the whims of its sects. All the sects should be "disarmed".
22 November is the national independence day of Lebanon. This year, Prime Minister Saniora’s government came up with “Independence, Liberation, Freedom” as a motto for the celebration of 22/11.
“Independence” from the French mandate in 1943, “Liberation” of the South of Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000 (thanks to Hezbollah, Syrian and Iranian help) and “Freedom” from the Syrian interference in Lebanese public life.
P.M. Seniora’s objective is obvious: an attempt to bring together the two major divides in Lebanon, or what have come to be known as 8th of March and 14th of March with a dash of history. But this did not work.
On the eve of 22/11 clashes in the South, between Israeli forces on the one hand and the Hezbollah and Lebanese army on the other hand (four Lebanese died), show how fragile “independence and liberation” are.
Disregarding recent Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty, some of us Lebanese started “shouting” that we should disarm the “resistance” because it is a “threat” to the sovereignty of the State.
I see another "greater" threat to the sovereignty and unity of the State of Lebanon. Not only Hezbollah and as a consequence the Shiites have weapons, but almost each of the other sects is "armed" with a total control of at least one major facet of our life. This gives each sect the power to decide and guide wholly one or more of the economic, military, educational, foreign, and other policies which influence the entire population regardless of their sect. This control over each one of these aspects – which is distributed among the sects by law or enforced by tradition – contradicts the principles of sovereignty, unity, the role of the State and the concept of equality among citizens.
If we really seek democracy, development, freedom, equality, liberation, independence… then I believe that all the sects should be “disarmed”. No sect should have, for any reason, any authority, above or greater than the authority of the State.
Michael Moore’s letter to President Bush on Iraq:
Dear Mr. Bush:
I would like to extend my hand and invite you to join us, the mainstream American majority. We, the people -- that's the majority of the people -- share these majority opinions:
1. Going to war was a mistake -- a big mistake. (link)
2. You and your administration misled us into this war. (link)
3. We want the war ended and our troops brought home. (link)
4. We don't trust you. (link)
Now, I know this is a bitter pill to swallow. Iraq was going to be your great legacy. Now, it's just your legacy. It didn't have to end up this way.
This week, when Republicans and conservative Democrats started jumping ship, you lashed out at them. You thought the most damning thing you could say to them was that they were "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party." I mean, is that the best you can do to persuade them to stick with you -- compare them to me? You gotta come up with a better villain. For heaven's sakes, you had a hundred-plus million other Americans who think the same way I do -- and you could have picked on any one of them!
But hey, why not cut out the name-calling and the smearing and just do the obvious thing: Come join the majority! Be one of us, your fellow Americans! Is it really that hard? Is there really any other choice? George, take a walk on the wild side!
Your loyal representative from the majority,
12 November 2005
The small Arabic script in this cartoon says "conflicts of the Arabs", but I think this cartoon by Naji is also representative of Lebanese dialogue or alhiwar al lubnani that is so "in" these days.
Mutapha Akkad (1935 – 2005) was a Syrian-American producer, director and actor. Born in Aleppo, Syria. He and his daughter Rima were murdered by terrorists in the Nov. 2005 Amman bombings in addition to more than 70 innocent civilians.
Mustapha Akkad made an effort in his life bridge the gap between the west and Islam and to remove the stigma of terrorism that Islam has been accused of ...
He was in the process of producing a film about Saladin. Speaking of the film, he said,
"...Saladin exactly portrays Islam. Right now, Islam is portrayed as a terrorist religion. Because a few terrorists are Muslims, the whole religion has that image. If there ever was a religious war full of terror, it was the crusades. But you can't blame Christianity because a few adventurers did this. That's my message."
In an interview, in 1976, about his film Al Risala, he said:
"I did the film because it is a personal thing for me. Besides its production values as a film, it has its story, its intrigue, its drama. Beside all this I think there was something personal, being Muslim myself who lived in the west I felt that it was my obligation my duty to tell the truth about Islam. It is a religion that has a 700 million following, yet it's so little known about it which surprised me. I thought I should tell the story that will bridge this gap to the west."
