26 December 2007

Bethlehem at 4 AM

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighbouring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. - Dalai Lama (1989)

Video HT: Marcy Newman

18 December 2007

"The Apartheid Wall": just another application

Amal's latest: facebook 2, Israel added "The Apartheid Wall" application

16 December 2007

Lebanese dialogue made simple

The sequence of events in the cartoon are from right to left.
The Arabic script: "lebanese politics (explained for kids)"
by: Mazen Kerbaj
HT: friday-lunch-club

13 December 2007

Events in the life of Brigadier El Hajj

Bech has this interesting post on Lebanese Army Brigadier Francois el-Hajj's who was assassinated yesterday morning in Baabda, Lebanon.
I am quoting the first part, the rest of it is here.

So a quick recap of Brigadier Francois el-Hajj's military history in reverse chronological order

1- Played a central role in the destruction and defeat of Fath al Islam's forces in Nahr el Bared.
2- Lead battles against the bad guys in Deniyeh (replicas of Fath al Islam) 7 years ago, only to find them released along with Samir Geagea in the euphoria run-up of the cedar revolution.
3- Countered Lebanese Forces attacks in 1989 moments after Geagea (leader of LF) assured him that the army (under the command of General Aoun at the time) won't be attacked. Hajj accordingly lead the attack from Qolei3at and pushed LF forces back to Nahr el Mot.
4- Escaped an Israeli-LF assassination's attempt back in 1976, after Bashir Gemayel's forces (LF old face) had asked him to coordinate with the Israelis in order to set up a security zone in the south, to which he refused.
>>> read the rest...

07 December 2007

Gaza Calling

This video was created by Haitham Sabbah. It is intended to raise awareness of the catastrophic conditions that the Palestinians in Gaza are enduring, and to subsequently help end its siege by Israel. Haitham is calling on all to copy the video's code and help spread the word. Music track by: Checkpoint 303

25 November 2007

Maxime Chaya: The Three Poles Challenge

Maxime Chaya is currently attempting an unassisted (on skis without dogs) and unsupported (without re-supplies) crossing of Antarctica, from the Hercules Inlet to the South Pole (1130 km). Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.

This crossing, for Maxime, will be the second milestone of the Three Poles Challenge. The first was completed when he raised, for the first time in history, the Lebanese flag on the summit of Mount Everest. The third is going to be the North Pole.

Completing this challenge will place Maxime with a handful of people who have achieved this seemingly impossible task.

Maxime Chaya was officially nominated a Seven “Summiteer” on May 15, 2006, after having conquered the 7 Summits - the highest peaks on the seven continents.

Maxime Chaya is blogging his adventure at thethreepoles.com

23 November 2007

Army entrusted with the authority to maintain security

…so basically the situation can be summarized as follows: effectively at midnight tonight, Lebanon is without a president; the government (that is, granted its legitimacy is not contested) is resigned, the parliament’s session for electing a new president is postponed till the 30th of November, and the army is in charge of the security of the land.

Now this is a country protected by "divine intervention"...

22 November 2007

Aoun offers to step down...

Gen Michel Aoun proposed, this evening, a “six–point salvation initiative” in which he will withdraw his candidacy on condition that he names an interim presidential candidate, who is not a member of his bloc, to be “elected” tomorrow. The initiative also proposes that Saad Hariri should name the prime minister of the new cabinet that will be formed after the election:

1- General Michel Aoun will name a candidate for the presidency of the republic provided the latter is neither a member of his parliamentary bloc nor of his party and provided he fully agrees to the memorandum of understanding signed with Hizbullah. This candidate will be elected by parliament and his mandate will come to an end immediately after the new parliamentary elections; thereafter the constitutionally required quorum (i.e. the two thirds) will be provided for the election of the new president.
2- In parallel, MP Saad Hariri will name a consensual prime minister provided he is not a member of the future movement and he is committed to the international tribunal.
>>>the rest of the initiative...
Aoun has set 10PM tomorrow night, two hours before the end of Pres Lahoud’s term in office, as a deadline for his proposal.

March 14 leaders are currently holding a general meeting in which they are discussing the proposal as well as tomorrow’s session in parliament which is scheduled to elect the new president.

France’s foreign minister, Kouchner, told a news conference this evening that the issue is complicated and that we will have to wait for tomorrow without much hope.

Anxiety is high in the country. Many schools are not opening tomorrow despite the minister of education call for a normal school day. Many universities have postponed classes. Teachers have postponed scheduled quizzes and tests since students have decided not to attend. Most people have decided to stay home or limit their movements.

The whole show is non–democratic non–constitutional, but people are tired and fed up. Any initiative that gives the slightest hope of easing the tension will be welcomed. But will this initiative see the light or solve the problem? Will March 14 leaders’ declarations for concessions and rejection for any kind of strife, during the past few days, be reflected in their decisions tonight?

Are these the last hours before the declaration of "the settlement" that many believe has been reached between major parties with the blessing of major foreign powers?

Did I hear Kouchner mention that a "divine miracle" may happen tomorrow?

March 14 leaders reject Aoun's initiative and call on MPs to attend the election session tomorrow.

Lebanon's Independence Pension Plan

And on its 64th birthday, Lebanon's independence retires with no pension plan.

20 November 2007

Hailstorm helps in clearing left-over cluster bombs

Hailstorm has caused hundreds of cluster bombs [bomblets] to explode in the valleys of South Lebanon. The cluster bombs were dropped by Israel during its July 2006 Lebanon War.
The hailstones were as big as walnuts.
Divine anybody?

14 November 2007

The Israel we have to put up with

Transcript of the above video:

Facts about Israel

Israel, a country the size of new jersey can only claim to the following achievements:

