30 December 2006

“Hadan Mish Ma’ Hada”

Rola, Sandy, Sarah, Rasha Najdi, and Mohamad Ali Nayel are five members of the group “Hadan Mish Ma’ Hada” (Arabic for “someone who is not with anyone” i.e. not with any political leader or group).

They gathered this week in front of the Lebanese University’s administration building in Beirut to demand a national university that transcends the sectarian and political divides splitting it, among other things.

They accused the opposition and the government alike of ignoring the vital issues confronting young Lebanese.

“Hadan Mish Ma’ Hada” staged a protest a couple of weeks ago in Hamra Street (Beirut) to draw attention to their movement. Their slogan was: “we are not a million but we are ‘some one’”.

It takes tremendous courage for such a group to demonstrate in a season when tens of thousands of protestors no longer satisfy our appetite, in a season when demonstrators congregate in millions and zillions. And even then demands are not met.

“Hadan Mish Ma’ Hada” is becoming a catchy phrase around here as political disenchantment grows.


Don't cry for me Mesopotamia

Excerpts from prof As'ad's take on Saddam's execution, the rest of it is here...

"Yet again, the Bush administration looks stupid exactly when it thinks it is being smart, or when it thinks it is being strategic in its actions. Saddam Husayn was not your typical tyrant: he was not even a consistent ideologue; unlike what his supporters would like to think. Saddam switched his views and stances, all depending on the interest of his tyrannical regime. He flirted (and more than flirted) with the US and Israel for much of the 1980s. He was a pagan and atheist in the 1970s..."

"The trial itself, like everything that the US managed in Iraq, were bungled. If the US occupiers wanted to show Arabs a legal system or a court proceeding unlike what they have in their own countries, the US failed miserably, just as it failed miserably in translating any of its empty rhetorical promises. The trial was in fact as cartoonish and as politically managed as trials in neighboring Arab countries. From the changes of the judge (and whatever happened to that judge who went missing as soon as he said in "court" that he does not consider Saddam to be a tyrant?), to the selection of the crimes--clearly intending to spare Gulf countries, Europe, and US embarrassment from their association with the crimes of Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war years."

"This execution will go down as a sectarian decision and not as a political or legal decision, as it should be, because the ruling government a) relies on a foreign army of occupation..."

"People in the region will look back at Saddam with some nostalgia because Arab leaders are now more submissive and subservient than ever to US/Israel, and Saddam's bombast and bluster in his last years will be remembered."

"It is a sign that the Bush administration has nothing to offer but same of the same. Some brilliant mind in the White House I suspect came up with this idea of the execution hoping that it will galvanize American public opinion--they don't think beyond that."

28 December 2006

Lebanon: Foreign Intervention and Economics

The Lebanese bloggers are united this week in wishing their readers all the best during Christmas, Al Adha and the New Year.
Some of these bloggers have taken up the issue of foreign intervention in the region as a subject of reflection while others highlight the sad state of economy and the effects that the political situation is having on it.

A reader left a comment praising the positive aspects of colonialism and/or occupation to which Ibn Bint Jbeil responded:

i have a plan for you. i would like to help you advance in your life. i am a very rich man and also own much property, and have immense and enviable political clout. my plan for you will commence soon, with or without your consent, once i locate where you are.
my plan is simple: i will break down your door, move in, turn your living room into my own private barracks, complete with mounted gun near the front entrance. my first step towards improving your life will be to force you at gunpoint to fix the door that i broke down.

Mehlis, who was the investigator in the Hariri murder case before Brammertz, was part of a witty post by EDB in which she ends with thorny questions about the on going investigations:

The problem with March 14th is that they are evidently as foolish as the White House, hiring disreputable Ahmed Chalabi-types to make their case. Mehlis has no credibility. None whatsoever. And why not get someone honest and well-respected to do the job?…
The funny thing is that March 14th’s media will hype any of the UN investigation’s conclusions. If Brammertz reports that Bashar al-Assad was taking a crap when Hariri was killed, well then that’s evidence of foul play. If Brammertz suggests that an aerial attack might have caused the former Prime Minister’s demise, well then what?
We don’t know and I dare say we will never know who killed Rafiq Hariri. It’s shameful, I know.