"Prevail" is the "in" word in America just now. We are not going to "win" in Iraq - because we did that in 2003, didn’t we, when we stormed up to Baghdad and toppled Saddam? Then George Bush declared "Mission Accomplished". So now we must "prevail". That’s what F J "Bing" West, ex-soldier and former assistant secretary for International Security Affairs in the Reagan administration said this week. Plugging his new book - No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah - he gave a frightening outline of what lies in store for the Sunni Muslims of Iraq. more... (by Robert Fisk )
10 November 2005
How the Bush administration is spreading the seeds of democracy and peace in the world. Fire Bombs in Iraq: Napalm By Any Other Name
The Israeli Defense Forces are also helping in the sowing of the "good seeds": IDF using phosphorus shells in populated areas
Jordan hotel blasts kill dozens
Nothing can justify such brutal acts that target innocent civilians... acts like these just makes things worse for the rest of the population in this already ill-fated region...
"I lost my father and my father-in-law on my wedding night," he added. "The world has to know that this has nothing to do with Islam."
-The groom Ashraf al-Khaled who was hosting a wedding
reception at the Radisson SAS, Amman, when the bomb went off.
A call from Beirut Spring:
The "We Trust Mehlis" Petition is now available
online. Everyone who believes that Detlev Mehlis is doing a good job should
sign it. Tell your friends, your family, post it on your blog/website and
encourage your readers to sign it. do whatever you can to let our opinion out.
We cannot allow credibility of this man to be tarnished.
07 November 2005
A 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmad Khateep, shot in the head and chest this week by Israeli soldiers died of his wounds on Saturday, Nov. 5. His father said his family had decided to donate the boy's organs to Israeli children who needed them.
Ahmad was shot in Jenin, West Bank.
The boy's father, Ismail Khateep said, "We want to send a message of peace to Israeli society, to the Defense Ministry and the Israeli parliament," he said. Israeli forces "killed my son who was healthy and we want to give his organs to those who need them."
This would make Ghandi look like an amateur. Hattallu wizik.
06 November 2005
Visit this site. The people of Syria are caught in a complex political
game outside of their control. Having suffered for decades from internal
oppression and external threats, they now stand powerless in the face of the
Bush administration's latest campaign to change the Middle East, according to
its own interests only....
Friends of Syria support the continued peaceful and
strong relationship between the people of Syria and the people of Lebanon, and
call upon both countries to respect each other's sovereignty and support each
other's national interests....
The people of Syria are caught in a complex political
05 November 2005
04 November 2005
Secret Prisons run by the CIA. So much for human rights?!!!.
He: Walla shi nice, the Aouniyin have some good plans and slogans, can they fulfill them…
She: Because they are Lebanese!!
Happy Holidays?!! It is difficult to celebrate, with all the death and trouble around us. From trying to cope with the assassination of Mr. Hariri and all the repercussions that followed in Lebanon, to Iraqi kids who stay indoors to escape the explosions that are growing in frequency and in number of casualties. And to Palestinians who have to deal with daily killings in addition to occupation, poverty and an illegal apartheid wall of separation. And one can go on and on.
Wishes for Happy Holidays have no meaning unless they are wishes for better times in the future.
InshAllah tin3ad 3llaykun bilkheir.
23 October 2005
Pres. Bush is “highly worried” about the Syrian involvement in the assassination of former P.M. Hariri as was stated in the Mehlis’ report. Sec. C. Rice was “deeply worried”. She can not accept the involvement of any government in the assassination of a former P.M. of another country. The U.S. neither practices nor condones such acts. France was impressed with the “high level” of professionalism in which the investigation was carried out. They think that the report can not be criticized. John Bulton does not even think that the Syrians should protest or try to defend themselves. The right of the accused to defend him/herself does not apply in this case. He is surely the right man to represent the U.S. in the United Nations. Jack Straw is “concerned” and is calling on the Syrians to change, really change.
All the worries and reactions and even “verdicts” were expected. What was not expected is that we got the impression that they were made even before the report was read thoroughly. This is not expected from these developed nations that we strive to emulate. We expect a fair trial.
