28 April 2006

Palestinian Children Taught Lebanese National Anthem

A typical school day for Grade 5 students in the “concentration” camps reserved for the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon involves:

- Waking up and getting ready to go to schools run by UNRWA.
- Attending the seven hours, covering materials such as: English, Civics, Arabic, Geography, History, etc, covering:

1- English hour lesson: units created for the Lebanese curriculum about the Lebanese culture, way of life and activities.

2- Civics: chapter one opens with the picture of the Lebanese flag and anthem. The children are taught their “duties” and “obligations” for their home land, which in this case is supposed to be Lebanon!

3- Geography: children learn about the different climate Lebanon has with its diverse topography, irrigation system, agricultural production and area.

4- History: Prince Fakhereddine, the Ottoman Empire in Lebanon, and Great Lebanon of the 1920s are the topics discussed.

And the list just goes on. Weird!

No mention of the Homeland… Palestine.
What about UNSC resolution 194 and the right of return.

And we wonder why the children are having identity crisis!!!

And we are blamed if we think of a "conspiracy" to naturalize Palestinians (taw-teen)?

24 April 2006

Is Syria the Way Out for the USA?

It seems that the USA and Iran are involved in some heavy negotiations concerning the entire Middle East vis-à-vis Iraq. These negotiations appear to be giving Syria the upper hand by being the middle ground. For there is no other comprehensible reason that will let Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both of which are pro USA, to support Syria and its regime. Especially that it is being accused of responsibility for PM Hariri’s death and after a period of stalemate between them. It is naïve to say that this support is for the sole reason of protecting their regimes from the domino effect that will ensue in case the Syrian regime falls. Syria seems to be poised to play an important role, like sending peace keeping forces, or being part of an Arabic peace keeping force in Iraq. This was done before in Lebanon.

The Saudis and Egyptians see in their support for Syria a reduction of Iranian influence while Iran sees in Syria a preservation of its interests. If this happens, Syria will be elevated to a higher status in the region. Some indicators that points to this direction are:

1- The US and the International Investigation Committee have changed their tone of voice when addressing Syria. The US is now requesting that Syria changes its attitude rather than threatening it with regime change.

2- The new prime minister in Iraq today, Mr. Al Maliki, and his party are close to Syria. He replaces the pro-Iranian Mr. El Jaafari who was removed as a result of US pressure.

3- The situation in Lebanon is being put to freeze after a clear request by the King of Saudi Arabia from Mr. Jumblat to step down his rhetoric. A by product of this freeze will be the continuation of Pres. Lahoud in office till the end of his term.

4- The Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah’s agreement seem to be pointing in this direction too.

Questions to consider:

1- Will Syria request that Mr. Saad Harriri & Co. and Mr. Jumblat pay a political price for the positions they have taken?
2- Is the delay of Seniora’s visit to
damascus part of this price?
3- Will they have to present new CV’s to be accepted in the new state of affairs that seems to be evolving?

This is how Ali sees the political situation in the region these days.

22 April 2006

Samir Kuntar, 28 year in Israeli detention. One of thousands.

21 April 2006

“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”

John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago's Department of Political Science and Stephen M.Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government contend, in an 82 page paper, that “the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy is its intimate relationship with Israel. The authors argue that although often justified as reflecting shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, the U.S. commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the “Israel Lobby." This paper goes on to describe the various activities that pro-Israel groups have undertaken in order to shift U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.”
The paper can be downloaded at this location.

Bore Them to Death for Better Life

Prof. Sleeping Pill now has a perfect excuse to continue his boring lectures that are guaranteed to put you through a painless coma. Prof will just explain, monotonously, that you are being prepared to face life’s complexities. Prof’s excuse has been backed by the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Gateshead during which statements like:

Children had to accept that boredom was a fact of life. It’s a necessary part of development to realize that life’s not going to be a Disney ride 100 per cent of the time. We’re not going to be all-singing, all-dancing all of the time and you’ll find that’s real life.

were repeated by your typical English and Math teachers.

By the way, your father’s endless sermons and mother’s constant haranguing were also part of this great training. And you hated them for that? Shame on you! Now you will have another extra bite on your already guilty conscience.