1. Israel was established upon the ruins of another nation that she destroyed: Palestine.
2. Israel holds the world record in the number of towns and villages she ethnically cleansed: 500+
3. Israel holds the world record in the number of refugees she deported: 4 million +
4. Israel holds the world record in the number of homes she demolished: 60 thousand +
5. Israel is the country with the highest record of UN condemnation: 500 times +
6. Israel is the country with the highest number of protective US Security council vetoes: 100 times +
7. Israel has killed more innocent civilians per capita than any other country 50 000 +
8. Israel has imprisoned more civilians per capita than any other country: 250 000 +
9. Israel has rendered more innocent civilians handicapped per capita than any other country: 50 000 +
10. Israel has injured more innocent civilians per capita than any other country: 200 000 +
11. Israel has only two countries to defend its policies in the United Nations; these are the US and Micronesia.
12. Israel is the only country on Earth that denies the right of return of refugees.
13. Israel is the only country on Earth that still occupies a whole other country and parts of two other countries.
14. Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly steals the water of its neighbors
15. Israel is the only country on Earth that has legalized home demolishing as a method of collective punishment.
16. Israel is the only country on Earth that uproots trees as a method of collective punishment.
17. Israel is the only country on Earth that deliberately targets civilian infrastructure and justifies it.
18. Israel is the only country on Earth that has legalized assassination.
19. Israel stands unique in using human shields in military operations.
20. Amongst all countries, Israel is the only one that has legalized torture.
21. Israel is the only country on Earth that builds illegal settlements in occupied lands.
22. Israel is the only country on Earth that publicly jails activists without trials.
23. According to Guiness Book of World Records, Israel has created the highest number of checkpoints.
24. According to Guiness Book of World Records, Israel holds the world record in the number of days of curfew she installed on the Palestinians.
25. Israel is the only country on whose checkpoints women, denied access to hospital, give birth, babies usually die.
26. Israel is exceptional in being the only country whose checkpoints patients die due to denied access to hospitals.
27. Israel is the only country on whose checkpoints wedding parades end.
28. Israel is the only country on Earth on whose checkpoints school children denied access to school end up having their classes.
29. Israel is one of two countries that, against the International law, use cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs.
30. Israel holds the world record in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the army.
31. Israel, despite being a rich country, receives the highest financial aid, more than the sum of aid to all sub–Saharan Africa.
32. Israel claims its enemies want to wipe it off the map, but she has indeed wiped a whole country off the map: Palestine.
33. Israel is the country that has introduced nuclear weapons into the Middle East. But is the only country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the nuclear non–proliferation treaty.
34. After East Germany, Israel is the only country that is building a segregation wall.
Second to South Africa, Israel is the only current country to establish an apartheid regime.
35. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first iron gates on roads.
36. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first cities turned into jails with gates and opening hours.
37. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first Apartheid walls.
38. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first electrified segregation fences.
39. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first eye specific rubber bullets.
40. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first abortion efficient infant killing tear gas
41. Israeli engineers developed the world’s first humiliation guaranteed human cages.
42. Israel is the only country on Earth that has a political party that publicly advocates ethnic cleansing on the native citizens.
43. Israel is the only country that still has racist laws that discriminate against its native citizens.
44. Israel is the only country known to have memorial dedicated to a terrorist, where his followers gather and dance.
45. Israel is the only country on Earth that imprisons kids for political reasons.
46. Israel is the only country on Earth where you get a one month community service for intentionally smashing the head of child.
47. What other country does not hold its soldiers accountable for shooting peace activists in cold blood?
48. No other country has towns and cities allocated exclusively for one ethnic group.
49. The only place on Earth where people live in homes stolen from living refugees is Israel.
50. The only place on Earth where people cultivate fields stolen from living refugees is Israel.
51. Israel has the highest number of towns built upon ethnically cleansed villages, whose former residents are living refugees.

52. Israel ranks amongst the top countries in lack of security.

10 November 2007

Marakeb: Marwan Abado

Marwan Abado is a Palestinian singer, composer and oud player. Born a refugee in Lebanon, he later moved to Austria to continue his studies. Currently performing as a solo musician and member of ensembles in Austria and worldwide. Abado's music is an improvisational mix of Oriental forms and Western elements.

"Marakeb" is Arabic for boats. The lyrics are inspired from the tradition of wishing sailors a safe return home, to the "lost" shores of Palestine.

This performance was held at the Union Chapel.


07 November 2007

She saw Ramallah

Amal saw Ramallah...

04 November 2007

Occupation 101

Ninety years after Lord Balfour worked with Chaim Weizmann, the head of the world's Zionist organization on the Declaration. Ninety years after Lord Balfour wrote a simple letter to lord Rotschild promising Jews a homeland in Palestine. Ninety years after Balfour’s Declaration: suffering, misery, frustration and the occupation continue. Occupation-101 is:

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy.
The documentary can be watched, through YouTube, in ten parts:
part1, part2, part3, part4, part5, part6, part7, part8, part9, part10

Or it can be seen in one-part full copy at Sabbah.
Support this documentary by purchasing the Occupation101 DVD.

25 October 2007


"There is No East, There is no West, There is No Arabs, No Europeans, No Americans, No Communists, No Capitalists, …
There is only One System of symbiosis. The Currency, The Dollar, Euro, Shekel, Pound and our beloved Lira."

Inconvenient truth

"That one says it almost all, and not just about global warming. It's the epitaph to the Age of Bush." >>> Pierre

23 October 2007

Hidden violence against Lebanese women

"Women's groups say they receive daily reports of domestic violence from women from all sectors of society, across religious and economic divides.
It is estimated that there is approximately one honor killing a week in Lebanon
>>> details...

More on this subject, its preventions and on victim's support at KAFA

14 October 2007

Wetmayali = Sway

Shy seduction radiates from the beautiful girl as she sways to the melody of this enjoyable music and fine lyrics by Nadim Mohsen.
The setting for the video clip is the majestic temple of Baalbeck looking over the Bekaa plain (valley) of Lebanon.
Six elegantly mature dancers with their traditional robes and headdresses dance the dabke by the six towering columns of the temple. Their calm and pleasant countenances proudly portray the marks of age-old hard work and experience.
Young men, descendents of the architects and builders of this temple (I insist), dance joyfully around them in harmony with the rhythms and the beats.
The beautiful girl sways as the song tells of “a world that awakes upon his laughter…”

09 October 2007

Leila angrily battles injustice and cancer

It's time for me to be honest and quit keeping silent in the face of the world's miseries.

I am very angry.

I am angry at what my government has done in my name; I am angry at the State of Israel; I am angry at right-wing Lebanese who call themselves Christians and yet flout the teachings of Jesus; I am angry at anybody who uses violence: suicide bombers, fighter jet bombers, cluster bombs, suitcase bombs.

I am angry at what Republicans and Democrats have done to democracy in this country. I am angry at what we are all doing to the natural world for our own selfish greediness.

I am angry that I got cancer and I am angry that many women in my country can't get treated properly for their illnesses because our health care delivery system is so screwed up.

I am angry at what happened in Nahr-al-Bared this summer, and I am angry at all the militaristic jingoistic people in America and Lebanon who think that their soldiers do anything to "protect" them.

This list could go on and on.

I am not going to be polite and hold it in any longer.
I am not going to let my anger kill me.
And I am not going to die of cancer because Lebanon is in agony.
Lebanon has been in agony for much of my life.
I have taken it too much to heart

Is cancer a disease of anger?

...part of what my blogger friend Leila Abu-Saba said in her post about her recurring case of cancer. She beat it the last time. She will beat it this time. She has the support of her family, friends and of her optimistic doctors.

Leila, force that cancerous anger out of the dove.

08 October 2007

Redemption Song

emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
non but ourselves can free our minds
have no fear from atomic energy
cuz non of them can stop the time

how long shall they kill our prophets
while we stand aside and look
some say it's just a part of it
we've got to fulfill the book

wont you help to sing
the songs of freedom
cuz all i ever have
redemption songs

songs of freedom
--bob marley: "redemption song"

06 October 2007

Terrorism does not discriminate

Ayn el Hayat (meaning spring of life) was born 27 years ago in Germany where she spent most of her life with her Lebanese father and German mother. Ayn el Hayat returned to Lebanon about two years ago after finishing her university studies. She was four month pregnant and returning from work when the car bomb that killed MP A. Ghanem exploded. The bomb caused her severe burns and suffering. Thirteen days later, she gave up and passed away.