The Syrians defense was also expected. Especially their reference to the accounts of the witness, Mr. Siddiq, whose accounts were at points considered not reliable and at other points used to build upon and finally he was considered as an accomplice in the crime. They pointed out that there is no hard evidence in this report, no smoking gun. There are only suspicions.
The Syrians are in a tough position. It is not like the report was mistakenly released with the names of those who are very close to Pres. Bashar and then – oops – we are sorry; that was the wrong report; the right one only refers to Syrian government but does not name names… .
Syria is in a very serious position. A position that differs in only one way from that of Iraq’s position before the American came to liberate them. Then Pres. Bush was clearly telling Saddam and his people to leave. Now Pres. Bush and his secretaries are telling Bashar to change.
Syria is in a very dangerous position. The U.S., the U.N., the U.K., and France, can not be taken lightly. And they don’t seem to be waiting for the “fair trial” before they request that the “change” be done. It does not matter that the report views all people, including those charged with serious crimes, to be innocent until proven guilty. And they do not seem to care much that an entire nation should not be held responsible if a few of its citizens were responsible for a crime ....
And I still believe that the terrorists responsible for the assassination of P.M. Rafic Hariri and all others are f**#ing a**h>les and should be brought to justice.
“There is no sectarianism in Lebanon.” Saad Al Hariri in an interview with Wardah on VDL, Oct. 23, 2005
“Much needs to be done to overcome sectarian divisions,…” Paragraph 208, Report of the Int. Indep. Investigation Commision. (Mehlis’ Report). 2005
21 October 2005
You can find an English copy (pdf) of the report here:
An Arabic Translation (pdf) is also here:
This report is out but the investigations will continue...
18 October 2005
This editorial ran today in the Israeli paper, Haaretz. It has been picked up by a number of pro-Likud and pro-neocon bloggers.
Just to test your legal knowledge, common sense, and powers of logic, see how many fallacies you can find in Mr. Steinberg's argument.
While ordering some changes in the routing to limit the impact on Palestinians, the Israeli court rejected the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion, which called the barrier illegal. The ICJ's majority had erased the context of terrorism, and focused exclusively on distorted political claims related to the legal status of "occupied territory".
Judge Aharon Barak and his colleagues rebuked the ICJ, but could not yet bring themselves to state that international law has become another weapon in political warfare, without any moral authority.
But this is the reality, as also shown in the example of Daniel Machover, a lawyer living in London who exploits the idea of human rights to promote a very narrow crusade against Israel.
Accompanied by a chorus of NGOs singing hymns to international law, and empowering himself, via the British courts, as a neo-colonial high commissioner over Israel's democracy, Machover brands Israeli leaders as war criminals. (A few months ago, he also promoted the academic boycott of Israel.)
SUCH CLAIMS regarding international law and universal human rights norms, whether made with respect to Israel, the United States, Britain, or other countries do not reflect any consistent moral position.
Instead, they are used to pursue a political and ideological agenda that is essentially anti-democratic.
If the principles of universal justice were the objectives, rather than simply the means for supporting personal goals, then Palestinian, Syrian, Saudi and other terrorists would have been tried in Britain for war crimes and human rights violations long ago. And the same is true for their European weapons suppliers, bankers, etc.
The basic weaknesses of international law and human rights are not in the theory, which seeks to establish a moral code of conduct that encompasses the entire world, to prevent genocide, terror campaigns, and slavery.
These objectives, which were added to traditional law governing less explosive issues such as trade disputes and piracy on the high seas, are entirely worthy. And as peace and democracy spread in parts of the world, the relations between such nations are indeed governed by common principles and negotiations, and less by force and violence.
But most parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, are not governed by the principles of democracy.
As a result, the claim that international law in practice can be determined by majority decisions of political organizations like the UN made up primarily of totalitarian regimes is nonsense.
Similarly, there is no moral basis for claims by the unelected leaders of non-gov ernmental organizations, such as Machover and Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth, to speak for civil society.
They can only speak for themselves and the organizations they head, and their opinions on morality and human rights have the same value as anyone else's no less, and no more.
In this reality, the principles that are said to constitute international law lack the two central properties required for any legitimate legal system: the consent of the governed, and uniform and unprejudiced application. International law and the claims made in its name fit neither criteria.
