Wednesday, February 28, 2007
But let's not forget who created the problem to begin with and why there are Palestinian refugees in Iraq in the first place.
But guess what? The story has changed. In its newest version, as reported by the BBC, the drama is now about how both sides, the Israeli and Palestinian, don't accept them. He is not allowed to live in Israel, and she's not accepted in his village.
Ok. It's the spin I was afraid of.
I'm not questioning the right of this couple to live together, be apolitical, and be happy. On that front I wish them the best and would like that same right extended to everybody, even those who are not as good looking.
What I'm resenting is the equation of the racist systematic laws and regulations imposed by the STATE with the resentment some villagers feel because one of them married a Jewish Israeli woman. The two "rejections" are not equal. The occupying state is powerful and the Palestinians are powerless. The state legislates and enforces and has an army and a huge occupation bureaucracy to carry out its racist laws. The Palestinians have nothing. This is what the article doesn't show.
So what we end up with is a bunch of cliches about "star-crossed lovers" persecuted by both sides equally, but all they want is to be left alone.
Fine. I'm leaving them alone.
by Suheir Hammad
did her skin smell
of zaatar her hair of
between the olive trees
her father lit the match brothers poured the flammable
the women they watched the women they tucked
their sex away under
skirts under secrets
in this world of
men and molotovs
family pride laid
between her thighs
honor in her panties
and no oslo accord
or camp david signing
could free her sex
from its binding
i can only pray light
a candle and hope
you were not raped
he was not rough
a relative a drunk stranger
i can only hope you were
loved once in his
arms that he touched you right
where you needed
often as you
wanted whispered loving
i hope he was sincere
where is he now
where was he when they found the swelling
of your belly proof of humanity
where was he when they stuck fists up
inside you to prove you loose
when they beat you blue
ripped each hair out your head
each one by one in the name
of god and land spit on you and
cursed the evil that is
love making can be as dangerous
as curfews broken
you join now those who won't leave
the earth haunt my
sleep who watch my
back whenever i lay
the forced suicides the
dowry deaths and
her father on her forbidden
honeymoon he paraded
her head through
cairo to prove his
manhood this is 1997
and i can only hope
you had a special song a
poem memorized a secret
that made you smile
this is a love
poem cause i love
you now woman
who lived tried to
love in this world of
machetes and sin
i smell your ashes
of zaatar and almonds
under my skin
i carry your bones
It's a good article, which is the reason I'm posting it here. But two sentences got my attention, both related to Palestinian women's invisibility.
Cook writes, "And so, the checkpoints have made potential warriors of Palestine's grandfathers at the price of emasculating their sons and grandsons."
What about the women who are standed at the checkpoint and watching that scene? Does their silence have a meaning? Are they indifferent because they are women? Does their speaking up against the soldier, who is more reluctant to beat up a woman while eager to beat up a man, also "emasculate" the men? Why are they invisible in this sentence? Is the occupation men's business?
He also says: "Even the Israeli media is starting to report uncomfortably about the soldier's behaviour, from assaults to soldiers urinating in front of religious women."
What about secular Palestinian women? or atheists? Would they be less offended by a soldier urinating in front of them at a checkpoint?
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Update 2/28/07: A third body of a woman was found in Gaza.
In this new book, Saudi researcher Mona al Munjed interviews 24 prominent Saudi women about their life experience and achievements. The elite group of women interviewed were all educated in the 50s, 60s, and 70s in the West and were supported by their families who believed in the importance of education for women. The aim of the book is to dispel western stereotypes about Saudi women by showing that change is taking place, albeit slowly, and that reform will come internally from within Saudi society itself. (more here in Arabic)
It doesn't sound scandalous. Won't sell.
Monday, February 26, 2007
What's in it for them? Forget the bs about first rate education; it's the name, the tag, the certificate that people are buying. It sounds like correspondent courses for the rich. It's a way to keep things, especially women, under wraps. This way a woman can graduate from Harvard without having to set a foot outside her country or to part with her maid. Not only that, she will never experience real university life, and the real education that comes with it.
What's in it for American universities? Again, pardon me if I don't buy the talk about we are having a "fascinating dialogue," "a unique experiment in human history," and rich cultural exchange." There's only dollar exchange here. The American universities get money, lots of it, out of this deal. According to the article, up to $ 50 million donations are given to these universities to sweeten the deals. An added benefit is that in this way you get brown people's money without having the brown people in your midst. Now, that is sweet.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
My vote goes to Tunis. Can't beat "Al Atlal," especially this part, where she says: (approximate translation)
"Give me my freedom, let my hands free
I gave you all, kept nothing
Ah, your chains bloodied my wrist
why should I preserve them when they showed me no mercy
why keep promises you haven't honored
why stay in captivity when the world is mine"
So the writer reaches the conclusion that the hijab in the Egyptian context has a different meaning from the hijab in the Canadian context. So far so good. However, she still instists that her hijab is better than theirs because it's closer to the "actual" meaning of it. Theirs is a fashion statement, contaminated by culture and reflects a "herd mentality." Hers is earnest, pure, and an individulist assertion of independence.