Ayn el Hayat had recently started working at a translation firm in Sin el Fil. It was her first day of work after a two-week break.

Ayn el Hayat, the daughter of Farid Abdel Karim, the son of Kafra (my hometown), Qada Bint Jbeil was full of life. She and her family escaped death during the July 2006 war while they were in Kafra. They left the South of Lebanon at the request of the German Embassy.

Ayn el Hayat was buried two days ago in Kafra, a town she just started to know.

A couple of days ago we lit candles in memory of Charles Chikhani.
Charles, who was 29, studied outside Lebanon and like Ayn el Hayat, decided to return to Lebanon. He became a director in a Lebanese communication company. The same bomb that deprived Lebanon of Ayn el Hayat also took Charles life away.

A couple of days ago we lit candles to remember Charles and other innocent lives lost to terrorism.

Tomorrow we go to pay our respect to the memory of Ayn el Hayat.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we shun terrorism.

Ayn el Hayat facebook group

Charles facebook group

1st image: Ayn el Hayat's mother holding her photo
2nd image: Charles Chikhani

05 October 2007

Playboy magazine slammed for criticizing Israel

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has condemned the Playboy magazine for publishing an article criticizing Israel. For CAMERA any opinion that is not totally biased in favor of Israel is distorted. For them, the editors who publish these opinions don't know a zit’s ass about the conflict in the ME and are not equipped to edit. And for them, the people who read popular magazines and professional journals don’t have the mind to know what is good for them. CAMERA puts it like this:

distorted articles about the Arab-Israeli conflict have increasingly turned up in popular magazines and professional journals that don't ordinarily cover world affairs (eg: Vogue, Architectural Review, Oprah and Lancet). Editors of such publications are generally unequipped to spot inaccuracies, distortions and lack of context on Middle East issues. Because these publications usually provide information on non-controversial or human interest stories, when they promote fringe, false and inflammatory points of view the mainstream public is likely to accept these views as credible.
But what did Playboy do? It published an article by Jonathan Tasini titled “Israel Shouldn’t Get a Free Pass: Real Debate Is Not Anti-Semetic”.
became worried because the article agrees with Jimmy Carter's description, in his book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid", of the control over Palestinians' movements as similar to South Africa's apartheid system.
CAMERA finds it most disturbing that the Playboy,
the racy but popular men's magazine, has published in its October 2007 issue an article comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa.
And what, in Tasini's article, made him and Playboy earn this condemnation?
Here are the introductory paragraphs, the entire article is at Sabbah's:
Why can’t American Jews, particularly liberal Jews, think straight about Israel? American Jews can easily condemn the war in and occupation of Iraq, as well as the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the violations of civil rights there. Yet the same passion for peace, justice and human rights is muted when it comes to talking about unpleasant activities in the Israeli government. American Jews and many politicians who pander for Jewish votes are hurting Israel and the cause of peace by refusing to have an honest debate about our country’s historically one-sided position vis-a-vis Israel and the Middle East conflict. An honest debate is underway within Israel itself, but in the US it’s impossible to be critical of Israel without being labeled anti-Semitic or worse.

Before I dive further into this, I should establish my bona fides for making this argument, which itself says alot about the terrain. I am a Jew. My father was born in what was then Palestine and fought in Israel’s war of independence. My father’s cousin was killed in that war. I lived in Israel for seven years, including the period of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. A cousin of mine was killed in that war, leaving behind a widow and two children. My step-grandfather, an ikd nab wgi was no threat to anyone was killed by a Palestinian who took an axe to his head while he was sitting quietly on a park bench. His murder was revenge for the massacre of dozens of peaceful Muslims the day before, slaughtered by an ultra-nationalist Israeli soldier as they knelt in prayer.

I care about Israel as I care about our country, but I wish to speak the truth about it. In 2006, when I ran in the New York Democratic primary for Senator because of incumbent Hillary Clinton’s support for the Iraq war, my campaign coincided with Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, a move triggered by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. While campaigning I said that Israel had committed acts that violated the Geneva Conventions and international standards. Within an hour reporters from all four New York daily papers called me, alerted to my comments by my opponent’s operatives. Betraying their bias, the reporters had no idea my position would not be considered novel or radical in Israel where the country’s conduct in the war was a topic of hot debate. >>>the rest...

Image by: Carlos Latuff

04 October 2007

Six year old Ali killed by a left-over cluster bomblet

When Ali Daqdouq returned home after school, in his Southern village of Sultaniyyeh, he was so excited about the adventures of his first day of school this year that he could barely catch his breath while telling his mother about them. He threw his old school bag aside and took off his used school uniform. He had his lunch and went to his neighbor and friend, Amal, to play videogames, just as he used to do in the afternoons of the summer break.

Little did the six-year-old Ali know that this would be his first and last day of school. Little did he know that he would not make it to the date with Amal.

One of the couple of millions unexploded cluster bomblets (the ones Bush and Rice supplied to Israel and the IDF in turn salted the South with during summer 2006) took Ali’s life. Ali wasn’t the first casualty of leftover bomblets in Sultaniyyeh. Less than a year ago, young Hussein Daqdouq died because another unexploded bomblet decided to go off. The lives and livelihoods of more than a couple of hundreds has been taken away by these cluster bomblets since the war “ended”.

The area around Ali’s home was checked and cleared by organizations ridding the South of the unexploded ordnance. The area was declared safe after two bombs were found and secured. It turned out that they missed at least a third.

Yesterday the village of Sultaniyyeh buried the six-year-old Ali. His father Hussein is speechless, his two sisters Sarah and Zeinab cry and pray for his soul. The village of Sultaniyyeh is mourning.

Did Saad tell Bush and Rice about Ali when they met today?

02 October 2007

Sounds of Sects

"I don't want our child to speak Shia!"

You know, during the (un)civil war, people got killed because they had the 'wrong' pronunciation of tomato at the 'wrong' road block!

So do you say "bandora" or "banadoora"?
Do you say "ah-nay" (meaning I) or "ah-nah" (meaning I)?

If you say "ah-nay" (for I) then you are from the South and most propably Shiite.
If you say "ay-nah" then you are from the Mountain and maybe a Druze.
If you say "ah-nah" then you are a city girl or boy and that is confusing!
So we have to listen carefully for other sound clues.

This, ofcourse, is when your name is not sufficient to give you away.
And no matter how much you try to explain that you are secular or have converted to Buddhism, it just does not work.

You are what you sound.

27 September 2007

US Senate votes to divide Iraq

The plan that was voted for by the senate proposes to separate Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni entities, with a federal government in Baghdad in charge of border security and oil revenues.