In a democratic framework, the legal system gains legitimacy through the consent of the citizens, and accountable to democratic procedures. We accept the limitations placed on us by the system of laws and the role of the police in enforcing these laws as part of the requirements for justice and order in any functioning society.
But we do not accept limitations imposed from the outside, without our consent.
Thus, the claims of the UN, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, and campaigns run by obsessed extremists in Europe, lack any legitimate moral foundation or standing in democratic societies with their own legal system.
Similarly, when judges sittin g on the Israeli High Court base decisions on international law, they are attempting to impose an external framework which lacks the legitimacy provided by the consent of the governed.
THE OTHER problem with the use of international law is the absence of equitable implementation.
No legal system that focuses its attention selectively can be considered legitimate. Thus, the routine condemnations of Israeli or American policy by the UN, the ICJ, and accompanying NGOs have no moral or legal validity when the principles are not applied uniformly.
In contrast to these destructive polemics, in order to promote a meaningful universal moral code, it is necessary to recognize the need for the consent of the governed and for consistent and universal enforcement. International law based on justice, and not ideology, remains a worthy objective. But the substitution of political rhetoric that invokes the myths and rhetoric for the real thing is entirely counterproductive.
17 October 2005
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
13 October 2005
10 October 2005
"Don't Confuse Me With The Facts!" That could be the motto of those of us
who rely on the blogosphere, rather than traditional media, for our news.
What's the future of newspapers and networks in this all-opinion world? Tom
Rosenstiel, who directs the project for Excellence in Journalism, told USA Today that traditional media will evolve into "authenticators" telling people what information they can trust. (Reader's Digest, Aug. 2005, p130.)
Well if we don't trust the news that most networks slam us with at present, how can we trust that, in the future, they will know which information we can trust. (Too much trust going around?)
09 October 2005
28 September 2005
"Shabah Irhabi" Profile of the wanted "terrorist ghost" roaming around... Get the Ghostbusters!!! (Annahar 27 Sep 2005)
27 September 2005
People who advocate freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without the awful roar of the thunder and lightning. Without struggle, there is no progress. This struggle might be a moral one. It might be a physical one. It might be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. People may not get all that they pay for in this world, but they certainly pay for all that they get. - Frederick Douglas
26 September 2005
But it is the latest in a countless number of terrorist attacks and assassinations directed at journalists, thinkers, religious figures, politicians, innocent citizens, etc. that occurred during the past few decades.
This unpardonable attempt on the life of May Chidiac is an attack against each one of us.
It is directed against our right to listen to a different point of view.
It is directed against our right to simply enjoy a cup of coffee with a little peace of mind.
It is directed against our right to freedom of expression.It is directed against the peace that we are striving to keep.
21 September 2005
England witnessed one of the largest (if not the largest) demonstration opposed to the waging of the “war of liberation” on Iraq by the U.S. and its allies. Continuing in this most appreciated act by the British people the BBC reports that:
Church of England bishops have suggested Christian leaders apologise toAnd that:
Muslim leaders for the war in Iraq.
A report from a working group of bishops says the war was one of a "long litanyThis sounds good and maybe long overdue, but the apology should be to the entire people of Iraq regardless of their religious affiliation. Unless this reconciliation and/or apology is intended as a message to appease the Moslems of Europe and to reduce the growing tensions that are building up as a result of the wars.
of errors" relating to Iraq. As the government is unlikely to offer an apology,
a meeting of religious leaders would provide a "public act of institutional
repentance", it said.
The bombs did not discriminate the churches from the mosques. Organized and planned looting destroyed the museums, libraries and ministries of all the Iraqis, liberating them from their contents. The governments of the allies that invaded Iraq should offer compensations in addition to their apologies. Equivalents of billions of dollars of wealth were and are still being stolen from Iraq. This is said bearing in mind that nothing can compensate for the tens of thousands of civilians killed during and after the invasion not to mention those injured.
The report goes on to suggest:
...the meeting would be an opportunity to apologise for the way the West has contributed to the situation in Iraq, including the war.
