30 March 2007

Land Day

Land Day, known as ‘Youm al-Ard’ in Arabic, commemorates the bloody killing of six Palestinians in the Galilee on March 30, 1976 by Israeli troops during peaceful protests over the confiscation of Palestinian lands.

It has since become a painful reminder of Israeli injustice and oppression against the Palestinian people, and a day for demonstration linking all Palestinians in their struggle against occupation, self-determination and national liberation.

+Land Day FAQ

Artist: Abdel Rahman Al Muzain

29 March 2007

The World Upside Down

"O MUNDO AO CONTRÁRIO"

Isabel Magalhães, the gifted artist and painter of this masterpiece - "The World Upside Down"- dedicated it to Lebanon during the (now officially named) Israeli Second War of Aggression against Lebanon (July 06).

Thanks Isabel.

27 March 2007

Unconditional Support

I planned to write more about the Congressional Research Service report for Congress entitled “U.S. Foreign Aid to Lebanon: Issues for Congress”, but I couldn't find enough time to do so. So I'll just post some quotes and notes from the report with the link to the complete text in case anyone finds it interesting (thanks Pierre)

The Lebanese government and the March 14 coalition have always defended their claim that the support they are promised by the US government is unconditional.
The report begins, in its synopsis, by stating otherwise:

In order to prevent Lebanon’s fragile sectarian political system from imploding and to strengthen pro-Western and anti-Syrian elements, the United States has pledged to significantly increase its assistance to Lebanon. […]
H.R. 1591, the House Appropriation Committee’s FY2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, would fully fund the Administration’s request for aid to Lebanon; however, it would require the Administration to certify to Congress that before assistance is disbursed, the Lebanese government and Administration have fulfilled certain conditions placed on the assistance.
The report’s opening statements highlight the expected normal everyday activity of sectarian rivalry (or worse) that will be commonplace in the promised “New Middle East”:
As a result of conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, the current state of the Middle East has been frequently described in terms of a growing Sunni-Shiite rivalry in which Sunni Arab and Western governments aim to contain Iran’s pan-Shiite foreign policy. When applied to Lebanon, this narrative is becoming an increasing reality. […]
Since 2005, the Administration has pursued a policy of strengthening the pro-Western elements of the Lebanese government. Critics charge that the United States may be fueling civil strife in Lebanon by taking sides in Lebanon’s complex political mosaic.
When we read about the role of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the reason why is it being strengthened, we may understand the repeated calls by March 14 leaders to change, among other things, the LAF.
The Bush Administration, which has sought to pull Lebanon away from Syria’s orbit, has pledged to strengthen the LAF as a military counterweight to Hezbollah, Syria’s and Iran’s primary interlocutor in Lebanon.
Although the report mentioned that the LAF has reformed and managed to integrate Lebanese across sects under the leadership of non other than the current President Lahoud:
During Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, sectarian politics fractured the LAF along sectarian lines. In the 1990s, it was eventually reformed and restructured by General Emile Lahoud, the current pro-Syrian President of Lebanon. In 1997, Christian and Muslim brigades were integrated, and military units were regularly rotated between regions to shield soldiers from political influences. Lahoud also instituted national conscription, although that policy ended in early 2007.
One of the new roles of the LAF will be:
promote Lebanese control over southern Lebanon and Palestinian refugee camps to prevent them from being used as bases to attack Israel.
Lebanon is simply a battle ground between the US and its allies on one side and Iran with its allies on the other:
The battle for political primacy in Lebanon waged by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s March 14 government coalition and its U.S., European, and Saudi supporters against Hezbollah, Michel Aoun, and their foreign patrons in Syria and Iran is being fought on a number of different fronts, including in the economic arena.
But the US aid and support has its conditions, some of them being:
U.S. economic aid would reportedly be requested in the FY2007 supplemental request under ESF assistance and may be tied to certain benchmarks that the Siniora government would be required to meet. To assuage donors’ fears that foreign assistance would be mismanaged, Prime Minister Siniora has developed an economic reform plan designed to lower Lebanon’s crippling $41 billion public debt (which costs nearly $3 billion a year in interest payments or nearly 40% of the national budget), decrease public subsidies, privatize the electricity and telecommunications sectors, and increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10% to 12%. […]

The Committee is concerned that the government of Lebanon has not fully implemented Section 14 of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 and is concerned about reports of continuing arms shipments from Syria into Lebanon.
But my all time favorite condition is:
H.R. 1591 also specifies that no less than $10 million in FY2007 ESF funds be
made available for scholarships and direct support of American educational
institutions in Lebanon.
And my friend Z was complaining about some Lebanese learning the Iranian (Persian) language.
Just think about it. All this is happening on a little more than 200 km strip of coastal land on the Mediterranean with a total area of 10452 sq km.
Now convince me that Lebanon is not ‘qut3it sama’.