The conspiracy theorists we ridiculed years ago were right after all. Their theories see the light day after day. What was predicted unfolds.

You may still call it a conspiracy theory but I now call it strategic planning.
But we are not the planners ofcourse.

If the US succeeds in dividing Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon and others will be next. It is just a matter of years.

It is Sykes and Picot all over again. This time dividing the already divided.

All this division is simply to justify the Zionists claim that it is not possible to have a secular nation where people of diverse cultures or religions can be equal citizens in this part of the world.

Oh yes, pardon me, and there is always the source of energy (petroleum) and there is the water too, ...

Now prove me wrong...

(image : Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916, click for larger view)

how US mercenaries liberate Iraq

and how blackwater security thugs accomplish excused killings
and why the US exonerates blackwater thugs from their crimes
and why Iraqi PM could not keep his decision to stop their operations for the security of Iraq
and why they and their likes are loved, legal, necessary and temporary
and why it is good that Lebanon is having its own operation freedom and democracy
and I am asking not stating
and this is courtesy of Pierre

24 September 2007

gimme hope johanna

Gimme Hope Johanna - Eddy Grant

23 September 2007

Funny and Pathetic

"Sweetie" and "Prince of Joy" (aliases in an online chat room) spent hours telling each other about their marriage troubles, only to discover that they were wife and husband (Sana and Adnan), when they both turned up for a date. Now they want to divorce because they were cheating on each other with each other.

But this is not as funny and pathetic as a Lebanese minister (of tourism) bragging, after meeting with representatives of the Bush administration: "as you know, Lebanon is the only Arab country that practices democracy..." or when he tells representatives of western governments after they ask him for suggestions to solve the problems in his country: "...you should tell us, you are the 'big' nations, you should know what to do..."

Surreally Freudian!

2al za3za3at el istikrar 2al
btw how do u translate 'za3za3at il istikrar'?

19 September 2007

Terrorism strikes yet again in Beirut!

A large terrorist explosion targeted the Sin el Fil area on the outskirt of Beirut. LBC is reporting that the explosion is near Antoine Library. The reporter is saying that one of the burning cars belong to a member of parliament. The images on LBC are grave. Burning cars, destroyed buildings and casualties. Like a war zone.

Feeling speechless and helpless.

MP Antoine Ghanem, member of the Phalangist Party, was assassinated by a bomb that targeted his car in Beirut’s Sin el-Fil suburb, Hursh Tabet area.
Reports of seven other people killed and at least 20 wounded in the attack.

Other bloggers reactions here (GVO) and here (MFL)

16 September 2007

Lebanon: Helping abused migrant workers

Following up on the issue of abused maids, it turns out that Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center is trying to help migrant workers, mostly from Africa and East Asia, by providing some refuge and advocating their rights. They seem to have a very tough job on their hand but at least someone is acting. This article by Ethiopian Reporter mentions cases of hardships and abuse that some workers suffered and how Caritas intervened to help them.

According to the report, the organization carried out a survey of Lebanese employers' attitude towards their migrant helpers. The results are grim, to say the least.

Over 90% of employers think it is right to confiscate their worker’s passport;
over 80% actively limit their worker’s movement and contacts;
nearly 50% have their workers on call 24 hours a day;
and 41% of employers think its fine to punish their worker - with over 30% admitting to hitting them, and regulating their food quality and intake.
This is how the article describes the work of the organization:
Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center, established in 1994 in Beirut, is a refuge and advocate for migrant workers who find themselves in a hostile working and living environment. There are drop-in centers and two safe houses for shelter. “Usually we receive trafficked girls who have been abused physically, mentally, sexually – who have been treated badly,” says Rania Hokayem, the center’s program manager.
But what about those who cannot find their way to this organization? What becomes of them?

Apartheid Israel

This is why ‘apartheid’ applies to Israeli policies and practices against Palestinians.

This is how critics of these policies are summarily condemned as ‘anti–semites’.

And why Americans don't know exactly what's going on:

One reason that the US government, politicians and people don’t have a clear idea of the situation in Israel/Palestine is that any criticism or complaint about Israel, no matter how well-researched and moderate, is swiftly attacked by lobbies in the US as being anti-semitic.

14 September 2007

Sabra and Shatila: the perpetrators

"Many of the killers now freely admit that they conducted a three-day orgy of rape and slaughter that left hundreds, as many as 3,500 they claim, possibly more, of innocent civilians dead in what is considered the single bloodiest incident of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a crime for which Israel will be condemned for eternity.
I regret to report that all those who perpetrated the massacre at Sabra-Shatila escaped justice. None of the hundreds of Phalange and Haddad militia who carried out the slaughter were ever punished. In fact, they got a blanket amnesty from the Lebanese government.

As for the main organizers and facilitators, their massacre at Sabra-Shatila turned out to be excellent career moves for virtually all of them. Ariel Sharon resigned as Minister of Defense but retained his cabinet position in Menachem Begin's government and over the next 16 years held four more ministerial posts, including that of Foreign Minister, before becoming Prime Minister in February 2001. Following the 2002 Jenin rampage, US President Geroge W. Bush anointed him "a man of peace."

>>> Franklin Lamb

Sabra and Shatila: Um Ahmad and Joseph the lay cleric

"Your friend, Um Ahmad, still lives in the same house where she lost her husband, four sons and a daughter when Joseph, a thick-set militiaman carrying an assault rifle, bundled everyone into one room of their hovel and opened fire. She still explains like it was yesterday, how the condoned slaughter unfolded, recalling each of her four sons by name, Nizar, Shadi, Farid and Nidal. I asked Joseph if he wanted to sit with Um Ahmad and seek forgiveness and possible redemption since he has now become a lay cleric in his parish. He declined but sent his condolences with flowers."

>>> Franklin Lamb

Sabra and Shatila: 25 years and still not healed

"I saw dead women in their houses with their skirts up to their waists and their legs spread apart; dozens of young men shot after being lined up against an alley wall; children with their throats slit, a pregnant woman with her stomach chopped open, her eyes still wide open, her blackened face silently screaming in horror; countless babies and toddlers who had been stabbed or ripped apart and who had been thrown into garbage piles."

- Janet Lee Stevens (1951 - 1983)

13 September 2007

African Maids Abused in Lebanon

"Driven by poverty and conflict in their home countries, women from Africa travel to Lebanon only to find themselves hungry, abused, raped and subjected to conditions akin to slavery."

"Amira is 25 years old. She comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. "One time, Madame found dust on the furniture. She told me that the house was dirty like my skin."

For four years Amira has been confined to the apartment of her employers -- only leaving to take out the trash. She came to Lebanon as a domestic worker on a six-year contract due to ongoing conflict in her country. Awakened daily at 5.30 am, she is subjected to 18 hours of back-breaking labour without time off."


"Sixteen-year old Elisa is from Ethiopia. Her mother died last year, and six months ago she came to Lebanon to work and send money home to her family. For 100 dollars per month she maintains five houses a day.