The Church of England has criticised the war, saying it was not a "just war".
But a dilemma now exists for those within the Church - to pull out of Iraq without a
stable democracy in place would be irresponsible, but to stay suggests collusion
with a "gravely mistaken" war, the bishops said.
How can we help with this dilemma? Should we pray? Maybe if the bishops seek the help of the wise advisors of Pres. Bush, they might find some answers.
As for those who might say that the war resulted in the “glorious liberation” of the Iraqis from Saddam the report stated that:
...errors in the West's handling of Iraq included support of Saddam Hussein over many years as a strategic ally against Iran, a willingness to sell him weapons and the suffering caused to the Iraqi people by sanctions.
...the war appeared to be "as much for reasons of American national interest as it was for the well-being of the Iraqi people".
19 September 2005
14 September 2005
Look at who just came out of one of those old and dusty closets in the basement of the Lebanese National Museum.
Hear that stinking racist ideology disguised in the nasty sectarian robe claiming to be the protector of the unique Lebanese way of life.
Don’t panic for we are now secure. No harm will ever happen to our ultimate and supreme tabbouli, fattoush and kibbi-nayyi.
The Guardians are back.
What does a bowl of Fattoush have to do with the the "unique formula" of the Lebanese? You ask! The answer is simple: In the twisted minds of the Guardians of the Cedars, and some others, we the Lebanese are not one people in one nation but a coarse gathering of different peoples with different “flavors” co-habiting a piece of land. Just like the vegetables in a plate of fattoush.
In these minds we should be happy and preserve this “unique formula” for which we are envied by everybody including G.W. Bush.
Aspiring to form one Lebanon with one people is treason!!
The Guardians of the Cedars have spoken, and hatred, racism and violence came out.
Eerie calls to deport and/or kill foreigners and seize their possessions were heard. Enemies were named.
But some of us have studied this “unique formula” in specialized labs and have found it to be highly explosive, highly unstable and not even as good tasting as our precious fattoush. It was found to be hazardous to human and animals alike.
The “unique formula” is sectarianism, and sectarianism here is racism.
The “unique formula” is not good for peace.
These two images, in two different ends of the globe, manifest single acts of courage that thousands of words can not describe.
These two individuals are the personification of courage and resistance.
They are examples of the power of one.
Place: Tiananmen Square, China
Act: Resistance (Passive)
Objective: Liberty, Equality, Human Dignity…
Name: Fares Awdi (Odeh)
Age: 14 yrs
Act: Resistance (Active)
Objective: Liberty, Equality, Human Dignity…
Fate: Martyred (shot in another moment of defiance)
08 September 2005
The Worst Comment about Hurricane Katrina
The worst comment that was uttered regarding the catastrophe caused by Katrina hurricane in New Orleans - (why are disasters named after women?) - was made by Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
It is amazing how his god gets back at Pres. Bush by killing thousands of poor innocent people.
In his weekly sermon, the rabbi said: “There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study… black people reside there (in New Orleans). Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them.”
“Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God,” said the rabbi, who already found himself in hot water in the past following controversial remarks of one kind or another.
Yet Rabbi Ovadia was not done there, and proceeded to explain in detail why Americans deserved the Hurricane.
“Bush was behind the (expulsion of) Gush Katif,” he said. “He encouraged Sharon to expel Gush Katif…we had 15,000 people expelled here, and there 150,000 (were expelled). It was God’s retribution ..God does not short-change anyone.”
“He (Bush) perpetrated the expulsion. Now everyone is mad at him…this is his punishment for what he did to Gush Katif, and everyone else who did as he told them, their time will come, too,” the rabbi said.
But then, what do we, simple and naive sinners, know about the ways of the all powerful “Yahweh” who only allows the all wise Rabbi to know the secrets of his divine plans for humanity?!
We poor sinners are naïve enough to believe that God is all compassionate, benevolent and loving. Allah yihddina! (= May God bestow his grace upon us and show us the path of righteousness!)
And may He help the poor people of New Orleans.
sources: Assafir , Ynet , another Ynet
A Bugging Comment: Who is ruling Lebanon?