In other words, my hijab is better than yours because it is made in Canada.
from Sabbah Blog
"There is no Palestinian cookery in Israel because Palestinian cookery is a security threat. If a Jew eats kubbeh niyeh, mansaf or frikkeh, molecules whipped up in an Israeli Arab kitchen will race around in his body, and he could wake up one morning to find that he has turned into an Arab."
I don't believe the fear of turning into an Arab is the reason for the suppression of Palestinian cuisine in Israel. It's the fear that by acknowledging the food exists, the Israeli Jew acknowedges that the Palestinian Arab exists--as a culture, nationality, roots. The mere thought of that is known to cause major cases of political, intellectual and moral indigestion.
The problem they have is not with the food pe se: they've been Israelizing Palestinian food for decades and many Israeli Jews are Arabs to begin with. Their problem is with the makers of the food who either don't exist (Zionism) or only exist as a "plague" (right wing Zionism), or only exist to be tolerated to prove the Jewish state is a democracy (left wing Zionism).
Which reminds me: I'm making some freekeh today (also called "freek" when you don't like your guests). Goes well with the snow outside.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
May Ghousoub, feminist writer, artist, and publisher, died at age of 55 last week. I never had a chance to meet her in person, but I know her through her writings and the wrtings of others that she made available through Dar Al Saqi, the publishing house she established in London. You can read an interview with her here (in Arabic). Also check the tribute for her at KABOBfest: Remembering Mai Ghoussoub (1952-2007).
"Israeli public opinion does not know anything about it, they don't want to know anything about it. We want to compel them to take notice that this so-called security obstacle has nothing to do at all with security. This is a wall which is robbing the villagers of most of their land and giving this land to Israeli settlers on the other side,"Uri Avnery said.
"Mustafa Barghouti, member of parliament, told Al Jazeera at the protest: "First of all, it has created a very important symbol and model of non-violent, peaceful resistance."Barghouti said Bil'in has attracted international attention to Israel's "apartheid system" and sends a message to Israel that Palestinians would not accept it.He said the separation barrier was "fortifying colonialism and occupation" and has "destroyed Palestinian health infrastructure, economic and education systems".
More on the Bi'lin protest yesterday.
Meanwhile, 5 Palestinians were shot dead and 15 maimed in renewed fighting between Fateh and Hamas in Gaza.
Which is why Bi'lin is alone.
DAM, the Palestinian hip hop group performed in Bethlehem to enthusiastic crowds. DAM is made up of three Palestinian singers who live in Israel. They come from the city of Lod.
They are interesting for several reasons. For one, they try to address different audiences: Israelis, Palestinians in Israel, Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza and in the diaspora. As they say, the message is the same, but the attitude is different. They sing in Arabic and Hebrew (Hebrew when they are particularly angry) and they mix hip hop, and more recently reggae, with more traditional Arabic sound. They are hybrid alright. Their songs deal with state racism and terrorism, drugs, dispossession of the Palestinians, community apathy, women's rights, love etc. They issued their first album in 2006. It's called "Ihda'" (Dedication).
Their name means "eternity" (this is the translation on the CD) but is taken to mean "blood" by some. It's hard not to read it in English as Dam! as in curse.
To learn more and hear and see some of their music, check:
video clip: "Born Here" (Hebrew Version); (Arabic Version)
My space page (can listen to songs)
ana mali 7urreyyey (I have no freedom) (also their official website)
"Meen el erhabi ?" "Who's the Terrorist?" (video clip)
Friday, February 23, 2007
A news item reports that Nawal el Saadawi, the Egyptian feminist writer, has left Egypt because she feels her life is threatened after being accused of apostasy for campaigning that children carry the mother's as well as the father's name and for speaking up against the Islamists.
Whether she's leaving for good or not, Saadawi, at 77, is perhaps the most hated woman in Egypt. Not only is she accused of attacking Islam, but she's old, female, and ugly. I'm basing this on readers' responses to any news item about her, which make you think that she's responsible for Egyptian jail, torture, poverty , inflation, and overcrowding. The hatred towards her is palpable.
In other words, not all opposition to the regime is created equal. People like Saadawi and Kareem Soleiman are the most vulnerable because they get it from all sides: the government, the Islamists, and ordinary "good" people who don't want to rock the boat. And when Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch defend them, that defense seals their fate and confirm that they are enemies of state, nation, and god.
Got to stop reading the news!!
Despite the title it gives to the story, "Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to Jail," the article quickly shifts from the blogger to an Imam who was in an Egyptian jail for 4 years after being kidnapped by CIA agents from Italy. An Egyptian court eventually deemed the arrest of the Imam "unfounded."