"When I started work with this family I was sexually abused all the time by the father of my employer. The kids would beat me everyday and I would try to explain to Madame but she wouldn't do anything. Sometimes the father would come to sleep with me and threaten that if I refused he would beat me. So I left the house.""
more >>>

Also at BBC:
Burundian's ordeal in Lebanon
Ethiopian maids 'abused in Middle East'

11 September 2007

Mazen remembers 9/11

Top, right to left: "11 september" - "11 september 2001" - "11 september 2007"

Bottom, Arabic: "today i am celebrating 6 years of friendship with the customs of the civilised world airports"

The rest, English: you can figure them out by yourself (click on the image to enlarge)
The artwork: by Mazen Kerbaj (also published today in Al-Akhbar)

09 September 2007

Why HRW stopped short of accusing Israel of war crimes?

At the question that why HRW stopped short of accusing Israel of war crimes while it accused Hezbollah of war crimes, when both are accused of targeting civilians, Mr. Roth gave this quite silly answer:

"War crimes are attributed to individuals. The Israeli army high commanders were not involved in issuing the orders for the bombings that killed Lebanese civilians, only army personnel and individuals at low command positions were. And the orders for bombing Israeli civilians were issued by the Hezbollah highest military authorities."
Kenneth Roth, Human Right's Watch executive director, was speaking on Radio Canada when he uttered these golden words of wisdom (thanks Sophia).

During July 06 Israeli-Lebanese war, according to HRW's reports, civilian populations on both sides were targetted. More than 1000 Lebanese civilians died, a third of them children. While on the Israeli side there were 43 civilian casualties among 163 deaths.

NO, Hezbollah did NOT embed its fighters among the civilian population. As confirmed by HRW report on the matter .

So now, do you understand why there was an uproar against HRW when they planned to hold their conference in Beirut? Even PM Sanyoura bashed them. Add to this the report that HRW had to be harsh with the Lebanese (Hezbollahis are Lebanese, right?!) in order to justify its harsh statements against Israel. All this in the name of objectivity!

07 September 2007

Facebook profiles are now open to the public

Facebook has added a search function that will allow anyone who is NOT registered with the site to search for a specific person.

That’s not all. What’s more is that in a month’s time, this feature will allow searchers to track down Facebook members through search engines such as GOOGLE.

Facebook does notify its users about this new feature once they sign in. A typical home page looks like this:Although Facebook says that the revealed information will be minimal, this move is likely to anger privacy advocates according to this report from the BBC.

The search engine will return the thumbnail picture from the profile page of the member as well as links allowing the searcher to interact with the member.

But the searcher will have to be registered with Facebook in order to add someone as a friend or send them a message.

Users have a grace period of up to a month to opt out of the feature altogether or restrict the information they want to be available to the public.

Facebook, which was started by Mark Zuckerberg to keep US college students in contact, is now the sixth most visited site in the US and it accounts for 1% of all internet traffic.

06 September 2007

Attention Span Granted to Naher el Bared

The attention given to Nahr al-Bared will rapidly wane, and as always none of the humanitarian or political issues associated with the Palestinian camps will be addressed. Meanwhile, a new generation of Palestinians can now claim their own painful memories of the ongoing struggle for existence. The refugees from Nahr al-Bared and elsewhere are left, until further notice, with only hopes and prayers that the next incident involving one of their camps will not be as bloody and devastating as previous episodes.
--- Jamal Ghosn at Electronic Lebanon

05 September 2007

U.S. and Lebanon: Strategic Partners

"The United States, as one of Lebanon's strategic international partners, is proud to have provided supplies and training for the army at the request of the democratically elected Lebanese Government to help in combating this terrorist threat."

These are the words of U.S. Ambassador J. Feltman as he praised the Lebanese government and its army for achieving a "decisive victory" on Fatah al-Islam terrorists.

Six questions (for now):

1– Since we are “strategic partners” with the U.S., should we be expecting military aid of the same magnitude that the U.S. gave and will give to her other strategic partner in the neighborhood?

2– How come the Lebanese Government official said on TV that the army was ill–equipped and that all the “supplies” received were fully paid for by Lebanese Government?

3– What will happen to the arms embargo enforced on the Lebanese army with the purpose of ensuring the military superiority of the other strategic partner?

4– How come the Lebanese Army officers disclosed that they had to improvise and come up with “hand made” bombs that were later dropped from helicopters in the battles. Something, they insisted, was never ever done in the history of war.

5– Why do U.S. officials keep referring to the government in Lebanon as “democratically elected” when they know we only democratically (?) elect the representatives who in turn elect the president who in turn, after consultations, appoint the government?

6– Did the super-duper-rocket-fuel-powered-humvees provided by the U.S. have anything to do with the decisive victory achieved by the army? Or was it some top secret smart bomb left over from last summer?

Now I’m digressing. Forgive me.

But just to be fair I have to mention that the ambassador also said that Washington looks forward to joining reconstruction efforts to help Lebanese citizens and Palestinian refugees who had been displaced by the violence at Nahr al-Bared and its environs.

That I will have to see!


Pencil Drawings from Zareh

Two pencil drawings by Zareh. They are described as portraits of friends from Los Angeles.
Notice the hair.

04 September 2007

Syria Also Helped Uproot Fateh el Islam

While some political parties in Lebanon still insist that Syria is behind Fateh el Islam, top Lebanese Army officers repeated in the press conference, held by Minister of Defense today, that the militant group is part of Al Qaeda network. And that their investigations, so far, does not incriminate Syria.

Not only that, but that Syria actually provided the Lebanese Army with logistical assistance during its battle with the militant group. They explained that the Minister of Defense did not mention Syria in his speech, as he did with the other countries that provided help to the army, because the Syrian help was part of an ongoing agreement between the Syrian Army and the Lebanese Army dating to the era before Syrian troops left Lebanon in 2005.

Of course Syria does not need to be thanked, after all, what are brothers for.

Defense Minister Sets the Shape of Things to Come

Lebanese defense minister, Elias el Murr, declared the following NO’s in his press conference today. It is a directive of what is and is not accepted from the politicians during the coming months. It is also the setting of the stage for the upcoming presidential election. This is in line with what the Army Chief Gen. Suleiman declared earlier. Minister Murr said:

Now that the Lebanese Army, under the leadership of Gen Suleiman, has successfully ended the Nahr el Bared conflict and has destroyed Fath al Islam, we assert that there will be NO two governments in Lebanon. There will be NO two presidents in Lebanon. There will be NO two Lebanons. And the presidential elections will be held on time.

Now guess who will be the next president.

Mother Teresa's Faith Crisis

Although she publicly proclaimed that her heart belonged "entirely to the Heart of Jesus", she wrote to the Rev Michael Van Der Peet, a spiritual confidant, in September 1979 that

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak."

She added: “I am told God loves me, and yet the reality of the darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?

Bush has God's Shoulder to Cry On

In response to Mr. Draper’s observance that Mr. Bush had nobody’s “shoulder to cry on,” the president said:Of course I do, I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot.