Mohammed H. Haikal in his historical program on Al-Jazira made a very disturbing comment. He stated, “Let no one tell me that Pres. Lahoud is ruling Lebanon, the person ruling Lebanon today is Shimon Perez through Terry R. Larson.”*
Why the hell did he say that?!
01 September 2005
Webster’s have issued a statement regarding the protested definition of the words “Arab” and “Anti-Semitism” found it its dictionaries-(check my posts on Jun26, Aug13, Aug16 & Aug23)-which ended as follows:
“We apologize for any unintended offense caused by these entries. Our goal in our dictionaries and other references is to provide users with an accurate and comprehensive record of the English language, and that can sometimes mean including words and senses that many people may find offensive. Please be assured that we will continue in the constant process of reviewing the accuracy and currency of the entries in all our books, and we will make appropriate changes when we prepare new editions of those books.We hope these comments are helpful. Thank you for writing and giving us this opportunity to address your concerns.”
Associate EditorMerriam-Webster, Inc.
For the complete text of the Statement from Merriam-Webster, Inc. click here.
In a previous development:
Derogatory synonyms for the word "Arab" have been pulled from "Thesaurus.com", as of Monday, August 22, 2005. Details can be found on ABCnews.
The National Council for Arab Americans, NCA, is searching for other words (example: philistine) as well as other dictionaries for entries that are offensive.
It should be noted that the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, ADC, has tackled this issue back in the year 2002.
Congratulation and good work to all who were involved in making these changes especially the BLOGGERS who stirred-up and followed-up the issue.
Quoting from AquaCool's post on Aug. 27: "In Jordan Unions called for boycott of Webster Dictionaries, it was mentioned that bloggers were the ones to draw attention to the matter."
31 August 2005
The new findings that were announced today with regards to the investigations to find the TRUTH behind the assassination of the late PM Harriri are mind stimulating.
BBC's Update (Lebanese release Hariri suspect, Qandil released)
23 August 2005
"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” Samuel P. Huntington
Rachel Corrie (1979 – 2003) bravely stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer trying to protest against the policy of demolishing Palestinian homes. The bulldozer just carried on its “duties” and she died there and then. Does any body remember her?
Six-teen thousand (16 000) is the number of Palestinians (women & children included) who were thrown out of their homes in Rafah alone (in Gaza) with their homes demolished to the ground without warnings, without time to even pack and without a place to go.
The bulldozers came during the day or during the night, no difference. They would simply declare that they were going to demolish the house, waited for five minutes and then carried on their “work”.
No tears, no sympathy and no media coverage for the Palestinian suffering.
Yet our sensitivity and humanness is being judged today because we do not show sympathy for a group of colonizers with whom negotiations to dismantle their colonies have been going on for the past two years, and for whom the police and army have been trained for six month on how to handle them with care while removing them, from a land illegally occupied, in a theatrical show which makes us believe that it had been staged and rehearsed before. And for whom Sharon is asking the U.S. to give him more than two billion dollars.
What other price are we going to pay for the “precious” tears shed by the colonizers?
Will it be more land taken away in the West-Bank?
The shameful wall of separation alone has so far cut about 450 sq.km. away from the West-Bank, remember the whole of Gaza is 360 sq.km.
Will it be eternal gratitude on our part?
“Jews do not evict Jews” this slogan was shouted over and over. What about Prime Minister Rabin? Who killed him and why? And does this mean that Jews can evict non-Jews?
The questions do not end. The pain does not end.
Peace cannot be with injustice.
Glad to share the following message regarding Roget's offensive definitions of the word "Arab".
I am happy to report that we have convinced Roget's to remove the offending
definitions. See our website www.americanarabforum.org
All the best,
Dr. Aref Assaf
18 August 2005
Ben Gurion in 1948 addressed his fellow Zionists saying: “We must do everything to ensure they (the Palestinians) never do return.” adding “THE OLD WILL DIE AND THE YOUNG WILL FORGET.”
About 8000 settlers supported by their government, unlawfully occupied 30% of a strip of land that is 360 sqkm in area, utilizing most of its resources while more than 1,300,000 Palestinians, who are the rightful owners of the land, were squeezed into what is left with little resources, making their lives a living hell.