Lebanon: Spring, Art and Dilemmas

In Lebanon spring officially begins on March 21. This is why March 21st is celebrated as Mother’s Day here. Bloggers tend to post more about love, nature and sunshine, reflecting the general upbeat mood. Even the political post tend to be plans, strategies or analysis about how to make things better. I have collected a sample of both in this round up and as usual, this is just a sample. There is a lot more out there, but space and time do not permit to list them all.

Let’s begin with bloggers who posted photos of their trips to South Lebanon:
McDara posts this photo article about his visit to South Lebanon. One of his photographs is seen above. Adiamondinsunlight also took a trip to the South and came back with some photos which she posted on her blog.

Reflecting the general mood of spring and its effect, Adiamondinsunlight brings up the topic of skirts when she states:

Spring is in the air in Lebanon, and my heart is filled with anticipation at the sartorial joys of the season. During the warm weather months, I dress almost exclusively in skirts. I love their clean lines and the way they hang - and, of course, the way they swish-swish-swish when I walk.
Here, I also love wearing skirts because they remind of yet another treasured date conversation.

And so did Mirvat in this post when she links spring and love:

As the golden rays tenderly reinvade our days. As the shy Spring springs the first promise of summer and heat and fun, everyone around me seems to be falling in love. I am falling in love too.

Enough with the spring love already. Let’s move on to art. Here Ibn Bint Jbeil takes us, in one post, through a step-by-step guide on how to reach the design below of which he says:

Arabic Design is about harmony, unity, perpetuity. It is, as my late professor Dr. Gordon Bugbee would say, “A Unity that is Subdivided.” Yet it is also about a certain innate, naturalist beauty that is ironically communicated through a delicate, measured geometric aesthetic.

Read the rest...

20 March 2007

Name Calling

Operation Just Reward?
Operation Change of Direction?
Israel's committee for official ceremonies decided that the 'campaign' that killed more than a thousand Lebanese last summer (one third of which were children) will be explicitly called a war.
A WAR!
Is that what it was?
So it was not a display of fireworks?!
It was a freaking war?!
And two reserve generals and a law professor are commissioned to come up with a fitting name for it?!
Why not call it 'popcorn war' to commemorate the more than a million cluster bombs that litter about a third of Lebanon, and are still killing and maiming on daily basis.
Is it me or does this make one feel insulted?
It's like:
yeh, we got ourselves a new pet, so what shall we call it, what shall we call it, mmmm, I wonder, what shall we...?

19 March 2007

Lebanon: Meanings and Consequences

This week’s summary is a selection of posts that focus on meanings and on repercussions. For example, what does it mean to be a modern man or a leftist in Lebanon and what is the aftermath of not caring for rural communities and of not developing agriculture as a means of production. Other topics involve the new poverty rates in Lebanon and how political bickering is taking its toll on young students.

On Meanings:

Ana Min Beirut posts on what it means to be a modern man:

I’m a modern man, a man for the millennium. Digital and smoke free. A diversified multi-cultural, post-modern deconstructionist that is politically, anatomically and ecologically incorrect. I’ve been uplinked and downloaded, I’ve been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech low-life. A cutting edge, state-of-the-art bi-coastal multi-tasker and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond! I’m new wave, but I’m old school and my inner child is outward bound. I’m a hot-wired, heat seeking, warm-hearted cool customer, voice activated and bio-degradable. I interface with my database, my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive and from time to time I’m radioactive.

Jij writes on what it means to be a leftist in Lebanon (and about much more):

What does it mean to be a leftist in Lebanon? Notwithstanding the four or five remaining members of the Democratic Left Movement, I believe that being a leftist in Lebanon is centered on three basic (forcibly ideal) tenets: 1- Promotion of a secular society, where an individual’s social, cultural and historical identity is not pre-defined and absorbed by his tribal belonging. 2- Support of an economic strategy whose highest goal is bettering the lives of its most underprivileged elements (as opposed to making the super-rich even richer), and unequivocal opposition to savage and devastating neoliberalism policies. 3- Opposition to neo-colonialism and to all its agents in the region.

Bech explains that the events happening in Lebanon are a classical case of power shifts: ...

Read the rest of this and about consequences here...

17 March 2007

Notes

Have you noticed

that the number of posts, in the Lebanese blogosphere, about The Report (by the UN commission probing the assassination of Hariri) is inversely proportional to the degree to which The Report
states that the Syrian government is cooperating.

that the number of comments on As'ad's posts is directly proportional to the amount of 'praises' that he bestows on Israel.