20 April 2006

برعاية معالي وزير الثقافة طارق متري

تدعوكم اللجنة التحضيرية لمؤتمر العلمانيين في لبنان إلى المشاركة في فعاليات المؤتمر الأول للعلمانيين في لبنان، وذلك في قصر الأونيسكو يومي الجمعة والسبت الواقعين فيهما 5 و6 أيار 2006.
برنامج المؤتمر


Conference of the Secularists in Lebanon
Under the Auspices of the Minister of Culture Mr. Tarek Metry

The Planning Committee for the Secularists in Lebanon invites you to participate in the proceedings of the First Conference for Secularists in Lebanon. Place: UNESCO Palace, Beirut. Date: Friday & Saturday, May 5th & 6th, 2006. Program

19 April 2006

Models and Body Language

Bush puts his arm on Saniora's shoulders, Saniora instinctively covers his ass?

"Lebanon can serve as a great example for what is possible in the broader Middle East…” -Bush

After Afghanistan and Iraq, Lebanon is to be the next “model for democracy” in the Middle East.

This man is out of this world! Even Fukuyama - a life-long neo-conservative says: "A model democracy is not emerging in Iraq". I wonder what will emerge from Lebanon?

Photo: Assafir 2006/04/19

18 April 2006

For Qana & All Her Sisters

Ten years ago on this day, the Qana Massacre took place. Perez and Clinton declared that it took place by mistake, just like all the other massacres before and after.

Thanks for the candle Amal

Sami Hamad: Granted Freedom to Choose His Death?

You (not you) keep asking me about where I stand whenever there is a suicide bomb. I’ve told you once; I’ve told you a thousand times where I stand when bombs target civilians. Don’t they always target civilians, although the nomenclature of the target may change from innocent civilians to collateral damage, depending on who is shooting? Even Yehya Musa of Hamas made his position clear.

But now let me ask you where you stand with respect to:

- Occupying the land and denying its people all rights except one: the right to literally explode in anger.

- The ability of the US to stop the Security Council, two days ago, from just listening to the Palestinian protest against the blockade of hunger and humiliation imposed on them just because their voting lead to “inadequate” results.

- Taking an entire nation and squeezing them in a strip of land stripped of everything except the right to choose whether to die of hunger,
or to die in prisons and detention centers,
or to die in a Hollywood-styled-chase-hunt,
or to die under the rubbles of a demolished home while watching the mothers tearful pleas, without avail, in an attempt to stop the bulldozers,
or to die of anguish from seeing your land and livelihood taken away and becoming settlements for immigrants or part of the apartheid wall that will cage you and your children in like animals.

- What about all the treaties signed so far?

Where do you stand exactly?

Now, you tell me, what do you think of the way that Sami Sameeh Hamad chose to die?


"In the last two and a half weeks (since the previous suicide bombing) Israeli forces have killed at least 26 Palestinians — at least 5 of them children — and injured 161 Palestinian men, women and children. A college student lost her right eye today after being shot by an Israeli sniper last week." more...

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

"The greater fear is that if the U.S. and Israel are successful in collapsing the Hamas government and Hamas in turn decides to abandon democratic means to express itself, we will be back where we started from, suicide bombings killing innocents and setting the agenda from outside any known political framework. Does this serve U.S. and Israeli interests? We are all wondering!"

-Sam Bahour

13 April 2006

Because it is not over yet!

A handful of young Lebanese enthusiasts were distributing leaflets this afternoon on the “Old Saida Highway”.

This road divides “Chiah” (predominantly Amal and Hezbollah) and “Ain el Roumanni” (predominantly Lebanese Forces and Phalange).

Last year, skirmishes occurred between residents of these two areas, bringing back ugly images of the not-so-civil-war that “ended officially” 1990. The army had to interfere to stop the fights then, and are still stationed on the "Highway" to prevent any new ones.

Today, the activists were distributing hand written, photocopied, half-A4-sheets of paper with a message which I have scanned and translated below. A bus that is a replica of the infamous “bus of Ain el Roumanni” was in the background serving as a reminder of the spark that started the war on April 13, 1975. One of the cardboards on the bus read: "we don't want any new demarcation lines" (khoutout tammas).

The flyers carried the following message:


We are a group of youngsters with questions and worries…

We have come to share them with you and make them public.

You may read them and answer us or you may just say this is not necessary!.

But at least think about them.

1- What were the reasons of the war and what were the results?

2- Who took part in it and who stopped it?

