Tuesday, July 18, 2006
"Nine civilians, all from one family and including children, were killed and four wounded in an air strike that destroyed a house in the south Lebanese village of Aitarun. Four others died in strikes elsewhere in the south."
I must admit I find Al Jazeera irritating. I can take it in very small doses. It's good for updates but the editoralizing is just too much for me at this point. For a channel that claims to offer space for conflicting opinions, it lacks an serious critical edge.
I'm not alone. The Palestinian columnist Hassan Khader wrote this apt description:
لدينا الآن أعجوبة من أعاجيب الزمن، تتمثل في مشيخة نفطية لا يزيد حجمها عن رأس الدبوس على الخارطة، لكن لسانها الفضائي المتلفز، العروبي، الشعبوي، الإسلاموي، الإخواني، العفيف، النظيف، الشفيف، اللطيف، أطول ألف مرّة من قامتها.
"We have now one of the world's marvels: an oil sheikhdom.On the map it's not larger than the head of a pin, but it's sattelite tv, which is Arabist, populist, Islamist, brotherhoodist, pure, clean, transparent, and nice, is a thousand times taller than her."
The rest of his article (in Arabic) raises important questions regarding this compulsive criticism of Arab regimes. He is not a friend of the Arab regimes, but he is wary of the alternative.
Despite the intensity of the bombing, the word going around is that things will get worse once foreign nationals leave.
Speaking of words, an Israeli official said that they are not engaged in a "war" but in a "military operation." I'm sure that will make the Lebanese feel much better.
New TV also seems to be struggling with words in relation to this war. There motto appearing on the screen up till today was "The Price of Freedom." But now they changed it to "We Are Steadfast" (Samedoun). Perhaps the word "price" seemed tastelss in light of the talk about the money Lebanon will get to reconstruct what is being destructed. Maybe they felt "Steadfast" is more appealing to the civilians who have not chosen to be the price of anything, but all they can do now is to stay alive.
Monday, July 17, 2006
On a related topic: yesterday the LBC reporter (Haydar Hweila) called in live to the station to report the Israeli bombing of a building in Tyre. He was unglued. He was breathless, gasping, and incoherent. I guess his behavior wasn't profesisonal. He definitely wasn't cool under pressure. But the horror he was seeing, of people dismembered and buried under the rubble, came through with every gasp he took. It was more effective than any pictures. What he saw is partially reported by the BBC: "The bodies of nine people, including six children, were also reportedly found in the rubble of a building in Tyre hit by Israeli missiles on Sunday. One report said they had been trying to shelter in the basement." The rest of the BBC report details the other victims of the latest attacks.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I thought a low point in the speech was his assuring the Lebanese that he has friends who will give him clean money to rebuild the country. Jee, I wonder who these are? Somehow speaking of money in the middle of this mayhem does not sound right.
But money seems to be a major theme: Iran was the first to offer to pay for reconstruction. And now Nasrallah is making his assurances. Is this in response to Siniora's declaring Lebanon a disaster area? Or a hint that we don't need the Saudis (who happened to offer $ 50 million today). As I said before, all the money will not put together one child blown to smithereens.
I noticed that Nasrallah again said that he's not asking for anyone's help. "We don't need anybody." I think this is an intersting rhetorical stand. Could it be because he's been criticized by some in Lebanon for not consulting with anybody but expecting all to bear the responsibility?It also puts him in contrast to Siniora who, chocking on tears, pleaded for help from the outside.
Nasrallah's self-presentation is effective in making him come across as "manly" and self-sufficient. Of course, in the next senetence he kind of asked for support from the Arab and Muslim street by telling them that Hizbollah is now fighting on behalf of the Umma. Still he emphasized that he's saying that not because he needs them, because he really doesn't. He's mentioning it in case they are interested in doing something to save themselves here or in the hearafter.
Mohammad Sadeq al Hussini on LBC called him a lone Arab Knight.
According to this view, then, Israel is doing what it always wanted to do: disarm Hizbollah, crush any form of resistance, and intimidate Iran. For various regional and international considerations, Israel believed this was the right moment. If Hizbollah is guilty at all, it is of misreading the situation.
This is one view.
The other view (which shouldn't be dismissed as pro Israel because it's not), attributes to Hizbollah more agency in initiating the confligration. They point out to internal Lebanese politics, to the internal pressures on Hizbollah to disarm, to the Syrian desire to return to Lebanon in one way or another, to Iran's wish to distract attention from the pressures on it for its nuclear program, and finally to the negotiations between it and the US regarding its role in Iraq.
Robert Fisk seems to be favoring the second view. This is his piece on Hizbollah's response to the Israeli attack.
Please note that Fisk at no point finds any justification for Israel's slaughtering of innocent civilians.
And I agree with him on that: regardless of what view one believes in regarding Hizbollah's role in initiation this disaster, one thing is obvious: Israel now is burning Lebanon.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
It's an interesting article because it reminds us of the difference between declared Israeli objectives and real ones (major and secondary). I find his argument interesting, if not totally convincing. He keeps saying that the Lebanese government was established with American help. Why would be Israel so eager to replace it then?
Also note that the US just asked Syria to help stop Hizbollah. Syria must be beaming, feeling so important.
He also leaves out Hizbollah's declared and real motives. He leaves out other regional players. It's Incomplete, still worth reading.