Lebanon: Army Ends “Fateh el Islam”

The siege of Nahr el Bared refugee camp is finally over. The Lebanese Army ended the warfare with the so called “Fateh el Islam” militants after 105 days by killing and capturing its remaining members. It is reported that among the dead is their leader Shaker el Absi. Thousands of Lebanese took to the streets, around the country and especially in the North, to celebrate the army’s victory. It should be noted that the original inhabitants of this refugee camp, around 30,000 Palestinian, were mostly evacuated during the early days of the siege. The militants/terrorists had taken refuge and built bases in the refugee camp before ambushing and killing a number of Lebanese soldiers. Details were mentioned in previous posts at Global Voices. The end of the clashes was the subject for many blog posts. Here are a few of them:

Harryzzz went to the North of Lebanon to check out the celebrations that were taking place in the streets near the camps. He posted many photos and mentioned the shootings taking place because of the jubilation:

And Lebanon wouldn’t be Lebanon if many civilians didn’t run around with their private Kalashnikovs. Sooooo much shooting going on. This time not because of war, but because of celebrations. Man, my ears still hurt from all this firing in the air. That, by the way, doesn’t only proof that the mainly Sunni population in Tripoli knows how to throw a party, it also shows that Shi’a Lebanese aren’t the only ones owning guns in this country.

Jamal’s Propaganda looks (sarcastically) at how opposing political parties will be using the army’s successful campaign to continue their “childish” bickering:

Finally, the military operations stage of the Naher El Bared ordeal is finally over. The politicians are all calling for uncovering the truth behind Fatah El Islam as they all think it will provide them with ammo against their foes. Of course, nothing will come out of these calls as we are in Lebanon where investigations are avoided because they endanger national unity. The only way we can find out who really was behind the funding and nurturing of Fatah El Islam is to resort to Maury Povich. Here I’m picturing Saad, 34, high-fiving the audience and being held back from Wiam, 40 some: “Told you @#$%^ I ain’t their @#$%^ sugar daddy, HO, HO, you @#%%# @$%#^ HO!!”

The army’s victory came at a heavy price according to Ibn Bint Jbeil, namely the death and destruction of the homes of thousands among other things. He also raises the question about who was behind this group which he calls “Fath el Shaytan” which is Arabic for “Fath of the devil”:

>>>> read the rest here, at Global Voices

03 September 2007

Gen Suleiman's Directive to Politicians

Speaking to Assafir, Army Commander Gen Michel Suleiman said:

This is no time for jubilation and joy. It is time to admit that this bouquet of martyrs from the Lebanese Army form actual medals on the chests of all Lebanese of all sects, regions and political spectrum.

He added that the martyrs form the greatest sacrifice of the Lebanese military in the history of Lebanon. For, had the plans of the terrorists not been aborted, we would have witnessed, in Lebanon, a copy of what is taking place in Iraq.

This, he said, is a sacrifice and “a model of national unity that is as of this moment in the safe–keeping of all politicians. They should invest in this victory through mutual concessions that will lead to safeguarding the national unity. Thousands of soldiers sacrificed and still do for this goal.

He also considered this success as a victory for the Palestinian cause and their right to return.

Blog Action Day - Oct 15

On October 15th, I will be joining these bloggers and writing something about our environment.

3alla wa 3assa!

02 September 2007

Accidents Happen, Children Die

Israeli army aerial surveillance videos show that 10yr old Mahmoud Ghazal, his 12yr old cousin Yehiya Ghazal, and their 10yr old cousin Sarah Ghazal were children simply playing tag last Tuesday in a Beit Hanun.

An Israeli military tank fired at the three Palestinian children killing them. The troops claimed that they mistook them for militants.

"At the very last second, it was apparent that they were children, but it was impossible to stop the explosion," stated the report.

Maybe their mistake was to be playing near some cheap rocket launcher. Israeli soldiers are ordered to fire at rocket launchers only when militants approach them. Their rationale: launchers alone are cheap and easily replaceable.

Two other children were killed in a similar incident last week. This will also turn out to be an accident and the Palestinians will be blamed once more.

01 September 2007

Prefabricated State of Lebanon

Talal Salman, on Pres Berri’s speech yesterday during the commemoration of the 29th year since the kidnap/dissapearance of the Imam Moussa el Sadr:

“…from here and despite all the concessions that [the speech] contained, it is more or less, a last warning, which one fears that it will not be heeded by those who the “great ally” convinces that they have legendary strength .

And that they, despite their errors, are above right and its holders, as long as the outside is stronger than the inside…

as if the “state” that the Lebanese want can be imported by the majority, ready–made and furnished with residents other than its people…”

31 August 2007

Google's 'Blogger' Used to Spread Virus

BBC technology news is reporting that Blogger, like the one used to post this piece of news, is being used by malicious hackers. The report states that these hackers are posting fake entries which contain weblinks leading to booby-trapped downloads that could infect Windows PCs. The infected computers are then hijacked and mined for data or used as a base for other attacks.

NB: The links in this post are not malicious, they were not planted by hackers, I can testify to that, honest :-)

29 August 2007

"Anti-Crise" Musical Festival - An Invitation

Our blogger friend Amal is inviting everyone to these musical events [dates have been updated]:

Hello everyone!

Our band "Hudna" or "Hudneh" or "Hedneh" - as you wish to pronounce it - shall be performing as part of the Anti-Crise event organized by INCONCERT.

Beirut- Sanayie Park
8:30 - 9:00 PM
Tyre Port -Tyre City
8:25 - 10:00 PM

We will present NEW songs of ours and other traditional songs that you love.

"In Concert" has the pleasure of inviting you to overthrow a political, educational, economical and presidential crisis by attending the "Anti-Crise" musical festival.
All concerts are free of charge and open to everybody without any discrimination. Your presence is very important to keep music culture alive in Lebanon.

Click on the image for the program of the event

تدعوكم " إن كون سرت "، للإطاحة بالأزمة السياسية والتربوية والاقتصادية والرئاسية وذلك من خلال مهرجان " بلا تأزيم " للموسيقى.
الحفلات مجانية وللجميع دون أي تمييز. ندعوكم لمشاركتنا في هذه الحدث والعمل سوية لأحياء ثقافة الموسيقى في لبنان
اَضغط على الصورة للحصول على البرنامج
Malab Balade st., Kassis bldg #20,
Tohwita- Furn el Chebak, Lebanon
Telefax: +961 1 280957

26 August 2007

Lebanon: Upcoming Presidential Elections

The Lebanese constitution stipulates that the parliament should convene and elect a new president within a period of at least a month before the end of the tenure of the presiding president. The term of the current President Emille Lahoud will be over in November of this year. Therefore, it is only expectable that the elections should be the topic of discussion of many of the blogs in the Lebanese blogosphere.