The two cases are legally unrelated.
Yet, Al Jazeera.net wants to relate them on the ground that both are examples of threats to freedom of speech.
That's a useful strategy to keep the focus on the political regime, which goes after anyone that speaks out against it, regardless of their political or religious orientation. It also helps expose the hypocrisy of the Azhar.
But there are differences.
The Imam wasn't kidnapped and arrested because he spoke out against Mubarak and "Islam." The blogger was.
The Imam will receive the sympathy of the Arab street as a victim of the CIA and the Mubarak regime.
The blogger is being reviled by the Arab street although he's a victim of the Mubarak regime, but not of the CIA. CIA trumps Mubarak any day of the week because somehow when we are jailed, tortured and raped by our own it is not supposed to hurt as much as when "they" do it to us!!! As the Arabic saying puts it: "Darb el 7abeeb zbeeb" (how sweet the blows of the beloved!) (watch the Aziz Abdo video clip for illustration).
The Imam is not seen as an enemy of Islam and no one is asking that he receives more jail time. Many are seeing the blogger as an enemy of Islam and wouldn't care if he were executed.
The Imam's father didn't disown him. The blogger's father disowned him.
The Imam's kidnappers were tried. The bloggers' prosecutors are being praised for defending nation and religion.
The Imam is worried he will be arrested for speaking to reporters; the blogger was just sentenced to 4 years for speaking on his blog.
The Imam got half the article although it wasn't his day in court. The blogger was grudged a full article totally to himself though it was the day he was put away.
Are the people of Al Jazeera afraid of looking like they're supporting someone found guilty of speaking against "Islam" and therefore feel the need to hide behind an Imam?
I'm just not happy with the report. I feel they don't fully grasp the importance of the sentence. Maybe they don't like bloggers after all.
"Demonstrators marked two years of their non-violent struggle against Israel's illegal separation wall in the region of Bil'in, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Friday."
"About 1,000 people, including many Israelis and foreign nationals, clashed with security forces during the gathering. Four Palestinians were taken to hospital to receive medical treatment for rubber-tipped bullet and tear gas wounds and Israeli artist David Riv sustained a light chest wound after he was hit in the stomach by a tear gas canister."
In the meantime, "The High Court of [In]Justice ruled Thursday that it is permissible for the Israel Defense Forces to build security fences around West Bank settlements, even if the barriers cut into agricultural land owned by Palestinians."
A new study found that
Women spend more time doing housework when they are living with a partner than when single.
Men, on the other hand, spend less time on housework when they live with a woman.
Any connection between the two?
Naaa. Only a paranoid feminist would see any!
Isn't it funny that with all the cleaning women do studies keep finding them dirty?
A study of medieval Islamic art has shown some of its geometric patterns use principles established centuries later by modern mathematicians. Researchers in the US have found 15th Century examples that use the concept of quasicrystalline geometry.
This indicates intuitive understanding of complex mathematical formulae, even if the artisans had not worked out the underlying theory, the study says. The discovery is published in the journal Science.
The research shows an important breakthrough had occurred in Islamic mathematics and design by 1200.
"It's absolutely stunning," Harvard's Peter Lu said in an interview." (Read more)
The writers call the show "a travesty," offering "false pictures" of Muslims and accuse the writers of representing warm and generous Canadians as "bigots" in order to "to foster the culture of victim-hood and accentuate the chasm between Muslims and non-Muslims in Canada." The Canadian station airing the show is "making a farce of [the Muslim] community."
Read the whole thing here.
Wooo. Take it easy folks. It's only been 5 episodes. Too soon for the big guns!
Isn't it interesting that the exact same critique down to the choice of words is being made of the show from the other direction?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
A Maryland politician is trying to ban fake bull balls from hanging from trucks. Apparently, "To some truckers, they are manly expressions of rural chic. But Myers, who says his Western Maryland district is brimming with giant fakes on the roadways, calls them vulgar and immoral -- and filed legislation this week to outlaw them."
"His bill would prohibit motorists from displaying anything resembling or depicting "anatomically correct" or "less than completely and opaquely covered" human or animal genitals, human buttocks or female breasts. The offense would carry a penalty."
The American Civil Liberty Union is against the ban.
I never noticed them!! How is that possible? I mean they are hard to miss as clear from the picture above. It could be because I'm so damn initmidated by trucks on the highway that I'm totally focued on passing them as fast as I can.
Not many seem to be taking the ban seriously.
Of course, I'm with the ACLU on this one. Has to keep the door open for when women will start dangling fake giant vaginas from their cars as expression of "feminist chic."
Anyway, can you say "bill banning purple bullnuts" quickly five times? Some are suggesting it as part of the US citizenship test for Arabic-sbeaking abblicants.