He was pleading for help. He didn't address anyone in particular. He didn't know what to do.
Friday, July 14, 2006
From Mahmoud Darwish's Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982, his memoir of an earlier Israeli war on Lebanon.
In World War I, more civilians than soldiers were killed. During WWII, for every 9 soldiers in the Soviet Union 16 civilians died. In the Korean war, the ratio was 1:5; in the Vietnam war 1:13; according to a 1989 UNICEF report, 90 percent of all victims are found in the civilian populations; for future wars, a study anticipates a ratio of 1:100.
I think these future wars are now.
You tell her she looks beautiful in blue.
You also mention her daughter waiting for her at home.
This is what al Safeer writer said about Bushra Abdul Samad, the Al Jazeera TV reporter in Southern Lebanon. She wore a blue helmet for protection.
I just can't imagine this being said about her male counterparts.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
All because he mentions the S word.
I find the accusation that he's not blaming the aggressor, i.e. Israel, ridiculous. Fisk is among the bravest journalists out there and he never shied away from describing Israeli aggression. And I'm sure he will have plenty to say about it this time too. But the moment he said the S word, he becomes a sell out (to the Hariris since he was lent their helicopter once) and is not to be trusted. I'm sorry. I fail to see that. Hizbollah wouldn't do something like this without having the blessing of Syria and Iran. To think otherwise is to be living in lala land.
Iran offered to pay for rebuilding what Israeli bombardment destroyed so far. There were many broken children among what was destroyed today. Can they rebuild them? Maybe just one?
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
The veiled Egyptian TV announcers are calling for a solidarity conference to support their demand, backed up by a court order, that they be returned to their jobs in front of the camera. Egyptian TV officials have refused to let them back to the same job and asked that they either unveil or work behind cameras.
These women have a right to their jobs. A woman should be free to wear what she wants. And I hope that these same women would support an unveiled woman if she wished to appear in front of the camera in a place like Saudi Arabia or maybe in a future Egypt. The principle should work both ways, otherwise it's hypocricy.
Related to clothes, Najwa Fouad, the once well-known belly dancer, is donating the suit she wore when she danced for Henry Kissinger to the winner of the belly dancing contest taking place in Egypt. According to Al Arabiya.net, famous clothing stores in Cairo are selling replicas of the "Henry Kissinger" suit to newly wed women who would like something sexy for the bedroom (or kitchen or wherever).
Since Shareef has boasted during the ADC dinner this year, to a standing ovation, that he played quite a role in initiating the Camp David Agreements, someone should come up with the "Omar al Shareef" briefs for Him to go with the Henry Kissinger suit for Her. This way the newly wed can have a complete Camp David ensemble. What a turn on!!
Some of us still remember the Sheikh Imam song on the occasion of that 1974 Kissinger visit to Egypt "Sharrafti ya Nixon Baba." (sorry, this is the best sound quality I could find)
I don't recommend it for the newly weds purchasing the above set. It maybe a turn off!
Some Muslim feminists and enlightened scholars have been arguing that in Islam for a woman to be charged of adultery or fornication, the accuser needs to bring forth 4 witnesses who have seen the act. They point out that this was a way to protect women from false accusations. With no such witnesses, the accuser is meant to be punished.
But the imagination of one Pakistani dictator, with the help of the patriarchal minds of some religious scholars, twisted the law into a nightmarish one that punishes the victims of rape.
The half hearted measures of freeing the falsely imprisoned women is not enough. Abolish the unjust law and spend this life and the next making it up for the wronged women.
It is nice to see Lebanese 'Oud player Charbel Rouhana establish his own artistic identity. I met him when he was touring with Marcel Khaliefeh. He struck me as a very down-to-earth person. This is one of his pieces called Flamenco.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Meanwhile, the usual deal makers are working. Jibril Al Rujoub is boasting of his influence and abilities to mediate with Mesh'al, the man of the hour.
Well, if you can make a deal between Mesh'al and Israel, make it. Make it yesterday.
Rather, he claimed, the electricity station had to be disabled to prevent the soldier's captors from having the light needed to smuggle him out of Gaza at night. It was left to a bemused Jon Snow to point out that smugglers usually prefer to do their work in the dark and that Israel's actions were more likely to assist his captors than disadvantage them," writes Jonathan Cook on "The Real Reasons for Israel's Invasion of Gaza."
I guess the MPs want inomercial films like the songs we've been hearing lately celebrating Egypt's perfection by Nancy Ajram and others.
It will be interesting to see how the film's powerful backers will deal with their noisy MPs.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Of course, the Palestinians have been saying that their land was stolen from them for decades. Nobody believes them, least of all the Israelis. Maybe now that the Israeli press itself is reporting the theft, it may make an impression.
But, then, it may not.
In this article, the effects of the second Intifada on women are detailed. One of the problems I have is that under a "fighting back" sub-heading, the writer, a Palestinian, only mentions the women suicide bombers.
Is this the only way Palestinian women fight back?
Of course not. Palestinian women fight back every minute of every day, but because that fighting is not sensationl the way suicide bombing is, it is erased from the record. A handful of women carried out suicide bombings, but thousands carry out resistance to the occupation in many other, more effective ways. When will we learn to see them?
We usually complain that world media does not report Palestinian non-violent resistance.
I think Palestinian media, as this article demonstrates, is guilty of a similar neglect.