Last week, it was hinted in the media that the commander of the Lebanese armed forces General Michael Suleiman could be a candidate for the presidency. But for this to happen the constitution would have to be amended since General Suleiman is currently serving in what is classified as a Category One public service job. The constitution states that public servants in such a category cannot run for presidency. To be eligible, they must have resigned or retired and had nothing to do with their job for at least a period of two years.

The following selection of blog posts discuss the candidates in the upcoming presidential election, the foreign intervention in this election, comment on the proposed constitutional amendments and other stuff of the sort.

What does the constitution say about the presidential powers, on electing a president and on amending the constitution. Blacksmiths of Lebanon posted the articles of the constitution regarding electing a president and the presidential powers.

Beirut to Beltway posted the constitutional articles on how the constitution can be amended and added:

>>> to read the rest go here at Global Voices

17 August 2007

Thus Spake Bush or was it God?

Did you ever, even for a split second, harbor the sinful thought, that God had nothing to do with whatever is going on in your life? Especially you who are residents of the Middle East and of the United States? Well as much as I hate to, I will have to repeat what we all know: that God is runnig our lives through Pres Bush, and here the proof, for all you disbelievers:
(I know, I know, we have a lot of those around here too, but thats for another day. Let's be enlightened by one God spokesperson at a time now, shall we?)

So, thus spake Bush (a reminder):

1. I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it." Sharm el-Sheikh August 2003.

2. I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job. Statement made during campaign visit to Amish community, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jul. 9, 2004

3. I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God. Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2005

4. God loves you, and I love you. And you can count on both of us as a powerful message that people who wonder about their future can hear. Los Angeles, California, Mar. 3, 2004

There are many more, go to Candide's Notebooks for the rest of Bush on God in 50 Quotes

So now we know from whence cometh our tribulations.

15 August 2007

Lebanon: Fatwa to Ban Honor Killings

From rules on how to handle men in Lebanon to the meaning of the name Lamia, we end this round up (see previous post) of Lebanese blogs to a fatwa (religious edict) by a top Shia clergyman which bans honor killings, which he describes as a “repulsive act.”

Rules how to handle Lebanese guys
Our first post today looks into relationships. Lebanon Reporter learned that there are certain rules a girl needs to learn when in Beirut. These are the rules necessary in dealing with Lebanese guys and avoid sending the wrong messages:

Every girl you’ll see walking around in Beirut will appear to be very stuck up. But it’s not that they’re really arrogant… It’s more like a facade. If you DON’T act like you’re the princess, you won’t be able to get anything done or go anywhere. Or worse, you could be sending out the wrong message to a guy.What to do when a guy you don’t like is talking to you:

1) Look extremely bored. Raise an eyebrow, look skeptical, yawn a bit… just get good at using the facial expressions saying: ‘you’re an idiot’.

2) Pretend to be busy. Read something, you need to cross this ultra busy street right now, you’re meeting your boyfriend, whatever. But don’t say you’re married. They will think you’re looking to have fun with someone else since he’s not with you and you’re happily talking to another guy right now.

3) Ignore. ‘What’s your name’ and ‘where are you from’ might seem innocent questions but before you know it, you won’t get rid of the guy.

4) Strut around as if you own the place. Do not make eye contact.

5) NEVER, never ever smile!

Art and Mythology
Einmal-Ist-Keinmal posted the beautiful painting of the half-nude “Lamia”. The name Lamia is popular in the Arab world. Einmal ist Keinmal gives us an idea of the meaning of the name Lamia in Greek mythology as well as its meaning in Arabic. And the meanings are totally different if not opposite:

>>> Read the rest here....

Lebanon: Analyzing the By–Election Results

Are you interested in finding out the different interpretations for the results of the by–elections held last week in Lebanon? Then you have to read this week’s round up of the Lebanese blogosphere.

By–elections results
Many bloggers discussed and reported on the by–elections held last week. The elections themselves were a point of controversy. While some saw them as illegal because they were being held without the signature of the President, others believed that they should be held with only one candidate and no contestants since they are supposed to occupy parliamentary seats left vacant due to the assassinations. Some of the parties in the opposition took part in the elections while others abstained. The elections were held and the results are out and can be found on any news site. The reactions to the way the elections were held and to the results were diverse. Some of these reactions are mentioned here:

Jamal’s Propaganda looked at the aftermath of the elections and highlighted what he saw as an ugly manifestation of racism and sectarianism in the speeches that followed the elections and the declaration of the results:

In a country where there is a constant battle of what is and isn’t true, and who is true and who is truly an inconvenience. Yesterday was a full display of the true nastiness of our society. Lebanese raceo-sectarianism reached unprecedented lows; which says much considering this country was a stage for a fifteen year bloody sectarian war.
It wasn’t just Amin Gemayyel who in keeping up with family tradition found a new group of people to direct his hate at. When your hate mongering towards Syrians, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Sunnis, Shia runs out of steam; a new channel must be created. Also, why let the people of the southern suburbs bear all the brunt of condescending speech, let the intruders of the northern suburbs share the load. So take “them” out, and Gemayyel is victorious in the Metn Mountains where the true Christians reside. Sadly, many of the electoral reform scenarios circulated would encourage the Gemayyel school of thought.
Two of the bloggers posted interviews with the two prominent opposition candidates who were contesting the pro-government candidates in the elections:

>>> the rest (many more) can be found here...

03 August 2007

Lebanon: Elections, Socio-political Theories, Relief and Blogging

The Lebanese government decided to hold by–elections on August 5. These elections are to fill the parliamentary seats that became vacant due to the despicable assassinations of the past months. This decision, the nominees and the campaigns are the subject of discussions of many blogs in the Lebanese blogosphere. Other topics also discussed this week include: the Lebanese middle–class, Lebanese architecture, language and social consciousness, and why dictatorship may be the best solution for Lebanon. In addition to these, there are posts about activities taking place during summer, the border town of Ayta Shaab a year after the July war and about blogging and netizens. This week’s weblog include the aforementioned and posts that request and discuss aid given to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Enjoy:


Jamal’s Propaganda tackles the issue of the by–election by discussing the curricula–vitae of the candidates in a very sarcastic post that he begins by saying:

An election is the process through which the people hire a parliamentary representative to work for them. It is imperative in any hiring process to thoroughly evaluate the candidates for the job. A one on one interview with the candidates would be ideal. Some might argue that it would be exhausting for the candidates to answer to thousands of citizens, but isn’t that the job description of the Member of Parliament? Anyways, in a more practical world a town hall meeting style debate should be the minimum required interaction between the candidates and the decision makers, but even that is absent in our democracy since that might be considered a form of accountability which is officially a sin in all 18 religions of Lebanon. This leaves the people only one way of judging the candidates which is by looking at their curricula vitae.
Lebanon Update contends that it is very difficult to stay neutral in Lebanon. He explains his position and goes on to discuss the elections:

these days you have to have an opinion in Lebanon. It seems that these are not the times for neutrality: you are either with March 8 or March 14. In that sense, Lebanon starts to resemble a two party state, similar to the USA. There is one huge difference, though: in America, the winner takes it all, the loser’s standing small…and the losers are OK with that. Not so in Lebanon. In a suffocating way, the Lebanese political scene does not allow the winner to take anything unless all losers agree.
Jeha’s Nail also discusses the elections and introduces his analysis by saying:

We Lebanese wear our emotions on our sleeves, and we often tend to overreact with passion. Doing so, we can greedily focus far too much on the potential Rewards, and forget about the Risks associated with our actions. The Elections in Metn and Beirut 2nd District are a case in point.
Middle class, language difference, Ayta Shaab, dictatorship etc.