15 March 2007

Five Fingers, Two Buttons



Lebanon: Women, Politics and the Zalghouta

This week’s summary of the Lebanese blogosphere has posts about politics, peace activism, internal tourism, tradition, feminism and how to cook moghrabiyeh. So let’s start:

In an educational and well prepared historical essay, Mustapha Mond discusses what he sees as the major reasons of the political crisis that Lebanon is stuck with today:

The time has come to congratulate the Lebanese for creating the most polarized and dysfunctional country in the world. Here we are, roughly divided into two groups busy demonizing each other. and going out of our way to reject any validity in our opponents’ views. Each side asserts some kind of monopoly to what being Lebanese really represents, and holds massive demonstrations waving the same flag, but agreeing on little else. […] Of course, as Lebanese we have excuses which include a litany of grievances. Our first basic problem has to do with our history: it is the most exclusionary narrative you can think of, as it is only relevant to about a quarter of the population. Furthermore, history books go out of their way to alienate the rest of the country.
[…] Some people will argue that history is irrelevant, that it is just a lame excuse used by those not patriotic enough, who refuse to adapt to the widely accepted paradigm. But in order to believe in Lebanon, you have to be part of it. Currently we have two well-defined camps who accuse one another of not being Lebanese enough. They are both wrong as no single movement has a monopoly on what being Lebanese really represents.

Still in the domain of politics, Tearsforlebanon reports about a group of peace activists that demonstrated in Beirut for the politicians to lay off and stop driving Lebanon to the brink of a civil war.

Beirut- Hundreds of Lebanese peace activists demonstrated in Beirut against perceived threats of civil war to tell politicians to keep their “hands off” the fate of the people. Responding to calls by 12 groups, the protesters rallied at the intersection that once divided Christian east and Muslim west Beirut in the 1975 to 1990 civil war. One protester said: “By this action, we want to tell our politicians that they are irresponsible and that the Lebanese people will not let themselves be dragged into a new civil war.” Another protester said: “To live in uncertainty about tomorrow and in continual fear is not an inevitability.”

While Hillz writes an Arabic post in which he discusses civil war and political turmoil and contradictions from which the following passage is translated:

I need to write a script that does not end. After you finish reading it, you find that you are back at the beginning. Then you have to read all over again. […]
When I looked at the new ID card that does not have a mention of the owner’s sect, the barcode on its back caught my attention. I innocently said, (yes, I was innocent once upon a time), that the sect is hidden here. I said that the future has a war in store for us. Militia men will stand on road blocks with tech–devices that can swallow the ID card and reveal the sect that is hidden in the code. I expanded my theory to say that killing will become killing according to the electronic ID card version 2.1.

With all the problems, Lebanon is still loved by its inhabitants. Check out this photo essay by NightS about the southern Lebanese city of Tyre: .....

Read the rest of it here...

11 March 2007

Stereotyping

We have all seen this award-winning photo. We received it either by email, or saw it on some blog with a critical caption of the cultural diversity, contradiction or clash in Lebanon. The original caption spoke of affluent Lebanese driving down the streets of the suburbs of Beirut to look at destroyed buildings a day after the cease-fire. A day after the summer Israeli bombing of Lebanon stopped. The demolished buildings are in the suburb (dahiyeh).

However, what was not mentioned is that these young Lebanese were actually residents of the suburbs or what is considered to be Hezbollah’s stronghold. But stereotyping made this fact so remote and removed from the original captions or comments that were circulated. Stereotyping does not allow them to be part of the “dark–non–life–loving–culture–of–death” dahiyeh. But their story was told in this interview by Kim Ghattas, a reporter for the BBC online. Their account of what they were doing that day and of their volunteer work during the war is interesting and revealing.

The convertible car was also an object of ridicule but as you read the article you will discover that it played a role in delivering medication to refugees and to those who refused to leave their homes in the southern suburbs. So this wasn't its first visit to the area.

Talk about "looks can be deceiving".

09 March 2007

Teachers' Day

Today is teachers' day in this part of the blogosphere.
And since Berri and Hariri met last night and resolved the issues over a late night meal. I shall now travel away from Beirut to meet some old foes, from different sects (spoken as a Lebanese who is in and proclaiming his non sectarian affiliation), where we will dine, drink and resolve our issues on the snow covered Mount Lebanon, the miracle and pride of blessed modern day Phoenicia.
Before I leave, this is the view from the teachers' lounge at the school where I work, if and when I look up horizontally.
Today's quiz: What is the view when, at the same position, I look vertically down?
Good luck and enjoy.