A 4-year jail sentence has been issued against 22-year-old Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Soleiman for writing posts on his blog that supposedly insulted President Hosni Mubarak and Islam (in Arabic).
While other Egyptian bloggers have been arrested and beaten recently, this is the first sentencing of one of them.
8 offending posts. That comes to 6 months per post in an Egyptian jail. He'll be 28 when he gets out. Will he blog again? They say blogging is addictive. I hope it is.
The news is chilling enough. Reading the comment section on Al Arabeya site adds insult to injury: The majority of commentators think that 4 years is not severe enough.
It's really too depressing for words.
But speak we must!
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"Raise you voice with song, songs are still possible
And if one day you are broken
you must stand up like palm trees pointing to the sky
no wasted dreams..."
Meanwhile, John Dugard the UN South African investigator describes in his report Israeli's policeis in West Bank and Gaza as apartheid. He asks: ""Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group - Jews - over another racial group - Palestinians - and systematically oppress them?"
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
So Aziz, who had one dance floor hit called "Jaw Jnoun," goes to Salim with this new song that says: "you started the fire. bla bla. But I'll never love anyone else no matter what" Salim thinks, man, what a cliche. How can we make this visually interesting and get the most out of Aziz well-toned body and the least of his voice." Here's how:
Aziz arrives home and gives his woman the cold shoulder. Shot of him undressing to take a bath. Another shot of him naked in the bathtub. She disrobes, joins him in the bathtub. Some soft focus of them making out in the past. Shot of him getting out of the bathtub. But that is the boring part.
After the bath, he's still playing hard to get. But then a fantasy hits him. Hard. Suddenly, he is in a torture chamber, his woman transformed into a dominatrix. A shot of him in a hospital ward, surrounded by nurses in skimpy outfits poking at his body. Then they all prance around together. Back to torture. The woman brands him on the neck with some hot, phallic looking equipment. Images of a tribe of amazons hovering menacingly. Then a close up of his face all bruised and bloodied. Back to reality. He's in bed with her, making up. We leave, out of respect for their privacy.
Next time I hear someone say "love is torture," a bloodied, bruised, burned, and naked Aziz Abdo will come to mind. That is torture.
A report prepared by the Palestinian National Information Center has the following numbers about Palestinian losses since the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, until late January 2007:
"the Israeli army has killed 5,050 Palestinian men, women and children, wounded 49,760 others and detained 10,4000 others...
351 Palestinian women have been killed, 150 patients have died at checkpoints and 66 others have been killed due to beating by Israeli settlers. 36 medical staff have been killed, 9 members of the press, and 220 sportsmen.
the number of Palestinians detained by the Israeli army authorities has risen to 10,400 including 553 detained prior to the outbreak of the Intifada. Among the prisoners there have been 1,150 suffering from chronic diseases, 1,175 students, 330 under the age of 18, 106 teachers and 118 female prisoners.
645 civil and security installations have been damaged, 72,437 houses have been partially and completely damaged until July 31, 2006.
12 Palestinian schools and universities had been sealed off by the Israeli authorities up to August, 8, 2006. 359 schools had been shelled and 43 schools had been turned into military outposts...
848 students and educational staff were also shot dead by the Israeli army during the reporting period and 4,792 were wounded.
13,572,896 trees were uprooted, 784 stores demolished, 15,549 bee hives and 1,360 water wells destroyed, and 207 farmers' houses demolished.
30.3 % of the Palestinian workforce has been unemployed, totaling some 288,300 persons, until September 30, 2006. ..poverty rate across the occupied Palestinian territories has reached 70%...
As for Israeli violations against journalists, the report recorded 1,147 attacks.
...the Israeli army has erected 5,001 checkpoints since October 1, 2001.
... a total of 247,291 dunums of Palestinian-owned lands has been confiscated for the construction of the separation wall in the West Bank and east Jerusalem."
- the veil prevented teachers from seeing facial expressions - a key element in effective classroom interaction (There is something to it. The teacher needs to see the student's face to determine if she is bored to death, or just bored out of her mind. Does really a veiled woman in a class prevent other students from learning and the teacher from teaching? As I said before, I wouldn't want my first grader to be taught by a woman with a face veil because I do believe at that age he needs to see her facial expression. But that's not the case here).
- the necessity to enforce a school uniform policy under which girls of different faiths would have a sense of equality and identity (I have no idea what this means: why does a munaqaba threaten other students' sense of equality and identity? Why can't we see it the other way round, especially that she's among the minority.)
- security - the head teacher had said an unwelcome visitor could move around the school incognito (has this ever happened at this school? Has it happened at any other school in England? Or Holland, where a similar argument was used?)
- the need to avoid peer pressure on girls to take up wearing the veil (Is it infectious? and why is the school's business to discourage girls from taking up the veil? Do they have anything against it?)