Remarkz posted some socio–political analysis of some aspects of the Lebanese society. In one of these articles he states that difference of the language of broadcast in the local Lebanese radio stations is a symptom of the difference in the social consciousness of the Lebanese and he gives examples to explain:

Let’s take the events of Nahr el Bared and the political deadlock as an initial environment from which media derive statements about modes of conduct. One conclusion of all this is that there are no French media outlet (written, spoken, visualized), none whatsoever, that dedicates its program to real social issues. So no wonder that you have a francophone population that is mainly unaware or oblivious of such issues but very much vociferous about hazy concepts of “independence” and “rule of law” tainted sometimes by mild racism.. Social and economic issues are indeed debated in Lebanon but mostly in Arabic. To some extent, you can find some voiced in English. This is why I would argue that the English-speaking community is already more aware of things. So some English-French speakers but most importantly readers, may be more in touch with what’s going on (Daily Star has some good stuff being written from time to time, although this hits a very narrow portion of English speakers, not those who don’t read obviously). There is no fully fledged English language radio station. I think radio is a very important media outlet especially among the average working class.

>>> view the rest here...

25 July 2007

Digitizing Eco-Tourism in Lebanon

Lebanon’s rural eco-tourism sites represent a great tourism attraction for international tourists visiting Lebanon as well as for the Lebanese themselves.

Although a relatively small country, Lebanon is naturally blessed with many eco-tourism sites of great diversity.
The first Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) navigation guide to tourism and eco-tourism sites in Lebanon was launched this month at the Ministry of Tourism. The PDA Navigation Guide fully utilizes the power of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to increase the competitiveness of rural tourism by encouraging tourists discover landmarks and natural beauty hidden in rural and remote areas. The PDA Guide to tourism provides hand held digitized maps of Lebanon with directions and guidance to over 11,000 Points of Interests across Lebanon.
Now this news may seem strange or even surreal given the current state of affairs in the country but nevertheless it was done with the hope that things will eventually get better. So if you are a Lebanese and believe in the power of prayers, well you know what to do, and God bless.

More on the topic can be found here and here.

21 July 2007

Incompatible with peace

"The problem is that Israel in its current version is not compatible with peace. Maybe version 2.0 will have that option programmed into it but until then it’ll be war." - Jamal

Lebanon: One year Anniversary of the July War

Last year, around this time, Israel was waging what it later dubbed as “Second Lebanon War” against Lebanon. So last week, most Lebanese bloggers wrote about this war. The posts were about their recollections, reflections, analysis, etc, focusing on the 33 days of summer 2006 in Lebanon. The posts reflect the diverse opinions and perspectives regarding this conflict. This summary attempts to give a sample of as wide a variety of points of view as possible. Anyway, more bloggers can be reached through links on the blogs quoted below or in previous (or later) summaries of the Lebanese blogosphere. Here we go:

Beirut Spring recalls how the war began as his family was preparing for his engagement party. He mentions how the party went on as planned on July 13, the second day of the war. In his post, which contains many links to posts during the war, he states his position at the time of the war:

We will support Hezbollah for now. We will unite behind them as long as we’re
under attack. We will not criticize them publicly. They are welcome in our
houses and in our cities. This is a time for unity, not squabbling.[but after
it’s all over]We will make it clear to the world that Hezbollah is not speaking
for all the Lebanese. We will make it well known that we will no longer accept
unilateral decisions pertaining to war and peace

For Jamal, there was more to that war than met the eye. He sees it as one battle in a long war that has and is taking place in the region. A war which he doesn’t seem to see an eminent end to:

The war did not start on July 12, 2006. I have memories of war stashed away
right next to the memory of my first electronic Spelling game that my parents
got me to accelerate my learning of the alphabet in the pre-kindergarten years
of the pre-Atari era. The war started in the year 12 b.h.n. (before Hassan
Nasrallah) and it hasn’t ended yet. The July, Lebanon’s Second, or Sixth labels
are just chapter titles to distinguish the 33 days of open military warfare as
opposed to the covert military ops that preceded and continued after that

The problem is that Israel in its current version is not compatible
with peace. Maybe version 2.0 will have that option programmed into it but until
then it’ll be war.

>>> read the rest of this summary here ...

25 June 2007

Lebanon: Almost Non-Political Questions

What are we eating? Why are our banks flourishing? Who are those clearing cluster bombs? How will Brazil help in recycling Lebanese wastes? Where are some of the children who were caught in the crossfire? What about some music? These are some of the questions answered in this week’s selections from the Lebanese blogosphere.

Let us start with three existential questions posed by Mazen Kerbaj. In his artwork [to the right] he asks: “who are we? who knows? who will fill the blanks?”

Moving on we have Prof Rami Zurayk who begins one of his article titled “O Lebanese if only you knew what you were eating” with a letter that Antoine Howayyek, head of the Organization of Lebanese Farmers, sent to some ministers in the Lebanese cabinet asking them:

why are there no standards and no controls over the quality of the imported food products: fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products? Why does the ministry not do its job and operate or outsource the quality control at the borders?

The above mentioned letter raises many other points about trade, agriculture and local production. One of these points is:

There is no way to know the origin of products sold in the Lebanese market. Most products are imported and yet sold as originating form Lebanon. Each year, 5,000 tons of white cheese is imported and sold as Lebanese cheese. Lebanese law states that products have to be sold in their original packaging.

After discussing the content of the letter, Prof Zurayk concludes that:

Supporting local production through identifying origins may be the first step of something bigger, like food quality criteria. Imagine if we took a decision to clearly label GMO-containing foods. There goes US grain, US junk food, US soybean oil, and US confectionery. The bulk of our food import bill. Now the US masters will NOT be very happy with that, will they?

>>> the rest is at Global Voices Online

22 June 2007

Rubbing the Osama Lamp

Whenever President Bush has faced oblivion — at the polls or in his approval rating — he’s had one ally more reliable than Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Fox News, Rugh Limbaugh and the American press corps put together: Osama bin Laden.

All Bush needs to do is rub the Osama lamp, and out comes the genie to restore some luster to The Decider’s Global War on Everybody.

Remember those timely video appearances by Osama before the 2002 and 2004 elections? Remember John Ashcroft’s recurrent Big Scares about impending attacks? The yo-yo use of the Department of Homeland Security’s color codes?

>>>more from Pierre Tristam


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