Russia has suddenly shown interest in the Lebanese affairs and has intervened to resolve the issues in conflict. This has raised Raja’s doubts:

the Russians are very ambitious all of a sudden. I’m left asking myself: exactly what has boosted their sense of relevance (confidence?) all of a sudden? They’re talking of throwing the tribunal into the dust bin of history, hosting a peace conference that would, of all things, bring Iran and Israel to the table, and spewing all sorts of audacious initiatives into the wind. Essentially, they’re telling the Americans: leave the Middle East to us, and we’ll take care of things!

On the internal front, Hilal uses caustic satire to criticize the snobbish and almost racist attitude that some Lebanese are showing towards the the anti-government protestors (Ar).

All of this politics-free post must be read to really appreciate the waste of time and energy involved in a normal business day at the bank according to Jamal:

Read the rest here...

25 December 2006

Free Firas, Abdel Azim and Mohammad

Update: Firas Hatoum as well as cameramen Abdel-Azim Khayyat and assistant Mohammed Barbar were released on Jan 31 2007 after paying a bail of L.L. 500,000 (about 330 dollars) each.

Firas Hatoum, Abdel Azim Khayyat and Mohammad Barbar were arrested while investigating the story of Zoheir al Siddiq.

Al Siddiq is a chief witness in the Hariri murder case.
He turned out to be a major false witness but his testimonies are the bases on which some arrests continue to this day.

Firas and his colleagues were arrested and jailed on theft charges!

Poor Addoum, he could have done a better job at coining a more plausible charge!!

Visit this page and show support for journalistic rights by signing the petition to free Firas, Abdel Azim and Mohammad.

Happy Holidays (all of them)

Oh, by the way, happy holidays (all of them) and best wishes.

Was Jesus born in Bethlehem?
Photo: AFP

19 December 2006

Lebanon: Hassan Nassrallah

The secretary general of Hezbollah S H Nassrallah and his speech that was directed to the demonstrators partaking in the sit-in protest in Beirut was the subject of many posts in the Lebanese blogs this week. And as usual, the opinions are as diverse as the political point of views of the writers. The selections here are from the diverse spectrum of opinions. They are stated at random with no particular order or grouping.

Let us start with Perpetual Refugee who returned after a long break with a post about a conversation with a gay friend and supporter of Nassrallah and Perpetual Refugee’s unsuccessful attempt to convince him of his mistake:

This was what freaked me out. An educated man. My friend. Openly gay (except to his mother). Supporting Nasrallah. All because they belong to the same ‘sect’. Nothing else.He seemed to have forgotten that his fundamental rights as a gay man. A gay Lebanese man. His rights were also being besieged by the demonstrations. The very rights that were struggling to flourish into something real. Starting with the most basic of rights. The right to live. As oneself.
Savonaroll at Remarkz uses wit, sarcasm, and ridicule, to criticize the faults in PM Sanyoura’s reply to Nassarallah’s address to the protestors.

Mustapha at Beirut Spring forsees the failure of the opposition because of what he sees as a misreading by Nassrallah of the Sunni public opinion:
When it comes to the Sunnis, Hassan Nassrallah seems pathetically clueless. By
his calculation, the anti American, anti zionist rhetoric should at least have split the Sunnis. It worked with Aljazeera’s Sunni Arab readers, why isn’t it working with the Lebanese?
Bech at Remarkz explains why it is not in Hezbollah’s interest to destablize Lebanon and criticizes western media for its bias coverage of the protests:
…this party has no interest whatsoever in creating dissensions in Lebanon that would destabilize the country. It always worked in a way to create compromise.Even while looking at it from the mostly realist-cunning perspective they stand to lose by all counts if they try to either monopolize decision making or impede on the power of other groups. Lock it in your heads for good this time: The weak destabilizes and looks for refuge in fragmentation, the strong is more prone towards unity. That’s the strategic advantage of each. But what’s very shocking is western media coverage of the issue. Only today I ran across an article in some American newspaper, which mentions in the last paragraph that there are “some Christian group” that is allied with Hizbullah.
Marxist From Lebanon wrote an analysis of the events in Lebanon from an economical perspective. In this analysis he mentions the role of leaders like Hariri, Aoun and Nasrallah:

Read the rest here...