Before I'm accused of being confused for criticizing the niqab one day and defending "it" another let me explain: I believe the law should protect the rights of all individuals, including minorities. In this case, the minority is the niqabi woman. In some other place, the minority is the unveiled woman. I can criticize the niqab, not like it, wish it to disappear, and still defend the right of a woman to wear it if she wants to, as long as she is not endangering others or infringing on their liberties.
I guess that makes me a Liberal. Ouch!
Of course, the more banning and the more fuss about the niqab and hijab, the more we will see of them. History taught us this much.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The woman made her accusations on sattelite TV. This is unheard of. She talked about the rape in detail. As a result, some are dismissing her because a truly "honorable" woman would not speak about her rape in public, won't be so composed, and won't say such details. Conclusion: either she's lying, or it happened but that crime pales next to her crime of speaking about it. (English, Arabic)
But what about the husband?
Got to wait for the next filem.
The ad, I mean press release, describes the participants as "leading dissidents" and "bold critics of orthodoxy." The chair of the meeting, Ibn Warraq, is praised as a"rationalist critic and acclaimed author." (his latest book is Defending the West against Said's Orientalism). The summit itself is hailed as "unprecedented," its aim (aside from killing me) is to "Launch Movement for Reason, Pluralism, and Freedom of Conscience." Ya. From Florida.
But seriously, the aim of the summit is no less than starting the age of Enlightenment in the Islamic world. I'm dying to go. Why would I want to miss seeing Ibn Warraq standing on top of the summit thundering: "Let there be Light." On his right will be Irshad Manji, shaking her head roboticly and murmuring, "proof positive, proof positive." On his left will be Nonie Darwish (no relation to Mahmoud Darwish) chanting, "I love Israel, and bamout fe Sharon" (she's bilingual, you see, and founder of "Arabs for Israel." Behind them will be Wafa Sultan, the
So much for secularism. They've kidnapped Ibn Rushd, degraded him, and put him in the service of an agenda that doesn't give a hoot about true reform or democracy.
They really are making secularism a dirty word.
Secular men and women who risk their lives and livelihoods standing up against injustice, who have been fighting for democracy in their societies, who have spoken out against the Ben Ladens when some were allying themselves with them--those seculars are ignored, jailed, harassed, assassinated, and called "professors of terror," as the late Edward Said was called. But these bozos are given money to hold summits, to bring more bozos from the Arab world to give them some legitimacy, and are celebrated as "bold" and "courageous."
But you know what. I won't give up on secularism because of a bunch of charlatans, just the way Muslims will not give up on Islam because of a bunch of Ben Ladens.
"According to legend, to prevent her murderous husband King Shahryar from killing her, the Persian Queen Scheherazade told a different story every night for 1001 nights.Moulay Mohammed is like a modern day Scheherazade: he tells tales of sultans, thieves, wise men and fools, he speaks of mystics, genies, viziers and belly dancers."
I thought we Arabized Scheherazade a long time ago! Next thing they tell me she's Shia!!!
While the storytellers are being silenced by TV, "The Moroccan government has blocked the internet device Google Earth so that people cannot look from above into the grounds of the king's sumptuous royal palaces." I'd like to hear a story about that! Maybe it will be called "How the King Slaughtered Ghoole Earth."
Monday, February 19, 2007
"Al Jazeera has reported statements by a Sunni woman that she was raped by three Shia-led police force members after she was detained over the weekend."
Thus begins this Al Jazeera article. Not an "Iraqi woman" but a "Sunni woman." Raped. By Shias.
But if we read further, we find that "The victim did not specify that her attackers were Shias, although they form the majority within the ranks of
In other words, the first paragraph is misleading.
Throwing a raped woman into the fray between Sunnis and Shias is bound to make things far more explosive than they already are. Al Jazeera seems a bit too eager with this kind of reporting.
The article concludes:
"Rape victims rarely come because they fear public scorn and humiliation.
A woman who acknowledges being raped risks death at the hands of male relatives seeking to restore their family's honour."
With this kind of attitude, rape can be an effective weapon not only to humiliate the "enemy" but also to break a community apart. It was used thus in Bosnia. Let's hope something similar doesn't happen in Iraq.
Not that anything we hope for regarding Iraq ever comes true.
Why is it that we Arabs only speak of women's vaginas to curse them?
Think about it:
If a man is upset with his neighbor, he curses his mother's vagina.
If a man is angry with his enemies, he curses their sister's vaginas.
If a man is pist with his political leaders, he curses their mothers' and sisters' vaginas.
If a man stubs his toe against a table, he curses its maker's vagina.
Sometimes when things get heated, violence may be added for effect as in"my foot in your mother's vagina."
Some women use these curses but are frowned upon because this is primarily male language. My not using the Arabic words in this post is part of my resistance to this language. More honestly, it is a testimony to how estranged I am as an Arab woman from my mother's tongue when it comes to my body.