The settlers today are being compensated with millions of dollars, part of which is U.S. money, for leaving the occupied land in Gaza, because of a change of policy or tactics of their government, while the Palestinians whose livelihood was destroyed, not to mention those killed, during the past decades are not given even an apology.
The evacuation gets more media coverage than it even needs, while the daily suffering of the Palestinians goes unnoticed.
As if the tears of the settlers are more precious than the blood of the Palestinians.
Is this the high price that Sharon mentioned he would have to pay for the “painful but necessary withdrawal?” Painful tears and psychological stress?!
Maybe he is paving the way for more compensation, and some might be in the form of land from the West Bank.
This evacuation is just a cosmetic cover-up for occupation.
No real peace can exist with occupation. The young do not seem to forget.
Let me quote Ben Gurion once more: "If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?" Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.
17 August 2005
Parliamentarian S. Jaja in the Parliament with members of the previous government ministers in the background. (source: The Angry Arab News Service )
16 August 2005
Aqua Cool posted a well developed and carefully researched article on the topic of the Merriam-Webster's definition of Arab and Anti-Semitism. The article includes the response of Merriam-Webster to the clarifications requested by the "World Arab Translators' Association" (WATA). I quote the following definitions from the mentioned post.
Until acts and philosophies treating and believing that some races are superior and others are inferior have been totally discredited and abolished, there will be no peace.
Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Collegiate Thesaurus has enlisted in the 3rd Edition an entry that reads:
Main Entry: an•ti-sem•i•tism
Pronunciation GuidePronunciation: () -
Usage: usually capitalized S
1 : hostility toward Jews as a religious or racial minority group often accompanied by social, economic, and political discrimination -- compare RACISM
2 : opposition to Zionism : sympathy with opponents of the state of Israel
Source: Unabridged Merriam-webster(You will need to subscribe)
And it also has:
Entry Word: arab
Text: 1 Synonyms VAGABOND, clochard, drifter, floater, hobo, roadster, street
arab, tramp, vag, vagrant
2 Synonyms PEDDLER, duffer, hawker, higgler, huckster, monger, mongerer,
outcrier, packman, vendor
Source: Unabridged Merriam-webster(You will need to subscribe)
13 August 2005
beggar, bum, bummer, castaway, dawdler, delinquent, drifter, floater, good-for-nothing, grifter, hobo, leper, loafer, lounger, ne'er-do-well, outcast, pariah, remittance man, renegade, scumbag, skid-row bum, slimeball, stiff, street arab, stumblebum, tramp, untouchable, vag, vagabond, vagrant, wastrel, prostitute, slut, stiff…
The list just goes on and on…
Check the Webster’s dictionary in its latest edition and you get almost the same results (Annahar) [also check my post on June 26th].
In addition to this, you also find biased, discriminating, politically wrong, you just name it, definition of Anti-Semitism which includes anti-Zionist (making some non-Zionist Jews anti-Semitic, believe it or not) and any supporter of those considered the “enemies” of the “State of Israel” also anti-Semitic (meaning that all Arabs and non-Arab supporters of the Palestinian cause are anti-Semitic too, go figure that out!)
It does not matter whether one is an Arab or not, this is an act of RACISM. It is inexcusable to say the least. The statement issued by the union of Arab lawyers denouncing these definitions is not enough(Annahar) . I also heard of French to English dictionaries doing the same.
What should we expect next? Collecting all Arabs (or those looking like Arabs, as in the incident of the shooting of the young Brazilian in London) and putting them in CONCENTRATION CAMPS? Consider them sub-humans and enslave them? Declare racial cleansing to rid the planet of this “disease”?!!!
I hope this has nothing to do with the "WAR ON TERRORISM"!!!