3- Who can guarantee that it will not happen again and who is ready to repeat it?

If we were divided into sects then ….. and we still are today.

If we were blindly following the leaders then …… and we still are today.

If we were empowered against each other by foreigners then ….... and we still are today.

What has changed?

Do you think we have learned the lesson?

Youth concerned about the nation.

(message ends)

Q: Why is everyone concerned that a civil war may start all over again?

A: Because it is not over yet!

10 April 2006

"Democracy in the Arab World, a U.S. Goal, Falters"

"It feels like everything is going back to the bad old days, as if we never went through any changes at all," said Sulaiman al-Hattlan, editor in chief of Forbes Arabia and a prominent Saudi columnist and advocate. "Everyone is convinced now that there was no serious or genuine belief in change from the governments. It was just a reaction to pressure by the international media and the U.S." more...

So the goal was democracy? And all this time I was made to believe that it was "world domination" and oil! I am still suckered by those naughty conspiracy theorists! Silly me!

09 April 2006

"The Perfect Crime: to be Born an Arab."

"Policemen, Interpol men everywhere;
You search for the perfect crime,

There is only one perfect crime;

To be born an Arab."

- al-Maghout

Mohammad al-Maghout’s satirical works portrayed the social misery that seems to be the lot of the people of the Arab nations. His works were fiercely critical of the ethical decline of the rulers of the region to the extent that it is a wonder that he died a natural death.

Al-Maghout, the Syrian poet and playwright, passed away last week, after a life long struggle to eradicate both the social in-justice and the archaic way of life that ails us.

Among his works are plays like “Tishreen’s Village”, “Shaka’ek al-Nu’man” and the movie “al Hudoud” starred by Doureid Lahham.

A sample of his writing:

The Postman's Fear*

Prisoners everywhere,
send me all you've seen
of horror and weeping and boredom...

Fisherman on every shore, send all you know
of empty nets and whirling seas...

Peasants in every land,
send me all you have
of flowers and old rags,
of torn breasts,
pierced abdomens
and wrenched-out fingernails.

Send them to my address
in any cafe on any street in the world:

I am preparing a huge portfolio
on human suffering
to present to God

as soon as it is signed by the lips of the hungry
and the eyelids of the waiting.

But oh, you miserable ones everywhere,

I have a fear that

God may be "illiterate".

Update: From Nouj, in his memory, the following , by W. H. Auden:

"Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves."

*"Improvisations: Arab Woman Progressive Voice"

08 April 2006

Path to Predicament of Feb.14 (ex March14) Movement

A translation of this previous post.
Ali sees that among the reasons that led to the current deadlock and “decline” facing the February 14 (previously known as March 14) movement, are eight crucial elements. These elements were forgetten or ignored in the plans and actions of the movement, consequently leading to their present predicament:

  • In the aftermath of the Syrian withdrawal, the leaders of the February 14 (ex-March 14) movement had an attitude of total denial to the existence of Syria when dealing with the political issues and events. They did not take the economic and social ties between the two peoples – Lebanese and Syrians – seriously, nor did they consider the effect that this has on the politics of the country.
  • They lost the Free Patriotic Movement as an ally to Hezbollah. This made Hezbollah move from its defensive position to become a serious and open minded partner in planning the basis of the next stage in the political life of Lebanon.
  • Impulsive reactions seasoned with romanticism and whims controlled their dealings with political issues instead of objectivism and pragmatism.
  • They prematurely ran out of, and exposed all the possible moves they could have undertaken. And therefore they lost the element of surprise.
  • Priorities changed constantly, without achieving any.
  • There was a lack of compatibility of interests with the Arab nations and they ignored the connection between the stability in these nations and the stability in Syria.
  • There was a lack of any serious initiative to solve the political crisis, although they were the majority. This lead the March 8 group to call for, sponsor and put down its proposals and ideas in the National Dialogue.
  • The rise of the political influence of the Shiites in Iraq and its influence in Lebanon were not taken into consideration as a factor that may lead the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to interfere and dampen the support of the Lebanese Sunnis for the slogans and goals of the Feb. 14 movement, in order not to lose the political role of the Sunnis in case there was a change in the international state of affairs.

This is Where the Internet Ends

Bet you always thought that the internet was a wide world with infinite browsing capabilities. Well think again.
Wondering where it all ends?
It ends here.
And for alternate endings lovers, this is the end.