18 December 2006

The Road to Qana

“The Road to Qana”, by Jallal Khoury, is a play worthy of watching.
It is currently showing at Monot Theater in Beirut.

The directing is simple but the dialogue is deep, reflecting philosophical and political views in a discussion/debate that takes place between four characters. One of them is a born again neo-conservative American who visits Qana with her Indian husband. The couple get involved in very intense quarrels on issues like religion, sex, politics and philosophy. The other two characters are a Lebanese and his alter-ego.

A musical band accompanies the play with music by Sami Hawwat.

Here is rough translation of Jalal Khoury's words about the play:

“Struggles have taken a religious nature since the fall of the Berlin wall which took down with it the secular ideologies that reigned over minds and politics for about two centuries. The divine became a springboard for earthly conflicts, creating and unleashing diverse and clashing extremisms.

Al Quds, Urshalim, The city of peace in Aramaic, has become a title, a motto and the
center of many struggles. Struggles which have lead some to believe that the wars, fears, destruction of the environment etc are all signs of the end of the universe. While others are lead to see that the mayhem we are experiencing is the birth pangs of an age of enlightenment, an age of values which future generations will enjoy.

“The Road to Qana” is a play that is trying to echo all that in the minds. It is also the story of a person looking for a place where ages are manifest and in which s/he finds him/herself…”

17 December 2006

The Fanatic:

is someone who can not change his mind
will not change the topic.


Al Mustaqbal

Finally I submitted to Sana’s incessant demand to buy Al-Mustaqbal newspaper and read Fares Khashan.
Sana is a communist and an atheist who loves Nassrallah.
Khashan is a self–proclaimed authority on the matters of the Truth.
I followed him last year during his radio broadcast until he started repeating himself and I started getting queasy.
Back to Al-Mustaqbal (The Future), the newspaper has so many “quotation marks” in it that I thought it was raining.
And then there is this report that I read about how the sit-in is polluting the downtown with hazardous smoke from the protesters’ free–nargillahs when it should have been filled with the sweet aroma of the smoke from the expensive nargillahs offered by the restaurants and pubs.
And there is of course the international tribunal after every comma and every period and before an exclamation mark.
And there is an article about the 480000000000000 USD that Lebanon has lost because of the current “protests” (“attempted coup”).
But there was no Khashan. “Pity” that Khashan did not write in this issue.

I stand totally and unconditionally with the international tribunal that will prosecute the murderers of PM Hariri and all others up to and including Gemayyel. I also demand an international tribunal to indict Bush and Olmert and while we are at it Rice, Rumsfeld Chenny, Comatose Sharon et al

What about Elie Hobeika? Whatever happened to his case? He should have been a witness the case against Sharon before his murder. Why is his case not included in the investigations too?

12 December 2006

The State of the Government Today

Cartoon's Source

Lebanon: Demonstrations, Demonstrations

A series of anti-government or opposition and pro-government protests and demonstrations are literally taking the country by storm. Lebanese bloggers are, as expected, expressing their positions, whether pro, con or independent through opinions, analysis, sarcasm, art, etc. The posts quoted here are, as usual, not all inclusive. All the other interesting blogs could not be mentioned for lack of space and time. As the events are accelerating in Lebanon, a lot more is expected from the bloggers, so be sure to check back for updates. Meanwhile here is a sample of posts from some blogs. It is left to you to decide where each blogger stands.

The demonstrations and the reactions to them inspired the following painting by Ibn Bint Jbeil.
He also wrote:

What do you see?
Fellow human beings?
or faceless crowds
that you can easily dismiss as wrong, irrelevant, peasants, misguided, unworthy,
untrustworthy, different, heretical, decadent, uncivilized?