What's With Walid Jumblat

Jij wrote this interesting analysis "On Walid Jumblat":

Jumblat has bluntly asked for American political and military assistance in ridding Lebanon of what he calls “indirect Syrian occupation” (i.e. Hezbollah, the biggest and most popular party in Lebanon). He also urged the American government to move on with “regime change” in Syria.

Even by the extremely low standards of vulgar Lebanese politics, Jumblat’s speeches and declarations have an incredibly obscene and shameless quality. From casually asking a foreign power to strike his own country and assist in instigating a civil war, to his surreal “kalila and doumna”-inspired tirade on February 14th, to his earlier “invasion of the majouss” sound bites, Jumblat has consistently sustained a highly inflammatory and irresponsible discourse over the last two years. Whenever there is a need in the March 14th camp to endorse and propagate the most extremist and uncompromising message, Jumblat is ready to deliver.

Another Jumblat trademark is the notorious instability of his positions. From vehemently defending the resistance’s weapons to labeling Hezbollah as a Farsi militia, from standing behind the Bashar Assad regime to drawing descriptions of him from the animal kingdom, from publicly insulting Paul Wolfowitz to praising the American occupation of Iraq as a model that must be propagated throughout the region, Jumblat has created an unintentional parody of the inveterate spineless politician. It is difficult to find a single issue over which he has not adopted two completely antagonistic views. It is commonplace for him to reverse his opinion more than once within a few days, or within a single day, or sometimes even in the course of the same press conference.
read the rest...

08 March 2007

Liberation is a Process

Liberation is in progress.
Sorry for any inconvenience.
Your satisfaction1 is our profit. Your satisfaction2 is our profit. Your satisfaction3 is our profit. Your ...


International Women's Day, Lebanon

Where will they be? What will they do? This is what they planned for March-8-day but on March 10. Only much much more than celebration is needed. Work has to be done on the men. Where are the mothers of those boys? click to enlarge

07 March 2007

No One Here Gets Out Alive

Americans' refusal to look in the mirror presages our [their] own demise

by Daniel Patrick Welch

Synopsis: US writer Daniel Patrick Welch argues that it is not just the neocon crazies in Washington, but ingrained aspects of US culture and politcs, most of all Americans' unshakable belief in [their] own nobility, that drives [them] toward the newest chapter in global war.

I often have the dubious pleasure of listening to smug liberals whining about their "discomfort" with what they refer to as "Arab culture." There is an amazing phenomenon among Americans, so convinced of our own superiority, that we can be simultaneously ignorant about the world we dominate and yet utterly uninterested in our own history, culture, and society. The shit is about to hit the fan, folks--no more free passes for liberals and so-called "progressives" who prefer either to criticize foreign cultures or confine their domestic ire to the cabal in the White House.

Notwithstanding the innumerable war crimes committed by the neocon thugs, their little enterprise would have come to nothing without the full complicity, not to mention head start, of their "friends across the aisle," the other half of the American War Party. Nor would this glorious and historic moment in US history have been possible without decades of training, of culling the working class into the "volunteer" armed forces, militarizing every nook and cranny of society from children's fashion and toys to the Pentagon-enhanced budgets of all our major universities. Stroll through the "boys" aisle of any local toy store, strewn with plastic tanks and bombers, complete with removable missiles. Pick up a pink camouflage shirt, headband, bookbag, or any of the other items that serve to instill in our children the notion that our ubiquitous warriors are cool and fashionable. We are a culture on the warpath, though culture is a term to be used loosely.

Long despised around the globe for our lack of culture, it is perhaps unremarkable that we facilitated the looting of some of the most ancient cultural treasures in human civilization in Iraq, or aided and abetted the disintegration by air war of another ancient Mediterranean culture in Lebanon. Through it all, liberals will tsk
and cluck about how Arabs treat their women, prevented, perhaps, by their "discomfort" from stopping the impending holocaust against Iran. Dithering seems to be a favorite distraction for the US middle class (don't say bourgeoisie or you're a communist), who hold the wealth and power necessary to force change in US policy. "Usted no es nada", Victor Jara once chided the Chilean middle class. "No es chicha ni limonada." At the cusp of history, they could have acted to
prevent Pinochet's murderous reign. But they were too comfortable, too scared, too dithering.