11 August 2005
... Far more rational, now that the occupation has turned Gaza into a hell-hole, is to get out and leave it as a prison in which the population can rot. The “Gaza disengagement plan” is, in fact, a US-Israeli West Bank expansion plan, designed to incorporate valuable land and resources of the West Bank into Israel, and leave Palestinians in a few unviable Bantustans which the US and Israel can call a “state”—rather as South Africa called the Bantustans “independent states.” ... for complete article click here
The "Israeli settlers" occupying the Gaza strip of "Palestine" are by "International Laws" and all other considerations occupying a land not theirs. The CNN has the audacity to describe the decision of the Israeli government to "withdraw" from the strip as: the settlers are to be "KICKED OUT OF THEIR HOMES"; and it goes on interviewing some of these settlers, who always show their fire arms, not as a sign that they are staying by force, but to convince us that they have to "protect" themselves against the "terrorists", the worst part was when one of the settlers, with a baby in her hand of course (watch "Wag the Dog") proclaims that the "Bible" states that the land is for the "chosen people" and that it was promised by "God" to them!! IT IS 2005 FOR GOD'S SAKE!!!!
CIA Fact-book on GAZA
Population :1,376,289 note: in addition, there are more than 5,000 Israeli settlers in the Gaza
Area: 360 sq.km
THE STRIP IS SIMPLY A LARGE PRISON FOR THE PALESTINIANS
The following is a call for survey from http://thesuffragettes.blogspot.com/ , please consider and participate in it:
Calling all Lebanese, Syrian & Jordanian Bloggers Out There...
If you are a Blogger from Lebanon, Syria & Jordan or happen to be living there, I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes of your time to fill out this questionnaire in order to help explain and find out more about the blogging phenomenon in this region. This is part of my Masters reserach at the University of Westminster and your replies are crucial to helping in my evaluation. Most people are able to complete the questionnaire in less than 8 minutes.ALso your responses and any comments will be treated with the utmost confidentiality. The results of this research should be very exciting and, by the end of august, I will be sharing them with you all! If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact, myself, Maha Taki on +44(0)7916161035 or email me at the email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much for your time and support and please do SPREAD THE WORD.Start with the survey now by clicking
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07 August 2005
"Scientists say they have been able to monitor people's thoughts via scans of their brains. "
The prospects of this breakthrough is very scary indeed!!!
Makes me think and wonder,
oops, did they catch my thoughts?!
Former foreign secretary Robin Cook, a rebel with a cause, a man who stood by his principles and resigned over the Iraq war.
Robin Cook dies aged 59.
Tributes, (add yours)
The 7th of August, the 8th of July, everyday on the calendar is a special date for us, this is why we are a great people...
مواليد 1962 ، عبيه - جبل لبنان
اعتقل في 2 نيسان 1978
مدة الحكم 542 سنة !ا
المكان: سجن نفحة الصحراوي - فلسطين المحتلة
02 August 2005
The Prime minister (Mr. Sanioura) paid Damascus a visit, right after the vote of confidence, and as expected the Lebanese – Syrian borders are now open for business as usual.
The government is NOT only formed of “forces” belonging to the 14th of March “camp” but also of “forces” from the 8th of March (Riad al Sulh demonstration sometimes intentionally ignored).
In fact 14/3 splintered and a major part of it forged an alliance with 8/3 (all for the sake of wihda wataniya, may it prosper)
The debates in the parliament were intended to discuss the government’s manifesto and plan or strategy (Bayan Wizari) but they took a drastic turn when disputes over major issues broke out between parties who were together in 14/3. The strong language used added spice to the somewhat boring debates. [Gen. Aoun] [I. Kinaan] [W. abuFaour]
Funny was the constant referral by the parliamentarians to the unity that manifested itself on 14/3 without reference to 8/3 especially by those who were strongly allied with 8/3. A politician explained on TV the other day that 14/3 also means and includes 8/3!! I wonder?
The arguments in parliament were a manifestation of democracy, as long as the areas where people of all sects and parties meet to party and interact (Ain el Rummani & Chiah, Monot, etc.) are not closed by bombs or violence as a result.
Ms. C. Rice made a surprise visit to Lebanon, fine, but what was this joke she told Gen. Aoun that if he mis-calculates this time his exile will not be to France but to the U.S.?
Were the youth of “Camp Freedom” at “Freedom Square” or “Martyrs’ Square” represented in this political system in any way? Where are they?
Condolences to the Saudi people on the death of "Khadem al Haramein al Sharifein" King Fahd.