06 April 2006

"Iraq: Is the media telling the real story?"

Reuters - Newsmaker debate: Iraq

What do you think? Are they telling us the truth? How can we tell? Does it matter?
A debate about the media coverage of Iraq took place two days ago. Although the event is over, you can still have your say on the matter. Visit Reuters blogs (or this Reuters link) and leave your comments on this issue or see what others have to say or have said.

Blog Comments

Still, for anyone to cite blog comments as representing anything more than the rhetorical runoff they are more idiotic than hunting buzzards in an aviary. But because it’s easy, because it makes some people with an inferiority complex feel better, because it’s cheap points on the high and mighty scale, because—to the gullible—it can seem like someone’s got a trend picked out or a point proven, it’s still done and will probably always be done.

more (Candide's Notebooks)

04 April 2006

ثمانية عناصـر ادت الى مأزق قوى 14 شـباط - 14 آذار سـابقا

يرى عـلـي ثمانية عناصـر تجاهلتها قوى 14 شـباط (14 آذار سـابقا) في عملها ونهجها، ادت بهم الى المأزق الذي يعانون منه اليوم:ء
بعد خروج الجيــش الســوري من لبنان، تعاطت هذه القوى مع الاحداث ومع المعطيــات الســياسية المحلية والدولية وكأن لا وجود للدولة الســورية، لا في المنطقة ولا حتى في الكون، ولم تاخذ مجموعة 14 شباط (آذارسـابقا) الارتباط الاقتصــادي والاجتماعي بين الشــعبين وأثر ذلك في الســياســة على محمل الجد.
خسـارتهم للتيار الوطني الحر لصــالح حزب الله مما ســاعد في خروج الحزب من حالة الدفاع عن مواقفه ليصـبح طرفا جادا ومنفتحا في وضــع اساس للحياة السياسية للمرحلة القادمة.
تغـلب المزاجية والرومانسـية والانفعال على الموضـوعية في التعـاطي السـياسـي مع الملفـات .
استنفـاذ وكشـف اقصـى ما يمكن من تحرك يسـتطيعون القيام به مجانا، مما افقدهم عنصر المفاجئة وكشـف كل اوراق الضـغط التى كانت، ربما، بحوذتهم.
التقلب الدائم في الاولويات دون تحقيق اي منها.
انعدام الانسجام السـياسي مع الدول العربية متجاهلين او ناسـيين ارتباط اســتقرار هذه الدول والانظمة فيها باســتقرار ســوريا ونظامها السـياسي.
غياب اي مبادرة جدية لمعالجة الازمة السـياسـية، بالرغم من انهم الاكثرية، فبادرت قوى 8 آذار الى الدعوة ورعاية وطرح مشـروعها في الحوار الوطني.
لم يُأخذ تزايد النفوذ السياسي الشيعي في العراق وامتداد اثره الى لبنان بالحسبان في امكانية تدخل المملكة العربية السـعودية للتخفيف من دعم السـنة في لبنان لشـعارات واهداف 14 شباط، خوفا من انحسـار الدور السيـاسي للطائفة السـنية في حال تغير العوامل الدولية.

01 April 2006

Let US Pin Point the Tactical Errors

"I know we've made tactical errors - thousands of them, I'm sure," -Ms Rice

I am proposing that we embark on a grand project of listing all the “tactical errors” the U.S. government has done and will do in Iraq. It can even have its own web-site, “The Tactical Errors Project Home Page” or “TTEPHP” for short (is this original or what?!).

The objective is helping Ms. Rice to understand and account for the “thousands” of tactical or collateral mistakes she so coolly and elegantly mentioned, being the states-person she is. In addition to helping her (and us) see the big picture if she becomes the president of the U.S. someday. I will start by listing a few, and correct me if I am wrong:

The 10000000000001 (read: one zillion & one) Tactical Errors List

  1. Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed, injured, jobless, dislocated, scared etc.
  2. Destroying and plundering museums, universities, ministries, personal records, past, present, future etc.
  3. Destroying the army, police, security, education system, normal functioning of anything, etc.
  4. Creating conducive atmosphere for sectarian strife, civil war, more killing, terrorism, unrest in neighboring countries, etc.
  5. Man! I can go on like this all night, and I haven’t even begun digging…


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