Then there is this letter from Beirut from a friend of Pierre Tristam who will not partake in any demonstration:

No, I won’t take to the streets. Not now, not again. Not for this cause or the
other. Every time we take to the streets and for whatever reason, we’re
exploited for personal, not Lebanese, volitions. Today’s demonstration isn’t
different from yesterday’s. It’s led by the same willful warmongers. I don’t buy
that option “against corruption, etc.” Bullshit. I don’t believe in a National
Unity government. It never worked in the past and nothing has changed since.

The shortcomings of the leaders of the “Cedar’s Revolution” are the reasons behind the momentum of the anti-government protest according to Charles Malik in this lengthy analysis.

Sophia points out that there are lessons that the Lebanese can learn from Canada’s multiculturalism and also states that:

I have affirmed that the new divide in Lebanon, the economic divide brought upon
a traditionally prosperous country by the civil war and by the disastrous
management of the state by Hariri, is helping bridge the sectarian religious
and ethnic divide. March 14th is the movement of the rich and the few who
profited from the new economy while March 8th is the movement of the
disgruntled and the numerous left behind by the new economy.
I believe that March 14th deceived the Lebanese and lost the popular support and the
political capital it was sitting on since the assassination of Rafik Hariri
as much as Bush has deceived the Americans and lost the political capital it
was given by the American nation after 9/11.

The media was mocked by Bech at Remarkz for its bias and shortsightedness during the covering of the opposition’s protests :

shame on the media that does not understand that the people who are on the
streets are not there for “sectarian” reasons but because they’re fed up of a
government that is incompetent, corrupt, and dangerous.
Shame on the media
that twists information according to where the paycheck come from.
Shame on
the media that is itself sectarian, replicating the confessional discourse that,
we as Lebanese, are guilty of having supplied during the past decades.
on the media that replicates another demon the Lebanese have created in order to
stay divided the Syria-bashing Syndrome. Again us Lebanese are so guilty. We
have fed the media with our fears. And our fears are now traveling the world as
an biased account of the social reality.

06 December 2006


What do you see?

Fellow human beings?

or faceless crowds that you can easily dismiss as wrong, irrelevant,
peasants, misguided, unworthy, untrustworthy, different, heretical, decadent,

-Painting and caption: by Ibn Bint Jbeil.

01 December 2006

Two Things the PM Forgot to Mention

Responding to the call for open ended protests to topple the government, PM Sanyourah spoke to the Lebanese yesterday promising them that he will be steadfast and that these protests really aim at making Lebanon an open ground for international conflicts etc. He also invoked the spirits of the martyrs Gemayel, Hawi, …and called on the Lebanese to help protect the state by raising the national flags on their homes. Right after his speech gun shots was heard around Beirut mixed with fireworks.

Let's put aside the fact that the state is not the government. And let us not delve into analysis of the loop of contradictions that exist in the call on Lebanese to defend the state against other Lebanese who are going to protest because they want a share in running the affairs of the state. And let's not hold him at error for calling on fellow citizens to help protect him against other fellow citizens. (Does this act reflect panic?)

Forget all of that and also forget the kissy-kissy of Rice while she shipped cheap cluster bombs to Israel that ended up in our backyard promising to keep us busy for years to come.

The PM forgot to mention that winter is approaching fast and that tens of thousands of his fellow citizens are still without houses to shelter them after Israel destroyed theirs in July. He forgot that those tens of thousands of Lebanese were promised - by him and his government (and their friends) - shelters and care but nothing has materialized so far. Let's not mention the roads that were not fixed, the stinking health care system that was never better, the cluster bombs that kills and maims daily etc. One could carry on forever this way. Who or what will stop these tens of thousands of Lebanese from raising the Lebanese flag in protest against the PM and his government who seems to have nothing to say in his defense but ask us to raise flags to protect his government.

The PM also forgot (not the first time) to mention that among the martyrs that he envoked are thousands who were killed four month ago. And that they too paid the price to protect Lebanon. Who or what will stop their families and friends from protesting today against a government that forgot their struggle and sorrows.

The PM's mistake was to give the impression that all Lebanese are martyrs but some are more martyrs than others.


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