It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the "everyday" context in which the word vagina is used in the spoken Arabic language.
No wonder Arab women's vaginas have such low self-esteem!! They are a curse!
We need a new body language. And fresher curses.
While this is encouraging considering the mighty efforts of the polarization industry, there are way too many people still buying into the "clash of civilizations" junk. As we well know, it doesn't take many to set the world ablaze.
I wonder what the numbers would be if they do a poll focused on women as representatives of culture. I have a feeling the majority on both sides will revert to essentialist cultural polarization.
(Disclaimer: while I do report on polls, I am well aware of their limitations and biases. Much depends on how the question was phrased, who phrased it, to whom, and why)
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Norma Khouri is back!!
She was rewarded for lying and forgery by having a film made about her.
She conned the film makers too. They deserve it. But let's begin at the beginning.
Norma Khouri wrote a book called Honor Lost or Forbidden Love based on her life in Jordan. In it she tells the story of her friend Dalia, a Muslim Jordanian woman who fell in love with a Christian Jordanian man. As a result, her family murdered her and were threatening the life of Norma, who then fled Jordan to Greece then to the USA.
Khouri landed a top New York literary agent and got a lucrative contract. Her book was published in many languages and won an award in Australia. She got a huge advance to write a second book.
Some Jordanian women activists against honor killing in their country read the book and were troubled by it. They noticed that it contained many factual errors. Examples: the Jordan river flows in the middle of Amman, Kuwait borders Jordan, and certain buildings she mentions in the book are not where she says they are. In other words, the writer didn't seem to have been in Jordan. They alerted the publisher, but they were ignored.
Until an Australian journalist got suspicious. He spent 18 months investigating and come up with evidence to prove that the book is fiction, that Khouri is an Arab American who's been living in Chicago since she was 3, that the FBI was after her because she specialized in defrauding the elderly. She was married with kids. While living in Australia she pretended publicly that she had nothing to do with them to maintain her lie that she's an escapee Arab woman struggling alone.
After her exposure, Khouri disappeared from the news. Till yesterday. Now some idiots made a film about her--she managed to con them by promising that she will come up with evidence to support her Dalia story. She led and they followed on a wild goose chase in Jordan. The movie maker is still defending her by saying how smart she is (could it be you are idiots?), that she's a compulsive liar, and that Dalia is probably a composite story of two women that Khouri then pasted together. Khouri continues to maintain that Dalia exists. (To get a taste of her lying, read this Interview with her. I find it hilarious).
It is fascinating that even after she was exposed as a fraud, some people were still willing to be deceived by her. How do we explain this?
Could it be that the Norma Khouri story actually exposes lots of people as frauds? The New York elite publishing establishment, the top notch literary agent, the editors who think they already know all they need to know about oppressed Arab women so they don't bother read the crap that is handed to them, publishing houses all over the world who picked up the book, newspapers and reviewers ...
Those people are frauds because, like Khouri, they don't give a damn about ending "honor killing" or about Arab women. All they care about is making a buck and feeling morally superiour while they are at it. As the Jordanian activists said, Khouri and her publishers have set up the cause of eliminating honor killing years back, which is the sad part of this story.
To all those who were deceived by Khouri again, I dedicate the song below: "pretty liar"
Too much talk and not enough singing tonight. Especially that the talk was predictable.
Starting next week, winners will be chosen through audience vote. So nationalism and regionalism will kick in big time.
My initial impression is that the women have better voices than the men. But they won't be competing against each other till the week after, when the 20 become 10.
Only one survivor from Syria. A coincident?
Super Star management decided that getting rid of the wheelchair-bound contestants is cheaper than constructing a ramp.
I still have a crush on Abdullah al Qu'oud. Damn! He's sooo... polite!
The best thing about tonight was the song below, which most struggled with.
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Here's the full report:
Gaza - Ma'an - The Islamic army have fiercely attacked the Mecca agreement and the dialogue to form a new government, denouncing the process as "secular".
The Islamic army, known for the first time during the capture of the Israeli soldier Cpl. Gil'ad Shalit, declared "any solution outside of Islamic shari'ah is corrupted, even if it seems that we are getting out of the crisis."
The statement added, "The political partnership is not recognizing God," and questions why the Hamas movement would agree to be part of this agreement, "which depend on the laws of the PA which do not recognize Allah… these laws are as the devils' laws of America and Europe."
The Islamic army argued that any deal or agreement with no Fatwa turns away from Qu'ran, and is void and invalid.
The police confirmed that "that the investigation is looking into "honour killing" motivations for his crime."
"Honor" my foot!!
A man kills his baby and attempts to kill his pregnant wife and they are looking for extenuating circumstances for him!!! Yes, tarnish the woman and the children with "dishonor" so the man can glow in his honor! So he can get a reduced sentence if any at all. So that the village will feel sorry for him and spit on the woman! So that his father and brothers will feel proud of him!