The Arabs about whom we are talking are actually Persian, but such distinctions mean little when they are about other people. How many Muslim women have been murdered by US and Israeli bombs and bullets? How many women and their children starved and kept in murderous poverty by US-backed policies at the World Bank and the IMF? No matter: Americans are as blind to these numbers as we are to the dearth and death of culture all around us. Our national gluttony is
ruinous to our own lives, to our natural resources, and even to the planet itself. We condone and try to thrive in a culture that has raised blaming the victim to a sophisticated social science, from those who managed to escape our founding genocide to the vestiges of our imported slave population. US treatment of immigrants, of workers, of minorities, of children, is by regular measure among the worst in the "civilized" world we like to crow about representing.

And when the uranium dust from bombs over Iran wafts across south Asia, will liberals bemoan the preventable deaths of Muslim women, Hindu women, and their children, whose air, water and bodies will be poisoned for a century? This war is already started: any idiot can see it in the press frenzy now being forced down American throats. But we are experts in looking for blame elsewhere. Congressional "leaders' pontificate about Iraq, four years behind the curve: the war on Iran started when staged footage of Saddam's falling statue capped the war porn coverage of Iraq's "liberation" by an embedded press.

In fact, war porn is about all that is on the menu in a culture where news outlets paste in identical photos of "suspected nuclear facilities" in Iran and North Korea. What difference does it make, when what passes for journalism is almost exclusively filler to take up the space between the ads.

And war pimps from both "sides of the aisle" are happy to oblige, mouthing empty rhetoric that matches the press in its fury to say nothing quickly. When the ruling party can't manage to get a debate on a nonbinding resolution, it's because they aren't trying--and worse, they don't want to. But try they had better: the BBC recently
ran a story predicting that members of the US Congress, should the Americans actually go ahead and attack Iran, would be subject to arrest and detention should they venture into Western European capitals.

05 March 2007

Lebanon: Anxiety and Cautious Optimism

Most of the posts in the Lebanese blogosphere reflect the atmosphere of anxiety, pessimism and mistrust that is the general mood of the Lebanese nowadays. Here is a summary of some of the posts. An attempt has been made to include one or two light posts with brighter outlooks, but they did not drown the overall disposition mentioned above. Anyway, here we go:

Let’s begin by mentioning Lebanon’s loss of Joseph Samaha, a very prominent columnist and political analyst, last week. Many bloggers posted about the man and his works. Jamal Ghosn wrote a post about Samaha which he began with:

Life Goes On, but it must not go on dumber, less informed, mentally poorer. We were privileged to have our collective minds enriched on a daily basis by a ten minute read each morning that encapsuled decades of knowledge, a philosophical library, and a strategic eye that saw beyond all horizons. No single pen can replace these lines. We, each of us, must make up a little of this loss on our own.

It may be difficult to imagine that the Lebanese could be in the mood for love songs after hearing the news coming out of Lebanon, but that is not the case according to this post at A Diamond’s Eye View of the World, whose observation may lead us to imagine Beirut as a city enveloped in a cloud of music:

Lebanon is musical in the sense that wherever one goes, one hears music - in cars driving past, restaurants, and wafting down from apartments. My favorite musical moments come in the early mornings, as I pass soldiers stationed at various points around the city. They play music on their mobile phones - the latest Arabic love songs and the latest US hip-hop tracks. Each man I walk by is enveloped by his own little cloud of song. Men break into song here - phrases of old ballads, choruses of old love songs - when women walk past on the street. Much, much, much nicer than any catcall, or even than such memorable New York phrases as “God bless you and the mother who bore you”.

Moving on to politics, Sophia sees that the New US Foreign Policy ‘Turn’ to stabilize Iraq, by convening a conference, is taking its closest allies in the ME by surprise. After a lengthy analysis of the subject, she states that: ...

Read the rest here...

04 March 2007

In Respect

A tribute to Joseph Samaha (1949-2007)first image

One Million Blogs for Peace

The Concept
Between 20 March 2007 and 20 March 2008 (the fifth year of the war), we will attempt to sign up One Million Blogs for Peace. By signing up, a blogger is stating his or her agreement with The Pledge below. They will then be able to participate in various challenges launched by One Million Blogs for Peace. They will also be listed on this website with a link to their blog.

Bloggers may take The Pledge and sign up before the launch date of 30 March 2007 and will be declared an "Inblogural" (Inaugural Blog) of the movement.

The Pledge
I believe in the immediate withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the nation of Iraq. I believe in using my blog, in whole or in part, as a tool toward this end.

Who's Eligible
For the official count (toward 1,000,000), a blog must be based in the home country of a nation currently engaged in the Iraq War. [...]
Additional blogs from other nations may list themselves as "Support Blogs".

For more details and/or to register go to this location.

02 March 2007

Land Memory Distortion

"Land Memory Distortion"

 

blogspot templates | Tech Blog