No. There is no "honor killing" here. There is only killing honor.
They blame Abbas and Haniyeh, since both were the leaders at the time. Abbas and Hanieyh continue to lead; no one will be punished for what happened. No one will be tried. No one will lose his chair. Tabtabeh fe tabtabeh.After all, only 100 Palestinians were killed. Not a big deal. We are used to giving generously. The Mecca meeting was the Palestinian version of "truth and reconciliation" or rather "kiss, share spoils, and smile for the camera so the picture will look nice." All, I'm sorry to say, is part of the civil war rehearsal.
If Abbas and Haniyeh have one drop of blood in their faces, they at least should resign for failing to carry out their responsibilities to their own people. This is the meaning of accountability. Bass elli esta7o matu--or rather were all assassinated a long time ago!
This article in The Independent about Omar Sharif reminds us that the Egyptian actor's career continues to stagnate, as it has since 1967.
While gambling, drinking, and going around punching people (Edward Said, in Out of Place, mentions him as being a bully when they were in school together) may have something to do with this stagnation, I have my own theory...
He shouldn't have left Faten Hamama. Nobody leaves Faten Hamama and prospers!
For those who don't know her, Faten Hamama was Sharif's first (and only) wife. She's the one who gave him his acting break in Egyptian cinema, and they were together in many movies. Of course, she's a million times a better actor than he ever was. She mostly played romantic and good girl roles (even when she was bad she was still good), never sexy ones (those were given to Hind Rustom). Yes, it's that virgin/whore complex again. Still, she's awesome.
Now, to the real subject of this post: In how many of her films was her character called Amal?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
As if forced marriage wasn't enough. Now, we have forced divorce!! So much for trying to end the day on a positive note!!
Free Fatima!! Let her go home to her husband and children!
Friday, February 16, 2007
It's beginning to sound like a vagina monologue day on this blog today. Don't blame me; I'm just reporting the news.
I hate to say "I told you so." But I will say I knew this was coming! According to Al Arabeya, a prominent Malaysian Sheikh (Abu el Hasan al Hafez: remember his name) is encouraging women to wear chastity belts to ensure a better protection from rape.
During a religious lecture, he supposedly said that women will feel "safer" if they protected their vaginas. He insisted that his aim is not to demean women, but to protect them. He reminded his listeners that Malaysian women wore chastity belts up until the mid 1960s. In other words, he's not inventing the idea, but encouraging a return to a useful tradition.
I'm sorry, but this is the "logical" extension of the argument "Punish Women to Protect Them from Men" either by segregating them and restricting their movement, covering them, or locking them in a chastity belt!!
Why take any chances, this woman says: all methods should be used simultaneously. Here's what a protected Muslim woman's day would look like: she gets up in the morning, puts on her chastity belt (in case she forgot to put it back on during the night), gives the key to her husband or brother or son, who hopefully won't lose it, cover up herself from head to toe, preferably stay at home all day, and if she really must go out, she has to take someone with her for protection. If no one is available, and she ventures out into the dangerous world, she only has herself to blame if she gets raped.
Now, can someone please tell me what such fatwas say about Muslim men? Why aren't Muslim men offended by the implications of such sexist characterizations?
I taught a short story a couple of weeks ago called "Sultana's Dream" (1905) by a Muslim Indian writer named Rokeya Hussain. In it, Sultana, a Bengali woman living in Purdah, falls asleep one day only to find herself in a Utopian society called Ladyland. In this place, gender roles are reversed. Women roam the streets freely, while men are kept in segregation at home. The justification is that since men are "dangerous" to women because of their nature, then they should be locked away, not women. No sense punishing the victim. The society is free of crime and exploitation, is scientifically advanced thanks to women's universities that taught women to master science and use natural resources in an environmentally friendly way. It is ruled by a wise Queen who won the last war (which the men lost) through her and the women's cleverness. Religion in Ladyland is based on love.
The answer, apparently, is yes. We are talking dirtier as in germier and not as in thinking about sex all the time.
It's scientific too. A team of researchers concluded that "Women's workstations tend to harbour far more germs than those of their male colleagues" and that "the average office desktop harbours 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat." Women need Clorox more because they stash food in their desks, wear make up, and deal with children. Ewwwwh Yuk!!
I'm freaked out! Just poured a gallon of Clorox on my keyboard!
BTW, it is totally a coincident that Clorox funded the above study.
And it is totally a coincident that historically these companies targeted women to buy their products. For example, the ad below caution that a married woman "must realize that there is a very common odor which she herself may not detect but is so apparent to people around her."
But they came a long way, baby! There was a time when Lysol was advertised as a "disinfectant" for women's ... vaginas!! I'm not kidding. See the ad below from 1928. (click on it to enlarge and read the fascinating text)
So it's a huge step for womankind that now women need Lysol to clean their keyboards, not to lacerate their vaginas. I call that progress!
Thursday, February 15, 2007
This article starts by saying that "a survey last week suggested that while Kenyans have an appetite for sex (what the heck does this mean anyway?), they are not good or frequent lovers" but then shifts gear and blames the women for it all.
Yes, the men sleep around, but it's because their bad-in-bed-wives lowered their self esteem: "Marriage counsellors say many women in Kenya do not know what to expect in a sexual relationship and this has caused low esteem among men who opt to have affairs."
Oh, I see. Women are bad in bed; they don't know what to expect, which lowers the self-esteem of men, who,as a result, sleep around with women (who are still bad in bed?)
Teach the women striptese, belly, and pole dance. Apparently, it works. One therapist said: ""When they are through with my sessions, they seem to have a new found respect for me." I bet.
So we hear about how the men feel, how the therapist feels, but nothing about how the women feel! Any word on THEIR self esteem?
In meetings with the American ambassador to discuss investment projects to help the Palestinians, Palestinian officials mentioned a new city to be built between Ramallah and Jericho. It will still be a city under occupation, but, hey, it's brand new and shiny and some people will line up their pockets building it!
Now, what shall we name it? Jerallah?Ramicho? Moronstown? What?
Maybe this will teach Palestinian leftists to enter the elections united next time so they can pose a serious challenge to the Fateh-Hamas monopoly and get some respect. But I'm dreaming.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Wait for her with an azure cup.
Wait for her in the evening at the spring, among perfumed roses.
Wait for her with the patience of a horse trained for mountains.
Wait for her with the distinctive, aesthetic taste of a prince.
Wait for her with seven pillows of cloud.
Wait for her with strands of womanly incense wafting.
Wait for her with the manly scent of sandalwood on horseback.
Wait for her and do not rush.
If she arrives late, wait for her.
If she arrives early, wait for her.
Do not frighten the birds in her braided hair.
Wait for her to sit in a garden at the peak of its flowering.
Wait for her to lift her garment from her leg, cloud by cloud.
And wait for her.
Take her to the balcony to watch the moon drwoning in milk.
Wait for her and offer her water before wine.
Do not glance at the twin partridges sleeping on her chest.
Wait and gently touch her hand as she sets a cup on marble.
As if you are carrying the dew for her, wait.
Speak to her as a flute would to a frightened violin string,
as if you knew what tomorrow would bring.
Wait, and polish the night for her ring by ring.
Wait for her until Night speaks to you thus:
There is no one alive but the two of you.
So take her gently to the death you so desire,
(To hear this pagan, sin/sex-encouraging poem read in Arabic by Mahmoud Darwish, go here, then click on number 3. Ironically, before his recitation Darwish jokingly asks President Abbas if it's ok to sing of love now. He should have asked our mullahs instead).
Update: Darwish has been awarded the Cairo Prize for Arabic poetry. "The committee unanimously voted for Mahmoud Darwish because he is a pillar of Arab poetry. He became a symbol for his ability to reach out to readers and his devotion to maintaining the Palestinian national identity," they said.
Hugging skeletons discovered in Italy (where else?)
The war on Valentine's Day continues in some parts of the Arab world. In the Happy Kingdom there is a fatwa against this "pagan" occasion forbidding true Muslims from celebrating it. But what is a fatwa without the moral police to make sure people are "convinced." So the Saudi moral police, which has a long religious sounding name in Arabic to emphasize its authority, warned that it will crack the whip against any woman wearing red or anyone holding dinner parties to celebrate this evil, degenerate, decadent, contaminated, twisted, monstrous day. So I guess this year Valentine's Day in Saudi will stay underground.
Now we move to that prison called Gaza. Some pagan, degenerate, and decadent young men and women dared to send some Valentine emails and poems to each other. Young people in Gaza are meant to die, not love. Obviously, we need a moral militia in Gaza, preferably armed, to nip in the bud this disintegration, or we are risking losing Palestine again. A Sheikh issued his own fatwa, which, strangely, sounds similar to the Saudi fatwa. He encouraged Palestinians to reject this love celebration because it insults Islamic values and encourges falling into sin/sex.
حث أحد رجال الدين الفلسطينيين من خلال حديث لمحطة اذاعة محلية على أن يربأوا بأنفسهم عن عيد الحب واصفا اياه بأنه اهانة للقيم الاسلامية وتحريض على الوقوع في الرذيلة، بحسب رويترز.
Upon hearing that prodcast on the local TV station, Gazan men who had just bought their wives a rose (a bunch is too expensive) chucked it in the nearest garabage can and asked for forgiveness. The wives cancelled the nice makloubeh dish they had planned for dinner, saving the chicken for a less pagan occasion. They snapped at the kids a bit before they, too, asked for forgiveness.